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Absence of concerts costing downtown Missoula tens of millions of dollars

(KPAX) The COVID-19 pandemic shutdown of Missoula’s concert scene isn’t just an inconvenience for fans. It also could be costing local businesses as much as $100 million in lost revenue.

Logjam Presents owner and president Nick Checota believes residents can help by bringing their support – and their wallets – to help downtown weather the storm.

The pandemic shutdown of Missoula’s growing concert scene is having a profound impact, not just on the venues themselves, but all the surrounding businesses.

“That kind of bringing people into the into town center enjoying all the food that we have now, all these great restaurants, we have now going to the bars and then go into the show,” Checota said. “That’s all lost right now and I think people are feeling it for sure.”

Feeling it to the tune of millions of dollars.

“Seeing people gather and come together is such an important part of the community, but also you know, take the Wilma. The Wilma was doing two-to-three shows with 1,000 to 1,500 people a week, most of those shows being on a Monday through Thursday,” Checota said.

“That volume of people, they go to restaurants. They go to bars. They come downtown. They shop at stores all before and after the concert. In the months of January and February when life is already slow to not have that little bit of pop for all those restaurants and bars is brutal,” he added.

Businesses are adapting as best they can, with social distancing and other innovations – steps that were even applied to a recent show at the Wilma. But with a “ten times” multiplier the setback is massive.

“One-dollar on a ticket has $10 of restaurants, bars beverage merchandise — all those different pieces. All of that’s lost,” Checota said.

“And if you think of Logjam, I mean, we sold $10 million worth of tickets last year. And if you follow that logic it is a huge number that is now absent from the economy and total spending — in total, multiplier,” Checota added.

Vintage Trouble at the Wilma. (William Munoz/Missoula Current file)

And if you extend that math to Helena, Great Falls, Bozeman and Billings, the lost revenue statewide is huge.

A hole which could deepen considerably, if Congress can’t agree on the first financial support for the entertainment industry, creating a collapse of the system.

Checota says it would help if people would contact Congress and tell them that the entertainment industry needs a lifeline.

But in the meantime, even as the box offices remain closed, he said the real help can be coming downtown and supporting local business.

“Going back to the multiplier, they can come downtown and support the restaurants and bars that have that lost revenue. The restaurant scene is getting devastated right now. They need that support,” Checota said.

“And so, come down find your way safely, whether it’s take out, outside domes, inside. Whatever you’re comfortable with. But these restaurants and bars downtown desperately need that support right now,” he concluded.

Logjam Presents has had to lay off 125 employees because of the pandemic shutdown, and Checota is worried it could be another year before the concert business returns to some normality, if the industry can survive this winter.