Crystal balling

Apparently there’s some confusion over at the Michigan State Fair regarding the future of its lease with theater mogul Joe Nederlander. We know for certain that Fair Advisory Council Chairman Philip Novell and General Manager John Hertel met with Michigan Department of Management and Budget Director Duane Berger in Lansing last November to discuss the Nederlander deal. That deal was supposed to have put the Detroit landmark on solid financial ground by generating loads of revenue year round. But, as attentive readers know (“Down at the Fair,” Metro Times, Nov. 14-20) the whole thing’s been a giant flop mired in controversy.

Novell reported back to the State Fair Advisory Council in December, — according to draft minutes from that meeting — that he, Hertel and Berger all agreed Nederlander’s Fairgrounds Park and Development Group is in serious default of the lease and there’s no good reason to continue the troubled relationship.

Not so, swear folks at the DMB, which oversees the lease. Berger’s assistant, Tony DeShane, states unequivocally that there’s been no decision to cancel the agreement. Either Novell and Hertel misunderstood exactly what was said during their chat with Berger, says DeShane, or the draft minutes are incorrect.

However, the minutes clearly show that the bulk of December’s fair council meeting was spent discussing cancellation of the lease; specifically, the council talked about having Hertel’s crew create a plan showing how the fair can turn a profit without Nederlander’s involvement.

“Soon,” said Novell, according to the minutes, “we will begin the necessary steps to regain control of the property.”

So, was the fair board meeting all one big oops? We’re peering into the News Hits crystal ball as we speak, and though things are a bit murky, we are getting visions of a state fair with no Joe Nederlander.

News Hits is edited by Curt Guyette, Metro Times news editor. Call 313-202-8004 or e-mail [email protected]
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