By Nicole Barde

You can find the Agenda HERE.

During Public Comment, at the beginning of the meeting, Steve Saylor gave an update on the Comstock Foundation’s efforts to relocate the Rockpoint Mill back to the Donovan Mine. Once fully set up the Donavan will be having classes and demos on the mill process. Steve also reported that he had received a huge treasure trove of letters and other documents belonging to Adolph Sutro which are of historical importance. Also received was a circa 1930 movie in which the Donovan is featured in its full working capacity! We may get a movie night in VC.

Steve also announced that the Foundation had received a $20k grant for the Mill museum and he asked the VCTC Board to attend the presentation ceremony which will be held on Tuesday, June 25th at 10am at the Donovan Mill. ALL are invited to attend!

John O’Brien and Jim Webster from Jobo and Associates introduced themselves as the new co-managers of the Silverland Hotel. They are also the producers of the long-running weekly show “Old Tales of Nevada” sponsored by Hugh Roy Marshall. Under their management, they announced that the hotel will be open 365 days a year and that they will have aggressive rates to attract more people to stay there including during the offseason. After hearing Steve Saylor’s update they said that filming a “Tales of Nevada” show at the mill would be a great thing to do.

The first agenda item was the Events update from Liquid Blue.

The full numbers for Chili on the Comstock aren’t in yet but it looks like the 2019 net is around $7500 versus $ 15k last year. The weather played a big part in the lower attendance this year. That and the decrease in competition participants.

The Rodeo budget was approved and it will be a two-day “Fiesta del Charro” this year instead of one day. The Hispanic demographic really turned out last year and the change to two days is intended to increase that attendance and possibly some over-nights as well. In addition to the Rodeo, there will also be a concert and the cattle drive thru town.

The ticket trends ( sales) are up over last year. The budget shows less of a loss from last year and the trend over time shows less money being lost so Liquid Blue is continuing to focus on identifying the winning formula for this event. The next milestone is to break even and then to make a profit.

Board member Lance Gilman asked what the capacity was for the Rodeo…ie …is there room to grow it?

The answer was yes, that the daily bleacher capacity is about 2100 and we are pulling in about 800 a day. So we are not constrained by the venue as to how much it can grow and bring in from a revenue standpoint.

The VCTC is going after a grant again this year for marketing the event to the Hispanic communities and it will be a matching $10k grant if they get it.

The Fourth of July budget was approved but it is still short by about $7500. The VCTC sent letters out to Storey County residents asking for donations, which has helped, as did Lance’s contribution but it is still not enough. Please consider donating! The launch site will be at the Silverland. The park and the decks off of the Bonanza and Roasting house look to be THE spots to see the fireworks up close.

Katie Demuth reported that the Reno Tahoe Odyssey went well, Dolan sponsored the event. She also said that the Spring Street Vibrations was the most attended and busiest than prior runs.

Next up was the Financial Update.

The Lodging Tax numbers are up thanks to Studio 6 at TRI. The revenue budget for the year is about $275k and the revenue actual as of May is $280k. The budget year ends in June. There are still properties that will be built at TRI….a Marriotts and a Hampton Inn which will yield even more revenues. Hopefully, the Silverland will generate more revenues if they are able to book year round. Lance also said that the Hampton Inn needs to negotiate with Tesla for access to their extra long ladder truck since the height of the hotel will be higher than current code allows without a SUP.

The Tourism Tax is way up. The revenue budget is $ 340k and the actual thru March is $ 397k. Lance noted that there is a lot of construction going on at TRI and with the new zip code all that sales tax is being correctly identified as Storey County ….hence the jump in revenues. More to come.

You can view the Marketing update HERE.

RAD mentioned that they were moving on the rebranding in their promotions. They will be doing more general/town promotion in addition to event-driven promotion and utilizing more radio and some TV to do it. They may give an update on how this is going at the next meeting.

Katie Demuth’s Group’s update is HERE.

She made a point to say that she posts everything she knows, WHEN she knows it, about when buses and tours are coming into town. She says that altho they don’t always tell her when that there are more buses coming into town. She noted that there are two tour operators who are fairly consistent on when they come and they call her in advance:

  • Trafalgar- arrive on Tuesdays 9:30-10…no tours….folks are on their own
  • Discovery- arrive Wednesdays 10:30….they schedule various tours for the visits

Katie also mentioned that the Visitor Center has new T-Shirts in. I asked the question of why they don’t have more that say “Virginia City” on them and Katie said that the Visitors Center doesn’t want to have merchandise that competes with the merchants whether it be T-Shirts or other items. So they keep a low number of items.

The Pipers update is HERE.

The performance of “ For Love of A Comstock Girl” sold over 250 tickets and was a success. The Pipers Players have more performances up their sleeves and I have to say that I am so very proud of them for bringing back to Pipers what she was built for….the performing arts. They do what they do for the love of it….and it shows. We are lucky to have them!

The tours and weddings are all generating revenues and the original windows have been installed.

Last but not least was the Coalition update which I gave for Alexia Sober ( Canvas Cafe) and Sam Toll who are jointly leading the Coalition efforts. Alexia was moving that day and Sam had a prior commitment ….so I did it.

Sam did a poll of merchants about the impact of the May events. About 73% of the merchants polled said that they saw a drop in sales during the Chili cook-off and Memorial Day weekend. Altho the weather was cited as the reason for the event’s lackluster impact several merchants said that they lost money for the weekend.

Weather aside, some of the solutions offered were to focus the marketing more on the local area (50-mile radius), expand the closed in area on C street ( it was too small and concentrated) and to restrict the vendor booths so that they are not in competition with the merchants. The merchants also highlighted that the on-street ATM keeps people from coming into those businesses who have them.

Merchants noted that the Silent Riders have been actively circulating as ambassadors of Virginia City with our visitors and have a positive impact by dressing in authentic dress and presenting historical facts and stories.

There was a bit of discussion after the update about Liquid Blue’s efforts at significantly cutting down on competing vendors compared to times past. They also tried to place the vendors away from similar businesses. There still needs to be some food vendors since the waiting lines at the few restaurants in VC were up to 45 minutes long.

The fact that chili competitor participation was down this year was brought up again. This is an ICS event which pulls competitors from around the country and Liquid Blue increased the prize money. But the competitors aren’t so much motivated by the prize money anymore….they want to compete. We need to get more cooks next year….somehow.

Board member Lance Gilman suggested that the VCTC do a workshop in one of the VCTC meetings with the merchants well ahead of any event to allow them to provide their inputs to the planning. He said perhaps have a pilot and try it once.

SIDENOTE– The merchants have been asking for this for a long time….it was on their original list of requests last year. It is frequently brought up. The VCTC needs to get merchant inputs on events when the VCTC is in the planning stages….not after the fact. I have to wonder what it is that Deny is afraid of because this is clearly an issue for him.

Board Member Angelo Petrini brought up the topic of how to move people around the town. Many of our events tend to pull an older demographic and getting up the hills is an issue. The issue of “public” transportation and the concept of a step on and off shuttle has been discussed for at least 10 years or more……it’s still an issue and still needs to be solved.

SIDENOTE– I’ll bet that if our 19th-century miners were in charge this would have been solved as soon as it became an issue!! Those guys knew how to engineer to fix a problem…..

…….but I digress

It was noted that it has been looked at and that there are regulatory issues that need to be addressed and complied with.

I asked Lance if the Storey County Commission could look into having a “public transportation” service for VC during the season. It could be a public-private enterprise or a county service…either way we’re big enough that it would serve both the Gold Hill and VC communities as well as our visitors.

And the meeting ended on that note!

One thought on “Summary of the June 9, 2019 VCTC Meeting

  1. Nicole, 6/15
    Another fine report from Storey County’s “other”
    philanthropic govt Reporter.
    I will let readers figure who the (only) other Storey
    Reporter is.
    Sam DNA Dehne
    Very slightly OT – Here is Reno’s DNA Reporter describing
    the interesting part of Washoe County Manager (who
    Sam nominated to position back in 2013) John Slaughter’s
    retirement “ceremony” movie.

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