Demand for Ogden Temple open house tickets boosts LDS spirits, local businesses
Cody M. Bell, Mormon Newsroom
OGDEN, Utah — The impact of hundreds of thousands of visitors streaming into downtown during the six-week Ogden Temple open house just won't wait for the event to begin on Friday.
Last week, the public reserved 350,000 free tickets to the open house in the first 30 hours they were available, a sign of building excitement to finally see whether the changes inside match those on the outside of an edifice renovated so completely and uniquely that a news release said Tuesday that "the new design is not remotely similar to the original."
Meanwhile, 25,000 LDS Church members have volunteered to serve as ushers, and nearby businesses began to see a boost Monday, when tours of the Mormon temple began for special groups.
For Ogden, the temple tops a downtown rejuvenation that began half a decade ago. For Ogden's members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the open house from Friday through Sept. 6 and subsequent dedication on Sept. 21 cap a nearly three-and-a-half-year wait to return to worship in their downtown temple.
"There's a significant buzz," former Mayor Matt Godfrey said. "It's usually the first topic people bring up with me. This is the hottest topic in town."
Because of high demand for tickets, the LDS Church announced Tuesday that it has made more available at templeopenhouse.lds.org.
The church can't add any new dates to the open house, but it had held some times in reserve, said Elder Kent F. Richards, assistant executive director of the LDS Church's temple department and a member of the faith's Second Quorum of the Seventy.
"We expected there would be high demand," Elder Richards said. "I was surprised at how quickly people responded, but everyone will have the opportunity to come that wants to."
By Tuesday morning, before release of the added times, a request for a single ticket to an English-language open house tour showed all tickets gone for 23 of the 32 open-house dates.
By Tuesday afternoon, the same request showed tickets available for all 32 dates.
The more people who attend, the better for local businesses.
Mary Riter is hiring temporary workers at the Farr's ice cream shop across the street northwest of the temple. The assistant store manager will need all the help she can get during the six-week open house.
Farr's has major plans to sell more ice cream and other merchandise, including opening space adjacent to the regular shop, open since the 1920s, and use the entire parking lot for sales.
"The closure of the temple made winters slower," Riter said. "The people used to come to get ice cream after going to the temple. That was business we lost. The reopening of the temple will bring that all back."
That's already happening.
"Even the last two days, as they've started tours for dignitaries, we've seen increased traffic," Riter said.
The returning and additional business will supplement what already has happened downtown.
Ogden replaced its underperforming shopping mall next to the temple site with a walkable outdoor shopping area called the Junction, with 61 independent businesses.
As the mall "degraded over time," Brad and Cathie Layton of Huntsville stopped coming into downtown Ogden and began shopping on the outskirts.
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