Last month we reported that Russo and Steele was relocating the site of its annual Scottsdale Auction event, choosing to remain in Scottsdale, Arizona, but moving to a new venue to the east of its previous location. Scratch that. Russo and Steele will not move to the new location, but instead will upgrade the current venue with a new tent and other improvements.
Here is the Russo and Steele press release, dated December 9, 2010:
Russo and Steele Collector Automobile Auctions, announced today that they have decided to return to their traditional auction venue in order to better serve their clients. After announcing their new event site last month, the City of Scottsdale found itself in a familiar, but complex situation when Barrett-Jackson submitted a competing request days after learning that the site was to be Russo and Steele’s new location. The competing request was filed under the guise of “additional parking needs.” Having already approved the extended terms and venue location which were announced for Russo and Steele, the City was once again placed in a difficult position, as it sought to meet the needs of both events.
Following additional days of discussion with the City of Scottsdale, Russo and Steele decided not to indulge a public media showdown; the relationship between Barrett-Jackson and the City of Scottsdale is well known and a dispute now would take valuable time away from Russo and Steele’s preparations for its 11th Annual Scottsdale Auction Event. Due to the required time lines of site preparation, including asphalt improvements and the required cure times – Russo and Steele elected to focus on upgrading its long-established home in North Scottsdale instead of concentrating on this latest attempt to derail their historic comeback this January. The decision allows the collector car hobby to preserve the Scottsdale auction synergy and Russo and Steele to continue to foster the valued relationship with Scottsdale; its host for over ten years.
“Our number one priority is to our clients. The traditional venue location is already prepared providing easy access off Scottsdale Road and outstanding visibility off the North Loop 101. Our clients can prepare for a dramatic change to the event site featuring our new Losberger main auction structure. Manufactured in Germany, this new structure will afford an “all encompassing environment” in which to hold all the event elements including the main auction block, vehicle staging, vendors, sponsors and all the amenities that Russo and Steele is uniquely known for.”
When asked about the decision to take the high road and not currently dispute Barrett-Jackson’s intentional interference Drew Alcazar, owner of Russo and Steele, said “I admit, it is unfortunate that this situation had to occur at all, but I’d like to thank all those who worked so diligently to assist us in securing the agreement in the first place. Russo and Steele’s venue change was predicated on the ability to use asphalt and implement additional upgrades, not because of anything that occurred on the traditional site. This year Russo and Steele’s event represents a paradigm shift. Many significant changes have been designed to create a venue in which car collectors and hobbyists will be duly impressed.” Alcazar continued, “We will produce an event that I want to attend myself, an event that’s exciting to me. And that camaraderie, what we call at Russo and Steele ‘By Enthusiasts, For Enthusiasts,’ extends to everyone who has passion for great cars.”
Alcazar concluded by saying; “Russo and Steele’s goal is to have every client, enthusiast, sponsor and attendee enjoy the 11th Annual auction event and say ‘Wow, these guys took a huge hit last year and look at how they responded!’ That’s the statement we’re looking to make. And we’ve already heard great things from our clients — the excitement they’re feeling and the changes we’re making will only continue getting better as we move forward.”
Update: Barrett-Jackson responded to Russo and Steele with the following press release, dated December 16, 2010:
Officials with the Barrett-Jackson Auction Company have responded to erroneous information in a news release issued by Russo and Steele on Dec. 9, 2010. Barrett-Jackson Auction Company, which produces “The World’s Greatest Collector Car Auctions”, will celebrate its 40th anniversary with an unprecedented automotive lifestyle event at Westworld in Scottsdale from Jan. 17-23, 2011.
“In support of our long-standing relationship with the City of Scottsdale, we felt strongly that we had to set the record straight regarding information publicly disseminated by Russo and Steele that is patently false,” stated Craig Jackson, chairman and CEO of Barrett-Jackson. “It’s unfortunate that we find ourselves in the position of having to defend our actions in connection with a routine business matter,” said Jackson, “but we feel strongly that our customers deserve to know the truth.”
Barrett-Jackson had been working with the City of Scottsdale since the beginning of summer 2010 to prepare the parking and traffic routing plans in preparation for its 40th Anniversary January Auction in Scottsdale. Officials with Barrett-Jackson were therefore surprised to read in various October edition newspaper articles that Russo and Steele was reporting that their company had a signed agreement for a new auction location on one of the parcels of land that was included in Barrett-Jackson’s parking plan. The announcement meant the other auction would encroach upon the property that has historically been part of the Barrett-Jackson parking plan and would significantly impact traffic flow in the neighboring community.
“With over 200,000 people expected to attend the 40th anniversary Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale event, it’s critical to offer adequate parking for the public,” continued Jackson. “Our operations team has worked closely with local officials for many years to identify the best areas for use in routing incoming traffic, marshalling public shuttles and preparing overflow parking areas in the event of inclement weather. All of these plans are made with the best interests of the company’s customers and the residents of Scottsdale in mind.”
Barrett-Jackson confirmed through public records that Russo and Steele in fact had no signed agreement with the City of Scottsdale or the Arizona Land Department, the entities responsible for approving use of public land for such purposes. It was further confirmed by Barrett-Jackson that the City of Scottsdale had declined Russo and Steele’s request for the new location.
Barrett-Jackson has been a paying tenant at WestWorld in North Scottsdale since 1989. The event facility typically hosts events much smaller than Barrett-Jackson. This has required Barrett-Jackson to lease additional parcels of property in North Scottsdale for attendee parking. As Barrett-Jackson’s event has grown in the past decade, the company has used as many as four additional plots of land during the event to accommodate auction crowds, including the parcel sought by Russo and Steele for its own use. The area’s other large annual public event, the Waste Management Phoenix Open, takes an approach similar to Barrett-Jackson’s for leasing multiple parcels of land for attendee parking.
“We didn’t expect any challenge to our use of this property as we have been using the same area consistently for the past several years,” added Jackson. “We were surprised when another company attempted to relocate their event to this location. That specific land is an important component of the operations plan for our Scottsdale event. There are many other locations in the valley available for lease. We have also suggested that Russo and Steele could hold their event on different dates that don’t conflict with Barrett-Jackson week, as that would solve the problem for everyone involved.”
The City of Scottsdale has committed use of the land to Barrett-Jackson to ensure adequate parking, facilitate traffic flow and minimize traffic disruptions to the communities in and around North Scottsdale that are closest to the Barrett-Jackson event at WestWorld. Barrett-Jackson utilizes the ancillary land strictly for parking, which is consistent with guidelines within the State Land Use Permit agreement.
“It’s unfortunate that Russo and Steele is disseminating information that is not true,” added Jackson. “This situation was avoidable and it’s unfortunate for the industry as a whole.”
The cornerstone of Barrett-Jackson’s business is fairness and accurate representation of facts to the public and the company’s customers. These principles are the reason Barrett-Jackson was recognized as one of the Ethisphere Institute’s 2010 World’s Most Ethical Companies.
Barrett-Jackson will celebrate its anniversary with an unprecedented automotive lifestyle event in Scottsdale. The milestone event will include a collector car auction at WestWorld, the 2nd annual Scottsdale road rally, a cruise-in and many other exciting activities. SPEED will broadcast 40 hours of live coverage to commemorate the 40th anniversary during the six action-packed auction days.
“We’ve moved on from this situation and our team is focused on putting on a great event for our customers and the thousands who will travel to Scottsdale to attend Barrett-Jackson,” noted Steve Davis, president of Barrett-Jackson. “With 40 hours of live, international television coverage on SPEED, we’ll also provide an unprecedented platform for promoting the City of Scottsdale and the greater Phoenix area throughout our weeklong event.”
[Source: Russo and Steele; Barrett-Jackson]