Live Entertainment Brand Elrow Signs Exclusive Multi-Year Ticketing Deal With Eventbrite
Posted: 20 Jun 2018, 8:01 am
Eventbrite and Barcelona-based live entertainment company elrow Family have signed a multi-year ticketing agreement, which sees Eventbrite handling the 100-plus events promoted by elrow each year, which attract more than 2.4 million attendees in total.

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Concert Pulse: Tim McGraw And Faith Hill Return, Khalid Enters At No. 30
Posted: 19 Jun 2018, 8:52 pm
The top of the Global Concert Pulse remains more or less intact, but a wave of new entries is making a splash near the middle and bottom of the chart.

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Ron Burkle’s Yucaipa Companies Acquires Minority Stake In Primavera Sound Spain
Posted: 19 Jun 2018, 6:32 pm
Los Angeles-based investment firm The Yucaipa Companies has acquired a minority equity stake in one of Spain?s flagship festivals, Primavera Sound.

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AEG Calls For Dismissal Of Radius Clause Suit
Posted: 19 Jun 2018, 5:27 pm
AEG filed a motion June 15 to dismiss the lawsuit filed against it by Soul?d Out Productions, claiming the Portland, Ore., promoter is just trying to unfairly benefit from Coachella?s popularity and regional influence.

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Scott Seine Tapped To Lead Surfdog / Dave Kaplan Management As President
Posted: 19 Jun 2018, 4:27 pm
Scott Seine is now president of Surfdog Inc./Dave Kaplan Management, after serving the last seven years as the company?s executive VP/general manager of both the label and management company.

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NF Announces Fall Headline Tour; Venues Ranging 4,000-7,000-Capacity
Posted: 19 Jun 2018, 3:34 pm
Michigan-based rapper NF is taking in a fall headline trek of large venues including The Anthem in Washington, D.C., and Chicago?s Aragon Ballroom with dates into November and his agent saying fans can?t get enough. 

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Q’s With UTA’s Ken Fermaglich: Powerhouse Rock Agent Talks Clients, Industry
Posted: 19 Jun 2018, 2:20 pm
Pollstar has been chatting with Ken Fermaglich about his clients for more than 20 years, from a time when acts like Reel Big Fish, Creed, and 3 Doors Down were Hotstars. Over the decades, Fermaglich?s career has seen him move from Artists & Audience, to serving as senior VP for The Agency Group, to his current position at United Talent Agency after UTA acquired TAG in 2015.

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Springsteen Christens Asbury Lanes Reopening; Portugal. The Man, Tangiers Blues Band Join At N.J. Landmark
Posted: 19 Jun 2018, 1:45 pm
The newly opened ?60s bowling alley turned music venue Asbury Lanes, operated by The Bowery Presents, celebrated the venue?s transformation with a  reopening featuring performances by hometown legend Bruce Springsteen, Portugal. The Man, a DJ set by Questlove and celebrity attendees like movie star Hugh Jackman.

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Pharrell Williams Teams Up With Kenya Barris For Juneteenth Musical
Posted: 19 Jun 2018, 1:15 pm
Juneteenth, the holiday honoring the final day of slavery in the United States, will be the subject of a musical to be produced by Pharrell Williams and ?Black-ish? creator Kenya Barris.

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More Trouble For Harrell: 3 Doors Down Co-Founder Held In 2013 DUI Death
Posted: 19 Jun 2018, 1:11 pm
The original bassist for the rock band 3 Doors Down is accused of violating probation from a deadly crash in Tennessee because of his arrest in Mississippi on weapons and drug charges.

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Michael Jackson Musical Being Written By Pulitzer Winner Lynn Nottage
Posted: 19 Jun 2018, 1:05 pm
A musical about the King of Pop is moonwalking its way to Broadway.

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Judge Allows Juelz Santana To Tour - If He Brings His Mother
Posted: 19 Jun 2018, 12:27 pm
Rapper Juelz Santana can go on tour while he's facing weapons charges, providing he's monitored by an electronic ankle bracelet - and mom.

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Q’s With Black Deer Festival Promoter Gill Tee: 'The U.K. Is Ready For A Festival With Authentic Music At The Core'
Posted: 19 Jun 2018, 7:14 am
A new Americana Festival premieres in the U.K., June 22-24. It?s called Black Deer Festival and welcomes Iron & Wine, Passenger, Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit, Ward Thomas and many more to the inaugural edition at Eridge Park, Kent, England.

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Scarborough Open Air Theatre Breaks Attendance Record A Third Year In A Row
Posted: 19 Jun 2018, 6:01 am
Since Live Nation?s Cuffe and Taylor started programming the Open Air Theatre in Scarborough, England, in 2016, attendance has been up.

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Jim James Announces Solo Acoustic Tour
Posted: 18 Jun 2018, 9:14 pm
Fans of Jim James and My Morning Jacket would be fools to miss this tour. Ahead of this month?s release of his third studio studio album, the MMJ frontman has announced dates for a career-spanning solo acoustic tour. 

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Authorities Confirm XXXTentacion Shot Dead In Florida
Posted: 18 Jun 2018, 7:22 pm
Troubled rapper-singer XXXTentacion was shot and killed Monday in Florida, authorities said.

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Florida Sheriff Pronounces Shooting Victim Dead; Reports Claim Deceased Is XXXTentacion
Posted: 18 Jun 2018, 6:01 pm
The Broward County Sheriff?s Office has confirmed that an adult male victim of a shooting today has been pronounced dead, with gossip site TMZ reporting that the victim is rapper XXXTentacion.

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Bail Revoked For Fyre Fest Promoter Billy McFarland
Posted: 18 Jun 2018, 5:55 pm
Bail has been revoked for the promoter of a failed music festival on a Bahamian island, with a judge calling him a flight risk and nonviolent danger to the community now that he faces new charges.

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Jason Mraz Lines Up Acoustic Shows
Posted: 18 Jun 2018, 3:19 pm
Jason Mraz is hitting the road with percussionist Toca Rivera for acoustic sets in November and December.

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Billy Sammeth, Former Manager To Cher, Joan Rivers Dead At 66
Posted: 18 Jun 2018, 12:46 pm
Billy Sammeth, the former manager of industry titans like Cher, Joan Rivers, and Olivia Newton-John died of pancreatic cancer Monday, his sister has confirmed. He was 66.

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Boxoffice Insider: Pink Beautifully Traumatizes North America With $95M Opening Leg
Posted: 18 Jun 2018, 12:42 pm
Pink?s first ?Beautiful Trauma? North American tour leg has wrapped, with more than $95 million grossed on 46 shows ? and she has another 42 shows in Australia/New Zealand this year, followed by 40 North American dates in spring 2019.

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Live Nation Beefs Up Its Talent Buying Team In Denver With Five Additions In Nine Months
Posted: 18 Jun 2018, 12:29 pm
Live Nation has added Lance Dunlap to its quickly growing team of talent buyers in Denver, bringing the number to five new additions in nine months.

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Minivan Runs Into Crowd After Pinkpop Festival In Holland, Kills One
Posted: 18 Jun 2018, 11:10 am
A minivan that was steered into a crowd leaving the festival site of Pinkpop in Landgraaf, Netherlands, killed one person and left three more severely injured. Police have reportedly arrested one man.

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The Ticket Factory UK Appoints New Commercial Team
Posted: 18 Jun 2018, 10:42 am
NEC Group?s box office The Ticket Factory (TTF) appointed a new commercial team with creating sales opportunities and driving profitability.

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Future Of O2 ABC Unclear After Glasgow Art School Fire Causes Roof Collapse
Posted: 18 Jun 2018, 10:15 am
A severe fire that destroyed the historic Glasgow Arts School in Scotland also damaged the O2 ABC in Glasgow, causing the building?s timber clad roof to collapse. None were injured.

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Elevate, Oak View Group Partner Up
Posted: 18 Jun 2018, 6:00 am

Oak View Group intends for Elevate to sell premium seating in Seattle, where OVG is redeveloping KeyArena for an NHL team. (Populous)

Oak View Group has formed a new partnership with Elevate Sports Ventures and Live Nation/Ticketmaster to sell premium seats for two NHL arena projects and other venues in which OVG has a principal stake in facility development.

It’s a huge step forward in the growth of Elevate Sports Ventures. The company was formed in January as a joint venture among the San Francisco 49ers, CAA Sports and Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment, owner of the Philadelphia 76ers and New Jersey Devils. Six months later, Elevate has aligned with OVG, a firm that has secured two big league development deals over the past year.

As a strategic partner, Live Nation/Ticketmaster’s technology and consumer database will help Elevate set the right prices for premium seats, according to partnership officials.

OVG’s co-owners are veteran sports executive Tim Leiweke and longtime music executive Irving Azoff. Together, they head a company formed in late 2015 and whose projects include the $600 million redevelopment of Seattle’s KeyArena for an NHL expansion team, plus a new arena for the New York Islanders at Belmont Park, a $1 billion project extending to mixed use. (OVG also owns VenuesNow.)

Deals to build new college facilities and renovate civic centers are also in the works, OVG officials said, but those deals have not been made public.

To date, no agreements have been signed for Elevate to sell premium for the Seattle and New York projects, but that is OVG’s intention pending approvals by principals involved in those developments, Leiweke said.

Elevate has “to earn the business,” Leiweke said. “There’s no given here. This isn’t inherited.”

But things are headed in that direction. In Seattle, Elevate is already consulting on premium seats with Tod Leiweke, Tim’s younger brother and president and CEO of the proposed NHL team. Together, they’re reviewing design concepts by project architect Populous for bunker suites, developing a preview center and putting operating budgets together, pending the NHL’s awarding the team later this year, said Al Guido, Elevate’s CEO and co-managing partner.

For the two OVG projects, Elevate has hired Shawn Doss as adviser to the CEO and vice president of business development and Flavil Hampsten as chief commercial officer, Guido said. They’re experienced sales leaders who came from the New Jersey Devils and San Jose Sharks, respectively. Both worked with Guido at the old Phoenix Coyotes.

Separately, Elevate has deals across all professional sports leagues, the college space and esports, Guido said. Those agreements were in place before Elevate and OVG became partners. They include a renovation, a new build and a college project. To this point, Guido said, he could not identify specific projects after signing nondisclosure agreements.

For OVG, the Elevate deal fills a void in its stable of services that already includes facility management, event bookings, sponsorships and security consulting. OVG looked “long and hard at jumping into the premium space” before entering into a partnership with Elevate Sports Ventures, Tim Leiweke said.

OVG spoke with other firms in the premium space before selecting Elevate, he said. Leiweke’s strong ties to Scott O’Neil were key to the Elevate-OVG partnership. They’ve known each other for about 30 years, dating to when both worked for NBA and NHL teams. For the past five years, O’Neil has served as CEO of Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment, an Elevate investor.

In addition, Leiweke recognized the solid job Guido did in leading PSL and premium seat sales for the Dallas Cowboys’ and San Francisco 49ers’ stadiums over the past 12 years, and he says Guido stands among the new generation of leaders in sports business.

“We have the highest regard for them,” Leiweke said.

OVG’s goal over the next year is to have deals to develop a dozen projects covering arenas, stadiums and smaller venues such as theaters and performing arts centers, Leiweke said. Seattle and New York are first on the list.

“We have literally hundreds of millions of dollars of inventory to sell, and that’s our highest priority for us and our partners,” he said. “Having a premium partner in Elevate that has done it in other markets [and] with ingenuity and entrepreneurial spirit is probably worth more to us than the equity. The fact that we got both was a good day for us.”

The Live Nation/Ticketmaster piece adds an intriguing dynamic considering its industry dominance. Elevate and OVG officials think it could be the deciding factor in competing for new business against Legends, Van Wagner and others selling premium seats. Securing the promoter and ticketing firm as an investor with access to its vast network of resources “gives us an enormous amount of confidence,” Leiweke said.

On the ticketing side, the ability for Ticketmaster to share its technology with Elevate to help reshape the future of ticketing for selling premium across all building types was a “core differentiator for us,” Guido said.

“Take Seattle, for instance,” he said. “We’re handling premium services with Tod and building out his infrastructure. For us, it’s how do we work with Live Nation to think about the best way to design facilities for concerts … and to leverage [Ticketmaster’s] database to make sure we’re generating revenue in a [smart] way. We felt that type of partnership is different than what’s been offered in the marketplace.”

Long term, the partnership will strive to find a solution to the $8 billion annually that escapes the system through the secondary ticket market, a number Tim Leiweke said comes from Live Nation/Ticketmaster research. For many years it has been a thorn in the side of venues, promoters and acts, who have had little success resolving the issue.

“If you think about the financial risk we’re taking on with these 12 developments, if we can capture the revenue that’s slipping away and put that back into covering the investment we’re making, maybe we’re not as crazy as everyone thinks we are,” Leiweke said.

It’s at the heart of what the partnership is all about, Leiweke said. It’s a topic he’s been talking about for a long time with Live Nation/Ticketmaster executives Michael Rapino and Jared Smith. They’ll team with Elevate officials to rethink the seating manifest for concerts to maximize revenue for clients.

“We have not packaged premium as intelligently and as aggressively as we should,” Leiweke said. “Part of that what we’re doing with this new partnership is bringing Live Nation in early on to help us think about pricing and share in recapturing the money from others taking our tickets for our events and venues and reselling them without being part of the process.”

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Gunfire Erupts At New Jersey Arts Festival; 22 Wounded
Posted: 17 Jun 2018, 8:11 pm
Gunmen opened fire at an all-night arts and music festival early Sunday morning, sending people running over each other in the scramble to safety, authorities said

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Ex-3 Doors Down Bassist Arrested; Drugs, Weapons Found
Posted: 17 Jun 2018, 8:05 pm
One of the founding members of the rock band 3 Doors Down is back in jail after guns and drugs were seen in his Mississippi home.

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How Venues Use Waze Program To Improve Fan Experience
Posted: 17 Jun 2018, 7:29 pm
Tacoma Venues & Events, the city-run entity that operates venues such as the Tacoma Dome, was the 100th venue operator to partner with the largest crowdsourcing traffic app, Waze. Now, with the Waze Global Event Partners program stretching beyond 200 participants, Tacoma offers up the newest from Waze: carpooling.

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33 & West: Rozenblum, Cassiere And Pike Launch Boutique Agency With 75 Artists (Exclusive)
Posted: 17 Jun 2018, 5:27 pm
Veteran agents Dan Rozenblum, JJ Cassiere and Matt Pike, most recently at Circle Talent Agency, have teamed to form Los Angeles-based 33 & West boutique talent agency, launching with 75 artists and stressing a collaborative approach with plans to expand into film, television and more.

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Chris Hardwick Talk Show On Hold, Comedian Taken Off KAABOO Festival Lineup Following Abuse Allegations
Posted: 16 Jun 2018, 7:44 pm
Comedian Chris Hardwick, known for co-hosting ?The Nerdist? podcast and a previous host of the Pollstar Awards, has been taken off of the KAABOO Del Mar festival lineup, with AMC saying his cable TV is on hold as well after allegations of abuse from a former girlfriend.

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An EAMC in, and of, Las Vegas
Posted: 15 Jun 2018, 6:30 pm

MGM Resorts International Chairman and CEO Jim Murren, a speaker at the Event and Arena Marketing Conference, talks to some EAMC attendees. (Linda Deckard)

LAS VEGAS — A record 450 attended the 39th annual Event and Arena Marketing Conference here June 13-14, where arena marketers shared best practices and honored their own.

Las Vegas’ incredible year, highs and lows, was the topic of several panels, and many talked about the impact of the National Hockey League’s Golden Knights, who made it all the way to the Stanley Cup Final in their first season, as a driver. Legitimate pro sports are changing everything, even in times of crisis like Oct. 1, when a mass murderer caused terror and death at the Route 91 Harvest music festival here. When the Golden Knights made its deep postseason run, Budweiser coined the phrase, “This was about more than raising a trophy. This was always about lifting a city.”

The glow of the NHL playoffs colored everything during this conference, including the EAMC’s chance to award its own. The big award, the Gigi Award — named after Gigi Pilhofer of the old Met Center in Bloomington, Minn., who was instrumental in forming the association — went to Joe Flanagan, who spent more than 20 years working for some of the largest companies in the sports and entertainment business, including WWE, Global Spectrum, Madison Square Garden and Ogden Entertainment. Flanagan is the director of booking and creative services for LAZ Parking, the second-largest parking company in the country. With WWE and Global Spectrum, Flanagan was instrumental in scores of box office records celebrated by arenas around the world.

Ike Richman, who has spent his career in Philadelphia, most of it leading the PR charge for Ed Snider and the Flyers and Comcast Spectacor and is now head of his own Ike Richman Communications, was inducted into the EAMC Hall of Fame. Bernie Punt of Bryce Jordan Center at Penn State introduced his good friend, calling Richman the P.T. Barnum of PR and citing career highlights such as the “If You Can Carry It, It’s Yours” clearing of the old Philadelphia Spectrum of memorabilia in preparation for implosion. He also had some lowlights, like the time he posed with Tina Turner and followed up with a holiday card from Ike and Tina, much to the chagrin of Turner’s management.

Richman taught everyone lessons, among them: “Don’t worry about what you know. Don’t worry about what you don’t know. Just take care of the people.”

Besides the many lessons learned from co-workers in marketing and public relations, Richman noted the relationships built at conferences like this. “After every conference, I went back to the office and sent personal ‘great to see you at the Arena Marketing Conference” letters to at least 50 to 100 people, inviting them to stay in touch. That was before Facebook and LinkedIn. I always returned from the Arena Marketing Conference inspired, energized by something I heard,” Richman told the crowd.

Among the inspirations this year was a keynote by Jim Murren, MGM Resorts International chairman and CEO, whose company operates half the rooms in Las Vegas (41,000) and is the biggest employer in the state. Introduced with a sizzle reel of MGM International’s latest campaign, themed “We’re in the Holy Shit Business,” Murren further emphasized that MGM is not in the gaming business but rather in the live entertainment business, creating “moments in time” for its guests.

Murren predicted even more collaborations with AEG such as T-Mobile Arena in Vegas — “Stay tuned,” he said — and touched on the firm’s international and domestic outreach. Murren is particularly excited about the MGM Resorts casino in Springfield, Mass., which will incorporate what is now the MassMutual Center and was once the Springfield Civic Center. He also noted he was headed to Japan immediately after the talk, where MGM has yet another project underway.

MGM is also in the forefront of diversity and inclusion in the workforce and responsible management of the environment, he said, citing the solar array being installed at the Las Vegas Convention Center. “We spent $7 million to leave the Nevada power grid,” he said. (VenuesNow, partner publication to Pollstar, will have more on EAMC in future VN Pulse e-newsletters.)

On the awards front, EAMC also presented kudos for Best Marketing and Publicity campaigns and Best Artist Gift and Artist Welcome. The 2018 winners:

Marketing Campaign of the Year – Count Basie Center for the Arts in Red Bank, N.J., Jonathan Vena, Kayla Prendergast, Caileigh Nerney and Andrew Musser for their Giving Tuesday, Veterans at the Basie campaign.

Publicity Campaign of the Year – Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids, Mich., by SMG, Hilarie Szarowicz, Alison Goodyke, Mike Klompstra and Rebecca Chesnut for their Thank You Cards for the Troops campaign.

Best Artist Gift of the Year – Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Adam Armit for The Weeknd’s Starboy Game.

Best Artist Welcome of the Year – Staples Center in Los Angeles, Cara Vanderhook, Samantha Marker, Patrick Whitehill, Marina Paul, Evan Gole and Kasey Ferrin for Ed Sheeran’s Very Own British Pub.

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Posted: 14 Jun 2018, 7:45 pm

Adam friedman was recently appointed president of Banc of California Stadium Entertainment, a division of LAFC Sports, to develop, operate and manage entertainment and major sporting and special events at the new $350 million, 23,000-capacity stadium built for Major League Soccer’s Los Angeles Football Club in Exposition Park next to the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. The veteran promoter, who was also named executive vice president of LAFC Sports, has worked for more than 25 years helping to build three major brands as CEO of Nederlander Concerts, EVP and division head of House of Blues Concerts, and SVP of Universal Concerts.

What attracted you most about this new opportunity?
What really turned me on to this and had me putting on a baseball cap again and being part of a team was the fact that you have ground-floor entry to what will be two outstanding, world-renowned brands: the Los Angeles Football Club and the Banc of California Stadium.
The team is already off to a magnificent start, not only in terms of winning but how it’s penetrated L.A., the region and now the country. (With) the amount of media and buzz around it, there’s no question this is going to be one of these brands. At the same time, I have never seen a facility like this – especially a stadium. Not to put down other stadiums, but this is really unique. A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

What makes it unique?
To spend $350 million on an outdoor venue is unbelievable. The amenities are completely unique. The premium spaces are unique. The amount of detail they spent on developing a project that would not only work for sports but live music events in terms of production and sights and sounds, it’s really one of a kind.

Can you talk about how you’re approaching the booking process versus your previous positions?
First of all, it’s in Los Angeles, a hub for artists, agencies, managers and their representatives. Having access to these folks on a daily basis makes it different in terms of our ability to book. You have some great arenas that are a little smaller; you have some stadiums that are obviously larger. The sellable capacity of 23,000 makes this unique. Also, it’s an open venue and we don’t have any one exclusive promoter and we’ll partner with any talent and promoters who are interested.

How about festivals?
We have access to the parkland around the facility, which makes it a singular site for urban festivals. We’re going to have a lot of focus, not only on the main, headline, top touring talent, but also working with festival producers in giving them a multiasset offering. We can offer up the stadium but also the parking lots and some of the parkland to create a multistage event.

How will you program in terms of other sports and events?
There’s obviously the field sports like exhibition soccer, rugby, lacrosse, but … we can have boxing, (mixed martial arts), esports, extreme sports and a host of other national and local sporting events. … We also have a multitude of conversations with and are very close to booking large high-profile events that include massive global brands. And there are conferences, private concerts and convention business, product launches,  award shows, ceremonies, fashion shows. We’re in dialogue with all of these folks right now.

In terms of production for concerts, will this be more of a stadium production or an arena production?
It’s actually a little of both. Gensler, who’s built a lot of arenas and stadiums around the world, designed the building. One of the key directives from the ownership group was to make this facility non-stadiumlike in terms of the ability to produce a show and to load in and load out which is completely different from most stadiums. On the north end of the facility, where the stage will be, there are 3,000-odd seats that are demountable and placed elsewhere on site to reveal a stage platform built in under the seating area.

There are two things about this that are really, really smart. From a view point of load-in, load-out perspective, the stage platform abuts stage right and the loading dock, so instead of having to lay down tracks and bring trucks out onto the pitch, which they do at most stadiums …, trucks can just load right onto the stage platform. It’s brilliant, quite frankly, and it brings down cost and is efficient.

The other thing from a fan experience is that having the stage platform under that seating area sets the stage back so that the sightlines are better and thousands of seats are now available that would otherwise be killed. So you have a greater sellable capacity, a better fan experience on the side of the stage because the stage is set back so they’re now seeing the artist front and center.

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Posted: 14 Jun 2018, 7:40 pm

Not every venue has the luxury of building new and working in as much sustainable design as desired. Instead, the bulk of venues must manage existing infrastructure and operations, and a couple of areas often provide opportunities for improvement.

“The biggest trends I have seen are around energy use and integrating renewable energy into the portfolio in hopes of influencing the grid and efforts around food,” said Rahul Devaskar, membership manager for the Green Sports Alliance, which promotes sustainability in the sports business.

Before the Major League Baseball season, the San Diego Padres and Petco Park showcased this shift, installing the league’s largest solar array — a 336,000-watt energy project — at a stadium originally opened in 2004. The effort was part of a multiyear project to identify opportunities to incorporate best practices in sustainability, said Mark Guglielmo, senior vice president of ballpark operations at Petco Park. That project started in 2016 by converting all sports lighting to LED and reducing light usage by 40 percent. The Padres then converted all ballpark lighting to LED.

The next step was a partnership with Sullivan Solar for the 716 solar panels on the rooftop, each generating 470 watts. The project went live this spring and generates enough power to operate the club’s front offices.

“From a business standpoint, we will save money and reduce utility use,” Guglielmo said. “As members of the community, we are mindful of the fact we need to be leaders in the area.”
It doesn’t stop with lighting and solar for the Padres. Petco has recently upgraded its occupancy sensors in restrooms, added energy-efficient exhaust fans throughout the concessions areas, installed a more efficient water-heat exchanger and added low-flow fixtures. “We are a fairly new building,” Guglielmo said. “It has been easy for us to implement some of these projects.”
Petco Park doesn’t stand alone in MLB. Oriole Park at Camden Yards in Baltimore, which opened in 1992, earned LEED Gold status from the U.S. Green Building Council this year thanks to upgraded waste management, recycling, paperless tickets and reduced energy usage and electrical consumption. Oriole Park joins Marlins Park in Miami and Target Field in Minneapolis as MLB ballparks to earn LEED Gold and becomes the only one to earn it after opening.

Waste and food management comes as another main differentiator for existing buildings, Devaskar said. From small on-site farms at Boston’s Fenway Park to Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif., and many others, operators hope to reduce the energy consumption around food creation while serving as an example to fans. “Food is the sexiest topic because of the cultural significance,” Devaskar said. Other clubs have experimented with new, more sustainable, menu items, trying to show incremental change in their operations while encouraging the adoption of practices throughout the community.

The on-site farms don’t offer large-scale change, but food waste does. Arenas and stadiums have started creating new ways to deal with food waste, whether actual food or the packaging it comes in.

Food concessionaires, pushed by teams, have gotten on the trend with new ways to package. Aramark, BASF and Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Mo., teamed up for the first compostable peanut bag last NFL season. A recycling program only works as well as the fans let it, so fool-proof packaging offers a new standard.

Devaskar credits venues in cities with separate initiatives as the ones moving forward at a quicker rate. One example comes from Minneapolis, where Target Field and U.S. Bank Stadium have active waste programs that fall in line with the city’s no-waste efforts. To get there, these buildings employ fully compostable packaging for food and beverage. Target Field, for example, using Eco-Products’ Ingeo line from NatureWorks, now diverts 90 percent of waste from landfills.

At Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Fla., two food digesters now divert over 70 percent of food waste.

The latest nationwide trend comes from straws, as concessionaires and venues jump on campaigns to reduce plastic waste, such as Delaware North’s “The Last Straw” effort aimed at request-only policies around straws.

“We have operations at venues all over the world, so it’s important to us that we look at the impact we’re having on the environment,” said Carlos Bernal, president of Delaware North Sportservice. “Reducing waste — especially plastic waste — is gaining traction across many industries, so we are going to be part of those conversations and work with our partners to find ways to lessen the amount of waste and find solutions that are better for our environment.”
Devaskar, whose organization is preparing for its Green Sports Alliance Summit June 26-27 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta,  credits fan experience as a key driver in many areas, saying fans want the things they care about to be exemplified in the teams they care about. “Sustainability is a good business if done correctly,” he said. “Cost savings may take a few years, whether LED lights or creating energy on site, but it is good for the bottom line and for the future of the industry.”

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Posted: 14 Jun 2018, 7:00 pm

The restoration of the old Victorian Theatre at Alexandra Palace in London and the refurbishment of the venue’s East Court are in the final construction phase. “It is amazing to start to see everything come together,” said Lucy Fenner, commercial director at Alexandra Palace. The so-called East Wing Restoration Project cost $36 million, and both the theater and the East Court will officially reopen in December.

Can you already reveal details about the opening ceremony?
Yes, we recently announced the opening program for December, which will give audiences a taste of what’s to come. It’s an eclectic mix of comedy, spoken word, theater and, of course, live music. When the theater opened in 1875 it hosted a variety of performances  and genres and so we wanted to reflect that in our opening season. We’ll be announcing the first performer later this year.

What role is live music going to play?
Once completed, the East Wing Restoration Project will transform how people experience the Palace. Live music is one of the things Alexandra Palace is famous for, so concerts will make up a significant part of the theater’s program.

The East Court will also serve as a new entrance to the Palace and will be open throughout the day. There will be a Creative Learning Zone, which will host workshops and events as well as smaller, intimate concerts. We’ll also have a new restaurant and bar. We’ll be announcing the East Court program later in the year and we can’t wait to welcome new visitors.

Are you filling a gap in London’s venue circuit?
The theater, and its flexible auditorium, will be able to seat just under 850 or hold around 1,300 standing and seated. London is a huge city which loves to go to concerts and attracts artists from all over the world, so there is huge demand for midsize venues. The theater is also spectacular and will look like nothing else in the city. Audiences and artists are going to fall in love with the space when they walk in.

Who is involved in financing this project?
The project wouldn’t have been possible without funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund and Haringey Council.

Is there any other work being done to Alexandra Palace at the moment?
With 196 acres of parkland and seven acres of building, there is always work happening at Alexandra Palace. We’re also redeveloping our West Yard, which will include new office space as well as improving the on-site storage.

How about the main hall? Are you still happy with that space, and does it serve the needs of all promoters and tours?
We’re hosting more and more concerts in the Great Hall, which shows the demand is constantly increasing. The building may have been constructed in 1875, but we’re one of the city’s most flexible spaces. This year alone the Great Hall has hosted everything from a banquet to Dua Lipa, with many more shows to be announced. The 10,250 standing capacity ensures we create an amazing atmosphere for artist and audience in the main arena. Plus our  festival village offering a variety of  street food and craft beers ensures all fans can really make a night of it at “Ally Pally”.

What’s next on your agenda? Any big projects upcoming? Apart from the East Wing restoration, what’s taking up your attention at the moment?
We’re gearing up for Kaleidoscope on July 21. It’s Alexandra Palace’s first major arts and music festival and will take over the park and parts of the Palace that people never get to experience.
The main stage will host performances by bands like the Flaming Lips and Mystery Jets while in the basement there will be immersive theater from Rift. Kaleidoscope is an amalgamation of everything the Palace has become known for.

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Posted: 14 Jun 2018, 7:00 pm

He’s Minnesota born and bred, and true to the spirit of Minneapolis-St. Paul, he’s a twin.
Hometown: Richfield, Minn.
What did you think you would be when you were a kid? A history teacher.
Where did you go to college? St. Thomas College, St. Paul., and the University of Minnesota.
What would you be doing if you weren’t in your job? Coaching kids’ hockey.
What would people be surprised to learn about you? I have a twin sister named Jeanne.
Best advice you’ve ever received: Listen to people who have experience in what they are doing.
Who is your favorite mentor? Frank Jirik.
What is your favorite part of the job? Meeting all of the interesting people in the sports and entertainment business.
What is your least favorite part of the job? The long hours.
Biggest achievement in your career: Becoming the VP/GM of Xcel Energy Center.
Best day on the job: Starting day for the Minnesota Wild.
Worst day on the job: The (Minnesota North Stars) ownership change in 1990.

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Posted: 14 Jun 2018, 7:00 pm

Former Live Nation chairman and concert producer Michael Cohl has joined the board of Civilized Worldwide Inc. and is also an investor in the company. Civilized Events produces branded experiences for the cannabis industry and consumers, from intimate dinner parties to large-scale events.
The International Association of Venue Managers has named Amy Duncan membership sales specialist. Duncan was the membership and fitness benefits coordinator for the Aaron Family Jewish Community Center of Dallas.
Rik Edgar has been hired as Peoria (Ill.) Civic Center’s general manager. Edgar leaves his post as general manager of Big Sandy Superstore Arena in Huntington, W.Va., to take the new position. Both venues are managed by SMG Worldwide Entertainment.
George Heinlein, a sports architect responsible for developing premium seat trends including bunker suites and theater boxes, has retired. Heinlein, most recently a senior vice president at HOK, spent more than 30 years designing arenas and stadiums.
Sports development executives Dale Koger and Gary Birdsall, who were project managers with Legends before leaving the company in the past three months, have joined PCL Construction. Together they’re heading up PCL Sports Division, a new group within PCL. Koger, with more than 40 years of experience tied to $20 billion in sports facilities, is the division’s vice president and general manager. Birdsall, with 32 years of experience, is a vice president.
The Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment Advisory Board has expanded to include a London chapter. The founding U.K.-based members are Ben Lovett, co-chair, Communion Music / Mumford & Sons; Louis Bloom, head of A&R, Universal Music Group; Tom Corbett, head of sponsorships and media, Barclays; James Sandom, Red Light Management; James Worrall, founder & CEO, Leaders; and Sarah Stennett, CEO, First Access Entertainment. In addition, the New York chapter of the BSE Advisory Board has added Jennifer Justice, Superfly’s president of corporate development, and Marcie Allen, president and founder of MAC Presents.
Wilson Events Inc. has named Nicole More lead talent buyer for its California-based talent buying and event production company.
Ware Malcomb has promoted Michael Petersen to architecture principal in the firm’s Irvine, Calif.-based headquarters. Petersen was a director with the company. He started with Ware Malcomb in 2012 as director of healthcare design.
Concert promoter Brad Saks has joined the team at the Durham (N.C.) Performing Arts Center as director of programming for concerts, comedy and special events. Saks began his career at the William Morris Agency.
The SMG-managed Intrust Bank Arena in Wichita, Kan., has promoted Amanda Shankle to marketing manager. Shankle had served as the department’s marketing and group sales coordinator since December 2013. Lyndsey Edwards has been hired as marketing and group sales coordinator
Los Angeles Convention Center has hired Nancy Walker as its new vice president of sales and marketing. Walker most recently was director of sales for North America at Reed Travel Exhibitions, and was previously vice president and associate publisher at Tradeshow Week Magazine.
Wolfgang Puck Catering has named Ewart Wardhaugh regional chef for the West Coast, overseeing Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle operations. Wardhaugh’s previous stops include The Ned Hotel in London and Jumeriah Emirates Towers in Dubai. Also newly hired is Andrew Degroot as the executive chef of Hollywood & Highland in Los Angeles. Degroot joins the team from Tendergreens, where he was regional chef for the past five years.

George Smith, 83, a longtime facility manager, died April 28 at his Rochester, Minn., home. Smith’s last position was managing Rochester Civic Center. His career in facility management included posts in South Dakota, North Dakota, Iowa and Minnesota.

Adam Friedman has been named the first president of Banc of California Stadium Entertainment, a division of LAFC Sports LLC. Friedman will also be executive vice president of LAFC Sports. Friedman previous roles include CEO of Nederlander Concerts, executive vice president and division head of House of Blues Concerts, and senior vice president of Universal Concerts. He entered the industry at MCA Concerts in 1992 after practicing as a commercial real estate attorney at Rudnick & Wolfe, now DLA Piper.

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Posted: 14 Jun 2018, 6:00 pm

Days that the roof of Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta was scheduled to be open through June 8 for the final phase of work on its automation. The roof has been open for two events since the stadium opened last August, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Cost of the renovation underway at the Majestic Theatre complex in Midtown Detroit, according to the Detroit Free Press. AEG Presents will exclusively book the theater, which opened as a movie theater in 1915.

Square feet in the Earth Expo and Convention Center, which opened last month at casino resort Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, Conn. The addition joins the Sky Convention Center and Mohegan Sun Arena at the complex.

Years in a new deal that University of Notre Dame athletics announced April 26 with Legends and JMI Sports. The companies will oversee Notre Dame’s sales, marketing, hospitality, media rights and branding services.

Earnings in 2017 for Live Nation President and CEO Michael Rapino, as calculated by The Associated Press and executive data firm Equilar. The survey of the top-paid CEOs at large public companies by state listed Rapino as the highest-paid CEO in California last year. 

Percentage of the U.K. population that thinks online ticket resales are becoming a major concern for music fans, according to research commissioned by the FanFair Alliance. Telecom service provider O2 took the research into account in steps it introduced to minimize abuse of its Priority Tickets customer presale program. 

Number of stages planned for the Live Nation-owned Creamfields Festival Aug. 23-26 in Daresbury, England. They include new additions the 10,000-capacity Generator,  made of scaffolding and shipping containers, and the Silo, which will hold 15,000.

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Posted: 14 Jun 2018, 3:05 pm

In 1972, the early days of rock ’n’ roll arena-level performances, the Rolling Stones played the Met Center in Bloomington, Minn., and excitement was off the charts. The crowd outside the building got out of hand.

“The police used tear gas, the crowd panicked, and the next thing you know they were turning over police cars,” recalls Jim Goddard, who learned this business at Met Center and today is executive vice president at SAP Center, home of the NHL’s San Jose Sharks.

“Those were the formative years of arena rock. There was a big learning curve about how to deal with the artists and crowd management, new acts, and relatively new genres of music,” Goddard said.

The main lesson learned: Don’t overreact. Today everyone knows the game, but best practices hadn’t been established then, Goddard said.

Then there was the grand opening. Construction took just one year. Folklore in Minnesota has it that the reason the seats were a mosaic of scattered color, no more than two seats the same, in shades of gold, white, black and green, is because workers were still installing seats day-of-show as sections were sold.

In truth, that mosaic of color was planned, said Bob Showers, who has written a history of the Met Center and the North Stars. Minneapolis Theater Supply, which manufactured the seats, sold management on the splatter technique, Showers said.

Industry lore since, and probably closer to true, is that the strategy was to make the arena look full, no matter what the attendance, for the sake of good TV.

Regardless of the reason, the seat mosaic became Met Center’s signature.
Showers can regale his listeners for hours about the saga of Met Center and the North Stars, which eventually moved to Dallas with a new owner. The Gund brothers, who tried to save Met Center by connecting it to the Mall of America with a skyway and $15 million in improvements, were rebuffed despite the $300 million surplus the arena had raised for the sports commission. “The fix was in,” Showers says.

Or how arena management was so excited when they booked Frank Sinatra that they spent $4,000 redoing the locker room/dressing room, including the piano, in orange, Sinatra’s favorite color. Sinatra walked down the hall, glanced into the locker room, muttered “nice” and went on stage. He never stepped inside.

“All of us, Bob included, went through that learning curve back then, which is now pretty routine,” Goddard said.

He referred to Bob Reid, who died March 30, after years of booking the Met Center before moving on to VEE Corp.

With Reid’s death, a whole lot of history also died, but the legacy lives on, particularly in the long list of professionals schooled at the historic arena. The group that ran that arena were family, and their passion for the business shines on.

Jack Larson, now general manager of Xcel Energy Center in nearby St. Paul, can list them: Frank Jirik, who worked for Bob and ended up director of Met Center, then moved to San Jose with the Sharks; Goddard, who worked for Frank and Bob, and hired Jack; Karen Swan, still a force in arena marketing, who handles group sales for Target Center in Minneapolis; Xcel Energy Center’s senior director of operations, Mark Stoffel, who worked with Bob, and senior director of box office, Micki Tschida; and Bruce Tharaldson, still manager of ice operations at SAP Center.

“For me it was love of hockey and meeting the characters, leaders and mentors in the business,” said Larson. “Learning the business from those guys was a big thing.”

“What made us unique,” Goddard said,  “was how long we were together at Minnesota and how long our relations, some 40-plus years, continued thereafter with relatively few changes.
“If we had not liked and respected each other, we would have gone our separate ways,” Goddard added.

Swan recalled that “it was just such a family feeling – Bob mentored me.” Hockey and arena staff co-mingled within the building, she recalled. “We were just a very, very close-knit group. They were golden years.”

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Posted: 14 Jun 2018, 3:00 pm

International growth for family shows depends in many ways on the state of a country’s venues … and the local appetite for dirt.

When Saudi Arabia’s Prince Mohammed bin Salman announced his Vision 2030 blueprint for the country in April 2016, part of those plans involved bringing in new culture and entertainment. At least two dozen promoters contacted Rob McHugh, vice president of international booking for Feld Entertainment, to broker a deal to bring Feld’s family shows overseas. McHugh knows the drill.

Two years ago in Osaka, Japan, Feld built a pop-up stadium at an old airfield that had been a festival site for motorsports show Monster Jam. Feld added seats, concrete and dirt. The company did it again this past year in Inner Mongolia. “If you find a festival field and create a festival atmosphere, we can do a pop-up stadium [for Monster Jam]. Venues are the issue,” McHugh said.

In Bogota, Colombia, one of the top countries for Disney on Ice, the arena closed for two years of renovations. This year, Cirque du Soleil had a show in Bogota for which it built a tent in place of the arena. “After they left town, we used that same tent for Disney on Ice. We look at models that work, as long as it doesn’t get too expensive,” McHugh said.

Sometimes, the problem is not venues, but their use. In Europe, soccer is sacred, and facility managers and soccer clubs don’t want you to ruin their pitch. Monster Jam dirt is not welcome. In India, which is Feld’s next big adventure, cricket is sacred – same issue.

Now, family show producers are focused on Saudi Arabia, and the state of the venue industry is key. Each time, the Feld operations crew has to fulfill the sales team’s dream and transform a hallowed venue or a dusty, windy field into a proper family show experience.

To book Saudi Arabia under the new deal, Feld’s European team, led by Steven Armstrong and Tony Worgan, contacted Saudi Arabia’s General Entertainment Authority directly. In mid-April, they were among the show producers meeting the prince in Beverly Hills, Calif., who signed a letter of intent to bring all of their portfolio of shows to Saudi Arabia over the next five years, beginning in 2019.

McHugh said the Saudis actually wanted them this year, but time is needed to adapt the shows and the marketing of the shows to the culture. Feld already knows there is a market, having sent Monster Jam to King Fahd International Stadium in Riyadh, the capital, in 2017 with Live Nation as promoter. It drew more than 40,000 and was a first step, McHugh said. Live Nation made the deal through yet another Saudi council, the General Sports Authority.

“For us it’s not just about getting the deal done. It’s about the journey of creating family entertainment in a country now being flooded with all this entertainment,” McHugh said. Feld’s interest is in becoming a mainstay that plays the country over the long term, the type of show that creates a family tradition and becomes part of their calendar.

First to Saudi Arabia will be Disney on Ice and Disney Live, followed by Marvel Universe Live (2019-20) and Jurassic World Live (2021-22), when those shows go international.

Saudi Arabia has 32 million people, they are highly educated, and 70 percent are under the age of 30. They have entertainment experience through mobile devices and the internet. “Now they’ll see live entertainment, a whole new world,” McHugh said.

Nitro Circus also played Riyadh in 2017 through the General Sports Authority. Kurt Nicoll, Nitro’s vice president of global touring, called the crowds great and highly enthusiastic. His route to Saudi Arabia was through the Raine Group of New York, the main investor in Nitro Circus. They, too, are working on a multiyear contract.

With an eye toward more global expansion, Nitro Circus has hired Anthony Warren, formerly with WWE, to build an international route for the show. Nicoll sees a lot of growth in 2019 and 2020 for Nitro Circus, with tours of South America and Asia targeted for next year. The impact of worldwide social media is driving the expansion.

Ditto for the Harlem Globetrotters. President Howard Smith said they played their first show ever in Saudi Arabia last year and sold out. It is part of an even bigger international push for the globetrotting show.

The Harlem Globetrotters are popular around the world, Smith said, but this year and next, they are concentrating on “going back into territories we haven’t been to in years. We played 10 games in Australia in partnership with the National Basketball League this year (last time there was 2015), and just signed a deal to return to China (last visit in 2014).”

The Trotters team in Europe booked 17 countries in 93 days, performing 75 games last year, an “efficient way to hit the marketplace,” Smith said. Comparatively, the Trotters play 330 games annually in the U.S. and 120 internationally in 30 countries.

In every case, the key to international  success is developing a multiweek tour of 10-12 dates, either in the country or in the region. And for an arena production like Disney on Ice, it’s a matter of finding suitable available venues.

Another job is making sure the content fits the market’s culture.

Feld has been to 78 countries to date, and Disney stories are Disney stories, but there are always subtle changes to tailor the show and the marketing to the local consumer. “In Nordic countries Donald Duck is popular, so we use him in artwork,” McHugh said. “Once, we took the Three Little Pigs out of the show in a Muslim country.”

In Saudi Arabia last year, Monster Jam did not have Grave Digger for the first time ever, because the truck has graves painted on the side and it’s dark; the Saudis felt it was devilish, McHugh said.

“In China, you have to copyright the trucks’ names and IP value. You have to find the literal translations of Grave Digger and El Toro Loco in Chinese. It’s about the culture and getting it right the first time,” he added.

While McHugh would not be surprised to see the Saudis build new venues in the 12 cities targeted for population growth, right now they don’t know if the first tour of that country with the ice show is two markets or more. The goal is to build it to four to six cities over the next five years and add dates in South Africa and the United Arab Emirates as well.

It also has to fit into the tour schedule worldwide. Feld Entertainment still has a dominant number of dates in North America, but the tide is shifting. Down the road, the company plans to add India, and McHugh is jockeying for more international dates available to book. The Feld European team now books three tours. McHugh sees it going to four.

The future looks good and Saudi Arabia is one of the reasons.

“Kenneth (Feld, CEO) will tell you, there are 300 million people in the U.S. and 7 billion people in the world; the world is our oyster,” McHugh said. “Kenneth did the first deal internationally, taking Disney on Ice outside the U.S. in 1986. That’s why he bought (what became Feld Motor Sports in 2008). They didn’t play that much internationally. I don’t think he looks at anything unless it has international appeal.

“We’re always looking to grow international, but whether you put it on a plane or a boat, it’s going to be expensive. There is a higher cost to play overseas but, maybe, one day we’ll have a Monster Jam depot in Europe or Asia similar to the U.S.”


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Posted: 14 Jun 2018, 2:00 pm

Jeff greene, chairman and founder of EverGreene Architectural Arts, has helped restore more than 400 h istoric theaters. He is considered one of the country’s foremost experts in both traditional and innovative techniques for murals, ornamental plaster and decorative finishes. He talked with VenuesNow about his decades-long career and the future of history.

Do you have a favorite historic theater project?
Whatever one I’m working on now, and we have a bunch of projects. We start next week at the Palace Theatre in Columbus, Ohio. We’re working on the Academy of Fine Arts in Lynchburg, Va., which has been closed since 1958, believe it or not. And the Carolina Theatre in Charlotte, N.C., is about to start. There are projects in L.A. and New York, theaters all over the place, small and large and everything in between.

Is it true the action now is in small towns because in large towns historic theaters have already been restored?
Is Columbus small or large? It’s not like the ’80s, ’90s and early 2000s, but there are a couple big theaters that haven’t been done, most notably the Uptown in Chicago, which has been closed for 30 years. It’s one of the largest theaters ever built. At 6,000 seats, it’s certainly the largest still standing, and we’re all waiting for it to happen in our lifetime. But there are less and less large movie palaces being renovated and there are more and more small theaters. The difference in those small towns is that the opera house or the movie theater has an enormous impact on the community. Every town had a theater. The question is how many are left and what is their use? The Pantages in Tacoma, Wash., is another. The Pantages has been operating as a Broadway center and some renovation was done in the late ’70s, early ’80s. They basically painted it white, painted over the murals and took the boxes off, but it’s open and operating. We went in two years ago to investigate. They are going to put it back.
They’re also restoring The Met Philly. That’s a big-town project.
They just tore down the Boyd Theatre  in Philadelphia, which we lobbied against and they tore it down anyway. It was the last movie palace in Philadelphia. That might have spurred why they’re doing the The Met Philly. The Boyd was beloved, and it was torn down for nothing. The people who owned it took hammers to all the ornaments and destroyed it, so it could not be restored. It was partially demolished by neglect, but also by a wanton act of destruction.

Some historic theaters were once churches. Have you worked on those?
These are incredibly flexible venues that can be used for all sorts of things. Some were churches before they became historic theaters. Some theaters become churches. The Times Square Church is the old Mark Hellinger Theatre designed by Thomas Lamb. It’s a magnificent theater that James Nederlander regrets he ever sold. The savior of the historic theater was pornography and churches. A lot of theaters ended up showing Kung Fu and X-rated movies, and that’s why they’re still there. It’s an incredibly versatile building type. The stage is the engine, the audience is the fuel, but the vehicle is the theater, and it’s incredibly flexible. Uses change all the time.

In your experience, what are the renovation pain points? Can you restore historic theaters for today’s fan and artist expectations?
We’re making generalizations, that one size doesn’t fit all. But at the Tennessee Theatre in Knoxville, they cantilevered the new stagehouse over the street to solve the space problem. On Broadway, and we’ve done most of those houses, they’re expanding restrooms and bar space and lobby space, which were in short supply, and back of house amenities as well, often by digging down and adding floors below the stage and lobbies. One of the big engines helping theaters is the historic tax credits.

Norfolk, Va., is seeking historic status for Chrysler Hall, which was built in the ’70s. Is that historic?
It’s 50 years old. That’s all you need. Anything over 50 years old. We’re restoring modern buildings now all the time. We’re restoring the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., which is now a historic venue. It was built in the ’60s. You have to comply with Secretary of Interior standards for historic restoration. You have to follow certain guidelines and work with reviewing agencies like the state historic preservation offices and the National Park Service. We do a lot of going in early on, documenting things, finding out what was there, and creating the historic structure report, and that informs the design process. We’re looking for the character-defining features of the place to be preserved. It could be the architecture, the history, the plasterwork; it might be who the architect was.

What is the hardest thing about restoring historic theaters? What is your pain point?
[Laughing] I’m inclined to say the clients. The people in the theater world get it and they’re all wonderful, but there’s the arts and there’s pragmatism. So there is friction between the pragmatic and the artistic vision. There doesn’t need to be, but that is one of the challenges. The problem is not finding projects, but finding clients who want to do the right thing.

Could you build a “new” historic theater from scratch?
The lobby of the Ohio Theatre at Playhouse Square in Cleveland is one. A 1926 theater by Thomas Lamb, it was burned in a fire in 1963, and replaced by some ugly 1970s thing that looked like it was right out of a mall. Someone came along and said he wanted to pay to re-create it – it’s an enormous lobby 100 feet long by 50 feet wide by 30 feet tall with murals and marble and chandeliers. And we re-created it. That’s a once in a lifetime job — to re-create one where it was gone. And it was done economically.

There are people who still have the skills needed?
It’s another form of preservation — preserving the craftsmanship, people that know how to do it.

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Posted: 14 Jun 2018, 2:00 pm

It’s evident that the burgeoning Florida market has been beneficial to its venues. A number of facilities are undergoing renovations and updates to better serve the increasing number of sellout events precipitated by the state’s growing population.

In Jacksonville, for example, “It’s a very competitive market, with several university performing arts centers, another public PAC, the usual concert promoters, an NFL team and significant minor league teams in all major sports, all competing for the public’s disposable dollars,” said Numa Saisselin, president of the Florida Theatre.

According to the most recent estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau, Florida’s population grew by 367,525 people in 2016 to 20,612,439, the second-largest gain in sheer numbers after Texas.
The population boom has been beneficial for bookings.

“Florida is constantly evolving, but in Tampa specifically, we had an influx of people, with 200 a day moving here,” said Kevin Preast, senior vice president of events management at Amalie Arena in Tampa. “We’re the 11th-largest market in the country and getting younger and more diverse. Our residents’ disposable income appeals to acts in our market.”

Like Tampa, Osceola County is one of the fastest-growing areas in the state.

“The county has been very supportive of the entertainment we provide,” said Rob Larson, general manager of Osceola Heritage Park in Kissimmee, south of Orlando. “We have many areas for entertainment, including an arena, baseball stadium, event center and festival area. We’re in a great, competitive market and trying to highlight who we are the best we can.”
Jacksonville is what many consider a working city as opposed to a tourist area or a winter snowbird city.

“Our audience are people who actually live and work here all year long,” said Saisselin. “Florida is such a huge state, and the markets within it don’t have much to do with each other. Jacksonville is the biggest city in Florida, and culturally, we’re a lot more like Georgia and the Carolinas than we are like Miami, Tampa or Orlando.”

Yet the city is still a very competitive market.
“Jacksonville is the biggest city in terms of land mass in the lower 48 states, and getting people to travel from one side of it to another to see a show poses a significant challenge that we fight every day,” said Saisselin. “But if you give people good programming, they will come.”
The city and its NFL team, the Jacksonville Jaguars, last year opened Daily’s Place, a 5,500-seat amphitheater (see story, Page 56) booked by Live Nation, which Saisselin admitted shook things up, “but we’re holding our own, and our spring attendance this year has been outstanding. The Florida Theatre has been a powerful venue since 1927, so we’re pretty bullish on the future, competition or no competition.”

Record-Breaking Events
The theater is not alone in coming off a successful season. Orlando’s Camping World Stadium had a great 12 months, hosting the Pro Bowl and WrestleMania.

“WrestleMania was the highest-grossing show ever at the stadium in April 2017 at $14 million, while the Jimmy Buffett/Eagles concert (April 14 this year) was our top-grossing concert in our history at $8.2 million,” said Allen Johnson, executive director for Orlando Venues, which encompasses Camping World Stadium and Amway Center. “We attribute this to Orlando being a top destination choice and one that draws from all areas. About 80 percent of the people that attended WrestleMania came from outside of the state.”

Amway Center also has had a banner year. In its last fiscal year, which ran through Sept. 20, 2017, the center held 35 concerts, and this year’s number is 42—both record setters.
“Justin Timberlake recently set the house record with 17,839 tickets sold, grossing $2.3 million, the highest for a single-night concert,” Johnson said. “We have 220 active nights with this venue.”

The focus is now on the Latin market, with grass-roots marketing and dedicated personnel to tap into these events.

“This market requires a different approach, pricing and marketing strategy to get the message out,” said Johnson.

Miami’s AmericanAirlines Arena also had a big year, with show bookings up 15 percent and the NBA’s Miami Heat making the playoffs.

“It was our first year without the circus, which we’ve hosted for 18 years, but we were able to fill in those dates with additional programming, so there was no overall impact,” said Kim Stone, Heat executive vice president and general manager of the arena. “We have solid bookings this summer, and recently relaunched our mobile app for our Heat games, which see 85 percent usage on average.”

Osceola Heritage Park’s Mecum car auction, which has been held for the last 12 years, is now one of the world’s largest. The 10-day event attracts 80,000 attendees and produced $96.6 million in car sales in January.

“This is an event people plan vacations around,” Larson said. “Another big event is the Osceola Fair and Rodeo in February, which brings in close to 100,000 people.”

Katt Williams taped his most recent Netflix comedy special at the Florida Theatre last summer. Comedian John Mulaney wrapped up his Kid Gorgeous tour there April 29.

“In between these events, about 175,000 people came through our front doors for all forms of music, dance and theater programming, even a few movies,” Saisselin said. “We never stop booking, so we’re putting new shows on sale almost every week.”

Although the venue is available to rent out, the bulk of its events are in-house promotions.
“In just five years, we’ve gone from 115,000 ticket buyers a year to 175,000, and the growth has come from our own in-house programming,” Saisselin said.

At the yearly fundraiser for educational programs at Sarasota’s Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, Barry Manilow brought his Vegas act.

“This was our most successful event ever. We raised over $300,000,” said Chuck Stevens, director of marketing and audience development. “Other successful events included ‘Motown (The Musical),’ which was at 93 percent capacity; Daughtry at 92 percent capacity; and sellout shows for ‘Jersey Boys’ and Yanni.”

Amalie Arena’s highlights included hosting the NHL All-Star Game for the first time since 1999.

Renovations and Expansions
A number of Florida venues have been undergoing renovations and updates to keep pace with growing attendance and guest expectations.
Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall is in the middle of a capital campaign, raising money to better use its land.

“We have a large amount of land available on the bay, and there is a … city group putting together a project to redevelop 56 acres to wedge out space for a new performance center,” Stevens said. “If that happens, we will repurpose this building. We have more full-time residents, so we need a larger hall.”

Osceola Heritage Park was a construction site for most of last year while the venue’s exterior underwent refurbishments. Among the new additions were new parking lots, a new front entrance with pavers and the addition of outdoor seating at the 3-year-old Heritage Club, a 3,500-square-foot meeting and party space.

“We also added a freight elevator at the same time on the west side of the building, electronic message boards and a walk-in refrigerator/freezer for our catering team,” Larson said. “In addition, we upgraded the meeting rooms and added $3 million worth of LED lights in the arena and event center. Over the past three years, we’ve added over $25 million in upgrades.”
Camping World underwent a major renovation in 2014, and updated its Varsity Club meeting and event space last year.

“We’re looking to increase our cooking capabilities and improve food offerings at our six clubs,” Johnson said. “We invested $750,000 in improvements in the Varsity Club and are looking toward $1.2 million in improvements this fall for club area foodservice.”
Amway Center is having an architect study its suites to possibly convert some for other uses.
“We’re looking for ways to repurpose them,” Johnson said. “We completed an LED conversion for our lights, including sports lights, updated our Wi-Fi system, and we’re getting into food composting.”

The center also will be taking down its large reception area and turning it into office space for employees and interns.

“We’re also looking at backstage improvements this summer,” Johnson said. “Today’s shows are looking for dressed-up areas that are more comfortable with softer lighting.
The venue also spent $1 million in 2017 preparing for 5G cell service and will spend another $1 million this summer.

Amalie Arena’s $100 million renovation project kicked off five years ago in conjunction with nearby expansion that includes a hotel and medical school. Last summer, the venue’s Lexus Lounge was renovated to the tune of $2 million.

“We took it down to the studs, expanded the footprint, replaced the seats, incorporated a new scoreboard and curtaining system, and added new points of sale, while also expanding the entryway,” Preast said. “We did the updates over the summer, so it didn’t impact our ability to book the building.”

Formerly Lakeland Center and Lakeland Civic Center, RP Funding Center now has a $150,000-a-year naming-rights deal.

“This was one of the first things I worked on when we signed the deal with the Orlando Magic,” said Tony Camarillo, executive director of the center, referring to an agreement last year to put an NBA G League team affiliated with the Magic in the arena starting in 2017.

The center’s $14.7 million renovation began before the Lakeland Magic’s season and included updating locker rooms, carpeting replacing hard flooring, a new basketball court, new lighting and sound, and LED boards. Phase two kicks off this summer and concentrates on the meeting space.

Clearwater’s Ruth Eckerd Hall was designed nearly 40 years ago by Frank Lloyd Wright’s architecture firm, so when it came time for renovations, it was necessary to remain faithful to the building’s distinct style.

“We are a nonprofit that continuously raises money to stay alive. However, we know what time it is with our development plan,” said Zev Buffman, president and CEO. “We’re sitting on 40 acres of land, which is unusual for a PAC. One part of our property to the east connects with Tampa Bay, and we sit on a major eight-lane artery.”

The center holds 150 events and is busy 360 days a year, and has an 88 percent average capacity. “Food and beverages, parking and other activities covers 87 percent of our $25-million-a-year budget,” Buffman said. “The goal of the renovation was to give people a reason to stick around.

The first phase of Ruth Eckerd Hall’s $19 million “Expanding the Experience” renovation began in 2015, when the Murray Theatre, inside the hall’s Marcia P. Hoffman School of the Arts, completed a $1.5 million renovation. This included a new ticket office, lobby and bar area, state-of-the-art upgrades in lighting and sound and a variety of seven new and available seating configurations. Since opening, the Murray has been used and booked nearly 80 percent of the time.

The next phase included the re-creation of the 350-capacity Margarete Heye Great Room with new paint, carpets, floors and bar area, plus upgraded lights, sound and seating, and a new kitchen.

The next phase of construction, known as “The Shovel in the Ground” phase, is fully funded at a cost of $12 million, and began in spring 2017 with the physical and aesthetic improvements to the roadway leading from McMullen Booth Road to Ruth Eckerd Hall and changes to the main parking lot. The project adds two lanes to the road, plus new signage, lighting and landscaping. The majority of these changes will be complete by August. 

This summer, the north façade of the venue will be torn down to expand the current 1,000-square-foot lobby to six times the size. The new space will include expanded food and beverage service and the Kate Tiedemann and Ellen Cotton Cabaret Theatre, which will be a new preshow performance venue for students in the Ruth Eckerd Hall education programs and The Florida Orchestra. 

The Dress Circle Lounge for Circle of Stars members will be doubled in size, giving it a modern makeover and locating it adjacent to the new lobby. A second bar will be added downstairs. 

Construction will continue on the outside of the venue, beginning with the England Family Welcome Pavilion, a new outdoor entertainment area with seating as well as food and beverage service adjacent to the new arrival plaza and the Raymond James Financial Ticket Office.
The new arrival plaza will be expanded to accommodate patrons with more room to drop off members of their party, avail themselves to valet parking or temporarily park their cars on non-show days while buying tickets. The ticket office will be renovated to include a substantial overhang, designed to mirror the ones at the entrances to the Murray Theatre and Ruth Eckerd Hall’s administrative offices, which will provide protection from the elements. — Lisa White

In May 2017, the Jacksonville Jaguars opened Daily’s Place, a 5,500-seat, three-tier amphitheater attached to the south end zone of EverBank Field. The complex includes a covered “flex field” that’s both a practice field for the Jaguars and an event space, as well as sliding doors throughout to create a truly versatile venue.

“We tied the amphitheater into the stadium, so there’s a lower bowl that seats 3,500 people that utilizes the stadium’s end zone concourse on the first level, a second level with 1,000 seats that connects to the stadium’s Bud Light terrace, and a third deck that ties into the terrace suite,” said Scott Radecic, senior principal of Kansas City, Mo.-based Populous, designer of the amphitheater. “We were able to take advantage of EverBank Field’s high-end hospitality amenities.”

The amphitheater and flex field cost $65 million, but the total renovation, which included an overhaul of the stadium’s club lounges, totaled $90 million. The Jaguars and city of Jacksonville financed the project.

What also sets the venue apart is the PTFE fabric panels that make up the roof and walls and allow light to shine through. The roof panels are hung from trusses that emulate the nearby Hart Bridge over the St. Johns River.

“It’s a really interesting piece of architecture,” Radecic said.
Contractor Danis and Hunt Construction also worked on the project.
“As for the stadium with adjacent amphitheater, there’s nothing like it in the NFL,” Radecic said. “From the beginning, the idea was to make it unique and iconic. The Jaguars have told us how it has been wonderfully received and utilized.”

The city owns the venue, which is operated by Bold Events, a company created by the Jaguars.
For its first concert season, the amphitheater came in second among Florida venues with a capacity of 5,001 up to 10,000 for a one-year period running through April 30 of this year. The venue’s 32 shows resulted in nearly 110,000 tickets sold and a gross of $6.8 million.
Daily’s Place opened May 27 last year with a show by the Tedeschi Trucks Band. Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks live in the area and have Jaguars season tickets. Other shows included Dave Matthews and Tim Reynolds, Diana Ross, REO Speedwagon and Styx, and the Zac Brown Band. — Lisa White

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Posted: 14 Jun 2018, 1:40 pm

Tacoma venues & Events, the city-run entity that operates venues such as the Tacoma Dome, was the 100th venue operator to partner with the largest crowdsourcing traffic app, Waze. Now, with the Waze Global Event Partners program stretching beyond 200 participants, Tacoma offers up the newest from Waze: carpooling.

“This is another tool we can offer to encourage fans to share a ride and share their experience while helping to reduce the traffic that can be associated with large-scale events,” said Kim Bedier, Tacoma Venues & Events director.

The Waze app serves as a free partner with venues around the world. About 60 percent of those partners reside in the United States. Roughly two years into the event partner program, Paulo Cabral, head of Global Event Partners for Waze, said the growth has proved to be organic and the partnerships serve as a win all the way around, with Waze benefiting from more users and venues reducing key pain points for visitors: travel time and parking.

As part of the larger Waze application programming interface, the app depends on users to input real-time information about traffic conditions for drivers to find the most efficient routes to their destinations. With the venue partnership, event organizers have access to upload closures and other near-venue conditions to help fans gain the best information for travel. Event organizers can also integrate parking lot information into the app, directing those who paid for parking in advance to the correct lot, cutting down on traffic buildups in specific locations.

Further collaboration with cities, counties and police allows real-time Waze data to open dynamic traffic lighting so that officials can keep vehicles moving and ease congestion.
Venues without their own app can point users directly to the Waze app—but with the updated information—and send links to the Waze-loaded information through newsletters, e-tickets and more. Waze can create customized event websites and shareable links with driving directions and offers branded Waze inbox messages with live road closures. 

Bedier said Tacoma promotes Waze using pre-event messaging through multiple channels and now “thousands of guests” have joined the effort. “Tacoma Dome staff input anticipated road closures directly into the Waze portal, and combined with the real-time driving data from other users, fans are directed to the fastest route,” she said. “The market overall here is very tech-savvy and Waze already has hundreds of thousands of monthly users, so encouraging them to use the app is a natural fit.”

Two Atlanta venues that opened last year, Mercedes-Benz Stadium and SunTrust Park, are among the highest-profile facilities to align themselves with Waze.

Mercedes-Benz Stadium in downtown Atlanta was among the first in professional sports to partner with Waze. The partnership means that Waze is the only GPS program with the stadium’s event-day traffic plans and street closures incorporated, offering the most detailed route information.

SunTrust Park relies on this partnership for a value-add for fans. With the baseball stadium featuring parking lots in a 360-degree array around the venue, the Waze partnership gives users who have prepurchased parking exact directions to their specific lot entry point without giving out the address.

Waze also includes a feature that helps fans plan their drive, incorporating everything from traffic and parking to offering up the best time to leave. 

With such a premium placed on users and event organizers inputting data — event organizers handle the road closures and rerouting near the venue, but they still rely on drivers to help give
real-time updates farther from the destination — Cabral said they also opened up a “partner portal” to allow partners to communicate directly with Waze to push improvements and adaptation.

As Waze values gaining more exposure and users through the partnerships, Bedier said she continues to promote it because she believes it enhances the customer’s overall experience while saving visitors time and money.

Adding the carpool features serves as a natural extension.

Launched so far only in a few states—including Washington, California and Texas—the Waze Carpooling feature allows fans to announce a planned trip on the app and have other fans in the area join the ride in an effort to alleviate traffic by taking more cars off the road.

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Posted: 14 Jun 2018, 1:00 pm

Bonnaroo, says food vendor Ryon Weber, is the Super Bowl of festivals for traveling food trucks.

“I serve 3,000 to 12,000 people at festivals leading up to Bonnaroo,” said Weber, who owns and operates a pizza company called Pies for the People. “Then you have Coachella and Bonnaroo, which is 70,000 people.”

In other words, it’s a whole different ballgame — or food game, for that matter.
The massive music and arts festival takes place on a 700-acre farm in Manchester, Tenn., about 70 miles southeast of Nashville, where roughly 150 bands play on multiple stages. This year’s festival was scheduled for June 7-10, and headlining acts included Eminem, the Killers, Sheryl Crow and Paramore.

AC Entertainment and Superfly Presents produce the festival. As fans meander among the stages, they’re presented with hundreds of food and beverage options, carefully planned by Bonnaroo’s director of concessions, Chris Crowell, and her team of 25 employees.

Street tacos, a pig roasting pit, funnel cakes, dumplings, doughnuts, burgers, Mexican and Creole food are only a fraction of the food options offered at Bonnaroo.

“The tricky part with Bonnaroo is it’s so spread out,” Crowell said. “Over the years, we’ve had the same locations that we’ve had for several years. We learn from year to year and make sure we provide the right amount of food. I think that variety is really key.”

Crowell has worked with Bonnaroo since it started 17 years ago, so she’s familiar with the ins and outs of the event.

A total of 15 food trucks are spread throughout the venue, eight of them stationed at the Food Truck Oasis. The others are carefully assigned to camping spots and other areas on the farm.
Each year, Crowell and her team try to expand food options. This year, they had celebrity Chef Tim Love operating The Love Shack, which offered a gourmet barbecue pit called Holy Smokes.

Gone are the days of venues offering only cheap nachos and hot dogs, Crowell said. Fans demand more now.

“Now that the festival food is good, it makes it easier for (fans) to enjoy the show and the music,” she said. “All around (the food) is just better.”

Great communication with vendors and with the Bonnaroo team is key to success, Crowell said.
“I want to make sure these vendors are really taken care of. It’s not easy setting up at Bonnaroo. There’s not a lot of infrastructure. You’ve got to get set up and be prepared for all the different weather that comes,” she said. “Some vendors stay open 24 hours, which is a long time to stay open.”

Bonnaroo vendor coordinators are assigned to specific areas throughout the venue, working with vendors and making sure they have what they need.

She says the communication with food vendors begins months before the event.
Vendors appreciate that communication and better understand what to expect, Weber said, highlighting that he’s been a food provider at Bonnaroo for 11 years now.

“It has been a pleasure to be a part of Bonnaroo for all this time. They are a professional company to work for. It’s a serious business when you’re handling food and serving food for people over a four-day period. You have to have these regulations. It’s easy to get caught up in the party of it all,” Weber said.

For example, food truck vendors don’t serve food out of the trucks, per se. Instead, their trucks are parked behind tents. They serve the food out of the tents, grabbing product from their trucks.
It would be too hectic to manage the long lines of people wanting food if the trucks didn’t have a tent area that provides them more space for serving, Crowell said.

Food vendors also have a huge amount of work organizing employees before the event.
“Before I serve my first slice of pizza at Bonnaroo, there’s a lot of work just getting the pizza there,” he said. “And the logistics of coordinating all those kids to come to work at different times, getting them credentials and getting them to camp.”

Vendors usually hire locals from around Tennessee to work with them each year. Weber typically has 36 employees who help throughout the four-day festival, and the majority of them live in the area.

Weber travels around the country in a semi truck, hauling his pizza products and tents with him to festivals, starting in March and usually ending the festival season in October. 

He also owns two Pie for the People restaurants, one in Los Angeles and the other in Seattle.
Vendors are required to use compostable materials to serve food, including plates, cups and utensils. That’s one rule at Bonnaroo that is non-negotiable.

Crowell also asks vendors to source ingredients locally from farms surrounding Manchester. She gives each vendor a list of farms to choose from, but not all concessionaires take advantage of the suggestions.

“Everything I do is fresh, every time I get to a festival. I don’t cut corners and use frozen products,” Weber said. “I source as many of my ingredients as possible from local farmers. That’s not a tremendous amount, but we do what we can do.”

Beverages are also big business at the festival.

Bonnaroo has the Broo’ ers Festival, where 26 breweries from across the nation bring two types of beer from their establishments, giving festival attendees a plethora of options.

Coffee is also a necessity, and several coffee vendors are spread out on the farm.

For the last nine years, Bear Claw Coffee from Ann Arbor, Mich., has served caffeinated beverages to festival goers.

This year, the coffee company — owned and operated by husband and wife team Debi and Doug Scroggins — celebrated eight years as beverage vendors at Bonnaroo.

“My husband and I founded the company in 2001. We started out with a small double drive-through in a small cornfield,” Debi Scroggins said. “After the recession, it was really hard to expand brick and mortar, and we started doing events. We really serve some cool venues now.”
They had three locations at Bonnaroo this year, and employed more than 70 people. Typically, they’ll bring about 35 people with them and hire the rest locally. Most years, they reach out to the same people around Tennessee to help them run the coffee stations, which are open 24 hours a day throughout the four-day festival. Things can get a little hectic.

“You just gotta keep your head and be as organized as you can,” she said.
They’ve come up with a “Festival Crew Survival Guide” for employees to help them be successful.

“You really need to rest, hydrate, rest and nourish your body,” she said.

Her crew usually will work eight hours, rest or go to a show, eat and then work another eight hours, rotating shifts with other employees.

Another huge aspect of Bonnaroo is all of its nonprofits on site, promoting social justice and equal rights, to name a few causes.

Laura Sohn is the director of sustainability at Bonnaroo, and she organizes a huge dinner for volunteers and nonprofits each year called the BonnaRoots. It costs $50 to attend, and it acts as a fundraiser for nonprofits at the event.

It feeds 150 people, and all the food is sourced from within 200 miles of the festival.

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Posted: 14 Jun 2018, 1:00 pm

Controlling air traffic used to be the job of Amsterdam RAI Exhibition and Convention Centre CEO Paul Riemens. Now he wants to control the conversation around another aerial segment: drones.

“I want to make Amsterdam the drone capital of the world,” said Riemens, who worked in aviation for 32 years and was the CEO of air traffic management for the Netherlands and the chairman for the Civil Air Navigation Services Organization, the global umbrella organization of air traffic controllers.

“We’ve seen a rise in the last two decades in automated flying machines and it’s been growing at a rapid speed the last few years,” Riemens said. “This is creating a whole new sector that needs to be discussed and regulated. Aviation in general is a traditional and safety-oriented sector and often brings issues that are quite difficult to find solutions for.”

Riemens’ former aviation colleagues encouraged him to think about the fact that the conversation around drones was just in its infancy and the concentration of the new drone sector might be something RAI can pick up and run with. With that in mind, Riemens and his team have launched a “drone initiative” that hopes to drive business to his Amsterdam convention center.

“The RAI will be the place where the industry matures,” he said. “The idea is to make RAI a centralized and consolidated place for the aviation leaders of Europe to bring their ideas. I want to make the RAI the place where the industry leaders decide how we are all going to deal with this new technology and all the legal and logistical issues that are going to come with it. Our goal is to provide a platform for leaders to gather as we aim to make Amsterdam the drone capital of the world.”

New European regulation for drones will be introduced in 2019, giving the sector a huge boost, he said.

“We see major opportunities to bring all the relevant parties together— the users, local authorities, all the regulators of the European countries and the businessmen— and offer a value proposition for the industry.”

Riemens has already put his drone action plan in place and several activities have been programmed under the “Amsterdam, City of Drones” concept.

Riemens lured the Commercial UAV Expo Europe, a Pan-European event focused on the industrial use of drones in contexts such as security, infrastructure and agriculture, from Brussels. That event took place at the RAI April 10-12.

“Amsterdam Drone Week” will take the stage Nov. 26 -30, when a number of events surrounding the drone industry. Technology, privacy, regulation, safety and security  will be addressed.

“This will allow all companies with operations in the unmanned aircraft systems sector a platform for discussion,” Riemens said.

Another activity during Drone Week will be the European Aviation Safety Agency conference on high-level drones that will bring together the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management and other relevant parties.

Clifford “Rip” Rippetoe, president and CEO of the San Diego Convention Center and IAVM second vice chair, thinks a convention center being able to demonstrate the embracing of new technology, such as drones, is a great idea and a solid marketing plan.

“Every facility has the opportunity to create an agenda and then market to a segment that is currently being underserved,” Rippetoe said. “There are challenges to the use of drones and those topics need to be discussed — and need a place to discuss them.”

“Here the FAA would regulate drones,” he said. “And no facility has put out the welcome mat for how business and the FAA can work together to create policies and start much-needed discussions about all the areas that will be impacted by expanding drones flying around above us.

“I think RAI’s initiative is a great idea and it already seems to be working; they have business they would not have had if they never created the campaign. That’s a win for the convention center and the city.”

Rippetoe believes original concepts and new ways to market buildings are a perfect way to attract new business. “It’s also a great way to use the area as a competitive advantage to other venues in the area,” he said. “Every building and every city has to find their own niche. Your differentiated offering is going to make the difference between a producer choosing your destination over someone else.”

Riemens is convinced that the potential for attracting new business through the drone initiative is immense. “Until now, most drone events were local and aimed at consumers,” he added. “With this concept we’re welcoming the drone industry to our building and offering a single place for all the future discussions around drones.”

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Posted: 14 Jun 2018, 1:00 pm

Geoff Gordon of Live Nation, who covers more than 600 shows for the mega-promoter, couldn’t be more excited about The Met Philly, a 3,400-seat restored opera house set to open in mid-December. It is undergoing a $56 million restoration in the hands of owner Eric Blumenthal and the city parks department.

Live Nation will be the operator/tenant. “It’s challenging to fix up something that’s been dormant for half a century,” Gordon observed. “But to bring something back that was left dormant is super exciting.”

He has been walking artists and agents through the under-construction venue for months now and believes it takes a creative person to see the potential. And they do.

So far he has booked six shows and, though he is not tied to a number, expects to book at least 50 its first year. “It has one of the biggest stages on the East Coast. They used to play full-court basketball there,” Gordon said. “You could do arena productions there.”

Holy Ghost Ministries is the other tenant at The Met Philly. The church will continue to meet at The Met every Sunday morning. “I don’t generally do a lot of shows Sunday morning,” Gordon said. “And the stage is huge. We can do multinight runs.”

Nine Inch Nails is booked for two, possibly three, shows Nov. 23-24 at the 2,812-seat Saenger Theatre in New Orleans. It’s quite a coup for the 100-year-old venue.

“When we look at shows coming to the city or region, the Saenger Theatre is iconic,” said David Skinner, general manager of the theater for Ambassador Theatre Group. “The Saenger is the play. It’s where they want to come.”

That was the case with Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails, which is playing only 18-20 cities in the country. “They wanted the intimate setting; the show is designed for theaters. He had to play here. Reznor wanted to play New Orleans and wanted to play the Saenger,” Skinner said.
Icing on the cake is that the venue was completely restored, at a cost of $53 million, after Hurricane Katrina flooded New Orleans. It reopened in 2013. “Because of Katrina we have a theater approaching 100 years old that is only 4 years old,” Skinner said. With “Hamilton” also on the books for 2018, the Saenger is set for a record-breaking year.

With 70 shows, fiscal 2018, which ends June 30, will also be a record for the Bob Hope Theatre in Stockton, Calif., according to Kendra Clark, GM there for SMG. “Our biggest increase is comedy,” Clark said. “We had three sold-out Jo Koy shows in January, and we sold out Tim Allen. It’s a great venue to see comedy.”

Roger Daltry played the 2,046-capacity theater in March, Clark said. “He was phenomenal. That was a pinch-me moment.”

Artists and comedians are no different from the general public. “When they come into a theater like this, they love it. They ask questions about the history. On our upper level we have a history room, a timeline of the theater, and even the original marquee from the Fox (it was originally a Fox movie theater) is in the room as well,” Clark said.

Comedy is also huge at the Paramount Theatre in Oakland, Calif. GM Leslee Stewart said fiscal 2018, which ends June 30, will be a banner year, with 135 shows and an operating budget that hit $2 million for the first time.

She did have one customer complaint when Chris Rock played five shows at the Paramount. The third night he brought Dave Chappelle on stage and after that, Chappelle joined him for the rest of the run. The audience was surprised and delighted, except one fan who wanted his money back because he paid for a ticket to see Chris Rock and Chappelle showed up.
“The business is cyclical. Everything just fell into place this year,” Stewart said of operating in a competitive market like the San Francisco Bay Area. There is a renaissance in Oakland, with lots of young people moving into the Uptown area of Oakland where the Paramount resides.
The line of people outside to see Pop Up Magazine, a variety show that sells out every year, revealed that millennial culture, Stewart said.

Gordon agrees that historic theaters can define downtown. Live Nation opened the Fillmore Philly two years ago and already people are referring to the Fillmore District. He envisions a similar status for The Met Philly.

“The energy of these venues is what people want,” Gordon said. His bird’s eye view of the restoration of the old opera house built by Oscar Hammerstein I, who also built the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York, is unimaginably cool. “There’s stuff in there that’s unbelievable,” he said. “They open up some ceilings and find these cool, ornate faces. They don’t make ’em like this anymore. The attention to detail is just insane … that’s where I get chills, thinking about how long ago someone was up there making that.”

“When a venue is a cool, attractive draw in coordination with an unbelievable artist on stage, that’s the perfect mix,” Gordon said, adding he loves all venues, including the out-of-the-ground arenas he books, but The Met Philly will always be special.

He believes it’s a great time in history for historic theaters. “I see millennial fans come to the Fillmore and Tower Theater and they do recognize and take the time to see how cool the venues are. It’s been 52 years since The Met Philly had a show. There is a whole generation of people who didn’t know it was there. It was hidden in plain view.”

Philadelphia in its entirety is on a good trajectory, he added. Success used to mean moving to the suburbs. Today, kids like his 25-year-old daughter don’t want to leave the city, don’t want to own a car, preferring ride share, and want to play where they live. “I see that in a lot of cities. They’re blowing up,” Gordon said.

Maintenance is constant at historic theaters. The Bob Hope Theatre was originally a movie house, then a concert hall, then sold to a private family in town, Clark said. When the city took back ownership in early 2000, all of the ornateness was painted over. Part of renovation was uncovering its past. Like Skinner, she has a 100-year-old modern building, but there are still issues.

The next project is back of house, Clark said. The dressing rooms were designed for dance and ensemble productions, long and narrow with a wall of mirrors and only one bathroom and shower. The plan is to take part of one dressing room to create two additional restrooms and showers, cost to be determined. Coming off a record year, she sees no issue with funding.
The nuances of operating a historic theater are not lost on these managers. Clark said there are still vented holders for cigarettes in the floor under every seat at Bob Hope Theatre.
The three marquees at the Saenger are refreshed every morning by three men putting up the letters. Any new theater has an electronic readerboard outside the venue. Being historic, the Saenger is precluded from doing that. “Our marquee is backlit with letters we put up by hand,” Skinner said. “Every morning, the guys go out with the lift. It takes three hours because we have three marquees, three men, six man hours, about $15,000 a year just to do that.”
Skinner asked the architects restoring the Saenger what it would cost to re-create such a theater from scratch today and they opined it’s a moot point because we don’t have the artists today to do the plasterwork and painting. “The ornateness of these theaters is what’s unique, but the cost to rehab becomes prohibitive.”

Oakland’s Paramount was authentically restored in 1972. Stewart came aboard in 1991. “I’ve been able to make sure I continue along that same path. I love the history of it. My job is to further what the architect wanted this theater to look like, not to take artistic license,” Stewart said.

She would love to have more bathrooms. “I would love to have an elevator,” Stewart said, but that’s not authentic. “I have people come to the building who graduated in early ’70s,” Stewart said. “They come in with their children and say, ‘Oh my gosh, it looks exactly the same. We still have Borax powder in the bathrooms to wash our hands. When you come into that building, you have stepped back into history in a beautiful way. We’re preserving the memories.”

Opulent is the word she would use to describe the art deco architecture. The next big restoration is to the exterior terra cotta and tile that lines the front exterior of the theater, a $700,000-plus project. Serendipitously, Gladding, McBean, the company that did the tiles originally, is still in business and will do the restoration.

All of the historic theater managers have someone on staff or on call who specializes in restoration. For Stewart that is David Boysel. “There is nothing he can’t do,” she said. “He discovered the original paint in the Ladies Cosmetic Room by scraping the layers behind the couch and will now restore the color to the way is was.”

For The Palladium at St. Petersburg (Fla.) College, investing $1 million in a state-of-the-art sound system in 2008 changed the game, said General Manager John Wilborn. Soon thereafter, he got a call from Billy Joel, who wanted to do a free show for just a college audience and “that changed people’s view of us in this market.” (see story, Page 44)

The 1925-era Majestic Theatre in Gettysburg, Pa., is not only historic, it’s in a historic town. Gettysburg is a small town, with 5,500 permanent residents, but it attracts 2 million visitors a year. The Majestic is right on the town square and is owned by a private liberal arts college, Gettysburg College, two blocks away.

Jeffrey Gabel, the executive director and a past president of the League of Historic American Theaters, said the Majestic generates $150,000 a year in new taxes for the borough, which bolsters a community that is 60 percent owned by the National Park Service, the Lutheran seminary or Gettysburg College, which are all off the tax rolls.

But like Wilborn, his mission is to serve the arts. Gettysburg College uses the theater for academic purposes and underwrites 30 percent of his annual operating costs of $1.1 million. Earned income brings in about $700,000 and contributed income, including $45,000 in memberships from several hundred supporters, covers the rest.

Operationally, he benefits from a $16.5 million renovation and expansion in 2004, which took the theater from a run-down movie house to a 1,500-seat performing arts theater restored to its 1925 glory. They also added two new movie theaters where he shows first-run independent films 360 days a year.

EverGreene Architectural Arts and national expert Jeff Greene oversaw the restoration, including analysis and re-creation of all the paints and surfaces. A unique architectural aspect is that the 1925 theater had a pressed tin ceiling, consisting of 1,500 ornate pieces, that had been painted black in the 1970s when the theater was triplexed. EverGreene took down all 1,500 pieces, shipped them to Brooklyn, and dipped and stripped and reinstalled. That is the theater’s architectural showpiece.

The result is a “very vital and busy performing arts center in a small rural community,” Gabel said. He calls it the “grandest small-town theater in America.”

An average week draws 400-500 moviegoers. They also have a large movie screen in the performing arts theater, where they show the Metropolitan Opera live. His bread and butter in live entertainment is the “three C’s” — country, Celtic and comedy.

The key in “big” names is to get up-and-coming artists. He works with John Sanders of Dan Smalls Presents, who happens to be a Gettysburg College graduate, to book emerging artists in American roots music. “It’s a rich time in young bands that are cross-pollinating in all the different genres,” Gabel said.

“The real movement in the country in historic theaters is in small towns,” Gabel believes. “That’s where the real action is. The big-city historic theaters have been restored in the last 30 years and are up and operating, like the Saenger. Small-town theaters have been struggling for decades to renovate.”

Jon Meyer of the Capitol Theater in Chambersburg, Pa., believes his 91-year-old, 730-seat historic theater will prove Gabel right. The theater is not on the Historic Register, so he’s not limited by law in what he can do, but he is limited by conscience and financial considerations.
The pain point is upkeep and the cost of upkeep. On a good note, the acoustics are great. Architects in 1927 knew what they were doing, Meyer said.

He has started a fundraising campaign — the Capitol Forever Campaign — which already raised $120,000 for a new sound and light board in the back of the theater. When the campaign kicks off again, he’ll be able to point to that improvement. Meyer’s operating budget comes in at $700,000.

Like his counterparts, Meyer has been looking to local talent, but his is in the very young category for a very old theater. One idea he brought with him from Arizona 18 months ago was a Young Playwrights Festival. The Chambersburg Community Theater brings the production value, and the 40 plays submitted were written by third-graders.

One group produced “The Adventures of Underpanty Man,” which won the Audience Choice Award. “It involved a lot of Silly String,” Meyer said. “They’re ready to write a sequel.” He couldn’t be happier. The festival made money, built an audience and has a future.
There is virtually no one in town that has not had some kind of encounter at The Cap. The goal is to build new memories for young kids.

The Met Philly will be heralded in a documentary when renovation and opening are complete, Gordon said. That will also help the cause of historic theaters everywhere. Gordon was excited about the process and the potential for the historic Met.

“We’re waiting for that happy ending and then it will come out.”

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Posted: 14 Jun 2018, 1:00 pm

Euclid, a data collecting company, started in the retail world. Its sophisticated software can tell a company who visited its store, how long they stayed in the store, how often they come to the store and what they’ve spent in the store.

The company has now pushed into the venue industry, and VenuesNow spoke with Euclid’s chief operating officer, Ross Chanin, to discuss how capturing data can help a venue understand its customers and ultimately provide a better guest experience.

When did Euclid start as a company?
We started in 2011. The company was founded by (mobile analytics expert) Will Smith and one of the co-founders of a company called Urchin, which was acquired by Google and became Google Analytics. The idea was to take Google Analytics and apply that to the offline world. Another way to say it is that we are an offline cookie.
The aim was to track consumers in retail settings?
The aim was to provide greater intelligence to marketers so they could provide better consumer experiences.

How does it work?
Euclid requires zero hardware deployment on premises. This is applicable for the largest shopping center in the U.S. and the largest stadium in the U.S. This is topical because the team here has spent years building direct integration into the leading Wi-Fi (original equipment manufacturers) and cloud systems. Because Euclid has built these architectures already, we can immediately capture the data from a mobile device, which gives off a unique ID every 30 to 90 seconds, when it enters a venue. Our technology sits on the access points and listens for the device pings. The magic happens when we capture the data.

Can Euclid capture data from every mobile device that enters a venue or only the guests that opt in to Wi-Fi?
We can gather data from every device that is in the geofence we’ve set up whether someone has opted in to the Wi-Fi or not. The device says hello to our identifiers when they enter, but we never identify a guest unless we get permission from that guest to do so.

What data points do you collect?
The email address is the No. 1 data point we collect and tells us who actually came and visited the venue. That allows us to know who our guest is. We also look at things like duration. Do people come to the first or second inning of a game and leave or stay for the entire time? Wi-Fi is far superior to tell us those things than GPS or any other technology that is out there, and it can do this without heavy infrastructure such as beacons.

We can also tell a venue if the guest comes alone or with a family, and because we can appreciate fan-level visits, we can provide increased targeting for sponsors to target relevant content in real time.

Do you collect data on a guest’s movements within the venue?
Our data provides granularity in 10 to 30 meters, location intelligence, and tells us where the guest is within the stadium. This is referred to as “zoning.”

Can you track purchases within a venue?
Yes. We integrate with (customer relationship management) and POS systems, and if the customer pays with a card or uses a loyalty program we can stitch those things together. That’s really powerful data.

Once you capture the data, what do you do with it?
We market to that customer. We send ads to phones. We target them for future events. We can push ads to Facebook or Instagram accounts. We are a data-in and data-out company, and use the data as a marketing channel to API into any other system.

You started the company targeting retail stores, such as Joann Fabric and Craft Stores. When did you start moving the system into the venue industry?
We started our push into venues in 2018; it’s a new and exciting vertical for us.
The traction has been excellent and fantastic. (Chanin would not reveal new sports clients.) We can help with ticketing, broadcast rights and even merchandising. What we’ve learned is that whether it’s MLB or NHL or MLS, sponsorships really matter at the venue level. Sponsors are continuing to ask venues for metrics to understand their ROI and we can provide that data.
We also provide real, qualified leads for their sales organizations. If you speak to franchise owners they say that they really know 30 to 40 percent of their actual guests, but the other 60 to 70 percent are unknown. A particular fan might come to two games and be unknown to the venue; the venue operators would love to know who that person is and have the ability to market to them to get them to come to more games. That’s not possible in many circumstances; with Euclid it is possible.

Can you cite a real-world example of how the data would help market the venue?
Let’s say we identify a guest who only comes to marquee games, with high ticket prices. If a venue wants to get them to come to B- and C-level games, the venue can target a fan in real time at the marquee game and offer a discount to the B- and C-level games. For the price of one ticket, the guest can get four tickets. Often, this will make or break a whole season; it’s a big deal.

Do you cross-market?
Absolutely. Let’s say a customer comes to Disney on Ice. We can then market to that customer to come to a family-day baseball game or NBA game. We think cross-marketing across a venue is really potent. Knowing your customers makes this possible to do.

Who ultimately owns the data?
The customer owns the data. Data ownership and stewardship is an important strategic asset for venues to have that is not reliant upon the Googles and Facebooks of the world. It’s a visual digital balance sheet for the venue.

How do contracts with Euclid work?
We have an annual fee; it’s a flat fee. (Chanin did not reveal prices.)

How do venues access data?
We have a full enterprise dashboard, that visualizes the data, and the venue marketing and sales force can access that anytime they want. We also integrate with Facebook. We can also integrate into any CRM system.

Can you compare what a guest does at one venue versus another venue across town?
We don’t share the data from one venue with another. But we can tell a venue whether a certain guest is a frequent venue visitor. We can also tell a venue whether a guest is a frequent restaurantgoer or what kind of concessions a guest purchases and then the venue can market to that guest accordingly.

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Who's Up For The Cup?
Posted: 13 Jun 2018, 9:00 pm

The Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif., is seen during the 1994 FIFA World Cup final. The stadium is a candidate to host games again in 2026. (Getty Images)

The World Cup dreams of 17 U.S. stadiums took a major step toward reality this week when FIFA officially announced the United 2026 bid, a joint effort among the U.S., Mexico and Canada, as hosts for the 2026 World Cup.

In the first three-country hosting plan, 10 U.S. cities and three each in Canada and Mexico will open stadium gates for the event, the first to expand from 32 to 48 teams. Of the 80 games over 34 days, expect 60 to take place in the U.S. and 10 each in Canada and Mexico. All the quarterfinals, semifinals and the championship will be played in the U.S., but the group stages will mix all three countries and Canada and Mexico will each host two round-of-32 games and one round-of-16 game, as spelled out in the United 2026 bid book provided to FIFA, international soccer’s governing body.

United 2026 won out over Morocco’s bid by a 134-65 vote of FIFA members.

While Canadian and Mexican cities and venues are set, the U.S. must whittle its list of 17 venues down to 10. The bid book provides a few early answers.

FIFA’s stadium capacity requirements for the World Cup demand at least a 40,000-seat venue for the group stage and early knockout rounds, rising to 60,000 for the semifinals and 80,000 for the championship, along with the tournament’s opening game. Already, United 2026 has said it will use MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., expandable to 87,157, for the championship. While United 2026 expects opening-day matches in all three countries, it will kick off the entire tournament either in the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif., or Estadio Azteca in Mexico City. The two semifinal games will likely take place in AT&T Stadium in Dallas and Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, according to the bid book.

Having nearly 100 percent of the venue infrastructure in place proved a benefit to the bid, with only some minor updating and an expansion at Toronto’s BMO Field on the construction docket.

In Canada, Edmonton’s Commonwealth Stadium (56,418 capacity, according to the bid book), Montreal’s Olympic Stadium (55,822) and Toronto’s BMO Field (30,000 now, with plans to expand to 45,500) will host. Canada will become the fifth nation to hold both a men’s and women’s World Cup, following its hosting of the 2015 Women’s World Cup.

Mexico offers up Guadalajara’s Estadio Akron (48,071), Mexico City’s Estadio Azteca (87,523) and Monterrey’s Estadio BBVA Bancomer (53,460), which opened in 2015. This will be the third time Mexico has hosted the World Cup, and Azteca is already the first stadium to ever host two World Cup Finals (1970 and 1986).

The distance between Edmonton and Mexico City is nearly 3,000 miles, making it unlikely that teams will play in all three countries. The bid book notes plans for regional clusters for group games due to the four time zones and many miles of travel. It lays out expectations of a west-to-east flow for the knockout rounds, as seen with semifinals in Dallas and Atlanta and the final in New Jersey.

Even still, not all decisions come final in the U.S., the sixth country to host twice. Already the bids of 12 U.S. or Canadian stadium bids were cut or voluntarily pulled from consideration and nine others submitted bids that didn’t make it into the first round of consideration. That leaves 17 U.S. cities and venues still in the running for the final 10 slots.

Expect locks from MetLife, Mercedes-Benz, AT&T Stadium and the Rose Bowl. From there 13 venues vie for the final six slots.

In 1994, nine cities hosted games —the New York/New Jersey area, the Bay Area, Dallas, Boston, Orlando, Los Angeles, Chicago, Detroit and Washington, D.C. — and pulled in the highest average attendance in tournament history: 68,626. Of those nine cities, only Chicago and Detroit aren’t on the final list of 17, and two of the 1994 venues, the Rose Bowl and Citrus Bowl (now Camping World Stadium) in Orlando have made the final list, offering two chances for repeat as hosts 32 years later.

Camping World Stadium could benefit from its World Cup history, but will face competition from Hard Rock Stadium near Miami. Seattle’s CenturyLink Field represents the only Pacific Northwest stadium in play, after Vancouver’s BC Place dropped out of the running, leaving an entire market ripe for ticketing in a major North American soccer hotbed. Atlanta’s new Mercedes-Benz Stadium was always a favorite due to its ability to successfully host MLS soccer in a new NFL-size venue, coupled with its high concentration of population.. The expectation of a semifinal match solidifies its position.

With MetLife a certainty, Baltimore’s M&T Bank Stadium, the Boston area’s Gillette Stadium, Philadelphia’s Lincoln Financial Field, FedEx Field near Washington, D.C., and Cincinnati’s Paul Brown Stadium will vie against each other for slots limited so as not to oversaturate one region of the country.

Expect Kansas City’s Arrowhead Stadium, with the success of nearby Sporting KC of the MLS, to attract plenty of attention in what could come down to a runoff against Denver’s Sports Authority Field at Mile High and Nashville’s Nissan Stadium for coverage of that area of the country. Santa Clara’s Levi’s Stadium attempts to add a second California location and NRG Stadium in Houston may have a tough road in grabbing a second venue for Texas, unless the bid committee deems multiple locations close together — and closer to Mexico — a benefit for travel.

A list of the U.S. venues still in the running to host with the capacity as listed in the bid book:
• Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta, 75,000
• M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore, 70,976
• Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, Mass., 70,000
• Paul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati, 67,402
• AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas, 92,967
• Sports Authority Field at Mile High, Denver, 77,595
• NRG Stadium, Houston, 72,220
• Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City, 76,640
• Rose Bowl, Pasadena, Calif., 88,432
• Hard Rock Stadium, Miami Gardens, Fla., 67,518
• Nissan Stadium, Nashville, 69,722
• MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, N.J., 87,157
• Camping World Stadium, Orlando, 65,000
• Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia, 69,328
• Levi’s Stadium, Santa Clara, Calif., 70,909
• CenturyLink Field, Seattle, 69,000
• FedEx Field, Landover, Md., 70,659

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Venues Calling On Kallpod
Posted: 13 Jun 2018, 8:00 pm

Kallpod's devices are now in Live Nation and Aramark venues. (John Tsiavis)

Kallpod’s simple-to-use three-button server-summoning devices are now in more than 50 Live Nation amphitheaters and in club level and box seating areas at many of the sports venues that Aramark serves.

“We’ve all had the same experience,” said Kallpod’s co-founder and chief operating officer, Steven Barlow, who formerly covered the restaurant space as a Merrill Lynch analyst. “We’re at a concert or a sporting event and want something to eat or drink but don’t want to miss the show and go out and stand in a long line.”

“Waiting for a server to show up can also be really annoying,” he said. “Everyone can relate to not wanting to wait, and many venues miss a huge opportunity by making guests either go line up for another round or wait and flag down the server.”

While simply maddening for many guests, Barlow and partner Gabriel Weisz saw an opportunity. The pair founded Kallpod in 2014 to fill the gap in communication between hospitality service staff and the customer.

“I have a good understanding of how challenging it is to run a food and beverage operation from a service perspective,” Barlow said. “Many businesses lose a great deal of business from guests who want to order more product but have a hard time doing it.”

Kallpod’s customizable platform improves labor costs and increases sales through streamlined, real-time communication between guests, service staff and internal teams, he said.

“We’re currently in over 600 venues,” Barlow said. “Half of our business is the hotel side; the other piece is stadiums, amphitheaters and convention centers.”

Kallpod’s hotel customers include well-known names such as Marriott, Hilton, Hyatt, Four Seasons, Fairmont and MGM Resorts International. Lobbies and cabanas are some of the areas in the hotels where Kallpod’s devices have been most effective. Now their venue business is growing rapidly, Barlow said.

Live Nation signed up for service in late 2017 after its food and beverage director, Brian Hart, saw Kallpod’s at the tables in a Hilton hotel restaurant in San Diego, Barlow said. Aramark became a partner earlier this year. 

Aramark venues where Kallpod devices are in use include Tampa’s Raymond James Stadium and Florida Aquarium, Kansas City’s Kauffman Stadium and the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia.

The devices are simple, with only three buttons on the current device.

“The devices are customizable,” Barlow said. “Most customers want a ‘call server’ button, an ‘another round’ button and a ‘check, please’ button.”

Also customizable is the shape, style, and even whether the device is made from glass, wood, marble or another material. “We can tailor the devices any way the customer wants,” he said. “We provide the solution from programming to custom configuration. We also provide ongoing support. It’s an all-encompassing service solution.”

Kallpod’s business model is also simple: The company contracts with a venue for multiple years and there’s a monthly service fee, determined by the amount of equipment brought in and the sophistication of the programming.

Plans are underway for a second-generation platform, to be launched in the third or fourth quarter.

“The current model runs off of radio waves, and the new model will run off Wi-Fi,”
Barlow said. “The new device will also have expanded capabilities like enhanced metrics and tracking and mobile ordering.”



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Posted: 13 Jun 2018, 7:00 pm

Gaming Nation officials are prepared to expand the firm’s in-stadium betting system to the U.S. after the Supreme Court’s recent ruling cleared the way for individual states to legislate betting at sports facilities.

Last month, the court ruled that the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act was unconstitutional, creating a whole new world for programming U.S. sports venues with gaming components.

For Gaming Nation, a Toronto firm that runs 50-50 raffles at about 80 North American sports facilities, it’s a huge opportunity to expand its betting piece as the situation unfolds over time.

In addition to charitable raffles, Gaming Nation runs sports betting windows at 37 stadiums across the United Kingdom, covering most Premier League soccer teams, said Scott Secord, Gaming Nation’s president and CEO. Those clients include Manchester United, Manchester City, Liverpool, Arsenal, Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur, Everton, Norwich City, Newcastle United and Sunderland.

In March 2017, Gaming Nation, formerly known as Pointstreak Sports Technologies, acquired BD Sport Group, which was founded in 2007 to supply sports betting services for U.K. soccer teams. BD Sport Group processes more than 3 million bets a season from football and rugby fans, and the average in-stadium wager has been about $25, Secord said.

“We act as the book in the process and use all of our proprietary technology to facilitate the bets in-stadium,” Secord said. “It’s our staff that mans the windows and kiosks and we have mobile bet takers throughout the stadium. We work with the clubs directly.”

For its raffle business in the U.S., Gaming Nation has 50-50 raffles established with both big league teams and colleges. Those clients donate half the money generated from raffles to charitable groups with ties to the teams and schools. The other half goes to the person holding the winning ticket. The next step is adding sports betting, pending local legislation.

“We bought (BD Sport Group) with the expectation and the hope that sports wagering would become legalized in North America,” Secord said. “We’re in good position to transfer our operation and technology and offer it to teams over here as well.”

To date, Gaming Nation’s roster for its 5050 Central system includes the the NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles, Pittsburgh Steelers and Arizona Cardinals; Major League Baseball’s Chicago Cubs, Los Angeles Dodgers and Boston Red Sox; the NBA’s Golden State Warriors; and Major League Soccer’s Philadelphia Union.

In the college space, Oregon, Maryland, North Dakota State and Southern Miss are among the schools using 5050 Central. Gaming Nation has deals with about 35 schools and agreements pending with 16 more institutions for the coming football season, Secord said.

“A lot of that has to do with the media rights holders, IMG and Learfield,” he said. “We’re doing more with them in conjunction with the schools. It’s a big growth opportunity.”

Over the past year, Gaming Nation introduced 50-50 raffles with its U.K. teams already running in-stadium wagering. To date, it has not affected the betting piece, Secord said.

“It’s a different purchase, a different mindset,” he said. “One is more the support of charity. If they win, great. On the sports betting side, being able to lay a wager on the game is more a fan experience than anything else. There’s a little more excitement on the outcome.”

The situation is similar to when the old Pointstreak first started gaining momentum with automated 50-50 raffles in the big leagues. There were some fears over whether it would hurt concessions sales if fans decided to buy raffle tickets over food and drink.

“Ultimately, it had the opposite effect,” Secord said. “Concessions went up as teams put in the 50-50 because the fans were more engaged as they saw the pot go up. They got up to buy their raffle tickets and ended up buying another beer or a hot dog. Or, they stayed later to see who won the raffle when some would typically leave earlier if there was a blowout.”

Domestically, big league teams have their eye on tapping into an industry that generates $150 billion annually from sports fans placing illegal bets, according to the American Gaming Association.

Many teams are halfway there. They have casinos sponsoring premium spaces such as Mystic Lake Club Purple at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, the San Manuel Club at Staples Center in Los Angeles and the MGM Grand Tunnel Club at Ford Field in Detroit. In South Florida, Hard Rock International, whose name is on the casino owned by the Seminole Tribe down the road in Hollywood, Fla., holds naming rights for the Miami Dolphins’ stadium. In those deals, the activation in-venue revolves around hospitality and branding and does not extend to the gaming business.

But that could change in the future as the situation continues to unfold after the Supreme Court’s ruling. For teams, the next step is to add the gaming aspect to the game-day experience in those branded clubs. In Minnesota, Club Purple serves as the fantasy football lounge for Vikings fans. Those fantasy lounges are a natural fit for inserting more gambling elements, sports architect Dan Meis said.

Meis is designing a new soccer stadium for Everton F.C., a Gaming Nation client. Meis feels the time is coming for the integration of sports betting in U.S. stadiums.

“It’s an integral part of the experience in the U.K. and elsewhere in the world,” he said. “I could imagine sportsbook clubs very much like we see common to Las Vegas gaming resorts make their way into venues.”

On their own, officials with sports architect Rossetti, which also does work for casinos, are poised for the crossover. Before the ruling, Rossetti heard from teams calling the firm to see how they could convert premium areas to gaming spaces, said Matt Rossetti, the firm’s president.

In Detroit, the Greektown Casino-Hotel has been a Rossetti client over the past decade, and the firm’s work includes redesigning the “high roller room” and a food hall with new dining concepts. The casino, to be rebranded as Jack Detroit Casino-Hotel later this year, is owned by Jack Entertainment, a gaming company owned by Dan Gilbert, owner of the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers. Detroit-based Jack Entertainment also owns casinos in Cleveland, Cincinnati and Baltimore.

The Cavaliers hired Rossetti to design a refresh of premium areas as part of a $140 million renovation of Quicken Loans Arena, to be completed in 2019. The team said there had been no talk of Jack Entertainment’s casino properties getting a presence in the building as part of the upgrades. Gilbert’s Cleveland casino is a few blocks from the arena.

To this point, gambling in Ohio is restricted to table games and slot machines since the opening of the state’s first casino in 2012. Additional legislation would be required to legalize sports betting in Ohio, the Cleveland Plain-Dealer reported.

For Rossetti, it would be a seamless transition, said Kelly Deines, the firm’s creative director.

“Our knowledge of gaming environments can easily translate into an arena/stadium environment,” Deines said.

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Posted: 13 Jun 2018, 7:00 pm

Acting as an owner’s representative can be a rough business. Sports teams hire those specialists to keep the design and construction of their massive projects on time and on budget, and that sometimes means butting heads with architects, builders and consultants.

Over the past 30 years, nobody has been more successful at it than Tim Romani, co-founder of Icon Venue Group, who sold his company to CAA Sports two years ago. The firm rebranded as CAA Icon after the sale with Romani in charge as CEO.

Owner’s reps such as Romani play a critical role in sports. They guide the project from start to finish, beginning with the initial vision for the facility and forming a budget, and continuing through the process of design and construction to completion.

Romani is considered by those he has worked for to be the best at what he does in a space with few major players, dating to New Comiskey Park, his first project, which opened for the Chicago White Sox in 1991. And now, Icon has the weight of sports business powerhouse CAA Sports’ brand behind its business.

So far, it’s paid off pretty well. Since the merger was completed in March 2016, CAA Icon has captured more than a half-dozen projects. Some have especially high profiles, such as the Raiders’ new NFL stadium in Las Vegas, a $2 billion project, and Chase Center, the Golden State Warriors’ $1 billion development that extends to a pair of office towers going up next to the San Francisco arena. Overseas, CAA Icon is owner’s rep for Stadio della Roma, AS Roma’s $400 million stadium project themed in part on the Colosseum.

“We were at a pretty strong growth cycle even before we did the CAA transaction, but for sure, the merger had an accelerating effect on our business,” Romani said.

For those three projects, CAA Icon got its foot in the door because of the relationships CAA Sports already had with those respective properties through marketing deals.

“But all of that is just establishing channels of communication,” he said. “These clients are astute. They hire us because we’re able to prove a high level of value to help deliver their projects.”

On its own, CAA Sports provides property sales, licensing and media rights advisory services, plus consulting on team mergers and acquisitions and corporate financing. Most recently, CAA Sports became one of three partners in forming Elevate Sports Ventures, an agency specializing in selling PSLs, premium seats and corporate hospitality. 

Many of those services fit the needs of CAA Icon’s clients as they develop sports facilities, and it’s largely what drove CAA Sports to buy Icon Venue Group, said Mike Levine, co-head of CAA Sports.

“We were reaching a point where there was only so much more that we had to offer,” Levine said.

“We had a lot of team owners that we were friendly with, but there just weren’t that many ways in which CAA Sports could be engaged,” he said. “Here was an opportunity for us to put some of those relationships to work, because there’s no team that doesn’t have a venue … and at some point, they’re in need of some of these services. It was an interesting match in that regard.”

Looking back, the deal was a smart one for both CAA Sports and Icon Venue Group, said Oak View Group CEO Tim Leiweke. He considers the two companies best-in-class. The field of owner’s reps alone includes competitors Legends Global Development, PC Sports, Brailsford & Dunlavey and one-man shops such as Jack Hill and John Stranix. (OVG owns VenuesNow magazine).

Leiweke has known Romani for 25 years, and they’ve completed 11 projects together, starting with Pepsi Center in Denver, which opened in 1999. Leiweke considered acquiring Icon Venue Group soon after launching Oak View Group in the fall of 2015, but the company was still in its infancy and Leiweke took a pass because he thought it was too soon to make that kind of acquisition.

Their relationship remained intact. Oak View Group hired CAA Icon as owner’s rep for the redevelopment of Seattle’s KeyArena, where OVG intends to put an NHL team, and Romani’s group is competing for additional services for the New York Islanders’ arena at Belmont Park, another OVG project, after completing a design review of the project.

Romani’s crew, which includes CAA Icon President and CEO Art Aaron and executive vice presidents Marc Farha and Charlie Thornton, has a sharp eye in working with designers to reshape the fan experience and generate revenue through technology and new premium spaces, Leiweke said. As a result, they have played a key role for changing the way sports venues are developed.

“This is a business that isn’t going away,” Leiweke said. “It’s not just about getting these things designed and built. It’s about thinking 10 to 20 years ahead and where does this industry go? We sense within them a like mind and drive and energy to go find new ideas of entertaining the customer.”

In addition, many team owners aren’t developers but rather high-net-worth individuals who have never supervised construction and are embarking on a project valued in the several hundred millions of dollars. Romani’s experience is critical for helping them navigate through a complex process, said sports architect Dan Meis, who is designing the AS Roma stadium.

Owner’s reps have taken on even greater responsibility in recent years, as their oversight extends to mixed-use projects that more teams are creating to generate revenue outside the sports facility. CAA Icon’s work has touched the rebirth of downtown Edmonton tied to Rogers Place, the NHL Oilers’ arena; the 1060 Project at and around Wrigley Field; and the entertainment district across the street from the Milwaukee Bucks’ new arena, which opens late this summer.

“Tim has done a good job of adapting … to those types of new issues that arise through the real estate side,” said Ray Baker, chairman of the Metropolitan Football Stadium District in Denver. That public entity worked with Icon Venue Group to open Sports Authority Field at Mile High, home of the NFL’s Denver Broncos, in 2001.

For CAA Sports, buying Romani’s firm was just the beginning of a growth spurt. In October, CAA Sports purchased Barrett Sports Group, a California firm specializing in market research, feasibility studies and financial planning, all of which occur on the front end of facility development before Romani’s group takes the reins for managing design and construction. Barrett’s group competes against Brailsford & Dunlavey, Inner Circle and Legends’ CSL International, as well as investment banks.

It was Romani who advised CAA Sports to acquire Barrett Sports Group after Icon Venue Group became part of the CAA family. At that time, Romani sat down with Levine and fellow CAA Sports co-head Howie Nuchow to discuss ways to further expand business.

Dan Barrett founded Barrett Sports Group in 2000, and in the midst of his more than 1,000 sports projects over the years, there were many times he sat across from Romani at the bargaining table. Barrett often represented public entities, while Romani worked for the teams. They knew each other well, which made it easier for CAA Sports to acquire Barrett Sports Group.

“The time was right and the fit was right,” Barrett said. “We’ve certainly butted heads in the past, but there’s always been a mutual respect between us.”

One project on which they both worked was Golden 1 Center, the arena that the NBA’s Sacramento Kings moved into in fall 2016. The Kings hired Icon Venue Group and Barrett’s firm represented the city of Sacramento. Sports executive Chris Granger, now with Ilitch Holdings in Detroit, was president of the Kings during that period and had an insider’s view of both men at work as they hammered out a deal that ultimately kept the team from leaving Sacramento.

On the city side, Barrett was a tough but fair negotiator and he helped get a better deal for everybody involved to pay for the $560 million venue, Granger said. For the team, Icon’s command of the space enabled project officials to identify potential construction issues before they occurred, which made them a trusted partner in the process.

“You’re talking about combining two of the very the best in the business at what they do,” Granger said. “Kudos to CAA for bringing everybody together. It continues to show CAA’s commitment to the venue space from a sales, research and construction management standpoint.”

There will undoubtedly be circumstances where Romani and Barrett sit across the table again, representing competing interests, although it hasn’t happened to this point, Romani said. There could also be more situations where they both work for the same client. Considering they’re now part of the same firm, it becomes a disclosure issue to make sure both sides are comfortable with the situation, he said.

There are other several other areas of business in facility development that CAA Icon thinks are underserved and wants to get into, some through potential acquisitions. Romani declined to identify them at this time because he doesn’t want to telegraph their strategies. but he promises the firm will be aggressive in growing its overall business.

“I’ve been an entrepreneur for most of my professional life,” Romani said. “Now, I’m part of the CAA team, which encourages me to be entrepreneurial. I’ve never had more fun in my career than what I’m doing right now.”


Tim Romani was in Rome on business when his cell phone rang at 1 a.m.

It was July 2015, and Howie Nuchow, co-head of CAA Sports, was calling to tell Romani that CAA Sports wanted to discuss acquiring Icon Venue Group. The two met after Romani returned to the U.S. and things progressed quickly from there toward a merger that was completed the following spring, Romani said.

Romani initially had no intention of selling his company. In 2012, Romani bought the 50 percent share in Icon Venue Group held by Philip Anschutz, the billionaire owner of AEG, and he was content for Icon to remain an independent entity.

Icon Venue Group had completed the five projects Anschutz wanted to build. Those five buildings — MLS stadiums Toyota Park and Red Bull Arena, plus Sprint Center and the O2 arenas in London and Berlin — were all projects where AEG managed or had an investment stake.

“When I brought the company under my full control, it was my plan to own it independently forever,” Romani said.

And that remained the plan after Romani first met with Nuchow six months before that overseas call. At the time of that visit, in early 2015 at CAA Sports’ headquarters in Los Angeles, Romani had reached out to simply catch up with Nuchow. They knew each other from Nuchow’s days with Mandalay Sports. At the end of the meeting Nuchow popped a question: Had Romani thought of selling Icon Venue Group and being part of CAA Sports? Romani brushed him off, saying he didn’t intend to sell his business.

That all changed over the course of 2015. As negotiations got serious and an offer was made around the Thanksgiving holiday, Mike Levine entered the picture. Levine, who shares CAA Sports co-head duties with Nuchow, took the lead on the transaction. Levine knew of Romani’s strong reputation in sports business and they had mutual friends, but they had not spent much one-on-one time together.

“It was a getting-comfortable process for both him and us to get to a place where he felt it was a match that worked for him and his entire team, and one that we felt comfortable with as well,” Levine said.

Romani said he changed his mind about selling Icon Venue Group, in part because of the high esteem in which he held CAA Sports officials, as well as to take care of his 60 employees long term.

“I was still carrying the company on my own personal balance sheet, which I never had any hesitation about,” he said. “But it was a better opportunity for the employees of Icon Venue Group to have a strategic partnership like somebody with CAA and give us a much stronger, more stable platform to grow even further.”   — Don Muret

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A New Home For Austin Soccer?
Posted: 13 Jun 2018, 7:00 pm

A rendering by design firm Gensler shows the soccer stadium proposed for Austin, Texas.  (Courtesy Precourt Sports Ventures)

Take a look at renderings of a potential new home for Major League Soccer’s Columbus Crew in Austin, Texas, and you’ll see a canopy roof, open corners and … Wrigley Field?

Crew owners Precourt Sports Ventures released the drawings ahead of a recent proposal to the Austin City Council as part of the negotiating process for using a 24-acre city-owned parcel as a site for the 20,000-seat stadium. If a deal is struck by the middle of August, the team would play the 2019 and 2020 seasons at a temporary facility in Austin – most likely the Myers Field soccer stadium at the University of Texas – while beginning construction on the stadium. Completion would be scheduled in time for the 2021 season.

The drawings from architecture firm Gensler show an open-air stadium with a canopy and open corners to promote breezes and natural cooling from Texas summer heat. Gensler has designed MLS stadiums BMO Field in Toronto and Banc of California Stadium in Los Angeles.

Jonathan Emmett, sports design director for Gensler, said the Austin stadium would feature standing-room supporter areas that have become a popular feature of recent MLS stadiums, including Orlando City Stadium. Club-level access to players is another likely feature of the finished product.

Full design work is expected to begin on the interior of the stadium once a land-use agreement with the city is complete.

“It's so easy to stay at home and watch the game that we want to provide every opportunity to be a part of the experience,” he said. “How do we create experiences where people feel connected? We incorporated supporter areas in L.A. and Orlando, and we've seen supporter groups coming to the forefront across the sports world.”

Emmett said the Austin site will be compact and feature outdoor parks and an event/performance area for concerts and other gatherings, playing off of the city’s love of live music and its expansive public parks system.

The stadium’s small footprint will bring a steep and stacked seating arrangement for the stadium, which Emmett said will mimic the feeling of classic baseball and European soccer facilities.

“When you talk about Wrigley or Fenway, those are iconic because of how the fans are seated since the fans are right on top of everything,” he said. “What that provides in terms of energy for the fanbase can become an iconic and defining feature. More and more, we're trying to put the fans on top of the action, which creates a great atmosphere for the players as well and can provide a real home-field advantage with the energy you get from the fans.”

The possible move of the Crew is surrounded by questions, including a legal challenge from the city of Columbus and state of Ohio, which passed the so-called Modell Law after the sudden departure of the NFL’s Cleveland Browns to Baltimore in 1996 as a move to prevent sports teams from relocating if they used public facilities.

Also, Austin residents and some city leaders have taken a dim view of Precourt Sports Ventures’ proposal, which would have them privately finance the estimated $200 million facility and lease the city land for $1 a year after donating the field to the city, a move that is seen as a way for the team to avoid annual property tax payments.

Still, recent surveys show support for what would be the first professional franchise in one of the fastest-growing areas in the nation. The city’s demographics and proximity to MLS clubs in Dallas and Houston – and recent expansion candidate San Antonio – for potential rivalries have the ownership group bullish on Austin’s potential.

“Of all the major league sports, soccer fits well here with the way it's growing and the millennial fans it's attracting,” said Dan Vaillant, senior vice president of sports consultants CAA Icon and project lead on the relocation bid. “Plus the popularity of European soccer here is incredible, and we're going to build on that.”

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Posted: 13 Jun 2018, 7:00 pm

Next year’s edition will bring a new twist to the Miami Open at Hard Rock Stadium, the first time the NFL facility has played host to pro tennis.

For the Miami Dolphins, whose owner Stephen Ross spearheaded the move from Key Biscayne to Miami Gardens and is funding the $60 million retrofit, it’s an opportunity for the team to showcase the newest generation of portable suite products inside the facility.

Seating Solutions, a New Jersey firm that supplies portable seating for large events such as the Super Bowl and Final Four, is developing a premium superstructure for the Miami Open in conjunction with Rossetti, the Detroit architect designing the stadium retrofit for tennis.

The vendor has constructed portable suites for other events, but this upgraded structure for the Miami Open takes the concept to a much higher level with concourse space and catering service across three levels, according to Scott Suprina, president of Seating Solutions.

“Most rentals are a scaffold-style frame, so you don’t have room to operate underneath the structure,” Suprina said. “With this new design, there are clear spaces underneath. It’s a new modular I-beam system we’ve created. It’s a pretty innovative design.”

As of late May, Seating Solutions was building a prototype at its warehouse in Landrum, S.C., to give the Dolphins a better idea of what it looks like and give them the confidence it can work for the Miami Open, Suprina said. At that time, project officials were still tweaking the renderings and no images were made available of the structure.

Rossetti President Matt Rossetti did his best to paint a mental picture of the upgraded portable suite. The suite interiors feature a tropical scene themed for South Beach pool cabanas, complete with canvas drapery and wood flooring, beams and cabinetry, he said.

“They’re totally tricked out like any high-end suite you’ve been in before,” Rossetti said. “It’s going to feel rich and elegant and very high end. The fact that these things are prefab and pop in and out is to me what makes it so interesting.”

Ross has been personally involved in the project and wants to make sure every little detail is world class for the event, including the portable suite design, said Todd Boyan, the Dolphins’ senior vice president of stadium operations.

“Part of the strategy is to make the seating structure as quick and efficiently installed as possible, as well as minimize the time it takes to tear it down and still have them be high-end materials with high-quality finishes,” Boyan said.

The product has the potential to usher in a new wave of rental business for NFL stadiums, Suprina said.

“It’s designed specifically for this event, but if it works the way we intend it to work, the market for that type of structure, whether the owner wants to play tennis or basketball or anything else, is huge,” he said.

The Dolphins plan to install 13 portable suites as part of cutting the stadium down to 14,000 seats for the main court. Each suite accommodates 24 patrons. The team is selling them for $100,000 to $300,000 for the two-week event. IMG owns the Miami Open.

A portion of those sales are renewals from buyers of the 27 suites at Crandon Park, which played host to the tournament for 24 years.

Separately, 29 permanent suites will be sold for the event across three levels on the southwest side. It’s the only piece of the existing bowl open to the event. Rossetti designed a C-shaped temporary stadium at a 45-degree angle that wraps around the bowl and sits on the field.

As a result of the angle of the stadium court, most of the portable suites will be installed along the northeast side. Others will be on the northwest side, at the end of the court, said Mike Shea, Rossetti’s project manager.

To create an intimate setting in the stadium, Rossetti designed a backdrop with images of confetti exploding into the air compared with a typical black curtain to block seats. The idea was to form a visual effect to catch the eye without looking out toward the entire stadium.

“We’re not trying to fool anybody,” Rossetti said. “It’s an honest, celebratory way of creating intimacy.”

Hard Rock Stadium is just one piece of the Miami Open. In parking lots closest to the facility, 29 permanent courts will be constructed, connected to large plazas and fountains with olive grove dining spaces. Practice courts are also part of the mix.

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Small Arenas Fill Colleges' Needs
Posted: 13 Jun 2018, 5:00 pm

Views of Iowa Arena, scheduled to open late next year in Coralville, near Iowa City. (JLG Architects)

Editor's Note: This story has been updated since it was originally posted.

A small arena under construction in eastern Iowa could signal a trend for major colleges in search of new facilities for nonrevenue sports, supported financially by mixed-use projects.

The Iowa Arena, a 5,100-seat facility in Coralville, sits about two miles from the University of Iowa campus in Iowa City. It’s part of a $190 million mixed-use development covering a Staybridge Suites hotel, retail, restaurants, condominiums and an athletic performance center attached to the arena.

The arena is targeted to open late next year. Under the financial model, which includes a mix of public and private funding and tax credits, the $40 million arena piece will essentially be paid for over time by revenue tied to the surrounding development, officials with Johnson Consulting said.

The Chicago firm completed a peer review of the project and its potential economic impact. Stafford Sports was hired after an initial study by CSL, the original consultant hired by the city of Coralville, which is heading the development through ArenaCo. Stafford has been retained by ArenaCo as the owner's rep for the project. University of Iowa women’s volleyball and men’s ice hockey plus amateur wrestling will be part of the event mix.

A similar situation is unfolding at another Big Ten Conference school, the University of Illinois, said Brandon Dowling, Johnson Consulting’s director of sports and entertainment. In Champaign, there are two proposals — one downtown and one on campus —  to build a 5,000-seat arena for multiple women’s sports and, potentially, men’s hockey. Earlier this month, Illinois Athletic Director Josh Whitman said he hopes to greenlight a Division I men’s hockey program by the end of the year, according to local reports.

Both sites include mixed-use elements to support arena events, Dowling said. Last year, Johnson Consulting advised a developer tied to the on-campus plan, which calls for an arena to be built south of State Farm Center, home to the school’s basketball programs. No decision has been made on the new arena site, and no details are available regarding financing or construction for the proposals.

The Iowa Arena was the final piece of the puzzle for overall development. It’s part of Coralville’s master plan for growth, which dates to the late 1990s but was stalled in part after a massive flood devastated the region in 2008, said Joshua Schamberger, president of the convention and visitors bureau.

Iowa has committed to playing women’s volleyball games at the arena. It’s part of Athletic Director Gary Barta’s strategy to upgrade the program and free up space for sports competing for space at on-campus facilities. Women’s volleyball now plays home games at 15,000-seat Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Top attendance for the 2017 season was 4,729 for a match against traditional power and Big Ten rival Nebraska on Oct. 7.

At one point over the past few years, Iowa looked at adding Division I men’s hockey, according to published reports, but Barta determined it was cost-prohibitive to start a program. As it stands, hockey is a strong club sport at Iowa, and the club plans to move home games from a single ice sheet at a local mall to the new arena. Logistically, opponents could include Iowa State, Illinois State and Missouri State, all of which play club hockey, Schamberger said.

Separately, Iowa Arena officials are in discussions with the U.S. Hockey League and the ECHL about potentially signing a deal for a minor league hockey tenant in the building. Spectra will run the arena and is part of those negotiations, said Brian Hixenbaugh, the venue’s general manager.

There is already a USHL team in Cedar Rapids, situated 25 miles north of Iowa City, as well as in Dubuque, which sits about 85 miles north. Despite the proximity of those teams, league officials are bullish about putting a second team in the Cedar Rapids-Iowa City market, which they feel would cut down on travel expenses.

“They feel it’s not competition, but supplemental,” Schamberger said.

Iowa Arena officials will also compete for amateur wrestling events in a hotbed for the sport. The new facility will have an edge over Carver-Hawkeye Arena, which has never been able to book international wrestling events over the summer months because the seating bowl is not air conditioned, Schamberger said.

The 53,000-square-foot athletic performance center, a partnership with University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, adds flexibility for the arena to book Olympic sports events.

“It’s designed to be one complete sports facility and another home for the Hawkeyes,” Schamberger said. “That’s why it was designed in black and gold colors. Olympic sports will help make the facility a great venue for all events.”

The arena's seated capacity for concerts will be 6,800.

Officials are seeking a 10- to 20-year naming-rights deal valued at $400,000 annually. They’re negotiating with a company, though it's not known what category the business is in.

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Yuengling Goes To College
Posted: 13 Jun 2018, 3:00 pm

A rendering shows the Yuengling name on what has been known as the USF Sun Dome. (Courtesy Tampa Bay Entertainment Properties)

The University of South Florida has served alcohol in its arena for roughly two decades, so it wasn’t a stretch when the university announced a 10-year naming-rights deal for the USF Sun Dome in Tampa to become the Yuengling Center on July 1. Financial details of the agreement were not disclosed.

Brokered by arena operator Tampa Bay Entertainment Properties, the agreement between the university and Pennsylvania-based D.G. Yuengling & Son, Inc., touted as America’s oldest brewery, includes the naming of the center and signs in Raymond James Stadium for home USF football games and at baseball and softball games, along with a host of ticket and hospitality packages for sporting events. The company has a brewery in Tampa.

The deal comes with an agreement on social responsibility regarding alcohol consumption that will bring new and enhanced programs to campus.

The on-campus facility taking the name of a brewer doesn’t come as a first—the University of Colorado’s Coors Event Center, an 11,000-seat arena in Boulder, has partnered with Coors since the 1990s—but it offers what’s still a nontraditional take on naming rights in college sports as some universities wrestle with how to handle alcohol at sporting events.

Brian Siegrist, USF associate athletic director, wrote in an email that the school views D.G. Yuengling & Son as a “unique and very strong community partner and not just a brewery.” USF has served Yuengling in the Sun Dome for more than a year, and with the Tampa brewery within blocks of the campus, “they have demonstrated commitment to being a strong partner in the community and a desire to build on that to become even more so, thus we felt this was a good fit.”

Tampa Bay Entertainment Properties plans to implement new initiatives with USF prior to the start of the new school year, including support of a campuswide Lyft partnership expanded by Yuengling financial backing; support for alcohol-free student events designed to welcome students to campus the first 50 days of the school year; enhancement by Yuengling of campus programming during National Collegiate Alcohol Awareness Week; in-venue signs and activations around social responsibility; engagement and financial support of student organizations that can further these causes; and a new designated driver program at athletic events and concerts, based at kiosks at gates A and D of the center.

“In Tampa Bay and across the country, the Yuengling family is known for its commitment to the community,” said USF System President Judy Genshaft in a statement. “We are grateful to have such a well-known and reputable family associated with USF. We especially appreciate the efforts to promote corporate and social responsibility as part of this new affiliation.”

The Sun Dome has served alcohol for 20 years. Alcohol is also served at Raymond James Stadium, the home of the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers, for USF football games.

The effort to sign a naming-rights sponsor was one of the first orders of business taken on by Tampa Bay Entertainment Properties, formed by Tampa Bay Lightning owner and Amalie Arena leasehold rights holder Jeff Vinik, when the organization partnered with USF in July.

“Upon assuming management of the Sun Dome and the multimedia rights for USF Athletics, we identified the joint priority of selling naming rights to arena,” said Steve Griggs, chief executive officer for Tampa Bay Sports & Entertainment, in a statement. The company is the parent of Tampa Bay Entertainment Properties.

“We pledged to the university that we would identify a reputable company with solid leadership and a strong local presence, one that USF would be proud to call a sponsor,” he said.

References to Sun Dome, the arena’s name since it opened in 1980, will be replaced with Yuengling Center, in and on the facility, on campus and on all local signs. A new Yuengling Center logo is being created, and a script font will adorn the outside of the facility.

Siegrist said they aim to have easily transferrable elements updated by early July and the larger exterior signage in place by the start of the fall semester.

The site is home to USF men’s and women’s basketball teams and the USF volleyball team. The 55,000-square-foot multipurpose facility includes a 10,500-seat arena and has had $43 million in renovations since 2000, including replacement of the original Teflon inflatable roof with a permanent structure.

Yuengling is available in 22 states, and two breweries in Pottsville, Pa., and the third in Tampa, in operation since 1999, support production of Yuengling Traditional Lager and a host of other beers. 

“We are very excited to extend our presence in the Tampa community to include the partnership with USF and the Yuengling Center,” Jen Yuengling of D.G. Yuengling & Son Inc. said in a statement. “Beyond naming rights, we’ll continue to support the greater Tampa community and on the campus of USF with the popular Handshake Internship Program, a scholarship for a veteran to attend USF’s Brewery Arts Program, and upcoming social responsibility initiatives.”

J.J. Taylor Distributing Florida Inc., which distributes Yuengling products locally, will assume a leadership role in assuring all elements of the partnership agreement are executed, including social responsibility and community programming.

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Posted: 12 Jun 2018, 6:00 pm

Kenny Chesney performed to a sold-out crowd at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. (Jill Trunnell)

Country superstar Kenny Chesney took three spots on our Hot Tickets 15,000-plus-capacity chart this week with stops at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia grossing $6,384,845, Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta grossing $5,068,880 and Heinz Field grossing $5,104,662.  Promoter is Messina Touring Group/AEG Presents.

With a special Tony under his belt, Bruce Springsteen and his Broadway shows took three spots in our Hot Tickets capacity category of 5,000 or less, with weekly grosses of $2,406,852; $2,402,102 and $1,929,447. The Boss' run at Walter Kerr Theatre in New York City has been extended to December. Ticket range is $850-$75, and the promoter is Thrill Hill Productions

HOT TICKETS is a weekly summary of the top events ranked by gross as reported to VN Pulse via Pollstar. Following are the top 20 concerts and events, the top 5 in each capacity category, that took place May 15 – June 12.

More Than 15,000 Capacity

10,001-15,000 Capacity


5,000 or Less

1) Kenny Chesney
Gross Sales:
$6,384,845; Venue: Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia; Attendance: 55,238; Ticket Range: $254-$51; Promoter: Messina Touring Group, AEG Presents; Dates: June 9; No. of Shows: 1

2) Kenny Chesney
Gross Sales: $5,068,880; Venue: Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta; Attendance: 51,312; Ticket Range: $265-$40; Promoter: Messina Touring Group, AEG Presents; Dates: May 26; No. of Shows: 1

3) Justin Timberlake
Gross Sales: $4,898,487; Venue: American Airlines Center, Dallas; Attendance: 33,482; Ticket Range: $250-$49.50; Promoter: Live Nation Global Touring; Dates: May 27-28; No. of Shows: 2

4) Pink
Gross Sales: $4,715,554; Venue: Oracle Arena, Oakland, Calif.; Attendance: 32,596; Ticket Range: $227.50-$47.45; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: May 18-19; No. of Shows: 2

5) Kenny Chesney
Gross Sales: $5,104,662; Venue: Heinz Field, Pittsburgh; Attendance: 48,856; Ticket Range: $265.25-$44.25; Promoter: Messina Touring Group, AEG Presents; Dates: June 2; No. of Shows: 1

1) "Billboard Music Awards"
Gross Sales: $1,516,345; Venue: MGM Grand Garden Arena, Las Vegas; Attendance: 9,005; Ticket Range: $1,075-$90; Promoter: Dick Clark Productions; Dates: May 20; No. of Shows: 1

2) "My Life Every Day USA"
Gross Sales: $1,275,000; Venue: Valley View Casino Center, San Diego; Attendance: 15,000; Ticket Range: $77; Promoter: LED (My Life Every Day); Dates: May 25-26; No. of Shows: 2

3) Paul Simon
Gross Sales: $873,358; Venue: MGM Grand Garden Arena, Las Vegas; Attendance: 7,123; Ticket Range: $175-$59.50; Promoter: AEG Presents; Dates: May 27; No. of Shows: 1

4) Tim McGraw, Faith Hill
Gross Sales: $873,206; Venue: Richmond (Va.) Coliseum; Attendance: 9,489; Ticket Range: $152-$29.50; Promoter: Messina Touring Group, AEG Presents; Dates: May 31; No. of Shows: 1

5) James Taylor
Gross Sales: $835,727; Venue: Bon Secours Wellness Arena, Greenville, S.C.; Attendance: 6,320; Ticket Range: $207.45-$47.45; Promoter: Beaver Productions; Dates: May 19; No. of Shows: 1

1) Jennifer Lopez
Gross Sales: $2,369,664; Venue: Zappos Theater At Planet Hollywood, Las Vegas; Attendance: 13,073; Ticket Range: $412-$54; Promoter: Caesars Entertainment Inc., Live Nation; Dates: May 27-June 2; No. of Shows: 4

2 Jennifer Lopez
Gross Sales: $2,056,480; Venue: Zappos Theater At Planet Hollywood, Las Vegas; Attendance: 10,939; Ticket Range: $412-$54; Promoter: Caesars Entertainment Inc., Live Nation; Dates: June 6-9; No. of Shows: 3

3) Jennifer Lopez
Gross Sales: $1,797,122; Venue: Zappos Theater At Planet Hollywood, Las Vegas; Attendance: 9,422; Ticket Range: $412-$54; Promoter: Caesars Entertainment Inc., Live Nation; Dates: May 22-26; No. of Shows: 3

4) Tim McGraw, Faith Hill
Gross Sales: $1,268,897; Venue: Huntington Center, Toledo, Ohio; Attendance: 14,963; Ticket Range: $119.50-$49.50; Promoter: Messina Touring Group, AEG Presents; Dates: June 8-9; No. of Shows: 2

5) Steely Dan, Doobie Brothers
Gross Sales: $580,140; Venue: Smart Financial Centre At Sugar Land (Texas); Attendance: 5,257; Ticket Range: $199.50-$49.50; Promoter: In-house Promotion, Live Nation; Dates: May 24; No. of Shows: 1

1) "Springsteen On Broadway," Bruce Springsteen
Gross Sales: $2,406,852; Venue: Walter Kerr Theatre, New York City; Attendance: 4,729; Ticket Range: $850-$75; Promoter: Thrill Hill Productions; Dates: May 22-26; No. of Shows: 5

2) "Springsteen On Broadway," Bruce Springsteen
Gross Sales: $2,402,102; Venue: Walter Kerr Theatre, New York City; Attendance: 4,740; Ticket Range: $850-$75; Promoter: Thrill Hill Productions; Dates: June 5-9; No. of Shows: 5

3) "Springsteen On Broadway," Bruce Springsteen
Gross Sales: $1,929,447; Venue: Walter Kerr Theatre, New York City; Attendance: 3,792; Ticket Range: $850-$75; Promoter: Thrill Hill Productions; Dates: May 30 - June 2; No. of Shows: 4

4) Residente
Gross Sales: $848,831; Venue: Hiram Bithorn Stadium, San Juan, Puerto Rico; Attendance: 22,010; Ticket Range: $60-$22.50; Promoter: Move Concerts; Dates: May 19; No. of Shows: 1

5) "The King And I"
Gross Sales: $543,419; Venue: Hanover Theatre For Perf. Arts, Worcester, Mass.; Attendance: 8,574; Ticket Range: $91-$51; Promoter: In-house Promotion; Dates: May 15-20; No. of Shows: 8

The weekly Hot Tickets chart is compiled by Pollstar. For more information, email or click here to submit your Box Office data now.


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Leveston Heads To Massachusetts
Posted: 12 Jun 2018, 5:00 pm

JoyceLevenson_200x145.jpgJoyce Leveston.

Joyce Leveston  has been hired as general manager of the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority and will join the Boston organization July 16.

She will oversee the authority's overall business operations teams and contract partners at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, Hynes Convention Center and Lawn On D.

Leveston is director of convention services at Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C., where she has overseen events such as presidential inaugural balls and the Republican National Convention.

Leveston's previous stops include the San Diego Convention Center, the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston and the Miami Beach Convention Center.

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Congratulations 2018 Women of Influence!
Posted: 11 Jun 2018, 7:00 pm

Congratulations to the 2018 Venues Now Women of Influence Award recipients! We will be honoring this year's inspiring leaders during IAVM VenueConnect in Toronto, July 22-25, 2018.

These individuals have won for their newsworthy achievement and outstanding leadership. We will showcase the winners in our July issue.

Jeanie Buss, Owner, Los Angeles Lakers
In terms of influential people, there are few who can match the impact Jeanie has made on the sports and entertainment industry. As an NBA team owner, she has been an integral part of the league’s evolution into one of the best pro leagues in the world. Her many contributions at the NBA include taking a leadership role on the committee that negotiated the most recent labor deal, agreed to in late 2016, which has brought stability and ushered in a new era of labor peace and collaboration with the players. Her impact in LA is vast and well-recognized. Jeanie recently played a big role on the city’s Olympic bid committee, which successfully brought the 2028 Olympics to LA. During her career, Jeanie has been a supporter of professional sports opportunities for women as owner of the LA Strings TeamTennis franchise, the LA Sparks of the WNBA and the Women of Wrestling. She also served as general manager of the Great Western Forum. She has been recognized nationally for her impact on sports.

Donna DiBenedetto, Director of Touring, AEG Presents, New York City
Donna has been instrumental in the success of some of the biggest tours in history, including Justin Bieber, Carrie Underwood, the many years of American Idol tours, and the current multiyear farewell tour of Elton John, which has sold out every announced date as of press time. Donna has been a leader in the industry working with hundreds of venue managers across the country while confirming tour dates of all genres and capacities. Her ingenuity and leadership within AEG Presents and her track record of success make her a pioneer in today’s live event industry.

Evelyn Ingram, Vice President of Sales, EventBooking, Knoxville, Tenn.
Evelyn has served as vice president of sales for EventBooking, a venue software company, for over 14 years. In that time, she has become highly involved in the IAVM, VMA and many other venue-related associations — seeking to serve venue professionals within the industry to the best of her ability. In addition to her IAVM membership, which spans over 10 years, she also serves on the Allied Committee and Membership Committee. Evelyn is the embodiment of exemplary dedication to venue professionals. She is willing to contribute any of her wisdom or insight to the many individuals working within the 900 venues EventBooking serves, but more than that, she is keen to listen, so as to serve more efficiently and earnestly.

Dot Lischick, Broadmoor World Arena and Pikes Peak Center, Colorado Springs, Colo.
Dot was the first employee of Broadmoor World Arena, helping with design and construction of the arena where she began working in 1996. Now she is the general manager of both the World Arena and the Pikes Peak Center theater. She is making a difference for Colorado Springs, creating good memories and playing a civic role in the community, including hosting more than 20 graduations. Co-workers and cllents tend to describe her with one word: confident. She is also on the board of directors of the Chamber of Commerce in Colorado Springs and has been an officer and major force in the IAVM.

Lynda Reinhart, Director of the University of Florida’s Stephen C. O’Connell Center, Gainesville
Lynda began working at the venue, home to six NCAA Division I athletic teams, as a student in 1994, joined full time in 1998, and was named director in July 2007, recently overseeing a $65 million renovation of the facility. Lynda holds a B.S. in business administration and M.S. in recreational studies from UF. The O’Connell Center leadership development program continues to infuse the industry with young talent and future leaders. An active member of IAVM since 1997, her involvement on the Body of Knowledge Task Force was instrumental in developing a standardized facility management curriculum and college textbook. Lynda is a member of the Florida Facility Managers Association, Rotary Club of Gainesville and Gainesville Sports Commission, and previously served as FFMA board member, FFMA Scholarship Committee chair, and president of the sports commission. Lynda is currently vice president for FFMA and director for arenas on the IAVM board of directors and chair for IAVM’s Member Engagement Committee. She’s a member of the executive committee for both organizations.

Click here to learn more about Jeanie Buss, Donna DiBenedetto, Evelyn Ingram, Dot Lischick and Lynda Reinhart.

Thank you to our 2018 Women of Influence Sponsors:






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Brûlée Serving At The Met
Posted: 11 Jun 2018, 10:00 am

The Met Philly, shown in a rendering, is set to open in December. (Courtesy Brûlée Catering)

Editor's Note: This story has been updated since it was originally posted.

Live Nation has signed a multiyear deal with Brûlée Catering to provide food service for The Met Philly, a historic theater going through a $56 million renovation.

Brûlée, owned by Spectra, the Philadelphia facility services firm, is a high-end catering group that serves the city’s museums and other cultural attractions. It’s headed by chef Jean-Marie Lacroix, a James Beard Award winner, and longtime Aramark executive Jack O'Brien is the group's vice president of catering.

The 110-year-old building, originally called the Philadelphia Metropolitan Opera House, is situated on North Broad Street in downtown Philly. Built by Oscar Hammerstein I, the 110,000-square-foot venue takes up one full city block. It played host to opera for many years and later became a movie theater and a circus venue before falling into disarray. It most recently housed a local church.

Last year, Live Nation partnered with developer Eric Blumenfeld to resurrect the vintage theater. It’s among several restoration projects along North Broad Street that are part of a larger renaissance of the downtown Philly neighborhood, according to O’Brien.

“It’s gigantic, with incredible sightlines,” O’Brien said. “In other cities, many of these historic theaters lapsed into disrepair and were torn down. This one is so big you can do receptions for 5,000 people. We’ll work with major conventions to do opening sessions.” The Pennsylvania Convention Center is just a few blocks south of the site.

The building has multiple rooms apart from the main performance hall, and as a result, Brûlée has the ability to serve food and drink for multiple private groups attending a single event, O’Brien said.

The stage itself, which fronts a performance space with 3,500 fixed seats, could easily accommodate a catered meal for 400 people, he said. The upper levels include a VIP space on the second floor called the Grande Salle. The 4,500-square-foot lounge is designated for functions before, during and after events with seating, a large bar and food service. It sits behind the balcony and features an exclusive entrance, and premium tickets will likely be sold for that space, O’Brien said.

The two upper levels contain a mix of opera boxes and suites.

Whether it’s small or large groups, Brûlée Catering plans to work closely with Live Nation to customize its operation depending on the event. The vendor, under the direction of Lacroix, expects to partner with local chefs as part of the food program. There’s a strong culinary scene in Philly with a vibrant craft beer community and some microdistilleries, and bringing those flavors into the facility is essential, per Live Nation’s request, he said.

At the same time, Brûlée Catering could tone it down a bit by serving basic concessions fare for rock concerts. But patrons can still expect some flair with items such as authentic tacos and specialty burgers.

“We have the ability to be a chameleon,” O’Brien said. “It’s what Brûlée has always done, but take it to the next level and make it even better. That’s our mindset.”

One example is Brûlée Music and Food Experiences, a program with expanded options tied to concerts at The Met Philly. The first event under that brand is ballroom dancer Derek Hough, set for June 14, 2019. Patrons can expect a wide variety of food, music and cultural additions that highlight the artist. Sample items could include Brûlée’s version of the Crown Burger with Fry Sauce, Spectra officials said. It’s named after a fast-food restaurant in Salt Lake City in Hough’s home state of Utah.

Brûlée, founded in 2011, was acquired by Spectra last summer. The firm’s clients include the Museum of the American Revolution, Memorial Hall and the National Constitution Center.
The venue is set to reopen in December. At this point, the initial events have not been announced. Private events will kick off in January, O’Brien said.

AOS Architects, a local firm, designed the Met Philly redevelopment. The company specializes in preserving civic buildings and designing new structures on the campuses of colleges such as Princeton University, the University of Pennsylvania, Duke University and Southern Methodist University.

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Belmont's Multiborough Blowout
Posted: 6 Jun 2018, 7:00 pm

A pastrami sandwich, one of the items from the New York-centric menu created to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Belmont Stakes. (Courtesy Centerplate)

Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes winner Justify is one win away from becoming the second Triple Crown winner in the last four decades when he competes Saturday at the Belmont Stakes in Elmont, N.Y. The event is expected to draw a crowd of 90,000.

Vying for concession dollars is Centerplate, which has been Belmont Park’s food and beverage provider since 1995.

Drew Revella, the Triple Crown chef at Belmont Park, was with the venue 2004-11 and returned as Centerplate’s general manager of the F&B operation this year.

He created a new menu for the classic horse racing event using “local flavor from around all the boroughs of New York,” he said. “It’s Belmont Stakes' 150th anniversary and we’ve been thinking about what we wanted to do that would be special. We decided to go with a very New York-centric theme.”

The premium areas will “get a little bit of everything New York has to offer,” Revella said. “Taking a tour of New York and the surrounding boroughs, we tried to capture what New York is all about and bring back nostalgia to anyone who grew up here."

Picked by Revella to be part of the quintessential New York experience is Brooklyn-themed GMO-free pastrami, hot dogs and sausage, smoked meats, charcuterie boards, bagels and smoked fish from Brooklyn Cured; urban rooftop-grown lettuces and greens from Gotham Greens; and other East Coast favorites like potato knishes from Knish Gnosh; baba ghanoush from Sonny & Joe’s; and cannolis, caramelized nuts and soft pretzels.

Belmont_Spaghetti_Meatballs.jpgLittle Italy-inspired spaghetti and meatballs is one of the new menu items available at Belmont Park this week only. (Courtesy Centerplate)

Also on the menu is mulderberry turkey breast from New York's Adirondacks; warm tomato pies from Utica; and shrimp and prosciutto from Little Italy.

Also in the VIP areas will be Long Island Sound oysters. “The oysters will be fresh Saturday morning and they’re going to shuck the oysters on the spot,” said Revella. “For those lucky enough to get them, it’s a cool thing and the best way to eat them.”

Alcohol will be available, with Revella’s specialty drink, The Jewel, which uses sponsor Woodford Reserve’s bourbon, being the main offering.

A wide variety of new ancient grains, including wheatberry, quinoa, red and green lentil, tabbouleh and seven-grain dishes will be available in the Garden Terrace Buffet, as well as a daily array of hummus and locally sourced fruits and vegetables.

“We started planning menus for the differing areas last summer, basically right after last year’s Belmont," said Centerplate communications director Paul Pettas in an email. That included holding meetings with Revella, Regional Vice President Bobby Dichiaro and other executives on a regular basis.

 “All menus are created based on what Belmont can source, using New York purveyors for cheeses, meats and as many local products as possible, allowing the chefs and front-of-house folks (about 25-30 of each) to assist operations from the main kitchen,” Pettas said.

“Food preparation starts weeks before the race,” explained Pettas, “with the final preparations filling the week leading up to Saturday and 'execution' happening Friday and into Saturday.”

Belmont_Stakes_Pretzel_2018[2].jpgNo New York-themed menu would be complete without a hot soft pretzel, which will be on the menu at the Belmont Stakes' 150th anniversary Saturday.

Revella has staff of 150 on his Centerplate team producing the concessions. “Right now 80 chefs and cooks are getting ready for Saturday,” he said. “It starts (Thursday) and goes through Saturday. It’s a great experience, and it’s all about food and connecting to horse racing.”

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2018 Women Of Influence Revealed
Posted: 6 Jun 2018, 6:00 pm

Los Angeles Lakers owner Jeanie Buss is among the 2018 VenuesNow Women of Influence winners. (Los Angeles Lakers)

The votes are in, and Jeanie Buss, Donna DiBenedetto, Evelyn Ingram, Dot Lischick and Lynda Reinhart are the five extraordinary women in the live events industry who have been selected by their peers as 2018 VenuesNow Women of Influence. They join an illustrious group of 42 previous winners who have had a positive impact on this industry.

DonnaDiBenedetto.jpgDonna DiBenedetto. (Courtesy AEG)

The awards program began in 2007 and has continued every year since, with profiles of and tributes to the 2018 winners to be published in our July magazine. The awards will be presented during our Women of Influence reception at the International Association of Venue Managers convention in Toronto on July 24.

As always happens, this year’s winners come from all walks of venue life, from Buss, who owns the Los Angeles Lakers of the NBA and once managed the Forum in Inglewood, Calif., to DiBenedetto on the East Coast, who is director of touring, AEG Presents, New York.

When Brian Sipes, GM for SMG at Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza, Wilkes-Barre, Pa., nominated DiBenedetto, he noted she “has been instrumental in the touring success of some of the biggest tours in history including Justin Bieber, Carrie Underwood, the many years of American Idol tours, and the current multi-year farewell tour of Elton John, which has sold out every announced date as of press time. Donna has been a leader in the industry working with hundreds of venue managers across the country while confirming tour dates of all genres and capacities. Her ingenuity and leadership within AEG Presents and her track record of success make her a pioneer in today’s live event industry.”

Dot300.jpgDot Lischick.

Indeed, one of those "venue managers across the country” and also in the Class of 2018 — Dot Lischick, GM of the Broadmoor World Arena and Pikes Peak Performing Arts Center in Colorado Springs, Colo. — perked up at the name. “Donna D. and I are twins; we trade our twin stories,” said Lischick, who has worked with AEG Presents and DiBenedetto for years. Lischick was chosen because of her powerful, no-nonsense soup-to-nuts management of the Colorado Springs venues, from design and construction to serving the community.


Lynda300.jpgLynda Reinhart.

Representing the university side of the business is Reinhart, director of the University of Florida’s Stephen C. O’Connell Center, home to six NCAA Division I teams. Reinhart has spent her career in Gainesville, working at the venue as a student in 1994 and joining full time in 1998. Her duties recently saw her overseeing a $65 million renovation of the arena. Given her university setting and penchant for mentoring, Reinhart has been very involved on IAVM’s Body of Knowledge Task Force and was instrumental in developing a standardized facility management curriculum and college textbook.

Ingram, VP of sales for EventBooking, has served several associations and corporations in this industry, which led to her selection as a Woman of Influence. Notified of the award and asked about highlights in her career in this industry, Ingram did not hesitate. “The highlight is meeting with peers at conferences. That’s the most valuable aspect to anything I’ve done — the relationships. Every occasion to get together with my peers is exceptional.”

evelyn300.jpgEvelyn Ingram

VenuesNow invites you all to join us in honoring the 2018 Women of Influence and those who went before. Past winners include:


• Kim Damron, President, Paciolan, Irvine, Calif.
• Donna Julian, Senior Vice President of Arena & Events Ops & GM Spectrum Center, Charlotte, N.C.
• Michele Montague, Assistant General Manager & Vice President, Events Verizon Center, Washington
• Marla Ostroff, EVP of Arts and Theatre and Strategic Accounts Ticketmaster, New York City
• Debra Rathwell, Senior Vice President, AEG Live, New York

• Sandra Dunn, General Manager, DCU Center/SMG, Worcester, Mass.
• Ali Harnell, Senior VP / AEG Live - Nashville
• Michele L. Swann, General Manager/CEO of  Cobb-Marietta Coliseum & Exhibit Hall Authority, Atlanta

• Carol Pollock, Hoyt Sherman Place/VenuWorks (Posthumous) WOI and first Hall of Famer
• Leslee Stewart, General Manager, Paramount Theatre, Oakland, Calif.
• Kerry Painter, Assistant General Manager, Cox Business Center, Tulsa, Okla.
• Karen Totaro, General Manager, Atlantic City Convention Center, 1st Vice Chair IAVM

• Jan Addison, Deputy General Manager, Orange County Convention Center
• Lynn Carlotto, General Manager, Rogers K-Rock Centre
• Wesley Cullen, General Manager, Coliseo de Puerto Rico
• Susan Rosenbluth, Senior VP, AEG Live/Goldenvoice
• Cheryl Swanson, Executive Director, Alerus Center

• Adina Erwin, Fox Theatre, Atlanta
• Maureen Ginty, SMG
• Kim Stone, AmericanAirlines Arena and The Heat Group, Miami

• Susette Hunter, Birmingham-Jefferson (Ala.) Convention Complex
• Cyndee Pennington, Pensacola (Fla.) Civic Center
• Vanessa Kromer, Nederlander Concerts, Hollywood, Calif.

• JoAnn Armstrong, Honda Center, Anaheim, Calif.
• Sydney Greenblatt, Sydney Greenblatt Event Marketing
• Sally Roach, Township Auditorium, Columbia, S.C.

• Liza Cartmell, Aramark
• Tammy Koolbeck, VenuWorks
• Christy Castillo, Staples Center and Nokia Theatre at L.A. Live

• Nicole Feld, Feld Entertainment
• Sandie Aaron, SMG
• Patti-Anne Tarlton, Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment

• Jane Kleinberger, Paciolan
• Claire Rothman, The Forum, Inglewood, Calif.
• Peggy Daidakis, Baltimore Convention Center
• Brenda Tinnen, Sprint Center, Kansas City, Mo.
• Shura Lindgren, St. Charles (Mo.) Convention Center

• Donna Dowless, XOXO Media Group
• Robyn Williams, Portland (Ore.) Center for the Performing Arts
• Carol Wallace, San Diego Convention Center
• Kim Bedier, Comcast Arena, Everett, Wash.
• Barbara Hubbard, New Mexico State University, Las Cruces

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Festival Ticketing Power Play
Posted: 6 Jun 2018, 5:00 pm

Pilgrimage Music and Cultural Festival co-producer Justin Timberlake performs at last year’s festival in Franklin, Tenn. (Getty Images)

Pilgrimage Music and Cultural Festival, the festival co-produced by Justin Timberlake, is selling passes to the event through the official website of the Nashville Predators, the first time an NHL team has entered such an arrangement.

“We are eager to increase our community reach and align with such an influential, community-driven festival,” said Sean Henry, the Predators’ CEO and president. “The opportunity to sell tickets and provide our fans exclusive offers is one we could not pass up, and we are confident that this opens the door for even more community and fan engagement in unique and never-before-seen ways.”

Pilgrimage runs Sept. 22-23 at the Park at Harlinsdale Farm in Franklin, Tenn., about 20 miles south of Nashville, and will feature Jack White, Chris Stapleton, Lionel Richie, Dave Matthews and Tim Reynolds, Hozier, Counting Crows, Brandi Carlile, Dawes and more.

Tickets are on sale now.

The festival is co-produced by Tennessee native Timberlake, and it places a special emphasis on the host community, as evidenced by the new partnership with the local hockey team. Last year’s event featured Timberlake, Eddie Vedder, Mavis Staples, Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue, The Avett Brothers, Gary Clark Jr. and many more.

The festival has a nonprofit component to benefit the city of Franklin, Friends of Franklin Parks, and MusiCares, the charitable arm of the Grammys. Neil Portnow, president and CEO of The Recording Academy and the Grammy Awards, recently announced he is stepping down next year.

This story originally appeared on

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NBA’s Hawks Offer Sustainability Lesson
Posted: 6 Jun 2018, 2:55 pm

In a still from a time-lapse video, workers remove seats from Atlanta's Philips Arena to be recycled. (Courtesy Atlanta Hawks)

The removal of 12,500 seats from Atlanta’s Philips Arena as part of the 19-year-old venue’s phased $192.5 million remodel, created 64 tons of recyclable material, one of the largest seat recycling efforts at an arena.

The NBA’s Atlanta Hawks partnered with Atlanta’s Rubicon Global, a company with a focus on recycling and waste-reduction programs, to spend five days pulling out seats and then recycling as much as possible, diverting the seats from a landfill and saving 265 tons of carbon emissions in the process, according to the Hawks.

“As a leader in our community, we felt it was our responsibility to remove seats and other materials in a way that values sustainability,” Brett Stefansson, Philips Arena executive vice president and general manager, wrote in an email. “Aligning with Rubicon, an industry leader in this space, underscores our commitment to keep Philips Arena a green facility.”

The arena, which hosts about 160 events and 1.6 million guests annually, will have a capacity of more than 17,000, after the work is done, a decrease of about 1,000. The current renovation makes changes from the roofline to the baseline with improved sightlines, new video displays, fresh suite options and updated concessions. The project started in the summer of 2017, with the most notable change being a new club area behind one of the baskets on the floor level. Behind-the-scenes support work also went on. After shutting down briefly last summer, the building closed again in April for six months so the renovations can be finished.

Some of the building’s seats were replaced last summer, leaving 12,500 for this project, the largest seat recycling effort Rubicon has participated in, all without an additional cost to the team, said Stefansson.

“Our partnership with the Hawks and Philips Arena is a great example of a sustainable renovation on a large scale,” said David Rachelson, vice president of sustainability for Rubicon. “Together, we were able to save 64 tons of valuable recycled material from the removed seats, which would have been shipped to a landfill. That’s a significant environmental impact and a commitment to the circular economy.”

The Hawks decided not to auction off seats, instead putting a focus on the full-scale recycling effort. Justin Zeulner, executive director of Green Sports Alliance, praised the Hawks for bold leadership in the sports greening movement, especially as the Green Sports Alliance Summit heads to the neighboring Mercedes-Benz Stadium June 26-27. The stadium received LEED Platinum certification, the highest rating given in the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design scale used by the U.S. Green Building Council.

“Just about a month before we arrive in Atlanta, Philips Arena announces, as part of their renovation plans, they will ensure their old seats avoid our landfills,” he said. “These examples are not only environmentally intelligent, (but) they inspire others to take further action.”

The seats removed from the arena were taken to a nearby facility, where Rubicon’s team separated recyclable material for disposal. Rubicon said the project—the largest of its kind for the company—is a high-profile example to businesses of all sizes about the kinds of things they can do to keep materials out of landfills.

Other venues have recycled thousands of seats at a time, often recouping revenue along the way by earning money for aluminum, steel and plastic. Recent large-scale examples come from the 2016 seat remodel at Nashville’s Nissan Stadium, home of the NFL’s Tennessee Titans, and this year’s demolition of the 32,500-seat Hughes Stadium at Colorado State University after the opening of Canvas Stadium in 2017.

“Partnering with Rubicon, an industry leader and a global company that calls Atlanta home, was important for us as we continue our efforts to keep Philips Arena a green facility,” Stefansson said. “Working with Rubicon was a natural fit, as we both value sustainability and the importance of recycling.”

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Posted: 5 Jun 2018, 7:00 pm

Pink performed one of her signature aerial sequences at Perth (Australia) Arena.

Live Nation/AEG Presents-promoted Pink’s high-flying tour grabbed two spots on our 10,000-15,000-capacity chart. At Valley View Casino in San Diego, she grossed $1,664,733 with an attendance of 11,872 and a ticket range of $47.50-$207.45, and a stop at Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario, Calif., resulted in a $1,457,008 gross and attendance of 9,597, with a ticket range of $47.45-$207.25.

Jennifer Lopez’s residency at Planet Hollywood’s Zappos Theater in Las Vegas continues to pull in J.Lo fans willing to shell out $54-$412 to see the diva. Last week’s gross for three shows was $2,027,76, with 10,258 attending. Caesars Entertainment Inc. and Live Nation share the promoting responsibilities.

HOT TICKETS is a weekly summary of the top events ranked by gross as reported to VN Pulse via Pollstar. Following are the top 20 concerts and events, the top 5 in each capacity category, that took place May 8 – June 5.

More Than 15,000 Capacity

10,001-15,000 Capacity


5,000 or Less

1) Taylor Swift
Gross Sales:
$14,576,697; Venue: Soldier Field, Chicago; Attendance: 105,208; Ticket Range: $499.50-$49.50; Promoter: Messina Touring Group, AEG Presents; Dates: June 1-2; No. of Shows: 2

2) "Bayou Country Superfest"
Gross Sales: $8,844,930; Venue: Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans; Attendance: 53,518; Ticket Range: $395-$25; Promoter: Messina Touring Group, AEG Presents; Dates: May 27; No. of Shows: 1

3) Taylor Swift
Gross Sales: $8,672,219; Venue: CenturyLink Field, Seattle; Attendance: 56,021; Ticket Range: $499.50-$49.50; Promoter: Messina Touring Group, AEG Presents; Dates: May 22; No. of Shows: 1

4) Taylor Swift
Gross Sales: $7,926,365; Venue: Sports Authority Field At Mile High, Denver; Attendance: 57,140; Ticket Range: $499.50-$49.50; Promoter: Messina Touring Group, AEG Presents; Dates: May 25; No. of Shows: 1

5) U2
Gross Sales: $5,104,662; Venue: T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas; Attendance: 30,766; Ticket Range: $260-$29; Promoter: Live Nation Global Touring; Dates: May 11-12; No. of Shows: 2

1) U2
Gross Sales: $2,420,795; Venue: Infinite Energy Center, Duluth, Ga.; Attendance: 12,982; Ticket Range: $325-$41; Promoter: Live Nation Global Touring; Dates: May 28; No. of Shows: 1

2) Cirque du Soleil - "Ovo"
Gross Sales: $2,247,736; Venue: Luzhniki Palace Of Sports, Moscow; Attendance: 36,999; Ticket Range: $100.63-$37.84; Promoter: Cirque du Soleil; Dates: May 15-20; No. of Shows: 8

3) Cirque du Soleil - "Ovo"
Gross Sales: $2,171,281; Venue: Luzhniki Palace Of Sports, Moscow; Attendance: 35,134; Ticket Range: $100.63-$37.84; Promoter: Cirque du Soleil; Dates: May 8-13; No. of Shows: 9

4) Pink
Gross Sales: $1,664,733; Venue: Valley View Casino Center, San Diego; Attendance: 11,872; Ticket Range: $207.45-$47.45; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: May 28; No. of Shows: 1

5) Pink
Gross Sales: $1,457,008; Venue: Citizens Business Bank Arena, Ontario, Calif.; Attendance: 9,597; Ticket Range: $207.45-$47.45; Promoter: Live Nation, Marshall Arts, AEG Presents; Dates: May 23; No. of Shows: 1

1) Jennifer Lopez
Gross Sales: $2,027,761; Venue: Zappos Theater At Planet Hollywood, Las Vegas; Attendance: 10,258; Ticket Range: $412-$54; Promoter: Caesars Entertainment Inc., Live Nation; Dates: May 16-19; No. of Shows: 3

2 Hillary Rodham Clinton
Gross Sales: $870,324; Venue: ICC Sydney; Attendance: 5,903; Ticket Range: $224.78-$148.58; Promoter: The Growth Faculty; Dates: May 11; No. of Shows: 1

3) Pitbull
Gross Sales: $669,559; Venue: Zappos Theater At Planet Hollywood, Las Vegas; Attendance: 7,381; Ticket Range: $189-$53; Promoter: Caesars Entertainment Inc., Live Nation; Dates: May 9-12; No. of Shows: 3

4) "R&B Super Jam"
Gross Sales: $521,017; Venue: Wintrust Arena, Chicago; Attendance: 6,637; Ticket Range: $125-$59; Promoter: Urban Vibe Entertainment; Dates: May 11; No. of Shows: 1

5) Maria Bethania, Zeca Pagodinho
Gross Sales: $493,490; Venue: Citibank Hall, Sao Paulo; Attendance: 7,380; Ticket Range: $183.92-$12.61; Promoter: T4F - Time For Fun; Dates: May 18-19; No. of Shows: 2

1) "Springsteen On Broadway," Bruce Springsteen
Gross Sales: $1,931,445; Venue: Walter Kerr Theatre, New York City; Attendance: 3,792; Ticket Range: $950-$75; Promoter: Thrill Hill Productions; Dates: May 16-19; No. of Shows: 4

2) "Jersey Boys"
Gross Sales: $1,087,910; Venue: Broward Ctr. Au-Rene Theater, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; Attendance: 14,331; Ticket Range: $90.25-$40.25; Promoter: Broadway Across America, Florida Theatrical Assn.; Dates: May 15-20; No. of Shows: 8

3) "Wizard Of Oz"
Gross Sales: $834,004; Venue: Chicago Theatre, Chicago; Attendance: 15,880; Attendance: 14,874; Ticket Range: $129-$39; Promoter: MSG Live; Dates: May 8-13; No. of Shows: 8

4) "Wizard Of Oz"
Gross Sales: $758,536; Venue: Chicago Theatre, Chicago; Attendance: 13,778; Ticket Range: $129-$39; Promoter: MSG Live; Dates: May 16-20; No. of Shows: 8

5) Jackson Browne
Gross Sales: $576,657; Venue: Beacon Theatre, New York; Attendance: 5,562; Ticket Range: $190.50-$59.50; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: May 17-18; No. of Shows: 2

The weekly Hot Tickets chart is compiled by Pollstar. For more information, email or click here to submit your Box Office data now.


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Chase Center Adds Key Management
Posted: 5 Jun 2018, 6:00 pm

Chase Center in San Francisco is filling several key slots ahead of its 2019 opening.

Mike_Sciortino_200x1451.jpgMike Sciortino

Mike Sciortino is the new vice president of operations, Sciortino joins Chase Center having recently headed up facility and event services at Madison Square Garden.   


Michael_Rescigno_200x1451.jpgMichael Rescigno

Michael Rescigno will take on the senior director of parking and transportation post. Before joining Chase Center, Rescigno was a senior executive at Impark.


Adrianne Wynne

Adrianne Wynne will be the senior director of event services. Wynne previously worked for the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J., and MSG.



Stevie Gray has been named vice president of ticket operations.

Phil Hastings is the new vice president of event experiences. He joined the operation in April 2016. Before that, he was the director of arena operations for Amway Center in Orlando.

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Legends Will Sell Missouri Premium
Posted: 5 Jun 2018, 5:00 pm

A rendering shows suites and clubs being built as part of the south end zone project at the University of Missouri's Faurot Field. (Populous)

The University of Missouri has signed a deal with Legends to sell premium seats that are part of upgrades to the south end zone at Columbia’s Faurot Field.

The $98 million renovation, designed by Populous, covers 16 new suites, 1,200 club seats and a field-level club accessible to 750 members regardless of seat location.

The improvements are set to open for the 2019 season, giving Legends its “shortest runway” to date for selling premium seats. It has worked on similar projects for the University of Oklahoma, the University of Notre Dame, the University of Louisville and the University of Southern California, according to Mike Behan, Legends’ vice president of sales.

“It’s a little bit shorter than we’ve done in the past, but from an inventory and demand standpoint, and what we saw from the market study, we feel confident that we’ll get into a good spot by fall 2019,” Behan said.

Legends has been dialed into the Missouri project for several years through CSL International, its sister company, which did the market research for both the south end zone upgrades and the east side expansion that opened in 2014.

Legends appointed Dan Boswell as general manager to lead the Missouri project on campus. For three years, Boswell sold premium seats for Legends at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, home of the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons. In addition, Boswell, a University of Nebraska graduate, worked three years in donor relations for his alma mater’s athletic department.

Boswell and his staff will focus on finding new donors as an entry point to buy premium seats. The end zones are typically less desirable locations to watch football. As a result, premium seat retrofits in those areas cost less compared with suites and club seats along the sidelines, making it a more affordable option for first-time buyers and donors.

In general, it’s the continuation of a trend Legends first observed during the sales process at Oklahoma and Louisville.

In Norman alone, Behan said, new buyers made up one-third of total buyers of premium seats for Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium’s south end zone expansion completed in 2016. Two-thirds of all buyers stepped up to join the Sooner Club, a group of OU’s biggest donors.

At Faurot Field, the field level club, an indoor/outdoor setting, is one example of designing to attract younger graduates so they can get a taste of the premium experience in college sports. The football team will pass through the club on its way to the field in a hospitality space that project officials expect to be a high-energy environment on game days.

It’s a design feature that started at NFL facilities such as AT&T Stadium, which opened in 2009. Missouri experienced the club layout during its appearance in the 2014 Cotton Bowl at the Dallas Cowboys’ venue, said Tim Hickman, Missouri’s deputy athletic director.

“That [design] stuck with us for the last few years,” Hickman said. “Fans have told us they want to interact with the team. It’s an experience you can’t have watching the game on TV.”

The trend has trickled down to college venues. Five years ago, the University of Washington’s Husky Stadium opened 20 patio suites in the east end as part of a major expansion. One year later, Mississippi State opened the Gridiron Club, a premium hospitality space in the north end zone connected to seats upstairs in the bowl.

This coming season, Louisville debuts a dozen field level suites, which are among $55 million in upgrades to Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium. Legends sold all those suites, priced at $45,000 a year plus the cost of season tickets, within two months of kicking off the sales campaign.

In Missouri, apart from the local community, Legends will focus on finding new buyers from the Southeastern Conference school’s strong alumni base in Kansas City and St. Louis, two bigger markets within game-day driving distance of Columbia.

“Specifically, we see a market like St. Louis, where this might fill a void from a football standpoint” now that the NFL’s Rams have moved to Los Angeles, he said.

Legends is initially selling the 16 new Show Me Suites, which are priced at $40,000 to $45,000 annually, for multiyear terms. The exact number of years has not been determined, Behan said.

Those buyers must make a $100,000 capital gift on top of the yearly suite fee, plus the cost of season tickets. This year, football season tickets cost $288 to $379, according to the Missouri athletics website.

Price points for the Touchdown Club, the name of the field-level club, and the Show Me Club, the traditional midlevel club space, have not been determined.

Because of the relatively short period to sell premium, Legends decided not to build a preview center to showcase the new seating products. Instead, the agency will convert the existing suite at Faurot Field closest to overlooking the construction site into a temporary showroom equipped with renderings and other marketing materials, Behan said.

Legends also plans to organize a series of game-day tailgate parties for prospective buyers, events which had great success at Notre Dame, he said.

“In 90 days, we’ll have our best preview center: a stadium full of fans,” Behan said.

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Bonnaroo’s Other All-Star Lineup: Food
Posted: 5 Jun 2018, 5:00 pm

Henri is the mascot for Hamageddon, the pit where professionals roast pigs at the festival. (Courtesy Bonnaroo)

Bonnaroo, says food vendor Ryon Weber, is the Super Bowl of festivals for traveling food trucks.

“I serve 3,000 to 12,000 people at festivals leading up to Bonnaroo,” said Weber, who owns and operates a pizza company called Pies for the People. “Then you have Coachella and Bonnaroo, which is 70,000 people.”

In other words, it’s a whole different ballgame — or food game, for that matter. The massive music and arts festival takes place on a 700-acre farm in Manchester, Tenn., about 70 miles southeast of Nashville, where roughly 150 bands play on multiple stages. This year’s festival is scheduled to start tonight and run through Sunday, and headlining acts included Eminem, the Killers, Sheryl Crow and Paramore.

AC Entertainment and Superfly Presents produce the festival. As fans meander among the stages, they’re presented with hundreds of food and beverage options, carefully planned by Bonnaroo’s director of concessions, Chris Crowell, and her team of 25 employees.

Street tacos, a pig roasting pit, funnel cakes, dumplings, doughnuts, burgers, Mexican and Creole food are only a fraction of the food options offered at Bonnaroo.

“The tricky part with Bonnaroo is it’s so spread out,” Crowell said. “Over the years, we’ve had the same locations that we’ve had for several years. We learn from year to year and make sure we provide the right amount of food. I think that variety is really key.”

Crowell has worked with Bonnaroo since it started 17 years ago, so she’s familiar with the ins and outs of the event.

A total of 15 food trucks are spread throughout the venue, eight of them stationed at the Food Truck Oasis. The others are carefully assigned to camping spots and other areas on the farm.

Each year, Crowell and her team try to expand food options. This year, they had celebrity Chef Tim Love operating The Love Shack, which offered a gourmet barbecue pit called Holy Smokes.

Gone are the days of venues offering only cheap nachos and hot dogs, Crowell said. Fans demand more now.

“Now that the festival food is good, it makes it easier for (fans) to enjoy the show and the music,” she said. “All around (the food) is just better.”

Great communication with vendors and with the Bonnaroo team is key to success, Crowell said.

“I want to make sure these vendors are really taken care of. It’s not easy setting up at Bonnaroo. There’s not a lot of infrastructure. You’ve got to get set up and be prepared for all the different weather that comes,” she said. “Some vendors stay open 24 hours, which is a long time to stay open.”

Bonnaroo vendor coordinators are assigned to specific areas throughout the venue, working with vendors and making sure they have what they need.

She says the communication with food vendors begins months before the event.

Vendors appreciate that communication and better understand what to expect, Weber said, highlighting that he’s been a food provider at Bonnaroo for 11 years now.

“It has been a pleasure to be a part of Bonnaroo for all this time. They are a professional company to work for. It’s a serious business when you’re handling food and serving food for people over a four-day period. You have to have these regulations. It’s easy to get caught up in the party of it all,” Weber said.

For example, food truck vendors don’t serve food out of the trucks, per se. Instead, their trucks are parked behind tents. They serve the food out of the tents, grabbing product from their trucks.

It would be too hectic to manage the long lines of people wanting food if the trucks didn’t have a tent area that provides them more space for serving, Crowell said.

Food vendors also have a huge amount of work organizing employees before the event.

“Before I serve my first slice of pizza at Bonnaroo, there’s a lot of work just getting the pizza there,” he said. “And the logistics of coordinating all those kids to come to work at different times, getting them credentials and getting them to camp.”

Vendors usually hire locals from around Tennessee to work with them each year. Weber typically has 36 employees who help throughout the four-day festival, and the majority of them live in the area.

Weber travels around the country in a semi truck, hauling his pizza products and tents with him to festivals, starting in March and usually ending the festival season in October.

He also owns two Pie for the People restaurants, one in Los Angeles and the other in Seattle.

Vendors are required to use compostable materials to serve food, including plates, cups and utensils. That’s one rule at Bonnaroo that is nonnegotiable.

Crowell also asks vendors to source ingredients locally from farms surrounding Manchester. She gives each vendor a list of farms to choose from, but not all concessionaires take advantage of the suggestions.

“Everything I do is fresh, every time I get to a festival. I don’t cut corners and use frozen products,” Weber said. “I source as many of my ingredients as possible from local farmers. That’s not a tremendous amount, but we do what we can do.”

Beverages are also big business at the festival. Bonnaroo has the Broo’ers Festival, where 26 breweries from across the nation bring two types of beer from their establishments, giving festival attendees a plethora of options.

Coffee is also a necessity, and several coffee vendors are spread out on the farm.

For the last nine years, Bear Claw Coffee from Ann Arbor, Mich., has served caffeinated beverages to festivalgoers.

This year, the coffee company — owned and operated by husband and wife team Debi and Doug Scroggins — celebrated eight years as beverage vendors at Bonnaroo.

“My husband and I founded the company in 2001. We started out with a small double drive-through in a small cornfield,” Debi Scroggins said. “After the recession, it was really hard to expand brick and mortar, and we started doing events. We really serve some cool venues now.”

They have three locations at Bonnaroo this year, and are employing more than 70 people. Typically, they’ll bring about 35 people with them and hire the rest locally. Most years, they reach out to the same people around Tennessee to help them run the coffee stations, which are open 24 hours a day throughout the four-day festival. Things can get a little hectic.

“You just gotta keep your head and be as organized as you can,” she said.

They’ve come up with a “Festival Crew Survival Guide” for employees to help them be successful.

“You really need to rest, hydrate, rest and nourish your body,” she said.

Her crew usually will work eight hours, rest or go to a show, eat and then work another eight hours, rotating shifts with other employees.

Another huge aspect of Bonnaroo is all of its nonprofits on site, promoting social justice and equal rights, to name a few causes.

Laura Sohn is the director of sustainability at Bonnaroo, and she organizes a huge dinner for volunteers and nonprofits each year called the BonnaRoots. It costs $50 to attend, and it acts as a fundraiser for nonprofits at the event.

It feeds 150 people, and all the food is sourced from within 200 miles of the festival.

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D.C. United Stadium Executive Departs
Posted: 4 Jun 2018, 1:00 pm

A rendering shows Audi Field, set to host its first D.C. United match July 14. (Courtesy

Editor's note: This story has been updated since it was originally posted.

Troy Scott, former senior vice president of stadium development and operations for Major League Soccer’s D.C. United, has joined the Baltimore Orioles of Major League Baseball as vice president of ballpark operations.

It’s a new position with the Orioles, team spokesman Greg Bader said. Scott’s first day on the job was Monday.

Scott’s move to Oriole Park at Camden Yards comes less than six weeks before July 14, the date of D.C. United’s first match at Audi Field, the team’s new 20,000-capacity stadium.

To this point, D.C. United officials are unsure whether they will replace Scott, said Lindsay Simpson, the team’s spokesperson. Scott served as the team’s point man for facility development, working closely with stadium architect Populous, builder Turner Construction and owner’s representative Legends Global Development.

“Everything is pretty much done on the construction management side,” Simpson said. “Troy was given an opportunity of a lifetime to join the Orioles. He worked with (D.C. United) to make sure the transition is smooth. We have a robust and growing operations department compared with RFK Stadium (the team's former home, which is publicly operated). There’s no immediate need to fill the position.”

D.C. United hired Scott in November 2013 to head stadium development, which included the search for a site to build the facility. The result was Buzzard Point, a peninsula situated in southwest Washington, about two blocks from Nationals Park.

The total project cost has increased to about $400 million, the Washington Post reported, which would make it the most expensive soccer-specific stadium in North America, surpassing LAFC’s Banc of California Stadium, a $350 million development in Los Angeles.

Before D.C. United, Scott worked for EventsDC, the company that runs RFK Stadium and the D.C. Armory. He spent 16 years as the group’s director of facility and event operations before being promoted in February 2012 to vice president of operations for the sports and entertainment division. EventsDC was previously named the D.C. Sports and Entertainment Commission before undergoing a rebrand in 2011.

D.C. United is an original MLS franchise and played in the league’s inaugural 1996 season. It played home matches at RFK Stadium through the 2017 season. The team has been on the road for most of the first half of the 2018 season with the exception of a few games at the Maryland Soccerplex in Germantown and Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis, Md.

The Orioles have discussed making more upgrades at Camden Yards over the past three years, including the construction of party decks in the outfield corners, a home plate club and an expansion of the group picnic space down the left-field line. To date, no announcements have been made.

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Centerplate, Hard Rock Stadium Extend
Posted: 29 May 2018, 8:00 pm

Centerplate President and CEO Chris Verros (left) and Miami Dolphins and Hard Rock Stadium's Tom Garfinkel signed a 10-year extension of their deal. (Courtesy Hard Rock Stadium)

Editor's note: This story has been revised since it was originally posted.

Concessionaire Centerplate and the Miami Dolphins' Hard Rock Stadium have renewed their partnership. Under the terms of the deal, announced this morning, Centerplate will be the F&B provider at the 65,000-seat stadium for 10 more years, extending from the end of the current deal in 2021.

“This is a part of the new momentum that’s resulted from Centerplate joining the Sodexo portfolio,” said Paul Pettas, Centerplate’s communication director. Foodservice and facility management company Sodexo, based in France, announced its agreement to buy Centerplate for $675 million in November.

Centerplate said it will continue to emphasize innovative, local cuisine with a commitment to bring fresh flavor and a diverse array of options to Hard Rock Stadium. The stadium's menus include fresh food and beverage offerings sourced directly from South Florida. The venue also has 50-plus craft beers and more than 1,000 tap handles venuewide.

“Our partnership with Hard Rock Stadium has been one of our most successful because they have ownership and a management team that truly focuses on, invests in and innovates the guest experience,” Centerplate President and CEO Chris Verros said in a statement.

In addition to being the home of the Dolphins, the stadium hosts University of Miami football games and the Capital One Orange Bowl. It will be the site of Super Bowl LIV and the College Football Playoffs title game in 2021. The facility also hosts international soccer and will host the Miami Open tennis tournament beginning in 2019.

“Centerplate has been the kind of partner you hope to have: responsive, innovative and operationally excellent," said Tom Garfinkel, Hard Rock Stadium and Dolphins vice chair, president and CEO, in a statement. "They listen and collaborate while also bringing creative ideas on how we can continually improve the guest experience together.”

Centerplate’s Hard Rock Stadium team also worked with the Dolphins over the last few seasons on the stadium’s $500 million-plus renovation.


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In Plant City, Berried In Bands
Posted: 23 May 2018, 8:00 pm

New grandstands seat 10,000 at the Florida Strawberry Festival's main stage. (Courtesy Florida Strawberry Festival)

Reba McEntire, Brad Paisley and the Oak Ridge Boys were only a few of the entertainers who performed to sellout crowds at this year’s Florida Strawberry Festival.

The main stage opened its new $5.5 million grandstands that seat 10,000, giving concertgoers an upgrade from the old bleachers, which were torn down after the 2017 festival.

Twenty-three acts performed throughout the 11-day festival, held on 85 acres in Plant City, Fla., March 1 to 11. Organizers spent roughly $3.5 million on entertainment.

Depending on the artists, concert tickets ran between $15 and $50, said Paul Davis, president of the festival. 

“We try to keep the ticket prices low enough so that people enjoy our event,” Davis said.

To enter the festival, visitors paid $8 in advance and $10 at the gate for adults and $4 in advance or $5 at the gate for children. Kids 4 and under entered for free.

The festival started in 1930 and caters to thousands of attendees each year. Attendance for 2018 was 526,025, down roughly 14,000 visitors from 2017.

“We were a little bit down from the year before, but given all the climate and all the things that happen at outdoor venues, things went well,” Davis said. “We went through the entire event without one arrest. Anytime you have an 11-day run and no one gets hurt, that’s great.”

Although rain didn’t fall much during the festival, there was a 40 percent chance of rain one Sunday, which hurt attendance, Davis said.

He also wondered if the mass shooting at an outdoor music festval in Las Vegas last year and another in February at a Florida high school made visitors nervous.

It was the first year the festival used magnetometers at the venue’s five entrances, Davis said, noting that he staffed nearly 200 law enforcement throughout the festival's run.

Searching people’s bags and using magnetometers is the new normal — “People expect it,” Davis said.

In addition to the concerts, visitors attend for the livestock shows, rides and — of course — the strawberries.

Nearly 12,000 acres of strawberries are harvested in Plant City every winter, making it the winter strawberry capital of the world and the perfect place to host a strawberry festival, Davis said.

“One farmer around here picks about 40,000 flats (crates) of strawberries a day in the winter,” he said. 

The festival is decked out in strawberry decor and every food vendor serves a recipe made with strawberries.

“We have everything strawberry that you can possible imagine,” Davis said.

The midway boasted 87 rides. “We handle all the rides, games and the food concessions that are on the carnival midway portion,” said Charles Panacek, president of Belle City Amusements.

Each year, they have the Berry-Go-Round, a strawberry ride for younger kids.


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Pacers Gaming Plots Esports Dominance
Posted: 23 May 2018, 5:00 pm

The interior of the Pacers Gaming facility in Indianapolis, with graphic designs by Section 127.

Pacers Sports & Entertainment’s fourth team— Pacers Gaming — is finding its footing, both in the real and virtual world. The cyber component is part of the new NBA 2K League, an esports version of NBA basketball that the league created to start play this year. The venue side resides in 3,000 square feet of actual brick-and-mortar space on the fourth floor of the new five-story St. Vincent Center in Indianapolis.

image0014.jpgThe exterior of St. Vincent Center, Indianapolis; Pacers Gaming occupies the fourth floor.

The center was built to house the training facility for the real-life NBA Pacers team that plays its games across the street at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, as well as the offices for the team’s basketball operations. Also in the building are St. Vincent Hospital doctor’s offices. An underground tunnel connects the two Pacers venues.

Construction for St. Vincent Center was done by Hunt Construction. Ratio Architects designed the building.

“This facility is used for practice, boot camp and training,” said Cody Parrent, Pacers Gaming director of esports and head coach. No actual games will played at the venue or at Bankers Life Fieldhouse; all scheduled games for the first season of NBA 2K are being played at Brooklyn Studios in New York.

“We’re using this particular facility for getting the team ready for the competitions in New York, but we’re hoping eventually to host large events in Bankers Life Fieldhouse in the coming years,” he said.

The team consists of six players drafted by the Pacers to compete with 16 other teams in the first season of NBA 2K. Pacers gaming players come from California, New York, Vancouver, Washington and London.

One player has since left the Pacers team, which is looking to fill the spot soon, Parrent said.

“There are five positions on the court, like a real-life game, and we have one player that specializes in each position,” he explained.

All of the 17 teams are tied to NBA franchises. The NBA 2K season will be spread over a 15-week season, running May through August. Pacers Gaming has started the season 0-2 and plays its next game Friday vs. Cavs Legion GC.

“The way the league runs is similar to the way a traditional NBA season runs. The teams all play each other, every weekend, and then move into playoffs and then ultimately finals,” he said. “There is a million-dollar prize pool to be won.”

The team is housed in two apartments in downtown Indianapolis. A typical day begins in the gym at 10:30 a.m. and continues through the length of a workday with practice and strategy sessions, Parrent said.

Kyle Eaker, creative director for Section 127, created the design elements incorporated into the Pacers Gaming section of the St. Vincent’s Center facility. The firm has a long history working with the Pacers and on designs for Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

“Our job was to create a décor package that enhances the new practice and gaming environment and the Pacers Gaming brand,” said Eaker, who started the design work in March and finished by May.

He wanted to be sure to use the organization's branding and integrate the space holistically, Eaker said.

Eaker concentrated on five areas: the exterior entry; the interior entry hallway; the practice court; the center area of the practice court; and the player’s lounge wall.

“We worked on a phase system,” he said. “Phase one was working on a graphics package; phase two was expanding that for sponsorship installation; phase three was expanding our work for the actual players. It all went very smoothly, even with an aggressive timeline.”

Current sponsors of the Pacers Gaming team are the National Guard, Alienware and DXRacer. Eaker also left “room for growth to accommodate future sponsors.”

Previously, Section 127 did design work for Indiana University Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall; University of Alabama’s football facility, Legacy Pavilion; the team shop inside Bankers Life Fieldhouse; and other work in St. Vincent Center.

Pacers Gaming joins the family of Indiana sports teams that already include the NBA Pacers, the WNBA Fever and the G League Fort Wayne Mad Ants.

The NBA is the first U.S. professional sports league to operate an official esports league. The NBA 2K League is a partnership between the NBA and the game publisher, Take-Two Interactive Software Inc. 

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Esports Joins Special Olympics USA Games
Posted: 23 May 2018, 1:00 pm

Every four years, the Special Olympics USA Games are reimagined by a new organizing committee. This year’s games, July 1-6 at the University of Washington in Seattle, have upped the ante with at least two new initiatives: esports exhibition competition, and Accesso ShoWare technology for ticketing the opening ceremonies at Alaska Airlines Field at Husky Stadium on July 1.

The Xbox Gaming Tournament at the 2018 USA Games was announced Tuesday and will take place July 2. Microsoft, which has partnered with Special Olympics since 2014, is the Premier Partner of the 2018 Special Olympics USA Games.

Jayme Powers, chief operating officer and executive producer for Special Olympics USA, explained that unlike the new sport of stand-up paddle boarding, which will see 25 athletes compete and is “a bit of a nod to the Pacific Northwest,” the egames will be an exhibition only. “It’s not yet an accredited Special Olympics sport, but the Olympics are looking at adding it to their roster, so it got a lot of conversation around here when we read that.”

Microsoft took up the challenge and held competition to qualify last month at Microsoft stores all over the country. Athletes will compete in Unified pairs — one athlete who has an intellectual disability paired with one who does not. The competition this year will feature eight teams playing “Forza Motorsport 7,” a popular racing video game published by Microsoft Studios. Additionally, Microsoft will feature Xbox gaming stations in the 2018 USA Games Fan Zone where fans can play games such as “Forza Motorsport 7,” “Minecraft” and “Super Lucky’s Tale.”

“It’s modest as egame competition goes. We’re dipping our toe in,” Powers said. She added that Microsoft is the perfect adviser in a competition like this.

Selecting Accesso to handle ticketing was another great partnership, in Powers’ opinion. Each Special Olympics organizing committee must establish its own team of vendors and hire its own staff. Nothing is carried over. Powers said these games have been in production for three years.

She is working with a $16 million operating budget, 80 percent of which comes from corporate sponsorships and state support. Bids are not city-generated, she noted. Seattle’s contribution is in infrastructure support. The games feature 4,000 athletes and coaches. Five of the sports will qualify for the 2019 Special Olympics World Summer Games. Because Seattle is a major metropolitan area, these games cost about $4 million more than the 2014 games in Mercer County, N.J.

The only ticketed event is the opening ceremony. The stadium seats 60,000. The event will star Ann Wilson of Heart and Allen Stone. Tickets are $20 general admission, $65 reserved.

“One of our project managers researched the options for ticketing,” Powers recalled. They wanted a company completely separate from university ticketing, so they could have access to the back end and could do more than just live event ticketing.”

“We have a lot of the constituents — our partners, our volunteers — and they all have a different arrangement. We needed something flexible enough to handle that and, since we are essentially a startup, we needed a vendor who could work with a non-ticketing professional, but rather a project manager,” Powers said.

Accesso was chosen from a short list of four companies last fall. Tickets went on sale after a soft launch Jan. 1. Powers said sales are going well, “especially with audiences who we would predict have a vested interest — families, volunteers and sponsors.”

T.J. Christensen, Accesso executive vice president of sales and marketing, noted one of the key contributions his firm brought to the games was combining donations with the ecommerce platform. “Typically, those can be two different systems that don’t talk to each other. This system integrates their donations aspect with ecommerce profits. When you buy tickets to the opening ceremony, you can also donate to Special Olympics, a round-up amount or keying in whatever amount you want to. It’s one transaction, and hopefully they will have a record year in getting donations from businesses purchasing online.”

It’s a functionality Accesso does with other clients, such as The Gala for the Los Angeles. They have found there is a higher click rate and higher overall donation rate when it’s presented that way.

“Across nonprofits, being able to collect donations in one e-commerce system is a trend,” Christensen said.

One of the other pain points Accesso helped solve is managing all groups involved in the opening ceremony, he said. While 70 percent of the tickets are for sale, the other 30 percent are divvied up into allocations for partners, volunteers and sponsors. Accesso ShoWare also prides itself on 24/7 individual support for clients. “When they have an issue, they are not put into queue; they have a person they can call — it’s the personal touch,” Christensen said.

Accesso proper serves about 1,000 venues worldwide, he said. They provide ticketing for nine core markets such as tours and attractions, comedy clubs, cruises, theme parks and arenas, and they also provide queuing solutions, like Six Flags FastPass.

Powers joined Special Olympics USA Games out of the family attractions business, having been vice president and chief operating officer for Field Station: Dinosaurs, a science-based family attraction in Secaucus, N.J., that has just opened a second location in Kansas.

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Oak View Group Opens NYC Office
Posted: 23 May 2018, 12:00 pm

The New York Islanders are scheduled to move to a new home at Belmont Park for the 2021-22 season. (Courtesy New York Islanders)

Oak View Group has opened a New York office to help the NHL’s New York Islanders bring their business operations back in-house and launch the marketing platform for their new arena at Belmont Park.

The office, situated at 21st Street and Broadway in Manhattan, is part of Silicon Alley, a tech-heavy district. Thirty-five employees spread among OVG’s facilities and global partnership divisions and Islanders sales staff will staff it.

Peter Luukko, co-chair of the Arena Alliance, a group of about 30 big league buildings doing business with OVG, and Evan Levine, vice president of OVG Global Partnerships, will head up the office. (Oak View Group is also the owner of VenuesNow.)

They’re working closely with Islanders owners Scott Malkin and Jon Ledecky to rebuild the team’s business operations, Luukko said.

Over the past five years, Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment, parent company of the Brooklyn Nets and Barclays Center, has run the Isles’ business side. The move came two years before the team began playing its home schedule at the Brooklyn arena.

That has begun to change after the development team of OVG, the Islanders and real estate firm Sterling Properties, owned by New York Mets owners the Wilpon family, won a bid in December to build a new arena as part of the state’s strategy to redevelop 113-year-old horse racing facility Belmont Park.

OVG New York is the first step toward consolidating those efforts.

“We’ll be assisting the Islanders to build up a staff for that transition and many of those people will be ‘officed’ here in Manhattan,” Luukko said. “We’ll be filling those positions through the transition period, which will be throughout [the 2018-19] season.”

The new arena is targeted to open for the 2021-22 season.

OVG will market and manage the new 18,000-seat arena, which includes selling premium seats, naming rights and founding partnerships, Luukko confirmed. The arena is part of a $1 billion project that also includes mixed-use development.

OVG plans to open a preview center in New York, but it has not been determined whether the center will be in Manhattan or Long Island, Levine said. The Islanders were founded in 1972 and played home games at Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, N.Y., for more than 40 years.

As part of the arena development deal, the Islanders have committed to playing about half of their home games at their rebuilt former home, NYCB Live: Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, over the next three seasons. They’ll play the balance of their home schedule at Barclays Center until they move to their new facility.

At this point, the development is going through government approvals. No date for groundbreaking has been established, Luukko said.

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Postcard From Tokyo
Posted: 22 May 2018, 8:05 pm

Views of the Imperial Palace grounds in Tokyo, which will be home to race walking competitions in the 2020 Olympics. (Tim Newcomb)

TOKYO – Scaffolding and netting climb the facade of new National Stadium in downtown Tokyo, a constant reminder that the Olympics come to Tokyo in two summers.

New isn’t necessarily the norm, however, for the 2020 Games, where the organizing committee has created two districts for competition. One, the Tokyo Bay Zone, will showcase what the committee calls a model for future development, but its counterpart, the Heritage Zone, will embrace history and feature several venues and sites built for the city’s first Summer Olympics experience, in 1964.

Nothing speaks to the history of Japan quite like using historic locations for Olympic venues, and nothing is more historic than Tokyo’s Imperial Palace, chosen as the race walk site for 2020.

A visit there shows why.

I ventured past the new Olympic stadium’s construction zone along the edge of a series of parks, traveling three miles to the edge of the Imperial Palace grounds, 280 acres filled with meandering waterways, gardens, tourists and, occasionally, guards blocking entrances to portions of the site. The parklike setting created a sense of freshness in the midst of bustling downtown Tokyo.

Just a few miles north of the famed Tokyo Tower, the Imperial Palace grounds allow the city to show off a major attraction, framing a non-marquee event in a setting that fans and athletes can relish. Add in that the northern edge of the grounds includes the Nippon Budokan arena, hosting judo for both 1964 and 2020, and visitors can experience a mix of culture and Olympics in the same visit. Just outside the grounds, the Tokyo International Forum, a multipurpose exhibition hall in the Yurakucho business district, offers a third venue tied closely with the Imperial Palace.

A walk through the palace grounds accentuates the wide-open spaces, the ability to house masses of people and the opportunity to embrace both athletes and fans in a meaningful gathering area that provides easy subway access to other locations.

“Imperial Palace Garden is an ideal venue for the race walking events at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games,” said Robert Korzeniowski, a member of the International Association of Athletics Federations' Race Walking Committee. “The beautiful settings will make the events even more appealing to the thousands of spectators who will line the streets. The athletes, meanwhile, will appreciate the flat and fast course. I have no doubt the race walking events in Tokyo will be memorable races.”

With race walkers heading past the natural landscape of Japan, through ornate gates and along the water’s edge and grassy areas full of trees, the choice of the location recalls beach volleyball at Horse Guards Parade in London or that same event at Copacabana in Rio de Janeiro four years later. It gives Tokyo a cultural marker tied directly to the Olympics, a cultural marker that also emphasizes the rich landscape of Japan.

Using sites such as the Nippon Budokan—it seats more than 14,000 and has been a frequent home to martial arts competitions and big-name concerts—and the Imperial Palace grounds, Tokyo brings its past into focus.

One area of its past that it wanted to reinvent was its National Stadium, used during the 1964 Games. After a decision to demolish and reconstruct the stadium, the Japan Sport Council opened a design competition. Zaha Hadid Architects won out among 46 finalists for its 80,000-seat venue with a futuristic design that drew harsh criticism from Japanese architects for being out of place in its park setting. Amid skyrocketing building costs, Hadid’s plans were dropped and a fresh contest named Japanese architect Kengo Kuma as the architect for a building holding over 60,000. His approach includes larch and cedar wood in a latticed timber stadium, a circular opening over the track and plants and trees on the stadium’s circulation areas that tie to the park. With the stadium seemingly hanging onto the edge of the park, partly spilling into the urbanized Tokyo, the effort to pull back a parklike setting also attempts to draw visitors into the network of parks in the area.

The delay in the design process pushed the 2019 Rugby World Cup out of the venue and has the timetable for completion now in 2020, directly ahead of the Olympics. As work continues at the site, which sits near both baseball and rugby stadiums, the bustling nature of an average Japanese weekday further heightens the concerns some locals have over the increased traffic and congestion brought by hosting the Olympics.

In a place where the subway system hires people to help push people into overcrowded cars during the commute’s rush hours, the Olympics will only draw more folks to a city of 13 million. So, while the Heritage Zone may bring together 1964 Tokyo with modern-day allure, it will be the Tokyo Bay Zone, an area full of reuse and reclaiming — venues reclaim waterfront property or even extend into the bay on artificial islands — that Tokyo hopes will boost development following the Olympics.

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Posted: 22 May 2018, 6:00 pm

Charli XCX, Camila Cabello and Taylor Swift performed during Swift's Reputation Tour at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif, on May, 19. (Christopher Polk/TAS18/Getty Images)

Taylor Swift’s reputation as the hottest act in live touring lived up to the hype after the teen darling went back on the road with her Reputation Tour and took the top three stops on our 15,000-capacity Hot Tickets chart this week. Two dates at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif., grossed $16,251,980, with 118,084 screaming teens and their parents attending. Tickets for the Messina Touring Group/AEG Presents-promoted shows ranged from $49.50 to $499.50. Swift’s other dates last week, at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif., where she played two shows, and University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz., pulled in similarly spectacular grosses of $14,006,963 and $7,214,478, respectively.

Playing to the teens is also working well for One Direction’s Harry Styles solo tour.
The UK-born boyband sensation grossed $1,004,682 playing one show at Brisbane Entertainment Centre in Boondall, Australia last week, with 10,658 attending. Ticket range was $76.71-$114.08. On-fire promoter Frontier Touring is producing the show Down Under.

HOT TICKETS is a weekly summary of the top events ranked by gross as reported to VN Pulse via Pollstar. Following are the top 20 concerts and events, the top 5 in each capacity category, that took place April 24-May 22.

More Than 15,000 Capacity

10,001-15,000 Capacity


5,000 or Less

1) Taylor Swift
Gross Sales:
$16,251,980; Venue: Rose Bowl, Pasadena, Calif.; Attendance: 118,084; Ticket Range: $499.50-$49.50; Promoter: Messina Touring Group, AEG Presents; Dates: May 18-19; No. of Shows: 2

2) Taylor Swift
Gross Sales: $14,006,963; Venue: Levi's Stadium, Santa Clara, Calif.; Attendance: 107,550; Ticket Range: $499.50-$49.50; Promoter: Messina Touring Group, AEG Presents; Dates: May 11-12; No. of Shows: 2

3) Taylor Swift
Gross Sales: $7,214,478; Venue: Univ. of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, AZ; Attendance: 59,157; Ticket Range: $499.50-$49.50; Promoter: Messina Touring Group, AEG Presents; Dates: May 8; No. of Shows: 1

4) "Corona Hell & Heaven"
Gross Sales: $6,931,842; Venue: Foro Sol, Mexico City; Attendance: 138,782; Ticket Range: $232.67-$40.46; Promoter: OCESA / CIE; Dates: May 4-5; No. of Shows: 2

5) Kenny Chesney
Gross Sales: $4,999,184; Venue: U.S. Bank Stadium, Minneapolis; Attendance: 48,255; Ticket Range: $260-$29; Promoter: Messina Touring Group, AEG Presents; Dates: May 5; No. of Shows: 1

1) Justin Timberlake
Gross Sales: $2,194,486; Venue: Infinite Energy Center, Duluth, GA; Attendance: 12,149; Ticket Range: $250-$49.50; Promoter: Live Nation Global Touring; Dates: May 11; No. of Shows: 1

2) Harry Styles
Gross Sales: $1,004,682; Venue: Brisbane Entertainment Centre, Boondall, Australia; Attendance: 10,658; Ticket Range: $114.08-$76.71; Promoter: Frontier Touring; Dates: Apr. 28; No. of Shows: 1

3) The Killers
Gross Sales: $956,077; Venue: Brisbane Entertainment Centre, Boondall, Australia; Attendance: 11,239; Ticket Range: $113.53-$68.09 ; Promoter: Frontier Touring; Dates: Apr. 19-22; No. of Shows: 8

4) Maluma
Gross Sales: $769,858; Venue: Mandalay Bay Events Center, Las Vegas; Attendance: 8,035; Ticket Range: $159-$59; Promoter: Cardenas Marketing Network (CMN); Dates: May 5; No. of Shows: 1

5) Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds
Gross Sales: $646,403; Venue: Metro Radio Arena, Newcastle upon Tyne, England; Attendance: 9,399; Ticket Range: $94.05-$47.02; Promoter: SJM; Dates: May 3; No. of Shows: 1

1) Luis Miguel
Gross Sales: $3,508,671; Venue: Auditorio Nacional, Mexico City; Attendance:38,047; Ticket Range: $25.26-$14.68; Promoter: In-house Promotion, OCESA / CIE; Dates: Apr. 24-28; No. of Shows: 4

2 Luis Miguel
Gross Sales: $2,549,264; Venue: Auditorio Nacional, Mexico City; Attendance:28,860; Ticket Range: $25.26-$14.68; Promoter: In-house Promotion; Dates: May 15-18; No. of Shows: 3

3) Cirque du Soleil - "Crystal"
Gross Sales: $865,381; Venue: CN Centre, Prince George, British Columbia; Attendance: 17,096; Ticket Range: $97.52-$27.30; Promoter: Cirque du Soleil; Dates: Apr. 25-29; No. of Shows: 8

4) Post Malone
Gross Sales: $603,282; Venue: Accesso ShoWare Center, Kent, Wash.; Attendance: 6,648; Ticket Range: $248-$59.50; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Apr. 29; No. of Shows: 1

5) Haim
Gross Sales: $601,867; Venue: Radio City Music Hall, New York; Attendance: 11,707; Ticket Range: $79-$33.50; Promoter: The Bowery Presents, AEG Presents; Dates: May 4-5; No. of Shows: 2

1) "Springsteen On Broadway," Bruce Springsteen
Gross Sales: $2,411,032; Venue: Walter Kerr Theatre, New York City; Attendance: 4,740; Ticket Range: $850-$75; Promoter: Thrill Hill Productions; Dates: May 8-12; No. of Shows: 5

2) "Jersey Boys"
Gross Sales: $1,094,624; Venue: Broward Ctr. Au-Rene Theater, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; Attendance: 14,676; Ticket Range: $90.25-$40.25; Promoter: In-house Promotion, Florida Theatrical Assn.; Dates: May 8-13; No. of Shows: 8

3) "Waitress"
Gross Sales: $1,093,394; Venue: Peace Center Concert Hall, Greenville, S.C.; Attendance: 12,702; Attendance: 14,874; Ticket Range: $95-$35; Promoter: In-house Promotion; Dates: May 8-13; No. of Shows: 8

4) "The Sound Of Music"
Gross Sales: $1,079,492; Venue: Wang Theatre - Boch Center, Boston; Attendance: 16,964; Ticket Range: $125-$35; Promoter: In-house Promotion; Dates: May 8-13; No. of Shows: 7

5) "The Sound Of Music"
Gross Sales: $1,028,873; Venue: Wang Theatre - Boch Center, Boston; Attendance: 18,770; Ticket Range: $125-$35; Promoter: In-house Promotion; Dates: May 1-6; No. of Shows: 8

The weekly Hot Tickets chart is compiled by Pollstar. For more information, email or click here to submit your Box Office data now.


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Cohl Joins Civilized Worldwide
Posted: 22 May 2018, 5:25 pm

MichaelCohl_200x145.jpgMichael Cohl.

Former Live Nation chairman and concert producer Michael Cohl has joined the board of Civilized Worldwide Inc. (Civilized) and is also an investing in the company.

Civilized Events produces branded experiences for the cannabis industry and consumers, from intimate dinner parties to large-scale events.

Cohl's career spans over 45 years as a producer and promoter for a broad range of entertainment properties, having worked with some of the most recognized artists in the industry including Frank Sinatra, Michael Jackson, The Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, U2, Prince, Stevie Wonder, Barbra Streisand and many more.

Cohl is a recipient of Emmy, Grammy, Tony and Juno Awards and was involved in the production of Broadway’s “Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark,” “Lion King,” “Spamalot,” “Rock of Ages,” “Hairspray,” “The Producers,” and “Bombay Dreams.”

Civilized is implementing its monetization strategy across its three platforms:, a news and entertainment website that reaches more than 2.5 million unique visitors per month; Civilized Studios, a multi-platform video network; and Civilized Events.


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Venue For Every Occasion
Posted: 22 May 2018, 4:00 pm

Crowds flock to Rod Laver Arena during the Australian Open. (B. Price / Courtesy Melbourne & Olympic Parks)

Rod Laver Arena opened in 1988 as the first multipurpose venue at Melbourne & Olympic Parks. Thirty years later, it’s joined by Hisense Arena, Margaret Court Arena and AAMI Park in the Melbourne, Australia, complex, which draws about 250 events and 2.5 million guests each year.

Maintaining its reputation as a showplace for both entertainment and sports — Melbourne Park is the site of the Australian Open each January, one of tennis’ four Grand Slam tournaments — means the effort to improve never ends, said Melbourne & Olympic Parks’ chief operating officer, Andrew Travis.

Rod Laver Arena holds nearly 15,000 people, Hisense Arena 10,500 and Margaret Court Arena about 7,500. They make up the primary courts for the Australian Open, and all have retractable roofs. AAMI Park has a capacity of just over 30,000.

This year, the Australian Open became the first Grand Slam to integrate a feature game from a second sport: A game between National Basketball League teams Melbourne United and the Cairns Taipans at Hisense Arena meant fans could buy one ticket Jan. 23 and watch both tennis and basketball.

“An event this size relies on our team constantly looking for how we can do things more efficiently and effectively to enhance the great customer experience,” Travis said. The 2018 edition of the tournament drew a record attendance of 743,667.

Melbourne Park also houses training, administration and the home field for its tenant sporting clubs and teams across A-League soccer, rugby league, rugby union, Australian Football League, netball and basketball. The venue has hosted the Commonwealth Games and a number of international championships, including the 2007 FINA World Championships, which involved building an Olympic-size swimming pool in Rod Laver Arena.

The range of Melbourne & Olympic Parks’ entertainment continues to expand and encompass concerts such as Beyoncé, Radiohead and Justin Timberlake and family shows such as Disney on Ice, Cirque Du Soleil and Monster Jam.

Among recent big shows: Paul McCartney played two shows at AAMI Park in December, and Margaret Court Arena broke attendance record as fans flocked to see Tash Sultana, also in December and four Bruno Mars shows in March.

Rod Laver Arena is undergoing a $338 million renovation, part of the $975 million Melbourne Park Redevelopment. The arena is being expanded with four annexes, which have been added to house new restaurants and bars; upgraded amenities; and improved disability access. One of the annexes will also become the arena’s new grand main entrance, and three specialty dining outlets have been added and have significantly reduced wait times while expanding
food and beverage choices, Travis said.

The event production facilities have also been upgraded with new retractable seating to ensure quick event turnarounds, an expanded loading dock, and new staging and rigging able to carry 100 tons of equipment without ground supports.

The makeover comes as the arena marks a milestone. Celebrating its 30th anniversary “is shaping up to be a standout campaign for us, and it’s only just beginning,” Travis said.

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PCL Construction Adds Koger, Birdsall
Posted: 22 May 2018, 1:00 pm

Dale Koger (left) and Gary Birdsall, now of PCL Construction, have worked together at Legends Global Development, Turner Construction and Clark Construction. (Courtesy PCL Construction)

Sports development executives Dale Koger and Gary Birdsall, who were project managers with Legends before leaving the company in the past three months, have joined PCL Construction.

Together they’re heading up PCL Sports Division, a new group within PCL Construction. Koger, with more than 40 years of experience tied to $20 billion in sports facilities, is the division’s vice president and general manager. Birdsall, with 32 years of experience, is a vice president.

At Legends Global Development, they served as owner’s representatives for the Los Angeles Stadium and Entertainment District at Hollywood Park, a combined $5 billion development that includes the new stadium for the NFL's Los Angeles Rams and Chargers, plus Banc of California Stadium, which Major League Soccer’s Los Angeles FC opened last month, among other projects.

PCL Construction built Banc of California Stadium, which at $350 million stands as North America’s most expensive soccer-specific venue. In Canada, PCL constructed Rogers Place, the Edmonton Oilers’ 2-year-old arena; Mosaic Stadium, a new Canadian Football League facility in Regina, Saskatchewan; and an expansion of BMO Field, the MLS stadium in Toronto, which underwent a retrofit to accommodate the CFL’s Argonauts.

PCL Construction’s corporate headquarters are in Edmonton and its U.S. home office is in Denver. PCL represents a group of independent construction firms that produce $6 billion in projects annually. Its international footprint extends from Canada and the U.S. to the Caribbean and Australia.

For 2017, PCL Construction placed eighth among the world’s top contractors ranked by Engineering News-Record, a construction industry trade publication. In U.S. sports alone, PCL ranked fifth last year, according to a list compiled by Building Design and Construction, another trade magazine.

Koger is familiar with PCL Construction after competing for projects against the firm when he was employed by Turner Construction from 2000 to 2014. At one point, Turner and PCL formed a joint venture to compete for Farmers Field, AEG’s NFL stadium project in downtown Los Angeles, which was announced in 2010 but later abandoned.

“We did some preconstruction services before that job was scrapped, so that’s really where I got to know PCL on an in-depth basis,” Koger said. “When I decided to make a change, they were the first people I contacted.”

Koger left Legends in February, and Birdsall departed the company two weeks ago, Koger said. They’ve been tied at the hip for more than 20 years, dating to Clark Construction in 1996. They worked together at Turner Construction for 10 years before moving to Legends four years ago.

“We had discussions [with PCL] of what it would mean for the two of us to come together,” Koger said. “We have different skill sets, very complementary. Gary and I have started a couple of other divisions in prior careers. It just seemed to make sense that we get together and start from Day One, and that’s exactly what we were able to do.”

Koger and Birdsall intend to grow PCL’s sports portfolio. A big part revolves around hiring the right people and collaborating with the right mix of consultants, Koger said.

Considering its home base and strength in Canada, the firm plans to compete for a major renovation of Rogers Centre, the Toronto Blue Jays’ 29-year-old retractable-roof stadium, he said.

PCL will also pursue major college sports projects, civic arenas and specialty work such as the 2028 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, where it has a strong presence. In addition to Banc of California Stadium, PCL built the Grammy Museum at L.A. Live and handled Hollywood Palladium renovations.

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Posted: 17 May 2018, 5:25 pm

Online retailer zappos has a history of innovation in its marketing and sponsorships, from portable outhouses with party amenities to yoga shoe racks. Its latest sponsorship, a naming-rights deal, sounds more traditional, but that innovation will continue, keyed to something else that Zappos is known for: customer service.

Zappos announced in late February that it had reached a five-year deal with Caesars Entertainment in Las Vegas to put its name on a 7,000-seat venue inside Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino. Financial details of the deal were not released.

The auditorium, now called Zappos Theater, is known as a home for residencies by big-name artists, which are produced by Live Nation. In May, for example, Jennifer Lopez is scheduled to play eight shows there and Pit Bull six. Gwen Stefani’s Las Vegas residency will begin there June 27.

“We know that the artists that are currently there and the artists that are coming in are excited about the Zappos partnership,” said Kristin Richmer, Zappos senior brand marketing manager.
Most of the Zappos branding will take place through placing the company’s name on merchandise, but the privately held e-commerce company also has big plans for putting its name on tickets (both printed and digital) and concessions, plus a smartphone app that Zappos is creating.

“By opening the Zappos app, you can order your Gwen Stefani T-shirt and have it delivered to your room,” Richmer said.

“Having our logo splashed in millions of different places isn’t our priority,” Richmer said. “It’s great to have our name on the Planet Hollywood theater, but we have to somehow elevate that to the customer experience.”

To do so, the theater, the hotel and Zappos are coming up with a system in which fans can order their merchandise and drinks through the app.

In the past, Zappos has helped other organizations enhance the fan experience.
For example, Zappos formally partnered with the annual San Francisco footrace Bay to Breakers, which needed more portable toilets on site.

Zappos engineers — or “fungineers,” as the company calls them — put their heads together and decided to create a Porta Party, a trailer that adds some unexpected features to the experience.
For example, the men’s urinal has 24 sensors where users can strike certain “notes” while doing their business, according to Zappos’ website. It also has a 40-inch waterproof TV monitor, a selfie corner, a Squatty Potty™ option and a prize dispenser when users wash their hands.
“It’s a fun experience. That was a solution to not having enough bathrooms,”  Richmer said
The Porta Party made a promotional stop at the 2017 Super Bowl. It’s now on a nationwide tour with Zappos Friends With Benefits roadshow, which aims to find animals forever homes. To date, Zappos has helped more than 18,000 animals find homes.

The company also partnered with Wanderlust Yoga Festivals from 2014 to 2016, creating shoe racks for hundreds of yoga participants at the festivals.

“Wanderlust is a large-scale yoga wellness festival,” said Jodi Blea, the senior vice president of integrated partnerships at Wanderlust. “We have a ton of shoes that are sitting outside the venue, and it doesn’t look nice to have shoes sit outside the tents.”

Blea had eyed Zappos for years, admiring their marketing partnerships.

“They were on our target list,” she said.

After the two companies formed a partnership, Zappos built the triangular shoe racks out of wood with the Zappos logo on the top. Each shelf on the rack had inspirational quotes, Blea said.

Zappos also built a 60-foot circular yurt called the Zappos Escape where yoga and wellness merchandise was sold. It had other amenities, including a hair braiding station.
Such creativity is what ignited Caesars to partner with Zappos, said Jason Gastwirth, president of entertainment for Caesars Entertainment.

“When seeking a partner for our groundbreaking theater at Planet Hollywood, it was important that our objectives were aligned,” Gastwirth wrote in an email. “Zappos is a brand synonymous with creativity and innovation. Their mission could not have better aligned with ours.”

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Posted: 17 May 2018, 5:00 pm

It was another great year for live touring in the Mid-Atlantic region, with bankable, high-quality acts bringing in the crowds, diversity providing entertainment for all, new food and beverage concepts stealing the show, additional POS stations adding revenue and costly capital improvements upping the fan experience.

Competition for shows is always fierce in the region, and last year was no exception.
Despite the battle for bands, the facility operators VenuesNow spoke with all agree it’s a healthy rivalry. With so much talent touring in 2017, there were enough big bookings to spread over the highly populated region.

“It was one of our strongest years ever at Barclays Center,” said Keith Sheldon, executive vice president for programming for Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment, which runs Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., and NYCB Live: Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale, N.Y. “We’ve been open five years, and we’re really getting a good understanding now about how to program the venue.”

Sheldon believes Brooklyn has become “the epicenter of youth culture, and Brooklyn’s grown up in many respects. The communities around Barclays Center have been identified as some of the most affluent in the region.

“This year was the culmination of our efforts to put ourselves on the map; we had a phenomenal year. We’re solidifying Barclays Center as the destination for hip-hop, pop, alternative rock, and local artists.

“We’re focused on the big event business, the biggest names and marquee events, like Ed Sheeran, Bruno Mars, Jay-Z, Barbra Streisand, Paul McCartney and the only New York play of J. Cole and The Weeknd.”

Sheldon was especially pleased with how well hip-hop plays at the venue. “It’s a natural fit,” he said. “We’ve become the premier place for hip-hop artists, and they’re gravitating toward Barclays Center as an aspirational place to play.”

A “spectacular event” was the 25th anniversary of WWE’s Monday Night Raw. “WWE choosing Barclays Center for that event was a truly special moment for us,” he recalled. “They’ve been around 25 years and we’ve only been around five years.”

The boxing program continues to excel and thrive, Sheldon said, citing the Keith Thurman-Danny Garcia championship fight, which drew a crowd of more than 16,500, as one of the highlights of the year. “This really spoke to what we’ve created here,” he said.

F&B is provided by Levy. This year, the facility introduced Major Foods Group restaurant Parm. “It’s already been named one of the 101 best places to eat in America by Newsweek,” he said. Sheldon was also pleased with the continued success of the Taste of Brooklyn concept, which features local fare and is available through the concourses. “The ‘Taste’ is a huge hit,” he said. “The fans love tapping into Brooklyn flavor.”

BSE took over NYCB Live in April last year after a $165 million renovation.  Billy Joel played the first concert; Idina Menzel, Metallica, Stevie Nicks and Barbra Streisand soon followed.
“One the great things we were able to do was cross-promote NYCB Live and Barclays Center,” Sheldon said. “By being aggressive and getting in front of the information we’ve been able to enhance both calendars simultaneously.”

“The nice thing about Long Island is that it’s in the N.Y. DNA, but it’s its own separate and distinct market. For a long time that market has been underserved,” he said. “Given that it’s more suburban, it’s more accessible for families and we’ve seen our family show business thrive.”

Cirque du Soleil, Disney on Ice and Marvel Universe Live are some of the family shows NYCB Live hosted last year. The venue also had the honor of hosting the last-ever show of Feld Entertainment’s Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. “The end of the circus was historic; it was such an honor to be chosen as the last stop for a beloved institution.” Sheldon said.

“This past year has been one of the most meaningful 12-month periods in the history of the company,” Sheldon said. “For the first time we are more than just Barclays Center. The introduction of the new building has really solidified our presence on the venues-operator landscape.”

Levy is also the concessionaire at NYCB Live, and BSE introduced a Taste of Long Island in a similar fashion to the Brooklyn concept.

BSE also introduced the Long Island Love marketing campaign, which saw partnerships with major shopping malls and the Long Island Rail Road. “The campaign highlights the vibrancy of the Long Island market, and it’s strengthening our connection to the community and creating a new asset for agents and promoters to amplify their presence whenever they are in town.” he said.

“We feel like there’s been a snowball effect,” he said. “The calendar looks terrific for the rest of the year.”

Lynn Freida, executive director of the Constellation Brands-Marvin Sands Performing Arts Center, known as CMAC, was happy to report that “2017 was the best season that we’ve ever had.”

Sold-out shows headlined by Luke Bryan, Tom Petty, Sam Hunt, The Who, and Dave Matthews and Tim Reynolds brought in more than 115,000 patrons at the Canandaigua, N.Y., venue. “Rock and country play really well here,” she said. Tickets ranged from $25 to $150.
Paying attention to show spending and fine-tuning outlays was a cost-cutter for CMAC in 2017. “We really took a look at where we could save the pennies. Those pennies add up,” she said.
Freida was especially proud of the sustainability initiatives the venue has put in place. “We’re a nonprofit venue and we really take our mission to be part of the community seriously,” she said. The facility diverted 75 percent of its waste last year and switched water companies to Just Water, a company that uses biodegradable paper bottles instead of single-use plastic.

Another positive initiative was partnerships with local restaurants. “Patrons could stop for dinner and get shuttled over to the venue for the show,” she said. “Then they get shuttled back to their car at the end of the night. It’s been super successful.”

CMAC switched concessionaires last year, moving to Best Beverage from SMG/Savor “From an aesthetic point of view, Best Beverage brought in new tents that now gives us a cozy-venue feeling,” she said. “There are more POS terminals, and that’s cut down on lines.”

The best day at the venue last year was hosting Tom Petty. “We’ve been trying to get him to come for 10 years,” she said. The worst day was when a tornado touched down a mile and a half from the venue about an hour before the Sam Hunt show was to begin. “Our parking lots got washed away, some of the roads got destroyed, and Sam Hunt was in the middle of the lake. Luckily, we all acted quickly and the show went off without a hitch.”

Despite the tornado, Freida said “it was a wonderful year for us all around.”

Mike Landeen, senior vice president of operations for Citi Field in Queens, N.Y., said the home of the New York Mets “did very well last year. We had six concerts, the NHL Winter Classic and, of course, the Mets. We were definitely up from the previous year.”

Landeen attributes the boost to a “great year of touring” and stressed that the 42,000-capacity stadium is often hard to program because “there’s only a handful of artists and acts that can fill the seats. Given the economics of it, the stadium has to sell out to make a date here viable for everyone involved. It takes great artists to do that.”

Acts that managed to pull it off included Dead & Company, two nights of Live Nation-promoted Lady Gaga and Classic East, which featured Fleetwood Mac and The Eagles.

F&B is provided by Aramark, which added several concepts last year, including Lil’ Sweet Chick, which serves classic chicken and waffles; Wowfuls, a Hong Kong waffle and ice cream experience; Baked Cheese Haus, which offers Alpine brats and Swiss dogs; and Chomp Donut Co., which serves mini-doughnuts.

“F&B did exceptionally well last year,” Landeen said. “The Dead & Company fans are a crowd that likes to drink and eat and have a good time; Classic East’s demographic, 40s-60s, was great from an economic standpoint. There were three acts per day, with three intermissions, which led to massive F&B sales.”

Capital improvements included a “seven-figure upgrade to our highest-level club, now called First Data Club. We renovated it, built out the space and it’s a significant increase to our offering for the highest-paying fans,” he said. The club is all-inclusive and members can also “go around the ballpark and get whatever you want from any stand and it’s included in your ticket price.”
Citi Field also refreshed all its suites with all new TVs, furniture and carpet and renovated its Citi Pavilion and its Bud light Landing, which are both group spaces. “Adding more group space was a priority last year; looking forward, we think fans want these types of spaces, and they are also flexible.”

Landeen said Classic East was his best day last year; his worst was “the stress that came with NHL (Winter) Classic. It was a record cold day in New York, and we were dealing with operating the full bowl in those extreme temperatures.”

Citi Field also hosted several movie and TV shoots last year, including HBO movie “Paterno” and Showtime series “Billions.”

Frank Remesch, general manager of SMG-managed Royal Farms Arena in Baltimore, said, “We are tracking slightly better over last year, with two months remaining in our fiscal year, which ends June 30” and cited “better-quality bookings” as the main reason for the bump.

“The great thing about Baltimore is that its strength lies in its diversity of shows, and we sell out every single genre,” he said.

A great cost-cutter was “the mutual separation from our soccer team (Baltimore Blast), which ultimately led to more premium dates opening up on the calendar. Fridays and Saturdays are the waterfront property of real estate, and with the departure of the team, more Fridays and Saturdays became available and better-quality, high-profile events poured in,” Remesch said.
Filling in those dates were Blake Shelton, Tim and Faith, Kevin Hart, Katt Williams, WWE, and Def Leppard and Journey.  Family shows included a “phenomenal run of Marvel Live.”
Naturally, hosting more premium events generated higher per caps, he said, and consequently F&B sales were up. Adding more POS stations produced great results. “We introduced microbrews and fresh-squeezed Orange Crush beverages to our crowd-pleasing standards,” he said. “Backstage catering was up overall as well,”

Additionally, Royal Farms Arena added outdoor experiences — festivals and most recently Jimmy Buffett. “A personal triumph of mine was landing Jimmy Buffett,” he explained. “It took me 15 years to convince him to play Baltimore. It was on my bucket list, and when it came to fruition, it was like I ended up catching the white whale.”

Capital improvements included a VIP lounge area, a wet bar and an enormous bathroom.  “For the first time we have a press lounge and have remodeled all the dressing rooms and installed new polymer floors throughout the venue,” he said. “Additionally, we painted the entire venue ceiling flat black, which makes for a better theatric experience for lasers and strobe lights.  Not to be overlooked, the building hosts all new transformers and power throughout the arena.”
This summer, Royal Farms Arena will install a rolling stage. “Production managers have been telling us about the benefits of a rolling stage,” he said. “It’s more forgiving when rigging, and it helps to offset production costs.”

The arena also added new state-of-the-art chillers and cooling towers and replaced 4,100 third-level seats.

Remesch is not afraid of dark days. “I see the dark days as an opportunity to reset my staff and our building, as well as to enhance and reflect on the overall promoter and fan experience,” he added. “The arena business is hard to predict. We don’t make widgets.  We are at the mercy of promoters, touring acts, the economy and politics.”

Ron VanDeVeen, president and CEO of MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., said, “2017 was very strong.”

The venue drew over 2 million fans to 56 major events including 20 NFL games (both the New York Giants and Jets play at MetLife Stadium), six major concerts, international soccer, Monster Jam, Supercross and the International Indian Film Academy Festival.

Concessionaire Delaware North Sportservice introduced several new concepts, including the Fat Rooster Hot Chicken Sandwich for the 2017 football season. To complement the sandwich, four types of hand-cut fries were added to the menu. In the club spaces, a mac and cheese bar, with multiple toppings, was initiated.

Global Pies, which sells empanadas, was introduced for the Copa America Centenario soccer games in 2016 and was so popular it was added it to the permanent menu in 2017.

MetLife Stadium is installing a state-of-the-art POS system on nearly 1,000 terminals throughout the stadium, which will provide faster transaction speeds, accept more types of payments and allow for greater flexibility for back-of-house functionality.

VanDeVeen said that one of the biggest challenges occurred in December, when it snowed on three consecutive Saturdays in advance of Sunday afternoon NFL games. “We had 6 inches of snowfall the day before a 1 p.m. Giants-Dallas game,” he said. “Our operations team brought in 650 shovelers to clear out the snow and ice from the bowl, field and parking lots.”

VanDeVeen is excited about the rest of the year at the facility. “We are currently participating in the bid process for the 2026 FIFA World Cup.  We just announced that WrestleMania 35 will return to MetLife Stadium in 2019 and we will host the Army-Navy Football Classic in 2021. We just announced two International Champions Cup soccer games, Manchester City-Liverpool and Real Madrid-AS Roma.

“We have 10 concerts coming up, including three for Taylor Swift and two for Ed Sheeran and Beyonce and Jay-Z, our sixth annual Kenny Chesney show, Luke Byran and we will be celebrating 25 years of Hot 97 Summer Jam.”

Prudential Center has become “the home of K-Pop on the East Coast,” according to the arena’s executive vice president, Sean Saadeh.  “We’ve been the place to go for all things K-Pop, known as ‘hallyu’ in the K-Pop world, for a few years now,” said Saadeh. “And it’s a genre that continues to grow for us.”

Bergen County, N.J., which is just a county over from Prudential Center in Newark, has a “huge Korean population” and that’s one of the reasons Saadeh believes K-Pop is thriving at the building. “But it’s not just Koreans who come to K-Pop events,” he said. “The demographics show that about one-half of the K-Pop ticket buyers are not Asian.”

In 2017, Prudential Center hosted K-Pop boy band Exo and annual two-day convention KCON, which will return for its fourth year at Prudential Center June 23-24. Last year the event pulled in 43,000 K-Pop fans.

“It’s an incredible event with incredible energy,” Saadeh said. “KCON is a festival, with performances, exhibits, interactive activities, beauty contests, multiple panels and speakers, and K-food brought in on K-Trucks.”

The K-Trucks serve kimchi, Korean BBQ, bulgogi burgers, sticky spare ribs and pajeon.
Because the K-Pop events attract a younger demo, Saadeh said that F&B per caps “are usually lower than a non-K-Pop event.”

Social media engagement, however, is up at K-Pop events. “We had 1.76 million Twitter impressions just for the announcement of (K-Pop group) BTS this year and 2.1 million impressions during the 2017 show,” he said. “These are the biggest social media numbers Prudential Center has ever seen for an event here.”

Tickets to KCON range from $50 to $150 for a day pass and $90 to $270 for the entire weekend.
Then BTS, considered the biggest K-Pop group in the world, will play Prudential Center Sept. 28-29.

“The K-Pop events keep growing,” Saadeh said. “And we’re happy to host them and be known as the go-to venue for hallyu.”

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Posted: 17 May 2018, 5:00 pm

Steve_Miller_comp_3.jpgThere are plenty of rooms big and small where you can play guitar in the world, and Rock & Roll Hall of Famer Steve Miller, a prolific touring artist, has taken the stage at a lot of them. As he prepared to go out on the road again with fellow ’70s superstar Peter Frampton, Miller spoke with Ray Waddell about some of his favorite stops and why “there are very few bad gigs.”

You’ve played every kind of scenario, every kind of venue. Do you have a favorite place to play, favorite type of venue?
I have a lot of favorite venues, because there’s so many great venues now. It used to be there weren’t so many great venues. I used to really love playing in the Fillmore, and I used to really love playing at the Avalon Ballroom. It was very comfortable there, it sounded good. When we were doing the ballrooms, those all worked really nicely. I like hockey arenas. They’re great for rock and roll guitar. They hold, like, 7,000 people. It’s always fun to play lead guitar in a hockey arena.
That’s kind of the birthplace of arena rock.
Yeah. Absolutely. That’s where it comes from. When you finally get a PA that sounds good in one of those big, echoey, cement-y kind of joints, when you’re in a hockey arena and you go out and you hit the E chord and it rumbles the stage, you’re bad to the bone. That’s how it feels.
I love playing outdoors. I like the sheds because they’re outside. The sheds, most all of them have great sound. Yeah, Red Rocks is absolutely beautiful. Unfortunately, I can’t even remember the names of them anymore because they’ve changed their names so many times. I love playing in San Francisco, I love playing in Boston. Love playing in L.A. Love playing in New York.  I love playing in Atlanta. I like playing in Florida. I can’t wait to go to Texas. Chicago’s really great, Missouri and St. Louis, Nebraska. I love ’em all, man. There’s great places, and I’ve got great audiences who have stood by us and have enjoyed our shows and supported us over the years. There are very few bad gigs. Every now and then, you end up at someplace and go, “Who booked this?” But very rarely does that happen.

What would make a bad gig, where you show up at the venue and say, “Oh, no”?
The first thing is the crowd, the way the audience is situated. The way the audience is being treated. If it’s being done in a way that the crowd isn’t being treated well, or they’re not comfortably seated, or they can be standing but if it’s a bad situation and there’s security that weighs 300 pounds and is hopped up on coke and wants to beat somebody up, that’s a bad gig.
I’ll stop that stuff right away, because I can see everything from the stage. We’ve played some gigs where there was really bad behavior by the building people in the unions there. They all got busted and arrested and eventually sued by lots of different groups and everything. A bad promoter can cause a lot of damage.

But at this point, I doubt you’re running into a lot of that, right? You’ve worked with most of these guys for years.
Yeah. We know all the locals, and generally we don’t run into problems like that. Every now and then there will be something that comes up where somebody’s promoting a show and they’re going to do something, or it’s some guys who are doing a festival. You get there and go, “Uh-oh.” Generally, my guys will suss it all out, but every now and then it happens. It’s not a perfect world.

Has your rider changed a lot over the years?
No, it’s been pretty much the same forever. We don’t really have much of a rider. We like to have a clean dressing room. We like real dishes and not paper plates and plastic cups for the crew. Towels. We’re just real straightforward. Generally, when we show up, our crew is very easy, it’s real professional and quick and smooth and easy. There’s usually not much trouble when we show up. 

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Posted: 17 May 2018, 5:00 pm

According to a white paper put together by ticketing company Eventbrite and payment company Square, the top pain points for venuegoers are long lines and slow service. 

The report further suggests that cashless payments will dominate as soon as a year from now and the future will see people using everything from their phones to watches, radio frequency identity wristbands, smart rings, clothes and even their cars to make mobile payments, making cash and bulky credit cards a thing of the past as the preferred way to pay.

Mobile payments use near-field communication, a technology that allows two devices (like a phone and a payments terminal) to “talk to” each other when they’re within close range.
Data security is always an issue; 29 percent of the people surveyed mentioned they are made uneasy by the threat of payment fraud. The white paper proposed that cashless payments are more secure. “Whether you’re paying with a phone or with a RFID wristband, these payments are dynamically encrypted, which means they’re one of the most secure ways to pay,” the report said.

The findings also included data that stated millennials are more likely to adapt to mobile payments, with 45 percent of that group already using mobile payment options while 26 percent of nonmillennials are onboard.

Most interesting to venue operators may be these two findings: Attendees using cashless payments spend two times more than those using regular payment methods, and two-thirds of event professionals plan to incorporate more mobile options in 2018.

“Cashless payments create a better experience for attendees,” said Gilad Horev, vice president of product and platform at Eventbrite, in the report. “Attendees prefer not having to bring cash or credit cards to an event. When payments can be completed with a simple tap, lines move faster, giving eventgoers more time to enjoy the event.

“As a business owner, you want a payments partner that you trust to keep up, so that when paying with a wristband or a phone at an event is the norm, you’re not left behind.”
Simply put, according to Horev, cashless payments can increase your revenue.

“We have used RFID bracelets and are working on phone payments,” said Keith Goldberg, chief revenue officer for box office software provider Vendini. “RFID has had great adoption and we expect the phone to be terrific as well. The customer experience is easier and faster.”

Goldberg said that as a consumer he’s seeing mobile payment options overtake cash.  “Whatever the form, people are moving more towards mobile payments,” he said. “Phone is the preferred method of online purchasing at this point, and no one wants to try to enter a credit card on a mobile phone for every purchase.”

He also agrees with the assessment that millennials are more likely to choose a mobile payment option over a nonmillennial. “We see more adoption of alternative payments, whether Apple Pay or solutions like Venmo (a mobile consumer-to consumer banking platform) with millennials,” Goldberg said.

“There is naturally an easier adoption with a new generation as they have never even used some ‘older’ payment technologies,” he said. “My son would never even think to pay a friend in cash. Venmo is easier, faster, with no worries about change.”

He suggested that services like Uber and Lyft that require mobile payments have created a faster path for adoption.

Goldberg also agreed that fraud is actually lower in mobile payments because it is harder to get someone’s phone or thumbprint or reproduce facial recognition than creating a fake card or acquiring a credit card number.

Phil Campbell, founder of London-based Kerv Wearables, started his company in 2015 after a long career in digital payments. Its biggest seller is the Kerv Smart Ring, which allows a user to upload funds to a prepaid Mastercard and then use the ring for mobile payments.

“Wearables are on the rise,” Campbell said. “Apple Pay and Fitbit have led the charge toward cashless payments. People, especially millennials, have been getting more and more comfortable using these options.”

Kerv’s rings sell for 99 pounds, or a little over $136, with a second ring costing about half that amount. “We make our money from the sale of the rings,” said Campbell, “plus we get a small transaction fee from every purchase.”

Embedded in the rings is an NFC chip and an antenna. “We put the 16-digit account number on the chip, along with the expiration date, and it works exactly like it would with a hard credit card.”

Campbell said while no product is immune from hacking, he’s confident they have built in security measures that make the effect of it less traumatic for the end user.

“The user can turn the ring on and off in the app and block it in 10 seconds,” he said. “The bigger problem for a wearable is the user losing it.”

While mobile payments are still in their infancy, and data shows that only a slight fraction of purchases made today use the technology, Campbell is convinced that mobile payments “will soon be the norm.”

Going forward, Campbell envisions wearables also being used to store a ticket. “These types of devices have a huge potential for the venue world,” he said. “Contactless is quick, easy and shortens lines. We’ve already been in touch with venues about putting tickets on the devices so fans can show up at a show with nothing but a ring on their finger.”

Kerv currently has wearable watch straps and key fobs in trials. “More and more companies will be bringing out different mobile payment choices. The variations on the idea are endless,” he said.

Endless indeed. William Hernandez, editor of Mobile Payments Today, predicts one of the biggest mobile payment options already here and on the verge of mass adoption is going to be paying with your car. “Carmakers are already putting in sensors that will store your account number, and you’ll soon be able to go through the drive-through and your dashboard activates the sensor and pays without you doing a thing.”

“It’s all about your lifestyle,” he said. “People today want the ability to choose how they are going to pay. Mobile payments are taking off, adoption is growing at a rapid rate, and we’re all going to find ourselves in a cashless world quite soon. And, why not? Who wants to carry around a wallet when all you have to do is flash your phone or wave at a sensor?”

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Posted: 17 May 2018, 5:00 pm

Venue operators in the Deep South are expressing optimism for the overall industry climate in their region, while acknowledging the continuing challenges of keeping up to date with the ever-changing expectations of customers, performers and others in the industry. Managers of both historic and more recently constructed venues say they are forever searching for ways to update their programs, practices and physical facilities to stay ahead of industry trends.

Fortunately, most venue representatives say the economic conditions and fan demand in their localities have proved favorable to supporting growth and packed houses. For instance, Alan Freeman, GM of Mercedes-Benz Superdome, Smoothie King Center and Champions Square in New Orleans for SMG, said the city is “very much on the upswing” with its concert schedule. Freeman attributes the good fortune to promoter Live Nation’s decision to establish an office in New Orleans and place a new focus on the region.

“That’s been a huge, huge plus for us and not just for our buildings,” Freeman said. “Overall, the content in our part of the country from Live Nation has grown substantially. I think that’s caught the attention of some other folks who are also working the market very hard, doing as much as they possibly can here now. All in all, we’re sitting in a pretty good place right now.”
Freeman said 2018 has offered a jolt of excitement for his venues so far and the rest of the year promises to bring more. The surprising NBA playoff success of the New Orleans Pelicans, who had not notched a postseason victory in seven years until this spring, brought a particular shot of adrenaline to Smoothie King Center and the city, he said. Looking ahead, Freeman points to some major concerts on the calendar, such as a Beyoncé and Jay-Z show in the Superdome on Sept. 13, followed closely by a Taylor Swift performance there Sept. 22 — all in the middle of the New Orleans Saints’ season.

Freeman said his group continues to work with agents and promoters to try to pace the schedule and spread dates across the year more evenly, but he knows that’s a tough goal to target. When the schedule bunches together, he said, managing the sale dates becomes as important as managing the event dates.

Freeman said New Orleans is enjoying a solid economy and remains a top-notch tourist destination, which aids the city’s performance venues. He noted that WWE’s WrestleMania came to New Orleans in 2018, holding four events at the Smoothie King Center and the main event at the Superdome. Freeman said an analysis of the audiences found that attendees came from 50 states and about 60 countries.

“The fact that New Orleans is such a destination city makes our job a little bit easier,” Freeman said.

BancorpSouth Arena in Tupelo, Miss., has seen some recent big changes to its facilities, and more are on the way. Arena managers installed 1,700 retractable seats in the venue’s lower bowl, making changeovers easier and increasing the comfort level for guests, according to Todd Hunt, executive director of the BancorpSouth Arena and Conference Center. In addition, Hunt said arena operators are in the selection process for architects to design a proposed $14 million renovation and expansion that would add new premium seats to the arena.

“Hopefully, we’ll be in the midst of construction at this time next year,” Hunt said.
Hunt said Tim McGraw and Faith Hill, Jason Aldean, Chicago and Alice Cooper highlighted the 2017 concert schedule, and “Disney on Ice Presents Frozen” set records for the venue for attendance and gross ticket sales. Despite a slow second quarter to 2018, Hunt said the year has had its early standouts, including Monster Jam and Disney Live events setting house records, and the schedule for the summer and fall appears promising.

“It seems that fans are willing to pay more than we ever thought possible for quality entertainment experiences,” Hunt said. “We’re very excited about the current state of the industry.”

CenturyLink Center in Bossier City, La., has major changes on the horizon, said Rebecca Bonnevier, general manager of the arena.

“We are in the process of updates to our arena of about $10 million and will include new seating, new concessions areas, new LED displays, new roof, new equipment and a refresh to our restrooms,” Bonnevier said. “There will also be quite a bit of behind-the-scenes improvements to sound, lights and climate control.”

Bonnevier said Bossier City’s City Council passed an ordinance that charged a $3 renovation fee as part of the price of each ticket to events in CenturyLink Center. The fee was created due to the arena’s age — it was built in 2000 — and need for improvements. Bonnevier said the fee initially gave pause to promoters.

“However, now, after several months and many successful shows, we see that the fee has not hindered ticket sales,” Bonnevier said. “Because this is such a solid market, the promoters are booking shows again.”

In an attempt to deliver top-notch customer service, CenturyLink Center makes sure to engage with visitors and encourage feedback.

“A positive customer experience is vital to our success,” Bonnevier said. “We survey our guests after each show and adapt our processes and implement changes to improve our customers’ experiences. Our ratings are above average, and, in some cases, have set the benchmarks for other venues in the industry.”

Iron City, Birmingham, Ala., is increasingly capitalizing on the versatility of its facility, said Todd Hagerty, its GM. The venue routinely hosts big-name performing artists, such as Kesha (who kicked off her tour at Iron City after four years off the road), Demi Lovato and Hanson in 2017, but it also welcomes smaller, more intimate affairs.

“Our private events, especially weddings and wedding receptions, are very strong this year,” Hagerty said. “Our venue has the amazing ability to shift from the scene of a sold-out rock show to a corporate function to a beautiful, elegant wedding at the drop of a hat — and with never skimping on quality, attention to detail or any other attribute of client satisfaction.”
Iron City made a number of technology-based improvements to its facility last year that were designed to improve the guest experience.

“We added additional L’Acoustic front-fill speakers to improve the sound quality, especially in our pit,” Hagerty said. “We replaced several TV monitors and added four monitors in our mezzanine/premier seating area. The major upgrade was in lighting, with a purchase of additional lights and a new lighting console to a GrandMA 2 Lite. We were able to completely change the layout and our light package.”

Shreveport (La.) Municipal Auditorium has a storied history that dates back to its opening in the 1920s. The facility, which seats about 3,000, has been host to many legends over the years, including a young Elvis Presley, who made his performance debut on the stage in 1954. With that distinguished past in mind, Sam Voisin, regional general manager for SMG, which manages the auditorium, said venue operators seek to provide a culturally rich calendar of artists. Performers are drawn to the venue’s prestigious history and strong acoustics, Voisin said.
Highlights from 2017 included three sold-out shows for Kevin Hart and performances by Boston, Alabama Shakes, Alice Cooper, Dancing With the Stars, Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit, and Kansas, among others.

Voisin said among the efforts that particularly excite him this year is that the auditorium is bringing new comedy acts to town, such as  Eddie B.’s “Teachers Only Tour” and Heather Land’s “I Ain’t Doin It” tour in 2018.

Voisin said the venue’s operators seek to host an eclectic mix of performers to ensure that the arena’s schedule remains fresh.

“We continue to target hot new country artists, new comedy shows, classic rock and R&B as well as legendary artists,” Voisin said.

“And we are always looking for the next big family show,” he said.

The venue completed a $5.3 million renovation in 2014 that included new flooring and seating, among several other improvements. Voisin said the renovation “has put us in a more marketable and attraction position, not only for our ticket buyers but also for our promoters.”

Music festivals are an essential part of the cultural vibrancy of New Orleans, said Alan Freeman, general manager of the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, the Smoothie King Center and Champions Square. However, he said, the city’s festivals, which include the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, the Voodoo Festival and the Essence Festival (held in part at the Superdome), among others, also create a challenge for venues.

Radius clauses in performers’ festival contracts can prevent them from booking area shows for a period before and after the festival. “It takes a few arena-level shows out of a circulation for a year or more,” Freeman said. “It’s not the fact that we’re necessarily competing against other venues, but it’s the festival business that we have to navigate as much as anything that makes it interesting down here.”

The festivals’ popularity, however, are among the signs of the city’s appeal.
“It’s just a fun place to visit for anybody, and if people can take in some music while they’re there, then it’s all the better,” he said.

New Orleans isn’t the only locale where festivals can create stiff tests for venues. Todd Hagerty, general manager of Iron City in Birmingham, Ala., said the summer months performed below average for the venue in 2017, and it was not a surprise.

“Summertime is always our biggest challenge,” Hagerty said. “Birmingham is surrounded by many great music festivals, and radius clauses make it almost impossible to book the bands that are playing those festivals.”

The festivals are part of an improving music scene in Birmingham that Hagerty calls “a good problem to have.”

“The biggest challenge for our industry is competing for the entertainment budget of our guest,” he said. “There are lots of incredible options for entertainment that the public can choose from.”

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Posted: 17 May 2018, 5:00 pm

Driverless cars are coming — quickly — and forward-looking venue owners and operators are starting to envision a world where sharing a vehicle will likely be more popular than owning one and their parking lots will be empty.

Andy Cohen, co-CEO of the architecture firm Gensler, is one of the first to address the coming changes and has been urging fellow architects, urban planners and city leaders to visualize and prepare for a shared, autonomous future.

“People are always asking, ‘How is this going to happen?’” Cohen said. “But it’s already happening.”

Cohen estimated that parking spaces now take up one-half or more of the total space venues occupy. Perhaps more important, the money those spaces generate is an important revenue stream.

But venue owners need not fear the future, Cohen said. “The space will be reassigned to retail, restaurants and other entertainment district offerings,” he predicted, adding that savvy architects are already installing utility hookups in parking garages in anticipation of the eventual reimagining of the areas for retail or office space.

The other big difference, Cohen said, will be how venue entrances are designed.
“When people don’t need to enter via a parking garage, the front door for these businesses will change, incorporating better pedestrian, bike and transit infrastructure,” he said. “Entertainment centers will have to enhance and redesign new drop-off circles for people to meet their on-demand vehicles — often replacing the parking spaces that are no longer needed. This transforms the relationship of the building to the street. Everyone is going to get dropped off in front in the future.”

Keith Sheldon, executive vice president of programming for Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment, called parking lots “unique space” and said, “We’re very entrepreneurial and have a lot of great partners we could tap into new ideas and way of doing business.” Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment runs Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., and NYCB Live: Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale, N.Y.

Sheldon said his company is already anticipating a parking paradigm shift and suggested events such as festivals, tent shows, the state fair and movie nights could move in if the need for parking diminished.

“We’re presently not just thinking about parking vehicles,” he said. “BSE is in conversations with our partners, who would be very much interested in helping the venues grow outside.
“We want to bring the local community to our properties and create opportunities in all the spaces we have on the properties, and we are cognizant that the needs change as time and technology move forward.”

Rob Svedberg, principle for architecture firm Tvsdesign, agreed with Cohen’s assessment.
“In the near term the autonomous car is going to create challenges to existing structures,” he said. “We’re already seeing this with ride-share companies like Lyft and Uber that are disrupting traditional parking needs. This has created logistical challenges, where a new mode has come to exist rather than replacing an old mode.”

Svedberg said that he’s confident the demand for parking is going to fall dramatically as the driverless car and shared car concepts evolve.

“It won’t be the same for every building,” he said.  “The speed at which fans adapt to new ways of getting to venues will not be the same at every facility, but things we talk to clients about now are that if you are going to build a parking structure today, you must think about what it can turn into later.”

Svedberg used the master plan for the Boston Convention Center, which underwent a recent renovation, as an example. “We highly suggested that they should put in a parking deck with higher floor-to-floor and external ramps that could be easily changed if parking demand went away and be converted into something else like an office, hotel or residential dwelling.

“This is a conversation we are having with all our new clients,” he said. “I believe fundamentally that shared cars will reshape how our cities are managed. With any disruptive change, there’s going to be some near-term complications and chaos that it’s going to create.”
One of the things designers are seeing with the rise of ride-hailing services is the increased congestion created as those cars join personal vehicles, shuttles and taxis.

Also, with more electric cars on the road, there must be a place for them to be charged. How it all gets organized “will have a lot of impact on how this plays out,” Svedberg said.
We are “two to three years out from mass use of shared vehicles,” he said, and pointed to the driverless shuttle bus that runs along Fremont Street in Las Vegas. “Once these pilot projects move up we’ll all start adapting to the new way of getting around a city.”

And the changes won’t stop there. “When it becomes cheaper to have shared cars drop people off and move on to the next passenger it will replace shuttles and city buses as well,” Svedberg said. “Everything will change once the driverless car/shared car way of life takes over, and wise venues will be prepared.”

Ideas and suggestions on live event safety, security and crowd management from Prevent Advisors.

Inside the United States we still consider terrorism to be a low-volume but high-consequence threat, though the strategies you put in place to stay on the prevent side of the equation will have a positive effect on all crimes and hazards.

There is a greater need to have appropriate trip wires, campaigns to report suspicious activities, refined emergency/security plans, and a focus on hardening both the inner and outer core of business establishments. 

There are not enough resources to surveil everyone, and in some cases laws that no longer allow it.  The consequence of the degradation in Syria and Iraq is the decentralization of the fanatic adversary across the world.  Today’s threats are greater than yesterday’s and continue to evolve at alarming rates.

Our challenge to effectively combat terrorist threats lies with a hybrid model, where communities, private sector, businesses and a strong network of venue operations partner, train, equip and coordinate with state, local, and federal government.

Stadiums, arenas, hotels, malls, and any other venue attracting high volumes of people are targets that must be hardened with strategies that support an eye toward prevention.

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Posted: 17 May 2018, 5:00 pm

With the weather changing toward long days of sunshine, the days of outdoor concerts in North America are once again here.

April festivals like Coachella in Southern California; Roxy Festival in Guadalajara, Mexico; and Welcome to Rockville in Jacksonville, Fla., which mark the beginning of the ever-burgeoning festival season, have all already come and gone.

To less fanfare though, amphitheaters like Vina Robles Amphitheatre in Paso Robles, Calif.; Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Morrison, Colo.; Daily’s Place amphitheater in Jacksonville, Fla.; and The Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion in The Woodlands, Texas, all opened their gates for an early start on amphitheater season in April, and this month most sheds are very much open for business.

A number of years ago an industry wide conversation asked whether sheds were dead and outdoor shows were on the way out, but last year three sheds reported more than 500,000 tickets sold on Pollstar’s Year End Top 100 Amphitheatre Venues chart, and 62 reported more than 100,000 tickets. In 2016, Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Colorado alone grossed $44.9 million on 103 reported events.

Alex Hodges, CEO of Nederlander Concerts, said he never bought into the thinking that sheds were a bad experience, out of style or passé, but he said the venues do require a different kind of attention because every year they go through a season of non-use.

“They take weather abuse when they’re closed during the winter. You really have to prepare them and be ready for a new season each year,” Hodges said. “In an indoor venue, you’re using it for various events all year, so you’re automatically keeping it up.

“I think what has now been recognized is [outdoor shows] have always been a great experience. The art form [is] pricing the shows right, buying the right shows for the market and marketing them well. The extra ingredient of investment in venue means that the experience is upgraded. It’s so easy for the owner or manager of a venue to assume that [an amphitheater] is going to be as popular next year as it was this year. That’s not always the case if investments haven’t been made in every part of the experience, from getting out of the car to walking through the turnstiles to the show itself.”

Hodges said that indoor and outdoor shows each bring unique benefits to the table and that there is a place for each in a developed market. Theaters, arenas and clubs have the advantages of a controlled environment that is protected from weather, more control of sound quality and amplification of energy from applause and crowd noise. Outdoor venues, though, give many people a break from being in enclosed spaces for the majority of their lives.

One strength of sheds, Hodges said, is the ability to be flexible in terms of configuration, with some amphitheaters being capable of flexing from 6,000 to 10,000 capacity.

“When I go to an outdoor show, I do feel there is a difference in the music experience,” Hodges said. “You might be on a lawn on a blanket or an upfront seat looking at the stage, but there is no roof, so you are under the stars, under the sky. One way of saying it is the music kind of flows over you in a different way.”

The magic number for Vina Robles is about 30 shows a year, Hodges said, and he was still working to figure out the final five or so shows for the rest of the year. He said he doesn’t feel the need to rush out a final schedule, preferring to give each show a certain amount of attention and making sure he picks the right artists to keep people coming each year.

The ability of sheds to fill niches in a market is something that Jim Koplik, head of Live Nation Connecticut, is more than willing to bet on. He recently partnered with his friend Howard Saffon to convert the Ballpark at Harbor Yard in Bridgeport, Conn., formerly a minor league stadium, into a boutique amphitheater.

Live Nation said at the end of 2017 it owned 10 amphitheaters, leased 32, operated seven, and had exclusive booking rights to 13, for a total of 62 sheds in its portfolio, with capacities ranging from 5,000 to 30,000. Koplik said the Harbor Yard amphitheater will be informed by Live Nation’s experience with boutique amphitheaters, which often aim at an older audience.
The new amphitheater will see the former ballpark converted into a shed with fixed seating only and will be roofed, providing more control over the experience than a traditional amphitheater. The shed will cater to the interests of Fairfield County, which he said is one of the wealthiest counties in the U.S. and doesn’t have a comparable venue in the market.

Koplik said he thinks the shed will help bring more indoor concerts to the market and benefit venues like Webster Bank Arena next door rather than compete with them.

“There are arena shows in the summer, but they don’t even look to play amphitheaters. They only look to play arenas. I’ve rarely seen a real competition between an indoor arena and an outdoor amphitheater of any substance,” Koplik said. “If this amphitheater is as beautiful as we intend to make it, it’s gonna be Fairfield County-like, which is very upscale. It will put Bridgeport on the concert map, and I think we’ll get more shows indoors.”

One act that will be lighting up amphitheaters across the country this summer is Pentatonix. Two years ago they were an elite arena act, reaching No. 82 on Pollstar’s Top 100 Worldwide Tours chart, with $20.2 million grossed on 374,619 tickets in North America, Europe, Australia, and Southeast Asia.

The a capella group has a full run of sheds booked into September with its new bass vocalist, Matthew Sallee, to promote the group’s new PTX Presents: Top Pop, Vol. I project. “I grew up going to amphitheater shows, and the outdoor music experience is really unmatched,” said the group’s manager, Jonathan Kalter of The MGMT Company. “I saw Sigur Ros at Forest Hills Stadium last year in the rain and it was still better than 90 percent of the dry concerts I’d seen.”
Beyond the benefits of an outdoor experience, there will always be a place for amphitheaters because they cater to two demographics, what Koplik calls lawn fans and seat fans.

“With the younger artists, for the kids who don’t have that much money, I think amphitheaters are even more important to the live music listening experience,” he said.

“Any time you have a venue where three-quarters of the tickets are generally under 30 dollars, you’ve opened up your business to a tremendous demographic. … Most arena shows [have] no tickets at that price.”

The proof that sheds are alive and well, Koplik said, is in the numbers: Every one of his sheds is busier than it has ever been.

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Posted: 17 May 2018, 5:00 pm

Trends in the family show business follow the norm in live entertainment: Technology is changing the product on stage, social media is dominating the marketing of shows and VIP experiences are upping the revenue potential.

Feld Entertainment’s Jeff Meyer also noted the huge international reach of all their family show productions, particularly Monster Jam, which Feld owns and operates, as a major trend. Feld has added Sesame Street Live, now going into its second and simultaneous production, launching this fall, with Feld Entertainment as producer, and Jurassic World Live with NBC Universal, which will debut in arenas in 2019, to its portfolio.

Just announced May 1 is a second Feld collaboration with Universal Brand Development, DreamWorks Trolls The Experience, an interactive attraction that debuts this fall in New York. This is Feld’s premier venture into “live location-based experiences.”

“Our relationship with NBC Universal is a big initiative,” Meyer said of Feld Entertainment’s aggressive growth despite the closing of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus in May of 2017. When Jurassic World Live debuts in arenas in 2019, it will feature some of the best in animatronics ever seen, with Quantum Creations and Animax creating the highly advanced, amazing animatronic dinosaurs, according to Feld’s Steve Yaros.

Feld’s Sesame Street Live offers a preshow experience, which is being enhanced this year. Limited to 200 ticketbuyers, the preshow guests literally get to walk on Sesame Street. “Kids are just loving it,” Meyer said.

But more than just added revenue, the preshow has become a social media bonus. Not only do postings from the preshow promote Sesame Street Live, it’s also an education for the producers, who have made adjustments based on social media feedback.

The Harlem Globetrotters’ president, Howard Smith, is also a huge believer in social media for marketing and feedback.

“Social media indicators are up 50 percent with subscribers in terms of followers,” Smith told VenuesNow. “We have over 2.3 million followers across various platforms. Our brand is social media friendly, with trick shots, athletes and personalities. Increasingly kids are getting their first cellphone and social media accounts around 10-11 years old.”

Smith said the Trotters are dedicating more energy to social media, a natural given the bigger-than-life personalities of the players. “When we take our team to the West Coast, we will always stop in to visit Instagram and YouTube and Facebook headquarters to create some content.”
His team visited Instagram in January and the content posted on Instagram’s home page in March, with over 5.5 million views within a matter of hours.

The Trotters also host social media influencers at their games. “We can put them in a game and engage them in ways no one else can,” Smith said. “It creates content for them and gives us a chance to tell our story.”

New this year are the Flying Globies, acrodunkers who do amazing dunks and flips.
“We’ve created the show in bite-size chunks the way people consume content in social media now,” Smith said. “Every few minutes, there’s something new and different to consume and enjoy.” The current tour is themed Amazing Feats of Basketball.

Nitro Circus is averaging about 9,000 in attendance per show. Kurt Nicoll, vice president of global touring, said the brand has an incredible 60 million social media followers and that is a key to marketing. Two trends Nicoll singled out — the lessening importance of TV and traditional media to marketing and late ticket buying.

Both are tied to the new demographic. Nitro Circus has always seen massive walkup, but where they used to expect 400-500 ticketbuyers day of show, they’ve seen double that, up to 1,100 per show in 2018, particularly for the outdoor shows. “We’re more weather dependent than ever before,” he admitted.

To meet demand, they have changed the show, based on feedback from the World Games they now hold each year in Salt Lake City. The Best Trick freestyle motocross ramp is much bigger so the landing is higher. To accommodate the trick riders, they have added an inflatable landing ramp. “The tricks are huge,” Nicoll said.

The indoor show, You’ve Got This, features founder Travis Pastrana’s challenge to riders to do higher and better tricks. Like other family show producers, it needs to be nonstop action.
That same philosophy drives Feld’s family shows. Meyer said the new 35th edition of Disney on Ice which debuts this fall will feature “character overload and audience interaction in a new way, as we also help celebrate the 90th anniversary of Mickey Mouse in all our Disney on Ice productions.”

Today’s youth have a shorter attention span, Meyer noted. “Everything is coming at kids today so fast that the attention span is shorter. We find ways to deal with that.”

Feld Entertainment is also seeing growth by increasing the number of dates booked worldwide. And they have expanded the shoulder time frame in North America, with tours extending into mid- to late May now. It’s purely demand driven, but Feld is finding they can double back to the same city and sometimes the same venue in the same year with many properties.

VStar Entertainment is expanding into more arenas with PAW Patrol: The Great Pirate Adventure. The live show is based on the extremely popular Nick Jr. TV show and Kevin Kulas, VStar director of booking, sees no signs of it waning. They are revamping the original PAW Patrol show, which launched in October 2016, so that it, too, can play arenas as well as theaters.
“There’s not much that can match the success of PAW Patrol now,” Kulas said. “It’s a very, very strong Nickelodeon property, retail and TV, worldwide. We have currently five international units of PAW Patrol and we’re launching a sixth in Australia in May. We have two units in North America.”

VStar has relocated into a new production facility, over 100,000 square feet, that also includes corporate offices, all in one facility in Fridley, Minn., five minutes north of downtown Minneapolis. And with Bubble Guppies and Cirque Productions, which they bought last year, VStar has seen a lot of changes since closing the original Sesame Street Live production for the last time more than a year ago.

Another popular kids show that started in the U.K. and has plenty of leg left is Peppa Pig.
“Peppa Pig is unbelievable,” said Jonathan Shank, producer, Red Light Management. “We’re having great success now in Canada. We had three sold-out shows in the Beacon Theatre, New York, and we just crossed 500,000 in ticket sales over the last two years.” They are about 250 shows into Peppa Pig’s big run, which started in North America in 2016.

The demographic is preschool and the venue of choice is 2,000-seat theaters. Shank is one of the few who still puts an emphasis on TV marketing and other traditional channels because Peppa Pig is based on a TV show.

Red Light also launched a new show, Disney Junior Dance Party on Tour, which is “incredibly successful right now,” Shank said. That theater show has been booked for 65 dates so far and is now entering the major markets.

Disney Junior Dance Party on Tour is a 75-minute show. Set up takes 4 hours; tear down, 1.5-2 hours. There are 30 in the cast and crew. CAA is the booking agent. Like Peppa Pig, the demographic is preschool, ages 2-7.

Merchandise for Disney Junior Dance Party includes an interactive wristband, which is doing particularly well, Shank added. The wristbands, produced by FEA which does all the Disney Junior merch, change patterns and light color based on songs and cues in the show.
The Harlem Globetrotters are also enjoying a boom in merchandise sales, particularly jerseys with stars’ names on the back. “We sell a basketball to about every fourth person who comes into the arena,” Smith said.

Alex Jarrett, R.I.P. Productions, who produces Champions of Magic and Hollywood Special Effects Tour, has a different take on merchandise. The upcoming Magic tour will be the first without a printed brochure.

When Champions of Magic goes back on the road in June, the program will be digital, on the web site, and updated for each show. “It’s on your phone, free of charge, when you come into the theater … and we don’t have to print 50,000 brochures,” Jarrett explained. It was very bulky to carry the brochures with the show, taking up half a truck they can use for illusions instead. And people can engage with the digital brochure, which will be linked to the ticketing sites.
Fernando Valesco, illusionist, will be in the next version of the show, adding an element of danger with this amazing escapes. “We keep making the magic bigger,” Jarrett said.
And while Jarrett likes social media for marketing, noting an 800 percent return on investment, he also believes TV sells a visual spectacular like Champions of Magic. He has learned to go in a month early, at his own expense, to promote ticket sales, even though he almost always sells the show to a promoter or venue.

Feld is also expanding its merchandise, having signed up with a new licensing partner for 2019. It’s not just the live event, it’s the branding, Meyer said. “We will have over 500 SKUs in the marketplace with just Monster Jam. Spin Master has become our master tour licensee for Monster Jam, transitioning from Mattel, and goes live in 2019. We are elevating the number of products, basically doubling the number of SKUs in the marketplace.”
McDonald’s will have a Happy Meal promotion with Monster Trucks that starts this fall and Walmart counted its Grave Digger 24-volt kids truck among the top 25 holiday toys.

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Posted: 17 May 2018, 5:00 pm

Betchold,_Marty_g-600x5441.jpgBechtold keeps Indianapolis’ big arena busy, but he’s never too busy for his Cincinnati Reds.

What did you think you would be when you were a kid? A lawyer.

First job in the industry: I interned at Rosemont Horizon (now Allstate Arena), Rosemont, Ill. My first real job was at Stabler Arena, Bethlehem, Pa.

Best advice you’ve ever received: Good news travels fast; bad news travels faster.

Favorite live event you’ve attended: All six of the Rolling Stones shows I have been to through the years, and the 2015 MLB All-Star Game in Cincinnati with my son, Bryant.

What would people be surprised to learn about you? I enjoy watching National Hot Rod Association drag racing.

Who are your favorite mentors? Mike Evans, Barry Silberman, Gary Handleman, Hank Abate, Richard Fritz and Rick Bjorklund.

What do you do in your free time? I am the biggest Cincinnati Reds fan alive and never miss a game.

Best day on the job: The opening event of  Charlotte Bobcats (N.C.) Arena (now Spectrum Center) on Oct. 21, 2005, with the Rolling Stones, with a special shout-out to Gerry Barad, who brought in the show.

Biggest achievement in your career: Being named GM of the CSU Convocation Center (now Wolstein Center), Cleveland, when I was 30 years old and being part of the opening management team of Charlotte (N.C.) Bobcats Arena.

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Posted: 17 May 2018, 4:50 pm

Simultaneous global viewers tuning in live to see Beyoncé’s much-talked-about set April 14 on the opening weekend of California music festival Coachella. It was the most-viewed Coachella performance ever on YouTube.

Estimated number of plastic straws that won’t be used at Live Nation amphitheater shows this summer, thanks to the company’s commitment to using a marine-friendly paper alternative. Live Nation announced it will work with nonprofit Lonely Whale to help keep plastic straws out of oceans. Legends handles foodservice at the venues.

Tickets sold for Ed Sheeran’s 18-show tour of Australia and New Zealand March 2-April 1. The total broke a mark for the region set by Dire Straits 32 years ago.

Years in a new deal that University of Notre Dame athletics announced April 26 with Legends and JMI Sports. The companies will oversee Notre Dame’s sales, marketing, hospitality, media rights and branding services.

Amount that Houston-based RIDA Development will put up to build a hotel and convention center in Chula Vista, Calif., a suburb of San Diego. The city and the Port of San Diego reportedly will put up rest of the cost for the $1.1 billion project.

Number of outdoor shows that White Oak Music Hall in Houston can put on each year, as part of a settlement over noise complaints announced April 24. Only 20 of the shows can be on school nights.

Reported value of the offer by Shahid Khan, owner of the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars, to buy London’s Wembley Stadium, in a bid announced April 26. The English Football Association owns the stadium, which at 90,000 seats is the largest stadium in the U.K.

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Posted: 17 May 2018, 3:00 pm

When James Dolan, chairman and CEO of the Madison Square Garden Co., brought his wildly impressive dog and pony show for his next-generation MSG Spheres to the Forum in Inglewood, Calif., on a late-April afternoon, it had a hue distinctly different from previous presentations.

As in New York in February and London in March, the chief executive explained how Ray Bradbury’s 1951 sci-fi short story “The Veldt” inspired his vision for the Sphere. He then went over a myriad of technologies with a slide presentation showing fantastical futuristic renderings. This was proceeded by a veritable science fair where attendees could interact with sensory technologies surrounding a scale model of the warm glowing orb itself roughly 28 feet tall and 40 feet wide. “Oohs,” “ahhs” and laughter could be heard emanating from the more than 250 executives and journalists engaging with the technological marvels.

But because this was La-La Land, with every major film studio, talent agency and event promoter as well as a slew of tech companies, content creators and design hubs only a freeway away, the Sphere pitch was tailored accordingly.

“As technologically wonderful and awesome as this venue is going to be, it won’t mean a thing without the content,” Dolan said from the stage. “We are soliciting all storytellers, artists and performers to create for the Sphere. We will commission projects for the Sphere, and we are actively doing so right now.”

Dolan’s message reverberated throughout the arena and seemed to radiate out across the L.A. Basin and beyond as soon as it was uttered. One could almost hear wheels turning as reps from firms including J.J. Abrams’ Bad Robot, Live Nation, Feld Entertainment and an alphabet stew of talent agencies — CAA, UTA and WME were all in the house — soaked up the Los Angeles presentation and relayed that information to colleagues and counterparts.

Then, perhaps tipping his hand more than anyone expected, Dolan let it be known that the plan is “to develop a slate of (programming) that ultimately builds into a full library that will play in all the spheres that we build — and we are going to build more than one or two Spheres,” the MSG head said. (The Madison Square Garden Co. has a joint venture with Irving Azoff, co-founder of Oak View Group, VenuesNow’s parent company.)

Not only has Dolan and his MSG Ventures set in motion an ambitious billion-dollar-plus plan for two 18,000-plus-seat Spheres in Las Vegas (slated to open at the end of 2020 for New Year’s) and London (a year later), the likes of which this industry has never before known, but there will be even more of them. And, they will be built around the next generation of live entertainment content with a technologically immersive approach to performance as well as originally created content — something most arenas aren’t known for.

“Venues historically have been a stage for other people’s content,” says Michael Rowe, president of New Jersey’s Positive Impact Sports and Entertainment, who worked at the Meadowlands for 16 years. “The Garden was one of the early leaders with the Felt Forum (now the Hulu Theater at MSG), which itself created shows. There used to be an Easter show and a Christmas show similar to what (MSG’s) Radio City Music Hall does. There’s a lot of nontouring content that the Garden and Radio City have done, but not a lot of other venues can do that or do it well.”

This helps explain the early March hiring of Victoria Parker as executive vice president of MSG Productions. Parker, who ran Verizon’s Oath Studios, where she developed content creation and programming strategy for the mobile-only entertainment service, and before that worked at the Weinstein Co., is now in charge of overseeing proprietary production content and events for the MSG Spheres.

Parker, who said her email inbox is blowing up from interest in the Spheres, explained she is “open to hearing from a wide variety of content creators” and “looking for artists, storytellers, performers, musicians and companies that want to express themselves through multisensory experiences.” 

When asked whether there were any pitching parameters, especially in terms of technology, Parker said she is “open to discussing anything that content creators can come up with,” noting that the Sphere provides “an opportunity to open up an artist’s or a creator’s palette to do things that have never been done before. We hope the only limit is someone’s imagination.”

While that kind of artistic freedom may inspire artists to create Sphere content, on the scale of these multifaceted venues it is an expensive proposition at best. The rewards, however, could be enormous depending on what kind of licensing deals are brokered.

“I’ve been licensing intellectual property for the touring business for going on 12 years now, and I love it,” says Jared Paul, who owns and operates Faculty, an event creation business. Paul, in addition to managing the Backstreet Boys and licensing tours of Fox’s “Glee” and the BBC’s “Dancing With the Stars,” has also created his own licensed content with “Happy Place,” an immersive experience now on at L.A. Live.

“It’s an honor to be offered the opportunity to protect and grow people’s brands on the road, and I take it very seriously,” Paul says, “but the dream is always to have your own intellectual property, to create something that people will part with their hard-earned money and experience live and that you can invest your money and your time in.”

To help facilitate these content creator dreams, Dolan announced a suite of tools called “the Palette” he intends to “democratize” and make available to storytellers, producers and others in the creative community. The MSG scion revealed one tool, a hydra-headed super resolution camera called Capture, that films and live-stitches together 360° x 360° footage at a rate of 2 gigabytes per second. At the Forum, Capture was shown strapped to the bottom of a helicopter filming the colorful canyons of Hawaii in creating one of the Sphere’s immersive environments.

“Jim used a very important word in his presentation,” said David Dibble, CEO of MSG Ventures, which formed in 2015 after the $17.7 billion sale of Cablevision and which oversees the Sphere’s technological initiatives. “Democratizing content creation, we want that to happen. YouTube got off the ground through UGC, user generated content. How many cat videos are out there? And surfing squirrels? But it got the platform known. They figured out how to scale the platform. Now, look, is that a monetary end to itself? Of course not. But they came to terms with the notion of user-generated content in order to gain momentum. So, not that we’re going to have UGC in Sphere, but by a couple of orders of distant magnitude from that we will.”

Both Dibble and Dolan say part of what informed the Sphere’s construction, or at least knowing what could be done with a venue built from scratch, was derived from the MSG Co.’s massive renovations over the last several years. This included MSG’s billion-dollar upgrade of the Garden completed in 2013, with the newly built Chase Bridges above the floor, a new Seventh Avenue entrance with two 600-square-foot video screens on the ceiling, a state-of-the-art GardenVision center-hung scoreboard and new VIP suites, among other renovations, and the more than $100 million conversion of The Forum in 2014 that transformed the historic venue from a mixed-use to an entertainment-only building with cutting-edge sound technologies as well as first-class front-of-house and backstage amenities for fan and artist alike.

These upgrades helped increase these iconic venues’ bottom lines and keep them firmly entrenched in the upper echelons of Pollstar’s box office charts. For Pollstar’s 2017 Year-End Worldwide Ticket Sales chart, the Garden came in at No. 2 with a whopping 1.17 million tickets sold (significantly behind only AEG’s O2 Arena in London) and the Forum at No. 9 with 790,700 tickets sold. MSG clearly had many takeaways from these refurbished success stories.
“At the Garden we learned about the importance of a premium experience,” Dolan told VenuesNow. “Here (at the Forum) we learned about performance and why a dual-purpose venue isn’t really good for performance and why a concert experience here is so much better than going to a basketball or hockey arena. So that gave us the courage to keep going and knowing that there is more available that we could do for the audience.”

What MSG is doing for its audience with the Sphere, however, may be the heaviest lift of all: pulling together an array of leading-edge technologies, some of which are still being tested, and integrating them into an orb in 2 1/2 years’ time — the Vegas Sphere is slated to break ground this summer and open doors some 30 months later.

One of msg ventures’ first technology moves was the November 2017 acquisition for an undisclosed amount of Obscura Digital, a creative studio out of San Francisco that develops next-gen immersive experiences. “Obscura has done some amazing work around immersive visualization,” Dibble said. “Most notably in projection, but also in LED. They lit up the St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican, the Empire State Building from top to bottom and the Sydney Opera House from across Sydney Bay, the Guggenheim and more. Their portfolio of work is staggering.”

Obscura, with their experience in creating content for spherical surfaces, is involved in creating the Sphere’s immense and immersive display plane made up of 250 million pixels spread across 170,000 square feet that, as Dolan explained, will be “over a hundred times better than HDTV currently available today.”

Dolan, a musician and passionate music fan himself, elucidated the enormous performance potential artists have playing the Sphere by invoking two iconic bands: The Beatles, he said, if they were still around, could potentially play against a backdrop of the group’s Apple Records rooftop, where they famously performed in London in 1969. And Pink Floyd (or perhaps just Roger Waters or David Gilmour) could re-create the band’s “Live at Pompeii” concert/documentary film from 1972.

Among the many tech wonders at the Sphere’s so-called science fair (which at times felt like a stroll through Willy Wonka’s candy garden, only with interactive technological marvels) was a “Steerable Sound Experience” that left many participants utterly agog. Developed in partnership with Holoplot, a German company specializing in beamforming audio, the technology allows one to hear specific locational audio whereby one could hear only isolated saxophone in one spot, then move 3 feet to the left and hear only isolated guitar from the same track with little to no discernable sound bleeding.

Other technological marvels to be integrated into the Sphere: Vibrating panels beneath seats will be able to emit low rumbles and tilt re-creating the sense of a volcano, a roller coaster or a skateboard ride; scents ranging from cut grass to freshly baked cookies will be piped into the venues as well as temperature changes to simulate a heated desert or misty rainforest; and 20 megabits per second of connectivity will be provided wirelessly to all 18,000 seats, encouraging real-time interactivity with performances, as well as gaming and social media possibilities.
One has to wonder, though, are all these experiential technological wonders a good thing? Some argue, like Andy Dolich, who held executive positions in the NHL and with three NBA teams and an NFL team, in addition to spending 15 years with the Oakland A’s, that too much tech can have a deleterious effect.

“I think if you push it too far, then you’re creating a disconnect that may actually be a negative to the sport and entertainment world because you’re making it artificial and not real,” Dolich said. “I want to hear Luciano Pavarotti sing ‘Nessun Dorma’ outta his lungs, not some crowd-enhanced VR, AI circumstance. Because that guy can do something that no other person in the world can do.”

Most sentient human beings, however, upon seeing the Sphere’s glowing futuristic renderings and learning of the venue’s immersive technological possibilities, are reflexively titillated, including Russ Simons of the Venue Solutions Group.

“I’m super optimistic about what they’re going be able to accomplish within the Sphere,’ says Simons, who is also the former general manager at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville. “It’s something that a great many people appreciate and it’s created a bit of a visceral reaction. Even if people are skeptical they’re still like, ‘I still want to see it.’ I mean, I’m sorry, I want to be there the night it opens. I’ll move heaven and earth to be a part of that experience, absolutely.”
But even considering the demand already drummed up with three Sphere presentations and counting, the billion dollar plus question is, How do all the staggering costs of the many technological bells and whistles, construction and content, which could add up to astronomical costs per seat, pencil out?  Especially when the Spheres don’t include a major sports tenant?

“I know the economics well,” Dolan said when asked. “For this to be a success first, we will have a lot of concerts and performances here. But the story makers, the people who do attractions, including ourselves, will have to be able to create and make a desirable enough product for people to come and see it on that basis. But we think that’s more than doable.”

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Posted: 17 May 2018, 2:00 pm

The Milwaukee Brewers spent $8.5 million to refresh the PNC Club level corridor. (Courtesy Milwaukee Brewers)

Miller Park stands as an oasis in the early stages of the Major League Baseball season, the only ballpark in the Midwest with a retractable roof. While outdoor stadiums stacked up a record number of April postponements, the Brewers stayed cozy indoors, generating parking and concessions revenue critical to the small-market team’s bottom line.

It helps when the Cubs come to town, which was the case in early April. It’s about a 90-minute drive from Greater Chicago for Cubs fans, and tickets are readily available and often less expensive than at Wrigley Field.

On Saturday, April 7, with temperatures in the low 30s and a biting wind in the shade, the Brewers did fans a favor by opening the doors to the Friday’s Front Row restaurant 20 minutes early. The space filled up quickly.

The restaurant, part of the TGI Friday’s chain, is still going strong in Miller Park’s left-field corner as both it and the ballpark enter their 17th season. The site is the company’s highest-performing restaurant in the region, which includes Chicago, Brewers Chief Operating Officer Rick Schlesinger said.

The Brewers sell tables at the restaurant of four with a view to the game for $45 to $95 a person, depending on the day of the week and the opponent. On non-game days, the restaurant remains busy with corporate business lunches, Schlesinger said.

Apart from the restaurant, the Brewers and their food provider, Delaware North Sportservice, have capitalized on the $20 million in concessions upgrades completed before the 2017 season. Last year, food and drink per caps increased 20 percent over 2016 after the vendor re-engineered concession layouts and eliminated items that didn’t sell that well but that required extra labor and were holding the lines up, Schlesinger said.

Early this season, that momentum continues, which has been a pleasant surprise for the Brewers, according to Schlesinger.

“I was expecting stabilization,” he said. “It’s early, but (April 6) and earlier in the week against the Cardinals, we had our two biggest concession per caps in Miller Park history,” both about $20. “We typically are among the lowest in per caps in baseball because of tailgating, which is fine. To get close to $20 is a great sign.”

For this year, the Brewers invested $8.5 million to refresh the PNC Club level corridor, encompassing about 25,000 square feet. The improvements cover a new paint job, new lighting, wall-mounted televisions and food stations, and new wall graphics, including images of Brewers owner Mark Attanasio, and are the first time that part of the ballpark has been renovated since it opened in 2001.

“We needed an upgrade,” Schlesinger said. “We never had TVs on this level. Just things you don’t think about. In the future, we’ll be renovating the suite interiors because they need a refresh. We’ve got about 15 projects we’re debating for next year.”

The team store on the main concourse got a makeover this year as well. The Brewers expanded the store’s hat wall to 230 selections to accommodate the team’s biggest-selling retail item and doubled the footprint for women’s apparel.

“We’ve got a lot more variety for women, and women buy,” Schlesinger said.

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Posted: 17 May 2018, 1:00 pm

Major league baseball broke a record for April postponements this year, and it has been especially brutal in the Midwest. In Chicago, for example, a steady snowfall April 9 forced postponement of the Cubs’ home opener at Wrigley Field. That same day across town, the White Sox soldiered on amid the flurries, playing the Rays before a sparse crowd at Guaranteed Rate Field.

VenuesNow, bundled up in heavy coat and knit hat, visited both ballparks to see the newest upgrades there, and added in a trip 90 miles north to Milwaukee, where Miller Park’s retractable roof guaranteed the Brewers would play despite temperatures in the teens (see story, Page 10)

At Wrigley, the Opening Day snowstorm delayed the official debut of the new American Airlines 1914 Club, a top-shelf lounge welcoming ticket holders for about 700 seats in the first seven rows between the dugouts. The ice sculpture branded with the club’s logo, Cubs concessionaire Levy’s centerpiece for the occasion, would have to chill for another 24 hours.

The wait was worth it for those patrons, who pay $400 to $700 a ticket per game for an all-inclusive package covering the cost of food and drink, including beer, wine and hard liquor. The club’s six bunker suites, built along hallways behind the main lounge area, sell for $1 million a year with 10-year agreements and come with eight seats in the first two rows behind home plate.

The latest improvements are part of an eight-year makeover of Wrigley Field, an investment nearing $1 billion for both the ballpark and development outside its walls, including the new Hotel Zachary.

The new club redefines the premium experience at 104-year-old Wrigley Field. The ballpark got its first club only 10 years ago, when the PNC Club (now Assurance Club) opened on the suite level down the third base line.

Designed by Populous, the club’s look and feel is vintage Chicago architecture, reflecting signature designs by Louis Sullivan and Frank Lloyd Wright, as well as Zachary Taylor Davis, Wrigley Field’s original architect. Davis studied under Sullivan and was Wright’s contemporary, so it made sense to use their combined work as inspiration for developing the ballpark’s most luxurious space, said Crane Kenney, the Cubs’ president of business operations.

“Every time we touch an aspect of Wrigley, we ask ourselves, ‘What would Zach do?’ Kenney said. “It’s the same thing with this club. We drew on some of the stuff that we would have seen from him, his contemporaries and Louis Sullivan, one of the top three architects in the world.”

Their influence can be seen in the design details of the stair railings and baseboards, extending to the bronze and porcelain toilet fixtures in the restrooms. Those were customized by Sloan, the 112-year-old Chicago plumbing products firm that holds naming rights to the Cubs’ spring training facility in Mesa, Ariz.

“Every little move in the space, we wanted it to have a story and a purpose,” said Adam Stover, a principal and lead architect with Populous.

The club’s brickwork includes some of the original 1914 brick taken from outfield walls torn down and replaced after years of decay.

One wall display case contains a weathered book titled “Drinks,” first published in 1914 and which contains cocktail recipes compiled by Jacques Straub, wine steward at the old Blackstone Hotel in Chicago. Straub honed his bartending skills at the Pendennis Club in Louisville, where he was among the originators of the Old Fashioned, the signature drink at the American Airlines 1914 Club. The book is on loan for the season before the Cubs return it to the Pendennis Club, said Colin Faulkner, Cubs senior vice president of sales and marketing.

The Cubs visited similar clubs at about 20 MLB parks to get ideas for their high-end space. They liked what the Yankees, Marlins and Nationals did with their home plate clubs at their stadiums, all of which opened during the past 10 years.

In addition, the Cubs did surveys and focus groups with season-ticket holders and potential buyers for input on club amenities. Faulkner said the team’s research showed that fans loved the prime seat locations and they just want “more baseball,” which means quicker trips to the restrooms as well as food they can bring back to their seats without waiting in line.

As a result, the 7,200-square-foot club, in addition to a pizza kitchen and full-service bar, features grab-and-go setups with stocked refrigerators near the exits, where fans walk outdoors and up a flight of stairs to get to their seats. There’s also a small merchandise stand behind the bar, carrying items exclusive to those ticket holders. It’s the only time they reach for their wallet to make a purchase. Everything else is paid for in advance, Faulkner said.

The construction process is an interesting story in itself. The club sits 11 feet below the playing field in an area that had held nothing but Lake Michigan beach sand since the ballpark was built, Kenney said. Before the 2017 regular season, the Cubs removed 12,000 tons of sand to clear space to build the club this past offseason.

“We had a dump truck leave here every 10 minutes for 40 days to dig out this hole, and that’s where this space came from, which is a marvel to some degree on an engineering front,” Kenney said.

The same process will play out for the Maker’s Mark Barrel Room and the W Club, two new clubs opening next season along the first and third base lines, Faulkner said. A third lounge, the Catalina Club, is set to open in the upper deck behind home plate in 2019.

On the South Side, the White Sox made a few tweaks to their ballpark, which opened in 1991 as New Comiskey Park and later became U.S. Cellular Field before changing names again in 2016.

The stadium, designed by Populous, has gone through some major changes over the past 15 years. For the 2018 season, upgrades include rebrands of two destinations, the Revolution Brewing #SoxSocial Tap Room and the Guaranteed Rate Club, where the White Sox about 10 years ago first converted the old press box into a hospitality space connected to 210 premium seats behind home plate.

The tap room, situated midlevel along the left field line, showcases the local brewer in a stadium teeming with 80 to 100 craft beer selections. Revolution, a North Side brewery, takes over the old Miller Lite Extra Base Club, which can fit 250 people and has a view to the game. It was previously marketed primarily as a group space but is now open to all fans.

The lounge expands on the team’s social media program, replacing a small room on the main concourse that could fit about 15 people, Sox officials said. At the tap room, fans claim prizes
for checking in socially at an kiosk. They can charge their cell phones and enjoy a cold one from among about 40 selections brewed by Revolution, including Deth’s Tar, an imperial oatmeal stout aged in bourbon barrels with alcohol content pushing 15 percent. The beer is named after Josh Deth, founder of the 8-year-old microbrewery.

The social lounge is a good fit for both parties, said Brooks Boyer, the team’s senior vice president of sales and marketing. Revolution Brewing, already a  sponsor, wanted to increase its presence at the ballpark, and the White Sox were intent on redeveloping a space previously open to all ticket holders only when it had not been sold to a group as a single-game rental. Now, it’s accessible to all fans for the entire season.

The brewer signed a multiyear deal without having to spend “crazy, significant dollars,” Boyer said, although he would not disclose the value.

“It became kind of confusing to fans, because you would go there, have a great time, and then come back (for another game) and it was rented for three straight days,” he said. “You didn’t know one way or the other. We needed more space for our social media lounge, so we kind of merged the two ideas with Revolution. They found a place that we could carve out where they could (serve)our fans.”

Goose Island, founded in 1988 and among Chicago’s original craft beers, recently signed a multiyear deal with the White Sox as its first official craft beer provider. Both the Goose Island and Revolution deals are non-exclusives, Boyer said. Goose Island was acquired by Anheuser-Busch in 2011, but fans still consider it a Chicago brand. At the ballpark, the brewer gets an outfield wall sign plus in-game digital exposure among its assets, he said.

Modelo is the White Sox’s official import beer. The team is searching for a new domestic beer partner after ending a 30-year relationship with MillerCoors before the 2017 season. Pabst and Anheuser-Busch filled the category last season, Boyer confirmed.

“We’re not the big national brand,” he said. “We’re not a big regional brand. We’re a local brand. The Cubs are the national brand. We’re smaller. But there are a lot of White Sox fans that are brewing craft beer all over the Chicago area, and the fact that they can come to a ballpark and have their beer … that’s good stuff. In a lot of other venues, you can’t have that.”

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LAFC hires Friedman, forms new division
Posted: 16 May 2018, 9:00 pm


Adam Friedman.

Veteran entertainment and venue expert Adam Friedman has been named the first president of Banc of California Stadium Entertainment, a division of LAFC Sports LLC. Friedman will also be executive vice president of LAFC Sports.

The first event for BOCS Entertainment will be iHeartRadio Wango Tango by AT&T June 2 at Banc of California Stadium. Hosted by Ryan Seacrest, the concert will feature Ariana Grande, Shawn Mendes, Meghan Trainor, Backstreet Boys, 5 Seconds of Summer, NF, Miguel, Janelle Monáe, Sabrina Carpenter, and Marshmello, with a special guest performance by Logic, and more to be announced.

On May 22, BOCS Entertainment will host LAFC and German Bundesliga club Borussia Dortmund, one of the most successful teams in Germany, in the first international friendly match at Banc of California Stadium.

Friedman will answer to Tom Penn, co-owner and president of LAFC Sports.

BOCS Entertainment will be responsible for development, operation and management of all events at the $350 million, 23,000-seat Banc of California Stadium, home of Major League Soccer's Los Angeles Football Club, which opened April 29. In addition to stadium events, BOCS Entertainment will also host large-scale concerts and sports events at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum and multi-stage, large-scale music festivals incorporating the stadium, the coliseum, and adjacent grounds of Exposition Park.

A veteran of 25 years in the live entertainment business, Friedman has played a key role in building and growing some of the most iconic brands in the business as CEO of Nederlander Concerts, executive vice president and division head of House of Blues Concerts, and senior vice president of Universal Concerts. He entered the industry at MCA Concerts in 1992 after practicing as a commercial real estate attorney at Rudnick and Wolfe (now DLA Piper) in Chicago.

Most recently, he has been a consultant working with a variety of live entertainment facilities, including LAFC and Banc of California Stadium. Friedman is a past president of the North American Concert Promoters Association and sits on the advisory boards of Universal Production Music (a division of Universal Music Group); Songlily, an on-line music licensing marketplace; and Ampsy, a social media aggregation firm.

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Aramark’s Flipping Good Idea
Posted: 16 May 2018, 5:00 pm

This stand in Cleveland is flipping from chicken bowls to cocktails in the second quarter of NBA playoff games. (Courtesy Aramark)

Aramark is flipping out at Quicken Loans Arena, but in a good way. For the NBA playoffs, the Cleveland Cavaliers’ food provider is converting a concession stand’s fare midgame from chicken bowls to cocktails.

The second-quarter “flip” is a product of food vendors become more flexible in adapting to customer buying habits at sports events. It is thought to be one of the first times a concessionaire has switched a food stand’s offerings in the middle of event.

“It’s a great idea,” food consultant Chris Bigelow said.

In Cleveland, the in-game conversion is part of Launch Test Kitchen, a program Aramark started in 2015 to showcase local chefs and test new food concepts. The test kitchen is also in place at Capital One Arena in Washington, D.C., and Rogers Centre in Toronto, but for now the in-game flip is restricted to the Q, Aramark spokesman David Freireich said.

The flip is driven by sales data tied to tipoff times for the playoffs, said Kevin Kearney, the firm’s district manager. After advancing through the first round with 7 p.m. ET tipoffs against the Pacers, the Cavaliers were faced with 8:30 p.m. starts for their second-round series against  the Raptors. After Aramark officials saw a shift toward higher sales of beer and mixed drinks for Game 1 of the second round, they converted the stand for Game 2 from Bowl’ology to Cle|Cocktail toward the end of the second quarter.

The stand, situated midcourt on the main concourse by Section 126, attracts heavy volume and foot traffic, Kearney said.

“The beauty of the platform is that it’s digital based,” he said. “We pulled the trigger a minute or two into the second quarter and it took about 10 minutes to make the full physical conversion. We traded out some equipment and flipped over the [signs]. We were able to grab the halftime business and saw a nice lift in revenue.”  

As the Cavs-Celtics series moves to Cleveland later this week, Aramark plans to convert the stand again for Games 3 and 4, which are set for 8:30 p.m. Saturday and Monday.

“Launch Test Kitchen has always been in the top three in average check spend at the arena, and we’re anxious to see how it does in the next few games to see if we can continue the positive trend,” Kearney said.

The stand itself featured multiple concepts over the regular season, with signature items prepared by local chefs such as Fabio Salerno, Tiwanna Scott-Williams, Eric Roman and Frederick Parks. For rock concerts, the stand often flips to adult beverages for the entire show.

“Over three years, we’ve had 12 different chefs featured at that stand,” Kearney said. “At the same time, we’ve done themed menus around special events and tailgate activations for arena football. We have a lot of fun and take advantage of the platform to do certain things.”

The in-game flip has been something Carl Mittleman, president of Aramark Sports and Entertainment, has talked about doing over the past few years.

“Carl’s always been interested and intrigued by this transformation concept, the ability to morph and do different things for different events,” Kearney said. “We had a significant opportunity to see if we could do it effectively and efficiently without looking sloppy during the course of regular operating hours. From that standpoint, it went really well.”

As the Cavaliers prepare to start construction on a $140 million arena renovation, Aramark could potentially expand the concept, depending on location and menu items, Kearney said.

“It’s important to be open-minded and creative and evolve with the business as it shifts,” he said. “We’re at the point now where we’re getting more refined with analytics and trying to bring the best programs to the forefront in the venues. It’s a big part of what Launch Test Kitchen is about.”

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Ward And Cunningham Die A Week Apart
Posted: 16 May 2018, 5:00 pm

The late Bill Cunningham and Ray Ward, both IAVM presidents, both managers of the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum, back in the day. (Linda Deckard)

Ray Ward was “the conscience of Oglebay,” where IAVM’s Venue Management School takes place. He got into the business after being hired by Bill Cunningham, general manager of the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum, back in the day, a building Ward then managed when Cunningham retired. And both men gave of their time to the International Association of Venue Managers (IAAM at the time), serving turns as president of the professional association (Cunningham in 1973-74, Ward in 1988-89).

And both men died this month, Ward on May 2 and Cunningham May 8, both still in the San Francisco Bay Area.

VenuesNow will pay tribute to these two industry legends with a special section in the June issue of the magazine (to contribute, contact

The stories are numerous and reflect the state of the industry in the 1970s and '80s, including these astute arena managers negotiating with the impresario Bill Graham of Bill Graham Presents when booking concerts. Ward and Cunningham saw the major changes in the industry, indeed the formative years of the venue industry, noted Michael Marion of Verizon Arena in North Little Rock, Ark.

Ward shared that knowledge over and over again as a teacher at IAVM’s Venue Management School and as the inspiration behind many of the changes at that school. VMS was established at a time when no colleges were teaching sport or venue management, as is more common today, but Ward saw to it that VMS stayed relevant as universities joined the process.

“Everyone wants the ‘Wheeling Feeling,’” Marion said of VMS' West Virginia location. The board of trustees established the Ray Ward Award at VMS to recognize those who give back, giving Ward himself that honor first.

“Ray was my mentor. I would not have been active in IAVM if not for Ray,” said Brad Mayne, now CEO of IAVM, remembering the day Ward approached him to volunteer his first year in the association.

Cunningham, 89, is survived by his wife of 66 years, Mary, and five children. His legacy is vast. He spent his entire career in venue management, first at the Philadelphia Trade and Convention Center as an assistant director from 1957 to 1964; at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Complex as general manager until 1980; and Coliseum Consultants as the president until retiring in 1995.

In 1978, he received the industry’s prestigious Charles A. McElravy Award for his contributions to the organization and profession. His career coincided with multiple championships for his beloved Oakland Athletics, Oakland Raiders and Golden State Warriors.

Ward, who is survived by his wife, Rosemary, also won the McElravy Award and continued to stay active in the industry until just a few years before his death. He was named provost of VMS by the board of regents, who recognized his attention to detail and ability to dissect policies and plans to consider every “what if.”

Again, there is so much more to say. Please join us in telling the story in June.

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Where The Action Is – Or May Be
Posted: 16 May 2018, 4:00 pm

Hard Rock International holds naming rights to the Dolphins' stadium in Miami Gardens, Fla., and has its name on a casino just down the road. (Don Muret)

Sports gambling destinations are coming to arenas and stadiums, according to officials with Detroit architecture firm Rossetti, which has done work for both casinos and sports venues in the Motor City.

“We’ve been asked already by several clients to look at some really cool club areas that could have gaming going on at the same time as watching the event,” Rossetti President Matt Rossetti said.

It’s still early in the process, but the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on Monday declaring the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act unconstitutional has created a whole new world for programming sports venues with gaming components. The ruling clears the way for individual states to legalize betting in their communities.

The ruling represents a huge step for betting enthusiasts, but several hurdles must be cleared before teams can make a move. And before it’s all said and done, there could be sweeping federal legislation in place, attaching greater restrictions to state laws.

In addition, facility managers must comply with another layer of regulations set forth by the leagues and teams before launching gambling retrofits at their buildings, said Lee Zeidman, president of Staples Center in Los Angeles, an arena with four tenants across the NBA, WNBA and NHL.

But make no mistake, teams have their eye on tapping into an industry that generates $150 billion annually from sports fans placing illegal bets, according to the American Gaming Association.

“It’s almost impossible to figure out how extensive these spaces will be,” Rossetti said. “But we know a lot of team owners are [also] starting to look at how to move office and administrative space out of their arenas so they can stuff it with gaming areas.”

Many teams are halfway there. They have casinos sponsoring premium spaces such as Mystic Lake Club Purple at U.S. Bank Stadium, Staples Center’s San Manuel Club and the MGM Grand Tunnel Club at Ford Field. In South Florida, Hard Rock International, whose name is on the casino owned by the Seminole Tribe down the road in Hollywood, Fla., holds naming rights for the Miami Dolphins’ stadium. In those deals, the activation in-venue revolves around hospitality and branding and does not extend to the gaming business.

But that could change in the future as the situation continues to unfold after the Supreme Court’s ruling. For teams, the next step is to add the gaming aspect to the game-day experience in those branded clubs. In Minnesota, Club Purple serves as the fantasy football lounge for Vikings fans. Those fantasy lounges are a natural fit for inserting more gambling elements, sports architect Dan Meis said.

Meis is designing a new soccer stadium for Everton F.C., a member of the Premier League. Sports betting is legal in many corners of Europe, and betting windows are part of stadium infrastructure. Meis feels the time is coming for the integration of sports betting in U.S. stadiums.

“It’s an integral part of the experience in the U.K. and elsewhere in the world,” he said. “I could imagine sportsbook clubs very much like we see common to Las Vegas gaming resorts make their way into venues.”

On their own, Rossetti officials are poised for the crossover.

In Detroit, the Greektown Casino-Hotel has been a Rossetti client over the past decade, and the firm’s work includes redesigning the “high roller room” and a food hall with new dining concepts. The casino, to be rebranded as Jack Detroit Casino-Hotel later this year, is owned by Jack Entertainment, a gaming company owned by Dan Gilbert, owner of the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers. Detroit-based Jack Entertainment also owns casinos in Cleveland, Cincinnati and Baltimore.

The Cavaliers hired Rossetti to design a refresh of premium areas as part of a $140 million renovation of Quicken Loans Arena, to be completed in 2019. The team said there had been no talk of Jack Entertainment’s casino properties getting a presence in the building as part of the upgrades. Gilbert’s Cleveland casino is a few blocks from the arena.

To this point, gambling in Ohio is restricted to table games and slot machines since the opening of the state’s first casino in 2012. Additional legislation would be required to legalize sports betting in Ohio, the Cleveland Plain-Dealer reported this week.

For Rossetti, it would be a seamless transition, said Kelly Deines, the firm’s creative director.

“Our knowledge of gaming environments can easily translate into an arena/stadium environment,” Deines said. “It’s about creating an experience that resonates for sports fans and adding entertainment value through gaming.”

Considering the enormous revenue potential, the list of gaming ideas is endless, Deines said, keeping in mind state laws, plus equipment needs, market demographics and social behavior patterns. He sees the potential for gaming devices to be integrated into public concourses, as well as premium areas at arenas and stadiums.

“Like any experience, it will need to be curated for the specific venue,” Deines said. “There will likely be some evolution to get the right balance.”

That’s key as teams start to figure out all the implications, said Brad Mayne, president and CEO of the International Association of Venue Managers and a former operator at MetLife Stadium and American Airlines Center.

“It’s going to be that immersion of the fan experience that’s going to drive how this works,” Mayne said. “Teams are going to have to make the decision — do we want people in these spaces placing their bets and want them to continue to stay to place multiple bets? Or do we want them watching the game?

“Some of that already happens in the VIP spaces like the bunker suites, when the game starts and it looks like nobody’s there [in the seating bowl],” he said. “At the same time, it’s getting people to the venue, spending money and experiencing the brand. There’s going to have to be a lot of thought put into what the teams and the venues are going to do, again, depending on state legislation.”

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Sour Notes For Nashville Soccer?
Posted: 16 May 2018, 3:00 pm

A rendering shows plans for the new soccer stadium situated at The Fairgrounds Nashville. (HOK)

The promising events of 2017 for soccer club Nashville FC have dissolved into questions about a soccer stadium planned for a site at The Fairgrounds.

In November, the Metro Council approved $225 million in revenue bonds for the $275 million, 27,500-seat stadium, which helped clear the way for the team's acceptance into Major League Soccer in December. But ahead of community planning workshops this month on how to revamp the site to accommodate the 10-acre stadium and private mixed-used development, a park and other features, politicians have entered the fray.

The council must still to vote to tear down buildings on The Fairgrounds Nashville site three miles from downtown, complete a lease agreement and rezone the property for the mixed-use development before any stadium bonds can be issued. Team owner John Ingram has warned local officials that if the government pulls out of the already approved stadium deal, the MLS will go away too.

The potential for backtracking comes as the mayoral race in Nashville heats up. Former Mayor Megan Barry championed the stadium project but resigned in March after pleading guilty to a felony theft charge connected to her affair with a former police bodyguard. Mayor David Briley, who took over for Barry, faces a special election May 24, and other candidates have called into question the wisdom of Briley continuing on the stadium path.

Mayoral candidates have questioned allowing the team to take over space next to the stadium for development while Nashville taxpayers shoulder financial risk, candidate Ralph Bristol told
local daily newspaper The Tennessean. One, Carol Swain, doesn’t believe the city can afford to fund the stadium, which the team plans to pay off with $25 million up front and $9 million a year over 30 years (ticket taxes are expected to cover the remainder of the yearly debt), and another, state Rep. Harold Love Jr., wants to look at changing the location but wonders whether any money at all should be spent on a stadium.

Briley, during his State of the Metro address earlier this month, said the stadium will happen at the fairgrounds, “as we made a commitment to do by an overwhelming vote of the Metro Council just last fall.” Ingram said the team has an agreement with the league to put the stadium at the fairgrounds.

Four-day community workshops scheduled for late May, led by the Nashville Civic Design Center, offer an “opportunity for the public to engage and help guide the vision for improvements to the fairgrounds,” said Gary Gaston, CEO of the design center. Fairgrounds officials, including Executive Director Laura Womack, hope to gain a consensus on design plans during the workshop from stakeholders, including quality-of-life opportunities for the neighbors and what improvements are needed for infrastructure and the speedway on the site, as well as the effort to put the stadium at the site.

No final decision has been made on an architect for the stadium. The team told VenuesNow earlier this year that it hopes to have a final design in place for the venue by the end of 2018. It declined to comment for this story, 

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It's Lit: Maine Venue's Marquee Restored
Posted: 16 May 2018, 12:00 pm

The marquee of the State Theatre in Portland, Maine, has a new shine to it. The theater was built in 1929. (Courtesy State Theatre)

After months of work, the State Theatre in Portland, Maine, has unveiled its restored marquee, featuring almost 800 lightbulbs.

The marquee was restored to its original appearance, with lettering and scroll work based off photographs from the 1930s. The only change made to the sign was the installation of light panels on the sides referencing coming shows.

The effort to restore and illuminate the marquee reportedy cost about $100,000 and received a grant from Portland’s Facade Improvement Program. 

The theater, which has a capacity of 1,929, was built in 1929 and is the city’s oldest surviving movie palace and now serves as Portland’s destination venue for live music. Matt And Kim, Bleachers, Steve Aoki, Bon Iver and St. Vincent have played the theater in the past year, among others.

Alex Crothers of Higher Ground Presents, which runs the State Theatre with The Bowery Presents, said in a statement: “When we took ownership of the theatre in 2010, most of our focus was on the interior renovations, so we’re thrilled to finally restore the only remaining historic marquee in Portland.  This is just another terrific step in the rejuvenation of the Congress Street corridor.” Those interior renovations cost a reported $1.5 million.

This story originally appeared on

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Posted: 15 May 2018, 1:00 pm

Bono and Adam Clayton of U2 perform at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on May 11. (Getty Images)

U2 kicked off its "Experience + Innocence" tour in Tulsa, Okla., on May 2, one of three of the group's dates to take spots in the top capacity category. SAP Center at San Jose, Calif., delivered the top gross: $3,703,304 for 28,579 in attendance over two shows.

Singer-songwriter Maluma also showed some chart dominance, piling up three entries across two categories, all for Texas stops. The highest gross among them was for a show at Laredo Energy Center: $801,625 for an audience of 8,567. 

HOT TICKETS is a weekly summary of the top events ranked by gross as reported to VN Pulse via Pollstar. Following are the top 20 concerts and events, the top 5 in each capacity category, that took place April 17-May 15.

15,000 or More Capacity

10,001-15,000 Capacity


5,000 or Less

1) U2
Gross Sales:
$3,703,304; Venue: SAP Center At San Jose, Calif.; Attendance: 28,579; Ticket Range: $325-$41; Promoter: Live Nation Global Touring; Dates: May 7-8; No. of Shows: 2

2) U2
Gross Sales: $2,188,948; Venue: BOK Center, Tulsa, Okla.; Attendance: 16,570; Ticket Range: $325-$41; Promoter: Live Nation Global Touring; Dates: May 2; No. of Shows: 1

3) U2
Gross Sales: $2,001,462 ; Venue: Miller Park, Milwaukee; Attendance: 16,300; Ticket Range: $325-$41; Promoter: Live Nation Global Touring; Dates: May 4; No. of Shows: 1

4) Chris Lee (Li Yuchun)
Gross Sales: $1,709,438; Venue: Mercedes-Benz Arena, Shanghai; Attendance: 10,568; Ticket Range: $294.77-$59.58; Promoter: Guangzhou LoveLive Culture Co.; Dates: Apr. 29; No. of Shows: 1

5) Pink
Gross Sales: $1,661,156; Venue: Philips Arena, Atlanta; Attendance: 12,441; Ticket Range: $260-$29; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Apr. 21; No. of Shows: 1

1) Michael McIntyre
Gross Sales: $932,591; Venue: Metro Radio Arena, Newcastle, England; Attendance: 18,982; Ticket Range: $74.31-$33.78; Promoter: Off The Kerb Productions; Dates: May 4-5; No. of Shows: 2

2) Harry Styles
Gross Sales: $895,011; Venue: Perth (Australia) Arena; Attendance: 9,256; Ticket Range: $114.08-$76.71; Promoter: Frontier Touring; Dates: Apr. 21; No. of Shows: 1

3) "Disney On Ice Presents Frozen"
Gross Sales: $814,566; Venue: Long Beach (Calif.) Arena; Attendance: 25,746; Ticket Range: $115-$15; Promoter: Feld Entertainment; Dates: Apr. 19-22; No. of Shows: 8

4) Maluma
Gross Sales: $749,082; Venue: Freeman Coliseum, San Antonio, Texas; Attendance: 6,895; Ticket Range: $150.50-$60.50; Promoter: Agave Productions, Cardenas Marketing Network; Dates: Apr. 22; No. of Shows: 1

5) Imagine Dragons
Gross Sales: $736,350; Venue: Konig - Pilsener Arena, Oberhausen, Germany; Attendance: 11,141; Ticket Range: $68.17-$56.31; Promoter: Prime Entertainment; Dates: Apr. 18; No. of Shows: 1

1) Bon Jovi
Gross Sales: $1,514,260; Venue: Mohegan Sun Arena, Uncasville, Conn.; Attendance: 8,503; Ticket Range: $200-$130; Promoter: In-house Promotion, Live Nation; Dates: May 5; No. of Shows: 1

2) "Viva Las Vegas Rockabilly Weekend"
Gross Sales: $1,232,517; Venue: Orleans Arena, Las Vegas; Attendance: 17,800; Ticket Range: $412-$54; Promoter: In-house Promotion; Dates: Apr. 21-22; No. of Shows: 2

3) Cirque du Soleil - "Crystal"
Gross Sales: $849,345; Venue: South Okanagan Events Centre, Penticton, British Columbia; Attendance: 15,960; Ticket Range: $97.12-$27.19; Promoter: Cirque du Soleil; Dates: Apr. 18-22; No. of Shows: 8

4) Maluma
Gross Sales: $801,625; Venue: Laredo (Texas) Energy Arena; Attendance: 8,567; Ticket Range: $140.50-$50.50; Promoter: Agave Productions, Cardenas Marketing Network; Dates: Apr. 21; No. of Shows: 1

5) Maluma
Gross Sales: $695,207; Venue: State Farm Arena, Hidalgo, Texas; Attendance: 5,046; Ticket Range: $169.50-$59.50; Promoter: Agave Productions, Cardenas Marketing Network; Dates: Apr. 28; No. of Shows: 1

1) "Springsteen On Broadway," Bruce Springsteen
Gross Sales: $1,928,605; Venue: Walter Kerr Theatre, New York City; Attendance: 3,792; Ticket Range: $850-$75; Promoter: Thrill Hill Productions; Dates: May 2-5; No. of Shows: 4

2) "Springsteen On Broadway," Bruce Springsteen
Gross Sales: $1,925,155; Venue: Walter Kerr Theatre, New York City; Attendance: 3,792; Ticket Range: $850-$75; Promoter: Thrill Hill Productions; Dates: Apr. 17-20; No. of Shows: 4

3) "The Color Purple"
Gross Sales: $1,189,317; Venue: The Smith Center / Reynolds Hall, Las Vegas; Attendance: 14,874; Ticket Range: $123-$32; Promoter: In-House Production; Dates: Apr. 24-29; No. of Shows: 8

4) "Waitress"
Gross Sales: $1,183,267; Venue: Carol Morsani Hall, Tampa, Fla.; Attendance: 16,250; Ticket Range: $148-$38; Promoter: In-house Promotion; Dates: Apr. 24-29; No. of Shows: 8

5) Jerry Seinfeld
Gross Sales: $862,032; Venue: The Colosseum At Caesars Palace, Las Vegas; Attendance: 7,256; Ticket Range: $165-$82.50; Promoter: Caesars Entertainment Inc., AEG Presents: Dates: Apr. 20-21; No. of Shows: 2

The weekly Hot Tickets chart is compiled by Pollstar. For more information, email or click here to submit your Box Office data now.


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Sports Architect Heinlein Has Retired
Posted: 14 May 2018, 3:00 pm

George Heinlein, most recently of architecture firm HOK, stands at Detroit's Little Caesars Arena, one of his most recent designs. (Courtesy HOK)

George Heinlein, a sports architect responsible for developing premium seat trends including bunker suites and theater boxes, has quietly retired. Heinlein, most recently a senior vice president at HOK, spent over 30 years designing arenas and stadiums before calling it quits at the end of 2017.

Heinlein, 54, says he stepped down to focus on his health and family. Over the past several months, he has enjoyed spending more time with his wife, Jan. They live in Kansas City and have been traveling together, Heinlein said.

After coping with the stress of designing sports facilities over the past four decades, some of which cost more than a billion dollars, Heinlein is happy to step away from the industry.

“I’m exercising more and cooking and eating healthy foods,” he said.

It’s been a stellar run for Heinlein. His final projects included Little Caesars Arena, the new home of the NHL’s Detroit Red Wings and NBA’s Pistons, plus major renovations to Philips Arena in Atlanta and Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Fla., and a new practice facility for the NBA’s Atlanta Hawks.

His portfolio also includes high-profile buildings such as MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., Chicago’s United Center; Miami’s AmericanAirlines Arena; Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio; Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tenn.; Toronto’s Air Canada Centre; and Rogers Place in Edmonton, Alberta.

Over the years, Heinlein and his longtime partner and KU fraternity brother, Brad Schrock, remained hands-on designers, unlike other architects who turn to business development later in their careers. On his own, Heinlein’s portfolio reflects his long-term relationship with developer Jay Cross. Together, they were on the front end of developing new premium seat concepts now common at many pro and college venues.

“He’s a fabulous architect and I think his retirement is a loss for the industry,” said Cross, president of Related Hudson Yards, a subsidiary of Related Cos. that is developing Hudson Yards on New York City’s West Side, and formerly of the NFL’s New York Jets and NBA’s Miami Heat. “He’s uniquely creative when it comes to understanding sight lines and product type.”

The bunker suite trend gained traction at AmericanAirlines Arena, which opened in 1999 during Cross’ tenure as the Heat’s president of business operations. (Five years earlier, George W. Bush had his own bunker suite at Globe Life Park at the time he owned the Texas Rangers.) In Miami, Heinlein designed “star boxes,” the name describing private hospitality spaces hidden beneath the seating bowl. The 20 star boxes, with views that include Biscayne Bay and the Miami skyline, are the only suite product at the NBA arena in a South Florida market saturated with suites.

Loge boxes, groups of four portable seats with counter space and small TV screens, were another premium product Heinlein designed at AmericanAirlines Arena, as well as Air Canada Centre, the Toronto arena where he came on board late in the project to design a seating bowl with the flexibility to accommodate both hockey and basketball.

“He was a really strong observer of what makes a seating bowl work well,” Cross said. “It’s like a fourth sense of dimension, and it makes him special.”

Through those ties with Cross, Heinlein crossed paths with other sports executives, which led to multiple projects, including Hard Rock Stadium and Philips Arena.

Thad Sheely is one example. Sheely, the Hawks’ chief operating officer, worked with Cross in Miami and in New York, where Heinlein worked on the old West Side Stadium project before the Jets and Giants switched sites to the New Jersey Meadowlands. About two years ago in Atlanta, HOK won a design competition to revamp Philips Arena. The focus was to eliminate the original suite wall with unsold inventory and create new premium products as part of a $193 million renovation.

Heinlein had a fierce desire to win the job, Sheely said. Under the architect’s guidance, HOK’s proposal had 30 ideas for refreshing premium seats. The team incorporated eight of those concepts into the final design, including Hawk Bar, the NBA’s first open-air courtside lounge, situated behind the north baseline.

The idea came from the field level clubs at MetLife Stadium, which opened in 2010, one year after the Dallas Cowboys introduced the concept at AT&T Stadium. At the time, Sheely was the New York Jets’ vice president of stadium development and finance and Heinlein was designing the facility.

“It wasn’t a great place to watch the game, but it was a great place to experience the game,” Sheely said. “We were talking about how to bring that [experience] to basketball. Hawk Bar answered that question. George took that concept from a football stadium and applied it to an arena. He understood … the revenue behind the baseline is not that great but we’re giving courtside seat holders something that nobody else has.”

In Chicago, Heinlein developed the theater box concept at United Center as a retrofit, launching a trend that grew rapidly across NBA and NHL arenas by shrinking traditional suites into smaller groups of premium seats with supporting lounge space to meet the shift in market demand.

Heinlein had the good fortune of being part of United Center’s original design team during his days at the old HOK Sport, which later became Populous. It was his first big-league arena project. The arena opened in 1994, and about 20 years later, United Center came back to Heinlein to plan upgrades and design new practice facilities for the Bulls and Blackhawks down the street from the venue.

“The ease of working with George made that the logical choice for us to do that,” said Terry Savarise, United Center’s senior vice president of operations. “He’s a very talented guy. There’s always a practical side to his ideas and thought processes, which as on ownership group, we’ve always appreciated.”

Heinlein’s departure from HOK comes three years after the firm acquired 360 Architecture, which Heinlein and Schrock founded in 2004. HOK’s current projects include renovations to Northwestern’s Welsh-Ryan Arena; improvements to the NFL Chicago Bears’ practice facility in Lake Forest, Ill.; and the design of new practice facilities for the Arizona and South Florida college football teams.

Separately, the firm is pursuing the Nashville MLS stadium project and Arizona State University’s new hockey arena. As those projects unfold, Heinlein feels the company’s sports practice remains in good hands with strong designers such as Nate Appleman, Ryan Gedney, Chris DeVolder and Micheal Day.

“They’re the next wave of leaders at the firm,” Heinlein said.

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Edgar Moving To Peoria
Posted: 9 May 2018, 5:25 pm

Rik_Edger_200x145_.jpgRik Edgar.

Rik Edgar has been hired as Peoria (Ill.) Civic Center’s new general manager. Edgar will leave his post as general manager of Big Sandy Superstore Arena in Huntington, W.Va., to take the new position.

The search for a new GM started in early March after the departure of previous manager Anne Clayton.

Both venues are managed by SMG Worldwide Entertainment. Edger will start in Peoria on June 11.

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Spectra Gets Illinois Food Deal
Posted: 9 May 2018, 1:00 pm

The University of Illinois' State Farm Arena, where a $170 million refurbishment was recently completed, has new club lounges.

University of Illinois sports fans can expect a renewed commitment to local food brands and the use of nonprofit groups after the Big Ten Conference school signed Spectra to run concessions and premium dining at all athletic facilities in Champaign.

The Philadelphia vendor signed a five-year deal with Illinois in an agreement announced this week. Spectra replaces Sodexo, which ran the food for three years after the school operated it in-house for many years.

Sodexo signed on for five years with a five-year option, according to a 2015 story on the deal, which would mean it is leaving before the end of the contract.

The deal marks Spectra’s first Big Ten contract and its 13th college account overall. Others include Texas Tech, Vanderbilt, Wake Forest, Central Florida and Colorado State. Aramark and Levy, which recently took over the sports food operation for Northwestern, another Big Ten school in Illinois, were in the hunt, said sources familiar with the negotiations.

“This deal takes us to a higher level in college athletics,” said Jay Satenspiel, Spectra’s regional vice president overseeing the Illinois account. “We’re making a major push in the Big Ten.”

In Champaign, Spectra hired John Hopple as general manager. Hopple ran the food at Texas Tech’s sports venues and most recently worked at Talen Energy Stadium, home of Major League Soccer’s Philadelphia Union. Hopple had expressed a desire to return to the college market, Satenspiel said.

Hopple starts June 1 in Champaign, the date Spectra’s deal officially takes effect.

Spectra’s goal is to revitalize the school’s nonprofit program, which has struggled with fewer groups working concessions, according to Satenspiel. For the new food provider, it’s an important piece of feeding fans at the university’s Memorial Stadium and State Farm Center and a way of giving back to the community. Spectra officials plan to contact fraternities, sororities, cheerleading squads and other on-campus organizations to come back and work sports events, he said.

Local brands play a key role in sports food, and Spectra wants to bring Joe’s Brewery back into the fold. The sports pub specializes in burgers and craft beers and is a hot spot in Champaign, but had dropped off the stadium’s food roster. The vendor wants it  to rejoin under the new operation, Satenspiel said.

Hickory River Smokehouse of neighboring Urbana, already part of stadium concessions, is expected to return for the 2018 season, he said.

On the premium side, there are opportunities to increase the level of food quality, especially at State Farm Center, the school’s 55-year-old arena, which went through a multiyear, $170 million renovation that was completed in 2016. Designed by AECOM, the club lounges are among the nicest in the Big Ten, and the arena now has the proper support spaces to serve higher-quality fare, Satenspiel said.

Spectra officials see promise as Illinois Athletic Director Josh Whitman, hired in February 2016, attempts to improve the school’s two revenue-producing sports. Former NFL coach Lovie Smith returns for his third season as the Fighting Illini’s head football coach. Brad Underwood recently completed his first season as head coach of the men’s basketball team.

“It’s a new era for University of Illinois sports, and we’re proud to be part of it,” Satenspiel said.

Jason Lener, Illinois’ senior associate athletic director, said in an email that he could not talk about the Spectra deal until after the school completes negotiations with Sodexo regarding its exit from the food contract.

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‘Tiger Effect’ Extends To F&B
Posted: 9 May 2018, 11:00 am

Local eatery JJ’s Red Hots, one of Levy’s highest-grossing locations for the 2016 Wells Fargo Championship, returned for the 2018 edition last weekend. (Don Muret)

Tiger Woods’ putting game fell below par last weekend at the Wells Fargo Championship in Charlotte, N.C., but for sports concessionaire Levy, his presence alone was a winning formula.

When Woods competes in a PGA event where Levy runs the food, sales increase by up to 50 percent, said Dustin Atty, Levy’s on-site director of operations.

At this year’s Wells Fargo Championship May 3-6, Levy posted a double-digit increase in sales compared with 2016, the last time Quail Hollow Golf Club had the event, company officials said. They did not disclose a specific number. (The 2017 Wells Fargo Championship was held in Wilmington, N.C., while the Charlotte course prepared for the PGA Championship).

It’s been a while since Levy’s golf division, which runs the food at 38 PGA Tour events, could track the Tiger trend in Charlotte. This year marked Woods’ first appearance in six years at Quail Hollow. Woods was among the final touring pros to make the cut and he finished in a tie for 55th place overall.

Woods announced he would play at the Wells Fargo a few days before the event started. That gave Levy time to set up 40 more points of sale around the golf course. All told, Levy had 180 points of sale for the tournament, Atty said.

“We know he’s definitely going to drive business and crowds,” he said.

The thing is, those 90 points of sale situated on the front nine doesn’t help much if Woods is playing the back nine, said George Scott, Levy’s division president. Working with E15, Levy’s data analytics group, the vendor has designed more concession stands in golf as grab-and-go operations for greater efficiency after taking a closer look at transactions per hour, Scott said. The quicker PGA patrons can get their food, the quicker they can find Tiger and their other favorite golfers.

“It’s almost like a gas station/convenience store,” he said. “For the coolers, we backload them from the rear. We have the hot food set up on another side, which keeps the production going seamlessly and keeps the lines flowing.”

At Quail Hollow, JJ’s Red Hots, a Charlotte hot dog eatery, set up a grab-and-go location on Event Hill, nestled between the 18th green and the 10th tee. Walking inside a tent, customers passed by warming racks where they could pick up one of four hot dog options with various toppings before passing a cooler filled with beer, soda and bottled water.

JJ’s Red Hots is in its second year with the Wells Fargo Championship. It was one of Levy’s highest-grossing locations for the 2016 event and drew tremendous fan feedback, Atty said. Chick-fil-A, meanwhile, was a new addition this year, replacing Bojangles’ Famous Chicken ’n Biscuits.

Food trucks were also new this year. Five trucks stationed along the Green Mile Village, situated between the 16th and 18th fairways, offered tacos, barbecue, sliders, ice cream and hibachi grilled items. Pro Links Sports, the tournament’s new operator, is a big advocate of food trucks, and Levy tested them in Charlotte before potentially increasing the number of trucks in 2019, Scott said.

“A lot of times when you approach some of these local restaurateurs, they don’t have the resources to come out here, because when you take all this away, it’s just grass and trees,” Scott said. “The food trucks are a natural fit to come into this environment and there’s not a lot of upfront cost for those operators.”

Digging deeper into data, Levy has identified two distinct groups of PGA spectators. There are those whose average age is 55 and have been golf enthusiasts for many years. They tend to “dwell” in one spot for most of the day as the players come around the course, Scott said. Conversely, many younger golf fans, average age 35, fall in the “transient” category. They gravitate to various destinations on the course to sample craft beers and visit the wine bars, he said.

“One of the things that intrigues us about golf is the fans are changing,” he said. “It’s a blend to create those different experiences for both those segments. The food trucks resonate with the younger crowd, along with the craft beers. The 55 crowd that has been into golf for some time enjoy our premium areas with air-conditioned spaces.”

In both cases, the demographics are similar to those fans attending NBA games at Spectrum Center, home of the Charlotte Hornets and a Levy account, Scott said.

Recently, though, Levy has found a third trend, PGA patrons who want to experience the entire course. They may be casual fans without a favorite player to follow. They’re wandering the property with no specific plan, Scott said.

“That’s the beauty of operating food at 38 tournaments across the country, to be able to collect that data and be proactive on the planning side,” he said. “Our clients do in-house surveys and we rely on point-of-sale data. We’ll know if the taco food truck is a hit based on how it compares to the rest of the course and (whether we should) bring it back next year.”

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First Location-Based Show For Feld
Posted: 8 May 2018, 10:00 pm

Just a year after announcing the Jurassic World Live arena tour, Feld Entertainment has announced a second collaboration with NBC Universal — DreamWorks Trolls The Experience.

The new show is an immersive, interactive experience that will be housed in a 12,000-square-foot retail space in New York City, where it will sit for 15 months while Feld Entertainment and Universal Brand Development decide what the next iteration of Trolls will be. It may be a traveling exhibit or another location-based run, said Steve Yaros, Feld senior vice president of global public relations.

The Feld team, in collaboration with Universal Brand Development, is always asking questions, he added. How does this immersive experience translate? Where do we put it? Will it always be location based or will it tour? “These are all things we will try to learn and discover while it sits for 15 months in New York City,” Yaros said.

The planned location — 218 W. 57th St., between Broadway and Seventh Avenue — now houses the Downton Abbey Exhibit, which has been there more than a year. Before that the building was an art supply store for years and years, Yaros recalled from his days in that city. Feld and Universal are leasing the venue from GGP.

The timeline has tickets on sale in July, the install in September, a soft opening in October and launch in November. “We have conceptually described what the areas in the exhibit will be. We haven’t gone hammer-to-nail yet, but that’s coming up in the next two weeks,” Yaros said.
There will be timed entry points.  The producers are estimating 90 minutes to get through the exhibit rooms.

“It’s all interactive,” Yaros said. “You go into one room and it’s a beauty parlor where you can be made up as a troll, another is a sing-along where you sing songs from the movie. Each room has a different immersive experience, and it’s very hands on.”

The target demo is families with kids ages 4-11. The average ticket price, not yet solidified, will be in the $45 range.

“We’re working through pricing and ticketing systems and the best schedule for timed entries,” Yaros said.

It is a modular exhibit. The goal is that it would move to venues of different sizes or shapes.
“We want to create experiences that best fit the intellectual property,” Yaros said. The decision was to find a way families could interact with the brand.

The production team is not yet fully assembled, but Feld has begun working with BeCore, Los Angeles, on the design and build.

“This is an example of us saying we can be more than what we are,” Yaros said. According to the press release, this collaboration between Feld and Universal Brand Development “marks the first collaboration in an innovative multi-property relationship that will develop and create other large-scale and mobile pop-up immersive experiences.”

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Today’s Special? It’s A Secret
Posted: 8 May 2018, 8:30 pm

The fried peanut butter and jelly sandwich is one of Levy Executive Chef Jessica Helms’ creations at Portland’s Moda Center. (Courtesy Levy)

Levy Executive Chef Jessica Helms of Portland’s Moda Center loves interacting on social media with fans of the hometown Trail Blazers. She wanted to give those fans something special to look forward to when the Trail Blazers hosted a first-round NBA playoff game last month. So she created a “secret menu,” known only to fans following her on Instagram and Twitter.

Meanwhile in Los Angeles, for the start of the Major League Baseball season, Levy Executive Chef Ryan Evans was doing something similar at Dodger Stadium. And the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights change their game-day “versus” menu each night of the playoffs, the theme based on the opponent.

As chefs look to excite home fans with a revolving local option, the idea of creating secret menu items and one-off creations and building social media buzz has started to grow.

For Helms, the secret menu wasn’t about a new business model, but an opportunity to capitalize on social media excitement around the playoffs and create fan engagement with the culinary aspect of the game.

“I think we got some great social media conversation started about it,” she said. “I don’t know if that was my intent, but that was my favorite part and the most rewarding. Fans were saying, ‘I’m looking forward to it, can’t wait to find it,’ and being able to have that interaction with the fans is fantastic and something I would like to have a lot more of. It opens up a line of conversation.”

The Trail Blazers hosted the first two games of their first-round series. For the first game, Helms offered a fried peanut butter and jelly sandwich ($6). Taking three slices of sourdough bread, marshmallow fluff, strawberry jam and smooth peanut butter, she battered it, fried it, cut it in half and dusted it with powdered sugar. For the second game, she created a chorizo dog ($13) with local beef, bread, pork, cheese and jalapenos.

For each game, she created only about 50 of each item and placed them in a stand on the upper level. Fans found out about the items ahead of the game only through Helms’ social accounts. She selected stands—ones that had the equipment and employee know-how to handle the more complex creations—on the upper concourse to keep them off the already hopping 100 level. A local chalk artist made signs to go with the items, the only other way to know about the addition to the menu.

Unfortunately for Helms, the third-seeded Trail Blazers collapsed in the playoffs, getting swept in four games by New Orleans, leaving her without an opportunity to continue to grow the new concept. “I had three or four more ideas, and hopefully we can roll them out for some specialty games” next season, she said.

And that’s where this secret menu concept is headed. “You talk about local, seasonal, specialty items that you are only able to get in small quantities,” she said. “The options at Moda Center have yet to be tapped.”

Evans embraced his secret menu concept at the start of the MLB season, offering 60 D.C. crab cake sandwiches for a single game in April. He carried on the concept by offering new menu items for limited times that tie to the opponent. In baseball, where a team will host another team for three or four straight games, the menu items will often span the series.

Vegas’ NHL team has embraced that concept for the playoffs, while the Portland Timbers of Major League Soccer carry on their tradition of a quesadilla of the match this season.

Helms said she hopes to someday do one new menu item every game, although she may start with just Sunday games. “I definitely think there is something to it, something we can continue to do that will only gain traction,” she said. “It has the opportunity to take off, if we continue to do it.”

Helms said that it takes a strong culinary team wanting to expand its horizons and, ultimately, take on extra work. She knows that Portland’s intense love of food culture helps drive fans toward the new and different. Plus, giving season-ticket holders something that’s always changing provides a draw too.

“It is for fans looking for more, different, exciting and fun,” she said. “The social media aspect of it has a ‘look what I found’ element that furthers the conversation.”

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A Mind-Blowing Experience
Posted: 8 May 2018, 5:00 pm

Bubbleworks fills large spaces with massive amounts of bubbles, including a major outdoor mall in Mexico City, Antara Polanco. (Courtesy Bubbleworks)

Bubbleworks launched this year as a company committed to creating bubble experiences at major events and venues, starting with festivals like Coachella and Electric Daisy Carnival.

The parent company is MagicSnow, which launched 15 years ago to exclusively create snow experiences. “This is a summertime complement to what we started,” founder Adam Williams said.

Bubbles have a long history of delighting people of all ages, but Bubbleworks bubbles are on an industrial scale, filling up to four city blocks with long-lasting, residue-free, chemically enhanced bubbles, Williams said. He can even add smoke and black light effects. “We’re bringing bubbles up to date and making them a relevant, trendy, fun, large-scale experience for festivals, concerts, (electronic dance music) events, theme parks, just about everything. The biggest challenge we have is convincing potential clients we can fill large spaces with bubbles and really transform spaces.”

Alexis Ellstein is convinced. In charge of marketing for a shopping mall developer that owns Antara Polanco in Mexico City, Ellstein made the trip to Bubbleworks in Los Angeles to see the product five years ago. Convinced Bubbleworks could fill the four-block outdoor mall with long-lasting and densely produced bubbles that create the “wow” experience that MagicSnow does during the winter holidays, he booked the show.

“Our group has three or four installations now, all at shopping malls,” Ellstein told VenuesNow. “It’s not a promotion — it’s an event. In Polanco, it’s based in springtime, focused on kids and their families. It’s an experience we bring to our customers.” This year’s experience started April 27 and runs through May 27.

Antara Polanco promotes the experience through its own digital media and lets the customers take it from there. “We do see an increase in traffic — we see a lot of people taking pictures, shooting videos, interacting with social media accounts. We’ve been growing in client numbers coming into shopping malls.”

The event involves four shows a day, at 3, 4, 5 and 6 p.m. The goal is to increase length of stay. “When we have the bubble shows going on, we can see how the parking lot is moving and see more cars staying for more time in our malls,” Ellstein said. “In some of our shopping malls, it even works more than MagicSnow.”

He also likes that it is unique to his group’s malls in Mexico. To ensure that remains the case, they have an exclusive in those markets. “It’s cool to watch the whole mall filled with bubbles. It transforms the shopping mall into something different, something you’ve never seen before,” Ellstein said.

The bubbles are timed to music selected by the client and Bubbleworks technicians. Williams said the cost varies depending upon the number of bubble machines and technicians involved and the length of the booking, from as low as $5,000 to as much as $200,000. In Mexico City, they use 60 machines to cover the space. Outdoors, more is better to account for shifts in the wind and temperature. Most installations use far fewer machines and operators.

Consumers experience “this surprise and delight they weren’t expecting,” Williams added. They almost always take their cameras out and post photos on Instagram and Facebook. “At the end of the season, there are people waiting at the designated show times for this bubble experience.”

Williams first took the show indoors at Pacific Place in Seattle, a four-story atrium-centered mall. Stephanie Heick, director of marketing, booked the event twice a day on Saturdays from June through August. Having seen the effects of MagicSnow, with the mall filled with people waiting for the snow, she was more than happy to book this experiential and very photographic moment for children and adults.

coachella300.jpgBubbleworks played the Coachella music festival last month in Indio, Calif. (Courtesy Bubbleworks)

The event garnered publicity on its own, including a story in Alaska Airlines magazine. Heick connected some of the local restaurants, which offered a BubbleUpp hour with sparking drinks at a special price. She also ran a Facebook photo contest, giving the winner four move tickets, popcorn, drinks and a $100 gift card to one of the partner restaurants.

“It was very magical and the perfect ‘Instagrammable’ moment,” she said. “It’s kind of contagious.” Given that hers is a vertical venue, it’s gratifying that bubbles rise, unlike snow, which falls.

That’s one of the reasons Williams sees this as perfect for big venues and events. Bubbles can truly fill large spaces. He is just beginning to market Bubbleworks as its own, bubble-centric enterprise, similar to his decision 15 years ago to concentrate one company on one thing – snow.

“We’re going to elevate the bubble experience to create something no one else is doing and to make it an epic spectacle,” Williams declared.

Be aware this is not your Dollar Store bubble wand you’re waving in the air. This is making bubbles on an industrial grand scale.

They spend a lot of time picking just the right pop song each summer that will complement the bubble experience. At Coachella, the bubbles shot off the Do Lab stage and DJs programmed it.

“We can highlight whatever experience you’re going for,” he said. “It’s an ideal, large-scale, over-the-top spectacle. What we’re doing is a theatrical effect.”

Bubbleworks offers a turnkey experience, including bubble machines, musical programs, and a team of technicians. Installation varies with the size of the experience, six hours to up to six days, as happened in Mexico City. Bubbleworks carries a $5 million commercial insurance policy for snow, bubbles and fog.

Williams said Bubbleworks chemists refined the bubble formula to create a bubble that lasts up to two minutes and can fill large spaces yet leaves no residue when it pops. “We are on our 134th variation of our formula … tested a lot to have a bubble formula that travels far and pops clean,” Williams said.

“Our rule of thumb is eight minutes is the ideal show time,” Williams said of the experience. “We want to leave people wanting more, not wanting to leave. It’s just enough they want to come back.”

At the height of each season, Bubbleworks employs 20-30 people. The ideal conditions for a show would be cool temperatures and some air movement, but Williams has made it work in all sorts of conditions, including the Indio desert location for Coachella.

“When we design an installation, we install at multiple levels, multiple heights. Sometimes bubbles float up, sometimes down, sometimes both,” Williams said.

Now he’s looking for signature projects. “We’re making bubbles; it’s difficult to build credibility unless you do it the right way.” He already did it with MagicSnow, which had 100 percent client renewal this year. “I’ve climbed this mountain before,” Williams said.

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Barclays Center Nabs Overwatch Final
Posted: 8 May 2018, 3:00 pm

The first Overwatch League Grand Finals, which will determine the champions of the league’s first global season, will be played July 27-28 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y.

The event follows the Overwatch League’s first regular season, set to end June 17, and the postseason, which will begin with a field of six teams July 11 at Blizzard Arena Los Angeles in Burbank, Calif. The two finalists from that tournament will face off at the Barclay’s event to battle for a share of the $1.4 million prize pool.

The league, consisting of 12 teams representing cities and owned by Blizzard Entertainment, was founded last year. Teams compete in the video game “Overwatch,” developed and published by Blizzard.

Barclays Center’s Keith Sheldon, executive vice president of programming for Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment, said, “It is a two-day event of gameplay between the final two teams in Overwatch League. The teams will play a best-of-three series, similar to what you would find in a traditional sports league.”

The first match will be played July 27, and the second (and third if necessary) will be played July 28. Sheldon expects every session to sell out. Fans can buy tickets to individual sessions or a package for the whole event.

Tickets will go on sale March 18. Pricing has not yet been determined.

“When the prospect became real, we went after it aggressively,” Sheldon said. “We think the Overwatch (owners) are doing a phenomenal job building out their platform. It’s a unique platform that is city-based and global, and it just so happens that the New York franchise is doing particularly well this year, so we’re fortunate that New York has a potential dog in the fight.”

Overwatch League Commissioner Nate Nanzer said in an email, “Our overarching goal for the Overwatch League Grand Finals is for it to be an epic experience, for thousands of fans on site and millions of viewers around the world.

“To do so, and to effectively convey that this event is the pinnacle of esports, we needed a world-class venue like Barclays Center in a global destination like New York.

“Venue management at Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment has been fantastic in helping us celebrate not only the league’s two best teams, but the fans, partners, and players who have joined us on the incredible journey of our inaugural season.” 

Sheldon said the preliminary event-build of the designs for the show “looks spectacular.”

“One of the great things about these esports events is that it combines incredible production elements you get in a major concert with the drama and intrigue of a stick-and-ball sporting event,” he said.

Sheldon does not anticipate any logistical challenges. “Our IT is top notch and ready for the kind of usage that an esports event will bring,” he said, citing the fact that Barclays Center has already hosted ESL One, the East Coast’s largest esports tournament.

There are no plans for any new F&B items. “Our Taste of Brooklyn has offerings for every type of appetite,” he said. “Potentially we will attract people who have never been to Brooklyn before, and it will give them an opportunity to sample a taste of the borough.”

“We’re just thrilled that they selected us,” Sheldon said. “Gaming has become one of the biggest sports in the 18-25 demographic in the U.S. and this is the type of audience a brand can built around. We’re excited to do more with global esports brands.”

The contract is for one year, but Barclays Center would be “thrilled to host them every year,” he said. “It is our intention to make Barclays Center the premier destination for esports events in the world.”

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Posted: 7 May 2018, 7:00 pm

The cast of "Something Rotten," now touring in a Broadway Across America-promoted production of the Broadway musical smash. (Photo Courtesy: Braodway in Atlanta presentation at the Fox Theatre)

Everything is coming up roses for the "Something Rotten" run at Fox Theatre in Atlanta. Eight shows of the Shakespeare-skewing Broadway smash grossed $1,676,514, with 30,370 theater-lovers attending. Ticket range was $30-$125.50 for the Broadway Across America-promoted musical.

The Killers are killing it in Australia. A single show at Perth Arena grossed $1,161,664, with attendance of 14,140. Ticket range was $69.04-$113.76; the promoter is Frontier Touring.

HOT TICKETS is a weekly summary of the top events ranked by gross as reported to VN Pulse via Pollstar. Following are the top 20 concerts and events, the top 5 in each capacity category, that took place April 10-May 8.

More Than 15,000 Capacity

10,001-15,000 Capacity


5,000 or Less

1) Kenny Chesney
Gross Sales:
$6,245,650; Venue: Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, Fla.; Attendance: 55,292; Ticket Range: $257.50-$32.50; Promoter: Messina Touring Group/AEG Presents; Dates: April 21; No. of Shows: 1

2) Bruno Mars
Gross Sales: $6,174,396 ; Venue: Mercedes-Benz Arena, Shanghai; Attendance: 36,891; Ticket Range: $357.89-$91.04; Promoter: Beijing Damai Culture Co., Live Nation; Dates: Apr. 20-23; No. of Shows: 3

3) Kenny Chesney
Gross Sales: $5,136,660; Venue: Miller Park, Milwaukee; Attendance: 43,526; Ticket Range: $252-$42; Promoter: Messina Touring Group/AEG Presents; Dates: Apr. 28; No. of Shows: 1

4) Justin Timberlake
Gross Sales: $5,113,319; Venue: T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas; Attendance: 30,493; Ticket Range: $280-$60; Promoter: Live Nation Global Touring; Dates: Apr. 14-15; No. of Shows: 2

5) Kenny Chesney
Gross Sales: $4,999,184; Venue: U.S. Bank Stadium, Minneapolis; Attendance: 48,255; Ticket Range: $260-$29; Promoter: Messina Touring Group/AEG Presents; Dates: May 5; No. of Shows: 1

1) The Killers
Gross Sales: $1,161,664; Venue: Perth (Australia) Arena; Attendance: 14,140; Ticket Range: $113.76-$69.04; Promoter: Frontier Touring; Dates: May 1; No. of Shows: 1

2) Foo Fighters
Gross Sales: $855,218; Venue: Austin360 Amphitheater, Austin, Texas; Attendance: 12,760; Ticket Range: $99-$45; Promoter: C3 Presents; Dates: Apr. 18; No. of Shows: 1

3) Harry Styles
Gross Sales: $789,499; Venue: The SSE Hydro, Glasgow, Scotland; Attendance: 10,546; Ticket Range: $74.52-$60.97; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Apr. 14; No. of Shows: 1

4) Eric Church
Gross Sales: $780,854; Venue: Austin360 Amphitheater, Austin, Texas; Attendance: 12,671; Ticket Range: $129-$27.50; Promoter: Messina Touring Group/AEG Presents; Dates: Apr. 28; No. of Shows: 1

5) Foo Fighters
Gross Sales: $776,680; Venue: CenturyLink Center, Bossier City, La.; Attendance: 10,304; Ticket Range: $89-$39; Promoter: Beaver Productions; Dates: Apr. 22; No. of Shows: 1

1) Sebastian Maniscalco
Gross Sales: $3,391,238; Venue: Radio City Music Hall, New York City; Attendance: 27,941; Ticket Range: $296-$55.75; Promoter: Outback Concerts; Dates: Apr.19-21; No. of Shows: 5

2) Jennifer Lopez
Gross Sales: $2,541,417; Venue: Zappos Theater At Planet Hollywood, Las Vegas; Attendance: 14,722; Ticket Range: $412-$54; Promoter: Caesars Entertainment Inc., Live Nation; Dates: Apr. 17-21; No. of Shows: 4

3) Cirque Du Soleil "Sep7imo Dia"
Gross Sales: $1,850,553; Venue: Watsco Center, Coral Gables, Fla.; Attendance: 24,386; Ticket Range: $145-$55; Promoter: Cirque du Soleil; Dates: Apr. 18-22; No. of Shows: 8

4) Jennifer Lopez
Gross Sales: $1,785,458; Venue: Zappos Theater At Planet Hollywood, Las Vegas; Attendance: 9,679; Ticket Range: $412-$54; Promoter: Caesars Entertainment Inc., Live Nation; Dates: Apr. 11-14; No. of Shows: 3

5) Cirque du Soleil - "Crystal"
Gross Sales: $1,216,523; Venue: Abbotsford Centre, Abbotsford, B.C.; Attendance: 24,420; Ticket Range: $96.51-$27.02; Promoter: Cirque du Soleil; Dates: Apr. 11-15; No. of Shows: 8

1) "Something Rotten"
Gross Sales: $1,676,514; Venue: Fox Theatre, Atlanta; Attendance: 30,370; Ticket Range: $125.50-$30; Promoter: Broadway Across America; Dates: Apr. 17-22; No. of Shows: 8

2) "The Book Of Mormon"
Gross Sales: $1,675,035; Venue: Bass Concert Hall, Austin, Texas; Attendance: 21,236; Ticket Range: $150-$35; Promoter: Broadway Across America; Dates: Apr. 17-22; No. of Shows: 8

3) “Waitress”
Gross Sales: $1,448,840; Venue: Broward Ctr. Au-Rene Theater, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; Attendance: 13,446; Ticket Range: $90.25-$40.25; Promoter: Broadway Across America, Florida Theatrical Assn.; Dates: Apr. 17-22; No. of Shows: 8

4) “Jersey Boys”
Gross Sales: $1,430,925; Venue: Orpheum Theatre, Minneapolis; Attendance: 18,697; Ticket Range: $155-$21; Promoter: Broadway Across America, Hennepin Theatre Trust; Dates: Apr. 24-29; No. of Shows: 8

5) “On Your Feet”
Gross Sales: $1,248,458; Venue: Academy of Music, Philadelphia; Attendance: 15,153; Ticket Range: $175-$70; Promoter: In-house Promotion: Dates: Apr. 10-15; No. of Shows: 8

The weekly Hot Tickets chart is compiled by Pollstar. For more information, email or click here to submit your Box Office data now.


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Intel Capital Invests in VenueNext
Posted: 7 May 2018, 6:00 pm

5K cameras, part of the True View system, shown here in Minneapolis’ U.S. Bank Stadium.

Technology company VenueNext, which helps users experience venues through their smartphones, has received an investment from Intel Sports and Intel’s Retail Solutions Division to incorporate Intel technologies into its mobile platform.

“By integrating our technologies together we can further enhance our mobile offering to enrich the fan experience via their mobile devices,” said John Paul, CEO and founder of VenueNext.

Discussions started about a year ago. The deal was completed in the first quarter of this year and announced Tuesday at the Intel Capital Global Summit in Palm Desert, Calif. The amount of the investment was not disclosed.

“The way Intel works, it not only took the investment committee to sign off, but one of their business units. We got lucky in that we have two Intel business units — Sports and Retail Solutions — that work with us,” Paul said. Intel Capital will have “observer rights” on the VenueNext board.

The first mobile integration will be with Intel True View technology, which will provide fans with immersive 5K content that provides high-definition images from their smartphone, making them feel like they are on the field and in the game.

“Our replay technology takes a play and shows it from all different angles,” Paul said.
“Right now, the angle a fan sees is determined by the broadcaster. When our integration is complete, the fan will be able to choose where they want to be. You can choose to be in the quarterback’s eyes, the defender's eyes, or from a whole host of different perspectives.”

Intel True View innovation includes 5K high-resolution cameras spread throughout the stadium and data crunching technology called Volumetrix, which work by capturing volumetric data (height, width and depth) using voxels, a 3D pixel. It renders 3D replays and creates a multiperspective view of key moments of the game, Paul said.

VenueNext can now show replays four seconds after selected plays from four camera angles and can show a fan only the replays selected by the venue’s broadcast partner. “True View will be an additional way the fan can enjoy the game, and once it’s up and running the fan can decide which plays to replay,” he said.

Levis_Instant_Replay_Screenshot.jpgLevi's Stadium app, created by VenueNext, will soon integrate Intel True View technology.

The system is being used at two NFL stadiums: Levi’s Stadium, home of the San Francisco 49ers, and U.S. Bank Stadium, where the Minnesota Vikings play.

Paul pointed out that the technology can be used in any sort of venue and at concerts, meetings or non-sporting events, as well.

Paul said Intel was the right partner because of its “reach and broad customer base. We think of a venue as a piece of property and Intel has already built a platform for many (‘internet of things’) properties, and together we can take advantage of the work Intel has already done.”

James Carwana, vice president and general manager of Intel Sports, said in a statement: “Intel Sports is delivering the next-generation fan experience by allowing fans to be transported into the venue and view the game from every vantage point. Together with VenueNext’s ability to pull together multiple data streams from a venue to improve the fan experience, we’ll provide even more immersive ways to engage with the biggest moments on the field — by making Intel True View 360-replay content available in app, right at users’ fingertips.”

“VenuesNext wants to improve the fan experience and the business of the venues that are our customers,” Paul added. “We build the app that the customer wants whether they are a sports fan or a concertgoer.”

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Winnipeg Throwing Block Parties
Posted: 4 May 2018, 4:00 pm

A crowd of 23,000 was expected outside Winnipeg’s Bell MTS Place as the hometown Jets played the Nashville Predators in Game 6 of their NHL playoffs series. (Courtesy TNSE)

The smallest arena in the NHL has managed to get a good bit bigger — by throwing a block party — and fan fervor and per caps are both on the rise.

The Winnipeg Jets played Game 6 of their second-round Stanley Cup playoff series with the Nashville Predators at home Monday night, losing 4-0 and sending the series to a deciding Game 7 on Thursday in Nashville. Bell MTS Place was filled to its 16,345 capacity, but the total number of fans on hand to celebrate was more than double that, thanks to the Winnipeg Whiteout Street Party, which was expected to draw 23,000.

Kevin Donnelly, arena general manager and senior vice president of True North Sports & Entertainment, which owns and operates both the team and the arena, said the idea for the event was born this year as a way to get more fans a taste of playoff action for home games.

“There was an obvious recognition we’re the smallest building in the league and there’s more fans that want to be participate than we can accommodate in the building,” Donnelly, said. “So we created a block party on the streets surrounding the venue for the fans who couldn’t get tickets.”

The “whiteout” tips its cap to Jets fans’ tradition of wearing all white to playoff games, dating back to the city’s previous NHL franchise, and the street party crowds carry on the tradition.

The downtown party area includes a four-block plaza, 2 ½ city blocks and an adjacent park and has concession stands and seven giant TVs. More than 300 workers man the outside area for the events, which offer free admission.

The additional cost of staging the street parties was not disclosed, but  the arena is footing the bill, with a subsidy from the city. “It’s not a money-making venture,” Donnelly said. “It’s a gift for the fans.”

Six thousand people showed up on the night the block party was unveiled, for the first-round opener against the Minnesota Wild on April 11. It was 25 degrees outside. The second block party, April 13, saw 9,000 people flood the streets. It was 15 degrees.

By the third game April 20, when Winnipeg finished off the Wild, the outside temperature had climbed to 65 degrees and the crowd had climbed to 18,000 revved-up Jets fans, and the warm weather has continued.

“We had to expand the parameters of the party from two block to four blocks and added cross streets,” Donnelly said. “The news has dubbed it the “Hashtag Party” because the area looks like a giant hashtag from above.”

“We are now settling into a pattern here,” said Donnelly, delighted. “We’re seeing more people outside than inside. With the audience intensity inside, and the street action outside, it is pretty remarkable.

The idea for the block party came to Donnelly after he saw the “fever taking off. There was a growing itch for fans to be together and as close to our doorstep as can be.”

Donnelly took his plan to Mayor Brian Bowman and Economic Development Winnipeg, the city’s tourism branch. “I pressed upon the city that if we didn’t do something, the fans will look to go someplace and it’s always better to provide a location than to guess where they will show up,” he said. Fencing, toilets, large TV screens, food and beverage, and security all had to be part of the plan.

Once the Jets clinched a playoff berth, Donnelly was elated to see the plan get pushed into action. “We immediately went to our concessionaire, Centerplate. I explained my vision for a ‘Winter Whiteout Block Party’ and they concocted a special menu,” he said.

Craig Vidal, district manager and GM for Centerplate at the arena, said, “We were thrilled to be part of a plan that would allow more fans to gather to enjoy the fun and hockey together.”

Whiteout_Chicken_cone[1]1.pngBell MTS Place's Chicken Ranch Whiteout waffle cone, created for the #WPGWhiteout block parties.

Vidal and his team came up with special food items such as the Chicken Ranch Whiteout waffle cone, Whiteout poutine and a Whiteout pizza. “These are brand-new items, mostly twists on traditional items we already sell, and keeping with the “#WinnipegWhiteout” slogan that was designed for the playoffs,” Vidal said.

“Our overall event nights have grown from 15,000 people to 35,000 people,” he said. “The energy of the crowds and sales has been fantastic.”

The street party is doubling traditional per cap revenue, Vidal said.

“It’s been really rewarding working with the city and seeing the fans so engaged,” he added. “Everyone is happy with how the block parties have performed.”

Promotion was done by a media event with Donnelly and the mayor. The press conference was held the day before the first event.

The Jets will play Thursday for a chance to move on and face the Vegas Golden Knights in the next round, and if they advance then the parties will keep going. “We’ll absolutely continue the program till the end,” Donnelly said.

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NCAA To Vote On Beer, Wine
Posted: 2 May 2018, 1:00 pm

April's NCAA Men's Frozen Four at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn., was one site of test sales for beer and wine at an NCAA championship. (Getty Images)

NCAA officials will vote this summer on whether to approve beer and wine sales in public spaces for the 2019 Final Four men’s basketball tournament.

L.J. Wright, director of the Division I men’s basketball championship, confirmed the timetable for VenuesNow, although the exact date of the vote is unclear. The vote on the measure extends to committees overseeing 23 sports across the NCAA’s three divisions. All told, the NCAA oversees 90 championship events. Not all events would be affected by the move, Wright said.

“If it passes, we’ll be working with each of the host venues to determine whether they’ll be able to do it,” he said. “It all depends on their capacity to serve alcohol. Some serve it on a regular basis and some do not. A lot depends on if the venue already sells alcohol.”

The vote comes after the NCAA Board of Governors last fall eliminated the association’s longtime policy prohibiting alcohol sales at NCAA postseason events. The serving of alcohol had been restricted to premium areas at those events.

That’s all changing at a gradual pace, starting with some recent events. As part of the transition, the NCAA tested public beer and wine sales for this year’s Men’s Frozen Four at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn., and its Wrestling Championships at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland. 

The NCAA first tested alcohol sales for the 2016 College World Series at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha, Neb., and the 2016 Women’s College World Series at USA Softball Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City.

TD Ameritrade Park grossed $1 million in public beer and wine sales for each of past two College World Series, according to Roger Dixon, the facility’s president and CEO, and will be selling again this year.

In Minneapolis, U.S. Bank Stadium, host of the 2019 Final Four, is prepared to make the adjustment, said Patrick Talty, SMG’s general manager of the facility. In addition to Final Four, the stadium is the site of the 2020 NCAA Wrestling Championships.

“The NCAA is strongly considering selling beer in public areas for 2019,” Talty said. “They’re asking us to prepare for that and what it would look like in our building. We sent people to the wrestling championships this year to see how it went there. We’re planning around what’s traditionally been done here [for Minnesota Vikings games]. We all go through [alcohol awareness] training with Aramark and the ushers as well.”

The change in policy begs the question of how the income tied to alcohol sales would be distributed anong the NCAA, the venue and the facility’s concessionaire. For Final Four, Talty expects there to be a revenue-share agreement with the NCAA, but he had no further details.

In St. Paul, the sale of beer and wine went smoothly with no issues at the Frozen Four, said Jack Larson, Xcel Energy Center’s vice president and general manager.

Larson said he could not comment on the financial arrangement among the building, the NCAA and Levy, the arena’s food provider.

“The per caps were obviously better than the other years that we hosted the Frozen Four,” when alcohol was not served on the public concourses, he said. “We didn’t advertise it, but the fans were pleased after they saw it was available at concession stands.”

The revenue aspect is not the primary reason why the NCAA is headed toward making the switch, Wright said. Member schools have requested it, he said.

“The fans’ expectation is a big part of it,” Wright said. “It’s being served at sports facilities on our campuses and there are those that will tell you there are fewer alcohol-related issues when it’s under the school’s control. They don’t have the binge drinking that’s always a concern. That’s been part of the discussions.”

TD Ameritrade Park’s Dixon said: “We saw a decrease in alcohol-related incidents when we started selling beer to the general public. It cuts down on ‘power drinking’ before people get into the building.”

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5 Campus Conference Centers That Will Enhance Any Event
Posted: 1 May 2018, 8:00 pm

College towns are happening hubs of activity, where the arts, sports and culinary delights thrive. All that and more is on deck for planners who book a university setting for a conference.


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His Mission: Mission Ballroom
Posted: 25 Apr 2018, 7:20 pm

Chuck Morris, CEO of AEG Presents Rocky Mountains and Pacific Northwest is on the verge of a dream come true with Mission Ballroom. (Courtesy AEG Presents Rocky Mountains)

Chuck Morris has worn a lot of hats – and every color of eyewear – in his 48-odd years in the music business. The CEO of AEG Presents Rocky Mountains and Pacific Northwest has promoted more concerts than he can count, managed careers and opened, operated or booked shows into pretty much every venue that mattered.

From the early 1970s at Tulagi – where he booked the Eagles’ second-ever concert – to Ebbets Field, Rainbow Music Hall, Fillmore Denver, the Bluebird Theater, Red Rocks Amphitheatre and Fiddler’s Green Amphitheatre, Morris has left his stamp on the Mile High City and beyond.
He’s now on the verge of realizing what he calls a lifelong dream – to build the greatest ballroom Denver’s ever seen.

Morris says the recently announced Mission Ballroom is just that building: a next-level venue that would not have been possible without a visionary developer, the perfect piece of real estate, and the efforts of an AEG Presents team stretching from Los Angeles to Denver, including his Rocky Mountains co-presidents, Don Strasburg and Brent Fedrizzi.

Morris took the better part of an afternoon recently to talk to Pollstar about his dream building, expected to open in August 2019.

You say this development is the culmination of years of searching for the right elements to come together.
We’ve been looking for a location from day one, since we opened AEG in Denver after I left Live Nation. Remember, I built the Fillmore. My history goes back to Tulagi, which was the first big venue in Boulder. Then Ebbets Field, which was club of the year in the mid-70s; Rainbow Music Hall when I was with Barry Fey, and the 1stBank Center. Now there’s Fiddler’s Green, which we restored.

But I always wanted to build an up-to-date, top-of-the-line, finest club/ballroom in the country. We took a lot of time to find the right location, and to find the right partner to build it. And, after a lot of time with architects, we think we have it.

Mission Ballroom will be located in the River North, or RiNo, arts and entertainment district in Denver. Why not in one of the other established districts, or downtown?
RiNo is the hottest, newest neighborhood in Denver with millennials and young people. It’s walking distance from Coors Field and downtown, one-third of a mile from both I-25 and I-70 highways, and it’s a block and half from light rail, which is all over Denver now and goes all the way to the airport, which is fabulous. The developers at Westfield have done nothing but very cool projects in Denver. …

It used to be all industrial. I’ve spent years looking for a place to put a new club and we probably met with every developer in every area of the city for seven or eight years, until we met with the people at Westfield. They’re a big developer and they bought 14 acres for the North Wynkoop development. They said they wanted us to be the centerpiece for this great part of RiNo and it clicked.

They got it; they realized what we could do. And they want to build all sorts of stuff around it, from a boutique hotel to affordable housing for musicians and artists to more restaurants. A lot of that stuff is already in the neighborhood; don’t get me wrong, we had nothing to do with the development. But the club is ours.

What makes Mission Ballroom a next-gen venue?
There’s 2,000 seats that wrap around the floor, and a stage that is movable to make the room different sizes. Total seating, if you put chairs on the main floor, is 3,950 but can be dropped down to any size you want. Everything moves – the stage, the sound, the lights.

It’s not like these halls where they put little curtains up and you see 4,000 seats behind them that are empty. You see in the [promotional] video the whole thing moves and it will look sold out if we want to sell 2,000 tickets, 2,500 tickets, 3,000 or 3,500 tickets.

Don’t you already have a pretty complete portfolio of venues in the Denver area?
We weren't under pressure to build something. We have plenty of buildings here: the Bluebird, the Gothic Theatre, 1stBank Center. We do 100 shows at Red Rocks, we do a bunch of shows at all the city buildings and then we took over Fiddler’s Green and remodeled that. We have plenty of buildings, but we didn’t have a big ballroom. That was the only size we were missing.

Were there any existing venues you’d looked at that you took inspiration from?
Don Strasburg went and looked at the Anthem in Washington, D.C., and Brooklyn Steel, which is an AEG venue in New York. They’re both amazing. None of this is possible without Don, Brent Fedrizzi or the AEG team in L.A.

What are Mission Ballroom’s best selling points?
We are sparing no expense. I’ve been involved in eight clubs, arenas and theaters, and I think this will be state-of-the-art, best-ever-built in Denver.

There will be a $1 million sound system and an amazing lighting system. We’ll build a stage that any arena act can play. The ceiling is high enough. It’s designed so any band, any act can play here. …

From the day we opened AEG here we have wanted to build a great club/ballroom. We are in no rush. God knows, we do 800 shows a year as it is. But the shovels are in the ground and we will be open in a little more than a year, in August 2019.

This story originally appeared on

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Sheeran Sells A Million Tickets
Posted: 25 Apr 2018, 7:00 pm

Ed Sheeran plays the first of three shows at Mt. Smart Stadium in Auckland, New Zealand, on March 24. (Getty Images)

Over the Southern Hemisphere’s summer, Australia’s Frontier Touring has toured some major acts, Paul McCartney, Foo Fighters, Drake, Muse and Harry Styles among them. But it was Ed Sheeran who this year put the company in the global spotlight after selling more than 1 million tickets (1.06 million, to be exact) to 18 shows through Australia and New Zealand.

It is the biggest concert tour ever Down Under, breaking Dire Straits’ 32-year-old record of 950,000 for Michael Coppel Presents for its “Brothers in Arms” tour. The numbers also surpassed Adele’s 2017 tour, when she played to a reported 730,000 fans at 11 shows in Australia and New Zealand.

“One million tickets in this market is an absolute phenomenon and a feat which I don’t think will ever be beaten,” Frontier Touring’s managing director, Michael Gudinski, told Pollstar. “It’s inspired the whole company, and he’s completely rejuvenated my desire to get in early and develop artists’ careers.”

Indeed, Gudinski, 65, who began working with the British pop star eight years ago, said he saw signs early on that Sheeran would find great success.

“I was there from the start when he played to 40 people,” he recalls. “He was just 19 years old. Even though it was a small audience, you could see how he connected with them. To see him develop and work with someone who is younger than my kids has been so inspiring to me. I’ve never had such a close relationship with any young artist. He’s a gifted writer, and he listens to a wide array of music. He’s always got the headphones on.”

That first performance was a showcase arranged at Melbourne’s Bakehouse Studios by Warner Music. Australia and New Zealand would become the first countries outside Sheeran’s native England where the young singer-songwriter broke.

There was another immediate link with Sheeran: his manager, Stuart Camp of Grumpy Old Management, who worked in the London offices of Gudinski’s Mushroom Records. “Just as well I was a great boss!” the promoter quipped.

The tour, the sixth for Sheeran and Frontier, kicked off with two shows March 2-3 at the new 60,000-seat Optus Stadium in Perth – Sheehan was the first music act – followed by one at the 55,000-capacity Adelaide Oval (March 7), four at Melbourne’s Etihad Stadium (March 9-12), three at the 83,500-cap ANZ Stadium in Sydney (March 15-17), two at Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium (March 20-21), three at Mt Smart Stadium in Auckland (March 24-26) and three at Forsyth Barr Stadium Dunedin (March 29 and 31, April 1), where city authorities created a mini-festival for the 60 percent of the crowd who came from afar.

One reason he played stadiums, as CAA’s Jon Ollier, Sheeran’s international agent, explained, was timing. “The decision to not do the arena run down there in 2017 and hold until 2018 was because we finished there late in 2015,” Ollier said. “As long as we could announce them, we knew the market wouldn’t be offended. The crowds have a very special energy in that part of the world and that is just enhanced when you see Ed walk on stage.”

For Ollier, who reps Sheeran all over the globe, the million tickets sold Down Under is even more special. “I’ve seen Ed break a lot of records all over the world, but in Australia and New Zealand you are dealing with a finite population so inevitably at some point it will become impossible. It should not be underestimated what a feat this is.”

The Australian shows also gave Sheeran’s U.K. promoters at Kilimanjaro Live, Stuart Galbraith and Steve Tilley, as well as Kilimanjaro’s head of production, Zac Fox, a chance to see the tour before his coming sold-out U.K. stadium dates.  “I’ve always known how big he is,” says Tilley, “but to actually go out and see it firsthand in Australia, literally on the other side of the world, and see him play in packed-out stadiums night after night was … I’ve run out of superlatives, to be quite honest.”

It should been noted that in 2017, Sheeran’s tour ranked eighth on Pollstar’s Year End Top 100 Tours Worldwide and sold 1.5 million tickets, grossing $124 million over the course of 111 shows. In the U.S., Sheeran is repped by Paradigm’s Marty Diamond and Ash Mowry-Lewis and signed to Atlantic Records.

Gudinski noted how diverse Sheeran’s audience has become, from the screaming female teenagers of the early tours to last month when a sizeable portion of the crowds included younger fans attending their first concerts with parents in tow.

Over the years, as Sheeran’s record sales escalated (now 4.8 million singles and 1.5 million albums in Australia), the singer-songwriter moved from theatres to becoming the first solo act to sell out stadiums.

Helping to widen his appeal, Sheeran made targeted appearances that ranged from the Australian Football League grand final to the TV industry’s Logie Awards. On one tour, tickets were priced at A$99 ($77).

For the 2018 run, the planning and timing were perfect, Gudinski says, citing the ticket pricing, lengthy advance sales period and multifaceted marketing.

“We didn’t make a wrong move,” though he admits working with such high numbers was “daunting.”

“But Ed was focussed and professional and he nailed every one of those 18 shows,” said Gudinski, who called him the “Billy Joel or Elton John of his generation.” High praise, indeed, but which the longtime promoter traces to the artist’s genuine caring for his fans.

“At one of the earlier shows, at the outdoor Allianz Stadium in Sydney, it was absolutely pelting down,” Gudinski recalls. “I asked him if he wanted to delay starting for 20 minutes. He looked at me straight in the eye and said, ‘If my fans are getting rained on, I’m going on.’ He went on and played a fantastic show.”

Additional reporting by Gideon Gottfried. This story originally appeared on

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Repairs On The Way For Wisconsin Arena
Posted: 25 Apr 2018, 6:00 pm

Nearly 6 feet of snow fell into the inner lobby of the Brown County Veterans Memorial Arena on April 20 when a record snowstorm pounded Green Bay, Wis. (Photo: Terry Charles / PMI Management Group)

The Brown County Veterans Memorial Arena is scheduled to be torn down next year, but it still has to function, even after snow crashed through the roof into its lobby April 20.

“You might say mother nature got a little ahead of us,” said Brad Toll, president and CEO of the Green Bay Area Convention & Visitors Bureau, which rents office space in the arena. Snow also crashed into the visitors bureau’s conference room.

The Brown County Board of Supervisors announced in August that the arena would be demolished and a new $93 million, state-of-the-art 110,000-square-foot exhibition hall built in its place.

The arena, however, is scheduled to be in use up until its demolition, a process that won’t start until summer 2019, said Terry Charles, corporate communications manager for PMI Entertainment Group, which manages the 6,000-seat arena.

The snow damage could cost nearly $150,000 to repair, he said, although he’s unsure whether that figure covers both the inner lobby roof and the conference room roof

The arena, in Ashwaubenon, a suburb of Green Bay, remains officially closed until proper repairs are made.

“The arena technically is functional, but there’s no public access. Thank goodness there was nothing more than that,” he said.

The arena has a domed roof, but the damage occurred in an attached section of the building with a flat roof. When a record-breaking snowstorm hit Green Bay over a three-day period, a roughly 6-foot-deep section of snow measuring 30 to 40 feet wide slid off the arena’s roof and fell through the flat section of the roof about 4:30 p.m. No one was at work when the roof fell, as the snowstorm closed the arena that day.

“It was a snow crash, not a snow collapse,” Charles said.

The venue, which opened in 1958 and has a capacity of 7,500, is located adjacent to the Resch Center, a 10,500-seat arena, and Shopko Hall, a multiuse complex that hosts exhibitions and conferences.

The 12 employees that work for the convention and visitors bureau are working from another office in the arena, said Brenda Krainik, director of marketing and communications for the bureau.

“As far as us getting back into our offices, it’s just too soon to know,” she said. “We’re hopeful we’ll be able to get in there and get some of our work products.”

Earlier in the week, someone did grab all the employee computers so they could work elsewhere.

The storm was a sight to see, Krainik said.

“It was amazing. Here in Green Bay we can really deal with a snowstorm any day of the week. But in April, to receive 24 inches of snow, everyone stayed home,” she said.

As for now, both the lobby area and the visitors bureau will remain closed as crews clear the debris.

Charles is not sure how long it will take to make the repairs, and he’s confident he can move coming arena events into other areas of the Resch Center. The American Cornhole League is scheduled to host its national championship at the arena the first weekend in May, and a statewide dart tournament also is on the calendar.

“We can still make those two things work,” Charles said.

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Three For The Show
Posted: 25 Apr 2018, 5:00 pm

Greg Hareld, Jim Brammer and Nevin Kleege (from left) co-own G2 Structures, a supplier of stage products for stadium concerts. They're pictured at their Mooresville, N.C., location. (Photo: Don Muret)

Ground zero for staging some of 2018’s biggest stadium tours sits behind a large warehouse in Mooresville, N.C.

In a parking lot supporting a building owned by DEI Enterprises (the family business of late NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt), a crew from G2 Structures goes through a trial run to assemble the first of five aluminum and steel stages to hit the road for the outdoor concert season at Major League Baseball ballparks and NFL stadiums.

G2 Structures, a mobile stage manufacturer, calls Nashville home but principals also work out of San Diego, Nashville and Winston-Salem, 60 miles northeast of Mooresville. The firm uses the expansive DEI property to work out the kinks for installing structures that stand 70 feet tall and 80 feet wide, with side “wings” that attached can extend the stage an additional 40 feet to each side.

In mid-March, during the trial run, officials discovered a steel piece where the stage connects to the roof that did not fit correctly, requiring an adjustment. No worries, though. For G2 Structures, it was early enough in the process to make the fix before the first show of the season, the Eagles with Jimmy Buffett on April 14 at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Fla.

G2 Structures’ three principals are Jim Brammer, Nevin Kleege and Greg Hareld, each of whom have about 40 years of experience in live event production. Brammer founded the company in 2006 and added Kleege and Hareld as partners in 2010. Separately, Kleege and Hareld are part of San Diego-based Kleege Industries, which provides similar production services and has been in business since 1999.

On his own, Brammer worked in stage production for the late Billy Graham as part of the North Carolina minister’s religious crusades from 1994 to 2005 at sports facilities worldwide.

In Mooresville, G2 Structures had 30 people working at the warehouse to prepare for 65 concerts this summer at stadiums and music festivals.

“Last year, we did all but four of the ballpark shows,” Kleege said. “Ed Sheeran and Kenny Chesney carried their own rigs.”

Apart from concerts, G2 Structures has been part of occasional one-off productions, such as the Blue Origin rocket display at the 2017 Space Symposium in Colorado. Amazon founder Jeff Bezos owns the rocket, and G2 built a protective structure over the rocket as part of the display.

G2 Structures will build custom sets for “The Chosen,” the International Pathfinder Camporee, a religious event Aug. 12-17, 2019, in Oshkosh, Wis.

“We’re starting to look for new business outside the normal stadium concert setting,” Brammer said. It’s part of the firm’s plan to expand business to other parts of outdoor event production.

For more on G2 Structures and their stages for ballpark concerts, see our story in the April issue of VenuesNow.

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Mohegan Sun Arena: 11M And Beyond
Posted: 24 Apr 2018, 3:00 pm

Tom Cantone, senior corporate vice president of sports and entertainment for Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment, greets Ed Sheeran before a show at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn.

Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn., not long ago hit the 11-million mark in venue attendance since the facility opened in 1999. To mark the milestone, VenuesNow spoke with Tom Cantone, senior corporate vice president of sports and entertainment for Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment.

Mohegan Sun Arena has won major awards this year — congratulations. Can you tell us about some of the accolades?

Our venue won a Prime Site Award from Facilities & Event Management; IEBA’s Casino Venue of the Year; and we were named Best of Connecticut for large entertainment venues, bringing our total to 15 national awards. We were also the most Instagrammed location in the state last year.

How’s business?

We had another record year of growth. Hotel concert packages were up 19 percent.
We had a record 39 sellouts. Our two major sports franchises, the Connecticut Sun of the WNBA and Black Wolves lacrosse, both made the playoffs, filling in some 165 dates and drawing over 800,000 fans. Connecticut Sun attendance was up 10 percent with an 80 percent increase in season ticket renewals, while our lacrosse franchise had a 153 percent increase in paid tickets.

Hot shows last year?

Lady Gaga, Ed Sheeran, Depeche Mode, Journey, Pentatonix, Little Big Town, Ariana Grande, Katy Perry, The Weeknd and Imagine Dragons come to mind.

How did the venue do with ancillary streams such as F&B?

F&B had a record year due to our concert schedule that included many double-play country show dates with intermissions. We added more bars in open high-traffic locations that drove record beverage sales and brought in Pepe’s Pizza concession, ranked by USA Today as the best pizza in America. Sales were up 33 percent.

Did you make any capital improvements this year?

We added new skyboxes to create a better guest experience, and we created a Backstage Café for tour catering that actually looks like a café. We totally renovated the merchandise store areas around the concourse with a new look and name called Memories. We don’t sell tickets – we sell memories.

What was your best day at the venue last year?

My best day is when an artist takes the time to greet kids with terminal cancer whose wish is to meet them. Both New Kids on the Block and Katy Perry did so and included them in a special tribute in their shows. The joy that they brought to them and their families will never be forgotten.

Best guess for how the rest of 2018 will play out?

We will have many of the top A-list concert tours coming such as Justin Timberlake, U2, Bon Jovi, Britney Spears, Tim & Faith, Thomas Rhett and Keith Urban, so I expect it to be another record-breaking year.


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Legends Names Martin VP
Posted: 24 Apr 2018, 2:00 pm


Ben Martin.

Legends has appointed Ben Martin vice president of partnerships for Legends International. Martin has worked in partnerships for Amazon Tickets, Manchester United and City Football Group.

Martin will be responsible for developing relationships with brands and rights holders in Europe and other international markets, driving revenue and collaborating with the Legends Global Sales team.

Martin was educated at the University of Wales in Swansea and previously played rugby semiprofessionally.

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Posted: 24 Apr 2018, 1:00 pm

Ed Sheeran played Air Canada Centre in Toronto. (Photo: Tom Pandi)

Singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran took his ÷ Tour Down Under and there's no stopping him from taking the top spot on our Hot Tickets chart this week. Three Frontier Touring-promoted shows at Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin, New Zealand, grossed $8,475,218, with attendance of 105,014 and a ticket range of $49.09-$113.11. This is Sheeran's third world concert tour and in support of his third studio album, ÷. The tour officially began over a year ago in Turin, Italy. 

Alabama rocked Atlanta's Fox Theatre April 13-15 and grossed $991,925 for the three shows. Attendance was 13,081 with a ticket range of $39.50- $150. Outback Concerts was the promoter. 

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 5 in each capacity category, that took place Mar. 27-Apr. 24.

15,000 or More Capacity

10,001-15,000 Capacity


5,000 or Less

1) Ed Sheeran
Gross Sales:
$8,475,218; Venue: Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin, New Zealand; Attendance: 105,014; Ticket Range: $113.11-$49.09; Promoter: Frontier Touring; Dates: Mar. 29-Apr. 1; No. of Shows: 3

2) The Killers
Gross Sales: $3,531,808; Venue: Foro Sol, Mexico City; Attendance: 64,094; Ticket Range: $101.04-$18.61; Promoter: OCESA / CIE; Dates: Apr. 5; No. of Shows: 1

3) Romeo Santos
Gross Sales: $3,386,153; Venue: Forum, Inglewood, Calif.; Attendance: 28,205; Ticket Range: $199.50-$49.50; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Mar. 30-31; No. of Shows: 2

4) Cirque du Soleil - "Crystal"
Gross Sales: $3,150,018; Venue: SAP Center At San Jose, Calif.; Attendance: 41,966; Ticket Range: $130-$40; Promoter: Cirque du Soleil; Dates: Mar. 28-Apr. 1; No. of Shows: 8

5) Harry Styles
Gross Sales: $2,177,886; Venue: The O2 – London; Attendance: 29,212; Ticket Range: $76.84-$62.87; Promoter: Live Nation, SJM; Dates: Apr. 11-12; No. of Shows: 2

1) André Rieu
Gross Sales: $4,118,978; Venue: Menora Mivtachim Arena, Tel Aviv; Attendance: 28,476; Ticket Range: $249.69-$81.36; Promoter: André Rieu Productions B.V., Gad Oron Productions; Dates: Apr. 3-7; No. of Shows: 4

2) Cirque du Soleil - "Ovo"
Gross Sales: $1,318,278; Venue: Konig - Pilsener Arena, Oberhausen, Germany; Attendance: 16,094; Ticket Range: $97.80-$44.01; Promoter: Dirk Becker Entertainment; Dates: Apr. 5-8; No. of Shows: 6

3) "Soy Luna Live"
Gross Sales: $970,911; Venue: Arena Stozice, Ljubljana, Slovenia; Attendance: 13,735; Ticket Range: $564.78-$50.12; Promoter: DG Entertainment, Semmel Concerts Entertainment; Dates: Apr. 3-4; No. of Shows: 2

4) Harry Styles
Gross Sales: $970,530; Venue: 3Arena, Dublin, Ireland; Attendance: 12,614; Ticket Range: $84.95-$60.51; Promoter: Live Nation, MCD Productions; Dates: Apr. 16; No. of Shows: 1

5) Kevin Hart
Gross Sales: $957,349; Venue: Jacksonville (Fla.) Veterans Mem. Arena; Attendance: 11,498; Ticket Range: $125-$35; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Apr. 7; No. of Shows: 1

1) Luis Miguel
Gross Sales: $1,560,517; Venue: Auditorio Citibanamex, Monterrey, Mexico; Attendance: 11,626; Ticket Range: $191.53-$37.24; Promoter: Eventos Artisticos, OCESA / CIE; Dates: Apr.12-13; No. of Shows: 2

2) Jennifer Lopez
Gross Sales: $1,296,856; Venue: Zappos Theater At Planet Hollywood, Las Vegas; Attendance: 7,159; Ticket Range: $412-$54; Promoter: Caesars Entertainment Inc., Live Nation; Dates: Mar. 30-31; No. of Shows: 2

3) Timbiriche
Gross Sales: $1,166,812; Venue: Auditorio Nacional, Mexico City; Attendance: 18,978; Ticket Range: $101.08-$18.62; Promoter: OCESA / CIE; Dates: Apr. 5-6; No. of Shows: 2

4) Jennifer Lopez
Gross Sales: $777,727; Venue: Zappos Theater At Planet Hollywood, Las Vegas; Attendance: 4,250; Ticket Range: $412-$54; Promoter: Caesars Entertainment Inc., Live Nation; Dates: Mar. 28; No. of Shows: 1

5) Marco Antonio Solis, Jesse & Joy
Gross Sales: $529,463; Venue: H-E-B Center At Cedar Park, Cedar Park, Texas; Attendance: 5,067; Ticket Range: $199-$49; Promoter: Paragon Presents, Viva Music, Zamora Entertainment; Dates: Apr. 15; No. of Shows: 1

1) Alabama
Gross Sales: $991,925; Venue: Fox Theatre, Atlanta; Attendance: 13,081; Ticket Range: $150-$39.50; Promoter: Outback Concerts; Dates: Apr. 13-15; No. of Shows: 3

2) Robert Plant & The Sensational Space Shifters
Gross Sales: $715,454; Venue: Palais Theatre, Melbourne, Australia; Attendance: 5,560; Ticket Range: $194.52-$85.96; Promoter: Bluesfest Touring; Dates: Apr. 1-2; No. of Shows: 2

3) Jerry Seinfeld
Gross Sales: $700,995; Venue: Wang Theatre - Boch Center, Boston; Attendance: 7,276; Ticket Range: $175-$67.50; Promoter JS Touring; Dates: Apr. 13; No. of Shows: 2

4) "The Phantom Of The Opera"
Gross Sales: $650,150; Venue: Morris Performing Arts Center, South Bend, Ind.; Attendance: 10,668; Ticket Range: $83.50-$58.50; Promoter: Broadway Theatre League Of South Bend; Dates: Mar. 28-31; No. of Shows: 6

5) Jerry Seinfeld
Gross Sales: $610,903; Venue: Academy Of Music, Philadelphia; Attendance: 5,646; Ticket Range: $175-$70; Promoter: JS Touring: Dates: Apr. 7; No. of Shows: 2

The weekly Hot Tickets chart is compiled by Pollstar. For more information, e-mail or click here to submit your Box Office data now.


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Holes In Their Levi's
Posted: 23 Apr 2018, 8:00 am

The San Francisco 49ers and Stadiumlinks will have golfers swinging from the seats June 8-10 at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara. (Courtesy of San Francisco 49ers)

Fore! Golf returns to Levi’s Stadium in June. The San Francisco 49ers, in conjunction with promoter Stadiumlinks, will transform the NFL venue into a nine-hole course, where golf enthusiasts can hack away at the home of Super Bowl 50.

The three-day event June 8-10 follows last year’s transformation of the Santa Clara stadium into a duffer’s paradise. This year brings a revamped course design with new tee box locations and hole placements incorporated into the playing field. The top five scorers split $2,000 in prize money.

The cost to play a nine-hole round starts at $75 to $85 a person depending on tee time, 49ers officials said. Online bookings are available in groups of two and four people.  A VIP package, a new wrinkle this year for an additional $65, provides access to an exclusive lounge, VIP tee boxes and a private practice range, plus a Stadiumlinks T-shirt.

All players receive 18 complimentary golf balls to be played during the event and free use of standard golf clubs at each hole. A mobile application that keeps track of live scores and adjusted yardage posted at each hole for more accurate club selection are upgrades this year.

49ers’ seat license holders get first right to register for the course through a presale, officials said. Tee time bookings will go on sale May 8 to the general public at

The 49ers plan to use some current players in marketing and promotions ahead of the event, which falls during offseason training this year, and hope to involve them in staging it, 49ers spokesman Roger Hacker said. It’s too early to say who may participate, he said. Last year, Stadiumlinks was held in July during training camp, resulting in the 49ers having limited access to players.

The transformation of stadiums into golf courses is a trend dating to November 2015 when the San Diego Padres first partnered with equipment manufacturer Calloway to convert Petco Park into a nine-hole course.

Since that time, a number of  NFL and MLB venues have invested in these special events, including Globe Life Park in Arlington, Texas, and Atlanta’s Turner Field, both done with Stadiumlinks. Topgolf has extended its brand beyond its own golf centers with Topgolf Crush, which has set up at stadiums including Seattle’s Safeco Field and Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Mo.

San Francisco 49ers President Al Guido said he could not discuss terms of the Stadiumlinks deal. Last year’s event at Levi’s Stadium did pretty well, drawing roughly 2,400 participants over three days, Hacker said.

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Forest Hills Goes Year-Round
Posted: 18 Apr 2018, 5:00 pm

After a renovation, 95-year-old Forest Hills Stadium reopened in 2013. (Photo:

Forest Hills Stadium is moving forward with plans to become a year-round venue, and is introducing full-plumbing bathrooms and an automat for food service in the fifth year after its 2013 reopening.

The 95-year-old venue in Queens, N.Y., home to the U.S. Open tennis tournament until 1977, was renovated and reopened as a concert venue and is booked by Madison House Presents through a deal with AEG.

The venue is scheduled this year to host concerts by Robert Plant and the Sensational Space Shifters, Roger Daltrey, Arctic Monkeys, David Byrne with Tune-Yards, and Van Morrison with Willie Nelson.

Forest Hills Stadium is to have a skating rink and holiday vendors in the winter after the concert season, the next step in making it a year-round venue, according to AM New York.

The venue has previously used portable toilets but now will include permanent “gender-inclusive bathrooms” with running water.

The automats are a throwback to the historic venue’s previous use of the hot food dispenser.
Helping in that effort are newly announced founding partners Heineken, American Express, Bulova and Bacardi.

“We are thrilled to have Heineken, American Express, Bulova and Bacardi as our 2018 Founding Partners,” Josh Gold, vice president of AEG Global Partnerships, said in a statement. “These world class brands have seen the vision of what we are building in this historic venue and we couldn’t be happier to welcome them to Forest Hills.”

This story originally ran at, an affiliated publication.

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New Deals for Arena Alliance Members
Posted: 18 Apr 2018, 4:55 pm

A Casamigos video with George Clooney runs on the videoboard at BB&T Center in Sunrise, Fla.  (Courtesy OVG)

Editor's note: This story has been revised since it was originally posted.

OVG Global Partnerships has signed Belkin, Casamigos, Hulu and Zoom for national sponsorships tied to the Arena Alliance, a group of 26 big league venues across the NBA and NHL.

The agreements, all spanning one to two years, each cover different arenas, but together reach  13 members of the alliance, said Dan Griffis, president of OVG Global Partnerships. OVG Global Partnerships is a division of Oak View Group, which owns VenuesNow.

Industry sources say deals like this typically range from the high six figures to the mid-seven figures, and all four deals had been activated by midseason in the NBA and NHL.

Those deals follow the massive three-year, $40 million agreement OVG signed with Walmart in 2017 covering 21 arenas. Most important, the new agreements generate revenue for arenas in Denver, Detroit, Indianapolis and San Antonio that were not part of the Walmart deal due to conflicts with existing sponsors in their markets, Griffis said.

For the most part, all five deals fit OVG’s business model for the alliance, which is to bring nontraditional sponsors into arenas to promote their products in front of a wide audience attending hockey and basketball games, concerts and family shows. Casamigos is the exception, given that it falls into the hard liquor category, but OVG’s research showed that fewer than 15 percent of alliance members had tequila sponsors that could pose potential conflicts of interest, Griffis said.

Seven arenas are part of the Casamigos agreement: TD Garden in Boston; BB&T Center in Sunrise, Fla.; Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis; Prudential Center in Newark, N.J.; Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia; AT&T Center in San Antonio; and Capital One Center in Washington, D.C. At those facilities, activation includes serving Casamigos tequila on the concourses and in suites and clubs, supported by marketing materials around the bars where those drinks are sold, OVG officials said. As part of the agreement, the ability to serve Casamigos products is negotiated through the arena concessionaires to comply with federal liquor laws.

Casamigos, a high-end tequila whose name translates to “house of friends” in Spanish, was launched in 2013 by actor George Clooney, nightclub owner Rande Gerber and real estate developer Michael Meldman. In June 2017, they sold the company to Diageo for $700 million, a sum that could increase to $1 billion pending sales over the next decade, per terms of the acquisition. Clooney, Gerber and Meldman remain involved in Casamigos, and they recently expanded business to include the brand’s first Mezcal product.

“Given the news of the sale and the fact that they were the hottest brand in the market and had exceptional leadership, it made them a good candidate to reach out to,” Griffis said. “They are scrappy and extremely creative.”

At BB&T Center, Casamigos lines up with the strategy of the NHL’s Florida Panthers to align with blue-chip brands, said Anthony Hill, the team’s director of corporate partnerships. As part of the activation at the arena, Casamigos videos run on the center-hung videoboard and on concourse television screens.

“It was perfect timing for us. It’s a well-recognized brand,” Hill said. “Any time you can get involved with George Clooney, that’s always an asset.”

OVG’s three smaller deals are tech-centric for a smaller number of arenas. Hulu’s deal extends to Moda Center in Portland and Capital One Center, where it will promote its new livestreaming package that includes sports networks and live NBA and NHL games. Activation includes in-arena signage and digital advertising, plus social media promotion.

Belkin, a 35-year-old brand that’s evolved into producing accessories for mobile devices, has a deal to supply charging stations in public and private spaces and to sell connector cables and battery packs at team stores. It’s similar to the displays Belkin sets up inside Hudson News stores, where the vendor is the airport retailer’s biggest client, said Kieran Hannon, Belkin’s chief marketing officer.

Belkin’s deal kicked off at Amalie Arena in Tampa, Fla.; Little Caesars Arena in Detroit; and Pepsi Center in Denver, and company officials expect the agreement to expand to most alliance buildings over the next 12 months, Hannon said.

“It’s such a natural match for us, very authentic,” he said. “People go to games and concerts and they enjoy capturing the moment on their phones. But there’s a tendency to lose that capability when they can’t charge their battery and keep it charged. The fans have told us it’s an unmet need.”

Zoom’s deal, which encompasses TD Garden, Chicago’s United Center, Pepsi Center and Madison Square Garden in New York City, revolves around suite hospitality, in which the Silicon Valley firm can showcase its products before potential clients, and digital advertising.

The Silicon Valley firm got into sports with local deals at Oakland's Oracle Arena and SAP Center, where the NBA’s Golden State Warriors and NHL’s San Jose Sharks respectively play, Zoom President David Berman said. The OVG agreements expand its presence at other arenas across the country as Zoom continues to grow and compete in a highly competitive market.

“We went with OVG, and with these volume deals, they handle it all for us,” he said. “It makes us look bigger. We don’t have the connections in these other markets.”

First-year gains: Elsewhere within OVG, four facilities showed big gains in their first year under the management of OVG Facilities, the company announced. The Kovalchick Complex, Watsco Center, Two Rivers Convention Center and the Avalon Theatre exceeded expectations by achieving recording breaking years, revamping and streamlining venue operations, and carrying out several venue improvements.

OVG Facilities took over management of the Watsco Center on the campus of the University of Miami, Coral Gables, Fla.,  and within the first fiscal improved revenue by 80 percent. The venue turned a profit for the first time in its 15-year history. 

The Kovalchick Complex, on the campus of Indiana University of Pennsylvania in Indiana, Pa., delivered the highest net operating income in facility history, up 251 percent since the company took over management.

Two Rivers Convention Center and Avalon Theatre in Grand Junction, Colo., also increased profitability, decreased expenses and improved the guest experience, the company said.

“When we started the company, our main objective was to focus on our client's goals and objectives.” OVG Facilities’ senior vice president, Tom Paquette, said in a statement. “We take that philosophy and pair it with our experience, and it’s yielding great results.”

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Las Vegas Convention Center Expanding
Posted: 18 Apr 2018, 3:00 pm

Las Vegas Convention Center is undergoing a massive $1.4 billion renovation.

Las Vegas Convention Center is starting a whole-venue renovation and adding a fourth exhibit hall.

“Our building was originally constructed in 1959,” said Terry Jicinsky, senior vice president of operations. “We’ve had 14 renovations and expansions and we’re adding a significant fourth hall now, which will add to and renovate our facility.”

LVCCD_ATRIUM-20180409_tvsdesign1.jpgRendering of the interior of the new 1.4 million-square-foot enhancement being built at Las Vegas Convention Center, to be completed by December 2020.

The new hall will be 600,000 square feet; with meeting rooms and support space, it will create a 1.4 million-square-foot venue.

“After the expansion is completed, we will come back to our existing building and completely renovate the 3.2 million square feet of existing space,” he said. “We're aslso adding some space to the exisiting building, so the end there will be a 5.2 million-square-foot facility, one of the largest in the world.”

The budget for the expansion is $860 million. The renovation of the existing facility will take $540 million.

A ceremonial groundbreaking was held in January, and the site is now under construction. “The building itself will start steel and concrete in September,” said Jicinsky. “We expect to open in January of 2021 and our first guest to be CES 2021.”

The renovation of the existing building will start immediately after the addition of the fourth exhibit hall is open and will be completed by the end of 2023. The work will be done in incremental bits and no bookings will be affected. “As a hall closes for a renovation, that client will go to another hall,” he explained.

Goals of the renovations to the existing facility are to improve technology, upgrade food and beverage, improve the amount of and access to public space and create more social spaces for people to gather.

The concessionaire at LVCC is Centerplate, which is in the first year of a seven-year contract.

The lead architect is tvsdesign, based in Atlanta, with input from four local Las Vegas architects: TSK Architects, Simpson Coulter Studio, Carpenter Sellers Del Gatto Architects and KME Architects.

Rob Svedberg, principal at tvsdesign, said that his firm was one of three teams that responded to the competition but “we’ve been chasing this for five to six years.” tvsdesign won the contract in December.

“The designs are fluid right now but the main parts are in place,” said Svedberg. “We’re out of the schematic design phase, with imagery and layouts set, but still early in the overall design scheme.”

Svedberg confirmed that construction will begin in the fall, with a finish date of 2020. The schedule to complete the building is "aggressive but realistic,” he said.

“The big challenge is making sure the campus is unified,” Svedberg said. “We need to reach back into the existing campus to make sure that it all flows together.

“There is a ribbon across the entire facility that will turn the entire space into one building,” he pointed out. “Where it rises up is where you enter the building and it works as a wayfinding experience so people know where they are.”

Another barrier was creating spaces that flow and don’t feel like the guest “is walking through a long endless hallway. We are putting coffee shops in place, gathering spaces and other ammenites that break up the monotony of walking down a long, straight hallway.

“Our designs are geared toward how do we shrink the building so they walk through it in comfort and ease,” said Svedberg. “People can sit down and have an informal gathering space, stop for coffee or something to eat; it’s similar to how you walk down the street in a city. With activities along the way you are stimulated by all the things you can do.”

TVS has not been contracted for the next phase of the renovation. “We’ve submitted a comprehensive plan for the renovation to the existing structure,” said Svedberg. “But the contract for the phase won’t be biddable for a while.”

According to Jicinsky, the construction is expected to generate $2.1 billion in construction-related local economic impact, 7,800 full-time jobs, and $810 million in economic impact to the city on an annual basis.

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Posted: 18 Apr 2018, 2:00 pm

HOT TICKETS is a weekly summary of top events ranked by gross as reported to VNPulse via Pollstar. Following are the top 20 concerts and events, the top 5 in each capacity category, that took place March 20-April 17.

More Than 15,000 Capacity

10,001-15,000 Capacity


5,000 or Less

1) Ed Sheeran
Gross Sales:
$8,595,585; Venue: Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane, Australia; Attendance: 103,744; Ticket Range: $128.23-$58.29; Promoter: Frontier Touring; Dates: Mar. 20-21; No. of Shows: 2

2) Eagles
Gross Sales: $5,286,412; Venue: Bridgestone Arena, Nashville; Attendance: 32,586; Ticket Range: $375-$99.50; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Mar. 23-24; No. of Shows: 2

3) Pearl Jam
Gross Sales: $3,371,519; Venue: Maracana Stadium, Rio De Janeiro; Attendance: 42,664; Ticket Range: $239.80-$32.33; Promoter: T4F - Time For Fun; Dates: Mar. 21; No. of Shows: 1

4) Maluma
Gross Sales: $2,309,254; Venue: Forum, Inglewood, Calif.; Attendance: 25,079; Ticket Range: $151.50-$41.50; Promoter: Cardenas Marketing Network (CMN); Dates: Apr. 7, 11; No. of Shows: 2

5) Romeo Santos
Gross Sales: $1,257,288; Venue: Oracle Arena, Oakland, Calif.; Attendance: 14,408; Ticket Range: $154-$37.62; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Apr. 6; No. of Shows: 1

1) Kevin Hart
Gross Sales: $1,913,485; Venue: Royal Farms Arena, Baltimore; Attendance: 24,431; Ticket Range: $150-$44.50; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Mar. 23-24; No. of Shows: 2

2) Cirque du Soleil - "Crystal"
Gross Sales: $1,106,291; Venue: Valley View Casino Center, San Diego; Attendance: 15,137; Ticket Range: $149-$36; Promoter: Cirque du Soleil; Dates: Mar. 21-25; No. of Shows: 8

3) Kid Rock
Gross Sales: $918,377; Venue: Mandalay Bay Events Center, Las Vegas; Attendance: 8,373; Ticket Range: $149.50-$49.50; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Mar. 24; No. of Shows: 1

4) Chris Stapleton
Gross Sales: $912,884; Venue: MGM Grand Garden Arena, Las Vegas; Attendance: 11,682; Ticket Range: $175-$49; Promoter: In-house Promotion; Dates: Mar. 23; No. of Shows: 1

5) Remy Ma
Gross Sales: $744,014; Venue: Atlantic City Boardwalk Hall, Atlantic City, N.J.; Attendance: 10,492; Ticket Range: $107-$52; Promoter: Platinum Productions; Dates: Mar. 24; No. of Shows: 1

1) Jennifer Lopez
Gross Sales: $938,385; Venue: Zappos Theater At Planet Hollywood, Las Vegas; Attendance: 4,485; Ticket Range: $412-$54; Promoter: Caesars Entertainment Inc., Live Nation; Dates: Mar. 24; No. of Shows: 1

2) Luis Miguel
Gross Sales: $877,845; Venue: Auditorio Citibanamex, Monterrey, Mexico; Attendance: 6,732; Ticket Range: $222.41-$27.80; Promoter: Eventos Artisticos; Dates: Apr. 13; No. of Shows: 1

3) G.E.M. (Get Everybody Moving)
Gross Sales: $872,916; Venue: Mohegan Sun Arena, Uncasville, Conn.; Attendance: 6,202; Ticket Range: $238-$68; Promoter: In-house Promotion, IEM Group; Dates: Apr. 1; No. of Shows: 1

4) Harry Styles
Gross Sales: $653,261; Venue: Oslo (Norway) Spektrum Arena; Attendance: 9,307; Ticket Range: $84.27-$58.54; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Mar. 21; No. of Shows: 1

5) Lorde
Gross Sales: $624,700; Venue: The Anthem, Washington, D.C.; Attendance: 6,000; Ticket Range: $175-$100; Promoter: I.M.P.; Dates: Apr. 8; No. of Shows: 1

1) "Andrew Lloyd Webber's Love Never Dies"
Gross Sales: $1,285,724; Venue: The Smith Center / Reynolds Hall, Las Vegas; Attendance: 15,727; Ticket Range: $123-$25; Promoter: In-house; Dates: Mar. 20-25; No. of Shows: 8

2) Frankie Valli And The Four Seasons
Gross Sales: $495,132; Venue: Prudential Hall, Newark, N.J.; Attendance: 5,602; Ticket Range: $171-$45; Promoter: In-house Promotion; Dates: Apr. 5-6; No. of Shows: 2

3) "Jersey Boys"
Gross Sales: $473,795; Venue: Ruth Eckerd Hall, Clearwater, Fla.; Attendance: 6,351; Ticket Range: $100-$35; Promoter Ruth Eckerd Hall Presents; Dates: Mar. 30-31; No. of Shows: 3

4) Rain - A Tribute To The Beatles
Gross Sales: $433,946; Venue: Academy Of Music, Philadelphia; Attendance: 6,252; Ticket Range: $99-$25; Promoter: In-house Promotion, Kimmel Center Presents; Dates: Mar. 23-25; No. of Shows: 5

5) "Harry Potter In Concert"
Gross Sales: $297,995; Venue: Bass Concert Hall, Austin, Texas; Attendance: 4,471; Ticket Range: $91.50-$41.50; Promoter: Innovation Arts And Entertainment: Apr. 7-8; No. of Shows: 2

The weekly Hot Tickets chart is compiled by Pollstar. For more information, e-mail or click here to submit your Box Office data now.


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Under the Stars in Orlando
Posted: 18 Apr 2018, 11:00 am

The Eagles perform at Camping World Stadium in Orlando on April 14. (Photo: Lisa Claire Bower)

The 2018 stadium concert season got off to a rousing start last weekend. Camping World Stadium reported $8.23 million in gross ticket sales for The Eagles and Jimmy Buffett on April 14, which set a record for a concert at the 82-year-old Orlando venue.

The sold-out event promoted by Live Nation drew attendance of 45,853 on a perfect night for live music outdoors in central Florida, said Allen Johnson, chief venues officer for the city-owned stadium.

“It went really well,” Johnson said. “It was a great crowd and great vibe.”

Food and drink sales totaled about $1.2 million with a per cap of $26.77. Levy runs the stadium’s concessions and premium dining. Fans spent an average of $14.77 on concert merchandise, Johnson said.

The record ticket sales for a concert come after the old Citrus Bowl Stadium underwent a $208-million renovation, completed in late 2014. The building, renamed Camping World Stadium in April 2016, has now had four concerts since the renovation: The Rolling Stones played there in 2015, Guns N’ Roses in 2016 and Metallica in 2017, Johnson said.

Last weekend was the first time since July 3, 1977, that The Eagles and Jimmy Buffett have performed together outdoors in Orlando, at Rock Super Bowl II, when the stadium was called the Tangerine Bowl. Johnson believes that was another factor for record-breaking ticket sales.

The two acts have a long relationship dating to when Buffett first opened for The Eagles in 1975 in Columbia, S.C. In 1998, Buffett inducted The Eagles into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. 

WrestleMania 33, held last year at Camping World Stadium, remains the highest-grossing event at the facility, Johnson said. WWE’s marquee event generated $14.5 million in ticket revenue and attendance of 75,245.

This summer, the Vans Warped Tour is set to hit Camping World Stadium on Aug. 3, and Beyonce and Jay Z’s “On the Run II” tour is scheduled to play there Aug. 29.

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Bridgestone Arena Lands Some Big Ones
Posted: 18 Apr 2018, 10:40 am

Gill and Ben, the first two catfish in the 850-gallon tank, explore their new home at Bridgestone Arena. (Courtesy Nashville Predators)

The NHL’s Nashville Predators don’t want their fans to throw catfish on Bridgestone Arena’s ice for good luck. That doesn’t mean the Predators don’t appreciate the whiskery critter.

It’s that push and pull around a home-grown tradition — Predators fans first threw a fish onto the ice nearly 20 years ago, not long after the franchise began play in 1998 — that led team President Sean Henry to unveil a new 850-gallon tank on the main concourse of the arena April 12, the day the team hosted its first game of this year’s playoffs.

The tank started with a catfish named Gill, and a second, Ben, was added days later. A third and fourth fish, both to be named by fans via social media polls, will arrive as the playoffs move along. The Predators lead their first-round best-of-seven series with Colorado three games to one after beating the Avalanche on Wednesday night in Denver.

Henry told VenuesNow the idea has floated around the arena for years, but as fans continued to champion the concept, the team started exploring it more recently.

The fans have always taken the lead on the catfish tradition in Nashville. As many native Detroit residents transplanted for work in Nashville, the odd yet deeply revered tradition of throwing a dead octopus onto the ice at Detroit Red Wings’ playoff games for good luck hit Nashville. Predator fans took it upon themselves to put a local spin on the tradition, tossing giant catfish.

“We never support anything being thrown in our building,” Henry said, “but a legend built. We have the best fans in sports and we listen to them all the time. Over the past handful of years, they said we needed a catfish tank to pay tribute to our signature.”

As Henry explored the idea, he found it wasn’t as simple as putting in a tank. Issues of maintenance, safety, taking care of live creatures and making it fun for the fans all surfaced. Drawing on experience Henry and his staff had from placing touch tanks for fans to interact with rays in St. Petersburg’s Tropicana Field for Major League Baseball’s Tampa Bay Rays, he knew it wasn’t always a fun project. “It was a lot of rush up and back off,” Henry said. “You go through a lot of designs, placement and partnerships.”

In the end, the Predators reeled in an old tank from owner Herb Fritch’s personal collection and with the help of local business The Aquatic Critter, the partnership for installation was complete. The start of the playoffs seemed as good a time as any for the introduction.

“Our building is always in a state of renovation,” Henry said. “We added tanks, added a Labatt Brewing zone, drink rails,” all new for the playoffs.

The catfish make their home on the main concourse—the four catfish represent the four wins needed to advance to the next round of the playoffs and the four rounds needed to win the Stanley Cup—but Henry said they might migrate. “We promote the fact we don’t mind failing a lot and we have fun with it,” he said. “We wanted maximum exposure for it. We just don’t know if that is where it will live forever. We will play with traffic counts.”

The first night was a grand success, with a line of 50 fans lingering an hour after the game to get pictures by the tank.

The team will slowly add to the tank as the fish acclimate to the space, and it plans graphics around the walls that tell the story of the catfish, show pictures of the fish and have fun anecdotes. There’s even a touch of police drama in the catfish story: Police arrested a fan in Pittsburgh during the 2017 Stanley Cup Finals for trying to toss a catfish onto the ice in PPG Paints Arena and charged him with being in possession of an “instrument of crime.”

The first fish name, Gill, comes with a triple entendre, paying homage to the team’s first “unofficial mayor of Smashville,” singer Vince Gill; radio announcer and former player Hal Gill; and the obvious fish reference. The second fish, Ben, was named after a Predators superfan who died before the 2017 season. A fan vote will determine the names of the last two fish, which will allow the team to polish off the signage around the tank. Each fish will get its own cave in the tank.

As the team struggles to keep the catfish off the ice during the playoffs (one of the most recent attempts to make the ice involved a fish wearing a tuxedo), Henry said building the tank doesn’t promote the throwing. Instead, the tank appreciates the catfish as a secondary image of the team, one created and celebrated by fans.

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In Memoriam: Bob Reid, 1931-2018
Posted: 17 Apr 2018, 8:00 pm

The late Bob Reid, second from right, with the “original Met Center gang, along with a note from Vince Egan, CEO of VEE Corp., lauding the group. With Reid are Karen Swan, who moved on to Target Center in Minneapolis; the late Frank Jirik, who ended his career at SAP Center in San Jose, Calif.; Sara Grunewald; and Jack Larson, manager of  Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn., at the 20th anniversary of Sesame Street Live on March 3, 2000. (Courtesy Jack Larson)

A straight shooter and early recycler, Bob Reid spent his career running the old Met Center in Bloomington, Minn., home of the Minnesota North Stars hockey club, and booking Big Bird for VEE Corp.’s Sesame Street Live. Reid died March 30 at the age of 86 in Wausau, Wis.

Jack Larson, manager of Xcel Energy Center, started his career in the 1970s at Met Center, working with Reid and SAP Center’s Jim Goddard before the hockey team moved south in 1993, becoming the Dallas Stars, and the Met Center was torn down a year later. “Bob was the original recycler,” Larson recalled. “At lunch hour he’d go for a run around the building and when he was done, he’d go to the lower level of the arena and collect cans for recycling.” Reid was not afraid to put his head in the wastebasket, looking for recyclables.

In Reid’s day it was a one-man show and he took the cans home to Edina, Minn., to recycle the stash. He helped establish the Edina Recycling Commission. “He was an early pioneer; he felt it was the right thing to do,” Larson said.

Reid started his career in sports and entertainment at the University of Minnesota, where he worked for the athletic department's intramural and sports information offices. After graduation, he was part of the Minnesota Centennial Commission's publicity team.

He became the publicity director for the Minneapolis Lakers basketball team from 1955 to 1958, then joined Max Winter Attractions as an associate until 1963, where he provided public relations support for the Harlem Globetrotters, the Hawaii State Fair and the Midwest Auto Show. He became a partner with Padilla, Sarjeant, Sullivan and Speer Public Relations for four years, representing clients like the Grain Belt brewery and the Ice Follies.

Like many in the business, his relationships and connections guided his career, in his case to join the fledgling Minnesota North Stars, an NHL expansion club, where he served as the hockey team's first administrative director from 1967 to 1972 and then became the Met Center building manager until 1985.

In 1985, he joined VEE Corp., booking Sesame Street Live for the late Vince E. Egan. He worked for Egan as director of booking until 1997. Jay Humphry, former VP of operations for VEE, recalls learning how to book shows from Reid during their VEE days. Sesame Street Live debuted at the Met Center in April 1980, Humphry recalled. Like Larson, he vividly recalls Reid’s recycling habits – right down to rinsing and bagging the beer cans after settlement.

Reid loved the business and his building and people responded to him in a positive way. “He was a wonderful guy to deal with, he always played it straight,” Humphry said. “That’s what he taught me. If you play it straight you can come back to people year after year.”

He did the same thing on the other side of the table booking Sesame Street Live. Booking three tours already, Reid taught Humphry how to do it so he could take on the fourth, strictly Canadian unit Egan decreed.

Humphry learned networking extraordinaire from Reid. He recalled the days when Reid would cut out photos published in the old Amusement Business trade magazine of new managers of buildings VEE Corp. played. He’d paste the photos into a notebook (is this the first Facebook?) and take it with him to International Association of Auditorium Managers meetings so he could recognize and snag them as they walked by. He’d pick a table and host meeting after meeting with future clients to book the show, Humphry recalled.

Reid was very involved in IAAM, which is now the International Association of Venue Managers. He helped form an offshoot of that association, originally called the Non-Group to avoid any appearances of anti-competitive practices, and later called MAMA (Major Arena Managers Association). MAMA was a group of managers of major arenas who could promote and co-promote shows. Aspiring producers and promoters would address the group periodically, introducing new content and seeking their professional input to make tours successful. Forty years later, similar groups still exist in the industry, such as Arena Network, Venue Coalition and even the Arena Alliance to some extent.

Brad Mayne, CEO of IAVM, considers Reid a mentor and recalls seeing him at the annual IAVM convention, arms folded, standing against the wall, ready to help newcomers and veterans alike. “He was always ready and willing to answer questions.” He served on the IAVM board of directors and on various committees.

According to his family-prepared obit, “Bob loved to tell a good story, sharing (and hearing) jokes, the Chicago Cubs, and tapping his toes to Big Band and polka music. He was a 'doer,' and an outstanding role model with an exceptional work ethic.”

He was born June 12, 1931, in Minneapolis, to the late Robert S. and Meryl Reid. He married Eleanor "Elie" Weld on Feb. 2, 1962, in Minneapolis. She claimed sharing the date with Groundhog Day would ensure Bob couldn't forget their anniversary. They raised two children, Fritz and Julie.

Reid’s interest in sports found him also serving for 42 years as the lead public address announcer for the Minnesota State High School League state hockey, baseball, softball, football and wrestling tournaments; for the MSHSL as a baseball umpire; for the Western Collegiate Hockey Association as publicity director and lead statistician; and also as a statistician for the Minnesota Vikings. He was also part of a group and one of the first coaches that started the Edina Little League organization in the 1950s.

He is survived by his son, Frederic "Fritz" Reid, partner Kim Forrest and son Forrest Hansen; daughter Julie Bliss, husband Jim, and children Reid Baker and Charlotte Bliss; two siblings, and nieces and nephews. The funeral was April 7 in Wausau, Wis., where he lived during the last years of his life after leaving Edina.

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LAFC Chooses Appetize For POS Services
Posted: 17 Apr 2018, 6:00 pm

Banc of California Stadium, where Major League Soccer's Los Angeles FC will play, is partnering with Appetize for point-of-sale services.

Banc of California Stadium, where the newly minted Major League Soccer team Los Angeles Football Club will play, has chosen Appetize as its point-of-sale company.

The new $350 million, 22,000-capacity stadium will join a list of L.A.-area clients for Appetize including the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, The Forum, Dodger Stadium, Hollywood Palladium, The Wiltern, Angels Stadium and the Galen Center at the University of Southern California. The company is also based in Los Angeles.

The concessionaire at Banc of California Stadium is Legends.

“This deal dates back into Q4, late 2017,” said Kevin Anderson, co-founder and chief strategy officer for Appetize. “LAFC and Legends were running an RFP for POS and, in beginning of the year, we won the deal.”

The systems will go live on opening day, April 29. “We’re already almost finished with installation of the hardware and software and training,” he said. “Construction is almost finished. It’s all exciting stuff.”

The average term of a contract with Appetize is five years.

The Appetize payment system can enable a faster transaction flow for the concession stands and will also allow guests to order from their phones, said Anderson.

“We will power every concession stand in the stadium,” said Anderson. “We work closely with Legends in other venues already, and work with them in a lot of Live Nation amphitheaters, so this is an extension of that relationship as well.”

There will be over 200 Appetize POS devices in use across the stadium in both club spaces and quick-serve concessions. This includes contactless payments at all transaction points, including Android Pay, Apple Pay and Samsung Pay. LAFC is also deploying Appetize handheld POS terminals for waiters in premium levels. 

In addition, the system will provide the platform for future capabilities such as direct payment through a mobile wallet via the LAFC venue app, as well as ordering through Appetize within the LAFC app to designated express pickup areas or in-seat delivery. Appetize inventory management and advanced analytics platforms will also provide real-time data feeds to allow for on-the-fly decision-making.

“We’re honored to partner with our city’s newest team and stadium,” said Anderson. “It’s rare to find people as forward-thinking as those managing the guest experience at Banc of California Stadium, let alone have them be less than 10 miles from our headquarters. We’re excited and looking forward to providing guests with an awesome experience in our hometown.”

LAFC 's vice president of information and technology, Christian Lau, said, “We looked at Appetize, Bypass, NCR Quest and in the end we decided that Appetize was the best fit for our venue.”

“We were pleased with the depth of their service, impressed with their roadmap and mobile-ordering and express pickup integration and their overall POS capabilities,” said Lau.

Legends was consulted on the decision, and LAFC is confident that Appetize and Legends will work hand-in-hand to deliver the best customer experience to guests, he said.

“We want to push technology and innovation to deliver the best experience to our audience when they come to our stadium, combining our mobile first strategy with our technology infrastructure,” he said. “Appetize aligns our strategy and enables our plans for the future.”

All the Appetize POS systems will be in place by April 23 in anticipation of the April 29 opening day. 


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Rippetoe Nominated by IAVM
Posted: 17 Apr 2018, 4:00 pm

CliffRippletoe-200x145.jpgClifford "Rip" Rippetoe.

The International Association of Venue Managers has nominated Clifford “Rip” Rippetoe for second vice chair of the IAVM board of directors.

Rippetoe will serve a four-year term, taking on the chairman position in 2020-21. Rippetoe is president and CEO of the San Diego Convention Center Corp.


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Posted: 17 Apr 2018, 3:00 pm

$4.963 BILLION

Reported construction and development cost for the new Los Angeles Stadium and Entertainment District at Hollywood Park in Inglewood, Calif., which would make it the most expensive sports project ever built. Also planned for the 298-acre site are a 6,000-seat performing arts center, 890,000 square feet of retail, 780,000 square feet of office space, 300 hotel rooms, 2,500 new residential units and 25 acres of public parks and open space, plus a casino already on the site.

Estimated cost of the stadium component only, home to two NFL teams, the Rams and the Los Angeles Chargers and set to open in 2020. To include 70,240 open-air seats under a roof canopy, expandable to 100,000, in 3 million square feet.

Cost per seat and cost per square foot of the stadium.

Cost per seat and cost per square foot of Levi’s Stadium, home to the San Francisco 49ers. Open-air stadium built for $1.3 billion with 68,500 seats and 1.85 million square feet. Opened in 2014.

Cost per seat and cost per square foot of Mercedes-Benz Stadium, home of the Atlanta Falcons. Built for $1.6 billion with 71,000 seats, 1.8 million square feet and a retractable roof. Opened in 2017.

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Posted: 17 Apr 2018, 3:00 pm

Aventus named Rob Edwards chief operating officer. Edwards has held positions with Eventim U.K., AudienceView Ticketing Corp. and

L-Acoustics appointed Franck Fabry to regional sales manager. Fabry previously served the Canadian market for Bosch/Telex and Meyer Sound Laboratories.

Kenneth Hardiman was named senior executive chef of the new arena of the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks, the Wisconsin Entertainment and Sports Center, for Levy Restaurants. Hardiman was the executive chef of Milwaukee’s Mason Street Grill.

AEG Live Senior Vice President Ali Harnell has joined the global touring team for AEG Presents, while Mike DuCharme will serve as vice president for AEG’s Nashville regional office and Adam Weiser as vice president of the national theaters and clubs team. The changes follow the exit of Lenore Kinder to become an agent at Paradigm.

Ware Malcomb tapped Anita Makwana as director of corporate accounts in the firm’s Irvine, Calif.-based headquarters. Makwana joined Ware Malcomb in 2005.

Guidepost Solutions appointed Robert J. McDonough as vice president of sports and entertainment. McDonough most recently served as the director of security for the AMB Group LLC and the Arthur M. Blank Sports Entertainment Group LLC. Before that, McDonough was the first director of security in the United States for Bayer Corp. McDonough served as a special agent with the U.S. Secret Service for 24 years.

Kletra Newton was named chief operating officer of the San Mateo County (Calif.) Event Center. Newton joined the event center management team in 2014 and in 2016 was named director of event sales and services.

Nashville-based National Shows 2 added talent buyer Taki Pappas to its staff. Pappas started in the music business at Live Nation. After working more than 13 years with PACE Touring, Avalon Attractions, SFX Touring and Clear Channel Entertainment, Pappas most recently served as the director of programming, concerts and comedy at the Durham (N.C.) Performing Arts Center.

Madison Square Garden Co. named Victoria Parker executive vice president of  MSG Productions. Parker joins MSG after serving as the head of creative strategy for Verizon’s Oath Studios. Before Verizon, Parker spent 10 years at The Weinstein Co., where she served as vice president of corporate affairs and senior vice president of theatrical productions.

Jerry Moses, 71, sports concessionaire and Major League Baseball player, March 26 in Haverhill, Mass. Moses played as a catcher in the majors 1965-75, primarily for the Boston Red Sox. In 1986, Moses and Chris Verros (now Centerplate’s president and CEO) launched Fanfare, a small foodservice company that grew to 15 accounts before it was sold to Fine Host Corp. seven years later. Aramark acquired Fine Host in 2002 for about $100 million.

Western Specialty Contractors promoted Tom Brooks to chief operating officer. Brooks replaces Jim Rechtin Sr., who retired after 46 years of service. Brooks started with Western in 2012 as vice president of operations and business development, then was promoted to senior vice president of operations in 2016.

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Posted: 17 Apr 2018, 3:00 pm

Every day is different for Stone, who also has experience in Olympic and collegiate sports … and barbecue.

Where did you go to college? University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

What did you think you would do when you were a kid? I wanted to be an Olympic athlete, an executive and work in the NBA.

First job in the industry: I interned at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, in the USA Boxing division. My first paying job was as assistant sports information director at the University of Miami.

Biggest achievement: I hope to leave a legacy and help develop and grow new talent.
Favorite live event you’ve attended: When we won our first NBA championship in 2006.
Best advice you’ve ever received: Judge people by their actions, not their words.
Best day / worst day on the job: Same event, different years. We celebrated our 2006 championship with a parade. It did not go as planned and a near riot almost broke out when we made a left turn on the parade route and the crowd started breaking through gates. When we did it again in 2012, we focused on making sure we did everything right. Lesson learned.
What would people be surprised to learn about you? I am a certified BBQ judge in Kansas City style.

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Vegas Convention Center Expansion Design Unveiled
Posted: 9 Apr 2018, 8:00 pm

Architects have submitted their designs for the phase two expansion of the Las Vegas Convention Center.


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Creativity Takes Center Stage at Convention Centers
Posted: 26 Mar 2018, 8:00 pm

The artwork installed at an increasing number of popular convention centers transforms these necessarily utilitarian buildings into magnificent galleries that rival some of the most inspired museums in the world.


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Arlington Unveils Plans for Massive Esports Stadium
Posted: 18 Mar 2018, 8:00 pm

The City of Arlington announced plans for Esports Stadium Arlington, an esports-specific venue designed to draw competitive gamers and fans from around the world. The proposed venue will be built within the existing Arlington Convention Center in collaboration with architecture firm Populous.


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Q&A With Michele Hughes, Director of Sales, Connecticut Convention Center
Posted: 24 Jan 2018, 7:00 pm

Meetings Today checked in with Michele Hughes, Director of Sales & Marketing with the Connecticut Convention Center (CTCC).


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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.


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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


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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.


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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.


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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.


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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.


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Convention center tradeshows focus on interaction
Posted: 31 Mar 2015, 8:00 pm

Are you fully engaging your attendees?


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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.


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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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Take 10 - Invigorate Your Large Events!
Posted: 13 May 2014, 8:00 pm

Dana Freker Doody answers questions from Meetings Focus' Invigorate Your Large Events webinar.


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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.


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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.


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Selecting the perfect convention venue
Posted: 31 Mar 2014, 8:00 pm

Eight easy steps to picking the perfect convention venue.


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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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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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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.


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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


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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


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Areas of Study
Posted: 17 Feb 2013, 7:00 pm
University meetings think outside of the classroom


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School Spirit
Posted: 17 Feb 2013, 7:00 pm
College stadiums and arenas are a classic choice for large groups


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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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............................................................ Has Moved! Here's How to Get to Our New Site
Posted: 26 Jan 2013, 4:00 pm
On Saturday, January 26, took a bold step forward in its evolution: Along with Billboard’s fully revamped magazine, newly launched iPad app and the relaunched, the all-new 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

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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?

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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, has learned. This is the second major signing of the young year for RLM, which recently added Tiesto to its growing list of clients.

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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, has learned. This is the second major signing of the young year for RLM, which recently added Tiesto to its growing list of clients.

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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, 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.

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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, 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.

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'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.

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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 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, 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, 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.

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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, 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 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.

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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.

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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


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Take 10 - Conference Centers
Posted: 11 Jun 2012, 8:00 pm
Take 10 - Conference Centers


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Shiny and New
Posted: 7 Jun 2012, 8:00 pm


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Convention Center Contacts
Posted: 7 Jun 2012, 8:00 pm


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New School
Posted: 30 Apr 2012, 8:00 pm


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Final Bow
Posted: 28 Mar 2012, 8:00 pm


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IACC Makes Global Push; Criteria to 'Evolve'
Posted: 21 Mar 2012, 8:00 pm


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Unlikely Customers
Posted: 28 Feb 2012, 7:00 pm


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Convention Center Coming to Provo
Posted: 25 Jan 2012, 7:00 pm


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Las Vegas Conv. Center Adds Digital Signage Feature
Posted: 24 Jan 2012, 7:00 pm


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Gambling Headed for Hawaii Conv. Center?
Posted: 24 Jan 2012, 7:00 pm


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A Duo of Conv. Centers Launches Free Wi-Fi
Posted: 23 Jan 2012, 7:00 pm


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Anaheim Conv. Center Plans Expansion
Posted: 23 Jan 2012, 7:00 pm


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IACC Board Sets New Service Standards
Posted: 30 Nov 2011, 7:00 pm


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APEC Under Way in Honolulu
Posted: 8 Nov 2011, 7:00 pm


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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


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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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Noteworthy - West November 2010
Posted: 31 Oct 2010, 8:00 pm


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On Location - Convention Centers
Posted: 31 May 2010, 8:00 pm


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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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University Venues
Posted: 28 Feb 2010, 7:00 pm

Universities offer an exciting range of museum venues


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A Class Act
Posted: 30 Apr 2009, 8:00 pm


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University Venues
Posted: 28 Feb 2009, 7:00 pm


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Conference Centers
Posted: 31 Jan 2009, 7:00 pm


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Conference Centers
Posted: 31 Jan 2009, 7:00 pm
Conference Call


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Conference Centers
Posted: 31 Jan 2009, 7:00 pm


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Conference Call
Posted: 31 Dec 2008, 7:00 pm


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