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11/21/2012 2:38:00 PM
Council hoping to generate more revenue at the Festhalle
Photo by Kacie Thrift
The Leavenworth City Council is considering increasing the cost for renting the Festhalle. The current charges are $1,200 for a day, but the council in considering raising the fee to $5,000 or a percentage of gate, whichever is less.
Photo by Kacie Thrift
The Leavenworth City Council is considering increasing the cost for renting the Festhalle. The current charges are $1,200 for a day, but the council in considering raising the fee to $5,000 or a percentage of gate, whichever is less.

Ian Dunn
Editor


The Leavenworth City Council is considering raising the fees at the Festhalle in order to generate more revenue. At the Nov. 13 city council study session, City Administrator Joel Walinski described the proposed rate increase.

He explained the revenue at the Festhalle comes from three areas, Oktoberfest, Leavenworth Summer Theater and Saturday evening rentals, primarily quinceañeras. The effort, he said, has been to accommodate the two main groups and fill in the other days.

"The focus this year has been to move the non-profit groups from Sunday to Thursday," he said. "When you look at the proposed fee, if you want to make an impact in the dollars generated, it is going to be the commercial and private rates Friday and Saturday."

Leavenworth Summer Theater pays 8-to-10 percent of gate for their shows, he said. LST produces a summer and winter show in the Festhalle. Last year, $18,000 was generated from Summer Theater.

Projekt Bayern rents and pays full rate for the Festhalle on the Fridays and Saturdays of Oktoberfest. They also pay a partial fee for those other days when nobody can use the facility. Projekt Bayern also pays around $18,000 for use the Festhalle.

"What probably needs to happen, past raising the Festhalle rates, is Dave Winters (Festhalle Manager) and I need to sit down with LST and Projekt Bayern and put our fingers on long term contracts," he said. "There are certain things that benefit Projekt Bayern for putting on Oktoberfest. Have them make those improvements. Those capital improvements are a benefit. The same thing holds true for LST."

Councilman Tibor Lak said the price increase should be spread out for anyone that uses the building. Councilman Michael Molohon said it was a sticky wicket to just raise the rent.

"Projekt Bayern and LST are entirely different in the way they expend their funds," said Mayor Cheri Kelley Farivar. "For us to come back and say to Projekt Bayern we are looking at better lighting, but we can't afford to do it. We can say, how about funding a lighting project? This is not a conversation with the LST. They are just different."

Walinski said LST and Projekt Bayern are different, and should not be governed by a rate and fee schedule. Raising the rates and fees for commercial and private, local and non-local rates would have the most impact in terms of the dollars raised.

It was suggested the minimum rate should be $5,000 or a percentage of the gate. Farivar cautioned this might be tough on startups. It was noted that currently quinceañeras make up a majority of the Saturday evenings at the Festhalle.

"I don't think a lot of you know the spirit of Dave Winters," said Keven Rieke, who serves on the Leavenworth Civic Center Foundation Board. "We would love to have more Blues Festivals and that kind of thing. The quinceañeras fill up those weekends. If anybody come to the board with an idea, we would definitely take them over a quinceañera. The quinceañeras don't benefit the community. We are just getting their money."

Winters said there was a dozen quinceañeras at the Festhalle this year. He said it is like planning a wedding. The Festhalle is booked well in advance for these events. Currently, it cost $1,200 to rent the Festhalle for a night.

Lak feels the rate is too cheap, noting a normal cost would be $4,000 to $5,000. Winters agreed.

"We are a really good deal. Just my opinion. You really need to decide if there is a higher, better use for that place in terms of having other groups in," Winters said.

With the planned Festhalle improvements, Farivar said they will be on par with venues like the Wenatchee Center.

"Pretty quickly, we will, in a way we never have been able, to compete. Our prices need to go up commensurate with that," she said. "My question is about the $5,000 or percent of the gate. Have you considered how that is going to affect new festivals?"

Molohon suggested $5,000 or a percent of the gate, whichever is less. Farivar proposed a meeting with LCCF to further discuss this change.

Ian Dunn can be reached at 548-5286 or editor@leavenworthecho.com.





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