Despite criticism, RedBall proves to be economic driver in other cities

Despite criticism, RedBall proves to be economic driver in other cities (Photo Credit: Brit Worgan)

Rochester, N.Y. – The debate is growing over a $32,600 ball that could be apart of the Key Bank Rochester Fringe Festival next summer.

More than 100 organizations and groups in the Finger Lakes region were awarded grants at the annual Regional Economic Councils Awards on Wednesday. One of the grants awarded is for a red ball, and some taxpayers are asking why.

The RedBall Project bills itself as the longest-running public street artwork project. The KeyBank Rochester Fringe Festival is the organization awarded the $32,600 grant to help bring in the project to Rochester for the 2018 festival.

"A small investment like this can create large revenue for all of downtown, and it can actually add to the tax base," said Key Bank Rochester Fringe Festival Producer Erica Fee.

Back in 2015, the RedBall was reported to have attracted thousands of people to the downtown region of Toledo, Ohio.

"The news organizations all covered it, the local newspaper covered it," said Cindy Kerr, Executive Director of the Downtown Toledo Improvement District. "We trended globally on Twitter because of the RedBall."

But, for lawmakers like Assemblyman Peter Lawrence, it draws questions.

"My biggest concern is how are these decisions made, and do we follow up and see if the money is spent in the ways it's supposed to be spent with results," Assemblyman Lawrence said.

Whether or not the RedBall will serve as an economic driver will be determined by the festival-goers. Lt. Governor Kathy Hocul says deciding who receives tax dollars through the Regional Economic Council is a thoughtful process.

In the case of the RedBall, there was input from local arts groups and community leaders.

"It's playing to the strengths of the individual communities," Hocul said. "It's based on the recommendations of the people who know them best."

For more information about the RedBall Project, CLICK HERE.

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