The Reno-Sparks Convention and Visitors Authority will be lobbying the upcoming legislature to expand and possibly increase the transient lodging tax surcharge to cover growing costs.
The effort is outlined in the deal reached last week between the RSCVA and the City of Reno and the U.S. Bowling Congress.
The objective is to raise the funds needed to increase to $40 the $30 per bowler fee the RSCVA will soon pay the USBC for its Open Championships and Women’s Championship and Mixed.
But Chris Baum, RSCVA president and CEO, says the goal is bigger than that.
“This is part of a bigger story,” he says.
Baum points to the other announcement last week that JetBlue is launching a daily flight between New York City’s JFK Airport and Reno Tahoe International Airport starting in May.
“We need marketing in New York now. How are we going to pay for that? We could apply some money to the roof of the convention center,” Baum says. “We have a large budget, but we have a lot of expenses.”
Exactly what the RSCVA and its partners will lobby for is unknown at this point. Baum says they may advocate for a bump from $2 to $3 of the fee charged overnight patrons of the downtown resorts with unrestricted gaming licenses and to expand the fee to all hotels.
But RSCVA’s main partner in the effort, the Nevada Resorts Association, which represents the state’s gaming and resorts properties, is figuring out what kind of proposal it can support, says Baum. The association did not respond to a request for comment.
The new USBC contract increases the current per bowler fee from $20 to $30, starting in 2022 for both tournaments.
The men’s open championship will be in Reno in 2016, 2020, 2023 and 2026 and the women’s and mixed competition in 2015, 2018, 2022 and 2025.
The contract also calls for the city to make venue improvements at the National Bowling Stadium. The fourth floor spectator area will be converted to a restaurant/bar and, eventually, the exterior of the building will be updated.
“Bowling is not that much of a spectator sport and space is valuable,” says Baum.
Baum says the new bowling contract won’t encourage other events to try to renegotiate better incentive terms because the bowling tournaments are in a league of their own.
“This is the largest sporting event or any event we do. It has sheer size that dwarfs everything else,” he says. “We consider a large convention 5,000 people who stay 2.5 nights so we may get 10,000 room nights. Bowling is 10 times that big.”
In December, the RSCVA sales team booked 34,000 definite room nights and 85 percent of it was new business, says Baum.