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Squabble Over a Super Bowl Party

PHOENIX (CN) - Two companies say that 944 Media failed to promote their 2008 Super Bowl party in Scottsdale by refusing to market to Hispanics, and by giving away $1 million worth of free tickets to advance its own publication, 944 Magazine.

Plaintiffs Explosive Productions and SB Green say they hired 944 Media to throw a four-day Super Bowl party, then discovered that 944 planned "from the beginning to use the Super Bowl event as a massive publicity campaign for its 944 Magazine, regardless of whether the event was profitable."

The Superior Court lawsuit claims that 944 Media sold fewer than 1,000 tickets, but gave away more than $1 million in VIP tickets to models, and allowed Eric Crown, the companies' top investor and co-founder of the tech Web site, to take at least $180,000 worth of tickets and VIP cabanas for himself.

Crown is named as a defendant, along with Orbitron Holdings, one of two partners in 944 Media. The plaintiffs also say that 944 Media dissolved on Jan. 28, 2008, during the 2008 Super Bowl party, but failed to inform them of its disbanding.

Plaintiffs said they wanted a series of boxing matches featuring Hector Camacho Jr. at the party. Because of Camacho's popularity with Latinos, the plaintiffs say they wanted to advertise on Spanish-language radio stations and in the Arizona Republic, but 944 Media allegedly nixed this for fear that the event would attract a "bunch of gang bangers."

Plaintiffs say the dissolved company was solely concerned with catering to a white, affluent audience, resulting in 944 Media's insistence that "no advertising would be purchased if that advertising was directed, even partially, at Mexican or Latinos. 944 Media believed that attendance by Mexicans or Latinos would 'destroy [the] party' and 'kill [the] event,'" according to the complaint.

The plaintiffs say the magazine company lied to them in the weeks preceding the event, "telling the other members of SB Green that sales of tickets and sponsorships were so great that the event needed to be expanded at considerable expense." They say 944 Media exceeded its party budget by 50 percent while it knew that the "revenues were less than half of the budgeted amount."

Revenue from the party was less than $1.6 million, while expenses surpassed $2.4 million, according to the complaint.

With 944 Media distributing thousands of free tickets, many people event refused to pay $500 or more for a ticket that was being handed out for free, the plaintiffs say. Party tickets ran from $100 to $150 for general admission, $500 to $750 for VIP tickets and $1,000 for VIP cabanas.

Explosive Productions and SB Green are represented by Michael C. Manning, with Stinson Morrison Hecker. They seek punitive damages.

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