Gulf Coast Jam Requests More Sponsorship Money from TDC

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PANAMA CITY BEACH - The executive producer of the inaugural Gulf Coast Jam was back before the Bay County Tourist Development Council Tuesday morning, making plans for next year.

Those plans include a request for more funding from the TDC, from $350,000 for this year's event, to $750,000 next year, but TDC members don't seem ready to commit to the extra money.

Worried about parking and traffic, the city limited producer/promoter Rendy Lovelady to 13,000 tickets. Once Lovelady was able to deliver on his promises, the city is allowing him to sell as much as double the number of tickets for next year's event.

That means bigger acts and bigger crowds. Since most of the 13,000 tickets when to out-of-towners, Lovelady considers the event a huge draw for local businesses and wants the TDC to step up with a larger sponsorship fee of $750,000.

"I had to go to them with a number that other companies are paying. I knew that they would be different," said Pepsi Gulf Coast Jam Executive Producer, Rendy Lovelady. "I knew that they don't have that kind of money, but you can't make special concessions because other sponsors would be put off by that."

Board members seemed to be taken aback by the request for an additional $400,000, but they say they don't regret last year's contribution.

"It was money very well spent because it really did show that we can continue to have great live music festivals throughout the fall,"said Executive Director of the TDC, Dan Rowe.

After a lengthy discussion, board members voted to continue last year's $350,000 contribution, but wants its advertising agency to decide if the additional $400,000 will attract more tourists.

"If they stick with the same number, that's fine. I mean the reality is I'm promoting the event in Panama City Beach, which I believe in. We're not going anywhere. We're partners with the TDC either way," said Lovelady.

Board members also decided to tentatively move the Gulf Coast Jam to Labor Day weekend.

"This will really help put Labor Day back on the map for Panama City Beach and really will drive additional interest in visitation to the beach at a time of year when we can always use more folks," said Rowe.

TDC members will have to work out an alternative weekend for a soccer tournament already scheduled for Labor Day weekend.