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Coliseum Asks City to Pay Debts

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Vogt took over last June when former General Manager Larry Wilson, credited with turning around a financially moribund Coliseum, moved to Charlottesville to manage the 15,000-seat, state-of-the-art John Paul Jones Arena at the University of Virginia.

If Council approves the funds, the money will go toward operating expenses, namely tens of thousands of dollars in increased public utilities, Vogt says, and for defraying concessions made to the Richmond RiverDogs in order to keep the ice hockey team at the Coliseum. The RiverDogs saw attendance drop last year by 24 percent, Vogt says, and is struggling to stay in business. SMG has kicked in $144,288 to help the team offset rent and advertising expenses.

The city owns the Coliseum and contracts with arena-management firm SMG Corp. to maintain and operate the facility. Vogt works for SMG.

In light of other deficits — losing two sporting events and $266,000 in parking revenue due to space it gave up to accommodate the new Philip Morris plant — the hockey problem persists. The Coliseum also lost more than $100,000 due to canceled events such as the MEAC basketball tournament and the Rough N' Rowdy Brawl.

"If we're making concessions and [the RiverDogs] are losing attendance, how long will we keep doing this?" asks 4th District City Council Member Kathy Graziano. Apparently, it depends. According to Vogt, the RiverDogs' contract with the Coliseum expires next month.

In following Wilson, who managed to land concerts with Bruce Sringsteen, Cher, The Eagles, 50 Cent and Shania Twain, Vogt has big shoes to fill.

"Even though she could not deliver the Rolling Stones," 2nd District Councilman William J. "Bill" Pantele says, alluding to her predecessor's role in getting the band to play Charlottesville, Vogt promises big gigs.

The recent success of shows by Martina McBride, M”tley Cr�e and Nine Inch Nails may be a hint of what's to come. What's more, Vogt says, "We're trying to get a naming rights sponsor for the building." S

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