ActivePaper Archive $600,000 concert back on city radar - Hobbs News Sun, 5/17/2015

$600,000 concert back on city radar



The proposal to bring Country Western musician Toby Keith to Hobbs for a concert was tabled by the Hobbs City Commission two weeks ago.

The idea was for commissioners to gather more information, not only for themselves, but for the constituents who called them looking for answers.

The proposal is back on the agenda for Tuesday’s commission meeting, which was moved from Monday because of the Hobbs High School commencement. The meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m, at the City Hall Commission Chamber, 200 E. Broadway on the first floor north annex.

The cost for the June 22 concert remains at $600,000. Keith’s fee is $500,000, the producer’s fee is $25,000 and then $75,000 is for staging, lighting, sound, video, production, a driver and advertising. What has changed is the venue and the event’s revenue breakdown.

Originally slated for Rockwind Community Links Golf Course, Hobbs officials indicated to promoters that they want to switch it to an open-air venue at Watson Memorial Stadium on the high school campus. As a back-up in case of rain, the concert would be moved to the Lea County Event Center.

“We made some errors on how we presented this to the public,” Hobbs Mayor Sam Cobb said, “and we want to correct that.”

Cobb said the original concept began as a day of events for the community. The start was to celebrate the opening of Rockwind featuring current and past professional golfers, then finish with a community-wide concert featuring Keith. But because of scheduling issues, city officials realized that wasn’t going to happen. That is why PGA golfer Fred Couples is having an event on Monday, while another is scheduled for Friday featuring golfing legends Lee Trevino, Jim Colbert and PGA star Natalie Gulbis. And then Keith’s concert in late June. “Logistics got in the way,” Cobb said. “We couldn’t get them all here on the same day. Keith came back and said that he would do it, but just on a different day. According to our information he charges up to $1 million for a concert and he came back and gave us this price ($500,000). We thought it was a great opportunity for Hobbs.”

Not informing the public properly that the intended single-day event turned into multiple events over multiple days, Cobb said, was a mistake on the city’s part.

“We should have clearly identified this (concert) as a public event, not associated with the Rockwind opening,” Cobb said. “We are going to do a golf tournament with Keith, where you can meet him and such, but that is not the marquee. The concert is the marquee.”

Some residents questioned that the cost of local city services was not included in the original expense breakdown for the concert. It is not included in the revised draft for Tuesday’s meeting. City Manager J.J. Murphy said that local staffing, including security, is not a cost ever included in a city function.

“It is a public service for a community event,” Murphy said, who added that the agreement with the Hobbs Municipal Schools for the stadium means that any damage to the stadium that might take place would be paid for by the city.

The anticipated revenue breakdown for the concert shows 4,000 tickets costing $30 each and 3,000 tickets costing $20 each for a total of $180,000. The $30 tickets are guaranteed seating in case the event moves to the event center.

“For $30 you buy rain insurance,” Cobb said, “and for $20 you take the risk of potentially losing the price of your ticket. If you go online and look for the normal cost of a Toby Keith concert ticket, you are looking at a minimum of $75 and to get front-row seating you’re talking about anywhere from $150-$300 depending on where the concert is. We feel that $30 is a cheap price to see Toby.”

Other potential revenue includes $45,000 for food and drink sales; $30,000 from the golf tournament where Keith will appear; committed sponsorships of $125,000 and $20,000 in available sponsorships for a total of $400,000. That brings the total proposed net cost to the Lodgers’ Tax Fund at $200,000.

Another item that wasn’t made clear to the public is how Lodgers’ Tax funding would be applied. That funding is strictly on a reimbursement basis. Before the revenue from the event or the Lodgers’ Tax fund arrives, the city has to pay for the contracts of the event, which the commission will decide on Tuesday.

The proposal calls for the commission to approve a measure to move $600,000 from the city’s general fund to pay the expenses. Once the concert is complete and the revenues are collected, the Lodgers’ Tax fund would then reimburse the city for whatever amount is left.

The Lodgers’ Tax fund comes from a tax by the local hospitality industry to visitors who rent hotel/motel rooms. That fund is used in the promotion of any type of an event that puts “heads in beds” as city officials have stated.

The Lodgers’ Tax Board, which makes up members of the hospitality community, is in charge of disbursing those funds to any government or nonprofit entity which holds an event or events that brings visitors to the area. According to Cobb, the Lodgers’ Tax Board is aware and in favor of the Toby Keith concert proposal.

“At the end of the day, based on our current budget which we discussed with them (Lodger’s Tax Board), if the event needs a $200,000 subsidy, the lodger’s tax fund would cover those expenses, or whatever the amount is,” Cobb said. “They are in support of this because they share some of our goals in making Hobbs think more in terms of being a location to come to for events.” Another idea behind the desire for a big-time concert in Hobbs is this paves the way to showcase Hobbs. Hobbs is part of the county-wide Quality of Life Initiative, that looks to bring several facilities and parks to Lea County, including other proposed projects like Taylor Ranch park, a health and wellness center, an equine center and improvements and projects of parks and other structures.

In Cobb’s eye, the City of Hobbs needs to do a better job of marketing itself to becoming a weekend destination for people to visit.

“One of the things we think we need to do, going forward, in our economic development and other things, is for Hobbs to be on the minds of people as it relates to a place to live, work and play,” Cobb said. “We took that on as part of our EDC (Economic Development Corporation of Lea County) goals. As our housing grows, we are going to get into the economic diversification business and this was the precursor about that.”

Other action items on the agenda include, final adoption on amendments to the Hobbs Municipal Code regarding the city’s procurement policy and nepotism; authorizing a development agreement with CRV Investments on market rate multi-family housing in east Hobbs and a collective bargaining agreement with the Hobbs Police Association.

Todd Bailey can be reached at 394-5440 or at editor@hobbsnews. com.