Twin Falls picks canyon jump partner

The Twin Falls City Council will negotiate with a Texas stuntman who wants to stage a leap across the Snake River canyon — an event that could yield upwards of $1 million for Idaho schools.

'Big Ed' Beckley
‘Big Ed’ Beckley

The city will negotiate with “Big Ed” Beckley for the next two months, but ultimately, the council could go another route, The Times-News reported Tuesday.

While the City Council voted 6-1 to negotiate with Beckley, another bidder, REO Development, emerged as the city’s backup plan. The bidder recently purchased 13 acres on the north rim of the canyon, as a potential landing site.

Beckley, who touts himself as the “world’s largest motorcycle stuntman,” is leasing state lands as a potential landing site. And that’s where the state’s public school endowment enters into the equation.

Beckley was the winning bidder at a Sept. 27 state auction, securing the rights to stage an event that would mark the 40th anniversary of Evel Knievel’s failed canyon jump. The auction gave Beckley a two-year lease on 1,147 state acres on the north canyon rim, costing him $50,000.

But the big money for schools comes in the form of a $943,000 “bonus bid” to secure event rights. Beckley has already paid the $943,000 to the state — although the leap is still contingent on Beckley lining up permits with the city of Twin Falls.

During their Oct. 15 meeting, elected officials with the state Land Board debated whether the state would need to return the $943,000 if Beckley’s plans fall through. Lands Department staff says the state is not obligated to return the money.

The state also stands to get a cut of the action if Beckley attempts the canyon jump: 3 percent of revenues from sponsorships and TV and Internet broadcasts, and 5 percent from all other event revenues.

Kevin Richert

Kevin Richert

Senior reporter and blogger Kevin Richert specializes in education politics and education policy. He has more than 30 years of experience in Idaho journalism. He is a frequent guest on "Idaho Reports" on Idaho Public Television and "Idaho Matters" on Boise State Public Radio. Follow Kevin on Twitter: @KevinRichert. He can be reached at [email protected]

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