When we think of victims regarding COVID-19, we often think about the human toll and the loss of life. Those especially susceptible to this invisible invader have always been the most elderly in our nation and those with pre-existing conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, breathing issues and a variety of other health–related challenges.
Initially, it was thought that the youngest of our population should have been immune from the virus, but those initial beliefs would soon be found to be false. It seemed no one was beyond the reach of the virus which has taken.
The worldwide death toll of the virus as of May 9th was 278,485 individuals and about 75,000 deaths in the United States.
The impact on our national economy is one that cannot be taken lightly, and that effect cannot be successfully gauged at this time, except by the steadily rising unemployment numbers each week as national media continue to flash them across our screens. What businesses will survive, and how the landscape will look when the dust settles from the impact of this pandemic as it continues to sweep across our nation.
One early sign of the impact of these terrible times can be seen in the recent announcement of the closing of the Southwest Florida Event Center just north of Marco Island. That entertainment center is located in Bonita Springs right off I-75 and was opened in 2016. Former local residents Richard and Jennifer Shanahan took full control of the 27,000 square foot facility in 2017.
The Center seats 900 people in the main theatre said Jennifer Shanahan who immersed herself into the operation of the venue, turning it into a huge success and booking first–class acts such as Melisa Etheridge, Mary Wilson of the Supremes, American Blues Guitarist Robert Cray and so many other top named acts and performers.
“My wife and I, along with another couple went up to the Center a few months ago and totally enjoyed the people and the experience. We were really saddened when we heard they were no longer going to be offering these types of events so close to Marco,” said Stan Niemczyk and his wife Donna.
“We got into this business by circumstance but stayed in it by choice and with passion,” said both Richard and Jennifer as they reached out to their friends and clients by letter. “Although our goals were lofty, we succeeded in building a successful event center ahead of the industry standard. It has been a thrill to develop a loyal audience who welcomed some of the top touring artists into our community and hosted their special events in our spaces.”
Besides the Artis-Naples and the Barbra B. Mann Performing Arts Center in Fort Myers, there is no other venue such as this within the area. The food, the performers and the staff provided attendees with a wonderful experience.
“There were too many unknowns in this type of business as regards to how we would have to operate going forward. We didn’t want to disappoint our clientele or the performers, many of which became friends of ours during the 3 years we provided a first–class experience for those that came out for a wonderful experience with us,” Jennifer Shanahan stated.
“The only way we could ensure our customers could receive a full refund of their monies from those ticket vendors was to cancel all of the upcoming events. We did what was right, especially given the special circumstances surrounding the challenges being faced by our customers, it was a tough decision but the right one,” remarked Richard Shanahan.
This dynamic Naples couple still owns the building, so one can only hope that someday in the future they might again be rocking the night away once more; while bringing a smile to the faces of Southwest Florida residents.