Sturgis Mayor Answers His Critics About Signing A 75-Year Agreement To Make Harley-Davidson The Official Brand Of The Rally

billdavidsonmarkcarstensenHere in this website and on social media, many have expressed their disagreement with the city of Sturgis signing a deal with corporate Harley-Davidson to make Harley the official brand of the rally for the next 75 years. Sturgis Mark Carstensen replies to the critics in an article published today by Deb Holland in the Rapid City Journal Meade County Times. The city will not publish the terms of the agreement, but Mark Carstensen gave his justifications for signing such a deal. They are listed below.

Harleylogosmall“For decades, Harley-Davidson was the unofficial motorcycle of Sturgis, and now, it gives me great pleasure to solidify its status as the ‘Official Motorcycle’ of the 75th Annual Sturgis motorcycle rally and for years to come,” said Sturgis Mayor Mark Carstensen said in announcing the pact. It has been a goal of the Sturgis Rally Department to build more long-term relationships with major sponsors. This agreement will elevate the Sturgis motorcycle rally to a new height as the next generation of motorcycle enthusiasts continue to build on the legacy that began 75 years ago.

HarleylogosmallThe agreement includes several partnering elements that will take place in the upcoming years, but also gives the city some latitude in modifying the agreement. We did sign and enter into a long-term agreement with Harley-Davidson which insures that they will be an anchor in our downtown during the motorcycle rally and year round for many years,” he said. “Now, this agreement is written so we have protection over the years — we know how quickly the world changes. I am saying the agreement signed currently has incremental changes over time, and the ability to be changed over time. Several companies, not just Harley-Davidson, were approached about sponsorship of the 2nd Street Plaza and being the official motorcycle of the Sturgis rally, including Indian Motorcycle.

HarleylogosmallI would like to mention that all motorcycle riders are welcome in Sturgis and all companies are welcome to come and participate in the rally and come make a permanent home in SturgisThe plaza will be a year-round destination for the community and tourists that come to visit. It will help downtown business by giving visitors a place to go, check things out and just relax in our town. When people come to Main Street Sturgis, not during a rally, they will now stay here longer, all without using a single penny from BBB, sales tax, or from property taxes.

HarleylogosmallThis agreement with Harley-Davidson will help lay the foundation for changing the perception of Sturgis. I ask everyone to consider and understand that what we are doing is truly with the intent of what is best for Sturgis. For decades, the automatic response has been to fight and argue and always think negatively. Times have changed, intentions are for the betterment of Sturgis and all that we are doing takes a lot of time, energy and work…Please look at the facts and watch for positive changes in 2015 and the years to come. Be a part of building Sturgis into what it can be.” (picture Jeffrey Phelps/AP Images for Harley-Davidson. Sturgis Mayor Mark Carstensen with Bill Davidson)

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41 Responses to “Sturgis Mayor Answers His Critics About Signing A 75-Year Agreement To Make Harley-Davidson The Official Brand Of The Rally”


  1. 1 highrpm Jan 27th, 2015 at 8:20 pm

    small time politics. lived in rapid for 8 years and got tired of its pervasiveness. too bad since the black hills is really a pretty place.

  2. 2 Blackmax Jan 27th, 2015 at 8:22 pm

    When a politician says he’s doing the “best” he can for his constituents
    (the people of Sturgis) I think everybody:
    1. better check and see if their wallet is still in place
    2. check his wallet to see how much of YOUR $$$ he has in it

  3. 3 Rodent Jan 27th, 2015 at 8:51 pm

    Most states have laws about government in the sunshine called “the Sunshine Law”. Making it illegal to do business like Sturgis did with the MoCo in the darkness. Who knows what other abnormalities are allowed in South Dakota.
    Even the stockholders of the MoCo should question this under the counter deal making.

  4. 4 BobS Jan 27th, 2015 at 9:23 pm

    “It has been a goal of the Sturgis Rally Department to build more long term relationships with major sponsors…” “This agreement with Harley-Davidson will help lay the groundwork for changing the perception of Sturgis.” Yes it will. The perception will no longer be this rally is the Mecca for motorcycle riders by motorcycle riders. Now the perception will be a coprorate event designed to seperate motorcycle riders from their money for the betterment of corporate interests with the city council playing the part of corporate lap dog. Maybe it’s time for “the rally of all rallys” to go somewhere else.

  5. 5 Seymour Jan 27th, 2015 at 10:06 pm

    haha oh brother!

  6. 6 Zenaldo Jan 27th, 2015 at 10:36 pm

    Cant imagine any of the other large bike manufacturers are too excited about this deal… 75 years is a REALLY long time seeing as thats the total lifespan of the Sturgis rally itself..seems a little unusual to me… Although, I cant imagine the mayor intentionally doing any long term deal that would be bad for the rally/city as he is a local resident…

  7. 7 nicker Jan 27th, 2015 at 11:03 pm

    Can’t get too fired up about this one way or the other. For whatever reason (sponsorship predictability, seed money, etc, etc…) the city wanted a sugar daddy to help finance the operation. If that works for them, the other vendors, and the town folk…. no harm no.

    After all, none one is forcing you to attend or to stick around and clean up the mess that’s left behind.

    However, it does make one wonder if the precedent is now set for an:
    – “official Sturgis Beer” or
    – “official Sturgis Motor Oil” or
    – “official Sturgis Chewing tobacco”
    – or Chrome polish, Tires, Chewing Gum, Toilet paper, Condoms, etc, etc,……..

    Is there an end to this or is this a “new beginning”…..???

    Just wondering.
    -nicker-

  8. 8 nicker Jan 27th, 2015 at 11:05 pm

    Oooops That was supposed to read “. ..no harm no…foul…”

    -nicker-

  9. 9 Jeff Duval Jan 28th, 2015 at 7:22 am

    I agree with you Nicker, why see “conspiracy” at every street corner? I’d say, if such a “deal” was on offer, go for it!… As you also intimate, our opinion was not sought or required 🙂

  10. 10 SIGFREED Jan 28th, 2015 at 7:25 am

    He, he, he, he – the Indian must have gone red in the face…

  11. 11 Taco Jan 28th, 2015 at 7:26 am

    Oh, now it makes sense. The Mayor got a jacket and HD pushed Bill out to put his thumb up. He “had to” do this… Just sad

  12. 12 Danny Jan 28th, 2015 at 7:31 am

    To Mark Carstensen. As a mayor, whatever deal you sign, it’s a huge PR mistake to wear the jacket of a motorcycle brand, especially when you know that a picture is going to be used by the press. It’s the ABC of a politician.

  13. 13 Heavy Metal Jan 28th, 2015 at 7:41 am

    Its all about the benjamins. I will ride my 1983 Goldwing there next year and ignore anything HD.

  14. 14 JackS Jan 28th, 2015 at 8:22 am

    I will repeat my annual pilgrimage to Mecca, get my patch, and sip a few with 600,000 of my closest friends. I might even buy a tee shirt.

  15. 15 Harold Mutter Jan 28th, 2015 at 9:04 am

    “The City will not publish the terms of the agreement”, this is the most disturbing element of this whole deal!

  16. 16 takehikes Jan 28th, 2015 at 9:26 am

    Not publishing the terms means they took the screwing and don’t want you to know what it cost you….whores.

  17. 17 qajaqr Jan 28th, 2015 at 9:26 am
  18. 18 grmp54 Jan 28th, 2015 at 10:26 am

    Business as usual…

  19. 19 Joe Mielke Jan 28th, 2015 at 10:44 am

    To all of you who do not live in Sturgis or in South Dakota for that matter. Do you live in a large city or near a metropolitan area? Does that city have an NFL team, NBA team, NHL team, MLB team, NASCAR Events? Some cities have all of these things and more. Tell me how having any of those corporate relationships are significantly different than Sturgis having corporate relationships. The host city has a cost of doing business to support all of the extra people, traffic, infrastructure, security, law enforcement, etc. etc. All of this adds to what the city may incur through a year to support all of these unnecessary events. I think these Events or Franchises are typically referred to as enhancing “Quality of Life” where every they may located. They are not necessary to sustain life.
    The Sturgis Rally is an unnecessary event which has a huge cost of doing business and the community of Sturgis has a responsibility to do what is necessary to cover their costs and make profits. Would anyone in their right mind expect the small town of Sturgis to go through what they do every year without compensation?
    If you go to a NFL game you can expect to pay $20-50 to park your car. You’re going to pay $10-20 for a hot dog and a beer. Basic hotel rooms can start at $200 a night anywhere you go. You always expect to pay inflated prices on anything you do or purchase at any of these events. Of course there are deals to be found and lower cost options if you choose to make concessions.
    As long as the citizens of Sturgis continue to elect their mayor and representatives these elected officials have an obligation to use their resources to enhance the Quality of Life for them. I think it just makes good sense to have these types of relationships. No rally, Sturgis or otherwise, is a free party for everyone who shows up.
    Just my opinion and certainly not without flaw.

  20. 20 chop Jan 28th, 2015 at 10:53 am

    I’m a Harley Guy… always have been and always will be.
    But… I don’t agree with discriminating against those that are different than me.
    I know who I am and I’m ok with letting them be happy with who they are.

  21. 21 P. Hamilton Jan 28th, 2015 at 11:13 am

    Joe Mielke. Your demonstration is flawed. Sturgis doesn’t offer a show/entertainment to bikers. Bikers and vendors are the show and entertainment. Bikers, vendors enrich hotels,campgrounds, merchants, and the city also cash in with vendor permits Your comment tend to justify the fact that hotels/bars/restaurants are gouging bikers and that they should be happy for that!?!? Like at a football game…Ludicrous.

  22. 22 John Prat Jan 28th, 2015 at 11:15 am

    Mielke. A comment you should not have written. Amusing, at best.

  23. 23 Zenaldo Jan 28th, 2015 at 11:56 am

    As a resident of a city that has all of the above mentioned professional sports entities in Joes piece above I can tell you Id prefer that all these billion dollar sports team franchises should be paying the city instead of the TAXPAYERS building them multi million dollar arenas to play in. Yes, our city does have an agreement with other businesses to name those stadiums for marketing purposes, but will never fully recover the money it spent on all these arenas. So, as a taxpayer why am I being held responsible to pay for their home for fear they’ll move the team elsewhere ? The mayor of Sturgis is thinking long term cost vs income to his very small community which is saddled with huge expense for that 10-14 day activity…

  24. 24 Rodent Jan 28th, 2015 at 12:06 pm

    Joe
    You can watch a NFL game on TV

  25. 25 Taco Jan 28th, 2015 at 12:25 pm

    Joe Mielke, I live in Green Bay, WI. Your opinion certainly has flaws. I would exist for the next 75 years without this. Fact

  26. 26 Super Dave Jan 28th, 2015 at 2:38 pm

    Has anyone actually seen or read what is in the agreement? Would not surprise me if there are escape clauses in it in the event one party wants out down the road (pun intended).

  27. 27 TJ Martin Jan 28th, 2015 at 2:55 pm

    Zenaldo – So here’s another dirty little secret you may not be aware of . Did you know that the NFL NBA MLB are all listed as Non – Profit organizations that therefore pay no taxes what so ever back into the very cities economies they’ve done such a good job emptying ?

    As to the whole Sturgis debacle . Suffice it to say the minute you hand over the control of both your city and the event its known for [ without the M/C rally Sturgis would of become a Ghost Town by now ] .. at that point you’ve guaranteed that the very face of your event/city will be changed forever …. and not in yours or those that may visit you’s favor . Fact is … he who pays the bills … gains all the power …. as well as reaping the majority of the profits in the long run . Watch the documentary ; ” The Greatest Movie ever Sold ”

    As to the good mayors feeble attempts at explanations/apologetics . The phrase ” Speaks with forked tongue ” comes to mind … all while filling his back pockets to the brim no doubt . The fact that the financial details are not available to the very public this agreement will affect the most ? Well …. that pretty much tells you everything you need to know about the ‘ deal ‘ …. in a nutshell 😉

  28. 28 highrpm Jan 28th, 2015 at 3:05 pm

    @taco,
    glad you mentioned green bay. the packers nfl franchise is the exception to the rule of nfl franchises gouging local taxpayers to enrich nfl corporate and the franchise owners at the expense of joe 6pak.
    read matt peppe’s “the nfl’s anarchist success story”. (posted on mattpeppe.blogspot.com.) 3 cheers for the green bay packers. i think joe mielke makes a good case for the cost of the rally to the city sturgis. yet i thought the income the city get from all the permits it issues to the rally vendors covers its costs and then some? seems to me the city violates the spirit of the rebel biker vagabond by going the way of corporate capitalism and selling its soul to the $$$. oh well, i guess most things these days are only skin deep. but what do i know?

  29. 29 Martin Twofeather Jan 28th, 2015 at 4:18 pm

    Well it was a good deal for all at least Harley will still be here 75 years from now!

  30. 30 Johnny Gypo Jan 28th, 2015 at 5:05 pm

    It’s always about money. The mayor will find out money flows in both directions, and possibly AWAY from Sturgis. Even Harley owners like myself (of the older variety) will be disenchanted about this business deal making Harleys “special”. The Moco will flaunt it, the city will swallow hard and minimize it after seeing the reaction and possibly have to brace for unwanted dissent. A poor decision. As I sit here looking at my AMF shovelhead, once again, I long for a different time, when Best Western was a discussion about movies.

  31. 31 U think U know me Jan 28th, 2015 at 7:12 pm

    Who really cares about official sponsor. If you have been to Sturgis, you know that every make/model are rode.. If you don’t want to go cause upset about sponsorship, don’t go. I go for great riding and the adventure of taking a cross country trip on a bike with friends…..sponsor or no sponsor, I’ll keep riding mine out every year.

  32. 32 R.West Jan 28th, 2015 at 8:40 pm

    We all have a choice to go or not to go. I went for the first time ever last year, the week before the rally and the mayor just made up my mind for me on my next visit. I love the riding and will go back, but the motel rates will be cheaper 😉

  33. 33 Reyn Mansson Jan 29th, 2015 at 5:13 am

    It’s a great deal for the city, it is unlikely that the event will last 75 years so get what you can now.
    I don’t think you’ll find a half million motorcycle riders in the Black Hills when the current generation ages out. [dies off]

  34. 34 Ross Jan 29th, 2015 at 8:38 am

    Part of this deal is probably a reflection of the fact that the Rally has a new sponsorship agency that also happens to work with the NFL. I agree with a previous comment that this is all around you. As you lounge on the couch watching a pro football game, you are seeing sponsors names/logos everywhere the camera points. It just the way it works. The rally attracts the attention of lots of people and it is ripe for corporate sponsorship for, yes, Official Beer, Official Hot Dog etc, just like all the other big events out there. It’s the way of the world. If you want to see the rally continue, it has to move up to modern practices to generate money to support all the cost of putting it on (i.e.. cleaning up all the crap and repairing all the damage done by people who attend – and BTW who don’t give a shit about what happens to the city after they leave except for the fact that “their” precious rally is changing.) And yes, the current generation of bikers is aging out; thus the city’s push to bring it up to speed so it can begin to attract more of the younger riders so that it will continue.

  35. 35 bigitch Jan 29th, 2015 at 2:32 pm

    they should have signed an agreement that only lasted a year past the term of the present mayor.
    therefore the next administration doesn’t inherit a contract that may have problems in the future.

  36. 36 BCinSoCal Jan 29th, 2015 at 2:38 pm

    Agreed Ross and Joe, I’ve been going for 40 years (1975) you others, wake up to the fact, until relatively recently (say the last 15 years) it was a 99% Harley Davidson Rally it was therefore unofficially a Harley Rally, it is still 85 to 90% Harley, so don’t get your panties in a wad if the city gets some corporate sponsorship and $$ to help deal with the result of hundereds of thousands of clowns playing biker for a week or so.

    Heavy Metal, while you are busy ignoring everything HD, rest assured that most people at the Rally will be ignoring your Goldwing.

  37. 37 tedwin Jan 29th, 2015 at 4:03 pm

    So now that HD is the “official” motorcycle, will it now be against the law to be in or around Sturgis with the HD logo on clothing, vehicles, beer coolers, hats, tatoos, etc without the express permission of the city of Sturgis? Oh, and don’t forget that it MUST ALWAYS have the tagline Official Motorcycle’ of the 75th Annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, because that calls for a fine as well.

  38. 38 Johnny Jan 29th, 2015 at 8:30 pm

    Wonder what Pappy Hoyle would say?

  39. 39 Phil Jan 29th, 2015 at 9:50 pm

    If only Polaris/Indian had inked this deal. Most on this site would be cheering it as a genius move. But, since it was HD, it’s nothing but a corporate snowjob.

  40. 40 Ray Jan 30th, 2015 at 6:35 am

    Johny. It’s Pappy Hoel, not Hoyle. His full name is J.C. (Clarence) “Pappy” Hoel.

  41. 41 Wayne Feb 2nd, 2015 at 1:16 am

    Agree with BCinSoCal, Ross and Joe. I think it’s a great move but reserve my opinion to see where it heads to from here. Good income for the city and maybe the local roads will see an improvement. Of course it could turn into a “Biff” mecca like in Back to the Future. Time will tell but curious about the outcome. Wonder how this will affect Black Hills H-D in Rapid City since they currently have the largest shop in the area. Corp might be determined to make/allow a huge dealership in town which would kick BHHD to the curb. Hope not, I like their location.

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