(Originally Posted on Sunday, 01 May 2016 in Sturgis.com Blogs)
Even as a pile of ashes and rubble, all that's left of the Full Throttle Saloon after a fire destroyed it last September, the venue continues to generate a great deal of attention and talk. Of course, most of it was purely speculation. Rumors ranging from probable to utterly ridiculous have passed the lips of not only the FTS fan club, but the legions of "haters" as well, and everyone in between.
For the most part, I have held my tongue and waited for confirmation.
And confirmation we have, as Michael and Jesse have purchased the Broken Spoke Campground. Oh boy. Here we go. The rumor mill has churned up some new product. Will Jesse and Mike actually rebuild the original site? What will happen to those plaques that were purchased by fans of the TV show, surviving family members of those people who loved the place, and people who intend to buy a Harley one day and visit? That answer is unclear at best.
There are quite a number of people who are confused. Ballard said he would rebuild, likened his bar to the mythical Phoenix that rose from its own ashes, and stated his gratitude to all of the people who wanted to contribute something to the effort. Is buying a readymade campground actually….. rebuilding? That's a head scratcher, folks.
Some have stated with great certainty that Ballard is smart enough to know that the original site, although now just a pile of burnt ashes and twisted metal, retains a great deal of value due to location alone, and that he wouldn't just sell it off that quickly. Will he rebuild his distillery on the site, with a few big tents selling t-shirts and $7 beers? I can visualize those people who in years past, would pull up in their campers, cars, trucks and minivans, hop out in the parking lot or the side of the road for a few quick pics, then hop back in and drive away. I can see that particular demographic hopping out of their vehicles, walking around and taking a few pics, and then going across the street for a $2 beer.
Some say he might build something like a gas station there, especially with the new bypass built. Hmmmm, interesting. Some say that with all of the ashes of people who chose that site for the resting place of their bodily remains, he really can't move his business anywhere else.
There is an increasingly vocal demographic of people who were Broken Spoke Campground patrons, who are now displeased or apprehensive with the new change of ownership. They commonly worry that prices will increase dramatically for everything there ranging from the price of a beer to a week's stay. That fear is not unfounded, as many report that the price of a week's camping has shot up to nearly twice the price of the week before the purchase announcement had been made. Some worry that the campground will become a circus of TV cameras, manufactured drama, and attention seeking TV star hopefuls attempting to cash in on the FTS franchise's success and fame. This is a valid fear. Many people, me included, have witnessed the chaos and "drama" produced for the sake of TV ratings as it pertains to FTS. The vast majority of Rallygoers don't want that bullshit to spread.
The FTS fan club's response has been…. odd. First, a massive confusion was expressed. "Wait- does this mean it's going to be the FTS, or Broken Spoke?" "I don't understand- he said he was rebuilding" "Where will the plaque be that I bought for my dad? FTS, or Broken Spoke?" Some couldn't seem to read the articles to glean the info for themselves. They were hung up on the fact that the announcements featured a photo of a place that wasn't FTS. There were also those who couldn't understand how he could afford to do so if he didn't have any insurance money to rebuild FTS.
But once it was made clear that they were not allowed to express anything in the fan group other than unwavering support, they complied. "Good for him! Taking over Strugis!" Many vowed to someday go and visit the new site, and expressed the hope that the TV show would come back on.
Whatever happens will be interesting. I wish Ballard and the FTS family nothing but the best of luck in running their new business venture, and would like to strongly encourage him to consider purchasing a comprehensive insurance policy for this place. It's kind of a basic thing, you know?