NM’s Tourism Department plays hard to get with ‘The Bachelor’

PLAYING HARD TO GET: The New Mexico Tourism Department is waiting before committing $50,000 to lure ‘The Bachelor.’ But the Santa Fe City Council has already promised up to $100,000.

By Rob Nikolewski │ New Mexico Watchdog

SANTA FE, N.M. – The Santa Fe City Council may have committed up to $100,000 of taxpayer money to try to lure the ABC-TV reality show “The Bachelor” to tape its upcoming season in the state capital, but the New Mexico Tourism Department is playing hard to get.

“We’re not going to commit $50,000 to a project that we don’t know is going to happen,” Tourism’s Communications Director Rebecca Latham said.

There have been reports the Tourism Department already had committed $50,000 in the hopes of getting the producers of “The Bachelor” to come to New Mexico, but Latham told New Mexico Watchdog last week the department has made no decision on whether to jump into the bidding.

“Until we hear what’s set, we’re not going to make any firm committment,” Latham said Wednesday morning.

Latham said other cities are in the running to land the show, which has been on the air since 2002 and has spawned similar versions in 13 other countries, but didn’t know how many other contenders are in the race.

The show’s producers “hold all this stuff really close to the vest,” Latham said. “They’re the ones holding all the cards. ”

Santa Fe already has put up money to lure the reality show.

Last week, the Santa Fe City Council voted to commit at least $50,000 and up to $100,000 to the project even though there’s no guarantee the producers will choose the City Different.

The council vote was close (5-4) with proponents saying the show’s estimated audience of 14.3 million will give Santa Fe worldwide publicity.

But critics question the potential economic impact and the use of taxpayer dollars on a venture that may not come to fruition. The comments pages and letters to the editor accompanying the stories of the city council’s decision have been overwhelmingly negative.

“This is so stupid,” said Santa Fe resident Jill Meyer. “We have so many other needs in Santa Fe.”

Contact Rob Nikolewski at rnikolewski@watchdog.org and follow him on Twitter @robnikolewski

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and host of the Plain Talk Podcast which you can subscribe to by clicking here.

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