Napa to BottleRock: No new show until old debts are paid

2014-02-08T19:00:00Z 2014-05-01T14:29:31Z Napa to BottleRock: No new show until old debts are paidJENNIFER HUFFMAN Napa Valley Register
February 08, 2014 7:00 pm  • 

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.”

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(25) Comments

  1. Rustydog
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    Rustydog - February 08, 2014 8:12 pm
    Good move by City Manager Mike Parness
  2. Really napa
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    Really napa - February 08, 2014 9:32 pm
    Sounds like some shady business moves...change the name of the owners, file for bankruptcy, bring back the new event, pocket the cash like Cindy and the other crooks did! Don't get me wrong... Great times and glad it's here again..but let's call a spade a spade! Merica!
  3. napa1957
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    napa1957 - February 08, 2014 10:14 pm
    Thank you. Stick to your guns on this.
  4. Tom74
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    Tom74 - February 09, 2014 12:03 am
    Wait, I though the City had "no control" over whether this event could go forward? Didn't this same city manager state as much in the Register editorial section not that long ago?
  5. Tom74
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    Tom74 - February 09, 2014 12:04 am
    You must work for the promoters, still trying to blame the vendors who were all stiffed by the promoters.
  6. Crosscountrykid
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    Crosscountrykid - February 09, 2014 6:19 am
    Of course the City is correct in requiring payment of past debt and minimizing exposure of incurred expenses for 2014. But it's stance also demonstrates that in having the power to issue, or not, a special use permit, the City has a direct (not just indirect) go/no go authority for BR. I would hope City personnel have in place some firm guidelines and to prevent the shenanigans of last year between the City and BR.
  7. VogueLaGalere
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    VogueLaGalere - February 09, 2014 7:20 am
    And penalties, too, just like the rest of the citizenry have to pay who do not pay on time.
  8. singerandasong
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    singerandasong - February 09, 2014 9:27 am
    Throughout the entire process leading up to Bottlerock I maintained that because of the special event permit process the City of Napa had ultimate say over whether the event took place or not. In fact they did impose some conditions but not nearly enough. I am glad to see that this year the City has come around and now takes the position that they are not powerless to insist that this be a safe and lawful event. As to paying past debts. I find it very interesting that nothing was included in the bankruptcy article about the new promoters paying off the debt to the vendors for the 2013 event. At first it sounded like the new promoters were going to make everyone square but that morphed into they would do what they could to see that everyone got as much as possible and now it seems to have disappeared. Is this the beginning of a whole new shell game where promises are made to achieve the immediate goal and then once that has been achieved the promise is quickly forgotten.
  9. Snoopydew
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    Snoopydew - February 09, 2014 11:27 am
    I don't know that the City is correct. Seems to me the City would be a creditor in the Federal Bankruptcy court just like all the other vendors. Even if they do get the new owners to pay the old debt, my guess is it would be claimed by the Bankruptcy Court as a preferential treatment.
  10. bowlerhat
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    bowlerhat - February 09, 2014 11:52 am
    Surely, any 2014 concert MUST be predicated on paying ALL outstanding debts BEFORE the 2014 concert gets the green light from The City.

    **** Only asking for Napa Town's own debts to be paid, while very important to the us tax payers, does NOT address the multitude of Vendors and workers (many of whom have been on the verge of bankruptcy) who have either not been paid or have large balances outstanding. ****

    It seems the this aspect of the process for reviving a new concert has and is, very opaque.

    Any comment to this letter from the decision makers or anybody else reading this with real knowledge?

    Look forward in anticipation that debts WILL be settled Before going forward.
  11. Mashed Potatoes
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    Mashed Potatoes - February 09, 2014 12:07 pm
    My question is whether Mr. Martin and Mr. Mott will be involved in the process this year as they were last year?
  12. MyWrites
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    MyWrites - February 09, 2014 12:31 pm
    Ahhhh but wait…"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."

    A schedule? Does this mean 2/3 down and 1/3 after the completion of the event…again? If the the musicians can get paid 100% up front before services are rendered, so can the city, especially after last year's debacle. Hang tough on this one Mr. Parness; prove to the citizenry that the city can protect the taxpayers hard earned dollars.
  13. napa1957
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    napa1957 - February 09, 2014 1:00 pm
    I keep seeing comments about "Cindy" and the vendor's owing original BR hundreds of thousands of dollars, yet never have seen mention of an actual law suit (you know...where you have to actually prove allegations) come forth. Just makes me wonder how real it all is.
  14. Scott B
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    Scott B - February 09, 2014 4:35 pm
    Mr. Parness- Thank you for standing up for the city of Napa taxpayers. I'm sure there will be those within the city, Bottlerock ownership, and beyond that will try to convince you to cave in. Capitalism works best when there are checks and balances. You just might be the only check and balance in this whole process!
  15. jojojackson
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    jojojackson - February 09, 2014 5:18 pm
    Eat your own mistake !
    To the Person in charge of renting out the fairgrounds : You were the one who F'd up by not taking the FULL amonut up front the first time.
    How about instead of taking all music lovers hostage, correct your own wrong , open the fairgrounds up for rental now before another town in our area picks up the venue and Napa loose$ out on a healthy profit and FUN times in May for Napa merchants, Hotels, Motels, B&B's,Clothing stores,electronic,Bike,Boat,Bus,Car,Limo's,Taxis,Restaurants,Bars,cafe', sandwich shops delicatessen, pizza,hamburger,coffee shops, on and on and on…………….
    Do I need to go on ? see it this way, we took our cash for services preformed, "Right up front " before you make A - another Big error you have to let the show go on, for the Napa Fairground will never find a bigger venue for the town of Napa.

  16. Bauhausfan
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    Bauhausfan - February 09, 2014 9:49 pm
    It makes no sense that BR Festival is owed anything by anyone. They are filing for bankruptcy and would, if they had any legal case at all, be pursuing all assets they were owed and would be filing a lawsuit against anyone that they thought owed them a penny let alone hundreds of thousands that has been claimed.

    They filed a half million dollar lawsuit against a transport company that they said subjected them to unfair business practices.

    I don't believe them at all and considering their track record I think you would have to be completely brain dead to take them at their word.
  17. Paddy
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    Paddy - February 09, 2014 11:27 pm
    Very shortsighted. The taxes realized by the city because of this fabulous event is significantly greater than what is claimed they're still owed. I look forward to BottleRock 2014, I live in Alta Heights, and I'll have 20 or more people at my house who will spend tens of thousands of dollars in this town on that weekend.... as long as the city lets it happen of course.

  18. vocal-de-local
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    vocal-de-local - February 10, 2014 2:07 am
    I was thinking the same thing MyWrites.
  19. vocal-de-local
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    vocal-de-local - February 10, 2014 2:14 am
    jojo, you're assuming that Napans want to subsidize an event so that hotels, motels, clothing stores etc can profit.

    Follow the money trail. It may not mean much to you if you don't live in the area and pay taxes, but for those who do, it's relevant.
  20. napaOG
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    napaOG - February 10, 2014 8:52 am
    Napa is very small and i only hope if this happens again parking, traffic, the people who put they'er businesses on the line are happy with any agreement they make. Remember this is the help bring money to own local business owners and our city, and there is still talk after a year not everyone is paid from last year. Oh no not sure about this! Napa please make a good decision and a responsible one at that.
  21. selim_sivad
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    selim_sivad - February 10, 2014 9:17 am
    As an ardent BRNV supporter, I was at first thinking "wait, it's a completely different entity running the show now and they shouldn't legally owe anything." But I can see the point in the City covering their bases for these two reasons:

    First of all, if the promoters can't come up with an "extra" $100k then they simply aren't ready for a concert of this magnitude. If this new group drops the fiscal ball with BRNV 2014 it's going to be impossible to have another event even close to this in the future, as the concept will be damaged beyond repair. They need to do this right. GET YOUR OWN LIQUOR LICENSE.

    Second, this is a savvy PR move by the City management showing that they're "calling the shots"...but we all know that it's the hotels & restaurants that play the tune the City Administration dances to. The city is putting up a brave face, but it's kabuki; the hotels & restaurants don't want this late May golden goose slaughtered over "only" $100k.
  22. getbacktoworkpeople
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    getbacktoworkpeople - February 10, 2014 10:45 am
    To characterize this PR move by the City Manager as "standing up" to protect the citizens shows an utter lack of understanding of business and the law. If the City wanted to "stand up" for the taxpayers, they would have done a better job at collecting all the money they were owed from THE FORMER OWNERS OF THE FESTIVAL, not the new guys.

    How someone can, on the one hand, acknowledge that this is not the new team's debt (it's BR Festivals' debt, and they're in bankruptcy), but on the other hand conclude that they should pay it anyway, is mind-blowing. That would be like someone asking you to add $100,000 to your mortgage balance, just to "prove" that you can afford your house. That is ridiculous...get a grip.

    BR Festivals fatally mismanaged the 2013 event, and there were many entities, including many vendors, who went unpaid or underpaid. Latitude bought the assets of BR Festivals and is planning a new event. They did not assume BR Festivals' liabilities. It really is that simple.
  23. getbacktoworkpeople
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    getbacktoworkpeople - February 10, 2014 10:52 am
    Furthermore, the City resorting to this tactic now, after Latitude has already entered into various commitments to produce the 2014 that is shady (I use the word "shady" despite a strong desire to use another word).

    I hope that Mr. Parness has the political courage to reconsider this ultimatum.
  24. Bauhausfan
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    Bauhausfan - February 10, 2014 12:05 pm
    The city calls the shots because everything around the fairgrounds is the city and is controlled by the city and the police are in charge of public safety.
  25. Bauhausfan
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    Bauhausfan - February 10, 2014 12:09 pm
    I seem to remember the new producers of the event were going to make good on at least some of the money owed by the previous disaster known as BR Festival. The figure was 50-90 percent. You would have to be brain dead, yes, I am serious, brain dead not to pay off the money owed to the city before you did anything else if you are the new production company behind the 2014 event.

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