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Budgeting, attendance help Air Races to profitable year

The Breitling Jet Team performs during the 52nd annaul National Championship Air Races at the Reno-Stead Airport.

The year isn’t over yet and the ledger hasn’t quite closed, but the
National Championship Air Races are expecting a profit from the 2015
event in the neighborhood of $100,000.
That’s a pretty respectable
neighborhood for the 52-year-old special event that has had its
financial woes through the great recession and a devastating crash in
2011 that killed a pilot and 10 people on the ground.
“We think it
may be a little more than that, but we wanted to be conservative about
it,” said CEO Mike Crowell. “We still have two more months to go and
we’re selling still selling some merchandise. But it’s been a good
year.”
The original budget for the event, put together by the Reno
Air Racing Association Board of Directors, anticipated a loss of about
$630,000.
Crowell, a former Coca-Cola executive who took over as
Air Races CEO in February 2015, credited tough budgetary decisions made
by the board along with an increase in attendance and support from
sponsors and volunteers for helping to put this year’s event in the
black.
“We did a lot of belt tightening and reviewing of all of
our expenses,” he said. “We had a slight increase in attendance — about
5,000 more people this year than last year, so that certainly helped.”
A
safe week of racing and near-perfect weather at Reno-Stead Airport were
also contributing factors, Crowell said. And while he is optimistic
about the event’s future, don’t expect any kind of spending spree
either.
“We still have a long way to go,” Crowell said.
The
budget surplus gives the nonprofit special event breathing room as it
plans for the 2016 Air Races – an event that will see the return of the
U.S. Navy’s elite flight demonstration team, the Blue Angels for the
first time since 2009.
“To say we’re very pleased with the
preliminary results of the 2015 National Championship Air Races is an
understatement,” said John Agather, chairman of the RARA board of
directors. “We’re already planning for a great event next year and are
excited to have the Blue Angels returning in 2016.”
The 53rd National Championship Air Races will be held Sept. 14-18, 2016. Tickets will go on sale after the first of the year.

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