My Events Center Fieldtrip
During my time as Commissioner, I have often heard people complain about the Wellness Complex and the Fairgrounds. Some say they are money pits, while others say the area could go to better use.
To be fair, both are great facilities and are a tremendous asset to the community. In looking at both facilities, I have felt like there is a wonderful opportunity for growth. Yet, this growth will not be without difficulty or change.
One of my goals is to find ways to reduce taxpayer burden. These facilities hold the potential to do that. I am interested in finding ways to turn these assets into revenue-generating facilities. They currently produce some revenue; however, the county still subsidizes much of the operations. Yet, it is possible to turn them into revenue-neutral centers, which produce enough money to cover expenses and possible upgrades.
Time To Learn
To find ways to think outside the box, I asked Guy Patterson, the manager of both facilities, to set up a field trip to some facilities in Utah he knew that could provide us with ideas.
First we visited was the Davis Conference center, a county-owned facility in Layton Utah. The conference center, managed by a private company, is a beautiful facility and has been in operation since 2004.
There we learned how they were set up and what their partnership looked like. We also learned how long it took them to become profitable and what pitfalls they encountered. It’s a good example of a public and private partnership, providing an economic benefit to the community.
Next, we visited the Legacy Center in Layton, across from Lagoon. This facility resembles our fairgrounds in size and buildings. We had a great discussion with the manager from whom we learned how their revenue streams have changed over the years.
They made the transition from a horse facility to a multi-use model. It was interesting to learn about their plans and growth opportunities.
Last, we visited the Kenley Centennial Amphitheater in the heart of Layton. This is a great facility owned by Layton City but run by the Davis Arts Council.
The Amphitheater is quite a bit smaller than ours, but they are doing great things. They have a full slate of concerts and community events with it being in use almost every weekend of the summer.
After reviewing my notes from these three venues, I know we have world-class facilities. I also believe they can generate revenue and become self-supporting. The trick is to be open to new ideas and possibilities. Another challenge will be to overcome objections to updating obsolete policies and procedures.
Change is always hard, but if we keep operating in the same old ways, we will keep getting the same old results. We live in a wonderful place filled with opportunity and potential. To reach that potential we will need to think differently. I know we can do that.
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