As Tim Reid outlined the successes of this year’s K-Days festival, he was once again asked about about the future of Northlands.
“I’ve spent three years having these conversations about: what’s the future of Northlands?” the president and CEO said Wednesday.
“I feel more confident than ever before that there is a great future for Northlands.
“I think we’ve worked really hard with the City of Edmonton, as well as others, to find a path… There’s a lot of change on the horizon, not only for us, but for other organizations.
“If this K-Days showed us anything, it’s that you have an organization that can recover from significant challenges organizationally, significant event challenges, and still deliver over 800,000 visitors, I think to the credit of our people.”
When the Edmonton Oilers moved from Rexall Place to Rogers Place downtown, Northlands lost a big tenant. That means K-Days is one of the most important revenue-generators for Northlands.
This summer’s K-Days welcomed 13,000 more visitors through the midway gates than last year, Northlands said Monday. The total attendance for the 2017 fair was 816,250.
Reid said factors that likely helped boost attendance were the rodeo, concert series, pow wow and Pride Day.
In 2016, attendance at K-Days was up 2.3 per cent over 2015 to reach 803,087 total guests.
Next year, K-Days will take place from July 20 to 29.
Coun. Ed Gibbons is expecting a working agreement between Edmonton Economic Development Corporation (EEDC) and Northlands will be presented to city council by the end of August. He’s hearing about the progress on a tourism and convention deal.
Gibbons, who is a former board member of Northlands, said there’s good reason why a deal will get done: the city is holding the cards and city management is calling the shots.
“We put $18 million a year in Economic Development so they are us, just like Northlands is us, if you just look at the land and the buildings.”
Gibbons anticipates Northlands, to keep its costs down, will only lease from the city what it needs on a day-to-day basis.
“What is there under Northlands’ name? They can lease that portion of Expo that they need or the Coliseum that they need and continue.”
In the meantime, Northlands and the EEDC will jointly work to bring conventions and conferences to Edmonton.
“Bookings is an easy thing,” GIbbons said. “It should have always been there. We should have had one booking agency for the two facilities.”
Reid told the news conference that bookings into 2018 are in good shape and Northlands is already talking about 2019.