Driving Business Downtown with Roller Disco | Sports Destination Management

Driving Business Downtown with Roller Disco

Sep 22, 2022 | By: Mary Helen Sprecher

When, in 2021, the Rochester Downtown Alliance (RDA) in Minnesota wanted to drive business into the area after far too much pandemic quarantining, it chose a quirky hybrid sport as a vehicle: Roller Disco. The RDA closed off streets, offered free skate rentals and put out the invitation.


And it worked, bringing more than 11,000 people into the business district, with music, party lights, a vendor area – even the requisite mirrored disco ball. The event returns this October (you could say it was – ahem – Stayin’ Alive) and is expected to be a bigger draw than ever.


Roller Disco
All images: Kate Klaus Photography

Sports Destination Management interviewed Katie Adelman, Director of Content and Communications for the Rochester Downtown Alliance, and learned all about the event, its goals and its plans for the next installment. 


Sports Destination Management: 2021 was your inaugural year for Rochester’s Roller Disco.


Katie Adelman: Yes, and it was so well received by all ages and demographics that we decided to bring it back as a core event!


SDM: How did you get the idea for it?


Adelman: Holly Masek, RDA executive director, had seen similar events in other cities and thought it could be a great fit in Rochester. The RDA watched skating become increasingly popular during the pandemic and felt the community really needed an outdoor, joyful, unexpected event to bring the community together after COVID-19. Last fall seemed like the perfect time to try it.


SDM: What is the goal for the event?


Adelman: The goal of RDA events is always to bring people downtown and get them to experience everything our neighborhood has to offer. In addition, we wanted to give the community a free event where all ages could come and try something fun together.


SDM: How many people have been participating in the event?


Adelman: Approximately 11,165 people of all ages attended the three-day event in 2021! We’re hoping to keep the momentum going and see that size crowd, if not larger, this year.


SDM: When is it?


Adelman: This year, it runs on October 7 from 4 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. and October 8 from 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. If people want to learn more, they can go to this page.


SDM: Is it for all ages?


Adelman: Yes! Last year, we saw everyone from the littlest of skaters all the way up to grandparents. And even if someone doesn’t skate, simply watching the event is a joyful experience.


SDM: Is it just skating or are there side activities, such as costume contests, dance contests, etc.?


Adelman: At Roller Disco 2021, we had high-energy music from DJs, free skate rentals, party lighting, a vendor market, and a disco ball. There were definitely people who showed up in 70s costumes! We also had a 3-D photo booth for people that added to the nostalgic experience and for them to remember their time at Roller Disco. We hope to bring all this back for 2022 (and perhaps some new surprises along with them)!


SDM: What is the mission of Downtown Rochester, and how did roller disco fold into that?


Adelman: The mission of the Rochester Downtown Alliance is: “To create, enhance, and promote a downtown experience that is welcoming, fun, and livable.”

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