Pharr reaches agreement in lawsuit over 2014 Toby Keith concert

The city of Pharr and a local promoter appeared in court Monday morning for a hearing related to a lawsuit over a poorly attended 2014 Toby Keith concert in town, in which the promoter alleges he lost nearly a half-million dollars.

In the lawsuit filed on July 27, 2017, the plaintiffs, Raul N. Garcia and Pajaro Promotions are seeking hundreds of thousands of dollars they say are owed to them.

In 2014, then City Manager Fred Sandoval said that the city and promoter, Garcia of Pajaro Productions, went 50/50 on the event. Tickets for the event cost $50 for general admission and $85 for VIP, plus taxes and fees. The event sold 2,199 of the anticipated 12,000 tickets, losing $592,000, or $296,000 for each party.

On Monday morning, the two parties met via Zoom for a hearing in the 93rd state District Court, presided by Judge Fernando Mancias.

William D. Mount Jr., who represents the plaintiffs, said the two parties had reached an agreement over a deposition.

“We just reached an agreement, off the record, which we’ll be filing with the court of rule 11 agreement to pass this hearing and basically put the agreement in writing,” Mount said.

Robert Drinkard, who represents the city of Pharr, summarized the agreement for the record.

“The plaintiffs are going to produce Mr. Raul Garcia for deposition by Dec. 1,” Drinkard said. “We will submit that in writing.”

According to the lawsuit, the plaintiffs entered into a contract with the city of Pharr on June 19, 2014 “to organize and promote a concert featuring country music star Toby Keith.”

The city paid the plaintiffs an advance of $125,000 to secure Keith’s services, as well as to help organize, advertise, and promote the event, the lawsuit states.

The plaintiffs paid a portion of Keith’s fee, while the city contributed an additional $25,000, according to the lawsuit, which alleges that the city agreed to pay the remaining balance upon completion of the event.

“On or about August 15, 2014, Toby Keith performed an outdoor concert at the 1st Annual

Country City Festival in Pharr, Texas,” the lawsuit read. “Due to a variety of factors, the event sold fewer tickets than was originally projected and resulted in the event operating at a substantial loss.”

The plaintiffs go on to claim that the city chose to recover its initial advance of $125,000, but failed to pay the promoters any of the expenses acquired while carrying out their portion of the agreement, including several outstanding invoices.

“Pharr walked away from an invoice of over $400,000 leaving Pajaro Productions financially crippled and irreparably harmed,” the lawsuit read.

The plaintiffs also claim that the city enlisted Garcia to secure naming rights for the Pharr Events Center. Garcia was able to secure a naming rights agreement between the city of Pharr and Boggus Ford worth $300,000. Garcia, however, was not compensated for his services, according to the lawsuit.

“To date, Pajaro Productions has not been paid its outstanding invoices,” the lawsuit read. “As a result, Garcia and Pajaro Productions has suffered irreparable harm to their business and reputation.”

According to a 2014 story in The Monitor, costs included $425,000 paid to Toby Keith, as well as a combined $22,500 to Jack Ingram and seven local openers. There were also costs for band transportation, lodging at La Quinta and backstage catering by Costa Messa and Whataburger, according to invoices obtained by The Monitor in 2014.

Setting up the venue cost event organizers $67,800; insurance cost $19,160; labor and security amounted to $102,358 in expenses; and $38,418 on advertising which included $5,600 spent with The Monitor.

Ticket sales amounted to $80,608 in ticket sales and $45,501 in pre-box tickets, in addition to concessions raking in $21,420 and L&F Distributors, Delia’s Tamales, JD Krane and Boggus Ford making up a combined $24,000 in sponsors.

The city has declined to comment and referred The Monitor to the court record.

Monitor staff writer Mark Reagan contributed to this story.