By KayLynn Roberts-McMurray
The air races will return once again next year to the Yelland Field airport. The commission approved the agenda item regarding the event budget for the air races slated for June 13-15.
Lance Gale, airport manager, stood before the council and noted to the commission about the supporting documentation that detailed the budget, expenses and donations. The budget for the 2018 event was $157,500 and $154,000 of that was spent. Ticket sales amounted to $40,265 according to Gale’s report. Donations were recorded in the amount of $26,500.
Chairman of the Commission Richard Howe, began to speak, “your budget for 2019”, but Gale interrupted, asking, “Do you have any questions about last years budget first off?”
Howe replied, “No I think we all know what happened last year”.
Gale went on to explain to the commission that he asked Kyle Horvath, director for the Tourism and Recreation Board, to accompany him to the meeting so he could give a presentation on the economic impact the races would have in White Pine.
Horvath spoke about the marketing that they took on with a short amount before the races. Social media, was targeted
“We did a targeted digital campaign. we targeted locations, keyword searches as well as websites,” he said. “Got over 213,000 impressions. Hired professional photographers who took over 250 photos that are usable marketing photos for future advertising.”
Ticket sales were explained by Horvath, “Looking at ticket sales there was $18,785 total ticket sales between online sales, and cash sales. There was no data collected on the cash sales at the door, so the demographics that I’m about to give is strictly only for the online sales.”
There were 337 tickets sold online, 366 transactions at the door, totaling 703 tickets being sold. Horvath said, “Out of those ticket sales, 197 online tickets were from non local attendees.”
Horvath’s detailed presentation explained that for every out of town visitor about $113 per person is the economic impact for White Pine, which amounts to $22,261.
“That looks pretty dismal to the initial investment put in, but it is the first year of this event,” Horvath said.
This amount did not reflect the amount for locals or the pilots, which was approximately 44 rooms per night per day in addition to the pilots crew.
It was reported that next years’ event, not including sponsorship, would need 1,300 overnight visitors with $145,000 investment.
“Does this investment have the potential to bring in that many people? With proper marketing there’s potential, but it’s going to take time.” Horvath said.
There was much discussion about the event.
Commissioner Steve Stork mentioned to the rest of the board that he was informed that there would not be horse races held next year in Ely due to the scheduling conflict of another horse race event in Evanston, Wyoming.
An event that began in the 1920’s and reportedly bring’s in 150 thoroughbred and quarter horses for the three day event and draws thousands of people from all over the country.
The horse races is reportedly one of the largest events for White Pine. The AG13 Board has a meeting this week and the horse races is one of the agenda items listed. The loss of the horse race event could greatly impact revenue for several businesses during the summer of 2019.
The budget for 2019 was determined to cost $156,150 for the air races. The commission did vote to approve the cost but also indicated that they have a monthly report on progress and any budgeting changes.