ONTARIO - The former promoter of the Inland Empire Auto Show said he is considering legal action after last week's announcement that a new company had been hired to run the show.

Ontario Convention Center and Visitor Bureau officials said last week that Gold River-based Castle Communications had been hired to run the show on Aug. 23-25.

Driven Media Communications CEO Mike Caudill said he feels like Convention Center officials stole the show from him.

"I had no idea this was coming. There was no notice of any termination," Caudill said.

Temecula-based Driven Media Communications has produced the Inland Empire Auto Show for the past three years.

Caudill, who has been promoting the show for about five years, said he was not aware the Convention Center had even been looking for a new company until he read about the hiring of Castle Communications in the Daily Bulletin. He said didn't receive a letter from the Convention Center until Wednesday.

"We're having law firms that specialize in trade shows review the contracts," Caudill said.

For the past three years, the auto show was organized through a partnership between the Convention Center, Driven Media Communications and On the Edge Productions.

Caudill's company and On the Edge Productions handled marketing, public relations and attracting automakers.

The Convention Center provided the facility and organizational support.

The agreement came together under former Convention Center CEO Bob Brown. Brown resigned in July as general manager and chief executive officers of the center following an investigative audit into the facility by its operator, Pennsylvania-based SMG World.

Michael Krouse, president and CEO of the Ontario Convention Center and Visitors Bureau, said the contract was terminated in part because it was an "inappropriate relationship for our building to be in."

"We own a building, we should not be running shows. Shows rent our buildings," Krouse said.

Krouse was hired to run the Convention Center in September.

Krouse said he was under no obligation, other than to put it in writing, to notify the companies about the termination of the contract. The letter was sent out last week.

There was no money lost on the deal because there was no value in the transaction, Krouse said.

"I did not sell it for any money. There is no monetary value to it ... he's unhappy with the fact with we've moved on," Krouse said.

Krouse said he explained to Caudill that the main interest of the Convention Center is to take the auto show to a new level of professionalism.

"This is really irrelevant. What matters more is that it's more about the execution of the event," Krouse said.

"We are within any rights to determine if we want to do business with them. I frankly feel we can do better with this building and for the city."

Caudill said he is most bothered by the lack of communication with him from Convention Center staffers. He said he has made repeated attempts since October to meet with a staffer but they kept putting off the meetings.

"I'm a reasonable person. If the Convention Center staff sat down and said, `We want to pursue some other options,' then I would have been open to start a dialogue with them," he said.

"They went completely behind our backs with this."

Caudill said he is also disappointed that Krouse hired a company to run the show that was not from the Inland Empire.


Reach Liset via email, call her at 909-483-8556, or find her on Twitter @DBOntarioNow.