News

 
Verified Fan and Ed Sheeran Tour Success
 
Posted: 22 Mar 2017, 6:00 pm

Ed Sheeran

Ticketmaster has slowly been rolling out its bot/scalper beating Verified Fan initiative over the past six months. But when tickets for Ed Sheeran’s massive U.S. arena tour went on sale earlier this month, VF got its biggest test to date. (see related story in Venues Today March magazine).

And, to hear Haley McCollister of Messina Touring Group tell it, the results so far are pretty impressive. “We are very happy with our experience with the Verified Fan presale,” she said. “Combating the secondary market has always been really important to Ed and his team. Getting tickets into the hands of his true fans at a fair price (the price we set) has always been a top priority for him.  It's incredibly disheartening to see so many postings on the secondary market for tickets significantly higher than face value.”

Because of the rabid nature of Sheeran’s fanbase, and the sheer volume of tickets that were going on sale for the 60-date tour, both TM and MTG put a premium on making sure bots and scalpers were kept out, with McCollister noting that TM went “above and beyond" to offer support for the onsale. “The biggest advantage the program offers is the ability to prescrub your presale list,” she said. “After spending a lot of time with TM learning about the program, I feel confident we were able to get codes to the real fans.”

Verified Fan uses TM’s technology platform and considerable live event database to help fans get the best chance at tickets beginning when an artist announces a tour. That notice directs fans to a responsive registration page where they identify that they are a real person by providing information such as an email address, phone number or Ticketmaster account before selecting the shows they want to attend.

The pleasant problem McCollister pointed to was that there were so many registrations there just wasn’t enough inventory to accommodate everyone who wanted tickets. Given that shortfall, she said TM suggested MTG go a step further and offer their stock of canceled tickets to the verified fans.

“We have always scrubbed our accounts once sales are completed (for over the limit offenders and known brokers), but in the past, our only real option was to sell the inventory back to the general public — which ultimately could give those same brokers a chance to purchase them again,” she said. “This is the first time we were able to sell any canceled tickets to true fans by offering them to our existing registered Verified Fans. We were even able to exclude those who were able to secure tickets during the presale — giving fans who didn't have tickets yet a better chance at getting them.”

She said MTG canceled more than 50,000 tickets during their scrub, and by the time sales are completed — an additional 11 shows do not go on sale until Friday (March 24) — she estimated that they will have sold over 350,000 tickets to verified fans. 

“I think VF is a great option for artists like Ed,” McCollister said. “True fans shouldn't have to compete against brokers and bots. VF gives fans an opportunity to identify themselves and a chance to purchase tickets.  In our case, we were able to give them the first crack at tickets during the presale process and the first chance to purchase any tickets we canceled.”


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Pierre Boulez Hall Opens In Berlin
 
Posted: 22 Mar 2017, 6:00 pm

Pierre Boulez Hall, Berlin.

The root purpose of the Pierre Boulez Hall — a new chamber music hall in Berlin, Germany — is not just focused on music but also on humanity.

The intimate venue opened its doors this month and will act as an academy as well as a concert hall for many genres of music.

This all came to fruition years ago when the West–Eastern Divan Orchestra was created by Daniel Barenboim and the late American-Palestinian literary scholar Edward W. Said.

Through their talent and drive to make the world a better place, they developed an academic project called the Barenboim-Said Academy (BSA) aimed at bringing Arab and Israeli musicians together through music.

“Maybe these young people will be willing to listen to each other, be open and curious and talk to each other through music,” said Ole Beakhoej, director of the Pierre Boulez Hall, in an interview with Venues Today.

Their hard work, thoughtfulness and dedication helped conceive the idea for a cultural concert hall and academy that holds deep meaning to Europeans and Middle Easterners alike. 

“It was very exciting for us, having worked toward  this for quite some time. It was like giving birth, and the baby was alive and kicking,” Beakhoej said.

The 682-seat European venue hosted its grand opening the first weekend of March, in Berlin, filling the intimate hall with music, celebration and unity.

World-renowned architect Frank Gehry designed the oval-shaped concert hall, adding to a long list of Gehry-designed music venues across the world, including the 750-seat New World Center that opened in Miami in 2011.

“I see certain similarities to our hall,” said New World Center CEO and President Howard Herring. “Audiences are accustomed to so many ways to see and hear music that it’s important to be able to get beyond the traditional shoe-box shape without sacrificing acoustics.”

Los Angeles Philharmonic President and CEO Deborah Borda was in Berlin for the opening and called it a “weekend to remember.”

“It was a gathering of musical and intellectual forces coming together to honor Frank Gehry’s profound vision and also Daniel’s vision,” Borda said. “I just had dinner with Frank last night and we were talking about how special it was.”

Inclusiveness certainly was taken into account when designing spherical Pierre Boulez Hall.

The hall’s design “emerged out of close collaboration” among Barenboim, Gehry and award-winning musician Rasuhisa Toyota.

“Frank, if ever he could help with something, he was happy to do so,” Beakhoej said, adding that Gehry was so dedicated to the project that he opted to work pro bono.

It cost 33.7 million Euros to construct the academy and the concert hall that was created in a former opera storage building called the Magazin, built between 1952-55, so the structure has a historical aspect to Berlin. An atrium separates the academy from the concert hall. 

Years ago, when Barenboim and Said started the project, the mayor of Berlin gave the Magazin to them for rehearsal and academic space, Beakhoej said.

The Magazin was converted into the oval-shaped Pierre Boulez Hall that has flexible seating and a balcony. Seating can be added or subtracted depending on the concert or the mood that venue operators and musicians want with the audience.

“You can really reconfigure it radically,” Beakhoej said.

When the concert hall is configured for a chamber music setting, the first row of oval seating actually is on the stage, adding to the intimacy between the guests and the musicians.

“You’re kind of on stage, so the lighting allows the audience to see musicians and it allows musicians to see the audience. They get to know one another,” Herring said.

The venue also can be converted into an amphitheater-type setting with an audience facing a small stage on one end oval-shaped theater. The hall will host 100 concerts a year that will be set up in different configurations depending on the performance.

Beakhoej runs the venue with a staff of 12, and the tickets are sold mainly online or by telephone, as the concert hall doesn’t have a box office.

In terms of cell phone use during performances, most of the time venue officials will ask guests to turn off mobile devices.

“There is something magical about this place,” Beakhoej said. “The blue light from the screen disturbs that.”

However, Beakhoej feels that there may be times when the audience is asked to turn on their cell phones to participate in the entertainment.

The deep meaning the venue brings to unity is profound to those who created, visit and perform at the Pierre Boulez.

“It speaks to the fact of the difficulties of our human and political condition,” Borda said. “The fact that music is a way to break down walls and promote humanity is profound.”


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Wynkoop to Boardwalk Hall
 
Posted: 22 Mar 2017, 5:00 pm

Wynkoopthumb.jpgJimWynkoop

Jim Wynkoop, who had been GM of Chaifetz Arena at St. Louis (Mo.) University, has been named GM of Atlantic City’s historic Boardwalk Hall in New Jersey for Spectra Venue Management.

Wynkoop, a 20-year industry veteran, began his new role March 20. He will work at the direction of the New Jersey Casino Reinvestment Development Authority (CRDA), the state’s key economic development agency for Atlantic City, which oversees the arena through Spectra’s contract.

He replaces Fran Rodowicz, whom Spectra promoted to general manager of the Sun National Bank Center in Trenton, N.J.

As General Manager of Chaifetz Arena, Wynkoop worked in tandem with the St. Louis Sports Commission to host the 2012 USA Gymnastics P&G Championships and the 2016 Women's P&G Championships and Men's Olympic Trials, which drew more than 25,000 people each year to the venue and featured the Arena on National Television for eight total nights. In addition, through the partnership with the St. Louis Sports Commission, he and his team hosted the NCAA Division 2 Wrestling Championships in 2015, and landed the 2017 and 2018 NCAA Women's Gymnastics Championships.

He joined the team at Chaifetz Arena in 2010 after serving Spectra as the Director of Facilities at the BankUnited Center on the Campus of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla.  In his more than 14 years with Spectra, he also served in various capacities at the Whittemore Center Arena at University of New Hampshire, and as part of the opening team at University of South Carolina’s Colonial Life Arena.

He began his venue career working at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale, N.Y., serving as the Parking manager, Event Services manager, and Director of Operations.

Wynkoop, a professional member of IAVM for over 20 years, is the current Sector Director for Universities on the IAVM Board, and was previously the Chair of the Universities Programming Committee which he has served on for over eight years.  


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Hot Tickets for March 22, 2017
 
Posted: 22 Mar 2017, 3:00 pm

Green Day performs at the Ted Constant Convocation Center, Norfolk, Va.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees, Green Day, have made our Hot Tickets chart twice this week with two sold-out shows and, with ticket prices ranging from $29-$64, brought in a combined gross total of over $1.1 million. The 10,000 fans at the Infinite Energy Arena, Duluth, Ga., and the 9,000 fans at Budweiser Gardens, London, Ontario, rocked to hits from Green Day’s newly released album “Revolution Radio.” This is just the beginning of their North American and Canadian 24-date trek with Against Me! in support of their new album. The punk trio will then move onto their expanded “Revolution Radio” summer tour, which kicks off on Aug. 1, at the White River Amphitheatre in Auburn, Wash.

Due to stellar reviews and high ticket demands, another Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, Stevie Nicks, extended her “24 Karat Gold” tour adding 20 dates into 2017. The Live Nation-promoted show at the Frank Erwin Center, Austin, Texas, on March 12, landed on our chart this week with a total gross of over $1.1 million. The 10,560 fans in attendance were treated to Nick’s classic hits and fan favorites throughout her career as a member of Fleetwood Mac and as a solo artist. Along with special guests the Pretenders, Nicks can be seen next March 23 at the Jacksonville Arena, Fla.

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 Feb. 21-March 21.

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: $2,923,026; Venue: Madison Square Garden, New York; Attendance: 26,635; Ticket Range: $193.95-$53.95; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Feb. 23-24; No. of Shows: 2

2) Red Hot Chili Peppers
Gross Sales: $1,273,634; Venue: Oracle Arena, Oakland, Calif.; Attendance: 13,766; Ticket Range: $99-$49; Promoter: AEG Presents; Dates: March 12; No. of Shows: 1

3) Red Hot Chili Peppers
Gross Sales: $1,158,294; Venue: Rose Quarter, Portland, Ore.; Attendance: 13,446; Ticket Range: $99-$49; Promoter: Frank Productions, AEG Presents; Dates: March 15; No. of Shows: 1

4) Eric Church
Gross Sales: $1,126,710; Venue: Tacoma (Wash.) Dome; Attendance: 19,030; Ticket Range: $89-$23; Promoter: Messina Touring Group, AEG Presents; Dates: March 18; No. of Shows: 1

5) Stevie Nicks
Gross Sales: $1,121,091; Venue: Frank Erwin Center, Austin, Texas; Attendance: 10,560; Ticket Range: $150-$49; Promoter: In-house, Live Nation; Dates: March 12; No. of Shows: 1

1) Eric Church
Gross Sales: $701,672; Venue: Spokane (Wash.) Veterans Memorial Arena; Attendance: 11,415; Ticket Range: $89-$27; Promoter: Messina Touring Group, AEG Presents; Dates: March 17; No. of Shows: 1

2) Green Day
Gross Sales: $601,242; Venue: Infinite Energy Arena, Duluth, Ga.; Attendance: 10,336; Ticket Range: $59.50-$49.50; Promoter: NS2; Dates: March 10; No. of Shows: 1

3) Blake Shelton
Gross Sales: $556,835; Venue: Spokane (Wash.) Veterans Memorial Arena; Attendance: 9,629; Ticket Range: $72.50-$32.50; Promoter: Messina Touring Group, AEG Live; Dates: Feb. 24; No. of Shows: 1

4) Green Day
Gross Sales: $552,632; Venue: Budweiser Gardens, London, Ontario; Attendance: 9,189; Ticket Range: $64.07-$29.60; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: March 19; No. of Shows: 1

5) Eric Church
Gross Sales: $530,834; Venue: SaskTel Centre, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan; Attendance: 11,436; Ticket Range: $66.01-$20.02; Promoter: Messina Touring Group, AEG Live; Dates: March 9; No. of Shows: 1

1) Florida Georgia Line
Gross Sales: $1,225,986; Venue: Mohegan Sun Arena, Uncasville, Conn.; Attendance: 14,020; Ticket Range: $111-$59; Promoter: WME , In-house; Dates: March 10-11; No. of Shows: 2

2) Don Henley
Gross Sales: $745,403; Venue: ICC Sydney Theatre; Attendance: 6,794; Ticket Range: $138.19-$95.02; Promoter: Frontier Touring ; Dates: March 10; No. of Shows: 1

3) Il Volo
Gross Sales: $591,671; Venue: Radio City Music Hall, New York; Attendance: 5,921; Ticket Range: $169.50-$47; Promoter: Live Nation, MSG Live; Dates: March 4; No. of Shows: 1

4) Sting
Gross Sales: $536,878; Venue: Mohegan Sun Arena, Uncasville, Conn.; Attendance: 7,348; Ticket Range: $84-$54; Promoter: CAA, In-house; Dates: March 9; No. of Shows: 1

5) Okean Elzy
Gross Sales: $487,057; Venue: The Theater at Madison Square Garden, New York; Attendance: 5,528; Ticket Range: $326.30-$56.30; Promoter: Bugz Entertainment; Dates: March 4; No. of Shows: 1

1) John Fogerty
Gross Sales: $1,637,933; Venue: Encore Theater at Wynn, Las Vegas; Attendance: 13,341; Ticket Range: $250-$59.50; Promoter: AEG Presents, In-house; Dates: March 3-11; No. of Shows: 5

2) Matilda the Musical
Gross Sales: $1,186,735; Venue: The Smith Center for the Performing Arts, Las Vegas; Attendance: 14,941; Ticket Range: $123-$25; Promoter: In-house; Dates: March 14-19; No. of Shows: 8

3) Jersey Boys
Gross Sales: $1,039,320; Venue: Orpheum Theater, Omaha, Neb.; Attendance: 14,390; Ticket Range: $140-$35; Promoter: Omaha Performing Arts Presents; Dates: March 7-12; No. of Shows: 8

4) Shen Yun
Gross Sales: $713,169; Venue: Boch Center, Boston; Attendance: 6,260; Ticket Range: $181.25-$66.25; Promoter: Falun Dafa Association ; Dates: March 3-5; No. of Shows: 4

5) Shen Yun
Gross Sales: $617,900; Venue: The Smith Center for the Performing Arts, Las Vegas; Attendance: 5,800; Ticket Range: $200-$70; Promoter: In-house; Dates: March 10-12; No. of Shows: 4

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

 


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Dallas Ready For Women’s Final Four
 
Posted: 22 Mar 2017, 2:05 pm

Women's Final Four banner at American Airlines Center, Dallas.

A National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) basketball Final Four is a Final Four, regardless of if hosting men or women. “I don’t even think about it in terms of men versus women,” said Dave Brown, chief operating officer and general manager of American Airlines Center, Dallas, host of the March 31-April 2 Women’s Final Four. “I know it is different, but in a lot of respects, it is a lot the same. I think about it in terms of the Final Four.”

And Brown isn’t far off, as the NCAA expects more than 50,000 visitors to flock to downtown Dallas for the three-game, three-day event where American Airlines Center is expected to host over 19,000 fans.

“We are a big venue in a big market and have a great platform from which to tell the women’s championship story,” Brown said.

But it almost didn’t happen.

Brown said the center first bid on the Final Four six years ago and were “pretty shocked” when it didn’t come through. At that point, Brown and the supporters of the bid regrouped and bolstered its women’s sports resume by bringing in early-round women’s tournament games in 2011 and 2013 and the Big 12 Conference helped enhance the center’s resume by moving the women’s basketball championship to the venue in 2013 and 2015.

Three years ago, American Airlines Center bid again. “We showed them our sincerity in terms of how much we wanted the Women’s Final Four,” he said. And the NCAA responded with the 2017 tournament.

With the tournament in hand, it was time to get to work in preparing to host the event, which included monthly two-day meetings with the NCAA to go over everything from operational aspects, ticket sales, security, setup of the building and all the associated events, such as the Tourney Town festival that sets up outside the center in one of the parking lots. That event includes basketball interactive experiences, live entertainment and merchandise. “There is a lot more to it than the game itself,” Brown said.

From creating a fresh security protocol because the event is classified as a “high-profile” event, to preselling tickets, three years of work will wrap up in one final weekend. Brown said the city—and North Texas as an entity—has embraced the championship, with a virtual sellout of the event without even knowing the teams involved.

As the championship weekend draws near, the physical work ramps up, from setting up Tourney Town to covering in-venue sponsors that don’t match the NCAA. “The NCAA requires a blackout and our sponsors understand that,” Brown said.

But beyond that, don’t expect a dramatic conversion for a building that serves as the home venue for the National Basketball Association’s Dallas Mavericks. Some courtside seats will change into media and NCAA official seating, and the Mavs’ practice court—located inside the center—will morph into the media center, but most changes remain cosmetic. The food and beverage offerings will look slightly different, with the elimination of beer in the concourse and new hospitality suites and school-specific spaces offering differing menus based on the regional cuisine of the schools participating. Brown said he does expect to “trick it up a little” in terms of concessions to give spectators a little home cooking, a plan they’ll figure out as the four teams qualify.

Plenty of additional work comes along with hosting a Final Four, but for American Airlines Center, the work will pay off in the long run. “Do we hope it positions us for future competitions? Absolutely,” Brown said. “I think we would be very disappointed if we didn’t (host more tournament games). It is a ton of work and commitment, and we are not doing it to be one and done.”

Along with the potential to host future NCAA basketball, whether early-round men’s or women’s, regional rounds or another Women’s Final Four (the Men’s Final Four is staged in stadiums), Brown said the area loves basketball and Dallas craves the opportunity to host it whenever possible.

Plus, hosting a Women’s Final Four offers “terrific exposure for us, shows our commitment to the NCAA and is a lot of fun, frankly.”

“It is complex and time-consuming,” he said, “but it is very rewarding. I don’t think we could be any more ready than we are right now. Our staff, from top to bottom, is excited to have this opportunity. This is our first, and it is fun to work on something different. It is something you don’t get to do very often.” After all, Brown is talking about hosting a Final Four. And he doesn’t care if it is men’s or women’s.


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British Venues Poised To Dodge Tax Hike
 
Posted: 22 Mar 2017, 2:00 pm

British pop star Olly Murs rehearsing his "Wrapped Up" video.

The UK has lost an increasing number of its live music venues over the past decade, and a proposed massive tax hike tied to a major overhaul of commercial property rates was threatening to be the final nail in the coffin for many venues. The proposed increase — which could have ranged up to 55% — had many venue owners biting their nails, but at press time it seemed as if the worst might not come to pass.

“It appears that the government has stepped back a bit [from the increase],” University of Edinburgh Professor Martin Cloonan told Venues Today. “There have been a lot of small venues closing across the UK. A report said London had lost around [54 percent] of its [grassroots] venues over the past 10 years. Like a lot of small businesses, anything the business of actually running the venue is going to be problematic,” he said.

In light of the hits venues have taken, and in an attempt to assess the health of the live music scene in the UK, the University of Edinburgh began the first-ever live music census on March 9. The project’s lead investigator, Matt Brennan, said in a statement announcing the census that grassroots clubs and theaters could be the most vulnerable if the tax rise passes in any form.

“Venues around the country have been telling us that they already operate on thin margins, so proposed increases in rateable values of up to 55% in some cases, will have a significant impact,” he said. “The UK Live Music Census will be very important in identifying challenges that the industry faces, such as rising rates and other issues. It will give us a detailed picture of what exactly it means to be a venue owner, a musician, and a live music lover in 2017. Our hope is that the Census will be a vital tool in strengthening a much-loved part of the UK’s culture.”

The census is being led by the Universities of Edinburgh, Newcastle and Glasgow and a nationwide survey for musicians, venues, promoters and audiences will be open until May 8 at the website: www.uklivemusiccensus.org. On the first night of the 24-hour tally, census takers were slated to visit performances across the country encompassing everything from street buskers to choirs, dance clubs and stadium gigs in Glasgow, Newcastle, Oxford, Leeds, Southampton and Brighton, including shows by Olly Murs at Leeds Arena, Nicola Benedetti at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, R&B in Oxford, and jazz in Newcastle.

The survey is intended to quantify the national challenges facing the music industry and assemble policy to help it remain viable. The survey effort predates the budget scare — which officially died on Wednesday (March 15) when Chancellor Philip Hammond announced that the government would not proceed with the proposed increases in the National Insurance rates for self-employed people — and it was originally conceived as a bulwark against any future proposed rise in the business rates, according to Cloonan. “We were just trying to get the fullest picture we can get given the resources we have. Venues are under all sorts of pressures, particularly within the inner city areas,” he said.
(Source material for news on tax increases failing — http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-39278968)

Martin Ingham, chief executive of the National Ice Centre & Motorpoint Arena Nottingham and Chairman of the 21-member National Arenas Association said that his group has been engaging consultants in business rating valuations for months trying to assess the new valuations and their impact, as well as lobbying against the increases, which his members believe would disproportionately damage the arenas.

“The idea that the rates revaluations would be a geographic redistribution to reflect changing property values across the UK is not borne out in our members’ experiences and nearly every arena is seeing significant increases, of up to 45% in many cases, despite the transitional relief offered in the first year,” he said. The NAA, a member of the UK Live Music Group, sent a letter to Phillip Hammond, Chancellor of the Exchequer, seeking assurances that large increases were to be mitigated. He added that the Music Venues Trust, representing grassroots music venues, also wrote to Ministers drawing attention to the “real risk that massive percentage increases in property taxes could drive small venues out of business.”

In the end, he said, the Chancellor’s budget “offered pubs and smaller businesses a potential one-off transitional relief which will have no benefit to the Arenas and will only delay the inevitable pain for some of the smaller venues.” While he declined to comment on how the proposals might impact major venues like NAA member, London’s O2, he would only say it was aware that the increases could be “significant,” and that many arenas face potentially six-figure tax rate jumps, significant even with potential transitional relief in year 1, followed by the full impact of a similar amount from year 2 onwards. “It is a very big deal indeed because there is no way that these levels of costs are going to be wholly borne by any other players within the industry, so ultimately, the costs will have to be passed through to the consumer,” he said.

RZO co-founder and music business veteran Bill Zysblat said he could only speak for artists, but for his client, any tax increase is unwelcome, especially a potentially drastic 50-plus percent one. For a U.S. artist, depending on the rate, they will get a dollar-for-dollar credit in the U.S. against taxes paid overseas,” he said of the potential effect of the proposed rate hike. “It’s rare to route a tour around the tax rates in any country, but it may affect the concentration of dates you have in any single country. Venues generally compete with other venues in their territory, so if all of them are subject to the same tax, it might not be a blow to the venues within a particular territory.”

Zysblat said, tax or no tax, if an act is doing a 100-city tour, the need to play every major market might mitigate any potential increase. “Volatility is a fact of life,” he said. “Changing currency rates is a much greater danger. Tax rates are usually only changed annually at most and occasionally actually go down. It should be a factor, but generally not when booking.”


 


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New SunTrust Park Bring Urban to Suburbs
 
Posted: 22 Mar 2017, 1:00 pm

Rendering of SunTrust Park, Atlanta.

When you choose to remove yourself from the urban environment in an era where every venue craves that location, your only option comes to re-creating that atmosphere. As the Atlanta Braves depart downtown Turner Field—originally built for the 1996 Summer Olympics and then converted into a baseball venue—and flee to the suburbs of Cobb County, the MLB team reverses the trend of urban design, but still called upon venue designers from Populous to re-create the urban experience.

As the Braves ready the official opening of $672-million SunTrust Park, Atlanta, for the start of the season April 14, ballpark designer Joe Spear of Populous said Atlanta has created a 68-acre development that has every ingredient of ballpark housing, retail food and beverage, office and hotel. “I think it is going to be a pretty rich experience for the fans, and that should be a positive thing,” he said.

Sure, SunTrust Park still sets roughly 12 miles outside of downtown, which may prove a hurdle down the line, but Spear worked with the land he was given, a blank sheet of paper, which he said actually made some decisions trickier. “It may be counterintuitive, but a blank sheet of paper gives you any option you want to consider,” he said about needing to figure out the best lay of the venue land. “Here, a lot of (the pedestrian flow and fan behavior) needed time to digest and evolve. It is kind of the blank sheet of paper syndrome.”

The extra-venue action at SunTrust will come with the new The Battery Atlanta development, including a generous plaza the Braves have developed beyond the right field foul pole. Framed on the ballpark side by the park itself, a retail store, team offices, the Xfinity lounge and one of only two brewpubs in a MLB venue. The Omni Hotel—scheduled for a 2018 opening—frames the other end of the plaza. In between, expect open space with access to food and beverage and ample room for  pre- and post-game concerts and events. “That has evolved in the process to be what I think will be pretty dynamic and active year-round,” he said.

To try to create a more urban feel to the venue, ticket holders to SunTrust Park can leave the venue, enter the plaza and return to the park later.

With the ballpark oriented for a distant view of the Atlanta skyline, the Braves partnered with a mix of local developers to build around the stadium with mixed-use developments to fill The Battery. “We worked with the other designers and came up with a variety of plans,” Spear said. “Our input was the ballpark should be positioned here for prime opportunity to create this plaza and give all fans a different experience than they could get anywhere in Major League Baseball. The Braves always wanted this entire development known and recognizable as a baseball development, a Braves development; that is why they chose the name The Battery.”

unspecified4.jpgRendering of SunTrust Park, Atlanta, Ga.

With a concerted effort to build an urban-style environment in a nonurban environment, inside the venue Spear set a focus on fan comfort, first dealing with heat. SunTrust features the largest canopy in MLB with a structural metal deck—cheaper than spending millions of dollars on a retractable roof—in a light silver to reflect sunlight, shade fans and serve as a sculptural element of the design. The canopy also allows LED lights to shine up on it in multiple colors and sequences for a high-tech celebration component the Braves plan to unveil soon. “The idea is that we have spent a good deal of time coming up with this canopy, and we want to make it a secondary presence in the game,” Spear said.

With the canopy dropping temperatures for those in the concrete-backed seating bowl, the concourses features fans for Big-Ass Fans to circulate air. Mesh-backed seats and air-conditioned restaurants and attractions help increase comfort.

With a variety of areas, Spear expects fans will want to explore—along with the Terrapin Taproom operated by Delaware North that serves beers from the Athens-based brewer now owned by MillerCoors and adjacent ATL Brew Lab, expect a sausage house, zipline for children in a zone designed for them with a climbing wall and batting cages, Atlanta’s three-story Chophouse and a monument garden on the concourse behind home plate—Populous designed wider seats, wider rows and more aisles than traditional parks to make it easy to relax or get up and explore.

“You don’t want to be 12 seats away from the aisle and have to crawl over people,” he said. “It is promoting the idea of going and exploring.”

Fans can hop on the largest WiFi capable system in MLB while venturing around, whether checking out the Hank Aaron sculpture in monument garden or dropping to the bottom level of the Chop House for a view of the field through the outfield fence.

Atlanta designed a nonurban location to mimic urban development, hoping that the exploration available inside SunTrust Park spills to The Battery, created specifically to enhance the baseball experience and entice fans to continually return and explore.


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Billy Joel Adds 44th Show At The Garden
 
Posted: 22 Mar 2017, 12:00 pm

Billy Joel performing at Madison Square Garden, New York

Billy Joel’s remarkable run as a “franchise” artist at New York’s Madison Square Garden charges onward through the summer of 2017, with the 44th show in the series to be announced Thursday, March 21.

Tickets for the Aug. 21 performance go on sale March 31, with the Citi Private Pass presale set for three days earlier. Tickets will undoubtedly go quickly, as the unprecedented run has already moved more than 830,000 tickets and rung up approximately $91 million in ticket sales through the July—43rd—show. As Joel barnstorms through stadiums for the fourth consecutive summer, the Garden shows feel almost intimate as demand continues unabated for what amounts to live music history in the making.

Promoted by AEG Live, Joel’s perpetually sold-out booking at the Garden, a first-of-its-kind deal which saw the “franchise” tag bestowed upon the artist when the series launched in 2014, is showing no signs of losing steam. The same can be said for the overall touring career of Joel, who turns 68 May 9.  The Piano Man first became a national touring act in the mid-1970s, enjoyed his biggest hit-making run in the decade that followed, and hasn’t released an album of new pop-rock material since 1993’s Book Of Dreams. Like his Rock & Roll Hall of Fame contemporaries in Bruce Springsteen, Bob Seger, the Eagles, Fleetwood Mac, and a handful of others, the heavy lifting done on the road and in the studio decades ago, now pays big dividends as fans willingly pony up for what’s perceived as a rare risk-free investment of discretionary income. “Billy’s performances and catalog of songs continue to resonate,” says Dennis Arfa, CEO of Artist Group International and Joel’s agent since 1975. “A lot of times the stadiums become like a karaoke session.”

Thus, Joel remains one of the most consistently strong touring acts on the road, with demand to see him outpacing the number of dates the artist wishes to play, typically no more than “two or three a month,” Arfa says. “We have limited availability, so these dates are handpicked. When you’re playing at this level, sometimes opportunities come, and a lot of times you direct your opportunities.” Sometimes that opportunity might be a major festival play, as Joel headlined Bonnaroo in 2015, or a special arena engagement like opening the new Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, N.Y., on April 5. But most often, stadiums are getting the nod from Joel these days.  “Right now, in our perception, the jewel of the game is to sell out on the stadium level,” says Arfa.

“We continue to identify and play some of the iconic stadiums in North America. It has become an annual thing, and demand is great in all of these cities.”

In addition to Uniondale and the monthly Garden gigs, Joel will play nine sold-out stadium shows this summer, beginning with opening the new SunTrust Park in Atlanta on April 28. Other stops include Joel’s first date at Dodger Stadium (May 13); joining Kenny Chesney as the only two artists to play concerts at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wis. (June 17); Joel’s first-ever headlining stadium plays in Cleveland (Progressive Field, July 14), Minneapolis (Target Field, July 28) and St. Louis (Busch Stadium, Sept. 21); and four consecutive years playing Wrigley Field in Chicago (Aug. 11), Fenway Park in Boston (Aug. 30), and Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia (Sept. 9). All are promoted by Live Nation. Amex handles Joel’s presales outside of the Garden.

Arfa says Joel’s stadium audience skews somewhat younger than his arena crowd, describing the ballpark demo as, “40-plus with a beer.”

Meanwhile, as the $100-million gross and 1 million in attendance milestones become almost an inevitability, Joel's open-ended Madison Square Garden "franchise" run can already stake its claim as the biggest arena engagement of all time.


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Venues And Ticket Firms Have To Fight BOTS
 
Posted: 22 Mar 2017, 11:00 am

(Courtesy of Distil Networks.)

Venues are sending out press releases heralding the Better Online Ticket Sales (BOTS) Act of 2016, which carries heavy federal fines for those who circumvent security precautions on ticketing platforms with robots that snag the best and multiple tickets online in front of the general public. The most active promoters of awareness are the performing arts centers, which have just put Hamilton on sale.

“That’s my biggest recommendation, exactly that,” said Rami Essaid, CEO Distil Networks, whose company was founded six years ago to actively combat robots used by ticket brokers in this way. “Venues and artists need to continue to talk about this and say it’s a big issue.”

Essaid and Niels Sodemann, CEO of Queue-ithosted a webinar on the topic in February, attended by 200 venue and ticketing professionals. The meat of the topic, which was also discussed at INTIX this year, will be covered in the April issue of Venues Today.

Most venues aren’t hosting the application doing these transactions, the ticketing firm is, Essaid noted. But venues are seeing contracts from acts and shows that have bot mitigation written into the deal. On the outgo, venues are including the requirement for such technology in RFPs from ticketing firms.

“If the artists and venues start clamoring about it, we will see those ticketbrokers and technology platforms take it more seriously,” Essaid said of the new federal law, which has yet to be tested.

When it is actually enforced, and Essaid predicts some high profile cases soon, the venues and ticketing companies will have to be able to produce evidence and documentation for the Federal Trade Commission. They have to show there is technology in place to prevent robots from buying tickets and must produce the data that shows a robot did indeed attack that system.

“At the end of the day, this is an arms race,” Essaid said. “You don’t build it once and forget about it, because the technology of the bots keeps advancing and there’s enough money in this that it’s worth investing in.” New York State sued a ticketbroker last year under a state statute, in which evidence produced showed the ticket broker made a $50-million profit.

Because the ticket brokers will continue to evolve the technology, the industry has to do the same, and that’s minute by minute and hour by hour, he said. Static rules that don’t change will not be effective because bots keep trying different things until they get in.

The BOTS Act doesn’t really address how offenders will be caught. It’s more about punishment. The FTC is going to fine people, Essaid continued. The FTC is not a technology company. “They are going to have to audit the logs of sales and figure out some way to correlate that this person used a bot, circumvented anti-bot technology and bought these tickets. The FTC will have to subpoena the venues and ticket platforms; they will go on fishing expeditions for all intents and purposes. But at least the act set a standard for what the data should look like so everyone is talking the same language.”

According to the act, the venue doesn’t turn culprits in; the FTC initiates the case, though Essaid supposed a venue or ticketing platform could file a complaint.

Mostly, though, venues should be demanding from technology platforms that they have anti-bots technology in place so the FTC can prosecute offenders for circumventing it.

“But that will not solve the problem 100 percent,” Essaid cautioned. “It will come down to artists and venues continuing to talk about this.”

The most effective anti-bots action will be getting out ahead of legislation and solving the problem as an industry, in Essaid’s opinion.

Essaid estimated there are about a dozen companies today that specialize in anti-bot technology, adding that “the problem will never go away. It’s wide open green fields.” There are even instructions online for amateurs to learn to develop robots, some for as little as $1,000.

“When somebody uses a BOT, a computer program, to unfairly buy a ticket when you have a queue that opens up, a bot can go in in one millisecond,” he said. “A real person can’t do that.” Identifying that bot is the key.

Several states have passed or are considering legislation that allows for the resale of tickets, taking a free marketplace stance on the secondary market. Those same legislators indicate the BOTS Act protects the consumer who simply wants to resell a ticket or two he can’t use himself while identifying the buyer who uses a robot to buy tickets.

That is what the law comes down to, making it illegal to circumvent ticket websites that have technology in place to block bots.

The problem is global, and both the UK and Canada are working on or have laws in place to circumvent scalpers, Essaid said. And this is not the first time someone has tried to use a law to address the issue.

“You are going to start seeing artists and teams demand you have some sort of mechanism to block bots,” Essaid said.

And then? “Just as you saw in New York, where the bad guys moved out of state, we will see this industry move abroad,” he said. “You have to take a multifaceted approach. The Internet lives in a global age; it’s the same BOT, the same scalping mechanism, wherever you are. Laws can make examples of people, but we have to work together to address this more aggressively.”


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Sporting KC reduces concessions prices 17-24%
 
Posted: 22 Mar 2017, 3:00 am

Children's Mercy Park, Kansas City, Kan. (Photo Credit:Nate Saathoff)

In partnership with Legends Hospitality, Sporting Kansas City has announced price decreases for a variety of food and beverage items at Children’s Mercy Park ahead of the 2017 Major League Soccer season.

Sporting KC and Legends Hospitality, the food and beverage operator at Children’s Mercy Park, have lowered prices on bottled water, soda and beer by an average of 20 percent from 2016.

“We’ve looked through our feedback, and all areas of the business, including fan experience and atmosphere, and engagement at the park has been the key driver for this initiative,” said Jake Reid, president of Sporting KC. “Much of the feedback we received was about the expensive pricing, particularly around our beverages.”

Margaritas, double cocktails and menu items, such as hot dogs, bratwursts, chips and grilled cheese sandwiches, will also be available at lower costs. New pricing for menu items will be in effect for the entire 2017 season.

At press time, only one game with the reduced concession prices had been held, but the immediate feedback has been positive.

Sporting KC worked with Legends and its data and analytics team, which resulted in a 17 to 24 percent price reduction across the board, or about 20 percent on average, for food and beverages.

“We anticipate losing some revenue, but expect an increase in volume,” said Reid. “We don’t have plans to make up for any shortfall at this time. We’re betting on the future rather than the money we’re giving up now.”

A small number of venues have experimented with food and beverage price reductions over the years, mainly during the recession of 2008. This included Texas’ Petco Park, which had a couple lower-priced concession stands during this period.

“Everyone talks about the high cost of going to an event, but food and beverage is a small piece of the puzzle when compared to ticket and parking prices,” said Chris Bigelow, president of The Bigelow Cos. Inc., Naples, Fla., consultants to the sports, entertainment and convention markets.

Experts question whether lowering one item or a group of items will get more customers into a venue.

“We haven’t seen any data that suggests people buy more when prices are lower,” said Bigelow. “If concessionaires start seeing that, and see overall gross sales rise, then we’ll see [price decreases] more often.”

Mercedes Benz Stadium in Atlanta also recently announced “street pricing” in an attempt to make its food and beverages more affordable.

This includes soft drinks, bottled water, hot dogs, pretzels and popcorn for $2 and pizza slices, nachos, waffle fries and bags of peanuts for $3. A 12-ounce cup of domestic beer is priced at $5.
“It’s easier for NFL [National Football League] teams to reduce prices than others that rely on the revenue,” said Bigelow.

Reid said at some point the prices will be re-evaluated.

“There is a tipping point where it doesn’t make sense, but we felt like leveling out was the right move for us right now,” he said.


Children's Mercy Park Food and Beverage Price Decreases

ITEM 2016 2017 Decrease
16-oz. Boulevard cans  $8.50 $7 -$1.50
16-oz. Boulevard drafts   $8.50 $7 -$1.50
24-oz. Boulevard drafts  $10 $8.50 -$1.50
25-oz. Boulevard Growlers $13 $10 -$3
16-oz. Anheuser-Busch premium drafts $9  $7 -$2
24-oz. Anheuser-Busch drafts  $10 $8 -$2
25-oz. Anheuser-Busch cans   $10 $8 -$2
Bottled soda  $5.50 $4.50 -$1
20-oz. Dasani water  $5 $4 -$1
1 L SmartWater  $6.50 $5.50 -$1
12-oz. double cocktails   $15 $14.50 -$0.50
Margaritas  $8.50  $7 -$1.50
Hot dogs   $5.50 $5.25 -$0.25
Bratwursts  $6 $5.50 -$0.50
Chips  $3 $2.50 -$0.50
Traditional grilled cheese   $8 $7 -$1
Bacon grilled cheese    $10 $9 -$1
       

 


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Janese, Guirguis, Majors and Ward Join UTA
 
Posted: 15 Mar 2017, 8:00 pm

Greg_Janese_2_copy1.jpgGreg Janese

Greg Janese has joined UTA as head of corporate and special events. Janese comes to UTA from Paradigm, where he was employed for 12 years and headed the corporate and special event division. Prior to joining Paradigm, Janese was president of TBA Entertainment Corporation. He joined TBA after selling Avalon Entertainment Group, a company he co-founded, to the entertainment group. Janese will be based out of Nashville.

"A friend of mine asked if I would be interested in having a conversation with Jeremy Zimmer," said Janese about his new role at UTA. "I was not looking to make a move, but I was very interested in finding out more about UTA. I have long thought the agency business was changing, but I just couldn’t put a definition to how. One conversation with Jeremy, and understanding his vision, gave me great perspective and I wanted to dive in."

Janese said he and UTA are a good fit. "UTA was looking for someone who could build out the corporate and special event department and help take it to the next level," he said. "With my longtime experience in the space it was honestly a perfect fit, and the entrepreneurial vibe of UTA was very appealing."

"The number one goal is to aggressively sell our roster to the corporate event market," he said. "We have many great artists that are perfect for these kind of shows, and I can't wait to help elevate and grow the division."

Mike_G_UTA_169.jpg

Mike Guirguis

Mike Guirguis is joining UTA, where he will focus on creating new opportunities for artists, including establishing new partnerships across all areas of entertainment and building new businesses around clients. Most recently, Guirguis was the founder of NiteVision Management where he managed artists Chris Brown, Teyana,Taylor, DJ Sourmilk and Dave Aude among others. Guirguis also was a member of the management team for R&B artist Akon. Prior to NiteVision, Guirguis was a senior radio executive at Emmis Communications. He began his career as an executive at iHeartRadio KOST 103.5 FM. Guirguis will be based in Beverly Hills, Calif.

Bex_Majors_UTA_6518-1.jpgBex Majors 

UK agent Bex Majors has joined UTA’s international booking department. Majors began her music industry career as a promoter in Cardiff, Wales. She then went on to become the in-house promoter at Cardiff Barfly, followed by a stint as booking agent at UK dance music promoter Helter Skelter in 2005. In 2006, she joined CAA. Majors will be based out of the agency’s Beverly Hills, Calif., office.

 

Billy_Wood.jpg

Billy Wood

UK music agent Billy Wood has joined UTA and will book international dates from UTA’s London office. Wood began his talent agent career in 2007 at Create Music.  He moved on to Mission Control Artist Agency in 2009. In 2010, Wood joined William Morris Endeavor (WME)

 

 

 

 

 

 


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PPG Arena Sees The Light
 
Posted: 15 Mar 2017, 8:00 pm

Newly installed signage lights up PPG Arena, Pittsburgh.

The visual communication piece of the Pittsburgh Penguins’ new naming rights deal at PPG Paints Arena, Pittsburgh, is nearly complete with two of four new signs installed on the venue recently.

Last fall, the Penguins signed a 20-year naming rights agreement with PPG Paints for an undisclosed amount of money, offering a prime opportunity for Baltimore, Md.-based Gable — a provider of digital displays; audiovisual and media; signs and architectural elements and lighting solutions — to step in for a piece of the action.

“We started with them back in August or September when they had engaged with us to remove the existing Consol Energy sign,” said Matt Gable, executive vice president and COO of Gable. “They informed us who the new naming rights sponsor was going to be.”

PPG Paints has 15 stores in the Pittsburgh area and approached the Penguins about taking over the naming rights in the arena. Consol Energy agreed to step aside and let PPG Paints in.

“It’s kind of been a whirlwind, but it was an exciting time for us,” said Ross Miller, senior director of partnership marketing for the Penguins. “I think (PPG Paints) has really enjoyed the attention that partnership has provided them.”

The four signs, including labor and design, rings in at about a half a million dollars, Gable said.

The main sign on the front of the arena has been installed and it boasts RGB lighting modules that allow venue officials to change its colors. The front entrance at the arena is glass.

“One of the challenges we faced is the glass is dark during the day,” Miller said.

Therefore, having lighting that can stand out during the day and night was important to the franchise. Not only that, arena officials can change the color for holidays and such.

“We can turn it red, white and blue on the Fourth of July,” Miller said.

Gable had to go through a bidding process in order to create the PPG Paints sign, he said.

“We were awarded the project, and we’re really excited about it. We have a lot of signs that we’ve done for convention centers and other venues,” Gable said.

Essentially, when a new venue is built or naming right deals change, Gable sees business opportunities for his company that is currently in its 37 year of operation.

Much has changed since Gable opened its doors nearly four decades ago. It used to be that the company focused mainly on making signs, but as technology evolved, the enterprise now focuses mainly on LED lighting.

Converting to LED lights and signs typically saves companies between 85 to 90 percent on their electricity costs, Gable said.

“For the first 30 years, we were a traditional sign company,” Gable said, adding that now the company’s focus is based on “visual communications.”

“We (also) do white lights where we upgrade existing facility lighting, which results in substantial savings with LED,” Gable said.

Gable also has done lighting at the M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore., and the LED signage at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in DC.

The company also designed the massive LED screens at the Cobo Center in Detroit.

“We did the very large 30-ft.-by-160-ft. display on the front of the convention center that has completely transformed that building into a technology masterpiece,” Gable said.

For the PPG Paints Arena, each letter ranges in size from six feet to 10 feet high, he noted.

“Two signs are completely installed,” Gable said. “We’re waiting on some of the (Penguins) contractors to finish work before we install the other two."
 


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Irvine, Calif.'s Interim Amphitheater Approved
 
Posted: 15 Mar 2017, 7:00 pm

Members of the Save Live Music Irvine movement stand in front of a wall of signatures urging Irvine (Calif.) City Council to approve plans for an interim amphitheater.

The Irvine (Calif.) City Council unanimously approved the application put forth by FivePoint Holdings and Live Nation Entertainment to build a 12,000-seat interim outdoor amphitheater adjacent to Orange County Great Park in Irvine to replace the 35-year-old Irvine Meadows Amphitheatre, which closed last fall.

Live Nation Entertainment will finance, design and build the amphitheater. FivePoint, on behalf of the property owner, Heritage Fields El Toro, LLC, owns the property, which sits on approximately 45 acres next to the Orange County Great Park, at the end of the historic runways of the former Marine Corps Air Station El Toro. The interim facility will be less than two miles from the old Irvine Meadows Amphitheater.

“In front of a cheering audience, the Irvine City Council unanimously approved the plan put forth by FivePoint and Live Nation Entertainment to build and operate an interim outdoor amphitheater,” said Steve Chrum, chief communications officer, FivePoint Holdings. “It will have 12,000 seats and 4,000 parking spots as well as concession and hospitality offerings.”

“FivePoint is providing the land, prepping the land and providing logistical support and Live Nation will construct and operate the venue,” said Churm.

Live Nation hopes to have the temporary facility up and running by summer 2017. Historically, the old amphitheater started programming in May and went through October. “Live Nation should be able to program a half-season in 2017, starting in early August,” said Churm. “Next year Live Nation will have the opportunity to start running shows in April.”

The hoped-for next step is to build a permanent amphitheater on city-owned land in Orange County Great Park. “The City of Irvine’s master plan for the Great Park calls for a permanent outdoor amphitheater in the 'cultural terrace' portion of the park on city land,” said Churm.

This interim venue has been championed by fans, city officials and area business leaders, including the Save Live Music Irvine movement, which represents nearly 35,000 fans. Organizers formed Save Live Music Irvine in August 2016 to bring attention to Irvine Meadows closing and build momentum for a new venue in Irvine.

Outside the city council chambers Tuesday evening, several hundred supporters wearing the red Save Live Music Irvine T-shirts rallied before entering City Hall for the hearing.

In addition, a diverse coalition of community organizations and leaders, including Irvine Chamber of Commerce; Irvine Police Association; Irvine Public Schools Foundation; Irvine United School District; Local 504 IATSE; Orange County Pacific Symphony and Orange County Business Council, submitted written recommendations to the Irvine City Council outlining their support for the project.

“The goal was always to continue the 35-year tradition of live summer music in Orange County,” said Churm.

The rationale behind building a temporary site, rather than diving straight into a permanent site, is keeping continuity for Irvine's live music fans. “We’ve operated the Irvine Amphitheater for many, many years and put on many great shows there, and the citizens of Irvine and Orange County love to go to shows. The temporary venue will continue the tradition and allows fans to keep seeing great shows while the city figures out what they want to do next,” said Bret Gallagher, president of Southern California Live Nation.

A budget has not been established yet for the temporary amphitheater. “It will be a little smaller than the current amphitheater because it will not have a lawn,” said Gallagher. There is also no timetable in place for when a permanent venue will be built. “The city council needs to make all those decisions.”

Churm said that the project was being modeled after The America’s Cup Pavilion, a Live Nation interim facility that worked well near the waterfront in San Francisco.

Churm also said that FivePoint is working with the city to conduct a traffic study. “We are looking at two routes to get to the venue. One is from Chinon, next to Portola High School. The other is from Cadence Street off Great Park Boulevard, formerly Trabuco Road. The proposed location is about 1,000 feet from the Irvine train station, and the plan is to create a direct path from the station to the amphitheater.

“We’re thrilled the plan passed and are looking forward to seeing the project completed so Orange County residents can once again enjoy great outdoor shows in Irvine,” Churm said.


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New Financing Rejuvenates Las Vegas Stadium
 
Posted: 15 Mar 2017, 6:00 pm

Rendering of the proposed 65,000-seat Raiders' Las Vegas Stadium. (Photo Credit: MANICA Architecture)

If all goes according to the new plan, the Oakland Raiders could have a new home in Las Vegas. And they would have taxpayers partially to thank for it.

Last year, the Nevada Legislature approved an 0.88 percent increase in hotel occupancy taxes that will raise $750 million for the project, said Jeremy Aguero, a principal analyst with Applied Analysis, a firm The Las Vegas Stadium Authority has retained to study the proposed stadium.

Construction of the 65,000-seat stadium, along with a proposed expansion of the Las Vegas Convention Center and securing ongoing funding for police, is part of the city's bid to solidify its position as a prime tourism destination, according to the Nevada Governor's Office of Economic Development.

“We have before us the opportunity to invest in Nevada’s most foundational industry, tourism, by providing for the infrastructure and public safety needs of the 21st century," Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval said in a statement. "We can and must usher in a new era for tourism in the Las Vegas market, while keeping our citizens and visitors safe, and ensuring our position as the global leader in entertainment and hospitality.”

The stadium project hit choppy waters in January when casino magnate Sheldon Adelson backed out of his $650-million investment pledge. Adelson's exit triggered the withdrawal of Goldman Sachs, the project's backup investor.

However, Bank of America has committed to fill the gap. The $650 million they plan to invest in the stadium's construction will augment tax-generated revenue and the Raiders' $500 million investment in the project, Aguero said.

Even if all goes according to plan, the Raiders probably won't be moving anytime soon. Based on current projections, the earliest the proposed stadium could be ready to host NFL football would be the 2020 season, according to the Stadium Authority.

Calls to the Oakland Raiders were not returned by press time.

The stadium's estimated $1.9 billion pricetag includes a $100-million practice facility. Another $100 million is earmarked for contingencies, a common line item for many large-scale projects, Aguero said. 

"Generally, anytime you have a major construction project, particularly one at some point in the future, the cost of materials could change," he said. "The cost of offsite or onsite infrastructure could change. There are just unknowns relative to the project."

The total cost to build the stadium is set at roughly $1.3 billion. Land, infrastructure and siting expenses are estimated to cost roughly $375 million, according to the Stadium Authority.
The State of Nevada has several interests in the development of an National Football League stadium.

The venue is expected to create jobs and boost local wages. It's also expected to increase tourism, which will in turn create a surge in visitor spending and business output. State officials also expect the uptick in visitors will generate additional revenues through room, gaming, sales and use taxes, the Stadium Authority's website reported.

The venue won't only benefit the Raiders. If plans for its construction come to fruition, it will also host the University of Nevada - Las Vegas football team. This will eliminate the need to build an additional collegiate stadium.

The venue has more hurdles to clear before breaking ground in the Silver State. The NFL owners are expected to review the team's relocation application at a meeting later this month, Aguero said.

Once the owners give their blessing, the project must pass muster on several findings. These include whether the team "formally elected" to relocate and whether it has demonstrated financial capability to build the stadium itself, Aguero said. 

Finally, two key agreements must be reached. The first is a development agreement for the venue's construction. The second is a 30-year stadium operating lease, Aguero said.

No anticipated groundbreaking date has been set, he added.


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Orlando City SC Goes Paperless
 
Posted: 15 Mar 2017, 5:00 pm

Orlando City Soccer Club's paperless app.

(Editor's note: This story originally appeared in SportTechie.com)

As Orlando City SC moves into its new home at Orlando City Stadium, it is transitioning to paperless tickets this season with the launch of the free LionNation mobile app for all of the members and nonmembers of the Club’s membership program.

Not only soccer matches, but all events held at Orlando City Stadium will utilize the paperless tickets via the LionNation mobile app or Ticketmaster’s Account Manager site. LionNation members who are season-ticket holders can use and scan their membership cards to enter the stadium on game day. All single-game ticket holders must use an electronic ticket through the app.

“This is an important move for us and our fans,” Club Chief Information Officer Renato Reis said in a statement. “We are fortunate to have a very tech-savvy fan base in soccer, and we looked at our customer feedback as well as their behaviors at games to further improve their experience at our games and events.”

The decision was made to go paperless after Ticketmaster, which has been a partner of the club since 2014, approached Orlando City SC to discuss the change as data collected on how fans entered matches in 2016 backed up the decision, Orlando City vice president of sales Chris Gallagher told the Orlando Sentinel.

“It’s a pretty big move,” Gallagher said. “Like any other decision that you make, you certainly look at what the customer feedback is and how our fans actually enter games and handle their tickets. We’re very fortunate in that we have a very tech-savvy fan base. Soccer in general, I think, is tech savvy and this market in particular.”

After downloading the free LionNation app, through the Apple Store or Google Play Store, users must sign up for an account. LionNation members must use their existing membership email address and select a username and password to complete the registration form.

“The mobile app is designed for all fans of the Club, not just those who purchased LionNation memberships,” Teresa Tatlonghari, Club vice president of marketing, said in a statement. “It will be the preferred method for all fans to access electronic tickets on gameday. There will be two different interfaces allowing our members to access their enhanced accounts, while allowing nonmembers the opportunity to purchase tickets and manage them through the app directly.”

If for any reason fans cannot access their paperless tickets, they can go to the stadium’s box office to retrieve a paper ticket, according to the Orlando Sentinel. Those instances will be the only physical tickets used for entry.
 


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Ford Field’s $100-Mil Restoration Underway
 
Posted: 15 Mar 2017, 4:00 pm

New video boards, top-of-the-line sound systems and major renovations to stadium suites and clubs will greet Detroit Lions’ fans this season.

Detroit Lions’ officials are ambitiously trying to finish a $100-million upgrade at Ford Field — funded by the Ford family — before the first preseason game in the second week of August.

No concerts will be held at the stadium this summer during renovations.

Roughly 210,000 square feet of space will be renovated or entirely reconfigured in an effort to upgrade the 65,000-seat stadium that was built in 2002. In total, the stadium is 1.85-million-sq.-ft., with four levels of suites.

“The majority of the restoration is updating the scoreboards and other amenities throughout the entire stadium,” said Kirk Phillips, lead designer from architect firm Rossetti. “It’s going to make a better overall experience for everybody.”

Rossetti helped design the stadium when it was originally built.

The massive LED boards add extra excitement to the project, Phillips said. “It’s amazing the amount of changes that are going to occur."

Daktronics is the company in charge of creating and installing the 21-display system that includes nearly 26,000 square feet of displays and more than 28.1-million LED lights.

“It’s going to be really exciting,” said Daryl Mihal, regional manager for Brookings, S.D.-based Daktronics.

Each end zone will have new video displays that are twice the size of what’s currently there that will measure 39.5-ft. high and 152-ft. wide with a 13HD pixel layout. Additionally, four other displays that are 13-feet high and 59-feet wide will be used with the main displays for live video, instant replay, statistics and more.

Ford Field also has two columns that will be wrapped in LED lights that measure 36.5-ft. high and 62.5-ft. wide.

“It will be really unique and exciting and something different than we’ve done in any other stadium,” Mihal said.

Renovations of the suites, club areas and bars also are in the works, including redesign of The Corner Lounge, that will be renamed the Corner Bar. The bar will have old and new franchise memorabilia from the team’s past and present accomplishments. 

Other club renovations include:
• The Lounge: A new 6,800-sq.-ft. club that hovers five levels above the field on the north side of the stadium, an area that previously had suites, that will seat 200 people.
• Terrace Club and suites: A total of 5,500 sq.-ft. and 140 seats that will be a “communal gathering,” with 12 theater-type suites with all-inclusive food and beverage options.
• Gridiron Club: A two-level club, on levels two and three of the stadium. The level-two space will house 5,400 sq.-ft. of space with 106 seats and the third level will cater to 467 seats with a total of 16,800 sq.-ft. The Gridiron Club capitalizes on Detroit’s growing culinary recognition and the social scene that parallels it. Food takes center stage in this club with the addition of several new Detroit-centric concessions.

Levy Restaurants is the caterer for Ford Field and will work with local food vendors to create menus for suites and clubs, Phillips said.

“We want to utilize the great food choices we have here in Detroit,” he said. “You’ll have great local fare coming from both sides of the stadium.”

Premium suite renovations include the Red Zone Suites that will be renovated with stone, luxury fabrics and interactive tables where customers can order food.

There also will be a South Club and Loge Boxes where several current suites will be transformed into a club with tons of open space so fans can move around. Loge boxes are a new concept that will include large seats and in-seat food and beverage service.

With the renovations and the new LED lighting, fans are sure to feel the difference.

“It will be immediately evident for anyone who steps into the stadium that changes were made,” Mihal said.

 


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The Who Knocking on Vegas’ Door
 
Posted: 15 Mar 2017, 2:00 pm

Poster for The Who's residency at Caesars Colosseum, Las Vegas, July 29-Aug. 11.

Add “hope I die before I get old” rock legends, The Who, to the list of 1960's youth revolt icons setting up shop in Las Vegas for a residency. The group fronted by guitarist/songwriter Pete Townshend and singer Roger Daltrey will begin an exclusive residency at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace, Las Vegas, for a six-performance run from July 29 through Aug. 11, with tickets on sale Friday, March 17.

The “Who Are You” band will become the first rock act to set up residency at the 4,300-seat Colosseum since it opened in 2003. Since then the venue has hosted Celine Dion, Elton John, Rod Stewart, Reba McEntire, Brooks & Dunn, Mariah Carey and Jerry Seinfeld for extended runs. The band’s shows — July 29, August 1, 4, 7, 9 and 11 — are a co-presentation of AEG Presents and Caesars Entertainment.

Bobby Reynolds, SVP Entertainment for AEG Presents, Las Vegas, said he thought the band might make its way back to the city as part of its years-long final run of farewell concerts after they played at the Colosseum on May 29, 2016. “They just loved it. They looked great, sounded great,” he said. “I saw them play The Joint a couple years ago. I’ve seen them in arenas, and when I saw them at The Colosseum, it looked like they were having a lot of fun. Sometimes you can just pick up on that when you’ve seen as many shows as a promoter does.”

With the band and their crew clearly in high spirits, Reynolds said the group began asking questions about how other artists who‘ve played the room liked it and how long they typically performed there.

“Then it became, ‘would you guys ever want to give this a shot?’” he said, which started a dialog less than a week after last year’s show and led to an initial offer a short time later. “They’re absolutely a big fish… they’re icons and they bring in a great, diverse crowd,” said Reynolds, predicting a multigenerational audience potential.

While he would not get into specifics on what the band’s guarantee is — though it is obviously lower than their typical arena payday due to the smaller size of the Colosseum — Reynolds said it was similar to the other high-caliber acts who’ve played the room. The shows are being pegged as a “first run,” with Reynolds hinting that both sides will reassess after the initial six gigs and likely add more dates at a future time. “The pay for these artists is very similar — Celine Dion is no higher end than The Who — they can all yield a very healthy ticket price because what’s interesting for these artists is not the upfront money or guarantee. That’s a big component, but the savings they realize by not being on the road and not employing private jets and a slew of trucks and having to give their guys hotel rooms…we make it a more efficient and easier way to work.”

The details of the production’s size and look are still being figured out, but Reynolds said it will be on the scale of what fans have come to expect over the past 50 years and he anticipates that seeing The Who in such close quarters could entice some of their other 1960s peers to give the Strip a shot. “Artists talk to one another, and I’m sure one of the reasons we could land them is because they talked to Rod and Elton and heard how much they liked it and got the pros and cons of residency from them,” he said.

“That old adage that Las Vegas is where artists come to die is just not true anymore,” he said. “This is simply a way to do it instead of touring around the world, which they’ve done for decades. Let your fans come see you at your house.”

Tickets for the shows are scaled $501, $351, $226, $151, $100.50 and $76.


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Hot Tickets for March 15, 2017
 
Posted: 15 Mar 2017, 2:00 pm

Eric Church plays to a sold-out crowd at Target Center, Minneapolis. (Photo Credit: Reid Long)

Eric Church officially launched his “Holdin’ My Own” tour on Jan. 13, at Pinnacle Bank Arena, Lincoln, Neb., and for the first time in his headlining history, there are no support acts. The Messina Touring Group and AEG Live-promoted show at The Palace at Auburn Hills, Mich., Feb 25, made our Hot Tickets chart this week. Church entertained a sold-out crowd of nearly 19,000 fans and, with tickets ranging from $25-$90, grossed over $1.2 million. This time around, in an effort to ensure that his “Church Choir” fans get good tickets at face value, Church revamped the on-sale and pre-sale process to eliminate scalpers from the equation.

Balancing touring with his time on "The Voice," Blake Shelton made our Hot Tickets chart three times this week with his “Doin’ It to Country Songs” tour, which takes him across the western half of the U.S. With a combined gross of over $2 million and approximately 31,000 fans in attendance, these shows highlighted not only Shelton’s hits, but also the catalogs of two of his famous mentorships, Raelynn and Sundance Head, who were his support acts. Fans can catch up with Shelton and his mentees at the Ford Center, Evansville, Ind., on March 16.

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 Feb. 14-March 14.

15,001 or More Seats

10,001-15,000 Seats

5,001-10,000 Seats

5,000 or Fewer Seats

1) Red Hot Chili Peppers
Gross Sales: $3,553,466; Venue: Staples Center, Los Angeles; Attendance: 40,383; Ticket Range: $99-$49; Promoter: Frank Productions, AEG Live; Dates: March 7-10; No. of Shows: 3

2) Cirque du Soleil - Toruk
Gross Sales: $2,432,337; Venue: Arena Monterrey (Mexico); Attendance: 40,668; Ticket Range: $96-$20.21; Promoter: Representaciones Apodaca, Cirque du Soleil; Dates: Feb. 23-26; No. of Shows: 6

3) UFC 209
Gross Sales: $2,273,877; Venue: T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas; Attendance: 13,453; Ticket Range: $605-$80; Promoter: Zuffa Entertainment; Dates: March 4; No. of Shows: 1

4) Tommy Torres
Gross Sales: $1,313,003; Venue: Coliseo de Puerto Rico, San Juan; Attendance: 18,029; Ticket Range: $225-$21; Promoter: Vallejo Entertainment; Dates: Feb. 17-18; No. of Shows: 2

5) Eric Church
Gross Sales: $1,233,087; Venue: The Palace of Auburn Hills (Mich.); Attendance: 18,940; Ticket Range: $89-$25; Promoter: Messina Touring Group, AEG Live; Dates: Feb. 25; No. of Shows: 1

1) Maroon 5
Gross Sales: $867,256; Venue: Blue Cross Arena, Rochester, N.Y.; Attendance: 10,504; Ticket Range: $126-$30.50; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: March 5; No. of Shows: 1

2) Cirque du Soleil - OVO
Gross Sales: $802,904; Venue: Spokane (Wash.) Veterans Memorial Arena; Attendance: 11,633; Ticket Range: $115-$32; Promoter: Cirque du Soleil; Dates: Feb. 16-19; No. of Shows: 6

3) Blake Shelton
Gross Sales: $709,905; Venue: Save Mart Center, Fresno, Calif.; Attendance: 11,676; Ticket Range: $72.50-$32.50; Promoter: Messina Touring Group, AEG Live; Dates: March 3; No. of Shows: 1

4) Blake Shelton
Gross Sales: $673,560; Venue: MGM Grand Garden Arena, Las Vegas; Attendance: 10,430; Ticket Range: $90-$49.50; Promoter: Messina Touring Group, AEG Live, MGM Resorts; Dates: March 4; No. of Shows: 1

5) Blake Shelton
Gross Sales: $621,818; Venue: Valley View Casino Center, San Diego; Attendance: 9,362; Ticket Range: $82.50-$42.50; Promoter: Messina Touring Group, AEG Live; Dates: March 11; No. of Shows: 1

1) James Taylor
Gross Sales: $664,253; Venue: ICC Sydney Theatre; Attendance: 6,831; Ticket Range: $117.81-$61.64; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Feb. 14; No. of Shows: 1

2) Sting
Gross Sales: $602,354; Venue: Smart Financial Centre, Sugar Land, Texas; Attendance: 6,372; Ticket Range: $154-$54; Promoter: In-house, Live Nation; Dates: Feb. 23; No. of Shows: 1

3) Jose Carreras
Gross Sales: $532,087; Venue: ICC Sydney Theatre; Attendance: 3,218; Ticket Range: $359-$89; Promoter: Duet Entertainment; Dates: Feb. 18; No. of Shows: 1

4) Game of Thrones
Gross Sales: $484,925; Venue: Mohegan Sun Arena, Uncasville, Conn.; Attendance: 7,475; Ticket Range: $99.50-$39.50; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Feb. 25; No. of Shows: 1

5) Tobymac
Gross Sales: $425,467; Venue: Verizon Theatre at Grand Prairie (Texas); Attendance: 11,862; Ticket Range: $65-$15; Promoter: Awakening Events; Dates: Feb. 24-25; No. of Shows: 2

1) Beautiful - The Carole King Musical
Gross Sales: $1,237,265; Venue: Peace Center, Greenville, S.C.; Attendance: 16,559; Ticket Range: $85-$25; Promoter: In-house; Dates: Feb. 21-26; No. of Shows: 8

2) The King & I
Gross Sales: $1,154,198; Venue: Orpheum Theatre, Minneapolis; Attendance: 16,488; Ticket Range: $141-$21; Promoter: Hennepin Theatre Trust, Broadway Across America; Dates: Feb. 28-March 5; No. of Shows: 8

3) Wilco
Gross Sales: $972,394; Venue: Chicago Theatre; Attendance: 13,594; Ticket Range: $81.50-$46; Promoter: Jam Productions; Dates: Feb. 22-26; No. of Shows: 4

4) Something Rotten
Gross Sales: $893,337; Venue: David A. Straz, Jr. Center for the Performing Arts, Tampa, Fla.; Attendance: 15,359; Ticket Range: $97-$31; Promoter: In-house; Dates: March 7-12; No. of Shows: 8

5) The Sound of Music
Gross Sales: $887,834; Venue: DeVos Performance Hall, Grand Rapids, Mich.; Attendance: 14,860; Ticket Range: $87-$35.70; Promoter: Broadway Across America; Dates: Feb. 21-26; No. of Shows: 8

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

 


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SMP 100 - FEBRUARY AVAILABLE NOW
 
Posted: 10 Mar 2017, 7:00 pm

CLICK HERE TO VIEW THE SMP 100 CHART


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Congratulations 2017 Generation Next Winners!
 
Posted: 10 Mar 2017, 2:00 pm

Thank you to those who nominated and voted for these influential leaders. Venues Today is honoring these young professionals who make a difference in sports, music, conventions, family shows and festivals. Our annual Generation Next Awards honoring leaders 35 or younger will be profiled in the May issue of the magazine.

Congratulations to our 2017 VT Generation Next Award Recipients!

Lucy Albers
Sr. Marketing Manager/SMG
Denny Sanford PREMIER Center, Sioux Falls, S.D.
Age: 30

For playing a key role in opening the The Denny Sanford PREMIER Center. Opened in 2014, Albers placed advertisements, wrote annual reports for SMG and created the publication of a “First Year” book for the new venue and posters for shows.  Albers was hired in 2011, as a box-office supervisor.  She worked in that role until 2013 when she was promoted to the assistant box-office manager.  She excelled in her roles in the box office and when the opportunity for marketing manager came up, she jumped on it.  In May of 2013, Albers was promoted into that role, where she made many differences in marketing strategies that improved the facility’s exposure. In July of 2016, Albers received yet another promotion; to senior marketing manager because of her hard work, diligence and ability to take the lead and get things done when needed.

Brian Chia
Director of Client Services
EventBooking, Knoxville, Tenn.
Age: 27

For organizing the moving parts that make a concert, conference or sporting event possible using reliable venue management software. Chia leads the Client Success team, which serves over 10,000 individual users. Brian’s ability to quickly customize the best solution for each client is invaluable as he travels to venues in-person to perform more in-depth assistance and training. Chia’s dedication to personalized customer support has taken him all over the world, from London to Beijing. He is solely responsible for the success of EventBooking’s partner in China, having trained all of their staff so that they are then capable of training others. Last year EventBooking began redesigning its core venue management software. Chia was appointed product owner of the new initiative. This meant that in addition to his client services responsibilities, he guided a team of software engineers so that each cycle of the development process was tailored to clients' needs and workflow.

John Ciolfi (Social Butterfly)
Marketing Manager/SMG
Dunkin’ Donuts Center & Rhode Island Convention Center, Providence
Age: 30

For his ability to communicate with young patrons and promoters in a way that keeps his Rhode Island venues on the cutting edge in the digital age. Since 2013,  Ciolfi has been with the SMG management team representing the venue locally, regionally and nationally to promoters and industry leaders. Ciolfi is well respected by the NCAA for his work on their regional championships and sits on the Statewide Local Organizing Committee. In addition, he currently works on many high-

profile Request For Proposal projects for the city and state. Recently, Rhode Island hosted several national journalists and Ciolfi acted as PR ambassador. This past year, he was awarded the “Stars of the Industry Volunteer of the Year” from the Rhode Island Hospitality Association.

Jordan Silberman
Vice President of Operations, Verizon Center, Washington, D.C.
Age: 29

For daily oversight of operations and conversions for the building. There was a span of 95 events across 70 days, which involved 46 changeovers, including two different setups during the same day. While managing the logistics for the 95 varying events, Silberman also took on the role of being the local tournament director for the Atlantic Coast Conference men’s basketball tournament, which took place at the arena last March. As tournament director, Silberman was responsible for the oversight and management of the event across operations, ticketing and marketing. Another major project he was involved in was overseeing the completion of a $6-million renovation on the event level. The renovations entailed the buildout of a 10,000-sq.-ft., brand-new VIP club hospitality space and relocating, reconfiguring and redesigning of several rooms on the event level. Prior to being in operations, Silberman also developed a new processing system for accessible seating orders at Verizon Center when he served as the director of accessible seating.

Michael Sulkes (Readers' Choice)
Assistant General Manager, Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia
Age: 30

For planning and managing of the day-to-day operations at the Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia. In addition to overseeing the venue’s booking process, Sulkes is instrumental in pursuing new business opportunities for the facility. During his tenure at Wells Fargo Center, Sulkes has taken the lead on many marquee events the venue has hosted, including the recent 2016 Democratic National Convention, National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Frozen Four, multiple NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournaments, the National Hockey League draft and major global touring concerts, including last spring’s historic Pearl Jam concerts, Paul McCartney’s 2015 “Out There” tour and the Rolling Stones’ 50th Anniversary tour. Sulkes was also instrumental in the venue's 20th anniversary campaign and led the charge to create a free, community open house birthday party.


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Local Eateries Showcased at Nassau Coliseum
 
Posted: 8 Mar 2017, 7:00 pm

Cabo Loaded Nachos.

The most important piece of the puzzle when launching a program like Long Island Taste, which will see menu items from eight local eateries sold at the renovated Nassau Coliseum, is to stay the course.

Marco Fabozzi, VP of Hospitality Strategy for Levy Restaurants, instituted a similar program at Barclays Center, Brooklyn, which opened five years ago. He knows that “it’s a daunting task. We were reminiscing from six months ago, when we were talking about an all-out meet and greet for interested restaurateurs, and seeing where we are today. You do get a little scared.”

Buying local and partnering with local restaurants on branding is not a new concept, but Levy has taken it a long way in Brooklyn and Uniondale, N.Y., the Long Island home of the new Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum By New York Community Bank, which opens April 5. 

“You wonder will you garner enough interest?” Fabozzi said. “But you have to stay true to the course. To stay local is not an easy thing because there are a lot of conglomerates out there knocking on your door.”

Though budget-wise it may make more sense to go with big firms and bulk buys, Levy’s goal in Long Island is the best experience possible for the fans, Fabozzi said. To that end, they started the search for local partners six months ago and were pleased to end up with 110 interested parties at the initial meet-and-greet to introduce the concept.

That went much better than it did in Brooklyn when Taste was launched there, Fabozzi recalled.

The initial eight partners for Long Island Taste are:

 Prime Food Distributor (PFD) DBA Grilled by PFD’s with its Signature Coliseum Burger.
Greekrave, with its Krave Burger, Traditional Marinated Lamb and Beef Gyro, and its signature Greek Nachos with pita chips.
Smokin Al’s, with smoked meats, including Smokin’ Al's Pulled Pork and Chopped Brisket Sandwiches with Al's Cole Slaw.
Roast Sandwich House, with its Buffalo Roasted Chicken sandwich with Gorgonzola Spread.
Cabo, A Taste of Mexico’s Pollo Al Pastor Tacos, as well as loaded nachos and chicken quesadillas and Cabo Cobb Salad, a vegetarian dish.
Nathan’s Famous, the official hot dog and French fry of The New Coliseum.
Umberto's, with its Signature Margherita Personal Pie.
Vincent’s Clam Bar, with its Vincent's Signature Meatball Pizza Burger.

The selection process was exhaustive. Fabozzi said that besides the orientation program in Uniondale, they researched the market through Yelp reviews and other Internet sites as well as going out for incognito tasting trips to determine “what and who they are.” Asked to compare it to the tastings he did for the predecessor program, Taste of Brooklyn, he joked that it was about a “10-pound difference, but I’ve worked it back off.”

“We narrowed it down by determining what was an arena food at the end of the day,” Fabozzi said. “The item had to be appealing to the general public, not too exotic, and had to hold up well in our environment.”

While Levy is done selecting the partners for the inaugural Long Island Taste program, the firm is still looking at products from the Long Island area – salt, mustard, cookies, chips and popcorn, as well as beverages — to be used in arena cuisine.

The partnerships vary, depending upon the restaurant, Fabozzi said, declining to reveal any financials. “It’s a two-way street.” While Levy does all the cooking and buying inhouse, “we produce their food items the way they envision them but cooked by us. Both parties have to feel proud of the end product.”

Angelo Ramunni of the 15-year-old Cabo, A Taste of Mexico couldn’t be more pleased with the arrangement. Nassau Coliseum will be his first experience serving Cabo menu items inside an arena.

He almost missed out, having heard about Levy’s open house for potential restaurateurs from a friend just the night before. A native of Long Island, he had been watching the struggle to reimagine Nassau Coliseum for years and wanted to be part of it.

“It will be great exposure to help brand our business,” he said. It dovetails nicely with their other expansion plans, which include putting their empanadas (to hopefully be introduced at the coliseum at a later date), tortilla chips and salsa in supermarkets in the region. “This will help us launch the product line. We always wanted to be involved in quick service – this is a great way to get started,” Ramunni said.

Cabo receives signage in the venue and Ramunni intends to take investors there to help expand the concept to other venues. There is no exclusive, he said.

He will also promote events at the coliseum in his restaurant. “We’re big on social media; we will host a lot of events happening at the coliseum on our social media site,” he said, adding they will then offer fans who come to the restaurant with a receipt from the arena a discount at the Cabo.

“The local restaurateur gets the recognition of being selected,” Fabozzi said. “Being a Long island-based company, they get a great deal of pride in being able to partner with a renovated, iconic venue.”

Though he had no financials to share, “anecdotally, I’ve seen a lot of institutions that have partnered with us in Brooklyn do fairly well downstream.”

Both Taste of Brooklyn and Long Island Taste aid Levy’s desire to make arena food a real meal, Fabozzi said.  To be a real meal, it needs to be seasoned and cooked in house and, to the degree possible, made to order. “We don’t believe in canned or pre-made food; it’s all made at the arena.”

The New Nassau Coliseum will have 11 unique concessions stands plus quite a few portables. There are 104 points of sale. “There are over 300 individuals we have staffed for Nassau Coliseum,” Fabozzi said.

The partner menu items will be involved in all aspects of the operation, including catering, suites, restaurants and VIP lounges.

Besides serving local brands, the New Nassau Coliseum will hopefully be known for speed of service. Levy is using a Bypass point of sale system and will institute a Bypass Lane for mobile ordering as they do on Barclays Center’s upper concourse.

The New Coliseum Presented By New York Community Bank will offer 13,000 seats for hockey, 13,500 for basketball, and 14,500 for concert configurations, with the ability to flex up.

The bowl will have a theater seating option for 4,000 guests.


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Ticket Resale Bills Taken Up By State Legislators
 
Posted: 8 Mar 2017, 4:00 pm

Virginia and Maryland tackle ticket resale bills.

A bill that prohibits companies from restricting the resale of tickets for entertainment and sporting events has passed in the Virginia State Legislature; a similar bill is working its way through the Maryland State Senate.

Both versions of the resale legislation have the attention of industry heavyweights Ticketmaster, which opposes such laws, and StubHub, which is in favor.

Supporters of the bills say they're looking out for the consumer and that ticket buyers should have the right to sell or give away their tickets, which they believe they own once they buy them.

“We are absolutely very much in favor of the legislation,” said Aimee Bateas, global head of public affairs, StubHub. “We’re in favor of any bill that makes ticket resale and availability easier for the consumer. Restrictive methods mean fans lose out.”

The opposition says they, too, have the consumer’s back and that they want to protect fans from being gouged by unscrupulous scalpers and high-tech ticket-buying bots.

“These types of laws are not born from consumer complaints,” said Jared Smith, president, North America, Ticketmaster. “This is about not allowing scalpers and bots to sell tickets. These types of legislation are trying to take away an unbelievably effective tool that helps artists and sports teams and other acts get tickets directly into the hands of fans at a price they want the fan to pay.”

The HB 1825 Ticket Resale Rights Act was introduced by Virginia Delegate Dave Albo. It guarantees the rights of ticket buyers to resell their tickets on the internet ticketing platform of their choice. Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe signed the bill into law on March 3, and it will go into effect July 1.

State lawmakers in Maryland will begin hearings this week on Bill 892, which also addresses the resale or transfer of live-event tickets.

Albo said he was inspired to enact the new ticket resale law after he bought two $200 tickets to an Iron Maiden concert several months before the event. Albo was unable to attend the concert due to a family event. When he went to resell the tickets he was told that Ticketmaster would not allow him to resell or give away the tickets.

“Because it was a ticketless concert, in order to get in you would have to show your ID and the credit card that was used to make the purchase at the door,” he said.

Albo said his legislation will ensure that “once a consumer buys a ticket it becomes their property and they can do whatever they want with it and no one can put restrictions on what they can do with it.”

In Maryland, the current law states that the primary seller of tickets can put restrictions on reselling or giving away tickets. “A ticket is a license issued by a venue to attend the event, it’s not property,” said Smith. “There are terms and conditions on the back of every ticket.”

Feldman.jpgMaryland State Senator Brian Feldman

Maryland State Senator Brian Feldman, a Montgomery County Democrat, introduced Bill 892 to the Maryland Senate. Unlike the Virginia law, his bill says that if a ticket is offered with restrictions that the seller is obliged to offer a non-restricted version, which can be sold at a higher price.

“My bill says that if you purchase a ticket you own that property,” said Feldman. “Right now, there’s restriction after restriction. It’s anti-American and anti-consumer.”

Feldman’s hoping to get his bill passed in the next 30 days before the current session ends. Similar bills failed in 2015 and 2016.

Joining Ticketmaster in opposing the legislation are many Maryland venue operators.

Ron Legler, president of Hippodrome Performing Arts Center, Baltimore,
said, “Every year this bill keeps coming back. Every venue in the state is against it.”

Legler said that only 25 complaints came into the Maryland Attorney General last year and that 19 of them were for price gouging and fraud.

“This isn’t about protecting the consumer,” he said. “It’s about people who want to profit without taking any risk.” Legler also had safety concerns about the venues not knowing who is sitting in their seats. “This law will also open the door to anyone to sell tickets, including those who don’t have any policies in place for fraud.”

Bateas pointed out that StubHub doesn’t pay the ticket seller until the buyer has already attended the event.

“Increasingly, we’re seeing rights holders going down the road of restrictive measures. That can include presenting a credit card you paid with to go to an event. That’s not a great experience for the customer,” Bateas said.

“The bills allow the fan to have the reassurance that if they can’t go to an event they can easily resell their tickets, or give them away, without any restrictions,” she said. “We want people to have that flexibility.”

Audrey Schaefer, Merriweather Post Pavilion, Columbia, Md., said, “What matters to us is bringing great acts to Maryland. If this passes here I’m concerned that artists who refuse to allow secondary ticketing will skip over Maryland.”

Frank Remesch, GM, Royal Farm Arena, Baltimore, agreed. “This will put us at an unfair disadvantage. There are a number of artists like Bruce Springsteen, Garth Brooks and Adele who will not play here if this law passes.”

“These secondary ticketers have no skin in the game, they don’t bring revenue to Maryland, and they are working very hard at manufacturing complaints where they don’t exist,” said Schaefer, who believes that capping how much a ticket can be sold for on the secondary market is the best way to go.

“Our fear with that is it will move the trade onto the street,” said Bateas. “There will always be supply and demand. If you don’t allow it on a safe site like StubHub, the consumer loses out.  People will go to off shore sites and meet people in bars and alleys where there is no protection. We believe in fair and open markets.”

Feldman said that the BOT Act, signed by President Barack Obama, solved many of the concerns Ticketmaster has about his legislation. That act gives the Federal Trade Commission the right to fine ticketbuyers who use robots to circumvent security put in place to prevent such cyber attacks.

“There’s no one who spends more money and time fighting the ticket scalpers [than we do],” said Smith. “There are a bunch of nefarious players who try to use technology to game the system and get access to tickets with the sole purpose of profiteering on the backs of everyday fans.”

“The BOT Act is only as good as enforcement,” Smith pointed out. “We’re not seeing it. We need real solutions. The BOT Act alone will not alleviate this problem.” Smith added that there is no private right of action under the BOT Act, which means Ticketmaster can’t sue under it.

“The facility takes the risk on putting on a show and they have the right to do what they want with their tickets,” he said.

Robert Lande, a law professor at the University of Baltimore who specializes in antitrust law, supports the bill and wrote written testimony for the Maryland Senate. “I’m in favor of the legislation. It helps gives choice to the consumer.”

Bateas said StubHub is monitoring other states, like Connecticut and Missouri, both of which are eyeing similar legislation. 

“We continue to work hand-in-hand with our partners to make sure we continue to do what’s best for consumers,” said Smith.

 


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Graham To Retire After 38 Years In Venues
 
Posted: 7 Mar 2017, 6:00 pm

image0041.jpg

John Graham

John Graham has announced his retirement from his position as executive senior associate athletics director, Frank Erwin Center, Austin, Texas, after 28 years at the helm, effective Aug. 31.

“I’ve thought about retiring for quite some time,” said Graham. “This seemed like as good a time as any.  I realized that at 66 (years old) I would get full social security benefits and thought I’d make the move.”

Graham got his start in the arena industry in 1980 as the Events Manager of Assembly Hall (now State Farm Center) at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. He spent nine years at Assembly Hall, working his way up to assistant director and then associate director, before moving to Austin to join the Frank Erwin Center as associate director in May of 1989. He was then promoted to director in October of 1990, succeeding Dean Justice.

Graham said highlights of his tenure at Frank Erwin Center were when President Bill Clinton came to speak; hearing the Dali Lama speak; Final Fours in volleyball, big name regional basketball games, The Davis Cup in professional tennis, Paul McCartney (a project which took two years to work out) and Adele.

Graham’s first event was Ringling Bros. Circus and had the circus not phased out, Ringling Bros. circus would have been his last event. “Some things never change,” he said.

What has changed after 38 years in the venue world revolves around tech,  promotions and security, according to Graham. “How we deliver tickets is nothing like it used to be. In the old days, we’d get a shoebox filled with preprinted tickets. We’d put them in racks, by sections, and sell it all through a single box office. Now it’s all social media and paperless tickets.”

“Security started ramping up after 9/11 and it’s become a major issue for all of us,” said Graham. “It requires diligence and attention and you have to invest in technology like metal detectors and high-tech security cameras and training the staff.”

During Graham’s 28 year tenure, he was instrumental in bringing world renowned events to the Frank Erwin Center including the first ever WWF (now WWE) event in 1989, which was a sellout with approximately 17,000 fans in attendance; the Davis Cup quarterfinals between the U.S. and Spain in 2011 and, most recently, the iHeartCountry Music Festival, which returns for its fourth year this May.

Graham said the thing he will miss the most when he leaves will be “the crew, one hundred percent. We have nine departments and those folks have been with me 20 years, if not more. When you spend nights and weekends with people, they become like a village. You go through all the dynamics that you would have with an extended family and you’re concerned about people and want the best for them.”

Graham is only the second director of the Frank Erwin Center, following Justice, CFE, who opened the venue in 1977.

 


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Hot Tickets for March 8, 2017
 
Posted: 7 Mar 2017, 5:30 pm

Reba McEntire performs with Brooks & Dunn at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace, Las Vegas.

The superstar trio of Reba McEntire, Kix Brooks and Ronnie Dunn have extended their popular “Together in Vegas” residency at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace into 2017.  On Feb. 22 – March 4, country rocked the house with nearly 25,000 fans in attendance and made our Hot Tickets chart this week, grossing over $3 million with ticket prices ranging from $60-$205. Fans can experience this one-of-a-kind country residency coming up June 21.

On Feb. 17-18,  George Strait, with special guest Kacey Musgraves, hit the T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas, grossing over $5.5 million and ranking #1 on our Hot Tickets chart this week. The nearly 34,000 fans who attended the “2 Nights of Number 1’s” concert series rocked to Strait’s unparalleled 60 No. 1 hits during the two-day sold-out event. Strait will continue his concert series at the T-Mobile Arena April 7-8.
 

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 Feb. 7-March 7.

15,001 or More Seats

10,001-15,000 Seats

5,001-10,000 Seats

5,000 or Fewer Seats

1) George Strait
Gross Sales: $5,546,145; Venue: T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas; Attendance: 33,706; Ticket Range: $200-$75; Promoter: Messina Touring Group, AEG Live, In-house; Dates: Feb. 17-18; No. of Shows: 2

2) Cirque du Soleil - Toruk
Gross Sales: $3,731,677; Venue: Palacio De Los Deportes, Mexico City; Attendance: 73,092; Ticket Range: $105.97-$25.23; Promoter: Cirque du Soleil; Dates: Feb. 16-19; No. of Shows: 7

3) Bon Jovi
Gross Sales: $2,273,877; Venue: T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas; Attendance: 17,518; Ticket Range: $552.75-$37.25; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Feb. 25; No. of Shows: 1

4) Strictly Come Dancing
Gross Sales: $1,776,437; Venue: The O2 Arena, London; Attendance: 37,695; Ticket Range: $68.49-$36.88; Promoter: Phil McIntyre Entertainment; Dates: Feb. 11-12; No. of Shows: 4

5) Bon Jovi
Gross Sales: $1,767,099; Venue: Bridgestone Arena, Nashville, Tenn.; Attendance: 18,514; Ticket Range: $552.75-$19.75; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Feb. 18; No. of Shows: 1

1) Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band
Gross Sales: $4,008,487; Venue: Brisbane (Australia) Entertainment Centre; Attendance: 25,219; Ticket Range: $233.62-$77.36; Promoter: Frontier Touring ; Dates: Feb. 14-16; No. of Shows: 2

2) Cirque du Soleil - Toruk
Gross Sales: $2,020,787; Venue: Arena VFG, Guadalajara, Mexico; Attendance: 33,098; Ticket Range: $90.83-$20.19; Promoter: Cirque du Soleil; Dates: Feb. 10-12; No. of Shows: 5

3) Cirque du Soleil - Varekai
Gross Sales: $1,806,104; Venue: 3Arena, Dublin; Attendance: 25,356; Ticket Range: $79.91-$65.16; Promoter: Cirque du Soleil; Dates: Feb. 8-12; No. of Shows: 6

4) Andrea Bocelli
Gross Sales: $1,804,650; Venue: Infinite Energy Arena, Duluth, Ga.; Attendance: 9,791; Ticket Range: $369-$79; Promoter: Gelb Promotions; Dates: Feb. 14; No. of Shows: 1

5) Blake Shelton
Gross Sales: $704,280; Venue: Rabobank Arena, Bakersfield, Calif.; Attendance: 9,561; Ticket Range: $82.50-$32.50; Promoter: Messina Touring Group, AEG Live; Dates: Feb. 16; No. of Shows: 1

1) Jennifer Lopez
Gross Sales: $2,576,211; Venue: The Axis at Planet Hollywood, Las Vegas; Attendance: 13,167; Ticket Range: $412-$54; Promoter: Caesars Entertainment, Live Nation; Dates: Feb. 21-25; No. of Shows: 3

2) Jennifer Lopez
Gross Sales: $2,461,356; Venue: The Axis at Planet Hollywood, Las Vegas; Attendance: 12,322; Ticket Range: $412-$54; Promoter: Caesars Entertainment, Live Nation; Dates: Feb. 14-18; No. of Shows: 3

3) Cher
Gross Sales: $2,289,580; Venue: Park Theater at Monte Carlo, Las Vegas; Attendance: 14,977; Ticket Range: $475-$60; Promoter: AEG Live, MRES; Dates: Feb. 14-25; No. of Shows: 4

4) Jennifer Lopez
Gross Sales: $2,237,798; Venue: The Axis at Planet Hollywood, Las Vegas; Attendance: 11,469; Ticket Range: $412-$54; Promoter: Caesars Entertainment, Live Nation; Dates: Feb. 8-11; No. of Shows: 3

5) Ariana Grande
Gross Sales: $696,265; Venue: Mohegan Sun Arena, Uncasville, Conn.; Attendance: 6,829; Ticket Range: $129.95-$59.95; Promoter: CAA; Dates: Feb. 17; No. of Shows: 1

1) Wicked
Gross Sales: $7,291,105; Venue: David A. Straz, Jr. Center for the Performing Arts, Tampa, Fla.; Attendance: 77,689; Ticket Range: $280-$25; Promoter: In-house; Dates: Feb. 1-26; No. of Shows: 32

2) Phantom of the Opera
Gross Sales: $4,037,623; Venue: Fox Theatre, Atlanta; Attendance: 62,563; Ticket Range: $150-$30; Promoter: Broadway Across America; Dates: Feb. 22-March 5; No. of Shows: 16

3) Reba, Brooks & Dunn
Gross Sales: $3,201,282; Venue: The Colosseum at Caesars Palace, Las Vegas; Attendance: 24,549; Ticket Range: $205-$59.50; Promoter: Concerts West, AEG Live, Caesars Palace; Dates: Feb. 22-March 4; No. of Shows: 6

4) Finding Neverland
Gross Sales: $1,208,881; Venue: The Smith Center for the Performing Arts, Las Vegas; Attendance: 15,221; Ticket Range: $135-$25; Promoter: In-house; Dates: Feb. 14-19; No. of Shows: 8

5) The Sound of Music
Gross Sales: $1,203,517; Venue: Des Moines (Iowa) Civic Center; Attendance: 18,994; Ticket Range: $99.50-$31.50; Promoter: In-house; Dates: Feb. 7-12; No. of Shows: 8

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

 


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Barclaycard Arena Debuts Flexible B1 Space
 
Posted: 7 Mar 2017, 5:00 pm

The new B1 space at Barclaycard Arena, Birmingham, UK.

The Barclaycard Arena in Birmingham, UK, has launched B1, a new intimate layout, to attract smaller events.

The venue pioneered the reduced capacity arena concept in 2004. Since then, Barclaycard Arena has seen increased competition entering the marketplace.

“We reviewed the market, and there is a gap between smaller venues and arena level venues,” said Guy Dunstan, general manager of Barclaycard Arena. “About 15 years ago, we launched the Academy format, which bridges this gap. We recently did another review of the marketplace, and B1 was the result.”

Based on feedback from promoters and clients, the new option gives a greater degree of choice, control and affordability. This layout can be flexed in either direction from 2,500 up to 5,000 capacities, for a standing or seated audience. 

“The Academy concept we introduced proved extremely popular, so much so, that over the last decade many other venues have adopted our original approach,” said Charlotte Smith, the arena’s sales manager.

The focus of B1 is on creating a theatre environment within the arena. This will be accomplished by bringing the stage into the front row seating tier and addressing the high roof line using lighting and objects to draw the eye line down. The arena’s in-house team will perform the turnaround with rigging and staging. Dunstan says the turnaround can be accomplished overnight.

“We developed the B1 brand to create another identity, so when people book the venue, the format will create the perception of a theatre,” said Dunstan. “The key is to maximize the venue.” In terms of the rental, the entry level rate will be in line with smaller venues to attract the same level of business.

Situated in the heart of the UK in Birmingham’s city centre, B1 is named to reflect the venue’s postcode. 

“The Midlands is the strongest entertainment market outside of London,” said Smith. “What makes us different from the traditional academy venues is that we can integrate the facilities of a world-class arena with an intimate design, giving artists and promoters the flexibility to scale a show up or down to suit their needs.”

“They are not limited to the one layout option, and this can be altered at any point before their event,” she said. “Having fully flexible formats are key in this industry, so the greater the layout and package options we can provide for our customers, the greater the chance of them booking with us and maximizing our programming schedule.” 

The arena also will offer a plug-and-play option that takes care of the artists’ production needs, and has installed a new private artist tunnel that enables direct movement between the dressing room and stage to maintain the intimate feel of the venue. In addition, the inclusive event package covers rigging, security, ticketing and event marketing support.

“We identified a gap in the market for an event space between theatre and arena level, so we have created a modern, alternative space that will cater for this market demand,” said Smith. “We have seen a steady increase in interest compared to 2016. We’ve also witnessed a potential area of growth in the theatre, comedy and corporate genres.”

“The arena is already doing 150 performances per year, but we’re getting a good level of interest from clients with the new smaller format,” said Dunstan. 

 

 


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Palm Beach Opens New Spring Training Facility
 
Posted: 7 Mar 2017, 5:00 pm

Rendering of The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches, Fla.

Forget the model of a parking lot connected to a spring training baseball stadium with team facilities tucked away from the fans. That all changes with the Feb. 28 opening of the $144-million, 160-acre The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches in West Palm Beach, Fla., the new spring home of the Houston Astros and Washington Nationals.

“We have learned a lot about how to best choreograph the highest and best training experience for the teams and players, as well as the fans,” said Fred Ortiz, lead designer on the project for HKS. “We placed the components in a smart way to create highly engaging and memorable experiences for the fans.”

Part of the design involves moving the main stadium into the center of the largest spring training site in Major League Baseball and then positioning team facilities to the north and south of that. Instead of moving parking away from those facilities, Ortiz put the parking near the team areas so fans move through the training facilities to “engage the players as quickly as possible.”

“We tried to bring the really fun stuff to the forefront and celebrate the game right at the center,” he said.

A former vacant land full of trash that required soil remediation, HKS created a gradual ascension into the site. The rise through the site gives fans a 14-foot-tall vantage at concourse level once they reach the 7,800-capacity stadium, allowing fans to walk down into their seats.

The 12 practice fields, six for each team—the Astros have one with the exact dimensions of Minute Maid Park in Houston and the Nationals have two that mirror the layout of Nationals Park in Washington, D.C.—sit to the east and west and can easily partition off from the rest of the site for community use at this publicly-owned facility.

All through the site, from the agility fields, four-lane resistance pool outside the Nationals’ clubhouse, playground, community plaza, city park and 1.75-mile walking path, Ortiz created berms as bridges, “allowing us to create great vantage points or framing views to the next platform.” The style created mini-destinations throughout the complex, all the time connecting fans to the players.

“There is more to spring training than just the game, there is a lot more we want to celebrate,” said Mo Stein, principal in charge for HKS. “There are all sorts of opportunities to experience the game, whether from your seat, the concourse, a berm or watching practice fields. The minute you park your car, you are in baseball and have a baseball experience no matter where you are and how you do it.”

Each team approached its space differently, putting specific team culture on display, such as in how they laid out the clubhouse and amenities. For example, the Astros have one giant weight room, while they split the batting tunnels between major and minor league players and the Nationals shared batting and agility, but split into two weight rooms and dining areas.

“When it comes time to deliver how you do your work, that workplace design is as important in baseball as it is in corporate offices,” Stein said.

The stadium itself features 6,440 fixed seats in the bowl, an outfield berm ideal for 1,000 and room for another 300 fans on two party decks and in the party suites. Mix in some box seats and Stein said the stadium offers a variety of experiences.

In terms of creating revenue on site, HKS approached it twofold, both for the teams and the facility owners. Team kiosks supplement a large team store and concessions feature a variety of foods. “There are a lot of sales opportunities to connect with revenue beyond tickets,” Stein said. “I think one of the real opportunities is this is not just a baseball place.”

Stein said the design of the plaza makes it perfect for everything from concerts to arts and craft events, to even car shows. With ample parking, concessions that can support either the plaza area or the ballfields and plenty of restrooms, the design of the complex serves spring training baseball, tournaments or anything else the city and county can imagine to put on site.

The site includes a large plaza designed for public events with concessions that can open year-round. “It all works for an event inside the bowl or an event outside the bowl,” he said. “It is not just revenue for 35 days a year, but the potential for 12 months.”

By merging fan engagement into the design from the parking lot on in, MLB’s newest—and largest—spring training facility offers a fresh perspective on complex design.


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Olympics Ink Mobile Deal
 
Posted: 6 Mar 2017, 6:00 pm

Closing ceremonies at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, British Columbia. (Photo courtesy of Canadian Olympic Committee/Jason Ransom)

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

Discovery Communications and Eurosport have announced the creation of a new exclusive Olympic Games partnership opportunity for mobile operators to deliver every moment of action to their customers through the launch of the first “Official Mobile Broadcaster” product.

Discovery Communications and Eurosport, the exclusive TV and multimedia rightsholders for 50 countries and European territories for the 2018-2024 Olympics, are taking advantage of their free-to-air, pay TV, digital and direct-to-consumer services, adding partnerships with other distributors across Europe to bring the Games to more viewers.

The “Official Mobile Broadcaster” will give mobile providers the exclusive opportunity to co-brand with the Olympics and give their customers access to all of the action. The service will offer a 24/7 channel that features the best of the Olympics including real time highlights, top news and exclusive on-demand content.

“For more than 30 years, Discovery has worked with the best partners to provide premium video content for every person, on every platform,” Jean-Briac Perrette, president and CEO of Discovery Networks International, said in a statement. “Sports are particularly powerful in a mobile environment as we are witnessing with the growth of our direct-to-consumer sports streaming service, Eurosport Player. We are excited to form new partnerships with mobile operators to make the Olympic Games more accessible and engaging for a mobile-first audience.”

Discovery is also continuing to invest in a team and platform to deliver the Eurosport Player and Olympic Games viewer experiences. Three months ago, the company announced a partnership with BAMTech.

“Building on Eurosport’s strategy to offer more premium, more local and more exclusive sports, the Eurosport Player provides fans with an all-access pass on any screen,” Ralph Rivera, managing director of Eurosport Digital, said in a statement. “From national to international football, from Grand Slam tennis to the Grand Tours of cycling, from all major winter sports events to the Olympic Winter Games, fans can choose a personalized experience to immerse themselves in every match, every court, every track, every piste, and every bit of the action.”


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Protests Force Cancellations At OC Fair
 
Posted: 3 Mar 2017, 1:00 pm

Logo of Wine Extraordinaire, an event that had to be canceled because of the planned protests nearby.

In the interest of public safety, the OC Fair & Event Center, Costa Mesa, Calif., will be closed March 25-26, despite a last minute move to a new location for the pro-Donald Trump march and rally originally planned to be held on the streets in front of the fairgrounds.

“We are aware that the march organizers have announced that they are moving their event, but it had been promoted as being near the fairgrounds and safety concerns remain,” said Terry Moore, communications director, OC Fair & Event Center.

Last April, a pro-Trump campaign rally at the Pacific Amphitheatre, which is on the OC Fairgrounds, turned violent. The melee led to 17 arrests after Trump supporters and anti-Trump protesters clashed. Protestors broke windows, jumped on top of police cars and blocked traffic before police managed to quell the near-riot.

OC Fair refused to allow another “Make America Great Again” rally to be held on the property this year, but the group that is organizing the event decided to hold the rally on the streets that border the fairgrounds instead.

“When we heard about the new event, we decided the best course of action would be to cancel all the events for the weekend,” said Moore. “We made this decision after conversations with local law enforcement agencies. Last year, the pro-Trump group and the anti-Trump group got into some heated conversations, which turned into confrontations out on the street. Law enforcement had to intervene and enforce the laws and maintain public safety.”

Moore said that the canceled events include the Orange County Wine Society’s Wine Extraordinaire, Crossroads of the West Gun Show and the weekly Orange County Market Place. In addition, Heroes Hall veterans museum, Centennial Farm and the equestrian center will be closed and the farm’s food preservation class was canceled.

The “Make America Great Again March” has since moved its march to Huntington Beach. Organizers expect at least 1,600 people to march in support of Trump and that number does not include hundreds, if not thousands, of anti-Trump protesters expected to appear.

“Safety is our utmost concern,” said OC Fair CEO Kathy Kramer in a statement. “We will work with promoters and organizers to make every effort to reschedule the canceled events. Orange County Market Place will resume its schedule the following week.”

The OC Fair events team is trying to reschedule the canceled events, said Moore. The revenue hit because of the cancellations is still undetermined because OC Fair hasn’t finished the calculations on the revenue loss. “We don’t have a number yet because we are still hoping to reschedule most of the canceled events,” said Moore.

Following last year’s altercation, the OC Fair Board passed several new procedures for events on the property in September. The new policies include requiring event organizers to pay all costs associated with a security plan developed by law enforcement and fairgrounds officials and providing a $2-million insurance policy and not issuing tickets exceeding the venue’s capacity.

One of the affected events is Wine Extraordinaire. Liz Corbett, event chair and director of the Orange County Wine Society (OCWS), which holds the Wine Extraordinaire event, said that she and her team have been working on the event for the last six months.

“We were informed Feb. 22 that the OC Fair was closing based on recommendations from the Orange County Sheriff’s Department, the Costa Mesa Police Department and the State Attorney General’s Office,” said Corbett.

“Kathy (Kramer) and Michelle (Richards, VP of business, OC Fair) called me and were very gracious about it,” she said. “I understand and it’s unfortunate. We thought wine, guns and protestors were not a good combination as well. From a safety aspect, we absolutely agree. I wasn’t there last year, but from what I heard and read, I wouldn’t want to have been there.”

"We are not going to reschedule for this year," said Corbett. “There’s a wine event scheduled for every weekend in California and it’s too late to move ours. We’re going to cut our losses and look forward to the future.”

This would have been the 36th annual Wine Extraordinaire. There were 800-1,000 people expected to attend. “We had 60 wineries and were hoping to get 85 to 100 to join,” said Corbett, adding that they already spent $9,000-$10,000 promoting the event.

In addition, the OCWS will lose the funds that they used to donate to a long list of California colleges and universities. “We lost the money we normally use to provide scholarships to students studying enology, viticulture and culinary arts,” said Corbett.

To date, Orange County Wine Society has donated $549,000. Recipient institutions were Orange Coast College, Costa Mesa; University of California, Davis; Cal Poly, Pomona; Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo; Allan Hancock College, Santa Maria; Cal State University, Fresno and Napa (Calif.) Valley College.

Corbett said that the cancellation will not be a factor in deciding whether to book the OC Fairgrounds for next year’s event.

“It’s a matter of public safety,” said Moore. “We want to keep the community safe.”

 

 

 


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National Western Buys Denver County Fair
 
Posted: 2 Mar 2017, 4:00 pm

Swami Bill's Flea Circus at Denver County Fair

The National Western Stock Show has purchased the Denver County Fair, adding more clout to the long list of fun and entertainment being produced in the Mile High City.

The Denver County Fair has operated on the stock show grounds since it started six years ago, and selling the fair to National Western made financial sense, said Dana Cain, co-owner of the fair.

For years, she and business partner Tracy Weil poured their hearts, souls and money into the Denver County Fair, and it’s time for them to move on.

“It’s kind of bittersweet. There were so many years when it was one of my favorite things in the universe,” Cain said. “Tracy and I created a pretty quirky fair.”

The setback was that Cain and Weil were the sole producers of the event, and selling it to National Western made good financial and production sense, considering the number of people employed by the stock show.

“We just can’t afford to keep paying for the fair. We’re not a big operation. The National Western Stock Show is a big operation and they know what they’re doing,” Cain said.

National Western Stock Show & Complex President and CEO Paul Andrews feels his staff is in a perfect position to take over the fair.

“It’s an event, so we really purchased the property rights, the website, the trademark and all of the things that come with operating an event,” he said.

National Western now will have three big annual events with the new transaction — the National Western Stock Show in January, the Rodeo All Stars in April and the Denver County Fair in July.

“Those are three events that my staff can do at a very high level, and they’re spread out for sponsorships,” Andrews said. The financials of the deal are not being released, he noted.

The stock show complex has been a staple venue in Denver since 1908 and continues to expand. The complex is growing from 15 to 20 acres of land, and will have a new livestock center, a new equestrian center with 1,000 permanent stalls, a new 46,000-sq.-ft. expo hall and a new arena that will have 10,000 seats with 40 suites.

The construction will be done in phases, and the complex will be under construction during the 2018 National Western Stock Show, Andrews said. “We will not have to pause the show,” he said, noting that they’re not about to miss a year, especially since the stock show has been around for so long without ever canceling. The hope is to break ground early next year, Andrews said earlier this year.

The expansion includes 1,800,000 sq. ft. of improvements, with Phase 1 scheduled for completion in 2017. The New National Western site is part of the old site. Some buildings will be retained, but the stockyards will be taken out, new livestock facilities will be built, and the replacement stockyards will be removable to become an entertainment zone for concerts the rest of the year. The venues are multipurpose and will be converted for the Denver County Fair.

Most fairs have a huge livestock portion, and the National Western Stock Show already caters to livestock. Andrews said the fair will accommodate animals that can be raised in the Denver Metro Area such as chickens and rabbits.

“A county fair is really a celebration of the county in which you reside,” he said, adding that the Denver County Fair in July will have pie-cooking competitions and more. “We’re also looking at bringing an amusement park.”

Andrews is hoping that he and his team can help bring fair attendance numbers up. In its peak years — 2011 and 2014 — roughly 20,000 people attended the Denver County Fair. That number dropped significantly in 2016, Cain said.

In 2014, recreational marijuana became legal in Colorado, so Cain and Weil opted to have a cannabis pavilion at the fair. It was wildly popular that year, but did not do as well the following years as cannabis events continued to grow throughout the state.

Andrews said he will not be doing the cannabis pavilion at all under the new ownership.


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Kemper Arena Becoming Youth Sports Destination
 
Posted: 2 Mar 2017, 3:00 pm

A six-lane, 350-meter indoor track — pictured here in an artist's rendering — is among the list of improvements planned for Kemper Arena, Kansas City, Mo. (Image courtesy of Foutch Brothers LLC)

The 43-year-old Kemper Arena in Kansas City, Mo., will gain new life as a youth sports complex, thanks to a deal brokered between the city and a private developer.

In February, the City Council of Kansas City voted to authorize the sale of Kemper Arena to Foutch Brothers LLC. The price: $1. The arrangement will save taxpayer dollars and open the door for future economic development, said Chris Hernandez, communications director for the city.

"This is a good deal for us because we're currently spending about $1 million a year just on maintenance for a facility that is rarely used," he said. He later added that demolishing the building would have cost about $10 million.

The new owner's budget to renovate the building is set at $30 million. The developer will meet that cost with a combination of tax credits, private investor contributions and funds from its own coffers, said Julie Rischer, general manager at Foutch Brothers.

The city won't be contributing any money to the project, making Foutch Brothers responsible for securing the funds. However, the private developer will receive a 100-percent property tax abatement for 10 years and a 50-percent abatement for several years afterward, Hernandez said. With the city council's approval in hand, Foutch Brothers can finish seeking historic tax credits from the state to help support the project, he added.

Foutch Brothers has ambitious plans for the arena, which opened in 1974. For starters, they plan to install a second floor at the natural break between the existing upper and lower seating bowls. This modification will add another 52,000 square feet to the venue. When completed, the venue will be able to seat 8,000-10,000, Rischer said. Both floors will feature a  hardwood maple court. Together, they can host as many as 12 collegiate-size basketball courts and 18 tournament-size volleyball courts, she said.

"In addition to those two stories, we're also going to have a running track at the top of the seating section," she said, adding that an existing platform will be expanded to accommodate the six-lane, 350-meter indoor track.When renovations are completed, the facility will host a diverse range of sports, including volleyball, football, basketball, archery, wrestling, cheerleading, dance and gymnastics, Rischer said. The venue will get a new name to go along with the facelift. Mosaic Life Care purchased the naming rights to the facility, and the health care provider will offer telehealth services from one of the venue's retail spaces, she said.

The rechristened Mosaic Arena is expected to draw regional and out-of-state youth tournaments. This will make it an economic driver in the West Bottoms neighborhood of Kansas City, which is already "undergoing its own kind of renaissance," Hernandez said.

This potential for economic growth was another reason the sale was appealing to the city. As families come to the arena for youth tournaments, they'll be tempted to explore the other amenities within walking distance, Hernandez said. "We really see a symbiotic effect here," he added.

On its own accord, Mosaic Arena will have an array of amenities to keep parents and families occupied during long tournaments. It will include retail spaces, a bar and dining facilities. Developers also plan to include a "fun zone" for younger children and interactive kiosks equipped with educational modules and wayfinding information, Rischer said.

"We could almost call it a sports mall because it's more of a destination versus a training facility or tournament facility," Rischer said. The renovated venue will also feature amenities for both work as well as play. It will include co-working spaces, which are rentable by the day, and business spaces available for long-term lease, she added.

Construction is scheduled to start in May, and the renovated arena is slated to be open by May or June of 2018, Rischer said.

City officials have high hopes for the venue and its contributions to the local economy. "It's going to bring a lot of new life to that neighborhood," Hernandez said, adding, "It's really an excellent deal, and it's the kind of thing we've been looking for."


 


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TOURING LIVE AFTER DEATH
 
Posted: 1 Mar 2017, 8:35 pm

Ronnie James Dio rocked stages across the globe for more than five decades, thrilling millions with his towering, opera-inspired vocals and heavy metal thunder. Sadly, his operatic wail was muted in 2010 when the hard rock icon succumbed to stomach cancer at age 67.
It was the end of an era for the former singer for the groups Elf, Rainbow, Black Sabbath, Dio and Heaven & Hell. But not the end of his performing career. In one of the most ambitious live hologram efforts to date, Jeff Pezzuti and his team at Eyellusion plan to take an incredibly lifelike, interactive Dio on tour around the world.
“We took our time with it,” Pezzuti said of the care taken in building the resurrected Dio. The hologram’s debut last summer at Germany’s Wacken festival, and a command performance at the Pollstar Awards in January 2017, impressed audiences who got to see the singer move across the stage and interact with them in a way no holographic image had before.
“Him waving the Wacken banner was my idea,” Pezzuti said of the iconic moment when Dio — who collected banners throughout his life — waved the German event’s official flag to a roar from the crowd of faithful. “When we were creating the content, Wendy [Dio, the singer’s widow] and I were talking about how to bring it home, and we thought that made sense. That was one way Wendy thought we could make it feel like this is happening now. When he waved it and said ‘Wacken, you rock!’ people were like ‘holy f—k!’”
Longtime agent Andrew Goodfriend said he got involved in the upcoming tour at the urging of Wendy Dio and Pezzuti because he was a longtime Dio fan, but also because of the unique challenge of the technological feat. “They talked about touring the hologram for the world and there have been touring hologram’s before, but never of a person like this,” he said of the dynamic digital Dio.
Reviews for Wacken were so good, because, Goodfriend said, instead of previous events featuring animated characters – like the cameo from rapper Tupac Shakur at Coachella in 2012 and Michael Jackson at the 2014 Billboard Awards — this is a real person that moves and sounds like Dio.
As he was in his debut, the reconfigured touring Dio will be backed by his live band, Dio Disciples, plus some backup singers. “We’re bringing the experience of someone who is no longer with us and putting his real band members up there. People couldn’t believe what they were seeing. There were people crying… excited because they never got to see Ronnie before,” Goodfriend said.
When he was with the Agency Group, Goodfriend had worked with Dio, and when he saw the performance at the Pollstar event, he was sold. “I was amazed,” he said. “It made the hair on my arms stand up. It is very much the live experience.”
Because the metal community is so fiercely loyal, Pezzuti and Wendy Dio were determined to make the experience feel very authentic. The visual trick is, like Tupac and Jackson, what’s called a Pepper’s Ghost, a classic illusion in which an image is reflected off a 45-degree sheet of clear material. “What’s different with this is — what I call Ronnie 2.0 —  unlike those one-offs, this is a dynamic performance like he gave in his heyday, complete with lights and pyro.”
Pezzuti said his team is focused on creating content for the tour that will allow the Dio image to use the whole stage, though he said he could not divulge all the tricks used to make the movement as seamless as possible. “We will set the bar for touring and bringing back a legacy artist to be part of the current discussion,” he promised.
While Pezzuti declined to discuss the cost of creating the image or licensing the music, he said one advantage his team has is that they have access to all the audio ever recorded by Dio thanks to Wendy’s deep archives. “We can use anything he’s said in the past, the actual audio and take isolated vocal tracks and live tracks and interactions with the audience,” he said. Cue “Hello Cleveland!”
That means the Dio hologram can sing or say anything the deceased singer uttered over the course of his whole career, cut together, reconfigured and spliced into a seamless soundtrack that will feel like a real live concert, with no pre-recorded musical tracks. Because Wendy Dio handles the singer’s estate and is a partner in the tour, rights clearances were relatively easy. But Pezzuti thinks the sales pitch to other managers and labels is a pretty simple one: “People know that live music is the only way to make money these days, so the minute an artist stops touring, they stop generating significant revenue. This is why we have full support.”
With tickets and routing not yet announced, Goodfriend said prices will be “like any normal touring veteran metal package,” likely starting around $45 up to $100 or more. The difference, he said, is that the singer can never get sick or miss a show and that the entire production fits into a box truck and requires nothing more than standard stage power and a 40 x 40 stage. “So it has to be theaters, standing room or seated, 1,500-4,000 or so,” he said. The tour doesn’t require any special audio or digital set up and the box truck holds all the necessary gear.
At press time, Goodfriend wasn’t sure how many shows the tour will encompass, but it will definitely hit theaters in the U.S. for about five weeks in 2017 before heading overseas, as well as appearances at a few festivals, with no promotion partners determined as yet. “The [gross potential] is limitless right now on this, and I think Eyellusion is at the forefront of a movement. We’re proud to have Ronnie as part of that,” he said, noting that he’s open to working with any and every promotions partner who is interested.
The 90-100 minute hit-packed show with songs from throughout Dio’s career is being marketed as “Dio Returns” and Goodfriend said the target audience is typical metal fans, as well as music lovers who never got to see the singer live during his years on the road. Goodfriend said his main focus right now is on the Dio show, but he’s open to exploring the concept with other artists as well. “I think this can definitely be a new revenue stream and it could be something that changes our industry,” he said.
While there is no cookie-cutter approach to licensing the rights for this kind of tour, Pezzuti said his team works with management and estate representatives, who, so far, appear to understand the “great financial opportunity” inherent in continuing to tour a legacy artist at a time when traditional radio play is uncertain and album sales are on the decline. “We show them [management] the demo — built by music industry experts on our team from the live and recorded world — and we bring them in the studio and show them how we take it to the next level,” he said.
As for the cost of creating the illusion, Pezzuti said “it’s a lot less than you’d expect,” though he would not give specifics other than to say it’s in the moderate “six-figure range.” The upside is that it is a one-time investment and there is no dollar-for-dollar or per-second cost to run the hologram once it’s on the road. “The most important cost is the asset creation, which is the hardest part to do,” he said. “After the investment to build the asset from a revenue perspective, you can tour it for as many shows as you can and make money hand over fist.”
Another bonus is that the set up of the hologram is relatively quick and only takes two or three people to complete, with Pezzuti saying that Dio essentially “lives on a hard drive.” While a raft of other promised holographic tours from the likes of Billie Holiday, Notorious B.I.G., Whitney Houston and Selena have yet to fully materialize, Pezzuti promised “we’ll be doing a bunch of different ones… there are a lot in the works.”
Longtime close Dio friend and veteran promoter Danny Zelisko said he’d book the show if it’s even half as good as what he’s seen so far. “I haven’t seen this live in action yet… I’ve only seen video of it, but it looks really amazing,” he said. “If people are going to go out and spend money and time to see a tribute act, why not see a real live band — in this case Dio’s band – and they’re using state-of- the-art vocals that he himself sang, and you get to see his image? I think that beats a tribute group by far, not by a little.”
Given how far the technology has come and his enduring affection for his friend, Zelisko said he’d love to see the metal icon on stage again. And, as Pezzuti and Goodfriend noted, it’s also a chance for younger fans who never got a chance to experience Dio in the flesh to get another shot. “It’s not the same as him being there, but it’s the next best thing,” he said, noting that his fellow board members on Dio’s Stand Up and Shout Cancer charity are all excited as well because it’s another chance to raise money for the cause.


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FROM THE EDITOR
 
Posted: 1 Mar 2017, 8:00 pm

This issue of Venues Today introduces our repositioned Ops + Security section. It is sort of scary. Undeniably, sports and entertainment venues are in the crosshairs for terrorists. I’d prefer that weren’t the case, and day-to-day, it is business as usual, but there is that underlying awareness.
Future stories will look at drones as a security threat. In researching the story, I’ve discovered there are companies specializing in identifying, neutralizing and capturing drones. Did you know Dutch police are training eagles to take out illegal drones? Some are “training” good drones to fight bad drones, with the capability of flying over an unwelcome drone and dropping a net to “capture” it.
Most of us think of drones in the hands of hobbyists or military. But there is that in between. Drones are even a cyber security threat. A properly-armed drone flying past your office window can steal your data.
Send us your security tips and triumphs as we continue to track the latest in operations and security protocols. It will make us all stronger.
We also singled out Technology with this issue of Venues Today. It’s a topic that is always top of mind in every industry today. It’s interesting to note we have one story on how technology enhances the experience, like using cellphones as an opportunity for fans to participate in a synchronized light show during the concert or to buy tickets or to order food. The fan with the cellphone is an identifiable friend to operators of venues.
But another story documents  how obsessive use of smartphones is an annoyance to performers on stage and other ticket buyers in the seating bowl. You’re at a LIVE event people. Watch the show.
A San Francisco company called Yondr manufactures a locked case that can be used to stop cellphone use inside the theater. It’s something comedians, in particular, are beginning to insist upon and solves the liability and PR problem of asking patrons to give up their cellphones before entering the show. They keep them; they just can’t use them unless they step outside.
Live entertainment is ever evolving, both the creative and the business aspects. Patrons today have different tastes and triggers that providers are seeking to satiate.
Talking to Randy Bloom, who is the general manager of Smart Financial Centre, Sugar Land, Texas, which is also featured in this issue, the subject of change came up because of the circus. Randy practically grew up on the circus where his dad, Allen, was an executive with Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus.
“I have so much love for that brand, the history and what it means as a community and what it means as a cultural icon in America,” Randy said as we discussed the decision to take RBBB off the road. “I don’t really believe that it’s over. The expression when I was a kid was ‘ever-changing and never-changing.’ Getting that cocktail right of what needs to change when and keeping it the Greatest Show on Earth is the challenge. I have to think there is a future for the Greatest Show on Earth with Feld Entertainment.”
God grant you many years to get the cocktail right.


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LOCK ‘EM UP
 
Posted: 1 Mar 2017, 8:00 pm

As artists work to keep their work exclusive in a highly visible cellphone era, venues are starting to crack down on the use of mobile devices at concerts, comedy shows and even in restaurants.
How does one go about eliminating cell phone use at shows? The answer is to lock them up so that mobile users can’t access them. Concertgoers might find this annoying, but venue operators find it incredibly useful — not only to keep entertainers happy but also to give customers a more “real” experience of the performances they witness.
A San Francisco, Calif.-based company called Yondr found a way to eliminate smartphone use at shows by putting devices in lockable cases. Once audience members enter a venue, they are given a choice of three different-sized cases in which they place their phones. The cases lock the cell phones inside, and they can only be opened if the smartphone user steps outside the “no cell phone” zone inside the seating area.
Comedy Works in Denver, Colo., utilizes Yondr at every show today, said owner Wende Curtis. But it didn’t happen by default. Originally, it was dictated to Comedy Works by comedian Dave Chappelle that the comedy club was required to use the cases. Chappelle became a Yondr client early on.
“It came off the top of the deal,” Curtis said.
To her surprise, it not only worked at eliminating crowds from recording his comedy skit and putting it on YouTube or Vimeo, but it also improved crowd experience.
If someone needs to make a call in the middle of a show, they simply walk out of the no cell phone zone and tap it on an unlocking device, pull the phone out of the case and use it.  The goal is twofold: To cut down on people posting video — whether it be to Facebook Live or YouTube for example — of artists who want to introduce new material at a show and don’t want it readily available online and to get venue customers’ eyes off their cell phones and onto the live performance they attend.
Yondr founder Graham Dugoni invented the lockable cases after finding that smartphone use was taking away from the concert experience.
“I started to feel that a lot of what’s happening in the modern world was this discrepancy between the way life is being lived and the role of technology,” Dugoni said.
Thus, Yondr was born. Dugoni’s invention started with visits to the hardware stores, trying to mold the perfect product to accomplish the goal of cracking down on smartphone use at shows.
Despite how addicted consumers are to their phones, Dugoni found that people liked his idea.
For venues that opt to utilize Yondr, it’s important that tickets and websites that are selling seats make it clear, in print that cellphone use is not allowed.
Success depends on the personnel that work a show. Oftentimes, Yondr will send company representatives to help with the cases, but more often than not, Yondr just trains staff that already monitors the entrances and exits at venues.
“They let us know when, where and how many cases are needed,” Dugoni said. “Most venues are able to supply their own venue staff. The process is so simple that you don’t need specialized staff.”
Comedy Works has two locations in the Denver-metro area — one downtown and the other on the south end of Denver. Yondr is offered at both locations. The south club has a ballroom on the third floor, and the director of the ballroom became so “miffed” at employees using their phones while serving customers that she purchased 30 Yondr cases that her staff has to use while working so they can focus on customer service.
“When they punch in, they lock up their phones,” Curtis said.
Curtis actually had an opportunity to use the Yondr cases as a member of a crowd rather than a venue operator recently when she saw Chris Rock at the Bellco Theater in Denver. Chris Rock only will perform at venues that use Yondr.
“Yondr was there, and I knew Yondr was there,” Curtis said. “And, wow! I was present. I’m so ADD that I’m absolutely that person who would pull it out and use it,” she said. “My life was not devastated the least bit by not having that stinking phone on.”
Curtis believes that such locking devices will continue to gain momentum and popularity among venue operators, especially as it relates to protecting artists’ material.
“They don’t want their stuff out there. They don’t want it recorded and put on YouTube. I think venues are there to accommodate artists, and I think the audience will shuffle along.”
Dugoni said his locking cases have been used by a large chunk of venues in the United States and internationally. He started the business in 2014, and he now employs 10 people and expects that number to grow.
Another amazing aspect of locking up smartphones is that alcohol sales increase four to six percent at venues that use Yondr, he said.
“I think it’s a time thing. If they’re not looking at their phones, they drink,” Dugoni said.
Schools also are starting to use the locking cases to keep kids focused on their work.
As Dugoni continues to grow his business, other industries will catch on, Curtis said.
Many of Yondr’s clients are comedy clubs that are required to use the cases if an artist agrees to perform.
The Gramercy Theater in New York City recently purchased Yondr, and the Durham Performing Arts Center in Durham, N.C., used the cases when Chris Rock performed at the venue.
The business is kind of a chicken and an egg model, meaning word of mouth between artists and venues is what gives Yondr it’s big push.
“Initially it was driven through the artists. We’ll do shows along a tour and the venues will circle back,” Dugoni said.


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LET THEM EAT LOBSTER ROLL
 
Posted: 1 Mar 2017, 8:00 pm

Food is a much bigger part of the concessions equation than Ronnie Smienk, director of food and beverage at Smart Financial Centre, Sugar Land, Texas, for Spectrum Catering & Concessions, had anticipated.
With a background in clubs and bars, he expected drink sales to drown out food per usual. He’d noted it was very rare, in all of his days with clubs, to hit a $1 per cap on food. At the new theater outside Houston, it hit $2.50 per person on food alone for the opening two shows by Jerry Seinfeld. That was on a $10-per-cap show, Smienk said, meaning 25 percent of sales was food rather than drink.
“Food sales surprised me tremendously,” he said. “We have continuously been between $1 and $1.75. We haven’t hit under a dollar yet.”
Last month, he brought Chef Greg King in to work on more food offerings. King comes from Spectrum’s tour catering division with Cirque du Soleil.
Spectrum is also hard at work finishing its new permanent kitchen (they are currently working outside in a tent) so they can accommodate more food sales at the theater.
Inside the venue, Spectrum is operating with 80 points of sale, of which 78 are at fixed concessions. The two portables include a coffee cart for Rockin’ & Roastin’ Organic Coffee (the creation of Aerosmith Drummer Joey Kramer and a sponsor of Smart Financial Centre) and a food cart for items that are not conducive to sales at every concessions stands. “We want to keep it fresh,” Smienk said.
For a sold out show of 6,400 people, he schedules 60-75 bartenders front of house and an additional 10-20 food runners/barbacks to replenish the stands.
All food and drink is serviced via a 30 X 40 ft. tent out back, not attached to the building. That can make it challenging to deliver hot and cold food, but they’re used to the drill, since Spectrum has 65 other clients, many of them festivals and golf tournaments served out of tents at volumes greater than this.
“It’s an obstacle we’ve overcome and will maintain,” Smienk said. “The permanent kitchen isn’t attached to the building either.”
The new permanent kitchen will be slightly bigger, 60 X 53 ft., Smienk said. It’s set up similar to any major hotel that services 1,800 rooms, with four large Combi Ovens, two convection ovens, skillets, fryers, countertop griddles, and, coming soon, a smoker. Smienk is particularly looking forward to having a large walk-in refrigerator and large walk-in freezer in the permanent kitchen.
“That’s the biggest difference from working in a tent — the walk-in coolers,” he said. “Currently, our biggest struggle is storage — refrigeration and freezer. In the venue, we have three main bars downstairs in the lobby, and every lobby bar has a kitchen area with a walk-in cooler and a can cooler. We were able to share that with front of house. But we don’t have large freezer space. It’s a science to plan ahead and figure out the numbers we’re going to do.”
It’s not just concessions food that is coming out of that very busy tent out back. They are also preparing food for 14 suites, each seating 20 people, and the backstage crew, a group that can number from 20 to 120 depending on the show for up to three meals a day.
“Any night, we might have 14 different menus to execute for those suites, in addition to crew catering and, of course, the regular concessions. Coordinating that has been the biggest challenge,” Smienk said.
Smienk sees the potential to hit an average 15/85 food to drink ratio when everything is in place. To date, food is about eight percent of overall sales. “Our per caps are higher here than at other venues with the same shows,” Smienk added.
But he wouldn’t quantify offerings, other than crew catering, as meal servings. “It’s concessions food with a twist,” he said. “We have our own version of a pretzel stick, with Budweiser beer cheese sauce.”
Spectrum also offers up a lobster roll one wouldn’t find in most theaters. And a slider trio — pulled pork, beer can chicken and beef brisket. In the concessions stands, patrons find all-beef jumbo hot dogs (1/4), fried chicken fingers with duck fat-fried kettle chips.
Spectrum sources everything local, “except it’s Maine lobster,” Smienk said, adding that they chose the lobster roll as a signature dish because it does well at their golf tournaments. “It’s something people don’t expect. We sell out of it mostly every night. The food cost is fairly high though - $3 each. It goes well with a glass of wine.”
The biggest seller in the food category is the 30-ounce box of popcorn for $6. Tito’s vodka, a Texas brew, is the main seller on the bar side.
Smienk has also been experimenting with themed drinks based on the genre of the show. “It started with Billy Crystal; we did the City Slicker — Absolut vodka, triple sec, cranberry and lime.” It was quick to make and sold for $12. For Bill Maher, they offered PC Punch. The featured cocktail is marketed on menu boards at points of sale.
Patrons at Smart Financial Center tend to gravitate toward bigger servings more than single servings. “It’s a seated venue, so people don’t want to get up in the middle of the show and get a refill,” he said. “Double servings outsell singles, and the patron gets a pretty decent discount.”
Future plans as concessions service shakes out at the new theater is to look at more distribution of food and to reconfigure the set up for condiment stations. Another food cart is also likely.
Spectrum Catering & Concessions handles food service in 65 venues, most of them in the U.S., some in Canada. Festivals, crew catering for major tours (including Cirque du Soleil), and theaters and clubs dominate their portfolio.
Those clients included theaters run by Ace Theatricals and since bought by Ambassador Theatre Group, which was the door through which they entered Smart Financial Center.

 

CONCESSIONS BY THE NUMBERS

Average per cap: $14
Highest per cap: $24.50 (Dave Matthews Band)
Lobster Roll: $16
Jumbo Hot Dog: $5.50
Popcorn: $6
Points of sale: 80

 


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THE BECKER TOUCH: AT THE CENTRE OF LIVE
 
Posted: 1 Mar 2017, 8:00 pm

Opening a first-class, flexible, financially viable theater in his own hometown is a dream come true for Gary Becker, Ace SL LLC, which invested heavily in and now operates Smart Financial Centre, Sugar Land, Texas.
His pride in the new venue, which has taken Houston by storm, is palpable. When the Becker family, including Gary’s dad Allen and brother Brian, sold their sports and entertainment company, Pace Entertainment, to Bob Sillerman and SFX, there was a disconnect, he admits. Through Pace people, including Brian, ran SFX for several years, it was flipped to Clear Channel and then spun off as Live Nation and the Beckers continued to run Ace Theatricals, which included operating classic venues like the Majestic Theatre in San Antonio and Saenger Theatre in New Orleans. Then they renovated Kings Theatre in Brooklyn, N.Y. Two years ago, they sold those theater operations to Ambassador Theatre Group out of the U.K.
“So to be involved in a project in your hometown in which you can have ‘the Becker touch,’ is great,” Becker said. “The environment around here is the way it was when we had Pace.”
“The Becker touch is how the people see the business and see their job.”
The Becker name has a big impact with the city of Sugar Land, he admitted. “We’ve been around. I’m not bragging; we have 160 years of experience as a family.”
This project started in October 2009. “In 2011-12, we are starting to actively book our theaters with contemporary music and we’re starting to preach Sugar Land,” Becker recalled. They were letting the agents know there is a new opportunity in the city of Houston.
That same year, the Beckers sold all their other theater properties to Ambassador Theatre Group. “It was an unsolicited offer. We liked them; there’s a great relationship there. Sugar Land could very well be a part of that ownership group as well.” The changeover is likely next year, pending city approval.
“Today, we are focused on one venue in a great market that happens to be our hometown,” Becker said with obvious delight. “We all have the same business, butts in seats. The way the business and artist deals have changed, we’re in the business to park cars and sell beer and sell popcorn. We make more money doing that than on selling tickets. It’s just the way the artist deals are.”
“This is the last hurrah,” Becker joked of his family’s empire. “We’re building the last one in Maui. It’s going to seat eight people. I think it’s going to be a tent, but the view is going to be great.”


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SMART FINANCIAL CENTRE - THE SMARTEST, MOST FLEXIBLE THEATER AROUND
 
Posted: 1 Mar 2017, 7:00 pm

The numbers tell the story. The $85 million, 6,400-seat Smart Financial Centre, Sugar Land, Texas, is off the charts successful, regularly hosting sellout shows and booked every weekend non-stop since its Jan. 14 debut.
“My vision, the people’s vision, is we have to be better and cooler than anyone else,” said Gary Becker, the managing member of the project for the Becker family, who helped fund it. “When you walk in the building, you see an environment that Houston has never had. There are probably venues like this and things other venues have, but Houston has never seen it.”
Smart Financial Centre has a beautiful proscenium stage, 6,400 seats, and walls that move in and curtains that descend to create a more intimate venue setting, down to 1,900 seats. The intimacy for the smaller configurations is the same as at 6,400, Becker said.


Acoustics was a main concern for Smart Financial Centre. LD Systems is the technical partner; L’Acoustics II is the sound system used. Randy Bloom, GM of Smart Financial Centre, has witnessed the phenomenon show after show.
“Dave Matthews stayed on stage longer than he ever does, he liked the sound so much,” Bloom said. “I always knew the sound would be good to great, but when Don Henley looks you in the face and says this is one of the most awesome sounding places he’s ever been, that hits you. Kristen Chenoweth put her mic down her last song or two and performed unamplified. Reba McEntire was raving about how great the sound was.”
Bloom recalled the first time he heard the acoustics during early sound checks. “When you hear something that good and don’t know what you’ve been missing all your life, it hits you in the gut.”
The feel of the room goes well beyond great sound. Becker talked about the proscenium stage, the in-house video, six spotlights, rigging for 300,000 pounds, the full 80-line set system for Broadway, the orchestra pit that hydraulically moves up and down. “We have all the bells and whistles for all different types of venues of this size,” Becker said.
And they did it on budget — $85 million. The Beckers invested $60 million through lease payments and investments to cover revenue bonds. None of it is tax money, Becker said. “The city has gone way overboard. They built the parking lot, the plaza with lighting and water fountains.”
But how do you value your time? “We’ve been doing this for seven years,” Becker said, of the effort it took to get the teahteropen.
Smart Financial Centre’s operating budget is $6 million, which includes the payment to the city.  Soft construction costs came in at $9 million. Admittedly, some things had to be engineered out as they crunched numbers. Originally, the building was designed to be 230,000 sq. ft., but came in at 200,000. “We had a $5 million ceiling we engineered out. We sharpened some pencils,” Becker said.
When the public voted on building the theater, 76-78 percent of the people approved it, but that was nine years ago. Costs escalated. No tax money but some tourist money goes into the pot. “We personally guaranteed it, putting cash in the bank to cover it,” Becker said. “They will always have three years of payment in the bank. We’re committed. The city’s committed. We’re all committed.”
“We don’t say arena,” Becker said of Smart Financial Centre. “We’re a proscenium theater that has the ability to move walls and drop curtains.”
Smart Financial Centre is partnering on the big shows with Live Nation. “They’ve done a great job for us,” Becker said. The Beckers are both working with promoters — all promoters — and managers. From their decades of promoting concerts, they have strong relationships in the industry.
Live Nation has Cynthia Woods Pavilion at The Woodlands, but that’s 80-90 minutes away from Sugar Land and “only 2.5 percent of their audience comes from this county, so people in this part of Houston are not going to the amphitheater,” Becker added.
In fact, no other venue truly serves the niche Smart Financial Centre now occupies. It’s a tough to afford the artist at 3,000 seats, but at 6,000, it’s a slam dunk.
Martin Short and Steve Martin were set for 4,600-capacity, Becker said of the original booking. Sales were strong and they raised the curtain, opened up the balcony and sold out at 6,400. “The market has not seen something like this; we’re selling lots of tickets,” Becker said. “Jerry Seinfeld sold 12,000 tickets in one day.”
Flexibility is a hallmark for Smart Financial Centre, and that’s not just the seating configurations. Maxim booked the theater for its Super Bowl party. They put a deck over the orchestra seats and turned it into a Vegas club. “We can do anything,” Becker declared.
The new fiscal year begins April 1 and Becker is projecting a minimum of 85 shows. In the first calendar year, they will hit 105 performance days. They are selling to the acts from two directions — either Houston is a two-building play or this act doesn’t belong in an amphitheater, it belongs indoors.
“Jerry Seinfeld played two shows at Jones Hall at Hobby Center [Houston] in August 2014, 3,000 and 3,000,” Becker said. “He comes here and he does 6,000 and 6,000. Billy Crystal is a Jones Hall play, but here, if you do well, you can open the walls.”
It all comes down to the experience in Becker’s opinion. “If the experience is the experience people want to have, they will come.”
Bloom came on board as GM in November 2015 and moved to Sugar Land soon after. The Becker family has been working on this project since 2009. Mike McGee, Barmac Consulting, has been working with the Beckers on this project for three years. Greg Poole was brought over from Toyota Center in Houston to be director of operations last year. Bill Young Presents, also a homegrown
company, was brought in to do the signage. The hometown team in place is experienced, and they know each other.
As of the first of March, Smart Financial Centre had hosted 15 shows and 75,000 patrons. All shows were sold out or close to sold out.
Bloom has only seen one free weekend, and that was because Maxim was moving in for its pre-Super Bowl party, a process that took a week. The result was 4,000 people attending a Las Vegas-style nightclub. “They even completely reconfigured the outside, covering up the box office with roses and a Maxim sign,” Bloom said.
The event was Saturday night. By Monday night, they were back in theater mode and ready for Dancing with the Stars.
“We put six months of life on the building in one evening. Sunday, I came in and it didn’t have that fresh venue smell. Even for a tent guy used to tearing down venues, that was a heck of a feat.” Bloom was referring to his years with the circus as a “tent guy” background.
Flexibility is the mantra at Smart Financial Centre. “We’re attracting shows that would also play arenas, so there are several adjustments to be made. Like where to put the satellite B-stage set up in the audience,” Bloom said. They have risen to every challenge.
“We haven’t turned anything down yet. The Harlem Globetrotters are making inquiries. We’ll figure out a way to make it work. If we could make Maxim work, we can do anything,” he said.
Sponsors have been fantastic partners. Smart Financial, the title sponsor, has its own activation in the building. Mercedes Benz of Sugar Land, Solar Eagle Distributions with Budweiser and Bud Light; Hermann Memorial Hospital; Rockin’ & Roastin’ Coffee, Pepsi and ThinkEnergy are among them.
The venue has 14 suites, priced $120,000 per year, which includes 10 tickets to every show and access to the Mercedes Benz lounge, valet passes and concierge service. The 120 club seats go for a $3,000 seat license for the year, which entitles buyers to purchase their reserved seats for any public performance in the house. The venue offers them a two-week window to activate the buy after the public on-sale.
“Sugar Land and Houston are a small neighborhood so we’re constantly communicating with our customers and finding out what they need and want, and taking care of requests,” Bloom added. “It’s almost like a little country club up there [in the suites and club seats] with a lot of our local notables who all know each other making a weekly party of it.”
Ticket prices vary widely, with the highest in the $250 range, lowest at $10.
Industry reaction has been stellar, Bloom said. “Live Nation is here day in and day out, Bob Roux or Jason Rio; Coren Capshaw was thrilled; Larry Magid had Billy Crystal here the other night.” Larry Seidel, president of Smart Financial, held a brand camp at the theater.
Smart Financial Centre operates with 20 fulltime staff. “They make it happen, from getting Maxim in and out, then Dancing with the Stars,” Bloom said. “It’s one thing to be at a venue, another to turn backflips like this staff has, from one day being an arena, then a small theater. Everyone is doing backflips.”

 

SMART FINANCIAL CENTRE FACTOIDS

Owner: City of Sugar Land
Operator: Ace SL LLC
Suites: 14, 20 seats each, 118 feet from the stage
Club seats: 120, $3,000 license fee
Parking: 2,542 spaces, $15 each
Concessionaire: Spectrum Catering & Concessions
Loading Docks: 11 vehicles plus artist transport
Seating: 6,400 full, 4,500, first stop (walls in and balcony included); 3,000, walls in and curtain down on balcony; 1,900 sold out orchestra (using lighting to black out the rest of the house)
Orchestra Pit Area: 500 standing, 386 seated
Ticketing Partner: Ticketmaster
Housekeeping: Pritchard Sports & Entertainment
Parking: Ace Parking
Security Staffing: Contemporary Services Corp.


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BANISHING BAD EXPERIENCES
 
Posted: 1 Mar 2017, 7:00 pm

Mobile has created an opportunity to advance engagement during the event in ways the industry could not without it. Selling a ticket is, of course, just the start of a fan’s journey, and keeping the fan engaged before, during and after the event was heavily discussed at PACnet ‘17.
“Think about your customer’s journey with you, from parking to concessions to ticketing to the event itself,” suggested David Millay, Disney Institute.
“You can’t control wins and losses, but we can control the fan experience,” said Matt Henderson, University of Iowa, Iowa City. “Someone has to take the lead on fan engagement.”
According to many, customer service all starts with the mobile app or website. “It starts at awareness,” said Rachel Bomeli, Fox Theatre, Atlanta. “Your website, how easy it is to peruse and the purchasing process is important. How easy are we to do business with on mobile? On a desktop? On the phone?”
Bomeli’s biggest idea is a simple one: write everything down. “Determine what it is that needs attention and write it down, determine how you will measure it and commit to it.”
According to Frédéric Gauld, VenueParking, his survey of event-goers in Montreal produced this fact: 26 percent of the people would go to more shows if they could take the hassle out of parking. He suggested outsourcing parking.
Engaging fans should be fun according to Mike Veeck, owner, St. Paul (Minn.) Saints and Charleston (S.C.) RiverDogs. “Fun is good,” he said. “Service drives the experience, which drives the memory.”
Veeck pointed out some out-of-the-box ideas he and his team have tried over the years, like a third-inning pillow fight, and put in the caveat: “Don’t be afraid to fail. If you fail look at why.”
Veeck said he often makes his employees drive to work in the traffic and back home in the traffic so they experience the customer’s experience. He’s also gotten a lot of good feed back from having his employees stand at the gates and talk to people on the way in and on the way out.

IN-VENUE EXPERIENCES
James Kim, Spectra, spoke about all the new ways people can experience a live event through technology. “You have to give them a reason to leave all that,” he said.
“Social media is a key component of keeping the fans involved every step of the way,” said Greg Driscoll, University of Virginia, Charlottesville. “You need a comprehensive social media approach.”
Driscoll rolled off a series of ways to employ social media, such as ‘tweet of the night,’ having fans ask questions of the athletes and playing the responses on YouTube, Instagram contests, photo booths, Snapchat submission contests and encouraging fans to use Facebook Live while at the event. Create FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) for people not there, he said.
Driscoll described how University of Virginia uses 10 to 12 students to moderate their online hub, which is powered by Pac Social.
The PAC Social marketing suite allows Spectra Ticketing & Fan Engagement clients to effectively engage their customers and efficiently manage all of their social channels. The platform enables them to provide rich social media experiences in-venue, on their websites and microsites, and throughout their digital media assets to drive significant fan and customer engagement.
Once the fan is in-venue, Driscoll uses student ambassadors to work the crowd, employs an in-house DJ to keep things lively and cuts to Instagram and tweets during the game.

KEEPING THE VENUE FULL
“We all want to prevent seats from going empty,” said Lisa Langham, Spectra. “We all strive for full stands.”
Eric Childers, Ottawa Sports & Entertainment Group, said that it’s important to give season ticket holders benefits. “They are our bread and butter and commit to multiple games. We have a dedicated fan specialist and five reps who provide touchpoints throughout the year.”
Mike Castle, Georgia Tech, Atlanta,  is a fan of Vet Tix, which is a company that gives away unused seats to veterans. “We love Vet Tix. There’s ease of integration through Spectra. Season ticket holders can do this on the app. And we have no packaging of tickets.”
Post-event engagement is the way to keep the venue full till the end of a game. Suggestions for post-event activities included post game concerts; post game autograph sessions, poster signing at end of game; giveaways like bobbleheads of the players; allowing families to go down to the ice and skate with kids; opening up the field; offering 25 percent off food, beverage and merchandise and even raffling off free TVs and Vespa Scooters.


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EMERGING TECHNOLOGY AND DATA ANALYTICS HAVE CHANGED THE GAME
 
Posted: 1 Mar 2017, 7:00 pm

p._20_John_Wentzell_2017300_.jpgAs president of Spectra Venue Management and Food Services & Hospitality, John Wentzell has found the perfect fit, leveraging his two core competencies. He’s been with Comcast Spectacor for just four months, but he has 30 years of experience. “We have a great opportunity,” said Wentzell, “We’ve got a terrific core book of business, a very passionate team and we’ve grown fast and have opportunity to grow exponentially between what we do and the backing of Comcast.” Venues Today followed up with Wentzell after the community conference.

Spectra is committed to offering clients multiple and integrated services. How does ticketing fit into the process?
It’s one of Spectra’s significant points of difference, the idea we are a company with strong roots in venue management, food services, ticketing and corporate partnerships.

Has technology changed everything?
Being able to be a technology partner to our clients is very important. Technology is the thread that runs through it all.

What technology has had the most impact on the business?
Certainly mobility has been a huge piece. It’s wonderful having Comcast as a parent company and a major business provider from the standpoint of WiFi. The second piece is the capture of data across our businesses.

Thirty years ago, ticketing conversations were about the price. Is price still an issue?
What we’ve learned is not to price all tickets the same, even in the same location. Product differentiation by virtue of packaging, food and beverage, and other components, allowed us to create flexibility. The public tells us what they want to pay by virtue of their actions. It’s ‘prices’ now. You can watch the numbers and make it work.

Is dynamic pricing coming to the music business?
I think there will be an evolution towards that. Ten or twelve years ago, there was apprehension about the concept on the pro sports team side. Now look. There was a significant embracing of that concept in professional sports where the market speaks. I can see that happening to artists as well.

What’s front and center at Spectra Venue Management and Food Services right now?
Orlando City Soccer Club just had their home opener (March 5). That’s a significant new partner for us in food and beverage. It’s our third Major League Soccer stadium (fourth soccer stadium overall) and a growing area. There are more opportunities for food and beverage in major collegiate sports. The programs are more sophisticated with premium seating, and club areas and now alcohol service. There is significant opportunity in the tribal-owned and operated casino space. Fairs are an area that is very unique; I would say there are opportunities there.

What about new content, like e-sports?
E-sports is a very fragmented environment right now. You have to have a great deal of expectation and anticipation given the number of participant users in some of the one-off events taking place. It’s staggering in the amount of broad, worldwide appeal. What kind of fuels my excitement is major league sports ownership and other major players in our domestic sports business now taking a stake in these companies and teams and underwriting certain aspects of leagues.


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GETTING THEM IN THE DOOR
 
Posted: 1 Mar 2017, 7:00 pm

The mobile revolution has emboldened marketers with new tools to achieve one goal: Get them in the door.
Spectra marketers were thrilled with the PAC Marketing Automation product. It’s a powerful behavior-based multichannel marketing solution. The platform empowers organizations to deliver customized, triggered campaigns and marketing emails that provide a one-to-one marketing experience for each fan. University of California, Berkeley; Georgia Tech, Atlanta; and University of Mississippi, Oxford, have seen great success using the tool.
Group sales were another big topic at PACnet ‘17.
Aaron Maisel, Oregon State University, Corvallis , was excited by the advent of mobile paperless tickets and new website which he credits with a 6-percent increase over 2015 in student attendance.
Mike Osmundson, Indiana University, Bloomington, was very happy with their integration with Spectra that allowed Indiana University to digitalize group ticketing. “It’s a better way. It’s important for the students to group with friends.”
Both Maisel and Osmundson said that overselling the venue created extra revenue, and that statistics show that only 70 percent of the ticket-holders actually attend.
Indiana University used to do everything on paper, by hand. “We had to store a lot of forms and put it all into the system, which was very inefficient,” said Osmundson. “The move online cut down dramatically on the number of hours spent putting info into the system.”
Nick Marckel, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, had a similar experience when they switched to the Spectra system. “This limited long lines at the ticket office and the number of staff needed,” he said. “It eliminated 10,000-plus pieces of paper and countless hours we had to spend entering the data into the system.”
University of Michigan had good luck with including multiple sports there into the same platform. Marckel also touted a new ‘points system’ for seat assignments. “This encourages early arrival,” he said. “Now we reward students who come early by implementing the point system.” Points earned determine seating for the next season.
Marckel was also quite pleased with new turnstiles by Spectra sponsor and partner Alvarado. “The turnstile scans the ticket, it’s fast and easy to use and eliminates human error.” The turnstiles are also portable. Another Spectra sponsor and partner, Janam, manufactures the handheld scanners that the lion’s share of Spectra clients use.
Matt Mastrangelo, Groupmatics, was high on Spectra retention tools. “Through our Spectra product, we can add an outing to a fan’s calendar. The communication tools allow us to send messages about time changes or game delays. As individuals make purchases, we get info on others in the group like their name and email.” 
Taking a play from cable companies, the next big thing looks to be not only selling a fan a ticket, but also selling that fan all the ancillary goods that go with the event.
“We are all looking at ways to leverage the sale once we get a customer buying tickets,” said Rob Sine, IMG/Learfield Ticket Solutions. “We’re not far off from selling hotel rooms across from the stadium. We can sell parking, merchandise, experiences and food and beverage, just to name a few things.”
Experience is a company that would not exist without mobile technology. It uses mobile technology to offer seat-upgrades, it provides unique experiences at a game and has successfully pioneered the subscription model.
“Inventory is perishable once the event is done,” said Junior Gaspard, Experience, “We’re all about finding a new way to get fans into the building.” 
Selling tickets in packages is nothing new. Selling them in a subscription-based model is.
“Think of it like Netflix. The customer signs up for a monthly fee, say $19.99, and for that fee they get to go to as many events as they want,” said Gaspard. Maisel said that University of Oregon introduced the subscription model and it’s worked wonders for attendance.
Castle is a fan of Experience’s INWEGO product, which allows a fan to go to different events at different venues across a city. “There are 15 sports-related entities in the area,” said Castle. “It’s especially great for getting new fans.”
“Subscription is new and if you are in places with other sports teams, partner with them,” suggested Lisa Langham, Spectra.


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PACNET ‘17 - EVOLUTION MEETS INTEGRATION
 
Posted: 1 Mar 2017, 6:40 pm

REPORTING FROM NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. — The data has spoken. Ticket discovery on Google, StubHub and Facebook is staggeringly dominant.
That fact helped fuel the direction taken by Spectra Ticketing & Fan Engagement — integration. Dave Butler, who has been CEO of Spectra Ticketing & Fan Engagement for more than 12 years, set that stage during PACnet ‘17 with a detailed discussion of the customer’s journey, from discovery to post-event.
Spectra Ticketing is now integrated with Salesforce (CRM), FanOne Marketing Automation, StubHub (secondary and primary ticket sales) and Ballena Technologies (which Spectra acquired in 2015), among others.
“We can’t satisfy every need from scratch nor should we,” Butler told the record crowd during the Feb. 12-15 conference here. “When Salesforce is spending $1 billion a year in research and development for CRM [customer relation management], why would we try to compete with them? So we built this platform of integration services,  and this is how all the partners we’re talking about can interact live with the data in your system. This is fundamental to our future.”
PACnet ‘17 was the largest PACnet to date, including more than 750 Spectra clients, strategic business partners and attendees, highlighted by eight keynote speakers, 175 presenters and 60 sessions during the four-day community event.
Today, the Paciolan Platform, which they called Pac8 a year ago, brings ticketing, marketing, fundraising, reporting and analytics all together on one customer record page, Butler showed the crowd. “You can see everything going on. Account information, what clubs they’re part of, memberships, touchpoints so you can see the emails they received from you, that’s all integrated in one location.” The operator chooses icon or tabular views.
Butler’s delight with the Paciolan Platform approach was apparent as he further detailed Spectra Ticketing’s partnerships, details of which were fleshed out over four days of meetings.
For instance, StubHub is integrated on Spectra’s primary ticketing platform. Butler shared a case study, Oregon State University, Corvallis, where Zack Lassiter opted to test the waters by putting some of the university’s primary tickets on StubHub just to see if people went there. The result: $127,000 worth of tickets sold immediately. Year to date, $500,000 worth of inventory has been sold on the site, “because people go to StubHub to decide what to do,” Butler said. The best part? Forty percent of those sales were new customers.
Spectra Digital Group also includes Google Search, where 483,000 people search for a live event ticket opportunity every day. “Google allows you to elevate yourself based on relevancy, using key words around your event,” Butler said. “The key is the paid search. You want to be number one when people are searching for your event.”
In email marketing, the trend is more personalized, one-to-one communication,” Butler said. “A personalized or segmented message makes all the difference.”
This is a watershed year for mobile. “Your traffic online for tickets is higher on mobile — 52 percent — than desktops,” Butler said. That is a first.
“Mobile is the central ecosystem of tech,” said Brandon O’Halloran, SVP, partnerships & strategy, ReplyBuy. “It’s heading toward 10 times the scale of the PC industry. In other words, the smartphone is the new sun, everything is orbiting around this. Every company should be thinking mobile first. Consumers want access, speed, and simplicity in today’s society. They expect to be able to press a button and have a car show up outside to pick them up.”
Geoff Lester, StubHub, said his company’s mobile adoption rates are skyrocketing. Three years ago, StubHub had 30 percent mobile traffic and 10 percent transactions from it. Today, they are at 70 percent traffic and 50 percent transactions. “Mobile is life; it’s everything,” he said. “It’s where people engage.”
“You can leave your wallet or purse at home and pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay,” said Junior Gaspard, Experience. “You can forget keys and still get in with Google home. But if you leave your phone you turn and run for it. You can’t get through the day.”
According to a Google Web Index study, 47 percent of media time is spent online and the average consumer has 3.3 devices.
Spectra Ticketing’s mobile flow process is taking advantage of mobile usage surpassing desktop. They pioneered the new product with Stanford University before rolling it out to all clients. The new mobile ticketing experience leverages the latest in mobile web design and features a mobile-optimized seat map search, price sliders and an easy-to-use mobile purchase flow.
Customers are able to easily reserve the best seats within their preferred location by simply using their mobile device, with less clicks to purchase. The results have been impressive. Based on Google Analytics, mobile ticket transactions grew by 145 percent in 2016 vs. 2015.
Mobile is allowing the industry to connect with customers individually, intimately and with messaging tailored specifically for them. The new rule is to treat each customer like they are the only one you are reaching out to. Many of the PACnet sessions explored ways to connect on a singular level with each and every potential ticket buyer.
“It’s now an intimate conversation,” said Rob Sine, IMG/Learfield Ticketing Solutions. “And the key is to get the data. We need to have less ticket sales conversations and more revenue conversations.”
“Hyper-personalization is the way you surprise and delight customers,” added Jason Cole, FanMaker. Cole uses Spectra’s PACnet Rewards Application to meet this challenge.
“The rewards program is a way to offer stuff to fans to modify their behavior,” he said. “Using the rewards you can then find moments that will stand out and be  surprising to the individual. You can offer them a ride on the Zamboni or take them out on the ice.”
Cole said he can get almost two hundred different variables on each fan including items they’ve hashtagged, when they ask to renew tickets and even what they bought at the concessions stand using the rewards program.
“We can do things like birthday greetings from a kid’s favorite coach or player or a message from their favorite driver with personalized video to the fan’s phone,” he said.
Another program Cole said FanMaker had great success with was sending a credit on food, beverage and merchandise with renewals — but 25 percent of the credit goes away each day the customer doesn’t renew. This got one of his clients 5,000 renewals in a week.
“About half our renewals come from personalized communication,” said Cole. “It’s dynamic and what you push is relevant at a lower cost.”
Jessica Coyle, NCR, agreed that hyper-personalization was winning customers.
“As long as you track the ROI and get data, this works,” said Coyle. “We’ve tried things like offering 25 percent off merchandise to fans when we email them back a receipt for a ticket purchase.”
Coyle was also proud of the NCR app that studies what a fan orders and then makes suggestions about what they can order to go with it, like pairing a beer with a food item.
The Tampa (Fla.) Bay Lightning tried a loyalty points program where they gave away a team jersey to season ticket holders. Then they put an RFID chip in the jersey so the fan can pay easily. This resulted in a 46-percent increase in ticket sales and 25-percent increase in food, beverage and merchandise per caps.
Leah Beasley, Mississippi State University, Oktibbeha, said that the Hail State rewards program was working really well. “Repeat customers are what we want,” she said. “Our rewards program keeps track of points.  Then the fan can go to the prize store and get rewarded for coming.”
Beasley said that 80 percent of the students use the rewards app, and 91 percent say they attend more events because of the program.


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Flexible, Easily Discoverable Tickets Rule
 
Posted: 1 Mar 2017, 6:00 pm

Primary, secondary, it’s becoming one big blur. Where fans get tickets has become an industry in itself. The large ticket sellers rarely agree, but at PACnet ‘17, they all agreed on one thing: no one knows what the industry will look like five years from now.
According to StubHub’s Geoff Lester, the delineation of primary and secondary ticketing is less defined to consumers. Customers care about value, convenience and the experience, he said.
He also shared that StubHub used to keep its data in-house but has invested in a data consultancy service and it’s working out well. This service shows relevant consumer buying patterns as well as providing valuable pricing data to enable primary ticketing to better understand market pricing dynamics to aid with revenue management.
Rob Sine, IMG/Learfield Ticket Solutions, also takes data seriously but warned, “data must take a scientific approach. With the right data, decisions can be made on the fly.”
Sine said that by using data to tweak prices for the last 1,000 tickets a venue or team can make an extra $10,000-$50,000 on one game. “You need to understand data to change prices,” he said. “The smartest partners are starting to get revenue back by pricing right in the first place.”
Sine’s company sells two million tickets a year and he sees the landscape changing. “It’s now all about what the fan wants, when the fan wants it,” he said. “We spend a lot of our time telling the fans what they should do and the fans say back to us, ‘this isn’t what we want to purchase and when.” Sine believes that paying attention to the fans needs, and making it flexible, will bring more money.
The future for season ticket holders is changing drastically, Sine added. “I don’t want the same experience every time. I may want to go in a group, with my family, with colleagues or by myself. I’d rather see us, as an industry, continue to focus on season ticket revenue and not the same package that’s been sold the last 30 years.”
“We have to realize that fans don’t want the same thing over and over again,” he said. “We need to develop packages that meet their needs.”
DTI Management’s CEO Curtis Cheng said, “DTI takes inventory and distributes it across multiple platforms. Our job is to move more velocity of tickets, bring a higher yield back to the team and pass data back to the team so they can understand their market better. We can tell them things like where the consumers are coming from and where they are making their transactions. Did they come from Facebook? Twitter? Email blast? ESPN college scoreboard? That’s what’s important to know, not someone’s age.”
Cheng also wonders about what the ecosystem of ticketing will look like in the next few years. “There are people who make tremendous livings off arbitraging what the primary charges and what they can acquire on the secondary. We primaries should be selling season tickets, groups and mini-groups and all single use tickets should go ecommerce.”
“Try to get ahead of the curve,” he said. “Everybody thinks it’s going to go one way; it goes another way.  Status quo is not the answer.”
“Phone sales to sell one ticket are ancient,” he said. “Millennials don’t buy things that way. They will transact anywhere. The only way to reach all of them is to go everywhere.”
“The more shelf space you can put your product on the more eyeballs you will get and you sell more tickets at a higher price,” said Cheng. “If we look at the airline industry, the price gets higher as you get closer to the flight. In the sports ticketing world, the prices go down. The reason is because of fragmentation of sellers. There’s no controlled inventory.”
“Sports doesn’t accept different pricing yet,” said Cheng. “And that the person sitting next you doesn’t pay the same.”
“It can all be controlled now through simple software solutions. Control the supply first. Fans now wait until the last minute for the price to drop. From a consumer standpoint that’s great, but from a rightsholder standpoint you didn’t maximize the value of your supply.”
Cheng also said not to treat every game the same. Every game should have its own pricing. He also stressed that today events are competing against all kinds of other things.
“Millennials go on an app and decide what they want to do that night,” said Cheng. “It may be eating. It may be dressing up. You’re competing against all entertainment options and there are 20 other things someone can do other than go to a game. There has to be more than product on the field. There has to be something better than just the privilege of owning a season ticket.”


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VERIFIED FAN IS HERE
 
Posted: 1 Mar 2017, 6:00 pm

edsheeran300.pngHas the war against scalper bots met its match? Ticketmaster likes to think so. With the official roll-out of the company’s Verified Fan initiative, the ticketing giant believes it has scored a huge win for the average fan who is powerless in the battle against lightning-fast programs that result in seats for their favorite artist’s shows ending up on the secondary market for two, five or 10 times their face value.
“Verified Fan is a concept that works in any onsale context,” said David Marcus, head of Music for Ticketmaster. “At its core is the question: ‘are you a fan or are you in the arbitrage business? How big a fan are you?’” Verified Fan uses TM’s technology platform and massive live event database to help fans get the best chance at landing tickets for the shows they want to attend the most.
The process begins when an artist announces a tour, with directions to a responsive registration page where the fan identifies that they are a real person by providing information such as an email address, phone number or Ticketmaster account before selecting the shows they want to attend.
Following the registration period, TM uses its proprietary data technology as well as automated and manual processes to make sure ticket orders are from real fans, who then receive a unique code that provides them access to buy tickets at a predetermined onsale time.
“This is not limited to fan club members or anyone with a pre-existing membership,” Marcus said, pointing to the “hundreds of thousands” of Ed Sheeran fans who registered for the “Shape of You” singer’s upcoming North American tour during an early March onsale. “When we put these tickets on sale we promise we won’t invite bots to the party.”
The official wide rollout — Verified Fan was earlier employed for tours by the Dead & Co., Muse, the 1975 and Ryan Adams — comes a month after Eric Church and his Q Prime South team used their own logarithmic methods to scan ticket sales for suspicious activity and clues that tip them off to scalper buying patterns. Their team claimed an accuracy rate at or near 99 percent on scans conducted explicitly on pre-sales for Church’s fan club.
Sheeran’s tour got the big push because Marcus said it had the most risk of fans being disappointed because of the huge demand and limited supply of tickets. Unlike the Church clamp-down on bots infesting fan club presales, VF was created to work in any context. It is not limited to fan clubs or anyone with an existing membership — though it was initially rolled out in connection with artist-driven presales promoted in artist tweets or posts — as evidenced by what Marcus said was the “hundreds of thousands” of registrations for the Sheeran sale.
The Verified Fan window was open to any fan interested and willing to register and anyone who qualifies through that process will get a windowed opportunity to buy tickets at a later date. TM claims nearly one million registrants for VF to date, though Marcus said he was unable to reveal how many of those tickets for Sheeran and the other tours were allotted to VF sales and what percentage of the total ticket pool they represented.
Asked if the data collected will be used in any other manner, say, for marketing purposes, Marcus said the information will lead to opt-in marketing opportunities. But the goal in collecting it is to match those data points against verifiable information to ensure that the tickets are being purchased by a real fan. “With Verified Fan we do analysis in advance without the pressure of the sales environment where tickets sell out in a minute and a half and we can really sift through and apply what we know about consumers and give consumers invitations to buy tickets they want,” he said.
In part, VF is a way to slow down the ticketing process and fundamentally alter the way the business distributes tickets now, which rewards speed. “If we distribute tickets in a way that rewards speed, especially tickets priced below market, we invite arbitrageurs to invest in speed, i.e. bots,” he said. “It’s an epidemic that’s a creation of our industry’s making. VF is the beginning of our initiative to take the speed out of the equation so we can reward people who are fans.”
Asked how VF is different from other methods of ensuring tickets get in real fans’ hands, like paperless ticketing, Marcus said unlike paperless, the burden is not on the fan in VF. “That [paperless] worked, past tense, but brokers found a way around it by just using prepaid cards to get tickets and selling that prepaid card on StubHub so the ticket becomes a piece of plastic, which puts a restriction on fans,” he said.
VF is not intended to restrict or prohibit resale entirely, but to encourage fans to value the experience of scoring tickets to their favorite artist’s concert more than a couple hundred extra dollars they could make by flipping them, Marcus said. “We believe in resale — a fan should have that right,” he said. “When we do a better job of distributing tickets the first time, at the right price, that resale becomes what should be a marketplace for fans to trade tickets with other fans. It should not be a secondary market of arbitrage that takes advantage of inefficiencies in first distribution. If we can serve fans on first distribution, then the secondary market should have value to the artist as well.”


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SECOND FEMALE TO LEAD TICKETING FIRM IS READY TO ROCK
 
Posted: 1 Mar 2017, 6:00 pm

p._17_Kim_Damron300_.jpgTwo weeks after a highly successful PACnet ‘17 wrapped in Newport Beach, Calif., Kim Damron was promoted to president of Spectra Ticketing & Fan Engagement, a division of Comcast Spectacor, answering directly to Dave Butler, her mentor and the man who hired her there 12 years ago. Venues Today followed up with this one-on-one.

What was your first executive decision as president?
There have been a lot, to be honest. One was to promote Craig Ricks to SVP of Marketing and Steve Demots, who just came off the best year in the company’s history with 22 new accounts (the old record was 10-15, including our distributor partners’ new clients), to chief revenue officer. We’ve just had a fantastic year; there’s a lot of momentum. University of Houston is our most recent return client. We just signed Georgia Southern (Statesboro) as well. Christian Lewis will take over all of sales. That’s the first big move, elevating some of the team to help with some of the changes we’re making here.

Has most of Spectra Ticketing’s growth been in the collegiate business?
It’s mixed. We’ve been very successful with arenas and performing arts centers. Two of our performing arts venues have just announced “Hamilton.”

What does the announcement of “Hamilton” do to your ticketing heart?
It’s a lot of demand for not a lot of tickets. We started with new subscriptions and renewals, and we had two of those on-sales the first week in March that went flawlessly. They will have the single ticket on-sales closer to the launch of the show in 2018. So far so good, but obviously, there is huge demand.

What are your marching orders going forward as president of ticketing?
Overall, coming off such a great year, it is to continue to evolve the product offerings, including analytics, marketing services and some of our third-party partnerships.
For you personally, what was the highlight of PACnet ‘17?
The content was absolutely fantastic. Over 750 people attended, which was a record-breaker. Craig did a fantastic job, and people came away with things they can apply to their day-to-day business. The keynotes honestly were my highlight.

What was the newest and most innovative offering introduced at PACnet ‘17?
The Paciolan Platform and showing the ease of use and patron integration resonated so well in all of those sessions. People could understand the interaction with Salesforce and how we’re all talking through the APIs.

Is the goal to simplify things?
Yes, we are through APIs. The Paciolan Platform will be the entryway. The foundation of what our community will use is the Paciolan Platform.

So a lot of it is integration?
Yes, we will continue to look at Salesforce, Facebook, and, with our API platform services team, we will continue to integrate.

What was your career path to this pinnacle?
I started my career right out of University of Southern California (Los Angeles) with Paramount Studios. I ended my career there as director of national advertising, where I oversaw about $500 million a year we spent on theatrical advertising. The internet was starting to explode in 1998-99, so I joined  Buy.com in Aliso Viejo (Calif.), then consulted for eBay for six months. Then someone said go talk to Tickets.com, so I went there for 4.5 years. Paciolan (now Spectra Ticketing) recruited me. I met Dave Butler and Jane and I joined nine days later.

How do you feel about your new role?
I’m obviously honored and thrilled. I’ve been here almost 12 years. I’m passionate about the community. I’m also proud of the culture we’ve created here. We are probably the only major ticketing company that has had two women as presidents. (Jane Kleinberger, founder and chairman, was the fist). It shows Dave Butler’s and Dave Scott’s (Comcast Spectacor) commitment to female leadership. I’ve had so many in the community send me inspirational notes about how I am helping pave the way for female leaders. I’m getting notes from people I’ve never met saying this gives me hope we can achieve whatever we want.


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TALKING POINTS
 
Posted: 1 Mar 2017, 6:00 pm

LUISJON_300.jpgLUIS VALDIVIA
MULTICULTURAL MARKETING SPECIALIST, DEL MAR (CALIF.) FAIRGROUNDS
CURRENT CITY: San Diego.
HOMETOWN: Tijuana, Mexico.
UNIVERSITY: University of Mexico City and Iberoamerican University, Tijuana, Mexico.
FIRST JOB IN THE INDUSTRY: Hispanic information officer at Del Mar Fairgrounds.
HOW DID YOU GET YOUR CURRENT JOB: I used to work for a Hispanic marketing firm and Del Mar Fair was a client. Del Mar offered me a position. In 2012, I became the marketing manager and, then, in 2016, I stepped down as marketing manager but they created a new position where I would focus on minority markets.
MENTOR: Jose Ciccone, the owner of Medicis. He helped shape my career in marketing.
FREE TIME PURSUITS: I have a property in Tijuana I rent out; I have a weekly show on Facebook Live in Spanish and I spend time with my family.
THE TOP SONG ON YOUR PLAYLIST RIGHT NOW: “No More Tears (Enough Is Enough)” by Donna Summer and Barbra Streisand.
ONE FAMOUS PERSON IN HISTORY YOU WOULD LIKE TO MEET: Walter Cronkite.
WHAT WOULD PEOPLE BE SURPRISED TO LEARN ABOUT YOU: I learned English by watching ‘The Electric Company” on TV.
BEST ADVICE EVER RECEIVED: Respect your mother.
IF YOU COULD HAVE AN ENDLESS SUPPLY OF ANYTHING, WHAT WOULD IT BE: Avocados.
BIGGEST GUILTY PLEASURE: Chocolate.
FAVORITE LIVE EVENT YOU’VE ATTENDED: A Donna Summer concert at Del Mar Fair.

 

LJ_Malberg_300.jpgLJ MALBERG
EVENTBRITE MUSIC STRATEGY, NORTH AMERICA
CURRENT CITY: Astoria, Queens, N.Y.
HOMETOWN: San Francisco.
UNIVERSITY: College of Marin, Kentfield, Calif.
FIRST JOB IN THE INDUSTRY: I started out as a Brazilian jazz singer, dancer, choreographer and performer. Eventually I opened up a boutique agency in Berkeley, Calif., and started booking more music than anything else.
HOW DID YOU GET YOUR CURRENT JOB: I helped lead the charge for TicketWeb, which is the club ticketing platform for Ticketmaster. I had been in conversations with Julia Hartz and Greg Patterson from Eventbrite and the team here is so great I came aboard.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE PART OF THE JOB: Relationship building; understanding ‘why’ people do what they do in their job and how I can help them.
MENTORS: Stormy (Shepard) Vehnekamp and Michele Fleisehle, who are both strong women’s voices in the music business; Bill Ashton; Chuck D. and my dad, Aaron.
FREE TIME PURSUITS: I’ve been in a meditation class for the last 15 years; I study French; I love all kinds of music and I take belly dancing classes.
TOP SONG ON YOUR PLAYLIST RIGHT NOW: “Making Plans For Nigel” by XTC and “Alone With You” by deadmau5.
FAMOUS PERSON IN HISTORY YOU WOULD LIKE TO MEET: The Dali Lama.
WHAT WOULD PEOPLE BE SURPRISED TO LEARN ABOUT YOU: I am the number one Cure fan in the world.
BEST ADVICE RECEIVED: Don’t ever let anyone define your value, except for you.
BIGGEST GUILTY PLEASURE: Dark chocolate with pink Himalayan salt.

 

Kevin_Donnelly300.jpgKEVIN DONNELLY
SENIOR VP OF VENUES & ENTERTAINMENT, TRUE NORTH SPORTS & ENTERTAINMENT, MTS CENTRE, WINNIPEG, MANITOBA, CANADA
HOMETOWN: Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada
UNIVERSITY: University of Regina
FIRST JOB IN THE INDUSTRY: Putting up posters on street poles for music events.
HOW DID YOU GET YOUR CURRENT JOB: I was a VP at House of Blues when I heard about a job opening at MTS Centre. I got the job and rose to the position I’m in today.
MENTORS: Donald K. Donald, Michael Cohl, Arthur Fogel and Riley O’Connor.
FREE TIME PURSUITS: Anything where I don’t sit, like running, cycling and cross country skiing.
THE TOP SONG ON YOUR PLAYLIST RIGHT NOW: Anything by Crowded House.
THE MOST EMBARRASSING SONG ON YOUR PLAYLIST RIGHT NOW: A  spoken word song by William Shatner called “Common People.”
ONE FAMOUS PERSON IN HISTORY YOU WOULD LIKE TO MEET: Pierre Elliott Trudeau
BEST ADVICE YOU’VE EVER RECEIVED: Don’t lie to Immigration.
BIGGEST GUILTY PLEASURE: Vodka and Cranberry juice.
FAVORITE LIVE EVENT YOU’VE ATTENDED: Any Bruce Springsteen concert; I’ve seen eight.
DREAM SUPER POWER: To fly.


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PLOTS AND ATTACKS TARGETING MAJOR SPORTING EVENTS OVERSEAS
 
Posted: 1 Mar 2017, 5:10 pm

> Two coordinated attacks in Istanbul, Turkey, on Dec. 10, 2016, that resulted in at least 38 dead, mostly police officers, and more than 160 wounded. The first attack targeted a police bus, leaving the Besiktas Vodafone Arena, using a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (VBIED), following a Turkish league soccer game. Moments later, a suicide operative detonated his vest at a nearby park after being stopped by police, according to press reports. The Kurdistan Freedom Hawks (TAK), a splinter group of the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK), claimed responsibility for the attack.

>  Kosovo police disrupted a Nov. 12, 2016, plot on Shkoder, Albania, directed by ISIL, possibly involving as many as 19 operatives, to target a 2018 World Cup qualifying match between Albania and Israel at Loro Borici Stadium. The alleged plotters reportedly discussed “synchronized terror attacks,” which included attacking the Israeli national team or sports fans with firearms and explosives, or smuggling explosives into the stadium, according to press reports citing unnamed police investigators.

> Saudi Arabian police disrupted on Oct. 11, 2016, ISIL-directed plot involving four operatives who planned to detonate a VBIED inside a parking garage next to Al-Jawhara Football Stadium in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, during a World Cup qualifier match between the Saudi and UAE national teams, according to official statements issued by the Saudi government.

>  Belgian police arrested three suspects on June 18, 2016, in connection with a likely ISIL-affiliated plot to attack fans gathered in either a public square or bar in Brussels to watch a Euro 2016 soccer match scheduled to take place in France on June 18, 2016, between the Ireland and Belgium national teams , according to press reports citing Belgian officials.


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TEAM APPS CREATING DIVERSE PLATFORMS
 
Posted: 1 Mar 2017, 5:00 pm

In the most robust of team apps, the conversation goes two ways, giving both fans and teams something a little extra special they couldn’t otherwise attain. For the fans, a quality app pulls back the curtain on players with behind-the-scenes video and photos and an opportunity to purchase everything from apparel to concessions. For the teams, they love fans having a new entry into revenue streams—such as merchandise sales and in-stadium concession purchases—but they also appreciate having real-time data on their fans, everything from purchasing habits to parking preferences.
The new wave of venue-driven, team-oriented apps gives everyone a little something. Now it’s a matter of finding the sweet spot to what works best.
In Orlando, the new Orlando City Stadium for the three-year-old Major League Soccer club offered the team a reason to launch the new Orlando City Soccer Club app, created by FanHero. South of Orlando, the Miami Heat have selected BeyondCurious and Built.io to launch a new fan experience via an update to the Miami Heat mobile app, and VenueNext has turned the National Football League’s two newest venues for the San Francisco 49ers and Minnesota Vikings—not to mention the NFL’s largest venue, AT&T Stadium, home of the Dallas Cowboys—into gameday app destinations.
Christopher Cooper, co-founder of FanHero, said apps provide a two-way conversation between the fans and the teams filled with ecommerce capabilities to help teams increase revenue channels while building fan engagement.
At its base, mobile apps serve as a vehicle for mobile ticketing. But they extend beyond that with opportunities for teams to expand marketing, sponsorship and revenue reach. “Teams are always looking for added revenue vehicles. Whether the ability to sell merchandise via phone or tap into additional ad revenue from the ever-growing mobile ecosystem, teams are rapidly moving toward a 360-degree approach to their revenue model,” said Cooper. “Teams now see that mobile can not only be considered an additional revenue stream for them, but it could easily become their main revenue stream.”
As teams sign up fans into the mobile apps, they can then tie in loyalty programs and subscription-based memberships that unlock opportunities—either via a fee or a threshold of team engagement. Of course, teams can keep everything open to fans, such as the behind-the-scenes video of players walking out of the tunnel, pre-game routines or video replay of live action.
And while fans gravitate toward the all-access opportunities and rely on the mobile ticketing advantages, teams continue working to make the app a one-stop shot for all fans attending games. From digital ticket entry, in-seat ordering, stadium wayfinding, “the app has evolved the teams’ reach,” Cooper said. “They can now access users beyond the stadium walls by providing them gameday coverage, live streaming experiences, behind-the-scenes access only available in the app.” And it all comes with additional sponsorship opportunities.
Nikki Barua, CEO of BeyondCurious, said by rebuilding the Heat’s app, they can help fans “more effectively engage with the brand from home and at AmericanAirlines Arena through one seamless, easy-to-use mobile interaction.”
Already with an app that offers exclusive content and electronic ticketing, the new design anticipates personalized, paperless, cashless arena experiences that include exclusive in-arena content, post-game uses and fresh loyalty programs.
In Orlando, the live streaming of games, including angles unavailable elsewhere, team info and club-created content relating to the players, tries to draw fans in for more than mobile ticketing. By integrating with a user’s social networks, Orlando hopes fans start sharing app content via Facebook and Twitter.
FanHero has partnered with Ticketmaster in its platform, which currently offers paperless ticket entry into Orlando City Stadium. In addition, the app allows upgrades and ticket transfers and, in the coming months, will roll out the option to purchase tickets.
VenueNext, which can tell when a fan has entered inside a venue’s geofence, uses location info to unlock additional content and wayfinding. Then, adding in real-time data, offers a changing experience inside the stadium. In-app concession deals, for example, can tie directly to a section’s inventory. 
This past season, as a way to reward season ticket holders and encourage mobile ticketing at the 49ers’ Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif., the app gave users a QR code and badge worth 10 percent off services in the stadium, redeemable at a concession counter or ordering within the app.
In the future, VenueNext expects an even more robust fan-engagement platform for its app with the ability to coordinate light shows using just the app. Imagine dousing the lights inside Minneapolis’ U.S. Bank Stadium and having thousands of fans lift the mobile device up—opened to the app—and letting the choreographed light show play out as everyone’s phones work together.
“Let’s make this purple, white, random, flash on the camera for a quarter of a second, and we can have this play during the light show,” said John Paul, CEO and founder of VenueNext.
But beyond the fun futuristic experiences, from Santa Clara to Orlando’s Amway Center, Paul said teams not only want to give fans something extra, but they also want to mine data to help boost revenues.
Sure, mobile ticketing saves cash by eliminating printing costs upward of $500,000 per year, but a paper ticket serves to create anonymous fans, something far more detrimental to the long-term revenue opportunities of a sports franchise. “Teams want to know who is in the stadium and how many games they went to,” Paul said. “If we get you to use the gameday app, we can know you came to five games and we should sell you a ticket (package).”
The mobile ticketing also alerts teams to who is actually using a season ticket. A fan may have purchased a package, but if they sold or gave away those paper tickets, teams have no way of tracking who’s in the building. Using mobile ticketing, teams can track that the season ticket holder may have only come to a few games and know that next season they maybe should sell a smaller package to that person at the risk of losing them altogether. But they can also track who used the tickets instead of the season-ticket holder, expanding the team’s database of fans and creating opportunities to sell new fans varying ticket packages based on tracked habits.
“It is fun to feel like you have control over the experience of the game,” Paul said. “They get the app and then what else does this have?” They find they can order food to their seat—and maybe order more since they don’t miss the action. They find they can easily explore the stadium via wayfinding and they discover video with the option to modify four different camera angles to show a replay from every play of the game.


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THREATS EXPECTED TO INTENSIFY
 
Posted: 1 Mar 2017, 5:00 pm

A Department of Homeland Security advisory issued early this year provided dire warnings for live entertainment venues, in particular, suggesting that it’s not if, but when, terrorism attacks like those seen in Europe are repeated in the U.S.
Andrea Schultz, deputy director, Office of SAFETYAct Implementation, Department of Homeland Security, brought that point home to attendees of the Stadium Managers Association, illustrating how the landscape has changed and homegrown, backyard attacks are more prevalent.
There are several online magazines detailing how to make bombs and attack venues, all filled with praise for successful terrorism attacks, all written in English and many with articles specifically for women, she said. It’s a global problem.
Most people are aware of these magazines as a result of publicity following the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings. The 11th edition of Inspire magazine, in March 2013, praised Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and Tamerlan Tsarnaev for their Boston attack, specifically commending the pair’s choice in targeting an iconic and “symbolic” race, which attracted international media attention and thousands of participants and spectators. It also applauded their placement of IEDs “near the finish line where large crowds cheer.”
ISIL and al-Qa‘ida messaging has emphasized attacks against large crowds in the West, using “all available means,” to inflict mass casualties, and specifically has suggested sports stadiums as targets, according to an unclassified government report. For example, the early November 2016 third issue of ISIL’s official magazine, Rumiyah, highlighted “large outdoor conventions and celebrations, pedestrian-congested streets, outdoor markets, festivals, parades, and political rallies.” The magazine’s inaugural issue also called for supporters to stab, shoot, poison, and run over Australians at multiple locations, including at the Melbourne and Sydney cricket grounds.
Schultz began her talk to stadium managers with some of those dire warning signs and with the admission that “I hope you come away with an interest in participating in the SAFETY Act.”
Though the Support Anti-Terrorism by Fostering Effective Technologies Act (SAFETY Act) was part of the Homeland Security Act of 2002, it is just now gaining traction with live entertainment venues and sports leagues. It provides incentives for the development and deployment of anti-terrorism technologies by creating systems of risk and litigation management. According the the DHS, the purpose of the Act is to ensure that the threat of liability does not deter potential manufacturers or sellers of effective anti-terrorism technologies from developing and commercializing technologies that could save lives. The program is managed by the Office of SAFETY Act Implementation within the Science and Technology Directorate. The Under Secretary for Science and Technology is the deciding official for SAFETY Act applications.
While the process for Safety Act certification is admittedly onerous, Schultz said her department is there to help. She advised interested venues should get DHS involved in the pre-application process, because once the application is submitted, the department is under mandate to push it through for approval or rejection in just 120 days. There’s no time to start over, so she wants it done right the first time. A site visit during the pre-application process is really beneficial, she advised.
Buzzwords  in the security world today are “evolving threat environment” and “homegrown priority threat,” she said. “The risk picture is really different today than it was then. We have to think outside the box to reduce that risk.”
“You need to know that the threat is not what it once was,” Schultz said. “This makes the job of law enforcement really, really difficult.” Clues are lost because the potential perpetrator is looking at how to build a bomb on his smartphone on the bus on his way home from work.
“There is a huge shift from big, complex attacks to small, in-your-backyard attacks,” Schultz said. After an event like the bombings in Paris, venue managers should be reacting by immediately changing their operational environment. “You should be asking questions about parking. Do you have a high speed avenue of approach in your queue or in your parking lot?”
“It never ends,” she said, and the time to act and react is every day.
To maintain SAFETY Act certification, venues would have to re-evaluate the risk every year, another advantage to being certified. She offered to help any venue manager interested to get access to the Homeland Security Information Network.
While protection from undue litigation is a lure of the SAFETY Act, it’s really about risk mitigation. DHS is certifying technology that can be deployed, testing and updating the offers consistently. And technology is loosely interpreted, including protocols, procedures and processes. They are always evaluating new technologies, like the person-borne explosive detection canine. Certification requires a track record.
“Don’t look at ‘green label’ [being evaluated] as less than ‘blue,’ [certified], it’s just that it is something newer,” she said. “Blue-designated has been around.”
Admittedly, for the SAFETY Act to apply in post-attack protection, the attack has to be designated by the Secretary of Homeland Security as an act of terrorism. But when it is, venues that are Safety Act certified have a liability cap should an act of terrorism occur. “If there were an act of terriorism, your liability number [from general insurance] would be blown out of the water,” Schultz said.
“The liability cap is a fantastic benefit, but other benefits are even more valuable,” she added. It takes all resulting lawsuits (and fans come from various states) to one federal court. And only the seller of the technology can be sued if you are purchasing SAFETY Act-approved technology, “like one of the security services or an actual widget; you’re dismissed from the suit. That’s a big deal too, you don’t have to fight.”
Litigation continued for almost 20 years after the 1993 World Trade Center bombing in New York, she said. “And the judge can award damages with interest from the day the case was filed. You’re protected from that.”
When prepping a SAFETY Act application, Schultz advised crafting a technology definition, exactly what you want covered, with documentation and narrative description. Everyone on the venue’s team with a role in developing, evaluating or deploying its security program should participate in preparing the application.
“One NFL stadium had a meeting every Friday, dished out homework every week, and moved on to the next question” until the application was complete. The result was well put together and easy to evaluate, she said.
The National Football League and Major League Baseball are going through a cultural shift, embracing documentation, she said. “It’s such a healthy habit to have. Document what you do.”
Only one university, Southern Methodist University, is SAFETY Act-certified, she said, and that is a campus-wide program. “One of the things you need to think about – do you have statutory protection from the state already? And think about the other protections from the SAFETY Act — exclusive action in federal court, limited punitive damages —think about do you have these same protections?”
She also suggested stadium managers look beyond baseball, football or soccer to being sure all events are covered, even weddings or corporate events. “What is your risk for those kinds of events. What are you doing to make sure that’s not a potential for terrorism.”
The DHS does not have a template or checklist for SAFETY Act applications, she added. “We want you to think outside the box in how you tell your story.”
There is a financial evaluation component, which meets some resistance, she admitted. DHS will need financial data, like technology revenue, tickets sales, cost to implement the security program, insurance coverage, in order to place a liability cap per event. Rest assured all the information is confidential and sharing it is not only unethical, it’s illegal. “We do a good job of keeping it quiet, which keeps our applicants coming,” Schultz said.
With the new administration, there will be a new undersecretary in place soon, but Schultz is confident that President Donald Trump’s staff will be pro-SAFETY Act and supportive of DHS.
Chris Robinette, Prevent Advisors, noted “our peers overseas are treating this as though it is a matter of when, not if. The pressing trend here is it’s really a global problem. The DHS and Secret Service are looking at this as a pretty credible problem. It is worth our time to be much more vigilant.”
Tying in with the Department of Homeland Security gives participants closer access to reports and recommendations, Robinette concurred. “This is a very evolutionary-based threat and changing all the time, almost daily. It takes that type of pro-activity. You are always looking to make yourself an unattractive target.”
Rick Fenton, chief security officer for the Illitch organization in Detroit, was one of the first to have executed the SAFETY Act and spends a lot of time advising others, Robinette noted. “The SAFETY Act helps cap liability but also helps stadiums maintain best practices. Anyone who is doing that has to go through the process of asking what should we do or could we do to stay current and active. And you are constantly refreshing protocols to maintain that certification.”


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SECURITY TIP OF THE MONTH
 
Posted: 1 Mar 2017, 5:00 pm

Vehicle inspections are a critical and necessary element for the execution of any heavily-attended gathering or event. These inspections must be both thorough and efficient in order to ensure smooth ingress and a positive customer experience.

Tip: During the initial assessment when conducting vehicle inspections, immediately look for any sag or signs of uneven weight distribution with the vehicle as it approaches the checkpoint. If identified, ensure the area on the vehicle in question is thoroughly evaluated. Such characteristics are often present in vehicle-borne bombs as they have been modified to deliver extremely large amounts of explosives to the targeted location.


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MANAGEMENT
 
Posted: 1 Mar 2017, 5:00 pm

Otto Benedict has been appointed SVP & GM of facilities at Los Angeles Football Club (LAFC). Previously, Benedict was director of operations for AEG’s StubHub Center, Carson, Calif., where he worked for over nine years. Following his tenure at StubHub Center, Benedict took on the role of VP of Operations for Choura Events. He also teaches a facilities management class for the Sports Management Master’s program at California State University, Long Beach.

Western Specialty Contractors has promoted Justin Berndt to region manager of its Chicago Concrete Restoration, Chicago Facade Restoration and Indianapolis branch offices. Berndt was previously senior branch manager of the two Chicago branches. Berndt began his career with Western in 2004 as an assistant project manager.

GES has hired Dax Callner as chief strategy officer, events. Prior to joining GES, Callner was chief strategy officer with Sparks. Before that, he founded Crux, a strategic marketing consultancy specializing in digital, social and experiential initiatives.

SoundExchange has announced that Richard Conlon will join the company as chief external affairs officer. For the past three years, Conlon has served as a senior advisor to CEOs and senior management at major music publishers, record labels, collective rights management organizations and financial institutions. Previously, he was senior VP, corporate strategy, communications and new media, at Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI) for more than 20 years.

Comcast Spectacor announced promotions for several key members of its Spectra Ticketing & Fan Engagement team. Kim Damron has been named president of the division. Previously, Damron was the chief operating officer. Prior to Damron’s 12-year tenure at Spectra (formerly Paciolan), she served in leadership positions at Tickets.com, Buy.com and Paramount Studios. Steve Demots has been promoted to chief revenue officer. He was formerly senior VP of business development. Craig Ricks has been promoted to SVP of marketing. Ricks has served in a strategic marketing role with the company for 14 years. Christian Lewis is the new VP of business development. Lewis has been at Spectra for more than three years and served in leadership roles at Terrapin Sports Marketing at the University of Maryland, College Park; CBS College Sports Properties and at Cardinal Sports Properties, Stanford (Calif.) University.

Rey del Valle is the new chief financial officer at DTI Management. Previously, del Valle was SVP of finance at AXS Ticketing, where he oversaw the successful acquisitions of Veritix and Transticket. Prior to AXS, del Valle was Ticketmaster’s SVP of finance for eCommerce and technology.

VenuWork’s-managed Rialto Square Theatre, Joliet, Ill., has hired Valerie Divine as executive director. Previously Devine was VP of production for Paramount Theatre, Copley Theatre and RiverEdge Park, all in Aurora, Ill.

Greg Janese has joined UTA as head of corporate and special events. Janese comes to UTA from Paradigm, where he was employed for 12 years and headed the corporate and special event division. Prior to joining Paradigm, Janese was president of TBA Entertainment Corporation. He joined TBA after selling Avalon Entertainment Group, a company he co-founded, to the entertainment group.

Los Angeles Football Club (LAFC) announced the hire of Heather Brooks Karatz as executive VP of legal and general counsel. Karatz joins the LAFC team after working at Independent Sports and Entertainment (ISE), formerly known as Relativity Sports, where she served as general counsel and SVP since March 2013.

John Graham has announced his retirement from his position as executive senior associate athletics director, Frank Erwin Center, Austin, Texas, after 28 years at the helm, effective Aug. 31. Graham got his start in the arena industry in 1980 as the events manager of Assembly Hall (now State Farm Center) at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. He spent nine years at Assembly Hall, working his way up to assistant director and then associate director, before moving to Austin to join the Frank Erwin Center as associate director in May of 1989. He was then promoted to director in October of 1990, succeeding Dean Justice.

Mike Guirguis is joining UTA, where he will focus on creating new opportunities for artists, including establishing new partnerships across all areas of entertainment and building new businesses around clients. Most recently, Guirguis was the founder of NiteVision Management where he managed artists Chris Brown, Teyana,Taylor, DJ Sourmilk and Dave Aude among others. Guirguis also was a member of the management team for R&B artist Akon.

The Center for the Performing Arts at The Woodlands (CPAW), Texas, has named Cameron Klepac the new director of marketing & education. Most recently, Klepac served as assistant director of public relations and education for CPAW’s Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion. Prior to The Pavilion, Klepac oversaw brand management and events for The Woodlands (Texas) Convention and Visitors Bureau and Sam Houston State University, Huntsville, Texas.

UK agent Bex Majors has joined UTA’s international booking department. Majors began her music industry career as a promoter in Cardiff, Wales. She then went on to become the in-house promoter at Cardiff Barfly, followed by a stint as booking agent at UK dance music promoter Helter Skelter in 2005. In 2006, she joined CAA. Majors will be based out of the agency’s Beverly Hills, Calif., office.

Brad Saks has been named talent buyer for Knitting Factory Presents. Saks was most recently talent buyer and concert promoter at Skyway Theatre, Minneapolis. Previously, Saks opened AEG Live’s Minneapolis office after a four-year stint in New York and Mexico, booking for Ocesa Presents and Metropolitan Talent Presents.

KAI Design & Build has hired Michael A. Scott as a senior project architect. Prior to KAI, Scott worked as an architect at HOK, KAI Design & Build; Kwame Building Group and Grice Group Architects. He has a bachelor’s degree in architecture from Kansas State University, Manhattan.

STRI Group is strengthening its management team with the addition of new business development manager, Mark Stidwill, who previously worked for PGG Wrightson Seeds. Stidwill will be based out of STRI’s Brisbane office. Sam Myott has been added to STRI’s agronomy team in Melbourne. Michelle Dickinson is STRI’s new senior agronomist. Previously, she worked at Ground Science.

Thomas Trevethan has joined Shaw Conference Centre (SCC), Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, as food & beverage director. Trevethan brings 15 years of leadership with luxury brands such as the Ritz Carlton, Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, Marriott Autograph Collection, Caesars Entertainment and the Paris Casino and Resort, Las Vegas. He has received US Senate and Congressional recognition from former presidents Barrack Obama, George W. Bush and Jimmy Carter, and he was invited to the White House by first lady Michelle Obama in 2010.

Shaw Conference Center (SCC), Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, has hired Jason Wang as executive pastry chef. Wang previously worked at SCC and rejoins in the leadership role. Wang developed his culinary skills at the Italian Bakery and SCC beginning as a pastry demi chef de partie and subsequently moving into pastry chef de partie, senior pastry chef de partie and pastry sous chef roles.

UK music agent Billy Wood has joined UTA and will book international dates from UTA’s London office. Wood began his talent agent career in 2007 at Create Music.  He moved on to Mission Control Artist Agency in 2009. In 2010, Wood joined William Morris Endeavor (WME).


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SUPER BOWL PER CAPS TOP $95
 
Posted: 1 Mar 2017, 5:00 pm

It was a record-breaking Super Bowl for National Football League food and beverage in Houston, as Aramark, NRG Stadium’s concessionaire, reported a per capita of $95.41 for food and beverage. The number includes general concessions, premium dining and portable stands in the fan plazas outside the stadium. Attendance for the event was 70,807. Delaware North Sportservice held the previous record at $91.45 from the 2014 Super Bowl at MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, N.J.
“Obviously, the game itself provided a lot of excitement on the field but, off the field, we were able to keep fans and guests engaged and excited with the wide array of dining options,” said David Freireich, corporate communications,  Aramark. “Beginning with pre-game tailgate parties and activities on fan plaza all the way through the game, we provided guests with food and service to complement their game day experience.”
The concessionaire had 300 more points of sale than a typical Texans game, with a number of specialty items and a couple of team-themed items created specifically for Super Bowl.  The team-themed items were the Beantown Griller, a slow-cooked tri-tip pot roast with caramelized onions and Cabot cheddar cheese on whole grain bread, served with a side of bacon-infused baked beans. For Atlanta, the ATL fried chicken steak was a bed of waffle fries topped with buttermilk fried chicken, peach marmalade barbecue sauce, sour cream and green onions.
Aramark leaned local for much of its menu items, offering barbecue items throughout the stadium. The concessionaire correctly anticipated that barbecue would be highly sought-after, according to Freireich. “The signature menu items we rolled out for the game were also well received, especially the Texas short rib grilled cheese,” he added.
James Beard Award-winning chef Chris Shepherd, local barbecue pit master Ronnie Killen and Texas celebrity chef Grady Spears also contributed to the day’s menus. All have existing partnerships with Aramark at NRG Stadium.
Another highlight: Aramark’s partnership with the Houston Independent School District—also an Aramark client—to develop a specialty item. The students worked with Aramark’s team at NRG Stadium to create the Bayou City banh mi 51, a Vietnamese-style sandwich with grilled fajita steak, avocado spread and pickled vegetables.
Typical stadium fare was also served alongside specialty items, including chicken tender baskets, $13; regular hot dogs, $8; souvenir soda, $11 and domestic beer at $12.
Aramark Senior Executive Chef Mark Cornish—who was also involved with the Super Bowl the last time it was in Houston—led the culinary team. About 2,400 Aramark associates, including visiting executive chefs from Arrowhead Stadium, FirstEnergy Stadium and U.S. Bank Stadium, assisted with sourcing, preparing and serving on Feb. 5.
Based on reported attendance and per caps, gross revenue at the stadium for Super Bowl 2017 was $6.75 million for food and drink. Feb. 5, 2017, was reportedly the single-largest food and beverage and retail sales day in Aramark’s sports entertainment history.
“We had a good plan in place,” Freireich explained, adding that it took months to develop staffing plans, streamline the menu and map food preparation and cooking times. “We added points of service throughout the stadium—focused on serving the right menu items in the right place—maximized fan plaza activations, introduced unique signature items, offered an innovative suite package, and generated a lot of buzz in the days leading up to the game that informed fans about what they could find and expect to eat at the stadium.”
That buzz included food service at the NFL Experience at George R. Brown Convention Center, where Aramark Executive Chef Edward De La Garza helmed a team to feed players, fans, media and private party-goers from Jan. 28 through Feb. 5. More than 175,000 attended the seven-day event.
Aramark also holds the food contract at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, which will host the 2018 Super Bowl.
Freireich did not give any details about the upcoming event, except that planning is already in the works, adding: “We are having conversations and working with our partners in Minneapolis to ensure Super Bowl 52 is a success.”


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GOOD VOODOO
 
Posted: 1 Mar 2017, 5:00 pm

chefrobert300.jpgWhen the House of Blues Anaheim closed its doors in Downtown Disney in May 2016, it wasn’t a swan song. The venue reopened in February in a new location just east of the Disneyland Resort — the Anaheim GardenWalk — to much fanfare, an exciting lineup of acts and a re-energized culinary team. “It’s a breath of fresh air,” said House of Blues Corporate Executive Chef Robert Sarstedt. “My team is really exhausted, but they’re getting their feet under them. They’re doing a great job and the food that’s coming out has been great.”
The venue has refocused on showcasing its food and drink lineup alongside the musical acts, and one of the stars of the menu is the Voodoo shrimp. It’s one of the House of Blues’ best sellers, due to the tasty twist the staff puts on a Louisiana classic, according to the chef. “Traditionally, Louisiana barbecue shrimp is made with Worcestershire sauce and butter,” Sarstedt said. “We added an Abita amber instead of Worcestershire sauce to give it a bite.”
The dish starts with a base of jalapeno cornbread. While that’s cooking, the chef makes the Voodoo sauce by taking a Louisiana beer, Abita amber, and adding herbs, spices, cream and butter. Shrimp are cooked in the sauce with diced Roma tomatoes and minced chives.
Once the cornbread is done, it’s time to plate. Shrimp is arranged around the cornbread and then the Voodoo sauce is spooned on top. To complete the dish, the chef garnishes it with green onions, more chives and more Roma tomatoes.
While Voodoo shrimp is a menu highlight, Sarstedt is quick to point out other made-from-scratch items that House of Blues guests can look forward to. Pimento cheese dip with garlic flatbread; a smokehouse platter comprising ribs, brisket and pulled pork with baked beans and coleslaw; and short rib tacos all make up the Southern-inspired offerings that are available nightly—whether or not there is a show—and now during lunch, happy hour and late nights as well.

Corporate Executive Chef Robert Sarstedt
House of Blues, Anaheim, Calif.

House of Blues Corporate Executive Chef Robert Sarstedt is no stranger to preparing food for the stars, but he traded the Hollywood elite for rock stars when he came to his current employer.
Le Cordon Bleu-educated, Sarstedt worked at a number of renowned LA institutions — including BOA Steakhouse, Spago Beverly Hills, Il Soleil and Craig’s in West Hollywood — before exploring the corporate world and joining Cheesecake Factory. “I was there for a little bit, then got an executive chef position at House of Blues Sunset Strip,” he said.
Three years later, he finds himself as the corporate executive chef anticipating shows from the likes of Billy Idol, Lil Wayne and Common in the upcoming weeks. “The standards at the House of Blues are just as high as any other restaurant I’ve worked at,” he said. “The culture is amazing. … My favorite thing is the staff and the camaraderie. We allow tattoos; we allow people to express themselves however they want. It’s a great place to work.”


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ASK RUSS
 
Posted: 1 Mar 2017, 5:00 pm

Following up on last month’s column on severe weather preparedness, two operations staff at Fox Theatre, Atlanta, share what they do and what they’ve learned to prevent injury and protect guests.

Amy Smith, director of Production, Fox Theatre, Atlanta:
My focus is on the fact that we have an uncovered loading dock. We worry about the metal docks and wind. Wind is a danger because of the alley way that we load-in through. We make sure people are not careless about leaving equipment and materials on the dock. We keep a close eye on the loading and unloading process from a safety perspective.
  Proper attire for labor goes hand in hand with weather.  The high winds blow things over and our union does not require steel toe shoes. We have workers with soft shoes on a dock that is metal and an area that is windy. Canada is further ahead with hard rules on hard hats, proper shoes and personal protection equipment. It is coming to the U.S., but slowly.
With front of house, we work with the shows to ask for permission to open the doors into the lobby and theatre as early as possible. We have put this into place before, and shows are generally understanding because of the conditions.
And securing anything on the building exterior is a priority in these situations.
Fortunately, we have had a good deal of experience in a wide variety of situations. One of the benefits of an experienced staff is comfort and familiarity with radio protocols, who talks when. This allows us to communicate in a clear and concise manner to react to and solve situations as they occur. 

Jon Cooper, Guest Experience manager, Fox Theatre:
Many of our frontline employees don’t live in the city. The Atlanta population is spread out all over a metropolitan region, and it is truly a commuter city. I believe that over 70 percent of our Front of House paid staff and perhaps 85 percent of our ushers (volunteers) live outside the city proper. This makes staffing a real challenge when faced with severe weather. If the show is going on and conditions are poor, we see massive cancellations from staff and volunteers. I think many venue managers are so focused on the ways in which inclement weather affect the guest experience, they may overlook significant challenges related to staffing and the contingencies required to meet the show’s needs.
When we have a show going on during severe weather conditions, there appears to be a general resentment from the attendees that the performance/event was not canceled. This may be specific to our area, but we sometimes run into guests that are present but resent the fact they were ‘forced’ to attend.

A piece of advice for all facility types is to prepare for a full evacuation by recording how long it takes for the venue to empty under normal conditions at various levels of attendance. Because of the challenges in communicating a clear evacuation message to both staff and guests, additional time to conduct a full evacuation needs to be added to the normal amount of time it takes to empty the venue. Venue operators need to work backwards to calculate how much time is needed to make the decision to evacuate the venue, communicate with all of the key decision makers, get staff in place and ready for the evacuation, and communicate a clear execution message to all of the guests. 
 
THE BOTTOM LINE
Without proper planning and training, you are counting on luck to determine your outcome.

Russ Simons is...
managing partner, Venue Solutions Group, and has been in this industry for more than three decades, working in arenas, stadiums, design, construction, safety and security. Send questions about any aspect of venue operation to askruss@venuestoday.com or mail questions to Venues Today, P.O. Box 2540, Huntington Beach, CA 92647.


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NICHE CONTENT, MORE TOURS
 
Posted: 1 Mar 2017, 4:35 pm

Finding a solid niche for a secondary market often results in big opportunities and payouts. In a crowded market like Texas, however, this is no easy feat.
Yet, Garland’s 7,500-seat Curtis Culwell Center has capitalized on international concerts, which hold great appeal for its large Middle Eastern community.
“Those events have been our bread and butter, since we’re owned by a school district and don’t sell alcohol,” said John Wilborn, director. “We have a reputation to work with these promoters.”
Still, having a specific niche is not without its challenges. For example, the center’s programming is limited to family and religious shows.
“We won’t get country western acts or comedians, and we don’t even try to go out for those clients anymore,” said Wilborn. “Instead, we’re trying to dominate the religious, Middle Eastern and family show marketplace.”
Its most recent events included Indus Entertainment’s Maestro 1000; Merabox.com’s Farhan Akhtar Live; Gift of Vision’s Shankar Ehsaan Loy; and Funasia’s Vishal Shekar.
“Our biggest concerns right now are with the recent immigration regulations,” said Wilborn. “We have concerts booked and are hoping the individuals can come to the U.S. on work visas as they have in the past. The promoters we deal with are up in the air on this at the moment.”
On a more positive note, the downtown revitalization in some Texas towns has brought in more ticketed events than in the past.
Specifically, Amarillo Civic Center has benefited from a new convention center hotel, parking garage and street scapes.
“We feel these will help convention business, along with a new Xcel Energy regional office and rehabbed lofts in the older warehouse district,” said Bo Fowlkes, the center’s assistant general manager.
The venue, which celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2018, saw a six percent increase in attendance in 2016.
Houston’s 18,000-seat Toyota Center also reported strong numbers, with a 25 percent increase in attendance in 2016 compared to a year prior, according to Scott Manley, assistant general manager, vice president of arena operations.
Other venues, although down, were happy with how business progressed last year. “We were down about 15 percent in 2016, but we had historic numbers in 2015, which was the best year the building had so far,” said Marc Solis, general manager of State Farm Arena in Hidalgo. “We had a robust concert season, and many acts are out on tour, although there are less than in 2015.”

SUCCESSFUL SHOWS
Texas venues are reporting a strong 2016/2017 season, with a mix of musical performers from a wide range of genres, comedians, sporting events and unique entertainment from international, national and local talents.
Dallas’ American Airlines Center will host a record 42 shows in its fiscal year, which ends in June, 2017, despite a couple of cancellations.
Highlights include two Adele performances in November, in addition to more traction from country artists, which have been the focus, including Keith Urban, Eric Church and Carrie Underwood.
“We have a big building, a great market and Dallas is growing like crazy with an additional 144,000 residents,” said Dave Brown, vice president, general manager, American Airlines Center. “Bigger country acts are coming indoors now, and hopefully that trend continues.”
Toyota Center played host to eight Garth Brooks shows and three Kevin Hart performances, in addition to multiple NBA All Star games and the Latin Grammys.
Increased variety was the hallmark of United Supermarkets Arena’s 2016, which hosted a variety of concerts and family shows. These included the return of the Kellogg’s Gymnastics Tour of Champions and the rehearsals and tour kick-off of James Taylor’s U.S. Tour with His All Star Band.    
“Another highlight of the year was hosting Barbara “Mother” Hubbard, as she brought one of her American Collegiate Talent Showcase program winners, Jeff Dunham, back to the Lubbock stage in May as part of his Perfectly Unbalanced Tour,” said Cindy Harper, associate director.  
There also was a good amount of activity in El Paso at both the Abraham Chavez Theatre and The Plaza Theatre, with ticket sales up at both facilities.
“Bob Dylan came right after winning the Nobel Peace Prize,” said Ryan Lympus, assistant general manager for El Paso Live. “Bill Maher is coming up, which is topical and exciting with politics being hot.”
One challenge has been the devalued peso, which has made it more difficult to get audiences from across the border.
“El Paso is an open border and accepting of all cultures, so we make sure our programming attracts those from Mexico as well as Texas and the rest of the U.S.,” said Lympus. 
In recent years, El Paso Live has focused more on festivals and has created four new ones in the last year — the Sun City Craft Beer Fest in April; Taco & Cerveza Fest in May; Ice Cream Festival in July and Winter Fest for six weeks to drive people into downtown El Paso.
Freeman Coliseum in San Antonio hosted 10 concerts in 2016 as well as a successful NXT Live WWE run and Sesame Street Live show.
“We had a good year, with Ricky Martin, Fallout Boys and Shawn Mendez, among others,” said Derrick Howard, executive director of Bexar County Community Arenas.
Solis at State Farm Arena noted that the venue’s ability to buy its own shows and talent, along with co-promoting and renting out the facility, provides expanded opportunities.
“The city recognizes that, to get the entertainment we need, we have to be aggressive and go after the shows ourselves,” said Solis.
Frank Erwin Center, Austin also had a strong 2016, with two Adele dates in November as well as a Sia concert the same weekend and comedian Amy Schumer in December.
“Dolly Parton’s tour here was one of her biggest stops, and the next day we loaded in Andrea Bocelli,” said John Graham, executive senior associate assistant director. “We had icons with different genres of music; the fourth quarter was good for us.”

PROPER POSITIONING
A number of Lone Star State venues have capitalized on partnerships with promoters to increase and enhance bookings in recent years.
Frank Erwin Center works with tour promoters like AEG and Live Nation, which Graham said has been key to its goals.
Another example is American Airlines Center, which regularly partners with Live Nation on content and bookings.
“We have to engage as a promoter would,” said Brown. “We use our assets to do that.”
Its marketing department actively pushes ticket sales, and it keeps close tabs on these as well as opportunities for unsold shows to make sure the gross potential is reached.
“We’re fortunate to have a market that supports multiple shows and genres,” he said. “The key for us is to find dates and be more selective with programming. We can’t miss a show because we’re booked with marginal business; we need to be smarter with how we allocate our dates, since the content is out there. It’s about maximizing bookings from year to year.”
As it familiarizes promoters with its market, the El Paso Live team has received more bookings and improved on its Broadway series in the last few years. This has included longer runs and first-time performances from top ranked musicals, including most recently Phantom of the Opera and The Lion King.
Lympus noted the community is seeking these types of performances.
“We’re seeing how much data is at our fingertips to research groups so we can see what’s a good fit and then market to fans and the demographic,” he said. “There are so many tools for online marketing that are growing monthly, and we do our best to stay on top of it to reach the right audiences for these shows.”
Working with other nearby facilities also has been beneficial for some buildings like the Freeman Coliseum, which has capitalized on its joint marketing relationship with the AT&T Center.

LOOKING AHEAD
The majority of Texas venues are optimistic for 2017.
The year ahead is anticipated to be United Supermarkets Arena’s busiest since its opening in 1999, with the Lubbock debut of Cirque du Soleil’s OVO in March.
“In January, we also announced and went on sale with Garth Brooks for his first performance in the west Texas region in 20 years and his first in Lubbock since a student fraternity group concert festival in 1991,” said Harper.  
El Paso Live’s team’s plans are to continue building relationships with national and regional promoters.
“We recently took over an old baseball stadium and are actively looking at how to repurpose it for shows traveling from eastern Texas through the Southwest,” said Lympus.


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LONE STAR STATE VENUE REVAMPS
 
Posted: 1 Mar 2017, 4:00 pm

Venue renovations may be spurred by natural disasters, aging infrastructure or, in the case of San Antonio’s 65,000-seat Alamodome, a bid to host college sports championship games.
“A couple years ago, we did a study to look at what we needed to do in order to host major sporting events,” said Mike Sawaya, director of convention and sports facilities for the City of San Antonio. “Specifically, we wanted to determine how to be competitive for Final Four and college football championship games.”
Due to the NCAA’s strict guidelines, it was necessary to identify gaps the Alamodome needed to fill.
Work on the $54-million project began in June 2016 and is scheduled for completion this November.
Since 2007, the Alamodome has undergone $26 million in improvements. “But this is the most significant renovation since we opened in 1993,” said Sawaya.
Major elements include expanding concourse widths from 20 to 40 ft. and building a 20,000-sq.-ft. media room at court level.
“In our case, we had to build this underground,” said Sawaya. “This entailed removing soil and dealing with utility surprises.”
The building’s technology also had to be improved, so upgrading video boards and ribbon boards is on the agenda. Other projects include renovating locker rooms to accommodate four teams and building new concession stands. Lighting upgrades to meet current industry standards will be performed to the tune of $1 million. A new bridge also has been added to connect an additional parking lot with the facility. Concessionaire Savor is investing $4 million to upgrade concession stands. Turner Construction, Populous and San Antonio design firm Marmon Mok are heading the project.
In addition to funding the project with $10 million cash on hand and revenue bonds, parking fees were increased from $10 to $15, with $5 earmarked to service the debt. Service charges from ticket sales also will be utilized to finance the project. At press time, the facility was going to market for naming rights.
The building has remained open during the renovation, but will close for six weeks in August for inside infrastructure updates. 
The Freeman Coliseum, also in San Antonio, has spent $18 million in renovations over the last 3 ½ years.
“These have primarily been to keep our facility competitive, clean, safe and unique in the community,” said Derrick Howard, executive director of Bexar County Community Arenas. “The last component was our administrative offices, which we wrapped up eight months ago.”
This past summer, Lubbock’s 15,000-seat United Supermarkets Arena underwent a minor overhaul that included the install of a new center-hung video board, four balcony corner digital displays and a new sound system to support Texas Tech Athletics.
“This was recently preceded by renovations to the men’s and women’s basketball and Texas Tech volleyball team locker rooms and training facilities,” said Cindy Harper, associate director of the venue. “In the next 12 to 18 months, we’re planning to put in a new video wall and update our 200-seat restaurant club, which we hope to have back in operation by this fall.”
In the case of San Antonio’s 18,581-seat AT&T Center, recent renovations were spurred by an effort to improve the guest experience.
In the summer of 2015, Bexar County Commissioners Court gave Spurs Sports & Entertainment the green light to begin up to $101.5 million in improvements and renovations to the county-owned venue, which was 12 years old at the time.
Mission accomplished, according to Lori Warren, senior vice president, corporate finance and strategy. “Some measures we took to meet these objectives were to hold focus groups and invite fans in to get feedback on areas they wanted us to pay attention to,” she said. “We discovered everyone wanted a VIP experience at all levels.”
The infrastructure enhancements, completed at the end of 2015, included new seating arena-wide; improvements to the arena entrances; relocation and expansion of the Fan Shop; expanded concourses in the charter level; updated suite areas; and new fan improvements and seating options in the balcony level.
The Plaza level Whataburger concession area also was expanded and is now open to the general public on non-event days. On the H-E-B Fan Zone level, new bar areas in the northeast and southeast corners were added and the East Porch was transformed to include a food and beverage area. On the Charter level, the Frost and Dahill Saddles & Spurs Clubs were updated with new decor and furnishings, additional bar areas and new food offerings. Rock & Roll Hall of Famers Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley of KISS opened the Rock & Brews restaurant on the west side of the plaza level in late November. Fourteen four-seat theater boxes are a part of the Terrace level, as well.
The centerpiece of the technology updates is a custom-designed digital video system that incorporates a center-hung main video board that is more than four times the size of the previous board.  The square-shaped video board features four main HD displays measuring 20-feet-high and 30-feet-wide. Above the main screens sits a six-foot-tall wraparound LED display. A new control room was also installed to operate the state-of-the-art digital video system, which broadcasts a combination of live video, stats and social media information. A new audio system, LED lighting in the bowl and improved Wi-Fi capabilities round out the technology enhancements.
“Taking out seating at the balcony level allowed fans to see inside the arena from the concourse, and we also added corner bars and took out a concession stand at the East Porch to create a street fair feel with various menu items and beer selections,” said Warren. “The Rock & Brews restaurant integrates indoor and outdoor areas. We were only on a five-month timeline, and it was our team that made it happen.”
Funding for the renovations was secured from both Spurs Sports & Entertainment, which contributed $16.5 million, and $85 million from the Bexar County visitor tax, established by voters in 1999 to build the AT&T Center. In 2008, voters approved an extension of the tax to fund, among other projects, improvements to the AT&T Center, Freeman Coliseum and rodeo grounds, all owned by Bexar County. The visitor tax is paid through a 1.75 percent hotel occupancy tax and a 5 percent short-term motor vehicle rental tax to fund construction of venues and related infrastructure that enhance economic development and tourism.


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SEEING STARS AT THE GREEK
 
Posted: 1 Mar 2017, 4:00 pm

A year into being an open venue to all promoters and managed by SMG, The Greek Theatre, Los Angeles, is looking at hosting 71 shows, plus nine community events.
It was a pivotal year for 80-year-old The Greek Theater, which is owned by the city of Los Angeles. Prior to 2016, the venue was managed by Nederlander Concerts.
“Having different promoters have the ability to book shows really turned things around,” explained Becky Colwell, GM/SMG, Greek Theatre. “Live Nation, Goldenvoice AEG and Nederlander Concerts are all vying for dates and that has really helped boost the activity here.”
Colwell estimated that last year The Greek Theater put on 50-plus shows; this year under the new model they put on 71 shows, plus nine community events. The hard ticket shows saw an attendance of 318,618 and produced $34,709,000 in gross receipts.
“We could have done even more shows, but SMG wanted to cap it at 70 so we could continue to be good neighbors and not create traffic jams,” she said.
Big shows included Pepe Aguilar; Chris Stapleton; Iggy Pop; the Alabama Shakes; Josh Groban; Mumford & Sons and Chance the Rapper.
“We developed dynamic premium seat programs that have worked out really well for us,” said Colwell. “And we’ve increased sponsorships as well.”
The Greek Theatre improved its computer and phone infrastructure; did a complete overhaul of their website (LaGreekTheatre.com), added two new ticketing systems and redid all the concession stands.
“It’s like a whole new place here,” said Colwell. “The city is responsible for all capital improvements, and they invested a lot of capital last year. The dressing rooms were remodeled and updated; we improved the WiFi; we made structural upgrades on the seating areas; we improved the hospitality areas and revamped the drainage system.”
A $5 facility fee was introduced in 2016 that went to the improvements.
The city also put the food and beverage business through the RFP process and Premier Food Services won the contract.
“Premier created a sit-down restaurant area and increased the quality and quantity of the food offerings,” she said. New options, with an emphasis on healthy selections, include roasted turkey & provolone sandwiches, kale & quinoa salads, garden wraps and a black bean and corn veggie burger. The Greek Theatre also increased their wine and beer choices; had a special plaza bar designed and installed and created a new coffee cart, built by cart company Gallery.
The theater introduced online preordering with a different menu, including flank steak and salmon brochettes. Fans can order on The Greek Theatre website or on a mobile phone and pick it up. Premier also partnered with local nonprofit Canning Hunger to train new workers.
The changes brought a food and beverage gross of $4,962,000, with a per cap of $15.57.
“SMG made it a mandate to get old fans to come back and get new fans to The Greek Theatre,” said Colwell. “So we ramped up our social media presence.”
To that end, the theater reworked their Facebook page, which now has 12,510 fans; upped the number of Instagram posts, which now has 8,906 followers and posted more tweets to their 1,558 Twitter followers. The theater had 207 email campaigns and sent 1,200,918 emails. “We think the social media push got our name out to new fans and reminded our old fans of the good times they had at past shows and made them want to revisit us.”
Security got an upgrade, as well. StaffPro has just signed on as security subcontractor, effective this season, and the venue has purchased magnetometers,  said Colwell. “It makes the fans and the artists feel safer and is worth every dollar spent.”
“The fans have been raving about the changes, the city is thrilled with the results of the management switch and the open model has proved to be a big success,” said Colwell. “All in all, it was a very good year at The Greek Theater.”


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TOURS BOOSTED BY BOOMING ECONOMY
 
Posted: 1 Mar 2017, 3:35 pm

Business was impressive for venues in the golden state in 2016. The 25 venues on Venues Today’s Top Stops chart reported gross ticket sales of $327 million, compared to 2015’s $254 million gross. The $73 million up-tick translates into an enormous 22 percent revenue increase from 2015.
Venue operators cited the strengthening economy, the strong lineup of touring shows, capital improvements and in-venue efficiencies as the main reasons 2016 was a very good year.
The top-grossing venue in California’s 15,000-20,000-seats category was The Forum, Inglewood. The music-only facility hauled in more than $60 million in 2016 compared to last year’s $52.5 million, which pushed The Forum up approximately 12.5 percent.
Kanye, Drake, and MANÁ’s Latino Power Tour were the top draws at The Forum in 2016, according to Nick Spampanato, GM, The Forum, and senior VP, MSG.
“We’ve seen a lot more radio shows, a lot more multiples and we’re trying to do a lot more creative marketing,” said Spampanato. “We put 3-D, 24K gold letters on the roof for the Bruno Mars announce. I see technology having a bigger impact on buildings.”
Spampanato cited venues trying things like using a smartphone to download an app and help light up the show as an example of how new technology is shaping the fan experience at The Forum.
The Forum redid their Forum Club in 2016, expanded the terrace, added Boos Cheesesteaks and Loteria Grille, and put in more points-of-sale (POS).
Levi’s Stadium, Santa Clara, hosted Super Bowl 50 last February. “It was the quintessential event for us and arguably the most successful Super Bowl the National Football League (NFL) has ever seen,” said Jim Mercurio, GM and VP of stadiums and operations.
“Operationally it was so well planned and executed that people were taken aback,” he said. “The cooperation from the city and all the parties involved was fantastic. All the things people feared — traffic jams, people taking buses from San Francisco — never materialized. I couldn’t have been more proud of my staff for the job they did.”
Mercurio said the one hiccup was the logistics of getting his employees to the employee parking lot due to the number of hours a bus driver is allowed to work. “That was the only blemish I was unhappy about,” he said.
Mercurio was also proud of how Levi’s Stadium handled a Grateful Dead event. “We’ve learned from past Grateful Dead shows that we really needed to focus on the medical needs of a show like this rather than the security needs, so we ramped by the number of medical staff we had on hand for the shows. It was a piece of the event structure that was pretty important and pretty powerful.”
Mercurio estimated that they had 2-3 times more medical staff than normal for the shows. “The stadium had over 500 calls for service and the number of transports was minimal,” he said. “We didn’t want to burden the local hospitals.”
Levi’s Stadium follows a trend in venue food & beverage (F&B) to incorporate celebrity chefs and high-end restaurants. “People don’t want the basic venue fare anymore,” he said. “They want variety. We’re seeing a shift from fast food to chefs and sous chefs.” Levi’s Stadium partnered with Michael Mina Restaurants, which brought in Bourbon Steak & Pub, and their concessionaire, Centerplate, has a rotating celebrity-chef program.
Reduction of concession and security lines is also a priority. Mercurio implemented a low-tech system for measuring how long a fan stood in a line. “We gave them a slip of paper when they first got on the line with the time written on it and collected it when they passed through security.”
Mercurio also said that having his security walking around in team jerseys was a great way to “keep the honest guy honest and the bad guy on guard as they are walking around the facility.”
The 2016 operating budget for Levi’s Stadium was $7 million, not counting NFL activity.
Planned improvements are all about functionality. “We’re looking at better wayfinding signage; additional parking and traffic signage and additional fire safety measures,” Mercurio said.
Lee Zeidman, president, Staples Center, Los Angeles, for AEG, said that shows by Justin Bieber, the BET Experience, Barbra Streisand, Drake and eight sold-out Adele shows helped push the venue to its second most profitable year in its history.
2016 was also L.A. Lakers’ star Kobe Bryant’s last professional basketball game.
“We broke two records that day,” said Zeidman. “Merchandise sales exceeded $1.2 million and per caps were $61.01 per person.” The previous merchandise record for AEG Facilities was Led Zeppelin at the O2 Arena in London in 2007 at $1 million.
On the food and beverage side, Staples Center and their concessionaire Levy Restaurants grossed over $532,000 on Kobe’s last game day, with a per cap of $26.86. An average F&B per cap for the Lakers 2016 season was $21.14.
Prior to Bryant’s final game, the Los Angeles Lakers, Staples Center and L.A. Live hosted a free fan fest which featured interactive games, photo and autograph booths, large “Thank You” banners for fans to sign for Bryant, face painting and a DJ. Estimated crowd attendance throughout the day was 40,000 people for the fan fest.
Zeidman said that festivals are a trend he’s watching closely, and he expects this summer to be the return of the stadium show. “Both are eating into the arena market,” he said.
He expects to see more political statement events as “we move into a politically charged world.”
In 2016, Staples Center renovated all 154 private suites, 16 event suites and all the premium level concession stands. “It was all done without shutting down the building,” he said. The budget was $5 million; Meis Architects was the designer; Steiner Brothers did the construction.
Staples Center redid two of their premium bars, Cooks Corner and The Bus Stop, resurfaced them, refaced them and added improved menu items. They also upgraded the Skyline Grill and the Spotlight Grill with new equipment and new POS systems and added new food choices. Staples Center also brought in celebrity chefs and redid all the concession stands. The budget for the concession upgrades was $4 million.
“It’s doing phenomenal business, we’re up five percent on F&B,” he said. We have the first Blaze Pizza in a venue in the country and, seeing it’s success, other innovative approaches toward F&B are going to be continued focus for us.”
Zeidman touted the way Staples Center is using data to make the ordering process easier and faster, using Levy Restaurants’ E15 analytics division. “We’re all about moving people through the lines quicker and back into their seats to enjoy the event,” he said.
Staples Center spent $750,000 on upgrading the entire camera system at the venue.
“We are up to 350 cameras and, when we are done, we’ll have in excess of 600 cameras,” he said. They also instituted new polices to coordinate the efforts of all three of the campus security centers on the campus. Staples Center has been using magnetometers since 9/11. “We use them for every event including all employee entrances.”
“2016 was a really good year for us, probably the best year we’ve had in 10 years,” said Steve Tadlock, GM, Save Mart Center, Fresno, and regional VP, SMG.
High profile shows by Paul McCartney, Garth Brooks, Justin Bieber, Luke Bryan, Pitbull and Carrie Underwood all helped push Save Mart Center to its best numbers since 2006 and up a whopping 52 percent.
Save Mart Center reported sales from 37 shows in 2016, with an average gross of $445,000 and an average attendance of 7,000.
“The market has really responded to our shows,” he said. Tadlock thought having a variety of genres, their central geographic location and Fresno’s flexible routing opportunities were all reasons why this year was so lucrative.
“We’ve got a production-friendly building and we’re reasonably priced compared to some other venues in the state and our availability is often favorable,” added Tadlock.
Tickets prices ranged from $10-$300 and the operating budget for 2016 was $4.4 million.
Improvements at Save Mart Center in 2016 included re-carpeting all the artist dressing rooms, the locker rooms and hallways. Slated to be upgraded in 2017 are the POS systems; local food offerings from their concessionaire Savor/Premier and WiFi capabilities. The POS upgrade budget is $350,000.
Kristi Reedy, director of marketing, Valley View Casino Center, San Diego, said that shows by Justin Bieber; Selena Gomez; Juan Gabriel (a week before he passed away); nine Cirque Du Soleil “Toruk” shows; San Diego Sockers indoor soccer matches and the return of the San Diego Gulls of the American Hockey League, who returned to the center after being away for six years, all contributed to a great year at the center. “The Gulls broke records for attendance and revenue,” said Reedy.
“It seems like live entertainment and sporting events are on the upswing,” she said. “People are willing to spend their money again.” Tickets ranged from $15-$150.
F&B is “going awesome,” said Reedy. “When the Gulls came back, we switched concessionaires from Aramark to Levy Restaurants and we completely redid our F&B and changed our food story. We added food stands, transformed others, and we now have what we call ‘a tasting of San Diego’ here with food from popular local eateries.”
Improvements to the venue will include adding an indoor/outdoor patio area and a premium area with naming rights already snatched up by Rums of Puerto Rico.
Valley View Casino Center has taken security in-house. “This way we know who we hire,” said Reedy. “The employees also feel more ownership and pride with security being under our control.”
“We were definitely up in 2016,” said Don Graham, VP, events and production, Microsoft Theater and LA Live for AEG. “We were up around 10 percent across the board.”
Microsoft Theater had a lot of success with ‘throwback shows’ last year like R&B Rewind and 80s revival shows. Latin shows with Marc Anthony and Banda MS were also big draws. “I think these types of shows where people relive their youth are going to continue to be big in 2017.” Graham also sees a trend starting for “non-hardcore EDM shows, like Porter Robinson.” 
Microsoft Theater did a multimillion remodel last year and Graham believes that helped attract acts they wouldn’t have gotten before the renovation like The Neighbourhood and The Pet Shop Boys. “Typically we thought they’d go to an outdoor venue but our new amenities and vibe of the building is bringing them here.”
Microsoft is a new naming rights sponsor for the venue, which used to be Nokia Theatre, and many of the renovations were spurred on by the new sponsorship. “We needed to change the look and feel of the venue to be in line with the Microsoft brand,” said Graham.
Changes included redoing all the lobbies; adding in a history wall of all the acts and award shows that have played the building; upgrading the VIP areas; renovating dressing rooms and Green Rooms; creating a game room and redoing the entire downstairs lobby, bringing in comfortable places to sit, new restrooms and new concessions.
“We were trying to tie in a lot of the new aspects of technology that Microsoft brings to the table,” said Graham. “We created a vibey lounge, and the centerpiece is a ‘mood wall’ that people can walk through, which moves and breathes and changes colors with your emotions.” There’s also a 3-D mapping wall and a tricked-out selfie booth.
“We want the downstairs lobby to have a special feel so people want to go down there,” said Russ Gordon, senior director of events and venues operations. “And it is a great stand-alone space that we are renting out when the theater is dark.”
The theater had great success with offering a discount to guests who come early.
“Along with Levy Restaurants, we improved all the F&B in the venue,” said Graham. “We have chefs doing special items for each show, and our F&B per caps were up $2 per head from 2015 to 2016.”
Microsoft Theater also installed a new curtaining system that allows them flexibility in seating. “We can go from a 7,100-seat show, to a 4,500-seat show, back to a 5,300-seat show at the push of a button,” said Graham. “It’s a win-win for the whole campus to be able to attract different-size shows.”
“2016 was a great year,” said Tim Ryan, CEO, Honda Center, Anaheim, Calif., and COO, Anaheim Ducks. “We had 165 shows. Garth Brooks and Tricia Yearwood sold 50,000 tickets by themselves.” Ryan said Honda Center was up 10 percent from 2015.  He credits a winning team and quality events as reasons for the bump.
Ryan was happy with the Live Nation-produced show, Country Mega Ticket, which was put on in conjunction with San Manuel Amphitheater, San Bernardino, Calif., each venue doing a portion of the multi-night festival for one package ticket price. “We never did a show with another venue, and it was wildly successful,” he said.
Tickets ranged from $15-$350 at Honda Center, the operating budget was $20 million and Ryan is a fan of dynamic ticketing models and variable pricing. “We have an analytics department that pays very close attention to that,” he said. “For sports we do it in-house and for concerts we work with Ticketmaster.”
Ryan said he sees a trend toward venues looking to what is going on outside their facilities. “We’re always looking at development possibilities around us,” he said. “Our ownership has a keen interest in what’s happening around our facility and not just in our facility. “We want to be part of a state-of-the-art entertainment district surrounding Honda Center and Angel Stadium.”
Honda Center took their F&B in-house a few years ago. “We’re looking at doubling the size of our sushi bar and adding more branded stands,” said Ryan. “Fans want great food as quickly as possible and that’s the constant challenge.”
Honda Center just finished installing a seven-figure POS system, which will allow all orders to be processed on iPads. They improved their WiFi capabilities, going from 1:100 access points to 1:25 access points and they are looking at replacing all their LED lighting. Honda Center also upgraded their camera system and they’ve increased patrols around the facility, adding security teams on bikes.


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CENTRAL VALLEY IS REHEARSAL CENTRAL
 
Posted: 1 Mar 2017, 3:00 pm

Save Mart Center, Fresno, Calif., has carved out a profitable cottage industry in renting the facility to artists to rehearse their shows. Paul McCartney, Neil Diamond, Bruno Mars, Metallica and The Lumineers all recently prepped their tours at Save Mart Center.
“We’re seeing a lot more rehearsal bookings,” said Steve Tadlock, GM and VP, SMG.
Tadlock pointed to the low cost of renting the venue relative to other similar venues in the state, their capabilities, their central valley geographic location and their service level as the main draws of Save Mart Center to artists.
“Our proximity to Los Angeles is perfect,” he said. “We’re close enough to get what you need up here yet far enough that you can be left alone.” Another advantage of being so close to Los Angeles is that the artist can go back and forth. “They come, do their thing and fly back home without staying the night,” said Tadlock.
Availability is another key component. “Because we only have collegiate sports tenants, when we get past the first week of March, we have multiple consecutive days of good availability,” he said.
The artists pay a flat fee for the space, but if a show is associated with the booking, there’s a discounted rate. “More times than not, shows start their tour here after a rehearsal,” said Tadlock.
Tadlock told a touching story of turning a rehearsal-only show into a benefit. “Luis Miguel booked the venue for a rehearsal only,” explained Tadlock. “We said, ‘if you are going to rehearse the show why not do it with an audience and get the feedback?’” Miguel agreed and turned the rehearsal into a benefit for The Valley Children’s Hospital, selling low-cost tickets.
Customer service is the last piece of the puzzle. “We have a great team here and we ask, ‘what can we do?’ instead of being the ‘no’ police and saying ‘we can’t do that’,” said Tadlock.


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NCAA's #2 Addresses eSports, HB2
 
Posted: 22 Feb 2017, 7:00 pm

Dave Butler, Spectra Ticketing & Fan Engagement; Bonnie Bernstein, Campus Insider; Oliver Luck, NCAA, and Jane Kleinberger, Spectra, at PACnet '17. (VT Photo)

REPORTING FROM NEWPORT BEACH, CALIF. – Oliver Luck, the NCAA’s number two in charge today, likens eSports to the sanctioned college sport of rifle. Esports is a new phenomenon and the jury is out as to whether college presidents would ever allow it to be the NCAA’s 25th sanctioned sport, but as far as athleticism is concerned, it’s arguable.

That said, he also insisted content creation is so much more important today. Sports is human drama. Music is the universal language. And once the show is booked or the game is on, content is still the focus, this time by creating moments for individual fans. “I like the kiss-cam,” Luck admits.

Luck, NCAA EVP of regulatory affairs, addressed that topic, his career in sports and issues like politics and HB2’s impact on the upcoming Men’s Basketball Tournament (the first round begins March 17-18) during PACnet ’17 here. Dave Butler, president and CEO, Spectra Ticketing & Fan Engagement, introduced Luck after prepping the clients, users and partners on the week ahead, emphasizing that Spectra’s Paciolan Platform  has a new look thanks to new integration with a variety of partners, and promising several upcoming days of revelation and celebration to the 750 in attendance.

Luck told attendees he believes it’s hard to alienate the older fan base. “It’s more important to develop young fans. There is no guarantee this generation will keep going to ballparks like we did. Stadiums are getting downsized. One of the issues for all of us is the demographics we are chasing,” Luck said.

Bonnie Bernstein, VP of content and brand development, Campus Insiders, interviewed Luck during this presentation, pressing him on the NCAA’s decision to move men’s basketball out of venues in North Carolina because of that state’s HB2 laws.

“It seems like college athletics, professional sports and the music world have been pretty united in approach and posture vis-a-vis North Carolina,” Luck said. “The other aspect of this is there are six or seven states that have prohibited nonessential state travel to the state of North Carolina. Our selection committee puts together the basketball bracket and, all of a sudden, we are facing this issue that a team from California, a state school, might not get the funding to travel to play against another school in North Carolina. That’s another aspect that is making it difficult for our committees. That’s how we seed; it’s difficult to keep the integrity of the bracket.”

But it’s a moving target. Saying it’s the NCAA’s desire to make sure all its athletes, coaches and fans are comfortable, Luck also acknowledged that politically, there are now five or six states, including Texas, considering legislation similar to what North Carolina has done.

NCAA policy decisions are made by a board of governors made up of college presidents. “We’re a democratic organization. Everybody votes,” Luck said. His only suggestion for venue managers in states affected by such laws is to “engage with your trade association, like the North Carolina Sports Commission. They’re very well aware of the effect on pro, college and even amateur sports.”

“It’s a challenge. Having said that, you look to this historically; we took a stand on the Confederate flag and on single-sport gambling. We still don’t allow championships to be held in the state of Nevada. We have somewhat of a history of decisions based on social policies,” Luck said of the NCAA.

Regarding eSports, Luck told PACnet attendees that people are voting with their feet. If there is an arena filled with 18,000 people who bought a ticket to watch esports, it’s a real business. I might find it odd, but I’m just old.”

Coordination and skill are involved. “West Virginia University has won 17 NCAA championships in one sport – rifle,” Luck said. “When you watch a rifle match, the person will stand for 15 minutes or so. It’s all about controlling your heartbeat before shooting. That’s not that much different from sitting in a chair playing a video game. I think eSports has a real future.”

The announcement that the National Basketball Association is starting an e-league intrigued Luck as well, but he hesitated to speculate on its standing with the NCAA.

“There are lots of things that are big on campus that don’t become NCAA sports, like rugby and Frisbee. It’s something we’re looking at,” he said.

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Oliver Luck addressing PACnet '17. (VT Photo)

Luck’s first job in the industry was running a franchise in a new, now defunct league, the World League of American Football. His baby was the Frankfurt (Germany) Galaxy and “the only metric that mattered was attendance. The Germans had no clue about American football.”

He soon learned that attendance often depends on things unrelated to the game, Luck told the ticketing pros in attendance.

After American Football was described in the German press as short bursts of violence followed by a committee meeting, Luck knew he had to shake things up to draw fans. So he hired the best DJ he could find to be the announcer. Soon the press was calling it “Europe’s biggest open air disco.”

His next stint was with the Harris County-Houston Sports Authority while NRG Park, Minute Maid Park and Toyota Center were being built. He parlayed that into a job with AEG, which was moving the San Jose (Calif.) Earthquakes to Houston to be the town’s Major League Soccer team, the only pro sport Houston lacked at the time.

That led to his next big lesson — how to cut your losses. The decision was made to name the team Houston 1836, a page out of world soccer tradition and in honor of the year Houston was founded. Unfortunately, especially given the large number of Hispanic fans the team expected to draw, it was also the year Mexico lost Houston.

Luck’s boss at the time was Phil Anschutz, Anschutz Entertainment Group, and Anschutz called Luck to say his team thought the consternation over the name would blow over. Luck thought not. “Then change the damn name,” Anschutz said.

Flash forward, and Luck is putting all those lessons learned to work at the NCAA, overseeing sports for 46,000 student athletes. “We get more kids to college on scholarships than anything but the GI Bill,” he said. “We teach them to compete.”

The thread throughout his career is that “it’s all about people and how we treat people. Sports is human drama. That will never change,” Luck said.


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Orlando City Stadium Brings Safe Standing
 
Posted: 22 Feb 2017, 6:00 pm

Rendering of Orlando City Stadium.

As white steel continued to rise from Orlando City Soccer Club’s new downtown home, providing a glimmering reflection for Florida sun and Major League Soccer’s latest venue, the purple seats that fill the 25,500-capacity venue provided a distinct contrast for a venue hosting its first regular-season match March 5.

And while capacity at Orlando City Stadium was a major focal point for the project—the original scope was to accommodate 18,000 fans. The change forced a quick evolution of design from architect Bruce Miller’s team at Kansas City-based Populous to reach 25,500 by opening day.

A supporters’ section inside a soccer-specific stadium takes on a life of its own. These all-in fans simply stand on benches and seats, often beating up the equipment and posing a safety risk. So Miller introduced the first-ever safe standing section in North America, a 3,800-capacity section with a steep rake that starts just 15 feet from the pitch in the north end.

“It took a lot of thought and discussion internally to get it right,” Miller said. “We think we have gotten it right. It will create an atmosphere that is conducive to the fan experience.”

A rail between each 24-inch row eliminates any possibility of crushing, while offering an anchor for a much-needed cup holder. Along with the safe standing, the north end section includes platforms for drummers and group leaders. “The whole building feeds off their energy,” he said. “It is going to be intimidating.”

Orlando City brings one of the largest soccer-specific venues to North America for the team’s third season. The 100 percent privately funded project sits two blocks from the Amway Center with a 360-degree lower bowl, a galvanized-metal canopy to enhance crowd noise and provide fan shelter from weather, LED field lighting and fan plazas spanning 10,000 square feet.

With the goal of putting all the attention on the 90 minutes worth of action on the field, Miller said this soccer venue has fewer aisles than a typical stadium—in-game concessions aren’t as popular in soccer—and a seating bowl less broken up by premium seating. Instead, the premium seats and fan-gathering areas take on new locations.

The corners of the venue offer terrace opportunities, one with a giant bar and another directly underneath the videoboard. The supporter’s section has its own dedicated balcony overlooking the outside streets.

For its suites, Orlando City Stadium has two contrasting opportunities, both on the west side of the north-south oriented stadium, one a skyline suite style in the upper level and the other lower down, just 10 rows from the playing surface. “The two premium products for suites suit different types of viewers,” Miller said.

Also, a midlevel stadium club has an oversized internal space with a terrace that looks out to the pitch to create “really unique premium spaces in the building.” The spacing of premium seats was made easier by dropping the field eight feet below ground level and splitting the bowl. Fans enter at grade and the main concourse, which wraps the entire stadium, allows 12 rows below the entrance, with the rest of the seats above the concourse.

By keeping the concourse open, not only can the seating bowl welcome breezes to flow through and create an “airy" feel even though it is a 25,000-seat building,” but it also allows fans to remain oriented to the field at all times. “You always have a view back to the field,” Miller said. “The supporter’s section is always in view. It really has a Florida feel to the building with all the open space.”

 


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New Albany Convention Center To Open
 
Posted: 22 Feb 2017, 6:00 pm

Rendering of the exterior of the new Albany (N.Y.) Capital Convention Center.

The hospitality industry in Albany, N.Y., is breaking out champagne glasses to celebrate the opening of the city’s new convention center. A ribbon-cutting ceremony takes place March 1.

The new Albany Capital Center has been years in the making and to see it come to fruition is an exciting accomplishment for those close to the project.

“I’m excited to say the least,” said Doug McClaine, general manager of the center.

The $78-million convention center will have all the bells and whistles of a new structure, including programmable LED lighting that can be configured for any new events. 

05-NEW_INTERIOR_LOWER_LEVEL_PRE-FUNCTION.jpgRendering of the interior of Albany (N.Y.) Capital Convention Center.

It also will have a 22,000-sq.-ft. ballroom, 13,500 sq. ft. of pre-function space and 9,200 square feet of meeting space across six rooms.

SMG will manage the convention center and catering services will be provided by Mazzone Hospitality.

Perhaps the most dynamic aspect of the opening of the Albany Capital Center is the fact that it completes a much bigger project.

The convention center is a part of the Capital Complex, which is a conglomeration of four venues, that all are connected via heated walkways in downtown Albany.

The four venues make up a total of 150,000 sq. ft. of space and is the largest complex of its kind in upstate New York, McClaine said, highlighting that the complex is within walking distance of restaurants, hotels, shops, art galleries, night clubs and museums.

“They really put a lot of thought into this facility,” McClaine said. “It’s truly a multipurpose space.”

The ballroom has 26-ft. ceilings — a design that makes it possible to turn the room into basketball or volleyball courts, or it could just be used for dinner space. Additionally, the design, the bandwidth, is top of the line and the audio-visual system has 4K standards.

The goal was to make sure the building’s structure and components to be relevant beyond 2017, McClaine said.

“We can brand any event into anything you want with our LED lighting,” he added.

The convention center is being paid for and operated by the Albany Convention Authority, which gets its funding from the state. The Albany Capital Center was approved by the New York legislature and governor.

“We’ve had a sales team in place for a year, selling the space,” McClaine said.

Its neighboring Times Union Center — Albany’s big arena — is in the process of getting a $29-million facelift that’s been broken into two phases, with the first one being the completion of a new atrium with waterfalls and LED light displays in April, said Bob Belber, SMG regional general manager.

The arena seats up to 15,000 people at sporting events and up to 17,000 for other events.

Albany County owns the arena and a lodging tax collected through the county and state is paying for both the arena and the convention center.

“The economic impact to the area is going to be outstanding,” Belber said.

On March 1, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo will commence the ribbon-cutting and release the economic impact figures, Belber said.

Last December, it was announced that the American Hockey League team, the Devils, are leaving Albany and relocating to Binghamton due to declining  attendance.

“At one time, the hockey team had 6,300 attendees per game,” Belber said, highlighting that in recent years, that figure had dropped to around 3,000 or so per game. “I understand the reasons the Devils had to make a move to Binghamton.”

He sees the move as a positive in terms of a profit verses loss standpoint, as the arena was losing roughly $200,000 a year having the Devils play at the arena. All the while, Belber would have to turn away weekend business 85 percent of the time since the hockey team was playing.

The arena will now book the weekends with concerts and family shows, which is projected to help the arena profit roughly $500,000 a year.

“From the profit and loss side of it, the client is going to be much better off financially,” Belber said. 

The new convention center and the renovations at Times Union Center will literally shine bright from all the changes, he noted.

On the outside atrium of the arena, two 15-foot-high LED video boards will play music videos and other entertainment for passersby, giving downtown Albany a “Times Square” feel, Belber said.

The weekend of March 4, the convention center also will have a basketball tournament, a craft beer fest and a mac and cheese fest.

 


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How Church Canceled 25,000 Tickets
 
Posted: 22 Feb 2017, 5:00 pm

Eric Church plays to a sold-out crowd at Target Center, Minneapolis, Minn. (Photo Credit: Reid Long)

(This story has been enhanced since originally published.)

Eric Church has been on a Don Quixote-like quest for the past few years to smack down scalpers who he says snatch tickets from the hands of his true fans. He's tried paperless tickets that require photo ID's, sweeps of purchase orders to make sure that no more than six tickets are attributed to the same household, and this week, flat-out canceling more than 25,000 tickets for his spring tour that he suspected were purchased by scalpers.

"We've been doing this for a quite a long time… trying to identify tickets that have been purchased for the purpose of reselling them to make money," said Fielding Logan of Church's management firm, Q Prime South. "We're not talking about a fan who buys four tickets and then sells two because of some circumstance. It's super-organized scalpers who are technologically savvy."

The best inventory for each show (around 3,000 tickets per) was protected and sold through a fan club presale that Logan estimated had at best 1-2 percent scalper activity. With an average ticket price of $40-$50 in the general on sale, the estimated value of the canceled tickets was more than $1 million. Asked to guess what the resale value was on those tickets, Logan put the figure at likely double — or $2 million-plus.

The Q Prime team has been fine-tuning a proprietary technology over the past few years to attack the problem, but never on this scale. With Church's tour slated to kick off on Thursday (Feb. 23) at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Fielding said the team has spent years poring over order lists to ferret out buying patterns or suspicious activity – such as big orders of tickets from cities far away from a given show – and searching for other clues that tip a scalper's hand, then automating the review process to cancel out those tickets.

The result? A system that, in this case, had a reported accuracy rate of 99 percent.

The process has created what Logan called a "scalper's blacklist," which is automatically checked against a new order list, then paired with some good old-fashioned, "labor intensive" sorting that involves many, many man hours of searching. That dragnet does occasionally sweep up a genuine fan, in which case the person is given an email support address where a member of the Q Prime team can sort out the issues.

Another method Church's team uses to disincentivize scalpers who are not as easily spooked is by telling them they can have their six tickets if they don't try to change the name on the order and if they show up at will-call with a photo ID. "At that point they'll usually either reinstate their order or cancel it," he said.

The efforts have the full support of the "Holdin' My Own Tour" promoter Louis Messina of The Messina Group. "Eric is on a mission, and I love that instead of talking about it, an artist actually does something about it," Messina said. "To me it's healthy for the business all over. It sickens me when we are trying to keep our tickets in a good price range and we go online and tickets are selling for $1,000 each and the artist doesn't share in any of that money."

Messina knows Church could be charging much more than he is for the top-tier tix on his tour, but he agrees that paying five times the face value is a lose-lose for fans and the artist. As to why the team waited five months after tickets for the 65 shows went on sale, Messina said it's a laborious process and management wanted to make a big statement by doing it all at once to get the message out.

"We're not gonna stop here," he said. "This won't be the only time we do this."

But what happens when a legitimate fan is targeted and their tickets are canceled out? "We engage them and they typically will send us a screen shot of their travel confirmations," Logan said. Or, in the case of one group from Nashville, a three-minute slick video including sad puppy dog faces and a narrative explaining their rather large ticket purchase. "We're always glad to reinstate an order when we have mistakenly caught a fan," he said.

David Marcus, head of music at Ticketmaster, said Church’s team could not have done what they did without TM’s support and that they are “very confident” in the amount of due diligence Q Prime did to identify bad actors. He isn’t sure if it was the best way to go about it and said that if TM had been ready to roll out their new Verified Fan product at the time Church’s tour went up last summer things might have been different.

“Using this automated system [Verified Fan] we can distinguish between a real fan and a scalper up front,” he said, describing the system as a mixture of data science and algorithms based on account information in TM’s data base that can identify people who are likely to use the tickets versus those likely to resell them. “The goal is to make sure people who buy the tickets use them,” he said. Verified Fan rolled out on Nov. 10 for a Dead & Company tour and has expanded to on-sales for The 1975, Muse and, most recently, Ryan Adams and Marcus said data indicates that secondary posting rates on pre sales have dropped to 1-2 percent.

“This is a massive initiative for us because at Ticketmaster we are huge believers in getting the right ticket to the right fan at the right price,” Marcus said. “There are artists like Eric who want to ensure that all tickets are going to their fans and some artists who want to balance that against the opportunity to market price their seats in a venue and this presents a great chance to achieve that balance. As fast as we can introduce it [VF] to artists they are adopting.”

A California ticket reseller (who preferred to remain anonymous) said the statement from Church's team noted the action was targeting scalpers (not bots) and companies like hers buy and resell tickets by having their employees queue up like "everyone else" during on-sales. "We don't use bots, and these seats went on sale on Sept. 5, and now it's five months after… My main concern is for how long he's waited to do this and what it does to the people who bought tickets legitimately and lost them… I assume if it was bots, they should have been able to notice it quickly." A spokesperson for the NATB had not returned requests for comment at press time.

The point, of course, according to Logan, is to ensure as accurately as possible that the people who are in their seats at each of Church's shows are true fans who paid a fair-market price for their tickets. Given the broker's concerns, how confident are they in their methods?

Of the 25,000 canceled tickets, Logan looked at a spreadsheet of orders and saw that 336 tickets – or 85 orders – had been reinstated at press time. "I feel like that's a very, very small percentage of the overall tickets. There's another 5,000 or so on this tour that we're pretty sure are scalpers, but I don't want to have my error rate go from 1% to 3% and that many more customer service issues because we got too aggressive," he said.

Anecdotally, he added, when they find they've made a mistake and reinstated tickets, fans say they understand and are appreciative. "Real fans get the big picture,” he said.

StubHub spokesperson Glen Lehrmann said in a statement to Venues Today that: "As a secure marketplace, StubHub supports the rights of fans to buy, sell and transfer tickets safely. For every event listed on StubHub, buyers and sellers are protected by our Fan Protect Guarantee. In the rare occurrence a buyer runs into an issue, StubHub will find replacement tickets or offer a full refund."

Logan's team does sometimes struggle when they identify someone who is probably a fan but has, say, bought 14 tickets and Q Prime decides to bump them back down to the allowed 6-per order limit as a precaution. "One reason the limits are there is to give more people a chance to buy six tickets to a hot show," he said. "We wrestle with that and acknowledge that it could be a real fan, but the other reason is to spread the wealth. Our long play here is to make it be one of the most painful acts for brokers to leach onto."

Some of the affected dates had as many as 1,200 tickets nulled, some just over 100. There is a cost involved in doing things this way – one Logan declined to specifically enumerate – but between the staffers and interns in the Q Prime South office and one or two hourly workers who are brought in to help, he said it is well worth the effort to engage with, help and reassure fans who are impacted.

If all goes as planned, Logan said brokers and scalpers, who are buying tickets across many different tours, will feel so much pain from Church's team that they will simply stop trying. Publicizing the strategy with press releases and interviews is part of that plan.

And he's already seen results, as the final show to go on sale — an April 22 date at US Bank Arena in Cincinnati that was put up after the cancelations – appeared not to have buys from groups that purchased on many other stops. "We did 12,000 tickets after the first day on sale and I feel the strategy is working to drive them to softer targets or other artists," Logan said. "A happy byproduct from a managerial point of view is that Eric is coming from a place where he is trying to look out for his fans, which is a win-win for him and his fans."


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Henry New GM in Owensboro
 
Posted: 22 Feb 2017, 3:50 pm

Blake_Henry.jpgBlake Henry

Blake Henry has joined the City of Owensboro (Ky.) and Spectra by Comcast Spectacor, as general manager of both the Owensboro Convention Center and Owensboro Sportscenter. Henry most recently served as director of operations at Baton Rouge (La.) Convention Center. Prior to that he was with Staples Center, Los Angeles; executive director for the YC Performing Arts Center, Prescott, Ariz.; and general manager of the Nokia Theatre and the Best Buy Theater, both in Times Square in New York City. Henry’s first day with Spectra is Thursday, February 23.
 


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Hot Tickets for February 22, 2017
 
Posted: 22 Feb 2017, 2:00 pm

Bon Jovi, Bridgestone Arena, Nashville, Tenn.

Bon Jovi kicked off their “This House Is Not for Sale” tour on Feb. 8, at the Bon Secours Wellness Arena, Greenville, S.C. But it was their sixth stop at the Bridgestone Arena, Nashville, Tenn., that made our Hot Tickets chart this week. The sold-out, Live Nation-promoted event set an attendance record with 18,514 fans filling the seats for the iconic rock band’s two-and-a half hour set and grossing nearly $1.8 million.

Cher debuted her new residency, “Classic Cher," at Park Theater at Monte Carlo, Las Vegas, on Feb. 8-11, with three shows grossing a total of $1.6 million. With ticket prices ranging from $60 - $470 and over 13,000 fans in attendance, Cher dazzled crowds with her extravagant stage show.
 

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 Jan. 24-Feb. 21.

15,001 or More Seats

10,001-15,000 Seats

5,001-10,000 Seats

5,000 or Fewer Seats

1) Drake
Gross Sales: $5,575,039; Venue: The O2 Arena, London; Attendance: 64,093; Ticket Range: $139.08-$57.95; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Jan. 30-Feb. 5; No. of Shows: 4

2) Drake
Gross Sales: $2,837,146; Venue: The O2 Arena, London; Attendance: 32,640; Ticket Range: $139.08-$57.95; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Feb. 14-15; No. of Shows: 2

3) Black Sabbath
Gross Sales: $2,288,564; Venue: The O2 Arena, London; Attendance: 30,370; Ticket Range: $100.10-$63.22; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Jan. 29-31; No. of Shows: 2

4) Andrea Bocelli
Gross Sales: $2,180,919; Venue: Amway Center, Orlando, Fla.; Attendance: 12,692; Ticket Range: $649-$75; Promoter: Gelb Promotions; Dates: Feb. 11; No. of Shows: 1

5) Bon Jovi
Gross Sales: $1,767,099; Venue: Bridgestone Arena, Nashville, Tenn.; Attendance: 18,514; Ticket Range: $552.75-$19.75; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Feb. 18; No. of Shows: 1

1) Eric Church
Gross Sales: $855,102; Venue: Infinite Energy Arena, Duluth, Ga.; Attendance: 12,228; Ticket Range: $89-$29; Promoter: Messina Touring Group, AEG Live; Dates: Feb. 16; No. of Shows: 1

2) Twenty One Pilots
Gross Sales: $510,780; Venue: Intrust Bank Arena, Wichita, Kan.; Attendance: 10,415; Ticket Range: $49; Promoter: Mammoth; Dates: Feb. 3; No. of Shows: 1

3) Erykah Badu
Gross Sales: $458,482; Venue: Atlantic City (N.J.) Boardwalk Hall; Attendance: 5,479; Ticket Range: $125-$59; Promoter: North American Entertainment Group, Platinum Productions; Dates: Feb. 11; No. of Shows: 1

4) Brantley Gilbert
Gross Sales: $240,556; Venue: Bryce Jordan Center, University Park, Pa.; Attendance: 6,770; Ticket Range: $39.75-$29.75; Promoter: Frank Productions, NS2, CMoore Live; Dates: Feb. 3; No. of Shows: 1

5) The Sadies
Gross Sales: $134,612; Venue: Budweiser Gardens, London, Ontario; Attendance: 3920; Ticket Range: $47.05-$27.92; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Feb. 14; No. of Shows: 1

1) Cher
Gross Sales: $1,599,900; Venue: Park Theater at Monte Carlo Las Vegas; Attendance: 13,671; Ticket Range: $475-$60; Promoter: AEG Live, MRES; Dates: Feb. 8-11; No. of Shows: 3

2) Eric Church
Gross Sales: $615,193; Venue: Landers Center, Southaven, Miss.; Attendance: 9,809; Ticket Range: $89-$25; Promoter: Messina Touring Group, AEG Live; Dates: Feb. 18; No. of Shows: 1

3) Band of Brothers
Gross Sales: $508,643; Venue: Park Theater at Monte Carlo Las Vegas; Attendance: 3,572; Ticket Range: $208-$78; Promoter: MRES; Dates: Jan. 29; No. of Shows: 1

4) Alan Jackson
Gross Sales: $390,917; Venue: Pensacola (Fla.) Bay Center; Attendance: 6,031; Ticket Range: $99.50-$39.50; Promoter: AEG Live; Dates: Jan. 27; No. of Shows: 1

5) Simple Minds, B52s
Gross Sales: $382,428; Venue: Hordern Pavilion, Sydney; Attendance: 4,362; Ticket Range: $88.81; Promoter: Frontier Touring Company; Dates: Feb. 9; No. of Shows: 1

1) Harry Potter in Concert
Gross Sales: $372,975; Venue: DeVos Performance Hall, Grand Rapids, Mich.; Attendance: 6,649; Ticket Range: $90-$32; Promoter: Grand Rapids Symphony; Dates: Jan. 27-28; No. of Shows: 3

2) Band of Brothers
Gross Sales: $310,868; Venue: The Theater at MGM National Harbor, Oxon Hill, Md.; Attendance: 2,647; Ticket Range: $188-$68; Promoter: MRES; Dates: Feb. 2; No. of Shows: 1

3) David Bintley’s Carmina Burana
Gross Sales: $266,569; Venue: Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre, Atlanta; Attendance: 4,941; Ticket Range: $125-$22; Promoter: Atlanta Ballet; Dates: Feb. 3-11; No. of Shows: 6

4) Kem
Gross Sales: $265,625; Venue: Fox Theatre, Atlanta; Attendance: 2,741; Ticket Range: $150-$60; Promoter: Twilight Productions; Dates: Feb. 11; No. of Shows: 1

5) The Last Waltz
Gross Sales: $239,265; Venue: The Theater at MGM National Harbor, Oxon Hill, Md.; Attendance: 2,518; Ticket Range: $150-$75; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Feb. 4; No. of Shows: 1

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

 


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Experience The Change
 
Posted: 21 Feb 2017, 7:00 pm

Greg Foster, CEO, Experience

Experience, an Atlanta-based company that provides seat-upgrades and once-in-a-lifetime experiences to fans and successfully pioneered the concept of the ‘subscription model’ has reinvented the ways teams and venues look at ticketing. Experience has been in place for five years and was bought by Cox Communications in 2014. Greg Foster, the CEO of Experience, spoke with Venues Today about how the company has transformed the industry on the back of the mobile revolution.

What exactly does Experience do?

We’re a technology that provides for a team, venue or anyone doing a live event to allow their patrons to enhance their experience at the venue by upgrading their seats. We provide the ability for the patron to get a memory or an experience at the game and make it possible for a fan to buy packages and tickets in new ways that conform to their lifestyle.

Can you explain your latest product INWEGO?

Our INWEGO product is the next evolution in subcription ticketing. It’s a product that’s targeted to young people who may never even have heard of a team or event. Think of it like buying a Netflix subscription. You pay the same price each month and then you can select from a whole list of events and can go to as many as they want to go to. The fan gets access to a ton of events across all kinds of sports. We’re looking at adding music choices into the package as well.

Explain your PASS, PASS SELECT and PASS ONE products and how they are different from a season ticket package.

With our PASS product, the fan buys a block of tickets that can be used during a block of time. For instance, the fan purchases 10 tickets and the team predetermines those tickets can be used at any games from April to June. This is different from a traditional season ticket package because the fan is not buying the whole season, just parts of it. It’s very flexible. PASS SELECT is like a voucher system where the fans buy a block of tickets but then they can select the games they want to come to. If they buy 20 vouchers, they can take 10 friends to two games or take themselves and a partner to 10 games. PASS ONE is for last-minute tickets. This product separates the barcode from the seat so the fan knows they have a ticket but do not know what seat they will get till they show up at the stadium. This is a game-changer. This optimizes revenue and fills the venue. The significant part of all the PASS products is that it fills up the team's database with people who are interested in coming but don’t want to buy season tickets. The teams can market to them and it’s worked really well for the teams.

How is it going with these new ticketing models?

From 2015 to 2016, adoption of PASS technology has been tremendous. We went from 46 properties in 2015 using PASS technology, to 106 in 2016. This represents 130% growth over the past year in the number of properties adopting Experience PASS technology.

Tell us about seat upgrades using Experience.

We make it very easy and available to anyone. If a fan bought general-admission tickets to a concert or bought bleacher seats for a baseball game but the sun was beating down, the fan can go right on the app, easily find seats in the shade, and upgrade. If they want to go sit on the 50-yard line, we can move them there.

How many people then use applications to purchase a seat upgrade?

Roughly a quarter of the people using our PASS products convert to a better seat.

Let’s talk about memories and experiences. Can you give us some examples?

If you want the mascot to come to your seat and take a picture with you and your kids, we can provide that. If you want to go onto the field and watch the coin toss, we can make that happen. If you want to watch the players enter the field up close, we can arrange that.

How does it work?

We’re a 100-percent mobile company and we integrate into the team (or venue) app. That makes it possible to be really agnostic in respect to whatever the team has in place for ticketing.

Who are your partners?

We have nearly every National Basketball Association (NBA) team using the application; nearly every Major League Baseball (MLB) team using the application; nearly every National Hockey League (NHL) team using the application and probably half the National Football League (NFL) teams use it. There were some white whales we wanted to get on board and we’ve signed over 50 new clients since my arrival, including Denver Broncos; Colorado Rockies; St. Louis Cardinals; New York Knicks; New York Rangers; Dallas Mavericks; San Jose Sharks and New England Revolution. We’ve also added the Tiger Woods Foundation and a dozen of the Power Five conferences to our roster. We have great relationships with Live Nation and with Feld Entertainment.

Do you make your deal with the venue or with the team/content provider?

Mostly the teams, but some deals may be more exotic like Madison Square Garden (MSG), where we have a relationship with MSG, plus the teams that play there. There are entities where we have deals, but in every one of those we have separate negotiations with teams that play in it.

Who decides what types of experiences you will offer at various venues?

The teams decide. There’s no limit, whatever the team wants to do is possible. If the Atlanta Falcons want to make it possible for a fan to come down on the field and hang out with Arthur Blank, we can do that. If they want to create a memory for a Seattle Seahawk fan to come down and watch the trainer catch balls with the player, we can do that. All we need to know is what is the experience, what is the price and we load it into our system and the fan can buy it.

Who determines the pricing of experiences?

Typically it’s a conversation because often the team doesn’t know how to price it. With many of the experiences we help guide the teams since we’ve had experience with it. We get it right 90 percent of the time.

What is the price range for experiences?

It’s all over the board. Getting the mascot to your seat can run anywhere from $50-$150. Getting down on the field can run $500-$1,000. But keep in mind that while the memories and experiences are a nice touch, they do not drive our revenue. Our PASS products and seat upgrades are the most substantial parts of our business.

What ticketing companies can you work with?

We have relationships with all the major ticketing companies like Spectra, Ticketmaster, Tickets.com and many others. There are a handful of ticketing companies we don’t work with due to technology integration issues.

How does the revenue split work?

We do a revenue share so no one is out-of-pocket. There are different revenue shares with different teams. Across the board the teams get more than 50 percent.

How long have you been with the company?

I’ve been here about a year. Before coming to Experience I owned a business called BrightWhistle, which was sold to Silver Lake Partners. I was semi-retired when Experience came calling.

What were your goals when you came aboard?

We’ve only scratched the surface of the problems Experience can solve. So far, the revenue increases we’ve been able to achieve are incremental. I believe we can achieve substantial increases. You can always scale a business much more quickly when you are building substantial value for your partners.

How many people work at Experience?

About 70. Almost half are on the technical side of the operation.

Could Experience exist without mobile technology?

No. Everything we do starts and ends with mobile technology. We can fill seats and once the fan is in-venue, the app allows the teams to get people aware of all the things they can do once they are there. We couldn’t do any of this without mobile.

 

 

 

 

 


 


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Facebook Leads e-commerce Push Into Ticketing
 
Posted: 21 Feb 2017, 2:10 pm

Sue Young, head of Facebook Events

Sue Young, head of Facebook Events, spoke to Venues Today about Facebook’s push into the live entertainment space, how they are working with ticketing companies like Ticketmaster, Spectra Ticketing and Eventbrite and showcasing events from everyone.


How do you see the future of integrating ticketing and social media?

We think ticketing and social media are becoming the present and are definitely the future. Bringing tickets to the people is a trend we've heard mentioned repeatedly at industry events. And ticket sales are becoming more about creating meaningful relationships with people so they become subscribers, followers and repeat attendees instead of simple, isolated transactions. Facebook has a unique ability to help foster those relationships and keep your audience engaged and interested.

How far is Facebook with integrating ticketing?

We currently support the ability to sell tickets on Facebook through Ticketmaster and Eventbrite and the ability to publish events via Official Events with Ticketmaster, Eventbrite, Spectra Ticketing, Ticketfly and AXS.com.

What value does this bring to Facebook?

Our goal is to make it easier for people to discover what to do or where to go in the world around them, and with our new ticketing feature, we're helping the more than 550 million people using Facebook Events each month find new events and quickly buy tickets. In our research, we found that some of the top reasons people don't go to an event are because they found out about it too late or they didn't know who else was going. Facebook offers solutions to both of these without organizers lifting a finger. As long as you schedule well enough in advance, once people begin RSVPing and sharing your event, their friends start to follow.

What are the different ways fans discover events on Facebook?

The most popular way people discover events on Facebook is in their news feeds, when they see events their friends are connected to. You can also see suggested events on the events bookmark, like those popular with your friends and community, and by searching for events. In addition to giving people meaningful social context around events they might be considering attending, people can save their payment information with Facebook for future purchases; making ticket purchasing easier and faster, especially on mobile devices.

Can you explain Facebook “Power Users’?

They are a very dedicated group of event users. We’ve made a separate space for them to interact with Events on Facebook in the new, standalone Events app we launched in October of last year. As an event organizer, any event you create on Facebook appears in the Events app and the discovery surface on Facebook.com and in the Facebook app, at no cost.

What value does Facebook Events bring to the company?

Facebook is all about helping people create meaningful connections. One of those ways is using Facebook Events to discover things to do with friends and family that mean something to you, like go to your favorite team's games and then stay connected to the team's promotions like when season tickets go on sale.

How does being displayed on Facebook improve ticket sales?

While we can't share exact metrics, we can share that we've seen over 40-percent year-over-year growth in people engaging with public events created. We've also seen that more than half of all Facebook Event RSVPs, sharing and commenting in Events are happening on mobile, and ticketing is already designed for mobile so it's quick and easy, which means people are more likely to complete the process of purchasing a ticket.

How do venues get their events posted?

It’s easy. They just need to create one, for free. Either a person or a Page can create an Event, add co-hosts, share info with everyone who has RSVPed in one place, all with no email spam filters and boost posts. Your Event is seen by the people in their news feed and in the dedicated Events bookmark where people see events popular with their friends and community and search by Event type and timing.

What are the rules and process for getting events posted?

The process is easy and the rules are simple. Create an Event that abides by Facebook's general community standards. We've got a great overview of how to post and best practices at events.fb.com.

What is the impact of posting the events? Have venues reported seeing higher attendance because of Facebook exposure?

We've gotten great feedback from our partners that posting on Facebook helps them drive sales and attendance. We've done an analysis of the best ways you can promote your event on Facebook and, while ads are the top, the second is sharing to other pages and profiles, with RSVPing as a close third. So don't forget to share your event to your page, add co-hosts and encourage both your page followers and RSVP’ed attendees to share with their friends.

How does the deal work with the ticketing companies? Does Facebook get a share of the revenue or do ticket companies and venues pay a flat fee to get access on Facebook?

We don't take a cut of anyone's revenue. Right now we're focused on giving people the best experience we can, quick and easy ticket purchase.

What is Facebook’s marketing and strategy plan around ticketing?

We're working closely with our ticketing partners to help them raise awareness of ticketing on Facebook with their clients.

Does Facebook have any plans to offer tickets straight to their users, as in not through a ticket company but a standalone service of Facebook?

Our primary focus is to help our ticketing partners sell more tickets and give consumers an easier way to attend the Events that interest them.

Anything else you would like to share about Facebook, ticketing and venues?

If you are thinking of investing thousands in building your own app or mobile-optimization of your website, first test on Facebook for free. We have the audience and the built-in interface already so you don't need to build your own. If you use Ticketmaster or Eventbrite, reach out to your account manager who can seamlessly get this set up for you.

 

 


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White New CTO at Spectra Ticketing
 
Posted: 15 Feb 2017, 9:35 pm

white202.jpgKeith White took on the entire client and community (750 people in attendance) of Spectra Ticketing & Fan Engagement his first day on the job as Chief Technology Officer of that division of Comcast Spectacor.

Dave Butler, division CEO, introduced White from the stage during his opening keynote at PACnet ’17 in Newport Beach, Calif. Feb.12, noting his 12 years of experience in the industry.

White will lead product management, product development, design, engineering and quality assurance for the Paciolan Platform. White brings more than 25 years of experience as a technologist with a product focus, including the last 11 years the ticketing and fan experience industry.

White had been senior vice president of Engineering at Ticketmaster. Prior to joining Ticketmaster in 2011, he was director of engineering at Tickets.com.


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Amazon Will Change The Ticketing Game
 
Posted: 15 Feb 2017, 8:50 pm

PACnet '17's Geoff Lester, StubHub; Rob Shine, IMG/Learfield Ticket Solutions and Curtis Cheng, DTI Management.

[Editors Note: For further coverage of PACnet ’17, the client and community conference produced by Spectra Ticketing & Fan Engagement, see the March print edition of Venues Today.]

REPORTING FROM NEWPORT BEACH, CALIF. — When the biggest guy on the block makes clear noises about muscling in on your territory, you listen. Clearly spooked, the attendees at Spectra’s annual ticketing conference, PACnet ’17, held at the Newport Beach (Calif.) Marriott Hotel, Feb.13-16, were all eyes and ears to any news coming from giant ecommerce retailer Amazon about their anticipated entry into the U.S. ticketing market.

AMAZON

Already a huge player in the U.K., Amazon has signaled it’s making inroads into the U.S. ticketing market and intends to shake the tree.

“The biggest story for me is Amazon,” said ticketing software company DTI Management’s Curtis Cheng, CEO. “Amazon went into London two-and-a-half years ago. In that short amount of time they are now England’s top ticket seller.”

“Here’s this big mega-company coming to disrupt our industry,” he said. “Seeing what their intentions are, what they plan on doing and what the ticketing ecosystem is going to look like in a few years is something I am clearly following.”

Cheng described a friend who was in the guitar business. “Amazon announced in Q2 of 2013 they were going to get into the guitar business. A year-and-a-half later, my friend’s guitar business was bust and had to file for bankruptcy.”

Geoff Lester, StubHub, was concerned that Amazon was going to not only take out secondary ticket companies. “Their grand plan looks to be to compete with primary ticketing as well. StubHub’s taking a wait-and-see approach, but we’re cautious.”

“What I’m selling to ticketing is consolidation,” said Cheng. “What Amazon is selling is more than that. If someone buys a Redskins ticket, Amazon also wants to sell them a Redskins bed sheet, a Redskins hat and whatever else they can push at the customer.”

“That is scary to me because they are trying to do what we are trying to do — but with every product on earth,” he said. “The uncertainty of what Amazon’s plans are to get into the ticket business, obviously concerns everyone in the ticketing industry.”

“It’s a wait-and-see game,” said Lester. “But based on Amazon’s move into Europe, a move into the U.S. seems all but certain and the industry will not be the same once they launch.”

BUNDLES

With Amazon’s entry into consumer-based ticketing looming, the best minds in the current ticketing industry are all scrambling to beat them to the punch.

Taking a play from cable companies, the next big thing looks to be not only selling a fan a ticket, but also selling that fan all the ancillary goods that go with the event. Think of it as bundling like when that cable company offers a discount for buying more than one service such as TV, Internet and cable.

“We are all looking at ways to leverage the sale once we get a customer buying tickets,” said Rob Sine, IMG/Learfield Ticket Solutions. “We’re not far off from selling hotel rooms across from the stadium. We can sell parking, merchandise, experiences and food and beverage, just to name a few things.”

MOBILE

Any discussion of ticketing 2017 would not be complete without talking about the mobile ticketing revolution, often called the ‘mobile first’ strategy.

“Fans are living on their mobile devices,” said Rachel Bomeli, Fox Theatre, Atlanta.  “Especially the millennials. Anyone without a mobile strategy has no way to reach that group.”

Lester said StubHub’s mobile adoption rates are skyrocketing. Three years ago, StubHub had 30-percent mobile traffic and 10- percent transactions from it. Today, they are at 70-percent traffic and 50-percent transactions. “Mobile is life; it’s everything,” he said. “It’s where people engage.”

According to a Google Web Index study, 47 percent of media time is spent online and the average consumer has 3.3 devices.

SUBSCRIPTIONS

Selling tickets in packages is nothing new. Selling them in a subscription-based model is.

“Think of it like Netflix,” said Junior Gaspard, Experience. “The customer signs up for a monthly fee, say $19.99, and for that fee they get to go to as many events as they want.”

Gaspard said that the key to this approach is “separating the barcode from the ticket buyer,” which means the fan doesn’t know what seat they will eventually get until they show up at an event.

“This provides the fan with a different experience every time they come to an event,” explained Gaspard. “One time they will sit up close, two rows from the action and another time they will be up in the bleachers.”

Gaspard also said not showing the fan what seat they will get assures they show up at the event. “They do not know the seat till they get to the venue and scan in.”

The novel approach is being deployed not just for one team and one venue. “We’ve got cities where fans can now subscribe, and for their monthly fee, they can go to a football game in one venue one week and a soccer match at another venue the next.”

“Why sell a single ticket when you can sell a package of tickets?” he asked.

FAN ENGAGEMENT

Selling a ticket is, of course, just the start of a fan’s journey, and keeping the fan engaged before, during and after the event was heavily discussed.

“Social media is a key component of keeping the fans involved every step of the way,” said Greg Driscoll, University of Virginia, Charlottesville. “You need a media mosaic approach.”

Driscoll rolled off a series of ways to employ social media, such as ‘tweet of the night,’ having fans ask questions of the athletes and playing the responses on YouTube, Instagram contests, photo booths, Snapchat submission contests and encouraging fans to use Facebook Live while at the event.

“Keeping the fan engaged is a lot more now than just a post-game survey,” said Ryan Pensy, Sportslabs. “Today we have a long list of ways to keep your customers coming back. Use them.”


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Hot Tickets for February 14, 2017
 
Posted: 15 Feb 2017, 2:00 pm

Ariana Grande, Talking Stick Resort Arena, Phoenix, Ariz.

Ariana Grande brought the second stop of her "Dangerous Woman" tour to the MGM Grand Garden Arena, Las Vegas, Feb. 4. The Live Nation-promoted show grossed more than $840,000 with ticket prices ranging from $30-$200. Ariana, along with her opening act, Little Mix, charmed nearly 10,000 fans in attendance. The next stop on this new and highly anticipated tour will be at Mohegan Sun Arena, Uncasville, Conn., Feb. 17.

Willie Nelson took over the Venetian in Las Vegas Feb.1, 3 and 4, and he made our Hot Tickets chart this week with three sold-out shows. The 84-year-old country legend and his family entertained more than 5,000 fans in attendance grossing nearly $600,000, with his exclusive new show, "Vegas On My 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 Jan. 17-Feb. 14.

15,001 or More Seats

10,001-15,000 Seats

5,001-10,000 Seats

5,000 or Fewer Seats

1) Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band
Gross Sales: $4,686,092; Venue: Qudos Bank Arena, Sydney; Attendance: 31,323; Ticket Range: $233.38-$75.86; Promoter: Frontier Touring; Dates: Feb. 7-9; No. of Shows: 2

2) Cirque du Soleil - Toruk
Gross Sales: $1,248,261; Venue: T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas; Attendance: 15,897; Ticket Range: $155-$39; Promoter: Cirque du Soleil; Dates: Jan. 18-22; No. of Shows: 7

3) Red Hot Chili Peppers
Gross Sales: $1,217,803; Venue: TD Garden, Boston; Attendance: 13,072; Ticket Range: $103.50-$53.50; Promoter: Frank Productions; Dates: Feb. 7; No. of Shows: 1

4) Red Hot Chili Peppers
Gross Sales: $1,177,325; Venue: Target Center, Minneapolis; Attendance: 13,411; Ticket Range: $94.10-$44.10; Promoter: Jam Productions; Dates: Jan. 21; No. of Shows: 1

5) Ariana Grande
Gross Sales: $845,275; Venue: MGM Grand Garden Arena, Las Vegas; Attendance: 9,437; Ticket Range: $199.95-$29.95; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Feb. 4; No. of Shows: 1

1) Cirque du Soleil - Varekai
Gross Sales: $2,002,454; Venue: Palacio Municipal de Deportes San Pablo, Seville, Spain; Attendance: 34,551; Ticket Range: $102.60-$35.96; Promoter: Cirque du Soleil, Live Nation; Dates: Jan. 18-22; No. of Shows: 9

2) The Lumineers
Gross Sales: $432,157; Venue: Van Andel Arena, Grand Rapids, Mich.; Attendance: 9,472; Ticket Range: $59.50-$29.50; Promoter: Messina Touring Group, AEG Live; Dates: Jan. 26; No. of Shows: 1

3) Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds
Gross Sales: $410,644; Venue: Perth (Australia) Arena; Attendance: 6,046; Ticket Range: $81.07-$72.76; Promoter: Billions Australia; Dates: Jan. 31; No. of Shows: 1

4) Miranda Lambert
Gross Sales: $380,818; Venue: Ford Center, Evansville, Ind.; Attendance: 7,342; Ticket Range: $56.75-$36.75; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Jan. 26; No. of Shows: 1

5) Brantly Gilbert
Gross Sales: $279,581; Venue: Charleston (W.Va.) Civic Center; Attendance: 7,822; Ticket Range: $45-$29.75; Promoter: Frank Productions, NS2, CMoore Live; Dates: Feb. 11; No. of Shows: 1

1) Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds
Gross Sales: $1,232,302; Venue: ICC Sydney Theatre; Attendance: 14,934; Ticket Range: $80.46-$68.97; Promoter: Billions Australia; Dates: Jan. 20-21; No. of Shows: 2

2) Cirque du Soleil - OVO
Gross Sales: $1,059,837; Venue: The Broadmoor World Arena at Colorado Springs; Attendance: 17,086; Ticket Range: $150-$34; Promoter: Cirque du Soleil; Dates: Jan. 18-22; No. of Shows: 8

3) 80’s Weekend
Gross Sales: $540,356; Venue: Microsoft Theater, Los Angeles; Attendance: 6,849; Ticket Range: $275-$62; Promoter: FKOA Presents; Dates: Jan. 28; No. of Shows: 1

4) Dancing with the Stars
Gross Sales: $536,265; Venue: Mohegan Sun Arena, Uncasville, Conn.; Attendance: 12,471; Ticket Range: $45; Promoter: ICM, In-house; Dates: Jan. 20-21; No. of Shows: 2

5) Miranda Lambert
Gross Sales: $495,366; Venue: Mohegan Sun Arena, Uncasville, Conn.; Attendance: 6,649; Ticket Range: $89-$49; Promoter: WME ; Dates: Feb. 4; No. of Shows: 1

1) Mamma Mia
Gross Sales: $1,454,613; Venue: Orpheum Theatre, Minneapolis; Attendance: 19,336; Ticket Range: $140-$21; Promoter: Hennepin Theatre Trust, Broadway Across America; Dates: Feb. 7-12; No. of Shows: 8

2) The Sound of Music
Gross Sales: $1,194,401; Venue: Orpheum Theater, Omaha, Neb.; Attendance: 16,893; Ticket Range: $135-$35; Promoter: Omaha Performing Arts Presents, Broadway Across America; Dates: Jan. 24-29; No. of Shows: 8

3) Willie Nelson
Gross Sales: $586,811; Venue: The Venetian Theatre, Las Vegas; Attendance: 5,289; Ticket Range: $200-$59.50; Promoter: AEG Live, In-house; Dates: Feb. 1-4; No. of Shows: 3

4) Dancing with the Stars
Gross Sales: $483,170; Venue: Chicago Theatre; Attendance: 6,948; Ticket Range: $75-$55; Promoter: NS2, Frank Productions; Dates: Jan. 28; No. of Shows: 1

5) Once
Gross Sales: $280,415; Venue: Morrison Center for the Performing Arts, Boise, Idaho; Attendance: 5,418; Ticket Range: $62.50-$35; Promoter: Magic Space Entertainment; Dates: Jan. 20-21; No. of Shows: 3

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

 


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Food for an Arena-Sized Super Bowl
 
Posted: 15 Feb 2017, 12:35 pm

 

Lenny Martinsen has worked four Super Bowls, hosting one as Centerplate’s executive head chef of the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. But now he’s in the midst of prepping his third mini-Super Bowl at New Orleans’ Smoothie King Center, site of this weekend’s National Basketball Association All-Star Game festivities.

Also, the executive head chef of the arena next door to the Superdome, Martinsen said tackling an NBA All-Star Game balloons in scale each year—first in 2008, then in 2014 and now 2017. “It amazes me how this thing grows,” he said. “It is like a mini-Super Bowl with the planning we have. We have events going all week long. We have basically three back-to-back games. This is a Super Bowl in an arena.”

Martinsen said this not because of the 18,000-plus that will fill the Smoothie King Center on Sunday for the big game, but because of the weeklong VIP events in both the center and the Superdome, not to mention the All-Star weekend festivities that fill the center Friday and Saturday evenings and spill into the outdoor Champions Square.

“It is not just about the basketball game,” he said. “We do basketball for the Pelicans. We have both buildings going full blast.”

Everything started on Monday, as Martinsen’s team was in charge of feeding crews and setting up all the events. He breaks down the week into four categories—each handled by a different chef. One chef will take all the catered luncheons in the dome. Another handles catered dinners in the dome. A third plans for feeding employees and tackling breakfast and the fourth chef plans for the three events in the center. “They each have a piece of the world and concentrate on their own piece,” he said. “But their piece is a big piece. It is basically how you eat an elephant. One bite at a time.”

Each chef handles orders on his own, independent of each other. But even that takes planning on Martinsen’s level, as he must stagger deliveries and preparation to fall in line with the available storage space. While bringing additional chefs and managers to help handle the crush of events, he said doing the homework ahead of the weekend, from ordering the special-event souvenir napkins and cups right down to ensuring they have enough chicken tenders ready to go, proves critical to a smooth weekend.

And while all the outlying events—Martinsen expects 3,000 covers per day between all the catered events starting on Wednesday, including up to 1,500 dinners each night—take up the extra planning, even knowing he won’t have more than capacity at Smoothie King Center doesn’t mean it is strictly business as usual there. With so many out-of-town guests, he’ll have more than the average number of folks hit the concessions.

Martinsen hasn’t estimated a per cap range, but he plans to feed roughly 20,000 people each of the three marquee nights for the Friday celebrity game, Saturday skills contests and Friday’s All Star Game, about three times what they expect for a Pelicans weekend.

“It is all part of the experience,” he said. “Who goes to a sporting event and doesn’t eat? We take a lot of pride in delivering the best and we make it part of the total experience. It is not just about the game, it is about the food. It is part of the experience.”

And having a New Orleans-specific experience really helps set the Smoothie King Center apart. Already Martinsen’s team features jambalaya and gumbo, a mac and cheese stand with multiple options, their own housemade pizza and shrimp po’boys. In the club level, Martinsen enlisted the help of local chefs — he specifically tapped a crew from the World War II Museum — to help run action stations with prime rib, seafood quesadillas and a pork belly po’boy. “It is a little unique and ties to New Orleans,” he said.

Along with all the regular items, Centerplate introduced a brand-new fresh burger station in the week leading up to All-Star. The new stand features a Mardi Gras King Cake Burger with a bacon-onion-chipotle spread on a king cake bun. “You talk about fun and exciting and you talk about Mardi Gras season,” he said of the item that runs $12.50 with fries. “It is a showcase of fun food. Everybody is getting a kick out of it and it tastes pretty darn good. You aren’t going to be able to go to Cleveland and get a Mardi Gras King Crab Cake burger.” And don’t forget the new $13 seafood nachos.

Having hosted two previous All-Star Games, Martinsen said he was able to pull up prior staffing levels to give him an idea of what to expect and also fall back on the idea that mega events aren’t easy. Rather, they’re hard. “The crowd is going to be big, the people will be from out of town and will ask what’s in the burger and you need to know,” he said. “There is a lot.I remember; it is not easy. You have to stay on top of it, everything from the box lunches to VIP events.”

To make it all happen, his beefed-up staff must prepare for 15-hour days three days in a row, but they all want the chance. “Once you get in there, there is an adrenaline rush of the special occasion and being on television,” he said. “My guys get into it. You want to do this stuff. Not everybody gets to do the All-Star Game.”


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Warm Reception for the Grammys
 
Posted: 14 Feb 2017, 9:15 pm

Staples Center, Los Angeles, hosted a full house of 14,000 at the Jan..30 Grammys.

Amid unconfirmed reports the 2018 Grammys will return to Madison Square Garden, New York. Lee Zeidman, president of L.A.’s Staples Center for AEG and host to the 2017 event, told NARAS officials he'd send trucks up to Mammoth Mountain to bring back snow so they could get a feel for what that might mean.

Declining to confirm or deny those rumors, Zeidman added it is also rumored they’ll be back at Staples Center 2019 and beyond.

“I can tell you, based on those rumors, I went to them [NARAS] and told them I’m going to do a deal with Mammoth Mountain and truck in 25 tons of snow and put it in and around Staples Center and on the streets so they can get a good idea of what it will be like if they do move to New York in 2018,” Ziedman said, half joking. “I told them I would do that Sunday, but it will be 72 degrees, so it will be slush by the time you get here.”

Regardless of that probable happenstance (2018 will mark the Grammys 60th anniversary), Zeidman could not have been more pleased with this year's event Sunday, Feb. 12. The arena hosted 14,000 guests, posting an impressive $48 per cap on food and drink provided by Levy Restaurants.

Suite sales were the big driver for food and beverage. AEG sold 120 of the 160 suites, Zeidman said. The rest are behind the stage and were used for media and dressing rooms.

“One of these days, if they do it in the round, we will sell all the suites but, right now, they encroach pretty far out there from a production standpoint,” Zeidman said of the end-stage setup. “We’ve danced with [in-the-round] a few times, but couldn’t make the economics work. We even worked with them on getting talent in and out, and doing a show that big in the round. I think at some point they will entertain that.”

Concessions were open from 3-4:45 p.m., then shut down until the show started. Concessions reopened after the show started, but guests couldn’t take anything but water inside the bowl. “If you come out, you have to eat and drink before going back in,” Zeidman said.

For private awards shows that are televised, the rules are different. They usually don’t want people eating in the bowl, except Golden Globes, where they have champagne on the tables.

Everything from a sponsor activation standpoint is shut down, “we cover up everything,” Zeidman said.

The event involved six load-in days, including three nights of prerig and three of rehearsal, with one show day. They had 36 hours to load out so Staples Center could host L.A. Lakers basketball Tuesday.

“We hung about 305,000 pounds in our roof,” Zeidman said of the production. That compares to 315,000 pounds last year. “There were over 300 motors out there hanging everything.”

While there were a couple of technical issues, from an operations and building standpoint it was flawless. “We had the usual jockeying of dressing rooms, who goes where,” Zeidman said. “There is never enough, so we invent new ways to put people in dressing rooms.”

That includes using dressing rooms at Microsoft Theater, which is connected to the arena via a private tunnel. “We use those dressing rooms for overflow talent. The show has 23 acts, and then you factor in all the dancers and musicians. We actually use the suites behind the stage as well for dressing rooms,” Zeidman said.

Staples Center has hosted 17 of the last 18 Grammys. Ken Erhlich, who is part of the AEG family, is producer and has signed a long-term contract to continue that role. If the show moves to New York, which will likely be officially announced soon, Ehrlich goes East as well.

“We’ve been together so long now, it’s almost like another tenant in the building,” Zeidman said. “We lovingly refer to them as our fifth tenant.” The L.A. Live campus includes the Grammy Museum, which does quite a few activations around the event.

The last time the Grammys left for the Big Apple was 2003.

In 2018, Staples Center has the NBA All-Star Game and NCAA Western Regionals about this time of year.

But the Grammys are special. “It was one of the smoothest in terms of loadin and loadout. And everyone is familiar. They know the space, know who to go to to get things done,” Zeidman said. “There is a great comfort level in dealing with the same people on music’s biggest night.”


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Lady Gaga Goes Mainstream
 
Posted: 14 Feb 2017, 9:00 pm

Lady Gaga performs during the Super Bowl Halftime Show at NRG Stadium, Houston, Feb. 5. (Photo Credit: SMG/NRG Park)

Living up to his status as “King of the Megatour,” Arthur Fogel, president of Live Nation’s Global Touring division and Chairman, Live Nation Global Music, will have yet another “mega” year in 2017, steering international tours by U2, Lady Gaga and Sting. In this excerpt from a lengthy interview that will run in the February issue of Venues Today, Fogel spoke with Ray Waddell, Venues Today, about Gaga’s upcoming Joanne World Tour and the artist’s transcendent Super Bowl Half Time performance.

Lady Gaga’s Joanne album just exploded at retail after what some have called the greatest Super Bowl Half Time performance of all time. As a promoter, I guess that’s about as good as you could hope for from a Super Bowl performance and tour announcement?

Arthur Fogel: (Laughing) There’s no question, it was brilliant, and [the Super Bowl] is probably the greatest platform there is for announcing a tour, particularly when she delivers like she did. But it doesn’t surprise me how great it was; her talent is so broad, and there’s such a depth of talent. There are very few artists that rise to the occasion in big moments like she does, whether it’s the Oscars, or singing the National Anthem at the Super Bowl last year, obviously this half-time show, there’s a bunch of other examples. She just has such great instincts and confidence in her performance.

It must have been rewarding to watch, given your relationship with Lady Gaga, which dates back to the Monster Ball Tour in 2009.

Fogel: I started working with her eight or nine years ago; it’s turned left, it’s turned right, and it’s in a great place now. Eight or nine years seems like a long time, but it’s not really that long a time, and in that period she’s really established herself as a great artist, a great performer, and that half-time show just reconfirmed that. The tour will be the next step of blowing people away, the next phase of what’s coming after we went on sale post-Super Bowl. There will always be great success in front of her.

What can you tell me about her on-sales for the upcoming Joanne tour (which begins Aug. 1 at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, B.C.)?

Fogel: Everything’s sold out: Wrigley Field (Chicago), Fenway Park (Boston), Citi Field (New York), AT&T Park (San Francisco), all the arenas. The presales were last week, we went on sale to the public this morning (Feb. 13); everything’s sold out. We’re adding a second Fenway, a second Citi Field; I’d add another Chicago, but there are no avails. We’ll put the second leg of America on sale over the next couple of weeks, which runs in the fall. The tour starts in North America, goes to Europe, then comes back to America for the end of the year.

Even though she’s had big hits and tours, it always has felt like there was almost a cult following with her that everybody didn’t get. I think maybe we just saw the mainstreaming of Lady Gaga, without her compromising anything artistically?

Fogel: Very astute observation, I think you’re absolutely right. Certainly, over the last two or three years, her audience has opened up and broadened, just because of what she’s been up to and how she’s evolved, through the Tony Bennett project, through her TV work, a bunch of different things that really opened up that audience, and the Super Bowl is just the icing on the cake. People that were raving to me about it, a lot of them were never hardcore Gaga fans; it’s like a light bulb went on.

A lot of acts go pure nostalgia or can be swallowed up by that big Super Bowl stage, and Lady Gaga did neither.

Fogel: To me, the greatest thing about the Super Bowl is she did it herself, it was just full-on Gaga. I loved that there were no special guests or no 'variety show' vibe. It was just her.

She could have blown it; it was right there to be blown. It could have easily gone off the rails, had she gone in a different direction.

Fogel: (Laughs) Well, it could have, but I’m a 100 percent believer in her and have been since day one. That’s why I held Fenway and Citi and Wrigley. I believe in her.


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Mapping Festivals Made Fun
 
Posted: 14 Feb 2017, 8:00 pm

The DiaZam software package.

Over the course of his 20-plus year career producing and promoting live entertainment events, concerts and festivals, Bill Donabedian has gone from sketching plans out on paper and correcting with White-Out to endlessly redrawing and re-plotting in Cad. With dozens, sometimes hundreds of distinct factors to coordinate – from the placement of Porta Potties to evolving fire code considerations and constantly mutating staging needs– the amount of data can be daunting.

It can also be maddening to track and update in real time as your event date nears. "I've been doing events my whole professional life and you traditionally use Auto Cad. But what if you can't afford it — because it's expensive software — or you try to use Adobe Illustrator and find that it can't track things the way you want?" Donabedian asked himself two years ago. At the time, he was pulling his hair out over the endless deluge of small and large changes he was making to Bunbury Festival, the three-day music gathering he founded in 2012 – and sold a majority stake in to Columbus-based PromoWest Productions in 2014 — on the banks of the Ohio River in Cincinnati.

With a bit more time on his hands following the sale of Bunbury, Donabedian reached out to frequent collaborator, designer Olivier Fischer in search of a solution, and the two ended up founding DiaZam LLC, a company focused on event-management software. Remembering the bad old days when he had to juggle 200+ events a year for Cincinnati's Fountain Square when he managed events for the city's open-air downtown gathering space in the early 2000s, Donabedian thought about the headaches of printing out a blueprint, pulling out a ruler and drawing changes in different colors and whiting them out to keep up with the staging and crowd-management necessities.

"We were doing that up through 2011!" Donabedian said of the old-school methods he used when programming Fountain Square from 2006-2011. "So when I started doing Bunbury, I took some time out to lay it out in Illustrator which was also too cumbersome. It's a powerful tool, but when you have to track everything in an Excel spreadsheet – every piece of fence, every Porta Potty, every tent, which for Bunbury is more than 400 items — and then create a map for external use on a website, and then another map for a mobile app and make changes in all three, it's maddening."

So, he asked a graphic designer to help him in 2014, but the job was so frustrating, the designer quit. "I thought, 'this is something that has to be solved with technology,'" Donabedian recalled. "I know that other event planners will want this." So, he and Fischer spent a year testing their cloud-based event-management tool (available at DiaZam.com) that can create, organize and manage layouts for large and small-scale events, using Bunbury as a guinea pig and constantly tweaking as they offered it up to some other event planners for a test run.

One of the people he shared it with was a frequent collaborator, Debbie Branscum, co-owner of Cincy Events Management, which has worked with Donabedian on Bunbury since its inception. Branscum and partner Casey Gilmore have been using DiaZam for the past year and she said it has alleviated many of the headaches typically associated with her job. "One year during Bunbury, Bill asked me to make a change and I said, 'No, everything is done and I'm not re-doing it all, I don't have six hours to kill,'" she said, noting that when Donabedian went in to try and make the change he'd asked for, he quickly realized how much bigger an ask it was than he'd imagined.

"I've been doing events my whole professional life and I've traditionally used AutoCad, which you can use to draw to scale, but it's not true to scale really. The thing that makes DiaZam awesome is that you can drop something in the layout, draw it to scale and then it makes changes across different layouts."

Before, she said, she had to do all her keys in different programs and then match the layout key to what she had already drawn. For Branscum — whose client list includes such beloved hometown events as the Cincinnati Food + Wine Classic, Taste of OTR and Bockfest – DiaZam is a one-stop solution that saves her time, especially for a major fest like Bunbury. "If you have 1,000 different map points for Bunbury and you need to add something the week before, you can add what you need and hit 'renumber' and it renumbers the layout and updates the layout key and then sends out the updated key to the tenting Porta Potty guys and everyone else," she said. "It's a huge difference because it makes it more flexible and removes hours of work."

Branscum said she hasn't seen a tool like DiaZam in the space before, and she's found ways to use it for both outdoor and indoor events. "Even if I don't have a scale drawing from the venue, I can take a Google Earth image, for a 5,000-person street fair and drop it in and identify the measurements, and then scale the entire thing so I can do whatever I need to," she said of the software that was tested out in the real world for the first time at last year's Cincinnati Food + Wine Classic and Bunbury, which drew around 9,000 and 45,000, respectively, in 2016.

Donabedian said the feedback so far has been positive and he thinks DiaZam could be used by events ranging from local street fairs to major music festivals because of the versatility he and Fischer have built into it. "If you want to lay a computer network out, you can drop in where you want the servers, routers and repeaters, and if you want to see just what that looks like, you can just turn everything else off and give it to your network provider," he said. "It's meant to be very powerful, but also a very flexible and simple tool, all drag-and-drop."

Fischer and Donabedian didn't raise any capital to launch their venture, emerging after a year of tinkering with a finished product that they own, and people can start using right away with no technical knowledge needed. With the doors just opened, he said they already have "a couple dozen users," some local and others who found them on Facebook and Twitter. The software is available via a subscription model for $10 a month or $40 for a year license. They're also offering it for free to organizers of events that range from local church festivals to, 5k and under for free for a single-time use.

Donabedian said the pair plan to keep adding features, the next version envisioned as a "cradle to grave" tool that will automatically push all changes to an event's mobile app as well.
 


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Atlanta Falcons Plan Videoboard Dominance
 
Posted: 10 Feb 2017, 7:00 pm

The interior bowl at the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta, will feature a 360-degree halo board from Daktronics.

The last thing the Atlanta Falcons wanted at the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium was a monotone experience, one that blends with others around the NFL.

“Our goal is to provide an unparalleled fan experience, something completely different,” said Jared Miller, chief technology officer for AMB Sports & Entertainment, the parent company of the Falcons and operators of the stadium. “Whether videoboards or other aspects, our plan is to really reimagine what the experience is when it comes to an NFL game, MLS game or any event in a large venue.”

So the Falcons brought in not one, but two unique video experiences to the retractable-roof stadium set to open this July. The most noticeable comes in the form of its “halo” board, a 63,800-sq.-ft., 360-degree videoboard. At 1,075 feet in length and five stories tall (58 feet) it hovers above the playing field. Due to the size and curvature, Miller said fans no longer have a singular view of a scoreboard, but can simultaneously see the equivalent of three-to-four scoreboards put together.

“This allows us to put a lot of additional content up there,” he said. “Whether we use that increased size to provide a much wider view of the action on the field or enhance it with additional stats, fantasy information, games around the league or other content, we get to think from a content perspective that we are leveraging a continuous medium.”

Having the world’s largest high-definition videoboard provides a “huge canvas” not only for action, but to “accentuate brands and sponsors of teams and venues.”

By partnering with board-maker Daktronics on the production and support of the halo, the Falcons opted for a 15mm HD pitch, slightly less than the 13mm some NFL stadiums use, but still with the same clarity because of the proximity to the fans, Miller said. And upping LED brightness increases clarity, but still at lower power demands than older, smaller boards, a move that fits in with the building’s LEED goals.

Tyler Jones, Daktronics senior project manager, said the halo display will take stadium video to a completely new shape as other venues clamor to follow suit by thinking beyond flat screens. But that isn’t all. The Falcons will also introduce a mega column videoboard, itself larger than 20 other NFL stadiums’ main videoboards. At 6,778 square feet, the display wraps four sides of a column with the side facing the field rising over 100 continuous feet at 25 feet wide.

“More screens in more places is starting to garner more attention,” Jones said. From Mercedes-Benz Stadium, to Minneapolis’ U.S. Bank Stadium’s videoboard on the front of the building with curvature, to the T-Mobile Arena’s see-through marquee in Las Vegas, expect venues to digitize new worlds, he said.

Mercedes-Benz Stadium will also have over 2,000 additional screens, including menu boards, televisions in the restrooms, 65-inch screens adjacent to concession stands, screens on the concourses and ultra-high definition displays of 2.5mm in suites to keep fans constantly connected to the action on the field. LCD screens even replace video walls for higher resolutions.

Miller said a study of venues across the country led to more screens in more places, all commercial grade to limit maintenance and with each individually controlled, both from the main production hub as well as, in some cases, the suites, by fans.

With so much digital—the halo, the column and ribbon boards—Mercedes-Benz Stadium has gone completely digital for sponsorship, removing all permanent signage except for its stadium naming-rights holder. This allows the venue to flip branding immediately, move sponsorship opportunities throughout the venue and open up an entirely new world of selling in-game sponsorship.

“When we move from an NFL game with our sponsors and partners to some other event that is going to bring in their own sponsors, we are going to be able to support that very quickly,” Miller said. “It gives us much greater flexibility.”

How that all comes to bear will remain a work in progress for AMB Sports & Entertainment. To practice programming and delivering content, the Falcons built a half-sized mockup of the halo board. “Our producers are in there on a daily basis,” Miller said. “For something as critical and impactful as the halo board, we are taking that extra step with hands-on testing. We are going to wow fans the first time.”


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TD Garden, Bruins, Splyce Ink eSports Deal
 
Posted: 10 Feb 2017, 3:00 pm

Splyce's Snake Circle Mark

This story originally appeared in Sporttechie.com

Delaware North, the parent company of the Boston Bruins and TD Garden in Boston, announced Thursday its partnership with eSports up-and-comer Splyce after buying a piece of the team. The hospitality and food service company is now positioned to capitalize on the growing global popularity of eSports.

The hospitality giant wants to help the Rochester, N.Y.-based Splyce build its brand while giving it the resources needed to compete at the highest levels. TD Garden and the Bruins will play a part in Splyce’s ascension in the near future.

“The vision is to be geographically based,” Delaware North chief marketing officer Todd Merry said. “We see Splyce, assuming everything works out long term, becoming Boston’s hometown eSports team.

“And in the long term, we see TD Garden becoming the logical home to Splyce.”

Delaware North will soon help Splyce conduct youth outreach programs and clinics to build up grassroots support.

The partnership between the multibillion-dollar organization that operates food, beverage and retail services for clients in the NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL and MLS should help provide Splyce with a vast amount of resources eSports teams need to dominate global leagues.

In the last two years, Delaware North commissioned two different studies about the future of sports. The second “Future of Sports,” published last October, touched on the growth potential of eSports, which already boasts a global fan base of over 300 million.

Buffalo, N.Y.-based Delaware North first became interested in Splyce through mutual upstate business connections. Merry met with Splyce CEO and president Marty Strenczewilk roughly eight months ago. The two sides began to hash out what each would bring to the table, with Merry focused on making sure his company could offer Splyce a real chance to grow.

“First and foremost, we feel like we are going to help (Splyce) sell sponsorships; secondly we can help build their brand,” said Merry, a self-admitted gamer who has followed the rise of eSports since its inception. “We have resources to help them.”

Splyce’s new Overwatch team is set to begin eight weeks of training at Delaware North’s newly acquired Sea Crest Beach Hotel on Cape Cod right away. “We love Marty’s vision, and we love where they are going, so we aren’t going to sit down and say enter this game or go recruit these people,” Merry said.

Instead, Delaware North offers Splyce the chance to improve training, increase its talent pool and expand its fan appeal.

Delaware North chairman Jeremy Jacobs has also owned the Boston Bruins since 1975. Widely regarded as one of the best owners in sports, his 42 years of experience helping the Bruins win at a high level can only help Splyce.

“This partnership with Delaware North allows us unfettered access to a championship-caliber training staff, expert guidance on key areas of monetization and rock-solid infrastructure that can allow us to skyrocket our growth and maturation as a global sports franchise,” Strenczewilk said in a statement.

Splyce was founded in 2015 as “TV guide” for eSports fans. But after acquiring a few teams, it quickly transformed into a global organization with nine teams competing across nine different games, including League of Legends and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.

The eSports newcomer qualified for the League of Legends World Championship a year after its founding. Delaware North thinks the partnership offers Splyce the chance to become a major force in the booming international sport.

“When you look at what Splyce achieved in such a short period of time, and with folks like Marty involved in running the origination, we really do believe they can be one of those top five eSports franchises, in the same discussion with (Team) Liquid and Cloud9,” Merry said. “You know all the brands that are really household names in the eSports firmament today.”

Washington Capitals and Wizards owner Ted Leonsis and Magic Johnson now own the controlling interest in Team Liquid. Shaquille O’Neal also has invested in eSports. And the NBA just announced a partnership to form an NBA 2K league.

Although eSports leagues and games have increased in popularity, Delaware North understands it cannot force Splyce on Boston sports fans.

“We want to go a little bit softly with some of the crossover,” Merry said.

“We know that not all Bruins fans are naturally going to be eSports fans. But we also have a belief that eSports will continue to grow, and that more and more of our future fans will be eSports fans as well.”


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Charlie Wilson's In It To Win It
 
Posted: 10 Feb 2017, 3:00 pm

Charlie Wilson

Charlie Wilson has made his way to arenas the old-fashioned way. He earned it. The Tulsa-born R&B stalwart had been going at it -- with the Gap Band and since 1992, on his own -- for more than four decades when he hit the big rooms to promote his 2015 album "Forever Charlie." Along the way, he picked up love from those who came in his wake, guesting on record and in concert with the likes of Snoop Dogg, Kanye West, Eurythimics, Pharrell and many others.

Wilson's latest album, "In It To Win It," drops Feb. 17, with guest features from Snoop Dogg, Wiz Khalifa, T.I., Robin Thicke, Lalah Hathaway and others. The AEG Live-promoted tour of the same name hits the road Feb. 8 in Norfolk, Va., with dates so far booked into late March.

So how's the tour shaping up?

Wilson: It's going to be awesome, man. I have a full ensemble, everybody on horns and dancers, and it's crazy. And, of course, I've got Johnny Gill and Fantasia with me this time. We're about to rock every arena in the country.

Arena is the operative word. You've become one of, really, a handful of R&B singers who can do arenas. That must be gratifying.

Wilson: Y'know, I didn't think about it the last time, last year. The show I was doing in the theaters was a bit strong, and I knew what I wanted to do on the outside of that. It couldn't happen on a theater stage because I wanted too many bells and whistles there, so I said I wanted to take it to a bigger stage, and everybody thought I was crazy.

And they were being cautious?

Wilson: Oh yeah. They said, 'Man, we're gonna look stupid if we don't sell no tickets,' and I was like, 'Man, I'm not interested in what people think of me no more.' I'm just way past that point. We need to go try this.

So were you holding your breath when you first announced it?

Wilson: We all were, I think. And we put it in the arenas and  97 percent of the arenas sold out when we put 'em up. That was last year, and here we go again.

What's the main adjustment for you performing in venues that size?

Wilson: I think you've just got to pay attention to the space, the 40-ft. width of this and 30-ft. width of that and just know that it's not 8-ft. this way, 7-ft. that way anymore. You've got to work the whole thing and you've got a lot of people to the left and to the right and on the floor and to the top and to the back. You gotta work it. It's rough when you don't know what you're doing, but hey man, I'm having fun, so the mo' the merrier.

This year marks the 25th anniversary of your first solo album. Does it feel like 25 years, 25 minutes, 250 years...?

Wilson: (laughing) It seems like 25 minutes because I have not been counting the years of what it is I've been doing. I've just been doing and floating and having fun and going from there to there, and I have not taken time to look at numbers because once you start looking at numbers, then you start thinking about what your age is. And I don't trip on numbers, except for what I put in the band. Those are the only numbers I'm looking at.

The fact that you're out there selling out arenas, though, speaks to how you've been able to maintain stature as a contemporary artist — no mean feat for a guy who's been doing it since 1972. And survived prostate cancer, no less.

Wilson:  Absolutely. You have to. People always look at me and say, ‘How's he doing this?’ and ‘How's he so relevant?’ It's because, man, I really put work in. I've never been a boastful guy like Muhammad Ali or anything, but it's time to stand up and say y'know what, I'm one of the best there is now. If your ears don't like it, that must be your ears. I work hard at what I do, even from getting up in the morning and working out three hours a day, then going and recording and practicing and this and that — just like it was when I was a young buck. So I've still got that young spirit inside me, and that's the kid that wants to play all the time.

Is that what you think separates you from some of your contemporaries who haven't stayed as current?

Wilson: A lot of people don't want to do the work. They just want to use their name that they had from years ago and think that's gonna get'em back in the door. Man, you've got to put some work in out here. A lot of people can still sing, but you've got to put the work in. A lot of people don't want to work hard like they did when they were younger, but if you don't then you lose.

And, as the album and tour title says, you're in it to win it.

Wilson: Yes I am. I'm having a great time and doing what I love to do in this music. Once you can do something very good and you've been doing it long enough, you're gonna have fun at it. If I wake up one day and realize it's work, that's when I'm gonna stop. They'll say, ‘What happened to Uncle Charlie? Well, he just woke up one day and said he ain't having fun no more.’ But that hasn't happened yet, so I would love to continue for it to be fun for me, forever.


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Super Bowl Touts Unity
 
Posted: 8 Feb 2017, 11:00 pm

Rick Nafe, Tampa Bay Rays, and Jarrod Fresquez, ParkHub, introduce a skype guest, Peter O'Reilly, SVP Events, National Football League, during the Stadium Managers Association meeting. (VT Photo)
 

REPORTING FROM HUNTINGTON BEACH, CALIF. — The giant LED scoreboard, courtesy of PSAV, was a fitting backdrop for proceedings at the Stadium Managers Association convention here Feb. 5-8. A stellar and exciting Super Bowl Feb. 5 in Houston at NRG Park was the buzz and, per tradition, an NFL exec was skyped in to give the 425 managers and vendors in attendance the inside scoop.

Peter O’Reilly, SVP Events for the National Football League, told stadium managers the overall goal of this year’s Super Bowl was “to make it a unifying game day.” With the participation of President Bush 41 and his wife, Barbara, tossing the coin, “it was incredibly special,” O’Reilly said, sharing that when the Bushes were in the hospital just a week prior to Super Bowl, he got a call advising him President Bush was a goal-oriented man and was requesting an official practice coin. “Apparently, the last time he tossed the coin, it fell in his lap and he wanted to get some air under it this time,” O’Reilly said.

History was made. He emerged from the hospital and onto the field for Super Bowl LI, participating in a world-

 

lass event that included the most “complicated and audacious halftime production in 13 minutes” O’Reilly could recall.

Lady Gaga, star of the halftime show, was never remotely radical and totally into the unity theme of Super Bowl LI, O’Reilly said. “There were a lot of acrobatics. She was fearless.” During rehearsals, she ran around the field and shook hands with every one of the 4,000 volunteers used in the production.

And the message from Pope Francis “aligned with the message of unity we want to get out there,” O’Reilly said.

Jarrod Fresquez, ParkHub, who introduced O’Reilly, worked his second Super Bowl under SP+ and Gameday, and said they parked one car every three seconds for three hours without the system going down or losing connectivity. It was the two-year-old firm’s second Super Bowl parking experience.

The next four Super Bowls are set – U.S. Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, next year; the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta, in 2019; Hard Rock Stadium, Miami, 2020 and the new stadium in Los Angeles in 2021. The upcoming 2017 NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, will show the NFL’s commitment to continued growth, O’Reilly said of future plans. “You’ll see a lot of changes at the Combine. We’re very focused on the draft.”

There will be challenges next year at U.S. Bank Stadium, partly because the NFL requires a 300-foot perimeter around the stadium for security and hospitality purposes, but that will not happen in a downtown stadium which is hemmed in by development. “We will have to zig-zag a little,” he said.

They are also working through the issue of cold weather and the risk it poses to getting people into the stadium from outdoors.

Going forward, the NFL’s timeline for picking Super Bowl sites will be selecting finalists for the next two (2022 and 2023) at the owners' meeting in May of this year, and making final choices in May of 2018. “We’re not doing it every year in the future,” O’Reilly said.

Looking forward, O’Reilly also said cyber security (being prepared for a cyber attack or takeover) and drones are the major threats the NFL is looking at right now.

“I feel we’re striking the right balance” getting fans and staff through security now, he said, but that’s a result of regular and significant table-top exercises around the event.


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AHL All-Star Challenges Allentown
 
Posted: 8 Feb 2017, 10:00 pm

At the American Hockey League All-Star Challenge at the PPL Center in Allentown, Pa., are Spectra's Linda Recke and Gunnar Fox; Jim and Rob Brooks, co-owners, Lehigh Valley Phantoms; Dave Andrews, Commissioner, American Hockey League; and Spectra's John Wentzell and Tim Murphy. (Photo Courtesy: Spectra by Comcast Spectacor)

The American Hockey League (AHL) All-Star Classic starred Lehigh Valley and the impact the three-year-old PPL Center, Allentown, Pa., has had on revitalization of downtown, as far as Rob Brooks, co-owner of the Lehigh Valley Phantoms' hockey team is concerned.

Gunnar Fox, general manager of the venue for Spectra by Comcast Spectacor, and Chris Porreca from the Phantoms, led the charge in planning the entire Jan. 28-30 weekend, which was expanded from two to three days with addition of a Fanfest and Tailgate Party. With the Skills Games and All-Star Challenge, the entire weekend drew 26,000 people to downtown.

Planning took a year and to execute the task, Spectra and the Phantoms established 11 committees tasked with every detail, from the welcoming committee to make sure fans were greeted at the airport and hotels to VIP reception, pre-event, governor's party, league liaison, marketing, Fanfest and Tailgate commitees. There was even an Executive Game Committee (held on Monday, in which Fox played).

In all, 35-40 people were involved in the planning, Fox said.

The highlight for Fox was to hear the feedback from different people in the league. “I talked to Dave Andrews [AHL Commissioner] the last night after the game,” Fox said. “To hear all of that hard work was appreciated and that it showed was the highlight.”

Both the Skills and All-Star Games sold out the 8,500 seat arena. Fanfest and the Tailgate party combined drew over 9,000.

Brooks, who has owned the team since 2009, and is enjoying his third season at PPL Center and  always meant for PPL Center to be a catalyst for revitalization of downtown Allentown, the third largest city in the state. It has worked, he said.

“It feels good. There is a heartstring to it,” he said showcasing the $1.5 billion in downtown development over the last several years. “We wanted to show off the Lehigh Valley and show off downtown Allentown. For two nights, with no NHL games, we had visibility in over 100 million households on TV. It’s a really fun story.”

The team was the primary contract signer for the AHL All-Star Game. Brooks said he is hoping to turn a slight profit, but that wasn’t the driver.

He was particularly pleased that the new events, Fanfest and the Tailgate Party, exposed a lot of people to the sport and the venue and anticipates a bump in season and regular ticket sales as a result.

Tickets for the main events were priced $18-$50. Season ticketholders paid extra but kept first rights to their seats. Suiteholders kept their suites without additional cost. The venue has 26 suites.

Fanfest drew 4,600, who bought $5 tickets. The event was produced in-house. “We rented a lot of equipment,” Brooks said.

The Tailgate Party featured 27 mostly local craft beers. The microbrewfest also drew 4,600 paying $10 each.

The Phantoms handled merchandise and sold replica game jerseys during the All-Star game. It was a huge risk, Brooks said. The jerseys were a high price point, $130, so they only ordered 150 of them. It turns out they sold out quickly. “Maybe I could have ordered more,” he reflected.

“We’ve set the bar high,” Brooks said of future AHL All-Star Games.

“We hit out of the park; everyone left thinking what a great experience they had,” Fox said. “We wanted to create an experience and have it be a memory that lasts a lifetime.”


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100th NHL All-Star Game Per Caps Hit $38
 
Posted: 8 Feb 2017, 9:00 pm

Staples Center, Los Angeles, turned into Hockeywood for the NHL All-Star Game.

With close to 50,000 people over three nights attending National Hockey League's (NHL) All-Star Game events Jan. 28-29 at Staples Center, Microsoft Theater and L.A.  Live in Los Angeles, food and beverage per caps were strong.

Lee Zeidman, president, Staples Center/Microsoft Theater/LA Live, said the food and beverage per cap for the All-Stars Skills Competition Saturday came in at $28 and it was close to $33 for NHL All-Star Game itself.

On the retail front, All-Star merchandise sold by AEG under the leadership of Sean Ryan posted the second highest per cap, behind last year’s game at Bridgestone Arena, Nashville, Tenn., at an average of $19.84. The arena merchandise per cap was $19.93, and at FanFair, held at the Los Angeles Convention Center, also an AEG-managed venue, it was $19.61.

This marked the fourth time Staples Center has hosted an All-Star Game, including two for the National Basketball Association and two for the NHL (the last one in 2002). “Next year will be our fifth with the 2018 NBA All-Star Game; that will make five All-Star Games in the 18-year history of the building,” Zeidman said.

This NHL All-Star Game was particularly special because it was the 100th. Because it coincided with the Los Angeles Kings’ 50th anniversary, the team took the lead on bidding for the game and was the liaison with the league. In past games, AEG /Staples Center had been the primary contract signer, and will be again for the NBA All-Star Game next year, Zeidman said.

The building handled everything from sponsorship activation to operations to day-to-day activity within the venues, including the arena, theater, Microsoft Square and the Event Deck.

This year, the risk was shared by the Kings and the building and, as part of the bid process, they had to hit certain milestones; hotel rooms were guaranteed, expenses were incurred within the building, and guarantees to the league were crafted out.

Staples Center has an advantage in that special events were carved out when suites were sold, so AEG was able to generate a good portion of revenue by selling the 170 suites, sometimes to the original suite owner. “There is a split to everything as it relates to revenue and expense streams,” Zeidman added, declining to reveal the percentages.

“Because of the size of the building and 170 suites (154 permanent and 16 day-of-game suites), along with 25 premium tables and lounges, there is an opportunity to generate quite a bit of revenue,” Zeidman said, adding the game does make money for the venue.

All-Star Weekend suites prices ranged from $10,000-$20,000, all one-off deals, and sold out.

Premium tables and lounges are new to the All-Star offerings. “We realized that in the San Manuel Club, which has two levels with view tables, people would come in and squat, and watch the entire game. We realized that was prime real estate and not generating the F&B income Levy and we would expect,” Zeidman said.

The 18 premier lounges, a four-top table, and the seven premier tables, four seats with a table behind you, sell on an annual basis for $125,000-$175,000, for which buyers get all three teams’ games (Kings hockey and Lakers and Clippers basketball). For the All-Star Game, they sold for $3,000-$4,000, depending on the location.

Levy Restaurant’s Chef Joey Martin said food offerings were all about L.A. Fans coming in from around the world “want to see what our food story is. They’ve seen what’s in their hometown. People like to see what other cities are all about.”

chefludosmeatballs600.jpgChef Ludo's Meatball Sandwich

Martin was proud of the variety of offerings at Staples Center, but did add some special touches for the All-Star Game. “Chef Ludo [Lefebvre] came out with a special carving bar. We also do his meatballs. And we have a stand that does his fried chicken sandwich. Ray Garcia, another local chef, had a few new dishes — his style nachos and his style shrimp cocktail,” Martin said.

Blaze Pizza, which came in the venue this year to make pizza dough from scratch, was the biggest hit, Martin said. Guests cannot pick toppings in this iteration of Blaze Pizza, but the dough is fresh, with four set toppings offered.

A special offering in DraftKings, Staples Center’s new restaurant, was lobster mac and cheese. Martin said they only prepared 25 and marketed them as “while supplies last.” They sold out before the puck dropped. He plans to add that to the Grammy’s offerings this coming Sunday.

maccheese600.jpgLobster Mac & Cheese was a "while supplies last" offer.

Doors opened 90 minutes before the game, but most people arrived just 30 minutes out. Plus, it was a lunchtime crowd on a Sunday, which means many people ate a late breakfast before arriving or had dinner plans. But per caps were still strong.

Levy created four special food packages for suites, each with something you can’t get on a normal menu. One was upscale, seafood bar with King Crab legs, shrimp; one was local fare, like tacos. All four suite packages included desserts; it was all in one. However, only three of the four sold out. For the NBA All-Star Game next year, Martin said he’ll probably bring the suite packages down to three.

“We had two of our busiest suite days of the year,” Martin added.

A big plus was having a dark week before the big game, allowing F&B to start prepping earlier than normal. Martin set up logistics well in advance and, by deploying the team early, was able to make due with a nearly normal staffing level.

One change that he will apply to future special events was additional teams to fire the food. He drew some of that staff from people who normally distribute condiments the day of game. Instead, they brought those in early and were checked off 100 percent before the big day. He turned that labor into addional peole to fire the food on Sunday.

“For a normal game, I tell cooks to start firing an hour and a half before the doors open. One team will fire a number of different items. During Grammy Days, we start an hour and a half to two hours before the event, but now, with three teams each specializing in certain dishes, we’ll have more hands on deck for the hot foods compared to a normal event,” Martin said. For a normal hockey game, he’ll have 4-5 cooks; on Grammy Day, 15-20 cooks just doing hot food; and for the All-Star Game, it got up to six or seven.

The 100th NHL All-Star Game was special in that it marked the first time they had 100 of the top players in the entire history of the league in one place, Zeidman said. “At the NHL 100 Microsoft Theater event, 67 of them were there; at the game, 44 were still there, on the ice with 40-some All-Star players. All of them assembled in one building…you won’t see that again.”


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Big Apple Circus Auction Down To The Wire
 
Posted: 8 Feb 2017, 1:00 pm

The cast of "The Grand Tour," which kicked off Big Apple Circus' 38th season, and ran Oct. 21, 2015 through Jan. 10, 2016, at Lincoln Center, New York City.

A former Big Apple Circus clown’s bid to buy the shutdown New York family-show staple remains uncertain as the Big Apple Circus board of directors struggles with awarding the rights to the circus and accepting a winning bid.

A decision was originally expected Feb. 7. After the board of directors failed to reach a conclusion on the 7th, Harold Stampler, Stampler Auctions, which ran the auction of the Big Apple Circus assets, expected a decision Feb 8. When contacted at press time, Stampler said that the board still had not selected the winning bid.

Eight parties bid on the assets of Big Apple Circus according to Stampler, “It’s down to two bids. The board has singled out the two top contenders as the most attractive from the eight bidders but have not awarded the assets to a winner yet.”

Bello Nock, a former Big Apple Circus performer, who was once called America’s top clown by Time magazine, led a team that put in a bid to acquire all the assets of Big Apple Circus.

Nock performed with the Big Apple Circus on three tours from 1997 - 2000, and returned for the 2009-2010 tour in a show called “Bello Is Back." He’s headlined circuses in the US, Japan, China, France, Germany and the Netherlands.

unspecified2.jpgHair-raising clown, Bello Nock, center, in Big Apple Circus' 2009-2010 "Bello Is Back" showstopper.

The Nock family has been in the circus for over 200 years, since 1772.

“The circus bridges gaps,” said Nock. “It brings people together in a circle. There are no cultures, no age differences, no language barriers and that’s what makes the circus so special.”

When Nock heard that Big Apple Circus was in trouble, he immediately offered help. “They had their struggles the last couple of years and just couldn’t find their way out of it,” he said. “When my wife Jennifer and I heard that Big Apple Circus was going to close I called Paul Binder (founder and owner of Big Apple Circus) and said, ‘how can I help?’”

There was nothing Nock could do to save Big Apple Circus and that’s when he organized a team that would try to save it. That team didn’t work out so Nock created a second team. “The second team is more knowledgeable and has a lot more heart,” he said.

When asked about the price of his team’s bid, Nock said, “the price tag is priceless.”

Stampler expects Big Apple Circus will be sold in whole and not sold in separate pieces, which means that the winner will acquire Big Apple Circus’ copyrights, trademarks, other intellectual property and circus equipment, big top tent included. The procedure for the auction still needs to be approved by a bankruptcy judge.

The one-ring circus filed for bankruptcy in November. At the time, the circus said in its Chapter 11 filing that it had amassed debts amounting to $8.3 million, against $3.8 million in assets.

The Big Apple Circus was founded in 1977 and became a New York cultural tradition, with holiday-season performances in Damrosch Park behind Lincoln Center and later on tour.

At its height, Big Apple Circus staged more than 300 shows. The circus was known for its special performances for children with autism and visual and hearing impairments. It also offered free and discounted circus tickets for disadvantaged children.

The auction was the first step in resurrecting the family-show institution.

“The name and goodwill Big Apple Circus generated over four decades may be worth more than the physical parts divided up,” said Stampler prior to the auction.

Bidders were required to submit a minimum of $50,000 or 10 percent, whichever was greater. Bids were accepted for parts of the assets, and for the entire circus. All bidders that sent in bids were given consideration, but according to Stampler, bids that expressed a desire and the ability to continue the circus were to be given priority.

“The board was very, very interested in the buyer continuing the vision and mission of Big Apple Circus,” said Stampler. “It’s not the only factor, but it is a factor. Money is not the king in this case.”

Another factor that came into play was that Big Apple Circus is a nonprofit organization.

“Because I’m a person who stands in the ring and has seen the smiles, the inspiration, I can see four generations laugh at the same joke; I can see the magic of what the circus does,” said Nock.

“With Ringling Bros. closing their doors, I think about how we have to keep the circus alive,” he said. “The circus world is very small. Those of us in it have only eaten our dinners by performing in the circus. How far am I willing to go? As far as the people behind me who are cheering me on and willing to buy a ticket.”

Bello said it was not easy and was nerve-racking waiting for the outcome of the auction.
“This is a case of preparation meets opportunity,” he said. “I’ve been prepared for the outcome of this auction my entire life.”

 

 

 


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Hot Tickets for February 8, 2017
 
Posted: 7 Feb 2017, 6:00 pm

Andrea Bocelli started off 2017 with a stop at the Hallenstadion, Zurich, Switzerland,  Jan. 15. The Italian tenor performed to a packed house grossing nearly $1.5 million with ticket prices ranging from $300-$160. Although Bocelli will be heading back to Europe at the end of the month, fans can catch him this weekend at the Amway Center, Orlando, Fla., Feb. 11.

Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band returned to Australia for their third visit in five years; they played three shows to nearly 40,000 fans at the Perth Arena kicking off their Summer 2017 tour of Australia and New Zealand. The Frontier Touring Company-promoted event grossed over $6 million with ticket prices ranging from $235-$80. The Boss will perform next on Feb. 9, at the Qudos Bank Arena, Sydney, Australia.

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 Jan. 10-Feb. 7.

15,001 or More Seats

10,001-15,000 Seats

5,001-10,000 Seats

5,000 or Fewer Seats

1) NHL All Star Game
Gross Sales: $2,922,447; Venue: Staples Center, Los Angeles; Attendance: 15,552; Ticket Range: $362-$247; Promoter: NHL Enterprises; Dates: Jan. 29; No. of Shows: 1

2) Cirque du Soleil - Toruk
Gross Sales: $2,187,786; Venue: The Forum, Inglewood, Calif.; Attendance: 26,523; Ticket Range: $155-$39; Promoter: Cirque du Soleil; Dates: Jan. 12-15; No. of Shows: 6

3) NHL All Star Skills Competition
Gross Sales: $1,928,148; Venue: Staples Center, Los Angeles; Attendance: 15,552; Ticket Range: $362-$247; Promoter: NHL Enterprises; Dates: Jan. 28; No. of Shows: 1

4) Frampton vs. Santa Cruz
Gross Sales: $1,557,702; Venue: MGM Grand Garden Arena, Las Vegas; Attendance: 8,663; Ticket Range: $504-$54; Promoter: Integrated Sports; Dates: Jan. 28; No. of Shows: 1

5) Calibash
Gross Sales: $1,516,428; Venue: Staples Center, Los Angeles; Attendance: 16,181; Ticket Range: $179.50-$35; Promoter: SBS Entertainment; Dates: Jan. 21; No. of Shows: 1

1) Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band
Gross Sales: $6,027,742; Venue: Perth (Australia) Arena; Attendance: 39,957; Ticket Range: $234.72-$79.16; Promoter: Frontier Touring Company; Dates: Jan. 22-27; No. of Shows: 3

2) Andrea Bocelli
Gross Sales: $1,469,609; Venue: Hallenstadion, Zurich; Attendance: 9,073; Ticket Range: $299.57-$159.30; Promoter: Global Entertainment Group; Dates: Jan. 15; No. of Shows: 1

3) Apassionata
Gross Sales: $1,363,970; Venue: Mercedes-Benz Arena, Berlin; Attendance: 29,490; Ticket Range: $82.88-$37.67; Promoter: Apassionata World; Dates: Jan. 13-15; No. of Shows: 4

4) Dierks Bentley
Gross Sales: $613,199; Venue: Budweiser Gardens, London, Ontario; Attendance: 8,328; Ticket Range: $80.50-$50.50; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Jan. 29; No. of Shows: 1

5) Twenty One Pilots
Gross Sales: $570,298; Venue: John Paul Jones Arena, Charlottesville, Va.; Attendance: 11,838; Ticket Range: $47.50-$37.50; Promoter: NS2; Dates: Jan. 22; No. of Shows: 1

1) Britney Spears
Gross Sales: $1,788,435; Venue: The Axis at Planet Hollywood, Las Vegas; Attendance: 12,126; Ticket Range: $495-$54; Promoter: Caesars Entertainment; Dates: Jan. 11-14; No. of Shows: 3

2) Britney Spears
Gross Sales: $1,413,534; Venue: The Axis at Planet Hollywood, Las Vegas; Attendance: 9,238; Ticket Range: $495-$54; Promoter: Caesars Entertainment; Dates: Jan. 18-21; No. of Shows: 3

3) Britney Spears
Gross Sales: $1,384,907; Venue: The Axis at Planet Hollywood, Las Vegas; Attendance: 9,833; Ticket Range: $495-$54; Promoter: Caesars Entertainment; Dates: Jan. 25-28; No. of Shows: 3

4) NHL 100
Gross Sales: $796,168; Venue: Microsoft Theater, Los Angeles; Attendance: 3,886; Ticket Range: $300-$50; Promoter: NHL Enterprises; Dates: Jan. 29; No. of Shows: 1

5) 2nd Annual R&B Rewind Fest
Gross Sales: $594,074; Venue: Microsoft Theater, Los Angeles; Attendance: 6,865; Ticket Range: $275-$62; Promoter: FKOA Presents; Dates: Jan. 21; No. of Shows: 1

1) Celine Dion
Gross Sales: $7,852,845; Venue: The Colosseum at Caesars Palace, Las Vegas; Attendance: 47,886; Ticket Range: $500-$55; Promoter: Concerts West, AEG Live, Caesars Entertainment; Dates: Jan. 17-Feb. 4; No. of Shows: 12

2) The Book of Mormon
Gross Sales: $1,333,495; Venue: Peace Center, Greenville, S.C.; Attendance: 15,675; Ticket Range: $125-$45; Promoter: In-house; Dates: Jan. 31-Feb. 5; No. of Shows: 8

3) Motown The Musical
Gross Sales: $1,196,241; Venue: The Smith Center for the Performing Arts, Las Vegas; Attendance: 15,360; Ticket Range: $128-$32; Promoter: In-house; Dates: Jan. 17-22; No. of Shows: 8

4) Cabaret
Gross Sales: $853,691; Venue: David A. Straz, Jr. Center for the Performing Arts, Tampa, Fla.; Attendance: 14,533; Ticket Range: $80-$20; Promoter: In-house; Dates: Jan. 24-29; No. of Shows: 8

5) The Bodyguard
Gross Sales: $716,628; Venue: Fox Cities Performing Arts Center, Appleton, Wis.; Attendance: 9,883; Ticket Range: $95-$45; Promoter: In-house; Dates: Jan. 17-22; No. of Shows: 8

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

 


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ScoreBig's Marcus Moves to Ticketmaster
 
Posted: 7 Feb 2017, 2:00 pm

200x145_21.jpgDavid Marcus

David Marcus has been tapped by Ticketmaster to be its executive vice president, head of music, and to oversee a newly formed division in North America.

This will be Marcus’ second go with Ticketmaster; having first joined the ticketing empire in 2005 and built the company's artist services division. Under his direction, Ticketmaster developed the first versions of ticketing products Ticketmaster commonly uses today, including Platinum and VIP tickets.

“It’s amazing to rejoin Ticketmaster,” said Marcus. “My first tour with Ticketmaster was 2005 to 2008, and I built the OnTour division for them. Now I get to see the outcome of decisions I made 12 years ago and see what they’ve built and to inherit the next generation.”

“Our goal is to serve the music eco-system from end to end from the artist to the fan,” he said. “The music industry has unique needs, and we’re taking the OnTour division, the venue and promoter division and the ticket platform and clients services division, which serves the clubs, and pulling them into a single organization.”

“Ticketmaster has changed a lot since I was here,” said Marcus. “It’s much more nimble and dynamic, and they’re employing more contemporary technology since when I left pre-merger.”

Before returning to familiar turf at Ticketmaster, Marcus was an executive with the first incarnation of beleaguered secondary-ticketer, ScoreBig, which is still mired in legal issues, where he oversaw product, marketing, sales and strategic partnerships.

Before joining ScoreBig, Marcus held leadership roles at Warner Music Group, Warner Brothers Records, and he was a founding legal associate of Entertainment and Intellectual Property Group Company.

Marcus will report directly to Jared Smith, president, Ticketmaster North America.

“Jared Smith, Amy Howe (COO) and Jody Mulkey (CTO) have built a dynamic culture and it was easy for me to sign on and come back to a culture that’s committed to servicing the music community and transforming the experience for the fans and the artist,” he said. “I had some things I wanted to finish from when I left, and now I will be able to.”

Marcus did not divulge the length of contract with Ticketmaster but said he “planned to be here a long time.”

 


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Phoenix Raceway plans $178-million upgrade
 
Posted: 6 Feb 2017, 7:05 pm

Exterior rendering of the Phoenix Raceway remodel. (Rendering courtesy of DLR Group/Rosetti)

If NASCAR’s garage area mimics a sports locker room, the Phoenix Raceway’s $178-million remodel plans to push fans deeper into the behind-the-scenes experience than any track in the country. But beyond plans to reimagine the infield experience in Phoenix comes new premium hospitality areas, fresh grandstand seating, updated technology and a new permanent sports bar.

“This (project) opens up another realm of opportunity for us,”said Bryan Sperber, Phoenix Raceway president. “We want to be able to present motor racing on the best possible stage. Phoenix was not up to par. It was tired and really needed an upgrade.”

Fully funded by track owner International Speedway Corporation, the Florida-based company that recently completed the Daytona Rising project at its flagship property, Daytona International Speedway, has moved its focus to Phoenix, one of 12 tracks owned by ISC.

With plans to open all the new amenities in time for the fall 2018 racing season, a new infield experience puts the focus on the cars, teams and drivers. The design opens the garage on one side, allowing fans to physically walk into the garage structure and separate themselves from the cars and teams by only a short wall. “Fans are able to physically be in the garage unlike any other track in the NASCAR circuit,” said Sperber. “Teams can interact with fans if they choose, and it is a great opportunity for selfies.”

Along with the redesigned garage area, plans include a new tunnel from the midway under the track to the infield, a redesigned and more open Victory Lane and updated restrooms, a media center and other support services.

By repositioning the start/finish line in Turn 2, just before the track’s famed dogleg, a new grandstand extension will allow the addition of 18 new suites. The existing Bobby Allison Grandstand will modernize with new escalators and elevators, additional restrooms and concessions and 20- and 21-inch seats replacing benches.

By remodeling and removing portions of the existing space, the plan, sponsored in part by DC Solar, creates a 300-person club and a total of 51 new or renovated suites with a focus on a lounge-style design. “Our corporate customers have specific needs and tastes, and we designed to cater to those needs,” Sperber said. “Our clients are pretty excited about it. It’s great to see Phoenix Raceway make such a big investment to improve the experience for the fans,” said Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 18 M&M’S Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing. “I’m from the West Coast and Phoenix is one of those places that always feels like home to me. Moving the start/finish line is a big change for all the racers that have been used to racing at Phoenix in the past. I’m looking forward to seeing how those changes might affect the racing and how the end of the races play out.”

But between the newly designed infield and grandstand comes a brand-new addition to the property, a permanent sports bar, the Busch Garage, sponsored by Anheuser Busch. Sperber said the bar on the midway will become the focal point of the midway with food and beverages during the day and music well into the night. “The bar will have the prime position toward the opening of the brand-new tunnel,” he said. “The Busch Garage will be our Times Square. It will be a really cool location and at night transform, buzzing from the first thing in the morning until 2 a.m.”

Throughout the grounds, Phoenix will add WiFi across 100 percent of the common areas and create an on-site app that opens up specific games and content for those at the track. Sperber said exploration has started on how to present a new video and leaderboard. “When fans come in November 2018, they better have their devices charged up and ready to go looking for a lot of neat technological advances,” he said.

When looking to upgrade beyond Daytona’s $400-million upgrade (VT Pulse, Feb. 26, 2016), Sperber said Phoenix—a sports-heavy city that hosts Super Bowls, Final Fours and more—popped up as a track getting tired in an “important market.” To compete at the level desired in the market, an upgrade was needed, he said.

Along the way, from the lead design of Rossetti or the construction of Okland Construction, Phoenix officials can lean on the knowledge of the Daytona project. “There are definitely learnings they shared with us,” Sperber said. “How they approached the finishes, the infield experience, the criteria for picking out seats. This is a massive undertaking and having some folks on board with us that have the experience with Daytona Rising has been incredibly helpful.”

Apart from racing, Sperber said he expects the upgrades to open doors to pursue a wide spectrum of other events, especially now with the permanent Busch Garage, designed as a multipurpose flexible space, whether for trade shows or small conferences. “The bigger events want to have permanent facilities and we have never been able to provide that,” he said. “We have begun the conversation with event operators, and the reaction has been enthusiastic. The phone is ringing, and we are excited about that.”

Expect some upgrades, including suite remodels, to come online by November 2017, with the rest by 2018. “That is in heavy pencil right now as a working target for us,” Sperber said. “It would be great to bring some other elements online early, but it is too soon to tell.”


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Spectra, Nederlander Partner at Bonney Field
 
Posted: 6 Feb 2017, 7:00 pm

City of Trees, a festival, that played Bonney Field, Sacramento, Cali.f, in 2016.

Spectra by Comcast Spectacor and Nederlander Concerts have announced a multiyear agreement to partner on live music programming at Bonney Field, which is on the California State Fairgrounds in Sacramento, and is currently used primarily for United Soccer League's Sacramento Republic soccer games.

The $3-million, privately-funded facility is a private-public collaboration among Spectra Food Services & Hospitality, Sacramento Republic FC and California State Fair. The aim of the deal with Nederlander is to increase the quantity and quality of publicly ticketed events at California’s second largest, outdoor soccer venue.

“We’re very excited about the arrangement,” said Alex Hodges, CEO, Nederlander Concerts, “and think, it’s going to be a great environment for more concerts.”

Hodges met with Spectra executives back in 2014 when they were building the facility and suggested that it would be wonderful to have a permanent, mobile stage that could roll out onto the field for variable capacities for different-sized shows.

One of the issues back then was the location of Bonney Field, which was once home to the Cal Expo/Bill Graham Presents Amphitheater. Cal Expo/Bill Graham Amphitheater programmed large outdoor concerts for 15 years, but was shut down in 1998 due to noise restrictions.

Spectra addressed the noise issues and built a Brown United/Clarke Reader-engineered mobile stage, with 128-turf tires to flex the venue’s capacity from 4,500 to 12,000-plus with its multiple configuration options. They started hosting concerts in 2016 showcasing Weezer, Panic! at The Disco, Lindsey Stirling, Phantogram, the Sacramento Philharmonic and City of Trees festival, which was the Bonney Field’s biggest paid event and saw 14,500 attendees.

Nederlander currently has a similar deal with Statesman Skyline Theater at the Long Center, Austin, and with the concerns over concerts at Bonney Field solved, Hodges felt it was time to bring up the several-year-old discussion about Nederlander and Spectra partnering to program Bonney Field.

“The stage rolls out on tires, and it’s the key to programming the site,” said Hodges. “It’s big enough to be a fantastic stage, and it already being built saves a tremendous amount of money to the artist and promoter and keeps the costs in line.”

During soccer matches the stage converts into the owners' box of the Sacramento Republic FC and invited VIP guests. With the stage tucked away in this configuration, Bonney Field has the ability to be a 28,400-seat venue.

Spectra’s VP of Business development, Nick Nicora, the architect of Bonney Field, said that from the very beginning he felt that Hodges was the right partner.

“We always knew that Bonney Field needed a partner,” said Nicora. “We designed it with a moveable stage in mind. It weighed on my mind that we respect Bill Graham’s memory and Bill and Alex had a wonderful relationship, which made partnering with him and Nederlander a natural for the venue.”

“We always intended for Bonney Field to be a multipurpose facility,” said Eric Blockie, GM, Bonney Field and VP, Venue Development, Spectra. “As the site sits on the old Bill Graham Amphitheater, we thought along with the expertise Spectra brings to the venue, we could develop the property into a first-class outdoor live music venue with the addition of the rolling stage. The stage can roll up and down on the field and accommodate any size concert; the flexibility gives the agents and promoters an option.”

“I’ve known the staff at Nederlander for 30 years and the company always presented the ability to bring not only the shows, but other assets to the table,” said Blockie. “Their regional booking power, routing capabilities, their relationships with other promoters and a great marketing team all make Nederlander the perfect partner for Bonney Field.”

Nederlander will co-promote all shows except for a small minority of local events.

Hodges and Spectra have been talking for close to a year. “We sent our people to look at the structure and the setting, and they became very excited about a partnership,” said Hodges. It took about six months to work on the deal. “A great idea always needs to be followed through with the deal and we feel really good about it.”

Hodges declined to discuss specifics of the deal but did volunteer that it was “a multiyear arrangement, with options, and we’ll be there a long time. We wouldn‘t make this type of commitment if we weren’t going to have longevity there.”

Offers are currently out to kick off Nederlander’s programming of Bonney Field to classic rock bands, new bands and Latin music bands, the latter of which Hodges sees as especially viable for the Sacramento market.

Hodges said Nederlander had success in Sacramento in the past at Raley Field, with bands Sugarland, Zac Brown and Scorpion.

The first show should land at Bonney Field in the late spring. “It’s an outdoor setting so we need to be cognizant of the weather,” he said. “We also have to be aware of soccer games and the fair dates.”

Ticket prices will vary from show to show, but Hodges expects most to be priced between $45 and $65, with VIP tickets to run higher.

Bonney Field also partners with Raging Waters theme park, with which they share a fence, for discounts based on deals with promoters. Interestingly, the best-attended show at Bonney Field in 2016 was not a concert or soccer match, it was a Democratic presidential nominee Bernie Sanders rally that was free and attracted 17,000 Sanders supporters.

“Spectra has a wonderful history in Sacramento and we’ve been trying to figure out how to work with them more, and now we have a way,” said Hodges.

“The ultimate goal is to bring A-List entertainment to Bonney Field and Cal Expo,” added Nicora. “I'm looking forward to a long relationship with Alex at Bonney Field and at other California venues.”

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Expansion Underway Soon for National Western
 
Posted: 2 Feb 2017, 3:00 pm

National Western Stock Show & Rodeo, Denver, as it looks today.

This year’s National Western Stock Show & Rodeo attendance was 684,580, down slightly from the 686,745 attendees in 2016 — a dip that officials attribute to the heavy snow on Martin Luther King Day.

“It was a tremendous show. That’s the third year in a row that we’ve been over 680,000. We probably would’ve been in the 691,000 range had it not snowed on Martin Luther King Day,” said National Western Stock Show President and CEO Paul Andrews.

Next year, attendees will see new construction and renovations for the complex come to life.

The complex is expanding from 15 to 20 acres of land, and will have a new livestock center, a new equestrian center with 1,000 permanent stalls, a new 46,000 square feet expo hall and a new arena that will have 10,000 seats with 40 suites.

The construction will be done in phases, and the complex will be under construction during next year’s show, Andrews said.

“We will not have to pause the show,” he said, noting that they’re not about to miss a year, especially since the stock show has been around for so long without ever canceling.

The hope is to break ground early next year, Andrews said.

Features of the expansion, reported in the November 2016 issue of Venues Today, include 1,800,000 sq. ft. of improvements, with Phase 1 scheduled for completion in 2017. The New National Western site is part of the old site. Selected buildings will be retained, but the stockyards will be taken out, new livestock facilities will be built, and the replacement stockyards will be removable to become an entertainment zone for concerts the rest of the year. Venues are multipurpose.  Populous is the architect.

The redevelopment is being handled by the City and County of Denver. In 2015, voters approved public funding for the renovations, which will support 80 percent of the redevelopment, according to the Request for Proposal released to the public from the city of Denver in August 2016.

“When combined with $250 million in state funding for Colorado State University’s facilities on campus, the project budget totals over $1.1 billion,” states the RFP.

National Western attendance grew nearly 40,000 from 2014 to 2015, and continues to climb, according to stock show figures. The highest attendance calculated in the last 10 years was at the stock show’s 100th anniversary in 2006 where 726,972 people attended the historical event that takes place at the National Western Complex just outside of downtown Denver.

The show ran Jan. 7-22 this year and had the second highest attendance on opening weekend in the stock show’s 111-year history, according to event officials.

Opening weekend logged 95,806 guests, down 1,293 guests from 2016 figures.

“The opening day has really become a phenomenon with the development of our National Western Barbeque contest,” Andrews said, highlighting that thousands flock to the complex not only for entertainment, but also for the barbecue cookoff.

Massive amounts of planning go into organizing the annual event, including prepping for horse shows, livestock shows and rodeos.

“Our Colorado vs. The World Rodeo has grown in its fifth year to be one of the premiere rodeo events in the country,” Andrews said.

The National Western Stock Show also hosts the Mexican Rodeo Extravaganza, PBR Bull Riding and 20 Pro Rodeos throughout the stock show.

This year’s livestock show had 15,000 animals on exhibit, with the Grand Champion steer selling for a record $135,000 to Kent Stevenson of the Stevenson Automotive Group in Denver. Those funds are used for college scholarships.

In total, the livestock show raised $912,750 for the National Western Stock Show, which operates as a 501 © (3) charitable organization that “provides college and graduate level scholarships in agriculture and medicine for practice in rural areas,” states the organization’s website.

“The bottom line is what we do as an organization is support kids in agriculture,” Andrews said.

Wilson Ogg, a Colorado State University student, studying agriculture and business, can’t say enough nice things about the stock show and how it’s helped increase his knowledge on a variety of ag-related topics.

This year, he and other CSU students ran several exhibit booths, educating stock show attendees about the university’s roll in the ag world. He said they passed out literature to roughly 10,000 people and were able to converse with about 2,000.

His favorite part of the show is the “western flair,” he said.


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MANAGEMENT
 
Posted: 1 Feb 2017, 8:50 pm

MANAGEMENT

Chris Bird has joined V Digital Services as senior vice president. Bird spent the last three years as president of Vertical Measures. Prior to that, he was senior vice president of LaneTerralever.

SMG has hired Fredia Brady as GM, Wilmington (N.C.) Convention Center. Previously Brady was regional senior director of sales & marketing for SMG’s Southeastern region. Brady is a graduate of Brewton-Parker College, Mount Vernon, Ga.

SMG-managed INTRUST Bank Arena, Wichita, Kan., has hired Tristan Carter as marketing manager. Prior to SMG, Carter served as the marketing & sales coordinator for Exploration Place, Wichita, and served as the marketing coordinator for Gulfshore Playhouse, Naples, Fla.

Jose M. “Jochi” Davila Carlos has been named VP, partnership sales and entertainment at District Live!, a new 6,000-seat concert and entertainment venue being developed in San Juan, Puerto Rico, under a partnership between Island Hospitality Partners (led by PRISA Group) and Puerto Rico Convention Center District Authority. The venue will be managed and operated by AEG Facilities when it opens in early 2019.

Sharon Cummins has announced her retirement as executive director of VenuWorks-managed U.S. Cellular Center, Paramount Theatre, Cedar Rapids Ice Arena and McGrath Amphitheater, all in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Previously Cummins spent seven years as national director of planning and development for VenuWorks. Assistant director Mike Silva will succeed Cummins at the helm of all venues effective July 1.

Western Specialty Contractors has promoted Travis DeJohn to branch manager of its Little Rock, Ark., branch office. DeJohn was previously the assistant branch manager in Little Rock; sales and project manager at Western's Indianapolis, Ind., branch and he was an intern at Western's St. Louis, Mo., branch.

Mountain Productions, Wilkes-Barre, Pa., has appointed Simon Franklyn as director of West Coast operations. Franklyn previously was tour production rigger for many iconic bands including Led Zeppelin, Paul McCartney, David Bowie, Fleetwood Mac and The Who.

IMN Solutions has promoted Mariana Gallo to executive vice president. Gallo joined IMN in 2010 as director of marketing and events. Prior to joining IMN, Gallo held key leadership positions in both the hotel and meeting management sectors of the industry.

Roger Harris has joined RealD Inc. as managing director of Europe, Middle East, Africa and Russia. Harris previously served as COO for Odeon Cinemas and UCI Cinemas Group overseeing the UK and Ireland. He was appointed managing director of UCI Cinemas Ltd. in 2002.

Blake Henry has joined the City of Owensboro and Spectra by Comcast Spectacor as general manager of both the Owensboro (Ky.) Convention Center and Owensboro Sportscenter. Henry most recently served as director of operations at Baton Rouge (La.) Convention Center. Prior to that he was with Staples Center, Los Angeles; executive director for the YC Performing Arts Center, Prescott, Ariz.; general manager of the Nokia Theatre and the Best Buy Theater, both in Times Square in New York City.

Susan Hollingshead will be Vendini’s first chief people officer. Formerly Hollingshead was with Sungevity, Inc.; she is a cofounder of Landbank, Inc.; cofounder and managing principal of Renova Partners and founder of Working for Good.

Kate Hudson has joined Visit Spokane, Wash., as PR manager. Prior to this, Hudson was a broadcast journalist and graduated from Gonzaga University, Spokane, Wash.

KAI Design & Build has hired Karen Huntington as project coordinator/administrative assistant. She had been benefits manager, HBE Corporation, St. Louis, Mo.

Faction, a talent management services company, announced the addition of veteran music manager Randy Jackson to its roster of managing partners, along with emerging managers Ethan Geltzer (N.Y.) and Jeff DeLia (Los Angeles). Jackson, a former American Idol judge, brings with him a roster of pop and Latin artists and producers. Geltzer recently left the digital marketing group at Island Records. DeLia represents a roster of Americana and blues artists.

SMG-managed Albany (N.Y.) Capital Center has named Joseph Leavens operations manager. Leavens most recently was operations manager at another SMG-managed property, Hampton Roads (Va.) Convention Center, where he started as manager of housekeeping and setup for the convention center.

David Marcus has been tapped by Ticketmaster to be its executive vice president/head of music, and to oversee a newly-formed division in North America. This will be Marcus’ second go with Ticketmaster; he first joined the ticketing company in 2005. Prior to rejoining Ticketmaster, Marcus was an executive with ScoreBig.

IMN Solutions has hired Lauren Moore as senior account director. Moore was previously senior sales manager at Hyatt Regency, Lexington, Ky.

Terry Moore is the new communications director, OC Fair, Costa Mesa, Calif. Moore spent 14 years as a deputy editor and vice president at The Orange County Register and its parent company, Freedom Communications.

Katharine Morgan is now serving as president of ASTM International. Morgan is a 33-year veteran of ASTM International, where she served as executive vice president for the past two years. Prior to that, she was vice president of technical committee operations. She succeeds James A. Thomas, who served in the role for 25 years.

Greater Birmingham (Ala.) Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB) has tapped Steve Pierson as its new director of convention sales. Since 2007, Pierson has held the position of national sales manager in the department. Pierson formerly served as vice president of sales for convention bureaus in Knoxville, Tenn.; Rochester, N.Y., and Houston. Carman Atchison has joined the staff of the CVB as sales manager for the Northeast territory and the arts and culture markets.  She previously was sales manager for Westin and Sheraton Hotels in Birmingham, Ala. April Deal has rejoined the CVB staff as customer relations manager. Deal formerly worked as vice president of convention sales for the CVB before joining the YWCA Central Alabama as planned giving coordinator. Rita Kelley has been promoted from administrative assistant in the convention sales department to information technology manager. 

Toni Wallace has joined UTA’s Beverly Hills, Calif., office as head of music brand partnerships. Previously Wallace ran the West Coast brand partnerships division at Columbia Records. Prior to Columbia, Wallace was employed at Microsoft.

Ware Malcomb has promoted Niki Ward to studio manager, interior architecture and design for the firm’s Phoenix office. Ward joined Ware Malcomb in April 2015 as a senior project.

Keith White is the new chief technology officer for Comcast Spectacor’s Spectra Ticketing & Fan Engagement. Prior to this, White had been senior vice president of engineering at Ticketmaster. Before joining Ticketmaster in 2011, he was director of engineering at Tickets.com.

Cincinnati USA Convention & Visitors Bureau expanded its sales department with the recent hire of Tamara Whiting as national sales manager. A veteran of the industry since 2000, Whiting comes to Cincinnati USA from VisitPittsburgh, where she held the role of national sales director.


PASSINGS

Stuart Hurwitz — 83, former general manager, Springfield (Mass.) Civic Center, Feb. 12, at his home. Hurwitz established the American Restaurant Management Corp., which operates several UNO Pizzeria & Grill and Sonic Drive-In locations in the greater Springfield area. After passing the business on to his children, he became the general manager of Springfield Civic Center, during which time he oversaw its transition to the MassMutual Center. He served in various leadership and membership roles with JGS Lifecare, Greater Springfield Convention & Visitors Bureau, Springfield Chamber of Commerce, Springfield Business Development Corp., Springfield Performing Arts Development Corp., and the Economic Development Council of Western Massachussets. Hurwitz is survived by his wife of over 60 years, Joan (Solomon), his children, Steve (Lori), Michael (Roberta), and Mark (Anita) and his sister Ida Ward. He also leaves behind seven grandchildren.

Howard Kaufman — 79, music industry legend, Jan. 25. Kaufman was one of the most influential managers in the music business and was a frequent collaborator of Irving Azoff’s. Kaufman’s roster of clients included some of the biggest names in rock n' roll including Aerosmith, Jimmy Buffett, Chicago, Def Leppard and Lenny Kravitz. Kaufman also co-managed Fleetwood Mac. Kaufman and Azoff ran Front Line Management from 1974 to the early '80s when it disbanded. The company was resurrected by the pair in early 2005. Ticketmaster bought the company in 2008 with Kaufman being a trusted advisor.


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STING TALKS NEW ALBUM AND TOUR
 
Posted: 1 Feb 2017, 8:35 pm

Sting_ToddOwyoung300-4064.jpg

At 65, Sting is the antithesis of retiring — imagine our shock about that. The pop culture renaissance man — from the Police to Broadway to the big screen and beyond — launches a new tour Feb. 1 in support of his latest album “57th & 9th”. The set comes in the wake of his lauded 2016 co-headlining tour with Peter Gabriel as well as “The Last Ship,” Sting's deeply personal 2013 stage musical about the shipbuilding culture in his hometown of Newcastle, England. “57th & 9th” is also Sting’s first traditional, non-thematic pop album since “Sacred Love” in 2003. Managed by Cherrytree Management, booked by CAA, and promoted worldwide by Live Nation Global Touring Chairman Arthur Fogel, Sting is looking at a busy 2017, especially on the road. The former Police-man spoke recently with VT’s Gary Graff about touring on the new record, his co-headlining run with Peter Gabriel, and whether or not he is old enough to bring his former band to Desert Trip.

Are you looking forward to playing the “57th & 9th” songs live?
They're all eminently doable. There's no great sort of studio smoke and mirrors on the album that we couldn't reproduce on stage with a fairly small band.
And it is a small band you're taking out this time, smaller than usual.
I'm taking a four-piece out—two guitars, drums and bass, no keyboards, and I'm looking forward to it. In some ways it's easier because there's less “bandleading” to do; I don't have to organize space as much, because it's just naturally a function of a smaller group being there. With no keyboards, less of the frequencies are taken up, so there's a lot of space. We'll miss the occasional arranging thing with not having a larger band, but I think that'll be made up for by the space that's created.

You also tend to mess with the songs once you've got them on the road. That will continue this time out?
Oh yes. The album's only the starting point of a song. It's the beginning, embryonic life of a song, and then you find things out about a song as you tour it night after night. You find an incremental change or a profound change that remains, and the songs grow night by night, tour by tour.

The initial dates are in smaller venues. Why downsize?
We're playing smaller venues at first, little theaters or 2,000-seat theaters, because I think it's always good to start an album that way so it can grow organically, the songs can grow organically, bringing people into an intimate setting rather than starting in an arena or a stadium where the stadium plays you, really. I like to play in large arenas, obviously, but I also like to play in small places, because it's a muscle that needs to be stretched in both ways.

What's the biggest difference between the two?
In a small place you have to make it into an event that people will remember, and in a big place you have to make a huge event seem like something intimate. I've gone the opposite way, but it's useful for an artist to keep those skills up in the air, to keep them working and oiled.

Last year you played to the big side with Peter Gabriel. What's your post-mortem on that tour?
Y'know, so many people have come up to me and said, ‘That's the best concert we've ever seen’. It was fantastic. I think people were actually surprised by how inclusive it was, how interactive it was, that we have a lot in common, Peter and I. We're more or less the same age. We have some common history. We've worked together many times going back to the 80s, Amnesty International. We have a lot of similar interests, both politically and musically, but we're different enough for them to be a contrast. We found it pleasurable and challenging and different and the audience seemed to love it.

There's been talk about the two of you doing it again.
We'd love to do it again, both of us. We just need to find the time. Peter's got to do an album of his own, so that takes priority. But I'd be ready to do it end of this year, beginning of next year. I'm just waiting on Peter.

A Police reunion has been floated as a rumor for this year's Desert Trip festival, you know.
I don't think we're old enough yet. (laughs) I'm very proud of the legacy of the Police. It still seems to live in people's memory and fondness. I still play a lot of those songs, so I'm very proud of it. I'm not sure that I need to recreate it again. Having done it eight years ago, very successfully, I feel like a circle was closed at that time. But we're still very much in touch, and friends, and mutually proud of our achievement.

Is there anything more planned for “The Last Ship”?
We're looking at putting it on in England next year, so it won't be gone. It can be raised— raised from the sea (laughs) — at any time. I went to see a production of it in Salt Lake City a couple months ago, they had a short run of it. It was very interesting to see my British home town recreated in the middle of Utah, kind of surreal, but a wonderful cast and the songs stand up. The great thing about a play is you can constantly work at it. You can constantly evolve it, which is closer to my own art form, if you like, of songwriting and how songs can evolve.

Would you like to do another musical?
I would do it again in a minute. I was very proud of that play. It was probably one of the most satisfying five years of my life. I don't think there'd be anything as personal as that; it was an important psychological journey for me to go back to my real roots, both musically and culturally. I found it very therapeutic.

You're going to perform at the Academy Awards and your song "The Empty Chair" (from "Jim: The James Foley Story") is nominated for Best Original Song. How did that come about?
I was asked to watch the documentary about Jim Foley, the American photojournalist who was murdered by Isis in 2014, and I watched a very harrowing and very compelling and inspiring story of his life, and at the end of the thing they asked me to write a song. I said I couldn't possibly write a song about this subject. It's too heavy. I don't know how to do that. I think it's beyond my powers. It's a fantastic film and an inspiring film, but it's not the sort of thing you want to write a song for, in my opinion.

So what changed your mind?
I went home and it was Thanksgiving, and some of my family were around the table, and my wife, and I thought, "I wonder what I would feel like as a parent if one of my kids were in captivity somewhere and I didn't know if they were coming back or how they were being treated or whether they were alive, even. How would I feel?" And then I saw a chair that was empty and I thought, ‘That's what I'd probably do, some ritualized prayer that perhaps by leaving the chair it would be filled one day by this person.’ And once I'd found that metaphor, then the song came easily. I wrote the song that night and sent it to them, and they were over the moon.

Think you have a shot against "La La Land?"
(laughs) No. We won't win, but my interest in the campaign is that I'd like more people to see this movie because it is really, especially at this time, an example of true American heroism, compassionate heroism, real courage under extraordinary circumstances. It's very quiet, but it's powerful. It's a privilege to get to know this man who was murdered so brutally. I think the job of the song is to get people back into a place where they can leave the cinema not being in a pool of tears.

 


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LOCATION IS MORE THAN A CAMPUS VIEW
 
Posted: 1 Feb 2017, 8:25 pm

With 7,000 students living within a five-minute walk, George Mason University’s EagleBank Arena, Fairfax, Va., has a good handle on its demographic.
“Our location in an affluent county of Washington, D.C., is a good fit not just for youth-oriented rock shows, but also family entertainment,” said the arena’s general manager Barry Geisler. “We’re a part of Monumental Sports & Entertainment, so we’re also able to share the same resources and customer lists as the nearby Verizon Center.”
Marketing is not as cut and dried at the University of Nevada’s Sam Boyd Stadium and Thomas & Mack Center, Las Vegas, which face stiff competition from local casinos and entertainment venues.
“It’s tough to market in Vegas with the number of venues in the city,” said Mike Newcomb, executive director of Sam Boyd Stadium and Thomas & Mack Center. “The key to our success is targeting annual corporate events in conjunction with hotels and making them grow.”
For St. Louis’ Chaifetz Arena, run by Spectra Venue Management, building relationships with local and national promoters has been effective.
“Providing promoters with great value and being a good partner [has worked well],” said Lindsay Gjerde, the arena’s director of marketing.
University venues also are getting creative by partnering with local companies.
Last year, Iowa State Center at Iowa State University in Ames marketed a Gordon Lightfoot concert in conjunction with local company Wine & Canvas. Participants created sundown paintings, and these were posted on Facebook for people to vote on their favorite.
“The winner received free concert tickets and a meet and greet with Gordon,” said Tammy Koolbeck, executive director at Iowa State Center. “He also signed all of the works of art. We got lots of mileage out of that.”
The venue also promoted its annual “Nutcracker” performance, now in its 36th year, on Facebook with its #ispystevie campaign. Ticket sales increased 15 percent.
“We had a stuffed Stevie the Nutcracker moving around for a week and people had to guess where he was located from his Facebook picture,” said Koolbeck. “We provided clues and also activated sponsors in town.” Winners received free tickets to the performance.”
Save Mart Center at California State University, Fresno, is being marketed as a rehearsal space to expand its use and visibility in the marketplace.
“We’re close enough to Los Angeles for artists who don’t want to deal with the craziness of that city,” said Sean McElhinney, assistant general manager.
To better communicate with local media and fans, The Jerome Schottenstein Center at Ohio State University in Columbus, has developed a local celebrity, The Arena Guy.
The USF Sun Dome, Tampa, Fla., increases its visibility in the market by community-driven efforts, including clothing and school supply drives that it ties into its events that also benefit local organizations.
“We also focus on enhancing our patrons’ experiences at our events by incorporating pre-show block parties, happy hours and dinner packages into most concerts and shows,” said Trent Merritt, Spectra regional vice president/general manager of USF Sun Dome. “And we are always implementing new ideas for database acquisition through digital campaigns, contesting and grassroots initiatives to expand our reach and overall imprint locally and regionally.”


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Q&A > FRED ROSEN > FORMER CEO OF TICKETMASTER
 
Posted: 1 Feb 2017, 8:15 pm

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Fred Rosen, our SEVT 2004 Pioneer in Sport and Entertainment Award Winner, has never been without an opinion. A pioneer in ticketing, the creator of the current ticketing model when he was CEO of Ticketmaster, has been out of the industry for 18 years, but his depth of knowledge is still unparalleled. He has taught students of sports and entertainment business in the Los Angeles area, and he agreed to share his thoughts on today’s ticketing world and the evolution of ticketing.

What has changed in ticketing in the last 20 years?
What’s changed is the explosion of the secondary market. People are a lot more attuned to getting value for the ticket. The people who have risk and are responsible for the pricing — the artist or the team — are becoming the beneficiaries of a significant amount of the rise in prices in the secondary market because now they are involved in the process.

What hasn’t changed in ticketing in the last 20 years?
Nobody pays more for a ticket than they want. You can price them and then the free market takes its toll. The advent of StubHub changed the marketplace because it put the laws against scalping out of business. You can’t go after Mary Jane in Iowa. When I left, Ticketmaster allowed the fan clubs to take 10 percent of the tickets for the fans. Mary Jane, a fan, bought four tickets and she realized that, through the Internet, she could sell two and pay for four. Then she realized she could sell four and pay her rent and go sit where she always sat with Ticketmaster and complain about the service charge. When people ask me now, how did I deal with the noise, I just say, ‘I shut off my hearing aid.’

How are ticket prices really decided?
The public decides this stuff. This is not housing or food, it’s not life and death, it’s a show. Prices get scaled. I remember when we started Golden Circles (VIP seating), because it used to be one price fits all. People thought that was crazy. And we all remember the controversy about the $2 facility fee. The truth of this is that people pay it, therefore that’s what it’s worth. Case closed. None of that has changed in 30 years. If I go back to the beginning, people would say to me there is no money in tickets and I would look at them like they’d left the planet. I remember saying to people, ‘okay, if you’re not going to take the money I will.’ I wasn’t being a jerk about it. I understood that there was a market value. When the first row and the last row were the same price, there was no way it would sustain itself in the aftermarket.
Scaling, Golden Circles, market demand — what else goes into determining prices?
I learned a lot about that from Jerry Buss [owner of the L.A. Lakers and the old Fabulous Forum]. Jerry had floor seats that were $1,000, then $1,500 and then $2,000. But Jerry also had tickets for $7.50 and $9.50 in the nosebleeds. His point was that everyone should have a right to see the show, but you don’t get the same seat. Not to mention those events were all on TV. You don’t have to go.

So nothing has changed?
You’re not having the same fights you had before. You had presales, then the presale to the presale and then the sponsor sale. Ticketmaster is not even part of these conversations, because ultimately the primary business, which is a great business, gets lost in the bigger conversation and no one is focusing on what Ticketmaster is charging, which is great for Ticketmaster.

But Ticketmaster always gets blamed, don’t they?
The reason the public has a bad taste when you say Ticketmaster is because they want someone to blame. We live in a nation of scapegoats. I created Ticketmaster as the strawman for the industry. That was intentional. Even at the height of all the controversy in 1994 [when Pearl Jam alleged Ticketmaster was a monopoly and was driving up service charges] our sales went up, because most of the people didn’t understand what the controversy was about. You have to recognize that when I built the business, the arenas needed someone to hide behind. The acts were taking more of the money. It went from 50/50 to 80/20 to 90/10 to taking a fee and Ticketmaster was the one revenue stream that the acts couldn’t control. I created a perception I was pretty tough to deal with. When the buildings needed money or they were being hammered, the service charge was something that was flexible and could move and we moved it. What the public never understood, which is why all these antitrust actions generally did not succeed, is that Ticketmaster doesn’t control pricing or how many tickets it gets or when the tickets go on sale. It has very little control.

Why does ticketing generate so much controversy?
It’s human nature. If you sell a ticket in the back third of an airplane, no one cares because hopefully you land at the same time as the front. But if you sell a ticket in the back third of the arena, people are angry. Even though the screens are better today and you have the digital experience, it doesn’t change that fact, and it’s someone’s fault. They equate the ‘service charge’ to where they sat. You can’t fix that, because a third of what you sell people hate.

Don’t they also think it’s greed?
When I taught at the business school, I asked people how many of you stole music when you got your laptops? Now I ask who didn’t steal it. Then I say, let me tell you the physics of what you’ve done. For every action, there’s a reaction. You push, there’s a pull. So if you’re complaining about concert prices and service charges, you have no one to blame but yourself. You took the money out of the artist’s pocket for their recorded music and they got it back by making you pay to see the show. No one pays more for a ticket than they want. It hasn’t changed. I am bemused by where prices have gone. I’m not surprised. There is a great emotional connection between teams and artists and their fans. That’s what a capitalistic system does. You cannot in anyway lessen that as an issue.

It is all about the act or the team, in the end?
I was always astounded that our business never declined. It was solid based on the functionality of the acts. And while there was a lot of noise, the truth is that as facts became known, the reporters never wanted to write the story that you are an inventory control system. Fundamentally. Nothing more than that. You give people accurate counts and so on. And what Ticketmaster is proud of is that it cleaned up an industry, gave people a distribution system that works. And it keeps evolving and works quickly. The artists have straight accounting now, and they get paid. People aren’t standing in line at 3 in the morning. It’s a business.

Hasn’t it always been a business?
When I first got into the business, you’d walk in a room to make a deal and there would be the owner, the head of marketing, VP of operations and then they’d call the box office person into the room to ask if it would work. Now, it’s 12 people and they’re all MBAs. The business grew up because people found out these are interesting careers. But the basic premise hasn’t changed. It’s putting bodies in seats. Now you have more data, data mining, more understanding of who your customer is. But when they’re all through playing around, it’s bodies in seats. If you have a good act, you don’t have enough seats, and if you have a bad act, it’s like being on a gerbil wheel. What do I need to do to put people in here?


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PETER LUUKKO BLEEDS BRICK AND MORTAR
 
Posted: 1 Feb 2017, 8:10 pm

Nine months ago, our 2017 SEVT Lifetime Achievement Award winner embarked on yet another chapter in his life. But while the lifetime of achievement isn’t over, the bar is already set so high that Peter Luukko, current chairman of the Arena Alliance for Oak View Group as well as executive chairman of Sunrise Sports Group, was the unanimous choice for this award presented by the University of South Carolina and Venues Today.
He will be both keynote speaker and award recipient at the 20th Sport, Entertainment & Venues Tomorrow conference set for March 22-24, in Columbia, S.C. He has a lifetime of great achievements and is, at the same time, a mentor to many.
Robert Esche, Garden Entertainment, Utica, N.Y., looks at Luukko as a mentor. He recalled Luukko’s visits to the locker room when Esche was playing for the Philadelphia Flyers of the National Hockey League, of which Luukko was president. “He has such a genuine heart,” said Esche. “He would be in the locker room and walking around and would give me advice on how to get into the industry. He’d tell me it was a hockey-friendly business. He knew the type of person I was and straightened me out. Now I’m the owner of Mohawk Valley Garden and a hockey team.”
Luukko spends his days and nights giving advice. As part of Oak View Group, he’s advising the New York Islanders about their best options — a new arena being the expected outcome.
His new career, similar to his old career, is nonstop. Referring to his partners, Irving Azoff and Tim Leiweke in Oak View Group, he said: “Basically over the spring and into the summer, we were on a whirlwind tour to all major arenas to explain to them what the vision was, which is to supplement their bookings. We’re not going to run their buildings. They don’t need our help. But help with bookings, additional sponsorship opportunities that come from the aggregation of buildings that host more than 70 million people, that’s what we do. For some companies it’s too much work to do a one-off in a single city. We will be announcing some major deals soon.” 
Meanwhile, he’s also working at Sunrise Sports Entertainment, which entails working with the Florida Panthers of the National Hockey League and BB&T Center, Sunrise, Fla. “Your day is you call Dale Tallon, president of hockey ops, and ask him what’s going on, what are you seeing, what do you think? And Kevin Grove on events, Jim Willits in sales, and Matt Caldwell, our president. Then I’m spending a lot of the day on various issues at Oak View, like responding to the RFP in Seattle (KeyArena) and working with the Islanders to develop a strategy on what they will do long term.”
Basically, for OVG, “I’ll be the East Coast guy, Tim is the West Coast guy,” Luukko said. It couldn’t be more perfect because they work so well together. Ask them about each other and this is what you get:
Leiweke on Luukko: “When I was at AEG we would bid and compete against each other, yet we had the most fantastic relationship. We never had cross words, never had a competitive moment and never had a disagreement, ever. I found him to  understand that relationships and friendships are forever and disagreements last a minute. So let’s not have any. To this day, Peter and I can tell you that despite the many years we competed and now are proud to work together, we never ever had a bad day with one another. Peter was influential in building SMG, and in building Global Spectrum, not many people in life have that knowledge and experience. What he did with Ed Snider and the Flyers and Wells Fargo Center and the impact in Philly was amazing. He goes down to Florida and helps turn that situation around, which was amazing. And we could not be more proud he is working with us to help shape the future of where we are going with facilities.”
Luukko on Leiweke: “He’s a really, really good, hardworking guy. He’s a good person. He doesn’t want to hurt anybody. He’s a hardworking businessman. He’s relentless. He’s always working, but my experience with Tim is he always listens to what you’re saying. Some people just talk at you. That’s not him. He uses resources. I’m a big fan.”

A LIFETIME OF WINNING
In 1981, Luukko began his career at age 17 as an intern at New Haven (Conn.) Coliseum, and was quickly hired as director of marketing. “My only experience in marketing was at a grocery store,” he said, laughing.
The significance of those early days is that he formed relationships that have served him throughout his career. Steve Lombardi hired him. Luukko was in marketing and Hank Abate (now with Madison Square Garden, New York) was the box office manager. “In 1983, Steve got the job at Providence (R.I.) Civic Center and both Hank and I went with Steve. In 1985, Tony Tavares (legendary team president and SMG head) hired me to go to work at SMI in Philadelphia. I was director of facility administration.”
“Nothing’s changed,” he said with a smile, referring to his current role which is basically director of facilities.
In 1988, SMG (which replaced SMI) had the opportunity to sign up the L.A. Coliseum and Sports Arena. Their partner was MCA Records, run by Irving Azoff. “We won the bid and Tony sent me West. I had the opportunity to work with Dick Shaff (the late manager of Moscone Center, San Francisco, for SMG); it was incredible to get to know Dick. And this is where I got to know Irving. Irving was our partner and I was the day-to-day representative from SMG. I remember calling Irving who, even then, was as powerful an executive in the record industry in L.A. as there could be. I remember calling him up and saying, ‘Who do you want me to report to on the venture?’ and he said, ‘Me,’ with some funny line like don’t you like me?”
Luukko was only 28 at the time, and Azoff introduced him to the powerful people in L.A., a role Tavares also played back in Philly. “Tony was a great mentor in terms of making arena deals and booking shows. We were one of the first people dealing directly with agents and managers. Tony turned those relationships over to me because I was out there. They’ve helped me create all my music relationships. I grew up in sports. I wanted to work for the Boston Bruins. Those guys helped with the music side.”
Luukko’s career is a parade of powerful relationships, many of which were planted in L.A. In fact, Ed Snider was among those L.A. connections, though Luukko ended up working with him in Philadelphia most of his career. The late owner of the Philadelphia Flyers and Wells Fargo Center began working with Tavares, Azoff, Don Webb and Luukko on a deal to keep the NFL’s Raiders in L.A. (Luukko is still working on a deal with the Raiders, only this time it’s to get the Raiders out of Oakland and into Las Vegas. Another example of nothing changes.)
They did keep the Raiders in L.A., but when renovations never materialized, the team eventually moved to Oakland. Luukko counts the late Al Davis, longtime owner of the Raiders, and Jerry Jones, owner of the Dallas Cowboys, as friends. “Jones is a brilliant guy,” Luukko said. It is his style to give credit where credit is due and Luukko especially likes sports team owners who are venue oriented like Davis, Jones and Snider.
“A lot of owners are so excited to buy the team, they are more team centric,” Luukko observed. The same is true on the music side, though there are music moguls like Dennis Arfa, Howard Rose and Azoff who “really, really understand the venue side. From their standpoint, they want to deal directly with the real estate owner. They are hands-on people.”
While working with Snider and Davis in L.A., albeit the junior guy on the deal, Luukko was the boots on the ground and he impressed Snider, especially in terms of their mutual love for hockey.
So in 1993, Snider asked Luukko to go run the now defunct Spectrum and get involved with the business of the Flyers. Snider was a one-third owner in SMG, where Luukko worked at the time, a major private management firm. “It was an interesting point for Ed; were we going to build a new building or renovate the Spectrum?” Nothing’s changed. Now it’s an interesting time for the Islanders.
“Something had to stick,” Luukko said, laughing. “It’s not that I’m smart, you just do it enough. It’s like hockey; I’ve been skating my whole life.”
At the time they were leaning toward building Spectrum II, as it was called, but they did want to take one last hard look at renovation. “A renovation is half the price of building a new arena. How close can you get to the economics of a new arena? You have to look at it,” Luukko advised.
In his professional opinion, a lot of the buildings of the 90s, when they started putting in restaurants and clubs and midlevel suites, can be renovated. As every major arena looks into the future now, “I think the answer is going to be renovation.” The problem with the relics of the 70s is the small footprint, thus the demise of icons like Chicago Stadium, Boston Garden and the Spectrum. They simply weren’t big enough to accommodate change.
“In my opinion, the next changes aren’t going to be bricks and mortar. They are going to be the technology,” Luukko said.
Luukko’s respect for Snider grew tenfold when the entrepreneur, from whom he learned so much, basically took out a personal mortgage and put his team and assets on the line to build CoreStates Center (which became Wells Fargo Center).
“He put it all on the line again,” Luukko marveled, referring to Snider’s first big risk establishing the Flyers in the first place and building them a home. “He had to be in his 60s by then. I certainly have a lot of respect for that.”
In 1995, they formed Comcast Spectacor when Comcast wanted them involved in purchasing the Philadelphia 76ers. Comcast wanted to form a regional sports network and Snider had one, PRISM. “Looking to where Brian Roberts has taken that company, it’s mindboggling,” Luukko said of the CEO of Comcast.
In 1998, Snider sold his third interest in SMG and had a two-year noncompete. In 2000, Snider and Luukko started Global Spectrum with Mich Sauers’ Global Facility Services. “Then I hooked up with a dear friend, Kenny Young, and we started Ovations Food Services. Then we became involved with Paciolan [now Spectra Ticketing & Fan Engagement] and did all that. That was Comcast Spectacor Ventures. Ed awarded me sweat equity for putting those companies together.”
Nothing’s changed. Once again, Luukko is participating in building a business, the Oak View Group.
“It’s very similar,” Luukko mused. “Irving and Tim started the venture with James Dolan [MSG} and they got together with me and asked if I’d like to join the band.”
“I’ll never forget, Tim called me when he was in Toronto [Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment] and said, ‘I’ll be leaving and I’ll call you in March,’ and he called me in March.”
“Tim is tireless, it’s endless, it’s great, it’s so much fun.”
Luukko is not prone to hyperbole. He keeps it simple and on point. For OVG, “the idea is to all work tighter to find more stuff.” The not-quite-year-old company is open to vetting new concepts and looking at opportunities, he said.
“We just want more,” Luukko said. “I used to run an arena. We all need more. A good arena manager is afraid of the dark.”

 

PETER’S WISDOMS

> Get your foot in the door. Don’t be so concerned with finding a specific duty. You’ll find your way.

> Sometimes students don’t realize most of us came from the bottom up and we remember it like it was yesterday. That’s one of the most satisfying parts of my career, helping people. How do you pay an Irving Azoff or Tony Tavares back? You can’t; you pay it forward by helping someone else.

> I was very fortunate moving to L.A. because that got me in the music business. It hadn’t been that long that the music business moved out here. Everything was emerging.

> Return every phone call. Gary Bettman, David Stern, Irving Azoff, they call everyone back every day; I think you can, too.

> You don’t have to take every dollar off the table. If you want to be in business long term, everyone in the deal has to make money.

> Word of mouth is the best advertising and, if you have not been fair in deals, you will have a short career.


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LIVE NATION GLOBAL TOURING CHIEF
 
Posted: 1 Feb 2017, 8:00 pm

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Living up to his status as “King of the Megatour,” Arthur Fogel, president of Live Nation’s Global Touring division and chairman, Live Nation Global Music, will have yet another “mega” year in 2017, steering international tours by U2, Lady Gaga and Sting (Fogel was also instrumental in bringing Bruno Mars into the Live Nation Touring fold in 2016).  Over 30 years helming global tours that have grossed an estimated $4 billion in just the past decade, Fogel has cultivated a very specialized skill set, successfully navigating the dicey waters of international touring for elite superstar artists. On the day Lady Gaga blew out the public on-sale for her upcoming “Joanne” World Tour, Fogel spoke with Venues Today about his 2017 projects, including U2’s “Joshua Tree” stadium tour (now at about 1.5 million tickets sold), Gaga’s transcendent Super Bowl Halftime performance, and the power of being Sting.

Coming on the heels of the successful 2015 “Innocence + Experience” tour in arenas, the announcement of a stadium tour for U2 in support of the 30th anniversary of the “Joshua Tree” came as a surprise to many. How did that come about?
They’re not a band that necessarily looks to celebrate the past in this way, but (“Joshua Tree”) was such a powerful and significant record that it seems quite relevant 30 years later. It’s quite a milestone in and of itself, such an influential, huge record. I think it just added up to, rather than just do a couple of shows, the thinking was, ‘let’s do a bunch of shows, give people the opportunity to be part of it 30 years later.’

It did occur to me that U2 is a band that never looks back, but if you’re going to acknowledge a milestone, “Joshua Tree” would be the one.
I agree, it’s that significant, it was — and remains — an important record, and certainly an important time for them as a band. Obviously, a lot of people share that same view, because [ticket sales] just exploded out of the gate. It probably did take people by surprise, but definitely a welcome one.

The “Innocence + Experience” arena run in 2015 (in support of the 2014 release “Songs Of Innocence”) was such a groundbreaking tour technically, and the performances were critically acclaimed. Is there any chance of revisiting that touring concept?
We’ve done “Innocence,” and I think once they’re ready to release “Experience”, we’re going to continue the “Innocence + Experience” tour. That was always the plan. The approach will be to use the same kind of physical production; obviously the content will change in terms of songs, visuals, etc. Certainly the plan is to finish the “Experience” part of that project.

Well, that’s good news for those who didn’t see it, and of course those like myself who did and would like to see it again.
They are such a great band live, not just because of great songs, but they always have such great instincts with respect to production and presentation. They’re just in a great place.

Will the “Joshua Tree” tour production have some nods to the original tour (109 shows in arenas and stadiums in 1987)?
It’s all kind of in process with the band and creative team at this point, but I would expect it would tie to the look, feel and vibe [of that era], to a great extent.

Lady Gaga’s “Joanne” album just exploded at retail after what some have called the greatest Super Bowl Halftime performance of all time. As a promoter, I guess that’s about as good as you could hope for from a Super Bowl performance and tour announcement.
(Laughing) There’s no question, it was brilliant, and [the Super Bowl] is probably the greatest platform there is for announcing a tour, particularly when she delivers like she did. But it doesn’t surprise me how great it was; her talent is so broad, and there’s such a depth of talent. There are very few artists that rise to the occasion in big moments like she does, whether it’s the Oscars, or singing the National Anthem at the Super Bowl last year, obviously this half time show, there’s a bunch of other examples. She just has such great instincts and confidence in her performance.

It must have been rewarding to watch, given your relationship with Lady Gaga, which dates back to the “Monster Ball” tour in 2009.
I started working with her eight or nine years ago; it’s turned left, it’s turned right, and it’s in a great place now. Eight or nine years seems like a long time, but it’s not really that long a time, and in that period she’s really established herself as a great artist, a great performer, and that half time show just reconfirmed that. The tour will be the next step of blowing people away, the next phase of what’s coming after we went on sale post-Super Bowl. There will always be great success in front of her.

What can you tell me about her on-sales for the upcoming “Joanne” tour (which begins Aug. 1 at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, B.C.)?
Everything’s sold out: Wrigley Field (Chicago), Fenway Park (Boston), Citi Field (New York), AT&T Park (San Francisco), all the arenas. The presales were last week, we went on sale to the public this morning (Feb. 13), everything’s sold out. We’re adding a second Fenway, a second Citi Field, I’d add another Chicago, but there are no avails. We’ll put the second leg of America on sale over the next couple of weeks, which runs in the fall. The tour starts in North America, goes to Europe, then comes back to America for the end of the year.

Even though she’s had big hits and tours, it always has felt like there was almost a cult following with her that everybody didn’t get. I think maybe we just saw the mainstreaming of Lady Gaga, without her compromising anything artistically.
Very astute observation, I think you’re absolutely right. Certainly, over the last two or three years, her audience has opened up and broadened, just because of what she’s been up to and how she’s evolved, through the Tony Bennett project, through her TV work, a bunch of different things that really opened up that audience and the Super Bowl is just the icing on the cake. People that were raving to me about it, a lot of them were never hardcore Gaga fans, it’s like a light bulb went on.

A lot of acts go pure nostalgia or can be swallowed up by that big Super Bowl stage, and Lady Gaga did neither.
To me, the greatest thing about the Super Bowl is she did it herself, it was just full-on Gaga. I loved that there were no special guests or no “variety show” vibe. It was just her.

She could have blown it; it was right there to be blown. It could have easily gone off the rails, had she gone in a different direction.
(Laughs) Well, it could have, but I’m a 100 percent believer in her, and have been since day one. That’s why I held Fenway and Citi and Wrigley. I believe in her.
You’ve also been Sting’s longtime tour promoter. I look at Sting’s route, it’s really cool smaller venues, and worldwide. It seems this guy can play anywhere in the world.
He can play anywhere. I saw him last week when he was here [in L.A.] at the Palladium. I’ve had the great fortune to work with him for a long time, with the Police in the middle of our run together, and the thing that blows me away about him — apart from the immense talent and history — is he makes it look so easy. He’s at the top of his game, still. I love that he’s doing these smaller places, I think it’s a good changeup. Last year we did the run with Peter Gabriel [the “Paper and Scissors” tour), which was fantastic. The new record [“57th And 9th”] is great, I think it was a good decision to scale back [the tour] and get a little bit “down-and-dirty” in some smaller places. It’s good to see him having so much fun.

Sting’s tour, like most of what you do, is global in nature. Do you take into account what’s going on in the world, the global political, economic and cultural climate, when you route a tour now?
Yes, you have to. And there’s the reality of the U.S. dollar against other currencies. You’ve got to be smart, and you’ve got to adjust, but, at the end of the day, it still makes sense for acts to tour the world. As you know, for me it’s always been such a big part of the view on how to put these tours together and maximize them. But also, over the years, you’ve seen those artists that maybe over-developed a territory like the U.S. or North America, and the world is kind of out of whack for them in terms of strength. For me, it’s always been about how do you bring it all along at the same level, because that certainly helps career longevity, especially playing live.

It’s funny, I was talking to somebody not long ago about how, when this whole global touring model was picking up momentum in the late ‘80s, early ‘90s, there were like 15 or 16 countries that came across regularly on these tours. Now it’s like 40-45, it’s like the universe has at least tripled for this kind of tour.
That’s a lot more for you and your team to be on top of.
That’s true, but for me personally, that’s what I find most exciting and interesting. It’s absolutely critical as I look at the business to have that big picture view. Nothing against the local route, I just think there’s so much to offer when you can have one view, one strategy overlaying how these things get executed and put together.


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BRANDING WITH PARTNERS
 
Posted: 1 Feb 2017, 8:00 pm

From rebranding efforts to new management companies, university top stops are taking the necessary steps to set venues apart in competitive landscapes.
Michigan State University’s Wharton Center for the Performing Arts in Lansing commissioned Chicago-based Prophet in August to develop a new look and mission for its brand by next fall.
“Some elements are part of our 35th anniversary season,” said Diane Wilcox, the center’s director of marketing. “It’s about who we are and who we aspire to be, which is more than a presenter.”
In celebration of its 40th year, Frank Erwin Center at the University of Texas, Austin, has rolled out a new logo and website page, with more changes on the way, according to Liz Land, assistant director of marketing/sales & digital media.
Like non-university facilities, these facilities are becoming centerpieces of new development.
Colonial Life Arena at the University of South Carolina, Columbia, is now part of a completed city growth project called Foundation Square. The venue sits in the center of new housing, retail and restaurant space.
Iowa State Center at Iowa State University in Ames and Orlando, Fla.’s CFE Arena are booking dates further out, which is a new development, according to Brian Hixenbaugh, CFE Arena’s general manager.
“I have one November date and two December events booking now, which is not the norm,” said Hixenbaugh. “It’s all about traffic and how to get in front of it.”


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SCHOOL BENEFITS ENTIRE HOSPITALITY INDUSTRY
 
Posted: 1 Feb 2017, 8:00 pm

The booming hospitality industry in New Orleans has a gaping employment hole that desperately needs filling in the restaurant sector. 
It took more than 10 years for the industry to recover from the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, and the growing restaurant scene is in desperate need of culinary talent.
Before the massive hurricane struck in 2005, the city had 800 restaurants. Fast forward to 2017, and New Orleans is home to 1,400 eateries (fast food not included) and there aren’t enough workers to keep up with the demand.
“The growth of restaurants in New Orleans since Katrina is remarkable,” said Kristian Sonnier, vice president of communications and public relations for the Convention and Visitors Bureau in New Orleans.
To fill the void, the New Orleans Convention Center Authority and New Orleans Culinary & Hospitality Institute (NOCHI) joined forces to create a new culinary and hospitality training and education center in the city.
The convention center authority, which is the governing body of the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, purchased a 93,000-square-foot building for $12 million mirrored with a cooperative partnership with NOCHI that includes a 40-year lease agreement.
A chunk of those funds are for the building purchase and for renovations that are estimated to total $32 million before the secondary education culinary school opens in spring of 2018.
Once completed, the facility will be equipped with two culinary teaching labs, two baking and pastry labs, a restaurant lab, a wine and spirits lab, a large event center, a banquet kitchen, classrooms, office spaces and a public café.
“The need is that we’re a hospitality city, and one of the workforces is restaurants,” said NOCHI Executive Director Carol Markowitz. “The industry is struggling to find enough people to staff the 1,400 restaurants and our hotels. (The partnership) really came from this dire need of workforce. We really do need a world class hospitality school in New Orleans.” 
NOCHI was formed by some of the city’s most famous restaurant owners, including George Brower, Ti Martin and Dickie Brennan, all of whom felt the shortage of culinary staff first hand, Markowitz said.
NOCHI is a not-for-profit organization that aims to provide “economic, social and cultural benefits” to the local and global service industry, stated a press release on the culinary institute.
The school will offer two 650-hour certificate programs under the Culinary Institute of America. “In addition to career training programs, NOCHI will also offer community engagement programs and support research and scholarship initiatives that benefit the hospitality industry,” stated the release.
To quantify the need, Sonnier outlined that prior to Hurricane Katrina, visitor spending in New Orleans reached $4.9 billion in 2004. The Convention and Visitors Bureau calculated that in 2015 (the latest record, as 2016 figures won’t come out until March), visitor spending reached a record $7.05 billion.
“It speaks to the demand that the visitors want,” Sonnier said.
The contrast of spending over the years also is extraordinary, considering that in 2004, there were 10.1 million visitors to New Orleans. In 2015, there were 9.9 million visitors, and the reason the spending jumped had to do with the type of visitors.
The visitors’ bureau found that although the visitor numbers are down, visitors are spending more when they come to town, and there’s a huge influx of international visitors who stay longer than those who live stateside.
The 2015 survey also outlined that overnight visitors in New Orleans who stayed in hotels spend on average of $1,011 per person per trip and stayed an average of 4 nights, spending roughly $238 per person, per day.
NOCHI’s plans for a culinary/hospitality institute didn’t come to fruition without snags in the process, Markowitz said.
Initially, NOCHI partnered with the local community college to open the secondary education facility. “Originally, it was supposed to be a joint announcement with our community college,” she said, noting that state budget issues forced the community college to pull out of the agreement.
“As a result, we formed a high level of support across the industry that enabled us to have these conversations with the convention center.”
After NOCHI’s board of directors reconvened, they opted to bring in the New Orleans Convention Center Authority to pick up the deal.
“The convention center authority recognizes that how we serve our visitors is critical to our success. NOCHI will help bring our already excellent local restaurant and hospitality service levels up to new heights by providing for the long-term, sustainable plan for development of our hospitality workforce,” Melvin Rodrigue, chairman of the authority said in a statement. “Given New Orleans’ standing as a world class convention and culinary destination, having a culinary and hospitality institute is long overdue. We are proud to partner with and commend the leadership of NOCHI for their dedication to this effort.”
City, state and industry professionals all have the same goal — to continue to drive growth and tourism to the region, Markowitz said.
The building that will house the culinary institute sits on the corner of a city block and has a mixture of old and new construction. “It’s an interesting mix with an industrial look inside,” Markowitz noted
“It’s a tuition based program that will look to compete with other certificate programs,” she said. “It’s geared to get people into middle skills positions, such as line cooks and above.”
The goal also is to get unemployed residents of New Orleans into the hospitality field. “It’s going to be a range from entry level to higher skills jobs. Our mission was not to re-create programs, but to look for opportunities to lay career paths in the industry,” Markowitz said.
It seems everyone, and every association, is rooting for the culinary school.
The Kitchen Equipment Association is donating all the kitchen equipment for the institute.
In the state of Louisiana, hospitality is a top industry next to government, education, health care and trade, Markowitz said.
“We’re leveraging the strength of a key industry in our state to build a resource that will create greater access and opportunity for the community,” Louisiana Governor Bel Edwards said in a statement.


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AN EVENTFUL YEAR ON CAMPUS
 
Posted: 1 Feb 2017, 8:00 pm

Due to their locations and demographics, university venues can take advantage of events that may not be moneymakers, but are definite publicity builders.
Such was the case for the University of Nevada, Las Vegas’ Thomas & Mack Center, which hosted the final 2016 Presidential Debate.
“We spent most of the last year and a half planning this event,” said Mike Newcomb, executive director of the Thomas & Mack Center and Sam Boyd Stadium. “Although it took a great deal of planning, it didn’t bring in much revenue. But this still had a major impact on the campus and surrounding area.”
This also was the case for Tampa, Fla.’s USF Sun Dome, which hosted a campaign rally for then presidential candidate Donald Trump.
“This broke our previous attendance record with 10,970 patrons at the event,” said Trent Merritt, Spectra regional vice president/general manager. “A great point of pride from that event was how smoothly it operated from parking to security to production and customer service. It was a great example of various departments across campus and the city pulling together.”
University venues contacted report strong attendance and revenue numbers for 2016, which the majority attribute to diverse programming, local partnerships and a heavier reliance on social media marketing.
“The 2016 fiscal year marked our most successful financial year to date by a wide margin due to the culmination of strategic business relationships we have built and fostered over the years,” said Merritt. “Not surprisingly, 2016 also saw a year full of attendance records for the USF Sun Dome.”

BOOKING TRENDS
There are a number of recent developments in events held at university-based venues, most notably a wider range of bookings.
Wharton Center for the Performing Arts at Michigan State University in East Lansing locked into the major national touring Broadway market in the last five years and as a result will host both “Hamilton” and “The Lion King”.
“Even though we’re a smaller region, we’re getting the hottest shows working with New York City touring companies,” said Michael Brand, executive director. “This past season, we had record-breaking crowds at “Wicked”, with 97.7-percent capacity on a three-week run.”
Classic rock, classic country, comedy and Broadway continue to be strong performers at Wagner Noel Performing Arts Center at the University of Texas in Midland.
“But we are also seeing success with other types of shows, like The Temptations/The Four Tops, Kristin Chenoweth and contemporary country acts like Old Dominion and Kacey Musgraves,” said Sammy Wallace, general manager.
Family show ticket sales are at an
all-time high for the Ted Constant Convocation Center at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Va. In 2016, the calendar included Charlie Wilson, Fantasia, Jeff Dunham, Anthony Hamilton, The Price Is Right Live, Faith Evans, The 1975, Cage The Elephant, Gabriel Iglesias and WWE.
“We recently opened up a new premium club, the 4400 Club, which provided 400 seats for fans based on a donation to the University Athletic Foundation,” said Spectra’s Mike Fryling, general manager. “Due to the demand, we are expanding to add another level accommodating 400 more people.”
With the closing of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, EagleBank Arena at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va., has sought to fill in a two-week gap.
“Now we have spots for a high school robotics competition and Joyce Meyer Ministries,” said Barry Geisler, general manager. “We also will host two weeks of Marvel Universe Live in 2019.”
John Paul Jones Arena at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville celebrated its 10th anniversary by launching its first welcome week concert for students with hip-hop artist J. Cole.
“This was a huge turnout and provided students with a positive atmosphere as they returned to school,” said Jason Pedone, general manager. “Our most unique night was Carrie Underwood, who performed in the round. Our spring is flush with shows, most recently Twenty One Pilots, one of the hottest acts we’ve had and a sellout.”
Among its concerts and sporting events, The Jerome Schottenstein Center at Ohio State University in Columbus hosted two firsts — the Alternative Press Awards and the North American Major Championship of Counter Strike: Global Offensive, an eSports tournament that had over 10,000 guests live and over 70 million views online.
“We also broke our single artist sales record for a single tour with Garth Brooks by selling over 100,000 tickets and six performances,” said Bredan Buckley, director of booking.
With tours from Paul McCartney, Luke Bryan, Justin Bieber and Carrie Underwood, 2016 was the strongest year for California State University’s Save Mart Center since 2005.
“Part of the reason is we’re crossing all genres,” said Sean McElhinney, assistant general manager of the Fresno facility. “When the economy crashed, we got hit hard and shows opted to stay away; now confidence has been restored.”

DIVERSE PROGRAMMING
University Top Stops are creating diverse event lineups, which has helped expand demographics from college students to include the surrounding regions.
“Diverse programming has had the biggest impact on our bottom line as well as focusing on subscription retention and acquisition to solidify our subscriber base,” said James Patrick, executive director at the Velma V. Morrison Center for the Performing Arts at Idaho’s Boise State University. “We had a lot of wonderful programs provided by our resident companies, but our Fred Meyer Broadway In Boise series remains a high point.”
In addition to “The Illusionists” and “Beautiful: The Carole King Musical”, the venue has hosted Wilco, Jackson Browne, The Piano Guys and David Brooks.  
The Wharton Center for the Performing Arts has experienced additional support for its classical music series as well as speakers it coordinates with other colleges. The center also is the first in the state to launch sensory-friendly performances created for people on the autism spectrum.
Last year, the USF Sun Dome hosted multiple Grammy Award-winning artists, such as Carlos Vives; Anthony Hamilton; Fantasia and Mary J. Blige, in addition to hosting the university’s men’s and women’s basketball programs and women’s volleyball.
“No doubt 2016 was our highest grossing revenue year ever,” said Orlando’s CFE Arena’s general manager Brian Hixenbaugh. “In addition to a sold-out Tool concert, we hosted a WE concert after the Pulse nightclub shooting, which sold out 8,000-plus tickets in two days. The money was donated  to the OneOrlando Fund for the shooting victims.”
The University of Central Florida arena also expedited its additional security measures following the shooting, implementing metal detectors in November.
Iowa State Center at Iowa State University in Ames had a successful run in 2016 with two Blue Man Group performances, followed by the Tedeschi Trucks Band, comedian Ron White and the university music department’s Master Works Choral Concert.
“The following Monday, we had a school programming series for children and both morning and afternoon shows were full,” said Tammy Koolbeck, executive director.
Sporting events also have been a juggernaut for university venues, even during the off season.
One example is UNLV’s Thomas & Mack Center, which recently signed a three-year extension to host the NBA Summer League.
“This has grown from six to 25 teams and last year drew more than 100,000 attendees,” said Newcomb. 
The most successful 2016 booking at Philadelphia’s The Liacouras Center - Temple University, run by Spectra Venue Management, was Cirque du Soleil.
The venue also hosted American Idol auditions last summer as well as a sold out Martin Lawrence performance, said Joe Sheridan, general manager.
Bruce Springsteen broke the arena record for highest attendance and highest grossing show at Chaifetz Arena at St. Louis University in Missouri.
“We had sold-out shows with Carrie Underwood and Tool,” said Lindsay Gjerde, director of marketing. “We also had great success with The Avett Brothers and Cirque du Soleil OVO.”
Summer didn’t slowdown Boston University’s Agganis Arena, which hosted four back to back concerts in June, including Twenty One Pilots, The Cure, Ryan Lewis and Macklemore.
“We’re very proud we had two nights of a sold out Adele concert in November as well as a Dolly Parton performance in December,” said Liz Land, assistant director of marketing/sales & digital media at the Frank Erwin Center, University of Texas, Austin. “We also opened up Drake’s tour July 20.”

DIGITAL & TECHNOLOGICAL  DEVELOPMENTS
Updates in the use of social media, along with technology, were other hallmarks for top university stops in 2016.
UNLV’s Thomas & Mack Center’s recent $73 million revamp included a new sound system, in addition to updates to its point-of-sale system, seats, restrooms and concessions.
“We also built a 9,200-square-foot addition to the west side of our building, which will be used for flexible meeting and event space,” said Newcomb.
This summer, Colonial Life Arena will add a new video and ribbon board to help with post season play opportunities.
In 2016, Temple University’s Liacouras Center launched a new website that is responsive to mobile devices for ticket sales. The facility also updated its marquee to include live scoring for its home games.
One of the biggest changes at Boise State’s Velma V. Morrison Center was replacing its website platform.
“We moved to a secure and responsive site, which provided much needed improvements in aesthetics and functionality,” said Patrick.

2017 STARTS STRONG
Like 2016, 2017 looks to be a high-grossing year for university venues.
“The year ahead will probably be our busiest since our opening in 1999,” said Cindy Harper, associate director, United Supermarkets Arena, Texas Tech University, Lubbock. “We are excited to be hosting the Lubbock debut of Cirque du Soleil OVO in March.” 
The venue went on sale a month ago with a Garth Brooks show, where he will be performing in the West Texas region for the first time in 20 years (and his first in Lubbock since a student fraternity group concert festival in 1991).
“Our 2017 schedule is very robust with return performances from area favorites like the Oak Ridge Boys and Ron White in January; Foreigner, Gabriel Iglesias, Styx, and America in February, Gordon Lightfoot, Willie Nelson, and Chicago in March; George Lopez and D.L. Hughley in April; and a very strong Broadway series highlighted by “Once”, “Rent”, “The Illusionists” and “Cinderella,” said Wallace at Wagner Noel PAC. “We also have a number of first-time performers coming in 2017, including YES, The Midtown Men, Greater Tuna, Shen Yun, Alice Cooper, Everclear and Garrison Keillor.”
Boston University’s Agganis Arena is planning Marc Anthony as its first 360-degree concert, which is expected to draw a record 7,000 attendees.
Iowa State Center in Ames has multiple performances of the musical “Chicago” planned with Eddie George, former Heisman winner, as the male lead. The facility also will host dancing siblings Derek and Julianna Hough’s Moved Beyond series in May.
UNLV’s Sam Boyd Stadium recently hosted the Mexican national soccer team’s game against Iceland, selling more than 25,000 tickets on a Wednesday night. It’s also expecting good showings for its Feld events, including Disney on Ice.
Save Mart Center is seeing 2017 looking equally as strong as last year, with 13 shows on sale at press time and high-profile acts on the roster, including Twenty One Pilots.


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PREPPING FOR MARCH MADNESS
 
Posted: 1 Feb 2017, 8:00 pm

In what signifies America’s most far-reaching annual sporting spectacle, the NCAA men’s basketball championship — better known as March Madness — invades cities across the country, filling arenas and stadiums with thousands of fans. Along the way, the NCAA has a definitive plan to keep the experience, both in-venue and on television screens the world over, on brand. That takes planning. Plenty of it.
While the tournament always starts with a “first four” at the University of Dayton Arena in Ohio, it expands beyond there, often growing in venue capacity for each round of play. This year, four arenas host the Sweet 16 and Elite 8 games between March 23 and 26 and University of Phoenix Stadium in Arizona takes on the challenge of hosting the Final Four, consisting of the semifinals on April 1 and the NCAA Championship Game on April 3.
The planning in Phoenix takes on a completely different approach, especially as officials must convert a football stadium into a basketball venue, while still accommodating the roughly 75,000 ticket holders for a Final Four event that hasn’t come west of Texas in over 20 years.
Tom Sadler, president and CEO of University of Phoenix Stadium, owned by  Arizona Sports and Tourism Authority, and leader of the Phoenix Final Four bid committee, said the engineering alone of setting up for basketball presents a challenge. The NCAA will bring in more than 16,000 temporary seats that surround the floor, which is elevated less than three feet to improve sightlines, and overlay into the permanent seating—covering about 5,500 of the permanent seats—until a seamless transition between temporary and fixed occurs. And since the Glendale, Ariz., stadium features a retractable roof, it took an engineering plan to install the video board the NCAA owns over the playing surface. From there, you have logistics of bringing power to the floor, along with the game day needs of basketball.
“There are always going to be challenges to accommodate the unique features of any event,” Sadler said. “We meet with the NCAA and get the lay of the land of what they need to do and then make suggestions and they make the final decisions. It is a good relationship.”
While accommodating the intense throng of media surrounding the event, along with the variety of VIP requirements, certainly takes planning, Sadler said it proves no more daunting than what the stadium has handled in the past, especially considering the building hosted the Super Bowl in 2016. “We accommodate any guest at our highest level,” Sadler said. “We have a number of options and tools at our disposal because of the way the stadium is configured. We are able to prepare for (any VIP need).”
While University of Phoenix Stadium may have the biggest stage of those hosting games in the 2017 tournament, even basketball-ready arenas spend 15 months prepping for the arrival of the NCAA.
This is nothing new, though, as the NCAA hands each venue a manual to work from, said James Hamnet, director of booking and events for San Jose, Calif.’s SAP Center, one of the four arenas hosting the Sweet 16/Elite 8. “It is almost like a checklist for how to put on a basketball game,” he said. “It simplifies the process.”
Joel Fisher, executive vice president of MSG Marquee Events for New York City’s Madison Square Garden, said they are set up for any VIP or media event.
From the Fedex Forum in Memphis to the Sprint Center in Kansas City, the template remains the same, venues must provide a “clean” backdrop within the seating bowl. While easier for buildings with fully digital signage, some—such as University of Phoenix Stadium—must physically cover branding not consistent with NCAA sponsors. The level of clean branding stretches right down to the packaging for food and beverage, too.
“We can’t have SAP Center napkins or Round Table Pizza boxes, you need to go generic with those items,” said Hamnet. “We don’t have to stop selling, we just can’t put them in branded containers, which is pretty easy to accommodate.” Anything entering the seating bowl must comply.
Brenda Tinnen, general manager of Sprint Center, said the consistency in signage extends beyond the seating bowl too, ensuring that from the airport to the venue entrances, the NCAA visuals remain intact. In Kansas City, that requires printing new signage to accommodate the 400 members of the press in a portion of the building otherwise used for storage and moving four teams around the building in different ways than typically accomplished.
The March Madness venues don’t make lofty changes to the food service — Tinnen did note her chef will make sure the venue has something unique for each school or region represented — but they do have to eliminate alcohol from the public areas. The venues can serve alcohol in the private hospitality and suites, but only where athletes or students don’t have access. And they cannot reorder alcohol while games are on, so restocking must occur during the middle of the night.
“Of course we would love to serve alcohol,” Tinnen said. “Sure, it hurts (the per cap rate), but I respect the wishes of the NCAA.” She added that it is frustrating to see fans linger outside her building in the entertainment district longer, causing a crush of fans entering the game directly before tip after having already consumed an ample amount of alcohol. “I hate to tell a guest, ‘No, I can’t do this for you,’” she said.
As part of the bid process, the NCAA requires each venue to work with a “host” school or conference. “They are pretty key, they understand the collegiate world,” said Hamnet, who has partnered with the Pac-12 Conference to turn his hockey-first venue into a basketball arena. “They are key in executing (the event) because they understand this world and they live it every day.”
From the logistics of knowing what a basketball team needs coming into a market from landing the plane at the airport to routing through hotels and practice court needs at other sites, the host schools and conferences can help. In Phoenix, for example, Arizona State University handles everything from media operations at the stadium to the scoreboard operation, not to mention having ASU students join with the local organizing committee helping promote and staff ancillary events.
The Sprint Center, which hosts the Big 12 Championship each year, and Madison Square Garden, host to St. John’s basketball and the Big East Championship, have relationships with schools and conferences that have given the buildings years of institutional knowledge on hosting large-scale tournaments.
With a years-long bidding process, months of pre-event planning, weekly phone calls with the NCAA and plenty of pre-game prep, what draws venues to clamor for the right to host the NCAA tournament? It comes down to every venue wanting to host the biggest events available while bolstering building resumes.
“To be the world’s most famous arena, you need to continue to do events like this for the fans, for the people of New York,” Fisher said. “It is important to do high-profile historic events.”
New York and Kansas City both proved that true, selling out their ticket allotments within days. “Kansas City has hosted more NCAA Final Fours than any other city,” Tinnen said. “The Final Four started in Kansas City, and the people of Kansas City really do support college basketball. Really, there is civic pride. There is great basketball to watch and a great city experience. It is an infomercial for not only Kansas City, but the Sprint Center, that we are not out here in the middle of a pasture with hay bales and cows all around us, but we are definitely a city on the move and a fun place to visit.”
In Phoenix, Sadler said the Final Four fulfills a promise. The creation of the Arizona Sports and Tourism Authority came with a promise that Phoenix would host some of the highest profile events possible, such as the College Football Championships (2015), the Super Bowl (2008, 2016) and Final Fours. “So, we are making good on that promise,” he said. Secondly, though, Sadler said the event offers exposure to Arizona as a destination, for people who have never before visited Phoenix, which brings both short- and long-term economic impact.
From New York City to San Jose and Kansas City to Phoenix, venue managers work for months to follow NCAA guidelines, provide clean buildings and prep for basketball for the sake of hosting one of the premier annual sporting events. The prep, they say, pales in comparison to joining a historic event that draws fans from all across the country.


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ASK RUSS
 
Posted: 1 Feb 2017, 8:00 pm

The United States of America has experienced more flooding in 2016 than ever previously recorded.
As I am writing this, I am in Los Angeles where a new “train” of storms is poised to hit Southern California with heavy rain, mountain snow and strong winds this weekend.
And what is going on in L.A this weekend? As you would expect, there are many large-scale events including the LA Travel and Adventure Show at the Los Angeles Convention Center, the UCLA vs. USC Men’s Basketball Game at the Galen Center, the NHL’s Florida Panthers vs. the LA Kings at Staples Center and Blake Shelton in Concert at The Forum.
I reached out to Estella Flores, facility manager at the Los Angeles Convention Center, to get an idea of how they prepare for severe weather.

In light of the severe weather predictions for this coming weekend, what specific actions will you take relating to any potential ponding, drainage and standing water issues?
Our in-house Carpenters, Plumbers and Mechanics complete a general assessment of gutters/drains (both floor & roof) as it relates to impediment factors and/or previously addressed areas of concern. All gutters and drains are cleaned out prior to impending rain. We stage/prepare all of the equipment that we may require in each area for mitigation. We also review staffing levels to ensure adequate coverage during forecasted occurrences. We have a hydro jet available on site to unclog any drains that may become an issue.

What, if any, actions have you taken based on the previous amounts of precipitation in and around your facility?
After a large amount of precipitation, our facility supervisors, carpenters, plumbers and mechanics address any new areas of concern where water has entered the building. New leaks that are found are tagged with a colored sticker to indicate needing repair before the next occurrence.

What will you undertake in collaboration with front of house in anticipation of the rain’s effect on guests from transportation and parking to approach, arrival, entry and movement throughout your facility?
The front of house staff will be briefed on our inclement weather mitigation plan, and our event managers have copies available for their clients if requested. Prior to any rain event, we secure placement of floor mats at each entrance door to the facility, including parking entrances. We also put out umbrella bags at each entrance. We send out the key personnel contact list for the event management and guest services staff that will be working during the inclement weather. Security and Guest Services are stationed throughout the building in an observational role to report any hazards that may be associated with weather conditions.

What additional steps have you taken to prepare for these storms, i.e. additional staff, equipment, resources etc.?
Prior to any inclement weather, all operational, security and guest services staff are briefed during our pre-event line-up on our procedures, and a check of equipment and supply inventory is completed. We also assess the potential need for additional staffing. Water collecting bins/receptacles are placed throughout the facility where leaks have been previously reported, door frames are checked to ensure they are weather stripped and closing properly, and absorbent socks are placed at doorways that have the tendency to be affected by water. Safety equipment such as rain gear is available to any personnel whose duties may be outside of the facility.
 
How do you communicate with event promoters and producers on this kind of situation?”
The Event Manager conveys the information we have along with any immediate concerns with weather and associated conditions. We keep an ongoing dialog with status updates regarding weather and possible impact to our client’s event.

What advice do you have for other facilities facing this kind of impending situation?
Prepare, plan and communicate. Make sure staff understands that flexibility and adaptability is key when responding to these issues.

The Bottom Line
Our response to severe weather situations is in line with most of the things we do successfully, which is plan, communicate, execute and review with an eye to constant improvement.

Russ Simons is...
managing partner, Venue Solutions Group, and has been in this industry for more than three decades, working in arenas, stadiums, design, construction, safety and security. Send questions about any aspect of venue operation to askruss@venuestoday.com or mail questions to Venues Today, P.O. Box 2540, Huntington Beach, CA 92647.


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REIMAGINING THE TICKET LOTTERY
 
Posted: 1 Feb 2017, 8:00 pm

If you were a poor, struggling college student desperate to get your hands on a cheap seat at one of Broadway’s hottest shows in 2013, you had to get up at the crack of dawn, be one of the first 10 to 15 people to show up, and then stand in line and wait five hours for the box office to open to be one of the few daily ‘ticket lottery’ winners.
But that’s so three years ago, an eternity in the ever-expanding mobile ticketing industry. Enter ticket company TodayTix, a three-year-old company that has revolutionized the ticket lottery and the way less-affluent theatergoers get to experience live theater.
The way it works is simple. Instead of standing in line, all the customer has to do is download the TodayTix app, choose a show that has a lottery and enter the lottery for free. If you share a post on any social media platform about the show you want to see you get a second entry for free. About four hours before show time the winners are randomly drawn.
Discounts are indeed deeply cut-rate. In New York City, a digital ticket lottery ticket will run from $20-$30 and in London they will fetch £15-£25. Tickets are delivered to customers either at the box office window or, for Broadway shows, through a TodayTix concierge who waits in front of the theater and hands customers their tickets.
“We launched our first lottery feature almost two years ago,” said TodayTix Co-founder and CEO Merritt Baer. “It started with the Atlantic Theater Company in New York and we quickly brought on The Public Theater (N.Y.), which was the original home of ‘Hamilton.’ Today we have daily lotteries with many, many theaters around the world.”
To date, Baer said that the ticket lottery has had 2.5 million entries. Typically a show will still only sell 10-15 tickets at the ticket lottery price. “Standing in line in front of a theater, in the cold, is history,” said Baer.
The trend toward mobile ticket lotteries has caught on, and Baer said many theaters on Broadway and around the world have versions of a digital lottery system.
Deborah Warren, director of marketing, Center Theater Group, Los Angeles, which oversees three theaters in the market including the Mark Taper Forum and Ahmanson Theatre, has been working with TodayTix for the past year and utilized the ticket lottery for Arthur Miller’s “A View From The Bridge” and the pre-Broadway tryout of the new musical “Amelie”.
“When we launched our 50th anniversary season we wanted to create something that would remind people of our anniversary,” said Warren. “TodayTix put together a program we loved where the lottery tickets were priced at $19.67, which was the year we were founded.”
Center Theatre Group reserved four prime seats in the house for each lottery. They had over 50,000 views on the TodayTix site; 6,000 people entered the lotteries and they got 2,000 shares on social media.
“The lottery worked really well for us,” said Warren. “We really enjoyed the partnership with TodayTix. They really understand theater; they understand our mission and it worked so seamlessly. The box office didn’t need to worry about anything.”
Warren said the theater has a commission arrangement with TodayTix.
TodayTix is also reshaping the way people buy theater tickets, especially the younger theater patrons.
According to TodayTix statistics, 70 percent of theatergoers using the TodayTix app are millennials. While the median age of a typical Broadway theatergoer is 45 years old, the average TodayTix customer is 29 years old. Only seven percent of TodayTix users were older than 55, with the 33-54-year-old age group making up only 23 percent of sales. Baer also said that men are 30 percent more likely than women to buy tickets the same day as the show.
“We like to think of ourselves as the Uber of tickets,” said Baer. “We’re moving unsold tickets, often to a new generation of theatergoers who are a decade younger than the average theater customer.”
“The industry overlooked the mobile ticketing experience for theater patrons for a long time and that’s where we stepped in,” explained Baer. “You download our app; it determines what city you are in; it shows options for that week and you can buy your ticket in 30 seconds or less.”
Tickets on TodayTix can be bought anywhere from the day of a performance to seven days out. “We offer the best ticket price possible,” said Baer. “If a show is not discounting, we sell the ticket at face value. If it is discounting, we sell it at the discounted price. Nineteen percent of Broadway tickets go unsold on a yearly basis. One of our initial goals was to sell that shortfall at insider prices. And we do it in a way that’s easy. Instead of sifting through dozens of discount sites, our customers can look at what shows are available and buy instantly at great prices.”
Another feature of the TodayTix app is ‘Rush Tickets’. To use this component, customers have to share a social media post of the show and, at 10 a.m. every day, a certain number of discounted tickets will be available on a first-come, first-served basis. Once a customer has posted on social media they are eligible for a rush ticket on any day after. The number of tickets available through rush ticketing varies. “It depends on the needs of the show,’ said Baer. “Most have a limited number but some have hundreds.”
Baer started TodayTix with co-founder Brian Fenty three years ago. Today the company is in 10 cities including New York City, London, Chicago and Los Angeles.
It has 2.5 million users and has sold over 1 million tickets. There is a $7.50 fee in New York City and a $5 fee everywhere else. There is also a $5 concierge delivery fee.
Baer said that 30 percent of TodayTix inventory is sold day of a show, 20 percent the day before a performance, and 50 percent on days three through seven prior.
“The world is moving toward mobile ticketing,” he said, “and we’re taking advantage of that opportunity. We’re improving mobile conversions and increase audiences.”
TodayTix has 50-60 employees, mostly in New York City, and offices in New York City and London.
Baer did not disclose the value of his company but did volunteer that it received  $16 million in funding last year and is currently backed by Walden Capital, Tylt, SF Capital and New York City restaurateur Danny Meyer.
“We used the funding for acquiring talent, marketing and making geographic plays,” said Baer. “Expanding geographically is something we’re really excited about. Our ultimate goal is to connect global theater audiences.”


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THE WORLD AT YOUR FINGERTIPS
 
Posted: 1 Feb 2017, 8:00 pm

If you want to see the future of venue ingress, security and ticketing, go to an airport. After 9/11, it became a mandate that every airport in the world ramp up their security procedures and protocols. Top of the list was to identify every single traveler who passed through the screening process. Passports and other identification can be forged or manipulated. So the United States, and many other countries throughout the world, turned to the one thing that can’t be altered — your biometrics, namely fingerprints and iris scans.
With this in mind, the CLEAR program was born. It started in airports. Known travelers can sign up with the company, and for a yearly fee, they can voluntarily turn over their fingerprints and an iris scan and bypass lengthy security lines.
It’s now been introduced in six major sports venues for seven pro teams, including AmericanAirlines Arena, Miami; Marlins Park, Miami, Citi Field and Yankee Stadium, New York City; Coors Field, Denver and AT&T Park, San Francisco.
Caryn Seidman Becker, CEO and founder, CLEAR, pulled the company out from bankruptcy seven years ago. “It was my desire to build a customer-experience company that strengthens security, delights customers and uses biometrics to do it,” she said.
Biometrics can be fingerprints, iris, face and even voice to establish someone’s identity.
“This should be a frictionless and secure experience,” said Seidman Becker. “Since 9/11, the customer experience has been made more difficult and our desire was to ease the difficulty, yet still maintain the same security standards currently being employed.”
Seidman Becker envisions a world where the CLEAR system can be used for security, identity, ticketing and purchasing.
Seidman Becker never believed CLEAR to be just an airport tool. “You can tie so many elements to your biometric identity, thus our platform approach as opposed to a product,” she said. “Once you prove that you are you, the possibilities of CLEAR’s use grow exponentially and it can be used in a variety of different verticals. You can use it for airports; to get into stadiums and to buy things.”
CLEAR can be tied into a credit card. Imagine the beer fast lane at a stadium, suggested Seidman Becker. “Walk up, scan your fingerprint and, because I know you are you, I know your age and I have your credit card associated with it. With the tap of a finger, you can move along in seconds.”
In the venues in which it’s being employed, fans first need to sign up and have their biometrics recorded. Once they are enrolled in the CLEAR system, they enter the venue through a special CLEAR lane where they tap their fingerprints and are given entry.
As of yet, CLEAR is not being used as a paperless ticket, but Seidman Becker said that that component is ready and, just as in an airport, fans will soon be able to bypass the ticket-taker altogether. 
Venues or teams pay CLEAR a licensing fee and it’s free for the venue’s customer, while airport customers pay a yearly fee of $179. CLEAR currently has 750,000 customers and the system has been used over 5 million times.
Venues are a small, but growing, component of CLEAR’s business. This was CLEAR’s first season with five major sports venues and, according to Seidman Becker, “there’s rapid growth in venues. Year over year, comparing 2015 to 2016, lane use was up over 500 percent at venues, while unique users were up almost 300 percent at venues.”
CLEAR is after a great predictable fan experience for entry into the stadium, she said. The next few pieces are to create opportunities for fans to use the system in-venue.
Seidman Becker pointed to a soccer match as a perfect example of where CLEAR is the future. “It’s 90 minutes of play and one short break,” she explained. “Getting people food and beverages quickly and safely is the only way to make money.”
CLEAR can also be used for in-seat ordering. “We’ve all been to a game where someone is passing down their ID and credit card to get a beer delivered. CLEAR eliminates that. The platform will drive fan experience and it is incredibly exciting to leagues, teams and venues.”
While no stadiums are using CLEAR as a payment method yet, Seidman Becker is looking at a 2017 launch for concessions and merchandise to be part of the CLEAR world using biometrics instead of cash. “Concessions come first, tickets come second,” she said.
There’s no major hardware for venues to buy. All that’s needed is an iPad and a little square box. Seidman Becker said currently 80 percent of the CLEAR customers use fingerprints while 20 percent use an iris scan.
She also stressed the safety of the customer’s biometric data. “The integrity of our data is the integrity of our company,” she said. “We use encryption among many other tools to keep our data safe from hackers.”
AmericanAirlines Arena, Miami, has been using CLEAR since 2015. Bryanna Campbell, senior account manager of corporate partnership marketing, said the arena is always looking for new ways to enhance the fan experience and provide a seamless way of entry. “CLEAR has done a great job of activating,” she said. “They activate in the same location for every game which makes it easy for the fans.”
Campbell said fans are able to enroll at every game. She said a significant number of fans are using the service, especially the season ticket holders, many five times a season. CLEAR is also at Marlins Park, Miami, and Campbell said they’ve seen a lot of overlap.
“CLEAR gets its own lane which leads right into where the fan needs to scan their ticket,” she said. “We operate the same way an airport does, they go through CLEAR and then through all the normal security measures.”
Campbell believes it saves the fans time. “It just takes a matter of seconds to be ‘cleared,’” she said. “Depending on the day and time of the game, it can save anywhere from a few minutes to 30 minutes.”
“Sports stadiums are looking a lot more like airports,” said Seidman Becker. “There are lots of interesting lessons to be learned and venues are picking it up pretty quickly. We live in a digital world; we just move the digital information to paper at the moment. We aim to end that; there’s no reason for digital to be turned into analog anymore.”


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THE PRICE IS RIGHT
 
Posted: 1 Feb 2017, 8:00 pm

Dynamic ticket pricing is all about maximizing revenue and filling seats. An empty seat at curtain time is lost revenue. Often people assume that dynamic pricing is all about making the most money from a seat as possible, but dynamic ticketing needs to be taken into context with the strategy of pricing enhancement.
“Revenue enhancement considers many factors in a quest to raise more revenue,” said Jack Rubin, president, Tessitura Network. “We have a completely open API that makes Tessitura a platform for innovation. We have multiple layers of pricing flexibility built into our system.”
Dynamic pricing offers can take many different forms, including:
• Time-based pricing — by monitoring sales and allowing instant seat-rezoning, which permits a venue to move in and out of different price zones at any time.
• Extensive pricing — based on the attributes of the customer, for instance a discount for the fourth event after purchasing three.
• Seat volume pricing — buying multiple tickets.
• Family packages — buying adult tickets and child tickets and getting a discount.
• Add-on changes — buying one product and then buying a similar product.
• Buy-one-get-one — discounted or free subsequent purchases.
• Product-only changes — a discount offered to members of an organization or group. 
“We built into the open API a level of instant customization,” said Rubin. “You see something happening in the shopping cart and you want to intercept that transaction and allow a change to be made on the fly, based on rules you set.”
Rubin said that Tessitura partners with dynamic ticketing companies like Baker Richards and Digonex, among others. “Different firms take different approaches,” he said. “The companies help plan effective strategy including scaling; discounting and subscriptions; forecasting models to create more accurate targets and spotting opportunities early. These are ways to see how to capitalize on peaks in demand to exceed targets and gain customer insight by eliminating customer guesswork.”
For example, Center Theatre Group, Los Angeles, reported over $500,000 on incremental income by using dynamic ticketing. “You don’t have to sell out to raise prices,” said Rubin.
Cincinnati Symphony exceeded targets on subscriber and single-ticket demand by 105 percent, raising prices based on zones, he added.
A majority of Tessitura customers are using dynamic pricing capabilities and roughly 20 percent use one of the partner companies. Rubin loves that dynamic ticketing “stops panic price changes and allows for data to be used to make decisions instead of assumptions.”
“It’s important to understand that the tactics need to be used responsibly,” he said, “so the consumers don’t feel like they are being gouged.”
“Think long term, not per event,” said Rubin. “How the event pricing is marketed is crucial. Advertise that tickets are available from a certain price point and up. Advise customers that there are different tickets at different prices. If done wisely and smartly, you can be fair to the consumers.”
Pitfalls include an organization trying to take maximum advantage. “Don’t play games with availability and inventory,” he said. “Build a long-term relationship with consumers. This is especially important for nonprofits that depend on contributed income. You don’t want to alienate your customer.”
There’s a science to dynamic pricing, he said, and the dynamic ticketing companies employ economists and use analytics based on strategic demands of the clients.
“Every piece of data is available to the venue on buying behavior,” he said.
Chris Pohl, VP of Clients, Digonex, said that at this point most sports have adopted dynamic pricing. “It’s old news in sports but the future is in performing arts centers, museums, zoos and aquariums.”
“People understand from airlines that people pay different prices based on when you buy,” said Pohl. “The idea is to make it simple and easy for the customer and the client. 2017 is going to see a lot of integration of dynamic pricing software.”
Pohl cited a symphony with 10 different shows, 15 different levels and many different venue setups. “When they do a price review, we’re already pulling in the data. All the customer has to do is go to the user interface and accept or reject the recommendations. It’s as simple as pushing the ‘publish’ button.”
Pohl suggests a 24-hour cycle. “We suggest changing price once a day, no more. We look at tomorrow or the next seven days in most cases. We look at weather. Our goal is always to be fully integrated with the ticketing system and know what inside and outside forces are at play.”
Dynamic pricing normally generates five to 20 percent revenue increase, Pohl said. Digonex currently has 15-20 clients including the Indianapolis Zoo and University of Washington. Pohl also said Digonex works with a lot of symphonies and many sports clients.
Digonex works on a varied fee schedule. It can be a flat fee, it can be per ticket or per- ticket cost.
Digonex is majority owned by Emmis Communications. They have about 20 employees and the majority are economists who develop the solutions and the algorithms.
“People think of dynamic ticket pricing differently,” said Keith Goldberg, chief revenue officer, Vendini. “For the airlines it’s every minute. For events it shouldn’t be more than once a day. Most shows are about changing it after analysis.”
“Automated services make suggestions, but it’s up to the person at the venue to decide which suggestions to go with,” he said. “People change ticket prices all the time for all different reasons. Why and when need to be more sophisticated than just looking at sales and jumping into panic selling.”
The idea is to maximize revenue, he said. An empty seat that goes unsold is zero revenue. It’s not just moving the price up. You need to look at external forces like bad weather or if there’s something else in town going on. An empty seat is lost revenue.
Venues have been dynamically pricing for years now and don’t even know it, he added, citing couponing. And attractions often offer tickets cheaper if you buy in advance.
“The future of dynamic pricing is by type of patron, not time,” predicts Goldberg. “We can target discount offers in the future for regular customers. We need the data to do this; dynamic pricing is data driven.”


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REBUILT PIECE BY PIECE
 
Posted: 1 Feb 2017, 8:00 pm

Kentucky International Exposition Center, Louisville, is getting a $207-million makeover.
“It’s going to aesthetically be a brand new building,” said Jason Rittenberry, president and CEO, Kentucky Sate Fair Board, which manages the current and future convention center. “It’s going to be a full remodel, and although it’s being built on the bones of the old building, it will be like having a completely new venue.”
Plans call for an increase in class-A space to 245,000-sq.-ft., which is significantly more space than the 165,000 sq. ft. the old building offered and will turn the aging venue into one of the biggest in the region.
The makeover will provide Kentucky International Exposition Center with new ballrooms, new meeting rooms, LED signage and all new technology.
Although still in the design stage, Rittenberry is confident that, “IT and technology will be state-of-the-art. We’re going to have a full grid and connectivity through WiFi that will rival anything our competitors offer.”
Demolition of the current Kentucky International Exposition Center started in August. “We’re on track, and on time, and right in the timeline of where the contractors expected us to be at this stage,” he said. “Currently we have most of the exterior walls down. We’re working on the interior now and the new convention center is scheduled to open in June 2018.”
The renovation of the convention center is a green project. This means 80 percent of the building materials being used to reconstruct the convention center are removed and recycled. “This slows the process down,” explained Rittenberry. “The steel is being taken out piece by piece. The concrete and glass are taken out and separated.”
Rittenberry believes that once they are through the demolition stage and the laborious recycling of the materials phase and get to the rebuilding and construction phase, “the project will sail along fairly quickly.”
Rittenberry is looking for sponsors for several areas of the building including the technology center, a technology theater, and the two parking structures. Kentucky International Exposition Center is currently talking to local businesses about branding opportunities in the grand lobby.
Funding of the renovation is coming from public money, primarily from a new bed-tax on hotel rooms. “There are several major hotels opening in the area including a new Omni Hotel,” said Rittenberry. “The increase of 3,000 hotel rooms downtown and the increase of the space in the convention center will really elevate Louisville and allow us to compete for pieces of business we would not have been able to compete for had we not developed our downtown.”
“We believe the modernization will put us on par with the newer convention centers being opened today,” added Rittenberry. — Brad Weissberg


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CLASSIC VENUES GET UPGRADES
 
Posted: 1 Feb 2017, 8:00 pm

Kentucky and Tennessee venues had a down year overall, but there were several bright spots. The general consensus was that competition from new venues was making attracting talent and events difficult, especially for the older venues. Reported concert and event grosses from the top 10 Top Stops on Venues Today’s yearly chart for the two states are down slightly over 10 percent; going from $86 million down to $78 million year over year.
Jason Rittenberry, president & CEO, Kentucky State Fair Board, which oversees several Kentucky venues including Freedom Hall, Louisville, Ky., said he bucked the trend and the venue was up almost 30 percent.
“Primarily the bump was from strong in-house shows such as Feld shows like Monster Jam and Arenacross and USA BMX,” said Rittenberry.
Tickets ranged from $25-$55. There were no VIP programs associated with the events, but Rittenberry, who just completed his first 100 days in his post, said one of his goals is to implement new premium options.
“We have the area and the space and we need to get some capital and make the investment to develop a lounge,” he said.
Freedom Hall is in the process of evaluating the facility and looking to make large capital improvements, including replacing the stadium seats, making Green Room renovations and adding a new center-hung scoreboard. Rittenberry is planning on a $10 million-$12 million budget for the improvements. The yearly budget for all the properties is $40 million.
Rittenberry said he was working with Freedom Hall’s food provider, Levy Restaurants, to ramp up the food and beverage offerings using local offerings with local flair. “We want to tie the food into what’s Kentucky, what’s Louisville, and find out what are the specialty items that will please this marketplace.”
Mostly, Rittenberry hopes to “bring back the Freedom Hall brand. Freedom Hall saw new competition from new venues in the area and lost a lot of business. I intend to get that business back and find our niche in the market.”
Brent Hyams, chief operating officer, Tennessee Performing Arts Center (TPAC) and War Memorial Auditorium, Nashville, Tenn., said, “TPAC’s fiscal year 2015-16 performed really well, so it’s going to be a hard one to beat. Seven months into this season we’ve seen a slightly lower response to Broadway subscription tickets, but very strong single ticket sales at TPAC, which offsets the drop in season ticket sales.”
The War Memorial Auditorium (WMA) also had a really strong 2015-16 and helped contribute more than a $72 million economic impact. “We haven’t booked as many concerts for the first half of the year as we had hoped to, but most all of the shows performed really well,” he said. “Weddings, rental clients, and state events keep us very busy at WMA.” 
Top shows at TPAC included “Evita” and “The Book of Mormon.” Top performers at  WMA were Willie Nelson and Friends, Chevelle with the Dead Deads and AEGES.
Hyams mentioned intense competition from nearby venues. “The popularity of Nashville has also brought even more competition for artists and acts,” he said. “There is an abundance of entertainment options in ‘Music City.’ We don’t see this changing anytime soon.”
Tickets at TPAC and WMA range from $25 to $90 plus. The yearly budget was $19 million for 2015-16 and $18 million for 2016-17.
Hyams was especially pleased with the performance of a new point of sale (POS) system. “This, plus some newly implemented thinking, has helped increase our revenues by approximately 50 percent,” he said.
Improvements this year include an update to the 1,075- seat James K. Polk Theater, with new carpet, aisle lighting and new handrails. The capital improvement budget was over $200,000.
The War Memorial Auditorium will install an in-house JBL sound system and a new Martin lighting system.
Hyams also said that TPAC is adding a sixth arts-in-education program under the TPAC education umbrella and a partnership with Lipscomb University’s College of Entertainment & the Arts to implement and expand the university’s Nashville High School Musical Theatre Awards, now nicknamed “The Spotlight Awards.”
Bill Owen, president & CEO, Lexington (Ky.) Center, which runs the 23,000-seat Rupp Arena, described the $15 million upgrade to Rupp Arena that began in 2015. “We installed LED ribbon fascia on the upper part of the arena, replaced the 40-year-old sound system with an acoustic system, added a new center-hung scoreboard, extended the rigging grid with support steel to accommodate all the extra weight from the new systems and added new WiFi capabilities,” said Owens.
Work went from June 2016 through September 2016, and Rupp Arena was closed through most of that time, which affected their revenue for the year.
Despite the closing, it was a record revenue year for Lexington Center, and Owen felt that, “there’s a cycle that goes on every few years where artists only want to play outdoors.”
The annual operating budget for the venues was $18 million. Tickets range from $75-$145.
Owen said the arena was having success with an express lane for getting the fans in. “If they have no bag, we tried a fast lane that really helped speed up the process,” he said.
He also discussed the trend toward paperless tickets which brings with it fans showing up with fraudulent secondary tickets. “Paperless ticketing is great, but some people scan the barcodes and print multiple tickets and sell them. The first barcode in is the only one that works. We see this only getting worse.”
“We’re going to wind up with 24 shows for the year which is pretty good for this marketplace,” said Dennis Petrullo, GM, KFC Yum! Center, Louisville, Ky.
Top grossing shows included Madonna, Garth Brooks, Bruce Springsteen, Blake Shelton and Carrie Underwood. “It was a strong year,” he said, “And that’s with a Kanye West cancellation.”
Ticket prices ranged from $60-$120, with the bigger stars getting $250.
The building has four different lounges for beverages, and they started bringing in a DJ to play before the shows and at intermission. “It’s been a big hit and people love it,” said Petrullo.
KFC Yum! Center is currently looking at capital improvements such as replacing existing equipment, furnishing and carpeting. “Our building is seven years old and it’s time to freshen things up,” he said.
Although 2016 was flat for the venue, Petrullo anticipates “a banner 2017.”


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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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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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Shared activities make experiences more intense
 
Posted: 16 Oct 2014, 2:57 pm
Here?s some scientific support on the value of live experiences.

Read the full article

............................................................



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.

Read the full article

............................................................



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.

Read the full article

............................................................



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.

Read the full article

............................................................



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.

Read the full article

............................................................



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.

Read the full article

............................................................



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.

Read the full article

............................................................



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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............................................................



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.

Read the full article

............................................................



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.

Read the full article

............................................................



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.

Read the full article

............................................................



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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............................................................



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.

Read the full article

............................................................



Yarra, Australia, creates venue soundproofing fund
 
Posted: 16 Oct 2014, 2:57 pm
The city house 500 venues, 50 of them live music venues.

Read the full article

............................................................



Cookie-cutter conference centers are a thing of the past
 
Posted: 30 Apr 2014, 8:00 pm

Today's conference centers are more about standing out than fitting in.

More...


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............................................................



Five U.S. convention center highlights
 
Posted: 31 Mar 2014, 8:00 pm

A look at major convention center projects in Green Bay,  King of Prussia, New York, San Antonio and San Diego.

More...


Read the full article

............................................................



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.

More...


Read the full article

............................................................



Convention centers adapt to tradeshows of today
 
Posted: 31 Mar 2014, 8:00 pm

Modern convention centers are about experience as much as setting.

More...


Read the full article

............................................................



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.

More...


Read the full article

............................................................



State College, Pennsylvania, is a happening, business-savvy hub
 
Posted: 27 Oct 2013, 8:00 pm

State College, home to Pennsylvania State University, welcomes groups with its vibrant ambiance and excellent on-campus (and off-site) facilities.

More...


Read the full article

............................................................



A Q&A with Mark Cooper, new CEO of the International Association of Conference Centres
 
Posted: 24 Apr 2013, 8:00 pm
IACC's new CEO shares his insights on the events industry

More...


Read the full article

............................................................



A quick take on recent openings and upgrades in the world of conference centers
 
Posted: 24 Apr 2013, 8:00 pm

More...


Read the full article

............................................................



Areas of Study
 
Posted: 17 Feb 2013, 7:00 pm
University meetings think outside of the classroom

More...


Read the full article

............................................................



Get Smart
 
Posted: 17 Feb 2013, 7:00 pm
On the fence about booking a college venue? These benefits might convince you.

More...


Read the full article

............................................................



School Spirit
 
Posted: 17 Feb 2013, 7:00 pm
College stadiums and arenas are a classic choice for large groups

More...


Read the full article

............................................................



Billboard.biz Has Moved! Here's How to Get to Our New Site
 
Posted: 26 Jan 2013, 4:00 pm
On Saturday, January 26, Billboard.biz took a bold step forward in its evolution: Along with Billboard’s fully revamped magazine, newly launched iPad app and the relaunched Billboard.com, the all-new Billboard.biz has exciting new features and functionalities that will allow us to lead the essential conversations around the music business and its community in better and bigger ways than ever before. But we've moved servers -- here are details on where to find us while until our migration is complete.

Read the full article

............................................................



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.

Read the full article

............................................................



Exclusive: HSN Partners With Las Vegas' Venetian On Concert Series
 
Posted: 25 Jan 2013, 3:33 pm
HSN is taking its Live music division on the road with a Las Vegas residency at the Venetial Resort Hotel Casino.The series kicks off Feb. 8 with Michael Bolton, who will debut his new studio album, "Ain’t No Mountain High Enough: A Tribute to Hitsville U.S.A." with Motown greats Smokey Robinson, Valerie Simpson and Martha Reeves as well as Kelly Rowland and Melanie Fiona

Read the full article

............................................................



Exclusive: HSN Partners With Las Vegas' Venetian On Concert Series
 
Posted: 25 Jan 2013, 3:33 pm
HSN is taking its Live music division on the road with a Las Vegas residency at the Venetial Resort Hotel Casino.The series kicks off Feb. 8 with Michael Bolton, who will debut his new studio album, "Ain’t No Mountain High Enough: A Tribute to Hitsville U.S.A." with Motown greats Smokey Robinson, Valerie Simpson and Martha Reeves as well as Kelly Rowland and Melanie Fiona

Read the full article

............................................................



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.

Read the full article

............................................................



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.

Read the full article

............................................................



Exclusive: Flaming Lips to Star in Hyundai Super Bowl Commercial
 
Posted: 24 Jan 2013, 4:32 pm
When the Flaming Lips formed nearly 30 years ago, the notion that the group would be performing a song called "Sun Blows Up Today" in a Super Bowl ad would have been as surreal some of their lyrics. But that's exactly what will happen when the group stars in one of Hyundai's four spots during the big game,  a 60-second commercial that will feature the band on-camera performing a brand-new, custom-written song bearing that name.

Read the full article

............................................................



Exclusive: Flaming Lips to Star in Hyundai Super Bowl Commercial
 
Posted: 24 Jan 2013, 4:32 pm
When the Flaming Lips formed nearly 30 years ago, the notion that the group would be performing a song called "Sun Blows Up Today" in a Super Bowl ad would have been as surreal some of their lyrics. But that's exactly what will happen when the group stars in one of Hyundai's four spots during the big game,  a 60-second commercial that will feature the band on-camera performing a brand-new, custom-written song bearing that name.

Read the full article

............................................................



Pepsi, Vevo to Spotlight Best New Artists, 'X Factor' Winner Tate Stevens During Grammys
 
Posted: 24 Jan 2013, 12:54 pm
Pepsi has announced collaborations with Pandora and Vevo for the Grammy Awards. With Vevo, Pepsi will produce a video series based around the Best New Artists nominees; and with Pandora the company will curate a Best New Artist mixtape as well as genre stations.

Read the full article

............................................................



Mnet America Hosting Grammy-Week Party With K-Pop Star Ailee
 
Posted: 24 Jan 2013, 9:43 am
Billboard can exclusively reveal when, where and who will be at Mnet America's 1st Annual Pre-Grammy Party featuring a K-pop starlet, YouTube sensation and "The Voice" contestants.

Read the full article

............................................................



13 Points to Watch at MIDEM 2013
 
Posted: 24 Jan 2013, 8:00 am
As the world's largest trade fair for the music industry, MIDEM can be daunting to navigate. Last year's gathering drew more than 6,850 attendees from 77 countries, representing 3,120 companies, including 155 startups. So, how best to manage MIDEM?

Read the full article

............................................................



13 Points to Watch at MIDEM 2013
 
Posted: 24 Jan 2013, 8:00 am
As the world's largest trade fair for the music industry, MIDEM can be daunting to navigate. Last year's gathering drew more than 6,850 attendees from 77 countries, representing 3,120 companies, including 155 startups. So, how best to manage MIDEM?

Read the full article

............................................................



13 Points to Watch at MIDEM 2013
 
Posted: 24 Jan 2013, 8:00 am
As the world's largest trade fair for the music industry, MIDEM can be daunting to navigate. Last year's gathering drew more than 6,850 attendees from 77 countries, representing 3,120 companies, including 155 startups. So, how best to manage MIDEM?

Read the full article

............................................................



Downtown Sells Label to Cofounders, Focuses on Publishing
 
Posted: 24 Jan 2013, 7:00 am
Downtown Music LLC, the privately held parent company of Downtown Records and Downtown Music Publishing, today announced the sale of its recorded music business to cofounders Josh Deutsch and Terence Lam.

Read the full article

............................................................



Justin Timberlake Sets Live Return for Super Bowl Charity Show
 
Posted: 23 Jan 2013, 6:54 pm
Less than one month after the singer-turned-actor exploded back onto the music scene with "Suit & Tie," featuring Jay-Z, Timberlake will perform his first solo concert in several years during Super Bowl weekend.

Read the full article

............................................................



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.

Read the full article

............................................................



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.

Read the full article

............................................................



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.

Read the full article

............................................................



Ultra Music and Sony Announce Partnership, Patrick Moxey Named President of Electronic Music
 
Posted: 23 Jan 2013, 3:48 pm
Sony Music and Ultra Music -- the electronic/dance record label, publishing house, management company and media platform owned and operated by Patrick Moxey -- have announced a globe-spanning strategic partnership between the two companies. As part of the deal Moxey was named president of electronic music for Sony Music Worldwide.

Read the full article

............................................................



Ultra Music and Sony Announce Partnership, Patrick Moxey Named President of Electronic Music
 
Posted: 23 Jan 2013, 3:48 pm
Sony Music and Ultra Music -- the electronic/dance record label, publishing house, management company and media platform owned and operated by Patrick Moxey -- have announced a globe-spanning strategic partnership between the two companies. As part of the deal Moxey was named president of electronic music for Sony Music Worldwide.

Read the full article

............................................................



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.

Read the full article

............................................................



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...

Read the full article

............................................................



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.

Read the full article

............................................................



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.  

Read the full article

............................................................



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!

Read the full article

............................................................



Exclusive: Lionel Richie Signs With Red Light Management
 
Posted: 22 Jan 2013, 3:08 pm
Legendary hit maker Lionel Richie has signed with Red Light Management for representation, Billboard.biz has learned. This is the second major signing of the young year for RLM, which recently added Tiesto to its growing list of clients.

Read the full article

............................................................



Exclusive: Lionel Richie Signs With Red Light Management
 
Posted: 22 Jan 2013, 3:08 pm
Legendary hit maker Lionel Richie has signed with Red Light Management for representation, Billboard.biz has learned. This is the second major signing of the young year for RLM, which recently added Tiesto to its growing list of clients.

Read the full article

............................................................



Exclusive: Kobalt Launches Label Services Division, Preps New Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds Release
 
Posted: 22 Jan 2013, 2:07 pm
Not only did Kobalt sign a deal with Dave Grohl this week ( the company is also formally introducing a new Label Services division that will handle digital and physical releases for independent artists as well as Kobalt clients. Though the division has quietly released several albums in recent months, it will gain major attention next month with the release of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds’ “Push the Sky Away,” due out Feb. 18 through Kobalt Label Services  and Cave’s Bad Seed Ltd.

Read the full article

............................................................



Clive Davis To Speak At SXSW
 
Posted: 22 Jan 2013, 12:34 pm
Clive Davis will speak at South by Southwest (SXSW) Music and Media Conference and Festival on Thursday March 14, the festival announced today. His speech comes shortly after the release of his new autobiography “The Soundtrack of My Life.”

Read the full article

............................................................



Live Nation Strikes Deal to Host Concerts at London Olympic Stadium
 
Posted: 22 Jan 2013, 11:00 am
Live events giant Live Nation has struck a deal that gives it exclusive rights to organize concerts and music festivals in the British capital's Olympic Park and Olympic Stadium this summer.

Read the full article

............................................................



Two Voices of the Rolling Stones Meet for the First Time at Sundance Screening
 
Posted: 22 Jan 2013, 10:32 am
Lisa Fischer has sung female lead parts for the Rolling Stones on every tour since 1989, but it wasn't until film director Morgan Neville assembled a meeting of backup singers at Sundance that Fischer and Merry Clayton, a crucial vocalist in the music of Mick Jagger and the boys, would be in the same room together.

Read the full article

............................................................



Welcome to the New Billboard
 
Posted: 21 Jan 2013, 7:00 pm
The Jan. 26 edition of Billboard features a cover-story interview with Prince, but that world exclusive is accompanied by something else: A whole new magazine. This week, Billboard relaunches, and from the new logo on the front cover to the information packed graphic on the back page, the magazine is dedicated to the delivery of business journalism that leads and informs the essential conversations around the music and businesses it covers.

Read the full article

............................................................



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.

Read the full article

............................................................



Warner Music, NMPA Reach Agreement on Royalty Rate for Music Videos
 
Posted: 21 Jan 2013, 2:43 pm
The Warner Music Group has become the second major label to agree to pay songwriters and publishers a royalty from revenue they derive from music videos, in a deal negotiated by the National Music Publishers' Association.

Read the full article

............................................................



Tim Leiweke on AEG Sale: 'We're Getting Down to the Final Straws'
 
Posted: 21 Jan 2013, 2:42 pm
The sale of Anschutz Entertainment Group is “taking longer” than expected, AEG CEO, Tim Leiweke told Billboard.biz, but not due to lack of interest. While Leiweke declined to mention who the serious bidders were, he did indicate that the field has narrowed.  “We’re getting down to the final straws here,” he said.

Read the full article

............................................................



Tim Leiweke on AEG Sale: 'We're Getting Down to the Final Straws'
 
Posted: 21 Jan 2013, 2:42 pm
The sale of Anschutz Entertainment Group is “taking longer” than expected, AEG CEO, Tim Leiweke told Billboard.biz, but not due to lack of interest. While Leiweke declined to mention who the serious bidders were, he did indicate that the field has narrowed.  “We’re getting down to the final straws here,” he said.

Read the full article

............................................................



'Pussy Riot - A Punk Prayer,' 'Twenty Feet From Stardom' Sell At Sundance
 
Posted: 21 Jan 2013, 6:17 am
Add “Pussy Riot — A Punk Prayer” to the growing music-centric documentaries sold at the Sundance Film Festival. HBO Docs acquired U.S. TV rights to the political documentary that received its world premiere Jan. 18. "Twenty Feet From Stardom," which tells the stories of several prominent backup singers, sold on Thursday to Radius and the Weinstein Co.

Read the full article

............................................................



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.

Read the full article

............................................................



Dave Grohl's Sound City Players Tear It Up at Sundance
 
Posted: 19 Jan 2013, 2:05 pm
Hours after his "Sound City" documentary premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, Dave Grohl took 800 fans on a three-hour musical odyssey at Park City Live that emphasized his personal connection to the Van Nuys, Calif., recording studio his film chronicles.

Read the full article

............................................................



Obama Inauguration Music Guide: Katy Perry to Q-Tip
 
Posted: 19 Jan 2013, 1:41 pm
Just as Barack Obama's 2009 inauguration drew stars from Beyonce to Aretha Franklin, the president's re-election has led to another can't-miss week for music fans. We've hiked through Capital Hill's extensive inauguration schedule to bring you a list of the week's biggest balls.

Read the full article

............................................................



Sony/ATV's Martin Bandier on New, 'Quite Reasonable' Pandora Deal
 
Posted: 18 Jan 2013, 7:00 pm
Sony/ATV pulled a major coup earlier this week by negotiating a higher royalty rate from Pandora. Chairman/CEO Martin Bandier spoke with Billboard.biz about the deal.

Read the full article

............................................................



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.

Read the full article

............................................................



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.

Read the full article

............................................................



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.

Read the full article

............................................................



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.

Read the full article

............................................................



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.

Read the full article

............................................................



CD Baby Parent Company AVL Digital Group Sold
 
Posted: 18 Jan 2013, 10:44 am
AVL Digital Group -- the parent company of CD Baby, Disc Makers and other self-publishing platforms -- has been sold to Stephens Capital Partners, a private equity group based in Little Rock, Arkansas, Billboard.biz has learned.

Read the full article

............................................................



NARM Names Muve Music's Jeff Toig, Dimple Records' Dilyn Radakovitz to Board
 
Posted: 18 Jan 2013, 10:34 am
Muve Music senior VP Jeff Toig and Dimple Records founder and owner Dilyn Radakovitz have joined the board of directors of both NARM, the music business trade association, and digitalmusic.org, its digital initiatives arm.

Read the full article

............................................................



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.

Read the full article

............................................................



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.

Read the full article

............................................................



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.

Read the full article

............................................................



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.

Read the full article

............................................................



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.

Read the full article

............................................................



Dave Grohl, Avicii and Afrojack: A Promoter's Approach to Booking Music at Sundance
 
Posted: 17 Jan 2013, 10:31 am
Park City Live is the only regularly operating nightclub in Park City, Utah, home of the Sundance Film Festival running Jan. 17-27, which will enter its second year of operation as a concert venue the day the festival begins. Here, Park City Live CEO Kathryn Burns talks about her first year promoting the venue.

Read the full article

............................................................



Dave Grohl, Avicii and Afrojack: A Promoter's Approach to Booking Music at Sundance
 
Posted: 17 Jan 2013, 10:31 am
Park City Live is the only regularly operating nightclub in Park City, Utah, home of the Sundance Film Festival running Jan. 17-27, which will enter its second year of operation as a concert venue the day the festival begins. Here, Park City Live CEO Kathryn Burns talks about her first year promoting the venue.

Read the full article

............................................................



Dave Grohl, Avicii and Afrojack: A Promoter's Approach to Booking Music at Sundance
 
Posted: 17 Jan 2013, 10:31 am
Park City Live is the only regularly operating nightclub in Park City, Utah, home of the Sundance Film Festival running Jan. 17-27, which will enter its second year of operation as a concert venue the day the festival begins. Here, Park City Live CEO Kathryn Burns talks about her first year promoting the venue.

Read the full article

............................................................



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.

Read the full article

............................................................



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.

Read the full article

............................................................



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.

Read the full article

............................................................



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.

Read the full article

............................................................



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.

Read the full article

............................................................



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

Read the full article

............................................................



Lucian Grainge, Michael Lynton, will.i.am to Co-Host Inaugural Innovation Summit
 
Posted: 16 Jan 2013, 1:30 pm
Innovation Forum, an inaugural summit of business leaders from the U.S. and U.K., will come together Feb. 4-5 in Los Angeles, kicking off 2013 Grammy week. UMG Chairman & CEO Lucian Grainge, Sony Ent. CEO Michael Lynton, Ari Emanuel, co-CEO of WME, and musician will.i.am will co-host the event co-sponsored by the Founder's Forum and UK Trade & Investment.

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Sony Music Boosts Digital Team With Ole Obermann and Mark Piibe
 
Posted: 16 Jan 2013, 10:29 am
In a statement today from Sony Music Entertainment's president of global digital business and U.S. sales Dennis Kooker, the company announced the creation and appointment of two new, digitally focused positions; current Sony Music executive Ole Obermann has been named executive vice president, digital partner development and sales, while Mark Piibe will be leaving EMI to take on the role of executive vice president, global business development and digital strategy.

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Next Big Sound's 2012 State of Online Music
 
Posted: 15 Jan 2013, 6:29 pm
Next Big Sound, the data analytics company, has released their 2012 State of Online Music report. Below is an outline of the report's key takeaways by Big Sound's data journalist Liv Buli.  

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Business Matters: Relaunched Myspace Is a Success as Music Service -- But As a Social Network? We'll See ...
 
Posted: 15 Jan 2013, 5:35 pm
The redesigned Myspace finally opened up to the public today. The site, a year and a half in the works, is both a social network and a music discovery destination.

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Justin Timberlake's 'Suit & Tie' Aiming for First-Week Sales of 350,000
 
Posted: 15 Jan 2013, 4:44 pm
As reported yesterday (Jan. 14), Justin Timberlake's new single "Suit & Tie" is selling briskly and bound for a big first-week sales figure; label sources suggest that "Suit & Tie" may sell around 330,000 - 350,000 downloads by the end of the tracking week on Sunday, Jan. 20.

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Arts & Crafts Label Announces Ten-Year Anniversary Events
 
Posted: 15 Jan 2013, 2:16 pm
Toronto indie label Arts & Crafts, which helped spawn the careers of Feist and Broken Social Scene among others, is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year with AC10, a series of events, releases and collaborations in music, fashion, photography and literature.

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Facebook Unveils Social Search Feature
 
Posted: 15 Jan 2013, 1:50 pm
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has unveiled a new search feature on the world's biggest online social network. Called "graph search," the new service lets users search their social connections for information about people, interests, photos and places.

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Universal Music France President Pascal Negre Named UMG's Global Head of New Business
 
Posted: 15 Jan 2013, 12:15 pm
Pascal Nègre, president at Universal Music France, Italy, Middle East and Africa, has been promoted to UMG's global head of new business, according to a press release.

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Billboard's Parent Company Names Ross Levinsohn CEO
 
Posted: 15 Jan 2013, 10:41 am
Billboard's parent company has a new leader: Former Yahoo and Fox Interactive Media executive Ross Levinsohn.

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Morning Fix: UMJ's Koike to Head EMI Japan; Justin Timberlake Single's Fast Start; Facebook's Mystery Announcement
 
Posted: 15 Jan 2013, 8:30 am
In today's Fix: Universal Music Japan CEO Kazuhiko Koike to head up EMI Japan; Justin Timberlake's long-awaited single "Suit and Tie" gets off to a fast start; today's Facebook mystery announcement; UK's HMV facing bankruptcy; Rolling Stones lead Hot Tours; Greg Sandoval leaving CNET; Arts & Crafts' tenth anniversary; Country Music Association is going to Disneyland Paris; and way more than you could ever fit into the world's largest bagel.  

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Universal Music Japan's Kazuhiko Koike To Head EMI Japan
 
Posted: 15 Jan 2013, 8:07 am
Universal Music Japan today announced that its President and CEO Kazuhiko Koike will assume on the role of president/CEO of EMI Music Japan as well, replacing longtime CEO Hitoshi Namekata.

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Warner Music Sued for Millions by George Gershwin Heirs
 
Posted: 14 Jan 2013, 8:39 pm
A new lawsuit objects to the way that the music giant has licensed famous compositions and booked revenue.

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Greg Sandoval, Senior CNET Writer, Resigns Over CBS Controversy
 
Posted: 14 Jan 2013, 12:39 pm
CNET editor Greg Sandoval told Twitter earlier today that he's quitting the venerable tech news site over parent company CBS's apparent demand that the publication drop Dish Network's ad-skipping Hopper feature from consideration for its "Best of CES" awards.

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Indie Band Love in the Circus Explores 3D Imaging at CES
 
Posted: 14 Jan 2013, 12:14 pm
Music can be as much about the visuals as it is about the sound. Among the more intriguing demonstrations of this at this year's Consumer Electronics Show was a video display in the Sony booth from an independent band called Love in the Circus; the Los Angeles based band used projection imaging to create a live stage that evokes a Cirque du Soleil-esque setting, wrapping custom animations around a physical stage set.

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Indie Band Love in the Circus Explores 3D Imaging at CES
 
Posted: 14 Jan 2013, 12:14 pm
Music can be as much about the visuals as it is about the sound. Among the more intriguing demonstrations of this at this year's Consumer Electronics Show was a video display in the Sony booth from an independent band called Love in the Circus; the Los Angeles based band used projection imaging to create a live stage that evokes a Cirque du Soleil-esque setting, wrapping custom animations around a physical stage set.

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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

More...


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Final Bow
 
Posted: 28 Mar 2012, 8:00 pm

More...


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IACC Makes Global Push; Criteria to 'Evolve'
 
Posted: 21 Mar 2012, 8:00 pm

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Convention Center Coming to Provo
 
Posted: 25 Jan 2012, 7:00 pm

More...


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Gambling Headed for Hawaii Conv. Center?
 
Posted: 24 Jan 2012, 7:00 pm

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Anaheim Conv. Center Plans Expansion
 
Posted: 23 Jan 2012, 7:00 pm

More...


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A Duo of Conv. Centers Launches Free Wi-Fi
 
Posted: 23 Jan 2012, 7:00 pm

More...


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IACC Board Sets New Service Standards
 
Posted: 30 Nov 2011, 7:00 pm

More...


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APEC Under Way in Honolulu
 
Posted: 8 Nov 2011, 7:00 pm

More...


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Beyond the Box
 
Posted: 24 Oct 2011, 8:00 pm
Expanding convention centers are addressing new planner expectations

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Association Meetings 3.0
 
Posted: 16 Sep 2011, 5:10 pm
What does the association meeting of tomorrow look like and how can you prepare to provide your members with the type of meetings they need? A presenter at ASAE's 2011 Annual Meeting & Expo provides her expert glimpse into the future.

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Rethinking Sponsorships in the Age of Social Media
 
Posted: 16 Sep 2011, 4:56 pm
Technology is changing our lives in seemingly countless ways, including association event sponsorships. Find out what a leading event software expert believes are the best ways to make the most of sponsorships in the age of social media.

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What You Need to Know About Simultaneous Interpretation
 
Posted: 16 Sep 2011, 4:54 pm
As more associations venture overseas, simultaneous interpretation is more important than ever. Two experts who have conducted events around the globe share their insights.

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Reduce Expenses for Meetings of Any Size
 
Posted: 16 Sep 2011, 4:51 pm
Even the largest associations sometimes have meetings that don't represent a lot of room nights, which can reduce your ability to negotiate with the host hotel. Here are nine tips to help you get the best deal for your next meeting, no matter how many attendees you have.

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Strategic Meeting Planning
 
Posted: 6 Jul 2011, 11:00 am
We use strategic planning in our everyday lives but often get too caught up in all the details to apply it effectively during the meeting planning process. Discover how to be truly strategic the next time you're planning an important meeting.

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New Models for Successful Convention Strategy
 
Posted: 6 Jul 2011, 10:56 am
There's more to meetings than good content and a nice location. An ASAE Fellow and association business strategy consultant shares his views on factors such as information needs, competing resources, and strategic barriers that impact attendance at association conventions and tradeshows.

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Post-Recession Economy Requires New Guidelines for Association Events
 
Posted: 6 Jul 2011, 10:53 am
Association events are making a comeback following the deep recession, but everyone remains sensitive to appearing too extravagant and expensive. Here's a process for determining what's appropriate for your next events.

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Increase Exhibitor Engagement Without Increasing Your Budget
 
Posted: 6 Jul 2011, 10:49 am
Every association tradeshow is under pressure to increase traffic, but at what cost? Follow these strategies for increasing traffic and enhancing exhibitor loyalty without busting your budget.

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Letter From the Chair: ME Section Contributes to "199 Ideas" for Planners
 
Posted: 6 Jul 2011, 10:47 am
The Meetings & Expositions Section Council chair discusses the debut of an exciting new resource for association planners, provides a glimpse of the upcoming Annual Meeting & Exposition, and lends his perspective on the value of associations to society.

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Tips to Make Transportation at Your Conference Greener
 
Posted: 9 May 2011, 10:09 am
Greening meetings has come a long way in recent years, but you can take it to the next level with a little strategy and a lot of enthusiasm. Learn how to get your group actively involved in being a deeper shade of green.

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University Venues
 
Posted: 30 Apr 2011, 8:00 pm
Collegiate athletic venues are ideal for team building and spectator fun

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Convention Centers
 
Posted: 28 Feb 2011, 7:00 pm
Beyond the Box

More...


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Conference 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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On Location - Convention Centers
 
Posted: 31 May 2010, 8:00 pm

More...


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University Venues
 
Posted: 30 Apr 2010, 8:00 pm
Campus Culture

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Conference Centers
 
Posted: 31 Mar 2010, 8:00 pm

After a tough year, conference centers see better times ahead

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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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Convention Centers
 
Posted: 28 Feb 2010, 7:00 pm
Convention center cuisine is no longer an oxymoron

More...


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Dancing with Gorillas
 
Posted: 31 Oct 2009, 8:00 pm
Convention center contracts put meeting planners' negotiating skills to the test

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A Class Act
 
Posted: 30 Apr 2009, 8:00 pm

More...


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University Venues
 
Posted: 28 Feb 2009, 7:00 pm

More...


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Conference Centers
 
Posted: 31 Jan 2009, 7:00 pm

More...


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Conference Centers
 
Posted: 31 Jan 2009, 7:00 pm
Conference Call

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Conference Centers
 
Posted: 31 Jan 2009, 7:00 pm

More...


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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

More...


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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

More...


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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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Better by Design
 
Posted: 31 Oct 2007, 8:00 pm

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Better by Design
 
Posted: 31 Mar 2007, 8:00 pm

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Better by Design
 
Posted: 31 Mar 2007, 8:00 pm

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