by Ken Davidson
Rudy Malnati, CEO of Midwest Air Shows, Inc, spoke exclusively to the Gazette today. Malnati makes it clear that he looked at every option to bring the Gary Air Show to the Whiting/Robertsdale area. “The FAA requires a 5 mile ring which makes the Whiting location impossible if you have jets or military aircraft” Malnati said. Even without military aircraft, the required 3 mile requirement could not be met according to Malnati. “We looked at every possible option . . . believe me, I would rather have it in Hammond.” He said. Malnati manages air shows for Chicago, Milwaukee, and Rockford.
These comments echo the statements of South Shore Convention and Visitor’s Bureau President and CEO Speros Batistatos. In a conversation, Batistatos made clear the choice presented to him was not Gary or Fair Oaks. “The choice was whether we would have an air show or not” Batistatos replied when asked about the decision to hold the event at Fair Oaks. “I would love to keep it on the lake . . . Marquette Park (in Gary’s Miller section) was designed in no small way to accomodate the air show.” The public-private partnership with Fair Oaks will provide the best event according to Batistatos. “Fair Oaks is a local business that is globally recognized for innovation.” He stated.
Batistatos admitted that he had not thought about public transportation prior to being asked on a radio show about the issue but replied “We have worked with Everybody Counts in the past. Trustee Frank MrVan and Everybody Counts have cooperated to get people to events [such as the Lake County Fair].” When asked if local parking and public transit could be a way for local communities to capitalize on the event Batistatos replied “I am open to any conversation about making this event a success.” “We are an organization of action.” He concluded.