Revenue up at Marquette Park Pavilion, but plenty of room to grow, officials say
BY MICHAEL GONZALEZ Post-Tribune correspondent September 8, 2013 10:14PM
The renovated Marquette Park Pavilion opened in May 2012. The facility has generated about $100,000 in revenue from events this year, which is a lot more than last year, but officials say they can do better. | Sun-Times Media File Photo
Pavilion for rent
The costs to rent space at Marquette Park Pavilion vary with the day and location.
For example, renting the ballroom on a Sunday costs $1,280, which includes security and maintenance but not a $500 refundable security deposit.
Renting the same space for a Saturday event will run $1,780, not including the security deposit.
A formal lounge is available to rent at $630 Monday through Thursday, or $780 Friday through Sunday. Renting an outdoor dance pavilion costs $630 to $780.
For more information on pricing, an application or to book an event, visit Marquetteparkgary.com.
Updated: September 10, 2013 11:58AM
GARY — It was Friday afternoon, and workers continued to build a temporary drive-in theater in a parking lot abutting Lake Michigan hours before a special “family night” double-feature, outdoors under the stars.
A group of area residents is planning a 5K run, a half-marathon and a full marathon, all of them winding through Miller, the National Lakeshore and Marquette Park.
A business will hold a launch party to draw attention to its grand opening and, parks officials hope, to the nearly 90-year-old Marquette Park Pavilion.
Those are the kinds of events Parks and Recreation officials hope will generate more bookings and more revenue at the pavilion and Marquette Park.
“Overall, these events may have drawn your attention to come to the park and the pavilion, but, when you see it, you may think, ‘Oh, wow, I can have my family reunion or my wedding there,’ ” pavilion manager LaShawn Brooks said.
The pavilion, which underwent an extensive rehabilitation thanks to the $28.2 million Marquette Park upgrade funded by the Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority, has hosted significantly more events than last year’s short season.
But it also has not yet met expectations of at least two events each weekend through the year. That goal may have been “overinflated” during the planning process, said parks and recreation director Lori Latham.
“We were being a little too ambitious,” she said. “We didn’t account for people needing more advance time to plan for their events” such as weddings. Still, the numbers showed progress.
The renovated pavilion opened in May 2012, and total revenue from the facility that year was $16,664.
So far this year, it’s generated $100,200 from 53 paid events. Brooks said she expects 13 more paid events this year, and she’s pushing the pavilion as an ideal spot for holiday parties.
A new contract with pavilion caterer Rome’s Joy also has been a boon for the building. With about 20 percent of food and alcohol sales going to the city, the pavilion generated $7,396 in May, when the new contract kicked in, compared to $1,540 in April.
The pavilion and parks department received another boost when the Common Council last month voted to pump another $30,000 into advertising the pavilion.
Last weekend’s events — the pop-up drive-in theater and the races — were meant to expose the pavilion and Marquette Park to more potential customers with different events in mind, Latham said.
“Every event doesn’t have to be a banquet or $30,000 wedding,” she said. “You can come here and still have a really nice, moderately priced event.”