FARMINGTON -- With Davis County home construction putting the squeeze on open pasture lands where horses once grazed -- forcing some horse owners to relocate -- Davis County Legacy Events Center is diversifying the groups it attracts.
Being able to rely on renting out Legacy Events Center's indoor and outdoor arenas to horse riders to supplement the operating cost of the buildings is no longer feasible, officials say.
Center staff now look to book more dog shows, youth sports, BMX events and, four times a year, motocross racing competitions to fill their calendars and build revenue.
For years, the events center was considered an equestrian center, said center Director Dave Hansen, but now it's an events center that hosts equestrian events.
That change in strategy -- based on the increase of center revenues and bookings -- appears to be paying dividends.
Legacy Events Center, which consists of the two arenas and three "outer" metal buildings, had 607 bookings in 2010.
But the center will have booked 858 events by the close of 2011.
And contract revenues also are climbing.
From 2009 to 2010, said Davis County Clerk/Auditor Steve Rawlings, income jumped from $333,000 to $449,000.
Despite this year's sluggish economy, he said, revenue is projected to reach $500,000.
Even more encouraging is that, as center revenues rise, the amount of tourism tax money needed to operate the center declines, with $789,000 in tourism taxes to be used in 2011, down from the $869,000 the center received in 2010, Rawlings said.
The county's goal is to bring the amount of tourism tax dollars used to offset operation and maintenance costs of the center facilities in line with revenue generated from building rentals, he said.
That funding gap continues to narrow, Rawlings said.
The events center receives no funding from county property tax, but is funded through the county's annual tourism tax revenue, which consists of the 1 percent restaurant tax, a vehicle rental and lease tax and a hotel room tax.
"We're diversifying to serve more," Hansen said.
The concern was that fewer horse riders -- for whatever reason -- were renting the arenas for open riding, said Mike Moake, the center's marketing and event coordinator.
Legacy officials speculate the continued urbanization of once-rural Davis County has forced some horse owners to move too far from the center to use it on a regular basis.
Although center staff is quick to point out they still have a loyal horse-rider following, changes in philosophy were needed if the events center revenue was to grow.
"If we hadn't diversified, we probably would have been in trouble," Moake said.
By approaching a variety of groups, the county has been able to land a litter of dog shows, as well as highly competitive soccer teams that use the indoor facilities in the winter to practice out of the cold.
To improve its play for area soccer teams, the county has in its short-term plans a proposal to develop a multifield soccer complex on the center grounds, Moake said.
"Almost anything that will drive economic impact for the county, that we can handle, we'll bring in," Moake said, referring to center staff, which consists of six full-time and three part-time employees.
"I think our limits are what we can do as a staff," Moake said, adding that as many as six events have been booked on a single day.
Hansen said the bonus to attracting big groups is that, while the center gets revenue credit for the dollars that pass through its cash register, area hotels, restaurants and other businesses enjoy the full economic benefit of such well-attended events as well.
For example, Hansen said, the German Shepherd Dog Club Show resulted in a $482,000 economic impact for Davis County, with only about $12,000 of that amount being counted as center revenue.