More than $1.25 million in VIP area and concession stand upgrades to Huber Heights' $18 million music center remains on the table, and it's unclear when — if at all — the city will move forward with the additional costs.
The projects remain in limbo after it was revealed last week in the Administration Committee that a pair of music center change orders approved earlier this year set the stage for these additional costs, but staff did not communicate that information to council at the time.
The two change orders totaling $323,751 impacting the two main concession stands and the VIP concession stand were approved in May and June of this year.
That dollar amount was taken from the contingency fund, which is part of the music center’s $18 million budget, city officials said.
“I thought a change order was if there’s bad dirt or we ran into something that needed to be changed,” said Councilman Mark Campbell, chair of the Administration Committee. “For change orders to knowingly result in $1 million in expenditures, that’s serious stuff in my book. … We were backed into a corner here, and that’s appalling.”
As a result, City Council is expected to send the three pieces of legislation — $400,000 for the VIP area, $99,000 for VIP improvements and $758,879.78 for concession stand upgrades — to a fifth reading at Monday night’s meeting.
Campbell also said a cost/benefit analysis needs to be presented before council votes on the projects.
“The change orders resulted in committing the projects to further expenses that I don’t believe was dealt with when the change orders were discussed,” city attorney Alan Schaeffer said at last week’s meeting.
Schaeffer and City Manager Rob Schommer could not be reached for comment for this story.
“The modification of the footprint for the concession stands basically put us on a path for that (money),” Schommer said at the meeting.
Construction of the 4,500-seat covered music center at 6800 Executive Boulevard was expected to be completed by late summer.
Project manager Ken Conaway said he expects the venue to be finished by the end of the year, but the delay in projects has presented an “inability to finalize a scope of work and a revised schedule.”
City officials have said the upgrades will pay for themselves in increased concession revenue and sponsorship opportunities, and no general fund money will be used to pay for the projects.
The city's management company, Music and Event Management, Inc., is "waiting for us because they don't know what the final product will be," Councilwoman Jan Vargo said. "We can't drag our feet on this. I'd like for us to move as quickly as possible."
Council unanimously approved a $184,440 change order May 12 and a $139,310 change order June 9 for concession stand revisions.
“It’s absolutely essential you build out these concession stands,” Michael Smith, executive vice president and CEO of MEMI, said to the committee last week. “If you take care of the customer first, you’ll never be unsuccessful. They’ll want to come back.”
Assistant city manager Scott Falkowski previously said the city’s debt service is projected to be $81,084 a year over a 27-year period. The VIP sponsorship is projected to generate $40,000 in revenue per year, and the concession upgrades should increase revenue to $62,000 annually.
Mike Seibert, president of Circuits & Cables in Vandalia, has expressed an interest in sponsoring the VIP area.
The VIP area was part of the scope of work originally approved last year by the Huber Heights planning commission and Montgomery County. Conaway said the VIP area is 85 percent complete.
The VIP area will feature a private concession area, private restrooms, dining tent, landscaping, and a separate entrance and parking area.
The two main concession stands will be 2,049 square feet each. Upgrades include plumbing, electrical and kitchen equipment, including coolers, pizza ovens, gas grills and food tables.
Huber Heights is modeling its music center after the PNC Pavilion in Cincinnati.