I Told You So: Westworld

AZCentral reports this morning that Scottsdale’s Westworld equestrian facility expansion project has gone over-budget by 20%. That’s a $9 million ‘oops.’

Some notable quotes from the article:

Due to potential overspending, the city had to find another revenue source to bankroll the art for now.

The Scottsdale City Council recently agreed to tap into savings from the city’s hotel-bed tax to build the sculpture before the city’s event season kicks off in the fall. That tax is used for tourism projects.

The Republic forgot to report that the Tourism Development Commission chose NOT to recommend this bed tax transfer. The City Council approved it in spite of the TDC.

Scottsdale Vice Mayor Virginia Korte said, “My concern is that this total budget has ballooned.”

Yeah, because government projects NEVER go over budget.

Linda Milhaven said, that the equestrian center

“…has just been so poorly managed to have so many overruns and so many add-ons, and the fact a piece in the budget wasn’t even delivered on is very disappointing.”

This from the banker on the city council.

The funding paid to expand the center’s North Hall, where the Barrett-Jackson Collector Car Event auction is held, said Dan Worth, Scottsdale’s public-works executive director.

“It was largely related to our decision to make the North Hall bigger than we originally planned to make it in order to accommodate the auto auction,” Worth said.

Keep in mind that most of Craig Jackson’s transactions pay NO sales tax, thanks to a legislative loophole benefiting out-of-state buyers (and Jackson).

To pay off the debt, Scottsdale is using non-voter-approved bonds backed by revenue from WestWorld operations and the city’s bed tax. Barrett-Jackson, the Arabian Horse Association of Arizona and the Arizona Quarter Horse Association also have agreed to contribute a combined $7.2 million over 20 years.

So, we borrowed over $50 million to build this turkey, and the main users are going to pay an paltry extra $360,000 per year. Wow, that makes a lot of sense.

Scottsdale hired SouthBridge developer Fred Unger’s corporation to market the equestrian center and lure more special events.

The Republic forgot to report that Unger got a multimillion dollar no-bid contract.

Mayor Jim Lane said whether or not the project has been mismanaged, “the fact remains we have a finished product right now.”

And hey, it’s not Lane’s money, so why should he care if it was mismanaged or what it cost?

Scottsdale resident Michael Mayer recently reminded Mayor Lane and the City Council that even with all this spending, it has been 16 years since the Westworld business plan was updated. You’d think they would have done that BEFORE borrowing $50 million.

You may recall that yours truly warned the City Council not to jump into this back on 28 February 2012. You can view my comments via the meeting video at about time index 05:25:00.


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  1. The Palm Beach, Barrett Jackson auction had 100% nationwide TV coverage. Scottsdale’s auction had almost no TV coverage despite building the Guinness World Record facility for Jackson.

    Westworld directors are not the only city directors who should be fired for poor management. I hope Behring roots out all city underperforming directors. Start with a clean slate and hire new college grads who will bring new ideas and enthusiasm to our city. Our “Retreads” can retire at near full salary and social security thanks to the AZ St. Retirement System (ASRS) that politicians soldout taxpayers on.

  2. So how many days a year is this 50 million facility used? Barrett Jackson – a week per year. The Arabian Horse Show – a week per year?? And a few other hair brain events Rose dreams up. The city manager is desperately selling off valuable city property for 3 M and this kind of mismanagement goes on. Milhaven was up in arms about 4 million for pavement which was an override. What genius planner was building this 40-50 million project and didn’t figure it needed a parking lot? Now they are scrambling for $380,000 to install a large horse statue in front of the building. There is something majorly wrong with this picture. When will the citizens of Scottsdale realize if they don’t pay attention to this kind of waste, not only will taxes go up but the next bond issue will be a Billion dollars. I hope Fritz Behring can reign in these types of future projects in including the Desert Discovery Center and get this city to use what resources they have to fix the infrastructure and necessary projects to keep this city viable. We are heading for bankruptcy with some of these outlandish future ideas. Maybe the DDC can find some space in the white elephant at West World and not spend any more money the city doesn’t have.

  3. The old adage “Build it and they will come” doesn’t seem to be working for the 50 million dollar West World addition.

  4. To reinforce the above brilliance of our leaders, I’ve got another good idea! Let’s build light rail down Scottsdale Road.

    Scottsdale will be lucky if it ever passes another bond issue with these current leaders.

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