You remember NewBo Evolve, don't you? The pandemic and derecho have hit the tourism and entertainment business hard in the past year, but it could have been much worse, according to Cedar Rapids City councilmember Scott Olson, if they hadn't found a savior from the debacle created in 2018 by Go Cedar Rapids.

Maroon 5 and Kelly Clarkson headlined the event, but it came at a huge price, leaving what became the Cedar Rapids Tourism office with more than $2 million in debt.

Enter VenuWorks, the event management firm responsible for booking and promoting many of Cedar Rapids' entertainment options at the McGrath Amphitheatre, Paramount Theatre, and Alliant Energy PowerHouse arena in downtown Cedar Rapids and the Cedar Rapids Ice Arena.

Go Cedar Rapids folded after that $2.3 million failure and the Cedar Rapids City Council enlisted VenuWorks to handle the additional business of marketing Cedar Rapids itself to visitors with a huge component of it being attractions, conventions, concerts, and sports events.

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The council is clearly pleased with the results as according to the Gazette, it was just announced that the city has re-upped the contract with VenuWorks to manage these operations through October 14, 2025.

VenuWorks Cedar Rapids' executive director said despite the tourism business as a whole taking a hit because of the pandemic, here in Cedar Rapids they have 72 confirmed events already booked through 2026, including the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) Cross Country National Championships, USA Roller Sports 2021 National Championships, Sweet Adelines Regional Contest and Association of Nature Center Administrators Annual Summit with requests and proposals coming in rapidly.

The pandemic will wind down and when it does, these groups are counting on our appetite for live entertainment to be as ravenous as ever. I'm pretty sure we'll be able to appease them!

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