In light of the city’s consideration to formally cancel the Hollister Independence Rally, the promoter of the past two events said he’s waiting on commitments from several national sponsors in order to make it financially viable.
Hollister council members at their meeting Monday are set to consider a formal cancellation with time running out on the event traditionally held on or near July 4. This year’s event was planned for July 6-8.
Randy Burke, president of from Nevada-based Roadshows, said he his company has lost money from the first two Hollister rallies he promoted in 2016 and 2017.
“I need the sponsorships to fill my budgets to that I can produce a first-class show like I have the past two years,” Burke told San Benito Live. “Without those sponsorships, I’m pretty much stuck.”
Speculation over canceling the Hollister motorcycle rally is nothing new around here. The event started in 1997 — to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the 1947 “invasion” of bikers into the sleepy farm town made famous in “The Wild One” starring Marlon Brando— but has experienced two separate cancellations by the city due to cost issues.
Burke said he he loves Hollister and loves producing the show, and that the crowds were “huge” in those two years, especially 2017 with the 70th anniversary.
“I can’t run in the red,” he said. “I had to make an investment the last two years, both years out of my own corporate pocket. I’m not prepared to do that for a third year. I’ve got to have enough sponsorships so I don’t have to dig into my pocket.”
He said the city had indicated it would charge the same $160,000 amount as last year, but the entire cost comes to about $330,000 for Roadshows. The promoter must make up those costs through five revenue streams, but sponsorships are the biggest. Vendors are another major revenue source, and they’re on hold until sponsors are firmed up.
“You have to have so many days and weeks and months out in advance to commit to doing a festival like the biker rally festival like we’ve been doing,” he said. “It doesn’t leave much time.”
Even Burke was stumped as to why other motorcycle rallies he promotes, such as Street Vibrations in Nevada, don’t struggle to break even like Hollister does.
“That’s the $64,000 question,” he said. “I would think that with the number of people that we get to the event, and it’s been pretty well documented by the police department, that we would have a lot of encouragement, that sponsors would like to participate.”
Burke said he couldn’t go into specifics on sponsors due to confidentiality agreements. Geico Motorcycle and Russ Brown Motorcycle Attorneys are listed on the rally website as sponsors. Harley-Davidson and Coors were among sponsors in 2017 as well.
He also mentioned struggles of the motorcycle industry, which caters to an aging crowd.
“Competition out there in the motorcycle business is crazy,” he said.
But he hasn’t given up hope on a 2018 Hollister rally yet.
“I’m hoping between now and when the city council meets, I’ll have a call from one or both of my larger sponsors and we’ll have a happy ending.”