After a clean sweep of the marketing department this month, Cripple Creek city officials agreed to hire a temporary director to lead the department.
Speaking at a workshop July 24, city administrator Mark Campbell declined to reveal the name of the candidate but is expected to make the announcement this week. Officials have given no public statements about why they shut down the marketing department.
However, as a result of the recent ousting of the city’s marketing director and coordinator, Steve Kitzman and Kelly Branyik, respectively, the vacancies led to a philosophical discussion about marketing: Is it effective and does the city have the funds to even have a marketing department?
Mayor Bruce Brown offered a clue. “Mark (Campbell) has started the budget process — and we have a lot of questions we need answered regarding the marketing department and what we’re going to do — a lot of that is going to drive the future of the department,” Brown said
For this year, however, there is no change to the budget, Campbell said. “I think we need to get somebody in there (marketing) for the remainder of the year. That’s my recommendation,” he said.
Revenues are down this year, due to the lackluster performance of the gaming industry in Cripple Creek.
According to Paul Harris, the city’s finance director, there was a 30% drop in revenue from gaming devices in the third quarter of 2018, compared with the same period this year. The casinos now have 3,616 machines, down from 5,170. Last year, device fees totaled $4,030,650, Harris said. “The fees are the largest portions of the city’s revenue,” he said.
“You have all noticed that we have a decline in (gaming) devices, which continues to eat into our income,” said Tom Litherland, city councilman, adding that the city’s lodging tax does not make up the shortfall in device fees. “Our income is not going in the right direction.”
Revenue gained from the 6% lodging tax last year was $240,000, Harris added.
Last year, the city spent around $800,000 for marketing, including Kitzman’s and Branyik’s salaries and promotions of special events via television, radio and print ads.
Of the three gaming towns in Colorado, Black Hawk captures 73.77% of the market, reflected in Adjusted Gross Proceeds, while Cripple Creek has 17% and Central City has a 9.3%% of market share, said Harris, the finance director. The next big event for the city is the Salute to American Veterans’ Biker Rally the weekend of Aug. 17-18.
Bill Burcaw, director of the district museum, pointed to what he viewed as a gap in marketing. “I don’t think we’re maximizing our summer,” he said adding that people come into the museum store and ask what there is to do in Cripple Creek. “I hear that constantly.”
Michael Lindsey, a resident and member of the American Legion, offered a suggestion. “You need to step out of the box and form a steering committee comprised of the major stakeholders — the problem is that there is no vision,” he said. “I’m going to plead with you to quit talking about a marketing director as a singular process but as a community process.” Officials agreed to set up a steering committee to represent businesses, casinos, the clubs, veterans’ organizations, the city, nonprofits and individuals in the search for a new marketing strategy. The mayor suggested October as a deadline. The board agreed that any marketing director hired would be receptive to ideas presented by a steering committee.