Beyond concerts, Village officials see opportunity for business, community growth
by Melanie Jongsma
LANSING, Ill. (May 31, 2018) – “What I like about the design of it,” said Ken Reynolds, “is that it’s versatile. You have an amphitheater, you have lawn seating, you have a pavilion, you have a concessions building, you have a washroom building—it’s four primary buildings that can be used for a variety of events.”
As Director of Communications for the Village of Lansing and Executive Assistant to Mayor Patty Eidam, Reynolds has been in on all the meetings about Fox Pointe. He is enthusiastic about the opportunities the venue represents.
But he’s also cautious about overcommitting.
“You have to crawl before you can walk,” he says. And since Fox Pointe is a new venture, there’s a lot to learn. Reynolds wants to make sure Lansing is ready when guests start arriving.
Getting ready involves much more than making sure the Fox Pointe buildings are finished and the Fox Pointe lawn is installed. Getting ready means that all of Lansing has to be prepared for additional traffic on our streets, additional patrons in our businesses, and additional visitors getting a first impression of Lansing. Reynolds understands that if a two-hour event draws 500 new people to downtown Lansing, they will need a place to park and probably a place to grab a quick meal or refreshment. If the weather is nice, they might choose to walk along Ridge Road and explore the shops. And if their overall experience is positive, they’ll come back.
That’s the kind of “getting ready” Reynolds has in mind. The hundreds of details associated with Fox Pointe construction—buildings, sidewalks, landscaping, parking, foot traffic flow, and impact on the surrounding neighborhoods—are only the first phase of readiness. Reynolds wants Ridge Road businesses to be ready too, and he wants the empty buildings on Ridge Road to be filled, perhaps with new types of businesses that are “a little more upscale, a little more tourist-conscious” in addition to our current offerings. Coordinating the Fox Pointe event schedule with local history walks, bike tours, park district activities, pop-up art fairs, or Youth Center events would be another way to keep visitors in town longer and give them a good experience while they’re here.
Planning and growing
The Village recognizes that the purpose of having a venue like Fox Pointe is to host events—a variety of events, not just music concerts. In order to achieve the goal of having a steady stream of activities at Fox Pointe, the plan is for a specific someone to be responsible for booking, scheduling, and communicating—a job that will require a broad range of administrative skills. Village officials are still finalizing the details of that plan.
Reynolds sees the 2019 season at Fox Pointe as a “walk before you run” year, and he would like 2019 events to be smaller in scale or “lower-key” in order to give Lansing an opportunity to learn how to coordinate and host events well, “making sure we have enough parking, making sure we have logistics in place, making sure the quality is there.” As Lansing gains experience in becoming an event host, we can ramp up to larger events, with a goal of then being able to offer a mix of big-name experiences and small-town programming.
“Fox Pointe gives us the potential to run an event venue that benefits our town in a variety of ways,” said Reynolds. “We know we have to get it right, and in order to get it right we have to make sure in year number one that we didn’t miss anything massive. And then we continue to grow.
“We want to make sure we can handle what we do in year one, and then we continue to take resident input, community input, to ensure that the Fox Pointe venue is something that makes Lansing the place to be.”