Mosaic Place to Aggressively Seek Out Concerts
It was seemingly a case of which should come first, the horse or the cart, and in the end Council chose governance as the first step.
Speaking to Council, City Manager Jim Puffalt, discussing a report before council, said the Downtown Facility and Field House (DFFH) – commonly known as Mosaic Place and the Yara Centre – is a “long issue in te community and sure to (cause controversy)” and cited recommendations in the report to aggressively seek out events/concerts.
Puffalt brought forth a five point recommendation which would allow the City Manager to:
-Co-produce or promote events with a $150,000 limit. Any amount higher than that would need to go to Executive Committee in camera discussions for approval.
-The understanding that not every event/concert would be successful and overall performance would be judged on an annual basis.
-The creation of a $100,000 USD event fund to cover potential losses with the understanding the fund would be replenished from profits to lessen the impact of any losses during the year.
-Provide quarterly reports to Council.
-Develop a closer relationship with the City recognizing the DFFH works with the same stakeholders, citizens, tenants and City Council.
Puffalt told Council the City needed to be “aggressive” in going after events and concerts but to do it in a “professional manner”.
“This is a major economic driver for the community,” Puffalt said, adding that it was an “opportunistic time to establish that fund” with the “cost savings this year.”
He stated that the Moose Jaw and District Chamber of Commerce and Tourism had had some branding discussions.
The report stated “The Moose Jaw and District Chamber of Commerce has expressed an interest in having concerts and events return to Moose Jaw and strategic planning, tourism and many other organizations have mentioned this as a major attraction and economic driver for the City.”
See Related: City Branding Itself, Who Pays for That?
He said the proposed $100,000 USD event fund could come “out of the DFFH budget” as there “should be excess funds for it.”
See Related: DFFH Turns Financial Corner
“I’m fully in support of this I don’t think we should wait for another season,” Puffalt said.
Councillor Crystal Froese moved the five point recommendation but the discussion continued. Coun Froese sat on the previous DFFH board and was sanctioned and serves as Council’s representative on Tourism Moose Jaw's Board.
Puffalt said that in order to achieve the best results the DFFH needed somebody dedicated in promoting the facilities and seeking out events and concerts. He went on to state if the City did not get aggressive in lining up shows “we are going to lose all of next Spring.”
“We need to get into everybody's faces and let them know we are out there,” he said.
Councillor Chris Warren said he was supportive in pushing forward on this but referenced the 2016 Myers Norris and Penney (MNP) Report and it’s recommendations into major problems identified inside it.
The 2016 MNP report was commissioned by the previous City Council to delve into the operations of the DFFH. The report found serious problems in the operations of the DFFH which included a Board who were not given full information by the former CEO Scott Clark, the need to conduct more Human Resources training, Clark’s running the DFFH as a personal enterprise and major losses due to the rising US dollar.
Read the City's 2016 statement when the public portion of the report was released.
Coun Warren said there was the need to bring Tourism Moose Jaw and the Moose Jaw and District Chamber of Commerce into the discussion
Councillor Scott McMann said he was in favour of more events and more concerts but the former DFFH Board “did not turn any concert down” and the market was “not very strong.”
“I agree with some of Coun Warren’s concerns,” Coun McMann stated, adding “I’m a little surprised we are moving into this.”
Coun McMann had sat on the DFFH Board and was sanctioned by Council.
Councillor Brian Swanson echoed many of Coun McMann's concerns providing more detail.
“The idea we weren't interested in having concerts is balderdash. What we were interested in were concerts which wouldn’t lose money,” Coun Swanson stated.
He went on to typify losing money on concerts to help fill local restaurants as “voodoo economics for taxpayers to lose money.”
He went on to state assumptions the DFFH was turning concerts away was “completely untrue. It was a demonstration of fiscal discipline.”
Coun Swanson claimed “when reviewing concerts (held at Mosaic Place) it showed most of them lost money.”
“Fiscal prudence does not come from overpaying for concerts as economic drivers,” he said.
At this point Mayor Frasier Tolmie proposed tabling the proposal until the governance model for the DFFH comes forward to the City. The measure passed 5-1 with Coun Swanson opposed.
Recently Councillors Froese, McMann and Swanson were sanctioned to varying degrees by Council due to their role in a serious personnel matter. The DFFH Board was dissolved and Puffalt took over as it’s interim General Manager.
See Related: 3 City Councillors Sanctioned