Many old favorites will return to the Saratoga Springs City Center in 2018, but there will also be some new conventions.
Saratoga Springs City Center Executive Director Ryan McMahon said 175 events are planned for the coming year, including conferences, expos and conventions.
“We’re about 70 percent repeat business,” he said. “When you’re busy, it becomes harder to add new events.”
The City Center has added several new events for the 2018 season, including the Saratoga Wine and Chocolate Festival in April and the REVEAL Art Fair in August.
Jacquie Grande, president and founder of the REVEAL Art Fair, said the international contemporary show will take place Aug. 2-6.
“It will provide a platform for 50 select galleries that showcase the foremost emerging mid-career and established artists,” she said. “Each gallery will bring art from artists they represent, so attendees will see art from 200 international artists.
“Where else could you see that many artists from around the world under one roof?”
Grande, a Saratoga Springs resident, said she anticipates the event will elevate the community’s arts culture.
“It’s accessible to everyone, whether you want to come browse or purchase art or attend discussions as part of the education symposium,” she said.
In the future, Grande said she plans to expand the event.
“Nothing of this magnitude has been done in Saratoga, and it will provide a new market to exhibit and sell art,” she said.
Events at the City Center contribute significantly to the city’s economy, as attendees stay in hotels, shop in stores and dine at local restaurants.
Saratoga Convention & Tourism Bureau President Todd Garofano said the economic impact of events this year at the City Center was more than $67 million, a 16 percent increase over 2016.
“It’s a huge driver for the economy in the city outside of racing season,” he said. “Fall convention season is important not only for our hotels, but for area restaurants and shops, as we head into winter.”
Garofano said the bureau’s sales team is constantly traveling in search of business opportunities, whether small meetings or large conventions. He added that 2018 is looking strong in terms of economic impact from City Center events.
“We’re pacing a little bit ahead of where we were this time last year in terms of group and night room hotel bookings,” Garofano said. “City Center is booking ahead too, so next year looks good.”
While the number of events held annually at the City Center remains steady, the number of paid-use days has increased. One paid-use day represents 24 hours of time for which the City Center is being paid for use of its space.
Director of Sales Susan Baker said the center had 260 paid-use days in 2016 and 273 in 2017.
The Alpin Haus RV Show will kick off the 2018 City Center season, followed by the New East Coast Arms Collectors Associates Arms Fair.
February features include the 20th annual Chowderfest and 31st annual Flurry: A Festival of Traditional Dance and Music.
Fran Dingeman, owner of Network Saratoga and member of the Saratoga Springs Downtown Business Association Board of Directors, said events at the City Center are critical to the city’s economy.
“We have slow times of the year, so the commerce the City Center brings to our downtown businesses is critical for filling in those gaps,” she said. “It’s a worthwhile business year-round.”