City, event promoter collide over monster truck show (w/gallery)

Bianca Montes By Bianca Montes

Jan. 11, 2014 at 11 p.m.
Updated Jan. 11, 2014 at 7:12 p.m.

Orville Hill, 51, of Florida, drives in the first round of freestyle monster truck event at the Winter Nationals Monsters and Motorsports Spectacular car show. Hill disqualified himself after the first round because of  a faulty cylinder in his monster truck.

Orville Hill, 51, of Florida, drives in the first round of freestyle monster truck event at the Winter Nationals Monsters and Motorsports Spectacular car show. Hill disqualified himself after the first round because of a faulty cylinder in his monster truck.

Without notice, event producers of the Winter Nationals Monsters and Motorsports Spectacular canceled its Saturday afternoon event, refusing to give ticket holders a refund.

Regina Bryan, who planned to take her son to the event for his fourth birthday, said her children were devastated about missing the event.

"Somebody should have been there to see these boys and girls just crying," she said. "These kids were devastated. They broke a lot of hearts."

The matinee event, which was scheduled at 2 p.m., was specifically designed for children, promising the first 500 a free toy. Afternoon ticket holders were able to use their tickets at the the evening show, which started at 7:30 p.m.

"They didn't understand why we couldn't go," she said. "And I couldn't explain it to them."

Other than a few signs posted around the community center saying the show had been canceled, Bryan said there weren't any representatives available to explain, and when she tried to get some answers at the Rent A Tire on North Navarro Street, where she purchased the tickets, the manager refused to come out of his office and talk to her and employees asked her to leave the property.

"I was really upset with the way Rent A Tire handled the situation," she said. "They were very rude and inconsiderate. I'm just asking for information, a number to call. I don't understand why they wouldn't help me."

A manager at Rent A Tire said the event promoters had already picked up all of the cash from the store, and he did not have any money to return to customers. He also said the event promoter, Ron Woodbridge, said to tell customers that there absolutely would not be any refunds.

Rent A Tire has sold tickets before for Race Track Promotions, the company that produced the truck show, and the manager said this is the first problem they've run into.

"We probably won't sell tickets for them next year," he said. "It makes us look bad - it's just bad business."

The Advocate attempted to contact Woodbridge for an interview. He said he was too busy to talk.

Another promoter for the event, Steve Quercio, who is in California, said he would uphold any refund to customers who were unable to use their ticket at the evening show but then changed his mind and said to tell them to contact the Victoria Community Center.

Quercio said it was the community center's fault that he had to cancel the event.

Race Track Promotions leased the arena from the community center for $550 for the day. The promoters with Victoria Comic Con rented the dome at the center, also for the day, paying $1,150, said Colby VanGundy, Parks and Recreation director.

VanGundy said it is not uncommon to rent both areas at the community center at the same time and that events with larger attendance rates have amicably leased both areas without incident.

"(Quercio) made his own choice to cancel the show," VanGundy said. "The community center will not give refunds."

Christopher Webb, who attended the truck show last year with his son, returned this year with all three of his children only to walk away disappointed, he said.

"My poor kids," he said. "They were so excited. They were completely bummed out, and they just wanted to know why, and no one was there to say anything."

Webb said he was shocked with the way Race Track Promotions handled its affairs.

He said he waited in line for 45 minutes for an explanation but was only told that the event was canceled because the community center was double-booked.

Quercio said trying to have the event at the same time as the comic convention would have been a mess.

Because the two events would have used the same entrance, he said he would be unable to sell additional tickets in front of the entrance.

Quercio said he's rented the arena at the community center for the past five years, and it has never booked another event with him before. He also said he was not informed that there would be another event at the center during his event.

"Don't you think it's common courtesy to tell us?" he said.

VanGundy said he didn't know whether it was customary for parks and recreation to tell a lessee that two events would be booked on the same day.

Quercio said he also was upset that the center leased the concession stand to the comic convention promoters because he typically sells food at the event. According to the community center's website, the concession stand also is available for lease. VanGundy said promoters of the monster truck show chose not to rent the stand.

VanGundy said he met with promoters of both the truck show and of comic con Friday night to work out a plan to split the center's front entrance and block off the concession stand so only comic con attendees could access it.

As of 5:30 p.m. Friday, VanGundy said, everyone seemed to be OK with the plan. It was not until Saturday morning that he learned the truck show had been canceled.

VanGundy also said he would talk to City Manager Charmelle Garrett about whether the city would rent to the monster truck promoters again.



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