Guest View: Bar owner incensed over biker rally talks

Riders go along San Benito Street at the 2016 Hollister Independence Rally.

Until I received a call from the lovely reporter from KION yesterday I had no idea that the city had lost its mind again.

I had hoped that with the addition of Roy Sims, who said that he saw the value of the rally to Hollister before the election, getting the green light for the 2017 motorcycle rally would be a walk in the park. It is, by the way, the 70th anniversary. Once again the city is trying to make money from the rally while the promoter loses money. The city has never managed to come up with concrete figures about how much sales tax revenue is generated by our rally. And simply put, they never will. People make treks across the country, and indeed the world, to come to Hollister because of our notoriety as the birthplace of the American biker. They don’t just show up on Fourth of July weekend either.

Since the Hollister Independence Rally Committee stepped aside in 2005 because of skyrocketing public service fees, it’s been nothing but a battle to keep our rally going. We lost it in 2006. I was chairperson on the Hollister Motorcycle Rally Committee in 2007 when, with the help of Seth Daulton as promoter, we brought it back. The committee stepped aside in 2008 and handed the reins over to the Chamber of Commerce. Seth lost copious amounts of money over those two years because of the outrageous law enforcement fees implemented. Seth eventually lost his business and his home due to his losses.

Here we are three promoters later, with a couple of pretty decent rallies under our belts and promoters who, while they put on a good show, lose money. They all understand the potential our rally has because there is no other city in the world with our history. They all assume they will lose money in the beginning but figure that over time as the rally grows they can recoup their losses. But the city keeps upping the anti for the promoter stating costs but never including tax revenue in the equation.

It was reported that even when Convexx walked away owing the city $90,000 in 2015, after sales tax revenue the city was in the black for the rally. This year Roadshows Inc. paid the city $146,589.87. If as reported by the Free Lance on November 30, the city spent $163,969 (which includes $20,000 in overtime to the fire department, which has yet to be explained), it leaves a shortfall of $17,379. Anyone who believes that the city did not receive $17,379.00 in sales tax revenue because of our motorcycle rally is delusional.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the only common denominator here is the city and its desire to make money on the rally while its promoters lose money. I know first hand the costs involved in putting on a rally from my involvement in 2007. Without a gate fee our rally isn’t the moneymaker people would like to believe that it is. And by the way, a gate fee is logistically impossible.

Roadshows proposed a four-day rally in 2017 for the 70th anniversary because the fourth falls on a Tuesday. It was a proposal, not a deal breaker. Excuse Randy for wanting to recoup some losses while keeping people in our town to spend their money for an extra day. He thought it would be a win-win. Certain people are painting Roadshows as money hungry and disagreeable but it’s simply not true. Roadshows made the proposal in hopes of actually making money next year. If the city insists on making money while the promoter does all the work and loses money our rally will be dead again. Hollister never offers numbers as to the tax revenue the event brings to our community. Still it wants to charge $180,000 up front to a promoter that lost money when he paid almost $147,000 this year. How is that fair?
So I spoke my peace once again. I’ve beseeched the council to be realistic since 2005. Is there any hope of having a successful 70th anniversary rally in 2017? I can’t say but I’m not exactly hopeful. I just thought the community should know the facts. If you care about our place in history and our motorcycle rally PLEASE email, call or write your city council representative. Let your voice be heard!