has been 10-year voyage for organizers
WILLIAMSBURG, Jul. 30, 2006 (Knight Ridder/Tribune
Business News delivered by Newstex) --
Exactly 10 months before the 1907 Jamestown Exposition,
organizers were still trying to secure money and build
A century has passed, and so much has changed. Yet with
about 10 months to go before the Jamestown 2007 main event
-- Anniversary Weekend from May 11 to 13 -- the 400-year
observance seems to be traveling a similar path.
"We did have somewhat of a struggle through financial
projections," said John H. Hager, a former Virginia
lieutenant governor who was closely involved with Jamestown
2007 planning before his current job as an assistant
secretary in the U.S. Department of Education. "Things have
definitely picked up now."
Jamestown 2007 has seen a number of changes in the 10 years
it has taken to get this far. Key members of the management
team have come and gone, fundraising projections have been
reduced and plans could be scaled back in ways the public
may not realize.
The commemoration comprises 18 months worth of activities,
including several professionally produced special
productions, called "signature events." These ventures
include a three-month East Coast promotional sail of the
Godspeed, a replica of one of the ships that docked in
Virginia in 1607; a national education program expected to
be broadcast to students across the nation; and events
highlighting the accomplishments and contributions of
Africans, African Americans and American Indians during the
past 400 years.
Jamestown 2007, which carries a price tag of about $30
million, has three main goals: education, increased Virginia
tourism and new economic development across the state. Its
success may not be fully assessed for months or years after
its scheduled end late next year.
"You've got to realize, we've never done this like this,"
said Alisa Bailey, president of the Virginia Tourism Corp.
"You don't have that many 400th birthdays. In fact, you only
Every 50 years since 1807, the 1607 founding of Jamestown
has been observed. The 250th anniversary in 1857 was
highlighted by a lengthy oration by former President John
Tyler. Norfolk hosted the Jamestown Exposition in 1907 at
the site of what is now the Norfolk Naval Station,
attracting such notables as then President Theodore
Roosevelt, Mark Twain and Booker T. Washington. The 350th
anniversary in 1957 culminated with Queen Elizabeth II's
first visit to the United States as monarch. That event
attracted nearly 1.2 million visitors.
Bailey said there is no way to estimate the number of people
who will attend the activities associated with the 400th
commemoration, although people have tried.
Earlier this year, some organizers of Jamestown 2007
estimated that more than 2 million people would participate
in the different events although that projection is a rough
guess that seldom has been mentioned since. Organizers
received a boost earlier this month when it was announced
that there would be weekly charter flights between Norfolk
and Kent, England from May through October of 2007.
"You can't predict a number in a scenario like this," Bailey
said. "I'm very optimistic that there will be an increase in
tourism, I just can't say how many. I don't think anybody
Jamestown 2007 planning has survived three gubernatorial
elections and a number of changes in upper management that
has affected fund raising operations.
In November 1997, Norman G. Beatty became the sole hire and
first director of what was then called the
Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation's Celebration 2007. Beatty, a
former vice president at Colonial Williamsburg and leader of
the Williamsburg Land Conservancy, served in different
positions while planning the commemoration before he died in
In January 2003, William W. Cone was named chief operating
officer. According to an on line biography, Cone played a
major role in the development of several large projects with
national and international appeal, including Hands Across
America for Coca-Cola, a salute to the bicentennial of the
U.S. Constitution for Xerox (NYSE:XRX) and Nabisco, Kodak's
(NYSE:EK) 100th anniversary of the snapshot, General Motors
(NYSE:GM) 75th anniversary, The Stratford Theatre Festival
of Canada and an international papal event.
Cone was hired with the hope that his name would help bring
major sponsors to the event. Six months later, Victor W.
Clough was named the director of partnerships and
sponsorships for Jamestown 2007.
Both Cone and Clough are no longer at Jamestown 2007. They
declined to discuss their work with the organization.
Planning under Cone and Clough was ambitious. In November
2003, Clough was quoted as saying there were about 90
companies that Jamestown 2007 wanted to talk to about
sponsorships, particularly making them "founding colony"
Media reports indicated that the organization sought 13
corporate sponsors to contribute $3 million each as "colony"
sponsors, but that level of financing has never
"To be candid, that was a marketing gimmick," said Ross
Richardson, director of marketing communications for
Jamestown 2007 of the number of sponsors sought.
"They chose a nice number and set the bar very high,"
Richardson said, referring to the $3 million figure. "The
budget doesn't anticipate having 13 founding colony sponsors
at that level."
Over time, the publicized cost of the entire commemoration
has gone from as much as $42 million to as low as $20
The current estimated cost has settled to about $30 million,
with about $28 million collected so far. More than $10
million has been spent, mostly for planning, daily
operations and some initial events.
Of the $28 million collected in the past eight years, more
than $18 million has come from state fees and taxes with an
additional $10 million raised privately, principally from
three lead sponsors, THEY ARE:
--Norfolk-based Norfolk Southern Corp. (NYSE:NSC) , which
contributed $3 million in July 2004.
--Colonial Williamsburg, which committed $3 million in
January 2005. Of that contribution, $1 million amounted to
in-kind services. That portion includes Jamestown 2007
Executive Director Jeanne Zeidler's $115,000 salary and
$67,000 in annual rent for the two buildings that Jamestown
2007 uses in Williamsburg. Also included are hotel rooms for
certain guests of Jamestown 2007 and other hospitality and
business costs, Zeidler said.
--Verizon Communications Inc., which in May agreed to give
$2.5 million to Jamestown 2007. Of that, $600,000 is coming
in the form of marketing directed at the telecom company's
employees and customers. Harry Mitchell, Verizon director of
media relations, said the marketing efforts could include
promotions such as messages in bills of Verizon customers
and banners on its Web site.
In addition to these major contributors, Philip Morris USA
and James City County each donated $500,000 and, TowneBank,
based in Portsmouth, gave $250,000.
"We wish there were more sponsors, but on the whole this is
a good investment for us," said Frank Brown, a spokesman for
"We don't sponsor many high-profile events, but when we do
we expect them to be high quality. We also expect them to be
relevant to the participants and the audience. America's
400th birthday is highly relevant, and it is great in the
respect that it doesn't come around often."
Historic commemorations have not always proven to be
The Aviation World's Fair of 2003 was to be held in Newport
News as a trade show and to commemorate the 100th
anniversary of the first manned flight. Advance ticket sales
lagged significantly, and the state eventually pulled its
"Event planners had been unable to reach minimum goals for
advance ticket sales, unable to sign any major sponsors for
the event and unable to generate significant exhibitor
revenues," read a 2002 statement from then Virginia
Transportation Secretary Whitt Clement. "These factors led
the state and the city to conclude that the further use of
public funds and debt service is no longer appropriate."
Four years ago, President Bush issued a proclamation
creating a Lewis and Clark Bicentennial Celebration to
celebrate the journey of Meriwether Lewis and William Clark
from St. Charles, Mo., to the state of Washington. The Wall
Street Journal recently reported many of the planned events
haven't attracted the expected turnout.
The state of Washington expected a turnout of 10 million for
events, but less than a tenth showed. A similar problem
occurred during a 10-day festival in St. Charles.
The most dramatic disappointment might have been in Great
Falls, Mont., where the city ended up $535,000 in debt and
ticket sales didn't cover the $1.6 million cost to stage
various events, the paper said.
Jamestown 2007 planners are looking for a strong finish that
will complement the 10 years of planning.
"This is a very intense period, and we need to maintain the
quality of everything that has been done," Zeidler said.
She and Richardson noted that if need be, some events could
be scaled back to save expenses but not cut out.
"The scalability is really in areas the public won't
notice," Richardson said. "For instance, deciding to go from
six stages to four stages isn't something the public would
necessarily know had changed.
"When it comes time to decide if we need four or six stages,
we'll look at the budget and see where we are and then
The tourism angle already is proving to be successful, said
Sandy Rives, 2007 project director for the National Park
"We've already seen 5,500 people take our bus from Colonial
Williamsburg to Historic Jamestowne in June," he said.
"That's compared to 200 or 300 last June, so that's
definitely an increase."
Clement thinks an event as big as the 400th Jamestown
commemoration can be financially successful as long as there
is sustained public interest, state support and a visible
return on investments.
"We didn't see a return on the investment," Clement, now a
lawyer in Richmond, said earlier this month referring to the
aborted 2003 aviation celebration.
"With Jamestown 2007, on the other hand, there is ample
evidence that there will be a significant return on the
dollar, and not just in 2007, but beyond."