Momentum builds for a 2013 motorcycle rally

Prime parking for motorcycles were moved from San Benito Street to VIP lots on side streets for the 2007 rally. Will we see the bikes back on San Benito Street in 2013? City officials will discuss a plan Jan. 7.

In November 2008, council members canceled the Hollister Motorcycle Rally for the second time in less than three years. Top officials in the deficit-straddled city decided financial security outweighed the escalating costs – primarily a $360,000 security price tag – which came with Hollister’s signature event.

In the coming weeks, council members may be considering another revival to the motorcycle rally and its more than six decades of tradition. City Manager Clint Quilter on Monday indicated that council members by their Jan. 7 meeting may receive an official proposal from an outside manager, with whom officials have been in talks, to sanction a July 2013 rally.

That prospective rally manager, Mark Cresswell of North Carolina-based Worldwide Dynamics, visited Hollister last week and met with various city officials, including Quilter and Interim Police Chief David Westrick. Cresswell, as officials pointed out, has experience at major motorcycle rallies in Sturgis, S.D., and Laconia, N.H.

He met with officials last week on his visit and talked over possible approaches to security, budgeting and the event itself. He is scheduled to return for the Jan. 7 meeting to meet with council members and present a plan.

City officials Monday underscored intentions to organize what was called a “scaled-down” version of the rally in its first year back. Initially, it would be just downtown with the possibility of expanding in future years.

Perhaps the biggest change is that the rally would be held over just two days – Friday and Saturday – instead of three days as in prior years. Officials said the manager wanted to cut down on added expenditures for Sundays, because most people are merely leaving town that day.

“What we saw as the revenue streams, they appear to be very reasonable,” Quilter told council members.

The manager put together projections with the intentions of starting “very small,” Councilman Ray Friend said.

“This year’s proposal is a scaled-down version of what we saw before,” Friend said. “His original proposal was very small and we convinced him we know better. Once the word gets out that it’s here, it’s not going to be 10,000 people. It’s going to be more than that.”

The official estimate for the most recent three-day rally put the total attendance at more than 90,000.

Friend said the outside manager has a long-term vision for the Hollister event.

“His long-term vision is for this rally to grow quite a bit, but only at a pace that it sustains itself,” said the councilman, noting Cresswell’s connections with major sponsors who are also interested in long-term success.

This year would be “kind of conservative,” said Friend, who mentioned the event “could get to be something very nice and include other things like the air show and bike races up at the hills.”

For now, Mike Corbin from Corbin Motorcycle Seats & Accessories said during the public comment period it is important to continue communicating well on the matter. He said a lack of talking led to the event’s demise in prior years.

“We can make this work and bring a lot of money into Hollister,” Corbin said.

Former mayoral candidate Marty Richman contended, meanwhile, that Hollister needs a “czar” to oversee the rally operations.

“Somebody has to be the point man to make sure everything goes,” he said.

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