While most of the debate may be in Washington, the effects of the Mar. 1 federal budget sequester are beginning to take hold locally. Cleveland city officials recently announced that this year’s Cleveland National Air Show is cancelled.
Although the air show is not funded directly by the federal government, the military provides most of the planes for the event. The sequester has halted aerial and jump performances at civilian shows and military open houses. When air show coordinators were told that they would not be able to use the popular Air Force Thunderbirds or the Army’s Golden Knights this year, they decided to cancel the show.
“This is a very regrettable but rational step,” Chuck Newcomb, executive director of the Cleveland Air Show since 1975, said in an interview with The Plain Dealer.
This is the first year that the show hasn’t been held since 1964. The show is a great economic success for Cleveland annually. On average, the event draws between 60,000 and 100,000 guests, generating $7.1 million alone in revenue for the city, not to mention additional profits for local restaurants, hotels, and other attractions. Without the use of the military jets, officials estimate that attendance for the show would drop up to 25 percent.
According to Kim Dell, the airshow’s spokesperson, even if a budget deal were to be reached before Labor Day weekend, it would be unlikely that the show would be held this year. However, Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald says that he is looking for a way to fund the show locally to make sure that the event does not disappear.
“We are going to explore all of our options,” he noted in an interview with Fox Cleveland.
Representatives from the Cleveland National Air Show Board of Executives say that the 2014 Air Show, featuring the U.S. Navy Blue Angels, is still scheduled to go on as planned, tentatively scheduled Aug. 30 and Sept. 1, 2014.