”It’s golf with a shotgun.”
The president of the Texas Sporting Clays Association was in Decatur Tuesday morning to make a pitch to the directors of the Decatur Economic Development Corp. (EDC) for sponsorship funds for an event in the area.
The event, the Texas Sporting Championships, is scheduled Sept. 17-21, 2014, at Fossil Pointe Sporting Grounds, located about 14 miles northwest of Decatur on Farm Road 51. Owners David and Maryam Niederer asked John Calandro, TSCA president, to bring home the size and importance of the event and its potential economic impact on the area.
Colandro, a financial adviser in Irving, compared it to what would happen if a PGA Tour event came to the local golf course.
“Decatur can be one of the sporting clay capitals of Texas,” he said. “We’re talking about 800 competitors, more than 100 staff and vendors, and they all need hotel rooms, gas, ammo, food …
“If you guys can help them deliver this economic incentive, you’re going to see a shoot like this at least every other year. It’s an opportunity for Decatur to really get themselves on the map.”
The amount mentioned was $100,000 to help advertise the event. They are also seeking sponsorships from businesses and other groups, but the Decatur EDC is a prime target because they get a half-cent from the city’s sales tax allocation and have a marketing budget.
The city is also being asked to kick in from its hotel-motel tax money, since the event promises to fill local hotels for days before and during the shooting.
But City Manager Brett Shannon, who sits on the EDC board, sounded a word of caution.
“We’re spending public money, so we have to be careful,” Shannon said, noting that the city gets asked for funds on a regular basis by vendors and promoters who are bringing events to the area.
City Finance Director Brad Burnett noted that if half of the 655 hotel rooms in Decatur were filled for five nights by the event, that would “optimistically” generate $8,500 to $10,000 in hotel-motel tax revenue for the city.
But, he added, that revenue also helps support the Decatur Civic Center, which does not generate quite enough revenue to cover all of its expenses.
“We don’t really want to give away 100 percent because we have operating costs,” Burnett said.
Shannon also pointed out that $1 million in sales tax brings in just $10,000 for the city of Decatur and $5,000 for the EDC.
EDC board member Roy Eaton suggested Shannon and Burnett bring a recommendation to the board at its next meeting, which was moved up to Dec. 12.
“We’re working on a policy for the city,” Burnett said. “We want to be able to fund things like this, but also protect the city’s interest.”
He said staff would likely recommend the city council set aside a fixed amount of money for events like this and allow people to apply for grants from it.
“Once it’s gone, it’s gone,” he said. “We’re trying to do the best we can for the while meeting our other obligations.”
The EDC board, which is appointed by the city council, also heard routine financial reports and approved bills.
In addition, Shannon updated them on project submittals and real estate transactions and gave a brief report on a conference in Dallas where he and executive assistant Ida Mae Burnett manned a booth promoting Decatur as a business destination.
“There were lots of people there from all over, and they all knew where Decatur is,” he said.
Matt Joiner, associate dean at Weatherford College Wise County, gave a brief report on an industrial welding program the college is planning to start. They are looking for industry contacts to work with them.