(08/16/13) - The new FirstMerit Bank Event Park officially opened on Friday in downtown Saginaw.
The venue is across the street from The Dow Event Center. It's expected to attract thousands of people to the area.
To kick things off, the Rock 'N' Rib Festival is going on this weekend. There was plenty of live entertainment there, and some good barbecue. Even the sheriff of Saginaw and his band are helping to bring life to downtown.
Hundreds of people were there Friday morning for the ribbon cutting.
Those with the Great Lakes Bay Regional Convention and Visitors Bureau says this is another component that will help bring people to the region.
"In addition to the Dow Event Center and the Temple Theater, now we have another venue for outside entertainment and it's going to be fantastic. We try to promote visitation to the region through our hotel stays and this is just another component for us to bring visitors in," said Lori Amo, with the Great Lakes Bay Regional Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Last year, a hotel and the Saginaw Center stood there. Both buildings hadn't been in operation for a while, so community leaders decided it was best to tear them down.
Matt Blasy, of the Dow Event Center, then came up with a plan to create an entertainment venue to keep people coming downtown during the summer months.
"Seeing how much improvement is going on down here, it's something that we think is going to keep the momentum going with all the positives with downtown Saginaw and really take it to another level in a pretty quick manner," Blasy said.
Some believe this venue is going to reduce crime in their city.
"Because Saginaw has a bad reputation of crime and we have a bad stigma and I think this shows other people that we can come together and we can reunite as one, so I think it's a great thing," said Martha Martinez.
"I think it's a good thing for our town. It beautifies the town, some good entertainment for people to come and have a little fun," said Martin Delosantos.
The Rock 'N' Rib Festival runs through Sunday.
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