Puerto Rico’s concert, activities, and theater venues have begun to fill the agenda and foresee a positive outlook for its operations next year.
Since Gov. Wanda Vázquez issued the first executive order in mid-March to combat the spread of the virus, activities were banned at the Puerto Rico Convention Center (CC) in Miramar, the Fine Arts Center in Santurce, and the José Miguel Agrelot Coliseum (Choliseo) in Hato Rey. Also, the T-Mobile District was postponed.
After seven months inoperative, the government granted these venues a conditional waiver that allows the gradual opening of the facilities and face-to-face activities at 25 percent of their capacity.
Noelia García, director of the Convention District Authority—which includes the CC, the Choliseo, the Antiguo Casino, Bahía Urbana, and the T-Mobile District—told THE WEEKLY JOURNAL that there has been movement in the so-called Golden Triangle and that she is confident that from 2021 they will begin to see a recovery.
“Puerto Rico fared very well in the first four months of the pandemic. The early closure helped us to project ourselves as an effective destination internationally. That stayed in the minds of our clients and there is a lot of interest from the international market for our facilities. The cancellations were worth millions, but they will be redistributed for the next calendar year,” García affirmed.
Although the waiver allows them to start operating the facilities by the end of October, García underscored that shows or massive activities is not in agenda until next year.
“We understand that it is not profitable, nor cost effective, to produce an event at 25 percent capacity. We anticipate that from January of next year our outlook will be more accurate,” she stated.
The official explained that for the remainder of the year they will be hosting business meetings, trainings, and trade shows for business owners and retail businesses. “Maintaining these facilities is very expensive, with very high fixed costs. They are cost effective when activated to operate at 100 percent capacity. We want to first stimulate security and confidence before fully reactivating,” she added.
García added that the implementation of a second opening phase for face-to-face events would take place in 2021, but it will be conditioned to COVID-19 infection trend. By this date, if approved, they will be able to operate with a capacity reduced to 50 percent.
T-Mobile District to Open Doors
Federico Stubbe, Jr., president of PRISA Group—developers of the T-Mobile District—told your correspondent that the most modern entertainment venue in the Caribbean could be opening its doors by the end of this year. Its opening was initially scheduled for last March.
The T-Mobile District was built for $175 million and will feature multiple amenities, including an Aloft hotel with 177 rooms, eight Caribbean Cinemas VIP movie theaters with an 850-person seating capacity, the Coca-Cola Music Hall with a 4,000-person seating capacity, an urban zip line, t.v. broadcasting studios, restaurants, and night clubs, among others
“The Music Hall and the cinema will not open for the rest of the year, but we foresee opening the other components by the end of the year. This is an important project for Puerto Rico and we want to optimize its release. We want this to symbolize our economic recovery and we must ensure that when it’s done, the message spreads to international markets,” Stubbe affirmed.
The venue’s main asset will be the central plaza, which will feature a 4k horizontal monitor—the biggest in the hemisphere—and advanced lighting, tech, and security.
CBA Agenda is Packed
Meanwhile, Jetppeht Pérez de Corcho, general manager at CBA, explained that they are already planning several musical events and ballet shows for December and that they are in talks with several events producers who could boost their Christmas offer.
“We have millions of dollars in losses. It started with the earthquakes and then with the pandemic. From January to June, we lost over $2 million, and that’s without counting losses in the second quarter. In these times we are living, operating with limitations is better than nothing. We need the wheel to start turning,” he asserted.
Opportunities Amid the Crises
According to García, “the crises, although unfortunate, raise a series of opportunities that must be seized.” In the case of the Conventions District, closing the establishment allowed the Authority to make capital improvements for $20 million.
“During this time with the pandemic, with our doors closed, we have been able to finish the projects that we had been working on for four years. When the pandemic ends and we are allowed to open, we will have a renovated product to offer our clients,” the official stated.
Upon reopening, the Choliseo will have renovated bar areas, new areas to bolster the food and drinks segment, and a new tech infrastructure that will allow visitors to make their orders from their seats. Meanwhile, the CC will finish renovating its rooms with a tech vision.