Music fans Jeanette and Blair Johnston say they were thrilled when they received their wristbands to Roxodus festival, a four-day concert held outside of Barrie.
“I shrieked because I was so excited for them to arrive,” Jeanette told Global News.
“I couldn’t believe the line up. It was incredible.”
The pair made the long trek from Fort St. John, B.C., expecting to see the likes of Aerosmith, Kid Rock, Lynyrd Skynard and Nickelback.
But on June 27, they woke up to some disappointing news. The concert, a week away at that point, had been cancelled. It left the Johnstons with a list of costs — the tickets, travel expenses, and time off.
“I would say all in, we are out $15,000 to $17,000,” Jeanette explained.
“We had purchased VIP tickets and a parking pass and the total was under $2,800 for that alone.”
MF Live Inc. changes tune
The parent company behind Roxodus, MF Live Inc., cited wet conditions at the venue as the initial reason for the cancellation.
“During the past couple of months, our venue at Edenvale Airport has battled tremendous rainy weather that has impacted our ability to produce the festival,” a statement on the Roxodus website said on Wednesday.
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Fab Loranger, head of the company, changed his tune on Sunday. He instead blamed his former partner Mike Dunphy and a loss of “millions.”
“Our specific role in the entire project was to provide the funding,” Loranger told Global News in an email statement.
“We invested millions of dollars. We relied on Mr. Dunphy, his representations, and his advice to ensure everything was properly taken care of. It obviously wasn’t. We lost it all.”
‘Crappy’ ticket sales cited
Dunphy, who called the allegations “ridiculous,” believes there’s a different reason the show won’t go on.
“Crappy ticket sales,” he told Global News.
“I did not steal any monies.”
Dunphy claimed both he and Loranger knew the concert was in financial rocky waters as early as May. He said at the point approximately 20,000 tickets were sold.
Financial documents provided by Dunphy appear to show a discrepancy between ticket sales and profit.
“We had budgeted for 25,000 per day and we didn’t achieve that,” Dunphy explained.
“We knew it was going to be a loss in year one.”
He said he believes the loss is to the tune of $12 million.
Dunphy said he left MF Live Inc. on June 21 prior to Roxodus being cancelled because he could no longer “draw a salary,” adding he never thought Roxodus wouldn’t happen.
On Wednesday, OPP confirmed to Global News it is investigating a former employee of MF Live Inc. But the police service would not disclose any more information.
“The monies were not in my control,” Dunphy told Global News.
Bank records, also provided by Dunphy, appear to show some of the money from ticket sales went to pay contracts while some went back to Loranger and his other company, Taurus Site Services, which was bank-rolling the project.
“Monies were taken back as part of the loan,” Dunphy explained.
With no word about refunds from Loranger or Dunphy on Saturday, online ticketing agency Eventbrite agreed to set a program to give fans their money back.
“We believe attendees deserve to get their money back now, so we have set up an Eventbrite-funded Fan Relief Program to make all Roxodus ticket holders whole while we continue to aggressively pursue the return of funds from the festival’s creators,” a statement from Eventbrite said.
“We are transferring funds to ticket holders immediately and they can expect to see it reflected on their credit card or bank statement within seven business days.
After multiple attempts to communicate and secure funds back from the Roxodus organizers, they have provided no indication that they will refund ticket holders.
Dunphy said he spoke with Eventbrite over the weekend.
Meanwhile, Loranger told Global News in an email, “We are so pleased to learn that everyone will have their money refunded. That of course, is the most important thing.”
Still, for many Roxodus fans like Jeanette and her husband, there are costs they will never recoup. She said she hopes future organizers learn a lesson.
“You cant take people’s money and not promise them the goods they have paid for,” Jeanette said, adding she and others are looking into a filing a class-action lawsuit.