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County Approves $25,000 Public Subsidy for Spartan Race on Private Land Next Year

| December 7, 2015

spartan race super flagler county palm coast november 2016

Flagler finally gets its Spartan race. (John Ramspott)

Though it wasn’t reviewed by its own Tourist Development Council, the Flagler County Commission Monday unanimously approved a $25,000 subsidy for the a previously controversial Spartan Race event in the county, though this time the November 2016 race will take place on private land as opposed to the Princess Place Preserve, where it had been originally scheduled to take place.

The tourist council last summer had approved the spending when the race was set for Princess Place. But a public outcry over staging the race, which draws up to 6,000 runners over an 8-mile course and uses more than two dozen  man-made obstacles that remake the landscape to challenge competitors.

“They did not reconsider the new location or anything else that’s come up on this,” County Commissioner Charlie Ericksen said at this morning’s meeting, asking County Administrator Craig Coffey why that was so. Bill McGuire, a member of the tourist council, had said previously that he wanted the item reconsidered before it was approved, even for the new location. That did not take place.

“They don’t review any locations, we’ve never done that for any events,” Coffey said. “The board of county commissioners has never reviewed any locations, how the police are handled, how the fire is handled, where the runners’ parking happens. TDC only approves funding, and that’s what we’re bringing to you today for this item, it’s just a funding request to support a large event. It’s not on our facilities anymore, we have a year to plan for EMS and sheriff and all that kind of stuff. We’ll work out all those details in the next year.”

“So where then does the planning of the event gets reviewed by our county? Commission Chairman Barbara Revels said.

“If it’s at our facility, we review any events whether they’re TDC or not. We have a special events process, we review them and we bring police and fire and EMS together. If it’s on our property we’ll bring appropriate park people,” Coffey said. But if the county commission  were to review every event, Coffey, claimed, the county would be at a competitive disadvantage with other counties.

Click On:

Coffey was overstating the case. No commissioner was asking to review “every event” to that end, as the near-totality of venues chosen for sporting and cultural events are not controversial, and are designed for just such events. The Spartan race drew more attention because of the county administration’s and tourism chief Matt Dunn’s mishandling of the original plan to site the race at Princess Place, an environmentally protected area: Spartan was taking bookings for that race before the county commission had approved it. The reason it became an issue was exclusively because of its location—a location commissioners opposed, and forced Dunn and the administration to reverse course.

Coffey recognized the different nature of this event, specifically referring to “the sensitivity of the issue,” which he said caused the administration to be more specific in its handling of the contract with Spartan. “They are going to pay for law enforcement, they are going to pay for the emergency services there on site,” Coffey said.

That, too, is only partly correct: the contract calls for the county to underwrite those costs with the $25,000 grant from the county. The contract reads that that $25,000 grant will be used “for expenditures related to the event,” which include “police, sheriff deputies, ushers, marshals, etc.” In effect, the county is providing money to the organization for that money to be used to pay the county, up to $25,000. Beyond that, Spartan is responsible for the costs.

The new venue has hosted events of up to 2,000 participants in the past as well as events involving 4-wheel vehicles. The November 2016 race will have “a minimum of 3,000 event competitors.” That’s half the number once projected for the Spartan race at Princess Place, though the race is likely to draw close to the higher number.

“Although this event is bigger than what they’ve hosted in the past, we’ve worked through the details to increase the area we’ve had to work with, and Matt’s done a great job getting all that set up,” Coffey said. “Just for the record, at this event there will be some intense obstacles that weren’t going to be at Princess Place, but because it’s on areas where they cross streams and stuff, there will be more intense objects and obstacles at this race than there would have been at Princess Place.” (In the Princess Place plan, the race organizers had not gotten as far as mapping the race and providing the county a list of obstacles that were going to be constructed. Spartan had only provided verbal pledges that certain obstacles would not be built.) In this case, the obstacles to be built are an issue between Spartan and the land owner. The county will have no say.

Aside from the few questions Ericksen and Revels raised at this morning’s meeting, commissioners had no objections or queries about the race, and approved the $25,000 subsidy after a brief discussion, 5-0.

22 Responses for “County Approves $25,000 Public Subsidy for Spartan Race on Private Land Next Year”

  1. bill hoctor says:

    WHY ???

  2. Rich Mikola says:

    Tell me again what the people of Flagler County get for the $25,000.00. It appears we are going to donate 25K to some kind of traveling road show , so they can make a profit. How about a piece of the action?

  3. layla says:

    Perhaps Revels and Coffey won’t mind paying this $25,000 out of their own pockets? Until the citizens of Flagler County decide to show up and vote them out, we are stuck with this kind of government. And we may be stuck with Coffey’s antics forever as long as he is allowed to renew his own contract, basically.

    Flagler County citizens should NOT HAVE TO PAY to have events come to Flagler, EVER.

  4. YankeeExPat says:

    “In effect, the county is providing money to the organization for that money to be used to pay the county, up to $25,000. Beyond that, Spartan is responsible for the costs.”

    Once again I am befuddled by Circle Logic!

  5. Jane Gentile-Youd says:

    No money says Coffey to maintain landscaping ( after one year warranty by FDOT) which can be provided by FDOT at no cost to local taxpayers on US 1, a federal road, at a major entrance to Flagler County which would not cost any more than the same $25,000 per year…
    So Coffey it’s okay to throw away hundreds of thousands state and federal funds for road beautification which everyone who drives will be able to enjoy and boost the currently very barren and unappealing main road because Flagler County has no money to subsequently maintain plantings but its perfectly okay to take our hard earned tax money and throw it in the MUD !
    Actually shame on the entire commission who says they can’t take a dime from tourist funds to put welcome signs to Flagler County on government roads but just like Coffey they all threw mud in our faces today.. My other thoughts are not fit to print….

  6. palm coast resident says:

    Does this make sense to anyone? Spartan Race makes a ton of money. They dont need the handout.

  7. says:

    WHY? Coffey has to go. I wonder who is getting paid off by Spartan.

  8. Sherry says:

    I would absolutely be willing to lay odds that our county commissioners were forced into paying 25,000 of our hard earned tax dollars in order to avoid a law suit threatened by the organizers of this event.

    Here’s why. . . if you’ll remember the beginning of this whole debacle last August . . . Matt Dunn, the over ambitious head of the Tourist Development Agency, along with Craig Coffey, PROMISED the Spartan Race organizers that they could have the event at Princess Place Preserve. It was verbally and virtually a “done deal” before the plan was ever presented to our county commissioners. It seems both Matt Dunn and Craig Coffey made promises beyond their authority! The Spartan folks were selling tickets for a race at Princes Place on their web site. . . based on promises made by Dunn and Coffey! Then when flaglerlive found out about the deal and let our citizens know. . . the whole thing blew up because of many citizens’ complaints to the BOCC. The event was immediately cancelled . . . for Princess Place.

    I personally also wrote to our commissioners asking that Dunn and Coffey be reined in to keep them from making such promises in the future. I suggested that their limits of authority and the process for approval of such projects be reviewed and documented in a clear and comprehensive way. Instead, if memory serves, Dunn was given a raise and Coffey an automatic extensions of his contract.

    So here we are. . . doing damage repair. . . with tax payer money! We should not be using tax dollars to subsidize private businesses. . . including sports teams and events!

  9. PCer says:

    WOOHOO!!! I have about 50 friends (and their significant others) who will be traveling from around Florida and the country to participate in this race. They will be staying at local hotels, eating at local restaurants, buying gas from local gas stations, and shopping in local stores. Way to go!!!

  10. tulip says:

    If the event locale is nearer to Volusia County than Flagler, then a lot of those tourist and competitor dollars will wind up in Volusia county businesses and hotels.

  11. Outsider says:

    Who was it that once said, “Stupid is as stupid does?”

  12. Anonymous says:

    Some just don’t like anything the county or coffey does.

  13. Rich Mikola says:

    I don’t believe it’s taxpayer money, I think it comes from the bed tax or something. I think however, that it could be better spent on something other than this event.

  14. yankee says:

    and they would still come, even without the 25k from the county….go figure

  15. Since 1987 says:

    So tax payers are funding a “for profit” organization? They should really look at the City of St. Augustine and how they handle the hundreds of events in their jurisdiction.

  16. scoff the cuff says:

    Where? Our money or not, location may make a difference, again. Will the owner, be them individual or corporation, of the ‘private land’ please speak up, we’d like to hear from you.

  17. layla says:

    Stand by, because every promoter in the country will be targeting Flagler now that they know there is a payoff. Good lord, how stupid can the voters in Flagler be? Pretty damned stupid, I guess.

  18. Vote them out in 2016 says:

    Time to replace the county commissioners—Vote Out Ericksen and Hanns in 2016. They all are a train wreck. It’s amazing how they spew others who challenge them are wasting tax payers money. When they have one finger point at someone else they have 3 other fingers pointing back at themselves.

  19. LiNA H. says:

    Yesssss! I will definitely be going for my 2nd trifecta in 2016! Thanks a billion Flagler! There will be tons of SPARTANS!!

  20. confidential says:

    Lets see how are we going to get these 25 K back in the predicted revenue taxes from “thousands” staying in our hotels and or eating and shopping. Doubt it! For sure they never gave a grant like this one to the other Flagler Art events. Tell me the candidates you guys elect (four letter and garbage adjectives) and I will tell you the type of crass dole laded events they bring!

  21. Oldseadog says:

    “Aside from the few questions Ericksen and Revels raised at this morning’s meeting, commissioners had no objections or queries about the race, and approved the $25,000 subsidy after a brief discussion, 5-0.”

    This certainly tells it all…………..!

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