- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 24, 2001

The inauguration filled the pockets of many city businesses from hotels and caterers to restaurants and limo services, but frigid, rainy weather and other obstacles left some empty-handed.

The Presidential Inaugural Committee (PIC) raised about $40 million to cover the costs of the inaugural events. That money, which came from private donations and proceeds from all the festivities, is being divvied up among the hundreds of businesses that made the events work right down to the decorators and florists.

The committee expects to "break even" once all the bills are paid, said Dirk Vande Beek, a PIC spokesman.

But that is only a portion of the money shelled out in the District as a result of the inauguration. It doesn't include the additional millions of dollars that visitors and locals spent on food, places to stay, souvenirs, private parties and transportation over the four days of festivities.

More than 601,000 passengers packed the Metrorail on Saturday, spending an estimated $750,000 in fares. Metro gets about the same number of passengers on a regular weekday. The final revenue figures still are being tabulated, said Steven Taubenkibel, a Metro spokesman.

The number of riders Saturday was a 33 percent increase over ridership during President Clinton's second inaugural in 1997. His first inauguration in 1993 still holds the record with 811,257 passengers Metro's highest one-day ridership ever.

The Washington D.C. Convention and Visitors Association does not have final numbers on the economic impact of the inauguration and won't have an idea until hotel occupancy numbers begin filtering in at the end of the month.

But industry officials say hotels received a substantial boost in business this past weekend during a month that is typically slow.

"It was a pretty successful weekend," said Marilyn Matthews, co-owner of Washington D.C. Accommodations, a hotel reservation service based in the District.

Most of the major downtown hotels which required prepayment for reservations, higher-than-normal rates and four-night-minimum stays sold out weeks in advance.

Some of the smaller independent hotels around the city had a couple of empty rooms, but for the most part the inauguration fared well for the hotel industry, Ms. Matthews said.

Even the blustery weather didn't affect most of the hotels. Although there were a few minor cancellations, guests were required to pay when they booked their rooms so the hotels would not lose any revenue.

But not all local businesses are counting dollar signs from the past weekend. Some of the 180 vendors lining city streets Saturday were hoping just to break even after wintry weather and protesters kept some customers away.

AMC Union Station 9 lost an estimated $30,000 to $40,000 in revenue Saturday because of the inaugural pomp and circumstance, which included an official ball at Union Station that night.

The giant movie theater located on the lower level of Union Station was required to close that day, shutting out the 4,500 to 5,000 people who usually pack the cinema on a typical Saturday.

AMC manager Wayne Morgan said Union Station compensated AMC for a portion of the lost revenue, but the wasted day will hurt the bottom line.

"You miss one big day, and it's going to affect you," Mr. Morgan said.


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