The Downtown Bryan Association went before City Council yesterday to tell it that if all goes according to plan the city will need to cover between $50,000 and $125,000 in expenses for this year's Texas Reds Festival.
Figures presented to the council Tuesday showed that, over a six-year period, Texas Reds cost nearly twice as much as it brought in. The festival generated an average of $200,000 and cost $391,000.
The Downtown Bryan Association took on an increased role in 2013's festival and is taking over the reins from the city starting this year. Ben Hardeman, chairman of the Downtown Bryan Association, said the nonprofit group is planning to lower expenses and keep revenues steady in 2014, but told the council that it is going to need help.
Hardeman said the DBA is conservatively anticipating its expenses will be $375,000, or about $16,000 less than the average of the past six years. They are anticipating it will generate $200,000, which is the six-year average but significantly higher than 2013 total. Plagued by rain, the festival brought in only $112,000 last year.
The city gave the Downtown Bryan Association an extra $110,000 to help run the festival this year. Hardeman said about $50,000 of that is dedicated to paying DBA staff who are working on the festival part- and full-time, and it is using the remaining funding to offset the anticipated $175,000 shortfall between expenses and revenue.
That would bring the shortfall to $125,000 for Texas Reds. Hardeman said the association would be "satisfied" if that number was $100,000, since it would've cut the festival's previous average losses in half.
"What I want to do today is not ask for any money, but I want to let the council know that this is how our revenues and expenses are going to be breaking out," Hardeman told council members Tuesday. "There will be some time later in the year that we will be back and showing city staff what our expenses [are] and at that time, we will ask to be reimbursed on our expenses."
City Manager Kean Register said the funds from the city will come from unallocated hotel-motel taxes, or funds paid by visitors to the community.
Hardeman and Sandy Farris, executive director of the Downtown Bryan Association, said they are currently identifying money-saving options. Though it's still early in the planning stage, Hardeman said one of the ways they are planning on saving money is by selling beer on tap instead of in bottles and cans. He said the city spent between about $30,000 on the headliner entertainment in 2013, and the Downtown Bryan Association is going to do away with that and replace it with six stages throughout the festival, with each offering a different variety of music.
Texas Reds is scheduled to be Sept. 27 and 28, running on Saturday and Sunday instead of Friday and Saturday.
Hardeman said the DBA will pay for hiring security for the festival, cleaning the streets before and after and paying for the tents, tables and entertainment, which Farris said will feature regional talent.
Hardman asked that the city close the streets, allow the DBA to use its ticket booths, waive the special event application fees and continue to host the Texas Reds website. He said the association will pay its electric bill for the festival, but asked that the city provide electrical services support for Texas Reds.