Friday, Sep 30, 2016
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Second-rate in Rossford

The Rossford Arena Amphitheater Authority is piling mistake upon mistake. First, it had to abandon overly ambitious plans for a suburban hockey arena. Now, in desperation to open its amphitheater this summer, the agency has agreed to take shortcuts and go second-class in its choice of operators for the outdoor concert venue.

That can hardly be intended to inspire confidence.

If the RAAA expects to have a first-rate facility, it should be listening to the experts it hires. But this band of amateurs seems to be paying strictly for what it wants to hear regarding this ill-conceived project, which is months from completion and still without financing.

The agency's legal consultant recommended the hiring of Crossroads Presents, a combine that includes Robert Fox, founder of Brass Ring Productions, and Joseph Nederlander, one of the great names in the entertainment business. Crossroads advised that, to do the job right, the RAAA first should install all the amenities - restrooms, concessions, paved parking, and proper entrances and exits - to efficiently handle crowds of 18,000 concertgoers that are expected if first-rate acts and entertainers are booked and brought here.

But doing things first-class would result in a year's delay, which isn't in the RAAA's plans. Instead, it voted to hire an operator called V.S.O.P. LLC, which is apparently promising that it can run the partially completed amphitheater, all the while guaranteeing the agency an extra $50,000 a year in profit. That sounds way too optimistic, which has been the life story of this whole project thus far.

Frankly, if the Nederlander organization had been brought aboard, we would still question the wisdom of the project in the first place but we would have felt a lot better about its prospects for success.

Pushing ahead with an inferior facility undoubtedly will lead to some bad experiences for concert-goers, which in turn would give the amphitheater a bad reputation. Will top-name entertainment acts want to keep coming back? Will they even sign on in the first place?

The Rossford folks have made a number of mistakes on this project and now appear to be compounding their problems by rushing head-long to get it up and running. They're likely to find that it would be wiser to pay for a quality facility now, run by the best in the business, rather than be sorry later.

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