Port Agrees to Fund 2013 Sandcastle Competition

2011 U.S. Open Sandcastle Competition

The Port of San Diego has agreed to contribute $40,000 into a 2013 sandcastle competition in Imperial Beach, officials announced Tuesday.

An informal request for proposals was sent Feb. 1 to two firms that may be interested in organizing a competition after Labor Day, the Port of San Diego’s Jim Hutzelman said.

The two firms that have been asked to submit proposals are San Diego PR, which previously recommended a competition return with the revival of the Sun & Sea Festival, and another event planning firm that organized the U.S. Sand Sculpting Challenge on the Embarcadero Pier last summer.

San Diego PR, formerly J Simms Advertising Agency, coordinated public relations for the U.S. Open Sandcastle Competition.

The U.S. Open Sandcastle Competition was the largest event of its kind in the world, attracting an estimated 400,000 people or more. After more than 30 years, the event’s organizing committee disbanded in 2011.

“We’re really hoping to make something work down there, and as the next few months go by, we should be able to put a finer point on what the event looks like,” Hutzelman said. “One thing we want to make sure of though is that we mov pretty quickly cause attempting to secure sponsorship can take a long time.”

Proposals must be submitted by March 1.

Requests for proposals may be publicly advertised or extended to additional firms in the future, Hutzelman said.

“Because it’s a relatively low-value contract we did more of an informal project proposal process,” Hutzelman said. “We’re in the very early stages to see if the event is feasible or not.”

Among unanswered financial questions: the event planner the Port hires must secure sponsors, a contract for security with the sheriff’s department and $3 million in liability insurance.

The event planner will also need to reimburse the city for municipal services.

Meetings have been held with the City of Imperial Beach and will continue to determine what services will be neeeded for a sandcastle competition.

Making the competition a paid event is still being considered, he said. A proposal to organize the event previously prepared by San Diego PR recommended blocking access to the beach in some areas and charging an admission fee.

“We’re really not sure at this point. A number of things would have to be balanced in terms of what the budget is, sources of revenue that could be developed, primarily sponsorships, and then to see whether that works or not,” Hutzelman said.

Public input as to whether or not people would be willing to pay or not would also have to be considered.

Funding from the Port would start at $40,000 in the first year, $30,000 the next year and $20,000 the following year, the proposal stated.

The event planner will be asked to also make the competition a celebration of the Port of San Diego’s 50th anniversary, the proposal stated.

The event planner will also be asked to:

  • attract at least 10,000 people
  • incorporate a children’s competition like the Kids N’ Kastles Competition
  • use few vendors
  • generate traffic for local businesses
  • incorporate community participation
  • hold the event in Pier Plaza