A year after reopening, Bridge View Center sees recovery, but “not out of the woods yet”

Updated: May. 19, 2021 at 9:33 PM CDT
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OTTUMWA, Iowa (KYOU) - Last year, Bridge View Center got hit hard by COVID-19, having to close their doors for nearly 3 months. Executive Director Scott Hallgren says they had to furlough staff and cut pay across the board just to stay afloat. “Those are steps we had to take because we were just in uncharted waters...we’re definitely not out of the woods yet.” Now, over a year later, things seem to be looking up for the venue.

Events are back, and Hallgren says every weekend through the middle of July has something to bring people to Ottumwa. “They’re going to fill some hotel rooms, they’re going to be eating in restaurants, and certainly delivering - which certainly is our ultimate goal to our community - is economic impact back into our community.” But behind the scenes, Bridge View Center hasn’t fully recovered. Hallgren says public perception might be skewed. “From the public side it may seem like everything’s fine, we’re doing events again. But we are certainly still recovering from COVID, especially on the financial side.”

Especially with a lull in Bridge View’s Monday through Thursday business. Instead of the big entertainment events of the weekend, these days are generally filled with business meetings, non-profit dinners, and education business. Hallgren says Bridge View is working on reaching out to those groups to get them back to the venue. “When we get that Monday through Thursday business back, and you add that to what we’re currently doing on the weekends, then we’ll basically be back to our pre-pandemic, normal business levels.”

However, Hallgren says weekend business isn’t quite at “normal levels” either. He estimates they’re around 85% of where they were in 2019. But with events like early May’s Mother’s Day Brunch pulling in crowds of over 700 people, Hallgren hopes to continues this progress so that Bridge View is back to normal by 2022.

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