The Crookston Park Board on Monday unanimously approved a motion put forth by board member Michelle Christopherson to form a task force that will focus on marketing and promoting Crookston Sports Center.
"We're about to enter our third year with that facility, and I think we're overdue on evaluating and collecting information on how to better market it, and not just during the peak hockey and skating season, or just things on the turf, but during the off-season," Christopherson said, adding that she realizes there isn't enough money on hand in the city or Parks & Recreation budgets to hire someone to solely focus on marketing the CSC and booking events there.
She cited the floor cover that was purchased shortly after the facility opened as an example of a largely untapped opportunity. Designed to be placed on top of the ice sheet in any of the three arenas inside the CSC, Christopherson said the covering was utilized for the first time last month, at the Crookston Blue Line Club Fun Night event, moved for the first time this year to the sports center.
Christopherson said she's met with Craig Morgan of the BLC board, Chamber of Commerce President/CEO Shannon Stassen, Parks & Rec Director Scott Riopelle and others, and found that everyone agrees the CSC is a huge asset to the community that has the potential to be a regional attraction, if its profile is enhanced.
Stassen is leading similar discussions among Convention and Visitors Board members, and the Crookston InMotion Community Stewardship Initiative has also tackled the CSC topic, Riopelle said.
"I think we have a really good opportunity to do things differently, to think strategically and engage a wide audience as we figure out how to make the most of this tremendous asset we have," Christopherson said. "I don't think we can afford to be sitting here two years from now saying we need to market our sports center better."
The next step, City Administrator Tony Chladek said, will be to identify who should be approached about serving on the task force to give it the "most kick." Christopherson said it needs to be a task force formed from a "diverse audience."
Board member Wayne Melbye, who sits on the city council, said one of the first issues that's going to have to be hammered out is how the revenue is divided up when various events take place at the CSC. "If I'm organizing a dance or a concert, I'm not going to bust my butt and then give all the concession money to the Blue Line Club," he said. "I think that's something you need to find out first when you're trying to make things happen there. Whether it’s the Boy Scouts or whatever, it needs to be profitable for folks who are going to do things there."
Page 2 of 2 - Christopherson said revenue distribution can be tackled at some point, but first and foremost the task force needs to focus on bringing income to the CSC, and economic vitality to the community. "Let's not shut the door before we get started," she said. "Whether the task force comes up with two ideas or six, give them a chance to think creatively."
"And also look at some of the potential obstacles to making some of these things happen," Chladek added.
Melbye said the addition of Drafts Sports Bar & Grill next door to the CSC and a new Cobblestone Inn & Suites planned for the north end of town can only help. The Crookston AmericInn is planning an expansion in 2013 as well.
"All of that can only help get people to hustle up on maximizing that building and keeping people in town with their money," Melbye said.
"We need to be ready when those new things come," board member Larry Brekken added. "We can't get caught doing nothing. That facility is an asset 12 months a year."
Board members will bring suggested names for the task force when they next meet.