Time running out to fund ball drop

Varney’s manager: New Year’s event may move downtown

By Bryan Richardson

The traditional Little Apple New Year’s Eve celebration might have a new look starting this year.

This is because of a potential move from Aggieville to downtown.

Varney’s has been the main sponsor since the event started New Year’s Eve 2003. The front of the store served as the gathering ground each time the apple-shaped ball dropped on the Varney’s roof to ring in a new year.

General manager Steve Levin said the company can’t afford to contribute the $20,000 to $25,000 needed to fund the event anymore.

“That doesn’t count the hours we spend as personnel finding sponsors and organizing and running the event,” he said.

Levin said the company lost revenue when Kansas State University stopped using Varney’s as its campus bookstore.

He said the revenue loss continued when the K-State athletic department started using the campus bookstore rather than Varney’s.

“As the university declined our revenue stream, the extracurricular activities we do have to slow down,” he said.

Levin said he’s talking with downtown business owners after they expressed an interest in bringing the event to the district, possibly to Blue Earth Plaza.

“Moving it downtown would be a way to grow the event unless we can find a way to keep it here (in Aggieville) with the lasers, fireworks and entertainment,” he said.

Levin said he spoke with Aggieville merchants in January to gauge their interest in sponsoring the event.

“I’ve gone to the Aggieville merchants many times,” he said. “They just don’t have the money to sponsor it.”

The event’s website, which still references Aggieville as this year’s site, said the celebration has grown from 4,500 spectators in the first year to more than 10,000 people annually.

Levin said a final decision is likely this month.

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