Hernando looking to show motor coach group "a little love"

An aerial view of the 2007 Family Motor Coach Rally at the Hernando County Airport shows just a part of the parking area, which was filled with RVs.

MAURICE RIVENBARK | Times (2007)

An aerial view of the 2007 Family Motor Coach Rally at the Hernando County Airport shows just a part of the parking area, which was filled with RVs.

BROOKSVILLE — In an effort to show "a little love" to officials from the Family Motor Coach Association, Hernando County on Friday offered to sweeten the deal if the group will bring its Southeast area rally back to Brooksville next year.

The rally has been at Brooksville-Tampa Bay Regional Airport for the past 15 years, but the Volusia County Fair Association has been negotiating with the group to lure it to the Daytona Beach area.

In a letter to association official Ralph Marino, Hernando County's business development manager, Michael McHugh, makes several offers that would improve the group's bottom line and increase local participation at the rally.

McHugh offers the association a reduced fee for use of the airport next year. Rather than charging a license fee of $6,500, the airport would charge a per-coach fee of $4 that would be capped at 700 coaches, which would reduce the fee to no more than $2,800.

"This will provide an annual savings of $3,700 over the current agreement or more depending upon actual attendance,'' McHugh wrote.

The airport would also take over the responsibility of mowing and ground maintenance, reducing property equipment and maintenance costs by approximately $8,000.

In addition, McHugh offers the association use of a hangar at the old Brooksville Air Center, which the airport is in the process of purchasing. The 20,000-square-foot hangar could be leased for $20,000, a "significant savings to your organization versus the rental of similar-sized tents,'' McHugh noted.

The airport plans to market the Brooksville Air Center but plans to work with any company that leases it to make sure the hangar is available for next year's motor coach rally.

"The feasibility of this opportunity should be determined by the summer of 2013,'' McHugh wrote.

He also offers the help of the airport, the county's tourism development office and the Greater Hernando County Chamber of Commerce to recruit local community and student groups to provide volunteers to help with parking and other duties at the rally.

"These same groups will also work with your FMCA staff to develop other local activities for your FMCA members during the rally which can provide incremental income to your organization,'' McHugh wrote.

The proposal grew out of ideas shared with the association leadership by Hernando County Aviation Authority Chairman Gary Schraut and county Commissioner Diane Rowden.

"It's a good thing,'' Schraut said. "It gives us an opportunity to work together.''

Family Motor Coach Association officials could not be reached for comment Friday.

Association leaders have told airport officials that this year's rally, which took place in early February, put the group in the hole by about $20,000, and that was one reason for the interest in moving to Volusia County.

"Their membership has been in decline,'' McHugh said, noting that the organization's leadership is divided over what to do for next year's rally. Some want to change the location, while others think it would cost less to stay put.

McHugh said Hernando is trying to put together a package that would show the association the county doesn't take for granted its members and their economic impact on the community.

"We think they just need to feel a little love,'' McHugh said.

"They've been here for 15 years, and we want them another 15 more. These events are important to us.''

Barbara Behrendt can be reached at behrendt@tampabay.com or (352) 848-1434.

Hernando looking to show motor coach group "a little love" 03/01/13 [Last modified: Friday, March 1, 2013 7:39pm]

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