News

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Rendering of the Aberdeen (Scotland) Exhibition Conference Center.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Included in the plan is new commercial and residential development.

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

A scene from Bumbershoot music festival at Seattle Center.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 


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

NCAA picked 613 host sites for games through 2022.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Why is now the time to retire?

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

How do you feel about leaving a company you started?

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

What is the best advice you have given Dusty?

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

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

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

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

I started with four employees and now we have 150. Now we have call centers, IT people, network specialists, marketing people, social media people, it goes on and on.

What are your favorite and least favorite parts of the job?

My favorite is the client interaction. I can sincerely tell you I know every one of our clients. Some of our clients include Spokane Public Facilities District, which we never take for granted just because we are in Spokane; Colorado Rockies, which took three years to land and they’ve been with us 25 years and Portland'5 Centers for the Arts, another account it took several years to get. I love working with Robyn Williams, she is a strong leader. My least favorite part of the job is the business aspect. You have to keep growing the business, ensuring profitability and making a lot of decisions. Sometimes the business side can overwhelm you. The thing that keeps me up at night is that I have to set the vision. My employees are dependent on me, and I take that responsibility seriously. You have to keep pressing and moving the bar up.

How did you get started in the ticketing industry?

I’m a Vietnam vet and came home after two tours in the Navy. I went to Eastern Washington University, Cheney, to get my degree in music. I was almost ready to graduate when my dad, a former hockey player, suggested I go down to the Spokane Entertainment Facilities, where he knew some people, to get a part-time job. I got hired as an usher. I worked for Mike Kobluk, former president of IAVM, and Kevin Twohig, one of the charter teachers for the IAVM school at Oglebay. They both played a key part in my career. A few years later, they created a new position, events supervisor, which involved being there at night. I thought I could teach during the day and work there at night, and I got the job. I used the money to buy an airplane that I still own. The local 93 stagehands asked me if I wanted to work move-ins and move-outs. I took that job and did that during the day, went home, put on a coat and tie and returned as the events supervisor. When the show was over, I put my jeans back on and did the move-out. It gave me an up over a lot of people who don’t understand the backstage part of the business.

How did TicketsWest start?

In 1985, the city of Spokane talked about going from hard tickets to computerized tickets. The city put out an RFP and picked a local businessman named Don Barbieri to run it. A few years later, in 1987, Don created a company called G&B Select-a-Seat and asked me to come work for him. I was called ticket manager. We sold our first ticket in 1987 for a Cyndi Lauper concert. In the mid-90’s, we changed it to TicketsWest.

What was the model?

There’s always going to be Ticketmaster out there. I don’t want to compete with them for the rest of my life. So I found a niche where we can be successful, and that was in the tier two and tier three markets. We have offices in Denver and Portland. so we’re in tier one cities, but we built our client base in tier two and tier three markets. That’s how we built our success and sustained our business. Around that time we got a phone call from Columbia Artists. They were playing a “Cats” tour and lined up Portland and Seattle but needed a third stop in the Midwest to make it financially feasible. We did it in Spokane and started G&B Presents. We grew it, and now we’ve produced everything from Willie Nelson to Tony Bennett to Ray Charles to Broadway musicals to circuses.

What is the biggest highlight from your 30 years at TicketsWest?

My biggest highlight is the first time I put Garth Brooks on sale in the early 90’s. We ended up doing six performances. We’d sell out one show, open up another, then another, and that was a real high point. We pulled it off without a whole lot of challenges, but we brought down the phone system in Spokane and no one could call 911 or the hospitals. We eventually had to have a meeting with the city to make sure that didn’t happen again.

 

 


 


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NHL Benches Get iPads
 
Posted: 18 Apr 2017, 3:15 pm

An Apple iPad Pro which will be bench-side for all NHL teams.

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

During this year’s playoffs, National Hockey League (NHL) coaches and players don’t have to wait until intermission to review highlights and game-play footage. In all 16 playoff venues, the league has installed a video coaching system that will include three Apple iPad Pros placed on holders on the glass behind or on the side of team benches. Starting with the 2017-18 season, all 31 NHL arenas will have the new system.

The iPads come loaded with an app that allows coaches and players to view highlights in real-time, which can be created by each team’s video coaches through the use of league-issued Mac computers.

“By the time the player gets off his shift, that content is available within a minute, I guess, from the time it actually took place,” NHL Executive Vice President and Chief Technology Officer Peter DelGiacco told the Associated Press, which first reported the story. “Today, generally speaking, a lot of that would be done between periods and there’s a limited amount of time. … This kind of gives the coaches and the players real-time access so that they can make adjustments.”

On Wednesday night, a bird’s-eye photo from Getty Images showed a Montreal Canadiens staffer looking at an iPad during an Eastern Conference quarter-finals matchup against the New York Rangers.

With in-arena video technology system and through a collaboration with Apple, on-ice officials will now be able to utilize iPad Pros for video reviews, too. For this past regular season, coaches were able to have video monitors on benches to assist in challenging offsides calls or goaltender interference situations.

“It’s going to be huge in the playoffs,” Washington Capitals coach Barry Trotz said to the AP. “The referees, the league wants to get it right, the coaches want to get it right.”

Guy Boucher, coach of the Ottawa Senators, added that having the iPads accessible on the benches has minimized the amount of intermission time spent communicating with players because they could do it immediately during the play.

“We look at it because sometimes we’re not seeing everything that’s going on on the ice,” he said. “It’s good also for feedback with our players and, yeah, it’s good for challenges and all that. … It helps us also between periods because instead of looking at 12 different things between periods, we might have to look at five or six, so it’s quicker for us to get back to our players and tell them about adjustments because sometimes we already know a few adjustments and a lot of times we’ll address it right on the bench.”

Both the NFL and Major League Baseball (MLB) have various tablet technologies on the sidelines and dugouts. The Microsoft Surface, as part of a five-year, $400-million deal with the NFL that started in 2013, came under fire this past October when New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick vowed he was done utilizing the technology. Manager Joe Maddon of the Chicago Cubs had his own difficulties during the National League Championship Series (NLCS) last Fall, failing to submit a starting lineup with his nonleague-issued iPad device. Last March, Apple and Major League Baseball announced a deal that would place iPad Pros in each team’s dugout throughout the season.


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HOT TICKETS for April 19, 2017
 
Posted: 18 Apr 2017, 2:00 pm

John Mayer kicked off his The Search for Everything world tour on March 31 at Times Union Center, Albany, N.Y. This tour stretches across eight countries before the first leg wraps May 12, at The O2, London. Mayer made a stop at Madison Square Garden, making our Hot Tickets chart this week, with the Live Nation-promoted event grossing $1.4 million with ticket prices ranging from $50-$120. The nearly 15,000 fans in attendance, along with all online ticket buyers for the North American tour dates, will also receive a physical copy of his new album The Search for Everything. Fans can catch the next John Mayer show this Friday, April 21, at The Forum, Inglewood, Calif.

The much-loved comedian/television and movie star Billy Crystal is having a stellar year with his 2017 Spend the Night with Billy Crystal tour, which hit our Hot Tickets chart this week. Crystal brought his unique, stand-up comedy show to the Chicago Theatre where he entertained over 7,000 fans with two sold-out, Jam Productions-promoted events on April 1-2, grossing nearly $650,000. Crystal will be bringing the laughs with his unpredictable humor to the Fox Theatre, Atlanta, on April 27.

HOT TICKETS is a weekly summary of the top acts and ticket sales as reported to VT PULSE. Following are the top 20 concerts and events, the top 5 in each seating capacity category, which took place between March 21-April 18.

15,001 or More Seats

10,001-15,000 Seats

5,001-10,000 Seats

5,000 or Fewer Seats

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

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

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

4) Radiohead
Gross Sales: $1,190,710; Venue: Rose Quarter, Portland, Ore.; Attendance: 12,879; Ticket Range: $99.50-$69.50; Promoter: AEG Presents; Dates: April 9; No. of Shows: 1

5) Eric Church
Gross Sales: $1,099,179; Venue: Pepsi Center Arena, Denver; Attendance: 16,351; Ticket Range: $89-$29; Promoter: Messina Touring Group, AEG Presents; Dates: April 5; No. of Shows: 1

1) Journey, Asia
Gross Sales: $553,362; Venue: Allen County War Memorial Coliseum, Fort Wayne, Ind.; Attendance: 8,613; Ticket Range: $97.50-$37.50; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: March 31; No. of Shows: 1

2) Eric Church
Gross Sales: $541,050; Venue: Taco Bell Arena, Boise, Idaho; Attendance: 9,647; Ticket Range: $89-$24; Promoter: Messina Touring Group, AEG Presents; Dates: March 24; No. of Shows: 1

3) Twenty One Pilots
Gross Sales: $540,284; Venue: Brisbane (Australia) Entertainment Centre; Attendance: 9,414; Ticket Range: $68.05-$60.48; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: March 27; No. of Shows: 1

4) Twenty One Pilots
Gross Sales: $534,356; Venue: Perth (Australia) Arena; Attendance: 9,091; Ticket Range: $69.52-$62.01; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: April 8; No. of Shows: 1

5) Journey, Asia
Gross Sales: $532,577; Venue: Ford Center, Evansville, Ind.; Attendance: 7,558; Ticket Range: $99.50-$36.50; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: April 1; No. of Shows: 1

1) Bon Jovi
Gross Sales: $1,491,610; Venue: Mohegan Sun Arena, Uncasville, Conn.; Attendance: 9,205; Ticket Range: $195-$125; Promoter: In-house, CAA; Dates: April 1; No. of Shows: 1

2) Def Leppard
Gross Sales: $573,968; Venue: Mohegan Sun Arena, Uncasville, Conn.; Attendance: 7,235; Ticket Range: $129-$59; Promoter: In-house, AGI; Dates: April 12; No. of Shows: 1

3) Eric Church
Gross Sales: $562,206; Venue: Brick Breeden Fieldhouse, Bozeman, Mont.; Attendance: 7,754; Ticket Range: $89-$67; Promoter: Messina Touring Group, AEG Presents; Dates: March 22; No. of Shows: 1

4) Muluma
Gross Sales: $468,927; Venue: Microsoft Theater, Los Angeles; Attendance: 6,862; Ticket Range: $126.50-$36.50; Promoter: Goldenvoice; Dates: March 26; No. of Shows: 1

5) Ice Cube
Gross Sales: $447,742; Venue: Orleans Arena, Las Vegas; Attendance: 5,323; Ticket Range: $254-$59; Promoter: In-house; Dates: April 7; No. of Shows: 1

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

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

3) Beautiful
Gross Sales: $1,030,696; Venue: Orpheum Theater, Omaha, Neb.; Attendance: 13,430; Ticket Range: $120-$35; Promoter: Omaha Performing Arts Presents; Dates: April 4-9; No. of Shows: 8

4) Something Rotten
Gross Sales: $791,628; Venue: Peace Center, Greenville, S.C.; Attendance: 10,598; Ticket Range: $85-$25; Promoter: In-house; Dates: April 11-16; No. of Shows: 8

5) Billy Crystal
Gross Sales: $646,989; Venue: Chicago Theatre; Attendance: 7,060; Ticket Range: $146.50-$36; Promoter: Jam Productions; Dates: April 1-2; No. of Shows: 2

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

 


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Suca and Miller Join BSE's West Coast Office
 
Posted: 17 Apr 2017, 5:00 pm

Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment, N.Y., has expanded its reach on the West Coast and made two strategic hires.

TinaSuca_200x145.jpgTina Suca

Tina Suca has joined the organization as VP, industry relations. Suca will support the booking efforts for all BSE properties: Barclays Center, Brooklyn, N.Y.; NYCB LIVE, Uniondale, N.Y.; Webster Hall, New York; and the soon-to-be renovated LIU Brooklyn (N.Y.) Paramount Theatre. Prior to this, Suca served as VP, entertainment for ArenaNetwork; GM of Nassau (N.Y.) Veterans Memorial Coliseum under SMG; GM of The Forum, Inglewood, Calif.; and GM of The Wiltern, Los Angeles.

AndyMiller_200x145.jpgAndy Miller

Andy Miller has been hired as executive director, global partnerships. Miller most recently served as director of national sales for NBC Olympics & Sports Ventures, where he managed western regional partnerships. Prior to that, he was GM of sales & marketing for IMG College, Winston-Salem, N.C.; account executive, NFL Network & NFL.com and account executive for national network sales for FOX Cable Sports.

Both will be based in the company’s Los Angeles office.


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AEG and OVG Bid For KeyArena Redo
 
Posted: 13 Apr 2017, 6:00 pm

(Above) A rendering of the Oak View Group’s KeyArena plan shows the bowl will be 15 feet deeper than the current one to create added seating. (Photo Credit: Oak View Group); (Below) A rendering of Seattle Partner's KeyArena plan shows the exterior of their proposed rebuild. (Photo Credit: Seattle Partners)

Two of the biggest players in the venue world submitted the only viable bids to the City of Seattle to win the contract to rebuild KeyArena by yesterday’s (April 12) deadline. The Request For Proposals process started only last January.

The Oak View Group (OVG), led by Tim Leiweke, former CEO of Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG) and Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment, and mega-music manager Irving Azoff, has unwrapped a $564-million package. Seattle Partners, an alliance between Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG) and Hudson Pacific Properties, has proposed a $520-million pitch for the renovation. (Full disclosure: Venues Today LLC is a subsidiary of OVG.)

The proposals will be under scrutiny for the next two months, with a choice to be presented to the mayor of Seattle by the end of June. A third, amended proposal to build an arena at a different location, brought by Sodo Group, is also before the city council for a decision before the end of the year.

Both KeyArena groups have plans to lure National Basketball Association (NBA) and National Hockey League (NHL) teams to Seattle but will commit to the project without any assurances from either sports league.

Seattle was previously the home of the NBA’s SuperSonics who played home games at KeyArena, originally known as Seattle Center Coliseum, for 33 of the franchise's 41 seasons in Seattle.

The OVG proposal calls for a 660,000 sq.-ft. venue. It will have 18,350 seats for basketball, 17,100 seats for hockey and a concert capacity of 17,100. The completion date would be October 2020. OVG’s arena expansion method is to place the lower arena bowl and floor 15 feet underground to create a 660,000-sq.-ft. blueprint.

OVG’s bid comes with $350 million in financing from Goldman Sachs, which guaranteed up to $400 million, with the additional $150 million coming from OVG and its equity partner Madison Square Garden (MSG). Concert giant Live Nation has also pledged financial support and Delaware North has signed on as the concessionaire.

Seattle Partners plan envisions a 600,000 sq.-ft. facility. Its projected NBA capacity would be 18,113. For hockey, it would seat 17,120 and a concert capacity would be 19,202. The company projects it would take 24-26 months to complete after approval. Seattle Partners development would expand the roof over the south side of the arena.

Seattle Partners financing relies on its partners AEG and Hudson Pacific Properties to come up with the cash, although they do plan to ask the city to participate in the form of public bonding to attain tax advantages.

OVG’S PLAN

“We believe that Seattle is a top-10 music market and the fact that they have not had an arena update since 1995 makes them badly in need of a new state-of-the-art music venue and one that can bring back the NBA and recruit the NHL,” said Lance Lopes, OVG, director of special projects. “We look at this as a tremendous opportunity to do all of those things at one time.”

“We first and foremost are excited about doing something in Seattle Center and maintaining the historic nature of the building,” he said. “It’s a special place in Seattle’s heart dating back to the World’s Fair in 1962. What’s special is that we are going to build a new arena under the existing roof.”

Features of the OVG bid are a revolutionary two-scoreboard system, one sitting  over each end of the arena, and Lopes envisions this as the new standard that will replace traditional center-hung scoreboards. An atrium at one end of the arena called the Millennial Area, where there will be a bar and people circulating, “will have a spectacular view of the Space Needle. It’s going to be a pretty cool feature,”added Lopes.

OVG brought in ICON and Populous as partners to design and build the arena. “It will take 20 months to complete the building and we hope to be open in October 2020,” he said.

Lopes believes OVG has assembled the most powerful team that’s ever been put together for a proposal. “With Live Nation on board, we will have a leg-up on content,” he said.

Lopes is also proud of the community support that OVG has built into their bid. “OVG has pledged over $10 million to tackle teen homelessness through a group called Youth Care. We’ve also offered internships and training and we’ll bring all the things we can to help them solve this critical issue.”

As far as delivering an NBA and NHL team, Lopes said, “We’re not getting ahead of the franchise commissioners. We understand we need to build an arena before we can get a team. We continue to communicate with them on a regular basis and when they are ready to expend, we’ll be ready and well-positioned.”

AEG AND HUDSON PACIFIC PROPERTIES PROPOSAL

Aaron Pickus is spokesman for Seattle Partners. “This is a unique opportunity,” he said. “It’s the best location in a great city for a world-class arena that is also a civic asset.”

“KeyArena has a great story and history. Our proposal will make it not only a great music venue but also up to the standards for a prospective NBA and NHL franchise in the future.”

“We’re looking at a $520-million budget and it should take about two years to complete,” he said. “We plan to take advantage of the historic rooflines of KeyArena and our proposal takes advantage of the ’12 man’ (the fan is the 12th man) concept of Seattle. There’s a great culture of intimate, loud, dynamic fan experiences here.”

“Seattle Partners members clearly bring the most experience to urban arena developments,” said Pickus. “AEG has been in Seattle a long time. Hudson Pracific Properties owns a lot of property here and AEG owns and runs the two Showboxes in Seattle. We have a deep bench of local partners to help, including Sellen Construction, Nelson/Nygaard who will consult on transportation, Gensler Architecture and Rossetti Associates.”

SODO STILL IN THE GAME

A third player in the KeyArena stakes is entrepreneur Chris Hansen who has proposed abandoning the KeyArena site altogether and wants to build a new venue in a different location. Hansen’s Sodo Group’s proposal was shot down by the City Council last May after public outcry over its call for over $200 million in public financing. Sodo Group has drafted a new proposal, without city financing, that must be voted on by the council by the end of the year.

The unique situation has not been lost on city officials. “We’re thrilled by the fact that there are three different groups willing to invest multimillions of dollars in the City of Seattle,” said Brian Surratt, director of the Seattle Economic Office of Development.

“KeyArena has been a great venue for us for music and other entertainment.” he said. “The Seattle Storm play there and we have college basketball and about a hundred other events. What this opportunity presents is an opportunity for the city to re-imagine KeyArena as a facility that meets NBA and NHL standards.”

“We’re excited that the two leading giants in this space agree,” he said. “Each are willing to invest over $500 million to go down that path and we can take KeyArena to the next level with these partners. It’s astonishing that these groups were able to get the architectural concepts, financing, operations and bring in their own partners in only four months.”

“Both proposals are really impressive and do an amazing job of preserving the look and feel and roof of the building,” he said. “Both will accommodate the NBA and NHL and will make this a premier entertainment facility.”

Sturratt did want to acknowledge that two graduate students from the University of Washington submitted a proposal as well. “We got a kick out of their proposal but, of course, it had no funding attached.”

THE PROCESS NOW

Surratt said the process from here starts with internal teams from the city looking at the proposals including transportation and community benefits. The next step is for an outside panel, comprised of local civil and business leaders, to examine the proposals.

The outside council will be led by former Sonics coach Lenny Wilkens. The other nine members are Jan Levy, chair of the Seattle Center Advisory Committee; Deborah Frausto, KeyArena subcommittee chair of the Seattle Uptown Alliance; Nicole Grant, executive secretary of the King County Labor Council; restaurateur Ethan Stowell, music executive Megan Jasper, business leader Ollie Garrett, former pro hockey player Todd Humphrey, architect Rico Quirindongo and Jill Nishi, chief of staff for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

An open house is scheduled for May 11 where anyone in the community can question representatives from OVG and Seattle Partners at KXP radio station, which is next door to KeyArena.

Following the open house, the community panel will give Surratt, the city’s budget director and the director of Seattle Center their feedback and advice. The trio will then ultimately deliver a recommendation to Seattle Mayor Ed Murray by the end of June.

The Mayor will then make the final call. If he picks either OVG or Seattle Partners, lease negotiations will start with the victor and the result of that process will be submitted to the city council for a vote.

“If they vote ‘yes’ we’ll start permitting, transportation planning and then speed along to groundbreaking,” he said.

Both groups addressed increasing the number of loading docks in their proposals and both tackle traffic and parking around KeyArena with a monorail upgrade and rideshare solutions. OVG’s parking plan is to install an 850-car parking garage, while the Seattle Partners say they will subsidize $5 million for improvements and expansion of the current city transportation links.

Both groups have deep ties to both the NBA and NHL that could help them secure NBA and NHL franchises.

Half of the NHL’s 30 teams are part of OVG’s Arena Alliance; Leiweke was part of the NHL executive committee for the Toronto Raptors. He also had four-percent equity in AEG, which operates Staples Center, Los Angeles, where the Lakers play. Florida Panthers Executive Chairman Peter Luukko is co-chairman of the OVG Arena Alliance. OVG’s proposed concessionaire Delaware North, owned by Jeremy Jacobs, is chairman of the NHL’s board of governors.

AEG has built or operates many NHL teams, including the Los Angeles Kings, and hockey arenas, including Staples Center, Los Angeles, and Hudson Pacific Properties is owned by Victor Coleman, who has made it known he wants to bring an NHL team to Seattle. AEG has also built and/or manages numerous NBA venues and is part-owner of the Los Angeles Lakers.


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Hassall Appointed CEO of Royal Albert Hall
 
Posted: 12 Apr 2017, 9:00 pm

Craig_200x145.jpgCraig Hassall

Craig Hassall has been appointed CEO of the Royal Albert Hall, London. Prior to this, he was the chief executive of Opera Australia, the national opera company. Prior to Opera Australia, he worked in London for almost nine years, first as CEO of English National Ballet, the national touring ballet company of the UK.

Following this, Hassall was chief operating officer of Raymond Gubbay Ltd., responsible for new business and collaborative ventures in the commercial field of classical music, opera and ballet. He also consulted on cultural aspects of the London 2012 Olympic Games.

Hassall was awarded an AM of the Order of Australia for services to the arts in the Australia Day Honours 2016. He is currently on the board of Centre for Recent Drawing (C4RD), London, and the London International Festival of Theatre (LIFT).

Hassall replaces Chris Cotton who left his post after seven and a half years.
 


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Billy Joel Closes, Reopens NYCB LIVE
 
Posted: 12 Apr 2017, 8:00 pm

Billy Joel playing to a sell-out crowd at the opening of the newly renovated Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.

When Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum closed in August 2015, Long Island native Billy Joel gave the beloved venue a rousing sendoff. Almost two years later on April 5, 2017, the Piano Man was on hand once more to christen the newly renovated arena. Joel’s three-hour performance was his thirty-third concert at the Coliseum, and he played 33 songs to mark the occasion.

Billy_Joel._Credit_Getty_2_.jpgBilly Joel at the opening of the renovated Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.

“Our sold-out show from legendary Long Islander Billy Joel on April 5 was a historic moment for the Coliseum,” said Nick Vaerewyck, senior director of programming for NYCB LIVE, home of Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. “The energy in the building was electric, and we are proud to be able to show fans the hard work that has gone into renovating the venue over the past 20 months. We are looking forward to the great programming lined up at the Coliseum in the coming weeks, including Metallica and the final Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus performances ever.”

Since the arena’s reopening, there has been a major event almost every night. Stevie Nicks, Idina Menzel and Marc Anthony entertained audiences over the last week and, on April 10, the Coliseum played host to WWE Monday Night Raw. Upcoming visitors include the Harlem Globetrotters, Def Leppard and The Weeknd. In May, the Coliseum will also host the last hurrah of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. A full list of events is available below.

First opened in 1972, Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum is located in Uniondale on Long Island. Until 1977, the arena served as the home of the New York Nets of the American Basketball Association (and later of the National Basketball Association). The coliseum also provided home ice advantage to the National Hockey League’s New York Islanders up until 2015. Beginning with the 2017-2018 season, the venue will become home court for the Long Island Nets, the NBA Development League affiliate of the Brooklyn Nets.

Over the last two years, the 416,000-square-foot coliseum underwent $165 million of exterior and interior renovations. The original building was constructed at a cost of $32 million ($186 million when adjusting for inflation).

NassauExteriorNew9.jpgExterior of  Nassau Veterans Memorial Colisuem.

Designed by SHoP Architects, the renovated building’s intricate aluminum fin façade pays homage to Long Island’s history as the birthplace of the aviation industry. In total, the 960 fins are comprised of 4,654 unique segments. Meanwhile, the venue’s skin evokes iconic imagery including Long Island’s sand dunes and boardwalks. An astounding 50,000 square feet of terrazzo flooring, 52,000 square feet of tile, and 10,000 gallons of paint were used for the project.

Gensler served as the architect for the venue’s interior renovation. A redesigned main entrance, all new seating, and revamped concessions and bathrooms will enhance the guest experience. From a sustainability perspective, the building stepped into modernity with the installation of LED lights, new windows and doors (to improve thermal performance), and waterless urinals. Fans will also enjoy access to high-speed Wi-Fi, improved cellular service for all major carriers, and an enlarged high-definition LED scoreboard.

The Artist’s Quarters presented by Apollo Jets are private and separate from the press and production areas, granting visiting performers an intimate experience and respite from the chaos of the tour. Accommodations include a Residential Style Suite, available in a Manhattan Modern or Hamptons Chic theme; a Wellness Room and Fitness Center; an Artist Living Room and a Promoter’s Lounge.

Premium areas at Nassau Coliseum include a 4,152-square-foot VIP club, featuring two large bars; high-top tables; banquette seating, and a four-acre outdoor plaza, which will be used for events and festivals. Additionally, the Blue Moon Beer Garden on the main concourse will feature expanded food and beverage selections, such as Umberto’s Pizza, which will have a large wood-burning pizza oven. Through the Long Island Taste program (patterned after Barclays Center’s Brooklyn Taste), Nassau Coliseum will offer authentic food and beverage from local restaurants and vendors.

The Coliseum can accommodate mid-size audiences for a variety of events.

• Concerts: up to 16,000
• Basketball: 14,500
• MMA/Boxing: 14,500
• Hockey: 13,900
• Theater: 4,500

There are also eight designated seats that will remain unused at all times to honor Prisoners of War and those Missing in Action; the five branches of the U.S. military (Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force and Coast Guard); first responders, including firefighters, law enforcement and emergency medical service members; and those who lost their lives on Sept.11, 2001, including more than 500 Long Islanders.

The Veterans Memorial, a dark granite oval on the southeast corner of the plaza, features water flowing along its surface, with a monument emerging at the center where National Guard honors the veterans with an eternal flame.

It’s been a long wait, but the gorgeous venue has been restored to its glory. Nassau Coliseum will undoubtedly rejuvenate Long Island as an iconic social and cultural hub. In the words of Billy Joel, “she’s got a way about her.”

Upcoming Events include:

• Def Leppard, April 15
• Monster Jam Series, 4 events, April 21, 22 & 23
• Barbra Streisand , May 4
• Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, May 12-15, May 19-21
• Metallica, May 17
• Barry Manilow, May 25
• The Weeknd, June 3
• Maxwell, June 10
• New Kids on the Block with Paula Abdul, July 7
• J. Cole, Aug. 5
• Roger Waters, co-founder of the rock band Pink Floyd, Sept. 15 & 16
• Professional Bull Riders: Built Ford Tough Series, Sept. 23 & 24
• Bruno Mars, Oct. 5
• Stony Brook vs. Maryland, Nov. 11
• Villanova vs. Hofstra on Dec. 22
• MAAC College Basketball Tripleheader on Jan. 27, 2018


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Pistons Play Last Game at The Palace
 
Posted: 12 Apr 2017, 6:00 pm

The exterior of the Palace at Aubern Hills, Mich. (Photo credit: Detroit Pistons file photos)

When a National Basketball Association team leaves its home arena for another, it’s as sentimental as a couple leaving a house where they raised their kids.

Such was the feeling on April 10 when the Detroit Pistons played their last home game at The Palace at Auburn Hills (Mich.). Although the Pistons lost 105-101 to the Washington Wizards, it was still a memorable moment for the team and those who’ve worked at the venue for the last three decades.

The Pistons soon will move into the newly built home they will share with the Detroit Red Wings of the National Hockey League in downtown Detroit. The new 21,000-seat venue that cost $733 million to construct is called Little Caesars Arena and opens in September.

Long-time Pistons sportscaster George Blaha said he’s sad to see the team leave the Palace, but the joint venture with the Red Wings makes geographical and financial sense. HOK is the architect.

“If you’re a family, and the husband and wife are both involved in the financial decision-making, you’re probably going to make better decisions with two people involved,” Blaha said, noting that the same goes for the Pistons and Red Wings coming together under one roof. “They’ll be making some overall marketing decisions and promotion decisions and fan decisions that will benefit both teams.”

Blaha has experienced many unforgettable moments at the 24,000-seat Palace that opened in 1988.

“When the Pistons blasted the Lakers in game five of five, the place went absolutely bananas,” he said. “When they started to pile up the points, the noise started and it never stopped.”

Many others have fond memories of the Palace, including Chief Operating Officer of Rossetti, Dave Richards. Rossetti was the architect for the Palace, and Richards was on the decision-making team when the arena was built.

The_Palace_-_interior_.jpgInterior of The Palace at Auburn Hills. (Photo credit: Detroit Pistons file photos)

“We began designing it very late in 1985, and in 1986 we were in construction. The building had some really unique features at the time,” Richards said.

For instance, they put padding on the seats, unlike other stadiums and arenas in the '80s that had plastic seats or benches. Also, the arena had 50 percent more women’s facilities than required by code, he said.

“We did a lot of things to really improve the fan experience,” he said, highlighting that they put suites in row 16 of the arena, which was unheard of at that time.

Perhaps the most notable experience for Richards during his time with the Palace was when he had to convince Sting — who played the opening concert at the venue in 1988 — to get on the grid that’s 10-feet under the floor and raise to the stage.

“I ended up having to talk Sting into going on stage and offered to sit there with him,” Richards said. “That was a pretty cool thing.”

Although the transition to a new venue is bittersweet for many, moving the team downtown makes sense on many levels.

“The downtown location will be centrally located,” Blaha said, adding that it will be easier for people across the region to travel to games or concerts. “If they don’t want to go to a basketball game, it’ll be because they don’t want to go to a basketball game, not because of where the arena is located.”

Right now, fans who live down river and in other parts of Detroit, have a difficult time getting to the Palace due to where it’s located in the city, he said.

“I’m excited about moving downtown and doing something for Detroit but sad we’re walking out of what’s been the very best building in America,” Blaha said. “It’s been one of the best parts of what’s been a dream job for me, broadcasting for the NBA and broadcasting for the Pistons and having a front row seat for it.”

 


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Spectra Revs Up Fair Sponsorship Deals
 
Posted: 12 Apr 2017, 5:50 pm

State Fair of Virgina, Doswell, a new client of Spectra sponsorship partnerships.

Spectra is accelerating its division selling sponsorships to fairs. After getting their feet wet with two smaller fairs, Bangor (Maine) State Fairgrounds and Larimer County Fair and Rodeo, Loveland, Colo., they’ve now landed two larger fairs; State Fair of Virginia, Doswell, and York (Pa.) Fair.

“We’ve been managing and selling sponsorships at two smaller fairs in Colorado and Maine for the past few years,” explained Nino Vanin, director of business development, Spectra sponsorships and partnerships. “In the last few months, we’ve taken a look at standalone fairs across the country that bring in 400,000 to 500,000 people over the course of the fair.”

“Many fairs are looking to re-imagine and re-invigorate the ‘story’ of their respective fairs as well as the experience they provide their patrons,” he said. “Our firm, which has experiences with large, high-level events, can bring the fresh perspective that fairs are looking for. We’re sponsorship experts, and our experience with events will also help us sell the sponsorships.”

“We’ve had a pretty significant presence in the fair space for a while now, particularly on the West Coast and we decided to concentrate on fairs on the East Coast that made sense, and were in geographical areas that were of interest to us,” said Vanin.

The 150 year-old State Fair of Virginia, the birthplace and 1973’s Triple Crown winner,+ Secretariat, who is also buried there, and Pennsylvania’s York Fair, fit the bill and both signed on. Spectra is now the exclusive sponsorship sales agency for the State Fair of Virginia park, fair, and all other events during the year including the Virginia Horse Show and Illuminate Light Show. In York, Spectra is the exclusive sponsorship sales agency for the fair and expo center.

“Both fairs were working with a previous rightsholder,” said Vanin. “Now if you want to be a sponsor at either fair you come through us.”

At York Fair, corporate partners include Coca-Cola, GEICO, Rutter’s Farm Stores and UTZ Quality Foods. Virginia Lottery, First Bank and Trust, Coca-Cola and Fiat Chrysler are sponsors at State Fair of Virginia.

“Spectra called us at the end of last year and we started conversations,” said Marlene Pierson-Jolliffe, VP of operations, Meadow Event Park, and executive director, State Fair of Virginia. “We thought they might be a good match and kept the conversation going. We asked them a lot of questions. When making the decision to have an outside salesperson representing you, it needs to be a good fit. We had a lot of discussions about growth and revenues and percentages and how the contract would remain mutually beneficial for both of us.”

Pierson-Jolliffe said the State Fair of Virginia was also “looking for creativity that will give our events some spark.”

There were "checkpoints along the way” to make sure if it was not working, they could tweak or call it quits. They sealed the deal in 2017, and the contract will run for no less than three years. “The goal is for long-term,” she said.

Prior to hiring Spectra, the fair had a part-time in-house employee chasing sponsors as well as an outside sales firm. “We considered hiring a full-time staffer who was solely focused on sponsorships but, in the end, decided to go with Spectra because they understand how the facility runs,” she said.

Sponsorship deals can range from on-site activations that can run as low as $10,000 to mid-six figures for a naming rights contract. Vanin said that Spectra had a “number of prospects for future sponsors; we have a decent book of business.”

Vanin believes Spectra is an expert in the medium of sponsorship and trusts the company can apply the experience and knowledge they have across the many varied properties they represent to the fair industry. “We understand the fair industry and know how to do business the right way,” he said. “We also understand that agriculture, education and culture are important initiatives for fairs.”

Spectra is a turnkey service. They hire the director of corporate partnerships, in conjunction with the fair, who then works out of the fair offices to become an extension of the fair staff.

“We design the sales collateral, provide a market analysis and comparison to similar properties in the region and across the country, providing an in-depth valuation of available sponsorship assets and provide weekly reporting,” he said.

Spectra currently services 15 fairs/fairgrounds through its Food Services & Hospitality division, including Ford Midway at Ford Park Entertainment Complex, Beaumont, Texas; Curry County Fairgrounds, Clovis, N.M.; Orange County Fair & Event Center, Costa Mesa, Calif.; Chilhowee Park, Knoxville, Tenn.; Canada Western Fair District, London, Ontario; The Ranch-Larimer County Fairgrounds and Events Complex, Loveland, Colo.; Lea County Fairgrounds,  Lovington, N.M.; Memphis (Tenn.) Fairgrounds Complex; Los Angeles County Fairplex, Pomona, Calif.; Clark County Fairgrounds, Ridgefield, Wash.; ? Alameda County Fairgrounds, Pleasanton, Calif.; Richard M. Borchard Fairgrounds, Robstown, Texas; California Exposition & State Fairgrounds, Sacramento, Calif.; Sonoma County Fairgrounds, Santa Rosa, Calif. and Ventura County (Calif.) Fairgrounds at Seaside.

“There’s a need and desire from the new wave of executive directors of fairs who are looking for new ways to drive revenue,” said Vanin. “Having a group like Spectra that didn’t necessarily grow up in the fair world, will bring a fresh perspective.”

 


 


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Orlando Bowl Gets Familiar Sponsor
 
Posted: 12 Apr 2017, 4:30 pm

Camping World, Orlando, Fla., ready for football.

The annual NCAA college football bowl game played in Orlando’s Camping World Stadium will now have a fitting sponsor: Camping World.

Camping World has signed a multiyear agreement with Florida Citrus Sports to present the Camping World Bowl in Orlando, the game most recently known as the Russell Athletic Bowl, that features teams from the Atlantic Coast and Big 12 conferences in late December of each year.

Camping World has already taken over as the naming-rights sponsor for the host venue, the City of Orlando’s 1936-built stadium, most commonly known as the Citrus Bowl. Following a $207-million renovation that wrapped up in 2014, Camping World signed on for the venue’s naming rights in April 2016.

It hosted a first-ever Camping World Kickoff game, with the inaugural event in 2016, pitting Florida State against Ole Miss in front of a sell-out crowd.

“We’re excited to extend our successful partnership with Florida Citrus Sports and the collegiate partners who participate in this great game each year,” said Marcus Lemonis, chairman and CEO of Camping World and Good Sam Enterprises. “The core platform we have in Orlando with the stadium naming rights and Camping World Kickoff game makes this expansion a natural fit. Florida is a key market for us and that, coupled with the nationwide exposure of this post-season bowl game, makes it an ideal opportunity.”

As part of the deal, Camping World expects to receive national exposure through television, radio and online media recognition during the television broadcast and outdoor and print advertising throughout Central Florida. Camping World will also be featured on signage and event collateral throughout bowl week and within the stadium. The two parties declined to divulge the length or value of the agreement. Russell Athletic lasted five years as the naming rights sponsor for the bowl game.

“Florida Citrus Sports is thrilled for the opportunity to deepen our relationship with Camping World, who has proven to be an incredible partner to our organization and to Orlando,” said Steve Hogan, CEO of FCSports, in a statement. “We’re also humbled that they chose to partner with us again and believe that to be a testament to the value that our community, our stadium and our events provide.”

This year’s Camping World Bowl will serve as the 28th edition of the game, the 17th in Orlando. It currently hosts the top non-New Year’s Six selection from the Atlantic Coast Conference and the second non-New Year’s Six selection from the Big 12 Conference. In 2016, Miami defeated West Virginia in front of over 48,600 fans in the 65,000-seat venue. Just over 40,000 fans attended the 2015 version of the game.

Camping World Stadium hosts three bowl games each postseason. It was the only stop on the Rolling Stones’ Zip Code Tour in 2015, hosted three Copa America Centenario games in 2016, hosted an outdoor Guns ‘n Roses in concert in 2016, housed the new MLS Orlando City Soccer team until its soccer-specific venue opened and, this month, became the first outdoor stadium in the country to host WWE Wrestlemania for a second time.


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Hot Tickets for April 12, 2017
 
Posted: 12 Apr 2017, 1:00 pm

Journey and Asia kicked off a 2017 co-headlining tour in March, and their Spokane (Wash.) Veterans Memorial Arena show made our Hot Tickets chart this week. With ticket prices ranging from $30-$95, the CMoore Live-promoted event grossed over $600,000 with 8,100 fans rocking out to some of the bands’ most iconic hits. Journey and Asia are currently taking a break from their tour, but will be picking back up in Las Vegas at the Joint at Hard Rock Hotel and Casino where they will begin a residency that is scheduled to take up most of May. There have also been a slew of new dates added to the tour, which will keep the bands sharing a stage through summer.

The 52nd Academy of Country Music Awards hit many of the right notes as the show took #1 this week, grossing nearly $6 million at its new home at T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas. Over 11,000 country music fans saw ticket prices ranging from $350-$750 for the sold-out event, where Dierks Bentley and Luke Bryan returned to the stage to host. The ratings showed almost 11-million viewers tuning in to watch country music’s biggest event of the year.

HOT TICKETS is a weekly summary of the top acts and ticket sales as reported to VT PULSE. Following are the top 20 concerts and events, the top 5 in each seating capacity category, which took place between March 14-April 11.

15,001 or More Seats

10,001-15,000 Seats

5,001-10,000 Seats

5,000 or Fewer Seats

1) 52nd Academy of Country Music Awards
Gross Sales: $5,948,538; Venue: T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas; Attendance: 11,363; Ticket Range: $750-$350; Promoter: Academy of Country Music; Dates: April 2; No. of Shows: 1

2) Justin Bieber
Gross Sales: $3,591,943; Venue: Mount Smart Stadium, Auckland, New Zealand; Attendance: 35,420; Ticket Range: $118.58-$48.29; Promoter: AEG Presents, Concerts West, Frontier Touring ; Dates: March 18; No. of Shows: 1

3) KCON 2017
Gross Sales: $1,556,510; Venue: Arena Ciudad de Mexico, Mexico City; Attendance: 21,573; Ticket Range: $240.44-$53.43; Promoter: CJ Entertainment; Dates: March 17-18; No. of Shows: 2

4) Dixie Chicks
Gross Sales: $1,235,317; Venue: Qudos Bank Arena, Sydney; Attendance: 12,383; Ticket Range: $151.30-$75.61; Promoter: Chugg Entertainment, Rob Potts Entertainment Edge; Dates: March 29; No. of Shows: 1

5) Sing Me Back Home: The Music of Merle Haggard
Gross Sales: $1,229,399; Venue: Bridgestone Arena, Nashville, Tenn.; Attendance: 15,574; Ticket Range: $299.50-$25; Promoter: Outback Concerts; Dates: April 6; No. of Shows: 1

1) Dixie Chicks
Gross Sales: $833,765; Venue: Perth (Australia) Arena; Attendance: 7,536; Ticket Range: $149.98-$74.95; Promoter: Chugg Entertainment; Dates: April 5; No. of Shows: 1

2) Santana , Doobie Brothers
Gross Sales: $758,688; Venue: Perth (Australia) Arena; Attendance: 7,638; Ticket Range: $123.80-$82.53; Promoter: Chugg Entertainment; Dates: April 7; No. of Shows: 1

3) Eric Church
Gross Sales: $650,701; Venue: Intrust Bank Arena, Wichita, Kan.; Attendance: 13,105; Ticket Range: $89-$22; Promoter: Messina Touring Group, AEG Presents; Dates: April 7; No. of Shows: 1

4) Blake Shelton
Gross Sales: $632,235; Venue: Ford Center, Evansville, Ind.; Attendance: 9,366; Ticket Range: $82.50-$32.50; Promoter: Messina Touring Group; Dates: March 16; No. of Shows: 1

5) Journey, Asia
Gross Sales: $620,262; Venue: Spokane (Wash.) Veterans Memorial Arena; Attendance: 8,071; Ticket Range: $95-$29.50; Promoter: CMoore Live; Dates: March 16; No. of Shows: 1

1) Cirque du Soleil - OVO
Gross Sales: $1,352,563; Venue: H-E-B Center at Cedar Park (Texas); Attendance: 19,658; Ticket Range: $120-$37; Promoter: Cirque du Soleil; Dates: March 15-19; No. of Shows: 7

2) Elton John
Gross Sales: $1,112,819; Venue: The Broadmoor World Arena at Colorado Springs; Attendance: 9,081; Ticket Range: $159.50-$49.50; Promoter: Goldenvoice; Dates: March 16; No. of Shows: 1

3) Elton John
Gross Sales: $984,951; Venue: Tucson (Ariz.) Arena; Attendance: 8,199; Ticket Range: $159.50-$49.50; Promoter: Goldenvoice; Dates: March 21; No. of Shows: 1

4) Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone in Concert
Gross Sales: $711,598; Venue: Radio City Music Hall, New York; Attendance: 9,685; Ticket Range: $83.50-$43.50; Promoter: Live Nation, MSG Live; Dates: March 31-April 1; No. of Shows: 2

5) Franco De Vita
Gross Sales: $634,718; Venue: Radio City Music Hall, New York; Attendance: 5,600; Ticket Range: $179-$49; Promoter: Loud And Alive; Dates: March 25; No. of Shows: 1

1) Cher
Gross Sales: $2,885,444; Venue: The Theater at MGM National Harbor, Oxon Hill, Md.; Attendance: 15,826; Ticket Range: $360-$120; Promoter: AEG Presents, MRES; Dates: March 17-26; No. of Shows: 6

2) The Bodyguard
Gross Sales: $1,259,071; Venue: Fox Theatre, Atlanta; Attendance: 20,184; Ticket Range: $125-$30; Promoter: Broadway Across America; Dates: March 28-April 2; No. of Shows: 8

3) Jersey Boys
Gross Sales: $1,085,922; Venue: Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, Miami; Attendance: 13,397; Ticket Range: $165-$29; Promoter: In Concert Ltd, Broadway Across America; Dates: April 4-9; No. of Shows: 8

4) Jerry Seinfeld
Gross Sales: $735,494; Venue: Fox Theatre, Atlanta; Attendance: 9,176; Ticket Range: $171.50-$46.50; Promoter: JS Touring; Dates: April 7; No. of Shows: 2

5) Joe Bonamassa
Gross Sales: $532,238; Venue: Orpheum Theatre, Minneapolis; Attendance: 4,190; Ticket Range: $575-$89; Promoter: J & R Adventures; Dates: March 17-18; No. of Shows: 2

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

 


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Fans Experience Player's POV Through VR
 
Posted: 10 Apr 2017, 4:00 pm

Opening day at Chase Field, Phoenix, Ariz., was captured by R&R Partners to send to VR headsets in the stadium so fans could experience the game from the players' point of view.

SportTechie digs into the VR trend in sports with a look at initiatives in Seattle and Phoenix.

(Editor's note: These stories appeared previously on SportTechie.com)

Flash back to December when Pixvana, a Seattle software startup, announced a partnership with the Seattle Sounders FC to bring fans the club’s first virtual reality experience. The company provided just a glimpse then of what was to come.

The Sounders last month proceeded to release their virtual reality experience before their home opener against the New York Red Bulls. The VR experience captured the excitement of Sounders' matchday, in addition to the team’s historic turnaround and postseason run that eventually led to its first league title in 2016.

The VR experience is available to fans all season before every Sounders' home match as part of The NINETY’s matchday activities using an HTC Vive VR headset via Pixvana’s SPIN Player.

The experience incorporated footage from five games and also featured never-before-captured, behind-the-scenes moments from in the stands and on the field — as well as from the stage of the club’s MLS Cup Champions March and Rally at Seattle Center.

“Virtual reality has opened up an entirely new way to experience sports and we’re thrilled to be able to share this unique view of the historic 2016 season,” Sounders' chief operating officer Bart Wiley said in a statement. “We have enjoyed working with Pixvana and Intentional Futures in the continuing pursuit of providing our fans with some of the most memorable matchday experiences in the league.”

Pixvana created this experience by taking photos that were stitched together to make a 360-degree view and editing them to make it a video.

“We’re proud to work with the Sounders and Intentional Futures to deliver the most immersive and most high resolution soccer content that’s been captured to date,” Aaron Rhodes, Executive Producer at Pixvana, said in a statement. “A compilation of five games, including the historic MLS Cup win, this VR experience gives viewers incredible access to both the fan experience and the on-field action. Thanks to Intentional Futures, we were also able to incorporate awesome graphics into the footage to create a fun Jumbotron effect throughout.”

Arizona Diamondback fans will now be able to experience baseball from their favorite players’ points of view as well.

The Diamondbacks announced they are partnering with Cox Communications and R&R Partners to bring fans the Cox Connects VR Bullpen area to the main concourse of Chase Field.

The VR experience will allow fans to see through the eyes of pitchers, see what it looks like from the player’s perspective to field a ground ball and catch a fly ball. It will also give people behind-the-scenes looks at the life of a Major League Baseball player.

Cox Connects uses HTC VIVE to showcase content. Fans that are not looking through the headset will be able to see the VR experience on television displays.

This isn’t R&R Partners' first project with bringing sports fans virtual reality experiences. The agency also worked with The Penguins to give fans an exclusive look at the Stanley Cup.


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Kurtz Takes TicketsWest Helm
 
Posted: 5 Apr 2017, 9:45 pm

Dusty Kurtzdusty202.jpg

Dusty Kurtz is the new president of TicketsWest following the retirement of founder Jack Lucas, who stepped down March 26 after 30 years running the company. Lucas isn't leaving though. He will continue to run West Coast Entertainment and "he's just down the hall," Kurtz said.

“As the new president I’m very comfortable with our core values and the thing that’s most important to me is that we never compromise that,” said Kurtz. “I really wanted to work with a group that prioritized relationships and that’s what Jack has established here. The quality of our clients and the quality of our staff comes first.”

Kurtz said he plans few changes but is going to look at new product offerings and innovative ways to be more effective. “With our industry changing as rapidly as it has in the last few years there’s an opportunity to look at what we put in front of our clients and to gain more efficiencies,” he said. “We’re going to spend a lot of time talking about that.”

Kurtz joined TicketsWest in 2006 as a project manager in the Denver office. He was promoted in 2008 to regional manager and in April 2011 he became the TicketsWest vice president and moved to the head office in Spokane, Wash. Prior to his positions with TicketsWest, Kurtz worked at Montana State University, Bozeman, and Brick Breeden Field House under Duane Morris.

“The promotion to president is a good thing,” said Kurtz. “Jack has put the company in a great position. We have great partners like Spectra Ticketing & Fan Engagement and I’m very fortunate to have gotten that call 11 years ago.”

Lucas will continue to serve as president of West Coast Entertainment, a concert and Broadway promotion company serving the Pacific Northwest.


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Fanalytics Drive Ticket Sales
 
Posted: 5 Apr 2017, 9:00 pm

Arri Landsman-Roos, Jacksonville Jaguars; Evan Weinstein, Steez Promo; Mike Leopando, Milwaukee Bucks; Kyle Burkhardt, Los Angeles Kings, and Mark Meyerson, Vendini, discuss data during XLIVE, Paley Center for Media, Los Angeles, April 4. (VT Photo)

REPORTING FROM BEVERLY HILLS — XLIVE held their annual data & analytics summit, April 4-5, at Paley Center for Media, Los Angeles, and the consensus among the speakers, panelists and attendees was that the advent of mobile technology has produced a wealth of data that gives the marketers their best tools yet for ticket sales and fan retention.

“The biggest metrics for us is how recently the fan interacted with us and the genre they were exploring,” said Mike Leopando, director, business analytics, Milwaukee Bucks. “With these two components we know exactly who to target, when to target them and what genres to push at them.”

“We used to have one lead score for every product,” said Kyle Burkhardt, business intelligence, Los Angeles Kings. “But the industry is moving toward having a different score for different products. Creating different scores allows us to push single ticket holders into mini-packages and flex plan holders into season ticket buyers.”

Arri Landsman-Roos, director, business analytics, Jacksonville Jaguars, discussed how the data he was getting from AEG was helping turn amphitheater goers into Jaguar fans. “We looked at the data and it suggested that pregame concerts might be  a way to get people who didn’t consider a Jaguars game into the Jaguar stadium. A lot those fans craved the ‘experience,' not just a particular music event, and we’re trying to tap into that segment.”

Burkhardt found that having data that tells him who came to a Kings hockey game and also went to a Los Angeles Galaxy soccer game helps him micro-target fans. “It’s all about the data points telling us more and more about each fan, individually,” he said.

The avalanche and breadth of data available today is staggering and knowing when and how to widen the data collected is as vital as the data itself. “We all struggle with how to keep the data from going stale,” said Leopando. “If you have data from several years ago, trying to market to that person today is nearly impossible. Update your markers at least every six months and flow the new information through your data warehouses as often as possible.”

Data is being used as a way the sales people approach the market. “Trying to get people while they are still engaged or likely to buy is the best way to make a sale and the data we collect is the best way to know when that customer is ripe,” said Burkhardt.

Email appears to be out-of-date, replaced by mobile engagement. “I am beginning to think email is not the best way to reach customers anymore,” said Evan Weinstein, partner, Steez Promo. “We’re now in a social media driven system. I’m seeing emails opened by only 35 percent of the recipients.”

“It’s less about emails being antiquated and more about these broad emails not working,” said Burkhardt. “You can do so much better with segmentation and targeting a particular buyer at a particular time.”

Weinstein suggested responding and replying to every single social media post. “Our interaction is up 300 percent since we started doing that,” he said. “We’ve become pushers of content across social media platforms. We need to give them value so they come back and give me value. By going on Instagram or running a contest I can give them value.”

THE 360 VIEW

Multiple touchpoints and multiple platforms make it difficult to get a 360 degree view of the customer, said Mark Meyerson, VP & GM, Vendini. “Food and beverage data and other segments that the buyer touches are all part of the puzzle. Putting all the data together in one place can be challenging.”

“Optimizing per caps needs the data from all the touchpoints,” said Burkhardt. “So we’ve centralized the data at one source and have it pushed out to the individual departments. Using the centralized data approach, the executives can see the buy-in and they can use the data and adapt from it and it also gets them to reinvest in the data.”

Landsman-Ross thinks the 360 data concept is overrated. “I want as much data as I can get,” he said. “But 55 percent of our revenue is from tickets; 40 percent from sponsorships and only five percent comes from food & beverage. The investment required to know what a fan buys at the concession stand is not as helpful as focused data explaining why a fan suddenly stopped buying tickets.”

Weinstein said data mining can produce data models that can identify someone who is 80 percent like the model and then be marketed to. “Finding fans who are similar to other fans based on data helps us pinpoint who to promote to and how.”

SECONDARY AND TERTIARY MARKETS

Burkhardt said most of their single-game tickets are sold through StubHub. “We have very few tickets available for single-game sale on primary,” he said. “So we have a deal with StubHub that allows us to identify that buyer who is going to multiple games and then we can get them into our pipeline. If we can get them to buy a mini-plan, we can then get them into a 11-game package, or a half-season package.”

“It an interesting relationship between all the secondary ticketers and there’s a lot of promise in getting those fans into the funnel,” said Meyerson.

By reducing the number of secondary ticket platforms the Bucks work with, Leopando is able to get solid weekly reports. “It can be tough to get the data from a long list of secondary ticket sellers and we went down to only three which made getting the data a lot easier,” he said.


 


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Levy, Bon Appetit Picked by Warriors
 
Posted: 5 Apr 2017, 5:00 pm

Hot Dog Bill's hot dog-style burger, to be available in 2019 at Chase Center, San Francisco.

San Francisco’s Golden State Warriors announced a first-of-its-kind hospitality partnership between Palo Alto’s Bon Appétit Management Co. and Chicago-based Levy to manage food and beverage initiatives at Chase Center, San Francisco, set to open at the start of 2019-20 NBA season.

The details of the agreement have not been disclosed, although Stephen Collins, Golden State Warriors’ CEO, described it as similar to a management fee deal as opposed to a commission deal, with incentives in terms of milestones and metrics.

“We wanted a holistic, integrated program that spoke to the Bay Area,” said Collins. “We told everyone this is not a typical model; we’re not looking to take money off the table or commission a deal, but rather proposing a business where all interests are aligned and the Warriors have ultimate control.”

The Warriors organization was initially skeptical that it would find a company to deliver on the project’s expectations as it pertained to local, sustainable, Bay Area experiences, and made sure those vying for the opportunity were aware that it reserved the right to turn down all proposals to be self-operating. This resulted in many companies dropping out of consideration. The organization would not reveal the other companies who submitted proposals for the project.

“The owners from day one wanted a unique, local and relevant food and beverage experience, and it became clear that this partnership was a way to deliver and exceed expectations,” said Jeff Wineman, Levy’s executive vice president, development.

Bakesale-Betty-Crispy-Chicken-Sandwich.jpgBakesale Betty's Crispy Chicken Sandwich.

Levy plans to leverage its E15 analytics subsidiary to formulate plans related to additional foodservice programming and pricing at Chase Center.

“This will be functional to help accurately identify what food and beverages we should serve, what to charge, etc.,” said Wineman. “We don’t have all the answers yet, as we’re still gathering information.”

As part of the partnership, five local, well-known Bay Area food businesses have been chosen as food providers. These include Oakland’s Bakesale Betty; San Francisco’s Tacolicious; Sam’s Chowder House of Half Moon Bay; Hot Dog Bill’s Burger Dog, previously available only to members at San Francisco’s Olympic Club Golf Course and, in a homage to the Warriors’ history and late NBA Hall-of-Famer Nate Thurmond, Chase Center will revive his acclaimed Big Nate’s BBQ.

“Levy is very talented in terms of analytics and technology in arenas, and we thought it would be terrific to collaborate together with our food experience, sourcing and iconic concepts that we’ve done in venues,” said Fedele Bauccio, CEO of Bon Appétit. “We will execute for them in a way that is ever-changing and creates experiences that haven’t been done before, primarily utilizing the best concepts in the Bay Area.”

The Warriors also worked with Atlanta-based Food Service Matters and its founder and principal Mike Plutino, formerly with Levy, on the design component.

“He shepherded us through the process and seized the vision early on,” said Collins. In addition to sourcing from more than 200 Farm to Fork small-farm Bon Appétit partners located within 150 miles of San Francisco, the Warriors, Bon Appétit and Levy are building programs to support locally-owned businesses in the Bay Area. As part of the food program, the team has launched “Taste Makers at Chase Center,” a program that directly benefits Bay Area businesses through networking and educational programs.

Bon Appétit’s clients include corporations, universities and museums around the country, while Levy’s venues include Barclays Center, Brooklyn, N.Y.; United Center, Chicago; Moda Center, Portland, Ore., and the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium opening this summer in Atlanta.

“I give Bon Appétit and Levy lots of credit for listening to what we said, working together to form partnerships to address exactly what we’re looking for and delivering the San Francisco component with the sustainability factor,” said Collins. “They gave us the best of both worlds.”
 


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Reds Lock Up Fan Food
 
Posted: 5 Apr 2017, 4:00 pm

Food lockers at Great American Ball Park, Cincinnati.

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

Starting July 10, visitors to Great American Ball Park, Cincinnati, home of the Cincinnati Reds, will be able to experience a new food and beverage pickup service.

Thanks to a partnership between food service provider Delaware North and Apex Supply Chain Technologies, fans will be able to pick up their food and beverage orders in a locker-style compartment. It will be the first use of the Apex technology for a professional sports league venue in the United States.

Don Dierig, Delaware North General Manager for the Great American Ball Park, said he was first introduced to the technology at a Delaware North Technology Summit last year.

“I thought it was one of the more unique and innovative things that I’d seen in food service,” Dierig said. “I thought it would be great if we could be part of it.

“We went out and toured the (Apex) property, heard what the lockers could do for us and then went in their innovation lab to see how it would be applied to our ballpark.”

After placing an order through MLB’s Ballpark app, a secure pickup code is sent to the fan once it is ready at a locker location. Fans then scan their code and the door is automatically opened so the food and beverage can be retrieved.

The locker-style compartments for the initial pilot phase at the Great American Ball Park will start at a size of 13” wide by 14” tall by 16” deep, which fits four beers, two popcorns and two hotdogs.

As Dierig explained, there is the potential for multiple-size lockers depending on customers’ purchases during the piloting. Initially, the lockers will be placed at two separate locations throughout the stadium and will be set at an ambient temperature, but they’ll have the capability of being set to hot or cold temperatures.

Dierig said that during the trial phase, Delaware North and Apex will also figure out the ideal threshold of time available for fans to pick up their food and beverages before it has to be recooked and replaced.

“Apex has a very turnkey solution where we felt that the customers could order their food through an app, and then we had a way for them to pick it up and send alerts back to them as opposed to waiting in line or having a line dedicated to pick up,” Dierig said of the advantages of having the locker-style system.


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N.C. HB2 Reboot Satisfies NCAA
 
Posted: 5 Apr 2017, 4:00 pm

HB2 repeal in North Carolina

Tuesday, April 4, the National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA) officially ended its ban on holding NCAA events in North Carolina. The prohibition was put in place after the passage of HB2 in March 2016, a bill that removed anti-discrimination protections for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community and required transgender people to use bathrooms in public facilities that matched the gender on their birth certificates.

In a statement, NCAA officials said they “reluctantly” ended the ban because the HB2 replacement bill, called HB142, “minimally achieved a situation where we believe NCAA championships may be conducted in a nondiscriminatory environment.” Whether North Carolina will secure any of the games for 2019-2022 seasons will be announced by NCAA officials on April 18.

HB142 does away with the restrictive bathroom provisions of HB2 and leaves regulation of bathrooms up to the state legislature. It also puts constraints on North Carolina cities from enacting their own LGBT antidiscrimination statutes until 2020.

Some are hopeful the new bill will ease the tension in the state and that events and conventions will return to the state, while activists on both sides of the debate have deemed the "compromise bill" insufficient.

“This issue has definitely impacted Charlotte’s visitor economy over the last year,” said Tom Murray, CEO, Charlotte (N.C.) Regional Visitors Authority (CRVA). “We’re grateful to see that the NCAA has renewed its faith in North Carolina and the Charlotte region once again. The NCAA events are far more important to our region than just the significant economic impact they inject into our community. We’re energized that we’ll be able to both partner with the NCAA and compete to host these events in the coming years.”

With the NCAA back on board, many in North Carolina are hoping for a domino effect that will entice many other organizations and artists that refused to come to the state to return.

It is unknown yet whether NCAA’s decision to play in North Carolina again will affect the eight other states that are currently debating their own “bathroom bills,” but many of the sponsors and supporters of those bills are taking comfort in the resolution of the North Carolina ban.

Texas Republican State Senator Lois Kolkhorst and the author of Senate Bill 6, a bill similar to HB2, was thrilled with the NCAA’s decision on Tuesday. “I applaud the NCAA for now agreeing that there is nothing discriminatory about the Texas Privacy Act or our honest efforts to address the serious issue of privacy and safety in our public facilities and school showers, locker rooms and restrooms.”

Alabama, Arizona, Kansas, Kentucky, Missouri, South Carolina and South Dakota are the other states that currently have “bathroom bill” legislation pending.

Many venues in North Carolina are enthusiastic about the repeal, but cautious. “It’s a good start and I’m optimistic,” said Jeff Bentley, director, Broyhill Civic Center, Lenoir, N.C. “But we’re in a waiting circle. The new law needs to go through the rounds to see how it will shake out.”

“We lost business,” said Rebecca Bolton, GM, Durham (N.C.) Convention Center. “We’d like to think people will understand it’s a new day and we want them to come back.”

Chaos quickly followed the passing of HB2 with major artists such as Bruce Springsteen, Pearl Jam, Cyndi Lauper, Boston, and Ringo Starr refusing to play the state, as well as sporting event cancelations from the National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA), the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) and the National Basketball Association, which withdrew its All-Star Game.

"We will contact all of the concert promoters we work with on a regular basis to ensure that all of the musical artists they represent, including Bruce Springsteen and Boston, who canceled previously scheduled concerts in Greensboro, N.C., due to HB2 are also aware of the repeal,” said Scott Johnson, deputy director, Greensboro (N.C.) Coliseum Complex, in a statement to Venues Today.

When contacted, a spokesman for Springsteen said that Springsteen “has said everything about the law he plans to say” while Steven Van Zant, a member Springsteen's E Street band, tweeted after the repeal and replacement, "It ain't over until the LGBT community and the ACLU say it's over."

Others in the state agree that the HB142 replacement does not change the equation.

“I think HB142 was an attempt to do something about the disaster of HB2, but in my opinion it was not nearly enough,” said North Carolina State Representative Cecil Brockman. “Each entity that pulled out jobs or events will have to analyze the bill for itself, but I do not think it was a clear solution to the issue of discrimination. I think any organization, company, or person who claims to care about equality needs to continue to stand strong for those values.”

Equally unhappy are North Carolina conservatives who see the “compromise bill” as a step backward. "This whole issue has been political from the beginning and I guess it's going to end that way," said Rep. Michael Speciale, R-Craven. "We sold ourselves. The people sitting up there in the galleries are no longer the people that we represent and are no longer the people who we work for. The people on the basketball courts are who we work for."

In total, direct spending losses for cancellations related to HB2 are $83.9 million, according to Laura White, director of communications, CRVA.

“The state lost $77.1 million in direct spending from sports and $6.8 million in convention center revenue,” said White. “We also lost over 63,000 hotel bookings and countless other amounts from dining, shopping and other tourist activity.”

George Habel, VP/Sports Group Capitol Broadcasting Co., said, “We lost the ACC baseball tournament. That was an event that would have drawn 60,000-70,000 people and we lost $2-3 million dollars over the week because of the cancelation. We also lost momentum on hosting that event permanently going forward because we were in the middle of a four-year contract.”

“We are relieved and grateful that our Governor and legislative leaders powered through their deadlock over this and we hope it’s viewed as a resolution by the NCAA and ACC,” he said, “Hopefully we’ll be back in business next spring.”

“Everyone is not jumping for joy because it was a compromise and there are people on both sides of the issue that are not happy today,” said Habel.

One of the unhappy is North Carolina State Representative Deb Butler. “We lost $3.6 billion in revenue, which is enormous considering the entire state budget is only $23 billion. HB142 does nothing to protect the LGBT community and doesn’t address the bigger picture of nondiscrimination. Some felt it was a good first step; I respectfully disagree.”

North Carolina’s southern neighbor, South Carolina, was the beneficiary of some of the business that fled North Carolina is the wake of HB2’s passage including men’s/women’s ACC tournaments, conventions and concerts.

Despite the NCAA decision, Duane Parrish, director, South Carolina Department of Parks and Tourism, is not confident that HB142 addresses all of the issues that HB2 brought to his neighbor state. “Both sides seem unhappy with what they did and it’s a possibility that North Carolina will continue to lose business,” he said. “Sports, concerts and conventions all equate to economic impact. It seems like there is still the risk that things will be perceived as still not fair and equal.”
 


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Golden 1 Center Stresses Community Support
 
Posted: 5 Apr 2017, 2:10 pm

Sacramento Kings ambassadors greet the one-millionth guest to attend an event at Golden 1 Center, Sacramento, Calif.

In just under six months, Golden 1 Center has hosted more than one million visitors, a benchmark Juan Rodriguez, SVP and general manager, has never seen happen so quickly at any other venue.

“It’s not just the Kings. Everything that’s coming in here — Joel Osteen on Friday or Eric Church last Thursday with Louis [Messina] or Arenacross this weekend, we’re selling out shows many people wouldn’t think would be supported in a city like Sacramento. Sacramento has been so undervalued for so long,” Rodriguez declared.

He attributes a lot of it to community support, which has been growing steadily since the arena opened Oct. 4, 2016. “This is the first time in 30 years people get to sit on a cushioned seat in an arena in Sacramento. Even in 1985, when Sleep Train Arena opened, it wasn’t really a state-of-the-art building back then. This is a different time for Sacramento,” Rodriguez said.

“I think Golden 1 Center has finally accomplished comfort,” said Ned Collett, Oak View Group Arena Alliance, of one reason the venue has been so successful.

There will be no resting on laurels at Golden 1 Center. With the Sacramento Kings National Basketball Association season wrapping up, Rodriguez is looking toward more community events and a broader open-door policy to keep the momentum going.

“Now we’re looking at creating our own events and giving back to the community that has supported this endeavor,” Rodriguez said, citing festivals and community events as in the works.

“Even roaming through the building, opening on off days to try the concessions stands on a Saturday afternoon is a possibility. Sacramento is a very outdoor community; they love being outside. With our big doors, you have that indoor/outdoor feel. The doors are open for tonight’s game and you feel like you’re not inside an arena; it’s like you’re outside.”

As soon as the weather turned nice, they tested Food Truck Fridays on the Plaza a couple of times, with doors open for guests to come in and enjoy the arena. In December, they hosted a holiday movie night for season ticketholders.

Public tours, which have been requested by the community, will commence this summer, Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez harkened to pre-Golden 1 Center days when the downtown plaza on which it was built saw close to 10-million people walking through the area every year. When the retail around Golden 1 Center opens later this year, the connection between the downtown plaza and Old Sacramento will be re-established, and so will the traffic, he hopes.

“But I can’t tell you how many people are sitting out on the plaza reading books on a Tuesday afternoon under the trees on the benches even now,” Rodriguez said. “People are enjoying video boards, living walls and our attractions outside. Golden 1 Center is becoming this communal campfire location in the middle of downtown Sacramento. You experience the energy around you. That was Vivek’s (Ranadive, Kings owner) vision from day one, to create a communal area where people come together and enjoy life experiences.”

Even in promoting the one-millionth guest, the Kings have emphasized the venue’s impact on the community.

Per the press release: Yesterday (March 29), the Sacramento Kings celebrated the one-millionth guest to pass through Golden 1 Center’s doors. The most technologically advanced and sustainable arena in the world has profoundly impacted the Sacramento region. In the six months the facility has been open, Golden 1 Center has become the city’s new home for world-class entertainment with 18 concerts, 26 family shows, 20 sporting events like WWE, UFC, PBR, the First and Second Round of March Madness and championship high school basketball, as well as 40 Sacramento Kings games and many more private and community-based events.

The arena’s innovative farm-to-court food program delivered over 62,000 slices of pizza, 35,000 nachos, and 40,000 burgers with ingredients sourced from producers within 150 miles of the arena. [Legends is concessionaire.]

With the fastest internet connection in sports, Golden 1 Center’s networks have processed 931 terabytes of data in six months – the equivalent of 18,625 Blu-Ray discs.

And as the greenest arena in the world, the 3,000+ photovoltaic panels on the roof have generated over 280,000 kWh of power for the arena. The remainder of the building’s energy is generated at a solar farm 40 miles away. That’s enough kWh for a typical electric vehicle to drive over 800,000 miles – nearly 300 cross-country trips.

The one-millionth guest was met at the door by the Sacramento Kings dancers, the social media team and the digital team, said James Rasmussen, director of arena programming. Footage was screened on the scoreboard with special graphics congratulating the one-millionth guest.

“Throughout the night, we presented the one-millionth guest and his family with gifts and season-tickets for next year,” Rasmussen said. “Sales have been incredible for Kings' games and concerts, but we didn’t anticipate selling out as many shows as we have. The market is supporting the building.” Rasmussen said that market stretches to the Oregon and Nevada borders, especially for the big concerts.

Rodriguez also celebrated the size of the market and the fact that Golden 1 Center has hosted a very diverse and universally successful number of events. “I don’t think this is a honeymoon,” Rodriguez said. “People are surprised at how supportive and committed this community is to making this a success. Since Paul McCartney opened it on Oct. 4, it’s been night after night of pure excitement. I feel that passionate about what this building has meant to this community.”

Golden 1 Center will finish its first fiscal year in June with close to 185 events. “Hopefully by the first true calendar year, we’ll be way over 200 events, not counting meetings and corporate events,” Rodriguez said. “We’ve just been really, really lucky.”

Going forward, the mantra is to keep improving, never become complacent. Rodriguez is even looking forward to the opening in 2019  of Chase Center in San Francisco, new home to the Golden State Warriors, because that will give the market multiple opportunities to see big shows. “I see it as two separate markets, an enhancement to promoters and routers who can have two great stops and great crowds in Northern California. Fans will see favorite artists twice, maybe three times or four times.”

“I joke with people that you haven’t seen anything yet,” Rodriguez said. “Sacramento is the next great American city.”


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Dallas Final Four A Compelling Win
 
Posted: 5 Apr 2017, 2:00 pm

From the excitement of the game to the support from fans, to the operations expertise of American Airlines Center (Dallas0 staff, the 2017 Women’s Final Four was the kind of success that’s making Dave Brown, GM, very optimistic.

With the National Collegiate Athletic Association scheduled to announce championships site selections for 2018-2022 based upon bids received from across the country, Tuesday, April 18, American Airlines Center feels its case is stronger with its first Women’s Final Four complete.

“Everything came together,” Brown said. “The games were compelling and exciting.”

Ken Kuhl, venue assistant GM, said the 2017 Women’s Final Four held at the American Airlines Center drew 38,431 fans for an average of 19,216 per session.  It was the 12th highest attendance count in the history of the 36-year old NCAA championship event.

The April 2 national championship game between the University of South Carolina and Mississippi State University was played before a sellout crowd of 19,229 fans, the first sellout since the 2014 Women’s Final Four in Nashville, Tenn..

04-05-17_Championship_wings_vs_dogs_648x418.jpg
Even without alcohol sales, per caps for food and beverage, provided by Levy Restaurants, were strong. Per caps were $15.91 the first day and $11.40 the second day, for an average of $13.63, according to Brown.

Levy provided several souvenir and specialty items which were visually tempting in concourse displays. “We wanted to make it a special memory,” Brown said.


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Hot Tickets for April 5, 2017
 
Posted: 5 Apr 2017, 1:00 pm

Justin Bieber, wearing his lucky Tupac Shakur shirt, ANZ Stadium, Sydney, Australia.

Justin Bieber took over our Hot Tickets chart this week with four international shows grossing over $21 million with 205,000 fans in attendance. The 22-year-old, Canadian-born singer kicked off his “Purpose” world tour on March 9, 2016, at KeyArena at Seattle (Wash.) Center and will wrap up on Sept. 6, 2017, at Rogers Center, Toronto. As an addition to his world tour, Beiber will be performing in stadiums across North America in the summer of 2017 starting on July 29, where Beliebers will be able to catch him at AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas. During this leg of his tour, Bieber will be donating $1 from every ticket sold to Pencils of Promise, a charity that is close to his heart.

The Backstreet Boys have taken over the Las Vegas Strip and landed on our Hot Tickets chart twice this week with their new “Backstreet Boys: Larger Than Life” residency at The Axis at Planet Hollywood. The Caesars Entertainment and Live Nation-promoted residency ranked with a combined six shows, grossed over $3.6 million and entertained over 28,000 fans proving the best-selling boy band of all time is still among pop’s most influential performers. The 10-week residency continues on April 12-15.

HOT TICKETS is a weekly summary of the top acts and ticket sales as reported to VT PULSE. Following are the top 20 concerts and events, the top 5 in each seating capacity category, which took place between March 7-April 4.

15,001 or More Seats

10,001-15,000 Seats

5,001-10,000 Seats

5,000 or Fewer Seats

1) Eric Clapton
Gross Sales: $7,454,614; Venue: Madison Square Garden, New York; Attendance: 30,826; Ticket Range: $494-$69; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: March 19-20; No. of Shows: 2

2) Justin Bieber
Gross Sales: $6,224,570; Venue: ANZ Stadium, Sydney; Attendance: 65,836; Ticket Range: $124.41-$51.79; Promoter: AEG Presents, Concerts West, Frontier Touring; Dates: March 15; No. of Shows: 1

3) Justin Bieber
Gross Sales: $5,835,713; Venue: Etihad Stadium, Melbourne, Australia; Attendance: 54,821; Ticket Range: $121.36-$51.01; Promoter: AEG Presents, Concerts West; Dates: March 10; No. of Shows: 1

4) Justin Bieber
Gross Sales: $4,904,658; Venue: Estadio Nacional Julio Martinez Pradanos, Santiago, Chile; Attendance: 43,000; Ticket Range: $339.37-$54.30; Promoter: AEG Presents, Concerts West, DG Medios; Dates: March 23; No. of Shows: 1

5) Justin Bieber
Gross Sales: $4,180,156; Venue: Suncorp Stadium, Milton, Australia; Attendance: 41,000; Ticket Range: $125.65-$51.01; Promoter: AEG Presents, Concerts West, Frontier Touring ; Dates: March 13; No. of Shows: 1

1) Ed Sheeran
Gross Sales: $1,155,960; Venue: Hallenstadion, Zurich; Attendance: 14,000; Ticket Range: $90-$70; Promoter: All Blues; Dates: March 19; No. of Shows: 1

2) Dixie Chicks
Gross Sales: $1,065,999; Venue: Brisbane (Australia) Entertainment Centre; Attendance: 9,252; Ticket Range: $151.30-$75.61; Promoter: Chugg Entertainment, Rob Potts Entertainment Edge; Dates: March 25; No. of Shows: 1

3) Drake
Gross Sales: $1,038,400; Venue: Mercedes-Benz Arena, Berlin; Attendance: 13,747; Ticket Range: $91.42-$64.53; Promoter: Live Nation Germany; Dates: March 9; No. of Shows: 1

4) Red Hot Chili Peppers
Gross Sales: $1,029,938; Venue: Valley View Casino Center, San Diego; Attendance: 10,396; Ticket Range: $103-$53; Promoter: Frank Productions, AEG Presents; Dates: March 21; No. of Shows: 1

5) Florida Georgia Line
Gross Sales: $697,897; Venue: Atlantic City (N.J.) Boardwalk Hall; Attendance: 11,515; Ticket Range: $75-$29.75; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: March 17; No. of Shows: 1

1) Bruno Mars
Gross Sales: $2,158,850; Venue: Park Theater at Monte Carlo, Las Vegas; Attendance: 10,466; Ticket Range: $500-$99.50; Promoter: Live Nation, MGM Resorts; Dates: March 11-12; No. of Shows: 2

2) Britney Spears
Gross Sales: $1,890,756; Venue: The Axis at Planet Hollywood, Las Vegas; Attendance: 12,590; Ticket Range: $495-$54; Promoter: Caesars Entertainment; Dates: March 22-25; No. of Shows: 3

3) Backstreet Boys
Gross Sales: $1,872,052; Venue: The Axis at Planet Hollywood, Las Vegas; Attendance: 14,506; Ticket Range: $294-$34; Promoter: Caesars Entertainment, Live Nation; Dates: March 15-18; No. of Shows: 3

4) Backstreet Boys
Gross Sales: $1,760,650; Venue: The Axis at Planet Hollywood, Las Vegas; Attendance: 13,847; Ticket Range: $294-$34; Promoter: Caesars Entertainment, Live Nation; Dates: March 8-11; No. of Shows: 3

5) West Coast Conference
Gross Sales: $1,361,944; Venue: Orleans Arena, Las Vegas; Attendance: 65,123; Ticket Range: $650-$135; Promoter: West Coast Conference; Dates: March 2-7; No. of Shows: 10

1) Matilda
Gross Sales: $1,327,719; Venue: Orpheum Theatre, Minneapolis; Attendance: 18,939; Ticket Range: $141-$21; Promoter: Hennepin Theatre Trust, Broadway Across America; Dates: March 28-April 2; No. of Shows: 8

2) The Bodyguard
Gross Sales: $1,259,071; Venue: Fox Theatre, Atlanta; Attendance: 20,184; Ticket Range: $125-$30; Promoter: Broadway Across America; Dates: March 28-April 2; No. of Shows: 8

3) The Bodyguard
Gross Sales: $1,068,896; Venue: Durham (N.C.) Performing Arts Center; Attendance: 19,798; Ticket Range: $166-$32; Promoter: PFM, Nederlander Presentations (New York); Dates: March 14-19; No. of Shows: 8

4) Annie
Gross Sales: $1,006,681; Venue: Fox Theatre, Atlanta; Attendance: 15,419; Ticket Range: $125-$30; Promoter: Broadway Across America; Dates: March 17-19; No. of Shows: 5

5) Jersey Boys
Gross Sales: $723,751; Venue: Des Moines (Iowa) Civic Center; Attendance: 11,514; Ticket Range: $99.50-$31.50; Promoter: In-house; Dates: March 14-19; No. of Shows: 8

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

 


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Convention centers design for a sense of place
 
Posted: 4 Apr 2017, 8:00 pm

Many convention centers are striving to reflect and showcase their locations.

More...


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Garth to Bookend 2018 Houston Rodeo
 
Posted: 4 Apr 2017, 7:20 pm

Discovery and agriculture are key to even the mammoth Houston Rodeo & Livestock Show.

This year’s Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo saw record attendance, with 2.611-million visitors, an increase of six percent from 2016 and bypassing 2013’s all-time record of 2.506 attendees. The event kicked off with a three-day barbecue on March 2 and the 20 show days ran till March 26.

“We had a fantastic year, shattering our 2013 show, which not only had an extra day, but included a George Strait concert,” said Joel Cowley, the show’s president and CEO.

Next year’s show dates are Feb. 27-March 18, with Garth Brooks performing at the opening and closing of the event, big news that was announced during the 2017 event by the number one fair in North America.

“One big change [in 2018] will be the stadium’s new performance stage, which will be larger and situated closer to the audience,” said Cowley.

Rodeo ticket sales in 2017, which totaled 1.370 million, also were up 1.8 percent over 2016’s 1.345 million, falling just shy of the 2015 record, which was 1.377 million.

chainsmokers300.jpgThe Chainsmokers turned NRG Stadium into the 'world's largest nightclub.'

There were a total of 20 concerts associated with each rodeo performance. The top seller for 2017, with attendance at 75,557, was Go Tejano Day, which featured Mexico’s Grupo Siggno and Banda El Recodo. Luke Bryan ranked 17th  in terms of record attendance, with a crowd of 75,033. Also, Willie Nelson’s performance was a sellout.

“This year’s concert lineup was our most diverse ever, with 13 nights of country that included Alan Jackson, Brad Paisley, Dierks Bentley and Florida Georgia Line, to performers like Blink 182, Alicia Keys, ZZ Top and Demi Lovato,” said Cowley. “The Chainsmokers turned the place into the world’s largest nightclub. We weren’t sure if EDM would work, but they got the crowd up and dancing.”

On-site ticket sales from the carnival, Ray Cammack Shows, which included the three days of the barbecue and 20 show days, were up 9.3 percent. Cowley attributes this to the weather.

The show’s contract food vendors reported sales growth of 6.5 percent compared with 2016, proportionate to the attendance increase.

“Not only did we put on the best product ever, but we had one of the best weather years we’ve had in a while,” he said. “There were only three days where weather was a factor at all, and that shows in the carnival sales.”

Laveen, Ariz.-based Ray Cammack Shows’ vendors reported a 2.4-percent sales increase. Its newest attraction was the La Grande XL Ferris wheel, which was unveiled for the first time at the show and includes 500,000 LED lights.

RCSwheel300.jpgLa Grande XL Ferris Wheel on Ray Cammack Shows debuted in Houston.

“This year’s carnival had a whole different look, with new game concepts, LED lights and a custom-made canvas,” said Charlene Leavitt, COO of Ray Cammack Shows. “In addition to the new XL Ferris Wheel, we had two other new rides—the Endeavor and Puppy Roll. We rode the most people at one event than ever before, with 2.5 million on the midway, and broke records with food, games and rides.” A total of 86 semis full of toys were won at this year’s show.

The most popular food items were turkey legs and anything fried. A new offering was Nitro Popcorn, which causes vapor to come out of the nose.

Another new addition was the mare and foal presentation during the rodeo performance, which highlighted animal athletes, including a 20-year-old mare, her daughter, granddaughter and great granddaughter foal that was born three days into the show.

“We had a social media contest to name the foal, which 2,365 people participated in,” said Cowley. “The winning name was Houston’s Honey.”

As in the past, the event also offered contests that didn’t involve animals, including a robotics competition that included Lego robots performing agricultural tasks; floriculture; wild life habitats; and food challenges.

In addition, Cowley said this year’s show benefited from extra capital investments that focused on improving the attendee experience, such as additional benches. Ray Cammack Shows provided additional picnic tables on the midway.

Portable restroom trailers replaced traditional portapotties beginning last year and returned for this year’s show.

“This is a $500,000 capital improvement we added last year, and it really makes a difference,” said Cowley. “These are air conditioned with running water and soap, and easier to keep clean and service, so we feel this investment has paid off.”

For the first time, Wi-Fi was utilized to allow rodeo attendees to send photos of themselves on the grounds that were displayed on dedicated filler screens in NRG Stadium’s overhead console.

Social media was tapped to engage rodeo fans in picking the People’s Choice Champion Steer from the 32,000 livestock entrees, which differed from the 2017 Grand Champion Steer chosen by judges.

“What sets us apart is our more than 33,000 volunteers and 107 committees that handle everything from ticket scanning to providing assistance to attendees and safety,” said Cowley. “These are normally jobs we’d pay people to do, but volunteers give freely of their time. You can pay people to do a job, but you can’t pay them to care.”

This year’s top show sponsors included NRG, Ford, Miller Lite, Coca-Cola and Mattress Firm. Baylor College of Medicine provided a chuckwagon which was new, and General Mills sponsored the petting zoo.

Admission to this year’s fair was $10 for ground access for adults and $5 for children 3-12. The show offered Value Wednesday, where children 12 and under and seniors had free admission and adults were $12. On Wednesdays, stadium upper level tickets were reduced from $18 to $10. Parking on the grounds, which is operated by the county, cost $20.


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Congratulations 2017 Excellence in Operations & Engineering Award recipients!
 
Posted: 3 Apr 2017, 6:30 pm

Congratulations to the 2017 Excellence in Operations & Engineering Award recipients!

Congratulations to these two professionals who have gone above and beyond in solving problems, creating solutions, instituting a new program, innovating with a new idea or leading in a highly creative way to benefit your venue in these areas.

The winners were selected by the VOS Board of Advisors, the Venue Solutions Group team and the Venues Today team. The winners, one operations and one engineering professional, will be highlighted in the April issue of Venues Today magazine.

The inaugural award winners will be honored at the Venue Operations Summit in Nashville, Tenn., April 30-May 2, 2017.  Learn more at venueoperationssummit.com.

Matt Balk - VOS Excellence in Operations Award winner
Operations Manager
Tacoma Venues & Events at the City of Tacoma, WA


Matt joined Tacoma Venues & Events (formerly Public Assembly Facilities) just over 3 years ago. He arrived to an operations team decimated by recent layoffs, a city budget $60m in the red, and a clear mandate for change. Matt did not shy away from the challenge.

Matt worked creatively with the local utility and leveraged very limited funds to complete several key capital projects, including the installation of energy and cost-saving LED lighting in the Convention Center Exhibition Hall, wireless lighting controls and improvements in sound and rigging. He has nurtured a 33-year-old stadium and successfully secured funding for over $21 million in key improvements for the Tacoma Dome. In spite of its age and considerable deferred maintenance issues at the Dome, through the diligence of Matt and his operations team, customer and client satisfaction remains high. Simple, cost-effective aesthetic changes (all completed with in-house labor) allowed Matt and team to transform the back of house entrance and hallway area and ensure a more positive experience for production staff, artists, coaches and athletes. Matt facilitated the installation of a massive DAS/WIFI infrastructure upgrade in both the Dome and the Convention Center and coordinated the selection, installation, and operations of walk-through metal detectors at all Dome entrances. At the 13-year-old Convention Center, clients constantly marvel at the pristine condition of the venue and the exceptional service provided by maintenance workers and custodians.

If the definition of a true leader is someone who offers hope and vision, Matt fits the bill. His consistent approach, passion for fairness and excellence and zero tolerance for complacency has created nothing short of a 180-degree shift in the operations department. In his first year, the number of grievances filed plummeted by 95%, and since then he has been able to deliver terms favorable to both the labor unit and the city in several rounds of contract negotiations. Matt revitalized the safety committee and directed resources to address safety issues in a timely fashion. Matt infused new energy into his workforce. He patiently and thoughtfully placed staff in areas where they could be most successful. Through clear communication and respect for his experienced team, now joined by carefully selected new team members, Matt initiated an obvious positive culture shift in a relatively short period of time. Everyone is happier to come to work and contribute to the ongoing improvements and review of existing processes.


Jan Szabat - VOS Excellence in Engineering Award winner
Director of Engineering Services
Shaw Conference Centre (Edmonton, Alberta Canada)


For the past 30 years, Jan Szabat has played an instrumental role in overseeing the maintenance of one of Edmonton’s most iconic assets. Leading the engineering operations for a 33-year-old facility is not easy, but through Jan’s leadership the Shaw Conference Centre has maintained its position as a premier meetings and events destination in Canada.

Throughout the last year, Jan has overseen numerous major projects in the facility. These include flood mitigation and major bathroom renovations to the $12.5-million replacement and modernization of six escalators. Moreover, he has overseen the development of sustainable permaculture on the grounds, including the creation of an Indigenous Medicine Wheel Garden on the rooftop of our Riverview Room.

And that’s not all. With the entire atrium roof of the 150,000-square-foot facility covered in glass, Jan has also developed plans to phase in the replacement of the glass next year, a multi-million-dollar project that could have a major impact on operations. He also has had his plans approved to replace all the carpet on our stairs, and will oversee the modernization of the large canopy outside the main entrance to our facility.  This is all in addition to his day-to-day responsibilities of making sure the building is running efficiently so we can best serve our guests.

Jan’s commitment to sustainability has played a major role in allowing the Shaw Conference Centre to receive BOMA Best certification, and be the first conference venue in Canada to receive Green Key Level 5 certification. He has also helped lead efforts for the facility to become APEX/ASTM certified, which we are currently being evaluated for.

The above is only a small snapshot of what Jan has done over the past year. His dedication and leadership over the past 30 years at Edmonton’s convention centre is unapparelled within our industry. I strongly believe he deserves this industry recognition.

************************************************************************************************************************

Contact an account executive to reserve a congratulatory ad!


Rich DiGiacomo, Northeast, Western U.S., & International
310.429.3678  rich@venuestoday.com

Jim McNeil, Texas, Southeastern & Midwest U.S.
207.699.3343  jim@venuestoday.com


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TULSA LEVERAGES TIME AND A BIG TRAVEL BUDGET
 
Posted: 1 Apr 2017, 6:30 pm

Madonna, Iron Maiden, Billy Joel and Coldplay didn’t plan on routing to BOK Center, Tulsa, Okla. In fact, they all said ‘no thanks’ to repeated requests to play at the venue.
But Jeff Nickler, arena GM for SMG, refused to take ‘no’ for an answer. “Our 2016 season was made up of a lot of acts that never played the building or even the  market,” said Nickler. “We worked really aggressively behind the scenes to get some of the shows to come here.”
“We’re in the kind of market where we just can’t sit around waiting for the phone to ring,” he said. “The artists aren’t banging down the doors to come to Tulsa to perform. We think long term. We lay the groundwork years in advance for many of the shows we book.”
Nickler vigorously chased Iron Maiden for years. “We were one of only nine U.S. cities on the Book of Souls tour,” said Nickler proudly. “We’re a strong rock market and it took a lot of convincing them to come here so we could prove it.”
Ditto for Coldplay and Piano Man Billy Joel, but Madonna took the longest, over five years of enticements. “We cultivated the relationship with Gerry Barad (COO, Live Nation Global Touring) for five years-plus and finally got Madonna to make her first-ever visit to the state of Oklahoma. It took time and effort, but it was worth everything we went through to land her.”
The key ingredients to success are time and a big travel budget. “This industry is based on relationships,” he said. “The amount of annual travel and budget we allocate to developing relationships is huge, in the six figures, and we’ve seen it really pay off.” Nickler said that it takes “dozens of trips to manage and cultivate these relationships.” — Brad Weissberg


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BON JOVI’S BLOCKBUSTER TOUR WRAPS FIRST LEG
 
Posted: 1 Apr 2017, 6:00 pm

On April 14, Bon Jovi will wrap the 30-date first leg of the band’s This House is Not For Sale tour at Denver’s Pepsi Center, in many ways a tour of “firsts” for the venerable Jersey band.
This was Bon Jovi’s first tour launched without founding guitarist Richie Sambora, who left the band early in the 2013 Because We Can trek (Phil X and producer John Shanks take on axe duties this time out). It is the first tour with legendary manager Irving Azoff overseeing management duties (the band had been managed in-house through Bon Jovi Management). This is the first tour under a newly-restructured label deal for Bon Jovi, continuing a 34-year relationship with Universal Music Group (the band’s 13th album “This House Is Not For Sale” is on the Island imprint). Tour manager Thomas McAndrews is on his first tour with the band (former TM Scott Casey is now with U2). And, finally, the 2017 run is Bon Jovi’s first tour with Live Nation as the global promoter (each of the four preceding tours were promoted globally by AEG Live).
Of course, many aspects of Bon Jovi remain consistent, first and foremost continuing to blow out arenas, grossing $51,738,625 from 479,572 tickets sold on the first leg, according to the tour. Live Nation’s Ryan McElrath, senior VP of domestic touring, running point on the Bon Jovi tour, said the band has “never been stronger in the marketplace,” citing “incredible sellout business in markets like San Diego and Sacramento, where Bon Jovi hasn’t been in years. The major markets are smashes, as they have always been for Bon Jovi.”
Bon Jovi is still represented by Rob Light, managing partner at Creative Artists Agency, and tour director Paul Korzilius, who started with Bon Jovi on Feb. 1, 1987, still oversees touring. Most importantly, Bon Jovi is still led by front man Jon Bon Jovi, the driving force of the band both creatively and on the business front.
Ultimately, it is Bon Jovi the bandleader who signs off on most all of the critical decisions that led to this tour of “firsts.” That includes playing markets they’ve not played in years, like Legacy Arena at BJCC in Birmingham, Ala. Bon Jovi told Venues Today that going into some of these markets was his idea, including Birmingham, where the band hadn’t played since 1989.  “I know there are people down there, I know the country guys are going down there,” he recalled telling Korzilius, whom Bon Jovi credits with the decision to launch the tour in Greenville, S.C., at the Bon Secours Wellness Arena on Feb. 8. “The last tour started in a blizzard in Connecticut, so we said, ‘not this time, let’s stay South.’”
Korzilius agreed that sometimes markets like Birmingham can get “looked over” on major tours, and that city fit well in the routing scheme this year. “We had a show in Tampa (Amalie Arena, Feb. 14), and our next show was in Nashville (Feb. 18). Birmingham was right along the way, so no reason not to go back, and we had great results there,” he said. “The great thing was, the fans were always there. You just have to get to them.”
They got to them in Birmingham — 14,130 of them, to be exact, a sellout. “The crowd embraced Bon Jovi when returning to Birmingham after 28 years,” said an enthusiastic Susette Hunter, director of sales at the arena, who added that Bon Jovi “set fire to the stage in a ‘Blaze of Glory’ as the crowd danced and sang along.”
Playing these “places we hadn’t been to in quite a while” proved two points, Bon Jovi said: “How deep the roots of the band are, nationwide or worldwide; and also that people will come out to see live music if it’s presented in a venue that’s close enough that it makes sense for them. For a big band saying ‘I’m not going to Alabama,’ there are enough folks in Alabama that would want to see a U2 show.”
Live Nation’s McElrath points to Bon Jovi’s “multi-generational” fan base, which allows the promoter to make use of a wide array of promotional tactics. “From a marketing standpoint, we use all of our tools, from traditional radio to digital media,” McElrath said. “Bon Jovi fans are incredibly passionate, engaged and on their feet for every song.”

NEW ARENAS, OLD FRIENDS
Several new arenas have opened in North America since the band last toured, so buildings like T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas (Feb. 25) and Golden 1 Center in Sacramento (Feb. 28) hosted the band for the first time. Of course, many arenas on the route have been rocked many times by Bon Jovi. “Some of the old buildings are like old friends, but they get new shoes,” Bon Jovi said. “Like Dallas.  American Airlines Center is different backstage, but it’s just a great building, with a lot of [development] around it now. Things like that are very different but, generally speaking, the buildings have been great.”
Bon Jovi set a concert attendance record at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville with 18,514 in the house. That topped the previous record set two years ago by Eric Church, who packed in 18,411 to his Outsiders tour date on Jan. 10, 2015. “To be able to still set attendance records like in Nashville, where everyone and their mother always plays, is reassuring,” Bon Jovi admitted, noting that there was plenty of meat left on the bone in several markets. “To know we could have done four or five, six Gardens, four nights in Toronto, easily, and multiples in Philly, and didn’t even put the Bostons and Washingtons on the schedule yet, is very, very nice.”
A sold out crowd of 18,500 turned out for the band’s March 31 appearance at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, which Comcast Spectator President John Page called a “second home” for the band. “We continue to do great business here at Wells Fargo Center every time the band comes through,” Page said. “We’re grateful to Jon and the band, as well as Paul Korzilius and his team, for another sell out. We hope to get them back again soon.”
Playing the Forum on March 8 was another special gig on this tour for Bon Jovi. “My memories of the Forum are so deep that when we played there back in the ‘80s on the New Jersey record, we had the No. 1 album, the No. 1 single, [and] I went back to the St. James Club—which it was called at the time (now the Sunset Tower Hotel)—on the Sunset Strip, and looked out my window at a huge billboard of the five of us,” he recalled. “I said to my girlfriend next to me in the bed, ‘let’s get married, now.’ She said, ‘what are you, nuts?’ Twenty-eight years later, she’s still my wife. That’s the Forum I remember. So to go back there now, after all these years, was a treat, to see what they did to that old building and that landmark, turning it into an incredible-sounding experience. I hope to go back sometime and see the rest of it.”
Armed with the renewed vigor that comes with a well-received new record (“This House Is Not for Sale” debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard album chart, the band’s fourth consecutive to top the chart), Bon Jovi debuted the songs with a series of small venue live “listening parties” last fall. As McElrath pointed out, “a No. 1 record is great way to kick off a touring cycle.”
A whopping six songs from the new album appear in the 2017 tour set list, as Bon Jovi refuses to become simply a nostalgia act. One would be hard-pressed to find another 30-year touring band playing 25 percent newly-released material, at least, “not my peer group,” Bon Jovi said, adding that many of the bands that broke alongside Bon Jovi in the mid-‘80s are out in classic rock packages, playing strictly their hits from the era. “I’ll walk away before that day comes. I said it when I was 25, I’ll say it again now: I ain’t doing it.”


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ESPORTS IS ALREADY A SPORTS CAREER
 
Posted: 1 Apr 2017, 6:00 pm

REPORTING FROM COLUMBIA, S.C. — Motivations behind National Basketball Association (NBA) owners’ investment in esports range from seeing future crossover potential in the fanbase to increasing value for existing team sponsors to attracting the best of the next generation of front office employees. It’s not as much about how it will be directly monetized as it is about how many ways it can be monetized.
Bill Sutton, Bill Sutton Associates and a founding director at University of South Florida, Tampa, cited Philadelphia 76ers CEO Scott O’Neil, one of the first to invest in an eSports team, as one who is “creating this entire portfolio approach….Other teams I’ve worked with are throwing money at it. Now they’re putting analytics teams on it and growing numbers. I don’t see the cash flow slowing down anytime soon – this is the soup du jour, where everyone wants to be right now.”
Sutton was participating in a panel on the explosion of eSports during the 20th annual Sport, Entertainment and Venues Tomorrow conference (SEVT) here March 22-24. SEVT is produced by the University of South Carolina and Venues Today.
Steve “Ryu” Rattacasa, owner/manager, Selfless Gaming, advised there is a huge future in eSports management, just as data analytics were touted in another session as a career opportunity.
But eSports is an immersive career, Sutton warned. His son left Google to work for Riot Games, which publishes League of Legends, and the interview process was eight months. He had to become proficient in the game to join the company because the game is the company culture, Sutton said.
Rattacasa started his career as a gamer. Now he represents players and teams. He finds the influx of external money from traditional sports organizations a challenge, but he’s fine with being Triple A. “We’re the small guy now. Our teams are very good but we don’t have millions of dollars. So what we’ve done is taken the strength of being knowledgeable of games, players and the environment and built players up with traditional marketing, developed their personal brand and then flipped them to traditional sports owners like Shaquille O’Neal.”
It’s the Wild West and ripe with opportunity for sports entrepreneurs, said Kenny Sugishita, ELEAGUE coordinator for WME/IMG. “We focus on treating the players as well as possible so they want to come back. We’re the first tournament host to always put some portion of our season on TV.” The challenge is that it’s extremely difficult to organize tournaments because the players are always traveling, the fans are spread out and sponsors have different needs, he said.
As a venue manager, Michael Enoch, Sandy Springs (Ga.) Performing Arts Center, sees huge potential for building an eSports business in his theater, just as he did at Mercedes-Benz Arena, Shanghai, China, where he worked for AEG. In Shanghai, League of Legends tournaments drew 9,000-12,000 people, were priced $70-$150, and ran three days, starting with a concert on Friday and gaming Saturday and Sunday. The venue needs to have enough bandwidth, he said. And it’s a challenge to figure out how to monetize merchandise/software sales. “It’s hard to calculate what they’re selling,” Enoch said.
Michael Farris, Aspire Group, works  with collegiate-focused organizations like the Collegiate Starleague, where participants play for scholarships, and University League of Legends, a string of clubs on campuses. “College kids are interested in going to a live event and will pay $50-$70 to see eSports teams. They are not willing to travel; but they will go to something in their market,” Farris said
The Sixers are setting up eSports camps and clinics, all the things one would see in basketball, Sutton said. “The sky is the limit. This might be like Apple stock in 1980. People who are buying this have no idea what to do with it.” Riot’s League of Legends grosses $1.7 billion a year and it’s free to play and has no sponsorships right now, Sutton added.
The new generation of fans wants to experience, not just watch. Sutton sees the merger of eSports and Virtual Reality as the future.
The new generation of fans that reject Dish Network or Comcast, “we call them cord cutters,” are giving way to the “cord nevers,” Rattacasa said. The ‘cord nevers’ are never going to watch a basketball game. “They don’t have that interest.”


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MIDWEST MEANS BUSINESS
 
Posted: 1 Apr 2017, 6:00 pm

Don’t think of the Midwest as flyover states; there’s serious money to be made between the coasts. Cumulatively, the venues on Venues Today’s 2016 Midwest Top Stops charts were up a solid seven percent over 2015, reporting concert and event grosses of $368 million, up from $321 million. In-demand acts, higher ticket prices, the improving economy and good fortune in routing account for the increase, according to the venue operators interviewed.
The $113-billion U.S. Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, opened in July 2016. Since then, it’s hosted 168 million guests. “It’s an amazing building and has performed extremely well,” said Patrick Talty, GM. “Building openings are tough, but we’ve done a great job of hitting the ground running and meeting high expectations. In fact, we’ve been more successful than we predicted.”
The first event was a sold-out Chelsea vs. AC Milan international soccer game. “We blew it out of the water,” said Talty. “This was quickly followed by back-to-back Luke Bryan and Metallica concerts.” Vikings football followed, then three Monster Truck shows, a Supercross — plus another 400 events.
Tickets ranged from $25-$200 and Talty said the venue easily met its $6.75 million net operating guarantee. Per caps were around $2 for college baseball and went as high as $29 for the bigger events.
Food and beverage (F&B) is provided by Aramark. “The catering operation is exceeding all expectations,” he said. “Minneapolis is a foodie scene, and Aramark did a great job of finding local flavors the people love. We have craft beers, celebrity chefs and Aramark went out their way to include minority suppliers such as T-Rex cookies and Lola’s Wings.”
Security is provided by Monterrey Security. “We have a strong integrated command center with a lot of technology in place,” he said. “We’re constantly looking at how to make a better fan experience and keep everyone as safe as we can.”
Talty’s prognosis for the rest of 2017 is equally sunny. “X-Games are coming this summer, Guns N’ Roses, Coldplay, and Justin Bieber are booked, and there’s a little thing called Super Bowl 52 headed to U.S. Bank Stadium in February 2018. The world will be watching,” said Talty.
Talty said he’s focused on fan engagement and that every venue in the world needs to be just as focused. “Without fans coming, we’d have an empty building,” he said.
  “We had a really good year,” said Jack Larson, Xcel Energy Center, St. Paul, Minn., VP and GM, who said the venue was up 10 percent in revenue in 2016. He attributes the bump to the success of the Minnesota Wild hockey team, the healthy number of concerts they put on and crowd-pleasing state tournaments.
  “We opened the Adele tour in July,” said Larson, “We also did the sell-out Prince tribute, Bruce Springsteen, Mumford and Sons, Def Leppard, and Blake Shelton. The Earth, Wind & Fire show was a big success.” Tickets ranged from $30-$250.
  Larson also praised the performance of his family shows, Disney On Ice and The World’s Toughest Rodeo.
Larson said that it was “a really good year” for F&B, which is provided by Levy Restaurants. “We changed a couple of clubs into all-inclusive areas that have been very well accepted,” he said. “We did chef-takeovers in our Jack Daniels Old No. 7 Club, and we were up around 10 percent in F&B as well last year.”
  Improvements included a new hospitality area/bar/restaurant called The Reserve on the suite level. “We do special promotions that bring people up there,” he said. Xcel Center is evaluating what they will remodel next. “We’re 16 years old and are looking at what we can do to enhance the fan experience.”
  BOK Center, Tulsa, Okla., was named ‘Arena Of The Year’ by the International Entertainment Buyers Association (IEBA) in 2016 and winning the award was the highlight of the year for GM Jeff Nickler. “We’ve been nominated every year since we opened in 2008, and to finally take the award home was a great acknowledgement of the 100-plus staff we have here who make the magic happen everyday.”
Tulsa has become a strong rock market, said Nickler. Big shows included Iron Maiden, Coldplay, Billy Joel, Justin Bieber, and Carrie Underwood. BOK Center was the highest-grossing date on the Pentatonix tour. “A lot of big shows across all genres of music really helped us in 2016.”
  Nickler said he saw higher ticket prices across the board in 2016. The ticket price range was $25 to $250. “The average ticket prices were well over $100, which is unusual for our market,” he said.
  A redesign to the concession stands in 2015 brought a whopping 75-percent-increase in F&B in 2016. BOK Center also spent $250,000 upgrading security with new magnetometers, adding additional security cameras and additional security protocols. “A lot of this wasn’t in place until this year,” he said. “The conversation really was security here this year and industry wide.”
  2017 is looking just as prosperous for BOK Center. “We’re already trending way ahead of 2016,” he said.
  “We celebrated our 20th Anniversary in 2016, and it was a big year,” said Richard MacKeigan, SMG regional GM and regional booking director, Van Andel Arena, DeVos Place and DeVos Performance Hall, Grand Rapids, Mich. “We hosted 31 concerts in 2016, the highest number of concerts in 18 years and a 30 percent increase over the average number of concerts the arena has hosted each year throughout its 20 years. The success of these bookings has allowed the SMG-managed venues in Grand Rapids to enjoy their best fiscal performance in history.”
  To commemorate their 20th Anniversary, they hosted the “I Love the 90s” tour. “We carried the 90s theme throughout the whole night, including 1990s concessions prices, which were very well received by our guests,” said MacKeigan.
  Hot shows were Garth Brooks, who set the venue record for most tickets sold for a single engagement with six shows over four days; Paul McCartney, who broke the venue record for highest grossing ticket sales for a single event and Kanye West, who brought in the heaviest production the venue has ever seen, weighing in at over 200,000 pounds.
  MacKeigan said the 2016 Grand Rapids market “has been responding very well the last 18 months or so. Shows that should do well are doing great and shows that are back annually or every other year are seeing double digit increases over their last play.” He sees more traction on larger acts that, at first look, may appear too large for his market but “are taking a chance and seeing success.”
  Ticket prices ranged from $12 for family shows up to $253 on the high end for concerts. Quite a few events also offered VIP packages. The complex’s 2016 budget was $11 million.
  The arena’s concessionaire, Savor…catering by SMG, enjoyed their best year in sales in 2016 due in part to the 20th anniversary and the ongoing success of the Grand Rapids Griffins hockey team.
  Some of the new items introduced to concessions were mac and cheese with toppings, a pizza sub and the Grub Tub, which is a cup with a bowl-like attachment that allows patrons to hold a meal and drink in the same hand. They also offered a cheeseburger or chicken tender Grub Tub with a soda of the guest’s choice.
  Their restaurant, The Intermission, introduced a Cuban sandwich; jalapeno bacon chicken poppers and chicken drummies. They also added new items in the suites: The Taste of India package with Alu Chole, garbanzo beans and tomato sauce with basmati rice, samosa and pakora with a dipping sauce and they introduced a gluten-free dessert, The Sweet Street Sampler.
  Improvements to the building included large-scale interior and exterior upgrades to LED lighting. Next year, they are “looking at continuing projects to keep the building and its systems modern and fresh, including exterior painting, HVAC upgrades, elevator upgrades and a few others,” MacKeigan said. “We have a  long-term capital plan, and we work closely with the Grand Rapids Griffins of the AHL, our primary tenant, our SMG corporate office and the Grand Rapids-Kent County Convention/Arena Authority, our owners, to assess opportunities that provide the best return.”
  Van Andel Arena bought several walk-through metal detectors in 2016 and notifies their patrons for each event through e-mail with security measures specific to the event they’re attending.
  MacKeigan’s outlook for 2017 is strong. “The Griffins continue to draw well and are playing well, and have clinched a spot in the playoffs,” he said. “Concert activity looks good with good shows on the books, including Chris Stapleton, Red Hot Chili Peppers and The Who.”
  “2016 was the best year we've had since we opened,” said Steve Miller, SMG GM, Huntington Center, Toledo, Ohio. “The stars aligned for us, no pun intended.” This followed Huntington Center’s worst year ever in 2015. “It’s a function of routing. The dates worked out for us this year.”
  Elton John, James Taylor, Luke Bryan, Def Leppard, Professional Bull Riders (PBR), Disney On Ice, Monster Jam and Harlem Globetrotters were highlights. “There are a lot of great shows out there, and it’s a matter of finding the right dates and the right deals,” he offered.
Tickets ranged from $10 to $140. Huntington Center netted $2.5 million in revenue and spent $2.4 million.
  F&B also had its best year ever, said Miller. “We were up 10-12 percent.” Per caps were $2.50-$4 for family shows, $8-8.50 for hockey and $10-$12 for concerts. The concessionaire is AVI Food Systems.
  Security has been “a topic of conversation” and “we’ve been vigilant about training,” he said. Huntington Center invested $30,000 to buy 14 magnetometers. “We’re doing it for all the concerts,” he said, “Live Nation is demanding it and so are the artists. We’re fine with it.”
  The rest 2017 is “looking great” and Miller wanted to be sure to mention that without the promoters and his partnerships with them, “we wouldn’t have success in Toledo.”
  “It’s been a terrific year,” said Joan Squires, president of Omaha Performing Arts, which runs the Holland Performing Arts Center and Orpheum Theater, Omaha, Neb. “We’ve had an uptick in attendance, prices are up, the economy is good and people are looking for things to do.”
  At the Holland Performing Arts Center the highest grossing acts were Yo Yo Ma, Garrison Keillor, Jethro Tull and Joe Bonamassa. At the Orpheum, hot shows were
“The Book Of Mormon,” “Phantom of The Opera,” “Cinderella,” “Newsies” and “White Christmas.”
  Tickets ranged from $20-$140 at both venues. The operating budget for both venues was $18-$20 million.
  F&B is doing well and allowing guests to bring beverages into the theatres “really gave us a boost,” said Squires. They expanded event catering and weddings and added a bar and restaurant at Holland Center called Zinc that is doing “really well.”
  Holland Center is 11 years old. The Orpheum is 90 years old. “We continue to invest in both properties,” said Squires. Improvements to Holland Center include a new sound system, new lighting, new carpet, adding an education center and new sidewalks.
At the Orpheum, they’ve installed a new rigging system, a new sound system, an electronic marquee, a patron lounge and a sky bridge to the parking structure. Together, the capital improvements budget was $2.5 million.
  Squires said that the venues add $40 million in economic impact to the region.
  “People come to Omaha and see our venues and are surprised at the quality of the venues,” she added. Twenty-five percent of the revenue is contributed. “We want to thank the community, especially the generous philanthropic community, for all their support, which makes it all possible.”
  2017 is looking even better. “We’re already having one of our best years, and I’m really positive on the rest of the year,” she said.
  Lisa Krohn, director of theater programs, Hennepin Theatre Trust, Minneapolis, which runs the Orpheum Theatre, State Theatre and Pantages Theatre, said
the venues were up five percent this year and that “all three venues are doing very well and inching up in revenue.”
Krohn cited “Newsies,” “The Book Of Mormon” and “The Lion King” as their top shows in 2016. Tickets ranged from $50-$200 with VIP packages that include the best seats in the house, merchandise and a meet and greet going for as high as $350.
She said F&B was equally up around five percent, and she attributes that bump to the theater bringing in “more theater food.” At the Orpheum, they replaced all the seats.
New security measures, including wanding and bag and coat checks, were causing delays, so all the theaters have been advising patrons to arrive early to get through the screening process, she added.


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BATTER UP, CUT THE KALE
 
Posted: 1 Apr 2017, 5:30 pm

Chef Ron Abell ventures outside to meander through kale, sweet peppers and parsley, always on the hunt for a new seasonal dish. Immersed in a garden that produces around 6,000 pounds of produce and herbs annually, Abell juggles the freshness of his choices with an ever-changing menu inside his dining experience. But this garden isn’t only for fine-dining, instead giving the Aramark senior executive chef at Fenway Park in Boston options for concessions and premium spaces just 200 feet from his kitchen in a rooftop garden behind the Gate A Fenway Park façade.
From Fenway Farms, born in 2015, to rooftop gardens for both Levi’s Field in Santa Clara, Calif.,  and AT&T Park in San Francisco and from Denver’s Coors Field to a new garden expected in Atlanta at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, the growth of on-site gardens at stadiums continues to freshen concessions while connecting to the fan experience.
The Boston Red Sox created Fenway Farms, run by two local companies, as part of the club’s sustainability mission. With a seasonally changing array of foods, Abell’s team can use everything from arugula to broccoli or cilantro to thyme, with an ever-changing variety of vegetables and herbs.
Whether pickling, stewing or making jams of produce that ripens when the team vacates the park for a road swing, Abell tries to limit food waste—which does get composted when it happens—and get product onto the plates of ballpark visitors.
Abell said they create dishes with the Fenway Farms bounty in mind and then use signage to help let fans know that ingredients came from the garden viewable by fans. “Maybe you aren’t a big kale fan and don’t want to eat raw kale—and I don’t blame you—but when handled properly and being organically grown and picked at the right time, you may see a Fenway Farms kale salad on the menu and decide to try that,” he said. “That is a dish we have all over the ballpark.”
In Major League Baseball, stadium gardens flourish at Coors Field in Denver, Nationals Park in Washington, D.C., Petco Park in San Diego and AT&T Park in San Francisco.
Luke Yoder started a small garden near the bullpen at Petco Park in 2011 that continued to grow. Peppers, his specialty, have made their way into salsas and sauces for premium stadium dining. Colorado State University, Fort Collins, partners with the Rockies for a 600-square-foot garden that opened shortly after San Diego upped its effort and the Nationals have a small rooftop garden overlooking the left field concourse.
But by far the two largest gardens in MLB come from the 5,000-square-foot Fenway Farms and 4,320-square-foot garden at AT&T Park. Maintained by Bon Appetit Management Company, Centerplate uses the produce in San Francisco for a mix of menu items in various locations around the venue, said Bill Greathouse, Centerplate senior vice president and the man who oversees the program at AT&T Park.
“We like to think that this edible garden really brings the dining experience to another level for our guests,” he said.
Tucked under the scoreboard behind the centerfield wall—and protected from home run balls by mesh—the garden yields such California specialties as avocados, lemons and tomatoes to go with sunflowers, berries, kale and more. 
While baseball stadiums give summer-time opportunities for growing produce and using it on a near daily basis, a pair of football stadiums have entered the fray, able to up the ante on size. The San Francisco 49ers installed a rooftop garden amidst the 27,000-square-foot green roof of Levi’s Field, but it didn’t happen right away.
Lara Harmanson of Farmscape Gardens, the group behind operating the installation, said the space started as a native plant garden with no food crops when it opened in 2014. “The team owners, Jed and Danielle York, thought growing food would be a better use of the space,” she said.
The winter months include mostly leafy greens such as kale, chard, spinach, lettuce and arugula. But herbs do well in the winter too. The summer allows for tomatoes, eggplant, summer squash, peppers and herbs. In all, Harmanson expects to yield about 10,000 pounds of food from the rooftop garden in 2017, having already sent 2,000 pounds to the kitchen since inception.
Chefs use the produce as much as possible, most commonly in club spaces and for private events. Even the edible flowers grown on the rooftop get used as garnish.
The Falcons plan to use the on-site food in some capacity inside the stadium in farm-to-table organic selections, but also hope to incorporate the garden into an educational program for kids about healthier food.
“There is something about being a chef and walking through your produce,” Abell says. “You can get creative right there and your imagination can go from right there. It is a lot different from placing an order on the phone. You can walk 200 feet to your kitchen.”


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Q&A > CURTIS CHENG > FOUNDER AND CEO > DTI MANAGEMENT
 
Posted: 1 Apr 2017, 5:00 pm

Curtis_Cheng_Headshot.jpgCurtis Cheng, the founder and CEO of DTI Management, based in Virginia, dropped out of college to get into the ticketing business. He started as a traditional ticket broker, sold that company in 2006, and then got into beverage distribution. That’s where he learned everything about dissemination of products and how difficult logistics can be. With this knowledge under his belt he returned to tackle the ticketing world in 2012.

What do you see as DTI’s role in the future of the ticketing industry?
We want to change the culture of how a customer buys a ticket. Right now, you can’t buy a parking pass, you can’t buy merchandise and you can’t order food and beverage ahead of time. These are all actions that can be handled on ecommerce.
We’re trying to create shopping carts that allow consumers to purchase all the products they want in one place. It happened really quickly for the travel companies like Expedia and Sabre who are selling hotel rooms, rental cars, cruises and, now, experiences. We’re trying to push on all angles, and I think in three to five years, we’ll see a drastic change.

Have you had any issues getting the rightsholders on board?
The content holders control the destiny of our industry. The owners need to get comfortable with the idea that their fans want to buy tickets where they want to buy them. Mini-plans and season ticket packages should be distributed by the team, but I see all single game tickets being sold on ecommerce very soon. How much would Coca-Cola sell if they only sold it in Walmart? The key for any product is to reach as many consumers and get on as many shelves as possible.

What exactly does DTI Management do?
DTI Management is a platform for the ticket distribution of sports and live entertainment content. Our goal is to be the central part of distribution for the content holders to reach the retail outlets. There are hundreds of thousands of outlets that sell tickets and it’s quite difficult to reach all of them in an efficient manner; it’s even more difficult to fulfill all those orders and manage those relationships. We’ve recently moved into the content space, where our goal is to provide a controlled environment to distribute inventory. We have data-sharing plans directly with teams and tools that allow them to reach the outlets in an efficient way.

Did you model this on other industries?
Yes, we modeled this on the travel industry. Sabre is a middleman that sits between the customer and the airlines. We want to be the central point between the fan and the rights-holder, and we believe the end consumer will pay less for a ticket and the rightsholders will make more money.

How has growth been?
Our first year, in 2013, we did a little under $100 million in gross ticket sales. We’ve grown 70 to 80 percent every year since.

How is the ticketing industry changing?
It’s going through a complete evolution. It changes every six months and, with Amazon coming in, we expect it to change again. We haven’t defined yet how the industry will look in the future. There are a lot of companies that want to keep the status quo and other companies that are innovating and moving the industry forward. We like to consider DTI an innovative company.

What made you get back into ticketing after being a beverage distributor?
To apply what I had learned. In 2012, we formed DTI Management. We gave a version of the platform to all the brokers in our space, which allowed them to manage their inventory through our platform. This allows brokers to focus on what they are best at — buying a ticket and selling a ticket.

Do you have investment capital? 
In August 2016, we raised $75 million from CVC Capital Partners to improve our tech platform and create a liquidity event for some of our stockholders. New Amsterdam Capital is another investor.

What do you love about being in this business?
We’re in a very dynamic space that’s moving very quickly. That’s what makes it exciting. It’s refreshing to see people trying to do it a different way. We want to bring the best minds in ticketing and match them up with the best minds in technology to create the ultimate ticket distribution system.


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EMOJIS SCREAM ‘HAIL STATE’
 
Posted: 1 Apr 2017, 5:00 pm

When you’re the director of marketing for a
large sports institution such as Mississippi State University, Starkville,  it’s vastly important to engage athletic fans through different marketing tools.
MSU has done that and more with its customized emoji keyboards that fans download to their smartphones from Apple and Android stores. The keyboards have emojies, stickers and gifs that are shared via text or social media.
When the athletic department launched the marketing tool in 2015, more than 15,000 people downloaded the app on the first day. To date, more than 100,000 fans have downloaded the app, using it leading up to big games and on game day itself.
MSU was the first university in the U.S. to create and launch customized emojis in-house, and the idea stemmed from MSU’s former Athletic Director Scott Stricklin, who saw what the Atlanta Hawks were doing with customized emojis, said MSU Director of Marketing Rhett Hobart.
The emojis give fans the opportunity to text each other or express their excitement about games on social media with emojis and stickers with MSU logos, such as cowbells people send to each other when they’re pumped on game day.
Stickers also were created for the various venues across the campus, allowing fans to text or reach a large audience on social media, telling friends to meet them at the game. College interaction has been phenomenal, said Leah Beasley, associate athletic director of marketing and fan engagement.
“The fans say (to a friend), ‘What are you doing today?’ and they respond with a sticker of the venue,” she said.
Promoting the emoji project was key to its success, Beasley said.
“We promoted across our food vendors, the basketball venue, football venue and baseball venue,” she said. “We also promoted in the venues.  We believe it’s a large part why our marketing team won the National Association of College Marketing Administration award.”
The university reminds fans — both leading up to game day and on game day — to use their emojis and stickers to express excitement and support for their teams.
The use of emojis is especially popular at basketball games, she highlighted.
Initially, the university offered the app downloads for free, but now they charge 99 cents, and the fee goes to pay for the creation and the upkeep of the emojis.
In order to successfully use the stickers and emojis at the stadiums on game days, the stadium has to ensure that fans can successfully use their phones and the internet, which often is problematic for venues across the country which have large volumes of people using the internet and cell data at once.
“Two years ago, we put a cell tower in the stadium and put sensors to help improve the cell singles,” Hobart said. “It’s much improved.”
Perhaps the most profound piece of the emoji platform is the game day interaction, he said.
“We feel a pretty big spike during game day,” Hobart said.
To quantify that, in the first year of use, MSU had a million pieces of content shared with using the emojis and stickers during game days.
The university creates each emoji, sticker and gif in house using Adobe Photoshop or Adobe Illustrator, giving the athletic marketing department full control of the what kind of hype they want to build for each game.
They also use the emojis to keep fans updated on game days by sending out texts and social media messages about times, scores, and cancellations.
“It’s helping with our brand outreach and our brand equity,” Beasley said.


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ICC SYDNEY ‘EXCEEDS EXPECTATIONS’
 
Posted: 1 Apr 2017, 5:00 pm

A new global standard was set for convention centers when the ICC Sydney opened in December, bringing state-of-the-art construction, technology and diligent planning to the forefront of world-class venue designs.   In the four months that the International Convention Center in Sydney has been operational, it’s already outpaced expectations and is on target to outgrow revenue projections, said ICC Sydney CEO Geoff Donaghy, who highlighted that the venue has bookings all the way out to 2026.
“The estimates were that the center would create $200 million per year,” he said. “Over 25 years, that equals $5 billion in Australian dollars. “The early indications are, and we measure this, that those numbers will be exceeded.”
The impressively large, $1.5 billion Aus. ($1.12 billion U.S.) convention center already has 170 events booked.
ICC Sydney officials and architects pride themselves that the venue can host three separated events at the same time, making the booking power of the facilities endless.
Three main buildings make up the ICC Sydney, which includes the ICC Sydney Theater, the exhibition space that has five exhibition halls and the convention center that hosts a number of events back to back or simultaneously.
In total, the ICC Sydney has 8,000 square meters (86,100 square feet) of meeting space, 35,000 sqm (114,829 sq. ft.) of exhibition space, a 5,000 sqm open air event deck, Australia’s largest grand ballroom and the 9,000-seat capacity ICC Sydney Theatre.
“I think the project exceeded all of our expectations,” said Bob Newman, president of AEG Facilities. “I think this project is going to redefine the industry in terms of functionality — the ability to accommodate exhibitions, conventions, corporate events and all varieties of public entertainment, all under one roof.”
ICC Sydney is managed by AEG Ogden, a division of AEG, which runs a variety of venues across Australia, Asia and the Middle East.

THE THREE YEAR DROUGHT
Imagine a major global hub without a convention center. That was Sydney’s reality for three years when the massive project that spans three blocks in the heart of downtown was being built.
“It took a very brave decision that Sydney would go without a convention center for three years,” Donaghy said. “Sydney had an existing convention center that had been operating for 30 years. There were a number of schemes to expand it.”
Ultimately, venue operators and the state government made the bold decision to construct a brand new facility that everyone hoped would become a global centerpiece and destination for the world’s top conferences.
Since the convention center opened in December, it’s hosted four international events, 17 exhibitions and 14 concerts.
“We’ve just finished two major medical conventions,” Donaghy said.
Accommodating attendees who fill that space is a priority for the venue, especially when it comes to connecting to the internet.
ICC Sydney’s technology was an important part of the entire project, and the expectation is that delegates and attendees will arrive with at least three devices that all require internet connections.

ECONOMIC IMPACT AND TIMELINESS 
ICC Sydney is part of a larger $3.4 billion project to revitalize the Darling Harbour that includes a new 590-room hotel. The Sofitel Darling Harbour is currently being built adjacent to ICC Sydney and will open in October.
New residential and commercial development, along with a new pedestrian boulevard will connect the harbor waterfront to Sydney’s Central Station, which is a railway transit.
ICC Sydney is touted as smartly positioned within the epicenter.
“It’s location, in the heart of a vibrant capital market, in the heart of a growing hospitality district, steps from the waterfront, all make it unmatched on the global playing field,” Newman said.
Hotels surrounding ICC Sydney are running at peak levels, and another 2,000 hotel rooms currently are under construction, Donaghy said.
“That creates an enormous demand and success of room nights,” he added.
The spending power alone from conference guests has a huge economic footprint, and outpaces what tourists spend. Convention delegates spend four to five times more per day than the average tourist, Donaghy highlighted.
“The convention center sees only about eight to 10 percent of that spending. The rest is out in Sydney,” he said. “We like to point out that the convention center is the nexus between the visitor economy and the intel economy. We’re attracting very important events out of the city and out of Asia as well.”
In January, the venue hosted the Amway China Leadership Seminar 2017, bringing more than 2,000 attendees to the newly-opened convention center.
Another economic impact that can’t go overlooked is the number of jobs ICC Sydney has created — starting with the design and construction, all the way to the 1,500 people who currently work at the venue.
The facility has 300 full-time staff and roughly 1,200 part-time employees, and those figures will soon increase to 320 full-time and 1,800 part-time workers.
The food and beverage side benefits a different sector of the economy. The ICC Sydney buys the majority of its food and beverage directly from suppliers, not wholesalers. That means the convention center is buying seafood from local seafood suppliers, beef from local cattle farmers and wine from Australia’s robust wineries.
“We’re giving them surety of business and surety of payment,” Donaghy said. “We’ve ensured that 80 percent of our wine list comes from New South Wales.”
Food and beverage doesn’t just come from Sydney, but also from various regional areas across Australia.
Donaghy and other ICC Sydney officials have started the process of measuring the job creation with the help of local universities, he said.

COUNTRY COMETH
Global conventions are one thing, but high profile entertainment is another, and the ICC Sydney certainly caters to the glitz and glamour of the music industry.
Australia’s country heartthrob Keith Urban christened the ICC Sydney Theater on Dec. 15 to a sold-out crowd.
“Being a good Aussie boy, that was very exciting,” Donaghy said.
The Dixie Chicks played at the theater in March, and the Zac Brown Band is on April’s lineup. Family friendly entertainment events also are planned at ICC Sydney throughout the year, including a Nickelodeon’s “Paw Patrol” — a live account of the kids show acted out on stage.
K.D. Lang will host a concert this summer, and American comedian Jerry Seinfeld also will entertain guests in August. The list goes on and on.
Sydney’s business community and the state government couldn’t be more pleased with the venues ongoing success so early out of the gate.
“Having the opportunity to build something brand new and bring the experience we have of 25 years in convention center development to the table is exciting,” Donaghy said, adding that he’s extremely proud to be part of something “on the edge of one of the most beautiful cities in the world.”


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OPTIMIZATION AUSSIE-STYLE
 
Posted: 1 Apr 2017, 5:00 pm

Optimization is prevalent in the industry today and the venues Down Under are no exception.
Australia’s Top Stops are leveraging purchasing power, customer service and labor to stay competitive in what can be a challenging marketplace.
One example is Qudos Bank Arena, located in Sydney Olympic Park, which has reviewed supplier and service provider agreements throughout the year, concentrating on contract rates and service standards.
“This has resulted in improved methodologies and for more [competitive] rates to be negotiated,” said Steve Hevern, the arena’s general manager. “Leveraging the purchasing power of the group will be looked at in 2017, in a bid to attain optimal rates and enhanced sponsorship opportunities at the arena via such partnerships.”
The review comes on the heels of Qudos Bank being launched as the arena’s naming rights sponsor in April 2016 and a subsequent rebrand that was rolled out for the remainder of last year. In addition, a new website is planned for 2017.
“This includes new interactive functionality, an improved layout and a user friendly design that is fully optimized for mobile phones and tablets to ensure that the user experience will be substantially improved,” said Hevern.

HIGHEST GROSSING SHOWS
Australia’s industry climate was not optimal in 2016, with Qudos Bank Arena’s highest grossing event for the fiscal year 2016 being the 2015 Netball World Cup, which grossed $2,311,610.
“Revenues were down in 2016 due to a lack of major touring content and subsequent low ticket sales,” said Hevern.
Brisbane Entertainment Centre’s (BEC) highest grossing event in 2016 was a March Madonna performance, which grossed $1,671,026.
According to Tim Worton, who oversees the Qudos Bank Arena, BEC, Perth Arena and Newcastle Entertainment Centre as group director of arenas, AEG Ogden, 2015 and 2016 were two of the flattest years recently for concert and live entertainment content in arenas.
“Consequently, revenue levels were down on what had been strong averages for the years leading up to those two years,” he said. Worton also works closely with the live entertainment division of the International Convention Centre (ICC) Sydney, overseeing its new 9,000-capacity ICC Theatre and 2,500-capacity Darling Harbour Theatre.
Worton said the reason for the decline is threefold.
“First, we had seen so many artists tour in the years up to 2014 that 2015 and 2016 were simply out of cycle for a lot of acts,” he said. “Also, the Australian dollar had been at parity or stronger than the U.S. dollar up until 2014, and the weakening to around 75 U.S. cents has made it more financially challenging to bring some tours to our market.”
In addition, a high incidence of stadium tours has negatively impacted Australian arenas. 
“In the past few months alone, we’ve seen Coldplay, Guns ‘N Roses, Adele and Justin Bieber play outdoors,” said Worton.
Prince’s Piano & Microphone tour was Perth Arena’s highest grossing performance for 2016, and turned out to be one of the legend’s final few live appearances.
“This past January, the sensational Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band returned for three sold-out performances to 42,000 fans,” said Michael Scott, the arena’s general manager. “It will be difficult to top.”

NEW DEVELOPMENTS
Changes in the Australian marketplace have resulted in the need for adjustments.
For example, Qudos Bank Arena is requiring additional bump-in and/or bump-out days to facilitate large-scale productions, as an increasing number of promoters and artists are requesting three to five or more days to set-up events, often for a single show.
“While we will always look to accommodate this where we can, it does come at a cost and can become quite problematic to schedule during peak concert touring periods,” said Hevern. 
In 2016, to reduce casual labor hours, BEC used permanent salaried staff wherever possible to assist with set ups and post-event pull downs.
“When events were hosted, casual catering staff had been cross trained, so we were able to have a strong focus on redeployments of casual staff for peak periods,” said Trish McNamara, the Centre’s general manager. “Where possible, all staff was required to take annual leave to reduce this overhead.”
In an effort to further strengthen its customer service, the BEC began focusing on reducing lost property and reconnecting patrons with their goods starting late last year and will continue in 2017.
Social media has had a major impact on its success rate, as have proactive steps taken at the event with live announcements/checking of the patrons’ details through the ticketing system, etc. 
“To date, we have returned approximately 90 percent of lost and found items since the customer service initiative commenced, and this has included wallets loaded with cash and cards, mobile phones, lost merchandise, etc.,” said McNamara. “The 10 percent not returned are items with no form of identification, such as shoes, clothing and drink bottles. While this may seem like just a small element of our operation, it has had a profound impact on the people who have been reunited with their personal items, and it has restored a good will feeling among our team.”
Environmentally-focused improvements also were an emphasis for some facilities. For example, the Perth Arena successfully added an organic recycling program to its already effective waste management scheme.
“The result is 86 percent of waste is now diverted from landfills, which drives business value through sustainability,” said Scott.
Also in 2016, Perth Arena’s Golden Ticket campaign was launched in support of Breast Cancer Care for the first time. It raised $71,710, with all proceeds to positively impact the lives of those in the community affected by breast cancer. The money paid household utility bills, provided home cleaning services, groceries, clothes or Counseling to 564 families.
“This year, we plan to partner with the public and private sector to expand the venue’s audience into Southeast Asia to be a positive contributor to tourism for Western Australia,” said Scott.


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EXCEEDING EXPECTATIONS
 
Posted: 1 Apr 2017, 5:00 pm

Arnold_Preciado.jpgA little more than 10 miles from downtown Los Angeles, the Pasadena Convention Center plays host to some of the area’s most prestigious events. As a boutique convention center, however, the culinary team is able to churn out restaurant quality plates under the direction of Centerplate Executive Chef Arnold Preciado.
“When guests come here for the first time, they might have a perception of convention center food,” Preciado said. “That might mean a hockey puck steak and dry chicken. Once they taste our chicken and our steak, however, they see things differently. It’s not traditional convention food; it’s more like a restaurant.
Case in point: Preciado’s beef short rib, a generous portion of beef that’s beautifully plated with fresh, locally sourced produce.
The chef uses Lone Pine Ranch beef (from Mendocino County, Calif.), which is braised for six hours in Dark Horse cabernet. The braising liquid is saved for a red wine reduction to be poured over the final product. For the accoutrements, Preciado makes a puree from celery root and potatoes, adding a trio of rainbow carrots, a roasted herb tomato and caramelized cipollini onion as edible garnish.
The entree is a venue favorite that groups will order repeatedly, Preciado said. Fortunately, he doesn’t have to change the dish with the seasons since the center receives fresh produce year-round. “I don’t like to say we’re spoiled, but we are,” he said with a laugh. “We’re lucky. We’re in California so we get tricolored carrots all year. We work closely with Fresh Point, which provides us with quality fruits and vegetables, anything we want.”

Centerplate Executive Chef Arnold Preciado
Pasadena (Calif.) Convention Center
Arnold Preciado was hired at the Pasadena Convention Center in 2005 as a line cook, a year before graduating from Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts, Pasadena.
Today, he calls the shots in the same kitchen as executive chef for Centerplate. Preciado develops new dishes and menus, overseeing food service for such prestigious events as the NAACP Image Awards, the Daytime Emmy Awards and the wrap party for the Disney film, “Moana.”
“I have creative control here, and I have a great boss,” he said. “Our client [the convention center] has seen my work and my growth, and they support what I want to do.”
During his career, he spent some time at other establishments, working for Woflgang Puck and helping to open up L.A.’s Hotel Angelino, but the convention center continued to call him back. “It’s my staff,” he added, explaining that the center has just 25 culinary personnel, including dishwashers, cooks and preps. “My staff is what pushes me and motivates me to be more. And I push them as well.”


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BOOKINGS, UPGRADES SURGE IN 2017
 
Posted: 1 Apr 2017, 5:00 pm

With a Bruce Springsteen concert that grossed $1,396,956, Qudos Bank Arena, located in Sydney Olympic Park, 2017 is off to a better start than the previous year.
“The bookings for 2017 show a marked improvement in regards to content that is already looking better than the previous two years,” said Steve Hevern, the arena’s general manager.
Bruce Springsteen was also a juggernaut for Brisbane Entertainment Centre (BEC), taking in $5,225,508 for two shows, the highest for the venue so far this year.
“The cycle seems to have turned for the better for 2017, with a very healthy level of bookings, particularly in the second half of 2017 and in the first four months of 2018,” said Tim Worton, who oversees Qudos Bank Arena, BEC, Perth Arena and Newcastle Entertainment Centre for AEG Ogden. “Accordingly, we are projecting strong revenue growth in the 2017/18 financial year over the past couple of years, and that seems set to be repeated in 2018/19. So the outlook is very positive, and we’re excited about the content that we expect to host over the next 18 to 24 months.”
Upgrades also are underway in Australia’s major facilities this year.
In 2017, the BEC’s outdoor Courtyard Catering operation will undergo a major refurbishment with new permanent outlets to replace the current temporary structures. These four permanent outlets will be multipurpose and can operate simultaneously or as standalone units. 
“The new outlets will provide patrons with better facilities and a greater catering offering,” said Worton. “These also will feature new permanent seating areas, which will assist in labor set-up costs.”
  Also this year, Perth Arena plans to commission the final two of four gantry winches in the main rigging zone.
“This greatly improves the speed, efficiency and safety of hauling motor chains to the roof,” said Michael Scott, general manager. “In addition, it will reduce the number of riggers required and overall costs to the production team.”


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MANAGEMENT
 
Posted: 1 Apr 2017, 5:00 pm

Michael Burgoyne is a new partner at Schuler Shook. Burgoyne joined the company in 2000 as a theater planner and he became a principal in 2011. He is a graduate of North Carolina School of the Arts, Winston-Salem.

United Talent Agency (UTA) has promoted nine agents to partner status. Sarah Clossey, Steve Cohen, Gueran Ducoty, Joe Eshenbaugh, Charles Ferraro, Pete Franciosa, Allan Haldeman, Keya Khayatian, Tim Phillips and Jo Yao all join UTA’s 44 partners—representing a 20 percent expansion of the agency’s top ranks. Clossey, Cohen and Yao are agents in UTA’s motion picture talent department. Ducoty heads UTA’s licensing & endorsements department. Eshenbaugh is an agent in its comedy touring department. He will be based in Los Angeles. Ferraro and Khayatian are agents in UTA’s motion picture literary department. Franciosa heads UTA’s production department. Haldeman is an agent in UTA’s television department and Phillips is an agent in UTA’s television literary department. UTA has also hired Geoff “Geespin" Gamere as an agent. Gamere spent the last 16 years of his career at iHeartmedia.

 


Joe Cuello has been named the new GM at EscapeX. Cuello comes to EscapeX from Tunecore, where he served as chief creative officer. Prior to that he spent a decade at MTV Networks. Cuello is an adjunct professor at Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, where he teaches entertainment management.

Ware Malcomb has promoted Jan Davis to director, commercial architecture in the firm’s Denver office. Davis joined Ware Malcomb’s Denver office as project manager in 2006 and was promoted to studio manager, commercial architecture, in 2007.  She received a bachelor of fine arts degree from Colorado College, Colorado Springs and a Masters of Architecture from the University of Colorado, Denver. 

Blitz|GES has promoted two of its senior team, Carol Gibbs and Mark Watson. Gibbs takes on the newly-created role of director of venues. Watson is the new creative director.

Spectra by Comcast Spectacor, the provider of venue management to Chaifetz Arena on the campus of Saint Louis (Mo.) University, has promoted Jeremy Huelsing to GM of Chaifetz Arena. Huelsing most recently served as the venue’s AGM. Huelsing joined the Spectra team at the Chaifetz Arena during the inaugural season in 2008. In 2012 he moved to the Glens Falls (N.Y.) Civic Center as director of finance before taking over as the GM in 2013. He returned to Chaifetz Arena in 2015.

The Mendocino County Tourism Commission has appointed Alan Humason as executive director. Previously, Humason was executive director of Yolo County (Calif.) Visitors Bureau. He received his bachelor of arts degree in English literature from University of California, Santa Barbara, and undertook graduate studies in English literature and rhetoric at San Jose (Calif.) State University. 

Dusty Kurtz is the new president of TicketsWest. Kurtz joined TicketsWest in 2006 as a project manager in the Denver office. He was promoted in 2008 to regional manager and in April 2011 he became the TicketsWest vice president and moved to the head office in Spokane, Wash. Prior to his positions with TicketsWest, Kurtz worked at Montana State University, Bozeman, and Brick Breeden Field House under Duane Morris.

Jack Lucas has stepped down as president of TicketsWest after 30 years at the helm. Lucas will continue to serve as president of West Coast Entertainment, a concert and Broadway promotion company serving the Pacific Northwest.

Mark Nerenhausen is the new CEO for Hennepin Theater Group, which runs the Orpheum Theatre, State Theatre and Pantages Theatre, all in Minneapolis. Nerenhausen is the founding director of the Janklow Arts Leadership Program at Syracuse (N.Y.) University. He previously served as president and CEO of AT&T Performing Arts Center, Dallas, and he led the Performing Arts Authority, Fort Lauderdale, Fla., from 1998-2009.

Former Durham (N.C.) Convention Center GM Jen Noble has taken the GM position at Mansion On Delaware Avenue, Buffalo, N.Y. Noble transitioned into convention centers working for Spectra Venue Management at the Conference and Events Center, Niagara Falls, N.Y., and eventually became their AGM and director of sales and marketing. Noble is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, Hyde Park, N.Y.

Albany (N.Y.) Capital Center (ACC) continues to fill key positions; most recently hiring two event services managers, Jamie Parker and Anastasia Purritano. Parker joins ACC after a working at Albany County Convention and Visitors Bureau and The College of Saint Rose, Albany.  In addition to her position at ACC, Parker also serves as coordination assistant for Inspired Occasions. Parker graduated from Fitchburg (Mass.) State University with a bachelor’s degree in Communications Media. Purritano began her career with BBL Hospitality at the Hilton Garden Inn at Albany (N.Y.) Medical Center. Purritano received her bachelor’s degree in sports, entertainment and event management in 2012 from Johnson & Wales University, Providence, R.I.

Joaquin Quesada has been named deputy director of the Anaheim (Calif.) Convention Center. Quesada started his career as an Anaheim Convention Center busboy. In 1997, Quesada was appointed Aramark general manager at the Anaheim Convention Center and continued his Aramark career in various district manager roles, overseeing venues in Anaheim, Los Angeles, San Diego, Washington, Palm Springs and Las Vegas until 2016. Quesada succeeds David Meek, who retired from the Anaheim Convention Center in 2016.

Luc Robitaille has been named president of the L.A. Kings hockey club and will now oversee all hockey and business operations. Rob Blake has been named VP and GM for the Kings and will direct all day-to-day hockey operations for the organization. The announcement of both promotions was made by Dan Beckerman, president and CEO of AEG, the parent company of the LA Kings. In addition, Beckerman announced Dean Lombardi, who has served as Kings President and General Manager since 2006, and Darryl Sutter, who has served as the club’s Head Coach since 2011, have been relieved of their current duties.

Jim Wynkoop has been named GM of Atlantic City’s historic Boardwalk Hall in New Jersey for Spectra Venue Management. Previously, Wynkoop had been GM of Chaifetz Arena at St. Louis (Mo.) University. He joined the team at Chaifetz Arena in 2010 after serving Spectra as the director of facilities at the BankUnited Center on the Campus of the University of Miami, Coral Gables, Fla. Wynkopp also served in various capacities at the Whittemore Center Arena at University of New Hampshire, Durham, and he was part of the opening team at University of South Carolina’s Colonial Life Arena, Columbia. He began his venue career working at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, Uniondale, N.Y., serving as the parking manager, event services manager and director of operations. He replaces Fran Rodowicz, whom Spectra promoted to general manager of the Sun National Bank Center in Trenton, N.J.


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VAPOR WAKE DOGS
 
Posted: 1 Apr 2017, 5:00 pm

As thousands of fans stream through the gates into Major League Baseball stadiums in Detroit, Atlanta and St. Louis, a new style of training has security dogs moving with the crowds on the hunt for the scent of explosives.
Through a training style developed and patented in 2015 by Auburn University, Vapor Wake dogs—exclusively trained by AMK9 via a license with the university—don’t need a static object or person to mark as their obedience fixes to odor.
In Detroit, Richard Fenton, chief security officer for the Illitch family, took the next step, buying Vapor Wake dogs and then setting up a mechanism, a 501c3, to allow him to share the purchased dogs with other institutions in the city. The result is the dogs stay very active and are trained up-to-date with new threats. “They stay fresh; it was a creative way to solve that problem,” said Chris Robinette, Prevent Advisors, who studied the Detroit project. Other 501c3’s are now taking root in other cities, where everyone can integrate use of the dogs.
Ilitch Holdings own MLB’s Tigers and NHL’s Red Wings. While the Detroit dogs remain in heavy use at games at both Comerica Park and Joe Louis Arena (and starting in September, the new downtown Little Caesars Arena), Fenton has donated the use of the dogs and their handlers to local law enforcement agencies, including the Detroit Police Department, Michigan State Police and Wayne State University.
Fenton said donating the use of the dogs to neighboring agencies not only helps bolster the cooperation between the sports teams and those serving to help secure sporting venues, but it also keeps the dogs sharp and in year-round practice.
Ilitch Holdings was able to use its Ilitch Charities, specifically its Detroit Tigers Foundation, 501c3 nonprofit status to connect the Vapor Wake technology to the community through an initial investment of $135,000. The donation of the dogs to the three law enforcement agencies runs through the foundation, serving the goals of the charities in supporting the community.
“It is the only technology that can fill that gap for body-worn explosives on a moving target,” said Charlie McGinty, vice president at AMK9. If someone is carrying explosive material, it will leave a scent trail or vapor wake that the canine will detect and then lead the trained handler to the source of the scent.
A Vapor Wake dog, most commonly a Labrador retriever breed, can take up to 15 months to train. The $50,000 price tag on the dogs include the dog, Vapor Wake training and a seven-week course taught in Anniston, Ala., that matches a handler with the trained canine where, as McGinty says, “they bond together and learn to be a certified Vapor Wake team.”
AMK9 sells packages, such as they’ve done in Detroit, or rents the service with their own dogs and handlers.
Training teaches the dogs to sample the air behind hundreds of people moving toward a venue, a key factor in keeping the flow of fans unobstructed. “Everybody wants to have a good fan experience,” McGinty said. “This is a very unobtrusive way of screening people. Our canines can detect trace amounts of explosive material on a moving target.”
While sports venues have certainly taken notice, the Vapor Wake technology remains on the rise in New York City’s counterterrorism unit as new orders coming this year help supply dogs for events such as the Macy’s Day Parade. The St. Louis Cardinals and Atlanta Braves have proven regular supporters of Vapor Wake, as is the Arlington Fire Department, which works Dallas Cowboys games at AT&T Stadium.
Fenton said AMK9’s cooperation with the NCS4 lab run by Dr. Lou Marciani at the University of Southern Mississippi, Hattiesburg, has proven critical in understanding the value of Vapor Wake. The lab constantly investigates how to make venues safer in the larger sense and specifically how to develop best practices and support programs. By continually testing new vendors, whether cameras, metal detectors or vehicle barricades, the NCS4 lab can do the heavy lifting. Dogs play a part, too.
As Vapor Wake has reached certification with the NCS4 lab, Fenton said cooperation from venue operators with the Department of Homeland Security’s subsector focused on commercial facilities, allows the sharing of intelligence and best practices around the country, giving security officials the best idea of how to use new methods, such as Vapor Wake. Without giving away the secrets of the trade, Fenton said that such a robust group of security experts can help devise strategies to combat current threats.
With one of those growing strategies the use of Vapor Wake dogs, Fenton said the labor-intensive process and expense makes this tool hard to obtain for some. “I think all of us in the private sector are looking for different ways to collaborate,” he said, about donating the use of the dogs. “We are pushing the envelope.”

 

SECURITY TIP OF THE MONTH

Ideas and suggestions on live event safety, security and crowd management from our friends at Prevent Advisors.

Protecting your organization's data and information systems can at times seem like a daunting effort, and it is. With a reported 65 percent year-on-year increase in "phishing" attacks, protecting critical systems will only become more challenging.

Tip: Healthy skepticism is your friend. Take the time to remind your team to never open files or click links from unsolicited emails without first confirming the sender's identity and the origin of the file. While such verification takes a small extra effort on the front end, consistent adherence to this common sense action will save any targeted system or organization immeasurable pain on the back end.


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VOS EXCELLENCE IN OPERATIONS AWARD - TACOMA’S MATT BALK IN LOVE WITH LOGISTICS
 
Posted: 1 Apr 2017, 4:00 pm

matt_roof_2.jpgThe city is about to give the 34-year-old Tacoma (Wash.) Dome a $21-million facelift and Matt Balk, operations manager, is eager to take on the challenge.
Having handled operations at various venues through his 20-year career, Balk is the epitome of an excellent operations professional. He’s passionate about the industry, experienced in working with clients and customers and in love with the logistical aspects of operations. He is also the first Venue Operations Summit Excellence in Operations Award Winner and will be so honored during the 2017 VOS in Nashville April 30-May 2.
An operations award is long overdue in this industry, Balk agreed. “The operations department is usually the largest department in a venue. It’s great to have some recognition, as embarrassing to me as it is personally.”
Balk entered this field in college, while majoring is sport management at Iowa State, Ames. He worked his way through school specializing in conversion at Iowa’s multiuse basketball arena, Hilton Coliseum, managed by SMG.
He is very much a sports fan, with athletics being his initial drawing card, but it’s all about operations for Balk. “I’ve always been that person who likes the logistical aspects,” Balk said. “Obviously converting facilities spoke to me because that’s really just an exercise in logistics.”
Upon graduation, he decided to indulge another passion, seeing the country, so Balk was ready and willing to travel. SMG sent him to Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza, Wilkes-Barre, Pa., then back to Des Moines, Iowa, to open Wells Fargo Arena. Then he moved to Arco Arena in Sacramento, Calif,; CenturyLink Center, Bossier City, La., and back to California to Stockton Arena. In Louisiana, he met his true love, married and committed to settling down soon.
The settling takes place in Tacoma, which is an aging facility and right up Balk’s alley. “I appreciate the challenge of working with older systems. Don’t get me wrong. I like new shiny things as much as the next person. But there is an allure of extending the lifecycle of equipment in facilities for me.”
“We call him Mr. Fixer,” said Kim Bedier, director of Public Assembly Facilities for the city of Tacoma. Bedier cited Balk’s ability to be “very consistent and super fair,” handling the day-to-day while keeping his eye on the big picture, the future. He’s helped “fix” several older venues and Tacoma Dome is the newest feather in his cap. “He knows change is a journey and he knows how to get there.”
Balk also likes the management side of operations, especially working with such a diverse group — custodial, conversion, maintenance, HVAC, IT — a group that invariably brings demographic diversity. “I love learning the differences of cultures and viewpoints from my crew.”
Operations is a challenging profession, and Balk enjoys rising to the occasion. One of the most gratifying was in Des Moines, when Paul McCartney and Bon Jovi were playing back-to-back dates and both needed a load-in day. “We ended up pre-rigging a lot of Bon Jovi and having McCartney come in and hang a lot of their stuff right below Bon Jovi’s. They were both Live Nation shows; everyone worked well together,” Balk recalled.
From a rigging standpoint, the challenge was to be sure the building and the roof were safe. The grid in Des Moines could hang 150,000 pounds. In Tacoma, he can hang 250,000 pounds if it’s done correctly, meaning everything is balanced and weight loads are correct.
Rigging shows is becoming more and more of a challenge because venues are tightening their programming and operations has to deliver a positive client and customer experience in a condensed timeframe. “I’m always in awe of the facilities that are able to do two events in a day,” Balk said. “It’s such a feat of coordination and teamwork to make that happen.”
In Tacoma, Balk oversees six facilities — the dome, the convention center, three theaters and a Triple A ballpark. He likes being able to put on a different hat for each, but his main baby right now is renovation of the Tacoma Dome. The venue opened April 21, 1983, and is in need of some tender, loving care.
He’s been able to make modifications on a shoestring, like sprucing up the back entrance and dressing room hallway. Now, he’s got a budget to do bigger things.
The big targets are improved technology and customer comfort. To that end, the dome’s 23,000 seats will be totally renovated. “The big thing is seat width and leg room,” Balk said, quite satisfied with the designs in progress. A contractor has not yet been selected. Work will start late this year with an October 2018 finish line.
With two decades in operations, Balk has learned some valuable lessons. One is to communicate well with all stakeholders. Early in his career, he had to deal with a power outage in a facility that damaged the ice plant the day of a hockey game. “So we were trying to fix the ice plant and keep the game as well. But I was trying to be covert and not keep all the stakeholders informed of the situation. People are very understanding as long as they feel they are involved. If you close those lines of communication and leave people in the dark, that’s rarely a good solution.”
In this particular case, Balk certainly should have done a better job communicating with GM and ensuring lines of communication were open with the team and box office and anyone else involved in the potential canceling of an event, which is exactly what eventually happened. “We got through two periods but the ice couldn’t make it through the third,” he remembered.
One of his triumphs happened in Tacoma, shepherding the DAS and WiFi upgrades. “It was a big undertaking. We had to figure out a solution with no capital investment on our end,” Balk said. “We were able to get some WiFi providers to recognize they could recoup upfront capital investments with some of the carrier dollars that came our way later. We installed a neutral party and then Verizon, T-Mobile, AT&T and Sprint all pay to access our equipment.” Mobility is the neutral party.
Though the preferred method would be for the facility to invest the upfront capital, the challenge is the workaround if those funds aren’t available. Just understand the tradeoffs, Balk advised. That upgrade was completed in 2016.
It is important to keep up with the Joneses when operating an older facility. To entice the city to fund those upgrades, Balk makes sure he produces well-researched supporting data, like client surveys, the cost of antiquated systems and cost reduction after an investment. “And telling a story about the role our facilities play in the community and the quality of life and growth of our community is important,” he said.
In managing people, Balk likes to listen and refuses to fixate on past issues. He oversees a fulltime staff of 24 in operations. “You have to be able to have a short memory when things don’t go right. If someone doesn’t show up for work, and even though it might put you in a bind, you can’t fixate on that. It’s about figuring out a solution to ensure our clients or facility don’t suffer because of someone’s absence.”
He also refuses to be complacent. “Put yourself on our customers’ shoes. It’s sounds basic, but it’s easy to slide into ‘this is the way we’ve always done it.’ I’m constantly pushing myself and my crew to challenge ourselves to not always do things the same way.”
To facilitate fresh approaches, he cross trains staff, requiring everyone to have a diversified skillset. “Then the people doing new things started asking, ‘why do we do things this way, how about that way?’ And it often makes sense,” Balk said.
For example, at Tacoma Dome, the staff had always set up portable seating left to right. Then along came a new idea with a fresh set of eyes on the subject. “Now we do it from center. It’s a little thing, but it ends up shaving 15 minutes off a conversion with two people working in two directions. Fifteen minutes matters.”
So does 20 years.


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ASK RUSS
 
Posted: 1 Apr 2017, 4:00 pm

When you think about starting something, you are excited by the opportunity. I think there is something in our brains in those initial idea moments that will not allow us to consider anything but the possibilities of success. This is what went on in my mind when I began considering creating a dedicated educational conference focused solely on public assembly facility operations and engineering professionals.
After the initial enthusiasm and excitement is over, the real work begins. No one person can think of all the things that need to be considered, let alone executed in order to have a successful conference. Fortunately for me, several people like Linda Deckard, Samantha Le, Rob Ocampo, Rich DiGiacomo and the team at Venues Today, along with my business partners Tom Williams and Mike Wooley (who are always wondering what I am going to come up with next), shared my vision, dug in and are responsible for the success the Venue Operations Summit has enjoyed thus far.
This year’s summit, the third annual, will once again be focused on delivering quality information that public assembly facility operations and engineering professionals need to know. My goal for this conference is to deliver quality information in a manner in which the attendees can use this information as soon as they return to their facilities.
The intangible part of the conference is the opportunity to spend quality time with some fantastic leaders from all facility types. When you are in a room or having a conversation at breakfast or lunch with people like Charlie Leone, Amway Center, Orlando, Fla.; Jim Spencer, American Airlines Arena, Miami; Jim Greer, Tennessee Performing Arts Center Nashville, Tenn.; Derek Hillestad, University of Minnesota, Minn.; Joey Dennis, Infinite Energy Center, Duluth, Ga.; Molly Fortune, Newberry (S.C.) Opera House; Greg Poole, Smart Financial Center, Sugar Land, Texas; Josh Robinson, former director of engineering, Georgia World Congress Center, Atlanta, and many more. You cannot help but create the connections that lead to solutions both now and in the future.
When you get the opportunity to hear from true industry professionals like Dave Loverock at Jet Ice, who I believe knows more about ice than practically anyone, Mike Rogers from SSR, who has likely lost track of the number of facilities that he and his firm have designed MEP for, and Ken Burgess from Hussey Seating, who will get to the gritty reality on how to maintain telescopic platforms, the results can make a real difference in how you do your job.
In our first two conferences, I made a conscious choice to stay away from security. I felt there were already several security related opportunities from organizations like the International Association of Assembly Managers (IAVM), the National Center for Sport Spectator Safety & Security (NCS4) and the Stadium Managers Association (SMA). I had a conversation with several operations managers during last year’s summit, and they reminded me that there are a large number of industry facilities where security falls under the director of operations and personnel in those departments do not necessarily get to attend the other security conferences. With that in mind, we have included two security related sessions that will help to address the needs that many facilities’ operators are facing today. The first is a presentation on security screening led by Mark Kranske, SVP of operations for Landmark Event Services, and Joe Vazquez, national security sales manager at Garrett Metal Detectors. The second is a presentation by Doug DeLancey from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office for bombing prevention. Doug will discuss DHS’s efforts to develop the second capability guideline for public assembly venues and the activities necessary to identify, prevent and respond to bomb threats and related incidents.
  We have two spectacular keynotes presented by people who have had real success in our industry. The first is Alex Diaz. Alex’s career goes from crowd manager to the GM of Madison Square Garden, with stops at the Miami Heat and the Brooklyn Nets. I am genuinely excited to hear what Alex has to say. The other keynote is by longtime industry leader and now educator, Sporty Jeralds, from the University of South Carolina, Columbia. Sporty is, in my opinion, someone that reflects all that we aspire to be, working his way through the industry to become the GM of the Charlotte (N.C.) Coliseum.
I encourage you to join us. We will all be better for it.

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


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VOS EXCELLENCE IN ENGINEERING AWARD - SZABAT BELIEVES IN LIFECYCLE STUDIES
 
Posted: 1 Apr 2017, 4:00 pm

Jan-Szabat239x300.jpgProject management is a big part of the job for Jan Szabat, engineering services director, Shaw Conference Centre, Edmonton, Alberta. Whether it’s flood mitigation or vertical transportation, his expertise and knowledge of the city’s iconic venue is legendary. Nothing stops the show with Szabat in charge.
Szabat, who never gives up, is the perfect choice for the inaugural Venue Operations Summit Excellence in Engineering Award, which will be presented during the 2017 conference in Nashville, Tenn., April 30-May 2. Notified on his birthday (March 29) that he had been selected for the award, he “wasn’t sure this was actually real. That was a gift for me. I’m honored. This is so awesome.”
He describes his job as “making sure the building looks attractive, is functional, and everything works – smells good, looks good.” To do that, he watches the aging infrastructure closely, with frequent equipment lifecycle reports and carefully planned upgrades and maintenance projects.
“We’re thrilled that Jan is being recognized for his outstanding contributions to Edmonton’s convention center,” said Lisanne Lewis, general manager, Shaw Conference Centre. “His leadership over the past 30 years has been instrumental in ensuring one of our city’s most iconic assets continues to be seen as a premier meetings and conventions destination.”
Szabat has been at the convention center almost from day one, starting there in 1983 after immigrating to Canada from Poland, where he was a land surveyor. He started in the maintenance and engineering department in 1986.
Switching professions, Szabat chose engineering because he likes the variety and the daily challenge. “Every day looks absolutely different. You don’t know what the challenge will be,” Szabat said. It helps that he is tenacious.
“In this type of business, you don’t have the comfort of giving up. The only option is to find different solutions. You can’t walk away and say I don’t know how to do that.”
Szabat’s biggest engineering challenge was in 2012, when the convention center was hit with major, major flooding by water and raw sewage. The flood was due to poor design of the city’s sewage system, which has finally been fixed, but not until three flood episodes.
Belfor Restoration was brought in to oversee recovery the first time and, just as work was near completion, they were hit again. Twice in the summer of 2012 (July 12 and July 23) and a third time in 2013. “We’re okay now, but that was a huge challenge,” Szabat said.
Amazingly, throughout the flood mitigation process, the center continued to operate, moving some functions to upper levels and scheduling work around events.
Coming up, Szabat will hire a project manager for the $10-million endeavor to replace 696 glass panels on the center’s roof. His role will be to provide documentation, schedule work and assess business interruption in the building. Construction is to start in 2018.
“Any project, even ones I sometimes don’t manage, I have to work to make sure they are successful,” Szabat said. Success depends upon his organizational skills.
As he prepares for the roof work, he’s wrapping up the two-year,  $12.6 million escalator replacement project. It was very complicated because the venue, which slopes down to the river, is totally dependent on vertical transportation for clients and customers. “We never closed,” Szabat said. “A big part of my role was scheduling and business interruption. I had to make sure noise was not interfering with our clients. It’s a constant battle to stop contractors from making too much noise so we could allow business to roll. That was very challenging.”
Szabat oversees a fulltime staff of 13 in engineering. For large jobs, he brings in an outside contractor, but when possible he acts as project manager himself.
A big believer in long-term planning, Szabat contracts for equipment lifecycle studies and keeps them current. “We know what to expect in the near future,” he said.
On a regular basis, about every three years, the center applies for capital funding. Shaw Conference Centre belongs to the city of Edmonton and is operated independently by Edmonton Economic Development Corp.
But Szabat never goes to the city saying, “I think this needs to be replaced.” Every request is well documented and planned for via the lifecycle reports. The facility is aging and this is the thinking required to keep it functioning.
“It helps that I’ve been here this long. I feel the beat of this building. I know the facility well. I know what’s involved. I know the equipment in place, and I understand the process,” Szabat said.
That would be his best advice to the next engineer in charge, when he retires. “Maintain the basics, upgrade the infrastructure. When I was hired, the facility was relatively new. But I knew what would come next. I’d advise that person to keep a close eye on an aging facility. Architecturally, it’s still a very attractive building, but the infrastructure is aging.”
It takes a team to maintain a venue like Shaw Convention Centre and Szabat believes it’s worth taking the time to find people with the right chemistry to be on that team. Whether it’s good engineering or a successful sports franchise, the team must be dedicated, understand the job and take it seriously.
“You need to have your heart in this work. It’s very interesting and challenging. You are never bored on this job.”


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SPINNING, SNIPING, SCALPING
 
Posted: 1 Apr 2017, 3:00 pm

bots1.png

Legislation like the BOTS Act of 2016 [Better Online Ticket Sales] in the U.S. will not solve the increasingly intrusive problem of robots gobbling up primary market seats on the internet, but it’s a start. However, before the BOTS Act even has a bite, ticketing companies and venues must put deterrents in place. Without something the ticketbuying software called bots must circumvent to score tickets, no law is broken.
Rami Essaid, Distil Networks, talked about the BOTS Act during INTIX this year and followed it up with a free webinar on bots and what to do about them. His most attentive audience was from theaters that have booked “Hamilton” for its summer run.
Press releases and conferences heralding the BOTS Act and the fact it is illegal to purchase performance tickets online using robots is a start. Essaid recommended that avenue. Wharton Center for the Arts, East Lansing, Mich., is one that took a PR approach to the problem.
“My biggest recommendation is exactly that — venues and artists need to continue to talk about this and say it’s a big issue,” said Essaid.
Beyond that, venue managers need to be well informed on the issue and the potential solutions, though it’s generally the ticket broker who has the power to put deterrents in place. Essaid and Niels Sodemann, CEO of Queue-it, conducted the webinar on how the BOTS Act impacts premium on sales and the ticketing industry’s ecosystem, revealing that anytime they hear about a show selling out in a minute or two, they know there are bots at play.
It’s not possible to process those orders on the fastest, most robust ticketing site in less than about 20 minutes, Sodemann said.
During the webinar, they defined the various methods used by bots today, warning that the minute one avenue closes, another is found. Methods of buying up tickets before the general public makes it into the queue include scalping, which is buying multiple tickets multiple times with bots, as many as quickly as possible; sniping, which is when a bot sits and watches the inventory, waiting till the end to grab what it wants; and spinning, which they called the “absolute worst.” With spinning, the robot can hold the tickets in its shopping cart and export them to the secondary market without ever buying them until they are resold.
It’s all done at superhuman speed.
Legislation to combat bots has passed in the U.S., is being addressed in the U.K. and is under consideration in Canada. But the problem is global. If someone is scalping, spinning or sniping tickets in China, the laws can’t stop them.
The goal in ticketing is that real users are able to buy tickets and are happy with the transaction. To accomplish that, ticketing companies and venues have to be forever vigilant, ahead of the curve and nimble in reacting.
Legislation could even add to the problem. If, for example, CAPTCHA (a manually entered code to prove the user is not a robot) is required of every customer who buys a ticket, transaction time would slow dramatically. And CAPTCHA can be bypassed in seconds by programming a bot with 30,000 different words.
More and more artists are demanding ticketing companies have anti-bot protection in place. But it’s not illegal to buy and resell tickets. Sodemann said he can find 10 websites that teach the technology needed to spin tickets. The price of learning is down to about $1,000. Go to TicketBots.net, he suggested, or look up “technology broker spinnerbot.”
“It’s not an expensive endeavor for the bad guys; there are pre-made tools and open-source solutions to defeat you,” Essaid warned.
One of the major issues is account takeovers, Essaid added. Estimates suggest there are over 1.5 billion compromised user names and passwords out there, which can be run against your site. Breaches are at an all time high, and 50 percent of bot attacks start with stolen credentials.
Queue-it has developed a tool to prevent spinner bots by taking everybody into a pre-qualifying queue where they are assigned an identifier and random number. They then have a fair chance of getting the ticket.
Whatever ticketers do, the key is to not ignore the issue. “You have to take a multi-faceted approach to address every angle; there is no silver bullet,” Essaid said.
Distil offers a Hi-Def Fingerprint option that profiles the actual machine being used, not the IP address or cookies, which means scalpers must buy a new computer to make another purchase.
Today, venues are writing language into RFPs for ticketing services that require bot mitigation solutions, Essaid said. Companies like Ticketmaster have launched Verified Fan, an attempt to identify human buyers from bots.
“If the artists and venues start clamoring about bots, we will see those ticket brokers and technology platforms take it more seriously,” Essaid said.
Meanwhile, “just get something in place,” Essaid said. Go beyond protection from the site going down to protection against bots buying all the tickets. “If the bot is written well enough, it’s not going to take down the site but will beat out all the humans to get the tickets. Bots today are as clever and incognito as possible.”
“At the end of the day, this is an arms race,” Essaid said. “You don’t build it once and forget about it because the technology of the bots keeps advancing and there’s enough money in this it’s worth investing in.”
Education is a big part of dealing with this issue, he added. Both the industry and the public need to understand what’s going on. While Essaid admits to being somewhat critical of the BOTS Act of 2016 because the law has minimal bite and the problem is  global, he is looking forward to a few high profile prosecutions, just to increase awareness.


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LETTER FROM MAUREEN ANDERSEN, President/CEO, International Ticketing Association
 
Posted: 1 Apr 2017, 3:00 pm

We all have an “elevator speech” for those moments when someone asks us “what do you do?”  I am sure, that like me, you have probably honed and distilled the speech into something like “ticketing for live events…entertainment…show biz,” then followed by even further explanations as they look at you strangely like a quizzical cocker spaniel.
This happened to me over the weekend when I struggled to explain to a good friend what INTIX does and is; what this association represents and what I did for my career, our life’s work. It dawned on me that keeping it simple is usually best. I turned to my friend Steve and said, “Well yes, when you first bought a ticket it might have been at a Ticketron outlet like I did at the Peaches Record Warehouse when I was young. But it is more than that now….we have evolved. For every legitimate ticket that someone buys to a game, a show, a concert, you have to remember that we are the professionals who make it all work.  We are the ones who set it up, create it, engineer it, who make it all work right…the professionals behind it all. We are the specialists.”
The truth is that no one thinks much about the tickets or the mechanics of it all, except when something goes wrong. It is quite the testament to the enduring transparency and trust of our industry that no one notices for the vast majority of their entertainment ticketing transactions.
The INTIX Code of Ethics promotes the success of the industry and its members by encouraging the highest standards of conduct for entertainment ticketing professionals to ensure public confidence in the integrity of the profession and the industry. As our long-time member and ethics champion Jack Lucas said, “Many years ago, I felt that there was a need to create ‘the code,’ because of the type of work that ticketing professionals do. We have always conducted ourselves in a professional, ethical and honest manner, but no one had actually taken the time to create a Code of Ethics.”
No one cares or pays attention until they are affected and the public is being affected. Countless states, cities, municipalities and countries are now grappling with the legalities, technology, fairness and access issues around the ticket transaction. It is incumbent that we, the ticket professional, continue to adhere to our road map and our code of honest, transparent and ethical behavior. And thanks to my friend Steve for the simple “what do you do” question on a Sunday afternoon. 

Please visit www.intix.org or call +1 212.629.4036 for further information on becoming a member and INTIX’s 36th Annual Conference & Exhibition including sponsorship, exhibiting and advertising.


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TALKING POINTS
 
Posted: 1 Apr 2017, 2:15 pm

Leah_Beasley_Headshot.jpgLEAH BEASLEY
ASSOCIATE ATHLETIC DIRECTOR, MARKETING AND FAN ENGAGEMENT, MISSISSIPPI STATE UNIV.
CURRENT CITY: Starkville, Miss.
HOMETOWN: Ruston, La.
UNIVERSITY: Louisiana Tech, Ruston.
FIRST JOB IN THE INDUSTRY: Athletic marketing GA and then assistant athletic director/marketing and game management at Louisiana Tech.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE PART OF THE JOB: Making the fans and student athletes happy.
WHAT WOULD YOU BE DOING IF YOU WEREN'T DOING THIS: Leading tours on a catamaran in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.
MENTOR: Scott Stricklin: he embodies and embraces all of the qualities of a great leader.
FREE TIME PURSUITS: Walk my dog, Tayeaux, to the river or lake and go boating and waterskiing.
TOP SONG ON YOUR PLAYLIST RIGHT NOW: Something by Lauren Daigle.
MOST EMBARRASSING SONG ON YOUR PLAYLIST RIGHT NOW: “Call Me Maybe” by Carly Rae Jepsen.
WHAT WOULD PEOPLE BE SURPRISED TO LEARN ABOUT YOU: I eat everybody’s leftovers. They call me Leftover Leah.
BEST ADVICE EVER RECEIVED: Be yourself.
IF YOU COULD HAVE AN ENDLESS SUPPLY OF ANYTHING, WHAT WOULD IT BE: Rocky Road ice cream.
BIGGEST GUILTY PLEASURE: Taco Bell.
FAVORITE LIVE EVENT YOU'VE ATTENDED: Indigo Girls in Atlanta at Lilith Fair and then again at Duling Hall, Jackson, Miss.
DESIRED SUPER POWER: To fly.

 

Malu_landscape.jpgMALU BARRIOS
DIRECTOR OF EVENT SERVICES, ICC SYDNEY
CURRENT CITY & HOMETOWN: Sydney, Australia
UNIVERSITY: Univ. of the Philippines, Quezon City.
FIRST JOB IN THE INDUSTRY: Banquet sales executive, The Manila Hotel.
HOW DID YOU GET YOUR CURRENT JOB: Progression within AEG Ogden. Prior to my current job, I opened and managed the Darwin (Australia) Convention Centre for eight years. Then I moved to Sydney to run the Sydney Exhibition Centre at Glebe Island, which was the interim venue that hosted Sydney’s trade and consumer exhibitions during the build of ICC Sydney.
YOUR FAVORITE PART OF THE JOB: The people that I deal with – clients, stakeholders, suppliers or our team. I learn something new every day.
WHAT WOULD YOU BE DOING IF YOU WEREN'T IN YOUR JOB: Running my own bed and breakfast.
WHAT DID YOU THINK YOU WOULD DO WHEN YOU WERE A KID: Become a nun.
WHAT DO YOU DO IN YOUR FREE TIME: Stand up paddle boarding, walking my dog and discovering Sydney.
ONE-DAY ESCAPE: Leura, a little town in the World Heritage-listed Blue Mountains, 90 minutes from Sydney.
TOP SONG ON YOUR PLAYLIST RIGHT NOW: “Stronger” by Kelly Clarkson.
MOST EMBARRASSING SONG ON YOUR PLAYLIST RIGHT NOW: “Even Now” by Barry Manilow.
WHAT WOULD PEOPLE BE SURPRISED TO LEARN ABOUT YOU: I am really an introvert.
BEST ADVICE  EVER RECEIVED: Have a vision for everything you do. Learn how to compromise along the way, but never lose sight of that vision. It’s okay to make mistakes.

 

Otto_Benedict.jpgOTTO BENEDICT
SVP & GM OF FACILITIES, LA FOOTBALL CLUB
CURRENT CITY: Redondo Beach, Calif.
HOMETOWN: Pasadena, Calif.
UNIVERSITY: California Polytechnic, Pomona; California State Long Beach.
FIRST JOB IN THE INDUSTRY: Event operations associate at Wasserman Media Group, where I broke down events for the Los Angeles Avengers Arena Football team.
HOW DID YOU GET YOUR CURRENT JOB: I got a job with AEG at Home Depot Center, which is now StubHub Center in Carson. I left AEG to go to work with a local event company and that all helped me land the new job with LAFC.
ONE-DAY ESCAPE: Princeville, Kauai, Hawaii.
TOP SONG ON YOUR PLAYLIST RIGHT NOW: Anything by Chris Stapleton.
MOST EMBARRASSING SONG ON YOUR PLAYLIST RIGHT NOW: “Ice, Ice, Baby” by Vanilla Ice. I have no shame about it; I turn it up loud when I hear it.
FAMOUS PERSON IN HISTORY YOU WOULD LIKE TO MEET: The designer of the Roman Colosseum.
WHAT WOULD PEOPLE BE SURPRISED TO LEARN ABOUT YOU: I have a huge appreciation for art and live theater.
BEST ADVICE EVER RECEIVED: Do what’s best for the building. Today I turn it into ‘do what’s best for the club.’


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FROM THE EDITOR
 
Posted: 1 Apr 2017, 2:00 pm

Legends are people who listen to, challenge and support their cohorts. They lead by example. They are inclusive and inspiring.
Susan O’Malley, who worked for the late Abe Pollin, founder of Monumental Sports & Entertainment, Washington, D.C.; and Peter Luukko, who worked for the late Ed Snider, founder of Comcast Spectacor, were often hilarious and more than a little self-revealing as they talked about working for legends over decades, day to day, during SEVT.
Abe Pollin was an awesome philanthropist. He would read in the newspaper about someone who had no car to get to work and would call Susan to buy that person a car.
He built two arenas with his own money, something Ed Snider did as well. Susan recalled the trip to a cornfield in Landover, Md., where Abe said, “I’m going to build the best arena in the country right here.” That was Capital Centre. And he did it again 20 years later, taking her to a crossing in downtown D.C. where you rolled through stoplights for fear of carjackers, and said the same thing. Isn’t this a great place for an arena?
Ed Snider always encouraged the entrepreneurial spirit in others. Peter recalled the summer ribfest he tried at Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia, that lost $30,000 the first year, $90,000 the second. Ed declared his love of the ribfest both times. He did not want to quench Peter’s entrepreneurial spirit.
And it paid off. To get people to come to Wells Fargo Center early during the hockey playoffs, Peter and the Flyers created a block party, complete with those same rib restaurants, those same cool bands. Each time, they made hundreds of thousands of dollars. “Sometimes your failure is the root of your next success,” Peter told the Sport, Entertainment and Venues Tomorrow crowd in Columbia,S.C.
Legends have big personalities and big quirks. Asked the most difficult thing in working for their particular legend, Peter quipped: “His four wives.” Every time Ed remarried, Peter had to redecorate the Director’s Room.
Susan said they secretly called Abe “Mr. Magoo.” He liked to play the dumb blond, pretending he wasn’t the smartest one in the room even when he was. He taught her to keep her eye on the ball. “I can get a little passionate, a little crazy, and he would say, “‘End game, end game.’”
Asked when they personally knew they loved the business, Susan admitted to being a fan of the National Anthem, not just the song and sentiment, but that moment in time. “I saw the National Anthem 1,018 times; I never missed it. I loved that moment because I would look around and think every sign, every person, every giveaway — that had been my job and this had come together,” Susan said.
That story prompted Peter to share that he plays over and under for $10 with his hockey GM — would the National Anthem go over two minutes, three seconds? The longest ever was 2:20.
God grant you many years to enjoy the meaningful moments, the Anthems of our biz.


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Raiders Brand, Vegas Brand Unite
 
Posted: 29 Mar 2017, 6:00 pm

Rendering of the $1.9-billion Las Vegas Raiders Stadium. (Courtesy: MANICA Architecture)

And Vegas rejoiced. After over a year of intense speculation, regulatory scrutiny and dashed dreams due to a fourth-quarter financing fumble, the National Football League (NFL) has approved the relocation of the Oakland Raiders to a shiny new $1.9-billion stadium in Las Vegas.

“This is unbelievable news for the city and something we have been working hard on for quite some time,” said Mike Newcomb, executive director, Sam Boyd Stadium, University of Las Vegas (UNLV) and a member of the Las Vegas Stadium Authority Board, which is the oversight organization in charge of the the project. “Being a member of the board is exciting and being able to be on the ground floor of the stadium development and how the facility will be managed is an exciting opportunity for all the board members.”

“This is a huge step forward both for the Raiders and our community,” said Jeremy Aguero, principal analyst and lead staff, Applied Analysis, the firm hired by the Southern Nevada Tourism Committee to study the possibilities of building a new sports stadium in Clark County, Nev., and enticing an NFL team to move to the desert city to play there.

“We have a substantial amount of work still to do in order to see the Raiders actually play in Las Vegas,” he added.

The NFL franchise owners met in Phoenix on Monday morning. After the votes were tallied, the vote stood at 31-1, with the Miami Dolphins being the sole 'no' vote. Dolphins' owner Stephen Ross released a statement on Monday saying, "we as a league owe it to the fans to do everything we can to stay in the communities that have supported us until all options have been exhausted,” explaining his decision to block the Raiders' move.

The Raiders are expected to play the next two seasons in Oakland, and possibly a third, before playing their first game in Las Vegas in 2020.

The effort to lure the NFL to Vegas began when Aguero drafted the first bill, Senate Bill One, that went to the Nevada legislature in October 2016. It called for an increase in the Clark County hotel room tax to fund $750 million in construction and infrastructure that would make up the state’s contribution to the in-the-works stadium.

The rest of the capital will come from the Raiders ($500 million) and Bank of America ($650 million). Las Vegas Sands casino magnate Sheldon Adelson was originally pegged to supply the last piece of the financing but pulled out late last year over concerns about how the eventual revenue would be split.

“At the point that Mr. Adelson stepped away from the deal and left a $650-million void, certainly the deal wasn’t going to be viable,” said Aguero. “Bank of America stepped in and made a deal viable again.”

The combined event revenue in the stadium’s first year of operation is expected to hit $263 million. Including ancillary revenue, such as naming rights, the total is expected to reach $290 million. Net operating income projections for the first year of operation in 2020 is expected to be in the $20-million to $25-million range.

The Raiders’ revenues from the new stadium is expected to be around $130 million and would come from broadcast rights, premium seating and suite sales, concessions, tickets, merchandise and stadium naming rights.

But the value to Las Vegas is much, much higher according to Pat Christenson, Las Vegas Events. “Estimates are $450 to $500 million a year to be added to the Las Vegas economy from the new stadium,” he said. “Public financing is always controversial. The way I look at it, we get a $1.9-billion stadium for $750 million and, with it, we get an NFL team that travels strongly.”

Christenson sees this as a perfect partnership. “The Raiders are the perfect team for Vegas,” he said. “The brand of the Raiders combined with the brand of Vegas make a superstar brand.”

Regional Raiders fans and local Raiders fans are expected to make up the fan base for the games, according to Christenson, and he expects that the people who come to visit “will spend a lot of money on a ticket or they can watch the game in one of the 40 to 50 casinos that will roll out the red carpet and create an experience every weekend for the football games.”

“This deal opens up infinite possibilities to secure events that we just couldn’t get before,” he said. “All the events that are now happening in Dallas, Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York we can attract now.”

“Many of the events we do get like Monster Jam World Finals; the Vegas Bowl; rugby; soccer and neutral-site college football have been restricted by a 30,000-capacity stadium, which we will now be able to grow. We can now get the Copa América Football Championship; The FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association) World Cup, as well all the International Friendlies soccer matches; boxing; UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) and concerts.”

Christenson also thought that the new stadium could compete for the Final Four; the Pro Bowl; the draft, and, of course, the Super Bowl. “Just imagine a Super Bowl in Las Vegas,” he offered. “This will also help UNLV recruit and upgrade the types of teams they play.”

It is expected that the UNLV football team will play at the new stadium. “Part of the state legislation requires that Sam Boyd Stadium will stop hosting events when the new stadium opens so we are going to concentrate on all our great events we currently host and make them the best we can over the next three years,” said Newcomb.

The Stadium Authority Board has to complete its work by October, according to Senate Bill One, but can extend the deadline six months until April. “As of right now the goal is to have the stadium commence construction either very late this year or in the first quarter if 2018,” said Aguero.

An official location for the stadium has not been picked, but according to Aguero, most of the discussion by the Stadium Authority Board has focused on the so-called ‘Russell 62’ site, which is west of Mandalay Bay and across the I-15. Aguero believes the land is currently owned by “a consortium of banks” and that “ultimately the land has to be purchased by the developer of the stadium and it has to be transferred to the Stadium Authority Board.”

“I like the Russell 62 lot location, it’s a great spot” said Christenson. “It’s the perfect compromise. It’s close to where everything is and has decent access to the main part of the I-15 and the roads that head directly west.”

Aside from the Raiders and UNLV football the stadium is expected to host concerts; special events like the Las Vegas Sevens Rugby Tournament; corporate events and, possibly, a Major League Soccer team. “The Southern Nevada Tours and Infrastructure committee suggests that the stadium will host about 46 events every year,” said Aguero.

The legislation calls for the Stadium Authority Board to enter into an operating agreement with a ‘stadium events company’ to run the facility. “That could be the Raiders or a partner with the Raiders,” said Aguero. “Then the Raiders, or their partner, could hire a large operating company like SMG or AEG to run the building.”

The Stadium Authority Board will meet in April to begin deliberations around the important documents such as the development agreement, the lease agreement and the joint-use agreement between UNLV and the stadium events company.


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

Pierre Boulez Hall, Berlin.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Ed Sheeran

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Wynkoopthumb.jpgJimWynkoop

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

HOT TICKETS is a weekly summary of the top acts and ticket sales as reported to VT PULSE. Following are the top 20 concerts and events, the top 5 in each seating capacity category, which took place between Feb. 21-March 21.

15,001 or More Seats

10,001-15,000 Seats

5,001-10,000 Seats

5,000 or Fewer Seats

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 


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

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

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

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

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

But it almost didn’t happen.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


 


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

Rendering of SunTrust Park, Atlanta.

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

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

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

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

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

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

unspecified4.jpgRendering of SunTrust Park, Atlanta, Ga.

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Billy Joel performing at Madison Square Garden, New York

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

(Courtesy of Distil Networks.)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Children's Mercy Park Food and Beverage Price Decreases

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

 


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

Newly installed signage lights up PPG Arena, Pittsburgh.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Greg_Janese_2_copy1.jpgGreg Janese

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

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

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

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

Mike_G_UTA_169.jpg

Mike Guirguis

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

Bex_Majors_UTA_6518-1.jpgBex Majors 

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

 

Billy_Wood.jpg

Billy Wood

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

 

 

 

 

 

 


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

No anticipated groundbreaking date has been set, he added.


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

Orlando City Soccer Club's paperless app.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Rossetti helped design the stadium when it was originally built.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 


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

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

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

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

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

15,001 or More Seats

10,001-15,000 Seats

5,001-10,000 Seats

5,000 or Fewer Seats

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

CLICK HERE TO VIEW THE SMP 100 CHART


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

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

Congratulations to our 2017 VT Generation Next Award Recipients!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Cabo Loaded Nachos.

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

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

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

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

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

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

The initial eight partners for Long Island Taste are:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Virginia and Maryland tackle ticket resale bills.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Feldman.jpgMaryland State Senator Brian Feldman

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 


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

image0041.jpg

John Graham

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 


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

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

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

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

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

15,001 or More Seats

10,001-15,000 Seats

5,001-10,000 Seats

5,000 or Fewer Seats

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 


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

Rendering of The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches, Fla.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 


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

Swami Bill's Flea Circus at Denver County Fair

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


 


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

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


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

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


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

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

 

CONCESSIONS BY THE NUMBERS

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

 


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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

 

SMART FINANCIAL CENTRE FACTOIDS

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

 

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

 

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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MANAGEMENT
 
Posted: 1 Mar 2017, 5:00 pm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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Groups in Greater Boston utilize college campuses
 
Posted: 31 Oct 2016, 8:00 pm

An exceedingly intelligent choice for meetings and events.

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CEIR Releases Third Report in Attendee Retention Insights Series
 
Posted: 24 May 2016, 1:00 am
DALLAS, 24 May 2016 ? The Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR) announced today the release of the third report in its newest series, 2016 Attendee Retention Insights Part Three: Education Content that Builds a Loyal Alumni Attendee Audience. This landmark body of research offers organizers a comprehensive resource to help understand the profile of attendees that visit an exhibition repeatedly and the content that turns them into loyal customers.

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CEIR Releases Second Report in Attendee Retention Insights Series
 
Posted: 10 May 2016, 1:00 am
DALLAS, 10 May 2016 ? The Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR) announced today the release of the second report in its newest series, 2016 Attendee Retention Insights Part Two: Exhibition Floor Features that Build a Loyal Alumni Attendee Audience. This landmark body of research offers organizers a comprehensive resource to help understand the profile of attendees that visit an exhibition repeatedly and the content that turns them into loyal customers

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Fourth Annual IAEE Women’s Leadership Forum Another Sold Out Event
 
Posted: 4 May 2016, 1:00 am
DALLAS, 4 May 2016 ? The International Association of Exhibitions and Events? (IAEE) celebrates another successful Women?s Leadership Forum on 26 April 2016 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C. More than 200 attendees sold out this year?s event which featured education sessions for women at all stages of their career.

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IAEE Now Accepting Applications for 2016 Bob Dallmeyer Education Fund Grants
 
Posted: 3 May 2016, 1:00 am
DALLAS, 3 May 2016 ? The International Association of Exhibitions and Events? (IAEE) has opened the application process for the 2016 Bob Dallmeyer Education Fund Grants, which aid qualified professionals in their pursuit of continuing education and career development in the exhibitions and events industry.

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IAEE Now Accepting 2016 Helen Brett Scholarship Applications
 
Posted: 2 May 2016, 1:00 am
DALLAS, 2 May 2016 ? The International Association of Exhibitions and EventsTM (IAEE) has opened the application process for the Helen Brett Scholarship awards in 2016. The scholarship serves to promote the exhibitions and events industry by attracting college-level students into the field of study and encouraging their pursuit with financial support.

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Conference center education shifts dramatically
 
Posted: 30 Apr 2016, 8:00 pm

The times they are a changin’, and all for the better from this reporter’s perspective.

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CEIR Debuts New Report Series Focusing on Attendee Retention
 
Posted: 28 Apr 2016, 1:00 am
DALLAS, 28 April 2016 ? The Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR) announced today the release of the first report in its newest series, 2016 Attendee Retention Insights. Reports from this exciting new, landmark study offers organizers a comprehensive resource to help understand the profile of attendees that visit an exhibition repeatedly and the content that turns them into a loyal fanbase. The series consists of five reports, beginning with Part One: Basics for Creating Your Attendee Retention Strategy: Tracking, Profiling and Why They Come Back.

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IAEE Public Events Council Releases 2016 Survey Report
 
Posted: 26 Apr 2016, 1:00 am
DALLAS, 26 April 2016 ? Today, the International Association of Exhibitions and Events? (IAEE) Public Events Council released its Public Events Industry Report: 2015 Results. In 2009, the Public Events Council distributed a survey to public event organizers across 22 public events industry sectors to examine overall industry performance. The report identified which public events industry sectors fared well, which sectors struggled and their expectations for the future. As a follow-up to the benchmark report, the survey is repeated annually with subsequent reports detailing individual and comparative statistics over the years.

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Your Industry - Your Voice!
 
Posted: 22 Apr 2016, 1:00 am

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CEM Week - Register Now!
 
Posted: 18 Apr 2016, 1:00 am

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2016 CEIR Index Report Now Available
 
Posted: 13 Apr 2016, 1:00 am
DALLAS, 12 April 2016 ? Today, the Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR) released the 2016 CEIR Index Report. The CEIR Index analyzes the 2015 exhibition industry and provides a future outlook for the next three years. Despite widespread pessimism and deceleration of activity during the fourth quarter, the U.S. economy still displayed significant signs of strength in 2015, led by personal consumption and residential construction. These strengths were offset partially by deterioration in energy development and net exports to produce real GDP growth of 2.4%. According to CEIR?s current projection, 2016 growth will be about the same, or perhaps slightly weaker as the trade gap widens further, before GDP accelerates in 2018 (see Figure 1).

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IAEE Renews Reciprocity Agreement with JEXA
 
Posted: 5 Apr 2016, 1:00 am
DALLAS, 5 April 2016 ? The International Association of Exhibitions and Events? (IAEE) and the Japan Exhibition Association (JEXA) announced the renewal of a reciprocity agreement to benefit members of both organizations. Originally signed in 2012, the agreement renews the commitment of IAEE and JEXA to promote and develop the exhibitions and events industries in their respective countries through membership collaboration.

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IAEE Announces New Chapter in India
 
Posted: 4 Apr 2016, 1:00 am
DALLAS, 4 April 2016 ? The International Association of Exhibitions and Events? (IAEE) announces the addition of its latest chapter in Asia, the IAEE India Chapter. The IAEE Board of Directors approved the creation of this new chapter during its meeting held 31 March 2016 at the HITEX Exhibition Center in Hyderabad, India.

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Convention centers transform to meet attendees’ needs
 
Posted: 1 Apr 2016, 8:00 pm

Generic big-box convention centers seem to be going the way of the buggy whip and typewriter.

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IAEE MATSO Council Adds New Content for May Meeting
 
Posted: 31 Mar 2016, 1:00 am
DALLAS, 31 March 2016 ? The International Association of Exhibitions and Events? (IAEE) MATSO Council?s program for this year?s MATSO Spring Program on 23-24 May 2016 at McCormick Place in Chicago, Ill. will focus on exchanging information that address challenges, share best practices and understand the changing landscape of Tier 1 cities.

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IAEE Awards Jacqueline Russo with 2016 Woman of Achievement Award
 
Posted: 30 Mar 2016, 1:00 am
DALLAS, 30 March 2016 ? The International Association of Exhibitions and Events? (IAEE) proudly congratulates Jacqueline Russo, Vice President of Kuehne + Nagel, Inc., as this year?s recipient of the IAEE Woman of Achievement Award. This award recognizes a woman who has led the way in the advancement of women in the exhibitions and events industry, exhibited outstanding leadership, and made significant contributions to the industry and her community.

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CEIR Releases New Industry Insight Series Report Written by Candy Adams
 
Posted: 29 Mar 2016, 1:00 am
DALLAS, 29 March 2016 ? Today the Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR) announces a new Industry Insight Series report, 99 Cost-Savings Tips and Tricks for Exhibit Managers written by Candy Adams, CTSM, CME, CEM, CMP, CMM, a revered and well-known exhibition industry veteran and owner of ?The Booth Mom? Trade Show Consulting.

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IAEE Announces 2016 Krakoff Leadership Institute
 
Posted: 28 Mar 2016, 1:00 am
DALLAS, 28 March 2016 ? Registration is now open for the International Association of Exhibitions and Events? (IAEE) Krakoff Leadership Institute (KLI) to be held 7-9 August 2016 at The Waterfront Beach Resort, A Hilton Hotel in Huntington Beach, Calif. The program is open to IAEE members interested in enhancing their strategic skills, and broadening their knowledge as current and future leaders in the exhibitions and events industry.

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IAEE Congratulates its 2016 International Excellence Award Recipient
 
Posted: 17 Mar 2016, 1:00 am
DALLAS, 17 March 2016 ? The International Association of Exhibitions and Events? (IAEE) congratulates Edward J. Krause III (Ned), President and CEO of E.J. Krause & Associates, Inc. (EJK) as this year?s recipient of the IAEE International Excellence Award. The IAEE International Excellence Award recognizes an individual or organization that has made exceptional strides in creating, launching and managing an international event in the exhibitions and events industry on an international scale.

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CEIR Releases Final Digital Toolkit Report
 
Posted: 15 Mar 2016, 1:00 am
DALLAS, 15 March 2015 ? Today, the Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR) announced the release of the final report in the CEIR Digital Toolkit series. The new report, entitled Focus Report on Exhibition Organizer Onsite and Post-event Offerings provides an in-depth look at attendee preferences compared to business-to-business exhibition offerings for show mobile apps, as well as other onsite digital amenities and post-event digital communications.

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IAEE MATSO Council Announces City Working Group Initiative, Finalizes Governance Procedures
 
Posted: 9 Mar 2016, 1:00 am
DALLAS, 9 March 2016 ? The International Association of Exhibitions and Events? (IAEE) MATSO Council announced it will resurrect city task force updates following a recent council meeting that focused on future programming and governance procedures.

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IAEE Announces 2016 Call for Nominations for Individual Awards
 
Posted: 8 Mar 2016, 1:00 am
DALLAS, 8 March 2016 ? Today, the International Association of Exhibitions and Events? (IAEE) has opened the Call for Nominations for its annual awards program to recognize exceptional professionals in the exhibitions and events industry. Industry professionals who meet the outlined criteria may be nominated for any of the awards listed below, and recipients will be honored at Expo! Expo! IAEE?s Annual Meeting & Exhibition to be held 6-8 December in Anaheim, Calif.

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Conference center experts weigh in on five hot trends
 
Posted: 30 Apr 2015, 8:00 pm

Here is the top feedback when it comes to staging cutting-edge conference meets.

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Convention center tradeshows focus on interaction
 
Posted: 31 Mar 2015, 8:00 pm

Are you fully engaging your attendees?

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State College brims with entertaining endeavors
 
Posted: 30 Oct 2014, 8:00 pm

When it comes to putting fun on the agenda, State College is one smart choice.

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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Ebola and the venue industry
 
Posted: 16 Oct 2014, 2:57 pm
IAVM is actively monitoring the impact of recent Ebola incidents. At the direction of Chair Kim Bedier, CFE ? in collaboration with our Industry Affairs Council and key IAVM staff ? an Ebola task force has been formed to work on relevant communications to the IAVM community.

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Elmer Randolph 'Randy' Pugh
 
Posted: 16 Oct 2014, 2:57 pm
Randy was employed with the City of Virginia Beach as the Operations Supervisor of the Pavilion Convention Center from 1980-1999.

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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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Wesley Burtch Dickson
 
Posted: 16 Oct 2014, 2:57 pm
Wes founded his business, Advanced Equipment Corp., in 1957. In 1959, the business moved to Orange County, California.

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Cookie-cutter conference centers are a thing of the past
 
Posted: 30 Apr 2014, 8:00 pm

Today's conference centers are more about standing out than fitting in.

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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.

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Exclusive: HSN Partners With Las Vegas' Venetian On Concert Series
 
Posted: 25 Jan 2013, 3:33 pm
HSN is taking its Live music division on the road with a Las Vegas residency at the Venetial Resort Hotel Casino.The series kicks off Feb. 8 with Michael Bolton, who will debut his new studio album, "Ain’t No Mountain High Enough: A Tribute to Hitsville U.S.A." with Motown greats Smokey Robinson, Valerie Simpson and Martha Reeves as well as Kelly Rowland and Melanie Fiona

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Exclusive: HSN Partners With Las Vegas' Venetian On Concert Series
 
Posted: 25 Jan 2013, 3:33 pm
HSN is taking its Live music division on the road with a Las Vegas residency at the Venetial Resort Hotel Casino.The series kicks off Feb. 8 with Michael Bolton, who will debut his new studio album, "Ain’t No Mountain High Enough: A Tribute to Hitsville U.S.A." with Motown greats Smokey Robinson, Valerie Simpson and Martha Reeves as well as Kelly Rowland and Melanie Fiona

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Coachella 2013 Lineup: Blur, Phoenix, Red Hot Chili Peppers Headlining
 
Posted: 25 Jan 2013, 12:35 am
Blur, the Stone Roses, Phoenix and Red Hot Chili Peppers top the lineup for the 2013 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, which was unveiled late on Thursday night (Jan. 24). The annual fest is set to once again take over Indio, Calif. on consecutive weekends, this year from Apr. 12-14 and Apr. 19-21.

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Ticketmaster Canada Names Patti-Anne Tarlton SVP/COO
 
Posted: 24 Jan 2013, 6:09 pm
Ticketmaster Canada has appointed Patti-Anne Tarlton senior VP and chief operating officer. In turn, current COO Tom Worrall will become chairman of Ticketmaster Canada.

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Exclusive: Flaming Lips to Star in Hyundai Super Bowl Commercial
 
Posted: 24 Jan 2013, 4:32 pm
When the Flaming Lips formed nearly 30 years ago, the notion that the group would be performing a song called "Sun Blows Up Today" in a Super Bowl ad would have been as surreal some of their lyrics. But that's exactly what will happen when the group stars in one of Hyundai's four spots during the big game,  a 60-second commercial that will feature the band on-camera performing a brand-new, custom-written song bearing that name.

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Exclusive: Flaming Lips to Star in Hyundai Super Bowl Commercial
 
Posted: 24 Jan 2013, 4:32 pm
When the Flaming Lips formed nearly 30 years ago, the notion that the group would be performing a song called "Sun Blows Up Today" in a Super Bowl ad would have been as surreal some of their lyrics. But that's exactly what will happen when the group stars in one of Hyundai's four spots during the big game,  a 60-second commercial that will feature the band on-camera performing a brand-new, custom-written song bearing that name.

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Pepsi, Vevo to Spotlight Best New Artists, 'X Factor' Winner Tate Stevens During Grammys
 
Posted: 24 Jan 2013, 12:54 pm
Pepsi has announced collaborations with Pandora and Vevo for the Grammy Awards. With Vevo, Pepsi will produce a video series based around the Best New Artists nominees; and with Pandora the company will curate a Best New Artist mixtape as well as genre stations.

Read the full article

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Mnet America Hosting Grammy-Week Party With K-Pop Star Ailee
 
Posted: 24 Jan 2013, 9:43 am
Billboard can exclusively reveal when, where and who will be at Mnet America's 1st Annual Pre-Grammy Party featuring a K-pop starlet, YouTube sensation and "The Voice" contestants.

Read the full article

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13 Points to Watch at MIDEM 2013
 
Posted: 24 Jan 2013, 8:00 am
As the world's largest trade fair for the music industry, MIDEM can be daunting to navigate. Last year's gathering drew more than 6,850 attendees from 77 countries, representing 3,120 companies, including 155 startups. So, how best to manage MIDEM?

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

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Black Keys File Third Lawsuit Against 'Soundalikes' in TV Commercials
 
Posted: 23 Jan 2013, 6:50 pm
After settling two lawsuits with Pizza Hut and Home Depot in December over alleged use of its songs in commercials, the Black Keys have filed a third lawsuit -- this time, against Pinnacle Entertainment, which runs casinos throughout the United States, and Manhattan Production Music, a company that creates music for commercial advertising.

Read the full article

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Exclusive: Verizon Teams With Jill Scott for Black History Month Campaign
 
Posted: 23 Jan 2013, 6:24 pm
Verizon has teamed with Jill Scott for a multi-tiered print, TV and online advertising campaign to coincide with Black History Month, a rare artist endorsement deal for both parties, Billboard has learned.

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

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Ultra Music and Sony Announce Partnership, Patrick Moxey Named President of Electronic Music
 
Posted: 23 Jan 2013, 3:48 pm
Sony Music and Ultra Music -- the electronic/dance record label, publishing house, management company and media platform owned and operated by Patrick Moxey -- have announced a globe-spanning strategic partnership between the two companies. As part of the deal Moxey was named president of electronic music for Sony Music Worldwide.

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

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Searching For The Next 'Sugar Man'? Try 'Twenty Feet From Stardom'
 
Posted: 23 Jan 2013, 1:30 pm
This year's Sundance had a half-dozen music-driven docs, including: Dave Grohl's "Sound City," "History of the Eagles, Part One," "Pussy Riot -- A Punk Prayer," "Narco Culturo" and "Mussel Shoals" -- all fine films. But the power of Morgan Neville's "Twenty Feet From Stardom," a story chronicling of the lives of background singers who sang on era-defining records from the 1960s into the 1990s, is such that it transcends the typical music documentary ecliciting gasps of disbelief, spontaneous applause and tears. It's a winner.

Read the full article

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Exclusive: SFX Acquires ID&T, Voodoo Experience
 
Posted: 23 Jan 2013, 8:05 am
SFX Entertainment has added five new companies to its portfolio, including Voodoo Experience and ID&T -- the largest dance-event promoter in the world -- according to its president Robert F.X. Sillerman. While recent chatter has hinted that Insomniac Events, the producer of Electric Daisy Carnival, would imminently announce a sale to Sillerman, the ID&T news might make that less likely -- although Sillerman didn't rule it out...

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

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Three Directors Step Down at Sirius XM Radio as Liberty Media Takes Control
 
Posted: 22 Jan 2013, 4:50 pm
Leon Black, Lawrence Gilberti and Jack Shaw resign from the board of the satellite firm.  

Read the full article

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Billboard's New iPad App: Try It Now for Free!
 
Posted: 22 Jan 2013, 3:59 pm
Along with our fully revamped glossy magazine, which we unveiled today, Billboard has also introduced the new iPad edition of Billboard -- the complete weekly magazine reinvented for your iPad with interactive extras. Subscribe today to experience this week’s issue absolutely for free!

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

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Clive Davis To Speak At SXSW
 
Posted: 22 Jan 2013, 12:34 pm
Clive Davis will speak at South by Southwest (SXSW) Music and Media Conference and Festival on Thursday March 14, the festival announced today. His speech comes shortly after the release of his new autobiography “The Soundtrack of My Life.”

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

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Two Voices of the Rolling Stones Meet for the First Time at Sundance Screening
 
Posted: 22 Jan 2013, 10:32 am
Lisa Fischer has sung female lead parts for the Rolling Stones on every tour since 1989, but it wasn't until film director Morgan Neville assembled a meeting of backup singers at Sundance that Fischer and Merry Clayton, a crucial vocalist in the music of Mick Jagger and the boys, would be in the same room together.

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

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Warner Music, NMPA Reach Agreement on Royalty Rate for Music Videos
 
Posted: 21 Jan 2013, 2:43 pm
The Warner Music Group has become the second major label to agree to pay songwriters and publishers a royalty from revenue they derive from music videos, in a deal negotiated by the National Music Publishers' Association.

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

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'Pussy Riot - A Punk Prayer,' 'Twenty Feet From Stardom' Sell At Sundance
 
Posted: 21 Jan 2013, 6:17 am
Add “Pussy Riot — A Punk Prayer” to the growing music-centric documentaries sold at the Sundance Film Festival. HBO Docs acquired U.S. TV rights to the political documentary that received its world premiere Jan. 18. "Twenty Feet From Stardom," which tells the stories of several prominent backup singers, sold on Thursday to Radius and the Weinstein Co.

Read the full article

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Kim Dotcom Launches Mega, New File-Sharing Service
 
Posted: 19 Jan 2013, 4:09 pm
Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom has unveiled a new file-sharing website called Mega. "As of this minute one year ago #Megaupload was destroyed by the US Government," Dotcom tweeted on Saturday, along with a link to the new site.

Read the full article

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Dave Grohl's Sound City Players Tear It Up at Sundance
 
Posted: 19 Jan 2013, 2:05 pm
Hours after his "Sound City" documentary premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, Dave Grohl took 800 fans on a three-hour musical odyssey at Park City Live that emphasized his personal connection to the Van Nuys, Calif., recording studio his film chronicles.

Read the full article

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Obama Inauguration Music Guide: Katy Perry to Q-Tip
 
Posted: 19 Jan 2013, 1:41 pm
Just as Barack Obama's 2009 inauguration drew stars from Beyonce to Aretha Franklin, the president's re-election has led to another can't-miss week for music fans. We've hiked through Capital Hill's extensive inauguration schedule to bring you a list of the week's biggest balls.

Read the full article

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Sony/ATV's Martin Bandier on New, 'Quite Reasonable' Pandora Deal
 
Posted: 18 Jan 2013, 7:00 pm
Sony/ATV pulled a major coup earlier this week by negotiating a higher royalty rate from Pandora. Chairman/CEO Martin Bandier spoke with Billboard.biz about the deal.

Read the full article

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Backbeat: The Surreal APAP Convention Hall: From Tibetan Monks to Lez Zeppelin, Branson On the Road to Slask
 
Posted: 18 Jan 2013, 6:00 pm
In many regards the convention hall at the annual Association of Performing Arts Presenters in New York CIty resembles nothing so much as a Fellini film. Here, Tibetan Monks, Polish folk dancers, Lez Zeppelin and, of course, a golden praying mantis, all man booths before thousands of curators, agents, and promoters from across the country who trod the Hilton New York's carpeted aisles looking to book their 2014-2015 seasons.

Read the full article

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Six Music-Related Issues Facing This Administration and Congress
 
Posted: 18 Jan 2013, 4:45 pm
From performance royalties to deciding how musicians travel with their instruments on airplanes, numerous issues central to the music industry are alive Washington D.C. as the city prepares for the president inauguration on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

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

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Beyonce, Katy Perry, More Head to D.C. for Packed Slate of Obama Inauguration Events
 
Posted: 18 Jan 2013, 12:58 pm
Kelly Clarkson is a multiple nominee at next month's Grammy Awards, but what she's really excited about is another event where she'll be joined by Beyonce, Katy Perry, Stevie Wonder, Alicia Keys, Usher and Brad Paisley. Oh, and the president.

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

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NARM Names Muve Music's Jeff Toig, Dimple Records' Dilyn Radakovitz to Board
 
Posted: 18 Jan 2013, 10:34 am
Muve Music senior VP Jeff Toig and Dimple Records founder and owner Dilyn Radakovitz have joined the board of directors of both NARM, the music business trade association, and 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

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Backbeat: Carrie Underwood Celebrates No. 1 With 'Blown Away' Co-Writers Josh Kear and Chris Tompkins
 
Posted: 17 Jan 2013, 4:46 pm
Carrie Underwood joined Josh Kear and Chris Tompkins, the two songwriters who penned "Blown Away," at the CMA offices on Wednesday to celebrate their song hitting the top of the charts.

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

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Andre Rieu, Bieber's 'Believe' Tour Top Hot Tours Chart
 
Posted: 17 Jan 2013, 10:50 am
Classical music dominates this week's Hot Tours report with Dutch violinist and conductor André Rieu earning the No. 1 ranking, followed by Justin Bieber's Believe Tour return and Phish's sold-out show at Madison Square Garden.

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

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Business Matters: How Facebook Search Could Provide Cheap Market Research for Music Marketers
 
Posted: 16 Jan 2013, 8:13 pm
Facebook’s Graph Search doesn’t have a lot of obvious music uses but could end up being a free and useful tool for music marketers. As the Inside Facebook blog points out, the search tool provides an opportunity for businesses to conduct market research about specific groups of fans for free.

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

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Sony Music Boosts Digital Team With Ole Obermann and Mark Piibe
 
Posted: 16 Jan 2013, 10:29 am
In a statement today from Sony Music Entertainment's president of global digital business and U.S. sales Dennis Kooker, the company announced the creation and appointment of two new, digitally focused positions; current Sony Music executive Ole Obermann has been named executive vice president, digital partner development and sales, while Mark Piibe will be leaving EMI to take on the role of executive vice president, global business development and digital strategy.

Read the full article

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Next Big Sound's 2012 State of Online Music
 
Posted: 15 Jan 2013, 6:29 pm
Next Big Sound, the data analytics company, has released their 2012 State of Online Music report. Below is an outline of the report's key takeaways by Big Sound's data journalist Liv Buli.  

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

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Morning Fix: UMJ's Koike to Head EMI Japan; Justin Timberlake Single's Fast Start; Facebook's Mystery Announcement
 
Posted: 15 Jan 2013, 8:30 am
In today's Fix: Universal Music Japan CEO Kazuhiko Koike to head up EMI Japan; Justin Timberlake's long-awaited single "Suit and Tie" gets off to a fast start; today's Facebook mystery announcement; UK's HMV facing bankruptcy; Rolling Stones lead Hot Tours; Greg Sandoval leaving CNET; Arts & Crafts' tenth anniversary; Country Music Association is going to Disneyland Paris; and way more than you could ever fit into the world's largest bagel.  

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

............................................................



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.

Read the full article

............................................................



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.

Read the full article

............................................................



Virtual Visionaries
 
Posted: 25 Nov 2012, 7:00 pm
Emilie Barta and John Pollard aim to take the fear out of planning hybrid events

More...


Read the full article

............................................................



All in the Planning
 
Posted: 11 Jul 2012, 8:00 pm

More...


Read the full article

............................................................



Take 10 - Conference Centers
 
Posted: 11 Jun 2012, 8:00 pm
Take 10 - Conference Centers

More...


Read the full article

............................................................



Convention Center Contacts
 
Posted: 7 Jun 2012, 8:00 pm

More...


Read the full article

............................................................



New School
 
Posted: 30 Apr 2012, 8:00 pm

More...


Read the full article

............................................................



Final Bow
 
Posted: 28 Mar 2012, 8:00 pm

More...


Read the full article

............................................................



IACC Makes Global Push; Criteria to 'Evolve'
 
Posted: 21 Mar 2012, 8:00 pm

More...


Read the full article

............................................................



Convention Center Coming to Provo
 
Posted: 25 Jan 2012, 7:00 pm

More...


Read the full article

............................................................



Gambling Headed for Hawaii Conv. Center?
 
Posted: 24 Jan 2012, 7:00 pm

More...


Read the full article

............................................................



Las Vegas Conv. Center Adds Digital Signage Feature
 
Posted: 24 Jan 2012, 7:00 pm

More...


Read the full article

............................................................



A Duo of Conv. Centers Launches Free Wi-Fi
 
Posted: 23 Jan 2012, 7:00 pm

More...


Read the full article

............................................................



Anaheim Conv. Center Plans Expansion
 
Posted: 23 Jan 2012, 7:00 pm

More...


Read the full article

............................................................



IACC Board Sets New Service Standards
 
Posted: 30 Nov 2011, 7:00 pm

More...


Read the full article

............................................................



APEC Under Way in Honolulu
 
Posted: 8 Nov 2011, 7:00 pm

More...


Read the full article

............................................................



Beyond the Box
 
Posted: 24 Oct 2011, 8:00 pm
Expanding convention centers are addressing new planner expectations

More...


Read the full article

............................................................



Association Meetings 3.0
 
Posted: 16 Sep 2011, 5:10 pm
What does the association meeting of tomorrow look like and how can you prepare to provide your members with the type of meetings they need? A presenter at ASAE's 2011 Annual Meeting & Expo provides her expert glimpse into the future.

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Rethinking Sponsorships in the Age of Social Media
 
Posted: 16 Sep 2011, 4:56 pm
Technology is changing our lives in seemingly countless ways, including association event sponsorships. Find out what a leading event software expert believes are the best ways to make the most of sponsorships in the age of social media.

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What You Need to Know About Simultaneous Interpretation
 
Posted: 16 Sep 2011, 4:54 pm
As more associations venture overseas, simultaneous interpretation is more important than ever. Two experts who have conducted events around the globe share their insights.

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Reduce Expenses for Meetings of Any Size
 
Posted: 16 Sep 2011, 4:51 pm
Even the largest associations sometimes have meetings that don't represent a lot of room nights, which can reduce your ability to negotiate with the host hotel. Here are nine tips to help you get the best deal for your next meeting, no matter how many attendees you have.

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Strategic Meeting Planning
 
Posted: 6 Jul 2011, 11:00 am
We use strategic planning in our everyday lives but often get too caught up in all the details to apply it effectively during the meeting planning process. Discover how to be truly strategic the next time you're planning an important meeting.

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New Models for Successful Convention Strategy
 
Posted: 6 Jul 2011, 10:56 am
There's more to meetings than good content and a nice location. An ASAE Fellow and association business strategy consultant shares his views on factors such as information needs, competing resources, and strategic barriers that impact attendance at association conventions and tradeshows.

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Post-Recession Economy Requires New Guidelines for Association Events
 
Posted: 6 Jul 2011, 10:53 am
Association events are making a comeback following the deep recession, but everyone remains sensitive to appearing too extravagant and expensive. Here's a process for determining what's appropriate for your next events.

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Increase Exhibitor Engagement Without Increasing Your Budget
 
Posted: 6 Jul 2011, 10:49 am
Every association tradeshow is under pressure to increase traffic, but at what cost? Follow these strategies for increasing traffic and enhancing exhibitor loyalty without busting your budget.

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Letter From the Chair: ME Section Contributes to "199 Ideas" for Planners
 
Posted: 6 Jul 2011, 10:47 am
The Meetings & Expositions Section Council chair discusses the debut of an exciting new resource for association planners, provides a glimpse of the upcoming Annual Meeting & Exposition, and lends his perspective on the value of associations to society.

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Tips to Make Transportation at Your Conference Greener
 
Posted: 9 May 2011, 10:09 am
Greening meetings has come a long way in recent years, but you can take it to the next level with a little strategy and a lot of enthusiasm. Learn how to get your group actively involved in being a deeper shade of green.

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University Venues
 
Posted: 30 Apr 2011, 8:00 pm
Collegiate athletic venues are ideal for team building and spectator fun

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Convention Centers
 
Posted: 28 Feb 2011, 7:00 pm
Beyond the Box

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Conference Center Changes
 
Posted: 31 Dec 2010, 7:00 pm
Conference Center Changes

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Conference Centers
 
Posted: 31 Dec 2010, 7:00 pm
With mounting competition, conference centers get flexible

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On Location - Convention Centers
 
Posted: 31 May 2010, 8:00 pm

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University Venues
 
Posted: 30 Apr 2010, 8:00 pm
Campus Culture

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Conference Centers
 
Posted: 31 Mar 2010, 8:00 pm

After a tough year, conference centers see better times ahead

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University Venues
 
Posted: 28 Feb 2010, 7:00 pm

Universities offer an exciting range of museum venues

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Convention Centers
 
Posted: 28 Feb 2010, 7:00 pm

Convention center cuisine is no longer an oxymoron

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Convention Centers
 
Posted: 28 Feb 2010, 7:00 pm
Convention center cuisine is no longer an oxymoron

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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

More...


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Conference Centers
 
Posted: 31 Jan 2009, 7:00 pm

More...


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Conference Centers
 
Posted: 31 Jan 2009, 7:00 pm

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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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