This story is a few days old, but according to News Carson City the Arlington Square ice skating rink was a big money pit for everybody involved last winter. The ticket sales they took in came nowhere close to covering the costs of operating it, and the benefit to downtown businesses was probably pretty negligible. I guess Carson doesn’t have enough people to make something like that a big draw, but at the same time it’s so big that downtown isn’t really the “heart of town” like it would be in a smaller town. We’re kind of in that middle grey area. where a town is just big enough for downtown to mostly be irrelevant. That’s a big challenge facing the efforts to revitalize downtown.
The final bottom line on the Carson City skating rink is $130,000 in red ink, so it’s doubtful that we’ll see the rink back next year.
My fear is when the freeway is finished, downown could become more irrelevant. Yes, there’s big plans to revitalize the center of town but a bypass is called a bypass for a reason. The 100+ empty storefronts on our main drag doesn’t help much, either.
We’re lucky Carson City is the state capital or we could have another Lovelock on our hands (which died when I-80 was built) or one of the bypassed towns on old Route 66.
Give people a reason to go downtown and they will. There are plenty of towns that have a freeway bypass and still have vibrant downtowns. The key is that you need to have things downtown that will draw people in. Restaurants, shopping, entertainment, jobs. The beginnings of this are starting to form, but it’s going slow and the economy right now isn’t helping. But go down to Third Street tonight, during the Bike To Work party, and try to argue that downtown is irrelevant. The problem is, that’s just one event. There would need to be hundreds just like it to really make a permanent shift to downtown being the heart of town.