Tapping Into Innovative Revenue Streams – Colorado Springs Airport KCOS, cont’d

cos_2012_aerial_map

Colorado Springs Airport, with Peterson Air Force Base on the north end (left side)

Now back to the drag racing.

While at first drag races on a runway at an active airport might seem to defy logic and raise all sorts of safety concerns, Mr. Stover explained that several things came together that helped sell the FAA on the idea.

First, he insisted that the airport would be upfront and comply with all FAA rules regarding security and safety (in contrast to another airport which held drag races on a runway without approval and received a scorching reprimand from the FAA). Second, all stakeholders would be involved in all phases of the decision-making process and if any one entity had irreconcilable issues or concerns, the plan would be scrapped. Stakeholders included City Council, El Paso County Commissioners, the FAA, Peterson Air Force Base, and every business and tenant on the field.

Although there were some obvious concerns, the lynchpin of the event was an extremely detailed and comprehensive safety plan, similar to what would be submitted for an air show. The safety plan addressed every conceivable contingency, thereby meeting with approval by the FAA and all stakeholders.

Adding to everyone’s confidence that the event could be carried out successfully, was that the airport had in fact conducted a trial run with a smaller event of the same type in 2014. The FAA of course was involved as were all the same stakeholders. That went off without a hitch, encouraging Mr. Stover to proceed with planning a larger event.

This year’s drag race program “Pikes Peak Airstrip Attack” was organized by co-promoters Shift-S3ctor of California and Revvolution of Colorado Springs. Known for their production of hi-powered racing events at smaller airfields with fewer flights and safety concerns, this was a first for the promoters at a larger commercial airport.

Colorado Springs Sports Corporation, promoter of the Pikes Peak Hill Climb, was another partner involved with co-marketing the airport event.

The promoters all realized that timing the Airstrip Attack for the same weekend as the Hill Climb would likely create a synergy of fan interest. “Colorado has never seen an event like this,” said Ryan Randels, president of Revvolution. “This style of competition is taking off around the country, but this is an opportunity to bring auto enthusiasts in for the whole week.”

Douglas Martin, COO of Colorado Springs Sports Corp., had this to say about the airport’s involvement: “On behalf of Revvolution, Shift S3ctor, and the Colorado Springs Sports Corporation, thank you for going the extra mile to ensure that the 2015 Pikes Peak Airstrip Attack was a big success!! Attendance was over 5,000 for the two day event (up from 3,500 in 2014) and feedback that we’ve received from the participants, sponsors, spectators and volunteers has all been extremely positive. Thank you for sponsoring this event and for helping us promote it within the community and through your channels at the airport.  Looking forward to year #3 of this event!!”

Ryan Randels of Revvolution was also very happy with the outcome and the airport’s efforts:  “We saw 5,500 people come through the gates, combined for both days. Our organization was extremely excited to see such a positive turnout. Not only did we see a huge increase in attendance, the response was overwhelmingly positive from spectators, participants, staff and the airport. It’s been a blessing working with the Colorado Springs Airport as the staff is more than professional and dedicated to making the event extremely successful. Without their help and guidance, we never would have been able to bring our dream into reality.”

Although the weekend’s activities were marred by a fatal accident at the Hill Climb and ended up being cut short due to weather, the event was still a resounding success. Revenue figures were not yet available, but  “The events generated a lot of energy and excitement, and people had fun talking with the drivers and checking out the hot cars and races at both venues,” said Ms. Lenard, who added, “The key thing for us from a marketing perspective was that the events brought the public out to the airport in large numbers, where they got to see not only cars and racing, but they also saw the airplanes arriving and departing, from close-up, out on the field, just as they would at an air show. They were reminded that yes – this is an airport and we can actually travel from here. The weekend’s events brought that home in a very real way.”

The success of the events, both the Hill Climb and the Airstrip Attack, serves as an exciting example of how entrepreneurial-style innovation in airport management can bring enthusiasm – and revenue – to the airport. The combination of the business incentive package, the marketing efforts to bring in more passengers and flights, and publicizing the airport to the surrounding community through new and exciting events, are raising the airport to greater prominence as a major player in the Colorado Springs business community.

Colorado Springs Airport is open for business, and we’ll keep you informed about how they fare moving forward. We’ll also continue to discover and report on similar developments at other airports around the US.

In addition to providing a premier listing and search service for aviation spaces, an equally important facet of our job at Hangar Network is to report to you, our readers, on situations or events that may impact the general state of the industry. And certainly some of those situations and events will be unpleasant, but our overwhelming desire is to showcase those airports,  airport authorities, and airport managers who are doing the things that need to be done to keep our industry strong, vibrant, and growing.

Maybe, just maybe, one of our stories might inspire another airport authority or manager to consider looking at things a bit differently, especially at times when an airport’s survival hangs in the balance.

-Mike Straka, PhD
HN Staff Writer & Technical Support
Chairman, Colorado Aviation Business Association

Sources:
1.  Conversation with KCOS staff members Troy Stover, Aviation Assistant Director, and Heather Lenard, Marketing and Communications Manager. 19 June 2015 and 01 -02 July 2015.
2.  “Economic Incentives” by the Colorado Office of Economic Development & International Trade and the Colorado Springs Airport.
3.  Colorado Springs Airport website: https://flycos.coloradosprings.gov
4.  CDOT Aeronautics Division, 2013 Economic Impact Study for Colorado Springs Municipal Airport: https://www.codot.gov/programs/aeronautics/PDF_Files/2013_EconImpact/2013-cdot-eis-colorado-springs-municipal-airport.pdf/view
5.  “New event will bring auto racing to Colorado Springs Airport” by Joe Paisley. Colorado Springs Gazette. March 31, 2015. http://gazette.com/new-event-will-bring-auto-racing-to-colorado-springs-airport/article/1517359