Friday, August 15, 2014

Balloon Classic to leave Springs

Posted By on Fri, Aug 15, 2014 at 12:55 PM

The Balloon Classic is getting out of Dodge, but you can still catch some of the spectacle next year in Cañon City. - FILE PHOTO
  • File photo
  • The Balloon Classic is getting out of Dodge, but you can still catch some of the spectacle next year in Cañon City.

The Colorado Springs Balloon Classic says it will leave the city after this year's festival due to "politics within the city" and "increasingly rigid special events procedures."

The Classic posted this statement on its website:
It is with mixed emotions we announce that 2014 is the last year this balloon festival will be held in Colorado Springs.

Due to politics within the city, increasingly rigid special event procedures and an onerous 2015 LART (city sponsorship) application, both Colorado Springs Balloon Classic, Inc. (parent company) and Colorado Balloon Classic (local company) have elected to not apply for any 2015 Colorado Springs event permits.

It has been our privilege to have hosted Colorado’s largest hot air balloon festival and the State’s largest airshow for 38 years in Colorado Springs.

Colorado Springs Balloon Classic, Inc. and Colorado Balloon Classic remain debt free and will continue their focus on an expanded business plan which includes consulting and organizing events for cities other than Colorado Springs.

Due to a desire to keep the focus on the 2014 event, the Board of Directors and staff are not available for interviews or comments on this subject. This Press Release is issued to advise the public of the future of the balloon festival in Colorado Springs and is for informational use only.
The statement comes after the LART (lodgers and auto rental tax) committee met in recent weeks. The committee this year adopted a program in which applicants for city funds must show the economic impact on the community of their events.

But the Classic's announcement shouldn't come as a surprise. We reported last February that it had inked a deal with Cañon City to create an event there next year.

Parks Director Karen Palus says the posted announcement caught her by surprise, because the Classic hadn't notified parks of its decision, despite having held meetings with Classic personnel recently.

She says the Classic's expenses, such as extra police officers for traffic control and the like, are being paid in full with LART money this year. Support comes from Palus's office, where officials work with promoters to try to deal with all of their needs under one roof.

While some special events have to reimburse the city for expenses associated with the event, including barricades and law enforcement, the Balloon Classic was one of many "heritage" events for which the city paid those expenses.

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