Greeley Stampede has mixed economic impact
2014 Stampede revenue at Island Grove Park
The revenue below reflects income only at the fair grounds during the Stampede weeks in 2014.
» Ticket sales: $1,055,628
» Alcohol income: $689,216
» Carnival: $416,528
» Concessions: $130,091
» Beverage income: $129,444
» Other: $402,467
Source: Stampede Federal IRS 990 form
While the Greeley Stampede brings thousands into the city of Greeley, its effect on the local economy and small businesses is varied.
Hotels sell out, restaurants slow down and most of the small retail businesses report normal business throughout Stampede weeks.
Downtown business owners said they see an increase in business on the Fridays before big events like Stampede because the DDA has started merging Friday Fest with event kick-offs.
“I definitely see an increase in the downtown foot traffic,” said Jim Sereff, owner of Warm Hugs on the corner of 9th Avenue and 9th Street. Without much in the way of Western-themed goods, Sereff said his business increase is minimal, but the restaurants tend to see an uptick. “The summer events — they help whether it’s Stampede, the Blues Jam or the arts,” he said. “It doesn’t matter what it is, the events do make a difference in business.”
Raja Salaymeh, general manager of the Mad Cow, 800 9th St., said they see a little more business, but it’s not very significant.
“Just because I think people are out at Island Grove,” he said. “What I saw last year was a couple nights after the concerts, people came over to eat or have a nightcap.”
Salaymeh also mentioned that the event-driven Friday Fests really help.
“Anything that brings people to Greeley helps everyone,” he said.
Tim Veldhuizen, owner of the Greeley Chophouse, Moody’s and 1908, all of which are in downtown Greeley, said they actually see a significant drop in business during the Stampede.
“The week of the 4th is one of the slowest weeks of the year for us,” he said.
He said there are two pieces to the puzzle.
“One of them is that they have so many food options there,” he said. “The other is that people who attend the Stampede, they’re there for the whole week and they don’t want to leave the fairgrounds.”
According to Stampede tax documents, the event earned $130,091 in concessions last year and $689,216 in alcohol income. Regular beverage income was $129,444 — all money traded within the confines of Island Grove Regional Park.
“It’s a lot easier to grab something there and get back to your activities,” Veldhuizen said.
Veldhuizen said even if his business isn’t great that week, the Stampede is a positive thing for the city as a whole.
“It helps Greeley make a name,” he said.
Old Chicago General Manager Anna Wells said even though they’re right beside a lot of the hotels on 29th Street — which typically fill up during Stampede — they also experience a decrease in business.
“If we do see an increase it is during our ‘late night,’ which is considered after 10 p.m. since we are one of the few restaurants open in Greeley at this time,” she said. “Much of the community is attending events at Island Grove Park.”
Bianca Fisher, the associate director of the Downtown Development Authority, said she thinks there is some increased foot traffic in downtown, but more hotel rooms in the downtown core — a project that is underway — would help increase business significantly.
“I think people like to stick around their hotel, especially if they’re not familiar with the area,” she said.
However, moving the Stampede kickoff to downtown Greeley has helped.
“It’s been great to have,” she said. “I think for the city as a whole, it’s a huge economic driver.”
While restaurants and small businesses might struggle to attract Stampede-goers, hotels are often booked solid as far as Loveland.
“We’re expecting the same as last year and we’re expecting the full occupancy again,” said Bruce Rahmani, owner of the downtown Greeley Clarion Inn.
He said the summer months are known as a high demand season. They look forward to the extra business, often driven by events such as the Stampede.
“We count on that revenue to make up for our slow seasons,” he said.
Renee von Weiland, vice president of operations at Spirit Hospitality, which operates the Hampton Inn and Suites, 2350 29th St., and the Candlewood Suites, 3530 29th St., in Greeley, as well as others in Loveland, said they often see sold out nights during Stampede, both in their Greeley hotels and Loveland hotels alike.
“I know that it is an impactful (time),” she said. “It is normally a sell-out (time) for us in our hotels in Greeley and often in our Loveland hotels as well.”
The nearly 100-year-old summer event is a tradition in Greeley that attracts a lot of people, von Weiland said.
“Stampede is an iconic part of Greeley’s heritage,” she said, “and it is the event in Greeley that people want to be part of and attend.”
Bridgett Weaver covers business and agriculture in Weld County. To contact her email firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter at @cityofbridgetts.