2018 City News Releases

Posted on: March 1, 2018

Smart Financial Centre Smashes Economic Projections

Sugar Land, Texas – The Smart Financial Centre at Sugar Land has exceeded attendance projections by more than 35 percent and net new sales tax revenue to the city by nearly 50 percent.

The $84 million Smart Financial Centre opened on time and within budget in 2017.  The project was identified by a citizen-led Visioning Task Force that identified the need for cultural arts and tourism amenities. 

Based on voters’ approval of financing tools in 2008, funding is provided through a unique package of special funding sources restricted for economic development and tourism purposes, with no general fund tax dollars being spent on the plaza or the Smart Financial Centre at Sugar Land, which on its own is projected to provide an annual benefit to the community of $26.1 million over 30 years. 

In the first year:

  • Smart Financial Centre at Sugar Land was recognized as a top five venue in the world in terms of revenue for amphitheaters, pavilions and arenas with a capacity of 5,001-10,000 seats – even more impressive when considering the Smart Financial Centre was only open for nine of 12 reporting months;
  • the state-of-the-art facility hosted 16 comedy/spoken word shows, 45 concerts, 34 theatrical performing arts shows, 17 community/family events and 19 cultural events; 
  • the venue also hosted a number community and philanthropic events, including high school graduations and Blue October, a fund-raiser to support local law enforcement;
  • The number of shows exceeded expectations by more than 40 percent, and paid attendance of more than 352,000 exceeded projections by more than 35 percent; and
  • Net new direct sales tax revenue of more than $580,000 received by the city last year exceeded expectations for total benefit to the city by nearly 50 percent.

“The success of this facility has easily exceeded all expectations,” said City Manager Allen Bogard.  “It is not only a cultural and entertainment asset to community, but it is funded through restricted sales taxes and tourism dollars that largely come from areas outside Sugar Land and cannot be spent on the general operations of the city.  That means our taxpayers receive the benefit of important economic development dollars that offset property taxes and fund the high level of City services that we have come to expect – all while the city maintains one of the lowest tax rates in Texas.”

The new world-class venue for performing arts, music, comedy, family entertainment and other activities is like no other in the Houston area. The venue, located near University Boulevard and U.S. Highway 59, is expected to spur additional commercial and retail growth in the area that will further establish Sugar Land as one of the strongest economies in the region. 

Further development of land surrounding the Smart Financial Centre will promote capital investment; create new jobs; enhance educational opportunities; increase tourism and provide unique destination activities; and anchor an exciting mixed-used development envisioned to include retail, office, commercial and entertainment amenities – an environment that will be attractive to major corporations, residents and visitors.

The Smart Financial Centre at Sugar Land, the region’s most technologically advanced live indoor entertainment venue, debuted with sold out performances by comedian Jerry Seinfeld and musician Don Henley. Other sold-out performances have included Dave Matthews, Reba McEntire, Sting and many more.  The venue also hosted 14 performances of the Houston Ballet’s Nutcracker in December 2017. A steady lineup is already confirmed through 2018. 

“Our goal with Smart Financial Centre was to create an entertainment destination for residents of Fort Bend County and the Houston Metro area to enjoy a diverse variety of performances in the comfort of an indoor, state of the art facility,” said ACE SL, LLC, President Gary Becker.  “Our size and seating flexibility have made us an attractive venue to a wide range of artists from legends like Tony Bennett, Willie Nelson and Rod Stewart to today’s hottest acts like The Killers and A Perfect Circle.  Smart Financial Centre has strived to be a gathering place for the community, whether we are hosting the Fort Bend High School graduations, concerts, theatrical events or international artists from all over the world.

“The overwhelming success of our first year is a testament to the city of Sugar Land’s vision and leadership, our venue staff and the hundreds of thousands of customers who have come through our doors to be entertained.”

Sugar Land’s venue has received accolades throughout the region and beyond by the entertainment industry and business sector. Billboard magazine recognized the facility as one of North America’s most notable new venues vying for top-selling tours. Venues Today named it one of the Top Five Venues Worldwide, and Houston Press called it the #1 Hottest Music Venue in Houston.

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