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Coliseum offers opportunity for creativity

Coliseum offers opportunity for creativity

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"Let's make the best of it." Those words were said about the U.S. Cellular Coliseum by Pat Hermes, owner of Hermes Equipment Co. - a neighbor of the facility that opened Saturday. But the comment could have been made by any number of people.

It's no secret that the idea of a city-run downtown arena didn't have universal support in Bloomington. Just check The Pantagraph letters to the editor or the votes from the advisory referendum.

But many - most, we hope - of those opponents recognize that now that the Coliseum is here, it's best for all concerned that the project succeeds.

Hermes is making "the best of it" by allowing a local Boy Scout troop to use the parking lot at his business to raise money from parking fees during Coliseum events.

He should be applauded for his creativity and generosity.

The Boy Scouts aren't the only non-profit group to benefit from the Coliseum. Easter Seals collected $3,650 from a project in which people decorated tiles to be used in the Kids Zone concession stand. It is another example of combining a need (decorating, instead of parking) with an organization that can benefit. Central Illinois Arena Management plans to have such a fund-raiser annually.

We wouldn't be surprised to see other entrepreneurs pop up in the area around the Coliseum, even children running lemonade stands in warmer weather.

Creativity will be the key, whether it involves someone starting an enterprise catering to the Coliseum crowd or established businesses enticing Coliseum visitors as customers.

The same philosophy should apply to attracting the attention of people attending events in the Cultural District.

Rather than dwelling on possible pitfalls, businesses - in particular - should look for ways to "make the best" of having the Coliseum and Cultural District. That might include staying open longer on event days or paying more attention to window displays that could encourage a return visit when the store is open.

It could involve other marketing or promotional tie-ins - such as restaurants encouraging people to arrive early before the show for dinner and a better chance at a good parking spot.

A lot of the people who will be attending Coliseum events might not have been to the downtown area for awhile. This is an opportunity to make them more aware of what downtown has to offer. Then they may return not only for Coliseum events but at other times as well.

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