Cam-Plex Down but Not Out

One of the roads leading into the Cam-Plex with the Heritage Center in the background. (Photo: County 17 / Brooke Byelich)
One of the roads leading into the Cam-Plex with the Heritage Center in the background. (Photo: County 17 / Brooke Byelich)

The COVID-19 pandemic may have set the Cam-Plex Multi Events Facility back a year in terms of large-scale event hosting, but things are looking up moving into the next fiscal year, officials say.  

Cam-Plex ended 2020 approximately $100,000 in the black, according to Cam-Plex Executive Director Jeff Esposito, despite a near $746,000 lost due to fewer events.  

But of the entire Cam-Plex budget, averaging around $4.7 million, the facility managed to make up their required revenue that isn’t covered by subsidies from Campbell County and the City of Gillette, according to RaNae Keuch, Cam-Plex director of finance.  

Under the current arrangement, approximately $3.5 million is given by local government agencies to the Cam-Plex with 80% of that amount stemming from the county and the rest from the city, leaving the Cam-Plex to raise enough revenue on their own to cover the remaining $1.2 million, according to Keuch.  

This past year, revenues were down, but so were expenses, Keuch explained Feb. 22. Over the course of 2020, Cam-Plex managed to bring its expenses down through controlling power consumption, employee attrition, and stepping up to handle tasks it would have ordinarily hired out to complete, such as grounds keeping.  

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Generally, Cam-Plex focuses on raising revenue by reining in large-scale events, such as the 2017 National High School Finals Rodeo, which result in a mass influx of cash to the local community from attendees, making it a valuable addition to economic development efforts, according to Esposito.    

Cam-Plex intentionally keeps charges for event hosting on the low end to put Gillette on the map and encourage these large-scale events to come to Campbell County 

That helps keep Gillette competitive with facilities in other communities, Esposito said, adding that the goal of the Cam-Plex is not to make a profit, but only to raise enough revenue to cover their expenses.     

In November 2020, a series of COVID-19 related health orders from Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon and State Health Officer Alexia Harrist restricted crowd sizes to a maximum of 25 people for indoor gatherings and 100 people for outdoor gatherings.  

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Those orders have eased systematically since their original establishment, and now allow outdoor gatherings of 2,000 people and indoor gatherings up to 1,000 people, according to a Feb. 25 announcement from Gordon’s office.  

Regardless, the rise of the pandemic has lessened enthusiasm for organizers to schedule big events, resulting in fewer large events that has effectively set the Cam-Plex back a year in terms of large-scale event hosting, according to Esposito.  

That is not to say, however, that Cam-Plex has been idle during the pandemic. Even without the larger events, a little over 300 smaller events took place in 2020, the most recent being the K2 Technologies soccer tournament and the Gillette Skijoring Derby Feb. 20, Esposito said.  

“We were pretty chockfull this past weekend,” Esposito said, adding that it was difficult to even find a place to park.  

Moving into the next fiscal year, which begins in July, event registration is even higher with a total of 417 events scheduled at the Cam-Plex, he added.