Existing OVG/Metra Booking Contract a Bad Deal for Taxpayers

By Mark Morse

Can we agree a booking agreement should mean additional shows at MetraPark? The current contract between Yellowstone County (YCM) and Oak View Group (OVG), signed July 28, 2021 does not do that. The commissioners got taken to the cleaners by OVG. 

Nowhere does the contract with OVG require them to do anything to receive money from MetraPark. OVG waits for MetraPark to pass a revenue benchmark and gets paid. Other than material breach, OVG cannot be fired in this contract. Read it for yourself. 

3.01(b) After achieving the Benchmark, … revenues shall be allocated… as follows:

(i) OVG shall receive the first Fifty Thousand ($50,000) of the Arena New Revenues in each contract year:

(ii) OVG and YCM shall split the Arena New Revenues between $50,000.01 and $300,000 split 45% to OVG and 55% to YCM; and,

(iii) OVG and YCM shall split the Arena New Revenues in excess of $300,001 split 50% to OVG and 50% to YCM.

To simplify, if MetraPark revenue exceeds $1.4 million dollars (the benchmark) in any of the next 5 years, OVG gets paid whether they book shows or not. OVG does not have to book anything to take profit which belongs to the taxpayers. This five-year deal can only be terminated if the benchmark is missed two years in a row, not counting the first year. Make the benchmark in year three, and OVG has a five-year deal that cannot be broken. OVG does not have to book anything to get paid.

Commissioner Ostlund, recognizing the Commissioners were out maneuvered on this booking arrangement wants any future MetraPark management contract vetted by a third-party expert. Taxpayers deserve a fully transparent process vetted by a competent third party to assure they receive the best deal. Unfortunately, if Jones and Pitman rely on their own evaluation, rather than a 3rd party expert, taxpayers will likely end up with a contract like this booking arrangement where an out of state, for profit corporation receives MetraPark funds for doing nothing.

I am sure OVG is willing to offer this same contract deal to the three businesses’ publicly supporting them. All sensible business owners will decline this offer. 

After this sleight of hand, Pitman and Jones are considering OVG to manage the entire MetraPark complex. This is the reason I, Commissioner Ostlund, and other taxpayers are asking Pitman and Jones to seek 3rd party expert vetting.

Mark Morse

(Running as a Republican candidate for Yellowstone County Commission.)


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