Since opening in October of 2002, The Mid-America Center has been one of the major event centers in the area, hosting a wide variety of sporting and entertainment events, conventions, and political rallies. The pandemic has surely affected all the local businesses in the Council Bluffs/Omaha metro, and the MAC is no exception. The event industry as a whole took a huge hit - according to results of a survey conducted in April 2020 among event professionals and their suppliers it was found that 87 percent of respondents had to cancel their planned events and 66 percent postponed them due to the coronavirus outbreak. You need not search long to find a list of events canceled through 2020, as many entertainment sites and magazines have had nothing else to do but outline everything that has been impacted by this pandemic.
A little over one year ago, the Mid-America Center canceled its first event due to coronavirus, shutting its doors only a few days later. For the next three months, very few signs of life emanated from the facility aside from security and building inspections. As the building was able to open up in June, a number of restrictions prevented many events from coming through – unfortunately, many event organizers didn’t see the benefit in a show that had a maximum capacity of just over 1,000 people within an arena that normally sits 8,000. The Convention Center side of the house was able to host a few smaller-sized dinners and really put new operating procedures into practice, but still nothing to the size of the banquets more typical to the room.
But there’s light up ahead. Tournament organizers and event planners are gearing up to get things going again, and the MAC is right here with open doors and properly sanitized seats. By the time you read this, there’s already been arena cross, monster trucks, bull riding, six dance competitions, eleven basketball games, and two separate wrestling tournaments bringing people from throughout the region to Council Bluffs for (socially distanced) sold-out shows. From hot tub expos to gun shows, company safety meetings to vaccinations – the Mid-America Center has been able to provide arena and convention center space to meeting and event planners in this time of rebuilding. With bookings for first-time events like the Mid America Gamers Expo presented by Iowa West Foundation coming this November, to familiar events that have been with us for many years like the NJCAA Wrestling National Championships that took place in April, we’re on our way to bringing live entertainment back to Council Bluffs.
Amid some private events, graduations, and corporate gatherings, there’s a lot of excitement coming to the Mid-America Center this year. Visit our website to see an up-to-date list of events or check out the UNleashCB calendar of events for information on ticketed events coming to the MAC.
*This blog was written by Robert McCracken, the marketing entertainment manager for Caesars Entertainment.