While ShoWare Center in Kent prepares to host 2012 Hilton HHonors Skate America later this month, the Kent business community is doing its own prep work so that it can properly welcome the 15,000 visitors the event is expected to attract.
Sweet Themes Bakery, for example, had its five storefront windows painted to promote the Olympic-style figure skating competition.
“This is such a high-profile event in town. We want to show our support and we also want to show the community they are coming,” said owner Alison Carchedi. “I’m just happy I can be a part of it and promote it.”
Carchedi wants to make a good impression on the visitors so they will patronize her business – and perhaps place some online orders. However, she said it’s also important that Kent makes a good impression.
“It’s a beautiful city,” she said. “We’ve done a great job in downtown about revitalizing and bringing back local businesses.”
Sue Froyd, co-owner of Maggie’s on Meeker, said her restaurant is planning for an uptick in business Oct. 19 through Oct. 21. Maggie’s has participated in a coupon book and created some specials to try and take advantage of the impending crowds.
“It’s a wonderful opportunity to showcase Kent and the businesses,” she said. “We are just trying to entice them and make sure they know Maggie’s is an option for dining.”
David Oltmann, regional director of sales for Best Western Plus Park Plaza by the Green, said that during the same weekend last year, the hotel was at 80 percent occupancy. This year it’s completely booked.
“We are seeing an increased demand for lodging in the area,” he said. “We just want it to be a real successful event for the City of Kent.”
However, not all the hotels in the south King County city are seeing increased demand. Hawthorn Suites’ Senior Sales Manager Justine Fiedler said she doesn’t anticipate any increase in business directly related to Skate America.
“The only business effects we may get is some overflow of people who come to the ShoWare to watch Skate America. We might get a couple of room nights from that,” she said, adding that the hotel does book rooms for other events held at the events center. “They are just not staying in Kent.”
One reason why some Kent hotels aren’t booking room nights because of the event is that The DoubleTree by Hilton Seattle Airport was chosen to serve as the official host hotel for Skate America.
This is Skate America’s third visit to Washington. Everett played host in 2008 and Spokane in 2002. Those two events rank first and second, respectively, in terms of Skate America’s overall attendance.
However, planners didn’t initially plan to hold the event at ShoWare.
Tim Higgins, general manager of the center, said it hosted another skating event last year.
So, when Skate America’s first choice for 2012 fell through and alternative sites were being considered, ShoWare’s name came up in the conversation.
“That’s how it developed. He called us. We were able to get it done and here we are today,” Higgins said. “Any event we have in this building pays dividends. The example is how we got this event. Success breeds success in this industry.”
Higgins believes a successful Skate America event will not only affect ShoWare Center’s bottom line today, but in future years as well.
“The anticipated economic impact and the international television exposure that will bring to Kent and the ShoWare Center is exciting,” he said.
Breanne Coats can be reached at bcoats@BusinessExaminer.com.