Barrett-Jackson Collector Car Auction representatives and Scottsdale officials are playing down a recent meeting between Mayor Mary Manross, the auction house and its new business partner, Endeavor Capital.
The city and the auction house have held stop-and-go negotiations over a contract to keep the $100 million event at WestWorld of Scottsdale for the next 20 years, although talks have been stalled for months.
Endeavor acquired a significant minority share of Barrett-Jackson in September. City and auction house officials said a Dec. 5 meeting between Manross; Patrick Van Den Bossche, Barrett-Jackson’s chief operating officer; Roger Klingler, assistant city manager; and Mark Dorman, Endeavor managing director, was to introduce Endeavor to city officials.
“It was a meet-and-greet, nothing more,” said Barrett-Jackson publicist Jason Rose. “It was just for Mark to better understand the issues in Scottsdale.”
Manross did not return a phone call seeking comment.
Endeavour Capital, based in Portland, Ore., specializes in private equity investments and family-owned businesses. The company has a portfolio that includes such diverse investments as grocery stores, transportation and logistics companies, hotel management businesses, food and beverage distributors and even Grand Canyon University.
Rose said the meeting is not an indicator that the city and Barrett-Jackson are ready to begin contract negotiations once again.
“That remains to be seen,” he said.
Pat Dodds, city spokesman, called the meeting informal and “very positive.” The two sides often hold meetings leading up to the annual car auction, to be held Jan. 12-20, Dodds said.
“It’s not unusual for us to be in meetings with Barrett-Jackson this time of year. Their event is coming up,” he said. “That was the purpose of the meeting, to introduce Mark to the mayor.”
CEO Craig Jackson has said repeatedly that talks with Scottsdale officials on a long-term agreement to keep the auction at WestWorld, 16601 N. Pima Road, have reached an impasse since the city dropped an $80 million multiuse building at WestWorld from the budget earlier this year, refused to sell Jackson land to build his own auction house there and declined to open up nearly 80 acres for parking.
Jackson had been threatening for months to scale back his lucrative collector car auction in Scottsdale in favor of Las Vegas. In May, he gave Scottsdale an ultimatum — that the city make concessions in negotiating a 20-year deal to keep the auction at WestWorld or the local event could be scaled back to focus on a new Las Vegas event.
In October, Jackson announced that the new event would be Oct. 16-18 at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas.
Jackson had previously said that only about 1,000 cars would be auctioned at the Scottsdale event in 2008, compared with the 1,270 in 2007, attributing the reduction partly to the lack of progress by Scottsdale in making improvements to WestWorld.
But this month, he said there would be no significant reduction next year.