The success of Graceland, home of Elvis Presley, offers an insight into the future of both Paisley Park and the city that calls itself Prince’s home — Chanhassen.
Comparisons between the two landmarks arose following Prince’s death when the fate of Paisley Park came into question. Its fate was decided last week, when the city of Chanhassen announced that Bremer Trust, the administrator overseeing Prince’s estate, had applied to rezone Paisley Park as a museum.
Graceland Holdings, which runs Graceland in Memphis, is collaborating with Prince’s estate to turn Paisley Park into a tourist attraction. With tours opening in October, the home of the king has some words of wisdom for the home of the prince.
Chanhassen will have to keep an open line of communication with Paisley Park officials, said Steve Shular, public affairs officer of Shelby County, which includes Memphis.
“It does create some unique issues with traffic, security, infrastructure and even development in areas where there might not be any development there now,” Shular said.
More than 600,000 visitors tour Graceland each year. In 2016, the park counted its 20 millionth visitor.
Chanhassen’s population is about 24,000 people. But the hordes that arrived to pay homage to the Purple One could be an early indication of what’s in store.
Graceland has helped generate $3.2 billion in tourism and create 35,000 jobs in the city, said Jeff Hulett, director of public relations for the Memphis Convention and Visitors Bureau, in an e-mail.
“Elvis and the opening of Graceland was the beginning of tourism as we know it today in Memphis,” Hulett said.
Once tour tickets became available online, at officialpaisleypark.com, Prince fans from around the nation from Hawaii to Fargo jumped at their chance to see Paisley Park from the inside. The tours will give visitors access to Prince’s personal archives and recording studios.
The opening of the park could reshape Chanhassen into a music destination and forever change the community known for its dinner theater.
“We have always highlighted the arboretum, the curling center and wineries,” Jeff Filipek, president of the Southwest Metro Chamber of Commerce, said. “And now we have Paisley Park to add to that mix for people to come and see the southwest metro.”
April through August is peak visiting time for Graceland. August is especially busy with events dedicated to celebrating Elvis’ life near the date of his death. April, the month Prince died, could be peak time for Paisley Park.
Chanhassen Mayor Denny Laufenburger recently visited Graceland to get a sense of what Paisley Park could become. Laufenburger said he expects to see Prince-themed businesses pop up in the city with the opening of the park.
“Long term, we are not looking for the entire community to become purple,” he said. “ I think slowly we will see an emergence of more things being around Prince and Paisley Park.”