Bayou Country Superfest is expected to return to Tiger Stadium in 2012, provided it receives a total of $600,000 from state and local entities, said Paul Arrigo, president of the Baton Rouge Area Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Tentatively, $200,000 each will be provided by the state Office of Tourism, the Baton Rouge Visitors Bureau and a recovery grant from BP that was allocated to the parish.
Arrigo and his staff met Wednesday morning with Joel Boé, a Metro Council member, and John Carpenter, chief administrative officer for Mayor-President Kip Holden, to determine how the $493,000 BP grant will be used.
Arrigo said he felt confident that once the funds were approved by the different entities, Superfest organizers would commit to Baton Rouge for next year.
Arrigo said he will meet again next week with Boé and Carpenter to finalize plans for how the BP grant money will be spent.
“I think we could get a firm commitment that we would have the Country Fest based on us coming to an agreement next week,” Arrigo said.
LSU has agreed to provide the use of Tiger Stadium for the concert next year if a deal is struck, said Herb Vincent, LSU associate vice chancellor.
Quint Davis, Superfest producer, declined a request for an interview submitted to his press representative.
The country music festival, which has featured such headliners as Taylor Swift, Kenny Chesney and Tim McGraw, was first launched in Baton Rouge in 2010 for a price tag of $900,000.
The city-parish, Visitors Bureau and the state Office of Tourism each provided $300,000.
But in December, the Metro Council voted against using parish funds to subsidize the concert in 2011 because of the lack of accountability in showing how the funds would be used.
Both the state and the Visitors Bureau put up $300,000 for the concert’s second year.
Davis hinted earlier this year that Superfest could move to a different city if it did not receive local funds.
Arrigo said Wednesday that Superfest was the most significant event in Baton Rouge in terms of attracting visitors to the area and promoting the city across the country.
“(It) brings in millions of dollars and basically fills up hotel rooms, restaurants, etc.” he said. “We’d like to get a long-term plan to perpetuate the Country Fest beyond 2012, but if we’re going to perpetuate it, we have to start now and this is the best opportunity for us to do so.”
Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne, who signs off on the BP grant funds and heads the state Office of Tourism, said Superfest is critical to Baton Rouge tourism.
He noted that the concert was broadcast across the globe, including to American armed forces stationed in other countries.
However, he said, the reduction of the state’s commitment — from $300,000 the first two years to $200,000 for 2012 — marked an inevitable drawdown in funds that will be committed to the concert.
“This recognizes that there won’t be a constant, ongoing guarantee for a particular amount of money, and eventually we may move on to support other events,” Dardenne said. “I want to support the event, but I think (Davis) recognizes that sooner or later he may have to stand on his own.”
The remainder of the BP grant, which can only be used for tourism, is split among other events in 2012, such as the Pennington Balloon Championships, the USS Kidd Fourth of July Spectacular and other conventions and industry events.
Money will also be used to enhance the Visitors Bureau’s website and to expand a summer advertising campaign for the city.
Superfest, however, is receiving the largest portion of the one-time BP grant.
Arrigo said the additional funds to enhance programs and advertising are well-timed, considering 2012 is the state’s bicentennial.
“You only turn 200 once,” he said.