Commission Reexamines Freedom

Rather than approving a management change at Sterling Heights, Mich.’s once-named Freedom Hill Amphitheatre, Macomb County commissioners voted October 19th to renegotiate Hillside Productions’ contract to operate the venue.

Hillside wants to join with Palace Sports & Entertainment Inc. to form a new company to oversee the venue, which was recently renamed Jerome-Duncan Ford Theatre at Freedom Hill. However, the commissioners’ priority seems to lie in resolving years of dissatisfaction with Hillside, according to The Detroit News.

“We have been complaining about this contract since it’s been signed,” Commissioner Nicholyn Bradenburg was quoted as saying.

Under a proposed deal with the joint venture company, dubbed PSE Hillside, the county would reportedly get a quarter of the shed’s parking revenue (a minimum of $250,000) and 1 percent of ticket sales. But commissioners say that’s not enough, especially since the county has been spending more on utilities and other costs.

“All the benefits have been to Hillside,” Commissioner Diana Kolakowski said, according to the News. “There is very little (that’s) beneficial to the county.”

A call to Hillside Productions was not returned at press time.

Hillside joined forces this past summer with PSE, which owns The Palace Of Auburn Hills, to co-promote events at the Freedom Hill shed.

The amphitheatre’s operators have battled the city of Sterling Heights for years, with Hillside accusing city officials of harassment. The city eventually paid Hillside $31 million to settle the allegations.