Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Questions for Yes Weekly's Brian Clarey on Greensboro Coliseum Trade/Barter Agreements

"...during a controversial discussion about various projects and concerns at the Greensboro Coliseum Complex, Director Matt Brown mentioned that [Yes Weekly] had held a discussion about naming rights for the new — and again, controversial — amphitheater.

...everything involving the coliseum and its environs elicits controversy because it is owned by the city.

...we do business with the coliseum, just like every other print publication and most other media in town.

What are the specifics of the trade/barter agreements
between the Greensboro News & Record, the Rhino Times and Yes Weekly?

Just like we also do business with the Lawrence Joel in Winston-Salem, the High Point Theatre, the Carolina Theatre, Triad Stage, SECCA and every other arts and entertainment venue that wants access to the smartest and best-informed readers in the Triad. That’s how it works.

Fair enough...

None of that has anything to do with our editorial content...

Have some mainstream media personalities criticized policy positions of some,
while receiving undisclosed and/or indirect compensation from others
interested in non-attributed dissention?

...Currently at issue is an ACC VIP lounge, approved by council last week, to be funded by a grant from Ovations as part of a deal for securing concession rights in the arena.

Some seem to feel that the money should have been used against the $1.8 million or so subsidy afforded the venue by the city.

Should "grant" money be considered a slush fund for the Coliseum,
if Greensboro's residents have to pay more for consessions
in order for Ovations to recoup the upfront payout
while the city's taxpayers are subsidizing operations for $1.8 million plus per year,
or is the deal is some kind of free lunch?

But we see nothing wrong with using this grant to improve this city-owned facility.

...On this one, Matt Brown got it right, particularly since he was shrewd enough to allay much of the construction costs using tickets as trade. And we’re not saying that because he paid us to do so...

Was the ticket trade for construction completed with no-bid contracts
without anyone else having a chance to bid for government work,
without the public being informed of the details?

...these improvements are contractually linked to the grant..."

Could “grants” from privately held vendors to a publicly owned entertainment venue
be considered by some to be a backdoor bribe,
locking in future profit at the expense of local non-taxpayer supported businesses?

Why not tell the vendor to use their kickback dollars
for whatever whoever tells them to allocate the money to,
or else tell them they are not the vendor anymore?

The nature of the business
Brian Clarey
Yes Weekly

If a few multinational corporations
own an overwhelming majority of newspapers, magazines, news channels,
radio stations, book publishers and business information sources,
what are the chances of an investigative journalist
publishing a negative story on a sister subsidiary
or on a subsidiary of another company that could retaliate in kind,
or for an author successfully marketing media criticisms?

George Hartzman


Brian Clarey said...

Hey George.
We have definitely criticized the coliseum in the past, from the "secret" amphitheater to the Canada Dry debacle to Brown's salary to outrageous parking prices to the $1.8 million subsidy from the city. We've even made fun of some of the acts and events that go on there.
I do not work on the business side. I'm an editor. But as far as I know, the coliseum "pays" for their full-page ad at rate-card prices with tickets to events. We also have a corporate box there, for which we pay cash.
I don't think there's anything inherently wrong for a new concessionaire to want the facilities upgraded before moving in, and I don't see improvements to the coliseum as a bad thing.
But to suggest that we soft-pedal our coverage because of our business dealings is naive and a little insulting. I mean, they're not even cutting us a check. Do you think I would sacrifice my professional integrity and that of my paper for a couple Harlem Globetrotters tickets?

triadwatch said...

brian ,
you pay cash for a corporate box? any receipts?

thanks for the reply and hopefully we can get to the bottom of all of this or if you would like to get jordan green on the case please do to see if it is legal for a construction service contract be bartered?

i am sure george will also chime in as well.

George Hartzman said...

Thanks for stopping by Brian,

"But as far as I know, the coliseum "pays" for their full-page ad at rate-card prices with tickets to events. We also have a corporate box there, for which we pay cash."

I havn't seen any of the specifics as to how the barter contracts work yet. Can you elaborate?

My current concern are no-bid contracts for the VIP room and ampetheater not made public.

My understanding of public works projects is that projects over $500,000 have to be bid out. If trade/barter deal was done, why didn't anybody else get to bid on it, even if it didn't include cash compensation?

What if another company would have done it for a lot less?

City Council didn't even think to ask the specifics of the swap.

What if it involved lifetime club seats, or something out of bounds, especially considering the contractors connections to the communities in crowd of political donors?