Terrorism Hits Outside Manchester Arena
Posted: 23 May 2017, 1:00 pm

A U.K. Police Officer comforts a young girl outside Manchester (U.K.) Arena after a terror attack outside the venue last night.

Amid the pink balloons and ponytails, terror landed on the touring industry yesterday. The event occurred just outside the front doors of Manchester (U.K.) Arena at about 10:30 p.m. local time during the opening night of Ariana Grande’s Dangerous Woman European tour.

Guy (Chip) Chipparoni, who is handling communications for SMG, which has managed the 21,000-seat Manchester Arena since it opened in 1995, said the staff has set up operations outside the venue, which is still an active crime scene. He emphasized the incident took place outside the arena, in a public space that connects the Victoria Station train station, retail and restaurants and the arena.

Following the blast and during egress from the building, the venue made public announcements asking concertgoers to be calm and patient. The venue is well and professionally staffed, he said, and John Sharkey, SMG Europe, is on the scene.

ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack, which killed 22 people, including children, and injured dozens more. Unlike the 2015 attack that saw 90 people lose their lives during the Eagles Of Death Metal show at the Bataclan in Paris, the Manchester tragedy took place outside the venue as fans (and parents picking them up) exited the building following the show. Given Grande’s demographic, there were a lot of young people in the audience, many of them rushing to find their parents.

As security and counter-terrorism experts have warned, and recent events around the globe have shown, the focus of the terrorists has shifted from the harder targets inside venues to the softer targets on the perimeter.

Similarly, the industry must adapt, directed by its security professionals. Prevent Advisors, a division of the Oak View Group, led by Chairman Bill Bratton, former Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) Chief and New York Police Department (NYPD) Commissioner, along with CEO Chris Robinette, a former Green Beret and COO Ben Tolle, also in Special Forces, and VP of Security Mike Downing, a former LAPD deputy chief and commanding officer of the Counter-Terrorism & Criminal Intelligence Bureau, bring critical insight to an industry which, for decades, had dealt with problems mostly related to in-venue crowd management and drug and alcohol issues.

Their message has been consistent, encouraging venues to look outward beyond the venue walls when considering the security plan. The Manchester incident further reinforces the message that terrorists are “looking outside,” and are not trying to penetrate existing security measures that have traditionally been focused inside the venue walls. “Expand your perimeters,” Prevent Advisors’ Tolle noted on a call to members of OVG’s Arena Alliance consortium of venues. These softer targets that will surely harden up in the coming days include parking lots and mass transportation drop-off areas, now clearly a target for vehicle rammings of pedestrians, IEDs, and suicide bombers such as the one in Manchester.

Much of the focus should be on giving the appearance of a well-protected event and venue. In addition to ample and visible security personnel, Prevent suggests contacting local police enforcement to ask for additional manpower and decoy cars at events, and to coordinate with transportation authorities. They also suggest all personnel to be on high alert for “abnormal behavior” (dress that is not appropriate for the weather or event, or large bulky items) and to utilize dogs. Given that Internet chatter often precedes terrorist attacks (some media reported a foreboding twitter post four hours before the Manchester attack), venues and events should take measures to “geo-fence” their location to monitor social media for key terms.

Meanwhile, the magnitude of the tragedy and its implications on the industry are beginning to sink in, especially with SMG. Maureen Ginty, SMG EVP, marketing services and human resources, told Venues Today in an email, “We all feel that this was just a horrendous tragedy, and have the utmost concern for everyone who is affected by this deplorable incident.”

Doug Thornton, SMG EVP, stadiums and arenas, wrote: “We are not in a position where we can comment just now. As you know, this incident is still under investigation and all officials are still trying to gather facts.”

SMG also posted a message on their website immediately after the incident: “On Monday evening at approximately 10:30 p.m., an incident occurred in a public space outside of Manchester Arena (UK) as attendees were exiting the Ariana Grande concert. Arena management continues to assist law enforcement officials in their investigation. ….”

Because it is an ongoing investigation, SMG deferred comment until the investigation is further along.

In the short term, the industry is moving forward, if skittishly. Marc Geiger, worldwide head of music for William Morris Endeavor Entertainment, sees “increases” across the board. “Security costs, insurance [costs] and time to enter a venue will all go up immediately, everywhere,” he tells Venues Today. “Metal detectors and more will start where they don’t have them and police costs will be added. That will happen regardless, worldwide.”

Another cost surely to increase is entertainment insurance premiums related to live events. “I haven’t heard about an immediate impact on premiums but, typically, when an event like this happens, the market gets fearful and limits terrorism coverage while increasing costs,” said Paul Bassman, president/CEO of Ascend Insurance Brokerage.

Bassman said a “wide range” of policies are offered on terrorism-related cancellation policies, which are typically addressed as an exclusion in event insurance. In such case, terrorism "is clearly defined, ‘any form, fear, threat, or acts of terrorism are expressly excluded from coverage,’ and what ends up happening is the exclusion is removed so that it doesn’t apply, and if any festival or event suffers a loss due to an act of terrorism of any kind, there’s no exclusion for it.”

The impacted event “still has to meet the test of a proper cancellation, but if it does, it’s typically a pretty broad policy offered, as broad as removing the terrorism exclusion altogether, to limiting coverage for acts of terrorism based on time—the number of days before the event—and distance—within a certain number of miles from the venue,” Bassman explained.

Bassman said typical industry rates for terrorism coverage would be about .15 perecent, or $15,000 on a $1 million policy. He added that such coverage is becoming increasingly common.

“I can’t speak to [Grande’s tour], but if she has terrorism coverage on her touring policy, she could definitely make claims,” he said. “There were a lot of artists on tour in Europe when [the Bataclan incident] happened, and they made claims for terrorism all over Europe as travel was restricted; shows were being cancelled left and right because they weren’t protected properly. I’m sure that will happen now, because there will probably be travel restrictions and shows cancelled all over Europe.”

Take That, scheduled to play Manchester Arena May 25, 26 and 27, has been postponed. The next scheduled event, KISS, May 30 and touted as their only confirmed show in the north of the country for 2017, is still on the schedule as of Tuesday, May 23.

Ever since the shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, the mayor of that city has been particularly keen on security. That makes Allen Johnson’s job easier as director of Orlando Venues. Both he and the police chief answer to the mayor.

His first reaction to the terrorist attack at Manchester Arena is that “it happened outside the venue,” but, that said, he has been consciously pushing the “front door” of Amway Center and Camping World Stadium beyond the gate, even beyond the ballards out front.

“Our ‘front door’ is not the front door,” he said. “It’s the parking garage, it’s the people who park downtown and walk in. We’ve extended our perception of our front door to include quite a few things.”

It’s a key ingredient to customer service and the patron experience in today’s world, when there are people who care nothing for their own life or the lives of others. How do you stop that?

“We have police outside in places we normally wouldn’t for fear of interrupting patron or traffic flow,” Johnson said. “At all major events, we have SWAT units inside or near the entrance.” The SWAT teams are fully outfitted, right down to long rifles and, while there is concern such a visible presence would be a deterrent to fun-seeking sports and concert fans, it has proven to be something patrons appreciate, Johnson said. “Remember, it’s already happened here.”

When the National Basketball Association went to mandatory wanding, Orlando Venues invested in magnetometers. Generally speaking, concert promoters are fine with the extra security cost. It’s the world we live in, Johnson said.

He recalled travelling to Europe with the Orlando Magic, where he talked with one of the security guards at the O2 Arena. The guard told Johnson to remember, you ‘Yanks’ have been dealing with this since 2001, we’ve been dealing with it since the 60s.

Orlando has gone further, taking some more extreme steps about which Johnson declined to tip their hand, though he did refer to other more common steps, like bomb-sniffing dogs which are becoming more common at venues. “You have to make your venue a hard target and you have to extend the front door,” he said.

Grande’s next stop is supposed to be at the O2 Arena, London, on Thursday, May 25, and Friday, May 26. Barnaby Hooper, 02 Arena, communications director, said, “Isn’t it just awful. We’re in total shock. We’re all saddened by the terrible tragedy in Manchester. Our thoughts and prayers are with those affected and their families.”

“Ariana is due to perform at The O2 on Thursday and Friday,” he said. “We’re awaiting confirmation, but it is highly likely the shows will not go ahead.”

“As soon as I have further information I will share it,” he said, adding, “Regardless of whether these shows go on, security is always tight at The 02.”

Grande was due at Sportspaleis, Antwerp, Belgium, Sunday night, May 28. Ineke Geert at the Sportspalies said, “Our hearts are with the victims and people in Manchester. This is a terrible tragedy. It is completely up to Ariana Grande and her team to decide if they want to play the show here on Sunday night but at the moment it sounds like the show will be canceled.”

“Security at Sportapleis is our number one concern,” she said. “If the show does go on, we will take every precaution we can to ensure the safety of our guests.”

Wouter Bruyns of the Antwerp police said, "We are still at threat level 3 and we are monitoring the situation closely. We are on high alert in all busy areas. This attack does not mean we will now have extra police protection for large venues as a standard. It will mean extra vigilance."

It has been reported that Grande has canceled the rest of her European tour.


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Two Retirees Talk Lessons Learned
Posted: 17 May 2017, 8:00 pm

Bob Johnson,  New Orleans Ernest Morial Convention Center and Mack Stone, Columbia (S.C.) Metropolitan Convention Center

Two longtime GM’s currently running convention centers have announced their pending retirements, future plans and lessons learned this month. Two things remain the same in both their opinions: This is a relationship business and construction/expansion is a constant at convention centers.

Bob Johnson will retire after 10 years as general manager and president of the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center Sept. 25. The date marks the convergence of his 70th birthday and his 10th anniversary at the convention center, “two milestones in the same week.”

His go-forth plan is to try out retirement, see how it fits and then either go back to work or enjoy a new lifestyle. Tuesday, Sept. 26, he and his wife will start a 30-day road trip, which should be a good   test.

Mack Stone’s last day as VP and GM of the Columbia (S.C.) Metropolitan Convention Center is June 30. At 67, he’s still interested in keeping a finger in the business and expects this last chapter to be similar to the first few – answering the call from colleagues in the industry.

He likes to tell the story of attending his first IAVM District 5 meeting when he was about 30. Les Timms, his first boss and mentor in the business, encouraged him to get involved in IAVM. The first person he met was industry veteran Steve Camp, who was in Myrtle Beach, S.C., at the time. “I told him to give me a call if he ever decided to leave Myrtle Beach. I’d love to move there,” Stone said. Eight months later, he called with just that news.

For Johnson, his career has centered around returning home to New Orleans. A native of North Carolina with a wife from Virginia, he started in the business at Benton Convention Center, Winston-Salem, N.C., in 1971 as an event coordinator.

In 1982, he moved to New Orleans to open UNO Lakefront Arena, before moving over to the Louisiana Superdome in 1985. In 1995, Johnson moved to Philadelphia where he worked for SMG corporate, overseeing arenas and stadiums, but the lure of the Big Easy won out and in 2007 he returned to manage the New Orleans Convention Center.

Neither man has been replaced yet, both expecting a national search combined with a close look at internal candidates. And both spoke of expansion plans they will miss being part of.

Johnson said you simply have to have “cathedral thinking.” Historically, cathedrals took 200 years to finish. One man could not claim the fame. He has overseen the redevelopment of parts of Convention Center Boulevard, with construction of Urban Linear Park expected to start mid to late summer.

The biggie is the new headquarters hotel and mixed-use development, which has had a few starts and stops and is about to start again. It will be a billion-dollar baby, most of it private money.

Other than major expansion projects during his tenure, which included completion of a $50 million renovation of the Great Hall that includes a 60,000-sq.-ft., column-free ballroom, he is most proud of the shift in the culture of the convention center and the city in general. Post several traumas, beginning with 9/11 and continuing with Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the recession of 2008 and the Gulf oil spill of 2010, the citizenry of New Orleans was recoiling.

“We had to keep chipping at the armor. As a destination city, we depend on the resiliency of its people that has made New Orleans a city celebrated as a world icon,” Johnson said. Looking in the rearview mirror, he sees that customer service and world-class performance levels are back.

Lessons learned in his diverse career? “Be flexible and don’t bow to political dogma, whether university, city or state. You have a business to run.”

The biggest change? Technology. But when you get through that, it’s still a relationship-driven business; it’s still about entertaining and taking care of people, Johnson said.

Stone cited expansion talk in Columbia that is heating up again just as he is retiring. He is a veteran of construction projects and likes the challenges.

His career began when he badgered Les Timms of the Greenville (S.C.) Memorial Auditorium, to hire him and train him so he could move home to Greenwood, S.C., to manage the under-construction Lander University arena, which was opening in the fall of 1977. “I aggravated him to death. I wanted in this industry,” Stone recalled. Neither building exists today.

The young manager mimicked what was done in Greenville, right down to putting Greenwood letterhead on Greenville contracts, all with Timms’ encouragement. “It was a small operation. There were only four of us,” Stone said.

From there, Stone and his wife, Amy, went to the Myrtle Beach (S.C.) Convention Center after that call from Camp. Five and a half years later, he got another call, from Clyde Hawkins at the Tivoli Theater, Chattanooga, Tenn., who thought of Stone for a new venue under construction. Six years later, it was a call from Phoenix Civic Plaza, but Mack and Amy hungered for family and home and three years later returned to South Carolina.

After a sojourn in the trade show business, “Steve Camp calls me again and asks if I’d consider a job at a new convention center under construction in Columbia,” Stone said.

It’s about relationships. Running a convention center requires strong relationships with subcontractors, staff and clientele, Stone said. He agrees the main force for change is technology.

His advice? Be nice to people. You never know when you will meet that person again but, if you’re in this business, you will meet them again.

Columbia Metro Convention Center is busy, hosting 360 events and working three shifts most of the fall and winter. But in the summertime, when there is a lull, Stone likes to send a convention center crew on the road to visit other buildings. Usually, there is suspicion on the other side — why-are-you-here thinking.

But once the Columbia contingent shares their stash of contracts and systems and processes and asks for comparisons, they get involved and share information.

They invariably bring back ideas, which is great, but Stone has an ulterior motive. “It’s really a selfish thing we started, because they usually come back realizing it’s not as bad as they thought it was in Columbia,” Stone said. “Everyone has issues.”

It’s a small industry and communication is as important as relationships.

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Chandler To Head F&B Team Of HKCEC
Posted: 17 May 2017, 8:00 pm

Paul_Jeffrey_Chandler__Director_of_FB_(HML).JPGPaul Jeffrey Chandler

Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre (HKCEC) has appointed Paul Jeffrey Chandler as its new director of food & beverage (F&B). He joins HML, which is the private management and operating company for F&B at HKCEC.

Chandler has over 30 years of experience in the hospitality field, which he gained through various senior positions in international hotels in Mainland China, Hong Kong, U.K. and Australia. Prior to joining HML, he was director, food & beverage operations of Shanghai Disney Resort, China, overseeing the preopening plans and daily operations of all in-park outlets, hotel restaurants and banquet services. Before relocating to Shanghai in 2012, he held a similar position at Hong Kong Disneyland for more than three years.

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Jessicake and Bubblieisha Hit the Road
Posted: 17 May 2017, 8:00 pm

The promotional poster for Shopkins Live!

Anthony Ottaviani, The Dome Arena, Henrietta, N.Y., is thrilled to be welcoming Shopkins Live! as his first family show to the newly-renovated arena and just as pleased it’s such a hot property. The Dome Arena is among the first dates of the Sept. 14-April 28 bookings announced this month.

Generally speaking, the new family show, based on the number one toy for girls in North America produced by Moose Toys out of Australia, is playing soft-seat theaters, but Ottaviani aggressively pursued his agent at APA to buy the show. It will help bring families to the 40-year-old Dome, which was bought two years ago and refurbished to the tune of $10 million, reopening a month ago with Flogging Molly.

Gilles Paquin, Koba Entertainment, is building the Shopkins family show now. He has the North American rights to the tour and is negotiating for global rights. “Nobody has toured this show anywhere yet. Ours is the premiere live tour ever.

Koba is selling the show to promoters and venues and Mayo Performing Arts Center, Morristown, N.J., is also one of the buyers. Ed Kirchdoerfler, GM,  booked two shows for Sept. 17.

Admitting he initially did not know what a Shopkins was, it didn’t take long to find someone in the office with young daughters. A subsequent trip to the toy store revealed more of the merchandise and general elation when shopkeepers heard the show was coming to town.

Shopkins Live! is in keeping with trends in family shows that Kirchdoerfler has noted of late – bigger productions, higher ticket prices, VIP programs. Mayo PAC presents a dozen family shows a year, and there was a day when tickets were $12-$15. Shopkins is more in the $29-$100 range, with the last being the meet-and-greet VIP experience.

It is selling well, he said. He sells family shows on a loose subscription basis. Anyone who buys five shows is considered a family show series subscriber.

Bigger productions like Shopkins Live! and VStar’s Paw Patrol Live! have raised the level of expectations for families, Kirchdoerfler believes. He said it is selling well, even though they have not yet announced the family show series. “I’m feeling good about the show,” Kirchdoerfler said. “We’re getting a nice number without even putting it out there.”

It looks like Shopkins Live! will travel with two semis, two tour buses and 23 people in cast and crew. Set up will be in the five-hour range.

The show will run for 90 minutes with one 15-minute intermission. The Shoppies and Shopkins characters will have an all new storyline, original pop music and video highlights as Jessicake, Bubblieisha, Peppa-Mint and friends prepare for Shopville’s annual “Funtastic Food and Fashion Fair.”

“We’re at 79 dates now, but it looks like we’ll add quite a few more – 10 for sure,” Paquin said. “Right now, we’re on the road for four months, but it looks like it could be for a year in North America.”

Paquin is working on partnering with a merchandise company and said there will be tour specific Shopkins merch.

“This has longevity. We’re looking at this for five years at least,” he said of the property.

While Shopkins are not on TV at all, they are a viral phenomenon. A new DVD is coming out before the tour launches. The website is

Paquin agrees with Kirchdoerfler that the quality of theater family shows is up considerably. “There are less tours but longer tours.”

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Live Nation Takes Over Philly's The Met
Posted: 17 May 2017, 7:00 pm

Rendering of the soon-to-be new and improved Philadelphia Opera House (The Met).

The historic Metropolitan Opera House, Philadelphia, is about to get a much-needed facelift after a big-time developer decided to invest millions into renovating the structure that was built in 1908.

Slated to open at the end of 2018, Real Estate Developer Eric Blumenfeld has partnered with Live Nation to manage the 3,500-capacity venue that takes up an entire city block. 

Roughly $45 million will be invested to resurrect a building that has “the best acoustics on the East Coast,” said Geoff Gordon, regional president of Live Nation.

“The venue and the bones of it are remarkable,” Gordon told Venues Today.

The structure was built by Oscar Hammerstein and became dormant in the late 80s and mid 90s before a church moved in.

Now, the opera house — located on the bustling redeveloped North Broad Street — will be restored by Blumenfeld’s EB Realty Group to its original structure along with all the bells and whistles needed to host concerts and entertainment acts.

“I am over the top, beyond belief excited,” Blumenfeld said about the 110,000-sq.-ft. structure. “Words cannot describe my level of excitement. I have been working on this project for a long, long time.”

Renovating the building and giving it “the respect it deserves” brings out the passionate developer-side in Blumenfeld.

He feels The Met’s facelift will add to all the other efforts — and money — he’s put into North Broad Street, which includes the redevelopment of old factories and the Divine Lorraine Hotel, which is three-and-a-half blocks from the opera house.

Management of The Met adds to the list of venues Live Nation oversees in Philadelphia.

“The city is absolutely growing by leaps and bounds,” Gordon said. “With the addition of the Fillmore Philadelphia, the comedy club and the Tower Theater, this venue (The Met) fits right in line with our other venues.”

Economic drivers in Philadelphia include Comcast housing, its national headquarters in the city, as well as many young adults moving downtown, Blumenfeld said.

“Philadelphia has really been on the rise as a city for the last 10 years,” he said. “More and more people are wanting to live downtown. If you compare us with other major metro areas, the quality of life is really amazing.”

Much of the success of North Broad Street, in particular, is credited to Blumenfeld’s dedication to revamping old, shut-down buildings into apartments and restaurants.

“Twelve years ago, when we started developing on North Broad Street, there were factory-type buildings and we made them residential communities,” Blumenfeld said. “These are buildings that were basically vacant for 10 to 20 years.”

Many of those vacancies now have mixed-use development, including retail, residential and dining.

“We have continued to outpace other cities in creating a really great dining scene,” Blumenfeld said, highlighting that he spends a good chunk of his time working with restaurateurs and chefs trying to find the perfect structural fit for new cuisine offerings.

“When you think about great neighborhoods, they’re about people, they’re about nightlife and restaurants and entertainment,” he said.

As such, Philadelphia also has turned into a city that musical artists want to visit.

“There was sometime ago when Philadelphia used to be a ‘maybe’ stop (for artists), then it was a ‘yes’ stop, and now it’s a ‘definitely’ stop,” Gordon said.

Both Gordon and Blumenfeld feel the booking power of The Met will be super strong.

“What we’re doing is giving people a reason to come and visit,” Blumenfeld said. “How do you reimagine a guest experience by just going to a concert? That’s what we’re trying to create.”


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USF Sun Dome Changes Management
Posted: 17 May 2017, 6:10 pm

Exterior of USF Sun Dome, Tampa, Fla.

The management at USF Sun Dome, Tampa, Fla., is changing. Spectra, which has been managing the property for the last five years, is out, as of June 30 and Tampa Bay Entertainment Properties (TBEP), an offshoot of Tampa Bay Sports and Entertainment (TBSE), is taking over July 1. TBSE is the entity that runs neighboring Amalie Arena.

It’s a five-year deal between USF Sun Dome and TBEP. Rhett Blewett, who has been a member of TBEP for the past 10 years has been tapped to oversee building and event operations at USF Sun Dome.

“We’re going to be taking on and managing the USF Sun Dome,” said Kevin Preast, SVP, event management, TBSE. “We created TBEP to oversee the management and programming of the USF Sun Dome.”

“Since Mr. Vinik bought the team (Tampa Bay Lightning) in 2010, the brand re-creation of the Lightning and Amalie Arena, led by Mr. Vinik and our CEO Steve Griggs, has been phenomenal.”

“USF Sun Dome came to us and said that their management contract with their current vendors was expiring and asked us to take a look at it,” he said. “They were very interested in the transformation of our organization and our brand and wanted to see if we would be interested in helping them make the same transition.”

“Spectra is very proud of the business that we have built at the USF Sun Dome over the last five years,” said Trent Merritt, GM, USF Sun Dome. “Following the 2011/2012 renovation, we undertook a highly successful rebranding campaign and subsequently took the venue to a nationally ranked Top 5 University arena and a Top 2 ranked arena in the state of Florida each year, with respect to bookings.”

“In doing so, we also exceeded the arena’s financial goals each and every year by a significant margin,” he said. “While we are disappointed in the decision to change management companies, we wish the best for the Sun Dome moving forward."

USF Sun Dome is a 55,000-sq.-ft., multipurpose facility on the campus of the University of South Florida. The building is approximately 37 years old and it is located on the southeastern side of the USF campus; it is home to the men's and women's basketball and volleyball teams.

It currently hosts approximately 300 different events each year.


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Jaguars' Daily's Place To Open May 27
Posted: 17 May 2017, 5:50 pm

Rendering of the new Daily's Place flex-field and amphitheater, Jacksonville, Fla

The Jacksonville Jaguars and Everbank Field, Jacksonville, Fla., are saying hello to the new 5,500-capacity amphitheater and flex-field, which are connected to it via sky bridges, and will open May 27, with a concert by Tedeshi Trucks Band.

Called Daily’s Place, the new venue was built to fill a hole in the 5,000-6,000-capacity space in the Northeastern Florida market.

The conversations regarding the project started three years ago when Shad Khan bought the Jaguars, said Chad Johnson, SVP, sales and service, Bold Events and The Jacksonville Jaguars.  Bold Events is a sister company of the Jaguars, formed for the purpose of planning events and concerts at both Daily’s Place and EverBank Field.

“We’ve been steadily investing in the facility to improve the fan experience and investing in the community to strengthen our relationship with our fans,” he said. “We were looking at new and creative things we could do to drive the business forward to help overcome some of the inherent challenges that come with a small market like we have here.”

161107_16x9_Jax_Images3.jpgRendering of the interior of the new Daily's Place amphitheater.

Johnson and his team started by “looking at areas where we currently aren’t delivering in the marketplace” and noticed there was a gap in the 5,000-6,000-seat event space. The amphitheater idea came from those conversations.

“We have a great arena, a great football stadium and a smaller outdoor amphitheater that only seats 3,700,” he said. “We noticed there was a market for these 5,000-6,000-seat performances but not a venue to host them.”

The project is a part of a private-public partnership between Khan and the city of Jacksonville. Ninety-million dollars was budgeted for Daily’s Place along with improvements to EverBank Field, split 50-50 between the two entities. The naming rights deal with Daily’s Place is for five years and there is an option to extend.

Phase one of the project were improvements to the stadium including enhancements to their US Assure Clubs, which sit on the 50-yard line, and the East and West Clubs got full renovations. Both projects were completed for the 2016 National Football League season.

Phase two, Daily’s Place and the flex-field, broke ground for 2016. The entire flex-field and amphitheater are under a shared-roof structure. The flex-field will be used for Jaguar practices, pregame hospitality events for Jaguars games, trade shows and community events that would require a covered space.

“The stage of the amphitheater backs up to the flex-field and those airline-hanger doors will open up,” said Johnson. Combined, the venues are 160,000 sq.-ft; 94,000 sq.-ft. for the flex-field and 66,000 for the amphitheater.

Populous is the designer of the new venues. “Populous has been working with the Jaguars for several years,” said Jonathan Mallie, principal and director of the New York office, Populous. The design process took about two months. The contractor was Hunt Construction.

“It was an extremely aggressive construction schedule,” said Mallie, who added that digital modeling allowed them to expedite the construction.

Mallie said that he looked at the challenges of designing around an existing facility as opportunities. “The new venues work off the south end-zone of EverBank Field and make a movement toward the waterfront and this allowed us to connect EverBank Field to the waterfront and greet the public.”

“The predominate architectural move of the roof-scape that hovers over the venues really creates an iconic presence on the waterfront,” said Mallie.

Co-facility management partner Live Nation is the content provider, and SMG will be the co-facility partner with Live Nation on the operational side.

There are 28 confirmed shows including Train, Incubus, Journey and Asia, Matchbox Twenty and Kings of Leon. Johnson expects to add more events to coincide with home games for the Jaguars. “When we are fully operational, we expect to have 40 events a year,” he said.

There are three levels of seating at the amphitheater including premium lounges and premium loge sections, with couches and in-seat service.

The concessionaire will be Delaware North, who also services EverBank Field. “We will serve everything from healthy options to grab-and-go snacks,” said Johnson. 

The resources and infrastructure of EverBank Field will be shared by the new venues and all ingress will be done through the gates of EverBank Field.

“The goal is to be a first-class facility for the fans and the artists,” said Johnson. “We have a unique state-of-the-art back-of-house where we created patios for the artists to enjoy the great Florida weather.”

Initial studies suggest that Johnson and his team were right-on in their assessment that the area needed a venue such as Daily’s Place. Tickets are selling briskly — and to people who’ve never stepped foot in EverBank Field.

“We didn’t build Daily’s Place to reach the same people who come to Jaguars games,” said Johnson. “As we’ve gone through our first round of studies, we’ve found that 75 percent of the people purchasing tickets for Daily’s Place have never been to a Jaguars game.”



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USGA Turns Courses Into Pop-Up Venues
Posted: 17 May 2017, 3:00 pm

The 117th US Open Championship will be played in a pop-up venue at Erin Hills, Hartford, Wis.

For one week in June, the United States Golf Association (USGA) turns an otherwise idyllic golf-course setting into a full-fledged venue, catering to the expectations of modern fans with a growing set of modern amenities. For this, the 117th US Open Championship, June 12-18, the USGA gives Erin Hills, Hartford, Wis., its first run as a US Open host, morphing a 652-acre property into a seven-day city and welcoming 35,000 patrons per day.

And it takes months to make it happen.

With a build starting March 15, it will take the USGA’s vendors three months to build for an event that includes the four-day championship and three days of practice rounds and then another two months for the tear-down and restoration process.

“It is pretty remarkable how quickly everything goes up,” said Eric Steimer, USGA 2017 U.S. Open Championship manager. “When you start to look at the bigger picture of what goes on outside the ropes, there are all of these pieces that come in to put on a championship of this size and scope and Erin Hills allows us a lot of great things because it is such a big piece of property.”

Relatively new in the golf world, Erin Hills didn’t even start forming until 2004 and has only been open for about 10 years. But that served to help the rolling hills design plans for a major championship by ensuring it had a plan for welcoming tens of thousands of fans while transforming into a venue.

“We can get the 18 holes right, but let’s think beyond the rope lines, how fans are going to navigate, where we are going to put them, how does that factor into how you design this golf course,” Steimer said. “It was all contemplated when it started in 2004.”

This June, the USGA will set up 400,000 square feet of tented space, 500,000 square feet of flooring, over 100 office trailers, 20 miles of fiber-optic cables and 15 miles of temporary fencing. The USGA predicts $120 million of estimated economic impact for southeastern Wisconsin with about $65 million for the greater Milwaukee metro area, as the course rests just northwest of the downtown area. The bulk of that economic impact comes from contractors setting up and tearing down the venue, as well as tourism-related spending by visitors.

Much of the temporary infrastructure rests in “fan central,” a location that includes the 39,000-sq-ft. merchandise pavilion at the main gate. At Erin Hills, fans will park offsite and a bus will drop them off at fan-central, meaning roughly 90 percent of traffic will come and go via one location. “It allows the vast majority of fans to walk through a centralized location and experience all the different activations we have onsite to optimize the fan experiences as opposed to having to walk to the opposite end of the course,” Steimer said. “It is all right there for them.”

Fan-central includes activation spaces for key sponsors American Express and Lexus, as well as a USGA member experience and golf-innovation tent. To handle the food and beverage needs, such as the estimated 100,000 hot dogs and 365,000 12-ounce beers, the USGA contracts with Levy Prom to manage all the fan concessions and then Ridgewells Catering for all corporate hospitality. “We break it up between the two companies,” Steimer said, “but both groups have to do a lot of local sourcing, whether a pretzel, bun or a hot dog.”

Every site sets up differently, but with the USGA returning to locations multiple times, dropping into a new course required “throwing darts at the wall to see what sticks” in terms of designing the pop-up experience.

With the fan-central location figured out, the USGA plans to dot the rolling hills with grandstands. “If we could build a grandstand around every green and some of the tees, that is the goal,” Steimer said. “We are able to get the vast majority of grandstands behind the greens.” Erin Hills will feature roughly 3,000 seats behind the 18th green, the pinnacle-finishing hole of the tournament. Another 1,200 seats will fit behind the par-three, ninth hole and expect anywhere from 400 to 1,500 seats at other locations.

The USGA plans to allow for about 50 percent of the anticipated crowd to be seated in grandstands at one time. “We are confident we could sell more tickets, but we are not about trying to maximize sales; we want it to be a good spectator experience,” Steimer said.

With a one-time event coming to Wisconsin, the USGA varies its ticketing options, everything from a $325,000 hospitality package a larger corporation may purchase for its own 40-foot by 40-foot tent to general admission fan tickets that allow access to the grounds and stands. In between, there is a bit of everything, from smaller, exclusive hospitality tents, shared premium tents, daily and weekly suites and tickets to the Trophy Club or 1895 club.

While most sports’ major events require a ramping up of sorts to pull off, the USGA moves its annual championship around the nation to courses in completely different terrains and regions, requiring planning based on specific course layouts. It all happens to turn 18 holes of golf into one of the nation’s premier pop-up venues.

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Hot Tickets for May 17, 2017
Posted: 17 May 2017, 2:00 pm

The Weeknd, playing his Starboy: Legend of the Fall tour set at Philips Arena, Atlanta.  (Photo credit: Lauren Arum Photography)

Phase one of The Weeknd’s 2017 world tour Starboy: Legend of the Fall launched Feb. 17, in Stockholm, Sweden, and is set to wrap up in summer as part of the Lollapalooza Festival at the Hippodrome de Longchamp, Paris, July 22. The Canadian singer, whose given name is Abel Tesfaye, made a stop at Philips Arena, Atlanta, May 13 and, along with support acts Rae Sremmurd, 6lack and rapper Belly, entertained a packed house grossing $1.4 million. With smoke, lights, laser lighting and a stage that resembles parts of a spaceship, the 15, 000 fans in attendance were treated not only to great music but a nonstop blast to their senses. The Weeknd will make his next stop May 18, at the Verizon Center, Washington, D.C.

Neil Diamond showed up on our Hot Tickets chart this week with his own stop at Philips Arena, April 30. The Live Nation-promoted event, with ticket prices ranging from $30-$150, grossed $1.2 million and saw over 12,000 fans in attendance. Celebrating his five-decade career, the rock and roll Hall of Fame member embarked on his 50 Year Anniversary World Tour in April and will be on the road through the middle of August. Diamond can be seen next at Wells Fargo Arena, Des Moines, Iowa, May 21.

 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 April 18-May 16.

15,001 or More Seats

10,001-15,000 Seats

5,001-10,000 Seats

5,000 or Fewer Seats

1) Luke Bryan
Gross Sales: $1,623,816; Venue: Bridgestone Arena, Nashville, Tenn.; Attendance: 30,272; Ticket Range: $190-$34.50; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: May 5-6; No. of Shows: 2

2) The Weeknd
Gross Sales: $1,372,064; Venue: Philips Arena, Atlanta; Attendance: 15,087; Ticket Range: $150-$39.50; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: May 13; No. of Shows: 1

3) Eric Church
Gross Sales: $1,322,826; Venue: U.S. Bank Arena, Cincinnati; Attendance: 16,736; Ticket Range: $129-$29; Promoter: Messina Touring Group, AEG Presents; Dates: April 22; No. of Shows: 1

4) Def Leppard
Gross Sales: $1,281,677; Venue: Bridgestone Arena, Nashville, Tenn.; Attendance: 15,236; Ticket Range: $149.50-$49.50; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: April 27; No. of Shows: 1

5) Neil Diamond
Gross Sales: $1,207,287; Venue: Philips Arena, Atlanta; Attendance: 12,235; Ticket Range: $149.50-$29.50; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: April 30; No. of Shows: 1

1) Eric Church
Gross Sales: $1,081,681; Venue: Bon Secours Wellness Arena, Greenville, S.C.; Attendance: 14,447; Ticket Range: $89-$27; Promoter: Messina Touring Group, AEG Presents; Dates: May 6; No. of Shows: 1

2) Eric Church
Gross Sales: $924,965; Venue: Jacksonville (Fla.) Veterans Memorial Arena; Attendance: 13,854; Ticket Range: $89-$18; Promoter: Messina Touring Group, AEG Presents; Dates: May 5; No. of Shows: 1

3) Eric Church
Gross Sales: $857,408; Venue: Van Andel Arena, Grand Rapids, Mich.; Attendance: 11,574; Ticket Range: $89.50-$22.50; Promoter: Messina Touring Group, AEG Presents; Dates: May 11; No. of Shows: 1

4) Dierks Bentley
Gross Sales: $477,341; Venue: Intrust Bank Arena, Wichita, Kan.; Attendance: 9,014; Ticket Range: $59.75-$29.75; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: May 5; No. of Shows: 1

5) Dierks Bentley
Gross Sales: $464,681; Venue: Save Mart Center, Fresno, Calif.; Attendance: 10,513; Ticket Range: $51.80-$17; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: April 29; No. of Shows: 1

1) Shlomo Artzi
Gross Sales: $489,059; Venue: The Theater at Madison Square Garden, New York; Attendance: 4,995; Ticket Range: $293-$44; Promoter: Cenit Productions and Entertainment; Dates: April 26; No. of Shows: 1

2) Julianne & Derek Hough: Move Live on Tour
Gross Sales: $401,008; Venue: Radio City Music Hall, New York; Attendance: 5,945; Ticket Range: $119-$30; Promoter: Live Nation, MSG Live; Dates: May 6; No. of Shows: 1

3) Radio Disney Music Awards
Gross Sales: $395,120; Venue: Microsoft Theater, Los Angeles; Attendance: 5,165; Ticket Range: $179.75-$59.75; Promoter: ABC Cable Networks Group; Dates: April 29; No. of Shows: 1

4) Pepe Aguilar
Gross Sales: $379,147; Venue: Greek Theatre, Los Angeles; Attendance: 4,476; Ticket Range: $175-$35.55; Promoter: Nederlander Concerts; Dates: April 22; No. of Shows: 1

5) Pure Sydney
Gross Sales: $377,974; Venue: Hordern Pavilion, Sydney; Attendance: 5,526; Ticket Range: $79.78-$68.30; Promoter: Pure Music; Dates: April 22; No. of Shows: 1

1) Matilda
Gross Sales: $1,532,424; Venue: Broward Center for the Performing Arts, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; Attendance: 23,501; Ticket Range: $85-$35; Promoter: In-house, Broadway Across America; Dates: April 25- May7; No. of Shows: 16

2) The King and I
Gross Sales: $1,102,560; Venue: Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, Miami; Attendance: 13,942; Ticket Range: $175-$29; Promoter: In-house, Broadway Across America; Dates: May 9-14; No. of Shows: 8

3) Paw Patrol Live!
Gross Sales: $744,973; Venue: ICC Darling Harbour Theatre, Sydney; Attendance: 21,946; Ticket Range: $59.50-$29.50; Promoter: TEG Life Like Touring ; Dates: April 20-23; No. of Shows: 11

4) Mamma Mia
Gross Sales: $730,075; Venue: Fox Cities Performing Arts Center, Appleton, Wis.; Attendance: 9,407; Ticket Range: $130-$45; Promoter: Broadway Across America, In-house; Dates: May 12-14; No. of Shows: 5

5) Riverdance
Gross Sales: $598,706; Venue: Fox Theatre, Atlanta; Attendance: 9,177; Ticket Range: $85-$30; Promoter: Broadway Across America; Dates: May 5-7; No. of Shows: 5

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


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BOTS Fines Announced in New York
Posted: 16 May 2017, 3:00 pm

The state of New York has fined six ticket brokers $4.19 million over BOTS act violations.

Settlements with six ticket brokers that illegally purchased and resold hundreds of thousands of tickets in New York State since 2011, including on-ticket resale platforms like StubHub and Vivid Seats, were recently announced by the state’s Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman.

The settlements require the six companies to pay a combined total of $4.19 million in disgorged profits and penalties to the state.

Five of the companies – Renaissance Ventures, LLC (d/b/a Prestige Entertainment) of Connecticut; Ebrani Corp (d/b/a Presidential Tickets) of New York; Concert Specials Inc. of New York; Fanfetch Inc. of New York; and BMC Capital Partners, Inc. of New York – violated New York’s ticket laws by using illegal software known as ticket “bots” to purchase large numbers of tickets on websites such as before the tickets could be obtained by consumers. After obtaining the tickets illegally, resellers then resold them at a large profit. Five of the companies – Prestige Entertainment, Presidential Tickets, Concert Specials, Fanfetch and JAL Enterprises, LLC (d/b/a Top Star Tickets) of Massachusetts – each illegally sold tickets to events in New York over the last several years without first obtaining the required license. Prestige Entertainment paid $3,350,000, Concert Specials paid $480,000, Presidential Tickets paid $125,000, BMC Capital paid $95,000, Top Star Tickets paid $85,000, and Fanfetch paid $55,000.

The settlements require that the companies and their principals maintain proper ticket reseller licenses to resell tickets to New York events, abstain from using bots and pay penalties for having operated illegally. The Attorney General also announced a settlement with a seventh company, Componica, LLC, of Iowa, that developed software libraries used by ticket bots to try to get around tests that websites use to determine if a user is a human or a bot (often referred to as “CAPTCHA” tests). Componica has agreed to not develop or use software to bypass security measures on ticketing websites.

“This is a continuation of the dialogue that’s been coming out of New York,” said Joe Cassitto, head of broker relations for New York City-based TixPix, a no-fee ticket broker. “They’re trying to do anything reasonable to even the playing field for casual fans and people doing this for a living; they’re also looking for transparency.”

Attorney General Schneiderman’s investigation found that Prestige Entertainment ran one of the country’s largest ticket purchasing and reselling operations and used at least two different bots and thousands of credit cards and Ticketmaster accounts to purchase tickets to New York shows. Prestige Entertainment also bought IP addresses from online IP proxy services to evade detection of its bots by the retail ticket marketplace. In one transaction, the company purchased 1,012 tickets to a 2014 U2 Concert at Madison Square Garden in one minute.   

San Francisco-based ticket broker StubHub had no comment on this topic.

The National Association of Ticket Brokers has long taken a position against bot use and supported legislation to stop bots.

“We’ve advocated for open markets, but these need to be free of deceit and fraud,” said Gary Adler, counselor with the NATB.

He added the bot situation gives the industry a black eye, and ticket resellers are an easy target for people to dislike.

“It hurts our members because they have less access to tickets to sell or resell,” said Adler. “While bots are the target, this is not the problem in terms of people’s access to tickets. Getting rid of bots is not the panacea for getting tickets into fans’ hands.”

Adler said hold-backs and lack of ticket availability to the general public need to be transparent so ticket brokers don’t get blamed for scooping up the inventory.

“Getting rid of bots will not improve ticket availability,” he said.

“In response to the news/case overall, in TicketCity’s 27 years of business, the use of illegal activity to obtain or resell tickets has never been condoned on our platform, and we list this in our Terms & Conditions,” said Shannon McKinley, the Austin, Texas company’s director of PR/communications. “We’re an online marketplace that supports a free market model for the ticket industry and believe open competition always leads to the best consumer experience. We will continue to form decisions that support making ticketing a fair and transparent place so that fans can continue to enjoy their favorite events. That said, ticket resellers are expressly prohibited from selling tickets unfairly obtained on TicketCity.”

Cassito said venues, artists and teams can do a better job in deterring the secondary market. “For the secondary market, it’s a matter of adjusting to different delivery methods, but there will always be an opportunity for people to profit from buying and selling tickets as long as venues, artists and teams create it by offering a price that is indicative of the demand,” said Cassito.

Since releasing its report on the concert and sports ticket industry titled Obstructed View: What’s Blocking New Yorkers From Getting Tickets in January 2016, the New York Attorney General’s office has announced settlements with 15 businesses involved in the illegal ticket trade, including resellers, facilitators and software developers, for a total of $7.1 million. The office’s broader investigation into the secondary ticketing industry remains ongoing.

In 2016, New York enacted legislation called for by Attorney General Schneiderman that added criminal penalties for bot use to the existing civil penalties. That law took effect in February 2017. The settlements announced to date involved misconduct committed before the new law took effect.

“If the industry tries to stop ticket resellers by putting caps on ticket purchasing and reselling or making it illegal, it will drive up ticket prices and lead to less consumer protection,” said Adler.



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Spanish Language Sports App Launches
Posted: 16 May 2017, 3:00 pm

Mordovia Arena, Saransk, Russia, where FIFA games will soon be televised on Telemundo's Spanish languge app.

(Editor's Note: This story originally appeared in

For the first time, a U.S. network will be offering a stand-alone Spanish-language sports app on connected TV devices as Telemundo is launching the Telemundo Deportes EN VIVO app.

Telemundo Deportes EN VIVO is available on Apple TV, Roku and Amazon Fire TV in addition to being Chromecast enabled. Customers who have any of these devices can use their paid TV credentials to sign into the app and view content.

The app features broadcasts a variety of live sporting events, including the FIFA Confederations Cup Russia 2017, The Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) World Cup in Russia in 2018, CONCACAF World Cup qualifiers, Liga MX, Premier League, boxing and NASCAR.

In addition to live streaming games, the app can show viewers highlights, event schedules, previews and replays.

“We are committed to continue enhancing Telemundo Deportes’ multiplatform offerings, so fans can have access to their favorite sports events whenever they want and on the screen of their choice,”  Joaquin Duro, the Director of Digital Sports for Telemundo Deportes, said in a statement. “As the Telemundo Deportes EN VIVO app continues to attract our viewers, we are excited to offer them more ways to consume our content across all devices.”

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Vote for the 2017 Women of Influence by May 24, 2017
Posted: 11 May 2017, 6:00 pm

It's time to vote for the 2017 Venues Today Women of Influence Awards. We will be honoring this year's inspiring leaders during IAVM VenueConnect in Nashville, Tenn. August 6-10, 2017 Vote now to make your voice heard. The voting deadline is Wednesday, May 24, 2017. These individuals have been nominated for their newsworthy achievement and outstanding leadership. We will showcase the winners in our July issue. Subscribers select THREE nominees. Votes submitted by non-subscribers will not be valid.


2017 Venues Today Women of Influence Award Nominees:

Dr. Nola Agha
Associate Professor
University of San Francisco

Dr. Nola Agha strongly influences the strategic investment and direction of large-scale venues and events in the U.S. and abroad. As an award-winning scholar of the economic impact of sports, teams and stadiums, Agha’s research, teaching and advisory role provides rigorous decision-making guidance to baseball and football venue managers. Her work has been published in the prestigious European Sport Management Quarterly, International Journal of Sport Finance and the Journal of Sports Economics, while her in-depth analysis of the Super Bowl and Olympic Games is featured in the Mark H. McCormack Case Study Collection and the Sport Management Review.

Becky Brashear
Assistant General Manager
Maryland State Fair, Timonium, Md.

Becky Brashear's love for agriculture and all things “fair” began in her youth as a 4-H member. That love combined with a penchant for excellence in communication, fostered as a Frederick News Post editor, led her to pursue a career in the fair industry. Brashear moved through the ranks at The Great Frederick Fair becoming its first female general manager, a role she held for 20 years before becoming assistant general manager at the Maryland State Fair in 2014. She was elected as 2017 IAFE (International Association of Fairs and Expositions) Chair and currently promotes her "Striking It Rich" initiative that has encouraged fairs across the nation and around the world to give back to their communities through scholarship programs.

Allison Brecklin
Head of Operations
Ticketfly, San Francisco

Allison Brecklin oversees the strategy and execution of Ticketfly’s Client Services and Customer Success teams with the ultimate goal of ensuring venues, promoters, and fans have the best possible live event experiences. She is passionate about helping live event industry professionals by improving the processes their jobs depend on. In her two-and-a-half year tenure, Brecklin has scaled the Operations team to support the nearly 1,800 venues and promoters across North America that work with Ticketfly and the approximately 10-million fans who visit Ticketfly every month. She leads a team of 75 people across 10 states and two countries to improve customer-support response times to some of the fastest in the industry.

Kim Damron
Spectra Ticketing & Fan Engagement, Irvine, Calif.

Kim Damron’s recent promotion to president of Spectra Ticketing is the culmination of her longstanding strong leadership, extraordinary vision and expertise. She has worked in growing capacities to achieve the company’s goals for the last 12 years; she particularly champions and exemplifies equality and the positive impact of female influence. One of Damron’s first moves as president was to elevate key team members to pivotal roles to best position the company for longterm success. She has been instrumental in the company’s growth, including the organization’s key alliance with StubHub. She has overseen customer service, technology operations, commerce, marketing, the client partner team and strategic partnerships.

Millie Dixon
Theater Consultant/Principal
Theatre Projects Consultants, Norwalk, Conn

Millie Dixon has been a theater consultant with Theatre Projects Consultants since 1997 and became a principal at the firm in 2008. Dixon is one of only a handful of women consultants to be a member of the highly respected American Society of Theatre Consultants. Her responsibilities include project management and overall coordination of a wide variety of consulting projects from New York to Shanghai. Prior to joining TPC, Dixon served as director of operations for the Cerritos (Calif.) Center for the Performing Arts, where she oversaw all technical aspects of the facility and was involved in the final commissioning and development of organizational procedures for the center when it opened.

Cindy Harper
Associate Director
United Supermarkets Arena, Lubbock, Texas

Cindy Harper has been with the United Supermarkets Arena since it opened in 1999, and is currently the associate director.  The arena hosts a number of events (it was recently named the number one stop in Texas for venues ranging from 10,001-15,000 seats by Venues Today), but has a relevantly small staff. Harper has numerous responsibilities, including directly booking and scheduling events, writing event license agreements, marketing and promoting the venue. Within the past two years, the arena lost a full-time professional staff member to another area of campus, so Harper took on many of the responsibilities of this person’s job including overseeing the cleaning and maintenance of the facility as well as the technical operations. Most recently, the arena hosted five Garth Brooks shows.  Harper worked for several years in getting Garth to Lubbock and worked closely with the promoter to ensure the show would be successful.

Charlotte Jensen
Chief Executive Officer, Sports & Leisure
Sodexo – North America

Charlotte Jensen is responsible for a business with $171 million in annual revenues that serves 50 client locations including the Hollywood Bowl, Chicago Botanical Garden, Zoo Atlanta, Chase Center on the Riverfront, Baltimore Aquarium, Toyota Park and the Museum of Science and Industry. Prior to joining Sodexo, Jensen held the position of Senior Vice President, Sports & Entertainment with ABM Industries, Inc. With 25 years of experience in operations, finance and executive sales management and execution, Jensen was responsible for the overall growth and operations of ABM’s global Sports and Entertainment vertical.  She also founded the ABM Women in Leadership Council in 2014, and joined the Cancer Support Community in 2015 as a member of their Executive Board of Directors.
Jennifer Jones
Executive Director, Bay Area Alliance
Marina Civic Center Center for the Arts, Panama City, Fla.

Jennifer Jones has been with Bay Arts Alliance for 17 years.  She also manages the Marina Civic Center, performing arts center and Panama City Center for the Arts. Her Arts in Education program gives a chance for all 1st, 3rd and 5th graders in the community to see a live performance each year. Her BackStage Pass Concert series gives local bands a place to perform on a theater stage with payment for performances.

Donna Julian
Senior Vice President of Arena & Events Ops & GM
Spectrum Center, Charlotte, N.C.

Donna Julian has been the lead executive for Spectrum Center since its inception, construction and grand opening in 2005 as Charlotte Bobcats Arena. She is overseeing a $27.5 million Arena Enhancement Plan at the 19,000-seat Spectrum Center, home of the Charlotte Hornets, which includes a new state-of-the-art scoreboard. During her 30 + years in the sports and entertainment business, she has hosted a multitude of events including NCAA Basketball Tournaments and 2012 Democratic National Convention. Prior to coming to Charlotte, she worked for SMG as the General Manager of the Baltimore Arena. She is on the Executive Committee of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Charlotte and is a member of the Women’s InterCultural Exchange and the Charlotte Women’s Executive Organization.

Cindy Kamradt
Director, Stadium Planning & Special Projects Stadium Operations
Yankee Stadium, Bronx, New York

Not only does Cindy Kamradt spend nearly every day at the ballpark during the season running operations and special projects, she is spending the off-season overseeing the improvements and renovations to the ballpark.  Her positive leadership style is motivating and supportive. 

Karolyn Kirchgesler
Chief Executive Officer
Team San Jose (Calif.)

Karolyn Kirchgesler joined Team San Jose as CEO in October 2013, bringing 30 years of hospitality industry experience. Kirchgesler has strengthened San Jose’s focus on leisure travel by crafting a regional partnership with See Monterey and Visit Santa Cruz County; she has been awarded an additional contract from the City of San Jose for international marketing to support new airlift. Her efforts to promote leisure travel began during Super Bowl 50 in the Bay Area. She secured a pavilion in Super Bowl City to launch San Jose’s first consumer brand to over 1 million visitors (the only destination invited to participate). Her leadership has also increased operating revenue growth from $28 million in FY 2013-14 to $45 million in FY 2016-17; achieved an average of 125 percent of performance goals for FY 2014-15 and achieved an average of 12 percent of performance goals for FY 2015-16. Team San Jose is on target to achieve over 10 percent for FY 2016-17 performance goals.

Kathy Kramer
Chief Executive Officer
OC Fair & Event Center, Costa Mesa, Calif.
Kathy Kramer leads a fair with an average attendance of 1.4 million patrons, established one of the highest annual net revenue proceeds in 2016 and scored a 4.54 out of 5 guest-satisfaction rating from fair patrons. Kramer led the creation of a dedicated educational zone to OC Fairgrounds that includes Centennial Farm, which hosts more than 100,000 school children annually and the new veterans’ museum, Heroes Hall. A memorial that pays homage to the state’s agricultural workers, Table of Dignity, will open this summer. Kramer spearheaded the creation of a new community giveback program, the OC Fair Kids Club, with the goal to provide a free fair experience and transportation for 1,000 underserved children in the community.

Liz Land
Assistant Director for Marketing, Sales & Digital Media
University of Texas, Frank Erwin Center, Austin, Texas

During Liz Land’s tenure at the Frank Erwin Center, she has made a big impact in the sports and entertainment industry. Not only does Land manage all marketing campaigns for public ticketed events at the Frank Erwin Center, she also assists The University of Texas Athletics Fan Engagement staff in booking anthem singers and musical halftime acts for multiple sports. She is a member of many professional organizations including: International Association of Venue Managers (IAVM), The Recording Academy, Texas Chapter, CATAPLT Council, a Texas Athletics Leadership Program, Texas Athletics Diversity & Inclusion Council and serves on the board for the Austin Alliance for Women in Media and City of Austin Music Commission.

Amy Lubbesmeyer
Director of Marketing
Sue McLean & Associates, Minneapolis

Since 2011, Amy Lubbesmeyer has played a significant role in the live entertainment world across the Midwest. In her many years at Jade Presents, she worked tirelessly to continue to grow her skills, the company and the level of acts coming through what is now one of the most prominent independent booking agencies in the country. While working at VEE Corporation, she led the digital marketing initiative across the company, while influencing and mentoring coordinators. She is thoughtful, positive, analytical and a true problem solver.

Dr. Kimberly Mahoney
Assistant Professor
University of New Haven, West Haven, Conn.

Kim Mahoney has contributed to the industry over the last few years in a rather non-traditional way. As an instructor in several sport management programs around the country, she has been able to train the next generation of venue managers.  She has also served as the lead author of the IAVM-sponsored textbook: Public Assembly Venue Management: Sports, Entertainment, Meeting, and Convention Venues.  Mahoney also authored the IAVM Blueprint: Event Management. 

Pam Matthews
Executive Director
IEBA, Nashville

Matthews began her career in the entertainment industry at age 15 as a runner for Mid-South Concerts in Memphis. Today, she serves the live entertainment industry as Executive Director of one of its most influential trade associations. Matthews toured as an accountant for KISS and Ozzy Osbourne in the ‘80s and was part of the Pace Concerts team that designed, constructed, and managed Starwood Amphitheatre in Nashville. After 12 years with The Judds and Wynonna as their director of Touring and Vice President/Treasurer of their business corporations, Matthews became General Manager of the Ryman Auditorium in 2000. Matthews was named IEBA’s executive director in 2013. The 47-year old organization has doubled its membership under Matthewss' leadership, and its annual Conference has sold out the past two years.

Tricia McNamara
General Manager
Brisbane Entertainment Centre, Queensland, Australia

Tricia (Trish) McNamara started at the Brisbane Entertainment Centre 28 years ago in the Accounts Department.  She progressed to the role of running the in-house Event Marketing operation. She was then promoted to Event Manager running all Front of House operations before being promoted to General Manager in 2007. Her road to the pinnacle of one of Australia's pre-eminent live entertainment and sporting arenas is an inspiration to not only women, but also any young person in our industry with aspirations. A member of the Venue Management Association (VMA) for most of her career and, by association, the IAVM, she has been a Member of the Board of the VMA for the past 4 years and a strong supporter of the organization.

Lita Mello
Recreation Division
K&K Insurance Group, Fort Wayne, Ind.

Lita Mello joined K&K Insurance in the motorcycle retail program in 1982. She then worked insuring fairs and festivals as an account executive; she was subsequently promoted to vice president of the Dealership Division, before being named vice president of the Venues & Gaming Division, where she was responsible for underwriting and production. During her tenure, written premium increased to over $90 million, making it the largest division within K&K at that time. Mello’s most recent promotion was to the Recreation Division as Senior Vice President. She is experienced in program development, contract review, underwriting, sales, and marketing; she serves as a role model of professionalism and leadership for many colleagues within K&K as well as within the sports and recreation industry.

Mary Milne
Vice President of Guest Experience (Tampa Bay Lightning)
Amalie Arena, Tampa, Fla.

Mary Milne was directly responsible for developing and implementing Amalie Arena’s Blue Ribbon Service training and One Team Voyage programs that drive its service-oriented culture at the Lightning and Amalie Arena. Her vision and initiatives have led to the Lightning being ranked #1 in the 2016 ESPN Ultimate Rankings, a 2016 finalist for Team of the Year with Sports Business Journal and a 98 percent Service Shop score for Lightning games (increase of more than 10 percent from before she took over). Many of those awards are from her vision of creating world-class guest experiences for fans attending all events at Amalie Arena. She also developed a robust rewards and recognition program that drives the full-time and part-time staff to perform at a high level.

Michele Montague
Assistant General Manager & Vice President, Events
Verizon Center, Washington

Michele Montague is the epitome of influence both in the District of Columbia and in the industry overall.  She has been an adjunct professor at George Washington University for the past five years, teaching both an undergraduate and graduate class each year.  Her classes are very popular with students, but what is even more impressive is the number of students that stay in touch with her over the years. At Verizon Center, she schedules the vast array of events that are held in the building and oversees event production, the box office, and takes the lead on many high profile events such as AIPAC.

Teri Orton
General Manager
Hawai‘i Convention Center/AEG Facilities, Honolulu

Leader. Determined. Acumen. Communicator. Aqua. Aloha. Since AEG took over management of the facility, and under Teri Orton’s direction in January 2014, the venue has celebrated three record setting year-over-year improvements financially. In 2016, the facility finished with the best bottom line in its 18-year history turning a profit, its first, of $612,000.  HCC has consistently maintained a 98-percent customer satisfaction rating while making numerous enhancements including expanding into the sports market with the purchase of volleyball and basketball courts (out of the box for a convention center), providing free Wi-Fi in common areas, major furnishing upgrades with hues of aqua always with keeping customers at the forefront.

Marla Ostroff
EVP of Arts and Theatre and Strategic Accounts
Ticketmaster, New York City

Marla Ostroff started with Ticketmaster 29 years ago as GM of Boston, then took over as SVP of the Northeast before becoming executive vice president. She has shown strong leadership and mentoring skills and loyalty to the company. She loves that every day is different and that Ticketmaster is constantly reinventing itself. The technology she can bring to her client base is ever evolving.

Beth Paul
General Manager
Bon Secours Wellness Arena, Greenville, S.C.

Just two years after being named general manager of Bon Secours Wellness Arena, Beth Paul saw her vision to put the Arena and Greenville, S.C., on the national tour map come to fruition. She secured a date on the Pearl Jam Tour (April 2016), sold out 3 Garth Brooks shows (November 2016), negotiated to be the opening city for the Bon Jovi tour (March 2017) and brought March Madness back to Greenville.  She headed the team that successfully won the bid for the SEC Women’s Basketball Tournament once the NCAA post-season ban was lifted following the removal of the Confederate flag. When the NCAA withdrew all post-season tournaments from North Carolina, Paul saw a great opportunity for Greenville to shine on an even larger scale with the acquisition of the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament, First and Second Rounds.

Patricia (Patty) Gaytan Perez
Executive Vice President of Administration, Monterrey Security
Monterrey Security, Chicago, and U.S. Bank Stadium, Minneapolis

Patricia (Patty) Gaytan Perez is driven by her passion for mentoring and developing women leaders, especially in industries that are traditionally male dominated. Her “super power” lies in simplifying the seemingly complex into actionable plans that align values, people and processes. Perez has been an integral part of Monterrey Security’s successes at U.S. Bank Stadium, including hiring over 1,400 people from some of the most underserved communities in the Twin Cities. She implemented this model of investing in the facility’s local community from her work with Monterrey at Soldier Field in Chicago.

Pam Plageman
Regional VP, Spectra by Comcast Spectacor, Venue Management & Food Services & Hospitality

At Spectra by Comcast Spectacor, Pam Plageman oversees 16 properties (in six states) in the Central Division for the company. She joined Spectra 10 years ago as the Food & Beverage General Manager at the Duke Energy Convention Center (in Cincinnati), where she secured an annual citywide program that increased F&B revenues by more than $16 million over a 10-year period. As a Regional Vice President, she mentors her general managers with frequent in-market visits, as well as coaches her team members with regular calls. Plageman began her career in large convention hotels and has enjoyed 30 successful years in the venue management and foodservices and hospitality industry.

Debra Rathwell
Senior Vice President
AEG Live, New York

Debra Rathwell has run the New York office for AEG for about 15 years. She also brought such great international tours as Justin Bieber, American Idol, Carrie Underwood and Celine Dion to AEG. She has been in the Billboard Top 100 Women in the Music Business consistently. She consistently and successfully has built AEG touring from the ground up. Innovative booking of everything from top rock acts and Broadway to creating tours for successful reality music series like “American Idol” and “Dancing with the Stars.” Before that, she was the lead booker for Metropolitan Entertainment during the peak of their success.

Ellen Schwartz
Assistant General Manager
Los Angeles Convention Center

Ellen Schwartz’s leadership was integral to the Los Angeles Convention Center’s (LACC) successful transition from public to private management. Her vision, business acumen, knowledge of the industry, and ability to motivate others resulted in unprecedented success for the facility since privatization. As a talented professional with 25-plus years in the trade show and event industry, Schwartz consistently increases revenue while retaining and building client relationships. Under her leadership, marketing initiatives for digital and online presence increased. With over 25 years of experience, she created a new user-friendly website, enhanced all social media channels and implemented interactive floor plans that help event planners visualize and strategize their ideas. Schwartz has been instrumental in solidifying the partnership between LACC and the Los Angeles Tourism and Convention Board (LATCB) resulting in a 5-percent increase in occupancy in FY 2015-2016; surpassing the competition and industry standards. Additionally, she increased filming revenue by 56% in FY 2015-2016 and grew rent revenue by 11 percent in FY 2015-2016. Her efforts directly contributed to over $13 million in operating profit since AEG assumed management.

Tricia Silliphant
Director, Venue Programming and Live Events
Air Canada Centre, Toronto

Tricia Silliphant is the woman behind the success of Canada’s premier sport and entertainment venue, Air Canada Centre. She has been with Maple Leafs Sports & Entertainment (Air Canada Centre’s parent company) for 18 years and has been the driving force behind its incredible programming. The year 2016 was particularly successful as Silliphant and team pulled off the busiest year yet. They hosted over 3.2-million fans over 200 ticketed events including: the 2016 NBA All Star Weekend, the NHL’s World Cup of Hockey, three consecutive nights of WWE events, three nights of the Tragically Hip’s final tour, two days of League of Legends Summer Finals, and four Adele shows.  With the Toronto Raptors reaching the NBA Eastern Conference Finals for the first time, she was tasked with re-scheduling Pearl Jam’s sold-out show in May. The show was successfully moved and band members even sat courtside for the game that caused the scheduling conflict.

Lorraine Spadaro
VP of eBusiness 
Delaware North Companies & TD Garden, Boston

Lorraine Spadaro has offices out of TD Garden Boston and is a significant influencer in the community. When large arenas make investments in anything from ticketing technology to a LED ribbon board digital display, parking systems to CRM and analytics applications, chances are they put a call in to Spadaro first. She is a mentor to many and a frequent panelist at SEAT and other industry technology conferences.

Karen Swan
Director of Group Marketing
Target Center/AEG, Minneapolis

Karen Swan is the maven of group sales for the live entertainment industry and has almost 40 years’ experience in the industry.  She is known for her dedication to her clients in the Twin Cities and her willingness to share her knowledge and experience with others.  She has mentored countless other professionals in group sales and life over her stellar career in venue management. She began her career in 1974 at the Met Center in Bloomington, Minn., working for Gigi Pilhofer and Bob Reid.  When Target Center was getting ready to open in 1990, Tim Leiweke approached Karen about coming to work for Ogden Entertainment.  She hasn’t looked back serving as the only Director of Group Sales for the venue.

Sue Walker
Associate Director
State Farm Center at the University of Illinois, Champaign

Sue Walker personifies impactful expertise, savvy, talent and character. She has always been collaborative and professional in her dealing with the university athletic department and is a tremendous asset for the university as a whole. State Farm Center is considered a true community jewel for Champaign-Urbana, Ill., and Walker has been elevating its operation for nearly 30 years.  Her influence over the course of her tenure on her colleagues, her building and her community are immeasurable. In an industry filled with career moves and change, Walker has been a cornerstone of leadership and a role model for women and men in our industry, managing over 3,000 events during her tenure at State Farm Center, and serving as a leader to thousands of employees, student interns and mentees.

Donna Westmoreland
Chief Operating Officer
I.M.P., Inc., Washington

Donna Westmoreland, Chair Emeritus of the Board, is the Chief Operating Officer of I.M.P., Inc., the independent Washington, D.C. concert promotion company that owns the legendary 9:30 Club, operates Merriweather Post Pavilion and the historic Lincoln Theatre and produces many more concerts annually.  After working for Wynton Marsalis and managing live music venues and events, she spearheaded the marketing, nonprofit and sponsorship components of the groundbreaking Lilith Fair festival, which introduced Breast Cancer Prevention Partners to thousands of concertgoers. Westmoreland served on the Board of Directors from 1999 to 2002, and rejoined the board in 2009. She has stayed active on behalf of the organization throughout, speaking as part of the Strong Voices program and organizing the BCPPs’ annual East Coast fundraising event, Beyond the Pink—A Hike to Prevent Breast Cancer.

Elaine Williams
Director of Sales
New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center

Elaine Williams has been a member of the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center (MCCNO) Sales team since 2007.  Prior to 2007, Williams had been on staff with Aramark, MCCNO’s former Food and Beverage provider since 1997. It has most recently been under her guidance as Director of Sales that the MCCNO has returned to pre-Hurricane Katrina occupancy levels and firmly re-established New Orleans as a major meetings industry destination. Williams has helped to attract over one million convention center visitors to New Orleans, representing an economic impact to the destination of over $3 billion between 2009 and 2016.

Thank you to our 2017 sponsors:


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Spectra Lands Three New Accounts
Posted: 10 May 2017, 5:30 pm

Ford Idaho Center, Nampa, one of three new Spectra contracts announced this week.

Spectra released three big, back-to-back announcements about new accounts it recently landed at three new venues, and it also signed an extended contract with a facility it currently serves.

The company specializes in venue management, food services and hospitality and ticketing and fan engagement under the business name Spectra by Comcast Spectacor.

Since the beginning of the year, the Orange County Soccer Club, Irvine, Calif., has been working with Spectra on goals for its food and beverage offerings.

The soccer team recently was rebranded, so bringing on a concessions partner with deep knowledge about venue operations was important, said Kelly Salmieri, vice president of marketing and community relations for the soccer club.

“We were looking for a national partner that understands what it takes to run a venue and what it means to elevate the fan experience,” she said. “Bringing local vendors in is important to us.”

Spectra is charged with hiring local food and beverage concessionaires, and it fit the bill for the soccer team’s first game May 6, Salmieri said.

“We just opened our first home opener at the Orange County Great Park in downtown Irvine,” Salmieri said. “From this first game, fans really enjoyed burgers and turkey legs. They also had a corn-on-the-cob stand.”

The soccer club has seen a lot of changes recently after it was sold to James Keston last September. The club was rebranded from the Los Angeles Blues into the Orange County Soccer Team under the United Soccer League.

“We make it a priority to create new and exciting food concepts that infuse local signature flavors, and attempt to source locally when it is possible,” Spectra SVP of Business Development and Client Relations Todd Glickman said.

The company also recently signed to provide food and beverage service to the Charleston (S.C.) Gaillard Center.

Spectra will provide preshow dining at the 1,800-seat Maratha and John M.Rivers Performance Hall along with specialty bars throughout the lobbies and catering and bar offerings to the patron boxes.

It also will provide cuisine for various events at the center’s 16,000 sq. ft. of ballroom, exhibition and banquet space.

“Charleston’s rich culinary traditions and the low country’s bounty of locally-sourced ingredients provide our team with inspiration and enthusiasm as we design our plans for the Gaillard Center,” Spectra’s Regional Vice President John LaChance said in a statement.

Additionally, Spectra will now manage and provide ticketing and fan engagement at Nampa, Idaho’s City Civic Center, where they had already been servicing Ford Idaho Center, which includes Ford Amphitheater, Ford Arena and Ford Idaho Horse Park.

“After a successful first year of providing the same services to the Ford Idaho Center, Nampa City Council was compelled to hire Spectra to manage its 640-seat civic center,” said Ember Gutierrez, marketing director, Ford Idaho Center. “It’s a really, really nice building and seemed like the perfect tie-in for us.”

The deal also included an extended contract for the company to manage Ford Idaho Center, which means Spectra will now manage and provide ticketing and fan engagement to both venues until Sept.30, 2027.

“They are a terrific community partner and, with their integrated services of managing the venue and providing ticket sales, they continue to seek new opportunities for generating excitement around our facility,” said Nampa Mayor Bob Henry in a statement.

The Ford Idaho Center arena can seat up to 9,500 people, and the Ford Amphitheater can hold up to 10,600. Both are less than five miles away from the civic center.

“With it being less than five miles away, it’s a great little venue that offers all the things we don’t offer,” Gutierrez said.

The center also has a horse park and sports center.

“By adding the civic center to our roster of facilities, we can create new solutions that will unlock incremental value for our clients and their customers at both properties. We look forward to new opportunities that will generate excitement to the region,” Tim Sovona, general manager of the Ford Idaho Center, said in a statement.

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AEG Makes Friends (Arena)
Posted: 10 May 2017, 4:00 pm

AEG will operate Friends Arena, Stockholm, Sweden.

AEG Facilities is expanding its range in Stockholm, Sweden, once again. In a deal with Arenabolaget in Solna AB and property company Fabege, the Los Angeles-based AEG Facilities will manage Friends Arena in Stockholm as part of a long-term, 10-year agreement.

The area’s largest multipurpose stadium — located in Solna, just five miles north of Stockholm — seats 50,000 and has a capacity of 75,000. It is home to the Swedish National Soccer Team, the AIK Soccer Club, as well as concerts, family shows, sports and other special events. It is also an opportunity for AEG to develop a powerful portfolio of venues that could help nurture talent and events from start-up to mega-success.

“There are two stadiums with retractable roofs in this market — one run by AEG since 2003, Tele2Arena, which seats 30,000 and has two home teams — and this one, which was built by the Swedish Soccer Association,” said Marie Lindqvist, CEO of AEG operations in Sweden. “We were contacted by the owners who wanted to know if we wanted to run Friends along with the four other arenas we operate in the area.”

Friends Arena joins the other venues operated by AEG in Stockholm, which include Tele2Arena, Ericsson Globe (16,000 cap.), Söderstadion (13,000 cap.), the Hovet (9,300 cap.) and the hockey stadium Annexet (3,700 cap.). AEG has run the last four venues since 2008 and Lindqvist said from the company’s point of view, it was an opportunity to add to their portfolio of venues with different capacities in the market.

Klaus Vikström, executive vice president of Fabege and a board member of Arenabolaget, said his company approached AEG about the opportunity when the former operator, France’s Lagardere, had taken Friends Arena as far as possible in the market. “The competition in Stockholm is very strong and someone who controls all the arenas has a better platform to place the right concert in the right area,” he said. “We didn’t see [AEG] as competition, we saw an opportunity for them to take it to the next level.”

With the vast reach AEG has, Vikström said the company can help make Friends Arena competitive in a market that extends beyond Stockholm to Copenhagen, Hamburg and beyond. “Europe is much smaller than the states in terms of land, and in order to compete Europe-wide and worldwide, AEG makes it a much stronger attraction to big concerts and managers.”

AEG Facilities will provide full management services to Friends Arena, including event programming, vendor venue services, advertising and marketing, while overseeing event-day operations. In addition, Lindqvist said AEG can now also offer packages to potential sponsors that will span more than one venue. “We can offer one or more venues for bigger events, for international championships when we work very closely with the city to offer this opportunity to take advantage of the modern arena infrastructure we have,” she said. “In developing sponsorships we can offer premium opportunities to have a lot of content at adjoining arenas.”

Lindqvist concurred that while AEG runs multiple arenas in Stockholm, the competition in the market is all over Europe and the addition of Friends makes their offerings in the city much stronger by presenting a variety of opportunities for potential partners and clients. For instance, the ability to offer sponsors and events more than one venue at a time makes sense for AEG, which hosts 350 events a year across all six buildings. “We can sell across the arenas with a very good mix of sports, music and family shows,” said Lindqvist of the deal, the terms of which were not made public.

As with any such consolidating action, Vikström said the AEG deal will also help reduce some redundancies and create efficiencies. “To keep costs at the right level if you have two grass lawns you don’t need two cutters,” he said. “You don’t need two CFOs, and if you look at the other side, there’s a bigger economic benefit and a big win for an operator with a fantastic variety of the best and most modern arenas in the country."

Friends Arena is anchored by the Mall of Scandinavia, the biggest mall in the region at more than one million square feet, and next to the newly developed city district, Arenastaden, which has more than a million visitors a month and one million square feet of shops.

Perhaps the biggest advantage of the new deal for AEG is a unique opportunity to work with their many partners to help acts and events play their way up from the smaller venues to Friends Arena over time. “That’s how we work,” she said. “For example, in eSports and EDM we have acts that started out in the smaller venues and have grown into the bigger arenas. That’s our plan for Friends as well.”

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Ticketmaster's Verified Fan A Success
Posted: 10 May 2017, 2:25 pm

Promo for Harry Styles North American tour powered by Ticketmaster's Verified Fan.

Ticketmaster’s Verified Fan is being touted as a hit, despite some disappointed Harry Styles fans.

Styles, one of the members of the U.K.’s biggest selling boy band, One Direction, announced a solo album and tour April 28. The Live Nation-produced concerts are scheduled at 13 smaller North American venues, starting Sept. 19, at The Masonic, San Francisco, and ending Oct.14, at Comerica Theatre, Phoenix.

The total amount of tickets is roughly 45,000, which is not many available seats considering Styles and his band played stadiums. Hundreds of thousands of people vied for those 45,000 tickets, according to Ticketmaster, which was inevitably going to lead to heartache and questions for Ticketmaster as The Verified Fan onsale was the only way to purchase tickets for Styles' North American tour dates.

Some fans were so upset with the process that Ticketmaster felt compelled to issue an “open letter” to quell the storm. Ticketmaster said it believes 95 percent of tickets went to real Harry Styles fans, with just 2,000 tickets having so far been reposted for resale. “That means less than five-percent of all tickets are posted on resale sites,” said the letter, telling disappointed fans, “even if you did everything right and pushed the button exactly at 10 a.m., so did hundreds of thousands of others.”

“Ticketmaster Verified Fan has seen a really great response from both fans and the industry, so things are going well,” said David Marcus, EVP, Head of Music, Ticketmaster. “To date, we’ve had about 1.5 million fans register using Verified Fan.”

“Harry was looking at a massive amount of demand relative to a comparatively tiny amount of supply,” explained Marcus. “Our goal was to maximize the number of actual fans who got tickets, and we succeeded. Ninety-five percent of the tickets we distributed went to actual fans. Without the Verified Fan platform, we would have expected a vastly different volume of tickets would have been acquired by scalpers and bots, leaving fans with no choice but to buy tickets from resellers at inflated prices.”

When Venues Today checked secondary market websites, numerous sellers had Harry Styles tickets at many different, vastly inflated, price points.

“We warn fans against speculative or fake tickets that show up on secondary ticketing sites and aren’t real," said Marcus. “ Sometimes we even see tickets posted on secondary sites before on sales happen. Ticketmaster never allows spec tickets on TM+ (Ticketmaster’s secondary ticketing platform). Having said all that, the purpose of Verified Fan is not to eliminate resale. The purpose is to identify fans who we think, based on our data, are more likely to value the experience of the show over the arbitrage of flipping a ticket. We know that 95 percent of Harry Styles tickets went to fans and we saw less than five percent of tickets posted on resale sites. That suggests to us we were very successful here.”

“For Harry Styles, there were a few hundred thousand fans trying to buy 45,000 tickets,” he said. “Demand was intense and we discussed the best way to manage the inevitable disappointment that would result. Remember, this was the only way to buy a ticket for this under-play tour. As a result, everyone involved felt that this fanbase would be more disappointed if they didn’t get a shot at tickets, and so we collectively decided to give every Verified Fan an opportunity. In this unique instance, with this unique fanbase, it seemed like the fairest way to manage the onsale."

Brandon Paredes, Box Office manager, Comerica Theatre, is a fan of Verified Fan. Comercia Theatre is a 5,000-seat venue.

“With only so many tickets to go around there was always the possibility that fans who wanted to see Harry Styles would not get tickets,” said Paredes. “That is no reflection on Verified Fan. The concert here at Comerica sold out right away and some fans missed out on tickets. We’re a small venue.”

“From the consumer's perspective, Verified Fan is a way to try to prevent scalpers from loading up the system with their bots and making it impossible for people to purchase tickets,” he said.  “There were lots of people who signed up for the presale on Verified Fan. They (Ticketmaster) tried it (Verified Fan) out and I think it was pretty successful, but I wasn’t the one who tried to buy tickets and didn’t get them.”

“We were getting calls 10 minutes after the onsale and had to tell people that unfortunately the tickets had already all been sold,” said Paredes, who thinks the future is bright for Verified Fan, regardless. “It seems like Verified Fan solves a problem.”

Marcus said that the response has been overwhelmingly positive and fans are happy to register since it helps to remove bots and scalpers from the ticket-buying equation.

“We recognize that it’s a new process for fans and we’re working hard to educate and build awareness on how it works,” said Marcus. “Now, this doesn’t fix the supply and demand challenge and doesn’t mean every fan will get a ticket, so it’s still upsetting not to get tickets to a show. But Verified Fan does level the playing field so a fan is up against another fan – instead of a bot – who wants the same ticket.”

So far, Verified Fan has supported a little over 30 tours, including Ed Sheeran, Twenty One Pilots, Linkin Park, Depeche Mode, Harry Styles, Norah Jones, and The 1975. The stable of future shows and artists committed to using Verified Fan is just as rich with heavy-hitters. “We’re excited about what we have in the pipeline, but can’t share any specifics right now,” said Marcus. 

“At its core, Verified Fan helps content owners like artists, promoters, and venues make sure their tickets are more likely to be purchased by actual fans,” he said. “That is a fundamentally new level of control that previously wasn’t available to artists and their touring partners.

Marcus said that Ticketmaster has also tied the program to a “gamification” layer that allows tours to reward their most engaged fans – biggest social promoters, music purchasers, etc. – with better access to tickets. “The ability to activate a fanbase and engage them in the tour and music release in return for a better seat is a brand new opportunity,” he stressed.

Kevin Neal, Hawks Tickets, does not think Verified Fan will thwart many determined secondary brokers. “First, no one knows, but it’s assumed that Verified Fan blocks someone from using the same IP address to sign up for the program,” he surmised. “Okay, but that’s not going to stop anyone from creating various accounts using different names and different IP addresses. There are plenty of programs that change your IP address every few seconds. It’s all going to depend on how deep Ticketmaster’s safety-nets go.”

Neal compared Ticketmaster’s attempts to stop the scalpers and bots to a chess game. “Every time Ticketmaster makes a move to make sure the tickets get into the right hands, the people buying up all the tickets are going to have their next step. It’s a game that will go forever.”

Ticketmaster is rolling out Verified Fan to artists for whom it makes sense given the demand profile of their tour, the risk of abuse by bots and scalpers, and the expectations of the fan base. “We expect the platform to evolve dramatically over the coming year, and are excited for what we expect it to become,” said Marcus.

“When we turn our attention to who is buying the ticket and prioritizing that over when they are buying the ticket, ie., how fast do they get through the shopping experience, we can delight fans and make ticket-buying fun again,” Marcus added. “That is the future of Verified Fan.”



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Hot Tickets for May 10, 2017
Posted: 10 May 2017, 2:00 pm

Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers playing to a packed-house at Phillips Arena, Atlanta. (Photo credit: Donna Permell/Prime Phocus)

After a three-year hiatus from touring, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers hit the road April 20, kicking off their 40th Anniversary tour at Chesapeake Energy Center, Oklahoma City, Okla. The iconic rock and roll band made two appearances on our Hot Tickets chart this week with a show at Philips Arena, Atlanta, and Frank Erwin Center, Austin, Texas. With ticket prices ranging from $50-$150, the Live Nation-promoted events had a combined gross of nearly $3 million with over 26,000 fans attending both shows. While dates are still being added to the tour, Petty and his Heartbreakers are currently scheduled to be on the road through mid-September. Their next stop is May 12, at Scottrade Center, St. Louis, Mo. Petty has announced that this may be the band’s last big tour, so catch them while you can.

Coming off of his epic 20-month One World Tour, Ricky Martin is joining the ranks of artists such as Celine Dion, Jennifer Lopez and Britney Spears as he launched his All In Las Vegas residency at Park Theater at Monte Carlo April 8-15. The six-show run grossed over $1.7 million and saw an attendance of nearly 20,000 fans. The Latin superstar, his band and 18 dancers will continue to entertain audiences in Las Vegas through Sept. 23.

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 April 11-May 9.

15,001 or More Seats

10,001-15,000 Seats

5,001-10,000 Seats

5,000 or Fewer Seats

1) The Weeknd
Gross Sales: $1,613,232; Venue: American Airlines Center, Dallas; Attendance: 15,144; Ticket Range: $160-$34.50; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: May 4; No. of Shows: 1

2) The Weeknd
Gross Sales: $1,526,289; Venue: Rogers Arena, Vancouver, British Columbia; Attendance: 15,856; Ticket Range: $149.34-$28.78; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: April 25; No. of Shows: 1

3) Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
Gross Sales: $1,390,720; Venue: Philips Arena, Atlanta; Attendance: 14,510; Ticket Range: $149.50-$49.50; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: April 27; No. of Shows: 1

4) iHeartCountry Festival
Gross Sales: $1,369,500; Venue: Frank Erwin Center, Austin, Texas; Attendance: 12,430; Ticket Range: $400-$25; Promoter: iHeartMedia & Entertainment; Dates: May 6; No. of Shows: 1

5) Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
Gross Sales: $1,340,655; Venue: Frank Erwin Center, Austin, Texas; Attendance: 12,053; Ticket Range: $149.50-$49.50; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: May 2; No. of Shows: 1

1) Tini - Got Me Started Tour
Gross Sales: $649,869; Venue: Mercedes-Benz Arena, Berlin; Attendance: 8,835; Ticket Range: $108.86-$43.50; Promoter: Concert Concept Veranstaltungs; Dates: April 18; No. of Shows: 1

2) Jason Aldean
Gross Sales: $564,973; Venue: Allen County War Memorial Coliseum, Fort Wayne, Ind.; Attendance: 9,453; Ticket Range: $70.25-$35.25; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: April 28; No. of Shows: 1

3) Florida Georgia Line
Gross Sales: $543,245; Venue: Denny Sanford Premier Center, Sioux Falls, S.D.; Attendance: 8,490; Ticket Range: $73-$27.75; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: April 20; No. of Shows: 1

4) Panic! At The Disco
Gross Sales: $526,883; Venue: Infinite Energy Arena, Duluth, Ga.; Attendance: 9,884; Ticket Range: $59.50-$39.50; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: April 12; No. of Shows: 1

5) Rock Meets Classic 2017
Gross Sales: $503,235; Venue: Hallenstadion, Zurich; Attendance: 1,899; Ticket Range: $395-$136.90; Promoter: Good News Productions; Dates: April 18; No. of Shows: 1

1) Backstreet Boys
Gross Sales: $1,768,079; Venue: The Axis at Planet Hollywood, Las Vegas; Attendance: 12,414; Ticket Range: $294-$34; Promoter: Caesars Entertainment, Live Nation; Dates: April 12-15; No. of Shows: 3

2) Ricky Martin
Gross Sales: $1,734,939; Venue: Park Theater at Monte Carlo, Las Vegas; Attendance: 19,630; Ticket Range: $250-$59.50; Promoter: Live Nation, MGM Resorts; Dates: April 8-15; No. of Shows: 6

3) Backstreet Boys
Gross Sales: $1,709,983; Venue: The Axis at Planet Hollywood, Las Vegas; Attendance: 12,725; Ticket Range: $294-$34; Promoter: Caesars Entertainment; Dates: April 19-22; No. of Shows: 3

4) Eric Church
Gross Sales: $1,417,915; Venue: Mohegan Sun Arena, Uncasville, Conn.; Attendance: 16,841; Ticket Range: $99-$59; Promoter: WME , In-house; Dates: April 27-28; No. of Shows: 2

5) Backstreet Boys
Gross Sales: $1,200,019; Venue: The Axis at Planet Hollywood, Las Vegas; Attendance: 8,977; Ticket Range: $294-$34; Promoter: Caesars Entertainment, Live Nation; Dates: April 26-28; No. of Shows: 2

1) Wicked
Gross Sales: $1,778,912; Venue: Orpheum Theatre, Minneapolis; Attendance: 20,017; Ticket Range: $195-$25; Promoter: Hennepin Theatre Trust, Broadway Across America; Dates: April 12-16; No. of Shows: 8

2) Matilda
Gross Sales: $1,493,124; Venue: Fox Theatre, Atlanta; Attendance: 25,122; Ticket Range: $125-$30; Promoter: Broadway Across America; Dates: April 18-23; No. of Shows: 8

3) The King and I
Gross Sales: $1,228,119; Venue: David A. Straz, Jr. Center for the Performing Arts, Tampa, Fla.; Attendance: 17,266; Ticket Range: $90-$39; Promoter: In-house; Dates: May 2-7; No. of Shows: 8

4) Finding Neverland
Gross Sales: $835,021; Venue: Fox Cities Performing Arts Center, Appleton, Wis.; Attendance: 13,139; Ticket Range: $125-$45; Promoter: Broadway Across America, In-house; Dates: April 17-22; No. of Shows: 8

5) Kinky Boots
Gross Sales: $793,475; Venue: Ruth Eckerd Hall, Clearwater, Fla.; Attendance: 10,361; Ticket Range: $125-$35; Promoter: In-house; Dates: April 11-16; No. of Shows: 8

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


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Live Streaming of EFL and NFL Announced
Posted: 10 May 2017, 2:00 pm

English Football League ref Simon Hooper, soon to be streaming on EFL's iFollow platform. (Photo courtesy: EFL, Daniel Hambury/EMPICS Sport)

(Editor's note: This story previously appeared in

The English Football League (EFL) just made it a lot easier for their overseas fans to keep up with the action. On Wednesday, it unveiled a new live streaming platform called iFollow. The platform represents an opportunity for EFL fans outside the U.K. and Ireland to view their favorite teams' games live.

The announcement comes on the heels of research conducted by the EFL which showed over half their fans reside in the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

“The new iFollow platform represents a potentially significant new revenue stream for clubs, while enabling enhanced engagement with existing fans now living abroad,” said EFL Chief Executive Shaun Harvey in a statement. “iFollow will also present the EFL with an important opportunity to stimulate the interest of new groups of supporters who follow our clubs overseas which, in turn, will help support the growth of our competitions on the international stage.”

Streaming will begin at the start of the 2017-18 EFL season and subscribers will pay an annual fee to watch the up to 46 live games. Not all of the league’s teams have opted in to the service and those who haven’t will provide their own digital services.

The live streaming of matches will be available from the start of that season in conjunction with a new digital presence for clubs via official websites and apps. NeuLion developed the integrated streaming service alongside U.K. company Realise, which built the club websites.

Not to be outdone by their European counterparts, The National Football League (NFL) continues its splicing of digital rights as it locked in a global partnership with Verizon to live stream the Jacksonville Jaguars and Baltimore Ravens from Wembley Stadium in London next season. The overseas Week 3 match-up on Sept. 24 is part of the NFL’s recurring International Series.

As the the league’s exclusive digital partner, Verizon will live stream the game across its platforms including AOL, go90 and Complex. The lone game cost Verizon $21 million, according to the Wall Street Journal, which also first reported the live streaming news.

The Ravens and Jaguars will also be available on the NFL Mobile app (web/mobile) to Verizon customers along with the NFL app on Xbox One and Windows 10. Television stations in both of the local markets will also air the game in addition to Sky Sports in the U.K.

Over the past two seasons, the NFL has continuously experimented with different live streaming partnerships, first inking a one-game deal with Yahoo for a regular season match-up again in London during 2015. Twitter and the league partnered around a live streaming package this past season, with the social platform paying a reported $10 million across 10 regular season games. For this upcoming year, Amazon recently became the league’s live streaming partner for a reported $50 million.

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Merch Decorates Playoff Arenas
Posted: 9 May 2017, 7:00 pm

Seats covered with free T-shirts for fans at Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland. 

Fans bathe in a sea of gold in Nashville, as the Predators slide through the National Hockey League (NHL) playoffs inside Bridgestone Arena, Nashville, Tenn. Then there’s the yellow and white that blankets the wine-colored seats in Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland.

As NHL and National Basketball Association (NBA) teams march through their respective playoff pushes, in-arena promotions step up to provide something special for fans to mark the occasion, such as a T-shirt draped across every single seat in the arena.

“It helps transform the arena bowl into something different,” said David Kells, senior vice president of booking for Bridgestone Arena. “It is a different time for the fans and players and it is another exciting visual when you come out for morning practice and now the arena is gold. You know it is the big-time now.”

The Predators take the opportunity to embrace the T-shirt laden arena on social media throughout the day while giving fans that ‘aha’ moment when they enter the bowl and see the blue seats transformed. For those tuning in on television, the all-gold offers a distinctive look, one that then spills into the city the next day. “After the fact, you see people at the gym or walking the street and they have the ‘I was there kind of shirt,’” Kells said.

unspecified1.jpegT-shirts wrapped around seats at Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland, for fans to discover.

In Cleveland, at Quicken Loans Arena, the Cavaliers may be hitting the hardwood and not the ice, but they have the same strategy, if not stepped up. The Predators have done T-shirts for the opening game of each of its playoff series, while the Cavs have done a different shirt for every home game of the playoffs. “When you hit the playoffs, everyone’s energy shifts,” said Tracy Marek, Cavaliers’ chief marketing officer. “Everything is more intense and we work hard on unity. We want to make sure our building looks really together. If they are all dressed in the same shirt, there is a camaraderie that comes with that.”

Marek said the Cavs work hard to ensure there is a home-court advantage and that the giveaway shirt doesn’t look anything close to the color the opposition will wear. “We work really hard so our building looks different.”

But it is more than shirts. The Cavs drape both a shirt and a rally towel on every seat for every game. And they’ve also added PixMob LED light-up bracelets at times, as have the Predators. “Our guest services teams come in here really early sometimes and take the time to go seat by seat,” Marek says. “It doesn’t look like it was tossed there, they lay them out so every seat has a presentation. It is an amazing environment to look at.”

The Cleveland shirts follow the team mantra of “Defend the Land” and tie to social media and other marketing pushes that have become a key piece of Cleveland’s fan base. “I think it is really about being able to come into the building and set a standard,” she said. “We are very proud of our fans and energy.”

In Boston, the Bruins, now eliminated from the NHL playoffs, opted to do something a little different from the T-shirt norm, going with rally towels every game and a large flag that passes through the lower bowl during player introductions.

Chris DiPierro, Bruins’ director of marketing, said the gold rally towels provide that interactive element, along with a consistency for fans since they have done the towel for every playoff game since at least 2009, including two Stanley Cup Final runs. With gold seats already in TD Garden, Boston, DiPierro said they simply hand the towels out at the turnstiles.

Whether towels or T-shirts, the promotional piece not only unifies an entire building, but it provides teams an added sponsorship opportunity. “We put different partners on the towels each game,” DiPierro said. “Our existing partners definitely like to jump on when we get to the playoffs and there is also an opportunity for new partnerships. Our guys will be out looking for new partners and this is a good opportunity to get involved in the excitement of the playoffs.”

Marek said the Cavs’ corporate partnership team has a selection of partners “super excited” for the opportunity to get involved and the marketing team has promotional ideas and collaborating partners planned out well in advance. “They want to be connected most to the fans,” she said.

Across both the NBA and NFL, the allure of the playoffs gives everyone a chance to step into the game. From additional celebrities jamming on the in-arena stage in Nashville to the 12,000-strong outside Quicken Loans Arena in the Gateway Plaza, just to be near the game, playoffs bring another level of intensity. And from yellow shirts in Oakland’s Oracle Arena to the white-out seen in Houston’s Toyota Center or the gold in Nashville and yellow in Cleveland, teams love the look of an entire arena bathed in unity.

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UMG’s Monaco Moves to LiveStyle
Posted: 9 May 2017, 5:00 pm

05-10-17_ChrisMonaco_200x145v21.jpgChris Monaco

Music and entertainment industry veteran Chris Monaco has joined LiveStyle, Inc. as chief revenue officer, brand partnerships and sponsorships. Previously, Monaco spent four years at Universal Music Group where he was senior vice president, strategic marketing and brand development/head of new business.

Before his employment at Universal, from 2008 to 2012, Monaco was the senior vice president, music and entertainment for Octagon. Prior to Octagon, Monaco was director, entertainment marketing, Pernod Ricard.

Monaco will be based in LiveStyle’s Beverly Hills, Calif., offices.


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Priciest Naming Rights Deal Ever?
Posted: 9 May 2017, 3:10 pm

LA Rams/LA Chargers are eyeing most lucrative naming rights deal in history.

With the St. Louis Rams and San Diego Chargers both relocating to Los Angeles’ new $2.6-billion Inglewood, Calif., stadium, which will open in time for the 2019 National Football League season, speculation has begun on naming rights.

With bidding reportedly at least $30 million a year for a minimum 20-year deal, according to the Sports Business Journal, this would be the priciest naming rights deal in the history of the NFL.

It is being reported by numerous sources that 62.5 percent will go toward paying for the stadium, with the remainder split equally between the two teams.

“The amount is in line for naming rights,” said Eric Smallwood, managing partner of Apex Marketing Group, Inc., located in St. Clair, Mich. “They won’t have problems obtaining interest.”

As of last week, AT&T, which has naming rights to the San Antonio Spurs, San Francisco Giants and Dallas Cowboys venues, as well as a sponsorship at Atlanta’s new Mercedes-Benz Stadium, was the only company considering the offer. The telecommunications giant is considering relocating to El Segundo, which is about five miles from the new stadium.

Naming rights deals are typically not disclosed and the Rams’ organization declined to comment for this article. However, the New York Times reported that AT&T’s deal with the Dallas Cowboys stadium was between $17 and $19 million per year. Also, CBS Sports revealed that Mercedes-Benz is paying $324 million over 27 years or $12 million per year for the Atlanta Falcons stadium, and U.S. Bank’s naming rights for the new Vikings Stadium in Minneapolis is $220 million over 25 years, or $8.8 million per year.

“The price and longevity of the naming-rights deals is a function of the marketing inventory and that’s business-to-business and business-to-consumer assets,” said David Carter, professor of sports business at the University of Southern California’s Marshal School of Business and executive director of USC’s Sports Business Institute. “In Los Angeles, it won’t be limited to one or the other.”

Part of a 300-acre mixed-use complex, the Inglewood stadium will have a capacity of 80,000 and is slated to host Super Bowl LV in 2021. The stadium is being financed by Rams’ owner Stan Kroenke and will be leased by the Chargers for their home games.

“With MetLife Stadium (in East Rutherford, N.J.), they reportedly signed a deal for $17-to $20-million for 25 years, so that may be the new bar,” said Smallwood. “The San Francisco 49ers are reportedly receiving $220 million for 20 years [from Levi’s], which is believed to be the second highest [naming-rights deal].”

According to Carter, comprehensive deals that include transportation, technology or financial services will reach both B2B and business-to-consumer segments, and naming rights sponsors tend to be more eager to jump on board during the build-out phase of a stadium to optimize the amount of money coming in from the naming-rights deal.

“To do this early on, and add the naming-rights sponsor into elements of the stadium, makes tremendous sense and ensures value,” said Carter. “Still, I don’t think it’s a one-size-fits-all; with new buildings, there is tremendous buzz, so the earlier sponsors align with that, the better. The notoriety begins when the shovel goes into the ground.”

Carter added the timing may be less important with buildings already constructed.

In terms of marketing inventory, it’s difficult to tell if the deal is a good one until all the elements are revealed.

“If naming rights are being sold for a modest amount, it may be more about the value of cornerstone partnerships, like the naming of the field,” said Carter. “By the same token, if the deal is worth a lot, the sponsor may be giving up marketing inventory. You can’t get caught up on the number until you know what the marketing aspects look like.”

Carter said something else to bear in mind is, with today’s rapidly advancing technology, sponsors have to be more mindful of the stadium’s useful life.

“The life of today’s venues is becoming shorter in terms of the ability to generate revenue for the team and owner due to rapidly changing technology,” he said. “With facilities needing upgrades every five to 10 years, there is an ongoing investment that’s needed, so naming-rights partners need to keep this in mind.”


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Fancam Expanding Footprint
Posted: 9 May 2017, 3:00 pm

Fans caught on the FanCam at Madison Square Garden, New York City.

Fancam founder Tinus Le Roux knows everyone loves to view photos of themselves. He’s built an entire business around that fact, modernizing the way arenas and stadiums take pictures of fans during the most exciting of moments, leveraging those experiences for extended fan engagement.

The South African-based business has existed since 2011, but recently upgraded equipment to automate its process of taking a photo of every single patron in a venue at one time and allowing fans access to view the gigapixel-level image after the contest, sharing snapshots on social media and drawing in fans who have never experienced the venue.

How it works

image12.jpgMounted FanCam at Minute Maid Park, Houston.

Fancam mounts cameras at fixed locations within a venue. Its two arenas—Madison Square Garden, New York City, and TD Garden, Boston—have multiple cameras hidden on the underside of the jumbotron, while baseball stadiums—SunTrust Park, Atlanta; Minute Maid Park, Houston; and AT&T Park, San Francisco—require fewer cameras to grab the angles. From there, said Michael Proman, Fancam North America managing director, they can capture images of every fan at a single moment in time and then stitch those pictures together into one image.

That image gets loaded onto a team’s site, allowing fans to interactively move through the image, tag themselves and view friends. “We have found that 80-to-90 percent of the traffic going into (view) Fancam images were people not actually at the event,” Proman said. “From a brand and property perspective, that is a value.”

With these permanent installations, arenas and stadiums can provide face-level detail of every fan at a scale that allows Fancam to provide services at 81 home baseball games or every single event that runs through Madison Square Garden, whether a Knicks or Rangers game, a concert or a family-friendly ice skating show.

In Houston, the Astros have installed Fancam as a way to connect with fans. “The Houston Astros are committed to providing our fans with the best possible in-venue experiences,” said Anita Sehgal, senior vice president of marketing and communications. “As technology continues to evolve we have focused on making fan memories more personal and sharable. We encourage personalized content and Fancam is one of many initiatives that encourage fans to personalize their game-day experience.”

The sponsorship angle

From the start, Fancam has worked with key rights holders to make this a reality. From the days of manually sending photographers to capture events to the modern automated system, Fancam has had the backing of sponsors of teams and buildings that enjoy the added exposure. For example, fans viewing the image the next day online see the Chase logo at every turn in the New York arena or the Putnam logo when viewing the Boston-based images.

“Rights holders are the biggest influencers and this is something they want to activate behind,” Proman said. “Our relationship is directly with the Celtics, but Putnam has told them Fancam is something they value.”

Le Roux said the benefit remains threefold: giving teams further engagement with fans, offering sponsors a way to activate the brand beyond the in-game experience and allowing fans a way to relive an experience.

“People like pictures of themselves,” he said. “To take a picture of the whole crowd, a large amount of people will have a look. If you can create selfies for 20,000 people, and add context for them, that is a very simple premise.”

What’s next?

Fancam knows it can do more with its technology than provide fan engagement. Already it has a few ideas in the works, everything from speeding up the process so that fans get prompted to view photos during halftime of a basketball game to mining photos for brand data.

“When you take a 40,000-megapixel image, it exposes the good, bad and ugly of what is going on in an arena,” Le Roux says. “It drives a level of intelligence for teams or brands they currently don’t have.”

The images can eventually do anything from allowing brands to see how many fans have a Bud Light in their hand at any given point, to seeing how many fans actually have their eyes fixed on the jumbotron during an advertisement. “If you add a bit of AI, you can learn a lot from pictures,” Le Roux said. “It is interesting and things that weren’t available before.”

But while Fancam’s team continues to explore the potential of expansion, right now the focus remains on the 24-hour turnaround of the in-game images. And doing so in more venues across North America, which Proman says will expand with announcements of additional sites on the horizon. The model sees growth, Le Roux said, because brands want to engage with fans at scale and fans—simply put—enjoy a good photo of themselves.

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Lowly Guardrail Becomes Design Feature
Posted: 3 May 2017, 2:00 pm

Elegant glass railings highlight the Valhalla Club experience in U.S. Bank Stadium, Minneapolis.

What was once considered a requirement—railings—simply for fall protection has turned into an opportunity to showcase design within new stadiums and arenas.

“It was once an afterthought, and I think in recent years architects are using the guardrail to further specific design elements within the building,” said Dan Stachel, vice president of SC Railing Company, the Minneapolis-based firm that has handled railing needs for roughly 80 percent of all new professional stadiums and arenas built in the last decade. “We can serve a structural purpose for a building and allow architects to show off creativity.”

SCRailing_SunTrustPark_Picket_Railing_Custom_Half_Round_Table_Supports.jpgCustom railings at the new SunTrust Park, Atlanta.

Take SunTrust Park, Atlanta, with its black and steel railings in a premium area behind home plate, bronze stainless steel cables across other premium spaces or inlay glass. “Anytime we get an opportunity to work on something unique,” Stachel said, “every one of our 25 engineers enjoys the challenge.”

SunTrust Park, which opened in April, includes 41,000 linear feet of railing, equating to more than seven miles of aesthetically driven railing design. The building includes 20,000 linear feet of aluminum vertical picket and track for clear views of the field, LED-lit handrails on the Chop House bridge and mezzanine, 5,500 linear feet of clear-tempered laminated glass and 3,300 feet of drink rail to set ballpark concessions on while still in full view of the field.

Outdoor venues provide the most opportunity for railing work as railings cover the field-facing direction and behind the fans, but no matter the location, SC Railing puts a focus on custom, working with architects to pick materials and combinations that can result in up to 40 different railing styles in one stadium. As architects have started to turn to railings as another way to infuse design into the venue, Stachel said material choices can help give off the right aesthetic, whether a renovation—such as Madison Square Garden—or a new build.

Target Field, Minneapolis, for example, opened in 2010 and created a new style of rail in MLB. “Nobody wanted to see a railing, but when you sit down at Target Field it has a crimped mesh infill,” Stachel said. “When you sit in the seating bowl and watch a game, you see silver rails pop against the green seats. It certainly provides a design element to the building and gives the patron the feel of higher end. If you are sitting by glass and expensive mesh, you know you are not at a high school baseball game.”

Railings provide an opportunity for designers to “dress up venues where structures are more budget-driven.” At Avaya Stadium, San Jose, California, the use of ornamental metal and perforated panels give the building a higher-end feel despite its budget-conscious bones.

Using glass infill can also help reduce the look of other materials. In Madison Square Garden, New York City, the sandblasted glass helps conceal precast concrete to give the impression of a more “finished space.”

The obvious big trend in railing systems right now, Stachel said, comes in the use of stainless steel systems that accommodate glass, with or without graphics and sponsorship built in. With point-supported glass, venue designers no longer have to rest it in a channel on the floor and can get creative with the finishes.

LED lighting provides another growing trend, as seen recently in the National Football League at Levi’s Field, Santa Clara, Calif., and U.S. Bank Stadium, Minneapolis. “People are getting more creative beyond a light inside a pipe,” Stachel said. “You will see some progress there.”

And as WiFi becomes more important, railings play a key role in placing technology in and around the seating bowl.

For SC Railing, the next big projects include everything from Little Caesars Arena, Detroit, to Banc of California Stadium, Los Angeles, and DC United’s new soccer venue in Washington, D.C., to future major professional venues coming online in California.

Each venue will bring a specific requirement, not just in safety, but also in aesthetics. Railings now work to meet both those needs.

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EXCLUSIVE: Randy Phillips Is Back With (Live)Style
Posted: 3 May 2017, 1:00 pm

LiveStyle's President & CEO Randy Phillips

News broke last fall that Randy Phillips would helm beleaguered electronic music juggernaut  SFX Entertainment, and ever since the industry has been waiting to see how and if Phillips, as President/CEO, could turn around the lifestyle/live entertainment company, which operates about 100 events worldwide along with digital lifestyle platform Beatport and ticketing firm Paylogic. In early December, SFX re-emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy (restructuring a reported $400 million in debt) as LiveStyle, and the firm remains the largest producer of electronic music festivals in the world. Since then, the typically outspoken Phillips has, for the most part, remained uncharacteristically silent.

Until now. In an exclusive in-depth interview with Venues Today, Phillips talked about how LiveStyle (producer of such major festival brands as Electric Zoo, Mysteryland, Tomorrowland, and many others) would move forward with its substantial, far-flung assets and resources.

SFX Entertainment was already a familiar name to the entertainment industry long before it became associated with electronic music. Entrepreneur Robert F.X. Sillerman first employed his capital-raising and consolidation skills in the radio business in the 1980s before focusing on the concert promotion industry in the ‘90s, rolling up regional promoters in rapid succession in building the nucleus of what is now Live Nation, the world’s largest promoter. Beginning in 2012, SFX began buying up electronic music fest producers and promoters—once again paying high multiples of annual earnings—and went public with a valuation of more than $1 billion before a much publicized collapse that sent SFX into bankruptcy and Sillerman into a quagmire of legal entanglements.

Phillips, too, is a well-known entity. He was a successful manager and label exec before spending 13 years helming AEG Live, the live entertainment division of sports and entertainment firm Anshutz Entertainment Group. Phillips’ eye for executive talent, aggressive nature, and appetite for risk helped power AEG Live to quickly become the No. 2 promoter in the world, a position it still holds under the AEG Presents banner. An early believer in the festival opportunity in North America, Coachella became the world’s most successful music festival due in no small part to Phillips’ faith and willingness to commit resources to its founder Paul Tollett (president of AEG Live subsidiary Goldenvoice).

In LiveStyle, Phillips is out of the gate with a much more powerful portfolio than he enjoyed at AEG Live in the early going, so the executive’s challenges are different, if no less daunting. In the beginning, Phillips’ first hurdles at LiveStyle were financial. “We’ve put our heads down and just plowed straight ahead to clean up the company,” he said, “which we’ve done, and now we start building it. We came out of the Chapter 11 proceeding with no debt and the assets intact.”

In building his team and a corporate structure, Phillips’ named former UMG exec Charles Ciongoli as chief financial officer. He then turned his attention to the perception challenge, both within and outside the company. He began referring to LiveStyle’s core genre as “EM”—electronic music—as opposed to the more traditional term “EDM,” or electronic dance music. He solidified his relationship with LiveStyle’s board and two principle owners, Doug Forsyth, who oversees a private equity fund owned by insurance conglomerate Allianz; and managing partner Andrew Axelrod, head of investor relations at Axar Capital.

We’ll let Phillips tell the rest. In this excerpt from the VT interview, the executive candidly weighs in on his priorities at LiveStyle, the state of its businesses, the future of the company, and what’s next. (The entire Q&A will appear in the next issue of Venues Today).

VT: So what was appealing to you about this job?

RP: The same thing that appealed to me when I took the AEG gig originally. People look at AEG Live now as this No. 2 juggernaut with Live Nation, but when I went in there, it was struggling, almost a failure, in terms of how it started. I like a challenge, and I love the idea of building something up. At some point in your life it’s not just about the money. There’s a “life’s too short” file, to do things you really don’t want to do, or deal with people you don’t want to deal with. In this case, I loved the challenge and I loved the two owners. I’m very close to the board, they’re really cooperative, and we have a very transparent, open relationship. And because there are no politics in this company, it gives me the opportunity to really build on what we have.

VT: LiveStyle is a different scenario in that you do have significant assets and brands already in place, whereas at AEG Live you were, in many ways, starting from scratch. It does seem that much of your challenge now is a perception issue.

RP: That’s why I had to change the name. Every time I said “SFX” to anyone I got the sign of the cross, like with a vampire. I'm surprised people didn’t wear garlic around their necks when they met with me. Remember, in November we were in negotiations, and didn’t know when we would actually emerge from Chapter 11, so I had to be ready with a name, because you only get one grand opening. I had to make sure it was clearable worldwide, the whole thing, and that was a daunting task.

VT: You’re taking a different approach now than at AEG Live, where you did a lot of talking, especially in the early going, promoting the brand. Now it seems you’re under the radar a bit.

RP: Yes, that was a decision I had to make. At AEG, at the beginning, there was a lot of negativity about whether Phil Anschutz was committed to the business, would he stay in the business, and I had to counter that by creating the impression that we were larger than we were. In this case, I had to do the opposite, because Bob Sillerman did too much press. The problem was SFX and its origins, and all the press, the cover of Billboard, that article, was too much smoke and mirrors. So, for me to make this company work in this reincarnation, I had to break the mirrors and get rid of the smoke.

VT: Talk to me about that process.

RP: Let me give it to you exactly straight. When I got into the company, I brought Chuck Ciongoli with me, because this is a huge job, more than one person could do, so while I'm strategizing he had to create processes that didn’t even exist here. Process counts. You’ve got to believe in your numbers, or you can’t even make decisions.

The first thing I did was [LiveStyle’s] biggest division is in Europe, and that’s the ID&T company in Holland (leading international dance music event producer operating in 19 countries on four continents), where we are the dominant player in the festival space, and Holland is the biggest festival market in the world. I went to the Netherlands and sat down with all the founders of all the different festivals, Wouter Tavecchi, Rocco Veeboer, and Jan Lok. They’d been through hell with the bankruptcy, and they were also quite wealthy from the buyouts from Sillerman. I needed to figure out how to get them re-engaged, to believe in the future that I was going to create for this company, and for them.

Instead of  them coming to me, I went to them. That was important. Chuck and I, as a management team, we manage by walking the factory floor, we don’t sit on thrones. While I was over there, I also met with Michiel Beers, one of the founders of Tomorrowland, arguably the biggest festival in the world. They were very alienated from SFX, so I had to sit down with them and break the ice, with Michiel, and their COO, Bruno Vanwelsenaers. It started off very cold, and warmed up over time.

Then I met with our i-Motion company in Germany, which has a massive festival called Nature One, very successful, but no one really paid attention to them. So I had to forge a relationship with CEO Oliver Vordemvenne; these were people I did not know at all going in. So it was a lot of breaking the ice in the beginning, which was really important for us to be successful. There was no corporate culture at SFX, I had to create one from scratch.

VT: How would you describe the culture when you came in?

RP: A lot of scared people wondering if they were going to have their jobs the next day. A lot of people living paycheck to paycheck, wondering if the company was going to survive. And a lot of entrepreneurs wondering if they were going to be able to buy their companies back on the cheap after taking a lot of money out of the company.

VT: At AEG Live your approach was to let talented people do what they do, as opposed to micromanaging. Is that the approach at LiveStyle? You’re not going to be able to step in and run Freaky Deaky, right?

RP: No, I can’t. First of all, Europe is 8,000 miles away. You make your decision when you hire somebody, and if you have to babysit a senior executive, then you made a bad decision when you hired them. In our business, the people who really excel are entrepreneurs at heart, so you’ve got to incentivize them, encourage them, and then you’ve got to clear a runway for them to succeed. It’s not rocket science.

VT: Assess your business today.

RP: Tomorrowland [Brussels, Belgium] is up, introduced a second weekend, and has sold both of them out; that brand is stronger than ever. The Dutch, ID&T, are on fire; their events, Mysteryland, Sensation, Q-Dance, Awakenings, Back2School, all have come back strong, because the founders are focused on their events again, and growing them. The same thing in Germany, so Europe is really strong overall. Paylogic, the ticketing company, which does Tomorrowland and all the ID&T events, is doing incredibly well, the technology is very advanced. Paylogic is outperforming its projections, and that’s because the events are doing so well.

Beatport, the ultimate online destination for EM, had a major turnaround, and I’d like to take credit for it, but I didn’t really do it. The folks at Beatport that are running it turned it around, and it’s making really good money again, and engagement and subscribers have grown dramatically over the last year.

In North America, we didn't have as many powerful assets as we have in Europe. Issues had to be dealt with, and there’s good news and bad news. With React in Chicago, Freaky Deaky  [Toyota Park] and the New Year’s Eve show [Stephens Convention Center, Rosemont] underperformed, but Spring Awakening [Soldier Field] is exploding this year, and way ahead of the last two years in terms of  how it’s performing. That festival is going to grow and grow, it has a path now to be the second most important music event in Chicago next to Lollapalooza, you can feel it happening.

In New York, we had a hiccup and a huge success. Electric Zoo on Randall’s Island, Labor Day, is coming back really strong. When you look at EM festivals in America, you have Electric Daisy in Las Vegas, Ultra in Miami, and Electric Zoo in New York; those will be the three pillars of massive electronic music festivals in America. The Electric Zoo brand is coming back bigger than ever. The hiccup in New York was an event that got approved while we were still in bankruptcy and I wasn’t in the company, or else I probably would not have approved it, and that was Mysteryland in Bethel Woods, N.Y. It was poorly booked, the lineup didn’t make a whole lot of sense, it kind of alienated the core fan, and the venue does not work. As beautiful as the site is, there are not enough hotels in the area, so it becomes strictly a camping festival, and that didn’t fit Mysteryland. The brand and the site were off, it didn’t make sense, so I pulled the plug on that about two weeks ago.

VT: Why does this genre intrigue you as a live entertainment producer?

RP: Someone said, “you’re the king of EDM now.” No, I’m not the king of EDM. I’m an executive running a company whose core is electronic music festivals. You have to adapt.

VT: Is there a danger in associating so strongly with one specific genre?

RP: Yes. Even when I was sitting at the desk as CEO of AEG Live, I remember reading Billboard with Sillerman on the cover and thinking, “this cannot work, you cannot be in one genre of music, especially if you’re in the live business.” You can do it at a label, but you can’t in live; you have to be broader than that. Now that we’ve cleaned this company up, and its functioning well, and I have a lot of capital to reinvest to build this because the owners believe in what we’re doing; the next thing is I’ve got to reinvent it. That’s the strategy and the path we’re looking at now.

VT: Can you give me a hint about how you will reinvent LiveStyle?

RP: No one respects you more than I do, but no, I cannot give you the family secrets.

VT: So you have specific ideas about what you want to do?

RP: Yes. We are out there aggressively in that area, making some moves now. Even though I’ve been a very big supporter of [AEG Live Chairman] Jay Marciano his whole career, and all my former colleagues at AEG are still some of my best friends; and, believe it or not, [Live Nation CEO] Michael Rapino and I have become great friends since we’re not competing any more, and I have nothing but awe for what he’s done at Live Nation. This is still a very competitive business, and I do not want them to know what I’m thinking.

VT: Do you see LiveStyle entering the tour promotion game?

RP: The festival business is like the venue business: the deals with the artists are flats, there’s generally no back-end participation, you have the food and beverage and parking, a lot of the ancillary revenue streams; there’s real residual value. Touring is a lease, it’s like renting a car. Once you’re done, you turn it in, there’s no real residual value other than the cash flow. It’s a very risky business and the margins are very thin. I will always be a tour producer at heart because I love it, and if an artist really wants me to do their tour because they believe in my vision and marketing skills, I may entertain it. We certainly have the capital to do that, and the board would support me. But that’s not our core business, nor do I plan on competing on a wholesale touring perspective with Live Nation or AEG Presents, that’s not the plan going forward. But, just like the title of the Justin Bieber film that I co-produced: Never Say Never.

VT: What did Bob Sillerman do right in building SFX?

RP: He was a master at raising money. He had so much success with SFX 1 and 2, one being radio and the other being the concert business. Now when he did [SFX 3], sure he was able to raise a lot of money. I think some of the problems were; one, he had all these disparate assets and he was never able to put it all together and create that corporate culture where they all worked in unison. Basically, as hard as he tried—and you have to give him an A for effort—the actual concept of being just one thing—electronic music festival producer — probably doesn’t work in the long term. You have to be more diversified than that.

VT: Do you envision a spin-off of LiveStyle at some point?

RP: I don’t have a crystal ball as to when my owners may want to sell it, or not. They’re private equity players, and eventually they may want to sell it to a more strategic player. But, for sure, we’re going to be building this company for the next three to five years.

VT: What do people in the industry need to know about LiveStyle today with you at the helm?

RP: I want the managers and agents and artists and, obviously, the consumers to support us, because I think it’s important, as I did when I started AEG Live. And that there be more than one buyer, more than two buyers, more than three buyers, in the business. It’s healthy for everybody, healthy for growth. Competition breeds champions, and I want the industry to support us as we build this company.

VT: Are they so far?

RP: Yes.

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Hot Tickets for May 3, 2017
Posted: 2 May 2017, 4:25 pm

Def Leppard plays to a capacity crowd at Van Andel Arena, Grand Rapids, Mich.

Def Leppard hit the road this spring for a three-month trek through North America and Canada, where they will be focusing on cities that they missed in the 2016 tour. The Live Nation-promoted, sold-out show at Van Andel Arena, Grand Rapids, Mich., topped our Hot Tickets chart this week with ticket prices that ranged from $40-$125, grossed nearly $900,000, and treated 10,000 fans to an amazing night of rock-n-roll. The 38 dates in the band’s nostalgia-packed tour include four solo headlining dates, four festival dates, and 30 dates where Def Leppard will team up and share the stage with Poison and Tesla. The English rock band will make their next stop May 5, in Charlottesville, Va., at the John Paul Jones Arena.

Chris Rock launched his first extensive world tour in nine years when he embarked on his 2017 Total Blackout tour. Rock’s long-awaited tour made a stop on our Hot Tickets chart this week after entertaining a crowd of nearly 7,000 fans and grossing over $750,000 at the Mohegan Sun Arena, Uncasville, Conn. The comedian will continue to charm audiences with his quick-witted humor, May 13, at Smart Financial Centre, Sugar Land, Texas.

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 April 4-May 2.

15,001 or More Seats

10,001-15,000 Seats

5,001-10,000 Seats

5,000 or Fewer Seats

1) Mega Mezcia
Gross Sales: $1,832,240; Venue: Madison Square Garden, New York; Attendance: 18,595; Ticket Range: $289-$49; Promoter: Latin Events; Dates: April 11; No. of Shows: 1

2) Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
Gross Sales: $1,426,785; Venue: Bridgestone Arena, Nashville, Tenn.; Attendance: 16,694; Ticket Range: $149.50-$25; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: April 25; No. of Shows: 1

3) John Mayer
Gross Sales: $1,413,563; Venue: Madison Square Garden, New York; Attendance: 14,793; Ticket Range: $119.75-$49.75; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: April 5; No. of Shows: 1

4) Red Hot Chili Peppers
Gross Sales: $1,314,362; Venue: AmericanAirlines Arena, Miami; Attendance: 13,544; Ticket Range: $103-$53; Promoter: Frank Productions, AEG Presents; Dates: April 29; No. of Shows: 1

5) Red Hot Chili Peppers
Gross Sales: $1,225,612; Venue: Philips Arena, Atlanta; Attendance: 13,104; Ticket Range: $103-$53; Promoter: Frank Productions, AEG Presents; Dates: April 14; No. of Shows: 1

1) Def Leppard
Gross Sales: $896,974; Venue: Van Andel Arena, Grand Rapids, Mich.; Attendance: 9,935; Ticket Range: $125-$39.50; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: April 17; No. of Shows: 1

2) Tini (Violetta)
Gross Sales: $767,503; Venue: Hallenstadion, Zurich; Attendance: 6,343; Ticket Range: $180-$62; Promoter: Good News Productions; Dates: April 12; No. of Shows: 1

3) Arijit Singh
Gross Sales: $704,233; Venue: Infinite Energy Arena, Duluth, Ga.; Attendance: 6,877; Ticket Range: $303-$43; Promoter: Royal Entertainment; Dates: April 7; No. of Shows: 1

4) The Chainsmokers
Gross Sales: $657,315; Venue: Alliant Energy Center, Madison, Wis.; Attendance: 9,738; Ticket Range: $67.50; Promoter: Frank Productions, AEG Presents; Dates: April 28; No. of Shows: 1

5) Green Day
Gross Sales: $569,325; Venue: Valley View Casino Center, San Diego; Attendance: 11,068; Ticket Range: $65-$30; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: April 8; No. of Shows: 1

1) Sting
Gross Sales: $844,387; Venue: Eventim Apollo, London; Attendance: 9,860; Ticket Range: $116.09-$77.39; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: April 9-10; No. of Shows: 2

2) Arijit Singh
Gross Sales: $757,755; Venue: Curtis Culwell Center, Garland, Texas; Attendance: 5,194; Ticket Range: $1,499-$39; Promoter: Az and Hiba Entertainment; Dates: April 23; No. of Shows: 1

3) Chris Rock
Gross Sales: $753,454; Venue: Mohegan Sun Arena, Uncasville, Conn.; Attendance: 6,846; Ticket Range: $119-$69; Promoter: ICM, In-house; Dates: April 22; No. of Shows: 1

4) Zac Brown Band
Gross Sales: $744,973; Venue: ICC Sydney Theatre; Attendance: 7,810; Ticket Range: $129.90-$99.90; Promoter: Chugg Entertainment; Dates: April 21; No. of Shows: 1

5) Cyndi Lauper, Blondie
Gross Sales: $613,908; Venue: ICC Sydney Theatre; Attendance: 6,775; Ticket Range: $109.78-$84.47; Promoter: Frontier Touring ; Dates: April 4; No. of Shows: 1

1) Celine Dion
Gross Sales: $8,579,400; Venue: The Colosseum at Caesars Palace, Las Vegas; Attendance: 50,227; Ticket Range: $500-$55; Promoter: AEG Presents; Dates: April 4-22; No. of Shows: 12

2) Wicked
Gross Sales: $3,708,024; Venue: Orpheum Theatre, Minneapolis; Attendance: 39,878; Ticket Range: $195-$25; Promoter: Hennepin Theatre Trust, Broadway Across America; Dates: April 12-30; No. of Shows: 16

3) Rent 20th Anniversary Tour
Gross Sales: $1,767,200; Venue: Boch Center, Boston; Attendance: 19,291; Ticket Range: $98-$48; Promoter: Tremont Theatre; Dates: April 11-23; No. of Shows: 16

4) Something Rotten
Gross Sales: $1,171,428; Venue: Durham (N.C.) Performing Arts Center; Attendance: 19,890; Ticket Range: $160-$22; Promoter: PFM, Nederlander Presentations (New York); Dates: April 4-9; No. of Shows: 8

5) An American in Paris
Gross Sales: $1,150,689; Venue: The Smith Center for the Performing Arts, Las Vegas; Attendance: 14,407; Ticket Range: $123-$25; Promoter: In-house; Dates: April 11-16; No. of Shows: 8

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


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ArenaNetwork Promotes Caplan; Adds Gonzales
Posted: 2 May 2017, 4:00 pm

NatalieCaplanheadshot1.jpgNatalie Caplan

Natalie Caplan has been promoted to the position of vice president of entertainment at ArenaNetwork. Caplan was formerly director of entertainment for ArenaNetwork.

She began her career there 14 months ago. Caplan previously worked for Nederlander Concerts, Los Angeles, for 14 years as director of artist relations at the Greek Theatre.

Caplan assumes the position left vacant when Tina Suca left the company to take a new position with Brooklyn Sports and Entertainment, Los Angeles.



Denise Gonzales

Denise Gonzales has been hired as director of entertainment for ArenaNetwork.  Gonzales takes her new position after working for Live Nation, Los Angeles, for the past seven years. 

For the past six years, Gonzales was project manager of touring where she has worked with agents, managers and Live Nation promoters in booking/routing tours, preparing offers, negotiating deals, and covering shows.  Gonzales will start in her new position May 8.

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Conference centers revamp to provide connectivity
Posted: 1 May 2017, 8:00 pm

Addressing profound changes in how their customers are approaching learning, many conference centers are in a process of reinvention


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Prevent Advisors Adds EVP And Board Members
Posted: 1 May 2017, 6:35 pm

Prevent Advisors, Oak View Group’s (OVG) security and counter-terrorism consulting firm for the sports and entertainment industries, has added three highly respected veteran law enforcement and counter terrorism professionals to its roster of security experts.

United States Tennis Association's (USTA) Michael Rodriguez and ex-Secret Service agent Mark Camillo have joined the firm as board members; Michael Downing, former Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) deputy chief and law enforcement and counter-terrorism expert, will serve as the company’s executive vice president of security. The new EVP and board members join founders Chris Robinette, CEO, and Ben Tolle, COO.

The addition of Camillo, Rodriguez and Downing to Prevent Advisors enhances a group that already includes former LAPD Chief and New York Police Department (NYPD) Commissioner, Bill Bratton, and Peter Luukko, executive chairman of the Florida Panthers.

Chris_Robinette.pngChris Robinette, Prevent Advisors, CEO.

“We live at the juncture of sports security and world class venues and, in addition to having Bill Bratton on the team, our philosophy for bringing in talent was to look at who had unique sets of experiences and could add value,” said Robinette. “First we added Peter Luukko, who is an industry leader. He’s built and operated hundreds of venues over the years and there’s no one who better understands the special challenges of venues than Peter. The additions of Mark, Mike and Michael is a tremendous honor and gives us unmatched depth and expertise in the worlds of law enforcement, counterterrorism and venue security.”

“We brought in Mike Rodriguez for his expertise in dealing with venue security on a day-to-day basis. Mark Camillo’s duties at the Secret Service and understanding of technology will be invaluable,” said Robinette. “Chief Downing’s 35 years of experience will help our architect security programs tailored for today’s unique threats to stadiums and arenas.”

Ben_Tolle.jpgBen Tolle, Prevent Advisors, COO

“We’re living in a world where the threats to public safety are evolving in real time,” said Robinette. “Having this level of expertise and resources gives us the ability to create solutions and outcomes proactively.”

Discussions with Rodriguez and Camillo started in October 2016 and both officially joined the Prevent Advisor’s board last month. Downing started May 1.

Prior to his time with Prevent Advisors, Downing spent the majority of his career with the LAPD, rising quickly through the ranks to deputy chief of police over a 35-year tenure. He is considered a leading global expert  in both public safety and counter-terrorism. Downing regularly works with the Department of Justice collaborating on projects around the world and serves as a fellow at the George Washington University Homeland Security Institute, Washington, D.C.

“After 35 years with the LAPD and the last 10 in counter-terrorism and special operation I recognize that government cannot do this job alone,” said Downing. "They do an outstanding job with hard targets, but as the terrorists move into soft targets, what I’m most interested in is orienting those targets to look at their vulnerabilities and how to reduce risk.”

“We’re looking at everything from small arms attacks to vehicle-ramming techniques, to vehicle bombs to cyber attacks,” he said. “This has been my background, and I think we can leverage that and build some resilience into targets in the entertainment business.”

Downing is particularly concerned with the advent of weaponized drones. “We have to be ahead of the game,” he said. “How to counter these attacks is something we are taking seriously.”

Rodriguez currently serves as director of security for the USTA and the US Open Tennis Championships. In addition to his over 20 years of sporting event security experience, Rodriguez has extensive operational experience addressing terrorism-related issues. Rodriguez also serves as co-chair for the Department of Homeland Security’s Sports Leagues Subsector Council. Rodriguez retired as a detective-sergeant after serving 23 years with the NYPD. He served as a supervisor in the FBI/NYPD Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) directly involved with majjor international and domestic terrorism investigations where he was instrumental in the investigations of 9/11; The East African Embassy Bombings; The Bombing of the USS Cole; and The Anthrax Attack at NBC in New York City.

Rodriguez said that he is bringing 15 years of know-how at the US Open with him. “There’s a lot of commonality between that experience and what Chris and Ben are doing at Prevent Advisors,” said Rodriguez. “One of the things we are high on is looking at how intelligence relates to protecting facilities and how things have changed in the last two years.”

Rodriguez pointed to the April 11 bombing of a bus in Germany that was carrying a soccer team. “By studying the intelligence around that, we can look at risk-mitigation for something similar happening at a facility here.”

Camillo began his career in law enforcement as a special agent in the U.S. Secret Service where he completed a 21-year career that included three separate assignments at the White House. Camillo continued his advancement in the Secret Service being appointed to the position of deputy assistant director and chief technology officer. Camillo held several key positions during his career in major event planning, most notably the Olympic coordinator for the 2002 Salt Lake Winter Olympics. Camillo currently serves on Contemporary Services Corporation's (CSC) senior management team and also serves as an appointed member of the American Society of Industrial Security (ASIS) Global Terrorism/International Crime Council. Camillo’s academic engagements include serving as a distinguished lecturer at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, New York City.

“I come to Prevent Advisors after serving 21 years in the Secret Service and then transitioning to the event security industry,” said Camillo. “This is about creating a new standard for our industry and one that is precisely optimized to keep people safe.”

“The majority of the venues are privately owned and operate with minimal regulations,” said Camillo. “This is the environment we work in. There is an expectation that the guests are in a safe environment and we have to make that happen.”

Camillo also stressed that everything they do at Prevent Advisors has to balance safety, security and access, and that they have to constantly keep “the guest experience at the forefront.”

Prevent Advisors currently advises the 24 members of OVG’s Arena Alliance. “They are the incubator for a best practices development pool,” explained Robinette. “They are the first to benefit.”

Services are also available to non-Alliance venues. Robinette said that the company currently has a number of non-Alliance sports and entertainment venues onboard, plus additional clients outside sports and entertainment such as commercial real estate holding properties.

Prevent Advisors tailors a program that is specific to each client. “We look at the environment and the threat profile for where the venue is located,” he said. “There are common threats to all venues but every client gets a customized solution outcome built specifically for them.”

Robinette said that Prevent Advisors is currently exploring additional board members as they move to other public assembly spaces such as malls and hospitality groups.

“What we’re trying to do is architect a series of solutions which are an extension of, and partner to, the venues,” he said. “We are looking out and beyond for new threats and identifying new solutions so the venue staff can stay focused on day-to-day operations and security. This is very much a partnership.”


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MGM Enters eSports Arena
Posted: 26 Apr 2017, 7:50 pm

Rendering of the new eSports Arena being built in Luxor Hotel & Casino, Las Vegas.

Las Vegas is the latest city to announce construction of a dedicated eSports competitive gaming venue, a venue vertical growing at breakneck speed.

The new multilevel eSports arena will be in Luxor Hotel & Casino, an MGM Resorts International property, on the Las Vegas Strip, where they are ripping out their glitzy LAX nightclub to make way for the new eSports facility. Allied eSports and eSports Arenas are MGM’s partners in the project. Allied Esports portfolio includes facilities in China, Europe and North America.

The arena will feature a competition stage, LED video wall, individual gaming stations, food and beverage, merchandise and a television-quality production studio.

“We watched the growth and excitement around eSports for some time and knew we wanted to get in the game,” said Niklas Rytterstrom, GM, Luxor Hotel & Casino, Las Vegas. “We always want to keep our amenities fresh and offer new things to our guests and, as soon as we met with Allied eSports, we quickly realized they have the knowledge, expertise and a vision for their global network of eSports properties that we wanted to be a part of.”

The project has been in development for a year. Rytterstrom said the new facility is still in the design phase and expects construction to start in early June and the facility to open the first quarter of 2018. The new venue is expected to host eSports tournaments, around two to three a week, in combination with “walk-ins that just want to come play and interact with other eSports fans.”

Unlike eSports Arena’s Santa Ana, Calif., location, and the new eSports Arena that’s being built by the company in Oakland, which operate on a membership model where $10 a month gets the gamer unlimited access, Rytterstrom envisions a different model for the new Luxor eSports arena, with an as-yet undetermined admission fee.

“The community around Las Vegas is important to us, but with 40-million visitors a year in Las Vegas, I think this will be a destination for eSports fans and a must-see attraction,” he said. “We expect a large portion of our eSporting guests will be visitors and are still working on how we will monetize entrance fees.”

Rytterstrom has big food & beverage plans for the 30,000 sq.-ft. space that will hold between 1,000-1,200 people. “There will be two bars as well as a fast-casual restaurant,” he said. The facility will be open seven days a week with the exact hours still to be determined.

Situated in gambling-town Las Vegas, there are also early plans to allow wagering on the eSports events. “We’re designing the space with that in mind,” he said.

“What we’re really excited about is that this is a top-down renovation, multilevel, that will be customized and every square foot will be designed with the eSports fan in mind,” said Rytterstrom.

“This is a larger initiative for the company overall that fits nicely with the interactive gaming opportunities that we’ve introduced throughout the company like the interactive table games we’ve introduced at a few of our resorts,” said Scott Ghertner, executive director, PR, MGM Resorts International. “This is an opportunity and a focus for our business development team.”

Paul Ward is the founder and CEO of eSports Arenas. The company’s flagship venue is a 15,000 sq-ft. space in historic downtown Santa Ana, Calif. The main floor is 13,000 sq-ft., with the rest of the space devoted to production studios, a broadcast room, a greenroom and offices. The space can hold up to 1,000 people. They average one event a week and are open to the public, Monday-Friday. The facility opened in October 2016. The Santa Ana location currently has 1,500 members.

IMG_78793.JPGeSports Arena's flagship Santa Ana, Calif., venue hosting an eSports tournament.

“We adapt to whatever market we are going into,” said Ward. “Here we are in a 1920’s building so we took advantage of the industrial look and kept all the exposed brick. In Oakland, we’re in Jack London Square and we’re designing it to fit in with the rest of the buildings there. In Las Vegas, we are going for a high-end Vegas feel.”

The weekend events can be anything from a $100,000 tournament to a game-launch to a private party. Esports Arenas also provides a turnkey space that can be rented. “It’s audio-visual ready,” explained Ward. “It’s a big source of our income.”

The other big part of the eSports Arena’s revenue comes from sponsorships and partnerships. “There are a lot of brands getting into it and a lot of  money that can be made in terms of distribution of the event,” said Ward. “We’re creative with our partnerships, and we find the middle ground where the economics makes sense that a normal venue would never even attempt.” Sponsors have included Nestle, Dolby, Cup Noodles and Hot Pockets.

Events are broadcast on a service called Twitch TV, which was recently purchased by Amazon for $980 million, and seen by up to two million people. “Twitch TV is the primary place for people to watch video-game content,” he said. It’s free to watch with sponsor’s embedding the logo or message into the content. “There are no commercials like a normal TV show would have.”

Ward foresees an eSports Arena in “every large city in the country” and predicts they will open 12 in the next two years. “We plan to open two new venues every quarter,” said Ward.

Ward is particularly excited about the Las Vegas arena. “This will be true to Las Vegas and be in the spirit of Vegas. It’s bigger than the other facilities and will have a TV-ready production studio,” he shared. “It’s an incredible place and we’re really excited about it.”






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$450-Million Arena Coming to Fort Worth
Posted: 26 Apr 2017, 7:00 pm

Rendering of the new Dickies Arena, Fort Worth, Texas.

The city of Fort Worth, Texas, is prepped and ready to watch the construction of a new $450-million arena slated to open in November 2019. Ground broke on the project last week.

Workwear clothing company Dickies was awarded naming rights for the multipurpose arena for an undisclosed amount of money.

“Dickies, being a Fort Worth company and having that local flavor, was an incredible fit for us,” said Matt Homan, president and general manager of Multipurpose Arena Fort Worth (MAFW), the not-for-profit operating entity of the arena.

Although the dollar amount for the naming rights wasn’t released, the funding for the arena is completely transparent. The city of Fort Worth put $225 million into the project after voters overwhelmingly approved three different user taxes in 2014.

The user fees tax 10 percent of each ticket (approved by 79 percent of voters), a $1 to $2 per day user fee on livestock stalls and pens (approved by 76.9 percent) and a parking fee of $5 per vehicle (72 percent voted yes), according to figures from MAFW.

The remaining $225 million was raised by private funds, Homan said. Due to the way the arena’s funding was compiled, it was vital to have the venue set up as a not-for-profit that will operate the venue’s entities, he added.

“All the dollars we make will go back into facilities,” Homan noted. “It’s an incredibly smart concept that will keep the arena operating in the black and keep the arena operating for many years.”

The arena will seat anywhere from 12,000 to 14,000 people, depending on the event, and the 2,200-space parking garage is expected to open later this year — well ahead of the arena. Additionally, the venue will have 100,000 sq. ft. of exhibition space and will host a projected 120 events a year.

The venue is being built next to the Will Rogers Memorial Coliseum, which will remain functioning when Dickies Arena opens and will continue to serve the equestrian community as a “complement to the new arena,” states the venue’s website.

Stock shows and rodeos traditionally have been held at the coliseum, but that will change when Dickies Arena opens.

Venue officials already have booked some big players for years ahead.

On April 18, the arena announced that Dickies Arena will host the 2022 NCAA first and second rounds basketball tournaments and the NCAA women’s gymnastics in 2020-2022.

“This is another testament to the fantastic partnership that TCU (Texas Christian University) has with the city of Fort Worth,” TCU Director of Athletics Chris Del Conte said in a statement. “Now with the new Dickies Arena coming to fruition, Fort Worth is an incredibly attractive host site for many NCAA Championships, which will certainly benefit TCU student-athletes, coaches and fans.”

Homan expressed excitement about the NCAA deals coming to the venue, and he highlighted that the arena’s bells and whistles will not only accommodate sports teams, but also large concerts.

Although they haven’t booked a headlining act for when the venue opens, they certainly have been in talks with top artists, he said.

“Everything has an intimate feel, from high end finishes to stellar acoustics,” Homan said. “I think the other key is this is going to be one of the nicest arenas in the U.S.”

Rather than building a glass arena, the architects — David Schwarz is the design architect and HKS is the architect of record — and MAFW went with a more colonial feel.

“It sits in the center of the city, and they didn’t want to build a glass box,” Homan said.

Dickies expressed great enthusiasm about having the company’s name on the building.

“We were established in Fort Worth in 1922 as a family-run company and grew to become the world’s leading performance work wear brand from right here in this city,” Dickies CEO Philip Williamson said in a statement. “Today you can find Dickies in more than 100 countries internationally, and yet we are committed to maintaining our headquarters in Fort Worth, just south of downtown. We’re proud that Dickies Arena will redefine what local entertainment means to our neighbors in Fort Worth.”


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Cashless Midway Debuts at Miami Fair
Posted: 26 Apr 2017, 7:00 pm

Magic Money wristbands were necessary for all rides and games at the Miami-Dade County Youth Fair for the first time this year.

A cashless midway, using a new Magic Money LLC RFID (radio frequency identification) chip and software management system on rides and games, was a first for the  Miami-Dade County Youth Fair March 23–April 16.

While attendance was down five percent, from 613,000 to 582,000 in 21 days (closed Mondays and Tuesdays), per cap spending on food and drink was up. Next year, during the March 15-April 8, 2018 event, Magic Money will expand to include food and drink, said Bob Hohenstein, fair manager.

As to the dip in attendance, the veteran theme park, waterpark and fair manager did not point fingers, eschewing the usual weather excuse. “I feel good about the product and services and the interaction with our guests. It was a great fair and a safe fair,” Hohenstein said. “We’ll see what happened when we do an analysis of the financials.”

The major change this year was introduction of prepaid wristbands for use on rides and games. Hohenstein contracted with Brett Enright’s Magic Money LLC to launch the concept, which was then presented to attendees at the Mid-West Fairs Association meeting, which met in Miami and visited this fair.

Enright said he will be announcing several more major fair and festival contracts soon. This was the big debut and was a huge success, he said, with 3.5 million individual scans and 300,000 riders during the fair.

Rides and games were provided by North American Midway Entertainment, which will be involved on the task force considering plans for next year’s fair. Hohenstein said the Magic Money program will probably be expanded to include food, possibly admissions.

“The young people thought the wristbands were cool, a status symbol,” Hohenstein said. Technology today dictates fairs move ahead with innovations like this and the public is educated and ready. The fair set up a large temporary structure to sell wristbands at the front gate and deployed 29 ticket booths throughout the grounds.

scanners300.jpgRide and games operators used scanners the size of an iPhone 7 to admit people.

Questions or issues were fielded by guest relations. “It’s a guest relations opportunity,” Hohenstein said, quoting from his theme park background.

For fair and carnival management, the cloud-based system resulted in real-time data on sales and trends and customers. “The ride company was checking it constantly,” Hohenstein said. “We will continue to work with Brett to make it more and more user friendly.”

Enright pointed out that Magic Money is event management software able to encompass the front gate, access control, food and beverage, and rides and games. It also includes the “first ever ride safety software, Safe Riders,” Enright said. Built into the system is a feature that required a ride had been signed off on its daily safety inspection before any tickets could be scanned. All 98 rides on the N.A.M.E. midway had the Safe Riders feature, one way Enright is customizing Magic Money for the fairs and festivals industry.

It also gave people the ability to reload in line and to use the app to manage credit, he said. It captured an email list of guests. Many more features are in development. Enright likes to think of the old systems at home phones, Magic Money as the iPhone. The concessionaire (he owns Juicy’s) and entrepreneur has been working on Magic Money for four years. “We are always looking for a better way to play and pay at festivals.”

The world is fast becoming a cashless society and this is a natural progression in customer service, in Enright’s opinion. He pointed to Carnival Cruise Lines and the Walt Disney Co., noting cashless systems are nothing new. To those with questions, like ‘what about the customer who loads more money than he spends?’ Enright responds, “What do you do now with the customer who didn’t use his tickets and the fair is over? He has five tickets on his dresser.” Fair policy does not change to accommodate Magic Money.

As to using Magic Money on food and drink, considering the cost increments and taxes, Enright points to the State Fair of Texas, Dallas, which has a cashless food, rides and drinks system and makes $50 million on food and beverage alone – all bought with coupons. “We didn’t create the model, but we designed it for fairs and events,” Enright said.

The per cap on food and drink (without Magic Money) was up 38 cents to $15.59, Hohenstein said. Admission sales through partner Sedano’s Supermarkets, was up 3 percent. Sedano’s caters to the Latin consumer. “Sedano’s gets it,” Hohenstein said.


Food per caps were up 38 cents to $15.59.

New food offerings included the Alaskan Soda Jerk, a stand that was themed like an old-time soda shop at your local drugstore in the Fifties, selling root beer floats and orange fizzes. There were 12 new food items overall.

Admission was $14 online, $10 through Sedano’s, and $14 at the fair. Ride tickets through Magic Money ranged from a high of $1.50 per for one coupon to a book of 55 for $60.

The fair has a longstanding program where every Pre-K-12th grade student in Dade County schools is given one free ticket, the “drag along” system. Hohenstein said that historically, 70 percent of attendance is paid, 30 percent is VIP or complimentary.

Per tradition, the fair booked four major shows. Opening night’s A Tribute to Juan Gabriel with Carlos Daniels was rained out. Jacob Forever was the best attended show. Jay Alvarez and Skillet also drew well. For 2018, the fair is looking at possibly refurbishing the grandstand, allowing them to take more risks and book more shows, possibly including a ticket price.

In Hohenstein’s dreams, there could be some sort of block booking with the South Florida Fair, West Palm Beach, Florida State Fair, Tampa and Strawberry Festival, Plant City, guaranteeing an artist four solid dates over a three month period. Hohenstein recognizes there are unique market aspects not suitable to every act, but if it could reduce costs and benefit the artist as well, he’d like to see it happen.

As to longtime talk of moving the fair to allow Florida International University to take over the current 86-acre plot, Hohenstein said conversation has halted. The university and county don’t have the $250 million such a relocation would cost and the availability of land with parking for 14,000 vehicles on an adjacent basis is scarce. No money, no site to move to, case closed since late October, he said.

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Providence Park Adding 4,000 Seats
Posted: 26 Apr 2017, 7:00 pm

Exterior rendering of the $50-million expansion of Providence Park, Portland, Ore..

With a growing directory of over 13,000 fans on the waiting list for season tickets to see the Portland Timbers of Major League Soccer play in the team’s downtown Providence Park location, the announcement of an additional 4,000 seats coming to the venue will assuage a few anxious supporters.

The Timbers play in a 1926-built stadium remodeled for the team’s move into the MLS in 2011 and will expand on the 21,144-seat venue by going vertical on the stadium’s east side.

Currently downtown streets, light rail tracks and a neighborhood lock down the stadium on three sides, with the Multnomah Athletic Club capping the stadium’s open south end. To create more seats inside what is routinely ranked near or at the top of best stadiums in the MLS lists, designers at Allied Works Architecture decided to go vertical, inspired by the designs of the Shakespearean Globe Theatre, London, and La Bombonera Stadium, Buenos Aires, both strongly featuring upright vertical seating.

FIeldLevelProvidencePark.jpgRendering of the field-level upgrade coming to Providence Park, Portland, Ore.

The privately financed $50-million expansion will create a new street-level colonnade and, what the club calls a modern expansion that will bring more people to the venue for both the Timbers and the National Women’s Soccer League Portland Thorns FC.

The addition of a 93-foot-high covered structure includes four new levels on the expanded east side with three of those created for reserved and group seating to help meet demand. The structure will also make room for a pedestrian-friendly public arcade along Southwest 18th Avenue.

Since the club’s debut in 2011, Providence Park has sold out for every single Timbers regular-season and playoff home match. “Providence Park is one of the most special stadiums in sports,” said Mike Golub, president of business for the Timbers and Thorns FC. “With our proposed expansion, we will enhance the incomparable fan experience and intimacy and provide the opportunity for some of the more than 13,000 members of the waiting list to become season-ticket holders.”

Work on the expansion will start either at the end of the 2017 or 2018 season and open in time for the start of the MLS season in 2019 or 2020. The design completes the original full horseshoe plans of architects from A.E. Doyle and Morris Whitehouse in 1925, essentially finishing a stadium nearly 100 years later.

“The expansion of Providence Park will continue to honor the rich history and traditions of the stadium and city of Portland and marry them with the best of modern stadia,” said Golub.

The club noted that Providence Park’s capacity sits in the bottom half of all 22 MLS clubs and to ensure the stadium’s urban environment remains financially viable the added capacity and community gathering space will better position the venue to attract additional, larger-scale soccer and special events as well as add benefits to other stadium users, such as Portland State University football. The added capacity has the potential to increase the city ticket tax revenue that benefits the City of Portland directly.

Next up includes working with the city and neighborhood associations on the specifics and an initial design-review process. “This proposed project is a win-win for everyone involved, and we’ve been very encouraged by the collaborative work that’s been put into this project to date,” said Golub. “We still have some work to do, but we are actively working with the city and neighborhood association, and everyone is excited by the prospect of an expanded Providence Park and ensuring the long-term viability of this unique stadium.”

The east side of Providence Park was actually a focus of the $40 million 2011 makeover that also removed the multipurpose and baseball awkwardness from what was originally dubbed Multnomah Stadium. The west side boasts the most seats of the venue, flowing toward the north past 24 stacked suites installed in 2000 to 6,000 supporters swaying in the north end atop original wooden benches looking down 35 feet below street level to the tight soccer pitch.

The historic fully enclosed concourse on the west and north ends opens at the intersection of Southwest Morrison Street and Southwest 18th Avenue with a 5,200-sq.-ft. club with covered seating that separates from the street only by iron fencing. The south end, tucked against the drab Multnomah Athletic Club building, includes a food cart patio and a 9,250-square-foot party deck behind the goal.

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Robin To The Rescue
Posted: 26 Apr 2017, 6:00 pm

A fan using the Robin app.

Robin is a music-tech startup that wants to be your personal concierge for concerts and live events. Based out of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, the service’s aim is to get fans tickets they want at face value. It started in May 2016.

Robin is one of only 11 startups selected by the Techstars Music Accelerator Investment Program, headed by Bob "Moz" Moczydlowsky, formerly of Twitter, Topspin Media and Yahoo! Music.

“We started Robin because we believe a great live-event experience has the power to change your life,” said Adam McIsaac, cofounder and CEO, Robin. “Whether it’s a concert, comedy show, sporting event or music festival, the effort of getting tickets to these events has become increasingly painful and time consuming.” Robin’s other founders are Cam Gorrie and Dave Levin.

“There are issues with the primary market, the secondary market, scalpers, bots and every tour has about eight presales associated with it, and it’s become much more confusing than it has to be,” said McIsaac.

Robin’s goal was to re-imagine what the ticket buying experience would look like if there was a way to focus solely on the fan and the consumer experience. “For the consumer, it’s a much better experience because they don’t have to worry about missing out on an event that they love,” he said.

Robin is essentially a reservation platform. Here’s how it works: people can sign up through the Robin website and create an account where they will then curate their personal "bucket list" of artists or events they want to see live, regardless of whether any dates have been announced. From there Robin keeps track of their reservation, and when an artist or event announces a show in their city, the service works directly on the fan’s behalf to purchase their tickets at face value.

Robin acquires its ticket inventory in a variety of ways. They work directly with artists; they partner with promoters to get access; they buy tickets directly from the primary vendors and they work directly with venues as well.

The company makes its money from a convenience fee that’s typically five percent of the ticket but can go as high as 10 percent. Robin stores a user's credit card and there is currently “over $2 million worth of reservations in the system.”

Still in the incubator stage, Robin recently executed two successful campaigns with Canadian bands Arkells and July Talk.

“Arkells announced their Canadian tour in the Fall and were stepping into full-scale arenas for the first time, and it was an opportunity for us to protect the fans and get our name out,” explained McIsaac. “This gave fans a way to avoid the secondary market and scalpers.” Arkells primary tickets were sold through Ticketmaster and Ticketfly.

To stop professional scalpers from getting their hands on Robin tickets, the platform asks fans a few simple questions about the band and their new album. “It’s an engaging way to get proof that it’s a real fan buying the ticket and not a bot,” he said. “Professionals operating on scale will not bother and invest the time to research a band.”

The beauty of Robin, according to McIsaac, is that the services push the tickets at the fans who have expressed interest in their Robin profile so that the fan doesn’t have to keep up with where, when and how the primary tickets will be put on sale. “We don’t just push a long list of events at people,” he said. “We only push what they want to see.” 

The company recently added sporting events and comedy shows to its offerings. “Ideally we want to have deals with the major agencies, promoters, artists and venues to facilitate acquisition of tickets,” he said.

Robin was accepted to be part of the 2017 TechStars program in February. They received $120,000 in investment, mentorship from a vast pool of professionals, support for life and they are in the middle of an intensive 13-week program out of Techstars' new Los Angeles office. This is in exchange for six-percent equity in the company.

TechStars is supported by member companies Bill Silva Entertainment, Era of The Engineer, Harmonix, Q Prime, Silva Artist Management, Sonos, Sony Music and Warner Music Group.

“Robin offers unique solutions to ticketing,” said Jen Nicholas, director, TechStars Music. “Ticketing is a huge problem. It’s an incredibly inconvenient and unpleasant experience.”

“When you use Robin, it’s delightful,” she said. “They’ve taken the ticket concierge concept to the next level. We knew right away there was something there. We wanted to give them a shot to turn the company into something and get the ticketing problem fixed.”

“Robin is a service for people who just don’t have time,” she said. “They make it easy to see who you want to see, and then they email you your tickets. No refreshing pages, no waiting for the moment tickets go on sale, no paying crazy money to a secondary market ticket seller. They make it seamless and lovely.”

Success stories from TechStars’ incubator include Sthero, SendGrid and Digital Ocean. The other members of the TechStars 2017 class are Amper, Hurdl, JAAK, Pacemaker, Pippa, PopGun, Shimmur, Superpowered, SyncSpot and Weav.

“Sign up and try it,” urged McIssac. “It makes the experience of getting tickets simple, painless and easy.”


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L.A. Galaxy Inks Sponsored Tailgating Deal
Posted: 26 Apr 2017, 3:00 pm

L.A. Galaxy's Hornitos' sponsored tailgate party open for business. (Photo Credit: L.A. Galaxy)

Pregaming just got way more intense at L.A.Galaxy games, thanks to a partnership with Jim Beam/Hornitos that has brought in-stadium tailgate parties to StubHub Center, Carson, Calif., for the majority of the Galaxy’s home games in the 2017 season.

Fans interested in starting things off early are now able to enter the venue three hours before game time, where they’ll find live music from California pop band Will Maker and the Red Line, enjoy snacks from food trucks and drink specials during the “LA Galaxy x Jim Beam” and “LA Galaxy x Hornitos” tailgate events.

“The partnership [with Jim Beam] was originally executed mid-way through last year and the tailgate idea was originally part of a loose concept that we developed with Jim Beam/Hornitos that had mutually beneficial objectives,” said Robert Vartan, senior director of partnership sales for the Galaxy and StubHub Center, about the deal brokered by AEG Global Partnerships. “We have an area called the [Jim Beam] Champions Lounge near the locker rooms that are typically a hospitality area for higher priced tickets that are close to the players and that was our priority last year with onboarding Jim Beam.”

With the Champions Lounge activated in 2016, the next pillar of the partnership with Jim Beam was a deal that encompassed the Galaxy and StubHub Center.

The events kicked off Sunday, April 23, at the team’s home match vs. the Seattle Sounders FC. Incentive to arrive early — gates open one hour before general gates on game days — came in the form of $5 Hornitos margaritas and $5 Jim Beam cocktails up until halftime at StubHub Center’s Pitch & Pale, which is in the southeast corner of the stadium.

“For any sporting event or team, the stadium wants fans to come as early as possible and enjoy the property, beat traffic and this is a way for us to work with a partner and provide content and excitement to promote fans coming early, through a specific gate,” said Vartan. “When you walk in there will be Hornitos or Jim Beam depending on the game — sometimes we’ll mix brands — and they’ll provide a drink special and some content.” The best part is that Jim Beam/Hornitos has incorporated the Galaxy brand and look into their style for the lounge.

Vartan said that while the Galaxy aren’t “reinventing the wheel” with the concept — a spokesperson for Major League Soccer (MLS) said they were not aware offhand of any other teams that are doing similar promotions — this pre-party could not have happened without the right partner to provide a fun hospitality event with custom food and drink. “They’ve invested in making the lounge look and feel like a hybrid of them and us,” he said.

Fans do not need to purchase a ticket to enter the tailgate area, which the Galaxy is promoting through its social feeds as well as StubHub’s channels, media releases and on both entities’ websites.

“We’ll keep promoting periodically throughout the year if there’s a food or drink special they want to showcase, and once we see the on-boarding this year, maybe we can do some stuff with retail and their on-premise partnership,” said Vartan, pointing at potential opportunities to get the word out through Jim Beam’s prime accounts at area grocery and liquor stores.

Through three home games the lounge — open to patrons 21-plus through kickoff — has drawn an average of 100 fans. Vartan said the team will need a full season to figure out if it is a break-even proposition, a revenue generator or loss leader. “With the game schedule, game times and matchups, it’s hard to base [potential revenue] off of a few games,” he said. “Our focus is not about the number but about the added fan experience and we’d love to get to a place where you have to line up to get in.”

Though initial numbers are modest, there is plenty of space to expand in the 100 x 150 sq.-ft. outdoor area and Jim Beam — signed on through the end of 2018 — has not set any requirements about the amount of product they expect to move or sales benchmarks. Vartan was not at liberty to discuss the amount of sponsorship dollars being offered by Jim Beam, though he said it was “significant,” and definitely fair market in the category for a deal between a spirits maker and a sports team/venue, “if not slightly above.” As for why the promotion is happening now, Vartan said it comes down to the investment from Jim Beam. “The financial support and having the right brand to tie in food and beverage is the cleanest way to do it and make the content relevant,” he said.

And, not for nothing, though the concept is not totally new, Vartan was also not aware of any other MLS teams with similar promotions. “I’d like to think we’re blazing a trail,” he said.

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2017 MLB Tech Innovations
Posted: 26 Apr 2017, 2:25 pm

Renovated, customized sleeproom at Fenway Park, Boston.

(Editor's note: This story previously appeared in

The MLB season is off and running as the Atlanta Braves, in particular, open technology-infused SunTrust Park. SportTechie recently broke down the most important storylines to follow for the 2017 MLB season and with that, we also wanted to highlight some of the baseball technology companies to watch during the year.

From wearables and virtual reality training to digital media, there are a number of companies making headlines at the intersection of sports and technology.

1) The Boston Red Sox recently partnered with Bedgear for the company to become the team’s Official Performance Bedding Partner, even helping equip the clubhouse with a sleep room designed to improve performance and recovery. Each player was fitted for a customized pillow for optimal sleeping. While Bedgear only has one official MLB partner, it has also worked with the New York Mets, San Diego Padres and Detroit Tigers, among other organizations. The question remains, will the dedicated sleep room translate to more Ws in the win column?

2) WHOOP, which is a wearable and performance technology company, recently conducted the largest performance study with a U.S. professional sports league in Major League Baseball. It then came as no surprise when the league approved players to wear the WHOOP Strap during regular season games this year. As wearables continue to make appearances, how will they improve an individual’s performance, if at all, and could they potentially become a distraction as well?

3) Major League Baseball Advanced Media is upping the ante with its Statcast system as it integrates more advanced metrics into MLB Network and game-day broadcasts, further helping fans better understand what is taking place on the field via a numbers and percentages breakdown.

4) Sports data and wearable company Catapult Sports just announced its first baseball analytics product, which will help decrease players’ risk of injury. One of the industry leaders in the category, Catapult has worked with hundreds of companies across football, basketball and rugby, among others. Expect them to make some headwind in MLB soon as well.

5) 15 Seconds of Fame, a social sharing platform, inked a multiyear partnership with Major League Baseball Advanced Media where it will help deliver video footage and highlights directly to fans. The new MLBAM relationship for the New York-based technology company adds to existing partnerships it has with other professional sports teams and collegiate programs

6) A baseball pitch-training solution developed by Rapsodo entered the marketplace earlier this season. Rapsodo Baseball, as it’s formally called, combines radar and camera technology to capture data in real-time so coaches can review a pitcher’s mechanics and offer immediate feedback.

7) How Twitter’s season-long live streaming partnership with Major League Baseball Advanced Media performs from a viewership standpoint is something to keep a close eye on. Granted, the deal is different from the social platform’s prior relationship with the NFL, but what type of audience will the games attract? 

8) Dubbed the “next generation of Moneyball,” TrinityVR is hoping its DiamondFX platform can transform how pitchers and batters train, except without the added physical stress. For a five-figure investment, TrintyVR outfits an MLB batting cage with the system, giving players hundreds of extra repetitions which equals thousands of new data points for them to analyze. Virtual reality is a tool that is already being leveraged in the U.S., especially football. Perhaps baseball could be the next frontier for alternative VR training.

9) Wearable technology company Motus Global, which has been approved for in-game use during MLB games, partnered with the Baseball Factory this year. The latter company focuses on player development at the high school level and with the new relationship, will utilize the motus THROW device for injury prevention and performance analysis.

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Titans Deal with Levy and Legends
Posted: 25 Apr 2017, 8:00 pm

Nissan Stadium, Nashville, Tenn.

Nashville, Tenn.’s Nissan Stadium has tapped Legends Hospitality, which has offices in New York City and Los Angeles, and Chicago-based Levy Restaurants for its food and beverage program, after letting their concessionaire Aramark go in a dispute that is headed to the courts.

“[This is] a unique partnership with two of the most innovative partners in the industry to advance the food and beverage experience at Nissan Stadium,” said Stuart Spears, the Titans’ senior vice president and chief revenue officer. “We had discussions with numerous players in the industry and felt that the combination of these two provided us the greatest opportunity to raise our service profile, delivering a better experience to our patrons.”

The contract terms, menus and equipment layouts are still being finalized.

“Legends will operate all of the facilities in the public domain, everything that is open to the general public or ticketed general seating, while Levy will be in charge of premium club level concessions and the suites,” said Dan Smith, Legends’ president.

“Our relationship begins immediately,” said Spears. “We have several stadium-wide events this summer and will roll right into football season in August.”

The National Football League’s Tennessee Titans franchise terminated Philadelphia-based Aramark’s contract on April 13, seven years before it was set to expire in 2024, according to The Tennessean. The change was a culmination of the team's dissatisfaction with Nissan Stadium's quality of food, long lines at concession stands and Aramark's inability to address issues identified by the club.

According to The Tennessean, in court, Aramark rejected the organization's claims and argued the team did not have the right to end the contract prematurely. A Nashville judge denied the company's request for a temporary injunction that would have allowed it to continue working at the stadium. Both sides have agreed to arbitration proceedings. According to the Titans, Aramark jeopardized the Titans' beer permit with Metro at the end of 2014 and beginning of 2015 for selling alcohol to minors. The company was put on notice after a July 3, 2015, soccer match at the stadium between the U.S. national team and Guatemala when about a third of Aramark's 300 employees did not show up. This not only resulted in long lines at the stands, but attracted attention on a national level.

Both of the new foodservice providers have extensive experience in the industry, as does Aramark. Legends’ current clients include AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas; Yankee Stadium, N.Y.; the Rose Bowl, Pasadena, Calif.; and Nashville's Ascend Amphitheater. Levy operates in a variety of venues, including Atlanta’s Mercedes Benz Stadium, FedEx Field, Washington, D.C.; and Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles.

Offerings are expected to be revamped to reflect local tastes. “We have very talented executives and operators in our systems already on the ground operating in Nashville, and we’re getting ready for the first couple events,” said Smith. “People will see us do things that are more interactive with the fan base and get them involved with food selection, menu design and give them choices they’ll feel good about.”

“We are working daily with our new partners to create a food/beverage program that can maximize the service abilities that exist or can be developed in Nissan Stadium,” said Spears. “Locally-branded concepts are an important part of both providers’ vision, and we are excited to pursue such opportunities with them.”

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Burke joins Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre
Posted: 25 Apr 2017, 7:00 pm


John Burke

Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia) Convention Centre (the Centre) has appointed John Burke as its new deputy GM. Burke is a senior venue operations professional with over 25 years of experience.

“I am excited to join the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre’s award-winning team,” said Burke. “I'm looking forward to sharing my experience from working across all areas of venue and event management and applying my operational knowledge to help enhance the Centre’s reputation as Malaysia’s premier facility and Asia’s only AIPC (International Association of Congress Centres) Gold Standard venue.”

“Maintaining a venue’s position as a marketplace leader and having an adaptable and flexible mindset will assist us to maintain a competitive advantage as the regional and global competitor landscape continues to evolve,” said Burke. “As such, I am excited at the prospect of applying the collective knowledge I have gained from opening new venues and many years of business events and industry experience in different destinations to the Centre, in order to drive standards of operational excellence and deliver affordable and personalized solutions to enhance the client journey.”

Prior to joining the Centre, Burke was director of operations, Oman Convention & Exhibition Centre (OCEC), Muscat. During the construction and preopening period of OCEC, he also assumed the responsibilities of technical services manager, where he provided operator input on design and modifications. Before his time at OCEC, he was the director of IT at Qatar National Convention Centre, Doha, for four years.  Burke kicked off his career with the NEC Group, where he gained over 15 years of comprehensive IT, technical and operational knowledge. During this time, he was involved in the infrastructure and technical design of Birmingham’s National Exhibition Centre, U.K., the Convention Centre Dublin (Ireland), and LG Arena, Birmingham, U.K.


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Hot Tickets for April 26, 2017
Posted: 25 Apr 2017, 7:00 pm

The Dixie Chicks, the biggest-selling female band in the U.S., started their DCX MMXI world tour April 16, 2016, at Lotto Arena, Antwerp, Belgium, and wrapped up on April 18, at Budweiser Gardens, London, Ontario. Along with Smooth Hound Smith as their supporting act, the country trio ended their DCX MMXII tour on a high note as the final show made our Hot Tickets chart this week with ticket prices ranging from $50-$100 and grossing over $700,000. The Live Nation-promoted event attracted a sell-out crowd proving the Chicks are as talented and fierce as ever.

The hilarious duo of Steve Martin and Martin Short have been entertaining crowds during An Evening You Will Forget tour with intermittent dates that will continue through October 2017. The comedians landed on our Hot Tickets chart this week with their stop on April 23, at Altria Theater, Richmond, Va. The NS2-promoted performance, with special guests Steep Canyon Rangers and Jeff Babko, grossed $400,000 and brought non-stop laughs to a sold-out crowd of nearly 3,500 fans. Audiences experience an evening of stand-up, musical numbers, film clips and quick-witted banter. The comedic duo can be seen next May 18, at the Orpheum Theatre, Minneapolis.

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 March 28-April 25.

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: $2,913,383; Venue: T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas; Attendance: 32,893; Ticket Range: $200-$75; Promoter: Messina Touring Group; Dates: April 7-8; No. of Shows: 2

2) Eric Church
Gross Sales: $1,102,384; Venue: BMO Harris Bradley Center, Milwaukee; Attendance: 17,931; Ticket Range: $89-$25; Promoter: Messina Touring Group, AEG Presents; Dates: April 14; No. of Shows: 1

3) Eric Church
Gross Sales: $1,085,383; Venue: Allstate Arena, Rosemont, Ill.; Attendance: 16,553; Ticket Range: $89-$25; Promoter: Messina Touring Group, AEG Presents; Dates: April 13; No. of Shows: 1

4) Eric Church
Gross Sales: $1,059,369; Venue: CenturyLink Center, Omaha, Neb.; Attendance: 16,533; Ticket Range: $89-$27; Promoter: Messina Touring Group, AEG Presents; Dates: April 8; No. of Shows: 1

5) Eric Church
Gross Sales: $1,042,599; Venue: Staples Center, Los Angeles; Attendance: 16,596; Ticket Range: $89-$15; Promoter: Messina Touring Group, AEG Presents; Dates: March 31; No. of Shows: 1

1) Def Leppard
Gross Sales: $950,640; Venue: Denny Sanford Premier Center, Sioux Falls, S.D.; Attendance: 10,229; Ticket Range: $123-$27.50; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: April 22; No. of Shows: 1

2) Dixie Chicks
Gross Sales: $727,725; Venue: Budweiser Gardens, London, Ontario; Attendance: 8,148; Ticket Range: $102.10-$50.68; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: April 18; No. of Shows: 1

3) Green Day
Gross Sales: $686,810; Venue: MGM Grand Garden Arena, Las Vegas; Attendance: 11,659; Ticket Range: $65-$45; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: April 7; No. of Shows: 1

4) Eric Church
Gross Sales: $624,213; Venue: iWireless Center, Moline, Ill.; Attendance: 9,690; Ticket Range: $89-$25; Promoter: Messina Touring Group, AEG Presents; Dates: April 12; No. of Shows: 1

5) Green Day
Gross Sales: $442,833; Venue: Resch Center, Green Bay, Wis.; Attendance: 7,759; Ticket Range: $66.50-$26.50; Promoter: Jam Productions; Dates: March 30; No. of Shows: 1

1) New Order
Gross Sales: $439,795; Venue: Radio City Music Hall, New York; Attendance: 5,960; Ticket Range: $89.50-$49.50; Promoter: Live Nation, MSG Live; Dates: April 13; No. of Shows: 1

2) Hot 97 April Fool’s Show
Gross Sales: $376,664; Venue: The Theater at Madison Square Garden, New York; Attendance: 4,936; Ticket Range: $119-$53; Promoter: Marquee Concerts; Dates: April 1; No. of Shows: 1

3) Freestyle
Gross Sales: $322,326; Venue: Mohegan Sun Arena, Uncasville, Conn.; Attendance: 5,210; Ticket Range: $250-$54; Promoter: PM Entertainment Concepts; Dates: April 8; No. of Shows: 1

4) Los Fabulosos Cadillacs
Gross Sales: $306,987; Venue: The Theater at Madison Square Garden, New York; Attendance: 4,827; Ticket Range: $89-$29; Promoter: Goldenvoice; Dates: March 31; No. of Shows: 1

5) Jessica Mauboy
Gross Sales: $293,916; Venue: ICC Sydney Theatre; Attendance: 5,308; Ticket Range: $76.34-$61.07; Promoter: TEG Live; Dates: April 7; No. of Shows: 1

1) Wicked
Gross Sales: $1,838,565; Venue: Orpheum Theatre, Minneapolis; Attendance: 19,980; Ticket Range: $195-$25; Promoter: Hennepin Theatre Trust, Broadway Across America; Dates: April 18-23; No. of Shows: 8

2) The Book of Mormon
Gross Sales: $1,125,643; Venue: Place des Arts, Montreal; Attendance: 20,769; Ticket Range: $91.87-$18.37; Promoter: evenko, Broadway Across America; Dates: April 18-23; No. of Shows: 8

3) Steve Martin, Martin Short
Gross Sales: $398,255; Venue: Altria Theater, Richmond, Va.; Attendance: 3,462; Ticket Range: $250-$69.50; Promoter: NS2; Dates: April 23; No. of Shows: 1

4) The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
Gross Sales: $377,180; Venue: Wharton Center for Performing Arts, East Lansing, Mich.; Attendance: 7,343; Ticket Range: $79-$41; Promoter: In-house; Dates: April 11-16; No. of Shows: 8

5) Here Comes the Funny Tour
Gross Sales: $366,633; Venue: Durham (N.C.) Performing Arts Center; Attendance: 2,485; Ticket Range: $275-$75; Promoter: NS2, Professional Facilities Management, Nederlander Concerts; Dates: April 13; No. of Shows: 1

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


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Rodriguez Returning to Houston
Posted: 19 Apr 2017, 6:30 pm

Juan and Cari Rodriguez at the grand opening of Golden 1 Center, Sacramento, Calif.

It’s a homecoming of sorts for Juan Rodriguez, who has accepted the position of executive vice president and general manager for BBVA Compass Stadium, Houston, home of the Houston Dynamo of Major League Soccer.

Rodriguez worked in Houston for SMG at NRG Stadium prior to moving to Sacramento to become senior VP and general manager of the then under-construction Golden 1 Center, Sacramento. The new home to the Sacramento Kings of the National Basketball Association opened Sept.30, 2016.

His last day in Sacramento will be May 25. He and his wife, Cari, and their two children, ages 13 and 11, then move to Houston where he starts the new job June 15. It is bittersweet for the entire family, but it is close to grandparents, and it’s a city they know well from Rodriguez’ 14 years at NRG Stadium. Prior to that, he worked at Miami Arena and then what is now BB&T Center, Sunrise, Fla., for LMI/SMG.

He is replacing Paul Byrne who moved on two months ago, taking a job as VP, Operations at FedEx Field in Landover, Md., home of the Washington Redskins.

The friendships Rodriguez made during his three years in Sacramento will last forever, he said.

In Houston, he will answer to Chris Canetti, president of the Dynamos.

“It’s the right place and the right time,” Rodriguez said. The opportunity came about organically. He had dealt with the Dynamos organization when he was in Houston and the Kings season at Golden 1 Center has come to a close. He notified management Monday. The staff was told Tuesday. “It’s very emotional,” Rodriguez said.

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New Aberdeen Complex Goes to SMG Europe
Posted: 19 Apr 2017, 6:00 pm

Rendering of the Aberdeen (Scotland) Exhibition Conference Center.

SMG recently was named the management company of the Aberdeen Exhibition Conference Center in Scotland and will also oversee management of the new $416-million Aberdeen complex that is currently being built.

The existing Aberdeen convention center is 20-years old and ready for a new home. The new center is slated to open sometime in 2019.

“We’re excited to take the convention business, exhibitions and entertainment to an exciting new venue,” said SMG Executive Vice President of European Operations John Sharkey, who works out of SMG’s United Kingdom offices in Manchester.

The new venue will have more capacity, the latest technology and all the bells and whistles needed to compete in the global convention market.

The new complex will include a 12,500-seat arena equipped with a moveable stage, hospitality boxes, a club lounge, a total of 538,000 sq. ft. of flexible exhibition space, a conference center, three hotels and an energy center.

To top it off, the new exhibition and conference center will be located only six miles from Aberdeen International Airport, making it easy for conference guests to access events held at the complex.

“The insight that went into the design was amazing, which is what you want. You want a place where people like to go,” said SMG Executive Vice President Maureen Ginty. “We are very excited about it.”

Convention officials and the Aberdeen City Council have touted that the new complex is sure to have a huge economic impact on the area.

It’s projected to generate 600 new jobs during the construction period, add an additional 4.5-million visitors to the area, which includes $142 million in new visitor revenue that equates to a $78-million net impact to the Scottish economy by 2025. It’s also the “key element of Aberdeen City Council’s $1.25-billion transformational infrastructure and culture plans to grow the Granite City economy,” stated a press release.

“It’s so exciting for us to be part of a city that has made these kinds of investments and is moving it forward,” Ginty said.

The goal is not only to cater to the business class traveling to Scotland, but also the destination tourism market, Sharkey noted.

The entertainment aspect the new complex will offer is off the charts, he said.

The new convention center will host over 200 events a year, he added.

Funding for construction came from bond initiatives put forth by Aberdeen City Council.

“Thankfully, they’ve gotten to raise a lot of money in the bond market,” Sharkey said. “It’s a part of a citywide development plan.”

Included in the plan is new commercial and residential development.

“Right at the same time, there will be a new road network that will take a lot of traffic to and from the venues,” he said. “To access the current venue, you have to travel through the middle of Aberdeen where there’s a lot of transfer routes. You can probably make it much easier for people from the UK to fly into Aberdeen and do their corporate meetings and do the town hall meetings and also stay over for some entertainment.”

The new center will host meetings slated to accommodate anywhere from 50 to 50,000 people, Sharkey said.

“The venue versatility is most highlighted in the design process. We have banqueting space, we have conference space, we have entertainment space,” he added. “The whole idea of this building is to have more than one event running at one time.”

Managing the Aberdeen complex adds to SMG’s long list of venues it manages worldwide. In its 40th year of operation, SMG now manages more than 230 venues, over 15 million sq. ft. of exhibition space and more than 1.5million sports and entertainment seats globally.

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SunTrust Park Hits it Out Of The Ballpark
Posted: 19 Apr 2017, 5:00 pm

The new home of the Braves, SunTrust Park, Atlanta. (Photo courtesy: Atlanta Braves)

The first ever Opening Day at SunTrust Park is in the books. April 14, 2017, home run king Hank Aaron threw out the inaugural ceremonial first pitch to thunderous applause before the Atlanta Braves defeated the San Diego Padres 5-2. The game was played in front of a sell-out crowd of 41,149.

SunTrust Park is located in the Cumberland neighborhood of Cobb County, about 10 miles northwest of downtown Atlanta. At an imposing 1,114,400-square feet, the stadium offers 4,000 premium seats and 19,000 seats for under $20. A massive canopy provides coverage to the majority of the seating bowl. Utilizing a cantilever design, the stadium’s seating configuration maximizes sightlines and places a higher percentage of seats closer to the field than any other ballpark in Major League Baseball (MLB).

From the beginning of design to the end of construction, the building of SunTrust Park took only 37 months, a remarkable feat as compared to the lengthy timelines required by similar ballparks. Structural precast allowed for faster installation and virtual reality mockups allowed construction to move forward as decisions could be made in advance. Incorporating seven miles of handrails, 6,800 tons of structural steels, 908 miles of wire, 57,312 cubic yards of concrete, and 156,000-square feet of sod, the creation of SunTrust Park demanded an eye-popping 5.6-million man-hours. Cumberland is projected to add $2 billion in real estate value by 2024 due to the economic boost from the stadium.

The most impressive aspect of the fan experience at SunTrust Park might be the Ballpark app, available on Android and iPhone. Through this one-stop application, the Braves customize every aspect of game day. A designated drop-off/pick-up zone on Windy Ridge Parkway caters to ridesharing through Uber, while real-time navigation updates, delivered by Waze, ease the flow of traffic for fans and commuters. After uploading your ticket and/or parking bar codes, Waze can direct you to the parking lot nearest your seats.

20170414_BR_OpeningDay_padres_pmd-45101.jpgOpening Day at SunTrust Park, Atlanta.

Inside SunTrust Park, the Ballpark app is your best friend, offering key features including ByPass, Fan Assist and Satisfi. Director of Digital Marketing for the Atlanta Braves Greg Mize highlighted the importance of the Braves’ partnership with Comcast Xfinity, which provides an astonishing 200 GB of bandwidth. In more tangible terms, the stadium’s network infrastructure can support more than 40,000 fans simultaneously posting selfies.

Through ByPass, premium ticket holders can order concessions directly to their seats. Through Fan Assist, patrons can alert the staff if they experience a subpar service (i.e. being served a cold hot dog or a warm beer). Using the “Remedy” feature, fans might be compensated with a concessions voucher or perhaps the opportunity to take photos on the field after the game. This in-depth personalization ensures that all aspects of game day add up to a perfect outing. The most forward-thinking aspect of the Ballpark app is Satisfi, an Artificial Intelligence assistant. Looking for the nearest H&F Burger? A concession stand serving Coors Light? The closest restroom? Instead of endlessly perusing a directory, just ask Satisfi.

The stadium’s built-in technology includes a 64 x 121-foot BravesVision LED scoreboard installed by Panasonic. In fact, throughout SunTrust Park, there are 1,300 Panasonic televisions. The ballpark also features a 90x30 sq.-ft. scoreboard at left center field and five new Grass Valley LDX 86 hard cameras for broadcasting purposes. In the name of modernization, SunTrust Park is lit by programmable LED Sports lights (as compared to the incandescent bulbs used at Turner Field).

Premium areas and suites in the ballpark include the SunTrust Club, Delta SKY360 Club, and INFINITI Club among a host of others. Fully padded seats, valet parking and a variety of premium dining options make these suites the height of luxury. Group spaces such as the Xfinity Rooftop, Patio, and Cabanas (each available for private parties) provide a more intimate experience with entertainment options including pingpong and foosball tables. In addition, the Hank Aaron Terrace displays the legend’s 715th home run bat and ball and features two viewing decks for large groups. The Home Depot Clubhouse, Coca-Cola Corner, Coors Light Below the Chop, Coors Light Chop House (a three story restaurant), the Konica Minolta Conference Center, and Batter’s Eye Deck round out the group spaces.

Delaware North Sportservice serves as the Braves’ concessions partner. The company is launching a “Farm to Fan” initiative at the ballpark, which sources from more than 40 Atlanta-area producers to serve seasonal dishes. In a prepared statement, president of Delaware North Sportservice, Carlos Bernal said, “The Braves envisioned and built a state-of-the-art ballpark so we wanted to design a food and beverage operation that was just as forward-thinking. The game day experience has evolved, and fans expect as much out of their food as they do their baseball team. This means incorporating food trends like locally-sourced ingredients and partnerships with hometown brands and companies.”

The Terrapin Taproom featuring Fox Bros. Bar-B-Q, the First & Third Hot Dog & Sausage Shack by celebrity chef Hugh Acheson, King of Pops, Gu’s Dumplings, High Road Craft Ice Cream, Waffle House, and Chick-fil-A give the Braves a full dining roster.

For the Braves, a baseball game is truly a family affair. With Hope and Will’s Sandlot, the team offers youngsters interactive games ranging from a batting cage and pitch simulator to carnival games and a climbing tower. There’s even a zip line.

In all, SunTrust Park does a magnificent job of joining the old and the new. The venue has incorporated technology at an unprecedented scale, but still retains its baseball sensibilities. With curated memorabilia sections throughout the stadium paying homage to the franchise’s rich past and modernized fan experiences, the Braves have brought baseball into the 21st century while remaining true to the game’s humble beginnings.

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AEG Presents AEG Studios
Posted: 19 Apr 2017, 4:00 pm

A scene from Bumbershoot music festival at Seattle Center.

AEG Global Partnerships has formed a new division called AEG Studios that will create, produce and develop original content for the company as a whole as well as its numerous brand partners. Veteran content strategist Raymond Leon Roker will oversee the new initiative as head of the division across music, sports and facilities.

"AEG Studios is a full-service, in-house production department,” said Andrew Klein, senior vice president, AEG Global Partnerships. “It’s basically a content house that will create projects for whatever our brand partner’s desire is. We will shoot long-and-short-form video content, still content, documentaries, photography, Virtual Reality (VR) and 360.”

Klein said the impetus for opening the new division was that content creation is now a standard part of AEG partners’ sponsorship needs. “It’s all about unique content that our partners can use on their social channels,” he explained. “They want experiential, they want signage, and they want access to talent that they can use to amplify the content itself.”

In many cases, prior to AEG Studios creation, the content was either being farmed out by AEG or their partners would use other entities to capture the content. With the studio formalized, AEG can now bring all this under their umbrella.

The physical AEG Studios is a space in Los Angeles that’s currently the home of AXS TV, which will stay in the location. Most of the production work, however, will be shot on location.

“If a client wants us to shoot at the Hangout Music Festival in Alabama, we’ll be on the beach in Alabama,” said Klein. “If content needs to be shot in Staples Center (Los Angeles), we’ll shoot there.”

Roker, who founded and ran Urb magazine for 19 years, founded marketing agency Rebel Organizations and moved on to Red Bull Media House before landing at Goldenvoice/AEG Presents four years ago, said his number one goal is to “answer the real and evolving needs of our partners around content. Everything about a brand’s marketing is their story, and we want to be in that conversation with them.”

“We want to leverage the opportunities these events create, and we want to engage our fans with stories,” he said. “Our first order of business is understanding the state-of-play with content in and around our events.”

Roker said he’s personally very excited about creative partnerships between brands, artists, storytellers and social media creators, and another goal is to expand AEG’s playing field in terms of collaborators.

“Video is the latest incarnation of storytelling as it pertains to brands,” Roker explained. “I’ve spent my entire career looking for ways to tell stories and produce content that’s engaging and relevant and bring facilitators along for the ride.”

Klein believes the creation of AEG Studios will “streamline the process for our partners and create cost efficiencies.” Clients are still free to use any production company they choose.

Klein used Renaissance Hotels as an example of how AEG Studios will operate. “We shot both short-form and long-form video footage in their various hotels and surrounding areas with musicians,” he said. He pointed to projects in and around AEG music festivals Firefly (Delaware), Panorama (New York City), and Bumbershoot as potential AEG Studios clients.

Klein thinks that the fact that AEG Studios is full-service and has the capabilities to shoot in VR and 360 will distinguish the new division from competitors. “We have VR cameras and are ready for the numerous brands that are looking for VR capability,” he said.

Klein said that in the first year AEG Studios will concentrate on working with existing partners and expanding relationships where appropriate. "In the future, we will evaluate with partners on an ad hoc basis," he said. "We want to create content that makes sense for us and the partner, content that is imaginative and creative. What we want to stay away from is creating content just for the sake of creating content.

“We’re going to provide solutions from concept to execution to amplification,” he said. “Our content will allow brands to engage their target audience authentically and tell their stories in more thoughtful and engaging ways. There remains a demand for content that is fresh, targeted and shareable.”

“This the culmination of all the work I’ve done in music and sports, and you couldn’t ask for a better playing field for creating content than under the AEG Studio banner,” added Roker. “It’s a very exciting time to fuse all that.”


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NCAA Names Host Venues Through 2022
Posted: 19 Apr 2017, 3:00 pm

NCAA picked 613 host sites for games through 2022.

The National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA) sifted through more than 3,000 bid submissions, whittling down a final list to 613 host sites for preliminary rounds and finals of predetermined championships from 2017 through 2022.

With 84 of the NCAA’s 90 championships up for bid across multiple sports, 43 states found their way into hosting at least one round of some NCAA championship, with Pennsylvania taking the top spot with 53 hosting responsibilities, led by Pittsburgh earning 22 tasks, the most of any city. Florida, 51, wasn’t far behind.

While a variety of sports filled out the selection process, the marquee announcements for venues across the country come as the NCAA awards hosting responsibilities for NCAA basketball tournament rounds, doling out key hosting jobs to a variety of venues not yet even built.

“Working with our valued host institutions and conferences, as well as sports commissions and cities, to create a great atmosphere for student-athletes, coaches and fans with the men’s and women’s basketball tournaments is our goal every year,” said Dan Gavitt, NCAA senior vice president of basketball.

Criteria for selecting host sites included creating an “exceptional experience” for the student-athletes, along with adherence to NCAA bid specifications. Specifications can include, but are not limited to, providing optimal facilities; ease of travel to the location and ample lodging; and adherence to NCAA principles, which include providing an atmosphere that is safe and respects the dignity of all attendees.

With the next five men’s Final Four sites previously announced, the NCAA needed to fill in the locations of the preliminary and regional rounds from 2019 through 2022. The new faces enter the fray in 2022, where three cities that haven’t hosted a men’s tournament in decades were added to the mix. And two in buildings not yet constructed.

Chase Center, San Francisco, the future home of the NBA’s Golden State Warriors, earned the West Regional in 2022, bringing the regional round of the tournament to the city for the first time since 1939, the year of the inaugural tournament. Set to open in 2019, Chase Center has already landed the largest NCAA tournament stage an arena can muster (all Final Fours are played in stadiums).

“Chase Center and the surrounding area are going to be a destination for the entire Bay Area and having the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship West Regional at Chase Center in 2022 is great for not only the city of San Francisco, but the entire Bay Area to come and see some of the best in college basketball,” said Rick Welts, Warriors president. “This is one of the most exciting events on the calendar for sports … we’re excited for this to be the first event officially on our Chase Center schedule.”

Less than an hour after the planned, $450-million Multipurpose Arena in Fort Worth, Texas, announced its new naming rights sponsor as Dickies Arena, the venue was named host for the 2022 first and second rounds, along with four years of women’s gymnastics, bringing NCAA basketball to the city for the first time since 1970.

“This is another testament to the fantastic partnership that Texas Christian University (TCU) has with the City of Fort Worth,” said Chris Del Conte, TCU director of intercollegiate athletics. “Now with the new Dickies Arena coming to fruition, Fort Worth is an incredibly attractive host site for many NCAA Championships, which will certainly benefit TCU student-athletes, coaches and fans.”

Dickies Arena is scheduled for a November 2019 opening and will hold 13,300 fans in its basketball configuration.

For the first time in 30 years, Cincinnati will draw NCAA men’s basketball to its city in 2020. But instead of coming to a building not yet open, the NCAA has selected a 40-year old venue, U.S. Bank Arena, in need of renovations. But that could change. Owner Nederlander Entertainment told local media on April 19 that the plan to draw the NCAA to Cincinnati included a provision to remodel the venue.

That could happen with a brand-new arena, but no official announcement has taken place. The arena has a list of previous hosting responsibilities, including a Women’s Final Four in 1997 and four men’s hosting duties dating all the way back to 1979.

Of the five previously announced men’s Final Four hosts, two will host NCAA events for the first time. Opened in 2016, U.S. Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, hosts in 2019 and Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta, scheduled for an August opening, will host in 2020.

On the women’s side, five of the seven arenas awarded regional responsibilities in 2019 and 2020 do so for the first time. In 2019, Wintrust Arena, Chicago, and Moda Center, Portland, Ore., earn NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Championship games for the first time. They join Times Union Center, Albany, N.Y., for its third hosting responsibility and Greensboro (N.C.) Coliseum for its fifth.

Greensboro Coliseum also earned early round men’s games in 2020. The venue has hosted 63 NCAA men’s tournament games, the fifth most in tournament history. The NCAA had previously stripped North Carolina sites of hosting duties in 2016-17 following the state’s enactment of HB2. But with the repeal of the bill earlier this year, the NCAA announced that any site in North Carolina set to host a championship in 2017-18 was allowed to keep it. North Carolina sites, including Greensboro Coliseum, were part of the new allocations. 

In 2020, Allen County War Memorial Coliseum, Fort Wayne, Ind., enters the fray as a first-time women’s host, along with first-timers Bon Secours Wellness Arena, Greenville, S.C., and Moody Coliseum, Dallas.

“Fort Wayne has a proud tradition of basketball and hosting visitors, and these events will be excellent opportunities to expand our sports tourism resume,” said Dan O’Connell, president of Visit Fort Wayne, who estimates the economic impact of the women’s event at $1.2 million.

The University of Dayton (Ohio) Arena will remain the host of the men’s tournament’s First Four through 2022, as it has done since 2011. The venue has hosted 117 men’s basketball tournament games, the most of any facility.

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SeatGeek Acquires TopTix
Posted: 18 Apr 2017, 6:00 pm

Eric Waller, CTO, and SeetGeek co-founders, Jack Groetzinger and Russ D'Souza.

In a major move, SeatGeek announced the acquisition of Israeli ticketing software company TopTix for $56-million, the largest acquisition in SeatGeek’s history.

The purchase represents a significant investment in primary ticketing on behalf of SeatGeek as it continues to build its SeatGeek Open ticketing platform in an effort to replace industry incumbents as a ticketing platform for rightsholders.

“We have always had a vision of openness in ticketing, when historically, it’s a closed business, and SeatGeek had the same vision,” said Fred Maglione, TopTix executive chairman.

The acquisition was financed by a new $57-million Series D investment round in SeatGeek led by Glynn Capital, with participation from existing investors Accel, Causeway Media Partners, Haystack Partners, Mousse Partners and Technology Crossover Ventures.

“The thing that impressed us was TopTix went through an entire software rewrite,” said Russ D’Souza, co-founder of SeatGeek. “The company is able to take a diverse set of clients, from EPL teams to museums to concert halls, and can ticket anything around the world, which speaks to the heart of the software.”

TopTix brings a modern ticketing platform and engineering team to SeatGeek, and has provided ticketing software for more than 500 institutions. TopTix processes 80 million tickets a year in 16 countries. Current TopTix clients, which will now be clients of SeatGeek, range from museums and theaters to festivals and sports teams, including organizations such as the Royal Dutch Football Association, Ravinia Festival and multiple English soccer clubs.

“We developed a technological platform that is not locked into one silo in how inventory is distributed,” said Maglione.

TopTix will power the expansion of SeatGeek Open, SeatGeek’s primary ticketing platform that launched in August 2016. This platform allows artists and teams to sell tickets directly within other apps and websites, in places where fans are spending time and consuming content. Tickets, for example, could be made available through popular ecommerce websites, travel tools and messaging sites.

TopTix has served as SeatGeek’s technology partner for the company’s first primary ticketing client, Sporting Kansas City of Major League Soccer. The technology has helped Sporting KC increase online sales by 61 percent thus far compared to last season, and drive four times the amount of mobile purchasing the team saw with their previous ticket provider throughout 2016.

“Every team is pushing legacy ticketing companies,” said D’Souza. “The industry is ripe for change, but the only problem is with the philosophy and technology.”

TopTix will operate as a subsidiary of SeatGeek, continuing to service clients across the globe.

With the addition of TopTix engineering and business leadership teams, SeatGeek is now comprised of about 250 employees, located in seven offices across 13 countries.

“We will look back at this as a pivotal moment in the live entertainment industry,” said D’Souza. “We’re taking the power from ticketing companies and giving control to rightsholders.”

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Lucas Reflects on a Changing Industry
Posted: 18 Apr 2017, 5:00 pm

Jack Lucas helped start TicketsWest 30 years ago. He retired at the end of March and handed over operations to VP Dusty Kurtz, though he maintains his ties to the industry through his promotion and production house, West Coast Entertainment. Lucas spoke with Venues Today about three decades in the ticketing industry, what he’s learned, what he’s taking away.

Why is now the time to retire?

I’ve been contemplating it for a while. I can’t believe it’s been 30 years. I’ve enjoyed the whole damn thing. It hasn’t been easy, but it’s been a ‘pinch-me’ type of career. But I didn’t want to be one of those guys that people say, ‘is he still there?’ 

How do you feel about leaving a company you started?

I thought there would be a lot of emotion transitioning out after 30 years, but it’s not the emotion I thought I’d have because I know Dusty has it all under control. Ten or 11 years ago, Dusty came aboard and one of my guys said I should keep on eye on him; he’s pretty sharp. He did a great job as regional manager in Denver and then when I was looking for a VP, I thought he was perfect. I’ve been mentoring him to take over for the last four years. He’ll do a great job, and it’s time.

What is the best advice you have given Dusty?

Our business is like a three-legged-stool. One leg is a great product; leg two is great clients and the third leg is getting great people to work for you. If you don’t have all three legs, that stool is not going to stand.

How have you kept up with the dramatic changes in the ticketing industry in the past few years?

We’re constantly changing. If someone says they are not good with change, I will not hire that person. When I started ticketing technology moved like molasses. Today it’s very client-centric, customer-centric, and both bases are telling us what they want. It’s a whole different paradigm. You have to be willing to adapt and move quickly.

What are the biggest changes you’ve seen in 30 years?

I started with four employees and now we have 150. Now we have call centers, IT people, network specialists, marketing people, social media people, it goes on and on.

What are your favorite and least favorite parts of the job?

My favorite is the client interaction. I can sincerely tell you I know every one of our clients. Some of our clients include Spokane Public Facilities District, which we never take for granted just because we are in Spokane; Colorado Rockies, which took three years to land and they’ve been with us 25 years and Portland'5 Centers for the Arts, another account it took several years to get. I love working with Robyn Williams, she is a strong leader. My least favorite part of the job is the business aspect. You have to keep growing the business, ensuring profitability and making a lot of decisions. Sometimes the business side can overwhelm you. The thing that keeps me up at night is that I have to set the vision. My employees are dependent on me, and I take that responsibility seriously. You have to keep pressing and moving the bar up.

How did you get started in the ticketing industry?

I’m a Vietnam vet and came home after two tours in the Navy. I went to Eastern Washington University, Cheney, to get my degree in music. I was almost ready to graduate when my dad, a former hockey player, suggested I go down to the Spokane Entertainment Facilities, where he knew some people, to get a part-time job. I got hired as an usher. I worked for Mike Kobluk, former president of IAVM, and Kevin Twohig, one of the charter teachers for the IAVM school at Oglebay. They both played a key part in my career. A few years later, they created a new position, events supervisor, which involved being there at night. I thought I could teach during the day and work there at night, and I got the job. I used the money to buy an airplane that I still own. The local 93 stagehands asked me if I wanted to work move-ins and move-outs. I took that job and did that during the day, went home, put on a coat and tie and returned as the events supervisor. When the show was over, I put my jeans back on and did the move-out. It gave me an up over a lot of people who don’t understand the backstage part of the business.

How did TicketsWest start?

In 1985, the city of Spokane talked about going from hard tickets to computerized tickets. The city put out an RFP and picked a local businessman named Don Barbieri to run it. A few years later, in 1987, Don created a company called G&B Select-a-Seat and asked me to come work for him. I was called ticket manager. We sold our first ticket in 1987 for a Cyndi Lauper concert. In the mid-90’s, we changed it to TicketsWest.

What was the model?

There’s always going to be Ticketmaster out there. I don’t want to compete with them for the rest of my life. So I found a niche where we can be successful, and that was in the tier two and tier three markets. We have offices in Denver and Portland. so we’re in tier one cities, but we built our client base in tier two and tier three markets. That’s how we built our success and sustained our business. Around that time we got a phone call from Columbia Artists. They were playing a “Cats” tour and lined up Portland and Seattle but needed a third stop in the Midwest to make it financially feasible. We did it in Spokane and started G&B Presents. We grew it, and now we’ve produced everything from Willie Nelson to Tony Bennett to Ray Charles to Broadway musicals to circuses.

What is the biggest highlight from your 30 years at TicketsWest?

My biggest highlight is the first time I put Garth Brooks on sale in the early 90’s. We ended up doing six performances. We’d sell out one show, open up another, then another, and that was a real high point. We pulled it off without a whole lot of challenges, but we brought down the phone system in Spokane and no one could call 911 or the hospitals. We eventually had to have a meeting with the city to make sure that didn’t happen again.




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NHL Benches Get iPads
Posted: 18 Apr 2017, 3:15 pm

An Apple iPad Pro which will be bench-side for all NHL teams.

(Editor's note: This story previously appeared in

During this year’s playoffs, National Hockey League (NHL) coaches and players don’t have to wait until intermission to review highlights and game-play footage. In all 16 playoff venues, the league has installed a video coaching system that will include three Apple iPad Pros placed on holders on the glass behind or on the side of team benches. Starting with the 2017-18 season, all 31 NHL arenas will have the new system.

The iPads come loaded with an app that allows coaches and players to view highlights in real-time, which can be created by each team’s video coaches through the use of league-issued Mac computers.

“By the time the player gets off his shift, that content is available within a minute, I guess, from the time it actually took place,” NHL Executive Vice President and Chief Technology Officer Peter DelGiacco told the Associated Press, which first reported the story. “Today, generally speaking, a lot of that would be done between periods and there’s a limited amount of time. … This kind of gives the coaches and the players real-time access so that they can make adjustments.”

On Wednesday night, a bird’s-eye photo from Getty Images showed a Montreal Canadiens staffer looking at an iPad during an Eastern Conference quarter-finals matchup against the New York Rangers.

With in-arena video technology system and through a collaboration with Apple, on-ice officials will now be able to utilize iPad Pros for video reviews, too. For this past regular season, coaches were able to have video monitors on benches to assist in challenging offsides calls or goaltender interference situations.

“It’s going to be huge in the playoffs,” Washington Capitals coach Barry Trotz said to the AP. “The referees, the league wants to get it right, the coaches want to get it right.”

Guy Boucher, coach of the Ottawa Senators, added that having the iPads accessible on the benches has minimized the amount of intermission time spent communicating with players because they could do it immediately during the play.

“We look at it because sometimes we’re not seeing everything that’s going on on the ice,” he said. “It’s good also for feedback with our players and, yeah, it’s good for challenges and all that. … It helps us also between periods because instead of looking at 12 different things between periods, we might have to look at five or six, so it’s quicker for us to get back to our players and tell them about adjustments because sometimes we already know a few adjustments and a lot of times we’ll address it right on the bench.”

Both the NFL and Major League Baseball (MLB) have various tablet technologies on the sidelines and dugouts. The Microsoft Surface, as part of a five-year, $400-million deal with the NFL that started in 2013, came under fire this past October when New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick vowed he was done utilizing the technology. Manager Joe Maddon of the Chicago Cubs had his own difficulties during the National League Championship Series (NLCS) last Fall, failing to submit a starting lineup with his nonleague-issued iPad device. Last March, Apple and Major League Baseball announced a deal that would place iPad Pros in each team’s dugout throughout the season.

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HOT TICKETS for April 19, 2017
Posted: 18 Apr 2017, 2:00 pm

John Mayer kicked off his The Search for Everything world tour on March 31 at Times Union Center, Albany, N.Y. This tour stretches across eight countries before the first leg wraps May 12, at The O2, London. Mayer made a stop at Madison Square Garden, making our Hot Tickets chart this week, with the Live Nation-promoted event grossing $1.4 million with ticket prices ranging from $50-$120. The nearly 15,000 fans in attendance, along with all online ticket buyers for the North American tour dates, will also receive a physical copy of his new album The Search for Everything. Fans can catch the next John Mayer show this Friday, April 21, at The Forum, Inglewood, Calif.

The much-loved comedian/television and movie star Billy Crystal is having a stellar year with his 2017 Spend the Night with Billy Crystal tour, which hit our Hot Tickets chart this week. Crystal brought his unique, stand-up comedy show to the Chicago Theatre where he entertained over 7,000 fans with two sold-out, Jam Productions-promoted events on April 1-2, grossing nearly $650,000. Crystal will be bringing the laughs with his unpredictable humor to the Fox Theatre, Atlanta, on April 27.

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 March 21-April 18.

15,001 or More Seats

10,001-15,000 Seats

5,001-10,000 Seats

5,000 or Fewer Seats

1) Mega Mezcia
Gross Sales: $1,832,240; Venue: Madison Square Garden, New York; Attendance: 18,595; Ticket Range: $289-$49; Promoter: Latin Events; Dates: April 11; No. of Shows: 1

2) John Mayer
Gross Sales: $1,413,563; Venue: Madison Square Garden, New York; Attendance: 14,793; Ticket Range: $119.75-$49.75; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: April 5; No. of Shows: 1

3) Red Hot Chili Peppers
Gross Sales: $1,225,612; Venue: Philips Arena, Atlanta; Attendance: 13,104; Ticket Range: $103-$53; Promoter: Frank Productions, AEG Presents; Dates: April 14; No. of Shows: 1

4) Radiohead
Gross Sales: $1,190,710; Venue: Rose Quarter, Portland, Ore.; Attendance: 12,879; Ticket Range: $99.50-$69.50; Promoter: AEG Presents; Dates: April 9; No. of Shows: 1

5) Eric Church
Gross Sales: $1,099,179; Venue: Pepsi Center Arena, Denver; Attendance: 16,351; Ticket Range: $89-$29; Promoter: Messina Touring Group, AEG Presents; Dates: April 5; No. of Shows: 1

1) Journey, Asia
Gross Sales: $553,362; Venue: Allen County War Memorial Coliseum, Fort Wayne, Ind.; Attendance: 8,613; Ticket Range: $97.50-$37.50; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: March 31; No. of Shows: 1

2) Eric Church
Gross Sales: $541,050; Venue: Taco Bell Arena, Boise, Idaho; Attendance: 9,647; Ticket Range: $89-$24; Promoter: Messina Touring Group, AEG Presents; Dates: March 24; No. of Shows: 1

3) Twenty One Pilots
Gross Sales: $540,284; Venue: Brisbane (Australia) Entertainment Centre; Attendance: 9,414; Ticket Range: $68.05-$60.48; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: March 27; No. of Shows: 1

4) Twenty One Pilots
Gross Sales: $534,356; Venue: Perth (Australia) Arena; Attendance: 9,091; Ticket Range: $69.52-$62.01; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: April 8; No. of Shows: 1

5) Journey, Asia
Gross Sales: $532,577; Venue: Ford Center, Evansville, Ind.; Attendance: 7,558; Ticket Range: $99.50-$36.50; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: April 1; No. of Shows: 1

1) Bon Jovi
Gross Sales: $1,491,610; Venue: Mohegan Sun Arena, Uncasville, Conn.; Attendance: 9,205; Ticket Range: $195-$125; Promoter: In-house, CAA; Dates: April 1; No. of Shows: 1

2) Def Leppard
Gross Sales: $573,968; Venue: Mohegan Sun Arena, Uncasville, Conn.; Attendance: 7,235; Ticket Range: $129-$59; Promoter: In-house, AGI; Dates: April 12; No. of Shows: 1

3) Eric Church
Gross Sales: $562,206; Venue: Brick Breeden Fieldhouse, Bozeman, Mont.; Attendance: 7,754; Ticket Range: $89-$67; Promoter: Messina Touring Group, AEG Presents; Dates: March 22; No. of Shows: 1

4) Muluma
Gross Sales: $468,927; Venue: Microsoft Theater, Los Angeles; Attendance: 6,862; Ticket Range: $126.50-$36.50; Promoter: Goldenvoice; Dates: March 26; No. of Shows: 1

5) Ice Cube
Gross Sales: $447,742; Venue: Orleans Arena, Las Vegas; Attendance: 5,323; Ticket Range: $254-$59; Promoter: In-house; Dates: April 7; No. of Shows: 1

1) Wicked
Gross Sales: $1,778,912; Venue: Orpheum Theatre, Minneapolis; Attendance: 20,017; Ticket Range: $195-$25; Promoter: Hennepin Theatre Trust, Broadway Across America; Dates: April 12-16; No. of Shows: 8

2) An American in Paris
Gross Sales: $1,150,689; Venue: The Smith Center for the Performing Arts, Las Vegas; Attendance: 14,407; Ticket Range: $123-$25; Promoter: In-house; Dates: April 11-16; No. of Shows: 8

3) Beautiful
Gross Sales: $1,030,696; Venue: Orpheum Theater, Omaha, Neb.; Attendance: 13,430; Ticket Range: $120-$35; Promoter: Omaha Performing Arts Presents; Dates: April 4-9; No. of Shows: 8

4) Something Rotten
Gross Sales: $791,628; Venue: Peace Center, Greenville, S.C.; Attendance: 10,598; Ticket Range: $85-$25; Promoter: In-house; Dates: April 11-16; No. of Shows: 8

5) Billy Crystal
Gross Sales: $646,989; Venue: Chicago Theatre; Attendance: 7,060; Ticket Range: $146.50-$36; Promoter: Jam Productions; Dates: April 1-2; No. of Shows: 2

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


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Suca and Miller Join BSE's West Coast Office
Posted: 17 Apr 2017, 5:00 pm

Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment, N.Y., has expanded its reach on the West Coast and made two strategic hires.

TinaSuca_200x145.jpgTina Suca

Tina Suca has joined the organization as VP, industry relations. Suca will support the booking efforts for all BSE properties: Barclays Center, Brooklyn, N.Y.; NYCB LIVE, Uniondale, N.Y.; Webster Hall, New York; and the soon-to-be renovated LIU Brooklyn (N.Y.) Paramount Theatre. Prior to this, Suca served as VP, entertainment for ArenaNetwork; GM of Nassau (N.Y.) Veterans Memorial Coliseum under SMG; GM of The Forum, Inglewood, Calif.; and GM of The Wiltern, Los Angeles.

AndyMiller_200x145.jpgAndy Miller

Andy Miller has been hired as executive director, global partnerships. Miller most recently served as director of national sales for NBC Olympics & Sports Ventures, where he managed western regional partnerships. Prior to that, he was GM of sales & marketing for IMG College, Winston-Salem, N.C.; account executive, NFL Network & and account executive for national network sales for FOX Cable Sports.

Both will be based in the company’s Los Angeles office.

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AEG and OVG Bid For KeyArena Redo
Posted: 13 Apr 2017, 6:00 pm

(Above) A rendering of the Oak View Group’s KeyArena plan shows the bowl will be 15 feet deeper than the current one to create added seating. (Photo Credit: Oak View Group); (Below) A rendering of Seattle Partner's KeyArena plan shows the exterior of their proposed rebuild. (Photo Credit: Seattle Partners)

Two of the biggest players in the venue world submitted the only viable bids to the City of Seattle to win the contract to rebuild KeyArena by yesterday’s (April 12) deadline. The Request For Proposals process started only last January.

The Oak View Group (OVG), led by Tim Leiweke, former CEO of Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG) and Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment, and mega-music manager Irving Azoff, has unwrapped a $564-million package. Seattle Partners, an alliance between Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG) and Hudson Pacific Properties, has proposed a $520-million pitch for the renovation. (Full disclosure: Venues Today LLC is a subsidiary of OVG.)

The proposals will be under scrutiny for the next two months, with a choice to be presented to the mayor of Seattle by the end of June. A third, amended proposal to build an arena at a different location, brought by Sodo Group, is also before the city council for a decision before the end of the year.

Both KeyArena groups have plans to lure National Basketball Association (NBA) and National Hockey League (NHL) teams to Seattle but will commit to the project without any assurances from either sports league.

Seattle was previously the home of the NBA’s SuperSonics who played home games at KeyArena, originally known as Seattle Center Coliseum, for 33 of the franchise's 41 seasons in Seattle.

The OVG proposal calls for a 660,000 sq.-ft. venue. It will have 18,350 seats for basketball, 17,100 seats for hockey and a concert capacity of 17,100. The completion date would be October 2020. OVG’s arena expansion method is to place the lower arena bowl and floor 15 feet underground to create a 660,000-sq.-ft. blueprint.

OVG’s bid comes with $350 million in financing from Goldman Sachs, which guaranteed up to $400 million, with the additional $150 million coming from OVG and its equity partner Madison Square Garden (MSG). Concert giant Live Nation has also pledged financial support and Delaware North has signed on as the concessionaire.

Seattle Partners plan envisions a 600,000 sq.-ft. facility. Its projected NBA capacity would be 18,113. For hockey, it would seat 17,120 and a concert capacity would be 19,202. The company projects it would take 24-26 months to complete after approval. Seattle Partners development would expand the roof over the south side of the arena.

Seattle Partners financing relies on its partners AEG and Hudson Pacific Properties to come up with the cash, although they do plan to ask the city to participate in the form of public bonding to attain tax advantages.


“We believe that Seattle is a top-10 music market and the fact that they have not had an arena update since 1995 makes them badly in need of a new state-of-the-art music venue and one that can bring back the NBA and recruit the NHL,” said Lance Lopes, OVG, director of special projects. “We look at this as a tremendous opportunity to do all of those things at one time.”

“We first and foremost are excited about doing something in Seattle Center and maintaining the historic nature of the building,” he said. “It’s a special place in Seattle’s heart dating back to the World’s Fair in 1962. What’s special is that we are going to build a new arena under the existing roof.”

Features of the OVG bid are a revolutionary two-scoreboard system, one sitting  over each end of the arena, and Lopes envisions this as the new standard that will replace traditional center-hung scoreboards. An atrium at one end of the arena called the Millennial Area, where there will be a bar and people circulating, “will have a spectacular view of the Space Needle. It’s going to be a pretty cool feature,”added Lopes.

OVG brought in ICON and Populous as partners to design and build the arena. “It will take 20 months to complete the building and we hope to be open in October 2020,” he said.

Lopes believes OVG has assembled the most powerful team that’s ever been put together for a proposal. “With Live Nation on board, we will have a leg-up on content,” he said.

Lopes is also proud of the community support that OVG has built into their bid. “OVG has pledged over $10 million to tackle teen homelessness through a group called Youth Care. We’ve also offered internships and training and we’ll bring all the things we can to help them solve this critical issue.”

As far as delivering an NBA and NHL team, Lopes said, “We’re not getting ahead of the franchise commissioners. We understand we need to build an arena before we can get a team. We continue to communicate with them on a regular basis and when they are ready to expend, we’ll be ready and well-positioned.”


Aaron Pickus is spokesman for Seattle Partners. “This is a unique opportunity,” he said. “It’s the best location in a great city for a world-class arena that is also a civic asset.”

“KeyArena has a great story and history. Our proposal will make it not only a great music venue but also up to the standards for a prospective NBA and NHL franchise in the future.”

“We’re looking at a $520-million budget and it should take about two years to complete,” he said. “We plan to take advantage of the historic rooflines of KeyArena and our proposal takes advantage of the ’12 man’ (the fan is the 12th man) concept of Seattle. There’s a great culture of intimate, loud, dynamic fan experiences here.”

“Seattle Partners members clearly bring the most experience to urban arena developments,” said Pickus. “AEG has been in Seattle a long time. Hudson Pracific Properties owns a lot of property here and AEG owns and runs the two Showboxes in Seattle. We have a deep bench of local partners to help, including Sellen Construction, Nelson/Nygaard who will consult on transportation, Gensler Architecture and Rossetti Associates.”


A third player in the KeyArena stakes is entrepreneur Chris Hansen who has proposed abandoning the KeyArena site altogether and wants to build a new venue in a different location. Hansen’s Sodo Group’s proposal was shot down by the City Council last May after public outcry over its call for over $200 million in public financing. Sodo Group has drafted a new proposal, without city financing, that must be voted on by the council by the end of the year.

The unique situation has not been lost on city officials. “We’re thrilled by the fact that there are three different groups willing to invest multimillions of dollars in the City of Seattle,” said Brian Surratt, director of the Seattle Economic Office of Development.

“KeyArena has been a great venue for us for music and other entertainment.” he said. “The Seattle Storm play there and we have college basketball and about a hundred other events. What this opportunity presents is an opportunity for the city to re-imagine KeyArena as a facility that meets NBA and NHL standards.”

“We’re excited that the two leading giants in this space agree,” he said. “Each are willing to invest over $500 million to go down that path and we can take KeyArena to the next level with these partners. It’s astonishing that these groups were able to get the architectural concepts, financing, operations and bring in their own partners in only four months.”

“Both proposals are really impressive and do an amazing job of preserving the look and feel and roof of the building,” he said. “Both will accommodate the NBA and NHL and will make this a premier entertainment facility.”

Sturratt did want to acknowledge that two graduate students from the University of Washington submitted a proposal as well. “We got a kick out of their proposal but, of course, it had no funding attached.”


Surratt said the process from here starts with internal teams from the city looking at the proposals including transportation and community benefits. The next step is for an outside panel, comprised of local civil and business leaders, to examine the proposals.

The outside council will be led by former Sonics coach Lenny Wilkens. The other nine members are Jan Levy, chair of the Seattle Center Advisory Committee; Deborah Frausto, KeyArena subcommittee chair of the Seattle Uptown Alliance; Nicole Grant, executive secretary of the King County Labor Council; restaurateur Ethan Stowell, music executive Megan Jasper, business leader Ollie Garrett, former pro hockey player Todd Humphrey, architect Rico Quirindongo and Jill Nishi, chief of staff for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

An open house is scheduled for May 11 where anyone in the community can question representatives from OVG and Seattle Partners at KXP radio station, which is next door to KeyArena.

Following the open house, the community panel will give Surratt, the city’s budget director and the director of Seattle Center their feedback and advice. The trio will then ultimately deliver a recommendation to Seattle Mayor Ed Murray by the end of June.

The Mayor will then make the final call. If he picks either OVG or Seattle Partners, lease negotiations will start with the victor and the result of that process will be submitted to the city council for a vote.

“If they vote ‘yes’ we’ll start permitting, transportation planning and then speed along to groundbreaking,” he said.

Both groups addressed increasing the number of loading docks in their proposals and both tackle traffic and parking around KeyArena with a monorail upgrade and rideshare solutions. OVG’s parking plan is to install an 850-car parking garage, while the Seattle Partners say they will subsidize $5 million for improvements and expansion of the current city transportation links.

Both groups have deep ties to both the NBA and NHL that could help them secure NBA and NHL franchises.

Half of the NHL’s 30 teams are part of OVG’s Arena Alliance; Leiweke was part of the NHL executive committee for the Toronto Raptors. He also had four-percent equity in AEG, which operates Staples Center, Los Angeles, where the Lakers play. Florida Panthers Executive Chairman Peter Luukko is co-chairman of the OVG Arena Alliance. OVG’s proposed concessionaire Delaware North, owned by Jeremy Jacobs, is chairman of the NHL’s board of governors.

AEG has built or operates many NHL teams, including the Los Angeles Kings, and hockey arenas, including Staples Center, Los Angeles, and Hudson Pacific Properties is owned by Victor Coleman, who has made it known he wants to bring an NHL team to Seattle. AEG has also built and/or manages numerous NBA venues and is part-owner of the Los Angeles Lakers.

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Hassall Appointed CEO of Royal Albert Hall
Posted: 12 Apr 2017, 9:00 pm

Craig_200x145.jpgCraig Hassall

Craig Hassall has been appointed CEO of the Royal Albert Hall, London. Prior to this, he was the chief executive of Opera Australia, the national opera company. Prior to Opera Australia, he worked in London for almost nine years, first as CEO of English National Ballet, the national touring ballet company of the UK.

Following this, Hassall was chief operating officer of Raymond Gubbay Ltd., responsible for new business and collaborative ventures in the commercial field of classical music, opera and ballet. He also consulted on cultural aspects of the London 2012 Olympic Games.

Hassall was awarded an AM of the Order of Australia for services to the arts in the Australia Day Honours 2016. He is currently on the board of Centre for Recent Drawing (C4RD), London, and the London International Festival of Theatre (LIFT).

Hassall replaces Chris Cotton who left his post after seven and a half years.

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Billy Joel Closes, Reopens NYCB LIVE
Posted: 12 Apr 2017, 8:00 pm

Billy Joel playing to a sell-out crowd at the opening of the newly renovated Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.

When Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum closed in August 2015, Long Island native Billy Joel gave the beloved venue a rousing sendoff. Almost two years later on April 5, 2017, the Piano Man was on hand once more to christen the newly renovated arena. Joel’s three-hour performance was his thirty-third concert at the Coliseum, and he played 33 songs to mark the occasion.

Billy_Joel._Credit_Getty_2_.jpgBilly Joel at the opening of the renovated Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.

“Our sold-out show from legendary Long Islander Billy Joel on April 5 was a historic moment for the Coliseum,” said Nick Vaerewyck, senior director of programming for NYCB LIVE, home of Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. “The energy in the building was electric, and we are proud to be able to show fans the hard work that has gone into renovating the venue over the past 20 months. We are looking forward to the great programming lined up at the Coliseum in the coming weeks, including Metallica and the final Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus performances ever.”

Since the arena’s reopening, there has been a major event almost every night. Stevie Nicks, Idina Menzel and Marc Anthony entertained audiences over the last week and, on April 10, the Coliseum played host to WWE Monday Night Raw. Upcoming visitors include the Harlem Globetrotters, Def Leppard and The Weeknd. In May, the Coliseum will also host the last hurrah of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. A full list of events is available below.

First opened in 1972, Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum is located in Uniondale on Long Island. Until 1977, the arena served as the home of the New York Nets of the American Basketball Association (and later of the National Basketball Association). The coliseum also provided home ice advantage to the National Hockey League’s New York Islanders up until 2015. Beginning with the 2017-2018 season, the venue will become home court for the Long Island Nets, the NBA Development League affiliate of the Brooklyn Nets.

Over the last two years, the 416,000-square-foot coliseum underwent $165 million of exterior and interior renovations. The original building was constructed at a cost of $32 million ($186 million when adjusting for inflation).

NassauExteriorNew9.jpgExterior of  Nassau Veterans Memorial Colisuem.

Designed by SHoP Architects, the renovated building’s intricate aluminum fin façade pays homage to Long Island’s history as the birthplace of the aviation industry. In total, the 960 fins are comprised of 4,654 unique segments. Meanwhile, the venue’s skin evokes iconic imagery including Long Island’s sand dunes and boardwalks. An astounding 50,000 square feet of terrazzo flooring, 52,000 square feet of tile, and 10,000 gallons of paint were used for the project.

Gensler served as the architect for the venue’s interior renovation. A redesigned main entrance, all new seating, and revamped concessions and bathrooms will enhance the guest experience. From a sustainability perspective, the building stepped into modernity with the installation of LED lights, new windows and doors (to improve thermal performance), and waterless urinals. Fans will also enjoy access to high-speed Wi-Fi, improved cellular service for all major carriers, and an enlarged high-definition LED scoreboard.

The Artist’s Quarters presented by Apollo Jets are private and separate from the press and production areas, granting visiting performers an intimate experience and respite from the chaos of the tour. Accommodations include a Residential Style Suite, available in a Manhattan Modern or Hamptons Chic theme; a Wellness Room and Fitness Center; an Artist Living Room and a Promoter’s Lounge.

Premium areas at Nassau Coliseum include a 4,152-square-foot VIP club, featuring two large bars; high-top tables; banquette seating, and a four-acre outdoor plaza, which will be used for events and festivals. Additionally, the Blue Moon Beer Garden on the main concourse will feature expanded food and beverage selections, such as Umberto’s Pizza, which will have a large wood-burning pizza oven. Through the Long Island Taste program (patterned after Barclays Center’s Brooklyn Taste), Nassau Coliseum will offer authentic food and beverage from local restaurants and vendors.

The Coliseum can accommodate mid-size audiences for a variety of events.

• Concerts: up to 16,000
• Basketball: 14,500
• MMA/Boxing: 14,500
• Hockey: 13,900
• Theater: 4,500

There are also eight designated seats that will remain unused at all times to honor Prisoners of War and those Missing in Action; the five branches of the U.S. military (Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force and Coast Guard); first responders, including firefighters, law enforcement and emergency medical service members; and those who lost their lives on Sept.11, 2001, including more than 500 Long Islanders.

The Veterans Memorial, a dark granite oval on the southeast corner of the plaza, features water flowing along its surface, with a monument emerging at the center where National Guard honors the veterans with an eternal flame.

It’s been a long wait, but the gorgeous venue has been restored to its glory. Nassau Coliseum will undoubtedly rejuvenate Long Island as an iconic social and cultural hub. In the words of Billy Joel, “she’s got a way about her.”

Upcoming Events include:

• Def Leppard, April 15
• Monster Jam Series, 4 events, April 21, 22 & 23
• Barbra Streisand , May 4
• Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, May 12-15, May 19-21
• Metallica, May 17
• Barry Manilow, May 25
• The Weeknd, June 3
• Maxwell, June 10
• New Kids on the Block with Paula Abdul, July 7
• J. Cole, Aug. 5
• Roger Waters, co-founder of the rock band Pink Floyd, Sept. 15 & 16
• Professional Bull Riders: Built Ford Tough Series, Sept. 23 & 24
• Bruno Mars, Oct. 5
• Stony Brook vs. Maryland, Nov. 11
• Villanova vs. Hofstra on Dec. 22
• MAAC College Basketball Tripleheader on Jan. 27, 2018

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Pistons Play Last Game at The Palace
Posted: 12 Apr 2017, 6:00 pm

The exterior of the Palace at Aubern Hills, Mich. (Photo credit: Detroit Pistons file photos)

When a National Basketball Association team leaves its home arena for another, it’s as sentimental as a couple leaving a house where they raised their kids.

Such was the feeling on April 10 when the Detroit Pistons played their last home game at The Palace at Auburn Hills (Mich.). Although the Pistons lost 105-101 to the Washington Wizards, it was still a memorable moment for the team and those who’ve worked at the venue for the last three decades.

The Pistons soon will move into the newly built home they will share with the Detroit Red Wings of the National Hockey League in downtown Detroit. The new 21,000-seat venue that cost $733 million to construct is called Little Caesars Arena and opens in September.

Long-time Pistons sportscaster George Blaha said he’s sad to see the team leave the Palace, but the joint venture with the Red Wings makes geographical and financial sense. HOK is the architect.

“If you’re a family, and the husband and wife are both involved in the financial decision-making, you’re probably going to make better decisions with two people involved,” Blaha said, noting that the same goes for the Pistons and Red Wings coming together under one roof. “They’ll be making some overall marketing decisions and promotion decisions and fan decisions that will benefit both teams.”

Blaha has experienced many unforgettable moments at the 24,000-seat Palace that opened in 1988.

“When the Pistons blasted the Lakers in game five of five, the place went absolutely bananas,” he said. “When they started to pile up the points, the noise started and it never stopped.”

Many others have fond memories of the Palace, including Chief Operating Officer of Rossetti, Dave Richards. Rossetti was the architect for the Palace, and Richards was on the decision-making team when the arena was built.

The_Palace_-_interior_.jpgInterior of The Palace at Auburn Hills. (Photo credit: Detroit Pistons file photos)

“We began designing it very late in 1985, and in 1986 we were in construction. The building had some really unique features at the time,” Richards said.

For instance, they put padding on the seats, unlike other stadiums and arenas in the '80s that had plastic seats or benches. Also, the arena had 50 percent more women’s facilities than required by code, he said.

“We did a lot of things to really improve the fan experience,” he said, highlighting that they put suites in row 16 of the arena, which was unheard of at that time.

Perhaps the most notable experience for Richards during his time with the Palace was when he had to convince Sting — who played the opening concert at the venue in 1988 — to get on the grid that’s 10-feet under the floor and raise to the stage.

“I ended up having to talk Sting into going on stage and offered to sit there with him,” Richards said. “That was a pretty cool thing.”

Although the transition to a new venue is bittersweet for many, moving the team downtown makes sense on many levels.

“The downtown location will be centrally located,” Blaha said, adding that it will be easier for people across the region to travel to games or concerts. “If they don’t want to go to a basketball game, it’ll be because they don’t want to go to a basketball game, not because of where the arena is located.”

Right now, fans who live down river and in other parts of Detroit, have a difficult time getting to the Palace due to where it’s located in the city, he said.

“I’m excited about moving downtown and doing something for Detroit but sad we’re walking out of what’s been the very best building in America,” Blaha said. “It’s been one of the best parts of what’s been a dream job for me, broadcasting for the NBA and broadcasting for the Pistons and having a front row seat for it.”


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Spectra Revs Up Fair Sponsorship Deals
Posted: 12 Apr 2017, 5:50 pm

State Fair of Virgina, Doswell, a new client of Spectra sponsorship partnerships.

Spectra is accelerating its division selling sponsorships to fairs. After getting their feet wet with two smaller fairs, Bangor (Maine) State Fairgrounds and Larimer County Fair and Rodeo, Loveland, Colo., they’ve now landed two larger fairs; State Fair of Virginia, Doswell, and York (Pa.) Fair.

“We’ve been managing and selling sponsorships at two smaller fairs in Colorado and Maine for the past few years,” explained Nino Vanin, director of business development, Spectra sponsorships and partnerships. “In the last few months, we’ve taken a look at standalone fairs across the country that bring in 400,000 to 500,000 people over the course of the fair.”

“Many fairs are looking to re-imagine and re-invigorate the ‘story’ of their respective fairs as well as the experience they provide their patrons,” he said. “Our firm, which has experiences with large, high-level events, can bring the fresh perspective that fairs are looking for. We’re sponsorship experts, and our experience with events will also help us sell the sponsorships.”

“We’ve had a pretty significant presence in the fair space for a while now, particularly on the West Coast and we decided to concentrate on fairs on the East Coast that made sense, and were in geographical areas that were of interest to us,” said Vanin.

The 150 year-old State Fair of Virginia, the birthplace and 1973’s Triple Crown winner,+ Secretariat, who is also buried there, and Pennsylvania’s York Fair, fit the bill and both signed on. Spectra is now the exclusive sponsorship sales agency for the State Fair of Virginia park, fair, and all other events during the year including the Virginia Horse Show and Illuminate Light Show. In York, Spectra is the exclusive sponsorship sales agency for the fair and expo center.

“Both fairs were working with a previous rightsholder,” said Vanin. “Now if you want to be a sponsor at either fair you come through us.”

At York Fair, corporate partners include Coca-Cola, GEICO, Rutter’s Farm Stores and UTZ Quality Foods. Virginia Lottery, First Bank and Trust, Coca-Cola and Fiat Chrysler are sponsors at State Fair of Virginia.

“Spectra called us at the end of last year and we started conversations,” said Marlene Pierson-Jolliffe, VP of operations, Meadow Event Park, and executive director, State Fair of Virginia. “We thought they might be a good match and kept the conversation going. We asked them a lot of questions. When making the decision to have an outside salesperson representing you, it needs to be a good fit. We had a lot of discussions about growth and revenues and percentages and how the contract would remain mutually beneficial for both of us.”

Pierson-Jolliffe said the State Fair of Virginia was also “looking for creativity that will give our events some spark.”

There were "checkpoints along the way” to make sure if it was not working, they could tweak or call it quits. They sealed the deal in 2017, and the contract will run for no less than three years. “The goal is for long-term,” she said.

Prior to hiring Spectra, the fair had a part-time in-house employee chasing sponsors as well as an outside sales firm. “We considered hiring a full-time staffer who was solely focused on sponsorships but, in the end, decided to go with Spectra because they understand how the facility runs,” she said.

Sponsorship deals can range from on-site activations that can run as low as $10,000 to mid-six figures for a naming rights contract. Vanin said that Spectra had a “number of prospects for future sponsors; we have a decent book of business.”

Vanin believes Spectra is an expert in the medium of sponsorship and trusts the company can apply the experience and knowledge they have across the many varied properties they represent to the fair industry. “We understand the fair industry and know how to do business the right way,” he said. “We also understand that agriculture, education and culture are important initiatives for fairs.”

Spectra is a turnkey service. They hire the director of corporate partnerships, in conjunction with the fair, who then works out of the fair offices to become an extension of the fair staff.

“We design the sales collateral, provide a market analysis and comparison to similar properties in the region and across the country, providing an in-depth valuation of available sponsorship assets and provide weekly reporting,” he said.

Spectra currently services 15 fairs/fairgrounds through its Food Services & Hospitality division, including Ford Midway at Ford Park Entertainment Complex, Beaumont, Texas; Curry County Fairgrounds, Clovis, N.M.; Orange County Fair & Event Center, Costa Mesa, Calif.; Chilhowee Park, Knoxville, Tenn.; Canada Western Fair District, London, Ontario; The Ranch-Larimer County Fairgrounds and Events Complex, Loveland, Colo.; Lea County Fairgrounds,  Lovington, N.M.; Memphis (Tenn.) Fairgrounds Complex; Los Angeles County Fairplex, Pomona, Calif.; Clark County Fairgrounds, Ridgefield, Wash.; ? Alameda County Fairgrounds, Pleasanton, Calif.; Richard M. Borchard Fairgrounds, Robstown, Texas; California Exposition & State Fairgrounds, Sacramento, Calif.; Sonoma County Fairgrounds, Santa Rosa, Calif. and Ventura County (Calif.) Fairgrounds at Seaside.

“There’s a need and desire from the new wave of executive directors of fairs who are looking for new ways to drive revenue,” said Vanin. “Having a group like Spectra that didn’t necessarily grow up in the fair world, will bring a fresh perspective.”



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Orlando Bowl Gets Familiar Sponsor
Posted: 12 Apr 2017, 4:30 pm

Camping World, Orlando, Fla., ready for football.

The annual NCAA college football bowl game played in Orlando’s Camping World Stadium will now have a fitting sponsor: Camping World.

Camping World has signed a multiyear agreement with Florida Citrus Sports to present the Camping World Bowl in Orlando, the game most recently known as the Russell Athletic Bowl, that features teams from the Atlantic Coast and Big 12 conferences in late December of each year.

Camping World has already taken over as the naming-rights sponsor for the host venue, the City of Orlando’s 1936-built stadium, most commonly known as the Citrus Bowl. Following a $207-million renovation that wrapped up in 2014, Camping World signed on for the venue’s naming rights in April 2016.

It hosted a first-ever Camping World Kickoff game, with the inaugural event in 2016, pitting Florida State against Ole Miss in front of a sell-out crowd.

“We’re excited to extend our successful partnership with Florida Citrus Sports and the collegiate partners who participate in this great game each year,” said Marcus Lemonis, chairman and CEO of Camping World and Good Sam Enterprises. “The core platform we have in Orlando with the stadium naming rights and Camping World Kickoff game makes this expansion a natural fit. Florida is a key market for us and that, coupled with the nationwide exposure of this post-season bowl game, makes it an ideal opportunity.”

As part of the deal, Camping World expects to receive national exposure through television, radio and online media recognition during the television broadcast and outdoor and print advertising throughout Central Florida. Camping World will also be featured on signage and event collateral throughout bowl week and within the stadium. The two parties declined to divulge the length or value of the agreement. Russell Athletic lasted five years as the naming rights sponsor for the bowl game.

“Florida Citrus Sports is thrilled for the opportunity to deepen our relationship with Camping World, who has proven to be an incredible partner to our organization and to Orlando,” said Steve Hogan, CEO of FCSports, in a statement. “We’re also humbled that they chose to partner with us again and believe that to be a testament to the value that our community, our stadium and our events provide.”

This year’s Camping World Bowl will serve as the 28th edition of the game, the 17th in Orlando. It currently hosts the top non-New Year’s Six selection from the Atlantic Coast Conference and the second non-New Year’s Six selection from the Big 12 Conference. In 2016, Miami defeated West Virginia in front of over 48,600 fans in the 65,000-seat venue. Just over 40,000 fans attended the 2015 version of the game.

Camping World Stadium hosts three bowl games each postseason. It was the only stop on the Rolling Stones’ Zip Code Tour in 2015, hosted three Copa America Centenario games in 2016, hosted an outdoor Guns ‘n Roses in concert in 2016, housed the new MLS Orlando City Soccer team until its soccer-specific venue opened and, this month, became the first outdoor stadium in the country to host WWE Wrestlemania for a second time.

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Hot Tickets for April 12, 2017
Posted: 12 Apr 2017, 1:00 pm

Journey and Asia kicked off a 2017 co-headlining tour in March, and their Spokane (Wash.) Veterans Memorial Arena show made our Hot Tickets chart this week. With ticket prices ranging from $30-$95, the CMoore Live-promoted event grossed over $600,000 with 8,100 fans rocking out to some of the bands’ most iconic hits. Journey and Asia are currently taking a break from their tour, but will be picking back up in Las Vegas at the Joint at Hard Rock Hotel and Casino where they will begin a residency that is scheduled to take up most of May. There have also been a slew of new dates added to the tour, which will keep the bands sharing a stage through summer.

The 52nd Academy of Country Music Awards hit many of the right notes as the show took #1 this week, grossing nearly $6 million at its new home at T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas. Over 11,000 country music fans saw ticket prices ranging from $350-$750 for the sold-out event, where Dierks Bentley and Luke Bryan returned to the stage to host. The ratings showed almost 11-million viewers tuning in to watch country music’s biggest event of the year.

HOT TICKETS is a weekly summary of the top acts and ticket sales as reported to VT PULSE. Following are the top 20 concerts and events, the top 5 in each seating capacity category, which took place between March 14-April 11.

15,001 or More Seats

10,001-15,000 Seats

5,001-10,000 Seats

5,000 or Fewer Seats

1) 52nd Academy of Country Music Awards
Gross Sales: $5,948,538; Venue: T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas; Attendance: 11,363; Ticket Range: $750-$350; Promoter: Academy of Country Music; Dates: April 2; No. of Shows: 1

2) Justin Bieber
Gross Sales: $3,591,943; Venue: Mount Smart Stadium, Auckland, New Zealand; Attendance: 35,420; Ticket Range: $118.58-$48.29; Promoter: AEG Presents, Concerts West, Frontier Touring ; Dates: March 18; No. of Shows: 1

3) KCON 2017
Gross Sales: $1,556,510; Venue: Arena Ciudad de Mexico, Mexico City; Attendance: 21,573; Ticket Range: $240.44-$53.43; Promoter: CJ Entertainment; Dates: March 17-18; No. of Shows: 2

4) Dixie Chicks
Gross Sales: $1,235,317; Venue: Qudos Bank Arena, Sydney; Attendance: 12,383; Ticket Range: $151.30-$75.61; Promoter: Chugg Entertainment, Rob Potts Entertainment Edge; Dates: March 29; No. of Shows: 1

5) Sing Me Back Home: The Music of Merle Haggard
Gross Sales: $1,229,399; Venue: Bridgestone Arena, Nashville, Tenn.; Attendance: 15,574; Ticket Range: $299.50-$25; Promoter: Outback Concerts; Dates: April 6; No. of Shows: 1

1) Dixie Chicks
Gross Sales: $833,765; Venue: Perth (Australia) Arena; Attendance: 7,536; Ticket Range: $149.98-$74.95; Promoter: Chugg Entertainment; Dates: April 5; No. of Shows: 1

2) Santana , Doobie Brothers
Gross Sales: $758,688; Venue: Perth (Australia) Arena; Attendance: 7,638; Ticket Range: $123.80-$82.53; Promoter: Chugg Entertainment; Dates: April 7; No. of Shows: 1

3) Eric Church
Gross Sales: $650,701; Venue: Intrust Bank Arena, Wichita, Kan.; Attendance: 13,105; Ticket Range: $89-$22; Promoter: Messina Touring Group, AEG Presents; Dates: April 7; No. of Shows: 1

4) Blake Shelton
Gross Sales: $632,235; Venue: Ford Center, Evansville, Ind.; Attendance: 9,366; Ticket Range: $82.50-$32.50; Promoter: Messina Touring Group; Dates: March 16; No. of Shows: 1

5) Journey, Asia
Gross Sales: $620,262; Venue: Spokane (Wash.) Veterans Memorial Arena; Attendance: 8,071; Ticket Range: $95-$29.50; Promoter: CMoore Live; Dates: March 16; No. of Shows: 1

1) Cirque du Soleil - OVO
Gross Sales: $1,352,563; Venue: H-E-B Center at Cedar Park (Texas); Attendance: 19,658; Ticket Range: $120-$37; Promoter: Cirque du Soleil; Dates: March 15-19; No. of Shows: 7

2) Elton John
Gross Sales: $1,112,819; Venue: The Broadmoor World Arena at Colorado Springs; Attendance: 9,081; Ticket Range: $159.50-$49.50; Promoter: Goldenvoice; Dates: March 16; No. of Shows: 1

3) Elton John
Gross Sales: $984,951; Venue: Tucson (Ariz.) Arena; Attendance: 8,199; Ticket Range: $159.50-$49.50; Promoter: Goldenvoice; Dates: March 21; No. of Shows: 1

4) Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone in Concert
Gross Sales: $711,598; Venue: Radio City Music Hall, New York; Attendance: 9,685; Ticket Range: $83.50-$43.50; Promoter: Live Nation, MSG Live; Dates: March 31-April 1; No. of Shows: 2

5) Franco De Vita
Gross Sales: $634,718; Venue: Radio City Music Hall, New York; Attendance: 5,600; Ticket Range: $179-$49; Promoter: Loud And Alive; Dates: March 25; No. of Shows: 1

1) Cher
Gross Sales: $2,885,444; Venue: The Theater at MGM National Harbor, Oxon Hill, Md.; Attendance: 15,826; Ticket Range: $360-$120; Promoter: AEG Presents, MRES; Dates: March 17-26; No. of Shows: 6

2) The Bodyguard
Gross Sales: $1,259,071; Venue: Fox Theatre, Atlanta; Attendance: 20,184; Ticket Range: $125-$30; Promoter: Broadway Across America; Dates: March 28-April 2; No. of Shows: 8

3) Jersey Boys
Gross Sales: $1,085,922; Venue: Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, Miami; Attendance: 13,397; Ticket Range: $165-$29; Promoter: In Concert Ltd, Broadway Across America; Dates: April 4-9; No. of Shows: 8

4) Jerry Seinfeld
Gross Sales: $735,494; Venue: Fox Theatre, Atlanta; Attendance: 9,176; Ticket Range: $171.50-$46.50; Promoter: JS Touring; Dates: April 7; No. of Shows: 2

5) Joe Bonamassa
Gross Sales: $532,238; Venue: Orpheum Theatre, Minneapolis; Attendance: 4,190; Ticket Range: $575-$89; Promoter: J & R Adventures; Dates: March 17-18; No. of Shows: 2

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


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Fans Experience Player's POV Through VR
Posted: 10 Apr 2017, 4:00 pm

Opening day at Chase Field, Phoenix, Ariz., was captured by R&R Partners to send to VR headsets in the stadium so fans could experience the game from the players' point of view.

SportTechie digs into the VR trend in sports with a look at initiatives in Seattle and Phoenix.

(Editor's note: These stories appeared previously on

Flash back to December when Pixvana, a Seattle software startup, announced a partnership with the Seattle Sounders FC to bring fans the club’s first virtual reality experience. The company provided just a glimpse then of what was to come.

The Sounders last month proceeded to release their virtual reality experience before their home opener against the New York Red Bulls. The VR experience captured the excitement of Sounders' matchday, in addition to the team’s historic turnaround and postseason run that eventually led to its first league title in 2016.

The VR experience is available to fans all season before every Sounders' home match as part of The NINETY’s matchday activities using an HTC Vive VR headset via Pixvana’s SPIN Player.

The experience incorporated footage from five games and also featured never-before-captured, behind-the-scenes moments from in the stands and on the field — as well as from the stage of the club’s MLS Cup Champions March and Rally at Seattle Center.

“Virtual reality has opened up an entirely new way to experience sports and we’re thrilled to be able to share this unique view of the historic 2016 season,” Sounders' chief operating officer Bart Wiley said in a statement. “We have enjoyed working with Pixvana and Intentional Futures in the continuing pursuit of providing our fans with some of the most memorable matchday experiences in the league.”

Pixvana created this experience by taking photos that were stitched together to make a 360-degree view and editing them to make it a video.

“We’re proud to work with the Sounders and Intentional Futures to deliver the most immersive and most high resolution soccer content that’s been captured to date,” Aaron Rhodes, Executive Producer at Pixvana, said in a statement. “A compilation of five games, including the historic MLS Cup win, this VR experience gives viewers incredible access to both the fan experience and the on-field action. Thanks to Intentional Futures, we were also able to incorporate awesome graphics into the footage to create a fun Jumbotron effect throughout.”

Arizona Diamondback fans will now be able to experience baseball from their favorite players’ points of view as well.

The Diamondbacks announced they are partnering with Cox Communications and R&R Partners to bring fans the Cox Connects VR Bullpen area to the main concourse of Chase Field.

The VR experience will allow fans to see through the eyes of pitchers, see what it looks like from the player’s perspective to field a ground ball and catch a fly ball. It will also give people behind-the-scenes looks at the life of a Major League Baseball player.

Cox Connects uses HTC VIVE to showcase content. Fans that are not looking through the headset will be able to see the VR experience on television displays.

This isn’t R&R Partners' first project with bringing sports fans virtual reality experiences. The agency also worked with The Penguins to give fans an exclusive look at the Stanley Cup.

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Kurtz Takes TicketsWest Helm
Posted: 5 Apr 2017, 9:45 pm

Dusty Kurtzdusty202.jpg

Dusty Kurtz is the new president of TicketsWest following the retirement of founder Jack Lucas, who stepped down March 26 after 30 years running the company. Lucas isn't leaving though. He will continue to run West Coast Entertainment and "he's just down the hall," Kurtz said.

“As the new president I’m very comfortable with our core values and the thing that’s most important to me is that we never compromise that,” said Kurtz. “I really wanted to work with a group that prioritized relationships and that’s what Jack has established here. The quality of our clients and the quality of our staff comes first.”

Kurtz said he plans few changes but is going to look at new product offerings and innovative ways to be more effective. “With our industry changing as rapidly as it has in the last few years there’s an opportunity to look at what we put in front of our clients and to gain more efficiencies,” he said. “We’re going to spend a lot of time talking about that.”

Kurtz joined TicketsWest in 2006 as a project manager in the Denver office. He was promoted in 2008 to regional manager and in April 2011 he became the TicketsWest vice president and moved to the head office in Spokane, Wash. Prior to his positions with TicketsWest, Kurtz worked at Montana State University, Bozeman, and Brick Breeden Field House under Duane Morris.

“The promotion to president is a good thing,” said Kurtz. “Jack has put the company in a great position. We have great partners like Spectra Ticketing & Fan Engagement and I’m very fortunate to have gotten that call 11 years ago.”

Lucas will continue to serve as president of West Coast Entertainment, a concert and Broadway promotion company serving the Pacific Northwest.

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Fanalytics Drive Ticket Sales
Posted: 5 Apr 2017, 9:00 pm

Arri Landsman-Roos, Jacksonville Jaguars; Evan Weinstein, Steez Promo; Mike Leopando, Milwaukee Bucks; Kyle Burkhardt, Los Angeles Kings, and Mark Meyerson, Vendini, discuss data during XLIVE, Paley Center for Media, Los Angeles, April 4. (VT Photo)

REPORTING FROM BEVERLY HILLS — XLIVE held their annual data & analytics summit, April 4-5, at Paley Center for Media, Los Angeles, and the consensus among the speakers, panelists and attendees was that the advent of mobile technology has produced a wealth of data that gives the marketers their best tools yet for ticket sales and fan retention.

“The biggest metrics for us is how recently the fan interacted with us and the genre they were exploring,” said Mike Leopando, director, business analytics, Milwaukee Bucks. “With these two components we know exactly who to target, when to target them and what genres to push at them.”

“We used to have one lead score for every product,” said Kyle Burkhardt, business intelligence, Los Angeles Kings. “But the industry is moving toward having a different score for different products. Creating different scores allows us to push single ticket holders into mini-packages and flex plan holders into season ticket buyers.”

Arri Landsman-Roos, director, business analytics, Jacksonville Jaguars, discussed how the data he was getting from AEG was helping turn amphitheater goers into Jaguar fans. “We looked at the data and it suggested that pregame concerts might be  a way to get people who didn’t consider a Jaguars game into the Jaguar stadium. A lot those fans craved the ‘experience,' not just a particular music event, and we’re trying to tap into that segment.”

Burkhardt found that having data that tells him who came to a Kings hockey game and also went to a Los Angeles Galaxy soccer game helps him micro-target fans. “It’s all about the data points telling us more and more about each fan, individually,” he said.

The avalanche and breadth of data available today is staggering and knowing when and how to widen the data collected is as vital as the data itself. “We all struggle with how to keep the data from going stale,” said Leopando. “If you have data from several years ago, trying to market to that person today is nearly impossible. Update your markers at least every six months and flow the new information through your data warehouses as often as possible.”

Data is being used as a way the sales people approach the market. “Trying to get people while they are still engaged or likely to buy is the best way to make a sale and the data we collect is the best way to know when that customer is ripe,” said Burkhardt.

Email appears to be out-of-date, replaced by mobile engagement. “I am beginning to think email is not the best way to reach customers anymore,” said Evan Weinstein, partner, Steez Promo. “We’re now in a social media driven system. I’m seeing emails opened by only 35 percent of the recipients.”

“It’s less about emails being antiquated and more about these broad emails not working,” said Burkhardt. “You can do so much better with segmentation and targeting a particular buyer at a particular time.”

Weinstein suggested responding and replying to every single social media post. “Our interaction is up 300 percent since we started doing that,” he said. “We’ve become pushers of content across social media platforms. We need to give them value so they come back and give me value. By going on Instagram or running a contest I can give them value.”


Multiple touchpoints and multiple platforms make it difficult to get a 360 degree view of the customer, said Mark Meyerson, VP & GM, Vendini. “Food and beverage data and other segments that the buyer touches are all part of the puzzle. Putting all the data together in one place can be challenging.”

“Optimizing per caps needs the data from all the touchpoints,” said Burkhardt. “So we’ve centralized the data at one source and have it pushed out to the individual departments. Using the centralized data approach, the executives can see the buy-in and they can use the data and adapt from it and it also gets them to reinvest in the data.”

Landsman-Ross thinks the 360 data concept is overrated. “I want as much data as I can get,” he said. “But 55 percent of our revenue is from tickets; 40 percent from sponsorships and only five percent comes from food & beverage. The investment required to know what a fan buys at the concession stand is not as helpful as focused data explaining why a fan suddenly stopped buying tickets.”

Weinstein said data mining can produce data models that can identify someone who is 80 percent like the model and then be marketed to. “Finding fans who are similar to other fans based on data helps us pinpoint who to promote to and how.”


Burkhardt said most of their single-game tickets are sold through StubHub. “We have very few tickets available for single-game sale on primary,” he said. “So we have a deal with StubHub that allows us to identify that buyer who is going to multiple games and then we can get them into our pipeline. If we can get them to buy a mini-plan, we can then get them into a 11-game package, or a half-season package.”

“It an interesting relationship between all the secondary ticketers and there’s a lot of promise in getting those fans into the funnel,” said Meyerson.

By reducing the number of secondary ticket platforms the Bucks work with, Leopando is able to get solid weekly reports. “It can be tough to get the data from a long list of secondary ticket sellers and we went down to only three which made getting the data a lot easier,” he said.


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Levy, Bon Appetit Picked by Warriors
Posted: 5 Apr 2017, 5:00 pm

Hot Dog Bill's hot dog-style burger, to be available in 2019 at Chase Center, San Francisco.

San Francisco’s Golden State Warriors announced a first-of-its-kind hospitality partnership between Palo Alto’s Bon Appétit Management Co. and Chicago-based Levy to manage food and beverage initiatives at Chase Center, San Francisco, set to open at the start of 2019-20 NBA season.

The details of the agreement have not been disclosed, although Stephen Collins, Golden State Warriors’ CEO, described it as similar to a management fee deal as opposed to a commission deal, with incentives in terms of milestones and metrics.

“We wanted a holistic, integrated program that spoke to the Bay Area,” said Collins. “We told everyone this is not a typical model; we’re not looking to take money off the table or commission a deal, but rather proposing a business where all interests are aligned and the Warriors have ultimate control.”

The Warriors organization was initially skeptical that it would find a company to deliver on the project’s expectations as it pertained to local, sustainable, Bay Area experiences, and made sure those vying for the opportunity were aware that it reserved the right to turn down all proposals to be self-operating. This resulted in many companies dropping out of consideration. The organization would not reveal the other companies who submitted proposals for the project.

“The owners from day one wanted a unique, local and relevant food and beverage experience, and it became clear that this partnership was a way to deliver and exceed expectations,” said Jeff Wineman, Levy’s executive vice president, development.

Bakesale-Betty-Crispy-Chicken-Sandwich.jpgBakesale Betty's Crispy Chicken Sandwich.

Levy plans to leverage its E15 analytics subsidiary to formulate plans related to additional foodservice programming and pricing at Chase Center.

“This will be functional to help accurately identify what food and beverages we should serve, what to charge, etc.,” said Wineman. “We don’t have all the answers yet, as we’re still gathering information.”

As part of the partnership, five local, well-known Bay Area food businesses have been chosen as food providers. These include Oakland’s Bakesale Betty; San Francisco’s Tacolicious; Sam’s Chowder House of Half Moon Bay; Hot Dog Bill’s Burger Dog, previously available only to members at San Francisco’s Olympic Club Golf Course and, in a homage to the Warriors’ history and late NBA Hall-of-Famer Nate Thurmond, Chase Center will revive his acclaimed Big Nate’s BBQ.

“Levy is very talented in terms of analytics and technology in arenas, and we thought it would be terrific to collaborate together with our food experience, sourcing and iconic concepts that we’ve done in venues,” said Fedele Bauccio, CEO of Bon Appétit. “We will execute for them in a way that is ever-changing and creates experiences that haven’t been done before, primarily utilizing the best concepts in the Bay Area.”

The Warriors also worked with Atlanta-based Food Service Matters and its founder and principal Mike Plutino, formerly with Levy, on the design component.

“He shepherded us through the process and seized the vision early on,” said Collins. In addition to sourcing from more than 200 Farm to Fork small-farm Bon Appétit partners located within 150 miles of San Francisco, the Warriors, Bon Appétit and Levy are building programs to support locally-owned businesses in the Bay Area. As part of the food program, the team has launched “Taste Makers at Chase Center,” a program that directly benefits Bay Area businesses through networking and educational programs.

Bon Appétit’s clients include corporations, universities and museums around the country, while Levy’s venues include Barclays Center, Brooklyn, N.Y.; United Center, Chicago; Moda Center, Portland, Ore., and the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium opening this summer in Atlanta.

“I give Bon Appétit and Levy lots of credit for listening to what we said, working together to form partnerships to address exactly what we’re looking for and delivering the San Francisco component with the sustainability factor,” said Collins. “They gave us the best of both worlds.”

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N.C. HB2 Reboot Satisfies NCAA
Posted: 5 Apr 2017, 4:00 pm

HB2 repeal in North Carolina

Tuesday, April 4, the National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA) officially ended its ban on holding NCAA events in North Carolina. The prohibition was put in place after the passage of HB2 in March 2016, a bill that removed anti-discrimination protections for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community and required transgender people to use bathrooms in public facilities that matched the gender on their birth certificates.

In a statement, NCAA officials said they “reluctantly” ended the ban because the HB2 replacement bill, called HB142, “minimally achieved a situation where we believe NCAA championships may be conducted in a nondiscriminatory environment.” Whether North Carolina will secure any of the games for 2019-2022 seasons will be announced by NCAA officials on April 18.

HB142 does away with the restrictive bathroom provisions of HB2 and leaves regulation of bathrooms up to the state legislature. It also puts constraints on North Carolina cities from enacting their own LGBT antidiscrimination statutes until 2020.

Some are hopeful the new bill will ease the tension in the state and that events and conventions will return to the state, while activists on both sides of the debate have deemed the "compromise bill" insufficient.

“This issue has definitely impacted Charlotte’s visitor economy over the last year,” said Tom Murray, CEO, Charlotte (N.C.) Regional Visitors Authority (CRVA). “We’re grateful to see that the NCAA has renewed its faith in North Carolina and the Charlotte region once again. The NCAA events are far more important to our region than just the significant economic impact they inject into our community. We’re energized that we’ll be able to both partner with the NCAA and compete to host these events in the coming years.”

With the NCAA back on board, many in North Carolina are hoping for a domino effect that will entice many other organizations and artists that refused to come to the state to return.

It is unknown yet whether NCAA’s decision to play in North Carolina again will affect the eight other states that are currently debating their own “bathroom bills,” but many of the sponsors and supporters of those bills are taking comfort in the resolution of the North Carolina ban.

Texas Republican State Senator Lois Kolkhorst and the author of Senate Bill 6, a bill similar to HB2, was thrilled with the NCAA’s decision on Tuesday. “I applaud the NCAA for now agreeing that there is nothing discriminatory about the Texas Privacy Act or our honest efforts to address the serious issue of privacy and safety in our public facilities and school showers, locker rooms and restrooms.”

Alabama, Arizona, Kansas, Kentucky, Missouri, South Carolina and South Dakota are the other states that currently have “bathroom bill” legislation pending.

Many venues in North Carolina are enthusiastic about the repeal, but cautious. “It’s a good start and I’m optimistic,” said Jeff Bentley, director, Broyhill Civic Center, Lenoir, N.C. “But we’re in a waiting circle. The new law needs to go through the rounds to see how it will shake out.”

“We lost business,” said Rebecca Bolton, GM, Durham (N.C.) Convention Center. “We’d like to think people will understand it’s a new day and we want them to come back.”

Chaos quickly followed the passing of HB2 with major artists such as Bruce Springsteen, Pearl Jam, Cyndi Lauper, Boston, and Ringo Starr refusing to play the state, as well as sporting event cancelations from the National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA), the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) and the National Basketball Association, which withdrew its All-Star Game.

"We will contact all of the concert promoters we work with on a regular basis to ensure that all of the musical artists they represent, including Bruce Springsteen and Boston, who canceled previously scheduled concerts in Greensboro, N.C., due to HB2 are also aware of the repeal,” said Scott Johnson, deputy director, Greensboro (N.C.) Coliseum Complex, in a statement to Venues Today.

When contacted, a spokesman for Springsteen said that Springsteen “has said everything about the law he plans to say” while Steven Van Zant, a member Springsteen's E Street band, tweeted after the repeal and replacement, "It ain't over until the LGBT community and the ACLU say it's over."

Others in the state agree that the HB142 replacement does not change the equation.

“I think HB142 was an attempt to do something about the disaster of HB2, but in my opinion it was not nearly enough,” said North Carolina State Representative Cecil Brockman. “Each entity that pulled out jobs or events will have to analyze the bill for itself, but I do not think it was a clear solution to the issue of discrimination. I think any organization, company, or person who claims to care about equality needs to continue to stand strong for those values.”

Equally unhappy are North Carolina conservatives who see the “compromise bill” as a step backward. "This whole issue has been political from the beginning and I guess it's going to end that way," said Rep. Michael Speciale, R-Craven. "We sold ourselves. The people sitting up there in the galleries are no longer the people that we represent and are no longer the people who we work for. The people on the basketball courts are who we work for."

In total, direct spending losses for cancellations related to HB2 are $83.9 million, according to Laura White, director of communications, CRVA.

“The state lost $77.1 million in direct spending from sports and $6.8 million in convention center revenue,” said White. “We also lost over 63,000 hotel bookings and countless other amounts from dining, shopping and other tourist activity.”

George Habel, VP/Sports Group Capitol Broadcasting Co., said, “We lost the ACC baseball tournament. That was an event that would have drawn 60,000-70,000 people and we lost $2-3 million dollars over the week because of the cancelation. We also lost momentum on hosting that event permanently going forward because we were in the middle of a four-year contract.”

“We are relieved and grateful that our Governor and legislative leaders powered through their deadlock over this and we hope it’s viewed as a resolution by the NCAA and ACC,” he said, “Hopefully we’ll be back in business next spring.”

“Everyone is not jumping for joy because it was a compromise and there are people on both sides of the issue that are not happy today,” said Habel.

One of the unhappy is North Carolina State Representative Deb Butler. “We lost $3.6 billion in revenue, which is enormous considering the entire state budget is only $23 billion. HB142 does nothing to protect the LGBT community and doesn’t address the bigger picture of nondiscrimination. Some felt it was a good first step; I respectfully disagree.”

North Carolina’s southern neighbor, South Carolina, was the beneficiary of some of the business that fled North Carolina is the wake of HB2’s passage including men’s/women’s ACC tournaments, conventions and concerts.

Despite the NCAA decision, Duane Parrish, director, South Carolina Department of Parks and Tourism, is not confident that HB142 addresses all of the issues that HB2 brought to his neighbor state. “Both sides seem unhappy with what they did and it’s a possibility that North Carolina will continue to lose business,” he said. “Sports, concerts and conventions all equate to economic impact. It seems like there is still the risk that things will be perceived as still not fair and equal.”

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Reds Lock Up Fan Food
Posted: 5 Apr 2017, 4:00 pm

Food lockers at Great American Ball Park, Cincinnati.

(Editor's note: This story originally appeared in

Starting July 10, visitors to Great American Ball Park, Cincinnati, home of the Cincinnati Reds, will be able to experience a new food and beverage pickup service.

Thanks to a partnership between food service provider Delaware North and Apex Supply Chain Technologies, fans will be able to pick up their food and beverage orders in a locker-style compartment. It will be the first use of the Apex technology for a professional sports league venue in the United States.

Don Dierig, Delaware North General Manager for the Great American Ball Park, said he was first introduced to the technology at a Delaware North Technology Summit last year.

“I thought it was one of the more unique and innovative things that I’d seen in food service,” Dierig said. “I thought it would be great if we could be part of it.

“We went out and toured the (Apex) property, heard what the lockers could do for us and then went in their innovation lab to see how it would be applied to our ballpark.”

After placing an order through MLB’s Ballpark app, a secure pickup code is sent to the fan once it is ready at a locker location. Fans then scan their code and the door is automatically opened so the food and beverage can be retrieved.

The locker-style compartments for the initial pilot phase at the Great American Ball Park will start at a size of 13” wide by 14” tall by 16” deep, which fits four beers, two popcorns and two hotdogs.

As Dierig explained, there is the potential for multiple-size lockers depending on customers’ purchases during the piloting. Initially, the lockers will be placed at two separate locations throughout the stadium and will be set at an ambient temperature, but they’ll have the capability of being set to hot or cold temperatures.

Dierig said that during the trial phase, Delaware North and Apex will also figure out the ideal threshold of time available for fans to pick up their food and beverages before it has to be recooked and replaced.

“Apex has a very turnkey solution where we felt that the customers could order their food through an app, and then we had a way for them to pick it up and send alerts back to them as opposed to waiting in line or having a line dedicated to pick up,” Dierig said of the advantages of having the locker-style system.

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Golden 1 Center Stresses Community Support
Posted: 5 Apr 2017, 2:10 pm

Sacramento Kings ambassadors greet the one-millionth guest to attend an event at Golden 1 Center, Sacramento, Calif.

In just under six months, Golden 1 Center has hosted more than one million visitors, a benchmark Juan Rodriguez, SVP and general manager, has never seen happen so quickly at any other venue.

“It’s not just the Kings. Everything that’s coming in here — Joel Osteen on Friday or Eric Church last Thursday with Louis [Messina] or Arenacross this weekend, we’re selling out shows many people wouldn’t think would be supported in a city like Sacramento. Sacramento has been so undervalued for so long,” Rodriguez declared.

He attributes a lot of it to community support, which has been growing steadily since the arena opened Oct. 4, 2016. “This is the first time in 30 years people get to sit on a cushioned seat in an arena in Sacramento. Even in 1985, when Sleep Train Arena opened, it wasn’t really a state-of-the-art building back then. This is a different time for Sacramento,” Rodriguez said.

“I think Golden 1 Center has finally accomplished comfort,” said Ned Collett, Oak View Group Arena Alliance, of one reason the venue has been so successful.

There will be no resting on laurels at Golden 1 Center. With the Sacramento Kings National Basketball Association season wrapping up, Rodriguez is looking toward more community events and a broader open-door policy to keep the momentum going.

“Now we’re looking at creating our own events and giving back to the community that has supported this endeavor,” Rodriguez said, citing festivals and community events as in the works.

“Even roaming through the building, opening on off days to try the concessions stands on a Saturday afternoon is a possibility. Sacramento is a very outdoor community; they love being outside. With our big doors, you have that indoor/outdoor feel. The doors are open for tonight’s game and you feel like you’re not inside an arena; it’s like you’re outside.”

As soon as the weather turned nice, they tested Food Truck Fridays on the Plaza a couple of times, with doors open for guests to come in and enjoy the arena. In December, they hosted a holiday movie night for season ticketholders.

Public tours, which have been requested by the community, will commence this summer, Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez harkened to pre-Golden 1 Center days when the downtown plaza on which it was built saw close to 10-million people walking through the area every year. When the retail around Golden 1 Center opens later this year, the connection between the downtown plaza and Old Sacramento will be re-established, and so will the traffic, he hopes.

“But I can’t tell you how many people are sitting out on the plaza reading books on a Tuesday afternoon under the trees on the benches even now,” Rodriguez said. “People are enjoying video boards, living walls and our attractions outside. Golden 1 Center is becoming this communal campfire location in the middle of downtown Sacramento. You experience the energy around you. That was Vivek’s (Ranadive, Kings owner) vision from day one, to create a communal area where people come together and enjoy life experiences.”

Even in promoting the one-millionth guest, the Kings have emphasized the venue’s impact on the community.

Per the press release: Yesterday (March 29), the Sacramento Kings celebrated the one-millionth guest to pass through Golden 1 Center’s doors. The most technologically advanced and sustainable arena in the world has profoundly impacted the Sacramento region. In the six months the facility has been open, Golden 1 Center has become the city’s new home for world-class entertainment with 18 concerts, 26 family shows, 20 sporting events like WWE, UFC, PBR, the First and Second Round of March Madness and championship high school basketball, as well as 40 Sacramento Kings games and many more private and community-based events.

The arena’s innovative farm-to-court food program delivered over 62,000 slices of pizza, 35,000 nachos, and 40,000 burgers with ingredients sourced from producers within 150 miles of the arena. [Legends is concessionaire.]

With the fastest internet connection in sports, Golden 1 Center’s networks have processed 931 terabytes of data in six months – the equivalent of 18,625 Blu-Ray discs.

And as the greenest arena in the world, the 3,000+ photovoltaic panels on the roof have generated over 280,000 kWh of power for the arena. The remainder of the building’s energy is generated at a solar farm 40 miles away. That’s enough kWh for a typical electric vehicle to drive over 800,000 miles – nearly 300 cross-country trips.

The one-millionth guest was met at the door by the Sacramento Kings dancers, the social media team and the digital team, said James Rasmussen, director of arena programming. Footage was screened on the scoreboard with special graphics congratulating the one-millionth guest.

“Throughout the night, we presented the one-millionth guest and his family with gifts and season-tickets for next year,” Rasmussen said. “Sales have been incredible for Kings' games and concerts, but we didn’t anticipate selling out as many shows as we have. The market is supporting the building.” Rasmussen said that market stretches to the Oregon and Nevada borders, especially for the big concerts.

Rodriguez also celebrated the size of the market and the fact that Golden 1 Center has hosted a very diverse and universally successful number of events. “I don’t think this is a honeymoon,” Rodriguez said. “People are surprised at how supportive and committed this community is to making this a success. Since Paul McCartney opened it on Oct. 4, it’s been night after night of pure excitement. I feel that passionate about what this building has meant to this community.”

Golden 1 Center will finish its first fiscal year in June with close to 185 events. “Hopefully by the first true calendar year, we’ll be way over 200 events, not counting meetings and corporate events,” Rodriguez said. “We’ve just been really, really lucky.”

Going forward, the mantra is to keep improving, never become complacent. Rodriguez is even looking forward to the opening in 2019  of Chase Center in San Francisco, new home to the Golden State Warriors, because that will give the market multiple opportunities to see big shows. “I see it as two separate markets, an enhancement to promoters and routers who can have two great stops and great crowds in Northern California. Fans will see favorite artists twice, maybe three times or four times.”

“I joke with people that you haven’t seen anything yet,” Rodriguez said. “Sacramento is the next great American city.”

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Dallas Final Four A Compelling Win
Posted: 5 Apr 2017, 2:00 pm

From the excitement of the game to the support from fans, to the operations expertise of American Airlines Center (Dallas0 staff, the 2017 Women’s Final Four was the kind of success that’s making Dave Brown, GM, very optimistic.

With the National Collegiate Athletic Association scheduled to announce championships site selections for 2018-2022 based upon bids received from across the country, Tuesday, April 18, American Airlines Center feels its case is stronger with its first Women’s Final Four complete.

“Everything came together,” Brown said. “The games were compelling and exciting.”

Ken Kuhl, venue assistant GM, said the 2017 Women’s Final Four held at the American Airlines Center drew 38,431 fans for an average of 19,216 per session.  It was the 12th highest attendance count in the history of the 36-year old NCAA championship event.

The April 2 national championship game between the University of South Carolina and Mississippi State University was played before a sellout crowd of 19,229 fans, the first sellout since the 2014 Women’s Final Four in Nashville, Tenn..

Even without alcohol sales, per caps for food and beverage, provided by Levy Restaurants, were strong. Per caps were $15.91 the first day and $11.40 the second day, for an average of $13.63, according to Brown.

Levy provided several souvenir and specialty items which were visually tempting in concourse displays. “We wanted to make it a special memory,” Brown said.

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Hot Tickets for April 5, 2017
Posted: 5 Apr 2017, 1:00 pm

Justin Bieber, wearing his lucky Tupac Shakur shirt, ANZ Stadium, Sydney, Australia.

Justin Bieber took over our Hot Tickets chart this week with four international shows grossing over $21 million with 205,000 fans in attendance. The 22-year-old, Canadian-born singer kicked off his “Purpose” world tour on March 9, 2016, at KeyArena at Seattle (Wash.) Center and will wrap up on Sept. 6, 2017, at Rogers Center, Toronto. As an addition to his world tour, Beiber will be performing in stadiums across North America in the summer of 2017 starting on July 29, where Beliebers will be able to catch him at AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas. During this leg of his tour, Bieber will be donating $1 from every ticket sold to Pencils of Promise, a charity that is close to his heart.

The Backstreet Boys have taken over the Las Vegas Strip and landed on our Hot Tickets chart twice this week with their new “Backstreet Boys: Larger Than Life” residency at The Axis at Planet Hollywood. The Caesars Entertainment and Live Nation-promoted residency ranked with a combined six shows, grossed over $3.6 million and entertained over 28,000 fans proving the best-selling boy band of all time is still among pop’s most influential performers. The 10-week residency continues on April 12-15.

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 March 7-April 4.

15,001 or More Seats

10,001-15,000 Seats

5,001-10,000 Seats

5,000 or Fewer Seats

1) Eric Clapton
Gross Sales: $7,454,614; Venue: Madison Square Garden, New York; Attendance: 30,826; Ticket Range: $494-$69; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: March 19-20; No. of Shows: 2

2) Justin Bieber
Gross Sales: $6,224,570; Venue: ANZ Stadium, Sydney; Attendance: 65,836; Ticket Range: $124.41-$51.79; Promoter: AEG Presents, Concerts West, Frontier Touring; Dates: March 15; No. of Shows: 1

3) Justin Bieber
Gross Sales: $5,835,713; Venue: Etihad Stadium, Melbourne, Australia; Attendance: 54,821; Ticket Range: $121.36-$51.01; Promoter: AEG Presents, Concerts West; Dates: March 10; No. of Shows: 1

4) Justin Bieber
Gross Sales: $4,904,658; Venue: Estadio Nacional Julio Martinez Pradanos, Santiago, Chile; Attendance: 43,000; Ticket Range: $339.37-$54.30; Promoter: AEG Presents, Concerts West, DG Medios; Dates: March 23; No. of Shows: 1

5) Justin Bieber
Gross Sales: $4,180,156; Venue: Suncorp Stadium, Milton, Australia; Attendance: 41,000; Ticket Range: $125.65-$51.01; Promoter: AEG Presents, Concerts West, Frontier Touring ; Dates: March 13; No. of Shows: 1

1) Ed Sheeran
Gross Sales: $1,155,960; Venue: Hallenstadion, Zurich; Attendance: 14,000; Ticket Range: $90-$70; Promoter: All Blues; Dates: March 19; No. of Shows: 1

2) Dixie Chicks
Gross Sales: $1,065,999; Venue: Brisbane (Australia) Entertainment Centre; Attendance: 9,252; Ticket Range: $151.30-$75.61; Promoter: Chugg Entertainment, Rob Potts Entertainment Edge; Dates: March 25; No. of Shows: 1

3) Drake
Gross Sales: $1,038,400; Venue: Mercedes-Benz Arena, Berlin; Attendance: 13,747; Ticket Range: $91.42-$64.53; Promoter: Live Nation Germany; Dates: March 9; No. of Shows: 1

4) Red Hot Chili Peppers
Gross Sales: $1,029,938; Venue: Valley View Casino Center, San Diego; Attendance: 10,396; Ticket Range: $103-$53; Promoter: Frank Productions, AEG Presents; Dates: March 21; No. of Shows: 1

5) Florida Georgia Line
Gross Sales: $697,897; Venue: Atlantic City (N.J.) Boardwalk Hall; Attendance: 11,515; Ticket Range: $75-$29.75; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: March 17; No. of Shows: 1

1) Bruno Mars
Gross Sales: $2,158,850; Venue: Park Theater at Monte Carlo, Las Vegas; Attendance: 10,466; Ticket Range: $500-$99.50; Promoter: Live Nation, MGM Resorts; Dates: March 11-12; No. of Shows: 2

2) Britney Spears
Gross Sales: $1,890,756; Venue: The Axis at Planet Hollywood, Las Vegas; Attendance: 12,590; Ticket Range: $495-$54; Promoter: Caesars Entertainment; Dates: March 22-25; No. of Shows: 3

3) Backstreet Boys
Gross Sales: $1,872,052; Venue: The Axis at Planet Hollywood, Las Vegas; Attendance: 14,506; Ticket Range: $294-$34; Promoter: Caesars Entertainment, Live Nation; Dates: March 15-18; No. of Shows: 3

4) Backstreet Boys
Gross Sales: $1,760,650; Venue: The Axis at Planet Hollywood, Las Vegas; Attendance: 13,847; Ticket Range: $294-$34; Promoter: Caesars Entertainment, Live Nation; Dates: March 8-11; No. of Shows: 3

5) West Coast Conference
Gross Sales: $1,361,944; Venue: Orleans Arena, Las Vegas; Attendance: 65,123; Ticket Range: $650-$135; Promoter: West Coast Conference; Dates: March 2-7; No. of Shows: 10

1) Matilda
Gross Sales: $1,327,719; Venue: Orpheum Theatre, Minneapolis; Attendance: 18,939; Ticket Range: $141-$21; Promoter: Hennepin Theatre Trust, Broadway Across America; Dates: March 28-April 2; No. of Shows: 8

2) The Bodyguard
Gross Sales: $1,259,071; Venue: Fox Theatre, Atlanta; Attendance: 20,184; Ticket Range: $125-$30; Promoter: Broadway Across America; Dates: March 28-April 2; No. of Shows: 8

3) The Bodyguard
Gross Sales: $1,068,896; Venue: Durham (N.C.) Performing Arts Center; Attendance: 19,798; Ticket Range: $166-$32; Promoter: PFM, Nederlander Presentations (New York); Dates: March 14-19; No. of Shows: 8

4) Annie
Gross Sales: $1,006,681; Venue: Fox Theatre, Atlanta; Attendance: 15,419; Ticket Range: $125-$30; Promoter: Broadway Across America; Dates: March 17-19; No. of Shows: 5

5) Jersey Boys
Gross Sales: $723,751; Venue: Des Moines (Iowa) Civic Center; Attendance: 11,514; Ticket Range: $99.50-$31.50; Promoter: In-house; Dates: March 14-19; No. of Shows: 8

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


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Convention centers design for a sense of place
Posted: 4 Apr 2017, 8:00 pm

Many convention centers are striving to reflect and showcase their locations.


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Garth to Bookend 2018 Houston Rodeo
Posted: 4 Apr 2017, 7:20 pm

Discovery and agriculture are key to even the mammoth Houston Rodeo & Livestock Show.

This year’s Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo saw record attendance, with 2.611-million visitors, an increase of six percent from 2016 and bypassing 2013’s all-time record of 2.506 attendees. The event kicked off with a three-day barbecue on March 2 and the 20 show days ran till March 26.

“We had a fantastic year, shattering our 2013 show, which not only had an extra day, but included a George Strait concert,” said Joel Cowley, the show’s president and CEO.

Next year’s show dates are Feb. 27-March 18, with Garth Brooks performing at the opening and closing of the event, big news that was announced during the 2017 event by the number one fair in North America.

“One big change [in 2018] will be the stadium’s new performance stage, which will be larger and situated closer to the audience,” said Cowley.

Rodeo ticket sales in 2017, which totaled 1.370 million, also were up 1.8 percent over 2016’s 1.345 million, falling just shy of the 2015 record, which was 1.377 million.

chainsmokers300.jpgThe Chainsmokers turned NRG Stadium into the 'world's largest nightclub.'

There were a total of 20 concerts associated with each rodeo performance. The top seller for 2017, with attendance at 75,557, was Go Tejano Day, which featured Mexico’s Grupo Siggno and Banda El Recodo. Luke Bryan ranked 17th  in terms of record attendance, with a crowd of 75,033. Also, Willie Nelson’s performance was a sellout.

“This year’s concert lineup was our most diverse ever, with 13 nights of country that included Alan Jackson, Brad Paisley, Dierks Bentley and Florida Georgia Line, to performers like Blink 182, Alicia Keys, ZZ Top and Demi Lovato,” said Cowley. “The Chainsmokers turned the place into the world’s largest nightclub. We weren’t sure if EDM would work, but they got the crowd up and dancing.”

On-site ticket sales from the carnival, Ray Cammack Shows, which included the three days of the barbecue and 20 show days, were up 9.3 percent. Cowley attributes this to the weather.

The show’s contract food vendors reported sales growth of 6.5 percent compared with 2016, proportionate to the attendance increase.

“Not only did we put on the best product ever, but we had one of the best weather years we’ve had in a while,” he said. “There were only three days where weather was a factor at all, and that shows in the carnival sales.”

Laveen, Ariz.-based Ray Cammack Shows’ vendors reported a 2.4-percent sales increase. Its newest attraction was the La Grande XL Ferris wheel, which was unveiled for the first time at the show and includes 500,000 LED lights.

RCSwheel300.jpgLa Grande XL Ferris Wheel on Ray Cammack Shows debuted in Houston.

“This year’s carnival had a whole different look, with new game concepts, LED lights and a custom-made canvas,” said Charlene Leavitt, COO of Ray Cammack Shows. “In addition to the new XL Ferris Wheel, we had two other new rides—the Endeavor and Puppy Roll. We rode the most people at one event than ever before, with 2.5 million on the midway, and broke records with food, games and rides.” A total of 86 semis full of toys were won at this year’s show.

The most popular food items were turkey legs and anything fried. A new offering was Nitro Popcorn, which causes vapor to come out of the nose.

Another new addition was the mare and foal presentation during the rodeo performance, which highlighted animal athletes, including a 20-year-old mare, her daughter, granddaughter and great granddaughter foal that was born three days into the show.

“We had a social media contest to name the foal, which 2,365 people participated in,” said Cowley. “The winning name was Houston’s Honey.”

As in the past, the event also offered contests that didn’t involve animals, including a robotics competition that included Lego robots performing agricultural tasks; floriculture; wild life habitats; and food challenges.

In addition, Cowley said this year’s show benefited from extra capital investments that focused on improving the attendee experience, such as additional benches. Ray Cammack Shows provided additional picnic tables on the midway.

Portable restroom trailers replaced traditional portapotties beginning last year and returned for this year’s show.

“This is a $500,000 capital improvement we added last year, and it really makes a difference,” said Cowley. “These are air conditioned with running water and soap, and easier to keep clean and service, so we feel this investment has paid off.”

For the first time, Wi-Fi was utilized to allow rodeo attendees to send photos of themselves on the grounds that were displayed on dedicated filler screens in NRG Stadium’s overhead console.

Social media was tapped to engage rodeo fans in picking the People’s Choice Champion Steer from the 32,000 livestock entrees, which differed from the 2017 Grand Champion Steer chosen by judges.

“What sets us apart is our more than 33,000 volunteers and 107 committees that handle everything from ticket scanning to providing assistance to attendees and safety,” said Cowley. “These are normally jobs we’d pay people to do, but volunteers give freely of their time. You can pay people to do a job, but you can’t pay them to care.”

This year’s top show sponsors included NRG, Ford, Miller Lite, Coca-Cola and Mattress Firm. Baylor College of Medicine provided a chuckwagon which was new, and General Mills sponsored the petting zoo.

Admission to this year’s fair was $10 for ground access for adults and $5 for children 3-12. The show offered Value Wednesday, where children 12 and under and seniors had free admission and adults were $12. On Wednesdays, stadium upper level tickets were reduced from $18 to $10. Parking on the grounds, which is operated by the county, cost $20.

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Congratulations 2017 Excellence in Operations & Engineering Award recipients!
Posted: 3 Apr 2017, 6:30 pm

Congratulations to the 2017 Excellence in Operations & Engineering Award recipients!

Congratulations to these two professionals who have gone above and beyond in solving problems, creating solutions, instituting a new program, innovating with a new idea or leading in a highly creative way to benefit your venue in these areas.

The winners were selected by the VOS Board of Advisors, the Venue Solutions Group team and the Venues Today team. The winners, one operations and one engineering professional, will be highlighted in the April issue of Venues Today magazine.

The inaugural award winners will be honored at the Venue Operations Summit in Nashville, Tenn., April 30-May 2, 2017.  Learn more at

Matt Balk - VOS Excellence in Operations Award winner
Operations Manager
Tacoma Venues & Events at the City of Tacoma, WA

Matt joined Tacoma Venues & Events (formerly Public Assembly Facilities) just over 3 years ago. He arrived to an operations team decimated by recent layoffs, a city budget $60m in the red, and a clear mandate for change. Matt did not shy away from the challenge.

Matt worked creatively with the local utility and leveraged very limited funds to complete several key capital projects, including the installation of energy and cost-saving LED lighting in the Convention Center Exhibition Hall, wireless lighting controls and improvements in sound and rigging. He has nurtured a 33-year-old stadium and successfully secured funding for over $21 million in key improvements for the Tacoma Dome. In spite of its age and considerable deferred maintenance issues at the Dome, through the diligence of Matt and his operations team, customer and client satisfaction remains high. Simple, cost-effective aesthetic changes (all completed with in-house labor) allowed Matt and team to transform the back of house entrance and hallway area and ensure a more positive experience for production staff, artists, coaches and athletes. Matt facilitated the installation of a massive DAS/WIFI infrastructure upgrade in both the Dome and the Convention Center and coordinated the selection, installation, and operations of walk-through metal detectors at all Dome entrances. At the 13-year-old Convention Center, clients constantly marvel at the pristine condition of the venue and the exceptional service provided by maintenance workers and custodians.

If the definition of a true leader is someone who offers hope and vision, Matt fits the bill. His consistent approach, passion for fairness and excellence and zero tolerance for complacency has created nothing short of a 180-degree shift in the operations department. In his first year, the number of grievances filed plummeted by 95%, and since then he has been able to deliver terms favorable to both the labor unit and the city in several rounds of contract negotiations. Matt revitalized the safety committee and directed resources to address safety issues in a timely fashion. Matt infused new energy into his workforce. He patiently and thoughtfully placed staff in areas where they could be most successful. Through clear communication and respect for his experienced team, now joined by carefully selected new team members, Matt initiated an obvious positive culture shift in a relatively short period of time. Everyone is happier to come to work and contribute to the ongoing improvements and review of existing processes.

Jan Szabat - VOS Excellence in Engineering Award winner
Director of Engineering Services
Shaw Conference Centre (Edmonton, Alberta Canada)

For the past 30 years, Jan Szabat has played an instrumental role in overseeing the maintenance of one of Edmonton’s most iconic assets. Leading the engineering operations for a 33-year-old facility is not easy, but through Jan’s leadership the Shaw Conference Centre has maintained its position as a premier meetings and events destination in Canada.

Throughout the last year, Jan has overseen numerous major projects in the facility. These include flood mitigation and major bathroom renovations to the $12.5-million replacement and modernization of six escalators. Moreover, he has overseen the development of sustainable permaculture on the grounds, including the creation of an Indigenous Medicine Wheel Garden on the rooftop of our Riverview Room.

And that’s not all. With the entire atrium roof of the 150,000-square-foot facility covered in glass, Jan has also developed plans to phase in the replacement of the glass next year, a multi-million-dollar project that could have a major impact on operations. He also has had his plans approved to replace all the carpet on our stairs, and will oversee the modernization of the large canopy outside the main entrance to our facility.  This is all in addition to his day-to-day responsibilities of making sure the building is running efficiently so we can best serve our guests.

Jan’s commitment to sustainability has played a major role in allowing the Shaw Conference Centre to receive BOMA Best certification, and be the first conference venue in Canada to receive Green Key Level 5 certification. He has also helped lead efforts for the facility to become APEX/ASTM certified, which we are currently being evaluated for.

The above is only a small snapshot of what Jan has done over the past year. His dedication and leadership over the past 30 years at Edmonton’s convention centre is unapparelled within our industry. I strongly believe he deserves this industry recognition.


Contact an account executive to reserve a congratulatory ad!

Rich DiGiacomo, Northeast, Western U.S., & International

Jim McNeil, Texas, Southeastern & Midwest U.S.

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Posted: 1 Apr 2017, 6:30 pm

Madonna, Iron Maiden, Billy Joel and Coldplay didn’t plan on routing to BOK Center, Tulsa, Okla. In fact, they all said ‘no thanks’ to repeated requests to play at the venue.
But Jeff Nickler, arena GM for SMG, refused to take ‘no’ for an answer. “Our 2016 season was made up of a lot of acts that never played the building or even the  market,” said Nickler. “We worked really aggressively behind the scenes to get some of the shows to come here.”
“We’re in the kind of market where we just can’t sit around waiting for the phone to ring,” he said. “The artists aren’t banging down the doors to come to Tulsa to perform. We think long term. We lay the groundwork years in advance for many of the shows we book.”
Nickler vigorously chased Iron Maiden for years. “We were one of only nine U.S. cities on the Book of Souls tour,” said Nickler proudly. “We’re a strong rock market and it took a lot of convincing them to come here so we could prove it.”
Ditto for Coldplay and Piano Man Billy Joel, but Madonna took the longest, over five years of enticements. “We cultivated the relationship with Gerry Barad (COO, Live Nation Global Touring) for five years-plus and finally got Madonna to make her first-ever visit to the state of Oklahoma. It took time and effort, but it was worth everything we went through to land her.”
The key ingredients to success are time and a big travel budget. “This industry is based on relationships,” he said. “The amount of annual travel and budget we allocate to developing relationships is huge, in the six figures, and we’ve seen it really pay off.” Nickler said that it takes “dozens of trips to manage and cultivate these relationships.” — Brad Weissberg

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Posted: 1 Apr 2017, 6:00 pm

REPORTING FROM COLUMBIA, S.C. — Motivations behind National Basketball Association (NBA) owners’ investment in esports range from seeing future crossover potential in the fanbase to increasing value for existing team sponsors to attracting the best of the next generation of front office employees. It’s not as much about how it will be directly monetized as it is about how many ways it can be monetized.
Bill Sutton, Bill Sutton Associates and a founding director at University of South Florida, Tampa, cited Philadelphia 76ers CEO Scott O’Neil, one of the first to invest in an eSports team, as one who is “creating this entire portfolio approach….Other teams I’ve worked with are throwing money at it. Now they’re putting analytics teams on it and growing numbers. I don’t see the cash flow slowing down anytime soon – this is the soup du jour, where everyone wants to be right now.”
Sutton was participating in a panel on the explosion of eSports during the 20th annual Sport, Entertainment and Venues Tomorrow conference (SEVT) here March 22-24. SEVT is produced by the University of South Carolina and Venues Today.
Steve “Ryu” Rattacasa, owner/manager, Selfless Gaming, advised there is a huge future in eSports management, just as data analytics were touted in another session as a career opportunity.
But eSports is an immersive career, Sutton warned. His son left Google to work for Riot Games, which publishes League of Legends, and the interview process was eight months. He had to become proficient in the game to join the company because the game is the company culture, Sutton said.
Rattacasa started his career as a gamer. Now he represents players and teams. He finds the influx of external money from traditional sports organizations a challenge, but he’s fine with being Triple A. “We’re the small guy now. Our teams are very good but we don’t have millions of dollars. So what we’ve done is taken the strength of being knowledgeable of games, players and the environment and built players up with traditional marketing, developed their personal brand and then flipped them to traditional sports owners like Shaquille O’Neal.”
It’s the Wild West and ripe with opportunity for sports entrepreneurs, said Kenny Sugishita, ELEAGUE coordinator for WME/IMG. “We focus on treating the players as well as possible so they want to come back. We’re the first tournament host to always put some portion of our season on TV.” The challenge is that it’s extremely difficult to organize tournaments because the players are always traveling, the fans are spread out and sponsors have different needs, he said.
As a venue manager, Michael Enoch, Sandy Springs (Ga.) Performing Arts Center, sees huge potential for building an eSports business in his theater, just as he did at Mercedes-Benz Arena, Shanghai, China, where he worked for AEG. In Shanghai, League of Legends tournaments drew 9,000-12,000 people, were priced $70-$150, and ran three days, starting with a concert on Friday and gaming Saturday and Sunday. The venue needs to have enough bandwidth, he said. And it’s a challenge to figure out how to monetize merchandise/software sales. “It’s hard to calculate what they’re selling,” Enoch said.
Michael Farris, Aspire Group, works  with collegiate-focused organizations like the Collegiate Starleague, where participants play for scholarships, and University League of Legends, a string of clubs on campuses. “College kids are interested in going to a live event and will pay $50-$70 to see eSports teams. They are not willing to travel; but they will go to something in their market,” Farris said
The Sixers are setting up eSports camps and clinics, all the things one would see in basketball, Sutton said. “The sky is the limit. This might be like Apple stock in 1980. People who are buying this have no idea what to do with it.” Riot’s League of Legends grosses $1.7 billion a year and it’s free to play and has no sponsorships right now, Sutton added.
The new generation of fans wants to experience, not just watch. Sutton sees the merger of eSports and Virtual Reality as the future.
The new generation of fans that reject Dish Network or Comcast, “we call them cord cutters,” are giving way to the “cord nevers,” Rattacasa said. The ‘cord nevers’ are never going to watch a basketball game. “They don’t have that interest.”

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Posted: 1 Apr 2017, 6:00 pm

Don’t think of the Midwest as flyover states; there’s serious money to be made between the coasts. Cumulatively, the venues on Venues Today’s 2016 Midwest Top Stops charts were up a solid seven percent over 2015, reporting concert and event grosses of $368 million, up from $321 million. In-demand acts, higher ticket prices, the improving economy and good fortune in routing account for the increase, according to the venue operators interviewed.
The $113-billion U.S. Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, opened in July 2016. Since then, it’s hosted 168 million guests. “It’s an amazing building and has performed extremely well,” said Patrick Talty, GM. “Building openings are tough, but we’ve done a great job of hitting the ground running and meeting high expectations. In fact, we’ve been more successful than we predicted.”
The first event was a sold-out Chelsea vs. AC Milan international soccer game. “We blew it out of the water,” said Talty. “This was quickly followed by back-to-back Luke Bryan and Metallica concerts.” Vikings football followed, then three Monster Truck shows, a Supercross — plus another 400 events.
Tickets ranged from $25-$200 and Talty said the venue easily met its $6.75 million net operating guarantee. Per caps were around $2 for college baseball and went as high as $29 for the bigger events.
Food and beverage (F&B) is provided by Aramark. “The catering operation is exceeding all expectations,” he said. “Minneapolis is a foodie scene, and Aramark did a great job of finding local flavors the people love. We have craft beers, celebrity chefs and Aramark went out their way to include minority suppliers such as T-Rex cookies and Lola’s Wings.”
Security is provided by Monterrey Security. “We have a strong integrated command center with a lot of technology in place,” he said. “We’re constantly looking at how to make a better fan experience and keep everyone as safe as we can.”
Talty’s prognosis for the rest of 2017 is equally sunny. “X-Games are coming this summer, Guns N’ Roses, Coldplay, and Justin Bieber are booked, and there’s a little thing called Super Bowl 52 headed to U.S. Bank Stadium in February 2018. The world will be watching,” said Talty.
Talty said he’s focused on fan engagement and that every venue in the world needs to be just as focused. “Without fans coming, we’d have an empty building,” he said.
  “We had a really good year,” said Jack Larson, Xcel Energy Center, St. Paul, Minn., VP and GM, who said the venue was up 10 percent in revenue in 2016. He attributes the bump to the success of the Minnesota Wild hockey team, the healthy number of concerts they put on and crowd-pleasing state tournaments.
  “We opened the Adele tour in July,” said Larson, “We also did the sell-out Prince tribute, Bruce Springsteen, Mumford and Sons, Def Leppard, and Blake Shelton. The Earth, Wind & Fire show was a big success.” Tickets ranged from $30-$250.
  Larson also praised the performance of his family shows, Disney On Ice and The World’s Toughest Rodeo.
Larson said that it was “a really good year” for F&B, which is provided by Levy Restaurants. “We changed a couple of clubs into all-inclusive areas that have been very well accepted,” he said. “We did chef-takeovers in our Jack Daniels Old No. 7 Club, and we were up around 10 percent in F&B as well last year.”
  Improvements included a new hospitality area/bar/restaurant called The Reserve on the suite level. “We do special promotions that bring people up there,” he said. Xcel Center is evaluating what they will remodel next. “We’re 16 years old and are looking at what we can do to enhance the fan experience.”
  BOK Center, Tulsa, Okla., was named ‘Arena Of The Year’ by the International Entertainment Buyers Association (IEBA) in 2016 and winning the award was the highlight of the year for GM Jeff Nickler. “We’ve been nominated every year since we opened in 2008, and to finally take the award home was a great acknowledgement of the 100-plus staff we have here who make the magic happen everyday.”
Tulsa has become a strong rock market, said Nickler. Big shows included Iron Maiden, Coldplay, Billy Joel, Justin Bieber, and Carrie Underwood. BOK Center was the highest-grossing date on the Pentatonix tour. “A lot of big shows across all genres of music really helped us in 2016.”
  Nickler said he saw higher ticket prices across the board in 2016. The ticket price range was $25 to $250. “The average ticket prices were well over $100, which is unusual for our market,” he said.
  A redesign to the concession stands in 2015 brought a whopping 75-percent-increase in F&B in 2016. BOK Center also spent $250,000 upgrading security with new magnetometers, adding additional security cameras and additional security protocols. “A lot of this wasn’t in place until this year,” he said. “The conversation really was security here this year and industry wide.”
  2017 is looking just as prosperous for BOK Center. “We’re already trending way ahead of 2016,” he said.
  “We celebrated our 20th Anniversary in 2016, and it was a big year,” said Richard MacKeigan, SMG regional GM and regional booking director, Van Andel Arena, DeVos Place and DeVos Performance Hall, Grand Rapids, Mich. “We hosted 31 concerts in 2016, the highest number of concerts in 18 years and a 30 percent increase over the average number of concerts the arena has hosted each year throughout its 20 years. The success of these bookings has allowed the SMG-managed venues in Grand Rapids to enjoy their best fiscal performance in history.”
  To commemorate their 20th Anniversary, they hosted the “I Love the 90s” tour. “We carried the 90s theme throughout the whole night, including 1990s concessions prices, which were very well received by our guests,” said MacKeigan.
  Hot shows were Garth Brooks, who set the venue record for most tickets sold for a single engagement with six shows over four days; Paul McCartney, who broke the venue record for highest grossing ticket sales for a single event and Kanye West, who brought in the heaviest production the venue has ever seen, weighing in at over 200,000 pounds.
  MacKeigan said the 2016 Grand Rapids market “has been responding very well the last 18 months or so. Shows that should do well are doing great and shows that are back annually or every other year are seeing double digit increases over their last play.” He sees more traction on larger acts that, at first look, may appear too large for his market but “are taking a chance and seeing success.”
  Ticket prices ranged from $12 for family shows up to $253 on the high end for concerts. Quite a few events also offered VIP packages. The complex’s 2016 budget was $11 million.
  The arena’s concessionaire, Savor…catering by SMG, enjoyed their best year in sales in 2016 due in part to the 20th anniversary and the ongoing success of the Grand Rapids Griffins hockey team.
  Some of the new items introduced to concessions were mac and cheese with toppings, a pizza sub and the Grub Tub, which is a cup with a bowl-like attachment that allows patrons to hold a meal and drink in the same hand. They also offered a cheeseburger or chicken tender Grub Tub with a soda of the guest’s choice.
  Their restaurant, The Intermission, introduced a Cuban sandwich; jalapeno bacon chicken poppers and chicken drummies. They also added new items in the suites: The Taste of India package with Alu Chole, garbanzo beans and tomato sauce with basmati rice, samosa and pakora with a dipping sauce and they introduced a gluten-free dessert, The Sweet Street Sampler.
  Improvements to the building included large-scale interior and exterior upgrades to LED lighting. Next year, they are “looking at continuing projects to keep the building and its systems modern and fresh, including exterior painting, HVAC upgrades, elevator upgrades and a few others,” MacKeigan said. “We have a  long-term capital plan, and we work closely with the Grand Rapids Griffins of the AHL, our primary tenant, our SMG corporate office and the Grand Rapids-Kent County Convention/Arena Authority, our owners, to assess opportunities that provide the best return.”
  Van Andel Arena bought several walk-through metal detectors in 2016 and notifies their patrons for each event through e-mail with security measures specific to the event they’re attending.
  MacKeigan’s outlook for 2017 is strong. “The Griffins continue to draw well and are playing well, and have clinched a spot in the playoffs,” he said. “Concert activity looks good with good shows on the books, including Chris Stapleton, Red Hot Chili Peppers and The Who.”
  “2016 was the best year we've had since we opened,” said Steve Miller, SMG GM, Huntington Center, Toledo, Ohio. “The stars aligned for us, no pun intended.” This followed Huntington Center’s worst year ever in 2015. “It’s a function of routing. The dates worked out for us this year.”
  Elton John, James Taylor, Luke Bryan, Def Leppard, Professional Bull Riders (PBR), Disney On Ice, Monster Jam and Harlem Globetrotters were highlights. “There are a lot of great shows out there, and it’s a matter of finding the right dates and the right deals,” he offered.
Tickets ranged from $10 to $140. Huntington Center netted $2.5 million in revenue and spent $2.4 million.
  F&B also had its best year ever, said Miller. “We were up 10-12 percent.” Per caps were $2.50-$4 for family shows, $8-8.50 for hockey and $10-$12 for concerts. The concessionaire is AVI Food Systems.
  Security has been “a topic of conversation” and “we’ve been vigilant about training,” he said. Huntington Center invested $30,000 to buy 14 magnetometers. “We’re doing it for all the concerts,” he said, “Live Nation is demanding it and so are the artists. We’re fine with it.”
  The rest 2017 is “looking great” and Miller wanted to be sure to mention that without the promoters and his partnerships with them, “we wouldn’t have success in Toledo.”
  “It’s been a terrific year,” said Joan Squires, president of Omaha Performing Arts, which runs the Holland Performing Arts Center and Orpheum Theater, Omaha, Neb. “We’ve had an uptick in attendance, prices are up, the economy is good and people are looking for things to do.”
  At the Holland Performing Arts Center the highest grossing acts were Yo Yo Ma, Garrison Keillor, Jethro Tull and Joe Bonamassa. At the Orpheum, hot shows were
“The Book Of Mormon,” “Phantom of The Opera,” “Cinderella,” “Newsies” and “White Christmas.”
  Tickets ranged from $20-$140 at both venues. The operating budget for both venues was $18-$20 million.
  F&B is doing well and allowing guests to bring beverages into the theatres “really gave us a boost,” said Squires. They expanded event catering and weddings and added a bar and restaurant at Holland Center called Zinc that is doing “really well.”
  Holland Center is 11 years old. The Orpheum is 90 years old. “We continue to invest in both properties,” said Squires. Improvements to Holland Center include a new sound system, new lighting, new carpet, adding an education center and new sidewalks.
At the Orpheum, they’ve installed a new rigging system, a new sound system, an electronic marquee, a patron lounge and a sky bridge to the parking structure. Together, the capital improvements budget was $2.5 million.
  Squires said that the venues add $40 million in economic impact to the region.
  “People come to Omaha and see our venues and are surprised at the quality of the venues,” she added. Twenty-five percent of the revenue is contributed. “We want to thank the community, especially the generous philanthropic community, for all their support, which makes it all possible.”
  2017 is looking even better. “We’re already having one of our best years, and I’m really positive on the rest of the year,” she said.
  Lisa Krohn, director of theater programs, Hennepin Theatre Trust, Minneapolis, which runs the Orpheum Theatre, State Theatre and Pantages Theatre, said
the venues were up five percent this year and that “all three venues are doing very well and inching up in revenue.”
Krohn cited “Newsies,” “The Book Of Mormon” and “The Lion King” as their top shows in 2016. Tickets ranged from $50-$200 with VIP packages that include the best seats in the house, merchandise and a meet and greet going for as high as $350.
She said F&B was equally up around five percent, and she attributes that bump to the theater bringing in “more theater food.” At the Orpheum, they replaced all the seats.
New security measures, including wanding and bag and coat checks, were causing delays, so all the theaters have been advising patrons to arrive early to get through the screening process, she added.

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Posted: 1 Apr 2017, 6:00 pm

On April 14, Bon Jovi will wrap the 30-date first leg of the band’s This House is Not For Sale tour at Denver’s Pepsi Center, in many ways a tour of “firsts” for the venerable Jersey band.
This was Bon Jovi’s first tour launched without founding guitarist Richie Sambora, who left the band early in the 2013 Because We Can trek (Phil X and producer John Shanks take on axe duties this time out). It is the first tour with legendary manager Irving Azoff overseeing management duties (the band had been managed in-house through Bon Jovi Management). This is the first tour under a newly-restructured label deal for Bon Jovi, continuing a 34-year relationship with Universal Music Group (the band’s 13th album “This House Is Not For Sale” is on the Island imprint). Tour manager Thomas McAndrews is on his first tour with the band (former TM Scott Casey is now with U2). And, finally, the 2017 run is Bon Jovi’s first tour with Live Nation as the global promoter (each of the four preceding tours were promoted globally by AEG Live).
Of course, many aspects of Bon Jovi remain consistent, first and foremost continuing to blow out arenas, grossing $51,738,625 from 479,572 tickets sold on the first leg, according to the tour. Live Nation’s Ryan McElrath, senior VP of domestic touring, running point on the Bon Jovi tour, said the band has “never been stronger in the marketplace,” citing “incredible sellout business in markets like San Diego and Sacramento, where Bon Jovi hasn’t been in years. The major markets are smashes, as they have always been for Bon Jovi.”
Bon Jovi is still represented by Rob Light, managing partner at Creative Artists Agency, and tour director Paul Korzilius, who started with Bon Jovi on Feb. 1, 1987, still oversees touring. Most importantly, Bon Jovi is still led by front man Jon Bon Jovi, the driving force of the band both creatively and on the business front.
Ultimately, it is Bon Jovi the bandleader who signs off on most all of the critical decisions that led to this tour of “firsts.” That includes playing markets they’ve not played in years, like Legacy Arena at BJCC in Birmingham, Ala. Bon Jovi told Venues Today that going into some of these markets was his idea, including Birmingham, where the band hadn’t played since 1989.  “I know there are people down there, I know the country guys are going down there,” he recalled telling Korzilius, whom Bon Jovi credits with the decision to launch the tour in Greenville, S.C., at the Bon Secours Wellness Arena on Feb. 8. “The last tour started in a blizzard in Connecticut, so we said, ‘not this time, let’s stay South.’”
Korzilius agreed that sometimes markets like Birmingham can get “looked over” on major tours, and that city fit well in the routing scheme this year. “We had a show in Tampa (Amalie Arena, Feb. 14), and our next show was in Nashville (Feb. 18). Birmingham was right along the way, so no reason not to go back, and we had great results there,” he said. “The great thing was, the fans were always there. You just have to get to them.”
They got to them in Birmingham — 14,130 of them, to be exact, a sellout. “The crowd embraced Bon Jovi when returning to Birmingham after 28 years,” said an enthusiastic Susette Hunter, director of sales at the arena, who added that Bon Jovi “set fire to the stage in a ‘Blaze of Glory’ as the crowd danced and sang along.”
Playing these “places we hadn’t been to in quite a while” proved two points, Bon Jovi said: “How deep the roots of the band are, nationwide or worldwide; and also that people will come out to see live music if it’s presented in a venue that’s close enough that it makes sense for them. For a big band saying ‘I’m not going to Alabama,’ there are enough folks in Alabama that would want to see a U2 show.”
Live Nation’s McElrath points to Bon Jovi’s “multi-generational” fan base, which allows the promoter to make use of a wide array of promotional tactics. “From a marketing standpoint, we use all of our tools, from traditional radio to digital media,” McElrath said. “Bon Jovi fans are incredibly passionate, engaged and on their feet for every song.”

Several new arenas have opened in North America since the band last toured, so buildings like T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas (Feb. 25) and Golden 1 Center in Sacramento (Feb. 28) hosted the band for the first time. Of course, many arenas on the route have been rocked many times by Bon Jovi. “Some of the old buildings are like old friends, but they get new shoes,” Bon Jovi said. “Like Dallas.  American Airlines Center is different backstage, but it’s just a great building, with a lot of [development] around it now. Things like that are very different but, generally speaking, the buildings have been great.”
Bon Jovi set a concert attendance record at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville with 18,514 in the house. That topped the previous record set two years ago by Eric Church, who packed in 18,411 to his Outsiders tour date on Jan. 10, 2015. “To be able to still set attendance records like in Nashville, where everyone and their mother always plays, is reassuring,” Bon Jovi admitted, noting that there was plenty of meat left on the bone in several markets. “To know we could have done four or five, six Gardens, four nights in Toronto, easily, and multiples in Philly, and didn’t even put the Bostons and Washingtons on the schedule yet, is very, very nice.”
A sold out crowd of 18,500 turned out for the band’s March 31 appearance at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, which Comcast Spectator President John Page called a “second home” for the band. “We continue to do great business here at Wells Fargo Center every time the band comes through,” Page said. “We’re grateful to Jon and the band, as well as Paul Korzilius and his team, for another sell out. We hope to get them back again soon.”
Playing the Forum on March 8 was another special gig on this tour for Bon Jovi. “My memories of the Forum are so deep that when we played there back in the ‘80s on the New Jersey record, we had the No. 1 album, the No. 1 single, [and] I went back to the St. James Club—which it was called at the time (now the Sunset Tower Hotel)—on the Sunset Strip, and looked out my window at a huge billboard of the five of us,” he recalled. “I said to my girlfriend next to me in the bed, ‘let’s get married, now.’ She said, ‘what are you, nuts?’ Twenty-eight years later, she’s still my wife. That’s the Forum I remember. So to go back there now, after all these years, was a treat, to see what they did to that old building and that landmark, turning it into an incredible-sounding experience. I hope to go back sometime and see the rest of it.”
Armed with the renewed vigor that comes with a well-received new record (“This House Is Not for Sale” debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard album chart, the band’s fourth consecutive to top the chart), Bon Jovi debuted the songs with a series of small venue live “listening parties” last fall. As McElrath pointed out, “a No. 1 record is great way to kick off a touring cycle.”
A whopping six songs from the new album appear in the 2017 tour set list, as Bon Jovi refuses to become simply a nostalgia act. One would be hard-pressed to find another 30-year touring band playing 25 percent newly-released material, at least, “not my peer group,” Bon Jovi said, adding that many of the bands that broke alongside Bon Jovi in the mid-‘80s are out in classic rock packages, playing strictly their hits from the era. “I’ll walk away before that day comes. I said it when I was 25, I’ll say it again now: I ain’t doing it.”

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Posted: 1 Apr 2017, 5:30 pm

Chef Ron Abell ventures outside to meander through kale, sweet peppers and parsley, always on the hunt for a new seasonal dish. Immersed in a garden that produces around 6,000 pounds of produce and herbs annually, Abell juggles the freshness of his choices with an ever-changing menu inside his dining experience. But this garden isn’t only for fine-dining, instead giving the Aramark senior executive chef at Fenway Park in Boston options for concessions and premium spaces just 200 feet from his kitchen in a rooftop garden behind the Gate A Fenway Park façade.
From Fenway Farms, born in 2015, to rooftop gardens for both Levi’s Field in Santa Clara, Calif.,  and AT&T Park in San Francisco and from Denver’s Coors Field to a new garden expected in Atlanta at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, the growth of on-site gardens at stadiums continues to freshen concessions while connecting to the fan experience.
The Boston Red Sox created Fenway Farms, run by two local companies, as part of the club’s sustainability mission. With a seasonally changing array of foods, Abell’s team can use everything from arugula to broccoli or cilantro to thyme, with an ever-changing variety of vegetables and herbs.
Whether pickling, stewing or making jams of produce that ripens when the team vacates the park for a road swing, Abell tries to limit food waste—which does get composted when it happens—and get product onto the plates of ballpark visitors.
Abell said they create dishes with the Fenway Farms bounty in mind and then use signage to help let fans know that ingredients came from the garden viewable by fans. “Maybe you aren’t a big kale fan and don’t want to eat raw kale—and I don’t blame you—but when handled properly and being organically grown and picked at the right time, you may see a Fenway Farms kale salad on the menu and decide to try that,” he said. “That is a dish we have all over the ballpark.”
In Major League Baseball, stadium gardens flourish at Coors Field in Denver, Nationals Park in Washington, D.C., Petco Park in San Diego and AT&T Park in San Francisco.
Luke Yoder started a small garden near the bullpen at Petco Park in 2011 that continued to grow. Peppers, his specialty, have made their way into salsas and sauces for premium stadium dining. Colorado State University, Fort Collins, partners with the Rockies for a 600-square-foot garden that opened shortly after San Diego upped its effort and the Nationals have a small rooftop garden overlooking the left field concourse.
But by far the two largest gardens in MLB come from the 5,000-square-foot Fenway Farms and 4,320-square-foot garden at AT&T Park. Maintained by Bon Appetit Management Company, Centerplate uses the produce in San Francisco for a mix of menu items in various locations around the venue, said Bill Greathouse, Centerplate senior vice president and the man who oversees the program at AT&T Park.
“We like to think that this edible garden really brings the dining experience to another level for our guests,” he said.
Tucked under the scoreboard behind the centerfield wall—and protected from home run balls by mesh—the garden yields such California specialties as avocados, lemons and tomatoes to go with sunflowers, berries, kale and more. 
While baseball stadiums give summer-time opportunities for growing produce and using it on a near daily basis, a pair of football stadiums have entered the fray, able to up the ante on size. The San Francisco 49ers installed a rooftop garden amidst the 27,000-square-foot green roof of Levi’s Field, but it didn’t happen right away.
Lara Harmanson of Farmscape Gardens, the group behind operating the installation, said the space started as a native plant garden with no food crops when it opened in 2014. “The team owners, Jed and Danielle York, thought growing food would be a better use of the space,” she said.
The winter months include mostly leafy greens such as kale, chard, spinach, lettuce and arugula. But herbs do well in the winter too. The summer allows for tomatoes, eggplant, summer squash, peppers and herbs. In all, Harmanson expects to yield about 10,000 pounds of food from the rooftop garden in 2017, having already sent 2,000 pounds to the kitchen since inception.
Chefs use the produce as much as possible, most commonly in club spaces and for private events. Even the edible flowers grown on the rooftop get used as garnish.
The Falcons plan to use the on-site food in some capacity inside the stadium in farm-to-table organic selections, but also hope to incorporate the garden into an educational program for kids about healthier food.
“There is something about being a chef and walking through your produce,” Abell says. “You can get creative right there and your imagination can go from right there. It is a lot different from placing an order on the phone. You can walk 200 feet to your kitchen.”

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Posted: 1 Apr 2017, 5:00 pm

Optimization is prevalent in the industry today and the venues Down Under are no exception.
Australia’s Top Stops are leveraging purchasing power, customer service and labor to stay competitive in what can be a challenging marketplace.
One example is Qudos Bank Arena, located in Sydney Olympic Park, which has reviewed supplier and service provider agreements throughout the year, concentrating on contract rates and service standards.
“This has resulted in improved methodologies and for more [competitive] rates to be negotiated,” said Steve Hevern, the arena’s general manager. “Leveraging the purchasing power of the group will be looked at in 2017, in a bid to attain optimal rates and enhanced sponsorship opportunities at the arena via such partnerships.”
The review comes on the heels of Qudos Bank being launched as the arena’s naming rights sponsor in April 2016 and a subsequent rebrand that was rolled out for the remainder of last year. In addition, a new website is planned for 2017.
“This includes new interactive functionality, an improved layout and a user friendly design that is fully optimized for mobile phones and tablets to ensure that the user experience will be substantially improved,” said Hevern.

Australia’s industry climate was not optimal in 2016, with Qudos Bank Arena’s highest grossing event for the fiscal year 2016 being the 2015 Netball World Cup, which grossed $2,311,610.
“Revenues were down in 2016 due to a lack of major touring content and subsequent low ticket sales,” said Hevern.
Brisbane Entertainment Centre’s (BEC) highest grossing event in 2016 was a March Madonna performance, which grossed $1,671,026.
According to Tim Worton, who oversees the Qudos Bank Arena, BEC, Perth Arena and Newcastle Entertainment Centre as group director of arenas, AEG Ogden, 2015 and 2016 were two of the flattest years recently for concert and live entertainment content in arenas.
“Consequently, revenue levels were down on what had been strong averages for the years leading up to those two years,” he said. Worton also works closely with the live entertainment division of the International Convention Centre (ICC) Sydney, overseeing its new 9,000-capacity ICC Theatre and 2,500-capacity Darling Harbour Theatre.
Worton said the reason for the decline is threefold.
“First, we had seen so many artists tour in the years up to 2014 that 2015 and 2016 were simply out of cycle for a lot of acts,” he said. “Also, the Australian dollar had been at parity or stronger than the U.S. dollar up until 2014, and the weakening to around 75 U.S. cents has made it more financially challenging to bring some tours to our market.”
In addition, a high incidence of stadium tours has negatively impacted Australian arenas. 
“In the past few months alone, we’ve seen Coldplay, Guns ‘N Roses, Adele and Justin Bieber play outdoors,” said Worton.
Prince’s Piano & Microphone tour was Perth Arena’s highest grossing performance for 2016, and turned out to be one of the legend’s final few live appearances.
“This past January, the sensational Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band returned for three sold-out performances to 42,000 fans,” said Michael Scott, the arena’s general manager. “It will be difficult to top.”

Changes in the Australian marketplace have resulted in the need for adjustments.
For example, Qudos Bank Arena is requiring additional bump-in and/or bump-out days to facilitate large-scale productions, as an increasing number of promoters and artists are requesting three to five or more days to set-up events, often for a single show.
“While we will always look to accommodate this where we can, it does come at a cost and can become quite problematic to schedule during peak concert touring periods,” said Hevern. 
In 2016, to reduce casual labor hours, BEC used permanent salaried staff wherever possible to assist with set ups and post-event pull downs.
“When events were hosted, casual catering staff had been cross trained, so we were able to have a strong focus on redeployments of casual staff for peak periods,” said Trish McNamara, the Centre’s general manager. “Where possible, all staff was required to take annual leave to reduce this overhead.”
In an effort to further strengthen its customer service, the BEC began focusing on reducing lost property and reconnecting patrons with their goods starting late last year and will continue in 2017.
Social media has had a major impact on its success rate, as have proactive steps taken at the event with live announcements/checking of the patrons’ details through the ticketing system, etc. 
“To date, we have returned approximately 90 percent of lost and found items since the customer service initiative commenced, and this has included wallets loaded with cash and cards, mobile phones, lost merchandise, etc.,” said McNamara. “The 10 percent not returned are items with no form of identification, such as shoes, clothing and drink bottles. While this may seem like just a small element of our operation, it has had a profound impact on the people who have been reunited with their personal items, and it has restored a good will feeling among our team.”
Environmentally-focused improvements also were an emphasis for some facilities. For example, the Perth Arena successfully added an organic recycling program to its already effective waste management scheme.
“The result is 86 percent of waste is now diverted from landfills, which drives business value through sustainability,” said Scott.
Also in 2016, Perth Arena’s Golden Ticket campaign was launched in support of Breast Cancer Care for the first time. It raised $71,710, with all proceeds to positively impact the lives of those in the community affected by breast cancer. The money paid household utility bills, provided home cleaning services, groceries, clothes or Counseling to 564 families.
“This year, we plan to partner with the public and private sector to expand the venue’s audience into Southeast Asia to be a positive contributor to tourism for Western Australia,” said Scott.

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Posted: 1 Apr 2017, 5:00 pm

With a Bruce Springsteen concert that grossed $1,396,956, Qudos Bank Arena, located in Sydney Olympic Park, 2017 is off to a better start than the previous year.
“The bookings for 2017 show a marked improvement in regards to content that is already looking better than the previous two years,” said Steve Hevern, the arena’s general manager.
Bruce Springsteen was also a juggernaut for Brisbane Entertainment Centre (BEC), taking in $5,225,508 for two shows, the highest for the venue so far this year.
“The cycle seems to have turned for the better for 2017, with a very healthy level of bookings, particularly in the second half of 2017 and in the first four months of 2018,” said Tim Worton, who oversees Qudos Bank Arena, BEC, Perth Arena and Newcastle Entertainment Centre for AEG Ogden. “Accordingly, we are projecting strong revenue growth in the 2017/18 financial year over the past couple of years, and that seems set to be repeated in 2018/19. So the outlook is very positive, and we’re excited about the content that we expect to host over the next 18 to 24 months.”
Upgrades also are underway in Australia’s major facilities this year.
In 2017, the BEC’s outdoor Courtyard Catering operation will undergo a major refurbishment with new permanent outlets to replace the current temporary structures. These four permanent outlets will be multipurpose and can operate simultaneously or as standalone units. 
“The new outlets will provide patrons with better facilities and a greater catering offering,” said Worton. “These also will feature new permanent seating areas, which will assist in labor set-up costs.”
  Also this year, Perth Arena plans to commission the final two of four gantry winches in the main rigging zone.
“This greatly improves the speed, efficiency and safety of hauling motor chains to the roof,” said Michael Scott, general manager. “In addition, it will reduce the number of riggers required and overall costs to the production team.”

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Posted: 1 Apr 2017, 5:00 pm

Curtis_Cheng_Headshot.jpgCurtis Cheng, the founder and CEO of DTI Management, based in Virginia, dropped out of college to get into the ticketing business. He started as a traditional ticket broker, sold that company in 2006, and then got into beverage distribution. That’s where he learned everything about dissemination of products and how difficult logistics can be. With this knowledge under his belt he returned to tackle the ticketing world in 2012.

What do you see as DTI’s role in the future of the ticketing industry?
We want to change the culture of how a customer buys a ticket. Right now, you can’t buy a parking pass, you can’t buy merchandise and you can’t order food and beverage ahead of time. These are all actions that can be handled on ecommerce.
We’re trying to create shopping carts that allow consumers to purchase all the products they want in one place. It happened really quickly for the travel companies like Expedia and Sabre who are selling hotel rooms, rental cars, cruises and, now, experiences. We’re trying to push on all angles, and I think in three to five years, we’ll see a drastic change.

Have you had any issues getting the rightsholders on board?
The content holders control the destiny of our industry. The owners need to get comfortable with the idea that their fans want to buy tickets where they want to buy them. Mini-plans and season ticket packages should be distributed by the team, but I see all single game tickets being sold on ecommerce very soon. How much would Coca-Cola sell if they only sold it in Walmart? The key for any product is to reach as many consumers and get on as many shelves as possible.

What exactly does DTI Management do?
DTI Management is a platform for the ticket distribution of sports and live entertainment content. Our goal is to be the central part of distribution for the content holders to reach the retail outlets. There are hundreds of thousands of outlets that sell tickets and it’s quite difficult to reach all of them in an efficient manner; it’s even more difficult to fulfill all those orders and manage those relationships. We’ve recently moved into the content space, where our goal is to provide a controlled environment to distribute inventory. We have data-sharing plans directly with teams and tools that allow them to reach the outlets in an efficient way.

Did you model this on other industries?
Yes, we modeled this on the travel industry. Sabre is a middleman that sits between the customer and the airlines. We want to be the central point between the fan and the rights-holder, and we believe the end consumer will pay less for a ticket and the rightsholders will make more money.

How has growth been?
Our first year, in 2013, we did a little under $100 million in gross ticket sales. We’ve grown 70 to 80 percent every year since.

How is the ticketing industry changing?
It’s going through a complete evolution. It changes every six months and, with Amazon coming in, we expect it to change again. We haven’t defined yet how the industry will look in the future. There are a lot of companies that want to keep the status quo and other companies that are innovating and moving the industry forward. We like to consider DTI an innovative company.

What made you get back into ticketing after being a beverage distributor?
To apply what I had learned. In 2012, we formed DTI Management. We gave a version of the platform to all the brokers in our space, which allowed them to manage their inventory through our platform. This allows brokers to focus on what they are best at — buying a ticket and selling a ticket.

Do you have investment capital? 
In August 2016, we raised $75 million from CVC Capital Partners to improve our tech platform and create a liquidity event for some of our stockholders. New Amsterdam Capital is another investor.

What do you love about being in this business?
We’re in a very dynamic space that’s moving very quickly. That’s what makes it exciting. It’s refreshing to see people trying to do it a different way. We want to bring the best minds in ticketing and match them up with the best minds in technology to create the ultimate ticket distribution system.

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Posted: 1 Apr 2017, 5:00 pm

Arnold_Preciado.jpgA little more than 10 miles from downtown Los Angeles, the Pasadena Convention Center plays host to some of the area’s most prestigious events. As a boutique convention center, however, the culinary team is able to churn out restaurant quality plates under the direction of Centerplate Executive Chef Arnold Preciado.
“When guests come here for the first time, they might have a perception of convention center food,” Preciado said. “That might mean a hockey puck steak and dry chicken. Once they taste our chicken and our steak, however, they see things differently. It’s not traditional convention food; it’s more like a restaurant.
Case in point: Preciado’s beef short rib, a generous portion of beef that’s beautifully plated with fresh, locally sourced produce.
The chef uses Lone Pine Ranch beef (from Mendocino County, Calif.), which is braised for six hours in Dark Horse cabernet. The braising liquid is saved for a red wine reduction to be poured over the final product. For the accoutrements, Preciado makes a puree from celery root and potatoes, adding a trio of rainbow carrots, a roasted herb tomato and caramelized cipollini onion as edible garnish.
The entree is a venue favorite that groups will order repeatedly, Preciado said. Fortunately, he doesn’t have to change the dish with the seasons since the center receives fresh produce year-round. “I don’t like to say we’re spoiled, but we are,” he said with a laugh. “We’re lucky. We’re in California so we get tricolored carrots all year. We work closely with Fresh Point, which provides us with quality fruits and vegetables, anything we want.”

Centerplate Executive Chef Arnold Preciado
Pasadena (Calif.) Convention Center
Arnold Preciado was hired at the Pasadena Convention Center in 2005 as a line cook, a year before graduating from Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts, Pasadena.
Today, he calls the shots in the same kitchen as executive chef for Centerplate. Preciado develops new dishes and menus, overseeing food service for such prestigious events as the NAACP Image Awards, the Daytime Emmy Awards and the wrap party for the Disney film, “Moana.”
“I have creative control here, and I have a great boss,” he said. “Our client [the convention center] has seen my work and my growth, and they support what I want to do.”
During his career, he spent some time at other establishments, working for Woflgang Puck and helping to open up L.A.’s Hotel Angelino, but the convention center continued to call him back. “It’s my staff,” he added, explaining that the center has just 25 culinary personnel, including dishwashers, cooks and preps. “My staff is what pushes me and motivates me to be more. And I push them as well.”

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Posted: 1 Apr 2017, 5:00 pm

Michael Burgoyne is a new partner at Schuler Shook. Burgoyne joined the company in 2000 as a theater planner and he became a principal in 2011. He is a graduate of North Carolina School of the Arts, Winston-Salem.

United Talent Agency (UTA) has promoted nine agents to partner status. Sarah Clossey, Steve Cohen, Gueran Ducoty, Joe Eshenbaugh, Charles Ferraro, Pete Franciosa, Allan Haldeman, Keya Khayatian, Tim Phillips and Jo Yao all join UTA’s 44 partners—representing a 20 percent expansion of the agency’s top ranks. Clossey, Cohen and Yao are agents in UTA’s motion picture talent department. Ducoty heads UTA’s licensing & endorsements department. Eshenbaugh is an agent in its comedy touring department. He will be based in Los Angeles. Ferraro and Khayatian are agents in UTA’s motion picture literary department. Franciosa heads UTA’s production department. Haldeman is an agent in UTA’s television department and Phillips is an agent in UTA’s television literary department. UTA has also hired Geoff “Geespin" Gamere as an agent. Gamere spent the last 16 years of his career at iHeartmedia.


Joe Cuello has been named the new GM at EscapeX. Cuello comes to EscapeX from Tunecore, where he served as chief creative officer. Prior to that he spent a decade at MTV Networks. Cuello is an adjunct professor at Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, where he teaches entertainment management.

Ware Malcomb has promoted Jan Davis to director, commercial architecture in the firm’s Denver office. Davis joined Ware Malcomb’s Denver office as project manager in 2006 and was promoted to studio manager, commercial architecture, in 2007.  She received a bachelor of fine arts degree from Colorado College, Colorado Springs and a Masters of Architecture from the University of Colorado, Denver. 

Blitz|GES has promoted two of its senior team, Carol Gibbs and Mark Watson. Gibbs takes on the newly-created role of director of venues. Watson is the new creative director.

Spectra by Comcast Spectacor, the provider of venue management to Chaifetz Arena on the campus of Saint Louis (Mo.) University, has promoted Jeremy Huelsing to GM of Chaifetz Arena. Huelsing most recently served as the venue’s AGM. Huelsing joined the Spectra team at the Chaifetz Arena during the inaugural season in 2008. In 2012 he moved to the Glens Falls (N.Y.) Civic Center as director of finance before taking over as the GM in 2013. He returned to Chaifetz Arena in 2015.

The Mendocino County Tourism Commission has appointed Alan Humason as executive director. Previously, Humason was executive director of Yolo County (Calif.) Visitors Bureau. He received his bachelor of arts degree in English literature from University of California, Santa Barbara, and undertook graduate studies in English literature and rhetoric at San Jose (Calif.) State University. 

Dusty Kurtz is the new president of TicketsWest. Kurtz joined TicketsWest in 2006 as a project manager in the Denver office. He was promoted in 2008 to regional manager and in April 2011 he became the TicketsWest vice president and moved to the head office in Spokane, Wash. Prior to his positions with TicketsWest, Kurtz worked at Montana State University, Bozeman, and Brick Breeden Field House under Duane Morris.

Jack Lucas has stepped down as president of TicketsWest after 30 years at the helm. Lucas will continue to serve as president of West Coast Entertainment, a concert and Broadway promotion company serving the Pacific Northwest.

Mark Nerenhausen is the new CEO for Hennepin Theater Group, which runs the Orpheum Theatre, State Theatre and Pantages Theatre, all in Minneapolis. Nerenhausen is the founding director of the Janklow Arts Leadership Program at Syracuse (N.Y.) University. He previously served as president and CEO of AT&T Performing Arts Center, Dallas, and he led the Performing Arts Authority, Fort Lauderdale, Fla., from 1998-2009.

Former Durham (N.C.) Convention Center GM Jen Noble has taken the GM position at Mansion On Delaware Avenue, Buffalo, N.Y. Noble transitioned into convention centers working for Spectra Venue Management at the Conference and Events Center, Niagara Falls, N.Y., and eventually became their AGM and director of sales and marketing. Noble is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, Hyde Park, N.Y.

Albany (N.Y.) Capital Center (ACC) continues to fill key positions; most recently hiring two event services managers, Jamie Parker and Anastasia Purritano. Parker joins ACC after a working at Albany County Convention and Visitors Bureau and The College of Saint Rose, Albany.  In addition to her position at ACC, Parker also serves as coordination assistant for Inspired Occasions. Parker graduated from Fitchburg (Mass.) State University with a bachelor’s degree in Communications Media. Purritano began her career with BBL Hospitality at the Hilton Garden Inn at Albany (N.Y.) Medical Center. Purritano received her bachelor’s degree in sports, entertainment and event management in 2012 from Johnson & Wales University, Providence, R.I.

Joaquin Quesada has been named deputy director of the Anaheim (Calif.) Convention Center. Quesada started his career as an Anaheim Convention Center busboy. In 1997, Quesada was appointed Aramark general manager at the Anaheim Convention Center and continued his Aramark career in various district manager roles, overseeing venues in Anaheim, Los Angeles, San Diego, Washington, Palm Springs and Las Vegas until 2016. Quesada succeeds David Meek, who retired from the Anaheim Convention Center in 2016.

Luc Robitaille has been named president of the L.A. Kings hockey club and will now oversee all hockey and business operations. Rob Blake has been named VP and GM for the Kings and will direct all day-to-day hockey operations for the organization. The announcement of both promotions was made by Dan Beckerman, president and CEO of AEG, the parent company of the LA Kings. In addition, Beckerman announced Dean Lombardi, who has served as Kings President and General Manager since 2006, and Darryl Sutter, who has served as the club’s Head Coach since 2011, have been relieved of their current duties.

Jim Wynkoop has been named GM of Atlantic City’s historic Boardwalk Hall in New Jersey for Spectra Venue Management. Previously, Wynkoop had been GM of Chaifetz Arena at St. Louis (Mo.) University. 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, Coral Gables, Fla. Wynkopp also served in various capacities at the Whittemore Center Arena at University of New Hampshire, Durham, and he was part of the opening team at University of South Carolina’s Colonial Life Arena, Columbia. He began his venue career working at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, Uniondale, N.Y., serving as the parking manager, event services manager and director of operations. He replaces Fran Rodowicz, whom Spectra promoted to general manager of the Sun National Bank Center in Trenton, N.J.

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Posted: 1 Apr 2017, 5:00 pm

A new global standard was set for convention centers when the ICC Sydney opened in December, bringing state-of-the-art construction, technology and diligent planning to the forefront of world-class venue designs.   In the four months that the International Convention Center in Sydney has been operational, it’s already outpaced expectations and is on target to outgrow revenue projections, said ICC Sydney CEO Geoff Donaghy, who highlighted that the venue has bookings all the way out to 2026.
“The estimates were that the center would create $200 million per year,” he said. “Over 25 years, that equals $5 billion in Australian dollars. “The early indications are, and we measure this, that those numbers will be exceeded.”
The impressively large, $1.5 billion Aus. ($1.12 billion U.S.) convention center already has 170 events booked.
ICC Sydney officials and architects pride themselves that the venue can host three separated events at the same time, making the booking power of the facilities endless.
Three main buildings make up the ICC Sydney, which includes the ICC Sydney Theater, the exhibition space that has five exhibition halls and the convention center that hosts a number of events back to back or simultaneously.
In total, the ICC Sydney has 8,000 square meters (86,100 square feet) of meeting space, 35,000 sqm (114,829 sq. ft.) of exhibition space, a 5,000 sqm open air event deck, Australia’s largest grand ballroom and the 9,000-seat capacity ICC Sydney Theatre.
“I think the project exceeded all of our expectations,” said Bob Newman, president of AEG Facilities. “I think this project is going to redefine the industry in terms of functionality — the ability to accommodate exhibitions, conventions, corporate events and all varieties of public entertainment, all under one roof.”
ICC Sydney is managed by AEG Ogden, a division of AEG, which runs a variety of venues across Australia, Asia and the Middle East.

Imagine a major global hub without a convention center. That was Sydney’s reality for three years when the massive project that spans three blocks in the heart of downtown was being built.
“It took a very brave decision that Sydney would go without a convention center for three years,” Donaghy said. “Sydney had an existing convention center that had been operating for 30 years. There were a number of schemes to expand it.”
Ultimately, venue operators and the state government made the bold decision to construct a brand new facility that everyone hoped would become a global centerpiece and destination for the world’s top conferences.
Since the convention center opened in December, it’s hosted four international events, 17 exhibitions and 14 concerts.
“We’ve just finished two major medical conventions,” Donaghy said.
Accommodating attendees who fill that space is a priority for the venue, especially when it comes to connecting to the internet.
ICC Sydney’s technology was an important part of the entire project, and the expectation is that delegates and attendees will arrive with at least three devices that all require internet connections.

ICC Sydney is part of a larger $3.4 billion project to revitalize the Darling Harbour that includes a new 590-room hotel. The Sofitel Darling Harbour is currently being built adjacent to ICC Sydney and will open in October.
New residential and commercial development, along with a new pedestrian boulevard will connect the harbor waterfront to Sydney’s Central Station, which is a railway transit.
ICC Sydney is touted as smartly positioned within the epicenter.
“It’s location, in the heart of a vibrant capital market, in the heart of a growing hospitality district, steps from the waterfront, all make it unmatched on the global playing field,” Newman said.
Hotels surrounding ICC Sydney are running at peak levels, and another 2,000 hotel rooms currently are under construction, Donaghy said.
“That creates an enormous demand and success of room nights,” he added.
The spending power alone from conference guests has a huge economic footprint, and outpaces what tourists spend. Convention delegates spend four to five times more per day than the average tourist, Donaghy highlighted.
“The convention center sees only about eight to 10 percent of that spending. The rest is out in Sydney,” he said. “We like to point out that the convention center is the nexus between the visitor economy and the intel economy. We’re attracting very important events out of the city and out of Asia as well.”
In January, the venue hosted the Amway China Leadership Seminar 2017, bringing more than 2,000 attendees to the newly-opened convention center.
Another economic impact that can’t go overlooked is the number of jobs ICC Sydney has created — starting with the design and construction, all the way to the 1,500 people who currently work at the venue.
The facility has 300 full-time staff and roughly 1,200 part-time employees, and those figures will soon increase to 320 full-time and 1,800 part-time workers.
The food and beverage side benefits a different sector of the economy. The ICC Sydney buys the majority of its food and beverage directly from suppliers, not wholesalers. That means the convention center is buying seafood from local seafood suppliers, beef from local cattle farmers and wine from Australia’s robust wineries.
“We’re giving them surety of business and surety of payment,” Donaghy said. “We’ve ensured that 80 percent of our wine list comes from New South Wales.”
Food and beverage doesn’t just come from Sydney, but also from various regional areas across Australia.
Donaghy and other ICC Sydney officials have started the process of measuring the job creation with the help of local universities, he said.

Global conventions are one thing, but high profile entertainment is another, and the ICC Sydney certainly caters to the glitz and glamour of the music industry.
Australia’s country heartthrob Keith Urban christened the ICC Sydney Theater on Dec. 15 to a sold-out crowd.
“Being a good Aussie boy, that was very exciting,” Donaghy said.
The Dixie Chicks played at the theater in March, and the Zac Brown Band is on April’s lineup. Family friendly entertainment events also are planned at ICC Sydney throughout the year, including a Nickelodeon’s “Paw Patrol” — a live account of the kids show acted out on stage.
K.D. Lang will host a concert this summer, and American comedian Jerry Seinfeld also will entertain guests in August. The list goes on and on.
Sydney’s business community and the state government couldn’t be more pleased with the venues ongoing success so early out of the gate.
“Having the opportunity to build something brand new and bring the experience we have of 25 years in convention center development to the table is exciting,” Donaghy said, adding that he’s extremely proud to be part of something “on the edge of one of the most beautiful cities in the world.”

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Posted: 1 Apr 2017, 5:00 pm

As thousands of fans stream through the gates into Major League Baseball stadiums in Detroit, Atlanta and St. Louis, a new style of training has security dogs moving with the crowds on the hunt for the scent of explosives.
Through a training style developed and patented in 2015 by Auburn University, Vapor Wake dogs—exclusively trained by AMK9 via a license with the university—don’t need a static object or person to mark as their obedience fixes to odor.
In Detroit, Richard Fenton, chief security officer for the Illitch family, took the next step, buying Vapor Wake dogs and then setting up a mechanism, a 501c3, to allow him to share the purchased dogs with other institutions in the city. The result is the dogs stay very active and are trained up-to-date with new threats. “They stay fresh; it was a creative way to solve that problem,” said Chris Robinette, Prevent Advisors, who studied the Detroit project. Other 501c3’s are now taking root in other cities, where everyone can integrate use of the dogs.
Ilitch Holdings own MLB’s Tigers and NHL’s Red Wings. While the Detroit dogs remain in heavy use at games at both Comerica Park and Joe Louis Arena (and starting in September, the new downtown Little Caesars Arena), Fenton has donated the use of the dogs and their handlers to local law enforcement agencies, including the Detroit Police Department, Michigan State Police and Wayne State University.
Fenton said donating the use of the dogs to neighboring agencies not only helps bolster the cooperation between the sports teams and those serving to help secure sporting venues, but it also keeps the dogs sharp and in year-round practice.
Ilitch Holdings was able to use its Ilitch Charities, specifically its Detroit Tigers Foundation, 501c3 nonprofit status to connect the Vapor Wake technology to the community through an initial investment of $135,000. The donation of the dogs to the three law enforcement agencies runs through the foundation, serving the goals of the charities in supporting the community.
“It is the only technology that can fill that gap for body-worn explosives on a moving target,” said Charlie McGinty, vice president at AMK9. If someone is carrying explosive material, it will leave a scent trail or vapor wake that the canine will detect and then lead the trained handler to the source of the scent.
A Vapor Wake dog, most commonly a Labrador retriever breed, can take up to 15 months to train. The $50,000 price tag on the dogs include the dog, Vapor Wake training and a seven-week course taught in Anniston, Ala., that matches a handler with the trained canine where, as McGinty says, “they bond together and learn to be a certified Vapor Wake team.”
AMK9 sells packages, such as they’ve done in Detroit, or rents the service with their own dogs and handlers.
Training teaches the dogs to sample the air behind hundreds of people moving toward a venue, a key factor in keeping the flow of fans unobstructed. “Everybody wants to have a good fan experience,” McGinty said. “This is a very unobtrusive way of screening people. Our canines can detect trace amounts of explosive material on a moving target.”
While sports venues have certainly taken notice, the Vapor Wake technology remains on the rise in New York City’s counterterrorism unit as new orders coming this year help supply dogs for events such as the Macy’s Day Parade. The St. Louis Cardinals and Atlanta Braves have proven regular supporters of Vapor Wake, as is the Arlington Fire Department, which works Dallas Cowboys games at AT&T Stadium.
Fenton said AMK9’s cooperation with the NCS4 lab run by Dr. Lou Marciani at the University of Southern Mississippi, Hattiesburg, has proven critical in understanding the value of Vapor Wake. The lab constantly investigates how to make venues safer in the larger sense and specifically how to develop best practices and support programs. By continually testing new vendors, whether cameras, metal detectors or vehicle barricades, the NCS4 lab can do the heavy lifting. Dogs play a part, too.
As Vapor Wake has reached certification with the NCS4 lab, Fenton said cooperation from venue operators with the Department of Homeland Security’s subsector focused on commercial facilities, allows the sharing of intelligence and best practices around the country, giving security officials the best idea of how to use new methods, such as Vapor Wake. Without giving away the secrets of the trade, Fenton said that such a robust group of security experts can help devise strategies to combat current threats.
With one of those growing strategies the use of Vapor Wake dogs, Fenton said the labor-intensive process and expense makes this tool hard to obtain for some. “I think all of us in the private sector are looking for different ways to collaborate,” he said, about donating the use of the dogs. “We are pushing the envelope.”



Ideas and suggestions on live event safety, security and crowd management from our friends at Prevent Advisors.

Protecting your organization's data and information systems can at times seem like a daunting effort, and it is. With a reported 65 percent year-on-year increase in "phishing" attacks, protecting critical systems will only become more challenging.

Tip: Healthy skepticism is your friend. Take the time to remind your team to never open files or click links from unsolicited emails without first confirming the sender's identity and the origin of the file. While such verification takes a small extra effort on the front end, consistent adherence to this common sense action will save any targeted system or organization immeasurable pain on the back end.

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Posted: 1 Apr 2017, 5:00 pm

When you’re the director of marketing for a
large sports institution such as Mississippi State University, Starkville,  it’s vastly important to engage athletic fans through different marketing tools.
MSU has done that and more with its customized emoji keyboards that fans download to their smartphones from Apple and Android stores. The keyboards have emojies, stickers and gifs that are shared via text or social media.
When the athletic department launched the marketing tool in 2015, more than 15,000 people downloaded the app on the first day. To date, more than 100,000 fans have downloaded the app, using it leading up to big games and on game day itself.
MSU was the first university in the U.S. to create and launch customized emojis in-house, and the idea stemmed from MSU’s former Athletic Director Scott Stricklin, who saw what the Atlanta Hawks were doing with customized emojis, said MSU Director of Marketing Rhett Hobart.
The emojis give fans the opportunity to text each other or express their excitement about games on social media with emojis and stickers with MSU logos, such as cowbells people send to each other when they’re pumped on game day.
Stickers also were created for the various venues across the campus, allowing fans to text or reach a large audience on social media, telling friends to meet them at the game. College interaction has been phenomenal, said Leah Beasley, associate athletic director of marketing and fan engagement.
“The fans say (to a friend), ‘What are you doing today?’ and they respond with a sticker of the venue,” she said.
Promoting the emoji project was key to its success, Beasley said.
“We promoted across our food vendors, the basketball venue, football venue and baseball venue,” she said. “We also promoted in the venues.  We believe it’s a large part why our marketing team won the National Association of College Marketing Administration award.”
The university reminds fans — both leading up to game day and on game day — to use their emojis and stickers to express excitement and support for their teams.
The use of emojis is especially popular at basketball games, she highlighted.
Initially, the university offered the app downloads for free, but now they charge 99 cents, and the fee goes to pay for the creation and the upkeep of the emojis.
In order to successfully use the stickers and emojis at the stadiums on game days, the stadium has to ensure that fans can successfully use their phones and the internet, which often is problematic for venues across the country which have large volumes of people using the internet and cell data at once.
“Two years ago, we put a cell tower in the stadium and put sensors to help improve the cell singles,” Hobart said. “It’s much improved.”
Perhaps the most profound piece of the emoji platform is the game day interaction, he said.
“We feel a pretty big spike during game day,” Hobart said.
To quantify that, in the first year of use, MSU had a million pieces of content shared with using the emojis and stickers during game days.
The university creates each emoji, sticker and gif in house using Adobe Photoshop or Adobe Illustrator, giving the athletic marketing department full control of the what kind of hype they want to build for each game.
They also use the emojis to keep fans updated on game days by sending out texts and social media messages about times, scores, and cancellations.
“It’s helping with our brand outreach and our brand equity,” Beasley said.

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Posted: 1 Apr 2017, 4:00 pm

Jan-Szabat239x300.jpgProject management is a big part of the job for Jan Szabat, engineering services director, Shaw Conference Centre, Edmonton, Alberta. Whether it’s flood mitigation or vertical transportation, his expertise and knowledge of the city’s iconic venue is legendary. Nothing stops the show with Szabat in charge.
Szabat, who never gives up, is the perfect choice for the inaugural Venue Operations Summit Excellence in Engineering Award, which will be presented during the 2017 conference in Nashville, Tenn., April 30-May 2. Notified on his birthday (March 29) that he had been selected for the award, he “wasn’t sure this was actually real. That was a gift for me. I’m honored. This is so awesome.”
He describes his job as “making sure the building looks attractive, is functional, and everything works – smells good, looks good.” To do that, he watches the aging infrastructure closely, with frequent equipment lifecycle reports and carefully planned upgrades and maintenance projects.
“We’re thrilled that Jan is being recognized for his outstanding contributions to Edmonton’s convention center,” said Lisanne Lewis, general manager, Shaw Conference Centre. “His leadership over the past 30 years has been instrumental in ensuring one of our city’s most iconic assets continues to be seen as a premier meetings and conventions destination.”
Szabat has been at the convention center almost from day one, starting there in 1983 after immigrating to Canada from Poland, where he was a land surveyor. He started in the maintenance and engineering department in 1986.
Switching professions, Szabat chose engineering because he likes the variety and the daily challenge. “Every day looks absolutely different. You don’t know what the challenge will be,” Szabat said. It helps that he is tenacious.
“In this type of business, you don’t have the comfort of giving up. The only option is to find different solutions. You can’t walk away and say I don’t know how to do that.”
Szabat’s biggest engineering challenge was in 2012, when the convention center was hit with major, major flooding by water and raw sewage. The flood was due to poor design of the city’s sewage system, which has finally been fixed, but not until three flood episodes.
Belfor Restoration was brought in to oversee recovery the first time and, just as work was near completion, they were hit again. Twice in the summer of 2012 (July 12 and July 23) and a third time in 2013. “We’re okay now, but that was a huge challenge,” Szabat said.
Amazingly, throughout the flood mitigation process, the center continued to operate, moving some functions to upper levels and scheduling work around events.
Coming up, Szabat will hire a project manager for the $10-million endeavor to replace 696 glass panels on the center’s roof. His role will be to provide documentation, schedule work and assess business interruption in the building. Construction is to start in 2018.
“Any project, even ones I sometimes don’t manage, I have to work to make sure they are successful,” Szabat said. Success depends upon his organizational skills.
As he prepares for the roof work, he’s wrapping up the two-year,  $12.6 million escalator replacement project. It was very complicated because the venue, which slopes down to the river, is totally dependent on vertical transportation for clients and customers. “We never closed,” Szabat said. “A big part of my role was scheduling and business interruption. I had to make sure noise was not interfering with our clients. It’s a constant battle to stop contractors from making too much noise so we could allow business to roll. That was very challenging.”
Szabat oversees a fulltime staff of 13 in engineering. For large jobs, he brings in an outside contractor, but when possible he acts as project manager himself.
A big believer in long-term planning, Szabat contracts for equipment lifecycle studies and keeps them current. “We know what to expect in the near future,” he said.
On a regular basis, about every three years, the center applies for capital funding. Shaw Conference Centre belongs to the city of Edmonton and is operated independently by Edmonton Economic Development Corp.
But Szabat never goes to the city saying, “I think this needs to be replaced.” Every request is well documented and planned for via the lifecycle reports. The facility is aging and this is the thinking required to keep it functioning.
“It helps that I’ve been here this long. I feel the beat of this building. I know the facility well. I know what’s involved. I know the equipment in place, and I understand the process,” Szabat said.
That would be his best advice to the next engineer in charge, when he retires. “Maintain the basics, upgrade the infrastructure. When I was hired, the facility was relatively new. But I knew what would come next. I’d advise that person to keep a close eye on an aging facility. Architecturally, it’s still a very attractive building, but the infrastructure is aging.”
It takes a team to maintain a venue like Shaw Convention Centre and Szabat believes it’s worth taking the time to find people with the right chemistry to be on that team. Whether it’s good engineering or a successful sports franchise, the team must be dedicated, understand the job and take it seriously.
“You need to have your heart in this work. It’s very interesting and challenging. You are never bored on this job.”

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Posted: 1 Apr 2017, 4:00 pm

When you think about starting something, you are excited by the opportunity. I think there is something in our brains in those initial idea moments that will not allow us to consider anything but the possibilities of success. This is what went on in my mind when I began considering creating a dedicated educational conference focused solely on public assembly facility operations and engineering professionals.
After the initial enthusiasm and excitement is over, the real work begins. No one person can think of all the things that need to be considered, let alone executed in order to have a successful conference. Fortunately for me, several people like Linda Deckard, Samantha Le, Rob Ocampo, Rich DiGiacomo and the team at Venues Today, along with my business partners Tom Williams and Mike Wooley (who are always wondering what I am going to come up with next), shared my vision, dug in and are responsible for the success the Venue Operations Summit has enjoyed thus far.
This year’s summit, the third annual, will once again be focused on delivering quality information that public assembly facility operations and engineering professionals need to know. My goal for this conference is to deliver quality information in a manner in which the attendees can use this information as soon as they return to their facilities.
The intangible part of the conference is the opportunity to spend quality time with some fantastic leaders from all facility types. When you are in a room or having a conversation at breakfast or lunch with people like Charlie Leone, Amway Center, Orlando, Fla.; Jim Spencer, American Airlines Arena, Miami; Jim Greer, Tennessee Performing Arts Center Nashville, Tenn.; Derek Hillestad, University of Minnesota, Minn.; Joey Dennis, Infinite Energy Center, Duluth, Ga.; Molly Fortune, Newberry (S.C.) Opera House; Greg Poole, Smart Financial Center, Sugar Land, Texas; Josh Robinson, former director of engineering, Georgia World Congress Center, Atlanta, and many more. You cannot help but create the connections that lead to solutions both now and in the future.
When you get the opportunity to hear from true industry professionals like Dave Loverock at Jet Ice, who I believe knows more about ice than practically anyone, Mike Rogers from SSR, who has likely lost track of the number of facilities that he and his firm have designed MEP for, and Ken Burgess from Hussey Seating, who will get to the gritty reality on how to maintain telescopic platforms, the results can make a real difference in how you do your job.
In our first two conferences, I made a conscious choice to stay away from security. I felt there were already several security related opportunities from organizations like the International Association of Assembly Managers (IAVM), the National Center for Sport Spectator Safety & Security (NCS4) and the Stadium Managers Association (SMA). I had a conversation with several operations managers during last year’s summit, and they reminded me that there are a large number of industry facilities where security falls under the director of operations and personnel in those departments do not necessarily get to attend the other security conferences. With that in mind, we have included two security related sessions that will help to address the needs that many facilities’ operators are facing today. The first is a presentation on security screening led by Mark Kranske, SVP of operations for Landmark Event Services, and Joe Vazquez, national security sales manager at Garrett Metal Detectors. The second is a presentation by Doug DeLancey from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office for bombing prevention. Doug will discuss DHS’s efforts to develop the second capability guideline for public assembly venues and the activities necessary to identify, prevent and respond to bomb threats and related incidents.
  We have two spectacular keynotes presented by people who have had real success in our industry. The first is Alex Diaz. Alex’s career goes from crowd manager to the GM of Madison Square Garden, with stops at the Miami Heat and the Brooklyn Nets. I am genuinely excited to hear what Alex has to say. The other keynote is by longtime industry leader and now educator, Sporty Jeralds, from the University of South Carolina, Columbia. Sporty is, in my opinion, someone that reflects all that we aspire to be, working his way through the industry to become the GM of the Charlotte (N.C.) Coliseum.
I encourage you to join us. We will all be better for it.

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 or mail questions to Venues Today, P.O. Box 2540, Huntington Beach, CA 92647.

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Posted: 1 Apr 2017, 4:00 pm

matt_roof_2.jpgThe city is about to give the 34-year-old Tacoma (Wash.) Dome a $21-million facelift and Matt Balk, operations manager, is eager to take on the challenge.
Having handled operations at various venues through his 20-year career, Balk is the epitome of an excellent operations professional. He’s passionate about the industry, experienced in working with clients and customers and in love with the logistical aspects of operations. He is also the first Venue Operations Summit Excellence in Operations Award Winner and will be so honored during the 2017 VOS in Nashville April 30-May 2.
An operations award is long overdue in this industry, Balk agreed. “The operations department is usually the largest department in a venue. It’s great to have some recognition, as embarrassing to me as it is personally.”
Balk entered this field in college, while majoring is sport management at Iowa State, Ames. He worked his way through school specializing in conversion at Iowa’s multiuse basketball arena, Hilton Coliseum, managed by SMG.
He is very much a sports fan, with athletics being his initial drawing card, but it’s all about operations for Balk. “I’ve always been that person who likes the logistical aspects,” Balk said. “Obviously converting facilities spoke to me because that’s really just an exercise in logistics.”
Upon graduation, he decided to indulge another passion, seeing the country, so Balk was ready and willing to travel. SMG sent him to Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza, Wilkes-Barre, Pa., then back to Des Moines, Iowa, to open Wells Fargo Arena. Then he moved to Arco Arena in Sacramento, Calif,; CenturyLink Center, Bossier City, La., and back to California to Stockton Arena. In Louisiana, he met his true love, married and committed to settling down soon.
The settling takes place in Tacoma, which is an aging facility and right up Balk’s alley. “I appreciate the challenge of working with older systems. Don’t get me wrong. I like new shiny things as much as the next person. But there is an allure of extending the lifecycle of equipment in facilities for me.”
“We call him Mr. Fixer,” said Kim Bedier, director of Public Assembly Facilities for the city of Tacoma. Bedier cited Balk’s ability to be “very consistent and super fair,” handling the day-to-day while keeping his eye on the big picture, the future. He’s helped “fix” several older venues and Tacoma Dome is the newest feather in his cap. “He knows change is a journey and he knows how to get there.”
Balk also likes the management side of operations, especially working with such a diverse group — custodial, conversion, maintenance, HVAC, IT — a group that invariably brings demographic diversity. “I love learning the differences of cultures and viewpoints from my crew.”
Operations is a challenging profession, and Balk enjoys rising to the occasion. One of the most gratifying was in Des Moines, when Paul McCartney and Bon Jovi were playing back-to-back dates and both needed a load-in day. “We ended up pre-rigging a lot of Bon Jovi and having McCartney come in and hang a lot of their stuff right below Bon Jovi’s. They were both Live Nation shows; everyone worked well together,” Balk recalled.
From a rigging standpoint, the challenge was to be sure the building and the roof were safe. The grid in Des Moines could hang 150,000 pounds. In Tacoma, he can hang 250,000 pounds if it’s done correctly, meaning everything is balanced and weight loads are correct.
Rigging shows is becoming more and more of a challenge because venues are tightening their programming and operations has to deliver a positive client and customer experience in a condensed timeframe. “I’m always in awe of the facilities that are able to do two events in a day,” Balk said. “It’s such a feat of coordination and teamwork to make that happen.”
In Tacoma, Balk oversees six facilities — the dome, the convention center, three theaters and a Triple A ballpark. He likes being able to put on a different hat for each, but his main baby right now is renovation of the Tacoma Dome. The venue opened April 21, 1983, and is in need of some tender, loving care.
He’s been able to make modifications on a shoestring, like sprucing up the back entrance and dressing room hallway. Now, he’s got a budget to do bigger things.
The big targets are improved technology and customer comfort. To that end, the dome’s 23,000 seats will be totally renovated. “The big thing is seat width and leg room,” Balk said, quite satisfied with the designs in progress. A contractor has not yet been selected. Work will start late this year with an October 2018 finish line.
With two decades in operations, Balk has learned some valuable lessons. One is to communicate well with all stakeholders. Early in his career, he had to deal with a power outage in a facility that damaged the ice plant the day of a hockey game. “So we were trying to fix the ice plant and keep the game as well. But I was trying to be covert and not keep all the stakeholders informed of the situation. People are very understanding as long as they feel they are involved. If you close those lines of communication and leave people in the dark, that’s rarely a good solution.”
In this particular case, Balk certainly should have done a better job communicating with GM and ensuring lines of communication were open with the team and box office and anyone else involved in the potential canceling of an event, which is exactly what eventually happened. “We got through two periods but the ice couldn’t make it through the third,” he remembered.
One of his triumphs happened in Tacoma, shepherding the DAS and WiFi upgrades. “It was a big undertaking. We had to figure out a solution with no capital investment on our end,” Balk said. “We were able to get some WiFi providers to recognize they could recoup upfront capital investments with some of the carrier dollars that came our way later. We installed a neutral party and then Verizon, T-Mobile, AT&T and Sprint all pay to access our equipment.” Mobility is the neutral party.
Though the preferred method would be for the facility to invest the upfront capital, the challenge is the workaround if those funds aren’t available. Just understand the tradeoffs, Balk advised. That upgrade was completed in 2016.
It is important to keep up with the Joneses when operating an older facility. To entice the city to fund those upgrades, Balk makes sure he produces well-researched supporting data, like client surveys, the cost of antiquated systems and cost reduction after an investment. “And telling a story about the role our facilities play in the community and the quality of life and growth of our community is important,” he said.
In managing people, Balk likes to listen and refuses to fixate on past issues. He oversees a fulltime staff of 24 in operations. “You have to be able to have a short memory when things don’t go right. If someone doesn’t show up for work, and even though it might put you in a bind, you can’t fixate on that. It’s about figuring out a solution to ensure our clients or facility don’t suffer because of someone’s absence.”
He also refuses to be complacent. “Put yourself on our customers’ shoes. It’s sounds basic, but it’s easy to slide into ‘this is the way we’ve always done it.’ I’m constantly pushing myself and my crew to challenge ourselves to not always do things the same way.”
To facilitate fresh approaches, he cross trains staff, requiring everyone to have a diversified skillset. “Then the people doing new things started asking, ‘why do we do things this way, how about that way?’ And it often makes sense,” Balk said.
For example, at Tacoma Dome, the staff had always set up portable seating left to right. Then along came a new idea with a fresh set of eyes on the subject. “Now we do it from center. It’s a little thing, but it ends up shaving 15 minutes off a conversion with two people working in two directions. Fifteen minutes matters.”
So does 20 years.

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LETTER FROM MAUREEN ANDERSEN, President/CEO, International Ticketing Association
Posted: 1 Apr 2017, 3:00 pm

We all have an “elevator speech” for those moments when someone asks us “what do you do?”  I am sure, that like me, you have probably honed and distilled the speech into something like “ticketing for live events…entertainment…show biz,” then followed by even further explanations as they look at you strangely like a quizzical cocker spaniel.
This happened to me over the weekend when I struggled to explain to a good friend what INTIX does and is; what this association represents and what I did for my career, our life’s work. It dawned on me that keeping it simple is usually best. I turned to my friend Steve and said, “Well yes, when you first bought a ticket it might have been at a Ticketron outlet like I did at the Peaches Record Warehouse when I was young. But it is more than that now….we have evolved. For every legitimate ticket that someone buys to a game, a show, a concert, you have to remember that we are the professionals who make it all work.  We are the ones who set it up, create it, engineer it, who make it all work right…the professionals behind it all. We are the specialists.”
The truth is that no one thinks much about the tickets or the mechanics of it all, except when something goes wrong. It is quite the testament to the enduring transparency and trust of our industry that no one notices for the vast majority of their entertainment ticketing transactions.
The INTIX Code of Ethics promotes the success of the industry and its members by encouraging the highest standards of conduct for entertainment ticketing professionals to ensure public confidence in the integrity of the profession and the industry. As our long-time member and ethics champion Jack Lucas said, “Many years ago, I felt that there was a need to create ‘the code,’ because of the type of work that ticketing professionals do. We have always conducted ourselves in a professional, ethical and honest manner, but no one had actually taken the time to create a Code of Ethics.”
No one cares or pays attention until they are affected and the public is being affected. Countless states, cities, municipalities and countries are now grappling with the legalities, technology, fairness and access issues around the ticket transaction. It is incumbent that we, the ticket professional, continue to adhere to our road map and our code of honest, transparent and ethical behavior. And thanks to my friend Steve for the simple “what do you do” question on a Sunday afternoon. 

Please visit or call +1 212.629.4036 for further information on becoming a member and INTIX’s 36th Annual Conference & Exhibition including sponsorship, exhibiting and advertising.

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Posted: 1 Apr 2017, 3:00 pm


Legislation like the BOTS Act of 2016 [Better Online Ticket Sales] in the U.S. will not solve the increasingly intrusive problem of robots gobbling up primary market seats on the internet, but it’s a start. However, before the BOTS Act even has a bite, ticketing companies and venues must put deterrents in place. Without something the ticketbuying software called bots must circumvent to score tickets, no law is broken.
Rami Essaid, Distil Networks, talked about the BOTS Act during INTIX this year and followed it up with a free webinar on bots and what to do about them. His most attentive audience was from theaters that have booked “Hamilton” for its summer run.
Press releases and conferences heralding the BOTS Act and the fact it is illegal to purchase performance tickets online using robots is a start. Essaid recommended that avenue. Wharton Center for the Arts, East Lansing, Mich., is one that took a PR approach to the problem.
“My biggest recommendation is exactly that — venues and artists need to continue to talk about this and say it’s a big issue,” said Essaid.
Beyond that, venue managers need to be well informed on the issue and the potential solutions, though it’s generally the ticket broker who has the power to put deterrents in place. Essaid and Niels Sodemann, CEO of Queue-it, conducted the webinar on how the BOTS Act impacts premium on sales and the ticketing industry’s ecosystem, revealing that anytime they hear about a show selling out in a minute or two, they know there are bots at play.
It’s not possible to process those orders on the fastest, most robust ticketing site in less than about 20 minutes, Sodemann said.
During the webinar, they defined the various methods used by bots today, warning that the minute one avenue closes, another is found. Methods of buying up tickets before the general public makes it into the queue include scalping, which is buying multiple tickets multiple times with bots, as many as quickly as possible; sniping, which is when a bot sits and watches the inventory, waiting till the end to grab what it wants; and spinning, which they called the “absolute worst.” With spinning, the robot can hold the tickets in its shopping cart and export them to the secondary market without ever buying them until they are resold.
It’s all done at superhuman speed.
Legislation to combat bots has passed in the U.S., is being addressed in the U.K. and is under consideration in Canada. But the problem is global. If someone is scalping, spinning or sniping tickets in China, the laws can’t stop them.
The goal in ticketing is that real users are able to buy tickets and are happy with the transaction. To accomplish that, ticketing companies and venues have to be forever vigilant, ahead of the curve and nimble in reacting.
Legislation could even add to the problem. If, for example, CAPTCHA (a manually entered code to prove the user is not a robot) is required of every customer who buys a ticket, transaction time would slow dramatically. And CAPTCHA can be bypassed in seconds by programming a bot with 30,000 different words.
More and more artists are demanding ticketing companies have anti-bot protection in place. But it’s not illegal to buy and resell tickets. Sodemann said he can find 10 websites that teach the technology needed to spin tickets. The price of learning is down to about $1,000. Go to, he suggested, or look up “technology broker spinnerbot.”
“It’s not an expensive endeavor for the bad guys; there are pre-made tools and open-source solutions to defeat you,” Essaid warned.
One of the major issues is account takeovers, Essaid added. Estimates suggest there are over 1.5 billion compromised user names and passwords out there, which can be run against your site. Breaches are at an all time high, and 50 percent of bot attacks start with stolen credentials.
Queue-it has developed a tool to prevent spinner bots by taking everybody into a pre-qualifying queue where they are assigned an identifier and random number. They then have a fair chance of getting the ticket.
Whatever ticketers do, the key is to not ignore the issue. “You have to take a multi-faceted approach to address every angle; there is no silver bullet,” Essaid said.
Distil offers a Hi-Def Fingerprint option that profiles the actual machine being used, not the IP address or cookies, which means scalpers must buy a new computer to make another purchase.
Today, venues are writing language into RFPs for ticketing services that require bot mitigation solutions, Essaid said. Companies like Ticketmaster have launched Verified Fan, an attempt to identify human buyers from bots.
“If the artists and venues start clamoring about bots, we will see those ticket brokers and technology platforms take it more seriously,” Essaid said.
Meanwhile, “just get something in place,” Essaid said. Go beyond protection from the site going down to protection against bots buying all the tickets. “If the bot is written well enough, it’s not going to take down the site but will beat out all the humans to get the tickets. Bots today are as clever and incognito as possible.”
“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 it’s worth investing in.”
Education is a big part of dealing with this issue, he added. Both the industry and the public need to understand what’s going on. While Essaid admits to being somewhat critical of the BOTS Act of 2016 because the law has minimal bite and the problem is  global, he is looking forward to a few high profile prosecutions, just to increase awareness.

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Posted: 1 Apr 2017, 2:15 pm

Leah_Beasley_Headshot.jpgLEAH BEASLEY
CURRENT CITY: Starkville, Miss.
HOMETOWN: Ruston, La.
UNIVERSITY: Louisiana Tech, Ruston.
FIRST JOB IN THE INDUSTRY: Athletic marketing GA and then assistant athletic director/marketing and game management at Louisiana Tech.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE PART OF THE JOB: Making the fans and student athletes happy.
WHAT WOULD YOU BE DOING IF YOU WEREN'T DOING THIS: Leading tours on a catamaran in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.
MENTOR: Scott Stricklin: he embodies and embraces all of the qualities of a great leader.
FREE TIME PURSUITS: Walk my dog, Tayeaux, to the river or lake and go boating and waterskiing.
TOP SONG ON YOUR PLAYLIST RIGHT NOW: Something by Lauren Daigle.
WHAT WOULD PEOPLE BE SURPRISED TO LEARN ABOUT YOU: I eat everybody’s leftovers. They call me Leftover Leah.
FAVORITE LIVE EVENT YOU'VE ATTENDED: Indigo Girls in Atlanta at Lilith Fair and then again at Duling Hall, Jackson, Miss.


Malu_landscape.jpgMALU BARRIOS
CURRENT CITY & HOMETOWN: Sydney, Australia
UNIVERSITY: Univ. of the Philippines, Quezon City.
FIRST JOB IN THE INDUSTRY: Banquet sales executive, The Manila Hotel.
HOW DID YOU GET YOUR CURRENT JOB: Progression within AEG Ogden. Prior to my current job, I opened and managed the Darwin (Australia) Convention Centre for eight years. Then I moved to Sydney to run the Sydney Exhibition Centre at Glebe Island, which was the interim venue that hosted Sydney’s trade and consumer exhibitions during the build of ICC Sydney.
YOUR FAVORITE PART OF THE JOB: The people that I deal with – clients, stakeholders, suppliers or our team. I learn something new every day.
WHAT WOULD YOU BE DOING IF YOU WEREN'T IN YOUR JOB: Running my own bed and breakfast.
WHAT DO YOU DO IN YOUR FREE TIME: Stand up paddle boarding, walking my dog and discovering Sydney.
ONE-DAY ESCAPE: Leura, a little town in the World Heritage-listed Blue Mountains, 90 minutes from Sydney.
TOP SONG ON YOUR PLAYLIST RIGHT NOW: “Stronger” by Kelly Clarkson.
BEST ADVICE  EVER RECEIVED: Have a vision for everything you do. Learn how to compromise along the way, but never lose sight of that vision. It’s okay to make mistakes.


Otto_Benedict.jpgOTTO BENEDICT
CURRENT CITY: Redondo Beach, Calif.
HOMETOWN: Pasadena, Calif.
UNIVERSITY: California Polytechnic, Pomona; California State Long Beach.
FIRST JOB IN THE INDUSTRY: Event operations associate at Wasserman Media Group, where I broke down events for the Los Angeles Avengers Arena Football team.
HOW DID YOU GET YOUR CURRENT JOB: I got a job with AEG at Home Depot Center, which is now StubHub Center in Carson. I left AEG to go to work with a local event company and that all helped me land the new job with LAFC.
ONE-DAY ESCAPE: Princeville, Kauai, Hawaii.
TOP SONG ON YOUR PLAYLIST RIGHT NOW: Anything by Chris Stapleton.
MOST EMBARRASSING SONG ON YOUR PLAYLIST RIGHT NOW: “Ice, Ice, Baby” by Vanilla Ice. I have no shame about it; I turn it up loud when I hear it.
FAMOUS PERSON IN HISTORY YOU WOULD LIKE TO MEET: The designer of the Roman Colosseum.
WHAT WOULD PEOPLE BE SURPRISED TO LEARN ABOUT YOU: I have a huge appreciation for art and live theater.
BEST ADVICE EVER RECEIVED: Do what’s best for the building. Today I turn it into ‘do what’s best for the club.’

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Posted: 1 Apr 2017, 2:00 pm

Legends are people who listen to, challenge and support their cohorts. They lead by example. They are inclusive and inspiring.
Susan O’Malley, who worked for the late Abe Pollin, founder of Monumental Sports & Entertainment, Washington, D.C.; and Peter Luukko, who worked for the late Ed Snider, founder of Comcast Spectacor, were often hilarious and more than a little self-revealing as they talked about working for legends over decades, day to day, during SEVT.
Abe Pollin was an awesome philanthropist. He would read in the newspaper about someone who had no car to get to work and would call Susan to buy that person a car.
He built two arenas with his own money, something Ed Snider did as well. Susan recalled the trip to a cornfield in Landover, Md., where Abe said, “I’m going to build the best arena in the country right here.” That was Capital Centre. And he did it again 20 years later, taking her to a crossing in downtown D.C. where you rolled through stoplights for fear of carjackers, and said the same thing. Isn’t this a great place for an arena?
Ed Snider always encouraged the entrepreneurial spirit in others. Peter recalled the summer ribfest he tried at Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia, that lost $30,000 the first year, $90,000 the second. Ed declared his love of the ribfest both times. He did not want to quench Peter’s entrepreneurial spirit.
And it paid off. To get people to come to Wells Fargo Center early during the hockey playoffs, Peter and the Flyers created a block party, complete with those same rib restaurants, those same cool bands. Each time, they made hundreds of thousands of dollars. “Sometimes your failure is the root of your next success,” Peter told the Sport, Entertainment and Venues Tomorrow crowd in Columbia,S.C.
Legends have big personalities and big quirks. Asked the most difficult thing in working for their particular legend, Peter quipped: “His four wives.” Every time Ed remarried, Peter had to redecorate the Director’s Room.
Susan said they secretly called Abe “Mr. Magoo.” He liked to play the dumb blond, pretending he wasn’t the smartest one in the room even when he was. He taught her to keep her eye on the ball. “I can get a little passionate, a little crazy, and he would say, “‘End game, end game.’”
Asked when they personally knew they loved the business, Susan admitted to being a fan of the National Anthem, not just the song and sentiment, but that moment in time. “I saw the National Anthem 1,018 times; I never missed it. I loved that moment because I would look around and think every sign, every person, every giveaway — that had been my job and this had come together,” Susan said.
That story prompted Peter to share that he plays over and under for $10 with his hockey GM — would the National Anthem go over two minutes, three seconds? The longest ever was 2:20.
God grant you many years to enjoy the meaningful moments, the Anthems of our biz.

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Raiders Brand, Vegas Brand Unite
Posted: 29 Mar 2017, 6:00 pm

Rendering of the $1.9-billion Las Vegas Raiders Stadium. (Courtesy: MANICA Architecture)

And Vegas rejoiced. After over a year of intense speculation, regulatory scrutiny and dashed dreams due to a fourth-quarter financing fumble, the National Football League (NFL) has approved the relocation of the Oakland Raiders to a shiny new $1.9-billion stadium in Las Vegas.

“This is unbelievable news for the city and something we have been working hard on for quite some time,” said Mike Newcomb, executive director, Sam Boyd Stadium, University of Las Vegas (UNLV) and a member of the Las Vegas Stadium Authority Board, which is the oversight organization in charge of the the project. “Being a member of the board is exciting and being able to be on the ground floor of the stadium development and how the facility will be managed is an exciting opportunity for all the board members.”

“This is a huge step forward both for the Raiders and our community,” said Jeremy Aguero, principal analyst and lead staff, Applied Analysis, the firm hired by the Southern Nevada Tourism Committee to study the possibilities of building a new sports stadium in Clark County, Nev., and enticing an NFL team to move to the desert city to play there.

“We have a substantial amount of work still to do in order to see the Raiders actually play in Las Vegas,” he added.

The NFL franchise owners met in Phoenix on Monday morning. After the votes were tallied, the vote stood at 31-1, with the Miami Dolphins being the sole 'no' vote. Dolphins' owner Stephen Ross released a statement on Monday saying, "we as a league owe it to the fans to do everything we can to stay in the communities that have supported us until all options have been exhausted,” explaining his decision to block the Raiders' move.

The Raiders are expected to play the next two seasons in Oakland, and possibly a third, before playing their first game in Las Vegas in 2020.

The effort to lure the NFL to Vegas began when Aguero drafted the first bill, Senate Bill One, that went to the Nevada legislature in October 2016. It called for an increase in the Clark County hotel room tax to fund $750 million in construction and infrastructure that would make up the state’s contribution to the in-the-works stadium.

The rest of the capital will come from the Raiders ($500 million) and Bank of America ($650 million). Las Vegas Sands casino magnate Sheldon Adelson was originally pegged to supply the last piece of the financing but pulled out late last year over concerns about how the eventual revenue would be split.

“At the point that Mr. Adelson stepped away from the deal and left a $650-million void, certainly the deal wasn’t going to be viable,” said Aguero. “Bank of America stepped in and made a deal viable again.”

The combined event revenue in the stadium’s first year of operation is expected to hit $263 million. Including ancillary revenue, such as naming rights, the total is expected to reach $290 million. Net operating income projections for the first year of operation in 2020 is expected to be in the $20-million to $25-million range.

The Raiders’ revenues from the new stadium is expected to be around $130 million and would come from broadcast rights, premium seating and suite sales, concessions, tickets, merchandise and stadium naming rights.

But the value to Las Vegas is much, much higher according to Pat Christenson, Las Vegas Events. “Estimates are $450 to $500 million a year to be added to the Las Vegas economy from the new stadium,” he said. “Public financing is always controversial. The way I look at it, we get a $1.9-billion stadium for $750 million and, with it, we get an NFL team that travels strongly.”

Christenson sees this as a perfect partnership. “The Raiders are the perfect team for Vegas,” he said. “The brand of the Raiders combined with the brand of Vegas make a superstar brand.”

Regional Raiders fans and local Raiders fans are expected to make up the fan base for the games, according to Christenson, and he expects that the people who come to visit “will spend a lot of money on a ticket or they can watch the game in one of the 40 to 50 casinos that will roll out the red carpet and create an experience every weekend for the football games.”

“This deal opens up infinite possibilities to secure events that we just couldn’t get before,” he said. “All the events that are now happening in Dallas, Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York we can attract now.”

“Many of the events we do get like Monster Jam World Finals; the Vegas Bowl; rugby; soccer and neutral-site college football have been restricted by a 30,000-capacity stadium, which we will now be able to grow. We can now get the Copa América Football Championship; The FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association) World Cup, as well all the International Friendlies soccer matches; boxing; UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) and concerts.”

Christenson also thought that the new stadium could compete for the Final Four; the Pro Bowl; the draft, and, of course, the Super Bowl. “Just imagine a Super Bowl in Las Vegas,” he offered. “This will also help UNLV recruit and upgrade the types of teams they play.”

It is expected that the UNLV football team will play at the new stadium. “Part of the state legislation requires that Sam Boyd Stadium will stop hosting events when the new stadium opens so we are going to concentrate on all our great events we currently host and make them the best we can over the next three years,” said Newcomb.

The Stadium Authority Board has to complete its work by October, according to Senate Bill One, but can extend the deadline six months until April. “As of right now the goal is to have the stadium commence construction either very late this year or in the first quarter if 2018,” said Aguero.

An official location for the stadium has not been picked, but according to Aguero, most of the discussion by the Stadium Authority Board has focused on the so-called ‘Russell 62’ site, which is west of Mandalay Bay and across the I-15. Aguero believes the land is currently owned by “a consortium of banks” and that “ultimately the land has to be purchased by the developer of the stadium and it has to be transferred to the Stadium Authority Board.”

“I like the Russell 62 lot location, it’s a great spot” said Christenson. “It’s the perfect compromise. It’s close to where everything is and has decent access to the main part of the I-15 and the roads that head directly west.”

Aside from the Raiders and UNLV football the stadium is expected to host concerts; special events like the Las Vegas Sevens Rugby Tournament; corporate events and, possibly, a Major League Soccer team. “The Southern Nevada Tours and Infrastructure committee suggests that the stadium will host about 46 events every year,” said Aguero.

The legislation calls for the Stadium Authority Board to enter into an operating agreement with a ‘stadium events company’ to run the facility. “That could be the Raiders or a partner with the Raiders,” said Aguero. “Then the Raiders, or their partner, could hire a large operating company like SMG or AEG to run the building.”

The Stadium Authority Board will meet in April to begin deliberations around the important documents such as the development agreement, the lease agreement and the joint-use agreement between UNLV and the stadium events company.

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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


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 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: 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 —

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 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

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

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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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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Elmer Randolph 'Randy' Pugh
Posted: 16 Oct 2014, 2:57 pm
Randy was employed with the City of Virginia Beach as the Operations Supervisor of the Pavilion Convention Center from 1980-1999.

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Upcoming webinars
Posted: 16 Oct 2014, 2:57 pm
These two, free webinars next week will focus on becoming a CFE and the Mentor-Connector Program.

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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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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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Yarra, Australia, creates venue soundproofing fund
Posted: 16 Oct 2014, 2:57 pm
The city house 500 venues, 50 of them live music venues.

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VenueConnect's environmental impact was minimal
Posted: 16 Oct 2014, 2:57 pm
VenueConnect's is the first conference that the Oregon Convention Center has measured the water, waste, and energy statistics.

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Ebola and the venue industry
Posted: 16 Oct 2014, 2:57 pm
IAVM is actively monitoring the impact of recent Ebola incidents. At the direction of Chair Kim Bedier, CFE ? in collaboration with our Industry Affairs Council and key IAVM staff ? an Ebola task force has been formed to work on relevant communications to the IAVM community.

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Earl R. Williams
Posted: 16 Oct 2014, 2:57 pm
Earl was employed with Kimble Glass Co. and later Ball State University as Conference Director and General Manager of Emens Auditorium.

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Watch: Hugh Jackman talks about ticketing
Posted: 16 Oct 2014, 2:57 pm
Hugh Jackman and the show's producer are making sure pricing allows anyone that wants to see his new play will not have to worry about scalpers.

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The Firestation Centre launches its neo-ticketing project
Posted: 16 Oct 2014, 2:57 pm
With its new project, the venue wants to find out if it will sell more tickets, if guests will get better deals, and if artists will earn more.

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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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New Miami convention center and hotel approved
Posted: 16 Oct 2014, 2:57 pm
The new development will be on the site of the old Miami Arena.

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The Marvel Experience lets you save the world
Posted: 16 Oct 2014, 2:57 pm
The event will incorporate augmented reality, multiperson gaming, and RFID tracking for full fan immersion.

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Shared activities make experiences more intense
Posted: 16 Oct 2014, 2:57 pm
Here?s some scientific support on the value of live experiences.

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Can a team have too much talent?
Posted: 16 Oct 2014, 2:57 pm
Yes, and here?s why having too much talent on a team is bad.

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Wesley Burtch Dickson
Posted: 16 Oct 2014, 2:57 pm
Wes founded his business, Advanced Equipment Corp., in 1957. In 1959, the business moved to Orange County, California.

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Cookie-cutter conference centers are a thing of the past
Posted: 30 Apr 2014, 8:00 pm

Today's conference centers are more about standing out than fitting in.


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Convention centers adapt to tradeshows of today
Posted: 31 Mar 2014, 8:00 pm

Modern convention centers are about experience as much as setting.


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Five U.S. convention center highlights
Posted: 31 Mar 2014, 8:00 pm

A look at major convention center projects in Green Bay,  King of Prussia, New York, San Antonio and San Diego.


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Scheduling events at Florida colleges and universities is a smart choice
Posted: 31 Mar 2014, 8:00 pm

Educational facilities throughout Florida give attendees a chance to relive the college experience.


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IACC Americas Conference Sees Attendee Uptick
Posted: 18 Mar 2014, 8:00 pm

The 2014 IACC Annual Conference reported it has attracted the most registered attendees since 2008.


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State College, Pennsylvania, is a happening, business-savvy hub
Posted: 27 Oct 2013, 8:00 pm

State College, home to Pennsylvania State University, welcomes groups with its vibrant ambiance and excellent on-campus (and off-site) facilities.


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A Q&A with Mark Cooper, new CEO of the International Association of Conference Centres
Posted: 24 Apr 2013, 8:00 pm
IACC's new CEO shares his insights on the events industry


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A quick take on recent openings and upgrades in the world of conference centers
Posted: 24 Apr 2013, 8:00 pm


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School Spirit
Posted: 17 Feb 2013, 7:00 pm
College stadiums and arenas are a classic choice for large groups


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Get Smart
Posted: 17 Feb 2013, 7:00 pm
On the fence about booking a college venue? These benefits might convince you.


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Areas of Study
Posted: 17 Feb 2013, 7:00 pm
University meetings think outside of the classroom


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............................................................ Has Moved! Here's How to Get to Our New Site
Posted: 26 Jan 2013, 4:00 pm
On Saturday, January 26, took a bold step forward in its evolution: Along with Billboard’s fully revamped magazine, newly launched iPad app and the relaunched, the all-new has exciting new features and functionalities that will allow us to lead the essential conversations around the music business and its community in better and bigger ways than ever before. But we've moved servers -- here are details on where to find us while until our migration is complete.

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A Preview of This Week's Billboard
Posted: 25 Jan 2013, 6:29 pm
Justin Bieber has granted only one major interview for the Jan. 29 release of his new album Believe Acoustic. Billboard got it. In his fourth cover story for us, Bieber opens up to editorial director Bill Werde.

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Exclusive: HSN Partners With Las Vegas' Venetian On Concert Series
Posted: 25 Jan 2013, 3:33 pm
HSN is taking its Live music division on the road with a Las Vegas residency at the Venetial Resort Hotel Casino.The series kicks off Feb. 8 with Michael Bolton, who will debut his new studio album, "Ain’t No Mountain High Enough: A Tribute to Hitsville U.S.A." with Motown greats Smokey Robinson, Valerie Simpson and Martha Reeves as well as Kelly Rowland and Melanie Fiona

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Exclusive: HSN Partners With Las Vegas' Venetian On Concert Series
Posted: 25 Jan 2013, 3:33 pm
HSN is taking its Live music division on the road with a Las Vegas residency at the Venetial Resort Hotel Casino.The series kicks off Feb. 8 with Michael Bolton, who will debut his new studio album, "Ain’t No Mountain High Enough: A Tribute to Hitsville U.S.A." with Motown greats Smokey Robinson, Valerie Simpson and Martha Reeves as well as Kelly Rowland and Melanie Fiona

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Coachella 2013 Lineup: Blur, Phoenix, Red Hot Chili Peppers Headlining
Posted: 25 Jan 2013, 12:35 am
Blur, the Stone Roses, Phoenix and Red Hot Chili Peppers top the lineup for the 2013 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, which was unveiled late on Thursday night (Jan. 24). The annual fest is set to once again take over Indio, Calif. on consecutive weekends, this year from Apr. 12-14 and Apr. 19-21.

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Ticketmaster Canada Names Patti-Anne Tarlton SVP/COO
Posted: 24 Jan 2013, 6:09 pm
Ticketmaster Canada has appointed Patti-Anne Tarlton senior VP and chief operating officer. In turn, current COO Tom Worrall will become chairman of Ticketmaster Canada.

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Exclusive: Flaming Lips to Star in Hyundai Super Bowl Commercial
Posted: 24 Jan 2013, 4:32 pm
When the Flaming Lips formed nearly 30 years ago, the notion that the group would be performing a song called "Sun Blows Up Today" in a Super Bowl ad would have been as surreal some of their lyrics. But that's exactly what will happen when the group stars in one of Hyundai's four spots during the big game,  a 60-second commercial that will feature the band on-camera performing a brand-new, custom-written song bearing that name.

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Exclusive: Flaming Lips to Star in Hyundai Super Bowl Commercial
Posted: 24 Jan 2013, 4:32 pm
When the Flaming Lips formed nearly 30 years ago, the notion that the group would be performing a song called "Sun Blows Up Today" in a Super Bowl ad would have been as surreal some of their lyrics. But that's exactly what will happen when the group stars in one of Hyundai's four spots during the big game,  a 60-second commercial that will feature the band on-camera performing a brand-new, custom-written song bearing that name.

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Pepsi, Vevo to Spotlight Best New Artists, 'X Factor' Winner Tate Stevens During Grammys
Posted: 24 Jan 2013, 12:54 pm
Pepsi has announced collaborations with Pandora and Vevo for the Grammy Awards. With Vevo, Pepsi will produce a video series based around the Best New Artists nominees; and with Pandora the company will curate a Best New Artist mixtape as well as genre stations.

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Mnet America Hosting Grammy-Week Party With K-Pop Star Ailee
Posted: 24 Jan 2013, 9:43 am
Billboard can exclusively reveal when, where and who will be at Mnet America's 1st Annual Pre-Grammy Party featuring a K-pop starlet, YouTube sensation and "The Voice" contestants.

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13 Points to Watch at MIDEM 2013
Posted: 24 Jan 2013, 8:00 am
As the world's largest trade fair for the music industry, MIDEM can be daunting to navigate. Last year's gathering drew more than 6,850 attendees from 77 countries, representing 3,120 companies, including 155 startups. So, how best to manage MIDEM?

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13 Points to Watch at MIDEM 2013
Posted: 24 Jan 2013, 8:00 am
As the world's largest trade fair for the music industry, MIDEM can be daunting to navigate. Last year's gathering drew more than 6,850 attendees from 77 countries, representing 3,120 companies, including 155 startups. So, how best to manage MIDEM?

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13 Points to Watch at MIDEM 2013
Posted: 24 Jan 2013, 8:00 am
As the world's largest trade fair for the music industry, MIDEM can be daunting to navigate. Last year's gathering drew more than 6,850 attendees from 77 countries, representing 3,120 companies, including 155 startups. So, how best to manage MIDEM?

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Downtown Sells Label to Cofounders, Focuses on Publishing
Posted: 24 Jan 2013, 7:00 am
Downtown Music LLC, the privately held parent company of Downtown Records and Downtown Music Publishing, today announced the sale of its recorded music business to cofounders Josh Deutsch and Terence Lam.

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Justin Timberlake Sets Live Return for Super Bowl Charity Show
Posted: 23 Jan 2013, 6:54 pm
Less than one month after the singer-turned-actor exploded back onto the music scene with "Suit & Tie," featuring Jay-Z, Timberlake will perform his first solo concert in several years during Super Bowl weekend.

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Black Keys File Third Lawsuit Against 'Soundalikes' in TV Commercials
Posted: 23 Jan 2013, 6:50 pm
After settling two lawsuits with Pizza Hut and Home Depot in December over alleged use of its songs in commercials, the Black Keys have filed a third lawsuit -- this time, against Pinnacle Entertainment, which runs casinos throughout the United States, and Manhattan Production Music, a company that creates music for commercial advertising.

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Exclusive: Verizon Teams With Jill Scott for Black History Month Campaign
Posted: 23 Jan 2013, 6:24 pm
Verizon has teamed with Jill Scott for a multi-tiered print, TV and online advertising campaign to coincide with Black History Month, a rare artist endorsement deal for both parties, Billboard has learned.

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Madonna's 'MDNA' Tour Makes Billboard Boxscore's All-Time Top 10
Posted: 23 Jan 2013, 6:05 pm
The globe-trotting "MDNA" tour marks Madonna's ascent into the elite ranks of touring acts -- and makes her the top touring female artist of all time.

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Ultra Music and Sony Announce Partnership, Patrick Moxey Named President of Electronic Music
Posted: 23 Jan 2013, 3:48 pm
Sony Music and Ultra Music -- the electronic/dance record label, publishing house, management company and media platform owned and operated by Patrick Moxey -- have announced a globe-spanning strategic partnership between the two companies. As part of the deal Moxey was named president of electronic music for Sony Music Worldwide.

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Ultra Music and Sony Announce Partnership, Patrick Moxey Named President of Electronic Music
Posted: 23 Jan 2013, 3:48 pm
Sony Music and Ultra Music -- the electronic/dance record label, publishing house, management company and media platform owned and operated by Patrick Moxey -- have announced a globe-spanning strategic partnership between the two companies. As part of the deal Moxey was named president of electronic music for Sony Music Worldwide.

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Searching For The Next 'Sugar Man'? Try 'Twenty Feet From Stardom'
Posted: 23 Jan 2013, 1:30 pm
This year's Sundance had a half-dozen music-driven docs, including: Dave Grohl's "Sound City," "History of the Eagles, Part One," "Pussy Riot -- A Punk Prayer," "Narco Culturo" and "Mussel Shoals" -- all fine films. But the power of Morgan Neville's "Twenty Feet From Stardom," a story chronicling of the lives of background singers who sang on era-defining records from the 1960s into the 1990s, is such that it transcends the typical music documentary ecliciting gasps of disbelief, spontaneous applause and tears. It's a winner.

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Exclusive: SFX Acquires ID&T, Voodoo Experience
Posted: 23 Jan 2013, 8:05 am
SFX Entertainment has added five new companies to its portfolio, including Voodoo Experience and ID&T -- the largest dance-event promoter in the world -- according to its president Robert F.X. Sillerman. While recent chatter has hinted that Insomniac Events, the producer of Electric Daisy Carnival, would imminently announce a sale to Sillerman, the ID&T news might make that less likely -- although Sillerman didn't rule it out...

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Building the $100 Billion Dollar Music Business: Guest Post by Tom Silverman
Posted: 23 Jan 2013, 8:00 am
In this guest post, New Music Seminar/Tommy Boy Entertainment founder Tom Silverman describes how we can grow the music business into one that reaches $100 billion in annual retail revenue in the next decade.

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Three Directors Step Down at Sirius XM Radio as Liberty Media Takes Control
Posted: 22 Jan 2013, 4:50 pm
Leon Black, Lawrence Gilberti and Jack Shaw resign from the board of the satellite firm.  

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Billboard's New iPad App: Try It Now for Free!
Posted: 22 Jan 2013, 3:59 pm
Along with our fully revamped glossy magazine, which we unveiled today, Billboard has also introduced the new iPad edition of Billboard -- the complete weekly magazine reinvented for your iPad with interactive extras. Subscribe today to experience this week’s issue absolutely for free!

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Exclusive: Lionel Richie Signs With Red Light Management
Posted: 22 Jan 2013, 3:08 pm
Legendary hit maker Lionel Richie has signed with Red Light Management for representation, has learned. This is the second major signing of the young year for RLM, which recently added Tiesto to its growing list of clients.

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Exclusive: Lionel Richie Signs With Red Light Management
Posted: 22 Jan 2013, 3:08 pm
Legendary hit maker Lionel Richie has signed with Red Light Management for representation, has learned. This is the second major signing of the young year for RLM, which recently added Tiesto to its growing list of clients.

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Exclusive: Kobalt Launches Label Services Division, Preps New Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds Release
Posted: 22 Jan 2013, 2:07 pm
Not only did Kobalt sign a deal with Dave Grohl this week ( the company is also formally introducing a new Label Services division that will handle digital and physical releases for independent artists as well as Kobalt clients. Though the division has quietly released several albums in recent months, it will gain major attention next month with the release of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds’ “Push the Sky Away,” due out Feb. 18 through Kobalt Label Services  and Cave’s Bad Seed Ltd.

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Clive Davis To Speak At SXSW
Posted: 22 Jan 2013, 12:34 pm
Clive Davis will speak at South by Southwest (SXSW) Music and Media Conference and Festival on Thursday March 14, the festival announced today. His speech comes shortly after the release of his new autobiography “The Soundtrack of My Life.”

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Live Nation Strikes Deal to Host Concerts at London Olympic Stadium
Posted: 22 Jan 2013, 11:00 am
Live events giant Live Nation has struck a deal that gives it exclusive rights to organize concerts and music festivals in the British capital's Olympic Park and Olympic Stadium this summer.

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Two Voices of the Rolling Stones Meet for the First Time at Sundance Screening
Posted: 22 Jan 2013, 10:32 am
Lisa Fischer has sung female lead parts for the Rolling Stones on every tour since 1989, but it wasn't until film director Morgan Neville assembled a meeting of backup singers at Sundance that Fischer and Merry Clayton, a crucial vocalist in the music of Mick Jagger and the boys, would be in the same room together.

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Welcome to the New Billboard
Posted: 21 Jan 2013, 7:00 pm
The Jan. 26 edition of Billboard features a cover-story interview with Prince, but that world exclusive is accompanied by something else: A whole new magazine. This week, Billboard relaunches, and from the new logo on the front cover to the information packed graphic on the back page, the magazine is dedicated to the delivery of business journalism that leads and informs the essential conversations around the music and businesses it covers.

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Beyonce, Kelly Clarkson Add Soaring Voices to Obama's Inauguration
Posted: 21 Jan 2013, 4:22 pm
The inauguration of the President of the United States is a celebrated event indeed, even if it's effectively the follow-up to what was a landmark occasion four years ago. But if there's anyone who can bring the (white) house down, it's one of America's most beloved singing ladies, the first "American Idol," a songwriting legend and a showstopping choir.

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Warner Music, NMPA Reach Agreement on Royalty Rate for Music Videos
Posted: 21 Jan 2013, 2:43 pm
The Warner Music Group has become the second major label to agree to pay songwriters and publishers a royalty from revenue they derive from music videos, in a deal negotiated by the National Music Publishers' Association.

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Tim Leiweke on AEG Sale: 'We're Getting Down to the Final Straws'
Posted: 21 Jan 2013, 2:42 pm
The sale of Anschutz Entertainment Group is “taking longer” than expected, AEG CEO, Tim Leiweke told, but not due to lack of interest. While Leiweke declined to mention who the serious bidders were, he did indicate that the field has narrowed.  “We’re getting down to the final straws here,” he said.

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Tim Leiweke on AEG Sale: 'We're Getting Down to the Final Straws'
Posted: 21 Jan 2013, 2:42 pm
The sale of Anschutz Entertainment Group is “taking longer” than expected, AEG CEO, Tim Leiweke told, but not due to lack of interest. While Leiweke declined to mention who the serious bidders were, he did indicate that the field has narrowed.  “We’re getting down to the final straws here,” he said.

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'Pussy Riot - A Punk Prayer,' 'Twenty Feet From Stardom' Sell At Sundance
Posted: 21 Jan 2013, 6:17 am
Add “Pussy Riot — A Punk Prayer” to the growing music-centric documentaries sold at the Sundance Film Festival. HBO Docs acquired U.S. TV rights to the political documentary that received its world premiere Jan. 18. "Twenty Feet From Stardom," which tells the stories of several prominent backup singers, sold on Thursday to Radius and the Weinstein Co.

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Kim Dotcom Launches Mega, New File-Sharing Service
Posted: 19 Jan 2013, 4:09 pm
Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom has unveiled a new file-sharing website called Mega. "As of this minute one year ago #Megaupload was destroyed by the US Government," Dotcom tweeted on Saturday, along with a link to the new site.

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Dave Grohl's Sound City Players Tear It Up at Sundance
Posted: 19 Jan 2013, 2:05 pm
Hours after his "Sound City" documentary premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, Dave Grohl took 800 fans on a three-hour musical odyssey at Park City Live that emphasized his personal connection to the Van Nuys, Calif., recording studio his film chronicles.

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Obama Inauguration Music Guide: Katy Perry to Q-Tip
Posted: 19 Jan 2013, 1:41 pm
Just as Barack Obama's 2009 inauguration drew stars from Beyonce to Aretha Franklin, the president's re-election has led to another can't-miss week for music fans. We've hiked through Capital Hill's extensive inauguration schedule to bring you a list of the week's biggest balls.

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Sony/ATV's Martin Bandier on New, 'Quite Reasonable' Pandora Deal
Posted: 18 Jan 2013, 7:00 pm
Sony/ATV pulled a major coup earlier this week by negotiating a higher royalty rate from Pandora. Chairman/CEO Martin Bandier spoke with about the deal.

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Backbeat: The Surreal APAP Convention Hall: From Tibetan Monks to Lez Zeppelin, Branson On the Road to Slask
Posted: 18 Jan 2013, 6:00 pm
In many regards the convention hall at the annual Association of Performing Arts Presenters in New York CIty resembles nothing so much as a Fellini film. Here, Tibetan Monks, Polish folk dancers, Lez Zeppelin and, of course, a golden praying mantis, all man booths before thousands of curators, agents, and promoters from across the country who trod the Hilton New York's carpeted aisles looking to book their 2014-2015 seasons.

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Six Music-Related Issues Facing This Administration and Congress
Posted: 18 Jan 2013, 4:45 pm
From performance royalties to deciding how musicians travel with their instruments on airplanes, numerous issues central to the music industry are alive Washington D.C. as the city prepares for the president inauguration on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

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Six Music-Related Issues Facing This Administration and Congress
Posted: 18 Jan 2013, 4:45 pm
From performance royalties to deciding how musicians travel with their instruments on airplanes, numerous issues central to the music industry are alive Washington D.C. as the city prepares for the president inauguration on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

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Prince to Be Honored at Billboard Music Awards on May 19
Posted: 18 Jan 2013, 4:00 pm
The 2013 Billboard Music Awards are returning to Las Vegas on Sunday, May 19 and will honor the legendary artist Prince during a live ABC broadcast from the MGM Grand Garden Arena.

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Beyonce, Katy Perry, More Head to D.C. for Packed Slate of Obama Inauguration Events
Posted: 18 Jan 2013, 12:58 pm
Kelly Clarkson is a multiple nominee at next month's Grammy Awards, but what she's really excited about is another event where she'll be joined by Beyonce, Katy Perry, Stevie Wonder, Alicia Keys, Usher and Brad Paisley. Oh, and the president.

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CD Baby Parent Company AVL Digital Group Sold
Posted: 18 Jan 2013, 10:44 am
AVL Digital Group -- the parent company of CD Baby, Disc Makers and other self-publishing platforms -- has been sold to Stephens Capital Partners, a private equity group based in Little Rock, Arkansas, has learned.

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NARM Names Muve Music's Jeff Toig, Dimple Records' Dilyn Radakovitz to Board
Posted: 18 Jan 2013, 10:34 am
Muve Music senior VP Jeff Toig and Dimple Records founder and owner Dilyn Radakovitz have joined the board of directors of both NARM, the music business trade association, and, its digital initiatives arm.

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Run DMC's Darryl McDaniels Presenting 'Garden of Laughs' Benefit Comedy Showcase
Posted: 18 Jan 2013, 10:13 am
At the height of his lowest point, Run DMC's Darryl McDaniels says he considered suicide. Before leaving the world, however, he wanted to publish an autobiography, his life story beyond music; a conversation with his mother shortly thereafter revealed more information than he had bargained for.

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Backbeat: Carrie Underwood Celebrates No. 1 With 'Blown Away' Co-Writers Josh Kear and Chris Tompkins
Posted: 17 Jan 2013, 4:46 pm
Carrie Underwood joined Josh Kear and Chris Tompkins, the two songwriters who penned "Blown Away," at the CMA offices on Wednesday to celebrate their song hitting the top of the charts.

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Elizabeth Sobol Named Decca Label Group President and CEO
Posted: 17 Jan 2013, 12:15 pm
Elizabeth Sobol, current managing director at IMG Artists North America, has been named Decca Label Group's president and CEO. Sobol will report to Universal Music Group International's chairman and CEO Max Hole, who was promoted to that position last week.

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HMV Shutters Irish Operations, Appoints Receivers as Staff Stages Sit-In
Posted: 17 Jan 2013, 11:45 am
Staff at two HMV stores in Ireland have staged sit-in protests to secure their wages following the closure of the company’s 16 Irish stores, according to reports. HMV’s Irish operations were placed into receivership 24 hours after the British music retailer HMV confirmed it was suspending the trading of its shares and entering administration, the U.K. equivalent of Chapter 11.

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Andre Rieu, Bieber's 'Believe' Tour Top Hot Tours Chart
Posted: 17 Jan 2013, 10:50 am
Classical music dominates this week's Hot Tours report with Dutch violinist and conductor André Rieu earning the No. 1 ranking, followed by Justin Bieber's Believe Tour return and Phish's sold-out show at Madison Square Garden.

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Dave Grohl, Avicii and Afrojack: A Promoter's Approach to Booking Music at Sundance
Posted: 17 Jan 2013, 10:31 am
Park City Live is the only regularly operating nightclub in Park City, Utah, home of the Sundance Film Festival running Jan. 17-27, which will enter its second year of operation as a concert venue the day the festival begins. Here, Park City Live CEO Kathryn Burns talks about her first year promoting the venue.

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Dave Grohl, Avicii and Afrojack: A Promoter's Approach to Booking Music at Sundance
Posted: 17 Jan 2013, 10:31 am
Park City Live is the only regularly operating nightclub in Park City, Utah, home of the Sundance Film Festival running Jan. 17-27, which will enter its second year of operation as a concert venue the day the festival begins. Here, Park City Live CEO Kathryn Burns talks about her first year promoting the venue.

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Dave Grohl, Avicii and Afrojack: A Promoter's Approach to Booking Music at Sundance
Posted: 17 Jan 2013, 10:31 am
Park City Live is the only regularly operating nightclub in Park City, Utah, home of the Sundance Film Festival running Jan. 17-27, which will enter its second year of operation as a concert venue the day the festival begins. Here, Park City Live CEO Kathryn Burns talks about her first year promoting the venue.

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Ticketfly Expands Into Canada
Posted: 17 Jan 2013, 10:00 am
Ticketfly announced Thursday it has expanded into Canada by signing two of the country's top promoters, acquiring Prime Box Office ticketing company and securing some promoters and venues.

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Sony/ATV Negotiates 25% Royalty Increase From Pandora: Report
Posted: 17 Jan 2013, 8:01 am
The newly combined Sony/ATV-EMI music publishing powerhouse has used its market clout to negotiate a 25% royalty increase from Pandora, according to a report in the New York Post. The deal is said to run for the next 12 months.

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Mark Poston, EMI Australia Chairman, Steps Down
Posted: 16 Jan 2013, 9:38 pm
Mark Poston, EMI Australia’s chairman, is out as Universal Music continues its global integration of EMI. According to Universal Music, Poston “decided to step down” from his current position as chairman and senior VP marketing, Australasia at EMI Music Australia. UMA's president George Ash will oversee EMI Australasia until a replacement is announced.

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Business Matters: How Facebook Search Could Provide Cheap Market Research for Music Marketers
Posted: 16 Jan 2013, 8:13 pm
Facebook’s Graph Search doesn’t have a lot of obvious music uses but could end up being a free and useful tool for music marketers. As the Inside Facebook blog points out, the search tool provides an opportunity for businesses to conduct market research about specific groups of fans for free.

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LyricFind Partners with Gracenote, Gets Investment from Larry Marcus
Posted: 16 Jan 2013, 4:40 pm
LyricFind will now power all of Gracenote's lyric services as part of their new partnership, while BandPage director Larry Marcus will be providing his experience, and a personal investment, to the company.

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SoundExchange Distributions Grew 58% to $462 Million in 2012
Posted: 16 Jan 2013, 2:21 pm
SoundExchange distributed $462 million in digital performing royalties in 2012, a 58% increase over 2011, the organization announced Wednesday

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Lucian Grainge, Michael Lynton, to Co-Host Inaugural Innovation Summit
Posted: 16 Jan 2013, 1:30 pm
Innovation Forum, an inaugural summit of business leaders from the U.S. and U.K., will come together Feb. 4-5 in Los Angeles, kicking off 2013 Grammy week. UMG Chairman & CEO Lucian Grainge, Sony Ent. CEO Michael Lynton, Ari Emanuel, co-CEO of WME, and musician will co-host the event co-sponsored by the Founder's Forum and UK Trade & Investment.

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Sony Music Boosts Digital Team With Ole Obermann and Mark Piibe
Posted: 16 Jan 2013, 10:29 am
In a statement today from Sony Music Entertainment's president of global digital business and U.S. sales Dennis Kooker, the company announced the creation and appointment of two new, digitally focused positions; current Sony Music executive Ole Obermann has been named executive vice president, digital partner development and sales, while Mark Piibe will be leaving EMI to take on the role of executive vice president, global business development and digital strategy.

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Next Big Sound's 2012 State of Online Music
Posted: 15 Jan 2013, 6:29 pm
Next Big Sound, the data analytics company, has released their 2012 State of Online Music report. Below is an outline of the report's key takeaways by Big Sound's data journalist Liv Buli.  

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Business Matters: Relaunched Myspace Is a Success as Music Service -- But As a Social Network? We'll See ...
Posted: 15 Jan 2013, 5:35 pm
The redesigned Myspace finally opened up to the public today. The site, a year and a half in the works, is both a social network and a music discovery destination.

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Justin Timberlake's 'Suit & Tie' Aiming for First-Week Sales of 350,000
Posted: 15 Jan 2013, 4:44 pm
As reported yesterday (Jan. 14), Justin Timberlake's new single "Suit & Tie" is selling briskly and bound for a big first-week sales figure; label sources suggest that "Suit & Tie" may sell around 330,000 - 350,000 downloads by the end of the tracking week on Sunday, Jan. 20.

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Arts & Crafts Label Announces Ten-Year Anniversary Events
Posted: 15 Jan 2013, 2:16 pm
Toronto indie label Arts & Crafts, which helped spawn the careers of Feist and Broken Social Scene among others, is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year with AC10, a series of events, releases and collaborations in music, fashion, photography and literature.

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Facebook Unveils Social Search Feature
Posted: 15 Jan 2013, 1:50 pm
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has unveiled a new search feature on the world's biggest online social network. Called "graph search," the new service lets users search their social connections for information about people, interests, photos and places.

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Universal Music France President Pascal Negre Named UMG's Global Head of New Business
Posted: 15 Jan 2013, 12:15 pm
Pascal Nègre, president at Universal Music France, Italy, Middle East and Africa, has been promoted to UMG's global head of new business, according to a press release.

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Billboard's Parent Company Names Ross Levinsohn CEO
Posted: 15 Jan 2013, 10:41 am
Billboard's parent company has a new leader: Former Yahoo and Fox Interactive Media executive Ross Levinsohn.

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Morning Fix: UMJ's Koike to Head EMI Japan; Justin Timberlake Single's Fast Start; Facebook's Mystery Announcement
Posted: 15 Jan 2013, 8:30 am
In today's Fix: Universal Music Japan CEO Kazuhiko Koike to head up EMI Japan; Justin Timberlake's long-awaited single "Suit and Tie" gets off to a fast start; today's Facebook mystery announcement; UK's HMV facing bankruptcy; Rolling Stones lead Hot Tours; Greg Sandoval leaving CNET; Arts & Crafts' tenth anniversary; Country Music Association is going to Disneyland Paris; and way more than you could ever fit into the world's largest bagel.  

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Universal Music Japan's Kazuhiko Koike To Head EMI Japan
Posted: 15 Jan 2013, 8:07 am
Universal Music Japan today announced that its President and CEO Kazuhiko Koike will assume on the role of president/CEO of EMI Music Japan as well, replacing longtime CEO Hitoshi Namekata.

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Warner Music Sued for Millions by George Gershwin Heirs
Posted: 14 Jan 2013, 8:39 pm
A new lawsuit objects to the way that the music giant has licensed famous compositions and booked revenue.

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Greg Sandoval, Senior CNET Writer, Resigns Over CBS Controversy
Posted: 14 Jan 2013, 12:39 pm
CNET editor Greg Sandoval told Twitter earlier today that he's quitting the venerable tech news site over parent company CBS's apparent demand that the publication drop Dish Network's ad-skipping Hopper feature from consideration for its "Best of CES" awards.

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Indie Band Love in the Circus Explores 3D Imaging at CES
Posted: 14 Jan 2013, 12:14 pm
Music can be as much about the visuals as it is about the sound. Among the more intriguing demonstrations of this at this year's Consumer Electronics Show was a video display in the Sony booth from an independent band called Love in the Circus; the Los Angeles based band used projection imaging to create a live stage that evokes a Cirque du Soleil-esque setting, wrapping custom animations around a physical stage set.

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Indie Band Love in the Circus Explores 3D Imaging at CES
Posted: 14 Jan 2013, 12:14 pm
Music can be as much about the visuals as it is about the sound. Among the more intriguing demonstrations of this at this year's Consumer Electronics Show was a video display in the Sony booth from an independent band called Love in the Circus; the Los Angeles based band used projection imaging to create a live stage that evokes a Cirque du Soleil-esque setting, wrapping custom animations around a physical stage set.

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Pop Leads U.K. Album Sales for Second Year Running
Posted: 14 Jan 2013, 10:29 am
Big-selling albums from Emeli Sandé, Adele, Ed Sheeran and One Direction ensured that pop remained the most-popular genre in the United Kingdom in 2012, according to new figures released by the Official Charts Company (OCC) and British labels trade body the BPI.

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Rolling Stones Lead Hot Tours with '50' Shows
Posted: 14 Jan 2013, 10:05 am
Rock legends the Rolling Stones stand at the top of Hot Tours this week with ticket sales reaching $38.6 million from the 50 and Counting Tour, while Nickelback, Jennifer Lopez and Elton John reach the top ten on the strength of their Australian tours.

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Rolling Stones Lead Hot Tours with '50' Shows
Posted: 14 Jan 2013, 10:05 am
Rock legends the Rolling Stones stand at the top of Hot Tours this week with ticket sales reaching $38.6 million from the 50 and Counting Tour, while Nickelback, Jennifer Lopez and Elton John reach the top ten on the strength of their Australian tours.

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Virtual Visionaries
Posted: 25 Nov 2012, 7:00 pm
Emilie Barta and John Pollard aim to take the fear out of planning hybrid events


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All in the Planning
Posted: 11 Jul 2012, 8:00 pm


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Take 10 - Conference Centers
Posted: 11 Jun 2012, 8:00 pm
Take 10 - Conference Centers


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Convention Center Contacts
Posted: 7 Jun 2012, 8:00 pm


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New School
Posted: 30 Apr 2012, 8:00 pm


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Final Bow
Posted: 28 Mar 2012, 8:00 pm


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IACC Makes Global Push; Criteria to 'Evolve'
Posted: 21 Mar 2012, 8:00 pm


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Convention Center Coming to Provo
Posted: 25 Jan 2012, 7:00 pm


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Gambling Headed for Hawaii Conv. Center?
Posted: 24 Jan 2012, 7:00 pm


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Las Vegas Conv. Center Adds Digital Signage Feature
Posted: 24 Jan 2012, 7:00 pm


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A Duo of Conv. Centers Launches Free Wi-Fi
Posted: 23 Jan 2012, 7:00 pm


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Anaheim Conv. Center Plans Expansion
Posted: 23 Jan 2012, 7:00 pm


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IACC Board Sets New Service Standards
Posted: 30 Nov 2011, 7:00 pm


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APEC Under Way in Honolulu
Posted: 8 Nov 2011, 7:00 pm


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Beyond the Box
Posted: 24 Oct 2011, 8:00 pm
Expanding convention centers are addressing new planner expectations


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Association Meetings 3.0
Posted: 16 Sep 2011, 5:10 pm
What does the association meeting of tomorrow look like and how can you prepare to provide your members with the type of meetings they need? A presenter at ASAE's 2011 Annual Meeting & Expo provides her expert glimpse into the future.

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Rethinking Sponsorships in the Age of Social Media
Posted: 16 Sep 2011, 4:56 pm
Technology is changing our lives in seemingly countless ways, including association event sponsorships. Find out what a leading event software expert believes are the best ways to make the most of sponsorships in the age of social media.

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What You Need to Know About Simultaneous Interpretation
Posted: 16 Sep 2011, 4:54 pm
As more associations venture overseas, simultaneous interpretation is more important than ever. Two experts who have conducted events around the globe share their insights.

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Reduce Expenses for Meetings of Any Size
Posted: 16 Sep 2011, 4:51 pm
Even the largest associations sometimes have meetings that don't represent a lot of room nights, which can reduce your ability to negotiate with the host hotel. Here are nine tips to help you get the best deal for your next meeting, no matter how many attendees you have.

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Strategic Meeting Planning
Posted: 6 Jul 2011, 11:00 am
We use strategic planning in our everyday lives but often get too caught up in all the details to apply it effectively during the meeting planning process. Discover how to be truly strategic the next time you're planning an important meeting.

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New Models for Successful Convention Strategy
Posted: 6 Jul 2011, 10:56 am
There's more to meetings than good content and a nice location. An ASAE Fellow and association business strategy consultant shares his views on factors such as information needs, competing resources, and strategic barriers that impact attendance at association conventions and tradeshows.

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Post-Recession Economy Requires New Guidelines for Association Events
Posted: 6 Jul 2011, 10:53 am
Association events are making a comeback following the deep recession, but everyone remains sensitive to appearing too extravagant and expensive. Here's a process for determining what's appropriate for your next events.

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Increase Exhibitor Engagement Without Increasing Your Budget
Posted: 6 Jul 2011, 10:49 am
Every association tradeshow is under pressure to increase traffic, but at what cost? Follow these strategies for increasing traffic and enhancing exhibitor loyalty without busting your budget.

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Letter From the Chair: ME Section Contributes to "199 Ideas" for Planners
Posted: 6 Jul 2011, 10:47 am
The Meetings & Expositions Section Council chair discusses the debut of an exciting new resource for association planners, provides a glimpse of the upcoming Annual Meeting & Exposition, and lends his perspective on the value of associations to society.

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Tips to Make Transportation at Your Conference Greener
Posted: 9 May 2011, 10:09 am
Greening meetings has come a long way in recent years, but you can take it to the next level with a little strategy and a lot of enthusiasm. Learn how to get your group actively involved in being a deeper shade of green.

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University Venues
Posted: 30 Apr 2011, 8:00 pm
Collegiate athletic venues are ideal for team building and spectator fun


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Convention Centers
Posted: 28 Feb 2011, 7:00 pm
Beyond the Box


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Conference Center Changes
Posted: 31 Dec 2010, 7:00 pm
Conference Center Changes


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Conference Centers
Posted: 31 Dec 2010, 7:00 pm
With mounting competition, conference centers get flexible


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On Location - Convention Centers
Posted: 31 May 2010, 8:00 pm


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University Venues
Posted: 30 Apr 2010, 8:00 pm
Campus Culture


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Conference Centers
Posted: 31 Mar 2010, 8:00 pm

After a tough year, conference centers see better times ahead


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Convention Centers
Posted: 28 Feb 2010, 7:00 pm

Convention center cuisine is no longer an oxymoron


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Convention Centers
Posted: 28 Feb 2010, 7:00 pm
Convention center cuisine is no longer an oxymoron


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University Venues
Posted: 28 Feb 2010, 7:00 pm

Universities offer an exciting range of museum venues


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Dancing with Gorillas
Posted: 31 Oct 2009, 8:00 pm
Convention center contracts put meeting planners' negotiating skills to the test


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A Class Act
Posted: 30 Apr 2009, 8:00 pm


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University Venues
Posted: 28 Feb 2009, 7:00 pm


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Conference Centers
Posted: 31 Jan 2009, 7:00 pm


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Conference Centers
Posted: 31 Jan 2009, 7:00 pm


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Conference Centers
Posted: 31 Jan 2009, 7:00 pm
Conference Call


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Conference Call
Posted: 31 Dec 2008, 7:00 pm


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Center Stage
Posted: 31 Oct 2008, 8:00 pm


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Global Challenge
Posted: 31 Jul 2008, 8:00 pm


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Global Challenge
Posted: 30 Jun 2008, 8:00 pm


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Center Stage
Posted: 31 May 2008, 8:00 pm


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Head of the Class
Posted: 30 Apr 2008, 8:00 pm


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Center Stage
Posted: 31 Mar 2008, 8:00 pm


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Center Stage
Posted: 29 Feb 2008, 7:00 pm


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Raising the Bar
Posted: 31 Jan 2008, 7:00 pm


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Raising the Bar
Posted: 31 Jan 2008, 7:00 pm


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Raising the Bar
Posted: 31 Dec 2007, 7:00 pm


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Better by Design
Posted: 31 Oct 2007, 8:00 pm


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