Festival Offers Yearly Economic Boost

The event, which last year attracted nearly 65,000 festival-goers, is viewed by organizers as a critical cog in the local economy with an estimated economic impact of nearly $4 million each summer. In fact, Common Ground has contributed approximately $50 million to the local economy over its 12-year run. Those numbers are based on economic impact formulas generated by the Greater Lansing Visitors & Convention Bureau.

“We bring visitors from within the region and outside the region. And it really is a regional impact. People could be staying at a hotel in Okemos or Delta Township and eating dinner beforehand in Holt. It all is measured for impact,” says Scott Keith, CEO of the Lansing Entertainment & Public Facilities Authority (LEPFA). “Those economic impact dollars are more than just hotels; it is bars and restaurants, gas, souvenirs and convenience items. It all adds up.”

In 2011, 43 percent of festival attendees came from outside the tri-county region. In fact, just over five percent of attendees last year came from out of state. Ticket sales came from 36 different states a year ago.

“Those are all new dollars coming into our community,” he says. “For every single outside visitor coming into the mid-Michigan community and spending the night there is $233 of economic impact.”

Its LEPFA’s secondary nonprofit corporation, called Center Park Productions, which runs Common Ground. It contracts with Meridian Entertainment Group to produce the festival.

The seven-day music festival, currently in its 13th year, has showcased more than 350 artists, including 36 Grammy Award winners and 21 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees.

Common Ground organizers are proud of the fact that they have been able to keep ticket prices low through the years. In fact, the original Common Ground pass was $60 for a six-day festival whereas today’s seven-day pass was initially priced at $69. Ticket prices are kept low because of the financial support of sponsors, organizers say.

“The level of local business support through the years has been phenomenal. Our sponsors are so supportive and critical to our success. We have a very good sponsor renewal year to year. They remain very favorable about the festival. They see the value of it for not only their employees but also the community as a whole,” Keith says.

The community is also impacted by the jobs the festival brings each year, according to Keith. Several hundred part-time jobs are created each year for several weeks leading up to Common Ground. In addition, some 400 volunteers also contribute their time to the event.

“The buildup effort begins the week of July 4, and then there is nearly a week of cleanup work that takes place. This is really a huge effort to pull everything off,” he says.

This year’s music schedule includes rockers Bush and Three Days Grace, along with country star Eric Church and legendary guitarist Joe Walsh. Actor Kevin Costner is bringing his band Modern West. The festival’s two stages—the main stage and the pavilion stage—will be filled with live music.

“The challenge of Common Ground each year is finding the right genres of music and the diversity we are looking for. We like to focus on top-level national musical groups and artists. We are always working on making the lineup better each year. Weather is always a challenge and impacts attendance.”

The annual festival, which runs from Monday, July 9, through Sunday, July 15, will again feature scores of food vendors and outdoor interactive activities for kids.

Common Ground got its start in 2000 with support from General Motors and the City of Lansing after organizers looked for alternatives to the former Michigan Festival.

“The Michigan Festival in East Lansing had gone away. There was a hole here in this market for such a festival. Common Ground was based on similar festivals around the country. The City of Lansing, Meridian Entertainment and LEPFA have always been heavily involved. GM was the presenting sponsor for a number of years,” Keith says.

Common Ground has long been a welcoming event for families pushing strollers and pulling wagons loaded down with lawn chairs and small coolers.

“It is great to see families come down to Common Ground. The location is ideal right along the river and parking is generally good,” Keith adds.

Purchase 2012 Common Ground tickets online or at the Common Ground Music Festival office on the northwest corner of N. Washington Avenue and Oakland Avenue, in Lansing.

Author: Randy J. Stine.
Photography: Terri Shaver.


Common Ground Music Festival

Kevin Meyer, Festival Director

Scott Keith, CEO, LEPFA

901 N. Washington Ave.






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