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Article updated: 4/1/2013 11:38 PM

Sears Centre breaks record for attendance

Arena hosted 22 events in March

By Jessica Cilella

The monthly paid attendance at the Sears Centre Arena hit an all-time high last month.

During the Hoffman Estates village board meeting Monday, general manager Ben Gibbs said the arena hosted 22 events in 31 days. March's total attendance came out to 59,041 paid tickets.

"It was a good month," Gibbs said. "A lot of people say we have something for everyone. Literally, this month, we had something for everyone."

Previously, the highest monthly paid attendance record was 40,115, from February 2012. Before that, the record was last broken in January 2011 with 31,979 paid attendees.

Some highlights last month included the Big Ten women's basketball tournament from March 7-10, a Circus Spectacular on March 22-24 and Jaripeo de Oro -- Hispanic bull riding -- this past Sunday.

Gibbs said about 29,000 people attended the six circus shows alone.

"It's a testament to what this building can do when the product is quality and the marketing is sufficient," he said, adding that the circus attendance number grew from 25,000 last year and from 20,000 just three years ago.

Trustee Ray Kincaid asked about accessibility at the arena's entrance during the circus, and Gibbs admitted that the facility did not accommodate ticket processing well.

"Frankly, it was packed," he said. "The lobby is literally not big enough for the crowd."

Gibbs hopes next year the arena can borrow the village's public works department's box offices, so ticket sales can be done outside too.

"It's an excellent problem to have, but when people have small children we cannot fit them all into the lobby at the same time," he said. "It's a challenging event, but moving some stuff outside will help."

During the bull-riding event Mexican food was served, and less than 24 hours earlier Indian food was for sale during Indian musician Adnan Sami's concert.

Gibbs said the food was well-received by attendees and he hopes the arena will continue to hold more cultural events and corporate events.

"These are all kind of emerging markets we've never touched before. It's very profitable," he said, adding that he thinks the arena will be seeing "quite a bit of momentum" in the next few months.

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