TDC conditionally approves 3 more years of SandJam

Tourism officials were pleased with figures from this year’s SandJam — pleased enough to approve sponsoring it for three more years.

The decision was announced at a combined Tourism Development Council and Convention and Visitors Bureau meeting Tuesday.

With only three months to get the event ready, SandJam officials said the concert series was a rapid success.

“We are surpassing how we did with the (Pepsi) Gulf Coast Jam in the first year,” said Rendy Lovelady, who is executive producer of both events. “It truly excited us how strong it came and how fast it came at the last minute.”

More than 20,000 people from 29 states and four countries rocked out at the M.B. Miller County to see such acts as Incubus and Sublime with Rome. Lovelady said promoters wanted the event to bring in a new audience of people ages 28 to 35, and it did — less than 5 percent of people who attended the 2017 Pepsi Gulf Coast Jam also attended SandJam.

Lovelady predicted last year that SandJam would be bigger than the Pepsi Gulf Coast Jam and so far seems to be on track. In its first year, SandJam had a $6.3 million total overall economic compared to the $5.3 million economic impact from Gulf Coast Jam’s inaugural year.

The two events were on par in bed tax dollars in year one, with Gulf Coast Jam bringing in a little more than $150,000 and SandJam pulling in a little less. Gulf Coast Jam has had a $66 million impact over five years, setting the bar for SandJam.

At Tuesday’s meeting, TDC and CVB officials authorized staff to approve a three-year SandJam sponsorship agreement, providing $350,000 per year. The agreement is contingent upon the county commission providing a three-year agreement allowing the festival use of the county pier and upon organizers acquiring all required government permits. The contract will allow the SandJam to be relocated off the beach in the event of an emergency, if the CVB agrees.

TDC Chairman Andy Phillips said he was happy with SandJam’s first year.

“I was pleasantly surprised, and it was a good event for the first year,” he said. “The attendees were the most respectful people, and they were walking to trash cans to throw away trash.”

Treasurer Yonnie Patronis, however, voted against the motion. He said he would agree with the contract if it were on a one-year basis.

“As a business owner, I’m not going to do it without due diligence to the numbers,” he said.

But by and large, city and tourism officials have been happy with the festival’s quick turnaround, audience and potential.

“It was something that showcases Panama City Beach in a different light,” TDC member Philip Griffitts said Tuesday.

Lovelady said he still is working to secure acts for the next SandJam, scheduled for April 26-28, 2019. Other projected dates are April 24-26, 2020, and April 23-25, 2021.

He said the inaugural event was held Thursday-Saturday, but SandJam will switch to a Friday-Sunday festival to match other events he produces.

Source:  Panama City News Herald


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