How has the opening of Grand Park affected businesses in Westfield?
By Lauren Olsen
On April 12 and 13, Grand Park Sports Complex hosted its largest tournament to date. On 18 soccer fields, 160 teams played 240 games – and combined with college baseball games – drew more than 28,000 visitors to Westfield.
Grand Park is bordered by West 186th and East 191st streets and Spring Mill and Tomlinson roads, but the positive benefits it is having on the city are reaching far beyond those lines. Officials are expecting 1.5 million visitors annually. Just a month into its soft opening, Grand Park has already seen almost 50,000 visitors – 95 percent of those are from out of town.
So what kind of effect is that having on local business?
“For local business, there is an air of excitement in Westfield,” said Julie Sole, Westfield Chamber of Commerce executive director. “Whether it is an existing business, some of which are contemplating ways to accommodate the added volume of customers by perhaps extending hours or opening an extra day, or a new business that has recently made the decision to move to the area base on the increased activity in the City, all are anticipating and looking forward to the growth they will experience as a result of Grand Park’s success.”
965 Tournament Trail – 2.3 miles from Grand Park
Mario Maldonado, assistant manager, said that with the opening of Grand Park, the restaurant has experience an influx of customers and he expects to get even busier as the summer progresses.
“We have seen a lot of families come through the drive through and place large orders for an entire team,” said Maldonado. “It is already having a good effect on business. I know the impact is going to be huge.”
Super Bowl Pho
112 E. Main St. – 4.2 miles from Grand Park
The owner of Super Bowl Pho, Leo Van, said they have not seen any change in business downtown from the opening.
“Right now the weekends are still the same, but we think things will pick up when it gets a little warmer outside,” he said.
Black Plum Café
303 E. Main St. – 4.4 miles from Grand Park
According to Nancy Nearon, owner of Black Plum Café, the restaurant has definitely seen a spike in sales since Grand Park began hosting games.
“We are getting busier and busier for breakfast. People are coming in for our homemade pastries, muffins and organic coffee,” she said.
Nearon has seen such an increase in business that she is considering franchising Black Plum Café.
Big Hoffa’s Barbeque
800 E. Main St. – 4.8 miles from Grand Park
Owner Adam Hoffman is very excited about the opening of Grand Park. The sports complex is already having an economic impact and Hoffman is looking forward to seeing how the year will go.
“We have noticed a huge difference in business on the weekends, we have been busier then we already are,” he said. “We had a party of 30 come in this past weekend, a whole soccer team … We love it.”
FirstWatch – The Daytime Café
1950 E. Greyhound Pass – 6.9 miles from Grand Park
The manager of FirstWatch, Lee Hyde, said that he thinks Grand Park is a great thing for the community.
“I think it has slightly increased our sales on the weekends,” he said.
Hyde is hopeful that he will continue to see improved sales on the weekends as summer arrives and more visitors come to Grand Park.
14647 N Meridian St. – 7 miles from Grand Park
Patrick Tate, the owner of this location, said, “We definitely saw an increase in business the first weekend Grand Park was open, it was very busy and it was mostly teams in here.”
Since that first weekend, they have not seen much of a change outside of the normal business, but Tate expects to see more teams in during the summer when Grand Park is officially open.
14550 Clay Terrace Blvd. – 7.3 miles from Grand Park
“Right now things are the same,” said Marsha Artusi, manager of Paradise Bakery at Clay Terrace Mall. Artusi said she is expecting things to pick up as the weather warms up and more visitors are coming into Grand Park.
Overall, the affect Grand Park is having on the neighboring communities has been great. Most places are seeing an increase in weekend business due to the large numbers of visitors in the area and from what most businesses are predicting, it is only going to get better.
Prepping for the rush
At the city level, hospitality coordinator Rhonda Daly said she has heard and seen the impact of Grand Park which is helping Westfield sell itself.
“It’s absolutely having a huge impact on the surrounding businesses. Especially the restaurants, you see teams in uniforms because of the play at Grand Park,” she said. “What’s most exciting is not just the volume of people, but the minimizing of glitches, having never done this before.”
To assist the community, Daly has been asked to inform businesses about scheduling at Grand Park so they are prepared for large events.
“That’s what I am doing right now, sending weekly or a couple weeks advance notice to help them with scheduling and supplies,” she said.“We are also getting maps out so visitors know where everything is located.”
While Daly is not permitted to share details, she said the opening has increased interest from various restaurants and hotels.
“As the numbers grow, so does the interest. They (perspective businesses) have been waiting to see the data to sell the idea to the corporate offices. We knew it was going to be popular. Now everybody is seeing just how popular,” she said.