News

 
Remy Ma Beats Nicki Minaj At BET Awards
 
Posted: 26 Jun 2017, 8:21 am
Remy Ma has ended rival Nicki Minaj?s seven-year winning streak at the 2017 BET Awards, a show highlighted by ?90s R&B and groups popular in that decade, as well as five wins for Beyoncé.

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Van Halen Makes Own Name In Track
 
Posted: 24 Jun 2017, 9:03 am
His favorite song is ?Hot for Teacher.? His go-to selection on karaoke nights happens to be ?Panama .?

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Say Hello To Goodbye June
 
Posted: 23 Jun 2017, 9:51 pm
The guys from Goodbye June chat with Pollstar about how the music scene in Nashville strengthened the band, touring with ZZ Top, and putting on a ?classic rock ?n? roll show.?

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Depp’s ‘Assassin’ Comments The Latest In Celebrity Anger
 
Posted: 23 Jun 2017, 7:23 pm
Johnny Depp apologized Friday for joking about assassinating Donald Trump during an appearance at a large festival in Britain, the latest example of artists using violent imagery when dealing with the president.

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EAMC Conference Celebrates Marketing
 
Posted: 23 Jun 2017, 6:32 pm
The third annual Event and Arena Marketing conference held its awards ceremony June 20 in Tulsa, Okla.

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Odds & Ends: KISS, Glastonbury Legos, Elon Musk
 
Posted: 23 Jun 2017, 6:26 pm
 Gene Simmons tries to trademark the ?devil horns? hand gesture, Legoland re-creates Glastonbury, Tesla contemplates own streaming service, ... 

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Lionel Richie & Mariah Carey Tour “Camp City”
 
Posted: 23 Jun 2017, 6:07 pm
Lionel Richie is welcoming full diva behavior from Mariah Carey when she joins his ?All the Hits? tour next month.

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Liam Gallagher Headed To North America
 
Posted: 23 Jun 2017, 4:20 pm
In addition to announcing a release date for his debut solo album, Liam Gallagher has unveiled the routing for its first-ever North American solo tour.

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Nasdaq Delists Sillerman Company
 
Posted: 23 Jun 2017, 4:03 pm
Robert Sillerman?s latest company Function (x) was delisted from the Nasdaq June 22. 

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Kid Rock Fries Up Another One
 
Posted: 23 Jun 2017, 2:47 pm
Fried fish, music, and all the party antics you could hope for await you as Kid Rock holds his third annual Fish Fry.

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German Festivals: One Threatened, One Banned
 
Posted: 23 Jun 2017, 1:47 pm
Hurricane Festival Declares Its Love To Fans, Fans Forced To Leave Second Horizon, ... 

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Reviews: Lionel Richie, Twenty One Pilots, Iron Maiden, Sigur Ros, LeAnn Rimes
 
Posted: 23 Jun 2017, 12:53 pm
Check out these critical reviews of live shows by Lionel Richie in St. Paul, Minn.; Twenty One Pilots in Columbus, Ohio; Iron Maiden in Houston; Sigur Ros in Pittsburgh; and LeAnn Rimes in Buffalo, N.Y.

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Billy Joel To Speak At Hometown Graduation
 
Posted: 23 Jun 2017, 8:25 am
Fifty years after he finished short by one English class credit from graduating high school, Billy Joel is returning to his Long Island hometown to speak at this weekend?s commencement ceremony.

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Depp Asks About Assassinating President
 
Posted: 23 Jun 2017, 8:22 am
Johnny Depp has asked a crowd at the Glastonbury Festival when was the last time an actor assassinated a president. The remarks came during a segment Thursday in which Depp was speaking about President Donald Trump.

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O.A.R. Shares ‘stOARies’
 
Posted: 22 Jun 2017, 9:30 pm
O.A.R. announced dates this week for a fall outing through the Northeastern region and the Midwest that the alternative rock band is calling ?The stOARies Tour.?  

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Sabrina Carpenter
 
Posted: 22 Jun 2017, 9:18 pm
Sabrina Carpenter?s recent song ?Thumbs? was approaching 40 million views on YouTube at press time. Carpenter, whose acting career includes Disney Channel?s ?Girl Meets World? and Fox?s ?The Goodwin Games,? is following a path more in sync with Ariana Grande. In fact, she was on her way to South America to join Grande on some dates as this article went to press.

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Hard Working Americans Plots Fall Tour
 
Posted: 22 Jun 2017, 7:04 pm
Todd Snider and the rest of the Hard Working Americans super group crew have some road work ahead of them. The fall tour routing includes a few gigs supporting Tedeschi Trucks Band.

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VenuesNow Announces Speakers
 
Posted: 22 Jun 2017, 7:00 pm

VenuesNow has announced the A-list speakers at its inaugural conference, July 12-14,to be held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, Beverly Hills, Calif. 

A veritable “who’s who” of the most influential and visionary executives of the sports and live entertainment industry will speak at the inaugural VenuesNow conference, set for July 12-14 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Los Angeles.

Produced by Oak View Group, VenuesNow is game-changing, forward-looking gathering for the sports, entertainment and venue industry geared toward recognizing and inspiring innovation in the dynamic live event space through candid discussion of the challenges and opportunities the industry is currently facing. Set up to coincide with ESPN’s annual ESPY awards on July 12, VenuesNow 2017 is an invitation-only event (with open registration beginning in 2018), to be attended by executives from all major sports leagues, live entertainment firms, arenas, stadiums, and other venues hosting live events (including OVG’s Arena Alliance group of major market arenas across the country, which attract some 70 million fans per year), and the wide range of businesses that serve the industry.

“The concept of VenuesNow is to host a conference like no other in our space, an elite forum focusing on the epicenter of where sports and live entertainment events and fans converge: the venue,” said Ray Waddell, president, Publications & Conferences, for OVG, who is spearheading programming for VenuesNow. “Out of the gate, we have a heavy emphasis on technology, security, branding and sponsorships, fan engagement, and live music, along with concessions, ticketing, operations; basically innovation and positive disruption at all levels in the venue space.”

The speakers booked for the first VenuesNow reflect that focus. Confirmed to speak are heavy hitters from the entertainment world, including mega-managers Irving Azoff and Red Light Management founder Coran Capshaw, KISS manager Doc McGhee, Metallica agent Adam Kornfeld, Artist Group International; Rob Beckham, William Morris Endeavor Entertainment co-head of the Nashville office; Live Nation Global Touring COO Gerry Barad, and live legend Louis Messina, president of Messina Touring Group.  Taking on issues in the ticketing world will be Jared Smith, president, North America, Ticketmaster, and Scott Cutler, president, StubHub.

Technological advances in the world of venues, sports and entertainment, is a priority for VenuesNow, and the conference has booked a wealth of speakers to address a range of topics in that realm, including streaming, virtual reality, e-sports, and new tech in security, ticketing, concessions, and venue operations. On board are Jed Corenthal, CMO, PhoenixP2P; Chris Wagner, EVP, Marketplace Strategy, Neulion; Brad Allen, executive chairman, NextVR; Tobias Sherman, head of e-sports, WME/IMG; Paul Ward, CEO, e-Sports Arenas, Rick Fox, founder of e-sports powerhouse Echo Fox; and Stratton Sclavos, founding partner (with Fox) in Vision Venture Partners.

From the branding/sponsorship world, VenuesNow has confirmed Justin Toman, director of Sports Marketing, Pepsi; Mark Irace, chief Marketing officer, FanDuel, Joe Belliotti, head of Global Music Marketing, Coca-Cola, and Marcie Allen, president, MAC Presents. Other confirmed speakers include Tim Romani, CEO, ICON Venue Group; Bruce Miller, senior principle, Populous; Al Guido, president, San Francisco 49ers; and Dan Berkowitz, founder/CEO, CID Entertainment, among many other industry leaders.
 


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Cosby Planning Speaking Tour
 
Posted: 22 Jun 2017, 6:42 pm
Representatives for Bill and Camille Cosby appeared on a local television station this morning and announced that the comedian will hold a number of town hall gatherings to address the issue of sexual assault allegations.

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Summer Of Love: Down But Not Out
 
Posted: 22 Jun 2017, 6:35 pm
The Summer of Love seems not to be aging well if the war of words between the City of San Francisco?s Recreation and Parks Department and event producer Boots Hughston is any indication.

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Brooks To Play 1st Mercedes-Benz Stadium Concert 
 
Posted: 22 Jun 2017, 5:00 pm

Garth Brooks will play the first-ever concert at Atlanta's new Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

Minutes ago, Garth Brooks announced on his Facebook page that he will play the first-ever concert at Atlanta’s new Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Oct. 12. Tickets go on sale Friday, June 30. His wife, Trisha Yearwood, will also be featured as a special guest. The show will be the inaugural concert at the new venue, giving fans their first chance to experience the stadium in a full-stage entertainment format.

“I’m thrilled to be back in Atlanta and honored to play the first concert in Mercedes-Benz Stadium,” said Brooks. “I’ve visited the stadium twice in the last month, and all I can say is, the fans are going to love it; it’s truly one-of-a-kind. We’re going to create a special experience the fans will never forget, and I can’t wait to light that place up this fall.”

Garth Brooks at Mercedes-Benz Stadium was booked by Marcie Allen, president, MAC Presents, and Rob Beckham, co-head of William Morris Endeavor Entertainment Nashville, in partnership with Tim Zulawski, Senior VP/Chief Commercial Officer, AMB Sports + Entertainment.

“Mercedes-Benz Stadium is focused on delivering an unmatched guest experience to everyone who enters the building as well as delivering the best talent,” said Zulawski. “It was important for us to not only find an artist who could deliver the biggest show in the world, but also had the same fan-focused ideals.  We knew the best artist who could deliver, and that was Garth Brooks."

“Two of Arthur Blank’s goals for Mercedes-Benz Stadium were to create premiere home venues for the Atlanta Falcons and Atlanta United FC and to attract the best in sports and entertainment to Atlanta,” said Steve Cannon, chief executive officer of AMB Group. “We’ve succeeded in securing the premiere sporting events in America and now have the top-selling solo artist of the 20th century, Garth Brooks, coming to Atlanta to showcase the stadium as an elite music venue. We could not be more pleased than to have Garth set this milestone in the stadium.”

Brooks is currently on the three-year Garth Brooks World Tour with Yearwood. The tour began with 11 sold-out shows at the Allstate Arena, Chicago. In two and a half years, the tour has sold over 5.5 million tickets, making it the biggest tour in the world.

Upon its completion in 2017, Mercedes-Benz Stadium will be home to the National Football League’s Atlanta Falcons and Major League Soccer’s Atlanta United. The multipurpose stadium will host major sports and entertainment events, including the Super Bowl in 2019, the National Collegiate Athletics Association’s Men’s Final Four in 2020 and the 2018 College Football Playoff Championship game.

Tickets can be purchased by visiting www.Ticketmaster.com/garthbrooks or by calling 800-745-3000. To learn more about the show, visit Mercedesbenzstadium.com.


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Funk Fest Leaves Fans Out To Dry?
 
Posted: 22 Jun 2017, 3:40 pm
Attendees at Funk Fest in Kansas June 17 were fuming on social media after being denied refunds while inclement weather prevented most of the acts from performing at the event.

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Zedd Unveils The ‘Echo Tour’
 
Posted: 22 Jun 2017, 3:09 pm
Although summer officially started this week, Zedd has fall on his mind. The German producer/DJ/musician just announced the initial routing for his North American autumn tour.

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Peter Tosh’s Son Comatose Following Jail Beating
 
Posted: 22 Jun 2017, 3:04 pm
The family of the late reggae icon Peter Tosh is seeking answers after they say his son was left in a coma following an attack in a New Jersey jail.

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Star Plaza To Close After All
 
Posted: 22 Jun 2017, 2:45 pm
After the famed Star Plaza Theatre in Merrillville, Ind., first announced it was being demolished then announced in November a dramatic reprieve, it appears the venue is going away after all.

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Smooth Start For Glastonbury
 
Posted: 22 Jun 2017, 1:19 pm
Despite increased security measures, visitors of Glastonbury Festival, which opened the gates June 21, were able to enter the site pretty quickly. 

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Cry Cry Cry Over Northeastern U.S.
 
Posted: 22 Jun 2017, 1:04 pm
The singer-songwriter supergroup of Cry Cry Cry is bringing Lucy Kaplansky, Richard Shindell and Dar Williams to a few lucky cities throughout the U.S.

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2 Holdouts In Cosby’s Trial Refused To Convict
 
Posted: 22 Jun 2017, 8:22 am
After 52 hours of tense deliberations, two holdouts in Bill Cosby?s sexual assault trial refused to convict the 79-year-old comedian, a juror told ABC News.

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TroyBoi Sets Fall Tour
 
Posted: 21 Jun 2017, 8:03 pm
In support of his upcoming album, Left is Right, TroyBoi has announced North American tour dates.

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Rench On Growing Gangstagrass
 
Posted: 21 Jun 2017, 7:50 pm
Rench, producer and ?mastermind? of the bluegrass/hip hop crossover act Gangstagrass took some time to chat with Pollstar about race dynamics affecting the way country and hip hop have evolved, and his band?s work to mix the genres.

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Philips Arena Renovation
 
Posted: 21 Jun 2017, 6:37 pm
The $193 million renovation of the Philips Arena, home of the NBA?s Hawks, began a day after the Atlanta City Council approved funding.  

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IAVM Legend Dubay To Retire
 
Posted: 21 Jun 2017, 6:00 pm

Screen_Shot_2017-06-21_at_3.10_.23_PM_.pngLionel Dubay

Lionel J. Dubay, AVP, business services division at the University of Florida (UF), Gainesville, has announced that he will retire July 6.

Dubay came to UF in 1985 as the director of the Stephen C. O’Connell Center, a position he held until 2007 when he became the director of UF’s business services division. He took on his current title in 2012.

When Dubay moved over to the Business Services Division in 2007, his new responsibilities included overseeing the operational, fiscal, programmatic and administrative activities of several auxiliary enterprises and private management services.

“Throughout my 47-year professional career I have been blessed to have worked with so many hard working, dedicated and talented staff members and business partners as well as people I have reported to,” Dubay said. “I am very grateful to them for all of the support they have extended to me.”

As the head of UF’s Business Services Division, Dubay has worked closely with the university’s food service business partner Aramark to increase the number of national brands on campus from 9 to 18, such as: the new Au Bon Pain, Panda Express, Wing Zone, Pollo Tropical, Moe’s, Salad Creations & Rising Roll. 

Through the BSD and Aramark partnership, they have spent over $20M in building new and refreshing food service units on campus. The number of Starbucks on campus was expanded from 2 to 5 with the most recent being at Marston Library. Currently the Chick–fil-A located at the Hub is under expansion and renovation, the Starbucks at Library West is under renovation and a Chomp It and Starbucks are being installed at the Law School. These projects are slated for completion before the start of the fall semester.

UF was one of the first campuses within the state to go Styrofoam-free at all of their food service locations. The student meal plan program was completely revamped from a number of meals a student could purchase per plan to 5 and 7-day open access meal plans which now have up to 12 additional meal plan equivalency food-service locations a student can go to.

With the extension of the Bookstore contract two years ago with Follett Higher Education Group, the main bookstore underwent a $1.2M renovation and the auxiliary bookstores at the Law School and Health Science Center went through a re-fresh. And, Follett helped with the financial support to expand the seating in the Reitz Union food court across from the Pollo Tropical. In an effort to save students money on course materials, Follett implemented a Rent–a–Text Program, Price Match Program, and a Digital All Access Opt in Program.

The process time to obtain a Gator 1 Card has been shortened for students because they now can submit their photos online to the Gator 1 central office.

Upon graduation from the University of Maine, Orono, in 1970, Dubay was hired as the first full-time recreation director for the City of Augusta, Maine. In 1972 he became actively involved in the construction process of the Augusta Civic Center and shortly after the Center opened in 1973 he was appointed director, a position he held until 1985 when he became the O’Connell Center director.

Dubay joined International Association of Assembly Managers (IAAM), now known as International Association of Venue Managers (IAVM), in 1973 and was one of the founding members of the Florida Facility Managers Association, which consists of arenas, stadiums, convention centers and performing arts centers within the state of Florida. He served as the association’s president from 1991 to 1993 and again from 2005 to 2007.

Dubay was responsible for bringing many acts to the Augusta Civic Center and UF campus over the years, including Arthur Fiedler and the Boston Pops, John Denver, Garth Brooks, Bruce Springsteen, Cher, Loretta Lynn, Alan Jackson, Jimmy Buffett, Tom Petty, Billy Joel, Elton John, Rod Stewart, M.C. Hammer, the Grateful Dead, Willie Nelson, Aerosmith, Eric Clapton, Dave Mathews Band, the Rolling Stones, and Elvis Presley. The May 24, 1977, Elvis Presley concert Dubay hosted in Maine was one of Elvis’s last concerts before his death on Aug. 16 of that year.

He served as the 75th president of the IAAM, which he said was a great honor and privilege. Dubay also served in numerous leadership positions within IAAM including vice president of Region V (1995-1997), chair of the board of governors, universities committee, diversification committee and was on the IAVM Board of Directors for seven years.

“I truly loved my time in the arena business. I have many fond memories of the many wonderful artists I booked over the years,” Dubay said. “And more importantly, I have made so many life-long friends within the entertainment industry and my professional associations. And having the opportunity to serve as President of the International Association of Assembly Managers was such an honor and privilege.”

Shortly after Dubay became President of IAAM the tragic events of 9/11 took place. In response to those terrorist attacks, Dubay appointed the IAAM Safety and Security Task Force, which brought together the largest number of like-minded organizations in the history of IAAM to develop a set of safety and security best practices and protocols for the various venue types. Out of the tireless efforts and great work of the IAAM SSTF, the IAAM Academy for Venue Safety & Security was later formed.

A champion of diversity, professional development and growing students within the venue management profession, he was the architect in setting up a student scholarship program within IAAM at the International and Region V levels, and within the Florida Facility Managers Association.

Dubay received IAVM's prestigious Charles A. McElravy Award in 2007 and in 2013 he was the first to receive the IAVM Region V Distinguished Service Award.

“I have a strong passion and love for IAVM and FFMA because they have done so much for me in the way of my personal and professional growth. Further, I would encourage everyone to get involved within their professional associations for you will definitely receive more back than you put in,” said Dubay.

As for retirement, Dubay says he has no major plans, “other than playing a little more golf and spending time with my grandkids.” Dubay added, “I do know I will miss coming to work at UF every day for it’s a very energizing and special place to work.” 


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Afghan Whigs Announces Tour
 
Posted: 21 Jun 2017, 5:41 pm
Building off the success of its latest album, In Spades, The Afghan Whigs will hit the road for a fall tour.

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Alaska Aces Moving To Portland, Maine
 
Posted: 21 Jun 2017, 4:00 pm

Cross Insurance Arena, Portland, Maine, the new home of the (to-be-renamed) Alaska Aces.

Comcast Spectacor, the parent company of the Philadelphia Flyers and Spectra, will bring hockey back to Portland, Maine, with the purchased Alaska Aces, an ECHL franchise. The Alaska Aces will be renamed and relocated to the Cross Insurance Arena to begin the 2018-19 season.  

The Alaska Aces were founded in 1989 and played 28 seasons in Alaska. During that period, they won three ECHL's Kelly Cups. Comcast Spectacor purchased the team from a five-man local ownership group after it was known the Aces would not be back for the 2017-18 season. The team will switch coasts, leaving Sullivan Arena, Anchorage, Alaska, for their new home.

The last hockey team to call Cross Insurance Arena home was the Portland Pirates, whose residency lasted from 1993-2016. Prior to the Pirates arrival, Comcast Spectacor had its first amateur hockey team, the Maine Mariners, play at the location from 1977-1992, when the arena was known as Cumberland County Civic Center. 

“We have a good relationship with the arena," said Paul Holmgren, president of the Philadelphia Flyers. "We manage that building. We have good partnerships with people in the area; we feel a real synergy with building the community, and we look forward to reigniting hockey in Portland."

The Cross Insurance Arena recently underwent a sizable renovation to create a better atmosphere for fans, create more comfort for athletes and a more desirable venue for entertainers. The 2014 renovation added 37,408 sq.-ft. of private suites, party rooms and larger state-of- the-art locker rooms for sports teams.

Cross Insurance Arena will also feature wider concourses, more vending stations, increased seating for handicapped patrons and advancements such as retractable telescopic seating, which will push the stage back to create more floor space for shows.  

Many of the improvements to the arena were made with the fans in mind. However, the renovation would not be possible if it weren't for the citizens of Cumberland County. 

“A question was put before the voters of the county (Cumberland County) and they, in fact, agreed,” said Mitch Berkowitz, chairman of Cross Insurance Arena board of trustees. “They were willing to commit upwards of $33 million of bonding capacity for the renovations of the facility.

“I think the stone has been dropped into a calm pond and the ripples instead of dissipating are getting bigger and bigger and bigger. By that I mean we expect great things that are going to come now that hockey has returned to the city of Portland," said Berkowitz. 

The purchase of this ECHL franchise will contribute to tourism and distination vacations in Portland, which can create economic benefits for nearby hotels, restaurants and shopping outlets, he added.

The arena has also hosted a lot of sold-out concerts. “We do a good bit of ticketed shows, everything from the Disney Live and the Disney on Ices, all the way to Phish and James Taylor,” said Matt Herpich, general manager of Cross Insurance Arena. 

Cross Insurance Arena also hosts a number of collegiate sporting events involving the nearby University of Maine. National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA) sporting events that have been held in Cross Insurance Arena include hockey, women’s basketball and men’s basketball games.  

This ECHL franchise will play 36 home games at Cross Insurance Arena starting the 2018-2019 season, not including possible postseason games. Though a team name or team colors has not yet been determined, that decision will be made sooner than later. 

Holmgren said the Flyers intend to hold a press conference later in July to talk about team details like name, colors and players.

Founding and building a new franchise will not be a new task for Comcast Spectacor, as they've been through this process with two American Hockey League (AHL) franchises, the Maine Mariners and the Philadelphia Phantoms.

Though this ECHL franchise will be a main focus of Comcast Spectacor, the company will still handle business operation for AHL's Hartford Wolf Pack, a franchise-owned affiliate of the New York Rangers. Comcast Spectacor has been involved with the Wolf Pack over the past four years. Comcast Spectacor also manages the Wolf Pack's home arena, Hartford (Conn.) XL Center.

Danny Briere, former long-time Philadelphia Flyer, will be in charge of the day-to-day operations as the team looks to hire a coaching staff, athletic trainers, sign players to contracts and find a National Hockey League (NHL) affiliate for the club. The franchise will not play its first game at Cross Insurance Arena until October 2018.

 

 


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AEG Plans Nashville Yards
 
Posted: 21 Jun 2017, 3:00 pm

Rendering of the proposed Nashville Yards project. (Photo Credit: Southwest Value Partners)

AEG’s plans for a mixed-use entertainment destination in downtown Nashville will fit right in with existing offerings and will create a new niche, capacity-wise, with its 4,000-seat music venue, said AEG Presents Senior VP Ali Harnell.

“That capacity range is underserved in this part of Nashville,” Harnell said, mentioning the iconic Ryman Auditorium, which housed the Grand Ole Opry in its heyday and still features special Grand Ole Opry shows. “The Ryman is always going to be the Ryman. People are always going to want to play there. It’s 2,400 (seats). Then you go up to the Municipal Auditorium and Bridgestone Arena and Ascend Amphitheater. Those are 6,000 and more. This is the perfect stepping stone, the perfect size.”

Earlier this week, AEG and San Diego-based developer Southwest Value Partners (SWVP) announced that AEG had purchased 4 acres of property in downtown Nashville known as Nashville Yards with plans for a mixed-use entertainment district, not unlike other well-known AEG brand destinations such as L.A. LIVE, Los Angeles, The O2, London and Mercedes-Benz Platz, currently under construction in Berlin, Germany.

In addition to the 4,000-seat music venue, AEG’s plans also include a luxury, flagship Regal Cinemas theater complex; a 600-700-capacity live entertainment club; an approximately 240-room boutique hotel and a variety of additional entertainment, food and beverage options.

“For several years, AEG has been looking for the right venue development opportunity in Nashville, one of the fastest-growing cities in the country,” said Jay Marciano, CEO of AEG and chairman and CEO of AEG Presents, in a press release. “A development offering like this has to not just be special, but be remarkable.”

Plans for developing the area began in late 2015 when SWVP purchased the nearly 15-acre campus of LifeWay Christian Resources for a reported $125 million in cash to create a multi-phase office, retail, hospitality, entertainment and residential space in the western edge of downtown Nashville. The complex will span from Broadway, downtown’s showcase street featuring iconic tourist attractions such as Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge, past Church Street.
Nashville Yards will be in walking distance to the Music City Center, the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, Bridgestone Arena, the Frist Center for the Visual Arts and the Johnny Cash Museum, among other attractions.

The developer plans to open a full-service, 591-room Hyatt Regency on the property in 2020, featuring more than 65,000 square feet of meeting space, a spa and “culinary experiences,” according to a press release. The Hyatt Regency will anchor the northwest corner of Broadway and 10th Avenue.

Ground will be broken on AEG’s parcel in the near future, Harnell said, although she could not pinpoint a time. She also stated that 2019 would be the earliest that any of AEG’s venues or attractions are completed, but that 2020 is a more likely target date. AEG’s entertainment complex does not have a name yet, she added, and she anticipates that a naming rights sponsor will be sought.

“It’s important that it stays locally grounded, but naming rights sponsors are part of the game,” she said.

News of AEG’s plans were welcomed by some other venues in town. “I’m pretty excited about it,” said Sean Henry, president and CEO of the Nashville Predators National Hockey League franchise, the primary tenant of Bridgestone Arena. “I’m a big believer in the more venues we have in the city, the better it is for all venues. I think it fills a nice void. You’ve got clubs in that area that seat in the 200-range right up to stadiums that could do 60,000.”

The 69,000-seat Nissan Stadium, home of the Tennessee Titans, is a five-minute drive across the Cumberland River from the lower Broadway area of downtown Nashville. Bridgestone Arena’s capacity is about 20,000 for concerts, depending on the configuration, and 17,200 for hockey games, Henry said. The area should be able to handle additional foot and car traffic as well, Henry added. “It’s incredible — we just hosted the Stanley Cup during the same week we had the CMA Music Festival. We had 100,000 outside watching, 18,000 inside watching, and 45,000 at the stadium. You die for those things.”

A more direct competitor would be Nashville Municipal Auditorium, which hosts concerts that generally seat about 7,500 fans, said general manager Bob Skoney. Live shows at the venue have been boosted in the past year by a new five-year agreement with Live Nation, which now hosts several — but not all — concerts at the Municipal Auditorium, Skoney said.
“There will be competition,” he added. “We’ve got a little more head room if the act skews bigger. But if it’s toward a lower capacity, that would be a different type of fit. So I would say it will be competition in some regard.”

Municipal Auditorium has hosted about 20 concerts in the year since the Live Nation agreement took effect, with acts including Sting, Boston, The Chainsmokers, Pretty Lights and The 1975, with Slayer and Mary J. Blige slated to perform concerts later this summer. The concert schedule has slowed a bit because of improvements that are being made to the venue, including a $1.5 million project to turn two large dressing rooms into five plush dressing rooms and a $1.8 million seat upgrade.

“The auditorium has been around for 55 years and we’ve weathered a lot of different new venues over the years,” Skoney said. “We kind of carve our own niche. We’re not strictly concerts. We book a lot of conferences, religious meetings and different types of public gatherings, circuses and basketball games. We’re a little broader with a multipurpose building.”

A press release stated that AEG and SWVP will work closely together to integrate all aspects of the entertainment district development, including infrastructure, architecture and pedestrian connectivity. Nashville’s population has been on the upswing, seeing a nearly 10 percent increase in residents between 2010 and 2016, according to U.S. Census Bureau statistics. “I’m not overly concerned, but we have a traffic issue building in town because of our explosive growth in the past five years,” Skoney said. “But with them being inside the beltway and with plenty of infrastructure to support something like that, and it will be in the evening hours most of the time, I think it will be fine.”


 

 


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Spotify and AXS Announce Partnership
 
Posted: 21 Jun 2017, 2:00 pm

Spotify and AXS are teaming up to move tickets.

In a new partnership between music-streamer Spotify and ticket company AXS, Spotify users will have access to AXS’ more than 25,000 annual music events and receive personalized recommendations based on their listening habits. A direct ticket feed embedded within both the desktop and mobile apps will provide users with faster access to purchase concert tickets.

As part of this agreement, Spotify’s 100 million active users can now access AXS tickets through the Spotify desktop or mobile app. Personalized event recommendations of AXS events will be based on listening behavior, artist preferences and user location and will be delivered to the listener in multiple ways.

Further details on the agreement have not been disclosed.

“Overall, Spotify is an amazing company, a truly pure music platform built around the fan, and this is a natural partnership for us that extends concert ticket inventory to help clients in a thoughtful and personal way,” said Dean DeWulf, AXS’ senior vice president of music. “It’s exciting when companies from parallel disciplines work together in a unified ecosystem with fans. Technology is allowing us to do these things, but it’s also about the willingness for companies in this space to work together.”

Integrated through the AXS API in real time, Spotify’s ‘Concerts Section’ will now surface personalized events. Events will also appear on the ‘Artist Pages’ under the ‘Concert’ tabs on ‘Desktop,’ ‘Artist Pages’ on ‘Mobile’ under ‘On Tour,’ and in the ‘Concert Recommendation’ emails Spotify sends out on a biweekly basis.

“One of the most frustrating statistics concert marketers experience is the percentage of people who say they don’t go to a show because they don’t know about it,” said Jamie Loeb, vice president of marketing for Los Angeles-based Nederlander Concerts, one of the largest operators of theaters and music venues in the U.S. “The Spotify partnership with AXS is a great step toward chipping away at this universal problem.”

To move the partnership forward, AXS had to first decentralize its inventory.

“This is more efficient than traditional marketing efforts,” said DeWulf.  “Spotify has entered into similar agreements with Ticketmaster and Eventbrite, and we’re happy to be a part of what they’re trying to accomplish.”

To date, Spotify has featured over 150,000 artists with concert dates in more than 100,000 venues.

Staples Center, Los Angeles; Santa Barbara (Calif.) Bowl; Red Rocks Amphitheatre, Morrison, Colo.; Sprint Center, Kansas City, Mo.; Target Center, Minneapolis; Verizon Theatre, Grand Prairie, Texas; Forest Hills Stadium, N.Y.; and Infinite Energy Center, Duluth, Ga. are some of the participating venues in  the US. 

This partnership also expands AXS’ ticketing offers to hundreds of venues internationally. The O2, London; SSE Arena Wembley, London; Hyde Park in the UK and the Stockholm (Sweden) Live event district in Northern Europe containing the four arenas Ericsson Globe, Tele2 Arena, Hovet and Annexet, are all included in the partnership, as well as others.

“Spotify’s personalized recommendation e-mails and the integrated AXS purchase flow give fans the information they need to purchase tickets to see artists they love," said Loeb.

 


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Star Plaza Theatre Closing After All
 
Posted: 21 Jun 2017, 2:00 pm

A bumpy year for Star Plaza Theatre, Merrillville, Ind., ends with the final curtain planned.

At first, it was going to close and then it wasn’t. Well, now it’s finalized that the Star Plaza Theatre in Merrillville, Ind., will shut its doors at the end of 2017.

The_Plaza_Theater_(interior).jpgThe interior of Star Plaza Theatre, Merrillville, Ind.

The theater, built in 1979, is set for demolition after it closes in December, making way for White Lodging — a hotel company that owns the 3,400-seat theater and adjacent office building— to redevelop the area that sits on 30-acres of land. Preparation of the land for construction of a new hotel and restaurant will begin next summer.

White Lodging’s communications director said that the company is not ready to answer any questions about the redevelopment, because much of the construction planning is still being finalized.

The initial shock of the theater closing was last August, but after the community and various musical artists heard about the looming closure, they took action — and it worked. Last November, then CEO of the theater Charlie Blum announced that the theater would not be demolished, crediting the news to the outcry of support shown for the venue.

Blum left the Star Plaza and White Lodging in February, said Bill Kelley, marketing director for the theater.

As White Lodging dove deeper into their redevelopment plans, it ultimately was decided to close and tear down the theater.

Many things remain unknown about the redevelopment and what it will and won’t include. The Twin Towers office building next to the Star Plaza Theatre will also be demolished.

“Tenants of the office tower will finish their remaining leases with the building anticipated to be vacated by summer of 2018,” stated the press release.

It’s not clear if a new theater will take Star Plaza Theatre’s place.

“The new development will include a full-service hotel, but the scope beyond that is currently undetermined,” White Lodging’s Director of Communications Kathleen Quilligan Sebastian said in an email.

Deno Yiankes, president and CEO of investments and development at White Lodging, made the following statement via email:

“In working with our land planners, we didn’t want to leave any possibility for the redevelopment off the table, and that meant we needed to start with a clean slate. Our ultimate goal is to create a development that enhances the local community and offers an everlasting positive impact on Northwest Indiana while honoring Dean White, similar to what the original development provided for almost 50 years.”

The founders of White Lodging have a long history with the Star Plaza and its former hotel, the Radisson, which was recently demolished. Prior to being rebranded into the Radisson Hotel, it was a Holiday Inn.

“Originally known as the Holiday Star Plaza, the Radisson Hotel at Star Plaza was the brainchild of Dean White, the father of White Lodging’s founder Bruce White,” stated a White Lodging press release.

Those who worked at the theater for decades feel sad and nostalgic about the demolition of the theater that was known for hosting big acts, including Lyle Lovett, The Oak Ridge Boys and late night talkshow hosts like Jay Leno and Bob Hope.

“We’d do private affairs,” said Star Plaza Theatre Engineer Steve Kokos. “There have been fundraisers for hospitals. Jay Leno has performed.”

For Kokos, the rollercoaster ride of the theater closing or not has been difficult, and he’s now starting preparations for the next phase of life without the theater.

“I’ve been very pleased with the 32 years that I’ve worked here. My memories are far and wide happy memories,” he said.  “All the professional acts, the artists, their crews have all been wonderful. It’s been a pleasure being in this business all these years.”

The Oak Ridge Boys, who played the opening act for the Star Plaza in 1979, will do a farewell act in December, Kokos said.

Duane Allen, the lead singer of The Oak Ridge Boys and a long-time supporter of Star Plaza Theatre, said he understands the reasoning behind the demolition of the theater.

"I think that’s something that they probably feel they need to do," said Allen. "Back when the first word came out, I had written an email to all the powers that be at the theater... and Bruce White said my email influenced them to keeping it open."

Allen doesn't blame White Lodging for changing their minds and knows that one day, The Oak Ridge Boys will play at their newly developed property.

"We were the first act to perform at Star Plaza, and we’ll be the last act to perform there, and everything in-between was great," Allen said. "We are dear friends with Bruce White and the Star Plaza Theatre people."

“We’re going to do a farewell run," added Allen. "There are a lot of good friends there as far as the artists go."

 

 


 


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Clippers Explore Inglewood Arena
 
Posted: 20 Jun 2017, 7:40 pm

Map of the city of Inglewood, Calif., showing where the proposed new Clippers arena would be built. 

Under a looming cloud of controversy, The L.A. Clippers of the National Basketball Association and the City of Inglewood, Calif., already home to the Forum and a new football stadium, have entered into a three-year exclusive negotiating agreement (ENA) that will allow the Clippers to explore building a new state-of-the-art basketball arena, training facilities and team offices in Inglewood, Calif.

The ENA, was unanimously approved May 15 by the Inglewood City Council. The deal calls for the Clippers to pay the city a nonrefundable $1.5 million which will fund the city’s administrative costs. If additional funding is required, the Clippers will provide the necessary resources. The new arena would be 100 percent privately funded and privately capitalized. No public dollars will be used for this project.

The city is considering a 20-acre site located south of Century Blvd. at Prairie Ave. and directly across the street from the future football stadium and entertainment district being developed by The Kroenke Group for the L.A. Rams and the L.A. Chargers, which is a year behind schedule and slated for a 2020 opening.   

The ENA establishes a three-year timeframe during which the L.A. Clippers will develop the details of its proposed basketball facility. The City of Inglewood will conduct an environmental review including an evaluation of the proposed facility’s construction and operational impacts.

The Clippers have called Staples Center, Los Angeles, home since 1999. They share the downtown L.A. venue with the NBA's L.A. Lakers and National Hockey League’s L.A. Kings. The team’s current lease with Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG), the owners of Staples Center, will expire at the end of the 2023-2024 NBA season.

“Today’s announcement is consistent with what Steve Ballmer and the Clippers leadership have said for years,” stated Gillian Zucker, L.A. Clippers president of business operations at a press conference. “We want to be regarded as the best. That requires setting the highest bar for our performance in every aspect of our business. To accomplish this goal, we must have options for the future.”

“The Clippers' lease expires in seven years,” she said. Zucker cited having to share Staples Center was the primary reason for the proposed move. “We had to play many Friday night games followed by Saturday night games at Staples Center, which is not optimal.”

“This agreement serves as an example of the team’s commitment to providing Clipper Nation with the best game experience in the NBA,” Zucker said. “It is another step in the journey toward building a championship culture that will deliver positive results for Clippers players, fans and the greater Los Angeles community.”

“The Clippers applaud the energy and vision that (Inglewood) Mayor Butts has for his city,” added Zucker. “His tenacity was instrumental in getting this exclusive negotiating agreement across the finish line.”

One already controversial provision of the new agreement would see the city confiscate what is now private property under eminent domain laws at a price that is consistent with current value, not the value it would achieve as part of a major entertainment complex.

Another sore point, say critics of the process by which the agreement came to be, is the way the agreement was discussed, debated, and ultimately decided upon by the mayor and the four city councilmen without any input from the public.  

And while Butts, the city council and Ballmer have cause to celebrate, one group that definitely is not joining the party is would-be new-neighbor The Forum.

Citing violations of the Brown Act and the California Environmental Quality Act, attorneys for the Forum criticized the agreement, calling it a “backroom deal” and an “unprecedented agreement without a shred of public notice or public process.”

Forum attorneys wrote to Butts and the four city councilmen, saying “to our knowledge this action was done without the courtesy of any substantive discussions with the Inglewood community or, for that matter, our client.”

The letter went on to claim that The Forum “had no time to assess the proposed action or enter into discussions with the city or any of the parties involved,” and “fails to comply with requirements of law,” specifically an environmental review.

The Forum, which opened in 1967, was home to the Lakers and Kings until 1999. In 2012, it was bought by Madison Square Garden Company for $23.5 million and renovated as a concert-only venue by MSG Entertainment.

 

 


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Live Nation Invests In Block Party Suites
 
Posted: 20 Jun 2017, 5:00 pm

Block Party Suite's Binkley Avenue pop-up, SMU, Dallas.

Live Nation has made a $2-million funding investment in Block Party Suites, a company that provides mobile pop-up premium suites.

As part of the investment, Live Nation executives Mark Campana, co-president, North American concerts, and Tom See, chief revenue officer, North American concerts, will be joining Block Party Suites’ board.

“This round, funded entirely by Live Nation, will provide us with access to a diverse network of entertainment venues, talented industry professionals, and the financial resources needed to build our vision of creating a national event hospitality brand,” said Adam Ward, co-founder and CEO of Block Party Suites, in a statement. “Closing this round is a key indicator that sport and entertainment venue operators understand the hospitality experience must extend beyond the venue walls, and that our focus on customer service exceeds that expectation.”

“Live Nation is enhancing the venue experience for fans with custom pop-up hospitality suites at select locations this summer,” said the company in a written statement to Venues Today. “The preconcert tailgate villages and in-venue cabanas by Block Party Suites kicked off earlier this month at PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel, N.J., and BB&T Pavilion in Camden, N.J. On June 23 the suites will be featured outside two additional locations - Klipsch Music Center in Noblesville, Ind., and Ascend Amphitheatre in Nashville.”

“In each of the venues, early-arriving fans can expect premium service from the time they arrive on-site through their pre-event activities. Amenities include access to fully furnished tailgate tents - which will be equipped with satellite TV and premium lounge furniture - as well as entertainment from live bands and popular tailgating games.”

“The pop-up aspect is a new revenue stream,” said Maury Brown, sports business and entertainment analyst. “It used to be that you generated your revenue from album sales. The money now comes from touring.”

“As Live Nation has become a broker of all kinds of live events, I think they see the pop-ups as a revenue stream they can get their hands on and become part of.”

“It used to be who you knew to get you into the premium space or allowed you to get access. Now it’s who has the cash to buy their way in.”

“Being involved in tailgating and partying on a high level can enhance the concert experience if you have the dollars to do this. Live Nation sees this. It’s highly lucrative. They obviously see this as something worth investing in.”

Brown would not be surprised if this move is just Live Nation getting their toes wet. “It’s possible they will invest more," he said. "It’s one of these situations where you start to make partners and then you want to make that experience uniform across all your events. I see this strategically as making a lot of sense.”

Block Party Suites has been in the game only three years. “Pop-ups are big and getting bigger," said Ward to Venues Today in a previous interview. "My partner and I started this company in 2014 because we were avid sports and music festival fans and saw a need for more than a tent." Block Party Suites didn’t get the first trailer out till 2015. By the middle of 2016, they saw six-to-eight times the growth.

“We married shipping containers and outdoor entertainment," said Ward. “We take a 20-foot shipping container and modify it into a portable hospitality suite. We put in 55-inch flat-screen TVs, five speaker surround-sound systems, hardwood floors, 14-piece furniture sets, satellite TV service, a rooftop deck and track lighting. It’s essentially a pop-up living room. Or we can turn it into a bar. Or it can be a VIP lounge.”

The containers come from China. "We buy the container once it hits port," said Ward. It’s sent to Block Party Suites' shop in Austin where it is stripped, painted and outfitted with all its electric connections. "Then it comes back to Dallas where we put in the signage and all the finishings. It leaves ready to go.”

Block Party Suites have two different revenue models. The first is a leasing model. In this scenario, the suites typically lease for $3,000 to $3,500 with logistics built into the price. Custom signage is extra; a vinyl package costs $1,500 and a premium dibond package costs $2,700.

The second pricing model works on a revenue share. Often the venues put zero dollars down. "This model is popular with sports teams," said Ward. “Sometimes it’s a 50/50 split; sometimes it’s an 80/20 split." The split is accounted for after operating expenses have been taken out.

“We’re a new product category." said Ward. "Venues are looking for partners who are experts who can execute all aspects of the pop-up. They have enough to do running the venues. We design, deliver and produce the product as well as handle logistics and operations. We manage everything from marketing to building websites. We conduct fan surveys and provide data collection. We create brochures, digital ads and send email releases."

Ward is gearing up for the last year of a three-year contract with Mustang Sports Properties which is the marketing arm for Southern Methodist Athletics, Dallas (SMU). "It's a tailgate village outside Gerald Ford Stadium and has six luxury suites," said Ward. "It was a huge success last year."

After SMU went up last year, Ward was flooded with calls. "We’ve done a Jägermeister lounge that went to five states on a five-festival tour," said Ward. "We did a Red Bull lounge for Circuit of Americas MotoGP, Austin, Texas, a pop-up lounge at the Travelers Championship, Hartford, Conn. and a pop-up park at TBC River Highlands, Cromwell, Conn.

Ward has several concepts ready to go that are in final contract stages, one for a “big Bowl Game” and one for a “major festival.”

To place this all in perspective, Live Nation promoted nearly 26,300 events in 2016, alone.


 


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Hot Tickets for June 21, 2017
 
Posted: 20 Jun 2017, 3:25 pm

Take That perform at the 02 Arena, London.

Take That launched their Wonderland Tour, May 5, at the Birmingham (England) Genting Arena, promoting the Feb. 17 release of their Wonderland album. The English pop music group, along with light displays, a water show, circus-style acrobatics, seven costume changes and a giant flying swan, topped our chart this week after making a stop at The O2 Arena, London, England, June 6-12, surprising and entertaining over 100,000 fans with six shows grossing $9.5 million. The Wonderland Tour will continue throughout the UK, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand; the band will wrap up Nov. 22, at The Trusts Arena, Auckland, New Zealand. Although Take That fans are missing two of the band’s original members, Jason Orange and Robbie Williams, there are rumors floating about that a full reunion of all five members may take place for the band’s 30th anniversary in 2020.

After keeping a low profile for the past few years, Chris Tucker passed through the Mohegan Sun Arena, Uncasville, Conn., May 27, landing on our Hot Tickets chart this week. Tucker brought his unique brand of comedy to a near-capacity crowd of 7,300, and with ticket prices ranging from $25-$45, grossed nearly $300,000. The comedian’s new stand-up tour will be stopping next Sept. 29, at the Wellmont Theater, Montclair, N.J.
 

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 May 23-June 20, 2017.

15,001 or More Seats

10,001-15,000 Seats

5,001-10,000 Seats

5,000 or Fewer Seats

1) Take That
Gross Sales: $9,484,533; Venue: The O2 Arena, London; Attendance: 105,556; Ticket Range: $119.92-$69.43; Promoter: SJM Concerts; Dates: June 6-12; No. of Shows: 6

2) Iron Maiden
Gross Sales: $2,348,767; Venue: The O2 Arena, London; Attendance: 34,427; Ticket Range: $72.58-$60.59; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: May 27-28; No. of Shows: 2

3) Shawn Mendes
Gross Sales: $1,510,016; Venue: The O2 Arena, London; Attendance: 31,942; Ticket Range: $56.80-$34.71; Promoter: AEG Presents; Dates: June 1-2; No. of Shows: 2

4) Enrique Iglesias, Pitbull
Gross Sales: $1,372,890; Venue: American Airlines Center, Dallas; Attendance: 13,631; Ticket Range: $164.95-$34.95; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: June 16; No. of Shows: 1

5) Birthday Bash ATL
Gross Sales: $1,326,213; Venue: Philips Arena, Atlanta; Attendance: 16,731; Ticket Range: $199-$10.79; Promoter: Radio One; Dates: June 17; No. of Shows: 1

1) Cirque du Soleil - OVO
Gross Sales: $849,821; Venue: Budweiser Gardens, London, Ontario; Attendance: 16,773; Ticket Range: $125.81-$29.38; Promoter: Cirque du Soleil; Dates: June 14-18; No. of Shows: 7

2) UFC
Gross Sales: $800,298; Venue: Spark Arena, Auckland, New Zealand; Attendance: 7,468; Ticket Range: $252.33-$36.05; Promoter: UFC; Dates: June 11; No. of Shows: 1

3) Elvis - The Wonder of You Tour
Gross Sales: $591,294; Venue: Perth (Australia) Arena; Attendance: 7,232; Ticket Range: $115.76-$62.38; Promoter: RCM Touring; Dates: May 26; No. of Shows: 1

4) Gloria Trevi vs Alejandra Guzman
Gross Sales: $543,710; Venue: Valley View Casino Center, San Diego; Attendance: 9,128; Ticket Range: $110.50-$36; Promoter: AEG Presents; Dates: June 9; No. of Shows: 1

5) Magic 92.5 20th Birthday Bash
Gross Sales: $278,534; Venue: Valley View Casino Center, San Diego; Attendance: 5,270; Ticket Range: $79.50-$24; Promoter: Pacific Concert Group; Dates: June 17; No. of Shows: 1

1) Jennifer Lopez
Gross Sales: $2,379,225; Venue: The Axis at Planet Hollywood, Las Vegas; Attendance: 12,037; Ticket Range: $412-$54; Promoter: Caesars Entertainment, Live Nation; Dates: May 24-27; No. of Shows: 3

2) The Weeknd
Gross Sales: $951,423; Venue: Mohegan Sun Arena, Uncasville, Conn.; Attendance: 8,176; Ticket Range: $150-$69; Promoter: WME, In-house; Dates: June 2; No. of Shows: 1

3) Neil Diamond
Gross Sales: $791,245; Venue: Mohegan Sun Arena, Uncasville, Conn.; Attendance: 9,084; Ticket Range: $99-$59; Promoter: WME , In-house; Dates: June 11; No. of Shows: 1

4) The Avett Brothers
Gross Sales: $281,100; Venue: Breese Stevens Field, Madison, Wis.; Attendance: 5,274; Ticket Range: $75-$45; Promoter: Frank Productions, Majestic Live, True Endeavors, NS2; Dates: June 17; No. of Shows: 1

5) Chris Tucker
Gross Sales: $279,700; Venue: Mohegan Sun Arena, Uncasville, Conn.; Attendance: 7,290; Ticket Range: $45-$25; Promoter: In-house, UTA; Dates: May 28; No. of Shows: 1

1) The King and I
Gross Sales: $1,331,222; Venue: Durham (N.C.) Performing Arts Center; Attendance: 20,647; Ticket Range: $177.15-$42.78; Promoter: PFM, Nederlander Presentations (New York); Dates: June 6-11; No. of Shows: 8

2) Mamma Mia
Gross Sales: $1,222,088; Venue: Fox Theatre, Atlanta; Attendance: 18,694; Ticket Range: $125-$30; Promoter: Broadway Across America; Dates: June 13-18; No. of Shows: 8

3) Beautiful - The Carole King Musical
Gross Sales: $1,006,846; Venue: Fox Cities Performing Arts Center, Appleton, Wis.; Attendance: 11,299; Ticket Range: $135-$50; Promoter: Broadway Across America; Dates: May 30-June 4; No. of Shows: 8

4) Jerry Seinfeld
Gross Sales: $626,757; Venue: The Colosseum at Caesars Palace, Las Vegas; Attendance: 5,231; Ticket Range: $165-$82.50; Promoter: AEG Presents, Caesars Entertainment; Dates: June 17-18; No. of Shows: 2

5) Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
Gross Sales: $585,084; Venue: Kings Theatre, Brooklyn, N.Y.; Attendance: 6,412; Ticket Range: $99.50-$79.50; Promoter: Goldenvoice; Dates: May 26-27; No. of Shows: 2

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

 


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Largest LED Display In Sports Debuts
 
Posted: 19 Jun 2017, 2:05 pm

Click here to see the video of the largest LED display in sports at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta.

Sitting at the roofline of the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta — home of the Atlanta Falcons and Atlanta United FC — will be the largest LED video display in sports. For Jared Miller, the 58-foot tall, 1,100 feet around halo screen is arguably the most exciting and noteworthy piece of technology being integrated into the venue, which will open in the Fall.

“Anyone who walks into the venue, that’ll be the first thing that they look at and the first thing they’ll pay attention to. It’s not going to get old, game after game after game,” said the Chief Digital Officer and SVP of Analytics and Technology for AMB Sports and Entertainment (AMBSE).

“It’s unlike anything that’s ever been built.”

Miller said that with the $1.5-billion construction project, which was both publicly and privately funded, the goal isn’t to chase superlative statements or claiming to be the most technologically advanced venue, even if it will house a 101-foot tall mega column LED display, 460 LED sports lights and an all fiber-to-the-edge network. The sentiments echo recent comments made last month by Golden State Warriors President Rick Welts.

“My commitment is to make sure that the fan experience we’re creating is going to leverage the latest and greatest technology, to make it the best possible experience,” Miller said to SportTechie.

“One thing we’re not going to do is innovate for innovation’s sake. We’re going to make sure we innovate for the customer's sake and for benefit of the fan at the end of the day.”

With countdown to opening less than a few months away, Miller said that the stadium is in the “full-on implementation and final configuration” phase of the process. Since early last year, AMBSE and its outside vendors have tested at a local lab facility in Atlanta the different types of technology being incorporated into Mercedes-Benz Stadium, with Miller saying that, in mid-2016, “we had the equivalent of three stadiums running simultaneously in this lab.”

“Granted, they were a microcosm in terms of scale, but it allowed us to test the technology as opposed to relying on that paper-based approach, and the hope that the integrations would work,” he added. “We put it to the test and saw first-hand how each one of these technologies would behave and nuances that often manifest themselves in the phase that we’re in now.”

Everything from safety firewalls and points-of-sale devices to routers, security cameras, television screens and other tech-based features have all been given the test treatment prior to the current implementation stages. Even WiFi, which will be powered by Hewlett Packard company Aruba, and have 1,800 wireless access points, has been tested as well.

From a fan engagement perspective, there has been a heightened level of importance placed on mobile and the app experience, according to Miller, who called it “one of the most critical touch points we have because that’s how fans engage with us.” Through a partnership with IBM, there will be three apps (Atlanta Falcons/Atlanta United FC/Mercedes-Benz Stadium) for fans to use versus what other sports teams have done with a joint team and venue app. Both teams’ apps will include stadium-based features and information.

As a result, there isn’t a necessity to download multiple apps unless a sports fan’s allegiances span soccer and football or maybe a consumer just wants to learn more about the stadium. Miller said that with the multipurpose 71,000-seat venue, which will also include events like the NCAA Final Four, SEC Championship or concert programming, it was necessary to build out the third app to cater to another group of attendees.

Additionally, with the IBM-powered apps, AMBSE can experiment with different startup vendors and technology providers to enhance the fan experience, whether it’s parking information or survey-based fans communication, for example.

“If we find that that is not being effective and not adding value to the fans, it’s like Legos, we can pull one out and try something else,” Miller said. “The core platform we’ve developed with IBM is really that core platform that allows us to have that agility and speed of innovation.

“Anything we do from a digital standpoint, it can’t be distracting. It needs to enhance whatever is happening on the field, whether it’s a game, concert or something else.”

That mindset stretches to ticketing as well, where Mercedes-Benz Stadium will be paperless, said Miller. Both the Falcons and Atlanta United season ticket holders will receive an RFID card and lanyard to make entry more efficient while barcodes on smartphones will still be accepted. As the organization utilizes the RFID technology throughout the season, learns more about its capabilities and how it impacts the fan, Miller said there is the possibility to “leverage it more broadly.”

When asked about collecting further fan data and information from the RFID technology, such as where individuals walk throughout the venue, how they’re using their time or where they’re purchasing food and beverage, Miller said that could be a capability as AMBSE looks into the future. From day one when Mercedes-Benz Stadium opens, that won’t be an option. Additionally, fans won’t have the ability to initially buy merchandise and generally spend money via their RFID card but again, that may be a future possibility as Miller and his staff continue to engage in conversations about how to enhance all aspects of the fan experience. With the organization’s Ticketmaster relationship, the plan is to continue to maximize that partnership as much as possible and “deploy the latest and greatest technologies.”

In addition, Miller explained that  the venue’s “fiber-to-the-edge infrastructure” means over the next 5, 10 and 20 years, Mercedes-Benz Stadium can stay current with new advances in technologies without having to reconfigure the infrastructure.

“How are we setting us up for continued excellence in the years to come? … I think that’s something we’ve focused on squarely and uniquely with Mercedes-Benz Stadium,” Miller said.


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Spectra’s Jones Goes It Alone
 
Posted: 15 Jun 2017, 6:20 pm

Brock Jones, the proud owner of 191 Touring.

Brock Jones has made a three-decade career of looking for the right fit between venues, artists and his own goals. That’s why when he sensed earlier this year that his position at Comcast Spectacor’s Spectra live event touring and promotion division didn’t feel right anymore, he decided to make a clean break and go his own way.

“Comcast Spectacor has really made a conscious decision that they need to focus in on the core product of the business, which is venue management and food and beverage, which is fine [with me]” he said. “It’s not a coincidence that the concert touring division was offloaded almost at the exact same time they sold ticketing. Honestly, the concert touring business is not for everyone.”

Jones, who left the company May 12, said he’d sat in multiple meetings with the Comcast finance team and “felt bad for them” when they’d ask him about cash flow and “how many tickets we’ll sell next week.” Knowing that those types of figures are impossible to predict in a business that’s not typically ruled by quarterly returns and month-over-month cashflow, Jones said it was hard for Comcast to make the touring business fit with their more traditional business model. “It’s not apples and oranges, it was apples and hand grenades,” he said, noting the split was amicable. A spokesperson for Comcast Spectacor declined to comment for this story.

So, the longtime talent buyer and former VP of Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena left the company after nearly five years of trying to break into smaller markets when it was clear that the division he led was not producing as expected. The good news is, he retained his entire staff of three full-time employees and hung his own shingle at his office 10 miles outside of Nashville.

The company, named 191 Touring after Brock’s childhood address in a small Idaho town bisected by State Route 191, has already ramped up with its first few projects. The initial outing is a string of dates in conjunction with Brad Garrett’s Police Productions, extending country singer Justin Moore’s tour, which he’s in the midst of routing right now.

He’s also partnering with Invictus’ Jim Cressman for some Canadian dates of the “I Love the 90s” tour and is in conversation with some of his longtime William Morris cohorts on a short Canadian run with another act he is not yet at liberty to discuss.

“Brock is a hard worker and he's another indie underdog working hard to develop hard ticket artists,” Cressman said. “My impetus to partner with venues is driven by intentionally doing whatever is advantageous for the artist. If bringing the venue in as a partner on my side reduces rent and soft costs, the artist walks out with more money because of that arrangement, we all win.”

Both men said the killer nostalgia lineup of the 90s tour — featuring Vanilla Ice, Salt N Pepa, Young MC, Coolio and others — made sense for them and the markets they’re going into.

“Whatever artist makes sense we’re gonna go after it,” Jones said of the net he’s planning to cast with a team that includes two marketing and production staffers and a right-hand woman who “basically keeps the world running for us.”

“I’ve been in the concert business since I was 17 — this is my 31st year — and I want to have an independent touring company that’s focused on putting artists in places they can succeed,” he said. “The concert touring model is going through a big flux right now. There’s so much focus placed on the majors and there are so many acts touring now because of the implosion of labels that there is a lot of potential for shows and touring and markets out there.”

The key, he noted, is that it is giving artists, managers and agents the ability to look at a national tour without having to go to Live Nation or AEG by picking a shop that can focus on an artist with laser precision. “They won’t be a number, that’s why Brad and I work so hard on Justin, we believe in him,” he said of his partnership with Garrett. “We focus on those dates. Live Nation and AEG do great business, but they are spread thin. If somebody wants to put an artist out for 18 dates in the middle of winter for acts that don’t burn sheds, that’s not what they do. They won’t get the attention they need to succeed. That’s what I do.”

Asked how many dates or tours he plans to put out in the next year, Jones said he hasn’t set a goal for a reason. “I don’t lock myself in because that’s when you start making bad offers,” he said. “If it makes sense, we’re going after it. We’re not budgeting ‘we have to do 15 shows a month.’ We’re budgeting ‘let’s go do what’s right and makes sense.' I just came out of a world that lived on benchmarks and that doesn’t work in this world.”

Plans call for his office to expand soon, thanks to an initial response he described as “beyond positive. To say I’ve been welcomed with open arms would be an understatement. In this industry, you can never have enough good partners, and I’ve been in this business a long time and worked hard to have a good reputation. I pay my bills and treat artists well. There’s nothing more you can ask for in this business.”


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Spectra Sells Ticket Division To Learfield
 
Posted: 14 Jun 2017, 7:00 pm

The new (yet old) logo of Paciolan, which was acquired by Learfield.

College sports marketer, Learfield, which is owned by Atairos Group, has acquired Spectra’s Ticketing & Fan Engagement division from Comcast Spectacor, which will revert to its original name, Paciolan. The deal was announced on June 12 and it’s expected to close at the end of the month.

Spectra Ticketing & Fan Engagements’ Kim Damron will continue to lead Paciolan in her role as president. Dave Butler will remain as CEO of Paciolan and founder Jane Kleinberger will also remain with the firm, which will officially be called, Paciolan a Learfield Company.

The connections run deep between all four companies. Atairos Group is run by Michael Angelakis, who was formerly CFO at Comcast, owned by Comcast Spectacor.

“Pac is back,” said a thrilled Damron about getting the Paciolan name back when reached at the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA) conference in Orlando, Fla., where all of the company’s branding is already Paciolan.

“It’s fantastic,” she said. “We had that name for 35 of the 37 years we’ve been in business and the Paciolan name resonates well with our clients. The brand is great and known in the market.”

“Learfield was looking for natural synergy plays and this was one that made sense," said Damron. “Learfield is clearly the leader in college, but they’re also focused on live entertainment — the venue side, the college side and on the arts side.”

Damron is excited about working with Learfield’s digital marketing company, Mogo Interactive. “They have over 200 clients, 150 of which are performing arts clients, so we’ll be able to deliver advanced marketing tools and data solutions to our performing arts and venue clients,” said Damron.

Damron also believes another windfall of the deal will be that Paciolan’s already strong marketing services team will be able to accelerate their services to their clients through Mogo technology.

Learfield also owns digital signage companies ANC and GoVision, and Sidearm, a website company, which Damron believes will also provide ‘synergies across the company that make a whole lot of sense for us.”

The company will be staying in their headquarters in Irvine, Cailf., and the rest of the senior management team, Steve Demots, chief revenue officer, and Craig Ricks, SVP, marketing, will also be staying in their roles.

“We expect to grow the product and the features and deliver great products and services for our customers,” said Damron about Paciolan’s future under a new corporate owner.  “Learfield also plans to invest in our technology, which means more products and services out to the market to serve everybody better.”

“We have long admired Paciolan,” said Learfield President and CEO Greg Brown.  “Not only is it a great service with a number of segment-leading products, the reputation of its people, beginning with its founders and current management, is without peer.  We couldn’t be happier and look forward to having Paciolan as part of the Learfield family.”

Brown said there are still a few minor legal matters to resolve but all the major issues have been agreed upon. “The deal is signed,”  he said.

“We serve many athletic and entertainment programs and venues and one of the more meaningful pieces that has not been a part of what we do has been the ticketing function, which has incredible technology and databases and functionality, which every significant venue has to have,” he said. “Ticketing is a pretty complex software product.”

Brown said that acquiring Paciolan fits in nicely with the other acquisitions the company has made over the last few years. “Adding a complimentary product and service to the other companies we’ve picked up like Mogo and Sidearm will make integrating our services seamless.”

Culturally, Brown believes the companies are a perfect fit. “How Paciolan thinks about relationships, and how important they are, is right in line with how we place a premium on working together in a thoughtful and collaborative way,” he said. “Their culture is a centerpiece of what is attractive about that company.”

Brown confirmed Learfield’s intention to invest in Paciolan. “We’re going to be investing and probably bringing in more people,” he said. “We want to continue to build out their suite of services and functionality.”

“We all feel terrific about it, it makes so much sense because the college space is where Paciolan got its start,” said Dave Scott, Comcast Spectacor, CEO.

The genesis of the deal came from conversations Scott had with Angelakis after Atairos Group bought Learfield. “Mike and I are good friends; we worked 10 years together at Comcast,” said Scott. “We talked about what he was doing in the college space and what we were doing, and we thought it made sense to talk about a deal. With all the schools Learfield has, and all the schools Paciolan has, it’s going to be good for both of their businesses.”

Scott pointed out that Comcast by Spectacor still has the other parts of Spectra — food service and corporate sponsorship — and believes they “can go deeper in the college space” and that the move is “a terrific opportunity for cross marketing for both companies.”

Paciolan was founded in 1980. Its ticketing platform and related fan engagement services are used by 500 live entertainment organizations including 120 leading collegiate athletic departments, 75 performing arts venues and more than 100 professional sports and arenas clients and several regional ticketing partners who serve hundreds of venues. The Paciolan system processes the sale of over 120 million tickets per year. In more than 37 years of operation, Paciolan has expanded beyond its ticket operations software solutions, adding fundraising, marketing and customer analytics, providing its partners with reliable data and customer insights.

The ticketing world was also rocked this week by the news that primary ticket company Eventbrite entered into an agreement with Pandora to acquire ticket company Ticketfly for $200-million. Additionally, Eventbrite and Pandora plan to enter into a future distribution agreement to extend the benefits of the Ticketfly integration into Eventbrite.

“Both Eventbrite and Ticketfly have made incredible progress building technology for live music businesses in the long underserved mid-market,” wrote an Eventbrite representative to Venues Today in a statement. “We have shared passions and complementary strengths, and we know we can offer better solutions for venues & promoters by joining forces. When you add Ticketfly's deep relationships and strong track record in a complex industry to Eventbrite's global scale and technology, the whole is definitely greater than the sum of its parts.”

"We've always believed independent venues and promoters deserve the absolute best in event technology and services,” wrote a Ticketfly representative to Venues Today in a statement. “Teaming up with Eventbrite will give our incredible roster of clients a solution that combines the strengths of both companies, and together we will continue to push the industry forward. Ticketfly's mission is to deliver the world's most powerful live events platform, and this combination accelerates our path to achieving that mission."

The deal is still in negotiations and no date has been set for closing.

Both ticketing company deals come on the heels of a new partnership between long-reining ticket industry-leader Ticketmaster and upstart last-minute ticketing app Gametime.

“This is the first indigenous ticketing company we’ve done an open platform deal with,” said Greg Economou, Ticketmaster, chief commercial officer and head of sports. “We really like the incremental audience they’ve captured. Their market is mostly last-minute ticket-buyers who are making a decision within seven days of an event.”

“We really like their technology and their interface and think it really matches up with the direction we’re going,” he said. “We think it’s a great opportunity to create incremental purchases and ticket sales.”

“Working with an industry leader like Ticketmaster is strong validation for the fast-growing platform we’ve built at Gametime,” wrote a Gametime representative to Venues Today. “We expect to offer significant value to all of Ticketmaster’s clients as the company looks to expand inventory distribution and reach even more of our millennial demographic. Gametime’s last minute, mobile-focused user will also benefit from the best selection of tickets across all categories of sellers.”

Economou said that, “it’s available for our partners to take advantage of immediately.”

For more on the latest round of ticketing industry consolidation and analysis of all the mergers, acquisitions and new partnerships that have hit in this wave, pick up the July issue of Venues Today.

 


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Second Paw Patrol Tour Launched
 
Posted: 14 Jun 2017, 6:00 pm

Paw Patrol Live! The Great Pirate Adventure, debuts in October.

The worldwide popularity of Paw Patrol Live! Race to the Rescue, produced by VStar Entertainment Group, has led to a second production based on pirate puppies.

The success of Nickelodeon’s “Paw Patrol” shows combined with youngsters’ fascination with pirates should be a winning formula for Paw Patrol Live: The Great Pirate Adventure, said VStar’s Kevin Kulas. The original Paw Patrol Live has been playing theaters since October of last year. There are also five international units of Paw Patrol, which opened or will open March 31 in Australia, April 7 in Mexico City, Aug 4 in London, July 3 in Uruguay and October in Portugal.

Paw Patrol Live: The Great Pirate Adventure will play 1,500-5,000 seat venues, among them four arenas so far, said Julia Schmidt, new CMO of VStar, who joined the firm in February. Bookings are a combination of promotes and co-promotes, Kulas said.

Ticket prices start at $19 and go up to $110 for the VIP package, comparable to the first run.

Setup for this new Paw Patrol, which is a slightly bigger production, will be eight hours; tear-down, four hours. It involves four or five semis, one tour bus and a cast and crew of 30. Costumes are produced in-house, one of VStar’s core competencies. VStar is using a “Bunraku”style of theatrical costuming, which leaves the actor’s face exposed.

Kulas pegged the cost of production at in excess of $2.5 million. The show makes use of video walls and Nickelodeon animation. It is also interactive. The first Paw Patrol used white pompom giveaways, which the children were encouraged to wave. Pirates will have a similar interactive giveaway item.

The target market is preschoolers, but skews to age 10, Schmidt said. “It’s a fun show; everybody likes puppies.” In some markets, they tie in with nonprofit canine companies and let them set up in the lobby, most often with support dogs.

The number one selling merchandise item is LED spin lights.

Sponsorships for the first Paw Patrol Live include Pedigree and State Farm. Kulas said they have not yet contracted the second tour sponsorships.

The strength of the first tour helps with the marketing effort, Schmidt said. “There is pent-up demand.” Paw Patrol two will repeat some markets.

Kulas said the first tour of Paw Patrol Live has played 50 dates and 203 performances through June 8. It has sold over 500,000 paid tickets to date in the U.S.

The social media engagement is huge.

VStar currently has five active touring units besides Paw Patrol — three Discover the Dinosaurs and two units of Sesame Street Live, the last performance of which will be July 23 in Maui, Hawaii. Feld Entertainment will produce future Sesame Street Lives.

VStar also has three holiday shows and one non-holiday productions of Cirque Dreams.

Paw Patrol Live! The Great Pirate Adventure begins Oct. 14-15 at Five Flags Center, Dubuque, Iowa. New arenas on the tour include UNO Lakefront Arena, New Orleans, Nov. 4-5.

The route so far:

Oct. 14-15, Five Flags Center Arena, Dubuque, IA                           
Oct. 21-22 , U.S. Cellular Coliseum, Bloomington, Ill.                        
Oct. 28-29, Old National Centre, Evansville, Ind.                           
Nov. 4-5, UNO Lakefront Arena, New Orleans,
Nov. 8, Cajundome, Lafayette, LA                         
Nov. 11-12, CenturyLink Center, Bossier City, La                      
Nov. 15, Ford Park Arena, Beaumont, Texas                          
Nov. 18-19, PAC at River Center, Baton Rouge, La.                    
Nov. 21-22, Cannon Center, Memphis, Tenn.                            
Nov. 29, Convocation Center, Jonesboro, Ark                        
Dec. 2-3, Allen County Memorial Coliseum, Fort Wayne, Ind.                       
Dec. 6, Civic Center,  Canton, Ohio
Dec. 9-10, Toyota Oakdale Theatre, Wallingford, Conn.                        
Dec. 13, Bryce Jordan Center, State College, Pa.                    
Dec. 15-17, Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza, Wilkes-Barre, Pa.                     
Dec. 26-27, Paramount Theatre, Cedar Rapids, Iowa                         
Dec. 30-31, Old National Centre, Indianapolis                        


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Seattle Storm To Stay At KeyArena
 
Posted: 14 Jun 2017, 5:15 pm

WNBA team Seattle Storm will stay at KeyArena through 2028.

The Seattle City Council has approved a new deal that will make KeyArena home to the Seattle Storm of the WNBA through Dec. 31, 2028. The new deal will supersede, terminate and replace the previous contract.

The agreement between Storm owners Force 10 Hoops LLC (F10H) and the city of Seattle contains many of the components of the previous deal. As a part of the revenue sharing deal, beginning in 2017, F10H will receive an annual payment of $340,198 for building naming rights. Also included are advertising, premium seating and suite sales. F10H will pay a minimum of $5,715 per game for lower bowl configuration. A larger fee of $8,115 will be implemented for the use of lower and upper bowl seating.  

"The lease renewal is very similar to the earlier one; however, due to plans for redevelopment of KeyArena, we wanted to more specifically address that issue for the team,” said Edie Burke, general manager at KeyArena. “The first contract was negotiated shortly after the Sonics left.  Both organizations have learned a lot since that time so we wanted to capture some of the standard operating procedures we have established throughout the 10 ten years."

In February of 2009, F10H signed a 10-year agreement to remain at KeyArena. In the wake of the SuperSonics departing, the city council agreed on a deal that would lower costs and boost revenue for F10H. This agreement afforded F10H 30 percent of concession revenue, a $10,000 rent decrease per home game and a minimum of $300,000 annually from the city for allowing Seattle Center advertising throughout and around KeyArena. The existing deal was set to end Dec. 31, 2018.

Even with the new agreement to play the next 10 seasons in KeyArena, the Storm may have to play a portion of their home games elsewhere. Their leave of absence may be lengthy, and a back-up venue has not yet been decided.

"Our new contract with the Storm addresses relocation due to renovations,” said Burke. “We will work together to find them a suitable location if they needed to host any of their games outside of the arena."

The city is currently finalizing a $500-million plan with Oak View Group to replace and renovate the structure of KeyArena. If this deal is implemented, the Storm will be forced to relocate for up to three seasons. This will come at a cost to the city.

If F10H follows all scheduling guidelines but are forced to play a regular season home game away from KeyArena either due to Bumbershoot (an annual music festival which takes place during the Women’s National Basketball Association season) or renovations, the city would be responsible for paying F10H up to $260,000 per game. If the Storm are not permitted to play in KeyArena for 11 games to two seasons, the city would be responsible for paying F10H $2.6 million per season. Though KeyArena may take a financial hit during renovations, they're hoping for a big payoff upon its completion.

"The renovations will include upgrades that enhance the playing and viewing of WNBA, National Basketball Association (NBA), National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA) basketball as well as National Hockey League (NHL) games. Of course, it will also continue to be able to host live entertainment events," Burke said

Obligations to the city from F10H  include community service programs each season involving players, coaches, staff and owners, that teach the city's youth a healthy and active lifestyle. 

F10H must follow a program that provides 1,000 tickets to local nonprofit organizations in efforts to give children with a lack of resources an opportunity to experience a WNBA game. The team must enter an environmental sustainability program to assist in educating the public about steps that'll create a cleaner and healthier environment. Also, the team must enter into a ticket pricing structure that sees to it there is a minimum of 500 tickets sold at $15 or less apeice, per game. This will ensure that people of all communities and financial backgrounds have the ability to attend a game. Currently, on Ticketmaster.com, Storm tickets range from as low as $9 to as high as $83.

"We have an early-saver zone, which is part of BECU,” said Alisha Valavanis, president and general manager of the Storm. “It provides discounted tickets for families to come into the building and experience Storm basketball. We’re doing things across the board to focus on families and young kids."

Along with receiving $340,198 annually for building naming rights and advertising outside the arena and inside along the upper bowl, F10H will have the exclusive rights to sell and license temporary advertising during home games. F10H will have the right to the following sections of the lower bowl: the digital signage, the basketball floor, basketball goal supports' padding, backboards, player benches, 24-second clock, press table, scorer’s table, visiting team and trainer equipment, video portion of the jumbotron, the concrete walls in the lower bowl, the seats and seat backs in the lower and upper bowl, the blimp and similar devices approved by the building manager, media room, settlement room, courtside entrance, family lounge and the curtain.

F10H is required to ensure that 10 percent of the available signage for each home game is left available for city advertisements. However, the team is entitled to 100 percent of gross revenue allocated by advertisement, granted it's in the listed sections. The Storm have 30 sponsors and partnerships listed on their site, with the most contributions coming from Swedish Medical Center. 

A number of alternative arena uses were etched into the deal, including practices, fundraisers, and parking. The deal states the Storm are allowed to use KeyArena for team practices when no home games are scheduled as long as the request is made 45 days in advance. The team can utilize the arena for practice for up to four hours. However, a scheduled practice can be canceled by KeyArena for a revenue generating activity, as long as F10H is notified 10 days in advance. F10H will also be allowed to request the arena for five fan-generation events, or sponsor development events, per season. As long as it is requested in advance and a home game is not scheduled on that day. F10H will be issued 500 authorized parking permits, for players, coaches, and team staff to be used in First Avenue Parking Garage. Staff may also utilize South KeyArena parking lots for no additional cost, if parking is available.

The Storm have been a success since they've arrived at the KeyArena, winning the Women’s National Basketball Association Championship in 2004 and 2010. In the 17 home games played at KeyArena last season, the Storm welcomed 7,230 fans per game. This total was an 11-percent increase from 2015 when the team hosted 6,515 fans per game. In 2016, the Storm reported it reached a 389-percent increase in local viewership with 171, 917 total viewers. The team also saw a 60-percent increase in national viewership. According to the team page, The Storm estimated reaching 22.1 billion via earned media.

The Storm are scheduled to play 17 home games each WNBA season, excluding pre-season, post-season and the WNBA All-Star Game, which was awarded to KeyArena for the 2017 season.

"For the game, we will activate our plaza,” said Valavanis. “We’ll do kind of fan fest type activities the day of the game… the numbers look strong. We sold out the lower bowl. We’re continuing to drive attendance."

The All-Star Game will be played July 22 and will be broadcast on ABC.


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IAFE Addresses Dealing with Activists
 
Posted: 14 Jun 2017, 5:00 pm

When the Ohio State Fair, Columbus, booked the animal attraction Sea Lion Splash into the 2016 event, GM Virgil Strickler received “thousands and thousands” of emails in protest, and the fair’s Facebook page was deluged with posts from all over the world.

The year before, in 2015, the Black Lives Matter movement decided to use the Minnesota State Fair, Saint Paul, as a platform for rallies, resulting in a situation of closing and opening back up various gates to keep demonstrators out, a task that kept security busy and not focused on other tasks.

The International Association of Fairs & Expositions (IAFE) has been providing alerts to member fairs when they might be targets as well as advice on how to handle protests. Now,  IAFE is releasing a 10-point Activist Response Kit (ARK) to help members prepare for activists, especially animal activists.

“The ARK results from a series of interactions and conversations with members,” said Marla Calico, president and CEO of the IAFE since the beginning of 2016. “Before I became president and CEO, it was evident to me as a staff member of IAFE that animal rights activists— especially but not exclusively—had fairs in their sights. Members were calling asking for advice, most often in a pressure or response situation. We spent a lot of time in 2016 just listening and talking to members and helping in times of crisis.”

After communicating with several fair managers and staff members and realizing she was giving out similar advice in many of the situations, Calico decided it would be helpful to create a tool kit for members in order to prepare them for protests and to help them be more proactive. The ARK is a document with 10 sections, covering the following topics: Animals: Livestock Shows During the Fair; Animals: Petting Zoos, Educational Exhibits and Attractions; Non-Fair Rental Events; Booth Rules: Controlling Activists on Grounds; Free Speech; IT: Preparing for Robo-Emails and CyberAttacks; Screening Personnel: Hired & Volunteers; Social Media; Crisis Communications; and Legislative Advocacy.

The ARK should be available this week online, and Calico plans to email member fairs to let them know they can log in and either download a PDF or read the document online. The next step, Calico said, will be to produce a printed edition that will be about 64 pages that she hopes will be completed in the fall, in time to hand out at the annual IAFE convention, which will take place Nov. 26-29 at the Paris Las Vegas Hotel & Casino.

Most of the 10 sections are straightforward when it comes to dealing with activists. As far as Calico knows, a fair has not experienced an activist trying to get hired as a way of working from the inside. However, “we just want them to think about it,” she said. “Animal rights activists are well known for doing that, so why would they not try at a fair? It’s not beyond the scope of possibility. But we’ve heard of no instances.”

Also, in several cases, animal attractions have been targeted, as opposed to the livestock events that are the backbone of most fairs. However, Calico believes fairs should brace for that ocurrence as well. She noted an incident that took place last year when New York Mets outfielder Yoenis Cespedes purchased a 4-H pig at the Saint Lucie County Fair in Fort Pierce, Fla., as a gesture to help the kids. According to auction rules, the pig had to be slaughtered.

“People were calling for him to be thrown off the baseball team,” she said. Calico also recalled a petition that received several thousand signatures calling for an end to the “senseless abuse” perpetuated by 4-H programs at fairs. “Those are two specific examples,” she said. 

The stakes to Calico are obvious. “When a critical resource like staff time is spent dealing with an assault of robo-emails, that means something else can’t be addressed,” she said. “An assault of robo-emails may totally disrupt email service, even crash a website of a fair. In that instance, guests can’t get information, cannot make decisions, may get frustrated and develop a negative attitude about the fair.”

Alicia Shoults, the marketing and public relations director at the Ohio State Fair, Columbus, can attest to how damaging and time-consuming the issue can be. Last year, just before the fair was set to open, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) asked that the Sea Lion Splash be canceled.

Soon, GM Strickler began receiving thousands of emails, requesting the closure of the attraction. In response, Shoults said, the fair contacted the Ohio Department of Agriculture to make sure the sea lions had been inspected by a marine life veterinarian, and that the animals had adequate shade and other necessities. PETA was informed, Shoults said, however, “they were not satisfied and they continued to utilize their emailing and cyber-bullying tactics.”

Ohio State Fair officials consider animal attractions to be both a good educational and entertainment tool for fairgoers, Shoults said. “It’s something we evaluate every year, whether to continue to book animal attractions as a whole, and which ones we’re going to book.” The attractions are examined closely, not only for the value to customers, but also to make sure the acts are “in the clear” and “the right fit” for the fair, she added.

Elephant attractions at fairs also have been targeted by animal activists. The Eastern States Exposition (The Big E), West Springfield, Mass., and the Kern County Fair, Bakersfield, Calif., are two fairs that have dealt with protesters because of elephant acts. Last year, activists showed up to demonstrate at The Big E; most of them stayed outside the fairgrounds, said Donna Woolam, the fair’s director of agriculture. “They have to remain on the street, but that’s not to stop an animal activist from coming in and videoing. We try to keep it on the street.”

And in 2015, elephants from Have Trunk Will Travel were set to appear at the Kern County Fair. Activists there took a different tactic by approaching sponsors and the booked entertainers, including rock act REO Speedwagon, said CEO Michael Olcott. “That got a lot of backlash to me,” Olcott said. “Sponsors said, ‘How did they get my number? I’m not supporting cruelty to animals.’” Because of the pressure, Have Trunk Will Travel pulled out of the fair, he added

Woolam can remember animal activists back in the 1980s, she said, but social media has allowed them to organize in a way never seen before. She appreciates the IAFE’s help in the form of the ARK tool kit. “I think it’s wonderful that we’re taking a proactive response and that we’re getting to be proactive in this,” Woolam said. “I think it’s wonderful that they are reaching out to the IAFE membership that may not have the access that those of us at larger fairs may have to resources like this.”

Although most of the activism at fairs has surrounded the issue of animals, some groups select fairs for protests because they provide a platform. That is what happened in 2015 when Black Lives Matter chose the Minnesota State Fair as a rallying site. “They want to be seen so they go where all the people are, and go where you’re going to get some news coverage,” said GM Jerry Hammer.

The incident happened on one of the fair’s highest attendance days and so did not seem to negatively impact attendance, and once the fairgrounds coordinated with the Saint Paul Police Department, Hammer said, they were able to dissipate the crowd. Some of the protesters then came back as guests, he noted.

Of course, the year-round events at fairs also can be targets, and the IAFE notes that managers have to be aware that booking in a gun show—or a marijuana show—might result in attention from activists. “People are finding a lot of ways to let their voices be heard, through social media in particular,” Calico said. “It has become so simple for a single individual to launch a massive robo-cyber attack that it’s not even funny.” 

As for this year’s Kern County Fair, which will be held Sept. 20 to Oct. 1, there will be a show featuring stingrays that can be petted by customers. Does Olcott expect to experience protesters? “I’m sure we probably will, but I think it will be minor.”


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Yas Arena Plans Unveiled
 
Posted: 14 Jun 2017, 4:00 pm

Yas Arena, Abu Dhabi, will be part of a $12 billion multi-use entertainment complex.

St. Louis-based HOK Design unveiled the latest renderings of Yas Arena, a new multipurpose sports and entertainment venue on Yas Island in Abu Dhabi. The facility is part of a $12-billion mixed-use development that will include adjacent retail and dining on a boardwalk.

The new 18,000-capacity arena, which can contract to a 500-seat theatre, is the first on the island to be designed to accommodate a wide variety of events. HOK is working with ESP and Pascall+Watson to deliver the arena. The team was engaged by Miral Asset Management, the entity responsible for the development of the broad southern part of Yas Island.

“This is a fantastic project, and we’ve been working with our client for some time,” said John Rhodes, a director of HOK’s Sports + Recreation + Entertainment practice.

YAS_interior_260x195.jpg

The goal of the project was to create an intimate, highly flexible and efficient venue with excellent acoustics that can be used year-round for a variety of sport and entertainment events.

This focus on flexibility carries over to premium and back-of-house spaces. The arena is designed to adapt to a diverse set of events, including community gatherings, concerts, performances, sporting events, and meetings and conventions. Premium spaces include a VIP lounge that can be transformed into a grand ballroom for events, hospitality boxes and unique terrace bars for receptions and parties.

Additional amenities, including food and beverage, will be located adjacent to the arena to create a linear street that stretches down the waterfront promenade. This outdoor concourse will create a festival-like atmosphere to generate year-round activity. The outdoor concourse will provide connectivity to the surrounding district on Yas Bay.

Yas Island is a new multipurpose leisure, shopping and entertainment destination that includes a hotel cluster, the Yas Marina, F1 circuit and a growing number of theme parks. The new venue will be located directly on the waterfront and serve as an anchor for the promenade that will feature more than 50 cafes and restaurants, 20 retail outlets, a recreational pier, two hotels and a beach club.         

“Abu Dhabi has specific requirements, and the scale of events is much different than in the U.S. and Europe,” said Rhodes. “The building is tailored to the market, which demands a lot more hospitality, and also to the nature of how shows are set up. We’ve optimized premium and exhibition spaces [with this design].”

In addition to a unique typology, which is different from traditional North American arenas, what also sets the new arena apart is its location on the waterfront by the sea.

“It runs alongside the waterfront, so the actual building layout is symmetrical to respond to that,” said Rhodes. “The lower concourses can act as a mall, so this will be a very active building on non-event days.”

Rhodes said a start date and date of completion have not yet been set, but construction on the arena is anticipated to begin in the next few months.


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Ticketmaster Losing Its Grip on NFL?
 
Posted: 14 Jun 2017, 3:00 pm

Ticketmaster's contract with the NFL ends in 2017.

Ticketmaster has a hold—at least officially—on National Football League (NFL) ticketing, both the primary and secondary markets. But signs point to a shifting of the landscape in the NFL’s secondary ticketing market with the five-year Ticketmaster agreement running out following the 2017 season. That expiration introduces the possibility of the NFL opening up the secondary market to all sorts of players. Or, they could simply choose someone different.

“It is a wait and see what the league says,” John Schriever, senior vice president of ticketing and event management for the Houston Texans, told Venues Today. “I don’t think it is imminent until the fall. The decision is months away.”

The NFL and Ticketmaster remain mum on the topic, with both entities declining comment to Venues Today and Ticketmaster stating it doesn’t comment on pending deals.

If a change does come to the secondary market, right now dubbed the NFL Ticket Exchange, it could account for some radical shifts for some clubs and potentially no change at all for others. Mark Arata, Mercedes-Benz Superdome box office manager, told Venues Today that for teams that own their own buildings, such as the Dallas Cowboys, not having an official league partner could open up other channels. But for publicly-owned buildings hosting a variety of tenants, the idea of switching providers doesn’t seem appealing.

“I think any team that owns their own stadium is going to look at what provides the most up-front money in order to change,” Arata said. “As much as I can despise Ticketmaster, changing isn’t something I can do easily with my 15 to 20 clients.”

If the NFL does allow teams to ink their own deals instead of signing on another league-wide partner—and don’t bet on that being the case as that would leave more money to individual teams through sponsorship deals and the NFL league office out of the mix—it may come down to which ticket exchange providers “back up the truck” with money. Arata said Ticketmaster usually wins those battles, but it doesn’t mean someone else can’t waltz in and write a bigger check.

“With teams that control their own venues, whoever provides the most financial incentives gives them a reason to switch,” he said. “It is hard to switch the system in a multiuse (venue). It is like herding cats.”

That said, don’t expect all that much to change for fans either way, as Arata said he notices many of the tickets into his venue have been posted on StubHub and other places “all the time.”

As teams also explore the digital, print-at-home and mobile opportunities of each of these providers, anyone wanting to dive into the NFL ticketing game will need to bring a wide range of capabilities to the table.

Schriever said he believes the Ticketmaster deal has worked well for him. The current platform provides an opportunity for fans to resell tickets, but still send data to the team about both the buyer and seller, an “important” aspect of the transaction. “It has worked out really well,” he said. “I am looking forward to what the next step is going to be.”

If the NFL does embrace an open platform option that invites multiple parties to get in on the ticket action, expect Ticketmaster and StubHub to get plenty of competition from Amazon and Veritix, which already has inroads in the league with the only non-Ticketmaster deal in the league (Detroit Lions for primary tickets). And the NFL may like that option as a way to glean more data from ticket buyers across multiple platforms.

Across the North American sports landscape, the National Basketball Association and National Hockey League already partner with Ticketmaster and Major League Baseball has a StubHub agreement. Major League Soccer last year signed a multiyear deal with SeatGeek that includes an open platform so that fans can resell tickets on any platform of their choice, but with the buying/selling data still getting transmitted back to the teams.

If the NFL follows a similar model in an effort to mine the data of its ticket buyers, the only thing that can rival data in importance is sponsorship dollars. A final decision on the NFL’s ticketing future will rest on those two components: data and dollars.


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Hot Tickets for June 14, 2017
 
Posted: 13 Jun 2017, 3:00 pm

Faith Hill and Tim McGraw, The Venitian, Las Vegas.

Tim McGraw and Faith Hill launched their Soul2Soul World Tour April 7, at the Smoothie King Center, New Orleans. This is the third co-headlining tour for McGraw and Hill who, when collaborating, are undeniably at their best. The iconic country music duo ranked on our Hot Tickets chart this week after performing to a packed house May 27, at the Moda Center, Portland, Ore., grossing nearly $1.2 million with ticket prices ranging from $70-$120. The real-life married couple will be celebrating their 21st wedding anniversary on the road shortly before wrapping up their world tour at the Barclays Center, Brooklyn, N.Y., Oct. 27.

For its third year in a row, bands such as Zapp, Chocolate Milk, The S.O.S Band, Slave and Evelyn Champagne King, performed at the 2017 OC Funk Fest, which kicked off the summer with some old school funk at the Pacific Amphitheatre, Costa Mesa, Calif., June 10. The Curious Entertainment-promoted event saw ticket prices ranging from $45-$200 and grossed over $500,000. The assembly of funk bands entertained a full house with their infectious grooves transporting their fans back to the 70s and 80s for the entire 11-hour event. Due to another successful year, plans for the 2018 OC Funk Fest are already in the works.
 

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 May 16-June 13.

15,001 or More Seats

10,001-15,000 Seats

5,001-10,000 Seats

5,000 or Fewer Seats

1) Enrique Iglesias, Pitbull
Gross Sales: $1,804,583; Venue: Staples Center, Los Angeles; Attendance: 14,523; Ticket Range: $189.95-$39.95; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: June 10; No. of Shows: 1

2) The Weeknd
Gross Sales: $1,404,912; Venue: Verizon Center, Washington; Attendance: 14,174; Ticket Range: $150-$39.50; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: May 18; No. of Shows: 1

3) Tim McGraw, Faith Hill
Gross Sales: $1,192,723; Venue: Rose Quarter, Portland, Ore.; Attendance: 12,758; Ticket Range: $119.50-$69.50; Promoter: Messina Touring Group; Dates: May 26; No. of Shows: 1

4) Eric Church
Gross Sales: $1,162,222; Venue: Greensboro (N.C.) Coliseum; Attendance: 20,313; Ticket Range: $85-$20; Promoter: Messina Touring Group, AEG Presents; Dates: May 20; No. of Shows: 1

5) Def Leppard
Gross Sales: $1,150,083; Venue: Rose Quarter, Portland, Ore.; Attendance: 12,182; Ticket Range: $139.50-$29.50; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: June 10; No. of Shows: 1

1) Dead & Company
Gross Sales: $1,052,921; Venue: MGM Grand Garden Arena, Las Vegas; Attendance: 10,258; Ticket Range: $150-$50; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: May 27; No. of Shows: 1

2) Elvis - The Wonder of You Tour
Gross Sales: $591,294; Venue: Perth (Australia) Arena; Attendance: 7,232; Ticket Range: $115.76-$62.38; Promoter: RCM Touring; Dates: May 26; No. of Shows: 1

3) WWE Raw
Gross Sales: $271,560; Venue: Van Andel Arena, Grand Rapids, Mich.; Attendance: 6,615; Ticket Range: $105-$20; Promoter: WWE; Dates: May 22; No. of Shows: 1

4) Broadway in London: Riverdance
Gross Sales: $157,822; Venue: Budweiser Gardens, London, Ontario; Attendance: 2,302; Ticket Range: $102.11-$47.41; Promoter: Innovation Arts & Entertainment; Dates: May 18; No. of Shows: 1

5) Daniel O'Donnell
Gross Sales: $125,892; Venue: Budweiser Gardens, London, Ontario; Attendance: 2,022; Ticket Range: $94.44-$44.95; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: May 28; No. of Shows: 1

1) Tool
Gross Sales: $755,705; Venue: EagleBank Arena, Fairfax, Va.; Attendance: 8,097; Ticket Range: $125-$92.50; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: May 24; No. of Shows: 1

2) OC Funk Fest
Gross Sales: $513,985; Venue: Pacific Amphitheatre, Costa Mesa, Calif.; Attendance: 7,116; Ticket Range: $200-$45; Promoter: Curious Entertainment; Dates: June 10; No. of Shows: 1

3) Camilo Sesto
Gross Sales: $373,997; Venue: Microsoft Theater, Los Angeles; Attendance: 5,930; Ticket Range: $249.50-$35; Promoter: Goldenvoice; Dates: June 2; No. of Shows: 1

4) Woman to Woman Tour
Gross Sales: $352,335; Venue: Microsoft Theater, Los Angeles; Attendance: 5,891; Ticket Range: $225.50-$52.50; Promoter: FKOA Presents; Dates: June 3; No. of Shows: 1

5) Ricky Gervais
Gross Sales: $332,131; Venue: The Theater at Madison Square Garden, New York; Attendance: 5,450; Ticket Range: $79.50-$50.50; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: May 21; No. of Shows: 1

1) Celine Dion
Gross Sales: $10,395,450; Venue: The Colosseum at Caesars Palace, Las Vegas; Attendance: 61,296; Ticket Range: $500-$55; Promoter: AEG Presents, Caesars Entertainment; Dates: May 9-June 3; No. of Shows: 9

2) The Phantom of the Opera
Gross Sales: $2,475,630; Venue: The Smith Center for the Performing Arts, Las Vegas; Attendance: 30,990; Ticket Range: $123-$25; Promoter: In-house; Dates: May 31-June 11; No. of Shows: 16

3) Rent
Gross Sales: $1,354,181; Venue: Orpheum Theatre, Minneapolis; Attendance: 18,321; Ticket Range: $135-$21; Promoter: Hennepin Theatre Trust, Broadway Across America; Dates: June 6-11; No. of Shows: 8

4) Steve Martin, Martin Short
Gross Sales: $680,115; Venue: Orpheum Theatre, Minneapolis; Attendance: 5,073; Ticket Range: $195-$75; Promoter: Hennepin Theatre Trust; Dates: May 18-19; No. of Shows: 2

5) Mamma Mia
Gross Sales: $594,584; Venue: Broward Center for the Performing Arts, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; Attendance: 8,769; Ticket Range: $75-$35; Promoter: In-house, Broadway Across America; Dates: May 19-21; No. of Shows: 5

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

 


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Congratulations 2017 Women of Influence winners!
 
Posted: 12 Jun 2017, 8:00 pm

Venues Today will feature their accomplishments in the July issue and present awards at our reception during IAVM VenueConnect in Nashville, Tenn.Tuesday, August 8, 2017 from 5:30-7:00pm at Music City Center.

Congratulations!

Kim Damron
President
Paciolan, Irvine, Calif.
Kim Damron’s recent promotion to president of Paciolan 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.

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 at 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.

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.

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.

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.

Thank you to our 2017 sponsors:

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Saunders New F&B GM at Duke Energy Center
 
Posted: 12 Jun 2017, 7:00 pm

06-14-17_Charles_Saunders_200x145.jpgCharles Saunders

Charles Saunders is the new General Manager, Spectra Food Services & Hospitality at the  750,000-sq.-ft. Duke Energy Convention Center, Cincinnati.

Saunders has held a number of  leadership roles in the hospitality industry, including the Four Seasons, Starwood, and Marriott where he served as director of food and beverage. Saunders also boasts international experience in food and beverage leadership having worked in Saudi Arabia, the Philippines, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. More recently, he finished a consulting assignment with the historic Strater Hotel, Durango, Colo. These positions called for him to introduce new dining concepts, increase food and beverage profitability, and manage international business relations.


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"Stadium" Unveils Programming
 
Posted: 12 Jun 2017, 7:00 pm

One of Stadium's broadcasting booths. (Photo courtesy: "Stadium")

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

A first-of-its-kind 24/7 multiplatform sports network around live and original programming is officially hitting the airwaves later this summer.

Stadium, which is a joint venture from Sinclair Broadcast Group (American Sports Network), Silver Chalice (Campus Insiders) and 120 Sports, was unveiled at Twitter’s Digital Content NewFronts presentation as part of the social platform’s new live- streaming initiatives. This week in Chicago, the companies provided more context around Stadium, which will include studio programming, classic games and on-demand highlights along with live collegiate events, thanks to Campus Insiders, all distributed across linear courtesy of Sinclair. Additionally, the 24/7 platform will appear live on Twitter as well.

The digital launch of Stadium is scheduled for late July while the linear broadcast will be sometime in August. It’s not only Silver Chalice and Sinclair that have an ownership stake in Stadium. So do the National Football League (NHL), Professional Golfers Association (PGA) Tour, Major League Baseball Advanced Media and Time, Inc.

“We’ve been spending our resources and spending our years building the next generation of sports media, relentlessly innovating but meticulously testing, planning, adjusting, chartering our course forward…Under the Stadium banner, we will continue to produce and launch world-class programming every single day of the year,” said Jason Coyle, President of Stadium.

“Stadium is smashing the limitations of the traditional distribution paradigm.”

Added Laura Britt, host of 120 Sports’ daily show The Rally, “When you think about traditional programming, we’re really going to break the boundaries of traditional programming with Stadium. We’re going to build off of companies that we’ve built in the past. We’re going to take aspects of those brands into the future with what Stadium will be. We’ve proven that we’re the landing spot for over-the-top sports content, and Stadium’s going to continue to be the landing spot for over-the-top sports content in the future.”

According to Tyler Jacobs, one of the hosts of Stadium’s NewFront, The Rally will be Stadium’s “signature show,” a three-hour live daily program separated into hour-long segments (6pm, 11pm and 1am EST). A mixture of highlights packages, live look-ins and viral videos combined with discussing the social conversation on Twitter will be focal points of the re-invited The Rally. As Britt and Jacobs explained, Twitter will play a key role in the show as fans’ Tweets could potentially create stand-alone segments to help drive the sports conversation. The show previously fell under 120 Sports, but going forward, will be rolled under the Stadium brand as the 120 Sports name will no longer be utilized.

Opinionated segments will be part of Stadium and The Rally, but as Britt suggested, it won’t be an Embrace Debate format viewers have grown accustomed to on other sports networks like ESPN and FOX Sports 1.

“When you think about the direction that our business is going, you see all of these opinion shows,” she said. “Everybody is screaming at each other and yelling at each other, which sometimes you just got to mute that. We’re going to have that, some of the time, but we’re also going to provide all of this other content so you’re not just watching people scream at each other and muting the television or your device, whatever that may be.”

A Monday through Friday 30-minute live NFL show will also be part of Stadium. The show, which currently doesn’t have an official name, will feature contributors from Monday Morning Quarterback/Sports Illustrated in addition to interviews with current and former players, among other elements.

Through Campus Insiders, a 30-minute live daily program (Monday-Friday) around college and high school sports will air on Stadium, too. Sinclair has access to hundreds of sports desks around the nation, and as a result, will provide Stadium additional layers of recruiting news, local coverage and deeper behind-the-scenes information, according to Britt.

Included will be 3,000-plus live college events such as football (100-plus), basketball (400-plus), lacrosse and volleyball from the Mountain West, Conference USA, Patriot League and others.

 


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OVG Announces VenuesNow Conference
 
Posted: 12 Jun 2017, 4:00 pm

BEVERLY HILLS – JUNE 6, 2017 – Oak View Group (OVG) today announced the launch of VenuesNow, a next-level consortium for the sports and live entertainment industry, that will debut July 12-14 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, Calif.

This three-day conference will focus on venue-centric content related specifically to sports, entertainment events, technology, event safety, concessions, ticketing, operations, and programming. This year’s conference will be invite-only, consisting of arena operators throughout North America including executives from major sports leagues and entertainment facilities.

“Our intent is to host a conference unlike any in our industry, focusing on innovation and positive disruption in the venue space through premier content, technology, security, branding and sponsorships, fan engagement, and the presentation of sports and live entertainment,” said Tim Leiweke, CEO, Oak View Group. “The speakers and presenters at VenuesNow will be an elite group of thought leaders and visionaries across this dynamic industry, and we look forward to three days of compelling content and candid discussion about the myriad of opportunities and challenges that face our industry.”

"If we weren't going to do something completely different and game-changing, we would not be entering the industry conference space," added OVG board member Irving Azoff, chairman/CEO, Azoff MSG Entertainment. "We have set the bar very high and the VenuesNow conference will be an elite event that moves the industry forward. VenuesNow is the conference even I would attend."

Panel topics include “Four Tech Trends Venues Should Know About,” “The New Paradigm in Event Safety,” “Blurred Lines: Music Meets Sports, Fans Rejoice,” and “The Art of the Enhanced Experience,” among other sessions and keynotes featuring agents, team executives, tech entrepreneurs, managers, promoters, brand and marketing professionals, venue operators, event producers, and more. The conference also includes several networking opportunities including breakout sessions, lunches and cocktail receptions.

"Playing a role in programming the first VenuesNow conference is one of the most exciting projects of my career, and tapping into the melding of the sports and live entertainment worlds where they converge—at the venue—will change the way people think about industry events," said Ray Waddell, President Conferences & Publications, at OVG. "From the earliest planning stages, Tim and Irving made it very clear they were seeking only the most dynamic content, presented by insightful, out-of-the-box thinkers who continue to make a mark on this industry and our culture."

For more information on VenuesNow please visit here. For more information on OVG, please visit here.

ABOUT OAK VIEW GROUP:
Oak View Group (OVG) is a global advisory, development and investment company for the sports and live entertainment industries.  Based in Los Angeles, OVG is helmed by its CEO Tim Leiweke and backed by Azoff MSG Entertainment. OVG comprises of a sponsorship/partnership company, a consulting division, a venue security company, a media division, a venture fund/equity division and an Arena Alliance. The Arena Alliance is designed to serve a select group of  leading facilities with access to unprecedented scale and resources through sponsorship optimization, untapped revenue streams, insights and access to premier sports and live entertainment content.

 


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Perennial Family Show ‘Commences’
 
Posted: 7 Jun 2017, 9:00 pm

June is graduation month for venues across the country and these four grads from Clover Park were part of hordes of students who walked the stage at Tacoma (Wash.) Dome.

With 55,000 people attending 11 high school graduation ceremonies at the new Smart Financial Center, Sugar Land, Texas, last weekend, the 6,400-seat arena added significantly to its exposure in the growing market.

High school and college commencements are bread and butter to most venues, helping to brand a building, build awareness and serve the communities in which they thrive.

Graduate_Every_Child300.jpgThe flags waving from the roof of the dome herald 'Graduate Every Child."

The Tacoma (Wash.) Dome has built that business from four graduations when it opened in 1984, to 22 high school and five college graduations, 27 total, in the month of June, said Kim Bedier, director of facilities for the city of Tacoma. About 90,000 people will trek to the building to celebrate, creating good memories and strong future potential among generations of fans.

At Allen County War Memorial Arena, Ft. Wayne, Ind., 20 commencements (college and high school) take place, 10 of them in June drawing 35,000 people, said Randy Brown, director there.

In mature markets like Tacoma and Ft. Wayne, they have maxed out on what they can do. The general rule of thumb is to keep it simple and keep it moving. For college commencements, Brown will open some concessions stands, but the ceremonies are kept to an hour and, with two arenas under one roof, they will book back-to-back commencements with school officials jumping from one to another. Rental is kept low and parking is minimal.

Bedier said Tacoma also has it down to a science. Several years ago, they introduced a turnkey production system so every school has access to the same sound, light and audio visual equipment and can put on a first-class production while the operations staff does not have to do conversions. The cost is amortized across all the school districts.

Last year, Tacoma added magnetometers and bag checks for commencements. Ft. Wayne has not had to do that yet.

Tacoma also opens its concessions stands, selling quite a bit of water and popcorn, Bedier said. Vendors also bring in leis, which are a graduation tradition and sell very well, she added.

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Vendors sell leis to graduates outside the Tacoma Dome, a local tradition.

“Tacoma Dome was built as a huge community project. This keeps us part of the community,” Bedier said. Hundreds of thousands of people have walked the stage at Tacoma Dome since 1984, creating generations of future fans.

Mike McGee, consultant at Smart Financial Center, which is managed by Randy Bloom, said it can be logistically challenging to put so many graduates through a small theater, but it went off like clockwork. They worked with Fort Bend County to book the commencements and to give that school district a more focused identity.

To accommodate the constant turnover – five on Friday and six on Saturday – Smart Financial Center presold all the parking. Schools distributed up to eight tickets per student and they had to have a student ID to get those tickets. They also encouraged the schools to set up shuttle buses and, over the two days, 350 busloads of parents and relatives arrived at Smart Financial Center.

“It’s gone like clockwork,” McGee said. “We had 6,000 here at 8 a.m., 6,000 at 11:30 a.m., 4,200 at 1 p.m., 6,000 and 3 p.m. and will have another 6,000 at 6 p.m.”

sugarland600.jpgThis scene was repeated five or six times a day at Smart Financial Center, Sugar Land, Texas.

Concessions were not opened because there would not be enough time to clean and stock them between events.

Most venue managers look to break even on commencements. The real allure is in the exposure and community service components.

“We’ve been open 16 weeks and have put 225,000 people through the building,” McGee said. “This showcases the building and creates a dynamic for us to get good publicity. We’ve seen good reports on social media.”


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SMG To Manage New Shenzhen Venue
 
Posted: 7 Jun 2017, 9:00 pm

A rendering of the interior of the planned Shenzhen World Exhibition & Convention Center.

In its first footprint in China since consulting during the Beijing Olympics, SMG has secured the management contract for Shenzhen World Exhibition & Convention Center, the first phase of which is slated to open in 2019.

The agreement is a milestone in SMG’s 40-year history in that it is set to become one of the largest convention centers in the world at 4.3 million sq. ft. of exhibition space under roof, noted Gregg Caren, SMG EVP, Convention Center. It will be the company’s new flagship venue in China’s growing trade show market and will be a showcase for expanding SMG’s international business.

SMG is working with China Merchants Shekou Holdings (CMSK) and OCT Group, the two Chinese companies that came together to win the bid from the Shenzhen Municipal Government to build the exhibition and convention center. It is the centerpiece of a new Central Business District they are also building, Caren explained.

Shenzhen is a port city with a population of 15 million and also has a thriving financial district, the Silicon Valley of China, Caren described. “My iPhone, probably yours, comes from Shenzhen.”

The new venue, which will be located near the Shenzhen International Airport, will anchor a new business and lifestyle district, featuring numerous hotel and commercial projects, including a retail and entertainment complex. The convention center development team is building the entire district, a right they won over three other groups bidding to do so.

The design of Shenzhen World calls for 4.3 million square feet of exhibition space and another 500,000 square feet of flexible convention and meeting space. The venue will be roughly twice the size of McCormick Place in Chicago, the largest exhibition and meeting facility in North America. SMG has managed McCormick Place since 2011.

The architects on the project are the renowned French firms Valode & Pistre and AUBE. The industry advisor to the Shenzhen government is JWC out of Germany.

Shenzhen600.jpg

The new Shenzhen Convention Center is part of a $4 billion land development deal.

Wes Westley, CEO of SMG, said in a statement: “While we have entertained many inquiries from China in recent years, we were waiting for the right project and partner and believe we have found both in Shenzhen. As we expand our global footprint, this agreement will propel our international growth strategy.”

Tracey Short is on the ground in Shenzhen for SMG and is currently staffing SMG’s China Corporate Office there, Caren said. The search for a permanent GM will begin immediately. Caren estimated it will take another six weeks to formalize the memorandum of understanding that currently exists.

Short said the management appointment is for a two-year preopening period and a 10-year management term.

The group which includes SMG was one of four State-Owned Enterprises (SOE) that bid on the project. Scoring included 25-30 points for the management component, along with points for the overall development plan and financing plan.

The project broke ground in September 2016, and the first phase is targeted for completion in the first quarter of 2019.
 


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DeLuco To Be Moncton, Canada's, First GM
 
Posted: 7 Jun 2017, 7:30 pm

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Nick DeLuco

SMG Canada has named Nick DeLuco the first GM of the still-under-construction Moncton (New Brunswick) Downtown Centre. The 8,500-seat downtown event center is scheduled to open in September of 2018.

During the past decade, DeLuco has transitioned from box office manager to marketing to management. DeLuco most recently worked as AGM for the SMG-managed Rogers K-Rock Centre, Kingston, Ontario, Canada. DeLuco has also held roles with the SMG-managed Hershey Centre, Mississauga, Ontario, Canada, and worked with the City of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, Canada, during the opening of their sports and entertainment venue in 2006.

DeLuco is a graduate of the Brock University Sport Management program, St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada.

 


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Lausanne Contracts with AEG Facilities
 
Posted: 7 Jun 2017, 7:00 pm

Lausanne (Switzerland) Hockey Club has retained AEG Facilities in a 10-year deal to manage their new state-of-the-art arena in Lausanne, a city which is also home to the International Olympic Federation and various other national and Olympic sports federations.

In addition, it is a market that has never had a big arena designed to host international tours, effectively creating a new market in the heart of Europe, said Bob Newman, AEG Facilities president. “It’s a new gateway market.”

The new 11,500-seat arena is set to open in Summer 2019. The city-owned venue will be home to the Lausanne Hockey Club Lions.

A temporary venue is being erected by NUSSLI to house the team during the two-year construction period. Newman explained they will open the temporary venue, tear down the existing 9,000-seat, 1984-era arena, build the new arena on that same footprint and then tear down the temporary venue. He added that the temporary building is modular construction, but quite substantial and adequate for the next two seasons. It would have no future use, though, as the new arena is part of a sports complex, to include several ice rinks, a badminton club and other health and fitness enterprises, some of which already exist.

The deal was not the result of a bid process, Newman said. AEG Facilities already had a relationship with the Lausanne Hockey Club, including its president Sacha Weibel. Richard Krezwick, SVP, AEG Facilities, who is based in London, will oversee the project. A GM is to be named.

AEG Facilities will also design the overall grand opening plan for the new Lausanne arena, which is to include first-class premium seating and four special seating configurations that will accommodate events ranging from 4,000 to 11,500.

On the books is the 2020 Youth Olympic Games, which will be held in Lausanne for the first time in the new arena. The proximity of so many sports federations and the International Olympic Federation bodes well for sports bookings, but the arena also fills a void in the concert market. “It’s right-sized for events,” Newman said. “Shows had been passing by with no place to stop.” He noted it is just 210 kilometers from Leon and 550 kilometers from Paris and routes well from Milan or Zurich.

UNESCO is also housed in Lausanne and major corporations have a significant office presence there, Newman said.

In Europe, AEG already owns or operates a network of arenas that include The O2 (London), Mercedes-Benz Arena (Berlin), AccorHotels Arena (Paris), The SSE Hydro (Glasgow), Barclaycard Arena (Hamburg), Friends Arena, Tela2 Arena and Ericson Globe (Stockholm) and Stadio Della Roma (Rome), the planned new stadium home of FC Roma.


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Seattle's KeyArena Goes To OVG
 
Posted: 7 Jun 2017, 7:00 pm

Rendering of the exterior of the soon-to-be renovated KeyArena, Seattle, which was awarded to Oak View Group. (Rendering courtesy: Oak View Group)

Today, June 7, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray announced his decision to award the
contract to rebuild 55-year-old KeyArena to Oak View Group (OVG). Joining the mayor in his announcement were Oak View Group principals Tim Leiweke and Irving Azoff and Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino.

“Today the mayor officially announced that Oak View Group will be our preferred partner to renovate KeyArena,” said Brian Surratt, director of the Seattle Economic Office of Development. “We hope to have a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with OVG by the end of this year.”

Surratt said negotiations with OVG will commence in the next few weeks. “We’re going to have to work very hard to get it all done by the end of the year,” he said.

Oak View Group will then have to go through the entitlement process and procure necessary permits. Once that’s completed, another agreement, much more detailed than the MOU, which will include the development and lease agreement, will have to be put in place. “The new document will spell out the long-term operating relationship between the city and OVG,” said Surratt.

Surratt did not want to speculate on when ground would be broken but did offer that “conservatively it’s three to five years before completion of the new KeyArena.”

At the press conference, Leiweke said the tentative plan would be to start construction after the 2019 NCAA (National Collegiate Athletics Association) men's basketball tournament games at KeyArena, with the hope of opening in 2021.

The two primary reasons that Oak View Group’s bid was selected over the only other bid, put forward by Seattle Partners, an alliance between venue-giant Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG) and Hudson Pacific Properties, were the design of the building and the finance package.

“The people evaluating the proposals felt the OVG design was the more compelling,” said Surratt. “The design will stand the test of time and maximize the flexibility for future uses and changes.”

Surratt said that OVG’s financial package that sourced outside investment and didn’t require city money was also a big plus for the evaluating committee. “Their bringing in private dollars was a huge factor,” he said.

At the mayor’s press conference, Leiweke revealed new details about how the $564-million, privately-funded renovation would be financed.

Joining previously announced investors Goldman Sachs, who have pledged $350 million in financing and guaranteed up to $400 million, Madison Square Garden Entertainment, who have promised $150 million and concert-promoter Live Nation, will be billionaire David Bonderman and Hollywood super-producer Jerry Bruckheimer, with the last three not disclosing their financial participation.

It is hoped that OVG can lure National Basketball Association (NBA) and National Hockey League (NHL) teams to Seattle but all have committed to the project without any assurances from either sports league.

"We're listening to what we're told,” said Leiweke at the press conference. “Let me emphasize that. It's been nine years since Seattle had its heart stolen, so when the Sonics moved this has been a chase ever since. We've listened to the commissioners, we know what they are saying, we know how they feel about expansion, we know what the opportunities are out there and we're going to follow the lead of the commissioners. I would say the first shot that is most likely to happen is an NHL team."

OVG has already committed to partnering with concessionaire Delaware North on the KeyArena project, whose chairman Jeremy Jacobs is also the owner of the Boston Bruins. Vancouver Canucks owner Francesco Aquilini was in attendance at the press conference and acknowledged the league's interest in Seattle. He later said, "It's a very strong desire (to bring an NHL team to Seattle). I don't think there is anybody opposed to it."

Screen_Shot_2017-06-07_at_3.18_.54_PM_1.pngRendering of Oak View Group's proposed interior of KeyArena, Seattle. (Rendering courtesy: Oak View Group)

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. 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  previously announced that it brought in Populous and ICON to design and build the arena, and part of their proposal highlighted that their plan would save the iconic roof structure. They will also introduce a revolutionary two-scoreboard system, one sitting over each end of the arena. 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.

The selection of OVG was made Friday, June 2. Surratt said he and the city were surprised, then, by a letter they received from Seattle Partners on Sunday saying the entity was pulling out of the competition. “We had zero indication Seattle Partners was pulling out until after they lost the bid,” said Surratt.

In their letter, dated May June 4, Seattle Partners’ Bob Newman, president, AEG Facilities and Alex Vouvalides, chief investment officer, Hudson Pacific Properties, wrote:

“We are writing to inform you that Seattle Partners must regretfully withdraw our bid to redesign and renovate KeyArena.

"We remain firm in the belief that our proposal best serves the people of Seattle, but, unfortunately, significant factors through the bidding process have eroded our confidence in the ultimate execution of this project, no matter which group is selected. We fear the City is driving toward an unrealistic financing structure, and we believe the City has failed to conduct a sufficiently thorough, objective and transparent process to properly evaluate the respective strengths and weaknesses of the two proposals and, most significantly, to identify the proposal best positioned to deliver a project consistent with the community’s interests.

"The people of Seattle deserve a world-class sports and entertainment venue capable of bringing back NBA and NHL teams. We have engaged earnestly in a process that we had hoped would be relentless in its pursuit of that objective, and we put forward a proposal we believed most certain to deliver a successful completed project that would attract professional basketball and hockey teams.

"Notwithstanding our confidence in the merits of our proposal, over the past two months, Seattle Partners has actively sought feedback from community leaders, City staff and members of the City’s Community Advisory Council, and, in response, we have explored improvements to our proposal. However, consistent with a general lack of active engagement through this evaluation process, the City declined to seek improved terms, refusing requests from us and others to call for a “best and final” offer from both bidders. We have seen little indication of the collaborative and iterative process we were told to expect and is typical of such requests for proposals.

"In addition, the City’s decision to withhold critical financial portions of Oak View Group’s proposal from the public, while releasing the financial details of our proposal with our full support, raises serious questions about the integrity of the decision-making process and the ability of the public to make a fair and equitable comparison.

"Despite the lack of transparency, we are generally familiar with Oak View Group’s proposal, including changes to it that have been conveyed via media accounts and otherwise. Based on our experience, we have strong reservations about whether that proposal can be successfully achieved consistent with the City’s best interests. If the City elects to proceed with that remaining proposal, to protect the public interests of Seattle, it is imperative that you closely and diligently monitor the process to ensure that Oak View Group is held accountable for all elements of what it has very publicly promised to the citizens of Seattle.

"Seattle Partners remains deeply committed to this great city, and we thank the countless civic leaders who offered helpful input and partnership on our proposal. We wish the City the best of luck in its pursuit of an arena project that can provide what the region’s passionate sports fans deserve – to see the Sonics and professional hockey return to the Emerald City.”

Regardless of Seattle Partner’s letter, Surratt said the city couldn’t be happier with their decision and the process.

“We are very excited to have selected Oak View Group as our partner,” said Surratt. “We believe Oak View Group will build a world-class arena that attracts NBA and NHL and world-class entertainment opportunities and we’re excited about moving forward and the next steps.”

KeyArena opened its doors in 1962 and was last renovated in 1995. It’s the former home of the SuperSonics and currently home to Women’s National Basketball Associations’ Seattle Storm and hosts dozens of live events and concerts every year.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   

 

 


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San Diego Fair Embraces Western Roots
 
Posted: 7 Jun 2017, 6:00 pm

The entrance to San Diego County Fair's Western-themed 2017 fair, held in Del Mar, Calif. (VT Staff)

REPORTING FROM DEL MAR, Calif. —“Where The West Is Fun” is this year’s theme at San Diego County Fair, Del Mar, Calif., harkening to its origins as an agricultural fair in 1880. The location moved from place to place for several years, finally settling on the Del Mar Fairgrounds in 1936. The fair will be open for 26 days, spread over five weekends, from June 2 through July 4.

“We are the longest running fair in North America,” said Tim Fennell, CEO, San Diego County Fair, “and the largest in California.” Fennell was excited by the Western theme and predicts it will be as big a hit as last year’s “Mad About The Fair," an Alice in Wonderland meets Steampunk theme that broke attendance records with 1.6 million attendees.

IMG_9626.JPGAn exhibit in the Western Exhibit Hall at San Diego County Fair, Del Mar, Calif.

New this year, tying in with the theme, is a Western Exhibit Hall, several weekends of rodeo, country music, Frontier Town, a Wild West-themed space that will feature cowboy stunt shows and even an 1800’s-style gold rush hidden speakeasy.

“We’ve got Toby Keith, Darius Rucker, LeAnn Rimes and Jeff Foxworthy,” said Fennell about his all-star western lineup. For the nonwestern music-lover, Fennell said Patti LaBelle, Styx, Grand Funk Railroad and Peter Cetera are all booked.

New food will include bacon-wrapped cactus, asparagus and Brussels sprouts at concessionaire Bacon Affair, crispy cream chicken ice cream sandwiches, deep fried octopus and zucchini, crispy jalapeño cream cheese poppers, double cheddar cheese smoked bacon and peanut butter meatballs at Chicken Charlie’s. The popular cost-saving coupon book full of concession discounts is also back this year.

The secret speakeasy, called The Jade Peacock, can only be accessed by invitation. “The only way to get in is to go to one of three or four specific bars like The Painted Pony, Spurs Spirits or the Into The Sunset Bar and get an invitation,” said Fennell, sneakily.

IMG_96391.JPG

"Belle" and "Miss Kitty" (their real names are secret, just like the bar) serve special Western cocktails at The Jade Peacock speakeasy at San Diego County Fair, Del Mar, Calif.

“On the card is a secret password that will change every day,” he said. The card will instruct the guest where to go meet an escort who will take them through a tunnel to the hidden bar, modeled after an old-time Speakeasy. The bar only holds 40-50 patrons at a time, serves special themed cocktails and will only be open during special hours.

Flying U Rodeo, an “extreme rodeo” is booked June 10 and 11, the highlight of which is a “bull jumper." There will also be “Bull Poker” where cowboys play poker at a card table and the last cowboy sitting at the table as a bull is rampaging around, is the winner. The version on the 11th will be a Fiesta Del Charro and have a Hispanic twist.

IMG_9620.JPG

An exhibit in the Western Exhibit Hall at San Diego County Fair, Del Mar, Calif.

“Our fair is so big we have festivals inside the festival,” said Fennell. “We have a beer festival; we have a wine festival; we have a spirit festival; we have a gospel festival, we have a mariachi festival, we have an Asian festival and we have the LGBTQ-event, Out At The Fair.”

Admission to the fair is $18.  Children and seniors are $11. Kids five-and-under get in free. June 27 is Kids Day and all kids 12-and-under will get in free. An all-access pass for $26 will get a fair-fan in all 26 days.

Over 80 “thrilling rides” will be running every day. There are special Wristband Days on Wednesdays and Thursdays, the 7th and 8th, 14th and 15th and the 21st and 22nd of June that will allow access to all the rides, the cost is $38. On Saturdays and Sundays, the 3rd, 4th, 10th and 11th of June, all-access wristbands can be purchased online and will be good from 12pm to 8pm. “The idea is to push attendance on certain days,” explained Fennell about why the wristbands would not be available every day.

Fennell predicts beating last year’s attendance record. To help get there, Fennell and his team arranged Wild Western Wednesday, a block party on May 24 in San Diego’s Gaslight District with country and western bands and “Into The Sunset beer brewed just for the fair,” said Fennell.

At the event, the Mayor of San Diego announced a two and a half-mile cattle drive that took place June 3. “Over 200 head of cattle and 50 riders drove cows in front of the convention center, across the railroad tracks, right up 5th Avenue, down Market Street and back down where it started. It’s the first time in 200 years they’ve had a cattle drive down the streets of downtown San Diego,” said Fennell.

Arranging the cattle drive was not easy. “Our permits have to have permits,” joked Fennell. “Just to cross the railroad tracks involved multiple agencies, shop owners and meeting upon meeting upon meeting.” Fennell said that the novel event attracted national coverage.

“We welcome everybody at the fair,” said Fennell. “We expect people from not only the county but from all over the country.”

 


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Hot Tickets for June 7, 2017
 
Posted: 6 Jun 2017, 7:00 pm

Chris Brown flying high at Honda Center, Anaheim, Calif.

Promoting his anticipated new album “Heartbreak On A Full Moon,” Chris Brown wrapped up his two-month Party tour May 23, but not before making a stop on our Hot Tickets chart with a performance at the MGM Grand Garden Arena, Las Vegas, May 20. Despite a turbulent relationship with the media over the past few years, he mesmerized the 8,100 fans with his Michael Jackson-like dance moves, aerial acrobatics and high-energy choreography. Fabolous, O.T. Genasis and Kap G also joined the Grammy award-winning artist onstage. The Live Nation-promoted show grossed over $600,000 with ticket prices ranging from $40-$250.

Shawn Mendes, the 18-year-old Canadian heartthrob, kicked off the Illuminate World Tour April 27, at The SSE Hydro, Glasgow, Scotland. This is the third tour for Mendez, as well as his first all-arena tour, which includes 21 shows in Europe and 29 North American shows. The singer-songwriter popped up on our chart this week after attracting a near-capacity crowd and grossing over $800,000 at Hallenstadion, Zurich, Switzerland, May 14. North American fans can catch up with Mendes on July 6, at the Moda Center, Portland, Ore.

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 May 9-June 6.

15,001 or More Seats

10,001-15,000 Seats

5,001-10,000 Seats

5,000 or Fewer Seats

1) Eric Church
Gross Sales: $2,524,286; Venue: Bridgestone Arena, Nashville, Tenn.; Attendance: 38,016; Ticket Range: $89-$20; Promoter: Messina Touring Group, AEG Presents; Dates: May 26-27; No. of Shows: 2

2) Gloria Trevi vs Alejandra Guzman
Gross Sales: $2,158,649; Venue: Staples Center, Los Angeles; Attendance: 26,269; Ticket Range: $149-$35; Promoter: Goldenvoice; Dates: June 3-4; No. of Shows: 2

3) Green Day
Gross Sales: $1,806,454; Venue: Qudos Bank Arena, Sydney; Attendance: 19,328; Ticket Range: $113.29-$59.13; Promoter: Frontier Touring ; Dates: May 10-11; No. of Shows: 2

4) John Mayer
Gross Sales: $1,741,053; Venue: The O2 Arena, London; Attendance: 30,709; Ticket Range: $59.60-$49.88; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: May 11-12; No. of Shows: 2

5) The Weeknd
Gross Sales: $1,438,010; Venue: Bell Centre, Montreal; Attendance: 16,203; Ticket Range: $129.97-$29.34; Promoter: evenko, Live Nation, Greenland; Dates: May 30; No. of Shows: 1

1) Bruno Mars
Gross Sales: $1,411,755; Venue: Hallenstadion, Zurich; Attendance: 13,700; Ticket Range: $151.66-$89.72; Promoter: Act Entertainment AG; Dates: May 12; No. of Shows: 1

2) The xx
Gross Sales: $1,290,747; Venue: Forest Hills Stadium, Queens, N.Y.; Attendance: 21,627; Ticket Range: $90-$29.50; Promoter: Madison House Presents, AEG Presents, Tie Breaker Productions; Dates: May 19-20; No. of Shows: 2

3) Dead & Company
Gross Sales: $1,052,921; Venue: MGM Grand Garden Arena, Las Vegas; Attendance: 10,258; Ticket Range: $150-$50; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: May 27; No. of Shows: 1

4) Shawn Mendes
Gross Sales: $827,488; Venue: Hallenstadion, Zurich; Attendance: 12,063; Ticket Range: $114.12-$95.94; Promoter: abc Production AG; Dates: May 14; No. of Shows: 1

5) Chris Brown
Gross Sales: $626,473; Venue: MGM Grand Garden Arena, Las Vegas; Attendance: 8,138; Ticket Range: $249.95-$39.95; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: May 20; No. of Shows: 1

1) Cher
Gross Sales: $5,556,950; Venue: Park Theater at Monte Carlo, Las Vegas; Attendance: 37,734; Ticket Range: $475-$60; Promoter: AEG Presents, MRES; Dates: May 3-20; No. of Shows: 9

2) Jennifer Lopez
Gross Sales: $2,379,225; Venue: The Axis at Planet Hollywood, Las Vegas; Attendance: 12,037; Ticket Range: $412-$54; Promoter: Caesars Entertainment, Live Nation; Dates: May 24-27; No. of Shows: 3

3) Britney Spears
Gross Sales: $2,122,291; Venue: The Axis at Planet Hollywood, Las Vegas; Attendance: 13,263; Ticket Range: $495-$54; Promoter: Caesars Entertainment; Dates: May 17-20; No. of Shows: 3

4) Britney Spears
Gross Sales: $1,764,300; Venue: The Axis at Planet Hollywood, Las Vegas; Attendance: 11,619; Ticket Range: $495-$54; Promoter: Caesars Entertainment; Dates: May 10-13; No. of Shows: 3

5) Jason Aldean
Gross Sales: $1,200,520; Venue: Mohegan Sun Arena, Uncasville, Conn.; Attendance: 13,929; Ticket Range: $99-$79; Promoter: In-house, WME ; Dates: May 19-20; No. of Shows: 2

1) Wicked
Gross Sales: $9,447,195; Venue: Orpheum Theatre, Minneapolis; Attendance: 100,238; Ticket Range: $195-$25; Promoter: Hennepin Theatre Trust, Broadway Across America; Dates: April 12-May 14; No. of Shows: 40

2) Journey
Gross Sales: $3,027,948; Venue: The Joint, Las Vegas; Attendance: 24,393; Ticket Range: $300-$59.50; Promoter: AEG Presents, Hard Rock Hotel and Casino; Dates: May 3-20; No. of Shows: 9

3) Finding Neverland
Gross Sales: $1,281,311; Venue: Durham (N.C.) Performing Arts Center; Attendance: 20,447; Ticket Range: $177.15-$48.15; Promoter: PFM, Nederlander Presentations (New York), FNL Touring; Dates: May 23-28; No. of Shows: 8

4) Finding Neverland
Gross Sales: $957,953; Venue: David A. Straz, Jr. Center for the Performing Arts, Tampa, Fla.; Attendance: 16,184; Ticket Range: $83-$40; Promoter: In-house; Dates: May 30-June 4; No. of Shows: 8

5) The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
Gross Sales: $807,040; Venue: Des Moines (Iowa) Civic Center; Attendance: 13,615; Ticket Range: $99.50-$31.50; Promoter: In-house; Dates: May 18-21; No. of Shows: 8

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

 


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Renamed Jeunesse Arena Opens In Rio
 
Posted: 6 Jun 2017, 6:25 pm

Exterior of the renamed, revamped Jeunesse Arena, Barra da Tijuca, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

American cosmetics company Jeunesse has won the naming rights at what was previously HSBC Arena, a former 2016 Olympic venue, located in the region of Barra da Tijuca, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, the largest indoor arena in the country.

The 14,981-capacity sports and 18,768-capacity concert venue was completed in July 2007 and was first known as Arena Olímpica do Rio. In addition to the new name, the arena has made improvements.

“It’s a three-year deal,” said Scott Lewis, chief visionary officer, Jeunesse. “The deal also includes several external and internal brand activation opportunities.”

Part of the deal is for Jeunesse to hold two events in the arena each year for their distributors and sales representatives. When Jeunesse is not taking tenancy, Lewis said that Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) will hold events and concerts planned include Ed Sheeran, Ariana Grande and John Mayer. Disney on Ice is also scheduled.

“Holding two events in your own branded arena is pretty special,” said Lewis. “We see tremendous growth in the region and taking our brand to a mainstream level and have thousands of people coming through and creating the brand awareness and equity has tremendous value for us.”

In addition, in a unique arrangement, Jeunesse customers will be able to pick up their products at a dedicated space inside the arena. “This will save us shipping fees, and our customers four to five days to get their products,” he said.

The arena has been through improvements such as the installation of new access ramps and the restoration of the facade, which has received Jeunesse's institutional colors, said Silvia Albuquerque, managing director, GL Events, a French multinational that manages the venue.

“We are located inside the Olympic Park,” said Albuquerque. “The Olympic summer games offered the arena a broad urban integration plan, the entire environment was revitalized and valued.”

Albuquerque said that the arena benefited greatly from improvements to the Barra da Tijuca neighborhood before the Olympics touched ground. Four- and five-star hotels like Mercure, Ibis, Meriot, Novohotel, Sheraton, Hyatt, Hilton, Windsor and Melia opened, and today the neighborhood has more than 12,000 rooms, 2,000 of them in a radius of 4 km of the Sand River.

Two public transport stations were built in front of the venue and the main access roads were duplicated. This means that now the arena is interconnected with much of the city. The roads around the arena have also undergone changes, facilitating  public access.

The arena was used six months for the 2016 Olympic Games, she said, citing events such as assembly, event testing, Olympic Games, Paralympic Games and disassembly.

The arena expects to hold 85 events in 2017, and Albuquerque said that they are currently in negotiations with “great sports clubs such as basketball and volleyball” that will run alongside current sports tenants jiujitsu and UFC. This year, the arena hosted two of the largest concert events in Brazil: Festa das Patroas's and Wesley Safadão's concerts, two highly popular events.

Jeunesse is also on the eSports bandwagon, hosting the League of Legends championship.

Food & beverage sales have nearly doubled from 2015 to 2017, said Albuquerque.

Security is just as much a hot-button issue in Latin America as in North America and Europe. Albuquerque said that GL Events, which manages 37 venues, spread over 56 countries, has a long history with safety. “At the arena, individual security check is mandatory,” she said. “All accesses are secured by highly trained security staff, which is able to act in emergency situations.” The venue also counts on fire brigade agents. A two-minute video with safety instructions is transmitted before every event begins.

Speaking to the Jeunesse ‘store,' Albuquerque said that she doesn’t expect any interference in normal day-to-day operation of the venue. “Jeunesse's pickup service is going to be available from Monday to Friday, in business hours, in an outdoor area, next to the arena, with independent access,” she said. “GL Events has wide experience in managing businesses regardless of the events being held in its premises. And we have a school on the premises, which operates daily with 180 children, without impacting our operation.”

Visit Jeunesse Arena here

Visit GL Events here


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Dodge Center Opens
 
Posted: 6 Jun 2017, 4:00 pm

Charles F. Dodge Center, Pembroke Pines, Fla., opened April 19.

A newly built, four story, multiuse facility and civic center in Pembroke Pines, Fla., opened two months ago, bringing a much needed —  and wanted — venue to the city that houses 164,000 people.

The $56 million Charles F. Dodge Center unveiled itself to the community April 19, and has since hosted shows, including Queen, DRUMLine Live! and performances by Kool & The Gang.

“We are very excited,” said Steve Clark, general manager there for SMG. “We have three major shows under our belt, so we’re still tweaking everything.”

The 175,000-sq.-ft. venue has retractable seating, a great hall that can accommodate 3,200 guests in a “theater style” setting.

The seating also can fit 2,400 for concerts, go down to 1,300 for classroom-style seating and can even be configured into 1,120-capacity for banquet-style seating.

The center is managed by SMG, adding to the facility management company’s long list of venues it manages in Florida.

“Leveraging their long-standing success and market knowledge at the Broward County Greater Ft. Lauderdale Convention Center, SMG has teamed with the Broward Center for the Performing Arts – recognized nationally for its leadership in arts and entertainment as well as its innovative approaches to community engagement,” stated the press release.

Economic development continues to boom in Pembroke Pines, especially in downtown where a 127-room Fairfield Inn by Marriott opened in 2015. A new 40,000 sq.-ft. movie theater is also gracing the city.

Adding a new civic center and arts center, especially now, with the great economic climate, made sense. “It’s our beautiful downtown civic center that we’ve been looking at for 15 years,” said Pembroke Pines Mayor Frank Ortis.

The center was named after the current city manager, Charles F. Dodge, who worked diligently to bring the venue to life, he said.

“I nominated him because he did so much work getting it built,” Ortis said. “It’s been a long-time coming for this particular center to come to fruition.”

“Pembroke Pines is one of those cities that really took off after Hurricane Andrew,” Clark said. “This (venue) was a piece of the puzzle the city felt was missing.”

Hurricane Andrew struck Florida in 1992 as a category 5 hurricane in the Atlantic Ocean. After the city started rebuilding, it thrived — until the recession hit.

City officials held off building the venue due to the recession, but they reassessed as the economy recovered, Clark said.

Soon enough, the multiplex funded by taxpayer dollars broke ground.

Now, the venue hosts a variety of entertainment, including concerts, comedy festivals and trade shows. It also has an 11,000-sq.-ft. art gallery and 5,000 sq.-ft. of meeting space.

“The city named the art gallery after me,” Ortis said. “I’m very, very honored.”

The 4,000-sq.-ft. kitchen makes it possible for the venue to accommodate anything from small meetings to weddings to large banquets, Clark said.

It also has a new state-of-the-art sound system, and officials currently are installing a top-notch wireless system that guests can use at ease, he added.

The center serves the western suburbs, and the mayor is excited about the new structure and the tax revenue it’s sure to generate.

City offices occupy two stories in the building, which includes offices for city staff, council members, the mayor and other city departments.

“It gives us quite a range of things we can do,” Clark said. “It serves the community in a large variety of ways.”
 

 


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THINKING OUTSIDE THE BOX
 
Posted: 1 Jun 2017, 7:00 pm

For a 1923 building, there are limitations that must be worked around in order to create premium spaces.
During three years of renovations, Forest Hills Stadium in Queens, N.Y., set a new standard with its limited access areas. The one drawing the most attention has patrons entering through a porta-potty door.
“We would have many people waiting in bathroom lines, then there’d be 20 people coming out of this porta-potty door clown car style,” said Mike Luba, co-president at Madison House Presents, which runs the stadium with AEG. “We’ve tried to elaborate on that scene, thinking outside the box for our other areas.”
The Raccoon Room got its name from the family of raccoons living in it prior to the remodel, one of which is stuffed on top of the self-serve bar, which was formerly a toolshed. The space gets a new password with each event and offers views inside the stadium from small windows.
Another VIP speakeasy-type lounge, the Sign Room, is also password-protected and named after the U.S. Open’s former sign painter, who worked in the space.
Lining the stadium’s horseshoe interior and each other with unique decor and prime views of the stage, the lounges offer private restrooms, bar service and a host.
“We have a wacky place to begin with,” said Luba. “If you build something epic and deliver on a unique, special experience, people are willing to pay anything; the revenue potential is limitless.”
In the case of Forest Hills, the focus is on driving home the historical spirit of the building, which was home to the U.S. Open for 70 years.
“On some level, it’s like we’ve done the anti-arena model with the way we’ve built our speakeasies, or what others would call suites or boxes,” said Luba. “When that works, people love it.” — Lisa White


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ON TERROR WATCH
 
Posted: 1 Jun 2017, 6:00 pm

In the wake of the spate of terror incidents in the U.K. and Europe, including the Manchester attack that directly impacted our industry, venue operators and sports and entertainment producers around the world are focused on one thing: not becoming the next tragic headline.
Security professionals and operations managers are racking their brains, re-checking checklists, sharing best practices, communicating with their local law enforcement agencies and, unavoidably, breaking out their checkbooks. To put it simply, keeping events safe and ensuring public confidence costs a lot of money. The public will, ultimately, absorb those costs at the box office. But, for events already on sale and teed up, promoters, venue operators and tour producers are going to see their budgets increase by double-digit percentages, and that money will come directly from the bottom line.
Of course, no one would argue it's worth the expense, and the industry will adapt. Beyond the public safety aspect, maintaining the public trust is paramount. Even today, that trust is secure, as fans are still packing venues and attending events. But, if a skittish consumer base turns into a terrified one, all the promotion and outward symbols of security imaginable won’t make them attend live events.
Still, it’s worth noting that in America, outside of the random psycho and occasional “beef and a gun” scenario, the industry has never staged safer events at any time in its history. This is an industry that thinks about the unthinkable. By now, virtually every venue, event and public assembly facility has a well conceived plan in place for worst-case scenarios, and dedicated personnel capable of being effective communicators and implementers of that plan. That process never ends, as those in charge of safety and crowd management and public safety must continually evaluate threats, vulnerabilities, and capabilities. Thankfully, most of those who wish to do us harm are not brain surgeons. The challenge, and it’s a very real one, is to stay one step ahead of the bad guys. Know that they’re watching what venues and security professionals do to thwart them, and are trying to figure out ways to get around it. The collective intelligence of our industry is its most effective defense.
Traditionally, efforts to keep out the evil-doers and their implements of destruction have begun at the door. Pat-downs and magnetometers have increasingly become the norm and, rather than regard these measures as intrusive, patrons have learned to expect—and, often, appreciate—the process. That’s good, because it’s only going to become more prevalent.
But, as venues harden as targets, terrorist tactics evolve, and the public and the industry alike have watched in horror as the perimeter has expanded beyond the confines of buildings. Backpacks, purses and even bulky clothing will draw increased attention and, at least in the case of backpacks, will likely soon be banned at large sports and entertainment gatherings. In most cases, they already are.
As venues and events move toward “airport level” security, most already have invested in some form of metal detectors, which can range in cost from a few hundred dollars to more than $5,000 for walk-through detectors. Now, as the perimeters move out, those safeguards, along with canine sweeps and Vapor Wake bomb-sniffing dogs, will move out with them. The question the venue industry is now asking is, "when are the patrons our responsibility?" In most cases, parking lots are on the venue's watch, and at least a significant portion of the entire entertainment complex footprint. At the very least, everyone—venue, team, city officials, law enforcement, promoter—should be on the same page as to who is responsible for what area. The time to ask these questions and reconcile responsibility is before the event.
Sophisticated training is on the upswing, providing better, updated techniques, and increasing in cost. Use it, and educate the public. The “see something, say something” mantra has taken hold, and today all venue employees, and a large percentage of the public, have become conditioned to observe and report abnormal behavior to police or security. Some are conditioned to act: in the event of an emergency, every venue should by now have a designated caller who can assess the situation and provide law enforcement and first responders the pertinent facts of an emergency. It is worth noting that, in an emergency, first responders will be inundated with calls, and confusion often results. Be concise, know what information is most important to communicate.
More than ever, fans need to take responsibility for their own safety, and education and information is also their greatest tool. While the Manchester event was a suicide bomber, the London Bridge attack that followed came from a van, and vehicle rammings and small arms attacks are on the rise across Europe and the Middle East.  In the coming weeks and months, new terror tactics will emerge. Security professionals thrive on planning, but the constantly evolving paradigm requires flexibility and a lack of “analysis paralysis.”Plans must be adjusted, and many venues are faced with doing things they’ve never done before.
The live entertainment industry is facing threats and challenges never before seen. Public safety is everybody’s responsibility. Find out what you can do to help in your world.


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UPSCALE EATS ATTRACT
 
Posted: 1 Jun 2017, 6:00 pm

One of the biggest amenities in venue VIP areas is the food, which arguably can make or break the overall experience, as expectations tend to be high.
While buffets with a larger selection of dishes and top shelf alcohol used to be enough to set these sections apart, the bar has now been set higher to include action stations with on-site customized cooking, mixologists serving up custom cocktails and guest chefs providing local favorites for fans.
“The biggest trends we’re seeing are in food and service style,” said Danielle Lazor, vice president of design and development for Philadelphia-based Aramark’s sports and entertainment division. “We’re seeing a lot of customization, or the ability for guests to personalize their experience.”

Millennials are driving the move toward higher quality food with cleaner and more nutritious ingredients that are locally sourced. Many contend this is lifestyle-driven and reflects the updated spaces that offer a more comfortable, homier setting.
“We’re seeing more premium spaces that feel like a gourmet kitchen or open concept living room and kitchen experience,” said Lazor.
Today’s foodservice programs also are not always meal-oriented, as more guests are into snacking and grazing. Yet, venues still must be cognizant of other generations’ more traditional expectations.

GOING ABOVE & BEYOND
For many stadiums and arenas, it’s not about looking at foodservice programs as a checklist, but about customizing the experience as a whole.
“Each VIP has a different need or experience,” said Shaun M. Beard, senior vice president, food and beverage, at Philadelphia-based SMG’s Savor & Premier brands. “A concert-goer has different needs than a sports fan, so we have to make sure the catering and facility sales staff understands each type of person.”
Also, at big arenas or stadium shows or concerts, there are different VIP foodservice amenities than at performing arts centers or theaters with segregated premium areas.
In terms of revenue potential, every market has its own limits.
“What we do in Los Angeles differs from what we’d offer in Peoria, Ill., for example,” said Beard. “Folks will pay a premium for the right experience, but venues need to be dialed in to what the market is looking for and define what can be sold.”
In some instances, the facility’s accommodations dictate what can be accomplished.
For  example, it used to be a novel idea to include a chef’s tasting room with a convention center VIP package, but now this amenity has become more commonplace in other types of facilities.
Buildings with more limited high-end areas also have options.
“In some cases, they can take that inventory during a concert and create a club experience,” said Beard. “The venue can package a performer meet-and-greet with food and drinks, which has evolved from what buildings were potentially designed to do and maximizes the potential.”
Customization allows venues to put a fresh spin on foodservice programs, while thinking outside the box when it comes to offerings.
“As different demographics go to games, we’re seeing ballparks and stadiums make adjustments,” said Richard Schneider, COO for Delaware North Sportservice, headquartered in Buffalo, N.Y. “This includes fresher food in smaller batches and almost cooking to order in some areas, with more individual and customizable dishes.”

FOCUS ON THE FOOD
In larger stadiums and arenas, there may be multiple VIP areas that have different tiers of food and beverage amenities.
“In Dallas’ 94,000-seat Cotton Bowl Stadium, the premium seating includes suite and press box areas, along with balcony porches and two hospitality levels where foodservice is expanded,” said Ed Campbell, owner of Ed Campbell Co., Dallas.
These include a more extensive menu with traditional concessions offerings, in addition to themed dishes, such as Mexican or western barbecue. Items are served from four or five food stations.
The stadium’s hospitality party decks, which can hold up to 1,500 people, have expanded menu offerings and an enhanced cocktail service as well as high-end hors oeuvres.
“We add flowers and plants to soften the areas, which include flat screen TVs on the wall,” said Campbell.
At Dallas’ Fair Park, VIP areas are both inside and outside of the facility. The latter includes tents and temporary structures near the building.
“Once we determine what our inventory is, we put together a food and beverage program to fit the VIP’s needs,” said Campbell. “There are various options to look at in terms of adapting their plan pregame, which is the majority of requests.”
Depending on the budget, the menu may be more basic with grilled burgers and hot dogs or include upscale food presentations, such as a prime rib carving station.
Daytona Beach, Fla.-based Americrown Service Corp., which specializes in motorsports catering and concessions, customizes its menus at each of its racetracks’ catering areas.
“The menu has a regional identity, depending on the location of the racetrack,” said Chef Michael Pappas. “In Miami it’s Caribbean and Latin American driven, while Alabama’s Taladega track features Southern food and barbecue and Fontana in California has Asian cuisine.”
In each case, the focus is on fresh and locally-grown ingredients and sustainability. The goal is for each track’s VIP menu to have its own identity. This is accomplished by partnering with local food providers.
“We offer hand-made Cuban pastries from a local baker in Florida and sell fresh-baked donuts from a popular bakery in California,” said Pappas. “This keeps business in the community, while also highlighting local favorites.”
The racetracks also do scratch cooking, and will even bring fully-functioning container kitchens on the road with tented eating areas for VIPs.
The complexities of offering fresh food in a motor racing environment presents challenges.
“It seems simple, but it isn’t,” said Pappas. “We do lots of cooking with whole muscle meats and figure out ways to prepare fresh food, which we do differently at each track with similar set ups.”
A Changing Dynamic Traditionally, suite menus have offered packages with limited a la carte options, but this is no longer effective, as consumers’ palates have changed.
“They want to be able to have a hot dog, a Buffalo Chicken Slider and a salad, for example,” said Marco Fabozzi, regional director of operations for Levy Restaurants, who oversees the culinary programs at Barclays Center, Brooklyn, and NYCB Live’s Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, Uniondale, N.Y. “When you order packages, you’re ordering for mass quantities. Every consumer is different based on the type of event.”
Another trend is that the next wave of consumers is changing — they’re getting younger, and those individuals are more inclined to use technology to order.
“An example would be touchpad screens in premium areas, but also giving people the option to grab food from the concourse or mini food stations that is easily accessible to a suite holder,” said Fabozzi. “Perhaps the venue builds that into the price of the suite or offers it as an add-on.” 
The other challenge in foodservice and VIP/club areas is crowd sizes.
“We are still catering to the masses; it’s hard to do individualized food options for a large-scale venue,” said Fabozzi. “The question is how to keep up with speed of service, efficiency, technology and the change in consumer demand.”
The VIP consumer is changing, with trends going towards a large variety of not just food, but also seating options.
“A suite holder, or someone who has purchased a suite package, wants to be able to have a little bit of everything,” said Fabozzi. “People don’t always want to be tied to the suite, so we would need to adjust the food experience a bit, too. For premium ticket holders who want to roam, we ask ourselves the questions, how do we make it easier for them to buy food? Do we have food baked into their suite purchase so they can enjoy the Calvin Klein Club food at Barclays Center? If they’re up on the mezzanine, where are they going for light bites?”
For venues, the challenge is to make the process appealing enough for the upsell, which is not always easy.
“The VIP consumer is our most profitable consumer,” said Fabozzi. “If we as an industry or venue aren’t changing the way we interact with them, we are going to be more reliant on the non-VIP person. That person’s disposable income and purchasing power is far less than the VIP consumer. The solution is the marriage of the ticketing and sales process, along with food and beverage that is going to drive top-line revenue growth and improve revenue for the stakeholders. It’s by making more people want to buy and making the process more flexible.


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FROM THE EDITOR
 
Posted: 1 Jun 2017, 5:25 pm

When Kenneth Feld, CEO of Feld Entertainment, referred to the 146-year-old tradition known as Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus as a “town without a zip code,” he referred to a much bigger universe than the current traveling troupe.
Ringling’s last performance was May 21 at NYCB Live’s Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, Uniondale, N.Y. Half the sold-out arena was filled with circus family.
A group of 60 former Feld promoters and longtime venue hosts gathered the night before the last show in Manhattan, grateful to the Feld family and the circus experience for giving them the foundation needed for successful careers.
John Zamoiski, who organized the alumni party, started his career at Ringling, becoming a marketing CEO.
“Over a 40 year career, I have been able to work with incredible clients and have been rewarded by being able to provide for my family. I have started three companies and sold them….No one is more grateful than I am for what I have been able to do every day.”
While we all lament the loss of a traditional and reliable family entertainment icon, there is more, there is the loss of the world’s greatest school for marketers of all ages.
“For promoters like me, this was the most comprehensive training ground for marketers anywhere, a place where you could get your hands dirty and learn how to create excitement, negotiate deals, handle administration, develop leadership skills, and on and on and on. There was no greater place to learn to be a smart marketer. The loss of the shows from this perspective is also a true tragedy,” Zamoiski said.
A sampling of alumni includes: David Rosenwasser ran the marketing for the LA Olympics; Max Goldberg became head of marketing for Universal Studios LA; Joe Gold opened a company that now tours exhibits like the Bodies Tour to museums (Joe will tell you he went from live (circus) entertainment to dead (museum) entertainment; Ken Wachter runs the company that manages Lambeau Field for the Packers; Jeff Cogen ran the Predators and now runs the Tampa Bay Rays; Scott Zieger now runs the Broadway Division of Cirque Du Soleil; Neal Spielberg ran artist development for Warner Bros Nashville for 20 years; Jerrry Digney now has one of the biggest celebrity PR Agencies in LA (he partnered with Lee Solters); Hank Salemi runs marketing for Six Flags; Bob Collins ran Wrestlemania for 25 years with the WWE; Julie Minor Hoffman went on to become CMO of the WWE; and Frank Roach, who owned his own family show producer, TourVen, and became a professor, paying the lessons he learned from Feld forward.
And consider all the venue marketers and managers who learned how to fill an arena, host a crowd, sell a soda and pitch in wherever needed when the circus came to town. Personally, I forged bonds with many in this group when working for Amusement Business because of Feld Entertainment.
God grant you many years to celebrate the ongoing legacy of the Greatest Show on Earth.


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TALKING POINTS
 
Posted: 1 Jun 2017, 5:00 pm

SarahCummings.jpgSARAH CUMMINGS
GENERAL MANAGER, COLORADO STATE FAIR, PUEBLO
HOMETOWN: Penngrove, Calif.
UNIVERSITY: California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo.
FIRST JOB IN THE INDUSTRY:  As a teenager I worked at the Sonoma County Fair, in Santa Rosa, Calif. My first full-time industry position was at the Marin County Fair, San Rafael, Calif., where I worked as special projects coordinator.
FAVORITE PART OF YOUR JOB: Producing an annual event for community celebration is incredibly rewarding. I enjoy promoting agriculture and the fair industry, as I am quite passionate about both.  
WHAT WOULD YOU BE IF NOT THIS: A wedding planner.
WHAT DID YOU THINK YOU WOULD BE WHEN YOU WERE A KID: A hair stylist.
FREE TIME PURSUITS: I enjoy scouting other events, being outdoors and hobby-level photography.
ONE DAY ESCAPE: Somewhere tropical and relaxing.
TOP SONG ON YOUR PLAYLIST RIGHT NOW:  “God, Your Mama and Me” by Florida Georgia Line.
MOST EMBARRASSING SONG ON YOUR PLAYLIST RIGHT NOW: “Body Like A Backroad” by Sam Hunt.
WHAT WOULD PEOPLE BE SURPRISED TO LEARN ABOUT YOU: To date, I am the only woman to successfully harvest a desert bighorn ram from the California White Mountains.
BEST ADVICE RECEIVED: Never give up.
BIGGEST GUILTY PLEASURE: Monster energy drinks.

 

Craig_Borkon_.jpgCRAIG BORKON
ASST. DIR. OF VENUES, ORLANDO (FLA.) VENUES
CURRENT CITY: Orlando, Fla.
HOMETOWN: Boca Raton, Fla.
UNIVERSITY: Univ. of Central Florida, Orlando.
FIRST JOB IN THE INDUSTRY: Special assistant to the executive director of Orlando Venues.
GENESIS OF YOUR CURRENT JOB: I was running Mayor Buddy Dyer’s campaign and met Allen Johnson. When the campaign was over, Allen asked me if I wanted the job.
FAVORITE PART OF YOUR JOB: Working with the other people in the building.
WHAT WOULD YOU BE DOING IF YOU WEREN'T IN YOUR JOB: Working with kids in a social services capacity.
MENTOR: Allen Johnson, the executive director of Orlando Venues. I’m learning from one of the best venue operators in the industry.
TOP SONG ON YOUR PLAYLIST RIGHT NOW: Anything Dave Matthews Band.
FAMOUS PERSON IN HISTORY YOU WOULD LIKE TO MEET: John F. Kennedy.
WHAT WOULD PEOPLE BE SURPRISED TO LEARN ABOUT YOU: I never graduated college.
BEST ADVICE EVER RECEIVED: You don’t need to know where you are going in life as long as every step you take is one step higher.
IF YOU COULD HAVE AN ENDLESS SUPPLY OF ANYTHING, WHAT WOULD IT BE: Knowledge.
BIGGEST GUILTY PLEASURE: Slurpees from 7/11.
FAVORITE LIVE EVENT YOU'VE ATTENDED: The inaugural Orlando City Soccer game at Camping World Stadium in 2015. Everyone was dressed in purple; the atmosphere was incredible.

 

Jamie_Vosmeier.jpgJAMIE VOSMEIER
SENIOR DIRECTOR OF SALES AND MARKETING, FOX THEATRE, ATLANTA
HOMETOWN: Richmond, Ind.
UNIVERSITY: Ball State University, Muncie, Ind.
FIRST JOB IN THE INDUSTRY: I worked for Broadway Across America in Indiana.
HOW DID YOU GET YOUR CURRENT JOB: I made a passing comment through networking that I’d love to move to Atlanta. In 2006 Fox Theatre had an opening and they brought me over.
MENTOR: Charlotte Young. She gave the ability to do everything I do. She was a tough boss but she made me grow up.
TOP SONG ON YOUR PLAYLIST RIGHT NOW: “Waving Through The Window” from the Broadway show, “Dear Evan Hansen”.
FAMOUS PERSON IN HISTORY YOU WOULD LIKE TO MEET: Stevie Wonder.
WHAT WOULD PEOPLE BE SURPRISED TO LEARN ABOUT YOU: I like to crochet.
BEST ADVICE EVER RECEIVED: Life is not fair. Fare is something you use to ride the bus.
IF YOU COULD HAVE AN ENDLESS SUPPLY OF ANYTHING, WHAT WOULD IT BE: Money.
BIGGEST GUILTY PLEASURE: “The Real Housewives of Atlanta.”
FAVORITE LIVE EVENT YOU'VE ATTENDED: The Rolling Stones with my dad in 1997.


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Live Nation's Festival Passport Sells Out
 
Posted: 1 Jun 2017, 2:00 pm

DCODE Festival, Madrid, Spain, one of the festivals participating in Live Nation's Festival Passport.

Live Nation’s first ever Festival Passport, which gives fans access to over 90 music festivals for a one-time $799 fee, sold out almost immediately. Only 1,000 were made available, with one purchase per customer. The Passports also are linked to the buyer’s name, so they are nontransferable to prevent reselling.

Providing general admission access to some of the world’s largest musical festivals, including Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza, Austin City Limits, Rock Werchter, Reading and Leeds and the Electric Daisy Carnival, the Festival Passport was positioned by Live Nation as a value for those planning to attend three or more of these events. Tickets to Bonnaroo in Manchester, Tenn., and Lollapalooza, Chicago, are $349.50 and $335 respectively before adding in fees.

“This was a project from our marketing team, who wanted to do something special for our dedicated fest fans,” said Kaitlyn Henrich, communications for Live Nation Entertainment. “The Passports were marketed across our channels and social media and are good through the end of 2017.”

The festival passport provides General Admission (GA) access to all events. Each Festival Passport is equipped with a unique ID and powered by Front Gate Tickets, a group within Ticketmaster specializing in festival ticketing. Passport holders have unlimited access to the participating festivals and are able to attend multiple events over the same weekend.

“With GA admission to these events priced between $350 and $400, the Passport more than pays for itself,” said Henrich. “If there is a festival where GA already includes camping and parking in the Festival Passport, pass holders can contact Live Nation two weeks before the event for assistance reserving a spot.”

Users receive a Festival Passport placard to gain entry into the event, then receive a wristband similar to other attendees.

“We just found out about the Passport,” said Kirk Wingerson, marketing division manager for Orlando venues, including Amway Center and Camping World Stadium. Orlando will play host to an Electric Daisy Carnival later this year. “It’s a great value and a good opportunity to get people who are inclined to fests, rather than one-offs, to experience a real smorgasbord of an opportunity.”

“We don’t know of anyone else with a program like this or that has the scale of festivals that can make it worthwhile,” said Henrich. “When we’re looking at festivals with 50,000 to 200,000 attendees in a weekend, it puts the Passport program into perspective. This is about the ultimate exclusive festival access for our most passionate festival goers.”

The Festival Passport is valid at the following events:

Austin City Limits Music Festival U.S. – Austin, Texas
Barcelona Beach Festival Spain – Barcelona
Billboard Hot 100 Music Festival U.S. – New York
Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival U.S. – Manchester, Tenn.
Camp Bisco U.S. – Scranton, Pa.
CBC Music Festival Canada – Toronto
Center of Gravity Festival Canada – Kelowna, British Columbia
Chasing Summer Music Festival Canada – Calgary
Chicago Open Air U.S. – Chicago
Citadel Festival England – London
Community Festival England – London
Contact Winter Music Festival Canada – Vancouver
Copenhell Denmark – Copenhagen
Countdown NYE U.S. – San Bernardino, Calif.
Country LakeShake U.S. – Chicago
Creamfields England – Daresbury
Creamfields Steel Yard England – London
Crystal Coast Music Festival U.S. – Atlantic Beach, N.C.
DCODE Festival Spain – Madrid
Down the Rabbit Hole Holland – Ewijk
Download Festival England – Leicestershire
Download Festival Paris France – Paris
Download Festival Spain Spain – Madrid
Dreams Music Festival Canada – Toronto
Dreamstate San Francisco U.S. – San Francisco
Electric Daisy Carnival U.S. – Las Vegas
Electric Daisy Carnival U.S. – Orlando, Fla.
Electric Forest Festival U.S. – Rothbury, Mich.
Electric Picnic Music and Arts Festival Ireland – Stradbally
Escape Halloween U.S. – San Bernardino, Calif.
Faster Horses Country Music Festival U.S. – Brooklyn, Mich.
Field Trip Music & Arts Festival Canada – Toronto
Findings Festival Norway – Oslo
Firenze Rocks Festival Italy – Florence
Forecastle Festival U.S. – Louisville, Ky.
Free Press Summer Festival U.S. – Houston
FVDED in the Park Canada – Surrey
Glasgow Summer Sessions Scotland – Glasgow
Governors Ball Music Festival U.S. – New York
Graspop Metal Meeting Belgium – Dessel
HARD Summer Music Festival U.S. – Los Angeles
Heartland Festival Denmark – Kværndrup
I Love Techno Europe France – Montpellier
Independent Days Festival Italy – Milan
Jamboree in the Hills U.S. – Morristown, Ohio
Latitude Festival England – Suffolk
Leeds Festival England – Leeds
Lollapalooza Berlin Germany – Berlin
Lollapalooza Chicago U.S. – Chicago
Lollapalooza Paris France – Paris
Lovebox Festival England – London
Lowlands Festival Holland – Biddinghuizen
Main Square Festival France – Arras
Music Midtown U.S. – Atlanta
Nocturnal Wonderland U.S. – San Bernardino, Calif.
North Sea Jazz Festival Holland – Rotterdam
Ohana Festival U.S. – Dana Point, Calif.
One Love Music Festival Canada – Calgary
Paradiso Festival U.S. – George, Wash.
Popaganda Music Festival Sweden – Stockholm
Reading Festival England – Reading
Rock im Ring Germany – Nürburgring
Rock im Park Germany – Nürnberg
Rock im Pott Germany – Gelsenkirchen
Rock Werchter Belgium – Werchter
Roots Picnic U.S. – Philadelphia
Route 91 Harvest U.S. – Las Vegas
Sasquatch! Music Festival U.S. – George, Wash.
Sloss Music & Arts Festival U.S. – Birmingham, Ala.
Summerburst Göteborg Sweden – Gothenburg
Summerburst Stockholm Sweden – Stockholm
The Falls Music & Arts Festival Australia – Lorne, Marion Bay, Byron Bay and Fremantle
The Isle of Wight Festival England – Newport
The Meadows Music & Arts Festival U.S. – Queens, N.Y.
The Peach Music Festival U.S. – Scranton, Pa.
The Warehouse Project England – Manchester
Trackside Music Festival Canada – Ontario
TRNSMT Festival Scotland – Glasgow
TW Classic Belgium – Werchter
V Festival England – Chelmsford &  Staffordshire
Voodoo Music + Arts Festival U.S. – New Orleans
Watershed Music Festival U.S. – George, Wash.
Way Out West Sweden – Gothenburg
We Are Electric Weekender Holland – Eindhoven
Werchter Boutique Belgium – Werchter
Wilderness Festival England – Oxfordshire
Wireless Festival Germany – Frankfurt
Wireless Festival England – London
Woo-Hah! Festival Holland – Tilburg

 

 

 

 


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SMP 100 - MAY - AVAILABLE NOW
 
Posted: 30 May 2017, 6:00 pm

CLICK HERE TO VIEW THE SMP 100 CHART


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Terror Threat Not Stopping U.K. Shows
 
Posted: 29 May 2017, 8:00 pm

The entrance to 02 Arena, May 27, just before the Iron Maiden show, one of the first big events post-Manchester, U.K., bombing, just five days earlier.

REPORTING FROM LONDON - The events of May 22 in Manchester, U.K., shocked the world; not only that 22 innocent people lost their lives, but also that this cowardly atrocity was carried out in a place likely to be full of people under 18. The U.K.’s terror threat level was raised to critical following the event, meaning that another attack could be imminent, and it remained that way for the beginning of the bank holiday weekend. This meant that people attending large events over the weekend were very aware of the possible risk.

Two of the biggest events held over the bank holiday weekend were Comicon, held at  ExCel Centre, East London, which ran from Friday to Sunday and the Iron Maiden concert at the O2 Arena on Saturday and Sunday. A stall holder, Kasper Lewis, from Comicon, said that numbers were down.

“While business picked up on Saturday afternoon, the Friday and Saturday morning were unusually quiet,” said Lewis. "Another stall holder said that they sold 10 times as much on the Friday at the previous convention. There were a lot of posts on the Facebook group for this event from teenagers or young people who were nervous about coming or whose parents did not want them to come.”

O21.jpgSecuirty was tight at the 02 Arena, May 27, for the Iron Maiden show. Shown: Staffer Mario Spagiarri.

At the O2 Arena, like at the London Comicon, security was much stricter and more visible than usual. A member of staff at the O2 confirmed that the concert goers appeared to be more subdued than usual, that it was very quiet as people were queuing up to go in.

However, after speaking to some of the fans, especially older fans who had lived through the IRA attacks 30 or 40 years ago, it became clear that the British sense of ‘Keep calm and carry on’ was very present. The attitude was one of carrying on as normal and not letting the terrorists affect concert attendance for music lovers.

Attendee Chris Searle said: “It’s a one in a thousand chance as there were 22 thousand people at the Ariana Grande concert. I think people forget that we had the IRA in the 1970’s and 1980’s, and since my cousin was killed in an IRA pub bombing in Birmingham, I’ve learned that these things just happen.”

DSC08717.JPGVanessa and Shawn Lapchuck, attended the Iron Maiden show at 02 Arena and said they would not live in fear.

Vanessa and Shawn Lapchuck echoed Chris’s sentiments about the IRA attacks: “We’ve dealt with the IRA, we’ve grown up with it, we won’t let them win, but I should think younger people might be affected," said Vanessa Lapchuck. "We were at a festival last weekend, we are going to Glastonbury and Download, it won’t stop us doing what we do.”

Some of the slightly younger fans did appear to have had some apprehension, with a couple who were perhaps in their late 20s or early 30s, saying that although “you can’t live in fear,” it had crossed their minds.. “It hits you hard at every level but keep calm old British style; the police dealt with it very well; I think we are a very supportive nation.”

DSC08715.JPGChris Searle at the Iron Maiden concert, May 27, 02 Arena.

Another younger attendee, James Frost, said that “I work in security for gigs and festivals normally, and families are quite worried because it could happen anywhere at any time, although it’s not something you can be afraid of."

While the attack was devastating for all involved, the diamond in the ashes is the amount of support shown to the people of Manchester, with vigils being held in other parts of the U.K., and hundreds of thousands of pounds being raised to support victims’ families. The British people have suffered a blow, but they have also come together; the feeling was defiantly one of support, stiff upper lip, and quiet acceptance, rather than anger. Fighting terror, not with hate and fear, but with support, is something to be proud of.


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Shuhart Rejoins Nederlander Concerts
 
Posted: 24 May 2017, 8:00 pm

05-24-17_Shane_Shuhart_200x145.jpgShane Shuhart

Shane Shuhart is rejoining Nederlander Concerts as senior director of talent, effective immediately. Shuhart previously worked for Nederlander Concerts from 2008-2011 as director of talent and programmed venues from San Jose to San Diego. 

Most recently, Shuhart was a talent buyer for Live Nation Entertainment’s Philadelphia office where he booked shows for Live Nation’s owned and operated amphitheaters, arenas and other third-party venues throughout the Pennsylvania and New Jersey regions. He also oversaw booking for the Sands Bethlehem Event Center, The Pavilion at Montage, and the Peach Music Festival.

Shuhart began his career at the Agency for the Performing Arts (APA) in New York and became the territorial talent agent for APA’s northeast region when he moved to Los Angeles.
 


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Ringling Circus Brings the Curtain Down
 
Posted: 24 May 2017, 8:00 pm

Ringmaster Johnathan Lee Iverson leads the crowd in celebrating Ringling Bros.and Barnum & Bailey's last show.

REPORTING FROM UNIONDALE, N.Y. — The need for circus inserts on the arena floor and elephant doors to the arena bowl left the building along with a franchise that anchored arena bookings worldwide, Ringling Bros.and Barnum & Bailey Circus (RBBB). RBBB’s blue unit, the original circus to tour by train and produced by Feld Entertainment, took its final curtain call here Sunday (May 21) at NYCB Live’s Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.

The last performance of 17 during the run, three of them on Sunday, drew 10,083, with a lot of industry professionals and circus alumni included in the masses who made the trip to see this show. Some also attended the last performance of the red unit, originally created for famed lion and tiger whisperer Gunther Gebel-Williams, which closed for good at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center, Providence, R.I., two weeks earlier.

Kenneth Feld, chairman of Feld Entertainment, was joined by his family during opening remarks at the last show, saying the circus family has “always been an inspiration to us and should be an inspiration to everyone on how we conduct our lives. It has been incredible to have this experience, to see how this ‘town without zip code’ works, how they pull together day in and day out. No matter what it is, they rise to the top. They’re the reason this is the Greatest Show on Earth.”

In the 50 years the Felds have owned the 146-year-old RBBB, a quarter of a billion people have seen the show, Feld said. “I’ve learned that perseverance makes the impossible possible.”

youngandold600.jpgYoung and old came to Long Island to share in the bittersweet ending to the Greatest Show on Earth, with a reported performance attenance of 10,083.

During media day on Friday, May 19, and again at the last show Ringmaster Jonathan Lee Iverson and tiger trainer Alexander Lacey encouraged the fans to support circuses, zoos and any other means of seeing these magnificent circus animals and acts so that joy and that education about these magnificent wild animals will not be lost to our young.

At the end of the performance, Iverson called everyone in the cast and crew to the arena floor for a rousing rendition of Auld Lang Syne, letting everyone be part of a circus tradition.

It was “the hardest night” for Bill Powell, VP at Feld Entertainment. “It’s bittersweet in the sense that for 38 years I gave birth to every RBBB that came out of Tampa/St. Pete, Fla. I knew how important it was to have a full house and have the cast energized. To see this tonight and see it closed, in one sense it’s heartbreaking. In another sense, I am so proud of having been a part of something that has gone on for 146 years.”

About 60 alumni of Ringling, most of them regional promoters at the beginning of their careers, gathered in Manhattan Saturday night before the last show, sharing memories and lessons learned, along with innumerable road warrior stories.

billyandjoe600.jpg

Feld Entertainment's Bill Powell and The Gold Group's Joe Gold at the alumni dinner. Below, Powell spreads the joy with his box of red noses and the group is all game. (VT Photo)

rednose600.jpgJoe Gold, who joked that he went from live entertainment to dead entertainment as a promoter of museum exhibits through his Gold Group, said working for the circus “taught me to be a man, to balance my life’s work and family. I have a business now and I treat my employees like family, just like the circus.”

Russ Simons, Venue Solutions Group, has been on the venue side of hosting and marketing the circus all his career. He attended both closing weekends, first in Providence, then here.

As the night wore on, talk turned to the practical side of what we will now miss. New buildings, Simons noted, have been designed with the circus in mind these past five decades. For instance, you have to plan for circus inserts (anchors in the floor to accommodate rigging in spots specifically for circus acts). No other shows use those circus inserts, to his knowledge. They are in unusual places and need to be included in original construction, especially if the arena has ice. They cannot be added later at the risk of bursting a pipe.

He recalled at the Nashville Arena (now Bridgestone Arena), they had 64 anchors just for the circus. “It is one of the first things you do, consult with the circus,” Simons said of building design and planning for use of an arena.

Mike McGee, Barmac Consulting, when asked what hosting the circus required of an arena manager, listed, off  the top of his head: “Access to water, housing, ventilation, solid waste disposal for animals. Ceiling height of 45 feet minimum, approximately 17,000 square feet of performance area, lighting capable of  delivering a black out situation to instant on,  adequate power (guessing 1,200 amps-—3 phase,) adequate shore power for any traveling trailers, reasonable proximity to a  rail yard (no other show travels by train), adequate concourse power (30-50 amp breakers) for merchandise and traveling F/B concessions, show office, F/B Merch office area, area for Pie Car, area for Clown Alley, wardrobe and costume storage, nearby parking for show vehicles, dressing areas, adequate sound system, minimum 8-12 spotlights. If performing on an ice surface (as it was here) you would need rubber matting on backstage floor areas to protect the skating blades when the performers come off the ice.

“Also, you need to make sure inserts can support the stress and weight loads and are properly anchored into the floor, which is critically important when the inserts are positioned in an ice floor.”

This litany has been the Bible for arena managers for five decades.

The newly-renovated Nassau Coliseum (it has the inserts from its prior design) had only been open 35 days when it hosted this historic event. Not only did they have a nearly sold-out run of circus performances, they also hosted Metallica in the middle of the run, requiring they move the circus out completely, move Metallica in, then out, and move the circus back in.

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Matt Felker, Chris Giacalone, and Matt Garrick, director of events marketing and sales at Nassau Coliseum, the day of the last show. (VT Photo)

Matt Felker, GM at the arena for Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment and AEG Live, noted Metallica was a big show and theirs was the only arena date on the band’s stadium tour. That event drew 14,878 fans.

Ringling had 20-25 trucks of gear and the circus compound was in the attached exhibit hall at the arena. The last circus performance before Metallica ended at 9:30 p.m. “We had the floor at 3 a.m. First, we had to do ice work with the Zamboni to prepare for the stage (the show was in the round).” Load in for Metallica started at 9 a.m. Load out took less than four hours. At 8 a.m., the circus was moving back in.

It took 20-25 operations crew and well over 100 stage hands to pull it off.

Nick Vaerewyck who books the venue, noted 17 of the first 29 shows  here were Feld Entertainment’s circus and another four were Feld’s Monster Jam. It is a major franchise for arenas.

Booking Metallica was a highlight of his career, though. Vaerewyck cited a good relationship with AGI, Metallica’s agent. He put the offer out there, with the added enhancement that it was a new building. Though Metallica was on a stadium tour with an end-stage configuration, they took the bait and brought in the stage they last used in Denmark for an in-the-round performance at Nassau Coliseum.

“Metallica was a heavy, heavy show. You couldn’t mix the two productions," he added. “Nothing from the circus could stay. And all this is over ice, too. Our ops team is not too happy with me, but it’s a good story to tell.”

Seeing the last circus, though, that was “a pretty amazing moment,” he said.

Chris Giacalone, who is director of food and beverage for Levy at Nassau Coliseum, prepared a kid-friendly menu for the circus performances and instituted all the space-saving devices he could to ease congestion in the hallways. Concourses were lined down one side with merchandise carts and the other with concessions stands.

The $6 hot dog from Nathan’s Famous was the hit he expected, though he took the specialty dog, Nathan’s Long Island Duck Dog, off the list because it wasn’t kid friendly.

Throughout the industry, kudos have flooded in to Feld Entertainment for bringing the franchise that is The Big Show to circus folks, to arenas worldwide. “I’ll miss it,” said Lee Zeidman, Staples Center, Los Angeles. “I’ll miss how it evolved. I’ll miss seeing the troupes come in. I’ll never forget the elephant walk right before Michael Jackson’s Memorial Service. I grew up with the circus. I won’t miss the smell.”

“We had this one dear friend who is not here with us now,” Powell said during the alumni dinner. “I’m forever hopeful it will come back.”

Feld Entertainment, he noted, did not sell the circus. The intellectual property still belongs to the organization. Feld Entertainment owns Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey, The Greatest Show on Earth forever more.

“Anything can happen in the future,” Powell said.


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New Orleans Simulates Emergency
 
Posted: 24 May 2017, 6:00 pm

The New Orleans Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness (NOHSEP) joined local, state and federal public safety officials to host the first full-scale exercise of the City Assisted Evacuation system at the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. 

New Orleans Office of Homeland Security turned the city’s convention center into a “movie set” May 17 when it took up an entire exhibition hall to simulate a hurricane emergency center to better prepare community members for disastrous storms.

“We needed to be able to replicate that environment,” said Aaron Miller, director of New Orleans Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness. “A venue like the convention center is the only place that you can do that.”

Such evacuation exercises are key to help people successfully escaping destructive hurricanes such as Hurricane Katrina that devastated New Orleans in 2005, killing roughly 570 people and destroying 130,000 housing units in the city.

“New Orleans' main threat every year is from hurricanes,” Miller said.

The Union Passenger Terminal (UPT) is where evacuees will go in the event of big storms, so Miller’s office — along with state and federal agencies, including the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) — utilized the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center to build a replica of the UPT for the exercise.

A total of 109,000 sq. ft. of the 1.1 million sq. ft. of exhibition space at the convention center was used for the event.

The UPT is the main hub of transportation in New Orleans, making it the perfect place for people to go for an evacuation, Miller said. However, authorities can’t on any given day shut down the UPT for training, and that’s why the convention center was used instead.

“One of the things we wanted to do is replicate the space that we normally work in. We had the convention center set up soft walls that replicate the (passenger) terminal walls,” Miller said. “We had entrances to the UPT doors that are usually there. By having the doors of the convention center hall in the right place, it worked out well. It’s almost like creating a movie set.”

Nearly 500 volunteers showed up to take part in the exercise, acting as community members, and more than 100 first responders and nonprofit workers also played roles in the evacuation plan, Miller said. Volunteers were given free parking and lunch for their time. The exercise took about eight hours to complete.

The floor plan was set up in a queuing system with a line where community members who needed assistance could register. Rooms also were set up for those who would need medical treatment.

“We had a space where people registered their pets,” Miller said.

The entire space was designed to assist an estimated 35,000 residents in need of evacuation assistance. The population of New Orleans is roughly 397,000. The entire metro area has nearly 1.2 million people, but it’s those with medical needs, no cars and multigenerational homes that make up the identified 35,000 who would go through the evacuation system, Miller said.

The convention center is no stranger to emergency preparedness, said Brett Slocum, assistant director of public safety at the New Orleans Earnest N. Morial Convention Center.

“This required preparation for us in public safety,” he said. “We regularly work with the city and state. They are not foreign partners to us at all. We work with them in this building all the time.”

The convention center staff all followed procedure as given to them by Miller’s team.

“This was really specific to them. We provided coordination with our sales team and our event team. We had limited action. They knew exactly what to do,” Slocum said. They were very well organized.”

The evacuation exercise cost $500,000 to conduct — funded by grant money from U.S DOT Federal Transit Administration.

The biggest, and most worrisome, hurricane since Hurricane Katrina was Hurricane Gustav in 2008. Luckily the hurricane didn’t hit NOLA as hard as many expected, Miller said.

“It glanced us. We didn’t end up receiving the largest affects. Since 2008, the city has not implemented the city’s evacuation plan,” Miller said, noting why it was so important for last week’s evacuation.

Since Hurricane Katrina ripped through NOLA, the city now has a new $14-billion levy system to protect it from flooding, such as the roughly 15 feet of water that engulfed parts of New Orleans.

Additionally, a $2-billion drainage system also was built to move water out of the city, Miller said.

“The most important lessons that we learned is you have to reduce the risk, and you have to remove the barriers for people in this community,” he said.
 

 


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U.K. Gets “Manifesto For Music Venues”
 
Posted: 24 May 2017, 6:00 pm

Paul McCartney plays at the 100 Club in 2010, a historic Grassroots Music Venue that was threatened with closure. (Photo Credit: ©2010 MPL Communications/MJ Kim)

Grassroots music venues in the U.K. are in trouble, and the MusicVenue Trust (MVT) aims to do something about it. The four-year-old organization has put together a “Manifesto for Music Venues” that it hopes will spur political action — and hopefully free up some federal funds to keep clubs open that support live music.

“This started out as a personal project of our CEO, Mark Dayvd, who is the co-owner of a grassroots music venue (GMV) in England called Tunbridge Wells Forum, and his partner, who were quite concerned, not just about the difficult position they were in as venue owners, but also how expensive it was to run one and the future and sustainability of their club if they were to step away,” said Beverley Whitrick, strategic director of the MVT.

“At the same time, they were looking around at other venues that were closing or being bought up for redevelopment into condos and talking with people in the music industry about how hard it was to make a living running a music venue.”

Looking forward to the June 8 snap general election, the MVT held a “Manifesto for Music?” panel last Thursday (May 18) to lay out the three planks of its platform for a group that included some members of the UK political establishment such as Baroness Maggie Jones (Labour), Joe Miller (Conservatives), Lord Tim Clement-Jones (Lib Dem) and Amelia Womack (Green).

Those three commitments the MTV is looking for are:
?Reform Cultural Funding - Invest in GMV Infrastructure
?Take Action to Increase and Reward Private Investment
?Cut Red Tape and Reduce Costs

“Part of the difficulty of running these venues is that legislation is being created that is negative for them that nobody is talking about,” said Whitrick. “So the MVT was started as a voice of these disparate venues — many run by quirky people around the U.K. — that could unite to help them in the long-term goal of raising money to buy their buildings so if people want to retire they could be sustained as venues into the future and not subject to market forces that might see it as more beneficial to sell them to someone who will turn them into restaurants or apartments.”

The Manifesto notes that less than 3 percent of GMV have received any external funding over the past decade, with less than 1 percent going to below 500-capacity clubs.

Part of the group’s goal is discussing how to make the GMV’s more attractive as social investments after the group’s founders realized that the venues were being perceived more as bars than as culturally relevant arts venues.

Whitrick said the venues covered by the MVT contribute to a U.K. music industry that generates £4.1billion ($5.3 billion) to the U.K. economy on an annual basis. In a statement, Dayvd added, “In 2016, U.K. artists accounted for seven of the year’s top-10 best-selling artist albums in the world. If we want future UK musicians to continue to produce that music for us, they, and the technicians, crew, promoters, security who work with them, deserve world-class Grassroots Music Venues to create, develop and grow that music.”

Those huge figures might explain how the organization has gotten a boost from a number of prominent musicians, including Sir Paul McCartney, who said in a support statement: “Without the grassroots clubs, pubs and music venues, my career would have been very different. Artists need places to start out, develop and work on their craft and small venues have been the cornerstone for this. If we don’t support live music at this level then the future of music in general is in danger.”

The statistic that helped the MVT really get attention, though, was a survey the group did two years ago that found that 35 percent of the GMVs in London had closed between 2007 and 2015, a number that was a “real wake-up call” to people who thought of these types of music venues as a fluid, organic mass, with new ones popping up to replace the old ones as they shut down.

“We’re very lucky that the U.K. has a music heritage that has been organic and provided a place for the stars of tomorrow to grow,” said Whitrick. “But enthusiasm is not enough to pay the bills. The map [of closed venues in London] gave a sense of the demise of venues around the country, including some small towns, that if they lose a venue, they have nothing.” The MVT only had funds to do the survey of London, but Whitrick said the figures are indicative of a larger national trend.

At last week’s event, she said the MVT mostly wanted to ask the political parties to “get out of the way and stop making life difficult for those entrepreneurs who want to run these venues.” The MVT is looking to establish a Culture and Heritage Tax Relief to ease the burden on small venue owners, as well as expand the existing Research and Development Tax Relief to specifically include development of new talent.

With fewer than three percent of GMVs getting any government funding over the past decade, Whitrick said that audiences and artists are not getting the same kind of experience they might be getting in larger, more well-funded rooms. That led to a request for funding that has gotten some significant support from the technical side of the industry.

“What we need is a small amount of cash to make [these upgrades] and enable companies that are keen to invest in that get on board,” she said, nodding to the type of cultural funding that is typically lavished on the opera, ballet and other arts institutions. “If a small portion of that goes to GMVs, you would have a huge geographical reach because these venues are all across the U.K.; you would drastically improve the experience of what goes on there for the performer and audience.”

Whitrick said the figure the MVT is after is “not even one-tenth” of what the top arts organizations in the UK get on an annual basis, a number that would be enough to radically overhaul more than 100 GMVs. They are seeking £3.6 million ($4.7 million) in-kind and matching funds from manufacturers from the technical side of the industry — with commitments from the UK’s light and sound supplier White Light Ltd., as well as Martin, Shure, Yamaha and D&B Audiotechnik — who have offered their services below cost in order to help bridge the gap between large concert hall sound and lights and the inferior technical set-ups in GMVs. The MVT is looking for government to supply around £4.75 million ($6.1 million) in matching funds across five years to venues that are dedicated to developing up-and-coming artists.

“We’ve gone about it in two ways,” she said. “We’ve gone directly to the government and also made an application to Arts Council England for a pilot project for the first 11 venues, and we’re currently waiting on their decision.” The math in favor of MVT’s requests, she said, is pretty simple: for every £10 ($12) spent at a GMV, £17 ($22) is spent elsewhere in the nighttime economy on bars, restaurants, public transport and taxis and the average GMV in the UK invests more than £300,000 ($388,000) every year in presenting new artists.

The MVT has gotten some support from a handful of British MP’s including Kerry McCarthy, who said in a statement, “Small venues have always played a fundamental role in breaking and nurturing new music – their survival is important for ensuring that successful bands continue to emerge from the grassroots. Critically, they also help sustain the cultural scenes and creative economies of many towns and cities, creating employment and attracting people into city centers.”

With their requests in place, Whitrick said the MVT is now looking at tax cuts to spur investment and moving to get GMVs treated more like traditional arts organizations. “The takeaway was that for a relatively young organization, even if we don’t get direct results, the issues are now being recognized and talked about,” she said. “Whereas, in the past, it would only be a discussion about concert halls and theaters. Now it’s about turning words into action and getting politicians to actually do something.”


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Norfolk Exploring Improvements with OVG
 
Posted: 24 May 2017, 5:35 pm

Scope Arena, Norfolk, Va. at twilight.

Built in 1971, Scope Arena, Norfolk, Va., is ripe for renovation and expansion.

John Rhamstine, director of cultural facilities, arts & entertainment, for the city of Norfolk, which runs the SevenVenues of Norfolk, of which Scope Arena is one, said they were in the beginning stages of the project.

“We’re hopefully going to work hand-in-glove with Oak View Group (OVG) to take a look at what we may be able to do to Scope in the future,” said Rhamstine.

Currently, using the largest configuration, Scope Arena can hold 13,600 people. Rhamstine’s hope is to add 5,000 seats. Despite $15-$20 million of improvements over the years, Rhamstine believes the aging arena is due for a major renovation. “The primary driver of what we are looking at is expansion of the seating capacity and how that can be affected,” he said.

Rhamstine said picking up 3,000-5,000 more seats would be ideal, with the goal being to set Scope Arena apart from the other venues in the market.

Rhamstine said plans to expand the arena go back to 2004 when the city hired architectural firm Ellerbe Becket to do a study. That study proved too expensive to pursue. Scope Arena tried again in 2012, hiring Populous to do a study to expand the restrooms and concessions. That wrapped in 2014, but bids came in much higher than expected and that work did not get done either.

“We’ve been in a holding pattern ever since,” said Rhamstine, whose wait looks to be over now that Peter Luukko, chairman of OVG’s Arena Alliance, is interested in the project.

“Peter was here to see his son play hockey,” said Rhamstine about how OVG got involved in Scope’s destiny. “We sat down and chatted, and then he met with the mayor and things just took off from there.”

Luukko said the Scope Arena project reminds him of the KeyArena project that OVG has a bid on in Seattle. “They both have these iconic free-standing signature roof structures,” he said. “Scope’s roof is a big part of the community and the community loves the roof.  This means that in order to increase capacity, the best approach is to dig down.”

The city’s previous studies indicated that digging down would be possible, but that further studies would be needed, said Luukko.

OVG has entered into a predevelopment agreement with the city and OVG has already brought in Populous, International Facilities Group (IFG) and Live Nation to support the project. “Live Nation will play an important part in the process as a potential content provider,” he said.

The city has already committed $100,000 for another study to look at expansion of seating, other improvements and the costs associated with achieving those goals. A Request For Proposals will be going out shortly, according to Rhamstine, who expects OVG to be involved in that process.

There are no estimates for what the renovation might cost. “The city has enhanced and improved a number of large projects in the past five years, and our hope is that a public/private partnership can be formed and most of the improvements can be paid for by using outside equity,” said Rhamstine.

Luukko said it was too early to discuss how the renovation will be paid for. “First we have to assess the costs and find the most cost-effective way to make the building serviceable and important in the marketplace, and then we’ll look at ways to pay for that,” he said. “We’ll look at all kinds of financing solutions and look at what kind of an event-load can be there, sponsorship opportunities, naming rights and what kind of VIP premium spaces can be built.”

Luukko laughed when asked about a ‘typical’ revenue split when entering into a public/private partnership. “There is no formula,” he said. “It all depends on how the building is financed; it goes city by city.”

Rhamstine also said the renovation would help Scope Arena compete against a new arena being built in Virginia Beach and stay viable against “a number of existing facilities actively competing in this market.”

Luukko is not concerned at all with competition from Virginia Beach. “Our focus is renovating Scope,” he said. “It’s an existing facility that’s been there for many, many years. It just needs to be updated and then it will be very serviceable.”

Aside from increasing the seating capacity, Rhamstine said that they also want to take a look at VIP areas, luxury boxes and improvements to the loading dock.

“We’re really excited and are looking forward to a great partnership with OVG,” added Rhamstine. “The city is going to be a very willing partner.”

 


 


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New Rams Stadium Loses 2021 Super Bowl
 
Posted: 24 May 2017, 4:00 pm

Interior of the delayed LA Stadium & Entertainment District at Hollywood Park.

National Football League (NFL) team owners unanimously voted at their spring meeting in Chicago, May 23, to move Super Bowl LV, which will take place in February 2021, from Los Angeles to Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, Fla., after it was announced earlier this week that the new stadium being built for the Los Angeles Rams and Los Angeles Chargers is being delayed by a year.

Last May, the NFL announced that the new Rams and Chargers stadium in Inglewood, Calif. would host the 2021 Super Bowl but delays at the new stadium have dashed that dream. The NFL team owners did agree to tentatively let the stadium host the Super Bowl in 2022 should the project's new completion date in 2020 be met.

While the news of the delay is not getting hallelujahs from one group, namely the teams building the new $2.6 billion home to the Los Angeles Rams and Los Angeles Chargers, it was met with delight by operators of the temporary homes of the two teams, Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum (Rams) and StubHub Center (Chargers), both in Los Angeles.

The Rams put down stakes at LA Coliseum for the 2016 season after moving from St. Louis, while the former San Diego Chargers will kickoff their stay at StubHub Center in the summer. Both teams already had options in place to continue playing at their temporary venues.

“I was told on May 17, that the Rams would be exercising their fourth year option,” said an elated Joe Furin, GM, L.A. Memorial Coliseum. “Obviously, it’s an additional year of revenue. More importantly for us, a fourth year of having the Rams solidifies the experience the fan base has with the Coliseum.” Furin did not disclose a dollar figure for the extra year of revenue but did offer that it will be “a significant amount.”

The fans will remember that they saw their favorite team here and had a great experience here, he said proudly. He recalled that from an operational standpoint, they “nailed it” after a first-game fumble where they learned they needed more water, more hawkers and more medical staff for overheated guests.

There were also questions about how the stadium would handle back-to-back University of Southern California college football games on Saturdays, followed by Rams games on Sundays.

“We had nothing to worry about,” he said. “We had 70,000 people one day and another 70,000 the next, and it all ran like clockwork, so adding a fourth year of the Rams doesn’t present any new operational challenges. We’ll just keep doing what we’ve been doing successfully.”

“We talked about the potential of a third year when we first started talking to the Chargers,” recalled equally thrilled Katie Pandolfo, GM, StubHub Center. “There are so many unknowns with construction, and if the stadium in Inglewood was done by 2019, no one knew if it would be ready for preseason, or opening day in September, or if they’d play in the temporary stadiums for the first month or so, and then move into Inglewood. It was always in the back of my mind they’d still be here for the 2019 season.”

“We’re just getting ready to host our first year of Chargers,” said Pandolfo, full of anticpation.

“This means the Chargers will be crashing on the (LA) Galaxy’s couch for one more year,” she said, laughing. “This means we will manage both teams for three years, instead of two, which I’m excited to do.”

Major League Soccer’s (MLS) L.A. Galaxy is the tenant team of StubHub Center and the MLS season can stretch out till December based on how the team does, which means there is a strong possibility Pandolfo will have to navigate going from a soccer stadium one day to a football stadium the next.

“We’re accustomed to tight turn-arounds on the field because we had two MLS teams here at one point,” pointed out Pandolfo. “We’ll have to wash out the soccer lines and paint football lines and transform the stadium. We’re ready.” Pandolfo said they have an in-house turf crew that will do the job and doesn’t expect any major cost to the process of changing the field.

As for the benefits of having the NFL team at StubHub Center for an additional year, Pandolfo said that while she has no exact numbers since the Chargers have yet to play at the stadium, she does expect a bump to food and beverage due to the quarter-period setup in football, meaning more breaks to sell product, and she sees the potential for slightly higher parking fees based on the NFL culture of tailgating. “Football is a four-hour event, it’s not just 90 minutes,” she said. Levy Restaurants is the stadium concessionaire.

Pandolfo also thinks the extra year will benefit her new tenant. “The Chargers will have an environment here that’s different from any other NFL stadium and to have that for an extra year will be good for the team,” she said. “This will give the Chargers the ability to build up their fan base here in LA.”

Normally rain-starved, Southern California saw record-setting rainfall in late 2016 and early 2017, more than it saw in the five years leading up to it.

Southeast1.jpgRendering of the Southeast view of the new LA Stadium & Entertainment District at Hollywood Park.

“The rain fell during the mass excavation period of construction when no other work could proceed in wet conditions,” said a statement from the project’s development team, Legends Project Management and Turner AECOM Hunt. “As a result, we experienced significant delays and lost the better part of two months from early January into the beginning of March. In the best interest of the project, we have decided to move the opening date to summer of 2020. This is a stadium that Angelinos, visitors and world-class athletes will celebrate for years to come, and we are committed to making sure this venue is exceptional from the day it opens.”

While making the best of a bad situation, there’s little doubt the delay will have a meaningful impact on the financer, Rams owner Stan Kroenke and his investors, and the Chargers as well. Reports are that each team stands to lose $150 million in revenue due to the construction delay, and both will have to absorb the costs of staying in their makeshift LA venues — Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum for the Rams, StubHub Center for the Chargers — for an extra year.

Northeast_Rams2.jpgRendering of the Northeast view of LA Stadium & Entertainment District at Hollywood Park.

The new Rams and Chargers stadium, currently called LA Stadium & Entertainment District at Hollywood Park (LASED), will surely change names after naming rights have been bought (see here). The 70,000-seat stadium and 300-acre entertainment district is being built on the site of the retired Hollywood Park Racetrack, Inglewood, Calif. In addition to being the new home of both L.A. Chargers and L.A. Rams, it will also feature other sporting events, major concerts and other entertainment year-round.

“We are 95 percent complete with the deep foundations and the drill piers that are 80 to 90 feet deep that are underneath the stadium bowl itself,” said Dale Koger, SVP, managing director for Legends Project Development, on a conference call. “We are about to begin the shallow foundations and we’re about to begin our retaining wall, which are the critical path items that are next to come.”

“It was a super aggressive schedule,” he said. “We anticipated no more than about 30 rain days in the entire 36 months or so of construction. We encountered almost double that in two months (January-February), which came at the most critical time.”

“Our promise is to deliver a transformational district...we owe it to NFL fans, partners of the project, the cities of Inglewood and Los Angeles, and the NFL to get this right,” said a statement from LASED.

As for the revenue loss, Demoff said he couldn’t give an exact number but that “certainly, there will be a revenue hit and there will be an added expense hit.”

    


 


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Hot Tickets for May 24, 2017
 
Posted: 24 May 2017, 2:00 pm

New Kids On The Block perform at Frank Erwin Center, Austin, Texas.

It’s a blast from the past as New Kids on the Block kicked off The Total Package tour May 12, at the Schottenstein Center, Coloumbus, Ohio. This North American tour consists of 43 dates wrapping up July 16, at the Hard Rock Live, Hollywood, Fla. After learning from past tours that collaboration is key to a successful tour, Boyz II Men and Paula Abdul are joining the New Kids for this special 90’s experience. The trifecta of icons performed their way onto our Hot Tickets chart this week grossing over $650,000 with ticket prices ranging from $30-$200. The Live Nation-promoted event will be bringing the Total Package to fans May 26, at the Talking Stick Resort Arena, Phoenix.

Barbra Streisand showed up on our Hot Tickets chart twice this week with appearances at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, Uniondale, N.Y., May 5, and Barclays Center, Brooklyn, N.Y., May 6. With over 25,000 fans in attendance, Streisand charmed both sold-out audiences with her unique blend of personal stories and powerful songs, and with ticket prices ranging from $100-$600, grossed nearly $7 million.


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 25-May 23.

15,001 or More Seats

10,001-15,000 Seats

5,001-10,000 Seats

5,000 or Fewer Seats

1) Ed Sheeran
Gross Sales: $5,098,611; Venue: The O2 Arena, London; Attendance: 55,707; Ticket Range: $97.17-$48.59; Promoter: Kilimanjaro Live; Dates: May 1-3; No. of Shows: 3

2) Barbra Streisand
Gross Sales: $3,682,129; Venue: Barclays Center, Brooklyn, N.Y.; Attendance: 14,464; Ticket Range: $615.50-$104.50; Promoter: In-house; Dates: May 6; No. of Shows: 1

3) The Weeknd
Gross Sales: $3,372,209; Venue: The Forum, Inglewood, Calif.; Attendance: 32,347; Ticket Range: $205-$39.50; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: April 29-30; No. of Shows: 2

4) Barbra Streisand
Gross Sales: $3,119,293; Venue: Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, Uniondale, N.Y.; Attendance: 11,435; Ticket Range: $616-$105; Promoter: In-house; Dates: May 5; No. of Shows: 1

5) WWE
Gross Sales: $1,905,365; Venue: The O2 Arena, London; Attendance: 26,024; Ticket Range: $453.47-$32.39; Promoter: Triple A Entertainment; Dates: May 8-9; No. of Shows: 2

1) Mother's Day Music Festival
Gross Sales: $859,716; Venue: Atlantic City (N.J.) Boardwalk Hall; Attendance: 11,603; Ticket Range: $137-$47; Promoter: Platinum Productions; Dates: May 13; No. of Shows: 1

2) Eric Church
Gross Sales: $693,755; Venue: Peoria (Ill.) Civic Center Arena; Attendance: 10,568; Ticket Range: $89-$25; Promoter: Messina Touring Group, AEG Presents; Dates: May 12; No. of Shows: 1

3) Eric Church
Gross Sales: $679,563; Venue: SNHU Arena, Manchester, N.H.; Attendance: 10,675; Ticket Range: $89-$18; Promoter: Messina Touring Group, AEG Presents; Dates: April 29; No. of Shows: 1

4) New Kids On The Block
Gross Sales: $657,323; Venue: Van Andel Arena, Grand Rapids, Mich.; Attendance: 9,516; Ticket Range: $199.95-$29.95; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: May 13; No. of Shows: 1

5) Shawn Mendes
Gross Sales: $607,881; Venue: Mercedes-Benz Arena, Berlin; Attendance: 12,228; Ticket Range: $64.62-$39.34; Promoter: Semmel Concerts Entertainment, FKP Scorpio Konzertproduktionen; Dates: May 3; No. of Shows: 1

1) Tim McGraw, Faith Hill
Gross Sales: $1,918,295; Venue: Mohegan Sun Arena, Uncasville, Conn.; Attendance: 15,916; Ticket Range: $139-$79; Promoter: In-house, CAA; Dates: May 5-6; No. of Shows: 2

2) Chris Rock
Gross Sales: $865,926; Venue: Smart Financial Centre, Sugar Land, Texas; Attendance: 10,356; Ticket Range: $125-$49.50; Promoter: In-house, Live Nation; Dates: May 12-13; No. of Shows: 2

3) Eric Church
Gross Sales: $650,722; Venue: Santander Arena, Reading, Pa.; Attendance: 8,500; Ticket Range: $89-$35; Promoter: Messina Touring Group, AEG Presents; Dates: May 18; No. of Shows: 1

4) Arijit Singh
Gross Sales: $578,174; Venue: Smart Financial Centre, Sugar Land, Texas; Attendance: 4,964; Ticket Range: $315-$70; Promoter: Roshni Productions; Dates: April 28; No. of Shows: 1

5) Guy featuring Teddy Riley
Gross Sales: $428,211; Venue: Smart Financial Centre, Sugar Land, Texas; Attendance: 6,101; Ticket Range: $89-$39.50; Promoter: G-Squared Events; Dates: May 6; No. of Shows: 1

1) Wicked
Gross Sales: $3,960,259; Venue: Orpheum Theatre, Minneapolis; Attendance: 40,343; Ticket Range: $195-$25; Promoter: Hennepin Theatre Trust, Broadway Across America; Dates: May 2-14; No. of Shows: 16

2) Phantom of the Opera
Gross Sales: $1,779,963; Venue: Plaza Theatre, El Paso, Texas; Attendance: 23,873; Ticket Range: $125-$45; Promoter: Jam Theatricals; Dates: May 3-14; No. of Shows: 15

3) Book Of Mormon
Gross Sales: $1,436,703; Venue: Overture Center for the Arts, Madison, Wis.; Attendance: 17,581; Ticket Range: $135-$45; Promoter: In-house, Broadway Across America; Dates: May 9-14; No. of Shows: 8

4) Finding Neverland
Gross Sales: $1,358,933; Venue: Fox Theatre, Atlanta; Attendance: 19,944; Ticket Range: $150-$30; Promoter: Broadway Across America; Dates: May 16-21; No. of Shows: 8

5) Motown The Musical
Gross Sales: $763,412; Venue: DeVos Performance Hall, Grand Rapids, Mich.; Attendance: 12,549; Ticket Range: $90-$35; Promoter: Broadway Grand Rapids; Dates: May 2-7; No. of Shows: 8

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

 


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Arena Industry Unites to Fight Fear
 
Posted: 23 May 2017, 11:00 pm

Manchester police speak to two distressed concertgoers as they fled Manchester Arena following the terrorist attack at the Ariana Grande concert, Monday night.

Venue operators around the globe are being vigilant in the wake of the May 22 terrorist attack outside the Manchester (U.K.) Arena that killed 22 people and injured more than 100 following an Ariana Grande concert.

In North America, venue operators are reassuring patrons and the media that they are taking all possible precautions and, given the parameters of the Manchester event, expanding venue perimeters to take into account the public areas in the footprint of the building.

DEFENSIVE STRATEGIES

Prevent Advisors’ VP of Security Mike Downing, a former LAPD deputy chief and commanding officer of the Counter-Terrorism & Criminal Intelligence Bureau, said that the sophistication of the attack in Manchester, including the location and timing, “indicates some pre-operational surveillance and planning as part of the attack cycle.” Given that such surveillance likely took place, Downing encouraged venues operators and security personnel to “keep an eye out” and “profile behavior, not people, behavior that is suspicious, that has the nexus of crime, or pre-operational planning.” In the case of Manchester, “this [surveillance] could have been done days, weeks or even months in advance.”

Among the defensive strategies and counter-measures Downing suggests are “counter-surveillance strategies, looking outward at the perimeter,” along with the use of zoom cameras focused on potentially vulnerable areas and times, decoy law enforcement cars, and Vapor Wake dogs. And even though the Manchester attack was a suicide bombing, Downing stresses facility and security personnel be mindful of other tactics employed recently, such as vehicle ramming of public areas, small arms attacks, other IEDs and vehicle bombs, and the use of drones.

While reports of ticket refunds are virtually non-existent, some venues are responding to the Manchester attack by banning backpacks, conducting interior and exterior canine sweeps, and increasing engagement with law enforcement. And, though there is talk of some artists, agents and managers asking for (and receiving) reassurance as to security levels, no shows have been canceled in North America.

VENUES REACT

For the most part, the already heightened post-Bataclan security profile for North American venues is just heightened even more, and venues are communicating, working together, and sharing best practices.

“This was a recent occurrence, but this is not a new process,” Downing pointed out. “We are not dependent on these incidents to trigger security, it’s an ongoing process, planned, consistent, and constantly curated.”

Nick Eaves, chief venues and operations officer for Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment, which includes Air Canda Centre, Toronto, agreed. “These sorts of things are in our mind all the time. We didn’t make radical changes [because of the most recent, high profile terrorism attack].”

But he is working closely with Toronto Polict Service, particularly in the public space known as Maple Leaf Square around Air Canada Centre, which includes restaurants and residential towers and is next to a main rail station. Like Manchester, it is a downtown setting “we don’t own or control,” Eaves said, but the Toronto police work closely with the arena when events occur.

“The evolving piece [of security protocols at the arena] is resource sharing with the Toronto police,” Eaves said.

Lee Zeidman, president, Staples Center, Microsoft Theater and L.A. Live, Los Angeles, is also dealing with an urban environment, a campus that includes other theaters and clubs, the Los Angeles Convention Center, hotels, retail and restaurants. You can only extend the perimeter so far and “we are not a military installation,” he said.

But they are doing everything possible to ensure the safety of guests and clients, “first and foremost in ‘see something, say something,’” he said. “We’re big on that.”

AEG also sees to it that in-house security and Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) personnel are visible in and around the campus, well beyond the arena doors.

“It’s a matter of education and visibility,” Zeidman said. “We host thousands of people on a nightly basis. We’re no different than a mall or movie house. We have to stay vigilant, be aware and train the staff.”

AEG, LAPD and other security staff have weekly meetings and are up on the latest innovations in security protocol, he said. He has taken a renewed interest in an app the LAPD instituted in December of 2016 called “I watch,” which allows citizens to report unusual activity to the police.

GRANDE OFFICIALLY CANCLES EUROPEAN TOUR

Post attack, Grande has canceled the European leg of her Dangerous Woman tour through June 5, where she was due to play at Hallenstadion, Zürich, Switzerland.

Barnaby Hooper, communications director at 02 Arena, London, where Grande was supposed to play two back-to-back shows on Thursday, May 25 and Friday, May 26, confirmed the cancellation.

“We just got word. The London shows are canceled,” he said Wednesday night Greenwich Mean Time. “Ticket holders for the London shows should contact their point of purchase for a refund.”

Grande’s official statement: “Due to the tragic events in Manchester, the Dangerous Woman tour with Ariana Grande has been suspended until we can further assess the situation and pay our proper respects to those lost. The O2 shows this week have been canceled as well as all shows through June 5 in Switzerland. We ask at this time that we all continue to support the city of Manchester and all those families affected by this cowardice and senseless act of violence. Our way of life has once again been threatened, but we will overcome this together. Thank you.”

Hooper said that two Iron Maiden shows, scheduled for Saturday, May 27, and Sunday, May 28, were likely to proceed, albeit with heightened security measures.

“We will have a proportionally increased, very visible police presence,” he said.“We have a very tight security process anyway and this had previously been enhanced with metal detectors and bag searches already in place.”

Hooper also said that they are asking all those coming to The O2 to allow extra time for enhanced security checks.

Sportpaleis, Antwerp, Belgium, which was to be Grande’s next stop after The O2, has similar plans. “We will increase our security for the next shows,” said Jan Ean Efbroeck, one of the managers of the Sportpaleis, who also said that, “we will start a campaign to assure our guests that they will be safe here at Sportpaleis.”

Efbroeck and Hooper both said it was too early to assess the financial impact of losing the Grande shows, and that all the ticket buyers would get refunds. “I believe we have insurance for an event like this,” said Efbroeck. Hooper was unclear if The 02 had similar event-cancellation insurance.

THE COST OF TERRORISM

As previously reported in VT Pulse (May 23 special report), entertainment insurance premiums related to live events are likely to increase. “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 options are offered when it comes to covering terrorism.  Terrorism is initially excluded on most event cancelation policies, however it can be covered by endorsement, or by purchasing a separate terrorism policy.  Terrorism is clearly defined in the policy as, ‘any form, fear, threat, or acts of terrorism are expressly excluded from coverage.' 

Options to cover acts of terrorism can range from removing the exclusion altogether to buying coverage limited to incidents that occur near the venue and close to the event date.

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% to .25% on terrorism coverage, or about $15,000 to $25,000 on a $1 million policy. He added that such coverage is becoming increasingly common for touring artists and festivals to carry.

“I can’t speak for [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 canceled left and right because of concern that they weren’t protected properly. I’m sure that will happen in this instance as well."

Take That, scheduled to play Manchester Arena May 25, 26 and 27, was postponed because the venue is still an active crime scene. The next scheduled event, KISS, May 30 and touted as their only confirmed show in the north of the country for 2017, was still on the schedule as of Wednesday, May 24. — Linda Deckard and Brad Weissberg contributed to this story.


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LA Coliseum To Get $270-Million Makeover
 
Posted: 23 May 2017, 5:50 pm

Rendering of the exterior of the $270-million facelift for Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

The Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum (The Coliseum) is getting a long-overdue facelift. A big-money naming rights deal will follow, reportedly with United Airlines, though that is not confirmed as of now.

Capacity will go from 93,607 to 77,500 due to such improvements as added aisles, widened seats and increased legroom in many sections and the construction of a new Scholarship Club Tower on the stadium’s south side that will include suites, loge boxes, club seats, a new concourse and a new press box. With 16,000 seats removed, a reseating of current season ticketholders will be necessary.

Built in 1923, The Coliseum is a Los Angeles institution. Currently, the venue is the home of the University of Southern California (USC) Trojans football team and temporary home to The Los Angeles Rams who have been playing at the facility since 2016, and just picked up their option for the 2019 season due to delays in the construction of their new home in Inglewood, Calif.

The renovation is being funded entirely by USC Athletics from The Coliseum restoration gifts, sponsorship revenue, non-USC events at The Coliseum and donor-naming opportunities. It will not require any student fees or general university, local, state or federal funds. With an annual budget of $100 million, USC Athletics is one of just seven self-sustaining National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA) Division I programs in the nation, which means it receives no funding from tax appropriations or student fees.

Naming rights have been explored since 2013 when USC took possession of the building but stalled out. “Prior to USC taking over management of the building, the Coliseum Commission had already reached out to solicit a naming rights deal with many companies but nothing ever came to fruition. It then became our right to pursue a deal,” said Joe Furin, GM, Los Angeles Coliseum.

Although on the stove since 2013, over the last six months, with the renovation plans well underway, USC moved getting a sponsor to the front of the burner. “We had to really understand the exposure and the assets we had before aggressively moving on it,” he said. “The renovations definitely have moved the needle on what a package could be worth.”

It’s been reported that United Airlines is close to a deal to nab the naming rights — $70 million dollars for 15 years — but Furin was unable to confirm the reports yet.

“The news that’s out is premature. Nothing is finalized yet by any means,” said Furin. He did verify that the venue "has been in discussions with multiple corporate partners but no deal has been agreed upon yet."

LA_Coliseum1.jpgA Trojan and Traveler, the horse, revving up the crowd at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

The renovations will be done in phases. In April they removed the video boards to make way for brand-new high-def boards.

The next phase will commence January 2018, to be completed prior to the 2019 season and will involve improvements to the south tower, which includes the premium spaces, suites, club seats, a new press box and a complete restoration of the historic peristyle — the famed arches — the replacement of 75,000 seats, increased WiFi and new railings.

Otis_Booth_Press_Box1.jpgRendering of the Otis Booth Press Box in Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

The press box already has a name — The Otis Booth Press Box, named after the late Franklin Otis Booth, Jr., a newspaper executive, investor and rancher. He is the great grandson of General Harrison Gray Otis, founder of the Los Angeles Times.  Booth’s commitment to philanthropy during his life has benefited many institutions in the Los Angeles area.

“The Otis Booth Foundation is proud to once again support USC in the renovation of one of the most iconic landmarks in the United States," said Palmer Murray, vice president of the Otis Booth Foundation. "The Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum has a special place in history and we felt this was a wonderful opportunity to honor Otis’ legacy, as he so passionately supported the City of Los Angeles.”

“The improvements will really turn this old building into a modern state-of-the-art facility,” said Furin. “The Rams will get the benefit, the fans will benefit and we’ll hopefully get another 94 years out of the venue.”

 

 


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Nebraska State Fair Goes Solar
 
Posted: 23 May 2017, 3:00 pm

Aerial view of Nebraska State Fair, Grand Island, where solar panels were recently installed.

The Nebraska State Fair board have approved a deal to add solar panels to the Nebraska Building, where the fair’s administrative offices are located.

Although contractors from J-Tech Solar, provider of the panels, estimate it will save the Grand Island, Neb., fair $3,000 to $3,500 in electrical utility expenses, the main goal of the project is to educate attendees and further its sustainability commitment.

The fair began recycling used fryer oils in the 1990s and progressed to become a Zero Waste Event in 2014, 2015 and 2016. It recycles 90 percent of aluminum, cardboard, plastic bottles, paper and livestock bedding. In 2016, this included 1.56 tons of plastic; 2.53 tons of cardboard; 4.91 tons of co-mingled plastic, cardboard and aluminum; 1,033 tons of animal waste and bedding; 900 gallons of used fryer oil; 1,088 pounds of aluminum cans; and 1,300 pounds of food waste compost.

As part of the agreement, J-Tech Solar, a subsidiary of J-Tech Construction with offices in Lincoln and Grand Island, Neb., also has a sponsorship deal to serve as the fair’s sustainability partner for the next 10 years, paying $7,500 a year for a sustainability tent and $10,000 in kind for the solar system as part of the arrangement.

“J-Tech approached us to become involved with a sustainability pavilion, and we put together a sponsorship for its naming rights,” said Shaun Schlief, fair marketing and sponsorship director. “Through that conversation, we talked about putting solar panels on the Nebraska Building, which houses our administrative offices and Raising Nebraska exhibit.”

J-Tech installed an array of solar panels on the building’s south side free of charge as part of the agreement.

“I designed a 24.6 kw per hour system, which is the maximum for a meter in Nebraska,” said Drew Coffey, J-Tech Solar’s head of solar design and procurement. “With this system, the fair will pay $3,300 in energy costs annually, which means the return on investment is about 10-1/2 years; these systems are designed to last 40 to 50 years.”

The system includes 280W Canadian Solar CS6K Premium Modules; Enphase M250 Microinverters; an S-5 Standing Seam Roof Mount; and an Enphase Envoy-S Communications System.

“The fair facility managers have been big advocates for pushing sustainability, and much of the motivation is to promote the event to a younger crowd,” said Coffey.

The fair’s Marketplace Sustainability Pavilion, covered by a canopy of scrap fabrics treated with a chemical to improve air quality, includes exhibits that highlight ways to give new life to building and agricultural materials; explores sustainable practices for urban and agricultural resources; and includes information on recycling and waste management.

“We do a lot of education at the state fair on recycling, composting, wormaculture and sustainable practices people can do at home, on the farm and in their community and workplace,” said Jaime Parr, fair facilities director. “The solar project also has a real-time phone app we can link to our website to see how much energy is being generated by our solar panels and the impact on our carbon footprint.”

“We’re hoping to get more solar in the Grand Island community with this project,” said Parr. “We’re tapping into the municipal grid and hoping to clear a path so citizens can do the same on their own.”


 


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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 options are offered when it comes to covering terrorism.  Terrorism is initially excluded on most event cancelation policies, however it can be covered by endorsement, or by purchasing a separate terrorism policy.  Terrorism is clearly defined in the policy as, ‘any form, fear, threat, or acts of terrorism are expressly excluded from coverage.'  Options to cover acts of terrorism can range from removing the exclusion altogether to buying coverage limited to incidents that occur near the venue and close to the event date.

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 1.5$ to .25% on terrorism coverage, or about $15,000 to $25,000 on a $1 mm policy. He added that such coverage is becoming increasingly common for touring artists and festivals to carry.

“I can’t speak for [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 of concern that they weren’t protected properly. I’m sure that will happen in this instance as well, 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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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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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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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 Shopkinslive.com.

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 HotTickets@venuestoday.com or fax to (714) 378-0040.

 


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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 SportTechie.com)

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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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 Ticketmaster.com 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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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 HotTickets@venuestoday.com 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 SportTechie.com)

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 HotTickets@venuestoday.com 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.

 

DeniseGonzalezphoto.jpg


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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DIVERSITY DRIVES THE MID-ATLANTIC
 
Posted: 1 May 2017, 8:00 pm

It was a good year for venues in the Mid-Atlantic. Based on Venues Today’s Top Stops chart, the region rocked its way up $54 million in 2016, going from $522 million in gross sales in 2015, to $575 million in 2016, a healthy nine percent climb. With so many world-class venues competing for shows, the race is on to get the best shows, biggest acts, and brightest stars.
Is this a problem for Mid-Atlantic venue managers? Fuhgeddaboudit.
The highest grossing venue on our chart, MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, N.J., had its busiest year since opening in 2010, drawing nearly three million fans to a record 61 major events, including National Football League games, and 210 smaller private events, said Ron VanDeVeen, president and CEO, MetLife Stadium.
Of those, 39 non-NFL events grossed $123,421,040 in ticket sales from an attendance of 1,288,494, he added.
“The last three years have been our best and it will be hard to beat 2016; it was a tremendous year,” said VanDeVeen. “Ticket sales showed the most dramatic increase. For the non-NFL ticketed events — concerts, soccer, college football, Monster Jam — the gross more than doubled from 2015 to 2016.”
In this year of the stadium tour, MetLife Stadium went from eight to 11 concerts and hosted the Copa America Centenario soccer final. “We had 15 shows that grossed over $5 million and the Copa final generated over $21 million in ticket sales,” he said. “Soccer was extremely strong for us in 2016. We hosted four games that generated over $44 million in ticket sales.”
VanDeVeen is looking forward to a unique event scheduled for later this year, the 18th annual International Indian Film Academy (IIFA) Weekend and Awards on July 14-15. “This is the largest annual Bollywood entertainment show and will feature the ‘IIFA Rocks’ concert and ‘IIFA Awards’,” said VanDeVeen.
“So far, so good, everything is going very well,” said Frank Remesch, GM, Royal Farms Arena, Baltimore, Md., an SMG-managed property. “The Baltimore market is healthy. When we put in the right shows, we sell out.”
The hottest show of the year was the trio of “hair bands from the 90’s”, Def Leppard, Poison and Tesla; coming up are Chance the Rapper, Neil Diamond and Journey and Asia co-headlining. “I’m cautious but optimistic about the rest of the year,” he said.
Tickets range from $15 for indoor football to $250 for concerts.
Food and drink sales are up. “I’m seeing a positive trend and in the right direction,” said Remesch. One effort that went down well with the fans was a promotion with local animal rescue group, Barcs. “We created a souvenir cup and gave a dollar to the organization for every cup sold. We sold $35,000 so far, and the circus is still coming up.”
Improvements include new digital menu boards and Hi-Def TV’s throughout the concourses that cost $20,000. Other capital improvements included new production offices with bathrooms, upgraded dressing rooms and a brand-new box-office. “We ripped out the individual kiosks and replaced them with racetrack-style windows,” he said. The budget for the improvements was almost $2 million.
“2016 was an incredible year for us when you look at our event calendar; we were up around 20 percent in 2016,” said John Page, president, Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia.
He attributes the rise to the event mix. “The Democratic National Convention (DNC) was probably the biggest component,” he said. “The deal we struck with the DNC mitigated any revenue loss from losing shows,” explained Page. “To rank as high as we did is incredible when you realize that the arena was shut down for over three months to accommodate the production of the DNC.”
On the concert side, Page cited Pearl Jam, Adele, Garth Brooks, Eric Church and the Drake/Future shows as the best on the books. Ticket prices ranged from $35 to $600 for a VIP package.
Page said that the influx of young talent on the Philadelphia Flyers’ side and the Philadelphia 76ers’ side has created a lot of excitement for the building, which he believes also added to the great results Wells Fargo Center had in 2016.
2016 also marked the arena’s 20th anniversary. “To give back to our fans, we were able to create a unique ‘birthday party’ event, where the arena was displaying half of the Philadelphia Flyers ice and half of the Philadelphia 76ers court. This was the first time the arena was setup in this manner. The Birthday Party event was free to the public,” said Page.
F&B was similarly up. Page pegs it at a 15 percent increase.
Comcast Spectacor and Aramark, the F&B provider at Wells Fargo brought onboard Shake Shack this year, making the center the first-ever National Basketball Association (NBA) and National Hockey League (NHL) arena to feature the hot franchise.
Wells Fargo Center launched an online team store that allows fans the opportunity to purchase Philadelphia Flyers’ and 76ers’ items before they come to the venue.
“The online store is doing great,” he said. “It’s a wonderful convenience. Preorder, prepay and the fans pick their gear up in what we call ‘Click and Collect Lockers’.
The building spent $17 million on capital improvements in 2016. Most of the work was done from Aug. 1 thru Oct. 15.  “We worked around the schedule,” said Page.
Changes included renovating the 82 luxury suites, enhancing the arena’s WiFi connectivity and upgrades to its lighting system.
“2016 was an incredibly successful year for both Radio City and The Beacon,” said Clinton Neils, SVP and GM, Radio City Music Hall and Beacon Theater, New York City. “Both venues saw an increase in residencies and multi-night bookings which are great for the artist, the fans and the venue.”
The Beacon Theatre is having tremendous success with their mini-residencies, which Neils said is a “growing trend.”  The Beacon launched a Jerry Seinfeld residency in 2016. “That residency has been so successful that we’ve expanded it to 24 shows for 2017,” said Neils. Seinfeld was the highest-grossing act overall for the venue.
Other mini-residencies included Steely Dan, Mariah Carey, Sebastian Maniscalco and Tedeschi Trucks Band.
At Radio City, the hottest acts included Bryson Tiller, Meghan Trainor, Tony Bennett’s 90th Birthday and Mel Brooks’ “Back in the Saddle Again.” Marc Anthony was another huge success story at Radio City and was the highest-grossing act overall for the venue.
Neils also saw growth in VIP packages. “You used to see VIP packages at the arena level exclusively, but now you see it in every size venue,” he said.
Neils believes the live event business is looking very healthy for the rest of 2017.
He is especially pleased with programming like the Harry Potter franchise, shows like Brooks’ “Back In The Saddle Again” and the Tribeca Film Festival. “It’s very exciting to see Radio City get in touch with its movie-house roots a bit.”
“From a content perspective we had a really great year as good a year as we’ve had since we opened” said Keith Sheldon, Senior SVP, Programming, Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment which runs Barclays Center, Brooklyn, N.Y. “Our goal is focus on the big event business in Brooklyn.”
Hot acts included Bruce Springsteen, Justin Bieber and Barbra Streisand. “Barbra is from Brooklyn, so it’s always great to have that homecoming. When she plays here it’s a pretty special moment for New York.”
Surprisingly, Barclays Center is also doing strong country music business. Eric Church, Blake Shelton and Keith Urban are just a few of the many country acts that have sold out. Brooklyn is also “the home of hip-hop in New York,” according to Sheldon. “We pride ourselves on bringing diversity. There’s something for everyone and price points for everyone.”
Tickets can range from $10-$250 and there are occasional VIP packages that can go much higher.
In 2015, Barclays Center transformed the Vault Bunker Suite into the Billboard Lounge, a 300-capacity space on the event level. “It’s a VIP space or a one-off space for private events,” said Sheldon. “In any given year, we expect to do about 40 shows in that space.”
“We had our best year ever,” said Sean Saadeh, EVP, entertainment programming, Prudential Center, Newark, N.J. “The strategy was more shows and more quality shows.”
The strategy worked: Prudential Center was up 10 percent in ticket sales, attendance was up 30 percent and overall revenue was up 15 percent.
Highlights of the year included Bruce Springsteen (who sold the most tickets ever for a concert at Prudential Center), UFC, Muse, and the NACC Never Forget Tribute Classic. They introduced college basketball in 2016.
Saadeh thinks Prudential Center’s diversity in programming is a big plus to the bottom line “We are a multicultural business,” said Saadeh. “We’ve been successful in K-Pop, KCON has become an annual two day event here, Exo sold out and we continue to grow our Latin business.”
“When we talk about the New Jersey market, we have 4.5 million people living in Northern Jersey alone,” said Hugh Weber, president, N.J. Devils and Prudential Center. “We have one of the highest household incomes, a diverse population and we believe that long term the Prudential Center is well positioned. The Jersey play is real and it’s not just a stop in New York.”
Both Saadeh and Weber are looking forward to the 10th anniversary of the building in October. “It’s going to be a seminal moment for this building,” said Weber. “We have a lot of content booked to celebrate the anniversary.” 
The anniversary will also see the opening of the Grammy Museum, which is a ticketed experience and will be open to the public both on event days and nonevent days.


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

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

More...


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TICKETING SOLUTIONS, DEEP SOUTH STYLE
 
Posted: 1 May 2017, 6:55 pm

Ticketing.pngLike all box office managers do, Mark Arata, box office manager, Smoothie King Center, New Orleans, wants tickets to get into the hands of real fans.
“It gets very hard because we are a destination city and we try to prevent the blatant use of bots by the brokers,” said Arata. “If you look at the accounts and see the same guy from New York City buying pairs of tickets from 50 or 60 different accounts, with the same address, it’s fairly easy to figure out this is a broker.”
Arata described a particularly transparent attempt by scalpers to buy up the tickets to a recent Twenty One Pilots show at Smoothie King Center.
“The first batch of tickets were released and all bought by brokers,” said Arata.
“There was one city in California that had all the sales. They used different names and address but what are the chances that everybody in Costa Mesa, Calif., wanted to come to New Orleans to come to a Twenty One Pilots show?”
About 600 tickets sold during the first round of the on sale were released — 550 of which were so suspicious that they were canceled. “We were only able to cancel the tickets because we use a print-delay system where tickets are only available two days before the show.”
Ticketmaster took it off sale, and put it back on sale, through Verified Fan. “It didn’t sell very many tickets because not many people had signed up for Verified Fan yet,”
said Arata.
The move did “slow down the known brokers,” he said. “But I’m a little leery of it (Verified Fan) because they have no way of knowing if they are just verifying the brokers.”
Selling tickets at market value is another way Arata sees as a solution, but he also pointed out the reluctance of artists and promoters to offer up expensive tickets during the primary on sale.
“They (the primaries) don’t want to be seen selling $500 tickets,” he said.
He used a recent Bruno Mars show as an example. “Bruno sold out in four minutes with $125 tickets. Thirty seconds later, you look at the secondaries and the tickets are listed at $300 to $500, and they got scooped up.”
“The tickets could have sold at reasonably higher prices to begin with, and people would have bought them,” said Arata.
Arata does not think the BOTS Act will be of much help, either. “There’s only one real way to stop this,” he suggested, “and that’s to force will-call where the fans have to show up at the venue with an ID to get their tickets. Brokers are not going to fly to New Orleans to pick up their tickets and distribute them.” — Brad Weissberg


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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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OUTSIDER TURNED INSIDER
 
Posted: 1 May 2017, 6:00 pm

Brian Chia got his work ethic from his grandparents, who lost everything when the Japanese invaded Singapore during World War II.
“My grandparents had to rebuild their lives after the war,” said Chia. “They exemplified that daily grind mentality. Growing up, I saw the amount of work they put into their lives.”
Chia’s parents continued to set the tone from their small computer fix-it shop, where they worked 12-hour days, and where Chia learned about hardware and software in addition to the value of hard work.
Chia thought he wanted to be a fitness instructor. “I got into the event booking business by pure luck,” said Chia, recalling how his friend worked at a small company called EventBooking and got him a job answering phones in 2011.
Chia doesn’t answer phones at the Knoxville, Tenn.-based event-management software firm anymore. Rising through the ranks at lightning speed, today Chia, 27, is director of client success at EventBooking, a role that has taken him around the world, ensuring that customers are happy and understand the booking software that he helped design.
Chia’s job is multifold. He’s in charge of customer service, as well as creating, launching and maintaining booking software for the ever-growing company. He also, travels. A lot.
From London to Beijing, Chia has helped venues with EventBooking’s products with his personal and in-person touch and training.
“Brian is solely responsible for the success of EventBooking in China,” said John Platillero, founder, EventBooking. “He trained all the staff in China, as he does here in the States, so that they are then capable of training others.”
Platillero saw Chia’s potential early on. “We created a position for Brian because we liked him so much,” he said. “Brian has an analytical side and a creative side. He’s not a mushy-huggy customer service person. He gets things done in a polite, professional way. He sets the tone for how to do things properly and we hire people around his personality, who are mushy and huggy,” Platillero said, laughing.
“I can count on Brian,” he said. “He’s a steady hand-on-the wheel.”
Last year, EventBooking began redesigning its core venue management software. Brian was appointed the head of the new initiative. This meant that in addition to his client services responsibilities, he guided a team of software engineers so that each cycle of the development process was tailored to clients’ needs and workflow.
In his current role, great booking software is important at work, and Chia beams with pride when talking about next generation software.
“Our event booking software is in most of the top arenas today. We’re in 50 percent of the top 100 arenas,” he said. “We’re continuing to evolve the system as we get feedback,” Chia said, noting that the company’s software is completely web based and clients can access everything from their mobile devices if they so choose.
The company has swelled from a mere eight employees who were there when Chia started to 25 people today and is very customer driven.
“Learning about how the venues operate and the exposure to the industry is extremely fascinating to me,” said Chia. “I was an outsider to the industry and now I get a look into the actual running of venues on a daily basis.”
Chia’s less enthusiastic about the repetitive and tedious work that goes into the actual building of the software. “It’s part of the job, and I’m not complaining about it, but there are things that are not so fun,” Chia shared.
Chia’s happiest when he’s solving problems for EventBooking customers and recalled the time when a performing arts center client in Texas thanked him for “giving her back time in her life. She said that something I created made certain tasks take minutes instead of hours and she gets to spend more times with her kids. It was a fulfilling moment.”
It’s not often Chia goofs up, but the one time he did taught him a valuable lesson. “I was just two years in when I accidentally deleted every account for one of our major venue management clients. Everything went offline for about half an hour. Luckily our technical team was able to restore it all.” Having learned from the fumble, Chia always reads things at least three times now before taking action.
As his career grows, Chia can’t wait to see what will be invented next for venue software.
“I think it will be exciting to see what technology will become available in the next 10 years,” he said, and added, “I’d like to be a part of that.”


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SPRINT CENTER REFLECTS KANSAS CITY’S GROWTH
 
Posted: 1 May 2017, 6:00 pm

There was probably no better test for Kansas City, Mo.’s Sprint Center than bringing country legend Garth Brooks out of retirement for nine sold-out shows the month following its opening 10 years ago.
When the $276-million facility officially opened on Oct. 10, 2007, Brenda Tinnen, general manager and senior vice president for AEG Facilities, had a hard time not picturing the worst case scenario.
“It was the first time Garth (Brooks) tickets had ever been sold online, and that was the first day we were allowed into our facility box office,” she said. “I don’t think I slept at all, knowing we had to train everyone and be ready to push the button.”
It turns out Tinnen’s greatest fears were unrealized. The Garth Brooks tickets sold out for all shows in less than 2 ½ hours; his wife, country music star Trisha Yearwood, agreed to come on board as the opening act; and the final show was broadcast internationally, giving the new venue an opportunity to use its networking capabilities while providing added exposure.
“We have learned a lot in the last 10 years,” said Tinnen. “One of the reasons I pushed so hard for Garth to play our building was because I felt he was a true representative of our Midwest culture. He brought a heartwarming, family-oriented vibe to our new facility.”
That’s not to say that everything went off without a hitch. When Brooks asked for an iron, rather than have his clothes professionally pressed, someone from Tinnen’s team had to make a beeline for the nearest drugstore to accommodate his unorthodox request. When hosting the world’s top performers, it may be impossible to be totally prepared.
It’s a testament to the venue and to Kansas City, which has come a long way since Tinnen first left that city in 1988.
“I was at Los Angeles’ Staples Center and met with Kansas City’s mayor at the time, Kay Barnes, to hear her vision about the downtown revitalization; it made me homesick and excited to be a part of Sprint Center,” said Tinnen.
Inspired about the possibilities to resurrect the then-desolate city, and determined not to fail in her hometown, Tinnen kept her focus on the mayor’s vision.
The goal was to create a true reflection of Kansas City, hence a building of glass. The free open house after the ribbon-cutting ceremony attracted 25,000 people who responded positively to the new facility.
Now anchoring more than $6 billion of reinvestment in a revitalized downtown, Sprint Center is a unique public-private partnership between the city of Kansas City and AEG. It also has been recognized as the fourth busiest arena in the U.S. by Pollstar magazine.
According to Bob Newman, president of AEG Facilities, Sprint Center’s success from an arena perspective and the revitalization of the city’s downtown urban core is a model that others still imitate, even 10 years after opening.
“This is one of the first buildings other communities visit when contemplating a new arena,” said Newman. “That is the kindest form of appreciation, when others look to imitate it.” He added that this is due to the entire community, from the municipal leadership to the corporate stakeholders and community groups, all working together.

HANDS ON FROM THE START
For much of the team, including Tinnen, involvement with Sprint Center began even before it was built.
The staff assembly started in 2006 during the construction phase, providing those who would be working in the facility with first-hand knowledge of the venue, its design and all the intricacies that were involved with its creation.
“I’ve opened a few facilities in my day, and this is the way to do it,” said Tinnen. “It helped to sit around the table with architects and project managers and ask them questions about why they were doing what they were doing. It gave us good insight and the opportunity to have some input into the arena design.”
The hallmark of the building is its transparent exterior comprised of 2,204 glass panels that allow views both into and out of the facility. Each glass patterned panel weighs between 700 and 750 pounds and reflects light day and night.
After counting down the days until opening, Tinnen had to remind everyone that while the design and construction crew’s job was done, theirs was just beginning. The process ended up being a great bonding experience for everyone.
“It was one of the smoothest openings I’ve ever been through, because people knew the building, their way around and why it was designed the way it was,” she said.
With Elton John performing the first show three days after opening for a total of 18,000 people, it helped set the stage for what was to come over the next decade.
Originally projected to host 90 events and nearly one million visitors in its inaugural year, Sprint Center exceeded original expectations by hosting 140 events and 1.4 million people.
Its sports kick-off was just as impressive as its concerts; Sprint Center played host to the 2008, 2010 and 2011 Big 12 Men’s Basketball Championships, the first and second rounds of the 2009 National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Men’s Basketball Championships and 2010 NCAA Women’s Basketball Regional.
Sprint Center was named one of 2016’s top venues in the world by Pollstar magazine and, according to its year-end report, ranked 26 among worldwide arenas and 12th in the U.S.
More than half of the Top 30 arena tours played the venue in the last year, including Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band, Coldplay, Disney on Ice, Justin Bieber, World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), Carrie Underwood, Drake, Dixie Chicks and Twenty One Pilots.

HIGHLIGHTS OF THE DECADE
While Garth Brooks was one of the most memorable performances during Sprint Center’s decade in operation, country music star George Strait continues to hold the attendance record at 19,533 on Jan. 18, 2014.
“This may be due to the fact that this was his final concert before becoming a Las Vegas resident performer,” said Tinnen.
Other well-attended events include the 2013 Big 12 NCAA Men’s Basketball Championships with 19,256 attendees, its biggest basketball turnout, and the National Hockey League’s (NHL) Los Angeles Kings versus the Pittsburgh Penguins on Sept. 27, 2011 with 17,554 attendees, its largest for hockey. 
“Sprint Center has been a game changer in terms of the events we can attract and host,” said Kathy Nelson, president and CEO of the Kansas City Sports Commission. “Before this facility was built, we were at risk of losing the NCAA Big 12 Men’s Basketball Championship, and it was difficult to attract those types of events to our city. Now, I can’t picture what our downtown would be like without it.” She added that athletes, officials and judges are continually impressed with the customer service, cleanliness, space and ease of working in the building, which have played a part in its success.
Sprint Center is marking its 10th year with a 12-month celebration of strong lineups, with 2016 events that included the Tour of Gymnastics Champions, Florida Georgia Line, Amy Schumer, Maxwell & Mary J. Blige, and Cirque du Soleil: OVO. This year’s schedule has included the U.S. Figure Skating Championships, The Lumineers, Eric Church, and Game of Thrones Live Concert Experience. Garth Brooks also performed seven sold-out shows this past spring.
The arena has contracted with the NCAA Big 12 Men’s Basketball  Championship through 2020 and was awarded the NCAA Men’s Regionals for 2019.
Although the dirt shows have always been a hit at the venue, Sprint Center was recently tested with back-to-back shows that had different turf requirements.
“We had Monster Jam that required dirt, then had to take it out for a Jeff Dunham performance, then bring in a different grade of dirt for PBR (Professional Bull Riders), and right after that, replace the dirt for Arenacross,” said Tinnen. “We had to take dirt in and out three times in one month, while trying to keep our glass building clean.”
Another challenging double-header was handling a sold-out John Mayer show on a Friday night while Fox TV moved its equipment in for Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) coverage. Because the network was going live early, the house was turned over to Fox at 2 a.m.
“John Mayer and his team were so nice and courteous, allowing the UFC folks to store some of their equipment behind his curtain,” said Tinnen.
Philanthropy also has been a hallmark of the venue. Established in 2009, Sprint Center Foundation is the official charity of Sprint Center and addresses community needs by investing in measurable, sustainable programs that improve the quality of life of area residents in the areas of music education, youth and neighborhoods. Sprint Center Foundation distributes grants annually in the spring and fall of each calendar year. In 2015, Sprint Center staff devoted more than 5,000 volunteer hours in support of local nonprofit and civic organizations.
Tweaks and Updates
In an arrangement between the city and AEG, CAPEX (capital expenditure) money became available for about $8 million in building improvements this year.
Enrichments scheduled during the 10th anniversary celebration include refined premium areas and additional club spaces, new video elements and televisions, enhanced food and beverage offerings and event-level improvements.
“We’ve never had to shut down or missed an event, we just work around our schedule,” said Tinnen. “I don’t want to turn away any business.”
Last October, Sprint Center commissioned Daktronics to design, manufacture and install a new six-display center-hung video system. The new technology provided an increase of six times the pixels of the previous system, resulting in clearer, higher resolution imagery. The displays are capable of variable content zoning, allowing each display to show one large image or to be separated into multiple zones. These zones can then show any combination of live video, instant replays, scoring and statistical information, animations and sponsorship messages.
“We haven’t undergone any major capital improvements until this year, other than replacing a couple glass panes during our second year, due to the building settling,” said Tinnen. “We recently did a lot of back-of-house upgrades for everything to be high definition, which was cost prohibitive for us back in 2007.”
Other upgrades include new concession stand technology, including video menu boards; updated premium areas, including the Founders Club and new television monitors throughout the building. The suite levels also were updated with new carpeting, paint, artwork and furniture. In addition, a new public Wi-Fi system debuted this year.
“In the building’s 10th year, we anticipate it being the most successful ever,” said Newman. “We keep building momentum and have every expectation that the next decade will build upon where we are today and achieve even greater levels of success.”

 

KEY MILESTONES
Sprint Center opened its doors on Oct. 10, 2007, following a ribbon-cutting ceremony including city dignitaries and country icon Garth Brooks. More than 20,000 visitors attended a free open house to explore Kansas City’s newest asset and witness the arena floor change from hockey to basketball to concert configurations.

Additional milestones include:
• First Concert: Elton John, Oct. 13, 2007
• Most Performances by One Artist: Garth Brooks, 9
• Largest Concert Attendance: 19,533, George Strait, Jan. 18, 2014
• Largest Basketball Attendance: 19,256,  2013 Big 12 Men’s Basketball Championship
• Largest Hockey Attendance: 17,544, Kings vs. Penguins, Sept. 27, 2011

 


SPRINT CENTER FACTS & FIGURES

Opening: Oct. 10, 2007
Guaranteed maximum  construction price: $276 million
Location: 13th St. to Truman Rd. and Grand Boulevard to Oak St.
Owner: City of Kansas City, Mo.
Operator: AEG
Construction manager: M.A. Mortenson Co.
Project manager: ICON Venue Group
Architect: Downtown Arena Design Team (HOK Sport + Venue+ Event, Ellerbe Becket, 360 Architecture, Rafael Architects)
Site acreage: 8.5 acres
Number of levels: 7 (Event Floor, Club Level Main Concourse, Suite Level A, Suite Level B, Upper Concourse and Press Level)
Arena square footage: 666,480
CBE square footage: 42,745
Total square footage: 709,225
Seating capacities: Hockey, Basketball, End Stage, Center Stage
Lower Level Seating
General Seating: 7,751; 8,962; 
5,528; 7,906
Club Seating: 1,706 for all
Suite Level A: 767; 767; 517; 767
Suite Level B:  616; 616; 518; 616
Upper Level Seating:
General Seating: 6,443; 6,533;
4,349; 6,533
Total (based on production):
17,297; 18,482; 14,356; 19,246
Amenities:
Six locker room facilities (NHL, NBA, Auxiliary), five-star dressing rooms, 16 LED screen scoreboards, 360-degree ribbon board, two 50-foot ribbon boards, broadcast interview room, six-bay loading dock, novelty stands at main and upper concourse, 14 box office windows, seven passenger elevators and four public escalators, 14 concession stands, family restrooms on all seven levels, 20 men’s and women’s bathrooms at main and upper concourse

 


KANSAS CITY IS MORE THAN BBQ

When it comes to its food and beverage program, Kansas City’s Sprint Center is unique because it is catering to a diverse fan base for ever-changing events.
“Unlike venues with season ticketholders, we have sporting events, religious conferences, conventions, country and rock concerts, children’s shows and everything in between,” said Gregg Artley, director of operations for Levy Restaurants Inc., the venue’s foodservice operator. “Our gears are constantly shifting.”
The evolution of the menu also has had to keep pace with the growing number of foodies, who are influenced by cooking shows.
“This drives us to make sure we stay on the cutting edge,” said Artley. “We have great chefs with fire in their bellies who have a passion for what they do.”
Technology has been beneficial for Sprint Center’s foodservice program, with newly-installed digital menu boards allowing for customization on an event basis.
“We can drill down and focus on what we think the event demographic would enjoy,” said Artley. “And it’s important for us to be able to cater to kids in a venue like this.”
Sprint Center’s menus are always in flux, with less popular items being rotated out and the newest hot items brought in on a regular basis.
The venue has capitalized on an increasing number of consumers who are willing to pay more for higher-quality food. In addition to gourmet coffee and premium liquor, its pretzels and burger patties are hand-made, and meats like pork belly and pastrami are smoked on site.
A central kitchen handles all the facility’s foodservice needs, including for the suites, membership club and event catering. All 14 concession stands have built-in kitchens, and all food is prepared fresh.
The facility recently revamped its Mexican food concessions stand. Mex Fresh is a new open kitchen Midwestern Mexican cantina concept that offers nachos, tacos and tortas.
“We’re looking forward to more changes, as renovation work on our concession stands continues,” said Artley. “We’ll be erasing the pallets and creating new ones that will excite our visitors, so stay tuned.” — Lisa White


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COUNTRY IS KING, OF COURSE
 
Posted: 1 May 2017, 6:00 pm

Venues in the Deep South have seen huge financial gains, with many arenas logging millions more in gross sales in the last 12 months compared to 2015. Revenue drivers include family shows, throwback concerts featuring stars from the 90s and pop music, but one thing remains true — country is still king in the South.
“That’s certainly what sells the best for us,” said
Todd Hunt, executive director of BancorpSouth Arena in Tupelo, Miss.
Like most venues in the Deep South, BancorpSouth had a smashing lineup of country artists that helped the arena, which reported more than $3 million in gross revenue from March 1, 2016 to Feb. 28, 2017.
That figure is up more than $1 million for BancorpSouth’s gross revenue for the same period a year before, and the venue is looking forward to an even busier time in the months to come.
“For us, we’re going to have the most shows this year than we’ve had in the last 15 years,” Hunt said. “The economy is doing well in this area, unemployment is low, so people have a little extra money in their pockets to spend on a good time.”
Another common theme among venues is ensuring the fan experience is top notch.
“I think today’s fans demand more amenities from venues,” Hunt said, highlighting that great WiFi, short lines and comfy seats are all in demand now more than ever.
Competition between venues is always at the forefront of a marketing director’s mind, so when the CenturyLink Center, Bossier City, La., ranked highest in sales and number of visitors for a 12-month period in the Deep South, Kourtney Washington, sales and marketing director for CenturyLink, was elated.
Washington has no doubt that it was the high-profile lineup of country artists that helped land the venue a reported $5.6 million in gross sales, which is a $3 million financial gain compared to last year.
From March 1, 2016 to Feb. 28, 2017 the venue reported 29 shows and 111,964 guests.
“We book the shows and they show up. We really don’t have to struggle to get the word out about our shows. (Guests) call us,” Washington said with enthusiasm.
Artists such as Carrie Underwood, Luke Bryan, Garth Brooks and Florida Georgia Line graced the stage at CenturyLink in the last 12 months.
Perhaps another key to the arena’s success is the fact that everyone who works at the venue seems to love what they do.
“I think one of the great things about CenturyLink Center is we’re all fans at the end of the day. We all love our jobs,” she said. “We love that in two hours time, people can come to our venue and enjoy themselves. They can come and relax and have a really good time with their loved ones. We as a staff don’t take that for granted.”
Last year, the 14,000-seat venue renovated all of its concession areas with a B52 Bomber theme, as the Barksdale Air Force Base is located near the arena.
“We just want them to feel welcome and appreciated for all they do for their community,” Washington said.
Overall, her goal is to continue a positive attitude with guests and her team. “When we book a show, we’re doing summersaults down the hallway,” she said.
Landers Center in Southhaven, Miss., reported grossing roughly $4.5 million in 2016, hosting 22 shows drawing 83,972 in attendance in a 12-month time.
“We did change a lot of our marketing approaches and strategies over the past year; I think that had a lot to do with it,” said Hallie Hogan, marketing manager for Landers.
The venue had three sold-out shows within five weeks of each other in February and March, and Hogan and her team have no plans of slowing down.
“This fall, the Memphis Grizzlies G-League will be playing their 25 home games at Landers Center, just minutes away from downtown Memphis and the FedEx Forum where the Memphis Grizzlies play,” Hogan said. “This will bring a new type of clientele to the building and to the North Mississippi area as well as expand our reach with a different sport.”
Currently, the venue hosts the Mississippi Riverkings minor league hockey team.
Marketing pushes for Landers Center include a large social media focus on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. The 10,000-seat venue also uses e-blasts for announcements and presales. Hogan and her team have billboards around the Memphis metro area that tout upcoming shows and sporting events.
They also, of course, use advertising in local newspapers and on the Interstate marquees for upcoming shows.
UNO Lakefront Arena, New Orleans, reported $4.3 million in gross sales, with 47 shows and 127,592 in attendance. The arena’s gross revenue was also up roughly $300,000 compared to last year.
“We’ve had an eclectic assortment of shows, ranging anywhere from comedy to family shows and groups trying to make comeback tours,” said Lakefront Arena General Manager Marco Perez.
“The comeback tours (The Cure, Vanilla Ice, Salt-N-Pepa, TLC) are doing really well. We had this crazy tour of I Love the 90s, and it sold out,” Perez said.
The University of New Orleans’ basketball team primarily plays at the 10,000-seat arena.
“The UNO Privateers won the conference championship. It’s the first time to appear (at the championship) in 21 years. It was a fantastic season. It was very exciting for us, and we’re looking forward to this coming season,” Perez said.


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BEYOND THE VEGGIE BURGER
 
Posted: 1 May 2017, 5:25 pm

When researching for new items for PNC Park’s vegan and vegetarian fans, Aramark Executive Chef George Drakulich went all in: “I thought, ‘What better way to figure out what items those fans enjoy eating than living the life?’”
He challenged himself to go vegetarian—and eventually vegan—temporarily. “My first week of vegetarianism was pretty easy,” he said. “No meat, of course, but I was putting cheese on everything!”
By the second week, the cravings started. When Drakulich wanted a bahn mi-style sandwich, he made himself one using tofu. That led to tons of experimentation, resulting in the toasted tofu sandwich.
To create the sandwich, he marinates extra-firm tofu in a mixture of lime juice and zest, salad oil, dry ginger and Tamari (gluten-free soy sauce) for a few hours. When the tofu is ready to cook, he sears it in a pan with vegan butter. The tofu is then placed on gluten-free bread that’s also been smeared with house-made Sriracha mayo and vegan butter.
He toasts the sandwich, then opens it up to scoop a house-made slaw (of cucumbers, carrots, shredded green cabbage, mint and cilantro) onto the tofu. He closes the sandwich and slices it neatly, showing off the colorful fixings.
“[It’s got] all the bright flavors of banh mi, smashed between two golden brown slices of bread,” he explained. The gluten-free bread, however, has a touch of honey in it, making the sandwich gluten-free and vegetarian, but not vegan.
The sandwich can be found at the park’s gluten-free stand called Just4U, along with items like a toasted portabella, toasted caprese sandwich and fresh salads, fruit and gluten-free beers. It’s also part of a larger initiative to  “acknowledge every fan who comes to the game,” according to the chef. “We want to put a great foot forward for every guest, making sure we recognize and serve everyone.”
As for Drakulich’s diet, what started as a one-month challenge to go vegan turned into two. Now, more than six months later, Drakulich is still living a vegan lifestyle.
“[It’s] the best I’ve ever felt in my life. … I must be doing something right,” he said, adding that he still tastes all foods at the stadium. “It’s actually made my palate better. I’m not eating as much as I used to. My palate’s more refined; I have greater acknowledgment of flavors and tastes. … It doesn’t stop me from being a chef for everybody.”

 

Exec_Chef_G._Drakulich_2016_.jpgAramark Executive Chef George Drakulich
PNC Park, Pittsburgh, Pa.
Although 2017 marks Executive Chef George Drakulich’s second baseball season with Aramark, he has been in the sports and entertainment industry for more than 15 years. His career has brought him through L.A.’s Staples Center; Miami’s Marlins Park; Brooklyn’s Barclays Center; the Anaheim, Calif., Honda Center; and various NASCAR tracks.
“After being out of the state and doing some heavy traveling for the last 15 years, being able to come home and work at PNC Park is pretty amazing,” he said. “I’m part of a great team here and we all try to be better than we were the day before.”


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AMAZON VIP OPTIONS GROW WITH ITS U.K. TICKETING PUSH
 
Posted: 1 May 2017, 5:05 pm

Amazon is not a company that does things halfway. After starting out as an online bookstore more than two decades ago, the internet giant has become the world’s supermarket, selling just about anything you could imagine. Well, except concert tickets.
Until recently.
The virtual megastore quietly began offering tickets to its Amazon Prime customers in England in 2015, and thanks to an ever-expanding deal with AEG, it is growing into a player in that market. The idea of the massive retailer jumping into business with one of the world’s leading promoters — and owner of the iconic O2 Arena in London, among other venues — makes perfect sense. And so far, according to Paul Samuels, executive vice president of AEG Global Partnerships in Europe, his company could not be happier with the results.
The relationship ramped up last year when Samuels became intrigued about how the brands could work together. Amazon approached AEG Presents about collaborating on AEG’s Barclaycard Presents British Summer Time in Hyde Park festival as a test. “We gave them an allocation of primary tickets to sell along with our other primary ticket distributors and they did very well. What was amazing was the amount of data they have on their customers,” Samuels said. “They know CDs you’ve bought and sometimes they know more than you know about yourself. They’re very good at targeting and selling and I was surprised by how well they did.”
Because of the amount and depth of the data Amazon could offer, the two struck a one-year deal that includes an Amazon Terrace at the festival open to Amazon Prime customers that is essentially a VIP package with extra benefits that include food and beverage deals and access to a VIP summer garden. While AEG’s main ticketing partner is still their own platform, AXS, farming out some tickets to Amazon helped ensure that the festival sold out as quickly as possible. “Having Amazon and AXS work together allows us to tap into a database that reaches customers we weren’t reaching before,” he said.
The partnership is in keeping with Amazon’s overall strategy for growth: thinking long-term and keeping the focus on the customer. “Within Amazon Tickets, our aim is to be the world’s most customer-centric ticketing company,” explained Geraldine Wilson, GM of Amazon Tickets UK. “That means continuing to add selection for our customers, including more tickets to music, theatre, comedy events and more, and continuing to innovate on behalf of customers in areas like the purchasing process, customer service and the in-venue experience. We’ve made a great start with the launch of premium seating, Amazon lounges and the opportunity to access pre-sales for entertainment events across the UK for our Prime members; however, we have a saying at Amazon that ‘it’s still Day 1.’”
Amazon has been offering customers access to live entertainment since Amazon Tickets launched in the UK in 2015, with tickets across multiple price points to concerts, West End theater productions, comedy and other live events.
That might explain why when it came to talks of renewing the Hyde Park deal, Amazon and AEG began discussing a partnership on the O2, with AEG offering Amazon a “small percentage” of tickets for every event across different price points as a trial run. The companies then hit upon the idea of creating premium spaces for Amazon to sell exclusively to their customers, dubbed the Amazon Deck, with clear views of the stage and the only space on the first level of the arena bowl with waiter service.
The areas, which opened in March, hold around 100 fans and, because they’re newly created, they don’t take any ticket inventory away from AXS. Neither partner was willing to discuss ticket sales figures, grosses or box office impact on the record. Three Amazon Lounges were also opened after a building redesign carved out some new premium areas also reserved for Amazon customers. “From a B2B point of view there are clear advantages,” Samuels said. “We have access, but not every show sells out and if we can reach new customers and sell out faster… Amazon helps us do that.”
In addition to Amazon Deck seats and Amazon Lounges at the O2, there is a brand new backstage Amazon Prime lounge at the SSE Arena and a deal at Wembley Arena which provides ticket holders a drink upon arrival and exclusive views during pre-show hours. There are also new premium seats for other summer music festivals including Live in Chelsea and Kew the Music. At the latter, ticket holders will have a reserved area where they will have a special view of the stage, along with champagne, afternoon tea or a picnic hamper.
So far, Samuels said AEG is keen on building out the relationship as Amazon expands its reach into ticketing, including the possibility of venturing out of the UK to other markets.


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HOSPITALITY INDUSTRY EMPLOYS ROBOTS
 
Posted: 1 May 2017, 5:00 pm

Patrons of The Westin Buffalo look for any excuse to order items to their room, whether it’s adults taking advantage of New Balance workout gear deliveries or kids clamoring for a toothbrush. Even an extra pillow delivery hasn’t provided this much intrigue before, as the Westin’s robot, Chip—so dubbed for a tech-sounding name at a hotel located at the corner of Delaware Avenue and West Chippewa Street—delivers all these goods to the delight of patrons.
“Everybody stops and asks about him and will eventually check into their room and think of a reason to have a delivery,” said Russ Papia, The Westin Buffalo director of sales. “He has created quite a bit of buzz.”
The first robot in a hotel in New York and the first for the Westin chain started delivering everything from clothing to cocktails in December. Staff loads the amenity into the robot and then programs his destination, all from his visible front-desk home. He maneuvers hallways and elevators steering clear of guests—and walls—and then makes a call to the room, waiting outside. Guests simply open their door, open the robot’s lid and grab their item.
With hotel owners, Delaware North, poised on the edge of the latest technology, Papia said Chip remains a novelty at this point to create a fun environment in the hotel.
Whether the Savioke-designed Relay model that roams the halls at the Westin or the Starship Technologies robots traversing through the streets of Washington, D.C., in a pilot program that started this spring delivering restaurant takeout via a Postmates program, the idea of using robots for any delivery model has started to grow wheels.
And that opens up possibilities for everything from convention centers to stadiums.
“I could see this working anywhere where there is any type of delivery aspect,” Papia said. “I could see him buzzing around a lot of different venues.”
As industrial robotic interest continues to grow, as much as by 29 percent annually through 2019 in the food and beverage sector alone, according to a Zion Research report, companies catering to the large industrial players will continue to modernize and perfect robot delivery technology, further leading to the potential for a trickle-down of more applications.
If Chip can handle the halls and elevators of a hotel, we’re already at the point where robots could deliver inside sports and entertainment venues, at least inside premium spaces where foot traffic isn’t as challenging and venue operators search for the latest technology to set them apart from competition.
And if robots can deliver takeout from a restaurant to your doorstep in Washington, D.C., it isn’t a leap to expect them to also deliver food—or other items—across convention center floors, through back halls or from the kitchen to the dining hall.
Beyond deliveries, robots have another opportunity within venues. IBM hinted as much as the 2016 U.S. Open tennis event at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, New York City, where IBM worked to push its new tournament app with Watson-driven cognitive reasoning that could point fans to the shortest restroom line or the nearest smoothie concoction. To promote the app, IBM ushered a robot, Pepper, into the media halls to give a form to the working of the app.
While Pepper never made its way outside to help patrons roaming the grounds, it had the ability to do so, putting robots—whether food delivery or concierge service—just one step away from sports and entertainment venues.


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MANAGEMENT
 
Posted: 1 May 2017, 5:00 pm

Nick Barnes has joined United Talent Agency (UTA) as a digital strategy agent, based in the agency’s Nashville office. Barnes has spent the last three years as director of fan engagement and digital for Eric Church, while a member of global management firm Q Prime. Prior to that, Barnes spent three years as manager of digital marketing at Sony Music Nashville and Arista Records.

John Behling  has been named chief marketing officer at Opry Entertainment Group, Nashville. Prior to joining Opry Entertainment, Behling served as executive VP of marketing for House of Blues Entertainment.

STRI Group has strengthened its UK regional consultancy operation with the addition of two new turfgrass agronomists. Michael Boyes joins STRI after a distinguished career in greenkeeping where he worked in Spain, Dubai and over five years at Loch Lomond Golf Club, Alexandria, U.K. He will be based in Milton Keynes covering the south of England and south midlands. Gary Walters will be based out of STRI headquarters in Bingley, West Yorkshire, U.K. Walters arrives from Myerscough College, Preston, U.K., where he worked as a full-time lecturer.

Nicolò Brambilla has joined Schuler Shook’s Melbourne, Australia, office as senior lighting designer. Brambilla has nearly 14 years of experience in the lighting industry. He has worked in Australia, Milan, The Netherlands, Hong Kong, China and Southeast Asia.

Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia) Convention Centre (the Centre) has appointed John Burke as its new deputy GM. Prior to joining the Centre, Burke was director of operations, Oman Convention & Exhibition Centre (OCEC), Muscat. 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.

Mark Camillo is a new board member for Prevent Advisors. 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 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.

Natalie Caplan has been promoted to the position of vice president of entertainment at Arena Network. Caplan was formerly director of entertainment for Arena Network. Caplan previously worked for Nederlander Concerts, Los Angeles, for 14 years as director of artist relations at the Greek Theatre.

Michael Downing has joined Prevent Advisors as vice president of security. Prior to this, Downing spent the majority of his career with the LAPD, becoming deputy chief of police over a 35-year tenure. He is considered a leading global expert in both public safety and counterterrorism. 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.

Ticketmaster has appointed sports and entertainment industry veteran Greg Economou as chief commercial officer and head of sports. Economou most recently served as executive VP and chief revenue officer at Dick Clark Productions.

SMG and Symphony Orchestra Augusta (SOA) have tapped Marty Elliott to be the new GM at Miller Theater, Augusta, Ga. Elliott has more than 20 years of industry experience most recently in the greater Atlanta area leading the Fifth Third Bank Stadium and the Sports and Entertainment Park at Kennesaw (Ga.) State University.

United Talent Agency (UTA) has hired Joe Eshenbaugh as an agent in its comedy touring department. Eshenbaugh joins UTA after five years at Innovative Artists where he was a comedy agent. He will be based in Los Angeles.

Kentucky Venues has hired two key executives and promoted another. Gary Friedman is the new chief revenue officer for Kentucky Exposition Center, Kentucky International Convention Center (KICC) and in-house produced events. North American International Livestock Expo and Kentucky Hoopfest. Friedman most recently served as GM of Louisville Arena Sports and Entertainment Properties at the KFC Yum! Center, Louisville, Ky. Patrick Gregory is the new director of sales at KICC. He most recently served as director of resort parks for the Kentucky State Park system. Kentucky venues executive budget director Kevin Moore has been promoted to chief financial officer. Formerly with Louisville Metro Finance, Moore has been with Kentucky Venues since 2013.

Publicist Mike Gowen has been promoted to the position of account executive at The Mitch Schneider Organization (MSO). Gowen started with the company 2012 as a part-time assistant before advancing to the position of executive assistant to the president. In 2014, Gowen advanced to associate publicist.

Denise Gonzales has been hired as director of entertainment for Arena Network. 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 at Live Nation.

Craig Hassall has been appointed CEO of the Royal Albert Hall, London. Prior to this, he was the chief executive of Opera Australia. Prior to that, Hassall was CEO of the English National Ballet and COO of Raymond Gubbay Ltd. He also consulted on cultural aspects of the London 2012 Olympic Games. Hassall replaces Chris Cotton who left his post after seven and a half years.

Auerbach Consultants has promoted three staff members and welcomed back a team member. Robert Hill is a new principal and studio manager for the San Francisco office. Emily Brainerd is a new associate and worked at Iowa State University, Ames, prior to joining the firm. Kevin Macpherson is the new LEED AP as well as a new associate and previously worked as a scenic and lighting designer and production manager in New York City, both on and Off Broadway. Grace Gavin Rhodes has rejoined the firm as a senior associate after relocating to Europe.

Reno-Sparks Convention and Visitors Authority (RSCVA) has named Art Jimenez executive director of tourism sales. Most recently, he was the VP of marketing for Travel Leaders Group. Prior to that, Jimenez spent more than 17 years in multiple leadership positions at the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority.

Agent David Klein has joined the Los Angeles office of United Talent Agency (UTA). Klein comes to UTA from Creative Artists Agency (CAA), where he spent nearly 12 years. Klein began his career at Electric Factory Concerts, Philadelphia, before joining CAA in 2005.

Andy Miller has been hired as executive director, global partnerships at Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment. Miller most recently served as director of national sales for NBC Olympics & Sports Ventures, where he managed western regional partnerships. Miller will work out of the West Coast Office.

Madison Square Garden Company (MSG) has hired Darren Pfeffer as executive vice president of MSG Live. Pfeffer joins the company after spending the last two decades at iHeartMedia, where he most recently served as senior vice president of music and entertainment marketing.  
Michael Rodriguez is a new board member of Prevent Advisors. Rodriguez currently serves as director of security for the United States Tennis Association 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.

Juan Rodriguez has accepted the position of executive vice president and general manager for BBVA Compass Stadium, Houston. Rodriguez worked in Houston for SMG at NRG Stadium for 14 years prior to moving to Sacramento to become senior VP and general manager of the then under-construction Golden 1 Center, Sacramento. Rodriguez starts the new job June 15.

Gold Medal Products has hired Andy Shang as VP, engineering. Most recently, Shang served as director of quality and engineering with Henny Penny.

Tina Suca has joined Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment 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 Arena Network; GM of Nassau (N.Y.) Veterans Memorial Coliseum under SMG; GM of The Forum, Inglewood, Calif.; and GM of The Wiltern, Los Angeles. Suca will work out of the West Coast office.

IMN Solutions has named Melissa Tighe, VP, client development. Tighe is a hospitality veteran, joining IMN Solutions after spending the last six years with Starwood Hotels & Resorts in the Washington, D.C. market.

Thomas Tingle, has joined the DLR Group Sports studio, Overland Park, Kan., as a client leader. Tingle brings 30 years of diverse experience in the sports industry and has been responsible for the development of several high profile sports venues across the U.S.


PASSINGS

ALVIN RICHARDS — 79, assistant general manager and then general manager, Calgary (Alberta) Convention Centre, April 8. A long-time International Association of Venue Managers member, Richards started his career in the Canadian Forces and spent some time in the oil business. Richards’ was a long time tourism promoter and sports fan. He is survived by his wife, Muriel, and was a devoted husband, father and grandfather.


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THE KING OF CHANGE
 
Posted: 1 May 2017, 5:00 pm

Jordan Silberman is on the fast track to becoming a GM and his secret sauce is being flexible and willing to take on any challenge. The current VP of operations at Verizon Center, Washington, D.C., started in the finance department in 2005 at the venue owned by Monumental Sports & Entertainment, progressing through a series of new opportunities, including the rare position in the venue world of director of accessibility.
His 12 years of experience (he is 29) truly began even earlier, as a sometime volunteer and dedicated hockey fan when his father, Barry Silberman, ran the old Capital Centre, Landover, Md., predecessor to downtown’s Verizon Center.
After graduating from Miami University, Oxford, Ohio, with a business degree Silberman applied for a job, any job, at Verizon Center.
“My mom’s water broke in quarter one at the Cap Centre at a Washington Commanders arena football game on July 16, 1987. I was literally born into this world — this organization really,” Silberman said.
His dad was involved in an arena soccer league from 1994 to 1998, just a tad ahead of the market, and Jordan was a ballboy for the Washington Warthogs, a hint of what he was going to become — ready to try anything. “I grew up at concerts and sports events and I’m a diehard Washington Capitals fan. I became a hockey player because of my love for the Capitals.” He’s a runner, a golfer and a newly married man, having married Jacquelyn in October 2016.
Three lessons Silberman has learned from his dad and mentor: Take  initiative, make decisions as if you owned the company, and treat others the way you want to be treated.
Another mentor, Dave Touhey, president of venues at Monumental Sports & Entertainment, taught Silberman to never close a door on an opportunity and to continue to learn and continue to grow.
“He has a good head on his shoulders,” Touhey said of Silberman. “He’s very detail oriented. He’s not afraid of taking on a project, job or problem and working to a solution. No matter what it is, he’s thorough…and fearless.”
Bill Harpole, his predecessor in operations who set up this department, taught Silberman what it takes “to operate in this city in this department.”
Operating in the nation’s capital means “you never know who is going to pop up at an event and what kind of ramifications that will have,” Silberman said. Presidents, past presidents, vice presidents and high profile international events are part of his life.
“You can have a plan for something and it gets completely blown up by the Secret Service. That’s our environment; you can only control so much and have to take advantage of your time when you have it,” Silberman said. Experience doesn’t help, either, because the situation is always different and the Secret Service never runs a pattern.
Jordan has grown his managerial skills by working his way through the departments at Verizon Center, taking on event settlement, then event manager, then director of accessible seating, where he oversaw all the venue’s Americans with Disabilities department needs.
Though he enjoyed the unique role for the six months he held it, the offer to be VP of Operations was too in-line with his goals to pass up. As VP of Operations, he has eight managers to lead, two unions to negotiate with and about 45 fulltime staff to oversee.
His emphasis is in streamlining efficiencies. “This organization has been around for 40 years, and a lot of the staff has worked for Cap Center and Verizon Center. We are slowly and surely changing things for the better, not just doing what we always did,” Silberman said.
This year, they added an arena football team, the Washington Valor, to the resident teams, which include the National Basketball Association Wizards, National Hockey League Capitals, Women’s National Basketball Association Mystics and Georgetown University teams.
“It’s an achievement for us to get through that. I play a big role in helping coordinate, but it’s all on my managers and people who really grind it in and make that happen,” said Silberman, praising his staff.
The biggest challenge is the wear and tear on your body with so many events, including the stretch of 95 events across 70 days with 46 changeovers. To incentivize the operations team for such a grueling schedule, Silberman introduced a contest. Anyone who made it through the first week of three weeks straight of events was entered into a drawing for tickets to a game; two straight weeks in and the drawing was for $250; and if you made it through all three weeks never missing a call, and 15 guys were able to do so, the drawing was for a 60-inch TV.
“Just making sure people are here is the number one priority in that span. We got through it. We didn’t miss any deadlines. Since I’ve been here, we’ve always had the ice ready and always had the court down,” Silberman said.
Stepping in in the middle of a major renovation project is a challenge for any operations director. Silberman faced that challenge with renovation of the 10,000-sq.-ft. VIP Club.
Silberman saw it as a great learning experience. Despite some major issues in the final days of construction, like a resin floor that didn’t meet slip resistance requirements that had to be redone, they got the luxury club open.
This is the life of an operations director. He always has to come up with a plan B, especially when Verizon Center is into its Wizards/Caps, Wizards/Caps rotation.
“I pride myself on knowing what I know and knowing what I don’t. I’ve lived with timing. Can we do a doubleheader: Wizards in the morning, Caps at night? I’ve lived it and I know that can be done.”
What if something is proposed that can’t be done? “I can give my opinion, but usually we’re going to do it anyway,” Silberman admitted.
One of those moments occurred when they had a Rally for Life and Youth Mass as a morning event, followed by a Caps game that evening at the same time Washington was experiencing a blizzard. After the Rally and halfway through the changeover, the Capitals cancelled the game, so they switched gears and prepared the basketball court for the next event.
“We went from concert to half of a hockey setup to a basketball setup all within a span of nine hours, and were still able to get our crew out of the city before the blizzard really hit,” Silberman recalled.
He would like another big challenge — a championship run during his tenure. “But just looking at the calendar and seeing everything we made happen is pretty cool.”


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A PASSION FOR THE INDUSTRY
 
Posted: 1 May 2017, 5:00 pm

A strong work ethic, making people feel special and going the extra mile all make Lucy Albers a wonderful employee and coworker. 
“The combination of her creativity, attention to detail and her strong passion for the industry is what makes her a valuable member of our team,” said Chris Semrau, assistant general manager of Denny Sanford Premier Center, Sioux Falls, S.D.
Albers started working for SMG when she was 25 years old as a box office rep. Semrau has watched her career flourish.
She’s now 31 and the senior marketing manager for SMG at Denny Sanford Premier Center.
“It’s a very cool thing,” said Albers. “I definitely have very surreal moments at times thinking, ‘Wow, this is my job.’ I love what I do, and I love being here. Everyday I get to come here, and work on something different and something new.”
She excelled in her roles with the box office and eventually became the assistant box officer manager. A short time later she was promoted to marketing manager. In 2016, she was promoted once again to her current role — a role that is a perfect fit, Semrau said.
“I think her execution of announcement activities for artists such as Paul McCartney, promotion for mega artists like Elton John … and doing little things like making gifts for the crew, all make her stand out,” he said. “She’ll set up food and snack bars in the back of the house for truck drivers on show days.”
Albers played a key role in opening the Denny Sanford Premier Center in 2014, helping with advertising, annual reports and a new publication for the new venue.
“I just love it when we have a full house of 12,000 to 14,000 people,” she said. “You’re essentially creating an experience and a memory for everyone else.”
Because she’s constantly working with booking managers and marketing big shows and games, Albers is consistently asked if she meets famous people.
“I get that question a lot,” she laughed. “It’s usually shaking their hand really fast. I did get to meet Ed Sheeran once. I think my boss knew I was a fan out to meet him. I don’t remember any of it, as I blacked out at the time.”
She’s having such a great time in her current job that if you were to ask her about her dream job, she’ll say she’s got it. So where does she see herself 10 years from now?
“I definitely want to stay in this industry,” said Albers. “I love the marketing side of things. Long term, I just hope I can stay in the industry and keep proving myself.”
Albers loves her coworkers and how dedicated they are to their jobs.
“I surround myself with people who are so motivated to do things,” she said. “I know everyone in our office is like that. We have a fairly young office.”
Albers is inspired to consistently work on herself and excel both professionally and personally. Also, her friends and coworkers all have the same passion she does to do well.
“I surround myself with people in their late 20s and early 30s. Everyone seems so ambitious,” Albers said.
Originally, she went to school to be a journalist. She worked for her college newspaper at South Dakota State University, Brookings, and majored in journalism.
“I do miss being able to write about upcoming events,” Albers said, noting that although she’s not a professional journalist, she’s very happy with her current career path. She also enjoys the excitement that goes into her work.
“The shows are constantly revolving. We get to be creative. We get to push ourselves and do all these different things for different events,” she said.


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VIRTUALLY LIVE
 
Posted: 1 May 2017, 5:00 pm

VR_Bullpen.jpgThe promises of Virtual Reality (VR) are here. Once a pipedream, venues are now using it to enhance the fan experience in ways unheard of before. Sports teams are using it to let fans experience the player’s point-of-view (POV). Universities are using it to help with recruiting and concert promoters are using it to send the live experience to fans who can’t get to a show. In the century of consumer choice, the days when you had to leave your house and go to a venue appear to be at a crossroads with technology that says you don’t. While this delights some, others are worried about the impact that VR will eventually have on the venue industry as we know it.
“We’re just entering the age of true consumer adoption of VR,” said Matt Mason, SVP, brand engagement, R&R Partners. “Because of things like PlayStation VR and Samsung Gear, people are finally able to interface with VR content. The technology has really advanced to the point that the creation of VR product has a low barrier of entry and the ubiquity of the products where you view the products are right there in the ledge. The golden period of VR is at our door.”
Mason said that VR can be as simple as “something a kid could put on YouTube or Facebook, which both have a native player associated with them” to hardware devices which include Google cardboard (an inexpensive cardboard VR box that costs $1-$2), an eye piece you can attach to your phone ($20-$80), the PlayStation ($400) and Samsung ($99) products to a high-end, tethered devices like HTC vive ($800) and Oculus ($600, but then you’ll need a high-powered Oculus Ready computer costing $950 to use it.)
Low-end VR content can be shot on sub-$500, 360-degree cameras, with high-end, tricked-out cameras starting at around $20,000 but, according to Mason, “most VR content today is shot on a series on Go Pros set in a very specific arrangement to capture each specific angle that needs to be captured.”
R&R Partners entered the venue-centric VR field with an activation for the National Hockey League, which wanted to celebrate the 125th Stanley Cup. “We wanted to let the fans engage with what it would be like to have the Stanley Cup brought out at the end of a winning season,” he explained. “So we created the experience through VR. What made it even better was when it was activated, and the actual Stanley Cup was presented at PPG Paints Arena, Pittsburgh, to the Pittsburgh Penguins, people could take off their headsets and see it all happening in front of them live and reach out and touch the cup.”
The Arizona Diamondbacks, who play at Chase Field, Phoenix, wanted to create “what it feels like to be in the dugout, what it feels like to be in the bullpen, what it feels like to watch as the ball gets thrown from the pitcher to the batter,” he said. “We wanted to give fans the ability to get into the locker room or a suite.” Mason also suggested that VR where fans get to “tag along with the player throughout the day and experience what he sees” is powerful.
Graham Rossini, VP, special projects and fan experience, Arizona Diamondbacks, said the venue wanted to get the fans as close to the baseball action as possible and brought in Cox Communications to sponsor it. “This was the ideal scenario where we had like-minded partners at the table,” he said.
Six headsets were available on opening day in a dedicated space. “R&R shot a lot of footage during spring training,” explained Rossini. “Batting practice, base running drills, infield work, pitchers in the bullpens and they got the camera in places a fan would not be able to see either in-stadium or on a television screen.” Rossini said that they are still producing content for the VR experience and they continue to add more VR product in as they roll it out.
“It’s been enormously popular,” he said. “We’ve seen 400-500 people a night.”
The fan reaction has been “really positive, a lot of jaws dropping, a lot of wows,” he said. Conversations are underway with Major League Baseball (MLB) to incorporate some of the Chase Field footage onto the Ballpark app.
Mason said that the experience was not just made for the in-venue fans. “Both activations are being used for marketing,” he said. “They are pushing it through their social channels and putting it on YouTube.”
University of Mississippi’s Leah Beasley is using VR to marry the fan experience with selling premium seats and recruiting.
“We’re just diving into VR,” said Beasley. “We send VR boxes to season ticket holders. When the fan is on the VR box, the fan feels like they are part of the team. They can see what it’s like to be that close to an athlete. It helps in getting them to want to renew.”
Beasley also uses VR on the venue app to give fans the upclose and personal view of exciting things that just happened at a game. “We can do VR of kickoff or a great play and can get one up in 10 minutes,” she said.
Beasley was also thrilled with the ability to give the team recruiters VR boxes to take to a potential student athlete’s home. Dave Butler, Spectra Ticketing and Fan Engagement’s president and CEO, loved the VR box and said, “It’s a cool tool for season ticket holders or prospective students.”
Ballena Technologies makes VR software. Steve Stonehouse, Ballena, said, “most clients don’t have VR ready images and we can create them.” Stonehouse also suggested getting a sponsor to foot the bill for the VR. “We can put any logo on the program so when the fan looks at the VR they see the logo.”
A new release of Ballena’s Seats3D Platform, version 6.0, has full VR capability built in. “Clients that are renovating venues are using VR to send to top donors to preview what the renovated venue will look like when it’s done. This is used for donations or for previewing what the premium seats will look like,” explained Stonehouse.
NextVR is “building the world’s largest distribution platform for VR,” said Danny Keens, VP, content, NextVR. Currently, NextVR’s platform houses VR content from the National Football League (NFL), National Basketball Association (NBA), FOX Sports, US Open Tennis and many others. The platform is sponsor driven; sponsors include Samsung (NBA), Lexus (Golf and US Open), Toyota (Daytona 500), Audi, (International Champions Cup soccer games) and Citibank (Live Nation). 
It’s not just sports that are getting in on the VR revolution. Live Nation last year launched its virtual reality partnership with NextVR through the broadcast of a concert by music act Thievery Corporation. Live Nation and NextVR announced last May that they would collaborate to broadcast hundreds of live performances in VR to music fans worldwide. “It’s a multiyear partnership,” said Keens.
One such venture will be May 20, when Guns ‘N’ Roses guitarist Slash will be broadcast in VR when he performs at the 50th anniversary of the Los Angeles Zoo. Slash will appear in a live gig, and fans will also be given the chance to access VR behind-the-scenes footage features including a look at Slash’s rehearsal and an interview. The live VR content, sponsored by Citibank, will be broadcast on the NextVR app, for free.
As for the future, when a fan can watch an entire game on a VR headset, Mason said the technology is there, if not the will, yet. “Basketball, for instance, is challenging because you are constantly moving your head back and forth, but baseball presents a much better opportunity,” he said. “It’s really up to the rightsholders to decide when they want to make this an option.”
NextVR and the NBA have already dipped their toes in the full-game VR water. NBA basketball games, which are shown in their entirety, are “ticketed” at $6.99 a game or $199 for the whole season and get less expensive as the season progresses. “But only the regular season games,” said Keens. “The rights to the playoffs and championships are still strictly held by the major TV broadcasters.”
“Everybody is feeling their way through the right applications for VR,” said Rossini about a possible ticketed-VR game-day experience. “Anything is possible. We don’t have specific plans, but we are definitely capturing information to help decide what we’ll do next.”
TicketIQ chief executive Jesse Lawrence is concerned with VR and it’s impact on the future of live events. “VR is poised to disrupt the current event-attendance model,” he said, and he predicts ticket prices will fall. “If fans choose to watch events from the comfort of their own homes, knowing they can enjoy a front-row experience via their VR headset, this could be an industry disruptor.”
“In such a world, there’s never a sell-out and there’s always a sideline seat available at a fraction of the price of a real one,” warns Lawrence. “Companies like NextVR are already pushing toward a virtual future with unlimited supply.”
Keens disagrees. “Part of the power of VR is the ability to transport to a place,” he said. “But there is nothing like being at a live event. We’re not trying to cannibalize a live event as much as replicate it. The NBA has hundreds of thousands of fans that will never set foot inside an arena. Concerts get sold out. VR won’t change that but will supplement it.”


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THE COMPANY MAN
 
Posted: 1 May 2017, 5:00 pm

Michael Sulkes is a company man. Solid and steady, he’s not the kind of guy who abandons the ship for the latest and greatest opportunity; he’s content to stick to what he knows and with the people he knows. Proof of this is the fact that Sulkes has spent his entire adult working life at the same place — Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia.
Sulkes’ father, Neil Sulkes, has been in the industry for close to 40 years. He’s held a number of positions throughout his career beginning with Electric Factory, then SMG, Global Spectrum and World Café Live. 
Never intending to go into his dad’s business, Sulkes went through an “astronaut phase,” a “hockey player phase” and a “teacher phase,” but at some point he decided that a career in sports and entertainment was for him after all.
“Growing up around the industry, I was lucky enough to attend a lot of events and learn the basic ins and outs,” said Sulkes. “I never really thought I’d actually get into it, but in high school and college everyone’s advice was, ‘do what you love.’ And like (Seinfeld’s) George Costanza once said, ‘I like sports, I can do something in sports.’ So I thought, ok, well I know the business, let’s give it a shot.” 
Sulkes’ first foray in the industry was as an intern for the Philadelphia Flyers. His first paying job was as a coordinator for the Ed Snider (former owner of the Flyers) foundation. In 2012, Sulkes made a sharp turn into venue management and took the job of event manager at Wells Fargo Center.
“I was event manager for a few years and then became the director of events, overseeing the other event managers and all the events in 2014,” he explained. “When John Page took over as president of the building in September 2015, he made me assistant general manager of the venue.”
“I have my hand in a little bit of everything and help John Page in any way I can,” said Sulkes.
Sulkes downplays his accomplishments and avoids touting his achievements, but there are many. He’s highly involved in the managing of the day-to-day operations at the Wells Fargo Center and oversees all the bookings. He’s been instrumental in pursuing new business opportunities for the facility.
Sulkes has also taken the lead on many marquee events the venue has hosted, including the recent 2016 Democratic National Convention (DNC), National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Frozen Four, multiple NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournaments, the National Hockey League draft and major global touring concerts including last spring’s historic Pearl Jam concerts, Paul McCartney’s 2015 Out There tour and the Rolling Stones’ 50th Anniversary tour. Sulkes also played a key role in Wells Fargo Center’s 20th anniversary campaign and led the charge to create a free, community open house birthday party.
“Our late founder, Ed Snider, believed in hiring good people and letting them do their job,” said John Page, president, Wells Fargo Complex. “Michael Sulkes is a by-product of our culture. He has grown up within our company, starting as a coordinator of hockey operations with the Ed Snider Youth Hockey Foundation working his way up to his current role as AGM of the Wells Fargo Center.”
“As a second-generation arena operator, he was raised in this environment and knows the ins and outs of the industry,” said Page. “As a leader, he has an incredible ability to rally his team together to achieve great things. This past August we celebrated the Wells Fargo Center’s 20th Anniversary and the current fiscal year is one of our busiest ever.”
“Michael was our liaison with the DNC and his team was challenged to transform the arena into the site for last summer’s Democratic National Convention. He also oversaw the 2016 NCAA Men’s East Regionals last March. Michael is an integral member of our team’s success and is well respected among the staff and his peers throughout our company and the industry.”
“Everyday is different,” said Sulkes. “I work with a lot of really great people here. We all work hard but also have a lot of fun while we’re doing it. There’s definitely a true team atmosphere here.”
Sulkes described “the coolest thing I was involved in,” which was when his favorite band, Pearl Jam, played their 10th straight sell out at the center. “We hung a banner from the rafters that said “TEN,” which, coincidentally, is the name of Pearl Jam’s  first album. When they came out, they had the lighting people throw all the spotlights up on the banner and then they played the “Ten” album from beginning to end, something they’ve never done live. It was incredible.”
Sulkes lowpoint was when they lost a concert due to a production issue. “Good communication made getting everyone out of here safely,” he recalled. Another surprise was when Wells Fargo Center had a Pope-visit related event and the guests arrived 10 hours before the start time. “None of us envisioned pulling into the parking lot at 8 a.m. and seeing thousands of people waiting to get into an event scheduled for much, much later.” Sulkes opened the doors early, called in staff and made everyone as comfortable as possible.
Another memorable event for Sulkes was the Democratic National Convention. “We worked on this for a year and a half leading up to the event,” he said. “As it got closer and closer, and boots landed on the ground, it was full-on and nonstop. We had the Secret Service to deal with, the Democratic National Committee, the media and dozens of different organizations. Trying to coordinate that was difficult, but I learned a lot from the experience.”
Finding a work/life balance has been a little daunting for Sulkes; he wants to be there for every event. “I’ve had to learn how to not be here for certain things and try to enjoy life outside the center. It took awhile, but I’m getting better at it,” he offered, not quite convincingly.
Sulkes doesn’t see leaving the venue world anytime soon. “I love this side of the industry,” he said. “It’s sports, major concerts, family shows, that’s what makes the job so exciting.”
Sulkes hopes, as any stalwart company man does, that one day he’ll move up, with parent-company Comcast, of course, and get his own building. But it may mean leaving Wells Fargo Center, the only place he’s ever known. “That would be a tough transition,” he said. “I’m so used to coming here I’d probably drive straight here on autopilot for weeks.”


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GENERATION NEXT 2017 AWARDS
 
Posted: 1 May 2017, 4:30 pm

Two of our 2017 Generation Next winners are also second-generation venue management pros. In 2002, Venues Today published an article titled Boomerang Babies, featuring sons and daughters of fathers and mothers who decided to follow in their parent’s footsteps and enter the venue industry.
But that was a different day. There were a lot fewer of us and venue managers tended to look at the big picture. Venue management was entrepreneurial and individual in spirit and practice.
To Jordan Silberman, Verizon Center, Washington, D.C., who is the son of Barry Silberman, who used to run the Cap Centre, Landover, Md., predecessor to Verizon Center, it’s not the same as in his dad’s day.
“It’s a lot more corporate now, it’s big business. My dad was on the frontier of this world. There are a lot more opportunities for me than there were for him when he was starting. I don’t take that lightly. But definitely, it’s more corporate, there’s more at play, there’s a job for everything,” Silberman said.
But in some ways it’s the same. If you’re in this business for the long term, you love it. Every venue professional ever interviewed (or so it seems) loves this job because of the diversity, that every day is different. And that the job is about making memories, hosting people at a special time in their lives.
As GenNexter Lucy Albers, Denny Sanford Premier Center, Sioux Falls, S.D., put it: “I love what I do, and I love being here. Everyday I get to come here and work on something different and something new.”
Congratulations to all five of our 2017 Generation Next winners. Here are their stories.


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MAC Presents President Marcie Allen Interviews Wasserman COO Will Pleasants
 
Posted: 1 May 2017, 4:00 pm

pleasants.jpgAs Chief Operating Officer for Wasserman (www.teamwass.com), the global “culture-centric” branding, marketing and sports representation agency, Will Pleasants is responsible for the influential business development, human resources, IT, and overall day-to-day operations for the 550-plus employees around the globe. Before assuming COO duties over a year ago, Pleasants was COO of the firm’s marketing division, working with the Managing Partners to lead that division’s tremendous growth and diversification of service offerings. Brand clients include American Express, Microsoft, and Spotify; the agency’s athlete clients include the NBA’s Anthony Davis and Russell Westbrook, MLB’s Giancarlo Stanton and the NFL’s Andrew Luck. According to eventmarketer.com, 2016 saw Wasserman engage in 1,885 event days, 86 projects in 15 countries, 3.3 million consumer attendees and a whopping 1.26 billion social media impressions, a number that is projected to increase in the wake of Wasserman’s acquisition of NYC-based Laundry Service, a digital shop with more than 1,000 social media influencers. Prior to joining Wasserman, Pleasants served as director of strategic planning with Group CSE, worked with the Orlando Magic, and spent time with NIKE.
Interviewer Marcie Allen, founder and president of MAC Presents, a music-oriented experiential branding and sponsorship agency based in New York, is a visionary in the branding/sponsorships space in her own right, having negotiated and executed a wealth of high-profile partnerships between blue-chip brands and elite artists, among them Sony, Southwest Airlines, YouTube, Microsoft, Verizon, Samsung, Citi, Delta, AT&T and artists including Foo Fighters, the Rolling Stones, Green Day, Billy Joel, John Legend, Imagine Dragons, and Keith Urban.

MARCIE ALLEN: You’ve been at Wasserman for more than a decade. How has the role — and importance — of experiential marketing shifted over that time?
WILL PLEASANTS: We have seen tremendous growth and evolution in experiential marketing during the past decade. Today, it is less about creating massive spectacles to engage with an in-person audience and more about how to extend the physical activation experience into the digital space and creating shareable content in order to reach a wider audience. Experiential marketing is one of the best ways for a brand to create strategic, original content that they can truly own and that their consumers can capture and share as well. This content can be used in a variety of ways by the brand, including for digital content, social content and in traditional marketing and advertising campaigns.

How often does the TV viewing experience come into play when you’re negotiating sports sponsorships vs. the on-site experiential component, and how has that shifted in recent years?
It isn’t necessarily an “either/or” situation when negotiating sports and entertainment sponsorships for our clients. Sometimes it is a more traditional sponsorship that will reach at-home or streaming viewers, and sometimes it is an on-site activation that will help capture content and create viral buzz, so it really depends on the specific situation. The key is to have consistency with the message at all touch points.

Do you see streaming as a friend or foe to live sports, and how has streaming adoption impacted your talks with sponsors?
We see streaming as a friend to live sports. We have to adapt to the newer generations that grow up consuming content on their tablets and phones and use social media more than they watch traditional cable. Our business needs to evolve to accommodate this shift. Streaming not only increases the number of eyeballs on an event but it also opens up new sponsorship potentials and opportunities, which is a good thing.
As far as conversations with sponsors, we advise them to be cognizant of this shift, and it’s our job to help them understand how they can best join the conversation organically. The key is understanding the landscape of who has the appropriate rights, and working with all the desired rightsholders.
Major League Soccer attendance and viewership has been significantly on the rise in the past several years, suggesting soccer could finally become a fifth major league in the States like it is in other parts of the world. What’s the brand opportunity there?
Major League Soccer (MLS) has a ton of potential, having grown its average attendance 40 percent from 10 years ago, but there’s still a long way to go before it can truly compete with the “Big Four.” That being said, brands have definitely taken notice of this shift and have started to get more and more involved in the space. Take Target for example, which made its biggest push into team sports this year by partnering with both MLS and the Minnesota United on a jersey sponsorship deal. I think you will start to see more deals like these come out, since the market is much less saturated than other sports, and there are a lot more opportunities for brands to make their mark and get involved from the ground floor with the league.

Aside from Wasserman’s work, what’s the most innovative sports marketing you saw in the past 12 months and why?
I loved Hyundai’s in-game “commercial” during this year’s Super Bowl that followed U.S. troops stationed in Poland. It was a bold move to do things completely different from everyone else and film their commercial not before, but during the actual game, giving troops the opportunity to watch the game live with their families using 360-degree camera technology. Pulling this off essentially meant fitting months of hard work and planning into a three-hour timeslot to create a live commercial on the spot. Not only was this incredibly difficult to shoot, but it ended up being one of the most buzzed-about and effective ads of the entire night.

Music has long trailed sports in terms of sponsorship investment – IEG reported brands spent $15.7 billion on sports sponsorship in 2016 vs. $1.47 billion in music. Why do you think that gap remains, and what can the music industry do to make itself more buyer-friendly?
Sports is one of the last events that people make a point to watch live. If you don’t watch the big game live, not only are you missing out on the playing action, but you are also missing out on all of the social conversation and moments that happen in real-time online. Sports fans are tweeting while watching live and brands want to engage them.
  The difference in the music industry is that — outside of concerts — music is rarely consumed live or broadcasted, so you don’t have the same sponsorship and social opportunities that you do in sports. However, the audience for music is as enormous and diverse as the artists themselves, so there is ample opportunity for marketers to come up with fresh and creative sponsorship solutions.
  I believe you will see more and more dollars flow into music partnerships for two reasons.  One, artists are seeing the value of these partnerships and looking to do more with brands — especially those that are authentic to the artist.  Two, while sports partnerships are typically longer term music partnerships many times allow you to be more nimble and “heavy up” in a shorter window for a product launch, etc.
But smart marketers — both brands and properties — realize how sports and music can, and should, work together.  For example, at the Final Four recently, the three days of nightly concerts (March Madness Fest) were just as popular as the games, and created a great atmosphere for the organizing committee and the city.


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Randy Phillips: President and CEO of LiveStyle (formerly SFX)
 
Posted: 1 May 2017, 4:00 pm

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, (a version of this appeared in VT Pulse May 3), Phillips talked about how LiveStyle (producer of such major festival brands as Electric Zoo, Mysteryland and Tomorrowland, and many others) would synergize its substantial—if disparate—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 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 promoters. Beginning in 2012, SFX began buying up electronic music fest producers and promoters—paying high multiples of annual revenues—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 series of ongoing legal entanglements.
In spending 13 years helming AEG Live, the live entertainment division of sports and entertainment firm Anschutz Entertainment Group, Phillips’ appetite for risk was well-known as he steered the company to 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 had at AEG Live, so the executive’s challenges are different, if no less daunting. In the beginning, Phillips’ first
hurdles 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’ first move was naming 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 exclusive 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.

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 love 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.

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 is a perception issue.
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. 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.

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.
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.

Talk to me about that process.
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.
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. Holland is the biggest festival market in the world. So 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 SFX. 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. That was the first thing I did when I took over the company, and 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, their COO Bruno 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. There was no corporate culture at SFX, I had to create one from scratch.

How would you describe the culture when you came in?
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.
I think a trademark of your tenure at AEG Live was letting talented people do what they do as opposed to micromanaging. It appears that’s the approach at LiveStyle; you’re not going to be able to go in and run Freaky Deaky, right?
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.
Assess your business today.

Tomorrowland [Brussels, Belgium] is up, and introduced a second weekend, and have 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.
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. I pulled the plug on that about two weeks ago.

Why does this genre intrigue you as a live entertainment producer?
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.
Is there a danger in associating so strongly with one specific genre?
Yes. I always felt, even when I was sitting at the desk as CEO of AEG Live, I remember reading the 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.

So you have specific ideas about what you want to do?
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.

Do you see LiveStyle entering the tour promotion game?
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.

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

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

Are they so far?
Yes.


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THE VENUE CHEERLEADER
 
Posted: 1 May 2017, 4:00 pm

It’s not usual that a Gen Next nominee gets a celebrity endorsement, but John Ciolfi, 30, is not your everyday venue marketing manager. With celebrity friends in his corner, it’s no wonder that John Ciolfi, 30, is a superstar at work.
Ciolfi didn’t intend to get into the venue industry. It came to him.
“My twin brother and I started coaching cheerleading in 2005 at the same high school we cheered at,” explained Ciolfi, marketing manager for SMG at Dunkin’ Donuts Center (DDC) & Rhode Island Convention Center, Providence, about how he got hooked into his job. “Paula Abdul was working on a cheerleading project with SMG and the DDC in the beginning of summer 2013. They were looking for local people in the state with knowledge and experience in the cheerleading industry. In March of 2013, our high school team won the state championship, which gave my twin brother Jesse and I some local exposure. DDC called us in for an interview with Paula, and we began working on the cheerleading project with her and the team throughout the summer of 2013.”
Ciolfi never left. Once the project was concluded, he was hired fulltime as an assistant in the marketing department. “My duties were very light,” said Ciolfi. “My director told me the most important thing to do at the time was build relationships with other people.” Relationship building is what Ciolfi is all about and he was off to the races. “I met with people at the radio stations, the TV stations and the hospitality associations, and I got familiar with the people I’d be working with on a day-to-day basis.”
Sensing a star in the making, Ciolfi’s bosses quickly grew his responsibilities. “I worked closely with the operations department, box-office and security. I spread myself all over to meet as many people as I could and learn about the building and the business.”
Relationship building worked well for Ciolfi; after two short years he was promoted to marketing manager.
Ciolfi markets every show at DDC and the convention center. He helps create radio and TV spots. “Coming to work is fun for me,” said Ciolfi. “I’ve met so many great people throughout the years. I love media buying, promotions with radio and TV stations; I love working with our Convention & Visitors Bureau on high profile events; I love NCAA events, I love wrestling, I love everything this industry has brought through these doors.”
Adding more power to his celebrity rolodex, Ciolfi befriended Miss Rhode Island and Miss Rhode Island Teen USA, and he calls on them regularly to introduce the circus or be a celebrity judge for Monster Jam.
Ciolfi has also been instrumental in building DDC’s social media presence.  “I’ve had to teach everyone in the building how important social media is,” he said. “Social media is the leading way to reach out to people. Through networking and the people we know, we’ve seen the numbers grow year-over-year, and I find that to be very important in this industry.” 
Ciolfi and Lisa D’Ercole, the creative service manager, introduced SnapChat to the DDC and taught everyone in the building how to use it. They also coached the board of directors. “They are a little older and we needed to teach them about the importance of social media,” he said with his infectious laugh.
Ciolfi and D’Ercole report to Cheryl Cohen, DDC’s director of marketing, booking and PR. “I can’t say enough nice things about John,” said Cohen. “I call him ‘best ever’ because he truly is the best ever. He is such a hands-on, get in there, get it done type of person and is extremely easy to work with. He thinks a step ahead of everybody and makes changes without getting rattled on the fly, which is extremely valuable in this industry.”
“He’s excelled and taken on a lot of responsibility,” she said. “As I’ve taken on new roles, I’ve shifted a lot of what I used to do to John and he’s learned it all quickly. He is so well respected in the local community, everybody loves him. The people he deals with on a national level adore him as well.”
“He amazes me with the way he just takes things on,” she said, recalling the time when there was a 400-person meet-and-greet VIP package for a Luke Bryan show. “No one realized how big this was when we booked the show, and when the time came to plan it, John realized we didn’t have the a space for an event that big before the main show. He took the initiative to go to the Hilton Hotel next door, arrange it with them, and the VIP reception went off without a hitch. John saw to every little detail. Luke and his people, not to mention the fans, were all thrilled with the event.”
Event nights are Ciolfi’s favorite nights. “The building comes to life, the staff is all together, we work really hard and it all pays off when we see the fans having the time of their lives.”
Ciolfi’s attitude is refreshing on all levels. When asked about his least favorite part of his job, he struggled to come up with anything. “When you open your mind to learning new things, I don’t think you can ever have a bad time,” he said. “I can’t think of a time I left this building without a smile on my face.”
Other than winning Venues Today’s Gen Next award, “This is crazy. I can’t believe I am even having this conversation. I have read Venues Today every month since I started here.” Ciolfi is most proud of an event he started from the ground up called Stars With Guitars. “We just had our second one. The event gets bigger and better every year. We just made history with the largest guitar-pull ever in New England.”
Ciolfi sits on the Statewide Local Organizing Committee and currently works on many high profile Request For Proposal projects for the city and state. He also recently hosted several national journalists and acted as PR ambassador for the state. This past year, he was awarded the Stars of the Industry Volunteer of the Year award from the Rhode Island Hospitality Association. 
Ciolfi said he’s found a home in DDC and has no plans to leave anytime soon. “SMG is a great company to work for, and the people I work with are like my family,” he said. “If an opportunity came my way to move up, I’d consider it, for sure, but for now I’m quite happy.” 
Talented, happy and adored. Three cheers for that.


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BRINGING MOVIES TO LIVE
 
Posted: 1 May 2017, 4:00 pm

The newest bucket in the family show business is turning your favorite movies into a live experience. And CineConcerts has one of the hottest properties going — the Harry Potter Film Concert Series.
“We’ve seen with these shows that they’ve completely changed the acceptable demographics for a concert hall,” said Brady Beaubien, concert producer for the series. “We see very, very young children to grandparents. I saw 50-60-70-year-old men and women coming themselves without their kids.”
The show combines the live, local orchestra and the film, synching the live show to the movie presentation. The audience gets to hear their local orchestra play some of their favorite music while watching the film and, hopefully, they will come back to hear the orchestra again. “People like the model,” Beaubien said. “Orchestras that draw 30-40 percent capacity average for the classical music concert are seeing 90-100 percent capacity for these shows.”
“In my lifetime, there are not many properties like Harry Potter. You’d be hard pressed to find someone who didn’t read the books. The movies are an all-inclusive event and make it better,” Beaubien said.
The tour started June 23, 2016 at Mann Center for the Performing Arts, Philadelphia, which drew 17,000. But the model is to use concert halls, preferred by the producers for the added value of exquisite architecture. That kind of setting helps set the tone for Harry Potter, making it a more unique experience, Beaubien believes.
The show is bought by the venue or a local promoter. Live Nation promoted the show at the Mann and at Radio City Music Hall, New York. CineConcerts brings the conductor and the audiovisual team. The conductor rehearses two or three times with the local orchestra prior to the performance.
“We take the music very seriously. We take the responsibility of re-creating John Williams’ music live very seriously,” Beaubien said, praising the quality of musicians worldwide.
The audience sees the entire movie, frame to frame, start to finish, exactly as they saw it in the theater with one big exception: the music is completely replaced in the film with the live orchestra. “It’s a really compelling,” Beaubien said. “It’s a combination of familiar and unfamiliar. It heightens the experience.”
The audiovisual crew live mixes the show. “You never know the acoustics of the hall and idiosyncrasies of the musicians; we have to mix the sound effects and dialog track with the music,” Beaubien explained.
CineConcerts is much more efficient today than they were with the Star Trek tour they produced, when they toured the entire orchestra, a total of 100 people, all over the world. The format started with Gladiators Live, one show in 2014 at Royal Albert Hall, London. From there, CineConcerts toured and is still touring "The Godfather", "It's A Wonderful Life", "Breakfast At Tiffany's", Dreamworks Animation in Concert and Star Trek’s 50th anniversary, a montage of all the Star Trek films and their only original creation, called"Star Trek: The Ultimate Voyage".
“There are a couple of things you look for in film — it has to be a big movie in terms of its presence on screen and has to have a wonderful score. And it has to be something familiar and beloved in culture on some level,” Beaubien said.
The format is exciting and full of potential, he added. “It can be many different things utilizing the philharmonic and concert halls to present media. It’s a new way of getting people out of the house, enjoying other people. It has great energy. Shared memories. Shared experiences.”
For Harry Potter, CineConcerts is partnered with Warner Bros. Consumer Products, which owns the film rights and does merchandise for the show. They have  partnered with Paramount and Dreamworks on the other shows.
It is not limited to concert halls. Besides Mann Center, they have played the Hollywood Bowl and Microsoft Theater, Los Angeles, and Royal Albert Hall in London, which seats 5,000. It does require a good view of the screen.
Booking agent is Alex Rabens, William Morris Endeavor. There are no tour sponsors.
This year, CineConcerts will produce over 325 concerts. “In 2014 we had one show,” Beaubien said. Growth has been phenomenal and there is more, he promised, teasing that they are about to launch yet another form of film/music/live presentation.
Were they the first to do this? No. “The first was the guy on the piano during the silent movie days. I’d give that guy credit,” Beaubien said. — Linda Deckard


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TALKING POINTS
 
Posted: 1 May 2017, 3:55 pm

Todd_Hunt.jpgTODD HUNT
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, BANCORP SOUTH ARENA
AND CONFERENCE CENTER
CURRENT CITY: Tupelo, Miss.
HOMETOWN: Starkville, Miss.
UNIVERSITY: Mississippi State University, Starkville.
FIRST JOB IN THE INDUSTRY: Concert committee chair at Mississippi State University.
HOW DID YOU GET YOUR CURRENT JOB: I’ve been here twice. I was brought here by Michael Marion in 1997. He stayed six weeks and left and they made me the GM. I left in 1999 to run Humphrey Coliseum at Mississippi State, where the only other GM was my father, Gaddis Hunt. After eight years I realized that the limited shows they did weren’t enough so when the Tupelo GM job opened in 2007, I came back.
FAVORITE PART OF THE JOB: Standing side-stage when the artist goes onstage and the crowd goes wild and landing shows into what is a sub-tertiary market.
MENTORS: My dad, Michael Marion and Terry Butler.
FREE TIME PURSUITS: Work with IAVM, play golf and play the drums.
ONE-DAY ESCAPE: Skiing in Colorado.
TOP SONG ON YOUR PLAYLIST RIGHT NOW: “Unchained” by Van Halen.
FAMOUS PERSON IN HISTORY YOU WOULD LIKE TO MEET: Keith Richards.
WHAT WOULD PEOPLE BE SURPRISED TO LEARN ABOUT YOU: I have a Master’s degree in counseling.
BEST ADVICE EVER RECEIVED: Do the right thing even when no one is looking.
FAVORITE LIVE EVENT ATTENDED: A  Mississippi State (MSU) vs. Auburn football game in 2014. MSU defeated Auburn to move to number one in the country.

 

Shani_Tate1.jpgSHANI TATE
VP, MARKETING, COMMUNICATIONS & TICKET SALES, SPRINT CENTER
CURRENT CITY: Overland Park, Kansas.
HOMETOWN: Kansas City, Mo.
UNIVERSITY: University of Missouri, Columbia.
FIRST JOB IN THE INDUSTRY: I interned with the Kansas City Royals Communications department
HOW DID YOU GET YOUR CURRENT JOB: I worked on the groundbreaking of the building in 2005 and then I was offered a full time position.
YOUR FAVORITE PART OF THE JOB: I like to watch the emotions of people coming to experience live events.
WHAT WOULD YOU BE DOING IF YOU WEREN’T IN YOUR JOB: Police detective or an attorney.
MENTORS: AEG’s Brenda Tinnen and Michael Roth and Charlie Seraphin from the Texas Rangers Baseball Club.
FREE TIME PURSUITS: Spend time with my family and run around after my three-year-old twins.
ONE-DAY ESCAPE: On an island with a pristine beach and a fabulous pool, like Maui, Hawaii.
TOP SONG ON YOUR PLAYLIST RIGHT NOW: “That’s What I Like” by Bruno Mars.
FAMOUS PERSON IN HISTORY YOU WOULD YOU LIKE TO MEET: Oprah.
WHAT WOULD PEOPLE BE SURPRISED TO LEARN ABOUT YOU: I have a photographic memory, mostly in terms of numbers.
BEST ADVICE EVER RECEIVED: Just because you feel like saying something doesn’t mean people feel like hearing it.
FAVORITE LIVE EVENT ATTENDED: My first concert — Michael Jackson opening for Diana Ross when I was in kindergarten.

 

Eric_Bresler.jpgERIC BRESLER
EXECUTIVE DIR., CHASE CENTER, SAN FRANCISCO
HOMETOWN: Los Angeles.
WHERE DID YOU GO TO UNIVERSITY: University of Arizona, Tucson.
YOUR FAVORITE PART OF THE JOB: Each day there is something new happening, not only with the Chase Center, but also with the Warriors organization.
WHAT WOULD YOU BE DOING IF YOU WEREN’T IN YOUR JOB: Head of marketing for Coca Cola. The novelty of that brand has always resonated with me.
WHO IS YOUR FAVORITE MENTOR: My father, Sandy Bresler, who is a Hollywood talent agent.
TOP SONG ON YOUR PLAYLIST RIGHT NOW: “I Won’t Back Down” by Tom Petty.
ONE FAMOUS PERSON IN HISTORY YOU WOULD LIKE TO MEET: Jackie Robinson. I would love to hear what it was like for him being the first African-American in baseball.
WHAT WOULD PEOPLE BE SURPRISED TO LEARN ABOUT YOU: When I was in college I won a four-door Buick by making a layup, a free throw, a three-pointer and a half-court shot in 30 seconds.
BEST ADVICE EVER RECEIVED: Never burn bridges. This industry is very small. You never know who you may be working for, or with, down the road.
FAVORITE LIVE EVENT ATTENDED: The L.A. Kings winning the Stanley Cup against the N.J. Devils in 2012 at Staples Center, Los Angeles.


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ASK RUSS
 
Posted: 1 May 2017, 3:45 pm

It is a rewarding and satisfying feeling to stand in the back of the room and witness your vision come to life. That is the experience I enjoyed at this year’s Venue Operations Summit in Nashville.
Operations and Engineering professionals from the U.S and Canada were listening, questioning, sharing ideas, advice, and networking for a two-day period with no distractions.
I imagine that for these hard-working men and women, having some time to step back and share information, learn from their peers and participate in professional development and education without the distractions of a ringing phone or staring at a computer, or tablet screen, must feel a bit strange at first.
I was delighted to present Alex Diaz as an industry professional who has worked his way up from an operations assistant at the University of Florida to the General Manager of the “World’s Most Famous Arena,” Madison Square Garden.
Alex’s message for Operations and Engineering professionals conveyed that regardless of venue type, Operations and Engineering teams must operate within the design of the venue they’ve inherited and fulfill the business promises made by their colleagues.
He indicated that completing a challenge once, simply resets the bar (expectations) and what was deemed questionable or even previously undoable, will be the expected performance going forward.
Many of the venue design and operations challenges we face were born from valid and well-intentioned design logic, which simply changed over time. We must constantly find ways to adapt to the needs of our customers if we are going to be successful.
  You have two choices when faced with design limitations or challenges, but there is only one outcome. You can either fight it or embrace the challenges. Ultimately you will have to do the best you can, especially if you cannot change the environment in which you operate.
  Speaking of Sales and Marketing, Alex addressed the continuing challenges for Operations and Engineering professionals in maintaining a positive relationship with these groups.

HOW TO PREPARE AND DEAL WITH THE DREAM SELLERS
• Go much deeper with your venue metrics. Understand and communicate the consequences of cost and time in managing these promotions and activations.

BUDGETS
• Get involved and understand the fulfillment costs and the time constraints during the sales process. Think about reoccurring costs during the relationship.
Know what other buildings are doing. We are all better off when we share information. This was a consistent theme during the conference.
Create simple one sheet overview docs for non-operations personnel to understand what to do, i.e., Fire alarm, “What happens? What should I do? Where should I go?” If they see a light out or a water leak etc., have a simple description of how you want non-operations and engineering staff to act. Create these in a language they can understand.
Fight for a seat at the table. I understand this is easier said than done in some organizations, but it is worth the trouble when you consider how having the right information, early, will affect time and costs.
Lose your rigidity; don’t rely on history or past-experience alone to dissuade challenges.
  One other session I want to highlight was on Maintaining Telescopic Platforms.
  Hussey Seating reps emphasized the importance of addressing these maintenance issues to keep this equipment functioning properly and extend the life of the telescopic platforms. Like your vehicle, without consistence maintenance and service, your telescopic platform will start to see stresses that will weaken the system.  Some topics of discussion included:
• What does code say about having telescopic platforms inspected every year. 
• The effects of trash in and around the retractable platforms
• Using the telescopic system as designed by the manufacturer. Try and avoid the urge, when having an issue with the system, to overpower it with a fork lift.
• The importance of training your staff on how to use the system.
In addition, Hussey Seating addressed common liability issues as they relate to retractable platforms and seating, emphasizing the importance of addressing these issues immediately to mitigate your risk. 

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


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FROM THE EDITOR
 
Posted: 1 May 2017, 3:00 pm

You can give your opinion, but they’re going to do what they want to do.
That’s life in corporate America for venue operations and engineering directors. Everyone is fighting for a seat at the table, but bottom line, someone has to lead and decide and someone has to execute that decision.
Thus there is a lot of giving of opinions and then doing what you’re told to do.
Making it happen is just as creative as selling the show. The stories shared during our Venue Operations Summit in Nashville have inspired me to always look up when visiting arenas.
Booking shows is a venue’s bread and butter. Making them happen is the main course. Matt Balk, Tacoma (Wash.) Venues and Events, once had to hang half of one show and all of another to accommodate back-to-back concerts, both of which needed a full load-in day. That’s a balancing act.
Alex Diaz shared that at Madison Square Garden, New York, he had to leave concert equipment hanging so the dog show could commence. When the Pope bumped Billy Joel, whose show was already loaded in, he simply had the Pope use Joel’s sound system.
For 30 years, I’ve asked how long load in and load out take. I know that’s critical in booking shows, meetings and events of any type. I should have been asking how long did you give them to load in and load out, because that’s the way the industry rolls. You simply can’t afford to say no, that’s impossible; someone has to make it happen. The journalist who asks who, what, when, where and why needs to go one step further and ask how?
Every day is different and, as Sporty Jeralds, University of South Carolina, Columbia, will tell you, change is the only constant.
Sporty told a story at VOS that got a chuckle going among operations pros. He recalled a day at Charlotte Coliseum when a pipe was leaking into the dressing room. He saw no choice but to turn off the water before it burst, which would be disastrous for the artists preparing to perform.
But along came the ultimate handyman, his director of operations, who said, wait a minute, I have an idea. And he did. He found a workaround.
Decades later, Sporty is still telling the story. “I couldn’t believe our $65-million building was being held together by a towel and a broomstick.”
I always return from VOS with a heightened awareness of mold and mildew, standing water, dirty upholstery and banged up and zip-tied telescopic seating. I immediately survey my homestead, wishing I had an ops director to ask and a mobile maintenance system to employ.
And when I visit a venue, I’m much more cognizant of what it takes to make a show possible, seamless and satisfying for the fan. There is a lot behind the execution of those dreams marketing sells.
God grant you many years to find your seat at the table.


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THEATER SHOWS FLOURISHING
 
Posted: 1 May 2017, 3:00 pm

The number of new and returning family shows in the soft-seat theater world is on the rise, with a major new hit predicted in Shopkins Live!
On the arena front, the loss of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, which closes its last touring unit May 21 at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, Uniondale, N.Y, leaves a major gap in bookings. The circus was a franchise in and of itself.
But the cavalry is coming. Feld Entertainment will be announcing a major new arena brand within weeks, but while rumors are strong for Jurassic Park Live (or possibly Star Wars Live), Jeff Meyer, Feld Entertainment, could not confirm anything yet. They are focused now on closing RBBB, a major cultural shift and emotional moment for the entire organization.
Another new arena show, Cosmos Live!, based on Carl Sagan’s book and TV series, is also percolating. Arena Network has holds for the show in the November 2018 to April 2019 date range, but firm facts are not yet available. Greg Young, Las Vegas producer, is producing it in association with Sagan’s widow.
But with the family show producers and presenters surveyed by Venues Today, optimism reigns. Everyone is adapting to cultural changes, like overscheduled families, shorter attention spans and the friend and foe called technology. And some of it is same old, same old because it works. Memories are made.
“The quality of shows is increasing in terms of soft seaters,” said Gilles Paquin, Koba Entertainment. “There are less tours but longer tours.”

NEW AND EXPANDED BRANDS
Paquin is building Shopkins Live! for a September debut at UB Center for the Arts, Buffalo, N.Y. Shopkins are one of the top toys globally, Paquin said of the Moose Toys product. There will be merchandise specific to the tour.
“It’s at 79 dates now, but it looks like we’ll add quite a few more — 10 for sure,” Paquin said. “We’re on the road for four months, but it could be for a year in North America.”
It’s a two semis, two buses tour with 23 people in the cast and crew. Set up will take about five hours. Tickets will be in the $30-$40 range.
Currently, Paquin has the North American rights and is in discussion about the rest of the world. He is optimistic Shopkins has legs — at least five years.
After 184 shows in 156 cities  in North America with Peppa Pig’s Big Splash, Red Light Management is about to launch a new production, Peppa Pig’s Surprise! This show, which originated in the U.K, is already playing Europe.
“What’s thrilling to watch is there is now a new grouping of kids who are into Peppa Pig. We first started touring Peppa in 2015; those kids have moved on. This shows the longevity of the property,” said Red Light’s Jonathan Shank, senior executive producer. The demographic is ages 2-7. Nickelodeon is constantly debuting new episodes and there are a lot more in the pipeline for the next couple of years.
Peppa Pig’s Surprise will play 80 shows this fall, opening Sept. 16 at Broward Center for the Performing Arts’ Au Rene Theater, Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. Shanks is predicting another 40 shows in the spring.
“It’s survival of the fittest in family shows, driven by content or on-air activity or consumer products,” Shank said. Admitting it’s cyclical, he sees a renewed sense of purpose in having good, wholesome family entertainment out there, citing the proliferation of family networks from Nick Jr. and Disney Jr. to Amazon and Netflix. “The more content, the more opportunity to turn that content into a live experience. We’re sharpshooters; we’re only aiming for the top IPs (intellectual properties) out there,” Shank said.
Red Light is also planning a TeleTubbie’s Big Hug 20th anniversary tour in 2018, opening in the spring and playing 50 dates, and is exploring a Canadian tour for Octonauts next year as well.
Alison Spiriti, Right Angle Entertainment, has worked with rightsholder, Michael Cohl’s Iconic Entertainment Studios, to tour the holiday production of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer for the last three years.
Rudolph has expanded to play longer stands and bigger stages since its debut in 2014. The show played Madison Square Garden, New York, for three weeks, becoming an equity show in that union town. To accommodate the bigger stage and the equity cards, they invested about $250,000. Spiriti said the holiday family show moved into profit after the two-year mark.
This is a two-truck tour with two units on the road. It is definitely more robust than the first year, which is good because it is now repeating more markets.
Spiriti, who has worked with skip-and-wave, Nickelodeon and Broadway tours, finds nothing normal about Rudolph. Sometimes it’s a one-off, sometimes it’s on a subscription series, sometimes it stays three weeks.
While it is definitely a theater show, playing 700-2,500 seats, even that is open to negotiation. They would love to take Rudolph to arenas, but they haven’t cracked that market yet. Rudolph starts 2017 the week of Nov. 20 at Fox Theatre, St. Louis, with one tour and at Bass Hall, Fort Worth, Texas, with the other. During the 2017-18 holiday season, they will do 40-plus shows.

STAR-DRIVEN SHOWS
Byron Allen, IMG Stars on Ice, is looking forward to the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, Korea, Feb. 9-25.
“In the Olympic years we expand the number of cities we play — 20 in the U.S., compared to 10 in non-Olympic years, and even that could expand depending on how Americans do in the Olympics,” Allen said.
In Canada, they are pretty much set with 12 shows; there are only so many markets in the country. “We expect tremendous crowds next year,” Allen said.
Stars on Ice continues to see great success in Asia, with 15-18 shows planned for Japan. “Japan is the strongest figure skating market in the world; it’s been that way for about 10 years,” Allen said.
While he has tried various production adds, like music and specialty events, the bottom line is that Stars on Ice is an ice show.   The Harlem Globetrotters are also driven by star-power … and comedy and tradition. Bought in 2013 by the Herschend Family of theme park fame, the Trotters are experiencing a rebranding.
Howard Smith, president, cannot emphasize enough that the Harlem Globetrotters are wholesome, family-centric entertainment. “We are here to bring families closer together — with theme parks, aquariums and, on a global scale, with the Globetrotters.” All are cross promoted.
The first phase of the 2017 domestic tour was the biggest in the history of the Globetrotters, Smith said, declining to give attendance numbers but saying they set 50 box office records so far this year. “With over 370 games here domestically, we’re on target to sell more tickets than ever in the recent history of the Globetrotters,” he said.
Smith credits the complete brand refresh for some of the success. The logo hadn’t been updated in 25 years, he said. They have a new web site and even remixed the theme song, “Sweet Georgia Brown.”
The Trotters are also investing heavily in social media strategy. “We’re allowing our consumers to go deeper in their relationship with our brand. Many of our stars are social media stars as well. Fans and followers are up 65 percent,” Smith said.
The brand is especially suited to social media, particularly the stunts and trick shots, but also the heartfelt moments like teaching a kid—or a National Basketball Association star— to spin a ball his finger.
“We are focused on the guest experience,” Smith said. “It’s all about what happens in the arena.” Their secret sauce is threefold: Amazing feats of athleticism and a lot of comedy; female stars, introduced in 1985 and now numbering five; and shortening the show. “We shortened the show by almost 20 minutes, from almost two hours to an hour forty. Venues appreciate that; it eases staffing,”  Smith said.
They have also added value by expanding the Magic Pass Experience, a 30-minute VIP meet and greet with a chance to shoot a shot on the same court as NBA players.  Smith cited a 14 percent growth in that experience this year. The average up sell is $25. Now they are rolling Magic Pass to international tours.
Growth also hinges on other forms of content, like reimagining animation (which was last done in the 70s) and consumer products. The Trotters are in the early stages of licensing product for retail sale. Currently, most of their merchandise is sold in-arena.

POWER PLAYERS
Motorsports continues to be a juggernaut in the family show business.
Kurt Nicoll, VP Global Touring, Nitro Circus, is thrilled with the first annual Nitro World Games, which drew 25,000 fans. Nitro World Games II will repeat at Rice Eccles Stadium, Salt Lake City, June 24. He sees the potential for global games. Sponsorships have tripled, from $1.5 million in 2016 to $3.5 million in 2017.
Changes to the Nitro Circus brand have included streamlined production, which makes touring more efficient. “In the beginning we were fairly clumsy and labor intensive,” Nicoll admitted. “In 2010, we were doing 7-8 shows a year and not worrying about speed in and out.”
Today, they have prefabricated ramps and jumps and have reduced what was one load-in day and one half-day load out to a 6 a.m. to 2 a.m. call start to finish. And they have decreased the number in the crew because they spent money on infrastructure and design. “That makes a massive difference to a touring property. Now we can have back-to-back shows Friday-Sunday,” Nicoll said.
They also have a new consumer products line and are working on a video game.
Social media is extremely strong. Facebook fans number over 15 million. A big focus is on using social platforms to promote the tour, so they have expanded their media department from three to eight people.
For Feld Entertainment, they are sticking with the plan, one last circus performance May 21 at Nassau Colisuem. Ticket sales for the final circus tour have been staggering. “We’re going clean in a lot of places. We saw 100,000 fans in Baltimore [Royal Farms Arena] — 16 performances,” said Meyer.
“It is the end of an era, but it was the right business decision,” Meyer said.
He cited attention span and technology as the issues facing family shows.
“It’s very different today than it was 10 years ago,” Meyer said. “Years ago, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey was a three and a half hour show and was one of the only forms of great live entertainment.”      
Feld’s plan is to invest all that institutional knowledge and creative juice on other products. They will be launching Sesame Street Live this fall, a brand they have inherited from VStar (formerly VEE Corp.).
Feld has also added more events to Monster Jam, extending the season into the fourth quarter. “We took the efficiencies of the touring model for Disney on Ice and applied it to Monster Jam,” Meyer said. Monster Jam also continues to grow internationally.
“We’re going to expand. We’ll shoot for the moon,” Meyer said.
He echoed the general sentiment: Stay tuned.


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SWEATY FLOORS, FASTER CHANGEOVERS
 
Posted: 1 May 2017, 3:00 pm

VOS2_russ_and_Diaz.jpgREPORTING FROM NASHVILLE — When operations and engineering professionals gather to discuss everything venue-related, it gets very practical very quickly.
Such was the case at the third annual Venue Operations Summit here April 30-May 2, where the topic of sweating basketball floors that lead to game cancelations was top of mind for many of the arena group. It seems the National Basketball Association is stepping in, sending more extensive, mandatory surveys asking questions about building pressurization. Where it’s all leading is still a mystery to the operations directors in attendance, but learning how to better deal with condensation certainly grabbed their attention.
On March 6 of this year, unseasonably high temperatures and humidity in Minneapolis resulted in so much condensation on the playing floor at Target Center the game between the Minnesota Timberwolves and Portland Trail Blazers had to be canceled. On Nov. 30, 2016, the same thing happened at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, resulting in cancelation of a game between the Philadelphia 76ers and the Sacramento Kings.
The sheet of ice under the basketball floor coupled with too much warm air coming in and not enough going out caused the condensation, according to Kevin Minosky, HVAC and plumbing supervisor, Georgia World Congress Center, Atlanta, who led the Operating Under Pressure session along with Mike Rogers, Smith Seckman Reid, Hendersonville, Tenn. Minosky said doors being opened and closed with fans entering the building and equipment being moved in and out allows more air flow into the building.
“Sometimes, people think the first means to correction is to try to close off some of the outside air coming in,” he said.
But another culprit, often overlooked, is the exhaust system. Minosky said building exhaust systems are becoming less efficient with the addition of more cooking hoods and even more toilets. In an effort to increase revenues, venues are using more food portables and adding more lounge areas. These venues, he said, were originally built with a certain size exhaust system to be efficient for a certain number of cook hoods. When that is increased, it taxes the entire system.
“There is no substitute for a tight envelope around a building,” Minosky said, “but even with that, you are going to have some air leakage. You want to put more air into a building than you are taking out, about five percent is rule of thumb. The exhaust system is sometimes the forgotten part of the air systems.”
Poor indoor air quality not only results in floor condensation when ice is present but it also leads to odors and mold growth.
“Your building just becomes sick,” Minosky said.

VOS3._Archaio_1.jpgThe National Basketball Association (NBA) seems to be looking for the why of it all. The league has stepped up its game over the past several years in regards to the survey the league requires of its venues. That survey, geared toward obtaining operational information from the venues, has become more invasive and time consuming, according to VOS attendees.
The issue is just as critical to the National Hockey League, noted Joey Dennis, Infinite Energy Center, Duluth, Ga., who joined Dave Loverock of Jet Ice, on a session on maintaining the ice side of the equation. “Try to find the dew point temperature,” Dennis suggested. “Relative humidity is used too much and is misunderstood.”
The ice surface has to be perfect or the hockey player doesn’t know where the hockey puck will go, Dennis noted. “Find the dew point temperature and anything that goes below it will condense out.” If the dew point is 65 degrees on the basketball floor and the air goes below 65 degrees, it will sweat and you can’t dry that up. You have to raise the air above the dew point.
“It’s not the ice that caused the NBA floor to sweat; it’s the dew point…It’s the air/ice interface temperature. That is your product, just like McDonald’s is hamburgers.”
Shared frustrations and helpful information were bookended with job-specific inspiration from the two keynotes, Alex Diaz, Signature Operating Purveyors, and Sporty Jeralds, University of South Carolina, Columbia, both former venue managers.
Diaz started as a crowd manager in Miami and ended up running Madison Square Garden, New York City before branching into consulting. He understands that management is selling a dream and operations is servicing a nightmare. His most poignant nightmare was with the NBA All-Star Game in 2015 in New York. The game is easy operationally, but this time instead of the normal two-day load out, he had to be ready for the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show the next day. To accommodate basketball and the dogs, he did what all good ops directors do, left the chains and motors in the ceiling and continued load out in between dog events.
He also recalled the time the Pope was booked for a Mass Sept. 25, which meant Billy Joel had to be moved to Sept. 26. The Pope used Joel’s sound system.
The worst is when you just miss a technology window, Diaz said. For instance, Barclays Center, Brooklyn, which opened in 2011 did not have LED lighting. They were just a tad early for that trend. Then there was the time when AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami opened in 2001 with yellow seats. “Yellow draws the eye, but it also draws dirt,” Diaz said. “All the seats were replaced after one season.
The intentions are good, but the decisions are bad, Diaz said. “We typically don’t have a seat at that table.” But we can keep tabs on costs and replacement costs to aid the decisionmakers, he suggested. For example, he advised all ops directors to keep a tally of the cost of servicing a title sponsor, because that will change and “they will negotiate inventory before price.” Know where every logo is. Know the initial cost, the ongoing cost and the replacement cost.
Beyond measuring, know and have input in the budget process, do comparisons with other venues, keep detailed operating documents including three-line job descriptions for everyone in the department, and have a detailed and well-rehearsed emergency plan.

 

HELPFUL HINT

LOGOS ON THE ICE
Dave Loverock, Jet Ice, encouraged ops directors to make sure the logos were painted on the right spot on the ice. Joey Dennis, Infinite Energy Center, Duluth, Ga.,  said he gives the hockey team a map of the ice prior to painting and has them place the logos exactly where they want them. Then he has them date and sign off on the map. If they want them moved later, which often happens, they pay.

SECURITY TIP OF THE MONTH

Ideas and suggestions on live event safety, security and crowd management from our friends at Prevent Advisors.

Terrorist organizations and lone wolf adversaries are weaponizing vehicles with increasing frequency. In the recent past, the world witnessed multiple events where bad actors used large vehicles to generate massive casualties. ISIS encourages this tactic frequently and through multiple mediums.

Tip: Every facility has heavily trafficked areas that serve as pedestrian corridors and assembly areas during pregame activities, ingress and egress. Vehicular entry points with access to these locations must be appropriately designed and supervised with general access limited. When thinking about vehicular access to these areas - less is more. During times of heightened risk, restrict unsupervised access to only police and emergency services. Ensure temporary and movable barriers are over watched - their placement and serviceability frequently checked. Vehicles and pedestrians do not mix. Limited access points, overt vehicular barriers and a strong access control plan will deter bad actors and reduce risk.  

 


HELPFUL HINT

STAIN THE STAGE FLOOR
Greg Poole, Smart Financial Center, Sugar Land, Texas, has found pulling up gaffer tape used on his maple stage after a show also pulls up the black paint. Jim Greer, Tennessee Performing Arts Center, Nashville, suggested staining the stage floor with a dense opaque black. Then the unsightly scar is not so noticeable and new tape can be placed without repainting after every performance by different artists.


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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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Convention centers design for a sense of place
 
Posted: 4 Apr 2017, 8:00 pm

Many convention centers are striving to reflect and showcase their locations.

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Groups in Greater Boston utilize college campuses
 
Posted: 31 Oct 2016, 8:00 pm

An exceedingly intelligent choice for meetings and events.

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CEIR Releases Third Report in Attendee Retention Insights Series
 
Posted: 24 May 2016, 1:00 am
DALLAS, 24 May 2016 ? The Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR) announced today the release of the third report in its newest series, 2016 Attendee Retention Insights Part Three: Education Content that Builds a Loyal Alumni Attendee Audience. This landmark body of research offers organizers a comprehensive resource to help understand the profile of attendees that visit an exhibition repeatedly and the content that turns them into loyal customers.

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CEIR Releases Second Report in Attendee Retention Insights Series
 
Posted: 10 May 2016, 1:00 am
DALLAS, 10 May 2016 ? The Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR) announced today the release of the second report in its newest series, 2016 Attendee Retention Insights Part Two: Exhibition Floor Features that Build a Loyal Alumni Attendee Audience. This landmark body of research offers organizers a comprehensive resource to help understand the profile of attendees that visit an exhibition repeatedly and the content that turns them into loyal customers

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Fourth Annual IAEE Women’s Leadership Forum Another Sold Out Event
 
Posted: 4 May 2016, 1:00 am
DALLAS, 4 May 2016 ? The International Association of Exhibitions and Events? (IAEE) celebrates another successful Women?s Leadership Forum on 26 April 2016 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C. More than 200 attendees sold out this year?s event which featured education sessions for women at all stages of their career.

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IAEE Now Accepting Applications for 2016 Bob Dallmeyer Education Fund Grants
 
Posted: 3 May 2016, 1:00 am
DALLAS, 3 May 2016 ? The International Association of Exhibitions and Events? (IAEE) has opened the application process for the 2016 Bob Dallmeyer Education Fund Grants, which aid qualified professionals in their pursuit of continuing education and career development in the exhibitions and events industry.

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IAEE Now Accepting 2016 Helen Brett Scholarship Applications
 
Posted: 2 May 2016, 1:00 am
DALLAS, 2 May 2016 ? The International Association of Exhibitions and EventsTM (IAEE) has opened the application process for the Helen Brett Scholarship awards in 2016. The scholarship serves to promote the exhibitions and events industry by attracting college-level students into the field of study and encouraging their pursuit with financial support.

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Conference center education shifts dramatically
 
Posted: 30 Apr 2016, 8:00 pm

The times they are a changin’, and all for the better from this reporter’s perspective.

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CEIR Debuts New Report Series Focusing on Attendee Retention
 
Posted: 28 Apr 2016, 1:00 am
DALLAS, 28 April 2016 ? The Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR) announced today the release of the first report in its newest series, 2016 Attendee Retention Insights. Reports from this exciting new, landmark study offers organizers a comprehensive resource to help understand the profile of attendees that visit an exhibition repeatedly and the content that turns them into a loyal fanbase. The series consists of five reports, beginning with Part One: Basics for Creating Your Attendee Retention Strategy: Tracking, Profiling and Why They Come Back.

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IAEE Public Events Council Releases 2016 Survey Report
 
Posted: 26 Apr 2016, 1:00 am
DALLAS, 26 April 2016 ? Today, the International Association of Exhibitions and Events? (IAEE) Public Events Council released its Public Events Industry Report: 2015 Results. In 2009, the Public Events Council distributed a survey to public event organizers across 22 public events industry sectors to examine overall industry performance. The report identified which public events industry sectors fared well, which sectors struggled and their expectations for the future. As a follow-up to the benchmark report, the survey is repeated annually with subsequent reports detailing individual and comparative statistics over the years.

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Your Industry - Your Voice!
 
Posted: 22 Apr 2016, 1:00 am

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CEM Week - Register Now!
 
Posted: 18 Apr 2016, 1:00 am

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2016 CEIR Index Report Now Available
 
Posted: 13 Apr 2016, 1:00 am
DALLAS, 12 April 2016 ? Today, the Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR) released the 2016 CEIR Index Report. The CEIR Index analyzes the 2015 exhibition industry and provides a future outlook for the next three years. Despite widespread pessimism and deceleration of activity during the fourth quarter, the U.S. economy still displayed significant signs of strength in 2015, led by personal consumption and residential construction. These strengths were offset partially by deterioration in energy development and net exports to produce real GDP growth of 2.4%. According to CEIR?s current projection, 2016 growth will be about the same, or perhaps slightly weaker as the trade gap widens further, before GDP accelerates in 2018 (see Figure 1).

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IAEE Renews Reciprocity Agreement with JEXA
 
Posted: 5 Apr 2016, 1:00 am
DALLAS, 5 April 2016 ? The International Association of Exhibitions and Events? (IAEE) and the Japan Exhibition Association (JEXA) announced the renewal of a reciprocity agreement to benefit members of both organizations. Originally signed in 2012, the agreement renews the commitment of IAEE and JEXA to promote and develop the exhibitions and events industries in their respective countries through membership collaboration.

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IAEE Announces New Chapter in India
 
Posted: 4 Apr 2016, 1:00 am
DALLAS, 4 April 2016 ? The International Association of Exhibitions and Events? (IAEE) announces the addition of its latest chapter in Asia, the IAEE India Chapter. The IAEE Board of Directors approved the creation of this new chapter during its meeting held 31 March 2016 at the HITEX Exhibition Center in Hyderabad, India.

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Convention centers transform to meet attendees’ needs
 
Posted: 1 Apr 2016, 8:00 pm

Generic big-box convention centers seem to be going the way of the buggy whip and typewriter.

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IAEE MATSO Council Adds New Content for May Meeting
 
Posted: 31 Mar 2016, 1:00 am
DALLAS, 31 March 2016 ? The International Association of Exhibitions and Events? (IAEE) MATSO Council?s program for this year?s MATSO Spring Program on 23-24 May 2016 at McCormick Place in Chicago, Ill. will focus on exchanging information that address challenges, share best practices and understand the changing landscape of Tier 1 cities.

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IAEE Awards Jacqueline Russo with 2016 Woman of Achievement Award
 
Posted: 30 Mar 2016, 1:00 am
DALLAS, 30 March 2016 ? The International Association of Exhibitions and Events? (IAEE) proudly congratulates Jacqueline Russo, Vice President of Kuehne + Nagel, Inc., as this year?s recipient of the IAEE Woman of Achievement Award. This award recognizes a woman who has led the way in the advancement of women in the exhibitions and events industry, exhibited outstanding leadership, and made significant contributions to the industry and her community.

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CEIR Releases New Industry Insight Series Report Written by Candy Adams
 
Posted: 29 Mar 2016, 1:00 am
DALLAS, 29 March 2016 ? Today the Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR) announces a new Industry Insight Series report, 99 Cost-Savings Tips and Tricks for Exhibit Managers written by Candy Adams, CTSM, CME, CEM, CMP, CMM, a revered and well-known exhibition industry veteran and owner of ?The Booth Momź? Trade Show Consulting.

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IAEE Announces 2016 Krakoff Leadership Institute
 
Posted: 28 Mar 2016, 1:00 am
DALLAS, 28 March 2016 ? Registration is now open for the International Association of Exhibitions and Events? (IAEE) Krakoff Leadership Institute (KLI) to be held 7-9 August 2016 at The Waterfront Beach Resort, A Hilton Hotel in Huntington Beach, Calif. The program is open to IAEE members interested in enhancing their strategic skills, and broadening their knowledge as current and future leaders in the exhibitions and events industry.

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IAEE Congratulates its 2016 International Excellence Award Recipient
 
Posted: 17 Mar 2016, 1:00 am
DALLAS, 17 March 2016 ? The International Association of Exhibitions and Events? (IAEE) congratulates Edward J. Krause III (Ned), President and CEO of E.J. Krause & Associates, Inc. (EJK) as this year?s recipient of the IAEE International Excellence Award. The IAEE International Excellence Award recognizes an individual or organization that has made exceptional strides in creating, launching and managing an international event in the exhibitions and events industry on an international scale.

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CEIR Releases Final Digital Toolkit Report
 
Posted: 15 Mar 2016, 1:00 am
DALLAS, 15 March 2015 ? Today, the Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR) announced the release of the final report in the CEIR Digital Toolkit series. The new report, entitled Focus Report on Exhibition Organizer Onsite and Post-event Offerings provides an in-depth look at attendee preferences compared to business-to-business exhibition offerings for show mobile apps, as well as other onsite digital amenities and post-event digital communications.

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IAEE MATSO Council Announces City Working Group Initiative, Finalizes Governance Procedures
 
Posted: 9 Mar 2016, 1:00 am
DALLAS, 9 March 2016 ? The International Association of Exhibitions and Events? (IAEE) MATSO Council announced it will resurrect city task force updates following a recent council meeting that focused on future programming and governance procedures.

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IAEE Announces 2016 Call for Nominations for Individual Awards
 
Posted: 8 Mar 2016, 1:00 am
DALLAS, 8 March 2016 ? Today, the International Association of Exhibitions and Events? (IAEE) has opened the Call for Nominations for its annual awards program to recognize exceptional professionals in the exhibitions and events industry. Industry professionals who meet the outlined criteria may be nominated for any of the awards listed below, and recipients will be honored at Expo! Expo! IAEE?s Annual Meeting & Exhibition to be held 6-8 December in Anaheim, Calif.

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Conference center experts weigh in on five hot trends
 
Posted: 30 Apr 2015, 8:00 pm

Here is the top feedback when it comes to staging cutting-edge conference meets.

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Convention center tradeshows focus on interaction
 
Posted: 31 Mar 2015, 8:00 pm

Are you fully engaging your attendees?

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State College brims with entertaining endeavors
 
Posted: 30 Oct 2014, 8:00 pm

When it comes to putting fun on the agenda, State College is one smart choice.

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Shared activities make experiences more intense
 
Posted: 16 Oct 2014, 2:57 pm
Here?s some scientific support on the value of live experiences.

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Can a team have too much talent?
 
Posted: 16 Oct 2014, 2:57 pm
Yes, and here?s why having too much talent on a team is bad.

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The Firestation Centre launches its neo-ticketing project
 
Posted: 16 Oct 2014, 2:57 pm
With its new project, the venue wants to find out if it will sell more tickets, if guests will get better deals, and if artists will earn more.

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Wesley Burtch Dickson
 
Posted: 16 Oct 2014, 2:57 pm
Wes founded his business, Advanced Equipment Corp., in 1957. In 1959, the business moved to Orange County, California.

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VenueConnect's environmental impact was minimal
 
Posted: 16 Oct 2014, 2:57 pm
VenueConnect's is the first conference that the Oregon Convention Center has measured the water, waste, and energy statistics.

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New Miami convention center and hotel approved
 
Posted: 16 Oct 2014, 2:57 pm
The new development will be on the site of the old Miami Arena.

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Upcoming webinars
 
Posted: 16 Oct 2014, 2:57 pm
These two, free webinars next week will focus on becoming a CFE and the Mentor-Connector Program.

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AEG Live acquires two historic Virginia theatres
 
Posted: 16 Oct 2014, 2:57 pm
Those theatres are The National Theatre in Richmond and The NorVa Theatre in Norfolk, Virginia.

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Session proposals wanted
 
Posted: 16 Oct 2014, 2:57 pm
Please submit your session ideas for IAVM?s conferences. Presentations cannot be sales pitches, and if your topic is selected, IAVM will contact you concerning the coordination of the session speaker/panelists.

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Ebola and the venue industry
 
Posted: 16 Oct 2014, 2:57 pm
IAVM is actively monitoring the impact of recent Ebola incidents. At the direction of Chair Kim Bedier, CFE ? in collaboration with our Industry Affairs Council and key IAVM staff ? an Ebola task force has been formed to work on relevant communications to the IAVM community.

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Earl R. Williams
 
Posted: 16 Oct 2014, 2:57 pm
Earl was employed with Kimble Glass Co. and later Ball State University as Conference Director and General Manager of Emens Auditorium.

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Yarra, Australia, creates venue soundproofing fund
 
Posted: 16 Oct 2014, 2:57 pm
The city house 500 venues, 50 of them live music venues.

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Watch: Hugh Jackman talks about ticketing
 
Posted: 16 Oct 2014, 2:57 pm
Hugh Jackman and the show's producer are making sure pricing allows anyone that wants to see his new play will not have to worry about scalpers.

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Close encounter of the third kind with Google Glass, part 2
 
Posted: 16 Oct 2014, 2:57 pm
More from Portland?5?s Joe Durr about this ?cool? technology product.

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Elmer Randolph 'Randy' Pugh
 
Posted: 16 Oct 2014, 2:57 pm
Randy was employed with the City of Virginia Beach as the Operations Supervisor of the Pavilion Convention Center from 1980-1999.

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The Marvel Experience lets you save the world
 
Posted: 16 Oct 2014, 2:57 pm
The event will incorporate augmented reality, multiperson gaming, and RFID tracking for full fan immersion.

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Cookie-cutter conference centers are a thing of the past
 
Posted: 30 Apr 2014, 8:00 pm

Today's conference centers are more about standing out than fitting in.

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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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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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IACC Americas Conference Sees Attendee Uptick
 
Posted: 18 Mar 2014, 8:00 pm

The 2014 IACC Annual Conference reported it has attracted the most registered attendees since 2008.

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State College, Pennsylvania, is a happening, business-savvy hub
 
Posted: 27 Oct 2013, 8:00 pm

State College, home to Pennsylvania State University, welcomes groups with its vibrant ambiance and excellent on-campus (and off-site) facilities.

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A quick take on recent openings and upgrades in the world of conference centers
 
Posted: 24 Apr 2013, 8:00 pm

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A Q&A with Mark Cooper, new CEO of the International Association of Conference Centres
 
Posted: 24 Apr 2013, 8:00 pm
IACC's new CEO shares his insights on the events industry

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School Spirit
 
Posted: 17 Feb 2013, 7:00 pm
College stadiums and arenas are a classic choice for large groups

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............................................................



Get Smart
 
Posted: 17 Feb 2013, 7:00 pm
On the fence about booking a college venue? These benefits might convince you.

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Areas of Study
 
Posted: 17 Feb 2013, 7:00 pm
University meetings think outside of the classroom

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Billboard.biz Has Moved! Here's How to Get to Our New Site
 
Posted: 26 Jan 2013, 4:00 pm
On Saturday, January 26, Billboard.biz took a bold step forward in its evolution: Along with Billboard’s fully revamped magazine, newly launched iPad app and the relaunched Billboard.com, the all-new Billboard.biz has exciting new features and functionalities that will allow us to lead the essential conversations around the music business and its community in better and bigger ways than ever before. But we've moved servers -- here are details on where to find us while until our migration is complete.

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A Preview of This Week's Billboard
 
Posted: 25 Jan 2013, 6:29 pm
Justin Bieber has granted only one major interview for the Jan. 29 release of his new album Believe Acoustic. Billboard got it. In his fourth cover story for us, Bieber opens up to editorial director Bill Werde.

Read the full article

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Exclusive: HSN Partners With Las Vegas' Venetian On Concert Series
 
Posted: 25 Jan 2013, 3:33 pm
HSN is taking its Live music division on the road with a Las Vegas residency at the Venetial Resort Hotel Casino.The series kicks off Feb. 8 with Michael Bolton, who will debut his new studio album, "Ain’t No Mountain High Enough: A Tribute to Hitsville U.S.A." with Motown greats Smokey Robinson, Valerie Simpson and Martha Reeves as well as Kelly Rowland and Melanie Fiona

Read the full article

............................................................



Exclusive: HSN Partners With Las Vegas' Venetian On Concert Series
 
Posted: 25 Jan 2013, 3:33 pm
HSN is taking its Live music division on the road with a Las Vegas residency at the Venetial Resort Hotel Casino.The series kicks off Feb. 8 with Michael Bolton, who will debut his new studio album, "Ain’t No Mountain High Enough: A Tribute to Hitsville U.S.A." with Motown greats Smokey Robinson, Valerie Simpson and Martha Reeves as well as Kelly Rowland and Melanie Fiona

Read the full article

............................................................



Coachella 2013 Lineup: Blur, Phoenix, Red Hot Chili Peppers Headlining
 
Posted: 25 Jan 2013, 12:35 am
Blur, the Stone Roses, Phoenix and Red Hot Chili Peppers top the lineup for the 2013 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, which was unveiled late on Thursday night (Jan. 24). The annual fest is set to once again take over Indio, Calif. on consecutive weekends, this year from Apr. 12-14 and Apr. 19-21.

Read the full article

............................................................



Ticketmaster Canada Names Patti-Anne Tarlton SVP/COO
 
Posted: 24 Jan 2013, 6:09 pm
Ticketmaster Canada has appointed Patti-Anne Tarlton senior VP and chief operating officer. In turn, current COO Tom Worrall will become chairman of Ticketmaster Canada.

Read the full article

............................................................



Exclusive: Flaming Lips to Star in Hyundai Super Bowl Commercial
 
Posted: 24 Jan 2013, 4:32 pm
When the Flaming Lips formed nearly 30 years ago, the notion that the group would be performing a song called "Sun Blows Up Today" in a Super Bowl ad would have been as surreal some of their lyrics. But that's exactly what will happen when the group stars in one of Hyundai's four spots during the big game,  a 60-second commercial that will feature the band on-camera performing a brand-new, custom-written song bearing that name.

Read the full article

............................................................



Exclusive: Flaming Lips to Star in Hyundai Super Bowl Commercial
 
Posted: 24 Jan 2013, 4:32 pm
When the Flaming Lips formed nearly 30 years ago, the notion that the group would be performing a song called "Sun Blows Up Today" in a Super Bowl ad would have been as surreal some of their lyrics. But that's exactly what will happen when the group stars in one of Hyundai's four spots during the big game,  a 60-second commercial that will feature the band on-camera performing a brand-new, custom-written song bearing that name.

Read the full article

............................................................



Pepsi, Vevo to Spotlight Best New Artists, 'X Factor' Winner Tate Stevens During Grammys
 
Posted: 24 Jan 2013, 12:54 pm
Pepsi has announced collaborations with Pandora and Vevo for the Grammy Awards. With Vevo, Pepsi will produce a video series based around the Best New Artists nominees; and with Pandora the company will curate a Best New Artist mixtape as well as genre stations.

Read the full article

............................................................



Mnet America Hosting Grammy-Week Party With K-Pop Star Ailee
 
Posted: 24 Jan 2013, 9:43 am
Billboard can exclusively reveal when, where and who will be at Mnet America's 1st Annual Pre-Grammy Party featuring a K-pop starlet, YouTube sensation and "The Voice" contestants.

Read the full article

............................................................



13 Points to Watch at MIDEM 2013
 
Posted: 24 Jan 2013, 8:00 am
As the world's largest trade fair for the music industry, MIDEM can be daunting to navigate. Last year's gathering drew more than 6,850 attendees from 77 countries, representing 3,120 companies, including 155 startups. So, how best to manage MIDEM?

Read the full article

............................................................



13 Points to Watch at MIDEM 2013
 
Posted: 24 Jan 2013, 8:00 am
As the world's largest trade fair for the music industry, MIDEM can be daunting to navigate. Last year's gathering drew more than 6,850 attendees from 77 countries, representing 3,120 companies, including 155 startups. So, how best to manage MIDEM?

Read the full article

............................................................



13 Points to Watch at MIDEM 2013
 
Posted: 24 Jan 2013, 8:00 am
As the world's largest trade fair for the music industry, MIDEM can be daunting to navigate. Last year's gathering drew more than 6,850 attendees from 77 countries, representing 3,120 companies, including 155 startups. So, how best to manage MIDEM?

Read the full article

............................................................



Downtown Sells Label to Cofounders, Focuses on Publishing
 
Posted: 24 Jan 2013, 7:00 am
Downtown Music LLC, the privately held parent company of Downtown Records and Downtown Music Publishing, today announced the sale of its recorded music business to cofounders Josh Deutsch and Terence Lam.

Read the full article

............................................................



Justin Timberlake Sets Live Return for Super Bowl Charity Show
 
Posted: 23 Jan 2013, 6:54 pm
Less than one month after the singer-turned-actor exploded back onto the music scene with "Suit & Tie," featuring Jay-Z, Timberlake will perform his first solo concert in several years during Super Bowl weekend.

Read the full article

............................................................



Black Keys File Third Lawsuit Against 'Soundalikes' in TV Commercials
 
Posted: 23 Jan 2013, 6:50 pm
After settling two lawsuits with Pizza Hut and Home Depot in December over alleged use of its songs in commercials, the Black Keys have filed a third lawsuit -- this time, against Pinnacle Entertainment, which runs casinos throughout the United States, and Manhattan Production Music, a company that creates music for commercial advertising.

Read the full article

............................................................



Exclusive: Verizon Teams With Jill Scott for Black History Month Campaign
 
Posted: 23 Jan 2013, 6:24 pm
Verizon has teamed with Jill Scott for a multi-tiered print, TV and online advertising campaign to coincide with Black History Month, a rare artist endorsement deal for both parties, Billboard has learned.

Read the full article

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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.

Read the full article

............................................................



Ultra Music and Sony Announce Partnership, Patrick Moxey Named President of Electronic Music
 
Posted: 23 Jan 2013, 3:48 pm
Sony Music and Ultra Music -- the electronic/dance record label, publishing house, management company and media platform owned and operated by Patrick Moxey -- have announced a globe-spanning strategic partnership between the two companies. As part of the deal Moxey was named president of electronic music for Sony Music Worldwide.

Read the full article

............................................................



Ultra Music and Sony Announce Partnership, Patrick Moxey Named President of Electronic Music
 
Posted: 23 Jan 2013, 3:48 pm
Sony Music and Ultra Music -- the electronic/dance record label, publishing house, management company and media platform owned and operated by Patrick Moxey -- have announced a globe-spanning strategic partnership between the two companies. As part of the deal Moxey was named president of electronic music for Sony Music Worldwide.

Read the full article

............................................................



Searching For The Next 'Sugar Man'? Try 'Twenty Feet From Stardom'
 
Posted: 23 Jan 2013, 1:30 pm
This year's Sundance had a half-dozen music-driven docs, including: Dave Grohl's "Sound City," "History of the Eagles, Part One," "Pussy Riot -- A Punk Prayer," "Narco Culturo" and "Mussel Shoals" -- all fine films. But the power of Morgan Neville's "Twenty Feet From Stardom," a story chronicling of the lives of background singers who sang on era-defining records from the 1960s into the 1990s, is such that it transcends the typical music documentary ecliciting gasps of disbelief, spontaneous applause and tears. It's a winner.

Read the full article

............................................................



Exclusive: SFX Acquires ID&T, Voodoo Experience
 
Posted: 23 Jan 2013, 8:05 am
SFX Entertainment has added five new companies to its portfolio, including Voodoo Experience and ID&T -- the largest dance-event promoter in the world -- according to its president Robert F.X. Sillerman. While recent chatter has hinted that Insomniac Events, the producer of Electric Daisy Carnival, would imminently announce a sale to Sillerman, the ID&T news might make that less likely -- although Sillerman didn't rule it out...

Read the full article

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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.

Read the full article

............................................................



Three Directors Step Down at Sirius XM Radio as Liberty Media Takes Control
 
Posted: 22 Jan 2013, 4:50 pm
Leon Black, Lawrence Gilberti and Jack Shaw resign from the board of the satellite firm.  

Read the full article

............................................................



Billboard's New iPad App: Try It Now for Free!
 
Posted: 22 Jan 2013, 3:59 pm
Along with our fully revamped glossy magazine, which we unveiled today, Billboard has also introduced the new iPad edition of Billboard -- the complete weekly magazine reinvented for your iPad with interactive extras. Subscribe today to experience this week’s issue absolutely for free!

Read the full article

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Exclusive: Lionel Richie Signs With Red Light Management
 
Posted: 22 Jan 2013, 3:08 pm
Legendary hit maker Lionel Richie has signed with Red Light Management for representation, Billboard.biz has learned. This is the second major signing of the young year for RLM, which recently added Tiesto to its growing list of clients.

Read the full article

............................................................



Exclusive: Lionel Richie Signs With Red Light Management
 
Posted: 22 Jan 2013, 3:08 pm
Legendary hit maker Lionel Richie has signed with Red Light Management for representation, Billboard.biz has learned. This is the second major signing of the young year for RLM, which recently added Tiesto to its growing list of clients.

Read the full article

............................................................



Exclusive: Kobalt Launches Label Services Division, Preps New Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds Release
 
Posted: 22 Jan 2013, 2:07 pm
Not only did Kobalt sign a deal with Dave Grohl this week ( the company is also formally introducing a new Label Services division that will handle digital and physical releases for independent artists as well as Kobalt clients. Though the division has quietly released several albums in recent months, it will gain major attention next month with the release of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds’ “Push the Sky Away,” due out Feb. 18 through Kobalt Label Services  and Cave’s Bad Seed Ltd.

Read the full article

............................................................



Clive Davis To Speak At SXSW
 
Posted: 22 Jan 2013, 12:34 pm
Clive Davis will speak at South by Southwest (SXSW) Music and Media Conference and Festival on Thursday March 14, the festival announced today. His speech comes shortly after the release of his new autobiography “The Soundtrack of My Life.”

Read the full article

............................................................



Live Nation Strikes Deal to Host Concerts at London Olympic Stadium
 
Posted: 22 Jan 2013, 11:00 am
Live events giant Live Nation has struck a deal that gives it exclusive rights to organize concerts and music festivals in the British capital's Olympic Park and Olympic Stadium this summer.

Read the full article

............................................................



Two Voices of the Rolling Stones Meet for the First Time at Sundance Screening
 
Posted: 22 Jan 2013, 10:32 am
Lisa Fischer has sung female lead parts for the Rolling Stones on every tour since 1989, but it wasn't until film director Morgan Neville assembled a meeting of backup singers at Sundance that Fischer and Merry Clayton, a crucial vocalist in the music of Mick Jagger and the boys, would be in the same room together.

Read the full article

............................................................



Welcome to the New Billboard
 
Posted: 21 Jan 2013, 7:00 pm
The Jan. 26 edition of Billboard features a cover-story interview with Prince, but that world exclusive is accompanied by something else: A whole new magazine. This week, Billboard relaunches, and from the new logo on the front cover to the information packed graphic on the back page, the magazine is dedicated to the delivery of business journalism that leads and informs the essential conversations around the music and businesses it covers.

Read the full article

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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.

Read the full article

............................................................



Warner Music, NMPA Reach Agreement on Royalty Rate for Music Videos
 
Posted: 21 Jan 2013, 2:43 pm
The Warner Music Group has become the second major label to agree to pay songwriters and publishers a royalty from revenue they derive from music videos, in a deal negotiated by the National Music Publishers' Association.

Read the full article

............................................................



Tim Leiweke on AEG Sale: 'We're Getting Down to the Final Straws'
 
Posted: 21 Jan 2013, 2:42 pm
The sale of Anschutz Entertainment Group is “taking longer” than expected, AEG CEO, Tim Leiweke told Billboard.biz, but not due to lack of interest. While Leiweke declined to mention who the serious bidders were, he did indicate that the field has narrowed.  “We’re getting down to the final straws here,” he said.

Read the full article

............................................................



Tim Leiweke on AEG Sale: 'We're Getting Down to the Final Straws'
 
Posted: 21 Jan 2013, 2:42 pm
The sale of Anschutz Entertainment Group is “taking longer” than expected, AEG CEO, Tim Leiweke told Billboard.biz, but not due to lack of interest. While Leiweke declined to mention who the serious bidders were, he did indicate that the field has narrowed.  “We’re getting down to the final straws here,” he said.

Read the full article

............................................................



'Pussy Riot - A Punk Prayer,' 'Twenty Feet From Stardom' Sell At Sundance
 
Posted: 21 Jan 2013, 6:17 am
Add “Pussy Riot — A Punk Prayer” to the growing music-centric documentaries sold at the Sundance Film Festival. HBO Docs acquired U.S. TV rights to the political documentary that received its world premiere Jan. 18. "Twenty Feet From Stardom," which tells the stories of several prominent backup singers, sold on Thursday to Radius and the Weinstein Co.

Read the full article

............................................................



Kim Dotcom Launches Mega, New File-Sharing Service
 
Posted: 19 Jan 2013, 4:09 pm
Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom has unveiled a new file-sharing website called Mega. "As of this minute one year ago #Megaupload was destroyed by the US Government," Dotcom tweeted on Saturday, along with a link to the new site.

Read the full article

............................................................



Dave Grohl's Sound City Players Tear It Up at Sundance
 
Posted: 19 Jan 2013, 2:05 pm
Hours after his "Sound City" documentary premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, Dave Grohl took 800 fans on a three-hour musical odyssey at Park City Live that emphasized his personal connection to the Van Nuys, Calif., recording studio his film chronicles.

Read the full article

............................................................



Obama Inauguration Music Guide: Katy Perry to Q-Tip
 
Posted: 19 Jan 2013, 1:41 pm
Just as Barack Obama's 2009 inauguration drew stars from Beyonce to Aretha Franklin, the president's re-election has led to another can't-miss week for music fans. We've hiked through Capital Hill's extensive inauguration schedule to bring you a list of the week's biggest balls.

Read the full article

............................................................



Sony/ATV's Martin Bandier on New, 'Quite Reasonable' Pandora Deal
 
Posted: 18 Jan 2013, 7:00 pm
Sony/ATV pulled a major coup earlier this week by negotiating a higher royalty rate from Pandora. Chairman/CEO Martin Bandier spoke with Billboard.biz about the deal.

Read the full article

............................................................



Backbeat: The Surreal APAP Convention Hall: From Tibetan Monks to Lez Zeppelin, Branson On the Road to Slask
 
Posted: 18 Jan 2013, 6:00 pm
In many regards the convention hall at the annual Association of Performing Arts Presenters in New York CIty resembles nothing so much as a Fellini film. Here, Tibetan Monks, Polish folk dancers, Lez Zeppelin and, of course, a golden praying mantis, all man booths before thousands of curators, agents, and promoters from across the country who trod the Hilton New York's carpeted aisles looking to book their 2014-2015 seasons.

Read the full article

............................................................



Six Music-Related Issues Facing This Administration and Congress
 
Posted: 18 Jan 2013, 4:45 pm
From performance royalties to deciding how musicians travel with their instruments on airplanes, numerous issues central to the music industry are alive Washington D.C. as the city prepares for the president inauguration on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

Read the full article

............................................................



Six Music-Related Issues Facing This Administration and Congress
 
Posted: 18 Jan 2013, 4:45 pm
From performance royalties to deciding how musicians travel with their instruments on airplanes, numerous issues central to the music industry are alive Washington D.C. as the city prepares for the president inauguration on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

Read the full article

............................................................



Prince to Be Honored at Billboard Music Awards on May 19
 
Posted: 18 Jan 2013, 4:00 pm
The 2013 Billboard Music Awards are returning to Las Vegas on Sunday, May 19 and will honor the legendary artist Prince during a live ABC broadcast from the MGM Grand Garden Arena.

Read the full article

............................................................



Beyonce, Katy Perry, More Head to D.C. for Packed Slate of Obama Inauguration Events
 
Posted: 18 Jan 2013, 12:58 pm
Kelly Clarkson is a multiple nominee at next month's Grammy Awards, but what she's really excited about is another event where she'll be joined by Beyonce, Katy Perry, Stevie Wonder, Alicia Keys, Usher and Brad Paisley. Oh, and the president.

Read the full article

............................................................



CD Baby Parent Company AVL Digital Group Sold
 
Posted: 18 Jan 2013, 10:44 am
AVL Digital Group -- the parent company of CD Baby, Disc Makers and other self-publishing platforms -- has been sold to Stephens Capital Partners, a private equity group based in Little Rock, Arkansas, Billboard.biz has learned.

Read the full article

............................................................



NARM Names Muve Music's Jeff Toig, Dimple Records' Dilyn Radakovitz to Board
 
Posted: 18 Jan 2013, 10:34 am
Muve Music senior VP Jeff Toig and Dimple Records founder and owner Dilyn Radakovitz have joined the board of directors of both NARM, the music business trade association, and digitalmusic.org, its digital initiatives arm.

Read the full article

............................................................



Run DMC's Darryl McDaniels Presenting 'Garden of Laughs' Benefit Comedy Showcase
 
Posted: 18 Jan 2013, 10:13 am
At the height of his lowest point, Run DMC's Darryl McDaniels says he considered suicide. Before leaving the world, however, he wanted to publish an autobiography, his life story beyond music; a conversation with his mother shortly thereafter revealed more information than he had bargained for.

Read the full article

............................................................



Backbeat: Carrie Underwood Celebrates No. 1 With 'Blown Away' Co-Writers Josh Kear and Chris Tompkins
 
Posted: 17 Jan 2013, 4:46 pm
Carrie Underwood joined Josh Kear and Chris Tompkins, the two songwriters who penned "Blown Away," at the CMA offices on Wednesday to celebrate their song hitting the top of the charts.

Read the full article

............................................................



Elizabeth Sobol Named Decca Label Group President and CEO
 
Posted: 17 Jan 2013, 12:15 pm
Elizabeth Sobol, current managing director at IMG Artists North America, has been named Decca Label Group's president and CEO. Sobol will report to Universal Music Group International's chairman and CEO Max Hole, who was promoted to that position last week.

Read the full article

............................................................



HMV Shutters Irish Operations, Appoints Receivers as Staff Stages Sit-In
 
Posted: 17 Jan 2013, 11:45 am
Staff at two HMV stores in Ireland have staged sit-in protests to secure their wages following the closure of the company’s 16 Irish stores, according to reports. HMV’s Irish operations were placed into receivership 24 hours after the British music retailer HMV confirmed it was suspending the trading of its shares and entering administration, the U.K. equivalent of Chapter 11.

Read the full article

............................................................



Andre Rieu, Bieber's 'Believe' Tour Top Hot Tours Chart
 
Posted: 17 Jan 2013, 10:50 am
Classical music dominates this week's Hot Tours report with Dutch violinist and conductor André Rieu earning the No. 1 ranking, followed by Justin Bieber's Believe Tour return and Phish's sold-out show at Madison Square Garden.

Read the full article

............................................................



Dave Grohl, Avicii and Afrojack: A Promoter's Approach to Booking Music at Sundance
 
Posted: 17 Jan 2013, 10:31 am
Park City Live is the only regularly operating nightclub in Park City, Utah, home of the Sundance Film Festival running Jan. 17-27, which will enter its second year of operation as a concert venue the day the festival begins. Here, Park City Live CEO Kathryn Burns talks about her first year promoting the venue.

Read the full article

............................................................



Dave Grohl, Avicii and Afrojack: A Promoter's Approach to Booking Music at Sundance
 
Posted: 17 Jan 2013, 10:31 am
Park City Live is the only regularly operating nightclub in Park City, Utah, home of the Sundance Film Festival running Jan. 17-27, which will enter its second year of operation as a concert venue the day the festival begins. Here, Park City Live CEO Kathryn Burns talks about her first year promoting the venue.

Read the full article

............................................................



Dave Grohl, Avicii and Afrojack: A Promoter's Approach to Booking Music at Sundance
 
Posted: 17 Jan 2013, 10:31 am
Park City Live is the only regularly operating nightclub in Park City, Utah, home of the Sundance Film Festival running Jan. 17-27, which will enter its second year of operation as a concert venue the day the festival begins. Here, Park City Live CEO Kathryn Burns talks about her first year promoting the venue.

Read the full article

............................................................



Ticketfly Expands Into Canada
 
Posted: 17 Jan 2013, 10:00 am
Ticketfly announced Thursday it has expanded into Canada by signing two of the country's top promoters, acquiring Prime Box Office ticketing company and securing some promoters and venues.

Read the full article

............................................................



Sony/ATV Negotiates 25% Royalty Increase From Pandora: Report
 
Posted: 17 Jan 2013, 8:01 am
The newly combined Sony/ATV-EMI music publishing powerhouse has used its market clout to negotiate a 25% royalty increase from Pandora, according to a report in the New York Post. The deal is said to run for the next 12 months.

Read the full article

............................................................



Mark Poston, EMI Australia Chairman, Steps Down
 
Posted: 16 Jan 2013, 9:38 pm
Mark Poston, EMI Australia’s chairman, is out as Universal Music continues its global integration of EMI. According to Universal Music, Poston “decided to step down” from his current position as chairman and senior VP marketing, Australasia at EMI Music Australia. UMA's president George Ash will oversee EMI Australasia until a replacement is announced.

Read the full article

............................................................



Business Matters: How Facebook Search Could Provide Cheap Market Research for Music Marketers
 
Posted: 16 Jan 2013, 8:13 pm
Facebook’s Graph Search doesn’t have a lot of obvious music uses but could end up being a free and useful tool for music marketers. As the Inside Facebook blog points out, the search tool provides an opportunity for businesses to conduct market research about specific groups of fans for free.

Read the full article

............................................................



LyricFind Partners with Gracenote, Gets Investment from Larry Marcus
 
Posted: 16 Jan 2013, 4:40 pm
LyricFind will now power all of Gracenote's lyric services as part of their new partnership, while BandPage director Larry Marcus will be providing his experience, and a personal investment, to the company.

Read the full article

............................................................



SoundExchange Distributions Grew 58% to $462 Million in 2012
 
Posted: 16 Jan 2013, 2:21 pm
SoundExchange distributed $462 million in digital performing royalties in 2012, a 58% increase over 2011, the organization announced Wednesday

Read the full article

............................................................



Lucian Grainge, Michael Lynton, will.i.am to Co-Host Inaugural Innovation Summit
 
Posted: 16 Jan 2013, 1:30 pm
Innovation Forum, an inaugural summit of business leaders from the U.S. and U.K., will come together Feb. 4-5 in Los Angeles, kicking off 2013 Grammy week. UMG Chairman & CEO Lucian Grainge, Sony Ent. CEO Michael Lynton, Ari Emanuel, co-CEO of WME, and musician will.i.am will co-host the event co-sponsored by the Founder's Forum and UK Trade & Investment.

Read the full article

............................................................



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.

Read the full article

............................................................



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.  

Read the full article

............................................................



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.

Read the full article

............................................................



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.

Read the full article

............................................................



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.

Read the full article

............................................................



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.

Read the full article

............................................................



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.

Read the full article

............................................................



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.

Read the full article

............................................................



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.  

Read the full article

............................................................



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.

Read the full article

............................................................



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.

Read the full article

............................................................



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.

Read the full article

............................................................



Indie Band Love in the Circus Explores 3D Imaging at CES
 
Posted: 14 Jan 2013, 12:14 pm
Music can be as much about the visuals as it is about the sound. Among the more intriguing demonstrations of this at this year's Consumer Electronics Show was a video display in the Sony booth from an independent band called Love in the Circus; the Los Angeles based band used projection imaging to create a live stage that evokes a Cirque du Soleil-esque setting, wrapping custom animations around a physical stage set.

Read the full article

............................................................



Indie Band Love in the Circus Explores 3D Imaging at CES
 
Posted: 14 Jan 2013, 12:14 pm
Music can be as much about the visuals as it is about the sound. Among the more intriguing demonstrations of this at this year's Consumer Electronics Show was a video display in the Sony booth from an independent band called Love in the Circus; the Los Angeles based band used projection imaging to create a live stage that evokes a Cirque du Soleil-esque setting, wrapping custom animations around a physical stage set.

Read the full article

............................................................



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.

Read the full article

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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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Anaheim Conv. Center Plans Expansion
 
Posted: 23 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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IACC Board Sets New Service Standards
 
Posted: 30 Nov 2011, 7:00 pm

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APEC Under Way in Honolulu
 
Posted: 8 Nov 2011, 7:00 pm

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Beyond the Box
 
Posted: 24 Oct 2011, 8:00 pm
Expanding convention centers are addressing new planner expectations

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Association Meetings 3.0
 
Posted: 16 Sep 2011, 5:10 pm
What does the association meeting of tomorrow look like and how can you prepare to provide your members with the type of meetings they need? A presenter at ASAE's 2011 Annual Meeting & Expo provides her expert glimpse into the future.

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Rethinking Sponsorships in the Age of Social Media
 
Posted: 16 Sep 2011, 4:56 pm
Technology is changing our lives in seemingly countless ways, including association event sponsorships. Find out what a leading event software expert believes are the best ways to make the most of sponsorships in the age of social media.

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What You Need to Know About Simultaneous Interpretation
 
Posted: 16 Sep 2011, 4:54 pm
As more associations venture overseas, simultaneous interpretation is more important than ever. Two experts who have conducted events around the globe share their insights.

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Reduce Expenses for Meetings of Any Size
 
Posted: 16 Sep 2011, 4:51 pm
Even the largest associations sometimes have meetings that don't represent a lot of room nights, which can reduce your ability to negotiate with the host hotel. Here are nine tips to help you get the best deal for your next meeting, no matter how many attendees you have.

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Strategic Meeting Planning
 
Posted: 6 Jul 2011, 11:00 am
We use strategic planning in our everyday lives but often get too caught up in all the details to apply it effectively during the meeting planning process. Discover how to be truly strategic the next time you're planning an important meeting.

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New Models for Successful Convention Strategy
 
Posted: 6 Jul 2011, 10:56 am
There's more to meetings than good content and a nice location. An ASAE Fellow and association business strategy consultant shares his views on factors such as information needs, competing resources, and strategic barriers that impact attendance at association conventions and tradeshows.

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Post-Recession Economy Requires New Guidelines for Association Events
 
Posted: 6 Jul 2011, 10:53 am
Association events are making a comeback following the deep recession, but everyone remains sensitive to appearing too extravagant and expensive. Here's a process for determining what's appropriate for your next events.

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Increase Exhibitor Engagement Without Increasing Your Budget
 
Posted: 6 Jul 2011, 10:49 am
Every association tradeshow is under pressure to increase traffic, but at what cost? Follow these strategies for increasing traffic and enhancing exhibitor loyalty without busting your budget.

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Letter From the Chair: ME Section Contributes to "199 Ideas" for Planners
 
Posted: 6 Jul 2011, 10:47 am
The Meetings & Expositions Section Council chair discusses the debut of an exciting new resource for association planners, provides a glimpse of the upcoming Annual Meeting & Exposition, and lends his perspective on the value of associations to society.

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Tips to Make Transportation at Your Conference Greener
 
Posted: 9 May 2011, 10:09 am
Greening meetings has come a long way in recent years, but you can take it to the next level with a little strategy and a lot of enthusiasm. Learn how to get your group actively involved in being a deeper shade of green.

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University Venues
 
Posted: 30 Apr 2011, 8:00 pm
Collegiate athletic venues are ideal for team building and spectator fun

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Convention Centers
 
Posted: 28 Feb 2011, 7:00 pm
Beyond the Box

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Conference Centers
 
Posted: 31 Dec 2010, 7:00 pm
With mounting competition, conference centers get flexible

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Conference Center Changes
 
Posted: 31 Dec 2010, 7:00 pm
Conference Center Changes

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On Location - Convention Centers
 
Posted: 31 May 2010, 8:00 pm

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University Venues
 
Posted: 30 Apr 2010, 8:00 pm
Campus Culture

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Conference Centers
 
Posted: 31 Mar 2010, 8:00 pm

After a tough year, conference centers see better times ahead

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Convention Centers
 
Posted: 28 Feb 2010, 7:00 pm

Convention center cuisine is no longer an oxymoron

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University Venues
 
Posted: 28 Feb 2010, 7:00 pm

Universities offer an exciting range of museum venues

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Convention Centers
 
Posted: 28 Feb 2010, 7:00 pm
Convention center cuisine is no longer an oxymoron

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Dancing with Gorillas
 
Posted: 31 Oct 2009, 8:00 pm
Convention center contracts put meeting planners' negotiating skills to the test

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A Class Act
 
Posted: 30 Apr 2009, 8:00 pm

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University Venues
 
Posted: 28 Feb 2009, 7:00 pm

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Conference Centers
 
Posted: 31 Jan 2009, 7:00 pm

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Conference Centers
 
Posted: 31 Jan 2009, 7:00 pm

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Conference Centers
 
Posted: 31 Jan 2009, 7:00 pm
Conference Call

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Conference Call
 
Posted: 31 Dec 2008, 7:00 pm

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Center Stage
 
Posted: 31 Oct 2008, 8:00 pm

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Global Challenge
 
Posted: 31 Jul 2008, 8:00 pm

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Global Challenge
 
Posted: 30 Jun 2008, 8:00 pm

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Center Stage
 
Posted: 31 May 2008, 8:00 pm

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Head of the Class
 
Posted: 30 Apr 2008, 8:00 pm

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Center Stage
 
Posted: 31 Mar 2008, 8:00 pm

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Center Stage
 
Posted: 29 Feb 2008, 7:00 pm

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Raising the Bar
 
Posted: 31 Jan 2008, 7:00 pm

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Raising the Bar
 
Posted: 31 Jan 2008, 7:00 pm

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Raising the Bar
 
Posted: 31 Dec 2007, 7:00 pm

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Better by Design
 
Posted: 31 Oct 2007, 8:00 pm

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