Pleasanton Weekly

Opinion - September 3, 2010

Look for a crowded (and profitable) weekend

For those in the restaurant, hotel and retail businesses, last weekend and the coming three-day holiday weekend are giving financial relief in what's been an economic struggle all summer. Crowds filled our town for the 24th annual Goodguys West Coast Nationals last Friday, Saturday and Sunday, attracting more than 60,000 to the Alameda County Fairgrounds and filling more than 3,500 hotel rooms. Between those who spent the night and the day-trippers who came for the fun and possibly a lunch or dinner downtown, the Tri-Valley Convention & Visitor's Bureau (CVB) estimates that the event had a $4.8 million impact on our Tri-Valley economy with a large portion of that spent in Pleasanton.

This weekend two more major events get under way: the Scottish Games at the Fairgrounds and the 29th annual Livermore Valley Harvest Wine Festival. This year's Wine Festival, which is being held Sunday and Monday, expects to welcome more than 7,000 visitors from throughout the Bay Area, earning an estimated $420,000 in revenue. New this year is an agreement by two major wineries, Wente Bros. and Concannon, to host a number of the smaller wineries at their larger facilities, allowing wine aficionados to sample a wide variety of wines at each location.

The Scottish Games, with special events starting today and the games on Saturday and Sunday, is a much larger event with at least 35,000 expected to be in Pleasanton during the three-day period. Again, with many planning overnight stays, the CVB is estimating that more than $2 million will be spent on food, hotel rooms, shopping and gasoline.

With the Goodguys crowd especially and to some extent the families who come for the Scottish games, not everyone stays at the event. Spouses, teenagers and younger children often take breaks, which is why Stoneridge Shopping Center and downtown streets are jammed with shoppers and sight-seers. Major hotels serving the Tri-Valley are already booked, which means many move to "second brand" locations both here and in outlying locations. Those hotels often find guests come back the next time to facilities they otherwise might have overlooked.

Of course, there's a downside to all these crowds: traffic. Plan on taking a little longer to drive across town this weekend and make reservations now if you want a table tonight, tomorrow or Sunday at one of your favorite Pleasanton restaurants. There's a reason to smile, too. All these millions of dollars that are being spent by visitors in Pleasanton include substantial sums in sales tax and hotel occupancy taxes that go straight to the city's General Fund. That helps pay the municipal bills for parks, police, street repairs and much more. These folks also go home after their events without any strain on local services or schools. Be kind to those you meet and invite them back. With the 16th annual Fall RV Show coming to the Fairgrounds on Sept. 24 and Fremont's popular Pirates of Emerson show moving here in October, Pleasanton has lots to offer in the weeks ahead.

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