The Dad Vail Regatta's move next year to North Jersey - seemingly a done deal when Rumson Borough approved the matter last week - may not be a done deal after all.
In the latest developments surrounding the relocation of the Philadelphia tradition, U.S. Rep. Bob Brady has weighed in, asking Mayor Nutter to reserve the May race date for next year. And some members of the Dad Vail Organizing Committee met last night at the Pennsylvania Barge Club on Boathouse Row to discuss the deal with Rumson.
Yesterday, Brady's office issued a statement with a headline that read in part: "Move to Rumson not a done deal."
The statement said Brady asked the mayor yesterday to grant the Dad Vail Organizing Committee's request to hold open the 2010 Dad Vail dates.
Last week, the Rumson Borough Council agreed to bring the Dad Vail to its town but did so with a number of stipulations, namely that $250,000 in private donations it had promised was not guaranteed and that race organizers agreed to cover any costs incurred by the town as a result of the regatta, which is expected to bring about 12,000 visitors to the upscale coastal community.
In an interview following last week's meeting, Dad Vail Chairman Jack Galloway described the conditions as routine.
Brady focused on those stipulations in his statement.
Noting that it was the $250,000 that drew the cash-strapped race to the affluent town 50 miles from New York City in the first place, the Democratic power broker asserted that Philadelphia was "the one city prepared to commit public resources to the Dad Vail" and "ready to welcome its 30,000 spectators."
The prestigious race, which has been held in Philadelphia for 56 years, draws about 3,000 collegiate rowers from around the country.
In an interview yesterday morning, Galloway said the organizers had no intention of pulling out of the deal.
He acknowledged that there had been some concern among committee members about the logistics of getting crew teams and their equipment into Rumson, but they were not enough to overturn the planned move.
"This was evaluated a long time ago. The regatta will be in Rumson," said Galloway, who did not attend last night's board meeting.
Members of the organizing committee met for nearly three hours last night. They declined to comment as they left the Boathouse Row.
Dad Vail organizers said they began considering a move out of Philadelphia as sponsorship dropped in the economic downturn, making the cost of running the race on the Schuylkill, which included $70,000 for police and other city services, prohibitive.
Race organizers have already received a $100,000 down payment from Michael Gooch, a Rumson resident and CEO of an international brokerage-services group. Gooch is expected to receive a portion of that money back once other sponsors are signed on, Rumson officials have said.
Members of the race committee visited Rumson last weekend to assess the town's facilities and the availability of access to the Navesink River, where the race is scheduled to be run, Rumson Mayor John Ekdahl said.
"We have five private boat clubs here, and they have volunteered their space and access to the water," Ekdahl said. "I think we needed 500 storage spaces with easy access to the river, and we hit that number."
Ekdahl, a stockbroker, said he remained confident the town could bring in the $250,000 in private donations it had pledged.
"To me, it's a formality at this point," Ekdahl said.