The Southeast Event Centre will be so much more than just the home for the Steinbach Pistons. That is the message that staff at the centre and members of the Southeast Events Group (SEG) want to emphasize to the community.

Grant Lazaruk is President of SEG. He says the facility is meant to be inclusive for the entire community and will host a wide range of events. For example, Lazaruk says he envisions the centre will have pickleball games in the afternoons, volleyball in the evenings and socials or weddings on weekends. 

But, Lazaruk says there will be operating costs that need to be covered that are more than what the city has committed to.  

"Essentially that extra profit that needs to be generated to cover off those costs is generated from an anchor tenant," he explains. 

For the Southeast Event Centre, the anchor tenant will be the Steinbach Pistons. Lazaruk says the Pistons will play about 30 regular season home games, plus playoffs, from which to generate revenue. That revenue comes from filling seats and feeding fans. 

"So those anchor tenants are important to cover a majority of your operating costs," says Lazaruk. "It's up to 35 per cent of your operating requirements of the facility."

And though the Pistons will be the Centre's first anchor tenant, the Board President wants to make it very clear that they could have had other anchor tenants. 

"The big thing, it's not just a hockey arena, it's an event centre," he says. "We have a main tenant, but this facility is so much more than a tenant."

Lazaruk says he senses a lot of excitement in the community towards this project. 

Kevin Geisheimer, SEG member and SEG Marketing and Communication committee member, also feels that excitement but says he also does not think that the community has a full understanding of what is actually being constructed.

"We have nothing like it in southeastern Manitoba," he says. "It's almost an unknown excitement."

Geisheimer says he thinks the Southeast Event Centre will help feature our region on a provincial and national stage, like never before. 

"I think people, when we start to share that with them, on what is possible, there's definitely excitement that comes from that," he says. "We've been out fundraising and getting engaged with the community."

Jeffrey Bannon is General Manager of the Southeast Event Centre. Bannon says his job is to make sure that the Centre is more than just a home for the Pistons. 

"We couldn't survive without an anchor tenant. I don't think any building in North America can survive without an anchor tenant," says Bannon. "We're very fortunate to have the Pistons, but my job is to ensure what's going on when the Pistons aren't here."

Bannon says the building needs to be busy 200 days of the year. In addition to ice sports, he notes the gym will host the Prairie Basketball League and there will be weddings, socials, and banquets. But what else? Bannon says when they talk with arts and entertainment agencies and booking agents, it becomes clear that there are a lot of events in Canada that do not stop in Manitoba because there is no space.

"We're going to open that," he assures. "My confidence level is probably a 20 out of 10 right now that we're going to be busy but then we're also looking to be unique and we're looking to drive people to Steinbach to create economic development instead of just being Steinbach centric."

And what are those events that Bannon is confident they can attract?

"Bull riding, Third + Bird craft shows," he says. "Trade shows, craft shows, agricultural fairs, RV shows, boat shows, you name it."

Bannon says other events could include volleyball provincials, multi-day concert events, or a speaker series. 

Bannon admits there is certainly pressure in his position, but he calls it the best kind of pressure as it will benefit the community. 

"The new Event Centre will create the same energy we experience during Summer in the City," says Geisheimer. "Celebrating arts and culture, recreation, and business all year round, rain or shine, hot or cold."

Lazaruk is hopeful they can move into the new Centre on December 6th and start functioning January 1st. 


With files from Kenton Dyck