SMG

Come Monday, April 3, the Ford Park Entertainment Complex will be under new management, according to contract amendments filed in Jefferson County Commissioners Court on Monday, March 27. The original terms during contract negotiations would have meant new venue management provider Spectra taking over the helm of Ford Park on March 31, but an extension was necessary pursuant to an agreement to give certain notice to outgoing management company SMG.

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Ford Park Entertainment Complex, the Jefferson County publicly subsidized event center, costs taxpayers roughly $2 million every year, but elected officials are hoping new management can cut the amount of support needed from county coffers to run the facility and breathe life into the underutilized venue.

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As 2016 comes to a close, Jefferson County has yet to ink a deal with a new management firm to oversee the Ford Park Entertainment Complex. After months of negotiation, a contract to secure the services of a management firm for the publicly subsidized entertainment complex is held up as lawyers review the proposition on the table, according to county purchasing agent Deborah Clark.

Under the tenure of SMG, Ford Park has run at a nearly $2 million annual deficit – a deficit charged to taxpayers of Jefferson County.

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Ford Pavilion

On the eve of a deadline to give word to current Ford Park Entertainment Complex management company SMG as to Jefferson County’s intent to either keep the management team they’ve been with for 15 years or sign with a competitor, Jefferson County Commissioner Everett “Bo” Alfred reported that not only have both companies been informed of the county’s decision, but a tentative contract from new management provider Spectra was in the hands of Purchasing Director Deborah Clark as of Wednesday, Oct. 12.

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Commissioner Everett “Bo” Alfred

Jefferson County Commissioners, in a 3-2 split vote, decided to go with a new management firm to breathe life – and revenue – into the multi-million-dollar publicly subsidized Ford Park Entertainment Complex, but that contract offer is in jeopardy as new questions arise and deadlines near.

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Ford Pavilion

Roughly two million Jefferson County tax dollars are annually allotted to support the initiatives of the Ford Park Entertainment Complex, but that isn’t the only public funding used to subsidize the privately run county venue. According to information from the county, Ford Park also receives the lion’s share of Hotel Occupancy Tax (HOT) funds as well.

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Tom McDonnell with Spectra and Doug Thornton of SMG

“We’ve got to be more aggressive… to bring events in, and looking at new ways of generating that business,” SMG executive vice president Doug Thornton told Jefferson County Commissioners this week, explaining what the SMG management team would do differently if given yet another five years to oversee events at the publicly subsidized Ford Park Entertainment Complex, where it has been in charge for nearly 15 years operating at a roughly $2 million-a-year deficit.

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Ford Arena

If Jefferson County departments budget requests are fully funded this year, according to County Auditor Patrick Swain, the county is looking at a $4 million shortfall. Among the requests for increased funding are various capital improvement projects throughout the county, increases to cover healthcare premiums, and more than a half-million dollars in requested additions for the SMG-managed and county-owned Ford Park Entertainment Complex, which already loses more than $2 million annually.

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If Jefferson County departments budget requests are fully funded this year, according to County Auditor Patrick Swain, the county is looking at a $4 million shortfall. Among the requests for increased funding are various capital improvement projects throughout the county, increases to cover healthcare premiums, and more than a half-million dollars in requested additions for the SMG-managed and county-owned Ford Park Entertainment Complex, which already loses more than $2 million annually.

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The nearly 15-year monopoly SMG has had in running Jefferson County’s Ford Park Entertainment Complex is now threatened as another company has made a move to acquire the rights to spearhead the county-subsidized venue.

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