Kent’s ShoWare Center to offer free tickets for best marquee photo

Find a friend to take your photo in front of the ShoWare Center marquee in Kent if you would like to win a pair of tickets to one event each month for a year at the arena.

Kent City Councilman Dennis Higgins stands on his head to help promote the ShoWare Center's Marquee Tickets Contest.

Kent City Councilman Dennis Higgins stands on his head to help promote the ShoWare Center's Marquee Tickets Contest.

Find a friend to take your photo in front of the ShoWare Center marquee in Kent if you would like to win a pair of tickets to one event each month for a year at the arena.

ShoWare Center officials are running an online photo contest in an effort to promote the new marquee as well as the arena’s Facebook page and other social media accounts.

“We wanted a fun way to engage everyone in recognizing the new marquee,” said Beth Sylves, marketing director for SMG, the operator of the center. “And we are giving away a fun prize. It’s a prize that keeps on giving for 12 months.”

The ShoWare Center’s Marquee Tickets Contest started in January. Contestants must post their photo by March 7. The person with the photo with the most online votes wins the tickets. Voting concludes March 14. The winner will be notified March 17.

Kent City Council members recently posed individually in front of the sign to help promote the contest. Councilman Dennis Higgins even stood on his head for his photo. Council members are ineligible for the contest at the city-owned arena.

“He wanted to show he was head over heels for the marquee,” Sylves said of Higgins.

ShoWare Center officials fired up the marquee in January. The full-color display is 9 feet high by 17 feet wide. The display sits on a 20-foot high base.

“Anybody can come to the plaza and take a picture with the marquee,” Sylves said. “We’ve had folks pose with kids and use creative poses. You have to do something with the marquee featured in the image.”

Contestants can upload the picture on the ShoWare Center’s Facebook page where people can vote for their favorite image once per day.

“We’ve had some creative submissions so far,” Sylves said. “But it’s wide open. There’s lots of opportunity for more creativity.”

One man posed by the marquee when it showed R&B singer Jon B to promote a Feb. 10 concert. The man wore sunglasses and tilted his head just like the photo of Jon B on the sign.

Another woman used Photoshop to put her name up on the marquee.

“It’s OK to use Photoshop,” Sylves said.

The winner gets free tickets to one event per month from April through March 2012. Contestants must be at least 18 years old. The tickets have a maximum value of $1,200 or about $100 per month.

The $190,000 marquee runs messages 24 hours a day to promote the 2-year-old arena. The City Council voted 6-0 in August to spend up to $225,000 from the city’s lodging tax reserve fund to pay for the sign.

Kent receives about $150,000 per year from the lodging tax. The Legislature approved in 1997 a lodging tax that directs 1 percent of city taxes collected on hotel room sales to be used to promote tourism.

To participate in the marquee contest or to vote, go to www.showarecenter.com and click Enter Contest at the upper right corner of the screen.


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