Mayor's Minute

Mayor’s minute: Celebrating 10 years at the SOEC

October 10, 2018

Hard to believe it’s been ten years since the South Okanagan Events Center opened. While there was some controversy over the cost to construct the building, it is easily the greatest economic driver in and for our community.  It also took a few years to overcome the initial growing pains of an out of town management company adjusting to what our community was accustomed to and vice versa. Initial budgets were heavily subsidized but now are half of their original figures. And while it had a rocky start, today the SOEC is running smoothly and the envy of many communities.

Much of the success can be attributed to having some great staff in place who understand the needs, wants and concerns of the community. I remember the first few years of organizing the Young Stars classic and hearing the NHL teams comment on how surprised they were that a small community had such an amazing crew rivalling what they are used to in a big city. Production managers for concerts also praised the ease of loading, building design, and experience of staff.

Several years ago we challenged the management of the Vee’s to concentrate as much focus on their business and community relations as they did their hockey operations. Over the past few years you have really seen the team integrate into the community with school visits, events, and a genuine effort to be our team.  The proof is having the past two seasons with an average attendance of around 3000 fans.

The team recently unveiled a new mascot and is going out to the community to find a name. If you remember years ago the Panthers had a mascot who was a real cool cat. There were several on ice antics to aggravate the visiting team and hype up the fans. We sometimes get so wound up in the competitiveness of the game that we forget it is also entertainment.

Turning to concerts we certainly have seen a variety of acts including international celebrities, rising stars and classic icons from bygone days. My favorite concert was probably Def Leppard as the sound, lights, and production was so precise.  It was just like listening to them in high school, with the volume loud, but without my ears ringing afterwards! It was pretty cool to have artists such as Rihanna, Don Henley, Carrie Underwood, and the Tragically Hip in our hometown in such an intimate setting. We have also had a solid cross section of musical genres and entertainment events such as Cirque du Soleil, BC winter games, RCMP musical ride, and the Scotties.

The SOEC is an entertainment hub and generates an economic impact of over $34 Million into our community. If you have never attended an event at the SOEC I encourage you to get out and try it. You never know when an act will stop touring. It is also fun to experience the energy of the crowd when a goal is scored or to relive the playing of a classic tune from your youth.