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Deal Saves nTelos Pavilion Concert Season

PORTSMOUTH, VA (CelebrityAccess MediaWire) — The Portsmouth City Council agreed Wednesday to sign a new contract with the managers of the nTelos Pavilion at Harbor Center, salvaging the amphitheater’s 2005 concert season. Without the 4-3 council decision going their way, the city and management company, Harbor Center Joint Venture, were in jeopardy of losing the entire season.

The agreement will force the city to pay HCJV at least $1 million this year. The two parties will go into arbitration for claims capped at nearly $1 million more, according to The Virginian-Pilot.

Faced with the high costs, city officials earlier this month considered closing the amphitheater for the season, but said the city would then be left with an empty venue, a possible lawsuit and none of the equipment needed to run the facility.

City Council members said neither choice would be easy.

“We’re kind of caught up here,” Councilman Ray A. Smith Sr. told the paper. “Either way there’s going to be a cost. We have to minimize that cost. A lot of us feel the best way to do that is spend the money now. We need to do everything we can to move on.”

Offsetting some of the massive payout, the city estimates that it will take in about $250,000 in parking fees and admissions taxes when the venue opens.

The complete contract calls for the city to pay Harbor Center Joint Venture $300,000 for equipment, $350,000 in losses from concert cancellations, $150,000 in marketing funds to promote the venue, and $200,000 for its annual management fee. Over the next few months, the groups will also go into arbitration for other losses the company has claimed, including $2.3 million in artist fees and revenues over the past two years.

All of the claims are related to damages sustained in 2003, from Hurricane Isabel shredding the shed’s roof. The city has also admitted a lack of oversite at the amphitheater that compounded other financial trouble. Last fall, a review found that both sides had repeated breached the management contract that had been in place since the venue opened in 2001. –by CelebrityAccess Staff Writers