Com­pany protests Pier Six con­tract pro­ceed­ings

Baltimore Sun - - MARYLAND - By Sarah Gantz sarah.gantz@balt­sun.com

AEG Live Mid-At­lantic, one of the en­ter­tain­ment com­pa­nies passed over for a con­tract to op­er­ate Bal­ti­more’s Pier Six Pav­il­ion, filed a for­mal protest Mon­day with the city Board of Es­ti­mates, which is tasked with ap­prov­ing the con­tract.

The Bal­ti­more De­vel­op­ment Corp. an­nounced in Septem­ber that it had en­tered into ex­clu­sive negotiations with Live Na­tion and SMG to take over man­age­ment of the out­door con­cert venue at the In­ner Har­bor be­gin­ning in 2017, when the city’s con­tract with cur­rent op­er­a­tor the Cordish Cos. ex­pires.

The Board of Es­ti­mates is sched­uled to re­view Wed­nes­day a rec­om­men­da­tion to ap­prove a seven-year con­tract with Live Na­tion and SMG, one of three groups that bid to take over the con­tract. Rams Head Group, which man­aged the venue un­der the Cordish con­tract, also bid.

AEG, which runs Rams Head Live in Bal­ti­more, is now seek­ing to block the deal. In a Nov. 28 let­ter to the board, AEG al­leges that the BDC vi­o­lated the city char­ter by seek­ing en­hanced bids af­ter the ini­tial bid­ding process had closed, pos­si­bly giv­ing an ad­van­tage to other con­tenders.

“The ra­tio­nale for the en­hanced bid re­quests has not been pub­licly dis­closed and the lack of trans­parency raises ques­tions about the in­tegrity of the en­tire process and thereby the rec­om­men­da­tion of any bid at this time,” said A. Wil­liam Reid, se­nior vice pres­i­dent of AEG Live Mid-At­lantic, in the let­ter.

In his let­ter, Reid also takes is­sue with the fact that the BDC did not host in-per­son pre­sen­ta­tions with bid­ders, even though AEG re­quested a meet­ing sev­eral times. The city also has not re­leased orig­i­nal bid doc­u­ments that AEG asked for in a Septem­ber pub­lic in­for­ma­tion re­quest, ac­cord­ing to the let­ter.

The BDC de­clined to com­ment on the protest, as did Live Na­tion.

Bal­ti­more City Coun­cil Pres­i­dent Bernard C. “Jack” Young, who serves as pres­i­dent of the Board of Es­ti­mates, will “care­fully scru­ti­nize” the protest in prepa­ra­tion for the Wed­nes­day meet­ing, a spokesman said.

While many items on the board’s agenda are moved through as rou­tine ap­provals, those for which some­one has filed a for­mal protest are heard in­di­vid­u­ally.

The board could de­cide to ap­prove the con­tract any­way or post­pone a de­ci­sion.

In its re­quest for pro­pos­als, the BDC sought a venue man­ager that would in­crease the num­ber of events at the venue, ex­tend the length of the con­cert sea­son, in­crease the venue’s prof­itabil­ity and cre­ate a cap­i­tal im­prove­ment pro­gram to fund up­grades.

In Septem­ber, the BDC­said the city chose to move for­ward with Live Na­tion and SMG be­cause it had the largest cap­i­tal im­prove­ment pro­gram and the most op­ti­mal re­turns for the city.

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