SIOUX CITY | After 16 years of calling the Historic Fourth Street District home, Awesome Biker Nights announced Friday the event is moving to the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino.
Brian Hall, chairman of the Awesome Biker Nights board of directors, said the Hard Rock, located at 111 Third St., will lend its main stage concert venue for the rally, which is held the third weekend of June.
Fifth and Pearl streets north and east of the casino will be devoted to motorcycle and pedestrian traffic for the 2016 rally. All major concerts will be held at the Battery Park venue on June 16 through June 18.
“The Historic Fourth Street District has been an incredible venue site,” Hall said in a statement. “However, there was a decision by the board, due in part to issues beyond our control, that a location change was necessary."
Before the press conference Friday, Hall and ABN boardmember Andy Phillips sat down with owners of businesses on Fourth Street to discuss what led to the decision.
In June, several businesses in the Fourth Street District were upset after barricades were put up around their entrances, blocking access to SoHo Kitchen & Bar, Luciano’s and others.
The restaurants were blocked access to the street because they had declined to pay the $1,500 fee to participate in the beer garden.
Buffalo Alice co-owner Bob Nettleton said they were disappointed with the announced move, and said he hoped ABN would reconsider the decision.
"I feel they are making a bad decision on behalf of the community," Nettleton said. "I feel they made the move to the Hard Rock because of the casino's deep pockets can give them incentives that were never discussed with us."
C.J. Perera, owner of the Diving Elk, said he understood ABN's decision from a business standpoint, but still disliked it.
"It's disappointing to see Biker Nights abandon those who built the event. Now they're selling out to corporate interests," Perera said. "I wish the city would cater to Fourth Street, instead of abandoning it."
Businesses near the Hard Rock have been approached about participating in the rally, Hall said.
An estimated 25,000 people attended this year's rally.
"The offer Hard Rock gave us, we essentially couldn't refuse," Phillips said.
Ticket sales from the event go to benefit local charities. Plans are being made to have a separate stage erected to promote local bands.
Philips said partnerships with Fourth Street businesses are still possible.
"We're not ruling anything out at this point," Phillips said. "With this move, we hope to grow (biker nights) to be bigger and better than before."