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Missoula PaddleHeads sue Logjam Presents, City of Missoula
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Missoula PaddleHeads sue Logjam Presents, City of Missoula

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File photo for lawsuit story

The Mumford & Sons concert and rain on Aug. 11, 2019, caused considerable damage in right center field at Ogren-Allegiance Park. In this 2019 file photo, a groundskeeper works on the soggy area. 

MISSOULA — The Missoula PaddleHeads minor league baseball team is suing Logjam Presents production company and the City of Missoula for revenue lost last season due to field damages during a Mumford & Sons concert.

The Aug. 11 show, sponsored by Logjam Presents, left behind a major mess at Ogren-Allegiance Park for the team formerly known as the Osprey. A heavy rainstorm preceded the concert and soaked the field. Between the heavy equipment and foot traffic, Allegiance Field received a beating that left the PaddleHeads organization in scramble mode.

The PaddleHeads are seeking reimbursement for revenue lost over the course of six scheduled games that could not be played at their home venue. The team had to play almost all of its August games on the road.

"It's just unfortunate that we had to take the steps we did today," PaddleHeads vice president Matt Ellis said. "It's been one year since the Mumford & Sons concert and today we filed a complaint.

"Unfortunately we had to include the City of Missoula in that suit because we're contracted with them for damages from the event. Despite Logjam's acknowledgement of the damage caused by the concert and their assertion they would make good, they haven't done that yet. Even with the success of the concert, they've failed to provide any solution to the damages created, which totaled about $250,000."

Ellis credited Missoula Mayor John Engen with brokering a deal among Logjam, the City of Missoula and the PaddleHeads in February. Ellis said the city has made good on its promises, repairing the sod this past spring and reimbursing the PaddleHeads for damages through its insurance.

According to an anonymous source from Logjam Presents, the production company did not receive adequate documentation to support the amount requested in the PaddleHeads' claim and therefore could not reach an agreement. ​In addition, there has been no attempt by the PaddleHeads, according to the official, to reach Logjam since April.

The official also stressed that discussions with the PaddleHeads were put on hold in April because Logjam had to focus on the impact of COVID-19 on the entertainment industry. According to the Logjam source, the lawsuit is in the hands of an insurance carrier now and Logjam believes it has adequate coverage from its carrier.

"We've been trying to reengage (Logjam Presents) but despite our best efforts, they told us directly that the only way we were going to get our damages is to sue them," Ellis claimed. "We've been informed this is really the only recourse we have. We're hoping it will spur some action from Logjam to solve this in an amicable way."

The city owns the stadium, referred to in the filing as Civic Stadium, and leases it to both the PaddleHeads and Logjam.

The filing notes Logjam made capital improvements to the stadium allowing for a larger crowd size. Previously, according to the lawsuit, the largest concert at the stadium had approximately 8,000 people in attendance; the modifications made for this concert allowed for a fire marshal-approved crowd of up to 10,000 people. 

Logjam disputes that number, stating that the fire marshal approved a crowd of 14,000 and there were less than 13,000 in attendance. 

Tickets went on sale on March 22, 2019, and reportedly sold out in two hours. It was clear to the sports organization, according to the lawsuit, that attendance would exceed 10,000.

After the event, the Missoulian reported 13,500 tickets were sold to the event. 

The lawsuit also offers Logjam's dispute of the claim — beyond the rainstorm that prompted a flash flood warning — that the production company failed to mitigate the damage. According to the filing, the city and Logjam now claim that the PaddleHeads organization saturated the field with its irrigation system before the concert setup, and is therefore responsible for the damage. Indeed, ground crews watered the outfield grass on Aug. 7, 2019, a day before production crews began setting up for the concert. The PaddleHeads organization argues watering the outfield grass before it is covered for multiple days is "a proper and accepted practice."

The city and Logjam only brought this claim to the PaddleHeads office after the baseball organization presented its claim for damages, according to the filing. 

The claims in the lawsuit include breach of contract, breach of good faith and fair dealing and negligence.

Missoulian reporter Seaborn Larson contributed to this story.

Bill Speltz is Missoulian Sports Editor and has served as Sunday columnist the past 14 years. Do you have a story idea? Email Bill at bill.speltz@missoulian.com.

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