RENO — Washoe County Commissioners nixed a proposal Tuesday to add a second classic car auction during Hot August Nights, crushing the aspirations of Silver Auctions’ proposal to bring in as much as $107 million in sales.
Mitch Silver, president of Silver Collector Car Auctions, proposed to set up the auction at Barley Ranch Regional Park from Aug. 7 to 13, during the same week as the annual Hot August Nights car rally. Silver said he planned to auction between 700 and 1,000 vintage cars during the event and spend $100,000 to entice buyers from across the region not only to the auction but to Hot August Nights and other recreational events taking place at the time.
Al Rogers, acting director of the county Department of Regional Parks and Open Space, reviewed Silver’s proposal, walked through the entire plan and recommended to county commissioners that they approve the agreement to hold the Mitch Silver’s Reno Collector Car Auction special event.
Silver is not new to Hot August Nights. He had been auctioning vintage cars at the event for years, but took a year off.
“I’ve been coming to the park for 23 consecutive years, including last year,” he said. “I’ve done $106 million in car sales not affiliated with Hot August Nights.”
If his plan was rejected, as commissioners elected to do Tuesday, Silver said his alternative was to look for a venue in Carson City.
“I would prefer Bartley Ranch,” Silver said. “It would be a more successful show for Hot August Nights as well.”
The agreement would have required Silver Auctions to pay $19,789 for exclusive use of the park and its facilities. This fee is based on the 2012 park fee schedule relating to the facilities and areas that will be reserved for the event.
What Silver faced as opposition was a sea of pink shirts that filled the county commission chambers, worn by staunch supporters of Hot August Nights. Several of them spoke to commissioners about their disapproval of the auction, eventually swaying nearly all commissioners to vote against the auction. Commissioner John Breternitz was the only dissenting vote.
“I think it’s fair (that he was denied). It just siphons money off of us and off of the foundation,” said Hot August Nights supporter Richard Lund. “He’s just mad because he dropped out and he wants back. He’s not a bad guy. He did a good job for us for a long time.”
Tony Marini, director of Hot August Nights, spoke about his concern that the auction would cause significant confusion with visitors.
“Hot August Nights has no issue with Silver,” Marini said. “Just not during our event. It would be extremely detrimental. Our first obligation is to protect Hot August Nights. What extremely concerns us is the impact to our revenues.”
Marini was pleased about the outcome, he said after the commissioners’ decision.
“I think with all our volunteers showing up today, they realized we are a part of the community,” Marini said. “I’m happy that they saw that. We’ve shown everybody we’re not leaving. We’re in this community to stay. We are here to support everything that goes on in Reno, Sparks and everything in the community.”
Marini said Hot August Nights is planning new activities for the upcoming event that they haven’t done in the past.
“We’re looking forward to reinventing ourselves a little bit and moving forward,” he said.
Commissioners cited traffic congestion, parking issues, staff resources and enforcement capability as reasons to deny the agreement.
The event would have included a VIP social event and collector car auction.
Commissioner Kitty Jung, liaison to Washoe County Regional Parks and Open Space Commission, said she had concerns for the surrounding neighborhood and neighboring school that would be in session.
The commission encouraged Silver to choose an event date or location that did not conflict with the year-round school location nearby and requested mitigation for potential traffic issues and other impacts to the park, though the thorough proposal review by staff did not find any issues with the commissioners’ reasonings.