ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - The contract between the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta and the City of Albuquerque is up next year. Under the agreement, AIBF, the non-profit group that puts on the international event, pays $70,000 in rent to borrow Balloon Fiesta Park from the city for three months out of the year.
"It's a very old agreement," said City Parks and Recreation Director Barbara Baca. "It was done in 1997."
City officials and AIBF members will re-negotiate the 15-year-old agreement. According to Baca, there are a lot of things to consider.
"We're going to assess what the city puts into it and what Balloon Fiesta puts into it," said Baca.
This year, the city contributed everything from repairing roads around the park, maintaining the field and inspecting the food stands on vendor row to stationing cops and firefighters at the park every day and night to direct traffic and keep fiesta safe. Officials don't have a total pricetag, but it's safe to say, fiesta costs the city more than the $70 grand AIBF pays in rent.
Taxpayers also pay millions every few years for improvements to Balloon Fiesta Park. Just last week, voters approved $2.4 million in bonds for the park.
"What we're going to do is evaluate what the costs were this year and go from there," said Baca.
But Baca said the city also makes millions off Balloon Fiesta every year in tax revenue from tourism. Last year, spectators and visitors spent an estimated $106 million in the city.
AIBF Executive Director Paul Smith said he is confident the group will reach a fair agreement with the city.
According to Smith, the group generates about $6 million in revenue from rental fees, admission, parking, concession fees from vendors, etc. Smith said the group spends most of that money to market the event and help pay for pilots' travel and hotel expenses. AIBF also helps other non-profits in town by paying them to help with the fiesta.
"We have no intention of ever moving from Albuquerque," said Smith. "The landscape, the culture, ballooning itself, the weather -- it's all something everyone is intrigued by."
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