Milton unlikely to become Hot Rod Tour stop

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Andrea Behling
Wednesday, June 25, 2014

MILTON—It is unlikely Milton will be a stop for a national tourism event that organizers say could draw thousands of people into the city next year.

The Hot Rod Power Tour, the signature event of Hot Rod Magazine, is a seven-day caravan of performance vehicles and hot rods that travels to seven locations over 1,600 miles.

Milton was on the list of tour stops to be considered along the way to seven headlining stops, including the Wisconsin Dells; Knoxville, Tennessee; and Charlotte, North Carolina.

The only catch: Becoming a destination city has a $10,000 price tag for an event that likely would last two and a half hours in Milton.

It's a matter of making the return meet the investment, City Administrator Jerry Schuetz said at Tuesday's tourism development committee meeting.

To be a tour stop, the city would have to pay $6,000. Additional expenses for the city would total about $4,000 for staffing, parking and security, committee member Cori Olson said.

The Milton Area Chamber of Commerce has agreed to contribute $2,000, leaving $8,000 to be covered by the city.

“I nor the mayor see value in the Hot Rod Tour stop as a taxpayer investment,” Schuetz said.

While Schuetz agreed it would draw a lot of people into the city, he said he's not prepared to tell city taxpayers the event would cost $3,000 an hour and might not present a lasting economic value.

Committee member Lynda Clark said the event could draw busloads of people who might find something about Milton to make them want to return.

“Who knows when we'll get a chance to do something like this again?” she asked at Tuesday's meeting.

It would be easier to defend the investment if the city had research that showed a long term economic impact for Milton businesses, Schuetz responded.

Other concerns include the city's ability to provide parking for an estimated 2,000 vehicles. The nature of the event suggests that the car owners aren't going to want to park on grass or areas that might cause damage to the cars, committee member Michelle Ebert said.

Milton has never sponsored an event lasting less than three hours and costing $10,000, Olson said.

“This is an issue that's not going forward. We don't have the financial capacity,” Schuetz said.

If Milton spent $10,000 to be a destination city, several other longstanding events might need to be sacrificed, Schuetz said.

Those events, including the holiday walk and Fourth of July events, have presented meaningful return to the business community, he said.

An event that more closely aligns with the city's idea of an equitable return would be the Civil War Living History Weekend, which the Milton Historical Society is hoping to host.

If the historical society is selected, the 2015 event would be a better investment when compared to the Hot Rod Tour, Schuetz said.

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