Since 2003 The Honda Battle Of The Bands (HBOB) has lead the charge in promoting and supporting HBCU bands through it’s grant program and by providing an event that shared the unique sound and marching style of these bands to over 60,000 fans annually. Recently Honda announced that it will not host the event in 2019 due to a scheduling conflict with Superbowl LIII, which will be hosted in Atlanta’s Mercedes – Benz Stadium on the Saturday usually reserved for HBOB. Honda did say that it plans to continue its 2019 HBOB grant programs, to support HBCU music education programs, and will also continue to recognize an extraordinary individual making a positive impact in the HBCU community with it’s Power of Dreams Award, which is awesome.
But if you ask any “bandhead” what is their opinion on the matter you will get a pretty consistent response… “Honda was nice while it lasted but this action signals an end to an era… It will not come back.” I’m beginning to think there may be some weight to this way of thinking. This morning I asked myself, Is the Superbowl being used as a convenient way to end the event without alienating current and future Honda Motors customers? Here is why I believe the answer to that question is yes.
On the surface, the explanation for canceling the event makes perfect sense. Superbowl is coming… We get it. But after thinking about it a little deeper, as presented, it doesn’t pass the smell test. This event boasts over 60,000 patrons and has lasted for over 15 years. Why would a scheduling conflict completely cancel the event? Couldn’t the event get moved up, or back, a week or two? Couldn’t the location be moved to another southern city like New Orleans or Houston (Two cities that could easily facilitate an event of that size)?… Was completely canceling the event the best option?… For Honda, yes.
Most seem to agree that there were options that could have resolved a scheduling conflict and, if that was really the issue, the event would have simply been moved to another date. However, and this is all based on conjecture, after what I surmise as a disappointing bottom line from this year’s event (Mainly due to the vast difference in cost associated with renting the new Mercedes – Benz Stadium compared to the GA Dome of previous years.) And not being able to reach a deal with other cities, who saw dollar signs by knowing Honda was in a pinch to find a new venue, they had no choice but to cancel it. However, the cancellation was not due to the Superbowl like they stated, but due to the fact that the costs associated with hosting the event have gotten too high. This is why I agree the event will likely not return. Until the costs associated with the new Mercedes – Benz Stadium are lowered greatly or HBOB finds a home in a new city, at a reasonable rate, we have indeed witnessed an end to an era.