MCAS MIRAMAR, Calif. — The Defense Department’s last-minute decision to cancel this year’s Miramar Air Show because of the federal government shutdown cost the local Marine Corps base at least $600,000, according to preliminary figures.
Marine Corps Air Station Miramar was scheduled to host this year’s two-day show on Oct. 4 but canceled it Oct. 3 even though civilian performers contracted for the show had already arrived in town or were en route, tickets were sold, and tents and other equipment were in place.
The decision left the base holding the bag for at least $600,000 in contract reimbursements for performers and vendors, Miramar officials told U-T San Diego.
“Most of the big contracts have been covered but there are smaller contracts still being worked out,” Miramar spokesman Marine Capt. Anton Semelroth said.
The show normally makes the base money, which is used to support military families.
Last year’s show netted $1.6 million in profits for base families, supporting child care programs for working parents and employee assistance for troops leaving active duty, according to the newspaper.
Even before the cancellation, the show was scaled back from its usual three days to two after the Defense Department announced earlier this year that military flight demonstrations would not be allowed due to the automatic spending cuts known as “sequestration.” That included the Navy’s wildly popular Blue Angels.
This year’s show was expected to draw fewer than half of its normal crowd of 500,000 due to the scale back.
A disappointed Col. John P. Farnam, commanding officer at MCAS Miramar, said he was informed that as a community outreach event, the show was prohibited under the guidelines of the government shutdown, even though no furloughed employees or appropriated funds were to be used.
The Congressional budget standoff over Obamacare started Oct. 1. A GOP compromise that was to be voted on in the House Tuesday was canceled at the last minute because of lack of support from conservative Republicans. Fitch, meanwhile, threatened a downgrading of the government’s AAA bond rating.