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U.S. Open proposal eliminates music, public skateboard bowl

Event organizer says security staffing will likely stay the same even if attendance is smaller.

October 11, 2013|By Anthony Clark Carpio
  • A rendering of the layout for the 2013 U.S. Open of Surfing in Huntington Beach.
A rendering of the layout for the 2013 U.S. Open of Surfing… (IMG )

A proposed plan presented to the Downtown Task Force for next year's U.S. Open of Surfing in Huntington Beach scales down the event considerably, but safety is still a concern among committee members.

Next year's event would be more "sport-focused," according to James Leitz, IMG Action Sports vice president and executive producer of the event. The new plan calls for omitting the live music stage, village area, free giveaways and public skateboard bowl.

Instead, Leitz proposed to have a high-end surf stadium viewing area, a skateboarding bowl only open to professionals in the competition, a retail area and eight booths for major sponsors. He estimates that the footprint has been reduced to about 8 acres from 14 acres.

"I'm really happy that you formed a task force to help large events, like the U. S. Open of Surfing, find a way to exist and coexist with the residents and the businesses here in Huntington Beach, especially the downtown area," Leitz said. "This is an event that I'm very proud of. It's one of a kind, unique, across the globe. But let's be honest, it's gotten too big and we gotta find a way to fix that."

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The producer's goal with the revamped plan is to bring the event back to its surfing roots and eliminate the factors that contributed to rioting after the event ended this year. Other problems included sand kicked up in the air because of too many people, underage drinking, public indecency and fighting.

Leitz said he's looking to increase the number of police officers and security personnel on the beach and in the neighborhoods to crack down on any mischief that may pop up.

As part of ensuring safety and control on the beachfront, Leitz said that he also wants to keep an eye on "guerrilla marketing" done by other businesses.

"We can keep control of the beach, but when all of the other brands and everybody else wants to do what they got to do up in town, we need to expand our permit and work with city staff on that," he said.

To make the event more family and community friendly, Leitz is proposing to continue the movie nights at Pier Plaza and discounts on merchandise for locals.

The 2014 Open is scheduled for July 26 to Aug. 3.

A few of the board members questioned the logistics of next year's event.

Task force member Moe Kanoudi asked if there was any consideration to move the Open later in the year, when waves are bigger and attendance is smaller in the fall.

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