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Sturgis board tables new bike rally proposal

February 8, 2012

The Sturgis Board of Aldermen decided in executive session Tuesday to table a new proposal from the Sturgis South Bike Rally Board which would establish a new funding agreement to reinstate the city’s annual motorcycle rally.
Sturgis Alderman Mike Collins presented the proposal at the meeting, acting as a liaison to the city on the Sturgis rally board’s behalf.
“Instead of major entertainment like the last few years, (the rally board is looking at) getting more local talent and cutting their cost in entertainment,” Collins said. “(They want to) lower armband prices and get more people into the park.”
The proposed date, Aug. 18, coincides with one of the dates Sturgis Kart Speedway is scheduled to use the same city park the rally normally uses. Sturgis Kart Speedway’s secretary, Beverly Martin, said she is willing to have the date moved or cancelled to make way for the rally.
In August, the 2011 Sturgis Bike Rally was cancelled when the Sturgis city board declined the rally board’s offer of $7,500 to pay for several city services, including security, sanitation and trash pickup. The city’s final counteroffer at that time was $8,500, and Collins said the new proposal meets that offer.
Collins also said the proposal suggests lowering the cost of armbands, but the specific figure is not final. He and the city board used $25 as an estimate during the meeting.
Sturgis Mayor Walter Turner said he personally had a few suggestions to improve the rally’s revenue. He said out of 15,000 participants in the previous bike rally, only 2,000 bought armbands, severely undercutting the rally’s revenue. Turner proposed a $25 armband which would admit participants to the rally and a $5 optional armband emblazoned with a statement of support for the rally. He said he believed bikers would then use the armbands to hold each other accountable for doing their part to keep the rally alive.
“They don’t have to buy one,” Turner said. “It’s got to be peer pressure from one biker to the other: ‘I’ve got mine; where’s yours?’ These bikers have got to support this rally. Just coming here, buying a T-shirt ... and sleeping at a campground does not support this rally.”
Collins said other than the new offer for city services and the possible price point for armbands, little has changed compared with past contracts. The only other significant change, he said, was the rally’s name, switched from Sturgis South Bike Rally to Red Hills Motorcycle Rally in response to a November 2010 cease and desist letter from the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in Sturgis, S.D.
“The name ‘Sturgis’ is still tied up in a court somewhere,” Collins said. “They don’t have a definite answer.”
Turner said he questioned the validity of the South Dakota rally’s case against the Mississippi rally name, and he encouraged the rally board to keep the old name.
“I’d take that to court,” Turner said. “If you didn’t harm anybody, how can you sue somebody?”

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