By Nicole Barde

This month’s meeting was at the Comstock History Center and there were about 2 other “public” members there besides me. The link to the entire meeting packet can be found HERE.

Executive Director Deny Dotson reviewed the numbers.  Tourism Tax revenue is pretty much on track with last year. We are entering the low season so these revenues will begin to fall off a bit. The Transient Lodging Tax is also on track and up from last year’s numbers due to additional rooms added to the inventory as well as a good season for the hoteliers.

There was a bit of discussion again about the construction delay of the TRI based motels. Although the Suite 6 property is on track to open in January the Marriott property is still delayed.  Board member, County Commissioner and TRI Principal Lance Gilman reiterated that there are more properties that will be coming online but they are several months out.

Additionally, he stated that the properties are switching over to an extended stay model in order to house relocating TRI employees. This was discussed at last month’s meeting. The tax from an extended stay property isn’t part of the Transient Lodging tax therefore there would be no revenue coming into the VCTC as a result. When Deny built the 2017-2018 budget he added revenues from these properties into his budget. If they are late in opening or become extended stay establishments it would negatively impact the budget.

As discussed in the last meeting, the County Commissioners need to change the ordinance defining what constitutes “transient lodging” to include extended stay in order for the VCTC to continue to receive these revenues. This will be on that agenda sometime soon.

Deny then did a quick review of the Cemetery Gin project numbers. Net-net they produced 6000 bottles with about $82k in revenues and currently $66k in inventory.  No more production expenses are expected at this point…they have to sell what they have. They front end loaded production to get it off the ground and to take advantage of volume production price point expenses.

Next up was RAD strategies and you can find their presentation HERE.

Liquid Blue presented the budget finals for the Camel Races, Outhouse races and the Rodeo.

First the good news….the Camel Races came in on budget. Which is to say that the VCTC didn’t lose any money on it and actually made about $6,000. The changes that Liquid Blue implemented seemed to work. They added a second show on Saturday, and eliminated “dead time” between events. There were some issues with the announcer which they will correct for next year.

The bad news is that the Rodeo lost money again this year to the tune of $33,500. The budget projected a breakeven result. Liquid Blue made several changes and improvements for this year’s rodeo which resulted in higher revenues over last year (but not to the projected budget) and lower expenses compared to last year. Liquid Blue reported that Sunday was a better day in attendance. All of these changes weren’t enough to avoid the loss.

There are several potential factors contributing to the loss. First of all the timing of the rodeo competes with other events in the area so it may not pull as well as it could. Then this year’s ticket prices were higher than last year and they added a VIP section which didn’t sell well.  The overall attendance was also lower than last year’s rodeo and they don’t know if that was due to the ticket prices or the change in the dates for the rodeo.

This $33k loss added to last years $39k loss is quite a chunk of change ($72k) to be gambling with. There was a lot of discussion about what to do next.  One tactic discussed was to bring the ticket prices back down and eliminate the VIP tickets, tent and expenses.

Another tactic was to change the style of the event.  As it stands now it is a classic western rodeo but there are other types and “styles” (who knew??). The idea of doing a Mexican style rodeo was discussed since we have a large Mexican demographic to attract. . Liquid Blue said that they observed that the Mexican demographic attending the rodeo brought more people to the events. Meaning that it’s a family affair as opposed to a small group of friends or a 2 person date. Liquid Blue will discuss this with the rodeo promoter who already does these types of events.

The elimination of other features and expenses, such as security, was also discussed.

Lance then brought up a key element that is missing from the rodeo which might be used to attract more “name” riders who have a following and that’s adding  prize money to the mix. Our rodeo is mostly for entertainment…’s not a competitive event.  The real cowboys don’t ride if there isn’t any prize money. He suggested that we add sponsors who would provide that prize money.

Lance also suggested that we go after the kids in Northern Nevada who do competitive riding.

Let’s not forget who and where we are. We are a RURAL community and Northern Nevada is a RURAL area. Our schools still have 4H, Fairs, and competitive arena sports like riding and other rodeo activities. Those kids compete all over the state…..why shouldn’t we have them compete in VC?

There was a bit more discussion about marketing the arena itself as a venue to a variety of events. So far we’ve limited it to our own events…time to branch out.

Bottom-line with over $70k in losses in two years one more year of losses is a downward trend as far as I am concerned and we need cut those losses. I said that in the meeting and although there wasn’t disagreement in principle it was brought up that the Camel races ran at a loss for years and it is now flat and trending up.  My response to that was that the Camel races is a signature VC event that is uniquely OURS and people will come to VC just for that ….the rodeo is just another rodeo…you can get that anywhere.

There is a belief that we just haven’t hit on the right formula for the rodeo and that we need to keep trying……but with a flat budget and no more losses.

The outhouse races also lost money ($3600), but “it always loses money” and it’s just something unique to VC that they feel needs to continue. They will be looking at adding a professional trophy for next year….apparently the competition is ruthless in that race and it’s time to kick it up a notch.

You can view the Groups update HERE. Katie Demuth is an asset to VCTC and she has done a great job of increasing the group traffic to VC….the numbers are up over last year and she’s motivated to continue to grow them.

But something she said made my stomach churn. It was when she mentioned that the groups will use Pipers in the future.

Please say it isn’t so!

As you may or may not know…..the County will be purchasing Pipers and need to put it under someone to manage. That person is rumored to be Deny. I don’t feel that it’s fair to Pipers to hand it off to yet another “guardian” when she needs true management and growth…Pipers needs dedicated management, a focused plan and a passion for it. Adding it to Deny’s management platter of VCTC, gin distributorship, property management and now performance venue development isn’t fair or right for either party.

So sad.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *