Mulligan, the assistant city manager, says the event organizers pitched the idea to the city last November after having done extensive research on wave patterns up and down the East Coast.
“We discussed it with our city council, and everyone said, ‘Yes, this is a great idea and let’s go forward,’” Mulligan says. The city has updated its website with event information, addressing parking and traffic concerns, and plans to send out a detailed mailing to city residents explaining restrictions on certain blocks where the festival, the competition and the public safety staging area will occur.
Some residents, she says, questioned why there wasn’t a referendum first, but she notes there wasn’t a vote on whether the U.S. Open should come to Bethpage State Park. “That’s what you depend on your elected officials for.”
She says Quiksilver promised the city that it will cover costs of overtime incurred by police, fire, ambulance and sanitation workers, which by one estimate could run a quarter of a million dollars by the end of the two-week period. After the crowds have gone, the city will complete an economic study in October.
“The expense is not going to be borne by the residents,” says Nassau County Legis. Denise Ford (R-Long Beach). She says she’s bought herself a brand new three-speed pink Schwinn bicycle to get around town. “I’m set! I’m ready for this!”
She expects “an uptick” in sales tax revenue from the event, but wouldn’t speculate how much. Meanwhile, expectations are running high at the Long Beach Chamber of Commerce.
“I think the restaurants and the merchants will be the big winners in this,” says Michael Kerr, president of the chamber. “I believe the restaurants will be packed.”
Mark Tannenbaum, the chamber’s vice president, is hoping the event leaves everyone happy so the organizers will exercise their option to come back. A successful outcome, he says, “will open up the eyes of other organizations to look at Long Beach and bring events here.”
He thought the “slight inconvenience” of more traffic will be offset by the wave of business that will help the city’s merchants through the slower winter months. Already, he says, the chamber is getting reports that restaurants are keeping their staff levels full for those additional weeks in September, extending the summer season almost until the official start of fall. That’s gravy for a tourist town like Long Beach.
When the chamber held a meeting in June to introduce Quiksilver to its members, Tannenbaum said almost 200 people attended. “They said the same thing we said,” Tannenbaum tells the Press. “There’s going to be a lot of people coming into town with cash in their pockets and we don’t want them to leave with a lot of cash in their pockets. We want them to spend it in the town. That’s what it’s all about.”
Some local restaurants—like The Beach House Bar, the local surf bar—are positioning themselves as a destination for the tournament with a bikini contest, specials and live music throughout. Local surf shops are not only happy to see more patrons, but also are glad to see their local surf spots getting some international respect.
“It’s fantastic to see a company the caliber of Quiksilver believing in our area,” says Mike Nelson, co-owner of Unsound surf shop, which has hosted one of five LI surf contests for the past 13 years. “It’s kind of prestigious.”
But commercials for the event depicting wave-riding surfers transposed on Manhattan cityscapes belie an irony, considering the beach is about a mile east of the New York City line.
“I’m jealous, I wish they had things like this by me in Queens,” says Steve St. Louis, a 25-year-old doorman at Avalon Towers, which overlooks the festival site. “New York has good things, but not like this,” says the Flushing resident, showing a rare case of a city resident being jealous of LI’s entertainment while promoters gloss over the event’s suburban location.