Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Management, Programming Seen as Key to Success of Evergy Plaza

Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Management, Programming Seen as Key to Success of Evergy Plaza

Article excerpt

Sports watch parties, music concerts, movies, festivals and farmers markets are some of the possible events at Topeka’s Evergy Plaza set to be completed in March, and keeping the venue programmed is expected to be crucial to its success, stakeholders said.

“Topeka is a very sports-minded city,” said Kurt Young, executive director of the Topeka Lodging Association and chairman of the downtown plaza design committee. “The number of watch parties that we’ll be able to have on the jumbotron on the plaza, people are already starting to plan and think about those sporting event watch parties. My take right now is that that’s going to be a very big component of the daily operations of the plaza.”

The plaza will be professionally managed, and as of late May, plans were underway to have an operator selected and under contract by July 1.

“The operator is challenged with creating revenue through sponsorships, through beer sales, wine tastings,” Young said. “Our plaza is intended to be a free venue. We don’t anticipate having a lot of ticketed events. We want to keep it as free as possible to where anybody can afford to attend. But that operator has already been challenged and knows that part of his responsibility is going to be establishing a business plan.”

Some cities, including Rapid City, S.D., which served as a model for Topeka’s plaza efforts, have had local entities form nonprofit organizations to operate their plazas. Larger communities have hired management companies for the job.

“There are pros and cons to

both using a company vs. a local entity,” Young said. “If you use a company, the one thing you have to do is that company needs to understand their challenge is to maintain the local atmosphere, maintain the local spirit in the entire thing.”

A Tourism Business Improvement District, presented by the Topeka Lodging Association will generate an estimated $350,000 to $400,000 a year from hotels that will collect $1 per room sold. But the annual budget is expected to be $1 million to $1. …

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