Holden and Arrigo say they’re ‘disappointed’ with NBC decision on Miss USA broadcast, but still mum on resolution
Mayor Kip Holden and Visit Baton Rouge President and CEO Paul Arrigo broke their silence this afternoon about NBC’s decision not to air the Miss USA pageant live from Baton Rouge on July 12 as scheduled—but they aren’t saying much.
“While we are disappointed with recent events, we want to make sure the Miss USA contestants, their families and visitors from all over experience Baton Rouge in the best way possible,” reads a three-sentence written statement from the officials, the first public comments they’ve made on the NBC decisions since it was announced Monday. “We know all of our locals will roll out the red carpet for our guests as they visit the unique attractions throughout the region. We want them to be welcomed with the warm southern hospitality that Baton Rouge is known for.”
An aide to Holden had told local media outlets Monday that the mayor would not comment “until we hear whether this matter can be resolved.” Today’s statement does not address any possible resolutions to the drama.
As Daily Report reported this morning, the contract Baton Rouge officials inked with the Miss USA pageant to provide $280,000 in city-parish funds to lure the event back to the city never required a global broadcast. But supporting documents provided to the Metro Council when they approved the allocation in April show the estimated value of the broadcast at $20 million, according to records obtained by Daily Report.
The return on Baton Rouge’s investment—which is just a portion of the $545,000 in total provided to the pageant by other agencies in Louisiana—was thrown into question with the NBC announcement, which came in response to comments that pageant co-owner and GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump made about Mexican immigrants when announcing his candidacy recently.
Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne also issued a statement today, saying he has spoken with pageant officials and assured them that the show will go on. Dardenne has also reportedly said that his office—which oversees a total of $65,000 in state incentives pledged to the pageant—will not make the payments if a new broadcaster cannot be found to air the pageant.
“The pageant is taking place as scheduled … and I am staying in touch with Miss Universe officials to evaluate the broadcasting situation before committing additional state resources,” Dardenne’s statement reads.
Metro Councilman John Delgado, an attorney, told Daily Report on Monday that he doesn’t see any avenue for Baton Rouge to attempt to withdraw the $280,000 it pledged to the pageant. But this afternoon, Delgado publicly released a letter he sent to city-parish Chief Administrative Officer William Daniel saying he does believe the Miss USA pageant has breached its contract.
In the letter, Delgado points to a clause in the hosting agreement Miss USA inked with Visit Baton Rouge, which is predicated on the “substantial economic and positive publicity” that would have been generated by the pageant. Delgado says that as a third-party beneficiary to that agreement, the city-parish can argue a breach of its contract with Miss USA. He asks city-parish officials to suspend any payments to the pageant in the letter.
“At the end of the day, we want them to have the pageant and move forward, but we were spending the money because we wanted the advertising from the broadcast,” Delgado tells Daily Report. “Without the broadcast, I believe this is a misuse of public funds.”
This year marks the second straight that the Miss USA Pageant is being held in Baton Rouge. Last year’s event took place before a sold-out Baton Rouge River Center crowd and was aired live on NBC. About 70 countries saw the broadcast, which included many flattering shots of the Capital City.