From large to small, events of all sizes are key in bringing people Downtown.
Earlier this month, Visit Jacksonville released findings from a study on the economic impact of out-of-town visitors at Downtown events. The Jacksonville Jazz Festival had an economic impact of nearly $3 million and brought an estimated 20,000 attendees Downtown, many from out of town. Welcome to Rockville drew 40,000 people to two sold-out days of concerts in Metropolitan Park for an economic impact of roughly $10.3 million. And the second installment of One Spark drew an estimated 260,000 people Downtown with 15% coming from out of town for a economic impact from out-of-town visitors of $1.8 million.
Beyond the numbers, events create memorable experiences that make people want to return to Downtown, spend their money Downtown and support local businesses and cultural venues. This month, Hemming Plaza was home to the third-annual Go Skate Day.
“Downtown has been my skatepark and backyard for decades; to see everyone from the greater Jacksonville skate family and the Downtown community hanging out and shredding Hemming all day together is just the best,” said Go Skate Day organizer Brad Cantrell. “I never thought I’d see this kind of interactivity and cooperation. We’ve a long way to go but, for me, it’s an indicator of a very positive and progressive future for skateboarding and for our city.”
Event partner MOCA Jacksonville worked with Go Skate Day to interact with event-goers and educate them on all the museum offers.”Dozens of families visited our outdoor tent to design their own skateboards using markers, crayons, oil pastels, stickers and collage items,” said Denise Reagan, director of communications at MOCA Jacksonville. “Many others took a break from the heat and enjoyed one of four skateboarding movies shown in our theater. The event is quickly becoming a Jacksonville mainstay that brings a new and diverse audience to Downtown where they learn what the urban core has to offer. Many had never visited MOCA Jacksonville before. We look forward to their return!”
Events also improve the experience of living Downtown. The second installment of the monthly Jaxsons Night Market drew an estimated 1,100 people and 30 vendors to the vacant lot at the corner of Laura and Adams streets, according to event producer Mike Field. Many residents came out to stock up on goods that they normally have to drive to buy. Vendors were curated to fill in gaps from the existing retail mix in the core of Downtown, including fresh produce, cheeses, baked goods and personal-cleaning products, with the goal to create demand that will encourage business to expand into Downtown.
“There are many creative people that have resourceful ideas on how to make Downtown a vibrant place and contribute to producing a unique, walkable environment Downtown,” said Field. “Pop-up events allow community stakeholders an inexpensive, quick and efficient tool to fill the gaps that break up our urban landscape. As a city, we should promote an environment that enables everyday people to make our neighborhoods better, starting from the bottom up.”
And last week, Mayor Brown announced City Council approved legislation to strengthen the City’s ability to bring even more events to Jacksonville, such as the recently awarded 2016 Women’s Basketball Tournament, which will be played at Veterans Memorial Arena. City Council also approved legislation to improve the fan experience at EverBank Field with the installation of Wi-Fi service for the first time.