Head of the Charles paying DCR more

New $50,000 permit fee, rising to $100,000 in 2023

THIS WEEKEND’S Head of the Charles Regatta is paying more money to use the Charles River than it has in years past under a new contract with the state Department of Conservation and Recreation.

The regatta is paying DCR a permit fee of $50,000 to use the Charles and a good chunk of the shoreline, plus reimbursing the state agency for all operational expenses, including staff time, public safety, trash removal, and site restoration. The regatta is also covering the cost of all utilities and police and fire services.

Under the three-year deal, the permit fee will rise to $75,000 next year and $100,000 in 2023. In past years, the regatta only covered DCR’s expenses.

DCR has been criticized in the past for failing to monitor its leases carefully. The new deal is part of an effort by the state agency to leverage the properties it owns to support its mission.

“This meaningful partnership provides a model for the long-term care of the river and supports both the public’s access and enjoyment of the resource year-round, including the annual, one-of-a-kind event that brings so many to the area each year,” DCR said in a prepared statement.

Meet the Author
In 2019 (the regatta was virtual in 2020), the nonprofit Head of the Charles Regatta generated $3.6 million in revenue, with 20 percent of that amounting to profit, according to filings with the IRS.  That same year, the organization had an endowment of $8.2 million and its executive director, Frederick Schoch, got a salary of $327,000.

The Head of the Charles Regatta is a major draw for Massachusetts.  Attracting more than 11,000 athletes and tens of thousands of spectators from all over the world in normal times, the October regatta is to rowing what the Boston Marathon is to long-distance running.