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Pittsburgh Three Rivers Regatta canceled days before scheduled start

PITTSBURGH — The Pittsburgh Three Rivers Regatta has been canceled, days before it was scheduled to start, officials announced Tuesday.

Officials said there were issues with the vendor and payments to contractors.

>>UPDATECriminal investigation launched into 3 Rivers Regatta organizer

LionHeart Event Group had been hired for several years to handle event management of the regatta. Officials said the company’s responsibilities included purchasing insurance, securing permits, acquiring sponsors, collecting sponsorship money, contracting with food vendors, working with the race boat organizations and working with the city and others to provide security.

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“We learned late last week that the event management company charged with overseeing all aspects of the regatta failed to provide the necessary assurances for a safe, sanctioned and fully coordinated event. They did not secure the mandatory insurance for it, which forced us to withdraw our application for an event permit,” Charles Scholz, a member of the Pittsburgh Three Rivers Regatta Board of Directors, said.

The regatta was scheduled to start Friday and run through Sunday. The announcement of its cancellation was made during a news conference that was attended by leaders from the regatta, Allegheny County and the city of Pittsburgh.

Officials said a probe has been launched to determine what exactly happened.

“We will pursue all legal means necessary to resolve this as we work to determine the future of this event,” Scholz, who is also an attorney with Houston Harbaugh who is representing the board, said.

The regatta, the largest inland regatta in the nation, was first held in 1978.


“This is one of dozens of events in our region put on by organizations that the county and city partner with, and while we’re saddened by this announcement, we also know that our community will still have plenty of opportunities this year to celebrate our rivers,” Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald said.

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto also expressed his disappointment, saying: “While this is surely disappointing to the regatta's many fans and the city businesses that have catered to them for decades, the board had no choice and made the right decision for all of us. I thank the regatta board for its responsible stewardship in this difficult time.”

Peduto released the following statement Tuesday afternoon:

"Over the past week, my administration learned that the event management firm for the regatta, LionHeart Event Group, has not paid the City for police services the past two years, and learned the state-owned Point State Park and private vendors had not received payments either. I shared this information with members of the board, and worked with them on alternative plans to possibly hold the regatta on the North Shore instead.

"Efforts to save this year's regatta were ongoing when it became apparent that LionHeart had not secured the mandatory insurance to hold the event either. At this point the regatta board decided to cancel the event, notified the City and County of its decision, and withdrew its application for a City permit.

"I want to thank the board and County Executive Rich Fitzgerald for their efforts to save this decades-old Pittsburgh tradition and will continue to work with them to secure the regatta's future."