Holiday lights show operator sues Rosemont, Chicago Dogs

  • The operator of the Amaze Light Festival last winter at Impact Field in Rosemont has sued the village and Chicago Dogs baseball team for breach of contract.

    The operator of the Amaze Light Festival last winter at Impact Field in Rosemont has sued the village and Chicago Dogs baseball team for breach of contract. Courtesy of Matt Zuro

 
 
Updated 5/9/2022 8:20 PM

The operator of Amaze Winter Festival is suing Rosemont and the Chicago Dogs, alleging breach of contract in a dispute over the promotion and operation of the holiday lights show last winter at Impact Field.

Lemont-based Artistic Holiday Designs alleges in a court filing that the village and the minor league baseball team, operating as Rosemont Entertainment Group LLC, didn't pay their initial share of capital costs for the festival, stymied efforts to put on a quality show and manufactured reasons to artificially depress the value of the fest so as to deprive the company of its share of revenues.

 

The family-friendly holiday attraction ran from last Nov. 12 to Jan. 2 at the village-owned stadium. The lawsuit, filed April 13 in Cook County court, seeks damages including a "rightful" share of revenues for the show's producer.

Rosemont Mayor Brad Stephens said after the monthly village board meeting Monday that he couldn't discuss the pending litigation. But he did confirm that the village and baseball team canceled its eight-year licensing agreement with Artistic Holiday Designs and are now looking for a new company to produce a similar immersive light show on the baseball field next winter.

"There'll be a light festival, but it won't be Amaze," Stephens said.

The village on Monday responded to a request for records related to the dispute, including a copy of the 66-page lawsuit and a public safety department incident report about a fight between the show operator and a Dogs co-owner at a Rosemont hotel bar.

What started as an argument between Artistic's CEO Derek Norwood and Dogs co-owner Shawn Hunter in the lobby of the Aloft hotel on Nov. 2 led to grabbing and shoving, according to the Rosemont police report. The officer who investigated the case concluded Norwood was the aggressor and tried to entice a fight with Hunter, but Hunter declined to press battery charges against Norwood.

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Attorneys for Artistic argue in the lawsuit that the village and Dogs breached the contract by not making a required $400,000 payment to help set up the holiday lights spectacular, and by reducing Artistic's share of revenues from $1.1 million to $304,000 with wrongful deductions.

Under the licensing agreement inked last July, the village and Dogs were to have contributed $400,000 each in setup costs, estimated at $2.6 million total. The village and baseball team were to then split the first $800,000 in revenue generated by ticket sales, and anything after would be split between the operator and the Rosemont/Dogs partnership.

But a Nov. 10 letter from Village Attorney John Donahue to Artistic's attorneys said the company failed to provide documentation of capital expenses and status reports on the ordering of parts, as required for the village's capital contributions under the contract.

Donahue called Artistic's preparation for the light show an "overall level of dysfunction," including the lack of load-in schedule, the plan for electric distribution and changing of design layouts such as relocation of a large snowman that created ingress and egress issues, according to the letter.

Meanwhile, Donahue wrote that Artistic didn't make a $175,000 payment for marketing efforts.

Artistic's managers said they didn't pay because the village and Dogs never provided a marketing budget or sent creative files for review and approval, and claimed Hunter took all credit for the festival in media interviews, according to the suit.

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