After Tough Mudder Inc. appeared to waffle a few weeks ago on its promise to host a pre-event promotional party before this weekend’s military-style obstacle course near Milton, the New York company has now agreed to pay for some appetizer’s at Juana’s Pagoda on Friday night.
“We reached out to Tough Mudder and encouraged them to host an event pre-party that had free appetizers and provided discounts on beverages etc. to the guests,” said Santa Rosa County Tourism Director Julie Morgan on Tuesday.
Juana’s Pagoda operator Kevin Rudzki said the company has agreed to buy appetizers for up to 50 Tough Mudder participants and spectators at a party scheduled from 5 to 9 p.m. on Friday night. But the company isn’t contributing toward beverages or other food, he said.
The intent of the party, which is mentioned in the county’s contract with Tough Mudder, is to market Santa Rosa County beaches and other tourist attractions to event participants who visit from out of this area.
After promising in a meeting with county officials last fall to host the party, Tough Mudder didn’t mention it in a draft of the contract, which the company wrote. But Morgan noticed the omission and had the event inserted in the deal’s final version.
County Commission voted to give $80,000 in tourist tax money to Tough Mudder as an incentive to hold its for-profit event here for the second straight year. The county has also applied for a $12,000 grant for Tough Mudder from the Florida Sports Foundation.
No proceeds from Tough Mudder ticket sales go to Santa Rosa County or the City of Milton. None of Tough Mudder’s proceeds to charity either, but the company encourages participants to support the Wounded Warrior Project, among other causes.
Although Milton is hosting a concert on Saturday night aimed at welcoming Tough Mudder guests, the company isn’t involved.
“The city wanted to do something for Tough Mudder visitors,” said Bill Gamblin, facilities coordinator for Milton.
He said the concert from 7 to 9 p.m. on Saturday, will be feature a Louisiana band, Voodoo Gumbo, which specializes in both rock and Cajun music. The free event will be held in downtown Milton near the Veterans Memorial Plaza.
Better economic impact study coming
Separately, after questions from area leisure industry leaders about the accuracy of an economic impact study that the county paid for last year, the University of West Florida’s Haas Center for Business Research and Economic Development has a contract with Tough Mudder to complete a new survey on the 2016 event by next July. Tough Mudder has agreed to pay $4,000 for this year’s study, and researchers at Haas are planning methods to produce more accurate results.
Last year the study was done by a San Diego State University sports business professor who relied on information supplied by the company.
But this year’s study will be more under the control of the Haas Center researchers, who will prepare the survey and try to contact Tough Mudder participants and visitors through email addresses gathered at the event check-in.
The two-day event is being held at the Ates Ranch near Milton on Saturday and Sunday.
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