When Harley Sheffield heard King County was setting up a free wireless Internet service at Marymoor Park, he toted his laptop to the park's...
When Harley Sheffield heard King County was setting up a free wireless Internet service at Marymoor Park, he toted his laptop to the park’s velodrome to see if he could log on.
Sheffield reports that the service, called Wi-Fi, works great, and he expects to use it often as part of his job as executive director for the Marymoor Velodrome Association.
“We’re trying to figure out how … we can have live feeds from races and weather updates,” Sheffield said. “If we’re able to stay connected [at Marymoor Park], then we don’t have to have someone manning an office.”
Yesterday, County Executive Ron Sims announced a 170-acre area of the park has been named the “MSN Wi-Fi Hotspot.” It’s the largest free Wi-Fi hot spot at a public park in the nation, according to county officials.
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People can log onto the Internet while having a picnic or watching their children play — all users need is an 802.11 ethernet card, which comes standard in most laptop computers.
The Wi-Fi hot spot is the latest in a string of commercial sponsorships and partnerships launched at the 640-acre park near Redmond.
The county now receives $7 million of its $21 million overall parks budget from enterprises, partnerships and user fees, said Kevin Brown, director for the county’s Parks and Recreation Division.
Marymoor, the most used of the county’s parks, has been out front with a wide range of revenue-generating endeavors. The county’s “entrepreneurial approach for generating revenue to keep parks open is to make them even more appealing,” Sims said.
• The county sold naming rights of the velodrome to Group Health a little more than a year ago. The deal is for $340,000 over three years — of which the Velodrome Association receives $15,000 a year for its Friday-night races.
• A Subway franchise opened in late April, under an agreement to share a percentage of its gross returns. During its first month of operation, the county received $4,000 from the sandwich shop, which goes into parks maintenance, said Tom Teigen, the county’s parks and recreation program manager for partnerships and enterprise initiatives.
• The US Bank Concerts at Marymoor, in their third summer of artist lineups, has made about $403,000 for the county in its first two years.
Under the Wi-Fi agreement with MSN, the county is responsible for maintaining the five antennas around the park that provide the wireless Internet access. MSN, Microsoft’s Internet portal, will pay King County $100,000 for the first year of naming rights. MSN is also sponsoring Wi-Fi access at the King County Aquatic Center.
“It’s been delightful to see what’s happening at the park,” said Redmond Mayor Rosemarie Ives. “Part of the park’s mission has been to do things in a responsible way.”
Rachel Tuinstra: 206-515-5637 or firstname.lastname@example.org