Meetings will begin to discuss issues, contract, for 2014 air show

2013-12-04T20:15:00Z Meetings will begin to discuss issues, contract, for 2014 air showBy Rob Earnshaw Times Correspondent nwitimes.com
December 04, 2013 8:15 pm  • 

HAMMOND │ The South Shore Convention and Visitors Authority Board of Directors will gather in an executive session Dec. 9 to negotiate a contract between the SSCVA and Fair Oaks Farms regarding a 2014 air show.

SSCVA president Speros Batistatos announced in November that the South Shore Air Show will be held at Fair Oaks Farms in Newton County, about 40 miles south of Gary.

The announcement has been met with some criticism, including from Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr. who recently called the decision to move the event out of Gary and Lake County “a travesty.”

The meeting will include preliminary discussion items, issues, concerns and any questions board members might have in what Batistatos said he assumes would be the first of many meetings regarding the topic.

“It’s the first opportunity we’ve had to come all in on everything going on with respect to a 2014 air show,” Batistatos said Wednesday following a meeting of the board. “I expect there may be a couple follow-up meetings and at some point we’ll have a public meeting where we report the work of those executive sessions out.

“But for us to even contemplate the negotiation of a contract, to even begin that process, which is now just beginning, they’ve got to get in a room and ask the questions and talk through some issues and sort through some things and identify what position it’s going to take on various issues.”

Batistatos said there are opportunities for the event in a number of places and the SSCVA has to pick the location that is going to give them the biggest attendance, the most sponsorship revenue and the best opportunity to break even.

“We’ve had (the air show) seven years in one spot to prove that we can only capture about 10 percent of people’s money who are there and 90 percent are there for free,” he said. “It’s an unsustainable business model. That’s not saying anything else other than you can’t make money and break even when you’re only getting to 10 percent of the attendees.”

Batistatos said there will be a lot more details to come after the meetings take place.

“There is going to be a lot of information that will come out that will dispel naysayers and will clearly articulate the facts and hopefully focus people on a dialogue that’s focused on reason and intelligence – not emotion and disinformation,” he said.

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