Country Stampede financial impact felt in Manhattan; expected to pull in millions

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Photo by Mason Swenson | The Collegian A Country Stampede worker keeps attendes cool, while selling spray bottles. Many attendes came back for seconds to help keep cool during the high heat outdoor concert.

This year was the 19th year for Country Stampede in Manhattan. The four-day event attracted thousands, according to Wayne Rouse, president and director of Country Stampede.

“We had a really good year as far as attendance,” Rouse said. “We had people from as far away as Marysville saying they couldn’t find hotels anywhere closer.”

Part of it was likely due to headliner Eric Church, said Karen Hibbard, vice president of the Manhattan area Chamber of Commerce.

“They really knocked it out of the park this year,” Hibbard said.

However, Hibbard said Country Stampede’s financial impact on Manhattan in general tends to be significant. More recent numbers are still being compiled, but according to 2011 information, the overall economic impact on Manhattan from Country Stampede was approximately $10,228,600.

Hibbard said it’s fair to expect this year’s impact to be even higher, which is compiled using a number of variables, including hotel occupancy rates. Taxes charged on purchased items are also included.

“They’re helping generate that impact in a variety of ways,” Hibbard said. “We don’t want people to think Country Stampede is just pocketing $10 million dollars.”

While Rouse wouldn’t divulge actual ticket sales, he did confirm the number was in the thousands. He also said this year the budget was increased about 35 percent.

“We bumped our budget up on talent,” he said. “That really helped.”

In addition to performers, the added budget money was also spent on site improvements. Rouse said excavators were brought in and the infield was redone so that it drained better. In previous years, Rouse said it was “a pretty big mess.”

Rouse said the average person who attends Country Stampede likely spends about $50 per day.

“A lot of them go out shopping at the stores in Manhattan and a lot of them go out to restaurants and get their beverages in Manhattan,” Rouse said. “I’d say that’s a pretty fair estimate.”

Hibbard said that estimate is likely on the conservative side, especially regarding businesses on the east side of town or along Tuttle Creek Boulevard.

The economic impact on Manhattan is significant even when compared with other conferences that happen in Manhattan, Hibbard said. Every year, for instance, the Kansas Farm Bureau Conference comes to town. According to Hibbard, the economic impact of that event tends to be $470,000, compared to the more than $10 million Country Stampede is expected to have.

However, not all business benefit from the event. Steve Berklund, business and advertising manager for Midwest Ace Hardware, across the street from Wal-Mart on Tuttle Creek, said they typically don’t see any increase in sales. If anything, he said, the opposite is true.

“If anything it’s the opposite,” Berklund said. “People are like, ‘Well, why buy something at Ace when I can go across the street and get it at Wal-Mart for a better price because they buy it by the truck load?'”

Like football games, Berklund said people attending Country Stampede may stop in on their way in or out of the event, but not usually in between.

“It’s really difficult for us to compete with Wal-Mart,” Berklund said. “But, I think it’s hard for anyone to compete with Wal-Mart.”

Rouse said Country Stampede 2015 is early in the planning stages. Blake Shelton has been announced as the first headline artist for next year’s event. Rouse said another artist should be announced in September, and the rest of the performers expected to be announced in November.

Rouse said the ticket price is likely to increase slightly, but not by a lot.

“They’ll probably go up a little bit,” Rouse said. “Overall, proportionately we’ve held the prices and they’re pretty reasonable.”

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Shelton grew up in the desert southwest. A native of Lancaster, California, he mostly grew up in south Phoenix, Arizona; Austin, Texas; and Colorado Springs, Colorado before moving to Kansas and graduating from Junction City High School. He started working as a news writer for the Collegian in 2009 before taking a three-year break from college. He returned to K-State in 2013 and has since worked for the news desk, feature desk, as a copy editor and now as a sports writer. He enjoys tap dancing, writing anything possible, reading court opinions and watching Arizona Coyotes hockey.