By Ted AYALA
The annual Glendale Cruise Night, which has proven to be one of the city’s most popular civic events, has been the latest program to get hit by the fiscal crunch felt by the city and state. Approved by the City Council on Tuesday is a measure that reduces the costs of the event by shearing its size.
According to Tereza Aleksanian, administrative analyst for parks and recreation, the scaled-down Cruise Night would cost the city a total of $42,840 – a 65% reduction of the original costs for the event.
“In light of the coming year’s budget we are scaling [Cruise Night] down and recommending that it be scaled down significantly so that it is affordable,” said City Manager Scott Ochoa to the assembled Council.
Ochoa also asked the Council that appropriations for the event be broken up across two years: the fiscal year 2011-12, and the fiscal year 2012-13.
“It is the biggest draw to downtown Glendale – about 50,000 people annually,” said Aleksanian. “It’s also the number one sales revenue generating event for the downtown merchants.”
Funded by redevelopment money since 2010, Cruise Night is among many Glendale projects scrambling to shore up funding in the wake of the loss of redevelopment.
Among the cost cutting measures are eschewing the hiring of bands or DJs to provide music for the event. Instead the city would rely on its own sound equipment.
The size of the event will also be reduced from five blocks to three blocks, which would cut staff costs, according to Aleksanian. She also said that her department would expect that revenue lost would be made up by car registrations for the event, with an expected offset of nearly $20,000.
“We will do everything we can to raise more money,” said Ross Ferris, also from the Glendale Parks and Recreation Department, in response to a query from Councilmember Ara Najarian regarding the possibility of obtaining more sponsorships for the event. “I don’t know exactly who we will contact at this particular time because we’ve been so busy trying to figure out how we can have the event with reduced costs.”
“It seems to me that with 50,000 car enthusiasts on Brand Boulevard that night, we should reach out to these corporate entities and see if they want to bring their semis or whatever display they have so they can get their name out front,” said Mayor Frank Quintero.
Councilmember Laura Friedman suggested going to a large corporation for sponsorships and rebranding the event with their name. “Maybe like GM Cruise Night?” she asked.
Ferris informed that his department has been unable to find a company willing to participate in that idea.
“So far we haven’t found a local company – or even a national company – willing to do that,” he said. Among the companies inquired to rebrand the event in exchange for a larger sponsorship have been State Farm Insurance and General Motors.
Councilmember Friedman also voiced her concerns about reducing the size of the event.
“It’s already so packed,” she said. “I’m not comfortable reducing the size of this event given how many people are there and how crowded I’ve seen it.”
“Certainly with more money we can ensure that we have a greater footprint,” said Ochoa. He added that $60,000 would be needed to keep the event at its past size of five blocks.
“I don’t think it’ll be a squeeze,” said Ferris about the size reduction. “I’m not worried about that.”