Nick Checota And City Of Missoula Are Getting Sued By The Paddleheads

by William Skink

When it rains, it pours is an idiom that means when something bad happens other bad things usually happen at the same time.

And what is an idiom? An idiom is a group of words established by usage as having a meaning not deducible from those of the individual words.

What got me thinking about this idiom is the ironic fact that a literal downpour last summer has contributed to this idiom becoming true for Nick Checota who, according to NBC Montana, is being sued (along with the city of Missoula) by the owner of the Paddleheads.

If it wasn’t for that specially crafted Jon Tester umbrella, Checota would really be getting drenched right now.

From the first link:

Big Sky Professional Baseball (BSPB) is suing Logjam Presents, a concert promoter, and the city of Missoula over a muddy mess left from a concert and massive rain storm one year ago Tuesday.

August 8, 2019 a massive rainstorm almost canceled the Mumford and Sons concert.

The weather cleared in time and Logjam Productions continued with the show. Officials say 13,000 people attended that concert. Big Sky Professional Baseball claims the crowd was supposed to only top 10,000. And, in their lawsuit filed in Missoula County District Court, managers claim the club suffered severe financial loss.

After the Covid monkey wrench wrecked Checota’s Big D(rift) plans (plans that would have sucked up 16.5 million in public money so the public could own a parking garage), this year-old August downpour is still dumping, and since the city of Missoula is involved, so are we, the taxpayers.

With the event center’s groundbreaking still up in the air, it might be worth taking some time to look at the legal document about how the Engen and Checota show roll with the primary lease holder of the baseball stadium that was designed for baseball, not big music concerts.

You can read the whole document at the link. Here’s a peek:

14. BSPB was not meaningfully consulted by the City or Logjam prior to the execution of the Subordinate Lease Agreement in relation to considerations, specifications or limitations of the Civic Stadium in regard to its intended use by Logjam. In particular, BSPB was not given the opportunity to provide meaningfulinput regarding the use of the Civic Stadium for large concerts as Logjamannounced to the public it intended to hold at the Civic Stadium. BSPB was not given the opportunity to provide meaningful input regarding any matters relating to the carrying capacity of the playing field for equipment or crowds or appropriate limitations on the use of the Civic Stadium playing field by Logjam.

Later in the legal complaint we discover how Logjam and the City are trying to weasel out of accountability:

48. The City and Logjam now claim that BSPB saturated the field with its irrigation system before the concert set up and is responsible for the damage caused by the Mumford Concert.

49. In fact, the grass outfield was watered in the regular course of groundsupkeep on Tuesday, August 7, 2019, a day before the set up began in the CivicStadium for the Mumford Concert. It is a proper and accepted practice to water theoutfield grass before it is going to be covered for multiple days. The wateringcycle in advance of the concert set up was normal, one which allows for baseball to be played on the surface a short time later. Pictures taken at the time of the set up clearly demonstrate the playing field was not saturated as a result of the routine watering of the playing field by BSPB.

The document is 64 pages long and includes pictures taken of the field after the concert, the full text of the lease agreement, and quotes from local media, like the Missoula Current and the Missoulian. Here is another relevant excerpt:

73. BSPB has taken numerous steps in the year following the Mumford Concert to resolve the claims outlined in this Complaint with the City and Logjam. Notwithstanding their admission of liability and agreement to compensate BSPB for their clear damages, the positions of the City and Logjam have been inconsistent and fluid. At one point, the City and Logjam agreed to resolve the claims and BSPB compromised its significant loss in order to avoid litigation.After agreeing to a resolution, Logjam refused to proceed. This filing is a last resort by BSPB due to the severe economic damage it suffered at the hands of the City and Logjam.

If this is how the Engen and Checota show roll with lease-holding Paddleheads and the stadium the public was conned (see a pattern here?) into building, how do you think they’re going to roll with a big, sexy event center on the Clark Fork?

Is it too late for Tester to add a rider on that ENCORES bailout that bans any music venue owner tied up in litigation from receiving funds?

About Travis Mateer

I'm an artist and citizen journalist living and writing in Montana. You can contact me here: willskink at yahoo dot com
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3 Responses to Nick Checota And City Of Missoula Are Getting Sued By The Paddleheads

  1. TC says:

    While would you say about Checota/Logjam may have merit, it is very hard to feel sorry for the Missoula baseball concern. The City (ie Engen) was integral in supplying them TIF money to build the stadium and then bailing them out upon financial failure by buying the stadium and gifting it back to baseball with a sweetheart lease. The only reason Logjam was brought in to sublet was because the City/Baseball was a huge sucking money pit spanning decades.
    If that wasn’t enough new carpetbagging owners were allowed to come in and change name (history) and assume existing sweetheart deal with no re-negotiation of lease terms.
    This whole fiasco goes back to Engen’s business brilliance and his back-room relationship with Matt Ellis (who somehow keeps ending up on CIty Committees despite His business brilliance).
    For the baseball organization to have the gall to sue after decades of sucking from that community teat – yes removes all sympathy.

    • good points, and I’m certainly not intending to generate any sympathy for the Paddleheads ownership with this post–all three parties disgust me with their sense of entitlement to public funds.

      The Missoula Current article has this bit in their reporting:

      The Missoula City Council in 2018 ratified the agreement struck with the Missoula Osprey and Logjam Presents to make greater use of Civic Stadium, and to bring the city more financial security in paying the facility’s debt.

      The three-way agreement reduced the professional baseball team’s crippling annual lease from $120,000 to $40,000 a year. It also gave Logjam Presents exclusive rights to hold up to eight concerts or comedy acts annually for $70,000.

      “In the end, this provides more security to the city in terms of our ability to pay the mortgage,” Missoula Mayor John Engen said at the time.

      the stadium has been a clusterfuck of financing woes since that old banker dude, Hal Fraser, died. instead of those local investors taking a haircut when the financing blew up after his death, Engen and the city came riding in to the rescue.

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