Tiki Bob's reaches deal to host tent party

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The tent party is on at Tiki Bob's for this weekend's Moto GP.

The local bar was being banned from hosting an outdoor party that's it's held for the past six years because it competed with another event hosted by a big-name sponsor.

An hour after our story aired, a compromise was reached. An appeals hearing set for this afternoon has been withdrawn.

Moto GP roars into Indy this weekend and downtown business owners are hoping it will add to their bottom line. Tiki Bob's was also hoping to cash in, but the owners had concerns after they were pulled from the line-up.

Moto GP fans come for the race and events like Motorcycles on Meridian. Tiki Bob's has always hosted a huge tent party at a parking lot across the street.

"This being our sixth year, it's definitely a shock to us," said Jason Stellema. He says his business was denied a special events license because "it substantially interfered with their event, is what we were told."

The tent party is in an area controlled by Red Bull - a so-called "clean zone." Clean zones were established for the Super Bowl. They allow the sponsors of big events to restrict everything from signage and advertising in the clean zone to who holds what special events.

"It's all about not wanting to compromise the integrity of the event," said Adam Baker, City of Indianapolis Code Enforcement.

Baker can't say why Tiki Bob's was denied a license this year, but noted the vendor "would have final say. That's written into the code."

Stellema suspects it may have to do with Tiki Bob's now selling Monster energy drinks instead of Red Bull, "which is the only change since last year's Moto GP."

It may also have to do with Red Bull wanting to throw a tent party of its own, initially at the parking lot Stellema has held his "Rally on Meridian" parties, since 2007 (prior to the first MotoGP).

Tiki Bob's met up with Indianapolis Motor Speedway officials Tuesday morning and worked out a deal to allow the business to host their tent party as planned.

"Everyone I've talked to can't believe this is allowed through city code," Democratic City County Councilor Zach Adamson said. "While it's important to attract events to the city...I think this ordinance gives way too much latitude to the event sponsors."

Adamson added the tent party "has been going on for six years already and it didn't substantially interfere until they, the event sponsors, decided they wanted to do the same event these guys are doing."

Adding to Stellema's frustration is that even though they applied for the license in April, they weren't denied it until late June. He said they've already invested considerable time and money in the party.

"If there's a problem with the event sponsor and an operator, someone needs to step in and find the happy medium, because local businesses are here 365 days a year and event sponsors come in for two or three," Stellema argued. "It's not fair to the person grinding it out every day."

Baker stresses that under the ordinance, "businesses can still operate as their business...what it does not allow is businesses or vendors to throw a special event in conjunction with a special event approved and brought in by the city."

Stellema though notes he was holding his event before MotoGP came to Indianapolis. He's also hosted tent parties at the same location during several other special events including the Super Bowl and Final Four.