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2017 Huntington Beach air show helped local businesses at no net taxpayer expense, city study says

The Navy's Blue Angels fly in formation during the 2017 Breitling Huntington Beach Airshow. (File Photo)

A study by Huntington Beach city staff concludes that last year’s Breitling Huntington Beach Airshow was an economic boon for local businesses and carried no additional cost for taxpayers.

The free show Sept. 29 to Oct. 1 included the Navy’s Blue Angels precision flying team roaring over the beach before tens of thousands of spectators.

City officials said Tuesday during a City Council study session that the city’s costs were nearly $169,000, including about $65,000 for police. However, Huntington Beach collected $92,000 in parking revenue, and the remaining costs, about $77,000, were recouped through money given by the show’s promoter, AirSupport LLC.

Going into last year’s show, city officials were worried about the event’s financial future. The inaugural show in 2016 lost about $400,000.

In September, weeks before the planes took flight, the council approved about $100,000 to support the 2017 show by temporarily increasing parking fees. The council also allowed AirSupport to delay its payments for public safety and other city personnel.

City officials did not provide attendance figures for 2017, saying estimates varied too widely. The 2016 show attracted an estimated 560,000.

The study also examined restaurant revenue from the air show’s Saturday and Sunday dates, based on available credit card data. According to a year-by-year study, restaurants recorded about $2.7 million in revenue for those dates in 2016, a 26% increase from a year earlier, when there was no air show. In 2017, restaurants reported nearly $3.3 million, a 20% increase from the year before.

Councilman Patrick Brenden said Tuesday’s report reaffirms the city’s belief that the air show provides a significant economic boost for businesses.

“I think it was a good investment,” he said.

“I’m looking forward to a better, bigger show next year,” said Councilman Billy O’Connell.

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