I hadn’t attended Bluesapalooza, at least in any meaningful way, for many years prior to this one. But when friends from Seattle expressed some interest in traveling down to attend, that served as proper motivation to revisit Sam’s Wood Site.
Well, that and Buddy Guy, and believe me, Mammoth is now separated into two camps – those who can say they went to see Buddy Guy last Sunday and those who didn’t. He was phenomenal. Vanko should just book him every year. I’d pay extra for the privilege.
But back to the Blues. So my buddies asked me about the For Sale signs in front of the venue. “They’re not going to sell this place, are they?”
“Umm, well, probably.”
“Okay, well keep us posted. If they sell it and move the event, we’re not coming back. But if it doesn’t sell and the festival stays here next year, we will.”
My impression is that a lot of folks feel the same way. If the Town doesn’t save the Wood Site, it could irreparably damage the event and would represent a huge blow to Mammoth.
As Sam Walker, who owns a 50 percent stake in the Wood Site, said this week, there are a number of creative ways the Town could address the issue.
For example, the site is zoned for approximately 200 units of density. The North Village Specific Plan allows for density transfers. The Town could buy the parcel for little money down, and perhaps pay interest-only on the loan for a period of a few years. Meanwhile, the Town could monetize the density by selling it off to a developer. That could bring in enough to offset the cost of the parcel.
Walker added that people often talk about the financial risk of acquiring property. Well, what about the risk of losing one of Mammoth’s signature places and signature events?
“How do you put a value on 6,000 people smiling and having a good time?” Walker asked. Never mind the 90 percent room occupancy and the lines out the doors at various restaurants.
As Walker said, alluding to the success of Bluesapalooza, “Staging is everything.” In other words, move Bluesapalooza to a parking lot and see how many people you draw.
We’ll have follow up on this next week.