The annual 4/20 rally in Denver's Civic Center Park seems to get bigger every year.
And now the longtime organizers of the event, including Miguel Lopez and attorney Rob Corry, are looking for help putting it on.
The group has issued an open invitation for proposals in regard to the 2016 edition. The letter with the details, on view below, sets a deadline for submissions of noon on Wednesday, February 10.
Why make this move?
"We want to enhance the professionalism of it," Corry says. "It is true the event has grown over the years and continues to grow. It seems to be the largest 4/20 event in the world that I'm aware of, and I think this is a great opportunity. Competition brings out the best in all of us, and we wanted to do a fairly open, competitive bidding process that would let us hopefully pick the best entity or people to help us run a better event in the years to come."
The letter begins like so:
The Non-Profit Organization known as Annual Denver 420 Rally, FEIN 26-2210557 (hereinafter “420 Rally NPO”), Semiautomatic Productions, LLC, a Colorado Limited Liability Company (hereinafter “Semiautomatic Productions”), proudly announce that they are accepting bids to sponsor and produce the premier 420 Rally on the Earth, which has an unparalleled history as a cultural and entertainment American institution. Last year, at the 2015 event, media estimates were that 100,000 people attended. As a first for 2016 event, there will be a ticket option for 7,200 priority tickets and 300 VIP tickets at the front of the Main Stage area. It is expected that these could be sold for $100-$200 for each day of the three-day event. Retail or food booths are sold at $2,500-$3,500 for the weekend, and over 100 will be available. Banner advertising is also sold at amounts ranging from $1,000-$50,000. Website and Rally Program Guide advertising is also available. It is hoped that bidders will be creative and articulate their special visions for the event.
The invite gets specific about proposal requirements in this section:
Bids shall specify desired percentage of ticket sales, booth rental, banner space, concessions, souvenirs, advertising space, media, and other revenue sources. Bids shall include a commitment to pay and/or have access to:
• A sponsorship fee and Master of Ceremonies Fee to 420 Rally NPO and shall specify the amount;
• Approximately $50,000.00 immediately to the City and County of Denver to satisfy outstanding invoices from the 2015 Rally;
• A legal representation engagement retainer to Law Office of Corry & Associates in the amount of $15,000.00;
• A minimum talent deposit of $200,000.00 to be held in escrow by bid winner
• A production advance suggested minimum of $100,000.00 for production costs including but not limited to employees, salaries, fencing, portable restrooms, staging, insurance, security, cleanup, waste disposal, maintenance, golf carts, radios, marketing, and so forth.
Back in 2013, a shooting at the rally highlighted the challenges that come with the event, and Corry emphasizes that safety will remain of paramount concern as the process moves forward.
"We certainly comply with all demands of the City and County of Denver for security," he points out. "That doesn't come cheap, but we want a safe, enjoyable event for everyone. Security costs money, but it's money we want to spend."
Corry notes that "we've targeted some of the local promotion companies that do this. But we wanted to cast as wide a net as possible, and we're not just focused on locals; there may be good ideas from outside Colorado as well. We're definitely not excluding anyone."
Since the letter first went out earlier this week, Corry says, "we've already been getting some interest. Questions about what we're looking for in a proposal: an in-person dog-and-pony show, videos, written proposals. We're open to all different formats."
As for the structure of the event itself, he's flexible about that, too. But it's important for it to include a topical component, Corry believes.
"We've always had a political angle, and the drug war and the war on marijuana still continues," he allows. "It's not fully legal in Colorado, and we're not treating it like alcohol. So more political work still needs to be done."
Thus far, Corry reveals, no one has balked at the cannabis-centric nature of the event: "I haven't heard any negativity — but it's not for everybody. As you well know, we've got a pretty well-developed, regulated industry, and a lot of families and jobs depend on it. So I think it should be of interest to most everyone who does concert promotion and things like that.
"Let's face it: Marijuana has always been used at most concerts, well before we had this regulated system. Music and marijuana have always gone together, and they always will."
Of course, public use of marijuana is still against the law in Denver, which complicates the event. Corry dreams of a day when the 4/20 rally will have the equivalent of "the beer gardens at Taste of Colorado and the People's Fair — places where people can consume alcohol at Civic Center. I doubt we'll get that this year, but we'll keep working, keep moving ahead."
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Here's the aforementioned letter.