Not So Pro Sports

Not So Pro Sports

June 09, 2010 11:57 ET

More Shocking Revelations on Boardwalk Pub Matter

Beach Volleyball Operator Calls Tuggs Inc. "Mom and Pop" Facade a Joke

Reveals Tuggs Ran Corporate Beach Volleyball Events On City Land and Attempted to Take His Beach Volleyball Business Away From Him

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - June 9, 2010) - John Morrison, the founder and creator of the thriving beach volleyball community at Ashbridge's Bay whose latest contract with the City may have been spiked to pave the way for the City's controversial 20-year concessions and sponsorship deal with Tuggs Inc., says the picture being painted of Tuggs and the Boardwalk Pub as a simple little family restaurant is all wrong.

"It is patently absurd for Sandra Bussin to try to characterize them as a humble Mom and Pop family operation who deserve the City's empathy," said Morrison, who worked side by side to the Tuggs Inc. Boardwalk Pub for the last 14 years on Ashbridge's Bay beach. "It's a joke."

Morrison says that as early as 2003, Tuggs Inc. began selling corporate volleyball events at Ashbridge's Bay beach, using (for free) the 85 volleyball courts that sat on the City land Morrison's company had to pay $200,000 per summer to lease and also using the poles and net systems that Morrison had paid for and personally installed with his father.

Morrison said his company first received a letter in 2003 from a staff member at the Boardwalk Pub indicating that Tuggs Inc. was selling corporate events that included a combination of beach volleyball and food services. This was not part of Tuggs Inc.'s contract with the City. 

And in 2004, Tuggs Inc. and the Boardwalk Pub actually partnered with another proponent on a bid against Morrison's company in the RFP for a ten-year lease of the beach volleyball courts at Ashbridge's Bay beach. 

The bid was deemed ineligible by Management Committee.

"They tried to take my entire beach volleyball business away from me," said Morrison. "Mom and Pop my ass."

Morrison went on to say that as information continues to come out on the Tuggs matter, he believes more and more that his company's contract had to be gotten out of the way to pave the way for the City's 20-year sponsorship deal with Tuggs Inc. 

The City had written into Morrison's beach volleyball contract that no sponsorship was allowed within 100 feet of the 85 beach volleyball courts at Ashbridge's Bay. 

Had the City renewed that contract for the second five-year term (2010-2014) that Morrison had won the right to through his RFP, it would have prevented Tuggs from getting access to the thousands of beach volleyball players who are the only reason any sponsor would ever be interested in the first place. 

And it could have thrown a wrench into potentially lucrative beach volleyball sponsorship opportunities for the Pan Am Games.

In a May 23, 2010 newspaper article, George Foulidis, the owner of Tuggs Inc., said the City will be getting more money from a "new sponsorship model" that didn't previously exist to them.

The article went on to say the Tuggs Inc. plan is to assign a team of employees to find big corporate sponsors like Molson to back events on the Beaches (i.e. beach volleyball events), sponsors that would then give him and the City a cut of the action.

Yesterday's Star article said Tuggs' rent will stay the same but, under a new sponsorship-driven business model, the city will receive only 15 per cent of gross revenue from events and activities at the beach, which the Foulidis family won the right to coordinate. This is 5 per cent less than a 2007 Tuggs offer.

Morrison says there are two things about this that are just plain wrong.

First, the deal goes against official City policy.

The 20-year deal the City just passed in the last Council meeting was not based on Tuggs' 2007 proposal. It was based on a new and completely different 2009 proposal, including $1.4 million less to the city and a five per cent reduction in the sponsorship percentage to the City.

The City passed a policy in 2007 making it mandatory for unsolicited proposals like the 2007 Tuggs proposal to be put out for competitive bidding. The City, in 2007, was willing to make an exception for Tuggs Inc. on their 2007 proposal.

However, for three years now it has been official City policy that it be mandatory for an unsolicited proposal like the new 2009 Tuggs Inc. proposal to be put to a competitive bidding process.

"The fact the City passed this unsolicited 2009 Tuggs proposal is shocking," said Morrison. "It is against City policy, plain and simple."

More importantly, says Morrison, it is a terrible deal for taxpayers.

"Fifteen per cent to the City?" he asked. "It's a horrible deal. Events will be taking place on City property, for goodness sake. It should be more like sixty-forty with sixty to the City."

Morrison said the sponsorship rights could be worth tens of millions of dollars if not more and, if television rights are part of those sponsorship rights, with the Pan Am Games coming and an opportunity to showcase beach volleyball at the best beach volleyball venue in North America at Ashbridge's Bay, the City may live to regret a decision that could end up hurting taxpayers dearly.

"If they pass this," said Morrison, "they could be costing taxpayers a massive amount of money."

Morrison says the bottom line is that either Tuggs Inc. is a Mom and Pop restaurant operation or it isn't.

If it is, that's fine. Let them run their restaurant, period. But why would you ever hand over lucrative sponsorship rights to the most prime beach volleyball land in North America for 20 years to a Mom and Pop restaurant? It makes no sense.

If it is more than a Mom and Pop restaurant operation, why would you ever hand over lucrative sponsorship rights to the most prime beach volleyball land in North America for 20 years without putting it to a competitive bidding process?

The City can't have it both ways.

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