1

Big Sky baseball sues the city of Missoula, Logjam Presents over 2019 concert fallout

The suit filed by Big Sky Professional Baseball accuses the city of Missoula of breach of contract, and breach of good faith and fair dealing. It charges the city and Logjam Presents each with negligence. (Martin Kidston/Missoula Current file photo)

Big Sky Professional Baseball on Tuesday filed suit against the city of Missoula and a local entertainment promoter claiming it suffered losses due to damage caused to Civic Stadium following a rainstorm and concert in 2019.

The suit accuses the city of Missoula of breach of contract, and breach of good faith and fair dealing. It charges the city and Logjam Presents each with negligence.

The suit is seeking judgment for all damages, economic damages, attorney fees and “other relief” as the court deems just. Neither the city nor Logjam Presents were immediately available for comment.

According the suit, Logjam entered into a lease agreement with the city for use of Civic Stadium in July 2018. The Missoula City Council approved that lease in August and deemed it as a “win-win” since Mountain Baseball was struggling to pay its lease agreement on the stadium.

The lease agreement with Logjam lowered the baseball organization’s lease payment to $40,000, down from $120,000. Logjam also agreed to establish a maintenance fund based on ticket sales. The stadium had no maintenance fund previously.

Two years later and amid a pandemic, the suit claims that Big Sky baseball wasn’t given a chance to provide meaningful input regarding use of the stadium for larger concerts.

The suit cites more than a dozen claims, including the city’s failure to consider the interests of Big Sky baseball, its failure to consider the playing field’s capacity and limitations, and its failure to take the necessary precautions to protect the field.

“Logjam knew that special efforts, including special efforts to protect the playing field, were necessary to produce large concerts at the Civic Stadium, specifically the sold-out Mumford (and Sons) concert, in the Civic Stadium, which was not designed for that purpose,” the suit claims.

The Mumford and Sons concert attracted a crowd of around 13,000 people, the suit suggests. It was held after a torrential rain storm, which left the field soggy and wet.

According to the suit, damage to the field forced the Missoula Osprey to cancel six professional baseball games, totaling more than $230,000. The team has since changed its name to the Missoula Paddleheads.

The City accepted liability for the damages and arranged payment to Big Sky baseball totaling $35,000. The suit claims that Logjam also admitted liability for the damages and agreed to contribute $10,000 toward the advance payment to the league arranged by the City.

Big Sky baseball is seeking a jury trial and the cost of damages, lost revenue and other financial matters.

The Missoula City Council in 2018 ratified the agreement struck with the Missoula Osprey and Logjam Presents to make greater use of Civic Stadium, and to bring the city more financial security in paying the facility’s debt.

The three-way agreement reduced the professional baseball team’s crippling annual lease from $120,000 to $40,000 a year. It also gave Logjam Presents exclusive rights to hold up to eight concerts or comedy acts annually for $70,000.

“In the end, this provides more security to the city in terms of our ability to pay the mortgage,” Missoula Mayor John Engen said at the time. “It allows us to build a maintenance fund and improve that facility. I wouldn’t be surprised if over time, as a function of this agreement, we’re able to make tenant improvements to make that facility all the more viable.”