FERNDALE – The city that has hosted Motor City Pride for the past seven years is feeling a loss after Pride organizers announced the 2011 celebration will take place in Detroit’s Hart Plaza.
Pride brings $1 million into the Ferndale economy each year. The event has always been well-attended, and the location seems fitting with the visible presence of gay-owned businesses and Affirmations Community Center. However, much of the Pride committee’s decision seems economically-based.
Ferndale Downtown Development Authority Board President Veronica Lujic said that organizers from the festival wanted financial incentives to stay. “Detroit offered them $15,000 to move down there,” she said. “How can we compete with that?” Ferndale has publically scaled back financial support of the event for the past two years.
Ferndale gave an estimated cost of $14,733.52 for fees for 2010, which was the first year that Ferndale did not become a sponsor of the event, and chose not to waive any of the fees.
In 2009 Ferndale approved Pride’s event permit, but changed the lot rental from $1 to $500. The city council voted to sponsor the event for $5,000.
County Commissioner Craig Covey, a former Ferndale mayor and one of the organizers of the Pride marches of the 1980s that grew into the celebration of today, was critical of Ferndale’s lack of support. “Ferndale did get carried away in charging too much for the costs associated with the festival. In raising fees to more than $11,000 for the festival organizers, I believe we were a bit penny wise and pound foolish. The event brings a million dollars to our downtown, and the city should not have nickeled and dimed Motor City Pride,” Covey said.
“They want to return to the roots of where the Pride events started in the parades of 1986-1989 in downtown Detroit, which I started and ran. But they should remember that we never grew beyond about 5,000 people. I believe that the event may very well shrink this year when they move to Hart plaza.”
Covey said he’d be happy to work with the Pride committee again if it wanted to bring the celebration back to Ferndale in the future.