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City knew Summer in the Park figures Monday of the event. Big loss coming

Almost three months later, nothing has been released despite repeated calls from some city councillors and council candidates to release the figures before the election so the future of the event could be debated.
20180804 summer in the park cd
Summer in the Park 2018. Chris Dawson/BayToday

City Hall staff and committee members knew almost immediately the Summer in the Park attendance figures and how bad they looked.

Yet almost three months later, they remain hidden despite repeated calls from some city councillors and council candidates to release the figures before the election so the future of the event can be debated.

BayToday has confirmed with Battalion President Mike Griffin that the attendance numbers were emailed to the City on the Monday of the event, then city staff made minor adjustments to the number a couple of times to account for things like comp tickets. The final numbers were known on August 25.

The city used the Battalion ticketing software so everything was computerized.

While Griffin won't disclose those numbers, a source in City Hall says they are "around 1,200" combined for both nights.

See: SITP loss expected to be six figures debate crowd hears

So let's do some math.

Lowest priced tickets were $40, so let's be generous and use an average ticket price of $60.

1,200 tickets X $60 = $72,000 in ticket sales.

$326,033 budget - $72,000 ticket revenue = $254,033 deficit. 

Add in the $80,000 council promised to fund the event and North Bay taxpayers are on the hook for $334,033.

That assumes all the other revenue projections like vendors ($14,300) and midway ($50,000) come in on target.

A quarter million dollar loss is a big number, and far from the predicted $11,000 surplus.

See: City predicting almost $11,000 surplus for this year's Summer in the Park

Councillor Mike Anthony, who was the first to request that the numbers be released before the election, is frustrated by the inaction.

While praising the volunteer efforts, he told BayToday that not releasing the attendance numbers makes the city look foolish in the eyes of taxpayers.

"I am terribly disappointed that the numbers of tickets and revenue and losses were not released back when I was first to ask for them many weeks ago in August. If these numbers were available the Monday after the festival, we should have had them made public. Staff said the festival committee could release them, and the committee said staff had the numbers and could release them anytime they wanted.  It looks foolish to citizens and rightly so."

Anthony says he told key city staff weeks ago that the idea of waiting to see how many people spent money in hotels or restaurants made no sense.

"There was no sugar coating this. It just looked like a stall tactic to many people, and I think it put the volunteer committee in an uncomfortable place.

"Moving forward we have to be more open more quickly on releasing festival numbers - this waiting three, four or five months doesn't make sense. We should have numbers within a couple of weeks, whether it's a refreshed and revived Summer In The Park or some new festival."

He plans, if re-elected, to move a motion to get results no more than four weeks after future festivals end. That won't apply to Summer in the Park as even Mayor Al McDonald has written the event's obituary.

See: Summer in the Park is dead: McDonald

Anthony believes the festival can succeed, but only if it returns to "the lean, tight, fun event" that actually made a profit for five years running from around 2008 to 2012.

"And remember we still had bands like Joan Jett, because the festival remained realistic. It's when the festival takes too many costly risks and gets too big with large expensive acts that we lose money."

Jeff Turl

About the Author: Jeff Turl

Jeff is a veteran of the news biz. He's spent a lengthy career in TV, radio, print and online, covering both news and sports. He enjoys free time riding motorcycles and spoiling grandchildren.
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