Very green Lawn on D turns profit

The Massachusetts Convention Center Authority has achieved a first for the Lawn on D — profitability.

It erased the popular park’s deficit and expects $350,000 in profit after it closes the books on a 2017 season that attracted a record 300,000-plus people to the 2.7-acre, interactive outdoor space on D Street next to the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center.

“It’s been a good two years that we’ve been able to turn it around,” MCCA executive director David Gibbons said. “I’m immensely pleased. Basically our philosophy is to break it even on the corporate side so we can do all the community events.”

The MCCA has been working on a self-sustainable business model for the Lawn on D since Gibbons took over as executive director in 2016. A 2015 deficit of $2.3 million was cut to $350,000 in 2016 by taking greater control of the park’s operations and programming. The MCCA brought the park’s marketing and management in-house last year, increased food and beverage sales commissions, and signed Boston-based Rebel Restaurants as its new food and beverage provider. It also created a separate Signature Pavilion to host corporate and other private events, and struck a $250,000 sponsorship deal with Citizens Bank.

This year, Citizens re-upped for the Lawn on D Powered by Citizens Bank naming-rights deal, and Rebel added a new full-service bar and made table reservations available. The MCCA also added more lawn games and expanded the private pavilion space.

“It’s been very well-received by the community, and it’s been very well-received by the corporate community as a product,” Gibbons said. “The team has done a great job of managing it, keeping it exciting, keeping it fresh.”

The number of Lawn on D visitors increased in its fourth season to more than 300,000, up from 205,000 last year.

Total revenue topped $1.75 million, including an expected $410,000 from the MCCA’s cut of food and beverage sales, an approximately 19 percent increase. More than 105 private events — including corporate outings, networking receptions, team-building events, three weddings and a rehearsal dinner — brought in $1 million, a 65 percent increase from 2016.

The MCCA expects expenses will settle at $1.4 million, a $100,000 decrease from last year.

The Lawn on D closed yesterday after a “Pumpkin Palooza” Saturday that drew nearly 12,000 guests to carve more than 2,000 pumpkins — the largest event of the year.

“We we’re so lucky with the weather,” Gibbons said. “By a day we missed the wind storm.”