Lake Pleasant

Lake Pleasant is the early favorite to host a “special event” in 2020.

The Peoria City Council is taking a step toward authorizing a “signature event” in the city to attract tourists, businesses and to further instill pride in the city.

Several speakers presented their recommendations to the council based on several interviews with consultants and promoters from around the U.S. in an effort to workshop and create an event uniquely representative of Peoria.

“The council in the last budget year did put together a placemark for something a little different, a signature special event that really offers something a little different,” said city manager Jeff Tyne, of the $200,000 allocated by council in its last budget.

The recommended event, still nameless, would take place around the north cove of Lake Pleasant because many of the consultants and promoters appreciated the area and noted it is under-utilized. The headlining event would be a powerboat regatta, with several races and trick shows by fast ships available to the public to enjoy.

“They were really drawn to that area for visibility and the best-case weather scenario for an event,” Neighborhood and Human Services Director Chris Hallett reported.

Even on a particularly windy day, the water around the cove is still relatively smooth, ideal for boat racing.

Other aspects of the proposed signature event include flyboarding and jet ski competitions, as well as unique culinary experiences and art shows including glass blowing. 

According to the city’s research, similar events held annually in Bradenton, Florida and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania have great success. Bradenton’s festival draws nearly 100,000 visitors a year, while nearly 700,000 flock to the Pittsburgh event annually.

Concerns from the council included safety, fundraising and transportation to and from the event, should thousands attend like the event planners hope.

The committee will eventually flush out those details, they said, including a $115,000 increase in funds from the council and other city divisions not yet named.

“You’re going to need a good quarter to half-million dollars to even consider looking into a signature event, so it’s expensive, very scary, and they said it will take 3-5 years to be able to recover that money, but it’s a proven track record,” Hallett said of the estimates his department received.

He hopes local businesses will want to sponsor the event moving forward - after a year or two running a successful event in Peoria’s backyard. Which then, event planners can raise more funds for the event through local event sponsors.

While the council and interested parties will still need to work out the event’s logistics, the overriding feeling seemed to be the council is excited for the prospect of a tremendous event Peoria can call its own.

“I’m not familiar with the boat racing circuit,” said Peoria Councilman Michael Finn, “but I can’t really think of a better way to kind of utilize the lake than doing something on the water there, so I like the idea.” 

 Finn’s Palo Verde district includes the region from 67th Avenue to 96th Avenue and covers from Cactus Road north to Greenway Road.