Is the Dad Vail Regatta making a U-turn in midstream?
Officials with the nation's largest intercollegiate rowing competition - facing new questions about its planned move from the Schuylkill to Rumson, N.J., next spring - are now planning to meet Mayor Nutter and U.S. Rep. Bob Brady tomorrow to talk about keeping the popular event in Philadelphia in 2010 after all.
The mayoral sit-down was arranged last night during an emergency meeting of the Dad Vail Regatta Organizing Committee - the same group that stunned city officials earlier this fall with the announcement that the rowing classic would move to the Monmouth County town for the May 2010 event.
A source close to the regatta said that moving the race to Rumson was a larger logistical challenge than had been thought and that Brady and Nutter's recent involvement had demonstrated that the city was dedicated to keeping it here.
Nutter said he had participated in the call with Brady and regatta president Jim Hanna. "We expect to have a follow-up meeting in the next few days," Nutter said.
"We want the Dad Vail to be in Philadelphia," he said. "It's the best place for it to be, historically it's been here, and we're hoping it will be here in 2010, 2011 and the next 50 years."
The flurry of meetings - and the possibility that the race could still be held on the Schuylkill, where the May time slot is still reserved by the regatta - comes amid reports that the financial advantages of moving to the tony North Jersey suburb may not be as great as initially thought.
The regatta had been prepared to move if the town of Rumson could help raise $250,000 to replenish the organization's cash reserves. A hundred thousand dollars was contributed in a loan by Michael Gooch, a local newspaper owner. The last $150,000 was to be paid in three installments over the summer.
However, a letter sent last week from Rumson officials to regatta organizers stated: "The Borough of Rumson and the Rumson Dad Vail Committee are not guaranteeing the Dad Vail Committee any minimum from the event or from the fundraising that will take place for the event."
"At this time, there is only one city that has approved a Dad Vail Regatta for 2010, only one city prepared to commit public resources to the Dad Vail, and one city ready to welcome its 30,000 spectators; and that city is Philadelphia," Brady said in a statement.