SAN BERNARDINO – Without $36,000 in donations from the community, there will be no Stater Bros. Route 66 Rendezvous this year, the event’s producer said Thursday, citing the city’s bankruptcy as the reason for the shortfall threatening the city’s signature event.
Wayne Austin, president and CEO of the San Bernardino Convention & Visitors Bureau – producers of the Rendezvous – said that organizers have raised $34,000 of $70,000 needed to put on the 22-year-old event. But another $36,000 is needed to make up the difference the Rendezvous would normally get from the city.
That has Austin seeking help from the community.
“Due to the bankruptcy of San Bernardino, we need your help,” Austin said, adding that he is expecting people to step up and help out.
“It is important to keep this major event within the city of San Bernardino, and we are asking business owners, city and county officials and the public to invest in this classic car show. We value your support.”
The annual Rendezvous, set this year for Sept. 13 through 16 in downtown, attracts about 500,000 spectators, where cars are the stars, along with music, entertainment, sponsor displays, legendary guests, contests and commercial exhibitors. It brings about $40 million to the city.
Typically, the Rendezvous is paid for by car participants, sponsors and vendors.
Total costs for the four-day car show extravaganza range between $520,000 and $550,000, according to Austin.
Of that, in year’s past, the city’s share has been $140,000 in in-kind services such as security, trash collection and traffic control.
But because of the city’s filing for bankruptcy, the city was restricted by what it could provide.
“We simply had no capacity to help any more, given our budget and the bankruptcy,” Mayor Pat Morris said.
That left the producer with the bill for the free event, including the costs of tents, insurance, electrical, private security and special events staff expenses.
“This year, they can only provide $70,000 in in-kind services and then send me a bill,” Austin said.
Still, Morris and others say they’re confident the money would come from a community that loves the event.
“We did put the cry out for donations, and already people are responding,” Morris said. “We will produce a wonderul Rendezvous.”
Austin, too, was seeing a response.
“I am feeling a lot of love so far,” Austin said.
Morris said the event comes at a time when the city deperately needs a celebration – the city filed for bankruptcy on Aug. 1.
“We’ll take a moment out, have a good time for a few days. This is a boon for our city,” Morris said.
Jack Brown, chairman and CEO of San Bernardino-based Stater Bros. Markets, touted the value of the event, which his company has sponsored for 15 years.
“Hopefully, this Rendezvous will bring a revival to downtown San Bernardino,” Brown said. “We invest more than $600,000 in the Rendezvous as title sponsor and have more than 300 of our people as volunteers – vendors and suppliers. This is a very important financial commitment for the car owners, as well,” Brown said.
Brown said making the event happen is pivotal at a time when the city is suffering.
“I think this terrific community will step in to help in this time of financial crisis for the city,” Brown said. “Our benefit comes from having a really nice weekend for people – that’s why I always insist it be free admission.”
Austin said he is working with the city, and police will still be there, but the visitors bureau is paying for it.
Austin is putting a promotional package together for area businesses and looking at $1,500 and $2,500 levels as Business Friends of the Rendezvous.
The package would provide a 5-foot-by-10-foot banner that busnesses can hang inside or outside their building. At the $2,500 level, the banner package also offers select spots for “thank you’s” acknowledging businesses that are Friends of the Rendezvous.
Denny Shorett, president and CEO of Crown Printers – which is providing the banners – said he is glad to help the Rendezvous.
“We’re pleased that in spite of the troubles San Bernardino is having, the Rendezvous will go on. It will be good for businesses to come forward and show their support,” Shorett said.
Donations can be made through the Rendezvous website, www.Route-66.org by clicking on the dollar amounts ranging from $10 to $250, making you a Friend of the Rendezvous as Bronze, Silver, Gold, Super or Ultimate Cruiser.
Tony Canul, owner of Molly’s Cafe in downtown San Bernardino, on Wednesday presented Austin with a check for $1,200 to keep the Rendezvous in the city’s downtown streets.
“All the money we receive in donations will be used to replace what we no longer will get from the city,” Austin said. “That is the reality.”
There has been an account set up at the 1st Valley Credit Union, 401 W. Second St., San Bernardino, CA 92401. Checks are payable to “Friends of the Rendezvous.”
Michel Nolan, The (San Bernardino County) Sun