News

 
Kanye West Settles Lloyd’s Lawsuit Over Canceled 'Saint Pablo' Tour
 
Posted: 16 Feb 2018, 6:00 pm

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February Debut Digital Issue
 
Posted: 16 Feb 2018, 4:00 pm
 

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Middle West Management’s Kyle Frenette Running For Congress
 
Posted: 16 Feb 2018, 3:10 pm
Bon Ivermanager Kyle Frenette, co-founder ofMiddle West Management, is running for congress in Wisconsin?s 7th district.

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Scotland To Get Agent Of Change In Wake Of UK Music Census
 
Posted: 16 Feb 2018, 3:01 pm
Last year, some 200 volunteers in Glasgow, Newcastle, Oxford, Leeds, Southampton, Liverpool and Brighton tracked live music performances over a period of 24 hours. These are their findings.

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Dice Tickets UK Stops Waiving Booking Fees
 
Posted: 16 Feb 2018, 12:21 pm
Dice has announced the introduction of booking fees, or, more precisely, justified the unannounced introduction of booking fees.

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Pollstar Live! Coverage: Women + The Road
 
Posted: 16 Feb 2018, 11:20 am

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Q's With A Pollstar Award Winner: Stacy Vee, Goldenvoice
 
Posted: 16 Feb 2018, 9:36 am
Goldenvoice's Stacy Vee picked up some major hardware at this year's Pollstar Awards, which took place Feb. 8 at the WIltern in Los Angeles. The AEG subsidiary's flagship Coachella festival also was yet again honored as Music Festival Of The Year.

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Reviews: Blake Shelton, Robbie Williams, SZA & More
 
Posted: 15 Feb 2018, 8:51 pm
This week, for your reading enjoyment,we have compiled critical reviews of live performances from Blake Shelton in Tishomingo, Okla.; Robbie Williams in Auckland, New Zealand; SZA in Silver Spring, Md.; Kid Rock in Charlotte, N.C.; Tyler The Creator in Miami; and Noel Gallagher in Columbus, Ohio.

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Joey Bada$$ Plots “Amerikkkana” Tour
 
Posted: 15 Feb 2018, 6:51 pm
Joey Bada$$ has shared dates for his upcoming tour with Buddy and Boogie coming along as support. The tour is titled ?The Amerikkkana Tour,? as a reference to the U.S.?s challenging issue of race relations.

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Reversing Trend, UMG Posts Double Digit Revenue Growth In 2017
 
Posted: 15 Feb 2018, 6:47 pm
After trending down, down, down over the last 16 years, recorded music revenues have been on the rise.

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Dave Chappelle Hosting Roots Picnic
 
Posted: 15 Feb 2018, 6:46 pm
Hip-hop fans are in for a treat as The Roots revealed the lineup for the 11th annual Roots Picnic.

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Insomniac Unveils Electric Daisy Carnival Lineup: Armin Van Burren, Afrojack, Diplo, Kaskade, Tiesto,
 
Posted: 15 Feb 2018, 4:33 pm
Electric Daisy Carnival, Insomniac?s landmark EDM festival in Las Vegas, will feature Armin Van Buuren, Afrojack, Diplo, Kaskade, Marshmello, Martin Garrix, Tiesto, and Zedd.

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Metallica Honored With Polar Music Prize In Sweden
 
Posted: 15 Feb 2018, 2:19 pm
The prestigious Swedish music prize is handed out to one classical and one contemporary act each year. Metallica is the first metal band to win the prize.

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The Smashing Pumpkins To Tour With Three Original Members
 
Posted: 15 Feb 2018, 12:58 pm
Today is the greatest day Smashing Pumpkins fans have ever known! Three of the original four members of the band are reuniting for the first full tour since 2000.

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Pearls Before Swine Frontman Tom Rapp Dies
 
Posted: 15 Feb 2018, 12:58 pm
Tom Rapp, who was known as the frontman of psychedelic folk-rock band Pearls Before Swine before he became a civil rights lawyer, passed away Feb. 11 at age 70 after a battle with cancer.

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Gender, Brexit And Blockchain To Be Addressed At ILMC 30
 
Posted: 15 Feb 2018, 12:44 pm
ILMC revealed the agenda for its 30th anniversary edition, taking place at the Royal Garden Hotel in London, March 6-9.

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Russian Telco Giant Enters Event Ticketing Market
 
Posted: 15 Feb 2018, 12:05 pm
Mobile Telesystems (MTS) has acquired much or all of two of the country?s biggest players in event ticketing, Ticketland.ru and Ponominalu.ru.

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Billy Joel To Play Unprecedented Fifth Consecutive Year of Stadiums, Record-Setting 56th MSG Show
 
Posted: 15 Feb 2018, 11:27 am
Billy Joel is tireless. At age 68, the indefatigable Piano Man continues setting records as today he announced a record-setting 56thMadison Square Garden show for September as part of his monthly residency which began in January 2014 and has sold more than a million tickets. This comes on top of his unprecedented stadium tour in which for the fifth-consecutive year he will play Boston?s Fenway, Chicago?s Wrigley Field and Citizen Bank Ball Park in Philadelphia.

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Lessons Learned From Marquee Events
 
Posted: 15 Feb 2018, 1:55 am

Larry McDonnell of MetroTix has some follow-up thoughts for panelists John Harig of the Cincinnati Arts Association, Josh Logan of the NCAA and Jim Downey of MetroTix, after a Pacnet 18 panel on hosting exceptional events. (VN Photo)

REPORTING FROM NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. - Performing arts centers don't have Super Bowls, but they have "Hamilton."

And "Hamilton" or "The Lion King" for performing arts centers or the NCAA's Final Four or Garth Brooks for arenas, exceptionally hot properties, handled well, leave a lasting legacy for the venue business.

Preparation and follow up surrounding marquee events was a topic of discussion at Pacnet 18, the Paciolan users conference attended by more than a thousand users and vendors, held here Feb. 11-14.

Analyzing the numbers, Melissa Cunningham, senior director of marketing for Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, reported that even an established major league arena like Wells Fargo Center counted 8,325 ticket buyers for Garth Brooks who had never bought tickets before for an event in that venue and are now part of the database. "Garth had not been to our building for a long, long time," she noted.

Fortunately for arenas, Brooks adds shows until demand is met, leading to new and potentially repeat visitors. "Hamilton," on the other hand, is a case of demand exceeding supply.

But "Hamilton" also brought a new set of fans to theaters, fans who had never seen Broadway. The approach to marketing both was highly educational.

"We had so many people who didn't know what 'subscription' meant, or 'mezzanine or orchestra level,'" said Mitchell Klein of Broadway Across America. "You don't want to assume they know. Instead of intermission, tell them there will be a break. It's all about education and talking to people in plain English."

"One, we don't want them to come in and feel stupid, and, two, we don't want to assume anything. Intermission? Maybe we should call it halftime," Klein added. "Keep in mind these are people who may never have seen a theatrical event."

Cunningham agreed that there is a tendency to assume fans know, so they went out of their way with Brooks' crowd to be certain that people knew there would be magnetometers at the arena. For a big family show like Feld Entertainment's "Frozen," it was letting them know about accommodations for strollers and diaper bags. "Be overly explanatory," Cunningham suggested.

For the Final Four, Josh Logan, who oversees 90 championships for the NCAA, encourages arena and stadium managers who get those events to communicate that this is a different experience than the norm: that fans need to arrive early, there will be extra security and new perimeters and a clear-bag policy. "Communicate what is different for a marquee event," Logan encouraged.

panel600.jpgPacnet panelists John Harig, Mitchell Klein, Jim Downey, Melissa Cunningham and Josh Logan. (VN Photo)

Jim Downey of MetroTix, who handles ticketing for the Fabulous Fox Theater in St. Louis, said the prep for "Hamilton" started years ahead. "We were coming out of the '15-'16 Broadway season with 16,000 subscribers and were well into our '16-'17 campaign with 14,000 subscribers when 'Hamilton' was announced," Downey said. The show was coming to the Fox for the '17-'18 season, but MetroTix was able to announce it in the '16-'17 campaign. "Next thing you knew, we had 19,000 subscribers for the year before 'Hamilton.' When we go to renewals for '17-'18, all 19,000 renewed and another 13,000 season ticketholders joined. So over the course of two seasons, we went from 16,000 to 32,000 subscribers."

John Harig of the Cincinnati Arts Association has a similar tale to tell, growing subscriptions from 16,500 to 24,500 for the 2018-19 season, which includes "Hamilton."

"Hamilton creates its own excitement, its own tornado effect," Klein said. Traditional media and social media pick it up and make it a story. "We haven't done much. We're saving our money for the retention effort next year. Our mantra now is 'don't spend the money.'"

However, that creates another challenge - taking care of loyal customers and constituents who are used to being accommodated.

"The challenge we're facing right now - that we haven't quite cracked and that you will face for any exceptional sold-out event - is trying to stay loyal to people who have been loyal to us," Klein admitted. "We can't show that loyalty right now."

For instance, the Boy Scouts want tickets to "School of Rock." In any normal season for years on end, that would be accommodated. Not this sold-out season. And the media, which gives the Fox extra coverage and has benefited from big spends year after year, are not getting that money this go-round. Klein is searching for an answer to that problem.

Retention after a "Hamilton" season has been 30 percent to 40 percent. Broadway Across America is actually already seeing better numbers than that, and Klein attributes that, in part, to targeted marketing. "If we have 16,000 new ticket buyers, we look at who looks like they just came out to see 'Hamilton' and who looks like a potential subscriber. Who's a fence sitter; who's in for the long term. We're skewing younger than in the past, so our message will be targeted for them, with a different message for our traditional subscribers. There's not much we can do financially. We're not buying gifts for 32,000 people, but we can create some experiences to make them feel part of our subscription event. Look beyond your normal way of interacting."

Noting performing arts can learn from sports, he said they will probably enhance the number of partial payment plans for this new audience.

"I think of Broadway Across America like a sports league. We do ticketing for 40-some odd markets, each like a team in its own city. We operate like a sports league, but the one thing we don't have is a Super Bowl or championship. This is as close as we will get," Klein said.
Final Four marketing can start as early as four years in advance, when cities are announced, Logan said. The NCAA has its sales base of loyal March Madness fans and works hard to accommodate them. Typically institutions market to their loyal fan base one year out and the NCAA encourages them to use the marquee event to boost season tickets sales and donations, but that stops when the teams are announced.

"We don't know who's playing, we don't know times, we just know dates and March Madness. Selection Sunday everything comes out and we have a 'Hamilton,'" Logan said. The goal is to be sold out before Selection Sunday, he added, but should there be tickets available, they start with the local team and venue.

The second phase is nationwide. "We have a warehouse where we store our customer information. We try our best to find out if they are a fan of a particular team or region, but we have a national fan base. It's a bucket list item for a lot of fans to go to a March Madness game."

Early on, panelists admitted to cashing in on marquee events by encouraging interested ticket buyers to sign up for an email list to be the first to know details.

Broadway Across America sends out "Hamil-tips," which include everything from preparing for the on sale to what to do with the tickets to discouraging buying from other than sanctioned parties. Marquee events are exceptionally democratizing, he said, noting that even a billionaire who bought fraudulent tickets playing the do-you-know-who-I-am and I-could-buy-this-theater cards was turned away at a performance of "Hamilton" in New York.

All of the panelists stressed preparation and strong partnerships in dealing with marquee events. Can the website and phone room handle the volume? Test it.

And understand all the parameters from the promoter or producer. At least 50 percent of "Hamilton" tickets have to be available to the public, not per show, but per run of shows, for instance, Klein said.

"We've never had an event that challenged the system reliability the way this does. … We had to cap our subscriptions at some point. We had challenges of managing inventory. How many additional tickets could subscribers get; how many seats on hold for house seats, which is rather large; how many seats on hold for dynamic pricing, which we knew was going to be built into the process."

Cunningham once had a promoter so concerned about brokers that he sent verbiage for a press release that declared they were "waging war on scalpers." She got the message out, but without turning it into a customer service nightmare. They did cancel tickets for those outside the buying radius or buying more than eight tickets per.

There is no on sale for the Final Four. "We have different ways for people to buy tickets, but no public on sale," Logan said. "When this year's tournament is going on, fans can apply for tickets for next year with a nonrefundable application fee."

To mollify loyal customers or last-minute buyers, there are packages available. The NCAA uses PrimeSport, which packages hospitality with tickets for a premium package, pricey but available. They also have an official ticket exchange, so a fan who can no longer attend or whose team isn't performing and won't make it, can resell his ticket. "We stay away from the traditional on sale on marquee events," Logan said, while "still giving the general public an opportunity. You do have a good chance in our random selection process. There is an opportunity for you."

Marquee events build your database, "you have new friends - pay attention to what they like and what they do," Harig said.

Downey cross-trained the general MetroTix call room staff with the Fox Theater group sales and subscriptions staff to double the manpower for the "Hamilton" sale, creating more resources and longer hours to meet customer demand

And enjoy the moment. "Big events are fun to work on," Logan said. "We're not selling tickets, we're selling experiences. I go out there when the event's going on and look at the crowd. Don't let it escape you … though I hope to see that Hamilton guy at some point."


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HOT TICKETS FOR FEBRUARY 14, 2018
 
Posted: 15 Feb 2018, 1:00 am

Lady Gaga owns three of the 20 spots on the Hot Tickets list this week, topped by a show at Arena Birmingham in England that drew 21,978, grossed $1,842,623. and ranked third among reported shows with attendance of more than 15,000. Performances in Assago, Italy, and Hamburg, Germany, placed fourth and fifth in the 10,001-15,000 category.

Elsewhere, Sioux Falls, S.D., was off to see the wizard. "The Wizard of Oz" at the Husby Performing Arts Center drew a total of 3,041 to two shows, grossing $193,965.

HOT TICKETS is a weekly summary of the top events and ticket sales as reported to VNPulse via Pollstar. Following are the top 20 concerts and events, the top five in each attendance category, that took place Jan. 17-Feb. 14.

15,001 or More Attendance

10,001-15,000 Attendance

5,001-10,000 Attendance

5,000 or Fewer Attendance

1) El Barrio
Gross Sales: $1,767,064; Venue: WiZink Center, Madrid; Attendance: 30,733; Ticket Range: $75.37-$41.73; Promoter: La Rock; Dates: Jan. 19-20; No. of Shows: 2

2) Les Miserables
Gross Sales: $1,632,156; Venue: Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier, Montreal; Attendance: 23,104; Ticket Range: $92.10-$32.03; Promoter: Broadway Across Canada, Evenko; Dates: Feb. 7-11; No. of Shows: 8

3) Lady Gaga
Gross Sales: $1,842,623; Venue: Arena Birmingham, England; Attendance: 21,978; Ticket Range: $210.16-$56.04; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Jan. 31-Feb. 1; No. of Shows: 2

4) Timbiriche
Gross Sales: $1,202,673; Venue: Auditorio Nacional, Mexico City, Mexico; Attendance: 19,240; Ticket Range: $161.76-$18.87; Promoter: OCESA, CIE; Dates: Jan. 19-20; No. of Shows: 2

5) Morat
Gross Sales: $576,466; Venue: Auditorio Nacional, Mexico City, Mexico; Attendance: 19,240; Ticket Range: $70.10-$8.09; Promoter: OCESA, CIE; Dates: Jan. 26-27; No. of Shows: 2

1) On Your Feet!>
Gross Sales: $767,577; Venue: Providence (R.I.) Performing Arts Center; Attendance: 14,162; Ticket Range: $84-$42; Promoter: In-house, Professional Facilities Management; Dates: Jan. 30-Feb. 4; No. of Shows: 8

2)Grease
Gross Sales: $837,708; Venue: Qudos Bank Arena, Sydney; Attendance: 12,832; Ticket Range: $116.69-$53.18; Promoter: Harvest Rain Theater Company; Dates: Jan. 19-20; No. of Shows: 3

3) Imagine Dragons
Gross Sales: $1,285,921; Venue: Mercedes-Benz Arena, Shanghai; Attendance: 12,184; Ticket Range: $201.61-$75.60; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Jan. 17; No. of Shows: 1

4) Lady Gaga
Gross Sales: $1,085,812; Venue: Mediolanum Forum, Assago, Italy; Attendance: 11,170; Ticket Range: $137.05-$49.84; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Jan. 18; No. of Shows: 1

5) Lady Gaga
Gross Sales: $1,021,631; Venue: Barclaycard Arena, Hamburg, Germany; Attendance: 10,587; Ticket Range: $137.05-$49.84; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Jan. 24; No. of Shows: 1

1) The Illusionists
Gross Sales: $565,657; Venue: Providence (R.I.) Performing Arts Center; Attendance: 9,719; Ticket Range: $81-$39; Promoter: In-house, Professional Facilities Management; Dates: Jan. 19-21; No. of Shows: 5

2) Soy Luna Live
Gross Sales: $584,017; Venue: Palacio Municipal de Deportes San Pablo, Seville, Spain; Attendance: 8,924; Ticket Range: $249.19-$36.13; Promoter: DG Entertainment, Sold Out; Dates: Jan. 17-18; No. of Shows: 2

3) Riverdance
Gross Sales: $599,525; Venue: Carol Morsani Hall, Tampa, Fla.; Attendance: 8,116; Ticket Range: $95.25-$45.25; Promoter: In-house; Dates: Jan. 19-21; No. of Shows: 5

4) Alanis Morissette
Gross Sales: $612,061; Venue: ICC Sydney Theatre; Attendance: 7,723; Ticket Range: $139.90-$99.90; Promoter: Chugg Entertainment; Dates: Jan. 24; No. of Shows: 1

5) The Avett Brothers
Gross Sales: $563,427; Venue: The Louisville Palace Theatre; Attendance: 7,488; Ticket Range: $99.50-$59.50; Promoter: NS2; Dates: Jan. 18-20; No. of Shows: 3

1) A Gentleman’s Guide To Love & Murder
Gross Sales: $211,330; Venue: Husby Performing Arts Center, Sioux Falls, S.D.; Attendance: 3,778; Ticket Range: $85-$22; Promoter: In-house; Dates: Jan. 30-Feb. 1; No. of Shows: 3

2) A Night With Janis Joplin
Gross Sales: $245,919; Venue: Shubert Theatre at Boch Center, Boston; Attendance: 3,586; Ticket Range: $85-$35; Promoter: Tremont Theatre; Dates: Jan. 19-20; No. of Shows: 3

3) Jerry Seinfeld
Gross Sales: $298,765; Venue: Sangamon Auditorium, Springfield, Ill.; Attendance: 3,461; Ticket Range: $150-$65; Promoter: JS Touring, LLC; Dates: Jan. 18; No. of Shows: 2

4) Wizard Of Oz
Gross Sales: $193,965; Venue: Husby Performing Arts Center, Sioux Falls, S.D.; Attendance: 3,041; Ticket Range: $85-$22; Promoter: In-house; Dates: Jan. 24-25; No. of Shows: 2

5) Kinky Boots
Gross Sales: $210,601; Venue: Mary Stuart Rogers Theatre, Modesto, Calif.; Attendance: 2,930; Ticket Range: $109-$39; Promoter: In-house; Dates: Jan. 24-25; No. of Shows: 3

The Weekly Hot Tickets chart is compiled by Brad Rogers. To submit reports, email Brad@pollstar.com or submit to (714) 378-0040.

 


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One On One With G-Eazy’s Co-Manager Matt Bauerschmidt
 
Posted: 14 Feb 2018, 9:34 pm
G-Eazy has been grinding his way through the music industry for 10 years, moving from house parties and small clubs to headlining festivals in Indonesia and Poland. Now the rapper has several hit singles charting, featuring the likes of Cardi B, A$AP Rocky, and Halsey. His co-manager, Matt Bauerschmidt, has been with the rapper since the Myspace days, and he spoke toPollstarabout G-Eazy?s rise to the top.

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Sum 41 Celebrates 15 Year Album Anniversary
 
Posted: 14 Feb 2018, 9:03 pm
Still waiting on another Sum 41 tour? Well wait no more because the 15th anniversary of theirDoes This Look Infected?album means the band is running around the U.S. for a month this spring.

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'Great Night For A Love Jam'
 
Posted: 14 Feb 2018, 4:35 pm

Firestick Grill at Amalie Arena in Tampa, Fla., was ready for a buffet dinner before a performance by Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli on Valentine's Day. (Courtesy Amalie Arena)

Venues across the nation have romantic Valentine's Day concerts scheduled to woo lovebirds and romantics alike.

For example, in Tampa, Fla., Amalie Arena is hosting Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli. "Since I've been here, we really try to put an emphasis on Valentine's Day," said Kevin Preast, senior vice president of event management for the 13,000-seat. Bocelli "is a legendary tenor, and we wanted to find an act that aligns with that romance and fun."

Bocelli is on tour, so Preast asked his promoter if the singer would be willing to play Valentine's Day, which is on a Wednesday this year, rather than the traditional weekend gig.

"We were looking at several days across the span of a week, and I said I'd rather push for him to play on Wednesday night," Preast said. He noted the same thing happened last year, when he booked Bon Jovi on Valentine's Day.

"We try to align it with an act that couples will enjoy," Preast said. "Everybody has a little romance in them, but it's a little bit easier when you're spoon-fed some of the magic."

Bocelli tickets, which ranged from $75 up to $300, were nearly sold out before the gig. The venue also has an attached restaurant called Firestick Grill where guests could have a romantic, buffet-style dinner before the show at $100 a person.

Other venues across the U.S. opted to host one of seven "Valentine's Love Jams" with R&B artists such as Tyrese Gibson, who will play EagleBank Arena in Fairfax, Va., on Feb. 17.

"There was a promoter that we had not worked with in the past who I think had this package playing in several different other cities," said Barry Geisler, general manager of EagleBank Arena.

Chicago-based Urban Vibe Entertainment is the promoter of the seven Valentine's Love Jams. The other dates for the tour: Wintrust Arena in Chicago, Feb. 8; Detroit Masonic Temple, Feb. 9; the Wolstein Center in Cleveland, Feb. 10; the Indiana State Fairgrounds in Indianapolis, Feb. 11; Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Fla., Feb. 16; and the Landers Center in Southhaven, Miss., Feb. 18.

"We were able to catch on to this mini-tour. They're acts that were kind of popular a while ago. These shows don't come around often enough. It's a little bit nostalgia," Geisler said.

The acts include Avant, Ginuwine, Joe and Next.

"It's from people's early romantic days," Geisler said. "We think it's going to be a great night for a love jam."

Tickets are being sold through Ticketmaster for $59 to $129.

EagleBank doesn't typically try to find artists to play on Valentine's Day, Geisler said, highlighting that the venue has a George Mason University men's basketball game on Feb. 14.

"That's why it's helpful to have a promoter that has a package that he can put out on the road for a solid week," he said.

Rick Johnson from Urban Vibe Entertainment contacted EagleBank about the gig, Geisler said. Johnson did not return requests for comment.

Smaller venues across the nation have romantic gigs lined up, including several B.B. King Clubs.

The B.B. King Club in Montgomery, Ala., is hosting a Valentine's Night Out featuring R&B artists Calvin Richardson and Clinton Barbers.

Richardson "came before and brought about 500 to 600 people to the venue," said Willie Thomas, director of entertainment and marketing for the club. "With us being the only venue in Montgomery that is actually doing a Valentine's event, I think it's going to be huge."

The club is a restaurant with a stage and is offering a three-course meal for two for $125. General admission without dinner is $30 and singles are $65 with the meal.

"Music and romance and Valentine's Day, all of that goes hand and hand," said Chea Reddoch, B.B. King Club director of operations.


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John Fogerty Tacks On Residency Dates
 
Posted: 14 Feb 2018, 4:19 pm
Have you ever seen the playin? of John Fogerty? Well if you missed his last three runs at Encore Theater at Wynn Las Vegas, or if you can?t get enough of the guitarist, he has added a new set of dates.

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A Bigger Entrance In Phoenix
 
Posted: 14 Feb 2018, 4:00 pm

The Milwaukee Brewers have decided to upgrade 20-year-old Maryvale Baseball Park in Phoenix. (Courtesy Milwaukee Brewers)

Major League Baseball's Milwaukee Brewers, staying put in the Cactus League, will embark on a $55 million renovation of Maryvale Baseball Park at the conclusion of 2018 spring training.

Construction starts March 25, three days after the Brewers' final spring home game, said Mo Stein, HKS Architects' principal-in-charge for the 20-year-old facility's renovation. The improvements will be complete in time for 2019 spring training.

The Brewers decided to upgrade Maryvale after exploring the possibility of building a new spring training complex elsewhere. Over the past seven years, there's been roughly an equal mix of MLB teams building new facilities and upgrading existing venues. The Cubs, Red Sox and Nationals/Astros built new spring training parks and the Braves are developing a new facility in Sarasota. Elsewhere, the Twins, Pirates, Tigers and Yankees have remodeled their existing facilities.

In Greater Phoenix, the Brewers committed to improving their current home and are funding most of the construction, according to media reports.

The decision to renovate over a new build is a sign of the times in sports, Stein said. New spring training parks now cost more than $100 million. Ballpark of the Beaches, the newest spring training facility, opened last year in West Palm Beach for the Astros and Nationals with a price tag of $150 million.  HKS also designed that project. 

"The cost to build these spring training parks is getting higher and the political climate is not robust for getting public money to fund these projects," he said. "Years ago, all these facilities were publicly funded. Now, [some] teams are paying for it. The Brewers made the decision to stay and redevelop Maryvale. It was the same thing with the Tigers."

HKS designed $40 million in outfield upgrades to Joker Marchant Stadium in Lakeland, Fla., a project completed in 2017 at the site where the Tigers have trained for 82 years.

In Maryvale, the renovations are designed to improve flow into the ballpark with new administrative and support structures tied to the seating bowl.

On a tight 62-acre campus, the biggest piece is a new clubhouse building running from the new home plate gate plaza to the right-field corner. The two-story, 80,000-square-foot building will house new locker rooms and training rooms for major and minor leaguers, plus a new team store and a ticket office behind home plate. The building's north side features new concession stands and restrooms. Two existing structures, including the Brewers' minor league offices, will be torn down to clear space for new construction.

The core team functions take up 55,000 square feet of the new clubhouse building, Stein said.

"From a cost standpoint, we're careful about how we spend money," he said. "It's more efficient putting all of these services into one building."

Home plate is the focal point for redistributing flow. As it stands now, the main gate is in right field, where 90 percent of fans enter the ballpark. Under the current layout, though, bottlenecks occur in the right-field corner as fans enter the park. Expanding the area behind home plate, which includes the new plaza, will bring up to 75 percent of fans into the park through that entrance.

The 25,000-square-foot plaza will be busy on game days with food and retail vendors and sponsor activations. It faces the primary ticket office, and fans can access the new team store from outside the home plate gate, including on non-game days.

"Access is difficult walking to the gate near the foul pole," Stein said. "This [adjustment] helps reorganize the site. You can still enter at right field but with the new home plate entry and plaza … you can immerse yourself in the baseball experience. That's something that's been missing from Maryvale."

In addition, outside the park, between the stadium and the minor league fields, the Brewers are building an agility field and pitching mounds accommodating eight pairs of players that fans will pass on their way from the parking lots to the home plate gate. A bit further from view will be an eight-lane batting tunnel.

In general, it's the same idea behind the series of training spaces viewable to the public at Salt River Fields, the 7-year-old spring training complex HKS designed for the Rockies and Diamondbacks in Scottsdale. In Maryvale, those features are incorporated into the existing footprint and stand out as a strong part of the fan experience, Stein said.

All told, the upgrades to Maryvale Baseball Park are overdue in a part of Phoenix that has been slower to redevelop than other parts of the city, he said. Stein is a Phoenix native and grew up playing in Maryvale as a kid in the suburb's community park and swimming pool. He's happy to see the Brewers reinvest in the complex.

"It's not the same as going to Scottsdale or Mesa for spring training games," he said. "But the Brewers' decision for remaining in a single-team facility and spending money to rebuild it is great for fans who just want to enjoy baseball. The seating stays the same [at 7,000 fixed seats] and the shade isn't bad."


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Tucson Gets First Country Festival in Seven Years
 
Posted: 14 Feb 2018, 3:08 pm
For the first time since 2011, Tucson, Ariz., is getting its very own country music festival, with Josh Turner slotted as headliner.

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Rupp Arena Tires of Being ‘Downstream’
 
Posted: 14 Feb 2018, 3:00 pm

Carl Hall, right, of Rupp Arena in Lexington, Ky., with Geoff Carns of Ticketmaster at Pollstar Live! (VN Photo)

REPORTING FROM LOS ANGELES - Carl Hall, director of arena management at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Ky., arrived at the Pollstar Live! 2018 conference here a certified member of OVG Facilities, thus part of the Oak View Group family. (VenuesNow and Pollstar are owned by OVG.)

Bill Owen, Lexington Center Corp. president and CEO, had cut the deal with Peter Luukko, OVG's president of facilities, a month ago, and the wheels were in motion to let OVG Facilities book Rupp Arena as of Feb. 1. David Farrar, who also attended Pollstar Live!, was named as OVG Facilities' director of booking at Rupp Arena, reporting to Sims Hinds, Doug Higgons and Tom Paquette.

Farrar is now in transition from his former job as general manager at Santander Arena and Performing Arts Center in Reading, Pa., for SMG "He was looking for work in a bigger market," Hinds said.

The deal is a three-year exclusive, with OVG Facilities booking all event programming except University of Kentucky events, including UK Wildcats athletic competitions. OVG Facilities will also work to create a premium experience at Rupp Arena, Hinds said.

"OVG is further up the stream, more involved in what's coming out. If OVG has 30 facilities and they know the normal facility deal is X and the normal rebate is Y and this is normal, we now have information as to what is expected," Hall said of the deal.

Rupp Arena has dropped its membership in Venue Coalition for at least a year as officials   flesh out the deal with OVG Facilities, Hall said. "I could be a member of Venue Coalition and OVG. [Venue Coalition's] Jeff Apregan and Andrew Prince and I discussed it at great length. But what Venue Coalition offers I'm aware of; what OVG brings I'm not. This year, I opted to be just OVG. If in 12 months, if there's a gap Venue Coalition fills as an information resource, I can rejoin."

For Hall, who has been with Rupp Arena for 29 years this October and who had been overseeing a number of areas in addition to "handling booking directly," this opens up a vast new world. "When Red Mountain calls, they'll call David now," he said.

Hall first met with Hinds at the VenuesNow Conference last July and then it "progressed through OVG internal discussions and on our side, the chairman of our board," Hall said. Citing a nondisclosure agreement, he would say only that it is "a negotiated contract based on events. There are no guarantees. It's a percentage." It is an open booking concept, not an exclusive to any promoter.

"Because of the size of OVG and the cluster of people who work for them, they now have a better connection to the touring agents and … they know when XYZ artist is going on tour. They can get ahead of or equal with the booking agent. Before, I was downstream and I had to wait until Red Mountain or Live Nation called me searching for avails. Now OVG can help route and provide information to the artist's agent before it comes downstream," Hall said.

Secondly, he noted, "because they are a conglomerate, they know what other shows are doing. So your expectations are more realistic. They know the successes or failures of what other shows have done and provide information to me."

Hall is not in it for 10-15 more shows than last year, "but I do perceive we are going to grow market and do better with the shows we have and that we may add one, two or three different shows this year that wouldn't have come to me by my single efforts and, potentially, we'll be able to provide a greater diversity."

Already, OVG has leveraged a Justin Timberlake date Sept. 19, Hall said. Without OVG, he may or may not have gotten that show, "but it's a higher probability I wouldn't have.".
OVG Facilities has "an interest in buildings that have great management of a certain size in strong markets where we can be of assistance in saving dates," Hinds added. "Lexington is a great market and David Farrar wanted to move into a bigger market. He has the skillset to be aggressive."

Last year was an off year for Rupp Arena with only 15 shows. Across a five-year average, concerts and events are in the 22-25 range, counting everything, Hall said.

Rupp Arena is a city-owned facility, built in 1976, that seats 23,500.


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Portugal. The Man Bus Catches Fire: No One Hurt, Band ‘Lit’ After Awards Wins
 
Posted: 14 Feb 2018, 1:14 pm
Portugal. The Man,fresh off of a big win at the Pollstar Awards Feb. 8,saw its bus catch fire before a show at the Iowa Memorial Union Feb. 13, but no one was hurt and it didn?t affect the sold-out show.

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USTA Construction In Full Swing
 
Posted: 13 Feb 2018, 10:05 pm

Construction continues on Louis Armstrong Stadium at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Queens, N.Y. (U.S. Tennis Association)

The new Louis Armstrong Stadium converts the site of the old facility into one of the Grand Slam tournaments' most intimate large tennis venues, topped by a retractable roof to keep spectators dry, says Jon Disbrow, Rossetti's lead architect for the project.

Last week, project officials marked the topping out ceremony, tied to the final piece of steel installed for stadium construction. The $180 million job is a complete rebuild of a facility originally constructed for the 1964 World's Fair in New York. It served as the primary court at the U.S. Tennis Association's Billie Jean King National Tennis Center before 23,000-seat Arthur Ashe Stadium opened in 1997. The new Louis Armstrong Stadium, situated next to Ashe, will seat 14,000, starting with this year's U.S. Open.

Rossetti, in tandem with general contractor AECOM Hunt and roof designer Morgan Kinetic Structures, kept the cost for building a midsize venue with a movable roof under $200 million by developing a theme of efficiency. A big savings was achieved by not having to design as many HVAC systems for the naturally ventilated building, Disbrow said.

"We didn't have that major expense," he said. "It's effectively an outdoor stadium."

The rectangular building expands seating for the USTA's second-biggest facility by 4,000 and the total footprint adds more than 50,000 square feet over the old setup. Despite the bigger layout, the seating bowl is tighter, with an equal distribution of 7,000 chairback seats between the lower and upper bowls.

As part of developing a tighter bowl, Rossetti eliminated a walkway that cuts through the lower deck, a change that pushes seats that were once behind the cross-aisle closer to the court. The architect designed the upper deck to cantilever over the lower bowl, moving the highest seats closer to the action as well. Overall, the bowl's steeper rake improves sightlines for all fans.

"The seats are right on top of the court," said Danny Zausner, the USTA National Tennis Center's chief operating officer.

The biggest upgrade is the retractable roof, which falls in line with other Grand Slam facilities switching to roof cover to minimize disruptions in play during rainy weather. At the U.S. Open, 25 percent of the crowd typically comes from outside the U.S. Starting this year, they don't have to worry about bad weather affecting matches at the National Tennis Center's top two venues, Zausner said.

In its functionality, Armstrong's roof is similar to Arthur Ashe Stadium's retractable roof, a $500 million retrofit completed in 2016. At Louis Armstrong Stadium, the flat roof powers a smaller load.

Armstrong's roof is expected to open and close in five to seven minutes, the same as Ashe's dome-shaped roof, he said. At both facilities, the roofs are designed to deflect rainfall overhead with the sides open to the elements. (Both roofs are made of PTFE, a lightweight plastic material similar to ETFE, used at new NFL stadiums).

"We designed [Armstrong] to operate like standing under an umbrella," Disbrow said. "The [sides] are still open with air flow during the rain. It's not like sitting inside an air-conditioned stadium."

Armstrong's exterior features Oko Skin, a fiberglass concrete product made by Austrian firm Rieder Gruppe that comes out of the box in three textures, Disbrow said. Rossetti used the same material for designing Ariens Hill, the new sledding facility at Titletown, the Green Bay Packers' mixed-use district next to Lambeau Field.

New and bigger video boards at both ends of Louis Armstrong Stadium and food upgrades tied to 95 points of sale, about six times the original number, are other improvements. Levy runs the concessions and will have a 5,000-square-foot commissary to prepare food. There was no cooking infrastructure at the old Armstrong, Zausner said.

Aramark, entering its second year of operating U.S. Open retail, will work out of new stands featuring Wilson and Polo merchandise underneath the lower bowl.

This year's U.S. Open marks the event's 50th anniversary. The opening of new Louis Armstrong Stadium will complete a five-year transformation of the National Tennis Center with more than $600 million in improvements.


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Japan: Kendrick For Fuji Rock, Johnny & Associates, Animegaphone, Shiki Theater Co.
 
Posted: 13 Feb 2018, 8:17 pm
Fuji Rock Festival Unveils Initial Lineup ...Johnny & Associates Changes Image Policy ...New Megaphone System To Use Voice Modification ...Shiki Theater Co. Plans Subtitle Glasses

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Brian Setzer Orchestra Incites ‘Rockabilly Riot’ Tour
 
Posted: 13 Feb 2018, 7:51 pm
Brian Setzer is rambling around North America this year with Miss Mary Ann and the Ragtime Wranglers on most dates.

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Pollstar Awards Poster Contest Winners: Twenty One Pilots, Tom Petty, Levitate Festival
 
Posted: 13 Feb 2018, 7:28 pm
Congratulations to the Pollstar Awards Poster Contest winners, continuing the tradition since 2004 of taking the best of the best to the annual Pollstar Live! conference and judged upon by registrants.

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New Entries Flood Concert Pulse Chart: Avenged Sevenfold, Bon Iver, Aaron Watson
 
Posted: 13 Feb 2018, 7:24 pm
The top five positions are rounded out by some familiar faces but the bottom-end of the latest Global Concert Pulse chart features a whole slew of new names.

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Metalachi To Rock Both Coasts
 
Posted: 13 Feb 2018, 5:11 pm
Metalachi is coming to a town near you as the second leg of the band?s tour covers U.S. East and West coasts in April with a few dates in the Pacific Northwest beforehand.

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Joan Jett & The Blackhearts Set Out On Co-Heading Tour With Styx
 
Posted: 13 Feb 2018, 5:02 pm
Joan Jett & The Blackhearts are teaming up with Styx for a massive U.S. co-headlining tour. Tesla is also joining the trip as an opener.

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'Take Every Threat Seriously'
 
Posted: 13 Feb 2018, 10:00 am

Orlando's Amway Center. (Photo courtesy Amway Center)

Allen Johnson didn’t take any chances. Johnson, chief venues officer at Amway Center in Orlando, took immediate action after a potential threat surfaced on social media against pop star Lana Del Rey before her Feb. 2 concert. 

Johnson was not about to let another tragedy unfold after 49 people were killed at Orlando’s Pulse nightclub by a lone gunman in June 2016, at the time the worst mass shooting in U.S. history. Two days before the Pulse shootings, singer Christina Grimmie was shot and killed at a meet-and-greet at Orlando's Plaza Live theater. The gunman, who then killed himself, was "infatuated" with Grimmie, according to police reports.

It was against this backdrop that Johnson quickly developed a comprehensive plan with the Orlando Police Department, which included additional protection for the artist and putting the arena on lockdown mode.

“About 11 a.m. [day of show], I received a call from my security team and from my Orlando police liaison, informing me that they had received via social media a credible threat to the artist’s safety,” Johnson said.

“The difference between a threat and a credible threat is that they looked into the background of the individual who is making the threat and whether he has the criminal history or potential to do something.”

After confirming a credible threat, Amway Center staff instituted a lockdown of the building. Over the next several hours, up to showtime, anybody leaving and returning to the building, including Johnson, had to go through security and the metal detectors in place at the gates.

In addition, police increased its presence outside the arena prior to the concert.

“We had uniformed SWAT teams out front,” Johnson said. “We do that now for some events and all Magic games … just to have a presence. People have to remember that we’ve had some incidents in Orlando’s history and we take these threats very seriously."

That explains why the arena and city police acted swiftly and provided Del Rey with an additional layer of security starting at her hotel and continuing through the end of her show. Those measures were done in conjunction with her tour management, personal security force and Live Nation, the promoter.

The plan worked. The suspect, Michael Shawn Hunt, a resident of Greater Tampa, was arrested a few blocks from the arena before the concert. He was charged with attempted kidnapping with a weapon and aggravated stalking with a credible threat. Hunt had also served five prison terms before his most recent arrest, according to the Orlando Sentinel.

Orlando police intelligence played a key role by identifying the suspect after friending him on Facebook, where he had posted a series of disturbing comments about Lana Del Rey, including the possibility of kidnapping her.

Police were alerted to Hunt after a separate Facebook friend of the suspect notified law enforcement in the Tampa area about the posts. In turn, local officials contacted Orlando police, Johnson said.

Police went to a residence before the show looking for Hunt, but it turned out to be his former home, Johnson said. They had the make and model of his vehicle, but Hunt used a ride-hailing service to get to the show rather than drive.

Police were ready for him. Photographs of Hunt had been distributed at every checkpoint outside the arena and at the gates. When Hunt was apprehended, he had a concert ticket and was found with a small pocket knife.

“He was stopped two blocks from the venue in an Uber pool lane where they drop people off,” Johnson said. “Some media misreported it, that it was [just] outside the venue. He never got out of the car. We took care of him and the threat was eliminated.”

For Johnson, who runs multiple city-owned facilities, including Amway Center, it helped that he has a strong relationship with Orlando law enforcement. Both Johnson and Police John Chief Mina report to the same boss, Mayor Buddy Dyer.

"What’s important in a situation like this is to have complete, transparent communication,” Johnson said. “Law enforcement sometimes isn’t willing to share a lot of stuff because they feel like it hinders them from doing their job. I can call the police chief [directly], whereas if you’re at a venue that’s privately managed, they may not have that same relationship.”

In the end, “take every threat seriously and don’t discount it,” Johnson said. “If you get a credible threat, you have to handle it with a high degree of importance."


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Capital One Arena’s Makeover Plans Revealed
 
Posted: 12 Feb 2018, 7:00 pm

Rendering of one of the new main concourses at Capital One Arena in Washington, D.C., which will undergo a $40 million renovation. (Photo courtesy Monumental Sports & Entertainment)

Details of Capital One Arena’s $40 million renovation plans have emerged.

The project is privately financed by the owner of the Washington, D.C., venue, Monumental Sports & Entertainment, and was first announced, with no details, in August, at the same time as a new naming-rights deal with Capital One, worth a reported $100 million over 10 years. The arena had been known as Verizon Center since 2006.

Improvements to the 20-year-old facility will include new upgraded seats including the end-zone risers, new clubs, a state-of-the-art sound system, new floors and lighting, renovated concourses, redesigned concession stands and a new menu designed by celebrity chefs.

The architect is Gensler. Ryan Sickman, director of sports, is the principal architect.

“The arena is a great venue, but it’s due for a refresh,” said Sickman. “We’re looking at bringing the arena into today’s standards and making it viable for the foreseeable future.”

“We also want to make the premium clubs something that is desirable for today’s fan base,” he said. “The idea isn’t around doing anything significantly different, or outlandish in its thought process. It’s about modernizing the arena.”

We’ve been talking with Capital One about the potential for long-term improvements since late last year, said Sickman, adding that he started on the design in earnest in January.

“The design is still evolving,” he said. “We’re involved in all the public-facing amenity improvements, some of which are still being worked out.”

Sickman said one of the challenges was “opening up one of the corners of the concourse and renovating an old underutilized storage room.”

Revamping the PwC Club and creating the new clubs were a priority. “The bar is being reimagined,” he said. “We’re going to modify the seating to increase the number of seats as well as open up the sight lines. We’re modernizing the experience with plush chairs and an elevated barstool situation.”

“We’re also looking at how the food service is utilized,” Sickman said. “There was a pass-through window that is boarded up and not being used that we plan to reopen and we’re going to create another kitchen to service the club.”

Anyone can walk through the club to get from one side of the facility to another, he said, so designers are working on creating a new pass-through without having to enter the club.

Monumental is adding two new clubs, one on the main concourse. In addition, the concourses on the 100 and 400 levels will be completely renovated with new wall treatments, new flooring, lighting and modern decor, and new digital displays will be added throughout the concourses to make the arena easier to navigate.

“The project will begin as soon as [the NHL Capitals and NBA Wizards are] out of the playoffs, which could be in May or June depending upon how the teams do this year,” said David Touhey, Monumental Sports & Entertainment president of venues.

The arena’s purple seats will be replaced by black seats with cupholders, Touhey said.

The facility’s concessionaire, Aramark, has been advising on the improvements.

“We’re redoing all the concession stands and bringing in celebrity chefs Alex McCoy and Cat Cora to redesign our menus, both in the clubs and in the general public stands,” Touhey said. “The new food offerings will be upscale.”

SatelliteStore_1200.jpgRendering of the reimagined team store at Capital One Arena. (Courtesy Monumental Sports & Entertainment)

Capital One Arena is home to the Capitals, Wizards, WNBA Mystics, Georgetown University basketball and the Valor, one of two Arena Football League franchises owned by Monumental owner Ted Leonsis.

The team store inside the arena’s F Street entrance will be updated and will be open year-round once the renovations are complete.

The face-lift is expected to be completed by October. The construction team is KDR, based in Virginia.

The building will remain open throughout most of the reconstruction with two multi-week dark windows, one at the beginning of August and the other closer to September. During the renovations, U2, Hall & Oates, Sam Smith, Shania Twain, Harry Styles and Elton John are expected to play the facility.

The plans also call for further development of the Monumental360 program, which analyzes fan preferences and aims to deliver a more personalized experience.

“Everything is aimed at improving the guest experience,” Touhey said. “Whether it be the sound, the look, the feel or the taste, the improvements will touch it all. This will enhance the experience for everyone who comes to the building.”


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Nashville Visionary Steve Buchanan Retiring
 
Posted: 12 Feb 2018, 5:35 pm

Steve_Buchanan_200x145.jpgSteve Buchanan.

Opry Entertainment Group President Steve Buchanan is leaving his post after running the company for 33 years. Buchanan is also the executive producer of the TV show “Nashville.”

Buchanan joined the Grand Ole Opry in 1985 as marketing manager and is credited with revitalizing the brand, along with Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium, and returning both to their former glory.

At the time, the Opry attendance and relevance in the country community was in deep decline, with many artists choosing to bypass the venue. Buchanan used old-fashioned PR to get top acts and the public back through the door, leading to a rebirth of the Opry as the home of country music.

Buchanan’s knowledge and love for country music and its stars paved the way for the development of the “Nashville” TV series, which is in its final season on CMT.

 


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Banks, Marshall, O2, Glasto: Meet The International Pollstar Award Winners
 
Posted: 9 Feb 2018, 2:07 pm
Pollstar Live! not only welcomes delegates from all over the world to the conference, but also recognizes them with dedicated Pollstar Awards. Here?s what this year?s winners have to say.

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Dueling Plans For Fairgrounds Fixes
 
Posted: 7 Feb 2018, 9:20 pm

The Coliseum, built in 1901, is one of several buildings at the Illinois State Fairgrounds in need of repair. The estimated cost is $3.7 million.

A nonprofit foundation formed two years ago to raise money to fix deteriorating buildings on the 120-year-old Illinois State Fairgrounds has raised $50,000. It's a tidy sum, but not nearly enough.

According to a 2016 report by Hillsboro, Ill.-based architectural firm Hurst-Rosche, it would cost $3.7 million to repair the buildings, including the 2,688-seat Coliseum, where horse shows traditionally were held. The Coliseum, built in 1901, has been close since 2016

The state-funded fairgrounds has 170 buildings and sits on 360 acres in unincorporated Sangamon County, just north of the state capital of Springfield. Residents and businesses are upset with the lack of funding for the facilities, Illinois Fairgrounds Foundation Board Chair John Slayton said.

"I think they're upset with the deplorable conditions that the fairgrounds are in," he said. "The fairgrounds have been ignored by the state for years and years."

Two funding options are now on the table. One is for the foundation to sell naming rights for four of the fairground buildings, including the Coliseum, for $1 million apiece, he said. The other is for the city of Springfield to annex the fairgrounds so the venue can receive city sales tax dollars - something Springfield Mayor Jim Langfelder is working toward.

Slayton says one option is far more likely to happen than the other. "We're deep into conversations with two entities on establishing naming rights," he said.

"The annexation issue has come up every two or three or four years. The mayor will bring it up. The city has major deficits, so I don't see it happening," Slayton said. 

Rebecca Clark, Illinois Department of Agriculture communications manager, also has seen different Springfield mayors work to annex the fairgrounds, all of them unsuccessfully.

"We go through this every year at budget time," she said.

A one-mile racetrack, 13,000-seat grandstands and four indoor arenas also are on the fairgrounds. The horse shows that traditionally were held in the Coliseum have moved to an outdoor covered arena next door, Slayton said.

"I think most people would prefer to have the Coliseum for horse shows," he said. Attendance trends for the horse shows was unavailable.

The fairgrounds are also used year-round for agriculture shows, conventions, trade shows, auto shows, camping and weddings.

The 11-day Illinois State Fair, held every August, brings a huge economic boon to Springfield, said Clark.

"There's a multimillion-dollar economic impact. Putting people to work. There's a tremendous trickle-down effect," she said.

An economic impact study conducted by the University of Illinois showed that the 11 days of the Illinois State Fair contributes $86 million in business volume to the local economy, including $35 million for wages and salaries, according to Clark.

"The fair itself also generates more than $2 million in state sales tax revenue," she said.

Attendance numbers in the last three years have remained steady, according to the state. In 2017, a total of 401,648 attended the fair, up from the 357,409 in 2016. In 2015, a total of 411,547 people attended.

Those figures are down from the 700,000 that attended roughly 10 years ago, according to Slayton.


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Hot Tickets For February 7, 2018
 
Posted: 7 Feb 2018, 8:25 pm

"The Lion King" is the highest grossing Broadway production of all time, having grossed more than $1 billion.

"The Lion King" ruled Atlanta for nine performances in January at the Fox Theatre, drawing nearly 40,000 people and grossing $3,234,968. The beloved show has been on Broadway for more than 20 years and touring companies have been on the road since the early 2000s.

Speaking of someone who knows how to roar, Katy Perry drew 12,944 to T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, producing a gross of $1,230,517. Witness: The Tour has just finished up a North American leg but in March will head to South America and Asia. 

HOT TICKETS is a weekly summary of the top events and ticket sales as reported to VenuePulse via Pollstar. Following are the top 20 concerts and events, the top 5 in each attendance category, which took place between Jan. 10-Feb. 7.

15,001 or More Attendance

10,001-15,000 Attendance

5,001-10,000 Attendance

5,000 or Fewer Attendance

1) The Lion King
Gross Sales: $3,234,968; Venue: Fox Theatre, Atlanta; Attendance: 38,397; Ticket Range: $195.50-$30; Promoter: Broadway Across America; Dates: Jan. 23-28; No. of Shows: 9

2) Cirque du Soleil “Crystal”
Gross Sales: $1,805,547; Venue: Little Caesars Arena, Detroit; Attendance: 24,254; Ticket Range: $135-$40; Promoter: Cirque du Soleil; Dates: Jan. 10-14; No. of Shows: 7

3) Sandy Lam
Gross Sales: $2,745,747; Venue: Mercedes-Benz Arena, Shangai; Attendance: 22,314; Ticket Range: $220.23-$60.64; Promoter: Shanghai Pujie Culture Broadcasting; Dates: Jan. 27-28; No. of Shows: 2

4) Les Miserables
Gross Sales: $1,556,318; Venue: Academy Of Music, Philadelphia; Attendance: 18,827; Ticket Range: $124-$15; Promoter: In-house; Dates: Jan. 9-14; No. of Shows: 8

5) Julion Alvarez
Gross Sales: $551,029; Venue: Arena Monterrey, Mexico; Attendance: 17,500; Ticket Range: $135.05-$13.50; Promoter: Zignia Live; Dates: Jan. 13; No. of Shows: 1

1) Katy Perry>
Gross Sales: $1,230,517; Venue: T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas; Attendance: 12,944; Ticket Range: $200.59-$50.59; Promoter: AEG Presents, Concerts West, Goldenvoice; Dates: Jan. 20; No. of Shows: 1

2) Strictly Come Dancing Live!
Gross Sales: $779,987; Venue: Metro Radio Arena, Newcastle Upon Tyne, England; Attendance: 12,709; Ticket Range: $79.74-$42.94; Promoter: Stage Entertainment Touring Productions; Dates: Jan. 23-24; No. of Shows: 3

3) The Harlem Globetrotters
Gross Sales: $407,386; Venue: American Airlines Center, Dallas; Attendance: 12,660; Ticket Range: $160-$15; Promoter: Herschend Family Entertainment; Dates: Jan. 27; No. of Shows: 2

4) One Ok Rock
Gross Sales: $1,314,814; Venue: Mercedes-Benz Arena, Shanghai; Attendance: 10,493; Ticket Range: $252.01-$76.56; Promoter: Shanghai Zhenyi Culture Communication Company ; Dates: Jan. 23; No. of Shows: 1

5) The Killers
Gross Sales: $725,790; Venue: Infinite Energy Center, Duluth, Ga.; Attendance: 10,060; Ticket Range: $90-$25; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Jan. 21; No. of Shows: 1

1) Rod Stewart
Gross Sales: $1,089,763; Venue: Konig-Pilsener Arena, Oberhausen, Germany; Attendance: 9,840; Ticket Range: $177.93-$72.40; Promoter: Lars Berndt Events; Dates: Jan. 27; No. of Shows: 1

2) Avenged Sevenfold
Gross Sales: $515,495; Venue: Verizon Arena, North Little Rock, Ark.; Attendance: 9,784; Ticket Range: $75-$25; Promoter: CMoore Live, FPC Live, NS2; Dates: Feb. 2; No. of Shows: 1

3) Miranda Lambert
Gross Sales: $606,228; Venue: Infinite Energy Center, Duluth, Ga.; Attendance: 9,770; Ticket Range: $78.75-$43.75; Promoter: In-house; Dates: Jan. 20; No. of Shows: 1

4) Avenged Sevenfold
Gross Sales: $518,499; Venue: Ford Center, Evansville, Ind.; Attendance: 9,582; Ticket Range: $75-$25; Promoter: CMoore Live, FPC Live, NS2; Dates: Feb. 3; No. of Shows: 1

5) Avenged Sevenfold
Gross Sales: $447,125; Venue: Peoria (Ill.) Civic Center Arena; Attendance: 8,805; Ticket Range: $75-$25; Promoter: CMoore Live, FPC Live, NS2; Dates: Jan. 25; No. of Shows: 1

1) Above & Beyond
Gross Sales: $212,712; Venue: Place Bell, Laval, Quebec; Attendance: 4,194; Ticket Range: $63.29-$23.49; Promoter: Evenko, Live Nation; Dates: Feb. 3; No. of Shows: 1

2) Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood
Gross Sales: $141,986; Venue: Rosemont (Ill.) Theatre; Attendance: 3,740; Ticket Range: $75-$25.75; Promoter: In-house, Mills Entertainment; Dates: Jan. 21; No. of Shows: 1

3) The Moody Blues
Gross Sales: $293,802; Venue: H-E-B Center at Cedar Park, Texas; Attendance: 3,645; Ticket Range: $158.75-$37.75; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Jan. 21; No. of Shows: 1

4) Pitbull
Gross Sales: $442,670; Venue: WinStar Global Event Center, Thackerville, Okla.; Attendance: 3,442; Ticket Range: $500-$85; Promoter: In-house; Dates: Jan. 26; No. of Shows: 1

5) Dancing With The Stars
Gross Sales: $287,613; Venue: Wang Theatre at Boch Center, Boston; Attendance: 3,427; Ticket Range: $125-$49; Promoter: Ed Atamian Presents, Elite Entertainment, Parachute Concerts; Dates: Jan. 25; No. of Shows: 1

The Weekly Hot Tickets chart is compiled by Brad Rogers, brad@pollstar.com. To submit reports, e-mail Brad@pollstar.com or submit to (714) 378-0040.

 


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'Fan Experience Starts In The Parking Lot'
 
Posted: 7 Feb 2018, 6:00 pm

SMA’s Transportation panel: Moderator John Beattie, stadium manager, Arsenal Football Club; Anthony Squeo, VP of large venue operations, SP+ Gameday; Jarrod Fresquez, chief evangelist and founding member, Parkhub; Mark Mock, Impark; Michael Rescigno, director of operations, Impark; and Chris Prisk, senior traffic engineer, Langan Engineering & Environmental Services.

How to capture the most revenue from the parking component of the venue operation, sponsorships with ride-hailing companies, using historical data to help parking congestion, and even a future with driverless cars all took up part of the discussion on a panel focusing on transportation at the Stadium Managers Association Conference, held Feb. 4-7 at Hotel Del Coronado in San Diego.

Fans often say in post-event surveys that parking hassles are their No. 1 gripe, said Anthony Squeo, VP of large venue operations at SP+ Gameday. To alleviate some of the issues associated with parking, Squeo and his associates created the “know before you go” program, which encourages fans to think about and pre-buy parking in an effort to avoid fans trying to push into the venue and pay at the parking gate, all at the same time.

“Sell your parking in advance and give them a place to go,” he said. “We like to get people to buy their parking in advance so that we know exactly when they are coming and where they are coming from. Advance information is important and moves the flow of parking substantially.”

He cited a case study of Los Angeles’ Greek Theatre. “We asked them to change their ticketing and include parking information,” he said. “Parking was sold online, at a lower rate than on show nights, and we increased online sales by 800 percent.”

Another aspect of “know before you go” is putting correct GPS information out there so people can avoid streets that are closed or have been turned one-way for the event, he said.

“It is critical that your facilities have the correct address and the correct coordinates on the internet maps,” he stressed, mentioning that previous to his company working with Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, the venue had only one gate where maps directed drivers to go. “We went to Google and Waze and had them add another five gates.”

“Signage is also very important,” he advised stadium managers. “It needs to be consistent, and the message has to be clear.”

Jarrod Fresquez, chief evangelist and founding member of Parkhub, was concerned with the time and hassle associated with cash payments. “Cash takes longer than swiping a credit card,” he said. “Plus we don’t get good data from cash customers.”

Our goal is faster parking, happier guests and more revenue, he said.

Fresquez also discussed how many venues are losing revenue by not constantly checking parking passes. “We found over 600 invalid passes at one facility. Either the passes were out of date or forgeries,” he said. “That meant $75,000 in lost revenue.”

Mark Mock of Impark cautioned, “The fan experience starts in the parking lot” and suggested looking at key performance indicators that use historical data.

“Analyze last year’s data and find out how long it it takes to complete a transaction and how fast it takes to get through a lane,” he said. “You can add cashiers, or put two workers in a lane.”

Mock also pointed out that egress was just as important as ingress. “Many people focus on getting the fans into the venue but ignore the aggravation fans experience when they leave and it takes an hour and a half to get out,” he said. “Use your analytics to find out the pressure points and find ways to alleviate it.”

Mock’s colleague, Micahael Rescigno, director of operations for Impark, said monitoring social media was another way to improve the parking experience for fans.

“Look to social media for sensitive data” Rescigno said. “If you read the posts and fans are griping about how long it takes to get into the parking facility, find ways to make that operation run smoother and quicker. If fans are complaining about a pothole in the road, fix it.”

Rescigno said that Yelp was his best resource and that the platform also provided extra value for venue operators who paid close attention to reviews of the facilities’parking.

“Fans often try to help each other out and point out places they parked for free, like empty lots on a Sunday night at a mall close by,” he noticed. Rescigno’s way to “recapture that revenue” is to call the stakeholder of that off-venue lot and let them know that people are parking there and urge them to have that fan towed or ticketed.

Chris Prisk, senior traffic engineer at Langan Engineering & Environmental Services, said the advent of ride-hailing services was both a blessing and a curse. “The downside is less parking onsite,” Prisk said. “The upside is happier fans.”

Along with the dawn of ride-hailing come new challenges: “You’ve got all these cars lining up now to drop off the guests and smart venues are creating lanes and dedicated areas for the ridesharing companies to drop off the fans,” Prisk said. “Venues also need to be aware that now they also have an influx of cars coming back at the end of the game to pick the fans up. This is something new and something to plan for.”

“Uber and Lyft are not going away and ridesharing as a way to get to and from venues are only gaining momentum,” he said. 

Prisk also strongly advocated making sponsorship deals. “Making a deal is free,” he explained. “The ridesharing companies only want promotion, traffic views and monthly data in return. But don’t expect data from the ridesharing companies to be reciprocal. They keep their data to themselves.”

Prisk also urged facilities to make deals with mapping services like Waze and Google Maps.

“Getting them onboard is crucial,” he said. “By working with these platforms you can advise them in advance about where the specific dropoff and pickup lots are located and have the maps take the drivers to those locations. You can let them know about road closures, and you can let them know about streets that have been designated as one-way.”

None of the parking experts are concerned about a scenario when driverless cars and car-sharing become the norm.

Fresquez thinks that driverless cars are “a lot further away then people are talking about” and he and many of the fans “like to take their own cars, and changing that is a long way down the road.”

“When a driverless car can drop off a barbecue and food and drinks for tailgating, I’ll worry about it,” Rescigno said.

 

 

 

 

 


 


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ACL Shoots VR Features
 
Posted: 7 Feb 2018, 3:00 pm

Austin-based VR tech firm SubVRsive led the filming of the "ACL: Backstage" series at the ACL Live at the Moody Theater. (SubVRsive)

Virtual reality technology has become a part of one of the best-known live music brands in the industry: Austin City Limits.

The iconic public television program has produced a series of online 360-degree short documentaries called "ACL: Backstage" that feature interviews and performance footage from recent performers including Ed Sheeran, Father John Misty and Run the Jewels, with the full slate of docs set for gradual release through March.

Austin-based VR technology company SubVRsive led the filming and production of the series at the Austin City Limits Live at the Moody Theater, using Google VR capabilities in a partnership sponsored by Apple Music.

The "ACL: Backstage" episodes present a mix of the series' well-known live music performances with interview footage and segments with artists traveling around Austin and interacting with the community, but with the option to change the perspective and viewpoint of what's on the screen. Those behind the episodes said that telling a story using the emerging technology was an important consideration, rather than simply releasing raw performance footage that users could manipulate but could quickly lose interest in.

"We're not just letting them feel like they're in the venue and that's it, and instead these are stories about the artists with a narrative arc," said Tom Gimbel, general manager of the Austin City Limits television series. "We wanted to use this technology in a subversive way and be storytellers with it. We've found that people tend to watch the entire episode once to get the story we're telling them, and then go back a second time to look all around at what Ed Sheeran was seeing while he was performing."

The VR episodes had their premiere in November on the ACL YouTube channel, with the content viewable on mobile and desktop platforms and through the use of Google's Daydream View and Cardboard headset.

Gimbel said he and others involved in the series started taking meetings four years ago with VR companies interested in leveraging the ACL brand. Considerations included the quality of the technology available and the ability of potential partners to integrate the VR filming with the stationary, handheld and crane cameras used to produce each episode of the television series.

The two companies are in talks to film a second set of "ACL: Backstage" episodes for the show's coming 44th season.

Looking at what the technology could mean for the live music industry as a whole, Gimbel is bullish.

"As a fan I don't think there's a way to beat being there live, but I think VR can be a game changer for live music on TV and can be the next best thing as the technology improves and we start to experience audio in a 360-degree way," he said. "It's a fun way to experience live music, sports and any events that revolve around being in a community and sharing a common experience."

The ACL series is the latest high-profile production for SubVRsive, which has also produced content for "Showtime Championship Boxing," MTV and brands such as Marc Jacobs, Comcast and Sam's Club.

Austin Mace, the company's co-founder and chief creative officer, said live events represent some of the content most effective in attracting new consumers to the format and educating them on the ways VR can be presented and consumed.

"There's still lots of education going on, like how do you experience it, where do you go to try it, and what kind of hardware do you need?" he said. "These kinds of series are necessary to help the technology evolve and become more commonplace. With people like [sports owners and entertainment executives] Mark Cuban and Peter Guber investing in this, there's more coming on the horizon.

"For a while there were maybe a dozen players trying to do things in VR, but as the cost on cameras and other technology has come down, that has created more opportunity to create content in VR. There's lots of experimenting going on and people finding new ways for the medium to enhance the story, the live concert or other event."


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Dreskin Joins Eventbrite's Board
 
Posted: 7 Feb 2018, 12:00 pm

Andrew_Dreskin2.jpgAndrew Dreskin, Eventbrite president of music and board member.

Andrew Dreskin, co-founder and former CEO of Ticketfly and TicketWeb and now president of music at Eventbrite, has been named to Eventbrite’s board of directors.

The move is the latest development in Dreskin’s assimilation into Eventbrite leadership. He said he and Eventbrite co-founders Julia and Kevin Hartz have been friends for years and would often discuss over dinner and wine the prospects of their companies joining forces even before the 2015 sale of Ticketfly to Pandora.

“It’s not lost on Julia or me that the time we spent competing over the years was not time overly well spent,” he said. “We could have be directing our energies towards solving the problems of independent music venues and promoters if we work together….

“Eventbrite is roughly 10 blocks away from where Ticketfly’s office was [in San Francisco]. We’re in a similar space. We both have a belief in a strong corporate culture. We both have a strong belief that there should be a thriving independent music scene and great technology offerings for those independent venues and promoters which enable them to succeed.”

Eventbrite finally did acquire Ticketfly from Pandora in September 2017, making it the biggest independent ticketing company in the North America (though AXS and Ticketmaster, the ticketing arms of AEG and Live Nation, in many ways still dominate the overall market).

He said the big goal for the company moving forward is to make life better for promoters and venues by combining the deep domain expertise of Ticketfly in music with Eventbrite’s DNA as a true-blue tech startup.

“I’m happy to be joining the board," Dreskin said. "Eventbrite is a fantastic company and it’s a very interesting board. … I think my appointment to the board makes a statement to the marketplace: Eventbrite is committed to the independent live music scene.”


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Blazers Building Exclusive Club
 
Posted: 6 Feb 2018, 10:10 pm

The new courtside club at Moda Center will offer a change from the arena's other, more contemporary club spaces.  (Portland Trail Blazers)

The NBA's Portland Trail Blazers are building an exclusive new courtside club to serve the roughly 150 fans sitting in the first row at Moda Center.

Construction on the $1 million retrofit started in November and should be completed by the end of February, said Chris Oxley, the Blazers' senior vice president of venue operations.

"There's a good push to get it completed, and we feel good it will open with the last stretch of the season intact," Oxley said.

For those season-ticket holders paying more than $1,000 a game to put their feet on the court, it's a top-shelf amenity they did not previously enjoy for Blazers games. They had access to other clubs at Moda Center, which opened in 1995, but no space to call their own, he said. There are no additional fees to access the courtside club.

"We don't have bunker suites, and this was an opportunity to do something special for them," Oxley said.

The redeveloped space, measured at 1,335 square feet, is in the arena's southeast corner at event level, opposite stage end. It's an enclosed room and has no views to the court. The club replaces an old housekeeping office, which has been relocated elsewhere at that level, Oxley said.

GBD Architects, the Portland firm responsible for designing previous arena upgrades such as the Studio Suites and The Pines, a bar in the upper deck, did the work on the courtside club. The look and feel is of a cocktail lounge with a speakeasy vibe. The centerpiece is a barrel ceiling, and the room features brass and wood finishes and furniture with a rich burgundy color.

"It's not as contemporary-looking as some of the other spaces we've built over the past few years," Oxley said. "It's warm and comfortable with ambient lighting, a stark difference from our other clubs, which was intentional. We wanted it to stand out. It gives those fans a chance to unwind from the excitement of the game."

The club is to be branded for a sponsor, pending a naming-rights deal, Oxley said.

It will open 90 minutes before tipoff and stay open for about an hour after the game, and could also operate for concerts. It's close to the area reserved for performers, and there's a chance it could be reserved for the act's use, depending on the show, but no decision has been made, Oxley said.

Just across an outdoor concourse from the arena, the Blazers are in the early stages of developing a new whiskey lounge in a small building that used to contain a Widmer Brothers microbrewery. Craft whiskeys are a hot trend in Portland, and the Blazers want to capitalize by offering another pregame destination for their fans, Oxley said.

The space sits next to Dr. Jack's, a popular sports bistro named for Jack Ramsay, the late Blazers coach and longtime broadcaster who led the team to the 1977 NBA championship.

Separately, the Blazers hired OVG Global Partnerships to help the team sign a jersey sponsor, said Chris McGowan, the team's president and CEO (OVG Global Partnerships is a division of Oak View Group, which also owns VenuesNow). The agreement came as a result of the Arena Alliance, a group of more than 25 big league buildings that partner with OVG to book concerts at their facilities. Moda Center is part of the alliance. In addition, McGowan has a strong relationship with Oak View Group CEO Tim Leiweke through their 17 years working together at AEG.

"We had a deal for a jersey sponsor and at the last minute it went south and went away … after there was a management transition within that company," McGowan said. "So, we took a step back to redevelop our strategy and take a slower approach to it. We were in talks with OVG about sponsorships after they got into that business. We decided to give this a try."

OVG Global Partnerships President Dan Griffis and Ryan Brach, the group's vice president, are taking the lead in signing a jersey sponsor. Brach negotiated the Western Union jersey sponsorship for the Denver Nuggets when he worked for Kroenke Sports & Entertainment. The Blazers hope to get a deal signed for next season, McGowan said.

OVG officials have a handful of meetings scheduled later this month when the NBA All-Star Game will be in Los Angeles.

Outside of facility naming rights, the jersey patch is among the most valuable sponsorships for an NBA team. Those deals typically run seven figures annually.

"A lot of the jersey patch deals done have been 'backyard plays' with local brands," McGowan said. "In our case, we're looking at all options [including] an international brand."


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Pollstar Live! 2018 Conference Hub
 
Posted: 5 Feb 2018, 9:58 pm

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Sources: Philips Won't Renew Naming Rights
 
Posted: 5 Feb 2018, 9:55 pm

Philips Arena in Atlanta shown in 2002, three years after it opened. (Getty Images)

Technology firm Philips will not renew its naming rights deal for the Atlanta Hawks’ arena, sources said. The agreement expires in June 2019.

Team spokesman Garin Narain confirmed the deal runs into 2019, but said, “At this point, we’re not ready to say anything.”

Philips officials did not return emails and phone calls for comment.

Sources said the decision was imminent after the 127-year-old Netherlands-based company sold most of its consumer electronics assets to a Japanese competitor in 2013. Philips has shifted its focus to residential lighting and healthcare technology, and extending the deal does not fit with its core business strategy, sources said.

The decision ends a sponsorship that has stood for years among the most lucrative naming-rights deals in sports and entertainment. In February 1999, Philips signed a 20-year, $185 million deal to brand Philips Arena, which opened as the new home of the Hawks and Thrashers, an NHL expansion team (the franchise moved to Winnipeg in 2011). At the time, the agreement, valued at $9.25 million annually, was the richest in sports among all arenas and stadiums with naming rights.

Since that time, new arenas have driven naming-rights dollars higher. The Philips Arena deal, though, has held up over time and remains one of the top deals in the industry. It ranks fifth overall among NBA and NHL facilities, according to research by SportsBusiness Journal, behind Air Canada Centre, which officially becomes Scotiabank Arena on July 1; Chase Center, the Golden State Warriors’ new arena, which is scheduled to open in 2019; Barclays Center; and American Airlines Center.

In Atlanta, the Hawks now have a clean slate to rebrand their building tied to an extensive $193 million renovation, which is scheduled for completion in the fall of 2019. The team has talked with consultants about hiring them to help negotiate a new naming rights agreement. On their own, the Hawks have had discussions with potential naming rights partners, sources said.

Internally, Andrew Saltzman is the Hawks' executive vice president and chief revenue officer. In December, the team hired Michael Drake as senior vice president of corporate partnerships and premium sales. Drake came from Legends Global Sales, where he ran premium seat sales for new NFL stadiums for the Falcons and 49ers.

Philips Arena was one of eight big league arenas that opened in 1999. Of that total, three other arenas —  AmericanAirlines Arena, Bankers Life Fieldhouse and Pepsi Center — also have 20-year naming rights deals set to expire in 2019.


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Levity Looks To Upgrade The Improv
 
Posted: 5 Feb 2018, 6:00 pm

The Improv comedy club brand has been acquired by Levity Entertainment Group.

Levity Entertainment Group is serious about its plans for its new comedy acquisition.

Levity acquired The Improv, the comedy brand started 54 years ago by Budd Friedman, in a deal that closed Feb. 1.  Friedman invented the concept of a "comedy club" with the opening of The Improv in New York City in 1963, and since then The Improv has grown to more than 20 clubs nationwide under Friedman and co-owner Mark Lonow.

"There are few brands that have a half-century of history," said Stu Schreiberg, chief operating officer of Levity Entertainment Group. "This was the first comedy club ever, and the history of improv unfolded on its stages, from [Richard] Pryor to [Jay] Leno to [Jerry] Seinfeld."

Now Levity is considering how to build on that legacy, and high on the list are improved seating and premium food and beverage.

"People have the vision of a '70s comedy club with tight seating and bad hamburgers, but we're going to create an environment for a much more sophisticated and demanding audience," Schreiberg said.

Levity also plans to introduce more video into the clubs, turning them into "mini-studios" built for livestreaming. "That's especially important because artists are using video more and more," he said.

Levity Entertainment Group owns entertainment venues nationwide; Triage Entertainment, a television production company; and Levity Talent Management, which represents more than 50 artists. Levity Entertainment Group is a joint venture between Azoff MSG Entertainment and Madison Square Garden Entertainment.  (Azoff MSG Entertainment's Irving Azoff is a co-founder of Oak View Group, which owns VenuesNow.)

"We've owned improvs across the country for some time, but we've never owned the brand," Schreiberg said. "So it only made sense to be the logical buyer of the club so we could evolve the build and brand of the clubs simultaneously. We had a lot of the brick-and-mortar, but not the brand, and now we have both."

Discussions started during the last six months, he said. "We had a long history together. Both parties knew each other well because we're the licensee and they were the licensor," Schreiberg said. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Friedman, in a statement, said: "When I started The Improv on 44th Street with little more than a brick wall, I couldn't imagine it would endure for over a half-century. So much of the history of comedy played out on our stages."

There are 23 Improvs, including clubs in Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston and Miami, Schreiberg said. Levity plans to grow them "to well over 50 in the next three to five years" and add international clubs.

"There's a tremendous value to owning an international string of comedy venues," Schreiberg said. "From a quantitative and qualitative standpoint, there's a value in knowing who is that next generation of comedy artists and who is getting traction."

Tickets at a typical comedy club are $20-$45. A typical capacity is 300-500, and per caps are "in the $20s," said Schreiberg, who added that hot comedy acts currently include Sebastian Maniscalco, Gad Elmaleh and Vir Das.

The Improv also maintains a library of classic comedy assets, including the series "An Evening at The Improv," originally broadcast on A&E for 14 years.


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CONTACTLESS TICKETING EXPANDING
 
Posted: 1 Feb 2018, 4:00 pm

MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL and Tickets.com have a solution for those times when you’re rushing to the game just before first pitch — as long as you own an Apple device.

Tickets.com has partnered with technology provider Infinite Peripherals to continue implementing contactless ticketing at more MLB ballparks after a pilot with MLB and the Oakland Athletics.
The contactless system was piloted in September at the Oakland Coliseum, coinciding with the release of iOS 11, which introduced the NFC feature. According to the announcement, after that pilot was successful, the technology was implemented at a performing arts center in Houston. TechCrunch reported the pilot program with the A’s represented the first time the NFC tech¬nology was used other than for stored balance (e.g. Starbucks) or rewards cards.
iPhone and Apple Watch users can enter stadiums just by holding their device near the NFC receivers at the gate. Those receivers will use Infinite Peripherals’ Infinea Mobile Point-of-Sale and Bluepad products to scan passes in Apple Wallet.
“Contactless technology is rapidly transforming the way we process various forms of transactions and it’s only fitting that we start to bring this seamless experience to live events,” Jose Vidal, the vice president of Global Sales at Infinite Peripherals, said in a statement. “With our innovative technology in collaboration with Tickets.com, fans, concert goers, and theater lovers will enjoy a fun, frictionless experience with their iPhone and Apple Watch when attending shows.”
The NFC feature is useful in a number of ways, but it stands out for its security. Whereas barcodes and paper tickets can be easily replicated, a mobile wallet pass is much harder to crack, according to the announcement. The Infinea technology is designed to immediately detect and authenticate a ticket in Apple Wallet by communicating with Tickets.com’s proprietary security program. Fans can use a feature that allows their mobile passes to scan without having to unlock their own device.
With the ubiquity of Apple mobile devices, perhaps stadiums will even open express entrances for the new technology.

This article appeared in SportTechie, an affiliated publication.


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TURNING SPORTS VENUES INTO AUGMENTED REALITY CONSOLES
 
Posted: 1 Feb 2018, 4:00 pm

Imagine if the sports venue you were in were transformed into a giant video game console, with your phone serving as a controller that enables you to unlock new levels of a mixed reality experience that runs alongside action on the video board and field.

Xperiel, founded by a set of brothers who previously worked as Google engineers, has been rapidly expanding its suite of augmented reality products for the sports industry since announcing a $7 million funding round that included backing from early Google investor Ram Shriram, the Los Angeles Dodgers and Major League Baseball in August 2016.
The company now counts the New York Jets, Golden State Warriors and Sacramento Kings among its growing suite of cli¬ents, helping them to create apps that take advantage of the existing technology in venues and the mobile devices fans already have to build apps that drive fan en¬gagement and higher-than-usual conversions for brands from interactive ads.
Xperiel CEO Alex Hertel said his company is meshing augmented reality with the internet of things in an effort to blur the lines between the digital and physical worlds.
Some of the company’s recent work ranges from augmented reality T-shirt cannons, video boards that tempt fans at MetLife Stadium to catch digital merchandise through the camera feature on their phones, to predictive gaming experiences that lets users guess which plays are going to occur on the field in real-time from an app. That same kind of prediction technology also powers a wagering game that enables NBA fans to guess whether someone will score or bust on a half-court shot in between quarters.
For the predictive games, such as the I Called It, which Xperiel launched this season with the Jets, and Call The Shot, which it tested last season and rolled out with additional bells and whistles this season with the Kings, fans are enticed to scan barcodes of sponsored products, such as a Bud Light can or Tostitos bag, to get extra points to powerboost their game. Teams can enable these brand engagements to occur off-site as well, which can keep fans checking into the app to “power up” in the days between games.
“It’s kind of like Super Mario where you’re running around collecting coins,” Hertel said.
In exchange, fans rack up points and are rewarded with prizes in the physical world, such as merchandise or discounts at the stadium.
Hertel views these as glorified ads that he touts as having significantly higher conversion rates than the industry standard (23 percent for I Called It compared with conversion rates closer to 1 percent for Google, according to Xperiel data).
“At the end of the day this is an ad, but we’re putting the user first,” he said. “We’re no-strings-attached giving them a game to play while they’re watching a three-hour game, and only at step two are we bringing in the brand.”
An additional selling point is that these apps are built using a new programming language the Hertels created called Rox, which is a visual programming code based on Xperiel’s proprietary augmented-reality ecosystem Real World Web that people with no prior coding experience can pick up to build customized augmented reality apps.
The idea is that teams would be able to use RWW to build a wide range of experiences that leverage both the technology in the venue as well as the sensors, cameras, microphones and fingerprint scanners that are packed into fans’ smartphones.
“It’s a totally immersive digital ecosystem; not just in the arena but with all the touchpoints the brand has,” Hertel said. “It’s geared toward the next-generation consumer that always has a smartphone in their hand. We’re taking all the hardware around you and then gamifying it.”
This season at MetLife Stadium with the Jets marked the first time Xperiel powered three such apps for one team at the same time. The Kings at Golden 1 Center became the second team to use three simultaneously when their season began in October.
Hertel is hopeful those numbers will rise as more teams get comfortable with the RWW platform and start building their own in-house experiences.

This article appeared in SportTechie, an affiliated publication.


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WORLD-CLASS FLAVOR IN VEGAS
 
Posted: 1 Feb 2018, 3:20 pm

Centerplate Executive Chef Stephan Blaser of the Las Vegas Convention Center started his culinary career at the young age of 11, working at a bakery in his hometown of Frutigen, Switzerland., and then moving on to other regions of the country.

“I worked all over Switzerland,” he said.
He moved to the United States in the late 1980s and worked in several states before winding up in New Orleans as Centerplate’s chef at the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, where he met Richard Ginzel.
When Centerplate took over as the LVCC’s food provider in 2016, Ginzel became the vice president of operations for Centerplate at the convention center and hired Blaser away from New Orleans a couple of months later. After Centerplate took over, eateries Ace’s and Lucky’s were renovated at the convention center’s food court, which has five restaurants total.
Blaser also creates the con¬vention center’s menus for big conventions.
As 6 feet 8 inches, Blaser is a tall man whose effect on the operation is just as big, Ginzel said.
“He’s like this silent giant that cares very deeply about his team and about every detail that goes into these huge events that we do,” Ginzel said. “He offers things that you don’t see in typical convention center food courts.”
Take the mac-n-cheese cupcakes for example. Or maybe the vegetable samosas and the red curry bowls.
Las Vegas draws visitors from around the world, and Blaser “can really draw on his travel experience to get it perfect,” Ginzel said. Plus, “he’s a bookworm and always researching food. He goes out to eat.”
Another favorite menu item is the Biloxi chicken sandwich made with fried free-range organic chicken, slaw and house Durkee’s dressing, served on a brioche roll with kettle chips.
The Ojai vegetable panini is another unique menu item that guests enjoy. It’s made with grilled zucchini, roasted eggplant, tomato and basil pesto.
“I developed the recipes with the different owners and chefs [at the convention center] and put it together,” Blaser said. “It’s not a hot dog and hamburger any more. If you can serve a rice bowl with chicken on top or a nice pork belly, then you have something special. You’ve never really seen that in venue management until recently.”
Blaser considers himself a “well-rounded” chef.
“I spent the last 30 years traveling around, working different venues,” he said. “I’m always pushing the envelope a little bit with recipes. It’s a good thing.”


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MILLERTIME
 
Posted: 1 Feb 2018, 3:15 pm

Even back when it was created in 1940, Miller Theater in Augusta, Ga., was a spectacle.
Built by Frank Miller for $500,000, a pretty penny following the Depression, it was designed by Roy Benjamin, a well-known architect with a number of projects in Florida.

The fifth of Miller’s Augusta theaters, and what some called his crown jewel, Miller Theater celebrated its opening with “A Night at the Moulin Rouge,” featuring 75 dancers. During its heyday, it became a popular site for movie premieres, follies and other events.
At that time, it was a state-of-the-art facility, using as much power as the nearby town of Waynesboro, and was one of the first buildings in the area to use Freon air conditioning.
It also was known for beautiful acoustics, thanks to audio consulting company RCA. “When it initially opened, Mickey Rooney and Clark Gable sent Frank Miller notes of congratulations,” said Levi Hill, president of the Miller Theater board. “There are many memories locked up in that building that would be released when it reopened.”
Shuttered since 1983, the building fell into disrepair as the city fell victim to an exodus of residents.
The building changed hands a number of times throughout the years, until philanthropist Peter Knox IV bought it and seven years ago gave it to Augusta’s 65-year-old symphony, which had never had a home.
“The symphony had to rent spaces, held performances at a Baptist church and played pop concerts at a neighboring theater down the road,” said Anne Catherine Murray, executive director of Symphony Orchestra Augusta. “This was the first opportunity to have our own place where we could build and diversify our audience.”
With sister theater the Imperial, another Miller creation, across the street, the Miller Theater’s $23-million refurbishing project was an opportunity for Augusta’s theater district to be reborn.
“We knew we could re-create that glamour and provide the city with a versatile venue,” said Marty S. Elliott, Miller Theater’s general manager.
The grand opening on Jan. 6 marked the beginning of a new era for the venue.

START OF SOMETHING BIG
The process began in 2011 when Knox handed the theater over to the symphony, when a restoration feasibility study was commissioned. Hill was on the symphony board and went to the committee to see whether the theater could serve as the symphony’s home, said Hill. “Our members contributed money to hire consultants, who answered questions,” he said. “We spent about 2 1/2 years looking into this before determining it was possible.”
Despite the study’s conclusion that a restoration would take a lot of time and money, the symphony voted unanimously to move forward with the project.
“We all got behind it for fundraising, architectural and construction plans, and everything necessary to bring the theater back to life,” said Hill.
The funding mix included public money with a local sales tax allocation approved by county residents and private money from foundations and individuals. Almost a third came from state and federal historic tax credits (see related story).

BACK TO ITS ORIGINAL LUSTER
Restoring the many unique aspects of the venue did not come easy.
The theater’s art moderne architecture, a post-Depression style, is distinguished by clean horizontal lines, curves and a more streamlined, less ornate look than the more well-known art deco design.
“Even 75 years later, the design still looks modern to the eye,” said Hill.
Fortunately, during the many years that the theater lay vacant, many of the original features and components remained intact.
Atlanta-based architects Lord Aeck Sargent and Lansing, Mich., contractor The Christman Co. uncovered pleasant surprises behind the walls that spoke well of the building, such as concrete supports.
“When we extended the stage back nine feet, we had to remove some columns and, to accomplish this, had to reinforce other columns to take on the additional load, but there was nothing we uncovered beyond what we thought we’d see,” said Hill. “Rather than using columns, the balcony is suspended and held by a 39-ton beam.”
Many of the interior elements were salvageable, including marble terrazzo floors; peach-colored mirrors; an ornate, coved plaster ceiling; anodized aluminum railings; and even 500 original seats left from those that were sold in prior years.
“We were able to rebuild many of the original seats, making them a bit wider, but utilizing much of the original hardware, wood, side paneling and fabric,” said Hill.
The remaining seats were custom-made to replicate the originals, and the seating configuration remained intact.
Distinctive 1940s light fixtures were salvaged and retrofitted with LED bulbs, and millwork was retained whenever possible.
“The architects capitalized on storefront space to build the theater in the back at a right angle, which is unexpected,” said Murray, who also is a trained preservationist. She adds that, with the refurbishment, acoustician Kirkegaard, with offices in Chicago, Houston, St. Louis and Erie, Colo., took everything into account, including the breathability of the seat fabric. “Everything was calculated into the acoustics.”
With this project, the adjacent building also was acquired, which provided 23,000 additional, and much needed, square feet for a box office, dressings rooms, additional restrooms, a future music institute for educational outreach and pre- and post-event spaces. It also includes elevator access.
The extra space will be used during the day for educational purposes. Already scheduled is an educational session with Tony Award-winning actress Sutton Foster, who was to meet with students from Augusta’s John S. Davidson Fine Arts Magnet School before her evening performance on opening night.
Several bar areas throughout the venue will offer light snacks, cocktails and beverages.
“We’re looking to develop relationships with area cater¬ers for post-symphony events and receptions, but don’t yet have a full menu offering,” said Murray.

A DIVERSE LINEUP
Miller Theater’s recent opening was filled with as much pomp and circumstance as its original unveiling almost 80 years ago.
On Jan. 6, a black tie gala was held for the symphony that included special guest Foster, whose roots are in Augusta. “This was an immediate sellout, with 1,300 tickets going to many contributors of the restoration project,” said Elliott.
The following day, a community open house was held. Attendees took tours of the facility and saw a documentary of the renovation project from start to finish.
Not only is the stage extension large enough to hold the symphony’s 100 musicians, but it also accommodates other types of events and performances.
“SMG is our management company,” said Hill. “We are planning amplified and non-amplified performances and events, including music, meetings, conferences, movies and dances.”
More than 30 events are on the books through May, including musical performers Diana Krall, Gordon Lightfoot and Ronnie Milsap and comedian Ron White.
The symphony also will perform about a dozen times a year, with six pop concerts.
“SMG is so proud to add the Miller Theater to our portfolio,” said Elliott. “It says a lot to have so many events on the books even prior to the venue’s reopening.”

TAX CREDITS ‘HELD US ACCOUNTABLE’
The goal of the the Miller Theater project was to retain as much of the original structure, design elements and fixtures as possible in an effort to restore the venue to its original grandeur.
“It would have been easy to gut this place, and we could have completed that project years ago,” said Anne Catherine Murray, executive director of Symphony Orchestra Augusta. “We wanted to maintain the historical significance of the building and were bound to do so by federal historic tax credits to qualify for the program. It held us accountable.”
This credit gives those who rehab historic buildings a 20 percent tax break from a federal level, which helped finance about $4.4 million of the total $23-million project.
The state of Georgia provides historic tax credits as well. “From a state and federal standpoint, these tax credits totaled more than $7 million,” said Murray.
The refurbishment also was financed through a special options sales tax, approved at the beginning of the project and distributed at its completion. This totaled $5.14 million, according to Murray.
“This theater holds great memories for many people in the area, and now they can see it as it once was,” said Murray. “That’s important to a lot of locals.” — Lisa White
A CITY REBORN

Miller Theater’s renovation is part of a recent wave of activity in downtown Augusta, Ga.
Much of this surrounds a $50-million cyber range and training facility. The Georgia Cyber Innovation and Training Center, part of Augusta University’s Riverfront Campus, will help develop the workforce and infrastructure to protect the U.S. from cyber threats. The second phase of the project is expected to be completed by the end of this year.
“Augusta’s downtown has experienced an economic boom due to the cyber center attracting business,” said Anne Catherine Murray, executive director of Symphony Orchestra Augusta. “Our downtown has gone from having many empty storefronts to being full in the past two years.”
Three hotels opened in 2017, three more are under construction and another three are in the engineering and design phase. All told, more than a dozen hotels have opened during the past five years, pushing the metro area’s lodging inventory above 7,000 rooms, according to data from the Augusta Convention & Visitors Bureau.
“More restaurants are underway, and the entertainment district has been revitalized,” said Marty S. Elliott, general manager of the recently refurbished Miller Theater for SMG. “It’s all happening simultaneously, breathing new life into Augusta’s downtown.”
The latest proposal takes the city’s museum to the streets, providing information on Augusta’s history through interactive kiosks located throughout key districts.
Signature Design, which works with Cooper Carry – the Atlanta-based landscape architecture firm designing the city’s downtown streetscape projects – enlisted the help of the Augusta Museum of History to come up with the proposal.
Murray said the Miller Theater project, with its always-illuminated marquee, has been a key component to the city’s revitalization efforts.
“We’re helping to stimulate more businesses, along with other projects, at this end of Broad Street,” she said.
Elliott agreed, adding, “It’s a real tribute to Au¬gusta’s revitalization efforts.” — Lisa White


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THE NAME OF THE GAME IS NAMING RIGHTS
 
Posted: 1 Feb 2018, 3:10 pm

The dynamic nature of naming rights these days is a sports marketer’s dream. Multiple deals are coming up for renewal for facilities constructed during the late 1990s and early 2000s. Separately, new big league venues under construction are gearing up their naming-rights pitches for potential sponsors.

Over the next three years, at least eight big league arenas and ballparks have naming rights set to expire. Four of those proper¬ties — AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami, Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Pepsi Center in Denver and Philips Arena in Atlanta — opened in 1999 with 20-year agreements. In Major League Baseball, the deal at Seattle’s Safeco Field is up after the 2018 season, and Miller Park in Milwaukee and PNC Park in Pittsburgh have agreements that expire in 2020.

The National Football League market is active as well. NFL stadiums set to open in 2020 in Los Angeles and Las Vegas, two cities that attract a global audience, are poised to boost the value of naming rights. In addition, the Denver Broncos and Arizona Cardinals are searching for new naming-rights partners for their established stadiums after existing deals were cut short.

“It’s an exciting time,” said Rob Yowell, president of Gemini Sports Group, a sports marketing consultant in Greater Phoenix. “We’ve been through these cycles before and 2018 should be a fun year. With the new federal tax [cuts], it puts money back into the corporate world. We’re willing to help someone spend it or find it.”

In Inglewood alone, where Los Angeles Rams owner Stan Kroenke is developing a massive project to include a $2.6 billion stadium attached to a retail and entertainment district, consultants say the entire package could fetch naming rights close to $50 million annually. Vegas isn’t too far behind. The $1.9 billion stadium, in the early stages of construction on a site off the famed Strip, could command $20 million a year in naming rights, consultants said.

For Legends Global Sales, the agency selling naming rights for both stadiums, finding the right partners willing to make those huge investments presents a stiff challenge. At the same time, it’s a great opportunity for a company to attach its brand long term to buildings tied to mixed-use developments, which draw activity all year round instead of for just 10 NFL games a year.

“The reach internationally, in terms of eyeballs and visitors, makes [Las Vegas] a top-five market,” said Mike Ondrejko, president of Legends Global Sales. The Los Angeles project “has 300 acres of development. Those two platforms have the attention of everybody in our company.”

Elsewhere, there have been some rough patches for teams reselling naming rights and others going to market for new facilities. The Broncos continue to look for a new sponsor for their 17-year-old stadium two years after their second naming-rights partner, sporting goods retailer Sports Authority, filed for bankruptcy protection and later liquidated its assets. It triggered a situation in which the Broncos bought the fi¬nal five years of the deal in return for the rights to resell naming rights. In November 2016, the Broncos hired Endeavor to help secure a new agreement, but to date no new deal has been signed.

In Glendale, Arizona, the Arizona Cardinals are leading their own search for a new naming-rights partner after Apollo Education Group, parent company of current rights holder University of Phoenix, announced in April it would cut short its 20-year deal because of decreasing enrollment, mounting layoffs and regulatory issues, according to local reports. As they re-enter the market, the Cardinals now find themselves competing against L.A. and Vegas as those new stadiums come online and bid for major events such as the Super Bowl, NCAA Final Four and College Football Playoff. All three events add greater value to naming rights. Over the past 12 years, those events often came to University of Phoenix Stadium, which stood out as the West Coast’s only retractable-roof stadium when it opened in 2006. Less than three years from now, the Raiders’ stadium will open with a movable roof. The Inglewood project will have a fixed roof made of ETFE, the same clear plastic material in place at U.S. Bank Stadium, site of this year’s Super Bowl.

“At one point, Glendale was the belle of the ball, and now L.A. and Vegas are very much in play,” Yowell said. “Those are big, sexy markets that will get the CFP and Super Bowl.”

In Milwaukee, where the Bucks’ new arena opens this fall, team officials have yet to announce naming rights for the $500 million facility. The Bucks, developing their own entertainment district across the street from the downtown arena site, are selling naming rights in-house. They’re asking for $7 million a year over 20 years, which some consultants say may be too pricey in one of the National Basketball Association’s smaller markets.

“You always have to get the [team] owner to check their personal evaluation at the door,” Yowell said. “The Bucks are a perfect example. They’re not going to get a Staples Center deal or a Chase Cen¬ter deal. You’ve got to realize what the market is willing to pay.”

In general, the value of naming rights has increased exponentially as the industry has matured, driven by the explosion in digital platforms and rapid growth in social media channels. Plus, sponsors have become more creative in activating their deals by developing interactive zones inside the venues and expanding their assets to the mixed-use districts becoming more common in sports facility development.

“The naming rights industry has evolved over time,” said Jeff Marks, CEO of IPG360, a sports marketing firm involved in signing Johnson Controls for naming rights to the Pro Football Hall of Fame Village, a $500 million development in Canton, Ohio. “These deals were originally done as more of a vanity play based on media impressions, with the money coming out of media budgets. Now, with multiple platforms, naming rights has to be sold differently and thought of as a brand acquisition integrated across all lines of business. It’s more like an investment banking agreement and not a marketing deal.”

The Miller Park deal, for example, pays the Milwaukee Brewers a little more than $2 million a year under a 20-year agreement the beermaker signed in 2000. By comparison, SunTrust Park, home of the Atlanta Braves and MLB’s newest facility, is tied to a 25-year deal in which SunTrust Bank, a regional brand, pays more than $10 million a year. The assets include the OnUp Experience, the bank’s high-tech marketing center at the Battery Atlanta, the mixed-use development next to the stadium.

“The deals cut 20 years ago were very low compared with today’s standards and for those teams involved, they need to get up to market rate,” said Chris Allphin, senior vice president of team and venue services for Van Wagner Sports & Entertainment, which assisted the Braves on the SunTrust Park deal. “It’s an opportunity to reset the number.”

One exception to the reset is Philips Arena, which opened in 1999 as the new home of the Hawks and the Thrashers, a National Hockey League expansion team that moved to Winnipeg in 2011. At the time, the 20-year, $185 million naming-rights deal with Royal Philips Electronics NV was the richest in sports. Two decades later, with an annual value of $9.25 million, it remains one of the industry’s biggest deals and the fifth highest in value among NBA arenas.

But things are changing in Atlanta after Philips decided not to renew its arena deal.
The Hawks now have a clean slate as they rebrand a building going through an extensive $193 million renovation, which dovetails nicely with a new partnership. As the NBA team, after 20 years, goes through the process of reselling naming rights (it had not been announced as of late January whether it would be working with a third party, new tools have emerged for both teams and sponsors to evaluate the property and measure its true value. IPG360 has its own proprietary system to determine value, Marks said.

Other firms such as Endeavor, Navigate Research, Scout Sports & Entertainment and Wasserman also have analytical tools for breaking down the value, said Dan Griffis, president of OVG Global Partnerships. (OVG Global Partnerships is a division of Oak View Group, owner of VenuesNow.) That piece of the naming-rights business has become much more sophisticated, resulting in potential partners coming to the bargaining table knowing better what they are willing to pay, Griffis said.

Buildings such as Philips Arena and Seattle’s expansion team, can look to Hard Rock Stadium for inspiration. In 2016, the Miami Dolphins signed a $250 million naming-rights deal with Hard Rock International, a deal the team worked on in-house, with Genesco Sports Enterprises assisting on the brand side. The 18-year deal, valued at about $14 million annually, surprised many in the industry for a 30-year-old building that had had 10 different names since it opened in 1987.

In the end, the Hard Rock deal resulted in a “market correction” for a stadium returning to the Super Bowl rotation starting in 2020. “It shows that if you put together the right deal for the right partner, the value will be there,” Yowell said. “It’s always the first conversation we have — ‘Is the price right?’”


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ON BUILDING THE SHOW EXPENSES
 
Posted: 1 Feb 2018, 3:00 pm

Sooner or later the lights go on and the doors open. It’s important to be prepared, to build the show expenses and know where you stand.

The promoter will call and ask for a date; you get the date and he’ll say, “What are your building expenses?”

Make sure you’re covered with what you believe is a fair rate. Well in advance of a show, you need to have a good idea of what your expenses are and that starts with literally going by [staff] position.
From time to time, sit with the security people and ask, “For a show of this nature, what do you need and where are your people?” Analyze the positions to be sure you’re covered for security and comfort, but also for justification. Make sure you’re not overstaffed.
For sporting events, you’ll have A, B and C levels depending on the attendance, including security, ushering, cleaning, police, fire, first aid, box office (although that’s becoming less important with online, but some people just show up).
First, really know your numbers and be prepared in advance. When the promoter calls, they need a quick answer. Know your numbers and be self-evaluating. Look at the dates, see what type of changeover is coming before and after.
Some facilities have a good lead on how many changeovers a year they will have and they’ll amortize that per show and have a flat fee. Or, if a building isn’t as busy, you want to be reimbursed for the full changeover cost. Figure proper ins and outs.
The real key to this is making sure you budget your calls for stagehands properly. When you get the [artist] rider, make sure you sit down internally and go over costs with your union steward or labor provider, and make sure those calls are made well in advance.
The whole key to doing a proper job of booking an event is preparation and coordination. Make sure you know exactly what that event entails and have good discussions with production people and, then, whether it’s the GM, assistant GM or event coordinator, put together a solid data sheet.
If you’ve done the proper coordination, you’re ready when that surprise comes along, which it does at almost every event, because everything else is taken care of. Something is going to happen that’s going to be a change, so shame on you if you haven’t dealt with the known prior to that event.
When everyone is calm and the show hasn’t gone on sale, and the promoter calls and says, “I think your staffing is a little high,” you call him back and say, “Here’s my seating chart, this is where I’ve placed people, what do you think?” That’s collaborative. He might say, “I know the rider says this, but let me double check. I don’t think they need that many dressing rooms.” It’s collaborative. He might say that you don’t have to cover us this way.
The worst thing you can do is estimate 10,000 people coming, and then the show takes off and you have to add staffing. The minute you get past a certain threshold and have to open up additional sections, you call the promoter and say, “I know these are my estimated expenses; we based it on 10,000, but the show has gone through the roof and I need 30 more people on this level.” Then he can go to the band and agent and manager and say, “Good news today; we budgeted for 10,000 we sold through to 13,000. Our estimate was based on 10,000, so we have an extra $3,000 or so in expenses. But it looks like we’re going to hit 15,000 and we’re all going to make a lot of money. What a great day.”
Even in a winner, you don’t want the tour accountant who is working off of all these estimates they were given to hear you’re $3,000 off. You probably win the argument, but why bother? You’ve had an increase. This has happened.
In Philly, we once had the Mike Tyson vs. Buster Mathis fight. It sold in a three-week period, because they had to move it from New Jersey. John Page, then CoreStates Spectrum event manager and I were dealing with [promoter] Don King and we gave him a flat. Then we found out they were going from six fights to 10 and we had to open early and had a lot more expenses. We had a tight window and called Don and said, “We did this flat based on six fights and we’re going an extra couple hours, here’s the extra cost.” He understood, thanked us for calling in advance and gave us the money.
You can’t possibly overcommunicate.
Breakfast is the most important thing. If you screw up the break¬fast, you screw up the bid. Be ready for them when they come in, from marketing support right through to the settlement of the event so they can get on the road and do their business.
It’s so much easier now. Everything is computerized. There is no excuse for a building not to be ready.
It’s really communication, preparation, execution. Unfortu¬nately, there are more buildings than shows. You have to be the better building.

Peter Luukko is president of OVG Arena Alliance. OVG is the parent company of VenuesNow.


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STADIUMS OF DISTINCTION
 
Posted: 1 Feb 2018, 3:00 pm

The roman colosseum, perhaps the most famous of all venues, was built nearly 2,000 years ago for gladiator matches and other epic exhibitions. J.J. Kazynski, a vice president with architecture firm HKS, said that until relatively recently one could say modern stadiums were “not a whole lot different in the way they worked” from that historic facility. For much of the 20th century, most stadiums were designed to provide seating for fans to soak up the spectacle of sporting events. Straightforward, lean functionality was the emphasis, so that for a time stadium design favored “open bowls in a sea of parking spaces,” Kazynski said — the ultimate in no-frills, utilitarian design.

That approach has changed dramatically in recent decades, as stadiums both large and small are now fashioned to provide fans with distinctive experiences. That experience extends beyond the walls of the stadium to the area outside it. Fans, meanwhile, grow ever more demanding and diverse.
“These are no longer 10-day-a-year venues that sit vacant in the middle of a parking lot most of the year,” Kazynski said.
For architects and venue owners, these evolutions carry infinitely more challenges — and opportunities. Experts from some leading architecture firms discussed trends that are steering stadium construction and renovation in today’s complex climate.

‘ACTIVATING THE VENUE’
HKS is the architect on the highly anticipated National Football League stadium in Inglewood, California, that will serve as the home of the Los Angeles Rams and Chargers. The venue is part of a larger development strategy that includes a 6,000-seat performing arts venue, 890,000 square feet of retail space, 780,000 square feet of office space, 300 hotel rooms, 2,500 residences and 25 acres of public parks, among other features — making the stadium just one piece, though a critical piece, of the Los Angeles Stadium and Entertainment District at Hollywood Park. Kazynski said “a big component of that stadium that won the NFL over is that it’s built into the urban fabric of Los Angeles. It has this incredible development around it that is activating the venue.”
The industrywide emphasis on creating a cohesive experience inside and outside the stadium stems from the idea of “the district as the venue,” said Ryan Gedney, vice president and senior project designer for HOK. The idea is far from limited to large venues. For instance, he said the 10,000-seat soccer stadium that HOK is designing for Louisville FC will include development outside the facility that plays an integral role in the overall experience.
“It’s more the norm than the exception now, and I think the business model is often contingent upon that development, meaning the funding is very much tied to the broader development of the venue,” Gedney said.
With this approach, one design challenge becomes maintaining a through line — a sense of both transition and connection — from the exterior to the interior of the stadium. In that vein, Don Barnum, DLR Group global sports leader, said stadium design is about not only strengthening the fans’ experience and attachment to their team but also responding to fans’ new preferences. Barnum said DLR Group monitors fan behavior at live events to better understand their expectations. Fan social media activity overwhelmingly emphasizes activities in and around the venue unrelated to actual competition, he said.
“Fans are more excited to share their own experiences in a club space with friends or at an iconic statue in a fan plaza than an exciting dunk or touchdown,” Barnum said.
Gerardo Prado, sports group director and vice president with HNTB, said prime real estate alongside a stadium is rarely dedicated to parking spaces anymore. Instead, that land is devoted to plazas and green spaces — “areas for fans to decompress and relax together,” Prado said. “To linger.”
Barnum said venues cannot afford to overlook any facet of the fan experience.
“Every moment of a fan’s engagement with the event, from leaving the driveway until they return home, is a potential touchpoint for the event to influence,” Barnum said. “We are providing a variety of ways that fans can experience the event that includes their access, parking, type of seating, food and beverage, social interaction with their peers, merchandise, in-game entertainment, sight and sound — and, oh yes, there is a game going on, too.”

DISTINCTIVE NEIGHBORHOODS
Recent venue construction and renovations have seen increasing innovation in the area of seating. Prado said designers are creating spaces that provide unique experiences for fans throughout the venue. Stadiums host “different neighborhoods that provide different perspectives and different experiences,” he said.
That emphasis on seating variety is especially true in premium seating. Prado said the industry is seeing more “entry-level experiences” in club seating that give fans an upscale experience but not to the level of more lavish club settings. Gedney said the recent HOK-designed renovation of the Miami Dolphins’ Hard Rock Stadium tripled the types of seating products offered there.
Barnum said stadium designers strive to create the mix of seating inventory that is uniquely appropriate for each project. Designed by the DLR Group, Fluor Field in Greenville, South Carolina, opened in 2006 and served as a catalyst for local economic revitalization efforts. Stadium owners saw an opportunity to offer a better seating mix, though, and a $14 million renovation in 2017 emphasized high-end fan experiences, including new club spaces, season-ticket-holder lounges, rooftop experiences and unique seating atop the ballpark’s “Green Monster.”
Gedney said seating trends are driven by fan preferences for more mobility and “a more layered experience” that includes passive viewing environments and new ways to gather with family and friends.
“I think there’s a real focus to think about quote-unquote ‘premium’ seating that touches all price points and to not just have a have and have-not attitude about the kind of experiences that are offered,” Gedney said. “Owners are getting smarter about how they can offer unique upgrades even in an upper deck or upper concourse environment.”

THE ‘WOW’ FACTOR
The aesthetic pleasure of a stadium with a bold, eye-catching design has value beyond the appeal of beauty, particularly in today’s market, experts say.
“There is a need to create spectacle and differentiation with every project, differentiation from other markets and to other entertainment options in their local markets and how they really set themselves apart and make sure people are coming — not only coming but coming early and staying late,” Gedney said.
The HOK VP said a stadium’s design also can generate revenue. Gedney’s colleague, Annie Merrill, a communications specialist at HOK, points to HOK’s design for Mercedes-Benz Stadium, which opened last year as the home of the Atlanta Falcons and Major League Soccer’s Atlanta United FC, and the role it played in attracting a lucra¬tive naming-rights deal.
“There’s a recognition of the value in a unique powerful identity when it comes to naming rights,” Gedney said.
For the NFL stadium in Los Angeles, Stan Kroenke, owner of the Rams, emphasized the need for an ambitious design that would help the stadium develop an iconic brand both domestically and internationally, Kazynski said. The new stadium will be only three miles from Los Angeles International Airport, he said, meaning that 38 million people will fly over the stadium annually. That makes the design of the roof and the canopy that covers it a critical component of the design.
“We’re going to get people flying in from Abu Dhabi or Hong Kong or Tokyo, and you want them to look down on it and go, ‘Holy crap, I need to see what that is,’” Kazynski said.
“They wanted it to feel like it was part of the campus, as though it had always been there,” Kazynski said. “They wanted a vintage feel, while also creating some of the modern pieces of new stadiums that create revenue and build interest and fan appreciation.”
Prado warns against the dangers of “designing for magazine covers” and losing sight of a stadium’s true purpose. However, he said bold design, when done right, can help bolster the fan experience rather than distract from it. And he said the “wow” factor is not limited to a stadium’s external appearance. It also plays an integral role inside the stadium — using senses beyond just sight to create compelling experiences and capture fans’ capacity to be thrilled. He points to Levi’s Stadium, the HNTB-designed home of the San Francisco 49ers that opened in 2014, and the climb via stairs or escalator to the concourse.
“When you get to the top, you can see into the stadium and there’s an immediate visual connection to what is happening on the field,” Prado said. “You get the atmosphere and the excitement of what’s happening. The neatest thing for me is the noise. You really feel it. It’s a great moment.”
COMMUNITY SPIRIT

MAKING VENUES REFLECT THE SPIRIT OF THEIR LOCALES

The importance of creating an experience that reflects a venue’s community from architecture to amenities has become a central tenet of the stadium development process. Engaging and reflecting the community, however, means there is no template for architects to follow from project to project. Every challenge is a fresh one.
Gerardo Prado, sports group director and vice president with HNTB, said the most successful stadium designs are regionally inspired with aesthetics both inside and out that make it a fit for the community.
“Sometimes, with stadiums with iconic designs, you can’t tell where they are,” Prado said. “You don’t want something that looks like a spaceship in a historic city.”
In Los Angeles, the design for the NFL stadium in development will be based on a variety of characteristics of the local culture and aesthetic, said J.J. Kazynski, a vice president with HKS. Design motifs will be based on such elements as the area’s storied luxury homes perched on the sides of hills and cliffs. Club spaces will have elements of an upscale party with indoor-outdoor areas for socializing.
“We want to bring that into a sports environment and let people experience it in the way they might in a high-end home,” Kazynski said. “We want to bring that comfort level to a sports event.”
Club spaces, in particular, offer an opportunity to explore local attributes with interior design. Prado said HNTB’s design of an addition for Kroger Field, the University of Kentucky’s football stadium, worked to integrate the local horse breeding industry into the exterior and interior, including the use of recycled barn wood in a club.
“We wanted fans to walk in and say, ‘This feels like Kentucky,’” Prado said.
Often, stadium design aims to incorporate the surrounding area into the physical design of the venue, using it as a key visual element. At TDECU Stadium, the football stadium that opened at the University of Houston in 2014, designer DLR Group’s goal was to create a campus landmark that embraced the larger Houston community.
Covered stadiums are in particular danger of physical detachment from the community. For U.S. Bank Stadium, home of the Minnesota Vikings, Kazynski said HKS designed a transparent roof using ETFE foil for the indoor stadium that maintained a sense of connection to the outdoors.
“You can have a lost sense of place when you cover up a stadium with a hard lid and close in the end walls,” Kazynski said. —By Tom Gresham


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WELCOME TO CAMPUS
 
Posted: 1 Feb 2018, 3:00 pm

Universities are increasingly reaching out to bring more events — and the revenue that comes with them — to campus. It’s said to be a $4-billon industry, with an additional $2 billion in economic impact going to the communities that surround the schools. Whether it’s a small meeting for five people, or a huge event with thousands of attendees who need housing and food services, there’s a university venue that can accommodate that event.

Renting out university venues on Loyola University Chicago’s five campuses brings an additional $7 million to the university each year.
Last year the university held more than 1,000 events spread across its downtown and suburban locations. Along with meeting and event space, it offers guest housing and food. “We’re a one-stop-shop,” said Daphne Stojiljkovic, marketing and sales manager at the university. “We have meeting spaces, housing accommodation, catering, audio-visual services and we coordinate it all.”
“We do the vast majority of our full conference experiences— meeting space accommodation and food— from the end of May through the first week of August while the university is on summer break,” she said. “The rest of the year it’s one- to three-day meetings for corporations, associations, nonprofit groups, school groups, religious groups and private events like weddings.”
Rates range from $150 to $10,000 a day, and the venues can accommodate everything from a small meeting of five to 4,200 people in Gentile Arena. Housing is available year-round: The downtown Gold Coast location has 64 bedrooms and 32 apartments available, and The Retreat Center has room for 200 guests.
Aramark, the university concessionaire, provides the catering services when food is part of the contract.
All of the revenue goes back to the university to help with tuition-based programs and capital.
Stojiljkovic said her inventory includes academic and non-academic spaces. “I can program the non-academic spaces anytime year-round,” she said. “To reserve the academic spaces we have to wait for the registration and records department to confirm which venues will be holding class or another type of university program. Typically, we have a lot of availability on the weekends and during school breaks.”
Last year’s biggest event at the university was the Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership conference, which drew more than 500 students to campus for several weeks during the summer.
Email marketing, digital ads, trade conferences, direct mail and print ads are the main ways the university attracts its clients.
Loyola also gets to boast that it’s a leader in campus sustainability. “We have sustainable initiatives we run on campus and we have seven LEED-certified buildings on one campus alone,” said Stojiljkovic.
Yale University typically rents out its facilities for as many as 500 events a year; most of the business is during the summer break. Suzanne Shaw, director of conferences and events, said the program “makes millions for the university.” The annual budget for the Yale event division is $15 million.
The department’s bookings are up 250 percent over the last four years. “We had a rebirth in 2014,” she said. “We had a sleepy events and conference department and ramped it all up. We’re doing really well.”
All programming must have a professional affiliation with an academic program at the university or be linked to a business partner of the university. “We’ll help connect the event to a program, like if a science symposium wanted to come here, we’ll connect them with the dean of Health and Sciences,” Shaw said.
Yale finds its customers through word-of-mouth, trade shows, soft marketing and a membership in Unique Ven¬ues, a company that acts as a middleman between venues and event planners,.
Yale’s biggest venue can hold up to 3,000 people, but Shaw said that a crowd of 500 to 1.000 people was in the university’s sweet spot. Last year’s biggest event was a John Kerry-Leonardo DiCaprio climate change initiative conference.
Leonard O’Connor, general manager of conference services, housing and food for the University of Washington in Seattle, said his university plays host to several thousand events in a normal year, from small facilities to the large venues, including Husky Stadium, which has a capacity of 70,000.
Like Yale, all events have to have a connection to the university or be part of community outreach. “They must be appropriate for a public university and consistent with the university’s educational mission,” O’Connor said.
The event space bookings bring about. $9 million in revenue to the school a year.
“There’s a lot of variety to what we can offer,” he said. “We have a vast size of rooms available, different configurations, high-tech environments and professional support of those facilities. Often that is not the case in a commercial environment and you have to bring in support.”
The unique nature of a university, with transportation already in place, is also highly appealing to many event planners, he said.
President Barack Obama’s visit in 2010 was a huge event at the University of Washington and this summer the cam¬pus will play host to the weeklong Special Olympics USA Games. “That will involve 4,000 athletes and coaches and another 30,000 to 40,000 visitors,” he said.
Housing is available mostly during the summer break. “We have up to 6,000 beds available,” O’Connor said. “The majority of them are newly built and are one- and two-bedroom units with private baths.”
It’s not uncommon for the university to provide overflow housing for events at the downtown convention center, O’Connor said. “It’s a big revenue generator, and it diminishes the rates we have to charge residence hall students.”
Security is tight, with most buildings requiring an RFID card or a fob for entry. The University of Washington also has its own police department. “High-attendance events generate the highest degree of oversight,” he explained. “The safety and security of everyone on the campus is the priority above all else.”
Finding space for all the events can be tough because the academic mission takes priority over any outside request, he added.
A membership with Unique Venues, the venue-events planner matchmaking service, makes the job of finding clients for the university venues a little easier, the representatives said.
Unique Venues founder and CEO Michele Nichols said she opened the company after realizing that many event organizers did not know how many universities were in the venue business.
“We started out with about 100 campuses and created ‘The Guide to Convening on Campus,’ a buyer’s guide with only colleges and universities, to sit next to the industry bibles ‘Big Hotel Travel Index’ [and] ‘Official Meeting Facilities Guide,’” Nichols said.
Today, thousands of events are being held every year at universities and colleges across North America. Nichols said she’s armed with great selling points. “University venues are by and large less expensive convention centers and hotels,” she said. “The cost can be substantially less.”
Another factor is “the array of product out there,” Nichols said. “You could have anywhere from a no-frills residence hall up to an entire arena or stadium. Some universities even have hotels on campus. Many rent out the dorms and offer meals.”
Unique Venues has 900 clients, and Nichols estimates 500 of them are universities and colleges. “They are the lion’s share of our market,” she said.
The service is membership based, with a yearly fee. The company does not take any commission or percentage of revenue. There are five levels of membership, and fees run from $595 for the basic package to $7,995 for the premium level.
“All of our members have one thing in common: The core mission of the facility is something other than hosting meetings and events,” she said. “What we do is help them utilize the space when it’s not in use for their primary mission.”
Nichols said that they get “thousands and thousands of leads every month from event planners.” Geography, size needed and budget are the criteria Unique Venues uses to determine which of its clients to send the lead.
“We’re like a matchmaker at that point,” she said. “We don’t get involved in the negotiation or the booking. Once our member gets the lead, it’s in their court.”


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THE LIFE & TIMES OF NEAL GUNN 1943-2017
 
Posted: 1 Feb 2018, 3:00 pm

Ask anyone who knew Neal Gunn what made him so good at what he did and the answer is that he liked people.

“Being in this business gives you the opportunity to meet a lot of characters. Neal had a serious side and was capable and could deliver, but he also had a fun side and he was a guy people felt relaxed and easy with,” said Mike McGee, his lifelong friend and business associate. “He didn’t come across trying to intimidate anybody or be overwhelming or anything like that.”
Gunn, who managed two arenas and two stadiums before signing on with Ticketmaster, died Dec. 20 at the age of 74. Ask any of the 150 who attended the celebration of his life at the House of Blues in Houston Jan. 27 and they will agree it was too soon. Donna Dowless, who worked with Gunn at the Lakeland (Fla.) Civic Center and at Ticketmaster, admitted she spent the day expecting him to walk into the room. He loved a party.
McGee, who currently works for Smart Financial Center, Sugar Land, Texas, grew up with Gunn in Monroe, La., where both embarked on a career in the venue business. Gunn was a high school football star, honing his skills as a leader and winner.
His first job in the business was as controller for the under-construction Monroe Civic Center. He had been working in the credit department of Sears and drove by the construction site. He knew he wanted to be part of it. Bill Lillyman, GM of the new venue, hired him before the building opened in the spring of 1967.
When Lillyman left, Gunn became assistant director and Louis Harp was brought in as director. Three months later, Gunn became director. He went from controller to director in about two and half years, and he was on the fast track ever after. Gunn had clearly found his calling.
Gunn hired McGee, who was working at a TV station in Monroe, as publicity director. The Monroe Civic Center was a very big deal in Monroe when it opened.
In 1971, Gunn moved to another big deal under con¬struction, the Lakeland Civic Center, where he was later joined by McGee and they put that arena complex and its 40,000-population town on the live entertainment map. Lakeland Civic Center opened in November 1974.
Gunn was 28 and McGee was 25. “How many 28 year olds open a major entertainment complex,” McGee asked rhetorically, recalling the headlines of those days.
“Everybody was talking about Lakeland, Lakeland, Lakeland,” he said. Geographically it had a true 360-degree drawing radius, unlike Orlando, Tampa, Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, and Naples hemmed in by a body of water. “We had the opportunity to draw from all those areas,” McGee recalled, and there was little competition at the time.
The lack of venues helped, as did the1.2 million people in a 75-mile radius. “We had to go to Orlando and Tampa to get press exposure. Once we brought in shows like Elvis and Frank Sinatra, that brought us a lot of attention and endeared us with newspapers and stations,” McGee remembered. “We were working it.”
There were a lot of naysayers, and Gunn took a lot of bullets from people early on but he made believers out of everybody due to the success they had. “I know he took a lot of pride in Lakeland,” McGee said.
Following his outstanding success with the two arenas, Gunn jumped ship for stadium land. In December 1976, he went to work for the state of Louisiana and Governor Edwards to oversee the Superdome in New Orleans, then left venue management for a few years of promoting boxing and concerts and returned to the stadium world as manager of the Astrodome in Houston and vice president of the Houston Astros.
When John McMullen sold the Astros and the operating contract to Drayton McLane, Gunn stayed another year and then moved on to Ticketmaster, where he worked with Fred Rosen and his successors for 15 years, until June of 2010.
In every situation, Gunn experienced life to the fullest, McGee recalled. “Getting the Superdome back and operating in a manner envisioned early on where the state wasn’t hemorrhaging from a deficit, he had a hand in that; he took pride in that.”
“Coming to the Astrodome, “ McGee said, “he was keeping that viable and active and ongoing and they had a lot of things out there they had not gotten in the past. McGee was operating the Houston Summit while Gunn was at the Astrodome and some expected the two to be fiercely competitive. But they worked together to put the right show in the right venue and even spread their wings outside Houston, partnering on promoting shows throughout the South, which eventually led to formation of Leisure Management International, McGee’s private management company in which Gunn had a part.
Don Rankin, Pritchard Sports & Entertainment, met Gunn during the Astrodome years and they became fast friends. “There are the good things he did and the funny things he did. When you compare Mike and Neal, both came out of Monroe. Mike got into radio, so he developed his language skills. Neal never left his Cajun-ness. Stone sober, you couldn’t understand him. When we were out to dinner and had drinks, if he said something and laughed, I laughed. I never knew what he said. He was a fun guy.”
Fred Rosen, who worked with Gunn at Ticketmaster, also commented on his thick Southern drawl, which was the essence of Neal Gunn. “Here’s the thing about Neal, it was always fun. Here was a guy who loved life and he burned the candle at both ends. He was highly professional. He cared a lot about this industry and, in the end, it was about his integrity and decency,” Rosen said, echoing the sentiment that he was a “relationship guy. People trusted him and I trusted him. He was a truly standup guy in a world of spaghetti.”
Rankin called him “level headed, smart, knew how to juggle the balls with the joint venture and his staff. He ran a good ship; he was a good taskmaster.”
“Neal and I were very fortunate at an early time in this industry. It didn’t have the level of sophistication it has now. We were able to do things that heretofore a lot of people hadn’t done,” McGee said.
The two “sort of coined the term promoter-managed building as opposed to an administrator-run building,” McGee said. “We actually promoted shows on the city’s nickel in Lakeland and Monroe, so we could get content into the market. It was pretty bold to stand in front of your city council and say, ‘we’re gong to buy talent with taxpayer money and if the show loses $100,000, that’s tax money.’ So we created concert series to collateralize the liability across four of five shows so we had a reasonable ability to have some success.”
The challenge when Gunn was making his mark in this industry was to be considered. When a tour was ready to roll, you needed awareness and profile to get the acts. That was Gunn’s strong suit.
He was among the first building advocates because it gave him the opportunity to have more content. “He was a very, very high touch guy, going out and calling on agents and talking with them in the building and making them feel he appreciated their business. He didn’t let anything get in the way of prudent and good business,” McGee said.
In Lakeland, they got a turn at anything that was playing. “When we opened Lakeland, we had a countywide parade; we got everyone with any influence in the county involved,” McGee recalled. “Neal and I were standing on the roof at Lakeland Center that day and there were 250,000 people out there for the parade and grand opening…..We turned away from each other… we thought we were going to tear up…we created a monster there,” McGee said.
Gunn was able to observe what the needs of the act or artist were and could see opportuni¬ties to fit those needs, which gave him an edge in booking.
The rewards were great. Art Buchwald sat in Gunn’s office for over an hour telling stories. Emmett Kelly drew a self-portrait while visiting with Gunn and gave it to him, which was one of his most prized possessions.
Marketing was also in Gunn’s wheelhouse. His daughter, Ingrid Gunn-Otero, fondly recalls the time she was marketing director for the Power Rangers Live tour and her dad’s venue was on the route. “He said, ‘I’m marketing this show.’ He was driving characters around in his car. It was, of course, one of the most successful dates we had. He didn’t get to do marketing anymore and he loved it. He could get in the trenches and do it.”
Ingrid see’s her father’s strength in being such a people person. “He liked for things to be right and fair and good and worked hard at it. That’s why he did so well in his career.”
She’ll also never forget the pride in his voice when someone in the business referred to him as Ingrid Gunn’s dad. While he never encouraged her to get in the business, he was pleased she did.
Gunn is survived by his daughter, widow Vonda, nephew Greg Poole, also with Smart Financial Center, and first wife Bonnie.


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RANK + RALLY PLANTS ITS FLAG WITH AUTHENTICITY
 
Posted: 1 Feb 2018, 3:00 pm

Barclays center’s swag shop has always featured a Brooklyn Nets-focused take on gear. When the Nets brought in Rank + Rally as their merchandise partner last March, the idea was to sharpen that focus even further.

Rank + Rally, the retail arm that Chicago-based concessionaire Levy created last year, re-envisioned the Swag Shop with a boutique feel. After a makeover, it reopened in September with a curated space within the store filled with “Brooklyn Cool” gear created by five popular New York-based shops.
“We went out and walked the streets and found incredible New York partners to design product and work with us to launch the product,” said Alison Weber, chief creative officer for Levy’s creative subsidiary, Curiology, and part of the team that launched Rank + Rally. “It is a very different style of merchandise making a home in an arena. It starts to change the conversation about retail and goes beyond the court to create lifestyle [product].”
That’s Rank + Rally’s goal: to look at ways to amplify team brands in nontraditional ways, putting a premium on personal¬ization and lifestyle. Less than a year after its launch last March, Rank + Rally is in venues from Barclays Center to Chicago’s Wrigley Field to Portland’s Moda Center, already totaling 15 major league partners.
The aim at every location is to use the know-how of Levy’s analytics subsidiary, E15, and Curiology’s design expertise to re-create in-arena retail for teams. “We take really good fan insight data and the vision for the team, of what the brand means, and wrap it all together for brand environments and activations,” Weber said. The result has given teams in-venue retail sale increases across the board, she confirmed.
Rank + Rally sometimes redesigns retail locations inside facilities to give them a more local connection to the brand, as it did in Brooklyn. It also builds from scratch, as it did when it created a new flagship store outside Wrigley Field for the Cubs.
Levy had been a merchandise partner with the Cubs since 2005 and, before Rank + Rally existed, had built a pop-up retail shop out of shipping containers for the Cubs. Rank + Rally then used E15’s analytics to redesign the pop-up and inform the design of the new flagship store, which opened in 2017.
“Rank + Rally finds a different way for a team’s brand to connect with fans,” Weber said.
In-arena exclusives help make that connection. In Las Vegas, Rank + Rally created The Armory, the flagship store for the National Hockey League’s Vegas Golden Knights at T-Mobile Arena. That spilled into exclusive apparel lines available only at the venue.
The Brooklyn gear, created from by local stores like Extra Butter, Antler & Woods, In God We Trust and Pintrill, gave the National Basketball Association’s Nets an entirely new avenue to reach new fans as customers of the popular shops now had a reason to visit the Swag Shop to get the exclusive merchandise. “We like the idea of driving fans and new fans into the arena to see the broader collection,” Weber said.
Brett Yormark, CEO of Barclays Center operator Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment, says BSE has always taken a cutting-edge approach to improving the fan experience.
“This partnership with Rank + Rally allows us to curate our retail to the tastes of our fans,” Yormark said.
It isn’t just about creating new products and points of entry to new fans. Rank + Rally aims to have teams think about new ways to expand on programs already in place, managing existing league apparel and license partners as they create custom items and combine with local vendors (Portland’s Rip City Clothing Co. shop inside Moda Center includes 20 local vendors).
“It is critically important to work in tandem with what is happening in the league,” said Catherine Cronin, division president for Rank + Rally. “What we are doing is a complement and an extension.” That may mean, though, that Rank + Rally finds new ways for a team to work customization into an existing deal with New Era hats or Nike or Adidas jerseys.


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DINOSAURS ARE JUST THE BEGINNING
 
Posted: 1 Feb 2018, 3:00 pm

Feld Entertainment’s newest spectacular will likely also be the launch of a new franchise, comparable to the firm’s collaboration with Disney, which has led to multiple ice and theater family show productions.

This time, they are collaborating with NBCUniversal’s Universal Brand Development on a live version of Jurassic World, to hit the road in the fall of 2019, said Steve Yaros, SVP, global public relations for Feld Entertainment. Production will take place at Feld’s Palmetto, Fla., studios.
Arena managers have been primed for this show since last year. Like most, Allen Johnson, Orlando Venues, has dates on hold for Amway Center, thinking in terms of mul¬tiples. Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, which closed last May, traditionally played a weeklong run at the arena in January. Feld Entertainment’s Mark Duryea and the North American routing and tours group have filled a lot of those dates with Marvel Universe Live, also a Disney franchise. Now, it is anticipated that Marvel and Jurassic World will alternate. Orlando hosted Marvel Thursday-Sunday this year.
For Johnson, it means production is a little easier in that he can leave the ice down if he gets January dates for either show. For the circus, he had to take the ice out and put it back. There can’t be too many family shows, he said, and any time you add a product, no one knows what it will grow to, he added, citing the way the December classic Trans-Siberian Orchestra has taken off.
Staples Center, Los Angeles, traditionally had summer dates for the circus. Lee Zeidman, president for AEG at that complex, had Marvel for seven shows last summer. It’s a “different deal” than they had with the circus, he said, more favorable for both the building and promoter, which he worked out with Duryea.
“We’re excited about the new content,” Zeidman said. “All family shows are essential to our business. It’s all about content. It rounds out our calendar.”
For Staples Center, which will be getting the Grammys back for the next four years, he noted, Feld productions, Los Angeles Sparks WNBA games and concerts make for a busy summer.
While Jurassic World is dinosaur-centric, like Walking With Dinosaurs years ago, its potential is unlimited because there is a popular movie franchise associated with it. The technology is also more advanced now, Yaros added.
Jurassic World has a huge and loyal following. When the news was released publicly Jan. 25, NBCUniversal put it up on its Facebook page, which has 8.5 million followers.
Universal Brand Development is a new department led by Vince Klaseus, president, which is charged with expanding options for the company’s extensive portfolio of intellec¬tual properties created by Universal Pictures, Illumination Entertainment, DreamWorks Animation, and NBCUniversal cable and television. Universal Brand Development is a business segment of Universal Filmed Enter¬tainment Group, and part of NBCUniversal, a subsidiary of Comcast Corp.
Universal Brand Development approached Feld Entertainment about producing a live version of the No. 1 movie in their portfolio, Yaros said. “It’s early in the partnership. Now we work with two of the largest content providers in the world – Disney and Universal.” Add Sesame Workshop and the new collaboration with Feld in production of Sesame Street Live, and the family show producer is on a roll.
“Nothing can replace Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey,” Yaros said, “but the Greatest Show on Earth lives on in the fabric of every one of our productions. It makes us the experts at what we do.”
“This particular property is a dynamic, incredible franchise with which to launch our relationship with Universal,” Yaros added. Juliette Feld is the producer.
Following a multiyear run in the U.S., Jurassic World Live (the exact name has not yet been decided) will tour globally. It features a herd of life-size dinosaurs extending up to 40 feet long. Using state-of-the-art projection mapping, fans will be transported right onto Isla Nublar, and with the addition of sophisticated animatronics and performer-operated characters, the dinosaurs will literally be the biggest stars of the show as the story is told through human and dinosaur interaction.
Jurassic World, with a worldwide box-of¬fice gross of more than $1.67 billion, ranks as the fourth-biggest movie release of all time. The next installment in the film franchise, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, arrives in theaters June 22.


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CLOSE TO THE HEART OF SUPER BOWL CITY
 
Posted: 1 Feb 2018, 3:00 pm

As Minneapolis cordons off an area around U.S. Bank Stadium with five miles of chain-link fencing in time for the Feb. 4 Super Bowl, physical barriers play a key role in securing the site of Super Bowl LII and limiting access to ticket holders. But when tens of thousands of fans descend on downtown, welcomed by a free 10-day Super Bowl Live event geared toward inclusion, pushing people away from the action runs contrary to the purpose of the event.

That’s why Nicollet Mall, a recently renovated downtown pedestrian and transit mall lined with shopping and dining, will come to life, all programmed, themed and carefully planned.
“We are excited to utilize Nicollet Mall for Super Bowl Live as it will create a vibrant atmosphere in downtown Minneapolis and be the gateway to all things Super Bowl,” said Michael Howard, spokesperson for the Minnesota Super Bowl Host Committee.
The SB Live event started in Indianapolis in 2012 as a way for the host committee there to celebrate the Super Bowl in downtown. The huge success of the event, tying together the city and the event for an entire week, has continued on, said Jerry Anderson, Populous founder and senior principal, who has worked on live events from Olympics to Super Bowls for decades. Now SB Live happens each year, with each city putting its own spin on the festivities, from location to themes. Minneapolis’ version began Jan. 26 and runs through game day.
Led by the host committee, the NFL’s On Location Experiences and its production company Kreate brought Populous on to help with the planning, event design and programming for the Minneapolis version, which will convert a six-block stretch of Nicollet, a far different model than dropping SB Live in a vacant parking lot.
“Nicollet Mall was chosen over other locations because it is in the heart of the city and if you are going to put on an event for locals, it needs to be in the heart,” says Bobby Sloan, Populous’ project leader. “It made sense despite the challenges it gave us on the design and planning side.”
With 10,000 office workers in adjacent buildings along the pedestrian-heavy mall, the linear feel of the event will take on multiple themes, changing from block to block, day to day and even day to evening, as daytime events favor families and young adult-focused draws come alive at night.
Howard says the event will embrace all things “Bold North,” intentionally including outdoor attractions that highlight winter in Minnesota. From cross-country skiing and fat-tire bike racing across the American Birkebeiner International Bridge, a 200-foot span that’s part of the annual American Birkebeiner cross-country skiing race in Wisconsin, to an outdoor concert series at Ice Mountain on Nicollet Mall and Eighth Street, the space will fill with activations and activities.
Spending more than a year doing outreach “so that we can build an experience where those local businesses can flourish with the opportunity to bring one million visitors to our state,” Howard said, also meant pro¬gramming a space that changed each day to provide dynamic opportunity for visitors to return multiple times.
Anderson said that’s where music becomes important, as does sponsors’ willingness to get creative and change activations daily. Local food, night light shows and pop-up spaces all prove key. “Some activations will only be up for a day or two and will then be gone,” Sloan says. “The pop-up stuff some of the sponsors are doing creates a ‘wow’ factor.”
The linear makeup of the space required “technical planning” to ensure the easy flow of people, designed for 10,000 visitors at a time and as many as 30,000 over the course of a day. SB Live required the team working with the city to deal with bus routes normally on the mall, noise considerations and even the logistical nature of snow clearing, if that comes into play.
As with any major event, security takes a central role in the planning. The host committee has joined with the Minneapolis Police Department as the lead public safety agency, Howard says.
Anderson said that SB Live won’t have a fence surrounding it and that people can come and go freely, but visitors will see a security presence of public safety and law enforcement as appropriate. “You have to put that into the mix as well,” he said.
Jeffrey Miller, the NFL’s former chief of security and current owner of Jeffrey Miller Consulting, said balancing security with fan engagement becomes key in pop-up events. “You want to take all reasonable steps to protect the event and the fans attending without making it too onerous to navigate the process,” he said. “Due to the types of attacks we have witnessed at mass gathering events around the world, planners must consider the inherent vulnerabilities present at each venue location and devise a plan that accounts for the most likely risks that exist. Event plans must separate vehicles and pedestrians, utilizing appropriate barriers that will prevent a vehicle being used as a weapon.”
With a multiblock event such as SB Live, Miller said planners must balance access control without putting strain on area businesses, all while watching for weapons.
James De Meo, founder of Unified Sports & Entertainment Security Consulting, says the numerous challenges in today’s cli¬mate make safeguarding events complex and require proactive measures. Expect to see exterior perimeters and entertainment zones garnering increased securi¬ty attention at multiblock events such as SB Live, he said.
“Chokepoints and bottlenecks are prime targets for a terrorist strike,” De Meo said. “Security and law enforcement will be on the lookout for anything suspicious, out of the ordinary. Threats will be fully entertained and investigated. SB Live will be up for the challenge; they have been preparing for quite some time now.”
As SB Live connects with the heart of downtown within walking distance of U.S. Bank Stadium, expect the unique aspects of celebrating the Bold North in downtown Minneapolis’ Nicollet Mall to bring with it a fresh perspective on Super Bowl week.


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EXCITEMENT IS BUILDING IN MLS
 
Posted: 1 Feb 2018, 3:00 pm

Two new nine-figure stadiums in 2018. Another in 2019. And likely two or three more soon thereafter, meaning that Major League Soccer (mls) is without doubt in the midst of a stadium-building frenzy.

The league in December announced Nashville as its latest expansion franchise, with a second city likely joining the expansion news early this year, all on the heels of the recent additions of Orlando City SC (2015), Atlanta United FC (2017), Minnesota United FC (2017) and Los Angeles FC (2018).
Orlando kicked it all off by opening its new stadium in 2017. In the spring we’ll see the opening of 20,000-seat Audi Field in Washington, D.C., which will give league charter member D.C. United a soccer-specific home away from the cavernous RFK Stadium, and LAFC’s 22,000-seat Banc of California Stadium in Exposition Park next door to the L.A. Coliseum.
But the two new venues in 2018 simply foreshadow the future.

MINNESOTA
Minnesota United started play as an expansion franchise in 2017, taking up residence at the Uni¬versity of Minnesota’s TCF Bank Stadium. That changes in 2019 when the Loons move to St. Paul and soccer-specific Allianz Field, their privately financed $200 million new home.
In an MLS trend, Allianz will feature a steep rake—the seating bowl’s average pitch comes in at 33 degrees, rising to 35 degrees in the 2,800-seat supporters sec¬tion—with seats tight to the field. The closest seat to the action comes within 17 feet of the pitch, with the farthest 125 feet.
A 360-degree canopy protects about 85 percent of the seats from Minnesota frigid weather—radiant heating throughout the venue will help, too—and bounces noise back to the field. The open supporters section features aluminum stands, which Populous architect Bruce Miller says were “designed to be like a megaphone” and create additional noise.
Populous created an elevated pitch, complete with underground heating, in an effort to craft a platform for the players. “As the players come out of the tunnel at midfield, they will have this experience of rising up onto the stage,” Miller says. “It also gives a unique perspective to the first-row seats.”
Throughout Allianz, Minnesota United peppered in a mix of seating types: cabana-style suites with a glass opening at the back, an upstairs club level, traditional suites and super suites. They combine for a total of 22 suites and four clubs.
Outside, the plastic-based laminated exterior skin with fiberglass mesh fills with col¬or-changing LED lights, allowing for translucency and what Miller calls a dramatic opportunity at night to create a colorful display. “The whole skin has an undulating pattern, a complex com¬puter-generated geometry that evokes water and the concept of flow that is reflective of all the lakes and rivers in Minnesota,” he says.

NASHVILLE
While the league hasn’t revealed a timetable for the team to start play or construct the stadium, the opening season could come as soon as 2020. And there will be a new stadium. That remains definite.
It’s early in the process, but an HOK-designed $275-million, 27,500-seat soccer stadium has the needed backing to become a certainty. The site is at The Fairgrounds Nashville in the city’s Wedgewood-Houston neighborhood, about three miles from downtown,
“The excitement in Nashville for soccer is palpable and while we are moving forward in the process to build a stadium, we are still actively engaged in the design process,” says Zach Hunt, spokesperson for the ownership group. “We have worked hard to come up with a stadium design that fits the needs of what will be a world-class soccer club as well as the neighborhood and community in which it is located.”
Hunt expects to have final designs later this year.

FURTHER EXPANSION
Originally 12 cities vied for MLS expansion teams, but the league whittled that to four finalists—Nashville, Cincinnati, Detroit and Sacramento—meaning one of three remaining locations can expect the nod at any point.
What to expect from the next MLS stadium depends on the chosen city.
A fifth franchise, in Miami, was announced last week.
FC Cincinnati has plans for a 25,000-seat stadium designed by Meis Architects, already OK’d by the city. The horseshoe design in the Oakley neighborhood could expand to 30,000 seats by filling in the end. The roughly $250-million project includes about $200 million from the team and the rest from the public for infrastructure upgrades. The club will lease the stadium for 20 years and own it after that.
Detroit, which originally offered up a Rossetti design of a 23,000-seat stadium at the site of an unfinished jail about three miles from downtown, changed course when the Ford family entered the expansion bid as co-owners. The team plans to use the National Football League’s recently revamped Ford Field in downtown as a home, configured to host anywhere from 26,000 to 64,000 fans.
After the fall 2017 announcement of the shift, the MLS released a statement saying that the league favored soccer-specific stadiums in the bid process. That said, the MLS did expand to Atlanta, with their permanent home at the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium, home of the NFL’s Falcons.
Sacramento has moved the closest of the four expansion finalists to an actual new stadium, with groundwork completed on a planned 20,000-seat stadium at The Railyards in downtown. Construction would start upon MLS acceptance.
The 406,000-square-foot facility can expand to 22,000 seats on the 14.9-acre site, one block from a regional transit station. The privately financed $245-million stadium sits as the centerpiece to a broader redevelopment of The Railyards.
Kevin Nagle, owner of Sac Re¬public FC, now a wildly successful team playing in the United Soccer League, said in a statement that actions speak louder than words when it comes to a stadium. “In that spirit, Republic FC and the people of Sacramento are making our strongest statement to date with the start of stadium con¬struction at The Railyards. We believe in our fans, we believe in our stadium plan and we believe in our destiny as an MLS city.”
Miami is one of the oddest expansion stories in sports. Nearly five years ago David Beckham exercised a contract option to become a MLS expansion owner in Miami at a steeply discounted rate, contingent upon building a suitable soccer stadium. That didn’t happen right away, as Beckham rotated investors and owners and bounced among potential sites, but news reports last month indicated the launch of the franchise could be imminent, but the MLS finally announced it was awarding the Miami franchise to Beckham’s ownership group Jan. 29.
The latest stadium location—Beckham’s fourth—has the proposed franchise landing in the Miami neighborhood of Overtown on a nine-acre parcel north of the Miami River and west of downtown.
Beckham hopes to build a privately financed $225-million, 25,000-seat open-air stadium without any on-site parking.

ELSEWHERE
Expansion teams may lead the way, but New England has floated the possibility of moving out of Gillette Stadium to a soccer-spe¬cific stadium in Rhode Island, although those talks are highly preliminary.
At Portland’s historic downtown Providence Park, the Timbers have started a $55-million plan to add 4,000 seats with a vertical addition to the stadium’s east side that would push capacity past 25,000. The two-year expansion will allow play to continue at the stadium this season and open for 2019.


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PREMIUM SALES WELCOMES A NEW PLAYER TO THE GAME
 
Posted: 1 Feb 2018, 2:00 pm

Chris Allphin thinks the addition of Elevate Sports Ventures to the ranks of premium seat sales consultants is a good thing.

That may seem odd coming from an executive for a company chasing the same clients as Elevate. Allphin is senior vice president of team and venue services for Van Wagner Sports & Entertainment, which like Elevate is looking for deals with teams to sell PSLs, suites and club seats.
And Elevate has the pedigree of a serious player. The joint ven¬ture, announced in late January, was formed by the San Francisco 49ers, CAA Sports and Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment, owner of the Philadelphia 76ers and New Jersey Devils.
“We’re looking to partner with teams, leagues and governing boards to grow our business,” said Al Guido, 49ers president, and CEO and managing partner for Elevate. “I believe in our services, and we look forward to competing in an open market.”
To Allphin, it’s all good.
“The more teams can go outside their own walls, the better it is for us,” said Allphin. “Our biggest competition is the teams themselves that feel they can do it better. Clearly, [outsourcing] works. I don’t see Elevate as a threat. I want teams to think this [option] is an obvious choice.”
Bernie Mullin feels the same way. Ten years ago Mullin, formerly an NBA executive, launched The Aspire Group, which works exclusively in the college market.
Legends Global Sales, another consultant, does work in the pro and big college space; Aspire’s client list extends to smaller schools.
“Knowing most of the guys in our world, [Elevate’s] competition will be with Legends and not us,” Mullin said. “If they want to get into our space, we welcome it.”
IMG-Learfield, Aspire’s chief competition, “is a multibillion-dollar company and we more than hold our own against them. Welcome and good luck.”


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WELCOME TO VENUESNOW
 
Posted: 1 Feb 2018, 2:00 pm

Five, four, three, two, one …. welcome to the launch of VenuesNow and a new era of venue trade media. The publication you hold in your hands (or are reading online, please indulge me a bit of drama) is the result of a massive effort on the part of a lot of people from coast to coast who worked together to bring a wide range of scattered concepts, strong opinions, crazy ideas, wishful thinking and more than a few twisted pipe dreams to life, in brilliant color and updated fonts.

When we embarked on this process, we had two relatively simple goals in mind. The first was to give venues superlative information that helps them operate more effectively and profitably. That includes useful stories and charts on operations, security, technology, concessions, and bookings. With increased competition in the venue world, the latter is more challenging than ever. The connections between venues and the people who can bring them business—agents, managers, promoters and producers—are critical. We will not be satisfied until VenuesNow sits in the offices of every agency, management firm and content provider in the world. (Uh, someone let us know when we achieve that.)
The second was to look damn good doing it.
Our intent is to not only build on the foundation laid in this publication’s first 15 years under the Venues Today banner, but to take venue-centric coverage into new realms. In fact, “VenuesNow” is somewhat a misnomer. We are very much dedicated to showing you where venues are headed. Where you should be going to maintain a competitive edge.
To that end, VN will focus on data-driven content, and broaden our horizons beyond arenas, stadiums, theaters, PACs and convention centers into the world of festivals, amphitheaters, clubs, and alternative venues. These venues share common challenges and opportunities, and the people who run them can and should learn from each other. We embrace all venues, and will not sacrifice attention focused on the traditional facilities this publication has covered in the past.
Certainly, VenuesNow looks vastly different from its predecessor, but much remains the same. As promised last summer, VenuesNow will devote increased focus on two areas that are both ever-evolving and beyond critical to venues and the live business at large: security and technology. Without proper attention to the former, venues risk their most important asset, their fans. And to ignore shifts in technology and what it offers venues is to be left behind. We will cover issues related to both topics from front-of-house to back-of-house, including sponsorships, ticketing, operations, content, tenants, and beyond.
In terms of technology, there is no better box office data collection mechanism in live entertainment than that built by our sister publication, Pollstar, which has for 30 years been laser-focused on building and maintaining a box office database second to none. Combined with VenuesNow’s legacy information, and reconfigured to provide monthly data charts specifically designed as a tool for venues, VenuesNow box office charts offer intel truly unique and unparalleled in entertainment trade media. Part of that shift is ranking venues by attendance as opposed to gross: unless the promoter owns the venue (and often even then), the well-worn “butts in seats” mantra is truly the metric of success for venues, and what drives profit. Whether ticket revenue is $10,000 or $10 million, a full house is what matters most to venue operators.
And we are not done. OVG is committing resources and building partnerships that will lead us to an even more powerful information technology media platform, one that has global relevancy, metrics and datapoints that run the spectrum of revenue streams and serve as an even more telling barometer of performance. If information is power, we intend to be the Superman of live entertainment and sports media brands, which spills into our conferences Pollstar Live!, Pollstar Midem, VenuesNow (returning in June), the various live events of our partner SportTechie.com, and more events to be announced around the globe.
Launching VenuesNow has been a monumental, often thrilling, occasionally frustrating, task, and with any such endeavor there are many people to thank. First, my former Billboard editor Bill Werde, now in the academic ranks as director of the Bandier Program for Music at Syracuse University, brought his vast experience and insight and did a tremendous job steering this redesign program from an initial conversation to fruition.
Art Director Andrew Horton, the Pride of Brisbane, converted abstract ideas and napkin blueprints into an eye-popping, contemporary magazine. Then the cavalry arrived with the new year when Rob Knapp and Don Muret, Managing Editor and Senior Editor at Ven¬uesNow, respectively (and both veterans of respected trade Sports Business Journal), came in. Finally, OVG CEO Tim Leiweke, board member Irving Azoff, President of Business Development Francesca Bodie, and the entire OVG team of over-achievers in L.A., had our backs throughout, and provided us the resources and vision to pull this off.
These are exciting times for OVG’s Media & Conferences division and, as Tim told me recently, “only the first chapter.” I don’t know if I should be excited or scared witless. Fear and enthusiasm notwithstanding, through this cyclone of “positive disruption” we are constantly aware of our responsibility to lean in with journalistic integrity and unwavering commitment to evenhanded, knowledgeable, insightful and, most importantly, accurate coverage of the live entertainment industry through the lens of venue professionals. Your trust and our credibility are our most valuable assets, and we will continue to cover this industry in an unbiased way. VenuesNow is for all live stakeholders, the people who make the magic happen, and we will never tilt in favor of one concern over another. Don’t take my word for it—read VenuesNow and let us know if we ever veer from the concourse.

Sincerely
Ray Waddell
PRESIDENT, OVG MEDIA & CONFERENCES


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HOW CHASE CENTER WILL CHANGE THE CITY
 
Posted: 1 Feb 2018, 2:00 pm

Rick welts has a heavy load. A very heavy load. Welts, the Golden State Warriors’ president and chief operating officer, is in charge of developing Chase Center, the defending NBA champions’ state-of-the-art billion-dollar arena under construction in San Francisco.

The privately financed facility stands out in a vastly overheated urban real estate market for its prime location in the Mission Bay neighborhood near the city’s waterfront. It’s also unique because the Warriors are one of the few teams outside of the NFL to use seat license revenue to help pay for construction. In addition, it’s the first new big-league arena to open in San Francisco since the Cow Palace in 1941.

For Welts, 62, the project rep¬resents a defining moment in his 40-year NBA career that included a nine-year stint with the Phoenix Suns, where he also oversaw the team’s interest in U.S. Airways Center and the Phoenix Mercury, and a 17-year run working out of the NBA league offices in New York. And to think it all began in 1969 when this power exec be¬came a ball boy for his hometown Seattle SuperSonics.

VenuesNow Senior Editor Don Muret spoke with Welts to discuss Chase Center’s effect on the sports and entertainment landscape and the mixed-use project next door designed to create a year-round destination for the overall development.

Where does the project stand at this point?
We’re about 40 percent through construction and broke ground in January 2017. … We’re on sched¬ule, targeted to open late summer 2019.

What’s been the biggest challenge thus far?
Going 30 feet down below grade, when we’re only a couple hundred feet from San Francisco Bay, We’re building a three-story, 1,000-space parking facility below grade, which was quite an engineering as well as a financial challenge. We’ve got about 450 people on site every day working and you can actually see a portion of the upper bowl, complete with the steel that will support the seating areas.

From a design standpoint, one of the reasons we spent $100 million going 30 feet below grade is because we really needed the building to be attractive 360 degrees around. We couldn’t have a back door for load-in, things like that, so part of the benefit of below-grade construction is that trucks carrying shows will disappear at the curb and do their business below grade and out of sight.

What will be Chase Center’s defining feature in your mind? Part of the project is the construction of a 5.5-acre park that will be the only thing between Chase Center and San Francisco Bay. So, the setting is going to be the unique aspect of the building. … We have two 160-foot-tall office buildings with 29 retail spaces next door and there’s no public money that goes into this project.

How is it being financed?
It’s 100 percent privately financed. We’re in a unique market at a unique point in time with a unique basketball team that is helping drive the economics of this project, but the private financing is what distinguishes this from any other arena project in the last 25 years.

What will be the capacity?
We’re also building smaller than Oracle Arena, which to some people seems counterintuitive, based on the fact that we’ve sold out 260 consecutive games and have a great demand for tickets, a 43,000-person waiting list. But again, this is focused on the optimal atmosphere for NBA basketball, a little smaller than the 19,500 seats we have at Oracle. We think 18,000 is that sweet spot in terms of intimacy for our basketball team.

How will that capacity work with concerts?
I think it’s also going to serve us well on the concert side. We’re not designing open concourses and that’s [an acoustical] consideration for us. We opted to go for the fully enclosed bowl. We’ve taken a lot of cues from Oracle Arena and what we think works well and what we know our fans are used to having, [which] did play a little bit into the decision into whether it’s open or not. For what we’re trying to achieve, we wanted to have it completely enclosed.
There are also two main entrances, which is also a bit unusual. The thinking behind that’s really driven by the fact that we believe we are creating the best ‘arena in arena’ configuration [2,000 to 5,000 seats] that’s ever been done. On nights that we’re using our theater [configuration] in the arena, that will be the only entrance. It’s designed to look much more like an arrival experience at a cultural event, like going to the opera or the symphony.
You go from that entrance lobby to the concourse, which leads you into a club, which then leads you to the seating bowl. It’s actually the existing seating bowl for the arena, but with walls and ceiling and sound and another stage. It will be a completely enclosed space and hopefully the result is you feel like you’re in a theater instead of in part of an arena.

How is the Warriors’ personal seat license membership program going?
We’ve only dealt with the owners so far. We have 32 owners and just completed going through that process to seat them. They’re full participants in the membership program. They, along with every other season-ticket holder, pay a membership fee to own their seat location for 30 years. We start that process with our existing season ticket base on Feb. 12. Half of the memberships are priced below $15,000. The different aspect of this, compared to other programs used for project financing, is you’re going to get your money back after 30 years. Also, you have the ability to transfer or sell that membership to someone else, who will then have the right to buy those seats. … Other teams in our market have done extremely well with their version, the 49ers most recently.

How many memberships do you hope to sell?
We capped the number at 14,000 for Oracle Arena for the past several years. With fewer seats, our guess is we’re going to cap it at a little less than that. We like the formula of keeping at least 5,000 [single-game tickets] available and will continue to do that going forward.

What are your sales projections?
We haven’t said anything publicly on what our goals are for the memberships program. One of the benefits of a privately financed arena is that we don’t have to offer those projections. It’s definitely nine figures.

You’re going from being a tenant at Oracle Arena to running your own building and forming an entertainment company. Talk about that adjustment.
I was just meeting with a group of new employees this morning and the question was asked, ‘What’s the thing you’re looking most forward to?’ For us, it’s controlling every aspect of the fan experience. Right now, the city of Oakland and county of Alameda own our facility. … While we do our best to influence the customer service level, we ultimately are not able to make any changes ourselves.

Parking is always at the top of the list for fan experience. How will it work as well as getting people in and out of the building?
In our Chase Center Experience [preview center], about a block from the project, we have devoted a big part of it to transportation. When we bring potential season-ticket holders there, we can actually show them on a touch screen the exact route from their home to the arena, and through Google Maps, how long it will take them at 5 p.m. on a Saturday.
We have 1,000 parking spots on site, dedicated to premium customers for Warriors games and retail. In the surrounding area, it’s all new construction as part of the Mission Bay master plan. Parking structures are aplenty and we’re negotiating additional parking facilities that we plan to make available for our events. The Giants have over 2,500 surface lot spaces four blocks north of the arena site. There may be two to three times a year we will play at the same time, but those are public lots and we’ll have access to them.

How will public transportation work?
One of the blessings of this site is we have two transit systems, MUNI and BART. There’s an existing MUNI platform on our block. Totally unrelated to Chase Center is construction of the Central Subway System, which is scheduled to be done when our building opens in 2019. What’s great about that is it ties the entire regional transportation system to our site. If somebody takes BART to Powell Street Station in downtown San Francisco, they can get on the subway and get dropped off at our front door, 200 feet away.

What about dining options?
Because we have so many restaurants immediately outside the arena, we’re not building as many sit-down restaurants in the arena.

How many suites left to sell?
We’re at about 80 percent sell-through with about 18 months left to go. We have three different products, starting with 32 courtside lounges at event level with access to seats in rows 6 through 9. The traditional suites are called club suites, with 44 in a single ring at midlevel, which is fewer than at Oracle. We’re all in on theater boxes, with 60 four-seaters.

Are the Warriors the developer for the mixed-use piece or do you have a partnet?
We’re working with Blau Associates of Las Vegas, a restaurant developer. We’re going to probably do a big splash [to announce the first tenants] this summer.

Social gathering spaces is the big buzz term these days. How will that trend take shape at Chase Center?
We fought hard to have some very spacious and very grand entry lobbies. Gensler is our interior designer and the quality and level of finish is extraordinary in this building. … We’re also creating social areas adjacent to the arena and those are just as important to us.

What’s new with technology in the building?
Our approach. Our focus is on the fan experience and where technology can improve it, we’re all in, but we’re not going to have it just so we can claim to be the most technologically-advanced building.


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REVAMPED ALAMODOME BACK IN THE SPOTLIGHT
 
Posted: 1 Feb 2018, 2:00 pm

Remember the Alamodome? Yes, it’s still standing, and a $60 million facelift ahead of this year’s NCAA Final Four brings the stadium up to the level of newer buildings competing for the event.

The dome opened its doors in May 1993, just eight months after the Georgia Dome opened. The Atlanta venue was recently demolished after Mercedes-Benz Stadium opened next door. In San Antonio, though, the Alamodome found new life. Multiple upgrades, completed in late 2017, give the facility a fresh look with wider concourses, new outdoor hospitality spaces and bigger video boards in the inner bowl. The building will seat 70,000 for the Final Four.

On the marketing side, for the first time, the city-owned venue has a long-term sponsorship program after leaving those deals up to promoters on a per-event basis. Pepsi, regional supermarket H-E-B and Universal Health System have all signed multiyear “Star Partner” deals valued at $300,000 annually.

Star Partners get naming rights and branding for the stadium’s four entrances. A fourth deal is pending in the beer, wine and spirits category, said Randy Bernstein, president and CEO of Premier Partnerships, the California firm selling sponsorships for the Alamodome.

Premier Partnerships is also searching for a naming-rights partner for the dome itself (see related story, Page 28), a deal that must be approved and signed by the city. Together, they hope to sign a 10- year deal valued at a minimum of $1 million annually, Bernstein said.

“They’ve left a lot of revenue untapped in the past,” he said.

The work of bringing the building up to speed began more than five years ago, about the same time Nick Langella took over as GM after filling the same role at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis. At the time, the city of San Antonio hired Populous, the Alamodome’s original architect, to study what needed to be done for the stadium to meet NFL standards while local officials were pursuing a team.

As part of the 2012 study, Populous brought in its Denver-based events group, which the NCAA uses as a consultant for Final Four preparations, to help determine where the Alamodome fell short in its qualifications for the event, said Brady Spencer, a senior architect and principal with Populous who worked on the project.

The Rams moved to Los Angeles and the Raiders committed to Las Vegas, leaving San Antonio without the NFL tenant it was pursuing. But officials thought they could still attract the Final Four, where the dome had a proven track record, and potentially the College Football Playoff title game, plus international soccer, boxing and pro wrestling. One of WWE’s marquee events, the Royal Rumble, played the dome last year for the first time since 1997, Langella said.

“There were a number of things we wanted to do for attracting bigger events,” he said. “We had the Final Four in 2004 and 2008, and at that point, people realized the stadium needed to improve to reach a [higher] level that the NCAA felt comfortable with.”

For the Final Four, the bottom line was finding more open space inside the building to meet the NCAA’s requirements as that event has grown in scope over the past decade, Spencer said.

After the Populous study was completed, it sat on the shelf for about two years as the city focused on a much bigger project, the $325 million expansion of the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center, the site of the Final Four fanfest. The additions bring the convention center’s footprint much closer to the Alamodome. Nearby, Hemisfair Park, originally built for the 1968 World’s Fair, added more green space to hold the March Madness Music Festival concerts.

Three years ago, Populous officially won the bid to design the improvements. The Kansas City firm teamed with Marmon Mok Architecture, a local firm that also worked on the original job, and builder Turner Construction. PC Sports was the owner’s representative.

One part of the solution was to build a new multipurpose room at event level. For the Final Four, the 24,000-square-foot space will serve as the media work center, fully equipped to meet the needs of print, digital and broadcast outlets. To create that space, workers excavated about 20 feet below the dome at its north end, opposite the loading dock. An old fountain was torn down as part of that job, Langella said.

Spencer said, “That room is even better than what they have at a lot of the new facilities that got the Final Four. In a new stadium, they typically find the biggest storage room to fit the media.”

Separately, the concourses along the east and west sides were expanded outward, and doubled in width to 40 feet, with new concession stands incorporated into the new walls. It was a bit tricky to accomplish because the dome is wedged between railroad tracks and a highway, Spencer said.

“There’s limited real estate outside,” he said. “It was a game of inches for how far we could expand.”

As part of those redeveloped and bigger spaces, new outdoor terraces serve as beer gardens on event days. Combined, the two beer gardens can accommodate about 1,000 people, Langella said. SMG Savor operates those destinations as part of running the food operation.

Technology upgrades took up $15 million of the project cost. There are now Daktronics video boards in all four corners of the upper bowl, doubling the original number of screens. There’s a new LED ribbon board in the upper level and a new sound system in place.

The Valero Alamo Bowl, played every December at the dome, provided $6 million to the facility to upgrade the stadium’s Wi-Fi system to meet demand for up to 75,000 patrons with mobile devices.

Club lounges have been renovated with new carpet and ceilings with stronger branding, done in tandem with Savor.

The Alamodome has always had a flexible seating grid. It can seat 20,000-plus in an arena configuration and be cut down to 5,000 for an intimate show in a theater setting.

For the Mikey Garcia-Sergey Lipinets boxing match Feb. 10, a junior welterweight championship bout, the dome will accommodate up to 30,000.

“Boxing is just as good [for producing revenue] as a concert,” Langella said. “I buy a lot of curtains … you take what you can get.”


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HOT TICKETS FOR JANUARY 24, 2018
 
Posted: 24 Jan 2018, 10:00 pm

Andrea Bocelli serenades the crowd during Andrea Bocelli In Concert at Frank Erwin Center, Austin.

Andrea Bocelli is scheduled to play arenas in the southeastern U.S. next month, but on Jan. 20 he was in Europe, pulling in a crowd of 12,767 for a show in Antwerp, Belgium, and generating a gross of $1,634,785 at the Antwerps Sportpaleis. 

Meanwhile, back in the Southeast, home-state favorites the Avett Brothers headlined at show at PNC Arena in Raleigh, North Carolina. Attendance was 11,377, and the show produced gross sales of $735,566.

HOT TICKETS is a weekly summary of the top events and ticket sales as reported to VenuePulse via Pollstar. Following are the top 20 concerts and events, the top 5 in each attendance category, which took place between Dec. 27, 2017-Jan. 24.

15,001 or More Attendance

10,001-15,000 Attendance

5,001-10,000 Attendance

5,000 or Fewer Attendance

1) Cirque du Soleil “Crystal”
Gross Sales: $1,805,547; Venue: Little Caesars Arena, Detroit; Attendance: 24,254; Ticket Range: $135-$40; Promoter: Cirque du Soleil; Dates: Jan. 10-14; No. of Shows: 7

2) Les Miserables
Gross Sales: $1,556,318; Venue: Academy Of Music, Philadelphia; Attendance: 18,827; Ticket Range: $124-$15; Promoter: In-house; Dates: Jan. 9-14; No. of Shows: 8

3) Britney Spears
Gross Sales: $3,877,195; Venue: The Axis at Planet Hollywood, Las Vegas; Attendance: 18,004; Ticket Range: $495-$54; Promoter: Caesars Entertainment, Inc.; Dates: Dec. 27-31; No. of Shows: 4

4) Billy Joel
Gross Sales: $2,370,139; Venue: BB&T Center, Sunrise, Fla.; Attendance: 17,927; Ticket Range: $169.50-$49.50; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Dec. 31; No. of Shows: 1

5) Julion Alvarez
Gross Sales: $551,029; Venue: Arena Monterrey, Mexico; Attendance: 17,500; Ticket Range: $135.05-$13.50; Promoter: Zignia Live; Dates: Jan. 13; No. of Shows: 1

1) Andrea Bocelli
Gross Sales: $1,634,785; Venue: Antwerps Sportpaleis, Merksem, Belgium; Attendance: 12,767; Ticket Range: $170.66-$109.22; Promoter: Gracia Live; Dates: Jan. 20; No. of Shows: 1

2) Sebastian Maniscalco
Gross Sales: $751,858; Venue: Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier, Montreal; Attendance: 11,809; Ticket Range: $263.62-$45.22; Promoter: Just For Laughs Live; Dates: Jan. 5-6; No. of Shows: 4

3) Jerry Seinfeld
Gross Sales: $1,487,540; Venue: Menora Mivtachim Arena, Tel Aviv, Israel; Attendance: 11,773; Ticket Range: $366.66-$85.07; Promoter: JS Touring, Gad Oron Productions; Dates: Dec. 30; No. of Shows: 2

4) The Avett Brothers
Gross Sales: $735,566; Venue: PNC Arena, Raleigh, N.C.; Attendance11,377; Ticket Range: $74.50-$28.44; Promoter: Outback Concerts ; Dates: Dec. 31; No. of Shows: 1

5) Andre Rieu
Gross Sales: $1,088,801; Venue: Ziggo Dome, Amsterdam; Attendance: 11,016; Ticket Range: $55.75-30.97; Promoter: Andre Rieu Productions B.V.; Dates: Jan. 6; No. of Shows: 1

1) Mrs. Brown’s Boys
Gross Sales: $814,327; Venue: Newcastle Entertainment Centre, Broadmeadow, Australia; Attendance: 9,321; Ticket Range: $160.77-$71.90; Promoter: Antix Management; Dates: Jan. 18-20; No. of Shows: 4

2) Avenged Sevenfold
Gross Sales: $442,651; Venue: Bryce Jordan Center, University Park, Pa.; Attendance: 8,938; Ticket Range: $75-$25; Promoter: CMoore Live, FPC Live, NS2; Dates: Jan. 17; No. of Shows: 1

3) Riverdance
Gross Sales: $634,672; Venue: Broward Center for the Performing Arts, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; Attendance: 8,701; Ticket Range: $80.25-$35.25; Promoter: Broward County Cultural Division, Broadway Across America; Dates: Jan. 5-7; No. of Shows: 5

4) Jim Jefferies
Gross Sales: $478,938; Venue: Ziggo Dome, Amsterdam; Attendance: 8,506; Ticket Range: $33.22-$16.89; Promoter: Greenhouse Talent; Dates: Jan. 7; No. of Shows: 1

5) Ehrlich Brothers
Gross Sales: $626,915; Venue: Konig-Pilsener Arena, Oberhausen, Germany; Attendance: 8,374; Ticket Range: $99.40-$43.49; Promoter: P Promotions; Dates: Dec. 31; No. of Shows: 1

1) Motown The Musical
Gross Sales: $207,862; Venue: Mary Stuart Rogers Theatre, Modesto, Calif.; Attendance: 2,973; Ticket Range: $99-$39; Promoter: In-house; Dates: Jan. 2-4; No. of Shows: 3

2) Riley Green
Gross Sales: $44,200; Venue: Iron City, Birmingham, Ala.; Attendance: 2,600; Ticket Range: $17; Promoter: In-house, Red Mountain Entertainment; Dates: Jan. 12-13; No. of Shows: 2

3) San Antonio Symphony Orchestra
Gross Sales: $75,494; Venue: H-E-B Performance Hall at The Tobin Center, San Antonio; Attendance: 2,178; Ticket Range: $81-$18; Promoter: San Antonio Symphony; Dates: Jan. 19-20; No. of Shows: 2

4) Menopause – The Musical
Gross Sales: $92,615; Venue: San Jose (Calif.) State University Hammer Theater Center; Attendance: 2,083; Ticket Range: $72-$36; Promoter: Emery Entertainment; Dates: Jan. 9-14; No. of Shows: 8

5) Clutch
Gross Sales: $59,000; Venue: Starland Ballroom, Sayreville, N.J.; Attendance: 2,000; Ticket Range: $35-$29.50; Promoter: AEG Presents, Concerts West, Goldenvoice; Dates: Dec. 28; No. of Shows: 1

The Weekly Hot Tickets chart is compiled by Brad Rogers, brad@pollstar.com. To submit reports, e-mail Brad@pollstar.com or submit to (714) 378-0040.

 


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National Western Draws Big Crowds
 
Posted: 24 Jan 2018, 5:10 pm

With a successful run in the books, the spotlight at Denver's National Western Stock Show now falls on renovations. (National Western Stock Show)

The $1 billion renovation underway at the National Western Stock Show didn’t slow down attendance numbers this year, as the stock show lassoed its second-highest crowd since its 100th anniversary in 2006.

A total of 705,574 people visited the stock show, which ran Jan. 6-21 in Denver, up 3 percent from the 684,580 visitors in 2017. The 2006 show still boasts the top figure of 726,972 guests.

“Boy, I’ll tell you, if you would’ve told me we were going to be over 700,000 people, I would have told you that was a miracle,” NWSS President and CEO Paul Andrews said. “We had 44 states here this year. We had 800 visitors from other countries here, and the weather cooperated all the way to the last Sunday." Snowy weather hurt Sunday’s attendance, he said.

The stock show is approaching the second phase of a massive renovation and expansion that started last fall. Phase one has focused on infrastructure work around the site, including leveling an old building that used to be the International Paper Warehouse. That building was torn down in November to make room for a new outdoor music venue for festivals.

The stock show sits on 90 acres, but when construction is complete in 2023 it will occupy 250 acres. The project was made possible in 2015 when voters approved public funding for the renovations.

“This year we had more parking than we ever did in the past,” Andrews said, highlighting that the stock show had 1,000 extra parking spots this year on the former paper warehouse building site.

The expansion of the complex will turn the old grounds into a modern-day campus that includes a 230,000-square-foot livestock center with a 3,000-seat arena. A 200,000-square-foot barn will be attached to the livestock center and will also be used for expos. A Colorado State University research center is also included in the master plan.

Each year, the complex hosts roughly 250 events, which have been organized and managed by Andrews’ team until now.

On Jan. 4, the city of Denver announced a new authority will manage the complex year-round with the exception of the 16-day stock show, the Rodeo All-Star Weekend and the Denver County Fair, which will remain solely under Andrews' management.

The 13-member authority, which includes Andrews, will oversee the operations and programming of the other year-round events for agricultural education and entertainment, as laid out in the National Western Center Framework Agreement, according to a press release.

“This board has a very important duty — to guide this community asset for the maximum benefit to our community,” Denver Mayor Michael Hancock said in a statement. “I have no doubt that this impressive group of public servants will set a positive course for the National Western Center and for the neighborhoods it will call home.”

Some board members are from neighborhood groups around the complex and will help keep surrounding neighborhoods involved in decisions.

After phase two is complete, construction will begin on the exposition hall and a new 10,000-seat arena that will replace the 8,300-seat Denver Coliseum, built in 1951. The coliseum is across the interstate from the NWSS.


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Big Names Combine For Elevate
 
Posted: 24 Jan 2018, 4:55 pm

Elevate Sports Ventures will specialize in selling premium seats at sports stadiums.

Sports facility development has added a new player to a busy space. The San Francisco 49ers, Creative Artists Agency and Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment have launched Elevate Sports Ventures, a company specializing in selling PSLs, premium seats and corporate hospitality.

All three entities are equal investors in Elevate, said Al Guido, president of the 49ers. Guido fills the role of CEO and managing partner for the new company. Elevate's co-managing partners are Scott O'Neil, CEO of Harris Blitzer; Howie Nuchow and Mike Levine, CAA Sports' co-heads; and Paul Danforth, CAA Sports' global head of sales.

Together, they will pursue deals with teams to sell premium seats for new arenas and stadiums and renovated facilities.

"We're looking to partner with teams, leagues and governing boards to grow our business," Guido said. "I believe in our services, and we look forward to competing in an open market."

Officials would not confirm whether Elevate has deals signed at this point, but the firm has responded to multiple proposals, he said.

O'Neil thinks Elevate can grow business by helping teams sell PSLs, a critical piece for financing sports venues. It's one area he believes has "fallen between the cracks" in sports development.

Elevate Sports Ventures certainly has the expertise.

On his own, Guido led a hugely successful premium sales campaign at Levi's Stadium when he worked for Legends, which is co-owned by the Dallas Cowboys and New York Yankees. Selling on behalf of the 49ers, Legends generated $1 billion in total revenue — $600 million in seat licenses and club seats and $400 million in suites — for the stadium, which opened in 2014.

Elevate competes directly with Legends for business, as well as Van Wagner Sports & Entertainment and, in the college space, The Aspire Group, among other sports marketing firms.

Premium seat sales are one piece of the business that CAA Sports has always stayed out of, in part because of Levine's friendships in the industry with people who do it well, such as Guido and O'Neil. It was O'Neil who, as president of MSG Sports, hired CAA Sports in 2009 to sell high-level sponsorships tied to the $1 billion renovation of Madison Square Garden. At the time, O'Neil oversaw an internal sales staff responsible for selling suites for up to $1 million annually. In the Bay Area, CAA Sports, which brokered the $220 million naming-rights deal for Levi's Stadium, saw firsthand what Legends, with Guido in charge, did on the premium side.

"We had a lot of opportunities to participate in this [premium seat space] but we were resistant to do it," Levine said. "We felt we would do it only with the proper personnel. Al and Scott are two people we've watched up close do this work and do it very well."

Elevate Sports Ventures materialized after Guido, O'Neil, Levine, Nuchow and Danforth got together at a sports business conference last year in California. Guido and O'Neil know each other from their days together in the NBA. (Levine and David Blitzer, co-owner of Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment and who was not at the conference, have been friends since they were kids competing against each other at summer camps in the Adirondack Mountains.)

The group was discussing their respective careers, and at one point Levine mentioned the possibility of starting a new business together. Eight months and multiple conversations later, Elevate Sports Ventures was born.

Levine said, "There's a likemindedness of ownership of all three of these organizations … and for those reasons we felt this made total sense."

"There was no one client that sparked it," Guido said. "I've known Scott through the industry and he's someone I call on and share ideas [with]. My first job was with the Sixers when he was with the league. We see each other at conferences and play hoops together. Our businesses are aligned in how we run things."

Over the next several weeks, the company will hire staff to meet the needs of clients, Guido said. Elevate offices will be shared among the Bay Area, New York, Philadelphia and CAA Sports' London headquarters.


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Sharks' App Gives Access To Teams, Facilities
 
Posted: 24 Jan 2018, 12:00 pm

A look at three screens from the San Jose Sharks' new app. 

The San Jose Sharks of the National Hockey League have embraced multiple personalities in a new four-in-one app design that allows fans to seamlessly toggle among the Sharks, American Hockey League San Jose Barracudas, the SAP Center and Solar4America Ice Facilities content and functionality.

The Sharks are among the first teams in professional sports to embark on a multi-personality app.

“Our fans touch more and more things than the Sharks,” said Doug Bentz, vice president of marketing and digital for the Sharks. “We wanted to offer fans one thing where they could experience all four of those areas in one place. It will also help us understand how our fans are interacting with our brand in multiple ways and fulfill our vision of communicating and marketing to them better.”

The Sharks teamed with app creator VenueNext and Adept Mobile in a process that took about a year from concept to delivery. Even with the four-in-one approach started, the Sharks launched their first wholly developed app in September, a piece of the roadmap for getting to this month's app launch. The new app updates the Sharks’ app and provides for the first time an app for the Barracudas, SAP Center and ice facilities.

“From a technology standpoint, the way we are able to switch between brands in a relatively elegant way with just a couple of clicks was a difficult proposition and took a fair amount of time,” Bentz said. “Being able to provide the positive experience with the right amount of content and functionality for each of the properties is going to challenge us and will probably be a challenge for other organizations. The value to customers and learning more about our customers was worth that investment.”

Gabriel Smallman, president of Adept Mobile, says blending both engagement and service qualities across multiple personas was a technical and user-experience challenge, but credited the Sharks for sticking with the vision. “The success of the project,” he said, “is a direct result of the Sharks’ innovative vision and the partners working collaboratively toward that goal.”

The updated design will look similar to Sharks fans, but bolsters messaging and marketplace options. The notification preferences run deeper to feature a common inbox for push notifications across all four properties. Sharks fans can now expect to have access to buy in-game experiences like scoreboard messages or visits from mascot S.J. Sharkie, along with ordering merchandise they can pick up at the Sharks Store. Fans can manage game tickets inside the app too.

The app’s 360-degree module also gets an upgrade, with the augmented reality functionality rolling out in February.

With 200,000 downloads of the Sharks app — about 125,000 have already updated to the new version in the roughly one week since debut — Bentz only expects the engagements to grow, especially with about 200 million people going through the community ice facilities annually. “This is a way to capture that audience,” he said. “We have only scratched the surface of what sponsors can do on the app. The exposure and attention the four-in-one has been getting is bringing awareness.”

The Sharks have intentionally kept the ice facilities’ content side less built out as they want to learn what fans want from the app. The debut version includes the ability to toggle between the three ice locations, facility event schedules, hockey league standings and stats, news alerts and maps. With such a different user profile than those visiting a Sharks game at SAP Center, the Sharks anticipate growing both the functionality and content of the facilities’ section as the organization gets to know the customer.

“We love collaborating with forward-thinking customers like the San Jose Sharks to build an even better guest experience that extends across all of its properties,” said John Paul, VenueNext CEO and founder, who called the app an industry first.

Bentz said that all along the Sharks had a vision of doing something different than already offered by MLB Advance Media’s template, which it had used previously. “Strategically we felt we needed to offer our customers in-arena functionality they wouldn’t normally get from an app dedicated to content,” he says. “They want access to news, stats and standings, but we want to offer a service to manage tickets on the app, order food and beverages, view maps and wayfinding, upgrade seats and enjoy advanced content options like AR. We wanted to offer access to all properties and offer utility in addition to content.”


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Eric Valley Leaves Cirque du Soleil
 
Posted: 24 Jan 2018, 12:00 am

VAlley2022.jpgEric Valley left Cirque du Soleil, where he has worked for 16 years, and has joined as a partner in PYE (Plan Your Event), a startup based in Montreal.

Valley, seen at INTIX Jan. 22-26 in Baltimore, said PYE was founded by CEO Dominic Chartrand, who also founded VenueParking. “This is the next level,” Valley said.

PYE's venue clients place a URL on the confirmation page of a ticket sold. Customers click on the URL to plan the rest of their night, including hotels, restaurants, parking and merchandise. The venue gets a percentage of the money paid to PYE by the retailers who benefit from the bookings. Clients to date include some Montreal theaters.

As to his decision to leave Cirque, Valley said it was just time to do something else. He was director of ticket sales when he left two weeks ago. His responsibilities there — including Big Top and arena show tickets, revenue optimization, dynamic pricing and the gift card program — have been divided among three employees,

Valley spent a lot of time in the past year opening Cirque’s Big Top in China. “There are so many opportunities at Cirque,” he said. During his more than 16 years there he saw the show expand into 12-plus countries. “I met my wife on tour,” he said. “I’m going away happy and on good terms.”

Cirque now has 11 simultaneous tours performing 3,300 ticketed events a year. The organization has sold about 4.5 million tickets a year, with 32 million to 35 million tickets sold over the past seven years. Now there are even more tours with the acquisition of Blue Man Group, Valley noted.

And while booking China was complicated by lots of regulations, which change by city, and major cultural differences, it has happened and is showing potential. Hiring Cheryl Zhao, whom Valley met when she was working for AEG, made a big difference, he added. The Big Top opened in China for the first time in September.

Three years ago, Cirque sold. The new owners inspired Valley to stay on board because they were aggressively growing the brand. But it was time to move on and try something new, he said, declaring that despite appearances, he’s going to lay low for a few months and plan his future.


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Puerto Rico: Open For Business
 
Posted: 23 Jan 2018, 11:00 pm

Delighted fans packed the house when San Juan, Puerto Rico's José Miguel Agrelot Coliseum reopened following Hurricane Maria.

PRCC_Pictures_013.jpgSan Juan, Puerto Rico's Dr. Pedro Rosselló Convention Center is open for business and eager to reignite tourism.

With the reopening of its two premier facilities, Puerto Rico is back in the venue business four months after Hurricanes Maria and Irma ravaged the island in late September.

Both Dr. Pedro Rosselló Convention Center and José Miguel Agrelot Coliseum in San Juan were able to withstand the Category 5 hurricanes but have been closed to the public and used as response centers since the devastation.

20170912_151607.jpgSan Juan, Puerto Rico's coliseum became a shelter for thousands after Hurricane Maria slammed the island.

The coliseum was used as a shelter and as a donation center. The convention center was used as the emergency command center for the state and federal governments.

“There were many agencies involved in getting Puerto Rico back on its feet,” said Omar Marrero, executive director of the Puerto Rico Convention Center District Authority. “The venues were a logical place to house hurricane victims and also to coordinate the response to the hurricane."

The venues reopened for their intended use in early January. “The great news is that both the facilities are now fully operational,” Marrero said. “There were some minor repairs that were necessary, but we got the buildings open in record time.”

20170916_094324.jpgSan Juan, Puerto Rico's coliseum turned into the city's largest donation center post-Hurricane Maria.

The economic loss to the San Juan venues because of the hurricane damage was not significant because FEMA paid to set up shop in the sites. The economic loss to the island, however, was in the billions. Tourism dropped to unheard-of lows, hotel bookings plummeted, restaurants seats went unfilled and merchandise stayed on shelves.

“Our location has made getting help more difficult than in other hurricane-hit states,” he said. “Everything has to come in by air or sea. It takes time.”

A rapid reconstruction process was put in place for the most heavily visited parts of the island to recapture the foreign trade, soon aided by San Juan Gov. Ricardo Rosselló signing off on a bill that created a new destination marketing organization to promote tourism and meetings on the island. Funded with $25 million a year, the new entity is slated to be in place by July.

“We opened our ports within two weeks and started receiving cruise ships,” Marrero said. “We had the same ambitious schedule to reopen the venues once the governmental bodies left residence. We met the challenge and the venues opened just days after.”

Marrero said that there were “just a handful of cancellations” due to the floods and that many events chose to reschedule.

Convention business is already picking up with its first post-disaster event, Corporate Housing Providers Association Marketplace, set to hold its conference at the end of this month. “This is one of the largest events of the CHPA and regional tourism market and will bring together vendors, industry leaders, and we’re more than eager to convey to the market that we are open for business and ready, willing and able to resume our schedule,” he said.

The coliseum also opened in January with a concert by local artists. Up to 60
events are scheduled this year.

Although 68 percent of the island has had electricity restored since Maria stormed through, the news reports around the world have showed picture after picture of the devastation. The island’s economy depends on tourism; having tourists stay away for an indefinite period of time was not an option.

With that in mind, Meet Puerto Rico, the current destination marketing organization responsible for attracting meetings, conventions, trade shows, sporting events and incentive groups to Puerto Rico, launched the new message “Experience Puerto Rico.” 

To jumpstart the new campaign, a promotion has been put in place that will reward meeting organizers and incentivize industry planners for booking groups at select participating hotels and resorts with “a culinary or cultural entertainment experience.”

With that in mind, Meet Puerto Rico (MPR), the current destination marketing organization responsible for attracting meetings, conventions, trade shows, sporting events and incentive groups to Puerto Rico, launched the new message, “Experience Puerto Rico.” 

To jumpstart the new campaign, a promotion has been put in place that will reward meeting organizers and incentive industry planners for booking groups at select participating hotels and resorts with “a culinary or cultural entertainment experience.”

“An estimated 57,743 room nights were lost with an economic impact of $50 billion,” said Alma Pedrosa, acting president and CEO of Meet Puerto Rico. “The good news is that currently 92 percent of people have back their drinking water and power has been restored to 68 percent of the island’s population."

In San Juan, the majority of the hotels (about 122), 4,000 restaurants, resort areas, about 107 attractions and tourist services are already open, Pedrosa said.

She’s also looking forward to the next stage, relaunching Puerto Rico as a prized convention destination.

“We are moving into a new phase with amazing opportunities for our clients and we are excited to have them rediscover Puerto Rico,” Pedrosa said. “As you know, Puerto Rico has always been one of the most desired meeting and convention destinations, and we intend to continue the same tradition.”

Pedrosa is looking forward to CHPA, which will be followed by Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) in March.

“Many of our clients have rebooked for 2018 and beyond,” she said. “We are maintaining a complete presence in our social media channels. In April we will host the Rediscover Puerto Rico Destination Review bringing 25 meeting planners plus press to Puerto Rico.”

 


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Federal Way Hybrid A Success
 
Posted: 23 Jan 2018, 3:00 pm

Federal Way (Wash.) Performing Arts and Event Center opened in September.
 

Federal Way (Wash.) Performing Arts and Event Center is a rare hybrid of theatrical space and meeting space. Opened in September 2017, the 44,000-square-foot, $32.7 million project is a successful example of how suburban communities are increasingly investing in creating multipurpose arts and community event facilities.

Getting the project off the ground took nearly 10 years, according to Executive Director Theresa Yvonne, who came on board in 2015.

On the PAC side, seating is 716. The 8,000-square-foot event space can hold up to 750 people.  Funding was provided by the city and the state, with about $1 million coming from private donations.

The idea of building a hybrid venue came about after the city of about 100,000, situated between Seattle and Tacoma, looked at the cost of building two venues.

"Building a PAC would have taken $30 [million] to $40 million and building an event center would have taken $30 [million] to $40 million, which was prohibitive for a city of this size," Yvonne said. "We didn't need 1,500 seats in the theater and we didn't need meeting space for thousands of attendees. The hybrid facility accommodates both sides very well."

"The hybrid model also works well from a budgetary/operational standpoint because the event side will make money while, traditionally, PAC's don't often run in the black," she explained. "Combining the two helps balance the scales."

Wendy Pautz, design partner at LMN, who designed the facility, described the challenges of building a hybrid venue. "While the auditorium space was the focus, it was intended to accommodate a wide variety of community events," she said. "We were looking to create a space that would be flexible most of all."

"In the design, I looked at having the meeting space flank the performance space and also be divisible for multi-sizes of events," Pautz said. "The lobby was the key to making both spaces flow together."

The project is the second phase of a city enhancement project. Phase one was a renovation of Town Square Park, which is adjacent to the new venue. "With the venue having an overview of the park, and connecting to it, I also had to be aware of the flow from the park to the facility in the design," Pautz said.

Pautz is particularly proud of the wood screen design she created for the PAC interior. "I used a unique wood interior that utilizes a pattern of perforations that create a screen element that respond to the acoustical requirements of the space," she said. "The wood screening surrounds the auditorium and creates a great way to enter the auditorium as well."

The wood screen is suspended with a cable system. "Not only is the design economical, it also creates a very inviting, warm space," she said.

The building's glass exterior is also something Pautz thinks is part of the appeal of her design. "The venue not only looks over the park; it also looks over the downtown core. Being see-through all the way around at night, with all the lights on, the building becomes a beacon for the community and draws people toward it."

The PAC opened with a performance of the Beatles tribute show "Rain." There are six venue residents: the symphony, the youth symphony, Harmony Kings, Jet Cities Chorus, Tacoma City Ballet, and the Chorale. Future events will include Ten Tenors, Roseanne Cash, Elevenplay and Branford Marsalis. Ticket range is $19-$103.

The events center has already held business meetings, several banquets and a New Year's Eve dance. The event space can be divided into three spaces.

Federal Way PAEC also has a full kitchen, which Yvonne sees as a huge plus. "I don't care who the chef is. When you put food in a van and drive it down the road, it doesn't taste the same," she said. SMG's Savor is the concessionaire. There is a full bar, and food and beverage is available at all PAEC events. An app that allows guests to preorder is on the way.

"The great thing about having both a theater space and an event space is that we can have a dinner and then move into a show," she said. "You couldn't do that in a traditional PAC."

Yvonne was especially pleased with the progress the new facility made in December. "From Dec. 1 to Dec. 23 we either had an event or a performance and we worked a full 23 days straight," she said. "Including our biggest show so far: six performances of "The Nutcracker. We couldn't have been happier. It was a perfect way to close to the year. If December is a barometer of what's to come, we're going to be very busy."

Pautz said, "There was a strong vision and need for this project.

"Having a shared vision and pushing along in the same direction moved the project along smoothly and efficiently."


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Upgrade Part Of $135M Project
 
Posted: 23 Jan 2018, 2:05 pm

Apartments, retail, restaurants and office space are planned around the theater. (Greenwood Development)

The Wellmont Theater, nearly a century old, is going through a major redevelopment, with upgrades designed to improve the event-day experience for both the acts and attendees, the theater's ownership group says.

The 2,500-capacity venue in downtown Montclair, N.J., is co-owned by Pinnacle Cos., Brookfield Properties and Greenwood Development, three real estate firms. Together, they’re investing $135 million to develop a mixed-use district tied to the theater.

A key piece of the project involves construction of a parking garage next to the club to park tour buses and provide direct access backstage for the artists. Currently, the acts unload equipment at the facility’s front door and the performers must walk through the public to get into the building.

The garage will make available 250 spaces for ticket holders, said David Genova, a principal with Greenwood Development. Parking now is restricted to neighborhood streets and some nearby municipal lots.

The mixed-use piece encompasses 3.5 acres that will include 200 apartments, retail, restaurants and office space. The concept includes converting the street fronting the theater to a plaza featuring live entertainment, vendors and concessions, similar to the Highline in New York, Genova said. The idea is to create activity on the plaza on event days and when the theater is dark, he said.

Construction is expected to start in mid-May and take up to three years to complete, officials said. The venue will remain open and has shows booked into June.

“We’re creating sort of a mini-campus with year-round programming,” said Anthony Morrison, hired about a month ago as the Wellmont’s general manager. “I’m trying to help get this place to the next level.”

Morrison spent 12 years in facility operations with the Philadelphia Phillies, which included producing concerts at Citizens Bank Park. He also worked for CID Entertainment and most recently the Prince Theater, a performing arts center in Philly.

In New Jersey, the Wellmont’s owners have spent $2 million alone to repair the ceiling and install sound and lighting upgrades after acquiring the theater in 2015.

Separately, ownership spent $1 million to build a new full-service restaurant next door where patrons can have dinner before the show and the theater can schedule meet-and-greet sessions with artists. The Pharmacie Liquor Bar, the name of the restaurant, opened last week with seating for 100, Genova said.

The Wellmont Theater dates to 1922, when it opened as a vaudeville house in Montclair, which sits about 12 miles west of Manhattan. Over the next decade, it became a movie theater and stayed under that format until Greenwood Development initially purchased the venue in 2006 and turned into a concert facility. Greenwood then sold the building before re-acquiring it in 2015. Live Nation has an exclusive deal to book events.

The Wellmont’s competitors include Starland Ballroom, run by AEG Presents/Bowery Presents and situated in Sayreville, about 30 miles south of Montclair. The Starland ranked No. 11 on Pollstar's list of Top 200 club venues ranked by ticket sales for 2017.

Greenwood principals feel the mixed-use project will help the Wellmont keep up with all the competition. Montclair, a city of about 40,000 residents, already has a busy downtown district with multiple restaurants, a jazz club and an art museum. Late night television personality Stephen Colbert, cosmetics queen Bobbi Brown both live in Montclair, as does “half the New York Times' edit staff” Genova said.

“Vogue magazine described Montclair as the ‘new Brooklyn,’” he said. “The Wellmont is a big driver of all the activity and the largest generator of people in the downtown area.” 


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HOT TICKETS FOR JANUARY 17, 2018
 
Posted: 17 Jan 2018, 9:00 pm

Cirque Dreams "Holidaze" played at Broward Center for the Performing Arts, Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.

Our new Hot Tickets reports list the busiest buildings out there based on attendance.

Cirque Dreams: "Holidaze" kept spirits bright and ticket sales brisk on its 10th anniversary national tour during eight shows at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., at the end of the year. Attendance was 9,935 and gross sales came in at $574,247.

The holidays were a hit in Detroit as well, where Elf – The Musical pulled in 25,477 people over eight shows at the Fox Theatre, generating gross sales of $1,217,107.

HOT TICKETS is a weekly summary of the top events and ticket sales as reported to VenuePulse via Pollstar. Following are the top 20 concerts and events, the top 5 in each attendance category, which took place between Dec. 11-Jan. 10.

15,001 or More Attendance

10,001-15,000 Attendance

5,001-10,000 Attendance

5,000 or Fewer Attendance

1) Freek Vonk
Gross Sales: $1,297,541; Venue: AFAS Live, Amsterdam; Attendance: 32,144; Ticket Range: $34; Promoter: Agents After All: Dec. 27-29; No. of Shows: 9

2) Disney On Ice
Gross Sales: $978,407; Venue: Long Beach (Calif.) Arena; Attendance: 32,078; Ticket Range: $80-$15; Promoter: Feld Entertainment; Dates: Dec. 27-Jan. 1; No. of Shows: 8

3) Elf – The Musical
Gross Sales: $1,217,107; Venue: Fox Theatre, Detroit; Attendance: 25,477; Ticket Range: $71.50-$31.50; Promoter: MagicSpace Entertainment; Dates: Dec. 20-24; No. of Shows: 8

4) Trans-Siberian Orchestra
Gross Sales: $1,435,590; Venue: Toyota Center, Houston; Attendance: 21,216; Ticket Range: $77.50-$48.50; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Dec. 21; No. of Shows: 2

5) Bassnectar
Gross Sales: $2,060,177; Venue: Georgia World Congress Center, Atlanta; Attendance: 21,064; Ticket Range: $235-$89.99; Promoter: Marchone Music; Dates: Dec. 31; No. of Shows: 1

1) Paw Patrol Live!
Gross Sales: $456,532; Venue: Place Bell, Laval Quebec; Attendance: 13,985; Ticket Range: $89.50-$19.50; Promoter: Evenko; Dates: Jan. 4-5; No. of Shows: 5

2) Widespread Panic
Gross Sales: $1,322,855; Venue: Fox Theatre, Atlanta; Attendance: 13,613; Ticket Range: $141.50-$71.50; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Dec. 29-31; No. of Shows: 3

3) Avenged Sevenfold
Gross Sales: $667,985; Venue: Bridgestone Arena, Nashville, Tenn.; Attendance: 13,515; Ticket Range: $75-$25; Promoter: CMoore Live, NS2, Frank Productions, FPC Live; Dates: Jan. 12; No. of Shows: 1

4) Soy Luna Live
Gross Sales: $853,977; Venue: Palau Sant Jordi, Barcelona, Spain; Attendance: 13,094; Ticket Range: $200-$30; Promoter: DG Entertainment ; Dates: Jan. 5; No. of Shows: 1

5) Xscape
Gross Sales: $787,272; Venue: Oracle Arena, Oakland, Calif.; Attendance: 11,757; Ticket Range: $95.24-$52.38; Promoter: AEG Presents, Concerts West, Goldenvoice; Dates: Jan. 5; No. of Shows: 1

1) Cirque Dreams “Holidaze”
Gross Sales: $574,247; Venue: Broward Center for the Performing Arts, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; Attendance: 9,935; Ticket Range: $69.50-$29.50; Promoter: In-house; Dates: Dec. 26-30; No. of Shows: 8

2) Andre Rieu
Gross Sales: $962,378; Venue: Genting Arena, Birmingham, England; Attendance: 9,670; Ticket Range: $99-$45; Promoter: Andre Rieu Productions; Dates: Dec. 21; No. of Shows: 1

3) Andre Rieu
Gross Sales: $1,009,236; Venue: The SSE Arena, London; Attendance: 9,548; Ticket Range: $99-$45; Promoter: Andre Rieu Productions; Dates: Dec. 22; No. of Shows: 1

4) Kevin Hart
Gross Sales: $1,049,010; Venue: Mohegan Sun Arena, Uncasville, Conn.; Attendance: 9,340; Ticket Range: $159-$79; Promoter: In-house; Dates: Dec. 30; No. of Shows: 1

5) Riverdance
Gross Sales: $634,672; Venue: Broward Center for the Performing Arts, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; Attendance: 8,701; Ticket Range: $80.25-$35.25; Promoter: Broward County Cultural Division, Broadway Across America; Dates: Jan. 5-7; No. of Shows: 5

1) Mannheim Steamroller
Gross Sales: $230,975; Venue: Velma V. Morrison Center For The Performing Arts, Boise, Idaho; Attendance: 3,846; Ticket Range: $79.50-$44.50; Promoter: MagicSpace Entertainment; Dates: Dec. 21; No. of Shows: 2

2) Straight No Chaser
Gross Sales: $200,343; Venue: Hershey (Pa.) Theatre; Attendance: 3,835; Ticket Range: $56.65-$26.65; Promoter: Hershey Entertainment, Live Nation; Dates: Dec. 23; No. of Shows: 2

3) San Antonio Symphony Orchestra
Gross Sales: $119,934; Venue: H-E-B Performance Hall at The Tobin Center, San Antonio; Attendance: 3,485; Ticket Range: $81-$18; Promoter: San Antonio Symphony; Dates: Jan. 12-14; No. of Shows: 3

4) San Antonio Symphony Orchestra
Gross Sales: $101,731; Venue: H-E-B Performance Hall at The Tobin Center, San Antonio; Attendance: 2,599; Ticket Range: $81-$18; Promoter: San Antonio Symphony; Dates: Jan. 6-7; No. of Shows: 2

5) Paul Anka
Gross Sales: $219,750; Venue: McCallum Theatre, Palm Desert, Calif.; Attendance: 2,158; Ticket Range: $135-$65; Promoter: In-house; Dates: Jan. 12-13; No. of Shows: 2

The Weekly Hot Tickets chart is compiled by Brad Rogers, brad@pollstar.com. To submit reports, e-mail Brad@pollstar.com or submit to (714) 378-0040.

 


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Panasonic Unveils 2025 Venue Solutions
 
Posted: 17 Jan 2018, 7:00 pm

Panasonic used Florida State's Doak Campbell Stadium as part of its CES presentation.

(Editor's Note: This story first appeared in SportTechie.com.)

Panasonic unveiled at last week’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas its vision for smart venue solutions in sports that are expected for 2025-30, and the fan experience in a future stadium looks fantastic.

According to the company, the easy entry into the stadium, immersive entertainment, and everything that’s delivered to your seat — from content to the souvenirs via drone — will create a “richer user experience” at a venue like Florida State’s Doak Campbell Stadium.

How realistic is all this? It’s not as far away as you might think. Here are four of features in a future sports venue that Panasonic envisions and some of the companies and teams already looking to make it happen.

Facial Recognition Technology

There will be paperless entry to venues as more leagues and events move toward mobile ticketing. Panasonic foresees these gates also being unmanned  because face recognition technology will be used to authenticate identity using high-resolution, wide-angle cameras.

Already, Panasonic has been involved in at least one face matching pilot to optimize safety for FC Groningen in the Netherlands. Four HD security cameras with facial recognition software at the turnstiles match images with those in a database of people who are banned from the stadium.

The LPGA in March tested the use of NEC’s facial recognition for enabling media members and those with credentials to gain entry into secured environments at a major championship.

Augmented Reality

The expectation from Panasonic is that the form factor of AR devices will ultimately change to resemble a pair of glasses, making them more popular among consumers.

That would open up numerous possibilities for using augmented reality to entertain fans. Special AR performances before kickoff and during halftime that us the actual football field as a canvas could be used to fire up the crowd. Augmented reality content for the phone could allow fans to take selfies with players anywhere in the stadium. And last year, Panasonic showed how its AR projection could be used to transform the windows of a luxury suite into yet another screen for fans to experience interactive content.

Augmented reality is progressing to the point where it’s being incorporated more in live sports. Major League Baseball will enable fans at the stadium this season to hold up an Apple mobile device to get more information on players and situations in augmented reality.

FC Bayern Munich has itself used ARKit to enable fans to take photos with augmented reality players while also using Canadian company ARHT (Augmented Reality Holographic Telepresence) to delivered a live news conference using holograms of coaches.

Drone Delivery

In Panasonic’s vision, not only can a smart guide system analyze your ticket information and know to suggest your favorite foods, but once you’ve ordered souvenirs, they can be delivered to your seat by a drone that knows your location.

While the FAA along with leagues and teams wary of malicious drones will have something to say about this, could attitudes change in the future? Food deliveries by drones aren’t new, and there are signs that drone deliveries could happen. In fact, drone deliveries are expected to be part of the tech innovation for fans in Pyeongchang next month.

In Argentina, one soccer team even had its own drone flying around in-stadium before it was brought down by a fan who threw a roll of cash register paper. So while this vision could be achieved, there are plenty of downsides.

Personalized Instant Replay

Panasonic can see fans having an interactive system that allows them to replay the action from different angles of any play that has just finished, and it’s easy to see why, because the company has already tested the use of VOGO Sport in golf and soccer. The French startup enables replays in real-time as fans in the venue are able to control the camera angle.

Another company to watch in this space is Kiswe, which has enabled the Monumental Sports Network to test ways in which it can engage fans with multi-angle streaming and replays.


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Prudential Center Debuts Primepoint Lounge
 
Posted: 17 Jan 2018, 5:00 pm

Prudential Center, Newark, N.J., has developed a new premium hospitality space. The Primepoint Lounge, named for the New Jersey Devils’ payroll processing firm, is tied to a 2,600-sq.-ft. room on the second suite level at the Newark arena.

The lounge is a retrofit of an old storage space along an outer wall and does not have views to the event floor. It features two 85-inch televisions and nine smaller screens, plus furniture and a portable bar. The room can fit up to 150 people, said officials from Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment, the Devils’ parent company.

The lounge has the flexibility to be used for games, packaging tickets with food and drink for groups, and has the technology in place for corporate functions on non-game days, team President Hugh Weber said.

Primepoint, whose headquarters are in Mount Holly, N.J., signed a multiyear deal with the Devils to sponsor the lounge. Weber would not discuss specific terms or construction costs.

As part of the agreement, Primepoint has committed to donating $25 for every assist by a Devils player, up to $10,000, to support local children with disabilities. Those efforts will be displayed on the arena’s center-hung and other digital boards, as well as the Devils’ social media platforms.

The official ribbon cutting for the lounge is scheduled for Jan. 18.

Prudential Center has also unvieled a new website Jan. 9. Enhancements incude visitor wayfinding and concession guides; amplified musician content featuring Spotify and original galleries; and a new content managemet system that will allow fans to pursue a faster, smarter and personalized experience. 

 

 

 


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Fall of roof won't stop Merriweather Post
 
Posted: 17 Jan 2018, 3:00 pm

The aftermath of Merriweather Post Pavilion's roof collapse is seen in a photo provided by I.M.P.

Merriweather Post Pavilion’s recent construction accident won’t slow the venue down or change its seasonal lineup, according to venue officials.

The pavilion, in Columbia, Md., has over the last three years moved 569,733 tickets and grossed $33,478,109 in sales. But beyond being busy, the venue, which opened in 1967, is one of the nation's premier historic amphitheaters.

The 19,316-capacity outdoor amphitheater's roof, designed by renowned architect Frank Gehry, was being raised as part of a five-year, $55-million renovation project when it collapsed Jan. 13.

Venue officials and I.M.P., the amphitheater’s promoter, are looking on the bright side.

“Thankfully no one was injured, which is the most important thing of all,” said I.M.P.’s Seth Hurwitz, who operates the venue. “The roof was being hydraulically lifted 20 feet over a period of months. … The roof was in its near-final position and the next anticipated step was to secure it permanently. However, at around 2:30 Saturday morning, the roof unexpectedly fell. There is a team of experts assessing why the roof fell. Of course we will rebuild — and the 2018 season will start as planned.”

Hurwitz also said that it’s easier to build new than to renovate.

"It looks like there's enough wood left from the original Gehry roof to make the iconic façade salvageable,” he said. “Various things had already been done to the structure before, but the original Gehry shape will be rebuilt and recovered with the original wood. But right now, it's shot and needs to be rebuilt.”

The cause of the collapse is under investigation, according to the Downtown Columbia Arts and Culture Commission, which owns the property.

Hurwitz, who also runs Washington, D.C.'s 9:30 Club, The Lincoln Theatre and the newly opened Anthem, was ultimately philosophical about the roof's collapse. "It's one of life's fascinating twists and turns, but it's nothing we can't deal with," he said. "Nothing else was harmed.

"It's an inconvenience — not a small inconvenience, but it sets us back in that I'd rather spend that time working on other things at the venue. There's no question it sucks. But the important thing is that nobody was hurt, and that’s not the usual mandatory statement. It’s really all that matters. Everything else is just construction.”

I.M.P. has not yet announced a summer schedule, and the only concert on its calendar is a July 14 show with Sugarland, Brandy Clark and Clare Bowen.

Merriweather Post Pavilion celebrated its 50th anniversary last summer, opening a new backstage village including a pool and artists lounge area, as well as a massive new stagehouse, as a second phase of the renovations. The Chrysalis, a 7,000-capacity facility, also opened last summer on the adjacent Symphony Woods property.

The venue and I.M.P. staff celebrated the anniversary with a birthday party and concert featuring Jackson Browne, Willie Nelson, Father John Misty and Grace Potter.


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Q&A: Englerth Even Floats the Red Carpet
 
Posted: 17 Jan 2018, 3:00 pm

Ford Englerth Talks Live Nation Redrock Entertainment Services

From red carpets "floating" on the Chicago River to IMAX theaters housed in iconic opera houses, creating a one-of-a-kind event or tour concept is second nature to Live Nation's newest divison, Redrock Entertainment Services.

Live Nation has tapped veteran event producer Ford Englerth to head up its new specialized event production company, Redrock Entertainment Services. The production veteran who has worked as the director of production for the Southern California market for Live Nation for 23 years will run Redrock out of offices based in Burbank, Calif., with a focus on producing large-scale live events, including festivals, and specialized projects including corporate productions and collaborations with Hollywood movie studios.

Englerth told VenuesNow that Redrock has actually been up and running under the LN umbrella for nearly a year, but that he wanted to get his team coordinated before this week’s official announcement. He has been involved with Redrock since 2002 when it was primarily a film and TV management and development firm

Englerth will serve as president of Redrock, which has already produced major projects in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Miami, Las Vegas and Chicago over the past six months and has dozens more in the works for 2018. VenuesNow spoke to Englerth about his production philosophy and Redrock’s unique market proposition.

Can you give me some examples of the events we can expect from Redrock?

The things that stand out is our work with some of the movie studios, in particular Paramount Pictures. A few years back Paramount started to gravitate to fan-centric events to promote large tentpole summer movies. They approached me through a common relationship about how to facilitate some events that were complex due to the location and/or the community and asked if I was able to give them ideas for something that married a traditional movie premiere with an integrated concert that crossed over into the soundtrack for the movie. I saw great fan connection with the film property and our ability to execute and implement events. We were able to expand the event because of Live Nation’s global reach with offices around the planet that are able to develop relationships where if the local Paramount team had a crazy idea for a premiere or film launch we could get with a team they know and brainstorm an idea for what that event might be. Live Nation has the ability to take their portfolio and work with local resources and talent to implement some pretty amazing events. From the movie studio perspective, we’ve done projects in Hong Kong, Austria, London and South America. A lot of times, we work in locations that have never held an event or in an iconic spot the studio is using to convey something about the film.

What do those events look like?

Any of the “Transformers” films over the past 10 years… we’ve handled the concept production and implementation of the launch of those movies. The last one was in Chicago where we created a 300-foot floating red carpet on the Chicago River. For the previous “Transformers” movie in Hong Kong we did it on a specialized site that was associated with the Hong Kong government and, at that point, we implemented something that hadn’t occurred before: the installation of a temporary IMAX experience in a non-traditional venue and an outdoor concert with Imagine Dragons with a fireworks display across the whole city. We also did the last several “Mission Impossible” movie premieres, including the last one in Vienna, Austria. We took over the Vienna state opera building and built this fantastic facade and two-story red carpet. We worked with the local government to shut down the main thoroughfare to facilitate the event and broadcast the red carpet globally for Paramount and had a similar IMAX installation in the Vienna Opera House.

So will you focus on just those kinds of large-scale events at Redrock or will there be a range?

We’re doing a number of things currently that are part of the LN core business. We still look after some significant touring projects LN has deemed necessary for us to look after on the stadium front, some festival ideas, some traditional festival concept ideas and some additional movie premieres for 2018, both domestically and internationally. We also have some specialty ideas. One of the things that I think is often discussed when Live Nation is working with an artist is other ideas or concepts for how to promote themselves or their music and create new and interesting performance outlets for them other than the standard arena or amphitheater tour.

What is your approach to special event production?

Because of my history and the amount of time we’ve been working together, the team I’ve assembled are people that have very similar experience to me. Many of us have been working together for 10-15-plus years, so we have not just the confidence among ourselves but, also, the affiliation and close working environment within Live Nation all this time to develop what would be considered unique or rare or crazy ideas. And we have the ability to go out and execute those ideas and leverage the resources that are out there that play to our various strengths. Whether it’s a local production or working with local political contacts to create a win-win environment [for a project]… for a lot of these projects we’re creating great opportunities for local municipalities to showcase their cities. That’s a key to what we’ve done with projects that serve the client but have great importance and good will as well.

Can you talk about some of the initiatives that you’ve spearheaded for LN in the past that have set you up to succeed with Redrock?

My responsibilities were to oversee all the LN core business, producing for everything from clubs and theaters to stadiums and arenas and ultimately festivals. What we started to develop in the last 10 or so years was the ability to be resourceful in a company within a region on projects that were not part of our core business. There are other companies that attempt to do live events that would in some instances integrate music but they didn’t have the expertise or resources Live Nation has. In the last 10 years of developing those projects it ultimately got to the point where Bob Roux and Michael Rapino realized they had an opportunity to expand those resources and leverage the production talent that exists and make that available to non-traditional concert clients, the corporate world, the movie studio world… anybody out there looking to facilitate quality, well-produced safe events.

It sounds like this division has been up and running for a while, right?

We had a transition period last year. It was important to me that we didn’t miss a step as I transitioned into this new role and got this new division up and running. We had a number of projects in the pipeline and we’re always talking to clients and divisions in Live Nation about projects we’re trying to execute. We had a run-up period throughout 2017 and we kind of got all the formalities in place as we came out of the year. We wanted to start 2018 with the announcement to let everyone know we’re officially here and open for business.

What is your staff like?

We’ve got 12 full-time employees who I call the special forces A-team, who all have their areas of speciality but are all versed in other competencies. We have a core team that can go through concept design, development and execution. Based on the event our staff will expand and contract as needed. In some instances the core team in our office can handle signifiant projects, but that sometimes expands to 20-30 people and to several hundred depending on project.

What’s the range of their backgrounds?

It’s a mix but their core commonalities are that they come from a music perspective. A couple are great production managers and project coordinators who have experience with multiact, multiday radio shows. We also have somebody who spent a lot of time in the nonprofit world and has a real specialty in hospitality-type events. We have another person who specializes in front-of-house operations and VIP coordination and VIP amenity execution. We have a full design team [versed in] AutoCAD, Vectorworks and 3D modeling.

How many events do you plan to do per year?

This team alone has managed well over 100 events per year, but that’s not really our goal going forward. Our goal is to be selective and to find projects and events that we feel are challenging to us and have the ability to cross over and grow. We want to develop ideas and projects that have more than one singular purpose and allow for the community to be involved or the city to participate and create an experience in a location.

What is the cost range for these special projects?

I always say we want to entertain any meaningful project no matter what the budget, from sub $100,000 to many I’ve described that are in the $8-$10 million range.

It sounds like you’re not just concert and event producers, but also fixers and community engagement specialists. Is that accurate?

For sure, that’s a great summation of what we do. Our ability to anticipate and demonstrate an understanding of things that will be important to a local community as well as the project client trying to produce the event is crucial. The concept is consolidating all this into what is now Redrock Entertainment Services without creating any confusion about what Live Nation is as a concert promoter and have that entity cross those lines and do multiple things.


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Premium sales strong at L.A. Coliseum
 
Posted: 17 Jan 2018, 12:00 pm

The appetite for a high-end game-day experience at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum has resonated with the University of Southern California’s biggest donors. As university officials prepare to kick off construction of the stadium’s $270 million renovation, they’re close to a sellout of new premium seat inventory that will open for the 2019 season.

As of this week, Legends Global Sales, the Pac-12 Conference school’s sales agency, has one Founders Suite and fewer than 100 club seats remaining to sell for the Scholarship Club Tower, said Steve Lopes, USC’s senior associate athletic director. The seven-story tower is going up on the stadium’s south side.

Until this project, designed by DLR Group, the venerable coliseum has gone for decades without a major retrofit. The stadium opened in 1923, and the seating bowl has gone largely untouched since that time, with the exception of some repairs and upgrades after a 1994 earthquake. Now, almost five years after USC took over stadium operations upon signing a 99-year lease with the Los Angeles Coliseum Commission, the school is getting the building up to speed with other college football facilities.

“This project has been a long time coming,” Lopes said. “To this point, there has been no [permanent] premium product at the coliseum. It’s paying for the majority of the project cost, almost $200 million.”

The changes will reduce the stadium’s seated capacity from 92,000 to about 77,500.

The 20 Founders Suites, distributed between two levels above the lower concourse, are the highest-priced inventory. They’re all seven-figure deals tied to 20-year terms. Some cost $10 million. The last one available is priced at $7.5 million, Lopes said. The 24-seat suites are the tower’s only all-inclusive product, covering food and drink and parking.

The 22 traditional suites, situated on the sixth floor, one level below the new press box, have sold out. Buyers made a one-time capital payment of $300,000 to $500,000 and pay an annual fee of $100,000.

The 24 loge boxes sold out as well. They’re mostly four-seaters, one level above the Founders Suites. Loges carry a one-time payment of $200,000 to $250,000, plus annual costs of $50,000.

The 1,100 club seats, on the fifth level, have one-time payments of $25,000 and annual costs of $30,000 to $50,000.

The rooftop terrace at the top of the tower stands out for its location and flexibility. There are no fixed seats. Instead, it’s a combination of bar stools, drink rails and shaded areas with views to the game. The terrace can accommodate 500 people, but to this point, season ticket prices have not been determined, Lopes said.

The concept is similar to the rooftop space at Levi’s Stadium, according to Don Barnum, a principal with DLR Group and its global sports leader. At the coliseum, the idea is to create a casual lounge setting. The vision is to develop a downtown LA club vibe for the younger crowd, which is more interested in socializing than watching the game, Barnum said.

The 360-degree views are spectacular from the rooftop, extending to downtown Los Angeles as well as the Pacific Ocean, Catalina Island and the San Gabriel Mountains, said Joe Furin, the coliseum’s general manager.

“It’s one of the best kept secrets,” Furin said. “It’s a stunning view from that height.”

USC has scheduled a ceremonial groundbreaking for Jan. 29 at the coliseum during which 100 to 150 donors are expected to attend, as well as Los Angeles Rams executives, Furin said. The Rams play the next two years at the stadium before moving to their new $2.6 billion facility in Inglewood, meaning the Rams will play one season in the coliseum after the premium additions are complete.

The project is to be built within a tight 18-month construction schedule. During football season, crews will work Monday through Friday and stop on the weekends for Trojans and Rams games. About one-third of the stadium will be closed to the public during construction, Furin said.


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Construction Beginning On Greensboro PAC
 
Posted: 17 Jan 2018, 9:00 am

Rendering of the $85 million Steven Tanger Center for the Performing Arts, Greensboro, N.C., which will debut in 2020.

The performing arts center under construction in Greensboro, N.C. should help restore the city's reputation as a consistent provider of Broadway shows and strengthen its overall roster of entertainment venues, project officials say.

The $85 million Steven Tanger Center for the Performing Arts is scheduled to open downtown in January 2020. Construction starts this month on the 3,000-seat venue after initial excavation, grading and utility work was completed in December.

The new building will play host to theatrical productions, concerts, Guilford College's lecture series and the Greensboro Symphony Orchestra, said Scott Johnson, deputy director of the Greensboro Coliseum Complex.  Officials expect to book 140 events a year at the performing arts center.

The coliseum complex operates the Tanger Center.

"Where we're building, it has become a niche arts district with a cultural center, library, two parks and other small theaters," Johnson said.

The center is named for Steven Tanger, president of Tanger Outlets, a company with 43 outlet malls across North America and whose headquarters are in Greensboro. Tanger supplied the lead gift of $7.5 million, which is part of $40.5 million in private donations helping to fund the project. The balance of construction costs are covered by a $4 facility fee for every event ticket sold, parking revenue and $10 million in hotel taxes, Johnson said.

The center effectively replaces the old War Memorial Auditorium, which for 55 years stood on the coliseum grounds, about three miles southwest of downtown. The 2,456-seat venue was demolished in 2015 to clear space for additional parking for the arena complex.

In the1990s and early 2000s, War Memorial booked a highly successful series of Broadway productions with 6,000 subscribers, Johnson said. The old auditorium produced the first North Carolina run of “Rent,” among other tours, he said.

But the combination of an aging venue and the recession effectively killed War Memorial's business, Johnson said. Over the past 10 years, local voters rejected two bond proposals to spend up to $50 million to renovate the building. Instead, a task force determined the best decision would be to build a new performing arts center, financed through a combination of private and public dollars. Tanger's donation led to more private gifts to help pay the final cost of $84.7 million, an increase over the initial $65 million figure.

The project designers are national firms H3 Hardy Collaboration Architecture and Rosser International, teaming with two local firms. Arup fills the role of theater consultant.

The Tanger Center has signed a ticketing deal with Ticketmaster, and Spectra, the concessionaire for the coliseum complex, will be its food provider. Daktronics is producing the center's video screens.

Johnson said he's in talks with promoter The Nederlander Organization to bring Broadway tours back to Greensboro. The city has missed out on massive hits such as “The Phantom of the Opera,” “Wicked” and “The Book of Mormon,” but that should all change in two years, he said.

There will be competition from the 2,700-seat Durham Performing Arts Center, which opened in 2008 and is situated about an hour's drive east of Greensboro. But Johnson thinks the venues can co-exist, along with other similar venues across the state.

"We're our own market in the Triad, [apart from] Charlotte and Raleigh," Johnson said, referring to the central North Carolina region covering Greensboro, Winston-Salem and High Point. "I think we're all big enough to get these shows [separately]."

The Tanger Center will join the a mix of venues in Greensboro that includes the 21,000-seat coliseum, an aquatic center, the 7,000-capacity White Oak Amphitheatre and The Fieldhouse, home of the NBA G League's Swarm.


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Eric Granger Takes Helm at KFC Yum! Center
 
Posted: 16 Jan 2018, 4:35 pm

EricGranger200x1451.jpg Eric Granger

Eric Granger has taken over GM duties at KFC Yum Center, Louisville, Ky., an AEG Facilities venue, following the abrupt departure of former GM Dennis Petrullo late last year.

Granger comes to AEG Facilities with more than 20 years in the entertainment and sports business. That includes time as VP and GM, FedEx Forum in Memphis, Tenn., home to the National Basketball Association's Grizzlies, as well as GM of Nationwide Arena, Columbus, Ohio, where the National Hockey League’s Blue Jackets play.

Granger will also oversee numerous proprietary initiatives of AEG Facilities, including AEG S.A.F.E., AEG 1Source, AEG 1EARTH, AEG 1Force, AEG Encore and AEG Energy Services, in addition to working closely with AEG Global Partnerships and other divisions of the company.

 

 

 


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Fair Managers Embrace Diversity
 
Posted: 10 Jan 2018, 9:00 pm

Steve Chambers and Sarah Cummings, outgoing and incoming executive director of the Western Fairs Association respectively, welcome Cliff Munson, Siskiyou Golden Fair, Yreka, Calif., as new WFA treasurer. (Photo courtesy of Western Fairs Association)
 

REPORTING FROM ANAHEIM, CALIF. — The Washington State Fair, Puyallup, will debut The Farm Sillyville at its 2018 event. The San Diego County Fair, Del Mar, Calif., themed “How Sweet It Is” this year, is all about candy, having already booked Sugarland for its coming fair, part of an extensive tour the group has announced.

And a prominent number of awards for 2017 achievements at the Western Fairs Association here Jan. 3-6 honored embracing diversity and the new world order.

Dr. Rita Murray gave the keynote address on generational diversity and many took it to heart. When relating to any generation, keep in mind the things that changed in the first 10 years of that generation’s life, which will impact how they react to the world around them, she advised.

Greg Stewart, Central Washington State Fair, Yakima, noted that his perspective on millennials changed after hearing Murray. “[Millennials] have a reluctance to attend meetings. You have to understand and address that issue,” he said.

“They think differently, they’re always on their iPhones,” added Tim Fennell, Del Mar, Calif. “You have to have patience and understanding and help them understand you. It’s a two-way street.”

Kent Hojem, Puyallup, was looking toward the newest generation. His Farm Sillyville, which will probably eventually be open year round, is a takeoff on Little Hands on the Farm, which Cindy Hoye instituted at the Indiana State Fair, Indianapolis. Hojem said it will cost “north of $3 million” to build out. The purpose is to educate the 4- to 8-year-olds on where food comes from, something many are not exposed to today.

Hojem also noted he is looking forward to the future with Sarah Cummings as executive director, a role she assumed from outgoing Executive Director Steve Chambers at the meeting here. “For 30 years, Stephen has been a visionary benefiting California and Western fairs,” Hojem said. “Now I’m looking forward to the next era with Sarah.”

Diversity was the theme of a majority of the Merrill Awards. The San Diego County Fair received one for its New Citizen Inclusion Program, which involved providing welcome packages including fair admission to new U.S. citizens throughout the year. San Diego County brings 1,500-5,000 people into the fold each month. The fair set up a booth at the official swearing-in ceremonies and offered two complimentary fair tickets plus other goodies to new citizens. Of 4,000 who received the package, more than 2,000 redeemed them.

Fennell thanked WFA for its open-mindedness regarding diversity and inclusion and for “awarding us for our crazy idea.”

The New Mexico State Fair, Albuquerque, won a Merrill Award for its Autism Awareness Sensory Station. The fair created a room for families to escape with children with sensory overload. Working with the New Mexico Autism Society, they built out 10 rooms with pipes and maroon drapes and family-time activities.

The Barham Award, named after the founder of Hot Dog On A Stick, Dave Barham, went to WZ Productions LLC, producer of “Out at the Fair,” another diversity program welcoming the LGBTQ+ community to fairs.

2018 Hall of Fame winners were Louie Brown, partner at Kahn, Soares & Conway, a passionate advocate of fairs as a lobbyist in Sacramento who started in the industry showing livestock and finds everything about fairs “utterly amazing”; Norm Towne, consultant, who is all about “opportunity,” which he finds abundant at fairs; and Charlie Barboni, manager of the Marin County Fair, San Rafael, who began exhibiting at fairs in 1966 and, years later, helped grow competitive exhibits from 4,000 entries to 15,000 at Marin.

WFA officers for 2018 include Cliff Munson, Siskiyou Golden Fair, Yreka, Calif., treasurer; Judy Carrico, Alameda County Fair, Pleasanton, Calif., VP; and Patricia Conklin, Dixon (Calif.) May Fair, president.

Conklin invited everyone to mark their calendars for the WFA 2018 Feature Fair Tour at the Minnesota State Fair, St. Paul; and for the 2019 WFA convention, Jan. 13-16, at the Grand Sierra Resort, Reno, Nev.


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Special Effects Show Fires Up in U.S.
 
Posted: 10 Jan 2018, 7:00 pm

T-Rex looms over the audience in a sudden special effect moment in The Hollywood Special Effects Show.

On the heels of success with Champions of Magic in the U.S. market, U.K. producer Alex Jarrett is launching another family show for theaters – The Hollywood Special Effects Show.

The two-hour production, which features special effects stunts and tricks and features an animatronics dinosaur, debuts at Mayo Performing Arts Center in Morristown, N.J., on Jan. 31, and is booked for an initial two weeks of one night stands in the Northeast.

Paul Bongiorno at Grand Central Booking is booking the show.

Jarrett’s RIP Productions, which opened its U.S. office in El Segundo, Calif., in 2016 and its UK office in 2009, just came off a $1 million, eight-show, 18,000 attendance weekend in Cleveland with Champions of Magic, which is in its second tour of the states and has begun playing multiples rather than one-offs, Jarrett told VenuesNow. His goal is to move The Hollywood Special Effects Show into the weeklong runs where justified as soon as possible.

Venues buy the show outright, for a negotiated price of about $20,000 for one night, $70,000 for a week, and then keep any profits or losses. Ticket prices vary from a $10 low as part of a family show package to $40 for standalone bookings, he said.

HollywoodEFX600.jpgThe Hollywood Special Effects Show logo.

They are currently booking theaters of 2,000 or fewer seats. Other dates now on sale include Packard Music Hall, Warren, Ohio, Feb. 2; Hylton Performing Arts Center, Manassas, Va., Feb. 3; Pittsburgh (Ohio) Cultural Trust, Feb. 5; Community Arts, Williamsport, Pa., Feb. 7-8; Proctors, Schenectady, N.Y., Feb. 9; State Theatre, Easton, Pa., Feb. 10; and Clemens Performing Arts Center, Elmira, N.J., Feb. 11.

The Hollywood Special Effects Show has a similar background in the U.K. to Champions of Magic. Jarrett has produced three tours over two years in the U.K. “Bringing it to the U.S. is bringing it home in a sense,” he said. “It’s an Americanized show; it’s time to bring it over.”

Jarrett’s background is in special effects, which he did for TV and special events for 10 years. In the U.K., there are no Universal Studios or Disney theme park special effects themed shows, he noted, but, in the U.S., while they have the theme park versions, there is no live theater show revealing the secrets of special effects that go into movie making.

“It’s about those effects coming to life in front of people, Jarrett said. His favorite is the dinosaur, of course.

“It’s the biggest thing we tour for the shortest amount of time on stage,” Jarrett said of the dinosaur. “The one in the U.K. takes seven people to lift and you only see it for two and a half to three seconds. It’s off the end of the scale in terms of size and how we use it. It comes off the stage out over the audience out of a cloud of smoke. You don’t see it coming at all. The look on the kids’ faces in the front row as that looms off is beyond the 3-D movie; this is real for these kids in that moment.”

A new dinosaur, bigger, with full animatronics, was built for the U.S. show by Illusion Projects in Las Vegas. That group also helped adjust the set design to be more industrial looking. “No one has done these kind of movie special effects in the same way,” Jarrett said. “We had to find out how far we could push it, how big we could go.”

The show is facilitated by presenters (actors), who keep the energy going and involve the kids in the audience. “We didn’t want a family show to be a lecture. These are professional kids presenters, selling in an appropriate way to the audience. They play themselves. Our production team delivers the effects around them.”

The show runs two halves of 45 minutes with a 20-minute intermission. Load in starts at 10 a.m. for a 7 p.m. show. Build time is five or six hours. The load out is two hours.

Merchandise, such as flash toys, a special effects makeup kit, T-shirts and the “usual things” are sold at each event. One of the skits in the show is a horror movie makeover on stage. Fans can then buy the kit at the merchandise stand or use all the ingredients they already have to do it at home. Those kits are sourced by RIP, but the print and apparel merchandise is produced by Merch in Motion out of Canada.

There are three cast, five crew plus two drivers, one bus and one truck on tour. “I’d love to have three trucks and luxury buses, but we want everyone to make money on it,” Jarrett said.

Hollywood Special Effects has already run for two years in the U.K., and just completed four days at Birmingham Arena, where it played to 16,000 people across six shows, Jarrett said.

Pyrotechnics are a big part of the show and requirements vary state by state in the U.S., he said. They provide each venue with full paperwork and product information, carry a pyro technician to fire the show each night and hire locally licensed technicians when necessary.

Besides Champions of Magic and Hollywood Special Effects Show, RIP Productions has an interest in Graeme of Thrones, which they founded in the U.K. in 2013 and toured in Australia. This year, Jarrett may revive it in the States as well as the U.K. Graeme of Thrones is a parody taken from 'Game of Thrones' in which Graeme tries to re-create his favorite fantasy saga on stage to disastrous results. “We may take it out again this year when the 'Game of Thrones' season builds up,” Jarrett said.

It’s a fun show to do, he said, as they all are. “We just love doing the shows."


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Austin Club Sells For $376,445 on eBay
 
Posted: 10 Jan 2018, 7:00 pm

Austin, Texas' The Parish nightclub was sold at auction to local club owners.

An eBay auction for an underperforming Austin nightclub earned lots of national headlines in November and December, and ended with an Austin club owner and a bicoastal hospitality player partnering for the winning bid.

The final price for The Parish came in at $376,445, with club owners Stephen Sternschein and Alex Saunders coming together to take over the 5,300-square-foot space in the heart of Austin’s Sixth Street bar and nightclub district.

Sternschein already co-owns and operates the Empire Control Room nightclub through his Heard Entertainment company in Austin, and Saunders operates food and beverage businesses in Los Angeles and Boston. The Parish will be the first venture for the new partners, who were introduced after Saunders scouted prospective nightlife opportunities in Austin this summer.

When ATX Brands, the company that had owned the Parish business for close to a decade, put the business up for auction in November, the two joined forces to step in and attempt to revive the live music venue, which had seen its bookings slip to about three events a month over the past year.

“I hit up as many venues as I could this summer, and the biggest thing that stayed with me was the ability for the performers and the audience to interact because you can get up close,” Saunders said of the wood and brick upstairs venue with a capacity of 425 people. “It has a special something that makes it feel gritty and authentic.”

The auction was not for the actual real estate property that contains The Parish, but rather its existing business and bookings, the brand name, its audio and lighting equipment, liquor license and a lease with renewal options that could stretch out 22 years.

Sternschein said he’d been approached by ATX Brands about buying The Parish earlier in 2017 but balked at the $1 million asking price. Records show the business had been bringing in about $200,000 a year after talent and production expenses but had been far more profitable in the handful of years prior.

He said his booking staff and promoters with Live Nation-owned C3 Presents and Austin-based Margin Walker Presents have started adding shows to the schedule for after South By Southwest in March, with plans to have every Thursday through Saturday booked with a combination of road shows, local acts and monthly residencies.

Sterschein said the eBay auction process took away any opportunity to negotiate terms since they were stated ahead of time as a condition of bidding, and made diligence an issue as well.

“I understand on [ATX Brands’] end that it was the right thing to do because you put a lot of money into a place and you might not get back even a fraction of what you’ve put into it over the years,” he said. “The good thing is that with everyone in the country knowing about the sale, you can say that this price is definitely the fair market value.”

Saunders said he’s not sure how effective a tool online auctions will be for transacting large business purchases in the events industry.

“To commit to such a large number on eBay is not for everybody, though as long as you are able to do proper diligence it can work,” he said. “I wouldn’t turn down a good opportunity, but handling these kinds of things off market is the best way to do them.”

Sternschein – along with his three partners in Heard Entertainment – and Saunders used their own cash to pay the entire purchase price at closing, and anticipate turning a profit in two years.

The purchase also represents another chance for Sternschein to deploy the Prism venue management platform he began developing with Austin engineers in 2016. The system is intended to move venues beyond the patched-together combination of Excel and Google Docs that many operators rely on to manage their calendars, track ticket sales, settle payouts and more. Fifteen promotion companies and clubs are using Prism, which has been in operation for six months, with an expansion planned after completion of its second round of fundraising.

“I wanted to build something based on the process of having to book hundreds of events a year, that integrates with ticketing and can handle things like cost tracking and settling payouts,” he said.

Saunders said he’s seen similar technology greatly increase profit and efficiency in the food and beverage industry, and he’s working to help that business expand.

“We know that it’s got legs and will gain its own momentum from the testing that Stephen has done on his own already,” he said. “I’ve been putting out feelers in the tech community and we’re already getting lots of interest from people wanting to be involved.”


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Hot Tickets for January 10, 2018
 
Posted: 10 Jan 2018, 6:00 pm

Jay Z performed his 4:44 Tidal tour at Miami's AmericanAirlines Arena.

The key driver for ranking in our new Hot Tickets reports is attendance, not gross, reflecting the busiest buildings out there.

Jay-Z’s 4:44 Tidal tour continues to roll through North America with stops at Oracle Arena, Oakland, Calif., and Seattle’s KeyArena making our Hot Tickets chart this week. Gross sales in Oakland, Dec. 16, were $1,511,245 with attendance of 14,853. The Live Nation-promoted date saw a ticket range of $37-$190. The Dec. 13, KeyArena date grossed $862,000, with an attendance of 9,200, and a ticket range of $35-$194.

The evergreen MSG Live-produced Radio City Christmas Spectacular, New York City, continued to thrill holiday crowds with gross sales of $13,513,959 and attendance of 158,644. With a ticket range of $49-$400, the annual spectacular ran from Dec. 11-17 and 30 shows were performed.
 

HOT TICKETS is a weekly summary of the top events and ticket sales as reported to VenuePulse via Pollstar. Following are the top 20 concerts and events, the top 5 in each attendance category, which took place between Dec. 11-Jan. 10.

15,001 or More Attendance

10,001-15,000 Attendance

5,001-10,000 Attendance

5,000 or Fewer Attendance

1) Radio City Christmas Spectacular
Gross Sales: $13,513,959; Venue: Radio City Music Hall, New York; Attendance: 158,644; Ticket Range: $400-$49; Promoter: MSG Live; Dates: Dec. 11-17; No. of Shows: 30

2) Abel Pintos
Gross Sales: $3,575,270; Venue: Estadio Monumental Antonio Vespucio Liberti, Buenos Aires, Argentina; Attendance: 53,678; Ticket Range: $96.48-$32.16; Promoter: Move Concerts; Dates: Dec. 16-18; No. of Shows: 2

3) Pete Tong
Gross Sales: $2,363,533; Venue: The O2 Arena, London; Attendance: 35,576; Ticket Range: $87.82-$47.29; Promoter: SJM; Dates: Dec. 15-16; No. of Shows: 2

4) Paul McCartney
Gross Sales: $3,667,959; Venue: Mt. Smart Stadium, Auckland, New Zealand; Attendance: 34,901; Ticket Range: $287.25-$49.67; Promoter: Frontier Touring; Dates: Dec. 16; No. of Shows: 1

5) Mrs. Brown’s Boys
Gross Sales: $1,519,403; Venue: 3Arena, Dublin; Attendance: 31,069; Ticket Range: $53.59-$31.78; Promoter: MCD Productions; Dates: Dec. 14-17; No. of Shows: 5

1) Jay-Z
Gross Sales: $1,511,245; Venue: Oracle Arena, Oakland, Calif.; Attendance: 14,853; Ticket Range: $190-$37.62; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Dec. 16; No. of Shows: 1

2) Liam Gallagher
Gross Sales: $742,546; Venue: Arena Birmingham (England); Attendance: 14,789; Ticket Range: $49.30; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Dec. 12; No. of Shows: 1

3) Finding Neverland
Gross Sales: $1,020,061; Venue: Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami Dade County, Miami; Attendance: 14,521; Ticket Range: $130-$29; Promoter: Broadway Across America, In-house; Dates: Dec. 26-31; No. of Shows: 8

4) Lady Gaga
Gross Sales: $2,163,880; Venue: T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas; Attendance: 14,478; Ticket Range: $305.84-$55.14; Promoter: Live Nation Global Touring ; Dates: Dec. 16; No. of Shows: 1

5) Jay-Z
Gross Sales: $1,160,682; Venue: Rogers Arena, Vancouver, British Columbia; Attendance: 14,386; Ticket Range: $17.54-$15.55; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Dec. 11; No. of Shows: 1

1) The Tenderloins
Gross Sales: $534,850; Venue: Allstate Arena, Rosemont, Ill.; Attendance: 9,203; Ticket Range: $155-$54.50; Promoter: Outback Concerts; Dates: Dec. 15; No. of Shows: 1

2) Jay-Z
Gross Sales: $862,000; Venue: KeyArena at Seattle Center; Attendance: 9,200; Ticket Range: $194.50-$35.50; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Dec. 13; No. of Shows: 1

3) Charles Aznavour
Gross Sales: $1,124,811; Venue: AccorHotels Arena, Paris; Attendance: 9,016; Ticket Range: $225.24-$41.22; Promoter: In-house; Dates: Dec. 13; No. of Shows: 1

4) Westernhagen
Gross Sales: $743,695; Venue: Westfalenhall 1, Dortmund, Germany; Attendance: 8,825; Ticket Range: $53.77; Promoter: Peter Rieger Konzertagentur & Co. KG, Semmel Concerts Entertainment GmbH; Dates: Dec. 15; No. of Shows: 1

5) Katy Perry
Gross Sales: $950,017; Venue: Philips Arena, Atlanta; Attendance: 8,782; Ticket Range: $200-$50.50; Promoter: AEG Presents, Concerts West, Goldenvoice; Dates: Dec. 12; No. of Shows: 1

1) Lil Uzi Vert, Playboi Carti
Gross Sales: $221,810; Venue: House of Blues, Boston; Attendance: 4,850; Ticket Range: $65-$45; Promoter: Crossroads Presents; Dates: Dec. 20-21; No. of Shows: 2

2) Illenium
Gross Sales: $120,625; Venue: Aragon Ballroom, Chicago; Attendance: 4,825; Ticket Range: $25; Promoter: In-house; Dates: Dec. 14; No. of Shows: 1

3) Chris Rock
Gross Sales: $450,161; Venue: Hard Rock Live, Hollywood, Fla.; Attendance: 4,515; Ticket Range: $175-$60; Promoter: In-house; Dates: Jan. 5; No. of Shows: 1

4) Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Musical
Gross Sales: $118,440; Venue: H-E-B Performance Hall at The Tobin Center, San Antonio; Attendance: 4,487; Ticket Range: $55-$23.50; Promoter: In-house; Dates: Dec. 22-23; No. of Shows: 4

5) Dancing With The Stars
Gross Sales: $344,671; Venue: Fox Theatre, Atlanta; Attendance: 4,482; Ticket Range: $125-$59.50; Promoter: NS2; Dates: Jan. 2; No. of Shows: 1

The Weekly Hot Tickets chart is compiled by Brad Rogers, brad@pollstar.com. To submit reports, e-mail Brad@pollstar.com or submit to www.pollstarpro.com/DataEntry/BoxOffice.aspx

 


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City of Savannah To Build New Arena
 
Posted: 10 Jan 2018, 5:00 pm

Rendering of the proposed new arena to be built in Savannah, Ga.

The city of Savannah, Ga., has approved a $2.8 million contract for Chicago-based project management firm Jones Lang LaSalle to oversee the process of designing and constructing a new 9,000-seat arena to replace 43-year-old Martin Luther King Jr. Arena.

Under the plan, Martin Luther King Jr. Arena will be repurposed or demolished upon completion of the new arena but will remain open until that time.

That arena shares its property with Johnny Mercer Theatre, whose fate has not been determined. The council allocated $845,000 to maintain the theater until the decision is made on whether it will be dismantled after the new arena is built.

“The current arena was built in 1973 and is very, very old and in need of major repairs,” said Pete Shonka, executive director of arena development for the city of Savannah. “We commissioned Barrett Sports Group to file a report on the best way to proceed and it was determined building a brand new arena was our best option.”

Topics that Barrett Sports Group studied included comparable markets, competitive markets, and fan demographics and income levels.

The new arena site is about one mile from Martin Luther King Jr. Arena and situated west of the city’s historic district on city property. “This area of town is underdeveloped and with a new arena we’d look at some new development around it to spark other economic activity there,” he said.

The new site now houses the city’s Public Works Department, which will move a mile to a new facility that will cost between $20 million and $22 million, according to Shonka. “That building is outdated and the project to move it is already underway,” he said. “It’s good timing for all of this to happen simultaneously.”

The budget of the project is still in flux. A special-purpose local sales tax is providing $120 million, but projections are calling for $140 million to get the job done.

Jones Lang LaSalle will push the project moving forward and “will help the city select a designer, contractor and an arena operator,” according to Heath Hans, project manager of the new arena for the firm.

The current arena is being managed in-house. “We anticipate the larger facility will be a little bit busier than the old arena, and we’ve had difficulty finding people to run the operation,” Shonka said. “We think hiring a venue operating firm is the way to go.”

Hans said that hiring a venue operator as quickly as possible “is critical and essential to the success of the project. It’s not like we’d bring on someone at the end of the project and say, ‘Here’s your building.’ Having the programmer involved in the design of the facility ensures the project will be up to their standards and is something they can schedule, book and fill on a regular basis.”

A discussion on whether to hire a concessionaire or keep the concession program in-house will come once a venue operator is selected.

Discussions started between the city and JLL after an RFP process that started in August. “We’ve been watching this project for two to three years,” Hans said. “As soon as they issued their RFP we responded with a proposal.” After an interview process, JLL was selected.

“All we really know now is that the city wants to build a 144,000-square-foot arena, with roughly 9,000 seats,” Hans said. “Once our contract with the city is signed, we’ll sit down with the city and create a charter, which will refine what shape the project will take.”

Construction should start within a year and the process should take 30-34 months, depending on the design model they choose.

A locker room and a green room are to be incorporated into the design and, when finished, the venue will be a “multipurpose facility with the possibility that we could get a minor league sports tenant to occupy the building,” Shonka said. “Primarily it will be sports tournaments, concerts, corporate and church events and other community events.”

Plans also call for 12-15 luxury suites and 400 club seats. The current facility does not have any premium seating.

Hans confirmed Shonka’s timeline, saying, “We’re starting the 34-month clock the day we sign the contract.”

 

 


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Lester Finds Vivid Seats Role 'Compelling'
 
Posted: 10 Jan 2018, 5:00 pm

Geoff Lester is the new chief commercial officer at Vivid Seats.

Geoff Lester is back in the secondary ticketing game. Vivid Seats has hired the former StubHub executive as its chief commercial officer.

Lester spent seven years with StubHub in partnerships and business development before working the past six months for Fox Networks Group as senior vice president of global solutions. It was during his time at Fox when Lester met with Vivid Seats co-founders Eric Vassilatos and Jerry Bednyak about signing an advertising deal.

“At that point, they were growing consistently and were strong in technology,” Lester said. “They were moving tickets but didn’t have the brand recognition. I got to know them and they eventually offered me a job. It was compelling, the opportunity to expand on the good things they’ve already done. These guys are smart and hungry.”

To date, Vivid Seats has about 50 secondary ticketing deals in sports and entertainment, including exclusive partnerships with about a half-dozen National Football League (NFL) teams and a handful of colleges. Lester said he plans to grow the company’s roster to include deals with more teams and facilities, as well as leagues, promoters and artists.

“Our goal is to grow the Vivid brand and deliver a bigger audience,” he said. “I’ve been in the business long enough to know that we want to get tickets in the hands of the fans."

"It all comes down to price, which changes dynamically,” Lester said. "We have the ultra-premium inventory for the 50-yard line at the Super Bowl, as well as value inventory for that show on a Tuesday night in chilly Minneapolis. We want to help put butts in seats using technology and anywhere people look for tickets.”

Before StubHub, Lester held multiple roles at NASCAR across broadcasting, digital media and marketing. Lester will work in Los Angeles for Chicago-based Vivid Seats and report directly to Vassilatos.


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New York Fairgrounds Seeks Management Firm
 
Posted: 10 Jan 2018, 4:00 pm

A $62 million expo center is set to open at the New York State Fairgrounds in August.

Changes abound at the New York State Fairgrounds in Syracuse, where a new $62-million, state-funded expo center is slated to open in August. Now the facility needs a management company to keep the fairgrounds a viable year-round destination.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced a request for proposals last month, seeking a “private company to book events at the New York State Fairgrounds, anchored by the new Expo Center,” according to the RFP. Proposals are due to the governor’s office Jan. 31.

The New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets runs the fairgrounds and hosts the 13-day Great New York State Fair in late August through early September each year. The RFP specifically states the new management company will be charged with event booking during the “non-fair” season.

Fairgrounds officials and the governor’s office thought it was important to have a full-time entity working on bookings, said Troy Waffner, acting director of the New York State Fair.

“We book all the nonfair shows ourselves, currently. We don’t dedicate all our time to it. We really wanted to find a company that can book on a regional or a national level,” Waffner said.

In years past, Waffner and staff hired outside companies to book bands at the state fair, but this is the first time the fairgrounds has sought a full-time management company for non-fair events.

Before releasing the RFP, the governor assigned a task force to evaluate how to make the fairgrounds a year-round destination, said Joanie Mahoney, county executive for Onondaga County in New York.

“We just started hearing what works in other fairgrounds across the country,” Mahoney said, noting that Charlie Smith, senior principal at architecture firm Populous, provided advice on the project before it went to the designer.

He helped the task force conclude that hiring a management company was a good idea.

Smith sees a growing trend in fairgrounds hiring companies like Spectra and SMG and encourages clients to look at the opportunity because of “the buying power and the predesigned expertise that they offer,” he said.

He did not know which companies may have already responded to the RFP, but employees at the New York State Fairgrounds are looking forward to the help of an outside business, Waffner said.

The fairgrounds, sitting on 375 acres next to a bustling interstate system, saw a jump in non-fair events last year. In 2017, the fairgrounds hosted 189 privately operated events, up 16 percent from 2016. The nonfair events saw a huge boost in attendance, drawing 832,048 people in 2017, up 57 percent from roughly 529,000 in 2016.

The fairgrounds is in phase two of a multiyear $133 million revitalization that includes the 136,000-square-foot expo center, now under construction. It will have 110,000 square feet of flexible event space with 4,000 retractable seats.

HBP Joint Venture — a partnership between Syracuse-based Hueber Breuer Construction Co. and Rochester-based The Pike Co. — was awarded the design contract, and QPK Design of Syracuse is the design architect.

The fairgrounds upgrades are a part of a much bigger project from the governor’s office called Central New York Rising, in which the state is investing nearly $500 million in the economic growth of New York communities.

With more than half a million square feet of covered event space on the fairgrounds, Waffner thinks the fairgrounds has huge booking potential.

Fresh paint and new facades on buildings, a new midway, a new RV park and a newly paved and repainted 65-acre parking lot all were included in the first phase of renovation. Money also went toward fixing underground drainage to prevent flooding in the parking lots along with other upgrades, Mahoney said.

“We had wires on the ground when shows came. There would be wires duct taped to the ground. Now all of that infrastructure is buried,” she said.

A 17,500-capacity concert venue called Lakeview Amphitheater opened across from the fairgrounds in 2015. It’s owned by the county and works in conjunction with fairground events, Mahoney said.

“They can schedule country music at the amphitheater for after an event at the fairgrounds,” she said. “As soon as this [expo center] is open, I think we’re going to be full speed ahead without looking back.”


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New Orleans Names Sawaya GM/President
 
Posted: 8 Jan 2018, 4:00 pm

MichaelSawaya200x140.jpgMichael J. Sawaya.

Michael J. Sawaya has been named president and GM of New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center and executive vice president of Ernest N. Morial New Orleans Exhibition Hall Authority. He succeeds Robert L. “Bob” Johnson, who retired on Sept. 25 after 10 years of service.

Previously, Sawaya served as executive director of the Convention and Sports Facilities Department for the city of San Antonio. In that role, Sawaya oversaw operations of the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center, Lila Cockrell Theatre, Alamodome, and asset management and ground lease management for the Nelson Wolfe Baseball Stadium, Toyota Field Soccer Stadium, and Grand Hyatt Hotel.

Sawaya’s career with the city of San Antonio began in 2003, when he was hired to merge the Convention Facilities and Alamodome departments. Most recently, he directed the $325 million expansion of the convention center— the largest single capital improvement project in the history of the city, and recently completed a $60 million renovation of the Alamodome. Sawaya served as interim aviation department director during 2008–09 before returning to his role as executive director.

Before joining the city of San Antonio, Sawaya served as GM of the Omni Severin Hotel, Indianapolis; the Omni San Antonio Hotel; and 11 other hotels around the country. He also served as chairman of the San Antonio Convention and Visitors Commission, president of the San Antonio Hotel and Lodging Association; as an executive committee member of the San Antonio Area Tourism Council; and on the board of directors of the Greater San Antonio Chamber of Commerce.

Sawaya holds a BBA from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, and is a Certified Hotel Administrator.

The authority has also contracted with JD Russell Consulting to review, evaluate and recommend best practices to improve the effectiveness of the convention center’s recently launched small and emerging business program. Other elements JD Russell will address include program and policy review, outreach, advertising, tracking, reporting, and community engagement.


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Convention centers are making bold new statements
 
Posted: 1 Jan 2018, 7:00 pm

Goodbye big-box, bunkeresque venues. Hello green rooftop micro-environments, wellness spaces and hip street-party-scapes.

More...


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Survey Shows Fans Want Experiences
 
Posted: 28 Dec 2017, 6:00 pm

Modern-day fans visiting sports stadiums want a flexible seating bowl, family seating amenities and a design that capitalizes on transit trends, according to a study conducted by design firm Populous and Nielsen Sports.

“You can’t prepare for the future without taking stock of the present,” said Brian Mirakian, senior principal with Populous Activate. “We wanted to research and identify what earns fans’ entertainment dollars, what’s missing in the marketplace, and use the data to create actionable design ideas that drive revenue and keep fans coming back.”

“We’ve seen so many shifts in fan behavioral patterns over the last few years, and we decided we needed data to help us start understanding what the customers want when they go to a venue,” he said. “People are grappling with media consumption, and the in-home experience, and we really thought it was the time to dive deeper into solving the problems we hear about from our customers to create data-driven design solutions.”

The results were startling. “What we found out was that today’s event attendees don’t just want a ticket to sit in a seat and be a spectator. They want to participate,” Mirakian said. “People want to choose their adventure and have an individual experience. Seventy percent of the survey responders said the single most important thing to them was having an experience.”

Populous and Nielsen Sports started the study in January 2017. It included 1,000 consumers, ages 13 and up, who regularly attend professional sports games. Quotas for age, gender and region were put in place to ensure a balanced sample.

“We worked together to develop a custom research project to uncover what attendees of various games/events and fan profiles expect when it comes to the arena/stadium/ballpark experience,” said Ibrahim Koese, senior director of market research at Nielsen Sports.

Fans of the National Football League (NFL), Major League Baseball (MLB), the National Basketball Association (NBA), the National Hockey League (NHL), esports and Major League Soccer (MLS) were among the respondents, who were recruited from a national online panel.

“The study is nationally representative for sports fans regularly attending at least three or more games or events in professional ‘stick and ball sports,’” Koese said. “We have added esports as an additional segment. … It provides robust insights for attendees nationally.”

Mirakian said that one in three of surveyed fans thought the future of entertainment would be found in a virtual world but that "two of three would still rather experience a concert or sporting event in person. Past decades have taught us a big lesson when it comes to the live experience: The game itself will get you only so far. It’s time to think beyond filling seats. Fans want to get up and explore the live experience, not sit idle from the sidelines.”

“Younger fans have led the charge, but the behavior spans multiple generations,” he said. “These days, fans of all ages bring these expectations into your venue. They present an opportunity to redefine ‘premium’ and apply it to new price points between the cheap seats and front row. Diversifying your venue’s inventory of experiences gives it longevity.”

Surprising to Mirakian is that two in three fans want a unique experience — and are willing to pay extra for it.

“The survey showed that nine out of 10 people are willing to pay more for a ticket if they can move around the venue and change seats,” he said. “This sort of data suggests we have the opportunity to fundamentally shift what the in-venue experience is for the next-generation fan.”

Another surprising data point? Fifty percent of fans surveyed said that they’d be willing to pay an extra $25 a ticket if they had a power outlet to charge their phones next to their seats.

Another interesting data piece, according to Mirakian, is that “family friendly atmospheres are in demand. A venue’s appeal to families is uniquely influenced by the events it hosts. On one side of the spectrum lies baseball with its family-friendly amenities, fresh air and 18 convenient breaks in the action. On the other end is soccer, which requires your undivided attention for two 45-minute stretches.”

Koese said MLS fans are more likely than others to be interested in entertainment and family zones.

Said Mirakian: “Our research suggests sports can appeal more to families by removing the obstacles in their way. One in four fans take their children to sporting events a majority of the time. Concerns to them are safety; nothing for the family members to do; and it not being worth the money.”

The study suggested that family amenities fans desire include play areas, changing stations, pumping rooms for nursing mothers and babysitting services.

“For the parents, it’s having the peace of mind to know the kids are safely occupied while the game unfolds directly in front of them,” Mirakian said. “There’s a lot of opportunity for sports that do not draw a family crowd, such as the NFL and NBA, to redesign and adjust to the modern sports fan.”

Premium clubs are another part of the new-age-fan puzzle. “To cater to the next-generation consumer we need to really reinvent the wheel,” suggested Mirakian. “Today’s fans want to migrate around the venue and get two to three different experiences, such as having a drink in a premium club in one area of the venue and then wandering to another premium club, with a different viewpoint.”

The study, and the significant shifts in the wants and needs of the fan, will all be taken into consideration when Populous designers draw blueprints for new venues.

“The way we design buildings going forward will be to design not just for the spectator but for a participant in the event,” he said. “The expectation now is to interact and have many different types of experiences. This will change venues as we now know them.”

“Less seats and more social experiences are going to be the new normal,” he added. “Viewing the action is just going to be part of the in-venue experience. This is a fundamental shift.”

Another component of the survey addressed parking and transit, two items that fans want improved above all else.

“The traditional model of venue parking — a sea of parking lots surrounding a suburban venue— was likely front and center in their minds when responding to our survey,” Mirakian said. “It doesn’t lend itself well to diffusing bottlenecks and creating an enjoyable pre- and postgame atmosphere outside of tailgating. Many popular venues still reflect this model, but their numbers are shrinking. Taking your personal car to a venue is decreasing [in popularity] while public transportation and ride-sharing numbers are going up dramatically.”

Another interesting aspect of the study was that for esports fans, the importance of "traditional" aspects of the experience such as view of play is lower, likely because the action is on screens.

“However, other activities and options around the esports competition itself, such as interacting with other fans or visiting sponsor activations, were more important to that audience,” Koese said.

“The study shows there is no standard recipe or silver bullet,” he said. “Venues will need to assess carefully the audience they are targeting and understand how to best cater to them. Flexible configurations are going to become more and more important.”


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Miami Open Lands at Hard Rock Stadium
 
Posted: 27 Dec 2017, 2:00 pm

Hard Rock Stadium will host the Miami Open in 2019.

Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens has more remaking in its future. And this time it's for tennis, not football.

After a more than $500-million renovation to turn the home of the National Football League’s Miami Dolphins into a modern venue in 2016, Miami Open owner IMG partnered with the Dolphins and stadium owner Stephen Ross to bring the tennis tournament to the stadium and turn the property into a permanent tennis venue.

Construction on 29 permanent show and practice courts begins in 2018, to be ready for the 2019 tournament.

“We are extremely excited that the Miami Open, a global entertainment event, will remain in our community,” Ross said in a statement. “We are committed to bringing a best-in-class experience alongside IMG to all of the players, fans and partners that will take part in this global affair. The opportunity to showcase the best tennis in the world in Hard Rock Stadium, a venue that brings together the best of culture, art and entertainment, will be an amazing experience for everyone involved.”

The 32-year-old event has long played at Crandon Park in Key Biscayne, but needed to find a new home after a 2015 court decision prevented upgrades to the Key Biscayne site.

Moving to Hard Rock Stadium allows the tournament, one of the largest events combining male and female tournaments run simultaneously, the flexibility to grow. The 2019 version of the Miami Open will have 30 show and practice courts, a “tennis oasis” with the largest video screen of any tennis tournament, a sponsorship village with expanded and upgraded entertainment spaces, permanent retail facilities, improved Wi-Fi, media facilities, locker rooms and fitness space for players and tennis staff and hospitality and activation areas.

The new Center Court—the one temporary court—will come as a 14,000-seat stadium within the 65,000-seat Hard Rock Stadium. Screens will cover unused stadium portions, and temporary seats will help create a more intimate spectator experience around the court. 

IMG and Ross expect to spend up to $60 million for the full-time tennis center in the parking lots adjacent to the remade venue. Parking for the Miami Open will grow nearly exponentially. The 29 permanent courts is an increase from 21 at Crandon Park. Practice courts double and lighted courts increase from six to 20. Aside from the Center Court, the permanent space includes a 5,000-seat Grandstand court. Total seating for the tournament will jump from 25,062 to 32,474, including over 5,500 at practice courts.

“The Miami Open has been part of Miami’s culture for as long as I can remember and it’s a tournament that is very special to me and my family,” 23-time Grand Slam Champion Serena Williams, a member of the Dolphins ownership group, said in a statement. “I’ve enjoyed some of my best career moments in Miami thanks to the amazing tournament team and the supportive Miami fans. I am thrilled the Miami Open is staying in Miami, where it belongs.”

The Miami Open will finish its run at Crandon Park this year. The tournament runs March 19 through April 1.

“The Miami Open belongs in Miami,” WME and IMG Co-President Mark Shapiro said in a statement. “We’re grateful to have amazing partners in Stephen, the Miami Dolphins organization, Mayor [Carlos] Gimenez and above all the people of Miami who have been supporting the Miami Open for decades. While we’re looking forward to creating the new Miami Open experience at Hard Rock Stadium, our priority is to make the last edition of the Key Biscayne event the best it’s ever been.”

The Miami Open had options to move from Florida to sites as far away as South America and China. Landing 18 miles away may remove the intrigue of a waterside tournament, but it does preserve the Miami heritage of the event.
 


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Mattson Joins OVG’s KeyArena Rebuild Team
 
Posted: 14 Dec 2017, 4:00 pm

Steve Mattson has accepted the position of director of operations for OVG's KeyArena rebuild.

Steve Mattson has been tapped to be the director of operations for OVG’s rebuild of Seattle’s iconic KeyArena. Mattson comes to the project after a 16-year run as VP/GM of Target Center, Minneapolis. (Full disclosure: Venues Today is owned by OVG)

In his new position, Mattson will oversee the approval, construction and pre-opening phases of KeyArena at Seattle Center. Mattson will provide critical operator background on analysis, labor relations, design and overall understanding of how the arena will operate upon opening. Having just completed an 18-month, $140-million renovation at Target Center, Mattson brings relevant experience to the entire design and construction process.

“OVG approached me in the early fall as I was finishing up at Target Center,” said Mattson, who officially started on Oct. 23, and is working out of a Seattle office. “OVG is developing a $600+-million project in Seattle and, while there are historic elements to the arena that will be preserved, I wouldn’t call the project a renovation; it’s essentially the creation of a new National Hockey League (NHL) and National Basketball League (NBA) capable facility.”

If everything stays on track, ground will break in October 2018, and the new KeyArena will open in October 2020.

“What I bring to the OVG team is arena background,” said Mattson. “As general manager of Target Center, I’ve run an NBA building in a major market for the last 16 years. What my joining the OVG team does is bring someone who understands the building, and the city, to the project.”

“As an arena operator, this project is an opportunity of a lifetime,” said Mattson. “We will deliver a cutting edge and innovative world-class arena to Seattle and make it one of the most desired sports and live entertainment venues in the country.”

The design team is led by Populous and the owner’s representatives are CAA and ICON Venue Group. “We are working on a pretty quick timeline,” said Mattson. 

“We’re just beginning the NHL process of creating an expansion team,” he said. “The facility will be dual-purpose and every element of it will be capable of hosting both NHL and NBA.”

Mattson fully expects to have an NHL team in place for the 2020 opening. “Last week the NHL gave OVG a preliminary OK to proceed in the expansion process,” he said. “That process will begin shortly and, if all is accomplished, we’ll become the 32nd team of the NHL in 2020.”

The road to securing an NBA team is not as easily traveled. “At this point there is not an expansion opportunity, but our whole goal is to prove to the NBA through our NHL process that we’re ripe for a team. The combination of bringing a world-class venue to Seattle and an NHL team will, down the road, certainly get the NBA ready to grant Seattle a team.”

Following last week’s monumental passing of the Memo of Understanding (MOU) between the city of Seattle and OVG, and its signing by Mayor Durkan and OVG CEO Tim Leiweke, come the arduous tasks of completing an environmental study, lease agreements, and permitting. While time-consuming, Mattson does not see any of the long-form documents to be an issue in the process of breaking ground.

“The development is on a fast-track and I don’t see anything that will derail the building of the new arena,” said Mattson. “I’m working with the design group, concessionaire (Delaware North), event-booking elements, hiring of staff, and all the things that relate to the operations of a new building now so we are ready to roll when the construction is over.”

“There’s a lot of hard work ahead,” he said. “We’ve got such a great partner in the city and the path we’re on will see the building only down for two years.”

Mattson said that the KeyArena project is not comparable to the $140 million Target Center renovation he oversaw. “That building was a 27-year-old building, which is half the age of KeyArena. Those renovations covered a lot, but this is a major undertaking.  We’re utilizing the protected roof and landmarks but everything else is brand new.”

Mattson said that once the building is open he anticipates being a part of the project long term.

“Steve is a special talent in our industry and someone who has a track record of excellence and innovation in his work as an operator and in his dealings with the professional sports leagues,” said Tim Leiweke, OVG CEO. “His expertise will be critical as we move into the next phase of our work with the City of Seattle in revitalizing KeyArena and Seattle Center.”

The MOU called for a fully privately funded redevelopment of KeyArena at Seattle Center and for OVG to construct, operate, and maintain a redeveloped arena nearly double the size of of the current venue. It anticipates a 39-year lease with two eight-year renewal options for a total of up to 55 years. The arena will also be designed to preserve the current and historic roofline, and meet LEED Gold or equivalent standards.

“The new arena will be something special and something the city will be proud of,” added Mattson. “I’m thrilled to be a part of it.”

 


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Peggy Kaltenbach Passes at 93
 
Posted: 13 Dec 2017, 10:00 pm

Peg_Kaltenbach_(2)_LI-200px.jpgPeggy Kaltenbach.

Peggy Klein Kaltenbach, (Margaret Helen Klein) passed away on Dec. 12. With her husband Bob,  Kaltenbach built Klein's Attractions entertainment business.

Kaltenbach was born December 10, 1924 in New Brighton, Pa., and passed away in Barrington, Ill. Kaltenbach ’s journey into the world of entertainment began at a young age. Her parents started a small talent booking agency in 1930 from their home in Ohio. Even as a small girl, Kaltenbach worked alongside her parents learning the business of booking and producing shows that quickly would become her life’s work and passion.

Whether performing on stage, or working behind the scenes, she learned all aspects of the business. As the company, Klein’s Attractions, grew, it quickly became one of the fastest growing talent agencies in Ohio and the surrounding states, specializing in providing all types of entertainment for state fairs, county fairs, and festivals.

Kaltenbach and husband Bob worked side by side building Klein’s Attractions into what would eventually become one of the most successful and most respected agencies in the entertainment industry. As the outdoor entertainment business changed and concerts became more the norm, Kaltenbach was instrumental in bringing some of the biggest artists in the world to fairs and festivals nationwide. Kaltenbach worked alongside artists as diverse as Bob Hope, Red Skelton, Johnny Cash, The Oak Ridge Boys, Boots Randolph and The Charlie Daniels Band for decades. 

Following her husband’s death in 1993, Kaltenbach continued to work day to day in the business alongside her son and his family until her retirement at 85 years old in 2010. Even after retirement, Kaltenbach’s guidance and expertise helped shape the family business – now known as Klein’s Entertainment – as it heads into its 88th year of operation, now spanning four generations (daughter Katie has recently joined the company) of family involvement. Over the years, Kaltenbach was a member of many industry organizations such as the Academy of Country Music (ACM), The Country Music Association (CMA), The International Association of Fairs and Expositions (IAFE), The International Entertainment Buyers Association (IEBA), The Ohio Fair Managers Association (OFMA) as well as many other individual state fair and festival associations. Kaltenbach and her husabnd were inducted into the IEBA Hall Of Fame in 2014 and Kaltenbach was inducted into the OFMA Hall of Fame in 2010. 

“She was a true role model demonstrating for many, many years that a woman could have a successful career and still be a kind, caring human being,” said nephew John Siehl, VenuWorks VP. “My Aunt’s infectious smile and distinctive laughter will be greatly missed.


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California Venues Shelter Fire Evacuees
 
Posted: 13 Dec 2017, 9:00 pm

Del Mar (Calif.) fairgrounds was one of many California venues that housed displayed animals during the recent wildfires.

With fires ravishing much of California over the past week, hundreds of people, livestock and pets have been displaced from their dwellings due to evacuations. In some cases, homes, farms, and facilities burned to the ground.

With shelter in high demand and not enough of it to go around, California venues, specifically fairgrounds, picked up the slack.

Del Mar (Calif.) fairgrounds took in 850 horses and 50 other types of animals. “Last Thursday (DEC. 7) we started taking horses in,” said Tim Fennell, president and CEO, Del Mar fairgrounds. “The fires were raging through the area and people needed a place to take their horses and other livestock.”

The displaced included horses, donkeys, cows, goats, sheep, llamas, turkeys and chickens. As of Dec. 12, the fairgrounds still had 560 horses and 25 other animals still on the property.

“We didn’t wait for someone to tell us to open up,” he said. “As soon as people started contacting us, I made the decision to open up Horse Park to whoever needed the shelter. I reached out to my team and they immediately came out to help.”

Local animal groups eventually reached out; Fennell informed them the fairgrounds was already taking in displaced animals.

There was no charge for bringing an animal to the facility. “People show up and we take care of them,” said Fennell. “We had a tremendous amount of donations of hay and supplies.”

Fennell is unconcerned with the money that needed to be spent. “We’ll probably get some grant money at some point, but that’s not something we’re worrying about now.”

With the winds dying down and the fires somewhat contained, Fennell expects many of the animals to be going back to their homes shortly. “Some of the animals lost their homes and they can stay here until stalls are rebuilt or they find a place to go.”

“Fairgrounds in California have stepped up to the plate and will continue to do that,” said Fennell.

George Bradvica is the volunteer coordinator at Del Mar fairgrounds. “Our whole team mobilized as soon as we all heard from Tim,” explained Bradvica. “We have a written plan so everyone knows what to do.”

“Horses started showing up, and by late in the afternoon, we had 1017 animals on the property,” he said. “Once people knew we were open as a shelter, people showed up; there were numerous properties that were under evacuation.”

Bradvica praised the volunteers who showed up and all the people who donated supplies. “The community really came together. Without their help, we could not have housed all those animals.”

Los Angeles Equestrian Center also acted as a makeshift shelter. “Tuesday morning (Dec. 5) at 5:00 a.m., we got word that horses were about to come in,” said George Chatigny, GM. “We ended up accepting about 450 horses.”

Most of the horses came from the Creek Fire, which was still raging nearby. “We already had about 500 horses on the property,” he said. “Luckily, we still had unused stalls.”

Many of the horses have gone home; 175 horses still remain at the facility. Privately funded, the center will absorb the cost of taking in the animals. “Some of the evacuees have donated money and supplies,” he said.

Chatigny was not only a fire-evacuee hero; he was also a recipient. “I got a call that my horses in Oceanside had to be evacuated and had to be brought to Del Mar fairgrounds,” he said. “There were so many wonderful volunteers and professionals who looked out for my horses. I have heartfelt gratitude for what they did and the Del Mar fairgrounds operators for taking in so many horses.”

Regardless of the help he received, Chatigny was thrilled he could be of help and service to others. “We’re in the equestrian business,” he said. “These were not only people we are familiar with and care about, there was no hesitation to step up in a time of crisis.”

Animals aren’t the only beings that need shelter. Back in October, when fires were storming through Northern California, fairgrounds came to the rescue for people.

“We were activated as an evacuation center for both animals and people, and we eventually housed 400 animals and 450 people,” said Erin Post, CEO, Sonoma Marin fairgrounds.

“We had a dorm building with 325 cots, which was at capacity for three nights,” she said. “We also allowed RVs and camping for those who were displaced, as another option.”

Fairgrounds staff and volunteers manned the efforts. “We set up a medical center, a triage center, and space dedicated to the elderly and those with higher-needs, and a cafeteria.”

“It was a great learning experience for the staff,” she said, not wanting to leave out “all the volunteers who did such a great job.”

Post was also impressed and inspired by all the donations that poured in. “We had so much stuff that after the crisis was over, we had to spend days and days packing up the donations and sending them to other shelters.”

 

 


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15,000-Capacity Venue Proposed In Austin
 
Posted: 13 Dec 2017, 9:00 pm

Rendering of the proposed new arena, part of the East Austin District.

An open-air stadium and 15,000-capacity arena have been proposed for construction in Austin, with investors hoping the facilities would serve as magnets for sports franchises looking to relocate to one of the fastest-growing cities in the U.S.

The group known as Austin Sports & Entertainment unveiled its plans in early December for East Austin District, a 1.3-million-sq.-ft. project that would revitalize the 1980’s-era Travis County Exposition Center in northeast Austin. That site’s main tenant is Rodeo Austin each March, which generated more than $2.5 million in ticketing revenue and more than 6,000 tickets sold in 2017. Other events at the 6,500-capacity Expo Center include the four-day Republic of Texas Biker Rally, concerts, circuses ad assorted outdoor athletic events on the 300 acres of property.

Danish architects Bjarke Ingels Group have signed on to design the project, which is planned to include an assortment of youth sports and other community facilities in a region of Austin that hasn’t experienced the rapid growth and economic development seen in many other parts of the city.

Austin Sports & Entertainment partners said they’ve thus far only secured the money to fund predevelopment work and are in talks with several potential groups about raising the hundreds of millions of dollars needed to build the facilities included in the proposal.

Sean Foley, a partner in the development group and former executive with the Raptor Group that owns the AS Roma soccer team, said the proposal began taking shape in late 2016, with the first meetings with Expo Center leaders happening this past January.

“Austin has such a robust economy, and the growth and income patterns on the east side are a really great thing for what we envision out there,” he said. “We’re focused on building a sports and entertainment hub that will be an asset for the whole community.”

A 2015 report by Hunden Strategic Partners determined the Expo Center property could fill several gaps in the event market in central Texas. The report called for a 15,000-seat arena, 200,000 square feet of exhibition hall space, a 30,000-sq.-ft. ballroom, 25,000 square feet of meeting space, 400,000 square feet of space for the rodeo’s midway, and parking for a minimum of 6,000 vehicles.

Rob Golding, CEO of Rodeo Austin, described the Expo Center as “functionally obsolete” and said the East Austin District development would let the rodeo expand its mid-March programming along with opening up ongoing activities for complementary groups such as Future Farmers of America and 4-H.

“We’re too small for top entertainment events and expanding to 15,000 to 20,000 seats serves us well as a location for the rodeo, concerts and other indoor entertainment,” he said. “We’re currently in a no-man’s land from a concerts point of view and if this concept moves forward one of the keys is to design the arena for entertainment purposes.

“The question is, who takes the lead, since Rodeo Austin isn’t in charge of the arena. It’s got to be a decision made by a group of county and city leaders, with the rodeo at the table.”

The path ahead for the East Austin District is unclear since the Expo Center is managed by Travis County, but sits on land owned by the City of Austin on a lease that will last 17 more years. City and county officials have said they’d favor a competitive process for redeveloping the site, with at least one other proposal known to be in the works.

Golding and other leaders have also come out in support of using some of Austin’s hotel tax, which generates around $100 million in revenue annually, as part of the funding for the Expo Center redevelopment, though no final numbers on cost or total public support amounts have been disclosed.

The unveiling of the proposal comes as the owners of the Major League Soccer Columbus (Ohio) Crew team are pushing for a stadium site in downtown Austin that would let them move the team there. Representatives from Precourt Sports Ventures, the Crew club’s ownership group, have said the potential Expo Center site is not an option they’re interested in.

Also in play is the expected demolition of the Frank Erwin Center, which has served as the home of University of Texas basketball teams for 40 years and has been the only arena option in the Austin urban core. That building is expected to be decommissioned in the next five years and the university has indicated it will build a basketball-only arena as a replacement.

 


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Venues Today To Relaunch As VenuesNow
 
Posted: 13 Dec 2017, 9:00 pm

Venues Today is transforming. The Oak View Group-owned facility-industry institution is re-imagining its content, rebranding and relaunching in 2018 as VenuesNow.

“VenuesNow will build on the Venues Today foundation,” said Ray Waddell, president of OVG’s Media & Conferences division. “We’re still in the business of focusing on issues, challenges and opportunities related to the rapidly-evolving sports and entertainment facilities business; providing insight on deals, trends, technology, security, touring content, team relations, operations, marketing, and sponsorships; and ancillary businesses including ticketing, food and beverage, promotions, VIP/premium, and everything else pertaining to this vibrant, robust business.”

Venues Today was due for refreshment. The redesign is looking crisp, smart and will be user-friendly and contemporary,” said Waddell, who expects the new-look VenuesNow to debut in February.

The debut of VenuesNow is part of an overall focus and investment in OVG’s Media & Conferences division, which includes VenuesNow, Pollstar, pollstar.com, and the newly launched Pollstar Daily Pulse newsletter, as well as a stake in sporttechie.com.

“As far as editorial coverage, we’re looking at it as the content will be focused on the Pollstar side, while where the content plays will be the focus of VenuesNow,” he explained. “We’re revolutionizing the coverage of this industry and anyone who operates venues or does business with venues will understand the way we’re delineating the two sides of our industry.”

“Things we started doing with Venues Today this year, we plan to double-down on next year, such as security, safety and technology; we care a whole lot about branding and sponsorships and partnerships in our business,” said Waddell.

The new design will be user-friendly, informative and entertaining, he said. “We’re going to have columns, guest op-eds, and exciting photography, visuals, charticles and great graphics.”

“It’s worth noting that at a time when a lot of people are running away from print media, OVG is running toward it and investing in it,” he said.

VenuesNow will now use live music-bible Pollstar’s data for tracking box office data, presented in a way that is specifically useful to venue managers and bookers.

“Pollstar is the gold standard for tracking live entertainment in the world, and we didn’t need two entitles collecting the same data,” said Waddell. “We want the charts to be a useful tool for venues making management decisions. We want to provide data that makes sure VenuesNow is on agents' desks, promoters' desks, managers' desks and content-providers' desks to give them something they can’t get anywhere else.”

Waddell emphasized that combining the two entities in terms of data collection will allow for “more information, more data-points, more contextualization, and it will be presented in a way that allows people in this business to make decisions.”

Joining VenuesNow leadership team are highly respected facilities industry reporter Don Muret, who comes to the publication after a 15-year stint at Sports Business Journal (SBJ).

As Senior Editor, Facilities, Muret will lead VenuesNow’s coverage of the arena and stadium business, as well as reporting on news and trends related to festivals and other venues, touring content, sports business, branding, industry deals, and personnel changes across the spectrum of sports and entertainment. Muret will also contribute content and breaking news to Pollstar platforms.

Also coming aboard the VenuesNow team will be Rob Knapp, formerly assistant managing editor at SBJ, in the role of managing editor. Knapp’s career has included stints at the Charlotte Observer and Lexington Herald Leader.

“While Don and Rob have been immersed in the sports business at SBJ they are both fully familiar with the facilities side of the business and they’ll bring a lot of expertise and skills to the next era of venues coverage,” said Waddell. “I’ve known and worked with Don Muret for over 25 years and his reputation and ability to break the most important stories in our business is second to none. Rob is the type of experienced, visionary editor we need as we dive into the next phase of coverage of this fascinating and dynamic industry.”

Both Muret and Knapp will report to OVG executive editor Andy Gensler.

As part of the re-organization, Venues Today offices in Huntington Beach, Calif., will close in January as the back-end operations of VenuesNow move to Los Angeles, with some aspects of production to be moved to Pollstar’s offices in Fresno, Calif.

The restructuring will lead to staff reductions at Venues Today, though some of the current Venues Today staffers, including founder Linda Deckard and senior writer Brad Weissberg, will make the transition to VenuesNow.

“Linda will remain an integral part of VenuesNow," said Waddell. "She’s the legacy of this title and she’s one of the most important figures in the business. We hope she’ll stay with us for many years to come. She’s part of the redesign efforts and she’ll play a significant role in what the new VenuesNow will look like.”

Deckard said the revamp is exciting. “I founded Venues Today 15 years ago and have nothing but praise for the people that helped build it along the way. It’s been an exciting ride and everyone has worked very hard for our position in the industry. I’m very much looking forward to this next chapter, and the insights of fellow journalists and people in the industry, and where VenuesNow is going to go.”

“The Facility business is changing, it’s challenging, it’s complex, it’s fascinating,” said OVG CEO Tim Leiweke. “We need a publication and a source that is focused on giving the industry up to date news, information and intelligence in the space. We need to understand what others are doing and how it effects what we do on a daily basis.”

Venues Now will be the source for those in the facility business to know everything going on in our industry,” he said.  “And it will cover the critical and impactful issues and topics of our industry and provide a forum for all of us to be a part of. We want it to be irreplaceable and relevant, every day. And we will expand the digital platform to complement the depth of coverage that the magazine will allow.”

In addition to the print magazine and its digital presence, VenuesNow will also
host the second edition of VenuesNow, the premiere facility-industry conference in North America next summer.

“If you’re in the facility business, the conference, the digital platform, and the magazine will be the key source for your information and for your facility to stay relevant,” added Leiweke.

 

 


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Suit Filed To Stop Nashville MLS Stadium
 
Posted: 13 Dec 2017, 9:00 pm

A petition has gone out to stop Nashville Fairgrounds from being the site of an MLS stadium.

Editor's Note: Major League Soccer could choose two new teams as early as this week, and Nashville might not make the cut. Either way, a lawsuit has been filed against the proposed plans at Nashville's fairgrounds.

Nashville’s city council, mayor and fair board all want to see a Major League Soccer (MLS) stadium built on the city’s fairgrounds, but a group of persistent naysayers have filed a lawsuit, saying the preliminary plans will not compensate the Fairgrounds Nashville.

Nashville is one of four cities vying for two slots for a MLS team. Cincinnati, Ohio, Detroit, Mich. and Sacramento, Calif. are the other cities that have bid for a team.

“We think that we’re confident that our current (fairground) uses and a soccer stadium can coexist,” said Laura Schloesser, executive director of the fairgrounds.

If chosen by the MLS, Fairgrounds Nashville will sport a $225-million soccer stadium that seats 27,500 built on 10-acres of the fairgrounds — a proposal that was unanimously approved by Nashville’s Metro Council on Nov. 7.

MSL offered $25 million toward the stadium if Nashville is picked.

Some of the old buildings on the 10-acre site will have to be torn down in order to build the stadium, and Schloesser feels it would completely spruce up the fairgrounds that’s badly in need of renovations and repairs.

Each year, the fairgrounds hosts the Tennessee State Fair. It also hosts a monthly flea market, both of which will continue if the MLS stadium is built, Schloesser said.

“We need investment desperately. (The fairgrounds) hasn’t seen it in decades and decades,” Schloesser said.

The fairgrounds also has an old-school race track that will get a facelift.

“It’s a very cool piece of our history that we want to invest in, too,” Schloesser said.

The fair board has five members, all of whom approved the stadium plans.

“I’m very excited,” said Ned Norton, president of the fair board. “If (the stadium) doesn’t happen then we have to move forward with other plans. We still need new buildings.”

A group called Save Our Fairgrounds filed a lawsuit on Nov. 29, alleging that the proposed stadium will not fairly compensate the fairgrounds and that the MLS will pay only 99 cents a year for the 10 acres of space it will use.

“We’re a citizen-activist group,” said Rick Williams, secretary of Save Our Fairgrounds, a not-for-profit group that raises funds to protect the fairgrounds’ interest, which is how they paid for the lawsuit.

“We have always been proposing upgrades to the fairgrounds,” Williams said, highlighting that giving land to MLS for so cheap is concerning. “Leasing land for a dollar a year to develop whatever they want...We filed a lawsuit.”

Many details about how the fairgrounds would financially benefit from the deal have not been ironed out, Schloesser said.

“There are a lot of details to work out. The scope of the improvements will change based on whether or not we get the stadium opportunity,” she said.

The MLS could decide as early as this week on which cities land the two open slots.

The fair board feels the stadium is the best plan to spruce up the area as of yet.

“We’ve been waiting for the right plan… and then a bid for a soccer stadium came up,” Norton said. “Of course, not everyone wants to see the fairgrounds change… (but) the facility is in desperate need of change. I think everyone believes that Nashville is ready for it.”

On the site where the soccer stadium would set are some sheds and cinderblock buildings used for various exhibitions and rental opportunities.

Schloesser said those buildings would be rebuilt as modern structures. She does not know, however, if the soccer stadium will allow the fairgrounds to use exhibition space in or on the stadium grounds.

Additionally, parking lots are also included in the preliminary plans for the stadium.

“Having another building that hosts the public for events is not out of line for what we do,” Norton said.

 


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SMG Sells to Another Private Equity Firm
 
Posted: 13 Dec 2017, 8:05 pm

SMG is wrapping up its 40th year with a new private equity firm as owner. Onex Corporation has agreed to acquire SMG Holdings Inc. in partnership with its existing management team.

It has been a solid path up for the private management and food and beverage firm, which was founded in 1977 by A.N. Pritzger, who formed Hyatt Management Group to manage the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans, an account SMG has continued to manage for four decades.

Wes Westley, CEO of SMG, who joined the firm in 1994, was in Europe this week visiting accounts in Germany and England. “I had a series of pre-planned meetings in Europe related to our activities there. This did, however, give me an opportunity to discuss the transaction with our European leadership team,” Westley told Venues Today in an email.

Asked why Onex was the successful bidder, Westley noted Onex was founded more than 30 years ago and is one of North America’s oldest and most successful investment firms having acquired and built market-leading businesses across a range of industries. “Onex is highly supportive of our growth ambitions and we are looking forward to working with them. I want to add that Onex has a true ownership mentality and long-term focus and, as such, values the deep and long-standing relationships that our general managers have cultivated within the municipalities we serve,” Westley wrote.

There will be no change in management’s role going forward, he said, responding to another question thus: “If you are asking whether management will be part owner of the business in the future, the answer is yes.”

Westley would not disclose the other bids received, the length of negotiations or the terms of the deal, but did say “Onex is purely a financial investor. There will be no impact on leadership as a result of this transaction.”

In 2015, American Capital bought SMG for a reported $630 million. Back in 1998, Aramark and the Pritzgers bought out Ed Snider’s one-third interest in SMG for $40 million and a two-year noncompete (after which he founded Global Spectrum.) SMG has also grown by acquisition, buying Leisure Management International and acquiring venue management accounts from Ogden Entertainment in 2000.

Westley said he will “continue to answer to the clients and municipalities to which SMG has answered for four decades.” This sale has no impact on day-to-day business as the executive team, regional leaders and local management will not change and the current organizational structure and offices remain.

“Onex did a lot of due diligence and I think their interest in SMG is a testament to the quality and depth of our organization, and the possibilities for growth that they see in our business,” Westley concluded, saying no units of SMG will be spun off, “absolutely not.”

SMG manages nearly 240 convention centers, stadiums, arenas, theatres, performing arts centers and other venues globally. In 2017, SMG added the Shenzhen World Exhibition and Convention Center in China and the Aberdeen (Scotland) Convention Center to its portfolio.

This transaction is expected to close in early 2018 subject to customary conditions and regulatory approvals.  The terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

SMG is headquartered in Conshohocken, a suburb of Philadelphia. Besides all aspects of venue management, it includes a food and beverage division, combining Savor and Premier.

Onex has offices in Toronto, New York, New Jersey and London. This investment will be made by Onex Partners IV, Onex’ $5.7 billion fund. Northlane Capital Partners (NCP), which was spun off from American Capital, which was acquired by Ares Capital, was the owner of SMG that sold to Onex.

NCP is owned by the four partners who have managed ACE III since its closing in September 2014: Justin DuFour, Sean Eagle, Eugene Krichevsky, and David Steinglass. They will continue to be supported by the same six-person investment team and be based in Bethesda, Md. NCP invests in control buyouts in middle market companies based in North America, focusing on healthcare, outsourced business services, and industrial technology.

Through its Onex Partners and ONCAP private equity funds, Onex acquires and builds high-quality businesses in partnership with talented management teams. At Onex Credit, Onex manages and invests in leveraged loans, collateralized loan obligations and other credit securities. Onex has more than $30 billion of assets under management, including $6.7 billion of Onex proprietary capital, in private equity and credit securities. 

Onex’ businesses have assets of $45 billion, generate annual revenues of $30 billion and employ approximately 161,000 people worldwide, according to a posting on BusinessWire.  Onex shares trade on the Toronto Stock Exchange under the stock symbol ONEX.


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Ontario Passes Ticket Cap Bill
 
Posted: 13 Dec 2017, 5:00 pm

Ticketmaster and StubHub executives in Canada have been biting their nails for weeks about the Ontario Ticket Sales Act, waiting for it to go through the legislative process.

To their dismay, the law was approved Dec. 13, with 50 lawmakers saying yay and 43 nay. 

The act outlines specifications for how tickets are sold, distributed and monitored. It also helps crack down on scalpers and bots that buy massive amounts of tickets and increase the prices — all of which Ticketmaster and StubHub approve. It’s the price caps on tickets that concerns ticket executives.

The Canadian Chamber of Commerce, Ontario Chamber of Commerce, and the Information Technology Association of Canada also were against the legislation.

The Ontario government got involved in monitoring ticket sales when the consumers were left paying outrageous prices for the Tragically Hip Tour last year, said StubHub’s Jeff Poirier, GM, music and theater, North America.

“The issue that came up was how expensive some of the tickets were,” he said.

At first, Ticketmaster and StubHub were supportive of the legislation and both parties sat down with lawmakers to hash out the language.

The goal was to protect consumers from scammers, which everyone agreed on. The proposed law also initially stated that consumers must know how many tickets are for sale for every show, and Ticketmaster and StubHub were supportive of that provision.

“I think it was to create fairness and transparency for consumers. One of the key points of the law was how many tickets are for sale. That was scrapped,” Poirier said.

Under the Ticket Business Transparency clause, it originally “set out disclosure and transparency obligations for ticket businesses.” The final language of the law was changed from “sets out disclosure and transparency obligations for ticket businesses requirements to disclose the number of tickets available to an event and the face value of the total ticket price” to “certain information before tickets are sold.”

“It’s a shame that they’re going to keep Ontario fans in the dark,” Poirier said.

The new law also “sets out prohibitions that apply to ticket sales and the use of certain software. Sales above face value on the secondary market are permitted providing that certain conditions are met and sales of tickets that are not in a person’s possession or control are prohibited. In addition, the use or sale of software intended to circumvent certain controls and measures on a website, online service or electronic application of a ticket business is prohibited.”

Ticketmaster also takes issue with price caps.

“We remain concerned that the reintroduction of legislated price caps will not serve the best interests of Ontario consumers. When demand is unsaturated, opportunists will no doubt find the opportunity to exploit the arbitrage. Fans will be driven to unsanctioned platforms without consumer protection,” Ticketmaster Canada’s COO Patti-Anne Tarlton said in an email. “Until July 2015, the resale of a ticket above face value was illegal in Ontario, but the law did not deter the activity. The proposed price cap will be equally ineffective. When the law changed in 2015 to allow for resale in the province, it came with two very important consumer protection provisions.  A seller had to either provide a money-back guarantee or assurance that the ticket was authentic and valid; both these provisions have positive consumer protection outcomes.”

Now that the legislation has passed, both Ticketmaster and StubHub are committed to working with the Canadian government to abide by the new law.

“We will abide by the laws of that province,” Poirier said.

Ticketmaster expressed the same sentiment.

“We look forward to working with government throughout the winter as they seek to further define and clarify clauses in the regulation period.  As we do in all jurisdictions in which we operate, we will adapt to the legislation,” Tarlton said.

 


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eSports Enters Sacramento Arena
 
Posted: 13 Dec 2017, 4:00 pm

Golden 1 Center, Sacramento, Calif., is building a dedicated eSports arena to debut in 2018.

The Sacramento Kings plan to build the first dedicated eSports facility within an existing arena, taking advantage of the technological advancements and spaciousness of a venue opened in 2016.

Golden 1 Center, Sacramento, Calif., already houses the National Basketball Association’s (NBA) Kings and the team’s co-owners own an eSports team entered in the inaugural NBA 2K eSports league for 2018. To give its eSports team a home and open space for competition, the Kings will create a “venue within a venue,” building a training facility, broadcast center and gamer lounge inside the downtown arena.

“The venue-within-a-venue is located on the event level of the arena,” Kings CTO Ryan Montoya told Venues Today. “It is just a hallway away from the Sacramento Kings Training Facility and the main event floor of the arena.”

Montoya said they will build a “dynamic studio space that will host small competitions” in a theater-style design. For larger events, the Kings will utilize a direct link with the club and lounge spaces within the Golden 1 Center, as well as the arena bowl, to display competitions on the NBA’s largest video board and the only one in the league featuring 4K Ultra HD resolution. The arena’s 360-degree audio will supplement the full-arena experience.

“Using technology to engage with our fans and reach new audiences has always been core to our organization’s mission,” said Vivek Ranadivé, Kings owner and chairman. “Golden 1 Center is the most advanced arena for basketball, entertainment and esports. This state-of-the-art facility will set a new standard and provide the best-in-class tools that the next generation of superstar gamers need to train, compete and win.”

A full-service studio and green screen room, complete with 4K cameras, will enable the team to create unique content and share it with fans around the world. The production studio links to Golden 1 Center’s 4K Ultra HD Broadcast Center for streaming. A dedicated LAN setup, backed by Golden 1 Center’s 200 GBPS internet connection and the first Tier 4 Data Center in sports, will deliver lag-free gaming and connectivity. Fans can gain a live look inside the gaming room through a 360-degree camera for advanced livestreams.

Along with state-of-the-art gaming technology, the Kings plan to serve gamers, artists and the community. That includes intentionally designing the studio to serve different audiences, whether students or entertainers performing in the arena who can enjoy the high-tech space down to hundreds of gaming titles, including Mario Kart and Super Smash Bros on Nintendo 64 to the newest, most popular videogames and virtual reality experiences. Along with videogame consoles, the studio will feature a professional DJ rig for guests to record music.

“At the core of our business mission, we want to serve as an agent of change, and this is a unique opportunity for us to use our platform to help local groups improve education outcomes or spark a student with an interest in tech,” Montoya said about partnering with the Sacramento Kings Foundation to lend the room to the region’s nonprofits as an educational incentive, a unique engagement tool to connect with students with tech-driven curriculum.

Students won’t be the only ones getting a little extra on their visit to the building. “On the arena side,” he said, “it is an amenity that no other venue can offer performers or their management right now. It is another one of those special touches—similar to our locally sourced cuisine or unmatched tech infrastructure—that we hope will leave a lasting impression with artists who visit the Golden 1 Center.”

The Kings plan to expose the professional gamers to the same treatment the NBA players enjoy, whether it's the culinary program or training facility. The team boasts an on-demand oxygen bar plus a beverage bar with fresh kombucha and nitrogen coffee to energize the gamers.

The Kings also want to expose gamers to the same fans that cheer on the NBA team. “We have incredibly passionate and engaged fans, including many who are young and excited about gaming,” Montoya said. “Esports is a natural extension for us and allows us to further engage with our fans and grow new ones.”


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Webster Bank Arena and Mohegan Sun Partner
 
Posted: 13 Dec 2017, 4:00 pm

Webster Bank Arena, Bridgeport, Conn. and Mohegan Sun, Uncasville, Conn. are teaming up on programming.

A pair of prominent Connecticut entertainment venues have announced a new exclusive partnership designed to build business for both facilities.

Mohegan Sun, a casino and resort in Uncasville with a 10,000-seat arena, and the Webster Bank Arena, a 10,000-seat arena a little more than an hour drive away in Bridgeport, signed the three-year, multiple-level agreement to strengthen their existing relationship and help attract more concerts and sporting events. Under the arrangement, Mohegan Sun will help book events at the Webster Bank Arena and will have a sponsorship presence at the arena.

“This partnership is a good example of how venues can work together, be good community neighbors and help the state of Connecticut become more of an attraction using two of its bigger venues to draw more people, create more fun and memories for life,” said Tom Cantone, senior vice president of sports and entertainment for Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment. “Everyone wins.”

Peter Luukko, co-chairman of Oak View Group's Arena Alliance, which serves as a venue consultant to the Webster Bank Arena and the New York Islanders, said the new agreement was “a sign of a great relationship between two organizations in the state of Connecticut working together to help each other.”

Mohegan Sun Arena has attracted a number of big-name musical performers to its arena since its opening in 2001, and it has hosted a variety of sporting events and other performances. The arena, which is owned by Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment, serves as the home of the Connecticut Suns of the Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA) and the New England Black Wolves of the National Lacrosse League. The arena has hosted the WNBA All-Star Game three times.

Webster Bank Arena, which also opened in 2001, serves as the home of the Bridgeport Sound Tigers ice hockey team (the American Hockey League affiliate of the New York Islanders), the Fairfield University men’s basketball team and the Sacred Heart University men’s ice hockey team. The arena is located on the Long Island Sound waterfront and hosts approximately 150 events each year. Harbor Yard Sports and Entertainment manages the facility, which is owned by the city of Bridgeport.

“We both are established entertainment venues in New England and we will build on that with programming and sponsorship coverage that will extend Mohegan Sun’s well-known entertainment brand to help generate more tourism in the state,” Cantone said.

Cantone said the partnership is a natural fit for attracting concerts, in particular, to the venues, and that is where the emphasis of the collaboration will be trained.

“Our primary focus will be to do what we do best and that is the concert business as that is the driver for venues like ours,” Cantone said. “With our industry contacts, we will be able to help offer more dates for more artists to play, especially when the tours are being routed or there are some isolated opportunities we may want to pursue.”

Luukko said he also expects the partnership will be especially beneficial for building Webster Bank Arena’s concert schedule.

“I think it’s going to be great for all kinds of concerts,” Luukko said. “Rock, country, any show will be a part of this arrangement.”

Cantone said the facilities’ resemblance in general features and size helps with the planning and promoting of concerts, as does a shared understanding of the region.

“Our venues are very similar so we can model each show with a basic understanding of how it will fit from a production standpoint as well as the marketing of each show,” Cantone said. “Our expertise in both of those areas is a big synergistic advantage.”

Luukko said the Mohegan Sun’s sponsorship opportunities with the Webster Bank Arena will provide it with valuable exposure in the Bridgeport marketplace and help drive visitors to the casino. Mohegan Sun will have visible sponsorship within  Webster Bank Arena. Bridgeport, which has a population of more than 140,000, is the the largest city in Connecticut.

In a press release, Kevin Brown “Red Eagle,” chairman of the Mohegan Tribe and MGE Management board, said the agreement reflected Mohegan Sun’s “commitment to Bridgeport, a city rich in history and culture,” and its desire to support its “growth and rebirth.” Jon Ledecky, owner of the Bridgeport Sound Tigers and the New York Islanders, called the agreement “the beginning of a long-time marriage.”

Luukko said the arrangement should be a boost to the Bridgeport area and to its residents and visitors.

“They’re going to get more shows and get more out of their arena,” Luukko said.

Cantone said the regional economic benefits of the arrangement will be apparent.

“Anytime you draw more people into your venue, you generate more revenue and the local economy benefits as do the thousands of people who work the venue with more opportunities to earn a better living,” Cantone said.

 


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Hot Tickets for December 13, 2017
 
Posted: 12 Dec 2017, 8:00 pm

John Mayer joined Dead & Company at Frank Erwin Center, Austin, Texas. (Photo Credit: Rick Kern)

After the unexpected success of their summer tour, Dead & Company hit the road this fall with a batch of new tour dates, and their stop at American Airlines Center, Dallas, Dec. 1, made our Hot Tickets chart this week. The venue came alive with the music of the Grateful Dead and the cheers of the 11,000 fans in attendance singing along and grossed nearly $1.2 million with ticket prices ranging from $45-$145. The band, which was created back in 2015, consists of Grateful Dead members Bob Weir, Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzmann along with John Mayer, Oteil Burbridge and Jeff Chimenti. Fans of Mayer were given a unique opportunity to see a different side of the artist as the band covered decades of Grateful Dead hits. Dead & Company will be wrapping up the fall tour on Dec. 8, at BB&T Center, Sunrise, Fla.

Over 12,000 people took a heart-warming journey of self-discovery at David A. Straz, Jr. Center for the Performing Arts, Tampa, Fla., Nov. 28-Dec. 3, when they attended the Broadway musical hit Fun Home. The eight shows grossed a combined $725,000 with ticket prices ranging from $26-$78. This musical, which entwines tragedy with comedy, is a graphic memoir of cartoonist Alison Bechdel’s childhood and her loving, dysfunctional family. The Tony-award-winning musical is scheduled to make its London premiere at the Young Vic in June of next year.

HOT TICKETS is a weekly summary of the top acts and ticket sales as reported to VT PULSE. Following are the top 20 concerts and events, the top 5 in each seating capacity category, which took place between Nov. 14-Dec. 12.

15,001 or More Seats

10,001-15,000 Seats

5,001-10,000 Seats

5,000 or Fewer Seats

1) Nitto ATP Finals 2017
Gross Sales: $6,182,102; Venue: The O2 Arena, London; Attendance: 92,368; Ticket Range: $94.04-$4.37; Promoter: ATP; Dates: Nov. 12-15; No. of Shows: 8

2) Lady GaGa
Gross Sales: $1,610,901; Venue: Frank Erwin Center, Austin, Texas; Attendance: 12,680; Ticket Range: $228-$48; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Dec. 5; No. of Shows: 1

3) Dead & Company
Gross Sales: $1,188,751; Venue: American Airlines Center, Dallas; Attendance: 10,713; Ticket Range: $145-$45; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Dec. 1; No. of Shows: 1

4) Foo Fighters
Gross Sales: $1,173,401; Venue: Golden 1 Center, Sacramento, Calif.; Attendance: 13,197; Ticket Range: $99.50-$49.50; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Dec. 2; No. of Shows: 1

5) Trans-Siberian Orchestra
Gross Sales: $1,160,306; Venue: Golden 1 Center, Sacramento, Calif.; Attendance: 20,007; Ticket Range: $84-$36.75; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Dec. 1; No. of Shows: 2

1) Yusuf
Gross Sales: $2,021,925; Venue: Brisbane (Australia) Entertainment Centre; Attendance: 16,448; Ticket Range: $158.02-$73.42; Promoter: TEG Dainty, Live Nation; Dates: Dec. 9-10; No. of Shows: 2

2) Trans-Siberian Orchestra
Gross Sales: $1,306,728; Venue: Van Andel Arena, Grand Rapids, Mich.; Attendance: 19,925; Ticket Range: $76-$46; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Dec. 3; No. of Shows: 2

3) The Weeknd
Gross Sales: $1,052,362; Venue: Brisbane (Australia) Entertainment Centre; Attendance: 11,431; Ticket Range: $107.64-$84.56; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Dec. 6; No. of Shows: 1

4) Shawn Mendes
Gross Sales: $555,255; Venue: Brisbane (Australia) Entertainment Centre; Attendance: 8,526; Ticket Range: $113.23-$60.35; Promoter: Frontier Touring ; Dates: Nov. 29; No. of Shows: 1

5) Amy Grant, Michael W. Smith
Gross Sales: $431,997; Venue: Van Andel Arena, Grand Rapids, Mich.; Attendance: 9,046; Ticket Range: $125-$29.50; Promoter: Rush Concerts; Dates: Dec. 10; No. of Shows: 1

1) Yusuf
Gross Sales: $919,954; Venue: ICC Sydney Theatre; Attendance: 7,756; Ticket Range: $158.02-$73.42; Promoter: TEG Dainty; Dates: Dec. 7; No. of Shows: 1

2) J. Cole
Gross Sales: $827,694; Venue: Hordern Pavilion, Sydney; Attendance: 10,935; Ticket Range: $84.64; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Dec. 4-5; No. of Shows: 2

3) Culture Club
Gross Sales: $548,120; Venue: ICC Sydney Theatre; Attendance: 4,986; Ticket Range: $142.34-$93.89; Promoter: One World Entertainment; Dates: Dec. 1; No. of Shows: 1

4) Ozuna
Gross Sales: $517,303; Venue: Smart Financial Centre, Sugar Land, Texas; Attendance: 5,273; Ticket Range: $155.50-$65.50; Promoter: CMN Entertainment; Dates: Nov. 25; No. of Shows: 1

5) La Tocada Fest Presents
Gross Sales: $513,845; Venue: Event Center at San Jose (Calif.) State University; Attendance: 5,903; Ticket Range: $100-$85; Promoter: Frias Entertainment Group; Dates: Nov. 24; No. of Shows: 1

1) Reba, Brooks & Dunn
Gross Sales: $3,705,171; Venue: The Colosseum at Caesars Palace, Las Vegas; Attendance: 27,741; Ticket Range: $205-$59.50; Promoter: AEG Presents, Caesars Entertainment; Dates: Nov. 29-Dec. 10; No. of Shows: 7

2) Love Never Dies
Gross Sales: $1,809,075; Venue: Fox Theatre, Atlanta; Attendance: 31,247; Ticket Range: $150-$40; Promoter: Broadway Across America; Dates: Nov. 28-Dec. 3; No. of Shows: 8

3) School of Rock
Gross Sales: $998,742; Venue: Peace Center, Greenville, S.C.; Attendance: 11,560; Ticket Range: $95-$35; Promoter: In-house; Dates: Dec. 5-10; No. of Shows: 8

4) Fun Home
Gross Sales: $724,658; Venue: David A. Straz, Jr. Center for the Performing Arts, Tampa, Fla.; Attendance: 12,410; Ticket Range: $78-$26; Promoter: In-house; Dates: Nov. 28-Dec. 3; No. of Shows: 8

5) Sebastian Maniscalco
Gross Sales: $645,234; Venue: Broward Center for the Performing Arts, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; Attendance: 10,372; Ticket Range: $250-$59.75; Promoter: In-house; Dates: Nov. 24-25; No. of Shows: 4

The Weekly Hot Tickets chart is compiled by Monique Potter. To submit reports, e-mail HotTickets@venuestoday.com or fax to (714) 378-0040.

 


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Congratulations 2018 Ticketing Star winners!
 
Posted: 8 Dec 2017, 3:00 pm

Thank you to all who voted.  We will be honoring this year's outstanding ticketing professionals during the INTIX convention in Baltimore, Md. January 23-25, 2018.

Congratulations to our 2018 Ticketing Stars!

Andrew Bragman
Vice President – Ticket Operations
Washington Nationals Baseball Club

For supervising ticketing for the Nationals 81-game season and the National League postseason and overseeing concert ticketing at Nationals Park. In addition, into the fall of this year, Bragman is overseeing the ticketing for Washington, hosting the Major League Baseball All-Star Game in 2018.  With his most recent promotion, he is also taking on additional duties in analytics for ticket marketing. Bragman has worked in professional baseball ticketing and SMG arenas for close to 15 years, the last 2 ½ with the Washington Nationals, during which time he has been promoted three times: from director to senior director to executive director to VP.

Crystal Clinton
Director, Ticketing System Administration
Opry Entertainment, Nashville

For ticketing events and merchandise sales associated with Aug. 21 total solar eclipse, the first to sweep across the entire United States in 99 years - and Nashville, Tenn. was in the largest U.S. city in the direct path of totality. Literally millions of people came from around the world to experience the almost two minutes in time when the moon completely blocked out the sun. So what do Southerners do when guests come to town?  They open up their homes and throw a party, of course, which is exactly what they did at the Grand Ole Opry. Over the four-day weekend, they held 5 Opry Shows, hosting over 18,000 guests. Over 5,600 of them took an Opry Backstage Tour, and thousands spent Monday picnicking on the plaza donning their Opry Eclipse T-shirts, dancing to the live music, playing corn hole and life-size connect 4, and just visiting with newly-made friends. Kids enjoyed face-painting, sno-cones and kettle corn. National news organizations were on hand. The Weather Channel and even NASA were there to record the celestial event. In addition, for managing operations of two separate business units in Ryman Hospitality Properties — Opry Entertainment Group as well as an impressive portfolio of destination hotels providing accommodations bundled with various types of live entertainment experiences. This, after operating as one organization for 20+ years.

Linda Forlini
Vice President
Ticket Philadelphia

For implementing a Customer Service training program and training over 500 staff/partner staff members throughout her organization including Ticket Philadelphia and The Kimmel Center. They called the program GRaCE (Guest Relations and Campus Experience) and it has changed the culture at the Kimmel Center. Their staff was friendly, but now they have a structure that Forlini built with checks and balances, plus a formalized recognition program. The program took eight months to put together, roll out and enhance. They are clearly seeing the fruits of their labor daily with the enhanced engagement and experience for not only their external, but also their internal customers.  During the process, multiple members of the Kimmel Center team asked Forlini to be their mentor. She was told that they had been watching her interact with her team and noticed the cultural changes that were being made and embraced, and they wanted to hone their skills with her help as well.

David Greenbaum
Director of Ticketing
NRG Park, Houston

For stepping up after Hurricane Harvey devastated Houston and NRG Park was turned into a relief shelter for almost 10,000 guests. Many events were canceled and/or rescheduled, the largest of which was the sold-out Coldplay concert. Greenbaum made that scheduling process run as smooth as could be expected given the circumstances. As a 37-year veteran in the industry, Greenbaum has been involved in thousands of events over the years. In 2017 NRG Park will have hosted over 150-ticketed events over 200 event days with an attendance of over 800,000. Highlights for the year include Super Bowl LI and the U2, and Metallica world tours.  In addition to overseeing these NRG Park events, Greenbaum also provides support for the Houston Texans and the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo.

********************************************************************************************************************

Contact your Account Executive to Reserve a Congratulatory ad!

Jim McNeil
Southeastern and Midwestern U.S.,
(207) 699-3343 jim@venuestoday.com

Rich DiGiacomo
Western and Northeastern U.S., International
(310) 429-3678  rich@venuestoday.com

Ad deadline is Wed. December 13, 2017.


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Greek Out to Bid Again
 
Posted: 6 Dec 2017, 7:00 pm

The historic Greek Theatre in Griffith Park, Los Angeles.

The city of Los Angeles Recreation & Parks Department is sold on the open venue concept and, to that end, has issued a request for proposals (RFP) to operate the Greek Theatre from Nov. 1 2018-Nov. 1, 2028 to venue management companies only.

Just three short years ago, SMG won the bid in a hotly contested and highly public and political process, to operate the iconic, 5,801-seat amphitheater located in Griffith Park for one year with two one-year options, which end next November. The next contract will have some differences, including a 10-year term with a five-year option.

But it will continue to be an open venue concept and requires that the successful bidder is not allowed to promote concerts or events “consistent with an open venue model and therefore, any concert promoter, a subsidiary of a concert promoter or a joint venture with a concert promoter will be prohibited from submitting a response to this RFP.”

Prior to SMG's reign, Nederlander Concerts had the exclusive to operate and promote at The Greek for decades. Live Nation challenged that deal upon renewal before the city opted out of exclusive promoters and went with a management agreement.

A.P. Diaz, L.A. Recreation and Parks, said approximately 20 people attended the mandatory pre-proposal conference Nov. 30. Diaz did not have the complete list, but did recall representatives from SMG, AEG, Live Nation, Goldenvoice, Nederlander, Premier and Oak View Group were among them.

Bids are due Jan. 4, 2018. It is a very long and legal RFP, which Diaz said has been streamlined from what the city used to publish and which some of those planning to bid say will require a host of lawyers to help dot all the i’s.

The full RFP can be found by clicking here

Besides operating and booking the Greek for a fee, selling premium and seating programs for an incentive, maintaining an open box office (currently inhabited by Ticketmaster and AXS) and handling venue concessions (fee based), the new RFP also includes a fee to operate the nearby Roosevelt Café, which is open 365 days a year to service golfers and park guests. Premier, a division of SMG, currently operates concessions at the Greek.

This round, the city is also including an open-ended request for the successful operator to make some capital improvements. SMG invested in some food and beverage enhancements last round, but capital expenditures were not part of the bid, Diaz said.

The successful bidder must be prepared to begin the transition Oct. 1, 2018, to prepare for the 2019 season, which runs mid-April-Oct. 31 and includes approximately 70 concerts.

The dedicated core management staff for The Greek must be comprised of a Venue Manager, Roosevelt Café Manager, Booking/Box Office Manager, Operations Manager and necessary restaurant and administrative support staff. It is expected that during off-season months (November-March), the venue may be rented for special events, i.e. corporate, community and other events, the RFP says..

“There will be no exclusive rights to a ticketing vendor.”

Minimum qualifications to bid include, but are not limited to, “a minimum qualifying experience of providing venue management services for a minimum of twenty-five (25) different concert/theatre venues with a minimum seating capacity of four-thousand (4,000) per venue and have been in business for a minimum of twenty (20) years. Proposer must also have a minimum qualifying experience of providing food and beverage services for a minimum of ten (10) different concert/theater venues with a minimum seating capacity of five-thousand (5,000) per venue and have been in business for a minimum of fifteen (15) years. A qualifying venue could be a theater, stadium or amphitheater. If this is a new company, partnership, or joint venture formed for the operation of this concession, describe the background and qualifications of each of the partners or principals.”

Becky Colwell, GM at the Greek for SMG, said the city has been a great partner and is pleased with the financial results to date. Diaz had said the same, saying the Greek management style is predicated on what Denver does at Red Rocks amphitheater.

She shared financials from 2016 (2017 is not due until next week). The Greek hosted 80 events, April-October, with a total attendance of 318,618.

Food and drink at just the Greek grossed $4,931,000, with a per cap of $15.57 (up from a projected $3,832,335 and $12), with a return to the city of  $2,071,000.

Premium seat sales totaled $830,000, of which the RAP received $623,000; and sponsorships, $958,000 ($737,000 to the city).

Other gross receipts included: Ticket Sales, $18,449,000; Facility Fee, $1,564,000; Parking, $2,057,000; and Rent & Service, $5,708,000.

According to the RFP, the minimum annual guarantee (MAG) for the food and beverage concession at the Greek for year one is $2 million. The MAG for subsequent years is the greater of the previous year’s MAG or 90 percent of the actual concession fee paid to Recreation & Parks (RAP) for the previous contract year.

The MAG percentage of gross receipts payable to RAP is forty percent (40%) for all food and beverage sold annually. The Minimum Acceptable MAG for the food and beverage concession at the Roosevelt Cafe for year one is $25,000 or six percent.

According to the RFP, bids will be weighed as follows: 20% — Operational And Management Plan; 25% — Sponsorship And Premium Seating Sales Plan; 15%— Capital Improvement Plan; 20% — Food And Beverage Concession Plan; and 20% —Total Evaluation.

According to Diaz, once bids are submitted it will take through March to evaluate them and into April to decide. 


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Lessons Learned from an Accidental Death
 
Posted: 6 Dec 2017, 5:45 pm

Bob Johnson, OABA; David Margulies, Margulies Communications Group; Alicia Shoults, Ohio State Fair; and E.J. Dean, Fiesta Shows, moderator.

REPORTING FROM LAS VEGAS — The Fireball ride accident in July at the 2017 Ohio State Fair, which killed one and injured four, made international headlines this fair season. The mantra from those who lived the tragedy from the business end was “be ready” and know “this is your business,” take care of your key audience first.

While the police and fire departments and the governor’s office are dealing with the bigger issues and the media, the venue should be focusing on informing their business partners and peers as to what is happening.

It was a by-the-book crisis communication effort from the get-go, but simply beyond comprehension until you’ve lived through it, said Alicia Shoults, Ohio State Fair, who spoke at the International Association of Fairs & Expositions convention here Nov. 26-30.

“We had a safety meeting two weeks before this happened [on opening day of the fair] and, as a result of that meeting, our first aid, highway patrol and off-site emergency services were all on the same radio channel, so everyone was told at once,” Shoults recalled.

It is amazing how quickly things happen, Shoults said. “We knew we had to notify social media,” she said of first responses, because everyone on site had their cellphone out and was taking pictures. The chatter was deafening. “We needed some acknowledgement from an official source.”

She also advised others involved in tragic incidents like this to “stay in your lane, your area of expertise. Don’t step on others’ toes.” The investigation into the cause of the accident and details on the injured, that’s for the police department, not the fair.

At the initial press conference, the fair kept a check-in sheet so they could follow up with media on hand and tied all sound into a multibox so there was only one mike at the podium.

“It’s important to express grief, but not take ownership of that grief,” Shoults said. “It’s not our turn to grieve; it’s the family’s turn. It’s not about us.”

One of the things Shoults needed most was people. As the national media descended on Columbus, she was calling on friends and colleagues around the industry to help. “I never realized I’d need so many people just to wrangle the media.”

She found it best to keep crisis files on Dropbox, everything from talking points to clippings and background, for easy access for multiple needs. She also advised colleagues facing crisis management to be cognizant of all advertising and promotional materials that are out there. “The Fireball was in our TV ads, albeit for less than a second, and that had to change.”

To accommodate the press, they immediately established a media staging area in a parking lot that had a view of rides for TV shots, but “not the shot,” not the Fireball. They surrounded the Fireball with tractor-trailers so the view was obstructed.

She understood the need to “feed the beast,” the media has a job to do, so they established a website, OhioStateFair.com/media-fireball. It’s still up.

They took the press on a tour of the grounds en masse the day after the accident. “Everyone tried to run off and get other shots,” she said. On day 2, the press tour was a golf cart tour. The goal for the fair was fair and equal coverage for everyone.

“Be aware of anniversaries (one month, two months, one year) and events,” she added. The memorial for the deceased was on Day 5 of the fair and the funeral was on Day 6. The fair was lowkey. No decision has been made yet on what to do when the 2018 fair opens, whether the moment of silence will be on day one because it was opening day in 2017, or day two, the actual one-year anniversary.

David Margulies, The Margulies Communications Group, advised managers to enlist a third voice in issues like this. For the Ohio State Fair, that was the Outdoor Amusement Business Association (OABA). Bob Johnson, OABA president, said he couldn’t get off the phone for a week after the ride accident.

“It was incredible how fast it went viral worldwide,” Johnson said.

Johnson’s first reaction was to contact the carnival owner and Margulies, review the Industry Safety Statistics and Carnival Rides website and develop a spiel for the media calls. It’s important to know that American Society for Testing and Materials standards become regulation standards and inspections are based on ASTM standards.

This was a wake up call, as any accident would be, and the industry is still looking at all equipment and how it might relate to the issue here and many states had to get out in front of the issue, which impacted fairs all down the line post-Ohio.

Margulies added that employees need to know what to do when someone puts a cellphone in front of their face during a crisis. He recommended having a “what to do if…” list ready to distribute in case of an accident. “To the media, anyone who works for you is a spokesperson,” Margulies said.

He also advises his clients against taking center stage. “In a crisis like this, you don’t need to say anything. The police and fire departments are trained to deal with that. You make sure they have the information, but it’s not your turn to hold a news conference.”

It is your turn to reach out to your key audience, from vendors to insurance companies to other fairs and carnivals, he said. “There needs to be strong follow-up.” Other rides were shut down worldwide and the manufacturers were making modifications to similar rides.

The industry is now looking at new testing protocols to combat internal corrosion, which was determined to be the cause, Margulies said. The rides were inspected according to current safety protocols and passed. It’s important to use third-party experts to corroborate those claims.

It was determined early on that there was no operator error “and we focused on that, what the investigations said,” Margulies said. There will always be false rumors to combat, particularly given the social media aspect of news today.

First and foremost, “the focus in on keeping your business, not going after every reporter you don’t like,” Margulies said. “Your business is much more important to you than the media.”

The ride is still shut down, four months later.


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Petrullo Resigns KFC YUM! GM Post
 
Posted: 6 Dec 2017, 4:00 pm

Dennis Petrullo has resigned his post as GM, KFC Yum! Center, Louisville, Ky.

DennisPetrullo-KFC-200x145.jpgDennis Petrullo.

Petrullo has helped run the arena since 2012. He was hired by AEG in 2009. When the group signed to manage the arena three years later, Petrullo was put in place as GM.

Richard Krezwick, SVP, AEG Facilities, will assume the interim position of general manager until a successor is named. A new general manager will be hired within 30 days, according to a statement from AEG’s Michael Roth.

Petrullo’s departure comes on the heels of the news that Moody's upgraded the KFC Yum! Center's bond rating.  Arena officials say that the improved rating will yield tens of millions in savings toward repaying its debt.


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Google Opening Offices Near Detroit Arena
 
Posted: 6 Dec 2017, 3:00 pm

Rendering of the new Google offices next to Little Caesars Arena, Detroit.

While cities around the nation await word on whether they’ve won the rose to become the next Amazon hub, Detroit is celebrating Google’s announcement this week that it is moving its Michigan offices from suburban Birmingham to Detroit. The company’s new 100-person, 30,000-square foot office is slated to open in the spring next to Little Caesars Arena at 52 East Henry St.

“Google has officially signed a lease for new office space on East Henry Street alongside the Little Caesars Arena in Detroit, Mich. The city of Detroit has a rich history of culture and innovation, and we’re excited to be a part of its world class talent and world class companies,” Google’s Birmingham co-site leads Danielle Russell and Guy Schueller said in a statement to Venues Today. “Our new space will not only provide room for future growth, but will also give us the opportunity to contribute to the dynamic economic and community activity happening in Detroit.”

The move is part of an ongoing effort led by Quicken Loans founder Dan Gilbert to revive the city’s downtown as part of the tech hub known as the Madison Block, which already includes businesses such as the Bizdom start-up incubator, Detroit Labs, Avalon Films and the architecture firm Neumann/Smith.

Renderings of the new site show the Mountain View, Calif.-based company’s signature colorful name splashed across the top of the building, with the lights of Little Caesars Arena shining in the background. The placement will give the leading search engine prime visibility for concertgoers as well as Red Wings and Pistons fans attending events at the gleaming new $829-million, 19,000-capacity building that effectively replaced both the Joe Louis Arena and the suburban Palace at Auburn Hills when it opened in early September.

“This exciting move by Google is another clear sign that, in The District Detroit, we’re building one of the best and most exciting places to live, work and play in the entire region,” said Christopher Ilitch, President/CEO of Ilitch Holdings Inc. in a statement. “Google joins other world-class organizations like the Detroit Pistons, the Detroit Red Wings, the Detroit Tigers, Olympia Entertainment, 313 Presents, the Mike Ilitch School of Business at Wayne State University, Little Caesars Pizza and others who are bringing new development, jobs and innovation to this critical area in our community. We welcome Google as the first of many new tenants expected to join The District Detroit in office, retail and residential developments.”

The 100-plus employees from Birmingham who focus on automotive ads and technical support will make the move downtown after the suburban office closes in spring 2018. 


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OVG’s KeyArena Reno On Track for 2020
 
Posted: 6 Dec 2017, 2:00 pm

A rendering of OVG's renovated KeyArena, Seattle, which cleared a giant hurdle and received city council approval of its MOU this week.

The Seattle City Council approved the memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the city and Oak View Group (OVG) to renovate KeyArena, Dec.4, by a vote of 7-1, with one absent voter. The new mayor, Jenny Durkin, and OVG Co-Founder and CEO Tim Leiweke, signed the MOU on Dec. 6, pushing the promise of implementation of the $660-million project further toward the finish line. (Full disclosure: OVG also owns Venues Today.)

The revitalization of KeyArena is step one in Seattle attracting a National Basketball Association (NBA) team and a National Hockey League (NHL) team to the city. Seattle’s former NBA team, the Sonics, left for Oklahoma City in 2008.

With the MOU signed, the deal between OVG and the city moves to the next phases, lease agreements, entitlement issues and permitting. Signing of the MOU does not guarantee OVG the right to start construction yet; among other necessary steps are completion of an environmental impact statement, community benefits agreement, and an agreement to integrate with other organizations housed at Seattle Center.

Still, “the city council vote was quite significant,” said Joe Mirabella, director of communications, Seattle office of economic development. “This clears the way for the KeyArena/Oak View Group deal to proceed.”

Mirabella said that with this hurdle overcome, the most likely outcome is the completion of the arena. “There’s very little in the way now that would derail the venue being built,” he said. “The next steps are mostly filling in the blanks and a lot of paperwork and filings like settling a lease agreement, going through the entitlement process, and putting all the permits in place.”

Mirabella believes this will take anywhere from six to eight months to accomplish. “Barring a 9.5 earthquake or one of the other worst-case-scenario stipulations in the MOU, the path from here is not perilous and we fully expect OVG will break ground in October 2018 and the new KeyArena will open its doors in Fall 2020.”

“On behalf of OVG, we want to thank the Seattle City Council, City staff, and City consultants and representatives for the cumulative work that signifies a monumental moment with today’s 7-1 vote,” said Leiweke in a statement. “We feel extremely good about the partnership between the City of Seattle and OVG and respect and applaud the City in its ability to be thoughtful, collaborative, and deal-focused throughout this process while maintaining the best interest of its citizens.

“The process over the last year serves as an example of the transparent public/private collaboration that has led to a great outcome that other municipalities will emulate,” he said. “We have enjoyed getting to know our neighbors in Seattle Center, Uptown, South Lake Union, Belltown and Queen Anne. We look forward to continuing our work with the community over the next year as we complete our long form agreements and full entitlement.  We will continue to be good partners and good neighbors and look forward to a collaborative and beneficial ongoing relationship will all community stakeholders.”

Mirabella said the deal was “great for the city of Seattle. Since the money to rebuild the arena is private money, with provisions for the city to revenue-share, it’s a win/win. The city gets to keep its promise that we are not moving backward and the renovated arena will surely have a huge, positive economic impact on the entire city.”

Under the agreement, Oak View Group will lease the arena from the city for 39 years. Further extensions are in place if OVG can land a NHL or NBA team, both of which are likely given OVG’s deep ties to the sporting world. OVG bringing more capital to the project will also kick in extensions.

Part of the MOU will see OVG contribute $40 million over its 39-year lease to a transportation fund to alleviate traffic congestion in the area, a pledge to retain some of the current staff, and construction of a skatepark.

In other Seattle venue news, Seattle Opera has unveiled plans for a $60-million facility to replace Mercer Arena, which was demolished last February.

The new building, which will be named the Seattle Opera at the Center, is expected to be four stories tall and house 105,000 sq.-ft. of space for offices, storage, scene assembly and community spaces.

MercerArena1_web.jpg

A rendering of the new four-story  Seattle Opera at the Center. building.

One of the goals of the project is to create "a signature building that unlocks opera for all," said Seattle Opera General Director Aiden Lang. “Education and engagement are at the heart of Seattle Opera's mission.”

The opera is using about $14 million in public grants for the project with the rest of the money coming from private donations.

NBBJ is the architect on the project, Lease Crutcher Lewis is the general contractor and Shiels Obletz Johnsen is the project manager. Construction began in January 2017 and Seattle Opera at the Center is expected to move into their new home in 2019.


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Predators Take Back Ticketing
 
Posted: 6 Dec 2017, 1:05 pm

Nashville Predators put plan in place to control secondary market through mobile ticketing.

The word disheartening doesn’t quite do justice to the feeling players and staff of the Nashville Predators of the National Hockey League (NHL) felt when 9,000 fans of the opposing team descended upon Bridgestone Arena, Nashville, Tenn., for games in the 17,000-seat venue.

The Predators decided to do something about it.

“We were losing our home-ice advantage,” said Nat Harden, the team’s senior VP of ticket sales. “If we sell season-ticket packages to fans, we can maintain the home-ice advantage. We made a concerted effort not to resell to ticket brokers.”

Harden said that about four years ago the team saw the issues of ticket brokers buying up season tickets and reselling them to opposing fans. With Nashville a destination city, and the team’s venue located on Broadway, fans of teams other than Nashville were flocking to the arena and filling over half of it. “If you have a lot of tickets on the secondary market, it opens up the ability for opposing team fans,” Harden said. So, in 2015 the Predators formulated a plan and have moved from having one of the highest number of tickets available on the secondary market to next to last in the 31-team league. A more aggressive approach in 2017 has finished off a plan that now has Nashville with an average of 146 ticket listings per game, 64 percent below the NHL average.

The plan to remove ticket brokers from the Predators started with selling season tickets only to those the team knew. With 13,500—about 80 percent—of the building sold in a full-season equivalent, this first step made a difference, Harden said. Sales staff must gain manager approval before selling more than four season tickets to a single party and if someone from out of the area requests season tickets, the team researches who they are. “We want to make sure we are selling to people coming to the games,” Harden said.

Harden said it wasn’t easy for the team to come out to a building over half full of opposing team fans and it really devalued the brand to their own season-ticket holders. Having actual fans buying tickets eliminates brokers, allows the team to manage the price of tickets on the secondary market and helps the team control every single game.

The team also shifted from hard and paper tickets to season-ticket ID cards, helping reduce the deluge of tickets floating about without any way to track them. It also helped the team identify ticket brokers and remove them. But the final piece of the strategy came to play this season, as the team shifted to a fully mobile ticketing platform.

Going fully mobile allows the team to control how tickets get managed, such as not sending barcodes until 48 hours before the event and taking the resale button off the ticket for certain games (fans always have the option on those days to sell back the ticket or exchange it for a future game). “The fan base understands what we are trying to do and why we are doing it,” Harden said. “To build a home-ice advantage we had to build an atmosphere of 95-percent Predator fans.”

Moving fully mobile gives the team a more robust wealth of information about fans, as all fans must download the team app and input information in order to use tickets. Already this season the Predators database of fans has grown by over 20 percent. “They were probably going to our games in the past, but we didn’t know,” he said. The mobile strategy has also eliminated the need for long will-call lines and sped up entry into the venue.

“We have made huge strides,” Harden said. “Going in you hope that it works and you have a plan to be where we are at right now. I am really, really proud of where we are. We put together a plan to control the secondary market and to implement it to where we are now. We are very excited.”
 


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Houston Venues Recover From Hurricane Harvey
 
Posted: 6 Dec 2017, 1:00 pm

Wortham Theatre Center, Houston, will repoen Sept. 1, 2018.

Wortham Theater Center, Houston,  has announced plans to reopen Sept. 1, 2018, only days after the one-year anniversary of when Hurricane Harvey made landfall in Texas and caused widespread flooding that led to extensive water-related damages to the performing arts center.

The Wortham Center, which was built in 1987 in downtown Houston’s Theater District, has been closed since Harvey struck. The venue holds two theaters and serves as the home for both the Houston Grand Opera and the Houston Ballet. The city of Houston owns the facility, and the Houston First Corporation operates it.

Peter McStravick, chief development officer for Houston First, said the venue’s importance to the area makes its recovery a top priority.

“The Wortham Center really is one of the cultural gems of the region and it’s very important to get it back up to speed,” McStravick said. “It’s taking lots of hours and lots of smart, dedicated and talented people to work on this, but Houston First is honored and committed to be a part of this work.”

The Wortham Center’s challenges are the result of flooding that saw 12 feet of water gather in the venue’s basement area. The basement contained all of the facility’s life safety systems and almost 30 percent of the air handling units. In addition, during the process of identifying the extent of the damage, workers found floodwater had permeated wall cavities in the basement and contaminated insulation. Structural steel columns in the basement also were compromised and insulation located inside the columns were contaminated. Finally, the majority of the electrical conduits located in the basement were damaged and will require replacement.

McStravick said the process of surveying and accounting for the damage the floodwaters caused has been a time-consuming one, complicated by the limited space in the basement that prevents a large group of workers from tackling the project simultaneously. Houston First previously had announced a best-case opening date of May 2018. As the scope of the damage became more clear, however, the organization pushed it back to September.

The Wortham Center largely escaped major repair needs to its performance areas. However, the flooding caused extensive damage to the Houston Grand Opera’s costume shop and wig and makeup departments, resulting in the loss of the majority of its wig stock and most of its footwear and millinery, said Perryn Leech, managing director of the Houston Grand Opera. In addition, Leech said, the company lost two vehicles. He estimated the opera’s total financial losses at approximately $6.6 million.

Both the Houston Grand Opera and the Houston Ballet were able to find alternative, temporary venues. The ballet is performing primarily at the Smart Financial Centre at Sugar Land, a concert hall outside of Houston, and the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts, McStravick said. The opera was unable to find a venue that could both meet its technical needs and be available for the extended time it needed. Instead, the company built a temporary theater in an exhibit hall at the George R. Brown Convention Center, which Houston First also operates.

Leech said the opera was “thrilled” to find the temporary space in such difficult circumstances.

“We have been fortunate to relocate almost all of our season to this hall, which we have named HGO Resilience Theater, without changing or losing any performances,” Leech said. “We are still waiting to hear about the spring productions, but are hoping that we can stay in the GRB through that period.”  

McStravick said the Wortham Center was the large venue in Houston hit hardest by Harvey. Other large venues took some damages but were able to reopen. For instance, the Alley Theatre, an indoor theater located downtown, reopened Nov. 24. Jones Hall for the Performing Arts, which Houston First also operates, had water in its basement but was back to hosting performances in October. In addition, Houston First reopened the Theater District underground parking garages on Nov. 23 — floodwaters had filled the garage’s three levels with more than 270 million gallons of water.

Carolyn Campbell, director of communications for Houston First, said strong philanthropic and community support for the Wortham Center and the Houston arts community at large has provided a boost. Among other ongoing efforts, individuals and organizations have contributed to a recovery fund designated for arts programs in the area.

“I’ve just never seen the kind of cooperation and cohesiveness that I’ve seen after Harvey,” Campbell said. “It’s been an attitude of as one group goes, so goes the entire Theater District. It’s required everyone to work together and be exceptionally patient, and they’ve done that to help each other out.”

Leech said the opera has benefited from that type of community-mindedness through its travails.

“We have had tremendous support from our neighbors and colleagues in the cultural community,” Leech said. “The Hobby Center volunteered to host our computer servers and customer care team, and we were able to use rehearsal space in Bayou Place, Opera in the Heights, St. Mark’s Church, and Rice University’s Shepherd School, among others. Recently, one of our board members has given us the use of a building he owns that was formerly a YWCA. This is tremendously helpful for rehearsals and coachings.”

McStravick said it is too early to provide an estimate for the total cost of the recovery effort at the Wortham Center. The work will include identifying how floodwater created so much havoc and pursuing mitigation improvements that could help prevent a repeat of the event. McStravick said Houston First will consider whether it can make any improvements identified in its 2015 master plan while it is unable to stage performances, but he said the organization will not risk any nonessential projects that could delay the opening beyond Sept. 1.

“We don’t want to be sidelined by improvements that could take place afterward,” he said. “This work is about getting the opera and the ballet back in that building as fast as possible so that things are back to normal again.”

 


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Goldstar’s Boost Increases Awareness
 
Posted: 5 Dec 2017, 8:05 pm

Goldstar's Boost allows event organizers to buy prominent placement in e-blasts.

According to Jim McCarthy, founder and CEO, Goldstar, the number one challenge for the live entertainment industry is awareness. “Marketing is more fragmented than ever, making it harder and harder to get the word out,” said McCarthy. “People can’t buy tickets to something they don’t know is happening.”

McCarthy said that Goldstar’s data suggests that 80 percent of ticket buyers were unaware of the event they eventually purchased a ticket for on the discount ticket-buying platform.

Goldstar’s events are listed organically, based on an algorithm that uses previous purchase data. The service sends out emails on a daily, weekly or monthly basis depending on the preference of the customer. In that email, 15 events that are in proximity of the receiver are displayed.

“In big markets there are hundreds of shows that are geographically close,” said McCarthy. “The top 15  are determined by the algorithm which uses how long an event has been listed, user likes and dislikes and other factors to pick the 15 events listed on the e-blast.”

Goldstar’s new Boost product allows a client to “buy a better position in that list,” explained McCarthy. “We only boost a listing that’s already on your list. If your event is 18-down and you want to get into the 15 events we list in an email, Boost allows you to move your event up.”

It works like this: A client self-automates a boost by going onto the Goldstar platform and creating a campaign in the client portal. The supplier picks the number of emails they want to have their event boosted in, where geographically the boosts should be placed and how long they want the campaign to last. It costs $5 dollars per 1,000 boosts.

McCarthy said that boosting, much like an event organizer can do on Facebook, provides many benefits. “Event operators get prominent placement in our emails and get sent to likely buyers,” he said. “They can also target Goldstar members in additional markets, outside of the venue’s city, to suit long-term plans and tours.”

Center Theatre Group, Los Angeles, used the service to create awareness for their production of “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.”

dog.jpgGoldstar's Boost product increased awareness and sales for L.A.'s Ahmanson Theatre production of "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time."

“Our goal was to further increase awareness of the show which was in the middle of a successful run,” said Arie Levine, senior marketing manager, Center Theatre Group. “We wanted to finish the run on a high note and thought we’d try out Boost as a way to get there.”

“We determined a budget internally and picked how many days we wanted to run the boost. Setting up the boost was super easy,” she said. “Results were impressive. We saw sales go up dramatically the first day we did it and they continued to go up everyday we ran the boost.”

Goldstar also shared data with Levine. “We were featured in 302,291 emails; pageviews increased 45 percent during the boost and unique visits increased 31 percent.”

“At the end of the day, we sold more tickets compared to days without the boost,” she said. Center Theatre Group was so impressed with the results from their first boosting experience that used the system for their next four shows.

“We've definitely see it be a positive return on investment,” she said. “It’s a valuable tool.”

The Boost product was rolled out in August. McCarthy said that while Boost is still relatively new, “the revenue generated from the product is substantial already” and he expects that given time to create awareness of the product, and after proving the results to suppliers, he expects the revenue to be “a significant part of our future business.”

Goldstar has 5,000 venue partners. Their headquarters is in Pasadena, Calif., and the
15-year-old ticket discounter has about 100 employees.


 


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Caesars To Open New Vegas Convention Center
 
Posted: 5 Dec 2017, 6:25 pm

Caesars Forum, a new $375 million convention center, will open in 2020.

Caesars Entertainment (Caesars) has committed to building a new major player in the Las Vegas convention scene. The $375-million facility will feature 300,000 sq. ft. of meeting space and be adjacent to Harrah’s Hotel & Casino and The Linq Hotel & Casino and will be called Caesars Forum.

“We know that we want more meetings business in town,” said Michael Massari, chief sales officer, Caesars Entertainment. “It’s a great customer for us; business travelers really contribute to our success as a company.”

Massari cited Harrah’s, The Linq and Flamingo Hotel, all owned by Caesars, all which currently have a limited amount of meeting space, as the impetus for the new convention center. “We wanted to build meeting space that those properties could enjoy the benefits from,” he said.

The 1.8-acre property owned by Caesars, is currently a parking lot and next to the decked-out High Roller Ferris wheel, also owned by the company. Even though Caesars owns the real estate, the deal is structured in a sell-and-lease-back construct where Caesars will sell the property to VICI Properties and lease it back.

Caesars will get a cash infusion of $1.14 billion from the sale, which will also include Caesars acquiring two properties — Hoosier Park Racing and Casino, Anderson, Ind.,  and Indiana Grand Racing and Casino, Shelbyville — and adding them to its portfolio.

“We expect the sale and leaseback will allow us to acquire and develop the convention center without increasing leverage,” said Caesars President and CEO Mark Frissora in a statement. “The acquisition of the adjacent land to Harrah’s and development of the convention center allows us to develop another important destination right in the middle of our center-Strip-footprint.”

The space will include “the two largest ballrooms ever built,” said Massari. The pillarless ballrooms will each be 108,000-sq.-ft. and will be outfitted with high-end carpeting, chandeliers and wall sconces. “The ballrooms will be massive and large enough to hold almost any event such as general sessions, breakouts, meal functions and exhibit space.” Two junior ballrooms will be 40,000 sq.-ft. each and several boardrooms will also be built. The outside plaza will be 100,000 sq. ft.

Construction will start at the end of the first quarter of 2018 and Ceasars Forum is slated to open in 2020. “We’re already taking reservations,” said Massari. Friedmutter Group and PENTA Building Group have been selected as the architect and general contractor, respectively. The building will cost $375 million and Massari said they are hoping to attract “meetings of all size. The objective was to build something large and flexible.”

The meeting space is being designed to gather 1,000-6,000 at a time, but Massari envisions meetings of thousands, hundreds or even 10 or 20 attendees. Concessions will be  run in-house by Caesars.

Reina Herschdorfer, director of marketing, meetings and events, Caesars, said that the company is “excited about getting into the convention center space.” She echoed Massari’s sentiments that the new space will be “for every size event” and expects the business to be split 50/50 between large and small events. “We have some customers that have outgrown our current meeting space and we really wanted to offer them a space.”

The latest technology will be a big part of the new venue, according to Herschdorfer. “We’ll have free WiFi, charging stations and everything the modern convention-goer expects.”

The project is expected to generate nearly 1,000 local construction-phase jobs and over 450 permanent jobs once completed.

 


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Hot Tickets for December 6, 2017
 
Posted: 5 Dec 2017, 2:35 pm

Stevie Nicks performed her 24 Karat Gold tour at Frank Erwin Center, Austin, Texas. (Photo Credit: Gary Miller)

Stevie Nicks’ 24 Karat Gold Tour made its way to Sydney’s International Convention Centre for two near-capacity shows, Nov. 7-8, grossing a total of $1.2 million. With the Pretenders as the opening act, the nearly 12,000 fans in attendance were treated to a no-nonsense, hit-filled opening set. Once Nicks hit the stage, she informed the crowd that it would be an evening of stories and Rock and Roll; she then reflected on the recent passing of her long-time collaborator and good friend Tom Petty sharing stories of their time together throughout her two-and-a-half hour set. The Pretenders and Nicks will be at KeyArena, Seattle, Dec. 11.

The Trans-Siberian Orchestra kicked off the holiday season with two sold-out shows at the Mohegun Sun Arena, Uncasville, Conn., Nov. 26, wowing the crowds with pyrotechnics, giant video screens, lasers, faux falling snow and dazzling Christmas music. Both shows grossed a combined $771,000 with over 14,000 fans in attendance. The rock orchestra tells a story with their music titled The Ghosts of Christmas Eve; they use rock music as their inspiration while adding in elements of classical music and heavy metal. The visually stunning live event will be at the Jacksonville (Fla.) Veterans Memorial Arena Dec. 14.
 

HOT TICKETS is a weekly summary of the top acts and ticket sales as reported to VT PULSE. Following are the top 20 concerts and events, the top 5 in each seating capacity category, which took place between Nov. 7-Dec. 5.

15,001 or More Seats

10,001-15,000 Seats

5,001-10,000 Seats

5,000 or Fewer Seats

1) Cirque du Soliel - Septimo Dia
Gross Sales: $2,153,966; Venue: Arena Monterrey (Mexico); Attendance: 62,278; Ticket Range: $117.37-$26.08; Promoter: Zignia Live; Dates: Oct. 19-Nov. 29; No. of Shows: 12

2) Gloria Trevi vs Alejandra Guzman
Gross Sales: $1,982,086; Venue: Arena Monterrey (Mexico); Attendance: 42,000; Ticket Range: $241.78-$10.75; Promoter: Zignia Live; Dates: Nov. 23-25; No. of Shows: 3

3) Lady GaGa
Gross Sales: $1,615,820; Venue: Philips Arena, Atlanta; Attendance: 11,958; Ticket Range: $230-$50; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Nov. 28; No. of Shows: 1

4) Dead & Company
Gross Sales: $1,479,555; Venue: Frank Erwin Center, Austin, Texas; Attendance: 11,700; Ticket Range: $150-$50; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Dec. 2; No. of Shows: 1

5) Foo Fighters
Gross Sales: $1,286,716; Venue: Wells Fargo Arena, Des Moines, Iowa; Attendance: 13,958; Ticket Range: $101.50-$51.50; Promoter: Jam Productions; Dates: Nov. 10; No. of Shows: 1

1) Die Toten Hosen
Gross Sales: $1,596,440; Venue: Hallenstadion, Zurich; Attendance: 26,000; Ticket Range: $76; Promoter: Good News Productions; Dates: Nov. 10; No. of Shows: 1

2) Guns N’ Roses
Gross Sales: $1,157,405; Venue: Valley View Casino Center, San Diego; Attendance: 6,887; Ticket Range: $254-$73; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Nov. 28; No. of Shows: 1

3) James Blunt
Gross Sales: $767,285; Venue: Hallenstadion, Zurich; Attendance: 10,806; Ticket Range: $85-$75; Promoter: abc Production ; Dates: Nov. 9; No. of Shows: 1

4) The Wiggles Wiggly Christmas Big Show
Gross Sales: $731,543; Venue: Perth (Australia) Arena; Attendance: 29,433; Ticket Range: $30.77-$27.71; Promoter: The Wiggles Live; Dates: Nov. 18-19; No. of Shows: 5

5) Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
Gross Sales: $551,449; Venue: Hallenstadion, Zurich; Attendance: 6,801; Ticket Range: $99-$79; Promoter: Opus One; Dates: Nov. 12; No. of Shows: 1

1) Backstreet Boys
Gross Sales: $1,454,946; Venue: The Axis at Planet Hollywood, Las Vegas; Attendance: 9,611; Ticket Range: $294-$34; Promoter: Caesars Entertainment, Live Nation; Dates: Nov. 8-11; No. of Shows: 3

2) Backstreet Boys
Gross Sales: $1,293,128; Venue: The Axis at Planet Hollywood, Las Vegas; Attendance: 9,200; Ticket Range: $294-$34; Promoter: Caesars Entertainment, Live Nation; Dates: Nov. 15-18; No. of Shows: 3

3) Stevie Nicks
Gross Sales: $1,184,867; Venue: ICC Sydney Theatre; Attendance: 11,832; Ticket Range: $154.80-$77.36; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Nov. 7-8; No. of Shows: 2

4) Trans-Siberian Orchestra
Gross Sales: $771,309; Venue: Mohegan Sun Arena, Uncasville, Conn.; Attendance: 14,405; Ticket Range: $64-$44; Promoter: CAA, In-house; Dates: Nov. 26; No. of Shows: 2

5) H-town West Fest
Gross Sales: $538,824; Venue: Smart Financial Centre, Sugar Land, Texas; Attendance: 6,202; Ticket Range: $129.50-$34.50; Promoter: Live Nation, In-house; Dates: Nov. 18; No. of Shows: 1

1) Celine Dion
Gross Sales: $7,504,573; Venue: The Colosseum at Caesars Palace, Las Vegas; Attendance: 45,304; Ticket Range: $500-$55; Promoter: AEG Presents, Caesars Entertainment; Dates: Nov. 7-25; No. of Shows: 11

2) Les Miserables
Gross Sales: $1,139,081; Venue: DeVos Performance Hall, Grand Rapids, Mich.; Attendance: 18,080; Ticket Range: $96-$26.60; Promoter: Broadway Grand Rapids; Dates: Nov. 21-26; No. of Shows: 8

3) Love Never Dies
Gross Sales: $962,497; Venue: Broward Center for the Performing Arts, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; Attendance: 12,150; Ticket Range: $90.25-$35.25; Promoter: In-house, Broadway Across America; Dates: Nov. 14-19; No. of Shows: 8

4) Harry Connick Jr.
Gross Sales: $931,848; Venue: Encore Theater at Wynn, Las Vegas; Attendance: 5,222; Ticket Range: $300-$59.50; Promoter: AEG Presents, In-house; Dates: Nov. 17-Dec. 2; No. of Shows: 4

5) LCD Soundsystem
Gross Sales: $647,613; Venue: Aragon Ballroom, Chicago; Attendance: 13,779; Ticket Range: $47; Promoter: Jam Productions; Dates: Nov. 6-8; No. of Shows: 3

The Weekly Hot Tickets chart is compiled by Monique Potter. To submit reports, e-mail HotTickets@venuestoday.com or fax to (714) 378-0040.

 


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TICKETING TAKES A TEAM IN HOUSTON
 
Posted: 1 Dec 2017, 4:35 pm


THE FIRST THING THAT TICKETING STAR AWARD WINNER DAVID GREENBAUM, DIRECTOR OF TICKETING, NRG PARK, HOUSTON, WANTED TO EXPRESS UPON HEARING HE WON THE HONOR WAS THAT “IT WAS A TEAM EFFORT.” After 37 years in the industry, Greenbaum knows that nothing about running a multipurpose venue is a one¬man job.
A prime example of the teamwork at NRG Park was definitely on display when Hurricane Harvey slammed into the Texas city and lingered for three days, displaced thousands, caused millions of dollars in dam¬age and destroyed homes and facilities.
The carnage began even before the hurri¬cane hit. A sold¬out Coldplay concert was scheduled for the 48,000¬seat venue on Aug. 25, which got canceled the morning of the show.
“The hurricane was due to land sometime late that night,” recalled Greenbaum. “Everything was built, towers were put up, and the band’s equipment was loaded in.
“At noon, the band, the promoter (Live Nation), county officials and SMG, our manage¬ment company, decided to cancel the show. Even though the hurricane wasn’t expected to hit until after the show would have ended, we were con¬cerned that people who were coming from hun¬dreds of miles away wouldn’t get back home safely.
“It was the right decision — but it meant getting the word out to 45,000 people not to come,” he said. “We sent out press releases and got the message out on social media.”
Three days later, the building was turned into an emergency shelter for almost 10,000 hurricane evacuees, the last of whom left three weeks later. “We all pitched in and did what¬
“We all pitched in and did whatever needed to be done. It wasn’t a matter of what your job was; rather it was a case of what job needed to be done.”
DAVID GREENBAUM
DIRECTOR OF TICKETING, NRG PARK, HOUSTON
ever needed to be done,” said Greenbaum. “It wasn’t a matter of what your job was; rather it was a case of what job needed to be done.”
Subsequently, over 20 more shows and events had to be canceled. “Some were ticketed events, others were meetings, and it was hectic trying to make all the pieces of the puzzle fit together.”
Greenbaum’s being modest, it was a huge task, according to Mark Miller, GM, NRG Park. “David did a fantastic job post-Harvey. He oversaw the refunding process for all the canceled events, re¬ticketed the rescheduled events all while looking ahead at the next batch of events. He did it all without a lot of drama, or hand-wringing, and a less experienced per¬son would have buckled.”
“It wasn’t just me,” said Greenbaum.

“Everyone at NRG Park played a part in getting the venue through the crisis and back on track.”
In 2017, NRG Park hosted over 150¬tick-eted events over 200 event days with an atten¬dance of over 800,000. Highlights for the year included Super Bowl LI and the U2 and Metallica world tours.
Hosting a Super Bowl has its own partic-ular ticketing issues. “The National Football League (NFL) handles most of the ticketing,” explained Greenbaum. “The real issue was that the NFL threw up a security perimeter weeks before the actual event, which sealed our ticket office off from the public.”
With tickets to sell for post¬Super Bowl events, Greenbuam came up with a solution:create a satellite box office outside the perimeter.

“We set up a place in one of the parking lots and sectioned off a place for customers to park,” said Greenbaum. “It worked great except that the ticketing staff had to go through a security check every time we needed to get back into the venue. Our golf carts had to be checked, our credentials had to be exam¬ined, and it took a fair bit of time. It was like going into an airport eight times a day.”
“The HURRICANE was due to land sometime late that night. Everything was built, towers were put up, and the band’s equip¬ment was loaded in.” — DAVID GREENBAUM
In addition to overseeing these NRG Park events, Greenbaum also provides support for the Houston Texans NFL team and the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo, the largest fair in North America.
His favorite part of the job is “the day-to¬day challenge of juggling different events,” and his least favorite is “managing the staff and HR issues.” Greenbaum’s ticketing depart¬ment has eight fulltime employees.
Wrapping up, Greenbaum came back to his first thoughts about his job: “This is not a one person award. The entire staff helps me do my job. Without everybody working in the same direction nothing would ever go off as planned.”


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GRaCE WILL MAKE YOU CUSTOMER FRIENDLY
 
Posted: 1 Dec 2017, 4:10 pm

LAST NEW YEAR’S EVE, A PARTY OF
FOUR CAME TO SEE THE FINAL, NOON
PERFORMANCE OF “NUTCRACKER” AT THE KIMMEL CENTER, PHILADELPHIA. But the mother wrote down 2. When the family arrived, there were just eight minutes left of the show.
The usher informed them of the situation and they were devastated. So the usher went to the box office and asked what could be done? In Kimmel’s Merriam Theater, the 2 p.m. matinee of Mamma Mia! was about to start. The usher walked them to the box office and got them in; they were so happy to be able to do something on this New Year’s Eve that they planned. They sent a lovely note about how wonderful the staff at Kimmel Center was.
Just two years ago, that would never have happened.

“That’s a GRaCE moment,” said Linda Forlini, VP, Ticket Philadelphia, who has helmed implementation and training of that customer service program throughout the venue and arts organizations in town. The main lesson taught is that it might not be your fault, but if the customer came to you, it is your responsibility to fix it.
Forlini rolled out the new customer serv¬ice training just prior to that eventful family outing and she is constantly pleased to see the results. Because of that program, Forlini, who swears she’s never won anything despite 32 leadership years in the business and considers herself the Susan Lucci of ticketing because of it, is one of the 2018 Venues Today Ticketing Stars, to be honored at INTIX in Baltimore in January.
Forlini and her team of nine trainers can now say that everyone at Kimmel Center, Philadelphia Orchestra and Pennsylvania Opera is “speaking the same language and understanding the right answer all the time. If you follow the keys, you can’t go wrong,” Forlini said.
GRaCE, which stands for Guest Relations and Campus Experience, includes the Kimmel Center’s Keys to Excellence: Safety first for all patrons, customer care, style (“we want to be a professional”), and efficiency. “The last key is encore, what you do to go above and beyond what we expect from you,” Forlini said.
So far, they have trained over 600 people, including all the front¬facing staff, and the program continues once a month with all new employees and once a year with a refresher course for everyone. It involves eight hours of training in two four¬hour sessions. They retooled it for everybody not touching the cus¬tomer directly, like back office staff, so they would understand that even in finance, if you’re talking to a vendor, that’s your cus¬tomer, she said.
“It doesn’t cost a lot to be nice. You just have to remind people, be nice,” Forlini said. “We say there are three things you have to do
– give customers a warm welcome, fulfill guest’s needs and have a pleasant end to your conversation. You say hello, scan their ticket, show them to their seat, then say enjoy the per¬formance. When they leave, say thank you for being here.”
Customers are expecting a lot more from venues today, Forlini said. “If I have $100 to spend and I choose the Kimmel Center to go to, I’m expecting the world from you. I expect the performance to be good, you to be nice, parking to be good…whatever happens to me going to your venue, I’m expecting the best. We have to deliver every day because that $100 could easily go to the Walnut Theater three blocks away.”

While it’s hard to put a Return On Investment on satisfaction, Ticket Philadelphia is noticing an increase in customers saying someone did something above and beyond, Forlini said. They are banking on customers remembering and telling their friends about the good service and customer care at Kimmel.
GRaCE includes a rewards program for staff members, but it’s more about the change in culture and that requires manage¬ment to focus on employees. “If you have happy and healthy employees in a healthy work environment, they will emit happiness and be pleasant on the phone, in person, in chats. They will be supportive if you’re sup¬porting them,” Forlini has found. To that end, management, including the president, all took this class.
“We talk about GRaCE every day; it’s a continual learning experience for all of us,” she added. They are always looking for that “encore moment.”
For the staff, it’s about understanding you don’t take it personally. An unhappy customer is probably the result of five things that hap¬pened to that customer that day. “Just smile and fix the problem; do whatever you can to make the customer happy,” Forlini advises staff.
“And we’ve stopped blaming people,” Forlini said. There is no more finger pointing to the person who must have done that. “If the person came to you, you need to fix it,” she added.
The biggest challenge for a program like GRaCE is scheduling time. All the trainers have other jobs; all the trainees have other places to be. “We’re so busy all the time, to say I need your new staff member for eight hours is hard,” she admitted. But managers are willing, partially because they are also seeing fewer and fewer problems are escalat¬ed now.
People need tools to respond in a positive way, Forlini said. The staff is given options and empowered to make decisions. “We’ve stopped agreeing with people if they don’t like some¬thing, stopped the negative, and started a dia¬log.”
“For the most part, people are good. They just are,” Forlini believes, probably because that’s how she lives.
A 32¬year veteran of ticketing and a mem-ber of INTIX for 28, Forlini continues to inspire her peers and coworkers.
“Two words, service and generosity, describe Linda,” said Maureen Andersen, pres¬ident and CEO of INTIX. “Linda is the num¬ber one individual donor to INTIX. In addi¬tion, in her personal life that translates over as well. Linda makes a 20-pound Thanksgiving turkey for her staff in her little apartment in Philly and drives it across the street to her employees. Then she goes home and makes five more turkeys for her family and her neigh¬bors. Then she gives nine more turkeys, full meals, to her church.”
“And if I need something at INTIX, she’s the first one to say yes. If a member calls and needs something, the answer is yes. It’s not in her spirit to even entertain that when asked you do not give,” Andersen said.
“Understanding the user experience and wanting it to be the best it can be is not some¬thing new,” Forlini concluded. “Rolling out a program like this is, I think, new.” The first time she experienced it was at the New York Philharmonic in 2013. “Rolling it out to a large campus (five theaters and 9,000 seats to fill each night) like we have done is unique.”
But maybe not for long. “We’ll take GRaCE on the road if anyone’s interested and we’ll tailor it to your venue,” she said, shortly after saying Ticket Philadelphia is her last job. Well, maybe not.
Experience helps in implementing GRaCE. For instance, it’s important there are no repercussions if an employee finds a solu-tion to a problem different from the one you’d choose. You weren’t there, you don’t know the customer’s tone, she noted. But, next time, here are some other tools you might try.
“It’s all about caring,” Forlini concluded. “Treat them like family.”


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TURNING NATURAL PHENOMENON INTO A PICNIC
 
Posted: 1 Dec 2017, 4:00 pm

THE LIGHTS IN THE BALLOONS TWIN¬KLING IN THE PLAZA, THE DROP IN TEMPERATURE, the daytime blackness, and the hush of the crowd all made ticketing the total eclipse of the sun memorable for Crystal Clinton, director, Ticketing System Administrator, Opry Entertainment, Nashville.
If you were going to count down the high¬lights of her career, nothing tops ticketing the Grand Ole Opry in seven different venues downtown for five months after floods sidelined their home venue, but that was 2010. An institu¬tion since 1925, the Opry team wasn’t about to be the first to miss a performance on their watch.
This year, Clinton won as a 2018 Venues Today Ticketing Star not only for that solar eclipse event, but for 20¬plus years of exempla¬ry service and can¬do attitude in a job she sought out.

Clinton began working for Opry Entertainment in the IT department in 1985. A year or so in, the Opry organization decided to write its own ticketing system. Clinton’s job was to work in accounting, “but ticketing was more interesting and fun,” she said. “I nudged my way in, working on accounting part time, and eventually I was able to move directly into the ticketing team.”
Her original assignment was ticketing for Opryland Theme Park, which closed in 1997, and the General Jackson showboat. “Eventually, we convinced the Opry that we could do ticketing better with a computer than they could by hand, though they didn’t want to believe it,” she remembered. “They were hard pressed to believe we could possibly do better than they could. It converted to computerized ticketing in 1989.”
In 2006, they moved her out of the IT department into business because they were getting away from in¬house written systems and going to worldwide mobile products with vendors like AudienceView.
Her three person department has a label – Ticketing – but basically they do what every¬one needs them to do in as innovative a way as possible. “Ticketing from my perspective is service oriented,” Clinton said.
That may be why the Total Solar Eclipse was such a kick. Nashville happened to be the biggest city in the direct path of totality, and Opry Entertainment knew it needed to jump on the opportunity.
For ticketing it meant more shows, includ¬ing two on Sunday when the Grand Ole Opry is normally dark, and a Monday morning picnic to view the event from the Opry Plaza. The five shows over three days drew 18,000 fans, many of whom bought the Solar Eclipse “package,” which included a commemorative T¬shirt, poster and special glasses to view the eclipse.
“It was great, but it’s a one time thing. It’s not like the Opry birthday that happens every October so you can enhance it and make it better each time. This is kind of one¬and¬done,” Clinton said.
Opry personnel companywide were with the people on the plaza picking up trash and passing out hot dogs and hamburgers. “You do whatever you need to do. That’s what makes this a fun place to work,” said the 28¬year vet¬eran. Her primary job was to keep up with inventory on the merchandise for the eclipse. No one knew how many guests to expect.
At the time, Aug. 21, the world was wracked by riots and violence. Security was heightened for the event, especially since total darkness was imminent if brief. Clinton was able to stop for a couple of minutes on that 100¬degree day and watch, feeling the temperature drop 15 degrees and seeing the twinkling lights in the balloons they had placed around the plaza so people wouldn’t trip and fall.
Over the four¬day weekend, they held five Opry Shows, hosting over 18,000 guests. Over 5,600 of them took an Opry Backstage Tour, and thousands spent Monday picnicking on the plaza donning their Opry Eclipse T¬shirts, dancing to the live music, playing corn hole and life¬size con¬nect 4, and visiting with newly¬made friends. Kids enjoyed face¬painting, sno-cones and kettle corn.
“It was amazing,” Clinton said.
Clinton has learned a lot from her men-tors, including her former boss Debbie Ballentine, who retired after 43 years with Opry Entertainment, and Maureen Andersen, CEO of INTIX, who showed Clinton the essence of enthusiasm and knowledge. It’s also hard to say no to Andersen, which led to Clinton’s biggest challenge — chairing the INTIX silent auction committee.
Under Clinton’s watch, the silent auction morphed into a live auction and tripled fundrais¬ing, from $5,000 to $15,000 the first year, 2015.
Clinton’s two¬year term on the fundrais¬ing committee is now done, and her leadership style led to the board taking on the project because it is so big now. But guess who’s on site in charge again when INTIX meets in Baltimore in January? Andresen.
“Crystal is just this amazing person of commitment and grace. If she says yes to some¬thing, she follows through at 150 percent,” Andersen said.
“What’s graceful is if she doesn’t some-thing, she has the sense of self that she can say I don’t know and I need help.”


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ANDREW BRAGMAN READIES FOR THE ALL-STAR GAME
 
Posted: 1 Dec 2017, 4:00 pm

ANDREW BRAGMAN ENCOURAGES HIS TEAM TO MAKE GUESTS SMILE AS THEY GREET TICKET HOLDERS ENTERING NATIONALS PARK IN WASHINGTON, D.C.
“I want a welcoming face at the front door,” Bragman said. “They have to make a positive first impression. It’s the first person that a lot of people are going to see (when they enter the stadium). We have people from all over the country and the world visiting. We’re setting someone up to have a great time at the ballpark.”
Bragman was chosen by his peers as a Venues Today 2018 Ticketing Star for his work ethic and accomplishments.
He had a successful 2017, overseeing tick¬eting for the 81¬game season and post season for Major League Baseball’s Nationals. Bragman also is in charge of concert tickets at Nationals Park and was promoted to the vice president of ticket operations and sales opti¬mization at the Washington Nationals Baseball Club.
“With his most recent promotion he is also taking on additional duties in analytics for ticket marketing. Andrew has worked in pro¬fessional baseball ticketing and SMG arenas for close to 15 years, the last two and a half with the Washington Nationals, during which time he has been promoted three times: from director to senior director to executive director to VP,” stated his nomination form for Box Office Star (renamed Ticketing Star).
The next 12 months are set to bring new heights to his career as he helps the 41,000¬seat Nationals Park prepare to host Major League Baseball’s All¬Star game on July 17, 2018.
The All¬Star game is one of the reasons
“It’s one of the reasons I’m here. Knowing the All¬Star game was going to Washington in 2018, it was probably a once in a lifetime opportunity to be a part of that.”
ANDREW BRAGMAN
VICE PRESIDENT, TICKET OPERATIONS WASHINGTON NATIONALS BASEBALL CLUB
Bragman left his position as the director of ticket operations for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2015.
“It’s one of the reasons I’m here. Knowing the All¬Star game was going to Washington in 2018, it was probably a once in a lifetime opportunity to be a part of that,” Bragman said.
His boss, Mike Shane, the senior vice president for consumer revenue for the Washington Nationals, thinks highly of Bragman, his work and his ability to run a top notch ticketing operation.
“The only reason I’m able to sleep at night is knowing that he’s on top of it,” Shane said. “Until you’ve been a part of an All¬Star Game, you don’t really know what goes into it… you have to execute it flawlessly. You only get one chance. Of all the things I worry about, the execution of ticketing is never one of them and that completely applies to Andrew.”

“I’ve been in sports for 15¬plus years; as far as I can tell, he’s the best in the business,” Shane said. “Not only his knowledge base, he knows the industry inside and out. He’s disci¬plined himself to know all the aspects. He’s very, very smart, but that doesn’t keep him from applying himself to learn more.”

He’s worked in ticket operations since 2004, starting at the Fresno Grizzlies in California where he eventually became the director of tickets. He then was hired at Oracle Arena and Oakland Alameda Country Coliseum, an SMG¬managed facility.
“I was the box office manager, and he was the assistant box office manager. Andrew was my first official employee. I had never been a manager before,” said Chris Convery, who is now the box office manager for SMG in Philadelphia. “Andrew loves everything. He’s just a really smart guy. He didn’t look at things from the normal point of view.”
“He puts himself in the fans’ shoes,” he said. “He’s always looking to find ways to make himself better from the customer’s point of view and for the fan experience.”
It goes back to the Golden Rule, Convery said.
Bragman adopted Convery’s management style, especially when it comes to hiring people he can trust.
“In the world of ticketing, we’re dealing with assets and tickets,” Bragman said. “It’s a lot of money. I trust my staff; I have a lot of faith in them here. I was really lucky with the people that I had as managers and mentors along the way. I’m a big believer in having rela¬tionships with my team and throughout the organization.”
Bragman always is listening to colleagues and working to improve all aspects of the ball¬park.
“He really looks out for the good of the organization and all the initiatives we’re rolling out and makes sure they’re all executed the best that they can be,” Shane said. “He’s not there to wine and dine and have fun, he’s there to learn.”
As Bragman prepares for the All¬Star Game and a few big concerts at Nationals Park in 2018, he always reminds himself and his team to stop and smell the roses.
“Walk out to the stadium and make sure you take a few minutes to enjoy it,” Bragman said.


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From Zenner's To Tillamook, Local Sells
 
Posted: 1 Dec 2017, 3:50 pm

REPORTING FROM PORTLAND, ORE. — Walking the concourses in Portland’s Moda Center or Providence Park shouldn’t bring fans away from the eclectic vibe of Portland, Ore. It should bring fans closer to it, which is why both venues have embraced Portland in all its weirdness and pushed an ultra¬local, intensely Portland feel inside the venues’ food and beverage scene. And they’ve had success because of it.

The most dramatic change comes at Moda Center, the 22-year¬old home of the National Basketball Association’s Trail Blazers. When Levy Restaurants took over the concessions for the building in 2013, they revamped the tired corporate feel of the food and beverage service, bringing in local favorites—Moda Center now has nine popular Portland¬area eateries inside the venue—and turning the concourse into a Portland¬esque feel.

“What we are trying to say is we are Portland,” Jessica Helms, Levy’s executive chef at Moda Center, told Venues Today. “We are who we are. Portland is weird and we like it that way. It is special and unique.”

Providence Park's food and beverage supplier, Centerplate, took on a similar challenge, but had a different approach. The historic 1926 downtown stadium underwent a remodel in time for the 2011 Major League Soccer season, the first for the Portland Timbers. The club, moving up from a smaller league, brought with it an intensely loyal fan base that demand¬ed inclusion. That inclusion stretched to con-cessions, where the Timbers have partnered with local purveyors to fill the stadium with recognizable Portland brands and even embraced the city’s popular food cart scene. In an agreement with the Food Cart Alliance, the Timbers have fans vote to help them choose which Portland food carts to invite into the stadium in a special location, rotating between a handful of popular shops throughout the season.

The Portland feel for the Moda Center starts outside the 19,000¬capacity arena at Dr. Jack’s, a pub within the Rose Quarter campus operated by Levy, but without the constraints of in¬arena sponsorship. Open three hours before tip¬off, the restaurant remains 100 per¬cent event¬based, tied to both the Moda Center and adjacent Veterans Memorial Coliseum, also operated by Levy. Inside Jack’s, the beer on tap doesn’t have to follow the sponsors inside the venue, allowing for an ever-revolving mixture of seasonal and trendy craft choices.

Inside Moda, Charles Jones, Levy’s vice president of hospitality strategy in Portland, told Venues Today the concourse transforma¬tion had one goal: represent the city. Levy went into the community to find the best providers of burgers, pizzas, sandwiches and more, bringing in the likes of Killer Burger, Sizzle Pie, Salt & Straw ice cream, Bunk Sandwiches, Ruby Jewel and Daddy D’s BBQ.

Helms said having a mix of Levy-operat¬ed spots and community¬run locales actually helps her operate at a more efficient level. And by partnering with the local purveyors on a revenue-sharing deal, Levy doesn’t lose out on the popularity.

But it wasn’t that Levy just wanted the locals to have all the Portland fun. It wanted in on the action, too. Helms partnered with Zenner’s, located in downtown Portland, to furnish all the hot dogs. She also worked with a local meat provider to develop a custom grind for Moda Center for all hamburgers sold out of the Levy¬run Crafters concessions on multiple levels. She went back¬and¬forth before finding the perfect mix.

“Everywhere you turn in the stadium it is a chance to CELEBRATE and taste the amazing food and beverage scene happening in Portland.” — MIKE GOLUB

“We are not buying mass¬produced stuff,” Jones said. “Portland embraced us right away and the partners love being here.”

Michael Lewellen, Trail Blazers vice president of communications and public engagement, told Venues Today they fully backed the effort, so much so they underwent a $13¬million upgrade to Moda Center that included bringing cooking gas into the conces¬sion areas as part of an arena overhaul. And he hears all the time how fans enjoy the experi¬ence of a local restaurant inside the venue.

The Trail Blazers don’t release per cap figures, but Jones said that the change in con¬cession strategy saw a marked increase in rev¬enue, even though buying locally was rarely cheaper. That same spend¬more, make¬more mindset pushed Levy to increase wages for its concession workers. With the robust Portland job market and unstable hours of an arena food worker, Jones said they were spending exorbi¬tantly on temps, losing time training them along the way. And Helms worried about quality with such high turnover. Between the 2015¬16 season and the 2016¬17 season, Levy raised average hourly wages by eight percent for positions and 15.4 percent for cashiers. During that same time, Levy jumped nearly 11 percent in per caps for NBA games while reducing its variable labor cost, as a percentage of sales, by
12.5 percent.

With the strategy locked down, it became all about the experience. The main concourse features the 10 Barrel Taproom, bringing a popular Portland pub into to Moda Center. With 15 rotat¬ing items on the menu, but always with signatures such as the steak nachos on housemade potato chips, the same served in the pub. Not far away sits the Adelsheim¬run Local Cork for those interested in local wines.

The 100 level contains the most diverse mix of concessions, from the famed PB Pickled Bacon Burger from Killer Burger to Levy’s Fowl Language hand¬dipped chicken tenders and
loaded fries to hand¬torched s’mores via Nineteen27 to Plum Tasty, a partnership between the arena and its naming sponsor, Moda Health, to ensure healthy options per¬meate the venue, all housemade choices for vegans, vegetarians or healthy seekers. “We see their doctors in here all the time and it was a very exciting collaboration for me,” Helms said. “It is a great opportunity.”
The 100 level doesn’t stop there, with Levy’s Hook/Line, an all¬local oyster bar in the middle of the arena (plus, the Dynamite Shrimp Banh Mi offers up a top-notch Portland favorite and one of the best items in the venue).

The 300 level doesn’t lose out either, with The Pines bar enjoying a vista over the city, special Zenner’s sausages only available on the 300 level and a housemade pretzel only found upstairs. The kid zone includes root beer on tap.

For premium seating, which makes up about 40 percent of the concessions when suites, clubs (at 15 percent), catering and VIP events all add in, Levy includes a few extras too, all designed to give local, housemade diversity in an ever¬evolving menu that keeps the menu fresh.
From 10 Barrel to 300¬level concessions, Moda Center serves up four craft beers and one craft cider, with local crafts accounting for 70 percent of all arena beer sales.

Experiencing the food and beverage scene of Portland well before joining Major League Soccer (MLS) allowed the Timbers to launch a brand steeped in community, Mike Golub, Timbers president of business, told Venues Today. “We need to be truly authentic of the people and by the people of Portland,” he said. “That has always been our credo.”

“Everywhere you turn in the stadium it is a chance to celebrate and taste the amazing food and beverage scene happening in Portland,” he said. “It feels like Portland. You would know very quickly that this is Portland.”

The first food partnership for the Timbers came with Tillamook, serving up everything from grilled cheese sandwiches to ice cream and yogurt.
Ben Forsythe, Centerplate’s general man-ager of food and beverage, leverages that part¬nership into something fun with a specialty quesadilla of every match. Sometimes he mixes in special loaded tots, too. He’s served up everything from a Pho Rito’dilla with his spin on pho inside a quesadilla to loaded tots packed with Tillamook, Zenner’s bacon and more.
That Tillamook partnership extends to yogurt for fruit dips in premium areas or the cheddar for loaded tots, not even counting the cheeseburgers and grilled cheese. “It allows us to do anything and add some local flavor,” Forsythe said.

The Timbers also partnered with Bunk Sandwiches, Garden Bar, Zenner’s (located less than half a mile from the stadium), 2 Towns Ciderhouse, Eatin’ Alive and plenty others. “We keep it fresh and we keep it revolving,” Golub said. “Portlanders have a refined palate and crafts accounting for 70 percent of all arena beer sales.

PROVIDENCE PARK
Experiencing the food and beverage scene of Portland well before joining Major League Soccer (MLS) allowed the Timbers to launch a brand steeped in community, Mike Golub, Timbers president of business, told Venues Today. “We need to be truly authentic of the people and by the people of Portland,” he said. “That has always been our credo.”
“Everywhere you turn in the stadium it is a chance to celebrate and taste the amazing food and beverage scene happening in Portland,” he said. “It feels like Portland. You would know very quickly that this is Portland.”
The first food partnership for the Timbers came with Tillamook, serving up everything from grilled cheese sandwiches to ice cream and yogurt.
Ben Forsythe, Centerplate’s general man-ager of food and beverage, leverages that part¬nership into something fun with a specialty quesadilla of every match. Sometimes he mixes in special loaded tots, too. He’s served up everything from a Pho Rito’dilla with his spin on pho inside a quesadilla to loaded tots packed with Tillamook, Zenner’s bacon and more.
That Tillamook partnership extends to yogurt for fruit dips in premium areas or the cheddar for loaded tots, not even counting the cheeseburgers and grilled cheese. “It allows us to do anything and add some local flavor,” Forsythe said.

The Timbers also partnered with Bunk Sandwiches, Garden Bar, Zenner’s (located less than half a mile from the stadium), 2 Towns Ciderhouse, Eatin’ Alive and plenty others. “We keep it fresh and we keep it revolving,” Golub said. “Portlanders have a refined palate and discriminating taste. More than anything they have this really palatable affinity for all things local. It is a big reason why sports teams like the Blazers and us have gotten the support we have. That huge civic pride and identity extends to the food and bev¬erage experience.”

That buy¬in goes both ways, as Golub said when fans don’t feel the Timbers have the right beers on tap, they let them know, setting a high bar.
With every Timbers home game ever played a sell¬out in the 21,000¬cpacity venue and 13,000 more on the season-ticket waiting list looking forward to a 4,000¬seat expansion set to open in 2019, the Timbers get a lot of repeat season-ticket holders. “It means we have to keep delivering and surprising and introducing new things,” Golub said. “People are coming repeatedly.”
The Food Cart Alliance literally brings Alder Street flavor and drops it in the stadium, an experience Forsythe hopes to expand in the future. In the meantime, Centerplate aims to replicate that atmosphere throughout the con¬course, whether fun with Tillamook¬topped tots or the variety of offerings that mimic what you’d find on the streets of Portland in four Centerplate¬run carts on the east side.
In a constant effort to keep things fresh and bring in as many local establishments as possible, sometimes restaurants make a one¬time showing. Recently, the amazingly popu¬lar Pine State Biscuits offered its biscuits to Providence Park, where Forsythe created his take on the popular Reggie Deluxe from the restaurant, using Tillamook cheese and fried chicken. “Fans loved them,” he said.

Forsythe said the fans of the Timbers expect Portland quality and experiences every time, helping push him to create. And the Timbers support him, he said, giving him free¬dom to do so. With the historic stadium’s seat¬ing arrangement meaning only 15 percent of overall take gets generated from premium, food and beverage remains driven by the main concourse. That doesn’t mean the premium doesn’t get a little extra touch, though, such as the food cart they order from just outside the venue and bring into suites or club buffets that includes live shucking of oysters.

In keeping with a Portland trend, craft beer outsells domestic four to one inside Providence Park and every stand features at least half craft offerings, not even counting the craft beer bar with 45 rotating taps.

Throughout the experiences in Portland’s two major sports venues, the goal remains the same: Retain the essence of Portland, especially at the concourse level. “This is not,” Helms said, “arena food.”
 


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A NEW ERA IN NBA ARENAS
 
Posted: 1 Dec 2017, 3:45 pm

Abcity with the National change all that in 2019, all while allowing an Complex, moving the team out of the 1988¬Basketball Association’s NBA team to move from the league’s oldest opened BMO Harris Bradley Center, and the (NBA) third¬oldest arena gets arena into its newest. Golden State Warriors plan to vacate the 1966¬a fresh start in 2018. And the As the Milwaukee Bucks look to a opened Oracle Arena in Oakland to cross the largest U.S. city without an September 2018 opening of the yet¬unnamed Bay Bridge and return to San Francisco in the arena over 12,000 capacity will Milwaukee Sports and Entertainment brand¬new Chase Center for late summer 2019, the two arenas do more than house bas¬ketball. They also propel forward arena design, and thus operations, across the country.

MILWAUKEE
Raj Saha, general manager of the Bucks’ arena and head of programming, says working with Icon Venue Group has kept the downtown project on path for an opening within a greater district that includes a new team training facil¬ity and mixed use. With construction on sched¬ule in Milwaukee on the 17,500¬capacity, $524¬million project owned by the Wisconsin Center District—the Bucks serve as the master lease holders—arena designer Brad Clark of Kansas City¬based Populous says the design builds unique arena experiences on the east end of the venue.
By aggregating the bulk of premium spaces on multiple levels from the event floor to the upper¬most level, Clark opens viewer experiences toward the stage on the opposite side when concerts roll into town. The design also connects each level to the seven¬story atri¬um that includes views back toward down¬town.
“You are going to have a good view of the playing floor for Bucks games, but also for end¬stage concerts,” he says. “It makes those spaces powerful and gives them an opportunity to look to the city beyond. It makes this build¬ing about transparency and community.”
The premium—excluding a few suites on the sidelines—includes stacking event-level club, which includes access to players as they come on and off the floor, a mezzanine club above that, a suite level (the building contains 34 suites), a loge club with space for 144 loge seats and a Panorama Club above the upper concourse that includes an exterior balcony perched above the entry looking toward the city and Lake Michigan. “There is a lot of energy on that end of the building,” Clark says. With the clubs located on the east end, visitors will still travel through vomitory entrances to reach sideline seats.
The loge seats mimic theater box¬style seating with immediate access to dining tables and a larger club space behind that opens to the atrium. The Panorama Club isn’t a premium amenity, opening to hold up to 900¬ticketed fans with rail seats and casual seating through¬out, a “really cool space at the top of the build¬ing,” Saha says. Clark says Panorama will serve as a key space to perform double¬duty as rental space during non¬event days.
“Every one of these venues is looking to fill as many event days as they can,” he says. “The Bucks and Marquette University can only play so many games and you can only get so many concerts. We are always looking for ways to get double use or triple use out of clubs or congregational spaces within the building.” Located directly off the lobby on the east end, Panorama and clubs have easy vertical circula¬tion for daily use.
Moving premium spaces to the east also opened up the bowl, allowing for about 10,000 seats in the lower bowl and creating in-demand seating options and healthier price point options for the team. Bradley Center has just north of 5,000 lower bowl tickets.

The concourse creates a mostly open view to the bowl to not separate fans from the action. The north side remains completely open with concessions pushed toward the perimeter and drink rails spanning the entire sideline. The lower concourse features a spon¬sored bar at each of the corners. Still, though, portions of the concourse close off to the bowl. “The building has two different personalities depending on how you want to interact with it,” Clark says. “To the extent we could, we wanted to open up the bowl.” The south side of the upper concourse will offer a Milwaukee Public Market¬style food kiosk row featuring local shops.
Designed with basketball sightlines, instead of hockey, as in Bradley Center, Saha says fans pull closer to the court in their wider, more comfortable seats.

For the back of house, Saha says they not only wanted to create more space in the 730,000¬sq.¬ft. venue for locker rooms and operations, but also to entice concerts into the venue with six fully¬enclosed loading docks and artist rooms with singular temperature and lighting controls. “We went to everyone on the music side and asked what they wanted to see,” Saha says.

Saha has spent years traveling to North America to experience what arenas have to offer, finding everything from the need to include ample wall protection in the backstage area to ensure the building remains fresh for years and opening up the box office into a hotel concierge style for a fan-friendly and modern design.
By operating the building, the Bucks will also have the opportunity to increase sponsor¬ship revenue by merging together both build¬ing and team sponsorships into one bundle, increasing valuation, Saha says.
SAN FRANCISCO
While discussions continue in Seattle about what a renovated KeyArena could potentially do for the city’s NBA future and the Los Angeles Clippers have announced intentions to build a new arena in Inglewood and vacate Staples Center, the only other concrete NBA arena coming on line is Chase Center on the bay in San Francisco.
The only privately financed arena or sta¬dium built on private property, the $1 billion project includes the arena, training center, two office towers, 100,000 square feet of leasable restaurant and retail space and a 3.5¬acre pub¬lic plaza on the 11¬acre waterfront site.
Designer David Manica, Manica Architecture, says the level of finishes will be unlike other arenas, making the venue feel like a “five¬star hospitality” destination, from clubs, lounges and suites to the concourse area. “The building is going to be really beautiful inside and out,” he told Venues Today.
Optimized for basketball sightlines with a compact, intimate design, Manica incorporates a variety of spectator experiences. The first seats on the floor put spectator feet directly on the maple hardwood and give that first row its own club. The next five rows, still courtside, have another club, giving the Warriors two types of seating with two clubs before even leaving the floor.

Add in 32 courtside lounges tucked behind the seating that don’t offer a view of the court but feature a double¬height space with LED wall screen and shared wine cellar and the courtside amenities offer variety.
The sidelines include typical club seats amid the 18,000¬seat venue. The horseshoe of 44 suites was designed for optimized sightlines for the court and end-stage concerts. Just above the suites, 60 theater boxes look just like tradi¬tional theater boxes with actual furniture seat-ing, a dedicated dining table and a large lounge.
The viewing options don’t stop with the upper deck, as bridge viewing and standing room areas hover above the floor and a skybar lounge includes views to the court. At the very top of the building, without views to the court, but with views over the bay, onto the Bay Bridge and of the city skyline, is a restau¬rant, accessed from outside the venue and secure from the ticketed areas for use on any day.
The variety in seating options was driven by, Manica says, ownership wanting to provide a variety of viewing options. “Of course, San Francisco is an amazing market and we had the support (to offer) a variety of seating types,” he says.
Manica also brings together a unique way for Chase Center to treat house reduction. He designed the arena to scale into a 5,000¬seat performance hall. By turning a secondary arena entrance into the main theater entrance, visitors come into a half-house situation, but not split horizontally, rather split vertically. Using drop¬down panels complete with light¬ing, one side of the building turns into a the¬ater with viewing angles that work for theater and additional lighting grids and rigging for spotlights. “We worked with a theater expert to understand how the sidewalls can drop down and create a sense of theater,” Manica says. The built¬in¬place stage creates a com¬pletely different experience within Chase Center.
Outside, as the Chase Center connects to the training facility, mixed¬use and public areas, the main entrance also serves as a com¬munity plaza, designed as a front porch for the city to stage events reminiscent of Rockefeller Square in New York City.
From the front porch at San Francisco’s Chase Center to the seven¬story atrium that opens up a fresh arena perspective in Milwaukee, the next two years will feature the opening of two new NBA arenas, offering new benchmarks in their respective communities and also the arena world.


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FAIRS ADD NICHE FESTIVALS
 
Posted: 1 Dec 2017, 3:00 pm

Despite continuing challenges including weather and securi¬ty issues that all venues must face, North America’s top 50 fairs saw a slight attendance increase in 2017, rising 1.4 percent to 44,385,898.
Those same fairs had attendance last year of 43,754,191. The results were a pleasant sur¬prise to Stephen Chambers, retiring executive director of the Western Fairs Assn.
“We had done so well during the econom¬ic downturn, which is typical for fairs,” he said. “I’m waiting for the correction, but we had a surprisingly good year. This year, it seems like a lot of fairs are up 10 percent and six percent, and spending is up.”
What’s more, many of the 30 fairs that saw attendance increases saw big jumps, such as the Maryland State Fair, Timonium, which was up 24 percent; the Indiana State Fair, Indianapolis, which was up 23.9 percent, and the Erie County Fair in Hamburg, N.Y., which was up 21 percent.
Of the 20 fairs that had decreases, many of them were minimal with essentially flat atten¬dance but still had robust spending. Only three of the fairs on the chart had decreases in the double digits: the Mississippi State Fair, Jackson, at 19.5 percent, a result that apparent¬ly prompted the dismissal of the general man¬ager; the Ohio State Fair, Columbus, at 13 per¬cent, which had a deadly ride accident on opening day; and the Georgia National Fair, Perry, at 12.8 percent, which experienced bad weather throughout its run.
“I hear a lot of fairs telling me that atten-dance was the same but the carnival was up and food and beverage was up,” Chambers added. “And I know that the food and bever¬age prices have not been raised in awhile. So what you are seeing is an increase in length of stay. That’s the only thing that can explain that. It’s also a testament to fair management teams getting more diverse in entertainment. Fairgrounds are cleaner and more accessible. They are doing a lot of smart things so they should be up and doing well.”
One example is the Minnesota State Fair. Although the St. Paul event’s all¬time high attendance was slightly up over last year as it heads toward the 2 million mark, food and beverage grosses were up significantly. The estimated food gross was $39,360,859, com¬pared to $36,491,950 in 2016 and $33,160,829 in 2015, a 7.8 percent and 18.59 percent increase respectively. Daily food and beverage per caps exceeded last year’s by more than a $1, up from $24.16 to $25.21, said Dennis Larson, the fair’s food and beverage manager.
“This year so far we look to be up about eight percent over last year due to cooler aver¬age daily temperatures and an appetite for comfort foods,” Larson added, noting that prices for the “iconic” top 10 foods did not change so fair officials believe the numbers reflect more purchases at the booths.
Another example is the Arizona State Fair, Phoenix, which just ended its 2017 run on Oct. 29. Fair officials there made a concerted effort to increase fairgoers’ length of stay by adding shade, seating and entertainment desti¬nations. In return, the fair’s food and alcohol spending was up.
Marla Calico, president and CEO of the International Association of Fairs & Expositions, noted that many fairs have been getting away from reporting attendance and instead have been focusing on spending on food, beverage and the carnival, as well as changing attendance patterns.

“In any given year, as we monitor the pub¬licly reported attendance of fairs, we can gener¬ally say that about two¬thirds will be up,” Calico said. “For the other one-third, if they are static or down, it’s almost always due to weather.”
In a year that saw almost no change in the order of the Top 10 fairs, the Fort Worth Livestock Show & Rodeo was the only event from last year to break into the top 10, with an attendance of 1,219,300, which was actually 3 percent down from last year’s numbers. In exchange, the North Carolina State Fair, Raleigh, was only down 1.3 percent but still dropped from the No. 10 spot to 19. Dropping off the chart altogether was the Pennsylvania Farm Show in Harrisburg, which was ranked 34 last year with attendance of 525,000 but which declined to release a figure this year. Also, the Pensacola (Fla.) Interstate Fair, No. 50 in 2016, experienced bad weather this year and expected to be down from last year’s 315,000. This year’s No. 49, the Missouri State Fair in Sedalia, posted attendance of 368,916. The Evergreen State Fair, Monroe, made the chart at No. 50 with 350,761.
The North Carolina State Fair is an example in which attendance might have been flat but not because officials did not introduce new elements to the event. The sale of beer and wine at the fair boosted food and beverage rev¬enues to $1.2 million and generated $60,923, said GM Wesley Wyatt.
It also continued the Homegrown Music Festival, which was created in an effort to bring local acts to the fair after struggling with bigger¬name concerts.
That follows a fair trend of creating an on¬site festival, often centered around music, food or craft beer, to draw fairgoers, some of whom never had attended, to the event. The San Diego County Fair in Del Mar, California, held several different festivals during its 26¬day run.
“Festivals help make the fair new and dif¬ferent, not just each year, but each day of the 26¬day run,” said deputy GM Katie Mueller. “It gives people a reason to come back more than one time.”
The San Diego County Fair started out with festivals devoted to gospel and bluegrass music, and newer events are dedicated to drink, including beer, wine and distilled spir¬its, one on each weekend of the fair, in addition to a farm¬to¬table dinner, Mueller noted.
“Some of the biggest sellers are the VIP components of those festivals,” she added. “People can have an even more upgraded experience with higher ticket prices. The fair experiences growth more than just through general admission.”
Another group that the San Diego County Fair has targeted in attendance is the LGBTQ community with an event called Out at the Fair. Members of the community are attracted to programming that this year included a Barbra Streisand drag queen impersonator as well as gender neutral bathroom facilities.
“We do advertise to normal fair channels but we also market to those target markets,” Mueller said. “They have their logos. The paid festivals have their own websites. We work really hard to market those to a different mar¬ket than the general fair.”
This year, officials at the Kentucky State Fair, Louisville introduced the FAIRenheit Festival, combining music and craft beer. Amanda L. Storment, vice president of com¬munications, said the festival was established to bring in a younger audience not normally attracted to the fair.
“When I came to the fair industry, the fair model was a huge country act on Friday night,” said Chambers, who will be retiring soon. “Now you see fairs create a dog area with sponsors who like dogs, and a blues and brews event for people who like craft beers and dif¬ferent music. There are a lot more stages and a lot more of that.”

As always, security and weather continue to be big issues that fair officials have to con¬tend with. The Arkansas State Fair, Little Rock, opened on Oct. 12, 11 days after a gun¬man killed 58 people and wounded 546 more during the Route 91 Harvest music festival, shooting down on the Las Vegas Strip from a window of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino. Coincidentally, noted GM Ralph Shoptaw, a plan was already in place to beef up security because of crime rates in Little Rock.
“We have used walk¬through metal detec-tors at gun shows during off¬season events all year,” Shoptaw said. “We took a proactive approach and added the use of metal detectors at the state fair. We wanted our patrons to feel and be safe while visiting the fair.”
The devices also were used in marketing and in social media, with the idea that if poten¬tial troublemakers knew about the increased security, it would keep them away. The result? “This year we had zero arrests,” noted Shoptaw.


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PREPARATION LEADS TO SUCCESS
 
Posted: 1 Dec 2017, 3:00 pm

Strategic Operations Lisa Langham, who will be moderating the session. “There is extensive preparation starting at the very beginning, from gearing up technology and strategy for a busy on¬sale to figuring out the best way to ensure that those new to the building become lifelong fans.”
From a performing arts standpoint, “Hamilton” has been driving excitement since it first came on the scene in February 2015. In the works for months, Paciolan’s first success¬ful on¬sale for the musical hit came Oct. 23 for The Fabulous Fox Theatre St. Louis via client MetroTix. More than 17,500 tickets sold in the first 30 minutes alone.
“’Hamilton’ isn’t even on stage until April 2018, but people have been eager to get their hands on tickets since we first announced that we would have the show for the 2017¬2018 season in June 2016,” said Jim Downey, general sales manager at MetroTix.
In order to set up patrons for suc¬cess, the facility was explicit in all communication that the best way to guarantee tickets would be to pur¬chase a 2016¬2017 subscription, then renew for the 2017¬2018 season to ensure available seats. Over the course of two seasons, “Hamilton” drove a 100¬percent increase in the venue’s Broadway subscription base.
“There are interesting operational chal¬lenges associated with that sort of rapid suc¬cess, including how to effectively service all of those subscribers – not just for three weeks of ‘Hamilton,’ but also the other 49 weeks of the year,” said Downey. MetroTix revamped their inbound contact center, and cross¬trained all full¬and part-time staff in inbound single tick¬et sales and service, as well as subscription serv-ices and group sales, to extend business hours and meet increased demand for customer serv¬ice.
A record setting on¬sale for new season tickets forced a sales cutoff to ensure available single ticket inventory, and portended great expectations for the general single ticket on¬sale.
There were several aspects to take into consideration when determining timing for an on¬sale of this scope. In order to help limit camping out for tickets and best service loyal fans, The Fabulous Fox announced the on sale just 48 hours prior and decided to begin selling tickets at 9 a.m. on a Monday morning, an hour earlier than usual weekday business. By the time they went on sale, there were more than 400 individuals in line waiting for tickets, in addition to the tens of thousands of online sessions and maxed¬out phone lines.
“There are interesting operational challenges associated with that sort of RAPID SUCCESS.” — JIM DOWNEY
Because the organization had anticipated an on¬sale of this magnitude, working with the website and ticket providers to thoroughly pre¬pare for a rush of orders, all online traffic was handled successfully with no redirects.
Website and call capacity is of utmost importance. In addition to the operational importance, there is also a marketing aspect.
“Our on¬sale for ‘Hamilton’ went great,” said Robyn Williams, executive director at Portland’5 Centers for the Arts. The organi¬zation went on sale with Hamilton Friday, Nov. 17 at 10 a.m. PST via TicketsWest, sell¬ing more than 8,600 seats within the first 15 minutes. Information about the event, as well as ‘tips to make your ticket purchase as quick and easy as possible,’ could be found on the facility website, including ticket account log¬in links and advice about the online ticket queue.
“There was an overwhelming response for moderate inventory,” added Williams of the show’s March 20¬April 8 events at the Center’s Keller Auditorium. “If I would do anything differently, it would be to communi¬cate to the public what to expect in terms of wait times so they don’t give up their spot in the queue prematurely.”
One way that Portland’5 and “Hamilton” combated reselling or scalping issues was to limit orders to a maximum of four tickets per household, as well as restrict online orders to a single per-formance time per transaction. Finally, instead of the typical print at home or mobile delivery options, “Hamilton” ticket orders are all mail delivery only and will not be mailed out until approximately three weeks before the performance.
Broadway in Cincinnati will bring “Hamilton” to Cincinnati Arts Association’s Aronoff Center for the 2018¬2019 season and is already prepar¬ing. Both CAA’s John Harig and Broadway in Cincinnati’s Genevieve Miller Holt have been thinking about what that means for the business.
“The show is of interest to all ages and groups, but when it comes to sub-scription, the presence of ‘Hamilton’ seems to be a driver for younger audience members to subscribe,” she said. “Though a full subscrip¬tion may be more of a commitment and have a higher price tag than these younger guests would typically sign on for, ‘Hamilton’ is the factor that seems to be getting them to make the leap.”
There is also a continued shift toward digital marketing.
“Purchase habits in this demographic are shifting,” added Harig. “The internet has been dominating from a ticket selling standpoint for earlier, leading to on¬sales well before the a long time, but now mobile continues to get a events. “We’ve had holiday shows on sale since lot stronger due to those demographic July,” he added. changes.” CAA has seen patrons buying shows As shows with such a large organic fol¬lowing already garner a lot of attention, organ-izations can adjust their marketing efforts to fit.


“For ‘Hamilton,’ our marketing cam¬paigns were minimal, but we still sold out in just a few hours,” said Downey. Larger mar-keting opportunities can come after the show has sold and focus more on additional upcom¬ing events.

Big names and events bring new faces to any organization. Many attendees for “Hamilton,” and other large events may have never been to their local venue. In fact, the sin¬gle ticket on¬sale drew 59¬percent new people to the database at Fabulous Fox Theatre in St. Louis.
“Acts with mass appeal bring new oppor¬tunities to organizations,” said Langham. “Facilities can then inform those new sub¬scribers or single ticket buyers about upcoming events using various marketing tools from retargeting to marketing automation and more.”
The data collected from large on sales leads to both short¬and long¬term business impacts. First, there are the hundreds of new prospects in each organization’s system. Retargeting in the performing arts and arenas markets sees an average return of $13 : $1; however, performance is exponentially stronger with the opportunity to target those who have already shown interest in the venue. This makes sure you’re getting the appropriate message to the right, segmented audience to maximize the opportunity and effect of digital campaigns in order to curate fans and drive conversions.
There is also the opportunity to collect more information about each fan that uses a ticket, not just the ticket purchaser, once they are in the venue. Following that chain of cus¬tody of a ticket allows for a more holistic view of each attendee.
These exceptional events are incredible undertakings from the actual entertainer’s per¬spective, but also from a ticketing, operations and marketing side. They lead to incredible future opportunities to grow audiences and create life¬long fans.


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TIMES UNION CENTER REIMAGINED
 
Posted: 1 Dec 2017, 3:00 pm

Built in 1990, there was no question the time had come for a Times Union Center update.
Yet what really spearheaded the project was the Albany Capital Center convention center, which broke ground three years ago and is attached to the Times Union Center by a new 1,500¬sq.¬ft. walkway. >

Times Union Center, Albany, N.Y. s ?rst renovation is underway.
“With 135 events presented since it opened last March 1, the Albany Capital Center has been deemed one of the most successful convention centers to open in years,” said Bob Belber regional general manager — Times Union Center & Albany Capital Center/SMG Northeast director of booking.
The fully¬enclosed heated walkway also connects the Times Union Center to its park¬ing garage and Empire State Plaza, a complex of state government buildings.
It has expanded the venues’ usable space to 165,000 square feet and allows all three ven¬ues to be used collectively for one event.
“This walkway connectivity was envi¬sioned by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and Albany county executive Dan McCoy,” said Belber. “The investment from the state and county has created development in our market with businesses, condominiums, restaurants and bars opening up as well as pro¬duced a tremendous amount of new jobs downtown.”
A TOTAL REFRESH
The close to 40¬month, $30¬million Times Union Center project is being completed in two phases, while the arena remains open and fully operational. Phase 1, which was complet¬ed December 1, concentrated on the exterior, while Phase 2 will focus on interior renova¬tions.
Synthesis Architects in Schenectady, N.Y., is the designer on this project and Murnane Building Contractors, Whitesboro, N.Y., serves as the general contractor. Albany County passed bonds to cover renova¬
CONTINUED ON PAGE 26 >
AFL RETURNS TO ALBANY
With the renovation of the Times Union Center, the Arena Football League (AFL) returns to Albany in April 2018. Albany becomes the ?rst secondary market to have a team in the league.
The city’s former AFL team, the Firebirds, averaged over 10,000 in attendance per game when it played in the 90s.
The venue will host eight home games between April and July. The name of the team will be determined following a compe¬tition that was still taking place at press time. There was 3,000 initial team name submissions and 10,000 votes to pick from four names.
“We found a group of guys in Albany interested in bringing an arena football team to the market,” said John Adams, president of the Philadelphia Soul.
The Philadelphia Soul's ownership group is joining with local business owners to run the team. This includes George Hearst III, publisher and CEO of the Times Union of Albany; former Eagles quarterback Ron Jaworski; and ex¬National Football League head coach Dick Vermeil.
“This was a creative deal,” said Bob Belber regional general manager ¬Times Union Center & Albany Capital Center/SMG Northeast director of booking. “The great thing about this arrangement is the owners of the new team also own an existing cham¬pionship team in Philly.”
At press time, more than 800 season tickets had been sold for the Times Union Center’s AFL games.
“We’ve had a phenomenal initial response from the community,” said Adams. “I think [the team] will be real successful there.”
DECEMBER 2017 VENUES TODAY 25


A FOODSERVICE OVERHAUL
Part of Times Union Center’s extensive renovation will be the reinvention of its ?ve concession stands and Lia Lounge full¬service sports bar.
According to Sean Fallon, concessions general manager for Aramark, the venue’s foodservice provider, the stands will shut down one at a time, with each renovation taking between three and four weeks. This will start in March and be completed by the end of the summer.
The menu was still being ?nalized at press time, but the classic concessions offer¬ings are expected to be expanded to include healthier and local fare.
“Between new foodservice equipment and logistics, we’ll be able to expand our offerings with menu innovations that add to the fan experience, while also improving ef?ciency and speed of service,” said Fallon.
Additional points of sale will allow customers to belly up to the stands at a number of registers, versus the existing one point of sale.
Ventilation and exhaust systems will be added to all stands, increasing cooking capabilities, along with combi ovens that offer smoking and steaming capabilities. Attractive enclosures will be built around the stands while work is being done.
“We’re adding exterior elements, including awnings, along with stainless steel back walls,” said Bob Belber regional general manager ¬Times Union Center & Albany Capital Center/SMG Northeast director of booking. “[With the staggered construction schedule,] we can host events and service patrons while the concession stands are completed in about seven months.”
C&S Companies, based in Syracuse, N.Y., is upgrading and modernizing the arena’s Lia Lounge to be more functional. This will occur in early April and take roughly one month to complete. A second sports bar will continue to operate.
“We’ll be able to increase capacity to serve a larger volume of customers, yet this will serve as multifunction space,” said Doug Obrist, C&S’ project manager.
Lounge work will include a newly¬con?gured open concept area with a larger bar and multiple points of sale served by newly¬furnished equipment. Various forms of decorative lighting/accents, feature walls, high¬end ?nishes and screens for broad¬casting events also will be added. — Lisa White
The Lounge, one of the new concession areas at Times Union Center, Albany, N.Y.
26 VENUES TODAY DECEMBER 2017
TIMES UNION CENTER... CONTINUED FROM PAGE 25 tion costs, which will be paid by hotel taxes. The county handled the walkway cost from the street to the arena parking garage, which was included in the atrium renovation total. The state spent about $3.5 million for the walkway portion from the garage to the convention cen¬ter and Empire State Plaza.
“Albany County has been an outstanding partner for many years, as we have worked together to freshen, upgrade and evolve the venue given the dynamics in the industry, advances in technology and changing expecta¬tions,” said Harry Cann, SMG regional vice president. “The County’s commitment to and investment in the Times Union Center over the years is the backbone of the venue’s success.”
A major aspect of the arena overhaul was redesigning and enclosing the open¬air atrium, a $20¬million project. This entailed tearing out steel and adding a glass elevator and escalator to access the atrium.
“The update to enclose the Times Union Center’s entrance was a 10¬year¬old project that took hold when the convention center broke ground,” said Doug McClaine, Time Union Center’s assistant general manager/booking.
The new front enclosure includes a pre¬function space and new media work room for hosting events.
Two new 15¬foot¬high¬by¬70¬foot¬wide LED video screens with audio systems were added to the arena’s exterior at a cost of $1.2 million.
“We’ve been playing music videos and putting up commercials; it brings a cool factor like none I’ve seen,” said Belber.
Phase two, currently underway, concen¬trates on interior updates. This includes all concession stands and Lia Lounge, the full¬ser¬vice bar, along with 20 of the arena’s 25 suites.
“Like the concession stands, the suites will be renovated one at a time over the course of about seven months,” said Belber.
Doug Obrist, project manager for C&S Companies, based in Syracuse, N.Y., is working with SMG on the suite and lounge layouts.
“The key thing is, when we do construc¬tion, we’ll work with suite owners so they can have construction be timely and not disruptive,” said Obrist.

Suite holders were provided with a choice of designs, colors and materials to choose from, with the selection process taking about three months to complete.
The work includes replacement of fixed stadium¬style seating, newly¬reconfigured kitchenettes and built¬in furniture. Other built¬in elements include high top and uphol-stered seating and finishes and decorative accent walls for suite holder branding.
“All of our suites have been sold out for the last 13 years, and we currently have a waiting list of 20 companies,” said Belber.

 

The goal for the last two years has been to keep high¬profile events on Times Union Center’s calendar throughout the atrium overhaul.

“It was challenging to stay open and oper¬ating, but by doing so, if projects take longer to complete, we don’t have to delay the work,” said McClaine. “It was the ingress and egress that are most impacted, so we close one area off and direct people to another area. It’s not the traditional foot traffic, so we concentrate on keeping visitors up to speed on entrances and emergency exits.”
While the main entrance was under con¬struction, the arena held a number of concerts, including three sold out Garth Brooks per¬formances and shows with Twenty One Pilots, Maroon 5 and Tim McGraw and Faith Hill.
“It was all about planning the schedule and coordinating the work to be done so sound checks were not disrupted,” said Belber. “This still allowed our bottom line to see positive profits as work was being done.”
He credits the renovations for the arena being awarded the first and second rounds of the National Collegiate Athletic Association men’s basketball championship in 2020.
“That wouldn’t have happened without creating a new working media center in the atrium,” said Belber. “With the building updates and new convention center, we’re not just a secondary market anymore.”

 

TIMES UNION CENTER BY THE NUMBERS
1988–1990 Original construction Opened with Frank Sinatra JAN. 30, 1990
2015 Renovation began Atrium completed DEC. 1, 2017
Renovation cost for the atrium $20 MILLION $10 MILLION Cost of upgrades to suites, concessions and bathrooms, sports bar and concourse
Saved by renovating versus replacing the arena $170 MILLION
187,315 Square feet in the arena
Square feet added during renovation 36,000 500,000-700,000 Annual attendance
Years added to arena’s life from renovation 25¬30 YEARS


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Exciting Times for Centerplate
 
Posted: 1 Dec 2017, 3:00 pm

Chris Verros, purchase of Centerplate by Sodexo was the perfect matchup, not just
because of the powerful potential of being part of a $22¬billion company but also because of what it means to Centerplate employees.
“I’ve always been a people person. I like to get to know the people who work in the field because that’s where I came from – I was a dishwasher, a waiter, bartender and server. I’ve done all those things. I have a real appreciation for the people who work in this organization because we’re a team,” said Verros, who is cur¬rently CEO of Centerplate and tapped to be president when the acquisition is complete.
In late November, Sodexo agreed to pur¬chase Centerplate for $675 million from cur¬rent owner Olympus Partners. Verros’ role in that deal and in the combined companies’ futures qualified him for a 2017 Venues Today Hall of Headlines Award for News, though the November announcement and award came after the original subscribers’ vote.
Verros has spent his whole life in the restaurant/food and beverage business. “It’s in my blood, my father was a restaurateur. Sunday mornings as a kid, I used to go down with my father to the restaurant to sweep the floor. I couldn’t wait to get there. I couldn’t believe peo¬ple dropped so much money – probably $1.25 a day in nickels, pennies and sometimes a quarter. When I was a little older, I realized my dad was going around ahead of me and dropping coins.”

His father’s strategy worked. Verros con¬sidered no other career and, during his illustri¬ous rise, he has been directly involved in four food company acquisitions, this last one at the forefront. It started when Fanfare, a start up company owned by Jerry Moses which he helped start, was sold to Fine Host Corp. Verros was president of the Fine Host Recreation and Leisure Division.
“Then we sold to Aramark,” he said. It was 2002, and Verros did not go as the compa¬ny went. He was tempted to join Aramark, but he also wanted to stay in Boston so he called Joe O’Donnell, his other partner at Fanfare who also owned Boston Culinary Group (Boston Concessions at the time) and asked for a job.
“I was thinking that eventually Joe would want to sell, but I knew Joe from the mid¬80s and knew how important that company was to him,” Verros recalled.
He found the right opportunity in Centerplate, which bought Boston Culinary Group and kept most of the team. Verros became president and O’Donnell chairman of the board.
Centerplate originally was owned by pri¬vate equity firm Kohlberg. Two or three years after Verros arrived, they sold to Olympus Partners.
Truth in business is that private equity has goals, usually three to five years out. “We were not for sale; however, we were approached by a banker representing Sodexo who said we have a company that’s very inter¬ested in purchasing you, would you be interest¬ed in having those conversations? It was a number of months, lots of meetings, lots of diligence. The process has been very thought¬ful and very detail oriented; there’s been a lot of work behind the scenes,” Verros said.
Verros believes Sodexo and Centerplate match up culturally almost perfectly. “Our mantra is ‘We make it better to be there through memorable experiences’ and Sodexo’s is quality of life via services ‘creating memo¬rable sports and leisure services for the client and consumers.’” Neither company is about one person; both care about employees.
Sodexo is also trying to build their foot-print in North America and “we’re the perfect company to help them do that,” Verros said.
Centerplate’s relationship with clients doesn’t have a secret sauce. It’s about “making sure the customer feels good about us as a provider, making sure you do all the things you say you’ll do. We don’t over promise but always try to over deliver,” Verros said. “We try to do the little things. It always comes back to people, the right people in the right places with the support services behind them.”
Peter Luukko, Oak View Group, who also oversees one of Centerplate’s biggest arena clients, BB&T Center, Sunrise, Fla., can attest to that.
“Chris has the uncanny ability to listen to the needs of the client and find solutions that give everybody the ability to succeed,” Luukko said. “I always appreciate that Chris and Joe remember my Massachusetts roots and have a Lobster Roll served at every meeting we have. Chris has worked his way up from the entry level of the business, and it shows when deal¬ing with the detailed needs of his clients.”
Consolidation in the concessions business is a constant, dating back to Verros’ first expe¬rience working for Ogden Food Services, which was acquired by Aramark; just the mul¬tiples have changed.
And the goals remain the same. “It’s still about the deliverable and service in the end. Certainly the expectations are higher and the service standards are higher and offerings are a little more extravagant. But it still comes down to delivering on those expectations,” Verros said. “At the end of the day, you have to put a really great meal in front of folks and deliver it with a friendly face and a good, clean environment.”
This sale is targeted to close by the end of the year, though there is no specific date. How will the sale impact Centerplate?
“It will be Centerplate supercharged,” Verros said.
“That’s why it’s exciting for me person¬ally. We were not a small company, we gen-erate $1 billion, but now you go to a company that generates $22 billion and has services all over the world. Just think of the opportuni¬ties it opens up for the people who work within our organization at every level. To me that’s a huge, huge win for people in our organization and that’s what I’m looking for¬ward to most.”


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‘Outrageously Excellent’ Operation
 
Posted: 1 Dec 2017, 3:00 pm

She inspires her team, challenges co¬workers to think outside the box and has a true passion for running a convention center. Her name is Kerry Painter and she’s been in charge of the Cox Business Center in Tulsa, Okla., for SMG for the last four years.
This year, the 2015 Venues Today Woman of Influence won the Venues Today Hall of Headlines Award for Operations for spearheading the massive remodeling and rebranding of the venue.
“Kerry stretches her staff to think differ¬ently and do things not necessarily in a tradi¬tional way. She doesn’t just run the building, she’s constantly striving for us to improve our¬selves… to make everyone successful,” said Kathy Tinker, director of sales and marketing of Cox Business Center, a 310,625¬sq.¬ft. facili¬ty in downtown Tulsa.
The center has 120,000 square feet of exhi¬bition halls, a 9,000¬seat arena, roughly 20,000 square feet of conference halls and 11,000 square feet of meeting space.
The remodel included revamping the exhibit space where the exhibit hall floors were diamond ground and new lighting and fresh paint helped spruce up the area.
Cox Business Center is 51 years old. The 30,000¬sq.¬ft. ballroom was added in 2010. In the last year, other areas of the center were revamped, including painting the entire con¬vention end of the building, putting wraps on the walls, updating the lobby with fresh paint and buying new furniture.
“We really activated the lobbies and the public space,” Painter said.
They also rebranded the convention cen¬ter with a new value statement that says “Outrageously Excellent.”
“We brought in a facilitator, and we iden¬tified ourselves and we created mission lines. We identified a value statement,” Painter said. “It’s on things, and we say it a lot.”
They put “Outrageously Excellent” on uniforms, lanyards and the lobby wall.
“It’s really hard to be lame when you’re wearing something that says ‘outrageously excellent,’” Painter said with enthusiasm. “If you’re coming up to meet with us about a con¬tract, it’s smack in your face about what we’re going to do.”
It wasn’t Painter or top management that came up with the logo. It was the entire team, which is the way things happen around the convention center. Painter is a collaborator, not a dictator, and she likes to involve her team on big decisions.
Outside thinking and collaboration will be key next summer when Painter, her team and SMG prepare for a $55 million renova¬tion of the arena attached to the convention center.
The plan is to blow out the inside of the 9,000¬seat arena while keeping the shell of the structure intact. The space will become an extra 45,000 square feet of exhibition space.
Also included in the renovation is a three¬story, glass¬fronted atrium at the front of the convention center. “The building has no great primary entrance,” Painter said, adding that it confuses guests on where to enter the building.
Those renovations start in July with a projected completion in 2020. Funds for the construction come from a Vision Tax approved by voters, Painter said.
Painter’s spirit and management style hasn’t gone unnoticed by SMG or her supervi¬sor, Jeff Nickler, who is the GM of the SMG properties in Tulsa.
“She is the face of Cox Business Center),” Nickler said. “She’s really over every day¬to¬day function of that staff. She spearheads all facets of that building.”
He applauds Painter’s “forward think¬ing” and “passion” for the industry.
“Kerry is somebody who embraces change. She wholeheartedly believes that just because we’ve done something one way doesn’t mean that’s the way it needs to be done, which is rare in the industry. She’s always challenging our staff to find new ways to do better cus¬tomer service, which is really cool,” Nickler said.
For example, each year the convention center hosts a holiday party for its clients, and the event traditionally is held in the ballroom “because it’s the newest room we have,” Tinker said.
This year, Painter suggested moving the party, themed Champagne and Steel, to the exhibit hall to show off the newly renovated space.
“Most of our clients haven’t been in the exhibit hall,” Tinker noted. “We like to keep their interest piqued by not always making it same old, same old.”
Working with Painter on a day¬to¬day basis is always a learning experience, Tinker said.
“She sends us articles for potential busi¬ness and professional development. There are tons of marketing ideas, a lot of time there are things we don’t even think we can do. She gets us thinking about how can we translate that into our market and our clientele,” Tinker said, adding that Painter is a “huge proponent of education.”
Painter teaches various industry classes throughout the year, including the IAVM’s Venue Management School. “I love to teach people; I get to do that quite a bit,” Painter said.
A typical day at the office for Painter includes finding ways to bring clientele to a convention center located in Tulsa. “What I learned when I moved here is that Tulsa didn’t have a bad reputation, but it had no reputa¬tion,” Painter said, highlighting how challeng¬ing it was to bring big national or international conferences to the city.
Attracting new business comes down to getting them to Tulsa for the first visit, when they’re invariably “shocked” at what a cool city Tulsa is, Painter said.


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LIVE ENTERTAINMENT REVENUE GROWS WORLDWIDE
 
Posted: 1 Dec 2017, 3:00 pm


  ive entertainment had a very good 2017. Grosses reported to Venues Today for our Year End Report show worldwide live sports and entertainment tour¬ing revenue up an astonishing 32 percent from 2016 reports, partially due to more reporting but mostly to a stellar year.
According to the international venue operators we spoke to, the huge bump can be attributed to an strong economy, with fans willing to part with hard¬earned dollars; the solid number of quality acts touring; the big number of touring acts; cost cutting and new ways to capture revenue once the fans are in¬venue. All indications are that the great reces¬sion is truly over and the live touring industry is back and blazing, with no signs of it slowing down in 2018.

DOMESTIC
Concert giant Live Nation’s Bob Roux, co¬president of U.S. concerts, said that his compa¬ny had “another record¬setting year, and we wound up selling more tickets that any previ¬ous year.” He also said Live Nation produced more events than in previous years.
Roux said that Live Nation is expanding, building more local offices and increasing staff. “We’re always looking to expand and, with that, comes increased costs— but that increases revenue and event totals.”
Creating “promoter pods that can focus on individual markets” is a strategy that’s been working out. “Acquiring, marketing and pric¬ing tours are why we get to say at the end of each year that it’s been another record year.”
A lot of Live Nation’s growth is from increased show count, he said. “We’re definite¬ly working hand¬in¬hand with the artists to set ticket prices and ultimately to make sure the artists are maximizing revenue opportunity and all the dates they play have the potential to sell every ticket in the building. The grosses are rising and the artists are starting to see the ben¬efit of that work.”
Playing larger buildings has helped fuel the revenue¬rise, Roux said. “Artists are mak-ing more money,” he said, noting that the VIP and premium trend is not a key factor to the profit increase. “The uptick is not from VIP packages or premium seating but, instead, from getting more fans into the building. Acumen on pricing the seats in the first place is the key.”
Roux said the international live touring scene, while healthy, is still catching up to North American levels, and attributes some of the international shortfall to the U.S. dollar strength. “The silver lining is that the artists can number of touring acts; cost cutting and new ways to capture revenue once the fans are in¬venue. All indications are that the great reces¬sion is truly over and the live touring industry is back and blazing, with no signs of it slowing down in 2018.
DOMESTIC
Concert giant Live Nation’s Bob Roux, co¬president of U.S. concerts, said that his compa¬ny had “another record¬setting year, and we wound up selling more tickets that any previ¬ous year.” He also said Live Nation produced more events than in previous years.
Roux said that Live Nation is expanding, building more local offices and increasing staff. “We’re always looking to expand and, with that, comes increased costs— but that increases revenue and event totals.”
Creating “promoter pods that can focus on individual markets” is a strategy that’s been working out. “Acquiring, marketing and pric¬ing tours are why we get to say at the end of each year that it’s been another record year.”
A lot of Live Nation’s growth is from increased show count, he said. “We’re definite¬ly working hand¬in¬hand with the artists to set ticket prices and ultimately to make sure the artists are maximizing revenue opportunity and all the dates they play have the potential to sell every ticket in the building. The grosses are rising and the artists are starting to see the ben¬efit of that work.”
Playing larger buildings has helped fuel the revenue¬rise, Roux said. “Artists are mak-ing more money,” he said, noting that the VIP and premium trend is not a key factor to the profit increase. “The uptick is not from VIP packages or premium seating but, instead, from getting more fans into the building. Acumen on pricing the seats in the first place is the key.”
Roux said the international live touring scene, while healthy, is still catching up to North American levels, and attributes some of the international shortfall to the U.S. dollar strength. “The silver lining is that the artists can use the growth and revenue we’ve seen here in the U.S. to expand international territories.”
Roux said that Live Nation is high on adding venues to its list of holdings. “We want that whole portfolio,” he said. “It’s a very important part of our strategy.”
“2018 is looking just as strong. Early indi¬cators are great,” he said. “We’ve got a number of shows already on¬sale and they are doing fantastic. We’ve had shows on sale since October and they are selling briskly.” Roux said Live Nation data suggests that the opti¬mum on¬sale window is “roughly five months, longer than in the past. A longer on¬sale cycle gives fans more time to spread out their pur¬chases and it gives us spread between tours.”
At the end of the day, Roux said the spec¬tacular revenue numbers for the year were due to “quality acts in every genre of music.”
The Colosseum at Caesar’s Palace, Las Vegas, was the highest grossing venue in our 2,001¬5,000¬seat category. Unlike most venues that have a revolving door of acts coming in and out of the facility, the Colosseum’s strategy of residencies with a handful of one¬offs kept the venue filled.
“It’s the 15th anniversary of The Colosseum and our busiest year ever,” said John Nelson, SVP, AEG Presents, Las Vegas. Residents include powerhouse Celine Dion, Mariah Carey, Rod Stewart, Elton John and Reba McEntire/Brooks & Dunn. John’s ending his residency in the spring, and Nelson is on the hunt for a replacement resident. “An announcement should come late spring,” he said, coyly.
The Colosseum tried a new concept this year, which was interspersing comedian Jeff Dunham playing once a week throughout the summer when the venue is normally dark. “Jeff played 14 consecutive weeks and the new concept worked great,” said Nelson.
Short¬term residencies, such as The Who, that played for two weeks, was another win¬ning revenue booster.
Nelson said that Las Vegas as a whole was in a heightened state of security awareness fol¬lowing the Route 91 Harvest incident in October and The Colosseum is no exception. “We’re very conscious of security here,” he said. “We were the first theater in Las Vegas to use magnetometers,” he said. “We’ve been doing it since 2003. We have an ongoing review of security policies, and we coordinate with local authorities and our casino security constantly.”
Merchandise, sold primarily from a dedi-cated shop, the Colosseum Boutique, in the Forum shopping mall, continues to be strong. “We offer high¬end goods and operate 365 days a year.”
Nelson anticipates 2018 to be “more of the same” and is looking forward to the increased visitor flow that is sure to follow Las Vegas securing their first National Hockey League (NHL) team and the upcoming move to the desert tourist mecca for the National Football League’s (Oakland) Raiders.
The Las Vegas Strip is also the home of the highest grossing venue in our 15,001 ¬30,000¬seat category, T¬Mobile Arena. The venue is about a year¬and¬a-half old and clearly fulfilling its promise as a destination for live entertainment in a city filled with choices.
“We learned from our 2016 opening and focused on maximizing the venue in 2017,” said Dan Quinn, GM there for AEG and MGM Resorts. “The addition of our NHL team, Golden Knights, as our tenant, with some other major events, really put us on solid footing.”
Big events included the highly¬publicized Mayweather¬McGregor and Alvarez-Golovin boxing matches, Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) events, major concerts like U2 and Jay Z and T¬Mobile’s George Strait residency. “Our ticket¬buyers are mostly out¬of¬town visitors with the exception of hockey, which has a whole local base,” he said.
New concessions from Levy Restaurants included a sushi concept called Tail & Fin, Chronic Tacos, L.A.’s Pink’s hot dogs and BBQ brand Rolling Smoke.
The free¬to¬all outdoor plaza is “a great canvas for our different events to come in from a guest experience standpoint and sponsor ful¬fillment platform to grow their revenues.”
On the other side of the country, Sean Saadeh, EVP, entertainment programming, Prudential Center, Newark, N.J., said his venue saw an increase in tickets sold by 22 per¬cent; show count was up 37 percent and grosses were up 44 percent. “We’re experiencing sig¬nificant growth year-over¬year,” he said.
Saadeh attributes the robust showing to “solid partnerships with AEG, Live Nation, Oak View Group and a new collaboration with MSG Entertainment and all the agents who have supported us greatly.”
New Jersey has been carved out as an independent and completely different market¬place from next¬door New York City, he said, citing data that shows that 27 percent of their guests are from outside the immediate area. “There’s a huge population who don’t want the hassle of going into NYC,” he said. “It’s easier to get here and parking is easy here. Every neighboring state is represented here.”
Saadeh was impressed with the sold-out shows featuring country stars, rock acts, K¬Pop and Latin artists. “We’re very diverse and pride ourselves on that diversity,” he said.
A cost¬cutting move was teaming up with another company to buy goods in bulk. “We can utilize their ability to make larger purchas¬es and that will save us money,” he said.
Another good idea was hiring a special events manager to book non¬touring events such as conferences. Also adding to the revenue pool was the opening of the Grammy Museum.
A new addition is the “largest arena video scoreboard in the world” that is four-stories tall, measures 9,584 sq. ft., weighs 88,401 pounds and has 29,600 million pixels.
Also new to the venue are bomb sniffing dogs. “Security is number one,” said Saadeh. “We’ve also placed a massive truck in front of the venue to prevent anyone getting close to the building with a vehicle.”
F&B, provided by Legends, was another strong revenue generator. “We were up in con¬cession revenue 22 percent,” he said. “We’re getting a lot of our produce from local N.J. farms and local meat purveyors and the fans have responded to that.”
INTERNATIONAL
While not as vigorous as their U.S. counter¬parts, international returns were still impres¬sive.
“2017 was our biggest year in the history of our company,” said Canadian promoter Jim Cressman, CEO, Invictus. “With Live Nation purchasing The Union in 2016, and removing a strong indie from the landscape, we posi¬tioned ourselves as the viable alternative to the ‘big machine.’"
“We continue to focus on leveraging the best venue deals for legacy acts while keeping an eye on artist development — and that means playing chess, not checkers,” he said. “We work with agents and managers to invest in artists, nurture their career, build with underplays and reasonable ticket prices — and thus, grow their careers.”

Being an independent promoter, Cressman does not have to report quarterly numbers to a board of directors. “There's a lot of power in having the latitude to implement strategies to meet long term objectives for artists, instead of short term objectives for shareholders,” he said.
Cressman’s best strategy last year was to partner with as many venues as he could to promote shows. “Venues are more incentivized to keep costs to a minimum?, the artist wins, and the consumer wins, and then venue and promoter win as well,” said Cressman.
Across the pond, London’s 02 Arena was celebrating its 10th birthday. “We got to cele¬brate our 10¬year anniversary with some fantas¬tic birthday shows from alt¬J, Celine Dion, Ed Sheeran, Foo Fighters and Jamiroquai,” said Barnaby Hooper, communications director.
Music made up roughly 50 percent of the venue’s schedule. “Rock and pop were fairly evenly matched for the most popular genre, but we had some great variety this year, with events like Country to Country, Hola! London (a Latin festival) and the Boy Better Know Takeover in August. Sport and comedy were the next highest genres with approximately 12 percent and 1 percent respectively.

Security in the U.K. has tightened post¬Manchester bombing and The O2 Arena is leading the way. “There are security measures you can see, such as the sniffer dogs, screen¬ings and bag searches, and ones you can’t,” said Hooper. “We monitor the whole site each and every day, and staff are trained to ensure all our guests have a safe, secure and happy time.”
The 02 Arena completely redesigned and relaunched their level 1 concourse this year and opened 11 new bars and food outlets as part of the redevelopment, creating a new cus¬tomer¬centric food and drink destination.
“We now have a number of white label pop¬ups — flexible kiosks and concessions which can adapt their design, brand and food and beverage offering depending on the event and audience,” he said. “It’s been well received by our fans, and we’ve seen a near 20 percent uplift in food and drink spend. We’ve also introduced a new app for the venue with discounts and offers on food and drink and the ability to pre¬order merchandise for shows.”
Hooper is looking forward to the opening of the new Designer Outlet Village in Q4 2018. “It will bring a whole new dimension to the venue as a destination,” he added.
On the other side of the world, in Australia, live touring business was strong, if not spectacular.
“Overall we were up around six percent,” said Tim Worton, group director, arenas, AEG Ogden. “It is worth noting that the last quarter of 2017 was one of the strongest in recent years.”
Group buying of services for all of AEG Ogden’s venues, like electricity and gas, mini¬mized venue overhead while the procurement of venue sponsors and new commercial part¬ners also added to the bottom line. “Other projects that are being scoped at present are venue memberships, premium club seating, F&B up¬selling with tickets and event specific hospitality packages,” said Worton.
In light of the tragic incidents that have occurred in Europe and North America, new security protocols have been put in place down under, such as bag checks, restrictions on bag sizes and full wanding of all fans. “Magnetometers are used in some venues and shortly all will use them,” he mentioned.
Worton credited express lanes for bagless fans as encouraging more people to leave them at home, which expedites the entry process. “We have also installed vehicular protection bollards, use crowd profilers and implemented human behavior training to help identify potential trouble makers,” he said. “We are also looking at facial recognition technology. No doubt we will continue to review and fur¬ther develop security measures.”
F&B sales were up nine percent in 2017. A new beer garden in the AEG Ogden Brisbane Entertainment Centre has a putting green to amuse the fans. In Perth, in¬seat ordering in premium seating areas and upsells at ticket purchase for sports events have been success¬ful. An increase in high¬yielding cocktails in ICC Sydney has been a winner.
Worton’s crystal ball tells him that after a few flat years, including the first nine months of this year, 2018 looks like it’s going to be a return to the halcyon years up to 2014.
“Multirun concert tours, headed by Pink, Bruno Mars, Robbie Williams, Queen & Adam Lambert, Katy Perry and The Killers are all on sale already,” he added. “It will be a bumper year and be significantly up on 2017. It’s very exciting.”

 


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TECHNOLOGY OR INVENTORY?
 
Posted: 1 Dec 2017, 3:00 pm

Ticketing has always been attractive market. Every month, if not every week, a few of the key players. to equity investors, but 2017 has begets news to that end. With INTIX coming Maureen Andersen, CEO of INTIX, is of been a particularly active year for up in Baltimore Jan. 23¬25, Venues Today the opinion it’s driven by a quest for ticket and acquisitions and mergers in the looked at the reasoning behind this trend with client inventory more than technology and that it is more frequent in the performing arts this past year.

Marc Jenkins, senior advisor to Providence Equity, which is the investment arm that invest¬ed in Patron Technology, sees it as investment opportunity in a fragmented market.
“The overall strategy starts with the investment pieces. Right now, the space across the ticketing industry is relatively fractured,” Jenkins said. “When you think of all the various providers, from Ticketmaster to the smallest of companies, there are hundreds of them. Their products, generally speaking, suffer from a lack of investment.
“For an investor, the idea is if you bring these pieces together, you can attach more investment to them and you can bring them out to market.”
In the last six months, Patron Technology acquired Show Clix, Ticket Leap and Seat Advisor. The Patron Technology Platform, which is made up of Patron Manager and the three acquisitions, transacts over 100 million tickets per year. “Across the platform, we have over 8,000 ticketing clients ranging from big to small,” Jenkins said.
To Kim Damron, president of Paciolan, which was acquired by Learfield and acquired TicketsWest and WestCoast Entertainment, it’s a combination of inventory and comple¬mentary businesses. She does see some empha¬sis in the arts, which is a sweet spot for Learfield even though it is best known as a col¬lege sports enterprise.
“There are companies, too, that realize it’s harder to run a ticketing company than they thought and there’s consolidation because of that,” Damron said. “Ticketing is very complex and the more power you can put behind it the better.”
Jenkins believes it starts with the opportu¬nity to improve the product for both sides of the table, the customer/fan and the client/pro¬moter. By bringing the pieces together, Patron
can afford to invest in them and, hopefully,
bring a new level of service to both. “Any pro¬
moter of a live event would say there is room
for improvement in the space,” Jenkins said.
“All consumers’ expectations are getting
greater and greater.”
For Patron, the driver to acquisitions is
improving technology. For example, they are
rolling out Patron Manager’s Customer
Relations Management (CRM) capabilities to
Show Clix clients. “That only happens because the business is together now,” he said. “It’s a

super¬custom integration with Salesforce that
can be imported over with Show Clix clients
looking for functionality.”
The key driver then is “when we find
new companies that can benefit from this con¬
solidation and we can invest in them and
improve the product,” Jenkins said.
Andersen opined that the impending
implementation of open platform ticketing
technology is what’s driving the acquisitions
and the goal is inventory. Jenkins demurred.
“We see the need in the market and we see the evolution of client and fans getting more and more digital and we see the need for improved¬upon products.”
All agreed that the ticketing space will con¬tinue to move around a lot in 2018. Jenkins thinks it comes down to better identifying the fan and better serving them, a hunt everyone is in.
“TicketsWest is a nice complement to our business; they service clients as Paciolan does and are very customer¬centric,” Damron said. “For us, it’s an opportunity to grow.”
Whether the driver is technolo¬gy and/or inventory depends on who you are, Damron added. “We have fantastic technology; for us it was to grow our client base. We’re not look¬ing at technology piece unless they’re not in the ticketing space.”
Paciolan handles about 120 million tickets annually. TicketsWest brought 100¬plus clients into the fam¬ily. “We didn’t look at the number of tickets. We looked at the quality of their clients, like Portland’5 [Centers for the Arts in Oregon], where they just had “Hamilton” on sale. They are complementary to our business.”
Learfield is on the same page, having also acquired Mogo Arts, for which 160 of its 200 clients are arts.
Paciolan’s parent company has just approved a multimillion¬dollar incremental investment in the prod¬uct, heavily focused on the perform¬ing arts business as well,” Damron said. “They understand we want to
grow in live entertainment in general.”
Predicting a lot more activity in 2018, Damron added, “I love the home we landed in and I love TicketsWest. I’m very pleased with how this year ended for us.”
The trade show floor at INTIX will look a lot different this year thanks to all the acqui¬sitions and mergers, but that’s a good thing.
“As we go into a world where there’s an open market, it won’t matter as much where you get your ticket; he who has the most densi¬ty and data and inventory, that’s what I think it’s about,” Andersen concluded.


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Tricks of the Trade
 
Posted: 1 Dec 2017, 3:00 pm

Jerry Goldman wears many hats. As AGM at SMG¬managed U.S. Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, he’s in charge of all of the stadium rev¬enue and responsible for every¬thing from marketing to coordi-nation with concessionaire Aramark and ticket provider Ticketmaster and the box office, but it’s in his role as head of bookings that Goldman found his niche, and for those efforts Goldman has received Venues Today’s Hall of Headlines Bookings Award.
In 2017, Goldman secured four huge sta-dium shows and 600 other events; booked the Summer X Games and 2020 National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Wrestling Championships; and the crown jewel of events— Super Bowl 2018— is com¬ing in February.
Locking in Luke Bryan and Metallica to open the venue proved Goldman knew the tricks of the trade: experience and contacts.
“We had Luke Bryan, but we needed a show,” recalled Goldman. “Metallica had not played in the states in seven years. They were thinking about playing arenas. We thought maybe we could convince them they could fill a stadium. We reached out to the Frank brothers [Frank Productions] and they’re good friends with Q Prime, Metallica’s people.”

“Metallica sold out in 10 minutes,” said a tickled Goldman. “The concert was so success¬ful, the band turned the tour into a stadium package.”

Scoring Metallica is a perfect example of Goldman’s philosophy of “focusing on things that are unique.”
“One of the good things about Minneapolis is that it’s a great concert market,” said Goldman, “but there are only a handful of artists who can sell 50,000 tickets. So I looked for the biggest, best acts that were touring, that I could lure to play here.”
With only a handful of acts to compete for, Goldman wound up with major gets.
Guns N’ Roses, Coldplay and U2 all played and, combined, pulled 147,000 fans into the facility.
“This is very much a relationship busi¬ness,” stressed Goldman, who spends his day “on the phone with promoters and agents and managers. Staying in contact with people and staying close to Live Nation, AEG, the Frank Brothers and other players is the key.”
“There are many different options in our market,” he explained. “They can play Target Field or TFC Bank Stadium or here.” Of the three, U.S. Bank Stadium is the only one with a roof and Goldman plays the weather¬card to great advantage. “It’s always 70 degrees in here,” he tells potential clients.
Goldman went after X Games and the NCAA Wrestling Championships aggressive¬ly even though neither have ever been hosted by a National Football League (NFL) stadium.
“We got the whole city behind us to get the contracts,” he shared. “We worked in con¬junction with Sports Minneapolis and other inter¬city agencies and pushed hard.”
X¬Games brought 30,000 people to the building and was a huge success. The contract was for two years. Goldman wrangled the NCAA Wrestling contract by “pitching a con¬cept that they would have everything under one roof.”
As if major concerts, Minnesota Vikings home football games and 125 days of baseball make sure he is not only on the minds of the promoters but the agents as well. He has made sure U.S. Bank Stadium is always in the con¬versation for a stop.”
“He sees the vision of an event others might not see and manages to convince others that his concept will see a jump in ticket sales and deliver an unprecedented experience.”
Talty is even more impressed that
“We got the whole city behind us to get the contracts.” — JERRY GOLDMAN
weren’t plenty on the plate, U.S. Bank Stadium hosts everything from business meetings to bar mitzvahs, an extraordinary amount of bookings for a sales team of three, including Goldman.
Goldman’s best day was having U2 play the building. His worst was losing a show he thought he had secured but went to another venue.
A canceled Justin Bieber date, just 10 days before the play date, was a major headache. “We had it budgeted; we hate to disappoint fans; and it’s not a good look for any venue when an artist cancels,” said Goldman, clearly still annoyed by Bieber’s bailout. “The build¬ing was tied up for a week and got nothing.”
Attesting to Goldman’s twin skills of communication and relationship building, GM Patrick Talty said, “Jerry’s contacts in the industry are extensive which allows him to Goldman does it “all with a great sense of humor and isn’t afraid to laugh at himself or allow the team to joke with him.” Goldman’s colleagues still rib him about the time he was called ‘Jerry Johnson’ in a local news story. “As a prank, someone gave him a Coke with ‘Johnson’ on it— Jerry took it and placed it on his trophy wall. “That’s the kind of great per¬sonality that has allowed him to build all the relationships that make him successful.”
Goldman’s been with SMG for 15 years; previously he was the GM of Nassau Coliseum, Uniondale, N.Y. He’s married to social worker Heather and has three kids.
“I do want to acknowledge John Drum, the other AGM at the venue, who is in charge of operations. “I make the money and he spends it,” added Goldman, showing off his wit and wisdom. “We’re a team here.”
 


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Taking Risk Vs. Chasing Fees
 
Posted: 1 Dec 2017, 3:00 pm

"Our foundation will be bricks and mortar,” said Peter Luukko, president of Oak View Group’s Arena Alliance and now helming the [possibly] newest OVG division, OVG Facilities, with Tim Leiweke, founder and chairman, OVG.

The two have a long history in private management of venues, Luukko through years with SMG and Comcast¬Spectacor, where he formed Global Spectrum, which is now Spectra, and Lieweke through establishing AEG Facilities. Both in prior and current lives have managed venues as well.

That’s the key to this new venture, which officially launched with purchase of Pinnacle Venue Services in October of this year, bring-ing more veterans of private management, Tom Paquette and Doug Higgons, into the OVG Facilities fold.

That launch and OVG Facilities’ pledge to positively disrupt the sports and entertainment industry with new thinking based on broad experi¬ence secured the Venues Today Hall of Headlines Award for News for Luukko and Leiweke.

In some ways, this is “the more things change, the more they stay the same,” but Luukko points out that OVG Facilities is “a dif-ferent platform. When we started Global Spectrum, we were doing it out of the arena, First Union Center at the time [now Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia], and we had the platform of the National Hockey League (NHL) team and National Basketball League (NBA) team. We were going to add accounts and really look¬ing to get into primarily the fee business.”

Chasing the fee business is pretty much 99 percent of municipal bidding, Luukko added, “and that was really our niche. The difference here is that we’re well capitalized by our founders, Tim, Irving [Azoff} and MSG [Madison Square Garden], and we will not only be bidding on the fee business but our foundation will be around bricks and mortar,” Luukko said.
Luukko and Leiweke are working hard on two brick and mortar projects that will anchor that foundation, the rebuild of KeyArena, Seattle, which OVG has been awarded, and construction of a new Islanders arena in Belmont Park, New York, which OVG will manage for the group which won the bid to build it this month.
Even in the fee business, they will be cre¬ative, willing to take risk and up the ante, Leiweke said, lauding OVG’s luck at having Luukko leading the charge with his experience and knowledge, along with the fact Leiweke personally has been in venue management more than 30 years. The combination, along with purchase of Pinnacle, gives OVG Facilities “instant infrastructure.” Now they’ve added veteran venue manager Steve Mattson in the Northwest, based in Seattle.
The goal? “To make OVG Facilities the biggest venue management company in the world, and I welcome the challenge,” Leiweke said. Two¬year¬old OVG has been on a growth spree second to none and includes, full disclo¬sure, purchase of Venues Today and Pollstar.

Leiweke said the strategy is “resources and relationships” and OVG is “100 percent committed. Yes, we will invest money. Yes, we will bid on projects, some of which are under¬utilized. We like taking risk and sharing the upside. That’s our model.”

OVG Facilities will bid on The Greek, Los Angeles, for instance, Leiweke said. It will be in the mix when contracts go out to bid and Leiweke guaranteed that OVG Facilities will “grow quickly.”

Luukko concurred wholeheartedly. In some bids, the approach will be “we have an alternative. We can guarantee your bottom line and/or put capital into your business. We will look to step up and make those financial guarantees,” Luukko said, though he declined to name examples yet.
Published reports have them working on a potential booking deal with Rupp Arena, Lexington, Ky.; and a rebuild of the Norfolk (Va.) Scope, which is in pricing mode.

“The key I’ve learned over the years is you have to be a good listener and tailor your deals to the needs of the client. The key is to be flex¬ible,” Luukko said. “This is strictly manage¬ment, you don’t need capital? Fine, we’ll be a manager. If you’re looking for $10 million to put into the building, we can propose some¬thing long-term for capital needs.

“Tim is the greatest I’ve ever seen at see¬ing more opportunity than maybe others do. That’s the positive disruption,” Luukko said.

OVG Facilities also benefits from every¬thing OVG, which is a many-faceted company already, including security and sponsorship divisions. “We have the capital, but also the cre¬ativity and obviously the music angle,” Luukko said. “We have Irving Azoff as an owner. And then, on our professional sports side, even though we don’t own a team, obviously Tim, myself and others have great relationships in all the leagues, so I think we have that covered.”

Higgons has seen that dynamic phenome¬non that is becoming OVG Facilities firsthand since he sold his company and says selling to OVG Facilities is “great. Being part of an organization with Tim and Peter opens doors to opportunities we just didn’t have. We’ve only been part of the organization for two months and there are a lot of irons in the fire.”

Luukko is one of Higgons’ mentors and Higgons says Luukko’s leadership skills are exemplary. “There really isn’t a challenge he hasn’t seen at some point.” Leiweke “brings passion and optimism and vision to the mix,” Higgons added, noting, “we’re getting the band back together in some ways.”

Luukko loves that most of the people in OVG Facilities started from the bottom and worked their way up. They’ve learned from mistakes and know all the ingredients needed to bake a successful deal. People make great companies, Luukko said.

“That’s the reward for people being in this business so long,” Luukko said: relationships and resources.

 


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IAFE Members Explore the Benefits of Change
 
Posted: 29 Nov 2017, 8:00 pm

Rick Vymlatil, South Florida Fair & Palm Beach County Expositions, West Palm Beach, and incoming chair of the International Association of Fairs & Expositions (IAFE), is seen with Marla Calico, IAFE president and CEO. (VT Photo)

REPORTING FROM LAS VEGAS — After four record years attendance-wise, the Minnesota State Fair, St. Paul, is still configured and programmed for 1.5 million people. In 2016, it drew 1.9 million, and management thought, “wow, we won’t see that again,” and then they did.

Those growing pains are a good thing to have and Jerry Hammer, manager of the St. Paul event, was looking at options both here, during the International Association of Fairs & Expositions convention Nov. 26-29, and back home, where he was headed for another round of expansion planning.

“We’re looking at sea containers,” he said of planned outdoor/indoor development, particularly for the Pet Center, which is currently in a warehouse. [Coincidentally, yet another architect is looking at sea containers in new construction – see the story on Qatar’s World Cup stadium in this VT Pulse.)

Hammer doesn’t see the fair and festival business slowing down because “people are hard wired to share experiences. Ours happen to be traditional agricultural shows,” he said of what state fairs have in common with all live entertainment, which is on an upswing.

The vibe was upbeat at this year’s IAFE convention, where Cynthia Hoye, manager of the Indiana State Fair, Indianapolis, was inducted into the IAFE Hall of Fame; Becky Brashear, Maryland State Fair, Timonium, completed her term as IAFE chair, and Rick Vymlatil, South Florida Fair & Palm Beach County Expositions Inc., West Palm Beach, stepped into that role.

Even the pending move to San Antonio for the next four years, after holding this convention in Vegas for the last 40, was looked upon as positive. Marla Calico, IAFE president and CEO, said member feedback has been pro-San Antonio — change is good. There will be eight convention hotels in San Antonio, something for everyone, and events will take place at the convention center.

“We’re moving to the convention center model,” she said, assuring anyone who is concerned about being “spread out” that all but two of the hotels and the convention center in San Antonio fit in a footprint the size of the Vegas headquarters hotels, Bally’s and Paris. There is also no smoking in the convention center and San Antonio is more affordable for eating out, she said.

The fact that the IAFE convention skewed more than 50 percent women for the first time last year also informed the decision to move out of Vegas. “It’s the number two culinary destination in the world,” Calico said, quoting a magazine article and noting the Culinary Institute of America is headquartered there.

She expects attendance to possibly increase with the change. Numbers were not in yet for this year’s convention, which closes tomorrow, but she said it has held steady at about 4,000 for the last few conventions, which includes Outdoor Amusement Business Association and Showmen’s League of America registrants as well

Brashear added that San Antonio is a family-friendly city with restaurants, culture and sightseeing. The newcomers to the industry, in particular, are open to change, she said.

To that end, conventioneers spent several sessions hammering out the fair industry of the future, what it will look like in 20 years. Results will be published next year. “We need to be ready for 2030,” Brashear said. The sessions were an open discussion.

brashear600.jpg

Robert Fogle and Becky Brashear of the Maryland State Fair, Timonium, celebrate with new Certified Fair Executives as a reception during IAFE. (VT Photo)

Brashear’s main takeaway from this year’s gathering is the significance of “the engagement piece,” meaning the need to offer participatory exhibits and entertainment, which is critical to drawing the next generation of fairgoers.

For Tracey Gardner, GM, Mississippi State Fair, Jackson, a primary takeaway was that people come to the fair to eat. Some come for the rides, some for entertainment, some for agricultural exhibits, some for commercial exhibits, but they all eat.

On the state fair highway, food is the center lane, she said, while admitting hers is a flat-fee fair. Concessionaires pay a flat fee per front foot — from $118-$147— so the fair does not participate in the upside on a percentage basis. This year, for the first time, they did change from one flat fee to a graduated charge, depending on location.

Gardner noted the Mississippi State Fair is currently without a CEO, having said goodbye to Rick Reno two days after the October event, which drew 701,000 attendees. The board has not yet announced plans for a new CEO.

She was headed home to host the Dixie National Rodeo, which moves in in February, and to watch construction of a new trade center which will be under construction by spring and is being designed by Populous (see story in the November issue of Venues Today.)

Change is underway at the Central Washington State Fair, Yakima, as well. GM Greg Stewart said the new $2-million catering kitchen, which was approved two years ago, is about to become reality. Design is done and construction will be out to bid in January. They will break ground in March and debut the new improvement, which is housed in the Sundome arena, at next year’s fair. This year’s fair drew 323,000, Stewart said.

The new catering kitchen comes on the heels of a change from self-op to hiring Spectra as concessionaire. They came on board Aug. 1, with Phil Hossler as GM.

“Find your niche and think outside the box,” said Renee Alexander, Minnesota State Fair, St. Paul, entertainment buyer of her takeaway, particularly from the panel on entertainment she moderated. For some fairs, that has meant booking boxing, for some it’s more gasoline events (motorsports), and for some, like Minnesota, there has been great success with comedy.

Food and drink was top of mind for many who attended sessions for certification on that topic. Rey O’Day of the National Independent Concessionaires Association, got down to the nitty gritty of making the customer comfortable.

“If you see a lonely bottle somewhere, throw it away, because a single piece of trash becomes a trash can,” she said. And that pile accumulates rapidly.

On a management note, O’Day suggested concessions managers schedule times to be in the office versus on the grounds, which makes it easier to make appointments rather than spending the fair hunting each other down. “A lot of times, people who schedule appointments solve the problem before their appointed time,” she noted.

Another topic top of mind with many conventioneers was this year's tragic ride accident at the Ohio State Fair, Columbus, which impacted other fairs down the line and worldwide. Representatives from that fair, that fair’s PR firm and the carnival industry dissected the response and lessons learned in 2017, which Venues Today will recap next week in the Dec. 6 VT Pulse.

A key takeaway was that venue managers should remember this is their business and they need to get in front of any crisis with their own key audience, which is the people they do business with directly. When there is a food recall, for instance, David Margulies, The Margulies Communications Group, advises his clients to call Walmart or whoever buys their product first – don’t let them hear it via social or news media.

“The focus is on keeping your business going, which is much more important to you than it is to the media,” Margulies said.


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TicketForce Wins USSSA Contract
 
Posted: 29 Nov 2017, 7:25 pm

USSSA Space Coast Complex has moved to Brevard County, Fla., and will open in early January with TicketForce as their ticketing partner.

TicketForce and United States Specialty Sports Association (USSSA) Space Coast Complex, Viera, Fla., are partnering on ticketing for the multi-field venue, including all ticket sales —online and walkup.

This state of the art, multi-sport complex will be holding its first event on Jan. 5, 2018, after moving 75 miles from Osceola County and leaving the Disney Sports family.

The new home of USSSA will feature four National Collegiate Athletic Associations (NCAA) regulation softball fields, four NCAA regulation baseball fields, four practice fields, and an 18,000-sq.-ft. indoor training and rehab center. It’s expected to host everything from youth baseball to fast-pitch and slow-pitch events.

The field is currently home to the USSSA Pride, a National Pro Women’s Fast-Pitch team, and earlier this year was awarded the hosting rights to the 2018 Women’s Baseball World Cup, which will take place in August. This will be the first time the tournament will be held in the United States.

The agreement with the Tourist Development Council (TDC) of Brevard County is for 20 years. The facility will host 40,000 events a year. All the events are ticketed. The facility will be operational in the beginning of 2018.

“The TicketForce platform stood out for its online and mobile capabilities, the option to add additional products to the sale before check-out, as well as overall flexibility,” said Kevin Reynolds, GM, USSSA. “We are excited to show our association and our guests this system. They can purchase online with no added fees to print at home or save on smart phone tickets. They will be able to avoid the lines when they arrive, park the car, head to the entrance and enjoy the event in our state of the art complex.”

Reynolds said that he chose TicketForce because they have “a dynamic ticketing system that can do a lot of things and not just sell tickets.”

The TicketForce system is designed for both presales and walkup sales, which the facility expects to be a major part of the ticketing process.

“I also liked that TicketForce doesn’t nickel-and-dime their customers with this fee and that fee,” said Reynolds. “We have low ticket prices here, and we want to keep the price low and not alienate the fans with printing fees and download fees.”

Reynolds is also impressed with the technology of TicketForce. “We have a lot of people coming from towns that want pictures and merchandise, and TicketForce allows us to integrate all that into the system, as well as concessions,” he said. “TicketForce makes it all easy and we determined they would be the best fit.”

The USSSA concessionaire is a local company, Collins Catering & Events, and the merchandise company is Boombah, a manufacturer of shirts, uniforms, and hats. “Merchandise is a healthy percentage of our revenue,” he said.

“We have people who come for three-to-four days at a stretch, from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m., and we need to serve that dynamic, so we change 35 percent of the offerings everyday,” he explained. “The same concession food would go stale after day one, so changing the selections is a great way to keep up the F&B sales.”

The contract with TicketForce is for three years, and Reynolds expects to sell about 500,000 tickets in year one at the new site.

Lynne King Smith, CEO, TicketForce, said that her company is “thrilled with the deal for Space Coast Complex.”

King Smith said the talks started with USSSA “around six months ago” and the contract was signed in early November. Ticket sales will start in in January. “We’re set up for digital sales, but USSSA has a lot of walkup sales; we’re particularly strong in that area, and that’s a big component of what we will bring to them,” she said.

“There’s a lot of good technology out there, but we really understand their needs,” she said.

TicketForce, based in Phoenix, has several Florida-based clients including Florida Theatre, Jacksonville; Tampa Theatre; and Palm Beach State College. Last year, TicketForce clients sold more than $80 million worth of tickets.


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Conference centers revamp to provide connectivity
 
Posted: 1 May 2017, 8:00 pm

Addressing profound changes in how their customers are approaching learning, many conference centers are in a process of reinvention

More...


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Convention centers design for a sense of place
 
Posted: 4 Apr 2017, 8:00 pm

Many convention centers are striving to reflect and showcase their locations.

More...


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Groups in Greater Boston utilize college campuses
 
Posted: 31 Oct 2016, 8:00 pm

An exceedingly intelligent choice for meetings and events.

More...


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CEIR Releases Third Report in Attendee Retention Insights Series
 
Posted: 24 May 2016, 1:00 am
DALLAS, 24 May 2016 ? The Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR) announced today the release of the third report in its newest series, 2016 Attendee Retention Insights Part Three: Education Content that Builds a Loyal Alumni Attendee Audience. This landmark body of research offers organizers a comprehensive resource to help understand the profile of attendees that visit an exhibition repeatedly and the content that turns them into loyal customers.

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CEIR Releases Second Report in Attendee Retention Insights Series
 
Posted: 10 May 2016, 1:00 am
DALLAS, 10 May 2016 ? The Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR) announced today the release of the second report in its newest series, 2016 Attendee Retention Insights Part Two: Exhibition Floor Features that Build a Loyal Alumni Attendee Audience. This landmark body of research offers organizers a comprehensive resource to help understand the profile of attendees that visit an exhibition repeatedly and the content that turns them into loyal customers

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Fourth Annual IAEE Women’s Leadership Forum Another Sold Out Event
 
Posted: 4 May 2016, 1:00 am
DALLAS, 4 May 2016 ? The International Association of Exhibitions and Events? (IAEE) celebrates another successful Women?s Leadership Forum on 26 April 2016 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C. More than 200 attendees sold out this year?s event which featured education sessions for women at all stages of their career.

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IAEE Now Accepting Applications for 2016 Bob Dallmeyer Education Fund Grants
 
Posted: 3 May 2016, 1:00 am
DALLAS, 3 May 2016 ? The International Association of Exhibitions and Events? (IAEE) has opened the application process for the 2016 Bob Dallmeyer Education Fund Grants, which aid qualified professionals in their pursuit of continuing education and career development in the exhibitions and events industry.

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IAEE Now Accepting 2016 Helen Brett Scholarship Applications
 
Posted: 2 May 2016, 1:00 am
DALLAS, 2 May 2016 ? The International Association of Exhibitions and EventsTM (IAEE) has opened the application process for the Helen Brett Scholarship awards in 2016. The scholarship serves to promote the exhibitions and events industry by attracting college-level students into the field of study and encouraging their pursuit with financial support.

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Conference center education shifts dramatically
 
Posted: 30 Apr 2016, 8:00 pm

The times they are a changin’, and all for the better from this reporter’s perspective.

More...


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CEIR Debuts New Report Series Focusing on Attendee Retention
 
Posted: 28 Apr 2016, 1:00 am
DALLAS, 28 April 2016 ? The Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR) announced today the release of the first report in its newest series, 2016 Attendee Retention Insights. Reports from this exciting new, landmark study offers organizers a comprehensive resource to help understand the profile of attendees that visit an exhibition repeatedly and the content that turns them into a loyal fanbase. The series consists of five reports, beginning with Part One: Basics for Creating Your Attendee Retention Strategy: Tracking, Profiling and Why They Come Back.

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IAEE Public Events Council Releases 2016 Survey Report
 
Posted: 26 Apr 2016, 1:00 am
DALLAS, 26 April 2016 ? Today, the International Association of Exhibitions and Events? (IAEE) Public Events Council released its Public Events Industry Report: 2015 Results. In 2009, the Public Events Council distributed a survey to public event organizers across 22 public events industry sectors to examine overall industry performance. The report identified which public events industry sectors fared well, which sectors struggled and their expectations for the future. As a follow-up to the benchmark report, the survey is repeated annually with subsequent reports detailing individual and comparative statistics over the years.

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Your Industry - Your Voice!
 
Posted: 22 Apr 2016, 1:00 am

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CEM Week - Register Now!
 
Posted: 18 Apr 2016, 1:00 am

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2016 CEIR Index Report Now Available
 
Posted: 13 Apr 2016, 1:00 am
DALLAS, 12 April 2016 ? Today, the Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR) released the 2016 CEIR Index Report. The CEIR Index analyzes the 2015 exhibition industry and provides a future outlook for the next three years. Despite widespread pessimism and deceleration of activity during the fourth quarter, the U.S. economy still displayed significant signs of strength in 2015, led by personal consumption and residential construction. These strengths were offset partially by deterioration in energy development and net exports to produce real GDP growth of 2.4%. According to CEIR?s current projection, 2016 growth will be about the same, or perhaps slightly weaker as the trade gap widens further, before GDP accelerates in 2018 (see Figure 1).

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IAEE Renews Reciprocity Agreement with JEXA
 
Posted: 5 Apr 2016, 1:00 am
DALLAS, 5 April 2016 ? The International Association of Exhibitions and Events? (IAEE) and the Japan Exhibition Association (JEXA) announced the renewal of a reciprocity agreement to benefit members of both organizations. Originally signed in 2012, the agreement renews the commitment of IAEE and JEXA to promote and develop the exhibitions and events industries in their respective countries through membership collaboration.

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IAEE Announces New Chapter in India
 
Posted: 4 Apr 2016, 1:00 am
DALLAS, 4 April 2016 ? The International Association of Exhibitions and Events? (IAEE) announces the addition of its latest chapter in Asia, the IAEE India Chapter. The IAEE Board of Directors approved the creation of this new chapter during its meeting held 31 March 2016 at the HITEX Exhibition Center in Hyderabad, India.

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Convention centers transform to meet attendees’ needs
 
Posted: 1 Apr 2016, 8:00 pm

Generic big-box convention centers seem to be going the way of the buggy whip and typewriter.

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IAEE MATSO Council Adds New Content for May Meeting
 
Posted: 31 Mar 2016, 1:00 am
DALLAS, 31 March 2016 ? The International Association of Exhibitions and Events? (IAEE) MATSO Council?s program for this year?s MATSO Spring Program on 23-24 May 2016 at McCormick Place in Chicago, Ill. will focus on exchanging information that address challenges, share best practices and understand the changing landscape of Tier 1 cities.

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IAEE Awards Jacqueline Russo with 2016 Woman of Achievement Award
 
Posted: 30 Mar 2016, 1:00 am
DALLAS, 30 March 2016 ? The International Association of Exhibitions and Events? (IAEE) proudly congratulates Jacqueline Russo, Vice President of Kuehne + Nagel, Inc., as this year?s recipient of the IAEE Woman of Achievement Award. This award recognizes a woman who has led the way in the advancement of women in the exhibitions and events industry, exhibited outstanding leadership, and made significant contributions to the industry and her community.

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CEIR Releases New Industry Insight Series Report Written by Candy Adams
 
Posted: 29 Mar 2016, 1:00 am
DALLAS, 29 March 2016 ? Today the Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR) announces a new Industry Insight Series report, 99 Cost-Savings Tips and Tricks for Exhibit Managers written by Candy Adams, CTSM, CME, CEM, CMP, CMM, a revered and well-known exhibition industry veteran and owner of ?The Booth Mom? Trade Show Consulting.

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IAEE Announces 2016 Krakoff Leadership Institute
 
Posted: 28 Mar 2016, 1:00 am
DALLAS, 28 March 2016 ? Registration is now open for the International Association of Exhibitions and Events? (IAEE) Krakoff Leadership Institute (KLI) to be held 7-9 August 2016 at The Waterfront Beach Resort, A Hilton Hotel in Huntington Beach, Calif. The program is open to IAEE members interested in enhancing their strategic skills, and broadening their knowledge as current and future leaders in the exhibitions and events industry.

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IAEE Congratulates its 2016 International Excellence Award Recipient
 
Posted: 17 Mar 2016, 1:00 am
DALLAS, 17 March 2016 ? The International Association of Exhibitions and Events? (IAEE) congratulates Edward J. Krause III (Ned), President and CEO of E.J. Krause & Associates, Inc. (EJK) as this year?s recipient of the IAEE International Excellence Award. The IAEE International Excellence Award recognizes an individual or organization that has made exceptional strides in creating, launching and managing an international event in the exhibitions and events industry on an international scale.

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CEIR Releases Final Digital Toolkit Report
 
Posted: 15 Mar 2016, 1:00 am
DALLAS, 15 March 2015 ? Today, the Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR) announced the release of the final report in the CEIR Digital Toolkit series. The new report, entitled Focus Report on Exhibition Organizer Onsite and Post-event Offerings provides an in-depth look at attendee preferences compared to business-to-business exhibition offerings for show mobile apps, as well as other onsite digital amenities and post-event digital communications.

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IAEE MATSO Council Announces City Working Group Initiative, Finalizes Governance Procedures
 
Posted: 9 Mar 2016, 1:00 am
DALLAS, 9 March 2016 ? The International Association of Exhibitions and Events? (IAEE) MATSO Council announced it will resurrect city task force updates following a recent council meeting that focused on future programming and governance procedures.

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IAEE Announces 2016 Call for Nominations for Individual Awards
 
Posted: 8 Mar 2016, 1:00 am
DALLAS, 8 March 2016 ? Today, the International Association of Exhibitions and Events? (IAEE) has opened the Call for Nominations for its annual awards program to recognize exceptional professionals in the exhibitions and events industry. Industry professionals who meet the outlined criteria may be nominated for any of the awards listed below, and recipients will be honored at Expo! Expo! IAEE?s Annual Meeting & Exhibition to be held 6-8 December in Anaheim, Calif.

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Conference center experts weigh in on five hot trends
 
Posted: 30 Apr 2015, 8:00 pm

Here is the top feedback when it comes to staging cutting-edge conference meets.

More...


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Convention center tradeshows focus on interaction
 
Posted: 31 Mar 2015, 8:00 pm

Are you fully engaging your attendees?

More...


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State College brims with entertaining endeavors
 
Posted: 30 Oct 2014, 8:00 pm

When it comes to putting fun on the agenda, State College is one smart choice.

More...


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AEG Live acquires two historic Virginia theatres
 
Posted: 16 Oct 2014, 2:57 pm
Those theatres are The National Theatre in Richmond and The NorVa Theatre in Norfolk, Virginia.

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Yarra, Australia, creates venue soundproofing fund
 
Posted: 16 Oct 2014, 2:57 pm
The city house 500 venues, 50 of them live music venues.

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Ebola and the venue industry
 
Posted: 16 Oct 2014, 2:57 pm
IAVM is actively monitoring the impact of recent Ebola incidents. At the direction of Chair Kim Bedier, CFE ? in collaboration with our Industry Affairs Council and key IAVM staff ? an Ebola task force has been formed to work on relevant communications to the IAVM community.

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Wesley Burtch Dickson
 
Posted: 16 Oct 2014, 2:57 pm
Wes founded his business, Advanced Equipment Corp., in 1957. In 1959, the business moved to Orange County, California.

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Close encounter of the third kind with Google Glass, part 2
 
Posted: 16 Oct 2014, 2:57 pm
More from Portland?5?s Joe Durr about this ?cool? technology product.

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Can a team have too much talent?
 
Posted: 16 Oct 2014, 2:57 pm
Yes, and here?s why having too much talent on a team is bad.

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Shared activities make experiences more intense
 
Posted: 16 Oct 2014, 2:57 pm
Here?s some scientific support on the value of live experiences.

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New Miami convention center and hotel approved
 
Posted: 16 Oct 2014, 2:57 pm
The new development will be on the site of the old Miami Arena.

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Session proposals wanted
 
Posted: 16 Oct 2014, 2:57 pm
Please submit your session ideas for IAVM?s conferences. Presentations cannot be sales pitches, and if your topic is selected, IAVM will contact you concerning the coordination of the session speaker/panelists.

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The Firestation Centre launches its neo-ticketing project
 
Posted: 16 Oct 2014, 2:57 pm
With its new project, the venue wants to find out if it will sell more tickets, if guests will get better deals, and if artists will earn more.

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VenueConnect's environmental impact was minimal
 
Posted: 16 Oct 2014, 2:57 pm
VenueConnect's is the first conference that the Oregon Convention Center has measured the water, waste, and energy statistics.

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Earl R. Williams
 
Posted: 16 Oct 2014, 2:57 pm
Earl was employed with Kimble Glass Co. and later Ball State University as Conference Director and General Manager of Emens Auditorium.

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Upcoming webinars
 
Posted: 16 Oct 2014, 2:57 pm
These two, free webinars next week will focus on becoming a CFE and the Mentor-Connector Program.

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Watch: Hugh Jackman talks about ticketing
 
Posted: 16 Oct 2014, 2:57 pm
Hugh Jackman and the show's producer are making sure pricing allows anyone that wants to see his new play will not have to worry about scalpers.

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Elmer Randolph 'Randy' Pugh
 
Posted: 16 Oct 2014, 2:57 pm
Randy was employed with the City of Virginia Beach as the Operations Supervisor of the Pavilion Convention Center from 1980-1999.

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The Marvel Experience lets you save the world
 
Posted: 16 Oct 2014, 2:57 pm
The event will incorporate augmented reality, multiperson gaming, and RFID tracking for full fan immersion.

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Cookie-cutter conference centers are a thing of the past
 
Posted: 30 Apr 2014, 8:00 pm

Today's conference centers are more about standing out than fitting in.

More...


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Five U.S. convention center highlights
 
Posted: 31 Mar 2014, 8:00 pm

A look at major convention center projects in Green Bay,  King of Prussia, New York, San Antonio and San Diego.

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Convention centers adapt to tradeshows of today
 
Posted: 31 Mar 2014, 8:00 pm

Modern convention centers are about experience as much as setting.

More...


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Scheduling events at Florida colleges and universities is a smart choice
 
Posted: 31 Mar 2014, 8:00 pm

Educational facilities throughout Florida give attendees a chance to relive the college experience.

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IACC Americas Conference Sees Attendee Uptick
 
Posted: 18 Mar 2014, 8:00 pm

The 2014 IACC Annual Conference reported it has attracted the most registered attendees since 2008.

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State College, Pennsylvania, is a happening, business-savvy hub
 
Posted: 27 Oct 2013, 8:00 pm

State College, home to Pennsylvania State University, welcomes groups with its vibrant ambiance and excellent on-campus (and off-site) facilities.

More...


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A Q&A with Mark Cooper, new CEO of the International Association of Conference Centres
 
Posted: 24 Apr 2013, 8:00 pm
IACC's new CEO shares his insights on the events industry

More...


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A quick take on recent openings and upgrades in the world of conference centers
 
Posted: 24 Apr 2013, 8:00 pm

More...


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Areas of Study
 
Posted: 17 Feb 2013, 7:00 pm
University meetings think outside of the classroom

More...


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Get Smart
 
Posted: 17 Feb 2013, 7:00 pm
On the fence about booking a college venue? These benefits might convince you.

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School Spirit
 
Posted: 17 Feb 2013, 7:00 pm
College stadiums and arenas are a classic choice for large groups

More...


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Billboard.biz Has Moved! Here's How to Get to Our New Site
 
Posted: 26 Jan 2013, 4:00 pm
On Saturday, January 26, Billboard.biz took a bold step forward in its evolution: Along with Billboard’s fully revamped magazine, newly launched iPad app and the relaunched Billboard.com, the all-new Billboard.biz has exciting new features and functionalities that will allow us to lead the essential conversations around the music business and its community in better and bigger ways than ever before. But we've moved servers -- here are details on where to find us while until our migration is complete.

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A Preview of This Week's Billboard
 
Posted: 25 Jan 2013, 6:29 pm
Justin Bieber has granted only one major interview for the Jan. 29 release of his new album Believe Acoustic. Billboard got it. In his fourth cover story for us, Bieber opens up to editorial director Bill Werde.

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Exclusive: HSN Partners With Las Vegas' Venetian On Concert Series
 
Posted: 25 Jan 2013, 3:33 pm
HSN is taking its Live music division on the road with a Las Vegas residency at the Venetial Resort Hotel Casino.The series kicks off Feb. 8 with Michael Bolton, who will debut his new studio album, "Ain’t No Mountain High Enough: A Tribute to Hitsville U.S.A." with Motown greats Smokey Robinson, Valerie Simpson and Martha Reeves as well as Kelly Rowland and Melanie Fiona

Read the full article

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Exclusive: HSN Partners With Las Vegas' Venetian On Concert Series
 
Posted: 25 Jan 2013, 3:33 pm
HSN is taking its Live music division on the road with a Las Vegas residency at the Venetial Resort Hotel Casino.The series kicks off Feb. 8 with Michael Bolton, who will debut his new studio album, "Ain’t No Mountain High Enough: A Tribute to Hitsville U.S.A." with Motown greats Smokey Robinson, Valerie Simpson and Martha Reeves as well as Kelly Rowland and Melanie Fiona

Read the full article

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Coachella 2013 Lineup: Blur, Phoenix, Red Hot Chili Peppers Headlining
 
Posted: 25 Jan 2013, 12:35 am
Blur, the Stone Roses, Phoenix and Red Hot Chili Peppers top the lineup for the 2013 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, which was unveiled late on Thursday night (Jan. 24). The annual fest is set to once again take over Indio, Calif. on consecutive weekends, this year from Apr. 12-14 and Apr. 19-21.

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Ticketmaster Canada Names Patti-Anne Tarlton SVP/COO
 
Posted: 24 Jan 2013, 6:09 pm
Ticketmaster Canada has appointed Patti-Anne Tarlton senior VP and chief operating officer. In turn, current COO Tom Worrall will become chairman of Ticketmaster Canada.

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Exclusive: Flaming Lips to Star in Hyundai Super Bowl Commercial
 
Posted: 24 Jan 2013, 4:32 pm
When the Flaming Lips formed nearly 30 years ago, the notion that the group would be performing a song called "Sun Blows Up Today" in a Super Bowl ad would have been as surreal some of their lyrics. But that's exactly what will happen when the group stars in one of Hyundai's four spots during the big game,  a 60-second commercial that will feature the band on-camera performing a brand-new, custom-written song bearing that name.

Read the full article

............................................................



Exclusive: Flaming Lips to Star in Hyundai Super Bowl Commercial
 
Posted: 24 Jan 2013, 4:32 pm
When the Flaming Lips formed nearly 30 years ago, the notion that the group would be performing a song called "Sun Blows Up Today" in a Super Bowl ad would have been as surreal some of their lyrics. But that's exactly what will happen when the group stars in one of Hyundai's four spots during the big game,  a 60-second commercial that will feature the band on-camera performing a brand-new, custom-written song bearing that name.

Read the full article

............................................................



Pepsi, Vevo to Spotlight Best New Artists, 'X Factor' Winner Tate Stevens During Grammys
 
Posted: 24 Jan 2013, 12:54 pm
Pepsi has announced collaborations with Pandora and Vevo for the Grammy Awards. With Vevo, Pepsi will produce a video series based around the Best New Artists nominees; and with Pandora the company will curate a Best New Artist mixtape as well as genre stations.

Read the full article

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Mnet America Hosting Grammy-Week Party With K-Pop Star Ailee
 
Posted: 24 Jan 2013, 9:43 am
Billboard can exclusively reveal when, where and who will be at Mnet America's 1st Annual Pre-Grammy Party featuring a K-pop starlet, YouTube sensation and "The Voice" contestants.

Read the full article

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13 Points to Watch at MIDEM 2013
 
Posted: 24 Jan 2013, 8:00 am
As the world's largest trade fair for the music industry, MIDEM can be daunting to navigate. Last year's gathering drew more than 6,850 attendees from 77 countries, representing 3,120 companies, including 155 startups. So, how best to manage MIDEM?

Read the full article

............................................................



13 Points to Watch at MIDEM 2013
 
Posted: 24 Jan 2013, 8:00 am
As the world's largest trade fair for the music industry, MIDEM can be daunting to navigate. Last year's gathering drew more than 6,850 attendees from 77 countries, representing 3,120 companies, including 155 startups. So, how best to manage MIDEM?

Read the full article

............................................................



13 Points to Watch at MIDEM 2013
 
Posted: 24 Jan 2013, 8:00 am
As the world's largest trade fair for the music industry, MIDEM can be daunting to navigate. Last year's gathering drew more than 6,850 attendees from 77 countries, representing 3,120 companies, including 155 startups. So, how best to manage MIDEM?

Read the full article

............................................................



Downtown Sells Label to Cofounders, Focuses on Publishing
 
Posted: 24 Jan 2013, 7:00 am
Downtown Music LLC, the privately held parent company of Downtown Records and Downtown Music Publishing, today announced the sale of its recorded music business to cofounders Josh Deutsch and Terence Lam.

Read the full article

............................................................



Justin Timberlake Sets Live Return for Super Bowl Charity Show
 
Posted: 23 Jan 2013, 6:54 pm
Less than one month after the singer-turned-actor exploded back onto the music scene with "Suit & Tie," featuring Jay-Z, Timberlake will perform his first solo concert in several years during Super Bowl weekend.

Read the full article

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Black Keys File Third Lawsuit Against 'Soundalikes' in TV Commercials
 
Posted: 23 Jan 2013, 6:50 pm
After settling two lawsuits with Pizza Hut and Home Depot in December over alleged use of its songs in commercials, the Black Keys have filed a third lawsuit -- this time, against Pinnacle Entertainment, which runs casinos throughout the United States, and Manhattan Production Music, a company that creates music for commercial advertising.

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Exclusive: Verizon Teams With Jill Scott for Black History Month Campaign
 
Posted: 23 Jan 2013, 6:24 pm
Verizon has teamed with Jill Scott for a multi-tiered print, TV and online advertising campaign to coincide with Black History Month, a rare artist endorsement deal for both parties, Billboard has learned.

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Madonna's 'MDNA' Tour Makes Billboard Boxscore's All-Time Top 10
 
Posted: 23 Jan 2013, 6:05 pm
The globe-trotting "MDNA" tour marks Madonna's ascent into the elite ranks of touring acts -- and makes her the top touring female artist of all time.

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Ultra Music and Sony Announce Partnership, Patrick Moxey Named President of Electronic Music
 
Posted: 23 Jan 2013, 3:48 pm
Sony Music and Ultra Music -- the electronic/dance record label, publishing house, management company and media platform owned and operated by Patrick Moxey -- have announced a globe-spanning strategic partnership between the two companies. As part of the deal Moxey was named president of electronic music for Sony Music Worldwide.

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............................................................



Ultra Music and Sony Announce Partnership, Patrick Moxey Named President of Electronic Music
 
Posted: 23 Jan 2013, 3:48 pm
Sony Music and Ultra Music -- the electronic/dance record label, publishing house, management company and media platform owned and operated by Patrick Moxey -- have announced a globe-spanning strategic partnership between the two companies. As part of the deal Moxey was named president of electronic music for Sony Music Worldwide.

Read the full article

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Searching For The Next 'Sugar Man'? Try 'Twenty Feet From Stardom'
 
Posted: 23 Jan 2013, 1:30 pm
This year's Sundance had a half-dozen music-driven docs, including: Dave Grohl's "Sound City," "History of the Eagles, Part One," "Pussy Riot -- A Punk Prayer," "Narco Culturo" and "Mussel Shoals" -- all fine films. But the power of Morgan Neville's "Twenty Feet From Stardom," a story chronicling of the lives of background singers who sang on era-defining records from the 1960s into the 1990s, is such that it transcends the typical music documentary ecliciting gasps of disbelief, spontaneous applause and tears. It's a winner.

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Exclusive: SFX Acquires ID&T, Voodoo Experience
 
Posted: 23 Jan 2013, 8:05 am
SFX Entertainment has added five new companies to its portfolio, including Voodoo Experience and ID&T -- the largest dance-event promoter in the world -- according to its president Robert F.X. Sillerman. While recent chatter has hinted that Insomniac Events, the producer of Electric Daisy Carnival, would imminently announce a sale to Sillerman, the ID&T news might make that less likely -- although Sillerman didn't rule it out...

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Building the $100 Billion Dollar Music Business: Guest Post by Tom Silverman
 
Posted: 23 Jan 2013, 8:00 am
In this guest post, New Music Seminar/Tommy Boy Entertainment founder Tom Silverman describes how we can grow the music business into one that reaches $100 billion in annual retail revenue in the next decade.

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Three Directors Step Down at Sirius XM Radio as Liberty Media Takes Control
 
Posted: 22 Jan 2013, 4:50 pm
Leon Black, Lawrence Gilberti and Jack Shaw resign from the board of the satellite firm.  

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Billboard's New iPad App: Try It Now for Free!
 
Posted: 22 Jan 2013, 3:59 pm
Along with our fully revamped glossy magazine, which we unveiled today, Billboard has also introduced the new iPad edition of Billboard -- the complete weekly magazine reinvented for your iPad with interactive extras. Subscribe today to experience this week’s issue absolutely for free!

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Exclusive: Lionel Richie Signs With Red Light Management
 
Posted: 22 Jan 2013, 3:08 pm
Legendary hit maker Lionel Richie has signed with Red Light Management for representation, Billboard.biz has learned. This is the second major signing of the young year for RLM, which recently added Tiesto to its growing list of clients.

Read the full article

............................................................



Exclusive: Lionel Richie Signs With Red Light Management
 
Posted: 22 Jan 2013, 3:08 pm
Legendary hit maker Lionel Richie has signed with Red Light Management for representation, Billboard.biz has learned. This is the second major signing of the young year for RLM, which recently added Tiesto to its growing list of clients.

Read the full article

............................................................



Exclusive: Kobalt Launches Label Services Division, Preps New Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds Release
 
Posted: 22 Jan 2013, 2:07 pm
Not only did Kobalt sign a deal with Dave Grohl this week ( the company is also formally introducing a new Label Services division that will handle digital and physical releases for independent artists as well as Kobalt clients. Though the division has quietly released several albums in recent months, it will gain major attention next month with the release of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds’ “Push the Sky Away,” due out Feb. 18 through Kobalt Label Services  and Cave’s Bad Seed Ltd.

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Clive Davis To Speak At SXSW
 
Posted: 22 Jan 2013, 12:34 pm
Clive Davis will speak at South by Southwest (SXSW) Music and Media Conference and Festival on Thursday March 14, the festival announced today. His speech comes shortly after the release of his new autobiography “The Soundtrack of My Life.”

Read the full article

............................................................



Live Nation Strikes Deal to Host Concerts at London Olympic Stadium
 
Posted: 22 Jan 2013, 11:00 am
Live events giant Live Nation has struck a deal that gives it exclusive rights to organize concerts and music festivals in the British capital's Olympic Park and Olympic Stadium this summer.

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............................................................



Two Voices of the Rolling Stones Meet for the First Time at Sundance Screening
 
Posted: 22 Jan 2013, 10:32 am
Lisa Fischer has sung female lead parts for the Rolling Stones on every tour since 1989, but it wasn't until film director Morgan Neville assembled a meeting of backup singers at Sundance that Fischer and Merry Clayton, a crucial vocalist in the music of Mick Jagger and the boys, would be in the same room together.

Read the full article

............................................................



Welcome to the New Billboard
 
Posted: 21 Jan 2013, 7:00 pm
The Jan. 26 edition of Billboard features a cover-story interview with Prince, but that world exclusive is accompanied by something else: A whole new magazine. This week, Billboard relaunches, and from the new logo on the front cover to the information packed graphic on the back page, the magazine is dedicated to the delivery of business journalism that leads and informs the essential conversations around the music and businesses it covers.

Read the full article

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Beyonce, Kelly Clarkson Add Soaring Voices to Obama's Inauguration
 
Posted: 21 Jan 2013, 4:22 pm
The inauguration of the President of the United States is a celebrated event indeed, even if it's effectively the follow-up to what was a landmark occasion four years ago. But if there's anyone who can bring the (white) house down, it's one of America's most beloved singing ladies, the first "American Idol," a songwriting legend and a showstopping choir.

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Warner Music, NMPA Reach Agreement on Royalty Rate for Music Videos
 
Posted: 21 Jan 2013, 2:43 pm
The Warner Music Group has become the second major label to agree to pay songwriters and publishers a royalty from revenue they derive from music videos, in a deal negotiated by the National Music Publishers' Association.

Read the full article

............................................................



Tim Leiweke on AEG Sale: 'We're Getting Down to the Final Straws'
 
Posted: 21 Jan 2013, 2:42 pm
The sale of Anschutz Entertainment Group is “taking longer” than expected, AEG CEO, Tim Leiweke told Billboard.biz, but not due to lack of interest. While Leiweke declined to mention who the serious bidders were, he did indicate that the field has narrowed.  “We’re getting down to the final straws here,” he said.

Read the full article

............................................................



Tim Leiweke on AEG Sale: 'We're Getting Down to the Final Straws'
 
Posted: 21 Jan 2013, 2:42 pm
The sale of Anschutz Entertainment Group is “taking longer” than expected, AEG CEO, Tim Leiweke told Billboard.biz, but not due to lack of interest. While Leiweke declined to mention who the serious bidders were, he did indicate that the field has narrowed.  “We’re getting down to the final straws here,” he said.

Read the full article

............................................................



'Pussy Riot - A Punk Prayer,' 'Twenty Feet From Stardom' Sell At Sundance
 
Posted: 21 Jan 2013, 6:17 am
Add “Pussy Riot — A Punk Prayer” to the growing music-centric documentaries sold at the Sundance Film Festival. HBO Docs acquired U.S. TV rights to the political documentary that received its world premiere Jan. 18. "Twenty Feet From Stardom," which tells the stories of several prominent backup singers, sold on Thursday to Radius and the Weinstein Co.

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............................................................



Kim Dotcom Launches Mega, New File-Sharing Service
 
Posted: 19 Jan 2013, 4:09 pm
Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom has unveiled a new file-sharing website called Mega. "As of this minute one year ago #Megaupload was destroyed by the US Government," Dotcom tweeted on Saturday, along with a link to the new site.

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............................................................



Dave Grohl's Sound City Players Tear It Up at Sundance
 
Posted: 19 Jan 2013, 2:05 pm
Hours after his "Sound City" documentary premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, Dave Grohl took 800 fans on a three-hour musical odyssey at Park City Live that emphasized his personal connection to the Van Nuys, Calif., recording studio his film chronicles.

Read the full article

............................................................



Obama Inauguration Music Guide: Katy Perry to Q-Tip
 
Posted: 19 Jan 2013, 1:41 pm
Just as Barack Obama's 2009 inauguration drew stars from Beyonce to Aretha Franklin, the president's re-election has led to another can't-miss week for music fans. We've hiked through Capital Hill's extensive inauguration schedule to bring you a list of the week's biggest balls.

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Sony/ATV's Martin Bandier on New, 'Quite Reasonable' Pandora Deal
 
Posted: 18 Jan 2013, 7:00 pm
Sony/ATV pulled a major coup earlier this week by negotiating a higher royalty rate from Pandora. Chairman/CEO Martin Bandier spoke with Billboard.biz about the deal.

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Backbeat: The Surreal APAP Convention Hall: From Tibetan Monks to Lez Zeppelin, Branson On the Road to Slask
 
Posted: 18 Jan 2013, 6:00 pm
In many regards the convention hall at the annual Association of Performing Arts Presenters in New York CIty resembles nothing so much as a Fellini film. Here, Tibetan Monks, Polish folk dancers, Lez Zeppelin and, of course, a golden praying mantis, all man booths before thousands of curators, agents, and promoters from across the country who trod the Hilton New York's carpeted aisles looking to book their 2014-2015 seasons.

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Six Music-Related Issues Facing This Administration and Congress
 
Posted: 18 Jan 2013, 4:45 pm
From performance royalties to deciding how musicians travel with their instruments on airplanes, numerous issues central to the music industry are alive Washington D.C. as the city prepares for the president inauguration on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

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Six Music-Related Issues Facing This Administration and Congress
 
Posted: 18 Jan 2013, 4:45 pm
From performance royalties to deciding how musicians travel with their instruments on airplanes, numerous issues central to the music industry are alive Washington D.C. as the city prepares for the president inauguration on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

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Prince to Be Honored at Billboard Music Awards on May 19
 
Posted: 18 Jan 2013, 4:00 pm
The 2013 Billboard Music Awards are returning to Las Vegas on Sunday, May 19 and will honor the legendary artist Prince during a live ABC broadcast from the MGM Grand Garden Arena.

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Beyonce, Katy Perry, More Head to D.C. for Packed Slate of Obama Inauguration Events
 
Posted: 18 Jan 2013, 12:58 pm
Kelly Clarkson is a multiple nominee at next month's Grammy Awards, but what she's really excited about is another event where she'll be joined by Beyonce, Katy Perry, Stevie Wonder, Alicia Keys, Usher and Brad Paisley. Oh, and the president.

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CD Baby Parent Company AVL Digital Group Sold
 
Posted: 18 Jan 2013, 10:44 am
AVL Digital Group -- the parent company of CD Baby, Disc Makers and other self-publishing platforms -- has been sold to Stephens Capital Partners, a private equity group based in Little Rock, Arkansas, Billboard.biz has learned.

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NARM Names Muve Music's Jeff Toig, Dimple Records' Dilyn Radakovitz to Board
 
Posted: 18 Jan 2013, 10:34 am
Muve Music senior VP Jeff Toig and Dimple Records founder and owner Dilyn Radakovitz have joined the board of directors of both NARM, the music business trade association, and digitalmusic.org, its digital initiatives arm.

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Run DMC's Darryl McDaniels Presenting 'Garden of Laughs' Benefit Comedy Showcase
 
Posted: 18 Jan 2013, 10:13 am
At the height of his lowest point, Run DMC's Darryl McDaniels says he considered suicide. Before leaving the world, however, he wanted to publish an autobiography, his life story beyond music; a conversation with his mother shortly thereafter revealed more information than he had bargained for.

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Backbeat: Carrie Underwood Celebrates No. 1 With 'Blown Away' Co-Writers Josh Kear and Chris Tompkins
 
Posted: 17 Jan 2013, 4:46 pm
Carrie Underwood joined Josh Kear and Chris Tompkins, the two songwriters who penned "Blown Away," at the CMA offices on Wednesday to celebrate their song hitting the top of the charts.

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Elizabeth Sobol Named Decca Label Group President and CEO
 
Posted: 17 Jan 2013, 12:15 pm
Elizabeth Sobol, current managing director at IMG Artists North America, has been named Decca Label Group's president and CEO. Sobol will report to Universal Music Group International's chairman and CEO Max Hole, who was promoted to that position last week.

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HMV Shutters Irish Operations, Appoints Receivers as Staff Stages Sit-In
 
Posted: 17 Jan 2013, 11:45 am
Staff at two HMV stores in Ireland have staged sit-in protests to secure their wages following the closure of the company’s 16 Irish stores, according to reports. HMV’s Irish operations were placed into receivership 24 hours after the British music retailer HMV confirmed it was suspending the trading of its shares and entering administration, the U.K. equivalent of Chapter 11.

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Andre Rieu, Bieber's 'Believe' Tour Top Hot Tours Chart
 
Posted: 17 Jan 2013, 10:50 am
Classical music dominates this week's Hot Tours report with Dutch violinist and conductor André Rieu earning the No. 1 ranking, followed by Justin Bieber's Believe Tour return and Phish's sold-out show at Madison Square Garden.

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Dave Grohl, Avicii and Afrojack: A Promoter's Approach to Booking Music at Sundance
 
Posted: 17 Jan 2013, 10:31 am
Park City Live is the only regularly operating nightclub in Park City, Utah, home of the Sundance Film Festival running Jan. 17-27, which will enter its second year of operation as a concert venue the day the festival begins. Here, Park City Live CEO Kathryn Burns talks about her first year promoting the venue.

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Dave Grohl, Avicii and Afrojack: A Promoter's Approach to Booking Music at Sundance
 
Posted: 17 Jan 2013, 10:31 am
Park City Live is the only regularly operating nightclub in Park City, Utah, home of the Sundance Film Festival running Jan. 17-27, which will enter its second year of operation as a concert venue the day the festival begins. Here, Park City Live CEO Kathryn Burns talks about her first year promoting the venue.

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Dave Grohl, Avicii and Afrojack: A Promoter's Approach to Booking Music at Sundance
 
Posted: 17 Jan 2013, 10:31 am
Park City Live is the only regularly operating nightclub in Park City, Utah, home of the Sundance Film Festival running Jan. 17-27, which will enter its second year of operation as a concert venue the day the festival begins. Here, Park City Live CEO Kathryn Burns talks about her first year promoting the venue.

Read the full article

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Ticketfly Expands Into Canada
 
Posted: 17 Jan 2013, 10:00 am
Ticketfly announced Thursday it has expanded into Canada by signing two of the country's top promoters, acquiring Prime Box Office ticketing company and securing some promoters and venues.

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Sony/ATV Negotiates 25% Royalty Increase From Pandora: Report
 
Posted: 17 Jan 2013, 8:01 am
The newly combined Sony/ATV-EMI music publishing powerhouse has used its market clout to negotiate a 25% royalty increase from Pandora, according to a report in the New York Post. The deal is said to run for the next 12 months.

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Mark Poston, EMI Australia Chairman, Steps Down
 
Posted: 16 Jan 2013, 9:38 pm
Mark Poston, EMI Australia’s chairman, is out as Universal Music continues its global integration of EMI. According to Universal Music, Poston “decided to step down” from his current position as chairman and senior VP marketing, Australasia at EMI Music Australia. UMA's president George Ash will oversee EMI Australasia until a replacement is announced.

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Business Matters: How Facebook Search Could Provide Cheap Market Research for Music Marketers
 
Posted: 16 Jan 2013, 8:13 pm
Facebook’s Graph Search doesn’t have a lot of obvious music uses but could end up being a free and useful tool for music marketers. As the Inside Facebook blog points out, the search tool provides an opportunity for businesses to conduct market research about specific groups of fans for free.

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LyricFind Partners with Gracenote, Gets Investment from Larry Marcus
 
Posted: 16 Jan 2013, 4:40 pm
LyricFind will now power all of Gracenote's lyric services as part of their new partnership, while BandPage director Larry Marcus will be providing his experience, and a personal investment, to the company.

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SoundExchange Distributions Grew 58% to $462 Million in 2012
 
Posted: 16 Jan 2013, 2:21 pm
SoundExchange distributed $462 million in digital performing royalties in 2012, a 58% increase over 2011, the organization announced Wednesday

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Lucian Grainge, Michael Lynton, will.i.am to Co-Host Inaugural Innovation Summit
 
Posted: 16 Jan 2013, 1:30 pm
Innovation Forum, an inaugural summit of business leaders from the U.S. and U.K., will come together Feb. 4-5 in Los Angeles, kicking off 2013 Grammy week. UMG Chairman & CEO Lucian Grainge, Sony Ent. CEO Michael Lynton, Ari Emanuel, co-CEO of WME, and musician will.i.am will co-host the event co-sponsored by the Founder's Forum and UK Trade & Investment.

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Sony Music Boosts Digital Team With Ole Obermann and Mark Piibe
 
Posted: 16 Jan 2013, 10:29 am
In a statement today from Sony Music Entertainment's president of global digital business and U.S. sales Dennis Kooker, the company announced the creation and appointment of two new, digitally focused positions; current Sony Music executive Ole Obermann has been named executive vice president, digital partner development and sales, while Mark Piibe will be leaving EMI to take on the role of executive vice president, global business development and digital strategy.

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Next Big Sound's 2012 State of Online Music
 
Posted: 15 Jan 2013, 6:29 pm
Next Big Sound, the data analytics company, has released their 2012 State of Online Music report. Below is an outline of the report's key takeaways by Big Sound's data journalist Liv Buli.  

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Business Matters: Relaunched Myspace Is a Success as Music Service -- But As a Social Network? We'll See ...
 
Posted: 15 Jan 2013, 5:35 pm
The redesigned Myspace finally opened up to the public today. The site, a year and a half in the works, is both a social network and a music discovery destination.

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Justin Timberlake's 'Suit & Tie' Aiming for First-Week Sales of 350,000
 
Posted: 15 Jan 2013, 4:44 pm
As reported yesterday (Jan. 14), Justin Timberlake's new single "Suit & Tie" is selling briskly and bound for a big first-week sales figure; label sources suggest that "Suit & Tie" may sell around 330,000 - 350,000 downloads by the end of the tracking week on Sunday, Jan. 20.

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Arts & Crafts Label Announces Ten-Year Anniversary Events
 
Posted: 15 Jan 2013, 2:16 pm
Toronto indie label Arts & Crafts, which helped spawn the careers of Feist and Broken Social Scene among others, is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year with AC10, a series of events, releases and collaborations in music, fashion, photography and literature.

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Facebook Unveils Social Search Feature
 
Posted: 15 Jan 2013, 1:50 pm
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has unveiled a new search feature on the world's biggest online social network. Called "graph search," the new service lets users search their social connections for information about people, interests, photos and places.

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Universal Music France President Pascal Negre Named UMG's Global Head of New Business
 
Posted: 15 Jan 2013, 12:15 pm
Pascal Nègre, president at Universal Music France, Italy, Middle East and Africa, has been promoted to UMG's global head of new business, according to a press release.

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Billboard's Parent Company Names Ross Levinsohn CEO
 
Posted: 15 Jan 2013, 10:41 am
Billboard's parent company has a new leader: Former Yahoo and Fox Interactive Media executive Ross Levinsohn.

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Morning Fix: UMJ's Koike to Head EMI Japan; Justin Timberlake Single's Fast Start; Facebook's Mystery Announcement
 
Posted: 15 Jan 2013, 8:30 am
In today's Fix: Universal Music Japan CEO Kazuhiko Koike to head up EMI Japan; Justin Timberlake's long-awaited single "Suit and Tie" gets off to a fast start; today's Facebook mystery announcement; UK's HMV facing bankruptcy; Rolling Stones lead Hot Tours; Greg Sandoval leaving CNET; Arts & Crafts' tenth anniversary; Country Music Association is going to Disneyland Paris; and way more than you could ever fit into the world's largest bagel.  

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Universal Music Japan's Kazuhiko Koike To Head EMI Japan
 
Posted: 15 Jan 2013, 8:07 am
Universal Music Japan today announced that its President and CEO Kazuhiko Koike will assume on the role of president/CEO of EMI Music Japan as well, replacing longtime CEO Hitoshi Namekata.

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Warner Music Sued for Millions by George Gershwin Heirs
 
Posted: 14 Jan 2013, 8:39 pm
A new lawsuit objects to the way that the music giant has licensed famous compositions and booked revenue.

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Greg Sandoval, Senior CNET Writer, Resigns Over CBS Controversy
 
Posted: 14 Jan 2013, 12:39 pm
CNET editor Greg Sandoval told Twitter earlier today that he's quitting the venerable tech news site over parent company CBS's apparent demand that the publication drop Dish Network's ad-skipping Hopper feature from consideration for its "Best of CES" awards.

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Indie Band Love in the Circus Explores 3D Imaging at CES
 
Posted: 14 Jan 2013, 12:14 pm
Music can be as much about the visuals as it is about the sound. Among the more intriguing demonstrations of this at this year's Consumer Electronics Show was a video display in the Sony booth from an independent band called Love in the Circus; the Los Angeles based band used projection imaging to create a live stage that evokes a Cirque du Soleil-esque setting, wrapping custom animations around a physical stage set.

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Indie Band Love in the Circus Explores 3D Imaging at CES
 
Posted: 14 Jan 2013, 12:14 pm
Music can be as much about the visuals as it is about the sound. Among the more intriguing demonstrations of this at this year's Consumer Electronics Show was a video display in the Sony booth from an independent band called Love in the Circus; the Los Angeles based band used projection imaging to create a live stage that evokes a Cirque du Soleil-esque setting, wrapping custom animations around a physical stage set.

Read the full article

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Pop Leads U.K. Album Sales for Second Year Running
 
Posted: 14 Jan 2013, 10:29 am
Big-selling albums from Emeli Sandé, Adele, Ed Sheeran and One Direction ensured that pop remained the most-popular genre in the United Kingdom in 2012, according to new figures released by the Official Charts Company (OCC) and British labels trade body the BPI.

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Rolling Stones Lead Hot Tours with '50' Shows
 
Posted: 14 Jan 2013, 10:05 am
Rock legends the Rolling Stones stand at the top of Hot Tours this week with ticket sales reaching $38.6 million from the 50 and Counting Tour, while Nickelback, Jennifer Lopez and Elton John reach the top ten on the strength of their Australian tours.

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Rolling Stones Lead Hot Tours with '50' Shows
 
Posted: 14 Jan 2013, 10:05 am
Rock legends the Rolling Stones stand at the top of Hot Tours this week with ticket sales reaching $38.6 million from the 50 and Counting Tour, while Nickelback, Jennifer Lopez and Elton John reach the top ten on the strength of their Australian tours.

Read the full article

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Virtual Visionaries
 
Posted: 25 Nov 2012, 7:00 pm
Emilie Barta and John Pollard aim to take the fear out of planning hybrid events

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All in the Planning
 
Posted: 11 Jul 2012, 8:00 pm

More...


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Take 10 - Conference Centers
 
Posted: 11 Jun 2012, 8:00 pm
Take 10 - Conference Centers

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Convention Center Contacts
 
Posted: 7 Jun 2012, 8:00 pm

More...


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New School
 
Posted: 30 Apr 2012, 8:00 pm

More...


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Final Bow
 
Posted: 28 Mar 2012, 8:00 pm

More...


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IACC Makes Global Push; Criteria to 'Evolve'
 
Posted: 21 Mar 2012, 8:00 pm

More...


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Convention Center Coming to Provo
 
Posted: 25 Jan 2012, 7:00 pm

More...


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Gambling Headed for Hawaii Conv. Center?
 
Posted: 24 Jan 2012, 7:00 pm

More...


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Las Vegas Conv. Center Adds Digital Signage Feature
 
Posted: 24 Jan 2012, 7:00 pm

More...


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Anaheim Conv. Center Plans Expansion
 
Posted: 23 Jan 2012, 7:00 pm

More...


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A Duo of Conv. Centers Launches Free Wi-Fi
 
Posted: 23 Jan 2012, 7:00 pm

More...


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IACC Board Sets New Service Standards
 
Posted: 30 Nov 2011, 7:00 pm

More...


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APEC Under Way in Honolulu
 
Posted: 8 Nov 2011, 7:00 pm

More...


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Beyond the Box
 
Posted: 24 Oct 2011, 8:00 pm
Expanding convention centers are addressing new planner expectations

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Association Meetings 3.0
 
Posted: 16 Sep 2011, 5:10 pm
What does the association meeting of tomorrow look like and how can you prepare to provide your members with the type of meetings they need? A presenter at ASAE's 2011 Annual Meeting & Expo provides her expert glimpse into the future.

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Rethinking Sponsorships in the Age of Social Media
 
Posted: 16 Sep 2011, 4:56 pm
Technology is changing our lives in seemingly countless ways, including association event sponsorships. Find out what a leading event software expert believes are the best ways to make the most of sponsorships in the age of social media.

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What You Need to Know About Simultaneous Interpretation
 
Posted: 16 Sep 2011, 4:54 pm
As more associations venture overseas, simultaneous interpretation is more important than ever. Two experts who have conducted events around the globe share their insights.

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Reduce Expenses for Meetings of Any Size
 
Posted: 16 Sep 2011, 4:51 pm
Even the largest associations sometimes have meetings that don't represent a lot of room nights, which can reduce your ability to negotiate with the host hotel. Here are nine tips to help you get the best deal for your next meeting, no matter how many attendees you have.

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Strategic Meeting Planning
 
Posted: 6 Jul 2011, 11:00 am
We use strategic planning in our everyday lives but often get too caught up in all the details to apply it effectively during the meeting planning process. Discover how to be truly strategic the next time you're planning an important meeting.

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New Models for Successful Convention Strategy
 
Posted: 6 Jul 2011, 10:56 am
There's more to meetings than good content and a nice location. An ASAE Fellow and association business strategy consultant shares his views on factors such as information needs, competing resources, and strategic barriers that impact attendance at association conventions and tradeshows.

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Post-Recession Economy Requires New Guidelines for Association Events
 
Posted: 6 Jul 2011, 10:53 am
Association events are making a comeback following the deep recession, but everyone remains sensitive to appearing too extravagant and expensive. Here's a process for determining what's appropriate for your next events.

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Increase Exhibitor Engagement Without Increasing Your Budget
 
Posted: 6 Jul 2011, 10:49 am
Every association tradeshow is under pressure to increase traffic, but at what cost? Follow these strategies for increasing traffic and enhancing exhibitor loyalty without busting your budget.

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Letter From the Chair: ME Section Contributes to "199 Ideas" for Planners
 
Posted: 6 Jul 2011, 10:47 am
The Meetings & Expositions Section Council chair discusses the debut of an exciting new resource for association planners, provides a glimpse of the upcoming Annual Meeting & Exposition, and lends his perspective on the value of associations to society.

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Tips to Make Transportation at Your Conference Greener
 
Posted: 9 May 2011, 10:09 am
Greening meetings has come a long way in recent years, but you can take it to the next level with a little strategy and a lot of enthusiasm. Learn how to get your group actively involved in being a deeper shade of green.

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University Venues
 
Posted: 30 Apr 2011, 8:00 pm
Collegiate athletic venues are ideal for team building and spectator fun

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Convention Centers
 
Posted: 28 Feb 2011, 7:00 pm
Beyond the Box

More...


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Conference Center Changes
 
Posted: 31 Dec 2010, 7:00 pm
Conference Center Changes

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Conference Centers
 
Posted: 31 Dec 2010, 7:00 pm
With mounting competition, conference centers get flexible

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On Location - Convention Centers
 
Posted: 31 May 2010, 8:00 pm

More...


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University Venues
 
Posted: 30 Apr 2010, 8:00 pm
Campus Culture

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Conference Centers
 
Posted: 31 Mar 2010, 8:00 pm

After a tough year, conference centers see better times ahead

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Convention Centers
 
Posted: 28 Feb 2010, 7:00 pm

Convention center cuisine is no longer an oxymoron

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Convention Centers
 
Posted: 28 Feb 2010, 7:00 pm
Convention center cuisine is no longer an oxymoron

More...


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University Venues
 
Posted: 28 Feb 2010, 7:00 pm

Universities offer an exciting range of museum venues

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Dancing with Gorillas
 
Posted: 31 Oct 2009, 8:00 pm
Convention center contracts put meeting planners' negotiating skills to the test

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A Class Act
 
Posted: 30 Apr 2009, 8:00 pm

More...


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University Venues
 
Posted: 28 Feb 2009, 7:00 pm

More...


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Conference Centers
 
Posted: 31 Jan 2009, 7:00 pm
Conference Call

More...


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Conference Centers
 
Posted: 31 Jan 2009, 7:00 pm

More...


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Conference Centers
 
Posted: 31 Jan 2009, 7:00 pm

More...


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Conference Call
 
Posted: 31 Dec 2008, 7:00 pm

More...


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Center Stage
 
Posted: 31 Oct 2008, 8:00 pm

More...


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Global Challenge
 
Posted: 31 Jul 2008, 8:00 pm

More...


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Global Challenge
 
Posted: 30 Jun 2008, 8:00 pm

More...


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Center Stage
 
Posted: 31 May 2008, 8:00 pm

More...


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Head of the Class
 
Posted: 30 Apr 2008, 8:00 pm

More...


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Center Stage
 
Posted: 31 Mar 2008, 8:00 pm

More...


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Center Stage
 
Posted: 29 Feb 2008, 7:00 pm

More...


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