5:29am

Thu August 25, 2011
Business

Greeley Stampede Anticipates Profit This Year

For the first time in several years, the Greeley Stampede will wrap up its books not owing money to creditors. KUNC’s Erin O’Toole talks with Northern Colorado Business Report publisher Jeff Nuttall about how the organization turned the corner this year.

O’Toole: Jeff, it sounds like there’s good news for the Greeley Stampede this year.

Nuttall: There really is, Erin. After several years of losing money, the Stampede anticipates ending this year in the black. The final numbers on the annual two-week event aren’t in yet, but organizers are confident they will show a profit. For comparison purposes, last year at this time the nonprofit was $1 million in debt.

O’Toole: The Stampede has been such a big part of Greeley for so long, how could it not be making money?

Nuttall: There were a lot of factors in play here. Many of the people we talked to about the issue said part of the problem could be traced back to 2003, when Stampede organizers changed the name to the Rocky Mountain Stampede. The idea was to give the event a wider focus, but some saw it as a prelude to moving out of Greeley’s Island Grove Park and into The Ranch, the Larimer County events complex in Loveland.

O’Toole: Was that really the plan?

Nuttall: Not at all, but the change created such misconceptions that the name was changed back to the Greeley Stampede in 2005. Then it took organizers a while to reach out to the community. This past year officials made a concerted effort to reconnect with various groups, to get them involved in the community-wide event. As a result, attendance went up for the first time in four years, by about 20,000, to over a quarter-million through the gates this year.

O’Toole: That’s pretty significant -- but it still doesn’t seem like that would be enough to make a million-dollar difference.

Nuttall: You’re right, Erin. The Stampede also focused on the expense side of the budget. For example, the kickoff parade this year featured more local people – bands, cheerleaders, Cub Scouts, FFA kids, high school rodeo and saddle clubs – and fewer compensated celebrities. The organization still has about $800,000 in outstanding loans, but a positive cash flow this year can help pay those down for the future.

O’Toole: One of the pricier parts of the Stampede is always the concerts. Did organizers save some money there this year?

Nuttall: Yes, they did. Instead of the big-name entertainers of the past like Tim McGraw, Keith Urban and Brad Paisley, this year’s lineup featured Chris Young and Clint Black. They are both very popular but demand a lower fee than top stars. That not only saved some big money it also helped out concert-goers, who could buy four tickets this year for the price of one last year.

O’Toole: As we’ve said, this is good news for the Stampede. But are there any larger benefits to Greeley and Northern Colorado?

Nuttall: The Stampede was able to award sixteen $1,000 scholarships to high schoolers in Weld and Larimer County – less than last year, but twice the amount in 2008. It also hired local organizations for maintenance and other operations, and those are $150,000 that will stay in Northern Colorado, too.

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