City’s VIP box seats largely unused and costing taxpayers thousands

City’s VIP box seats largely unused and costing taxpayers thousands
Published: Sep. 23, 2022 at 4:59 PM EDT
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - The Wilmington City Council’s purchase of VIP Box seats here at the Live Oak Bank Pavilion were supposed to be for economic development, but last year they only cost taxpayers money after it was revealed that none of the tickets had been used. The tickets cost taxpayers around $14,000, and with 20 concerts that comes out to about $700 per show.

City Policy requires staff to list any unused tickets online for resale, but that didn’t happen last year, leading to all of those tickets going to waste.

City of Wilmington Spokesperson Jennifer Dandron says that since then, things have changed, and at least two of the box seats for concerts this year have been used.

“We have worked those issues out and developed a procedure that allows us to efficiently sell the tickets. Now that we’ve adopted that, those procedures,” she said.

As for the rest, they were put up for resale but the city isn’t recuperating all the money they spent.

“We did see that the tickets that were not used by our economic development partner did not get sold. And that’s because the public just didn’t purchase them, they were available to be sold, we went through all the proper processes, but no one purchased them,” she said.

In terms of economic development, the city hoped these tickets could be used to attract businesses to the area.

“We know that when big companies are looking for a place, they’re looking for a place that has a good quality of life. And that’s one of the great benefits of Riverfront Park. And so this year we did use them for economic development. WE partnered with the Wilmington Film Commission, who were able to use it to try and help bring more film here. We know that film is such a great part of our local economy, so it aligned with our economic development goals,” she said.

Dandron also said one of the other challenges of selling these tickets apart from the cost is the fact they can’t be split up and have to be sold in a pack of four.

City Council approved the purchase during this year’s budget session but not without debate amongst councilmembers. Dandron said the failure to resell the tickets came down to having a policy in place without any procedure.

“We had the policy in place, but we didn’t necessarily have the procedures in place to sell the tickets that weren’t used. Now, in this concert season, we have worked those issues out and developed a procedure that allows us to efficiently sell the tickets,” she said.

Note: Jennifer Dandon is related to WECT investigative reporter Michael Praats. Jennifer Dandron had no control over any editorial, reporting, or writing decisions in this article.