A group representing merchants in the Strand District of Galveston is seeking to have significant changes made in the way the Mardi Gras and other downtown events are handled.
The Strand Merchants Association has called for an end to gate fees and beer booths.
They have also asked that the City take control of the event instead of subcontracting it out to a private business. The merchants claim that they have lost money due to events like Mardi Gras and the Lone Star Bike Rally, because of gate fees, barricades, and fencing.
The association also wants to stop the practice of paying bands to perform concerts outdoors, and instead let the event focus on parades, with music being provided indoors at the various clubs in the district. In other words, they want the Galveston Mardi Gras to be more like the New Orleans Mardi Gras.
The City has contracted with Mike Dean of Yaga’s thru 2015. Under the agreement, Dean pays the city $100,000 and gets to keep the rest of the money generated by the event. The City is still obligated to provide police and sanitation services for the event. According to analyst Tom Parchman, the City is certainly losing money on the agreement.
“They have to be losing a minimum of $50,000, and as much as four times that amount” Parchman told Gator Press. “It’s a sweetheart deal, no doubt. The promoter couldn‘t lose money if he tried, it‘s just too good a deal.”
Admission fees were $17 per person for this year’s Mardi Gras. The first weekend reportedly drew 200,000 people, according to the Galveston Island Convention and Visitor’s Bureau. If a similar number attended the second weekend, then that would add up to nearly $7 million in attendance fees alone, not counting vendor fees, parade fees, parking lot revenues, and other moneymakers.