Wild West financials still unknown

Maricopa city officials still don’t know if the music festival made or lost money.

The Wild West Music Fest, a celebratory event marking the city’s 20th anniversary held from Oct. 13-15, garnered praise for its smooth operation. Clockwork precision, minimal traffic disruptions, and a peaceful atmosphere saw law enforcement make no arrests throughout the festivities.

Although official attendance figures remain undisclosed, city officials estimated a turnout ranging between 17,000 and 20,000 attendees over the three days. Surpassing the 10,000 attendee goal, the event’s financial success, however, remains a topic of speculation, pending a comprehensive financial review, expected in the upcoming year.

While the operational execution of the festival received acclaim, uncertainties shroud its financial outcome as the city awaits detailed attendance records, expenditure breakdown, and revenue assessments from event producer Steve Levine Entertainment (SLE).

Per the contract terms, SLE has a 90-business day window post-event conclusion to furnish specifics regarding attendance, expenses, revenue details, and potential profits, which extends into mid-February accounting for business days.

Unveiling insights into the festival’s inner workings, CBS26, through Freedom of Information Act requests, unearthed substantial facts.

Initial arrangements involved the city agreeing to an upfront payment of $200,000 to SLE, further bolstered by an additional $150,000 payment about a month later, totaling the city’s investment to $350,000. Notably, the contract stipulated a profit split of 50-50 between the city and SLE, contingent upon the final financial statements provided by SLE.

Positive news arrived concerning sponsorship revenues, surpassing initial forecasts at over $88,000 against the projected $75,000, signaling a promising start toward potential profitability. However, achieving profitability through ticket sales remains uncertain due to varied ticket prices ranging from $5 to $300, including discounted rates for Community Day promotions, early-bird offers, and last-minute markdowns.

With ambitions to attract 10,000 attendees, the city initially estimated spending $35 per person, emphasizing its commitment to the festival’s success.

The festival featured an array of nationally and internationally recognized musical acts, a vibrant midway housing nine rides, games, and diverse culinary offerings.

Vice Mayor Rich Vitiello hailed the festival as a momentous occasion for the city, attracting visitors from across the state and showcasing the city’s dedication. Mayor Nancy Smith echoed similar sentiments, noting the missed opportunities by those who didn’t attend but acknowledged the impressive post-event cleanliness and swift clearing of the parking lot within minutes.

The event’s marketing aimed for local engagement, but a significant portion of the advertising budget, exceeding $30,000, targeted channels outside Maricopa. This included substantial allocations to social media, online platforms, television, radio, and outdoor advertising, indicating a comprehensive regional outreach strategy.

However, challenges loomed over the event’s organization, highlighted by the compressed marketing window of only 13 weeks and the need to cater to Maricopa’s diverse demographic in terms of musical preferences and logistics.

Quinn Konold, a city spokesperson, emphasized the event’s complexities and the meticulous efforts invested in securing a proficient event production partner, attracting diverse performers, and strategizing regional marketing while fostering local engagement.

Despite the event’s evident success, the conclusive financial evaluation remains pending. The festival’s impact, whether financial or otherwise, is yet to be quantified, leaving unanswered queries regarding the city’s return on taxpayer investment.

While prospects for future festivals seem positive, with SLE expressing interest in extending the celebration, the Wild West Music Fest leaves the city eagerly anticipating a comprehensive financial report to assess the event’s overall outcome.

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