The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Business

March 24, 2014

Civic center bustling

Conventions, park concerts fueling civic center

(Continued)

“The artists really enjoy the setting. We’re getting calls from agents rather than us having to call them.”

He said the park was already booked for the summer of 2014 early this year, something that didn’t happen until June in past years. “It allows for more planning and ways we can package more events with it. I can’t name the acts coming yet, but they will be bigger and better than 2013.”

For events such as RibFest, the park can accommodate more than 5,000 people, but concerts have been more limited with last summer’s Willie Nelson concert able to accommodate about 3,000 fans.

Lyman said the city’s doing improvements to allow for larger concerts. “We’re grading the back grass area higher up in the back to improve the sight lines to the stage. We should be able to get maybe 5,000 (fans) now.”

Lyman said the grading, along with other steps, should also help deal with noise complaints by residents, including across the river in North Mankato, who say the concerts’ sounds carry far and clear.

“We put in new bass speakers that we can control better so it doesn’t reverberate all across the valley, and we’ve planted a lot of arborvitae behind the stage to dampen the sound – and it’s very attractive.”

The city is also planning to put in a concrete slab, covered by a roof, behind the Mankato Piece sculpture for use as a site for concession stands. Eventually Lyman wants to convert it to a building, with refrigeration, where city concession stands and supplies can be stored all summer.

“It’s expensive to bring all those concessions out there and stock it, so this would get those costs down. Our primary revenue is from food and concessions, so if we can be more efficient, it will help financially.”

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