Making money from Thunder in the Valley can be challenging for the Greater Johnstown/Cambria County Convention & Visitors Bureau.
The CVB, which does not charge any admission or parking fees for motorcycles, usually comes close to breaking even. But it took a $30,000 hit in 2013, mostly due to increased expenses. So, some changes are coming.
“It’s really an inexpensive event to attend, but that challenges us on the revenue side,” said Lisa Rager, the bureau’s executive director.
Admission and parking for motorcycles will still be free for this year’s rally, which is scheduled to take place in Johnstown and surrounding communities from June 26-29.
The CVB will try to raise funds in other ways. It will hold 50/50 drawings at Central Park, Biker Mall, Train Station and Peoples Natural Gas Park.
There will still be no charge to attend the event’s featured concert, which this year is a performance by the classic rock band Foghat, set to take place at 10 p.m. June 27 at the Train Station’s Jägermeister Stage. New for 2014, though, there will be front-stage premier viewing area tickets available for $10.
Some additional money was already raised during a Thunder kickoff party on May 24.
That income is expected to complement Thunder’s usual revenue streams: sponsorships, vendor fees, pub money and official merchandise sales.
“Hopefully we’ll be able to generate some additional revenue. ... Our goal is to continue to make Thunder a free event,” Rager said.
CVB officials are also attempting to reduce costs in several ways, including reserving fewer on-street motorcycle parking spots that the bureau must pay the city of Johnstown to use.
The changes are being made in hopes of avoiding a repeat of last year’s deficit.
“That was the first year that we had that great of a loss,” said Rager.
Although the bureau itself never makes a lot of money during the rally, it is considered a quality-of-life event that pumps funds into the local economy when riders and other attendees purchase gas, food, drinks, merchandise, lodging, etc.
Dave Sutor is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/Dave_Sutor.