Wilmington’s confusion over VIP tickets led to wasted taxpayer money

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) – The Wilmington City Council is once again considering purchasing VIP tickets to the Live Oak Bank Pavilion at Riverfront Park from Live Nation. However, at least one council member has expressed concerns and objections to the government’s purchase and subsequent waste of taxpayers’ money.

“My main concern [is] that unused tickets were going to be wasted and it would be a complete waste of taxpayers money – if we weren’t able to resell them to Live Nation and then put them back into circulation and get the taxpayers money back said Luke Waddell. .

When Wilmington City Council first approved the purchase of VIP tickets to Live Nation’s Live Oak Bank Pavilion in Riverfront Park, they also approved an ordinance that would ensure none of the tickets were wasted.

So far, that is what has happened. None of the park’s first season tickets have been used or resold, and this year it’s a similar story.

However, city staff assured the city council that the problems would be corrected if they proceeded with the renewal of the seats.

“They assured me that we will – we will have a procedure in place which will be successful in reselling unused tickets. And we’ll have a procedure in place for a schedule of how those tickets will be used, and how they’ll then be put back into the system once they, once we decide they won’t be [used]”Waddell said.

A policy without procedure

It appears there has been a communication breakdown since Wilmington’s ticketing policy was implemented.

City Manager Tony Caudle made a statement at a budget workshop that implies the city only recently discovered there were tickets to spare.

“We have implemented a makeshift policy this year as a result of the reviews and the fact that we now know we have tickets available and can put them back for resale,” he said during a press conference. budget debate with the city council.

It’s unclear what this “makeshift policy” is about, how it differs from the official policy approved by city council nearly a year ago. Or why, despite the clear language of this policy, staff should create a new policy or wait until there are criticisms to start doing what city council has ordered. It’s also unclear what the statement meant about the city now. knowing that there are tickets that can be resold, especially since Mayor Bill Saffo confirmed Caudle’s role in reselling unused tickets when the policy was passed last year.

“Any unused tickets will be resold through Live Nation or otherwise as permitted by state law. Mr. Caudle, I assume you would advise them that no one will be using the box for this particular concert and they may resell the tickets for us, “ safi said.

A phone call to Caudle’s office was declined and directed to the City’s communications office. However, the communications office was unable to speak on Caudle’s behalf, or explain her statement or the possibility that the City was only recently made aware of the tickets she purchased last year. .

A Wilmington spokesperson issued a statement about the challenges and why the policy has not been implemented and how the city plans to address these issues in the future.

“Although it adopted a policy for tickets, the city did not have a clear procedure for implementing it. The city is actively addressing this by working closely with Live Nation to create a streamlined process that will ensure no tickets go unused. We hope the process will be in place soon. The city remains committed to advancing economic development, and Riverfront Park has established itself as a vital asset to Wilmington’s cultural vibrancy, which will contribute to job creation, job retention, and economic diversification.” , we read in this statement.

Despite the reassurances, Waddell says he still thinks the money shouldn’t be spent on those seats, but agrees that economic development is crucial for the city.

“I personally would like to see it removed, I don’t think we’ll have to vote for it to be done, and again I see the benefits it will ultimately have if used correctly,” he said. -he declares.

The city council’s new budget will need to be approved by July 1, when the new fiscal year begins, once it’s over, that will determine whether or not the city will continue with the program, or scrap it altogether.

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