Council discusses details of financial agreement on Roots 'N' Blues festival

Tuesday, August 4, 2009 | 12:01 a.m. CDT; updated 10:08 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, August 4, 2009

COLUMBIA — After voting on July 20 to approve ticket sales for some parts of the Roots 'N' Blues festival, the Columbia City Council began Monday night to discuss the details of an agreement it hopes to have finalized by the Aug. 17 meeting.

This will be the first year in the festival's three-year history when there will be an admittance price for any of the events.

City Manager Bill Watkins said the city’s out-of-pocket cost will be about $20,000, although in the event of rain “those costs go way down.” Watkins also said the city will be a sponsor of the event and will receive some complimentary tickets to pass out at the council’s discretion. He also proposed the city be reimbursed for trash cleanup.

Richard King, one of three representatives from Thumper Entertainment, proposed to give the city $1 for each pass sold, regardless if it’s a day or weekend pass.

Festival attendees can expect to pay $10 for a day pass and $15 for a weekend pass if purchased ahead of time. The cost will go up to $15 for a day pass and $25 for a weekend pass on the weekend of the event.

“They’re giving us tickets and sponsorship. To me, that’s worth something,” Watkins said.

The event drew about 125,000 attendees last year, up from about 65,000 the first year.

Although there were no incidents last year and the event doesn't typically attract a "rowdy crowd," King said. Representatives from Thumper will meet with the Police Department this week to discuss security and the associated costs.

Sixth Ward Councilwoman Barbara Hoppe said security costs should logically go down if the crowd number is low, therefore reducing some of the costs incurred.

King said he is continually tracking ticket sales and can report them to the city at any time. He figures about 50 percent of tickets will sell ahead of time.

King also said, while attendance may decrease some, the number and caliber of artists they plan to bring should continue to encourage people to attend. King said he believes this lineup is the best one in the festival’s three-year run.

“It’s a good bargain — 10 bands for 10 bucks,” King said.

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