Riot Costs Hit $500K

The mayor of San Bernardino, Calif., handed National Orange Show directors a bill March 23rd for almost $500,000 in damages and costs from a riot after the British Invasion 2K6 punk concert earlier in the month.

The total of $487,663 included property damage to 62 businesses and $50,500 in lost revenues to 11, according to the San Bernardino County Sun.

A Jack in the Box restaurant reportedly sustained more than $100,000 in damage alone. Police and fire responders clocked in at just less than $147,000 in costs.

Four police officers and two concertgoers were injured in rioting that started when the March 4th punk festival was shut down by police using tear gas because of fighting and a reported stabbing.

“It is now in your hands for your review, and we will talk further about the events,” Mayor Pat Morris told the board before it went into closed session, according to the paper.

National Orange Show Events Center attorney Ron Skipper said that the venue and promoter Ezzat Soliman carried insurance on the event worth $1 million per policy, but he reportedly did not address culpability. All damage claims were being forwarded to the carriers.

San Bernardino officials and the Events Center board are negotiating a Memorandum of Understanding that would tighten security at future events at the fairground, which has lost more than $2.5 million since 2001, according to the Riverside Press-Enterprise.

But business owners and city council members expressed frustration with the board, which has not said much publicly about the incident.

“They’re closing ranks and shielding the outside from looking inside,” business owner Jerald Casillas told the Sun. “They’re going to handle it their way, that’s obvious. It leaves a bitter taste in my mouth.”

City Councilwoman Esther Estrada was even more blunt.

“They should pay for everything; the extra police, the damages, the harm that came to police officers, the harm to the community,” she was quoted as saying. “Every single dime should be put at the Orange Show’s doorstep.”

She added that she intends to push state legislators to give the city more power over events held at the National Orange Show, a state fairground originally built to promote SoCal’s citrus industry.

As it is, the National Orange Show Events Center has seen steadily declining revenues in light of competition from other venues, Indian gaming and satellite off-track betting establishments. In addition, management turmoil is believed by some to have resulted in a lack of sufficient security for the British Invasion 2K6 event.

A month after being awarded a new contract, CEO Brad Randall was suspended by the board, which also replaced two other key execs who had resigned earlier, according to the Press-Enterprise.

One board member, Jim Sivelle, told the paper that Randall’s suspension and other staff vacancies led to the lack of security. Randall reportedly signed the contract for the show with Soliman one week before he was placed on leave.

Had Randall been present in the days and weeks before the show, the CEO would have likely questioned Soliman about actual ticket sales and determined if more security was needed, Sivelle said.