dc attendees ..didnt bring their own food! gasp!!

by candidlynuts 2 Replies latest jw friends

  • candidlynuts

    Wednesday, July 5, 2006 6:24 PM CDT

    Coliseum affecting downtown business

    By Scott Miller [email protected]

    BLOOMINGTON -- Lines formed outside Kelly’s Bakery & Cafe in downtown Bloomington last weekend when an estimated 6,000 Jehovah’s Witnesses visited the U.S. Cellular Coliseum for a convention.

    The added business was great, said owner Kelly Mathy, but it could be costly in the long run.

    "I know of three customers who didn’t come in on Saturday because of the parking. I hope that we have a loyal enough following that people will come back," she said, expressing concern that traffic congestion generated by the Coliseum could keep her most loyal customers away.

    The Coliseum has been open about three months now and downtown bars and restaurants are already feeling an impact. But benefits depend on the type of business.

    At Reality Bites, co-owner Brian McCaslin turned about 45 customers away before the Sheryl Crow concert last month because he didn’t have available seating. Many of them already had been turned away from other restaurants as well, he said.

    "I haven’t spent anything on marketing," said McCaslin, who also plays quarterback for the Bloomington Extreme. "Every time we have a football game, I’m booked. On Sheryl Crow, we were slammed."

    According to figures from the Coliseum, the average attendance for a football game is about 5,500, the second highest attendance in the United Indoor Football League.

    Sheryl Crow drew more than 4,000 fans and John Mellencamp brought in more than 6,500. More than 15,000 people attended several showings of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus.

    "Business goes up 30 percent when there’s a football game, sometimes even 40 percent," said Jose Aguas, owner of La Bamba Mexican Restaurant.

    Unlike McCaslin and Aguas, Mathy doesn’t get much business from the football games, she said. Last week’s convention brought the first surge of Coliseum business to her restaurant.

    And while restaurant owners like Mathy and McCaslin are counting cash after some Coliseum events, most retailers aren’t open and others have closed, not expecting a boost from Coliseum traffic.

    Catherine Dunlap, executive director of the Downtown Bloomington Association, has said the Coliseum changes the face of the downtown shopper. The association is doing surveys and other demographic studies throughout the summer to determine what types of retailers would mesh with the Coliseum.

    Joel Dilley expects to mesh. He hopes his used-book store, Outpost Books, will benefit from the Coliseum, the fall opening of the Bloomington cultural district and any other events that drive foot traffic.

    He’s willing to stay open late any night crowds come downtown. He has art shows that could piggy back on the cultural district events. He has bands play to attract passersby. He sets boxes of free books in front of his store.

    "Anything just to get people to stop and look," Dilley said.
    Jehovah's Witness convention attendees walked downtown during their lunch break last Friday in Bloomington. The convention at U.S. Cellular Coliseum was the latest example of the downtown arena affecting business in the area. (Pantagraph file photo/CARLOS T. MIRANDA).

  • Honesty

    Probably too many of them went 'out for lunch' to call up some JC's.

  • SirNose586

    That's not fair. We were told that if we left stadium grounds to get food, we'd be struck by lightning.

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