Entertainment

Pandemic-hit Epicenter Entertainment Center in Santa Rosa is turning to Poppy Bank for refinancing and naming rights.

After suffering the severe effects of the pandemic in 2020, the family sports player in Santa Rosa received an $18 million debt refinancing loan from Poppy Bank.

Part of the loan agreement calls for the center to be renamed “Poppy Bank Epicenter,” a sign of the times in many U.S. stadiums these days. According to Ballpark Digest, two-thirds of Major League Baseball’s 30 baseball stadiums are associated with corporate naming rights.

Santa Rosa-based Poppy Bank, which also plans to install ATMs at the facility this summer, described the deal as the first partnership of its kind for a 17-year-old private commercial bank with $4 billion in assets and offices in California, Utah, Texas, New York. York and South Carolina.

The loan for 15 years closed on April 19.

“This loan has put us on a financial footing that we otherwise wouldn’t have been able to do,” Epicenter CFO Brad Bergam told the Business Journal during a May 24 tour of the facility.

The place was bouncing with parents watching the youth in the play area, the athletes playing volleyball and football on the court. Active players also worked out at the 10,000-square-foot Anytime Fitness while Golden State Warriors fans enjoyed Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals at the Victory House sports bar.

The two-story, 130,000-square-foot Epicenter on Santa Rosa’s Coffee Lane recently received upgrades that look like an ax-throwing cage. He also plans to host more corporate outings, open patios and partner with local concession operators, Bergum said.

In addition, he is adding more live music to accompany his comedy performances and will add a drag show to his live performances for Gay Pride next month.

“We want to do a lot of things well,” he said.

Bergum said that after closing in mid-March 2020 due to the pandemic, the center, which reopened in June 2021, has climbed out of the pit of operating costs.

In July 2019, the center generated $1 million in revenue. Two years later, in July, he was making $800,000 a month, about the same as running the facility, Bergum said. About 50,000 dollars of them are only utility bills.

“There was a long period of time when we didn’t have the resources to pay our bills. But we worked so hard to build this,” he said, adding that the cannabis company approached the facility to buy a site in an industrial area. “I was the most depressed in my life when I thought about it (to give up).”

Bergum said the 5-year-old business, which is privately run by a group of nine-family owners, received no restaurant incentives but received $2 million in Paycheck Protection Program funds through the U.S. Small Business Administration to support its payroll. . The loan was forgiven except for $30,000, which the center has already paid off. Epicenter has 200 employees, 50 fewer than before the pandemic.

Poppy Bank CEO Khalid Achekzai said he is thrilled to help Epicenter survive – for professional and personal reasons.

First, Acekzai has three children who love going there.

“They were excited about the name change,” he joked. After all, the name of my dad’s company is associated with one of the most fun places in town.

The head of Poppy Bank confirmed that the right to change the name will be valid for 10 years under the conditions. The Bank does not own any operational or own shares in Epicenter, except for the name. This is the first time a private bank has included a rename clause as part of a loan.

“Initially, we didn’t think about it,” he said. “When we provided them with funding, I think they realized that we are not only focused on business transactions, but that we understand the importance of their business to society.”

Susan Wood is involved in law, cannabis, manufacturing, technology, energy, transportation, agriculture, and banking and finance. For 27 years, Susan has worked for a variety of publications including the North County Times, Tahoe Daily Tribune and the Lake Tahoe News. Contact her at 530-545-8662 or susan.wood@busjrnl.com

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