Holden mum on who got festival tickets

July 16, 2012 

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - Baton Rouge Mayor-President Kip Holden won't say who got his office's 30 tickets to a luxury suite at the Bayou Country Superfest in May.

According to The Advocate newspaper, the tickets were worth about $9,000.

Holden, the Visit Baton Rouge organization and the state's tourism department received suite and stadium tickets and parking passes in return for subsidizing the two-day country music concert at Tiger Stadium. Holden was the only one of the three who refused to identify the people he provided with tickets.

Festival promoters would not disclose how many tickets were sold or how much revenue was earned from ticket sales.

An estimated $600,000 in state and local money was used to lure the concert.

"I am not going to give you names," Holden said. When asked why, he told the newspaper, "Because it's my privilege."

As part of a sponsorship agreement, Festival Productions Inc.-New Orleans received $200,000 originally allocated to the city-parish as part of BP's Louisiana Tourism Recovery Program. The money was given to East Baton Rouge Parish in the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon oil leak in 2010 with the stipulation that it be used to increase tourism.

A committee made up of representatives from the Mayor's Office and Lt. Governor's Office, Councilman Joel Boé and Paul Arrigo, president and CEO of Visit Baton Rouge, the city-parish's convention and visitors bureau, recommended the Metro Council allot $200,000 of the BP money to Visit Baton Rouge for a Superfest sponsorship agreement.

Visit Baton Rouge, which is funded primarily by a 3 percent sales tax on hotel rooms in the parish, added $200,000 of its own money and signed two sponsorship agreements with the concert's promoters.

The Louisiana Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism also had a $200,000 sponsorship agreement with Festival Productions and received complimentary suite passes, stadium tickets and parking passes.


Information from: The Advocate,

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