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City of Vancouver ups loans for PNE amphitheatre to $104M

City had approved lending $65M to the PNE for the new venue
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PNE CEO Shelley Frost looks up from underneath a model of the yet-to-be-built amphitheatre

Vancouver city council today unanimously approved loaning up to $103.7 million to the Pacific National Exhibtion (PNE) to help fund building a new amphiatheatre on the PNE's East Vancouver site by 2026.

Council in 2021 had approved lending up to $64.8 million to the PNE to build the venue, which is expected to hold crowds between 1,500 and 10,000 people.

City councillors expect that the added financing will enable the PNE to build a better venue that generates more revenue, and therefore the organization can more quickly pay off its loans. 

"There's going to be more included in the build," Coun. Sarah Kirby-Yung explained to BIV after the vote. "You're building out and not underbuilding. You're building a really great facility with all of the sound mitigation, all the sound equipment and all the back of house [amenities.] VIP experiences that provide a higher yield on revenue is another another example." 

The approved financing includes a $98.9 million loan from the city's capital financing fund on terms and conditions that satisfy the city's director of finance. There is to be a base loan of up to $77.8 million for the amphitheatre, with an estimated repayment term of 11 years.

A second loan will be up to $21.1 million for additional design elements aimed at improving attendees' experiences while also generating more revenue. The expected pay-back timeline for the second loan is five years. Finally, the city is providing $4.8 million in financing from a Hastings Park reserve fund with that money previously approved for planning and design work.

Vancouver’s Revery Architecture has been finalizing designs for the facility.

PNE CEO Shelley Frost told BIV in April that she is forecasting a $4 million surplus at the PNE this year. She anticipates that much of the money to repay the city will come from selling naming rights – for the entire amphitheatre, and for separate parts, such as the stage. 

Event planners told BIV in April that they are excited to soon have the amphiatheatre as an option for future events. 

“Amphitheatres, or sheds, as they’re sometimes called in the U.S., fulfill a great programming slot for acts that are not big enough to fill an arena but are too big for Malkin Bowl or the Queen Elizabeth Theatre,” said BrandLive principal Paul Runnals, who books shows for artists and plans large events. “It’s a great intermediate size.”

gkorstrom@biv.com

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