|Alamo marketing director Tony Caridi looks through some of the items for sale commemorating the 175th anniversary of the Battle of the Alamo at the Alamo gift shop on Jan. 6|
T-shirts commemorating the 175th anniversary of the legendary battle are now on sale at the Alamo, in a variety of colors.
But the star-studded, fireworks-laden concert planned for the battle's anniversary in March has been pre-empted by a state investigation.
Alamo marketing director Tony Caridi said he called pop/rock star Phil Collins this week to tell him the concert had been postponed. Caridi thought last year that he had corporate sponsors ready to put up $400,000 to stage a free, nationally televised concert for 60,000 people, but none of those backers have since made a firm commitment.
As a result, an opportunity to raise $2.5 million in television rights and DVD and merchandise sales to benefit preservation and expansion of the state-owned Alamo site has been compromised, Caridi said.
“The real loser in all of this is the Alamo,” he said. “I had sponsors who were initially thrilled to be a part of this. Some of them came back and said, ‘This doesn't really fit into our marketing plan for 2011.'”
Caridi and Alamo historian Bruce Winders believe sponsors got cold feet as the Texas attorney general's still-unconcluded investigation of the Alamo's state-appointed caretakers, the Daughters of the Republic of Texas, stretched into months.
News of the probe and concerns in Gov. Rick Perry's office about leaks and cracks in the Alamo's roof have been reported nationally.
The publicity reached a crescendo last month when the British press reported Perry had asked Collins, an Alamo devotee, to negotiate a truce among warring DRT factions. Collins, born in Britain and living in Switzerland, actually knows little about the debate, and was surprised the show set for March 5 has been called off, Caridi said.
“He said, ‘So there won't be a concert? Nothing at all?'” Caridi added, in an English accent.
The concert in Alamo Plaza was to have balanced show business pizzazz with historic authenticity.
Mayor Julián Castro would deliver an oration by Tejano hero Juan Seguin. Collins was to read a letter written by Alamo commander William Barret Travis. The show was to begin with a flyover by the Air Force Thunderbirds as the San Antonio Symphony played patriotic hymns. Artists were to include Ricky Skaggs, ZZ Top, Clint Black, Clay Walker and Beyoncé. The night would end with a 20-minute fireworks display.
Caridi now hopes to hold the event in June, when the Daughters will have new elected officers and the Legislature probably will have wrapped up its 2011 session. But about half of the anniversary year of Texas independence, and the potential to raise funds for the Alamo, will have passed, he said.
The San Antonio Convention and Visitors Bureau has pledged $75,000 for the concert and supports the DRT's new one-year contract with William Morris Endeavor Entertainment to promote the Alamo, Caridi said.
But some DRT members oppose the contract, saying it commits the Daughters to pay $900,000 to WME. Although Caridi has said the fees will be paid by private, anonymous sources, some Daughters worry the underwriters might pull out. They're also concerned the contract involves other costs and overcommits to WME on rights to use “Alamo intellectual property.” Since WME is based in Beverly Hills, the contract is governed by California law.
Caridi and Winders said the contract will put the Alamo on a world stage. WME, as part of an array of media services, hopes to produce an Alamo video game and an updated television version of “Davy Crockett, King of the Wild Frontier” that starred Fess Parker in the 1950s.
|A tee shirt is among the items for sale on Jan. 6 at the Alamo gift shop commemorating the 175th anniversary of the Battle of the Alamo.|
Under a separate agreement with Tennessee-based Richards & Southern, the Alamo last week began selling new merchandise with its 175th anniversary logo.
Last month, the San Antonio City Council agreed to deed a cul-de-sac along Houston Street to the state to allow for a nearly $40 million expansion of the Alamo grounds. Under the city's provisions, however, the transfer can't occur until the DRT raises $16.5 million for a building to include exhibit, storage and education space.
Meanwhile, sources have said the AG's investigation, which began in June, has focused on personnel issues; DRT's compliance with state law and federal financial reporting requirements; and DRT bylaws and other issues of self-governance. Although the Legislature could remove the DRT from Alamo custodianship, some members have said the AG's office could take even stronger action by revoking the group's nonprofit charter.
DRT members — who spoke anonymously for fear of being ostracized or expelled — said they oppose recent decisions by the group's board. One member said she's one of about 20 “very strong women” in the DRT working with the AG's office to fix the group's problems in order to keep the state from dissolving it or revoking its custodianship.
“I will keep fighting at every level,” she said.
Sarah Reveley, one of three Daughters expelled in the past 18 months, said she felt having a concert at the Alamo would violate the spirit of the 1905 law that gave the DRT custodianship.
“To me, it was a travesty for Caridi and the Daughters to have a circus rather than a memorial service,” she said. “Their charge is to maintain the Alamo as a ‘sacred memorial to the heroes who immolated themselves upon that hallowed ground.'”
© San Antonio Express, by Scott Huddleston