Friday, July 16, 2010

B2B at 100: AEG Manager Says 2011 Last Year to Get It Right; Announces Major Marketing Campaigns

AEG race director George Ridgely and B2B manager Angela Fang at NOPNA meeting

B2B at 100: An ongoing series about neighborhood efforts to reclaim Bay to Breakers as a foot race and party that San Franciscans can support and celebrate for all the edgy, quirky, and zany things it has represented for most of its 99 year history.

AEG fully intends to make the 2011 Bay to Breakers footrace a successful celebration for everyone involved, but if this year's disruptive after-party on neighborhood streets repeats itself, there may be no 2012 race. Angela Fang, general manager of the Bay to Breakers for corporate giant AEG, expects next year's centennial race to be a safer, less troubled event, but if it's not, she expects AEG to abandon the race in the future. "If we have another bad year next year, I think AEG will close it down," Fang told members of the North of the Panhandle Neighborhood Association (NOPNA) Thursday night. AEG has already begun its outreach to city departments and neighborhood associations, and the NOPNA meeting was one of its first stops. (In a message Fang sent today, she emphasized AEG's plans for 2011, "Our intentions are to work with the city and the neighborhoods and help to provide the resources necessary to bring this event back to it's original roots.")

Fang also announced plans for two major marketing efforts to promote the race and curtail the mayhem of the alcohol-fueled street parties. One campaign will focus on everything good about the city's iconic footrace across town, including its historical background and zany fun. The other will emphasize new restrictions on the event: no open containers of alcohol, no public intoxication, a limit on participants in the race, no floats, and a specific time for ending the race (and opening the streets to traffic).

Fang addressed the major concerns of neighbors voiced at a May meeting of NOPNA.
  • AEG will pay for more police officers on the course, including adjacent neighborhood blocks
  • Registration will likely be capped at 50,000 participants
  • The number of porta-potties will be doubled and will be placed on NOPA and Alamo Square streets as well as in the Panhandle and on the course
  • AEG won't allow floats and that will help meet their goal of opening the streets by noon. Fang noted that 96% of registrants in the race reach the top of the Hayes street hill by 10:30 a.m., allowing for closing the race by noon
  • AEG will have its own clean-up crews in addition to paying the Department of Public Works to clear the area of trash which this year totaled 47 tons
Fang acknowledged that in previous years "the message has been unclear." She intends to correct that for 2011. "We'll take our message to the major media, including SFWeekly and the Bay Guardian. We'll inform colleges and we'll use Facebook."

George Ridgely, race director for B2B, reminded NOPNA members that the race was a remarkable event. "It's one of the top ten races in the country, and one of the oldest foot races in the world." He commented that the serious racers "have a great time in the race and experience none of the problems. We want everyone to have that experience."

As reported earlier this week, NOPNA participated in the first meeting of stakeholders concerned about the future of Bay to Breakers. Jarie Bolander, NOPNA's president, reported Thursday night that everyone agreed at that gathering that the race itself was the responsibility of AEG. "Who is responsible for the accompanying street party was not so clear, at least no one has been ready to step forward and assume that role." No decisions were reached among the group, and another gathering is expected in six to eight weeks. The Mayor's Office of Neighborhood Services convened the meeting of neighborhood associations, merchants groups, and B2B preservation alliances. No public officials or city department heads attended.

See previous artilces in the B2B at 100 series here.

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