Convention Group, CVB Tussle Over Scheduling Conflict in Cincinnati

In July, Cincinnati hosted the Major League Baseball All-Star Game for the first time since 1988. Although it was a big win for the city, it was a big loss for one convention group, the Fraternal Order of Eagles (FOE), a community service organization that claims it was ousted from the city when it won the privilege of hosting the All-Star Game. 

FOE signed a contract with Cincinnati in 2010 to host its annual convention in both 2015 and 2018. The 2015 convention, which was to take place the same week as the All-Star Game, had to be moved to Milwaukee at great expense, according to the organization, because the Cincinnati USA Convention & Visitors Bureau failed to provide it with adequate notice of the scheduling conflict.

"Despite what [the] CVB says, they only alerted us verbally about the All-Star Game's actual date on Aug. 13, 2013, and in writing on Oct. 31, 2013. This was almost three years after the initial contract was signed," said FOE Convention Director Steve Tolman, who claims he found out about the All-Star Game when he read a press release about it the prior January. He subsequently contacted the CVB, he said, and was told -- months later -- that his only choices were to change the dates of the convention or receive $25,000 in compensation to move it to another city.

The CVB's response, Tolman contends, has been "unsatisfactory and dismissive."

The CVB -- which made two settlement offers that FOE rejected -- claims otherwise. "All such efforts towards resolutions of this contractual matter were made in a timely and professional manner, intended to give the FOE as much time as possible to make other suitable alternative conventional arrangements and to provide compensation for verified costs associated with moving the July 2015 FOE Convention to Milwaukee," said Assistant City Solicitor Roshani Hardin, according to local newspaper The Cincinnati Enquirer.

While news of the feud originally broke in July, this month FOE added to its charges: It claims that Cincinnati promised a renovation of its convention hotel, the Millennium Hotel Cincinnati, but failed to deliver.

"It is generally acknowledged that the convention property … is subpar," FOE asserted in a press release last week.

FOE -- which says it has donated more than $32 million to Ohio and Cincinnati charities over the last seven years -- remains under contract with Cincinnati for its 2018 convention, but is considering legal action against the city.   

"We are very concerned about how the CVB and the city will treat us in 2018," Tolman said. "The Eagles have no dispute with [the] CVB about seizing the great opportunity to host the MLB All-Star Game. But had [the] CVB lived up to the standards of hospitality, respect, and integrity it claims in its literature, this matter would have been successfully resolved long ago."

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