Kaufman: Ford Wyoming Center Could Become “Campus of Facilities”; generates approximately $ 25 million per year for the Casper region
CASPER, Wyoming. –Casper CEO and Natrona County Commissioner Brook Kaufman told Casper City Council on Tuesday that the Ford Wyoming Center has generated “just over” $ 25 million in economic impact on the country’s economy. region in 2019.
This included about $ 13.9 million in the economic impact surrounding the state high school athletic tournaments held at the Ford Wyoming Center. The economic impact comes from the money people spend on things like accommodation, retail, food, drink, and entertainment when they are at Casper to attend an event at the facility.
“This facility is a real driving force in a way that no other facility in our county probably is,” Kaufman said.
In addition to sharing information on the estimated economic impact generated by the Ford Wyoming Center, Kaufman asked city council to consider supporting a study to determine what the future demand for the facility might be and explore what can be done to ensure the facility remains Wyoming’s “premier entertainment hub” for years to come.
Kaufman said Visit Casper had received two offers from consultants to conduct the study. The first proposal would cost a total of about $ 90,000. The second proposal would cost about $ 60,000. According to Kaufman’s proposal, Visit Casper, the Town of Casper and Spectra Venue Management would each contribute one-third of the cost.
Council member Amber Pollock said she thought such a study was a good idea because she saw “no point in spending money on maintaining a building if we don’t also consider the future relevance of this building”. Pollock asked Kaufman what kind of results she thinks such a study might reveal.
Kaufman said she predicted such a study could indicate how the Ford Wyoming Center could help solve Wyoming’s need for more convention space. She said meetings and conventions have yet to fully bounce back due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but believes the study may indicate the need for more space in Wyoming.
Kaufman added that with the importance of sports for young people, the study could also point to opportunities that could improve Ford Wyoming Center’s ability to support competitions. She said the Ford Wyoming Center could potentially be expanded into a facility campus and that such an expansion could make it more possible to host tournaments at Casper.
While the existing facility can accommodate up to four courts at sports tournaments, Kaufmen said “four courts are not enough for me to sell a regional tournament”.
Council member Kyle Gamroth asked if the study could help identify ways to help reduce the amount of money it costs the city to subsidize the facility’s operations.
Kaufman said the reduction in the grant is something that could be done by having more event days available, something an expanded campus could support. The ability to host multiple concurrent events reduces the risk of depending on a single event to generate revenue.
Ford Wyoming Center general manager Brad Murphy agreed. He said having the ability to host more events creates more economic opportunities without the need to significantly increase the number of employees. Murphy added that the Ford Wyoming Center schedule is packed from January through the end of June with little opportunity to add more events without more space.
Murphy pointed to requests to host parties at the Ford Wyoming Center during the College’s National Finals rodeo as an example. Although there have been requests to host parties, the facility is unable to meet these requests due to all the space used for CNFR activities.
Council member Bruce Knell said he supported the idea of the study because he sees the Ford Wyoming Center as the “biggest money generator” in the region. He also encouraged people to consider attending New Year’s celebrations at the facility which will also kick off the establishment’s 40th anniversary celebrations.
City council has tentatively agreed to provide up to $ 30,000 for the study proposed by Kaufman. City manager Carter Napier said he would likely recommend the use of federal funds from the CARES Act to support the study. Kaufman added that the availability of various federal funding sources was the reason she was asking for the city’s support at this time rather than during regular budgeting discussions.