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Supercrawl dreams of national exposure

By Kevin Werner • Metroland West Media Group

Supercrawl is looking to get super big.

Tim Potocic, one of the co-organizers of the free, downtown event, says the dream is to have a $1-million budget to make the spectacle “more spectacular.”

“We want to get on the national radar,” said Potocic. “I want Hamilton to have the best event in Canada.”

Supercrawl, an arts and community event in September, already attracts about 105,000 people from across the city and beyond its borders, and had an $8.8-million economic impact within Hamilton this year, say organizers. But Potocic said the group is looking at going beyond its James Street North, four-block radius, to maybe Locke Street, or perhaps even Gage Park, formerly the home of Festival of Friends.

“We are not opposed to expansion,” he said of the event, which will grow next year from two days to three. “It’s something that is on the table.”

This year, organizers held some events on the waterfront, using a shuttle bus to ferry people back and forth.

“We are looking to use it again in 2014,” said Potocic.

After carefully calculating who attended the 2013 event, organizers found that about 80,000 of the 105,000 people that jammed James Street North were from the city, with half of those people split between the lower city and upper Hamilton. About 25,000 people were from out of town, and 34,000 people came out for the first time to see the events.

Potocic told councillors at the Nov. 6 general issues committee meeting the goal is to have a $1-million budget within five years. The budget now is about $600,000, supplemented with grant money from the Ontario government ($187,000), federal government ($121,800) and $162,642 provided by the private sector.

Hamilton chipped in with $60,000 at the last minute during the spring’s budget deliberations, but only after councillors rejected a request from the group for $125,000.

“It’s critical you have a municipal contribution,” said Potocic.

Hamilton politicians raved about what Supercrawl does for the city, including boosting its image, attracting major musical and artistic stars, and revitalizing the downtown area.

“It just continues to grow,” said Ward 2 councillor Jason Farr.

Added Ward 1 councillor Brian McHattie: “This is one of the key festivals that are defining Hamilton.”

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