Formally known as Street Vibrations…
As thousands of motorcycles descended into Reno, NV for the annual Street Vibrations motorcycle rally they were met with what will be surely known as the motorcycle rally debacle of 2010!
Our posse arrived on Thursday (23rd) afternoon. Checked in to the hotel and walked out on to the street to take in some of the action.
WAIT. Where are the vendor booths? Why are cars traveling on so many of the side streets? Where is every one? Why are people standing around doing NOTHING on Virginia Street? We walked three blocks and someone remarked how we’ve yet to see any law enforcement patrols? WTF?
Street Vibrations is the fourth largest motorcycle rally in the country, but you wouldn’t have known that by observing the thin crowds on Virginia Street. Crowds that mostly wandered around wondering what to do. It turns out that the information released earlier about vendors being expanded into Sparks really meant — ALL of the vendors were moved to the Sparks Victorian Square this year. Only the convention center contained vendor booths. With the exception of a handful of food vendors and a couple official t-shirt booths ALL OTHERS where moved to Sparks.
On Friday we headed to Sparks to check out the vendor booths in Victorian Square. The traffic control folks were sending everyone into a dead-end parking area. There were 25-30 bikes at a time getting jammed up with little room to maneuver or turn around creating a blockage that overflowed onto the street. Dumb. We finally got parked and walked around. The feel of the area was nice, clean and open, but the crowds were thin. Sure you could drink, but are you going to when you’ve got to get back on the motorcycle and ride to your hotel? Not likely. Whose idea was it to promote drinking and driving? Where were the shuttle buses? Dumb. And while it’s true they expanded a number of vendors, I don’t know about you… I didn’t go to a motorcycle event to look at scented candles! The Simms, Kuryakyn, Performance Machines, Mustang Seats and Metzler booths were well attended, but most others were fairly spotty.
I met/talked with several vendors in both locations as well as some attendees to get their reactions. NONE liked the set up. Not one! I ask casino employees/pit bosses and they all balked at the setup. The local Reno H-D dealer attendance was much lower than previous years. People had front row parking available in the dealer parking lot. Unheard of in previous years. H-D employees had NOTHING good to say about the new arrangement.
I received a mixed bag of finger pointing. The first reason was about how the Reno Police were greedy in what they wanted to charge for crowd control. The cost couldn’t be passed on to the vendors so, the events producer decided to move it to a lower cost area (i.e. Sparks). Then we heard that the event had become too big. We heard that the city council was trying to “Get Back The Streets”… meaning that the days of blocking off streets from residents and creating traffic jams for locals were over. We also heard that there wasn’t enough parking for motorcycles and then I heard that it was the bikers fault because they wanted to park/drive on Virginia Street… blah, blah, blah. It seemed like reason de jour.
I’m somewhat convinced it was about $$. At the end of the day it always seems to be about $$. Whether it’s law enforcement costs, city liability, promoter margins or [make your excuse here]… it typically comes down to someone not getting enough $$ or someone paying too much $$.
MEMO TO: Randy Burke (Events Producer (Road Shows)) and Bob Cashell (Reno Mayor) – WORK it out. The split event sucks! Street Vibrations started on the street and should stay on the street. It’s just that simple. Don’t correct this debacle and I predict a fast decline and the end of Street Vibrations.
Photo’s taken at the event.