An exterior photo of Indian Wells City Hall.
An exterior photo of Indian Wells City Hall. (Alicia Ramirez/TN News)

The Indian Wells City Council this week tentatively approved spending $200,000 to potentially bring ABC’s Live with Kelly and Mark morning show to the community.

“I think that it’s important for us to be at the table and be able to have them look at us, but for us to have more information before we formally commit,” Councilmember Donna Griffith said at the special meeting. “Because … we’ve got a lot of information here, but we don’t have everything.”

According to Visit Greater Palm Springs (VGPS), the ABC morning show is interested in filming on location in the Coachella Valley in November of this year.

“They have about 2.2 million viewers a day that watch the show, and they’ve expressed an interest to have a remote location here in the Coachella Valley,” City Manager Chris Freeland said. “And so, [VGPS] is working with the cities to see if there are cities who have an interest to do so, and if so, where they might have it hosted in their communities.”

The total cost of bringing the show to the region is $1.4 million. VGPS will contribute $1 million to bringing the show to the Coachella Valley, with the remaining $400,000 split between the host city and hotel partner. According to VGPS, the total value of bringing the show to the region is roughly $12 million in marketing and advertising.

“[VGPS sees] the importance of the marketing and advertising that the show can do for the Coachella Valley,” Freeland said.

However, the council had a number of questions about bringing the show to Indian Wells, including Councilmember Ty Peabody who was concerned about the lack of detailed information brought before the council.

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“I’m really not sure why we’re even sitting here, because this is vague,” he said. “And to make a commitment of resident money for $200,000, and we just go ahead to reduce the fund surplus by a couple of hundred thousand dollars. For me, I just don’t understand it.”

Peabody ultimately ended up voting against the motion to tentatively approve the $200,000 sponsorship cost. The motion included language that gives the city the option to back out of the sponsorship if it becomes clear during next month’s site visit that the agreement would not be in the best interest of the city.

“I would classify this as a tentative decision,” Mayor Greg Sanders said. “But we have a heck of a lot of due diligence that we’d have to do, and we’d certainly have to have the opportunity to meet with the producers, when they come out here, in order to make sure that we’re getting what we’re bargaining for.”

Of the four public comments the city received, one was in support of the expenditure, two had concerns and one, John O’Hea, who spoke at the meeting, called on the council to reject the proposal. 

“At the recent strategic planning meeting in February, it was revealed that occupancy rates at the Indian Wells hotels are at record numbers,” he said. “I have friends in the restaurant business here in the valley, and they are astounded at the numbers that restaurants have been generating since pandemic restrictions were lifted. With this in mind, I question the need to expand the money requested today.”

Earlier this year, Live with Kelly and Mark went on location to Las Vegas for a four-show stint filmed at the Fontainebleau Las Vegas. Other Coachella Valley communities being considered for the show included Palm Springs, Palm Desert and Rancho Mirage, according to VGPS.

A full recording of the meeting can be found here on the city’s website.

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Alicia Ramirez is the publisher of TN News and the founder and CEO of its parent company TN News.