The 75-year-old Dad Vail Regatta hasn't always been held in Philadelphia, but since 1953, the Schuylkill has been its home, and that's where it belongs.
Unfortunately, next May the Dad Vail crews will be rowing their boats down the Navesink in North Jersey. That's where the tony town of Rumson outbid Philadelphia to host the races. Except the event wasn't actually put up for bids. Rumson instead waved $250,000 under the noses of the Dad Vail's organizers and they grabbed it. Philadelphia officials say they didn't hear about the deal until it was done.
The Dad Vail folks certainly had no reason to believe this city would come up with similar cash, given its five-year doubling of fees charged for police, fire, and other services during the event. But would it have hurt to ask?
Rumson Mayor John E. Ekdahl said his town pounced on the opportunity to sponsor the nation's largest college regatta, and expects big returns in what will be spent at local hotels, restaurants, and stores. Every dollar spent in the Monmouth County town will be a buck Philadelphia misses.
But the Rumson deal is only for next year, so Philadelphia can try to bring it back home. To do that, though, a 60 percent drop in corporate sponsorship that the regatta experienced for this year's race needs to be made up.
The recession has hit local companies hard, but, as the people in Rumson point out, investing in the Dad Vail Regatta brings economic returns that benefit businesses that support the event. Corporate citizens need to step up. And city officials need to reconsider what to charge the race for services.