Friday, August 5, 2011

Rodeo arena marketing to expand

Hailey chamber targeting grants for promoting venue

Express Staff Writer

Hailey's new rodeo arena was filled to the brim with spectators during the Sawtooth Rangers Fourth of July rodeo. The organization expected to report soon on the amount of proceeds from ticket sales the city will receive from the event.

So what will happen next at the new venue?

No other events have been booked at the facility, paid for with a $3.5 million tax levy. But Hailey City Administrator Heather Dawson, Mayor Rick Davis and City Clerk Mary Cone have been working with four event producers, including the Sun Valley Center for the Arts, to attract some business to the arena.

Dawson said one of the big challenges to booking bands in the arena is the sand-and-dirt floor, which is purposefully kept loose for equestrian events.

"One solution would be to provide turf, which is very expensive, or to compact the soil," Dawson said.

She said she believes one reason the arena has not been booking events, including 4-H or local equestrian events, is due to timing.

"I think people are making their plans for next year only this fall," she said.

Heather LaMonica Deckard, executive director of the Hailey Chamber of Commerce, said she would like her organization to help market the arena. She responded to proposed cuts to the Hailey chamber budget recently with a call to the Hailey City Council, contending that maintaining the chamber budget would allow her to pursue grants that could include funding to promote the rodeo arena.

"We would like to be able to expand our regional promotion of the rodeo arena," Deckerd said in an interview. "The facility is a very enticing and new opportunity. It might renew some interest with promoters."

Deckerd said the chamber has applied for grant funding with the Idaho Travel Council as part of a $35,000 request for marketing projects, including using social media to promote Hailey as a biking destination. She said the grant would require a match of 12.5 percent from the city, and could be used in part to promote the arena.

Dawson said the city would issue a request for proposals for marketing plans and expertise to help with the rodeo arena marketing.

"The Hailey chamber will certainly be included in the request," Dawson said.

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