Town Council members are betting that multi-event center fund-raiser Barry Cardinael will find a way to pay for the relocation of the rodeo grounds and are putting town money up front to support his efforts.
At a special meeting of the council Tuesday, Cardinael said he was working on a contract with the Tonto Apache Tribe to name the arena at the event center the "Mazatzal Arena."
When council member Barbara Brewer asked how long it would take for the naming rights agreement to come together, Cardinael said, "It comes down to the fine tuning."
As the naming contract now stands, in exchange for the publicity that would be generated by the name, the tribe would provide $250,000 to the town for relocation of the rodeo grounds from Rumsey Park to the new site across the highway from the Mazatzal Casino.
The council discussed the matter, but will not take any action on the item until a contract has been negotiated with the tribe.
The council gave Town Manager Rich Underkofler the go-ahead Tuesday to extend Cardinael's nine-month contract, which ends April 1, for another six months, and to double his pay, changing him from half-time to full-time status.
As a full-time fund-raiser and volunteer coordinator, Cardinael will receive $4,000 monthly, plus $500 each month for business expenses and mileage. In his original contract, Cardinael was to receive $2,000 a month, plus a total of $5,000 for business expenses, from July 1 through April 1.
Although Cardinael failed to meet his original goal of $400,000, he raised $90,700 in donations and pledges. After meeting expenses for work at the site, $40,000 of that money is on hand. Cardinael has also coordinated the work of volunteers and the donation of materials and equipment from local businesses.
Cardinael told the council that the day the doors open at the new multi-event center, more donations will come pouring in.
Jim Carroll, one of the volunteers on the project, said the community effort at the site has saved the town $468,000.
With 27 volunteers assisting in calling nearly 1,700 homes, Cardinael raised nearly $18,000 through the sale of 80 commemorative bricks, 39 tiles, and 18 granite blocks.
He raised $73,000 from entitlement sponsorships to APS, Payson Regional Medical Center, Energy West and the Mazatzal Casino.
"In 1996, Barry was the only one in the town of Payson to stand up and say that he had a vision for moving the rodeo," Carroll said.
Underkofler said the cost estimate of the remaining work to move the rodeo grounds ranges from $292,000 to $596,000.
The lower estimate is based on the verbal commitments Cardinael has received from various contractors and businesses for reduced costs for work. The higher amount is what Town Engineer LaRon Garrett estimates it will cost to have a single contractor do the work. Garrett is the town staff member who will oversee Cardinael's work on the project.
Cardinael is not alone in his efforts to move the rodeo grounds. There are now 54 members of the Rodeo Relocation Committee headed by Town Council member Ken Murphy.
Cardinael said that ninety percent of the work done thus far at the new site has been accomplished through the efforts of the Payson ProRodeo Committee.
Ernie Schmidt, who spoke during Tuesday's meeting, said, "We need to move the rodeo grounds and to have Barry re-contracted, to take the casino's name and apply it. Take the facility out of Rumsey Park now and put in ball diamonds."
Underkofler said that the town is not looking at actually moving the rodeo grounds from Rumsey Park until after the August rodeo.
Schmidt went on to tell the council that Cardinael has had his detractors who say he hasn't brought in the money. Schmidt said Cardinael has done more than earn his pay.
"When we make money with festivals and rodeos, the town benefits," he said.
Council member Jack Monschein, who motioned to extend Cardinael's contract, said, "The man has done a remarkable job."
The council excluded a section of the agenda item which would make Cardinael manager of the facility. Since no facility currently exists, they agreed that such a position is not needed.
Cardinael concurred with the decision to limit his contract to fund-raising and volunteer coordination.
The vote to extend the contract was unanimous, with all six members of the council voting in favor of the decision. Mayor Vern Stiffler was absent.
In a related matter, the council voted 5-1 to take $150,000 out of the town's contingency fund to pay Cardinael's salary and to relocate the rodeo grounds. This money would be repaid to the contingency fund with donations to the project or from the proposed deal with the tribe. The contingency fund had approximately $300,000 in it.
Hoby Herron, who voted against the motion to take the money from the contingency fund, said after the meeting that he was not opposed to the multi-event center or Cardinael heading the fund-raising efforts.
He voiced concerns about Cardinael's estimated costs for relocation.
"When we have to go out for bids, it's going to be closer to $596,000 than $292,00," Herron said, "in which case they will be having to come back for more than $150,000 from the contingency fund."
He said he simply wanted to keep construction costs to a minimum and hoped that his opposition to the motion would help in that objective.