In the wake of last month’s announcement by Quiksilver that the Quiksilver Pro New York would not return to Long Beach this year, U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand called on the company last week to bring the event back to the city.
Quiksilver and the Association of Surfing Professionals announced Dec. 16 that the event, which drew an estimated 100,000 spectators to Long Beach, would not be returning to the East Coast as part of the 2012 ASP World Title Series, due mostly to budget issues.
In a letter to Quiksilver President and CEO Robert McKnight, Gillibrand expressed her disappointment with the company and urged it to rethink its decision and to include a stop in Long Beach on the 2012 world tour.
“I encourage you to reevaluate your decision to not include Long Beach in the 2012 competition, and to work closely with my office to discuss how to add Long Beach back to the upcoming year’s schedule,” Gillibrand wrote. “I hope that together we can work to put this event back on the schedule, offering Quiksilver an ideal location for the competition and opening up additional economic opportunities for the greater Long Island region.”
In November, the ASP International released its schedule for this year’s World Tour, which kicks off in Australia in February. Its 11 stops included the Quiksilver Pro New York in September, and ASP officials said that Quiksilver had not indicated that it planned to move the competition elsewhere on Long Island.
Last month, however, ASP International media spokesman Dave Prodan said in a statement that while the 2011 competition was a “fantastic event with excellent waves” and “tremendous local support,” the ASP understood “the factors leading to Quiksilver’s withdrawal of the New York event from the 2012 schedule.” Prodan did not elaborate.
According to one city official, Quiksilver is trying to recoup a loss of roughly $5 million through an insurance claim. And Rob Colby, president of Quiksilver Americas, told the publication Transworld Business that the decision was based on the cost of producing the event and losses incurred in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Irene. Colby said that Quiksilver had exceeded its budget for the event, mostly due to the storm, but added that he was hopeful about a return to New York in 2013.
Ray Ellmer, a member of the city’s Zoning Board of Appeals as well as a surfer and a city lifeguard, said he believes Quiksilver lost money when the festival events were canceled in the aftermath of the storm. Music, fashion, art, skateboarding and motocross exhibitions were planned to complement the surfing competition.
Ellmer said that he fully supported Gillibrand’s letter and favored bringing the event back to Long Beach.“I’m not surprised, at the present time, that they aren’t committed to it,” he said of Quiksilver.
“But from a public relations, property value and tax point of view, it’s very beneficial to the community.”
On Jan. 4, Gillibrand released a statement about her letter to McKnight, which included a statement from new Long Beach City Manager Jack Schnirman.
“On behalf of the new Long Beach City Council and as the new Long Beach city manager, we are looking forward to taking a cooperative, balanced and fresh approach to bringing top-caliber events to Long Beach,” Schnirman said. “We would welcome a conversation with Quiksilver about returning to Long Beach.”
City Council Vice President Len Torres lauded Gillibrand’s effort. “She wants to help Long Beach,” Torres said. “The event itself was very successful. It brought so much attention to Long Beach.”
Torres added that the new administration would be “more organized in its efforts” in working with the company than the former administration, which was criticized for scaling back the festival events prior to their cancellation, not doing enough to keep the public informed and not having a formal agreement with Quiksilver.
“That’s the guarantee we would give them: Things would be done differently,” Torres said. “We just haven’t gotten a definitive answer at this point. But we want to make sure everyone comes out a winner here.”
Quiksilver representatives did not return calls for comment.
Councilman Mike Fagen said that while the Quiksilver contest was “dynamite,” the council is looking to attract comparable events to Long Beach that could generate revenue and create a similar sense of pride in the community.
“[Quiksilver] established Long Beach as a terrific partner for special events and for what I think is investment,” Fagen said. “Fran [Adelson] and I and Len and Scott [Mandel] all discussed a number of other options that go toward stimulating the business and economic development in town. We’re already talking about other options. There are certain other events that may come here.”
Torres echoed those sentiments, and said that the event left an indelible mark in the community. “We’re looking to bring in other venues, other companies, other programs,” he said. “But Quiksilver is one that’s made for Long Beach, a surf and beach community.”
Anthony Rifilato contributed to this story.