The region plans to bid on hosting future annual conventions for Safari Club International, which departed Reno for Las Vegas 3 years ago due to lack of airline seats on departure day.
Based in Tucson, Ariz., the 50,000-member Safari Club promotes itself as being a protector of hunting rights while encouraging wildlife conservation. Its convention first came to Reno in 1989.
Reno-Sparks Convention and Visitors Authority board members voted unanimously Thursday to put a bid together in hopes of hosting the 2019, 2020 and 2021 conventions. Reno Mayor Hillary Schieve was absent.
Concessions would include up to $1 million in temporary structures, hosted events and sponsorships, along with $350,000 of in-kind expenses. Ensuring the required 9,500 outbound seats at Reno-Tahoe International Airport on Sunday following the convention is also necessary.
There’s reason for optimism because Safari Club has indicated it will consider a bid from Reno, although the odds aren’t in the city’s favor.
“It’s only a proposal right now,” said Jennifer Cunningham, RSCVA interim managing director. “Don’t get too excited.”
Cunningham said the concessions would be about the same as prior years and the convention would result in 18,000 room nights. The question now is flights.
Safari Club needs 9,500 outbound seats on departure day Sunday. The airport is projecting it’ll have about 7,600 outbound seats on Sundays come 2019.
RSCVA was able to convince JetBlue to increase flights to and from Reno for the Burning Man counterculture arts festival and that it can speak to airline staff about doing the same for the Safari Club, Cunningham said.
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Chairman Bob Lucey said it’s possible that Reno could be on track to surpass the required number of seats with new airline service and additional flights.
“It could be that air traffic grows in the next 3 years and it (negotiating with airlines) might not be necessary,” Lucey said.