City Rejects nTelos Plan

Negotiations over a new contract between the managers of NTELOS Pavilion @ Harbor Center and the city of Portsmouth, Va., are continuing, despite the city’s rejection of a proposal that would require it to pay nearly $1 million for roof repairs and reimbursement of facility improvements.

Harbor Center Joint Venture, which operates nTelos Pavilion, and the city have been locked in an increasingly testy battle since last fall’s discovery that Portsmouth failed to properly oversee the finances or performance of the city-owned venue.

Despite the latest setback, Portsmouth and HCJV officials hope to hammer out an agreement yet, and in time to book a successful season at the 6,500-seat shed. But they recognize time is running short.

“No one can afford for this to go on any longer,” Councilman Ray A. Smith Sr. told The Virginian-Pilot. “If this doesn’t work, we’re going to see a dark nTelos, and possibly some litigation in the court. It’s got to be it.”

The newspaper has cited Pollstar‘s concert listings for the upcoming nTelos Pavilion season, noting that at press time, only three concerts were listed. However, Bill Reid, president of Rising Tide Productions and a partner in HCJV, told Pollstar those were only the shows the company was ready to announce and that there are several more awaiting final contract details and on-sale dates before he’s ready to formally announce them.

Meanwhile, venue employees have reportedly been laid off, at least temporarily.

“We have not closed up shop over at Harbor Center,” HCJV attorney Todd Fiorella told the newspaper. “But when there are concerns about whether we are going to be able to earn revenues, we have to address our costs. We are addressing some cost concerns.”

Reid emphasized he isn’t giving up hope on the concert season.

“We remain very optimistic,” Reid told Pollstar. “There’s some issues to do with the repairs to the roof that the city hasn’t done yet. We’re encouraging them to get those repairs done to everybody’s satisfaction.”

The city council has reportedly agreed to a break on rent and a $250,000 subsidy in the form of a support fund for community events and classical concerts that aren’t necessarily big money-makers.

Both sides seem to agree on most of the points of the proposal to date, but the deal keeps getting hung up over money.

“The long and short of it is the city has admitted it owes us money for equipment we bought on its behalf,” Reid insisted. “But, the second thing is the amount of damages we sustained due to Hurricane Isabel (in 2003) and the roof’s not functioning. We’re still negotiating over that. And that’s kind of where we are.”