The Twitter-verse was abuzz over the weekend in Nevada over Burning Man.
You all know Burning Man as the Labor Day week no-holds-barred celebration in the Black Rock Desert in the far reaches of northern Nevada.
The buzz was over the perks that the Bureau of Land Management is seeking from Burning Man organizers. The federal agency oversees the week-long event.
The agency’s list of desires reads like something a celebrity might request backstage, including soft-serve ice cream 24 hours a day, seven days a week; steaks, hamburgers, the ice cream treat choco-tacos, and a list of condiments and items that number well more than 100.
Not only that, but the Bureau wants VIP quarters, flush toilets and more.
We requested an interview with Bureau of Land Management officials but received no answer.
Jim revealed some hard numbers for 2014 costs.
BLM Fees were:
$2.75m cost recovery
$700,000 commercial use fees – BMOrg see this as a tax on top of the ticket price. If this is 3% of the gate then ticket sales were $23.3 million.
Total $4.05 million
2011 BLM fees $1.4 million, population 54,000
2015 BLM fees $4.9 million , population 70,000
Jim said that this is a substantial increase in fees, for only 16,000 more population
Of course, the 16,000 extra population is worth $6,544,000 in bonus ticket revenue to BMOrg (at $409 a ticket).
Expected population this year is now officially 70,000 – so there could be an extra 2,000 tickets floating around, to be added to STEP or OMG. This weekend I heard a rumor of 25 tickets being available for $1500 each, but you had to buy the whole 25. Not quite sure how something like that comes about…
Jim said that the $1 million cost figure being bandied around is not just for the Blue Pit Compound. The million dollars is the sum total of all of the requests for infrastructure this year: radios, catering, flush toilets. He said their catering requests were not that unusual…“We feed more than 50,000 meals during the week – our staff and volunteers.” So it looks like the BLM are asking for an increase in the infrastructure budget from $600k to $1 million.
Burning Man are not sure who the VIPs are for the 8 designated containers in the Blue Pit.
Jim said “We house all the BLM agents in the town of Gerlach, we rent out the hotels. Vast majority of them stay there, 14 mile drive from the town out to the site – we feel that’s pretty reasonable…We don’t begrudge anybody how they’re going to live when they’re out there. ”
[Update 6/30/15 1:45pm PST]
Did I say 2,000 extra tickets? How about 12,000?
At The Hill, the Deputy Director of the BLM seems to be giving a green light to 80,000 people this year. An extra 10,000 tickets to sell will certainly pay for a lot of chocotacos.
On Monday, BLM Deputy Director Steve Ellis said the agency should “take a fresh look” at the requests.
“I am concerned about the reported costs associated with supporting the Burning Man festival. I have directed that BLM staff take a fresh look at the initial proposals for food and facilities at the event,” Ellis said in a statement.
“Our priority is to provide for participant and employee health and safety, sanitation, and environmental compliance at this unique event that is attended by up to 80,000 people in a remote part of the Nevada Desert. I have full confidence in BLM staff and their ability to develop a plan that is cost efficient and ensures public health and safety.”
That sure would be a win/win/win compromise for everybody. Burners would win 12,000 more tickets. BMOrg would win another $5 million revenues. BLM could get a nice VIP compound and increase the infrastructure budget $400k. Looks like a pretty good deal all around, let’s hope it works out that way.