Thomas Graham, president of Crosswind Events & Experiences, the Austin-based company looking to organize the family-friendly event, presented the concept for the event to City Council on March 2. Graham’s initial ask included a $292,000 loan to help defray the cost of what he estimated would be a $742,000 production.
Up to $192,000 of the city’s loan could be repaid based on the revenue generated by the event. The city could fund its contribution to the event using hotel occupancy tax, which Assistant City Manager Steve Parker said was anticipated to have an excess of about $600,000 by the end of fiscal year 2015-16.
Specific details of the event and the city’s involvement are being negotiated, and a formal proposal will be brought to City Council on March 15.
“We envision this [to occur] between F1 and [Austin City Limits], two very expensive events to attend,” Graham said. “Our event will be priced very competitively between $30 and $35 per ticket. It will take time to build up to what we envision, but we envision an event that three to five years from now really, truly is a marquee showplace.”
Graham said country musician Cory Morrow would likely headline the music portion of the event, and other regional artists will also be courted to perform. He said he expects about 20,000 people to attend.
Council members questioned various aspects of the proposal, including the city’s ability to be repaid, what will happen in the event of inclement weather and what involvement the San Marcos-based Commemorative Air Force Central Texas wing would play in the event.
“I see this can be wildly successful, and I hope that it is, but if you’re looking to us for money, I need to ask these questions,” Council Member Jane Hughson said.
According to the contract, City Council will vote on March 15, the city would be repaid after Crosswind sets aside “an amount not to exceed $375,000” to go toward the event’s second year in 2017.
Council Member Jude Prather said he liked the idea of the event, but questioned whether committing to funding the first year of the event would mean the city is expected to fund subsequent iterations of the event.
“We envision this [to occur] between F1 and [Austin City Limits], two very expensive events to attend. Our event will be priced very competitively between $30 and $35 per ticket. It will take time to build up to what we envision, but we envision an event that three to five years from now really, truly is a marquee showplace."
— Thomas Graham, president of Crosswind Events & Experiences
Graham said he expects the event will be self-sustaining by its third year. At that point the city would only help in promoting the event and allowing use of the San Marcos Regional Airport.
At the request of Council Member John Thomaides, the event organizers will work with the city to ensure those whose property was damaged by flooding in 2015 will get discounted tickets to the event.
Graham said the timeline for organizing the event will be tight, and there is a chance the first iteration of the event may ultimately be pushed to 2017.
“We’ve got a few months where we’ve got to go secure sponsors and we’ve got to go secure artists,” Graham said. “If in a few months we’re not at a point where we feel like we can be successful we will come back to you with a proposal to just pick a date in 2017 that is appropriate, and we’ll push to that date and renegotiate.”
San Marcos’ location between Austin and San Antonio makes the city an ideal place for an event like what Crosswind is proposing, Graham said.
“When we sat down almost a year ago and had the idea [to have] it somewhere else, and we thought, ‘No, no, no. This is not the right place,’” he said. “San Marcos is the right place. We think it has great potential.”