Concert venues struggle to reopen despite the ‘OK’ from Gov. Whitmer

Published: Sep. 28, 2020 at 5:50 PM EDT
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FLINT, Mich. (WJRT) - (09/28/2020) --

While Governor Whitmer has given the “OK” to reopen concert venues.

With all the limitations in place, is it really worth it? Two mid-Michigan locations say, not really.

The Machine Shop in Flint hosts hundreds of bands every year. They’ve been closed for seven months and will stay that way despite the Governor’s announcement on Friday.

“On paper it looked great and the venues are now opening but it’s 20% of capacity or 20 people per thousand square feet. You would lose more right now to be open than remain closed,” said Machine Shop owner, Kevin Zink.

At full capacity The Machine Shop can fit more than 500 people. But with the new restrictions, capacity drops to under 100.

Owners say, at that point, they can’t break even.

“There’s 80 of us in the state that are grouped together as another part of the National Independent Venue Association, and everybody’s on the same page with it. It’s such a unique thing that we do and you have to be at that capacity, because the margins are so minimal,” said Zink.

Zink says they will reopen when they are able to offer the full concert going experience. He also urges people to help keep doors open at independent concert venues by visiting Save Michigan Stages website.

Zink continued to say, “I will do whatever it takes to make sure we come back.”

The Dow Event Center in Saginaw is also facing the same financial problem as The Machine Shop.

“The economic restrictions on music artists cost a lot of money to perform and with the limitations on capacity as far as 500 people here and smaller numbers in other areas of our building. It’s hard to recover the money that a show would cost to bring in,” said Jon Block, general manager of the Dow Event Center.

As of right now, they do not forsee any concerts happening anytime soon.

Some good news though, the Dow will welcome back hockey in December with new safety precautions.

“Concessions will be prepackaged to begin with, and everyone will be wearing masks. We’ve upped our cleaning policies, and we’ve acquired a bunch of electrostatic sprayers that allows us to sanitize a large space a lot quicker than what we would normally be able to do,” said Block.

They are excited to be able to entertain once again.

“We’re about creating experiences and it’s really tough not to be able to create experiences. So this is really great to be able to welcome people back into our building and give them something to enjoy, something to take their mind off the current environment,” said Block.

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