City OKs Jackson-events contract
GARY | Gary has contracted with a newly formed group to host a multi-venued festival in the city honoring Michael Jackson.
The Gary Board of Public Works approved a one-year contract Wednesday with an Addison, Ill.-based group LGR Partners. The contract is renewable up to four years.
Under its proposal, LGR would host an August festival commemorating Jackson's summer birth and death.
City spokeswoman LaLosa Burns called LGR's proposal of a Legends Weekend "inviting." She said hosting such events can be "a very good economic development tool" for beleaguered cities such as Gary.
The group could relieve the city of celebration duties it took on following the King of Pop's death in June 2009.
The city arranged a large-scale memorial at the U.S. Steelyard weeks after the singer died and another at the Jackson family home on the one-year anniversary of his death.
Under the city's contract, LGR would front all of costs of hosting its events, including execution and clean-up. City lawyer Susan Severtson described LGR as "special events coordinators, marketing experts."
"We're not paying them," Severtson said.
The project will be funded on private sponsorships and investments, LGR partner and spokesman Jeff Funderburg said.
Under the deal, once LGR covers its expenses, Severtson said, it then would donate 20 percent of any profits back to the city.
Severtson did not provide a copy of the contract, saying it would be fully executed when signed by Mayor Rudy Clay, who was in Indianapolis Wednesday.
She said the city wants to review the group's incorporation documents before finalizing the deal.
Funderburg said the group, incorporated in Delaware, recently formed specifically for the Jackson proposal. He said LGR also has been in talks about hosting a June memorial with the so-called Jackson Family Foundation, the group trying to build a $300 million shrine to the Jacksons in the Steel City.
"We're supportive of each other's interests," Funderburg said of the foundation.
Severtson said the new contract was not in response to a bid from the city. Rather, she said LGR approached city officials several months ago with the plan.
"It sounded like something we wanted to try out," she said. "Hopefully it will be successful."