OK, here's a REAL Cosi question


Here's a little number crunchin' that all the hand wringers out there (Carty and Johnny Robby Block included) aren't talking about.

COSI pays $1 per year rent.

COSI's utilities are taken care of by Toledo Edison

COSI's executive board are all volunteers

COSI claims to have 250,000 visitors per year.

Admission at COSI = $9 for Adults, $7 for kids, and $8 for Seniors.

Ok, instead of just adding up those admission rates and dividing them by three for an average, lets weight it a bit toward the lesser, because COSI will say that most of their admissions go to kids. Just for S's & G's, I'll choose $7.50 for a weighted average admission price.

7.50 x 250,000 = 1,875,000

Take away annual rent, utilities and executive payroll, you still have $1,874,999(ish) to work with.

So we're supposed to believe that with damn near $2 million per annum from admissions per year they cant make a go of it?? That they cant afford to "refresh" their exhibits?? Where the hell is all the money going then??

Sorry folks. Sorry Carty. Sorry Toledo Blade... If the people who run COSI cant run a business with this kind of money then the citizens of Toledo were RIGHT to vote the levy down. (TWICE)

And if my numbers are incorrect, talk to the people who wanted your tax bucks - theyre the ones who supplied them.

No votes yet

This link, http://www.cositoledo.org/membership.htm, shows the cost of memberships in Toledo COSI. This link, http://www.toledoblade.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060106/NEWS16/60..., shows the revenues in 2006. According to this link, http://www.toledoblade.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20071109/NEWS16/71..., about 3900 people had memberships. I would like to see a posted audit myself. But I won

Old South End Broadway

was $3.2 million. So how much for heat, a/c (at least $20,000 a month in summer), salaries (22 x $30,000 a year with benefits, but probably more since no professor works for $30,000 a year), insurance (some damn fool kid is going to do something some day), and pay off the debts they incurred from getting loans from the state (anyone find out how much they still owe on the $10 million they took out in the 90's plus the close to a million they got a couple of years ago). They should have doubled their charge to the public, and took their chances.

Old South End Broadway

...benefits) when he resigned. If the present head receives half that I'll be surprised. If he returns to a university he'll probably receive a nice "raise" in salary compared to working for something like COSI. So we probably did him a favor when we didn't okay the levy. I feel sorry for the kids, bur reality is reality. If it's a business then you have to at least break even. They should have raised the ticket price.

Old South End Broadway

Way to go Billy, makes you wonder what happens to people who can't make it in business.

This could have been a gold mine to a quartet of a leader, a manager, a bean counter, a sales network guy! C'Mon how hard is it to sell downtown waterfront excitement, have free electric, $1 annaul rent, no local taxes, access to non-profit resources, and not make significant net.

This place now has foundation written all over it! Amazing potential to a group with a vision and the ability to make decisions!

Worst case scenario is an incubator for high tech global business.

As far as HVAC, replace the top glass with high RF Architectual Flat Glass.

Also makes you wonder how strong Kaptur is in Congress.

that link from last year. Dr. Walsh sounds like a jackass, pointing fingers towards others. I mean, as board chair you don't know the agreed upon contract of your CEO? What a joke...

Go to Guidestar.com and check out COSI's 990s (or any other non-profit's). They can give you exact totals for some of your estimates.

There are lots of costs that are missing in the estimates above. 22 is probably their full time number, not including part time. Depreciation, exhibit maintenance, and facility costs are astronomical. School kids (maybe 1/3 of the attendance per year) pay like 2 bucks less. Benefits and payroll tax add on to any staffing costs. Insurance has to be big. Etc. Check out their 990s to find out specifics.

I printed out all 29 pages of their Form 990. Apparently, they tried to run it in a business-like fashion instead of out of the trunk of their car. But it doesn't matter. They failed, and there will always be those who second-guess their efforts. Though I doubt any of the nay-sayers ran businesses themselves that actually dealt with the public. Kibitzing is easier than playing the game.

Old South End Broadway

Is occupancy (line 36, Form 990) the same as rent? They paid $392,534 for that. I thought they only paid $1.00 rent?

Old South End Broadway

They paid $258,233 for "marketing". Sounds like a rip-off to me.

Old South End Broadway

...was $116,490, and Line 26 Other salaries and wages had $1,190,352. If everyone had worked for free they could have kept working. The damn ingrates.

Old South End Broadway

... $349,617. The store-keepers must have seen these rubes coming a mile away. $5.00 a pen, and a $1.00 a pencil.

Old South End Broadway

No prob, brady! 990s are a great way to peek at a non-profit's particulars.....

I think that occupancy includes heat, water, and other facility costs of occupying the building. Damn, that's a lot of money!

... from the state would be tabulated. Even if no money was received from the state this year you would have thought that some money would be going back. Maybe they were only required to "pledge" the physical assets (the exhibits), and it was left at that. I always thought businesses were "businesslike". Maybe there's less to being a businessman than I thought. Just make up a contract between 'buds' and screw the public.

Old South End Broadway

... officers (total number of employees paid over $50,000), Schedule A, Part I: Avg hours 40 each, $85,922, $52,390, and $52,624. Compensation to the five highest paid contractors (over $50,000): ACT Group, Sylvania, $72,500. I always like them there consulting jobs.

Old South End Broadway

1) Attendance. Yes, they have averaged about 250,000 per year over the past 10 years. HOWEVER - big one, here, folks - in the first two years they had about 725,000 visitors. So, deduct that from the 2 million and then divide by the 8 years remaining and you'll see they averaged only about 160,000 over the past 8 years. Now, they had significant decreases in attendance (5% in May of 2001 over the 2000-01 amount) and then add in the decline in 2001 as a result of September 11th and you'll see that these 'AVERAGES' really don't give us a good understanding of the actual attendance year by year. There are some who speculate that the most recent attendance numbers - say over the past 3-4 years - might be even lower.

- and then there are the members who can attend for free. How many of the daily attendance is made up of members, or those with reciprocity (like my friends from Ann Arbor who get in free with their Children's Museum membership card)?

2) Original bonds issued by the Ohio Cultural Facilities Commission. The question about these bonds is who actually pays these. Are they paid for by the facility, the city or the state? While these bonds are 'active' the facility has to maintain a 'cultural' asset. But this begs the question of what happens when the bonds are paid off and is it possible to sell the facility and pay off the bonds, thus eliminating this requirment. The stickler is that the city owns the facility so if the debt on the bonds is paid by COSI, would Toledo want to take any of their profits from the sale of the building to pay off COSI's debt?

3) Toledo Edison's costs are not 'taken care of' - they were being deferred, which means that COSI is incurring more debt every month. How much has been estimated at about $20,000 per month - so will Toledo Edison eventually ask for that to be paid? And, since the city owns the building, will they end up paying the utilities? (I believe they already cover the cost of water/sewer/etc.)

4) COSI pays no property taxes. If the building were sold to a for-profit endeavor, it would generate more money for the city/county/levies/etc.

I knew the info was out there some where.


Maggie, I don't think you can play with the posted attendance figures that way. It appears as if they are talking about averaging 250,000 over the past few years, not over the past 10.

If Portside went to a for-profit endeavor, most likely it would be throught tax abatements and other incentives, which upon expiring would mean that business would pack up and move to Perrysburg. Isn't THAT the true Toledo way ;)

I'm having some trouble with my computer so I wasn't able to go back on the Form 990's as I would like. I easily accessed those for fiscal years 2004, 2005, and 2006. The one for 2004 shows the support going back to 1999. Part IV-A, Support Schedule gives the following figures:
Line 15 (gifts, grants, and contributions received) 1999, $962,987, 2000, $1,033,604,2001, $756,046,2002, $481,890, 2003,$643,742, 2004, $1,792,965,2005, $970,040.

Line 16, Memberships, 1999, $454,387 (big year), 2000, $378,263, 2001, $357,040, 2002, $350,989, 2003, 2004, $308,252 (bad year), 2005, $293,786 (worse), 2006, $234,000.

It seems as though gifts, grants, and contributions had more to do with the bottom line than memerships (which were pretty consistent).

Line 17 (gross receipts from admissions, merchandise sold or services performed, or furnishing facilities to the organization's charitable purpose) 1999, $2,184, 028, 2000, $2,182,073, 2001, $2,183,278,2002, $2,230,768, 2003, $2,133,514,2004,$1,810,170 (bad year), 2005, $2,774,636 (this is from Total Revenue, page 1, 2005, so it may be inflated for this year).

Line 18 (gross income from interest, dividends, amts received from payments on securities, loans, etc.) 1999, $171,827, 2000, $196,407, 2001, $171,279, 2002, $55,503 (bad year), 2003, $17,728 (really bad year), 2004, $203,641, 2005, $24, 085 (line 5, Page 1, 2005 Form 990). Some years they did well on investments, and poorly on others.

Line 24 (Support minus gross receipts) 1999, $1,601,949, 2000, $1,621,939, 2001, $1,284,365, 2002, $888,382, 2003, $993,357, 2004, $2,304,258. Most support seems to come from other than gross receipts. The business wasn't paying for itself.

Old South End Broadway

... but when you total support from 1999-2004 minus gross receipts (part of the support) you get figures of $21,418,081 for total support minus $8,640,250 in gross receipts. Most of the support seemed to be coming from gifts rather than people actually using the facility.

I don't know what kind of a better "business model" could have been adopted. For those who go to COSI it was a good thing. I've gone twice myself.

But is twice in 10 years enough to keep a business going. I am not buying a car. This model comes close to a movie theater. Could movie theaters stay open if they relied on a patron coming twice in 10 years. I don't think so.

Old South End Broadway

... would have been to set up COSI based on what income could be generated from "gifts". Instead, of relying on revenue that might never appear, bite the bullet, and base the facility on gifts from those who die. It might not be a grand facility, but it would have been solvent.

Old South End Broadway

...far out of whack. In 2003 Total Expenses were $4,051,027 and total revenue was $3,151,042. In 2004 total expenses were $4,142,184 and total revenue was $3,750,958. In 2005 total expenses were $3,791,662 and total revenue was $2,774,636. In just those three years I'm seeing a defict of $2.5 million. How often has COSI had a surplus to put to these deficits?

The plug should have been pulled several years ago. Portside should be torn down before someone gets another bright idea. It's less costly as fallow ground than as a "non-profit" (have any truer words been spoken), or someone's idea of a "business venture". Give it to Dillard. His competitors will thank us.

Old South End Broadway

"The month of March kicks off our yearlong Anniversary celebration. Can you believe that 10 years have already gone by? We've added all kinds of new exhibits, like the Giant Pin Screen, the BOYO, and BUBBLES, to name just a few; we've had all kinds of great traveling exhibits throughout the years, including A T-Rex Named SUE, Grossology, and Dinosaurs of the Deep; and we've had over 3.2 million visitors walk through our doors to experience this amazing, one-of-a-kind, hands-on science museum."


Excerpt from March 2007 calendar, Member's news. 3.2 million visitors over 10 years, not 2 million. I've been looking for the original blade posting from awhile back, but they surpassed two million visitors like 4 years ago. I'm guessing you're looking at an old press release that's on their page, or cached and accessible via google. If you go from 3.2 million visitors, take out like 3 years of of 350,000 or so, for the remaining 7 years you'd have an average of around 300,000, right? Now, these are just spittballin' quotes thrown out to media, so averaging 250,000 over the past few years is entirely possible.

...if we look at the total revenue for 2003, 2004, and 2005 (these are the only ones I could find). I will make some assumptions:1. membership was at 4,000 a year (it was probably actually less) at $60 per year; 2. Each visiting group consisted of two parents and two children for a total of $33 (2 adults @ 9.00 and 2 children @ 7.50); 3. Each "family" spent $7.00 per visit, or a total of $40.00.

2003 Total expenses $4,051,027 (from Form 990) - $240,000 for members = $3,811,027 divided by $40 x 4 in a family=381,102 paying visitors needed to break even.

2004 Total expenses $3,151,042 -$240,000 for members =$2,911,042 divided by $40 per family x 4 in a family =291,104 paying visitors needed to break even.

2005 Total expenses $3,791,662 -$240,000 for members = $3,551,662 divided by $40 per family x 4 in a family = 355,166 paying visitors needed to break even.

COSI will never break even. It will always depend on the charity of givers, and the well apparently has dried up.

Old South End Broadway

Looking back I realized I had the exact amounts recieved for membership in 2003, $331,887; 2004, $308,252; and 2006, $293,786. When I plugged these in I got the following paying visitors needed for those years (considering two adults and two kids in each group who spent $40, including admission). This was 2003, 371,914; 2004, 284,279, and 2005, 349,787.

Old South End Broadway

If the revenue from memberships are divided by $60 we get the following: 2003, 5531 members ; 2004, 5,138 members; 2005, 4,896 members. If each member had three family members, and came once a year they accounted for 2003, 22,124 visits; 2004, 20,552 visits; 2005, 19,584 visits. Since COSI includes visits by members in their totals we can see this drives the number of visitors needed up even further to accurately reflect what is occuring with revenue generation. I don't see anyway COSI can succeed without more "deep pockets" of generosity, or public monies.

Old South End Broadway

... but using the total number of visitors can never accurately reflect revenue (especially since "members" can make multiple visits with lots of kids). We have to come back to the simple fact that revenue from admissions falls way behind the costs of COSI. COSI will never even break even.

Old South End Broadway

... and that therefore drives up the number of visitors needed. I went with the figures I had, and diveded by four:
2003, 98510 families (including members families), 2004, 76,208 families (including members families), and 2005, 103,593 families (including members families). If these spent the amounts shown for gross sales of inventories that worked out to 2003, $4.40 a family; 2004, $5.18 a family; and 2005, $3.17 a family vs. $7.00 a family I credited. This means the number of visitors would have to increase to make up for the shortfall from sales.

Old South End Broadway

... has reported today that after years of not being able to support itself under its business model, COSI is closing at the end of the year at the latest.

Of course, the Blade really didn't use those terms. Shocking, eh?

As well, the Blade isn't reporting as to why IT stays open, having similarly not been able to support itself under its business model.

At any rate, COSI is getting what it deserves. Any private company that tries to steal money from the public treasury deserves to be liquidated.

It would be amusing if the Zoo picked up the exhibits during the auction and then re-opened a similar thing to COSI in a section of the existing land it owns. Of course, COSI could have sought such a partnership all along, but it appears that doing THAT would have been too much like WORKING. Ugh!

...wouldn't mind the overhead from an inefficient HVAC system?

Old South End Broadway

... moving into that "real estate". This link, http://www.governing.com/archive/1990/aug/mall.txt, gives a pretty good history of Portside. It was inefficiently put together for the purpose it was used for. It's cooling bill was quite large (though maybe they solved that problem). It had a lot of wasted space inside.

Would a "Dave and Buster's" take it over without tearing it down? And would they pay to tear it down, or would the city do it? Given our present mayor (who never admits to error) would it get torn down before the end of this or his next administration? I think we're going to be looking at a "dead mall" for maybe four or five more years.

Old South End Broadway

I'd rather it be empty and us trying to sell it than have full and costing us money.

If the levy would have passed COSI would be nothing more than a large hole where we throw our money.



...paying taxes for COSI.

Old South End Broadway

start buying your twine now maybe we can finish by summer.



I got a big rubber band ball from all the rubber bands I used to pick up off the floor at the Post Office (a safety hazard), and bring home as trash. A home-made "bouncing ball".

Old South End Broadway

Let me guess, you never had to deal with growth, analysts, and shareholders? Winners win, whiners whine!

that the beancounters from the community could balance that COSI budget online for free on Swampbubbles!

What a band of Idiots. Carty, Tina, Ben and Petie, the community voted no. The same community that voted you in office. Want to have YOUR votes taken away and mean nothing because someone was better than you on paper? Butt out.

It sure would be nice if we had a newspaper in town that could spare a reporter to go over the marketing expenses and figure out if there's a bother-in-law connection there, which would mean corruption (either no deliverables, or overpriced ones).

Too bad we don't have a newspaper in town that feels like being all investigatory with COSI.

...provide a reference for your belief that those are the averages for the most recent years? Here's what I found:

**Its Web site says the Toledo facility has welcomed more than 2 million visitors since it opened in 1997.

**"The museum moved into the former Portside Festival Marketplace and has drawn 250,000 visitors annually..."

**"With some 250,000 visitors a year, the "science museum" has added a significant dimension to the quality of life in the Toledo area."

These all indicate to me that the averages are for the 10 years of operation...

Additionally, a June 2000 Blade article says:

"As attendance at COSI's downtown location has reached a level of about 350,000 a year..."

it appears that three years of attendance averaged 350,000. So when you deduct that from the 2 million and then divide by the 7 remaining years, you get an average of about 136,000 per year.

A May 2002 Blade story said this:

"At first glance, COSI's figures may not look stellar. Its attendance has slid from past years, and in two of five years it has lost money.
For the fiscal year that ended in June, 2001, attendance had dropped 5 percent from the previous year. And, with the Sept. 11 tragedy and recession cutting into school trips, administrators expect attendance figures to drop this fiscal year as well.

However such fluctuations are common, particularly for new centers, Ms. VanDorn said. Most science centers open to big crowds and then see attendance drop. Even for established science centers, the numbers often fluctuate up to 10 percent between years."

By 2005, this was news:

"Dr. F. Michael Walsh, chairman of COSI's board of directors, said the science center in downtown Toledo anticipated a $300,000 shortfall in its $3.3 million operating budget for the 2005 fiscal year, which ended in June, because of declining support and attendance."

Then in Feb. 2006:

"Ms. Hauser said attendance at COSI Toledo rose 24 percent between 2004 to 2005, but said the center could not survive on attendance alone."

...Wombat2. If they've had 3.2 million visitors, why did all the news releases use the 2 million figure? This is confusing to me. But you are correct that it would make the average of 250,000 a realistic number. BTW - I was using this year's Blade articles for the number of visitors - not old press releases.

Y'all can ignore my previous posts about the average number of attendees in light of this new information.

Lack of proper oversight with the use of public funds....

Sorta like how did Citifest and the Erie St. Market fall into disarray.



So, just as a tired reminder, the zoo has been receiving public funds for years and years and years. And we just gave them 10 more years of not only capital funding, but also operational support, to I don't know how many dollars a year. And in terms of "mismanagement", as another reminder, when the zoo had the opportunity at the end of their last funding cycle to pay down debt or move ahead on new spending, they assumed they'd get funding first try so accrued new debt, and then had to delay as they had their big scandal with the vet. A big chunk of our money we voted for them is going to pay off past debt. But this isn't financial mismanagement?!?!

Without public funding, the zoo would have closed years ago, or remained in such a sad state that it wouldn't be worth a visit. I remember growing up how run down the zoo was...

And I love the zoo. Great community asset. Worth the investment of money. But their "business model" includes a healthy dose of public money. I voted for 'em. But I cringe every time I hear about how the zoo could swoop in and save COSI, or would make more sense to host a new science musuem, that price will come on the public dollar, make no mistake about it.

BTW, when COSI was leading a charge for a combined levy 3 or 4 years ago, places like the zoo passively resisted it. They had a lock on funding, and didn't want to jeopardize their stake so they went it alone.

And the exhbits won't stay in Toledo, I imagine. Other science museums will swoop in and pick 'em up on firesale. So our initial investments in COSI will help support science learning in....Fort Wayne Indiana?

Twine Ball, Bouncing Rubber Band Ball, Deaf People by the Airport, and now Toledo Gay Pride!!! COSI never had a chance! Toledo is going to ROCK!! Screw you De-Toliet!!

My biggest problem is not the money we see COSI want to spend in public funds but it's that they take up space that the public could make money on.

The location is prime real estate. If we can get businesses to locate in an old warehouse next to another abandoned old warehouse then we can get a business to locate to a riverfront location with a beautiful view easily accessible to the rest of the businesses and the attached to the promenade.

It's that money that COSI has tied up that really has me peaved.



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