Dear stakeholders of Great American Ballpark,
I have been in the events business for fifteen years, and I understand that plans change, things come up, and accidents happen. I have worked with brides and event planners to reschedule at the last minute or find a new venue because something happened. However, this does not excuse negligent behavior, nor does it allow for a total disregard for signed contracts.
I booked my fifth annual After Hours Bridal Show at Great American Ballpark nearly one year ago, after an outstanding event in 2016. My vendors were happy, the attendees were ecstatic, and everything went really, really well. Representatives of GABP even commented that it was the best show they’ve ever done with us. The facility at GABP is perfect for the show, and I have received wonderful feedback since the show’s inaugural year.
I was anticipating another strong year in 2017, until I received a seemingly nonchalant phone call from Great American Ball Park on January 24th. The event is scheduled for March 8, 2017 (confirmed in the contract and in FIVE different emails, last email dated October of 2016), and, as I mentioned, I have had this date on the books with a signed contract since early last year. The voicemail from GABP explained they were “Getting ready for our conference call tomorrow and I have found a discrepancy in the schedule and the contract.”
The Manager of Special Events Sales and Marketing, who signed the contract, asked to be excused from the situation and passed me on up the ladder after sending a text to me saying, “Don’t worry…I will personally resolve this and you will have a great event.” On January 27th, I spoke with a Vice President over the phone. They both explained that March 8th was double booked and they have gone above and beyond to make sure they can accommodate our show (letting us in 3 hours prior to the show). At that point they mentioned I was being difficult because I wasn’t understanding and I needed agree to their terms, which violated my contracts with my vendors and really forcing people to drop everything and get downtown at 3pm, rush, set up, and be ready within such a short time. Not to mention at this point I have no control over the breakdown of the first group. I had already spent over $13,000 on advertising the show, and relocating the show with such short notice, and without being able to change all of my advertising was simply impossible. There is a reason for the last FIVE years we have set up the night before. I always want to protect myself and our clients so I asked to have in the contract that we have entry from 7am. Well that doesn’t mean anything anymore because the space is booked that morning now and we are allowed to get in a few hours prior to the show. The group prior to us will break down, load out, and then all of our vendors will come in. All of this in a matter of a few hours. The contract clearly states we have admission into the Champions Club & Handlebar starting at 7am. This means nothing anymore because there is someone else that is there. So disappointing.
This experience has been the worst of my career. The Vice President was rude, demeaning, and degrading. I was happy to work with GAPB until that phone call and until I got the message that the person who told me she would personally handle this has asked to be excused. They were unprofessional, and essentially repeated that they had double-booked March 8th because there was another client offering them more revenue so they couldn’t cancel their contract which was recently signed. I didn’t feel comfortable getting back on the phone the next Monday so – I asked to record the next phone call, but they refused and said they were unaware I had contacted an attorney, however, it was stated in previous emails.
Does a signed contract not mean anything anymore? I can tell you with certainty that it doesn’t to Great American Ballpark. I believe my contract was signed at least six months before their other client’s contract for March 8th, yet I am the one getting “adjusted” because my event isn’t bringing in more revenue? What about the advertising they have gotten for years through our organization? The many events we have pushed their way and have hosted. Partnerships and favors that we have done over the years? A contract is being broken and it is coming down to dollars and cents.
Now that I have gotten a lawyer involved, the staff at GABP has agreed to do whatever they can to make sure my event happens on time. I have realized I really have no choice. I must continue the show and agree to their terms. They made a deal with the other client to end their event at 2pm and let me setup Wednesday afternoon for our evening event. I want to be honest – The ballpark offered to let my vendors drop their displays off and store them on-site for the day. However, it isn’t fair for me to force my clients to leave all of their displays unattended for seven to ten hours.
Yes – At 2pm the Reds will tear down the previous event’s booths and start setting up booths for my vendors. They are offering to bring in more staff in order to facilitate, however, how can I sleep knowing I have no control over a previous breakdown. How can one get so many people out of their doors using the same elevators we are. My concern was it is in March. The weather has been cold and in the past at 530 we have a line going outside of the door and I want to be able to open at 530 if the weather is bad, but how can I accommodate everyone at this point when none of it is really in my hands? I thought I protected myself by putting all of this in a signed contract. That we need entry by 7am so I can come in and set up my show and then call vendors in as we always have. I am thankful for the partnerships of A Bride’s Mafia and support behind us that are coming down to make sure we produce a wonderful event for our Bride’s!
As most of you know, planning an event is stressful in and of itself. Getting news like we did so close to the event’s date was bad enough, but I will not stand for being degraded and demeaned because I signed a contract first. GABP isn’t just insulting me by not following the terms they agreed to, they are demeaning the entire show: all of my vendors and all of the brides in attendance.
Being treated that way was terrible, and I am asking you to stand together as we always have. We are going to make a difference.
We are going to build a platform to make sure no one is treated this way by GABP in the future, and we are going to make sure that our brides, vendors, clients, and partners are protected.
If you are so inclined, please feel free to reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org (Manager of Special Events Sales & Marketing and also my contact for the show), email@example.com (Vice President) and firstname.lastname@example.org (Chief Legal Officer). Please copy email@example.com to it so that we can share our story with the proper channels and make sure this doesn’t happen to someone else in the future! Tell them you matter and you don’t appreciate being treated like this and that this isn’t fair. A contract means something, a relationship means something, and how can we continue to support an organization like theirs that we all have come to respect when they do something like this. Their brand/reputation meant something to so many of us. They are suppose to be leaders – they are the Cincinnati Reds!
If it were up to me, I would cancel the show. I don’t throw things together, and I don’t expect vendors to setup their decadent displays and beautiful booths in three hours. I put on a grandiose show: an experience for vendors and brides alike. I have never thrown a show together, and (unlike GABP) I honor my contracts with my vendors.
However, my only option is to move forward and hope that the vendors understand my situation, and that the brides show up to support us and what we stand behind and an experience that they will enjoy. Every single person from my team will make sure that each and every person that comes through sees what we are all about and I will personally make sure I have a full hands on deck to make sure none of our vendors/attendees are inconvenienced the way that we were.
I look forward to producing another outstanding show for my brides, in the spirit of the last five years! Unfortunately, this will be my last year holding the event at GABP. I refuse to be insulted and treated so poorly, and I won’t let GABP demean my partners, vendors, and brides like this.
I appreciate your attention and look forward to seeing you March 8th, 2017 at the Afterhours Bridal Show at Great American Ball Park from 6-9!
Complimentary tickets available at: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/afterhours-bridal-show-at-great-american-ball-park-tickets-30724869913
A Bride’s Mafia