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Debate heats up over HAN
by Jessica Carner
Mar 24, 2011 | 3464 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Tribune/John Byrne - Hot August Nights Managing Director Tony Marini fields questions from reporters following his prepared statement to the media and HAN volunteers.
Tribune/John Byrne - Hot August Nights Managing Director Tony Marini fields questions from reporters following his prepared statement to the media and HAN volunteers.
SPARKS — Hot August Nights organizers want support from the city of Reno, but some city council members worry about losing their investment if the event is moved out of northern Nevada.

Organizers of the annual classic car rally held a press conference Thursday to address comments made during a Reno City Council meeting on Wednesday. HAN officials are claiming that Councilman Dave Aiazzi said the city of Reno should start a new car show in the Truckee Meadows to replace Hot August Nights.

“Rather than try to re-create a successful event with 25 years of roots built in this community,” said Tony Marini, managing director of HAN, “it would seem that the city council should be creating and maintaining an event-friendly atmosphere in Reno as Sparks has done in their city.”

Marini went on to say Councilman Dan Gustin has reserved the name “Hot August Nights Reno Sparks” for the car show the city plans to create, even though HAN holds a federally registered trademark for the name “Hot August Nights.”

“Mr. Gustin has been served with a cease and desist order,” Marini said, adding that Gustin has given no response.

Calls from the Sparks Tribune to Gustin were not returned at press time.

HAN claimed that Aiazzi went so far as to say the City Council should hand out fliers promoting a new car event to participants of the HAN 25th anniversary celebration later this year. Marini said Aiazzi also suggested enlisting HAN volunteers for the new event.

“This is the furthest thing from support that we could ever imagine,” Marini said in a statement. “Why start a new event that is not only hard and expensive to produce, but takes time to become successful when the city of Reno could simply support a 25-year-old event (that is staying in Reno, by the way) that brings national attention and cash flow to this community.”

In 2010, HAN created an event in Long Beach, Calif., which sparked controversy among Reno and Sparks residents and caused many to fear the event would leave the area.

Aiazzi said creating a new event to replace HAN was not the intention of his statements at Wednesday’s meeting. Rather, he is interested in protecting the city’s investment in the event.

“We have decided to protect ourselves should they pull out,” Aiazzi said, adding that the executive director of HAN, Bruce Walter, actually moved out of town when HAN decided to add an event in Long Beach to its yearly schedule.

“They could just move out on a whim if they wanted to,” Aiazzi said.

Aiazzi explained he was not suggesting the city spearhead a new event, but that he would support a group of volunteers should they decide to form a new nonprofit organization to produce a car show similar to HAN.

“I said we should see if anyone wants to do a similar event,” Aiazzi said, “and that if they are going to do it, they should do it now. I’m not saying the city of Reno should do it.”

Supporting HAN has become increasingly difficult, he said, because he is not sure if the event really will stay in Reno.

Marini said the Long Beach event is not meant to replace the Reno event, but is intended to be held in conjunction with the northern Nevada car show.

“It was created to expand a brand,” Marini said. “It is as simple as that. It is no different than other businesses or casinos expanding and operating outside of Reno.”

Marini addressed claims that HAN has been promoting the Long Beach event more than Reno by saying, “That simply is not the case.”

“However, like any new business, the only way for people to find out you exist is through awareness that comes in the form of advertising and promotion,” Marini said.

Aiazzi responded to those statements by saying it sounds like HAN is contradicting itself.

“They say they aren’t promoting it more and then admitting that they are,” Aiazzi said.

Marini said the Reno City Council claims it has not received HAN’s economic impact study.

“It has been received,” Marini said. “The matter is they do not agree with some of the figures.”

Aiazzi said the city does not agree with the figures HAN provided because they are “made up,” and that the city asked HAN to hire a company to conduct an official impact study.

“We still haven’t received that,” Aiazzi said.

Marini said HAN has contacted a new company to conduct a new impact study this year.

During Thursday’s press conference, Marini asked the city of Reno to consider the value of HAN and support the event. Aiazzi said he thinks HAN officials need to prove they are committed to staying in the area.

“I think it is sort of incumbent on them to come forward with the actual numbers about their economic impact,” Aiazzi said. “If they want us to support them, maybe they should put some elected members on their board. They have not shown the honor that the public has shown them over the years.”
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