Summer Citizens may shun a Cache Valley without opera

With the Utah Festival Opera Company awaiting a decision on an emergency request for additional dollars from the RAPZ/Restaurant tax, one member of one of the opera’s largest audience groups is saying that the county may regret not funding the opera company’s request. Fred Berkenkamp, Chief Ambassador for the Summer Citizens, a group of senior citizens largely from Sun City, Ariz., says the UFOC is a major factor in the decisions of the people he recruits every year to come to Logan. Berkenkamp said Monday that he did his own informal survey of about 190 of the 750 Summer Citizens in Logan and found that 51 percent would be much less or somewhat less likely to come to Cache Valley for the summer without the opera here. He said if just 150 visitors failed to return, each spending an average of $5,400 per couple, it would be a loss about approximately $450,000 a year. “It’s a serious loss and it also would be a very serious loss to the Summer Citizen program because this is a magical combination that we have here with the university and the opera and everything else that comes together,” Berkenkamp said. “Once a big chunk of that falls out, the uniqueness of Logan/USU falls out and people start going elsewhere. “There are other places for people to go.” Berkenkamp, a retired business executive, said this does not take into account the likely further spending by the substantial number of other patrons of the opera form inside and outside Cache Valley, or the spending of the UFOC itself. He said the Summer Citizens are hoping the UFOC gets the funding it needs from the Cache County RAPZ/Restaurant tax.

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