SBD/Issue 152/Facilities & Venues

Qualcomm Stadium Security Firm's No-Bid Deal Comes Under Fire

City Officials Say Decision To Use Elite Without
Bids Through 2035 Never Formalized
City of San Diego officials more than two years ago decided to have Elite Show Services “provide 24-hour security at Qualcomm Stadium through 2035 without seeking competitive bids,” according to Jeff McDonald of the SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE. About the same time, the city “began requiring short-term tenants such as dog shows to hire the firm for staffing -- work that goes beyond crowd control to include ushering, ticket-taking and other services.” The “long-term security arrangement, which would be worth at least $24[M], only came to light last week after a rival staffing company filed a claim against the city.” City officials now said that their “internal decision to use Elite without bids through 2035 was never formalized as a contract.” They are “preparing a new five-year stadium-security proposal to go out to bid within one year but are still using Elite in the meantime.” The city has paid Elite $835,000 "each of the past two years, up from $450,000 for most of 2006-07.” Stadium officials said that the increase was “because of an added overnight guard and city requirements for minimum pay for contractor employees.” Elite President & CEO John Kontopuls said that he “was unaware of the city’s internal approval of a long-term arrangement -- or the city policy requiring short-term tenants to hire his firm for event-day staffing.” Procurement experts said that the city’s decision to “use one contractor without bids for decades [is] unheard of -- unless the job is extremely skilled or can only be performed by a handful of companies.” However, Qualcomm Stadium Manager Mike McSweeney said that "having just one security provider helps the city and fans." McSweeney: "By having Elite Show Services in the building for all events, we create a consistency in service and emergency response." Elite holds contracts with "every major Qualcomm Stadium tenant," including the Chargers, San Diego State Univ., and the Holiday and Poinsettia bowls. The company "also provides staffing at Petco Park"  (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 4/25).

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