Category Archives: Convention.Centers/Arenas

AFSCME and Civic Center Battle over Outsourcing Jobs

Source: Central Illinois Proud, February 27, 2014

The job of a custodial worker is at the center of a protest against the Peoria Civic Center. A group of local AFSCME union workers protested outside of Peoria City Hall Thursday. The Civic Center Authority wants to outsource a pair of part-time and one full time custodial staff members. AFSCME says a union employee of more than 30 years would lose his job, and the group claims the Civic Center would pay more to outsource. …

Fields of dreams / A closer look at publicly financed stadiums

Source: Derek Prall, American City and County, January 21, 2014

…Publicly funded stadiums are a contentious issue, with proponents harping on the positive economic impact sports stadiums can bring, while critics say public funding can be better spent.

Santa Clara was lambasted recently in the media for the deal on the 49ers new stadium, which will cost around $1.3 billion. The city will kick in $116 million in public funds, but the “private” funding will come from a new entity, the Santa Clara Stadium authority, borrowing $950 million. Should something go wrong, the taxpayers will likely take the hit….

When the Cincinnati Bengals, who for decades shared a stadium with the Cincinnati Reds, put pressure on the county to build a new stadium, the county agreed to pick up the $400 million tab. But after a decade of belt tightening and budget slashing, the deal was labeled “one of the worst professional sports deals every struck by a local government,” by The Wall Street Journal….

…Long found that by 2001, the public sector, including local, state and federal governments had paid approximately $16 billion to participate in the construction of the 100 major league ballparks, stadiums and arenas currently in use. Long warns that publicly financed stadiums can be financially treacherous, and even those where private interests share in the funding, costs can quickly spiral out of control due to complex development and leasing agreements….

Stadium janitors walked off job / Action by unpaid workers took place days before Chargers game

Source: Trent Seibert, San Diego Union-Tribune, January 9, 2014

Qualcomm Stadium was left in the lurch with two days before the Chargers playoff-clinching victory against the Kansas City Chiefs, as its janitorial staff walked off the job. Outside contractor Jani-King, which is paid $750,000 a year by the city, had not paid its workers, city officials said. Thirty-five employees walked out on Dec. 27, interim Mayor Todd Gloria’s office confirmed on Thursday. That left the city wondering how the stadium would be cleaned for the Holiday Bowl on Dec. 30. “When Jani-King failed to pay its employees and it was truly unable to perform the duties for which it was contracted, the city enacted an emergency sole source contract with ARAMARK,” spokeswoman Katie Keach said….

…The city has had troubles with the contractor before. A city performance inspection of Jani-King’s work dated Sept. 29 through Oct. 4 rated the company “very poor” and “poor” on cleanliness….
Editorial: Janitorial fiasco: City must do better
Source: U-T San Diego Editorial Board, San Diego Union-Tribune, January 11, 2014

Indy Parks renews call for private partners to invest in system

Source: Jon Murray,, November 22, 2013

The Indianapolis parks department is renewing its call for nonprofits and companies to propose partnerships that could relieve budget pressure while adding amenities to the sprawling park system. After years of stagnant city budgets, parks officials see public-private partnerships as the most likely way to expand park offerings or improve programs. Outside operators already run the Major Taylor Velodrome complex, city golf courses, a couple after-school programs and a zip line course at Eagle Creek Park. … Key considerations, city officials say, include whether a partnership would reduce the city’s costs or bring in income. That’s because the parks system is saddled with a nearly $46 million backlog of improvements at its facilities that can’t be erased by its annual $3.4 million capital budget. Indy Parks also has a $51 million wish list for new facilities and offerings that are unlikely to be covered under the current budget.

City to resume management of Sherwood Hall / Grant money to finance needed repairs; YoSal to stay as a renter

Source: Roberto M. Robledo, Californian, September 18, 2013

After three years of outsourcing the operation of its major entertainment venue, the city of Salinas is resuming control of Sherwood Hall. Officials at both City Hall and the National Steinbeck Center confirmed Tuesday that the 1,400-seat hall used for concerts, theater performances and speaking engagements has returned to city oversight. However, future outsourcing of the hall is not off the table, one official said. The Steinbeck Center assumed operations of Sherwood Hall in September 2010 when the city, strapped financially by successive years of revenue shortages, farmed out certain city services to the private and nonprofit sectors. Some of those services included the city pool, golf courses and an east side recreation center. Those services remain outsourced today, said Jim Pia, assistant city manager….Still, the city continued to bear its burden for some of the costs such as utilities, Pia said. The city’s decision to resume management of Sherwood was made in part because of some “six-figure” financing for improvements through the federal Community Development Block Grant program. For now, the departments of library-community services and public works will share management of Sherwood, Pia said….

The Fillmore in the spotlight

Source: Jonathan O’Connell, Washington Post, September 8, 2013

…But two years after Blige took the stage that first night, the wait continues for the Fillmore’s stakeholders to deliver on some of the commitments they made to win the right to operate the publicly financed facility…. Montgomery County and Live Nation, the $5.8 billion live entertainment giant, have held just one of a required 72 free or discounted community events at the venue to date, and have yet to agree on terms for the staging of a charitable auction that is supposed to take place annually….

…Montgomery County officials also said they believe the deal has been a good one so far, both as an economic development engine and a community facility…. Others are less than enthusiastic about the returns, particularly since state and county taxpayers paid more than $11 million for the facility. …

…Leggett inked an agreement without seeking competitive bids, and it drew a lawsuit from I.M.P., the Bethesda-based owner of the 9:30 Club in Northwest D.C., which was dismissed for lack of standing. The state and county pledged a total of $8 million for the project, but after Leggett agreed to foot the bill for cost overruns, taxpayers ultimately put up $11.2 million for the facility. …Under the lease agreement, Live Nation pays the county $90,000 annually for the first five years. Among other commitments, the community is “guaranteed a minimum of 36 free and heavily subsidized county and community uses of the facility each year.” To date, only one of those 72 events has been held, a Rock-in-Schools Concert put on by the county’s public school system and department of recreation in May of 2012. …

Red Wings arena deal faces critics / $650M proposal is subject of public hearing today amid city bankruptcy

Source: Louis Aguilar, Detroit News, September 5, 2013

The proposed Detroit Red Wings arena and a surrounding 45-block entertainment district near downtown faces a Detroit City Council public hearing today, amid criticism that the city is spending hundreds of millions on a joint venture with a billionaire while slashing the pensions of its own retired workers in bankruptcy court…. The stadium proposal won’t be affected by the bankruptcy filing because the deal is being run by Detroit’s Downtown Development Authority, an entity that is separate from the City of Detroit. The stadium project also will use tax dollars from a budget and revenue stream that is separate from the city’s general revenue fund, which is part of the bankruptcy case, supporters contend….

…The city’s Downtown Development Authority plans to use $284.5 million in property taxes captured from within its 615-acre downtown district to support part of the bonds. The rest will be picked up by Olympia Development, the property development arm of Mike and Marian Ilitch’s $2 billion business empire that includes the Red Wings, Detroit Tigers and Little Caesars pizza chain. The special tax capture has been in place for more than two decades and legally can’t be used for anything other than economic development. Olympia will operate the arena under a 35-year concession agreement with the Downtown Development Authority. The hockey arena is slated to be finished by 2017 and replace city-owned Joe Louis Arena….

California Science Center grants control of Coliseum to USC

Source: Rong-Gong Lin II and Paul Pringle, Los Angeles Times, September 5, 2013

The California Science Center gave final approval Wednesday to a deal that grants USC control over the publicly owned Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum and nearly all of its revenue for the next century. With no debate, the lease agreement passed on a voice vote by five of the eight Science Center board members, all appointed by the governor’s office. Finalizing the arrangement took more than a year longer than the Coliseum’s governing commission had hoped, largely because its secretive handling of the lease deliberations alienated key backers of the Science Center and two other museums that share Exposition Park with the stadium. The commission approved the lease in May 2012 after months of closed-door talks, with the public and museum officials locked out. Commissioners had signed a confidentiality agreement that USC, a private school, requested early in the negotiations.

Pennsylvania Convention Center OKs privatization plan

Source: Dave Davies, WHYY, June 5, 2013

The board of the Pennsylvania Convention Center has voted to privatize management of the center’s operations. The board chose SMG, which is based in Conshohocken but manages centers around the country, to take over operations in Philadelphia.

Convention board hires consultant to explore privatizing

Source: Suzette Parmley, Philadelphia Inquirer, November 29, 2012

The board of the Pennsylvania Convention Center Authority has awarded a consulting-services contract to Public Financial Management Inc., of Philadelphia, to assist in reviewing responses to privatize certain functions of the center. …The board voted Aug. 15 to examine other options for operating the center, whose $786 million expansion was completed in March 2011. It issued a request for qualifications (RFQ) from companies that provide services specializing in the convention business, including those that handle facility operations, maintenance, and management…. The board’s move to review privatization options comes seven months before the June 30 expiration of a controversial 10-year customer-service agreement between the authority and the city’s unions.

Organized Outsourcing

Source: Michael C. Van Milligen, Public Administration Review, Volume 72, Issue 6, November/December 2012
(subscription required)

….I have been the city manager of Dubuque, Iowa (population 57,637) for almost 20 years. During that time, every department has had to conduct a rigorous and thorough formal process to review its operations. The process included a seven-member team of employees. This set process was conducted to determine whether the department was -operating as efficiently as possible: how did other cities -operate a similar service, and what were the -privatization and partnership opportunities? The process focused on efficiency and effectiveness to improve -outcomes. Having a formal evaluation process that involved department employees ensured that there was -sensitivity to how changes would affect existing employees and would also consider the structure needed to manage a new service delivery model.

Comparing fiscal year 2013 with fiscal year 1981, the city has 31 (5.3 percent) fewer full-time employees today. This is in spite of the fact that the city has added many new and expanded services, such as separate weekly recycling collection, combined countywide public safety emergency communications, geographic information system management, a neighborhood development specialist, a workforce development coordinator, a Multicultural Family Center, a horticulturist, 16 additional police officers, a Green and Healthy Homes Initiative, Bridges Out of Poverty, a city-owned ice arena, and other activities.

The city of Dubuque has privatized the operation of the Five Flags Civic Center, Grand River Convention Center, Jule Transit System, and Dubuque Ice Center. The city partners with Dubuque County on landfill and recycling operations through joint governance of the Dubuque Area Solid Waste Agency…..