HALIFAX (CelebrityAccess MediaWire) — Halifax Mayor Peter Kelly is dismissing concert promoter Harold MacKay's version of a secret deal to keep the Black Eyed Peas show on the Halifax Common.
Power Promotional Events Inc. got $400,000 of city money after a meeting with Kelly and Wayne Anstey, the acting chief administrative officer, last year, according to the CBC News.
"We never threatened to cancel. We never put a gun to anybody's head," MacKay told CBC News. "The city was very good. They were looking for ways to help us."
MacKay claims that both parties believed the concert would sell enough tickets to pay back the loan, and if not, that the loan would be forgiven.
MacKay said Monday that there was a big return for the $400,000 advanced to his company for the July 24 Black Eyed Peas concert and the Aug. 6-7 Country Rocks show featuring Alan Jackson.
He also said that ticket sales were slow for last summer’s shows and he needed more money. Only 8,362 tickets were eventually sold for the Black Eyed Peas and 10,009 for the two country shows.
MacKay said there was no taxpayers’ money at risk in the advances his company received from the Metro Centre before the $400,000 last July. The city owns the Metro Centre and has a contract with Trade Centre Ltd., a provincial Crown corporation, to manage it.
"The two shows that we did not make money on, and we lost money on, generated $13 million in economic spinoff," he said in an interview, according to Canada's Chronicle Herald.
"Yes, it cost $360,000 to do that because we didn’t sell enough tickets, but damn it, at the end of the day, is that not a good business transaction? I mean, God almighty."
Kelly, on the other hand, recalls things differently and says that the payment was not authorized by regional council, but paid through Metro Centre Ltd., a Crown corporation.
When the concerts failed to sell enough tickets, the Halifax Regional Municipality was left on the hook for $359,550.
Halifax Regional Municipality's auditor general, Larry Munroe, is looking into all concert-related transitions between the municipality and MacKay since 2008.
Anstey stepped down on Friday after an investigation by the auditor general found that he broke municipal rules by providing the grant, as well as $1.8 million in cash advances that has been repaid, according to CBC News.
Regardless of who is at fault here, as MacKay has stated, Halifax's concert industry is tarnished.
"I decided that something has to be said here — this is not fair, it’s not right," MacKay said Monday, according to the Chronicle Herald. "And unfortunately now, the damage to future concerts here is tremendous. Artists will ignore this place for sure, now."
— Crystal Lynn Huntoon