Event organizer

Event organizer concerned about new Westerner Park parking fee model – Red Deer Advocate

Westerner Park is getting rid of parking fees – but an event organizer fears it will come at the cost of some of his group’s future revenue.

Harold Drok organizes the annual Red Deer Gun Show to benefit the Red Deer Fish and Game Association. This year’s show was canceled due to the pandemic, but Drok believes next year’s event will take place once pandemic restrictions are lifted.

He objects to having to pay Westerner Park a $1 facility fee in the future for every ticket sold for his show.

Adding a dollar service charge to every ticket for events held at Westerner Park is how the expo and convention site intends to cover its parking lot maintenance costs – instead of charging $6 parking fee, expected to drop to $7 soon.

Drok fears that this change in policy will decrease his group’s income. “If we have 5,000 people walking through the door at one of our shows, we have to give Occidental $5,000 on top of our profits,” Drok said, because $1 of each ticket price would go to the Westerner.

But Westerner Park CEO Mike Olesen said the intent was not for that $1 to come from group profits.

If a show charged $10 for an admission ticket, Olesen said it would be $10 in the future — plus an additional $1 service charge to go to the Occidental for a total of $11.

He understands that some groups might feel that this increased cost could be blamed on them, rather than Westerner Park. But he stressed that he is ready to help market this information to the public so that people understand the reason for the additional charges.

Unless the Red Deerians come to Westerner Park events with seven or eight people in a car, Olesen thinks $1 a ticket will always cost them less than paying $6 or $7 for parking. (The World Junior Hockey Championship in December will be the last Westerner Park event to retain parking fees).

He said the $1 service charge will only be collected on tickets sold, including for hockey games and concerts.

If a ticketless wedding reception or convention is held there, the organizers won’t have to pay that facility fee, Olesen added.

Drok isn’t sure how this will affect future gun show ticket prices, noting “We have to be competitive with the market and we could go out of business.”

Olesen replied, “We’re ready to work with all of our event clients to find the best model for them.”

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