Scottsdale will continue to try to reach a multi-year agreement with the Barrett-Jackson Auction Co., but the deal may no longer be "long-term."
Mayor Mary Manross said during a City Council meeting Tuesday that she would be willing to explore a shorter-term deal with Barrett-Jackson rather than the proposed 20-year deal that has continually stalled over land, parking and facility issues at city-operated WestWorld of Scottsdale.
"We'll figure out together how to move forward," said Manross, who displayed optimism at the ability to reach a deal with the auction house. "We can have a two-, three- or four-year contract so we don't have to revisit this every year."
Manross said meetings would occur between the city and Barrett-Jackson, but no date was set. Barrett-Jackson has a year-to-year contract with Scottsdale that gives it an annual option to return to WestWorld. Barrett-Jackson also holds a smaller show in Palm Beach, Fla., and is launching its first Las Vegas show in October.
Jason Rose, a Barrett-Jackson spokesman, said Tuesday he was not prepared to comment because he had not seen what took place at the meeting.
The council discussion, held just two days after the conclusion of the 37th annual show that saw a dip in sales revenue but record attendance, was made at the request of Councilman Jim Lane, who wanted an update on the negotiations.
Lane proposed a citizen committee led by prominent Scottsdale residents Jim Bruner, Virginia Korte and Charlie Smith to negotiate with Barrett-Jackson and make a recommendation to the council, but it garnered no support from his colleagues.
Last spring, Manross announced she was taking over negotiations from City Manager Jan Dolan after Barrett-Jackson Chairman Craig Jackson said he was walking away from a long-term contract at WestWorld for good.
At the time, Jackson said Scottsdale officials had set up a situation where the city wouldn't build an $80 million event center at WestWorld to house the growing auction, or sell him up to seven acres of land at the facility adjacent to the eight acres he currently owns so he can build his own auction house.
A meeting between Barrett-Jackson and Manross happened last May, and although Manross called the discussion positive, neither side made any new offers.
The meetings tapered off after that, until December, when Manross met with the auction house and its new business partner, Endeavor Capital. Portland, Ore.-based Endeavor acquired a significant minority share of Barrett-Jackson in September. The two sides called the affair a "meet-and-greet," and Barrett-Jackson representatives said it was not an indicator that negotiations were resuming.
During the 2008 event that ended Sunday, there were more than $88 million in sales and record attendance of about 280,000. The total sales figure, however, declined from $112 million in 2007.