SUMMERSIDE — Summerside is being offered the opportunity to once again host the Atlantic Canada International Air Show in 2015. But it comes with a cost.
Summerside has hosted the event twice and in 2012 an estimated 12,500 people attended the two-day event
“We believe that 15,000 fans are possible over the two days,” Colin Stephenson, the shows executive director told members of Summerside city council this week. "We had 12,500 fans in 2012 and we think there’s potential for growth."
The air show is being staged on a rotating basis throughout Atlantic Canada and Stephenson said the event draws new fans at every location.
He said many of these locations are within easy driving distance of Summerside and the event should bring thousand into the city.
“The government funding portion of the show is significant, around $150,000,” Stephenson said. “In 2011 (in Summerside), the organization lost $104,000 on our operations. We came back to Summerside in 2012. We asked the Blue Angels to come to back to Summerside and we lost $114,00. We believe that those losses are an investment on our part. We believe that moving the show around the Maritimes and growing the fan base and creating the excitement that we create is going to lead to a couple of things.”
Stephenson said greater fan participation will lead to greater corporate participation for local, regional and national levels over time.
He said eventually, the air show will be self-sustaining.
Stephenson said the organizers are looking to the city, the province and the federal government to contribute $50,000 each to help the fund the air show’s estimated $500,000 budget. The province has committed to him in an email that they will be interested in coming on board at the $50,000 level, contingent on municipal and federal matching funds.
In 2012, the city contributed $25,000 cash and another $6,000 in in-kind services.
Stephenson said the 2014 show in the Mirimachi created a $2.6 million economic impact and that $2.1 million of that total came from people outside of the community.
“I anticipate a $2.5 to $3 million impact here in Summerside in 2015 and that three-quarters of that impact will be from outside of the community,” he said.
The Snow Birds are committed to appear wherever the show is staged in 2015. The Sky Hawks parachuting team have expressed an interest in participating in 2015 along with several pilots, vintage aircraft and military exhibitions.
An added feature this year will be an entry from Springfield, Missouri. It is a full-size transport truck with three Pratt Whitney J-79 jet engines strapped to it with 18,000 horsepower each and can reach a speed of 390 miles an hour in about six seconds.
The issue facing the city is that the money will have to come out of the 2014 budget, which has already been committed. Council will be looking at ways to come up with the $50,000 in a combination of cash and in-kind services.
Stephenson said he would need a reply by June 23.