September 25, 2016

Gallivan Plaza or Pioneer Park?

With its most popular season ever now finished, Main Street business owners weigh in on the venue change.

by Jacob Hodgen

The 2010 Twilight Concert Series is now behind us, and it was a phenomenal success. With big name, indie headliners like Modest Mouse and She and Him, and a strategic move from the Gallivan Center to Pioneer Park, Thursday nights in Salt Lake City have been some of the highlights of the summer.

With news of the popular concerts traveling far and wide, this year’s lineup drew up to 40,000 people a night and sent a massive injection of cash into some lucky, local businesses. It was even popular enough that it also brought something most people would have previously thought to be absurd: people actually traveling from out of state to Utah to join in on the Salt Lake City music scene.

Zooey Deschanel Twilight Concert  in Utah

Zooey Deschanel performing on the stage at the Twilight Concert Series at Pioneer Park. Approximately 30,000 people were in attendance. 40,000 people attended the Modest Mouse concert. The Gallivan Plaza can accommodate up to 16,000 people.

Who would have ever thought?

While just about everyone is thrilled by the series’ success, some business owners on Main Street are, well. . . considerably less thrilled by the venue change.

Rob Eddington owns Murphy’s Bar and Grill on Main Street, a popular hang out for locals, and he tells me the move wasn’t good for him. “Business has been down 40% this summer,” he laments. Though they lost their prime location next to the concert series, Murphy’s could soon benefit from the increased traffic of the City Creek Center, but Rob isn’t holding his breath. “The City Creek Center will have lots of tourists,” he tells me. “Look around, do you see any tourists in here?”

Travis and Errt are patrons of Main’s Cheers to You. They tell me they still have mixed feelings about the move. “I had a lot of great times at the Gallivan Center over the years. It’s sad to see it to go somewhere else. On the other hand, though, there has been so many more people coming to the concerts this year that it seems to be packing the whole city now—not just Main Street.”

Angela is the night manager for Lamb’s Grill on Main, and she tells me that she isn’t worried. “We never got many concert goers in here. It just wasn’t our kind of clientele,” she says. “In fact, I used to hate Thursday nights, because it was so hard to get out of the city. It was scary just getting on an elevator downtown after the shows.”

Don’t forget that up until just recently, Pioneer Park was seen by most locals as a forlorn and drug-infested wasteland. After a network of surveillance cameras, frequent nighttime police patrols, and the rapid growth of the weekend Farmer’s Market, Pioneer Park is now slowly but surely changing its bad boy reputation for the better.

Lastly, there are other considerations for the venue shift, which can be considered a huge win for the LDS Church. After decades of struggling to maintain absolute control over the Temple Square area, and who or what goes on in the vicinity, booting the likes of 40,000 raucous rockers to Pioneer Park keeps them a safe distance from the high rolling, upper caste Mormons that will soon populate the new City Creek Center.

Because—let’s face it—people who are willing to pay $2 million for a condo overlooking the Temple don’t want to have to have to hurdle hipsters at night every Thursday on their way to Deseret Book.