A week after announcing that organizers were in talks to move BayFest to The Grounds, festival President and CEO Bobby Bostwick said at a press conference the festival would remain downtown in 2015.
The announcement from Bostwick comes just hours after leadership at The Grounds announced it had chosen not to host the festival.
“In October, the Grounds will host more than 100,000 people at the Greater Gulf State Fair, The Grounds Executive Director Scott Tindle said in the statement. “It’s a massive undertaking to plan and implement an event of this caliber and size. We’re committed to making it the cleanest, most family-friendly event in America, and that is our number one priority right now.
“When we were approached by BayFest to host their music festival this year, we tried our hardest to make it work logistically. Unfortunately, hosting BayFest just a few weeks before our largest event of the year is unrealistic.”
Bostwick told reporters a different story. He said leadership at The Grounds had approached organizers about moving the festival and that BayFest organizers had turned The Grounds offer to host down because they wanted too much money from the festival.
Bostwick refused to give a specific dollar amount, but told reporters The Grounds wanted between $100,000 and $200,000. In comparison, Bostwick said the festival board pays about $40,000 in rent for property downtown. In addition to The Grounds in West Mobile, Bostwick said organizers looked at the Brookley Aeroplex, as a possible venue.
He said media coverage of the potential move “opened my eyes.”
Due to the logistics downtown, the festival will be a bit smaller, Bostwick said, with two regular-sized main stages and a smaller third main stage. He said the smaller footprint would allow them to remain downtown.
“I don’t know if a scaled down festival is going to be as attractive … , but moving it wasn’t popular,” he said.
BayFest organizers will continue to keep their options open when it comes to moving the festival in the future, Bostwick said. However, the chances that the festival won’t be held downtown this year are slim. Bostwick said financial issues, or a major storm event would be the only things that would stand in the way.
At the press conference, Bostwick declined to give specific numbers, but said the 2014 festival lost money. He said he wasn’t prepared to give attendance numbers.
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