City planning for “entertainment district” in downtown Bowling Green

City Planning For Entertainment District
Published: Nov. 19, 2021 at 6:50 PM CST
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BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (WBKO) - The City of Bowling Green has plans in the works for an “entertainment district” downtown.

“Just a festival type atmosphere downtown to make it fun. It’ll be family-friendly. People, if they chose, they could take an unfinished beverage out of a restaurant or bar, carry it around with them looking at art or listening to music and that sort of thing. That’s how we want it to happen,” said City Manager Jeff Meisel.

These types of entertainment districts were allowed due to a state law enacted in 2016 which allowed municipalities to create Entertainment Destination Centers.

Meisel says other cities, similar in size or even smaller than Bowling Green, have created entertainment districts. Some of those include Owensboro, Newport, Covington and Paducah.

“We don’t want people to think this is going to be like a tailgating event where people are just sitting around and it’s alcohol and out of control,” Meisel said. “This is going to be an arts and entertainment district where you may want to have art shows, art galleries open. Live music playing in the park whether it be a sole guitarist or a band. Just a festival type atmosphere downtown to make it fun and it’ll be family-friendly.”

Bowling Green city commissioners gave the go ahead on the effort to study a local district at their planning retreat in January of this year.

By establishing a downtown “entertainment district,” this would also allow the open carry of alcohol in designated outdoor areas at set times.

City Manager Jeff Meisel said the city is looking at the entertainment district as a catalyst for economic development in the downtown area as more people lured to downtown will lead to a better environment for businesses.

Meisel said establishing something of this caliber takes a lot of planning.

The city still has to determine the entertainment district boundaries would be and whether they would have set, regular hours or be event-based hours.

Most entertainment districts require that alcohol be carried in approved containers, which would be offered at businesses in the district. Meisel said the alcohol would still have to be purchased from a business with a state alcohol sales license. No outside alcohol would be allowed to be brought into the district, Meisel said.

The city is also in the process of interviewing for a new downtown coordinator position, which would be vital in overseeing the entertainment district operations. The position will soon be posted online, Meisel said.

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