The city expects to be paid in full for outstanding BottleRock 2013 expenses before it will approve a special event permit for a 2014 event, City Manager Mike Parness said last week.
In addition, Parness said he expects the producers of BottleRock 2014 to pay all projected city expenses for the 2014 festival in advance. Last year, BottleRock 2013 producers were expected to pay two-thirds of the city’s expenses in advance and one-third after.
BR Festivals LLC, the producers of BottleRock 2013, paid the city approximately $262,788 for services associated with last year’s festival, but still owes the city $106,729.
Parness said he told members of Latitude 38 Entertainment, the group that plans to produce BottleRock 2014, “I expect that we would get paid before we consider another event.”
“We have to have some assurance” that the city will be paid, Parness said.
Latitude 38 Entertainment is led by Napans David Graham, Justin Dragoo, Jason Scoggins and Joe Fischer.
BottleRock 2013 was produced by Napa residents Gabe Meyers and Bob Vogt of BR Festivals.
While a hit with tens of thousands of concertgoers who attended the five-day May event at the Napa Expo, BottleRock 2013 quickly became a financial debacle. The festival cost $20 million to produce and generated a gross income of $11.2 million, according to bankruptcy court documents filed by BR Festivals on Feb. 5.
Vogt, Meyers and BR Festivals are all named in a number of lawsuits for breach of contract and other complaints.
Parness said regardless of which group is producing the 2014 festival, the city and taxpayers shouldn’t have to subsidize the event. While Latitude 38 is not BR Festivals, “they are using the name (and) they bought the assets” of BottleRock, he said. “Not accepting responsibility for anything else … it’s difficult to accept.”
“I think the City Council would feel foolish if they allowed the public to subsidize last year and take a loss,” he said. “We just can’t expose the city” to another such loss.
Latitude 38 has had a preliminary conversation with Parness “about the money the city is owed by BR Festivals, LLC, the 2013 festival producer,” David Graham of Latitude 38 said in an email. “The city is aware that this is not our debt and we are in continued communication about next steps.”
The 2014 festival has been announced for May 30 to June 1 at the Napa Expo.
The group “understands the city's need to be vigilant with its funds. We are prepared to pay the city the fees within a schedule that is mutually agreed upon,” Graham said.
“We hope these folks have some better financial controls over the process that will allow them to meet their obligations,” said Parness. “So far I am seeing very positive developments that would lead me to believe they are capable of doing that.”
“They acknowledge mistakes were made last time. They have listened to our input,” he said.
In addition to paying the outstanding debt, Parness said the special event permit application for this year’s three-day music marathon should be submitted more than 90 days in advance.
In 2013, due to repeated changes and revisions, BottleRock “was a moving target all the way through the process,” Parness said. The final special event permit was only approved two days before the festival.
“We were right down to the wire,” he said. “It was very confusing. We’re hoping a lot of that can be avoided this year.”
Latitude 38 Entertainment anticipates submitting its special event permit application by the end of next week, Graham wrote. “Based on our early conversations with the city, the Expo and different community leaders, we are confident that the event plan we submit to secure the permit will be workable for the city and an improvement over last year’s plan.”
Napa Police Capt. Steve Potter will be a key BottleRock contact, said Parness.
The captain met with Latitude 38 representatives for an introductory meeting last Tuesday. “The single most important thing is to have the special event permit (application) completed 90 days before the event,” said Potter.
At the meeting, “we talked about the impacts in the neighborhoods and the need for outreach to the neighbors, traffic circulation, parking issues, sanitation issues and noise issues,” said Potter. “We talked about the need for a good, solid parking and transportation plan. We talked about sound mitigation.”
Potter said he hasn’t spent enough time with the group to form an opinion of their capabilities, but “my understanding is they come from a very solid business background,” he said. “I think it will be much different from last year, as far as the planning process.”