Branson Convention Center signs threaten selected convention center clients

Sign threatening to tow convention center clients.

The content of the temporary signs gave fair warning and did not bode well for those attending the FLW Stren Championship. They read, “Reserved For Ozark Mountain Bank-No Parking for FLW Stren Championship Violators will be towed.”

At 12:50 on Nov. 7 the signs were conspicuously posted on about 25 of the parking spaces in the city of Branson’s parking lot located immediately off the main south entrance to the Convention Center. The temporary signs were interspersed with permanent signs reading “Ozark Mountain Bank Permit Parking Only.”

The official event calendar on the Convention Centers web site indicated two main scheduled events for the day, the “FLW Stren Series Championship” and “Branson Veterans Task Force” (BVTF). There was no mention of the “Branson Veterans Task Force” on the temporary signs in the parking lot only the “FLW Stren Series Championship.”

The event calendar describes the Stren Championship as “$1 million bass-fishing championship for the Stren Series. Tournament includes free Family Fun Zone and Outdoor Show Nov. 7-8 at the Branson Convention Center and indicates the tournament’s weigh in will be at 4:00 p.m. on both days.” For the BTVF event it says it’s the new location for the BVTF Tactical Operations Center (TOC) and that the Headquarters & Vendor Village will be located at the Convention Center and be open from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. daily November 6 through 10.

The city of Branson was contacted about the wording on the signs and its potential counterproductive impact on a major organization using the convention center for their event. The city furnished a copy of a lease signed on April 5, 2006 between the city of Branson and Ozark Mountain Bank (OMB) specifically providing for the leasing of 25 parking spaces in the lot on the “terms set forth herein.”

Under the terms of the lease OMB pays a “monthly rent rate” of $30.00 for each space and the city must designate “a total of twenty five (25) parking spaces in the Parking Lot” for OMB’s use. The lease further states that each “Parking Space shall be designated by the City in the Parking Lot by signage which indicates reservation of such spaces for the exclusive use of OMB during the hours set forth in Section 6.1 below.”

Neither the permanent signs nor the temporary signs had any hours on them. Section 6.1 of the lease states “The Parking Lot” shall be open for use by Parking Licenses during the hours of ___ a.m. to ____p.m. Monday through Friday.” There was no time filled in either blank. Further, there is no requirement in the lease for the city to post event specific signs threatening to tow the vehicles of those Branson guests holding events in the convention center.

When the city was initially unable to answer questions about the wording of the signs threatening to tow vehicles and why only one of the events being held at the convention center was mentioned OMB was contacted. Roger Frieze, Director of Marketing for OMB said the signs were not their signs, they would not “have worded it that way,” OMB did not put up or authorize the signs and did not know who had. Calls back to the city indicated that perhaps Hilton, as the manager of the city’s Convention Center would know.

Bill Derbins General Manager, Hiltons of Branson said they put up the temporary signs, in addition to the permanent signs, a few times a year to protect the OMB leased spaces so they didn’t get complaints from OMB. He said that the effected clients are told about the temporary signs prior to their signing a contract. When asked if the notification was part of the contract Derbins said it was not but that it was made to the “contact person.” He offered no rationale why the signs only contained the name of one of the organizations with scheduled events during the day.

The “Wal-Mart FLW Stren Series Championship” is a major national bass fishing tournament being held at Table Rock Lake Nov. 5 to 8 which was sponsored by the Branson/Lakes Area Convention and Visitor’s Bureau. Lynn Berry, Director of Public Relations for the CVB estimates that the public relations value of the tournament and the televised weigh-in on Fox Sports Network South to Branson will be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Berry pointed out that the CVB is sponsoring one of the six major qualifying “Wal-Mart FLW Tour” tournaments on Table Rock Lake March 12-15, 2009.

A drive through the convention center parking lot at about 3:00 p.m. indicated the temporary signs had been removed.

Furnished Courtesy of the Branson Daily Independent.

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