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A few don't share rosy papal business outlook

(ran NT,CT,LT,TP editions)

The common wisdom here is that business will generally flourish when hundreds of thousands converge on the city for International World Youth Day and the visit of Pope John Paul II in August.

Beneath that rosy outlook, however, are some real boom and bust possibilities for individual entrepreneurs, who stand to make or lose a lot. Some think they are being treated unfairly by the organizers.

Bill Clayton believes he's on the losing end of the Aug. 11-15 extravaganza. Clayton is the manager of two Coney Island hot dog stands at Cherry Creek State Park, site of two large gatherings, including the closing papal Mass Aug. 15. A vigil there the night before and the mass are expected to draw a total of half a million people. Potentially, a lot of hot dog sales.

But Clayton has been ordered by the Colorado State Parks Department to close his stand Aug. 13-15. The state says it is closing all concessions at the park _ including, for instance, the one for water sports _ and closing the park to the public because it does not want the worshipers to be distracted.

Clayton, who will be reimbursed by the Youth Day organization for what he would make on an average weekend, claims he is being forced to close his food concession to eliminate competition with the official concessionaire of the event.

Aspiring cabbies in Denver are definitely on the winning side. According to a report in the Rocky Mountain News, the Colorado Public Utilities Commission is allowing anyone who is insured and has a valid Colorado driver's license to get a temporary permit to charge to haul people around the city.

The permits will be valid only Aug. 9-16.

Applicants for the permits must show proof of liability insurance _ from $500,000 for passenger cars to $5-million for buses carrying 32 or more passengers.

The crush of hundreds of thousands needing to get around the city prompted the leniency of the state authorities. And the crush of crowds is also prompting a sober assessment by those same officials when asked who would oversee the temporary cabbies.

One state official admitted that the utilities commission, which normally regulates fares and checks driver records, will simply be unable to do it the week of the Youth Day event.

"During that week, it's going to have to be buyer beware."

It was artists and crafts people who said they had to be aware when they began negotiations with the "official" Youth Day merchandiser, FAME.

The firm, headed by local businessman John Lemke, demanded thousands in "up front" money from Denver area artists, according to several who eventually decided against signing up with the merchandiser.

"I would have had to give my house," said JJ White, who operates a T-shirt business with her husband. She said Lemke asked her for a $75,000 note.

The artists said they met several times with Lemke and each time he changed the amount he demanded up front.

"We had to pay a percentage to World Youth Day, a percentage to FAME, a percentage to the distribution center _ it just got to be too much," said Debra Champagnola, who is in partnership with five other people in Porcelain Creations.

Her company was asked for an $80,000 promissory note.

"It got so bad, there was none of the pie left for us," she said.

Others are taking a free-market approach.

Ray Gerken said he has always sold pope souvenirs in his store, and "Lemke can't tell me I can't sell a picture of the pope."

Actually, pictures of the pope aren't the problem. The pope's image is not copyrighted and anyone can reproduce and sell it. The problem is the youth day logo and words. Lemke has sole rights to them and and has to approve anyone who wants to use them.

Sister Mary Ann Walsh, spokeswoman for World Youth Day, said the organization "does not know about the world of business. That's why we hired a merchandiser."