The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Editorials

June 8, 2014

Just a bump in the road | Thunder works to overcome $30,000 shortfall

JOHNSTOWN — Thunder in the Valley has enjoyed relatively good health since its inception in 1998. But last year, the motorcycle rally developed a slight hiccup.

The Greater Johnstown/Cambria County Convention and Visitors Bureau, organizers of the four-day party, came up $30,000 in the red.

Although the bureau never reaps a windfall from the rally, last year was the first year it experienced a significant loss of revenue.

“That was the first year that we had that great of a loss,” said Lisa Rager, executive director of the CVB.

The deficit has been blamed on increased expenses, so the CVB is looking to stop the bleeding any way it can.

“It’s really an inexpensive event to attend, but that challenges us on the revenue side,” Rager told Tribune-Democrat reporter Dave Sutor.

The event, scheduled to take place June 26-29, is estimated to cost about $500,000. It is funded mainly through sponsorship support, vendor booth fees, sales of official merchandise and sales of alcohol.

Rager and her top-notch crew of organizers already have added a few extra dollars to the Thunder cash register. A Thunder kickoff party was held on May 24.

The bureau also hopes to save a few bucks by reserving fewer motorcycle-only parking spots. For every parking space that is reserved for a motorcycle, the CVB must reimburse the city for that spot.

Another revenue stream the bureau is wading into is 50/50 drawings. This year, drawings will be held at Central Park, Biker Mall, Train Station and Peoples Natural Gas Park.

Also new this year, the bureau is exploring a front-stage viewing area at its Jägermeister Stage, where the headline entertainment group performs. Although there is no admission to the open-air concert, a $10 admission fee will be charged to enter the viewing area.

Does last year’s revenue shortfall signify the beginning of the end for Thunder? Although its detractors are hoping it does, we hardly doubt it. The event means too much to Greater Johnstown, and its supporters recognize its importance.

Thunder in the Valley attracts thousands of bikers and visitors every year to downtown Johnstown and surrounding areas. It has been an economic boon to the region because out-of-town bikers and visitors stay in our hotels and motels, buy fuel and food, and purchase merchandise from area businesses.

We’re certain that Thunder in the Valley will survive this bump in the road and will continue to thrive.

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