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City: It needs to ‘happen here’
by Sarah Cooper
Apr 29, 2010 | 801 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Tribune file/Debra Reid - Sparks is building its city identity around the plethora of special events the city hosts, including Hot August Nights classic car rally (middle), the Best in the West Nugget Rib Cook-Off (top) and the weekly Hometowne Farmer’s Market in Victorian Square (bottom).
Tribune file/Debra Reid - Sparks is building its city identity around the plethora of special events the city hosts, including Hot August Nights classic car rally (middle), the Best in the West Nugget Rib Cook-Off (top) and the weekly Hometowne Farmer’s Market in Victorian Square (bottom).
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Tribune file/Debra Reid
Tribune file/Debra Reid
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SPARKS — As the city of Sparks moves full-steam ahead with the attempt to brand itself as the place where “It’s Happening Here,” city special events staff are busy beefing up Sparks’ special events calendar.

The city has added five new special events to the summer lineup and while losing one — the Cinco de Mayo celebration this May.

“In an effort to increase tourism to the city and region, our intent is to pursue events that complement our current line-up and blend in with our family-oriented approach,” said Greg von Schottenstein, Sparks’ special events supervisor. “We are in the process of taking steps to enhance our website, change the look and feel of our event application and position our brand as a welcoming city that offers entertainment options unlike any other area.”

The new events are the Regional Transporta-tion Commission’s Sunday bus rodeo which took place April 11, a Father’s Day half marathon, a family day Hug Your Kids event at the Sparks Marina in July, a young Shakespeare performance in July and the Street Vibrations fall rally in September.

Sparks chips in financially for some special events, however sponsors are heavily relied on. The Sparks Hometowne Farmer’s Market will have a title sponsor for the first time when it returns June 10. The sponsor is Cullen Dillard and Associates Wealth Management Co.

“We are budgeted for the events we produce and provide affordable packages to both returning and potential business partners,” von Schottenstein said. “Each year the number of sponsors fluctuates, though we have been fortunate to retain strong community support for the events we produce. We have worked closely as a team to substantially increase revenue over the past several years and, with the exception of probably one event, have either broken even or moved north of the budget most years.”

The city wants special events to come to Sparks, mostly to increase ailing economic circumstances. In line with the “happening here” branding effort, the city’s goal is to eventually have 200 event days.

“Our hope is this total will be achieved over time,” von Schottenstein said.

The city has 46 events on the summer menu attracting about 2 million people to the area annually.

“Our events are the thrust and focus of the city’s branding efforts,” said Adam Mayberry, Sparks’ community relations manager and member of the Brand Leadership Team. “The whole concept comes down to this — ‘cash.’ Bringing people to Sparks for our events raises not only their awareness of the city and all it has to offer but it also gives our visitors a chance to spend money in our city benefiting our local merchants and ultimately our region.”

City officials currently do not know the full economic impact that the special events have on the city. However, von Schottenstein said special events staff are in discussions with The Center for Regional Studies at the University of Nevada, Reno about conducting an economic impact study.

“The purpose of the study would be to research and establish as best we can the economic impact that over two million visitors brings to the city of Sparks,” he said.

The producers of Hot August Nights, the area’s largest summer car show, estimate that the event has a $350 million economic impact on the Reno-Sparks area. Event producers are in the process of evaluating the 2009 event’s economic numbers.

“Ultimately, if the notion that it is indeed ‘happening in Sparks’ is embraced, and I believe the word is slowly getting out, we can recover from this recession quicker and stronger,” Mayberry said. “The RSCVA (Reno Sparks Convention and Visitors Authority) has the primary role in creating tourism demand and attracting visitors to the region.

“Our economic development agencies and (Sparks) Chamber of Commerce’s have a role in attracting new development,” he added. “But once they arrive here, the city has a fundamental obligation to help bring those visitors to Sparks and prospective individuals who may have a desire to relocate here for business or other reasons. This is what helps us drive the brand.”

For a calendar of remaining events for 2010, see page 20.

Buses contributed to special events

New this year, the city will be providing the use of two old buses to shuttle event-goers around the city’s larger summer festivals.

The buses were a gift from the Regional Transportation Commission. The buses were marked as surplus by the RTC because they had reached the allowable mileage limit and were headed for the auction block, according to an Aug. 10 statement from RTC spokeswoman Felicia Archer.

The buses will be wrapped in the Sparks insignia and used to shuttle guests around at the city’s annual special events. Use of the buses at special events was part of the tourism and marketing funding package approved recently.

The buses are meant to alleviate some of the traffic congestion that comes with the summer events season. According to city special events staff, more than two million people come to Victorian Square annually for the summer lineup, which includes Hot August Nights and the Best in the West Nugget Rib Cook-Off.
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