Concert Ticket Tax, Budget Pass In Chicago
Posted: 21 Nov 2017, 9:29 pm
A controversial amusement ticket tax and other new fees are coming to Chicago, with the city council?s approval Nov. 21 of Mayor Rahm Emanuel?s 2018 budget. 

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David Cassidy Dies
Posted: 21 Nov 2017, 9:21 pm
David Cassidy, 67, who was in the hospital for several days with organ failure, has died.

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More Security For Dead & Company
Posted: 21 Nov 2017, 8:34 pm
When Dead & Company take the stage at XL Center in Hartford, Conn., Nov. 22 there will be a beefed-up presence of police because of a threat posted on Facebook.

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Executive Profile: Kevin Gimble and Steve Gordon, Circle Talent Agency
Posted: 21 Nov 2017, 6:55 pm
?I?ve made the promise to my artists that ?I will advance you money out of my own pocket? if needed, because we don?t have the red tape of a bureaucratic system saying ?no,?? Circle Talent Agency partner Steve Gordon told Pollstar.

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Mutek SF Announced
Posted: 21 Nov 2017, 5:58 pm
Mutek, a festival featuring EDM artists, has announced a San Francisco event.

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Pinegrove Cancels U.S. Tour, Citing Accusations Of Sexual Coercion
Posted: 21 Nov 2017, 5:48 pm
Montclair, N.J.-based indie rock band Pinegrove has called off its upcoming U.S. tour following accusations of ?sexual coercion? against lead vocalist/guitarist Evan Stephens Hall.

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Dawes Among Record Store Day's Black Friday Performers
Posted: 21 Nov 2017, 5:14 pm
The famed ?Record Store Day,? where indie record stores offer up hundreds of new and limited edition titles, arrives this Friday, Nov. 24.

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Matthew Morgan, Buster Phillips Leave CAA
Posted: 21 Nov 2017, 3:36 pm
Following the exit of Scott Clayton, agents Buster Phillips and Matthew Morgan have left CAA, a source has confirmed to Pollstar, with Morgan joining WME.   

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Georgia Dome Puts On Final Show In Implosion
Posted: 21 Nov 2017, 2:49 pm
Atlanta?s Georgia Dome was imploded into a pile of rubble Nov. 20, sending clouds of smoke and shrapnel into the sky, but leaving the adjacent Mercedes-Benz Stadium unharmed.

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Faster Horses Injury Lawsuit
Posted: 21 Nov 2017, 12:27 pm
An attendee of the 2016 Faster Horses Country Fest is blaming Live Nation and officials with the Michigan International Speedway for a broken right ankle she sustained after falling in a ditch.

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Taylor Swift Dominates Pollstar’s Elite 100
Posted: 21 Nov 2017, 10:21 am
As expected, a full week of data following Taylor Swift releasing her new reputation album has meant a blood bath on the charts, with Swift?s score of 1,391 just under 17 times higher than the next-closest on Pollstar?s Elite 100 Artists chart.

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Eagles Announce Stadium Tour
Posted: 21 Nov 2017, 10:07 am
Eagles have announced they are hitting stadiums next year with special guests Jimmy Buffett & The Coral Reefer Band, plus James Taylor and His All-Star Band and Chris Stapleton on many of the dates.

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AC/DC's Malcolm Young: Decades Of Rock By The Numbers
Posted: 20 Nov 2017, 9:18 pm
Co-founder of the legendary rock act AC/DC Malcolm Young passed away at the age of 64, representatives of the band confirmed Nov. 18.  He was for decades an integral part of AC/DC's explosive sound and Pollstar?s extensive reports gives us a glimpse into the live legacy of this elite touring band. 

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Nick Cave Rebuffs BDS To Play Tel Aviv
Posted: 20 Nov 2017, 8:20 pm
Nick Cave is the latest artist to face pressure from activists pressing for boycott, divestiture and sanctions ? better known as the BDS movement ? for his decision to perform shows in Israel. But he's the latest to push back.

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Dave Matthews, Pharrell & More Playing Stevie Wonder’s Holiday Benefit
Posted: 20 Nov 2017, 7:16 pm
Andra Day, Dave Matthews and Pharrell are a few of the artists helping Stevie Wonder make spirits bright at his annual ?House Full Of Toys? benefit concert.

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New Vegas Suits To Represent More Than 450 Shooting Victims
Posted: 20 Nov 2017, 6:28 pm
Four more cases are being filed on behalf of more than 450 victims of the Oct. 1 Las Vegas shooting, with the attorney calling the tragedy "the largest security failure in U.S. history." 

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Goldenvoice's Skip Paige Retires
Posted: 20 Nov 2017, 4:20 pm
Skip Paige, vice president of Goldenvoice and instrumental in the Coachella and Stagecoach festivals, has announced his retirement.

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Veteran Agent Steve Dahl Dies
Posted: 20 Nov 2017, 1:50 pm
A Nashville staple for decades and Paradigm?s longtime head of Fairs & Festivals, Steve Dahl died Nov. 19 at the age of 71. 

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AMA Winners Bruno Mars, Coldplay, Niall Horan By the Touring Numbers
Posted: 20 Nov 2017, 11:08 am
Pollstar looks into some of the touring numbers and plans for last night's American Music Awards winners, such as Bruno Mars (artist of the year), Coldplay (tour of the year) and Niall Horan (new artist of the year).

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Coalition Talent UK Announces JV With Ministry of Sound
Posted: 20 Nov 2017, 10:14 am
London-based booking agency Coalition Talent has announced a joint venture with the Ministry of Sound entertainment business which includes the London nightclub of the same name.

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Scott Clayton Leaves CAA For WME: Exclusive
Posted: 19 Nov 2017, 9:44 pm
Scott Clayton, one of the powerhouses of the Nashville office of CAA, has shifted to WME, Pollstar has learned.

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Remembering Mel Tillis: Randy Travis, Charlie Daniels Pay Respects
Posted: 19 Nov 2017, 12:55 pm
Following the news of country music legend Mel Tillis' passing Nov. 19, friends, colleagues and contemporaries paid their respects with heartfelt remembrances, including bandmate Bobby Bare, who said, "I've lost a brother." 

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David Cassidy Hospitalized, Surrounded By Family
Posted: 18 Nov 2017, 9:45 pm
 ?Partridge Family? star David Cassidy has been hospitalized in Florida.

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Bodies Of Rapper, Promoter Found
Posted: 18 Nov 2017, 4:43 pm
Two bodies found over the weekend in a rural area are believed to be an Atlanta-based rapper and his cousin, a music promoter, an Alabama sheriff said Saturday. Both had been missing for several days.

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Taylor Swift ‘reputation:’ 1.1M Sold, Streams 27M First Week
Posted: 18 Nov 2017, 1:12 pm
In just six days, Taylor Swift sold more than 1.1 million copies of her new reputation album in the U.S., which was released Nov. 11 and followed by the announcement of 27 North American stadium dates as the first leg of what is certain to be a blockbuster world tour.

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AC/DC Founding Member Malcolm Young Dead At 64
Posted: 18 Nov 2017, 12:03 pm
Malcolm Young, the rhythm guitarist and guiding force behind the bawdy hard rock band AC/DC who helped create such head-banging anthems as ?Highway to Hell,? ??Hells Bells? and ?Back in Black,? has died. He was 64.

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Venues Breakdown From Stadiums (The Stones) To Clubs (Sylvan Esso)
Posted: 17 Nov 2017, 9:19 pm
Pollstar?s weekly Global Concert Pulse chart provides subscribers with a glimpse of the different kinds of tours reporting to Pollstar from around the world in the last three months. We decided to draw this out by breaking down how the tours represent various types of venues on the chart for Nov. 27.

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Voices From The Trenches: Scott Leslie
Posted: 17 Nov 2017, 7:09 pm
Scott Leslie is co-owner of the 600-capacity Majestic Live in Madison, Wis., but that?s not nearly his whole story. He's also a Promoter

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Pollstar Awards Nominees Unveiled
Posted: 16 Nov 2017, 8:21 pm
Congratulations to the nominees of the 29th Annual Pollstar Awards. There are 37 categories including Best New Headliner, Most Creative Stage Production, Music Festival of the Year, Nightclub of the Year, Bobby Brooks Award/Agent of the Year, Talent Buyer of the Year, Personal Manager of the Year, Bill Graham Award/Promoter of the Year, and Sound Company of the Year.

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Sodexo Buys Centerplate for $675M
Posted: 16 Nov 2017, 7:00 pm

Chris Verros, CEO of Centerplate, and Pierre Henry, VP of the Group Executive Committee and CEO Sports & Leisure Worldwide for Sodexo.

Sodexo has agreed to purchase Centerplate for $675 million from current owner Olympus Partners. Olympus bought Centerplate five years ago for $550 million, according to Chris Verros, current CEO of Centerplate.

When the deal is complete in approximately 45 days, Verros will lead the combined sports and leisure businesses in North America.

Sodexo will take over Centerplate’s accounts in Europe, which include 50 venues in the U.K. and the newly opened Wanda Metropolitano soccer stadium in Madrid, Spain.

Sodexo is based in multiple cities, with sports and leisure headquarters in Paris, Gaithersburg, Md., and London, to name a few. Its North American sports and leisure business includes 30 accounts in sports and leisure and another 10 stadiums at universities. In Europe, it operates high profile attractions such as the Lido in Paris and the restaurant in the Eiffel Tower.

Pierre Henry, vice president of the Group Executive Committee and CEO Sports & Leisure Worldwide for Sodexo, said in a statement: “This acquisition is another step in our long-term strategy to become a leading player in every market in which we are present. Centerplate is an ideal partner with highly professional, dedicated teams who bring a wealth of industry expertise. We look forward to working together with Centerplate to bring exceptional Quality of Life experiences to tens of thousands of fans and spectators around the world.”

Centerplate has executive offices in Stamford, Conn., and Greenville, S.C. Tracing its roots back to 1929, Centerplate has been through several iterations, from ownership groups to IPOs. It grew substantially when Volume Services and Service America merged. It was renamed Centerplate in 2004 after an IPO. Centerplate was sold to private equity firm Kohlberg & Company in 2009 for a reported $210 million and a few months later, Centerplate acquired Boston Culinary. Kohlberg sold to Olympus Partners in collaboration with the current management team, who have now sold to Sodexo.

Verros said Sodexo approached Olympus Partners with the offer, intending to strengthen its foothold in North America and “Centerplate had ownership willing to talk to them.”

Negotiations have been ongoing and fruitful for the last several months. “We found out a lot about each other,” Verros said, noting the company cultures are a good match.

The combined buying power of the two companies is “huge, $22 billion in annual revenues,” Verros said. He is pleased to have the power of Sodexo behind Centerplate and noted the two company cultures are a match. “It gives us a lot more strength to be competitive,” Verros said.

Centerplate hosts 116 million patrons at stadiums, arena and convention centers annually. It has hosted 14 Super Bowls and 36 U.S. Presidential Inaugural Balls, among its many premier events.

Centerplate’s last 12-month revenues to June 2017 were $998 million, according to the press release. Sodexo’s Fiscal Year 2016 revenues for the Sports & Leisure segment were €903 million.

Sodexo was founded in 1966 by Pierre Bellon, and operates in 80 countries, serving 75 million consumers each day through its unique combination of On-site Services, Benefits and Rewards Services and Personal and Home Services. Through its more than 100 services, Sodexo provides clients an integrated offering developed over 50 years of experience: from food services, reception, safety, maintenance and cleaning, to facilities and equipment management; from Meal Pass, Gift Pass and Mobility Pass benefits for employees to in-home assistance, child care centers and concierge services. Sodexo employs 425,000 people worldwide.

The acquisition is subject to customary regulatory approvals and is expected to be closed by the end of 2017.

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LogJam Presents Embraces Green Initiatives
Posted: 16 Nov 2017, 6:00 pm

The KettleHouse Amphitheater is implementing vigorous environmental policies to go green. (Photo Credit: Logjam Presents).

Logjam Presents teamed up with local counterparts in Missoula, Mont., to reduce the city’s carbon footprint a whopping 90 percent by 2050.

“It’s an ambitious goal,” said Nick Checota, owner and operator of LogJam Presents, which is a private entertainment company that owns and operates three venues in Missoula — The Wilma (1,500 capacity), Top Hat Lounge (600 capacity) and the KettleHouse Amphitheater (4,000 capacity).

Logjam will start its green initiative in phases, with the first phase starting this December and with full implementation by Jan. 31, 2018.

“First and foremost, our customers are demanding it,” Checota said. “They are requiring and asking us to be a greener organization.”

It’s all part of the Zero by Fifty initiative launched by the city of Missoula in partnership with the Missoula Compost Collection and Logjam Presents.

“For the Missoula-based owners of Logjam Presents, success is measured in many ways, including ensuring that our economic prosperity doesn’t come at the cost of our quality of life. This partnership is a big leap for Missoula, and I’m grateful that the community’s vision gets closer to reality every day.” Missoula Mayor John Engen said in a statement.

Not only is Checota listening to customer and city demands, he also feels a moral obligation to keep the community healthy and waste free as his businesses grow.

“It’s personally something I feel that we should do in the organization. I’m the primary owner. I don’t have a lot of red tape to go through,” he said.  “Moving to compostable cups and compostable water bottles and compostable straws is the low hanging fruit if you will.”

Finding 100 percent compostable water bottles has been the biggest challenge and were the most expensive to replace. Going green does generate extra costs, Checota said, but it’s well worth it, especially from a customer service and marketing standpoint.

On average, plastic water bottles cost roughly 10 cents a unit, he said, and the new compostable water bottles run 60 to 70 cents. The compostable cups weren’t as bad with a roughly 15 percent increase in cost, Checota said.

He doesn’t anticipate absorbing those costs by raising prices, but instead he wants to see how the first year goes.

Checota estimates that it will cost him roughly $20,000 extra a year to implement many of the changes, but he looks at it also as marketing money he’s invested into his venues.

“I look at this… we’re doing the right thing and it’s a marketing expense,” he said.

According to the press release, the first phase includes:

• Implementation of a compost program that includes the elimination of all plastic single-use cups, plastic water bottles and plastic straws at the three Logjam venues. All will be replaced with 100 percent compostable products that Missoula Compost Collection will deliver to Garden City Compost, the City of Missoula's compost operation. Additionally, the Top Hat Restaurant and Bar will work with Missoula Compost to dispose of food waste from the restaurant and kitchen into the composting facility.

• Deployment of a broad recycling program.  All serving cans and carry-out containers will be separated at the venue and will be transported by Missoula Compost Collective to Pacific Steel Recycling and Republic Services.

• Implementation of a reusable cup and bottle program at the venues. Customers at the Wilma and KettleHouse Amphitheater will have the opportunity to obtain a Klean Kanteen reusable cup that can be used for all beverage products sold at the venues.

“Missoula Compost Collection is excited to see Logjam Presents take on this project. They will be the first prominent restaurant and music venues in Missoula to compost their serving ware and kitchen waste through our services,” Missoula Compost Collection Owner Sean Doty said in a statement. “This is going to be a positive change for the future. Thinking back to some of the first shows I saw in Missoula 15 years ago, we drank out of disposable cups and they are still sitting in the landfill, most likely unchanged. This is huge for the community of Missoula and its goal of reaching zero waste by 2050."

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Spectra to Manage Prescott Valley Arena
Posted: 16 Nov 2017, 5:00 pm

The 6,200 seat Prescott Valley (Ariz.) Event Center. (Photo Credit: Prescott Valley Event Center)


The Prescott Valley Event Center in Northern Arizona is under new ownership and management, which means capital improvements, more content and bigger audiences are expected at the venue.

Spectra by Comcast recently signed a five-year agreement to operate and manage the venue, a partnership that started Oct. 27.  Scott Norton, an 11-year Spectra employee, is the new general manager of the venue, and he anticipates that business will increase by more than 30 percent in the next year.  He’s been helping the arena in a consulting role for several months before the partnership started late last month.

It has not been a smooth ride for the 6,200-seat venue that cost $35 million to build in 2006, and now — after helping the event center avoid Chapter 7 bankruptcy — a newly-formed governmental corporation called the Prescott Valley Entertainment Center Community Facilities District (PVECCFD) owns the building.

Originally, Global Entertainment owned the venue in a joint partnership with Fain Signature Group.

After Global Entertainment, along with the Central Hockey League, filed Chapter 7 bankruptcy in 2014, Fain Signature Group took full ownership and operation of the venue; however that company failed to revive the arena, said Prescott Valley Town Manager Larry Tarkowski.

“(Global Entertainment) left the other partner operating for three years, and they told us they were going to go into Chapter 7 bankruptcy,” Tarkowski said. “So the town stepped in and worked with them.”

When the venue originally was built, Allstate Insurance purchased 85 percent of the arena’s bonds. In the new arrangement, Lapis Advisors purchased Allstate’s distressed bonds and then began working with the town.

The PVECCFD then bought out Lapis’ interest in $16 million worth of bonds, giving the governmental group full ownership of the building.

“The PVECCFD was created to own the building and (find an operator) for the building,” Tarkowski said.

Prescott Valley is a “rapidly growing” community, and to have such a huge venue in the center of town with plywood on the windows was unacceptable to town council and community members, Tarkowski said.

“It’s a part of the identity of the community,” he said, highlighting that the arena has hosted a number of high school wrestling and basketball competitions, along with high school and college graduations.

The venue also is home to the Northern Arizona Suns of the National Basketball Association G-League.

“What we were doing is bringing in a whole lot of people throughout the state of Arizona. They fill our hotels… they fill our restaurants,” he said.

Although the town isn’t operating the arena, it’s putting roughly $2 million in capital funds into the venue, which includes roof repair, redoing the parking lot, spiffing up the interior and investing in IT and electronic upgrades.

“We’re also buying a basketball floor that has NBA-quality baskets,” Tarkowski said.
In 2016, the venue had 65 event days. Norton expects the final number for 2017 to jump to 92 event days. He’s also hopeful that the venue will host 100-plus days of events annually, not including public skating and other community events.

“This size building, this size market is definitely in our wheelhouse,” he said of Spectra. “We’re going to bring the venue into a better financial picture. The venue had been operating on a skeleton crew.”

Norton plans to hire three full-time employees, bringing full-time staff to eight, and a few part-time employees.

“For me, it’s pretty much a blank slate up here. We think we have a great opportunity to revive the facility. We feel the market here has been a little bit underserved. We look forward to adding content and getting the venue back on the map from a concert and entertainment standpoint,” he said.

A fully-owned division of Comcast NBCUniversal, Spectra also provides management services to the Budweiser Event Center, Loveland, Colo., The Santa Ana Star Center, Rio Rancho, N.M., and the Casper (Wyo.) Event Center; similar venues in size and locale.

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Brisbane Live Linked with Underground Rail Line
Posted: 16 Nov 2017, 11:40 am

Future of two-year-old Brisbane Live project tied to results of Nov. 25 elections in Queensland, Australia.

An ambitious proposal for an entertainment development project in Brisbane, Australia, would be folded into the planning of a large underground rail line project under a new plan from Queensland’s Labor Party leaders.

The proposal would put the planning for Brisbane Live, an entertainment precinct featuring a 17,000-seat arena, under the Cross River Rail Delivery Authority, which is overseeing the underground rail line development, in partnership with Harvey Lister, CEO of AEG Ogden, the Brisbane-based venues operator that proposed the estimated $2 billion (Australian) Brisbane Live project. The proposal linking the projects was made ahead of Queensland’s Nov. 25 legislative assembly elections and would progress if the Labor Party retains control of the legislative body.

In a press release, Jackie Trad, deputy premier and minister for transport, infrastructure and planning for Queensland, said the Labor Party government has been “working very closely with Harvey Lister to make sure we create the best entertainment and integrated transport precinct in Australia.”

The Cross River Rail project is a $5.4 billion (Australian) underground rail line planned in central Brisbane. The Liberal National Party, which is the top challenger to the Labor Party in the elections, has not committed to supporting the Cross River Rail project if it gains legislative control, so the plan to link the planning of Brisbane Live with the rail project could be snuffed out at the ballot box. However, the Liberal National Party has already expressed support for a version of the Brisbane Live project and could allow it to proceed without the Cross River Rail venture. The questions remain of how and when that would happen.

Brisbane_Live_Arena6001.jpgRendering of the interior of the proposed 17,000-seat arena at Brisbane Live.

Judith Mair, senior lecturer in event management in the Tourism Discipline of the University of Queensland Business School, said Brisbane Live has clear potential benefits for the region.

“It will be a significant asset to the tourism and events portfolio for the city, and I’m sure it will attract big names in terms of events and performers, so it will bring large volumes of visitors,” Mair said. “Of course, this will have a positive economic impact in terms of increased visitor spend. The venue will also create permanent full-time employment as well as a range of part-time and casual work.”

Mair said the ambitious nature of Brisbane Live aligns with the city’s evolution and the tourism and marketing goals of the city’s leaders and advocates.

“The tourism authorities are working to change the destination image of Brisbane,” Mair said. “Over the past decade or so, the city has gone from a relatively unknown city to a recognized global destination. This sort of new venue will certainly help to raise the profile of Brisbane, particularly in relation to events, and will contribute to and complement the existing visitor attractions in Brisbane. Melbourne and Sydney, both of which are well known for their event portfolios, are Brisbane’s key Australian competitors, and so it is not surprising that Brisbane should be following an events-led approach.”

Trad said the Labor government would be developing a master plan for the area and turning to community members, business representatives and developers for input for the future of the area. Mair said a strength of the Brisbane Live project is that it represents a collaborative approach, involving a number of interested parties.   

“I think that the project is very important for Brisbane, as it will bring together a range of different stakeholders into one integrated destination, something which we do not currently have,” Mair said.

In addition, Mair said, the project’s planning does not appear to be in a vacuum. Instead, it is linked to other projects and other city goals, particularly new transportation infrastructure advances. She said that approach helps Brisbane Live stand out from other similar projects.

“The state government is working to improve the public transport around the city and the Brisbane Live venue is closely connected with these infrastructure developments,” Mair said. “Rather than just being a development centered on leisure, the plan is for this to be part of a larger strategic plan for the city, which seems like a positive step in city planning.”

Mair said projects such as Brisbane Live do not necessarily mean benefits will extend to the entire city, of course.

“As is often the case, I am unsure as to how equally the benefits will be shared among the residents of Brisbane, who will be the ones dealing with increased traffic, noise and congestion,” Mair said.

AEG Ogden first submitted a Brisbane Live plan to the Queensland government approximately two years ago. In the government’s press release, Lister voiced support for the marriage of the planning for the two projects.

“As a proud Queensland company and as part of the world’s leading entertainment, sport and venue management organization, AEG, we look forward to bringing our global expertise to the table to make Brisbane Live and Cross River Rail happen in partnership,” Lister said.

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X-ray Touring's Steve Strange: Lil Peep A ‘Tremendous Talent’
Posted: 16 Nov 2017, 9:41 am
Update: X-ray Touring?s Steve Strange, who represented rising rapper Lil Peep in the UK, tells Pollstar the 21-year-old "was on the cusp of exploding globally."

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Independent Promoter Politics Dissected
Posted: 16 Nov 2017, 12:00 am

Jim Cressman, Invictus Entertainment; Dave Brooks, Billboard; Darin Lashinsky, National Shows 2; Danielle Maderia, Another Planet; Eric Milhouse, Nederlander Concerts; and Darren Pfeffer, MSG Live, were on the Promoter Poltics panel at Billboard Touring Conference and Awards, Nov. 15.

REPORTING FROM BEVERLY HILLS, CALIF. — Independent promoters are always looking for vendors and opportunities. They don’t live and die by quarterly earnings reports; they don’t have boards to please and layer upon layer of upper management to go through to make a company decision.

A panel of top independent promoters shared their insight, ups and downs, and best practices at Billboard Touring Conference and Awards, Nov. 15 at Montage Hotel here.

“We need true partners, and we want to book shows,” said Darin Lashinsky, National Shows 2.

“If you want someone chasing the market and articulating the benefits of your building, you need to book with an independent promoter,” said Jim Cressman, founder and president, Invictus Entertainment Group. “We’re going to share the wins and the losses together.” He also stressed that he needs a venue to “show me if you want to be in business with me on the macro or on the micro.”

Cressman said it’s a fine dance that needs to be played out between promoter and venue, and he’s let buildings “beat me up on settlements and lose the battle so I can win the war six months later.”

Eric Milhouse, director of talent, Nederlander Concerts, said that being an independent promoter means “getting the word out no matter what you have to do.”

“The mindset is ‘do it yourself,’” he said. “We don’t often have big teams. If something needs to be done it’s not ‘call someone else,’ it’s roll up your sleeves and solve the problem.”

Danielle Maderia, VP, Another Planet, said that “not having to answer to Wall Street” was the biggest perk of being an independent. “When you answer to numbers, you can’t take a sharp left turn at the last moment when things are going in a bad direction; we can.”

“My partners and I can get on a phone call and make an instant decision; big promoters can’t do that,” said Lashinsky.

On the downside, Cressman said independent promoters have personal accountability and can’t throw blame for bad decisions sideways.

As with any group, there are a number of independent promoters, many in the festival space, who are bringing down the group as a whole with shady deals and canceled events.

“The bad promoters make the rest of us look good,” said Maderia.

“It’s lack of experience,” said Milhouse.

Maderia said “throwing money at something is often not a sustainable model” as she
discussed the ever-increasing high fees that artists are demanding— and getting — for playing festivals. “The overpaying is out-of-control. Agents need to understand that if a festival is willing to pay an outrageous fee, the artist will expect that fee at every festival and will eventually price themselves out of the market.”

On the positive side, festivals are a great place for independents to look for talent who will be in the area. “Find out their radius clause and book right on the border,” said Lashinsky.

Cancellations by an artist are a problem for promoters big and small. “The promoter takes the brunt of the hit,” said Milhouse. “There’s not much you can do about it.”

The recent flood of sexual harassment charges against high-powered industry players was also heavily discussed.

“We’ve got to teach kids from the get-go how to treat people and create safe environments,” said Milhouse. “We have to be better as human beings to women, to anyone who’s been slighted, and anyone who has been harmed.”

“It’s the imbalance of power,” said Maderia. “We’re seeing an underbelly now, but it’s been going on a long time.”

The discussion turned to what’s currently working in live touring in 2017.  Lashinsky said that rock, hip-hop and country were strong as well as “anything in Nashville.”

Milhouse agreed that hip-hop was strong but felt that the genre had challenges from the artists to the managers to the fans. He also cited touring smash “Hamilton” as particularly big in 2017.

Maderia said that Electronic Dance Music (EDM) was selling a lot of tickets. Cressman said that legacy equity acts, whether it’s metal, rock or country, all were doing great business in Canada.



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Ice-T Honestly
Posted: 15 Nov 2017, 6:00 pm

Beverly Keel, chair and professor at Middle Tennessee State University’s Department of Record Industry,  Murfreesboro, Tenn., interviewing Ice-T. (VT Photo)

REPORTIG FROM NASHVILLE — Musician, rapper, songwriter, actor and record producer and executive Ice-T said he feels rap is turning back to the time when the disco beat was more important than the message.

"There are still some out there with a message and there is still a market for the message," he said, while being interviewed on stage during the International Entertainment Buyers Association 2017 Conference, held in Nashville, Oct. 15-17. He was interviewed by Beverly Keel, chair of Middle Tennessee State University's Department of Recording Industry.

Ice-T, 59, a.k.a. Tracy Marrow, told the large audience of IEBA attendees about his early days as a rapper and some of those challenges, such as taking the band on the road.

"They had never seen poor white people," Ice-T said. "We would be on a bus and they would look out at the land going by and they couldn't believe there was that much space. They would fight over a block in the neighborhood."

He told how he and his band distinguished between a "real" promoter and not the real thing once they began traveling more. He said if they were picked up at the airport by the promoter in his car and made stops on the way to the performance location, such as to "drop something off at Mom's," they knew they hadn't been hired by the real thing.

He told about a date at a location in South America. They were picked up at the airport by a man who, to Ice-T, seemed to be spending too much time checking out the surroundings.

The band loaded into the guy's vehicle and headed away from the airport. When they saw a road block at a check-point up ahead, the driver suddenly turned and took them off-road, saying only, "I can't go through the road check point."

They played that night in a large tent for 5,000 people, in the middle of nowhere. At one point, someone stood up on stage and shot an AK-47 into the air.

"I thought, man, these guys are for real," he said. 

Ice figured they hadn't gotten all the important information from the person that had booked them for that particular performance. That person forgot to mention they would be playing for a group with ties to the Basque terrorist group, which emerged in the wake of a brutal crackdown by the Spanish dictator Gen. Francisco Franco against Basque language and culture in the 1950s.

Ice-T's legacy dates back to the very beginnings of West Coast hip-hop. For him, it was during a time of gang bangers. His life consisted of stealing and selling weed and, he said, making rhymes for the Crips to avoid trouble.

He joined the army for a stint, and that was where he found mix tapes of Grandmaster Flash, a.k.a. Joseph Saddler, a Bajan-American hip-hop recording artist and DJ.  After coming home from the army, he rapped in the clubs at night and worked for crews stealing jewelry during the day.

One night after a gig, Ice-T fell asleep at the wheel and suffered a serious car accident resulting in a 10-week stay in a veteran's hospital.  During that stay, he had only one visitor. He realized he was not very well liked, and that realization led to a commitment to change.

He released his first record "Reckless" and was cast in the movie "Breakin’" in the early 1980s. That recognition brought on a contract with Warner Bros.  His first major label release was the gold-seller "Rhyme Pays."

In 1988, he penned the title track to the movie "Colors." That brought him national acclaim.
"Power," the best selling album of his career, followed soon after.  His 1991 O.G. Original Gangster is widely considered Ice-T’s greatest album.  Ice-T and his band Body Count played Lollapalooza that year, at a time when few white kids would go to see an Ice-T concert.

Ice-T was mired in controversy at times.  For example, one month after Body Count released the song “Cop Killer” in 1992, a jury handed down the Rodney King not-guilty verdict and the city of Los Angeles exploded in protest.

The song infuriated authorities. President George H. W. Bush and Vice President Dan Quayle condemned it and the band, and there was monumental pressure on Warner Bros./Time Warner to pull the song. The band was threatened with arrest if they performed “Cop Killer” live.

Four months after its release, “Cop Killer” was removed from the Body Count album at Ice-T’s request.

“I’ve always tried to rhyme from an honest, truthful point," he said.  "You have the right to say anything, but be prepared for what that might bring back to you. If I want a problem, then I’m good with it because I asked for it. But this wasn’t that. That song wasn’t a call to arms. It was just a song.”

As Ice was making headlines, his film and television career was taking off, with roles in New Jack City, Ricochet, and Johnny Mnemonic and the beginnings of a flourishing television career.

Today, Ice-T is in his 19th season starring as “Detective Fin Tutuola” in NBC’s Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, the fourth-longest-running scripted primetime TV series in the U.S.

In 2012, he produced and directed the acclaimed documentary "Something from Nothing: The Art of Rap," which was an official selection for the Sundance Film Festival.

Earlier this year, Body Count released the powerful track “No Lives Matter” from its sixth studio album "Bloodlust. ”

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Hot Tickets for November 16, 2017
Posted: 15 Nov 2017, 6:00 pm

Elton John and his famous red piano played Wiltern Theater, Los Angeles, for a SirusXM Town Hall.

Elton John has recently announced that he will be touring less and less as the 70-year-old musician wants to spend more time with his children. With only six cities in his regional tour, he took top honors on our Hot Tickets chart this week with a stop at Ford Center, Evansville, Ind., Nov. 11, grossing over $1 million. The 10,000 fans in attendance were treated to all of John’s classic tunes along with a few of his newer songs.

The world-renowned singer also showed up on our chart with his Las Vegas residency at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace. The 14 appearances on Oct. 11 – Nov. 4 grossed nearly $10 million with 58,500 fans in attendance. John has also announced that, in sync with his personal decision to down scale his tour, he has also decided to end The Million Dollar Piano residency; he has announced the final 14 shows will occur in the spring of 2018.

With Kenny Rogers’ The Gambler’s Last Deal tour wrapping up next month, the All In For The Gambler: Kenny Rogers Farewell Concert at Bridgestone Arena, Nashville, Tenn., was a fitting tribute to the retirement of an iconic singer whose career stretches 60 years. The sold-out event grossed $1.3 million with 15,000 concertgoers who enjoyed the more than 20 artists who took the stage to honor Rogers including: Kris Kristofferson, Lady Antebellum, Chris Stapleton, Lionel Richie, and the incomparable Dolly Parton. Rogers and Parton wanted to go out like rock stars and ended the evening with a mic drop after their final performance together.


HOT TICKETS is a weekly summary of the top acts and ticket sales as reported to VT PULSE. Following are the top 20 concerts and events, the top 5 in each seating capacity category, which took place between Oct. 17-Nov. 14.

15,001 or More Seats

10,001-15,000 Seats

5,001-10,000 Seats

5,000 or Fewer Seats

1) Professional Bull Riders
Gross Sales: $6,572,590; Venue: T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas; Attendance: 62,388; Ticket Range: $1,096-$45.24; Promoter: Professional Bull Riders; Dates: Nov. 1-5; No. of Shows: 5

2) Bruno Mars
Gross Sales: $1,726,867; Venue: Oracle Arena, Oakland, Calif.; Attendance: 15,579; Ticket Range: $150-$47.14; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Nov. 3; No. of Shows: 1

3) All In For The Gambler: Kenny Rogers Farewell Concert
Gross Sales: $1,317,866; Venue: Bridgestone Arena, Nashville, Tenn.; Attendance: 15,530; Ticket Range: $299.50-$49.50; Promoter: Outback Concerts; Dates: Oct. 25; No. of Shows: 1

4) Enrique Iglesias, Pitbull
Gross Sales: $1,292,558; Venue: Honda Center, Anaheim, Calif.; Attendance: 12,124; Ticket Range: $199.95-$39.95; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Oct. 21; No. of Shows: 1

5) Red Hot Chili Peppers
Gross Sales: $1,273,486; Venue: Gila River Arena, Glendale, Ariz.; Attendance: 13,343; Ticket Range: $103.75-$53.75; Promoter: Frank Productions, AEG Presents; Dates: Oct. 18; No. of Shows: 1

1) Elton John
Gross Sales: $1,058,660; Venue: Ford Center, Evansville, Ind.; Attendance: 10,319; Ticket Range: $159.50-$29.50; Promoter: Frank Productions, AEG Presents, NS2; Dates: Nov. 11; No. of Shows: 1

2) Midnight Oil
Gross Sales: $1,040,629; Venue: Perth (Australia) Arena; Attendance: 13,309; Ticket Range: $110.89-$64.26; Promoter: Frontier Touring ; Dates: Oct. 28; No. of Shows: 1

3) Stevie Nicks, The Pretenders
Gross Sales: $903,972; Venue: Perth (Australia) Arena; Attendance: 9,316; Ticket Range: $157.52-$79.79; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Nov. 2; No. of Shows: 1

4) Thomas Rhett
Gross Sales: $410,928; Venue: Intrust Bank Arena, Wichita, Kan.; Attendance: 8,869; Ticket Range: $71.50-$27; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Oct. 20; No. of Shows: 1

5) Michigan State vs. University of Georgia Exhibition Charity Game
Gross Sales: $343,790; Venue: Van Andel Arena, Grand Rapids, Mich.; Attendance: 10,471; Ticket Range: $250-$17.50; Promoter: Michigan State University Athletics; Dates: Oct. 29; No. of Shows: 1

1) Britney Spears
Gross Sales: $2,148,989; Venue: The Axis at Planet Hollywood, Las Vegas; Attendance: 12,600; Ticket Range: $495-$54; Promoter: Caesars Entertainment; Dates: Oct. 18-21; No. of Shows: 3

2) Britney Spears
Gross Sales: $1,908,384; Venue: The Axis at Planet Hollywood, Las Vegas; Attendance: 11,842; Ticket Range: $495-$54; Promoter: Caesars Entertainment; Dates: Oct. 25-28; No. of Shows: 3

3) Imagine Dragons
Gross Sales: $716,795; Venue: Mohegan Sun Arena, Uncasville, Conn.; Attendance: 7,257; Ticket Range: $105-$65; Promoter: Paradigm, In-house; Dates: Nov. 4; No. of Shows: 1

4) Ana Gabriel
Gross Sales: $699,695; Venue: The Theater at Madison Square Garden, New York; Attendance: 5,398; Ticket Range: $205-$65; Promoter: NYK Productions; Dates: Oct. 29; No. of Shows: 1

5) Khalid
Gross Sales: $500,487; Venue: Hordern Pavilion, Sydney; Attendance: 10,872; Ticket Range: $53.35; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Nov. 7-8; No. of Shows: 2

1) Elton John
Gross Sales: $9,686,250; Venue: The Colosseum at Caesars Palace, Las Vegas; Attendance: 58,496; Ticket Range: $500-$55; Promoter: AEG Presents, Caesars Entertainment; Dates: Oct. 11-Nov. 4; No. of Shows: 14

2) The King and I
Gross Sales: $1,249,053; Venue: The Smith Center for the Performing Arts, Las Vegas; Attendance: 15,613; Ticket Range: $123-$32; Promoter: In-house; Dates: Oct. 25-29; No. of Shows: 8

3) Love Never Dies
Gross Sales: $1,225,273; Venue: Durham (N.C.) Performing Arts Center; Attendance: 20,910; Ticket Range: $160.50-$20; Promoter: PFM, Nederlander Presentations (New York), LND On Tour; Dates: Oct. 30-Nov. 5; No. of Shows: 8

4) Finding Neverland
Gross Sales: $1,191,106; Venue: Orpheum Theatre, Minneapolis; Attendance: 18,242; Ticket Range: $135-$21; Promoter: Hennepin Theatre Trust, Broadway Across America; Dates: Oct. 31-Nov. 5; No. of Shows: 8

5) On Your Feet
Gross Sales: $1,160,370; Venue: David A. Straz, Jr. Center for the Performing Arts, Tampa, Fla.; Attendance: 16,661; Ticket Range: $116.25-$14.75; Promoter: In-house; Dates: Oct. 24-29; No. of Shows: 8

The Weekly Hot Tickets chart is compiled by Monique Potter. To submit reports, e-mail or fax to (714) 378-0040.


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Top 7 NBA Tech Storylines To Watch in 2017-18
Posted: 15 Nov 2017, 3:00 pm

Nike's NBA NikeConnect system integrates tech into team jerseys.

(Editor's note: This story first appeared in

Keep your eye on these tech innovations in the National Basketball Association (NBA).

The NBA is one of the most tech-forward major leagues in the world, having long been considered one of the most experimental with new technologies such as virtual reality and mobile-based fan engagement.

The 2017-18 season will continue to shape the league’s innovation efforts. Here are seven important technology storylines to keep an eye on this NBA season.

1. Augmented Reality Experience

The NBA is the first U.S. sports league to launch an augmented reality game for fans. Through an iOS app, called NBA AR, fans at games can play virtual pop-a-shot, where they use their iPhones to flick a digital ball into a basket.

The game can work in arenas during games but also out in the world, where fans can find digital renderings of official NBA baskets nearly anywhere at anytime. The NBA says this is just the start, with plans to launch more augmented reality games and experiences later this season.

2. Virtual Reality Streaming

After streaming one weekly regular season NBA League Pass game in virtual reality last season through a partnership with NextVR and then creating virtual reality highlights of the NBA Finals, the league will expand its virtual viewing options this season.

Through NextVR, 27 live games featuring all 30 NBA teams will be professionally produced for virtual reality.

Separately, every NBA League Pass game this season will be available for subscribers to watch on a virtual big screen through the NextVR Screening Room.

While the League Pass games won’t be produced specifically for a virtual reality broadcast as the 27 live games will be, fans will be able to immerse themselves in a 360-degree environment and choose up to 13 games to stream per game night.

3. NBA 2K Esports League

The NBA 2K esports league is slated to begin in 2018 with 17 participating teams, including last year’s champions, the Golden State Warriors and also the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The league will be operated in partnership with video game-maker Take-Two Interactive Software. The competitive league will feature the top 85 NBA 2K gamers in the world.

4. Connected Uniforms

Through a new eight-year deal  between the NBA and Nike that will see Nike as the exclusive apparel maker for the NBA, basketball jerseys this year will get an upgrade.

On an introductory level, the Nike logo will now be placed on every team’s jersey. This also will include technologies that could open up a new world of smart and connected jerseys. To start, an NFC chip will be located in the bottom left corner of jerseys that customers can purchase, which will unlock a host of player data for fans on their phones.

Nike and the NBA will also debut the Nike Therma Flex Showtime Warm-up Jacket with fabrics that help to maintain an athlete’s optimal body temperature during warm-up.

And this season marks the first time the league has shared branding on the coveted real estate of a uniform. The league is allowing brands to partner with teams on sponsorship deals and include their logos on jerseys, such as the partnership between Fitbit and the Minnesota Timberwolves.

5. NBAmojis & Alexa

In the never-ending quest to better engage fans, new technologies will launch this season that will make it easier for fans to access information about their favorite players and teams while showcasing their support.

The connected jerseys are a major step in this direction, but a partnership with Amazon also promises to deliver information to fans with voice commands given through Echo for all 30 teams. Alexa can also provide general information like players’ career and season stats, team records and starting lineups.

This season will see more NBA emojis added to the Google keyboard for Android. Developed in partnership with YinzCam, the NBAmoji App first debuted during the 2016 NBA Finals. Since then, hundreds of emojis representing the league, teams and players have been added. 

6. Wearables

With mobile technology and wearables continuing to creep their way into athletic training programs, the use of wearables during practice and games and the privacy surrounding the data collected from those wearables will continue to be up for debate this season.

The National Basketball Players Association and NBA struck a new collective bargaining agreement that went into effect this summer, limiting how teams can access and use data collected about a player from their wearable devices. One of the big takeaways was that data collected from wearable devices worn during practices couldn’t be used for or against players during contract negotiations.

For now, wearables still won’t be allowed on players during games.

7. Sportradar Takes Off

This will be the first season that the deal to track player data, struck between the NBA, Sportradar and Second Spectrum will officially kick off.

Sportradar’s six-year multifaceted data distribution partnership with the NBA makes it the “official provider of real-time NBA league statistics.” The sports data company will provide league data worldwide to media outlets, broadcasters, fans and betting houses in Europe, where sports gambling is legal.

Much of that will include coming up with new ways to visualize that data to engage fans, as well as an analyzation of data to spot broader trends that could aid in player performance.

Last week, Sportradar announced an acquisition of Mocap Analytics, which, best known for its five-year relationship with the Warriors, will give it the artificial intelligence needed to analyze player data and tell better stories.

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Reno and Dembrowski Leave Mississippi Positions
Posted: 13 Nov 2017, 7:00 pm

RickReno_200x145_taupebkg.jpgRick Reno.

Mississippi Fair Commission Executive Director Rick Reno and Assistant Executive Director Peter Dembowski have been let go from their respective positions.

Reno became executive director of the Fair Commission in 2014, succeeding longtime executive director Billy Orr.

Significantly reduced attendance was cited by Agricultural Commissioner Cindy Hyde-Smith as the reason the pair were being replaced.

Reno is a certified facilities executive recognized by International Association of Venue Managers (IAVM), has more than 40 years of experience. He previously was executive director at VenuWorks, Dodge City, Kans., and managed venues in Oregon, North Carolina, Kentucky and Virginia.

Dembowski also worked at VenuWorks, where he was IT manager. He previously was a technical consultant at Alorica, Greenville, S.C., and handled ticket operations for Greenville (S.C.) Road Warriors.


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Posted: 10 Nov 2017, 7:45 pm

ChefCarmenCallo300x300.jpgWhen chef Carmen Callo and his team at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver opened Blue Bear Farm—a large scale, on-site urban garden with over 5,000 square feet of growing space—they were eager to show off the fruits (and veggies) of their labor. Fortunately, a client who was also excited about the project encouraged them to create a dish that showcased the farm’s fresh flavors.
“The challenge was that they wanted to create a farm-to-table feeling in November,” Callo explained. “So what we did was think about the farm and … the fresh tomatoes growing, and fresh basil. Caprese salad resulted from this natural thought process.”
The Fall Caprese Salad, as they named the dish, was a twist on the traditional Italian staple. Using tomatoes from the farm that had been harvested at their peak and then roasted and canned, Callo made a tomato confit and folded it into an herb and cheese polenta cake, made in-house from polenta, vegetable stock, and a number of fresh ingredients including shallots, garlic, thyme and basil.
“All of this was constructed at an action station, so we served the polenta cake warm,” he added. “At the station we were also pulling fresh mozzarella. We would top the cake with the fresh mozzarella and torch it to warm and brown it; then serve that with some extra-virgin olive oil ‘caviar’—or little capsules of extra-virgin olive oil.”
The plates were also adorned with house-made basil oil and a 25-year balsamic vinegar, topped with fresh micro greens that the team was able to grow indoors.
Guests who stopped by the action station could quickly take plates of the Fall Caprese Salad on their way, or stand in awe at the chefs pulling mozzarella or torching the plates. The convention center also featured signage about the farm near the station.
“It went to rave reviews and we’ve served it multiple times since then,” said Callo.


In September, Centerplate named Carmen Callo Corporate Executive Chef, a role he takes on enthusiastically after almost 15 years playing a key role on the culinary team at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver.
Having made his mark leading the initiative to open Blue Bear Farm at the convention center in 2012, Callo has also worked events including Super Bowls, performances at the Denver Performing Arts Center and U.S. Presidential inaugural balls. He graduated summa cum laude from Johnson & Wales University, Denver, gaining experience at hotels and restaurants like downtown Chicago’s Signature Room at the 95th.
Today, he hopes to bring great perspective and balance from this wealth of experience to guide Centerplate’s venues in menu creation and delivery across North America. “I’m building upon the confidence I’ve acquired over the years of producing successful events, and continuing to showcase my dedication to our craft and the company’s goals,” he said. “Combining that [experience] with honesty and transparency, I’m hopeful that that will lead to continued success.”
Even after so many years with the same company, the chef says it never gets old. “Having this opportunity to come together and create these one-of-a-kind events for attendees who are flying in from all over, ‘wow-ing’ them, and creating a memory for them that’s tied to the food and our service—that’s the rewarding part,” Callo said.


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Posted: 10 Nov 2017, 7:35 pm

Patrick_Leahy_300x300.jpgPATRICK LEAHY
HOMETOWN: Cincinnati.
UNIVERSITY: University of Cincinnati.
FIRST JOB IN THE INDUSTRY: Cleaning the costume shop at Paramount Parks Attractions.
HOW DID YOU GET YOUR CURRENT JOB: The center was looking to fill a void and I was in the area.
YOUR FAVORITE PART OF THE JOB: The promoter side of the business; the creative side.
MENTORS: Jules Belkin and Dave Lucas.
FREE TIME PURSUITS: Brew beer at home.
BIGGEST PET PEEVE: People that say,  ‘we’ve always done it this way.’
TOP SONG ON YOUR PLAYLIST RIGHT NOW: “Letter From Home” by Pat Metheny
BEST ADVICE EVER RECEIVED: Two things can never be taken away from you: your word and your character.
FAVORITE LIVE EVENT ATTENDED: Rolling Stones Steel Wheels tour in Cincinnati and Louisville (Ky.).

Keith_Goldberg_300x3001.jpgKEITH GOLDBERG
HOMETOWN: Marlboro, N.J.
UNIVERSITY: Univ. of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia.
FIRST JOB IN THE INDUSTRY: A roadie for the concert committee in college.
HOW DID YOU GET YOUR CURRENT JOB: I was consulting to a bunch of high tech firms in Silicon Valley. One of the CEO’s knew Mark (Tacchi, Vendini CEO) and I started consulting for the company. When a fulltime position opened up, I took it.
YOUR FAVORITE PART OF THE JOB: The people in the company and the industry.
FREE TIME PRUSUITS: Fly planes ands play poker.
BIGGEST PET PEEVE: People who drive in the left lane.
ONE-DAY ESCAPE: A Caribbean Island.
TOP SONG ON YOUR PLAYLIST RIGHT NOW: “Blinded By The Light” by Bruce Springsteen.
WHAT WOULD PEOPLE BE SURPRISED TO LEARN ABOUT YOU: I was the body double for Billy Dee Williams in a movie called “Driving Me Crazy.”
BIGGEST GUILTY PLEASURE: Watching reality shows.
FAVORITE LIVE EVENT ATTENDED: Bruce Springsteen at the opening of the Meadowlands, East Rutherford, N.J. (now MetLife Stadium) in 1982.

Jesse_Fayne_300x300.jpgJESSE FAYNE
HOMETOWN: Annapolis, Md.
UNIVERSITY: University of South Carolina, Columbia.
FIRST JOB IN THE INDUSTRY: Show Runner at a venue in Baltimore.
HOW DID YOU GET YOUR CURRENT JOB: One of my mentors introduced me to Marc Geiger at Pollstar Live in L.A.  I met with Marc at a roundtable discussion and asked him to hire me.  The rest is history.
YOUR FAVORITE PART OF THE JOB: Being part of a global team that’s building an artist’s career.
BIGGEST PET PEEVE:  When people don’t know how to walk correctly on the sidewalk.
ONE-DAY ESCAPE:  Los Angeles.
WHAT WOULD PEOPLE BE SURPRISED TO LEARN ABOUT YOU: I used to be a sponsored professional computer gamer.
BEST ADVICE YOU'VE EVER RECEIVED: Internship, internship, internship; do one thing that makes you uncomfortable every day; listen to your mother; balance; pick up the phone; patience.
Protein bars.

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Posted: 10 Nov 2017, 7:00 pm

Ayrton has announced the appointment of Zane Cretten as regional sales manager, with responsibility for sales across Africa and the Middle East. Cretten brings 11 years experience and previously worked with major global brands including High End, Barco, Pandora’s Box, d3, CreateLED, Wings and Caliber.

Cincinnati USA Convention & Visitors Bureau has announced the creation of a new sales team. The new multicultural sales and development team includes Jason Dunn, VP; Tamara Whiting, director; Kariuki Epps, national manager and Alexis Thomas, coordinator.

Jimmy Earl, CFE, has been named senior associate athletics director of the Frank Erwin Center, Austin. In addition to his experience at the center, Earl was the manager of the Fort Worth/Tarrant County (Texas) Convention Center from 1987-1990. He is also a past president of the International Association of Venue Managers (IAVM). He is a 1993 graduate of the Public Assembly Facility Management School at Oglebay, attained the Certified Facilities Executive (CFE) designation in 1995 and attended the Senior Executive Symposium at Cornell, Ithaca New West Conference, N.Y., in 1997.

Mike Elliott has joined Sound Space Vision (SSV) as a director. Elliott has been with the company since 2008 as project manager. He is currently leading the SSV team on the refurbishment of Fairfield Halls, Croydon, U.K., and a new space for Nevill Holt Opera, Market Harborough, U.K. Elliott studied theatre design at Nottingham Trent University, U.K., and also holds a Masters degree in theatre consultancy from the University of Warwick, U.K.

Oak View Group (OVG) has named veteran music industry journalist Andy Gensler as executive editor of its media & conferences division. He will be based out of OVG’s Los Angeles offices and report directly to Ray Waddell, the company’s president, media & conferences, with whom he will formulate and execute editorial strategy for the firm’s media holdings, which include Pollstar and Venues Today. Gensler previously worked as an editor and writer at, where he's covered the music business. Previously, Gensler's varied career included working for the New York Times T-Style Magazine, and Spin. He has written for many publications, including The Village Voice, Rolling Stone and the New York Times, among others.

Christopher Jeffery has been named an account administrator at New Day Underwriting Managers. Prior to New Day, Jeffrey served as an intern at McConkey & Co. Insurance & Benefits in York, Pa. He holds a bachelor of science in management from York College of Pennsylvania.

Grant Jones has returned to Intrust Bank Arena, Wichita, Kan., as operations manager. Jones previously served as operations supervisor prior to accepting an opportunity with Wichita Sports Forum in late 2016. Jones will now manage and oversee the operations team with their daily duties and event changeovers. Sierra Franklin has been promoted to box office manager for Select-A-Seat. Prior to this, Franklin served as ticket specialist in the Select-A-Seat box office. Josh Hiatt and Tyler Maier were both promoted to operations supervisors within the operations department. Hiatt and Maier were previously members of the crew on a part time basis. In the operations department, Mario De La Torre has been hired as maintenance technician to assist with preventative maintenance and repairs to the arena’s equipment. Additionally, Jared Johnson has been hired as the payroll and purchasing accountant within the finance department. Johnson held a ticket specialist title in the Select-A-Seat box office.

Ontario (Calif.) Convention Center has announced the hiring of new GM Shannon Perry. Perry has 18 years of event planning and facility oversight experience with two national companies: Westwood One Radio Network and SMG Worldwide Venue Management. She has also served on the board of directors for Hampton’s Healthy Families Inc.

Atlanta’s Fox Theatre has hired Lucy Lawler-Freas as director of programming. Lawler-Freas has over 20 years of experience in booking talent and executing events. Previously, Lawler-Freas served as a talent buyer for House of Blues Concerts Club Network for three years and Concert/Southern Promotions (now Live Nation) for over four years, where she booked Music Midtown’s productions from 1998 to 2001. In 2004, she started Rival Entertainment, with her partner Josh Antenucci.

Ticket industry veteran Fred Maglione is leaving TopTix SeatGeek and re-launching his consulting practice. Maglione has over 40 years' experience working with various organizations in the live sports and entertainment business. In addition to TopTix, Maglione is the former CEO of Comcast Spectacor subsidiary New Era Tickets and FanOne Marketing, and held senior management roles, both domestically and internationally, with, Select Technologies, Globe Information Systems and the Philadelphia 76ers.

The Boch Center, Boston, has appointed Jules Manning VP & managing director of booking. Previously, Manning managed programming and artist relations for the Madison Square Garden Company’s venues that include New York City’s Beacon Theatre, Radio City Music Hall, The Theater at Madison Square Garden and Wang Theatre, Boston. Prior to working for the Madison Square Garden Company, Manning worked at Sony Music in both the College Marketing and Columbia Records Marketing Department.
After nearly 29 years at Comcast Spectacor, Ike Richman,
the company’s vice president, PR, is creating Ike Richman Communications to assist professional sports teams and owners, arenas and stadiums, concert promoters and family shows with generating PR content. Comcast Spectacor will become his first client.

The International Code Council (ICC) has named Kelly D. Sadler, J.D., as its new government relations regional manager for Arkansas, Oklahoma and Texas.  Previously, Sadler served as a lobbyist and government relations manager for the Texas Masonry Council and managed the office of employer initiatives for the Texas Workforce Commission. In addition, she served as a budget, planning and policy advisor to former Texas Governor Rick Perry. Additionally, Sadler worked as a briefing attorney to the Honorable Paul Green in the Fourth District Court of Appeals and authored civil and criminal appellate opinions for 32 Texas counties. Sadler graduated cum laude with a B.A. from the University of Texas, Austin. She received her J.D. from the University of Texas at Austin School of Law.

Delaware North, owner and operator of TD Garden, Boston, has hired Timothy Townsell
as GM of Massachusetts Sportservice at TD Garden, Delaware North’s food, beverage, and retail provider for the arena. Most recently, Townsell worked for Levy Restaurants where he served as the GM at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center. Townsell earned his bachelors of science degree in hotel administration from Cornell University, N.Y. Richard Teahan has been named as TD Garden’s director of security. Teahan, a 26-year veteran of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, most recently served an FBI supervisory special agent. Teahan earned his Master of military studies degree from U.S. Marine Corps War College, Quantico, Va., and his bachelor of science degree in government from Suffolk University, Boston.

The Erie County Agricultural Society (ECAS), sponsors of the Erie County Fair, Hamburg, N.Y., has named Jessica Underberg as its new chief executive officer and fair manager. Underberg has served as assistant fair manager since 2010.

The Madison Square Garden Company (MSG) has announced that Josephine Vaccarello has been promoted to senior vice president, MSG Live, after serving most recently as vice president, concerts, family entertainment and ticketing, MSG Live. Vaccarello joined the company under Radio City Entertainment in 1998 and transitioned in 2000 to the position of coordinator, concerts and entertainment and has elevated in the department from manager to director to vice president.  She is a graduate of State University New York, Albany, with a bachelor’s degree in communications.


CARLSON — A girl, Lucy Bradley Carlson, born Oct. 10 in Los Angeles to Jennifer Young and Brad Carlson. Grandfather is Ken Young, founder of Ovations Food Services, which became Spectra Food and Hospitality, and owner of five minor league baseball teams.


MERTON BARR — 81, employed for 35 years by Veterans Memorial Auditorium, Culver City, Calif., in Peoria, Ill., Sept. 11. Barr is survived by his wife of 61 years, L. Louise (Erdman) Barr; three children, David (Bernita) Barr of Alleman, Stephen (Beth) Barr of Webster Groves, MO, and Susan (Greg) Lynch of Clive; seven grandchildren, Jacob, Brandon, and Emily Barr, Madeline and Anna Barr, and Katelyn and Isabelle Lynch; brothers-in-law, Richard Dalbey and Wayne (Nancy) Erdman of Waukee; sister-in-law, Donna (Erdman) Adamson of West Des Moines; and many cousins, nieces, and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents; sister, Margaret Dalbey; and brother-in-law, Edward Adamson.

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Posted: 10 Nov 2017, 6:00 pm

El_Jefe_Juanchos.jpgThe jury is out, and the flavorful, zesty and highly-sought-after “Juanchos” served at Golden 1 Center in Sacramento, Calif., won Venues Today’s Best New Menu Item category in Silver Spoons 2017.
“They are very unique, with a nice take on the American favorite — nachos,” said John Rinehart president of business operations of the Sacramento Kings. He highlighted that the unique menu item completely steers away from the processed cheese concept that’s offered at many other arenas.
“Although they’re nachos, you don’t have the canned cheese that’s heated up. This is fresh-made cheese, fresh-made chips,” Rinehart said.
Created by Legends Executive Chef Santana Diaz, the Juanchos are created from locally farmed food, which is a key focus of the arena that just celebrated its one-year anniversary on Oct. 4.
“When we were building the arena, we wanted to make it about Sacramento. A lot of things about the arena were locally focused. We thought we had a unique opportunity because of where we are located… next to farms with great food. We have wine and craft beer,” he said. “We had an opportunity to participate with that farm to fork system.”
When the arena was choosing its food vendor, those philosophies were important to the Kings.
“We made it really clear that that was going to be important to us, to honor that charter we wanted to put together,” Rinehart said. “Legends really embraced that. They shared our vision and in what we feel is a changing way to provide food and beverage to our fans.”
Thus, the award-winning Juanchos was born.
The Juanchos include a four cheese blend crafted from Petaluma creamery (70 miles away), a 50/50 blend of Casa Sanchez purple quinoa/blue corn totopos and white corn organic and GMO-free tortilla chips, house made guacamole, and slow roasted pulled pork carnitas sourced from nationally recognized Rancho Llano Seco (75 miles) — all of which left a lasting impression on the judges.
“Repurposed pork skins. Need I say more,” said judge Tammy Koolbeck, executive director of the Iowa State Center, Ames.
That’s right — repurposed pork skins add a flavorful punch to the arena’s version of nachos.
“During the carnitas process, pork skins would previously be discarded. But the culinary team led by Executive Chef Santana Diaz found an innovative use to enhance the flavor profile of the nachos at the arena. After the steam and fry process, the team has created airy, light chicharrones, or fried pork skins, that add a new flavor profile to the nachos,” stated the entry form for the Juanchos.
Juanchos are priced $13.


Venues Today caught up with Executive Chef Santana Diaz, creator of Golden 1 Center's Juanchos, our Best New Menu Item, for a Q&A about his award-winning creation.
VT: What inspired you to create Juanchos?
Diaz: Golden 1 Center’s VP of Arena Operations had challenged the kitchen team to find and create an item that embodied the Kings’, Legends’ and Golden 1 Center’s commitment to sustainability and local sourcing.
VT: Why is it important to use locally sourced food?
Diaz: Local sourcing lets us impact our community’s economy, reduce our carbon footprint, and set an example that quick, entertainment food can be high-quality, fresh and delicious. By deliberately spending our dollars in the region, we’re supporting the community that stands with us.
VT: How did you come up with the name?
Diaz: They were named after the venue’s first General Manager, Juan Rodriguez.
VT: What are your long-term goals for food offerings at Golden 1 Center?
Diaz: Sacramento is proud to be the farm-to-fork capital of the world. We want to reflect the values of the region — and many of the chefs in our region have created incredible menus with locally raised ingredients. We want to match that skill and menu curiosity with items that reflect the high-quality food we can access in our backyard.
VT: Locally sourcing food and reducing waste is becoming more and more popular. Why is it important to you, Legends and the Golden 1 Center?
Diaz: For us, it is about reflecting the values of Sacramento. We’re proud of our agricultural roots and how being environmentally conscious is part of your daily life. By being aware of our sources, the seasonal ingredients that we can take advantage of and so much more, we’re able to create a menu that is aware of the dietary needs of our guests, provides healthy alternatives to preserved food items, and creates a menu that a guest would find beyond the walls of the arena.

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Posted: 10 Nov 2017, 6:00 pm

Silver_Spoon_-_Chris_Zielinski.jpgAir Canada Centre, Toronto, and its restaurants are leaders in sustainable seafood offerings at venues in North America. It’s the only venue to date that has partnered with Ocean Wise — a global organization that aims to reshape the seafood industry.
That’s why the Toronto, Canada-based venue won this year’s Silver Spoon award for Best Sustainability Initiative.
“I think it’s an amazing award of which we’re extremely proud,” said Bob Hunter, the chief project development officer at Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment (MLSE), which operates Air Canada Centre. “We have worked on growing our sustainability effort for the last eight to 10 years, so we’re extremely happy about the award.”
According to the entry form for the Silver Spoon Award, “Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment and Air Canada Centre took a bold step toward seafood sustainability by partnering with Ocean Wise. Ocean Wise, in partnership with the Vancouver Aquarium, is a global organization that has been reshaping the seafood industry through lobbying, education and fact-finding for the past 12 years.”
Ocean Wise currently has 750 partners globally and thousands of committed purchasers. Air Canada Centre is the first and only professional sports arena to partner with Ocean Wise. “In all of MLSE’s Toronto venues, including Air Canada Centre, BMO Field, Ricoh Coliseum, Real Sports Bar & Grill and e11even Restaurant, we have made a commitment to source all of our seafood through traceable sustainable sources,” Hunter said.
The Culinary Director at MLSE, Chris Zielinski, said that fans in Toronto have sophisticated pallets, and it’s important to offer the very best to guests.
“The thing is, it’s not just important to me, it’s important to our fans,” he said.
Offering great sustainably-caught seafood was a challenge for MLSE over the years.
“It’s been a challenge to find suppliers that could give us the quantity we need for our venues,” Zielinski said, noting that MLSE purchases close to $150,000 a month in seafood alone.
MLSE has four a la carte restaurants within the Air Canada Centre arena and two stand-alone restaurants — all of which use seafood throughout the menus, he said.
“Most of our dining is at the premium level, so fish is a big part across the board,” Zielinski said.
Ocean Wise works to ensure oceans stay safe and certain fish aren’t at risk of endangerment.
“Overfishing is one of the biggest threats our oceans face today,” states the Ocean Wise website. “The Ocean Wise symbol next to a seafood item is our assurance of an ocean-friendly seafood choice. With over 700 Ocean Wise partners with thousands of locations across Canada, the Ocean Wise seafood program makes it easy for consumers to make sustainable seafood choices that ensure the health of our oceans for generations to come.”
Not only that, but the fish tastes better, Zielinski noted.
“Ocean Wise is the Vancouver Aquarium. They are people who are doing a lot of testing and studying on fishing stock and fishing supplies… throughout all the oceans throughout the world,” he said. “Some fish are good for catching right now and some are not.”
Zielinski pointed out how years ago, sea bass were wildly popular worldwide.
“They nearly caught all the sea bass,” he said. “That was the awakening of the Ocean Wise movement. We can’t just sell things to the end.”
Therefore, Ocean Wise identifies what fish and how many are good at particular times based on the number of fish available and the ecosystem. 
Sustainability doesn’t stop at just seafood for MLSE, Zielinski said.
“We sell some lake fish,” he said. “We do a lot of trout… a lot of pickerel (walleye),” he said.
MLSE has a fisherman in British Columbia who actually takes photos of fish he’s caught and sends them to Zielinski and his team, which is a fun story to tell guests, Zielinski said.
Additionally, Zielinski and his team hand pick the cows they use for beef offerings at MLSE venues.
The need for excellent, sustainable food is extremely competitive in Toronto.
“It’s a very vibrant, bustling city. It probably has more restaurants per capita than any other city in North America,” Zielinski said. “We’ve taken a stand on sustainability, and you’re seeing that around the city. It does make an impact. We’re very proud of what we do here.”

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Posted: 10 Nov 2017, 6:00 pm

IMG_9747.JPGMost venues, if not all, have strict procedures in place for ingress — hand wanding or metal detectors, bag checks and Vapor Wake bomb-sniffing dogs are now standard best practice at any large assembly. But in the aftermath of the worst mass shooting in U.S. history, perpetrated by a lone gunman from the 32nd floor of Mandalay Bay Hotel & Resort, Las Vegas, killing 59 and injuring more than 500 at the Route 91 Harvest music festival, protecting guests from outside forces has become the focus.
Shelly Greenberg, a professor at Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, in the department of public safety leadership, said the emotional reaction could “lead to calls for remedies that likely aren’t realistic and could waste millions of dollars.”
“It’s still a matter of proper planning, training and resourcing,” said Ben Tolle, co-founder, Prevent Advisors. “The way to mitigate risk is to do the basics well.”
“Loss of life and damage to property are reduced as a function of advanced analysis and planning,” he said. “These types of events are chaotic. A trained staff and well rehearsed response are critical to reducing loss. The ability to communicate effectively with guests, staff and first responders is of the utmost importance.”
“The philosophical view has not changed; that said we are a learning organization,” Tolle continued. “Specific to the Las Vegas event, there’s still much detail to consider. With that, I am confident much will be learned as well.”
Tolle said an excellent way for venues to protect themselves from threats outside the venue is through deliberate collaboration with all the buildings and stakeholders throughout the area.
“All venues are part of a broader ecosystem,” said Tolle. “Prior planning, coordination, sharing of information, training and rehearsals among all the relevant stakeholders is a very good way to diminish risk.”
There’s always risk associated with external factors and people outside the venue, he said. “While risk will always be present, we can work together to manage it.”
Despite the circumstances of the Vegas shooting, Tolle said that skyscrapers are not the biggest threat to venue security.
"It’s bad actors,” he said. “People need to be cognizant of that. The primary threats are nasty people — criminals, insider types or terrorists.  We are still working to reduce the impact of bad people. ”
The threats have always been present; the schematics may change but we have to use our resources accordingly, he said.
Tolle said that the biggest changes to the venue industry that he foresees following Vegas are that “I expect artists will be more aware of the level of safety and security measures present in the sites they play."
“Productions will be more inquisitive about the policies and procedures that are in place at the facilities,” he said. “Any time there is tragedy of the Las Vegas scale, people will evaluate their risk going forward.”
Tolle does not foresee this event putting a particular focus on exposed, outdoor venues. “It’s about recognizing that this level of violence is here,” he said. “People often focus only on the mechanism of violence. It’s really the frequency and outcomes that should capture people’s attention.”
Still, venue security experts are looking at outside threats in a new light.
“As security checkpoints at concerts and sporting events have become more rigorous, the Las Vegas shooting has shown us that people who want to do harm are now focusing on areas outside the security perimeter,” said Randy Sutton, who spent 24 years with the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department. “It’s not possible to have security covering everything. When we have skyscrapers looming next to open-air venues, there is going to be a risk of an incident.”
Russ Simons, Venue Solutions Group, who is chairman of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Public Assembly Facility Sub-Sector Council and serves on the IAVM Safety & Security Committee and NCS4 (National Center for Spectator, Sport, Safety and Security) board of advisors, noted the mass killing in Las Vegas reinforces the need to do a threat assessment and vulnerability to that threat constantly.
“That leads to a risk assessment and from that you get your emergency action plan,” said Simons. “I don’t think anyone would have weighed gunfire from a significant distance and, by the way, from as high a level as this was as a threat to an event like a country music festival.”
This does not change the game for venue managers, it just increases the volume of the message. “Venue managers will be doing what they’ve done every day for 17 years, since 9/11, which is taking a look at what the circumstances are on the ground, not being comfortable with what you knew yesterday, and knowing you have to think about what the situation will be for you tomorrow. Every professional venue manager knows that complacency as it relates to safety and security is our biggest enemy, and we have to focus on the changing nature of the threat and our response. That has to do with that emergency action plan, training, execution, evaluation and retraining.”
Simons strongest message is one of personal responsibility.  “We can’t afford to rely on someone else to take care of us. We have to pay attention and think about where we’re going and assess our situation.
See something, say something is not just a tagline, he added. “We all have an obligation and a responsibility to be paying attention, and if we see things that make us uncomfortable or we don’t understand, we have to bring those things to someone’s attention. All of us are better than any one of us.

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Posted: 10 Nov 2017, 6:00 pm

Jade_Peacock_3_copy_crop.jpgThose lucky enough to hear about — and find — the Jade Peacock at the San Diego County Fair, Del Mar, Calif., arrived at a secret location filled with paper lanterns, Buddha and lucky-lion statuary, and peacock paintings.  Guests could only get in by invitation using a secret password. The throwback speakeasy, which aimed to re-create the essence of an Old West Chinese opium den,  was so well-received by the fairgoers and well-liked by the industry that it won the 2017 Silver Spoons Award for Best New Concept.
Created by Sue Walls, director of catering and dining at Del Mar fairgrounds for SMG and Premier Food Services, the speakeasy’s craft cocktails featured six local craft spirit distilleries with a menu that included memorable themed drinks like: Red Lantern, Golden Temple, Fat Choy, 5 Spice Plum and 100 Birds. Spirits used were medal winners from last year’s San Diego Spirit & Cocktail Festival with some distillers doing tastings in the Jade Peacock during its run.
“The goal of the concept was to disrupt preconceived ideas of the county fair by creating a fun and authentic experience,” said Walls. “The idea was to honor the Chinese immigrants who worked on the railroads and in gold mining camps in the late 1800s.”
“We knew we could do a fun job tying in history and decorating,” said Walls. “We thought it would be a hit but had no idea how successful it would turn out to be. By the end of the fair, word spread and we had to turn people away.”
Adventurous visitors first had to locate a Jade Peacock card with the password of the day at one of three theme bar locations. The card contained instructions on accessing the Speakeasy, and a hostess inside the theme exhibit was waiting to receive the password (one day’s code: Catawampus).
Space permitting, guests were escorted to the bar’s secret location by costumed actors from Grossmont Community College. If the bar was at capacity, the hostess would take a cell number and text back when space allowed.
Guests were guided on a winding, clandestine walk through an underground tunnel up to the highest spot on the 5th floor of the fairgrounds grandstand where they found the elaborately decorated lounge with a spectacular view of the fairgrounds and Del Mar.
“Have your method of leading people to the bar well-established,” warned Walls for other venues that want to pick up on the concept. “Getting the people up to the space was the trickiest part. Keep it simple; no reservations; no online reservations; take phone numbers when the bar is full.”
There was very little marketing involved. “There was no ad campaign; there was nothing on the website; it was all word of mouth and helpful journalists,” said Walls.
The bar was created out of an unused storeroom. “No one ever goes up to that area; it was perfect.” said Walls, who hand-picked the furniture and decor from downtown Los Angeles with a team member.” The entire project, including the decorations, costumes, video and music cost $4,300.
“It was a super team effort,” said Walls. “I set up a Pinterest board and the whole team added to it,” she said. “We involved the entertainment department who provided actors; we engaged the people who ran the exhibit hall to plant our hostess station; we went to the San Diego Distillers Guild meeting to market it.”
“I have to give all the credit to Sue Walls,” said Tim Fennell, CEO, San Diego County Fair. “It was her brainchild and her creation.”
“It was a great marketing tool,” he said. “It was so creative, and very, very successful. It certainly added to our fair menu and the guest experience at this year’s fair and the fun.”
Fennell loved that “it added a new dimension to the fair that we didn’t have before.”
A total of 2,274 people visited Jade Peacock over the four weeks of the fair; it was only open on Friday and Saturday nights from 6:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. On the nights that the speakeasy wasn’t open to the public, it was rented out. The four-week gross was $37,745.
Specialty drinks cost $18; wine and beer were $10 each. “Our per cap was $20 per person,” said Wall. “We had people come up who didn’t even drink; they just wanted to see the room and be part of the fun.” The average guest stayed in the Jade Peacock for “about an hour.” Around 300 people visited each night.
It took two bartenders, one barback, two managers, two hostesses, two actors and an ambassador to run the speakeasy each night.
Reaction was so great that Del Mar fairgrounds is using the concept for their Halloween Scream Zone event and renaming it Demonology. The only change? “People walk into the tunnel through a port-a-potty,” said Walls, laughing.

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Posted: 9 Nov 2017, 6:05 pm


REPORTING FROM ELLENTON, FLA. — Producing Sesame Street Live! Let’s Party! is a labor of love for Nicole Feld, Feld Entertainment. The new show, produced by Feld Entertainment in its new partnership with Sesame Workshop, debuts at Duke Energy Center for the Arts - Mahaffey Theater, St. Petersburg, Fla., Oct. 20-22, playing theaters and some arenas in 68 cities through May 2018.

“As a mom, as a person who grew up with Sesame Street, it felt really exciting to be part of something you know will be most children’s first theatrical experience,” Feld said during a behind the scenes tour of Feld Entertainment exclusively for Venues Today. “Literally kids are born and Elmo is on their diaper. ‘Elmo’ was one of my daughter’s first words.”
The Feld team has striven to keep Sesame Street Live! Let’s Party! as close to a child’s reality as possible. “From the first time we met with Sesame Workshop and listened to the research and curriculum, how they understand children and the developmental process, my sisters and I were literally saying, ‘yes, that’s exactly what’s happening in our homes at this moment.’ It will relate to families across this country,” Feld said.
The characters are so rich, so well loved and developed, and there is so much content, the challenge Feld faced was to narrow it down to clear and consistent messaging, to pick just a few things to really focus on, she said. “Being a mom, and even talking to my sisters who have newborns, you try to take into consideration what that’s like.”
Paramount in Feld’s mind was to focus on a few solid points, not overwhelm the audience with too many characters and ideas on stage at once, and incorporate mom/child time in the cadence, so mom has built-in time to encourage little Johnny to get up and dance before the moment has passed. Feld knows that often, she has to almost give her babies permission to participate at that young age.
To prepare the new production, the staff, cast and crew have all made pilgrimages to Sesame Workshop in New York to immerse themselves in everything Sesame Street. They emerged with a genuine love and respect for the Sesame Street mission, to teach and entertain.
Jeff Blossey, production designer, had a prior working relationship with Jim Henson and the Muppets years ago at Disney Imagineering. That, on top of the immersion meetings, influenced everything he has done with design, down to the color palette, which is Sesame Street’s.
“Our marching order was to bring the quintessential Sesame Street experience to people,” Blossey said. “So I spent a lot of time in New York on set with the muppets and director and production designer going over every nuance of the set and putting our own spin on it. When people see this, they will feel like they’re on Sesame Street.”
Sesame Workshop also designed a muppet just for the live production. Maya Monster will man the information booth in the theater lobby prior to the show, giving kids their first real-life look at a muppet. Two more muppets were developed for the preshow, which is an upsell experience for 200 people per show.
Blossey and crew were involved in designing preshow, lobby and show elements for a target audience aged 3-11, which means working with primary colors – bright, sunny, optimistic and fun colors.
“That’s how authentic we’re being. These kids know this show like we know it; it’s a place in your heart,” Blossey said. “These kids, more than their parents, know Sesame Street when they see it. That’s been our mission all along and we strive for that every day.”
The design process has been enhanced by the ability to map everything in 3D, but the production still takes all the usual steps, including a white model, though that’s not actually white anymore – it’s in color. 3D makes it possible to view a set piece from any angle, in detail, before they ever pick up a wrench.
“This tool wasn’t available several years ago. It’s meant tremendous savings” in both time and money, Blossey said.
“Because our show has to travel, we take these files and export them individually and send them to a foam manufacturer that has a computer that cuts those pieces of foam,” he said. “Then we scenically paint them to look like concrete, but lightweight so it travels well.”
They do have limitations, like how many items can fit on a truck. It has to break down into 6X6 foot chunks, “like transformers,” Blossey said, so it can be easily rolled away and transported from city to city.
That’s where Rob Lange, company manager, weighs in. He has a 10-person crew, half of whom are department heads, on the road crew. Included are the electrician, with a crew of two; sound, plus one; props, plus one; set designer/carpenter; and wardrobe, plus one. It’s similar to what venue managers see when Disney Live! shows up with 11-12 on the crew.
The biggest challenge to move is the video screen, which is a total of 64 pieces, Lange said. “It’s cool the way it’s very modular and all magnets together so it drops into place, then we clamp it. It’s the first time we’ve had a screen like this.”
Mitch Matsunaga, senior director, International Ice and Stage Show Operations, is thrilled with the interactive capacity of the Community Billboard (the video screen), which has a name, CB. CB is a brand new character for the live production, as are Casey and Caleb, the co-emcees, and the Citizens of Sesame Street (seven of 11 cast members double as citizens and Sesame Street costumed characters). CB plays games with the audience and brings to life the screen — as in smart phones and tablets — that even the youngest kids are used to today. CB lives above the Community Center.
“The scenic design is amazing,” Matsunaga said. “The fact that we utilized this hi rez, cool video community billboard is amazing. The color and content will be cool. We have moments when the characters on the video screen actually interact live in the theater and on the screen, like Facetime.”
123 Brownstone, the iconic structure that has been part of the Sesame Street set for 47 years, is four feet deep, 22 feet tall, and quite heavy, Lange said. They were working on moving it in and out when Venues Today visited. Adding to the challenge is the fact that it has to be 3D, as did the entire set for the sake of the preshow guests who will see it up close while on stage. This scenery has to be as real life as possible.
“We’re at eight hours load out,” Lange said, predicting that with practice they’ll knock that down to four. He’s penciling in six hours for set up, but hopes to get to the point they can begin load in at 4 a.m. for a 2 p.m. show, keeping in mind they have to be ready for the preshow at 12:45.
Lange anticipated traveling the show on three trucks for scenery and props, plus one for merchandise, all from Star Freight. Three 14-bunk buses from Star Coaches will accommodate the 35-38 people traveling with the show.
The show will travel 20,000 miles, the biggest move being 1,650 miles from Allen, Texas to Stockton, Calif. on New Year’s Eve. Lange will need to book double drivers for that one.
Let’s Party! brings Sesame Street to the kids, Matsunaga said. “Few kids get the opportunity to actually see it, feel it, right in front of their eyes, and that’s exciting.”
And it’s educational, just like the TV show. “Sesame brings an educational component to content on its TV shows and so do we, so they are not only having a good time, but they’re also learning new things — being kind to the environment, being kind to neighbors — concepts we want kids to understand in this day and age,” Matsunaga said.
The difference is that the interactivity is ramped up. The show is actually contemporary, which meant orchestrating a new track, some of which is rap. Traditional Sesame Street songs, like “I Love Trash,” were re-orchestrated to feel current. “Who Are the People in Your Neighborhood,” a song people know, has a hip hop beat and unbelievably high energy dance choreography, Matsunaga said.
In the lobby prior to the show, there will be another video board where ticketbuyers can have an Elmo’s World-type of interaction, playing guessing games with the muppet on screen. The 65-inch screen provides free entertainment and group interaction. As Elmo finishes a segment, he takes a break, allowing a new audience to cycle through.
Maya Monster will also interact with kids in the lobby prior to curtain and while the Preshow group is in the theater. The muppet will directly communicate with kids and respond to questions or initiate conversation with the kids, Matsunaga said. Again, the puppeteers will take breaks for crowd control.
It fell to Dawna Oak and Ken Mooney, co-costume designers, to make all this dancing, singing and interaction possible and comfortable for the performers and to preserve the contemporary feel of the show.
“These are very talented, gifted people who do things in these clothes that we have to accommodate,” Mooney said. “That’s ground zero; no matter what we want to do, we have to make it work for the function. That’s what’s different in the business we do versus Broadway. These people are actors, but athletes first.”
To the costumers, dancing drives the show. Oak was blown away during the immersion meetings in New York “so we could understand their brand. It was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had. I cried. They are so dedicated to the educational aspects of their brand. They educated us on how to represent their brand in Sesame Street Live for Feld Entertainment. At first, I thought very pedestrian, sweet little show. Oh no. You are on Sesame Street and having the full-on experience of the community center.”
Oak and Mooney had to find pedestrian clothing for all 11 cast members in their roles as citizens, tasked with making those clothes contemporary while emphasizing “Everybody’s Different and That’s Okay.” They met with each cast member individually to determine who they were and what clothes would make them comfortable. They scoured stores, shopped on line and reviewed cast member suggestions, seeking to be in-style right now with the parents as well as the children.
Fortunately, contemporary style is eclectic and harkens back to styles of old and, conveniently, every cast member was quite individualistic, from nerd to surfer.
“If you can start with a great dialog with a performer, you get someplace better than either could on his own,” Mooney said.
They asked questions like tell me who you are, what is your vibe, sneakers or boots, do you like hats, how can you wear your hair, “all those things that put them in their comfort zone so they can do their best,” Oak added. “In their body language, you can tell if they’re not comfortable. They need to know you have their back and are making them comfortable and still meet the needs of the show esthetically.”
The muppet costumes were produced by a costume shop in Nashville, Animax, which has had a connection with Sesame Workshop for decades. Costumes are different when dealing with puppetry than they are, for example, with Disney characters for other Feld productions. The cast also participated in immersion meetings in New York so they would understand the philosophy, mission statement, and program behind the show.
Of course, they had to wait until the casting was done to clothe the Citizens of Sesame Street, “because you can make the wrong choice and struggle against it the rest of the year,” Mooney said.
C is for collaboration, caring, concern for the audience, contemporary. “The theme of the show is it’s a party, but it’s a community party. It’s about bringing people and families together, making the world a kinder and more caring place,” Feld said. “That’s very in line with the values I have as a parent and what Sesame incorporated within their curriculum and their episodes.”
For venue managers, this will clearly be more than an extra-booster-seats-and-diaper-changing-tables event. Sesame Street Live! Let’s Party! aims to educate the next generation of theater goers across the globe.



A preshow experience will allow a limited number of guests, 200 per show, to actually walk on stage before Sesame Street Live! Let’s Party! as part of the new Feld Entertainment/Sesame Workshop family show.
The preshow set, complete with muppets, is designed to look like the television studio set, from 123 Brownstone to Hooper’s Store to the Community Center. The experience is as true to the TV production as possible.
Inspiration for the preshow, as well as the entire production, started when Nicole Feld, producer, who took her daughter to the New York set as part of the total-immersion process of creation.
“My sister and I each brought our daughters and my daughter was running around, touching Oscar’s trash can, Abby’s garden. It became so real for her. We wanted to offer that to some of Sesame Street’s biggest fans,” Feld said.
The preshow will take place an hour and 15 minutes prior to Let’s Party!, lasting 45 minutes. It is an upsell, $20-$30 per ticket; but you don’t have to buy a front row seat to get a preshow ticket. Because only 50 people at a time can be physically accommodated on stage, the plan is to take them up in four color-coded (another learning moment) groups.
The preshow stresses education. Besides the chance to walk on stage and interact with muppets and touch iconic elements of Sesame Street, buyers will be tasked with various projects that directly impact the show. Kids will be asked to help prepare for the big party by decorating a banner with stickers, which will then be utilized on the show. They will be asked to recycle trash as part of the cleanup crew or make paper plate decorations for a streamer to be used on stage. While those three activities take place, one of the four groups will be taking their turn on stage.
Mitch Matsunaga, senior director, International Ice and Stage Show Operations, said they have found coves and little spaces inside the theater to facilitate the preshow. The set up will be different in each city.
Each onstage experience will also be different, with two hosts to take them through the process. Each group ends with a highlight, a fun activity on stage. “And we have, for the very first time, our four famous characters in their puppet form,” Matsunaga said. “They appear in these fabulous windows or out of a trashcan. Kids can’t touch the puppets, but they’ll be as close an anyone has ever gone. There is no other place you can experience the TV-sized muppets anywhere. This is a first for Sesame Workshop.”
Logistically, this means the set up crew will have to stage the preshow, which means moving the set pieces on stage back five feet to accommodate the crowd and setting up the interactive stations, said Rob Lange, company manager. They will have 15 minutes to reset the stage and clean up the stations before the theater doors open to the general public.
Theaters will have to be staffed and open only 15 minutes before traditional doors, which are an hour before showtime. “You could probably open just a stand or two just for the 200 people until that hour,” Matsanuga said.
Feld was not sure what elements of the preshow would be exportable to other Feld productions, but expected there will be some learnings that can be adapted. “I think getting on stage, for a lot of people, would be exciting. Venues offer tours on stage when nothing is even happening; there is a fan base for that.”
The challenge is that this show is for young kids who don’t move quickly. “We want them to be safe,” Feld added.
Jeff Blossey, production designer, said there are several new elements to this production specifically because of the preshow concept. Hooper’s Store rotates 90 degrees, so preshow fans will get more of a street feel, while the show audience will have good sightlines. Everything is on modern-age, industrial, omni-directional casters that a couple people can crank down and clamp, Blossey pointed out.
They also designed a Brooklyn skyline, complete with trees, behind the set to give the village feel to the preshow.  “You can’t have a black curtain back here,” he said, showing off the attention to detail that makes Sesame Street Live! Let’s Party a new theatrical experience, a new show. — Linda Deckard

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Posted: 9 Nov 2017, 6:00 pm

phone-tapping-enclosure-final[4].pngPresence, a new ticketing system recently unveiled by Ticketmaster, will check spectators into events using smartphone audio data. The technology promises all kinds of benefits for all kinds of stakeholders. For attendees, Ticketmaster says, it will mean shorter lines and exceptional convenience. For sports and entertainment providers, it will mean the chance to capture data on people in each seat. Knowing preferences in dates, seats, concessions and other purchases will give purveyors a big leg up in marketing to their customers.
The question is: Does Presence really represent breakthrough technology?  Opinions differ.
Sounding less than impressed with Presence is Denver-based Maureen Andersen, president and CEO of INTIX, the 38-year-old, Indianapolis, Ind.-based professional association representing the ticketing industry. “The premise isn't that much different from deploying a ticket to your phone in general,” she said. “I had to question myself in how different it is from Flash Seats, or any other barcode- or QR code-centric solution.
“Having the ability to transfer the ticket to other users, or a portion of their order to other users is not new. I'm all for new technology and am all ears when Ticketmaster announces they have new technology. But what I'd like to know is, is anyone currently using this ticketing system? Is it in beta?”
Andersen also says she doesn't understand the claim that this product shortens lines. “That seemed a really odd statement to me when they made it,” she asserted. “The ticket line may be shorter, but you still have a security line.”
With every technology-enabled ticket innovation that comes to the industry, she adds, her first question is what will the technology do for the customer and the customer experience. What she's interested in is technology that supports the customer's needs and purposes, as well as transparency that makes attendees feel comfortable. “Everybody is continually trying to do that,” she said. “As an industry, we keep trying to do that. The value is in the journey. And as long as we keep trying to do it better for the customer to, we as an industry win.”
Still, she dares Ticketmaster to show off its differences and convince folks it really is a game changer at an upcoming trade show. The perfect place and time, she asserted, is Baltimore Jan. 23-25, 2018. “Tell them to bring it to INTIX, and show it off there,” she said.

Taking a different view of Presence and its status as a game changer is Tony Knopp, co-founder and CEO of InviteManager, a Ticketmaster-affiliated company with headquarters in Calabasas, Calif., and offices in Chicago, New York City and Washington, D.C.
Asked to name what Presence offers that we've not seen before, Knopp answered, “Everything.”
“This is significantly different,” he said. “Breakthrough technology generally has one of two characteristics. It solves a major problem or trades convenience for data. For years, sports teams have wanted to know exactly who is in their seats, so they can market to them more effectively and sell them more stuff. Google and Apple found a way to trade convenience for data. That's what Ticketmaster is doing. We're going to make it so easy for you when you enter a game. You can buy a beer, buy a souvenir, have access to your seat without even pulling your phone out of your pocket. They've made it so easy for all people willingly give up their data.”     
Ticketmaster Presence is not the only product attempting to attain these objectives, he added. The company's chief competitors — among them AXS Veritix,, SeatGeek and Paciolan – are all competing to achieve the same goal.
AXS Veritix's magnetic stripe entry was just another way for entertainment and sports entities to determine who is sitting where, so they could more effectively target market to those individuals. The trick is doing so without harming the fan or attendee experience.  “Mag stripe showed up 10 years ago, because that was the technology we had then,” Knopp said. 

Among those particularly furious about the technology are ticket brokers, who argue that Presence and other ticketing systems currently in development are not in the best interests of fans. “Let's be honest,” Knopp added. “You're ticket brokers. It's not in your best interests.”
At essence, Presence reignites a debate about just what the definition of a ticket is. “That was argued in the California courts, when StubHub sued [National Basketball Association team] the Golden State Warriors and Ticketmaster, with the basis of the suit being the question of whether tickets are a license or an owned property,” Knopp said. “The court sided with a license, and I agree.”
But demonstrating just how hotly contested this debate is, Knopp pointed out that while he believes a ticket is a license, his company's co-founder believes it is an owned property.
But there's no question sports teams, to cite one example, will benefit from the insights gleaned into who is in what seat. If they know for instance, that Fan A attends Los Angeles-area Major League Baseball night games in mid-week, buys six to eight beers at each game and doesn't buy souvenirs, and Fan B attends weekend afternoon games, purchases lots of sodas and hot dogs and carts home a bunch of souvenirs, they know a great deal. Fan A is likely single and Fan B a family man taking children to a game. The team can more effectively market and promote to each of those fans' interests and priorities, Knopp said.

Calling Ticketmaster Presence “the next generation venue access control and fan engagement platform,” executive vice president of product for Ticketmaster North America Justin Burleigh said Ticketmaster considered the paper ticket both old-fashioned and anonymous. It also opened up fans to more instances of fraud with every live event.
Ticketmaster knew the identity of the ticket buyer, not the seat holder. The Ticketmaster team “realized the entire live event experience could be improved and more personalized if the paper ticket was replaced with technology,” he said. “Now, Presence provides insights into the full-chain of custody of a ticket, helping to solve these types of core problems that have plagued the industry for decades. With Ticketmaster Presence, we’re now able to decrease fraud, increase venue security and drive knowledge around new, incremental fans.”
To date, more than two million fans have entered venues using Presence software technology with zero instances of fraud, Burleigh added. Presence is slated to continue roll-out through 2017 and 2018, with plans underway for worldwide expansion.
Knopp said there is going to be “a lot of kicking and screaming for a little while. And some of it will be valid, but most will be coming from retailers, ticket brokers and marketplaces. But the competitors are doing the same thing; they have their own technologies they're developing, and they'll compete, and the controversy will eventually go away.
“But Ticketmaster will take the brunt of the controversy while it lasts.”



As with all of you, I am horrified, deeply saddened and wounded at a core level that our simple world of entertainment and enjoyment has been so brutally shattered following the senseless Las Vegas attack. However, we are a people, an industry and a profession of action, and our new world order demands that we must pick up the gauntlet of change and take on the challenge of revamping, reordering and recharging our venues and our business.   We will take on this challenge to provide safety and assurance for our audiences and our performers because it is important to us and to the world.
Entertainment, music, theatre, joy and laughter will prevail, as it always has, because it is the hallmark of a society and our culture. We will stand together to make the changes necessary to our infrastructures that will continue to provide safe, inviting and accessible environments.
Our program is expanded and enhanced this year with new opportunities to engage with each other as attendees; to engage with our vendors and exhibitors; to share innovative technologies; and to consume educational content that is stimulating and thought provoking.

• Sold out exhibition hall with 65+ technology vendors and industry suppliers
• NEW: Technology Pavilion, filling fast, with festival space for vendor kiosks 
• NEW: Innovation Technology Stage for demonstrations of new technologies
• 30 knowledge based 60- and 90-minute education workshops
• 16 Inspiration Stage bite-sized 15-minute educational presentations
• Awards and Celebrations
INTIX is proud to announce our opening and closing keynotes with timely and important speakers. 
Opening the 39th Annual INTIX Conference and Exhibition on Tuesday, Jan. 24, will be a powerful keynote from Melanie Pearlman, executive director of the Counterterrorism Education Leaning Lab (CELL). This is a not-to-be-missed keynote. 
Rounding out INTIX 2018 will be Mike Lorenc, Head of Industry – Ticketing, Sports & Live Events, Google on Thursday, Jan. 25.  Mike will present The Pivot to Digital and highlight the growth of mCommerce, emerging trends in digital marketing and technology and the power of technology to drive event discovery.   
INTIX has a new strategic, long-range plan and a clear purpose:  To Ignite Success! INTIX has been visiting, and will continue to visit, regional ticketing and industry groups throughout the rest of the year.  We look forward to seeing you at one of these events and certainly at INTIX 2018 in Baltimore in January.  If you haven’t been to INTIX, come see what we have to offer.  If you haven’t been to INTIX in the past few years, come back and try us out again. We promise you a new experience with greater breadth, depth and experiences!  Join us in Baltimore Jan. 23-25, 2018 at the Baltimore Hilton. Register at

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Posted: 9 Nov 2017, 5:00 pm

There were many signs Minneapolis’ 66,200-seat U.S. Bank Stadium would be a success story in its first year.
It began even before the National Football League’s Minnesota Vikings hit the field or the first sold out concert was held. It began when the stadium’s two-day open house in July 2016 brought in 190,000 visitors to check out the city’s newest venue.
It was a fitting kickoff for its first three major events, which had their own impressive accomplishments. For the International Champions Cup soccer match between A.C. Milan vs. Chelsea F.C., natural grass was successfully installed and maintained atop the artificial turf, not an easy feat.
Another real test was hosting two sold-out concerts — country singer Luke Bryan and heavy metal band Metallica—in less than 24 hours.
Icing on the cake was the Minnesota Vikings’ triumph over the San Diego Chargers at home on Aug. 28, 2016, in their first pre-season game, followed by a victorious home opener against the Green Bay Packers on Sept. 18.
It was just a glimpse of what was to come in the first year, as 1.6 million people attended more than 600 public and private events at U.S. Bank Stadium.
“The big test was opening with a sold out international soccer game, then hosting the back-to-back concerts just a couple weeks later,” said Jerry Goldman, assistant general manager of the stadium for SMG, which was contracted by the Minnesota Sports Facility Authority, the stadium’s owner, to manage its opening and operation in 2014. 
“Another testament to our success was the December Monster Jam event. This sold out so quickly, we added a second night, and Feld Motorsports did a record of over $3 million.”
Yet another early victory was locking in the four-day Summer X Games, a first for a stadium, for two consecutive summers. The extreme sports competition and festival included a two-week load in, pouring temporary concrete skate parks, hauling in 8,000 yards of dirt and constructing an 82-foot mega ramp. The competitions were globally broadcast and attended by 110,000 visitors.
“The X Games was the most unique event,” said Patrick Talty, the stadium’s general manager/SMG. “It showed both the versatility and uniqueness of the building and how we approach things outside of the box.”
Yet to come is the pinnacle, Super Bowl LII, which U.S. Bank Stadium will take on in February 2018.
“This past year, we hosted more than 650 events, from four signature trade shows to weddings and product launches, all in addition to the 10 Vikings home games,” said Goldman. “We had four scheduled concerts this summer, including sold out Guns ‘N Roses and U2 shows.”

A New Beginning
At 1.8 million square feet, U.S. Bank Stadium is twice the size of its predecessor, the Metrodome. It also includes more club and circulation space.
The downtown location has been ideal, with 13,000 stadium visitors utilizing the light rail this year.
Talty was the first U.S. Bank Stadium employee hired in 2015, before the venue was built.
“This was supposed to be a multipurpose venue for the state and people of Minnesota, and that’s what it has become,” he said. “It was an amazing experience getting the team and building up and running, and the highlight was seeing the stadium live up to its billing.”
Being chosen to host the year’s most highly anticipated and watched sporting event was not taken lightly. Planning for the Super Bowl began the first day the stadium was up and running. It was a big advantage that the venue’s other assistant general manager, John Drum, had been part of two Super Bowls at the University of Phoenix Stadium in 2008 and 2015.
“[The National Football League (NFL) representatives] came out here to watch Vikings games and other events to see how this building will be transformed and operated,” said Drum. “It’s always exciting, but it takes a lot of planning when a brand new building is brought online.”
U.S. Bank Stadium’s design is conducive to a wide range of events, big and small. Retractable seats have enabled the stadium to host 140 baseball games in 52 calendar days. It also has held 95 days of community events, including band and high school football competitions.
“We’re not making a lot of money with these events, but we know it’s the right thing to do and part of the mission as to why the stadium was built,” said Talty. “The X Games was the most unique event, because it showed both the versatility and uniqueness of the building and how we approach things outside the box.
What also sets the stadium apart is its five main clubs, which are on separate levels and of various sizes to host different events at the same time.

Inaugural Year Highlights
This is one facility that has been put to the test with quick turnarounds. In addition to the back-to-back Luke Bryan/Metallica shows, it more recently held a U2 concert on a Friday night and the Vikings’ season opener the following Monday evening.
U.S. Bank Stadium has already served as an asset to the community. The venue held 13 youth football events August through December as well as in-line skating and running for 17 events in the winter months.
Over 140 college and high school baseball games were played at the facility in its first season, with nearly 30,000 fans in attendance across all games. In May and June, U.S. Bank Stadium hosted the inaugural season of Party on the Plaza, a free outdoor concert series for the public. 
Due to its flexible design, the stadium also has brought in a significant amount of convention center-type business.
“Compared with other stadiums, we’re marketing ours in a different way locally,” said Lisa Niess, the stadium’s marketing and communications manager. “As a result, we do many corporate meetings, weddings, conventions, trade shows and consumer shows.”
Despite a strong start, the stadium has not been without challenges. One has been a critique of the acoustics during concerts due to its large size.
“We’re a big building, so we heard from some concert goers that there was echoing,” said Goldman. “We will be addressing this issue before the next run of concerts.”
Booking concerts also tends to be more difficult, because only a handful of promoters work with stadium shows.
Consequently, the stadium has been positioned as being promoter-friendly.
“We make an effort to stay in front of promoters,” said Goldman. “And considering we have a roof, performers don’t have to worry about the elements. We can book concerts year-round here.”
Interest in the stadium is palpable from the public’s standpoint, with more than 86,000 people from all 50 states participating in the facility’s public tour program.
“Whenever you open a new building, no matter what the capacity, it will experience growing pains,” said Goldman. “You don’t know until you get people in how it will flow and function. Everything looks great on paper, but there are always things that need to be tweaked.”
By listening to the public and paying close attention to how the building operates, adaptations have been made to improve operations, such as crowd control at concession stands.
“Opening a building comes with all kinds of challenges, so year two will be about looking to find efficiencies now that we’re up and running,” said Niess. “With all of the opportunities for events, it’s a great problem to have.”
Content is already finalized for year two. Along with the 52nd Super Bowl, the stadium will play host to home and custom car shows as well as an RV show, two Monster Truck events, Supercross, state high school championships for football and soccer, four to five concerts and another Party on the Plaza series, which will be expanded on over the summer.
“I’m extremely proud of the staff we’ve put together and how they’ve grown into one of the best teams in the country,” said Goldman. “I’m excited to see what the future holds.”



U.S. Bank Stadium is currently working through LEED certification as part of its sustainability plan. The certification is in progress.
“U.S. Bank Stadium is creating best practices with our sustainability initiative that will become the standard in the NFL,” said Curtis Schmillen, director of operations for SMG.
As a part of this effort, waste management is a key piece of day-to-day operations as well as decreasing the amount of landfill waste.
The stadium’s sustainability efforts and accomplishments include:

• The first stadium to be designated a Bicycle-Friendly Business.
• The first sport facility to partner with Recycle Across America (RAA). Recycling rates
have gone up 11% from the year one average after the installation of RAA signage.
• Reducing the venue’s carbon footprint in water reduction, energy efficiency, waste
diversion and sustainable purchasing.
• A green cleaning policy requiring all cleaning products and cleaning machinery to be
at acceptable environmental standards.
• Donation of 489 meals to date from unused, still edible food from the kitchens.
• Using water bottle fillers on the concourses to divert 168,174 bottles of water from
being used.
• 100% post-consumer paper in all offices. From August of 2016 to August 2017,
paper consumption dropped 68%, which is roughly 80,000 sheets of paper.
• A bag color policy (i.e. white bags for trash, green for compost and blue for
recycling) helps eliminate confusion among staff members and keeps the waste
streams accurate and clean.

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Posted: 9 Nov 2017, 5:00 pm

A strategic thinker all his life, Kevin Twohig, who is retiring from his role as CEO of Spokane, Wash., Public Facilities District (SPFD) by the end of the year, has a go-forth plan in place.
While the board is actively engaged in replacing Twohig, hopefully before the end of October, they are also transitioning his role so he can stay on to oversee completion of renovation of INB Performing Arts Center, which will probably mean fulltime work through the majority of 2018.
It’s a role that fits very much into his core strengths. “I do people, problems, projects and politics. That’s my life,” Twohig said.
His entire career has been in Spokane, starting with the 1974 World’s Fair, when he worked for Mike Kobluk, following him into management of the Opera House (now the INB PAC) and the old coliseum, which was replaced in 1995 by the new Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena, a project that is all Twohig’s and was the foundation for formation of SPFD, which he heads.
Mike Kobluk, retired, recalls those early days. He first hired Twohig at Gonzaga University to help with a slide show. Twohig, ever entrepreneurial, was a student with his own sound company, Second Wind. “A year later I was running events at the World’s Fair and Kevin wanted to have Second Wind involved. We talked and I kind of hired him,” Kobluk said.
That began a 43-year career for Twohig. “We have facilities second to none in Spokane and a great deal of the responsibility for that goes to Kevin,” Kobluk said.
On this decision to retire, Twohig said, “I’ve been working in these facilities since 1974. I felt I have contributed as much as I can as CEO. I’ve got the district in a very comfortable spot where it can go on for many more years and be financially and programmatically successful. And I just felt I’d done enough of being the one who gets called at 2 a.m., who’s on call 24/7, 365.”
If he does anything more after 2018, it will probably be something to do with USA Volleyball. “Volleyball has always been my passion,” Twohig said.
Twohig played volleyball for 30 years, enjoying it as a release from the event business. “It completely changed my mindset, put me in a different place and dealt with the stress issues that go with this job. It’s always been the other outlet, my other interest.”
Accolades continue to roll in for Twohig, both from volleyball, where he is a Frier Award winner; from the Washington State Public Facilities Districts Association, which he helped found; and from the International Association of Venue Managers (IAVM), where he has been honored with the prestigious McElravy Award for his outstanding contributions to the industry and the association. He anticipates a lifelong commitment to all those associations. “If you’re a McElravy Award winner, you’ll always be involved,” he said.

The people he works with, the guests that come in the front door and the clients that come in the back door, are the reasons he loves the event business. Whether it’s a concert, Broadway play or convention, “these things are fun; fun to do. There are always challenges.”
This past year, the challenge was conversion to metal detectors and a higher level of security, an exercise all venues are going through.
While he believes he handles all four core strengths well, Twohig will admit “the one I’ll miss the most is being here with the people every day because, essentially, I hired every one of them.”
In 2003, Twohig led the charge to transfer operation of the arena from the city of Spokane to the Spokane Public Facilities District, a new and autonomous municipal corporation.
“At that time, we went through the entire employee selection process,” he recalled. There was no automatic rehire. Every role was advertised publically and both in-house and out-of-house candidates were considered.
“What emerged was a phenomenal team, most of whom are still here,” Twohig said with pride. “That was one of my favorite things: to completely tear apart and reassemble a team who all had a similar understanding of our goals, objectives, mission and how we would operate. A lot of people had been with the city for a long time and could not get themselves into a private sector mentality. A private company isn’t as protective or as forgiving. We have high expectations for our empolyees,  and every team we put in place is pretty darn good at executing the drill.”
Matt Gibson, who has risen to the role of GM of the Spokane Arena, is part of that team and in tune with Twohig’s management style. “Kevin has given me an enormous amount of latitude. Some things he handles personally, but for the most part when it comes to booking the event and getting the building a voice, he’s allowed me to build my team and run this building on the event side with a lot of autonomy. That speaks to his leadership ability. It’s a mentor position. He brings people along and makes you work for it.”

“A year ago, when we were putting in our metal detectors, we had a pretty significant challenge with the sheriff, who decided he didn’t have to comply with what everyone else did,” Twohig said. “We went through a fairly high profile discussion, re-crafting some of our policies, that has emerged successfully where people feel more comfortable being in our buildings than they did before.”
The issue in Spokane was not that different from other places in the country. The venues had had a no-weapons policy since the arena opened 22 years ago. But it wasn’t until the metal detectors were installed that they found out how many people were ignoring the ban. Among them were off-duty police and sheriff’s department officers.
The controversy “developed my relationship with the sheriff to a whole new level of respect and understanding,” Twohig said. “I understand where he’s coming from and I think he understands where I’m coming from. We allowed him to decide which off-duty sheriff’s officers should be allowed into the building with their weapons.
“Because of the political decision we made with the sheriff and police department, we now issue a permit to whomever they designate among off-duty staff.”

SPFD originated with the need to secure state funding through a district to build the arena in the early 1990’s. Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena became a reality because of the SPFD. In 2003, the district was asked to take on the convention center and performing arts center, which had continued to operate as city venues.
At that point, the state was making some money available to communities building or expanding convention centers, but the money was only available to districts, not to cities. The number of districts in the state was expanding rapidly.
It required an extensive negotiation with the city to make it possible for the district to take over. The arena was generating a steady operating profit and doing very well. The city’s performing arts center and convention center were both losing a lot of money and had tons of deferred maintenance.
“In that negotiation with the city, we had to make sure the district wouldn’t take on the financial burden because we knew we would want to expand the convention center and when you make a building losing money bigger, it generally loses more money,” Twohig said.
When the deal was done, it actually improved the district’s overall financial position. Having looked closely at the books for both buildings, Twohig knew the district would probably continue losing money at the convention center but could probably turn around the performing arts center and operate at a profit. “The city didn’t think we could and pretty much gave the district everything we asked for. For the first time, the district had control of the city’s lodging tax. There were very positive things about the political negotiations that came out well for the district,” Twohig said.
Most recently, Twohig, along with other district administrators in the state, was instrumental in extending the state sales tax rebate earmarked for PFD’s another 15 years. To accomplish that, Twohig helped organize the state’s PFD’s into a lobbying group and they lobbied to extend the rebate.
“In June 2017, that passed and the governor signed it, so we have another 15 years of state sales tax rebates to help cover the capital costs for these buildings,” Twohig said. “We could bond it today for $43 million. The performing arts center renovation will be funded out of that.”

Whether it’s Broadway shows, hockey games or concerts, the industry is not going to change that much in the next 10 years, Twohig predicted. “The demand is there. We have a steady clientele.”
But he foresees that sports will have to change a bit. Hockey, for example, has to find a way to capture the next generation. “They’ve already missed the millennials. The season ticketholders are all middle aged and older. They have to find a way to appeal to the next generation that has money, but is tied to their phones 24/7 and looking for a shared experience of some kind,” he said.
Venues will continue to evolve and provide more and more connectivity, more and more interaction with guests and performers, something that adds layers of dimension to the event. Twohig believes we have a whole generation coming along that will demand that experience.
But that will be for the next generation of leaders to determine in Spokane.




Kevin Twohig’s role as owner representative when building the Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena, stands as his career highlight. “I had a lot to say about how the building operated, how many loading docks there would be, how many seats,” recalls Twohig, CEO, Spokane Public Facilities District.
Little things, like whether the admin staff for the arena or the hockey team would be in the arena — because there was only room for one — stand out. “We put the hockey team in the building so there would be an ownership and commitment to being in there and we wouldn’t be worried about losing our hockey team. And we bought an adjacent office building and connected it to the arena, so our folks have wonderful access,” Twohig said.
Early on, Twohig upgraded the arena’s load-in. “We put in the ability to load and unload eight trucks simultaneously and added a large marshalling area. Five trucks back right up to loading docks, three can drive in and you can get an entire semi inside the building and close the outside door and be loading almost immediately onto the back of the stage. We’ve been copied since, but we were the first to have that kind of access built in,” he remembered.
Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena is a single concourse building. “There was a lot of talk about a suite level, but I knew where our budget was and had a good idea what another level would cost. When you come into our building, you’re coming in on the main level. Stairs go up or down to seating. In a wheelchair, you will never see a stairway.”
The arena also boasts a super extensive rigging grid throughout the entire floor, so a show can rig easily and drop a chain motor down almost anywhere they need one. “We also put in elevator access onto the grid so someone going up to work on the grid isn’t all worn out from climbing stairs when they get there,” Twohig said.
Twohig takes pride in having built a venue that functions as well as possible for its clients. Twohig has a theatrical background, so he also worked to make the building very dark, so the focus of the guest is on the performance occurring.
You can hear in his voice, as he talks of that decades-old project (the new arena opened in 1995) that the upcoming renovation of INB Performing Arts Center, a project he will likely take on fulltime after retiring as CEO of the SPFD, is going to be his next best project ever.
“Kevin loves projects. He is a project guy and does a great job at it. That’s Kevin’s wheelhouse. Renovating the old Opera House, where Kevin’s career started, is a natural for him,” said Jack Lucas, TicketsWest and WestCoast Entertainment, who has worked with Twohig for decades.
If he had the arena project on his plate to do over again, he would double the size of the concourse and make sure there was more space outside of the concourse for full food courts. “I would upgrade areas where arenas are making money for their owners. We’re operating our buildings on popcorn, beer and parking, so I would make sure those features were well done,” Twohig said.
Mat Gibson, GM, Spokane Arena, noted that touring the arena with Twohig recently, he remarked that they left the plastic windows with the hole in the screen in the box office. “I said why? He said because it’s the box office. But why? It’s not like there’s gobs of cash in there. Kevin cocked his head and said you’ve got a point. He’s a traditionalist. He very much enjoys you still call them vomitories in the arena. And, on the other hand, he’s always looking forward to the next best thing. What will make the guest want to come back? He likes updating things and making them more relevant.”
That’s why they’re revamping the concourse level in the arena and making a very big food and beverage area that is more a hangout space than a concessions stand. And they’re adding Asian wraps and gas-fired pizza ovens.
“Kevin understands people are looking for the experience now. It’s not about the event anymore. It’s about what you do when you’re here,” Gibson said.
“He’s an expert and any time an organization loses that expert that you can always turn to, it’s a loss for all of us and we’ll miss him very much.”

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Posted: 9 Nov 2017, 5:00 pm

HB2 took the wind out of the live-touring sails in North Carolina last year, taking it, and sister-state South Carolina, down four percent from the previous year. With the repeal of HB2, North Carolina is slowly climbing out of the downturn the ‘bathroom bill’ brought; South Carolina is also on an uptick.  Neighbor-state Georgia is swinging along nicely, showing a healthy 13 percent increase from last year. Everyone in the region is glad to see HB2 go and most are hopeful its repeal will satisfy acts and fans who were boycotting the region.
Bob Klaus, GM, Durham (N.C.) Performing Arts Center (DPAC), said the venue had its second highest attendance since opening in 2008. “We had a record number of concerts, comedy shows and special events and our Broadway shows continue to help us rank among the top theater venues in America,” he said.
Klaus said having “something for everyone” was the key to DPAC’s success. Highlights included three sold-out shows by Chris Rock, as well as headliners Joe Bonamassa, Bob Dylan, Tony Bennett, Earth, Wind & Fire and Il Divo.
Broadway favorites included “The King and I,” “Finding Neverland,” and “Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas Musical.”
Overall, the average ticket price among the 220-plus events was $55-$60. “As VIP packages become more and more popular, we’re seeing top prices grow, but we always try and balance those with special pricing for students, seniors and audiences who buy multishow packages like our very popular SunTrust Broadway at DPAC season ticket package,” said Klaus.
This past year marked DPAC’s first year with a new food and beverage provider — Spectra. “Per caps were up by about 10 percent,” he said.  “We love the new teamwork with our local manager, Affonso Jefferson, and with Spectra’s regional team headed by Doug Drewes and Dave Anderson.”
Among the new products introduced were grab-and-go sandwiches, which have been a huge hit, along with added dessert items including cake pops and cupcakes.
DPAC has an operating agreement with the city of Durham that includes a dedicated facility fee on every ticket sold for improvements and maintenance. “This summer we upgraded our seating and carpet throughout the venue as part of a $1.8 million improvement project,” said Klaus.
Spectra took over management of the Macon (Ga.) Centreplex, Coliseum & Auditorium last year.  “We did really well this year,” said David Aiello, GM. “Now that we’ve been here a year, the industry is starting to notice that Macon is selling tickets.” Aiello said the center saved the county $700,000 on their yearly budgeted deficit, compared to prior years.
Hot shows included Vince Gill, ZZ Top, Mike Epps, Justin Moore, Jason Aldean and Kevin Hart.
The operating budget last year was $1.3 million. Tickets ranged from $30-$80.
One of Spectra’s priorities when they arrived was putting together a five-year capital improvement plan. They’ve already updated infrastructure and have issued an RFP for new lighting and a new basketball floor. The five-year budget for improvements is $5 million for the coliseum, and $12 million for the auditorium.
Macon Centreplex recently won back the rights to host High School State Basketball Tournaments. “We’re expecting them back at the end of the year,” he said.
F&B is similarly picking up speed and done in-house. “We renovated concession stands,” he said. “When we got here, there were only two fully functioning stands and now we are up to four.” New POS systems, provided by Bypass, were also installed. In the auditorium, new kitchen equipment has been ordered. “This will give us the opportunity to increase our catering operation and increase our revenue.”
Specialty drinks were a hot item last year.  For Kevin Hart they created “Seriously Funny,” which was gin, apple pucker, sour mix and pineapple; Fantasia fans got to purchase “The Definition,” which was vodka, peach and apple schnapps and lemonade; Mary J. Blige guests were served “Real Love,” a combination of double crown apple and choice of mixer; and Keith Sweat & Johnny Gill supporters got to sip on a “My My Mai Tai.”
Scott Johnson, deputy director, Greensboro (N.C.) Coliseum Complex, said they also had “a very good year.” He believes they were “up marginally” and cites HB2 as the reason for the solid, if not spectacular, returns.
Justin Moore, Lee Brice, Twenty One Pilots, Florida Georgia Line, Winter Jam and Eric Church were standouts.  Guns N’ Roses played the first-ever BB&T Field concert and sold-out.
The budget is “around $9 million to run eight venues on the complex.” There were 1,100 events spread over the venues. A new $79.5-million performing arts center is currently being built and will open in 2019. The new facility is a public/private enterprise. “The city is in for $40 million and the other $39.5 million is coming from the private sector,” said Johnson.
Spectra is the venue concessionaire. “Per caps have been going up,” he said. “Beer continues to be the big driver at concerts.” New concessions include a Popeye’s Chicken and Moe’s Southwestern Grill continues to be a big seller. The complex uses Bypass for payments and Oui Vend for merchandise sales.
The complex is almost at 100 percent usage of wanding and they’ve purchased 20 new magnetometers, all portable units, from Ceia, which cost $110,000.
“We were one of the cities that was most impacted by Hurricane Matthew last year,” said Jim Grafstrom, GM, Crown Complex, Fayetteville, N.C. “We faced cancellations and rescheduling; it was absolutely the biggest challenge we faced last year.” One of the cancellations was psychic Theresa Caputo. “Of course the running joke here and on Facebook was that she should have known ahead of time and warned us.”
Still, the complex achieved their budget for the year. “We were proud of the fact that we could manage that even with many of the residents facing financial hardship and given disposable income in the market was severely impacted,” he said.
Big shows were Foreigner, Luke Bryan, Lauren Hill, Hall & Oats and Vince Gill. Ticket prices ranged from $20-$125. The operating budget for the complex was $4.6 million.
The tenant hockey team, Fayetteville Fireantz, were bought and renamed Fayetteville Marksman. “We signed them to a five-year deal, and we’re excited to see what the rebranding will bring,” Grafstrom said.
The F&B contract is currently in the RFP process; the venue has been with Centerplate since 1997. “The Cumberland County Civic Commission chose to go to RFP to make sure they have the best deal in place and the best service for our customers,” said Grafstrom. “We are looking for innovation in our products, localization, fresh, and affordable. We want to stay on the leading edge of the trends.”
The coliseum is celebrating its 20th anniversary, the expo hall has been active for 30 years and the theater and arena are in their 50th year of operation. “With the buildings being so old, we are definitely looking at major capital improvements,” he said. “We’re currently doing a needs assessment.”
Although slightly down from last year, Allan Vella, GM, Fox Theatre, Atlanta, said,  “It was a very good year. We were very fortunate with good programming and good response.”
Comedy and Broadway were strong. Hot shows were Brian Wilson, Louis C.K., Chance The Rapper, Cirque Holidays, “Matilda,” and a new eSports event in conjunction with Turner Sports. “The tickets blew-out when we sent the first email,” he said. Twelve thousand tickets were sold over three days.
Last year Fox Theatre went in a new F&B direction by hiring chef Michael Giovanni. “People are looking for upscale items today; we reduced the quantity but increased the quality,” said Vella, referring mostly to alcohol. “We introduced upscale vodkas and whiskeys and local brews.” Fox Theatre also added an app that allows in-seat ordering.
The Marquee Club, a new premium space, will open in the fall. “It cost several million dollars and opens up a part of the historic structure that revisits a terrace on the roof, a 1920’s feature,” he said.
Vella is looking forward to hosting Broadway hit “Hamilton.” Subscriptions increased 100 percent, he said.
“It was a great year,” said Trey Feazell, EVP, programming, Philips Arena, Atlanta. “We were up in revenue, up in shows; it was one of our best years ever.”
Highlights were Bon Jovi, Radiohead, Red Hot Chili Peppers and the Weeknd.
Feazell said the biggest trend he’s seen is “a lot more solid acts hitting the road.”
Philips Arena is currently undergoing a $200-million renovation project. “We’re currently in the first phase, which is demo,” he said. “We closed the building in June and we’ll open back up in October.”
Phase two, cleaning up, is next. Phase three, starting in April, will see the venue shutting down again until October 2018. “We’ll reopen with a totally transformed building,” he said. “There will be new clubs, a revamped food program and unique new concepts like a Killer Mike barbershop and Swing Suites, which will have Top Golf simulators in them and a Zac Brown-branded bar.” F&B is provided by Levy Restaurants.
“It was the best year in the history of the arena,” said Lexie Boone, senior AGM, Colonial Life Arena, Columbia, S.C. “We had more shows and great acts.”
Red Hot Chili Peppers, Stevie Nicks, Luke Bryan and Carrie Underwood were standouts.
The arena changed concessionaires on July 1, replacing Centerplate with Aramark.
“Aramark took over the concessions for all of athletics,” he said. “They hit the ground running and have replaced the technology and POS systems, and we’re going through a process of rebranding.”
Capital improvements include a new center-hung scoreboard and a new 360-degree curved ribbon display. “We did a multimedia rights deal with IMG last year, and we’re also upgrading some of the static signage,” he said.
Boone was also thrilled with the performance of the arena’s basketball tenants, the men’s and women’s Gamecocks. “We had tremendous success with our teams this year; the men’s team made it to the Final Four and the women’s team won the National Championship.”
Colonial Life Arena was awarded the NCAA first and second rounds for 2019.
Sandie Aaron, managing director, Cobb Energy Performing Arts Center, Atlanta,  said, “We did very well last year. We surpassed 2015-2016.” Aaron believes the number of ticketed events, 168, up by 13 from the previous year, was responsible for the bump.
The PAC expanded the diversity of their events last year. “We had a 3 Doors Down show and over 70 percent were first time ticket buyers,” she said, delighted. “We feel like we’ve expanded our reach.”
Comedy did well last year, as did their tenants, the opera and ballet, which each did four productions. Aaron was surprised by the success of three sold-out K-pop shows and sold-out shows for YouTube stars imomosohard and Dan TDM.
F&B went well and “we really tried to be demographically sensitive,” said Aaron. “We started using unique vendors and we’ve tried expanding the offerings.”
Capital improvements included a new HVAC system. There are plans in place for new carpeting.
It was the center’s 10th anniversary, which was celebrated with “10 years, 10 Successes: A Decade in the Spotlight.” In their Marquee magazine, they highlighted a different success story each month. “One story highlighted a resident tenant; one story highlighted partnerships and collaborations; one was on sponsorships,” said Aaron. “It culminated in September with an open-house birthday bash featuring the opera and ballet.”
“It was a great year,” said Donna Julian, SVP, arena and event operations/GM, Spectrum Center, Charlotte, N.C. “We were up.”
Highlights included the Kellogg’s Gymnastics tour, Red Hot Chili Peppers, the last run of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, Neil Diamond and Kendrick Lamar. Julian said that the “mix of events” helped them succeed, and she liked “the diversity of events that came through last year.”
F&B is provided by Levy Restaurants. “We’re always trying to come up with new things,” she said. Innovative ideas put to the test were an in-house pretzel concept called The Twist, and a French-fries-in-a-brown-bag concept. “We offered different seasonings and you shake ‘em and go.” Craft beers were also big at Spectrum Center last year.
A five-year, $27.5 million, capital improvement plan is in its second year. Last year’s improvements included a new scoreboard, two four-corner boards and two LED rings in the bowl. The center also repurposed some of the old boards and put them in the main lobby. Over the summer, they swapped the locations of their fan shop and box office. “The fan shop is now on the main lobby and will have a Jordan-brand section,” she said.
Julian is excited by the return of NCAA basketball in March, which looked to be in jeopardy due to HB2, and the 2019 National Basketball Association All-Star game and men’s Atlantic Coast Conference Championships. “Things are looking good,” she said.



On the heels of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria, we asked our Southern state spotlight venue operators what they’d grab on the way out the door, aside from people, if they knew they had 20 minutes before a flood was going to hit.

Bob Klaus, GM, DPAC, Durham, N.C.
My laptop and phone.

David Aiello, GM, Macon (Ga.) Centreplex, Coliseum & Auditorium
Pictures of my daughter Sofie.

Scott Johnson, deputy director, Greensboro (N.C.) Coliseum Complex
My University of Wake Forest diploma.

Jim Grafstrom, GM, Crown Complex, Fayetteville, N.C.
Leadership awards that I’ve gotten from the company and the community.

Rebecca Bolton, GM, Durham (N.C.) Convention Center
I don’t have anything that can’t be reprinted. I’d grab my cell phone to help facilitate contacting the rest of my team.

Allan Vella, GM, Fox Theatre, Atlanta
I’d save a paddle that the ushers carry around that says “hush y’all” which we use instead of ringing the bell. I’d also save one of the doorman’s top hats.

Trey Faezell, EVP, programming, Philips Arena, Atlanta
My signed U2 poster.

Lexie Boone, senior AGM, Colonial Life Arena, Columbia, S.C.
Family photos and some other historical industry photos I’ve taken over the last 15 years.

Sandie Aaron, managing director, Cobb Energy Performing Arts Center, Atlanta
The hard drive from my computer. I’d be lost without it.

Donna Julian, SVP, arena and event operations/GM, Spectrum Center, Charlotte, N.C.
A framed version of a quote I love from Teddy Roosevelt I call ‘Daring Greatly” and some industry awards.



North Carolina’s now infamous HB2, known as “the bathroom bill,” had a major impact on the state with repercussions ranging from canceled concerts to the National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA) pulling games out of the state.
The bill was repealed in April and replaced with a toned-down version. Whether the slimmed-down repeal satisfied boycotting acts and fans and brought back business is still open to debate.
“We got hit hard last fall,” said Rebecca Bolton, GM, Durham (N.C.) Convention Center. “I’ve heard people say ‘it’s changed but it’s still not 100 percent acceptable,’
and there are still a lot of opinions about what’s happened with it.”
During the time the bill was in place, the city of Durham used print and media to campaign that “we are all welcoming to everyone in this community,” she said.
“We had several cancellations due to HB2,” said Donna Julian, SVP, arena and event operations/GM, Spectrum Center, Charlotte, N.C. “We had to get creative. We did some lower bowl shows, different sizing of shows to make up for it.” Julian said hosting the Big 3 basketball tournament “made up for some of the losses from losing NCAA events.”
  “We respect the entertainers’ positions,” she said. “Things appear to be calming down and we’re looking forward to getting back to normal following the repeal.”
Julian credits “the variety of events” with getting them through the HB2 crisis.
Bob Klaus, GM, DPAC, Durham, N.C., said the venue “never really lost any shows due to HB2” and that “many of the shows we host felt that appearing in North Carolina and using that appearance as a chance for advocacy was the more productive response; several performers donated significant proceeds to local groups who were opposed to the legislation.”
“We had cancellations because of HB2 earlier in the year,” said Scott Johnson, deputy director, Greensboro (N.C.) Coliseum Complex. “But we were able to salvage some shows and book others before the end of the fiscal year.”
“Things are starting to get back to normal,” he said. “We’re in talks with Cirque du Soleil to return, and we’re getting back NCAA men’s and women’s basketball.”

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Curran Named Spokane District CEO
Posted: 8 Nov 2017, 7:00 pm

Stephanie_Curran_200x145.jpgStephanie Curran.

The Spokane (Wash.) Public Facilities District has named current Spokane Convention Center GM Stephanie Curran as incoming CEO, replacing retiring Kevin Twohig.

Curran has been an employee of the District since 2003 and has served in many roles ranging from event supervisor to AGM of the Spokane Convention Center and INB Performing Arts Center. She’s been the convention center GM since 2015.

The transition will occur February 1, 2018.


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Power Rangers Live To Tour In 2018
Posted: 8 Nov 2017, 7:00 pm

Saban's Power Rangers Live will tour North America in 2018.

When the staff at the Florida Theater, Jacksonville, found out that Saban’s Power Rangers Live was set to morph onto their stage next year, they went nuts.

“We are excited, and the staff here is of various ages. The fact that it’s the 25th anniversary of the Power Rangers, and we all had a favorite Power Ranger… It was nostalgic for all of us,” said Kathryn Wills, the director of marketing at the theater. “The staff members who have children; it’s interesting to even see their excitement.”

Tickets are now on sale for the interactive family-friendly show that opens to the public Feb. 17, 2018 at Comerica Theatre, Phoenix, Ariz., and will travel to 50 other venues throughout the United States and Canada. Ticket prices range from $38 to $77.50 or $169 for VIP passes, which includes a seat in the first 15 rows, a meet and greet with the Power Rangers cast, a gift and a healthy snack.

“Power Rangers Live incorporates state of the art video and technology, jaw-dropping live action stunts and amazing martial arts to make for a first class theater experience for Ranger fans of all ages,” Jonathan Shank, executive producer of Red Light Management, said in a statement. Red Light is a talent management company that partnered with the Power Rangers Live show.

The show hits the 1,900-set Florida Theater on March 7 next year.

“We had healthy presale for an event that’s in March,” Wills said, noting that she’s been marketing the show around Jacksonville in various forms, including email marketing and touting the event at Wasabicon that was in Jacksonville last month.

Wasabicon is a two-day conference that celebrates pop art and pop culture, including anime and other cartoon characters. Wills attended the event and heavily marketed the Power Rangers Live show coming up next year.

“There’s an underground market for the anime market, and it’s really grown,” she said. “To hear (people at Wasabicon) be excited that we’re bringing this show, it made me feel really proud of our theater.”

Six teens will “morph into the Power Rangers to help save cities and the world from an alien threat,” stated the press release.

“Instead of you engaging with them through a television screen, you’re going to engage with them live. They’re going to save Jacksonville,” Wills said with excitement. “It’s a stunt-filled, live event that’s family friendly.”

Power Rangers was created by Haim Saban and hit TV in 1993 and is one of the longest running kids' action series on television, according to the press release.

“Power Rangers Live, in partnership with Red Light Management and CAA, will be a celebration of Saban’s Power Rangers’ 25th Anniversary. Fans across the franchise’s 25-year history, from those who grew up with the original Mighty Morphin Power Rangers to our fans currently watching Power Rangers Ninja Steel, will connect with this action-packed, live Power Rangers experience,” Janet Hsu, CEO of Saban Brands, said in a statement.

The series is in its 24th season, called Power Rangers Ninja Steel. Power Rangers movies include 2017’s feature film with Lionsgate, which follows the adventures of a group of ordinary teens who morph into superheroes and save the world from evil. Power Rangers currently airs in 150 markets around the world and is translated into numerous languages.

Wills isn’t sure yet how the production will come together at the Florida Theater in March,  but she knows one thing — fans are pumped for the show and she looks forward to doing more marketing throughout the next several months.

“This (show) is a market we’re learning about,” she said. “We’ll reach out to more and more people as it gets closer. We’ll do more of that grassroots marketing.”





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Three Stooges Stage Show Going On Tour
Posted: 8 Nov 2017, 7:00 pm

The original 3 Stooges, which is now a stage show and soon to go out on a national tour.

The former MGM Grand, Las Vegas, live stage show, “The Three Stooges, Three-Actical, Three D's,” has been revived with a contemporary spin on a longtime favorite. 

Knight Entertainment Group (KEG) has become the exclusive licensee for The Three Stooges stage show, after striking a deal with C3 Entertainment Inc., which owns the property. The partnership will bring The Three Stooges back to the live stage for a traveling show titled “The Three Stooges, Three-Actical, Three D's'.”

"In addition to licensing the rights, C3 will be involved in every step by way of approving the script, concepts, acts and marketing, in addition to Knight Productions marketing," said Ani Khachoian, C3.

The Three Stooges will be experienced by fans in venues across the nation in a way that has never been seen before, he said. The show will include shorts and acts from the classic films, updated and interwoven in new storylines. Those in attendance will be part of the show and have the opportunity to experience real-time audience participation, including an interactive 3D pie fight. Fans will also be able to use their smartphones to affect what takes place on stage. 

The show will consist of The 3 Stooges classic characters Mo, Larry and Curly. There will be subtle changes to the show, including the introduction of women characters; one can be thought of as "Tarzan's Jane, or think of her as queen of the ape women," said Knight. In addition, there will be three women interwoven in the show, which will be extended to three acts. 

"We’re starting to schedule now, we have about 26 theaters across the nation that are expressing interest," said Rob Knight, executive producer of KEG. "We just picked up two more today that are in discussion."

Set dates have yet to be named and information of specific venues is not yet public. However, it is now known The Three Stooges is "going into Chicago and have two more inquiries in Chicago," said Knight. "We’re going into Oklahoma; we’re going into Philadelphia and have discussions of going to the Carolinas. We have a lot on the table right now."

KEG is confident in the marketing collateral available, saying social media marketing power behind the brand will point venue goers to the box offices. 

The Three Stooges live show has been booked by venues as small as 300 seats, as well as venues that seat roughly 1,200 guests. KEG has also been in discussion regarding half-arenas that seat 6,000 to 12,000. However, Knight believes that size audience will not best suit the technology and guest’s ability to view acts on stage. 

"Venues with up to about 2,000 seats are probably the best comfort zone to something like this," said Knight. "We also love the intimacy of 300-seat theaters."

“The Three Stooges, Three-Actical, Three D's” traveling tour is set to hit the road in 2018. KEG is currently taking presale holds for the show.

Proposed ticket prices are $30, $35 and $40. "Fifty-dollar meet and greets or a VIP add-on will include a real-time pie fight in the outdoor area of the venue for limited VIPs; this will include smocks and/or ponchos for participants as needed," said Knight.

Knight added that when the show hits its mark, the general average ticket price may be as high as $58 a ticket. However, this depends on the marketing that the venue has in its wheelhouse to support its regular general admissions scaling.  




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Solano County Fair Pacts With FEMA
Posted: 8 Nov 2017, 7:00 pm

The fenced-off area on Solano fairgrounds, Vallejo, Calif., where FEMA will set up shop for temporary housing.

Solano County Fair, Vallejo, Calif., has entered into a $50,000, 18-month contract with the federal government to assemble and store temporary emergency housing on six acres of fairground property.

The mobile units that arrived previously, provided temporary housing for victims of the recent Napa and Sonoma County wildfires.

Steve_Haines_22.jpgStephen Hales, Solano County Fair, GM.

“They approached us in the middle of the whole firestorm fiasco,” said Stephen Hales, GM. “It seemed like a reasonable request and we were able to come to a reasonable accommodation.”

“This is what facilities like us do, and it’s what we are here for,” he said. “It seemed like a good fit. We quickly figured out we could operate with a slightly smaller footprint.”

The government-run section will solely house mobile or modular units. “There will be no people living on the property, just the trailers,” he said. It’s expected that FEMA will have a sizable crew working on the trailers and that it may run 24/7.

FEMA moved in on Nov. 4, following construction of a fence that will separate their portion of the property from the rest of the fairgrounds. “Part of the agreement was FEMA paying for the new fence,” he said.

Hales said the venue is used to being “a good community member” and that “part of the reason we were on their radar is because we’ve been operating a large-animal evacuation shelter for some time now.”

Just this year, the fairgrounds took in close to 600 animals, mostly from the wildfires that have burned through entire Northern California neighborhoods, including farms. “We’ve had cows, horses, cats, chickens, ducks and other animals,” said Hales.

Hales is not concerned with the FEMA project interfering with other fair activities. “They are taking over a portion of the facility that we’ve previously used for overflow parking,” he said. “It’s easily separated by the new fence; they will have their own entrance from one of our perimeter streets, and I’m satisfied that this deal will not impact any of our operations. What it mostly means is some people will have to walk a little farther. I expect next year’s fair to go on without anyone really noticing that the FEMA section is even there.”

Dennis Yen, VP of the fair board voted for the contract. “This deal was born out of the disaster from the fires up north,” he said. “We have 150 acres, some of which are undeveloped, and we determined that we could accommodate their requirements.”

“My first concern was that we’re in an urban area, and we didn’t want to alarm our residents and have them think we were building a place for strangers to come and camp out in, or build something that looked like a prison,” said Yen. “FEMA satisfied us that their intention was just to service vehicles, and it will be like a big RV yard.”

“FEMA will bring in the vehicles, rehab them, clean them and redeploy them back into the neighborhoods where they are needed,” he said.

Yen was also pleased with the security measures built into the contract. “FEMA will bring in private security and no one will be allowed on the property without clearance.”

No one knows what’s going to be needed for the next emergency and we’re happy to be part of the solution, he said.

Solano County Fair was held last Aug. 2-6 and saw around 40,000 people pass through its gates. The next fair will be on approximately the same dates in 2018.


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Data and Dynamic Pricing Protocols
Posted: 8 Nov 2017, 6:00 pm

Attendees at IEBA to learn incllude Tom Hirsig, Cheyenne (Wyo.) Frontier Days; Chad Kudelka, Red 11 Music;  R.J. Romeo, Romeo Entertainment Group, and Brandon Kramer, Cheyenne Frontier Days. (VT Photo)

REPORTING FROM NASHVILLE — Pixel placement systems which collect customer preferences and capturing the resale market were among the ticketing topics explored on stage and in the hallways the International Entertainment Buyers Association (IEBA) 2017 Conference, held here Oct. 15-17.

Aaron Bare, Etix, spoke on data collection using Etix's pixel placement system. "Have you ever wondered why something you looked at earlier on your computer keeps popping up in ads on other sites?" he said. "The website you visited had a tracking pixel, a piece of code dropped on the site to track users."

This tracking pixel is able to remember where a potential ticket buyer is browsing  and what that buyer has bought in the past, Bare said. It makes data collecting easy and can be used to send out marketing emails.

The number of tickets going to other cities and resellers was a major concern of the Award Winners Power Panel, composed of Ali Harnell, AEG Presents, moderator; Jeff Nickler, BOK Center, 2016 winner, Arena of the Year; Renee Alexander, Minnesota State Fair, 2017 Fair Buyer of the Year winner; David Kells, Bridgestone Arena, 2017 Arena of the Year; and Darin Lashinsky, NS2, 2016 winner, Promoter of the Year award.

They acknowledged that the days of fans sitting at their computers waiting to buy a ticket are somewhat over. They know they can buy it later from a reseller.

A sticking point with this is that, oftentimes, the reseller will make more money than the artist, said IEBA Executive Director Pam Matthews.

A diagram produced from IEBA member surveys and given out at the conference demonstrated this. The diagram follows the exchanges of an original $200 ticket. On one path, it is bought for $200 by a patron. On this simple path, the artist gets $120 of the face value and the promoter gets $80 to cover expenses.

On another path, a $200 ticket is sold on Ticketmaster. Ticketmaster gets a $21 processing fee, making the ticket total $221 for the buyer. The buyer then resells it on StubHub for $1,000. StubHub collects $100 from the buyer and $150 from the seller for a total of $250.

Matthews said one solution would be dynamic pricing where ticket prices would fluctuate depending on location and demand.

"If a reseller can sell a $200 ticket for $1,000, then maybe we should be selling the ticket for $1,000 in the first place," Matthews said. "If people are willing to pay that much, maybe we should be asking that much."

On the third day of the IEBA conference, Matthews moderated a panel entitled "Ticketing: Incentive to Innovate." The panel consisted of industry experts   Fielding Logan, Q Prime South, Nashville, Tenn.; Justin Atkins, Ticketmaster; Jason Comfort,  Red Light Management, Charlottesville, Va., and Charlie Goldstone, Frank Productions Concerts,  Madison, Wis.

The group agreed that the current way tickets are sold is broken and needs to be revamped. But doing so will be difficult.

Creating more accurate ticket pricing is a solution. Educating fans on ticket buying is important. Fans need to know where their money is going and they need to understand that when a performance is being reported as a sell out, that doesn't mean they can't find a ticket on the secondary market.

The panel addressed incentive programs to encourage patrons to purchase from a primary ticketing source. Those could come in the forms of rewards or loyalty programs.

Ticketmaster’s Verified Fan program, a pre-registration process that removes the scalpers and BOTs, is a step in that direction. The program enables Ticketmaster to collect information on the actual fan and what that  fan is buying. Ticketmaster then sends out pre-sale invitation emails.

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Hot Tickets for November 8, 2017
Posted: 8 Nov 2017, 6:00 pm

Alice Cooper played SMG-run Greek Theatre, Los Angeles.

Celebrating 40 years of touring Australia, Alice Cooper and special guest Ace Frehley played the Hordern Pavilion, Sydney, Oct. 21, awakening the ear drums of the 4,000 fans in attendance and grossing nearly $450,000. Cooper’s renowned love of horror continues to manifest in his performances with pyrotechnics, spider-filled eyes on the drop curtain, dark visuals and creepy dolls, which lined the stage. The caped Prince of Darkness, 69, proved that he is not ready to retire as he brought plenty of energy and charisma and delivered a rock show that left his audience walking away feeling exhausted.

The MTV hit show, Nick Cannon presents Wild ‘N Out Live, has gone back to the streets and made an appearance at Infinite Energy Arena, Duluth, Ga., Oct. 28. The near-capacity crowd enjoyed the show’s trademark mix of hilarious stand-up comedy, music, improvisation and a chance to go on stage for some head-to-head competitions, which has made this show so popular. With ticket prices ranging from $35-$145, the show grossed over $700,000 with nearly 10,000 fans in attendance. Cannon’s crew of improvisers includes Rip Michaels, Hitman Holla, Emmanuel Hudson, DC Young Fly, Karlous Miller, Conceited, Matt Rife and DJ D-Wrek; they can be seen next at Agganis Arena, Boston, on Nov. 17.

HOT TICKETS is a weekly summary of the top acts and ticket sales as reported to VT PULSE. Following are the top 20 concerts and events, the top 5 in each seating capacity category, which took place between Oct. 10-Nov. 7.

15,001 or More Seats

10,001-15,000 Seats

5,001-10,000 Seats

5,000 or Fewer Seats

1) Cirque du Soleil - Toruk
Gross Sales: $6,251,044; Venue: Qudos Bank Arena, Sydney; Attendance: 67,301; Ticket Range: $155.61-$58.39; Promoter: Cirque du Soleil, TEG Live; Dates: Oct. 19-29; No. of Shows: 11

2) Eagles
Gross Sales: $3,859,098; Venue: Philips Arena, Atlanta; Attendance: 22,875; Ticket Range: $229.50-$59.50; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Oct. 20-21; No. of Shows: 2

3) Roger Waters
Gross Sales: $3,600,796; Venue: Bell Centre, Montreal; Attendance: 33,610; Ticket Range: $194.77-$42.85; Promoter: evenko, AEG Presents; Dates: Oct. 16-19; No. of Shows: 3

4) RNB Fridays Live
Gross Sales: $2,057,569; Venue: Qudos Bank Arena, Sydney; Attendance: 21,770; Ticket Range: $190.99-$76.35; Promoter: Illusive Entertainment, Frontier Touring ; Dates: Oct. 12-13; No. of Shows: 2

5) Bruno Mars
Gross Sales: $1,737,033; Venue: American Airlines Center, Dallas; Attendance: 14,820; Ticket Range: $145-$44.50; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Oct. 27; No. of Shows: 1

1) Janet Jackson
Gross Sales: $931,996; Venue: Mandalay Bay Events Center, Las Vegas; Attendance: 7,583; Ticket Range: $249-$59; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Oct. 14; No. of Shows: 1

2) Nick Cannon presents Wild ‘N Out Live
Gross Sales: $709,435; Venue: Infinite Energy Arena, Duluth, Ga.; Attendance: 9,806; Ticket Range: $143-$34; Promoter: Rip Michaels Entertainment; Dates: Oct. 28; No. of Shows: 1

3) Chris Stapleton
Gross Sales: $656,408; Venue: Van Andel Arena, Grand Rapids, Mich.; Attendance: 10,351; Ticket Range: $70.75-$35.75; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Nov. 4; No. of Shows: 1

4) Jason Aldean
Gross Sales: $506,925; Venue: Ford Center, Evansville, Ind.; Attendance: 7,782; Ticket Range: $70.25-$30.25; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Oct. 14; No. of Shows: 1

5) Banda MS
Gross Sales: $452,054; Venue: Mandalay Bay Events Center, Las Vegas; Attendance: 4,617; Ticket Range: $177.31-$57.41; Promoter: Lizos Music; Dates: Oct. 27; No. of Shows: 1

1) Widespread Panic
Gross Sales: $1,100,020; Venue: Park Theater at Monte Carlo, Las Vegas; Attendance: 16,659; Ticket Range: $300-$65; Promoter: AEG Presents; Dates: Oct. 27-29; No. of Shows: 3

2) Leningrad
Gross Sales: $496,860; Venue: The Theater at Madison Square Garden, New York; Attendance: 5,422; Ticket Range: $150-$50; Promoter: A Entertainment; Dates: Oct. 12; No. of Shows: 1

3) R&B Super Jam
Gross Sales: $447,961; Venue: Smart Financial Centre, Sugar Land, Texas; Attendance: 6,176; Ticket Range: $125-$59; Promoter: Urban Vibe Entertainment; Dates: Oct. 21; No. of Shows: 1

4) Alice Cooper
Gross Sales: $433,164; Venue: Hordern Pavilion, Sydney; Attendance: 3,937; Ticket Range: $126.81-$61.33; Promoter: TEG Live; Dates: Oct. 21; No. of Shows: 1

5) Andre Rieu
Gross Sales: $428,395; Venue: Orleans Arena, Las Vegas; Attendance: 5,717; Ticket Range: $116.50-$52.75; Promoter: In-house; Dates: Oct. 20; No. of Shows: 1

1) Wicked
Gross Sales: $4,636,840; Venue: DeVos Performance Hall, Grand Rapids, Mich.; Attendance: 54,592; Ticket Range: $159-$37.50; Promoter: Broadway Grand Rapids; Dates: Oct. 18-Nov. 5; No. of Shows: 24

2) Diana Ross
Gross Sales: $1,842,578; Venue: Encore Theater at Wynn, Las Vegas; Attendance: 12,015; Ticket Range: $295-$59.50; Promoter: AEG Presents, In-house; Dates: Oct. 11-28; No. of Shows: 9

3) The Color Purple
Gross Sales: $1,835,194; Venue: Fox Theatre, Atlanta; Attendance: 32,200; Ticket Range: $150-$40; Promoter: Broadway Across America; Dates: Oct. 24-29; No. of Shows: 8

4) Les Miserables
Gross Sales: $1,474,076; Venue: Peace Center, Greenville, S.C.; Attendance: 15,696; Ticket Range: $105-$45; Promoter: In-house; Dates: Oct. 31-Nov. 5; No. of Shows: 8

5) The Little Mermaid
Gross Sales: $1,272,383; Venue: Durham (N.C.) Performing Arts Center; Attendance: 22,034; Ticket Range: $153-$27; Promoter: PFM, Nederlander Presentations (New York); Dates: Oct. 17-22; No. of Shows: 8

The Weekly Hot Tickets chart is compiled by Monique Potter. To submit reports, e-mail or fax to (714) 378-0040.


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Etix Acquires TicketBiscuit and ExtremeTix
Posted: 8 Nov 2017, 6:00 pm

Etix has expanded its reach with acquisitions of TicketBiscuit and ExtremeTix.

Etix, a provider of ticketing software and solutions based in Morrisville, N.C., announced the completion of two separate growth acquisitions of Birmingham, Ala.-based TicketBiscuit and Houston’s ExtremeTix. In addition, Etix is heavily investing in the growth of its team.

With the addition of TicketBiscuit and ExtremeTix, Etix recognizes the opportunities present in a fragmented ticketing industry and is well positioned to expand their services and technology to more regions and a broader client base.

The ExtremeTix acquisition not only brings opportunities in new verticals, but also gives Etix a wider presence across the U.S. Its Houston-based team will increase their reach in the central and western parts of the country.

With Alabama-based TicketBiscuit, which processes more than $100 million in ticket sales annually, Etix also will be increasing its presence and platforms.

“With TicketBiscuit, we will continue to build out the company’s current brands and double down on their growth, while consolidating platforms,” said Etix founder and CEO Travis Janovich. “With ExtremeTix, we will continue in Birmingham, and the verticals will continue running as they have for now.”

ExtremeTix focuses on motorsports, rodeos, festivals and other special event ticketing.  Established in 2000, ExtremeTix sells more than 50-million tickets in more than 40 countries annually. The platform won the "Move to Mobile" award at the 2017 Ticketing Technology Awards in Dublin, Ireland earlier this year.

Etix works with 1,800 venues, including theaters, arenas, music clubs, festivals, fairs, performing arts centers and casinos. The company has offices in Austria, China, Germany, Holland and Japan.

Etix has been active through the summer, adding new staff and resources to quicken the pace of software development and foster organic growth.

Financial details of the acquisitions were not disclosed.


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Video Game Just Dance Goes Live
Posted: 8 Nov 2017, 2:00 pm

Video game Just Dance turns into live stage show.

The world-famous video game Just Dance will grace venues in the United States next spring, transforming the digital dance contest into a live, interactive, real-world experience for audiences.

The tour kicks off  in Miami, Fla., for a three-day show at the 2,700-seat Fillmore Miami Beach at the Jackie Gleason Theatre March 8-11.

It then heads to the 1,400-seat Aon Grand Ballroom at Navy Pier in Chicago, March 15-18. The show stops at the 3,464-seat Revention Music Center in Houston, March 22-25, with its last stop at the 3,700-seat Hollywood Palladium in Los Angeles, March 29-31.

Regular ticket prices start at $45 and VIP packages are $95 and include priority entry to the show, exclusive merchandise (Glow glasses, draw-string bags and VIP glow laminate), and a meet and greet with the cast after the show.

Ubisoft is the creator of the Just Dance video game, and the company is based in Rennes, France.

“We are known as a world-wide producer of video games,” said Hinde Daoui, who produces the entertainment for Ubisoft. She spoke with Venues Today from Paris and was full of enthusiasm about the show.

“From the very beginning, we have focused on creating a high-quality production,” she said. “It’s a great production for venue managers. We will bring many types of audiences. Our target audience is all ages. We knew that from the very beginning.”

The European company specifically wanted to launch the show in the United States as a pilot before offering it to other venues across the globe, Daoui said. "The U.S. is very passionate about Just Dance. If you can make it there, you can make it anywhere," she said. "We’ll invite promoters from across the globe. We’ll make sure to see which promoters share the interest and want the show.” 

The show’s host, Justin, will take the audience into interactive dance moves after they’ve walked the red carpet into the venue. Guests will then enter the “Get Ready for It Zone” where they’ll get dressed up for dancing.

Just Dance Live is an interactive show where audiences learn choreographed dance moves from the cast. Much like the video game, the live show teaches participants to dance along to a variety of pop songs. 

“The participants are the stars of the show,” Daoui said. “They will have up to 75 minutes of getting fully emersed into the world of Just Dance… to finalize their costumes. They also will be able to perfect their makeup and hair.”

The entire show runs for about two hours. Setup and teardown is by the production administrator at Stufish, which is a global architecture, design and production studio that works to redefine the live entertainment experience.

“We’ll have about 12 people on tour to help with the load in and load out,” she said. “We’re looking at how can we utilize what these venues have. How can we transform your theater into the world of Just Dance?”

Essentially, the show has one day to set up and rehearse before hitting the road again.

“We’re having a whole lot of fun developing this,” Thom said. “It’s fantastic. The whole design… it’s so exciting on how we can transform (Just Dance) into the real world.”

Tickets were first available on presale  to Ubisoft Club Members through and went on sale to the public Nov. 2 .

Just Dance Live was developed by Creative Director Kim Gavin, with production design by Stufish Entertainment. Architecture and production management is by Stufish Productions.

The idea to turn Just Dance into a live experience happened for a number of reasons, including the fact that flash mob dances are extremely popular in Paris, Daoui said.

“We saw that there was a potential for a show. Anyone can dance. It’s not about being the best, it’s about getting loose, feeling good about yourself and connecting with people,” she said. “Everyone will share the fun.”

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Quebec’s Place Bell Opens
Posted: 8 Nov 2017, 1:00 pm

Quebec's new Place Bell opened Aug. 31. (Photo Credit: Sophie-Poliquin)

Place Bell, a new arena in Laval, Quebec, has already hosted an array of major events since its Aug. 31 opening, including a sellout home debut for the Laval Rocket, the American Hockey League franchise now based at the venue; concerts by famous performing artists on tour and a slew of community-based ice hockey, speed skating and figure skating competitions.

The multipurpose cultural and athletic facility, which carried an approximately $155-million construction price tag, features an amphitheater and main arena, an National Hockey League-style skating and practice rink (cap. 500 spectators) and an Olympic-style rink (cap. 2,500 spectators). The main arena seats 10,000 maximum for events such as Laval Rocket games, but it has flexible seating configurations to adapt to different crowd sizes and types. The arena is located in the city’s new downtown area with convenient access to a metro station and interior parking for 700 vehicles.

Christiane Hemond, general director for the City of Culture and Sport Laval, a nonprofit created to manage the construction of Place Bell and to operate the complex, said the Laval community has shown “big interest” in the arena since its opening. She said the venue clearly was a need in Laval, a city of more than 430,000 people located just north of Montreal.

The versatility of Place Bell allows for a wide variety of events, including professional and amateur hockey games, concerts, family entertainment, theatrical performances, and community and corporate events. The facility has the technical capacity to host complex shows and to transition between differing events.

The Laval Rocket franchise represents Place Bell’s most prominent featured performer. The franchise, which was founded in 1969, previously played in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador, and was known as the St. John’s IceCaps. The team serves as a minor-league affiliate for the nearby Montreal Canadiens, one of the NHL’s original members. The Rocket christened Place Bell with a 3-0 defeat of the Belleville Senators on Oct. 6 before an announced capacity crowd of 10,000. On the following night, 5,800 fans attended a 6-2 win over the Senators. 

Charles Saindon-Courtois, manager of communications and community relations for the Laval Rocket, said the team’s new home “is the best place to play hockey in the American Hockey League with state-of-the-art facilities for the players.”

“Place Bell is really the perfect home for the Laval Rocket. It has been great to the hockey club so far,” Saindon-Courtois said. “First off, it allows the Montreal Canadiens management to have a closer look at their most promising prospects and to keep an eye on their development. It is also easier — logistics-wise — to call up a player when someone is injured in Montreal. The city of Laval has passionate hockey fans. The Montreal Canadiens prospects will play and grow in a real hockey market.”

Saindon-Courtois said the arena also will provide a helpful boost for figure and speed skating and youth hockey in Laval, because the community rink and Olympic rink give Laval residents ready access to top-flight facilities. Both rinks can be reserved by local teams and other groups, and Place Bell schedules public skating times throughout the year. The arena also hosts shinny hockey, allowing community members to sign up to join pick-up style games.

In addition to the indoor facilities, Hemond noted that Place Bell features a public space linked with the street that makes it possible to host larger exterior events. A commercial area accommodates an array of shops on two floors, and Place Bell is the new home of the Laval Sports Hall of Fame, which was created in 1996 and so far has 30 inductees.

Hemond said creating a facility that involved robust offerings for community members was a critical piece of the creation of Place Bell.

“It was the priority right at the beginning since there was a lack of interior ice rinks for the Laval population,” Hemond said.

Place Bell is especially geared toward ice-based events and activities, but Eloise Boutin-Masse, marketing and PR coordinator for Place Bell, said the amphitheater has proved popular as a stage for performing artists and others. Place Bell will be the site of a headline boxing fight on Dec. 16 when Billy Joe Saunders and David Lemieux clash in a World Boxing Organization middleweight championship bout that will be broadcast on HBO. The arena’s first rock concert featured the Scorpions and Megadeth on Sept. 19. Upcoming performances include such shows as Marvel Universe Live! and an LCD Soundsystem concert.

“We already have a lot of shows booked, and we are planning on having many more various events,” Boutin-Masse said.

The City of Culture and Sport Laval owns and operates Place Bell, while  Evenko, a Quebec-based independent event promoter, producer and presenter, is the arena’s manager and the driving force to securing concerts and other events at the venue. Pomerleau, a Quebec-based construction company, oversaw the construction of Place Bell, which was designed by architectural firms Lemay and CannonDesign.





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Posted: 7 Nov 2017, 7:00 pm


For decades, the basics of the convention center experience varied little for attendees, said Brian Tennyson, principal with LMN Architects. One meeting room looked much like another, no matter what city you were visiting.
“If you were at a meeting hall in Chicago, it really didn't differentiate itself much from one in Orlando or New Orleans,” Tennyson said. “You were just in this dark box listening to a speaker. You could have been anywhere.” 
However, Tennyson said, “Those days are gone.”
“The collapse in ‘07-’08 forced everybody to be a bit more competitive and also for delegates to be more choosey about events and where they would go,” Tennyson said. “So centers really started differentiating themselves. The term destination design, which you hear quite a bit now, became more of an issue.”
The challenges to creating a distinctive experience are abundant, and convention center operators, architects and designers working on new construction and renovation projects must contend with a range of considerations when investing in a convention center’s physical space to better serve meeting attendees.
“Whether new construction or renovation, convention center design is currently focused on catering to the needs of not only current generations, but future ones as well,” said Adam Paulitsch, senior associate at Populous. “As a result, convention centers are becoming ‘multigenerational’ to fit the mold of the current user, while anticipating the needs of the next.”

An emphasis on flexibility
Paulitsch said convention centers have inherent potential as homes for innovative, flexible spaces.
“The modern convention center is arguably one of the most versatile building types on the planet, and as they evolve to meet an ever-increasing list of demands for upcoming generations this point will only grow stronger,” Paulitsch said.
Susan Sieger, principal with Crossroads Consulting Services, which advises the convention, sports and entertainment industry, said convention and meeting planners have adopted an emphasis on “more flexible and unique spaces that can be customized to their specific usage demands.”
“Facilities are continually trying to differentiate themselves from the competition via physical space within their buildings,” Sieger said. “Instead of simply adding single-use dedicated space, such as exhibit halls and meeting rooms, many centers are adding hybrid, flex space which can be utilized for a variety of purposes and types of events and can be expanded or contracted depending on each meeting planner’s needs.”
Paulitsch said the International Convention Center Sydney and the Anaheim (Calif.) Convention Center both represent examples of flexible, multigenerational design.
“ICC Sydney embodies this by breaking down the traditional singular convention center building into multiple,” Paulitsch said. “This effectively creates a campus which enables multiple events to take place simultaneously, affording each one its own unique experience. The movable walls featured in Anaheim’s most recent convention center expansion also follow this concept, transforming one expansive space into several.”

Tennyson said pre-function spaces previously were employed as nothing more than spaces to pass through. Now, meeting planners are looking to make them lively parts of their events, places where attendees can gather between sessions in impromptu or lightly organized fashion.
“The idea of the one-hour speaker with an audience either sitting in a classroom setup or a lecture setup, where that used to be the majority of events, you're going to start seeing that in the minority,” Tennyson said. “I don't think they'll disappear, but the industry is evolving — people learn differently and design should reflect that.”
Ken Stockdell, vice president, convention center group practice leader at HKS Architects, said the shift toward nontraditional room sets and “blurring the lines between the meeting space, where content has traditionally been delivered, and the public concourses is an interesting trend with the meeting planners. It will be interesting to see how upcoming projects respond to this. I think there will be an increase in public concourse space as a percentage of gross area to accommodate a variety of furnishings and amenities in these spaces.”

Convention-goers’ dining expectations have evolved in alignment with general food trends. In particular, Damon Bell, senior director of convention sales with Georgia World Congress Center Authority, said, “Locally grown and flexible dining options continue to have influence.”
For instance, the Georgia World Congress Center recently opened Social Table, which features a rotating menu of Southern cuisine. The convention center also houses Southern Roots Cafe, which has locally sourced coffee, pastries and produce, and Googie Burger, which is located in Centennial Olympic Park and emphasizes Georgia-based ingredients.
Stockdell said convention center retail food options increasingly feature variety and health- conscious selections. In addition, “farm-to-table is becoming the norm for banquet menu choices.”

Stockdell said convention center expansions increasingly are using vertical construction to add new space.
“On urban sites, where most convention centers are or want to be located, land is a precious commodity, so the only way to go is up or down,” Stockdell said. “We’ve seen this happen in San Francisco with Moscone Center’s expansion; Baltimore is planning on a similar strategy. The expansion that is planned at the Colorado Convention Center is on its existing roof, and the expansion underway in Seattle is another example.

Deborah Breiter Terry, a professor at the University of Central Florida who specializes in convention and trade show management, said convention centers tend to be more naturally integrated into their neighborhoods in Europe and Asia than in the U.S.
“But we are starting to see convention districts develop [in the U.S.] that have more shopping and entertainment options that local residents might want to visit,” Terry said.
Stockdell said thinking about convention centers as part of an events/entertainment district is gaining momentum in the U.S.
“There are numerous examples of convention centers that were built in open land on the edges of cities — Atlanta, Houston and L.A. are three examples — that have taken as much as 20 years to create enough development momentum to fill the gap,” Stockdell said. “The realization that it may take incentives to accelerate this process is taking hold more broadly, and that’s beginning to change the thinking about how a convention center integrates with its neighborhood.”
Sieger said she is seeing more designs that emphasize urban planning and the convention center’s place in its city.
“This includes integration into the surrounding neighborhood to create a full destination experience for both convention attendees and local business and residents, resulting in a more seamless integration with the surrounding neighborhoods and communities rather than just a standalone facility,” Sieger said.
Sieger said meeting planners and attendees are looking for campus-style settings around the convention center, providing amenities such as hotels, restaurants, entertainment venues and attractions within walking distance of the convention center. She pointed to Los Angeles’ L.A. Live campus, which includes Los Angeles Convention Center, Staples Center and Microsoft Theater alongside retail and restaurant offerings, as an example of this layout. Stockdell noted that “ground-level retail and street-facing restaurants are increasingly discussed as part of the project planning.”
Bell said hotels play a major role in the convenience and accessibility equation. “Connectivity and ease of convention traffic is always top of mind with any organizer of large conventions and events,” he said. “Convention hotels continue to be added to the landscape in the U.S., particularly adjacent to centers such as ours. Marriott recently added 1,000-plus-room hotels next to the convention centers in Chicago and Houston, and the Georgia World Congress Center soon will be announcing our plans for a new connected hotel in Atlanta.”

Just as the use of pre-function space is being re-evaluated, Breiter Terry said convention centers are finding more value in their outdoor property.
“For several years, convention centers have been competing with hotels to create attractive spaces that are warm, welcoming and sometimes stimulating,” Breiter Terry said. “There are more outdoor spaces being used at convention centers (other than parking lots for big exhibits). Connecting convention centers to nearby hotels with skybridges (whether enclosed or not) will continue.
Sieger said multifunctional outdoor spaces give attendees a less traditional way to connect with each other and to engage with a convention center’s setting and other nearby elements.
“Rather than comprising just four walls and no natural light, the new plazas, covered or partially tented rooftops, terraces, lawns and other spaces provide a unique view and interaction with the city around them,” Sieger said.



Convention center experts are watching closely for signs of a softening market that could affect the industry.
“Convention centers are subject to several macro influences,” said Ken Stockdell, vice president, convention center group practice leader at HKS Architects. “The state of the economy generally has an effect on business travel in both directions, as we’ve seen a couple of times in the past 15-20 years. There are signs that things are softening a bit, so that is a concern. Also, the ability to obtain public sector funding for projects is even more difficult than usual in the prevailing political environment, particularly in second- and third-tier communities where renovations may be needed or are long overdue.”
Deborah Breiter Terry, a professor at the University of Central Florida, Orlando, who specializes in convention and trade show management, said “the ability of convention centers to get the funding they need to remain relevant, up to date, and attractive” will continue to be a concern.
“There seems to be a lot of pushback in many communities to the amount of hotel tax that goes to convention centers,” Breiter Terry said. “Local politicians and media love the idea of using some of the money for other things (like schools). But will they kill the goose that lays the golden egg in cities where convention business depends on the most up-to-date venues?”
Stockdell said he has observed some innovative approaches to financing.
“We’re seeing an increase in the interest in design-build as an approach to procurement, and the recent discussion of the Design/Build/Finance/Operate/Maintain (DBFOM) option in L.A. introduces an even more turnkey kind of process into the mix. It will be interesting to see if bringing this kind of creative approach — that has been used elsewhere in the world — to the U.S. market will take hold.”
Susan Sieger, principal with Crossroads Consulting Services, said the public sector often will build a convention center based on the belief that the private sector will fund and construct a headquarters hotel to accompany it.
“However, increasingly, more convention centers are being developed in partnership with the private sector to include hotels and surrounding development,” Sieger said. “Public-private partnerships are being utilized to drive hotel development adjacent to convention centers through government subsidies to private developers to spur projects forward.”
Convention center expansion projects are prevalent across the United States, and Sieger cites the growing supply of convention space as a concern for the future. She said convention centers that invest in growth must think strategically and not fall into the trap of growing just to grow.

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Orlando Venues Key Staff Help Vegas Recovery
Posted: 7 Nov 2017, 6:50 pm

The famous 'Welcome to Las Vegas' site a day after a gunman killed 58 people and wounded over 500 more attending Route 91 Harvest Festival on Oct. 1.

Two reluctant recovery center vets, Orlando Venues’ Assistant Director Craig Borkon and Kathy DeVault, director of strategic partnerships, immediately offered their expertise to the city of Las Vegas following the tragic mass shooting at Route 91 Harvest Festival, Oct. 1.

Borkon and DeVault were both instrumental in the Orlando recovery following its own horrific event where a lone-gunman killed 49 people and wounded 58 others at the Pulse Nightclub in June of 2016, helping set up and man the temporary Family Assistance Center at Camping World Stadium for those directly impacted. 

KathyCraig.jpgKathy Devault, director of strategic partnerships and Craig Borkon, assistant dierector, Orlano Venues, were in Las Vegas within 24 hours of the Route 91 Harvest Festival shooting.

Borkon and DeVault got involved in the Las Vegas tragedy after Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer spoke with officials in Las Vegas. “I got a call early Monday morning from Mayor Dyer and he asked if I would participate in a conference call with the Las Vegas mayor and John Steinbeck, the deputy chief of the Clark County Fire Department who oversees the office of emergency management for the county,” said Borkon. “The mayor also asked if I was willing to go out to Las Vegas to help them set up their assistance center. I said ‘yes’ immediately.”

DeVault was already onboard. “The mayor asked me to volunteer to go to Vegas and I said, ‘of course, absolutely.’ I was happy to offer my experience to Las Vegas; I knew what they must have been going through after a horrific event like Route 91 Harvest Festival.”

Both were on a plane to Las Vegas within 24 hours. “We went out to help in any way we could,” said Borkon. “It was a humbling experience in Orlando after the Pulse shootings. We always talked about how after Pulse we hoped that it would never happen again. However, we’re grateful for the opportunity to share the knowledge we had from an unfortunate situation and help make it a little easier for Las Vegas to start the healing process.”

Upon arrival, the pair were taken to Las Vegas Convention Center where the recovery efforts were already underway. They joined assistance command center operations and proceeded to guide the Las Vegas team through the process of creating a family assistance center using their personal experiences.

“The first thing we did was assess the situation, and we looked at what they had already set up,” said Borkon. “After a walkthrough, they sat us down and said, ‘tell us what we don’t know.’ We were happy to share what we did right in Orlando and what we thought needed to be changed.”

Borkon and DeVault met with many of the same people leaders and agencies they previously worked with, such as the FBI and the Red Cross. “Tara Hughes is the main response front-person for the Red Cross and she was on-point at both centers and the folks from the FBI were the same, too, so it was easy to get on the same page quickly,” said Borkon.

“After we evaluated the setup and logistics, we explained that there was a lot more that needed to be done,” explained Devault. “This included specifying which people and organizations should be at the table and involved as well as focusing on how to address parking, security, check-in and media, among other concerns.”
The similarities between the Pulse shooting and Route 91 Harvest Festival massacre were striking — both had numerous casualties and serious injuries and the need to  provide a safe and secure place for the victims' families to get aid and assistance was top of mind. “Mental health issues had to be addressed in both circumstances as well offering privacy for grieving friends and family away from the media,” said Borkon.

Also, there was the need to coach the volunteers on how to behave and carry themselves. “We had to explain that the volunteers couldn’t laugh when the victims' families were around and everyone has to pitch in and leave their egos at the door,” he said.

But there were significant differences as well.

“The Las Vegas Convention Center was a much bigger facility and posed more challenges in controlling the setting,” said Borkon. “Because it was a large music festival, there were also a lot more personal effects to sort through like lawn chairs and hats and coolers.”

“Many of the Route 91 victims were out of town visitors, so lodging and travel accommodations for relatives was a priority,” said DeVault.

Devault said that getting the right agencies and partners on-scene was her step one. “In Orlando we had 42 agencies involved because a lot of the relatives were from out of the country and we needed to expedite visas,” she said. “We also learned that we needed to assist people in the long term. We had people who needed rent assistance weeks later and learned that the help needed doesn’t end when they leave the center. I wanted to make sure that Vegas understood this. It’s not just a few days and close up shop.”

Agencies involved were Clark County Social Services, the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, the FBI, the Red Cross, MGM Resorts (lodging) and multiple airlines, among others.

Borkon reached out to the ticket firm that serviced the festival and got the ticket data to find out where people came from to help identify the relatives who might need assistance. “We sent out press releases to the areas identified to let the people know we’re there for them,” he said.

“Victim’s crime compensation is huge,” said Devault. “There are certain rights that victims have including financial benefits, so having someone from the Nevada Attorney General’s office at the table was very important to the process.”

One of the things that the duo learned in Orlando was to “take control of the intake process.” They encouraged Clark County officials to not let the FBI control the intake. “It was not easy getting information from the FBI,” said Borkon.

“The FBI and Red Cross pack up and eventually leave,” said DeVault. “You need to be certain that you have enough information about the victims so that when they call, you can actually determine what they need.”

DeVault said it was important for the aid workers to “keep up their stamina, eat, get sleep and spend time with their own families. The first couple of days everyone is running around and just want to do the best they can for the people in need but often don’t take the time to take care of themselves. The facility staff can quickly deteriorate and we experienced this in Orlando,” she said.

Borkon also shared that most of the cost of setting up the center was reimbursable. “Spend the money you have to spend,” he said. “There’s money out there from the Department of Justice and other grants that will offset the cost.”

Also helping was convention center concessionaire Centerplate which supplied food and drinks at no cost and numerous local restaurants which sent over food. “It’s a real community effort,” said Borkon.

11-8-17_Las_Vegas_648x418v3.jpgLas Vegas locals and visitors gathered to process the horrific Route 91 Harvest Festival incident a few short blocks away from where the tragedy occurred.

Staying at the original emergency space is often not an option after a tragedy; in both the Orlando and Las Vegas aftermath the centers needed to move after a few short weeks. The assistance center at the convention center was open from Oct. 5 - 20.

“We learned that there needs to be no gap in services when the center moves,” said Borkon, “so we stressed to Deputy Steinbeck the need to start planning right away for when the center will move to the next location.” Following the advice, Las Vegas opened the Vegas String Assistance Center in a medical office building the next day after shutting down the makeshift center that was set up in the convention center.The Orlando center is still open and plans are to keep it open until 2020.

“We never wanted to have the experience we do have after the Pulse nightclub shooting,” said DeVault. “But Craig and I now have knowledge that we hope no one ever has to have. We always said if there was another community in need, we’d be there to help. This was Orlando’s way of helping to give back. Personally, it is healing and therapeutic to be able to put into practice all we learned the hard way.”

In all, Borkon and DeVault spent six days in Las Vegas. Over 4,350 Route 91 Harvest Festival victims and relatives passed through the doors of the temporary family assistance center in the two weeks it was open. The permanent assistance center is expected to remain open indefinitely.


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Univ. of Md. Baltimore Co. Selects OVG Facilities
Posted: 25 Oct 2017, 5:45 pm

Interior of the 6,000-capacity UMBC Events Center, which opens in February.

The University of Maryland Baltimore County has awarded management of their new multi-purpose facility to OVG Facilities, the first contract under the new moniker. The deal was negotiated by Tom Paquette and Doug Higgons, who sold their Pinnacle Venue Services to Oak View Group last month. (Full disclosure: Oak View Group also owns Venues Today).

It is a three-year agreement, with the possibility of extending to five, to manage the $85-million, 6,000-seat UMBC Events Center in Baltimore, which is scheduled to open in February, said Higgons. OVG Facilities will provide management, booking, marketing and operations. Chartwells handles food and beverage on the UMBC campus, including the new arena.

General Manager Tiffany Sun starts Monday (Oct. 31), Higgons said. Sun has been in the business just under 10 years and was most recently assistant general manager of Cross Insurance Center, Bangor, Maine, for Spectra Venue Management. Higgons and Paquette also worked for Spectra at one point.

Sun started in the business at Northwest Georgia Trade & Convention Center, Dalton, after graduating from Kennesaw State. She has also worked at Ted Constant Convocation Center, Norfolk, Va., also a university venue, where she was marketing manager.

The 172,000-square-foot multipurpose facility, which includes meeting space, 5,000 seats in the bowl, and 1,000 seats on the floor, will host all UMBC National Collegiate Athletic Association games for Retriever men’s and women’s basketball and women’s volleyball, as well as provide a venue for other events, such as concerts, commencements, featured speakers, banquets and much more.

“It’s a new arena in a major market,” said Higgons, noting the significance of the contract. OVG Facilities will receive a monthly management fee plus incentive, based on revenues over budget. Higgons said the estimated annual operating budget, which is still being finalized, is in the $2-million range.

umbcexterior600.jpgThe new UMBC Events Center was designed to blend into the campus.

Design for the new arena was provided by Cannon Design in collaboration with the university and Barton Malow handled construction.

University of Maryland Baltimore County’s Terry Cook, assistant VP-finance and administration, adds, in a press release: “Doug and his team have decades of industry experience successfully managing university facilities. That, along with their vision for the new arena, are among a few reasons we selected their company.”

OVG Facilities now has a portfolio of six venue management contracts. It also specializes in event programming, venue assessments, and security and emergency preparedness.

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IEBA Highlights Safety, Showcases
Posted: 25 Oct 2017, 5:00 pm

Kris Allen performed onstage at Madison House Showcase during IEBA 2017, held at the Omni Hotel, Nashville, Tenn. (Photo Credit: Jason Davis/Getty Images for IEBA)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - "Safety, always" were the two words that International Entertainment Buyers Association (IEBA) Executive Director Pam Matthews gave when asked about the hot topics at this year's IEBA annual conference held here Oct. 15-17 at the Omni Nashville and the Country Music Hall of Fame.

Matthews said since she was unable to get the dates needed from the Omni, IEBA’s 48th Annual Conference will be held at a different location, JW Marriott Nashville, which is scheduled to open in the summer of 2018. The new hotel is to have 533 rooms, 50,000 sq. ft. of flexible meeting space and a variety of food and restaurant options.

Dates are set for Sept. 30-Oct. 2, 2018.

With terrorism and hate crimes coming into entertainment venues and events globally, safety has become even more paramount. Michael Downing, EVP, Prevent Advisors, addressed a full meeting space, where he gave attendees a checklist of five best practices to enhance safety, including:

• To have more than one plan.
• To help frontline staff identify threats by training them to make eye contact. “Those who intend to commit some type of disruptive or violent action don’t want to be noticed. By making eye contact, you can possibly deter these plans.”
• If you see something, say something.
• Show strength. “Security posture matters. The visible efforts made to protect the people and facility are important. Things like bag checks, vehicle-free zones and uniformed personnel make a difference.”
• Maintain vigilance.

Downing, who was in the police force in Los Angeles for 35 years, talked about the importance of having a relationship with local law enforcement agencies and fusion centers, which are centers composed of multiple law enforcement agencies, from city and state to federal agencies. He said there are 79 of these fusion centers across the country.

Aaron Bare, Exit, spoke about one of the new ticketing technologies that is able to collect data, such as email addresses for later marketing. “Using the new technology is a very valuable way to grow your business,” Bare said. “The software uses pixel placement. A pixel is a piece of code. By dropping this into your website, you are able to track what your user is viewing. You will be able to track what other sites they are looking at. For example, have you ever looked at a certain item and then find that that item shows up in ad placements on other sites you visit? That is tracking from a code.”

This year was the association's 47th conference. Along with the education portion, there were a plethora of live talent showcases throughout the three-day conference to provide attendees with diverse entertainment options. There were two Keynote Q&As. One was with Ice-T, musician, rapper, songwriter, actor, record executive, record producer, and author; and Marc Geiger, the head of William Morris Endeavor's (WME) music division, spoke on the final day.

Also on the agenda, was IEBA's very popular networking opportunity, Agents Alley, a two-part affair with a tailgate party and the traditional table-top set-up.

Agents Alley is IEBA's formal networking experience, but networking seemed to be taking place in hallways, lounges, and the Omni lobby between activities. Spirits seemed to be high at the sold-out event.

Also taking place were a variety of live performances throughout all three days.

The conference concluded on Tuesday evening with the annual awards ceremony, honoring those who work tirelessly behind the scenes. The ceremony featured the IEBA Hall of Fame induction of iconic artist Kenny Rogers and his tour manager Keith Bugos, storied booking agent Tony Conway, and historic venue Ryman Auditorium.

The 2017 industry award winners were: 

• Club of the Year – Joe’s Live, Rosemont, Ill.
• Casino of the Year – Mohegan Sun, Uncasville, Conn.
• Theater of the Year – Fox Theatre, Atlanta, Ga.
• Arena of the Year – Bridgestone Arena, Nashville, Tenn.
• Amphitheater of the Year – Red Rocks Amphitheater, Morrison, Colo.
• Fair of the Year – State Fair of Texas, Dallas
• Festival of the Year – Summerfest, Milwaukee
• Club Buyer of the Year – Adam Weiser, AEG Presents
• Casino Buyer of the Year - Andrew Blank, C3 Presents
• Corporate Buyer of the Year – Ron Pateras, Jam Entertainment & Creative Services
• International Buyer of the Year – Jim Cressman, Invictus Entertainment Group
• Fair Buyer of the Year – Renee Alexander, Minnesota State Fair
• Festival Buyer of the Year – Stacy Vee, Goldenvoice
• Venue Executive of the Year – Becky Colwell,  The Greek Theatre
• Young Professional of the Year – Austin Neal, WME
• Talent Agent of the Year – Adam Kornfeld, Artist Group International
• Promoter of the Year – Louis Messina, MTG

During the ceremony, IEBA presented industry linchpin Barbara Hubbard a Career Achievement Award in celebration of her 90th birthday and gifted a $10,000 donation to the Barbara Hubbard Scholarship at New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, from the newly-established IEBA Educational Outreach Fund, a 501(c)(3) public charity.

Showcases included talent from Paradigm Talent Agency - Elle King, John Oates, JOHNNYSWIM, and Jo Jo; Creative Artist Agency - Ben Rector, Charles Esten, Frankie Ballard, and Runaway June; United Talent Agency - Don Felder, Sammy Kershaw, Aaron Tippin and Collin Raye (Roots & Boots Electric Throw Down), Neon Trees, and Jamtown; and Buddy Lee Attractions - DJ Cutt, Halfway to Hazard, Sponge, and Baha Men.

In addition, there was talent from Paradise Artists -  WAR, Journey Former Lead Vocalist Steve Augeri, and ASIA featuring John Payne; and from WME - Lindsay Ell, William Michael Morgan, Randy Houser and WME Custom Allstar Jam featuring Sixwire with special guests Trace Adkins and Scott McCreen.

APA presented live performances by Hannah Wickjlund & The Steppin' Stones, Here Come the Mummies, Sawyer Brown, and Casey James; and from Madison House, Kris Allen and the Verve Pipe; Variety Attractions presented during the Tailgate Party - All-4-One, Kid 'n Play, and Rob Base from the I Love the 90s Tour.

(Editor's Note: Further coverageof IEBA '17 will appear in the November issue of Venues Today and future VT Pulse enewsletters.)


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Etix a Hit at Texas State Fair
Posted: 25 Oct 2017, 1:00 pm

Big Tex at dusk watches over State Fair of Texas, Dallas, the biggest state fair in the U.S.

A little bit of rain prompted an 8.4 percent decrease in attendance at the State Fair of Texas, Dallas, which saw an estimated attendance of 2.2 million compared to last year’s 2,402,199. But fair officials are pleased with the second-best gross revenues for food, beverages and rides in 131 years at $54.5 million, down from last year’s $56 million, said Karissa Condoianis, vice president of public relations.

“We did experience some rain this year which may have had some impact,” Condoianis added. “We don’t have any study that tells us why, but we are more than happy with 2.2 million.”

The fair also broke the single-day gross coupon sales record on Saturday, Oct. 14, the day of the Red River Showdown rivalry football game that matches the University of Texas Longhorns against the University of Oklahoma Sooners in the Cotton Bowl. Food, beverage and ride revenues for that day were $5.1 million, compared to the previous single-day record of $4.8 million, which was set during last year’s Red River Showdown day.

In its second year of partnering with Etix, the Sept. 29-Oct. 22 State Fair of Texas continued to offer more convenient ticket buying to fairgoers, allowing them not only to purchase them online but also allowing them to show the ticket on their smartphones to enter the event, instead of waiting for tickets to arrive via mail.

“It’s been moreso for the customer experience and to be more with the times,” Condoianis said.
It also allows fair officials to release fair attendance, which they had declined to do in the past. Food, beverages and rides are still purchased with coupons, which are tallied to measure fair revenues.

On the independent midway, the Texas Star Ferris wheel, owned by Tom and Mary Talley, continued to be the most popular ride, said senior vice president of operations Rusty Fitzgerald.

The rest of the top 10 rides and their owners included the Texas Skyway, State Fair of Texas and operated by Mike Demas; the Crazy Mouse roller coaster, Steve Vandervorste; the Top O’ Texas Tower, State Fair of Texas and operated by Demas; the Love Bug, State Fair of Texas and operated by Maury Haworth; Pirate, State Fair of Texas and operated by Haworth; the Fast Trax Super Slide, Tom and Mary Talley; Wind Storm, Vandervorste; the Scooter, Patrick Sheridan; and New York New York, Bobby Myers.

As usual, the well-known Big Tex Choice Awards garnered national media attention for the fair, including from several Food Network shows as well as a Netflix reality series. The Gulf Coast Fish Bowl by Clint Probst of Crazy Otto Concessions won Best Taste Sweet, while Tom Grace of TS Foodsystems won the other two awards, for Best Taste Savory and Most Creative for the Funnel Cake Bacon Queso Burger.

“It’s everything it sounds like,” said Condoianis, while noting that the Gulf Coast Fish Bowl was a tropical blue alcoholic beverage that utilized Nerds candy as gravel in the bottom and Swedish Fish floating around inside.

The Big Tex Choice Awards took place a month before the event on Aug. 27 as a fundraiser for the college scholarships that the fair offers. Tickets cost $100 each to watch the competition and taste samples of the entries.

Other popular foods among fairgoers included Deep-Fried Froot Loops, the Surf and Turf and Tater Boat featuring a baked potato filled with steak and lobster with a lobster claw sticking out on top, and Oreo Beer, a milk-stout beer with oreos inside and on the rim. “It was one of those things that people either loved it or weren’t a fan,’ Condoianis said. “If you liked that kind of beer, it was popular.”

Fairgoers could catch free concerts daily at the open-air Chevrolet Main Stage, which featured headliners on weekends and regional acts opening up for them and playing on weekdays. The popular shows included Flo Rida, For King & Country, La Mafia and the Charlie Daniels Band.

“Whether it’s on the Chevrolet Main Stage or smaller stages throughout the grounds, we have live music that fairgoers can tune into to enhance their visit,” Condoianis said.

Gate admission held steady at $18 for adults, although Condoianis noted that fairgoers could take advantage of a variety of discounts, including a free Military Day for soldiers and their immediate families. Fair officials do not release any budget information, but Jennifer Schuder, senior vice president of marketing, said her budget was comparable to last year’s, with a breakdown of direct mail, 30 percent; outdoor, 10 percent; print, 20 percent; TV, 20 percent and radio, 20 percent.

Highlights of the marketing strategy included a focus on increasing season-pass sales and increasing the number of times a season-pass holder attended the fair, with online sales of season passes increasing 22 percent over 2016, and the optimization of the email marketing program and increasing the email database.

“The fair was able to increase its email database by 72 percent—more than 120,000 email addresses—and drive incremental revenue through the program,” Schuder said.

One of the fair’s initiatives was Big Tex Urban Farm, in which organic produce was grown in more than 500 mobile boxes and later donated to the community to such organizations as a farmers market and soup kitchens that feed the homeless.

“We also have a hydroponic grow tank, which was an attraction during the fair,” Condoianis said. “People came and learned about hydroponics, and the farm donated 220 pounds of fresh produce, 108 lettuce heads and 72 live basil plants from the new hydroponic exhibit we had on display.”

Next year’s dates are Sept. 28-Oct. 21.


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AEG-run Oman Convention Centre Adds Two
Posted: 24 Oct 2017, 6:35 pm

The AEG-run Oman Convention & Exhibition Centre (OCEC) has announced the appointment of Debra Simkiss as director of operations and Ekta Gandhi as marketing & communications manager.

DebraSimkiss_200x145.jpgDebra Simkiss

Simkiss brings over 25 years in the hospitality and convention industry to OCEC. Her career took a turn to the convention business with the opening of the Sandton Convention Centre, Johannesburg, South Africa in 2000. She worked her way from senior event coordinator to event manager and then in 2008 to the executive role of director of operations until 2017.  During this period she was directly involved in some of the largest events in the center, including the World Summit on Sustainable Development, The Arnold Classic, Southern African Development Commission and The United Nations World Tourism Organization Summit.

EktaGhandi_200x145.jpgEkta Ghandi

Ekta Gandhi has over eight years experience in the tourism industry working in luxury hotels and resorts. Ghandi joined the Chedi Muscat as their marketing & communications executive. In 2015, Ghandi joined the pre-opening team for Anantara Al Jabal Al Akhdar Resort. Ghandi has a bachelor’s degree in hospitality management from the Insititut Vatel, Nîmes, France, as well as further hotel management diplomas from Montreal, Canada.


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Inaugural Dropit Auction Debuts In Phoenix
Posted: 24 Oct 2017, 6:00 pm

The DROPIT app runs live interactive 60-second drop auctions on stadium and arena scoreboards that fans bid on from their seats. (Photo Credit: Kelsey Grant)

It took just three seconds for the inaugural Dropit auction at Talking Stick Resort Arena, Phoenix, to finish. A record for the young app, said Dropit COO Brendan Howell.

The engagement-based app allows sports teams and venues to generate user interest by promoting 60-second in-venue auctions that see the price drop, rather than go up. The Phoenix Suns have signed on for a three-year deal with Dropit, starting the partnership Oct. 23 with the first of 10 planned halftime engagements this National Basketball Association season.

Following a full LED takeover of the arena at halftime, Dropit auctioned off a VIP package that included two courtside seats, access to the courtside club and a locker room tour. The price barely dropped in three seconds from the start of $3,000, going for $2,880. “It was something you can’t buy,” Howell said. “You can’t buy the locker room tour. It is a real drawing card.”

With the Dropit app, once the auction starts, the price begins to drop, and the first fan to “swipe up” on the mobile app wins that item for the price shown. The longer everyone waits, the more the price drops — but there’s always the chance that someone else in the stadium could swipe up before you. Fans download the application and can use it in any arena that has an auction.

The deal with the Suns has already moved well beyond 10 halftime engagements, opening up the team to run Dropit auctions on non-game days and, Howell said, team sponsors have approached Dropit about using their allotted in-arena sponsorship time to run brand-centric Dropit auctions. Howell said not only does the auction provide fan engagement, but it also creates data on the back end that carries on afterward, especially valuable in a world where everyone clamors for additional information on potential customers. The app also creates post-auction offers.

“We’re excited about this innovative partnership with Dropit that will help elevate the game day experience,” said Phoenix Suns President & CEO Jason Rowley. “Their unique drop auction is another fun and engaging way to entertain fans in between the action on the court.”



DROPIT co-founders Brendan Howell and Peter Howell at the Phoenix Suns' opening game versus the Portland Trail Blazers at Talking Stick Resort Arena. (Photo Credit: Kelsey Grant)

Built in New Zealand in 2014, Dropit moved to the United States and landed in San Francisco in 2016. After a professional football team encouraged the platform to place a focus on live venue events, Dropit spent time getting the app ready for the sports world, Howell said. It launched a sports debut with Major League Baseball’s Spring Training Cactus League in Spring 2017, running two auctions at back-to-back Seattle Mariners games in Arizona. The first saw a $16,000 Ducati sell for $4,000 and the next night a $22,000 vehicle sold for $11,850. “The guy who bought the vehicle said he came to the game just to do Dropit for the vehicle,” Howell said. “It is a cool activation that is bringing people to events.”

While the vehicle took 30 seconds to sell, the Suns’ experience was just three seconds, showing the varying time based on crowd and the item up for auction. Howell said they require that any actual product starts at manufacturer suggested retail price (MSRP), but the experiences can be what really motivates fans. “It is very easy for teams to provide with a low cost and experiences appeal to fans since they are unobtainable,” he said about creating events not for sale. And nine times out of 10 the proceeds from fan experience events go to charity, he said. “It is a win-win for everyone. Teams get the exposure, fans get the experience and the charity gets the money.”

Howell said Dropit wants to remain in control of the fan experience inside their app, so it has veto power on what gets offered. “We work with sponsors and teams on what goes onto the platform,” he said. “We want to always make sure fans have great experiences and come back. What works for the team and sponsors are if fans are happy, then sponsors are happy and teams are happy and getting really good data on the back end of it.”

Early in the process, Howell said fan engagement has seen a slight uptick. While waiting on numbers from the initial NBA experience at Talking Stick Resort Arena, Howell said the debut spring training game saw 6 percent fan use. The second night had 13 percent use. He called projections for the NBA debut “very strong.”

Dropit is in discussions with an additional 60 venues right now, Howell said, hoping to have new agreements within the next two months to go with the three-year deal with the Suns.

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Pollstar Live 2018! Announces Lineup
Posted: 24 Oct 2017, 5:20 pm

Pollstar Live 2017! featured a keynote by Shep Gordon and rock-legend Alice Cooper, moderated by Danny Zelisko.

Pollstar Live! 2018!, billed as “the world’s largest gathering for the live music industry,” will launch Feb. 6-8, at the InterContinental Hotel, Los Angeles, with an ambitious lineup of speakers and presenters. This will be the 29th version of the annual event, the first since Venues Today parent Oak View Group (OVG) acquired Pollstar.

Among the speakers already confirmed are Michael Rapino, CEO, Live Nation Entertainment; “Shark Tank” star Mark Cuban, entrepreneur/owner Dallas Mavericks; economist Alan Krueger, professor of economics and public affairs at Bendheim Center for Finance, Princeton (N.J.) University and author of Rockonomics; Peter Shapiro, founder/producer, DayGlo Productions and Brooklyn Bowl; Jim Meyer, CEO, Sirius XM; Neil Portnow, president/CEO, Recording Academy; Roger Lynch, CEO, Pandora; Troy Carter, global head of creator services, Spotify; and Rich Bresler, president/CEO, iHeart Communications.

“Pollstar Live! is the most important and largest gathering in the live entertainment industry in the world,” said Ray Waddell, president, conferences and publications, OVG, the owners of concert industry bible Pollstar. “This lineup is incredible. Having Michael Rapino come, who is the most influential person in music today, is a big deal. Anything Mark Cuban is part of will be exciting, unpredictable and ultimately inspiring.”

“Pollstar Live’s goal is to create the most compelling, powerful and relevant conference in the music industry,” he said. “The speaker list is growing every day, these names are just the start of many more big announcements to come.”

In addition to the wide variety of industry heavyweights who will deliver keynote addresses, a broad variety of panels and Q&As featuring an array of top-of-the-line live music promoters, producers, agents, managers and other sectors serving the touring business are also planned.

“In programming Pollstar Live! 2018, the idea is to strike a balance between the most dynamic, hard-to-get speakers in the world, and addressing the pressing topics most important to our industry, discussed by those in the trenches solving problems and grasping opportunities every day,” said Waddell.

Waddell said that Pollstar Live 2018! will focus on “the artist perspective” and will touch on all aspects of the live touring music business: booking, promoting, producing, ticketing, branding/sponsorships, marketing, technology and venues.

“These are not 2005 panels, these are 2020 panels, “said Waddell. “Our content is going to be focused on where the business will be 10 years out, not the same old panels you see at every conference.”

Among the scheduled topics to be discussed are “Blockbuster Breakdown, a Deep Dive into One of the Most Successful Live Engagements of the Year,” “Solving the Global Touring Puzzle," "Big Data: How to Turn Consumer Intel into Ticket Sales,” “Navigating the Career in Divisive Times,” “What to Do When Things Go Off The Rails” and “Women + The Road.”

Waddell, who programmed the annual Billboard Touring Conference for many years prior to joining OVG, believes ubiquitous panels on the secondary market and festival saturation have become tiresome at music gatherings, and added that programming for Pollstar Live 2018! aims for topics and speakers "you don’t typically see at an industry conference."   

One of the most anticipated discussions, “From Manchester to Rt. 91—What Have We Learned,” will examine live-event security. That panel will feature Bill Bratton, chairman, Prevent Advisors, former Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) chief and New York Police Department commissioner; and Mike Downing, VP of Security, Prevent Advisors, former LAPD deputy chief and commanding officer of the Counter-Terrorism & Criminal Intelligence Bureau. “This panel is a can’t miss,” said Waddell. “Following the shooting in Las Vegas, what these experts have to say is urgent advice for best practices in these troubled times.”

“Pollstar Live 2018! is shaping up to be the biggest Pollstar Live! ever,” said Gary Smith, CEO, Pollstar, who expects this year’s event to be the “most well-attended Pollstar Live! of all time.”

“The economic recovery has put us in growth mode,” said Smith. “We’ve been growing every year for four years now.”

Smith said last year’s event attracted almost 1,900 attendees and that this year the presale is “well ahead of last year already and we’re still three-and-a half months out.” Smith predicts that anywhere from 2,000-2,500 people will want to be part of the conference this year.

“Working with Ray Waddell is great; he’s an amazing asset,” said Smith. “We had been hoping to have an opportunity to work with Ray for a number of years now and we’ve been looking forward to having Ray involved with Pollstar Live since the OVG deal was announced.”

Smith is excited about hearing Cuban speak. “Venues are probably the strongest part of the Pollstar base,” he said. “Although we focus on music, all of our arena and venue clients are involved with sports and Cuban has a huge footprint in that space.”

He’s also keen on the speech from Kruger, who was President Obama’s economic advisor and the participation of “social media platforms like Spotify and Pandora.”

Pollstar has also released the schedule for Production Live!, the Feb. 6 opening day of programming that focuses on issues related to the vibrant and ever-evolving event production side of the industry. Production Live! will be directed by longtime Pollstar Live! associate Steve Macfadyen, founder of Tried and True Event Productions, and longtime Bon Jovi tour director Paul Korzilius, also senior VP for OVG's Arena and Stadium Alliance and Music Clubs.

“Production Live! will tackle issues critical to the professionals in the concert industry that make the magic happen,” said Waddell.

Topics such as "Stage Management 101—Cracking the Code on Multi-Act Productions," "How to Make Your Building an Easy Day," and "Regulate This—Navigating Troublesome Government Intrusion on the Touring Industry," will be featured.

Production Live! will spotlight the trends, challenges and opportunities critical to those who work in the realm of sound, lights, staging, rigging, operations, video, transportation, and stage management. Technological advancement in live event production will be the subject of "Now Hear This—Innovation & Technology," and how to keep shows safe and secure will be addressed in "Yes, Even You—The Diplomacy & Necessity of Back-Of-House Security"

"Historically, the production side of the industry has been somewhat under-served in the conference space, and we want to enhance the good work that Pollstar Live! has already done to focus on this sector of the touring industry," said Waddell.

Live Nation Entertainment and Ticketmaster have signed on as presenting sponsors of Pollstar Live! Conference and Awards 2018.

Waddell said that the PollStar Live! Conference was one of the reasons OVG was attracted to Pollstar in the first place. “We intend to make it bigger,” he said. “We want to make it the most important conference not only in live music, but in music, period.”

“The industry has never seen anything like what we will present in L.A. in February,” added Waddell.


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Ticketmaster Renews NFL Deal
Posted: 24 Oct 2017, 4:55 pm

NFL and Ticketmaster have extended their partnership in a new multiyear deal.

The National Football League (NFL) extended its ticketing partnership with Ticketmaster, signifying the league’s belief in fully digital ticketing based on the promotion of the brand’s 2017-released Presence digital platform. And along the way, it also welcomed StubHub into the resale marketplace.

As part of the new multiyear extension, which kicks off for the 2018-2019 season, Ticketmaster will continue to run the official NFL resale market, the NFL Ticket Exchange, merging the exchange into an integrated primary and resale platform on Ticketmaster in what the brand calls “the first open architecture, fully digital ticketing system in sports.”

That open architecture includes StubHub integrating with the Ticketmaster service.

As part of the agreement, Ticketmaster’s Presence software will enable digital ticketing throughout the NFL, used for every event held at NFL stadiums. Moving to digital ticketing, which includes both physical and mobile options, pushes teams toward real-time insight about where tickets are traded and who attends events. Using Presence, Ticketmaster will validate tickets listed on other NFL-licensed marketplaces, an effort to reduce fraud. By moving to all-digital and giving Ticketmaster the authenticating rights to every ticket, the future of partnering with other sites was realized with the StubHub agreement. For fans not interested in the digital experience, Presence will offer RFID-chip-embedded cards for the paperless physical experience.

As the preferred primary ticketing partner for the NFL—31 of the 32 NFL teams use Ticketmaster, while the Detroit Lions and Ford Field use AEG-owned AXS Tickets—the Presence software extends options for teams and stadiums, including more mobile and online tools for fans to view, transfer and sell digital tickets. The software can track ticket trades to better identify event attendees, information used in both security and marketing.

Mark Arata, box office manager for SMG-Managed Facilities, which includes the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans, home of the NFL’s Saints, said he isn’t sure yet how this will impact his operations, as the Saints handle all ticketing for NFL games. He noted the Presence platform has more use in team operations than for one-off concert dates.

The San Francisco 49ers’ Levi’s Stadium, Santa Clara, have remained on the forefront of technology and said this change keeps them on that path. “We’re always interested in utilizing new technologies that enhance and improve the experience of our guests at Levi’s Stadium,” said Jamie Brandt, 49ers vice president, sales and service. “We’re working actively with our partners, including Ticketmaster, to implement these enhancements in time for the 2018 season.” The 49ers were one of the first teams in the NFL to make season tickets available online.

“The proven strength of Ticketmaster’s ticketing platform leadership and their ability to deploy consumer-friendly technology to NFL fans at scale is what drove our selection of them as our strategic partner,” said Brian Lafemina, the NFL’s senior vice president of club business development. “We look forward to implementing this new model, which will set the standard of what next generation ticketing can provide with a better fan experience, visibility and customer insights that content holders like the NFL and our clubs are looking for."

Jared Smith, president of Ticketmaster North America, says Presence helps create smart venues and gives fans easier, safer ways to attend events. The software launched in 2017 and is installed in over 50 venues throughout North America, including Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta, Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, Fla., and Orlando (Fla.) City Stadium, allowing the ability to convert paper to digital tickets that allow content owners to better control how and where tickets are purchased, managed and sold. “Delivering the definitive digital ticketing system,” Smith said, “provides content holders like the NFL powerful new tools to service their fans.”

By allowing Ticketmaster’s Presence to validate tickets sold on other marketplaces, the NFL has moved toward a more open-source model than previously, but while retaining Ticketmaster as its core partner and keeping the company involved in all aspects of the ticket trade. To keep as many tickets available on Ticketmaster as possible, the company will combine its primary and secondary ticketing into a single experience.

With that, StubHub’s Perkins Miller, North American general manager, said they now have the opportunity to give fans a “seamless and reliable ticketing experience. We applaud the NFL for being among the first professional sports leagues to provide its fans more choices than ever when it comes to buying and selling tickets.”

Laemina said the StubHub partnership simplifies the purchasing process and was a logical step. Tickets sold on StubHub will first be officially validated by Ticketmaster.

While the NFL will allow other ticketing marketplaces integration into the primary platform, StubHub earns exclusive marketing rights with the agreement. It will also partner with the NFL to provide insights on customer data. StubHub already has the most ticketing integrations across the sports industry with exclusive partnerships with more than 90 teams in Major League Baseball, the National Basketball Association, the National Hockey League, Major League Soccer and NCAA schools.

Neither Ticketmaster, StubHub nor the NFL disclosed the terms of the partnerships. Ticketmaster and the NFL have worked together since 2008 and the current deal, which wraps at the end of this season, was reported to be a $200-million, five-year agreement.

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Hot Tickets for October 25, 2017
Posted: 24 Oct 2017, 3:15 pm

Katy Perry performed at Van Andel Arena, Grand Rapids. Mich.

Eight dates into her Witness tour, Katy Perry made her way to Madison Square Garden, New York, Oct. 2 and 6, where she turned her music into a visual showpiece for the near-capacity crowds grossing a total of $2.6 million. Perry is pulling out all the stops for her fourth concert tour, which includes several nods to ‘80s pop culture with a Pac-Man interface, cassettes, boombox clip art and Miami Vice colors and neon. The eye-popping spectacle also includes Perry’s favorite stage props like giant hot pink flamingos, a giant fly, and her famous shark prop from the Super Bowl. Perry, and her large stage production, can be seen next on Oct. 31 at Air Canada Centre, Toronto.

Known as the last of the great crooners, Tony Bennett, at the age of 91, is still selling out venues like the prestigious Radio City Music Hall, New York, where he performed on Oct. 6, to a packed house filled with generations of fans which included baby boomers, Generation X and millennials. The Live Nation and MSG Live-promoted performance gave the seven-decade recording artist the opportunity to showcase his gift while grossing nearly $600,000. While there are rumors that this may be his farewell tour, the native New Yorker continues to electrify audiences and prove that age is just a state of mind.

HOT TICKETS is a weekly summary of the top acts and ticket sales as reported to VT PULSE. Following are the top 20 concerts and events, the top 5 in each seating capacity category, which took place between Sept. 26-Oct. 24.

15,001 or More Seats

10,001-15,000 Seats

5,001-10,000 Seats

5,000 or Fewer Seats

1) Guns N’ Roses
Gross Sales: $6,164,080; Venue: Madison Square Garden, New York; Attendance: 41,818; Ticket Range: $250-$59; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Oct. 11-16; No. of Shows: 3

2) Bruno Mars
Gross Sales: $3,635,500; Venue: Capital One Arena, Washington; Attendance: 15,929; Ticket Range: $150-$49.50; Promoter: AEG Presents; Dates: Sept. 29-30; No. of Shows: 2

3) Katy Perry
Gross Sales: $2,618,095; Venue: Madison Square Garden, New York; Attendance: 21,688; Ticket Range: $220-$44.50; Promoter: Goldenvoice; Dates: Oct. 2, 6; No. of Shows: 2

4) Marco Antonio Solis
Gross Sales: $2,548,034; Venue: The Forum, Inglewood, Calif.; Attendance: 23,887; Ticket Range: $204-$45; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Oct. 13-14; No. of Shows: 2

5) Ed Sheeran
Gross Sales: $2,503,225; Venue: Bridgestone Arena, Nashville, Tenn.; Attendance: 31,883; Ticket Range: $99.50-$39.50; Promoter: Messina Touring Group; Dates: Oct. 6-7; No. of Shows: 2

1) G-Dragon
Gross Sales: $1,279,216; Venue: Mercedes-Benz Arena, Berlin; Attendance: 9,161; Ticket Range: $200.64-$88.52; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Sept. 30; No. of Shows: 1

2) Gorillaz
Gross Sales: $718,601; Venue: Infinite Energy Arena, Duluth, Ga.; Attendance: 9,707; Ticket Range: $97.75-$43.75; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Oct. 11; No. of Shows: 1

3) Janet Jackson
Gross Sales: $620,967; Venue: Valley View Casino Center, San Diego; Attendance: 8,004; Ticket Range: $250-$39.50; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Oct. 7; No. of Shows: 1

4) Steely Dan
Gross Sales: $416,636; Venue: Van Andel Arena, Grand Rapids, Mich.; Attendance: 5,958; Ticket Range: $150-$39.50; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Oct. 16; No. of Shows: 1

5) Halsey
Gross Sales: $359,441; Venue: Infinite Energy Arena, Duluth, Ga.; Attendance: 6,172; Ticket Range: $69.50-$39.50; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Oct. 19; No. of Shows: 1

1) Ricardo Arjona
Gross Sales: $709,826; Venue: EagleBank Arena, Fairfax, Va.; Attendance: 6,745; Ticket Range: $159-$59; Promoter: CMN; Dates: Oct. 11; No. of Shows: 1

2) Migos
Gross Sales: $638,856; Venue: Hordern Pavilion, Sydney; Attendance: 10,341; Ticket Range: $70.62; Promoter: Frontier Touring ; Dates: Oct. 12-13; No. of Shows: 2

3) Solange
Gross Sales: $630,682; Venue: Radio City Music Hall, New York; Attendance: 10,998; Ticket Range: $86.50-$36.50; Promoter: Bowery Presents, MSG Live; Dates: Oct. 2-3; No. of Shows: 2

4) Tony Bennett
Gross Sales: $593,785; Venue: Radio City Music Hall, New York; Attendance: 5,630; Ticket Range: $151-$56; Promoter: Live Nation, MSG Live; Dates: Oct. 6; No. of Shows: 1

5) Harry Styles
Gross Sales: $501,793; Venue: Radio City Music Hall, New York; Attendance: 5,942; Ticket Range: $93.50-$53.50; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Sept. 28; No. of Shows: 1

1) The Phantom of the Opera
Gross Sales: $1,409,193; Venue: Place des Arts, Montreal; Attendance: 19,510; Ticket Range: $91.78-$31.92; Promoter: evenko, Broadway Across Canada; Dates: Oct. 4-15; No. of Shows: 8

2) Disney’s The Little Mermaid
Gross Sales: $1,231,804; Venue: The Smith Center for the Performing Arts, Las Vegas; Attendance: 15,474; Ticket Range: $123-$32; Promoter: In-house; Dates: Oct. 3-8; No. of Shows: 8

3) Tedeschi Trucks Band
Gross Sales: $1,126,777; Venue: Beacon Theatre, New York; Attendance: 16,489; Ticket Range: $120-$43.50; Promoter: Metropolitan Entertainment Consultants; Dates: Oct. 6-14; No. of Shows: 6

4) The Sound of Music
Gross Sales: $945,491; Venue: Broward Center for the Performing Arts, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; Attendance: 13,339; Ticket Range: $85.25-$35.25; Promoter: BAA, In-house; Dates: Oct. 10-15; No. of Shows: 8

5) Steve Martin, Martin Short
Gross Sales: $754,419; Venue: Chicago Theatre; Attendance: 7,100; Ticket Range: $221.50-$66; Promoter: Nitelite Promotions, MSG Live; Dates: Oct. 6-7; No. of Shows: 2

The Weekly Hot Tickets chart is compiled by Monique Potter. To submit reports, e-mail or fax to (714) 378-0040.


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Georgia Dome Implosion A Month Away
Posted: 23 Oct 2017, 7:00 pm

The west plaza of Georgia Dome, Atlanta, which will be imploded on Nov. 20 after standing for 25 years.

Atlanta’s Georgia Dome will be imploded on Nov. 20 at 7:30 a.m. The 25-year-old Atlanta landmark was the former home of the Atlanta Falcons. It’s been replaced by the $1.6-billion Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

During the Dome's 25 years, it hosted more than 1,400 events and more than 37 million people visited the venue, bringing over $7.4 billion of economic impact to the area. The building has a maximum capacity of 72,000 seats. It hosted the National Basketball League's (NBA)Atlanta Hawks from 1997-1999 and Michael Jordan played his last game in the dome.  That game was the largest regular-season attended event in NBA history.

Georgia Dome was the site of two Super Bowls, in 1994 and 2000, three Final Four events and  the Olympics in 1996. To celebrate the 1996 Olympics, the Sara Lee Corporation sponsored the creation of a 1,996-foot-long hot dog. Estimates are that it wrapped around the Dome nearly twice.

“Georgia Dome was the first stadium that functioned as a multipurpose stadium and functioned successfully in that model,” said Jen LeMaster, chief administrative office for the Georgia World Congress Center Authority (GWCCA). “There really had not been a venue that went from National Football League (NFL) to college football and then turned around and did high school football. The Georgia Dome created the model for how that business could work. It’s not given enough credit for birthing that model.”

In 2010, a variety of solutions were discussed for how to improve the fan experience for Falcons fans. “One was to renovate the Georgia Dome; another was a two-stadium solution and the third option was building a new stadium outright,” said LeMaster.

“We wanted to keep the dome running, but we couldn’t reach a business agreement with Arthur Blank [team owner] and the Falcons; they were prepared to leave our campus,” she said. “Ultimately, in 2012, a brand-new venue was decided upon.”

The demolition of Georgia Dome was built into the master agreement with the Falcons for Mercedes-Benz Stadium; it was tied into the opening date of the new facility.

There will not be an opportunity for spectators to watch the implosion in person. “There’s a restricted zone, and the campus is small and compact and parts of the Georgia Dome are physically connected to other buildings,” said LeMaster.

The Georgia Dome is “exactly 83 feet from Mercedes-Benz Stadium,” which will be cleared; all the other buildings on the campus will be cleared as well.

GWCCA has partnered with a local TV station, WSB TV, to produce and broadcast the implosion live. “It’s the Monday before Thanksgiving,” she said. “We’re hoping people will take the morning off and watch it on TV.” In addition, a number of offices in high rises near the dome have sent out notices that they plan to have viewing parties.

Carl Adkins, executive director of the Atlanta Football Host Committee and GM, Georgia Dome, recalled when the Georgia Dome opened Aug. 22, 1992, at a cost of $210 million.

“In addition to being the home of the Falcons, the dome provided a solution for major events,” remembered Adkins. “One of the great solutions Georgia Dome provided was having the World Congress Center next door, which allowed the ability to grow when it needed ancillary event space for tailgates, NFL Experiences, media centers and hospitality centers.”Adkins is only the second GM of the venue; he took over in 2002 from Khalil Johnson.

Georgia Dome also solved weather-related problems, according to Adkins. “The Peach Bowl had been known as the ‘weather-plagued bowl’ until it came to Georgia Dome,” he said.

Memorable events included a roster of the biggest names in live touring: Paul McCartney, Elton John, Billy Joel, The Rolling Stones, U2, Kenny Chesney and Beyonce. Supercross and Monster Jam were highlights on the family-show side.

In 2009 Georgia Dome brought in soccer and that led to the venue hosting the semi-finals of the Gold Cup. “We paved the way for what is now the wildly successful Atlanta United,” said Adkins. “People were able to see very quickly there was an appetite for soccer in Atlanta."

The worst experience in the 25-year-history of the facility was easy for Adkins to summarize. “We were hit by a tornado in 2008 during the Southeastern Conference (SEC) men's basketball tournament,” he recalled.

One panel on the roof marks the exact spot the tornado hit. It's a lighter color white than the rest of the panels because it needed to be replaced.

"We call it our little battle scar," said Jason Kirksey, a representative for the Georgia Dome at the time.

Around 25,000 people were in the Dome when the tornado hit because the game went into overtime thanks to a three-pointer from Alabama's MyKal Riley. "Had he not done that and the game ended, all of those people would have been in the streets when the tornado hit," he said. “We were very fortunate; there was no loss of life and only minor injuries.” 

The venue was shut down approximately two-and-a-half weeks and reopened, appropriately enough, on Easter Sunday.

Adkins favorite memory is “hands down the people. The staff were referred to as ‘Team Dome” and they made memories for everyone who came here. It was pure magic.”

Harriet Thomas, learning and development manager for the Georgia Dome echoed Adkins praise for the staff. “The end-of-the-year celebration was an annual event where we’d recognize the team for the past year’s accomplishments,” she said. "The people made the difference and the yearly get-together was a highlight year-after-year.”

LeMaster said she remembered her very first Monday Night Football game. “I was there eight hours early, thinking I was there with plenty of time. Carl called me in and said, ‘you might want to consider coming in at 8:30 a.m. next time.’ He was right, things happen and it took the whole team to deal with them.”

“The building has been really special for the community and it will be missed,” added LeMaster.


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Tessitura and Addressy Team Up
Posted: 23 Oct 2017, 4:00 pm

Tessitura and Addressy are partnering to streamline ticket-buying.

Tessitura, which provides customer relationship management-focused ticketing, fundraising and marketing enterprise software to more than 590 arts and cultural organizations worldwide, has partnered with cloud-based address management service provider Addressy to streamline its ticketing checkout process and speed up the experience of purchasing tickets for its clients’ patrons.

Tessitura will use Addressy’s auto-complete address technology with the goal of reducing the time it takes for customers to fill out the forms necessary to buy tickets online for events while also improving the accuracy of the information that is entered. Tom Mucklow, head of partnership development at Addressy, said his company’s solution helps customers enter their address in a fifth of the time it takes them if they manually type their complete address. The technology auto-suggests addresses as a customer types into address fields, offering delivery addresses based on official data sources. Mucklow compared the technology to a search engine. Addressy can verify addresses in more than 240 countries.

Mucklow said Addressy’s technology helps escort ticket-buying customers more swiftly to completing their purchase. Mucklow said making the ticket-buying process easier and faster for the customer leads to more successful purchases online, because “as soon as you’ve got big, lengthy forms to fill out, people get turned off and distracted. It’s about improving the customer experience.”

“By reducing the amount of time the person buying the ticket has to spend in checkout, they become far more likely to go ahead and buy the ticket,” Mucklow said.

Jack Rubin, CEO of Tessitura, said the partnership will provide Tessitura’s customers with an important new tool. Tessitura, which is a member-owned nonprofit based in Dallas, operates in 10 countries, including the United States. Tessitura serves organizations such as theaters, museums, dance companies, performing arts centers, attractions and festivals, among others.

“We understand that the ability to get the right message to the right patron at the right time is essential for the success of our community,” Rubin said. “With Addressy’s address verification service, arts organizations can know that they have the most accurate information to reach their patrons.”

Ticket-buying customers will see a clear benefit, Rubin said.

“Utilizing correct addresses is a basic need,” Rubin said. “Thus, getting it right the first time and every time is expected. The service is a bit behind the scenes, and with Addressy’s simple-to-use interface, patrons can feel confident that their information has been captured accurately.”

In addition to helping customers purchase their tickets, Addressy technology will aid customer support staff, Mucklow said. If a staff member is on the phone with a patron, the auto-completion technology helps the support person find the patron’s address more quickly so that they can better serve them.

“Little efficiencies can make the process smoother on both the front end and the back end,” Mucklow said.

Mucklow said address verification also provides a boost for an organization’s fundraising work.

“Their fundraising efforts will be more fruitful because they will be collecting more accurate data,” Mucklow said.

Rubin said the pairing of Tessitura and Addressy was a natural match.

“As part of our mission, we provide continually innovated technology and comprehensive services that improve our community’s efficiency and effectiveness,” Rubin said. “The diverse community of third-party technology partners we work with enhances that mission and Addressy shares this ethic. Their platform is easy to use and is a powerful tool for any arts professional that relies on accurate patron addresses.”

Rubin said Tessitura aims “to benefit our users with best-of-breed services that align with and complement Tessitura Software.”

“The Tessitura Network now includes over 45 Tessitura Preferred Provider Partners crossing multiple sectors from ticketing channels to revenue enhancement, wealth screening, email deployment and marketing automation, ticket printers, kiosks and many other service and product sectors,” he said. “We and our innovative Tessitura community are continually evaluating new partners in an effort to expand this important ecosystem. Stay tuned for more over time.”

Mucklow said Addressy’s business has largely been focused on retail operations, particularly e-commerce ones. In fact, of the company’s 11,000 customers worldwide, he said approximately 10,000 of them are e-commerce-related businesses. Addressy’s solutions are designed to help improve e-commerce retailers’ conversion rates, increasing the likelihood that customers who begin the checkout process complete it with a successful purchase — a process that aligns neatly with ticketing. Data quality also takes on critical importance in both fields. The company’s clients include brands such as ASOS, Tesco and Nescafe.

Addressy’s shift to the ticketing world represented a strategic decision, because those in ticketing “face the same issues that e-commerce retailers also face,” he said, and because the market has largely been untapped. Addressy, which is based in New York, has begun to work with other ticketing firms, particularly in the United Kingdom. Among their clients based in the United States is

“In e-commerce, businesses are very aware of this technology and already are utilizing it,” Mucklow said. “In the ticketing world, there were very, very few examples of that technology being used to improve data quality and efficiency. We feel that the ticketing market is ripe for this kind of development.”


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Inverted Bowl Looks To Reinvent Upper Decks
Posted: 11 Oct 2017, 11:05 pm

A rendering of Rossetti's inverted bowl, which reimagines arena construction.

Nosebleeds no more, said Matt Rossetti, architect of a new “inverted bowl” design he said can reimagine the way arena construction, siting and seating all occurs.

After spending seven years on the design process, walking through construction and engineering feasibility and multiple design iterations, Rossetti’s eponymous firm unveiled the inverted bowl design this week. “It is going to be incredible for everything,” he said. “This thing is going to be so frickin’ cool.”

As a way to eliminate the drawbacks of an upper bowl—everything from seats that stray far from the action and the space-hogging it takes to build so far out—the Detroit-based firm wanted something different. The result comes in the inverted bowl design that places a modern twist on opera houses of old. In the Rossetti design, four separate balconies, all interconnected, offer up to three rows of seating all around an arena. These balconies can stack atop each other, up to four or five levels, with a walkway behind that can serve to host premium space, bars and escalators to travel from level to level.

“It is like a series of balcony decks,” he said. “It is certainly not an upper deck, but a series of balconies.”

And it isn’t just for small arenas. Rossetti said that they figure the optimum size is an arena seating around 17,000, although the inverted bowl works for venues looking to house up to 19,000. In the ideal 17,000-seat configuration, expect to place between 9,000 and 10,000 seats in the lower bowl and then, by stacking four balconies on top of each other around the venue, another 7,500 seats can find their way to the balconies, flexible for venue owners to ticket however they like.

“You could have this format where you have general admission for the front rows anywhere around the balcony or in quadrants,” Rossetti said. “We are thinking with the move toward a socialized setting, the idea allows (patrons) to travel and move from position to position.” With only two or three rows deep, it also makes it easy for folks to get up and walk around much easier, engaging in the bar-like space potentially housed in the rear of the balcony design.

Rossetti said the design pulls the first row of the balconies 50-percent closer to the playing surface for broadcast-quality views. The design also eliminates single-use circulation concourses isolated from the bowl and offers diverse entertainment opportunities. Without the need to grade upper bowls away from the center, the design allows for a smaller construction footprint and at less cost. Without the need for massive cranes building upper decks—these balconies all come in lightweight steel, buildable with boom lifts—Rossetti said they can reduce steel tonnage up to 22 percent with a footprint 18-percent smaller than a similar capacity venue, all with a quicker construction time.

“We wanted to create more flexibility in a venue’s real estate and provide owners with an adaptable solution for different types of events while creating new experiences for spectators,” Rossetti said. He said the idea really started to take shape as they explored ideas for eSports, but the concept works equally well for basketball, hockey or concerts. “The performers will feel surrounded by the audience,” he said.

Rossetti said they worked through safety issues and have a feature ready to employ that ensures no tumbling out of the balcony seating. He said the sightline issue was a difficult challenge, which limits the depth of rows to three. “It is really taking this same concept they did with fabulous balcony positions and opera boxes,” he said.

The inverted bowl, then, removes the nosebleeds without removing capacity and adds a new way to experience a live event.

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Sims Hinds Joins OVG
Posted: 11 Oct 2017, 8:00 pm

Sims Hinds, new VP of development at OVG, regales Bob and Cathy Johnson with his stories. Johnson just retired from the New Orleans Morial Convention Center. (VT Photo)

Having built and managed some of the highest profile sports and entertainment projects and facilities worldwide, Sims Hinds has joined Oak View Group as VP of Development.

Hinds will work closely with OVG Facilities and OVG’s Arena Alliance, focused on facility development and management.

“If there’s a venue and a market with a lot of potential, we just want to build the relationship. We want to be allowed to grow it, grow the business and build the reputation,” Hinds said of his new role. He sees considerable growth potential for OVG. “There are a lot of markets today that are very successful event buildings that, before they were built 10-15 years ago, people didn’t think they were real markets. There are more and more emerging markets around the country with significant growth in population and with the right venue, those markets explode.”

This is a reunion for Hinds, who in the past had worked with Irving Azoff and Tim Leiweke, co-founders of OVG; Peter Luukko, co-chair of the Arena Alliance and leader of OVG Facilities; and Tom Paquette and Doug Higgons of Pinnacle Venue Services, which was just purchased by OVG.

Hinds started in the venue side of the business working for SMG in 1988, when Luukko was also there. “Both Doug and Tom worked for me right out of college and we all worked for Globe Facility Services.”

“Sims is a titan in our business with unrivaled experience in developing and operating facilities,” said Leiweke, OVG CEO, in a statement. “Many of us at OVG have worked with him for decades and bringing him on board provides considerable added value for the Arena Alliance and all of our partners.”

Leiweke brought Hinds on board at AEG Facilities in 2006, when Leiweke was president and CEO there. As AEG Facilities Senior Vice President of Business Development, Hinds helped the company achieve dramatic growth.

“We feel that, certainly with our collective experience, myself, Tim, Sims, Doug and Tom, it’s a business that is a natural evolution of what we’re doing with our Alliance,” Luukko said. “We’re in sports and entertainment, the venue business.  We all have experience in venues, and we feel it is a sector we want to get into.”

Prior to his time with OVG, Hinds spent his career working with organizations such as The Walt Disney Company, the PGA Tour, the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC), Live Nation and many others. He’s held senior positions at some of the industry’s most recognized companies, including Concerts West, SMG, the Carolina Hurricanes and HKS World Events.

Recently, Hinds has worked with development of downtown High Point, N.C., on a mixed-use district anchored by a multipurpose stadium; a new arena in Virginia Beach, Va.; expansion and renovation of Rupp Arena Sports, Entertainment and Arts District in Lexington, Ky.; and more.

Oak View Group was founded in 2015 by Leiweke and Azoff to be a positive disruption in sports and entertainment and currently has offices in Los Angeles and New York. OVG’s business divisions include OVG Business Development, OVG Global Partnerships, OVG Media and Conferences, Prevent Advisors and the Arena Alliance.

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Charlotte Convention Center Expansion Underway
Posted: 11 Oct 2017, 7:50 pm

The Charlotte (N.C.) Convention Center is slated to undergo a $110-million expansion in 2019, including 50,000 additional square feet of meeting space and a pedestrian bridge that links the venue to its neighboring 700-room Westin hotel.

Located next to what’s set to be a bustling $2.7 billion mixed-use development along the Stonewall Corridor in Center City, the convention center is in need of more amenities and space. The corridor is currently under construction and encompasses urban living, retail, restaurants, office spaces and hotels.

The development is next to the LYNX light rail. City officials are touting the architecture of the mixed-use development, which will have a similar feel to New York City’s High Line.

TVS Design is the architect for the convention center’s expansion.

“We wanted to make our convention center more competitive from a break out space standpoint,” said Laura Hill White, director of communications for the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority (CRVA), which operates that convention center. “Overall, things are booming in Charlotte.”

Construction on the mixed-use development at Center City will take roughly three-to-five years to finish. Ground will break on the convention center’s expansion in February 2019, after the National Basketball Association All-Star Game and is scheduled for completion in December 2020.

“These renovations will ensure our space continues to be competitive for meeting and convention business and can tout high demand features, like the pedestrian walkway, that will deliver a best-in-class experience for visitors,” CRVA CEO Tom Murray said in a statement.

Hotels continue to sprout in the area, White said, highlighting that roughly 10 years ago, the city had only 1,500 rooms. Now Charlotte boasts close to 5,000 hotel rooms.

Owned and operated by the city, the 22-year-old convention center currently has 550,000 square feet of space, including 280,000 square feet of exhibit space, nearly 126,500 square feet of flexible meeting space — including 37 meeting rooms — a 40,000-square-foot Crown Ballroom and the 35,000-square-foot Richardson Ballroom, 43,000 square feet of concourse space, six VIP show offices, full-service, in-house food and beverage and a 4,000-square-foot Delish Food Court.

Additional updates to the configuration of the Charlotte Convention Center will allow for an increase in meeting rooms and soft spaces where attendees can network between sessions, stated the press release.

“The supplementary meeting room space will allow the center to house 54 individual breakout sessions at one time with capacities ranging from 50-600 people theater-style per breakout,” according to the release.

The convention center expansion is being paid for by an allocation from the Convention Tax Fund debt capacity that was approved by Charlotte City Council, allowing them to fund enhancements.

The Westin Charlotte hotel is across the street, and the pedestrian bridge will link the two for easy accessibility to the guests.

A Whole Foods also is being built next to the convention center, which will be great for all the foot traffic in the area, White said.

The Charlotte Convention Center expects business to continue booming in years to come. It just finished a number of high-profile conferences and hosts the National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA) men’s and women's basketball tournament each year.

The Professional Golfer’s Association (PGA) Championships were in Charlotte this August, bringing big business to the convention center and the city’s hospitality industry as a whole, White said.

Other conferences coming up in the near future include the American Football Coaches Association and the American Bus Association.

"The CRVA is committed to creating a center that delivers an exceptional customer experience at the Charlotte Convention Center,” Murray said in a statement.

Specifically (pedestrian bridge aside), the 50,000-square-feet expansion includes 26,000 square feet of breakout space comprised of 15 meeting rooms ranging from 940 to 2,600 sq. ft.; and 24,000 sq. ft. of pre-function space, which will give the center the ability to configure the Richardson Ballroom into four meeting rooms (7,700 square feet each).


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Florida Panthers Ink Booking Deal with OVG
Posted: 11 Oct 2017, 7:35 pm

BB&T Center, Sunrise, Fla.

OVG and the Florida Panthers have signed a multi-year booking deal for all programming at the BB&T Center, Sunrise, Fla.

Peter Luukko, co-chair of the Arena Alliance and leader of the newly-announced OVG Facilities who is also governor for that National Hockey League team, said the deal takes the relationship between OVG and the Panthers to a new level and keeps him directly involved with team owner Vincent Viola and his arena.

BB&T Center is also a founding member of OVG’s Arena Alliance, a consortium of 30 major arenas, in which OVG takes a supportive, influencer role in multiple business platforms, including sponsorships.

“This deal gives me another opportunity to work directly with Matt (Caldwell, Panthers president and CEO),” Luukko said, noting that this is the only Arena Alliance member involved with OVG Facilities. Other Arena Alliance members have similar booking agreements, but with other providers, including Live Nation and AEG.

KGrove200.jpgKevin Grove

The booking agreement means OVG Facilities will take the lead in booking the 20,000-seat arena and that Kevin Grove, director of booking there, becomes an OVG employee. Grove joined BB&T Arena as VP of event programming in August of 2013, shortly before Viola bought the team and brought in Luukko. Grove started in the business with former promoter Brass Ring Productions in Michigan.

“Right after I moved here, we got new ownership,” Grove said. “It’s been a great four years.”

The arena averages 65 concerts and events annually, of which 24 are major concerts. OVG’s Arena Alliance, working with Live Nation, was instrumental in several of those, including John Mayer and Bon Jovi, Grove said.

OVG Facilities was announced today, along with this booking deal and the hiring of Sims Hinds (see other story) and currently includes six full management contracts as a result of acquisition of Pinnacle Venue Services.

The invitation-only Arena Alliance is comprised of 30 of the foremost arenas in North America, including Madison Square Garden, New York; Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia; United Center, Chicago, and The Forum on Los Angeles.

Since opening in 1998, the BB&T Center has become one of the nation's top arenas and has played host to the world's top touring artists and entertainment attractions. OVG will work closely with promoters, agents, and event producers to further advance BB&T Center's position as the premier sports and entertainment destination in South Florida.

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Big E Exceeds the 1.5-Million Mark
Posted: 11 Oct 2017, 7:00 pm

The Big E, West Springfield, Mass., parade on Special Olympics Day.

Attendance continues to climb at the Eastern States Exposition, West Springfield, Mass., breaking the 1.5 million mark for the first time and besting the previous record of 1,498,605 in 2014.

The final number, 1,525,553, bests that mark by 1.8 percent and is also 7.6 percent higher than last year’s 1,418,042 achieved during the event’s centennial celebration, which experienced some rain.

For this year’s Big E, which took place Sept. 15 to Oct. 1, the weather actually started out hotter than usual, so the numbers surprised CEO Gene Cassidy. “Between the 23rd and the 27th, for six days, the temperature was above 92 degrees, and one day the heat index was 104.”

And still, on the middle Saturday of the fair, 172,000 people attended and, on the second Monday, there were 77,000 fairgoers on the grounds. “It was huge for a Monday and it was extraordinarily hot,” Cassidy said.

Cassidy, in his current role at The Big E since 2012, has been working to build attendance. “It’s my goal to keep the admission price steady where it is for the foreseeable future,” he said. “If I can build volume, and I’ve been able to do that, we don’t have to raise admission.”

He estimates that the current gate admission prices of $15 for adults and $12 for ages 6 to 12 have been in place since the early 2000s. Ages 5 and under are free and the price for senior citizens is $12. About 80 percent of the patrons who purchased 100,000 $8 tickets in a June flash sale took advantage of them, Cassidy added, for a 20 percent breakage.

“I don’t think the flash sale interrupted the full-price admission at all,” Cassidy said. “It increases the per cap on the ticket sold. I stole the idea from the Wisconsin State Fair. It was a marvelous idea.”

Cassidy believes The Big E is drawing more fairgoers through a smart mix of entertainment and exhibits. Two casinos about 70 miles away in Connecticut made it difficult to get musical artists because of radius-clause restrictions put on the acts there. “What we did is we looked at mid-range names, mid-range talent, and we bought more of them and showed them more frequently,” Cassidy said. “In doing so, it caused more people to want to be at the fair more than once.”

The Big E has two primary concert venues, the 6,300-seat Xfinity Arena and the 2,200-seat Court of Honor Stage.

Playing the Xfinity Arena were Grand Funk Railroad, Cole Swindell, For King & Country, country singer Cam, Smash Mouth, Night Ranger and the TwinE Country Fest. The latter was a new idea, an all-day event featuring a slate of country acts like Granger Smith featuring Earl Dibbles Jr., Parmalee, The Cadillac Three, Lindsay Ell and Jenny Tolman.

“There was one day it rained at the fair and, and even though it rained, we had almost 130,000 at that TwinE Festival,” Cassidy said. “It was quite a draw. People wanted to be at the fair.”
The TwinE Festival featured its own food service, dubbed Tacos and Tequila. The event cost $29 and included gate admission. All of the Xfinity Arena acts were well received, Cassidy said, especially Swindell, who sold out.

The Court of Honor Stage featured a large variety of free entertainment, and some acts performed more than one show. Acts on that stage included Vintage Trouble, Martin Sexton Trio, The Steve Augeri Band, Village People, Gary Puckett & The Union Gap, The Sugarhill Gang, Sheila E., The Lovin’ Spoonful, and the very popular bagpipe band, Red Hot Chili Pipers. “We had tremendous crowds at that concert,” Cassidy said.

Well patronized exhibits included “Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel: The Exhibition,” which was set up in a commercial building. That drew bus tours of attendees, Cassidy said. Also popular was “Eastern States Exposition: A Walk Through History,” which featured a lot of memorabilia that had been collected for last year’s centennial fair. “People really enjoyed spending time in that location,” Cassidy said.

The Big E also is the site of 25 parades, including 17 Mardi Gras parades—one each day of the fair—plus eight additional parades without the Mardi Gras floats.

Budget for the musical acts, the exhibits and the parades was about $2.1-$2.2 million, Cassidy said. Budget for the entire fair is nearly $20 million, he added.

Farmland, Ind.-based North American Midway Entertainment (NAME) provided 50 rides for The Big E’s midway, said Greg Chiecko, director of sales. Chiecko estimated ridership was up even more than attendance, about 11 percent.

“I think the weather had a lot to do with it,” he said. “We had very little rain. Even sometimes, when it’s busy, if there is rain, it impacts us more than the fair, but we didn’t have a lot of rain this year.”

The only new ride was a popular coaster, the BulletTrain. Other popular rides were the giant wheel and the Matterhorn, Chiecko said.

Wristbands cost $30 at the gate or $28 in advance and could be used Monday through Friday, Chiecko said. Ride coupons came in different configurations, but the most popular was 55 units for $60. Rides generally require three to six coupons, although some of them take eight, he added.

New in marketing this year was a TV and Internet ad that included an animated bird character named Chick-E. “The chick is a cute illustration,” said Noreen Tassinari, director of marketing. “It’s also versatile. At one point, we created a rocker chick. It’s got spiky hair.” Chick-E came in different looks, including one with Mardi Gras beads and another dressed up as a parade marshal.

The fair spent a little more on social media than in the past, making use of Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram, Tassinari said. Fair officials also posted live from the event each day. A person would be interviewed each time, and the host would monitor social media, offering tickets to the first person who messaged in. “That was very well-received,” Tassinari said.

The breakdown of advertising was print, 8 percent; radio, 35 percent; online, 15 percent; and out-of-home, such as billboards and bus shelters, 15 percent.
Popular foods at this year’s fair included Deep Fried Holy Cannoli, which is exactly what it sounds like; the Flatliner Burger, which included two patties, cheese, bacon, French fries and chili; and the Tots-A-Lot, a chicken “tot” pie with nachos, Tassinari. That dish won The Big E’s Big Eats Competition, voted on by fairgoers through Facebook and announced at the end of the fair.

It also was the third year for The Big E App, which helped fairgoers navigate the fair and all its offerings. “It’s quite popular,” Tassinari said. “We promote it through social and traditional vehicles.”

Next year’s dates are Sept. 16 to Oct. 2.

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OVG Buys Pinnacle, Launches Management Arm
Posted: 11 Oct 2017, 6:00 pm

OVG has bought Pinnacle Venue Services and rebrand it OVG Facilities. 

In a move that further expands Oak View Group’s footprint in the venue business, OVG has purchased three-year-old Pinnacle Venue Services from Tom Paquette and Doug Higgons and rebranded it OVG Facilities.

paquette200.jpgTom Paquette

Pinnacle Venue Services brings six management contracts and a thriving security and operation assessment business to OVG. Peter Luukko, who is co-chair of OVG’s Arena Alliance, will head OVG Facilities. Sims Hinds (see separate story), has been brought on board as SVP of Business Development for OVG Facilities. Paquette and Higgons become SVPs of OVG Facilities.

All four industry veterans have a long history of working together in private management of venues, including stints with SMG, Globe Facility Services and Spectra Venue Management.

Scott Anderson, who joined Pinnacle Venue Services after years as security chief for the San Antonio Spurs of the National Basketball Association, where Paquette also worked, will now work with Prevent Advisors, the security and crowd management division of OVG.

Doug_Higgons1.jpgDoug Higgons

Pinnacle Venue Services full management clients include Seminole Theatre, Homestead, Fla., a 425-seat theater with 2,000 sq. ft. of meeting space; Kovalchick Complex at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, including a 5,000-seat arena; 632-seat theater, and 23,000 sq. ft. conference space; Watsco Center (formerly BankUnited Center) at the University of Miami, an 8,000-seat arena with 26,000 sq. ft. of trade show and banquet space; Two Rivers Convention Center, Grand Junction, Colo., 23,000 sq. ft. of meeting and exhibit space; Avalon Theater, also in Grand Junction, 1,100 seats; and Birch Run (Mich.) Expo Center, a 109,000-sq.-ft. multipurpose facility.

They also have event booking agreements with AT&T Performing Arts Center, Dallas; Bob Carpenter Center at the University of Delaware, and Las Colonias Park Amphitheater, also in Grand Junction, Colo., and are consulting on new construction projects with several cities, including Norfolk, Va.

Security and operations assessments is a “real growth area for us,” Paquette told Venues Today, which is also owned by Oak View Group. “We coordinate security for all NBA (National Basketball Association) overseas games, and have done so almost since the beginning. Scott Anderson, director of security in San Antonio, is really good and he was our first hire.”

“Then they hired us to do venue assessment of all NBA venues, security and operations. Now we do security coordination and management for All Star Weekend, the NBA finals and the draft.”

That grew to include National Hockey League venues for security assessments this year, Paquette added. “We did half the league this year, and are doing the other half next year.”

Major League Baseball and National Football League venues have also sought venue assessment, booking, consulting and strategic planning services from Pinnacle.

Paquette and Doug Higgons launched Pinnacle in November 2014. Both have more than 25 years of experience in venue management and both worked for Luukko at other points in their careers. Paquette recalled the day Comcast Spectacor, where Luukko was president of venue operations, bought Mich Sauers’ Globe Facility Services, and launched Global Spectrum, which has become Spectra Venue Management. Paquette and Higgons were working for Sauers at the time. It is déjà vu for the entire group.

“It’s a small industry. We are really excited,” Paquette said. “We were not for sale nor did Doug and I ever discuss being for sale. When we were approached by Oak View, they had such unique and strong assets and vision, it was hard not to get excited about being part of something like that.”

Venue management is “a business we’re very familiar with and really enjoy,” Luukko said. “Any good organization is as good as its people. Tom and Doug are two seasoned veterans of the business, they have some accounts, and it’s a good way to accelerate the growth of OVG Facilities.”

OVG Facilities will be a different model from OVG’s Arena Alliance. “We support the facilities in our Alliance, clients who are obviously very sophisticated and run their facilities very well. In OVG Facilities, we’ll be directly managing and booking facilities, it’s full management,” Luukko said.

That said, the go-forth plan is to be “very flexible. We will create agreements based on the needs of a venue, whether it’s leases, guarantees, or just booking fees; we’re not closed-minded. We’re open to the needs of the client,” Luukko said.

That resonates with Tim Leiweke, CEO of Oak View Group, who founded another facility management firm, AEG Facilities, with a similar mission in his previous career. “OVG has been committed to facility management since day 1 and our goal is to build the biggest facility management company in the world,” Leiweke said in a statement. “We take a 360-approach to facility management and when you combine our ground game, assets and relationships, and add to that Peter’s leadership, we feel we’re poised to do big things.”

OVG clearly has a robust pipeline of projects and deals, and the opportunity for growth in this space is huge, Luukko added.

OVG, founded by Leiweke and mega-manager Irving Azoff in 2015, currently boasts 30 major arenas in its Arena Alliance; Prevent Advisors security consulting division; OVG Global Partnerships (formerly called Narrative Partners) specializing in sponsorship; OVG Media and Conferences, which includes Pollstar and Pollstar Live and Venues Today and VenuesNow; and OVG Business Development.

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Maglione Returns To Consultancy Practice
Posted: 11 Oct 2017, 6:00 pm

Fred_Maglione_200x148.jpgFred Maglione.

Ticket industry veteran Fred Maglione is leaving TopTix/SeatGeek and re-launching his consulting practice.

Maglione has over 40 years' experience working with various organizations in the live sports and entertainment business. In addition to TopTix, Maglione is the former CEO of Comcast Spectacor subsidiary New Era Tickets and FanOne Marketing, and held senior management roles, both domestically and internationally, with, Select Technologies, Globe Information Systems and the Philadelphia 76ers.

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Sensory Kits Aid Venue Visitors
Posted: 11 Oct 2017, 6:00 pm

Sensory kits are now available at Staples Center, Los Angeles, and other venues to aid autistic and PTSD visitors.

Staples Center, Los Angeles, has teamed up with Life is Washable Inc., to take a big step in seeing that their guests are able to enjoy events more comfortably and navigate their venue without a problem. 

Sensory kits will now be available to all Staples Center guests who are in need of assistance during their visit to the venue. 

The bright lights, loud noises, and large numbers of guests at events can make it difficult for some to enjoy the events. Sensory kits will allow individuals with Autism, Dementia, or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), among other ailments, to experience an event without issue. 

"We’ve found these kits were a great way for us to implement an additional benefit for our guests,” said Danielle Edouarde, vice president of guest services & security at Staples Center. “It makes their experience a little more comfortable, while not removing them from the entire situation of being at a live event either with their family or with friends."

Sensory kits are given out free of charge and are designed to support individuals of all ages with sensory needs. Each kit includes a drawstring handbag, noise reducing earmuff and earplugs, anti-glare glasses, sensory fidget toys, identification wristbands, stickers and cards, sanitizing wipes, a venue map and event schedule and a communication card. 

"The communication card that’s in there was developed by a speech and language pathologist," said Jen O'Brien, executive director at Life is Washable Inc. "It’s not just for someone with sensory needs. It can be used for someone who doesn’t speak English, or is having a difficult time communicating." 

The wristbands in the sensory kit can depict the location of the user's family and include a contact number in case the user is lost or separated from their family. Identification stickers can be used to alert attendees and employees of the individual's disabilities, or difficulties they may have while in the venue.

Staples Center first looked to improve the experience of guests after receiving feedback from event goers. Some asked for quiet spaces where they can take a break from the loudness and bright lights of events, according to Edouarde. Staff didn't want guests to miss parts of any events and after doing research in an attempt to find a solution, they partnered with Life is Washable Inc., who was able to assist with the issue.

"One of the things we learn from guests is that they just want to feel included in the event and not like they have to be separated in order to feel comfortable in the venue," said Amber Watts, director of guest services at Staples Center. 

Staples Center is the first venue in Southern California to implement sensory kits. Across the nation, there are currently 12 venues that offer the kits, with the smallest seating 350 guests and the largest seating 33,000. Sensory kits are currently in the Carrier Dome, Syracuse, N.Y., as well as Capital One Center, Washington, D.C. The Minnesota Wild, who play in Xcel Energy Arena, St. Paul, has also expressed interest in the kits, according to O'Brien. 

This marks the third year that Life is Washable Inc., has offered sensory kits. Due to their growing popularity among guests and employees, the kits look to be around for a while. 

"We’ve gotten great feedback; we’ve already had people use our kits," said Edouarde. "People find that these kits are a great way for them to enjoy the event." 




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Hot Tickets for October 10, 2017
Posted: 10 Oct 2017, 6:05 pm

Alejandra Guzman and Gloria Trevi have been making their mark at venues across the world with the first shared tour by the Mexican singers. On Sept 30, they made a stop at Infinite Energy Arena, Duluth, Ga., entertaining a crowd of 6,400 and, with ticket prices ranging from $45-$150, grossed nearly $600,000.

After a media-driven rivalry between the two artists stirred up controversy, the two Latin music divas decided to combine their talents and hit the road on a Verses World tour. Fans who attend an Alejandra Guzman vs. Gloria Trevi show are treated to a 14-piece orchestra, four back-up singers, two trumpets and a saxophone while the music icons take turns singing a variety of their international hit songs. The legendary artists will be taking their tour to Mexico in November.

The 2017, star-studded iHeart Music Festival returned to the Strip for the seventh straight year rocking the T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas, Sept. 22-23, providing the crowds with more than 30 performances and 15 hours of live music. The two-day concert grossed over $5.3 million, and the venue was packed with a crowd of 27,000. Fans who attended the show saw artists like Pink, The Weeknd, Harry Styles, Chris Stapleton, Coldplay and Miley Cyrus command the stage and bring their hits to the two-day event. Some artists took the opportunity to introduce some of their new music, while others bonded backstage and talked future collaborations. Concertgoers who attended the festival have been hitting social media sharing their favorite moments and listing the artists they would like to see featured at the 2018 iHeart Music Festival.

HOT TICKETS is a weekly summary of the top acts and ticket sales as reported to VT PULSE. Following are the top 20 concerts and events, the top 5 in each seating capacity category, which took place between Sept. 12-Oct. 10.

15,001 or More Seats

10,001-15,000 Seats

5,001-10,000 Seats

5,000 or Fewer Seats

1) iHeart Radio Music Festival
Gross Sales: $5,354,577; Venue: T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas; Attendance: 27,437; Ticket Range: $822.50-$86.75; Promoter: iHeart Radio; Dates: Sept. 22-23; No. of Shows: 2

2) Coldplay
Gross Sales: $2,063,849; Venue: Rose Quarter, Portland, Ore.; Attendance: 14,304; Ticket Range: $225-$29.50; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Oct. 2; No. of Shows: 1

Gross Sales: $1,549,342; Venue: Qudos Bank Arena, Sydney; Attendance: 8,481; Ticket Range: $774.55-$77.53; Promoter: CJ E&M, TEG Live; Dates: Sept. 22; No. of Shows: 1

4) The Weeknd
Gross Sales: $1,304,635; Venue: Oracle Arena, Oakland, Calif.; Attendance: 12,065; Ticket Range: $167.38-$37.86; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Oct. 9; No. of Shows: 1

5) Roger Waters
Gross Sales: $1,184,484; Venue: Times Union Center, Albany, N.Y.; Attendance: 11,661; Ticket Range: $196.50-$52; Promoter: Concerts West; Dates: Sept. 23; No. of Shows: 1

1) Ariana Grande
Gross Sales: $1,002,818; Venue: Brisbane (Australia) Entertainment Centre; Attendance: 10,604; Ticket Range: $118.51-$78.97; Promoter: Live Nation Australasia; Dates: Sept. 12; No. of Shows: 1

2) Gloria Trevi vs Alejandra Guzman
Gross Sales: $582,171; Venue: Infinite Energy Arena, Duluth, Ga.; Attendance: 6,391; Ticket Range: $149-$45; Promoter: Zamora Entertainment; Dates: Sept. 30; No. of Shows: 1

3) WWE Live
Gross Sales: $470,590; Venue: Brisbane (Australia) Entertainment Centre; Attendance: 6,446; Ticket Range: $280.64-$51.38; Promoter: TEG Dainty; Dates: Sept. 16; No. of Shows: 1

4) LED - Tramps Like Us
Gross Sales: $412,500; Venue: Valley View Casino Center, San Diego; Attendance: 7,500; Ticket Range: $59; Promoter: LED Presents; Dates: Sept. 23; No. of Shows: 1

5) B2Run
Gross Sales: $167,615; Venue: Hallenstadion, Zurich; Attendance: 3,000; Ticket Range: $61.05-$50.70; Promoter: InfrontRingier Sports & Entertainment; Dates: Sept. 14; No. of Shows: 1

1) Katy Perry
Gross Sales: $1,704,881; Venue: Mohegan Sun Arena, Uncasville, Conn.; Attendance: 6,334; Ticket Range: $507-$50; Promoter: In-house, CAA; Dates: Sept. 21; No. of Shows: 1

2) Bob Seger
Gross Sales: $753,850; Venue: Mohegan Sun Arena, Uncasville, Conn.; Attendance: 7,502; Ticket Range: $105-$85; Promoter: In-house, ICM; Dates: Sept. 16; No. of Shows: 1

3) Tina Arena
Gross Sales: $586,715; Venue: ICC Sydney Theatre; Attendance: 5,165; Ticket Range: $157.55-$94.30; Promoter: New World Artists; Dates: Sept. 23; No. of Shows: 1

4) Nick Cannon presents Wild ‘N Out Live
Gross Sales: $540,580; Venue: CFE Arena, Orlando, Fla.; Attendance: 7,324; Ticket Range: $140-$30; Promoter: Rip Michaels Entertainment; Dates: Sept. 23; No. of Shows: 1

5) Halsey
Gross Sales: $484,874; Venue: Mohegan Sun Arena, Uncasville, Conn.; Attendance: 5,566; Ticket Range: $450-$59; Promoter: In-house, Paradigm; Dates: Sept. 29; No. of Shows: 1

1) The King and I
Gross Sales: $1,726,425; Venue: Fox Theatre, Atlanta; Attendance: 30,303; Ticket Range: $150-$30; Promoter: Broadway Across America; Dates: Sept. 26-Oct. 1; No. of Shows: 8

2) Circus 1903
Gross Sales: $1,052,852; Venue: Durham (N.C.) Performing Arts Center; Attendance: 19,831; Ticket Range: $167-$32; Promoter: PFM, Nederlander Presentations (New York); Dates: Sept. 26-Oct. 1; No. of Shows: 8

3) Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
Gross Sales: $633,459; Venue: David A. Straz, Jr. Center for the Performing Arts, Tampa, Fla.; Attendance: 8,804; Ticket Range: $135-$45; Promoter: Innovation Arts & Entertainment; Dates: Sept. 29-Oct. 1; No. of Shows: 4

4) Hillary Clinton
Gross Sales: $294,514; Venue: Broward Center for the Performing Arts, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; Attendance: 2,614; Ticket Range: $375-$50; Promoter: In-house; Dates: Oct. 3; No. of Shows: 1

5) Grand Rapids Symphony
Gross Sales: $238,061; Venue: DeVos Performance Hall, Grand Rapids, Mich.; Attendance: 4,263; Ticket Range: $94-$18; Promoter: Grand Rapids Symphony; Dates: Sept. 29-30; No. of Shows: 3

The Weekly Hot Tickets chart is compiled by Monique Potter. To submit reports, e-mail or fax to (714) 378-0040.


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Posted: 10 Oct 2017, 3:00 pm

The interview to talk about the 20th anniversary of Ames, Iowa-based VenuWorks with company president and founder Steve Peters takes place appropriately enough as he is driving to one of his managed venues in Topeka, Kan. For a company that has built its portfolio and reputation in overseeing secondary and tertiary markets and venues mostly in the Midwest, it is clear that for Peters' home is where the heart(land) is.

"We know that our strengths are in the Midwest in the center of the country,” Peters said. “If we are going to step out into another location outside that, we have to be able to convince ourselves first that we have something to be able to offer. Then, we have to be able to convince the city. Our greatest strength is probably in that center third of the country.”

With venues that the company runs in Kennewick, Wash., and Vicksburg, Miss., among others, it is wrong to assume that VenuWorks operates exclusively in the Midwest. It would be a mistake to try and put the company in such a box. It is a business, after all, whose owner has never been one accused of operating inside the box.

Before crossing into the world of private venue management, Peters was no stranger to the public assembly venue industry itself, having started in 1976 managing a small theater in Dubuque, Iowa, after obtaining a Bachelor of Arts degree in theater and a Master of Fine Arts degree in arts administration from the University of Iowa. Peters’ career moved along to Iowa State University and then to Ogden Entertainment in 1988. By 1990, he was the national director of operations for the company and opened the Target Center in Minneapolis before being named an Ogden vice president in 1995.

Along the way, Peters also worked with a number of smaller venues and smaller markets and fell in love with them. He also noticed that those particular markets were receiving less than the lion’s share of attention from the company. If ever a situation presented itself for a business to start and specialize in working with such markets, now was the time, and Peters knew it.

“In the summer of 1996, I went in with a proposal and had a couple of ideas about how our company could maybe reorganize to give better service to the secondary markets,” he said. “I said that, frankly, if you don’t start paying attention to them you are going to lose them. I offered to buy those municipal and university accounts from Ogden, but they were not interested. Shortly afterward, they let me go. I didn’t have any non-compete clause, which must have been a clerical error in my severance agreement.

“So I started my own company in the basement of my home. My brother gave me an old Army surplus metal desk and we got to work, formed a company in November and had a contract for full management of an arena and conference center in Minnesota on Feb. 1. It was one we had been running at Ogden. I had a great deal of involvement from its inception to its design and funding and sort of babied it along. They were at a period where they had an option to end their contract with Ogden, so they exercised that and put out an RFP which I bid on and got. We started up there 20 years ago and here we are today.”

“When I was at Iowa State in 1988 all the big companies bid on our contract,” Peters said. “By the time I started my company eight years later, there was consolidation within these big companies. It wasn’t that nobody was paying any attention to the smaller venues. I had a strong understanding and a strong grounding in running venues in secondary markets. It’s a very, very different thing than running NBA and NHL arenas and stadiums.”

Peters started his company as Compass Facility Management before changing the name to VenuWorks in 2007. He and his wife, Randi, live in the same house they did 20 years ago when the business started. There is consistency in Peters’ personal and professional life.

“We don’t have every account we ever started with, as contracts have matured and venue owners have said we appreciate your work. but we want to take it now ourselves,” Peters said. “We’re always very cooperative in helping that transition with the venue ownership, board, city or nonprofit that made that decision. We’ve never sued a client. We just don’t operate that way.”

It is the perfect segue for Peters to talk about how his company does operate, and it is a philosophy that is backed up by his internal staff, his venue executive directors and his vendors.

“We’re very much relationship driven,” he said. “It is probably contrary to every business or business textbook, but I think we … I do, anyway … have to fall in love with our  buildings. The buildings we serve are so important to their communities that you really feel like you’re helping that community reach what it aspired to when it built that building. If it is brand new they’ve got a dream and it’s our job to help them get there. Maybe it’s a 90-year-old theater and it’s kind of lost its way. Maybe nobody has paid much attention to it. It’s our job to come in and dust off the dream and find that goal again and help the community realize its vision for what it wants to be.”

The company now manages more than 50 venues in 20 cities. His business motto is that “we have to believe we can make a difference. We have to believe that with an investment in terms of revenues, increased programming and controlling and containing expenses, they are going to be better off in the end. We have to know that we can do that. We have to have a plan to do that. But it has to be something that we feel like we have some experience in. We wouldn’t bid on McCormick Place or the Moscone Center. That’s not us. That isn’t what we do. We’re darn good in places like Cedar Rapids and Evansville and Burnsville and Brookings. We work good in those markets.”

Tom Richter is the executive director of the Swiftel Center in Brookings, S.D., and has been with the company for about 17 of VenuWorks’ 20 years. He knows firsthand about why his venue thrives in a market of 23,000 people with 12,000 students who attend the local South Dakota State University.

“I know that when our city was looking at private management companies in the late ‘90s we looked at all the main ones,” Richter said. “VenuWorks just seemed to fit the situation the best. We’ve since been very successful in Brookings beyond some people’s dreams. The success to that is due to VenuWorks and our relationship with them and all our other (VenuWorks-managed) facilities. We can rely on each other and learn things from each other.”

Sharon Cummins is another VenuWorks veteran who has served as executive director of the U.S. Cellular Center in Bloomington, Ill., since 1999. In addition to the staples of consistency and stability that would seem to describe how any business might turn 20, Cummins sees another reason for the company’s success.
“Flexbility,” she said. “While VenuWorks has its core principles and operating procedures, as a company it also evolves to address the needs of the communities we serve. No two communities are exactly the same. VenuWorks recognizes and respects the nuances of each market and works with the venue staff, contract administrators and community leaders to ensure common goals are identified and achieved.”

As chief executive officer of Aureon HR, Joel Duncan’s company has worked with VenuWorks since August 2010. Duncan sees the longevity of VenuWorks through perhaps a different lens than those who work directly for the company.

“I call it PPT, or People, Process and Technology,” Duncan said. “To not just survive, but thrive, as VenuWorks has for 20 years, you must continually evaluate and respond to changing market conditions, customer demands and competition by evaluating your people and process and technology to assure they are aligned appropriately with the existing and forecasted market. VenuWorks has done that.”

The success of reaching 20 years is likely best summed up by Scott Hallgren, executive director of the Bridge View Center in Ottumwa, Iowa: “It’s all about the basics, the simple principles and life rules we all were taught and know and should live by but, at times, so many choose not to follow. Steve does follow those principles and rules and that is why he is successful.”

The answer from Peters for what he looks for when hiring a venue manager might surprise. Certainly, experience and knowledge are important, but there is more.
“I look for a smile,” Peters said. “I want someone who has high integrity and honesty and wants to be in a small town. I think something that distinguishes us from some big companies is that we specialize in people who want to be in small towns. It isn’t like you get banished to this small town. Do a good job and we’ll send you to Davenport, Iowa. Well, that’s a big town for us. That’s a major market for us. We want to be there and our people want to be there. Not everybody is chasing the brass ring to want to get a bigger spot and a bigger city.

“We’re not in that pack. Our people are not those people. Everybody we serve in Cedar Rapids has been to Chicago. They’ve been to New York City. They know what service should be. There’s no such thing as second-tier service. Even though you are in a smaller market, you’ve got to provide the same kind of service or maybe even better because you don’t have any anonymity in a secondary market. If a guest in Brookings had a bad time or broken seat or hit a pothole in the parking lot, they are going to tell you about it at church the next day or at the next PTA event. It becomes very personal very fast.”

Peters said that there are 18 people on his staff that provide service to all the venues. There are specialists in the areas of human resources, finance, programming, food and beverage, operations and marketing.

“We say it all the time, but the job of our people at the core of the company is to support all the people working at all the buildings,” he said.

As Peters looks forward, he said that any success is predicated on remembering the basics. “We continually look for new ways to utilize technology and better ways to expand the markets we’re in to better serve our customers,” he said. “Whether it’s creating an F&B service or in-house promotions capability or theater producing company. We keep looking for those niches that we can sell.”
Topeka is now within view, but the best question is saved for last about how Peters and VenuWorks plan to celebrate a milestone 20th anniversary. Do you have grandiose plans for celebrating this big event?

“Nah,” Peters said. “The anniversary is important to us, but to the rest of the world I really don’t think so.”

Maybe the answer is not so surprising for a man and company whose legacy is built on the solid rock of family and relationships. Besides, there is now business to tend to in Topeka.

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Newton Named CEO At Carolina Theatre, Durham
Posted: 4 Oct 2017, 8:00 pm

Rebecca-Newton-Portrait_200x148.jpgRebecca Newton

Carolina Theatre of Durham, N.C., has named Chapel Hill businesswoman and artist Rebecca Newton its president and CEO.

Formerly the chief innovation officer at Carolina Partners in Mental HealthCare, PLLC, and the head of trust and community at SuperAwesome, a digital marketing platform intended to create ‘kid-safe’ online experiences, Newton brings decades of business and management experience to her role as the head of the nonprofit arts organization. Newton has also held positions with Mind Candy, and America Online.

Newton also served as vice chair of the board of directors of the ArtsCenter in Carrboro, N.C., and as the chair of, a nonprofit which empowers girls, women, and folks of marginalized genders through creative expression. Newton has also served as a board member for organizations such as the Family Online Safety Institute, the UK Council for Child Internet Safety, the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children’s Digital Task Force, and

Newton studied liberal arts and art history at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She also studied architectural art history at the University of Oxford.

A longtime advocate of the nonprofit that operates the city-owned historic arts venue, Newton is expected to replace interim CEO Dan Berman in mid-October.

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L.A. County Fair Concert Series a Hit
Posted: 4 Oct 2017, 8:00 pm

A young Los Angeles County, Pomona, fairgoer, dwarfed by the giant stuffed prize she won on the midway.

In spite of triple-digit heat and high humidity during the first 10 or so days of the Los Angeles County Fair, Pomona, Calif., the event experienced only a 6.5 percent decrease in attendance—1,231,243 compared to last year’s 1,317,370—as the successful concert series helped draw more customers in the evenings and in the latter weeks of the Sept.1-24 fair.

“Once weather wasn’t a factor, our numbers consistently exceded those of last year,” said Miguel Santana, who took over as president and CEO of Fairplex from James Henwood Jr. in January of this year.

“That tells me the community is excited about the fair and wants to attend the fair. We have a lot to offer in terms of different activities and attractions for a full range of people, from children to seniors. But when it’s extremely hot and when most of the fair is outdoors, people are going to stay home.”

Santana also wants to target Millennials to come to the fair. Some of them may think of the fair as a relic from the past. To combat that, this year’s event was one of more than 70 venues across Southern California tapped for an exhibit called “Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA,” showcasing Latino artists. Works by Judithe Hernández and Patssi Valdez were on display at the Fairplex’s Millard Sheets Art Center.

In addition, Santana noted, local restaurants with large social media followings on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram were brought in to offer popular fare on the patio outside the display. “The result was the highest attendance of that gallery since its inception in the 1930s,” Santana said, adding that the food provided fairgoers “a sense of connection to the community.”

Another big factor in the fair’s success was the 16 concerts held in the grandstand, sponsored by Anheuser Busch as part of the End of Summer Concert Series, presented by Toyota. Next year, sponsor Toyota will be replaced by Chevrolet for a three-year deal, said Dale Coleman, vice president of sales and creative programming.

Several concerts exceeded the 9,000-seat capacity in attendance, Coleman added, and any show that hit 8,000 attendees was considered very successful. Revenues were up 12 percent over last year —$3,250,000 compared to $2,900,000 in 2016 — and also 23 percent over 2015’s $2,500,000. “It was a great year,” Coleman said.

The grandstand has some leeway with how many seats can be installed because the venue was built for horse racing, which was discontinued a few years ago.

“It’s very long so if you are on the end, you are getting out a good long way from the stage,” said Coleman, who added that sometimes demand motivates fair officials to add seats.

Much effort also is made to create a wide-ranging lineup for the diverse group of fairgoers. As an illustration, Coleman noted the final weekend, which featured Ramon Ayala Y Sus Bravos Del Norte, a double bill of War and Tower of Power, the ‘70s band Chicago and the popular hip-hop trio Migos.

“We try very hard to be eclectic and diverse,” Coleman said. “One person’s favorite is another person’s ‘never heard of.’”

The fair took place over a period of more than three weeks, with four weekends, and took Mondays and Tuesdays off. The concerts were held Wednesdays through Sundays for a total of 16 shows. Coleman estimated that a record total of 120,000 attended the concerts for an average of 7,500 per show. All concerts offer a mix of free and ticketed seats, with the free seats being farther away from the stage and the closer ones going up in price from $40 to $150 depending on location. The $150 tickets are for 450 seats down by the stage.

Admission to the fair is free with the purchase of a concert ticket, Coleman said, with some attendees spending several hours at the fair enjoying different facets of it. That’s why when he gives numbers of $2.7 million in talent fees with a gross of $3.25 million, not including production costs, it is not comparing apples to apples. “It’s difficult to determine what the real economic impact is,” he added.

The fair constructs a stage each year. Lodi, Calif.-based L.B. Lights West builds the stage, back of house and provides lighting and equipment. Now that horse racing has been discontinued, the stage can stay up for the entirety of the fair. Before, Coleman said, it was rolled into place before each concert.

Other acts that appeared during the fair were the I Love The 90s Tour featuring Salt-N-Pepa; Hunter Hayes with Frankie Ballard and Lauren Alaina; Juanes; Boyz II Men & Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds; Charlie Wilson with Johnny Gill; Patti Labelle & Queen Latifah; Trace Adkins with Joe Nichols; La Arrolladora & Banda el Limón; The Whispers & The Stylistics; Fifth Harmony; Styx & Kansas; and Gerardo Ortiz.

Laveen, Ariz.-based Ray Cammack Shows provided 70 rides and 40 games on the midway, said Renee Hernandez, the fair’s communications and public relations manager. The carnival was slightly down from the previous year, she said. Ridership mirrored the attendance pattern and picked up when the days cooled down. Pay-one-price wristbands were available at supermarket partners Von's, Albertson's and Cardenas for $37 or could be purchased on-site for $50, Hernandez said. Fairgoers could use them Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays but not on the weekends.

Gate admission remained the same as last year. Regular gate admission was $14 for adults 14 and older and $8 for ages 6 to 12 on weekdays and $20 and $12 on weekends. The discount price at the supermarkets was $12 and $6. Kids 5 and under were free. A year-round budget figure was not available.

As for marketing, the fair employed even more social media, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat, in addition to the event’s YouTube channel, said Hernandez, who noted that the marketing budget was $2.1 million. 

“We have a very strong social media presence,” she added. “Our social media person connected with influencers in Southern California and worked on those relationships, which helped with marketing. We have thousands and thousands of followers.”

Next year’s dates will be Aug. 31 to Sept. 23.

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Vegas Hotels Institute Bag Searches
Posted: 4 Oct 2017, 7:00 pm

Deserted and eerily quiet, the north end of Mandalay Bay Road is still cordoned off by yellow police-tape, three days after the horrific mass shooting from the 32nd floor of the Las Vegas strip hotel. (VT Photo)

In a dramatic response to the senseless mass shooting Sunday night, Oct.1, Wynn Hotel and Encore Hotel, Las Vegas, instituted bag checks at the entrance of the Strip hotels as of Monday morning, Oct.2, 12 hours after lone gunman Stephen Paddock killed 58 concertgoers attending Route 91 Harvest music festival from the 32nd floor of Mandalay Bay.

Hotel security workers used handheld metal detectors. “We initiated metal scanning at our entrances early Monday morning when it was uncertain if there were multiple shooters,” a Wynn spokesperson said.

Stunned guests were told to line up with their bags ready for either a hand search or using the handheld scanners.  This resulted in a 10-minute-long line to get into the luxury resort.

Wynn reduced the intensity of the checks Tuesday, indicating the new policy was still being tested. “Now that it is confirmed there was one shooter, we will return to scanning guests when we believe the need arises. We are continuing our other enhanced security procedures at entrances and throughout the resort.”

The Wynn spokesman confirmed that guests who exited the hotel had to stand in line again to re-enter.

Russ Simons, Venue Solutions Group, who is chairman of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Public Assembly Facility Sub-Sector Council and serves on the IAVM Safety & Security Committee and NCS4 (National Center for Spectator, Sport, Safety and Security) board of advisors, noted the mass killing in Las Vegas reinforces the need to do a threat assessment and vulnerability to that threat constantly. “That leads to a risk assessment and from that you get your emergency action plan. I don’t think anyone would have weighed gunfire from a significant distance and, by the way, from as high a level as this was as a threat to an event like a country music festival. But when anyone was conducting a threat assessment the next day, they would have added in that vulnerability. But I don’t think it’s reasonable to think anyone should have or reasonably could have been thinking about that for that event.”

This does not change the game for venue managers, just increases the volume of the message. “Venue managers will be doing what they’ve done every day for 17 years, since 9/11, which is taking a look at what the circumstances are on the ground, not being comfortable with what you knew yesterday, and knowing you have to think about what the situation will be for you tomorrow. Every professional venue manager knows that complacency as it relates to safety and security is our biggest enemy, and we have to focus on the changing nature of the threat and our response. That has to do with that emergency action plan, training, execution, evaluation and retraining.”

How often do they need to re-evaluate? “In the world we live in today, they need information daily, sometimes several times a day, to communicate the changing nature of the threat,” Simons said.

And it is a worldwide issue. On that same Sunday, there were terrorist incidents earlier in the day in Edmonton, Alberta; Melbourne, Australia and Marseilles, France, Simons noted.

His strongest message is one of personal responsibility.  “We can’t afford to rely on someone else to take care of us. We have to pay attention, think about where we’re going and assess our situation. What if an earthquake happened? What if something else happened? Where would I go? What would I do? I want people to think about it for themselves, and for their friends and neighbors and communities. I want all of us to spend a little more effort looking out for each other,” Simons said.

See something, say something is not just a tagline, he added. “We all have an obligation and a responsibility to be paying attention, and if we see things that make us uncomfortable or we don’t understnad, we have to bring those things to someone’s attention. All of us are better than any one of us. It’s not someone else’s problem. It should be clear this is each and every one of our problems and any solution will require everyone’s contributions.”


Deb Oshrow, a professor of hospitality at Rosen College of Hospitality, Orlando, Fla., questioned the effectiveness of the new search policy on Wednesday. “Metal detectors can scare guests and make them feel like there’s something they need to worry about and could potentially spoil the vacation experience,” she said.

“Having an increased security presence and keeping a watchful eye on everyone coming in and out and looking for anything unusual may be a better solution,” Oshrow said.

How Paddock got “in excess of 23 rifles” into Mandalay Bay was something Las Vegas, Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo is still trying to piece together. What was clear to Lombardo was that “Paddock brought the weapons into the hotel on his own and that he used a device similar to a hammer to smash the windows.”

Randy Sutton spent 24 years with the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department. He was “unsurprised” that Paddock could amass the large amount of weapons and get them into the hotel and up to the 32nd floor.

“He had plenty of time to get the guns to his room,” he said. “There would have been no reason for hotel security to identify Paddock as a threat. It looks to me like this guy just checked in as a guest, and it's very common for guests to have a lot of luggage. It's relatively simple to conceal weapons in luggage. Actually, security wouldn't be involved, because it looks like he went directly to the room. Typically he wouldn't deal with security; security wouldn't be aware of his presence."

Sutton does not blame Mandalay Bay security in any way. “There's no way security could have known about the threat. Without some tip-off, Paddock passed through the hotel like any other guest would have. There's nothing that security could have done to stop that."

Most casinos, if not all, on the Las Vegas Strip have a weapon ban; signs are posted at all entrances advising guests of the policy.

Joe Morton, a security expert, who was at the scene of the Route 91 Harvest massacre as a guest said that, when he worked at Strip hotels, “if someone openly carried a weapon into the casino we’d have stopped him. I can assure you, if somebody came in brandishing a weapon, he would get a reaction from security. But there is no way for anyone to know whether weapons are hidden in hotel luggage, barring searching everyone and every bag on the way in.”

Morton also questioned the wisdom and logistics of searching all guests. "How can this be accomplished? There are thousands of people coming in and out of the hotels, at hundreds of different entrance points. It would be a nightmare for the hotels and the guests. Sure, it could be done, but the risk of this kind of thing happening is so rare that having that kind of security in place just wouldn't be a reasonable thing to do. If somebody is determined to commit a crime like this, they'll find a way to do it. It's almost impossible to prevent."

Morton survived the shooting by taking swift action. “As soon as bodies starting falling I knew we were dealing with a mass-shooting scenario,” he recalled. “I grabbed my children and started shouting for festivalgoers to take cover near a garbage dumpster that was nearby.”

“About 30 of us hid behind the dumpster as round-after-round of rapid-fire barreled down upon the concert-grounds, ” he said. “At this point, no one knew where the shots were coming from. Some of the people gathered wanted to run for it; I told them to stay put until we found out the source of the bullets.”

Morton believes his quick action and sound advice saved the lives of the innocent festivalgoers who followed his instructions and stayed out of sight until the gunfire stopped. “People panic and want to do exactly the opposite of what they should do; some wanted to run out from behind the dumpster to find friends and family.” Morton advises anyone caught in a similar situation: “Don’t use your heart in a situation like this; use your head. It will save your life.”

Simons agreed this was a rare and unpredictable incident, but not unbelievable. “It’s been 50 years since the asshole at the University of Texas took a long rifle up into the tower. It’s always been something.”

“I think the problem people are having with this guy is he doesn’t fit any known profile,” Simons said.

The scenario is another factor in assessing threats, however. The National Football League is among the many organizations taking a look at highrise buildings in direct proximity to mega events at stadiums, for instance.

Without scientific data, and simply a gut reaction, Simons believes if there is going to be a copycat shooting, it usually occurs in a short period of time. Look at the shootings in the movie theater in Aurora, Colo., he noted. That hasn’t been re-created. But that doesn’t mean under a certain set of conditions, it might not be. Vigilance is mandatory.

Each one of these incidents peels another layer off the onion. “There are substantive, ongoing conversations about the kinds of things that can be done. They all have costs. They all require a level of commitment. I don’t have a feel for how far people are willing to go,” Simons said. (Simons participated in a PBS special on the tragedy in Las Vegas, shown here.)

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Hot Tickets for October 4, 2017
Posted: 4 Oct 2017, 6:00 pm

Jeff Dunham’s Passively Aggressive tour is in full swing as he travels through North America and Canada the rest of this year and well into 2018. Dunham, along with his friends Achmed the Dead Terrorist, Walter, Bubba J., Peanut and Jose Jalepeno (on a stick), entertained a full house for two shows, Sept. 6 and 13, at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace, Las Vegas. Both shows grossed a total of $370,000 with ticket prices ranging from $50-$80. The comedian/ventriloquist used his particular brand of humor to bring down the house, and he didn’t shy away from experimenting with a few political one-liners which went over well with the 5,500 fans in attendance. Dunham can be seen next at Abraham Chavez Theatre, El Paso, Texas, Nov. 1-2 but, in the meantime, fans can watch his new comedy, stand-up special that was recently released on Netflix entitled “Relative Disaster.”

Arcade Fire brought their spirited show to Infinite Energy Arena, Duluth, Ga., Sept. 21. The Live Nation-promoted event grossed $270,000 and had 4,000 fans in attendance. The band is on their Infinite Content tour, with special guests Phantogram and Angel Olsen, which rolled through Europe this summer before launching the second leg a couple of weeks ago, which is currently reaching across North America. Arcade Fire is mesmerizing audiences with their lasers and lights and the constant movement of the nine band members swapping instruments. Fans can catch the band Oct. 11 at Rogers Place, Edmonton, Alberta.

HOT TICKETS is a weekly summary of the top acts and ticket sales as reported to VT PULSE. Following are the top 20 concerts and events, the top 5 in each seating capacity category, which took place between Sept. 5-Oct. 4.

15,001 or More Seats

10,001-15,000 Seats

5,001-10,000 Seats

5,000 or Fewer Seats

1) Ariana Grande
Gross Sales: $2,389,407; Venue: Rod Laver Arena, Melbourne, Australia; Attendance: 23,809; Ticket Range: $94.21-$78.49; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Sept. 4-5; No. of Shows: 2

2) Ed Sheeran
Gross Sales: $2,375,534; Venue: Capital One Arena, Washington; Attendance: 27,420; Ticket Range: $96.50-$36.50; Promoter: AEG Presents; Dates: Sept. 19-20; No. of Shows: 2

3) John Legend
Gross Sales: $1,235,863; Venue: The O2 Arena, London; Attendance: 14,803; Ticket Range: $101.07-$67.38; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Sept. 12; No. of Shows: 1

4) Depeche Mode
Gross Sales: $1,192,064; Venue: Capital One Arena, Washington; Attendance: 12,554; Ticket Range: $145-$39.50; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Sept. 7; No. of Shows: 1

5) The Weeknd
Gross Sales: $1,025,445; Venue: Capital One Arena, Washington; Attendance: 13,395; Ticket Range: $150.75-$39.75; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Sept. 15; No. of Shows: 1

1) Kid Rock
Gross Sales: $724,450; Venue: Van Andel Arena, Grand Rapids, Mich.; Attendance: 10,413; Ticket Range: $95-$30; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Sept. 6; No. of Shows: 1

2) Kid Rock
Gross Sales: $525,135; Venue: Ford Center, Evansville, Ind.; Attendance: 8,835; Ticket Range: $92-$27; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Sept. 9; No. of Shows: 1

3) Bill O'Reilly
Gross Sales: $388,790; Venue: Royal Farms Arena, Baltimore; Attendance: 2,896; Ticket Range: $500-$65; Promoter: Icon Entertainment; Dates: Sept. 22; No. of Shows: 1

4) Arcade Fire
Gross Sales: $269,850; Venue: Infinite Energy Arena, Duluth, Ga.; Attendance: 3,980; Ticket Range: $75-$35; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Sept. 21; No. of Shows: 1

5) Luke Mockridge
Gross Sales: $167,675; Venue: Hallenstadion, Zurich; Attendance: 2,913; Ticket Range: $63.74; Promoter: Act Entertainment; Dates: Sept. 7; No. of Shows: 1

1) Jennifer Lopez
Gross Sales: $2,715,968; Venue: The Axis at Planet Hollywood, Las Vegas; Attendance: 12,972; Ticket Range: $412-$54; Promoter: Caesars Entertainment, Live Nation; Dates: Sept. 13-16; No. of Shows: 3

2) Jennifer Lopez
Gross Sales: $2,372,986; Venue: The Axis at Planet Hollywood, Las Vegas; Attendance: 11,844; Ticket Range: $412-$54; Promoter: Caesars Entertainment, Live Nation; Dates: Sept. 6-9; No. of Shows: 3

3) Jennifer Lopez
Gross Sales: $2,370,333; Venue: The Axis at Planet Hollywood, Las Vegas; Attendance: 11,980; Ticket Range: $412-$54; Promoter: Caesars Entertainment, Live Nation; Dates: Sept. 20-23; No. of Shows: 3

4) Marco Antonio Solis
Gross Sales: $583,590; Venue: EagleBank Arena, Fairfax, Va.; Attendance: 5,746; Ticket Range: $184-$54; Promoter: Pro-Mex Productions; Dates: Sept. 8; No. of Shows: 1

5) VetsAid
Gross Sales: $508,121; Venue: EagleBank Arena, Fairfax, Va.; Attendance: 4,778; Ticket Range: $154-$54; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Sept. 20; No. of Shows: 1

1) Disney’s Aladdin
Gross Sales: $3,512,258; Venue: Orpheum Theatre, Minneapolis; Attendance: 47,503; Ticket Range: $175-$21; Promoter: Hennepin Theatre Trust, Broadway Across America; Dates: Sept. 15-Oct. 1; No. of Shows: 21

2) Jeff Dunham
Gross Sales: $367,055; Venue: The Colosseum at Caesars Palace, Las Vegas; Attendance: 5,650; Ticket Range: $79.50-$49.50; Promoter: AEG Presents, Caesars Entertainment, Tate Entertainment; Dates: Sept. 6, 13; No. of Shows: 2

3) Shreya Ghoshal
Gross Sales: $330,360; Venue: The Theater at MGM National Harbor, Oxon Hill, Md.; Attendance: 2,771; Ticket Range: $209-$105; Promoter: Intense Entertainment; Dates: Sept. 15; No. of Shows: 1

4) Donny & Marie
Gross Sales: $263,512; Venue: The Showroom at The Flamingo, Las Vegas; Attendance: 2,936; Ticket Range: $283-$104; Promoter: Caesars Entertainment; Dates: Sept. 19-23; No. of Shows: 5

5) Donny & Marie
Gross Sales: $247,612; Venue: The Showroom at The Flamingo, Las Vegas; Attendance: 2,733; Ticket Range: $283-$104; Promoter: Caesars Entertainment; Dates: Sept. 12-16; No. of Shows: 5

The Weekly Hot Tickets chart is compiled by Monique Potter. To submit reports, e-mail or fax to (714) 378-0040.


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Laurene Powell Jobs Purchases Stake in Monumental
Posted: 4 Oct 2017, 6:00 pm

The new name goes up on Capital One Center, Washington, D.C.

The Washington, D.C., sports and entertainment scene just received a major new player — billionaire Laurene Powell Jobs.

The entrepreneur, worth around $20 billion according to a Forbes estimate, has an agreement to purchase a 20-percent stake in Monumental Sports & Entertainment, first reported by the Washington Post and confirmed by Venues Today, an investment worth hundreds of millions of dollars that makes Powell Jobs, 53, the second-largest stakeholder in the company behind CEO Ted Leonsis. The transaction is pending approval from both the National Basketball Association (NBA) and National Hockey League (NHL).

Monumental, worth roughly $2.5 billion according to the Post, includes ownership of the NBA’s Washington Wizards, NHL’s Washington Capitals and the newly-named Capital One Arena, Washington, D.C.

“We have an agreement with Laurene Powell Jobs … to join the Monumental Sports & Entertainment ownership group,” Monumental said in a statement. “The process is underway and is pending league approvals.”

The president of the Emerson Collective, an enterprise focused on spurring change and promoting equality in social justice issues such as education and immigration, and widow of Apple’s Steve Jobs, earlier attempted a foray into sports with a bid to purchase the NBA’s Los Angeles Clippers in 2014. The team was sold to Steve Balmer.

Powell Jobs, who can attribute much of her wealth to holdings in Apple and Disney—Steve Jobs started both Apple and Pixar Animation, bought by Disney in 2006—recently purchased The Atlantic magazine, also based in Washington, D.C., through Emerson Collective. Monumental said that Jobs’ philanthropy through Emerson Collective fit the vision of Leonsis and his “double bottom line philosophy: that companies that do best are those that do good in their communities.”

“That someone of Laurene’s impressive caliber is interested in coming into the ownership group further validates that Monumental Sports & Entertainment is continuing to build one of the most consequential, most valuable sports and entertainment companies in the world,” the statement reads.

Laurene_Powell_Jobs.jpgLaurene Powell Jobs

With the investment, Powell Jobs propels herself into the sports and entertainment industry, becoming one of the few female owners in NBA along with Jeanie Buss of the Los Angeles Lakers, Ann Walton Kroenke of the Denver Nuggets and Gail Miller of the Utah Jazz.

The Monumental empire includes growing values in sports franchise in the NBA and NHL. Forbes has valued the average NBA franchise at $1.36 billion and estimated the Wizards at $1 billion. Recent NBA sales will push that number higher. Forbes values the Capitals at $575 million.

But that isn’t all. Along with a one-third ownership in Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic, a regional sports network, the company also includes the WNBA Mystics, the Washington Valor and Baltimore Brigade Arena Football League teams.

On the facility side, Monumental owns a sports facility in Northern Virginia and a new 4,200-seat Wizards practice facility set to open in Southeast Washington in 2018. The 45,000-square-foot practice facility will host concerts, community events, WNBA games and potentially NBA D-League games. The Rossetti Architects and Marshall Moya-designed project includes retail and private team facilities.

Monumental signed a new agreement with Capital One in August to rename what was previously known as Verizon Center, reported in the range of $100 million over 10 years, which Eric Smallwood, president of Apex Marketing Group, called at the time “substantial” and placed it near the top of any arena in the country and even above some National Football League (NFL) stadiums.

Monumental has already announced that a new point-of-sale system will enable the venue to offer Capital One cardholders automated discounts on food, beverage, merchandise and more throughout the arena.

“I think leveraging different things into an experience for any company is important at any level (of sponsorship) and certainly with naming rights, the ability to leverage the two businesses is great,” said David Touhey, president of venues for Monumental. “I think there is certainly potential across a lot of dual business lines. Where things can happen, they are a great partner. We are both local, prominent companies. As things align, it makes sense for both to certainly see more (activations).”

While announcing the new naming rights deal in the summer, Monumental also announced—which was simply a matter of timing and not related, Touhey said—a $4-million investment into the 20-year-old, privately financed downtown arena. “We want to do some updates to stay fresh and stay current,” he said.

As part of the updates, the Mounumental360 program will use data collection from the new point-of-sale system to better understand fans and learn preferences for when they interact with any part of the Monumental franchise.

The home to over 220 concerts, shows and events a year, including the Capitals and Wizards, Capital One Arena will host major concerts this year, along with the A-10 men’s basketball tournament in March, 2018 and the East regionals of the 2019 NCAA men’s basketball tournament.

The Post reports that Leonsis owns around 40 percent of Monumental. Other Monumental investors include Raul Fernandez, vice chairman of Monumental, philanthropist and BET co-founder Sheila Johnson, Capital One founder Richard Fairbank and Mark Lerner, whose family also owns the local Major League Baseball franchise, the Washington Nationals.

“The fact that these discussions are underway,” Monumental said in the statement, “is itself a testament to the fact that Washington is one of the most dynamic and important regions in the country.”

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Life Is Beautiful Is in the Black
Posted: 4 Oct 2017, 5:00 pm

Life is Beautiful played its fifth run in Las Vegas Sept. 22-24. (Photo by Michael Montoya)

When it was launched in 2013, the Life is Beautiful Festival (LiB) seemed like a big-hearted, inspiring idea that felt a bit too touchy-feely to make it on the vice-filled streets of Las Vegas. A massive street festival sprawling over more than a dozen downtown blocks that aimed to inspire and entertain with music, top chefs, artwork and a variety of eclectic speakers and lecturers.

But over the Sept.22-24 weekend all those dreams, and more, finally came together into what is now a financially viable event that still has that heart of gold, but also has a balance sheet in the black that promises to keep the good times coming in the future.

LiB took place a week before the horrific shooting during the Route 91 Harvest Festival on Oct. 1, and may have dodged a bullet according to  Rep. Dina Titus, congresswoman from Nevada’s first congressional district said, “I have heard from police sources that the gunman had been looking at other targets. He apparently was looking at the Life Is Beautiful festival downtown, which was held a few days earlier.” LiB reps had no comment on the stunnig news that they may have been the initial target of gunman Stephen Paddock.

“We had never sold out in the history of the festival at all, not even on the day of the show and so this year when we went on sale with the lineup in April we sold out all the three-day GA tickets in 90 minutes and all the tickets in our cart within 30 minutes,” said LiB’s CEO Justin Weniger of the event that won Festival of the Year from Pollstar in 2016. The enterprising fest, which takes over 18 square blocks downtown and carts in 180,000 square feet of sod to make fans more comfortable, hosted sets by Chance the Rapper, Muse, Gorillaz, Lorde, Blink-182, The XX, Kaskade, Wiz Khalifa and dozens of others on six stages — including a comedy stage — as well as more than 60 food vendors and an A-list lineup of speakers that included “Science Guy” Bill Nye, Bethany Mota and Rachel Platten.

With 45,000 attendees each day and an estimated 135,000 over the weekend, Weniger said he thinks this year’s success came because organizers used data and targeted digital marketing to get a much clearer understanding of where their audience is and where they are coming from. “It’s a testament to four years of really unbelievable passion from a lot of people — from our staff to the city and the community around it — and the momentum that we kept going from last year that helped us this year,” he said, noting that 2016 was the first time he knew the festival would make it.


Art and photo ops intersect often at Life is Beautiful, the Las Vegas festival. (Photo by Michael Montoya.)

“We did a recap after [2016] to see how things looked, and if we could afford another investment, and we knew going in that it would be a viable thing for the community, so that allowed us to focus for the entire year.” That explains why Weniger was booking artists for 2017 before the 2016 event opened its gates, helping to create continuity and momentum for his staff. The core 20-person LiB teamwork on the festival all year-round in partnership with San Francisco promoter Another Planet Entertainment. That small team expands to 50 people during the first annual staff meeting with contractors, then swells to 150 as site planning begins to come into focus, ballooning to 3,500 on the day of the show counting onsite security, food and beverage and other site-specific workers.

Because Weniger’s WENDOH marketing agency is also busy doing marketing development inside Las Vegas and outside the city limits, with a content team churning out a variety of products, his multidisciplinary team is able to not only book and curate LiB, but also keep their eye on engaging potential consumers and maximizing their media buys. “All those things matter. Without the lineup that’s amazing, without that engagement we would not sell as many tickets,” he said of what his team has found out in case studies of past events, including one incredible statistic. “In our study we found that we drove the cost of acquisition from $17 [per ticket sold] in 2015 to just under $11 in 2016 and to under 97 cents this year.”

Because that cost of acquisition was driven down so dramatically, Weniger was able to shift money away from what would normally be spent on traditional marketing into creating a better experience for their visitors. 

Weniger said part of the reason LiB has had such success is the “very authentic” relationship the fest has with its audience. “We think we can change the world with positivity and inspiration at a time when the world needs that right now… positivity and storytelling and connectivity and we provide a space for that,” he said.

With 65 percent of attendees coming from Southern California, the event’s proximity to Los Angeles is a key to its success, as are the 9,000-plus hotel rooms in downtown Las Vegas and 140,000 on the Strip. “People can find good prices on hotel rooms, they’re not wading through mud or camping and it’s very easy to jump in a car, drive up [from Los Angeles] and walk in and out of the venue and go back to your hotel room, so families can come during the day and come back at night.” Though the majority of attendees are from Southern California, this year’s event drew from all 50 states and 24 countries as well.

One of the biggest challenges is, unlike a comparable festival of its size that might have a month or more to get a fairground in shape to welcome patrons, the LiB team has about 10 days to bring in all that sod, arrange access for dozens of muralists and ensure that the proper shade is put in place. That time also includes a survey of the site for walkability to reach their goal of never having the walk from one stage to another take more than three minutes no matter how busy the stage is.

“If we weren’t putting any music on, the art we have would still make it one of the premiere art festivals in the world, and over five years the murals we’ve put up around downtown have changed the city,” he said. “Everything comes to life in this footprint and it’s something that can’t be replicated anywhere else because we have all these bars and restaurants inside the footprint, art throughout the streets and, even with the bigger footprint this year, it never felt overcrowded because of the way we create capacity.” In a testament to the eclectic nature of the audience, Weniger said at one point there were 8,000 people in a tent quietly listening to TV personality Nye on a Friday afternoon on the same stage that housed thumping dance music just hours later.

With more than two-dozen sponsors, increased ticket sales and the lower cost-per-acquisition, Weniger confirmed that LiB was in the black as of this year, with an 80-percent increase year-over-year in ticket revenue, another sign that its future seems rosy. “We do better than a lot of organizations on things like people pushing their friends to come out and see us,” he said, pointing to the engagement on the festival’s Facebook post with the initial lineup poster, which he said elicited 23,000 comments.

LIB600.jpgFans enjoy the ambiance at the fifth annual Life is Beautiful festival in Las Vegas. (Photo by Michael Montoya)

“That’s 23,000 people not saying ‘oh my gosh, I’m so excited to see this band,’ but people tagging their friends and saying ‘we have to go.’ I don’t think people decide to buy tickets to experience it on their own. They tag their friends. Nobody says ‘I need a plumber this weekend, do you need one?’ We saw a ton of sharing and people building this network, which is why we spent substantially less this year on media since we sold out on our first day. That [effectively] eliminated any marketing budget and helped us shift our overall strategy to put purpose and storytelling first and inspire people.”

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One Day Later, Mandalay Bay Quiet
Posted: 3 Oct 2017, 5:00 pm

Mandalay Bay Hotel & Casino, Las Vegas, where a gunman armed with multiple assault rifles killed 59 and wounded more than 500 festivalgoers from the 32nd floor. (AP Photo)

REPORTING FROM LAS VEGAS — The silence was deafening at Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino, Las Vegas, on Monday night, 24 hours after the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history.

According to a Jenni Rivera, a Mandalay Bay staff member, many of Mandalay Bay’s 3,635 rooms are empty; the 29th through 33rd floors are totally blocked off and are a crime scene.

The casino floor is normally lively and active with gamblers, convention attendees and revelers drinking, smoking, socializing and doing what people come to Las Vegas to do, which is have a good time.

Tonight, the mood is somber, and it feels like a casino either just starting out or at the end of its life. About 100 people were playing slots or table games, on the 135,000-sq.-ft. casino floor. The number of employees — dealers, security and waitresses — looked to be the same number of people that were spending money.

“It’s usually so much busier in here,” said Rivera. “People don’t want to come here tonight. It’s spooky.”

Just 24 hours earlier, before lone-gunman Stephen Paddock, smashed the windows out of his 32nd floor suite and started shooting at the hundreds of country music lovers attending Route 91 Harvest festival, the fun had not yet been stomped on.

“Normally it’s crazy in here,” said Rivera. “People are playing the slots and the ringing of the slots can be heard on the whole floor. People are throwing dice, betting on blackjack, drinking at the bar.”

But tonight, these activities seem to have the night off. Instead, the cards being slapped on the table can be heard; the ball spinning in the roulette wheel is easily caught and the clinking of glasses on the bar sounds like thunder crashing onto the ground.

“I’ve never heard it so quiet in here,” said Rivera.

It wasn’t so quiet 24 hours earlier.

“I could hear the ratta-tat-tat coming from somewhere,” said Rivera. “No one really understood what was going on last night. It sounded like fireworks.”

Rivera and her fellow employees and guests knew it wasn’t just fireworks when the Las Vegas police and SWAT team stormed the building at approximately 10:30 p.m.

“All of a sudden there were dozens of police racing through the building,” said Rivera. “We saw them run from the entrance and head to the elevators.”

After about “20 minutes later” the shooting had stopped. Paddock killed at least 59 people and wounded 525 more.

Outside, the normally bustling strip was cordoned off by police crime-scene tape.

Crouching Under a Blackjack Table

Shinzu Abu was playing blackjack when he heard the sound of bullets.

“The band stopped playing,” said Abu. “It was weird. The band just ran offstage. I knew something was not right.”

The Korean cell phone app specialist knew something was off. “I heard there was someone shooting people on the strip,” said Abu. “It sounded like it was far away, but I heard the gunfire in this hotel; it was too close a sound to be so far away.”

Abu ducked for cover under the blackjack table the moment he saw the police race through the building. “There were dozens and dozens of police swarming the Mandalay Bay,” he said. “The police said we should leave. I was too scared to leave. I thought hiding under the table was better.”

Abu was eventually forced out of the now-crime scene and bused to the Thomas & Mack Center, where he was given shelter, food, water and doughnuts.

“They were very nice and really seemed to care about how I was doing,” said Abu.

Ikue Amase was also at Mandalay Bay during the tragedy. Like Abu, she didn’t understand what was happening at first. Eventually she ran out of the Mandalay Bay, fearing for her life. But she ran back in when the police showed up.

“I hid behind the bar,” she said. “There were about 10 other people hiding with me.”

Amase stayed hidden in the Mandalay Bay, with other guests and staff members, until nearly 7 a.m.

"I kept looking at my phone for information,” she said. “It was the longest night of my life.”

Brianne Harring was inside Mandalay Bay Sunday night, playing the slots. She arrived from Seattle just hours earlier.

“It was crazy in here,” she said. “People were running for the doors; others jumped over the bar and hid behind the bar.”

Threasa Johanas, from Paris, was inside Mandalay Bay on Monday night.

“I only heard about this when my plane landed,” she said. “I thought, ‘Should I change my hotel’ but people at the airport told me it would be okay.”

“I had about 30 messages on my phone when I landed. My dad was concerned, so was my boss.”

When Johanas got to Mandalay Bay, she said it was eerily quiet. “I think of Vegas as loud and noisy, but it was just the opposite when I got here,” she said.

Outside, a day later, it was still quiet and filled with police presence.

“There are a lot of police outside,” she said. “I am happy they are there; I am sad they have to be there.”

Currently, yellow police tape stretches from the south end of Las Vegas Boulevard from Tropicana to Russell Road.

“It will be there for days,” said Brian Henderson from the Las Vegas Police Department. “This will remain an active crime scene until the investigators are satisfied they know exactly what happened Sunday night.”

(Editor's Note: This story also appeared on

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A Survivor’s Harrowing Story
Posted: 3 Oct 2017, 11:00 am

The crime scene at Route 91 Harvest music festival in Las Vegas that night. (AP Photo)

REPORTING FROM LAS VEGAS - Olga Doccozi got the kind of phone call that no mother ever wants to get. It was Sunday night at 10:42 p.m. On the phone was her son, Anthony, who was in Las Vegas at the Route 91 Harvest country music festival. He was wounded, crawling on the ground toward an exit, and afraid he’d be trampled by the thousands of concertgoers fleeing for their lives.

“Anthony got shot by the madman,” said Olga, who was aboard a plane from John Wayne Airport in Orange County, Calif., along with Anthony’s sister, Nella, feverishly making their way to Las Vegas to be with their son and brother.

“I couldn’t believe what I was hearing,” said Olga Doccozi. “There was so much screaming going on I could hardly hear Anthony.”

Doccozi was one of 587 reported wounded in what was the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history with 59 fatalities shot by gunman Stephen Craig Paddock, 64, who was perched on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Hotel. Armed with 19 weapons, including assault rifles, Paddock shot indiscriminately into the crowd of 22,000 country music fans gathered at Las Vegas Village for the Route 91 Harvest music festival.

Nella Doccozi grabbed the phone from her mother. “I told Anthony to hang up, put his hands over his head so he wouldn’t get crushed, and look for some help.”

Once the plane landed, Nella Doccozi, immediately reached for her cell phone to call her brother. A sigh of relief passed over both women once they heard Anthony’s voice.

From a hospital bed, Anthony Doccozi told his story. “I was near the stage and Jason Aldean was playing one of my favorite songs,” he said. “Then I heard loud noises; I thought it was firecrackers or maybe part of the show. I soon realized that something was seriously wrong. I looked to my right and saw a girl, get shot. Her white dress was red with blood. She fell to the ground.”

“People started running, pushing, ducking for cover and I kept hearing gunshots,” he recalled. “A lot of gunshots. It would get quiet for a minute and then a new round would start. I started moving with the crowd toward a fence; I thought I could climb it and get out.”

“The next thing I knew I was hit,” said Doccozi. “Before I could even react, I was hit again. I fell to the ground. I was crawling now, still trying to get to that fence. That’s when I got my phone out of my pocket and called my mom. My sister told me to hang up and get help.”

Help arrived in the form of a man and woman, names still unknown, but heroes nonetheless.

“Almost as soon as I hung up with my family, a man in a cowboy hat and a woman in jeans and a tank top reached down and picked me up,” said Anthony Doccozi from Desert Springs Hospital, Las Vegas. “They carried me to a red truck and laid me down in the bed. Moments later they put another person next to me. It was a man. I tried to talk to him, but after a minute, I realized he was dead.”

The man and woman retrieved another person; a woman with blood all over her, according to Doccozi, and put her in the truck’s bed next to Doccozi.

“Even though she was badly hurt she was conscious, he said. “That girl and I held hands as the man and woman raced us to the hospital.”

“As soon as the truck reached the hospital emergency room door, ER workers came straight out with a rolling stretcher and put the girl next to me on it,” he said. “Another bunch of workers came with another stretcher and got me.”

Doccozi was one of the lucky ones. He got shot in the femur and on his lower leg. But he survived. “It’s all still very blurry from when I got into the hospital,” he recalled. “I remember being on a table and the doctors working on me, and then I sort of passed out, and the next thing I knew I was out of the ER and in a hospital room.”

Then Doccozi did exactly what he did earlier in the night: he called his mother. “She started crying and I told her I was going to be okay,” he said. “She and my sister wanted to drive up here at 1 a.m. last night. I insisted they wait until the morning and fly here.”

Fly they did. With a heavy heart and filled with worry, even though Anthony appeared to be safe. “I wasn’t going to rest until I saw my boy,” said Olga Doccozi.

Anthony is shaken, rattled, and facing a long road of physical and mental recovery.

But what he remembers from that night is not the panic, or fear, but the faces of that anonymous man in his cowboy hat and the woman in the tank top. “They saved my life,” he said. “That much I am sure of.”

(Editor’s Note: This story also appeared on

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Posted: 1 Oct 2017, 7:00 pm

For decades, the basics of the convention center experience varied little for attendees, said Brian Tennyson, principal with LMN Architects. One meeting room looked much like another, no matter what city you were visiting.
“If you were at a meeting hall in Chicago, it really didn't differentiate itself much from one in Orlando or New Orleans,” Tennyson said. “You were just in this dark box listening to a speaker. You could have been anywhere.” 
However, Tennyson said, “Those days are gone.”
“The collapse in ‘07-’08 forced everybody to be a bit more competitive and also for delegates to be more choosey about events and where they would go,” Tennyson said. “So centers really started differentiating themselves. The term destination design, which you hear quite a bit now, became more of an issue.”
The challenges to creating a distinctive experience are abundant, and convention center operators, architects and designers working on new construction and renovation projects must contend with a range of considerations when investing in a convention center’s physical space to better serve meeting attendees.
“Whether new construction or renovation, convention center design is currently focused on catering to the needs of not only current generations, but future ones as well,” said Adam Paulitsch, senior associate at Populous. “As a result, convention centers are becoming ‘multigenerational’ to fit the mold of the current user, while anticipating the needs of the next.”

An emphasis on flexibility
Paulitsch said convention centers have inherent potential as homes for innovative, flexible spaces.
“The modern convention center is arguably one of the most versatile building types on the planet, and as they evolve to meet an ever-increasing list of demands for upcoming generations this point will only grow stronger,” Paulitsch said.
Susan Sieger, principal with Crossroads Consulting Services, which advises the convention, sports and entertainment industry, said convention and meeting planners have adopted an emphasis on “more flexible and unique spaces that can be customized to their specific usage demands.”
“Facilities are continually trying to differentiate themselves from the competition via physical space within their buildings,” Sieger said. “Instead of simply adding single-use dedicated space, such as exhibit halls and meeting rooms, many centers are adding hybrid, flex space which can be utilized for a variety of purposes and types of events and can be expanded or contracted depending on each meeting planner’s needs.”
Paulitsch said the International Convention Center Sydney and the Anaheim (Calif.) Convention Center both represent examples of flexible, multigenerational design.
“ICC Sydney embodies this by breaking down the traditional singular convention center building into multiple,” Paulitsch said. “This effectively creates a campus which enables multiple events to take place simultaneously, affording each one its own unique experience. The movable walls featured in Anaheim’s most recent convention center expansion also follow this concept, transforming one expansive space into several.”

Tennyson said pre-function spaces previously were employed as nothing more than spaces to pass through. Now, meeting planners are looking to make them lively parts of their events, places where attendees can gather between sessions in impromptu or lightly organized fashion.
“The idea of the one-hour speaker with an audience either sitting in a classroom setup or a lecture setup, where that used to be the majority of events, you're going to start seeing that in the minority,” Tennyson said. “I don't think they'll disappear, but the industry is evolving — people learn differently and design should reflect that.”
Ken Stockdell, vice president, convention center group practice leader at HKS Architects, said the shift toward nontraditional room sets and “blurring the lines between the meeting space, where content has traditionally been delivered, and the public concourses is an interesting trend with the meeting planners. It will be interesting to see how upcoming projects respond to this. I think there will be an increase in public concourse space as a percentage of gross area to accommodate a variety of furnishings and amenities in these spaces.”

Convention-goers’ dining expectations have evolved in alignment with general food trends. In particular, Damon Bell, senior director of convention sales with Georgia World Congress Center Authority, said, “Locally grown and flexible dining options continue to have influence.”
For instance, the Georgia World Congress Center recently opened Social Table, which features a rotating menu of Southern cuisine. The convention center also houses Southern Roots Cafe, which has locally sourced coffee, pastries and produce, and Googie Burger, which is located in Centennial Olympic Park and emphasizes Georgia-based ingredients.
Stockdell said convention center retail food options increasingly feature variety and health- conscious selections. In addition, “farm-to-table is becoming the norm for banquet menu choices.”

Stockdell said convention center expansions increasingly are using vertical construction to add new space.
“On urban sites, where most convention centers are or want to be located, land is a precious commodity, so the only way to go is up or down,” Stockdell said. “We’ve seen this happen in San Francisco with Moscone Center’s expansion; Baltimore is planning on a similar strategy. The expansion that is planned at the Colorado Convention Center is on its existing roof, and the expansion underway in Seattle is another example.

Deborah Breiter Terry, a professor at the University of Central Florida who specializes in convention and trade show management, said convention centers tend to be more naturally integrated into their neighborhoods in Europe and Asia than in the U.S.
“But we are starting to see convention districts develop [in the U.S.] that have more shopping and entertainment options that local residents might want to visit,” Terry said.
Stockdell said thinking about convention centers as part of an events/entertainment district is gaining momentum in the U.S.
“There are numerous examples of convention centers that were built in open land on the edges of cities — Atlanta, Houston and L.A. are three examples — that have taken as much as 20 years to create enough development momentum to fill the gap,” Stockdell said. “The realization that it may take incentives to accelerate this process is taking hold more broadly, and that’s beginning to change the thinking about how a convention center integrates with its neighborhood.”
Sieger said she is seeing more designs that emphasize urban planning and the convention center’s place in its city.
“This includes integration into the surrounding neighborhood to create a full destination experience for both convention attendees and local business and residents, resulting in a more seamless integration with the surrounding neighborhoods and communities rather than just a standalone facility,” Sieger said.
Sieger said meeting planners and attendees are looking for campus-style settings around the convention center, providing amenities such as hotels, restaurants, entertainment venues and attractions within walking distance of the convention center. She pointed to Los Angeles’ L.A. Live campus, which includes Los Angeles Convention Center, Staples Center and Microsoft Theater alongside retail and restaurant offerings, as an example of this layout. Stockdell noted that “ground-level retail and street-facing restaurants are increasingly discussed as part of the project planning.”
Bell said hotels play a major role in the convenience and accessibility equation. “Connectivity and ease of convention traffic is always top of mind with any organizer of large conventions and events,” he said. “Convention hotels continue to be added to the landscape in the U.S., particularly adjacent to centers such as ours. Marriott recently added 1,000-plus-room hotels next to the convention centers in Chicago and Houston, and the Georgia World Congress Center soon will be announcing our plans for a new connected hotel in Atlanta.”

Just as the use of pre-function space is being re-evaluated, Breiter Terry said convention centers are finding more value in their outdoor property.
“For several years, convention centers have been competing with hotels to create attractive spaces that are warm, welcoming and sometimes stimulating,” Breiter Terry said. “There are more outdoor spaces being used at convention centers (other than parking lots for big exhibits). Connecting convention centers to nearby hotels with skybridges (whether enclosed or not) will continue.
Sieger said multifunctional outdoor spaces give attendees a less traditional way to connect with each other and to engage with a convention center’s setting and other nearby elements.
“Rather than comprising just four walls and no natural light, the new plazas, covered or partially tented rooftops, terraces, lawns and other spaces provide a unique view and interaction with the city around them,” Sieger said.

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Posted: 1 Oct 2017, 7:00 pm

The sports and entertainment business, through music, athletic competition and face-to-face gatherings, is woven into the fabric of our community. Embracing the quality-of-life argument when funding arenas, stadiums and convention centers comes naturally to me after 40 years of covering the business.
But the role family shows have in that community had somewhat escaped me. I knew those events brought families together, got them off the couch, helped them make memories. But Sesame Street Live! Let’s Party! goes even further. It’s about teaching children to be kinder and gentler, to contribute to a community, and to protect the environment. It’s a message that resonates loudly in these turbulent, violent times.
Before immersing myself in dress rehearsals at Feld Entertainment Studios in Ellenton, Fla., I hadn’t thought a lot about the motivation behind the creativity that produces entertainment. From costumer to producer to company manager to set designer, inspiration in this instance came from immersing themselves in Sesame Workshop’s educational mission at the television studios in New York, a strategy that brought many to tears as they realized the impact the project could have.
Nicole Feld, producer, brought the sensibilities of a mom of young children along as well, testing concepts on her kids, reveling in their delight at touching iconic symbols on Sesame Street.
The whole experience revealed what fun Feld employees have. Rob Lange, company manager, was joking that everyone’s dream is a one-truck show, but this one will take three. I said Champions of Magic managed to get their show on one truck, and he quipped, “Sure, they make things disappear.”
The design team took the task of making cookies that crumble for one of the gags to heart. Designer Michelle Bruback spent her weekend studying how the cookie crumbles, concocting a recipe of water, paper and hot glue that resulted in the perfect prop. The key is in the dehydration, she said.
Dawna Oak was happy to switch from the “random fire suit repair” on Monster Jam to finding perfect and timeless fashion statements suitable for Citizens of Sesame Street to dance and play in while also engaging the audience in the look. Their attention to detail is astounding. I will never again wonder why it takes a year to produce a family show.
I did not grow up on Sesame Street, nor did I have kids who did. But by the time I had interviewed half a dozen of the crew behind the new Feld production, I felt very privileged and even unreasonably nostalgic to sit on the stoop of 123 Brownstone.
If you are one of those 68 venue managers hosting the first run of the Feld version of Sesame Street Live! I highly recommend taking a walk on Sesame Street, be a child again, imagine the thrill if you were two again. And remember to bring in additional booster seats and diaper changing tables – we still need to be practical.
Feld has created a Preshow Experience so that up to 200 guests per show can walk on Sesame Street. They are a brave bunch. Little kids move slowly and dance to their own drummer. But it’s more than a show, it’s experiences.
God grant you many years to create a kinder, gentler world.

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Comcast Spectacor CEO Starts Esports Team
Posted: 27 Sep 2017, 7:00 pm

Flyers CEO Dave Scott says he'll seek out an Overwatch arena in Philadelphia that's about a quarter the size of Wells Fargo Center.

(Editor's note: this story first appeared in

Philadelphia Flyers governor and parent company Comcast Spectacor CEO Dave Scott announced Wednesday that he’s building an esports team to compete in a new city-based league operated by Blizzard Activision meant to mirror the structure of conventional sports.

The Philadelphia-based team was named as one of the final three teams signed on to compete in Blizzard’s inaugural Overwatch League. The other two are Dallas-based Team EnVyUS, a veteran esports organization, and Houston-based OpTic Gaming, a leader in first-person-shooter esports.

In July, the Overwatch League added a number of other franchises operated by conventional sports team owners to the 12-team league, including New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft and New York Mets Chief Operating Officer Jeff Wilpon, who will operate the Boston and New York-based teams, respectively. Stan Kroenke, owner of teams including the Los Angeles Rams and Denver Nuggets, purchased a Los Angeles team along with his son, Josh.

The league will be comprised of franchises representing major cities around the world from Asia, Europe and North America. Preseason is set to kick off Dec 6, with the regular season running from Jan.10 through June, with playoffs and finals scheduled for July.

While this isn’t the first time we’ve seen traditional sports owners dabble in esports, the Overwatch League is meant to be the closest such league yet to mirror the structure of traditional sports. The league will have a commissioner and offer team support and revenue-sharing agreements. Like conventional sports, its city-based team headquarters are meant to foster fan engagement and drive local ticket, concessions and merchandise sales.

“I love the idea of the city-based model. It’s kind of structured like a sports league and I think it’s going to add so much to it,” said Scott in an interview with SportTechie.

Scott believes Comcast Spectacor will be able to leverage its storied history in sports and venue management to build a team and fanbase seen as potentially mirroring the success of the Flyers, but on a smaller scale.

While all of the teams this Overwatch season will compete at the Blizzard Arena in Burbank, Calif., these teams will eventually (either in season two or three) expand their presence in their home cities with their own venues and events in an attempt to build fan bases.

Overwatch League hopes to engage more of these kinds of fans with the city-based model. “We’re partnering with many organizations that have venues and local infrastructure that plan to build businesses around these teams,” said Pete Vlastelica, who oversees the Overwatch League for Blizzard.

The Philadelphia Overwatch team (which has not yet been fully built or given a name) would likely compete in a space that has a capacity for 3,000 to 5,000, which would be a quarter of the capacity of the Flyers’ Wells Fargo Center. But Scott said that they’d build “something pretty cool” to attract fans.

“We know how to build a fanbase and we’re in the live entertainment space with Wells Fargo Center and through Comcast Spectacor with 150 facilities in North America,” he said. “That’s what we do, we bring live events to life.”

These nontraditional sports fans are attractive not only because of their age (the vast majority of esports players range in age from 13 to 34, according to statistics cited by Scott during the interview), but also because they are fans of competition, despite stereotypes claiming them to be loners that sit alone in dark basements playing video games.

Overwatch is a multiplayer shooting game

“I think the connotation that these people who play games are not traditional sports fans is correct, but there’s a lot of data showing they still watch sports, just not for three to four hours,” Scott said. These league games are closer to 90 minutes, which Overwatch fans can more easily get behind.

“I was surprised as we started to look at this seriously a few months ago, just the number of gamers worldwide being in the hundreds of millions,” he said. “It’s amazing when you really get into it — 350,000-plus Overwatch players in this market.”

Vlastelica said the city-based model is something “that’s been missing from esports” because it will help to drive demand for esports overall simply by stationing popular teams in major cities.

“We saw how well it worked in traditional sports and felt it needed to be applied to the world of esports,” he told SportTechie. “For those who don’t watch esports today, we think having a team situated in a city near them gives them a reason to follow. Teams are great for creating fans. There’d be a lot fewer baseball fans in Houston (for example) if it weren’t for the Astros.”


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Gensler Joins OVG
Posted: 27 Sep 2017, 7:00 pm

09-27-17_AndyGensler_200x145.jpgAndy Gensler.

Oak View Group (OVG) has named veteran music industry journalist Andy Gensler as executive editor of its media & conferences division. He will be based out of OVG’s Los Angeles offices and report directly to Ray Waddell, the company’s president, media & conferences, with whom he will formulate and execute editorial strategy for the firm’s media holdings which include Pollstar and Venues Today.

Gensler previously worked as an editor and writer at, where he's covered the music business. Previously, Gensler's varied career included working for the New York Times T-Style Magazine, and Spin. He has written for many publications, including The Village Voice, Rolling Stone and the New York Times, among others.

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Puerto Rico Center Home To 600 FEMA Workers
Posted: 27 Sep 2017, 6:00 pm

Puerto Rico Convention Center stands strong after the devastation that Hurriucane Maria brought to the U.S. territory. 

Although the eye of Hurricane Maria completely destroyed most of Puerto Rico, the island’s convention center sustained minor damage and is now home to 600 FEMA workers and 200 evacuees.

AEG operates the Puerto Rico Convention Center that sits on a bay of the Caribbean Sea.

“Puerto Rico was hit directly by Maria, a Cat5 Hurricane, causing devastation throughout our beautiful island. The Puerto Rico Convention Center (PRCC) held up extremely well; we passed a real life wind test like no other. A true testament of an amazing job by TVS Design and the team that constructed our venue,” said PRCC General Manager Jorge Perez. “Within 48 to 72 hours, we were fully operational again.”

The PRCC is largely made of glass and is located in San Juan. It has a 157,000-sq.-ft. exhibit hall that has 16,965 seats. It also has a large ballroom and meeting space.

“The silver lining for us is the convention center is fairly new. It was built to be able to sustain storms like this,” said Brad Gessner, AEG Facilities senior vice president of convention centers. “There was some leakage and some water that got in the carpet, but within five days, our team was able to wetvac it.”

AEG and the Puerto Rico Convention Center District Authority were well prepared for the destructive Category 5 hurricane before it hit.

“Our team prepares for storms and hurricanes on a yearly basis; these natural phenomena are one of the only downsides of living in a tropical paradise. The week before Hurricane Maria, we had to prepare for Irma, a monster hurricane that was moving straight toward us and fortunately took a northern route that saved us,” Perez said.

“Irma was a blessing in disguise for us as it served as the best possible drill for preparing for a hurricane,” he said. “We ran the before, during and after procedures for Irma and later discussed them with our AEG Safety and Management teams, evaluated and corrected all the necessary details. We were ready for Maria.”

Hurricane Irma, didn’t hit Puerto Rico with as much force as anticipated. The kitchen was fully stocked, and the convention center has three large generators that can power the facility for 30 days.

Most evacuees were sent to schools, but AEG was aware that FEMA would use the convention center for its headquarters prior to Hurricane Maria. The Puerto Rico government did, however, have it set up that it would take refugees from surrounding islands.

“We’re feeding them breakfast, lunch and dinner,” Gessner said. “We were prepared. All is going very well.”

AEG took over management at the Puerto Rico Convention Center in 2016 and was on track to operate in the black for the first time since the venue opened 17 years ago, Gessner said.

“We were confident we were going to have an operation surplus this year. That’s all going to change,” he said. “The island is seriously impacted; it’s devastated.”

Many of the 75 employees — among other groups — are staying at the 550-room Sheraton Hotel that’s next to the convention center.

AEG also manages the Centro de Bellas Artes Luis A. Ferre, which is a 100-year-old performing arts center. It sustained a little more damage than the PRCC, but not too much, Gessner said.

Perez’s home was flooded and many of his employees lost their homes.

“As almost all of the 3.4 million U.S. citizens of Puerto Rico, my home was flooded. Only minor material damage — furniture, carpets. Once you experience such a devastating event, the first thing you do is be grateful that your family and close ones are safe,” said Perez.

“Material things become secondary; employees, neighbors can outweigh and help overcome any loss of property or material things,” he said. “Unfortunately we had employees that lost their homes. While Maria wreaked massive damage in Puerto Rico, dedicated employees slept at PRCC to make sure our building and vital systems/equipment were protected. Some of these employees lost their homes, one of the most difficult things I’ve had to deal with emotionally.”


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Notre Dame’s Sassano Passes
Posted: 27 Sep 2017, 6:00 pm

Joseph Patrick Sassano Jr. passed away in his home peacefully surrounded by family Sept.19. Sassano worked at the Joyce Center, University of Notre Dame, South Bend, Ind., in administration and management from its opening in 1968 until his retirement in 2003. He helped coordinate a long list of events, ranging from presidential visits to performances by entertainers such as Elvis Presley, Bob Hope, Frank Sinatra, Bruce Springsteen, Harlem Globetrotters and many more.

Sassano was an active member of the International Association of Venue Managers when it was IAAM and as one fellow member put it, one of the old guard. He managed venues when it was a different kind of career and GMs served as hosts and guides. His career was shaped by years as a high school football coach.

He is survived by his wife Carol and four children: Joseph III (Maureen), David (Carolyn), Jennifer (Stephen) D'Ambrosia, and Jessica (Dennis) Payne. He has eight grandchildren; Corinne (Heather Hahn; their two foster daughters) and Colby Sassano; Christian and Isabelle Sassano; Allison D'Ambrosia; Nathan (Dr. Cynthia), Alex, and Seth Payne.

Sassano was involved in numerous community organizations over his 49 years as a resident of South Bend, including the Chamber of Commerce, Press Club, Notre Dame Club of St. Joe Valley where he served as president, and the Italian-American Heritage Society of Notre Dame/Michiana, where he was awarded their Columbus Award for service to community along with serving as that organization’s president.

Sassano was also instrumental in the development of Notre Dame's summer sports camps back in the early 1970s. He attended Notre Dame, earning a bachelor's degree in 1955 and a master's in guidance and counseling in 1959.

He served three years in the United States Marine Corps, where he coached the Quantico football team. His passion for coaching led him to Chicago in 1959, where he spent nine years as head football coach at Archbishop Weber High School

In 1972, Sassano was inducted into the Chicago Catholic League Athletic Coaches' Association Hall of Fame.

“I knew Joe for over 40 years,” said Tom Powell, news ambassador, Outdoor Amusement Business Association. “Being a big Notre Dame fan, Joe arranged it so that I could sit in the press box there, which was great.”

Sassano was a good host to industry friends. “He did a million favors for me,” said Powell. “He’d get me tickets whenever I wanted; he used to hand me the clicker to get into the parking lot.”

“At Joyce Center he was the equivalent of the building manager,” he said. “When we’d go up there, he’d go out of his way for us.”

“He invited my wife and myself into his home many times,” he said. “We’d have a great meal and we’d spend the rest of the night talking sports.”

“Joe was more than just a friend,” said Powell. “He was a great person.”


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Anaheim Opens $190M North Hall
Posted: 27 Sep 2017, 5:00 pm

REPORTING FROM ANAHEIM, CALIF. — Anaheim Convention Center (ACC) has unveiled its largest and most significant expansion in nearly two decades, ACC North. The massive new building is 200,000 sq. ft. which, combined with the rest of ACC, makes the venue one of the few 1 million-plus square footage meeting spaces in North America and the largest on the West Coast. The expansion cost $190 million.

The 22,000-capacity venue was designed by Populous. The two-story facility features 100,000 sq. ft. of column free space on the top level; a 10,000-sq.-ft. balcony which overlooks Disneyland; rigging points spaced 10x10 on each level and pre-function space with more than 2,000 rigging points; 25 ft. ceilings; a 12,000-sq.-ft. kitchen with 6,000-banquet capacity; 1,400 panes of glass; and 1,350 new parking spaces.

TomMorton200.jpgTom Morton, executive director, Anaheim Convention, Sports and Entertainment Department.

“This is a transformative event for the Anaheim Convention Center,” said Tom Morton, executive director of Anaheim’s Convention, Sports & Entertainment Department. “Not only is it our biggest expansion since 2000; it’s also one of the most significant in terms of the features and innovations it brings to Anaheim.”

“With the expansion, the complex is now at 1.8 million sq. ft.,” said Morton. “We can accommodate almost anything. With several major hotels nearby, and all our sunshine, this makes Anaheim the perfect place to bring an event.”

“The interior is designed to evoke the skin of a palm tree trunk," said Morton. “The use of warm materials and natural daylight provide a pleasant and comfortable experience.”

“This is a historical moment for the Anaheim Convention Center and the city of Anaheim,” said Jay Burress, president & CEO, Visit Anaheim. “ACC delivers on the vision we had to build a modern, expansive space that can be completely customizable for a variety of industries and meeting planner needs. This beautiful new space considerably adds to our current offerings and ability to attract more groups to choose Anaheim.”

Ground broke April 21, 2015. The grand opening of the building, Sept. 26, comes on the heels of ACC and the rest of the Anaheim entertainment district setting a new visitor volume for the fourth year in a row. The area hosted 23 million visitors, up 2.4 percent from the previous year, of which 5.8 percent were international visitors. The economic impact to the district last year was a staggering $8.1 billion.

“Four years in a row of surpassing visitor volume and spending records makes it clear that tourism is a key factor in the economic success and prosperity of our local community,” said Burress. “The strength of our local tourism is clearly evident by the positive domestic and international visitor growth, coupled with new hotel development. We anticipate that the next few years will continue to prove the positive economic impact tourism has on local development and the economy.”

Four new hotels are being readied close to ACC. A new $150 million, 466-room JW Marriott is being built adjacent to Anaheim Garden Walk. Replacing the Anaheim Plaza & Suites will be a 580-room property. A $225 million, 600-room hotel will replace the Anabella Hotel, which is adjacent to ACC and Disney is building a new 700-room luxury hotel, the first in nearly 20 years.

“Our hotel partners are terrific,” said Morton. “There is an abundance of places to stay within walking distance of ACC, which sets us apart from a lot of other convention centers.”

ACC currently hosts nearly one million attendees a year. ACC North already has over 75 events booked, including the American Heart Association, Oncology Nursing Society, Society for Science & the Public, and International Society for Technology in Education.

“We’re well on our way,” added Morton. “We’re off to a great start, and I expect it to grow as word catches on about our new addition.”



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Kansas ExpoCentre Selects Spectra
Posted: 27 Sep 2017, 3:00 pm

Spectra is now managing Kansas ExpoCentre, Topeka.

The County of Shawnee, Kan. has picked Spectra by Comcast Spectacor to provide venue management to the Kansas ExpoCentre, Topeka, and its five-facility campus. The building had been managed by SMG for 25 years.

“We’re a few weeks in at this point,” said Kellen Seitz, GM. “We were already coming in, so no surprises, and it’s full steam ahead.” Seitz has been with Spectra seven years, most recently as GM of Muskogee (Okla.) Civic Center.

The contract is for five years with a five-year option. It’s an incentive-based deal with no base management fee. “We’ll be accountable for what we said we’d do and this arrangement gives us the responsibility to manage the operation closely,” said Seitz.

The Kansas ExpoCentre, is comprised of five facilities, including the 7,400-seat Landon Arena, home of the Topeka Roadrunners hockey team; Expo Hall, a 48,000-sq.-ft. venue for trade shows, conventions and expositions; the Domer Livestock  Arena; Heritage Hall; and a standalone 17,800-sq.ft. Agriculture Hall. All this sits on 88 acres.

“The real focus for us is the sales and marketing approach,” said Seitz. “Spectra’s knowledge and experience in sales and marketing of venues is something the county found valuable when we went through the RFP process.”

To meet this goal, Spectra created three new positions: marketing director, corporate partnership director and convention sales manager. “The three positions will go a long way in bringing the community back into the picture,” he said.

Currently the complex hosts 600 events a year. “It’s always a goal to expand the number of events and increase the quality,” said Seitz.

“We look forward to becoming active members of the community and creating new opportunities for the ExpoCentre and the surrounding region,” said Rick Hontz, regional VP. “Spectra has a lot of corporate partnerships and resources that we are bringing with us; we are in a unique position to leverage some of our local venues to create routing opportunities and other partnerships.”

Spectra also operates the nearby Silverstein Eye Centers Arena in Independence, Mo.; and the Overland Park (Kan.) Convention Center.

“The routing scenarios are something we’re keen on,” said Seitz. “We think we can bring content back to the Topeka market.”

Also in the works is a $45-million renovation project that’s in the planning stage. “We’re working with the county and hopefully breaking ground in the next 18-24 months,” said Seitz. “We need to bring some of the facilities back up to industry standards and install new technologies and customer focused experiential pieces to give a better experience to our guests.” The complex will remain functional during the renovation.

The concessionaire is Heartland of America; the firm just renewed their contract with the county earlier this year. “They run a great operation,” said Seitz. “The concessions do well. We’re also looking at expanding the operation when we make the changes.”

“We realized that we needed a company that could focus and improve our sales and marketing campaigns, as well as develop long-lasting partnerships with local businesses, and Spectra can do all of that for us,” said County Commissioner Bob Archer. “Spectra’s deep experience gained from managing similar properties will be a valuable asset to our $45-million-dollar renovation project that is forthcoming. We are excited for what they will bring to our community.”


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Hot Tickets for September 27, 2017
Posted: 27 Sep 2017, 2:00 pm

The 2017 Mr. Olympia competition was held Sept. 15-16 at Orleans Arena, Las Vegas, and landed on our Hot Tickets chart this week. The professional bodybuilding competition, which saw a crowd of nearly 11,000 and grossed over $1.5 million, had special guest Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson announce Phil Heath as this year’s winner. This is Heath’s seventh consecutive title; he is now tied with Arnold Schwarzenegger for the Mr. Olympia record. Heath earned the Eugen Sandow Trophy and pocketed $400,000 for his efforts.

The much-anticipated Canelo vs. Golovkin fight Sept. 16 at T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas, grossed over $27 million with ticket prices ranging from $300-$5,000. The packed house witnessed 12 full rounds of boxing action, extraordinary endurance, and athletic showmanship; however, at the end of the match, the two fighters, and the 18,000 fans in attendance had to wait for the winner to be decided by three judges. Unfortunately, much to the chagrin of the fighters, attendees and those watching from home, the decision was an unsatisfying draw in which no winner was named. Both fighters are considering the possibility of a rematch.

HOT TICKETS is a weekly summary of the top acts and ticket sales as reported to VT PULSE. Following are the top 20 concerts and events, the top 5 in each seating capacity category, which took place between Aug. 29-Sept. 26.

15,001 or More Seats

10,001-15,000 Seats

5,001-10,000 Seats

5,000 or Fewer Seats

1) Canelo vs. Golovkin
Gross Sales: $27,059,850; Venue: T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas; Attendance: 18,252; Ticket Range: $5,000-$300; Promoter: Golden Boy Promotions; Dates: Sept. 16; No. of Shows: 1

2) The Weeknd
Gross Sales: $1,548,116; Venue: Air Canada Centre, Toronto; Attendance: 15,652; Ticket Range: $141.49-$32.14; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Sept. 9; No. of Shows: 1

3) Depeche Mode
Gross Sales: $1,487,127; Venue: Air Canada Centre, Toronto; Attendance: 15,080; Ticket Range: $120.47-$48.11; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Sept. 3; No. of Shows: 1

4) Micky Flanagan
Gross Sales: $1,433,785; Venue: The O2 Arena, London; Attendance: 31,153; Ticket Range: $50.53-$33.69; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Sept. 14-15; No. of Shows: 2

5) Alejandro Fernandez
Gross Sales: $1,237,100; Venue: T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas; Attendance: 9,614; Ticket Range: $225-$69; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Sept. 15; No. of Shows: 1

1) Neil Diamond
Gross Sales: $1,199,811; Venue: Hallenstadion, Zurich; Attendance: 6,202; Ticket Range: $304.66-$82.26; Promoter: Act Entertainment; Dates: Sept. 13; No. of Shows: 1

2) Marc Anthony
Gross Sales: $1,024,331; Venue: Mandalay Bay Events Center, Las Vegas; Attendance: 7,205; Ticket Range: $249-$79; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Sept. 16; No. of Shows: 1

3) Tim McGraw, Faith Hill
Gross Sales: $877,268; Venue: Intrust Bank Arena, Wichita, Kan.; Attendance: 8,390; Ticket Range: $119.50-$69.50; Promoter: Messina Touring Group; Dates: Sept. 21; No. of Shows: 1

4) Tim McGraw, Faith Hill
Gross Sales: $789,977; Venue: Jacksonville (Fla.) Veterans Memorial Arena; Attendance: 8,064; Ticket Range: $118-$68; Promoter: AEG Presents; Dates: Sept. 16; No. of Shows: 1

5) Marco Antonio Solis
Gross Sales: $756,949; Venue: Mandalay Bay Events Center, Las Vegas; Attendance: 5,726; Ticket Range: $276.50-$79.21; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Sept. 15; No. of Shows: 1

1) Mr. Olympia
Gross Sales: $1,517,130; Venue: Orleans Arena, Las Vegas; Attendance: 10,887; Ticket Range: $330-$92; Promoter: Mr. Olympia; Dates: Sept. 15-16; No. of Shows: 2

2) Jonathan Lee
Gross Sales: $568,329; Venue: Park Theater at Monte Carlo, Las Vegas; Attendance: 4,459; Ticket Range: $198-$78; Promoter: MGM Resorts; Dates: Sept. 9; No. of Shows: 1

3) Taeyang
Gross Sales: $539,949; Venue: The Theater at Madison Square Garden, New York; Attendance: 3,509; Ticket Range: $319-$75; Promoter: KPOPME; Dates: Sept. 1; No. of Shows: 1

4) I Love The 90’s
Gross Sales: $489,102; Venue: Mohegan Sun Arena, Uncasville, Conn.; Attendance: 6,846; Ticket Range: $89.50-$33; Promoter: In-house, Universal Attractions; Dates: Sept. 2; No. of Shows: 1

5) Cirque du Soleil - OVO
Gross Sales: $475,041; Venue: Place Bell, Laval, Quebec; Attendance: 8,739; Ticket Range: $121.28-$31.52; Promoter: Cirque du Soleil; Dates: Sept. 13-17; No. of Shows: 6

1) Cher
Gross Sales: $2,752,025; Venue: The Theater at MGM National Harbor, Oxon Hill, Md.; Attendance: 14,560; Ticket Range: $360-$120; Promoter: AEG Presents, MGM Resorts; Dates: Aug. 31-Sept. 10; No. of Shows: 6

2) The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
Gross Sales: $1,016,123; Venue: The Smith Center for the Performing Arts, Las Vegas; Attendance: 12,520; Ticket Range: $105-$32; Promoter: In-house; Dates: Sept. 19-24; No. of Shows: 8

3) Gloria Trevi vs Alejandra Guzman
Gross Sales: $919,771; Venue: The Colosseum at Caesars Palace, Las Vegas; Attendance: 7,550; Ticket Range: $250-$59.50; Promoter: AEG Presents, Caesars Entertainment; Dates: Sept. 14-17; No. of Shows: 2

4) Rent
Gross Sales: $831,151; Venue: David A. Straz, Jr. Center for the Performing Arts, Tampa, Fla.; Attendance: 14,899; Ticket Range: $90-$27.50; Promoter: In-house; Dates: Sept. 19-24; No. of Shows: 8

5) Jerry Seinfeld
Gross Sales: $800,784; Venue: The Colosseum at Caesars Palace, Las Vegas; Attendance: 6,569; Ticket Range: $165-$82.50; Promoter: AEG Presents, Caesars Entertainment; Dates: Sept. 8-9; No. of Shows: 2

The Weekly Hot Tickets chart is compiled by Monique Potter. To submit reports, e-mail or fax to (714) 378-0040.


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Tampa Venue Houses Hurricane First Responders
Posted: 27 Sep 2017, 1:00 pm

As Hurricane Irma came barreling toward Florida’s west coast, Tampa’s Raymond James Stadium, home to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, became a main staging area for housing the city’s police and fire personnel as well as members of the military.

In all, the 65,000-seat stadium, opened in 1998, housed approximately 1,200 first responders during the storm. Some Buccaneers players also sheltered their families in the locker room, and a few venue employees were put to work, including catering and cleaning staff.

“Everyone had to be off the street when the storm hits, so we serve as a safe haven for first responders during the storm and after,” said Eric Hart, president/CEO of Tampa Sports Authority, which manages Raymond James Stadium. “We weren’t the only place to take these personnel, but we were the largest.”

Raymond James Stadium is rated for hurricane force winds, centrally located and on high ground in an area that doesn’t flood. “The stadium wasn’t designed as a hurricane shelter for the community, but rather a central location for emergency service personnel,” said Hart.

The facility also was used to store about 150 police, amphibious and fire department vehicles “We started seeing these modes of transport arrive a couple days ahead of the storm, but this was the first time the Marines sent their amphibian vehicles,” said Hart. “We had the building stuffed tight, with everyone positioned in different portions of the building.”

The police, fire department and military were fed three meals a day in one catering area during their stay, which lasted approximately five days.

Although the stadium was put into similar action during Hurricane Charley in 2004, this was the first time a gathering of this scope with a larger contingency of military personnel had taken place.

Hart estimated that the amount of people involved in the staging was about three times larger than any other.

About 600 officers from the Tampa Police Department utilized the west side of the venue, working in patrol and hurricane operations throughout the storm.

“We have three tiers, depending on the storm’s severity and what personnel are needed to respond,” said Sargent Jerrett Seal of the Tampa Police Department. “When we activate tier three, like in this situation, it’s all hands on deck, and we utilize the stadium.”

Eddy Durkin, Tampa Police Department spokesperson, estimates that one-third of its department was housed at the stadium during the peak of the storm.

“Once the winds died down, they could quickly deploy to the streets and assess the damage,” he said. “It’s a benefit to have our personnel and vehicles all in one safe location.”

The stadium had four of its staff members on call and 15 working in the catering and cleaning operations to accommodate the first responders.

“This time around, we learned that in the future we need more staff in the building, like electricians, caterers and cleaning staff, since we become a working city,” said Hart.



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Congratulations 2017 Silver Spoon Award recipients!
Posted: 26 Sep 2017, 2:00 pm

Congratulations to our 2017 Silver Spoon Award recipients!  Learn more about the recipients in the October issue!

Jade Peacock Speakeasy
2017 San Diego County Fair (Del Mar, Calif.)
Creator: Sue Walls (Dir. of Catering & Dining Premier Food Services /SMG)

Premier Food Services created the Jade Peacock Speakeasy as an exclusive experience where select San Diego County fairgoers who got word of the bar’s secret location could enjoy craft cocktails and an exclusive view of the Fair. The goal of the concept was to disrupt preconceived ideas of the county fair by creating a fun and authentic experience. Honoring the Chinese immigrants who worked on the railroads and in gold mining camps in the late 1800s, the Jade Peacock was open to fairgoers 21+ for those able to find the speakeasy on Friday and Saturday evenings. Promoted via social media and press coverage, the Speakeasy’s adventurous visitors had to find a Jade Peacock card with the password of the day at one of 3 theme bar locations. If the bar was at capacity, the hostess would take a cell number and text back when space allowed. Guests were guided on a winding, clandestine walk through a farming exhibit and an underground tunnel up to the highest spot on the Fairgrounds with the secretive path ending at the 5th floor Speakeasy and its elaborately deco

Golden 1 Center (Sacramento, CA)
Creator: Santana Diaz (Legends Exec. Chef)

“Juanchos” reflect the values of our 10-point charter and take the arena’s fabulous nachos – a four cheese blend crafted from Petaluma creamery (70 miles away), a 50/50 blend of Casa Sanchez purple quinoa/blue corn totopos and white corn organic & GMO-free tortilla chips, house made guacamole, and slow roasted pulled pork carnitas sourced from national recognized Rancho Llano Seco (75 miles) – and add a Golden 1 Center sustainability and flavor twist. During the carnitas process, pork skins would previously be discarded. But the culinary team led by Executive Chef Santana Diaz found an innovative use to enhance the flavor profile of the nachos at the arena. After the steam and fry process, the team has created airy, light chicharrones, or fried pork skins, that add a new flavor profile to the nachos. Named for the venue’s first general manager (Juan Rodriguez), Juanchos ($13) embraces the farm-to-fork and sustainability ethos of the arena and teams – local ingredients from responsible sources and a deliberate effort to reduce waste. Juanchos has even graced the pages of Vogue, described as the “perfect pigginess” combination.

Seafood Sustainability by Partnering with Ocean Wise
Air Canada Centre (Toronto, Canada)

For the 2016-17 season, Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment and Air Canada Centre took a bold step toward seafood sustainability by partnering with Ocean Wise. Ocean Wise, in partnership with the Vancouver Aquarium, is a global organization that has been reshaping the seafood industry through lobbying, education and fact finding for the past 12 years. They currently have 750 partners globally and thousands of committed purchasers. Air Canada Centre is the first and only professional sports arena to partner with Ocean Wise. In all of MLSE’s venues, including Air Canada Centre, BMO Field, Ricoh Coliseum, Real Sports Bar & Grill and e11even Restaurant, we have made a commitment to source all of our seafood through traceable sustainable sources. Last year alone MLSE purchased in excess of $400,000 of sustainable fish and seafood for all of our venues, with 75% of that in Air Canada Centre alone. Along with our relationships with Second Harvest for food diversion, GFL for food waste composting and a commitment to locally sourced products, MLSE has made a pledge to its fans and the city of Toronto to be a responsible member of the community and lead by example when it comes to protecting our community, our oceans as well as our future.

Ad Deadline: October 2, 2017
Contact your Account Executive to Reserve A Congratulatory Ad Today!

Jim McNeil
Carolinas, Georgia, Southeastern and Midwestern U.S.,
(207) 699-3343

Rich DiGiacomo
Western and Northeastern U.S., International
(310) 429-3678

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Universities Partner With Kinduct
Posted: 20 Sep 2017, 9:00 pm

James Madison University, Harrisonburg, Va., and North Carolina State University, Chapel Hill, have partnered with Kinduct.

James Madison University, Harrisonburg, Va., and North Carolina State University, Chapel Hill, are the two latest schools to form partnerships with Kinduct, a leading data and analytics software provider, that will help the medical staffs, coaching staffs and athletes with additional information.

JMU and NC State join schools like Louisville in this partnership, with the Cardinals and Kinduct joining forces back in 2016.

Through collecting and analyzing a set of data points, Kinduct’s Athlete Management System (AMS) technology can allow for coaches to make decisions regarding their athlete’s performance, injury mitigation and recovery as well as how to prepare for their next competitor.

At NC State, the technology will be used in all Olympic sports.

“Having an intuitive monitoring platform, that supports our existing process, will help achieve our goals,” Nate Brookerson, NC State director of Strength and conditioning of Olympic sports, said in a statement. “Kinduct’s platform expands our capabilities to collect, manage and utilize our student performance data in a meaningful way. The coaching staff is excited to introduce the Kinduct platform this upcoming academic year, and see the results.”

“We are thrilled to have Kinduct on board and working with our programs. This partnership will assist us in our mission to foster a student-athlete-centered community of professionals that communicates and collaborates to ensure the health, safety and general well-being of the JMU student-athletes, while maximizing the development of their athletic performance and pursuit of championships.”

JMU Associate A.D. for Integrated Health and Sports Performance, Tom Kuster said in a statement. “Kinduct’s platform will expand our capabilities to manage our student-athletes and their performance data. As a new school year approaches, we look forward to delivering Kinduct’s AMS to our athletes and staff in an effort to set them up for success.”

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Champions of Magic Cross the Pond
Posted: 20 Sep 2017, 6:00 pm

The Champions of Magic disappear while taking their final bow, only to reappear in the lobby as the astonished audience exits.

A 40-foot container of illusions is making its way to the East Coast for the U.S. debut of Champions of Magic, an ensemble cast of five internationally-known magicians, at Whiteaker Center, Harrisburg, Pa., Oct. 3.

It is a fitting rehearsal and premier site because the theater is housed in a Center of Science and Art and “that’s what magic is, science and art,” said Alex Jarrett, producer, RIP Productions. The show debuted in the U.K. four years ago and has played to 250,000 fans over the last three, at an average ticket price of £32.

The plan is to take it to 100 markets in the U.S. through early 2018, more than 30 of which have been booked. Steve Brush, Patriot Artists Agency, Nashville, is booking the show and is impressed with the strategy for building a theater following.

The goal, according to Jarrett and Brush, is to turn this into an arena play in two years time, first in Britain, then in the U.S.

champions600.jpgAlex Jarrett, left, producer, joins the cast of Champions of Magic, including Grand Illusionists Young & Strange, Queen of Close-up Fay Presto, International Stage Magician of the Year Edward Hilsum and Master Mind Reader Alex McAleer.

Bookings are a combination of buys, promotes and co-promotes. The purchase price has been kept low, $20,000-$25,000, so everyone can make money. “Alex is very well-versed in the production of this show,” Brush said. Knowing its potential and sales record and to jump start its U.S. run, Jarrett is co-promoting about 10 of the first 30 shows. The rest are purchases.

The gross potential at an average ticket price of $40 is $60,000 for a 1,500-seater, so a $25,000 guarantee is very fair, Brush noted. He likes to book venues that are excited about the show, because it’s proven that excited buyers generate an additional 30 percent in sales, versus a buyer who just needs to fill a season.

Target venues are 1,500-2,000 seats, but Jarrett has learned to modify the show to as few as 500 seats if necessary. Having played the U.K. for three years, he’s faced some major venue challenges.

“U.S. theaters are better equipped and easier to install than those in the U.K., which were built 150-200 years ago,” Jarrett said. “American theaters have more rigging facilities, more flying bars. The issue in the UK is you come off stage and walk into a wall; there is no wing space. And the dressing rooms might be eight stories up. They are designed for Victorian people to run around and do music-hall shows, not for a huge illusion show with pyrotechnics. It can make for a long day.”

The show runs two-and-a-half hours, including a 20-minute intermission. There are five world-class illusionists in the show: Grand Illusionists Young & Strange, Queen of Close-up Fay Presto, International Stage Magician of the Year Edward Hilsum and Master Mind Reader Alex McAleer. There are 18 major illusions performed.

Jarrett noted these are seasoned magicians who have been working together for a long time. The production flows; it’s not act after act. There is considerable interaction and playing off each other among the acts. Brush loves the grand finale, unlike any he’s seen. The five magicians disappear as they are taking their final bow, right in front of the astounded audience, only to reappear in the lobby as they exit the theater.

A meet and greet ensues after the show, and the magicians are committed to staying till the last fan leaves. New to the U.S. is a VIP pre-show package, for an upsell of $50 and limited to 25 people, who get one-on-one time with the magicians 30 minutes before the house opens. They also get a VIP laminate, a T-shirt, a magic trick and photo and video takeaways on how to become a professional magician.

Jarrett is appreciative of the established audience for magic in the U.S., an audience that just doesn’t exist in the U.K. He had been producing ensemble comedy shows when the idea of a magic show dawned in October 2013. The producers lined up 20 acts and tried them in groups of five at four shows to see if the concept would work. They promoted a second tour in 2014 with the five best magicians from the four groups and have been working with them ever since.

“They’ve become a real ensemble team. It’s much more than a variety show,” Jarrett said. “They play off each other, reference each other, and a theme runs through the show.”

This year will be the first arena show in the U.K. at the 4,000-seat Brighton Arena. Tickets in the U.K. are still £32 for upcoming shows.

It is a theatrical production with a huge lighting rig, Jarrett said. “The event has a concert feel, like a big rock show, and we want to break into that world – arena shows.”

The U.S. is blessed with some “unbelievable magicians,” who have set the stage well for the Champions' shows, Jarrett said. “The genre is family. We just happen to be doing magic.”

Champions of Magic travels in a 53-foot articulated tractor trailer, “packed to the roof,” from StageCall for equipment and one 50-foot tour bus from Star Coaches, for the five illusionists, one aerial circus performer and five crew travelling. “We’re right on the verge of being a two-truck show,” Jarrett said.

Setup starts at 10 a.m. for a 7:30 p.m. show. Teardown takes two-and-a-half hours.

Because of the power difference between the U.K. and U.S., some new equipment was purchased. Others could be converted. For instance, they had to buy a new lighting rig, a $120,000-investment, for the U.S., but thanks to new technology, it will still work when they return to the U.K. Speaking ballpark, Jarrett said any new illusion is generally a $40,000-investment.

U.S. ticket sales started in June and have shown there is a strong passion for magic in North America, Jarrett said. “Winnipeg [Pantages Playhouse] sold out 30 percent of the room within the morning of the shows going on sale. Cleveland [Playhouse Square, Dec. 27-29] did over $100,000 in the first two weeks. It’s a team approach, we engage [in marketing] with them.”

Going forward, the show has options to tour China and Australia in late 2019, though moving China to late 2018 is possible. The problem with China is the language barrier and cultural differences. The show is all spoken. “We would reformat to fit the market. They’d have to learn Mandarin,” Jarrett said.

Oct. 5 – State Theater, Ithica, N.Y.
Oct. 6 & 7 - The Levoy, Millville, N.J.
Oct. 8 – Infinite Energy Center, Duluth, Ga.
Oct. 10 & 11 - Sharon Morse PAC, The Villages, Fla. 
Oct. 12- The Orpheum, New Orleans
Oct. 13- Arlington (Texas) Music Hall
Oct. 17 – Weinberg Center, Frederick, Md.
Oct. 20 - Warner Theatre, Erie, Pa.
Oct. 21 - Proctors, Schenectady, N. Y.
Oct. 25, Weidner Theatre, Green Bay, Wis.
Oct. 26 - Genesee Theatre, Waukegan, Ill.
Oct. 28 - Emporia (Kan.) Granada Theatre
Nov. 3 - Casino Regina (Saskatchewan)
Nov. 4 - Pantages Playhouse, Winnipeg, Manitoba
Nov. 8 - Union Colony Civic Center Greeley, Colo.
Nov. 9 - Rose Wagner PAC, Salt Lake City, Utah
Nov. 10 - Thousand Oaks (Calif.) PAC
Nov. 12 - Northern Quest Casino Airway Heights, Spokane, Wash.
Nov. 15 - Cal Poly Arts, San Luis Obispo, Calif.
Nov. 16 - Sycuan Casino, El Cajon, Calif.
Nov. 17 - Grand Theatre, Tracey, Calif.
Nov. 18 - Cerritos (Calif.) PAC

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Flakus: From Fairs To Festivals
Posted: 20 Sep 2017, 4:00 pm

GF Strategies founder and president, Greg Flakus.

In 1992, Greg Flakus and his firm accepted a project to manage the food and beverage (F&B) services at the Oregon State Fair, Salem. The project led to the beginning of what would lead to working with 53 fairs in 20 states from San Diego, Calif. to Essex Junction, Vt.  After 25 years, Flakus is moving his company from the fair space to the festival and venue space. Venues Today caught up with the F&B strategist to learn lessons gleaned from his time as a fair-food guru, and his thoughts on the state-of-play in the new areas he’s looking to conquer.

Why did you start GF Stategies?

Flakus: I was asked by Don Hillman, Oregon State Fair CEO, to take on a nine-month project to look at the F&B program. I planned on returning to do my work in public relations after that. I went down and took a look and decided they need to do a few things better, including how they tracked their sales, and I put together some systems, and some forms, and made it tighter and more professional. As soon as that ended, the Deschutes County Fair, Redmond, Ore., asked me to do the same thing and a business was born.

Fifty-three fairs later, what are your takeaways?

When I started this company, most fairs were using staff members to run their F&B programs. They farmed out carnivals, parking and entertainment buying but not F&B. We were the first company to provide this service as an actual business and put in systems. So my first thought is, ‘don’t run your own F&B unless you know what you’re doing,’ and my second thought is, ‘don’t run it without a foolproof accounting system.’

Are fairs economy-proof?

Surprisingly, fairs do better in bad economies because people put off the big theme park trips and stay home and go to the fair.

Gate fee or free entrance?

Fairs are starting to look at the free-entry model and doing well with it. More people come and customers spend more inside at concessions. Fairs keep 100 percent of the gate fee and have to share with concessionaires if they don’t have one. It’s a trade-off.

Flat-fee or percentage model?

If your fair is still on a flat-fee you need to move to the percentage model. The large fairs in California started the trend, and Don Hillman and I picked up the ball and ran with it. After showing it to several fairs in the Pacific Northwest, I introduced it to the Houston Livestock Show and then to every fair I consulted for. Most fairs are now at 18-20 percent of the gross. In California they are at 28 percent.

Other best practices?

Better signage, less stands but better quality, encourage existing stands to come up with new menu items, have a minimum price for items so that stands aren’t competing against each other and starting price wars. This comes into play with nonprofits that can sell things cheaper because they usually have no labor or travelling costs.

Why are you leaving the fair space?

Most of my contracts are for three years. During that time, we find a lot of the shrinkage, train the staff, and we get them to a level they can go on. Most of the fairs are now doing it with our system using their own staff, or are happy staying with a flat fee. I decided the ability to get into more fairs wasn’t going to happen and I’ve had a good run with it. I’m focusing now on festivals, arenas and stadiums.

How is working with festivals, arenas and stadiums different from working with fairs?

The biggest difference on the stadium and arena side is that they have events year-round, almost every weekend. They have the opportunity to realize F&B revenue 52 weeks a year. On the other hand, festivals are even shorter than fairs, usually two-five days, and they need to jam in as much F&B sales as they can in their short window. If you don’t get your money in that time period, you don’t get your money.

What are the key trends you've seen in festivals, stadiums and arenas?

VIP continues to grow at music festivals. Fans are willing to pay increasingly higher festival charges for enhanced VIP experiences. Coachella, BottleRock and KABOO all crossed the $2,000-per-ticket line for VIP experiences and sold out.

Food offerings are now not just prepared in advance. More chefs are seen on-site preparing the offerings fresh and right in front of the festival attendee. Per person plate charges are now in the $12 to $15 range; two years ago this figure was below $10. Beverage offerings are now more upscale, featuring local bars with their signature drinks.

Experience within the experience is big now, including pop-up surprises and music groups coming together for surprise jam sessions. This is all giving the attendees a special experience. Some events have seen declines in ticket sales as they move from two days to three or four as they expand from three weekends to four and are finding that sales are just spread out over the timeframe. You need solid data before shaking your dates up like this.

Social media continues to be bigger all the time. Events enabling meet-ups via social media sites are very trendy. Sponsor measurement is still a big challenge. How to value the cost of being at events is still evolving.

What is your take on cashless?

Cashless is changing everything and revolutionizing F&B. Festivals are already doing it, venues are slowly getting onboard and fairs will go to that model soon. It also makes the back-of-house work easier because they don’t have to get reporting from each vendor; it’s all on the cashless database.

Final thoughts?

In the end, it’s all about relationships. I’ve had so many people introduce me to other people and talk about my services and it’s really gratifying. Keep your eyes open, and if an opportunity presents itself, go with it.

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Hot Tickets for September 20, 2017
Posted: 19 Sep 2017, 6:00 pm

Kid Rock performed at ANZ Stadium, Sydney.

Robert James Ritchie, better known as Kid Rock, is making his way around North America this year with a small-scale tour that made a stop at Allen County War Memorial Coliseum, Fort Wayne, Ind., making our Hot Tickets chart this week. The sold-out performance started with political talk and a tease of a possible U.S. Senate run in 2018 which drew rounds of cheers, but quickly turned into a carnivalesque atmosphere that included jugglers, little person clowns, and stilt walkers. It seemed as if Rock was telling the 8,500 fans in attendance that if he were elected into office, a carnival would ensue. The concertgoers saw ticket prices ranged from $20-$90, and the Live Nation-promoted event grossed nearly $500,000. Tonight, Kid Rock will be wrapping up his six-show run, Sept. 12-20, as the first headliner of the brand new Little Caesars Arena, Detroit.

Marco Antonio Solis, who won Billboard’s Lifetime Achievement Award last year, is on the road this year celebrating 40 years in the music industry with his highly anticipated U.S. tour. Solis, along with special guests Jessie & Joy, performed at Infinite Energy Arena, Duluth, Ga., Sept. 2, grossing over $500,000. The iconic Mexican singer thrilled the 5,000 concertgoers in attendance by playing a selection of tunes that commemorated 40 years of musical hits from his 18 studio albums. Fans can catch up with Solis at The Forum, Los Angeles, Oct. 13-14.

HOT TICKETS is a weekly summary of the top acts and ticket sales as reported to VT PULSE. Following are the top 20 concerts and events, the top 5 in each seating capacity category, which took place between Aug. 22-Sept. 20.

15,001 or More Seats

10,001-15,000 Seats

5,001-10,000 Seats

5,000 or Fewer Seats

1) Ozuna
Gross Sales: $1,657,937; Venue: Coliseo de Puerto Rico, San Juan; Attendance: 27,325; Ticket Range: $200-$20; Promoter: Mr. Sold Out; Dates: Sept. 15-16; No. of Shows: 2

2) Depeche Mode
Gross Sales: $1,197,758; Venue: Bell Centre, Montreal; Attendance: 14,566; Ticket Range: $121.86-$28.12; Promoter: evenko, Live Nation; Dates: Sept. 5; No. of Shows: 1

3) Ed Sheeran
Gross Sales: $1,144,533; Venue: AmericanAirlines Arena, Miami; Attendance: 12,813; Ticket Range: $99.50-$39.50; Promoter: Messina Touring Group; Dates: Aug. 30; No. of Shows: 1

4) Ed Sheeran
Gross Sales: $1,134,012; Venue: PNC Arena, Raleigh; Attendance: 13,805; Ticket Range: $89.50-$39.50; Promoter: Messina Touring Group; Dates: Sept. 2; No. of Shows: 1

5) Ed Sheeran
Gross Sales: $1,112,572; Venue: AT&T Center, San Antonio; Attendance: 13,928; Ticket Range: $89.50-$39.50; Promoter: Messina Touring Group; Dates: Aug. 22; No. of Shows: 1

1) Tim McGraw, Faith Hill
Gross Sales: $783,563; Venue: Allen County War Memorial Coliseum, Fort Wayne, Ind.; Attendance: 9,602; Ticket Range: $117.50-$67.50; Promoter: Messina Touring Group, AEG Presents; Dates: Sept. 9; No. of Shows: 1

2) Marco Antonio Solis
Gross Sales: $564,211; Venue: Infinite Energy Arena, Duluth, Ga.; Attendance: 4,917; Ticket Range: $199.50-$59.50; Promoter: Zamora Entertainment, Loud And Alive; Dates: Sept. 2; No. of Shows: 1

3) Kid Rock
Gross Sales: $498,879; Venue: Allen County War Memorial Coliseum, Fort Wayne, Ind.; Attendance: 8,464; Ticket Range: $93-$18; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Sept. 8; No. of Shows: 1

4) Shreya Ghoshal
Gross Sales: $245,417; Venue: Infinite Energy Arena, Duluth, Ga.; Attendance: 2,906; Ticket Range: $263-$53; Promoter: Paracha Entertainment; Dates: Sept. 10; No. of Shows: 1

5) Future
Gross Sales: $206,333; Venue: Atlantic City (N.J.) Boardwalk Hall; Attendance: 7,295; Ticket Range: $99.99-$19.99; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Aug. 24; No. of Shows: 1

1) Ariana Grande
Gross Sales: $1,624,686; Venue: ICC Sydney Theatre; Attendance: 16,505; Ticket Range: $122.36-$81.53; Promoter: Live Nation Australia; Dates: Sept. 8-9; No. of Shows: 2

2) Dave Chappelle, Ali Wong, John Mayer
Gross Sales: $749,257; Venue: Radio City Music Hall, New York; Attendance: 5,926; Ticket Range: $163.50-$83.50; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Aug. 24; No. of Shows: 1

3) Dave Chappelle, Yasiin Bey, Talib Kweli, Chris Tucker
Gross Sales: $725,905; Venue: Radio City Music Hall, New York; Attendance: 5,927; Ticket Range: $193.50-$83.50; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Aug. 23; No. of Shows: 1

4) Depeche Mode
Gross Sales: $700,478; Venue: Mohegan Sun Arena, Uncasville, Conn.; Attendance: 6,719; Ticket Range: $129-$79; Promoter: In-house, WME ; Dates: Sept. 1; No. of Shows: 1

5) Chris Tomlin
Gross Sales: $631,354; Venue: Red Rocks Amphitheatre, Morrison, Colo.; Attendance: 15,402; Ticket Range: $89.95-$14.73; Promoter: Awakening Events; Dates: Sept. 5-6; No. of Shows: 2

1) Disney’s Aladdin
Gross Sales: $864,947; Venue: Orpheum Theatre, Minneapolis; Attendance: 11,121; Ticket Range: $151-$21; Promoter: Hennepin Theatre Trust, Broadway Across America; Dates: Sept. 15-17; No. of Shows: 5

2) Jason Isbell
Gross Sales: $266,000; Venue: Chicago Theatre; Attendance: 5,733; Ticket Range: $56-$36; Promoter: NS2, MSG Chicago; Dates: Sept. 1-2; No. of Shows: 2

3) Chicago
Gross Sales: $237,090; Venue: San Diego Civic Theatre; Attendance: 2,796; Ticket Range: $110-$65; Promoter: Nederlander Concerts; Dates: Sept. 3; No. of Shows: 1

4) Priest Tyaire presents Momma’s Boy
Gross Sales: $218,510; Venue: Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre, Atlanta; Attendance: 3,780; Ticket Range: $64.50-$44.50; Promoter: Marvin Webster; Dates: Sept. 8-9; No. of Shows: 3

5) Chicago
Gross Sales: $190,420; Venue: Vina Robles Amphitheatre, Paso Robles, Calif.; Attendance: 2,996; Ticket Range: $95-$45; Promoter: Nederlander Concerts; Dates: Sept. 2; No. of Shows: 1

The Weekly Hot Tickets chart is compiled by Monique Potter. To submit reports, e-mail or fax to (714) 378-0040.


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Spectra Takes Over Lincoln's Railyard
Posted: 19 Sep 2017, 5:20 pm

Night time at the Railyard, Lincoln, Neb., which Spectra will now manage.

Nothing is likely to derail the new dynamism being felt at the Lincoln, Neb. downtown enclave known as the Railyard on Canopy Street, the premier entertainment district in the Cornhusker state capital.

That excitement results from Spectra by Comcast Spectacor's selection to deliver venue management, food services, hospitality and partnerships to the Railyard. Spectra has tabbed seven-year company veteran Brian Krajewski, most recently director of marketing with Tsongas Center, Lowell, Mass. as property general manager.

Over his career, Krajewski has also shepherded marketing efforts for Spectra at the Santa Ana Star Center, Rio Rancho, N.M., and Glens Falls (N.Y.) Civic Center.

Chris Connolly, general manager of the Iowa Event Center, Des Moines, was integrally involved in the selection of Spectra and of Krajewski.  TDP Phase One, LLC, a partnership between WRK, LLC and Chief Industries, made the initial move, he said.

“WRK reached out to our business development folks in Philadelphia,” he recalled. “As talks got more serious about us taking over management of the Railyard, it made sense for me to go out there, as I'm just a three-hour drive away.

“The Railyard is similar to what we do at Xfinity Live in Philadelphia and, at the end of the day, is all about the business we're in – entertainment, marketing and advertising.”

The dense and compact geography of the Railyard helps explain its entertainment mecca status. The district is situated across the street from Pinnacle Bank Arena, where the Nebraska Cornhuskers play their basketball games. The arena just announced that it would host a series of concerts by country music legend Garth Brooks in October. 

Memorial Stadium, where the Cornhuskers football team plays its games, is a 10-minute walk away, Connolly said.  And if that's not enough, Lincoln's Minor League Baseball franchise, the Lincoln Saltdogs of Independent Professional Baseball's American Association, plays its games just steps from the Railyard at Haymarket Park.

The Railyard features 13 restaurants and bars, live entertainment, The Public Market, and The Cube presented by Union Bank & Trust. “The Cube is a large, large, large video screen, and when the Nebraska football games are on, both home and away, those football games are being broadcast on The Cube,” Connolly said.

Spectra feels it can market this very attractive piece of downtown Lincoln real estate more effectively than past managers have.  “And that's where Brian comes in,” Connolly said. “He has a marketing background, and was the director of marketing at Tsongas Center. Brian was a very attractive candidate. We were looking for a marketing person. And it's really about relationships. This account is a bit different from most, in that not only do we need to drive business at the Railyard, but we have several tenants in the Railyard. And nourishing that business really centers around the building of relationships.”


For his part, Krajewski believes Spectra is well equipped to ensure the Railyard reaches its full potential.  “You look at what we do at Xfinity Live in Philadelphia, and it's the same kind of blueprint as an entertainment district goes,” he said. “We felt this was something where we could take what we've learned at Xfinity Live over a number of years, and use that experience to enhance the Railyard experience.”

He agrees with Connolly that relationships are the key. “At Tsongas Center, I was fortunate to have met a lot of people,” he said. “Building relationships opened up a lot of doors for me back in Lowell. I built a relationship with the convention and visitors bureau in Lowell, and that was what they were looking for; someone to do it at the Railyard as well. They wanted someone with experience in building rapport with CVBs . . . If you are going to live and work in a place and ingrain yourself in the community, those relationships are crucial.”


Asked about any challenges he might face, Krajewski noted that he's coming from an arena background into an event district space, and that will involve shifting gears to some degree.

But he says he's been exceptionally fortunate to have worked with outstanding individuals in each of the settings where he's served. He's learned a tremendous amount about managing venues, and that is knowledge he can take to the Railyard. “Being in a situation where I can put my stamp on [the venue] is going to be a challenge, but it's something I'm excited about,” he said. “I have a great support system within the company. I know I can pick up the phone and have any kind of service I need provided, to make this transition and this venue as good as can be. And the client, WRK has been great to work with. We're excited about making this a long-term relationship and making the Railyard as great as WRK, and we know it can be.”

Connolly believes the combination of Spectra's full range of services and Krajewski's experience will enormously benefit the Railyard. “And from what I've seen in the past two months, development is really, really strong in downtown Lincoln,” he said.

“That's great for all of us and will really help the Railyard," added Krajewski. "There's a ton of potential there. It really should be the destination and entertainment spot right after games, concerts and events. We're really excited to get in there, and we feel Brian will do a great job. All his strengths are perfectly tailored to the distinctive opportunities presented by the Railyard.”


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ICC Sydney Adopts VR Marketing
Posted: 19 Sep 2017, 5:00 pm

ICC Sydney Convention Centre has adopted VR marketing.

The International Convention Centre Sydney recently became the first venue of its kind in Australia to adopt virtual reality to help market itself to conference organizers, event planners, delegates and other travelers from around the world who are considering or planning a visit. The move highlights the growing interest in VR as a marketing tool for venues and others with destinations to promote.

ICC_Sydney_Convention_Centre1.jpgICC Sydney Convention Centre opened in 2016.

ICC Sydney’s VR video experience provides viewers with an immersive way of touring the facilities at the convention center, which opened in December 2016.

“Our VR experience provides viewers with a unique opportunity to witness the full scale and magnitude of ICC Sydney’s technologically advanced facilities, including its 35,000 square meters of exhibition space, flexible meeting spaces, the 2,000-capacity grand ballroom – the largest of its kind in Australia – and world-class theaters,” said Geoff Donaghy, CEO, ICC Sydney.

Donaghy said the benefits to ICC Sydney were evident. He said VR aligns with a creative marketing approach that “places an innovative lens over everything we do.” Venue operators developed a suite of creative tools before opening that included a custom magazine, interactive maps, animations and advance modeling and renderings. The venue secured 500 event bookings before opening.

“The VR experience brings ICC Sydney to life in new ways, right before people’s eyes, and will become an important point of reference during the planning stages of an event, while also creating a buzz and excitement for delegates pre-event,” he said. “It’s an impressive tool that we believe will help shape the future of events in Sydney.”

In addition to an intimate look at the ICC Sydney facilities, the VR content includes a chance to enjoy a 360-degree view of Sydney’s Darling Harbour, where the convention center is located, including a look at nearby landmarks Sydney Harbour Bridge and Bondi Beach.

Penny Lion, executive general manager of events at Tourism Australia, said the convention center’s adoption of VR is a fit with the venue’s design and operations.

“As Australia’s newest convention, exhibition and events precinct, ICC Sydney is at the forefront of design and technology innovation,” Lion said. “Utilizing this technology to showcase what the center can deliver for customers is in alignment with this culture of innovation. It’s also a great way to see ICC Sydney up close and to understand the venue in the context of its location.”

ICC Sydney and Tourism Australia worked together to develop the showcase video of the convention center’s setting as part of the VR content, highlighting Sydney as a leading event destination. Tourism Australia has produced its own VR/360 content for various Australian locales, and Lion said its effectiveness has been “stunning,” citing 10.5 million views on Facebook, YouTube and a 64-percent rise in engagement on

Lion said the VR efforts represent Tourism Australia’s recognition of “the need for tourism bodies and other entities to find new, engaging and compelling ways to cut through the highly competitive and crowded marketplace.”

Tom Griffin, assistant professor in the School of Hospitality and Tourism Management and assistant director of the Hospitality and Tourism Research Institute at Ryerson University in Toronto, has researched with colleagues the use of VR in marketing for destinations. He called tourism “an intangible product for marketers” that makes it a challenge to provide potential customers a true sense of what their experience will be. While still falling short of real life, VR “helps convey a sense of what a place is like,” he said.

“Our studies have shown that students who watched a VR advertisement for South Africa felt more positive about the country as a destination compared with those who watched a 2D video or read the website,” Griffin said. “So even though they hadn’t been, they were creating word-of-mouth marketing about what the place is like to visit.”

Lion said VR has rich potential for venues such as ICC Sydney, in particular.

“VR allows customers to discover event spaces like never before,” Lion said. “Immersive and interactive, it provides the user with the next best thing to conducting a site inspection. Using VR in conjunction with personal interaction with venue representatives – for example at trade shows – is an effective tool to help bring to life what it’s like to be in those spaces and to have questions immediately answered.”

ICC_Sydney_Exhibition.jpgICC Sydney Convention Centre.

Griffin agreed, saying, “For a convention center, I imagine there are many opportunities. I’m guessing that a primary target would be meeting planners and to give them an opportunity to see both the logistics of a center, but also to allow them to experience some of the elements that a center wants to show off – a view of the mountains, a ballroom set up in full decor, etc. VR is a great and convenient way to demonstrate that.”

Griffin said VR is becoming increasingly popular for marketers and its use will grow as VR headsets continue to become more accessible. As of now, VR is new enough that abundant questions surround the best ways of using the tool. He said he sees VR as more enduring than a fad, though its use will evolve as more adopt it.

“I think a lot of people don’t know how to best use it yet,” Griffin said. “It reminds me of when social media arrived on the scene some years ago, and companies and organizations just got on board with little strategy or understanding of how to use the technology and communications. Of course, now companies take social media very seriously and strategically. I see the same thing happening to some extent with VR.”

Lion said venue marketers considering VR should be sure to commit the necessary resources and identify appropriate partners to create a vivid experience for viewers.

“Work with experienced and highly capable production companies who understand not just the medium but the user experience that accompanies VR,” Lion said.

Donaghy said it took three months for the team creating ICC Sydney’s VR experience to film its multi-use spaces sufficiently. He said the venue’s team has worked diligently to use the tool.

“We have sent virtual reality headsets to over 250 of our global contacts and are utilizing it in all of our trade shows and road shows, as well,” Donaghy said. “So far, we are getting an amazing response, and it’s been credited as one of the most unique tools a venue is using to inform and stimulate clients, and is even inspiring them to use the technology themselves.”

For ICC Sydney’s full VR experience, viewers need to have access to a VR headset. They can download the ICC Sydney VR app from Apple or Android application stores. Without a VR headset, viewers can still see 36-degree images on the convention center’s website at


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INTRUST Promotes and Hires
Posted: 19 Sep 2017, 4:00 pm

SMG-managed INTRUST Bank Arena, Wichita, Kan., has promoted from within the organization and hired multiple full-time members across multiple departments.

Grant Jones.

Grant Jones has returned to INTRUST Bank Arena as operations manager. Jones previously served as operations supervisor prior to accepting an opportunity with Wichita Sports Forum in late 2016. Jones will now manage and oversee the operations team with their daily duties and event changeovers. 



Sierra Franklin.

Sierra Franklin has been promoted to box office manager for Select-A-Seat. Prior to this, Franklin served as ticket specialist in the Select-A-Seat box office.



Josh Hiatt.

Josh Hiatt and Tyler Maier were both promoted to operations supervisors within the operations department. Hiatt and Maier were peviously members of the crew on a part time basis.





Tyler Maier.

In the operations department, Mario De La Torre has been hired as maintenance technician to assist with preventative maintenance and repairs to the arena’s equipment.


Jared Johnson.

Additionally, Jared Johnson has been hired as the payroll and purchasing accountant within the finance department. Johnson held a ticket specialist title in the Select-A-Seat box office.


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Richman Starting His Own PR Firm
Posted: 19 Sep 2017, 3:00 pm

Ike Richman, formerly VP of PR, Comcast Spectacor; now founder of Richman Communications.

After nearly 29 years at Comcast Spectacor, Ike Richman, the company’s vice president, PR, is creating Ike Richman Communications to assist professional sports teams and owners, arenas and stadiums, concert promoters and family shows with generating PR content. Comcast Spectacor will become his first client.

“I joined Spectacor in 1989 on my 23rd birthday,” said Richman. At the time, Spectacor was owed by Ed Snider and they owned The Spectrum, Philadelphia Flyers of the National Hockey League and WIP sports radio station.”

In 1992, Richman moved to the Spectrum, the building that preceded Wells Fargo Center, as PR assistant. In 1996, Snider and Comcast merged to create Comcast Spectacor. Richman became VP in 2001.

Richman has been with the Flyers his whole life, literally. He is named in memory of his grandfather, Ike Richman, who founded the Philadelphia 76ers after relocating the Syracuse Nationals to Philadelphia in 1963.

“I was inspired by the words of Ed Snider, who I became very close with,” said Richman about branching out on his own. “Ed had this mantra: ‘take what you do well and grow it.’ I always thought I could make it go on own with my experience and resources and knowledge, and finally decided now’s the time.”

Richman’s firm, Richman Communications, isn’t starting out empty-handed. “When I told Dave Scott, Comcast Spectacor’s CEO, about my plans, not only did he wish me well; he also immediately said he wanted to be my first client. I’m very fortunate to have such a gracious employer.” Richman’s deal with Spectacor is multiyear. “The company can lean on my expertise,” said Richman.

Richman’s strength is media relations, public relations, community relations and crisis communications. “If you look back over my 30 years I’ve worked with Live Nation, AEG, concert promoters, hundreds of Feld Entertainment events, every type of sporting event you can mention, two Olympic trials, both Republican National Convention and Democratic National Convention events and I like to think I bring good insight to helping the field.”

Richman’s fans are many.

"Ike has been an integral member of the Comcast Spectacor team for more than 28 years,” said Scott. “His deep experience and contacts throughout the sports and entertainment industry have been invaluable to us as our business has grown and diversified. We are looking forward to working with him as an outside advisor in the years ahead." 

Frank Brown is the vice president of communications for the National Hockey League (NHL). "Ike really showed his professional stripes when Ed Snider passed away,” he said. “While there were so many details to track in preparing the celebration of Ed's life, and so many people to comfort, I thought Ike set aside his own grief and handled his duties impeccably."

Peter Luukko, executive chairman, NHL’s Florida Panthers and chairman of OVG’s Arena Alliance, said, “It’s a great move for Ike at this time. He has a wealth of experience from the leagues, teams, food services companies, private management companies, broadcasting and many other facets of our business. In Ike’s case, he owes it to himself to do this. He’s made relationships over the years with many people who can use his services. He’s respected and well-liked.”

“One of the things Ike does very well is handle difficult situations,” he said. “There was a stolen car ring that went through town, and Ike handled this like a pro. Damage control is one of  his many skills.”

Frank Miceli, SVP, sales & franchise business operations, Spurs Sports & Entertainment and AT&T Center, San Antonio, Texas, has known Richman for 30 years. “I used to work at Comcast and know Ike well,” he said. “He’s one of the best in business. He nurtures the team, the building, the band through exciting times and tumultuous times.”

“I think this a move that will be great for Ike and the industry,” he said. “This will give him a chance to spread his wings outside the Comcast Spectacor umbrella.”

Miceli recalled the time when Bruce Springsteen and his band requested use of the Flyers' locker room. “Typically, the locker room is off limits, but Ike intervened, worked his magic, and we agreed. The band was so appreciative we were invited to meet them before the show. It was great and we wound up inviting them to our ‘7:15 club’ early-morning hockey game.”

Geoff Gordon is president of Live Nation, Philadelphia. He’s known Richman for almost 30 years; they met when Gordon was with Electric Factory Concerts. “Ike is an ever-constant and a solid professional,” he said. “He’s efficient and a great asset.”

“I’m excited for his new venture,” he said. “I support him and think he will do very well on his own.”

Gordon recalled when Richman was instrumental in the success of the closing days of the Spectrum. “Ike arranged it so that major sports stars, Bernie Parent and Dave Schultz in particular, showed up at the concert. It was really cool to have them there and the band loved having them, too.”

Richman serves as an advisor to numerous nonprofit organizations, including the Ed Snider Youth Hockey Foundation, Police Athletic League, the Shirley Povich School of Sports Journalism and Philabundance. He handled all communications for the late Philadelphia Flyers owner Ed Snider prior to his passing in 2016.

Richman leaves his position Sept 28 and launches Richman Communications Oct. 3.

He can be reached at: Ike



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NEC Group to Restore Bradford Odeon UK
Posted: 18 Sep 2017, 3:30 pm

View from City Park Live, Bradford Live, Birmingham, West Midlands. (Photo courtesty: Tim Ronalds Architects)

NEC Group, Birmingham, England, will invest £2 million (US $2.63 million) to transform the historic Odeon in Bradford into a live entertainment venue by 2020.

NEC Group, which also operates Arena Birmingham, West Midlands, Genting Arena, Birmingham, West Midlands, and the National Exhibition Center, Marston Green, Birmingham, West Midlands, took a 30-year lease on the building, which, besides a main auditorium, also contains a 1930 art deco ballroom.

View of the auditorium, Bradford Live, Birmingham, West Midlands. (Photo courtesy: Tim Ronalds Architects)

Each will be fully restored “to its original splendor to host weddings, banquets, corporate and conferencing events and other live performances,” according to a group statement. The new Odeon will hold 4,000 people, and complement Bradford’s Alhambra Theatre (1,400 capacity) and St George’s Hall (1,500 capacity).

NEC Group International, the consultancy and management arm of NEC Group, will operate the venue, which is expected to open in 2020. By “bringing live music, comedy, Bollywood shows, and other live performances to the biggest ‘mid-size’ venue in the country outside London,” NECGI aims to put “Bradford firmly back on the national live music touring circuit.”

Phil Mead, the managing director of NEC Group’s arenas, commented: “Bradford Odeon, once restored, will breathe new life into an historic building which has played a pivotal role in the city’s past. The redeveloped venue, as part of the ongoing regeneration of Bradford city centre anchored around City Park, will deliver jobs and investment and transform the live event and entertainment offer of the city.”

The Kaiser Chiefs, who “played a lot of great old theatre venues,” said: “Beautiful old buildings are perfect for rock ‘n’ roll shows – it can make a real difference performing in these characterful rooms compared to plain black-box type venues.”

Francis Rossi of Status Quo, said: “What the country needs is more places that can host concerts, so that people can get out and hear great live music. We’ve toured up and down the country more than most, and we know that places like this are essential. The Bradford Odeon has a great history and should be brought back into service.”

The Odeon originally opened in 1930 in the heart of Bradford as a 3,318-seat art deco cinema and theatre, one of the largest in the UK at the time. From 1969 to 2000 it operated as a two-auditoria cinema.

According to NEC Group, “Bradford has the youngest, fastest growing population outside of London [and is] home to 20,000 students. The total population is to reach an estimated 560,000 by 2022.”


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Little Caesars Arena Part Of The Neighborhood
Posted: 18 Sep 2017, 3:00 pm

New Little Caesars Arena, Detroit, opens its doors to the neighborhood.

Kid Rock was everywhere when Detroit’s Little Caesars Arena opened. Not only did the artist christen the brand-new downtown arena with four shows, starting Sept. 12, but he added two more due to demand, bringing the Kid Rock total to six shows. The longest-lasting aspect of Kid Rock’s entry into Little Caesars Arena, though, was the announcement of his themed restaurant to help anchor the neighborhood-facing aspect of the new arena, merging Little Caesars Arena to the larger The District Detroit.

To merge the two into one, Little Caesars Arena has turned toward the neighborhood built around it in a “deconstructed” style of design that puts a focus on blurring the lines between arena and neighborhood, even potentially opening the main concourse to the public on non-event days.

Designed by HOK with the insight of Street-Works Development, the leaders of the larger The District Detroit that surrounds an arena that opened Sept.12, the concept relies on dropping the main concourse to street level and facing tenants to both the street and the concourse.

In what will play home to both the National Hockey League’s Detroit Red Wings and the National Basketball Association’s Detroit Pistons, the Ilitch family’s Olympia Entertainment, owners of the team, operators of the arena and the developers behind the district, wanted to revitalize a section of downtown, bringing in a mixed-use neighborhood of restaurants, offices and residential. Instead of making the new arena stand apart, Richard Heapes, Street-Works co-founder, said they first envisioned what the arena felt like from the street.

“We always knew we wanted this to be the heart of a whole new district,” Heapes said. “We had to be the antithesis of Joe Louis Arena (the Red Wings’ former home), a big solid box only open during the event and where you had to walk up 50 feet just to get into it. It had to be the opposite.”

Ryan Gedney, project designer for HOK, said they first dropped the playing surface floor 37 feet below grade, which allows the main concourse—dubbed the via—to run at ground level. To keep the arena in line with the district, a four-story office building serves as the main exterior, with mostly restaurant space on the ground floor and offices—both team and leased space—above. In all, just over 50 percent of the venue’s street frontage is made up of uses active during nonevent times.

“It was important to bring the main concourse to at-grade to blur the lines between the main concourse activity and the district,” Gedney said. That main concourse, though, has a dual-facing opportunity, open out at all times and also in onto the concourse.

Designing so low also allowed for a practice rink under the plaza and the space for up to 30 trucks and buses to park, which Heapes said can speed up the load and unload time of a major concert an entire day, key for an arena expecting about 235 events annually.

Each tenant space will play with the blurred line differently, some opening portions of their space to each side when an event is going and some closing off to one. But all will remain open to the street side when an event isn’t on. Gedney said to expect the concourse to open at nonevent times, turning into another pedestrian passage between the spaces, akin to an indoor connection next to Woodward Square, the main outdoor plaza connecting the multiple uses in the district along Woodward Avenue.

Traditionally, arena outer walls serve as the secure perimeter of the arena in non-use times, but Gedney said the seating bowl now becomes the secure perimeter, a physical design that came from creating an entire district rather than just an arena. “That is how we approached it, a district first and arena functions that happen to live in it,” he said. “From an architectural point, when you stand outside and look at the building, you don’t see arena, you see district.”

Part of that comes in having so much office space moved outside the arena into the exterior buildings. Heapes said that not only is it less expensive to build office space in a typical office building rather than inside an arena, but it also provides the opportunity for more daylight into the offices. 

“How can each piece be the best of its kind?” he asked about moving offices and retail outside. “Now I have a team store on the street with its own door, own sign and own parking. It is the same with the team offices. On the flip side, I now have a bowl that is designed almost as a pure sports and concert venue. The bowl is better; the amenities are better. Mix it all together, and it creates a wonderful space in between.”

The identity of the closed-off seating bowl has a sudden reveal, as the concourse via features ETFE roofing to bring daylight into the galleria-style space. “We are blurring the line between traditionally separate building types,” Gedney said. “Tenant and arena spaces are blurred.”

Architecturally, the design allows fans to feel like they are in a street or alleyway while in the main concourse and then once they pass through the vomitory into the closed-off seating bowl—it was designed closed as a way to increase crowd noise during games, a happy circumstance that helped enhance the via design—it “heightens the transition from concourse to bowl with such a stark, wonderful transition.”

Instead of the gradual rise from street to parks to entries to open concourses and to seats, Little Caesars Arena offers an immediate change.

The benefit for the district comes in more restaurant and retail space open at more times. But the fan also has a “richer environment” come game time, Gedney said, as each restaurant must come with real character and authenticity to allow them to stand alone beyond game day. That also means the eateries, such as the new Kid Rock-themed southern style restaurant, will each have a unique experience during events, whether a sit-down option or a belly-up approach.

The other half of the main concourse without outward-facing tenants resembles more of a traditional in-arena concession experience.

The compilation of the arena-district design, Heapes said, gives the arena a positive influence on the district rather than a negative, a district that includes both residential living for a true natural neighborhood feel and the Ilitch family donating $40 million to bring Wayne State University’s school of business into the district.

“We have real retail at the street level all around this thing,” Heapes said. “Not just one bar, but four or five restaurants. It is a part of the city as if the arena was never there. It is almost like a great wonderful piece of the city, and you dropped a bowl into it. There is no dark hole.”


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Nominate for the 2017 Hall of Headlines Award by September 29, 2017!
Posted: 15 Sep 2017, 5:00 pm

We are seeking nominations for the 2017 Hall of Headlines awards by September 29, 2017.

Each December, Venues Today hands out its most prestigious honor, the Hall of Headlines Award.  The award is given to members in five different categories – News, Bookings, Ops & Tech, Marketing and Concessions. The awards are given to individuals who have made a difference in the facilities industry in the last 12 months, and recipients are nominated and elected by Venues Today readers.

Who is eligible?

Anyone in the sports, entertainment and meeting industries who has made a significant contribution to our professional world in 2017.

How to nominate?

Email a description of the person, organization, accomplishments and their contact info to, or fax to (714) 378-0040 or call (714) 378-5400 no later than Friday, October 7, 2016. Please include all entries in the email, NO ATTACHMENTS PLEASE!

How are winners determined?

Subscribers and Venues Today staff will vote by fax, phone and on our website for one winner per category.

Previous winners:


News: Allen Johnson, Executive Director of Orlando Venues
Ops & Tech: Don Graham, AGM/VP, Microsoft Theater, Los Angeles & Lee Zeidman, President, Microsoft Theater, Staples Center, LA Live
Bookings: Rich MacKeigan, SMG Regional GM, Van Andel Arena and DeVos Place, Grand Rapids, Mich.
Marketing: Meghan Doyle, Director of Marketing, BOK Center
Concessions: Mark Anderson, General Manager and VP, Premier Food Services, Del Mar (Calif.) Fairgrounds and Race Track



News-Doug Thornton, executive VP of SMG and Steve Tadlock and Michael Krouse, regional VPs of SMG
Bookings-Louis Messina, president, Messina Touring Group, and Lee Zeidman, president, Staples Center, Los Angeles
Ops & Tech-Jim McCue, SVP, SMG and John Bolton, Vice President, SMG
Marketing-Amy Latimer, president, TD Garden, Boston
Concessions-Marco Fabozzi, director of Operations, Levy Restaurants at Barclays Center, Brooklyn


News-Doug Thornton, Executive VP of SMG
Bookings-Ben Farrell, Varnell Enterprises
Marketing-Jen Compton, VP Marketing, TD Garden & Boston Bruins and Jim Delaney, president, Activate Sports & Entertainment
Ops & Tech-Michael Godoy, SMG, VP of Operations
Concessions-Don Riccardi, Ovations GM, The Mountain Winery, Saratoga, Calif.


News - Bruce Ratner & Brett Yormark, Barclays Center and the Brooklyn Nets, respectively
Bookings - John Bolton & Jeff Nickler, BOK Center, Tulsa, Okla.
Ops & Tech - Steve Goodling & Charlie Beirne, Long Beach Convention & Visitors Bureau and SMG/Long Beach Arena respectively
Marketing - Peter Luukko & Kevin Lovitt, Comcast-Spectacor & Pointstreak, respectively
Concessions - Tim Ryan, Anaheim Ducks and Honda Center


News - Ed Snider and Peter Luukko, Comcast-Spectacor
Bookings - Alex Hodges, Nederlander Concerts, Los Angeles
Marketing - Sarah Haertl, Intrust Bank Arena, Wichita, Kan.
Concessions - Chef Vincent Lai, McCormick Place, Chicago


News – Gregg Caren & Bob McClintock, SMG/McCormick Place, Chicago
Bookings – Finn Taylor, Cirque du Soleil
Marketing – Rich Krezwick, Prudential Center, Newark, N.J.
Concessions – Nick Nicora, Ovations Food Services


News – Jay Roberts, Consol Energy Center, Pittsburgh
Bookings – Jon Bon Jovi
Marketing – Paul Hooper and Matt Johnson at Rupp Arena in Lexington
Concessions – Norb Bartosik, California State Fair, Sacramento


News – Lee Zeidman, Staples Center Los Angeles and Nokia Theatre, L.A. Live
Bookings – Gregg Perloff with Another Planet Entertainment, Marc Geiger from William Morris Endeavor Entertainment and Brad Parsons, Arena Network
Marketing – Ed Snider and Peter Luukko, Comcast-Spectacor
Concessions – Steve Zahn, Centerplate


News – Kenneth Feld, Feld Entertainment
Bookings – John Bolton, BOK Center, Tulsa, Okla.
Marketing – Jeff Blosser, Oregon Convention Center, Portland
Concessions – David Padilla, Puerto Rico Convention Center, San Juan


News – Wes Westley, SMG
Bookings – Bruce MacTaggart and Brad Parsons, Walking With Dinosaurs
Marketing – Larry Wilson, John Paul Jones Arena, Charlottesville, Va.
Concessions – Ken Young, Ovations


News – Peter Sullivan, University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, Ariz.
Bookings – Mike Scanlon, Rose Quarter, Portland
Marketing – Terry Barnes, Ticketmaster
Bookings – Ken Young, Ovations


News – Doug Thornton, Louisiana SuperDome, New Orleans
Bookings – Brad Parsons, ArenaNetwork, and Ron VanDeVeen, Meadowlands, East Rutherford, N.J.
Marketing – Dennis Scanlon, Rose Quarter, Portland
Concessions – Peter Luukko, Comcast-Spectacor

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Jacksonville Battered But Not Beaten
Posted: 13 Sep 2017, 10:00 pm

The half-flooded field at EverBank Stadium after Hurricane Irma blew through Jacksonville, Fla. Still, the stadium will be open for football Sunday.

This is a story of cooperation and collaboration to the point the mayor announced the show will go on, the Jaguars will play football and Tim and Faith will sing less than a week after disaster hit.

Epic flooding, the worst since the 1800’s, hit Jacksonville, Fla., Monday, resulting in extensive damage to homes and businesses, including the seven sports and entertainment venues managed for the city by SMG.

Bill McConnell, GM there for SMG, still had a strong emotional reaction discussing what he experienced Monday afternoon when he was finally able to get to the venues. His main message, after all he’s been through, is praise for Mayor Lenny Curry, Jaguars’ Owner Shad Khan and President Mark Lamping and the decisions they made to bring the city back…quickly.

“The mayor has done a tremendous job; everyone in Jacksonville has been outstanding,” McConnell said. “We’ve been able to assess and recover simultaneously. We are very fortunate.”

The decision was made to open for business, including a Jacksonville Jaguars National Football League game at EverBank Field Sunday and a Tim McGraw and Faith Hill: Soul 2 Soul concert at Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena on Saturday, to give the city some relief and distraction and reason to cheer following the horrendous experience after Hurricane Irma rolled through town, causing historic storm surges.

The venues were not unscathed.  The mayor did not declare it important that the games be played until damage was assessed and    it was duly determined, given the state of the city, that emergency service personnel could be spared, McConnell said. Life-saving duties, of course, take precedence over traffic and crowd control for sports and entertainment. But it was deemed possible and therefore appropriate to go on with the shows.

McConnell does not live in a flood zone and was not under evacuation orders like many in the path of Hurricane Irma, so he opted to stay home. “The week of anticipation as Hurricane Irma made its way toward Florida was brutal, but it allowed us to be prepared,” he said.

The hurricane hit early Monday and was basically a 12-hour event. When McConnell awoke, he was faced with flooded streets in his non-flood zone neighborhood. “It was definitely hairy to wake up and see water in my garage and creeping toward my front door,” he recalled. But the water receded just as it reached his door and his concerns turned to the venues.

Several calls later he and AGM Keith Van Der Leest and Security Manager George Solomon had arranged to rendezvous with the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office (JSO) to be transported to the venues to help assess the damage. It would be another day before most of the other department heads could get out of their homes and to the venues, but when they did, the drill was to assess the damage and prioritize repair, from critical systems on down.

floodedlot300.jpgThe view from the baseball grounds looking east toward EverBank Field and flooded parking lots.

At EverBank Field, the parking lots were flooded and half the football field was underwater. The lower concourses in parts of the venue were also flooded. It sits right on the bank of the St. Johns River, McConnell said. The river spilled over its banks and into the sports complex.

“We’re still assessing the damage,” McConnell said Wednesday, but once the river receded and the Jacksonville Electric Authority (JEA) got the power on, they were able to clear the water out of the stadium and parking lots. That gave them confidence they could host a game this weekend. Most of the other damage from wind – signs down and lights and fixtures out — could be dealt with. The critical systems are all working again, he said.

Damage at the arena was very similar — water intrusion, doors blown off, a lot of debris on the outside of the venue, he recalled. But once he was able to get inside and discover no disruption to critical systems he determined that the “arena, while battered, is functional.”

“Just like the football game, we need to have that concert to give people that outlet,” he said of the mayor’s call that the show should go on.

Times Union Center, the city’s performing arts center, is also on the riverbank, but downtown. He found it surrounded by water on all four sides on Monday and, immediately, thought the worst. He got in late Monday without power in the building and his first ray of hope was noting the lobby was dry. Power was restored Tuesday and they realized none of the systems were damaged.

hogan600.jpgThis is Hogan Street running south to the St. John's River. The Times Union Center for the Performing Arts (not seen in this photo) is located at the corner of Hogan and Water Street (just to the right of the Gazebo).

The Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra moved back in Wednesday and will rehearse Thursday for a performance on Saturday.

The Prime Osborn Convention Center, which used to be the Jacksonville train terminal, had water intrusion. The fresh air handler, 20 X 20 X 6 feet, was blown off the roof and left a huge hole. The rain came in.

“We were able to get people up there to patch the roof yesterday,” he said. “Today it served as a comfort and charging station for displaced JEA customers where they could get water, enjoy air conditioning and charge their phones. When I was there on Monday, that was the last thing on my mind.”

It’s still slow going; with full assessment comes record keeping, photos, etc., but the situation now, three days later, makes them feel good about being able to manage what they’re faced with.

“It’s hard not to get emotional after what we were looking at and facing,” McConnell said. He emphasized again and again the cooperation and collaboration among the mayor, JSO and Jacksonville Fire & Rescue Department.

“I spent 25 years in the NFL and worked in cities all over the world. I can tell you it’s a special situation here,” he concluded.

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$1 Billion Redo for National Western
Posted: 13 Sep 2017, 7:00 pm

National Western Stock Show and Complex, Denver, is getting a $1-billion upgrade.

As it currently stands, the National Western Stock Show Association books all events on the massive 90-acre complex along a major interstate on the outskirts of Denver — but that all will change when a new partnership is formed.

“We are in the process of getting city council’s approval on what’s been called the framework agreement between the Western Stock Show Association, Colorado State University, and the city, on how the National Western Campus will operate for the next 100 years,” said Paul Andrews, president and CEO of the National Western Stock Show and Complex.

That means that the management of the various venues on the stock show campus will change in the next three to five years, potentially opening up opportunities for venue management companies, Andrews said.

Each year, the complex hosts roughly 250 events, all organized and managed by Andrews’ team. Yet $1 billion in renovations and upgrades to the grounds will shift Andrews into solely managing the National Western Stock Show, which is a 501 (c) 3, each January, the Rodeo All-Star Weekend and the Denver County Fair.

An authority, that has not yet been formed, will manage the rest of the grounds — or hire a company to do it — and the venues on the complex.

Denver City Council is expected to approve a new business model at its Sept. 17 meeting. An authority will then be formed of 11 members, which includes Andrews and his board chair.

“That authority will then run the day-to-day operations once the build-out is complete,” Andrews said. “The agreement that we’re about to sign allows for the authority to hire a president and CEO that builds a staff to do (venue management) or hires an entity to be a booking agent.”

Phases one and two are estimated to be completed by 2023.

The “build-out” of the complex is massive and will repair the old grounds into a modern-day campus that includes a livestock center with 230,000 sq. ft. of barn space that can be used for expos, a CSU research center, a new 20-acre site for outdoor festivals, and a new 450,000-sq-ft. exposition hall.

“The entire complex brings lots of flexibility with booking concerts, family shows and high school events,” Andrews said.

The first phase includes putting in the new yards this November on a 20-acre site along the Platte River that local promoters can use for outdoor music festivals.

Phase two includes building an equestrian center that has two major arenas inside that range from 2,500 to 4,500 seats depending on the configuration.

After phase two is complete, construction will begin on the 450,000-sq-ft. exposition hall and a new 10,000-seat arena that will replace the outdated 8,300-seat Denver Coliseum that was built in 1951.

The coliseum also will have 40 suites, which the current structure lacks. That venue will be used for concerts, family shows and minor league sports from February to December each year. In January, the coliseum will be occupied by the National Western Stock Show, which celebrates its 116th year in 2018.

Funding for the project was made possible in 2015 when voters approved public funding for the renovations.

The goal for all those involved in the renovation is to keep the agricultural flare alive, even if events don’t center around agriculture, Andrews said.

“Not all of the events on this site are going to be agricultural, but when people are here, they’re going to be exposed to things that are agriculturally related,” he said, highlighting that pictures and ag memorabilia will be displayed everywhere.

“It’s going to be the most unique complex in the country, because it’s doing many, many things to benefit mankind as well as entertain people,” Andrews said, pointing to the CSU Equestrian Center that will handle intense research.

Denver City Council will vote on the following on Sept. 17:

“A bill for an ordinance that… approves a framework agreement with Colorado State University, the Western Stock Show Association, and the National Western Center Authority for 50 years, with two possible 25-year extensions, to authorize formation of an authority to operate the new facilities and govern the roles and responsibilities of each party for the redevelopment of the existing National Western Complex into a year-round venue to preserve the National Western Stock Show in Denver for the next 100 years, provide room for new programming, provide connectivity to surrounding neighborhoods, and bring more visitors to Denver.”


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KAABOO Aims For Luxury
Posted: 13 Sep 2017, 7:00 pm

The upscale KAABOO music festival plays Sept.15-17 at Del Mar, Calif., Fairgrounds.

KAABOO music festival, Del Mar, Calif., set out to conquer the premium festival space three years ago with its mix of hot acts, gourmet food and drinks, upscale retail, concierge service and over-the-top amenities like air-conditioned bathrooms and lounges, a pool with private cabanas, onsite spa treatments and surfing lessons.

Based on its growing attendance, it’s succeeding and taking advantage of the current trend to produce festivals that cater to audiences willing to pay more to be pampered.

“KAABOO is focused on hospitality,” said Jason Felts, chief branding and marketing officer, KAABOO, “It’s our underlying theme.”

According to Felts, last year’s attendance numbers were impressive, nearing its 40,000-capacity for all three nights, and this years’ presale is outpacing last year.

The festival opens its doors this year, Sept. 15-17, with headliners including Muse, Pink, Alanis Morissette, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers and EDM King David Guetta.

This year, we are focusing on highlighting ‘five senses’, he said. “Our returning stars to the festival are the music, the comedy, the culinary, the arts and the indulgences.”

Returning favorites include the Las Vegas-style pool day-club, BASK; the spa, where guests can get massages, hot shaves and hangover IV’s; and Mercedes-Benz car service.

New experiences will include an increased comedy lineup, and an after hours nightclub called Club Elevate, which offers bottle service and top DJs.

The nightclub is being presented in partnership with MGM’s Jewel Nightclub and will be open Friday and Saturday night. “Inside the club will be aerialist dancers and will feel very Vegas,” said Felts. Entrance to the nightclub is included with the KAABOO ticket, and it will be on a “first-come, first-served” basis. It will be open after the final performance each night and stay open until 1 a.m. Table prices range between $350 and $1500 depending on placement and package size.

BASK_2.jpgBASK day-club and pool will cool off guests attending KAABOO, Sept. 15-17.

The popular day-club and pool, BASK, presented in partnership with MGM Grand’s Wet Republic, will be open each day. Weekend passes are available for $100; cabanas are available for $2000-$2750 depending on the day.

Single day passes are $150 and a three-day pass is $299.

The VIP packages are already sold out. The Hang Five package cost $899 and includes a premium stage viewing area at each stage; access to Hang Five viewing platforms, including seating and shade; exclusive culinary options for purchase in dedicated zones; priority access lane at event entrances; private restroom facilities; and access to the Thursday night Sneak Peek party.

The Hang Ten package cost $3,499 and includes access to front row viewing areas; access to on-stage viewing platforms; a personal concierge pre-event & access to on-site hosts; access to the KAABOO Artist Lounge; exclusive meet & greets; complimentary food prepared by a private chef in designated areas; complimentary beverages in designated areas; complimentary parking; and the Thursday Night event.

There will be extensive retail, featuring over 100 items, with a good portion KAABOO-branded. “We want to grow the brand to a 365-lifestyle brand,” said Felts.

KAABOO covers 200 acres, will feature four music stages; a culinary stage, where eight chefs including Robert Irvine, Richard Blais, Chris Adams and Michael Voltaggio will perform cooking shows; a comedy stage; art installations; and a silent disco in addition to the two clubs.

“There are a lot of great festivals, however we really feel that KAABOO is shifting the paradigm to offer guests a different experience,” Felts continued. “The experience and amenities that guests find at KAABOO are very different from what guests experience at most festivals, from the quality and magnitude of our contemporary art work to the quality of gourmet culinary offerings and diversity of our lineup, down to offering all flushing toilets for public use.”

KAABOO’s plan is for steady growth, according to Felts. “We are continuing to grow the KAABOO brand in the industry, as well as the general community, with organic, word-of-mouth. It is our goal that KAABOO becomes a household name, attracting guests locally and from outside the region.”

KAABOO signed a ten-year deal with Del Mar Fairgrounds last year.

“You have never been to a festival as upscale as KAABOO,” said Tim Fennell, general manager and CEO, Del Mar Fairgrounds. “No other festival in the country has as much going for it as KAABOO. It generates a lot of revenue for us and employs thousands of people. We want to keep it around as long as possible. This is a long range deal.”

Indulgences.jpgIndulgences at KAABOO include a spa where guests can get massages, shaves and haircuts.

“The KAABOO team takes the customer experience to an extreme level,” said Fennell. “They think of everything and execute it flawlessly. The food and beverage is all world-class.”

Fennell said the festival attracts a slightly older crowd than many other festivals do. “The average age seems to be people in their 30s and 40s. The average spend is between $50-$100 not including the ticket.”

The costs of putting on the event are enormous. “They spend between $8-$10 million on talent alone,” said Fennell.

He expects the net to the fairgrounds to be between $900,000 and $1.1million. KAABOO’s profits were undisclosed, but Fennell said, “Most music fests lose money the first two or three years.”

“There is not another music festival anywhere that caters to this demographic,” said Fennell. “KAABOO is all class and top of the line.”

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Sheltering from Irma; Harvey Updates
Posted: 13 Sep 2017, 7:00 pm

Houstonians found that last stop treacherous, as the photo of a submerged stairwell at the Wortham Theater Center proves. The basement was completely submerged.

The Columbus (Ga.) Civic Center became the largest shelter in that state last Friday as Hurricane Irma forced evacuations across the Southeastern states. Meanwhile, the Houston Theater District is pumping furiously to remove the flood waters from Hurricane Harvey two weeks ago.

Jon Dorman, who took the director job in Columbus in February, and whose family is still in Florida, said at its peak, the civic center was housing 600 people on the hockey floor and concourses. About 100 of them managed to leave for home or friends yesterday (Tuesday). “The plan, at this point, is to close the shelter tomorrow after breakfast,” Dorman said on Wednesday.

They found room on the 17,000 sq. ft. arena floor and the concourse encircling the building for 650 cots, he said. The event hallway was outside the dressing rooms, staffed with nurses and used for people with injuries. A lot of patients from mental  health institutions were in the evacuee mix, Dorman explained.

One side of the concourse was designated animal friendly, the other prohibited pets. Pet owners were able to exit and enter the arena at designated locations to take care of the animals, all of which were kept in kennels. The arena seats 10,000.

In the past, the local Red Cross Disaster Management team has used recreation centers throughout the town as shelters, Dorman said. The civic center was designated a potential shelter, but had not been called upon until it became clear the number of evacuees expected from Hurricane Irma would surpass the ability to spread resources throughout town.

Donations were used to feed the evacuees, a lot of those from local restaurants, Dorman said.

The venue staff provided security, setup and janitorial services, as well as operations backup, keeping the lights and air-conditioning going. “It was a hell of a job keeping the showers and restrooms clean for that many guests 24/7,” Dorman said, praising his staff.

The Columbus Civic Center has 25 full-time employees who worked in shifts, Dorman said. That included event managers and nine operations staff. “We probably had 12 part-timers rotating in and out,” he said. Dorman personally did not sleep at the civic center, but he was there from morning to lights out at 10 p.m. all six days.

“We had very few problems,” Dorman said. “The Red Cross was very complimentary.”


Meanwhile, assessments, cleanup and repairs are underway at Jones Hall, Wortham Center, and Theater District underground parking in Houston, all of which sustained water damage from Hurricane Harvey.. The facilities remain closed to staff and the public, according to Leah Shah, PR director for Houston First Corporation (HFC), which operates the venues and garages.

Dawn Ullrich, president and CEO, Houston First Corporation, urged the public to remain patient, noting that besides theater patrons, 3,000 monthly parking customers are out of luck for now.

Jones Hall suffered minimal damages. Water entered the lower level and the rehearsal room, covering the wood floor. The floor and wet drywall have been removed and will be replaced. Assuming Jones receives good air quality and structural reports, the building should re-open to staff and performances by the end of the week.

Contractors continue pumping out water and removing soggy carpet and drywall from Wortham Theater Center. The basement was completely submerged in water. Flood water also reached the stage floor of the Brown Theater, so the stage floor is being removed and replaced. The building still has no power. One of the biggest concerns is air quality, so tests will be conducted as soon as the building is dry. No re-opening date has been determined for the Wortham, and events and performances have been canceled through Oct. 15.

More than 270-million gallons of water filled the Theater District parking garages. As of Wednesday, about 85% of the water had been pumped out. Getting the underground garages fully operational is expected to take several weeks, and they have been closed until further notice. In the meantime, monthly parking customers, including city employees, have been assigned alternative parking at other Houston First parking facilities. Houston First is also working with its parking partner, Republic Parking System, to secure additional downtown locations. Shuttle services are being provided at some locations to transport customers to and from temporary parking sites to their offices.

Houston First Theater District employees have been temporarily relocated to Partnership Tower while recovery work is being done at Jones, Wortham and the underground garages.

Houston First is assisting Alley Theater management with moving their employees into temporary offices in HFC’s former offices at 4 Houston Center while the Alley undergoes cleanup and repairs.

Robyn Williams, director of Portland’5 Centers for the Performing Arts who used to work in the Houston theater district, had kept in touch with her former co-workers through these hurricane weeks (an exercise most in the industry undertook recently), and noted that many of the theaters had taken steps to “waterproof” as much as they could. Costumes, instruments, equpment and papers, essentially whatever could be moved out of the basement, had been moved; but, unfortunately, mechanical is permanently located there.

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Taylor Swift Ticket Scheme Controversial
Posted: 13 Sep 2017, 7:00 pm

Taylor Swift Tix is the name of the program Ticketmaster created for getting what's expected to be elusive tickets to see her Reputation Tour.

Tickets for the upcoming Taylor Swift covert tour are going to be distributed based on a unique system that gives priority ticket purchases to those who gain points through social media postings, merchandise purchases and more. 

The program and website that will sell the tickets is called Taylor Swift Tix — and the concept is already controversial. Many have criticized Swift for having fans buy merchandise to access tickets.

David Marcus, executive vice president and head of music at Ticketmaster, Swift’s ticketing partner, defended the concept and thinks the naysayers don’t have a clear picture of what it all means.

“They knock on Taylor because they think you have to buy merchandise to get a good ticket,” Marcus explained, clarifying it’s the non-commercial activity on Taylor Swift Tix that gains traction for fans on the activity meter. “Sure you can buy music and buy merchandise, but you can also share on social media,” he explained. “There are all kinds of ways for fans that aren’t limited to buying merchandise.”

Bottom line is that the goal is for artists to reduce brokers with bots from buying up all the tickets at once, he said.

Taylor Swift Reputation Tour tickets are rolling out on a Ticketmaster Verified Fan program that was specially modified for Swift, said Marcus. Ticket distribution has not been announced yet.

Many artists, including Ed Sheeran and Bruce Springsteen, already use Ticketmaster’s Verified Fan program, which aims to eliminate scalpers from buying massive amounts of tickets and jacking up the price — making them unaffordable for many fans.

“It’s a great strategic step for Ticketmaster and for the artist,” Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino said on a KindredCast podcast Aug. 31. “The challenge right now is there’s about $8 billion trading on the secondary market. That’s just purely because of the inefficiency of how the market is priced. It’s the only product in the world that has a higher market value the second it’s sold.”

The goal is to sell tickets at the prices artists want them, not the inflated secondary market prices.

“The biggest challenge we’ve had is how do we get the fan to be able to buy the ticket at the low price the artist wants to actually charge,” Rapino said on the podcast.

Marcus further explained that venues have greatly benefited from the program due to establishments being filled with actual fans on whom the Verified Fan program collects data.

Under the Verified Fan program, ticket buyers have to enter information that proves they’re not a robot, which gives them preference in the system for tickets.

Ticketmaster also collects information on each fan and uses that data to prove they’re not some PC in another city buying up all the tickets before anyone else gets a chance.

“Then you start pushing them through this more personalized digital access control. Venues will be able to understand their audiences better than ever before. I think that that is an especially valuable benefit for venues,” Marcus said. “Once the (Taylor Swift) dates are announced, fans will be asked to come back and add more data points to their profiles.”

Some artists will price front row seats at $200 and the back of the venue for $30. Unfortunately, ticket brokers will buy all the $30 tickets and charge triple for what they paid, Marcus said.

“They get in between the artist/fan relationship for the sole motive of profit,” he said.


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Minnesota Fair Beats Record
Posted: 13 Sep 2017, 2:25 pm

Night time at the Grandstand, Minnesota State Fair, St. Paul.

The numbers continue to climb at the Minnesota State Fair, St. Paul, with an all-time high attendance at this year’s event that stopped short of hitting the two million mark. The official count at the 11-day fair was 1,997,320, slightly besting last year’s 1,942,000.

The weather was not much of a factor, said General Manager Jerry Hammer, but it did rain on one of the two Saturdays, prompting a slight decrease in the carnival gross.

One part of the equation, Hammer added, is the West End Market that is accessible to a transit hub that were both added in 2013. Fifty percent of the fair’s attendees travel via bus, and most of those fairgoers come through the hub and enter the fair at a location filled with food and beverage options, a free music stage, vendors selling arts and crafts and the Minnesota State Fair History & Heritage Center.

“There are so many factors,” Hammer said.

Hosting so many attendees in an 11-day-fair is doable on the expansive 300-acre fairgrounds, he added. There was one day in which attendance was under 117,000, but the high numbers came on Labor Day weekend, when 254,000 passed through the gates on Saturday and 242,000 on Sunday.

A big draw at the fair is the food, of course, with the local and even national press paying close attention to the new dishes introduced this year with much media fanfare. On opening morning, weather presenter and TV personality Al Roker from the “Today” show spent three hours on the grounds. “Every time they cut to Al Roker, he was here,” Hammer said.

And the food numbers did not disappoint, with an estimated food gross of $39,360,859, compared to $36,491,950 in 2016 and $33,160,829 in 2015, a 7.8 percent and 18.59 percent increase respectively. Daily food and beverage per caps exceeded last year’s by more than a $1, up from $24.16 to $25.21, said Dennis Larson, the fair’s food and beverage manager.

“This year so far, we look to be up about eight percent over last year due to cooler average daily temperatures and an appetite for comfort foods,” Larson added, noting that prices for the “iconic” top 10 foods did not change, so fair officials believe the numbers reflect more purchases at the booths.

In spite of the introduction of a plethora of new food items, many of them featuring bacon such as the Bacon Fluffernutter and Deep-Fried Breakfast on a Stick, the tried-and-true fair throwbacks such as chocolate chip cookies, corn dogs, fresh cut fries, roasted corn and foot-long hot dogs contributed to the top 10 food items.

The fair offered food at 300 locations, Larson added. Vendors pay 15 percent of their total sales net after the Minnesota state sales tax of 7.125 percent, plus utility fees and admission, Larson said.

Gate admission cost $14 for ages ranging from 13 to 64, with ages 65 and up and 5 to 12 paying $12. That was $1 more than last year, Hammer said, and the only comment he heard was following a free concert by George Clinton and Parliament/Funkadelic, when a group of fairgoers discussed how they couldn’t believe they saw the act for $14. “If you see George Clinton at a Twin Cities club, it’s $40-$50 each,” Hammer added.

The fair offers a mix of free and ticketed musical acts. In addition to Clinton, the popular free acts included the Pointer Sisters, Chris Janson, Tanya Tucker, Foghat, Hippo Campus, Heiruspecs, Corey Stevens and The Wild Goose Chase in the bandshell that accommodates 3,000 seated patrons with more standing.

Ticketeted concerts were performed by Nickelback, Stevie Nicks, Jim Gaffigan, Toby Keith, Frankie Valli, John Mellencamp, Pentatonix, Usher and Lil John, Phantogram and Sam Hunt, with an appearance by native son Garrison Keillor of “Prairie Home Companion” fame with “The Minnesota Show.” Ticket prices for those shows, performed in the 13,000-15,000-seat grandstand, ranged from $29 to $90.

Hammer estimates that income for the fair will be around $50 million with operating expenses of about $46 million. About $1.9 million of the expenses went toward marketing, which is spread across print, radio, television and online, including, Hammer noted, ads on YouTube videos that consumers had to watch in their entirety before their programming would play. “We had a really high rate of viewing,” he said.

In addition to the “Today” show, four area TV stations broadcast programming from the fair, along with more than 20 radio stations, Hammer said.

Every year, the fair updates its smartphone app that allows consumers to navigate the grounds and the offerings, including food and entertainment as well as a “merch search.”

Twenty-three carnival operators placed 60 rides on the independent midway, an even split between the kiddie attractions and the adult rides. S.J. Entertainment’s Crazy Mouse spinning roller coaster was the No. 1 ride. In spite of the increases in attendance and food profits, the ride numbers were down 6.4 percent for total ride revenues of $3,823,158.

“Ride and game revenue was down, largely due to rain we experienced during the early days of the fair, making it difficult to recover the lost revenue generated by these types of our outdoor attractions,” said Jim Sinclair, the fair’s deputy general manager.

The Minnesota State Fair does not offer pay-one-price ride wristbands. Ride coupons cost $1 each, $25 for 30 tickets or $40 for 54 tickets, the same as last year. The advance ticket price was $15 for 25 tickets, also the same as 2016.

Next year’s dates will be Aug. 23 to Sept. 3.





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Manchester Arena Reopens
Posted: 12 Sep 2017, 9:00 pm

The new foyer of Manchester Arena, which reopened Sept. 9. (Photo courtesy of Pollstar)

Manchester Arena is back in business after a three-and-a-half-month renovation since the terrorist attack on the venue following an Ariana Grande concert May 22.

We Are Manchester, a benefit concert headlined by Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, marked the reopening, Sept. 9.

“Renovation work is still underway in the City Room, but it is sufficiently complete to reopen part of the space as a route to the arena,” stated the arena on its website.

City Room is the name of the area where a terrorist, identified as British-born Libyan Salman Abedi, detonated a bomb, killing 22 and injuring many more.

The Tim Parry Jonathan Ball Foundation For Peace, which was formed in 1995 by Colin and Wendy Parry, following the loss of their 12-year-old son Tim and 3-year-old Johnathan Ball, in the 1993 Warrington bomb attacks, which were perpetrated by the Provisional Irish Republican Army, produced the event. Families of the victims of the attack were invited.

Nick Taylor,  chief executive of the foundation, said in a statement that “there has been huge interest in this private advance visit which has been strongly police regulated and supported by event security, the Peace Foundation and Victim Support.”

“Visiting the City Room is clearly a sensitive issue and is not appropriate for all families or survivors, however it is important that we were able to facilitate this time for people to see the space and ask any questions before it reopens,” said Taylor. “We hope that this will help to prepare future concertgoers for their return to the arena.”

Tight venue security was in place for the benefit concert. There’s a ban in place for large bags and there won’t be any storage room for bags available on site.

The City Room will be one of only two entrances to the arena besides Hunts Banks outside Victoria Station. Concertgoers were urged to arrive early as “further enhanced security checks have been put in place to provide reassurance and confidence.”

Mike Downing, EVP, Prevent Advisors, said the redesign was just the first step. “Flows, ingress, egress and queuing are things they should have considered in the new designs,” he said. “Minimal loitering inside and outside the venue is what you want to design for.”

Verifying the gaps and vulnerabilities is vital to any redesign, said Downing. “I’d hate to think we have to put bomb-resistant material into all the designs because of the shrapnel and the glass, but it really depends on how much of that there is in the design.”

He also suggested that using smart technology “that connects everything including social media threats” is important.

“What really needs to be done is a thorough look at the security protocols and procedures they had in place and refresh them,” he said. “I’d look at what needs to be altered and look at the points of threats we are dealing with today; look at the technology and software that can shore up some of the vulnerabilities and the gaps to make sure the security is as intense throughout an event as it was in the beginning of the event.”

Partnerships with local, state and federal agencies should also have been addressed before reopening.

“Coordination with law enforcement is as much a part of any new plan as the design is,” he said. “Design is a big factor in mitigating opportunists, but we should still be on the prevention side of this problem with good intelligence, good deployment, good security, good technology and prevent it before it happens.”

“If it happens, we have a bit of a failure,” he added. “As this threat continues to evolve, we need to continue to be prepared for it.”



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OVG’S Global Partnerships Expands
Posted: 12 Sep 2017, 6:00 pm

OVG’S Global Partnerships' Dan Griffis, Evan Levine and Ryan Brach.

Last week, OVG’s Narrative Partners rebranded as Global Partnerships and added sports and entertainment vets Evan Levine and Ryan Brach to its executive team. Venues Today spoke with the two new key players plus Global Partnerships’ President Dan Griffis to get the inside thinking for the name switch and insight about where the OVG division goes from here.

Why did you change Narrative Partners to Global Partnerships?

Griffis: The idea around Oak View Group was going to be a top-level management company with multiple frames underneath it that we planned to run as separate companies. But as it played out, equity in OVG has continued to build, and we decided that Narrative Partners as an entity was not doing us any favors in terms of adding significant value. It became a complex tale to tell when it came to Narrative Partners and how we were connected to OVG. Simplicity is what’s important, and we needed a simpler story. Tim Leiweke (co-founder, OVG) and I sat down and talked about it, and we decided that the rebranding was a solid idea.

When were you approached to join the firm, and what was your thought processses when you decided to sign on?

Levine: March 2017. I’ve had a varied career in the sports and entertainment space on the corporate side of things as it relates to the National Basketball Association (NBA) and Major League Soccer (MLS) from a league perspective, as well as start-ups from the ground up. I worked at Roc Nation as they built their sports division and built out the commercial engine of their entire operation. Global Partnerships was a great opportunity, not only to work with Dan and Ryan, but to grow a brand. It is something you just can’t pass up.

Brach: May. I’ve been on the arena and team side my entire career and have relationships with a lot of my arena colleagues around the country. To have the chance to learn from Dan and Ryan and Tim and Irving (Azoff, the other OVG co-founder) is an incredible opportunity. The ability to leverage that with all of the other North American arenas to bring scale to the partners and to localize its effectiveness is a huge differentiator from a lot of the other large-scale types of opportunities present. Being able to bring my expertise on the arena and team side, whether that’s selling jersey rights to soccer teams or NBA pass deals or stadium naming rights, is right up my alley and really got me excited about joining OVG.

Where will you be working?

Levine: I’ll be based in New York City.

Griffis: We have multiple clients based on the East Coast and we expect to grow that office to five to 10 people. We are thrilled to have Evan aboard; he provides an East Coast network and conduit that will allow OVG to thrive on both coasts.

Brach: I’m in Los Angeles.

How will the structure work between you?

Griffis: Ryan and Evan will be the leads on all our accounts. Evan will be in charge of East Coast projects; Ryan, given his arena relationships, will take the lead on Arena Alliance partnerships. As new projects come online, it will be based on geography. All the account executives we’ve brought on in the last year or so will report directly to Ryan and Evan.

What are your main goals in your new positions?

Levine: To deliver for our clients, whether it’s our properties or third-party clients.
We want to build the best-in-class organization that is the envy of every other firm out there, whether it’s entertainment or sports.

Brach: Leveraging our relationships around the globe and being able to leverage our partnerships to help grow revenue. On the flip side, we want to give our partners the opportunity to do things they currently are unable to do.

By branding yourselves as ‘global partnerships’ do you have more than North America in mind?

Griffis: ‘Global’ comes from the idea that a lot of our clients have global properties.
We have no real plans to open an office abroad. But we’re not just focusing on companies that are based in the U.S. and Canada.

Brach: Most of the arenas and teams we represent have a global footprint; we’re confident we can handle it all from New York and Los Angeles.

Can you talk about the Walmart deal?

Griffis: Talks started taking place in loose conversations last fall. Given that I spent a lot of time in retail in sports and entertainment marketing for Target, I knew retail was a category widely available as it related to the Arena Alliance. The idea of us bringing the Arena Alliance program together and establishing national platforms in non-traditional categories intrigued me. Arenas like Madison Square Garden (NYC), Pepsi Center (Denver) and United Center (Chicago) do a phenomenal job as it relates to the soda category, the beer category, the insurance category and local automotive category, and we weren’t positioning ourselves to add a tremendous amount of value as it related to those.

Why retail?

Griffis: Retail is one place I thought we could add value, particularly the big-box chains. We came up with a program and  a conversation started with Haworth, Walmart’s media agency. Haworth represented Target for a very long time, and I knew them well. We talked about how we could showcase Walmart as a vibrant part of local communities. The Arena Alliance fit very well with these goals, with 65 million people across North America, who spend money.

Can you explain the program?

Griffis: We came up with the Walmart Community Playmakers Program, which is an opportunity for each of the teams to have a moment where someone gets recognized on the court or ice for their efforts within the local community to help the community become a better place to live. We rolled it out at the end of last season, and now it will roll out in full-force with the start of the new NBA and National Hockey League season. Every team has a website page where members of the community can nominate people to be awarded. Winners will get a plaque, a gift card and be treated like a VIP.

What are the financial arrangements, which one report pegged as $40 million over three years?

Griffis: While I can’t disclose the exact amount of the deal, I can say that it’s a nice investment, and the deal is multiyear with options beyond that as well.




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Romer Resigns From VMA
Posted: 12 Sep 2017, 2:00 pm

SteveRomer_200x1452.jpgSteve Romer.

Venue Management Association, Asia and Pacific (VMA) Chief Executive Steve Romer has resigned from the organization after three-and-a-half years in the position.

Romer served as VMA president from 2008 to 2011. Previous to his time with VMA, Romer was GM of  the Sydney Entertainment Centre and he had held executive roles at the Sydney Convention & Exhibition Centre, Blacktown International Sports Park, Sydney and at Gold Coast theme parks Dreamworld, Coomera, Queensland, and Sea World, Main Beach, Queensland.

Romer will remain in his role as chief executive until late October.


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Hot Tickets for September 13, 2017
Posted: 12 Sep 2017, 2:00 pm

24K sensation Bruno Mars performed on Saturday Night Live, New York City.

Bruno Mars, currently on his 24K Magic World Tour, made three appearances on our Hot Tickets chart this week and took the top spot with with two sold-out, flawless performances at Bell Centre, Montreal, Aug. 29-30. With ticket prices ranging from $40-$143, the shows grossed a combined $3.5 million with 34,000 fans in attendance. Highlighted by his original style, the 31-year-old Hawaii native ignited audiences with a unique blend of sounds ranging from funk to R&B. Recently, Mars’ sound has been likened to that of the immortal Michael Jackson. The pop superstar will be making his next stop, Sept. 14, at Spectrum Center, Charolotte, N.C.

The family-friendly musical and one of Broadway’s most popular shows, “Wicked,” which premiered on Broadway in 2003, continues to enchant audiences with their 2017 North American tour. Showgoers in Appleton, Wis., were treated to a 16-show stop at Fox Cities Performing Arts Center, Aug. 30-Sept. 10, which saw sold-out crowds grossing nearly $3 million. The Broadway Across America-promoted show tells the story of a pre-Dorothy Oz and an unlikely friendship between Glenda the Good Witch and Elphaba the Wicked Witch of the West. The quirky characters, amazing design, soaring score and fascinating cast will continue to work their magic on audiences in North America throughout 2018.

HOT TICKETS is a weekly summary of the top acts and ticket sales as reported to VT PULSE. Following are the top 20 concerts and events, the top 5 in each seating capacity category, which took place Aug. 15-Sept. 12.

15,001 or More Seats

10,001-15,000 Seats

5,001-10,000 Seats

5,000 or Fewer Seats

1) Bruno Mars
Gross Sales: $3,572,087; Venue: Bell Centre, Montreal; Attendance: 34,000; Ticket Range: $143.85-$40.69; Promoter: evenko, Live Nation; Dates: Aug. 29-30; No. of Shows: 2

2) The Lumineers
Gross Sales: $2,006,076; Venue: Fiddler’s Green Amphitheatre, Greenwood Village, Colo.; Attendance: 48,533; Ticket Range: $65-$29.95; Promoter: Messina Touring Group; Dates: Aug. 25-27; No. of Shows: 3

3) Ed Sheeran
Gross Sales: $1,243,771; Venue: Spectrum Center, Charlotte, N.C.; Attendance: 13,927; Ticket Range: $99.50-$39.50; Promoter: Messina Touring Group; Dates: Sept. 3; No. of Shows: 1

4) Bruno Mars
Gross Sales: $1,216,928; Venue: Videotron Centre, Quebec City; Attendance: 15,099; Ticket Range: $102.75-$36.99; Promoter: Gestev, Live Nation, evenko; Dates: Aug. 24; No. of Shows: 1

5) Ed Sheeran
Gross Sales: $1,207,645; Venue: American Airlines Center, Dallas; Attendance: 13,632; Ticket Range: $99.50-$39.50; Promoter: Messina Touring Group; Dates: Aug. 18; No. of Shows: 1

1) Stevie Nicks
Gross Sales: $644,794; Venue: Resch Center, Green Bay, Wis.; Attendance: 5,841; Ticket Range: $125-$69.50; Promoter: Frank Productions; Dates: Aug. 23; No. of Shows: 1

2) Alan Jackson
Gross Sales: $339,239; Venue: Ford Center, Evansville, Ind.; Attendance: 5,731; Ticket Range: $96.50-$22; Promoter: Police Productions; Dates: Aug. 25; No. of Shows: 1

3) Marvel Universe Live
Gross Sales: $286,759; Venue: Valley View Casino Center, San Diego; Attendance: 11,571; Ticket Range: $82.50-$17.50; Promoter: Feld Entertainment; Dates: Aug. 24-27; No. of Shows: 7

4) Quad Series Netball
Gross Sales: $271,004; Venue: Brisbane (Australia) Entertainment Centre; Attendance: 6,627; Ticket Range: $73.61-$33.82; Promoter: Netball Australia; Dates: Aug. 26; No. of Shows: 1

5) One Big Voice
Gross Sales: $145,252; Venue: Perth (Australia) Arena; Attendance: 7,886; Ticket Range: $26.47; Promoter: One Big Voice; Dates: Aug. 18; No. of Shows: 1

1) Bruno Mars
Gross Sales: $2,153,264; Venue: Park Theater at Monte Carlo, Las Vegas; Attendance: 10,505; Ticket Range: $500-$99.50; Promoter: Live Nation, MGM Resorts; Dates: Sept. 2-3; No. of Shows: 2

2) Gloria Trevi vs Alejandra Guzman
Gross Sales: $903,490; Venue: State Farm Arena, Hidalgo, Texas; Attendance: 10,547; Ticket Range: $150-$45; Promoter: First Row Productions; Dates: Aug. 25-26; No. of Shows: 2

3) Dave Chappelle, Childish Gambino
Gross Sales: $857,265; Venue: Radio City Music Hall, New York; Attendance: 5,922; Ticket Range: $193.50-$93.50; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Aug. 19; No. of Shows: 1

4) Sebastian Maniscalco
Gross Sales: $849,360; Venue: Mohegan Sun Arena, Uncasville, Conn.; Attendance: 9,917; Ticket Range: $149-$59; Promoter: In-house, UTA; Dates: Aug. 26; No. of Shows: 1

5) Dave Chappelle, Kendrick Lamar
Gross Sales: $845,433; Venue: Radio City Music Hall, New York; Attendance: 5,850; Ticket Range: $193.50-$93.50; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Aug. 15; No. of Shows: 1

1) Rod Stewart
Gross Sales: $3,263,175; Venue: The Colosseum at Caesars Palace, Las Vegas; Attendance: 26,997; Ticket Range: $250-$49; Promoter: AEG Presents, Caesars Entertainment; Dates: Aug. 18-Sept. 3; No. of Shows: 8

2) Wicked
Gross Sales: $2,901,346; Venue: Fox Cities Performing Arts Center, Appleton, Wis.; Attendance: 29,974; Ticket Range: $172.50-$52.50; Promoter: Broadway Across America, In-house; Dates: Aug. 30-Sept. 10; No. of Shows: 16

3) Jeff Dunham
Gross Sales: $721,374; Venue: The Colosseum at Caesars Palace, Las Vegas; Attendance: 11,133; Ticket Range: $79.50-$49.50; Promoter: AEG Presents, Caesars Entertainment, Tate Entertainment; Dates: Aug. 2, 10, 16, 23, 30; No. of Shows: 5

4) Steve Martin, Martin Short
Gross Sales: $337,230; Venue: The Colosseum at Caesars Palace, Las Vegas; Attendance: 3,635; Ticket Range: $175-$49.95; Promoter: AEG Presents, Caesars Entertainment; Dates: Aug. 25; No. of Shows: 1

5) Taeyang 2017 World Tour White Night
Gross Sales: $292,883; Venue: Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre, Atlanta; Attendance: 1,557; Ticket Range: $338.14-$104.94; Promoter: KPOPME; Dates: Sept. 6; No. of Shows: 1

The Weekly Hot Tickets chart is compiled by Monique Potter. To submit reports, e-mail or fax to (714) 378-0040.


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accesso ShoWare Center
Posted: 1 Sep 2017, 6:30 pm

Be ready. That’s the call, especially during this horrific fire and hurricane season.
These past few weeks, everyone has been reaching out to loved ones in danger of floods, winds and fire, the worst in decades. As always, venue managers are in the eye of the storm, setting up shelters, battening down hatches, hosting benefits, and welcoming politicians and celebrities.
Given the fact that when disaster strikes, you and your family are personally at risk as well, it’s truly a calling to be among the first responders. Just like law enforcement and medical personnel, venue managers are true servants to humanity.
Mark Miller, NRG Park/SMG; Luther Villagomez, George R. Brown Convention Center; and Ned Collett, Oak View Group, all Houstonians on the rescue/serve side of Hurricane Harvey’s direct hit on that city, took it in stride. Pros are prepared.
Mark Miller’s personal saga went like this: “I actually went to rescue my son, Ken, because he had water coming up in his neighborhood. I waded in and carried him and his one-and-a-half-year-old son out. The water was knee deep. We got them to our house. Monday morning they said ‘you need to get out of your house now.’ The Brazos River was expected to go to 61 feet and our levy was only 59 feet. They were saying get out now or you won’t be able to get out later. Fortunately the water on his street had gone down, so we went back to his house.”
“You don’t know what to expect. You watch it minute-by-minute, hour-by-hour to figure out what you have to do.”
While he was playing musical houses on the personal front, Miller was also making his way to work, setting up the 300-acre NRG Park as shelter and staging area for law and medical personnel. They even became a helipad.
“It all worked out. On Tuesday, I got from my son’s house to the building and I didn’t have any issues. We were literally working on the shelter on Tuesday and Wednesday. Wednesday, I got in the car to see how far I could get, and got all the way to my house, and turned the power and the alarms back on.”
Collett borrowed a boat and help from his neighbor, a fisherman, and spent a day rescuing neighbors, including Melissa McGee Singleton and her family. Villagomez shrugged off the drama, saying his family was luckily in a safe area, while he was at the convention center, sheltering up to 10,000 people. The Incident Command is sort of like any event coordination committee, just less predictable.
Sitting here in balmy Southern California, our hearts and hopes are with all of those in danger and post-trauma mode. Disaster is nondiscriminant. All we can do from here is keep in touch. But those of you in the thick of it, wow, you are heroes.
God grant you many years to be ready.

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Posted: 1 Sep 2017, 6:15 pm

I was reading an article in Industrial Safety & Hygiene News (what do you do for fun?) by Chris Klinvex titled “Know Your Wiring - Employee Inner Personal Traits Drive Safety Performance.”
Klinvex wrote about safety compliance and performance, but I saw many correlations to how employee’s personal traits are reflected in their workflow, productivity and overall performance.
While reading the article, I found myself thinking about character, which for me can be simply defined by considering what someone does when no one is watching. I recognize that this is an oversimplification, but it works for me in this context. As I gain more experience, it is increasingly obvious to me that in the vast majority of cases, simpler is better and in many cases more accurate.
The model to predict our success at work has been evolved over the course of the past 50 years. The most widely accepted model of personality — the ‘Big Five’ model — uses five distinct scales to describe personality: conscientiousness (the extent to which one is dependable and persistent), emotional stability (one’s calmness and self-control), extroversion (a measure of sociability, ambition and narcissism), agreeableness (the extent to which one is cooperative and altruistic), and openness to experience (a measure of creativity and novelty-seeking as opposed to being set in one’s ways).
Klinvex’s article refers to safety shortcuts that an individual will take when the opportunity presents itself. “An employee with a lower ability to perceive and evaluate risks will have four times more safety incidents than those with a stronger ability.” We all know employees where the main risk of injury to them and others relates to rules. “These employees tend to tolerate rules versus respect them.” They are quick to rationalize violating the rules when they are unsupervised, when the policies and procedures become inconvenient or when they perceive the risk to be low. 
The same applies in my own analysis of productivity and performance. I have experienced numerous situations in my career where a staff member found the agreed upon direction and methodology inconvenient or felt that the timing of the solution was more important than the path and process to the solution.
They usually made those decisions because they did not have the necessary experience or information. Based on their level of professional experience, they could not reasonably visualize how their actions could create negative or unexpected consequences. This also occurs when someone is solely focused on their part of the solution (silo) vs. the potential implications throughout the organization. This inability to understand or appreciate the risks of a shortcut can affect every area of an organization.
There are also employees that stand out in my ability to reasonably predict their actions. Interestingly enough, I rarely had issues with that group, as I usually did not put them in a position to make a mistake or allow them too much space without being supervised.
In most cases, this discussion comes back to two of the key issues — time and communication — that managers and operators find in short supply and suffer the consequences.
An article in Forbes Magazine by Sebastian Bailey titled “Can Personality Predict Performance?” suggests that personality is the driver for behavior. There is no great surprise in that. The article continues to describe what can be a path to a solution that managers and operators can consider as they are building their teams or replacing team members. Note, the average person spends 4.4 years at a job. For Millennials it is half that.
Unfortunately, it seems that we rarely have the time to fully consider the long-term implications of the hires we make in the context of the overall team. In making a decision like that, the immediate need is addressed but the long-term consequences can be counter-productive to the organization.

The Bottom Line
I see a lot of reactionary decision making in our business when it comes to staffing and team building. There is a good deal of fear associated with the Human Resources and candidate selection process. Fear and discomfort are usually born of a lack of familiarity and understanding of the process. I encourage you to make a commitment to developing a process with the appropriate due diligence and sticking with it.

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Posted: 1 Sep 2017, 6:00 pm

Getting an artist, their entourage, their band and backup singers equipment and set pieces from one venue to the next is an art in itself. Transportation requires a lot of precise planning and can be pricy and problematic.
With many tours using multiple buses and trucks to haul around their people and stuff, another big concern is the damage this does to the environment. Many tour and trucking operators, aware of the effects on the earth from all those emissions into the air, and all the waste the tour produces, have been trying to find solutions that make touring greener.
Several have tried environmentally friendly biodiesel fuel; some are using straight vegetable oil (SVO), which uses a blend of vegetable oil, and others have chosen to offset their carbon footprint by encouraging green practices in other areas. Venues Today spoke with several tour operators to explore how going green is working.
Greenvans started in 2008 with a mission to save time, money, frustration — and the environment. “We support touring musicians who are as passionate about making a positive impact on the environment as they are about their music,” said Andy Reitz, president,  Greenvans.
“In 2008 we converted a van to run on waste vegetable oil (WVO) and started Greenvans,” he said. “Yes, we were mad scientists at the time, but we saw how much of an environmental impact touring had, and we thought we could make a small but useful contribution to the green initiative in the music industry.”
“There aren’t a lot of affordable options out there for bands that want to tour green so we’re glad to be a small way for bands to reduce their environmental impact on the road,” said Reitz.
In its nine-year history, Greenvans has served hundreds of environmentally-minded tours including Sonic Bids, Naysayer and Zion.
“There are more and more artists every day who think it’s important to be proactive about going green in any way they can,” said Reitz. “We’re a step in the right direction.”
Doug Oliver is the GM of Pioneer Coach, a company that leases entertainer coaches to musicians. They have a fleet of 40 sleeper vehicles that have eight to 12 beds, lounges and kitchens, and cost around $800,000 each. Rentals cost around $1,500-$1,800 a day and includes fuel, liability insurance and the driver.
On average, tours use two buses, but some bigger tours, like stadium tours, use five to 10 buses. The average lease is a couple months long, some deals are annual, but they’ve done multiyear leases as well.
Some of their clients have been the Avett Brothers, James Taylor, Brandi Carlile, Kenny Rogers and Old Dominion.
Oliver said that the company made a push into biodiesel several years ago, which Oliver describes as “a traditional diesel with a blend of vegetable oil in it. Our engines only allow b10 (10 percent vegetable oil) or less. Simply put, it uses less energy.”
The biodiesel performs better during warm months and during the colder months. It will leave a paraffin wax that causes problems, he said.
“We found that bio-diesel costs more and you have to change the fuel filters more often,” said Oliver. “We leave it up to artist to decide if they want to pay the premium to use bio-diesel.”
Diesel prices are a big expenditure in the cost of touring. “It’s something we watch constantly,” said Oliver.
Kevin Lyman, CEO for, runs the Warped Tour, the longest running touring festival in North America. The tour plays 38 to 43 dates from Boston to Miami to San Diego to Seattle. “Trying to go in a straight line is hard,” said Lyman.
Warped Tour just finished its latest route in August with bands including GWAR, Andy Black and Neck Deep. The tour took 16 buses and 18 trucks, and Lyman said that 15 percent of the Warped Tour budget goes to travel.
The tour has been exploring green practices for over a decade and made the switch to biodiesel in 2006, Lyman said. “The thing with biodiesel is that we had to figure out what independent distributors of biodiesel there were across the country, which was a challenge.” 
But Warped Tour made it work — until 2012 when the government took away the tax incentives for the biodiesel manufacturers. “We got hung up by highway robbery,” he said. “We had to give them (biodiesel sellers) a credit card and we had to order 5,000 gallons at a time, whether we used it or not. Then they started making us pay up to $6 a gallon for the biofuel.”
Lyman weighed the extreme costs attached to biodiesel and determined the program was financially prohibitive and ultimately unsustainable, but he didn’t want to abandon the tour’s concerns for offsetting energy use.
“We looked at the cost difference between diesel and biodiesel, and we decided the best approach was to use the difference to fund other green initiatives. It felt better than paying over-the-top prices for the biodiesel,” he said.
Using the funds, Warped Tour now gives away reusable shopping bags and encourages people to use them throughout the year. They also use sustainable corn-based forks and knives. “In the beginning, we had to carry the forks and knives on our buses, but we convinced (food provider giant) Sysco to stock them so we could get them in each market.” Warped Tour also pays for ‘eco-teams,’ which are recycling squads who collect bottles and plastics after the shows. They also built a solar stage out of a SL250 and used it on tour.
Warped Tour encourages ridesharing services and carpooling. “We did deals with Lyft and Uber and we’ve done buses with Rally Bus, where kids can go to a central point and get travel to the shows. We want to encourage getting people to the shows in a more efficient and less energy wasting way,” he said.
A graduate student did his masters on how to make Warped Tour net-zero waste and said they could do it in three years. “We only got to 60 percent,” he said. “I need to sit down and see how we can get to 100 percent.”

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Posted: 1 Sep 2017, 6:00 pm

Buying naming rights is a two-way street. The sponsor gets exposure; their name on the lips of potential users of their services, and community respect for proudly standing up for the venue that their favorite teams and shows call home. The seller gets money, a lot of it in many cases, of course. When it’s good, it’s great. But what happens when a naming rights deal goes bad because of bankruptcy or bad publicity? Venues Today spoke with top industry insiders for best practices for when your naming rights deal goes belly-up.
The Good: Air Canada Centre, Toronto, and Scotiabank just inked a historic $800 million deal for the naming rights to the venue that’s home to the Toronto Maple Leafs and Toronto Raptors. The record-breaking deal sent shockwaves through the industry and will undoubtedly shake-up the sports marketing landscape for the foreseeable future.
Reported terms of the deal will see the Canadian bank pay $40 million a year for the next 20 years to rename the building. The price tag is massive — more than 10 times what Air Canada paid for the rights nearly 20 years ago — and bigger than any naming rights deal the country has ever seen.
“The name change will become effective July 1, 2018,” said Wayne Zronik, SVP, music & live events, Air Canada Centre, Toronto. “The 20-year strategic partnership also includes new philanthropic opportunities with the MLSE Foundation and a digital collaboration between MLSE and the Scotiabank Digital Factory.”
“This is a game-changer,” said branding and marketing expert Dan Griffis, president, global partnerships, OVG. "I'm a big fan of this deal.”
Griffis put together the deals for Target Field and Target Center, both in Minneapolis, making him intimately acquainted with the buy-side of the equation.
“An entity like Scotiabank has the resources to really understand the value of this arrangement. Air Canada Centre is one of the premiere buildings in North America,” said Griffis. “The biggest piece to naming rights is civic pride and Scotiabank just purchased a whole lot of goodwill from the Canadian hockey community.”
Another perk in naming rights deals is the business-to-business aspect, said Griffis. “Hosting clients and being able to use the hospitality function of the venue can be priceless,” he said.
“What a great deal,” said Eric Smallwood, managing partner of sports marketing consultancy Apex Marketing Group. “The bank will get unlimited exposure by announcing the deal a year early; it’s almost like they will get a free year of it.”
The Bad: Sometimes, naming rights deals feel right; play-out to great effect and are supported by the fans, but unforeseen circumstances turn the deal sour. The Denver Broncos and Sports Authority was such a deal.
The sporting equipment company absorbed the naming deal for the field the Broncos played on from Invesco in 2011. The contract called for $60 million over a 20-year period. Signs were changed; the fans embraced the change, but joy through the land was interrupted when the company went out of business and filed for bankruptcy in 2015.
Matt Sugar is the director of stadium affairs for Metropolitan Football Stadium District, the owner of Sports Authority Field at Mile High, home of the Broncos.
“There were rumors about how Sports Authority was doing,” he said. “But there was no action we could take,” he said, about trying to get ahead of the bad news coming down the pike. “They paid a year in advance and their contract was still good.”
The Broncos ultimately bought the naming rights themselves and tried to quickly find a new sponsor, to no avail, said Sugar.
With no partner materializing after the first attempt (they’re currently making a second push), the team and stadium was left in a quandary: do they rip out the Sports Authority signs and rebrand as Broncos Stadium, at great expense, until a new partner emerges or sit tight?
“Signs for a football stadium can run anywhere from $1 million to $1.5 million,” said Smallwood. “Changing them to only change them again doesn’t make a whole lot of financial sense.”
The Broncos choose to keep the Sports Authority name. “It takes time for the fans to call a stadium by a new name,” said Smallwood. “The Broncos did the right thing by keeping the Sports Authority name until they finalize a new sponsor.”
Griffis agrees. “It’s not that Sports Authority did anything wrong,” he said. “Keeping the name until a new sponsor shows up is the prudent thing to do.”
The dot-com boom and bust 20 years ago provided another high-profile example of The Bad. Gillette Stadium, home of the New England Patriots, was due to be called  CMGI Field, after the tech company that paid $120 million for the naming rights for 15 years starting in 2000, a huge deal back then. But be careful about deals too good to be true — the internet firm backed out of the contract before the ink was dry.
The Ugly can be summed up in one word: Enron.
The Enron Corporation was an American energy, commodities and services company based in Houston. They acquired the naming rights to the venue the Houston Astros called home in 1999. The deal had a $100-million price tag and was supposed to stretch over 30 years.
Just two years later, the company was enveloped in one the biggest corporate-fraud scandals in American corporate history. Enron’s misdeeds rocked the business world, wrecked lives, put other businesses out of business and the name Enron conjured up images of corporations run amok and opened up the door to public mistrust of big business.
“Any company that has bad PR impacts the venue it sponsors,” said Smallwood. “Enron is the prime example. Once the depth of the deception was uncovered, Enron became a dirty word. Who would want that name on your venue?”
The Houston Astros didn’t, and the team reclaimed the naming rights for $2.1 million.
The best plan to ride out a naming rights storm is transparency, said Griffis, who experienced a PR tornado after Target got hacked and a huge data breach was uncovered. “You must let the customers — and fans who go to the venues — know you are working hard to fix the problem,” he said. “It takes consistency in messaging to regain public trust. Most importantly, actions speak louder than words.”
One of the smartest things a venue can do is get out in front of a bad situation by changing the name from Field to Park to Stadium, according to Smallwood. “One of the best moves they made in the Enron/Minute Maid switch was change it from ‘Enron Field’ to ‘Minute Maid Park,’” he said.  “It took the negativity of  ‘Field’ out of the equation and changed the vernacular even more so and quicker.”
“In Enron’s case, the company became synonymous with corporate greed and getting the name off there as quickly as possible was the wisest thing to do for the stability of the venue,” added Griffis. “If the PR is ugly and it’s a lost-cause, get that name off ASAP.”

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Posted: 1 Sep 2017, 6:00 pm

When asked about signature dishes, Savor Executive Chef Adam Crisafulli at Long Beach (Calif.) Convention & Entertainment Center goes back to his Italian roots. “Heirloom tomatoes with fresh burrata,” he stated. “It’s that simple. It’s a colorful dish that’s a fan favorite.”
It may be simple, but the combination of fresh ingredients creates vibrant flavors reminiscent of summer. Large, bright heirloom tomatoes are the base for a generous helping of creamy burrata, seasoned with salt and pepper and topped with a little balsamic vinegar and agrumato oil (extra virgin olive oil pressed with lemon rinds). The chef adds pesto Genovese to the sides of the plate—and it’s done.
“Traditional Italian cooking isn’t really like today’s cooking,” he explained. “Younger chefs touch the plate like 10 times; they use tweezers to put a piece of lettuce over here, or move this and that. That’s fine, but I’m a little more old-school—where you let the ingredients speak for themselves.”
The chef gets his burrata cheese from Italy and the heirloom tomatoes from a local farm. “There are textures: squishy, firm, salty and sweet. There’s balance. I try to hit all the senses, so that’s why it’s a signature dish of mine,” he said. “It’s also Italian, but sticks with our farm-to-table, contemporary California cuisine, and it’s chef-inspired—which is kind of our mantra.”


Savor Executive Chef Adam Crisafulli is coming up on three years at the Long Beach Convention & Entertainment Center—and doesn’t see himself going anywhere soon.
“I have become more invested in this place,” he said. “I truly want to take it to the next level. I really enjoy the friendships that I’ve forged with the people here; I truly feel like part of the family.”
The California Culinary Academy-trained chef recently introduced a new menu to the convention center, just in time for the debut of two new special event spaces within the venue. Available now, the Cove, an outdoor space that closes down the street outside of the convention center, is ideal for hosting food trucks, table tennis or a faux beach movie theater complete with sand. The other new space, The Wave, will open soon and is a pedestrian bridge that will be lit with thousands of LED lights and can host receptions, concerts and parties.
“I tried to hit everything as far as cuisine,” Crisafulli said of the new menu. “I have a Mexican buffet, a Southwestern buffet, a classic breakfast, a Hawaiian buffet, an Italian buffet, deli items and a premiere lunch buffet with higher-end options. We have a section just for vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options. Plus some really sexy desserts—I just try to bring different things to the table.”
Crisafulli is mindful of staying within the realm of farm-to-table, contemporary California cuisine, but continues to push the boundaries. “We’re trying to change a lot, and I’m very happy with the progress,” he said. “The center is truly a great place to work.”

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Posted: 1 Sep 2017, 6:00 pm

Aramark, the largest provider of National Football League (NFL) stadium food and beverage, took a brunch-themed angle on the 2017 NFL season. The providers of food and beverage at 10 NFL venues, more than any other company, mixed in all-day brunch items across the nation, along with a few completely fresh takes on everything from new in-stadium concepts to regional favorites.
In an effort to keep the lineup crisp with more than six million football fans served each year across the 10 venues, Aramark worked in the off-season to create a new lineup that followed the latest food trends and fan feedback.
“Food plays a huge role in any stadium event, and is an integral part of what makes the stadium experience come to life,” said Carl Mittleman, president of Aramark’s sports and entertainment division. “This NFL season, we elevated stadium classics by listening to our fans and introducing new menu concepts we are proud to serve on game day.”
The all-day brunchin’ theme plays into the classic tastes expected in a brunch, but with the portability of a traditional stadium meal. Some of the highlights include everything from a Donut Burger at Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, that has a fresh burger topped with a fried egg and crispy bacon on a glazed donut bun and the Arrowhead Biscuit at Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City, Mo., that piles a biscuit sandwich with a hash brown patty, Canadian bacon, a fried egg, bacon jam and cheese, all topped with mini pancakes and bacon.
But the brunch doesn’t stop there. FirstEnergy Stadium, Cleveland, features a grilled bratwurst with sausage gravy, maple hot sauce, bacon crumbles and whipped butter on a Belgian waffle; M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore, went Burger Benedict with a ground bacon burger topped with a fried egg, ham, tomato, Monterey jack cheese and hollandaise spread on a toasted English muffin.  At NRG Stadium, Houston, Aramark took a breakfast spin on a chicken biscuit by using corn flakes to crust the chicken breast that is topped with a creamy gravy; Soldier Field, Chicago, has a French toast and sausage sandwich that includes Big Fork maple bacon sausage, spiced apple compote, toasted pecans, sharp cheddar cheese and caramel-maple syrup.
Paul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati, features a crispy pork tenderloin with smoky bacon topped with yogurt sauce and baby kale on a Belgium waffle. U.S. Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, in its sophomore season, is offering a Purple Grip, a buttermilk pancake, breakfast sausage link, bacon cream gravy, crispy tater tots and minced chives. At Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia, management opted for a Frosted Flakes-crusted chicken breast topped with Cooper Sharp cheddar cheese and ghost chili honey glazed bacon on a sliced apple fritter; and Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, took a cheesesteak with sharp provolone, arugula, fried egg and roasted garlic aioli and put it on a toasted bagel.
Even with brunch served all game long, Aramark still opted to create a few other key dishes, such as the cola-braised short rib mac and cheese at Arrowhead Stadium, a brat or hot dog boiled in Leinenkugel’s new Anniversary Lager and served Chicago style at Soldier Field, a pierogi dish served three ways in Pittsburgh, fried potato skins in Kansas City and a pork belly sandwich in Philadelphia.
With all the meat moving around these stadiums, Aramark didn’t ignore new dishes on the vegan and vegetarian side. Lincoln Financial Field features a new vegan banh mi with crispy marinated tofu, while FirstEnergy Stadium went with vegan and gluten-free black bean taquitos. M&T Bank Stadium has a veggie burger and dog with mango chutney and a roasted Portobello sandwich.
Along with new dishes, Aramark spent time on original concepts. FirstEnergy Stadium will offer Jane Dough, a gourmet cookie dough provider, and Arrowhead Stadium features Zoom Food with customer-facing, self-ordering kiosks meant to improve the speed of transaction time.
M&T Bank Stadium allows for the NFL debut of Shake Shack, the popular burger joint. The new restaurant inside the stadium includes an assortment of the Shake Shack classics, including the ShackBurger, ‘Shroom Burger and Shack Stack.
Aramark also has a number of celebrity chefs, including seven James Beard Award-winning chefs, introducing new offerings at stadiums this season. Those chefs include the likes of Andrew Zimmern, Chris Shepherd, David Morton, Gavin Kaysen, Grady Spears, Jimmy Bannos Jr., Jonathon Sawyer, Marc Vetri, Michael Symon, Rocco Whalen and Ronnie Killen.



Aramark's new NFL brunch menus across the country are in the $9-$15 per serving price range, including:

Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, Fla.
All Day Brunchin’ Donut Burger $13

FirstEnergy Stadium, Cleveland
All Day Brunchin’ Breakfast Brat $11

All Day Brunchin’ French Toast & Sausage Sandwich $10

US Bank Stadium, Minneapolis
All Day Brunchin’ Purple Grip $10

Arrowhead Stadium, KANSAS City, Mo.
All Day Brunchin’ Arrowhead Biscuit $13

Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia
All Day Brunchin’ Slim Chicken $14

NRG Stadium, Houston
All Day Brunchin’ Chicken Biscuit $15

All Day Brunchin’ Steak-N-Eggs $12

M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore
All Day Brunchin’ Burger Benedict $12.50

Paul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati
All Day Brunchin’ Porkopolis Waffle $9.75

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Posted: 1 Sep 2017, 6:00 pm

The SMG-managed Florence (S.C.) Civic Center has named Brittany Butler the venue’s new events coordinator. Prior to joining the Civic Center staff, Butler had been supervising a local event planning company in the region. Also joining the team is new sales manager, Mary Hudson, who worked in the trade show and corporate meeting field and has also owned a design and product development company before taking on her new role.

Jordan Carriere is joining Madison House Inc. as an agent. Making the transition to Madison House with Carriere are his clients, including Coco Montoya, Flow Tribe, Pho, Pacific Dub, and the Supervillians. Carriere will be based out of Madison House's Boulder, Colo., offices. Carriere joins Madison House after a six-year stint at Monterey International. He graduated from Columbia College, Chicago, with a degree in arts management.

Edlen Electrical Exhibition Services has added Brittany Cordova to its team as AGM. Cordova joined Edlen in 2014 and played a key role in transitioning the new partnership with the Los Angeles Convention Center.

The AristoMedia Group has added Cheri Cranford to the company’s publicity and events division, AristoPR, as PR and special events manager. Most of her music industry career was spent at Sony Music Nashville, formerly Arista Nashville, and RCA Label Group. Most recently, Cranford worked as manager, HR, and executive assistant at Rural Media Group/RFD-TV and GM at Streamsound Records.

The Fox Theatre, Atlanta, has staffed its new Marquee Club presented by Lexus. Paul Delgado will be the club’s manager and Alfredo Rodriguez is the new executive chef. Delgado’s varied history includes time with Walt Disney World Resort’s Magic Kingdom Theme Park, Orlando, and Ruth’s Chris Steak House at both Harrah’s Casino, N.C. and Atlanta’s Centennial Park location. Rodriguez’s previous positions include Walt Disney World Resorts, Orlando, and California Center for the Arts, Escondido. Most recently, Rodriguez was the chef at Emilio and Gloria Estefan’s restaurant Oriente at Cardozo Hotel, Miami. 

Live Nation Entertainment has expanded its footprint in Brazil with the hiring of industry veteran Alexandre Faria as director and senior VP of talent buying. Faria began his career in 1994 as an independent promoter, before joining indie promoter Mercury Concerts in 1999. In 2000, Faria moved to regional live events promoter CIE Brasil, which later spun off as T4F Entretenimento S.A., where he was responsible for booking and producing concerts in Brazil and South America. For the past seven years, Faria was at Time For Fun, where he handled promotion and booking for all of TF4's South American events, working on tours such as U2, Foo Fighters and EDC, as well as the Lollapalooza Festival.

Chris Granger has been hired by Ilitch Holdings, Inc., the company behind the new Little Caesars Arena, Detroit, as group president for sports and entertainment. Granger left his position as president of the National Basketball Association's (NBA) Sacramento (Calif.) Kings in June. He was in charge of the business operations of the team and led the effort to build the Kings’ new arena, Golden 1 Center, which opened in October 2016. Prior to this, Granger had had a 14-year career as an executive in the NBA's league offices where he led the team marketing and business operations, advising NBA, Women’s National Basketball League (WNBA) and NBA Development League teams.

SAVOR…Chicago has promoted Kevin Jezewski to director of food & beverage at McCormick Place, Chicago. Jezewski has been with SAVOR…Chicago for the past six years and has nearly two decades of food & beverage industry experience.

SMG-managed Van Andel Arena, DeVos Place, and DeVos Performance Hall, Grand Rapids, Mich., has made several changes to its key staff.  Director of Event Services Todd Johnson has transitioned into a new role as director of event operations & security. Chris Anderson has been named chief engineer for Van Andel Arena and DeVos Place. The new ticketing coordinator will be Josh Zeigler. SMG’s marketing department has also welcomed new Marketing Manager Alison Goodyke and has transitioned Group Sales Manager Rebecca Chesnut into the promotions and special events manager role and Marketing Assistant Mike Klompstra has been promoted to the digital marketing coordinator role.

Mark Kaufman has been named head of the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center’s public safety department. Kaufman comes to New Orleans from AEG Facilities in Oakland, Calif., where he served as VP of operations. Prior to his tenure at AEG, Kaufman was GM, and then CEO, of the Oakland Alameda County Coliseum Authority (OACCA) and Oakland Coliseum Joint Venture (SMG). Kaufman also served as director of sales and event services with SMG at the New Orleans Superdome for ten years.

Veteran radio programmer John Mayer has joined Caroline as a regional promotion director. Prior to Caroline, Mayer worked at iHeartMedia for 10 years, most recently as the program director of WFLZ, Tampa, Fla., and previously as the program director of WRVW, Nashville,Tenn. He has also held positions at iHeartMedia as a music director, in marketing, and as on-air talent.

Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment (BSE) is making changes to its senior management team following the retirement of Chief Financial Officer Charlie Mierswa, who has been with BSE since 2005. New CFO Eu-Gene Sung is joining the company from advertising agency McCann New York, where she served as the CFO. Her finance experience spans from Interpublic Group to J.P. Morgan. Chris Magee, who currently serves as senior VP of HR will fill the newly-created role of chief administrative officer.

Hard Rock International has promoted Andrew Nasskau to the post of vice president of operations development. Before his promotion, Nasskau led the team responsible for the management, operations and pre-opening of Hard Rock Hotels throughout Europe, the Middle East, Africa and India. Nasskau joined the Hard Rock Hotels & Casinos team in 2015 as regional director of operations – EMEA, and was promoted in 2016 to area vice president of operations – EMEA.

Gabriela Ong has been appointed VP of sales at Meet Puerto Rico (MPR). Ong has 16 years of sales experience in the hospitality industry including the past three as brand sales manager, Northeast for MPR. Before joining MPR in 2014, Ong was group sales manager at the InterContinental New York Barclay. Prior to that she held the sales manager position for various hotel brands including Marriott International, Sheraton Stamford and InterContinental New York Times Square.

Gary Richards has joined LiveStyle as president of LiveStyle North America. Richards is the founder of the event and festival company HARD Events. Since 1991, Richards has been a concert promoter, DJ, record label executive and festival founder.

The Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau (PHLCVB) has hired Melissa Richter-Piraino to the role of national sales manager in the convention sales division. Prior to joining the PHLCVB, Richter-Piraino spent more than seven years with Starwood Hotels and Resorts. She served as a guest service/whatever-whenever agent at W New York City, as well as a sales coordinator at Starwood Global Sales. Most recently, she worked as a sales manager for group meetings and events at the Westin New York at Times Square, NYC.

National Shows 2 (NS2) has added veteran comedy talent buyer Lisa Roberts to its staff. Roberts got her start in the music business in the A&R department at the RCA Label Group Nashville. Roberts holds a B.S. in advertising from Kent State University, Ohio.

Christoph Schulze Dieckhoff is the new sales manager of guest events at Messe Berlin. He takes over from Christian Ortlepp, who has relocated to Düsseldorf. Prior, he was a hotel specialist with the Berlin Conference Hotel Andel’s of the Vienna House Group. Previous posts included project management at Maritim Hotels and MICE AG.

Western Specialty Contractors has appointed Chester Scott as branch manager of its Atlanta office. Chester was previously the branch manager of Western's Orlando, Fla. office. Chester started with Western in 1984 and has held the positions of field laborer, foreman, sales/project manager and department manager at Western's Chicago, Ill., office, in addition to branch manager of the Orlando, Fla., branch.

Kristine Smith has joined The Activity as executive producer. Since 1999, Smith has worked as a freelance executive producer and project lead for agencies such as Jack Morton Worldwide, among others. In 2010, Smith founded 22twelve Ltd. in New York.

Stoney's Rockin' Country has named Toad its new marketing manager/co-buyer of its Las Vegas nightclub and concert venue. Toad previously had a heavy presence on the Las Vegas local music scene through his site.

The Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre has appointed Muhammad Vickneswaran as its new HR director. Vickneswaran is a senior HR professional with over 27 years’ experience in human resources, specifically in the hospitality industry.


Harry Sandler — 73, rock photographer and tour manager, Sept. 2, after a brief fight against cancer. Sandler spent much of his career working as a tour manager for Irving Azoff. Sandler retired from tour management in 2008 and focused on his true professional love, photography. Sandler is survived by his long-time companion, AEG’s Debra Rathwell and daughter Marcella Grimaux and son Jesse Sandler, who now works as a production manager and tour director.

Jo Walker-Meador — 93, one of the pioneers of what we now know as country music, Aug. 16, after suffering a stroke. Walker-Meador was the first hire at the Country Music Association (CMA) and she led the organization from 1962-1991. Prior to her executive role, Walker-Meador worked as the office manager of the association. Walker-Meador led the charge to get the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum built and also had a hand in creating the CMA annual awards show and worked to get the show televised.

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Posted: 1 Sep 2017, 6:00 pm

Ideas and suggestions on live event safety, security and crowd management from our friends at Prevent Advisors.

With the growing sophisticated threats, make sure to secure
critical areas of your venue — IT servers, control rooms, HVAC areas. It is important to keep
these areas secure with locks and tamper-proof seals.

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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Elmer Randolph 'Randy' Pugh
Posted: 16 Oct 2014, 2:57 pm
Randy was employed with the City of Virginia Beach as the Operations Supervisor of the Pavilion Convention Center from 1980-1999.

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The Marvel Experience lets you save the world
Posted: 16 Oct 2014, 2:57 pm
The event will incorporate augmented reality, multiperson gaming, and RFID tracking for full fan immersion.

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Cookie-cutter conference centers are a thing of the past
Posted: 30 Apr 2014, 8:00 pm

Today's conference centers are more about standing out than fitting in.


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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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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 quick take on recent openings and upgrades in the world of conference centers
Posted: 24 Apr 2013, 8:00 pm


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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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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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Areas of Study
Posted: 17 Feb 2013, 7:00 pm
University meetings think outside of the classroom


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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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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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Convention Center Coming to Provo
Posted: 25 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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Las Vegas Conv. Center Adds Digital Signage Feature
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 Centers
Posted: 31 Dec 2010, 7:00 pm
With mounting competition, conference centers get flexible


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Conference Center Changes
Posted: 31 Dec 2010, 7:00 pm
Conference Center Changes


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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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Convention Centers
Posted: 28 Feb 2010, 7:00 pm

Convention center cuisine is no longer an oxymoron


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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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Convention Centers
Posted: 28 Feb 2010, 7:00 pm
Convention center cuisine is no longer an oxymoron


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Dancing with Gorillas
Posted: 31 Oct 2009, 8:00 pm
Convention center contracts put meeting planners' negotiating skills to the test


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A Class Act
Posted: 30 Apr 2009, 8:00 pm


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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


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Conference Centers
Posted: 31 Jan 2009, 7:00 pm
Conference Call


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Conference Call
Posted: 31 Dec 2008, 7:00 pm


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Center Stage
Posted: 31 Oct 2008, 8:00 pm


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Global Challenge
Posted: 31 Jul 2008, 8:00 pm


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Global Challenge
Posted: 30 Jun 2008, 8:00 pm


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Center Stage
Posted: 31 May 2008, 8:00 pm


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Head of the Class
Posted: 30 Apr 2008, 8:00 pm


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Center Stage
Posted: 31 Mar 2008, 8:00 pm


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Center Stage
Posted: 29 Feb 2008, 7:00 pm


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Raising the Bar
Posted: 31 Jan 2008, 7:00 pm


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Raising the Bar
Posted: 31 Jan 2008, 7:00 pm


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Raising the Bar
Posted: 31 Dec 2007, 7:00 pm


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