Aurora still working on new funding arrangement with Civic Center Authority

Aurora still working on new funding arrangement with Civic Center Authority

City of Aurora officials are aiming to bring forward a new funding arrangement with the Aurora Civic Center Authority by the end of June.

The funding arrangement is considered a long-term solution spending plan detailing the financial relationship between the city and the Civic Center Authority, which manages the Paramount Theatre and RiverEdge Park.

Mayor Richard Irvin, speaking during a City Council Committee of the Whole meeting recently, said he and Alex Alexandrou, the city’s chief management officer, have been “directly involved” with some of the meetings between the city and the Civic Center Authority.

“The (Paramount) theater was affected by COVID,” Irvin said. “This is too important to our downtown to let fail. It’s a longer, more involved project that we want to get right.”

Before the COVID-19 shutdown, the Paramount’s subscription base was about 41,000. Because of the pandemic, it fell to as low as 29,000, but has rebounded to about 37,000. Right now, it is the largest theater subscription base in the country.

City and Civic Center Authority officials have said the theater has rebounded better than many theaters that suffered similar fates during the pandemic. The reason for that is the partnership between the two entities, those officials have said.

In 2022, the council approved appropriating $5.5 million to the Civic Center Authority so the Paramount could cover operational costs to get fully reopened.

Earlier this year, aldermen approved another $4.5 million. The money came from federal funds the city received from the American Rescue Plan Act, and officials said that money was specifically to help theaters and restaurants recover from the pandemic.

City officials have said the Paramount Theatre and its Broadway Series brings about 500,000 people to downtown Aurora.

At the time the money was appropriated earlier this year, city officials said they would bring forward a new, permanent funding arrangement with the Civic Center Authority by April.

Chris Minick, the city’s chief financial officer, said that will be more by the end of June. He said the city and Civic Center Authority officials have met seven to 10 times combing through financial reports and looking at fundraising.