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Burlington Approves Auditorium Deal

Burlington has finally completed a private management contract for Memorial Auditorium.

It was back in June when the city requested bids from firms interested in handling the management duties for the facility along the Mississippi River.

Six months later, the city council has signed off on a 5 1/2 year contract with VenuWorks (Ames, Ia.)

Burlington City Manager Jim Ferneau says the company will be paid roughly $80,000 annually, which is similar to the city's current budget for the auditorium.

He says in return, the city wants to see the facility being used more often and improved marketing.

The contract takes effect Jan. 1, 2014. 

Ferneau says VenuWorks has already hired a facility manager.

He says there are still two city employees who work at the auditorium.  They will have an opportunity to be hired by VenuWorks.

Ferneau says people who have booked the auditorium during 2014 do not have to worry as all previous bookings will be honored.

The final vote was 4-1, with Alderman Shane McCampbell casting the lone no vote.

Ferneau says he expressed concerns about the length of the deal, in particular that the opt-out clause cannot be utilized until after three years.

He says this gives the company stability in securing acts.

The contract coincides with a new agreement between Burlington and Burlington Steamboat Days, which prompted the lengthy contract negotiations.

Jason Parrott is a former reporter at Tri States Public Radio.