Elgin's Nightmare makes $20,000, first profit ever
Elgin's signature event, Nightmare on Chicago Street, was profitable for the first time, largely because of a record 18,500 people who went and faced long lines and wait times at the gates.
The event Oct. 21 netted $20,690 in profits after six years of steady losses, according to records obtained by the Daily Herald. The highest loss was about $45,000 in 2013. The city had anticipated a $5,000 loss in 2017.
The city is working to ensure the October event goes smoothly, said Barb Keselica, special events and community engagement manager. There will be an additional entrance, spots to buy tickets before people get in line to enter, and more security personnel to scan people with metal-detecting wands, she said. The city will request proposals from contractors who manage large events to see if that's a viable option, she said.
Last year's influx of people into downtown for Nightmare is comparable to the capacity of the Allstate Arena, Assistant City Manager Aaron Cosentino pointed out.
"The improvements will be something that we will clearly communicate prior to the event to ensure patrons know it will be a smoother entrance experience," he said.
The unseasonably warm weather brought in huge crowds at the 6 p.m. start when the city's payment processing system through the company Fonteva started "having issues," Assistant Manager Laura Valdez said. The problems weren't directly caused by the large influx of payments, but the timing was unfortunate, she said.
"For Nightmare this year, we are going to use tested systems that we know will work smoothly. The city has successfully used Eventbrite in the past for many events, including last year as our backup system for Nightmare," Cosentino said.
Nightmare brought in $268,008 in revenue, including $234,061 from admissions, $28,334 from alcohol vendors -- who pay a booth fee and a 3 percent sales tax -- $4,700 from sponsors, and $931 from merchandise and ATM fees, according to information submitted by the city. The city is still waiting for alcohol tax revenues from one of the four vendors, so the final figure will be higher, Keselica said.
Expenses totaled $247,318, including $95,136 in city labor costs, $62,014 for staging costs, $33,880 for entertainment, $24,735 for decorations, $13,840 for publicity, and $17,712 for miscellaneous expenses including weather insurance.