Mardi Gras could fill rooms with new event

Danny Zimmern shared the Pensacola Mardi Gras proposal for the BP Tourism funds:

We are proposing a new event, The Pensacola Mardi Gras Marching Band Madness Parade and Competition to be held the last week end in January, the 27th and 28th of January 2012. This will be a 2 day event in 2 different venues.

In partnership with Springdale Travel, PMGI proposes to combine the best of marching bands, and all this is Mardi Gras in a marching band competition that will start on Friday night on the streets of historic downtown Pensacola in a Mardi Gras parade and Marching band contest that surely help take Pensacola’s Mardi Gras season to a whole new level. On Saturday, the competition will move to the stadium of one of our local high schools, and continue the competition. In future years, if this event is successful, it’s our hope to have the stadium portion of the competition in the beautiful new Pensacola Maritime Park Stadium.

Ed Schroeder and his staff plan on heavily promoting Pensacola’s Mardi Gras celebration in the Visit Pensacola plan being presented today. The Downtown Improvement Board supports this idea wholeheartedly.

Show bands from all over the South compete, usually for trophies and bragging rights. We propose to merge a Mardi Gras parade on the traditional parade route with the best bands of the South. We anticipate approximately 12 – 15 bands from around the South, to come and we hope to add approximately 5 bands from the local area. If each out of town band brings 200 people between band members, chaperones, and parents, we should have at least 3000 new visitors guaranteed. We will provide some meals and their entry will include some of the cost of lodging but we anticipate each out of town person spending in the neighborhood of $100 each while they are here. That is based not only on an estimation by our partner Springdale Travel, but is confirmed by the 2008 Visit Florida Visitor Study.

The secret to having the bands come, especially in a first year event, is offering prize money. The secret to wanting them to come back is for them to have a great time while here, and we intend on doing just that with multiple fun events for the participants. Saturday Night we will have all of the bands and their entourage to a party at a downtown venue and we will award the bands the prizes there, feed them, and show them a real good Pensacola Mardi Gras time.

Our marketing plan calls for advertising for the event and for the bands all over the south. This marketing amount budgeted for $50,000 should come from the $2,000,000 advertising budget. The $100,000 balance we’re asking for, we’re asking for that to come from the events budget of $750,000.

The competition will receive press coverage that will be seen all over the South and more, and the band members and their support staff will go home with stories to tell about how great Pensacola Florida is.

We anticipate filling upwards of 1200 hotel rooms for 2 to 3 nights, and that’s all but guaranteed to get those heads in beds. No hoping to get them, but guaranteed since they’re part of the event. With the proper advertising, this weekend should fill hundreds more hotel rooms, as we don’t have New Orleans or Mississippi Mardi Gras to contend with. This should turn into a whole new event that has tremendous potential for Pensacola tourism

We offer a unique venue, and wonderful surroundings, so where else would you expect a world class Mardi Gras Marching Band Contest and Celebration than in Pensacola, Florida.