City eyes improving Rotary Park, hosting more events

City officials hope to bring improvements to the Manchester Rotary Park.

City officials hope to bring improvements to the Manchester Rotary Park.

The Manchester Board of Mayor and Aldermen voted on July 7 to apply for a grant from the Tennessee Department of Tourism for electrical and lighting improvements, ADA seating and shade canopies at Rotary Park in Manchester.

If awarded, the grant would require a match of 30% from the city, an amount of about $25,000.

“We are primarily applying to add electricity capabilities for vendors and shading structures for patrons that attend events at the facility,” said Alderman Ryan French.

The city has a unique opportunity to take advantage of expanding into the music and entertainment industry, said French.

“By developing infrastructure around this facility, we can work with several partners to host more events and develop the atmosphere and demand for live music in our community,” French said.

City officials hope the improvements will lead to hosting more events, which in turn will bring more tax dollars.

“With massive industry staples like Great Stage Park and The Caverns here at the doorstep of our community, the possibilities and feasibility of developing more events on a consistent basis is a strong reality,” French said. “With these upgrades we will develop a facility brochure and website that details the facility and rental process. We will then market these efforts, and recruit event promoters and producers in efforts to create more events in the area. In addition to promoting the site itself, we will require contractors to promote a site designed to drive traffic into local restaurants and hotels specifically built around the facility and events at the facility.”

The initiative aims to reach out beyond Manchester.  

“The Manchester Music Series is a public free concert series hosted by the local Manchester Tourism and Community Development Commission,” French said. “This series will also be housed at the facility with a new marketing effort to promote the event to communities outside of Manchester.”

French said there’ll be an opportunity to study the impact, which would help city officials focus on events that generate income.

“When renting out the facility we will survey production companies about the scope of the event both pre and post event,” French said. “This will include the number of attendees, tickets sold, hotel rooms booked, and the number of days the event is in town. This will allow us to give specific economic impact details of each event. Currently the facility has been primarily used for municipal events so the trajectory created after this expansion effort will be clearly indicated in the new events.”

Large events can generate up to 3,000 visitors per night which could have a direct impact on lodging up to $417,000 based on a $139 room night, according to French.

“A realistic goal for the first year of events would be three large concerts with 2,000 attendees. This would be three events between private and public promotions,” he said.

If the grant is awarded, the city will pay about $25,000, with those funds coming from occupancy tax revenues.

“As far as funding is concerned, the tourism commission would be on the hook for (30)% of the project cost which would be paid with hotel-motel taxes,” French said. “No local taxpayer dollars would be used for this project.”

The grant is a joint State of Tennessee Department of Economic Development and Tennessee Department of Tourist Development Department effort, said French.

“In the past, we have used the exact same grant to pay for the electrical grid for the Manchester Soccer Complex,” French said.