Public athletic events that would have brought about 11,000 participants and spectators to Naval Base Ventura County were canceled Tuesday morning as a result of across-the-board federal spending cuts that took effect March 1, base officials said.
The Mud Run, Admiral’s Cup Triathlon, Point Mugu Surf Contest and Wounded Warrior Half Marathon were canceled after naval orders to discontinue partially funded special events through the end of the fiscal year, said Dan Alpern, marketing director for the base’s morale, welfare and recreation department.
The Navy’s Blue Angels flight squadron is scheduled to perform at Point Mugu on Sept. 28-29, and there is uncertainty about whether the performances will be canceled. The Navy has announced plans to cancel the squad’s April air shows, base spokesman Vance Vasquez said.
Alpern did not say how much the Navy would save from discontinuing the events but said it was “significant” because of the man-hours and security needed to grant civilian access to the base for special occasions.
“It’s a great expense to the Navy any time we open our gates and host the public,” Alpern said.
Similar events were abandoned at other installations in Navy Region Southwest, Alpern said. The decision came from Commander, Navy Installations Command that oversees all shore bases, he said.
“Most of our patrons understand that this was a possibility,” Alpern said. “They recognized that they’d rather see these events cut than pay or jobs.”
Facility hours will also be reduced for gyms and pools at Naval Base Ventura County, along with a lounge and recreation complex aimed for 18- to 25-year-olds working on the base, Alpern said.
Base spokesman Vasquez said the budget cuts being felt by the Defense Department are beyond the base’s control.
“It’s sad that these events had to be canceled,” he said. “Unfortunately, we’re just dealing with unchartered waters in these times.”
Vasquez said Naval Base Ventura County has a history of being welcoming to the public, but that the base needs to carry out its core mission.
“Sometimes that kind of gets lost in the mix of why the bases are originally here,” he said
The Mud Run, planned for May 18, was expected to attract 1,000 participants, Alpern said. Runners navigate a three-mile course with mud pits.
The Admiral’s Cup Triathlon, scheduled for June 1, attracts about 500 athletes annually and is sanctioned by USA Triathlon.
The Point Mugu Surf Contest averages 8,000 spectators on a mid-August weekend. Local surfers compete with active-duty military who fly in from as far as Afghanistan, Alpern said.
The September Wounded Warrior Half Marathon typically draws 1,200 participants for 1-mile, 5-kilometer and half-marathon races.
Refunds are being processed for the Mud Run and triathlon because registration had already opened, Alpern said. Registration fees should be returned in four to six weeks, he said.