DECC to Close Nearly All Activities Under Walz Order as Venue Faces Millions in Losses
DULUTH, Minn.– The DECC has slowly been trying to reopen with some traditional and non-traditional events as they try to recover from the $6 million hole caused by the pandemic. But as another round of restrictions loom, management says it will have a significant impact on the venue.
Governor Walz’s new shutdowns on public events couldn’t have come at a worse time for the DECC.
“The next four weeks was actually going to be the busiest four weeks we’ve had since the DECC went into the pandemic last march,” said Interim DECC Executive Director Roger Reinert.
The facility will pause 90 percent of activities, with the exception of UMD hockey games without an audience. The same goes for a symphony performance December 5 that will be streamed online instead.
COVID-19 saliva testing will continue at the DECC 7 days a week. But will move from Paulucci Hall up to the more spacious Pioneer Hall starting on November 23.
Rienert understands the measures being taken by the governor. But wishes the DECC could stay open and take advantage of 800,000 square feet of physical space inside.
“I would argue that the DECC has had just a full array of activities going back to July 1,” said Reinert. “To this point, we have not had one single COVID case traced back to an activity at the DECC.”
After laying off over 400 employees earlier this year, the second shutdown could mean more layoffs for part-time employees. Reinert is hoping relief can come quick.
“Nearly 9 months into the pandemic, we’ve gotten almost no outside assistance,” said Reinert.
The only aid so far has been $50,000 in cares act funding from St. Louis County. Barely making a dent in the DECC’s $6 million deficit.
Meanwhile Reinert believes the DECC can make it through another shutdown. But if the new measures go longer than expected, the outlook is grim.
“My concern becomes that if it extends beyond four weeks, then we really need to reach out again and ask those other partners local and state to help us ensure that the DECC survives,” said Reinert.
One measure DECC management is seeking includes forgiveness from unemployment liability, which would relieve them of over 1 million dollars. Another option is relieving bond payments for Amsoil Arena in 2021 and 2022.