Saturday, January 23, 2010

City has golden geese, not just in parks

Commentary by Dave Felice

If Denver’s government leaders persist in turning the parks into sources of revenue, there are many more money-making ideas that are just as outrageous.

Eight members of City Council have capitulated to unlawfully allow a Massachusetts company to close parts of Civic Center Park and charge admission for outdoor movies. There’s no need to stop there.

Here are some suggestions:

● Naming rights come to mind. How about the “Coors Meadow” at City Park, the “Qwest Lawn” at Civic Center, or the "Wynkoop Brewery Confluence Park" along the Platte River? The City already has a commercially named sports stadiums and facilities at the Botanic Gardens and the zoo. It doesn’t matter if commercial naming in parks is currently contrary to policy. In true bureaucratic fashion, Parks Manager Kevin Patterson already shows he’s ready to subvert policy to suit the administration’s needs.

● The City could lease mobile telephone tower space on practically all publicly-owned property, including parks. Cell phone companies might clamor for the ability to use prominent City locations for more tower space to increase coverage.

● City properties would be prime locations for billboard advertising of all sizes and shapes. The art museum, zoo, and ballet already use vertical banners on light poles, so the City could easily expand this opportunity to more commercial advertisers. There’s space along the edges of parks and parkways where real estate agents and politicians already place illegal signs. By legalizing this process, commercial advertisers could get more messages to more people more often.

● The City could offer lighted advertising space on the sides and top of the Webb Building. This might be a great source of revenue. Telephone, investment, and media companies already have lighted advertising on downtown buildings, so the City wouldn't be breaking any new ground to sell space to advertisers.

● There’s also an opportunity for commercial advertising on City vehicles, similar to taxicabs and pizza delivery cars.

● Sporting goods companies might like to pay premium prices for advertising painted on running tracks at various locations around the City. Actually, the pavement advertising need not be confined to paths; the signs could be right on the street.

● Since everyone knows that parking meters are already a major source of revenue, the city could put more meters on park drives and public locations such as zoo and Museum of Nature and Science. After all, people already have to pay to park at the Art Museum, Botanic Gardens, and Convention Center. In the parks, there could be a premium charge for meters in desirable locations.

● Open space in public buildings could be commercially “activated” by admissions-based events. For example, there could be concerts in the atrium of the Webb Building or even the City Council chambers on nights and weekends when council doesn’t need the room.

● With the idea that people pay a premium for extra privileges, some City streets could be designated for high occupancy traffic or traffic that could flow at a higher rate of speed. Drivers might pay extra to shorten their commuting time.

● Also in line with premium services, perhaps some of the libraries could be opened at “special” times for patrons willing to pay an admission charge.

These are just a few ideas, which aren’t really original. It’s entirely possible Governor John Hickenlooper has already thought of them and the city attorney’s office is just trying to figure out how to manipulate the City Charter to make them possible.

If these ideas haven’t been considered, the City is welcome to use them at no charge.

P.S. No, seriously, this just in....

GREENWOOD VILLAGE, Colo. -- The legend of Fiddler's Green, an imaginary afterlife where the fiddler never stops playing and the dancers never sit down, is a lovely inspiration for an outdoor performing arts and entertainment venue. Fiddler's Green Amphitheater, in a suburb south of Denver, was so named when it opened in 1988, with Dan Fogelberg giving the first concert. With 7,500 fixed seats and some 10,000 more on the capacious lawn, it has been a fixture on the summer entertainment scene every since.

Now, the Museum of Outdoor Arts, which owns the venue, has sold the naming rights for three years to a Comfort Dental, a Colorado-based chain of dental practices in five states. Live Nation operates the venue and lost no time in changing the name on its ticket-sales website.

The museum describes the amphitheater, designed by noted landscape architect George Hargreaves, as "a massive environmental earth sculpture." For a time, the official name was Coors Amphitheater, but locals never stopped calling it Fiddler's Green. And that will probably still be the case. After all, the image of eternal fiddling is a better one for an entertainment site than of endless drilling inside audience's heads.


  1. Anonymous1:37 PM

    How about taking a cue from auto racing? City cars could have sponsorship paint and city employees could wear jumpsuits plastered with sponsor patches! After all, the cars and employees already have the city logo. What's wrong with selling space and adding a few dozen more sponsor identifications?