Business / Economy

Hollister Airshow loses money for the fifth time in its six-year history

Loss of $9,500 was an improvement over the nearly $26,000 deficit from the 2014 event

A year after the Hollister City Council considered whether to continue the city-sponsored airshow at the Hollister Airport after it lost money for the fourth time in its five-year history in 2014, it was revealed Tuesday that the 2015 event lost money for the fifth time in six years — though the $9,500 deficit was almost a third of the nearly $26,000 loss in 2014.

In a report to the council, Management Services Director Mike Chambless thanked the volunteers and staff that helped put on the Father's Day weekend show, which he said 2,100 people attended. Last year, saying that "the airport budget really can't afford a $25,000 hole in it every year," Chambless offered three options for the airshow going forward: cancelling the event, hold the show on alternating years, or continuing it as an annual event — which ultimately was the council's decision.

Approximately $7,000 of the budget expenditures happened in the two days before the airshow, when a performer had to be replaced at the last minute and both organizations that had were scheduled to provide security at the event "canceled at the last minute," Chambless said.

The show had a $60,000 budget, but $47,000 was spent on this year's event, which brought in $37,501.50 in revenue. The $9,500 loss represented 1 percent of the airport's annual revenue, Chambless said, noting that feedback on the event was "mostly positive."

"Many people appreciated the small venue, aerobatics and motorcycles," Chambless told the council. "The majority of suggestions for improvement were seeking more shade, more advertising and more vendors." He said the airshow can only guarantee additional food vendors if it contracted with them, which would increase costs. He said requests for "more extravagant acts and more military participation" would also result in higher costs.

Asked by Councilwoman Mickie Solorio Luna about whether the airshow should continue on Father's Day weekend, rather than the Memorial Day weekend — which is when it was held during its first few years — Chambless said Father's Day itself "has been good for the airshow" though fly-in traffic has taken a hit because there is another fly-in event at another airport that weekend. He cautioned the council against moving the date of the airshow.

Mayor Ignacio Velazquez said he and his family enjoyed the show and noted the reduction in the budget loss for this year's event. He asked Chambless to provide a breakdown of the specific costs of the airshow, particularly labor costs. "I would like to see a better plan where we're getting to where it's not costing us any money," Velazquez said. "In the end, it's so good for the community. If we do that plan right, we should not be losing any money on this.

Adam Breen

Adam Breen has been a San Benito County resident since 1980 and graduated from Sacred Heart School and San Benito High School before earning a bachelor's degree from California State University, Fresno. A father of two sons, Adam has taught newspaper, English and yearbook at SBHS for the past decade, after six years as a magazine editor for Santa Clara University. He previously was editor of the Hollister Free Lance and content director for BenitoLink.