Erie Events Impact Downtown Business

by Brandon Boyd, Coordinator of Communications and Client Relations

GRAPHICFORARTICLEIn 2018, Erie Events drove nearly $88 million in direct spending to the Erie region. Erie Events, which operates the Erie Insurance Arena, Warner Theatre, UPMC Park and Bayfront Convention Center, is located in the heart of Erie’s downtown cultural, entertainment and sports district.

With a 2018 event attendance of 729,966, Erie Events is a major driving force that attracts people to downtown Erie.  In addition to attending events, those people also visited restaurants, bars, and other businesses. Downtown establishments prosper on event days.

Bertrand Artigues, owner of Cloud 9 Wine Bar, said he sees a direct correlation between events held in downtown Erie and how busy his business is.

“If [Erie Events] is busy, I’m busy. When we prepare, one of the first things we do is look at the Erie Events website to see what is bringing people into town,” he said. “A big piece of the pie for business here is having events downtown. When events occur, everything flourishes.”

Rochelle Carlotti, bar manager at Jekyll and Hyde’s, agreed.

“We absolutely see an influx in business when events are happening. Weekdays especially are greatly improved by downtown events. Events at the Warner and the Arena, especially Otters games, more than double our business. People often come in for dinner before the event and often stop by after for a drink.”

The Erie Insurance Arena drew 291,862 patrons in 2018, with an average of 3,423 people per game coming to see the Otters during the 2018-2019 season. UPMC Park brought in a total event attendance of 217,868 and the Bayfront Convention Center had a total event attendance of 133,686. The Warner Theatre brought in an additional 86,550 attendees.

For J.B. Innes, manager and owner of 1201 Kitchen, a Warner Theatre crowd brings in a tremendous amount of business.

“When reservations start coming in for a certain date, especially a weekday, I know something’s happening,” he said. “For us, the Warner especially does a great job in bringing in a lot of our customers.”

Downtown businesses unanimously agree that Erie Events plays a significant role in the amount of traffic they get during an event.

“When there’s events and things are going well, there’s a momentum downtown. We get bombarded. It’s fun to watch and be a part of,” Artigues said.

“These events are the cultural center of our city. They bring people in business to all of the bars, restaurants and shops downtown,” Carlotti said. “[Downtown events] bring us a large amount of business from people who may not think to stop into our establishment otherwise.”

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A New Look on the Bayfront

by Gus Pine, General Manager of the Bayfront Convention Center

In the summer of 2016, Erie Events opened up the Courtyard Erie Bayfront Hotel, starting a new chapter for us on the Bayfront.

That’s because the addition of the Courtyard Erie Bayfront Hotel, along with the existing Sheraton Erie Bayfront Hotel solidified us as major players in the convention business. With the beautiful Bayfront Convention Center and now over 400 connected hotel rooms, we added some key elements that meeting planners were looking for.

The completion of the Courtyard proved to be the genesis of our next step. As general manager of the Bayfront Convention Center, my job is not just to think about the day-to-day operations, but also to think long-term and how we shape our future growth and direction. A key question quickly emerged. We have the Bayfront Convention Center, the Sheraton and the Courtyard – but how do we pitch them? Do we list them all out, are they separate entities? Essentially, how do we best market our resources to others in a clear, yet concise, package?

The answer was found in the creation of a collective brand. The team at Erie Events has been working with Tungsten Creative Group, a marketing organization based right here in Erie, to take our three facilities and marry them with one collective message. Now, of course, when needed we are our own brand, but when pitched as a unit to potential conventions, we will now be on the same page under one umbrella. Through our overall brand, our potential customers will truly see all that we have to offer.

I’m 100 percent convinced this will help us secure more conventions.

We have a fantastic location. It’s like a convention resort down here at the Bayfront. If you haven’t been down, stop by and see our facilities. Everything overlooks the bay, and that’s a great way to get work done.

We’ve got a great story here – we just need a vehicle to do it. Our new branding efforts, which we’ll begin unveiling in August as part of a major marketing initiative, will do just that.

We’ll also be looking to tie-in our future development in the area, including that at the former GAF site, now known as Bayfront Place. We could see the development of entertainment options, restaurants, or residential housing available at the site. We aspire to be a place where locals and travelers can mingle, and the more we have going on down here, the quicker we will reach that goal.

One of the key elements to a thriving city is the reliance on the dollars of outsiders. We can trade dollars as locals, but when travelers come in and bring in additional demand, it brings the city to another level. That’s what we’re looking to do, and we’re excited to continue the process this summer.