Gorge Amphitheater has big economic impact
SPOKANE — Nearly 400,000 people attended concerts at The Gorge Amphitheater in 2013, generating $4.6 million in state and local taxes, according to an economic study created by the owners as they seek to expand the scenic venue.
The Gorge is on a cliff above the Columbia River in rural Grant County, about 140 miles east of Seattle. Despite the remote location, it draws some of the nation’s top musical acts and festivals. On concert days, the 22,000-capacity amphitheater becomes the largest community in the county.
‘The Gorge Amphitheater has become an increasingly valuable cultural and significant economic asset to Grant County and the central Washington region,” said Jeff Trisler, president of Live Nation Northwest, which produced the study.
“The jobs created and taxes generated from Gorge concerts are substantial,” Trisler said. “Revenue concerts bring to Grant County governments far outweigh any costs incurred by those governments to serve concertgoers during our 20 event days each year.”
The Gorge employs about 1,500 people each concert weekend, he said.
However, concerts at the venue also strain the resources of local law enforcement agencies and sometimes produce drug arrests and overdoses. Last year, concert attendees left $400,000 in unpaid bills at the nearby Quincy Valley Medical Center.
The economic analysis, which covers the 2009 to 2013 concert seasons, was created by former Washington State Revenue Director Donald R. Burrows. It found:
—Grant County government received $1.5 million in taxes in 2013 and $5.3 million during the past five years.
—A total of 1.4 million people attended 60 concerts and festivals at the Gorge during the past five years, including 387,732 in 2013. Grant County has about 90,000 residents, and most concert attendees are from outside the county.
—Gorge attendees spent a total of $199.6 million in Grant County and in other nearby counties during the five years.
—The attendees’ 2013 expenditures of $55.8 million were 62 percent higher than the 2009 amount of $34.4 million.
—The Gorge paid $9.1 million in wages and salaries to more than 1,570 full and part-time employees and contract workers during the five year period. The majority of those workers were residents of Grant County.
“We expect our positive economic and fiscal impacts to grow in importance,” said Danny Wilde, general manager of The Gorge, as Live Nation seeks to modernize and expand the facility.
The Grant County Planning Department is currently weighing a request from Live Nation for a major expansion of The Gorge. The company wants to add a restaurant, cafi, cabins, outdoor cinema, grocery and camping stores, more stage space, additional RV spaces and 1,000 more camping sites.
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