Collector-car auctioneers trade barbs over empty land
Scottsdale’s three collector-car auctions are a month away, but a long-simmering dispute between Barrett-Jackson and Russo and Steele boiled over like an overheated radiator last week.
The latest skirmish involves empty real estate at Hayden Road and Loop 101 that Russo co-owner Drew Alcazar wanted to use for his 11th annual auction, moving the event a mile east from Scottsdale Road and Loop 101.
Craig Jackson, Barrett-Jackson Auction Co. chairman, objected to Russo moving to the state land at Hayden and 101, saying he needs the site for overflow parking during his 40th annual auction at WestWorld.
“We can’t co-exist using the same piece of property,” Jackson said, later suggesting that Alcazar move his event a week later to “see if he can survive on his own.”
Alcazar, who worked for Jackson before starting his own event, accused Jackson of being anti-competitive and using his lobbying muscle to block his move to the Hayden site.
“Barrett-Jackson succeeded in delaying (the move), derailing it and putting us under duress,” Alcazar said. “They sort of won.”
Russo and Steele will return to its Scottsdale Road site for its auction Jan. 19-23. It is trying to recover from a calamitous storm that blew down its tents last year and did millions of dollars in damages to classic cars.
The much-larger Barrett-Jackson auction is Jan. 17-23 in the massive tent at WestWorld.
Gooding and Co., in its fourth year in Scottsdale, will hold its auction Jan. 21-22 at Scottsdale Fashion Square. RM Auctions is Jan. 20-21 at the Arizona Biltmore in Phoenix.
Russo sought city deal
Scottsdale had been working on an agreement that would have allowed Russo to move to a 25-acre site southwest of Hayden and 101 and put down an asphalt pad for one year, with a possibility of extending the deal for five more years.
The city manages 380 acres of state land at Hayden and 101 under a special land-use permit with the Arizona State Land Department that is up for renewal in June. Alcazar said he could not risk investing close to $200,000 to grade and pave a 45,000-square-foot area without having a long-term deal in place, especially with Barrett-Jackson objecting to the move.
“I’m not asking for a sweetheart contract like Craig gets at Scottsdale,” Alcazar said.
“We do our own little thing, we contribute to the tax base of the city of Scottsdale,” he added.
Scottsdale nixes relocation
Jackson accused Alcazar of trying “to pull a fast one” in announcing a move to the Hayden site before he had a deal.
“He’s trying to play me like I’m a bully,” Jackson said. “But he had no such agreement.”
Barrett-Jackson relies on the Hayden site for overflow parking that becomes vital if wet weather washes out some of its parking at WestWorld and on the soccer fields near the TPC Scottsdale.
Scottsdale initially indicated it would allow Russo to move to the Hayden site but later decided against the relocation.
Brian Dygert, WestWorld general manager, sent an e-mail to Alcazar on Nov. 19 indicating the Hayden site was an option for Russo’s 2011 auction.
Four days later, Dygert informed Alcazar that the city “is unable to fulfill your requests for the 2011 event.”
Scottsdale tried to figure out a way to accommodate both events, but that turned out to be too complex.
Barrett-Jackson, which conducted its first auction at the former Safari Resort downtown in 1971, has been operating at WestWorld since 1989.
Dygart declined to comment on whether Alcazar is correct in claiming that Barrett-Jackson gets favorable treatment from the city.
“I can’t speak on that one,” Dygert said. “I’m kind of a middle guy. . . . I take direction like everybody else.”
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