In a seven-month span in 2015, Feld Entertainment gave more than two dozen executives a combined $1.5 million in raises.
Manatee County-based Feld Entertainment added four new vice president positions two years ago, with combined salaries totaling almost $800,000, according to the most recent available employment records obtained by the Bradenton Herald. The records must be submitted to Manatee County to prove job creation for the company to receive incentive money.
After factoring in one lost vice president position and pay cuts for two other executives, Feld spent just under $1 million boosting executive salaries, documents show. Florida state corporate records list Michael Shannon as Feld’s president.
According to the employment records, Shannon makes almost $2.6 million annually. He received a nearly $390,000 raise, the largest of all raises given at Feld Entertainment that year.
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$1.5 million combined executive raises at Feld Entertainment in 2015
In January, when Feld chairman and CEO Kenneth Feld and COO Juliette Feld held a press conference to explain the end of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, they cited declining attendance, high operating costs, changing public tastes and prolonged battles with animal rights groups as reasons for ending the show.
After the announcement, questions began to surface about famous circus performer Nik Wallenda buying the circus. He was interested at one time, but the deal never panned out.
“The company explored all options before deciding to close Ringling Bros.,” Feld spokeswoman Lisa Taylor said in an email to the Herald.
More than five years ago, Feld Entertainment signed its first incentive agreement with Manatee County to revitalize an old, abandoned warehouse located between Palmetto and Ellenton. Feld Entertainment entered three economic development incentive agreements with Manatee County, the first in 2011, and one with the state of Florida to help cover the cost of the company’s headquarters move from Virginia, according to documents from the Manatee County Redevelopment and Economic Development department.
The second agreement, signed in 2013, was a customized $30,000 incentive to assist Feld with making utilities infrastructure improvements, “which benefit the company and Manatee County Utilities” at the site of its new headquarters, according to Manatee County incentive records.
Two years ago, Feld moved its Motor Sports division headquarters from Illinois to Manatee County, which spurred a third agreement.
The live entertainment company agreed to create 435 jobs altogether and make a $20 million capital investment into reviving the three decades-old warehouse at 800 Feld Way. Four years ago, the company had exceeded the job creation goal schedule for the first incentive agreement, according to the documents. In 2015, documents show, the company had 563 employees at the Ellenton complex.
$3.7 million amount Feld Entertainment can still collect from Manatee County and the state of Florda
The Herald/Times Tallahassee Bureau previously reported that Feld’s circus layoffs would make it the sixth largest of nearly 200 Florida companies that have announced layoffs in the last two years. Despite this, Feld Entertainment can still collect up to $3.7 million from the state and Manatee County.
The company classifies 400 of the lost jobs as “jobs on the road,” so they will not count against the incentive agreement. Though many of the people who hold the jobs live in Florida, they are on the road for nearly the entire year.
“They are not Florida-based jobs and therefore do not count as part of the incentive calculation,” Casey Rodgers, Feld’s vice president of finance and strategic planning, said in January.