The Salina Journal Sunday, February 2,1986 Page S29 Scott Wllllami Past champion John Neighbors brought his LeGrand from Houston, Texas, to run in the National Solo II Championships. Evelyn Burg«r Farmers look over a folding combine header at the Mid-America Farm Expo, one of the three largest such shows in the state. Big events are shots in Salina's economic arm By ROBERT ENTRKEN JR. Special Sections Editor Two weeks of March filled with basketball, wrestling and a farm show, the Smoky Hill River Festival in June, and a triad of sports car championships in September lead a list of annual events with the greatest economic impact on Salina. .' To keep a community's economy healthy it is necessary to bring new money to town. One of the many ways to accomplish that end is to attract a number of events that, in turn, draw visitors to Salina. !; That is the job of John Ryberg, head of the Salina Area Chamber of .Commerce's Visitors and Convention Bureau. Ryberg, although pleased ;with the facilities Salina has for a variety of events and with the events flow coming, is far from complacent. •Among his long-term projects at the •moment: a national convention that 'would involve special flight schedules to Salina by a major airline, and a permanent "attraction" to enhance further the city's desirability as a jneeting and event site. '. The five events Ryberg puts at the 'top of his list bring, he said, more .than $1.25 million in direct dollars to .Salina. The conventional formula to gauge an event's economic impact is to multiply the direct-dollar figure by five — that being the average number of times a new dollar will change hands before it becomes "lost" in the city's financial base. Thus, Ryberg's Top Five events have a yearly value of more than $6.2 million to the Salina community. No. 1 on Ryberg's hit parade is the Sports Car Club of America, which has held its National Solo II Championships in Salina six times. But that event, which has grown from a weekend affair at its first visit in 1975 to a 4Vfe-day showdown last year, now balloons to a nine-day, triple- championshin extravaganza estimated to bring some 2,000 upscale visitors to Salina for anywhere from two to nine days, and expected to leave behind something in the neighborhood of half a million dollars' worth of new money. "And that's direct dollars," Ryberg said. "When you put the multiplier in, that's a $2% million effect." Location and facilities are the two factors that have made Salina the home of what Terry Bassett, SCCA's solo events manager, intends to make "the Olympics of solo." Entertainment Tourism/Leisure The apparently ample facilities of Airport Park originally brought the event to Salina, but when more than 600 drivers converged on the site last year it became apparent the event had outgrown even that mile-long slab of concrete. SCCA has negotiated a multi-year agreement with the City of Salina to use a new site at the Salina Municipal Airport — north of the Beech hangar and west of the Highway Patrol Division II headquarters — for the Sept. 13-21 showcase of the solo sport. On the first weekend, the inaugural National Solo I Championships is scheduled. For this event, a racetrack-type layout must be created. Solo I offers the speeds of full-bore racing, but one at a time. Solo I cars must be race-ready and the drivers must have competition licenses. The National Solo II Championships now take up the weekdays, with Monday reserved for course setup and familiarization, Tuesday through Friday for the champion- ships themselves. The second weekend will be devoted to the Pro Solo Championships, in which drivers compete on mirror- image Solo II courses for cash prizes instead of trophies. The three championships are expected to draw more than 800 entrants, accounting for more than 2,000 visitors to Salina with most of them here for several days. "This is one of the, if not the, biggest single event in Salina," Ryberg said. In that respect, Ryberg was speaking in economic terms rather than in head count. The Smoky Hill River Festival is the obvious leader there. Festival tallies of 75,000 people through the Oakdale Park gates admittedly count most people more than once. In terms of economic effect, Ryberg estimates attendance at about 20,000. In direct dollars, Ryberg figures the festival brings in about $400,000 to Salina, which the five-times multiplier turns into a 1,300 Salina motel rooms await guests : By CAROL LICHTI Staff Writer Last year's reopening of the Salina Inn with this year's anticipated opening of the Salina Holidome and the revival of the former Hilton Inn means travelers to Salina will have a wide spectrum of lodging to choose from. : , That aspect has attracted a lot of people's attention to Salina, said John Ryberg, director of the Salina Area Chamber of Commerce's Convention and Visitors Bureau. However, Ryberg said there are two areas the industry needs to address in order for demand to meet the increased availability of motel 'rooms. Attempts to market the bus '.tour business should be made and Sauna should be made a traveler's destination rather than a city passed by on the interstate. ; The Salina Inn, 222 E. Diamond Drive, which closed in March 1984, reopened a year later making its 108 rooms available again. The motel was closed after the former owners' attempts to reorganize the motel out of bankruptcy failed. Plans to reopen the former Hilton Inn, Fifth and Iron, were announced in December by the Salina Motel Partnership. The partnership involves two local investors, two former Salinans, a Kansas City attorney and two officials with the Grand American Hotel Corporation, Overland Park. The corporation would be responsible for managing the motel, which is scheduled to reopen sometime in late spring. I The past year has also brought the Closing of the Flamingo Motel, 500 E. •Pacific, which had 54 rooms. Three <>ther motels, the Airliner Motel, 781 N. Broadway, Motel 7, 635 W. Diamond Drive, and the former Holiday Inn, 435 S. Broadway, are operating linder new ownership. The Red iCoach Inn, 2110 W. Crawford, is in the process of a remodeling and expansion project that will add about 11 rooms to the motel. • Construction on the Salina Holiday Inn & Holidome, 1616 W. Crawford, iegan last July. It is expected to open in June. Its opening along with the reopening of the former Hilton will mean an all tune high for local motel rooms with about 1,300 available in the city. 7 "It's going to help Sauna tremendously," Ryberg said. • Conventions for the Holidome already have been booked, including one in July, and Salina is attracting a lot of attention from people wanting to book conventions, he said. Niles Hauser, manager of the Red Coach Inn, 2110 W. Crawford, said he Is looking forward to working with the Holidome management. "It will mean more people coming in and more opportunity for business," Hauser said. • Because the Holidome will have convention space for 800 people with New suites and meeting rooms are being added at the Red Coach. 192 rooms, those attending Holidome conventions are expected to create an overflow of motel guests who will need to find rooms elsewhere, Hauser said. The Red Coach, which is booking more meetings, is in the midst of a remodeling project, Hauser said. The expansion involves the addition of 3,000 square feet of meeting space, which will give the motel a total meeting space of 11,000 square feet. The remodeling also involves the addition of two honeymoon suites, five two-room executive suites and five motel rooms which will make a total of 114 rooms by mid-May. The courtyard pool will be filled and a building constructed in its place for a whirlpool, sauna and workout room to be finished by mid-July. Shirley and Marshall Voss are more than pleased with the success of the reopening of the Salina Inn. The first year has been much better than anticipated, Mrs. Voss said, considering the motel had been closed for a year. "It took a while for people to realize we were opening and running and to come back," she said. Spearl Ellison, Ramona, Calif., placed the only bid for the property at a January 1984 auction and asked the Vosses to manage it. The Vosses have managed other property for Ellison in California. The partnership undertaking the reopening of the former Hilton Inn includes Salinans Jim and Darwin Sampson of the Grain Belt Supply Company; former Salinans Gaylord and Sherman Johnson, both of Lenexa; Kansas City, Mo., attorney G. Robert Fisher; and the president and vice president of the Grand American Hotel Corporation, Joe Ross and Bruce Boettcher. The 144-room Hilton closed in January 1984 after the owner, Beacon Management of Oklahoma City, filed for bankruptcy. A short time before it closed, the motel lost its Hilton franchise. It was operating as the Hospitality Inn at the time it closed. A new name for the motel has not yet been announced. With the impending arrival of the Holidome on the scene, Salina's former Holiday Inn at 453 S. Broadway will undergo a transformation. The motel is operating under the new title of the Holiday Plaza under the ownership and management of Doug Weaver. Weaver, who comes from a family involved in motel management, said plans are in the works to remodel the motel rooms and redecorate the lobby. The restaurant at the motel will be run by the motel's former manager, Moira Brouddus, Weaver said. Salina's Airliner Motel is now operating under the management of Rick Sunderman. As of Oct. 1, the motel's new owner is Richard Thouvenell of Joplin, Mo. Motel 7 also is operating with new owners, but is still under the management of Dee Van Dame. On Nov. 1, Maxwell & Associates of Wichita took over ownership of the 82-room motel. Park development under way By JESSICA CARD Staff Writer Even on a chilly winter day dedicated golfers may be spotted along East Crawford Street. The Salina City Commission and Recreation Commission plan to change this so more than golfers, cross-country runners and race-car drivers may use the undeveloped site along the old airport runway on East Crawford. Don Jolley, director of community services, said "a regional recreation area" was being developed. When planned improvements to what has been called Airport Park are completed, it will include a baseball diamond and «p to six softball diamonds for adult programs, an indoor recreation facility, a tennis court complex, hiking and biking trails, recreational vehicle and tent campgrounds, a senior citizen exercise area, playground ana picnic areas, and changes to ancillary areas of the golf course. Jolley calls the development the "East Crawford Family Recreation Area" to create the impression of a multi-purpose, family-oriented facility that will be used by people around the area. "It will be unique in this part of the state," Jolley said. "Two years ago the city and recreation commissions decided to begin regular, systematic development of facilities through adopting a revised, capital- improvement program," Jolley said. "We are conducting an improvement program that spends $225,000 per year here and in other parks — $125,000 from the sales tax, $100,000 from the Recreation Commission's capital outlay budget." Jolley said the recreation commission's major projects for 1985 included the dirt work completed so far at the East Crawford Family Recreation Area at a cost of $2 million impact. That puts the festival No. 2 on his economic hit parade. But how does he figure an event bringing in one- tenth as many'people is worth more? "The River Festival is an attraction that brings people here, but in direct economic benefit, the Solo Championships outdoes the River Festival," Ryberg said. "(The solo drivers) are here longer than the River Festival; they're filling motels in the middle of the week. "I really think from bottom-line dollars, SCCA could be our biggest," Ryberg said. In contrast to the Solo Championships, which brings people who come long distances and spend locally, much of the money spent at the River Festival leaves town with the artists, Ryberg noted, and many of the people attending are day-trippers who come for the festival and then go home again. Still, the River Festival figures strongly in Salina's economic well- being, not to mention its place in enhancing the community's 'quality of life. This year, as Kansas celebrates its 125th anniversary, the June 13-15 Salina River Festival has been designated as one of the seven "125th Anniversary Regional Events" throughout the state. (The others: Wichita River Festival, May 9-18; Fort Scott's Good 01' Days, June 6-8; Festival International at the Agriculture Hall of Fame west of Kansas City, June 2122; Lawrence's Independence Days, July 5-6; the Dodge City Days, July 25-Aug. 2; and the Hansen Arts and Crafts Festival in Logan, Sept. 20.) The last two weeks of March bring a trio of events which should make that month a healthy one for the Salina economy. March 13-15 is the state 4A Basketball Tournament, with both the boys' and girls' championships at stake at the Bicentennial Center. Ryberg figures that event will being about $130,000 in direct dollars to Salina, a figure that could rise dramatically if a nearby team is in the tournament and especially if that team makes the finals. A few days later, the Mid-America Farm Expo begins. The March 18-20 event — one of the three largest such $75,000, contracting for irrigation systems for the ball diamonds and the new golf driving range at a cost of $50,000, a new decorative fountain for Sunset Park at a cost of $20,000, replacing the lighting system for the tennis courts at Oakdale Park at a cost of $25,000, and a playground in Oakdale Park for the handicapped at a cost of $25,000 (donations also helped fund the playground), and $30,000 to improvements and repairs at Lakewood Lodge. Among other 1985 SRC actions, a plot of land near Carver Center was dedicated in the name of John H. Parker Jr., a Salina rhythm and blues singer who died in 1970 at age 21. Plans for the 1986 budget include developing three existing neighborhood parks, constructing a storage building and developing the regional recreation area. South Park at 10th and Prescott, Centennial Park at Commanche and Cypress, and Phillips Park at 12th and Iron are earmarked for the improvements. Jolley said designs will be prepared after neighborhood studies assess the needs for the parks. One of the more immediate needs being met by the new East Crawford construction is the relocation of two ball diamonds now in use at the Sauna Municipal Airport on land owned by the Airport Authority. The 16-acre site, location of one baseball field and one softball field, is considered a prime industrial location. Jolley said that he is always asked if the new ball diamonds will be lighted, a reference to a controversy some years ago over the lack of lighting at the Bill Burke Park ballfields. "Of course they'll be lighted. They're adult facilities," Jolley explained. "Burke diamonds are not lighted because they are for kid ballgames that are scheduled to end before 9 p.m. They don't need 10 be lighted." A Salina River Festival crowd listens to jazzman Jay McShann's trio. events in the state, Ryberg said — gives local motels a healthy boost during the slower midweek period and means another $100,000 in direct dollars for the city. March 28-30 brings the Kansas Kid Wrestling Federation tournament with some 800 young grapplers in town seeking state championships in numerous weight classes. The wrestling — of the type seen in the Olympics and on the collegiate and scholastic levels — will pump another $125,000 or so into the Salina economy. But Ryberg dreams beyond wrest lers and artists and sports car drivers. Local Shriners are bidding for the national Shrine directors convention in 1990. Whether or not that bid is won, the groundwork being laid for it may produce other benefits. The big problem, Ryberg said, is how to get the directors here if Sauna wins the bid. An adequate airfield, obviously, is no problem, but scheduled air transportation here is. Exploratory discussion with airlines has opened up the possibility of either charter flights to Salina, or extended runs of scheduled airlines. "But-the one thing people have told me we need is an 'attraction,' something that would make Salina an interesting place to visit," Ryberg said. "That's why we're working so hard on the CAF thing." The Confederate Air Force, a 7,000- member organization of aviation buffs restoring and flying warplanes of mostly World War II vintage, recently changed its bylaws to permit moving its museum and headquarters from out-of-the-way Harlingen, Texas, near the southern tip of the Lone Star State, to some other location. Ryberg has hopes Salina's location in the nation's bullseye, its military aviation heritage, and the fact the city is small enough that the CAF Museum would be a standout attraction much as the Football Hall of Fame is at Canton, Ohio, may serve to put Salina high on CAF's short list of candidates—if the CAF decides to move at all. October opening planned for Smoky Hill Museum By BOB KELLY Staff Writer Since August 1984, Ed Stelfox has been a man with a mission — a mission to preserve part'of Salina's rich history. As director of the Smoky Hill Museum, that means watching out for both the big and the little details of converting the old Sauna Post Office building on West Iron into a modern museum. Take the woodwork for instance. Workers aren't going to rip it all out and start over. They will try to restore as much of the wood wainscoting around the main floor as possible, even stripping off the old gray paint. Where the wood is too badly damaged, workers are milling the new wood to match the old. "We are trying to keep all the original woodwork that we can keep," Stelfox said. Some areas actually have been remodeled to reflect more accurately the way they looked when the post office buildutg first opened in 1938. The old wood flooring that once creaked under the steady flow of mail carts also will stay although its stain will be toned down. The only carpet planned for the main 7,500- square-foot display area is on the sides of 22 movable display areas that will be scattered throughout the cavernous area. "This building is a fantastic building for a museum," Stelfox said, who was director of the Dacotah Prairie Museum in Aberdeen, S.D., when he was hired to direct the Salina museum. Stelfox, however, won't be here to see the museum's grand opening in October. He resigned in late January and will be moving to Corvallis, Ore., in May where his wife will finish a degree in hotel-restaurant management. * He will continue to oversee renovation work now under way. That work is expected to be completed by April 30. Storage space — something the old museum in Oakdale Park lacked — should be one of the bright points of the new facility. In addition to the main display area, a large freight elevator leads downstairs to an 8,000-square-foot storage and work area and a planned passenger elevator will lead upstairs to another 3,000 square feet of display area that is available for future use. But even with the extra space, Stelfox doesn't plan to have the entire museum collection displayed all at one time. Instead, the displays will rotate periodically, and some "period" rooms will be displayed upstairs in the future. He hopes the museum will select carefully the future additions for its collection. He firmly believes that if the museum is not capable of restoring or maintaining an object, it should not be accepted. Antique farm machinery, for instance, would be too heavy and bulky for display at the downtown location. That's one reason why Stelfox is happy to see the Central Kansas Flywheels Museum also in Salina. "As that organization grows that will be a marvelous complement to this museum," he said. The city funds the museum, which will continue its free admission policy, but the Salina Arts and Humanities Commission will be the policymaking body for the new facility. Sauna and area residents will get a chance to find out more about the museum during June's Smoky Hill River Festival when the museum sponsors an exhibit, "Making of a Museum," at the festival.
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