Now, Back to Regularly Scheduled Bashing

Notes from Today’s TDC Meeting

  • Bed Taxes are up $117,000 thanks to back-taxes being collected.
  • The Circus by the Sea is more than likely coming back.  Maybe it will draw more crowds next year.
  • The CVB has a new interactive marketing manager coming on board.
  • Rowe distributed estimates of costs of strategic plan proposals to board.  I’ll be asking for copies of those to post here soon.
  • Mayor Gayle Oberst explained that Panama City Beach could not use bed taxes to fund lifeguards.  As one Marketing Committee member told me later, it’s a good thing we’re smarter than Walton county on that issue.  I have a lifeguard manifesto brewing; I’m sure it’ll come out any day now.
  • The TDC’s market research firm, Klages, is up for contract renewal, and the board showed concern that the 2008 results were not worth the investment.  Tabled.  Marketing Research, tabled.

Now to the juicy stuff…

Spring Break is heating up quickly… Spring Break funding was tabled after Dan Rowe requested approval on the MTVu plan ($150K CVB, $100K co-op).

Chairman Andy Phillips and Marketing Committee Chairman Buddy Wilkes questioned whether the co-op could really raise $100K. Mr. Rowe believes so; however lodging leaders stepped up quickly and said that because of the exclusive booking deal MTVu has with Student City, they would not participate in that co-op.

Board member Mike Bennett suggests the funding should go into a different Spring Break program.  Dan Rowe suggested that if it’s not MTVu, then put the money in something other than Spring Break.  Jack Bishop said the Klages report proved the CVB should invest the $150,000 into Spring Break. (It’s getting good!)

Folks in the audience suggested that only the Boardwalk benefited from the 2008 Spring Break plan.  (It’s really getting good!)

There was a hint that there may be another Spring Break community workshop. The marketing committee will address the issue before the next TDC meeting on November 6.  (Don’t you think this is going to get good!?)

And More Utter Disregard for the Special Event Policy

The Board unanimously approved 2009 funding for the Panama City Beach Seafood, Wine, & Music Festival.  Wow.  Wasn’t even on the agenda.

Special Event Side Note – Do you realize that 3.25 million dollars worth of lodging has to be brought in to raise $65K in bed taxes?

If PCBSWMF would have reported the need for $65,000 invested in the infrastructure at Frank Brown Park for next year’s event, that would be different.  PCBSWMF Promoter Jack Bishop stated that the event could not serve 30,000 attendees as reported by previous promoters. Hopefully PCBSWMF will use all $65K to improve the infrastructure.  We’ll see.

Speaking of we’ll see, we’ll see the full PCBSWMF report next month.  Hopefully that report will include exactly how and where the 2008 TDC investment was spent.

In the meantime, we sure would like to have other promoters comment here with your thoughts on the TDC’s Special Events “Policy.”

If I misinterpreted anyone’s comments from today’s meeting, please email me at, or even better yet, clarify your message right here in the comments section.

20 thoughts on “Now, Back to Regularly Scheduled Bashing

  1. Either you have your facts wrong or WJHG reporter is wrong, quoting WJHG,

    “Board members also expressed their desire to continue their partnership with MTV-U for spring break 2009. They say the 2008 spring break season was a success, but they want to explore more opportunities to involve more local businesses, and it seems the bed tax collections are holding steady.”

    According to them, everyone is for MTV… it seems that the reporter might have left the meeting early!?


  2. Hmmm… if the TDC Board of Directors were for the MTVu program, they would have voted on it and approved it at Director Rowe’s recommendation. Instead it was tabled. Therefore, it’s clear that not all TDC Board Members are for the MTVu program.


  3. Cruising,
    I don’t think the board members should get their hopes up for “everyone” being for MTVu. Condoning the destructive behavior that is brought upon the beaches and vacation rentals each spring, I believe we’ll continue to find fewer and fewer property owners willing to renovate their units for a few, “extra” sales. Therefore, as the available units to college kids dwindles, so will the bed tax dollars. But here is a bright spot in this whole conundrum: bed tax revenues will climb again after families return to PCB for spring break, instead of thousands of puking coeds. As PCB continues to provide more venues to everyone, our fair beaches will again have a town they can be proud of…and for more than just a two-month block.


  4. The Circus by the Sea is more than likely coming back. Maybe it will draw more crowds next year.

    Okay, am I the only one missing something? How much money was poured into this and it only got cut off early due to low ticket sales???? We were going to go until we saw the cost of admission. Why bring back something that was not that popular to begin with???


  5. I was present for the entire meeting. In my opinion, the WJHG reporter misunderstood what happened concerning College Spring Break 2009. It was the recommendation of the CVB President that the board give the go ahead to finalize a contract with mtvU at a cost of $250,000. While the board members may be pleased some elements of the mtvU arrangement(for example, the fact that mtvU does not advertise alcohol and the fact that mtvU does not show drunk or unruly breakers on their televised coverage of college spring break), board members expressed concern about the TDC/CVB’s ability to raise the required $100,000 in co-op funds. In fact, representatives in the audience from partners who provided over 44% of last years co-op funding made it pretty clear that they would not contribute to another mtvU co-op unless some major changes were made. A key problem appears to be the portion of the marketing program that promotes bookings through Student City.


  6. if the Circus is comming back I hope it pays its outstanding bills first it owes TDC $100,000 and city $30,000 plus and other vendors as well..


  7. Wow, sounds like the “Circus by the Sea” ran away with the Circus…and the TDCs $. Was there a timeframe to pay it back? How is it that an unproven venue could receive such trust without securing some sort of collateral?


  8. The Circus by the Sea proposed to borrow seed money ($100K) from the TDC Special Events budget. In the past, the TDC has handed out seed money, not loaned it. I would much prefer the loan option; at least then there’s a chance the TDC will recoup invested bed tax dollars.

    In this case, I hope Circus from the Sea returns with success so they can pay off their debts and add a family-fun event in PCB.

    I have been told since I posted this that the Circus by the Sea is more than likely NOT coming back… I guess we’ll all just have to wait and see.

    Does anyone have contact information of the CbtS organizers? I’ll ask them what their plans are!


  9. Kirk ask Dan Rowe maybe he can look it up on loan doc”..

    I bet the Goverment has a better chance on getting its $700 billion back from banks…………


  10. I doubt that The Circus by the Sea will return next year. The organizer Don Hamrick has been very successful in tarnishing the relationships he has built through this venture and won’t answer or return my calls. As of right now, they are still not giving refunds to those that purchased advanced tickets and still have many thousands of dollars of outstanding invoices from vendors involved.

    Read for more details.


  11. Well, although this saga isn’t over, concerning the Circus, it seems they have burned their bridge behind them. Onward and forward as they say. Too bad for the ones losing out personally, but it really does go beyond that doesn’t it?


  12. Circus, great idea, poor execution, no realistic marketing plan, and no study on what the market would accept regarding price. Adminission price was way too high. We have many years experience on what the traffic in our resort will pay for entertainment, especially family entertainment. $15.00 is the limit, Gulf World and Shipwreck as exceptions to the rule.

    Location, Location! Done without due diligence and it showed.


  13. Wow, what a great idea! Infrastructure improvement. You know, if the CVB, City, Park Authority would designate a special event site, and invest in the improvements, I will do two (2) festivals a year, the resort can be proud of, and without a CVB subsidy. Paying rent for stages, PA, and fencing is stupid and wasteful. We have rented enough of the above over the past 8 years to have a First Class Special Event facility built and running.


  14. Kirk,

    Why are you so quick to bash a group that came in at the last hour and saved a festival that has been in our community for years. Lets face it, the seafood festival is the only current festival that all locals look forward too. Most people that I have talked with enjoyed the bands and the festival. You blert concerns about the attendance and the grant from the TDC to continue with this festival and promoting group next year. Why? Do you have another group or person in mind? First, I ask that you detail out with more clarity your discontnet with this festival and promoting group. It is easy to write posts and bash things and events without being specific. That is what you have done. You have to be careful what you estimate and suggest. It certainly seems to me that you have an alternative agenda and I would appreciate it if you would either publish your exact distain with the current promoters of the festival or the festival itself. If you decide not to respond I ask that you keep quiet and retract your remarks. Your choice. And please think before you post again.


  15. I am not bashing the organizers of the PCBSWMF. I am bashing the TDC for approving a special event without following a process that is in place. It appears Toni might not realize the TDC is a government body managing tax dollars for the betterment of Bay County, and it helps everyone when government follows the rules.

    My agenda is clear: Encourage the TDC to invest marketing dollars to improve the product and image of Panama City Beach. My agenda with the TDC started over 2 years ago when I realized there was way too much trash on the beach. Until we improve our image, our product, our safety, our cleanliness and our infrastructure for events such as sporting tournaments and seafood festivals, you will see me “bash” every dollar spent on anything else.

    Toni, if you would like to start showing up at 90% of all TDC meetings like I do, perhaps you and I can discuss the issues together and you won’t be so confused about my agenda, nor the duties of the TDC, nor this post regarding the TDC’s October meeting.


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