Greeley's (Go) Cup Runneth Over
Earlier this year, the city of Greeley adopted an ordinance allowing alcohol to be consumed outdoors, within the specific boundaries of an entertainment district in downtown Greeley.
Although it’s only been in action since early June, the program known as ‘Go Cup’ is considered a success, drawing an average of 1,000 visitors each Friday evening. And, as reported last month in the Loveland Reporter Herald, it’s garnering lots of attention from other communities in the state.
Executive Director of Greeley’s Downtown Development Authority Pam Bricker, and the DDA’s Director of Downtown Experience Alison Hamling, say businesses have seen a boost this summer.
O’Toole: The Go Cup district is part of your organization’s efforts to reinvigorate downtown Greeley. And it’s actually the first open consumption area in Colorado. How did you make the case that something like this should happen in Greeley?
Pam Bricker: You know, we were perfectly set up. We already did Friday Fests – but we (only) did four of them a year. We’re able to close off traffic, which is one of the important regulations in the state law. It was a natural – that’s how we started the drive for the Go Cup.
O’Toole: How long did it take to get this plan together and get it approved?
Bricker: Well, I first heard about it in August of last summer. And from the minute I heard about it, that was in the back of my mind. I approached our board, and one of the recommendations from our study [.pdf here] was that we hire a person that spends their full time on events and marketing.
That person was Alison. She came on board, and she’s been with us exactly a year. So it has been a non-stop effort.
Alison Hamling: I think if we’d known ahead of time, what would be involved to get this off the ground and get it going, we might have had some second thoughts (laughs)... but once we were in it we were in it – and on the way.
We were really cutting new ground, you know; nobody else has done this before. There were insurance issues that nobody – that no underwriter has ever dealt with before. We called all over the country to get ideas and help, but we were really completely going through new territory.
O’Toole: There’s been a lot of interest in this idea from other communities – so much so that you had a symposium this past Friday. How many people showed up, who were they, and what did they want to know? What kind of issues were they wondering about?
Bricker: We had about 40 people here from all over the state. The program was so comprehensive, and included the city clerk’s office, the city manager’s office, the police chief as well as us – going through the entire process. You know, they didn’t have that many questions when they got done because we actually gave them such a gift of packets of information that took us months to complete. So it was a very successful seminar for them.
O’Toole: Alison, you mentioned insurance, and security and things like that. I’m sure people at the symposium – as did you when you were implementing this program – had concerns about health and safety too. I mean, problems can arise. How did you prepare to address these or even nip things before they started?
Hamling: We did a lot of things to – as you said – nip things before they started. One was our selection of the hours of operation. We chose 5 to 10 p.m. on Fridays. We didn’t want to go into the wee hours of the morning when, really, if there are going to be problems, that’s when they might occur.
And then, very visible security; we have two off-duty police officers down there every Friday, and a couple of guys from a company called Big Al’s security that are kind of big, buff-looking, official security-looking guys. They keep their eyes on things, and they keep a very close watch.
O’Toole: Any problems so far?
Hamling: None at all. It’s really been – we’ve had great crowds, and absolutely no problems.
Bricker: The emphasis has always been on a family event, and I think that has also helped. This isn’t just ‘everybody come down and get crazy and see how much you can drink in a few hours.’ We have wonderful children there every week, dancing in the streets and chalk art-ing and having a wonderful time. So people are very comfortable bringing their families down, and that is what’s also kept it a very no-problem event.
O’Toole: Are you planning to repeat the program next year?
Bricker: Absolutely. We do have to go back to City Council, because they did a sunset on their ordinance, to let them know how the year went and review. I don’t anticipate any problems or issues with that.
Hamling: We’ve checked with our establishment owners, who are actually the ones paying for it all through the association that is required to be formed. The bottom line is it has to make financial sense for them, and they’ve all indicated a strong desire to do this again next year. That tells you it’s working for their bottom line -- and that’s what it’s about.
O’Toole: Thanks so much!
Greeley’s Downtown Development Authority is being honored with a 2012 Governor’s Award for Downtown Excellence this week - in part for its reorganization based on a 2011 study, and for implementation of the program. The award will be presented Thursday, Sept. 13.
Go Cup continues through Oct. 26.