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City and Balloon Fiesta Board Reach Tentative Agreement

October 19, 2012
ALBUQUERQUE, NM – The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta (AIBF) will call Balloon Fiesta Park home thru 2027 based on preliminary terms agreed to by the City of Albuquerque and the AIBF board of directors. A new contract will be prepared in the coming days and will be submitted to the City Council for approval. The fifteen year license agreement is proposed to replace the current agreement, signed in 1997, that expires at the end of this year.
"The Balloon Fiesta is a tremendous economic, cultural and tourism driver for Albuquerque and the entire region and I am pleased that we have reached agreement on terms that will allow all parties to succeed," said Mayor Richard J. Berry.  "The Balloon Fiesta is synonymous with Albuquerque and has truly put us on the world map.   We have a great taxpayer owned venue and a great partnership with the non-profit organization that actually runs the event. This new agreement will open up a host of opportunities for the city, local businesses and the Fiesta."
Based on a study conducted for the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta by CRC & Associates, the estimated direct economic impact to the city was $90 million in 2011. Looking forward, the Fiesta could generate in excess of $1.3 billion in direct economic impact for the city of Albuquerque over the life of the proposed license agreement.
The Balloon Fiesta generates nearly $9 million in local and state tax revenues annually.
The event also serves as a platform to feature local food and merchandise concessions to an international audience while introducing national and international guests to Albuquerque and New Mexico.
The tentative license terms between the City of Albuquerque and AIBF identifies the following features and improvements over the last contract:
• A 15 year license versus the old ten year agreement for AIBF to use Balloon Fiesta Park which will provide stability for future planning efforts and economic activity.
• A reduction in the time the AIBF has exclusive use of Balloon Fiesta Park from 90 days to 60 days – giving the community increased opportunities to use the park for youth sports and other activities.
• Agreement to provide new opportunities for participation by local vendors when such opportunities are available.
• Agreement for improved public safety by operating the event under the National Incident Management System and National Fire Protection Association standards.
• Increased transparency and accountability through additional reporting requirements including a requirement for AIBF to provide a copy of its Annual Audit as a standard course of action.
• Increases to the annual rental payment from $50,000 of Park improvements to $100,000 of improvements or cash.
• Increased opportunities for collaboration by providing the City of Albuquerque a 10% finder’s fee for any sponsorship that is secured as a result of their referral.
• Opportunities for the city to invest in park improvements while receiving additional rent payments from the Fiesta (example: if the city makes an improvement that saves the Fiesta rent to an outside vendor – the city could receive the rent payments, thus offsetting costs to taxpayers).
• Solidifies the rental fee for the Golf Center and identifies a mechanism where AIBF can rent permanent structures in the future.
"This lease is a win-win for the city of Albuquerque, the businesses who rely on this economic engine and for our event.  It is clear through our many discussions that this is a business oriented administration that understands the value and importance of our event in the community," says Bill Walker, President of the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta Board of Directors.  "The 23 members of our volunteer board of directors and 1,000 volunteers have a passion for ballooning that we share with our community and other people benefit from it."
About the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta: The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta is an annual festival of hot air balloons that takes place every October in Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA.  It is the largest gathering of balloons and balloonists in the world. For details on events, schedule, entertainment and photographs visit www.balloonFiesta.com. Balloon Fiesta can be found on Twitter @BalloonFiesta and on Facebook.
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