Lakeview Amphitheater/St. Joseph's Health Amphitheater at Lakeview
Second District County Legislator
Another session of the Onondaga County Legislature, and another tough deal to swallow on behalf of the taxpayers of my district. After rushing a naming proposal for the Lakeview Amphitheater through the Ways and Means Committee on an “informational” basis only (no votes were taken), the item was put on the April agenda for a full vote in breach of the Legislature’s normal procedures.
Legislators did not learn the name of the sponsor until a few days before our April session and did not learn the particulars of the “deal” until the day of our session. St. Joseph’s Health is paying $1.5 million over five years to have their name associated with the amphitheater.
The money is being split with the booking agent for the venue — Live Nation — for no reason other than a poorly executed contract passed by the previous legislature. Live Nation makes their money booking shows and should have nothing to do with the naming of the facility, yet they are getting a gift of $750,000 from this “deal.”
The county does not even get to control our portion of the cash. SMG, the company contracted to manage the venue, will hold our portion of the $1.5 million. It is not clear to this elected official if the legislature has any say in how this money will be spent.
The lack of transparency surrounding the amphitheater is tiresome. The legislature was denied a copy of the naming rights contract. Important questions had insufficient time to be asked, let alone answered such as: Did we comply with procurement laws in awarding a contract to St. Joe’s? Could the county have obtained more money by competitively bidding the naming rights? Is there a renewal option for St. Joe’s after five years? What happens if St. Joe’s does not pay? Why does the cost of signage come out of the naming rights proceeds (the amount received will be something less than $1.5 million after these costs are deducted)?
The county comptroller has indicated the amphitheater has lost hundreds of thousands of dollars since it came online. It is difficult to get one’s hands around the true costs of operating the facility because the administration fails to break out the budget for the facility in the annual budget document. I personally enjoy the amphitheater and want to support it, but it is difficult to do when the business of the venue is not open and transparent. I hope the naming rights money will be spent to maintain the facility, but the way business is conducted in the legislature I doubt I’ll ever know for sure.
Feb 17, 2019
Feb 17, 2019
Feb 17, 2019