From the article:
Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant, a gubernatorial candidate, wants local tourism leaders to spend the bulk of the advertising and marketing money BP is providing over three years to move the Miss America pageant from Las Vegas to the Mississippi Coast.
But those leaders are concerned whether they could, or should, spend a majority of the $16 million from BP on the pageant, which has seen flagging viewership and popularity in recent years. Though the pageant moving here would be a boon for the Coast’s image, there’s concern it would not necessarily help bring enough tourists to be worth the expense.
Bryant this week accompanied Mississippi native Sam Haskell to a meeting to pitch the newly formed Mississippi Gulf Coast Regional Tourism Partnership on the pageant. The three-county partnership is in charge of BP’s tourism and marketing grant to the Coast.
Haskell, former chief of worldwide television for the William Morris Agency, is the current chairman of the Miss America Organization.Then things get interesting. According to the article:
Bryant through a spokesman declined comment on the issue, and apparently had wanted the pitch to be a secret, according to local leaders.I'm sure that Bryant wanted it kept secret for the same reasons other economic development projects are kept secret. But it kinda looks bad when you factor in the fact that Sam Haskell donated $10,000 to Bryant's campaign 3 weeks before the pitch was made (see page 4), and that the Miss America pageant ain't what it used to be. According to Pender's article:
In 2006, ABC declined to renew its contract with the pageant.
Cable channel CMT picked it up for two years, then dropped it, with cable channel TLC signing a three-year deal in 2008.
In 1988, the pageant had 33 million viewers. During its cable years, viewership had dropped to less than 4 million.
The pageant has returned to ABC, and this year drew 6.6 million viewers, a 47 percent increase over last year on TLC.As a comparison, 6.6 million viewers is 1 million less than last year's Alabama-South Carolina football game. Of course, there will be people who travel in to watch the pageant live, and I figure whatever venue hosts it will sell out. But how is that markedly different than, say, the upcoming Keith Urban show at the Mississippi Coast Coliseum? (My guess is it won't even be held at a venue that large. It will probably be held at the much smaller Beau Rivage Theater, meaning there will be even less tourist dollars spent.)
I'm not sure this is a wise way to spend nearly all of the BP tourism money. And I can't help but wonder whether or not Sam Haskell pitched the idea of handing over the Coast's BP money to prop up his flagging franchise while he was handing over that $10,000 check.