Tricentennial Announces More New Year’s Eve Party Details

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The Spurs Coyote and Mayor Ron Nirenberg wear 300 glasses in honor of the Tricentennial.

Bonnie Arbittier / Rivard Report

The Spurs Coyote and Mayor Ron Nirenberg wear 300 glasses in honor of the Tricentennial.

It’s official. REO Speedwagon and Pat Benatar will headline San Antonio’s Tricentennial New Year’s Eve event at Hemisfair in 25 days, on Sunday, Dec. 31.

City and Tricentennial Commission officials announced the lineup of national, regional, and local acts that will take the stage, though it was already widely known, during a press conference Wednesday. They made it through the entire event without mentioning the recent leadership changes and contract mismanagement that has caused the effort to stumble, sending a message that organizers are instead focusing on the task ahead: a year-long celebration of San Antonio’s 300th anniversary.

(From left) Bexar Heritage & Parks Department Director Betty Bueché, Councilman Clayton Perry (D10), Councilman Cruz Shaw (D2), Casandra Matej, Visit San Antonio President and CEO, Carlos Contreras, Tricentennial Commission interim chief executive officer, Robert Thrailkill, Tricentennial Commission President, and San Antonio City Manager Sheryl Sculley listen to a Tricentennial announcement.

Bonnie Arbittier / Rivard Report

(From left) Bexar Heritage & Parks Department Director Betty Bueché; Councilman Clayton Perry (D10); Councilman Cruz Shaw (D2); Casandra Matej, Visit San Antonio president and CEO; Carlos Contreras, Tricentennial Commission interim chief executive officer; Robert Thrailkill, Tricentennial Commission President; and San Antonio City Manager Sheryl Sculley listen to a Tricentennial announcement.

“The Tricentennial is the most important moment in our lifetime to exhibit who we are and what our city will be in its next era,” Mayor Ron Nirenberg said in a statement. “The Tricentennial is moving forward and will be a success that the entire city will be proud of.”

Carlos Contreras, interim director and assistant city manager, told the Rivard Report that despite some criticism of the musical selection as being outdated – the headliners have “huge” followings of roughly 35- to 55-year-olds who will be able to bring their children.

“This event is family friendly,” Contreras said. “That’s exactly the target we want to be comfortable at the event.”

Regional and local talent will include The Last Bandoleros, Little Joe y la Familia, Bidi Bidi Banda (a Selena cover band), and Sam Riggs. Many in the audience Wednesday were puzzled at the decision to have Riggs play two sorrowful songs at the press conference, including “Second Hand Smoke” and “The Lucky Ones,” after the announcements.

Musician Sam Riggs performs at a Tricentennial announcement.

Bonnie Arbittier / Rivard Report

Musician Sam Riggs performs at a Tricentennial announcement.

During the New Year’s Eve celebration, an outdoor cinema, 80-foot Ferris wheel, artistic performances, games, and dozens of food and drink booths will spread out in and around Hemisfair including Yanaguana Garden and the “great lawn.” The latter is part of the planned but unfinished Civic Park. The evening will conclude with a 20-minute fireworks show.

Casandra Matej, Visit San Antonio President and CEO

Bonnie Arbittier / Rivard Report

Casandra Matej, Visit San Antonio President and CEO

Visit San Antonio will spend $3.5 million on marketing to spreading the Tricentennial word worldwide, Casandra Matej, its president and CEO, also announced Wednesday.

As the city-department-turned-nonprofit dedicated to promoting the city, Visit San Antonio has already begun promoting the year-long celebration, Matej said. “We’ve been infusing Tricentennial in everything.”

Those out-of-market advertising dollars are separate from the Tricentennial’s $21.7 million budget, Mataj said, but will give the effort an extra boost.

Visit San Antonio secured a float in the 2017 State Fair of Texas parade in Dallas.

Courtesy / Visit San Antonio

Visit San Antonio secured a float in the 2017 State Fair of Texas parade in Dallas.

The Tricentennial recently closed on a number of financial commitments from sponsors, Carlos Contreras, interim director and deputy city manager, told the Rivard Report. AARP recently gave $100,000, he said, and the Tricentennial is now 87 percent funded.

Edward Benavides stepped down as Tricentennial CEO in November after it was revealed that several contracts were mishandled by staff, including former chief operating officer Asia Ciaravino, who resigned in May. City Manager Sheryl Sculley then appointed Contreras, charging him with bringing the commission past the finish line amid an independent audit.

“The Tricentennial is not simply a party,” Mayor Ron Nirenberg told the crowd.

Mayor Ron Nirenberg makes an announcement regarding the Tricentennial at the Hilton Palacio del Rio.

Bonnie Arbittier / Rivard Report

Mayor Ron Nirenberg makes an announcement regarding the Tricentennial at the Hilton Palacio del Rio.

Hundreds of events will take place in 2018 to mark the year, he said, especially during Commemorative Week, May 1-6.

“We are looking forward to a wonderful year ahead focused on showcasing our city’s unique history, arts and culture, as well as its promising future,” the mayor said.

A more robust website detailing events during the Tricentennial is scheduled to be released mid-December.

7 thoughts on “Tricentennial Announces More New Year’s Eve Party Details

  1. 1) Tricentenial chairs sitting on “SECOND ROW”.
    2) Ridiculous red ribbon covering official sponsors logos such as Valero and Southern Glazer’s during the entire press conference.
    3)Ribbon cutting with commission chairs and officials with their backs to the camera – who does a ribbon cutting like that? please!
    4) Technical assistant crosses the stage completely – all while interim director is still talking at the podium- to install a chair to the left of the stage and to provide equipment to the singer, while the singer plugs his guitar himself.
    5) Interim director directs crowd to look up event details by themselves on the website – a website which is yet to be updated -website will be updated in mid – December . Was it not the point of the press conference to provide details to begin with?
    6) Keep adding outdated performers to the already boring musical list.

  2. CPS sponsor logo was also not visible during the press conference, the red ribbon was covering it. Shame that companies who are footing the bill for the celebration are not given the appropriate acknowledgement.

  3. Meanwhile, ethically-challenged Phil Lane and KSAT enjoy their secret, exclusive media contract which prevents other media in the city and state from covering and promoting the city’s Tricentennial. Two Tricentennial directors lost their job, yet KSAT still gets to walk away with the crooked contract that did not allow competition? This is outrageous and cannot stand. The infamous contract with KSAT remains proof of our city’s lack of culpability in a awarding an unfair, agregious, no-competition contract to a broadcast station that cheated.

    • While I agree that the KSAT contract was mishandled, but you seem to have a personal vendetta against Phil Lane. What’s your beef? To an outside observer, it looks like it goes beyond just civic concern for your city.

  4. Far out–complaints about blocked logos (Sam Riggs! He sat RIGHT in front of the logos!) are about as sad as the Express-News making fun of the name of an REO Speedwagon album that went double platinum before some of their ‘senior’ reporters were even born.

    I look at the New Orleans 2018 Tricentennial logo–and guess what, no logos whatsoever. I’m glad that the SA300 NYE concert has filled out with more headliners; for example, Sam Riggs is close to topping Texas charts this week with his latest album, and some of his videos have well over a million views on YouTube. I’m trying to think of country music played acoustically that doesn’t sound melancholy. Regardless, it can’t be said that Riggs isn’t a rising or currently a star in his own right. Good on him for plugging in and rolling with the event like a professional, which sounds better than what some San Antonians are doing.

    Improvements are happening to SA300 despite some fairly petty public sniping locally this week. And I wish San Antonio media would stop dissing the performers who ARE coming for the Tricentennial–which feeds into San Antonio’s nasty reputation for stiffing and abusing performers at all levels, which influences the acts that will come to SA and the realm of what’s possible for events like SA300, whatever the budget.

    For instance, I still think there’s a chance to highlight and celebrate with SA300 Pat Benatar’s work for women including veterans–as media outlets in other cities have already done (I thought we were Military City USA?) . Perhaps, even a performance with the Air Force Band of the West could be established, noting how they performed along with other acts at Hemisfair ’68? If our corporate sponsors are so awesome, they could also show it and further own SA300 by connecting with Benatar’s efforts and committing to saving SA’s historic Woman’s Pavilion in its 50th year. I can’t think of a better 2018 headline for San Antonio, SA300 and sponsors that would cost less than an estimated $7.2m all up. That’s a cheap price for history, city marketing and extraordinarily timely national relevance.

    Personally, I’m hoping that the surprise additions to the NYE concert suggest that more is in store for SA300, including at least a commitment from the Mayor and City Manager to saving the Woman’s Pavilion in 2018 if not completing the work this year. Likewise, I sure hope that folks at the City, County or Tricentennial Commission are reaching out to Alamo buff Phil Collins about a performance in San Antonio in 2018–noting that he will be performing in Monterrey and other parts of Mexico in early March, wrapping up in Puerto Rico later that month.

    It could be San Antonio’s year to shine, including by demonstrating a capacity to collaborate and rise above some of the practices that hold us back–from blighting by neglect Hemisfair ’68 national heritage structures to abusing performers to allowing sponsors to hog events to not having adequate VIA services to and from our airport. I’d love to see some more logos on VIA buses and at stops in 2018, including at the airport.

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