Graduation ceremonies at Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza have generated more than $155,000 in revenue since 2015 for the Luzerne County Convention Center Authority, records show.
Last month, the arena in Wilkes-Barre Twp. was the site of graduation ceremonies for King’s College and Luzerne County Community College, and the Crestwood High School graduation ceremony will be at the arena today.
The authority didn’t provide a breakdown of what each school has paid over the years. The base rental fee is $4,500, and other fees and charges are added based on security needs, the number of guests expected and other additional services, arena General Manager Brian Sipe said.
The community college estimates the cost of this spring’s ceremony at the arena is $21,966.69, college spokeswoman Lisa Nelson said.
“We don’t have an indoor venue on campus large enough to accommodate the crowd size for the ceremony,” Nelson said.
King’s College spokesman John McAndrew didn’t want to disclose the cost of using the arena for spring graduation. He said King’s moved the graduation from its gymnasium on campus to the arena several years ago because the arena has more seats and more available parking.
“Overall it’s for comfort and convenience,” McAndrew said, adding the arena also has a video screen and a better sound system.
The Wilkes-Barre Area School District will spend between $5,000 and $6,000 to have Coughlin High School’s graduation at the F.M. Kirby Center for the Performing Arts, Superintendent Brian Costello said. The district’s other high schools — Meyers and GAR — had graduation ceremonies in the auditoriums at their schools.
Coughlin has needed more seats for its graduation, and last year, Coughlin’s main building was closed because of concerns about exterior deterioration. The annex portion of the school has remained open for 11th- and 12th-grade students, and Coughlin has moved its ninth and 10th grades to the former Mackin Elementary School.
Coughlin had previously held graduation ceremonies at the arena. The cost to use the arena in 2009 was $7,416.50, Costello said.
“Both venues were very accommodating, however we preferred the proximity of the Kirby center in reference to Coughlin High School,” Costello said.
Wilkes-Barre Area School Board member John Quinn said he believes the arena has been charging public schools too much for graduations.
“It’s a shame,” Quinn said. “That arena was built with taxpayer money.”
The authority gets more than $2 million a year in revenue from a 5 percent hotel room tax. The tax helped fund construction of the arena and still funds capital improvements there.
In response to an open records request, the Luzerne County Convention Center Authority disclosed it has received a total of $155,672.16 in 2015, 2016 and 2017 from the community college, King’s and Crestwood. That total does not include Crestwood’s graduation this year.
Crestwood has not provided an estimated cost for this year’s graduation.
Crestwood officials have claimed the district has saved money by moving the high school graduation from its football stadium to the arena.
“More importantly there are many conveniences to having graduation at the arena — easy access from (Interstate) 81, cooled environment, easy access to restaurants after the service,” Crestwood Superintendent Joseph Gorham said.
In 2009, district officials said it cost about $5,100 to have the graduation ceremony at the football stadium — explaining those expenses included security, shuttle buses, portable toilets and custodians — and costs more than holding graduation at the arena.
Holy Redeemer High School also uses F.M. Kirby Center for graduation. Diocese of Scranton spokesman Bill Genello said “the additional cost is minimal” without disclosing the actual or estimated cost.
“Traditionally our Catholic schools in Luzerne County and Lackawanna County have used a larger venue, allowing for more family members to attend and share in the ceremony,” Genello said.
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Source : http://thetimes-tribune.com/news/graduations-pay-off-for-mohegan-sun-arena-1.2205051