MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) - It started with a heated pre-council meeting, then ended with a vote against the Saenger management contract with SMG Management and Huka Entertainment.
Huka and SMG won the bid to manage the Saenger, which was a point brought up during the Tuesday, September 10 vote.
The Mobile City Council voted down the Saenger management contract with SMG Management and Huka Entertainment by a vote of 4 to 3, five votes are needed for approval. Council members Gina Gregory, John Williams and Bess Rich voted against it.
It's not a done deal, however. The contract can be put back on the agenda next week, and might have a better chance.
Rich has been outspoken about the contract although now could be leaning the other way.
"I just spoke to the council attorney and I think if we can offer some benchmarks and there's apparently an out clause I was not familiar with, that if it's not in there can be written in according to legal council so that's what I'll be looking for," said Councilmember Rich.
Rich said one of those benchmarks would cap the city's contribution to $200,000, which is what is in the proposed budget. However, will SMG and Huka stick around?
"Patience is a virtue as they say and you know we feel very strongly about Mobile and downtown especially and we think it worth the wait," said Sam Voisin with SMG.
Voisin said if and when the Saenger makes a profit, the city would get 75 percent and SMG and Huka would get 25 percent.
"It's rare in this industry to give a guarantee of a performance based contract of this nature because typically it's a flat management fee. In this model we feel so strongly about the success," said Voisin.
All of the council members said they plan to revisit this contract at next week's council meeting, when another vote is expected.
SMG currently manages the Mobile Civic Center and the Mobile Convention Center. Huka Entertainment is known in the area for big festivals including the Hangout Music Festival.
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