Festival of Sail (copy)

The inaugural Festival of Sail at The Mill Casino in North Bend was thrust into the center of controversy last month following criticism from patrons, local businesses and community leaders who say the festival's promoters failed to deliver on its promises. 

Bethany Baker, The World

COOS BAY — The inaugural Festival of Sail resulted in a $81,971 net loss, according to a summary report released by the Coos Bay Boat Building Center on Tuesday.

The added expenses were split evenly between the boat center and event promoter Draw Events.

When asked by The World on Wednesday where the funding was drawn from to cover the costs, Boat Building Center Vice President Jim Berg demurred and referred questions to the center’s president, Tom Leahy.

“The difference was paid by me personally,” Leahy said in a voicemail. “(It’s) $20,000 to a project that has always been dear to my heart and I appreciate all the support of the different organizations and entities that helped (sponsor) a very significant event even though it didn’t meet all our expectations for attendance.”

Draw Events president Craig Samborski declined to comment.

The report revealed final attendance and financial numbers that contrasted starkly with promoters’ projections.

In all, more than 3,700 tickets were sold, resulting in 5,600 attendees while 2,700 complimentary tickets were given to sponsors, Coos Bay and North Bend elementary schools and The Mill Casino.

When drumming up support for the festival last year, Draw Events and Leahy told prospective sponsors that the four-day event had the potential to attract tens of thousands of people and generate more than $800,000 in gross revenue.

According to the summary report, the festival brought in more than $240,000 in ticket sales, sponsorships and grants. However, costs ran high between the $132,500 management contract with Draw Events and the $190,000 in basic expenses.  

The festival’s funding totaled $132,000 and was used to hire Draw Events to promote and manage the event.

The largest sum of money came in the form of a $100,000 loan from Dennis Beetham, CEO and founder of the North Bend based chemical firm, DB Western.

Coos Bay, North Bend and Coos County all donated to the event as well: $15,000, $10,000 and $7,000, respectively.

According to Commissioner Melissa Cribbins, the $7,000 in county money came from its economic development fund.

She said the county had signed a letter of understanding with the boat building center, which gave the center a 90-day timetable to detail expenses to commissioners.

Coos Bay and North Bend on the other hand, had no written contract with the Boat Building Center, instead making donations out of their transient room tax.

And while Coos Bay City Manager Rodger Craddock and North Bend City Administrator Terence O’Connor pointed out the public dollars were “use it or lose it money,” both conceded that future financial commitments would most likely need to be more vigorously vetted.

When questioned by the World on Wednesday, Craddock didn’t rule out the city pursuing a written contract for future agreements with promoters.

“That’s entirely possible and would be up to the council to make that determination if they wanted to try this again,” he said.

In June, O’Connor told The World such contracts were essential.  

"I'd suspect if it ever were to come up again, the chance of the city contributing without some sort of guarantees or assurances is probably nil," he said.  

Reporter Spencer Cole can be reached at 541-269-1222, ext. 249, or by email at Spencer.Cole@theworldlink.com Follow him on Twitter: @spencerdcole.

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