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City of Prince George lost $75K on Cariboo Rocks the North in first year

The city did not recover its losses on the annual three-day rock festival until 2022.
Cariboo Rocks the North 2022
The 2022 Cariboo Rocks the North saw large crowds come out to enjoy the three-day classic rock festival.

The City of Prince George lost $75,658.88 hosting Cariboo Rocks the North during the event's debut in 2018, according to a report going to city council on Wednesday.

The report was requested by city council  at a previous meeting. In 2019, the three-day outdoor classic rock festival held at Exhibition Park saw a more than 33 per cent increase in ticket revenue, resulting in a $48,484.68 profit for the city.

The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in the cancellation of the rock festival in 2020 and 2021, but when Cariboo Rocks the North returned in 2022 revenue was up again resulting in a $91,704.53 profit for the city. Following the success of the 2022 event, the city has made a net $64,530.33 profit hosting the rock festival.

“The most recent event in 2022 had 7,428 day-tickets sold. Approximately 35 (per cent) of tickets purchased were from outside of Prince George, including visitors from Lax Kw’alaams, Calgary, Anchorage, Abbotsford, Battleford, Whitehorse and Winnipeg,” city director of civic facilities and events Andy Beesley wrote in the report. “Cariboo Rocks the North has provided classic rock events to the City of Prince George, with a net overall direct profit, as well as significant economic spinoffs from visitors attending the three-day events.”

The event came about in 2018, after city entertainment manager Glen Mikkelsen was contacted by Saskatoon Entertainment Group, looking to bring an outdoor classic rock festival to Prince George. Pacific Western Brewing was already operating a similar, but smaller event, on its own property.

Instead of hosting competing events, Pacific Western Brewing agreed to a sponsorship deal to purchase naming rights to the larger event planned by the City of Prince George and Saskatoon Entertainment Group. The local brewer pays $25,000 cash plus roughly $25,000 of event support and in-kind promotions.

There are several other sponsorship agreements for the event, Beesley added, as well as non-profit partnerships. Saskatoon Entertainment Group, as co-promoter uses its purchasing power to book the acts and shares in the profits and/or losses of the show.

“According to the promoter from the Saskatoon Entertainment Group who promotes 5 very similar classic rock festivals across the country in addition to ours, the amount of financial support offered in our Cariboo Rocks the North title sponsorship is well above average and in fact, unequalled,” Beesley wrote. “(Close) to 99 (per cent) of all ticketed events and concerts at the CN Centre include sponsorships of all kinds, including international, national, and local businesses and organizations.”