Backlash hits B & S ball
THE future of the only B & S ball being held in Australia on New Year's Eve, and a major economic boon for Rockhampton, is in doubt.
Organisers of this year's 18th Rocky New Year's Ball are facing a backlash from patrons over ticket changes which, combined with rising overheads, may ultimately spell death for the popular event.
Yesterday ball program manager Gary Stickley said a crowd of less than 2400 would mean a loss ? something which would be extremely hard to recover from.
It would also cast a cloud over the event's future, he said. Last year more than 2000 revellers flocked to the ball, including a large interstate and overseas contingent.
However this year, fears that punters will snub the event because of changes to the ball's drinks system have emerged.
The changes have been forced by new liquor laws which provide for the responsible service of alcohol.
Gone are the days of unlimited drinks.
But by law, organisers are prohibited from advertising exactly what drinks you get for your money.
Under the new system, a basic $70 ticket would get you three cans of spirits or beer.
A $90 value ticket would entitle you to 12 drinks, while a $120 VIP ticket would allow you the same but with access to the VIP lounge.
Those who consumed their allocated drinks would have the option of buying more.
Rockhampton's Peta Reynolds, a ball-goer for the past three years, said she and her friends would not be going this year.
"It's not value. That's why you go, to get more (drinks) than you'd normally get,'' she said.
While ticket sales had been average, Mr Stickley said the negative vibe had been noticed.
"We're a bit scared it's going to set in and we're not going to get that traditional last-minute rush (for tickets),'' he said.
"People are reacting to the limit.''
Organisers are spending more on entertainment this year ? close to $57,000 on bands and stage production costs alone.
Six party bands will occupy four party zones.
Mr Stickley said the aim was to "break even''.
"If we can survive this year, the event will be fine.
"People should be better educated then and think this is good value.''
The New Year's Ball is part of four days of traditional planned activities.