Is there a Way to Bring Back Large Events That Generate Billions For Valley’s Economy?

Is there a Way to Bring Back Large Events That Generate Billions For Valley’s Economy?

Kitty Alvarado Connect

When stay at home orders went into effect in March, the way we do things changed. No more mass gatherings, large events were cancelled. This severely impacted the valley’s economy where music festivals, conventions and international events bring in big dollars. Before the pandemic, the city of Palm Springs had big plans. 

“We spent the better part of the last ten years building focused on building the Palm Springs brand, bringing Palm Springs back, the downtown mall, the convention center, the new hotels … then COVID hits and all of a sudden you’ve got to stop,” says David Ready, the Palm Springs city manager.

That stop has shrunk their budget by $50 million, but their focus is now on keeping their residents and visitors safe while trying to think outside the box to make sure businesses can survive the pandemic too. They’re doing things like expanding outdoor dining by shutting and drive in movies.
“So we’re looking to do the immediate things to we can to help and then of course we’re looking to reentry into a post COVID where we’re ready to hit the ground running again,” says Ready.
But they’re projecting this may continue for the rest of this year plus some of next year and that’s the problem. No one can plan around this virus.
Joshua Bonner, President of the Greater Coachella Chamber of Commerce says large events are a major part of the valley’s economy, “You’re talking with a b, not an m, billions, billions of dollars that we’re losing in overall economic activity not just to the local Coachella Valley but to the region.”

He chairs the county’s Economic Recovery Task Force Large Event Gathering Committee.

He’s seen the images of the concert in the U.K., where metal pods were installed to keep concertgoers socially distanced. 

He says the list of issues with putting on events right now is long, “My committee has been looking at this now for the last two months and it’s hard, it’s very difficult to come up with controlled parameters that keep people safe,” adding people can’t stay in one place, “how do you get them in, how do you get them out, what if they have to go to the restroom … what started out as a very safe venture all of a sudden you’ve got a couple thousand people hanging out together and you’re thinking man this isn’t good.”

Plus he says investing in safety measures and cutting the amount of people that can attend won’t generate profit to make the risk worth it. 

“Is it worth it for us just to wait for the vaccine to come rather than try to invest in pods or whatever it may be to make this happen so I do think we are  in a little bit of a holding pattern right now.” 

 

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