Stones Production: ‘18 Hours To Pull It Down’
Posted: 19 Oct 2017, 7:38 pm
Stageco shared some insights into the production ofThe Rolling Stones??No Filter? European tour, which is currently coming to its conclusion at Paris? brand new U Arena, Oct. 19-25.

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Kevin Hart Getting 'Irresponsible'
Posted: 19 Oct 2017, 3:28 pm
One of North America?s most popular comedians, Kevin Hart, is touring the U.S. with new material that, as always, will draw on events from his personal life.

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Brewery’s Plan To Foil Richard Spencer Ticket Distribution Goes Flat
Posted: 19 Oct 2017, 3:05 pm
Gainesville brewer Alligator Brewing had come up with what seemed like a win-win plan so that white supremacist Richard Spencer ended up speaking to an empty venue at the University of Florida on Oct. 19, by offering to trade students a free beer in exchange for two tickets, which would be disposed of.

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Fan Claims Slip, Fall, Torture at L.A.'s Palladium
Posted: 19 Oct 2017, 2:24 pm
A fan who claims to have slipped on cups, bottles and liquids at a Ween show at Hollywood Palladium in Los Angeles is suing Live Nation, the venue, and numerous unnamed individuals, claiming he was assaulted and effectively ?tortured? by guards after his tumble.

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UK Venues Day 2017: Five Takeaways
Posted: 19 Oct 2017, 1:33 pm
The fourth edition of Venues Day took place Oct. 17 in London. Some 600 delegates representing more than 200 UK venues gathered at the iconicMinistry of Soundnightclub to talk business. Here arePollstar?sTop 5 takeaways, gathered from various panels throughout the day.

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IEBA Award Winners Announced
Posted: 19 Oct 2017, 12:37 pm
International Entertainment Buyers Association concluded its 47th annual conference, held in Nashville Oct. 15-17, with its awards ceremony honoring those in the industry.

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Luke Bryan, SOB x RBE Hit Concert Pulse New Tours
Posted: 19 Oct 2017, 12:13 pm
Luke Bryan made the biggest splash of the new artists to chart on Pollstar's Global Concert Pulse this week, with an average gross of $1.05 million and 19,323 tickets sold on his current tour, which put him at No. 17.

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Little Rock Police Arrest Shooting Suspect
Posted: 19 Oct 2017, 11:53 am
The person suspected of firing first during a mass shooting at a Little Rock rap concert last summer has been arrested, police said Wednesday.

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Country Stars Honor Shooting Victims
Posted: 19 Oct 2017, 8:11 am
Jason Aldean and other stars honored victims of a mass shooting at a country music festival in Las Vegas instead of accepting awards at the CMT Artists of the Year show Wednesday night.

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The Legacy Of Gord Downie
Posted: 18 Oct 2017, 9:45 pm
Gord Downie, frontman for one of Canada?s most beloved acts, The Tragically Hip, died Oct. 17.Pollstarspoke with The Tragically Hip's agent and takes a look at the singer's impact in the music business and beyond.

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College Crowd-Sourcing Concerts On The 'Up & Up'
Posted: 18 Oct 2017, 6:40 pm
After two festivals at Washington State and Wake Forest universities last fall proved a ?crowd-sourced? college concert series could succeed, Monster Energy Up & Up Festival is back with four campuses winning the chance to produce their own shows with rising EDM star Alan Walker.

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Chicago Proposes Concert Tax Hike
Posted: 18 Oct 2017, 6:21 pm
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel proposed a 2018 budget plan to the city council Oct. 18 that would increase Chicago?s amusement tax

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Wilmington Council Awards Live Nation Contract
Posted: 18 Oct 2017, 5:53 pm
The Wilmington, N.C., City Council voted 5-1 Oct. 17 to award a contract to Live Nation to run an amphitheater located in its proposed North Waterfront Park expected to open in 2019.

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Fan Sues Over Burns At Iron Maiden Show
Posted: 18 Oct 2017, 5:27 pm
A Southern California man is suing Live Nation for burns he suffered at an Iron Maiden show at Glen Helen Amphitheatre in San Bernardino, Calif., July 1.

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A Whole New Security Reality
Posted: 18 Oct 2017, 4:44 pm
The first Event Safety & Security Summit took place at the Intercontinental Hotel at The O2, Oct. 10, where Pollstar spoke toChris Kemp of Yourope?s Event Safety Group.

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Fernie Arena Ammonia Leak Kills 3
Posted: 18 Oct 2017, 3:08 pm
An ammonia leak at an arena in Fernie, B.C., had killed three and caused a state of emergency to be declared in the city.

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Lil Uzi Vert And Playboi Carti Announce Co-Bill
Posted: 18 Oct 2017, 1:43 pm
UPDATE: The 16*29 Tour with Lil Uzi Vert and Playboi Carti may be canceled, with Lil Uzi tweeting he needs to focus.

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WME's Geiger Gets Bullish at IEBA Keynote
Posted: 18 Oct 2017, 1:28 pm
Marc Geiger, Global Head of Music at WME, doesn?t mince words. And while giving the keynote address at the International Entertainment Buyers Association convention in Nashville Oct. 17, the music executive said he is bullish on the live music industry.

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Five Finger Death Punch Suit Settled
Posted: 18 Oct 2017, 1:19 pm
Five Finger Death Punch has settled its lawsuit with its former label and manager Jeff Kwatinetz and has announced plans for a greatest hits album and new material.

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Kenny Chesney Announces ‘Trip Around The Sun’
Posted: 18 Oct 2017, 12:25 pm
Kenny Chesney is making big plans for 2018. The country star just unveiled the stadium portion of next year?s ?Trip Around The Sun Tour,? featuring special guests Thomas Rhett, Old Dominion and Brandon Lay.

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Gord Downie Dies
Posted: 18 Oct 2017, 12:19 pm
Gord Downie, who made himself part of Canada's national identity with songs about hockey and small towns as lead singer and songwriter of iconic rock band The Tragically Hip, has died at age 53 after a battle with brain cancer.

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U2 Edges Ahead of Coldplay In Pollstar Concert Pulse
Posted: 18 Oct 2017, 12:07 pm
U2 edged out Coldplay to top Pollstar?s Weekly Global Concert Pulse Chart, as the top 5 rankings were in the same order as last week.

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Injured Ed Sheeran Cancels Asia Dates
Posted: 18 Oct 2017, 9:59 am
Following a bicycle accident that injured the ginger-haired star?s arm, Ed Sheeran has canceled some Asia concert dates saying, ?I?m waiting to see how the healing progresses before we have to decide on shows beyond that.?

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MercyMe Wins Artist Of The Year At Dove Awards
Posted: 18 Oct 2017, 8:17 am
Contemporary Christian band MercyMe took home awards for artist of the year and pop/contemporary album of the year and the band?s frontman, Bart Millard, was named songwriter of the year (artist) at this year?s Dove Awards.

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Williams, Lee Named Co-Heads Of WME Nashville
Posted: 17 Oct 2017, 7:15 pm
WME announced partners Joey Lee and Jay Williams will join Rob Beckham and Greg Oswald as co-heads of the agency?s Nashville office.

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ZZ Top Pushes Back 2017 Gigs
Posted: 17 Oct 2017, 5:28 pm
Since bassist Dusty Hill is having some health problems ZZ Top is rescheduling its upcoming dates.

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Ultra: More Than 1 Million Attend 2017 ‘World Tour’
Posted: 17 Oct 2017, 4:26 pm
The Miami-based Ultra electronic music festivals marked the end of its 2017 dates with Ultra Brasil Oct. 14, capping off a year that saw more than 1 million people attend 45 different Ultra events across five continents, according to Ultra Worldwide.

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Opry Gets $12 Million In Renovations
Posted: 17 Oct 2017, 4:07 pm
The iconic Grand Ole Opry House in Tennessee's capital city will undergo a $12 million expansion to add parking, larger retail space and an enhanced area for backstage tours.

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iHeart Launches Alternative Celebration
Posted: 17 Oct 2017, 3:52 pm
Mumford & Sons, Cage The Elephant, Beck, and Spoon have all signed on for iHeartMedia?s inaugural ALTer EGO event in Los Angeles.

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Rapino, Cuban, Bresler Among Pollstar Live! 2018 Speakers
Posted: 16 Oct 2017, 11:05 pm
The 2018 edition of Pollstar Live! is coming together in a big way, with Michael Rapino, Mark Cuban and Rich Bresler just a few of the speakers to be announced.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

BB&T Center, Sunrise, Fla.

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

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

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

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

KGrove200.jpgKevin Grove

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fred_Maglione_200x148.jpgFred Maglione.

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

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

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

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

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

paquette200.jpgTom Paquette

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

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

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

Doug_Higgons1.jpgDoug Higgons

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




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

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

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

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

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

15,001 or More Seats

10,001-15,000 Seats

5,001-10,000 Seats

5,000 or Fewer Seats

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Posted: 10 Oct 2017, 3:00 pm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The answer from Peters for what he looks for when hiring a venue manager might surprise. Certainly, experience and knowledge are important, but there is more.
“I look for a smile,” Peters said. “I want someone who has high integrity and honesty and wants to be in a small town. I think something that distinguishes us from some big companies is that we specialize in people who want to be in small towns. It isn’t like you get banished to this small town. Do a good job and we’ll send you to Davenport, Iowa. Well, that’s a big town for us. That’s a major market for us. We want to be there and our people want to be there. Not everybody is chasing the brass ring to want to get a bigger spot and a bigger city.

“We’re not in that pack. Our people are not those people. Everybody we serve in Cedar Rapids has been to Chicago. They’ve been to New York City. They know what service should be. There’s no such thing as second-tier service. Even though you are in a smaller market, you’ve got to provide the same kind of service or maybe even better because you don’t have any anonymity in a secondary market. If a guest in Brookings had a bad time or broken seat or hit a pothole in the parking lot, they are going to tell you about it at church the next day or at the next PTA event. It becomes very personal very fast.”

Peters said that there are 18 people on his staff that provide service to all the venues. There are specialists in the areas of human resources, finance, programming, food and beverage, operations and marketing.

“We say it all the time, but the job of our people at the core of the company is to support all the people working at all the buildings,” he said.

As Peters looks forward, he said that any success is predicated on remembering the basics. “We continually look for new ways to utilize technology and better ways to expand the markets we’re in to better serve our customers,” he said. “Whether it’s creating an F&B service or in-house promotions capability or theater producing company. We keep looking for those niches that we can sell.”
Topeka is now within view, but the best question is saved for last about how Peters and VenuWorks plan to celebrate a milestone 20th anniversary. Do you have grandiose plans for celebrating this big event?

“Nah,” Peters said. “The anniversary is important to us, but to the rest of the world I really don’t think so.”

Maybe the answer is not so surprising for a man and company whose legacy is built on the solid rock of family and relationships. Besides, there is now business to tend to in Topeka.

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Newton Named CEO At Carolina Theatre, Durham
Posted: 4 Oct 2017, 8:00 pm

Rebecca-Newton-Portrait_200x148.jpgRebecca Newton

Carolina Theatre of Durham, N.C., has named Chapel Hill businesswoman and artist Rebecca Newton its president and CEO.

Formerly the chief innovation officer at Carolina Partners in Mental HealthCare, PLLC, and the head of trust and community at SuperAwesome, a digital marketing platform intended to create ‘kid-safe’ online experiences, Newton brings decades of business and management experience to her role as the head of the nonprofit arts organization. Newton has also held positions with Mind Candy, and America Online.

Newton also served as vice chair of the board of directors of the ArtsCenter in Carrboro, N.C., and as the chair of, a nonprofit which empowers girls, women, and folks of marginalized genders through creative expression. Newton has also served as a board member for organizations such as the Family Online Safety Institute, the UK Council for Child Internet Safety, the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children’s Digital Task Force, and

Newton studied liberal arts and art history at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She also studied architectural art history at the University of Oxford.

A longtime advocate of the nonprofit that operates the city-owned historic arts venue, Newton is expected to replace interim CEO Dan Berman in mid-October.

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L.A. County Fair Concert Series a Hit
Posted: 4 Oct 2017, 8:00 pm

A young Los Angeles County, Pomona, fairgoer, dwarfed by the giant stuffed prize she won on the midway.

In spite of triple-digit heat and high humidity during the first 10 or so days of the Los Angeles County Fair, Pomona, Calif., the event experienced only a 6.5 percent decrease in attendance—1,231,243 compared to last year’s 1,317,370—as the successful concert series helped draw more customers in the evenings and in the latter weeks of the Sept.1-24 fair.

“Once weather wasn’t a factor, our numbers consistently exceded those of last year,” said Miguel Santana, who took over as president and CEO of Fairplex from James Henwood Jr. in January of this year.

“That tells me the community is excited about the fair and wants to attend the fair. We have a lot to offer in terms of different activities and attractions for a full range of people, from children to seniors. But when it’s extremely hot and when most of the fair is outdoors, people are going to stay home.”

Santana also wants to target Millennials to come to the fair. Some of them may think of the fair as a relic from the past. To combat that, this year’s event was one of more than 70 venues across Southern California tapped for an exhibit called “Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA,” showcasing Latino artists. Works by Judithe Hernández and Patssi Valdez were on display at the Fairplex’s Millard Sheets Art Center.

In addition, Santana noted, local restaurants with large social media followings on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram were brought in to offer popular fare on the patio outside the display. “The result was the highest attendance of that gallery since its inception in the 1930s,” Santana said, adding that the food provided fairgoers “a sense of connection to the community.”

Another big factor in the fair’s success was the 16 concerts held in the grandstand, sponsored by Anheuser Busch as part of the End of Summer Concert Series, presented by Toyota. Next year, sponsor Toyota will be replaced by Chevrolet for a three-year deal, said Dale Coleman, vice president of sales and creative programming.

Several concerts exceeded the 9,000-seat capacity in attendance, Coleman added, and any show that hit 8,000 attendees was considered very successful. Revenues were up 12 percent over last year —$3,250,000 compared to $2,900,000 in 2016 — and also 23 percent over 2015’s $2,500,000. “It was a great year,” Coleman said.

The grandstand has some leeway with how many seats can be installed because the venue was built for horse racing, which was discontinued a few years ago.

“It’s very long so if you are on the end, you are getting out a good long way from the stage,” said Coleman, who added that sometimes demand motivates fair officials to add seats.

Much effort also is made to create a wide-ranging lineup for the diverse group of fairgoers. As an illustration, Coleman noted the final weekend, which featured Ramon Ayala Y Sus Bravos Del Norte, a double bill of War and Tower of Power, the ‘70s band Chicago and the popular hip-hop trio Migos.

“We try very hard to be eclectic and diverse,” Coleman said. “One person’s favorite is another person’s ‘never heard of.’”

The fair took place over a period of more than three weeks, with four weekends, and took Mondays and Tuesdays off. The concerts were held Wednesdays through Sundays for a total of 16 shows. Coleman estimated that a record total of 120,000 attended the concerts for an average of 7,500 per show. All concerts offer a mix of free and ticketed seats, with the free seats being farther away from the stage and the closer ones going up in price from $40 to $150 depending on location. The $150 tickets are for 450 seats down by the stage.

Admission to the fair is free with the purchase of a concert ticket, Coleman said, with some attendees spending several hours at the fair enjoying different facets of it. That’s why when he gives numbers of $2.7 million in talent fees with a gross of $3.25 million, not including production costs, it is not comparing apples to apples. “It’s difficult to determine what the real economic impact is,” he added.

The fair constructs a stage each year. Lodi, Calif.-based L.B. Lights West builds the stage, back of house and provides lighting and equipment. Now that horse racing has been discontinued, the stage can stay up for the entirety of the fair. Before, Coleman said, it was rolled into place before each concert.

Other acts that appeared during the fair were the I Love The 90s Tour featuring Salt-N-Pepa; Hunter Hayes with Frankie Ballard and Lauren Alaina; Juanes; Boyz II Men & Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds; Charlie Wilson with Johnny Gill; Patti Labelle & Queen Latifah; Trace Adkins with Joe Nichols; La Arrolladora & Banda el Limón; The Whispers & The Stylistics; Fifth Harmony; Styx & Kansas; and Gerardo Ortiz.

Laveen, Ariz.-based Ray Cammack Shows provided 70 rides and 40 games on the midway, said Renee Hernandez, the fair’s communications and public relations manager. The carnival was slightly down from the previous year, she said. Ridership mirrored the attendance pattern and picked up when the days cooled down. Pay-one-price wristbands were available at supermarket partners Von's, Albertson's and Cardenas for $37 or could be purchased on-site for $50, Hernandez said. Fairgoers could use them Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays but not on the weekends.

Gate admission remained the same as last year. Regular gate admission was $14 for adults 14 and older and $8 for ages 6 to 12 on weekdays and $20 and $12 on weekends. The discount price at the supermarkets was $12 and $6. Kids 5 and under were free. A year-round budget figure was not available.

As for marketing, the fair employed even more social media, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat, in addition to the event’s YouTube channel, said Hernandez, who noted that the marketing budget was $2.1 million. 

“We have a very strong social media presence,” she added. “Our social media person connected with influencers in Southern California and worked on those relationships, which helped with marketing. We have thousands and thousands of followers.”

Next year’s dates will be Aug. 31 to Sept. 23.

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Vegas Hotels Institute Bag Searches
Posted: 4 Oct 2017, 7:00 pm

Deserted and eerily quiet, the north end of Mandalay Bay Road is still cordoned off by yellow police-tape, three days after the horrific mass shooting from the 32nd floor of the Las Vegas strip hotel. (VT Photo)

In a dramatic response to the senseless mass shooting Sunday night, Oct.1, Wynn Hotel and Encore Hotel, Las Vegas, instituted bag checks at the entrance of the Strip hotels as of Monday morning, Oct.2, 12 hours after lone gunman Stephen Paddock killed 58 concertgoers attending Route 91 Harvest music festival from the 32nd floor of Mandalay Bay.

Hotel security workers used handheld metal detectors. “We initiated metal scanning at our entrances early Monday morning when it was uncertain if there were multiple shooters,” a Wynn spokesperson said.

Stunned guests were told to line up with their bags ready for either a hand search or using the handheld scanners.  This resulted in a 10-minute-long line to get into the luxury resort.

Wynn reduced the intensity of the checks Tuesday, indicating the new policy was still being tested. “Now that it is confirmed there was one shooter, we will return to scanning guests when we believe the need arises. We are continuing our other enhanced security procedures at entrances and throughout the resort.”

The Wynn spokesman confirmed that guests who exited the hotel had to stand in line again to re-enter.

Russ Simons, Venue Solutions Group, who is chairman of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Public Assembly Facility Sub-Sector Council and serves on the IAVM Safety & Security Committee and NCS4 (National Center for Spectator, Sport, Safety and Security) board of advisors, noted the mass killing in Las Vegas reinforces the need to do a threat assessment and vulnerability to that threat constantly. “That leads to a risk assessment and from that you get your emergency action plan. I don’t think anyone would have weighed gunfire from a significant distance and, by the way, from as high a level as this was as a threat to an event like a country music festival. But when anyone was conducting a threat assessment the next day, they would have added in that vulnerability. But I don’t think it’s reasonable to think anyone should have or reasonably could have been thinking about that for that event.”

This does not change the game for venue managers, just increases the volume of the message. “Venue managers will be doing what they’ve done every day for 17 years, since 9/11, which is taking a look at what the circumstances are on the ground, not being comfortable with what you knew yesterday, and knowing you have to think about what the situation will be for you tomorrow. Every professional venue manager knows that complacency as it relates to safety and security is our biggest enemy, and we have to focus on the changing nature of the threat and our response. That has to do with that emergency action plan, training, execution, evaluation and retraining.”

How often do they need to re-evaluate? “In the world we live in today, they need information daily, sometimes several times a day, to communicate the changing nature of the threat,” Simons said.

And it is a worldwide issue. On that same Sunday, there were terrorist incidents earlier in the day in Edmonton, Alberta; Melbourne, Australia and Marseilles, France, Simons noted.

His strongest message is one of personal responsibility.  “We can’t afford to rely on someone else to take care of us. We have to pay attention, think about where we’re going and assess our situation. What if an earthquake happened? What if something else happened? Where would I go? What would I do? I want people to think about it for themselves, and for their friends and neighbors and communities. I want all of us to spend a little more effort looking out for each other,” Simons said.

See something, say something is not just a tagline, he added. “We all have an obligation and a responsibility to be paying attention, and if we see things that make us uncomfortable or we don’t understnad, we have to bring those things to someone’s attention. All of us are better than any one of us. It’s not someone else’s problem. It should be clear this is each and every one of our problems and any solution will require everyone’s contributions.”


Deb Oshrow, a professor of hospitality at Rosen College of Hospitality, Orlando, Fla., questioned the effectiveness of the new search policy on Wednesday. “Metal detectors can scare guests and make them feel like there’s something they need to worry about and could potentially spoil the vacation experience,” she said.

“Having an increased security presence and keeping a watchful eye on everyone coming in and out and looking for anything unusual may be a better solution,” Oshrow said.

How Paddock got “in excess of 23 rifles” into Mandalay Bay was something Las Vegas, Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo is still trying to piece together. What was clear to Lombardo was that “Paddock brought the weapons into the hotel on his own and that he used a device similar to a hammer to smash the windows.”

Randy Sutton spent 24 years with the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department. He was “unsurprised” that Paddock could amass the large amount of weapons and get them into the hotel and up to the 32nd floor.

“He had plenty of time to get the guns to his room,” he said. “There would have been no reason for hotel security to identify Paddock as a threat. It looks to me like this guy just checked in as a guest, and it's very common for guests to have a lot of luggage. It's relatively simple to conceal weapons in luggage. Actually, security wouldn't be involved, because it looks like he went directly to the room. Typically he wouldn't deal with security; security wouldn't be aware of his presence."

Sutton does not blame Mandalay Bay security in any way. “There's no way security could have known about the threat. Without some tip-off, Paddock passed through the hotel like any other guest would have. There's nothing that security could have done to stop that."

Most casinos, if not all, on the Las Vegas Strip have a weapon ban; signs are posted at all entrances advising guests of the policy.

Joe Morton, a security expert, who was at the scene of the Route 91 Harvest massacre as a guest said that, when he worked at Strip hotels, “if someone openly carried a weapon into the casino we’d have stopped him. I can assure you, if somebody came in brandishing a weapon, he would get a reaction from security. But there is no way for anyone to know whether weapons are hidden in hotel luggage, barring searching everyone and every bag on the way in.”

Morton also questioned the wisdom and logistics of searching all guests. "How can this be accomplished? There are thousands of people coming in and out of the hotels, at hundreds of different entrance points. It would be a nightmare for the hotels and the guests. Sure, it could be done, but the risk of this kind of thing happening is so rare that having that kind of security in place just wouldn't be a reasonable thing to do. If somebody is determined to commit a crime like this, they'll find a way to do it. It's almost impossible to prevent."

Morton survived the shooting by taking swift action. “As soon as bodies starting falling I knew we were dealing with a mass-shooting scenario,” he recalled. “I grabbed my children and started shouting for festivalgoers to take cover near a garbage dumpster that was nearby.”

“About 30 of us hid behind the dumpster as round-after-round of rapid-fire barreled down upon the concert-grounds, ” he said. “At this point, no one knew where the shots were coming from. Some of the people gathered wanted to run for it; I told them to stay put until we found out the source of the bullets.”

Morton believes his quick action and sound advice saved the lives of the innocent festivalgoers who followed his instructions and stayed out of sight until the gunfire stopped. “People panic and want to do exactly the opposite of what they should do; some wanted to run out from behind the dumpster to find friends and family.” Morton advises anyone caught in a similar situation: “Don’t use your heart in a situation like this; use your head. It will save your life.”

Simons agreed this was a rare and unpredictable incident, but not unbelievable. “It’s been 50 years since the asshole at the University of Texas took a long rifle up into the tower. It’s always been something.”

“I think the problem people are having with this guy is he doesn’t fit any known profile,” Simons said.

The scenario is another factor in assessing threats, however. The National Football League is among the many organizations taking a look at highrise buildings in direct proximity to mega events at stadiums, for instance.

Without scientific data, and simply a gut reaction, Simons believes if there is going to be a copycat shooting, it usually occurs in a short period of time. Look at the shootings in the movie theater in Aurora, Colo., he noted. That hasn’t been re-created. But that doesn’t mean under a certain set of conditions, it might not be. Vigilance is mandatory.

Each one of these incidents peels another layer off the onion. “There are substantive, ongoing conversations about the kinds of things that can be done. They all have costs. They all require a level of commitment. I don’t have a feel for how far people are willing to go,” Simons said. (Simons participated in a PBS special on the tragedy in Las Vegas, shown here.)

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Hot Tickets for October 4, 2017
Posted: 4 Oct 2017, 6:00 pm

Jeff Dunham’s Passively Aggressive tour is in full swing as he travels through North America and Canada the rest of this year and well into 2018. Dunham, along with his friends Achmed the Dead Terrorist, Walter, Bubba J., Peanut and Jose Jalepeno (on a stick), entertained a full house for two shows, Sept. 6 and 13, at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace, Las Vegas. Both shows grossed a total of $370,000 with ticket prices ranging from $50-$80. The comedian/ventriloquist used his particular brand of humor to bring down the house, and he didn’t shy away from experimenting with a few political one-liners which went over well with the 5,500 fans in attendance. Dunham can be seen next at Abraham Chavez Theatre, El Paso, Texas, Nov. 1-2 but, in the meantime, fans can watch his new comedy, stand-up special that was recently released on Netflix entitled “Relative Disaster.”

Arcade Fire brought their spirited show to Infinite Energy Arena, Duluth, Ga., Sept. 21. The Live Nation-promoted event grossed $270,000 and had 4,000 fans in attendance. The band is on their Infinite Content tour, with special guests Phantogram and Angel Olsen, which rolled through Europe this summer before launching the second leg a couple of weeks ago, which is currently reaching across North America. Arcade Fire is mesmerizing audiences with their lasers and lights and the constant movement of the nine band members swapping instruments. Fans can catch the band Oct. 11 at Rogers Place, Edmonton, Alberta.

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

15,001 or More Seats

10,001-15,000 Seats

5,001-10,000 Seats

5,000 or Fewer Seats

1) Ariana Grande
Gross Sales: $2,389,407; Venue: Rod Laver Arena, Melbourne, Australia; Attendance: 23,809; Ticket Range: $94.21-$78.49; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Sept. 4-5; No. of Shows: 2

2) Ed Sheeran
Gross Sales: $2,375,534; Venue: Capital One Arena, Washington; Attendance: 27,420; Ticket Range: $96.50-$36.50; Promoter: AEG Presents; Dates: Sept. 19-20; No. of Shows: 2

3) John Legend
Gross Sales: $1,235,863; Venue: The O2 Arena, London; Attendance: 14,803; Ticket Range: $101.07-$67.38; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Sept. 12; No. of Shows: 1

4) Depeche Mode
Gross Sales: $1,192,064; Venue: Capital One Arena, Washington; Attendance: 12,554; Ticket Range: $145-$39.50; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Sept. 7; No. of Shows: 1

5) The Weeknd
Gross Sales: $1,025,445; Venue: Capital One Arena, Washington; Attendance: 13,395; Ticket Range: $150.75-$39.75; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Sept. 15; No. of Shows: 1

1) Kid Rock
Gross Sales: $724,450; Venue: Van Andel Arena, Grand Rapids, Mich.; Attendance: 10,413; Ticket Range: $95-$30; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Sept. 6; No. of Shows: 1

2) Kid Rock
Gross Sales: $525,135; Venue: Ford Center, Evansville, Ind.; Attendance: 8,835; Ticket Range: $92-$27; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Sept. 9; No. of Shows: 1

3) Bill O'Reilly
Gross Sales: $388,790; Venue: Royal Farms Arena, Baltimore; Attendance: 2,896; Ticket Range: $500-$65; Promoter: Icon Entertainment; Dates: Sept. 22; No. of Shows: 1

4) Arcade Fire
Gross Sales: $269,850; Venue: Infinite Energy Arena, Duluth, Ga.; Attendance: 3,980; Ticket Range: $75-$35; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Sept. 21; No. of Shows: 1

5) Luke Mockridge
Gross Sales: $167,675; Venue: Hallenstadion, Zurich; Attendance: 2,913; Ticket Range: $63.74; Promoter: Act Entertainment; Dates: Sept. 7; No. of Shows: 1

1) Jennifer Lopez
Gross Sales: $2,715,968; Venue: The Axis at Planet Hollywood, Las Vegas; Attendance: 12,972; Ticket Range: $412-$54; Promoter: Caesars Entertainment, Live Nation; Dates: Sept. 13-16; No. of Shows: 3

2) Jennifer Lopez
Gross Sales: $2,372,986; Venue: The Axis at Planet Hollywood, Las Vegas; Attendance: 11,844; Ticket Range: $412-$54; Promoter: Caesars Entertainment, Live Nation; Dates: Sept. 6-9; No. of Shows: 3

3) Jennifer Lopez
Gross Sales: $2,370,333; Venue: The Axis at Planet Hollywood, Las Vegas; Attendance: 11,980; Ticket Range: $412-$54; Promoter: Caesars Entertainment, Live Nation; Dates: Sept. 20-23; No. of Shows: 3

4) Marco Antonio Solis
Gross Sales: $583,590; Venue: EagleBank Arena, Fairfax, Va.; Attendance: 5,746; Ticket Range: $184-$54; Promoter: Pro-Mex Productions; Dates: Sept. 8; No. of Shows: 1

5) VetsAid
Gross Sales: $508,121; Venue: EagleBank Arena, Fairfax, Va.; Attendance: 4,778; Ticket Range: $154-$54; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Sept. 20; No. of Shows: 1

1) Disney’s Aladdin
Gross Sales: $3,512,258; Venue: Orpheum Theatre, Minneapolis; Attendance: 47,503; Ticket Range: $175-$21; Promoter: Hennepin Theatre Trust, Broadway Across America; Dates: Sept. 15-Oct. 1; No. of Shows: 21

2) Jeff Dunham
Gross Sales: $367,055; Venue: The Colosseum at Caesars Palace, Las Vegas; Attendance: 5,650; Ticket Range: $79.50-$49.50; Promoter: AEG Presents, Caesars Entertainment, Tate Entertainment; Dates: Sept. 6, 13; No. of Shows: 2

3) Shreya Ghoshal
Gross Sales: $330,360; Venue: The Theater at MGM National Harbor, Oxon Hill, Md.; Attendance: 2,771; Ticket Range: $209-$105; Promoter: Intense Entertainment; Dates: Sept. 15; No. of Shows: 1

4) Donny & Marie
Gross Sales: $263,512; Venue: The Showroom at The Flamingo, Las Vegas; Attendance: 2,936; Ticket Range: $283-$104; Promoter: Caesars Entertainment; Dates: Sept. 19-23; No. of Shows: 5

5) Donny & Marie
Gross Sales: $247,612; Venue: The Showroom at The Flamingo, Las Vegas; Attendance: 2,733; Ticket Range: $283-$104; Promoter: Caesars Entertainment; Dates: Sept. 12-16; No. of Shows: 5

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


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Laurene Powell Jobs Purchases Stake in Monumental
Posted: 4 Oct 2017, 6:00 pm

The new name goes up on Capital One Center, Washington, D.C.

The Washington, D.C., sports and entertainment scene just received a major new player — billionaire Laurene Powell Jobs.

The entrepreneur, worth around $20 billion according to a Forbes estimate, has an agreement to purchase a 20-percent stake in Monumental Sports & Entertainment, first reported by the Washington Post and confirmed by Venues Today, an investment worth hundreds of millions of dollars that makes Powell Jobs, 53, the second-largest stakeholder in the company behind CEO Ted Leonsis. The transaction is pending approval from both the National Basketball Association (NBA) and National Hockey League (NHL).

Monumental, worth roughly $2.5 billion according to the Post, includes ownership of the NBA’s Washington Wizards, NHL’s Washington Capitals and the newly-named Capital One Arena, Washington, D.C.

“We have an agreement with Laurene Powell Jobs … to join the Monumental Sports & Entertainment ownership group,” Monumental said in a statement. “The process is underway and is pending league approvals.”

The president of the Emerson Collective, an enterprise focused on spurring change and promoting equality in social justice issues such as education and immigration, and widow of Apple’s Steve Jobs, earlier attempted a foray into sports with a bid to purchase the NBA’s Los Angeles Clippers in 2014. The team was sold to Steve Balmer.

Powell Jobs, who can attribute much of her wealth to holdings in Apple and Disney—Steve Jobs started both Apple and Pixar Animation, bought by Disney in 2006—recently purchased The Atlantic magazine, also based in Washington, D.C., through Emerson Collective. Monumental said that Jobs’ philanthropy through Emerson Collective fit the vision of Leonsis and his “double bottom line philosophy: that companies that do best are those that do good in their communities.”

“That someone of Laurene’s impressive caliber is interested in coming into the ownership group further validates that Monumental Sports & Entertainment is continuing to build one of the most consequential, most valuable sports and entertainment companies in the world,” the statement reads.

Laurene_Powell_Jobs.jpgLaurene Powell Jobs

With the investment, Powell Jobs propels herself into the sports and entertainment industry, becoming one of the few female owners in NBA along with Jeanie Buss of the Los Angeles Lakers, Ann Walton Kroenke of the Denver Nuggets and Gail Miller of the Utah Jazz.

The Monumental empire includes growing values in sports franchise in the NBA and NHL. Forbes has valued the average NBA franchise at $1.36 billion and estimated the Wizards at $1 billion. Recent NBA sales will push that number higher. Forbes values the Capitals at $575 million.

But that isn’t all. Along with a one-third ownership in Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic, a regional sports network, the company also includes the WNBA Mystics, the Washington Valor and Baltimore Brigade Arena Football League teams.

On the facility side, Monumental owns a sports facility in Northern Virginia and a new 4,200-seat Wizards practice facility set to open in Southeast Washington in 2018. The 45,000-square-foot practice facility will host concerts, community events, WNBA games and potentially NBA D-League games. The Rossetti Architects and Marshall Moya-designed project includes retail and private team facilities.

Monumental signed a new agreement with Capital One in August to rename what was previously known as Verizon Center, reported in the range of $100 million over 10 years, which Eric Smallwood, president of Apex Marketing Group, called at the time “substantial” and placed it near the top of any arena in the country and even above some National Football League (NFL) stadiums.

Monumental has already announced that a new point-of-sale system will enable the venue to offer Capital One cardholders automated discounts on food, beverage, merchandise and more throughout the arena.

“I think leveraging different things into an experience for any company is important at any level (of sponsorship) and certainly with naming rights, the ability to leverage the two businesses is great,” said David Touhey, president of venues for Monumental. “I think there is certainly potential across a lot of dual business lines. Where things can happen, they are a great partner. We are both local, prominent companies. As things align, it makes sense for both to certainly see more (activations).”

While announcing the new naming rights deal in the summer, Monumental also announced—which was simply a matter of timing and not related, Touhey said—a $4-million investment into the 20-year-old, privately financed downtown arena. “We want to do some updates to stay fresh and stay current,” he said.

As part of the updates, the Mounumental360 program will use data collection from the new point-of-sale system to better understand fans and learn preferences for when they interact with any part of the Monumental franchise.

The home to over 220 concerts, shows and events a year, including the Capitals and Wizards, Capital One Arena will host major concerts this year, along with the A-10 men’s basketball tournament in March, 2018 and the East regionals of the 2019 NCAA men’s basketball tournament.

The Post reports that Leonsis owns around 40 percent of Monumental. Other Monumental investors include Raul Fernandez, vice chairman of Monumental, philanthropist and BET co-founder Sheila Johnson, Capital One founder Richard Fairbank and Mark Lerner, whose family also owns the local Major League Baseball franchise, the Washington Nationals.

“The fact that these discussions are underway,” Monumental said in the statement, “is itself a testament to the fact that Washington is one of the most dynamic and important regions in the country.”

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Life Is Beautiful Is in the Black
Posted: 4 Oct 2017, 5:00 pm

Life is Beautiful played its fifth run in Las Vegas Sept. 22-24. (Photo by Michael Montoya)

When it was launched in 2013, the Life is Beautiful Festival (LiB) seemed like a big-hearted, inspiring idea that felt a bit too touchy-feely to make it on the vice-filled streets of Las Vegas. A massive street festival sprawling over more than a dozen downtown blocks that aimed to inspire and entertain with music, top chefs, artwork and a variety of eclectic speakers and lecturers.

But over the Sept.22-24 weekend all those dreams, and more, finally came together into what is now a financially viable event that still has that heart of gold, but also has a balance sheet in the black that promises to keep the good times coming in the future.

LiB took place a week before the horrific shooting during the Route 91 Harvest Festival on Oct. 1, and may have dodged a bullet according to  Rep. Dina Titus, congresswoman from Nevada’s first congressional district said, “I have heard from police sources that the gunman had been looking at other targets. He apparently was looking at the Life Is Beautiful festival downtown, which was held a few days earlier.” LiB reps had no comment on the stunnig news that they may have been the initial target of gunman Stephen Paddock.

“We had never sold out in the history of the festival at all, not even on the day of the show and so this year when we went on sale with the lineup in April we sold out all the three-day GA tickets in 90 minutes and all the tickets in our cart within 30 minutes,” said LiB’s CEO Justin Weniger of the event that won Festival of the Year from Pollstar in 2016. The enterprising fest, which takes over 18 square blocks downtown and carts in 180,000 square feet of sod to make fans more comfortable, hosted sets by Chance the Rapper, Muse, Gorillaz, Lorde, Blink-182, The XX, Kaskade, Wiz Khalifa and dozens of others on six stages — including a comedy stage — as well as more than 60 food vendors and an A-list lineup of speakers that included “Science Guy” Bill Nye, Bethany Mota and Rachel Platten.

With 45,000 attendees each day and an estimated 135,000 over the weekend, Weniger said he thinks this year’s success came because organizers used data and targeted digital marketing to get a much clearer understanding of where their audience is and where they are coming from. “It’s a testament to four years of really unbelievable passion from a lot of people — from our staff to the city and the community around it — and the momentum that we kept going from last year that helped us this year,” he said, noting that 2016 was the first time he knew the festival would make it.


Art and photo ops intersect often at Life is Beautiful, the Las Vegas festival. (Photo by Michael Montoya.)

“We did a recap after [2016] to see how things looked, and if we could afford another investment, and we knew going in that it would be a viable thing for the community, so that allowed us to focus for the entire year.” That explains why Weniger was booking artists for 2017 before the 2016 event opened its gates, helping to create continuity and momentum for his staff. The core 20-person LiB teamwork on the festival all year-round in partnership with San Francisco promoter Another Planet Entertainment. That small team expands to 50 people during the first annual staff meeting with contractors, then swells to 150 as site planning begins to come into focus, ballooning to 3,500 on the day of the show counting onsite security, food and beverage and other site-specific workers.

Because Weniger’s WENDOH marketing agency is also busy doing marketing development inside Las Vegas and outside the city limits, with a content team churning out a variety of products, his multidisciplinary team is able to not only book and curate LiB, but also keep their eye on engaging potential consumers and maximizing their media buys. “All those things matter. Without the lineup that’s amazing, without that engagement we would not sell as many tickets,” he said of what his team has found out in case studies of past events, including one incredible statistic. “In our study we found that we drove the cost of acquisition from $17 [per ticket sold] in 2015 to just under $11 in 2016 and to under 97 cents this year.”

Because that cost of acquisition was driven down so dramatically, Weniger was able to shift money away from what would normally be spent on traditional marketing into creating a better experience for their visitors. 

Weniger said part of the reason LiB has had such success is the “very authentic” relationship the fest has with its audience. “We think we can change the world with positivity and inspiration at a time when the world needs that right now… positivity and storytelling and connectivity and we provide a space for that,” he said.

With 65 percent of attendees coming from Southern California, the event’s proximity to Los Angeles is a key to its success, as are the 9,000-plus hotel rooms in downtown Las Vegas and 140,000 on the Strip. “People can find good prices on hotel rooms, they’re not wading through mud or camping and it’s very easy to jump in a car, drive up [from Los Angeles] and walk in and out of the venue and go back to your hotel room, so families can come during the day and come back at night.” Though the majority of attendees are from Southern California, this year’s event drew from all 50 states and 24 countries as well.

One of the biggest challenges is, unlike a comparable festival of its size that might have a month or more to get a fairground in shape to welcome patrons, the LiB team has about 10 days to bring in all that sod, arrange access for dozens of muralists and ensure that the proper shade is put in place. That time also includes a survey of the site for walkability to reach their goal of never having the walk from one stage to another take more than three minutes no matter how busy the stage is.

“If we weren’t putting any music on, the art we have would still make it one of the premiere art festivals in the world, and over five years the murals we’ve put up around downtown have changed the city,” he said. “Everything comes to life in this footprint and it’s something that can’t be replicated anywhere else because we have all these bars and restaurants inside the footprint, art throughout the streets and, even with the bigger footprint this year, it never felt overcrowded because of the way we create capacity.” In a testament to the eclectic nature of the audience, Weniger said at one point there were 8,000 people in a tent quietly listening to TV personality Nye on a Friday afternoon on the same stage that housed thumping dance music just hours later.

With more than two-dozen sponsors, increased ticket sales and the lower cost-per-acquisition, Weniger confirmed that LiB was in the black as of this year, with an 80-percent increase year-over-year in ticket revenue, another sign that its future seems rosy. “We do better than a lot of organizations on things like people pushing their friends to come out and see us,” he said, pointing to the engagement on the festival’s Facebook post with the initial lineup poster, which he said elicited 23,000 comments.

LIB600.jpgFans enjoy the ambiance at the fifth annual Life is Beautiful festival in Las Vegas. (Photo by Michael Montoya)

“That’s 23,000 people not saying ‘oh my gosh, I’m so excited to see this band,’ but people tagging their friends and saying ‘we have to go.’ I don’t think people decide to buy tickets to experience it on their own. They tag their friends. Nobody says ‘I need a plumber this weekend, do you need one?’ We saw a ton of sharing and people building this network, which is why we spent substantially less this year on media since we sold out on our first day. That [effectively] eliminated any marketing budget and helped us shift our overall strategy to put purpose and storytelling first and inspire people.”

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One Day Later, Mandalay Bay Quiet
Posted: 3 Oct 2017, 5:00 pm

Mandalay Bay Hotel & Casino, Las Vegas, where a gunman armed with multiple assault rifles killed 59 and wounded more than 500 festivalgoers from the 32nd floor. (AP Photo)

REPORTING FROM LAS VEGAS — The silence was deafening at Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino, Las Vegas, on Monday night, 24 hours after the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history.

According to a Jenni Rivera, a Mandalay Bay staff member, many of Mandalay Bay’s 3,635 rooms are empty; the 29th through 33rd floors are totally blocked off and are a crime scene.

The casino floor is normally lively and active with gamblers, convention attendees and revelers drinking, smoking, socializing and doing what people come to Las Vegas to do, which is have a good time.

Tonight, the mood is somber, and it feels like a casino either just starting out or at the end of its life. About 100 people were playing slots or table games, on the 135,000-sq.-ft. casino floor. The number of employees — dealers, security and waitresses — looked to be the same number of people that were spending money.

“It’s usually so much busier in here,” said Rivera. “People don’t want to come here tonight. It’s spooky.”

Just 24 hours earlier, before lone-gunman Stephen Paddock, smashed the windows out of his 32nd floor suite and started shooting at the hundreds of country music lovers attending Route 91 Harvest festival, the fun had not yet been stomped on.

“Normally it’s crazy in here,” said Rivera. “People are playing the slots and the ringing of the slots can be heard on the whole floor. People are throwing dice, betting on blackjack, drinking at the bar.”

But tonight, these activities seem to have the night off. Instead, the cards being slapped on the table can be heard; the ball spinning in the roulette wheel is easily caught and the clinking of glasses on the bar sounds like thunder crashing onto the ground.

“I’ve never heard it so quiet in here,” said Rivera.

It wasn’t so quiet 24 hours earlier.

“I could hear the ratta-tat-tat coming from somewhere,” said Rivera. “No one really understood what was going on last night. It sounded like fireworks.”

Rivera and her fellow employees and guests knew it wasn’t just fireworks when the Las Vegas police and SWAT team stormed the building at approximately 10:30 p.m.

“All of a sudden there were dozens of police racing through the building,” said Rivera. “We saw them run from the entrance and head to the elevators.”

After about “20 minutes later” the shooting had stopped. Paddock killed at least 59 people and wounded 525 more.

Outside, the normally bustling strip was cordoned off by police crime-scene tape.

Crouching Under a Blackjack Table

Shinzu Abu was playing blackjack when he heard the sound of bullets.

“The band stopped playing,” said Abu. “It was weird. The band just ran offstage. I knew something was not right.”

The Korean cell phone app specialist knew something was off. “I heard there was someone shooting people on the strip,” said Abu. “It sounded like it was far away, but I heard the gunfire in this hotel; it was too close a sound to be so far away.”

Abu ducked for cover under the blackjack table the moment he saw the police race through the building. “There were dozens and dozens of police swarming the Mandalay Bay,” he said. “The police said we should leave. I was too scared to leave. I thought hiding under the table was better.”

Abu was eventually forced out of the now-crime scene and bused to the Thomas & Mack Center, where he was given shelter, food, water and doughnuts.

“They were very nice and really seemed to care about how I was doing,” said Abu.

Ikue Amase was also at Mandalay Bay during the tragedy. Like Abu, she didn’t understand what was happening at first. Eventually she ran out of the Mandalay Bay, fearing for her life. But she ran back in when the police showed up.

“I hid behind the bar,” she said. “There were about 10 other people hiding with me.”

Amase stayed hidden in the Mandalay Bay, with other guests and staff members, until nearly 7 a.m.

"I kept looking at my phone for information,” she said. “It was the longest night of my life.”

Brianne Harring was inside Mandalay Bay Sunday night, playing the slots. She arrived from Seattle just hours earlier.

“It was crazy in here,” she said. “People were running for the doors; others jumped over the bar and hid behind the bar.”

Threasa Johanas, from Paris, was inside Mandalay Bay on Monday night.

“I only heard about this when my plane landed,” she said. “I thought, ‘Should I change my hotel’ but people at the airport told me it would be okay.”

“I had about 30 messages on my phone when I landed. My dad was concerned, so was my boss.”

When Johanas got to Mandalay Bay, she said it was eerily quiet. “I think of Vegas as loud and noisy, but it was just the opposite when I got here,” she said.

Outside, a day later, it was still quiet and filled with police presence.

“There are a lot of police outside,” she said. “I am happy they are there; I am sad they have to be there.”

Currently, yellow police tape stretches from the south end of Las Vegas Boulevard from Tropicana to Russell Road.

“It will be there for days,” said Brian Henderson from the Las Vegas Police Department. “This will remain an active crime scene until the investigators are satisfied they know exactly what happened Sunday night.”

(Editor's Note: This story also appeared on

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A Survivor’s Harrowing Story
Posted: 3 Oct 2017, 11:00 am

The crime scene at Route 91 Harvest music festival in Las Vegas that night. (AP Photo)

REPORTING FROM LAS VEGAS - Olga Doccozi got the kind of phone call that no mother ever wants to get. It was Sunday night at 10:42 p.m. On the phone was her son, Anthony, who was in Las Vegas at the Route 91 Harvest country music festival. He was wounded, crawling on the ground toward an exit, and afraid he’d be trampled by the thousands of concertgoers fleeing for their lives.

“Anthony got shot by the madman,” said Olga, who was aboard a plane from John Wayne Airport in Orange County, Calif., along with Anthony’s sister, Nella, feverishly making their way to Las Vegas to be with their son and brother.

“I couldn’t believe what I was hearing,” said Olga Doccozi. “There was so much screaming going on I could hardly hear Anthony.”

Doccozi was one of 587 reported wounded in what was the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history with 59 fatalities shot by gunman Stephen Craig Paddock, 64, who was perched on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Hotel. Armed with 19 weapons, including assault rifles, Paddock shot indiscriminately into the crowd of 22,000 country music fans gathered at Las Vegas Village for the Route 91 Harvest music festival.

Nella Doccozi grabbed the phone from her mother. “I told Anthony to hang up, put his hands over his head so he wouldn’t get crushed, and look for some help.”

Once the plane landed, Nella Doccozi, immediately reached for her cell phone to call her brother. A sigh of relief passed over both women once they heard Anthony’s voice.

From a hospital bed, Anthony Doccozi told his story. “I was near the stage and Jason Aldean was playing one of my favorite songs,” he said. “Then I heard loud noises; I thought it was firecrackers or maybe part of the show. I soon realized that something was seriously wrong. I looked to my right and saw a girl, get shot. Her white dress was red with blood. She fell to the ground.”

“People started running, pushing, ducking for cover and I kept hearing gunshots,” he recalled. “A lot of gunshots. It would get quiet for a minute and then a new round would start. I started moving with the crowd toward a fence; I thought I could climb it and get out.”

“The next thing I knew I was hit,” said Doccozi. “Before I could even react, I was hit again. I fell to the ground. I was crawling now, still trying to get to that fence. That’s when I got my phone out of my pocket and called my mom. My sister told me to hang up and get help.”

Help arrived in the form of a man and woman, names still unknown, but heroes nonetheless.

“Almost as soon as I hung up with my family, a man in a cowboy hat and a woman in jeans and a tank top reached down and picked me up,” said Anthony Doccozi from Desert Springs Hospital, Las Vegas. “They carried me to a red truck and laid me down in the bed. Moments later they put another person next to me. It was a man. I tried to talk to him, but after a minute, I realized he was dead.”

The man and woman retrieved another person; a woman with blood all over her, according to Doccozi, and put her in the truck’s bed next to Doccozi.

“Even though she was badly hurt she was conscious, he said. “That girl and I held hands as the man and woman raced us to the hospital.”

“As soon as the truck reached the hospital emergency room door, ER workers came straight out with a rolling stretcher and put the girl next to me on it,” he said. “Another bunch of workers came with another stretcher and got me.”

Doccozi was one of the lucky ones. He got shot in the femur and on his lower leg. But he survived. “It’s all still very blurry from when I got into the hospital,” he recalled. “I remember being on a table and the doctors working on me, and then I sort of passed out, and the next thing I knew I was out of the ER and in a hospital room.”

Then Doccozi did exactly what he did earlier in the night: he called his mother. “She started crying and I told her I was going to be okay,” he said. “She and my sister wanted to drive up here at 1 a.m. last night. I insisted they wait until the morning and fly here.”

Fly they did. With a heavy heart and filled with worry, even though Anthony appeared to be safe. “I wasn’t going to rest until I saw my boy,” said Olga Doccozi.

Anthony is shaken, rattled, and facing a long road of physical and mental recovery.

But what he remembers from that night is not the panic, or fear, but the faces of that anonymous man in his cowboy hat and the woman in the tank top. “They saved my life,” he said. “That much I am sure of.”

(Editor’s Note: This story also appeared on

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Gensler Joins OVG
Posted: 27 Sep 2017, 7:00 pm

09-27-17_AndyGensler_200x145.jpgAndy Gensler.

Oak View Group (OVG) has named veteran music industry journalist Andy Gensler as executive editor of its media & conferences division. He will be based out of OVG’s Los Angeles offices and report directly to Ray Waddell, the company’s president, media & conferences, with whom he will formulate and execute editorial strategy for the firm’s media holdings which include Pollstar and Venues Today.

Gensler previously worked as an editor and writer at, where he's covered the music business. Previously, Gensler's varied career included working for the New York Times T-Style Magazine, and Spin. He has written for many publications, including The Village Voice, Rolling Stone and the New York Times, among others.

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Comcast Spectacor CEO Starts Esports Team
Posted: 27 Sep 2017, 7:00 pm

Flyers CEO Dave Scott says he'll seek out an Overwatch arena in Philadelphia that's about a quarter the size of Wells Fargo Center.

(Editor's note: this story first appeared in

Philadelphia Flyers governor and parent company Comcast Spectacor CEO Dave Scott announced Wednesday that he’s building an esports team to compete in a new city-based league operated by Blizzard Activision meant to mirror the structure of conventional sports.

The Philadelphia-based team was named as one of the final three teams signed on to compete in Blizzard’s inaugural Overwatch League. The other two are Dallas-based Team EnVyUS, a veteran esports organization, and Houston-based OpTic Gaming, a leader in first-person-shooter esports.

In July, the Overwatch League added a number of other franchises operated by conventional sports team owners to the 12-team league, including New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft and New York Mets Chief Operating Officer Jeff Wilpon, who will operate the Boston and New York-based teams, respectively. Stan Kroenke, owner of teams including the Los Angeles Rams and Denver Nuggets, purchased a Los Angeles team along with his son, Josh.

The league will be comprised of franchises representing major cities around the world from Asia, Europe and North America. Preseason is set to kick off Dec 6, with the regular season running from Jan.10 through June, with playoffs and finals scheduled for July.

While this isn’t the first time we’ve seen traditional sports owners dabble in esports, the Overwatch League is meant to be the closest such league yet to mirror the structure of traditional sports. The league will have a commissioner and offer team support and revenue-sharing agreements. Like conventional sports, its city-based team headquarters are meant to foster fan engagement and drive local ticket, concessions and merchandise sales.

“I love the idea of the city-based model. It’s kind of structured like a sports league and I think it’s going to add so much to it,” said Scott in an interview with SportTechie.

Scott believes Comcast Spectacor will be able to leverage its storied history in sports and venue management to build a team and fanbase seen as potentially mirroring the success of the Flyers, but on a smaller scale.

While all of the teams this Overwatch season will compete at the Blizzard Arena in Burbank, Calif., these teams will eventually (either in season two or three) expand their presence in their home cities with their own venues and events in an attempt to build fan bases.

Overwatch League hopes to engage more of these kinds of fans with the city-based model. “We’re partnering with many organizations that have venues and local infrastructure that plan to build businesses around these teams,” said Pete Vlastelica, who oversees the Overwatch League for Blizzard.

The Philadelphia Overwatch team (which has not yet been fully built or given a name) would likely compete in a space that has a capacity for 3,000 to 5,000, which would be a quarter of the capacity of the Flyers’ Wells Fargo Center. But Scott said that they’d build “something pretty cool” to attract fans.

“We know how to build a fanbase and we’re in the live entertainment space with Wells Fargo Center and through Comcast Spectacor with 150 facilities in North America,” he said. “That’s what we do, we bring live events to life.”

These nontraditional sports fans are attractive not only because of their age (the vast majority of esports players range in age from 13 to 34, according to statistics cited by Scott during the interview), but also because they are fans of competition, despite stereotypes claiming them to be loners that sit alone in dark basements playing video games.

Overwatch is a multiplayer shooting game

“I think the connotation that these people who play games are not traditional sports fans is correct, but there’s a lot of data showing they still watch sports, just not for three to four hours,” Scott said. These league games are closer to 90 minutes, which Overwatch fans can more easily get behind.

“I was surprised as we started to look at this seriously a few months ago, just the number of gamers worldwide being in the hundreds of millions,” he said. “It’s amazing when you really get into it — 350,000-plus Overwatch players in this market.”

Vlastelica said the city-based model is something “that’s been missing from esports” because it will help to drive demand for esports overall simply by stationing popular teams in major cities.

“We saw how well it worked in traditional sports and felt it needed to be applied to the world of esports,” he told SportTechie. “For those who don’t watch esports today, we think having a team situated in a city near them gives them a reason to follow. Teams are great for creating fans. There’d be a lot fewer baseball fans in Houston (for example) if it weren’t for the Astros.”


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Notre Dame’s Sassano Passes
Posted: 27 Sep 2017, 6:00 pm

Joseph Patrick Sassano Jr. passed away in his home peacefully surrounded by family Sept.19. Sassano worked at the Joyce Center, University of Notre Dame, South Bend, Ind., in administration and management from its opening in 1968 until his retirement in 2003. He helped coordinate a long list of events, ranging from presidential visits to performances by entertainers such as Elvis Presley, Bob Hope, Frank Sinatra, Bruce Springsteen, Harlem Globetrotters and many more.

Sassano was an active member of the International Association of Venue Managers when it was IAAM and as one fellow member put it, one of the old guard. He managed venues when it was a different kind of career and GMs served as hosts and guides. His career was shaped by years as a high school football coach.

He is survived by his wife Carol and four children: Joseph III (Maureen), David (Carolyn), Jennifer (Stephen) D'Ambrosia, and Jessica (Dennis) Payne. He has eight grandchildren; Corinne (Heather Hahn; their two foster daughters) and Colby Sassano; Christian and Isabelle Sassano; Allison D'Ambrosia; Nathan (Dr. Cynthia), Alex, and Seth Payne.

Sassano was involved in numerous community organizations over his 49 years as a resident of South Bend, including the Chamber of Commerce, Press Club, Notre Dame Club of St. Joe Valley where he served as president, and the Italian-American Heritage Society of Notre Dame/Michiana, where he was awarded their Columbus Award for service to community along with serving as that organization’s president.

Sassano was also instrumental in the development of Notre Dame's summer sports camps back in the early 1970s. He attended Notre Dame, earning a bachelor's degree in 1955 and a master's in guidance and counseling in 1959.

He served three years in the United States Marine Corps, where he coached the Quantico football team. His passion for coaching led him to Chicago in 1959, where he spent nine years as head football coach at Archbishop Weber High School

In 1972, Sassano was inducted into the Chicago Catholic League Athletic Coaches' Association Hall of Fame.

“I knew Joe for over 40 years,” said Tom Powell, news ambassador, Outdoor Amusement Business Association. “Being a big Notre Dame fan, Joe arranged it so that I could sit in the press box there, which was great.”

Sassano was a good host to industry friends. “He did a million favors for me,” said Powell. “He’d get me tickets whenever I wanted; he used to hand me the clicker to get into the parking lot.”

“At Joyce Center he was the equivalent of the building manager,” he said. “When we’d go up there, he’d go out of his way for us.”

“He invited my wife and myself into his home many times,” he said. “We’d have a great meal and we’d spend the rest of the night talking sports.”

“Joe was more than just a friend,” said Powell. “He was a great person.”


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Puerto Rico Center Home To 600 FEMA Workers
Posted: 27 Sep 2017, 6:00 pm

Puerto Rico Convention Center stands strong after the devastation that Hurriucane Maria brought to the U.S. territory. 

Although the eye of Hurricane Maria completely destroyed most of Puerto Rico, the island’s convention center sustained minor damage and is now home to 600 FEMA workers and 200 evacuees.

AEG operates the Puerto Rico Convention Center that sits on a bay of the Caribbean Sea.

“Puerto Rico was hit directly by Maria, a Cat5 Hurricane, causing devastation throughout our beautiful island. The Puerto Rico Convention Center (PRCC) held up extremely well; we passed a real life wind test like no other. A true testament of an amazing job by TVS Design and the team that constructed our venue,” said PRCC General Manager Jorge Perez. “Within 48 to 72 hours, we were fully operational again.”

The PRCC is largely made of glass and is located in San Juan. It has a 157,000-sq.-ft. exhibit hall that has 16,965 seats. It also has a large ballroom and meeting space.

“The silver lining for us is the convention center is fairly new. It was built to be able to sustain storms like this,” said Brad Gessner, AEG Facilities senior vice president of convention centers. “There was some leakage and some water that got in the carpet, but within five days, our team was able to wetvac it.”

AEG and the Puerto Rico Convention Center District Authority were well prepared for the destructive Category 5 hurricane before it hit.

“Our team prepares for storms and hurricanes on a yearly basis; these natural phenomena are one of the only downsides of living in a tropical paradise. The week before Hurricane Maria, we had to prepare for Irma, a monster hurricane that was moving straight toward us and fortunately took a northern route that saved us,” Perez said.

“Irma was a blessing in disguise for us as it served as the best possible drill for preparing for a hurricane,” he said. “We ran the before, during and after procedures for Irma and later discussed them with our AEG Safety and Management teams, evaluated and corrected all the necessary details. We were ready for Maria.”

Hurricane Irma, didn’t hit Puerto Rico with as much force as anticipated. The kitchen was fully stocked, and the convention center has three large generators that can power the facility for 30 days.

Most evacuees were sent to schools, but AEG was aware that FEMA would use the convention center for its headquarters prior to Hurricane Maria. The Puerto Rico government did, however, have it set up that it would take refugees from surrounding islands.

“We’re feeding them breakfast, lunch and dinner,” Gessner said. “We were prepared. All is going very well.”

AEG took over management at the Puerto Rico Convention Center in 2016 and was on track to operate in the black for the first time since the venue opened 17 years ago, Gessner said.

“We were confident we were going to have an operation surplus this year. That’s all going to change,” he said. “The island is seriously impacted; it’s devastated.”

Many of the 75 employees — among other groups — are staying at the 550-room Sheraton Hotel that’s next to the convention center.

AEG also manages the Centro de Bellas Artes Luis A. Ferre, which is a 100-year-old performing arts center. It sustained a little more damage than the PRCC, but not too much, Gessner said.

Perez’s home was flooded and many of his employees lost their homes.

“As almost all of the 3.4 million U.S. citizens of Puerto Rico, my home was flooded. Only minor material damage — furniture, carpets. Once you experience such a devastating event, the first thing you do is be grateful that your family and close ones are safe,” said Perez.

“Material things become secondary; employees, neighbors can outweigh and help overcome any loss of property or material things,” he said. “Unfortunately we had employees that lost their homes. While Maria wreaked massive damage in Puerto Rico, dedicated employees slept at PRCC to make sure our building and vital systems/equipment were protected. Some of these employees lost their homes, one of the most difficult things I’ve had to deal with emotionally.”


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Anaheim Opens $190M North Hall
Posted: 27 Sep 2017, 5:00 pm

REPORTING FROM ANAHEIM, CALIF. — Anaheim Convention Center (ACC) has unveiled its largest and most significant expansion in nearly two decades, ACC North. The massive new building is 200,000 sq. ft. which, combined with the rest of ACC, makes the venue one of the few 1 million-plus square footage meeting spaces in North America and the largest on the West Coast. The expansion cost $190 million.

The 22,000-capacity venue was designed by Populous. The two-story facility features 100,000 sq. ft. of column free space on the top level; a 10,000-sq.-ft. balcony which overlooks Disneyland; rigging points spaced 10x10 on each level and pre-function space with more than 2,000 rigging points; 25 ft. ceilings; a 12,000-sq.-ft. kitchen with 6,000-banquet capacity; 1,400 panes of glass; and 1,350 new parking spaces.

TomMorton200.jpgTom Morton, executive director, Anaheim Convention, Sports and Entertainment Department.

“This is a transformative event for the Anaheim Convention Center,” said Tom Morton, executive director of Anaheim’s Convention, Sports & Entertainment Department. “Not only is it our biggest expansion since 2000; it’s also one of the most significant in terms of the features and innovations it brings to Anaheim.”

“With the expansion, the complex is now at 1.8 million sq. ft.,” said Morton. “We can accommodate almost anything. With several major hotels nearby, and all our sunshine, this makes Anaheim the perfect place to bring an event.”

“The interior is designed to evoke the skin of a palm tree trunk," said Morton. “The use of warm materials and natural daylight provide a pleasant and comfortable experience.”

“This is a historical moment for the Anaheim Convention Center and the city of Anaheim,” said Jay Burress, president & CEO, Visit Anaheim. “ACC delivers on the vision we had to build a modern, expansive space that can be completely customizable for a variety of industries and meeting planner needs. This beautiful new space considerably adds to our current offerings and ability to attract more groups to choose Anaheim.”

Ground broke April 21, 2015. The grand opening of the building, Sept. 26, comes on the heels of ACC and the rest of the Anaheim entertainment district setting a new visitor volume for the fourth year in a row. The area hosted 23 million visitors, up 2.4 percent from the previous year, of which 5.8 percent were international visitors. The economic impact to the district last year was a staggering $8.1 billion.

“Four years in a row of surpassing visitor volume and spending records makes it clear that tourism is a key factor in the economic success and prosperity of our local community,” said Burress. “The strength of our local tourism is clearly evident by the positive domestic and international visitor growth, coupled with new hotel development. We anticipate that the next few years will continue to prove the positive economic impact tourism has on local development and the economy.”

Four new hotels are being readied close to ACC. A new $150 million, 466-room JW Marriott is being built adjacent to Anaheim Garden Walk. Replacing the Anaheim Plaza & Suites will be a 580-room property. A $225 million, 600-room hotel will replace the Anabella Hotel, which is adjacent to ACC and Disney is building a new 700-room luxury hotel, the first in nearly 20 years.

“Our hotel partners are terrific,” said Morton. “There is an abundance of places to stay within walking distance of ACC, which sets us apart from a lot of other convention centers.”

ACC currently hosts nearly one million attendees a year. ACC North already has over 75 events booked, including the American Heart Association, Oncology Nursing Society, Society for Science & the Public, and International Society for Technology in Education.

“We’re well on our way,” added Morton. “We’re off to a great start, and I expect it to grow as word catches on about our new addition.”



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Kansas ExpoCentre Selects Spectra
Posted: 27 Sep 2017, 3:00 pm

Spectra is now managing Kansas ExpoCentre, Topeka.

The County of Shawnee, Kan. has picked Spectra by Comcast Spectacor to provide venue management to the Kansas ExpoCentre, Topeka, and its five-facility campus. The building had been managed by SMG for 25 years.

“We’re a few weeks in at this point,” said Kellen Seitz, GM. “We were already coming in, so no surprises, and it’s full steam ahead.” Seitz has been with Spectra seven years, most recently as GM of Muskogee (Okla.) Civic Center.

The contract is for five years with a five-year option. It’s an incentive-based deal with no base management fee. “We’ll be accountable for what we said we’d do and this arrangement gives us the responsibility to manage the operation closely,” said Seitz.

The Kansas ExpoCentre, is comprised of five facilities, including the 7,400-seat Landon Arena, home of the Topeka Roadrunners hockey team; Expo Hall, a 48,000-sq.-ft. venue for trade shows, conventions and expositions; the Domer Livestock  Arena; Heritage Hall; and a standalone 17,800-sq.ft. Agriculture Hall. All this sits on 88 acres.

“The real focus for us is the sales and marketing approach,” said Seitz. “Spectra’s knowledge and experience in sales and marketing of venues is something the county found valuable when we went through the RFP process.”

To meet this goal, Spectra created three new positions: marketing director, corporate partnership director and convention sales manager. “The three positions will go a long way in bringing the community back into the picture,” he said.

Currently the complex hosts 600 events a year. “It’s always a goal to expand the number of events and increase the quality,” said Seitz.

“We look forward to becoming active members of the community and creating new opportunities for the ExpoCentre and the surrounding region,” said Rick Hontz, regional VP. “Spectra has a lot of corporate partnerships and resources that we are bringing with us; we are in a unique position to leverage some of our local venues to create routing opportunities and other partnerships.”

Spectra also operates the nearby Silverstein Eye Centers Arena in Independence, Mo.; and the Overland Park (Kan.) Convention Center.

“The routing scenarios are something we’re keen on,” said Seitz. “We think we can bring content back to the Topeka market.”

Also in the works is a $45-million renovation project that’s in the planning stage. “We’re working with the county and hopefully breaking ground in the next 18-24 months,” said Seitz. “We need to bring some of the facilities back up to industry standards and install new technologies and customer focused experiential pieces to give a better experience to our guests.” The complex will remain functional during the renovation.

The concessionaire is Heartland of America; the firm just renewed their contract with the county earlier this year. “They run a great operation,” said Seitz. “The concessions do well. We’re also looking at expanding the operation when we make the changes.”

“We realized that we needed a company that could focus and improve our sales and marketing campaigns, as well as develop long-lasting partnerships with local businesses, and Spectra can do all of that for us,” said County Commissioner Bob Archer. “Spectra’s deep experience gained from managing similar properties will be a valuable asset to our $45-million-dollar renovation project that is forthcoming. We are excited for what they will bring to our community.”


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Hot Tickets for September 27, 2017
Posted: 27 Sep 2017, 2:00 pm

The 2017 Mr. Olympia competition was held Sept. 15-16 at Orleans Arena, Las Vegas, and landed on our Hot Tickets chart this week. The professional bodybuilding competition, which saw a crowd of nearly 11,000 and grossed over $1.5 million, had special guest Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson announce Phil Heath as this year’s winner. This is Heath’s seventh consecutive title; he is now tied with Arnold Schwarzenegger for the Mr. Olympia record. Heath earned the Eugen Sandow Trophy and pocketed $400,000 for his efforts.

The much-anticipated Canelo vs. Golovkin fight Sept. 16 at T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas, grossed over $27 million with ticket prices ranging from $300-$5,000. The packed house witnessed 12 full rounds of boxing action, extraordinary endurance, and athletic showmanship; however, at the end of the match, the two fighters, and the 18,000 fans in attendance had to wait for the winner to be decided by three judges. Unfortunately, much to the chagrin of the fighters, attendees and those watching from home, the decision was an unsatisfying draw in which no winner was named. Both fighters are considering the possibility of a rematch.

HOT TICKETS is a weekly summary of the top acts and ticket sales as reported to VT PULSE. Following are the top 20 concerts and events, the top 5 in each seating capacity category, which took place between Aug. 29-Sept. 26.

15,001 or More Seats

10,001-15,000 Seats

5,001-10,000 Seats

5,000 or Fewer Seats

1) Canelo vs. Golovkin
Gross Sales: $27,059,850; Venue: T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas; Attendance: 18,252; Ticket Range: $5,000-$300; Promoter: Golden Boy Promotions; Dates: Sept. 16; No. of Shows: 1

2) The Weeknd
Gross Sales: $1,548,116; Venue: Air Canada Centre, Toronto; Attendance: 15,652; Ticket Range: $141.49-$32.14; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Sept. 9; No. of Shows: 1

3) Depeche Mode
Gross Sales: $1,487,127; Venue: Air Canada Centre, Toronto; Attendance: 15,080; Ticket Range: $120.47-$48.11; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Sept. 3; No. of Shows: 1

4) Micky Flanagan
Gross Sales: $1,433,785; Venue: The O2 Arena, London; Attendance: 31,153; Ticket Range: $50.53-$33.69; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Sept. 14-15; No. of Shows: 2

5) Alejandro Fernandez
Gross Sales: $1,237,100; Venue: T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas; Attendance: 9,614; Ticket Range: $225-$69; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Sept. 15; No. of Shows: 1

1) Neil Diamond
Gross Sales: $1,199,811; Venue: Hallenstadion, Zurich; Attendance: 6,202; Ticket Range: $304.66-$82.26; Promoter: Act Entertainment; Dates: Sept. 13; No. of Shows: 1

2) Marc Anthony
Gross Sales: $1,024,331; Venue: Mandalay Bay Events Center, Las Vegas; Attendance: 7,205; Ticket Range: $249-$79; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Sept. 16; No. of Shows: 1

3) Tim McGraw, Faith Hill
Gross Sales: $877,268; Venue: Intrust Bank Arena, Wichita, Kan.; Attendance: 8,390; Ticket Range: $119.50-$69.50; Promoter: Messina Touring Group; Dates: Sept. 21; No. of Shows: 1

4) Tim McGraw, Faith Hill
Gross Sales: $789,977; Venue: Jacksonville (Fla.) Veterans Memorial Arena; Attendance: 8,064; Ticket Range: $118-$68; Promoter: AEG Presents; Dates: Sept. 16; No. of Shows: 1

5) Marco Antonio Solis
Gross Sales: $756,949; Venue: Mandalay Bay Events Center, Las Vegas; Attendance: 5,726; Ticket Range: $276.50-$79.21; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Sept. 15; No. of Shows: 1

1) Mr. Olympia
Gross Sales: $1,517,130; Venue: Orleans Arena, Las Vegas; Attendance: 10,887; Ticket Range: $330-$92; Promoter: Mr. Olympia; Dates: Sept. 15-16; No. of Shows: 2

2) Jonathan Lee
Gross Sales: $568,329; Venue: Park Theater at Monte Carlo, Las Vegas; Attendance: 4,459; Ticket Range: $198-$78; Promoter: MGM Resorts; Dates: Sept. 9; No. of Shows: 1

3) Taeyang
Gross Sales: $539,949; Venue: The Theater at Madison Square Garden, New York; Attendance: 3,509; Ticket Range: $319-$75; Promoter: KPOPME; Dates: Sept. 1; No. of Shows: 1

4) I Love The 90’s
Gross Sales: $489,102; Venue: Mohegan Sun Arena, Uncasville, Conn.; Attendance: 6,846; Ticket Range: $89.50-$33; Promoter: In-house, Universal Attractions; Dates: Sept. 2; No. of Shows: 1

5) Cirque du Soleil - OVO
Gross Sales: $475,041; Venue: Place Bell, Laval, Quebec; Attendance: 8,739; Ticket Range: $121.28-$31.52; Promoter: Cirque du Soleil; Dates: Sept. 13-17; No. of Shows: 6

1) Cher
Gross Sales: $2,752,025; Venue: The Theater at MGM National Harbor, Oxon Hill, Md.; Attendance: 14,560; Ticket Range: $360-$120; Promoter: AEG Presents, MGM Resorts; Dates: Aug. 31-Sept. 10; No. of Shows: 6

2) The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
Gross Sales: $1,016,123; Venue: The Smith Center for the Performing Arts, Las Vegas; Attendance: 12,520; Ticket Range: $105-$32; Promoter: In-house; Dates: Sept. 19-24; No. of Shows: 8

3) Gloria Trevi vs Alejandra Guzman
Gross Sales: $919,771; Venue: The Colosseum at Caesars Palace, Las Vegas; Attendance: 7,550; Ticket Range: $250-$59.50; Promoter: AEG Presents, Caesars Entertainment; Dates: Sept. 14-17; No. of Shows: 2

4) Rent
Gross Sales: $831,151; Venue: David A. Straz, Jr. Center for the Performing Arts, Tampa, Fla.; Attendance: 14,899; Ticket Range: $90-$27.50; Promoter: In-house; Dates: Sept. 19-24; No. of Shows: 8

5) Jerry Seinfeld
Gross Sales: $800,784; Venue: The Colosseum at Caesars Palace, Las Vegas; Attendance: 6,569; Ticket Range: $165-$82.50; Promoter: AEG Presents, Caesars Entertainment; Dates: Sept. 8-9; No. of Shows: 2

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


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Tampa Venue Houses Hurricane First Responders
Posted: 27 Sep 2017, 1:00 pm

As Hurricane Irma came barreling toward Florida’s west coast, Tampa’s Raymond James Stadium, home to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, became a main staging area for housing the city’s police and fire personnel as well as members of the military.

In all, the 65,000-seat stadium, opened in 1998, housed approximately 1,200 first responders during the storm. Some Buccaneers players also sheltered their families in the locker room, and a few venue employees were put to work, including catering and cleaning staff.

“Everyone had to be off the street when the storm hits, so we serve as a safe haven for first responders during the storm and after,” said Eric Hart, president/CEO of Tampa Sports Authority, which manages Raymond James Stadium. “We weren’t the only place to take these personnel, but we were the largest.”

Raymond James Stadium is rated for hurricane force winds, centrally located and on high ground in an area that doesn’t flood. “The stadium wasn’t designed as a hurricane shelter for the community, but rather a central location for emergency service personnel,” said Hart.

The facility also was used to store about 150 police, amphibious and fire department vehicles “We started seeing these modes of transport arrive a couple days ahead of the storm, but this was the first time the Marines sent their amphibian vehicles,” said Hart. “We had the building stuffed tight, with everyone positioned in different portions of the building.”

The police, fire department and military were fed three meals a day in one catering area during their stay, which lasted approximately five days.

Although the stadium was put into similar action during Hurricane Charley in 2004, this was the first time a gathering of this scope with a larger contingency of military personnel had taken place.

Hart estimated that the amount of people involved in the staging was about three times larger than any other.

About 600 officers from the Tampa Police Department utilized the west side of the venue, working in patrol and hurricane operations throughout the storm.

“We have three tiers, depending on the storm’s severity and what personnel are needed to respond,” said Sargent Jerrett Seal of the Tampa Police Department. “When we activate tier three, like in this situation, it’s all hands on deck, and we utilize the stadium.”

Eddy Durkin, Tampa Police Department spokesperson, estimates that one-third of its department was housed at the stadium during the peak of the storm.

“Once the winds died down, they could quickly deploy to the streets and assess the damage,” he said. “It’s a benefit to have our personnel and vehicles all in one safe location.”

The stadium had four of its staff members on call and 15 working in the catering and cleaning operations to accommodate the first responders.

“This time around, we learned that in the future we need more staff in the building, like electricians, caterers and cleaning staff, since we become a working city,” said Hart.



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Congratulations 2017 Silver Spoon Award recipients!
Posted: 26 Sep 2017, 2:00 pm

Congratulations to our 2017 Silver Spoon Award recipients!  Learn more about the recipients in the October issue!

Jade Peacock Speakeasy
2017 San Diego County Fair (Del Mar, Calif.)
Creator: Sue Walls (Dir. of Catering & Dining Premier Food Services /SMG)

Premier Food Services created the Jade Peacock Speakeasy as an exclusive experience where select San Diego County fairgoers who got word of the bar’s secret location could enjoy craft cocktails and an exclusive view of the Fair. The goal of the concept was to disrupt preconceived ideas of the county fair by creating a fun and authentic experience. Honoring the Chinese immigrants who worked on the railroads and in gold mining camps in the late 1800s, the Jade Peacock was open to fairgoers 21+ for those able to find the speakeasy on Friday and Saturday evenings. Promoted via social media and press coverage, the Speakeasy’s adventurous visitors had to find a Jade Peacock card with the password of the day at one of 3 theme bar locations. If the bar was at capacity, the hostess would take a cell number and text back when space allowed. Guests were guided on a winding, clandestine walk through a farming exhibit and an underground tunnel up to the highest spot on the Fairgrounds with the secretive path ending at the 5th floor Speakeasy and its elaborately deco

Golden 1 Center (Sacramento, CA)
Creator: Santana Diaz (Legends Exec. Chef)

“Juanchos” reflect the values of our 10-point charter and take the arena’s fabulous nachos – a four cheese blend crafted from Petaluma creamery (70 miles away), a 50/50 blend of Casa Sanchez purple quinoa/blue corn totopos and white corn organic & GMO-free tortilla chips, house made guacamole, and slow roasted pulled pork carnitas sourced from national recognized Rancho Llano Seco (75 miles) – and add a Golden 1 Center sustainability and flavor twist. During the carnitas process, pork skins would previously be discarded. But the culinary team led by Executive Chef Santana Diaz found an innovative use to enhance the flavor profile of the nachos at the arena. After the steam and fry process, the team has created airy, light chicharrones, or fried pork skins, that add a new flavor profile to the nachos. Named for the venue’s first general manager (Juan Rodriguez), Juanchos ($13) embraces the farm-to-fork and sustainability ethos of the arena and teams – local ingredients from responsible sources and a deliberate effort to reduce waste. Juanchos has even graced the pages of Vogue, described as the “perfect pigginess” combination.

Seafood Sustainability by Partnering with Ocean Wise
Air Canada Centre (Toronto, Canada)

For the 2016-17 season, Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment and Air Canada Centre took a bold step toward seafood sustainability by partnering with Ocean Wise. Ocean Wise, in partnership with the Vancouver Aquarium, is a global organization that has been reshaping the seafood industry through lobbying, education and fact finding for the past 12 years. They currently have 750 partners globally and thousands of committed purchasers. Air Canada Centre is the first and only professional sports arena to partner with Ocean Wise. In all of MLSE’s venues, including Air Canada Centre, BMO Field, Ricoh Coliseum, Real Sports Bar & Grill and e11even Restaurant, we have made a commitment to source all of our seafood through traceable sustainable sources. Last year alone MLSE purchased in excess of $400,000 of sustainable fish and seafood for all of our venues, with 75% of that in Air Canada Centre alone. Along with our relationships with Second Harvest for food diversion, GFL for food waste composting and a commitment to locally sourced products, MLSE has made a pledge to its fans and the city of Toronto to be a responsible member of the community and lead by example when it comes to protecting our community, our oceans as well as our future.

Ad Deadline: October 2, 2017
Contact your Account Executive to Reserve A Congratulatory Ad Today!

Jim McNeil
Carolinas, Georgia, Southeastern and Midwestern U.S.,
(207) 699-3343

Rich DiGiacomo
Western and Northeastern U.S., International
(310) 429-3678

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Universities Partner With Kinduct
Posted: 20 Sep 2017, 9:00 pm

James Madison University, Harrisonburg, Va., and North Carolina State University, Chapel Hill, have partnered with Kinduct.

James Madison University, Harrisonburg, Va., and North Carolina State University, Chapel Hill, are the two latest schools to form partnerships with Kinduct, a leading data and analytics software provider, that will help the medical staffs, coaching staffs and athletes with additional information.

JMU and NC State join schools like Louisville in this partnership, with the Cardinals and Kinduct joining forces back in 2016.

Through collecting and analyzing a set of data points, Kinduct’s Athlete Management System (AMS) technology can allow for coaches to make decisions regarding their athlete’s performance, injury mitigation and recovery as well as how to prepare for their next competitor.

At NC State, the technology will be used in all Olympic sports.

“Having an intuitive monitoring platform, that supports our existing process, will help achieve our goals,” Nate Brookerson, NC State director of Strength and conditioning of Olympic sports, said in a statement. “Kinduct’s platform expands our capabilities to collect, manage and utilize our student performance data in a meaningful way. The coaching staff is excited to introduce the Kinduct platform this upcoming academic year, and see the results.”

“We are thrilled to have Kinduct on board and working with our programs. This partnership will assist us in our mission to foster a student-athlete-centered community of professionals that communicates and collaborates to ensure the health, safety and general well-being of the JMU student-athletes, while maximizing the development of their athletic performance and pursuit of championships.”

JMU Associate A.D. for Integrated Health and Sports Performance, Tom Kuster said in a statement. “Kinduct’s platform will expand our capabilities to manage our student-athletes and their performance data. As a new school year approaches, we look forward to delivering Kinduct’s AMS to our athletes and staff in an effort to set them up for success.”

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Champions of Magic Cross the Pond
Posted: 20 Sep 2017, 6:00 pm

The Champions of Magic disappear while taking their final bow, only to reappear in the lobby as the astonished audience exits.

A 40-foot container of illusions is making its way to the East Coast for the U.S. debut of Champions of Magic, an ensemble cast of five internationally-known magicians, at Whiteaker Center, Harrisburg, Pa., Oct. 3.

It is a fitting rehearsal and premier site because the theater is housed in a Center of Science and Art and “that’s what magic is, science and art,” said Alex Jarrett, producer, RIP Productions. The show debuted in the U.K. four years ago and has played to 250,000 fans over the last three, at an average ticket price of £32.

The plan is to take it to 100 markets in the U.S. through early 2018, more than 30 of which have been booked. Steve Brush, Patriot Artists Agency, Nashville, is booking the show and is impressed with the strategy for building a theater following.

The goal, according to Jarrett and Brush, is to turn this into an arena play in two years time, first in Britain, then in the U.S.

champions600.jpgAlex Jarrett, left, producer, joins the cast of Champions of Magic, including Grand Illusionists Young & Strange, Queen of Close-up Fay Presto, International Stage Magician of the Year Edward Hilsum and Master Mind Reader Alex McAleer.

Bookings are a combination of buys, promotes and co-promotes. The purchase price has been kept low, $20,000-$25,000, so everyone can make money. “Alex is very well-versed in the production of this show,” Brush said. Knowing its potential and sales record and to jump start its U.S. run, Jarrett is co-promoting about 10 of the first 30 shows. The rest are purchases.

The gross potential at an average ticket price of $40 is $60,000 for a 1,500-seater, so a $25,000 guarantee is very fair, Brush noted. He likes to book venues that are excited about the show, because it’s proven that excited buyers generate an additional 30 percent in sales, versus a buyer who just needs to fill a season.

Target venues are 1,500-2,000 seats, but Jarrett has learned to modify the show to as few as 500 seats if necessary. Having played the U.K. for three years, he’s faced some major venue challenges.

“U.S. theaters are better equipped and easier to install than those in the U.K., which were built 150-200 years ago,” Jarrett said. “American theaters have more rigging facilities, more flying bars. The issue in the UK is you come off stage and walk into a wall; there is no wing space. And the dressing rooms might be eight stories up. They are designed for Victorian people to run around and do music-hall shows, not for a huge illusion show with pyrotechnics. It can make for a long day.”

The show runs two-and-a-half hours, including a 20-minute intermission. There are five world-class illusionists in the show: Grand Illusionists Young & Strange, Queen of Close-up Fay Presto, International Stage Magician of the Year Edward Hilsum and Master Mind Reader Alex McAleer. There are 18 major illusions performed.

Jarrett noted these are seasoned magicians who have been working together for a long time. The production flows; it’s not act after act. There is considerable interaction and playing off each other among the acts. Brush loves the grand finale, unlike any he’s seen. The five magicians disappear as they are taking their final bow, right in front of the astounded audience, only to reappear in the lobby as they exit the theater.

A meet and greet ensues after the show, and the magicians are committed to staying till the last fan leaves. New to the U.S. is a VIP pre-show package, for an upsell of $50 and limited to 25 people, who get one-on-one time with the magicians 30 minutes before the house opens. They also get a VIP laminate, a T-shirt, a magic trick and photo and video takeaways on how to become a professional magician.

Jarrett is appreciative of the established audience for magic in the U.S., an audience that just doesn’t exist in the U.K. He had been producing ensemble comedy shows when the idea of a magic show dawned in October 2013. The producers lined up 20 acts and tried them in groups of five at four shows to see if the concept would work. They promoted a second tour in 2014 with the five best magicians from the four groups and have been working with them ever since.

“They’ve become a real ensemble team. It’s much more than a variety show,” Jarrett said. “They play off each other, reference each other, and a theme runs through the show.”

This year will be the first arena show in the U.K. at the 4,000-seat Brighton Arena. Tickets in the U.K. are still £32 for upcoming shows.

It is a theatrical production with a huge lighting rig, Jarrett said. “The event has a concert feel, like a big rock show, and we want to break into that world – arena shows.”

The U.S. is blessed with some “unbelievable magicians,” who have set the stage well for the Champions' shows, Jarrett said. “The genre is family. We just happen to be doing magic.”

Champions of Magic travels in a 53-foot articulated tractor trailer, “packed to the roof,” from StageCall for equipment and one 50-foot tour bus from Star Coaches, for the five illusionists, one aerial circus performer and five crew travelling. “We’re right on the verge of being a two-truck show,” Jarrett said.

Setup starts at 10 a.m. for a 7:30 p.m. show. Teardown takes two-and-a-half hours.

Because of the power difference between the U.K. and U.S., some new equipment was purchased. Others could be converted. For instance, they had to buy a new lighting rig, a $120,000-investment, for the U.S., but thanks to new technology, it will still work when they return to the U.K. Speaking ballpark, Jarrett said any new illusion is generally a $40,000-investment.

U.S. ticket sales started in June and have shown there is a strong passion for magic in North America, Jarrett said. “Winnipeg [Pantages Playhouse] sold out 30 percent of the room within the morning of the shows going on sale. Cleveland [Playhouse Square, Dec. 27-29] did over $100,000 in the first two weeks. It’s a team approach, we engage [in marketing] with them.”

Going forward, the show has options to tour China and Australia in late 2019, though moving China to late 2018 is possible. The problem with China is the language barrier and cultural differences. The show is all spoken. “We would reformat to fit the market. They’d have to learn Mandarin,” Jarrett said.

Oct. 5 – State Theater, Ithica, N.Y.
Oct. 6 & 7 - The Levoy, Millville, N.J.
Oct. 8 – Infinite Energy Center, Duluth, Ga.
Oct. 10 & 11 - Sharon Morse PAC, The Villages, Fla. 
Oct. 12- The Orpheum, New Orleans
Oct. 13- Arlington (Texas) Music Hall
Oct. 17 – Weinberg Center, Frederick, Md.
Oct. 20 - Warner Theatre, Erie, Pa.
Oct. 21 - Proctors, Schenectady, N. Y.
Oct. 25, Weidner Theatre, Green Bay, Wis.
Oct. 26 - Genesee Theatre, Waukegan, Ill.
Oct. 28 - Emporia (Kan.) Granada Theatre
Nov. 3 - Casino Regina (Saskatchewan)
Nov. 4 - Pantages Playhouse, Winnipeg, Manitoba
Nov. 8 - Union Colony Civic Center Greeley, Colo.
Nov. 9 - Rose Wagner PAC, Salt Lake City, Utah
Nov. 10 - Thousand Oaks (Calif.) PAC
Nov. 12 - Northern Quest Casino Airway Heights, Spokane, Wash.
Nov. 15 - Cal Poly Arts, San Luis Obispo, Calif.
Nov. 16 - Sycuan Casino, El Cajon, Calif.
Nov. 17 - Grand Theatre, Tracey, Calif.
Nov. 18 - Cerritos (Calif.) PAC

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Flakus: From Fairs To Festivals
Posted: 20 Sep 2017, 4:00 pm

GF Strategies founder and president, Greg Flakus.

In 1992, Greg Flakus and his firm accepted a project to manage the food and beverage (F&B) services at the Oregon State Fair, Salem. The project led to the beginning of what would lead to working with 53 fairs in 20 states from San Diego, Calif. to Essex Junction, Vt.  After 25 years, Flakus is moving his company from the fair space to the festival and venue space. Venues Today caught up with the F&B strategist to learn lessons gleaned from his time as a fair-food guru, and his thoughts on the state-of-play in the new areas he’s looking to conquer.

Why did you start GF Stategies?

Flakus: I was asked by Don Hillman, Oregon State Fair CEO, to take on a nine-month project to look at the F&B program. I planned on returning to do my work in public relations after that. I went down and took a look and decided they need to do a few things better, including how they tracked their sales, and I put together some systems, and some forms, and made it tighter and more professional. As soon as that ended, the Deschutes County Fair, Redmond, Ore., asked me to do the same thing and a business was born.

Fifty-three fairs later, what are your takeaways?

When I started this company, most fairs were using staff members to run their F&B programs. They farmed out carnivals, parking and entertainment buying but not F&B. We were the first company to provide this service as an actual business and put in systems. So my first thought is, ‘don’t run your own F&B unless you know what you’re doing,’ and my second thought is, ‘don’t run it without a foolproof accounting system.’

Are fairs economy-proof?

Surprisingly, fairs do better in bad economies because people put off the big theme park trips and stay home and go to the fair.

Gate fee or free entrance?

Fairs are starting to look at the free-entry model and doing well with it. More people come and customers spend more inside at concessions. Fairs keep 100 percent of the gate fee and have to share with concessionaires if they don’t have one. It’s a trade-off.

Flat-fee or percentage model?

If your fair is still on a flat-fee you need to move to the percentage model. The large fairs in California started the trend, and Don Hillman and I picked up the ball and ran with it. After showing it to several fairs in the Pacific Northwest, I introduced it to the Houston Livestock Show and then to every fair I consulted for. Most fairs are now at 18-20 percent of the gross. In California they are at 28 percent.

Other best practices?

Better signage, less stands but better quality, encourage existing stands to come up with new menu items, have a minimum price for items so that stands aren’t competing against each other and starting price wars. This comes into play with nonprofits that can sell things cheaper because they usually have no labor or travelling costs.

Why are you leaving the fair space?

Most of my contracts are for three years. During that time, we find a lot of the shrinkage, train the staff, and we get them to a level they can go on. Most of the fairs are now doing it with our system using their own staff, or are happy staying with a flat fee. I decided the ability to get into more fairs wasn’t going to happen and I’ve had a good run with it. I’m focusing now on festivals, arenas and stadiums.

How is working with festivals, arenas and stadiums different from working with fairs?

The biggest difference on the stadium and arena side is that they have events year-round, almost every weekend. They have the opportunity to realize F&B revenue 52 weeks a year. On the other hand, festivals are even shorter than fairs, usually two-five days, and they need to jam in as much F&B sales as they can in their short window. If you don’t get your money in that time period, you don’t get your money.

What are the key trends you've seen in festivals, stadiums and arenas?

VIP continues to grow at music festivals. Fans are willing to pay increasingly higher festival charges for enhanced VIP experiences. Coachella, BottleRock and KABOO all crossed the $2,000-per-ticket line for VIP experiences and sold out.

Food offerings are now not just prepared in advance. More chefs are seen on-site preparing the offerings fresh and right in front of the festival attendee. Per person plate charges are now in the $12 to $15 range; two years ago this figure was below $10. Beverage offerings are now more upscale, featuring local bars with their signature drinks.

Experience within the experience is big now, including pop-up surprises and music groups coming together for surprise jam sessions. This is all giving the attendees a special experience. Some events have seen declines in ticket sales as they move from two days to three or four as they expand from three weekends to four and are finding that sales are just spread out over the timeframe. You need solid data before shaking your dates up like this.

Social media continues to be bigger all the time. Events enabling meet-ups via social media sites are very trendy. Sponsor measurement is still a big challenge. How to value the cost of being at events is still evolving.

What is your take on cashless?

Cashless is changing everything and revolutionizing F&B. Festivals are already doing it, venues are slowly getting onboard and fairs will go to that model soon. It also makes the back-of-house work easier because they don’t have to get reporting from each vendor; it’s all on the cashless database.

Final thoughts?

In the end, it’s all about relationships. I’ve had so many people introduce me to other people and talk about my services and it’s really gratifying. Keep your eyes open, and if an opportunity presents itself, go with it.

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Hot Tickets for September 20, 2017
Posted: 19 Sep 2017, 6:00 pm

Kid Rock performed at ANZ Stadium, Sydney.

Robert James Ritchie, better known as Kid Rock, is making his way around North America this year with a small-scale tour that made a stop at Allen County War Memorial Coliseum, Fort Wayne, Ind., making our Hot Tickets chart this week. The sold-out performance started with political talk and a tease of a possible U.S. Senate run in 2018 which drew rounds of cheers, but quickly turned into a carnivalesque atmosphere that included jugglers, little person clowns, and stilt walkers. It seemed as if Rock was telling the 8,500 fans in attendance that if he were elected into office, a carnival would ensue. The concertgoers saw ticket prices ranged from $20-$90, and the Live Nation-promoted event grossed nearly $500,000. Tonight, Kid Rock will be wrapping up his six-show run, Sept. 12-20, as the first headliner of the brand new Little Caesars Arena, Detroit.

Marco Antonio Solis, who won Billboard’s Lifetime Achievement Award last year, is on the road this year celebrating 40 years in the music industry with his highly anticipated U.S. tour. Solis, along with special guests Jessie & Joy, performed at Infinite Energy Arena, Duluth, Ga., Sept. 2, grossing over $500,000. The iconic Mexican singer thrilled the 5,000 concertgoers in attendance by playing a selection of tunes that commemorated 40 years of musical hits from his 18 studio albums. Fans can catch up with Solis at The Forum, Los Angeles, Oct. 13-14.

HOT TICKETS is a weekly summary of the top acts and ticket sales as reported to VT PULSE. Following are the top 20 concerts and events, the top 5 in each seating capacity category, which took place between Aug. 22-Sept. 20.

15,001 or More Seats

10,001-15,000 Seats

5,001-10,000 Seats

5,000 or Fewer Seats

1) Ozuna
Gross Sales: $1,657,937; Venue: Coliseo de Puerto Rico, San Juan; Attendance: 27,325; Ticket Range: $200-$20; Promoter: Mr. Sold Out; Dates: Sept. 15-16; No. of Shows: 2

2) Depeche Mode
Gross Sales: $1,197,758; Venue: Bell Centre, Montreal; Attendance: 14,566; Ticket Range: $121.86-$28.12; Promoter: evenko, Live Nation; Dates: Sept. 5; No. of Shows: 1

3) Ed Sheeran
Gross Sales: $1,144,533; Venue: AmericanAirlines Arena, Miami; Attendance: 12,813; Ticket Range: $99.50-$39.50; Promoter: Messina Touring Group; Dates: Aug. 30; No. of Shows: 1

4) Ed Sheeran
Gross Sales: $1,134,012; Venue: PNC Arena, Raleigh; Attendance: 13,805; Ticket Range: $89.50-$39.50; Promoter: Messina Touring Group; Dates: Sept. 2; No. of Shows: 1

5) Ed Sheeran
Gross Sales: $1,112,572; Venue: AT&T Center, San Antonio; Attendance: 13,928; Ticket Range: $89.50-$39.50; Promoter: Messina Touring Group; Dates: Aug. 22; No. of Shows: 1

1) Tim McGraw, Faith Hill
Gross Sales: $783,563; Venue: Allen County War Memorial Coliseum, Fort Wayne, Ind.; Attendance: 9,602; Ticket Range: $117.50-$67.50; Promoter: Messina Touring Group, AEG Presents; Dates: Sept. 9; No. of Shows: 1

2) Marco Antonio Solis
Gross Sales: $564,211; Venue: Infinite Energy Arena, Duluth, Ga.; Attendance: 4,917; Ticket Range: $199.50-$59.50; Promoter: Zamora Entertainment, Loud And Alive; Dates: Sept. 2; No. of Shows: 1

3) Kid Rock
Gross Sales: $498,879; Venue: Allen County War Memorial Coliseum, Fort Wayne, Ind.; Attendance: 8,464; Ticket Range: $93-$18; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Sept. 8; No. of Shows: 1

4) Shreya Ghoshal
Gross Sales: $245,417; Venue: Infinite Energy Arena, Duluth, Ga.; Attendance: 2,906; Ticket Range: $263-$53; Promoter: Paracha Entertainment; Dates: Sept. 10; No. of Shows: 1

5) Future
Gross Sales: $206,333; Venue: Atlantic City (N.J.) Boardwalk Hall; Attendance: 7,295; Ticket Range: $99.99-$19.99; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Aug. 24; No. of Shows: 1

1) Ariana Grande
Gross Sales: $1,624,686; Venue: ICC Sydney Theatre; Attendance: 16,505; Ticket Range: $122.36-$81.53; Promoter: Live Nation Australia; Dates: Sept. 8-9; No. of Shows: 2

2) Dave Chappelle, Ali Wong, John Mayer
Gross Sales: $749,257; Venue: Radio City Music Hall, New York; Attendance: 5,926; Ticket Range: $163.50-$83.50; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Aug. 24; No. of Shows: 1

3) Dave Chappelle, Yasiin Bey, Talib Kweli, Chris Tucker
Gross Sales: $725,905; Venue: Radio City Music Hall, New York; Attendance: 5,927; Ticket Range: $193.50-$83.50; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Aug. 23; No. of Shows: 1

4) Depeche Mode
Gross Sales: $700,478; Venue: Mohegan Sun Arena, Uncasville, Conn.; Attendance: 6,719; Ticket Range: $129-$79; Promoter: In-house, WME ; Dates: Sept. 1; No. of Shows: 1

5) Chris Tomlin
Gross Sales: $631,354; Venue: Red Rocks Amphitheatre, Morrison, Colo.; Attendance: 15,402; Ticket Range: $89.95-$14.73; Promoter: Awakening Events; Dates: Sept. 5-6; No. of Shows: 2

1) Disney’s Aladdin
Gross Sales: $864,947; Venue: Orpheum Theatre, Minneapolis; Attendance: 11,121; Ticket Range: $151-$21; Promoter: Hennepin Theatre Trust, Broadway Across America; Dates: Sept. 15-17; No. of Shows: 5

2) Jason Isbell
Gross Sales: $266,000; Venue: Chicago Theatre; Attendance: 5,733; Ticket Range: $56-$36; Promoter: NS2, MSG Chicago; Dates: Sept. 1-2; No. of Shows: 2

3) Chicago
Gross Sales: $237,090; Venue: San Diego Civic Theatre; Attendance: 2,796; Ticket Range: $110-$65; Promoter: Nederlander Concerts; Dates: Sept. 3; No. of Shows: 1

4) Priest Tyaire presents Momma’s Boy
Gross Sales: $218,510; Venue: Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre, Atlanta; Attendance: 3,780; Ticket Range: $64.50-$44.50; Promoter: Marvin Webster; Dates: Sept. 8-9; No. of Shows: 3

5) Chicago
Gross Sales: $190,420; Venue: Vina Robles Amphitheatre, Paso Robles, Calif.; Attendance: 2,996; Ticket Range: $95-$45; Promoter: Nederlander Concerts; Dates: Sept. 2; No. of Shows: 1

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


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Spectra Takes Over Lincoln's Railyard
Posted: 19 Sep 2017, 5:20 pm

Night time at the Railyard, Lincoln, Neb., which Spectra will now manage.

Nothing is likely to derail the new dynamism being felt at the Lincoln, Neb. downtown enclave known as the Railyard on Canopy Street, the premier entertainment district in the Cornhusker state capital.

That excitement results from Spectra by Comcast Spectacor's selection to deliver venue management, food services, hospitality and partnerships to the Railyard. Spectra has tabbed seven-year company veteran Brian Krajewski, most recently director of marketing with Tsongas Center, Lowell, Mass. as property general manager.

Over his career, Krajewski has also shepherded marketing efforts for Spectra at the Santa Ana Star Center, Rio Rancho, N.M., and Glens Falls (N.Y.) Civic Center.

Chris Connolly, general manager of the Iowa Event Center, Des Moines, was integrally involved in the selection of Spectra and of Krajewski.  TDP Phase One, LLC, a partnership between WRK, LLC and Chief Industries, made the initial move, he said.

“WRK reached out to our business development folks in Philadelphia,” he recalled. “As talks got more serious about us taking over management of the Railyard, it made sense for me to go out there, as I'm just a three-hour drive away.

“The Railyard is similar to what we do at Xfinity Live in Philadelphia and, at the end of the day, is all about the business we're in – entertainment, marketing and advertising.”

The dense and compact geography of the Railyard helps explain its entertainment mecca status. The district is situated across the street from Pinnacle Bank Arena, where the Nebraska Cornhuskers play their basketball games. The arena just announced that it would host a series of concerts by country music legend Garth Brooks in October. 

Memorial Stadium, where the Cornhuskers football team plays its games, is a 10-minute walk away, Connolly said.  And if that's not enough, Lincoln's Minor League Baseball franchise, the Lincoln Saltdogs of Independent Professional Baseball's American Association, plays its games just steps from the Railyard at Haymarket Park.

The Railyard features 13 restaurants and bars, live entertainment, The Public Market, and The Cube presented by Union Bank & Trust. “The Cube is a large, large, large video screen, and when the Nebraska football games are on, both home and away, those football games are being broadcast on The Cube,” Connolly said.

Spectra feels it can market this very attractive piece of downtown Lincoln real estate more effectively than past managers have.  “And that's where Brian comes in,” Connolly said. “He has a marketing background, and was the director of marketing at Tsongas Center. Brian was a very attractive candidate. We were looking for a marketing person. And it's really about relationships. This account is a bit different from most, in that not only do we need to drive business at the Railyard, but we have several tenants in the Railyard. And nourishing that business really centers around the building of relationships.”


For his part, Krajewski believes Spectra is well equipped to ensure the Railyard reaches its full potential.  “You look at what we do at Xfinity Live in Philadelphia, and it's the same kind of blueprint as an entertainment district goes,” he said. “We felt this was something where we could take what we've learned at Xfinity Live over a number of years, and use that experience to enhance the Railyard experience.”

He agrees with Connolly that relationships are the key. “At Tsongas Center, I was fortunate to have met a lot of people,” he said. “Building relationships opened up a lot of doors for me back in Lowell. I built a relationship with the convention and visitors bureau in Lowell, and that was what they were looking for; someone to do it at the Railyard as well. They wanted someone with experience in building rapport with CVBs . . . If you are going to live and work in a place and ingrain yourself in the community, those relationships are crucial.”


Asked about any challenges he might face, Krajewski noted that he's coming from an arena background into an event district space, and that will involve shifting gears to some degree.

But he says he's been exceptionally fortunate to have worked with outstanding individuals in each of the settings where he's served. He's learned a tremendous amount about managing venues, and that is knowledge he can take to the Railyard. “Being in a situation where I can put my stamp on [the venue] is going to be a challenge, but it's something I'm excited about,” he said. “I have a great support system within the company. I know I can pick up the phone and have any kind of service I need provided, to make this transition and this venue as good as can be. And the client, WRK has been great to work with. We're excited about making this a long-term relationship and making the Railyard as great as WRK, and we know it can be.”

Connolly believes the combination of Spectra's full range of services and Krajewski's experience will enormously benefit the Railyard. “And from what I've seen in the past two months, development is really, really strong in downtown Lincoln,” he said.

“That's great for all of us and will really help the Railyard," added Krajewski. "There's a ton of potential there. It really should be the destination and entertainment spot right after games, concerts and events. We're really excited to get in there, and we feel Brian will do a great job. All his strengths are perfectly tailored to the distinctive opportunities presented by the Railyard.”


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ICC Sydney Adopts VR Marketing
Posted: 19 Sep 2017, 5:00 pm

ICC Sydney Convention Centre has adopted VR marketing.

The International Convention Centre Sydney recently became the first venue of its kind in Australia to adopt virtual reality to help market itself to conference organizers, event planners, delegates and other travelers from around the world who are considering or planning a visit. The move highlights the growing interest in VR as a marketing tool for venues and others with destinations to promote.

ICC_Sydney_Convention_Centre1.jpgICC Sydney Convention Centre opened in 2016.

ICC Sydney’s VR video experience provides viewers with an immersive way of touring the facilities at the convention center, which opened in December 2016.

“Our VR experience provides viewers with a unique opportunity to witness the full scale and magnitude of ICC Sydney’s technologically advanced facilities, including its 35,000 square meters of exhibition space, flexible meeting spaces, the 2,000-capacity grand ballroom – the largest of its kind in Australia – and world-class theaters,” said Geoff Donaghy, CEO, ICC Sydney.

Donaghy said the benefits to ICC Sydney were evident. He said VR aligns with a creative marketing approach that “places an innovative lens over everything we do.” Venue operators developed a suite of creative tools before opening that included a custom magazine, interactive maps, animations and advance modeling and renderings. The venue secured 500 event bookings before opening.

“The VR experience brings ICC Sydney to life in new ways, right before people’s eyes, and will become an important point of reference during the planning stages of an event, while also creating a buzz and excitement for delegates pre-event,” he said. “It’s an impressive tool that we believe will help shape the future of events in Sydney.”

In addition to an intimate look at the ICC Sydney facilities, the VR content includes a chance to enjoy a 360-degree view of Sydney’s Darling Harbour, where the convention center is located, including a look at nearby landmarks Sydney Harbour Bridge and Bondi Beach.

Penny Lion, executive general manager of events at Tourism Australia, said the convention center’s adoption of VR is a fit with the venue’s design and operations.

“As Australia’s newest convention, exhibition and events precinct, ICC Sydney is at the forefront of design and technology innovation,” Lion said. “Utilizing this technology to showcase what the center can deliver for customers is in alignment with this culture of innovation. It’s also a great way to see ICC Sydney up close and to understand the venue in the context of its location.”

ICC Sydney and Tourism Australia worked together to develop the showcase video of the convention center’s setting as part of the VR content, highlighting Sydney as a leading event destination. Tourism Australia has produced its own VR/360 content for various Australian locales, and Lion said its effectiveness has been “stunning,” citing 10.5 million views on Facebook, YouTube and a 64-percent rise in engagement on

Lion said the VR efforts represent Tourism Australia’s recognition of “the need for tourism bodies and other entities to find new, engaging and compelling ways to cut through the highly competitive and crowded marketplace.”

Tom Griffin, assistant professor in the School of Hospitality and Tourism Management and assistant director of the Hospitality and Tourism Research Institute at Ryerson University in Toronto, has researched with colleagues the use of VR in marketing for destinations. He called tourism “an intangible product for marketers” that makes it a challenge to provide potential customers a true sense of what their experience will be. While still falling short of real life, VR “helps convey a sense of what a place is like,” he said.

“Our studies have shown that students who watched a VR advertisement for South Africa felt more positive about the country as a destination compared with those who watched a 2D video or read the website,” Griffin said. “So even though they hadn’t been, they were creating word-of-mouth marketing about what the place is like to visit.”

Lion said VR has rich potential for venues such as ICC Sydney, in particular.

“VR allows customers to discover event spaces like never before,” Lion said. “Immersive and interactive, it provides the user with the next best thing to conducting a site inspection. Using VR in conjunction with personal interaction with venue representatives – for example at trade shows – is an effective tool to help bring to life what it’s like to be in those spaces and to have questions immediately answered.”

ICC_Sydney_Exhibition.jpgICC Sydney Convention Centre.

Griffin agreed, saying, “For a convention center, I imagine there are many opportunities. I’m guessing that a primary target would be meeting planners and to give them an opportunity to see both the logistics of a center, but also to allow them to experience some of the elements that a center wants to show off – a view of the mountains, a ballroom set up in full decor, etc. VR is a great and convenient way to demonstrate that.”

Griffin said VR is becoming increasingly popular for marketers and its use will grow as VR headsets continue to become more accessible. As of now, VR is new enough that abundant questions surround the best ways of using the tool. He said he sees VR as more enduring than a fad, though its use will evolve as more adopt it.

“I think a lot of people don’t know how to best use it yet,” Griffin said. “It reminds me of when social media arrived on the scene some years ago, and companies and organizations just got on board with little strategy or understanding of how to use the technology and communications. Of course, now companies take social media very seriously and strategically. I see the same thing happening to some extent with VR.”

Lion said venue marketers considering VR should be sure to commit the necessary resources and identify appropriate partners to create a vivid experience for viewers.

“Work with experienced and highly capable production companies who understand not just the medium but the user experience that accompanies VR,” Lion said.

Donaghy said it took three months for the team creating ICC Sydney’s VR experience to film its multi-use spaces sufficiently. He said the venue’s team has worked diligently to use the tool.

“We have sent virtual reality headsets to over 250 of our global contacts and are utilizing it in all of our trade shows and road shows, as well,” Donaghy said. “So far, we are getting an amazing response, and it’s been credited as one of the most unique tools a venue is using to inform and stimulate clients, and is even inspiring them to use the technology themselves.”

For ICC Sydney’s full VR experience, viewers need to have access to a VR headset. They can download the ICC Sydney VR app from Apple or Android application stores. Without a VR headset, viewers can still see 36-degree images on the convention center’s website at


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INTRUST Promotes and Hires
Posted: 19 Sep 2017, 4:00 pm

SMG-managed INTRUST Bank Arena, Wichita, Kan., has promoted from within the organization and hired multiple full-time members across multiple departments.

Grant Jones.

Grant Jones has returned to INTRUST Bank Arena as operations manager. Jones previously served as operations supervisor prior to accepting an opportunity with Wichita Sports Forum in late 2016. Jones will now manage and oversee the operations team with their daily duties and event changeovers. 



Sierra Franklin.

Sierra Franklin has been promoted to box office manager for Select-A-Seat. Prior to this, Franklin served as ticket specialist in the Select-A-Seat box office.



Josh Hiatt.

Josh Hiatt and Tyler Maier were both promoted to operations supervisors within the operations department. Hiatt and Maier were peviously members of the crew on a part time basis.





Tyler Maier.

In the operations department, Mario De La Torre has been hired as maintenance technician to assist with preventative maintenance and repairs to the arena’s equipment.


Jared Johnson.

Additionally, Jared Johnson has been hired as the payroll and purchasing accountant within the finance department. Johnson held a ticket specialist title in the Select-A-Seat box office.


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Richman Starting His Own PR Firm
Posted: 19 Sep 2017, 3:00 pm

Ike Richman, formerly VP of PR, Comcast Spectacor; now founder of Richman Communications.

After nearly 29 years at Comcast Spectacor, Ike Richman, the company’s vice president, PR, is creating Ike Richman Communications to assist professional sports teams and owners, arenas and stadiums, concert promoters and family shows with generating PR content. Comcast Spectacor will become his first client.

“I joined Spectacor in 1989 on my 23rd birthday,” said Richman. At the time, Spectacor was owed by Ed Snider and they owned The Spectrum, Philadelphia Flyers of the National Hockey League and WIP sports radio station.”

In 1992, Richman moved to the Spectrum, the building that preceded Wells Fargo Center, as PR assistant. In 1996, Snider and Comcast merged to create Comcast Spectacor. Richman became VP in 2001.

Richman has been with the Flyers his whole life, literally. He is named in memory of his grandfather, Ike Richman, who founded the Philadelphia 76ers after relocating the Syracuse Nationals to Philadelphia in 1963.

“I was inspired by the words of Ed Snider, who I became very close with,” said Richman about branching out on his own. “Ed had this mantra: ‘take what you do well and grow it.’ I always thought I could make it go on own with my experience and resources and knowledge, and finally decided now’s the time.”

Richman’s firm, Richman Communications, isn’t starting out empty-handed. “When I told Dave Scott, Comcast Spectacor’s CEO, about my plans, not only did he wish me well; he also immediately said he wanted to be my first client. I’m very fortunate to have such a gracious employer.” Richman’s deal with Spectacor is multiyear. “The company can lean on my expertise,” said Richman.

Richman’s strength is media relations, public relations, community relations and crisis communications. “If you look back over my 30 years I’ve worked with Live Nation, AEG, concert promoters, hundreds of Feld Entertainment events, every type of sporting event you can mention, two Olympic trials, both Republican National Convention and Democratic National Convention events and I like to think I bring good insight to helping the field.”

Richman’s fans are many.

"Ike has been an integral member of the Comcast Spectacor team for more than 28 years,” said Scott. “His deep experience and contacts throughout the sports and entertainment industry have been invaluable to us as our business has grown and diversified. We are looking forward to working with him as an outside advisor in the years ahead." 

Frank Brown is the vice president of communications for the National Hockey League (NHL). "Ike really showed his professional stripes when Ed Snider passed away,” he said. “While there were so many details to track in preparing the celebration of Ed's life, and so many people to comfort, I thought Ike set aside his own grief and handled his duties impeccably."

Peter Luukko, executive chairman, NHL’s Florida Panthers and chairman of OVG’s Arena Alliance, said, “It’s a great move for Ike at this time. He has a wealth of experience from the leagues, teams, food services companies, private management companies, broadcasting and many other facets of our business. In Ike’s case, he owes it to himself to do this. He’s made relationships over the years with many people who can use his services. He’s respected and well-liked.”

“One of the things Ike does very well is handle difficult situations,” he said. “There was a stolen car ring that went through town, and Ike handled this like a pro. Damage control is one of  his many skills.”

Frank Miceli, SVP, sales & franchise business operations, Spurs Sports & Entertainment and AT&T Center, San Antonio, Texas, has known Richman for 30 years. “I used to work at Comcast and know Ike well,” he said. “He’s one of the best in business. He nurtures the team, the building, the band through exciting times and tumultuous times.”

“I think this a move that will be great for Ike and the industry,” he said. “This will give him a chance to spread his wings outside the Comcast Spectacor umbrella.”

Miceli recalled the time when Bruce Springsteen and his band requested use of the Flyers' locker room. “Typically, the locker room is off limits, but Ike intervened, worked his magic, and we agreed. The band was so appreciative we were invited to meet them before the show. It was great and we wound up inviting them to our ‘7:15 club’ early-morning hockey game.”

Geoff Gordon is president of Live Nation, Philadelphia. He’s known Richman for almost 30 years; they met when Gordon was with Electric Factory Concerts. “Ike is an ever-constant and a solid professional,” he said. “He’s efficient and a great asset.”

“I’m excited for his new venture,” he said. “I support him and think he will do very well on his own.”

Gordon recalled when Richman was instrumental in the success of the closing days of the Spectrum. “Ike arranged it so that major sports stars, Bernie Parent and Dave Schultz in particular, showed up at the concert. It was really cool to have them there and the band loved having them, too.”

Richman serves as an advisor to numerous nonprofit organizations, including the Ed Snider Youth Hockey Foundation, Police Athletic League, the Shirley Povich School of Sports Journalism and Philabundance. He handled all communications for the late Philadelphia Flyers owner Ed Snider prior to his passing in 2016.

Richman leaves his position Sept 28 and launches Richman Communications Oct. 3.

He can be reached at: Ike



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NEC Group to Restore Bradford Odeon UK
Posted: 18 Sep 2017, 3:30 pm

View from City Park Live, Bradford Live, Birmingham, West Midlands. (Photo courtesty: Tim Ronalds Architects)

NEC Group, Birmingham, England, will invest £2 million (US $2.63 million) to transform the historic Odeon in Bradford into a live entertainment venue by 2020.

NEC Group, which also operates Arena Birmingham, West Midlands, Genting Arena, Birmingham, West Midlands, and the National Exhibition Center, Marston Green, Birmingham, West Midlands, took a 30-year lease on the building, which, besides a main auditorium, also contains a 1930 art deco ballroom.

View of the auditorium, Bradford Live, Birmingham, West Midlands. (Photo courtesy: Tim Ronalds Architects)

Each will be fully restored “to its original splendor to host weddings, banquets, corporate and conferencing events and other live performances,” according to a group statement. The new Odeon will hold 4,000 people, and complement Bradford’s Alhambra Theatre (1,400 capacity) and St George’s Hall (1,500 capacity).

NEC Group International, the consultancy and management arm of NEC Group, will operate the venue, which is expected to open in 2020. By “bringing live music, comedy, Bollywood shows, and other live performances to the biggest ‘mid-size’ venue in the country outside London,” NECGI aims to put “Bradford firmly back on the national live music touring circuit.”

Phil Mead, the managing director of NEC Group’s arenas, commented: “Bradford Odeon, once restored, will breathe new life into an historic building which has played a pivotal role in the city’s past. The redeveloped venue, as part of the ongoing regeneration of Bradford city centre anchored around City Park, will deliver jobs and investment and transform the live event and entertainment offer of the city.”

The Kaiser Chiefs, who “played a lot of great old theatre venues,” said: “Beautiful old buildings are perfect for rock ‘n’ roll shows – it can make a real difference performing in these characterful rooms compared to plain black-box type venues.”

Francis Rossi of Status Quo, said: “What the country needs is more places that can host concerts, so that people can get out and hear great live music. We’ve toured up and down the country more than most, and we know that places like this are essential. The Bradford Odeon has a great history and should be brought back into service.”

The Odeon originally opened in 1930 in the heart of Bradford as a 3,318-seat art deco cinema and theatre, one of the largest in the UK at the time. From 1969 to 2000 it operated as a two-auditoria cinema.

According to NEC Group, “Bradford has the youngest, fastest growing population outside of London [and is] home to 20,000 students. The total population is to reach an estimated 560,000 by 2022.”


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Little Caesars Arena Part Of The Neighborhood
Posted: 18 Sep 2017, 3:00 pm

New Little Caesars Arena, Detroit, opens its doors to the neighborhood.

Kid Rock was everywhere when Detroit’s Little Caesars Arena opened. Not only did the artist christen the brand-new downtown arena with four shows, starting Sept. 12, but he added two more due to demand, bringing the Kid Rock total to six shows. The longest-lasting aspect of Kid Rock’s entry into Little Caesars Arena, though, was the announcement of his themed restaurant to help anchor the neighborhood-facing aspect of the new arena, merging Little Caesars Arena to the larger The District Detroit.

To merge the two into one, Little Caesars Arena has turned toward the neighborhood built around it in a “deconstructed” style of design that puts a focus on blurring the lines between arena and neighborhood, even potentially opening the main concourse to the public on non-event days.

Designed by HOK with the insight of Street-Works Development, the leaders of the larger The District Detroit that surrounds an arena that opened Sept.12, the concept relies on dropping the main concourse to street level and facing tenants to both the street and the concourse.

In what will play home to both the National Hockey League’s Detroit Red Wings and the National Basketball Association’s Detroit Pistons, the Ilitch family’s Olympia Entertainment, owners of the team, operators of the arena and the developers behind the district, wanted to revitalize a section of downtown, bringing in a mixed-use neighborhood of restaurants, offices and residential. Instead of making the new arena stand apart, Richard Heapes, Street-Works co-founder, said they first envisioned what the arena felt like from the street.

“We always knew we wanted this to be the heart of a whole new district,” Heapes said. “We had to be the antithesis of Joe Louis Arena (the Red Wings’ former home), a big solid box only open during the event and where you had to walk up 50 feet just to get into it. It had to be the opposite.”

Ryan Gedney, project designer for HOK, said they first dropped the playing surface floor 37 feet below grade, which allows the main concourse—dubbed the via—to run at ground level. To keep the arena in line with the district, a four-story office building serves as the main exterior, with mostly restaurant space on the ground floor and offices—both team and leased space—above. In all, just over 50 percent of the venue’s street frontage is made up of uses active during nonevent times.

“It was important to bring the main concourse to at-grade to blur the lines between the main concourse activity and the district,” Gedney said. That main concourse, though, has a dual-facing opportunity, open out at all times and also in onto the concourse.

Designing so low also allowed for a practice rink under the plaza and the space for up to 30 trucks and buses to park, which Heapes said can speed up the load and unload time of a major concert an entire day, key for an arena expecting about 235 events annually.

Each tenant space will play with the blurred line differently, some opening portions of their space to each side when an event is going and some closing off to one. But all will remain open to the street side when an event isn’t on. Gedney said to expect the concourse to open at nonevent times, turning into another pedestrian passage between the spaces, akin to an indoor connection next to Woodward Square, the main outdoor plaza connecting the multiple uses in the district along Woodward Avenue.

Traditionally, arena outer walls serve as the secure perimeter of the arena in non-use times, but Gedney said the seating bowl now becomes the secure perimeter, a physical design that came from creating an entire district rather than just an arena. “That is how we approached it, a district first and arena functions that happen to live in it,” he said. “From an architectural point, when you stand outside and look at the building, you don’t see arena, you see district.”

Part of that comes in having so much office space moved outside the arena into the exterior buildings. Heapes said that not only is it less expensive to build office space in a typical office building rather than inside an arena, but it also provides the opportunity for more daylight into the offices. 

“How can each piece be the best of its kind?” he asked about moving offices and retail outside. “Now I have a team store on the street with its own door, own sign and own parking. It is the same with the team offices. On the flip side, I now have a bowl that is designed almost as a pure sports and concert venue. The bowl is better; the amenities are better. Mix it all together, and it creates a wonderful space in between.”

The identity of the closed-off seating bowl has a sudden reveal, as the concourse via features ETFE roofing to bring daylight into the galleria-style space. “We are blurring the line between traditionally separate building types,” Gedney said. “Tenant and arena spaces are blurred.”

Architecturally, the design allows fans to feel like they are in a street or alleyway while in the main concourse and then once they pass through the vomitory into the closed-off seating bowl—it was designed closed as a way to increase crowd noise during games, a happy circumstance that helped enhance the via design—it “heightens the transition from concourse to bowl with such a stark, wonderful transition.”

Instead of the gradual rise from street to parks to entries to open concourses and to seats, Little Caesars Arena offers an immediate change.

The benefit for the district comes in more restaurant and retail space open at more times. But the fan also has a “richer environment” come game time, Gedney said, as each restaurant must come with real character and authenticity to allow them to stand alone beyond game day. That also means the eateries, such as the new Kid Rock-themed southern style restaurant, will each have a unique experience during events, whether a sit-down option or a belly-up approach.

The other half of the main concourse without outward-facing tenants resembles more of a traditional in-arena concession experience.

The compilation of the arena-district design, Heapes said, gives the arena a positive influence on the district rather than a negative, a district that includes both residential living for a true natural neighborhood feel and the Ilitch family donating $40 million to bring Wayne State University’s school of business into the district.

“We have real retail at the street level all around this thing,” Heapes said. “Not just one bar, but four or five restaurants. It is a part of the city as if the arena was never there. It is almost like a great wonderful piece of the city, and you dropped a bowl into it. There is no dark hole.”


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Nominate for the 2017 Hall of Headlines Award by September 29, 2017!
Posted: 15 Sep 2017, 5:00 pm

We are seeking nominations for the 2017 Hall of Headlines awards by September 29, 2017.

Each December, Venues Today hands out its most prestigious honor, the Hall of Headlines Award.  The award is given to members in five different categories – News, Bookings, Ops & Tech, Marketing and Concessions. The awards are given to individuals who have made a difference in the facilities industry in the last 12 months, and recipients are nominated and elected by Venues Today readers.

Who is eligible?

Anyone in the sports, entertainment and meeting industries who has made a significant contribution to our professional world in 2017.

How to nominate?

Email a description of the person, organization, accomplishments and their contact info to, or fax to (714) 378-0040 or call (714) 378-5400 no later than Friday, October 7, 2016. Please include all entries in the email, NO ATTACHMENTS PLEASE!

How are winners determined?

Subscribers and Venues Today staff will vote by fax, phone and on our website for one winner per category.

Previous winners:


News: Allen Johnson, Executive Director of Orlando Venues
Ops & Tech: Don Graham, AGM/VP, Microsoft Theater, Los Angeles & Lee Zeidman, President, Microsoft Theater, Staples Center, LA Live
Bookings: Rich MacKeigan, SMG Regional GM, Van Andel Arena and DeVos Place, Grand Rapids, Mich.
Marketing: Meghan Doyle, Director of Marketing, BOK Center
Concessions: Mark Anderson, General Manager and VP, Premier Food Services, Del Mar (Calif.) Fairgrounds and Race Track



News-Doug Thornton, executive VP of SMG and Steve Tadlock and Michael Krouse, regional VPs of SMG
Bookings-Louis Messina, president, Messina Touring Group, and Lee Zeidman, president, Staples Center, Los Angeles
Ops & Tech-Jim McCue, SVP, SMG and John Bolton, Vice President, SMG
Marketing-Amy Latimer, president, TD Garden, Boston
Concessions-Marco Fabozzi, director of Operations, Levy Restaurants at Barclays Center, Brooklyn


News-Doug Thornton, Executive VP of SMG
Bookings-Ben Farrell, Varnell Enterprises
Marketing-Jen Compton, VP Marketing, TD Garden & Boston Bruins and Jim Delaney, president, Activate Sports & Entertainment
Ops & Tech-Michael Godoy, SMG, VP of Operations
Concessions-Don Riccardi, Ovations GM, The Mountain Winery, Saratoga, Calif.


News - Bruce Ratner & Brett Yormark, Barclays Center and the Brooklyn Nets, respectively
Bookings - John Bolton & Jeff Nickler, BOK Center, Tulsa, Okla.
Ops & Tech - Steve Goodling & Charlie Beirne, Long Beach Convention & Visitors Bureau and SMG/Long Beach Arena respectively
Marketing - Peter Luukko & Kevin Lovitt, Comcast-Spectacor & Pointstreak, respectively
Concessions - Tim Ryan, Anaheim Ducks and Honda Center


News - Ed Snider and Peter Luukko, Comcast-Spectacor
Bookings - Alex Hodges, Nederlander Concerts, Los Angeles
Marketing - Sarah Haertl, Intrust Bank Arena, Wichita, Kan.
Concessions - Chef Vincent Lai, McCormick Place, Chicago


News – Gregg Caren & Bob McClintock, SMG/McCormick Place, Chicago
Bookings – Finn Taylor, Cirque du Soleil
Marketing – Rich Krezwick, Prudential Center, Newark, N.J.
Concessions – Nick Nicora, Ovations Food Services


News – Jay Roberts, Consol Energy Center, Pittsburgh
Bookings – Jon Bon Jovi
Marketing – Paul Hooper and Matt Johnson at Rupp Arena in Lexington
Concessions – Norb Bartosik, California State Fair, Sacramento


News – Lee Zeidman, Staples Center Los Angeles and Nokia Theatre, L.A. Live
Bookings – Gregg Perloff with Another Planet Entertainment, Marc Geiger from William Morris Endeavor Entertainment and Brad Parsons, Arena Network
Marketing – Ed Snider and Peter Luukko, Comcast-Spectacor
Concessions – Steve Zahn, Centerplate


News – Kenneth Feld, Feld Entertainment
Bookings – John Bolton, BOK Center, Tulsa, Okla.
Marketing – Jeff Blosser, Oregon Convention Center, Portland
Concessions – David Padilla, Puerto Rico Convention Center, San Juan


News – Wes Westley, SMG
Bookings – Bruce MacTaggart and Brad Parsons, Walking With Dinosaurs
Marketing – Larry Wilson, John Paul Jones Arena, Charlottesville, Va.
Concessions – Ken Young, Ovations


News – Peter Sullivan, University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, Ariz.
Bookings – Mike Scanlon, Rose Quarter, Portland
Marketing – Terry Barnes, Ticketmaster
Bookings – Ken Young, Ovations


News – Doug Thornton, Louisiana SuperDome, New Orleans
Bookings – Brad Parsons, ArenaNetwork, and Ron VanDeVeen, Meadowlands, East Rutherford, N.J.
Marketing – Dennis Scanlon, Rose Quarter, Portland
Concessions – Peter Luukko, Comcast-Spectacor

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Jacksonville Battered But Not Beaten
Posted: 13 Sep 2017, 10:00 pm

The half-flooded field at EverBank Stadium after Hurricane Irma blew through Jacksonville, Fla. Still, the stadium will be open for football Sunday.

This is a story of cooperation and collaboration to the point the mayor announced the show will go on, the Jaguars will play football and Tim and Faith will sing less than a week after disaster hit.

Epic flooding, the worst since the 1800’s, hit Jacksonville, Fla., Monday, resulting in extensive damage to homes and businesses, including the seven sports and entertainment venues managed for the city by SMG.

Bill McConnell, GM there for SMG, still had a strong emotional reaction discussing what he experienced Monday afternoon when he was finally able to get to the venues. His main message, after all he’s been through, is praise for Mayor Lenny Curry, Jaguars’ Owner Shad Khan and President Mark Lamping and the decisions they made to bring the city back…quickly.

“The mayor has done a tremendous job; everyone in Jacksonville has been outstanding,” McConnell said. “We’ve been able to assess and recover simultaneously. We are very fortunate.”

The decision was made to open for business, including a Jacksonville Jaguars National Football League game at EverBank Field Sunday and a Tim McGraw and Faith Hill: Soul 2 Soul concert at Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena on Saturday, to give the city some relief and distraction and reason to cheer following the horrendous experience after Hurricane Irma rolled through town, causing historic storm surges.

The venues were not unscathed.  The mayor did not declare it important that the games be played until damage was assessed and    it was duly determined, given the state of the city, that emergency service personnel could be spared, McConnell said. Life-saving duties, of course, take precedence over traffic and crowd control for sports and entertainment. But it was deemed possible and therefore appropriate to go on with the shows.

McConnell does not live in a flood zone and was not under evacuation orders like many in the path of Hurricane Irma, so he opted to stay home. “The week of anticipation as Hurricane Irma made its way toward Florida was brutal, but it allowed us to be prepared,” he said.

The hurricane hit early Monday and was basically a 12-hour event. When McConnell awoke, he was faced with flooded streets in his non-flood zone neighborhood. “It was definitely hairy to wake up and see water in my garage and creeping toward my front door,” he recalled. But the water receded just as it reached his door and his concerns turned to the venues.

Several calls later he and AGM Keith Van Der Leest and Security Manager George Solomon had arranged to rendezvous with the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office (JSO) to be transported to the venues to help assess the damage. It would be another day before most of the other department heads could get out of their homes and to the venues, but when they did, the drill was to assess the damage and prioritize repair, from critical systems on down.

floodedlot300.jpgThe view from the baseball grounds looking east toward EverBank Field and flooded parking lots.

At EverBank Field, the parking lots were flooded and half the football field was underwater. The lower concourses in parts of the venue were also flooded. It sits right on the bank of the St. Johns River, McConnell said. The river spilled over its banks and into the sports complex.

“We’re still assessing the damage,” McConnell said Wednesday, but once the river receded and the Jacksonville Electric Authority (JEA) got the power on, they were able to clear the water out of the stadium and parking lots. That gave them confidence they could host a game this weekend. Most of the other damage from wind – signs down and lights and fixtures out — could be dealt with. The critical systems are all working again, he said.

Damage at the arena was very similar — water intrusion, doors blown off, a lot of debris on the outside of the venue, he recalled. But once he was able to get inside and discover no disruption to critical systems he determined that the “arena, while battered, is functional.”

“Just like the football game, we need to have that concert to give people that outlet,” he said of the mayor’s call that the show should go on.

Times Union Center, the city’s performing arts center, is also on the riverbank, but downtown. He found it surrounded by water on all four sides on Monday and, immediately, thought the worst. He got in late Monday without power in the building and his first ray of hope was noting the lobby was dry. Power was restored Tuesday and they realized none of the systems were damaged.

hogan600.jpgThis is Hogan Street running south to the St. John's River. The Times Union Center for the Performing Arts (not seen in this photo) is located at the corner of Hogan and Water Street (just to the right of the Gazebo).

The Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra moved back in Wednesday and will rehearse Thursday for a performance on Saturday.

The Prime Osborn Convention Center, which used to be the Jacksonville train terminal, had water intrusion. The fresh air handler, 20 X 20 X 6 feet, was blown off the roof and left a huge hole. The rain came in.

“We were able to get people up there to patch the roof yesterday,” he said. “Today it served as a comfort and charging station for displaced JEA customers where they could get water, enjoy air conditioning and charge their phones. When I was there on Monday, that was the last thing on my mind.”

It’s still slow going; with full assessment comes record keeping, photos, etc., but the situation now, three days later, makes them feel good about being able to manage what they’re faced with.

“It’s hard not to get emotional after what we were looking at and facing,” McConnell said. He emphasized again and again the cooperation and collaboration among the mayor, JSO and Jacksonville Fire & Rescue Department.

“I spent 25 years in the NFL and worked in cities all over the world. I can tell you it’s a special situation here,” he concluded.

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KAABOO Aims For Luxury
Posted: 13 Sep 2017, 7:00 pm

The upscale KAABOO music festival plays Sept.15-17 at Del Mar, Calif., Fairgrounds.

KAABOO music festival, Del Mar, Calif., set out to conquer the premium festival space three years ago with its mix of hot acts, gourmet food and drinks, upscale retail, concierge service and over-the-top amenities like air-conditioned bathrooms and lounges, a pool with private cabanas, onsite spa treatments and surfing lessons.

Based on its growing attendance, it’s succeeding and taking advantage of the current trend to produce festivals that cater to audiences willing to pay more to be pampered.

“KAABOO is focused on hospitality,” said Jason Felts, chief branding and marketing officer, KAABOO, “It’s our underlying theme.”

According to Felts, last year’s attendance numbers were impressive, nearing its 40,000-capacity for all three nights, and this years’ presale is outpacing last year.

The festival opens its doors this year, Sept. 15-17, with headliners including Muse, Pink, Alanis Morissette, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers and EDM King David Guetta.

This year, we are focusing on highlighting ‘five senses’, he said. “Our returning stars to the festival are the music, the comedy, the culinary, the arts and the indulgences.”

Returning favorites include the Las Vegas-style pool day-club, BASK; the spa, where guests can get massages, hot shaves and hangover IV’s; and Mercedes-Benz car service.

New experiences will include an increased comedy lineup, and an after hours nightclub called Club Elevate, which offers bottle service and top DJs.

The nightclub is being presented in partnership with MGM’s Jewel Nightclub and will be open Friday and Saturday night. “Inside the club will be aerialist dancers and will feel very Vegas,” said Felts. Entrance to the nightclub is included with the KAABOO ticket, and it will be on a “first-come, first-served” basis. It will be open after the final performance each night and stay open until 1 a.m. Table prices range between $350 and $1500 depending on placement and package size.

BASK_2.jpgBASK day-club and pool will cool off guests attending KAABOO, Sept. 15-17.

The popular day-club and pool, BASK, presented in partnership with MGM Grand’s Wet Republic, will be open each day. Weekend passes are available for $100; cabanas are available for $2000-$2750 depending on the day.

Single day passes are $150 and a three-day pass is $299.

The VIP packages are already sold out. The Hang Five package cost $899 and includes a premium stage viewing area at each stage; access to Hang Five viewing platforms, including seating and shade; exclusive culinary options for purchase in dedicated zones; priority access lane at event entrances; private restroom facilities; and access to the Thursday night Sneak Peek party.

The Hang Ten package cost $3,499 and includes access to front row viewing areas; access to on-stage viewing platforms; a personal concierge pre-event & access to on-site hosts; access to the KAABOO Artist Lounge; exclusive meet & greets; complimentary food prepared by a private chef in designated areas; complimentary beverages in designated areas; complimentary parking; and the Thursday Night event.

There will be extensive retail, featuring over 100 items, with a good portion KAABOO-branded. “We want to grow the brand to a 365-lifestyle brand,” said Felts.

KAABOO covers 200 acres, will feature four music stages; a culinary stage, where eight chefs including Robert Irvine, Richard Blais, Chris Adams and Michael Voltaggio will perform cooking shows; a comedy stage; art installations; and a silent disco in addition to the two clubs.

“There are a lot of great festivals, however we really feel that KAABOO is shifting the paradigm to offer guests a different experience,” Felts continued. “The experience and amenities that guests find at KAABOO are very different from what guests experience at most festivals, from the quality and magnitude of our contemporary art work to the quality of gourmet culinary offerings and diversity of our lineup, down to offering all flushing toilets for public use.”

KAABOO’s plan is for steady growth, according to Felts. “We are continuing to grow the KAABOO brand in the industry, as well as the general community, with organic, word-of-mouth. It is our goal that KAABOO becomes a household name, attracting guests locally and from outside the region.”

KAABOO signed a ten-year deal with Del Mar Fairgrounds last year.

“You have never been to a festival as upscale as KAABOO,” said Tim Fennell, general manager and CEO, Del Mar Fairgrounds. “No other festival in the country has as much going for it as KAABOO. It generates a lot of revenue for us and employs thousands of people. We want to keep it around as long as possible. This is a long range deal.”

Indulgences.jpgIndulgences at KAABOO include a spa where guests can get massages, shaves and haircuts.

“The KAABOO team takes the customer experience to an extreme level,” said Fennell. “They think of everything and execute it flawlessly. The food and beverage is all world-class.”

Fennell said the festival attracts a slightly older crowd than many other festivals do. “The average age seems to be people in their 30s and 40s. The average spend is between $50-$100 not including the ticket.”

The costs of putting on the event are enormous. “They spend between $8-$10 million on talent alone,” said Fennell.

He expects the net to the fairgrounds to be between $900,000 and $1.1million. KAABOO’s profits were undisclosed, but Fennell said, “Most music fests lose money the first two or three years.”

“There is not another music festival anywhere that caters to this demographic,” said Fennell. “KAABOO is all class and top of the line.”

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Taylor Swift Ticket Scheme Controversial
Posted: 13 Sep 2017, 7:00 pm

Taylor Swift Tix is the name of the program Ticketmaster created for getting what's expected to be elusive tickets to see her Reputation Tour.

Tickets for the upcoming Taylor Swift covert tour are going to be distributed based on a unique system that gives priority ticket purchases to those who gain points through social media postings, merchandise purchases and more. 

The program and website that will sell the tickets is called Taylor Swift Tix — and the concept is already controversial. Many have criticized Swift for having fans buy merchandise to access tickets.

David Marcus, executive vice president and head of music at Ticketmaster, Swift’s ticketing partner, defended the concept and thinks the naysayers don’t have a clear picture of what it all means.

“They knock on Taylor because they think you have to buy merchandise to get a good ticket,” Marcus explained, clarifying it’s the non-commercial activity on Taylor Swift Tix that gains traction for fans on the activity meter. “Sure you can buy music and buy merchandise, but you can also share on social media,” he explained. “There are all kinds of ways for fans that aren’t limited to buying merchandise.”

Bottom line is that the goal is for artists to reduce brokers with bots from buying up all the tickets at once, he said.

Taylor Swift Reputation Tour tickets are rolling out on a Ticketmaster Verified Fan program that was specially modified for Swift, said Marcus. Ticket distribution has not been announced yet.

Many artists, including Ed Sheeran and Bruce Springsteen, already use Ticketmaster’s Verified Fan program, which aims to eliminate scalpers from buying massive amounts of tickets and jacking up the price — making them unaffordable for many fans.

“It’s a great strategic step for Ticketmaster and for the artist,” Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino said on a KindredCast podcast Aug. 31. “The challenge right now is there’s about $8 billion trading on the secondary market. That’s just purely because of the inefficiency of how the market is priced. It’s the only product in the world that has a higher market value the second it’s sold.”

The goal is to sell tickets at the prices artists want them, not the inflated secondary market prices.

“The biggest challenge we’ve had is how do we get the fan to be able to buy the ticket at the low price the artist wants to actually charge,” Rapino said on the podcast.

Marcus further explained that venues have greatly benefited from the program due to establishments being filled with actual fans on whom the Verified Fan program collects data.

Under the Verified Fan program, ticket buyers have to enter information that proves they’re not a robot, which gives them preference in the system for tickets.

Ticketmaster also collects information on each fan and uses that data to prove they’re not some PC in another city buying up all the tickets before anyone else gets a chance.

“Then you start pushing them through this more personalized digital access control. Venues will be able to understand their audiences better than ever before. I think that that is an especially valuable benefit for venues,” Marcus said. “Once the (Taylor Swift) dates are announced, fans will be asked to come back and add more data points to their profiles.”

Some artists will price front row seats at $200 and the back of the venue for $30. Unfortunately, ticket brokers will buy all the $30 tickets and charge triple for what they paid, Marcus said.

“They get in between the artist/fan relationship for the sole motive of profit,” he said.


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Sheltering from Irma; Harvey Updates
Posted: 13 Sep 2017, 7:00 pm

Houstonians found that last stop treacherous, as the photo of a submerged stairwell at the Wortham Theater Center proves. The basement was completely submerged.

The Columbus (Ga.) Civic Center became the largest shelter in that state last Friday as Hurricane Irma forced evacuations across the Southeastern states. Meanwhile, the Houston Theater District is pumping furiously to remove the flood waters from Hurricane Harvey two weeks ago.

Jon Dorman, who took the director job in Columbus in February, and whose family is still in Florida, said at its peak, the civic center was housing 600 people on the hockey floor and concourses. About 100 of them managed to leave for home or friends yesterday (Tuesday). “The plan, at this point, is to close the shelter tomorrow after breakfast,” Dorman said on Wednesday.

They found room on the 17,000 sq. ft. arena floor and the concourse encircling the building for 650 cots, he said. The event hallway was outside the dressing rooms, staffed with nurses and used for people with injuries. A lot of patients from mental  health institutions were in the evacuee mix, Dorman explained.

One side of the concourse was designated animal friendly, the other prohibited pets. Pet owners were able to exit and enter the arena at designated locations to take care of the animals, all of which were kept in kennels. The arena seats 10,000.

In the past, the local Red Cross Disaster Management team has used recreation centers throughout the town as shelters, Dorman said. The civic center was designated a potential shelter, but had not been called upon until it became clear the number of evacuees expected from Hurricane Irma would surpass the ability to spread resources throughout town.

Donations were used to feed the evacuees, a lot of those from local restaurants, Dorman said.

The venue staff provided security, setup and janitorial services, as well as operations backup, keeping the lights and air-conditioning going. “It was a hell of a job keeping the showers and restrooms clean for that many guests 24/7,” Dorman said, praising his staff.

The Columbus Civic Center has 25 full-time employees who worked in shifts, Dorman said. That included event managers and nine operations staff. “We probably had 12 part-timers rotating in and out,” he said. Dorman personally did not sleep at the civic center, but he was there from morning to lights out at 10 p.m. all six days.

“We had very few problems,” Dorman said. “The Red Cross was very complimentary.”


Meanwhile, assessments, cleanup and repairs are underway at Jones Hall, Wortham Center, and Theater District underground parking in Houston, all of which sustained water damage from Hurricane Harvey.. The facilities remain closed to staff and the public, according to Leah Shah, PR director for Houston First Corporation (HFC), which operates the venues and garages.

Dawn Ullrich, president and CEO, Houston First Corporation, urged the public to remain patient, noting that besides theater patrons, 3,000 monthly parking customers are out of luck for now.

Jones Hall suffered minimal damages. Water entered the lower level and the rehearsal room, covering the wood floor. The floor and wet drywall have been removed and will be replaced. Assuming Jones receives good air quality and structural reports, the building should re-open to staff and performances by the end of the week.

Contractors continue pumping out water and removing soggy carpet and drywall from Wortham Theater Center. The basement was completely submerged in water. Flood water also reached the stage floor of the Brown Theater, so the stage floor is being removed and replaced. The building still has no power. One of the biggest concerns is air quality, so tests will be conducted as soon as the building is dry. No re-opening date has been determined for the Wortham, and events and performances have been canceled through Oct. 15.

More than 270-million gallons of water filled the Theater District parking garages. As of Wednesday, about 85% of the water had been pumped out. Getting the underground garages fully operational is expected to take several weeks, and they have been closed until further notice. In the meantime, monthly parking customers, including city employees, have been assigned alternative parking at other Houston First parking facilities. Houston First is also working with its parking partner, Republic Parking System, to secure additional downtown locations. Shuttle services are being provided at some locations to transport customers to and from temporary parking sites to their offices.

Houston First Theater District employees have been temporarily relocated to Partnership Tower while recovery work is being done at Jones, Wortham and the underground garages.

Houston First is assisting Alley Theater management with moving their employees into temporary offices in HFC’s former offices at 4 Houston Center while the Alley undergoes cleanup and repairs.

Robyn Williams, director of Portland’5 Centers for the Performing Arts who used to work in the Houston theater district, had kept in touch with her former co-workers through these hurricane weeks (an exercise most in the industry undertook recently), and noted that many of the theaters had taken steps to “waterproof” as much as they could. Costumes, instruments, equpment and papers, essentially whatever could be moved out of the basement, had been moved; but, unfortunately, mechanical is permanently located there.

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$1 Billion Redo for National Western
Posted: 13 Sep 2017, 7:00 pm

National Western Stock Show and Complex, Denver, is getting a $1-billion upgrade.

As it currently stands, the National Western Stock Show Association books all events on the massive 90-acre complex along a major interstate on the outskirts of Denver — but that all will change when a new partnership is formed.

“We are in the process of getting city council’s approval on what’s been called the framework agreement between the Western Stock Show Association, Colorado State University, and the city, on how the National Western Campus will operate for the next 100 years,” said Paul Andrews, president and CEO of the National Western Stock Show and Complex.

That means that the management of the various venues on the stock show campus will change in the next three to five years, potentially opening up opportunities for venue management companies, Andrews said.

Each year, the complex hosts roughly 250 events, all organized and managed by Andrews’ team. Yet $1 billion in renovations and upgrades to the grounds will shift Andrews into solely managing the National Western Stock Show, which is a 501 (c) 3, each January, the Rodeo All-Star Weekend and the Denver County Fair.

An authority, that has not yet been formed, will manage the rest of the grounds — or hire a company to do it — and the venues on the complex.

Denver City Council is expected to approve a new business model at its Sept. 17 meeting. An authority will then be formed of 11 members, which includes Andrews and his board chair.

“That authority will then run the day-to-day operations once the build-out is complete,” Andrews said. “The agreement that we’re about to sign allows for the authority to hire a president and CEO that builds a staff to do (venue management) or hires an entity to be a booking agent.”

Phases one and two are estimated to be completed by 2023.

The “build-out” of the complex is massive and will repair the old grounds into a modern-day campus that includes a livestock center with 230,000 sq. ft. of barn space that can be used for expos, a CSU research center, a new 20-acre site for outdoor festivals, and a new 450,000-sq-ft. exposition hall.

“The entire complex brings lots of flexibility with booking concerts, family shows and high school events,” Andrews said.

The first phase includes putting in the new yards this November on a 20-acre site along the Platte River that local promoters can use for outdoor music festivals.

Phase two includes building an equestrian center that has two major arenas inside that range from 2,500 to 4,500 seats depending on the configuration.

After phase two is complete, construction will begin on the 450,000-sq-ft. exposition hall and a new 10,000-seat arena that will replace the outdated 8,300-seat Denver Coliseum that was built in 1951.

The coliseum also will have 40 suites, which the current structure lacks. That venue will be used for concerts, family shows and minor league sports from February to December each year. In January, the coliseum will be occupied by the National Western Stock Show, which celebrates its 116th year in 2018.

Funding for the project was made possible in 2015 when voters approved public funding for the renovations.

The goal for all those involved in the renovation is to keep the agricultural flare alive, even if events don’t center around agriculture, Andrews said.

“Not all of the events on this site are going to be agricultural, but when people are here, they’re going to be exposed to things that are agriculturally related,” he said, highlighting that pictures and ag memorabilia will be displayed everywhere.

“It’s going to be the most unique complex in the country, because it’s doing many, many things to benefit mankind as well as entertain people,” Andrews said, pointing to the CSU Equestrian Center that will handle intense research.

Denver City Council will vote on the following on Sept. 17:

“A bill for an ordinance that… approves a framework agreement with Colorado State University, the Western Stock Show Association, and the National Western Center Authority for 50 years, with two possible 25-year extensions, to authorize formation of an authority to operate the new facilities and govern the roles and responsibilities of each party for the redevelopment of the existing National Western Complex into a year-round venue to preserve the National Western Stock Show in Denver for the next 100 years, provide room for new programming, provide connectivity to surrounding neighborhoods, and bring more visitors to Denver.”


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Minnesota Fair Beats Record
Posted: 13 Sep 2017, 2:25 pm

Night time at the Grandstand, Minnesota State Fair, St. Paul.

The numbers continue to climb at the Minnesota State Fair, St. Paul, with an all-time high attendance at this year’s event that stopped short of hitting the two million mark. The official count at the 11-day fair was 1,997,320, slightly besting last year’s 1,942,000.

The weather was not much of a factor, said General Manager Jerry Hammer, but it did rain on one of the two Saturdays, prompting a slight decrease in the carnival gross.

One part of the equation, Hammer added, is the West End Market that is accessible to a transit hub that were both added in 2013. Fifty percent of the fair’s attendees travel via bus, and most of those fairgoers come through the hub and enter the fair at a location filled with food and beverage options, a free music stage, vendors selling arts and crafts and the Minnesota State Fair History & Heritage Center.

“There are so many factors,” Hammer said.

Hosting so many attendees in an 11-day-fair is doable on the expansive 300-acre fairgrounds, he added. There was one day in which attendance was under 117,000, but the high numbers came on Labor Day weekend, when 254,000 passed through the gates on Saturday and 242,000 on Sunday.

A big draw at the fair is the food, of course, with the local and even national press paying close attention to the new dishes introduced this year with much media fanfare. On opening morning, weather presenter and TV personality Al Roker from the “Today” show spent three hours on the grounds. “Every time they cut to Al Roker, he was here,” Hammer said.

And the food numbers did not disappoint, with an estimated food gross of $39,360,859, compared to $36,491,950 in 2016 and $33,160,829 in 2015, a 7.8 percent and 18.59 percent increase respectively. Daily food and beverage per caps exceeded last year’s by more than a $1, up from $24.16 to $25.21, said Dennis Larson, the fair’s food and beverage manager.

“This year so far, we look to be up about eight percent over last year due to cooler average daily temperatures and an appetite for comfort foods,” Larson added, noting that prices for the “iconic” top 10 foods did not change, so fair officials believe the numbers reflect more purchases at the booths.

In spite of the introduction of a plethora of new food items, many of them featuring bacon such as the Bacon Fluffernutter and Deep-Fried Breakfast on a Stick, the tried-and-true fair throwbacks such as chocolate chip cookies, corn dogs, fresh cut fries, roasted corn and foot-long hot dogs contributed to the top 10 food items.

The fair offered food at 300 locations, Larson added. Vendors pay 15 percent of their total sales net after the Minnesota state sales tax of 7.125 percent, plus utility fees and admission, Larson said.

Gate admission cost $14 for ages ranging from 13 to 64, with ages 65 and up and 5 to 12 paying $12. That was $1 more than last year, Hammer said, and the only comment he heard was following a free concert by George Clinton and Parliament/Funkadelic, when a group of fairgoers discussed how they couldn’t believe they saw the act for $14. “If you see George Clinton at a Twin Cities club, it’s $40-$50 each,” Hammer added.

The fair offers a mix of free and ticketed musical acts. In addition to Clinton, the popular free acts included the Pointer Sisters, Chris Janson, Tanya Tucker, Foghat, Hippo Campus, Heiruspecs, Corey Stevens and The Wild Goose Chase in the bandshell that accommodates 3,000 seated patrons with more standing.

Ticketeted concerts were performed by Nickelback, Stevie Nicks, Jim Gaffigan, Toby Keith, Frankie Valli, John Mellencamp, Pentatonix, Usher and Lil John, Phantogram and Sam Hunt, with an appearance by native son Garrison Keillor of “Prairie Home Companion” fame with “The Minnesota Show.” Ticket prices for those shows, performed in the 13,000-15,000-seat grandstand, ranged from $29 to $90.

Hammer estimates that income for the fair will be around $50 million with operating expenses of about $46 million. About $1.9 million of the expenses went toward marketing, which is spread across print, radio, television and online, including, Hammer noted, ads on YouTube videos that consumers had to watch in their entirety before their programming would play. “We had a really high rate of viewing,” he said.

In addition to the “Today” show, four area TV stations broadcast programming from the fair, along with more than 20 radio stations, Hammer said.

Every year, the fair updates its smartphone app that allows consumers to navigate the grounds and the offerings, including food and entertainment as well as a “merch search.”

Twenty-three carnival operators placed 60 rides on the independent midway, an even split between the kiddie attractions and the adult rides. S.J. Entertainment’s Crazy Mouse spinning roller coaster was the No. 1 ride. In spite of the increases in attendance and food profits, the ride numbers were down 6.4 percent for total ride revenues of $3,823,158.

“Ride and game revenue was down, largely due to rain we experienced during the early days of the fair, making it difficult to recover the lost revenue generated by these types of our outdoor attractions,” said Jim Sinclair, the fair’s deputy general manager.

The Minnesota State Fair does not offer pay-one-price ride wristbands. Ride coupons cost $1 each, $25 for 30 tickets or $40 for 54 tickets, the same as last year. The advance ticket price was $15 for 25 tickets, also the same as 2016.

Next year’s dates will be Aug. 23 to Sept. 3.





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Manchester Arena Reopens
Posted: 12 Sep 2017, 9:00 pm

The new foyer of Manchester Arena, which reopened Sept. 9. (Photo courtesy of Pollstar)

Manchester Arena is back in business after a three-and-a-half-month renovation since the terrorist attack on the venue following an Ariana Grande concert May 22.

We Are Manchester, a benefit concert headlined by Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, marked the reopening, Sept. 9.

“Renovation work is still underway in the City Room, but it is sufficiently complete to reopen part of the space as a route to the arena,” stated the arena on its website.

City Room is the name of the area where a terrorist, identified as British-born Libyan Salman Abedi, detonated a bomb, killing 22 and injuring many more.

The Tim Parry Jonathan Ball Foundation For Peace, which was formed in 1995 by Colin and Wendy Parry, following the loss of their 12-year-old son Tim and 3-year-old Johnathan Ball, in the 1993 Warrington bomb attacks, which were perpetrated by the Provisional Irish Republican Army, produced the event. Families of the victims of the attack were invited.

Nick Taylor,  chief executive of the foundation, said in a statement that “there has been huge interest in this private advance visit which has been strongly police regulated and supported by event security, the Peace Foundation and Victim Support.”

“Visiting the City Room is clearly a sensitive issue and is not appropriate for all families or survivors, however it is important that we were able to facilitate this time for people to see the space and ask any questions before it reopens,” said Taylor. “We hope that this will help to prepare future concertgoers for their return to the arena.”

Tight venue security was in place for the benefit concert. There’s a ban in place for large bags and there won’t be any storage room for bags available on site.

The City Room will be one of only two entrances to the arena besides Hunts Banks outside Victoria Station. Concertgoers were urged to arrive early as “further enhanced security checks have been put in place to provide reassurance and confidence.”

Mike Downing, EVP, Prevent Advisors, said the redesign was just the first step. “Flows, ingress, egress and queuing are things they should have considered in the new designs,” he said. “Minimal loitering inside and outside the venue is what you want to design for.”

Verifying the gaps and vulnerabilities is vital to any redesign, said Downing. “I’d hate to think we have to put bomb-resistant material into all the designs because of the shrapnel and the glass, but it really depends on how much of that there is in the design.”

He also suggested that using smart technology “that connects everything including social media threats” is important.

“What really needs to be done is a thorough look at the security protocols and procedures they had in place and refresh them,” he said. “I’d look at what needs to be altered and look at the points of threats we are dealing with today; look at the technology and software that can shore up some of the vulnerabilities and the gaps to make sure the security is as intense throughout an event as it was in the beginning of the event.”

Partnerships with local, state and federal agencies should also have been addressed before reopening.

“Coordination with law enforcement is as much a part of any new plan as the design is,” he said. “Design is a big factor in mitigating opportunists, but we should still be on the prevention side of this problem with good intelligence, good deployment, good security, good technology and prevent it before it happens.”

“If it happens, we have a bit of a failure,” he added. “As this threat continues to evolve, we need to continue to be prepared for it.”



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OVG’S Global Partnerships Expands
Posted: 12 Sep 2017, 6:00 pm

OVG’S Global Partnerships' Dan Griffis, Evan Levine and Ryan Brach.

Last week, OVG’s Narrative Partners rebranded as Global Partnerships and added sports and entertainment vets Evan Levine and Ryan Brach to its executive team. Venues Today spoke with the two new key players plus Global Partnerships’ President Dan Griffis to get the inside thinking for the name switch and insight about where the OVG division goes from here.

Why did you change Narrative Partners to Global Partnerships?

Griffis: The idea around Oak View Group was going to be a top-level management company with multiple frames underneath it that we planned to run as separate companies. But as it played out, equity in OVG has continued to build, and we decided that Narrative Partners as an entity was not doing us any favors in terms of adding significant value. It became a complex tale to tell when it came to Narrative Partners and how we were connected to OVG. Simplicity is what’s important, and we needed a simpler story. Tim Leiweke (co-founder, OVG) and I sat down and talked about it, and we decided that the rebranding was a solid idea.

When were you approached to join the firm, and what was your thought processses when you decided to sign on?

Levine: March 2017. I’ve had a varied career in the sports and entertainment space on the corporate side of things as it relates to the National Basketball Association (NBA) and Major League Soccer (MLS) from a league perspective, as well as start-ups from the ground up. I worked at Roc Nation as they built their sports division and built out the commercial engine of their entire operation. Global Partnerships was a great opportunity, not only to work with Dan and Ryan, but to grow a brand. It is something you just can’t pass up.

Brach: May. I’ve been on the arena and team side my entire career and have relationships with a lot of my arena colleagues around the country. To have the chance to learn from Dan and Ryan and Tim and Irving (Azoff, the other OVG co-founder) is an incredible opportunity. The ability to leverage that with all of the other North American arenas to bring scale to the partners and to localize its effectiveness is a huge differentiator from a lot of the other large-scale types of opportunities present. Being able to bring my expertise on the arena and team side, whether that’s selling jersey rights to soccer teams or NBA pass deals or stadium naming rights, is right up my alley and really got me excited about joining OVG.

Where will you be working?

Levine: I’ll be based in New York City.

Griffis: We have multiple clients based on the East Coast and we expect to grow that office to five to 10 people. We are thrilled to have Evan aboard; he provides an East Coast network and conduit that will allow OVG to thrive on both coasts.

Brach: I’m in Los Angeles.

How will the structure work between you?

Griffis: Ryan and Evan will be the leads on all our accounts. Evan will be in charge of East Coast projects; Ryan, given his arena relationships, will take the lead on Arena Alliance partnerships. As new projects come online, it will be based on geography. All the account executives we’ve brought on in the last year or so will report directly to Ryan and Evan.

What are your main goals in your new positions?

Levine: To deliver for our clients, whether it’s our properties or third-party clients.
We want to build the best-in-class organization that is the envy of every other firm out there, whether it’s entertainment or sports.

Brach: Leveraging our relationships around the globe and being able to leverage our partnerships to help grow revenue. On the flip side, we want to give our partners the opportunity to do things they currently are unable to do.

By branding yourselves as ‘global partnerships’ do you have more than North America in mind?

Griffis: ‘Global’ comes from the idea that a lot of our clients have global properties.
We have no real plans to open an office abroad. But we’re not just focusing on companies that are based in the U.S. and Canada.

Brach: Most of the arenas and teams we represent have a global footprint; we’re confident we can handle it all from New York and Los Angeles.

Can you talk about the Walmart deal?

Griffis: Talks started taking place in loose conversations last fall. Given that I spent a lot of time in retail in sports and entertainment marketing for Target, I knew retail was a category widely available as it related to the Arena Alliance. The idea of us bringing the Arena Alliance program together and establishing national platforms in non-traditional categories intrigued me. Arenas like Madison Square Garden (NYC), Pepsi Center (Denver) and United Center (Chicago) do a phenomenal job as it relates to the soda category, the beer category, the insurance category and local automotive category, and we weren’t positioning ourselves to add a tremendous amount of value as it related to those.

Why retail?

Griffis: Retail is one place I thought we could add value, particularly the big-box chains. We came up with a program and  a conversation started with Haworth, Walmart’s media agency. Haworth represented Target for a very long time, and I knew them well. We talked about how we could showcase Walmart as a vibrant part of local communities. The Arena Alliance fit very well with these goals, with 65 million people across North America, who spend money.

Can you explain the program?

Griffis: We came up with the Walmart Community Playmakers Program, which is an opportunity for each of the teams to have a moment where someone gets recognized on the court or ice for their efforts within the local community to help the community become a better place to live. We rolled it out at the end of last season, and now it will roll out in full-force with the start of the new NBA and National Hockey League season. Every team has a website page where members of the community can nominate people to be awarded. Winners will get a plaque, a gift card and be treated like a VIP.

What are the financial arrangements, which one report pegged as $40 million over three years?

Griffis: While I can’t disclose the exact amount of the deal, I can say that it’s a nice investment, and the deal is multiyear with options beyond that as well.




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Hot Tickets for September 13, 2017
Posted: 12 Sep 2017, 2:00 pm

24K sensation Bruno Mars performed on Saturday Night Live, New York City.

Bruno Mars, currently on his 24K Magic World Tour, made three appearances on our Hot Tickets chart this week and took the top spot with with two sold-out, flawless performances at Bell Centre, Montreal, Aug. 29-30. With ticket prices ranging from $40-$143, the shows grossed a combined $3.5 million with 34,000 fans in attendance. Highlighted by his original style, the 31-year-old Hawaii native ignited audiences with a unique blend of sounds ranging from funk to R&B. Recently, Mars’ sound has been likened to that of the immortal Michael Jackson. The pop superstar will be making his next stop, Sept. 14, at Spectrum Center, Charolotte, N.C.

The family-friendly musical and one of Broadway’s most popular shows, “Wicked,” which premiered on Broadway in 2003, continues to enchant audiences with their 2017 North American tour. Showgoers in Appleton, Wis., were treated to a 16-show stop at Fox Cities Performing Arts Center, Aug. 30-Sept. 10, which saw sold-out crowds grossing nearly $3 million. The Broadway Across America-promoted show tells the story of a pre-Dorothy Oz and an unlikely friendship between Glenda the Good Witch and Elphaba the Wicked Witch of the West. The quirky characters, amazing design, soaring score and fascinating cast will continue to work their magic on audiences in North America throughout 2018.

HOT TICKETS is a weekly summary of the top acts and ticket sales as reported to VT PULSE. Following are the top 20 concerts and events, the top 5 in each seating capacity category, which took place Aug. 15-Sept. 12.

15,001 or More Seats

10,001-15,000 Seats

5,001-10,000 Seats

5,000 or Fewer Seats

1) Bruno Mars
Gross Sales: $3,572,087; Venue: Bell Centre, Montreal; Attendance: 34,000; Ticket Range: $143.85-$40.69; Promoter: evenko, Live Nation; Dates: Aug. 29-30; No. of Shows: 2

2) The Lumineers
Gross Sales: $2,006,076; Venue: Fiddler’s Green Amphitheatre, Greenwood Village, Colo.; Attendance: 48,533; Ticket Range: $65-$29.95; Promoter: Messina Touring Group; Dates: Aug. 25-27; No. of Shows: 3

3) Ed Sheeran
Gross Sales: $1,243,771; Venue: Spectrum Center, Charlotte, N.C.; Attendance: 13,927; Ticket Range: $99.50-$39.50; Promoter: Messina Touring Group; Dates: Sept. 3; No. of Shows: 1

4) Bruno Mars
Gross Sales: $1,216,928; Venue: Videotron Centre, Quebec City; Attendance: 15,099; Ticket Range: $102.75-$36.99; Promoter: Gestev, Live Nation, evenko; Dates: Aug. 24; No. of Shows: 1

5) Ed Sheeran
Gross Sales: $1,207,645; Venue: American Airlines Center, Dallas; Attendance: 13,632; Ticket Range: $99.50-$39.50; Promoter: Messina Touring Group; Dates: Aug. 18; No. of Shows: 1

1) Stevie Nicks
Gross Sales: $644,794; Venue: Resch Center, Green Bay, Wis.; Attendance: 5,841; Ticket Range: $125-$69.50; Promoter: Frank Productions; Dates: Aug. 23; No. of Shows: 1

2) Alan Jackson
Gross Sales: $339,239; Venue: Ford Center, Evansville, Ind.; Attendance: 5,731; Ticket Range: $96.50-$22; Promoter: Police Productions; Dates: Aug. 25; No. of Shows: 1

3) Marvel Universe Live
Gross Sales: $286,759; Venue: Valley View Casino Center, San Diego; Attendance: 11,571; Ticket Range: $82.50-$17.50; Promoter: Feld Entertainment; Dates: Aug. 24-27; No. of Shows: 7

4) Quad Series Netball
Gross Sales: $271,004; Venue: Brisbane (Australia) Entertainment Centre; Attendance: 6,627; Ticket Range: $73.61-$33.82; Promoter: Netball Australia; Dates: Aug. 26; No. of Shows: 1

5) One Big Voice
Gross Sales: $145,252; Venue: Perth (Australia) Arena; Attendance: 7,886; Ticket Range: $26.47; Promoter: One Big Voice; Dates: Aug. 18; No. of Shows: 1

1) Bruno Mars
Gross Sales: $2,153,264; Venue: Park Theater at Monte Carlo, Las Vegas; Attendance: 10,505; Ticket Range: $500-$99.50; Promoter: Live Nation, MGM Resorts; Dates: Sept. 2-3; No. of Shows: 2

2) Gloria Trevi vs Alejandra Guzman
Gross Sales: $903,490; Venue: State Farm Arena, Hidalgo, Texas; Attendance: 10,547; Ticket Range: $150-$45; Promoter: First Row Productions; Dates: Aug. 25-26; No. of Shows: 2

3) Dave Chappelle, Childish Gambino
Gross Sales: $857,265; Venue: Radio City Music Hall, New York; Attendance: 5,922; Ticket Range: $193.50-$93.50; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Aug. 19; No. of Shows: 1

4) Sebastian Maniscalco
Gross Sales: $849,360; Venue: Mohegan Sun Arena, Uncasville, Conn.; Attendance: 9,917; Ticket Range: $149-$59; Promoter: In-house, UTA; Dates: Aug. 26; No. of Shows: 1

5) Dave Chappelle, Kendrick Lamar
Gross Sales: $845,433; Venue: Radio City Music Hall, New York; Attendance: 5,850; Ticket Range: $193.50-$93.50; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Aug. 15; No. of Shows: 1

1) Rod Stewart
Gross Sales: $3,263,175; Venue: The Colosseum at Caesars Palace, Las Vegas; Attendance: 26,997; Ticket Range: $250-$49; Promoter: AEG Presents, Caesars Entertainment; Dates: Aug. 18-Sept. 3; No. of Shows: 8

2) Wicked
Gross Sales: $2,901,346; Venue: Fox Cities Performing Arts Center, Appleton, Wis.; Attendance: 29,974; Ticket Range: $172.50-$52.50; Promoter: Broadway Across America, In-house; Dates: Aug. 30-Sept. 10; No. of Shows: 16

3) Jeff Dunham
Gross Sales: $721,374; Venue: The Colosseum at Caesars Palace, Las Vegas; Attendance: 11,133; Ticket Range: $79.50-$49.50; Promoter: AEG Presents, Caesars Entertainment, Tate Entertainment; Dates: Aug. 2, 10, 16, 23, 30; No. of Shows: 5

4) Steve Martin, Martin Short
Gross Sales: $337,230; Venue: The Colosseum at Caesars Palace, Las Vegas; Attendance: 3,635; Ticket Range: $175-$49.95; Promoter: AEG Presents, Caesars Entertainment; Dates: Aug. 25; No. of Shows: 1

5) Taeyang 2017 World Tour White Night
Gross Sales: $292,883; Venue: Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre, Atlanta; Attendance: 1,557; Ticket Range: $338.14-$104.94; Promoter: KPOPME; Dates: Sept. 6; No. of Shows: 1

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


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Romer Resigns From VMA
Posted: 12 Sep 2017, 2:00 pm

SteveRomer_200x1452.jpgSteve Romer.

Venue Management Association, Asia and Pacific (VMA) Chief Executive Steve Romer has resigned from the organization after three-and-a-half years in the position.

Romer served as VMA president from 2008 to 2011. Previous to his time with VMA, Romer was GM of  the Sydney Entertainment Centre and he had held executive roles at the Sydney Convention & Exhibition Centre, Blacktown International Sports Park, Sydney and at Gold Coast theme parks Dreamworld, Coomera, Queensland, and Sea World, Main Beach, Queensland.

Romer will remain in his role as chief executive until late October.


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accesso ShoWare Center
Posted: 1 Sep 2017, 6:30 pm

Be ready. That’s the call, especially during this horrific fire and hurricane season.
These past few weeks, everyone has been reaching out to loved ones in danger of floods, winds and fire, the worst in decades. As always, venue managers are in the eye of the storm, setting up shelters, battening down hatches, hosting benefits, and welcoming politicians and celebrities.
Given the fact that when disaster strikes, you and your family are personally at risk as well, it’s truly a calling to be among the first responders. Just like law enforcement and medical personnel, venue managers are true servants to humanity.
Mark Miller, NRG Park/SMG; Luther Villagomez, George R. Brown Convention Center; and Ned Collett, Oak View Group, all Houstonians on the rescue/serve side of Hurricane Harvey’s direct hit on that city, took it in stride. Pros are prepared.
Mark Miller’s personal saga went like this: “I actually went to rescue my son, Ken, because he had water coming up in his neighborhood. I waded in and carried him and his one-and-a-half-year-old son out. The water was knee deep. We got them to our house. Monday morning they said ‘you need to get out of your house now.’ The Brazos River was expected to go to 61 feet and our levy was only 59 feet. They were saying get out now or you won’t be able to get out later. Fortunately the water on his street had gone down, so we went back to his house.”
“You don’t know what to expect. You watch it minute-by-minute, hour-by-hour to figure out what you have to do.”
While he was playing musical houses on the personal front, Miller was also making his way to work, setting up the 300-acre NRG Park as shelter and staging area for law and medical personnel. They even became a helipad.
“It all worked out. On Tuesday, I got from my son’s house to the building and I didn’t have any issues. We were literally working on the shelter on Tuesday and Wednesday. Wednesday, I got in the car to see how far I could get, and got all the way to my house, and turned the power and the alarms back on.”
Collett borrowed a boat and help from his neighbor, a fisherman, and spent a day rescuing neighbors, including Melissa McGee Singleton and her family. Villagomez shrugged off the drama, saying his family was luckily in a safe area, while he was at the convention center, sheltering up to 10,000 people. The Incident Command is sort of like any event coordination committee, just less predictable.
Sitting here in balmy Southern California, our hearts and hopes are with all of those in danger and post-trauma mode. Disaster is nondiscriminant. All we can do from here is keep in touch. But those of you in the thick of it, wow, you are heroes.
God grant you many years to be ready.

Read the full article


Posted: 1 Sep 2017, 6:15 pm

I was reading an article in Industrial Safety & Hygiene News (what do you do for fun?) by Chris Klinvex titled “Know Your Wiring - Employee Inner Personal Traits Drive Safety Performance.”
Klinvex wrote about safety compliance and performance, but I saw many correlations to how employee’s personal traits are reflected in their workflow, productivity and overall performance.
While reading the article, I found myself thinking about character, which for me can be simply defined by considering what someone does when no one is watching. I recognize that this is an oversimplification, but it works for me in this context. As I gain more experience, it is increasingly obvious to me that in the vast majority of cases, simpler is better and in many cases more accurate.
The model to predict our success at work has been evolved over the course of the past 50 years. The most widely accepted model of personality — the ‘Big Five’ model — uses five distinct scales to describe personality: conscientiousness (the extent to which one is dependable and persistent), emotional stability (one’s calmness and self-control), extroversion (a measure of sociability, ambition and narcissism), agreeableness (the extent to which one is cooperative and altruistic), and openness to experience (a measure of creativity and novelty-seeking as opposed to being set in one’s ways).
Klinvex’s article refers to safety shortcuts that an individual will take when the opportunity presents itself. “An employee with a lower ability to perceive and evaluate risks will have four times more safety incidents than those with a stronger ability.” We all know employees where the main risk of injury to them and others relates to rules. “These employees tend to tolerate rules versus respect them.” They are quick to rationalize violating the rules when they are unsupervised, when the policies and procedures become inconvenient or when they perceive the risk to be low. 
The same applies in my own analysis of productivity and performance. I have experienced numerous situations in my career where a staff member found the agreed upon direction and methodology inconvenient or felt that the timing of the solution was more important than the path and process to the solution.
They usually made those decisions because they did not have the necessary experience or information. Based on their level of professional experience, they could not reasonably visualize how their actions could create negative or unexpected consequences. This also occurs when someone is solely focused on their part of the solution (silo) vs. the potential implications throughout the organization. This inability to understand or appreciate the risks of a shortcut can affect every area of an organization.
There are also employees that stand out in my ability to reasonably predict their actions. Interestingly enough, I rarely had issues with that group, as I usually did not put them in a position to make a mistake or allow them too much space without being supervised.
In most cases, this discussion comes back to two of the key issues — time and communication — that managers and operators find in short supply and suffer the consequences.
An article in Forbes Magazine by Sebastian Bailey titled “Can Personality Predict Performance?” suggests that personality is the driver for behavior. There is no great surprise in that. The article continues to describe what can be a path to a solution that managers and operators can consider as they are building their teams or replacing team members. Note, the average person spends 4.4 years at a job. For Millennials it is half that.
Unfortunately, it seems that we rarely have the time to fully consider the long-term implications of the hires we make in the context of the overall team. In making a decision like that, the immediate need is addressed but the long-term consequences can be counter-productive to the organization.

The Bottom Line
I see a lot of reactionary decision making in our business when it comes to staffing and team building. There is a good deal of fear associated with the Human Resources and candidate selection process. Fear and discomfort are usually born of a lack of familiarity and understanding of the process. I encourage you to make a commitment to developing a process with the appropriate due diligence and sticking with it.

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Posted: 1 Sep 2017, 6:00 pm

Pammatthews.jpgPAM MATTHEWS
HOMETOWN: Memphis, Tenn.
UNIVERSITY: Pepperdine, Calif.
FIRST JOB IN THE INDUSTRY: Runner with Bob Kelley of Mid-South Concerts.
HOW DID YOU GET YOUR CURRENT JOB: The previous ED, Tiffany Davis, left and Barry Jeffrey called me.
FAVORITE PART OF YOUR JOB: Being in the music and concert business.
MENTORS: Steve Moore and Naomi Judd.
WHAT DID YOU THINK YOU WOULD DO WHEN YOU WERE A KID: First female senator from Tennessee.
FREE TIME PURSUITS: Spend time at the pool.
TOP SONG ON YOUR PLAYLIST RIGHT NOW: “Love & Hate” by Michael Kiwanuka.
BEST ADVICE EVER RECEIVED: Bloom where you are planted.
FAVORITE LIVE EVENT YOU'VE ATTENDED: Prince at the United Center in Chicago in 1997.


Jon_Pertrunak_copy.jpgJON PETRUNAK
HOMETOWN: Johnstown, Pa.
UNIVERSITY: James Madison Univ., Harrisonburg, Va.
FIRST JOB IN THE INDUSTRY: Box office manager, Santander Center, Reading, Pa., which was called Sovereign Center back then.
HOW DID YOU GET YOUR CURRENT JOB: I was booking arenas for SMG buildings and Mike Evans brought me to Live Nation.
FAVORITE PART OF THE JOB: Working in different markets across multiple venues.
MENTOR: Mike Evans.
FREE TIME PURSUITS: Playing golf and spending time with my twins, Charlotte and Kaden.
TOP SONG ON YOUR PLAYLIST RIGHT NOW: “If I Ever Feel Better” by Phoenix.
MOST EMBARRASSING SONG ON YOUR PLAYLIST RIGHT NOW: “Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Yellow Polka Dot Bikini” by Brian Hyland.
WHAT WOULD PEOPLE BE SURPRISED TO LEARN ABOUT YOU: I’ve got seven siblings and played college football.
BEST ADVICE EVER RECEIVED: There’s never a bad show, only a bad deal.
FAVORITE LIVE EVENT YOU'VE ATTENDED: Eminem with Busta Rhymes during spring break in Cancun. Tom Green was the MC.


Edward_Tex_Dike_copy.jpgEDWARD “TEX” DIKE
HOMETOWN: Okemos, Mich.
UNIVERSITY: Michigan State Univ., East Lansing
FIRST JOB IN THE INDUSTRY: Box office manager at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, Las Vegas.
HOW DID YOU GET YOUR CURRENT JOB: I was approached by Kurt Melien, who was a VP with Caesars Entertainment.
FAVORITE PART OF THE JOB: Show nights. It never gets old.
MENTOR: My dad, George, who taught me ‘people skills.’
WHAT DID YOU THINK YOU WOULD DO WHEN YOU WERE A KID: Cowboy, farmer and pro football player, all at the same time.
FREE TIME PURSUITS: Playing golf, spending time with my family and listening to music.
ONE DAY ESCAPE: Glacier National Park in Montana.
TOP SONG ON YOUR PLAYLIST RIGHT NOW: “Heavy Dirty Soul” by Twenty One Pilots
BEST ADVICE EVER RECEIVED: Keep your mouth shut and your eyes open.

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Posted: 1 Sep 2017, 6:00 pm

Aramark, the largest provider of National Football League (NFL) stadium food and beverage, took a brunch-themed angle on the 2017 NFL season. The providers of food and beverage at 10 NFL venues, more than any other company, mixed in all-day brunch items across the nation, along with a few completely fresh takes on everything from new in-stadium concepts to regional favorites.
In an effort to keep the lineup crisp with more than six million football fans served each year across the 10 venues, Aramark worked in the off-season to create a new lineup that followed the latest food trends and fan feedback.
“Food plays a huge role in any stadium event, and is an integral part of what makes the stadium experience come to life,” said Carl Mittleman, president of Aramark’s sports and entertainment division. “This NFL season, we elevated stadium classics by listening to our fans and introducing new menu concepts we are proud to serve on game day.”
The all-day brunchin’ theme plays into the classic tastes expected in a brunch, but with the portability of a traditional stadium meal. Some of the highlights include everything from a Donut Burger at Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, that has a fresh burger topped with a fried egg and crispy bacon on a glazed donut bun and the Arrowhead Biscuit at Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City, Mo., that piles a biscuit sandwich with a hash brown patty, Canadian bacon, a fried egg, bacon jam and cheese, all topped with mini pancakes and bacon.
But the brunch doesn’t stop there. FirstEnergy Stadium, Cleveland, features a grilled bratwurst with sausage gravy, maple hot sauce, bacon crumbles and whipped butter on a Belgian waffle; M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore, went Burger Benedict with a ground bacon burger topped with a fried egg, ham, tomato, Monterey jack cheese and hollandaise spread on a toasted English muffin.  At NRG Stadium, Houston, Aramark took a breakfast spin on a chicken biscuit by using corn flakes to crust the chicken breast that is topped with a creamy gravy; Soldier Field, Chicago, has a French toast and sausage sandwich that includes Big Fork maple bacon sausage, spiced apple compote, toasted pecans, sharp cheddar cheese and caramel-maple syrup.
Paul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati, features a crispy pork tenderloin with smoky bacon topped with yogurt sauce and baby kale on a Belgium waffle. U.S. Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, in its sophomore season, is offering a Purple Grip, a buttermilk pancake, breakfast sausage link, bacon cream gravy, crispy tater tots and minced chives. At Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia, management opted for a Frosted Flakes-crusted chicken breast topped with Cooper Sharp cheddar cheese and ghost chili honey glazed bacon on a sliced apple fritter; and Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, took a cheesesteak with sharp provolone, arugula, fried egg and roasted garlic aioli and put it on a toasted bagel.
Even with brunch served all game long, Aramark still opted to create a few other key dishes, such as the cola-braised short rib mac and cheese at Arrowhead Stadium, a brat or hot dog boiled in Leinenkugel’s new Anniversary Lager and served Chicago style at Soldier Field, a pierogi dish served three ways in Pittsburgh, fried potato skins in Kansas City and a pork belly sandwich in Philadelphia.
With all the meat moving around these stadiums, Aramark didn’t ignore new dishes on the vegan and vegetarian side. Lincoln Financial Field features a new vegan banh mi with crispy marinated tofu, while FirstEnergy Stadium went with vegan and gluten-free black bean taquitos. M&T Bank Stadium has a veggie burger and dog with mango chutney and a roasted Portobello sandwich.
Along with new dishes, Aramark spent time on original concepts. FirstEnergy Stadium will offer Jane Dough, a gourmet cookie dough provider, and Arrowhead Stadium features Zoom Food with customer-facing, self-ordering kiosks meant to improve the speed of transaction time.
M&T Bank Stadium allows for the NFL debut of Shake Shack, the popular burger joint. The new restaurant inside the stadium includes an assortment of the Shake Shack classics, including the ShackBurger, ‘Shroom Burger and Shack Stack.
Aramark also has a number of celebrity chefs, including seven James Beard Award-winning chefs, introducing new offerings at stadiums this season. Those chefs include the likes of Andrew Zimmern, Chris Shepherd, David Morton, Gavin Kaysen, Grady Spears, Jimmy Bannos Jr., Jonathon Sawyer, Marc Vetri, Michael Symon, Rocco Whalen and Ronnie Killen.



Aramark's new NFL brunch menus across the country are in the $9-$15 per serving price range, including:

Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, Fla.
All Day Brunchin’ Donut Burger $13

FirstEnergy Stadium, Cleveland
All Day Brunchin’ Breakfast Brat $11

All Day Brunchin’ French Toast & Sausage Sandwich $10

US Bank Stadium, Minneapolis
All Day Brunchin’ Purple Grip $10

Arrowhead Stadium, KANSAS City, Mo.
All Day Brunchin’ Arrowhead Biscuit $13

Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia
All Day Brunchin’ Slim Chicken $14

NRG Stadium, Houston
All Day Brunchin’ Chicken Biscuit $15

All Day Brunchin’ Steak-N-Eggs $12

M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore
All Day Brunchin’ Burger Benedict $12.50

Paul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati
All Day Brunchin’ Porkopolis Waffle $9.75

Read the full article


Posted: 1 Sep 2017, 6:00 pm

Be ready. That’s the call, especially during this horrific fire and hurricane season.
These past few weeks, everyone has been reaching out to loved ones in danger of floods, winds and fire, the worst in decades. As always, venue managers are in the eye of the storm, setting up shelters, battening down hatches, hosting benefits, and welcoming politicians and celebrities.
Given the fact that when disaster strikes, you and your family are personally at risk as well, it’s truly a calling to be among the first responders. Just like law enforcement and medical personnel, venue managers are true servants to humanity.
Mark Miller, NRG Park/SMG; Luther Villagomez, George R. Brown Convention Center; and Ned Collett, Oak View Group, all Houstonians on the rescue/serve side of Hurricane Harvey’s direct hit on that city, took it in stride. Pros are prepared.
Mark Miller’s personal saga went like this: “I actually went to rescue my son, Ken, because he had water coming up in his neighborhood. I waded in and carried him and his one-and-a-half-year-old son out. The water was knee deep. We got them to our house. Monday morning they said ‘you need to get out of your house now.’ The Brazos River was expected to go to 61 feet and our levy was only 59 feet. They were saying get out now or you won’t be able to get out later. Fortunately the water on his street had gone down, so we went back to his house.”
“You don’t know what to expect. You watch it minute-by-minute, hour-by-hour to figure out what you have to do.”
While he was playing musical houses on the personal front, Miller was also making his way to work, setting up the 300-acre NRG Park as shelter and staging area for law and medical personnel. They even became a helipad.
“It all worked out. On Tuesday, I got from my son’s house to the building and I didn’t have any issues. We were literally working on the shelter on Tuesday and Wednesday. Wednesday, I got in the car to see how far I could get, and got all the way to my house, and turned the power and the alarms back on.”
Collett borrowed a boat and help from his neighbor, a fisherman, and spent a day rescuing neighbors, including Melissa McGee Singleton and her family. Villagomez shrugged off the drama, saying his family was luckily in a safe area, while he was at the convention center, sheltering up to 10,000 people. The Incident Command is sort of like any event coordination committee, just less predictable.
Sitting here in balmy Southern California, our hearts and hopes are with all of those in danger and post-trauma mode. Disaster is nondiscriminant. All we can do from here is keep in touch. But those of you in the thick of it, wow, you are heroes.
God grant you many years to be ready.

Read the full article


Posted: 1 Sep 2017, 6:00 pm

As security threats become more prevalent at venues across the globe, venue operators are turning to magnetometers for screening and protecting guests prior to entering events.
“In today’s age, it’s something you have to get used to,” said Rich Carollo, director of sales and marketing at the Colorado Convention Center, Denver. “Every time there’s one of those horrible events, things get tighter.”
Carollo pointed to the terrorist bombing at Manchester Arena in the United Kingdom and the 2016 Orlando nightclub shooting that killed 49 people as wakeup calls for convention center operators.
In the first quarter of this year, the Colorado Convention Center and Bellco Theater spent $15,000 on 10 magnetometers, Carollo said. They’ve had some interesting items taken from guests entering the venues, including bullets. “It’s surprising what you find. Open ammunition — bullets. Someone carrying loose ammunition is kinda strange,” he said.
Employing magnetometers (mags) is decided on a case-by-case basis at the SMG-managed convention center and at other venues. However, the Bellco Theater, Denver, on the same property — also managed by SMG — has magnetometers up and running at all times, Carollo said.
The convention center opted to use mags more selectively for when politicians come to town or for events that warrant more security. For example, in July the center used them at the Western Conservative Summit, he said.
“When you have politicians and large targets, safety is a concern,” Carollo said, highlighting that the convention center is not so concerned with security for events featuring Elmo as they are if Flo Rida is playing.
Communicating with guests is of huge importance to make sure the ingress of crowds goes smoothly. Usually, they’ll send an email blast to ticket holders, alerting them to arrive early.
“It does take longer to get people into a venue. If a show starts at 8 p.m., people often show up at 7:50 or 7:55,” Carollo said, noting how that puts the venue and the performers in a bind to start on time. With communication via social media, email and ticket notices, people generally will show up earlier.
“They show up and it’s like an airport security line,” he said. “We’ve gotten it down to where no one is waiting more than five to 10 minutes. Attendees don’t complain that much, as they know it’s for their own safety.”
A lot of the time, the use of magnetometers is client driven, meaning those who book events or shows at convention centers will request and/or require the extra security.
Events DC, which operates the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, also uses magnetometers on a case-by-case basis, said Samuel Thomas, GM and SVP.
Unlike the Colorado Convention Center, Walter E. Washington Convention Center does not own its own magnetometers. Instead, clients that want them at various events will rent them or hire an outside company to run them.
As you can imagine, high-security events — such as the Christians Unite For Israel Conference — happen often in Washington, D.C., Thomas said. “Heads of state definitely use magnetometers,” he said. “It really is events that are organized and have jurisdiction under the Department of Homeland Security and the Secret Service. Inaugural balls, or the Nuclear Security Summit that we’ve hosted twice now, all use magnetometers.”
The convention center had discussions about having magnetometers full-time at the venue, but it’s not in the cards yet, Thomas said.
“What we’re finding more often as a level below magnetometers are bag checks at gate shows, or shows where the attendees pay upon arrival,” he said.
Most politicians and high-profile conferences now place security above all else when pricing where they want to book their event, Thomas highlighted, saying that in the past, it wasn’t so important.
“Over the last 10 years, based on a number of incidents that have taken place, they rank that at the top,” he said.
They also now have K9 units coming in and walking through the building for security.
Michael Marion, general manager of Verizon Arena, North Little Rock, Ark., said his venue has considered having K9 bomb-sniffing dogs outside the arena after shows.
The 18,000-seat arena bought 27 magnetometers a year and a half ago and uses them at almost every event. The only time they’re not used is if everyone at a banquet — say 40 people — can be identified. But when the venue hosts larger events, concerts aside, that have 800 people, the magnetometers certainly are used, Marion said.
“They’re the hot new topic,” he said, noting that his venue is mainly a concert arena and they don’t have a sports tenant. “A year ago, the National Basketball Association  and the National Hockey League required all the buildings that they play in to use mags. A lot of us at the International Association of Venue Managers meeting of the second league markets wondered if this is was something we need to move to. When San Bernardino happened, and the club in Orlando, I thought we need to do this.”
Marion put out a bid for the magnetometers, but before they purchased them, they rented the mags, he said.
He had to train his staff and attendees, but overall it’s been a great addition to security, he said.
“Nobody is whining about the mags. Most of the patrons are happy that you’re doing this. It’s a very visible way of saying we want to keep you safe. There’s a lot of positive PR in it,” he said.
The venue has 1,000 baskets they hand out to guests, and at the bottom of the basket is a graphic, telling them what they should and shouldn’t put in them prior to going through the magnetometers, which helps speed up the lines.
Rebecca Bonnevier, Century Link Center, Bossier City, La., gave Marion the idea to put the pictures in the basket to make the process smoother.
Next up for venues is worrying about what happens outside, after the shows, Marion said, noting that the bombing in Manchester happened outside the venue.
“The next challenge is thinking about what happens outside the building,” he said. “We’re looking at having a bomb dog after the show and more security outside after the shows.”
Venues and convention centers often waiver on whether or not they should buy magnetometers. The Los Angeles Convention Center  (LACC) decided to make the purchase, while the San Diego Convention Center has their clients set up magnetometers rentals for events.
“LACC takes safety and security very seriously,” said Brad Gessner, GM, LACC and SVP, AEG Facilities. “Two years ago we purchased 20 magnetometers as well as 20 metal detector wands that we make available to events that have the need to provide this level of security screening.”
Events like Naturalization Ceremonies, EDM Concerts, the LA Auto Show and the BET Experience are just a few of the events that have chosen to utilize the magnetometers to screen attendees to their events, he said.
“We also have implemented a new requirement that any event drawing 5,000 attendees or more employ Los Angeles police officers to monitor activity and provide an elevated level of security,” stressed Gessner. “We anticipate the need for this level of security screening will continue to grow given the safety and security issues our world faces today, and have just placed an additional order for five more magnetometers given the demand for their use.”

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Posted: 1 Sep 2017, 6:00 pm

Getting an artist, their entourage, their band and backup singers equipment and set pieces from one venue to the next is an art in itself. Transportation requires a lot of precise planning and can be pricy and problematic.
With many tours using multiple buses and trucks to haul around their people and stuff, another big concern is the damage this does to the environment. Many tour and trucking operators, aware of the effects on the earth from all those emissions into the air, and all the waste the tour produces, have been trying to find solutions that make touring greener.
Several have tried environmentally friendly biodiesel fuel; some are using straight vegetable oil (SVO), which uses a blend of vegetable oil, and others have chosen to offset their carbon footprint by encouraging green practices in other areas. Venues Today spoke with several tour operators to explore how going green is working.
Greenvans started in 2008 with a mission to save time, money, frustration — and the environment. “We support touring musicians who are as passionate about making a positive impact on the environment as they are about their music,” said Andy Reitz, president,  Greenvans.
“In 2008 we converted a van to run on waste vegetable oil (WVO) and started Greenvans,” he said. “Yes, we were mad scientists at the time, but we saw how much of an environmental impact touring had, and we thought we could make a small but useful contribution to the green initiative in the music industry.”
“There aren’t a lot of affordable options out there for bands that want to tour green so we’re glad to be a small way for bands to reduce their environmental impact on the road,” said Reitz.
In its nine-year history, Greenvans has served hundreds of environmentally-minded tours including Sonic Bids, Naysayer and Zion.
“There are more and more artists every day who think it’s important to be proactive about going green in any way they can,” said Reitz. “We’re a step in the right direction.”
Doug Oliver is the GM of Pioneer Coach, a company that leases entertainer coaches to musicians. They have a fleet of 40 sleeper vehicles that have eight to 12 beds, lounges and kitchens, and cost around $800,000 each. Rentals cost around $1,500-$1,800 a day and includes fuel, liability insurance and the driver.
On average, tours use two buses, but some bigger tours, like stadium tours, use five to 10 buses. The average lease is a couple months long, some deals are annual, but they’ve done multiyear leases as well.
Some of their clients have been the Avett Brothers, James Taylor, Brandi Carlile, Kenny Rogers and Old Dominion.
Oliver said that the company made a push into biodiesel several years ago, which Oliver describes as “a traditional diesel with a blend of vegetable oil in it. Our engines only allow b10 (10 percent vegetable oil) or less. Simply put, it uses less energy.”
The biodiesel performs better during warm months and during the colder months. It will leave a paraffin wax that causes problems, he said.
“We found that bio-diesel costs more and you have to change the fuel filters more often,” said Oliver. “We leave it up to artist to decide if they want to pay the premium to use bio-diesel.”
Diesel prices are a big expenditure in the cost of touring. “It’s something we watch constantly,” said Oliver.
Kevin Lyman, CEO for, runs the Warped Tour, the longest running touring festival in North America. The tour plays 38 to 43 dates from Boston to Miami to San Diego to Seattle. “Trying to go in a straight line is hard,” said Lyman.
Warped Tour just finished its latest route in August with bands including GWAR, Andy Black and Neck Deep. The tour took 16 buses and 18 trucks, and Lyman said that 15 percent of the Warped Tour budget goes to travel.
The tour has been exploring green practices for over a decade and made the switch to biodiesel in 2006, Lyman said. “The thing with biodiesel is that we had to figure out what independent distributors of biodiesel there were across the country, which was a challenge.” 
But Warped Tour made it work — until 2012 when the government took away the tax incentives for the biodiesel manufacturers. “We got hung up by highway robbery,” he said. “We had to give them (biodiesel sellers) a credit card and we had to order 5,000 gallons at a time, whether we used it or not. Then they started making us pay up to $6 a gallon for the biofuel.”
Lyman weighed the extreme costs attached to biodiesel and determined the program was financially prohibitive and ultimately unsustainable, but he didn’t want to abandon the tour’s concerns for offsetting energy use.
“We looked at the cost difference between diesel and biodiesel, and we decided the best approach was to use the difference to fund other green initiatives. It felt better than paying over-the-top prices for the biodiesel,” he said.
Using the funds, Warped Tour now gives away reusable shopping bags and encourages people to use them throughout the year. They also use sustainable corn-based forks and knives. “In the beginning, we had to carry the forks and knives on our buses, but we convinced (food provider giant) Sysco to stock them so we could get them in each market.” Warped Tour also pays for ‘eco-teams,’ which are recycling squads who collect bottles and plastics after the shows. They also built a solar stage out of a SL250 and used it on tour.
Warped Tour encourages ridesharing services and carpooling. “We did deals with Lyft and Uber and we’ve done buses with Rally Bus, where kids can go to a central point and get travel to the shows. We want to encourage getting people to the shows in a more efficient and less energy wasting way,” he said.
A graduate student did his masters on how to make Warped Tour net-zero waste and said they could do it in three years. “We only got to 60 percent,” he said. “I need to sit down and see how we can get to 100 percent.”

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Posted: 1 Sep 2017, 6:00 pm

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

With the growing sophisticated threats, make sure to secure
critical areas of your venue — IT servers, control rooms, HVAC areas. It is important to keep
these areas secure with locks and tamper-proof seals.

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Posted: 1 Sep 2017, 6:00 pm

The SMG-managed Florence (S.C.) Civic Center has named Brittany Butler the venue’s new events coordinator. Prior to joining the Civic Center staff, Butler had been supervising a local event planning company in the region. Also joining the team is new sales manager, Mary Hudson, who worked in the trade show and corporate meeting field and has also owned a design and product development company before taking on her new role.

Jordan Carriere is joining Madison House Inc. as an agent. Making the transition to Madison House with Carriere are his clients, including Coco Montoya, Flow Tribe, Pho, Pacific Dub, and the Supervillians. Carriere will be based out of Madison House's Boulder, Colo., offices. Carriere joins Madison House after a six-year stint at Monterey International. He graduated from Columbia College, Chicago, with a degree in arts management.

Edlen Electrical Exhibition Services has added Brittany Cordova to its team as AGM. Cordova joined Edlen in 2014 and played a key role in transitioning the new partnership with the Los Angeles Convention Center.

The AristoMedia Group has added Cheri Cranford to the company’s publicity and events division, AristoPR, as PR and special events manager. Most of her music industry career was spent at Sony Music Nashville, formerly Arista Nashville, and RCA Label Group. Most recently, Cranford worked as manager, HR, and executive assistant at Rural Media Group/RFD-TV and GM at Streamsound Records.

The Fox Theatre, Atlanta, has staffed its new Marquee Club presented by Lexus. Paul Delgado will be the club’s manager and Alfredo Rodriguez is the new executive chef. Delgado’s varied history includes time with Walt Disney World Resort’s Magic Kingdom Theme Park, Orlando, and Ruth’s Chris Steak House at both Harrah’s Casino, N.C. and Atlanta’s Centennial Park location. Rodriguez’s previous positions include Walt Disney World Resorts, Orlando, and California Center for the Arts, Escondido. Most recently, Rodriguez was the chef at Emilio and Gloria Estefan’s restaurant Oriente at Cardozo Hotel, Miami. 

Live Nation Entertainment has expanded its footprint in Brazil with the hiring of industry veteran Alexandre Faria as director and senior VP of talent buying. Faria began his career in 1994 as an independent promoter, before joining indie promoter Mercury Concerts in 1999. In 2000, Faria moved to regional live events promoter CIE Brasil, which later spun off as T4F Entretenimento S.A., where he was responsible for booking and producing concerts in Brazil and South America. For the past seven years, Faria was at Time For Fun, where he handled promotion and booking for all of TF4's South American events, working on tours such as U2, Foo Fighters and EDC, as well as the Lollapalooza Festival.

Chris Granger has been hired by Ilitch Holdings, Inc., the company behind the new Little Caesars Arena, Detroit, as group president for sports and entertainment. Granger left his position as president of the National Basketball Association's (NBA) Sacramento (Calif.) Kings in June. He was in charge of the business operations of the team and led the effort to build the Kings’ new arena, Golden 1 Center, which opened in October 2016. Prior to this, Granger had had a 14-year career as an executive in the NBA's league offices where he led the team marketing and business operations, advising NBA, Women’s National Basketball League (WNBA) and NBA Development League teams.

SAVOR…Chicago has promoted Kevin Jezewski to director of food & beverage at McCormick Place, Chicago. Jezewski has been with SAVOR…Chicago for the past six years and has nearly two decades of food & beverage industry experience.

SMG-managed Van Andel Arena, DeVos Place, and DeVos Performance Hall, Grand Rapids, Mich., has made several changes to its key staff.  Director of Event Services Todd Johnson has transitioned into a new role as director of event operations & security. Chris Anderson has been named chief engineer for Van Andel Arena and DeVos Place. The new ticketing coordinator will be Josh Zeigler. SMG’s marketing department has also welcomed new Marketing Manager Alison Goodyke and has transitioned Group Sales Manager Rebecca Chesnut into the promotions and special events manager role and Marketing Assistant Mike Klompstra has been promoted to the digital marketing coordinator role.

Mark Kaufman has been named head of the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center’s public safety department. Kaufman comes to New Orleans from AEG Facilities in Oakland, Calif., where he served as VP of operations. Prior to his tenure at AEG, Kaufman was GM, and then CEO, of the Oakland Alameda County Coliseum Authority (OACCA) and Oakland Coliseum Joint Venture (SMG). Kaufman also served as director of sales and event services with SMG at the New Orleans Superdome for ten years.

Veteran radio programmer John Mayer has joined Caroline as a regional promotion director. Prior to Caroline, Mayer worked at iHeartMedia for 10 years, most recently as the program director of WFLZ, Tampa, Fla., and previously as the program director of WRVW, Nashville,Tenn. He has also held positions at iHeartMedia as a music director, in marketing, and as on-air talent.

Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment (BSE) is making changes to its senior management team following the retirement of Chief Financial Officer Charlie Mierswa, who has been with BSE since 2005. New CFO Eu-Gene Sung is joining the company from advertising agency McCann New York, where she served as the CFO. Her finance experience spans from Interpublic Group to J.P. Morgan. Chris Magee, who currently serves as senior VP of HR will fill the newly-created role of chief administrative officer.

Hard Rock International has promoted Andrew Nasskau to the post of vice president of operations development. Before his promotion, Nasskau led the team responsible for the management, operations and pre-opening of Hard Rock Hotels throughout Europe, the Middle East, Africa and India. Nasskau joined the Hard Rock Hotels & Casinos team in 2015 as regional director of operations – EMEA, and was promoted in 2016 to area vice president of operations – EMEA.

Gabriela Ong has been appointed VP of sales at Meet Puerto Rico (MPR). Ong has 16 years of sales experience in the hospitality industry including the past three as brand sales manager, Northeast for MPR. Before joining MPR in 2014, Ong was group sales manager at the InterContinental New York Barclay. Prior to that she held the sales manager position for various hotel brands including Marriott International, Sheraton Stamford and InterContinental New York Times Square.

Gary Richards has joined LiveStyle as president of LiveStyle North America. Richards is the founder of the event and festival company HARD Events. Since 1991, Richards has been a concert promoter, DJ, record label executive and festival founder.

The Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau (PHLCVB) has hired Melissa Richter-Piraino to the role of national sales manager in the convention sales division. Prior to joining the PHLCVB, Richter-Piraino spent more than seven years with Starwood Hotels and Resorts. She served as a guest service/whatever-whenever agent at W New York City, as well as a sales coordinator at Starwood Global Sales. Most recently, she worked as a sales manager for group meetings and events at the Westin New York at Times Square, NYC.

National Shows 2 (NS2) has added veteran comedy talent buyer Lisa Roberts to its staff. Roberts got her start in the music business in the A&R department at the RCA Label Group Nashville. Roberts holds a B.S. in advertising from Kent State University, Ohio.

Christoph Schulze Dieckhoff is the new sales manager of guest events at Messe Berlin. He takes over from Christian Ortlepp, who has relocated to Düsseldorf. Prior, he was a hotel specialist with the Berlin Conference Hotel Andel’s of the Vienna House Group. Previous posts included project management at Maritim Hotels and MICE AG.

Western Specialty Contractors has appointed Chester Scott as branch manager of its Atlanta office. Chester was previously the branch manager of Western's Orlando, Fla. office. Chester started with Western in 1984 and has held the positions of field laborer, foreman, sales/project manager and department manager at Western's Chicago, Ill., office, in addition to branch manager of the Orlando, Fla., branch.

Kristine Smith has joined The Activity as executive producer. Since 1999, Smith has worked as a freelance executive producer and project lead for agencies such as Jack Morton Worldwide, among others. In 2010, Smith founded 22twelve Ltd. in New York.

Stoney's Rockin' Country has named Toad its new marketing manager/co-buyer of its Las Vegas nightclub and concert venue. Toad previously had a heavy presence on the Las Vegas local music scene through his site.

The Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre has appointed Muhammad Vickneswaran as its new HR director. Vickneswaran is a senior HR professional with over 27 years’ experience in human resources, specifically in the hospitality industry.


Harry Sandler — 73, rock photographer and tour manager, Sept. 2, after a brief fight against cancer. Sandler spent much of his career working as a tour manager for Irving Azoff. Sandler retired from tour management in 2008 and focused on his true professional love, photography. Sandler is survived by his long-time companion, AEG’s Debra Rathwell and daughter Marcella Grimaux and son Jesse Sandler, who now works as a production manager and tour director.

Jo Walker-Meador — 93, one of the pioneers of what we now know as country music, Aug. 16, after suffering a stroke. Walker-Meador was the first hire at the Country Music Association (CMA) and she led the organization from 1962-1991. Prior to her executive role, Walker-Meador worked as the office manager of the association. Walker-Meador led the charge to get the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum built and also had a hand in creating the CMA annual awards show and worked to get the show televised.

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Posted: 1 Sep 2017, 6:00 pm

When asked about signature dishes, Savor Executive Chef Adam Crisafulli at Long Beach (Calif.) Convention & Entertainment Center goes back to his Italian roots. “Heirloom tomatoes with fresh burrata,” he stated. “It’s that simple. It’s a colorful dish that’s a fan favorite.”
It may be simple, but the combination of fresh ingredients creates vibrant flavors reminiscent of summer. Large, bright heirloom tomatoes are the base for a generous helping of creamy burrata, seasoned with salt and pepper and topped with a little balsamic vinegar and agrumato oil (extra virgin olive oil pressed with lemon rinds). The chef adds pesto Genovese to the sides of the plate—and it’s done.
“Traditional Italian cooking isn’t really like today’s cooking,” he explained. “Younger chefs touch the plate like 10 times; they use tweezers to put a piece of lettuce over here, or move this and that. That’s fine, but I’m a little more old-school—where you let the ingredients speak for themselves.”
The chef gets his burrata cheese from Italy and the heirloom tomatoes from a local farm. “There are textures: squishy, firm, salty and sweet. There’s balance. I try to hit all the senses, so that’s why it’s a signature dish of mine,” he said. “It’s also Italian, but sticks with our farm-to-table, contemporary California cuisine, and it’s chef-inspired—which is kind of our mantra.”


Savor Executive Chef Adam Crisafulli is coming up on three years at the Long Beach Convention & Entertainment Center—and doesn’t see himself going anywhere soon.
“I have become more invested in this place,” he said. “I truly want to take it to the next level. I really enjoy the friendships that I’ve forged with the people here; I truly feel like part of the family.”
The California Culinary Academy-trained chef recently introduced a new menu to the convention center, just in time for the debut of two new special event spaces within the venue. Available now, the Cove, an outdoor space that closes down the street outside of the convention center, is ideal for hosting food trucks, table tennis or a faux beach movie theater complete with sand. The other new space, The Wave, will open soon and is a pedestrian bridge that will be lit with thousands of LED lights and can host receptions, concerts and parties.
“I tried to hit everything as far as cuisine,” Crisafulli said of the new menu. “I have a Mexican buffet, a Southwestern buffet, a classic breakfast, a Hawaiian buffet, an Italian buffet, deli items and a premiere lunch buffet with higher-end options. We have a section just for vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options. Plus some really sexy desserts—I just try to bring different things to the table.”
Crisafulli is mindful of staying within the realm of farm-to-table, contemporary California cuisine, but continues to push the boundaries. “We’re trying to change a lot, and I’m very happy with the progress,” he said. “The center is truly a great place to work.”

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Posted: 1 Sep 2017, 6:00 pm

Buying naming rights is a two-way street. The sponsor gets exposure; their name on the lips of potential users of their services, and community respect for proudly standing up for the venue that their favorite teams and shows call home. The seller gets money, a lot of it in many cases, of course. When it’s good, it’s great. But what happens when a naming rights deal goes bad because of bankruptcy or bad publicity? Venues Today spoke with top industry insiders for best practices for when your naming rights deal goes belly-up.
The Good: Air Canada Centre, Toronto, and Scotiabank just inked a historic $800 million deal for the naming rights to the venue that’s home to the Toronto Maple Leafs and Toronto Raptors. The record-breaking deal sent shockwaves through the industry and will undoubtedly shake-up the sports marketing landscape for the foreseeable future.
Reported terms of the deal will see the Canadian bank pay $40 million a year for the next 20 years to rename the building. The price tag is massive — more than 10 times what Air Canada paid for the rights nearly 20 years ago — and bigger than any naming rights deal the country has ever seen.
“The name change will become effective July 1, 2018,” said Wayne Zronik, SVP, music & live events, Air Canada Centre, Toronto. “The 20-year strategic partnership also includes new philanthropic opportunities with the MLSE Foundation and a digital collaboration between MLSE and the Scotiabank Digital Factory.”
“This is a game-changer,” said branding and marketing expert Dan Griffis, president, global partnerships, OVG. "I'm a big fan of this deal.”
Griffis put together the deals for Target Field and Target Center, both in Minneapolis, making him intimately acquainted with the buy-side of the equation.
“An entity like Scotiabank has the resources to really understand the value of this arrangement. Air Canada Centre is one of the premiere buildings in North America,” said Griffis. “The biggest piece to naming rights is civic pride and Scotiabank just purchased a whole lot of goodwill from the Canadian hockey community.”
Another perk in naming rights deals is the business-to-business aspect, said Griffis. “Hosting clients and being able to use the hospitality function of the venue can be priceless,” he said.
“What a great deal,” said Eric Smallwood, managing partner of sports marketing consultancy Apex Marketing Group. “The bank will get unlimited exposure by announcing the deal a year early; it’s almost like they will get a free year of it.”
The Bad: Sometimes, naming rights deals feel right; play-out to great effect and are supported by the fans, but unforeseen circumstances turn the deal sour. The Denver Broncos and Sports Authority was such a deal.
The sporting equipment company absorbed the naming deal for the field the Broncos played on from Invesco in 2011. The contract called for $60 million over a 20-year period. Signs were changed; the fans embraced the change, but joy through the land was interrupted when the company went out of business and filed for bankruptcy in 2015.
Matt Sugar is the director of stadium affairs for Metropolitan Football Stadium District, the owner of Sports Authority Field at Mile High, home of the Broncos.
“There were rumors about how Sports Authority was doing,” he said. “But there was no action we could take,” he said, about trying to get ahead of the bad news coming down the pike. “They paid a year in advance and their contract was still good.”
The Broncos ultimately bought the naming rights themselves and tried to quickly find a new sponsor, to no avail, said Sugar.
With no partner materializing after the first attempt (they’re currently making a second push), the team and stadium was left in a quandary: do they rip out the Sports Authority signs and rebrand as Broncos Stadium, at great expense, until a new partner emerges or sit tight?
“Signs for a football stadium can run anywhere from $1 million to $1.5 million,” said Smallwood. “Changing them to only change them again doesn’t make a whole lot of financial sense.”
The Broncos choose to keep the Sports Authority name. “It takes time for the fans to call a stadium by a new name,” said Smallwood. “The Broncos did the right thing by keeping the Sports Authority name until they finalize a new sponsor.”
Griffis agrees. “It’s not that Sports Authority did anything wrong,” he said. “Keeping the name until a new sponsor shows up is the prudent thing to do.”
The dot-com boom and bust 20 years ago provided another high-profile example of The Bad. Gillette Stadium, home of the New England Patriots, was due to be called  CMGI Field, after the tech company that paid $120 million for the naming rights for 15 years starting in 2000, a huge deal back then. But be careful about deals too good to be true — the internet firm backed out of the contract before the ink was dry.
The Ugly can be summed up in one word: Enron.
The Enron Corporation was an American energy, commodities and services company based in Houston. They acquired the naming rights to the venue the Houston Astros called home in 1999. The deal had a $100-million price tag and was supposed to stretch over 30 years.
Just two years later, the company was enveloped in one the biggest corporate-fraud scandals in American corporate history. Enron’s misdeeds rocked the business world, wrecked lives, put other businesses out of business and the name Enron conjured up images of corporations run amok and opened up the door to public mistrust of big business.
“Any company that has bad PR impacts the venue it sponsors,” said Smallwood. “Enron is the prime example. Once the depth of the deception was uncovered, Enron became a dirty word. Who would want that name on your venue?”
The Houston Astros didn’t, and the team reclaimed the naming rights for $2.1 million.
The best plan to ride out a naming rights storm is transparency, said Griffis, who experienced a PR tornado after Target got hacked and a huge data breach was uncovered. “You must let the customers — and fans who go to the venues — know you are working hard to fix the problem,” he said. “It takes consistency in messaging to regain public trust. Most importantly, actions speak louder than words.”
One of the smartest things a venue can do is get out in front of a bad situation by changing the name from Field to Park to Stadium, according to Smallwood. “One of the best moves they made in the Enron/Minute Maid switch was change it from ‘Enron Field’ to ‘Minute Maid Park,’” he said.  “It took the negativity of  ‘Field’ out of the equation and changed the vernacular even more so and quicker.”
“In Enron’s case, the company became synonymous with corporate greed and getting the name off there as quickly as possible was the wisest thing to do for the stability of the venue,” added Griffis. “If the PR is ugly and it’s a lost-cause, get that name off ASAP.”

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Posted: 1 Sep 2017, 5:25 pm

In Toronto, security does indeed take a village.
Wayne Zronik, SVP, music and live events, Air Canada Centre, Toronto, explained how a consortium of buildings in the downtown core has formed the SAFE Group, which is a cornerstone of security at the inner-city venue — and its neighbors' facilities.
“We’re right in city center and there’s a group of buildings that work together from a security perspective and share information along with the police,” said Zronik. “Our building is a fairly hard target inside; the challenge to our building is how do we continue hardening the building given the proximity to Union Station, the main train station, which we are literally attached to, and all the other buildings in downtown Toronto?”
The answer is the SAFE Group, which has in excess of 30 buildings and organizations including law enforcement as members. Air Canada Centre’s neighbors include a number of significant tourist attractions and entertainment venues including Ripleys Aquarium, The Metro Toronto Convention Centre, Rogers Centre and The CN Tower.
“The purpose of the SAFE Group is to collectively share information, network and test our corporate crisis response and management systems in conjunction with municipal response agencies,” said Zronik. “We want Torontonians and all those who visit Toronto to know we are proactively practicing collective methods of emergency preparedness against threats to our business community within the city," said Zronik.

SAFE’s mandate:
• To identify, prioritize, communicate and solve public safety, policing and
  community concerns and problems.
• To network and share information to achieve common public safety and order.
• To collectively train for business continuity plans to assure industry best practices
• To develop strategies to resolve identified problems and other long-term issues.
• To address the need for ongoing and collective training between the municipal
  and private sectors.
There are weekly meetings and a dedicated radio station that everybody is linked to.
“If anything is happening, we can communicate in real-time,” said Zronik.
The group is chaired by the Toronto Police Services and managed by the buildings.

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Posted: 1 Sep 2017, 5:20 pm

Canada celebrated its 150th birthday this year. Most of the venues on our Top Stops chart left the celebrations to established community events, but the rest of the year was filled with a lot of hockey, big-name concerts and local events that filled the facilities.
Some had a great year; others had an even year; none had a bad year.
The weak Canadian dollar was cited by almost every venue as the culprit for the less-than-stellar returns. Even so, the venues on our chart were up a combined 26 percent.
“It was a strong year,” said Dean Clarke, GM, South Okanagan Events Centre, Penticton, British Columbia; Penticton Trade & Events Centre; and regional VP for venue and hospitality/food services for Spectra, Western Canada. Clarke stressed that the two tenants, the ECHL Penticton Bees and the on-site Hockey Academy, made up most of the dates and revenue for the venue.
Clarke also said they had “good numbers, quality and quantity” of non-hockey events. “We’ve sold tickets and everybody’s had a good year. We’ve worked hard on our market.” 
“Our strength comes from getting shows on-sale for a long enough period of time,” explained Clarke. “We dial for dollars everyday and can sell a show and get close to sell-outs if we have the time.”
Clarke said the sweet spot for getting a show on-sale was longer than three months but not more than nine months, and that about 70 percent of the shows fall into that category.
Dipping into heavy metal was a good move for the center and bigger shows were Bryan Adams and Blue Rodeo. Ticket prices ranged from $12 for hockey to $200 for a hot concert ticket.
Food and beverage (F&B) is handled in-house by Spectra, which did “great this year,” said Clarke. The venue uses a lot of F&B specials to promote various events and also uses dynamic pricing and premier pricing strategies to increase sales and the bottom line.
Examples of drink specials were “Gin It to Me Baby,” a drink special at an Offspring concert; “Plinko Drinko” for a Price is Right Live show; “Somewhere on a Peach” for a Dierks Bentley concert; and “Dirty Laundry Lemonade” at the Don Henley concert.
Ticket and F&B packages offered at tenant hockey games included, “Take another PIZZA my heart” and “You Lucky Dog.” Another promotion saw special stickers left on hot dog boats — Willy Wonka style — for fans to win prizes throughout the season.
Another big hit this year was a new Craft Beer Lounge, which was set up as a ticketed pre-party before the show.
“Our mission is to attract conventions and events that create profound economic impact,” said Clarke about the convention center business. “For 2017, we’re projecting to welcome over 118,000 people through the building, sell over 10,800 tickets for special events and drive 79,900 room nights from our diverse event mix, which includes conventions, meetings, banquets, special events, trade shows and consumer shows.”
The largest conference hosted in 2017 at the Penticton Trade and Convention Centre so far was World Financial Group Eastern Conference last March.
Clarke said even with the winter blues that hit the venues after a long winter, the  buildings didn’t go over the preset and expected $1 million deficit.
Improvements are underway, which include $300,000 in HVAC replacements,  $200,000 worth of suite upgrades and $100,000 in IT modernizations. The work will be completed by the spring of 2018, just in time for the 10th anniversary of the complex.
Kevin Donnelly, with the newly renamed Bell MTS Place, formerly MTS Centre, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Senior VP, Venues & Entertainment, said the center was, “slightly down” this year. He attributes most of the revenue loss to the weak Canadian/American dollar exchange rate. “Our dollar went as high as CAD $1.40 (to US $1.00) and we pay out a lot of acts in USD. It’s quite a difference and really changed the financial landscape.”
Less rock traffic was another reason for the weak year, according to Donnelly. “We’re a strong rock market,” he explained. “Less rock equals less revenue.”
Bruno Mars, Ed Sheeran, Kanye West and Red Hot Chili Peppers were all good shows for Bell MTS Place this year. Ticket prices were $25-$200. “People respond to reasonable ticket prices,” said Donnelly. “We see promoters working with us to keep ticket prices down for the economy tickets. The upper prices for big acts have good traction; a good mix works best.”
F&B was strong. “We added a lot of premium offerings,” he said. “The spend continues to grow on our hockey products and the country acts per caps are really, really healthy.” Donnelly said adding craft beer and imported beer was a big bonus. “The beer market for the premium beers is getting bigger every day.”
Bell MTS Place is in the third year of a four-year renovation. This year $13 million was spent on a complete overhaul of the public spaces. “We’re getting a new front atrium; new ceilings; new flooring; new walls; new art; new televisions and new digital displays,” he said.
Security is a big concern in Canada, as it is everywhere since the Manchester (U.K.) bombing. “We’ve changed security procedures and now use our own bomb dog, Daisy, and some of her peers at every event,” said Donnelly. Daisy lives with one of the security employees when she’s not on duty.
“We’ll have a record year,” said Wayne Zronik, SVP, music & live events, Air Canada Centre (soon to be Scotiabank Arena), Toronto.  ”It was an amazing year. The traffic was very strong.” Zronik said they were up 10 percent and attributes the bump to “multiples, comedy and a tremendous music schedule.”
Highlights included Louis C.K., Amy Schumer, Jeff Dunham, “Game of Thrones,” Bon Jovi, Kendrick Lamarr, Bruno Mars, Lady Gaga and Coldplay. Tickets range from $40-$300 for VIP packages.
F&B was up 10 percent as well. “We added new Toronto-centric local flavors in the form of local food truck offerings like Fidel Gastro and local craft beers,” he said.
Improvements to the venue included upgrades to the suites and activations that tell the story of the building that create a narrative for the fans about our history of sports and music, said Zronik. “We thought they did that really well at Madison Square Garden (New York City) and thought we’d emulate it.” The budget was about $10 million.
Ryan Maclvor, Encana Events Centre, Dawson Creek, British Columbia, said, “It was a great year. We were a little down because of the CAD exchange rate. It made coming to Canada more expensive for the artists.”
Luke Bryan, Slayer, Megadeth, Carrie Underwood, Eric Church, Motley Crue, Def Leppard, Dwight Yokum and Florida Georgia Line all did well this year for the 5,500-capacity arena. Tickets ranged from $30-$120.
Creating in-house events like the Health and Wellness Expo, Octoberfest and other business-to-business events also drove revenues and kept the building busy.
The venue runs on a $1.4 million deficit, which the building has been beating. Revenue was in the $6-8 million range. “We brought $9 million to the community last year,” he said, “and that’s really our goal. This building was built for quality-of-life for our residents and to drive revenue to the rest of the community.”
F&B is provided by Spectra. “Our concession program was very strong this year,” said Maclvor. “We’ve been upselling dinner packages and pre-show parties like the “I Love the 90’s Totally Rad Party” and the “Laureate Lounge” for our Bob Dylan show. The events are not just to drive revenue; they are also to provide memorable fan experiences.”
Capital improvements include $500,000 to “define our event spaces” and for a new 10x20 highway digital marquee sign.
Maclvor also mentioned that the center sends one to two employees to the IAVM management school every year. “We think it’s really great training,” he said.
“We had a good year,” said Brian Ohl, GM, Budweiser Gardens, London, Ontario, for Spectra. “We had a great run-up to the hockey playoffs with our London Knights.”
A week in March when they hosted Chris Stapleton, Green Day and The Lumineers was a standout for Ohl. Ticket prices ranged from $30-$150.
F&B, run by Spectra, had a good year with drink specials leading the way. Ohl said that country artists like Eric Church and Dierks Bentley did especially well on the F&B side. The venue also added a local restaurant, Wich is Wich, that serves specialty sandwiches.
All of the lighting has been replaced by LED lighting, which cost around $400,000.
The facility also added 16 new metal detectors. “We had been working on this prior to Manchester,” he said. “After that event, it reinforced that we were doing the right thing.”
Andrew Nash, GM, Abbotsford Centre, British Columbia, said the venue had, “a record setting year” with 29 percent more events and about 15 percent more attendance. He credits the increased numbers to “the diversity of events.”
Blink 182, Slayer/Anthrax, “Mama Mia,” Blue Man Group, World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) and Harlem Globetrotters, who set the venue record in February, were the standouts. “Typically, we are a country/Christian/South Asian market, but we kicked it off in 2016 with the Five Finger Death Punch/Papa Roach/Sixx A.M. tour, which did really well. The surprise of the year was the ‘I Love the 90’s Tour’ with Salt N’ Pepa and Vanilla Ice, where we broke records for largest crowd and highest F&B per caps in the facility’s nine-year history.” Tickets ranged from $29-$99.
Nash said that “F&B did our best numbers ever this year” and credited the great returns to “the explosion of craft beers and new covered beer stands.” Their concessionaire is Spectra.

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Posted: 1 Sep 2017, 5:00 pm

Although Newark, N.J.’s Prudential Center developed a nice stature in the community in its first six years, it really has been in the last four years that this neighborhood gem has begun living up to its full potential.
This has been attributed to the facility’s new ownership group led by investors Josh Harris and David Blitzer, who purchased the arena in 2013 and also acquired the arena’s National Hockey League New Jersey Devils team.
“Six years in, people in this area looked at the arena as a castle on the hill, something shining and beautiful that they were proud of, but didn’t fully understand what happened inside of it,” said Hugh Weber, who took over as Prudential Center’s president in 2013. “We’ve made a concerted effort in the last four years to make sure we’re engaged and collaborate with the Newark community.”
It has helped that this time period was marked by the converging of the city’s business, political and cultural climates, which some predict will soon designate Newark as the Brooklyn of New Jersey.
The Prudential Center was established just after what Weber describes as a tumultuous time for Newark, which experienced years of civil unrest and a less than stellar reputation.
That seems to be behind it, with approximately $5 billion being invested in its downtown core. This will include Mulberry Commons, a new park breaking ground in the venue’s front yard at press time.
“It’s been awesome to see, specifically in the last four to five years, a new renaissance with a huge investment to reframe the neighborhood,” said Weber. “The downtown where we are will provide more of a built-in fan base.”
Its stature in the region is not surprising when taking into account the venue’s location, which is only about 1,000 yards from Newark Penn Station and less than 20 minutes from New York City.
And it’s interesting to note that this is a home-grown venue, as the majority of its 3,000 employees over the last 10 years call Newark home.
“We can look at it symbolically, with tickets and parking driving the economic impact of the arena, but it’s also indicative of the next chapter in Newark’s history and what the building has come to represent,” said Weber.

Like the city, there has been a substantial investment in the Prudential Center in terms of aesthetic technology and amenities in the last decade.
“We’ve put in tens of millions of dollars in the last four years to make sure this is a brand new building coming to life every day,” said Weber.
Among the new amenities rolled out for the Devils’ 2015-2016 season were improved food options, bars and club areas in addition to a new 3D pregame show and a bolstered marketing partnership with the arena’s namesake.
This included a six-person loge space that replaced the former Goal Bar, which sells for $120,000 annually for the six premium seats and comes with a ticket to every event at the building, with food included for Devils games.
The arena also replaced the walls separating its club areas from the concourse with glass for a more open feel. Updates also were made in the Fire and Ice Lounges, and two new main concourse bars open to the public were added.
The Devils and Prudential Center also invested $500,000 for in-game experience upgrades, which included a 3D pregame show and improvements to the arena’s sound and lighting system.
“We spend time and cash capital to make sure the facility continues to be updated, so when people walk in our doors, it’s like they’re coming here for the first time,” said Weber. “We also make sure the staff creates an at-home atmosphere that is warm and friendly. It’s like we’re Cheers and everyone here is Norm.”

The Newark location also offers benefits in terms of programming due to a broad demographic.
“What we can count on here is clientele diversity,” said Sean Saadeh, Prudential Center’s executive vice president of programming. “When we look at the content, it's what hits that diversity.”
Saadeh’s goal when he came on board almost three years ago was to identify strong partners for additional and better content to secure a core business.
“The other aspect we looked at was differentiating ourselves in this market, which has multiple venues,” he said. “I felt strongly that we needed to own our region, not only with programming partners, but also spending more time marketing and nurturing partners in northern New Jersey.”
CEO Scott O’Neil’s thoughts were to expand the sports offering beyond the Devils and Prudential Center’s other home team, Seton Hall University’s National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA) Division I men’s basketball program.
This led to the premiere of the Never Forget Tribute Classic college basketball double header, a sold out event last December featuring games between Villanova and Notre Dame and Penn State against Pitt.
The newest development is the opening of the GRAMMY Museum Experience within the arena this fall. The 8,000-square-foot experience marks the first GRAMMY Museum outpost on the East Coast and features a combination of educational programming and interactive permanent and traveling exhibits, including a spotlight on legendary GRAMMY winners from New Jersey.
“These amazing, curated displays include costumes artists have worn at the GRAMMYs or during iconic performances,” said Saadeh. “The museum will be located in the front of the building and, for us, is a great connection to our community.”
The fact that this building used to be ranked 20th in the nation in terms of the number of shows, and now is in the top 10, is a tribute to the team and how it works with the venue’s content partners to engage fans to visit the arena.
“We used to not have an identity, other than being the place where the Devils played,” said Weber. “We’ve made great strides in the last four years to build a brand by hosting amazing shows and experiences as well as becoming a go-to place for families.”
The new ownership also has given Prudential Center the ability to be creative and take more chances than it was able to four to five years ago.
“As a result, we’ve been able to increase our content 77 percent,” said Saadeh.
This is expected to continue and grow with the recent booking and marketing partnership solidified this past June with The Madison Square Garden Co.
Yet, the last decade has been impressive nonetheless, marked by the 50th anniversary of The Rolling Stones concert, nine Taylor Swift performances, 10 Bon Jovi dates, UFC events, the 2014 Super Bowl Media Day, the 2012 NBA Draft, the 2011 East Regional NCAA men’s basketball tournament and USA Gymnastics televised on NBC.
“We’re also heading up to our 10th year hosting McDonald’s Gospel Fest and have become the East Coast home to K-Pop (a large Korean culture festival),” said Saadeh.
Its anniversary month of October is marked with one of its biggest lineups to date, with performances by Barry Manilow, Katy Perry, Guns & Roses, Enrique Iglesias with Pit Bull, Halsey and Imagine Dragons, in addition to the GRAMMY Museum opening.

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Posted: 1 Sep 2017, 5:00 pm

More arena owners may choose to finance new construction with 100 percent private funding if their arenas are part of larger mixed-use development projects, said Brandon Dowling, director of sports and entertainment at Johnson Consulting.
“Shifting from a standalone venue to utilizing the sports venue as a catalyst for adjacent mixed-use developments will allow team owners to capture additional revenue streams and value beyond the venue itself,” said Dowling, who specializes in market and financial analysis for convention, hospitality, sporting arenas and mixed use developments. “Being able to capture more revenue perhaps could shift the overall funding strategy of the venue itself.”
Dowling said the rise of mixed-use developments with arenas as centerpieces also could lead some arena owners weighing whether to renovate or start anew to choose the latter and work to situate their new facility in the type of entertainment district that will be home for Little Caesars Arena, Detroit and the Wisconsin Entertainment and Sports Center, Milwaukee. For those who opt to renovate, however, he said the need for public-private partnerships remains apparent. For these types of efforts, he said, the net operating dollars of the arena are not sufficient to cover the cost of the capital — “thus the public dollars are needed to close the gap.”
“Much of that is looking at were there proper capital reserve placements at the beginning of that development?” Dowling said. “Were there small investments along the way or were there not? Some of the larger renovations that you see are probably ones that were struggling to update the amenities year after year. Now, all of a sudden, they’re 15 years down the road, and to really be a competitive venue again and attract the events they want to attract, they’re going to have to make that significant investment.”
At the Honda Center, Anaheim, the emphasis on steady, targeted renovation has allowed the arena to avoid that type of comprehensive renovation project while still maintaining a contemporary, fresh atmosphere. Tim Ryan, president of the Honda Center, said he takes his inspiration from down the road at Disneyland, which he called the gold standard for maintaining existing facilities while perpetually upgrading the property.
Ryan said keys to making the ongoing renovation approach work for the Honda Center has been the support of ownership and careful timing of when to take on major projects without causing disarray to operations. Projects have included such work as adding a new indoor/outdoor terrace that seats more than 1,000, expanding the Anaheim Ducks team store to three times its previous size, adding a new restaurant and installing a new scoreboard, new sound system and 500 HD monitors. Currently, Ryan said the facility is adding 10,000 square feet to a new plaza entry for the arena.
Ryan said the Honda Center has maintained “a constant upgrade mentality, both inside and outside the facility.” The facility operates with a rotating 10-year capital expenditure plan.
“We could have waited and poured hundreds of millions of dollars into an overall renovation,” Ryan said. “We chose to keep the facility looking like new while adding a number of amenities along the way.”
Ryan takes pride in the number of visitors who express surprise that the arena dates to 1993.
“The day that someone comes in here and says this building looks older than 10 years, then I’ll think we haven’t done our job,” Ryan said.

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Posted: 1 Sep 2017, 5:00 pm

When Kelly Deines, creative director at Rossetti, considers the potential ramifications of designing arenas that are unprepared for the future, he summons images first of shuttered Kmarts and then of the now-abandoned sports venues constructed for the 1984 Winter Olympics in Sarajevo. He speaks of massive, forgotten structures overgrown with trees and greenery, “succumbed to nature.”
“The possibility is always there that fans are going to say, ‘This isn’t fun anymore,’ and just stop coming,” Deines said. “If arenas don’t evolve, they’re destined to fade away.”
As emerging technology and changing fan preferences create rapid transformation in the way that fans engage with live sporting and entertainment events, architects and others in arena design are confronting the impossibility of creating venues that can precisely anticipate the future. For that reason, the word on the tips of their tongues is “flexibility.” Ryan Gedney, vice president and senior project designer for HOK Sports + Recreation + Entertainment, said employing design that provides clients with long-lasting arenas is his most urgent task — one that requires “taking the idea of flexibility to a whole new level.”
“Our charge as architects, particularly of large venues, is designing for several years down the road,” Gedney said. “Or, at the very least, creating a smart infrastructure for an arena to be able to evolve over time in a smart way. Terms like flexibility and scalability have become very important in design, so that we’re never designing just for today.”
Flexibility — in design, in infrastructure, in technology, in fan viewing choices — arose again and again in recent conversations with architects and others in the field as they pondered the future of the arena.

Arena architects and other experts said fans are on the move. No longer do they want to be tethered to their seats or even to private suites — they want options beyond the traditional viewing experience.
“One of the biggest waves we’re seeing in the arena market right now is the growth of different spaces within the seating bowl to give spectators a variety of ways to experience an event,” said Brad Clark, senior principal at Populous. “When you buy a ticket, you’re not just looking at upper versus lower bowl options. Now you have a wide variety of clubs and social spaces available to choose from.”
Marc Farha, an executive vice president with ICON Venue Group, said the earliest examples of these spaces appeared in baseball.
“Now we’re seeing it coming into more venues like arenas,” Farha said. “The challenge is balancing that. We want fans in the seats engaged, providing that home floor advantage, but, at the same time, if their desire is to be standing around with other fans and keeping one eye on the event, then we need to accommodate that.”
Clark pointed to T-Mobile Arena, a multi-use indoor arena that opened in 2016 on the Las Vegas Strip, as an example of the emphasis on offering new ways to experience an event. The arena features two tower clubs located at the corners of one side of the seating bowl on the upper level, extending out to offer an aerial perspective.
“At the heart of this feature is the notion that arenas need to provide a variety of spaces inside their arena, while still allowing spectators to have a view of the event floor,” Clark said.
Ongoing projects show similar efforts. Farha said the under-construction Wisconsin Entertainment and Sports Center in Milwaukee will have a club space open to all attendees located above the upper concourse. The club will feature an outdoor balcony and a view of the court just below catwalk level. In a similar vein but at a different eye level, the ongoing renovation of Philips Arena, the home of the Atlanta Hawks, features the National Basketball Association’s (NBA) first courtside bar.

Perhaps no area better reflects the challenges of meeting changing fan expectations than technology.
Tim Ryan, president of Honda Center, Anaheim, said he can remember when the Honda Center first began to offer Wi-Fi and it was considered a luxury. Now, he said, “you don’t go to an arena anymore and get excited about Wi-Fi. It’s a necessity. There’s an expectation that there won’t just be Wi-Fi — there will be robust Wi-Fi.”
Jim Renne, sports principal at Rosetti, said, “I think we’re all still trying to understand how do technology and the fan experience merge.” Exactly how technology-based engagement will be shaped is difficult to pinpoint, but experts point to social media and augmented reality as promising tools.
“What we’re looking for is inviting fans into a relationship where they feel like they can be a part of a bigger thing, a bigger happening, a bigger event, a bigger cause, and that they can be real participants in it,” Renne said. “And you have to be able to make this connection in a very authentic way. If you do, that can really strengthen the relationship with fans.”
Deines said the sports venue has been slow to embrace technology as a tool for engagement when compared to industries such as hospitality and retail.
“I would argue that it’s old school to think that we need to pay so much attention to the event, and I think it’s potentially new school to say it’s OK to distract the event and disrupt it so that the fans don’t have to just sit there and be super diligent fans,” Deines said.
Renne said the incorporation of technology and social media into the fan experience aligns philosophically with the move toward common spaces where fans can gather and watch events in social settings.
“It’s about everybody wanting to be together with everybody else,” Renne said.
Brandon Dowling, director of sports and entertainment at Johnson Consulting, wonders if venues will be able to capitalize financially on technology-based fan engagement.
“Will there be a time when technology or technological advancements will allow for an influx of nontraditional revenue streams that can be captured that aren’t being captured today and can help offset the capital cost of funding these types of venues?” Dowling said. “That’s yet to be seen.”

Gedney said increasingly those who design, own and operate arenas are seeing the role the venue plays in the larger community to be a critical component of its long-term success.
“Most of our large venues are trying to position themselves as a catalyst for a broader development or resurgence in their downtown or urban core,” Gedney said.
Clark said this approach offers a way to ensure an arena develops an importance that extends beyond the home teams that occupy it.
“The shared connection of these mixed-use districts between city and arena increases the value of the arena as a community asset,” Clark said.
Facilities set in ambitious “live/work/play” redevelopment projects are generating local excitement. For instance, Gedney cites Detroit’s Little Caesars Arena, the new home of the National Hockey League’s Detroit Red Wings and the National Basketball Association’s Detroit Pistons and the centerpiece of District Detroit, a planned 50-block area of businesses, parks, restaurants, bars and other destinations. Similarly, Farha said the Wisconsin Entertainment and Sports Center will anchor a developing district of nearly 30 acres in downtown Milwaukee that, in addition to food and beverage and entertainment, providers will feature apartments, a training center for the Bucks, office buildings and even a community health clinic.
“It’s filling an important void for this part of downtown Milwaukee,” Farha said. “You can see how transformational it’s going to be.”
Even the renovation of Philips Arena in Atlanta, home of the Hawks, is a sign of the trend, Gedney said.
“That location factor was a big part of why they didn’t want to build a new arena,” Gedney said. “They saw their location as central to an emerging district in the city that they wanted to be part of.”
Experts said arenas will need to be designed and programmed in a way that makes it a vibrant part of the community on a daily basis, whether a major event is on the schedule or not. Therefore, venues are creating spaces that are open to the public when a game or concert or event isn’t attracting a crowd. For instance, the concourse at Little Caesars Arena will remain open year-round. In addition, Clark said he would like to see more arena designs that approach “flexibility and future-proofing through modular design, giving venues the capability to truly transform and adapt over time. Being able to downsize a venue not just by seat count, but by overall volume while also tailoring the seating configuration and sightlines to a variety of events is essential.”
Dowling said that kind of a flexible approach within an urban mixed-use entertainment district development could be a key to an arena’s long-term sustainability, helping it thrive even when the host team struggles through a tough stretch of years on the court or the ice.
“It has the potential to have a tremendous impact on the community by serving as a year-round venue for residents and visitors to gather and be entertained, not just for a sporting event or a large concert but for smaller shows and events,” Dowling said. “It’s going to be exciting to see how that plays out.”

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Posted: 1 Sep 2017, 5:00 pm

Every venue manager can recall that special day of the year when it all went right — and the day it all went wrong. Venues Today asked our Canadian venue operators to describe their best day this year, and their worst.

Dean Clarke
GM, South Okanagan Events Centre, Penticton, British Columbia; Penticton Trade & Events Centre; and regional VP for venue and hospitality/food services for Spectra, Western Canada:
BEST: "When the Penticton Bees went to the final game of the championship season. When we see the tenant win the championship, especially at home, it’s great.
The other great day here was the Invictus-promoted, two sold-out Zac Brown Band and Alaska shows. The staff and building really performed.”
WORST: “We had a severe winter with lots of snow, and when I looked at the financials in June, we were running behind. It almost overshadowed the rest of our great year."

Kevin Donnelly
SVP, venues and entertainment, Bell MTS Place, Winnipeg, Manitoba:
BEST & WORST: "We double booked the arena with a Bob Dylan concert and an Offspring concert. I ended up having to rent the convention center across the street for the Offspring while Live Nation rented the arena for the Bob Dylan concert. I was the dumbest guy for overbooking the arena and the smartest guy for selling-out the convention center."

Wayne Zronik
SVP, music & live events, Air Canada Centre, Toronto:
BEST: "When our Toronto Maple Leafs got eliminated in the play-offs. Yes, it’s kind of weird for that to be the ‘best day’ but the resurgent team had the fans standing and cheering.”
WORST: “When we had issues with our ticketing system for our first Adele shows. Paperless-entry was not working well and we had to delay the shows. We got everybody in, but it was pretty dicey for a while there."

Ryan MacIvor
Encana Events Centre, Dawson Creek, British Columbia:
BEST: "The Jeff Dunham concert was awesome; big laughs; the fans ate it up.”
WORST: “Jeff Dunham’s tour bus sank into the parking lot. Luckily, Jeff and his people took it in good humor."

Brian Ohl
GM, Budweiser Gardens, London, Ontario: 
BEST: “We were Chris Stapleton’s first headlining show in Canada. It was a great vibe and a wonderful day.”
WORST: “The London Knights getting knocked out of the playoffs.”

Andrew Nash
GM, Abbotsford Centre, British Columbia:
BEST: "Blink 182 played and we had a sell-out crowd. The show is production-heavy and features a lot of pyrotechnics. We set all the fire alarms and monitors to accommodate the event, but the smoke was so heavy that alarms in our electrical room got triggered mid-show. The arena lights came on; the band stopped; but we kept everyone calm and the show went on.”
WORST: “We had 4,000-plus tickets sold for our WWE show and that was when we had record snowfall. The roads were blocked; we had everyone shoveling snow in the parking lot and we didn’t know if anyone would be able to get here for the show. The roads eventually got cleared; the show went on; but it was touch and go for hours.”

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Posted: 1 Sep 2017, 5:00 pm

Prudential Center’s foodservice program, run by Legends Hospitality, features a continuously evolving menu with the introduction of a wide variety of food types and higher quality foods than is typical at arenas.
Chef Jason Choate is the venue’s dedicated executive chef. Trained at the Seattle Culinary Academy, but born and bred in Jersey and a current Newark resident, he personally crafts each menu item offered at the Rock.
This features the One Jersey initiative, which focuses on regional items wellknown in the area, including On the Boardwalk and Ironbound concession stands. Local purveyors featured include GreenTree Meats, Calandra’s Bakery and Glaze Donuts. The arena also offers one of the largest selections of craft beers in the state, with more than 60 brews on tap.
Popular menu items include chicken fingers and burgers. However, the arena puts its own twist on staple items with different infused burgers at Jersey Grind, where guests can choose their own toppings, or Chicken Coop, where fans can create their own sauce.
  For Devils Games, Prudential Center’s East and West Lounges provide complimentary seasonal food items and beverages to club seat guests. These lounges were recently remodeled in 2015.
  For all events at Prudential Center, the Platinum Lounge offers complimentary food and beverages. This, too, was remodeled in 2015 to give fans a luxury experience.

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Posted: 1 Sep 2017, 4:00 pm

Barclays Center has not only become a Brooklyn, N.Y., fixture since it opened in September 2012, but it is notable in the industry for a number of firsts.
It is the first venue to have instituted an advisory board of top industry executives to tap into today’s top talent as well as the only arena to hire a chief customer experience officer. Barclays Center also is benefiting from the creative leveraging of its developer and operator Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment’s (BSE) other properties, including the recently reopened NYCB LIVE, home of the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, Uniondale, N.Y., and LIU Brooklyn Paramount Theatre.
“Barclays Center has served as a catalyst for continued growth in downtown Brooklyn,” said Brett Yormark, CEO of BSE. “There are 90 different languages spoken in this borough, great new restaurants, the housing market is incredible, and the epicenter is Barclays Center. It has been an exciting five years.”
Marking the occasion is Barclays Center’s inaugural gala, Shining a Light on Brooklyn, Oct. 12. Held at the historic Liberty Warehouse on Red Hook’s Pier 41, proceeds will benefit the venue’s foundation, Barclays Center Cares, which supports community programs by working with more than 300 schools, food pantries, homeless shelters, health facilities and nonprofit organizations.  
In addition to a performance by electro-funk duo Chromeo, the event will honor those who have made an impact in the community through music, athletics, culinary arts and sustainability, including Scooter Braun, founder of SB Projects; Brooklyn Nets player Rondae Hollis-Jefferson; New York Islanders player Anders Lee; Brooklyn boxing ambassador and former WBA middleweight champion Daniel Jacobs; WBC international bantamweight champion and undefeated boxer Heather Hardy; Bruce Silverglade, owner of Gleason’s Gym in Brooklyn; Levy Restaurants; Alan Rosen, owner and operator of Junior’s restaurants; and Brooklyn Botanic Garden president Scot Medbury.
There is a lot to celebrate. This fall, Barclays Center will be welcoming its 10 millionth guest and will hold its 1,000th event in October based on current pacing.

With NYCB LIVE, home of the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, reopening on April 5 of this year after undergoing an extensive renovation, Manhattan’s Webster Hall’s renovations and the remodel of Brooklyn’s Paramount Theater in December, there will be an extensive feeder system for Barclays Center in the years to come. 
“This venue pipeline enables us to connect with artists early in their career and ultimately play Barclays Center at their peak,” said Yormark.
The arena’s Artist Gifting Program, run by a gifting specialist, also helps set the venue apart.
“We provide unique gifts for every artist that comes through our doors,” said Keith Sheldon, executive vice president of programming at BSE.
This has included obtaining the rocking chair Barbra Streisand’s mother rocked her in as a child in Brooklyn.
“We didn’t know how we’d top that, but our gift specialist had a dog house created that was a miniature replica of the brownstone Barbra Streisand grew up in,” said Sheldon. “We also gave Blake Shelton a drivable cooler on wheels filled with his favorite beer, spirits and snacks; he was one happy man!”
The arena also has sought to set itself apart in the area of customer service by aligning with The Disney Institute.
“Our employees are Disney trained, which helps us with onboarding and reinforcement training,” said Yormark. “We also were the first building to have a chief customer experience officer, who provides oversight to the entire customer experience, from when they buy a ticket to after the event and everything in between.”
Enhancing its premium experiences is Barclays Center’s clubs and destination areas, including the Calvin Klein Courtside Club, Billboard Lounge and 40/40 Club & Restaurant By Tanduay Rum.

One of the key takeaways in the last five years has been Barclays Center’s ability to reinvent itself over a short period of time to focus on the volume and type of content it presents.
This has been no easy feat, given the venue is home to the National Basketball Association’s Brooklyn Nets and National Hockey Leagues’s New York Islanders.
“We’ve put more of a focus on our premium event business to showcase those that are higher profile,” said Sheldon. “It’s a more aggressive, outbound approach.”
Rather than waiting for the phone to ring, it’s more about being forward thinking and creating relationships with content providers. This has resulted in the opening of a Los Angeles office three years ago that was recently expanded in 2017.
“This is a true office with someone mining business and sales executives looking for partnership opportunities,” said Sheldon. “It not only creates good resources for all of us, but also gives us a presence on the West Coast where we can conduct relationship marketing.”
Barclays Center staff also is spending more time in other markets like Nashville, Chicago, Canada and a big emerging market, London, the latter of which Sheldon said has become essential in the last five years.
Its bookings track record thus far has been impressive by any standards. The venue has made a name for itself in the boxing world, hosting 23 nights and more than 150 bouts, along with 35 world title fights. One of the most recent, Keith Thurman versus Danny Garcia last March drew 13,533 fans.
“I’ve recently read a statistic that hip hop and R&B are the most listened to platforms given data and market research,” said Sheldon. “Being in Brooklyn and a building Jay-Z has influenced as a former stakeholder and our opening night performer, we’ve capitalized on that to become the home of hip hop.”
Another lane popular in Brooklyn is the alternative rock space, which Barclays Center has focused much of its programming around, as well.
Still, many of its most notable performers are the mega stars, such as The Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen, Elton John, Paul McCartney, Justin Beiber, Luke Bryan, Bob Dylan, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Madonna and Bruno Mars.
“We’re the epicenter of Millennial culture and a hub for most of these folks, so there are few artists that haven’t played here,” said Sheldon.
  A number of major events and awards shows, including three Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremonies, the MTV Music Awards and National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA) tournaments have been held at the venue.
“We also host a total of 40 college basketball games a year,” said Sheldon. “These are essential to what we do.”
Family shows add further diversity to its calendar, with Disney on Ice, Cirque du Soleil and the Harlem Globetrotters all popular events.
With two Paul McCartney shows, two Roger Waters performances, an eSport event and three Ed Sheeran concerts scheduled for this fall, the venue shows no signs of slowing down in the second half of its first decade.
“Barclays Center will continue to be BSE’s mother ship,” said Sheldon. “It gives us cross marketing and cross booking opportunities and a feeder system for great content. We’re fortunate that our partners and staff are dedicated to growth, and we’re just starting to see the fruits of our labor.”

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Posted: 1 Sep 2017, 4:00 pm

At more than 400,000 subscription sales for the 2017-18 season, Lauren Reid, CEO, Broadway Across America, couldn’t be more thrilled. In Portland, Ore., where it was announced in January that three weeks of “Hamilton” headlines the Broadway in Portland season, season tickets are sold out. The show plays Keller Auditorium March 20-April 8.
The true gauge of the impact of “Hamilton” on the performing arts will come with post-Hamilton season renewals, but Reid is confident that not only will there be more continued interest than imagined, and that it will be a new audience.
The typical demographic for Broadway has been women aged 35-54. The fans of “Hamilton” skew younger, multigenerational and all genders. She had not yet delved into the actual demographics for “Hamilton,” but noted shows like “Glee” and “Hairspray” and “Aladdin” also bring out the younger demo.
Ticketmaster’s Marla Ostroff agreed the difference with “Hamilton” ticket sales is that it has expanded the theater audience to a much larger group. “Hamilton” is for every age group and every ethnicity and has opened up theater to people who never went to theater.” And Ostroff believes, as do the producers she works with, that once you’ve experienced a live theater show you’ll want to try it again.
“It’s an incredible show and, at the same time, showing that musical theater and history combined are a phenomenal blend,” Ostroff said.
Robyn Williams, executive director of Portland’5 Centers for the Performing Arts and a Tony voter who sees them all, said all the theaters lucky enough to have announced Hamilton to date “are all totally giddy we have “Hamilton” on our season in its first year to tour.”
In her 17 years in Portland, she’d never known subscriptions to Broadway in Portland to sell out. And the glow will keep coming, because single tickets haven’t gone on sale yet. While Portland has three weeks of “Hamilton,” it can only sell one-week’s worth of subscriptions because other shows on the season are just one week. There will be ample opportunity to stretch the market for Broadway.
“Everyone knows this is the “Hamilton” year, and next year, when there is no “Hamilton,” a lot of these people may drop off because they only subscribed because they thought it was the only way to get tickets,” she predicted. “Everyone is realistic about that. This is the golden glow and next year it will go back to the way it always was.”
Not everyone agrees, however.

Broadway Across America brings Broadway to 44 cities across North America. “You can imagine we will be bringing “Hamilton” for multiple weeks in all of those cities, but all the tours and timing is a work in progress, many not even announced yet,” Reid said. So far, 13 are official and in every city, only subscriptions have been sold, not single tickets.
Since the 2008/2009 season, Broadway Across America has seen growth in ticket sales every season, a minimum of five percent a year, Reid said. This year, growth will be in the double digits.
Reid likes to point out that Broadway Across America now has more season ticketholders than the National Basketball Association, which announced a season ticket base in the 300,000-range in the 2015-16 season.
This year’s count is the largest subscription base in the 25-year history of Broadway Across America. “This is the Golden Age for Broadway theater again and “Hamilton” is certainly extraordinary, something very, very special,” she said, emphasizing that the list of Broadway hits in general these past few years and going forward is unprecedented and bringing in young and old, many of them first timers.
“We’re selling a package that has delivered to audiences. Some will be surprised how much they like other shows. This is one of those wonderful time periods,” Reid said. The last Golden Age of Broadway was sparked by interest in “Phantom of the Opera”, which hit Broadway in 1988.
“It’s early, but I think we will see a prolonged kind of lift, again because of these other shows as well as “Hamilton”,” Reid said.

“I also think we’re better in the Broadway industry about providing first class services to our patrons and making them feel special and offering exchange privileges and mobile upgrades, the things that sports teams are doing,” Reid said. “You can go online and upgrade your seats. We have the technology we didn’t have before.”
Broadway Across America works with six different ticketing companies, depending on the venue affiliation. One of those is Ticketmaster, which has been terrific in providing these benefits, she said.
“I’ve been doing this for 25-plus years, and I don’t remember such an exciting time when we’re facing the challenges like, in Portland, where we sold out our season tickets,” Reid said. “How do we make sure all these new subscribers know all of their benefits; how do we greet everybody; how do we provide them the best experience? Those are great conversations to have.”
Adventureland, the  producers of “Hamilton,” have gone so far as to create a “Hamilton” app to keep new theatergoers (and old) engaged. “They speak to their actual fans,” Ostroff said.
“It will be more interesting in a year or two years from now, to see how “Hamilton” has helped overall subscriptions,” Ostroff admitted, but likened it to food and drink. One great restaurant benefits all the restaurants around it.
As to those who tried and failed to score tickets to “Hamilton,” Ostroff said that’s a function of supply and demand. There was a huge built-up demand in Los Angeles, for instance, but that’s no different than with hot concerts or winning sports teams; there is limited inventory. “All the great shows come back,” she added.
Williams’ big worry is the scalpers. Single tickets have not yet gone on sale, yet the secondary market is selling tickets not yet there. “It drives me crazy. I worry about these people,” she said. The theater and opera company have notices on the web site that tickets are not yet available, but she knows a lot of those buyers don’t even see the website.
“When “Hamilton” leaves town you still want people to love you,” Williams said. “It’s a fabulous show. I was worried before I went to see it that it was all hype, but it really is that good.”
Yet, it seems not a week goes by that a new story about exorbitant secondary ticket prices, angry patrons or another arrest involving misrepresentations about “Hamilton” tickets hits the wires.
“I have not seen the sustained frenzy surrounding ‘Hamilton’ in all my years in this business,” said Gary Adler, executive director, National Association of Ticket Brokers (NATB). “The emotions surrounding tickets and visceral reactions are like people on steroids.”
“I’m always asked, ‘How come there are so many tickets on the secondary market?’ and the answer is, if you were to try to buy “Hamilton” tickets, you would have an opportunity to buy tickets 18 months in advance. The ticket prices are very, very high, around $800 a ticket for premium seats, even the cheaper seats are $300 or more,” Adler said.
He believes the important point to keep in mind in regard to brokers scooping up the tickets is that “it is a risk. Most people can’t spend $3,500 for four tickets, committing to see a show 18 months in advance. Brokers are taking the risk.”
And it’s not a sure-bet for brokers, according to Adler, who said that at some point brokers will have to sell “Hamilton” tickets below what they paid. “To conclude that this fury will go forever is unrealistic.”
There have been several curt cases surrounding “Hamilton” tickets. On May 31, Jason Nissen, CEO and president of the premium ticket resale business National Event Company was charged with engaging in a multimillion Ponzi scheme surrounding large purchases of “Hamilton” tickets for his investors. Instead, he spent the money on himself. Earlier this year, Joseph Meli and Matthew Harriton raised more than $81 million from at least 125 investors in 13 states by misleading them to think their money would be pooled to buy large blocks of, you guessed it, “Hamilton” tickets that could be resold for a profit.
Joon H. Kim, the acting United States attorney for the Southern District of New York said, ‘“Hamilton” has brought out the worst in people, especially secondary ticket brokers, who are looking to hit the jackpot. “There’s someone in the middle, taking absolutely no risk and getting a huge profit,” he said. “There are a lot of angry people out there who want to see that show but can’t get a ticket at a price they can afford.”
Williams is worried about scalpers buying up the tickets for resale on several fronts.
“First there will be non theater-goers caught up in the “Hamilton” phenomenon who see a “Hamilton” ticket going for $1,000 and think, ‘I can’t afford to go to Broadway shows’ and then never look for another ticket — to any show — ever again. Other people buy tickets for $1,000 and see that face value is $35 and, for some reason, blame the theater. Then there are people who buy completely fake tickets and show up at the theater and get turned away. It’s bad publicity,” bemoaned Williams.
The speculators are already out there, she said. “We’ve already got scalpers offering tickets for “Hamilton” and there are not even tickets issued yet,” she said. “We will comb through their sales and look for anything suspicious like a single credit card buying multiple tickets and we’ll withdraw the tickets and refund their money. As for people who get duped, there’s not much we can do. Normally we’d have a heart and try to seat them, but if there are no seats the purchaser is out-of-luck.”
“Hamilton” will be coming to Dr. Phillips Center in January 2018; it’s playing in their 2,700-capacity Walt Disney Theater. Their 14,600 subscribers — many of whom signed up just this year — will get first option.
Kathy Ramsberger, president and CEO, Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts,  anticipates the “Hamilton” tickets to go swiftly. “I think it will go quickly,” she said. “We have 68 million visitors every year and three million that live in the region.” According to Ramsberger’s calculation, approximately 64,800 of them will get to see the show.

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Posted: 1 Sep 2017, 4:00 pm

blakeshelton.jpgWhat helps set Barclays Center apart is the Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment (BSE) Advisory Board, which was formed in December 2014.
The board is composed of about 40 members who help fuel the programming strategy and direction of BSE
venues, including Barclays Center and NYCB LIVE, home of the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.
“This organization features the top
40 industry executives in music, film,
television, media, sports, entertainment and fashion; these are essentially
evangelists for Barclays Center and what we’re doing,” said Keith Sheldon, BSE’s executive vice president of programming. “We can tap into them for their relationships and come up with unique content ideas. So far, the board has generated an exponential amount of opportunity for us that has resulted in great events.”
And it appears BSE is just getting started.
“We plan to expand our brand by creating an advisory board in London this fall,” said Brett Yormark, CEO of Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment.

A few of the significant accomplishments include:
Charlie Walk, president of Republic Group and co-founder of the board, was a main driver in the creation of The Artist Quarters, the Nassau Coliseum’s residential-style dressing room suites that are customized for the performers.
Bob McLynn, co-founder of Crush Management, has brought Barclays Center the artists Fall Out Boy and Lorde.
Jason Schrift, co-executive producer of Jimmy Kimmel Live, did collaboration between the Kimmel Show and Roc Nation’s TIDAL X.
Scott Borchetta, president & CEO of Big Machine Label Group, has helped BSE attract country shows to its venue.
Rich Lehrfield, senior vice president of Global Brand Marketing and Communications for American Express, is supportive of shows with presales and uses Barclays Center to test cutting edge AMEX technology.
Niels Schuurmans, executive vice president of Viacom Music and Entertainment, collaborated with the Brooklyn Nets on a Nickelodeon-themed game.
Chris Oliviero, executive vice president of programming for CBS Radio, was influential in the execution of the New York Islanders radio broadcast deal and has programmed Barclays Center with special CBS Radio concerts.
Sean McManus, Chairman of CBS Sports, brought the CBS Sports Classic, a major college basketball tournament.
John Amato, president of Billboard, is the co-creator of Billboard Lounge at Barclays Center.
Stephen Espinoza, executive vice president and general manager at Showtime Sports, has been influential with Barclays Center’s boxing program and Showtime broadcasts most BROOKLYN BOXING fight nights.
Scooter Braun, founder of SB Projects, brought Justin Bieber and Ariana Grande to Barclays Center.
Joel Peresman, CEO & president of Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation, has brought Barclays Center three induction ceremonies.

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Posted: 1 Sep 2017, 4:00 pm

Marco Fabozzi, regional director of operations for Levy Restaurants, Barclays Center’s foodservice provider, admitted that this arena’s food story is a bit unusual.
First off, it was developed seven years ago, two full years before the venue opened.
“We wanted to tell a different story from a food and beverage standpoint,” said Fabozzi. “The goal was to involve the local community and regional restaurants.”
The first order of business was to hold food tastings with fans and potential guests to narrow down the options. This resulted in more than 55 Brooklyn Taste vendor partners.
Fast forward to 2012, and every Barclays Center concession stand features either a restaurant partner or supplier.
“Our program was unique at the time and set a benchmark,” said Fabozzi. “It’s about getting involved and giving back to the community with our food story.”
One of its biggest and most recent accomplishments has been to reinvent the venue’s premium restaurant 40/40 Club. Barclays Center has partnered with Major Food Group to open the 200-seat Parm, the only full-service, sit-down eatery in the arena, this fall.
Its 26 concession stands also continue to be revamped with new food concepts, including a taqueria with three types of mini tacos, Nathan’s Hamburgers added to its hot dog stand, innovative Paisano’s Burgers and Table 87 Pizza’s full-size pies replacing the pizza slices.
“Aside from our two kosher stands, we don’t sub our food out,” said Fabozzi. “Instead, we license food recipes or products from restaurant companies and foodservice suppliers.”
Each year, the arena attempts to up its game in terms of technology. It most recently instituted a mobile ordering system, where guests can order food by phone and bypass the concession stand lines to pick up their meals.
Premium food offerings include chef-inspired menus at the Calvin Klein Courtside Club with carving stations, pasta and hand-rolled sushi. Its Brooklyn Taste program extends to these areas, with concession fare  offered, as well.
“We have menu cycle rotations every 10 days in our premium areas and will offer unique items for marquee events,” said Fabozzi.
Levy is currently investigating how to connect smart queuing and speed of service.
“We’re looking at system-wide improvements with our foodservice app within the arena to tie it into mobile pickup points,” said Fabozzi. “We’re trying to formalize our five-year fan experience with the food and beverage plan in the next year.”

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Posted: 1 Sep 2017, 3:00 pm

Rob-Zifarelli-Paradigm-photo-by-Ryan-Bolton-3K5A5880_copy1.jpgOne person’s loss is not always another’s gain, but when the Canadian agency scene lost one of its biggest players recently, it turned into a major plus for some veterans who landed new jobs. The shake-up began with the long-expected shuttering of UTA’s Toronto office in the second week of August, which led to an exodus of the talented staff to a number of other agencies who were happy to pick up new team members.
“It became evident that UTA was looking to make changes within their music department across the board and ultimately the fact that they were trying to reduce that department became a numbers game,” said 20-year veteran Rob Zifarelli, who moved from UTA to a gig with his old friends at Paradigm Talent Agency almost instantly when the hammer came down on the Canadian music arm of UTA.
Zifarelli was not alone in jumping ship, moving over to Paradigm along with Adam Countryman and André Guérette. “UTA saw that the Canadian business was not something they were aggressively in pursuit of, and I’ve been friends with [Paradigm’s] Marty [Diamond] and Tom [Schroeder] for years because we cross paths so often in our musical space, and I’ve always been fond of those guys and what they’ve done to build such a great musical roster.”
When the opportunity came to jump to Paradigm, Zifarelli — who has worked with acts including Feist, Broken Social Scene and Dashboard Confessional — said the deal was closed at “lightning speed” and he’s still pinching himself at how well it worked out. “We were at work for Paradigm within three hours of the press release,” he said of the transition to his new gig on Aug. 16, which came quickly after he logged his final day at UTA. As for what Schroeder and Diamond’s pitch was to lure Zifarelli over, he said the pair made it clear they wanted to expand their Canadian presence, from corporate gigs to festivals, and tap into the former UTA agent’s expertise in the market.
“They wanted more boots on the ground in Canada and we gave them that turnkey opportunity,” he said of his team, which includes a staff of six manning Paradigm’s first Canadian office. One of the unique perspectives Zifarelli offers to Paradigm is a deep understanding of the Canadian touring market, with a pitch to managers of 14 dates on the front end of a record, festival plays mid-album cycle and another 14-15 dates at the end of the cycle. “But if an artist wants to go deeper into the territory, there’s no one better,” he said. “Our domestic clients do 30-40 shows across the country and we’re experts at digging into the corners and building up past the six major markets.”
In addition to Zifarelli’s move, Paquin picked up former UTA agents Adam Kraft, Rob Thornton and Sarah Litt, while APA snagged Ralph James and Jack Ross, who are now running a new Toronto office for the full-service agency with offices in London, Atlanta, Nashville, New York and Beverly Hills.
James said he’s worked with APA’s EVP/head of worldwide music Steve Martin for years — including at The Agency Group — and when the opportunity came to join his old friend, like Zifarelli, it was too good to pass up. “It seemed like a natural fit, there was a comfort level there and it’s a multifaceted agency with an international reach, which has always been our priority here in Canada,” he said. “The artists we’ve had the most success with we’ve found at an early stage and tried to take them to the world and having an international partner that understands the world market was key. And Steve is a guy who knows the Canadian market and can see the potential.”Jack_Ross_copy.jpg
James and Ross came to the arrangement with most of their roster intact, including such well-known acts as Nickelback, Big Sugar, Billy Talent, Danko Jones and Bruce Cockburn, as well as some new acts they are both excited about such as Birds of Bellwoods and The Standstills. With the country market still growing at an exponential pace, James said he’s excited to work with APA’s Nashville office to develop acts. Like Zifarelli, James said the UTA breakup is probably a good thing for the market because it creates more competition and opportunities. A spokesperson for UTA did not return requests for comment at press time.
“There are more people in California than there are in all of Canada, but the amount of talent for a country with 35 million people is unbelievable,” James said. “I think artists want to work, and they want opportunities and this is a fantastic thing for the Canadian music business and for international artists who want to do more work here.” Along with Ross and James, APA picked up former UTA agent Stefani Purificati — “a great young agent with some great country artists — Jess Moskaluke, Virginia to Vegas — and great ears” as well as Mike Graham, who James said “has great ears and is out there signing young bands. The two of them are exciting to watch in action. They have a different approach and look at things differently than we do.”
Jim Cressman, Invictus Entertainment Group founder and promoter, who knows about going out on your own, couldn’t contain his excitement about all the upheaval in the market set off by the UTA shut down. “Paradigm is in beast mode. I love the aggression and certainty in uncertain times,” he said. “Expanding into Canada will give Canadian artists the option to work with another major player domestically and internationally.”
Cressman admitted to being a bit surprised by the reaction to the closure of the UTA office in Toronto, explaining that “corporatized people who value the business card with the big logo, and the desk in the corner office, were freaking out,” while most music business entrepreneurs instinctively knew that all those agents would land on their feet. “They're all just far too valuable to the ecosystem. It's not like their clients were going to stop touring because there's a new sign on the door.”Ralph_James_copy.jpg
When it comes to Zifarelli, Cressman said he couldn’t think of a single agent in Canadian history who has brought more value to the AC/Modern rock niche for his clients. “That guy could open an office in his basement and he'd still crush it,“ he said, adding the same praise to James and Ross, dubbing them “self-starters” who belong in the pantheon of most iconic figures in Canadian music industry history thanks to their innovative mindsets and hard work.
As for what it all means at a time when the Canadian dollar is on an upswing, Cressman wasn’t sure yet. “In some ways, not much has changed,” he said. “You still have top tier agents, bringing indispensable value to their clients, and that never changes regardless of what logo they have on their business cards. With the new presence of Paradigm and APA offices in Canada, it's a plus.  Anytime there's more competition and more choice for the artist, the industry wins. It forces everyone, including Invictus, to step up their game, and I embrace the challenge.”
Zifarelli feels confident that his team will be able to break more international artists in Canada thanks to diligent experts such as Guérette, a bilingual Frenchman who is excellent with artists of French descent (Marie-Pierre Arthur, Bobby Bazini) and who can do business in Quebec and French Canadian provinces like nobody else. He also had nothing but praise for Countryman, who has been booking North America for half a decade now and who is looking to blow up an artist, like Zifarelli’s core client City and Colour, into a global act as soon as he can. “He’s kind of cut from the same cloth as I am, but he has the advantage of being 10 years younger,” said Zifarelli.
“The movement will be healthy and it will increase the competitive nature that’s always there in the business,” he said. “I think it’s definitely a new era. I would joke that they broke up the band, but the fact is it was the end of an era because most of us had been together for 10-plus years. It was a decade where we had a great run. I think it will be healthy for the Canadian music business and it’s an opportunity for more artists to develop out of Canada and have success worldwide.”

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Posted: 1 Sep 2017, 3:00 pm

While hurricanes make the headlines worldwide, Montana and other parts of the Northwest are in the worst fire season in history.
Tom Aldrich, Western Montana Fair, Missoula, said his fairgrounds became a shelter for the first time since World War II. “We started taking in animals in the middle of August,” Aldrich said. They also offered RV camping to some of the evacuees.
Montana is no stranger to ridge fires, but they usually stay on the ridges, he said. This time, fires were coming down the mountainsides and threatening towns.
Meanwhile, they were also hosting the annual fair Aug. 8-13, and despite the ridge fires and fears, it was a stellar event, if not smokier than usual.
The reason was a brilliant decision to offer a free gate for the first time. “We figured if we could increase revenues 15 percent across the board, we could offset the free gate,” Aldrich said.
The fair drew 86,836 people, up 24 percent, and revenues increased 25-30 percent. Sponsorships brought in $76,470, up 25 percent; 11,000 attended the paid rodeos, up 10 percent; concessions brought in $524,338, up 19 percent; and the carnival, North Star Amusements, grossed $450,604, up 19 percent. In addition, the beer garden netted $41,000-plus, more than double the year prior, and parking was up 26 percent, to $20,000 at $6 a pop.
Aldrich expected they will continue to be one of the larger fairs in the Rocky Mountains to offer a free gate again next year. And he also predicted a few other fairs would follow suite.
August was a most unusual month for Western Montana Fair, air quality index included. In Montana, they cope, Aldrich said. It’s time for school and some schools are in evacuation zones. Those kids will be attending school at a dude ranch — at least for now.

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Posted: 1 Sep 2017, 2:00 pm

As Hurricane Irma winds, rain and storm surges pummeled the East Coast, Texans were draining the state following historic flooding after Hurricane Harvey made landfall Aug. 27. As usual, venue managers rose to the occasion both during and following these natural disasters, juggling professional and personal responsibilities as they set up shelters for evacuees and helped stage emergency equipment.
Over the years, and particularly since Hurricane Katrina (Aug. 23, 2005) devastated the Gulf Coast, the expertise in these matters has grown exponentially. Experience is a great teacher, and Mark Miller, GM of NRG Park in Houston for SMG, has a lot of it. Miller was there when the Astrodome was used to shelter evacuees from New Orleans in 2005.
The 2017 disaster was different in that the venue used was the NRG Center, not the stadium, and the guests were local. The first evacuees were sent to George R. Brown Convention Center this time, he said. NRG Center was the secondary shelter.
“Last time we went first,” Miller said of the Katrina experience. “The plan was to bring everyone from Katrina to the Astrodome. They found out pretty quickly it’s not a good idea to keep people in a building where they have to sit.”
This time NRG followed George R. Brown Convention Center and processed 6,000-8,000 people total (compared to 27,000, a huge population, during the aftermath of Katrina). And a lot of those evacuees this month “came through, got cleaned up, got something to eat and then found somewhere else to stay,” Miller said.
Luther Villagomez, COO of George R. Bown Convention Center, opened that shelter on Aug. 27 and took the first wave of evacuees. At one point, the population swelled to 10,300 people. The low was 1,500 and he still had evacuees on the premises Sept. 11.
After 15 days of serving as a shelter, Villagomez was planning to open for regular business Sept. 17, when the Society of Exploration Geophysicists moved in for its Sept. 25-27 show, which draws about 5,000 attendees.
As of Sept. 8, Miller still had 1,400 evacuees at NRG Center. The benefits of putting them in the convention center, not the stadium, were huge. “I have 100,000 sq. ft. in the stadium, 705,000 sq. ft. in the center. The stadium is the last place we go,” Miller said.
Emergency operations occupied most of the 300-acre NRG Park, from parking to staging supplies to helicopter landings and a lot of law enforcement. “During Katrina, we weren’t under disaster. We were clean and dry. The big advantage we had in Katrina is everything worked,” Miller said.
Hurricane Harvey was local, meaning everyone had personal situations as well as professional duties. “It was a water event. The worst winds we got were 30 mph sustained, 40 mph gusts, but it was 51 inches of rain in a day,” Miller noted. But they had power and that led to good communications.
“Once we got the major streets dry, people could get in and out. It wasn’t the devastation of a wind event on top of the water. It would have been a lot tougher if we had both,” Miller said. Hurricane Irma was hitting Florida with both.
Big shelter lessons learned for Miller are twofold: Stay calm and communicate.
“I always try, during these things, is try to listen a lot, especially with FEMA and the Red Cross,” Miller said. “Everyone has to communicate really well. There are so many things going on, so many people, all at once. You have to have a command post and regular conversations with everybody. Make sure you don’t double, triple or quadruple work to get things done because you keep stepping all over people.”
Villagomez concurred. At George R. Brown Convention Center, they had an Incident Command that met up to five times a day and included 30 points of contact, all in the same room. “It’s not any different than pre-meetings for each convention where we update everyone about the event. Shelter operations are about what’s next and the changes in the number of residents,” he said.
“Feeding people is a constant challenge around here,” Miller said of the experience. They fed hundreds of law enforcement officers and first responders as well as evacuees. “We had 3,000 volunteers show up the first day they called for them. We had more volunteers than we had people.”
Downtown at the convention center, concessionaire Aramark took the first round of feedings, preparing things like oatmeal, fruit, spaghetti, chili and soups, until the Red Cross and the network of volunteers was in place, Villagomez said.
As to staffing the venue, Miller sent out a mass alert that if staff could get there, come in; if not, stay home. “It’s pretty simple. You get done what you can get done, don’t try to do more than you have the resources to do,” he said. About 30-40 percent of his staff was able to report for duty, a reasonable number considering the local emergency. Most of them, after the initial organization took place, were setting tables and chairs, making sure the lights and A/C worked, the usual stuff, he said.
“Three or four of us spent a whole lot of time down here, but not as much as Katrina,” Miller said. “I didn’t go home for five days during Katrina. This wasn’t that bad.”
Volunteers do the brunt of the work, Villagomez said. The difficult part is figuring out the set up. Things eventually get into a rhythm. The difference from a normal event is that this one is 24/7.
Mike Downing, EVP, Prevent Advisors, has extensive knowledge of emergency preparedness from 29 years with the Los Angeles Police Department. He’s especially informed on disaster planning for floods and fires and confirmed what Miller and Villagomez experienced.
“You work very hard in The Blue — the non-crisis time — and look at the integration of the governmental agencies and the private sector; evacuation planning and front-loading and pre-staging unusual occurrence equipment,” he said.
To get prepared, Downing suggested tabletop exercises, field exercises and annual training for full-blown exercises in the field. “Look toward those Blue times, when there is no crisis, to refresh procedures and refresh relationships, which are probably the single most important thing you have after coming together to practice exercises together. Then you confront the real crisis together.”
Downing said that the first step is assessment once you’re out of the Red Zone, and in recovery mode, and trying to restore order, services and confidence to the communities. “Your first action is to see what the needs of the community are,” he said.
Step two is getting all the emergency aid branches on the same page. “In Los Angeles, we had 44 departments, and getting them to work in concert was paramount to getting a disaster under control,” he said. “Your emergency operations center should have been opened pre-event and should stay open post-event until conditions are back to normal and a majority of services have been restored.”
Downing said the Operational Center is not so much about operating, but rather, about coordinating resources. Ingress, egress, transportation, power, water — all the essentials for routine living needs to be restored. “The government has a leadership position in all this but they need the cooperation of communities, neighborhoods and private sector businesses,” he said.
A priority has to be placed on stopping any lawlessness, such as looting. “Tolerating looting is telling the public that we’re in complete anarchy,” said Downing. “You can’t have lawlessness anywhere. Lawlessness anywhere is lawlessness everywhere. There must be a sense of order and the rule of law. You can’t bring conditions back to normal if there is looting going on.”
“It’s urgent that you shut it down and let people know we will not tolerate it; we will hunt you down and put you in prison,” he said forcefully. “It needs to be said emphatically so people don’t think they can take advantage of a bad situation. It’s intolerable and resources have to be put on that problem immediately.”
Be ready, that’s the mantra from all fronts. The venue industry has learned a lot since 2007. It has come in very handy in 2017.

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OVG’s Narrative Partners Rebrands
Posted: 30 Aug 2017, 7:00 pm

OVG's Narrative Partners is now OVG Global Partnerships.

Narrative Partners has officially rebranded themselves as OVG Global Partnerships.

“I have spent many years on the brand side of the corporate world helping to build billion-dollar brands, and one attribute is consistent to every successful brand – simplicity.” said Dan Griffis, president of OVG Global Partnerships, in a statement.

“Tim [Leiweke] and Irving [Azoff] have built an incredible amount of equity already in the OVG brand and it makes perfect sense to rebrand at this time so all efforts are unified toward our common goal.”

In addition to the rebranding effort, OVG Global Partnerships is expanding their leadership team with the addition of sports and entertainment industry leaders, Ryan Brach and Evan Levine.

Brach will serve as head of global partnerships; Levine will serve as VP of  global partnerships. Brach and Levine join OVG Global Partnerships following long careers across the National Basketball Association (NBA), Major League Soccer (MLS), National Hockey League (NHL) and live entertainment.

The news comes as OVG Global Partnerships is experiencing significant growth both internally and in recent deals across a broad range of industries, including sports, entertainment, the arts, tech and hospitality including recent partnership deals for The Broad Museum, Feld Entertainment, sbe, Atom Tickets, the Forum in Los Angeles and OVG’s Arena Alliance. OVG Global Partnerships is also currently brokering the naming rights for multiple arenas in North America.

“Every mentor I have had in my career has told me that the most important resource and reason for a company’s success is hiring and retaining good people,” said Griffis. “Bringing on leadership talent like Ryan and Evan represents another important step in our evolution. We will continue to build the team with exceptionally talented and creative marketing and sales professionals who can leverage their storytelling skills to align brands with world class sports and entertainment properties.”

“As expected, OVG Global Partnerships has quickly established itself as a leader in this space with the breadth of deals they have executed on behalf of its clients and the Arena Alliance,” added Tim Leiweke, OVG CEO., in the statement. “As OVG grows, so will OVG Global Partnerships as the sales and marketing arm of the company.  The future is bright. With the addition of Ryan and Evan, we will be even better positioned to partner with professional teams to help them sell their most valuable inventory such as naming rights and kit sponsorships in MLS, NBA Jersey patches, etc.”

“OVG Global Partnerships has created something unprecedented in our business with a team whose talents and relationships span such a wide array of industries,” said Brach in the statement. “It’s an honor to join the group and leverage my background to help do what OVG Global Partnerships does best... helping our partners simplify complex problems with unique and creative solutions.”

“I am excited to join forces with Ryan to leverage our experience at the local, national and global level of professional sports and live entertainment to foster meaningful relationships between brands and OVG’s global properties and our 3rd party clients,” said Levine in the satement.  “Our leadership team is comprised of over 50 years of collective experience from the league, team and brand side of the equation. Our point of differentiation is that we have both purchased and brokered large-scale strategic partnerships, providing a holistic view for our clients.”

Leading up to his time with OVG, Brach has served as SVP of partnership marketing and media sales for Kroenke Sports & Entertainment since 2012. Brach led the brand partnership team for sales and activation for the Denver Nuggets, Colorado Avalanche, Colorado Rapids, Colorado Mammoth, Pepsi Center and Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. Before his tenure at Kroenke Sports & Entertainment, Brach served as SVP across partnerships, licensing, business development and broadcasting during the expansion phase of the Portland Timbers of MLS and is credited with leading the corporate partnership team to record-setting revenues for the league at that time.

Levine, who will open the OVG Global Partnerships New York office later this month, previously served as Senior Director of Business Development for Soccer United Marketing (SUM), focused on the commercial development and monetization for the MLS, U.S. Soccer, the Mexican National Team and the properties of CONCACAF. During his time at SUM, Levine executed partnerships with TAG Heuer, State Farm, Constellation Brands, as well as secured Target as the presenting partner for the league's marquee event, MLS All-Star. Prior to joining SUM, Levine was the Vice President of Business Development for Roc Nation where he brokered partnerships for the various business units under Jay Z’s sports and live entertainment company.

For Levine, this is an exciting opportunity to reunite with longtime friend and former colleague at the NBA, Amy Gaskin, VP, head of partnership activation for OVG Global Partnerships.  In 2014, Levine and Gaskin collaborated on the groundbreaking partnership with JPMorgan Chase for Beyonce & Jay-Z’s On The Run tour. Gaskin and her team currently manage all partnership marketing and activation for OVG Global Partnership clients, most notably the recent large-scale Walmart/Arena Alliance partnership.

The OVG Arena Alliance is comprised of 26 of the busiest arenas in North America and home to over 50 major professional sports teams.

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


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Did Ned Collett Join the Cajun Navy?
Posted: 30 Aug 2017, 7:00 pm

Ned Collett and Eric Smith navigate down flooded Fry Street in Katy, Texas, to rescue friends trapped in flooded homes.

HOUSTON — Aug. 28, 2017, 9:15 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. CSTAmong the many heroic stories coming out of Houston during the devastation of Hurricane Harvey is one of our own, Ned Collett of Oak View Group’s Arena Alliance. Collett ended up rescuing six people, two dogs and their essential stuff in a borrowed boat that memorable day in Texas.

In the business for as long as anyone remembers, Collett, who moved to Houston six years ago, was checking on industry friends and family as the flood waters rose around him. Naturally, he called Mike McGee, Barmac Consulting, a longtime friend and former employer with Leisure Management International (LMI), to see how everyone was weathering the storm in his circle.

Over the next several hours a story unfolded that had Collett and his fisherman neighbor, Eric Smith, out in the flood waters on a rescue mission, which Collett admits, off the record, may be one of the most stupid things he’s ever done…but certainly doesn’t regret.

This is his story, told with the expected levity and humor that are uniquely Collett.


“This is honestly the most heart wrenching thing I’ve ever seen. People are suffering and there’s nothing you can do about it. The other side is everybody is helping everybody. It doesn’t matter what race, gender, creed or national origin. It’s the great common denominator. I’ve been here almost six years and this is the first time we have ever had anything remotely like this.

“And people just help. Obviously downtown Houston has flooded but there are so many suburban communities effected. In my neighborhood, maybe 180 homes, you see people at the school bus stop, at the grocery store, you just get to know people. Somebody will say my sister lives in Kellywood Estates and has a problem, have you got some time? People will just go and help.

“If you look at the rescues that are happening during this hurricane, it’s neighborhood driven.

“The Cajun Navy actually came over, which is really cool. That’s a bunch of guys with boats out of Louisiana. They go in and get people out. It started around Katrina. At the last major flood in Baton Rouge a year ago, they did a lot of rescues.

“This morning I talked to Mike. He lives two miles from me. When I moved to Texas, my wife Ginger called Barbara [McGee] and, next thing I knew, I was living in Katy, Texas, near the McGees. Mike said [his daughter] Melissa is getting a little water, and I said, ‘Let’s go get her.’ My personal rain gauge is at 39.6 inches since Saturday and it’s still raining. Noon to 2 on Sunday afternoon it stopped and then it started again. It was horrible.

“After the release of that reservoir last night, I slept with one eye open on the couch. [Son] Ethan and Ginger were in the bed. I didn’t let them go upstairs in case of a tornado. I went to bed about 5. About 8 a.m. the phone was ringing. Ginger is Facebooking with Jane [McGee’s youngest daughter], Melissa and Barbara – they call it a girls’ club, Mike and I call it a hen party. Ginger says Melissa is on Facebook and says she’s about to flood; the water on the street is waist deep. That happened overnight. So I called McGee again and said we’ve got to go get her. He said, ‘How are you supposed to do that, Nedly?’ I said, ‘As long as I’m talking to you I can’t figure it out.’

“Ginger is great friends in the neighborhood with Sharon Smith, and I know her husband is a big fisherman. So I called Eric and said do you have any kind of boat? And he said yes, two. So I said can I borrow the inflatable. They moved here a year ago from New Mexico. Rain is something they freak out about.

“He said what’s going on? I said good friends, really like family, are trapped down about two miles from here. I’ve got to go get ‘em. He said okay, come on around. So I got my pickup truck and put the inflatable, boat motor and gas can in and we got to the end of our street and it was already flooded. We fired up the boat right there.


Demonstrating true Texas chivlry and good cheer, Eric Scott navigates with Ned Collett aboard as they make there way down Fry Street to rescue neighbors Melissa and Scott Zimmerman.

“It took an hour and a half to navigate down there. Melissa was texting me, Scott [Zimmerman, her husband] was waiting out on the bank of this big bayou that had turned into a river. We go get Melissa, Scott and the kids and put them in the boat with Eric and Eric took them out to dry land. Then he came back to get me and their stuff.

“In the meantime, Melissa’s elderly neighbors across the street were in deep shit, too. I said, ‘look, we’re here, get your stuff.’ We put the lady in the boat and her husband, and their stuff. Eric leaves again, drops her off. I’m sitting there…I didn’t even wear a rain jacket. When Eric got back, we loaded the cargo and gear. Got off the bayou and up the street – Fry Road – it was waist deep easy. Melissa and Scott were resourceful. There were people with big trucks and tractors driving people to higher ground. So Melissa texts me, ‘we got a ride, take care of our neighbors, our stuff if you can.’ We did that. We got in the water at 9:15 and got done at 2:30.

“We got six people, two dogs and their stuff. Melissa texted me one of her neighbors was pregnant. Lived catercorner to her house. I tried but she never answered the door. She was already gone, upstairs, or didn’t want to answer the door with the crazed, soaked rat knocking.

“When we pulled up behind the old couple’s house, he was standing there waving. The first thing the man said was ‘Are you with the Cajun Navy? Aren’t you from Louisiana like Melissa’s dad?’ I said, ‘No, I’m with LMI. Louisiana Mafia Inc.

“Where I am, remarkably, my neighborhood is fine. I feel guilty, literally. I’ve got a Dodge pick up truck like all good Texans. I’ve got the boat ready, in the garage.

“The outpouring from people in our business is also remarkable– I’d say more than 30 building managers have called. Even Rob Franklin (retired, from Miami Arena) reached out to me from Argentina. He calls me Neddy. He says I can’t do anything but I wanted to lend you moral support.

“Those are the calls, when you’re sitting here watching water rise and there’s nothing you can do about it, it gives you a great feeling. People are thinking about you.

“We just measure rain in colors now. We were brown rain Saturday and Sunday; red rain Sunday night and most of today; right now we’re on the line — yellow and green. By 10 p.m. tomorrow, it will be out of Houston and on to Louisiana.

“In the last hour and a half, my rain gauge went up by half an inch, which means we’re at the end on this side.”

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Renewable Energy On The Rise
Posted: 30 Aug 2017, 7:00 pm

The 2017 Green Venue Report shows increased awareness of sustainability and best green practices.

How environmentally friendly is your venue?

That’s a question that Greenview asked facilities across the globe — 66 venues in 14 countries to be exact.

Greenview recently published its 2017 Green Venue Report, which highlights best sustainable practices in the industry, and this year’s analysis saw 50-percent more venues participating than in 2016.

“This was created a few years ago. What happen was, we saw that convention centers around the world have started to take notice of green initiatives,” said Lindy Farrar, a senior analyst with Greenview.

The for-profit company administers sponsor-driven surveys for a number of hospitality organizations, monitoring “their corporate responsibility and sustainability platforms to drive profitability, streamline data management, keep up with trends and provide effective communications for their stakeholders by leveraging the power of data, common guidelines, best practices, and innovation,” states the organization’s website.

“What we try to do with the report is give insight and content and show data trends, and we encourage all venues to participate no matter where they are,” Farrar said.

This year’s report asked venues 120 questions and found a number of helpful sustainable insights being used, including the fact that venues are saving millions of dollars with sustainability upgrades such as LED lighting.

Additionally, waste generated by events is being directly charged to event organizers, according to the report.

“In an effort to curb waste generation, 52 percent of venues charge event organizers directly based on waste tonnage or by the number of waste container ‘pulls’ or ‘hauls’ generated by the show. Additionally, about a quarter of the venues provide economic incentives for event organizers to reduce waste sent to landfill,” stated the report.

The health and wellness of venue staff is increasing across the industry, with 62 percent of venues having a health and wellbeing policy in place that applies to all staff, including health and fitness facilities “with free personal trainers to help promote healthy living and exercise.”

Energy tracking for events at venues also is improving, according to the report.

All the venues that took the survey reported that they track energy on an ongoing basis, with 88 percent tracking energy monthly, up from 86 percent in 2016 — also an increase of 77 percent in 2015.

“Almost one-third of the venues can sub-meter energy usage specifically to the exhibit hall. However, only five percent of venues can sub-meter (i.e. measure exact usage) individual exhibit booths in the exhibit hall, continually low adoption rate since 2015. Sixty-four percent of venues can provide event organizers with an energy-usage report specifically to their event, which is a healthy increase since 2015 (53 percent in 2016 and 48 percent in 2015),” the report states.

Renewable energy is slowly becoming a trend — 23 percent have Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs), “representing a total of approximately, 248 million kWh purchased,” states the report.

Europe is king of public transport accessibility to venues.

The European venues that participated in the survey were all accessible by train, light rail or subway/metro bus or within walking distance from the airport, states the report.

By comparison, 46 percent of U.S. venues were accessible by the same means, and 38 percent of venues in Canada were accessible by train, light rail or subway/metro,” the report states.

Buying local has become a huge trend across the world for venue operators with 89 percent of venues procuring food and beverage products with at least one sustainability-focused certification or accreditation — up 85 percent from 2016.

And, of course, you can’t be sustainable without taking water into consideration, and 45 percent of venues provide an event-specific water usage report to event organizers, which is up from 44 percent in 2016. “Only five percent of venues track event water usage on an ongoing basis,” the report states.

Other practices, such as reducing food waste, and obtaining a sustainability certificate also were highlighted in the Green Venue report.

“We’re seeing that not only do they have the certification, but they continue to apply,” Farrar said.

Venues also are hiring and maintaining green teams to keep their facilities on track with sustainability, she said.

“Everyone across the board is continuing to invest. It’s not just some venues in parts of the world. It’s real money… millions of dollars into sustainability upgrades, she said.

To view the report, click here.

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Venues Step Up as Harvey Hits Hard
Posted: 30 Aug 2017, 6:00 pm

Teenage volunteers help load pallets of water out of the Smart Financial Centre in Sugar Land, Texas, as flood waters engulf Houston.

Venues in the path of Hurricane Harvey are packed with thousands of people and pets in need of shelter due to the devastating and historic rainfall that hit parts of Texas.

As Hurricane Harvey continues to hit other states along the Gulf of Mexico, it’s not yet known how many venues will be damaged and/or turned into shelters.

Flood waters were four inches from pouring into the shiny new Smart Financial Centre, Sugar Land, Texas, that opened this January; but luckily, the water started to recede Tuesday night.

“We had water four inches from the top of the loading dock. If it had gone up, we would have had water in our building,” said Gary Becker, president of the center. “(The city) didn’t want to evacuate people to this building. We were in the evacuation zone.”


Flood waters were inches away from spilling into the Smart Financial Centre, Sugar Land, Texas, Tuesday, and the venue remains at risk of flooding.

As of Wednesday, the venue was still in danger of flooding, Becker said.

“We still have some risks associated with the Brazos River,” he said, noting that if the river floods, there’s a good chance it will spill into the venue. “We still have 24 to 36 hours to figure out if water is going to come in the building or not.”

Other venues across the region are dealing with a number of rescue efforts.

The George R. Brown Convention Center, Houston, is acting as a temporary mega shelter to nearly 9,000 people, and pets, who were flooded out of their homes, seeking a dry place to stay after being left homeless from the storm. The Dallas Convention Center is housing hundreds, and the Fort Worth Convention Center has 650 beds ready for those in need, Dallas Public Information Officer Richard Hill said.

Other venues in the area are also working with officials to provide relief.

“We postponed all of this weekend's events, even if the water was to recede. There’s been a call-out to the community for towels, blankets… everything,” said Juan Rodriquez, general manager of the BBVA Stadium, Houston. The venue was asked by the city to take donations and is not being used as a shelter at this time.

“I’ll tell you, it’s one of the most amazing humanitarian things that I’ve seen. It’s people helping people,” he said. “The things you’re seeing on TV are night and day compared to what this community is going through.”

His venue and the George R. Brown Convention Center were not damaged by the storm, he said. Yet, there’s no telling how long people will need to remain in the convention center.

“At this point, it’s too early to say how long the facility will be used in that capacity,” stated a press release issued from the city of Houston.

Venue managers across Texas have worked for days on end helping in any way they can.

“The George R Brown Convention Center in Houston is taking people in and it seems to have a lot of takers. Those helping the displaced are tasked with comforting these folks and providing a strong shoulder and warm bed. It's an emotionally exhausting chore. They all need our prayers,” said John Hrubetz, general manager/controller of the Freeman Coliseum & Expo Halls in San Antonio.

“Our complex in San Antonio is housing first responders in our Coliseum and one of our expo halls, housing evacuee's dogs in another building and providing space to feed these fine folks. There is a massive Emergency Operations Center on the property. I've met first responders from all over the country. Yesterday a couple of young firefighters from Los Angeles tiresomely came through our doors. These folks are simply amazing,” he said.

The massive rainfall made U.S. history, pounding nearly 52 inches of water into the Houston area, according to the National Centers for Environmental Protection. The hurricane moved into Louisiana Wednesday, providing a little relief to those in the Lone Star state, but now venues in Louisiana are prepping shelter beds and acting as donation collection stations as well.

The storm is expected to hit parts of Tennessee and Kentucky Thursday and Friday.

Rodriguez said that venue managers with mega venue disaster experience should volunteer their time to the cities most affected by the hurricane and flood waters.

“Offer your services up,” he said, highlighting that his disaster training came from helping with Hurricane Katrina years ago. “I was a part of the Katrina mega shelter.”

Venues outside of Texas also are pitching in, collecting donations and offering help where needed.

SMG-managed Greater Columbus(Ohio)Convention Center (GCCC) is working with its partner, Fern — which is the venue’s general services contractor — gathering supplies and donations to send down south.

“We are honored to assist our partners at Fern by gathering humanitarian relief supplies to assist the residents of Houston devastated by the impact of Hurricane Harvey,” GCCC General Manager John R. Page said.

All Midwest and Southeast locations of Fern are collecting supplies, with the goal to send trucks to Houston by the end of the week if trucks are able to be safely dispatched to the area.

“Often, we’re focused on local, but when it’s something of this magnitude we become focused on helping across state lines,” said Jennifer Davis, senior marketing and communications manager at GCCC.

As venues cancel and reschedule sporting events and shows, teams and artists are being gracious about changing dates for games and concerts.

Mary J. Blige was scheduled to perform at the Smart Financial Centre on Aug.25, but the venue wisely had to reschedule her show, Becker said. She’s now rescheduled to play on Sept. 19. 

“Most of these acts are on a tour,” he said. He and his team worked with Blige’s managers and seamlessly rescheduled the performance. “The team of Mary J. Blige was just awesome. It really shows how much she cares for her fans.”

Becker said it was only the second time he’s had to cancel a show in his career, with the first being Simon & Garfunkel in the 80s at a different venue.

Rescheduling concert dates at the 6,400-seat, theater-style venue will be tricky in coming days and weeks he said, as the most important thing is to be respectful to first responders and the city as they try to rebuild the community.

21078730_10155437802501839_4500900056553163486_n.jpgOtis, the dog, carrying his next meal after floods ravished his small hometown, Stinton, Texas.

However, Becker can’t help wondering when he’ll reopen the Centre.

“Music, entertainment and laughter are the most important ways to take (people) away from the daily grind and into where the artists want to take them,” Becker said, hoping hurricane victims soon can enjoy live entertainment again.

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Kings, LN, SMG form Sacramento Dream Team
Posted: 30 Aug 2017, 2:00 pm

Memorial Auditorium is one of three Sacramento venues the consortium is bidding to operate.

The consortium that includes the Sacramento Kings of the National Basketball Association, SMG and Live Nation, which are negotiating to run the Sacramento Convention Center, Memorial Auditorium and Community Theatre for the city, may be a trend in an industry that is emphasizing entertainment districts above standalone arenas and stadiums.

“For us, we consider ourselves an entertainment company and local advocate for Sacramento and developers in town. I’ve been on the board of Visit Sacramento for the last 12 years. I’m very familiar with that business,” said John Rinehart, president of the Kings, who took that role when Chris Granger moved on to Detroit a month ago.

Under Granger and now Rinehart, the Kings are committed to growing Sacramento, which started with the opening of Golden 1 Center a year ago and continues with a major development opening in increments around that arena, including a hotel.

Rinehart doesn’t see an end to growth plans, considering the Kings a global company and, in the near term, considering all entertainment options in the region.

“For a convention center guy like me, anyone in the hotel business is a player as a convention partner,” said Gregg Caren, EVP, convention centers, for SMG, referring to the 250-room Kimpton Hotel the Kings are about to open. As to Live Nation, SMG has collaborated with them in Baltimore and Syracuse already.

Live Nation’s Ben Weeden, who is in charge of theaters and clubs for the promotions company, is particularly excited about the potential for Memorial Aud, noting the 2,000-4,000 capacity venue is a sweet spot for tours.

Live Nation already operates Sacramento’s Punchline Comedy Club, which has been around for years, and the 1,200-capacity Ace of Spades Club, which Live Nation brought into its portfolio a couple years ago. They also have the Toyota Amphitheater and close ties with Golden 1 Center. “The missing link has always been a 2,000-4,000 cap. room. The opportunity presented itself. The three of us as partners are more than equipped to work with the city to grow those venues,” Weeden said.


The Sacramento Convention Center is due for some major renovations under the city's plan.

The consortium grew organically. The city issued a Request for Information for the Privatization of the Sales, Marketing & Operation of the Convention Center Complex in late May. After the prebid walkthrough and given a long history of working together and knowing each other, the three powerhouse firms came together to bid on the contract.

Two other bids were from the current management team, operating as an enterprise fund, and a consortium of Danny Wimmer Presents, Spectra Venue Management and Thunder Valley Casino. The city selected the Kings/Live Nation/SMG group to negotiate with, allowing 90 days (ending late October, early November) to develop a plan. There is a lot of wiggle room and even still the potential of doing nothing.

Stats released by the city reveal the Sacramento Convention Complex hosts over 400 events and over 940,000 visitors annually. The convention center totals 137,000 square feet of exhibit space and 31 meeting rooms, including a 24,000-sq.-ft. ballroom. Additionally, the complex includes the 2,398-seat Community Center Theater; a 3,849-seat Memorial Auditorium and 272-seat Jean Runyon Little Theater.

The convention center originally opened in 1974 and an expansion, tripling the size of the facility, was completed in 1996. The Community Center Theater also opened in 1974 and Memorial Auditorium opened in 1927, and then reopened in1996 after renovating the Jean Runyon Theater.

The complex is supported by the Convention Center Fund, which operates as an Enterprise Fund, and is primarily funded by user- fee revenues and Transient Occupancy Tax. The Complex employs approximately 60 full-time employees and 125 part-time employees.

In fiscal 2016, convention center revenue totaled $30,575,269 against expenses of $28,403,965. The convention center hosted 239 events with an attendance of 559,932; Memorial Auditorium, 111 events, 160,852 attendance; and Community Center Theater, 52 events, 219,770 attendance.

“We’re on the rise,” said Matt Voreyer, general manager of the Sacramento Convention Center Complex, who joined the organization in 1999. The opening of Golden 1 Center combined with the city’s commitment of funds to improve all its facilities has spurred growth.

Preliminary plans are to invest $85 million in the Community Center Theater, beginning May 2019; $16 million in Memorial Auditorium, beginning March 2018, and $125 million to expand the convention center, including all costs associated with labor, design, construction and environmental review. That will also kick off in March of next year.

The architects are Westlake Reed Leskoski and Populous. “We’re still identifying the scope of work at the convention center,” Voreyer said. Hunt Construction is the project manager. The plan is to stay open the entire time at the convention center, though the theater and auditorium will be closed for portions of those renovations.

For the Kings, the opportunity “is a matter of continuing to grow Sacramento and being part of that,” Rinehart said. “We’ll continue that growth with these three iconic buildings and bringing them back to life.”

The partners are looking for operating efficiencies and new revenue streams. “We’ll make it so the city comes out on top,” Rinehart said. “At the end of the day, this will be a better operation for the city as well as our partnership.”

“I’m looking it as more than just basketball,” Rinehart said of the Kings’ mission. “We’re about creating an entertainment and living culture in Sacramento where everybody can thrive.” Asked if other basketball teams could do the same, he responded, “The right public/private partnership is definitely transferable.”

The density of the entertainment districts (another Sacramento developer has one underway as well), all the way past the convention center and Memorial Aud. to the riverfront, will aid all players, the partners said

“Our bid was about opportunity,” Rinehart said.”  Due diligence just got underway. “We’ll see now if there is a deal that makes sense for all parties.”

While the Kings bring local advocacy to the partnership, SMG is all about operations. Caren said SMG is not shy about partnering, often with a local or diversity partner that brings knowledge of the market to the table. “Municipalities want us engaged with local business. That’s not uncommon,” he noted.

Partnering with Live Nation is not uncommon for SMG either, having already partnered with them at Pier Six Pavilion in Baltimore and Lakeview Amphitheater in Syracuse, N.Y., where SMG already has the private management deal with OnCenter. In Syracuse, the city “put us together, not unwillingly,” Caren said.

“In Sacramento, it was sort of through a natural evolution of conversations among peers,” Caren said. “Our perspective has always been having a fair slice of a pie that makes sense rather than grabbing more.”

Caren also noted SMG has 65 performing arts centers in its management portfolio. As to food and drink, Caren said Classique Catering, a division of Centerplate, has the food and beverage operation with the city through 2020.

“The city, as far as I know, believes there is upside at all their venues,” Weeden said of the marching orders. His goal for Live Nation is “capacity utilization,” noting the expertise of “people who do it every day” in this group is a dream team.

Live Nation also has a history with the Kings and works with SMG every day, well beyond Baltimore and Syracuse. “Everyone brings best-in-class skill set and it’s a really big project,” Weeden said.

He compared Memorial Auditorium to the Hollywood Palladium, the Masonic in San Francisco or the Fox in Oakland, “that gives you an idea of what we’re going to shoot for,” he said. “The capacity and setup is similar; programming can be comparable. It’s a flexible room. It has a loge and balcony, but also a flat ballroom floor that can be seated. In fact, the floor can be tilted. It’s a very functional room.”

It also lends itself well to loadin, loadout, and getting trucks and buses in. “Logistics are not a problem. The stage is also huge. That’s why I think there is opportunity,” Weeden said.

“The city has been very proactive. This is something they absolutely want to get done. We’re in a good place. With the Kings and SMG, I’d bet on us,” Weeden added. “It’s something we would look at in all markets. This is a bit of a new thing for us, three venues in one footprint, a destination. It’s something I’d like to continue to look at going forward.”

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Shuttered Venues Find New Life
Posted: 30 Aug 2017, 1:00 pm

The Palace of Auburn Hills will close its doors after 29 years.

When the last notes of Bob Seger’s “Rock and Roll Never Forgets” and “Night Moves” fade into the air in late September, The Palace of Auburn Hills (Mich.) will be closing its doors after 29 years of hosting concerts and Detroit Pistons basketball. Whether it will be repurposed into another type of venue remains to be seen.

“No decisions have been made at this time,” said Kevin Grigg, vice president for public relations for the Pistons. However, the building will not be empty or without purpose in the near future. “Business operations will continue to function here and be headquartered here until a new practice facility is constructed that will be in a new center of Detroit.” That will be the Henry Ford-Detroit Pistons Performance Center, which should break ground soon, Grigg added.

How Tom Gores, owner of Palace Sports and Entertainment, which owns both the Pistons and The Palace of Auburn Hills, will proceed with the decision of the venue’s future also is not known. “Discussions on the future path forward will be handled internally,” Grigg said.

A couple of weeks after Seger’s Sept. 23 concert, the Pistons will kick off the 2017-18 season in its new home, the $862.9 million Little Caesars Arena in midtown Detroit. The venue will be shared by the National Hockey League’s Detroit Red Wings.

So how does a company market a 22,000-24,000-seat arena that was built for a very specific purpose, in this case, to host musical concerts and sports events? One unique example of a venue that had to undergo a transition is the Memphis (Tenn.) Pyramid, which already was a one-of-a-kind home for concerts and sports, when it opened in 1991 as the home of the University of Memphis’ men’s basketball team. That team and the National Basketball Association’s (NBA) Memphis Grizzlies, a later tenant, both moved to the FedExForum in 2004. In 2007, the Pyramid hosted its last concert, coincidentally performed by Seger.

An adaptive reuse committee reportedly considered several different futures for the 20,000-seat, oddly-shaped venue, supposedly entertaining ideas such as an aquarium, a casino and a theme park. After a long negotiation, Springfield, Mo.-based Bass Pro Shops converted the venue into a megastore, which opened in April 2015 following a two-and-a-half-year remodeling.

As renovations begin this month on Kemper Arena, Kansas City, Mo., its future will more closely resemble its past. The 43-year-old building has been the home of several sports teams, including the NBA’s Kansas City Kings. Purchased in a deal finalized last week by the Foutch Brothers, Kemper Arena will be transformed into a multiuse space that will include a sports complex that will host basketball, volleyball, gymnastics and other sports.

However, noted Steve Foutch, CEO of Foutch Brothers, to get the bank to underwrite the project, there had to be other uses for the venue. To that end, in addition to the sports courts, there will be office space that has garnered long-term leases.

The purchase and renovations are projected to cost $39 million, Foutch said, and the venue will be called Mosaic Arena as part of a 10-year naming rights deal with Mosaic Life Care.

Workers will push back the retractable seating to fit four basketball courts on the first floor and added a second floor which will hold an additional eight courts. Also, above the second floor, a five-lane, 350-meter running track will be added that “goes around the top of the nosebleed seats,” Foutch said.

There also will be office, retail and food and beverage space, as well as a museum. Those generally will be five-to-10-year leases. The sports courts have been able to command three-to-five-year leases, Foutch added. The businesses are interdependent on one another. “Everything is a key to its success. The second floor really sets the tone for what that building could be. The office people want to be there to interact with the sports things, and the office space was key for the bank to underwrite it.”

A restaurant group, KC Hopps, will create a food court concept and on weekends, vendors will bring in precooked food to sell at kiosks during sports tournaments. “Our weekends will be tournaments with out-of-town people coming in and we want out-of-town people to have a taste of Kansas.”

So far, sports organizations have shown a lot of interest and have booked weekend events at the venue, which will be completed in about a year, Foutch said. He expects many of those to turn into recurring events with signed leases. “For at least the next year, a lot of people are wanting to sign three-to-five-year leases to keep the slots.”

Another reason for the success of the project was to get the venue, built in 1972, listed on the National Register of Historic Places. That happened in 2016 because of the building’s modern design created by German-American architect Helmut Jahn.

“That was another key for funding—historic tax credits,” Foutch said. “We think we’re the first in the nation to get it on the register when the architect is still alive and practicing.”

Of the buildings, the 45-year-old Kemper Arena is the old man of the bunch. The Palace of Auburn Hills didn’t make it to its 30th birthday with its original, intended purpose, and the Memphis Pyramid was barely a teenager when its major tenants moved out. Brad Mayne, the president and CEO of the International Association of Venue Managers (IAVM), believes that venues that have been built in the last 20 years or so will last longer than the ones constructed during a 1990s building boom.

Mayne uses the American Airlines Center, Dallas, home of the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks, as an example. He was the president and CEO of the company that built the venue, which opened in 2001. “Later in the ‘90s, we learned there needed to be more flexibility built into venues,” he said.

For instance, officials did not know if high-end club suites that were included in the plans could be maintained over time, but the idea was that they could eventually be turned into merchandising space if necessary. And then there was the technology, which builders knew was rapidly changing at the time.

“When we were building the American Airlines Center, everything was still analog,” Mayne said. “But we knew digital was coming. We didn’t have enough information to determine what that meant. But we built the building to accommodate analog with additional closets and raceways and the like for cabling and other technological needs, so that whatever that future would look like, it could be accommodated.”


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Posted: 30 Aug 2017, 1:00 pm


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Hot Tickets for August 30, 2017
Posted: 29 Aug 2017, 6:00 pm

Kenny Chesney gives a pintsized-fan a king-size welcome at his recent chart-busting show at Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, Mass.

After deciding to scale back his performances for 2017 with a handful of stops, Kenny Chesney was set to play only two stadium shows, both at Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, Mass., Aug. 25-26, taking our top spot this week. Chesney treated his faithful "No Shoes Nation" fans to a six-hour blast of country tunes, which included support performances by Midland, Old Dominion and Thomas Rhett. The country superstar himself played a two-hour set spanning his 23-year career, and with no arena frills, concertgoers focused on the pure talent that graced the stage. Both sold-out performances grossed a whopping $12 million with over 121,000 faithful fans in attendance. After a mellow 2017 schedule, Chesney will be busy this fall putting out an album dedicated to his fans and planning a busier 2018 tour.

Another residency has hit the strip, and it landed on our Hot Tickets chart this week. The Who, the first rock band to take up residency at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace, Las Vegas, since opening in 2003, played six shows, July 29-Aug. 11, to near-capacity crowds. With ticket prices ranging from $75-$500, the shows grossed nearly $4 million with a combined attendance of 20,000. Pete Townshend, at 72 years old, is still power-sliding across the stage and showing off his classic guitar stage moves proving to fans that age is just a state of mind. Fortunately for Who fans, the 53-year-old band doesn’t plan on packing it in any time soon.

HOT TICKETS is a weekly summary of the top acts and ticket sales as reported to VT PULSE. Following are the top 20 concerts and events, the top 5 in each seating capacity category, which took place Aug. 1-29.

15,001 or More Seats

10,001-15,000 Seats

5,001-10,000 Seats

5,000 or Fewer Seats

1) Kenny Chesney
Gross Sales: $12,095,688; Venue: Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, Mass.; Attendance: 121,642; Ticket Range: $265-$60; Promoter: Messina Touring Group, AEG Presents; Dates: Aug. 25-26; No. of Shows: 2

2) Guns N’ Roses
Gross Sales: $2,551,648; Venue: Parc Jean-Drapeau, Montreal; Attendance: 23,117; Ticket Range: $319.91-$49.34; Promoter: evenko, Live Nation; Dates: Aug. 19; No. of Shows: 1

3) Lady GaGa
Gross Sales: $2,410,086; Venue: T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas; Attendance: 15,893; Ticket Range: $350-$55.14; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Aug. 11; No. of Shows: 1

4) Shawn Mendes
Gross Sales: $1,600,160; Venue: Air Canada Centre, Toronto; Attendance: 27,972; Ticket Range: $69.28-$39.02; Promoter: Messina Touring Group; Dates: Aug. 11-12; No. of Shows: 2

5) Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
Gross Sales: $1,491,744; Venue: Rogers Arena, Vancouver, British Columbia; Attendance: 14,455; Ticket Range: $139.42-$31.87; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Aug. 17; No. of Shows: 1

1) Ed Sheeran
Gross Sales: $1,970,116; Venue: Infinite Energy Arena, Duluth, Ga.; Attendance: 21,055; Ticket Range: $99.50-$39.50; Promoter: Messina Touring Group; Dates: Aug. 25-26; No. of Shows: 2

2) Jerry Seinfeld
Gross Sales: $1,278,707; Venue: Brisbane (Australia) Entertainment Centre; Attendance: 10,007; Ticket Range: $162.03-$64.78; Promoter: TEG Dainty; Dates: Aug. 9; No. of Shows: 1

3) Neil Diamond
Gross Sales: $946,313; Venue: Valley View Casino Center, San Diego; Attendance: 9,430; Ticket Range: $149.50-$49.50; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Aug. 8; No. of Shows: 1

4) J. Cole
Gross Sales: $882,578; Venue: Infinite Energy Arena, Duluth, Ga.; Attendance: 10,068; Ticket Range: $99.50-$29.50; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Aug. 11; No. of Shows: 1

5) Lionel Richie with Very Special Guest Mariah Carey
Gross Sales: $646,769; Venue: Infinite Energy Arena, Duluth, Ga.; Attendance: 7,974; Ticket Range: $500-$39.95; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Aug. 13; No. of Shows: 1

1) Britney Spears
Gross Sales: $2,248,513; Venue: The Axis at Planet Hollywood, Las Vegas; Attendance: 12,612; Ticket Range: $495-$54; Promoter: Caesars Entertainment; Dates: Aug. 9-12; No. of Shows: 3

2) Jerry Seinfeld
Gross Sales: $2,012,827; Venue: ICC Sydney Theatre; Attendance: 15,982; Ticket Range: $162.03-$64.78; Promoter: TEG Dainty; Dates: Aug. 11; No. of Shows: 2

3) Britney Spears
Gross Sales: $1,763,591; Venue: The Axis at Planet Hollywood, Las Vegas; Attendance: 10,641; Ticket Range: $495-$54; Promoter: Caesars Entertainment; Dates: Aug. 16-19; No. of Shows: 3

4) Britney Spears
Gross Sales: $1,702,986; Venue: The Axis at Planet Hollywood, Las Vegas; Attendance: 10,914; Ticket Range: $495-$54; Promoter: Caesars Entertainment; Dates: Aug. 23-26; No. of Shows: 3

5) Pitbull
Gross Sales: $833,604; Venue: The Axis at Planet Hollywood, Las Vegas; Attendance: 9,391; Ticket Range: $495-$34; Promoter: Caesars Entertainment, Live Nation; Dates: Aug. 2-5; No. of Shows: 3

1) The Who
Gross Sales: $3,958,374; Venue: The Colosseum at Caesars Palace, Las Vegas; Attendance: 20,014; Ticket Range: $500-$75; Promoter: AEG Presents, Caesars Entertainment; Dates: July 29-Aug. 11; No. of Shows: 6

2) Motown The Musical
Gross Sales: $984,126; Venue: Durham (N.C.) Performing Arts Center; Attendance: 20,015; Ticket Range: $140-$20; Promoter: PFM, Nederlander Presentations (New York), Motown USA Tour; Dates: Aug. 1-6; No. of Shows: 8

3) Steve Miller Band, Peter Frampton
Gross Sales: $301,492; Venue: The Colosseum at Caesars Palace, Las Vegas; Attendance: 3,065; Ticket Range: $150-$59.50; Promoter: AEG Presents, Caesars Entertainment; Dates: Aug. 8; No. of Shows: 1

4) Donny & Marie
Gross Sales: $226,751; Venue: The Showroom at The Flamingo, Las Vegas; Attendance: 2,461; Ticket Range: $283-$104; Promoter: Caesars Entertainment; Dates: Aug. 8-12; No. of Shows: 5

5) Idina Menzel
Gross Sales: $200,630; Venue: Chicago Theatre; Attendance: 2,973; Ticket Range: $126-$36; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Aug. 12; No. of Shows: 1

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


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Granger Moves To Detroit
Posted: 29 Aug 2017, 2:00 pm

2915d72.jpgChris Granger.

Chris Granger has been hired by Ilitch Holdings, Inc., the company behind the new Little Caesars Arena, Detroit, as group president for sports and entertainment.

Granger left his position as president of the National Basketball Association's (NBA) Sacramento (Calif.) Kings in June. He was in charge of the business operations of the team and led the effort to build the Kings’ new arena, Golden 1 Center, which opened in October 2016.

Granger said he will work with Chris Ilitch, president and CEO of Ilitch Holdings, “to optimize the fan and partner experience at all Ilitch-related venues; to grow, recruit and retain the significant talent in the business side of the company's sports and entertainment organizations; and to collaborate with partners to ensure highly active, attractive and community-focused venues."

Prior to this, Granger had had a 14-year career as an executive in the NBA's league offices where he led the team marketing and business operations, advising NBA, Women’s National Basketball League (WNBA) and NBA Development League teams on all aspects of business operations, including ticket, suite and digital sales, sponsor development, customer retention and marketing.

"I'm excited to join Ilitch Holdings at this unprecedented period of growth and opportunity," said Granger. "This organization knows how to do things right for fans, partners and the community, and I look forward to contributing to the dynamic, transformative and impactful work underway."

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New College Football Food Brings the Meat
Posted: 28 Aug 2017, 7:00 pm

Spectra's marinated sirloin steak beef kabobs served with ale battered sidewinder fries are part of the new food offerings at Jones AT&T Stadium, Lubbock, Texas.

A fresh perspective on the 2017 college football season led Spectra by Comcast Spectacor to create new food concepts for rollout at 11 different stadiums across the country.

With the 60,000-capacity Jones AT&T Stadium, Lubbock, Texas, on the campus of Texas Tech University leading the way, Spectra not only created new items for the Red Raiders fans, but branched the offerings across teams in the Big 12, Big Sky, Missouri Valley, Atlantic Coast Conference, Mountain West, Southeastern Conference, American Athletic Conference and Gulf South Conference in preparation to serve more than two million college football fans this fall.

“Whether it is a new stadium or an existing stadium, at Spectra, our culinary experts are innovators who take great pride in introducing new items that engage our customers,” said Scott Swiger, Spectra vice president of culinary excellence. “We collaborate with our chefs throughout the company to share ideas and successes and often times put new spins on traditional college football fare. We also seek opportunities to use locally sourced ingredients and partner with well-known establishments at all of our Spectra food properties to help us build excitement around our new menu items and concepts.”

Jones AT&T Stadium offers the largest event space for the Spectra stadiums, so the company went meaty for the new offerings, set to debut Sept. 2. Included in the mix is a barbecue brisket sandwich, smoked for 16 hours using a mix of Texas pecan wood and cherry wood in a tangy, bold barbecue sauce and topped with onions, pickles and jalapenos on a hot bun. The bratwurst sandwich features a giant Jonesville bratwurst served on a heated hoagie bun topped with sautéed onions and bell peppers. Jones AT&T will also have chicken fajitas, a chicken or beef skewer and a one-third-pound sriracha onion burger with deep-fried onions and slaw mixed with sriracha sauce.

As Colorado State University opened Colorado State Stadium, Fort Collins, Colorado, this past weekend, a brand-new 41,000-capacity venue that brings football onto campus for the first time, Spectra had a chance to create an entirely new menu for the venue, an opportunity for chefs to have “fun reinventing and putting their clever twist to classic favorites, as well as partnering with local vendors and adding several new concepts.”


Spectra's sriracha burger, a 1/3 angus patty topped with lettuce, tomato, house made sriracha sauce and fried onions is on the menu at Jones AT&T Stadium, Lubbock, Texas.

Spectra offers a Linebacker Burger, featuring a one-third-pound burger topped with a sausage patty, pulled pork, sidewinder fries and a smoky sauce; a Pitkin Pigskin, featuring a bratwurst served inside a baked potato and topped with sour cream, cheese and bacon crumbles; and a barbecue brisket sandwich topped with homemade slaw and a side of house kettle chips. The fun didn’t stop there as Sepctra created sweet potato tots with a vanilla maple glaze, a Mountain Man Burger that uses local wild game—elk, venison, boar, wild bison and antelope—from vendor House of Smoke, a variety of dogs (mac & cheese, taco and pretzel), a Green & Gold Super Salad and a Colorado Nacho, a spiral-cut fry topped with Fat Tire queso, chopped bacon, jalapeno crema and green onions.

"Every fan that walks into a new stadium is a new customer,” Swiger said. “They expect everything to be new and that includes food concepts and menus as they acclimate themselves to their new college football environment."

Spectra also created themed concession stands to honor the history of Northern Colorado and CSU, including Fort Fryery and Mount Mac, featuring a variety of topped macaroni options. The Cam’Tina serves Mexican-inspired dishes.

Colorado State Stadium offers alcohol with the Fort Collins-headquartered New Belgium brewery sponsoring one of the main areas within the stadium. Spectra presented numerous selections from New Belgium and Coors, headquartered in nearby Bolden, Colorado. The selections include Fat Tire, Old Aggie, Belgian White, Citradelic, Voodoo Ranger, Coors Light and Coors Banquet.

"Before the start of college football season, our culinary experts from our 11 college football accounts reviewed menus from other properties, as well as customer feedback to inspire new ideas to introduce this season at all of our properties,” Swiger said. “We also recently hosted our first Culinary Innovation Summit in Chicago, where our chefs competed in a Top Chef-style competition to create new signature items which we hope to introduce throughout the season."


Chicken kabobs, marinated in teriyaki sauce and a blend of spices, served with ale battered sidewinder fries, are part of the new college football food being served at Jones AT&T Stadium, Lubbock, Texas.

Across the country those ideas move into Jones AT&T Stadium; Colorado State Stadium; Alerus Center, Grand Forks, N.D. (University of North Dakota); Fargodome, Fargo, N.D. (North Dakota State); BB&T Field, Winston-Salem, N.C. (Wake Forest); Vanderbilt Stadium, Nashville, Tenn. (Vanderbilt); Plaster Sports Complex, Springfield, Mo.(Missouri State); Spectrum Stadium, Orlando, Fla. (Central Florida); Blue Wahoos Stadium, Pensacola, Fla. (West Florida); Liberty Bowl, Memphis, Tenn. (Memphis); and Pratt & Whitney Stadium at Rentschler Field, Hartford, Conn. (University of Connecticut).

With fresh perspectives across the country, from Texas to Colorado, another example comes from Connecticut where the Randy Edsall Burrito Bowl features chicken or seasoned beef with Spanish rice, black beans shredded cheese and sour cream. The Husky Burger includes crispy bacon, egg and cheese, while the fall menu now also includes a loaded baked potato, Mexi bratwurst, fried pickle chips, bacon jalapeno mac & cheese and chowder pot clam chowder.

By naming the bowl after the coach, it falls into a Spectra desire, Swiger said, to tie food items to those connected to the school or region while incorporating local culture and geography into the presentation. “Fans quickly gravitate toward these items due to name recognition,” Swiger said, “and want to try them.”

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Pinnacle Lands Birch Run
Posted: 28 Aug 2017, 6:00 pm

Birch Run (Mich.) Expo Center will now be operated by Pinnacle Venue Management.

Pinnacle Venue Management has taken over operating duties at Birch Run (Mich.) Expo Center. Owned by GVB Development Group, the new three-year deal hopes to see increased entertainment options.

The 109,000-sq.-ft. multipurpose venue includes two exhibition halls and 15 acres of outdoor space. The center hosts events including trade shows, concerts, sporting events, banquets, corporate events and weddings. Birch Run is located in Saginaw County, a part of the Great Lakes Bay Region.

BREC_-_TheLoft.pngThe Loft is the VIP space at Birch Run (Mich.) Expo Center.

“We’ve been running the expo center in-house since 2001," said Sam Rice, EVP, GVB Development Group. “We’ve done everything we think we can do with our current connections and know-how, and we really want to take the building to the next level; it has a lot of potential and our expectations are higher.”

The building previously had a short stint with SMG management in the early half of the 2000s, which Rice said “did not work out as we hoped.” Pinnacle’s deal involves a fee plus incentives.

The agreement with Pinnacle went very quickly. “We started talks in May and signed the deal last week (in August),” said Rice, who added that there are options in place for further Pinnacle management services beyond the initial three-year period.

The main objective for hiring the management firm was to grow the entertainment event side of the business, said Rice. “We want more concerts, more family shows and more activity,” he said. Birch Run currently hosts around 150 events a year and has 3,000 capacity for concerts.

“Weekend consumer shows are our bread-and-butter,” said Rice. “Our struggle, like many facilities, is weekdays and summers and we expect Pinnacle will do a great job in filling those dates.”

“We are excited about our new partnership with the GVB Development Group,” said Doug Higgons, managing partner, Pinnacle. “With the location of the venue and the available space, it has great potential, and we are eager to get started.  Our team has an aggressive plan for the venue that we know will help to make a positive impact in the community.”

“We have a vision to make the facility much more multipurpose,” explained Higgons. “We have no doubts we can improve the bottom line.”

Higgons said Pinnacle planned to use their relationships in the touring industry to beef up events.

Pinnacle was picked after Apex Marketing Group, which is selling the naming rights for Birch Run, recommended them. “We were very impressed with Pinnacle,” said Rice. “Their main focus is our type of building, which is a small-to-midsize in a secondary market. What they do is right in our wheelhouse and we believe we won’t just become a small fish in their pool of buildings. Pinnacle is a newer company and we think we are getting in on the ground level.”

Rice said they already have several bidders for the naming rights, and he expects a deal to be achieved in the next three to six months. “The sooner the better,” said Higgons.

The building is currently going through a 60-day transition process in which, “they Pinnacle-ize the building,” said Rice, adding that most of the transition process involves evaluating the current staff. Bobby Gendren is the current GM and has been with Birch Run for a year-and-a-half.

Higgons said that Pinnacle will make the staffing decisions in the next three weeks and expects “at least one or two new faces to join the staff” and he envisions the fresh hires to Birch Run to come from the current Pinnacle fold.

Food and beverage is run in-house with no plans for change. “We were impressed with Pinnacle’s food and beverage history, and we’ll go with whatever recommendations they have for our food and beverage program,” said Rice. Higgons said the current plan is to keep concessions in-house and “improve the operations by putting our systems in place.”

Higgons expects to see a new level of activity at the venue by winter. “We’re already out there looking for programming,” he said.

“The industry experience and relationships Pinnacle is bringing to Birch Run is a game changer for the center,” added Rice. “We are ecstatic with our new partnership and know it’s a win-win for the facility and community.”


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NASCAR Streaming An Inside Job
Posted: 23 Aug 2017, 5:00 pm

(Editors note: This story first appeared in

NASCAR fans will be able to keep up with their favorite drivers this playoff season by watching a livestream of the race broadcast from inside the car.

The “ride along” video, which will be hosted on Twitter, is meant to be part of a second-screen experience that will complement NASCAR’s overall race coverage.

Fans will get an up-close look at the driver’s point of view during all 10 races of the 2017 NASCAR Cup Series playoffs, with one car being featured per race. 

While in-car streams have been done before, with driver Tony Stewart streaming his final race of the 2016 season on Facebook Live, this announcement marks a more united approach from both Twitter and NASCAR that will span multiple weeks across NASCAR’s pool of drivers. Twitter is even sponsoring the series, with Toyota Motor signing on to sponsor the first race at Chicagoland Speedway.

Twitter has been among the digital companies fighting for sports rights as consumers cut the cable cord and look for more affordable ways to consume sports. While Twitter lost one of its biggest simulcast deals this year — the streaming rights for Thursday Night Football to Amazon — it has been working on creating second-screen experiences that can be consumed alongside traditional broadcasts.

For what it's worth, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has said paying for live sports streaming is not a part of the company’s long-term goal.

The first race of the NASCAR Cup Series, held at Chicagoland Speedway Sept.17, will be broadcast on NBC. The in-car camera stream can be found on NASCAR’s official Twitter feed, accessible to fans whether or not they have a Twitter account, as well as on NASCAR Drive and NASCAR Mobile.

“Through the in-car camera live-stream on Twitter, our fans will have another compelling vantage point of the NASCAR Playoffs, where the energy and intensity of stage racing will be elevated to a whole new level,” Steve Phelps, Chief Global Sales and Marketing Officer at NASCAR, said in a statement.

Alongside the streams, Twitter will aggregate top tweets about the race.

NASCAR has been experimenting with ways to enhance the fan-viewing experience as it struggles with a decline in younger fans.

And starting this season, NASCAR began allowing drivers to wear devices by a select number of approved brands to track their biometrics during races. Some drivers, including Jamie McMurray and Jimmie Johnson, have used the data to improve their workout regimen and to show fans the level of their physical output during races.


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Bert Ogden Arena Nears Completion
Posted: 23 Aug 2017, 4:00 pm

Bert Ogden Arena, Edinburg, Texas, will open in the first quarter of 2018.

The new $82-million Bert Ogden Arena is the latest addition to Edinburg, Texas, which recently saw the opening of a 17,000-seat soccer stadium (20,000 GA floor) and 2,500-capacity amphitheater, both housed in HEB Park, creating a new entertainment hub for South Texas.

The new arena will see a 7,700-fixed seat capacity arena with another 1,300-flexible seats and will be the home of the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, a National Basketball Association G-League team and Houston Rockets affiliates. The arena is also working on a partnership with the University of Texas, Rio Grande Valley, to host its basketball games.

The venue will also host concerts, family shows, comedy, rodeos and local graduations.

The Rio Grande Valley sets on the border with Mexico and is the largest border community in Texas, with a population of 1.2 million, 89-percent Hispanic. Cantu Entertainment Group is the principal investor for HEB Park and the new arena.

“This arena was built to improve the quality of life of our community,” said Alonzo Cantu, owner, Cantu Entertainment Group and Management Company. “This arena is about civic pride and is an economic engine that will create jobs for South Texas.”

Cantu said that the arena is “designed to deliver exceptional live performances and revitalize our community through sports and live entertainment events. Our residents no longer have to travel to different cities to see superior quality events but can enjoy them in their own backyards.”

This new facility is a public/private partnership with the City of Edinburg. “The City of Edinburg really stepped up to the plate and saw the value that an arena of this caliber would bring to the city and the surrounding communities,” said Cantu.

Three very important elements were taken into consideration throughout the planning of the arena: the culinary experience, comfort and technology, according to Cantu.

The first of those elements is going to be met by partnering with Luby’s Culinary Services for Bert Ogden Arena food and beverage services. “We’re going to have five-star, quality concessions with modernized time-honored eats,” said Cantu. “Luby’s is bringing restaurant-quality dining from its base of award-winning restaurants. Clients will work directly with Luby’s Culinary to create custom menus or choose one of their innovative "Chef's Tables" concepts to create a unique dining experience.”

The menu offers regional favorites and well-known specialties such as Fuddruckers, Edinburg Fiesta, Hill Country BBQ, Italian Buffet and Sushi Bar. Snacks will include Vipers Nachos, Spiropapas, popcorn and more. A large variety of wines and domestic and imported beer will also be on sale.

The second element, comfort, will see innovative chairs that will be a spacious 48 inches from front to back to allow for more comfortable movement. “I went from arena to arena to find the best, most comfortable seating possible,” said Cantu. “These seats are more like theater-seating than traditional hard-back arena seats.”

Technology is being addressed with a state-of-the-art scoreboard and lighting.

“Alonzo Cantu is a visionary and has done great things for his community,” said Rene Borrego, CEO, Bert Ogden Arena. “This Arena is much bigger than basketball; the Bert Ogden Arena will meet the growing needs of South Texas and the community's appetite for sporting, live music events and stage shows.”

“Mr. Cantu and the management team wanted to ensure that this arena was more than bricks and mortar and that the infrastructure was an investment in human interaction,” he said.

Marty Hinojosa, Cantu Construction, is the architect, and got involved in 2013. Designs were ready by early 2015 and construction started about a year ago. It’s expected to open in the first quarter of 2018.

Progress has been steady, with the arena’s first of two steel roof trusses, perhaps the most visible feature of the property, already in place. “Each truss is the size of a football field, measuring 305 feet, double the height of an overpass, and weighing a combined 700 tons,” she said.

A complete installation of water, sewer and storm drainage had to be created underneath the 212,000-sq.-ft. parcel of land the arena is built on, and all the utilities had to be run below the expressway next to it.

“The challenge of that parcel of land is it had no utilities at all,” said Hinojosa. “It had been an agricultural site.”

Hinojosa also mentioned that the arena is “energy efficient, using energy-saving lighting and air conditioning.”

Nearly 90 percent of the construction contracts were awarded to local companies, vendors, contractors and sub-contractors.

Bert Ogden Auto Group, a local car dealership, secured the naming rights in an undisclosed deal. There will be retail shops attached to the arena and a parcel of land has been created for a future hotel.

“The mixed-use development will provide great economic impact and a tremendous opportunity for the Rio Grande Valley,” said Cantu. “Combined with HEB Park just a few miles down the road, we’re building blocks to elevate the Valley experience by attracting more restaurants, more retail, more residents and more businesses,” added Cantu. “This is not just a stadium and arena and retail; it’s a community gathering place.”


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Tornado Didn’t Topple Erie Fair
Posted: 23 Aug 2017, 2:00 pm

A tornado nearly toppled Erie (N.Y.) County Fair three weeks before it opened; fairgoers came out in near-record numbers to see the $3 million in damage.

The upside to a tornado that takes place three weeks before the fair opens and causes $3-million in damage is the number of fairgoers who want to check out the grounds. Attendees who turned out in near-record numbers that gave the Erie County Fair in Hamburg, N.Y., its second-highest gate in history found a facility that had been patched up and was ready to go.

Attendance was 1,193,279, compared to last year’s 983,000, said CEO Denny Lang.

“We were the topic of discussion for two weeks,” he said. However, it was not enough to make up for the $3-million in damage and the fair will have to dip into its rainy-day fund to pay for repairs to the roofs of several buildings, including the East Grandstand, which was undergoing renovations and was 80-percent complete when the July 19 tornado hit.

The roof “was completely ripped off the structure,” he said. The tornado was rated an EF-2 on the Enhanced Fujita scale, Lang said.

Additionally, 250 cars were totaled, including those of three employees, and others suffered a great deal of damage. Fifty trees also were destroyed. “Basically what we did is emergency repairs,” Lang said. “Now that the fair is over, we will go back and restructure it all and replace roofs. We patched things up before the fair and now we have to go in and replace it.”

The fair had insurance but it will not cover tree debris removal, plus the facility has to ante up for two pricey deductibles, Lang said. The tornado struck at 12:30 p.m. and there was a horse show going on at the time, plus the on-site Hamburg Gaming had 2,000 people inside. No people or horses were injured, Lang said.

By the time the Aug. 9-20 fair rolled around, fairgoers were ready to have fun and ride grosses were up 17 percent in spite of the tornado as well as a deadly Fireball accident at the Ohio State Fair in Columbus that Lang says affected carnival presales that took place at Tops Friendly Markets.

The Orlando, Fla.-based James E. Strates Shows placed about 70 rides on the midway, Lang said, although not the KMG-produced Fireball, which is out of commission by order of the manufacturer for now, Lang said. Fairgoers could purchase pay-one-price wristbands that cost $25 on weekdays and $40 on weekends.

People were very concerned about the Ohio State Fair ride accident, Lang said. “That’s what everyone wanted to talk about, the tornado and the ride accident. But once they got into fair-mode, they were not worrying about the accident.”

The fair puts on a mix of ticketed and free concerts in the 7,000-seat Gusto Grandstand, sponsored by the Buffalo News. Paid concerts ranged in price from $25 to $60.

The ticketed show featuring Jeff Foxworthy and Larry the Cable Guy did well, but singer/songwriter Jason Derulo was soft, Lang said. Rock of the 70s and Happy Together, both ticketed, also did well.

KISS tribute Mr. Speed and the double bill of John Conlee and the Bellamy Brothers, both free acts, were both well-attended. The fair also offered five nights of demolition derbies, tractor pulls and motocross.

Gate admission cost $10, which has been the same for the past eight years, Lang said. Children under the age of 12 got in for free. Lang declined to disclose budgets and revenue figures, noting that the private fair does not give out that information. The year-round budget is $8 million.

These days, marketing focuses more on social media and less on newspapers, television and radio, Lang said. Holly Smyczynski, the fair’s marketing manager, said that in addition to Facebook and Instagram, the fair used Snapchat this year for the first time.

The app that fairgoers could use for the past four years to navigate the grounds, as well as the food choices, continued to grow in popularity, Lang added. Smyczynski also noted that the app allowed fairgoers to, among other things, vote for their favorite new fair foods.

“Each August, we gain an average of 7,000 new users and the average amount of page views is over 1 million,” Smyczynski said.

The new foods included Italian Sausage Lollipops, Homemade Kettle Corn Ice Cream, Crab Stuffed Mushroom Pierogis, deep-fried ricotta-battered doughnuts drizzled with Nutella, Stuffed Hot Pepper Mac & Cheese, Deer Burger Deluxe and Balsamic Bruschetta on Rustic Flatbread. The pierogis sold the best, Smyczynski added. Food and drink revenues were up 8.7 percent, Lang noted.

Parking at the 265-acre grounds costs $5 a-car and in addition to the 12,000 on-site parking spots, the fair leases property across the street that handles another 8,000 vehicles, Lang said.

Next year’s dates will be Aug. 8-19. That event will be managed by new CEO Jessica Underberg, who will be taking the reins from the retiring Lang on Jan. 1. Underberg has served as the assistant manager for the past five years and has worked at the fairgrounds for 20 years, Lang said.

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Marquee Club Staffs Up
Posted: 22 Aug 2017, 5:30 pm


Alfredo Rodriguez.

The Fox Theatre, Atlanta, has staffed its new Marquee Club presented by Lexus.

Alfredo Rodriguez is the new executive chef and Paul Delgado will be the Club Manager of the new premium space.

Rodriguez will oversee the Marquee Club’s menu development and food and beverage operations for the 250 plus events housed at the Fox Theatre. Rodriguez brings nearly 20 years of eclectic culinary experience including positions at high volume destinations such as Walt Disney World Resorts, Orlando, and California Center for the Arts, Escondido.  Most recently, Rodriguez was the chef at Emilio and Gloria Estefan’s restaurant Oriente at the Cardozo Hotel, Miami.  A native of Puerto Rico, Rodriguez graduated from the New England Culinary Institute, Montpelier, Vt., with a bachelor degree in culinary arts.

08-23-17_Management-Paul_Delgado-200x145.jpgPaul Delgado.

Delgado will oversee all Marquee Club operations, including hiring and training staff, coordinating vendors, and managing budgets. With nearly 20 years of hospitality experience on his resume, Delgado’s varied history includes time with Walt Disney World Resort’s Magic Kingdom Theme Park, Orlando, and Ruth’s Chris Steak House at both Harrah’s Casino, N.C. and Atlanta’s Centennial Park location.

Slated to open fall 2017, the Marquee Club will be a premier membership club with over 10,000 square feet of premium space, which is accessible only for ticketed guests of Fox Theatre events with an annual membership or a single-event pass. The Marquee Club will be open before and during Fox Theatre events, as well as immediately after select events.


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Hot Tickets for August 23, 2017
Posted: 22 Aug 2017, 4:00 pm

Ed Sheeran, arguably one of the world’s most popular male solo artists, is currently making his way through the North American leg of his ÷ tour (pronounced 'divide tour') promoting his new album ÷. Sheeran, along with his opening act James Blunt, made a stop at Staples Center, Los Angeles, for a three-night, sold-out run, Aug. 10-12, grossing over $3.6 million with ticket prices ranging from $40-$100. Armed with only an acoustic guitar and a loop pedal, the one-man band charmed over 40,000 fans and continues to grow in popularity with each passing performance. Coming up this week, Sheeran will be making a two-night appearance at Infinite Energy Center, Duluth, Ga., Aug. 25-26.

IleSoniq, one of Canada’s most in-demand music festivals, took place Aug. 11-12, at Parc Jean Drapeau, Montreal, overlooking abundant vegetation and rolling hills. The fourth annual electronic dance festival brought in an attendance of 55,000 and grossed nearly $4 million. Some of IleSoniq’s headliners included Tiesto, Porter Robinson, Infected Mushroom and Damien Lazarus. Plans for IleSoniq 2018 are already in motion.

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 July 25-Aug. 22.

15,001 or More Seats

10,001-15,000 Seats

5,001-10,000 Seats

5,000 or Fewer Seats

1) Phish - The Baker’s Dozen
Gross Sales: $15,041,405; Venue: Madison Square Garden, New York; Attendance: 227,385; Ticket Range: $74-$54; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: July 21-Aug. 6; No. of Shows: 13

2) Coldplay
Gross Sales: $3,985,870; Venue: Bell Centre, Montreal; Attendance: 35,246; Ticket Range: $179.17-$23.49; Promoter: evenko, Live Nation; Dates: Aug. 8-9; No. of Shows: 2

3) IleSoniq 2017
Gross Sales: $3,812,775; Venue: Parc Jean-Drapeau, Montreal; Attendance: 54,707; Ticket Range: $211.02-$79.23; Promoter: evenko; Dates: Aug. 11-12; No. of Shows: 2

4) Ed Sheeran
Gross Sales: $3,622,203; Venue: Staples Center, Los Angeles; Attendance: 40,731; Ticket Range: $99.50-$39.50; Promoter: Messina Touring Group; Dates: Aug. 10-12; No. of Shows: 3

5) Neil Diamond
Gross Sales: $2,637,097; Venue: The Forum, Inglewood, Calif.; Attendance: 23,635; Ticket Range: $179.50-$49.50; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Aug. 10-12; No. of Shows: 2

1) Celine Dion
Gross Sales: $1,448,536; Venue: First Direct Arena, Leeds, England; Attendance: 8,897; Ticket Range: $186.50-$55.95; Promoter: AEG Presents, Concerts West, Marshall Arts; Dates: Aug. 2; No. of Shows: 1

2) Shawn Mendes
Gross Sales: $575,557; Venue: Infinite Energy Arena, Duluth, Ga.; Attendance: 9,832; Ticket Range: $67.50-$47.50; Promoter: Messina Touring Group; Dates: July 29; No. of Shows: 1

3) Matchbox Twenty, Counting Crows
Gross Sales: $447,596; Venue: Mandalay Bay Events Center, Las Vegas; Attendance: 6,145; Ticket Range: $125.50-$39.50; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: July 29; No. of Shows: 1

4) WWE Live!
Gross Sales: $155,275; Venue: Allen County War Memorial Coliseum, Fort Wayne, Ind.; Attendance: 4,277; Ticket Range: $100-$20; Promoter: Event Services, WWE; Dates: July 31; No. of Shows: 1

5) WWE Live!
Gross Sales: $152,905; Venue: Budweiser Gardens, London, Ontario; Attendance: 3,419; Ticket Range: $120-$20; Promoter: WWE; Dates: Aug. 6; No. of Shows: 1

1) Kenny Chesney
Gross Sales: $1,469,255; Venue: Mohegan Sun Arena, Uncasville, Conn.; Attendance: 14,313; Ticket Range: $125-$95; Promoter: In-house, Dale Morris & Associates; Dates: Aug. 10-11; No. of Shows: 2

2) Marco Antonio Solis
Gross Sales: $494,540; Venue: State Farm Arena, Hidalgo, Texas; Attendance: 5,213; Ticket Range: $150-$45; Promoter: First Row Productions; Dates: Aug. 11; No. of Shows: 1

3) Sigur Ros
Gross Sales: $392,271; Venue: Hordern Pavilion, Sydney; Attendance: 5,376; Ticket Range: $79.04; Promoter: Secret Sounds; Dates: July 25; No. of Shows: 1

4) RL Grime
Gross Sales: $387,875; Venue: Hordern Pavilion, Sydney; Attendance: 5,509; Ticket Range: $77.85; Promoter: We Are BBE; Dates: July 28; No. of Shows: 1

5) Echo & The Bunnymen
Gross Sales: $333,024; Venue: Pacific Amphitheatre, Costa Mesa, Calif.; Attendance: 7,899; Ticket Range: $62.50-$32.50; Promoter: In-house, OCFEC; Dates: July 29; No. of Shows: 1

1) Blondie, Garbage
Gross Sales: $216,777; Venue: Beacon Theatre, New York; Attendance: 2,774; Ticket Range: $144-$53.50; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Aug. 1; No. of Shows: 1

2) Buckingham McVie
Gross Sales: $141,683; Venue: Beacon Theatre, New York; Attendance: 2,961; Ticket Range: $119.50-$19; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Aug. 10; No. of Shows: 1

3) The Australian Pink Floyd Show
Gross Sales: $111,147; Venue: Place des Arts, Montreal; Attendance: 2,144; Ticket Range: $62.34-$34.90; Promoter: evenko; Dates: Aug. 6; No. of Shows: 1

4) Cloud 9
Gross Sales: $21,172; Venue: David A. Straz, Jr. Center for the Performing Arts, Tampa, Fla.; Attendance: 979; Ticket Range: $28-$14; Promoter: In-house; Dates: July 12-Aug. 6; No. of Shows: 17

5) Margaret Glaspy
Gross Sales: $5,680; Venue: Lincoln Hall, Chicago; Attendance: 284; Ticket Range: $20; Promoter: Jam Productions; Dates: July 26; No. of Shows: 1

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


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eSports Demands New Venue Design
Posted: 21 Aug 2017, 7:00 pm

Populous' rendering of the eSports arena of the future.

Hosting eSports differs from everything else already on the table. For an eSports event to work, though, gamers need a modern venue. Simply put, the newer the building the more likely it is to have technology capable of handling the massive influx of streaming data and to be built with the space to allow for festival-like activations.

With these events so young—and with so many groups and leagues just starting out and filling everything from small theaters to major arenas the world over—organizers must still experiment with what works. And that includes both ticketing and food and beverage.

“We’ve learned we have to have the right infrastructure,” said Craig Levine, CEO of ESL North America, one of the world’s largest eSports leagues. “High-speed internet, club levels laid out with an intimate feel, large concourses to activate sponsors and partners, it all helps create an experience that is more robust than just watching eSports for a couple of hours. For us, we are still building the circus within the arena.”

Think of eSports as a combination event that ties circus to music festival to sports. Instead of a field of play, eSports uses jumbotrons and high-definition screens so fans from any view have the right experience. Levine said bringing in the staging, sound and lighting needed for an event falls more in line with what you see from a rock concert.

“A core strategy for us is trying to establish it as a festival more than a match,” he said. To start, they select a game and then find a city where that game has a strong following. From there, they will select a venue, such as the DOTA 2 Championships in Seattle’s KeyArena. With events running eight-plus hours a day for two or three days, organizers need to program experiences throughout the venue and use wide concourses to activate. In Poland, where the Spodek Katowice venue draws over 170,000 folks over the course of an Intel Extreme Masters circuit, ESL has spilled into the adjacent expo hall and brought in food trucks to serve fans coming and going.

“A key driver of trying to establish a festival-type of presence is consistency in a market,” Levine said. “Go to the same market at the same time of year, year after year and we see a growth of attendance numbers.”

Levine said that just as in traditional concert or basketball events, eSports patrons enjoy the tiered approach, with people willing to pay more for premium access to suites, the floor or even players. “We are finding ways to optimize ticket revenue with different tiers with more distinct value propositions,” he said.

Food, though, may sit as the one area with the most exploration needed. As events grow in popularity, organizers have started to push for reentry privileges to allow patrons to visit neighborhood eateries. But both organizers and concessionaires would like to keep everyone inside the building.

Todd Merry, CMO of Delaware North, said the style of event means serving eSports falls in line with a tennis grand slam event or cricket, requiring the team think more in terms of a restaurant with daily specials and a menu that varies.

With the fans trending younger than other events in arenas—and the events themselves so young—patrons don’t have built-in expectations when entering arenas. “I rarely eat hot dogs or peanuts, but I have both when I attend a baseball game,” Merry said. “I associate that with the experience and look forward to it. These eSports fans don't have that built-in Pavlovian response when they come for an eSports tournament and this means that we have the opportunity and obligation to not just default to the standard staples normally found at sporting events.”

As concessionaires learn what works in this new arena demographic, Merry said they’ve already noticed strong nuances within eSports. “The audience isn’t a homogenous, monolithic group,” he said. “We see there are differences between a Counter-Strike: Global Offensive audience and a DOTA 2 audience just like there are differences between hockey and basketball. Keeping that in mind is important and will be key to delivering the best possible experience.”

While the sport continues to form, the ESL model puts a focus on scarcity to drive up interest, allowing them to select a venue to descend on a few times per year. But not everybody has the same vision. Populous architect Brian Mirakian said we aren’t too far away from seeing purpose-built eSports arenas. “I have fielded so many calls over the last 18 months I can’t even tell you of interested people and some very advanced conversations of some things in the pipeline,” he said. “The more these events take place and fans are drawn to event experiences, it is only a matter of time before a purpose-built venue comes online.”

And he’s talking in grand scale, as we’ve already seen small, dedicated eSports spaces in Orange County, California, from Allied Esports, and a converted movie theater turning into Millennial Esports on the third floor of Neonopolis in Las Vegas.

But where the large-scale development happens remains to be seen, as eSports certainly hits a global tone, filling full-size arenas in North America, Asia, Europe and Australia. “I think ultimately where it is going to happen is where the most innovative thinking is and where the pioneers are,” Mirakian said. “If I had to venture a guess, you may see the first purpose-built venue in Asia, closely followed by the United States and Europe. The sport is still in its infancy, but the popularity is exploding.”

What will we get if purpose-built becomes the next wave? Flexibility to host eSports or concerts and more theatrically-based events. “The scalability of  it is going to be critically important,” Mirakian said. “Transformability is critically important. The real excitement and design challenge is thinking of the next generation consumer that inherently wants something very different from an event experience. The way they think about premium is a lot different, the way they think about food and beverage is different. There are a lot of different forces in play.”

Before we get the purpose built, we could start to see a shift  in current buildings  looking to turn more eSports-friendly by reconfiguring to offer scalability with such technology as mechanized ceilings that drop down from full house to half house.

Either way, understanding the formula for fan desires in an all-day event attracting those in the 18-to-35 demographic remains a work in progress. “Instead of beer sales, we are seeing a demand for things like energy drinks,” Mirakian said. Designers must rethink food and beverage, club space design, concourses with a focus on activation and not just circulation and even creating new spaces in the building to keep fans interested for long stretches. It all requires the ability to “rethink a lot of conventional practices.” Now, though, venue managers and designers have a real reason as eSports has offered venues an entirely new avenue to explore.

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Atlanta Stadium Serving Up a Feast Saturday
Posted: 21 Aug 2017, 7:00 pm

Local foods at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta, include the Chicken in a waffle bowl.

When the $1.5 billion Mercedes-Benz Stadium opens in Atlanta in Saturday for an exhibiton game, the largest new stadium to hit North America in years, the building’s operators will offer fans plenty of firsts. The Arthur M Blank Family of Businesses, which owns both the National Football League’s Atlanta Falcons and MLS’ Atlanta United, will show fans see an eight-piece retractable roof (though it will not be opening yet, remaining closed for the preseason), a five-story halo videoboard that dwarfs anything else ever seen in the world and a lot of food and beverage (F&B) options.

Much of the F&B will be made up of specialty items and will be available anywhere. There’s a strong mix of local fare on all three levels of concourse, not just at the 100 level. One of Atlanta’s most popular barbecue joints, Fox Bros Bar-B-Q, will operate a new concept in its 300-level stand. Kevin Gillespie, a Top Chef, will open a new French dip and chicken sandwich concept on the 200 level, and others will have operations on all three levels. Mike Gomes, senior vice president of fan experience for the Falcons, said to expect a balance, not only on the three concourses, but within each quadrant of each concourse to give as much variety as possible to fans in their “neighborhood,” while still having a few one-off finds peppered throughout the venue.

The Falcons brought in some of the most popular restaurants in the city, from Farm Burger to Jim N Nicks barbeque and The Varsity to Miss D’s Popcorn, Chick-fil-A, Bruster’s Real Ice Cream, Antico, Iberian Pig and plenty more. The prices fans pay for their local favorites are exactly the same as what they would pay at the restaurant outside Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

“Atlanta has a thriving cuisine, and it is a good mish-mash of old Southern with new up and coming vibrant city elements, so what we did for our local partners is we went to our fans,” Gomes said. “Arthur said 'I don’t care what you think is good;  I care what our fans think is good. We took a list and let fans choose who was the best in the city.”

Once the fans had spoken, the Falcons invited the restaurants into the building, free of charge, with the only requirements that they ensure quality matches their restaurant and they had to exactly mirror their restaurant prices. Over 15 local businesses have entered into the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium agreement.

When it comes to chicken inside the stadium, fans have some searching to do if on Sunday. The Chick-fil-A booth, closed on Sundays, won’t serve many Falcons games, but will be open to other events. In its place, a French fry stand will open on Sundays. For those wanting a chicken sandwich, look no further than the Closed-on-Sunday Chicken Sandwich from Kevin Gillespie, an obvious poke at Chick-fil-A. To complicate matters more, the Falcons have chosen Zaxby’s as the official chicken of the team, but you won’t find it sold inside the stadium. At least not yet.

On the beverage side, by moving the soda fountains outside the concession counter, it not only gives fans more control over their sodas, likely creating a better experience, but it also removes people from concession lines simply wanting a soda refill and removes time for workers who could otherwise be serving food.

Additionally, the stadium will feature four branded 360-degree bars with views of the bowl on the 100 level and four more on the 200 level with a 100-yard-long club open to anyone on the 300 level. The venue will offer 1,264 beer taps—up from 30 in the Georgia Dome—which they believe easily outpaces any stadium. The mix of options will include domestic, craft and European, all open as soon as the gates do and not subject to the Georgia state law that doesn’t allow the serving of alcohol before 12:30 p.m. on a Sunday.

“We looked at every one of those 1,264 taps to provide variety in each quadrant,” Gomes said. “Availability, accessibility and variety will be a huge hit for fans.” The operators of Mercedes-Benz Stadium hope that sentiment runs from beverage right through all food operations.

Fans will also witness something else that might give them complete shock. Fans will see $2 hot dogs. Then nachos for $3 and $2 sodas with the refillable stations outside—yes, outside—the concession counter, giving fans complete control over the all-you-can-drink concept.

“We want to move food and beverage from a guest dis-satisfier, as they begrudgingly shell out more (money) than they want for a level of quality they don’t know and literally transform it into something they look forward to,” said Gomes. “No longer are they avoiding the stadium.”

brisket_grilled_cheese_05.jpgBrisket Grilled Cheese at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta. 

As the stadium moves to “street pricing,” designed to have in-stadium food priced the same as it would cost elsewhere in Atlanta, Gomes said the pricing plan wouldn’t work if the venue wasn’t planned properly from the start with kitchen capacity, storage, point of sale and more. “We knew we were going to put in way more food and beverage capacity,” he said, “to make sure the quality, variety, freshness and ability do not run out. There was a lot of complex modeling to make sure the building and operation is ready to support fan-first pricing.”

During the stadium design process, the Falcons saw that food and beverage sat at the very bottom of every fan experience survey in the NFL. And possibly the entirety of sports. Fans not only didn’t enjoy, but outright disliked the price and quality. So instead of having an element in the new building that was the same as all the rest, the Falcons structured the contract to give them control over every aspect of the fan experience.

Instead of selling the building’s concession rights, which severs control over pricing and quality, the Falcons hired Levy Restaurants to operate the concessions for a set price, allowing Falcons owner Arthur Blank to control the prices while increasing point-of-sale locations 65 percent versus the Georgia Dome and cooking stations 55 percent. And this means the stadium operators have control over every event in the building, meaning your $2 hot dog remains the same for the Falcons, United or even when the Super Bowl and Final Four come to town in a few years.

Gomes said he expects people who otherwise wouldn’t have purchased food may do so now and folks who did buy food before may buy even more. “That is what we are really going to have to very quickly watch,” he says. “We need to quickly take in behavioral patterns. The intent isn’t to change pricing, but to make sure operations are ready to satisfy the guests. Our intent is not to let quality slip.”

po_boy_04.jpgThe Po Boy sandwhich featured in Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta.

And while the low-price food serves as one key element, the Falcons tried to do something else in food and beverage that will extend across every ticket holder: access.

“A $2 hot dog gets you excited because of the price,” Gomes said. “It will be a really good hot dog, but it is still a hot dog. We wanted to make sure we pursued specialty items and fan-first pricing model extends across that.”

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Colorado State Rams Open $220-Million Venue
Posted: 21 Aug 2017, 6:00 pm

Colorado State University's new stadium.

When the Colorado State University Rams open the football season Saturday, Aug. 26, they will not only debut a new season, but christen a brand-new on-campus stadium.

Colorado State Stadium, Fort Collins, brings football back to campus, remakes the southern entrance to campus and opens up a variety of entertainment and academic opportunities at the multipurpose venue.

The $220-million stadium was designed by Populous as an open-air entertainment, academic and training destination. It seats 41,000 for football (10,000 are set aside for students) and other events, but also features a porch on the north side for events and includes an 80,000-square-foot alumni and academic center integrated into the east side of the venue. Plus, the entire football operations program has moved into the new stadium, from a training center, to meeting rooms and sports medicine to offices.

Myron Chase, Populous project manager on the stadium, said that from a design perspective, that even with a football-sized seating bowl, the new stadium falls in line with the mid-century modern architecture style of horizontal and vertical planes seen across campus buildings while mixing in plenty of Colorado sandstone, the primary material found on campus.

“Mid-century modern presents some challenges,” he said. “You have to contend with the seating bowl and not necessarily hide that, but mask it with a façade we wouldn’t typically do. It was a challenge, but I think we were successful carrying that style of architecture into the stadium.”

Chase used sandstone at key locations, especially entrances, most predominately a 110-foot-tall sandstone wall at the premium entrance that he says unifies the west façade.

Connecting to the existing campus was important, but simply bringing folks onto campus offers an opportunity to reshape the southern edge of campus that wasn’t available previously. Populous designed the venue on 17.5 acres with an axis on Meridian Avenue to connect toward the recreation fields and the interior of campus. The positioning also allows for views to the mountains.

“Playing football on campus provides the largest engagement opportunity for the university six times each year,” said Joe Parker, director of athletics. “Alumni who come to football games will be back on campus, walking in the same places they walked as students and showing their families this beautiful campus. Something that is very exciting is to see people experience the stadium for the first time in person and to see that something very special has been built here. The engagement is beneficial for the entire university, and it’s a campus- and community-wide point of pride and celebration.”

Inside, the premium spaces—a typical mix of 23 open-air suites, three clubs and 224 loge boxes—includes the premium tower in the west with views onto the mountains. The field club, since renamed the Orthopaedic & Spine Center of the Rockies Field Club, was university-requested and places a club on the field. The patio-like setting gives fans access to view the game from the field and watch the entrance and exit of the team.

With 270-degree views from the concourse, Chase said they tried to keep fans connected to the energy of the game at all points while upgrading everything from point-of-sale to restrooms and retail space to concessions versus what fans were accustomed to at the now-closed 50-year-old Hughes Stadium, off campus four miles away.

While the student advising and counseling and academic areas—a total of about 60,000 square feet—located under the east concourse don’t have a direct tie to the stadium, the 23,000-sq.-ft. alumni center does, ideally allowing the university the opportunity for pre-event programming and giving alumni a dedicated entrance into the venue on game days. It can also host events when football isn’t in town.

By moving the entire football program into the stadium, Chase said they found there wasn’t a simple way to get natural light into the coaching offices, so they made a way by creating a coach’s patio in the northwest corner. The cutout in the bowl gives the head coach views to the field and offers coaching personnel access to the patio. While not an in-game ticket, it provides a quirk to the design.

One area that has already garnered plenty of attention is the New Belgium Porch, which wasn’t added into the build until nine months ago. Located on the north end, football game ticketholders can purchase an add-on to gain entrance to the two bars in the standing-room-only space. Plus, the plaza can open to the campus and community on nongame days, a “unique feature that provides fans a different game-day experience” that can be used on a year-round basis, Parker said.

The university has employed a stadium events manager since September 2016 who has already scheduled 100 events through the end of the calendar year, including a wedding on site July 3 and three uses of the plaza in the first two weeks since opening prior to this weekend’s football game.

None of those events will prove more important than the Aug. 26 football game in Colorado State Stadium, an event that gives special meaning to a “home” game and something Colorado State University hasn’t ever experienced.


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Security Takes A Village
Posted: 21 Aug 2017, 6:00 pm

CNN's Philip Mudd; Prevent Advisor's Michael Downing and Bill Bratton; Michael Ferris, CEO, Abacode and the NFL's David McCain on the security panel at VenuesNow. (Photo Credit: Rich Fury)

REPORTING FROM BEVERLY HILLS, CALIF.—Venue security has been top-of-mind for facility managers around the world for many years now. It was given new urgency following the suicide bombing at Manchester (U.K.) Arena last May. Being prepared, having policies in place and following through on those policies are the keys, according to experts gathered at the VenuesNow conference here  last month.

“Who would have thought that a character sitting in a cave in Pakistan in the 90s, Osama bin Laden, would shape all of our lives?” asked Bill Bratton, executive chairman, Prevent Advisors, the venue security division of Oak View Group.

“We’re living in extraordinary times...times we did not anticipate when we moved into the 21st Century,” he said. “When this century started, Y2K was the big security threat. Now, an idea that was formed thousands of years ago, Islamic Radicalism, is the world’s biggest threat.”

Bratton said new technology is allowing the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and other terror groups to stay one step ahead of law enforcement and pointed to social media as one of the biggest threats to venue security. “These groups are recruiting tens of thousands of soldiers using social media. With all these people running around, we cannot protect everything, everywhere, all the time. But with prioritization and capabilities, we can try to predict and prevent.”

“The threat is real; it’s evolving quickly and we can’t do it by ourselves,” said Michael Downing, EVP security, Prevent Advisors, who believes the threats “will get worse before they get better” and that the current threat is generational and will play out for decades.

Bratton said the main challenge for venue security is “taking the uncertainty in today’s world and turning it into certainty,” and stressed that, “the conversation should be revolving around understanding that law enforcement cannot be counted on to save the day.”

Downing also believes the government can’t do it alone and venues have to look to experts for solid advice. “It’s not a matter of if; it’s a matter of when,” he warned, “but we can do so much to create environments that are unattractive [to terrorists].”

Bratton talked about concentric circles of defense. There is local enforcement, state enforcement and federal enforcement, he said, and making sure they are cooperating is vital to protecting your venue. “Make sure your security chief  has a relationship with the chiefs of all the agencies. Stopping a terror act is often the result of everyone working together. We want layer upon layer upon layer protecting our venues.”

“The government is your partner,” said David McCain, security services, National Football League (NFL). “Having someone on your staff that has relationships with law enforcement is crucial.”

All venues need to look at their inner core and their outer core to deal with the asymmetric advisory we face, said Downing. “As Manchester showed us, you can have great security for ingress, and inside the facility, but without the same vigilance being paid to the areas surrounding the venue, a terrorist will see an opportunity.” All agreed that perimeter security was evolving and that perimeters need to be moved further back.

Trying to keep one step ahead of disruptors is challenging. “They know we are monitoring social media, so instead of writing things with key words we will pick up on, they are posting pictures with messages,” said McCain. “We catch a lot of it, but some of it is impossible to catch. So we all need to be prepared for dealing with what slips through the cracks.”

McCain believes in the ‘toolbox’ approach to security, which blends together the government, private and public sector contractors, business, and constant monitoring of social media platforms. “We can only catch the dumb ones,” he said. “The smart ones go dark and that makes this group the most difficult to detect.”

Balancing security at a facility and providing the “safety blanket” fans expect, without fans feeling under siege, can be difficult, said McCain. “Venues want to make the experience enjoyable for the guests and having a heavy police presence and seeing a lot of weapons and armor are not something fans want, but they want to feel safe, and finding that line is essential. We want them to feel confident but not cognizant.”

McCain suggested surveying fans after an event to see how they felt about the security, which they do at many NFL events. “We need to know if their experience was positive or negative; if they felt safe and secure from the parking lot to inside the venue; if there was too much alcohol being served. If there was a fight, did security respond effectively? Often we think we are too heavy on security but, after surveying fans, find out they found the security levels appropriate.”

Messaging to the fans that they have the power is “worth its weight in gold,” said Bratton. “With most fans having a phone in their hand, they have the tool to reach out immediately if they see something they think is not right. We need to encourage the fans to be our security partners.”

’See something, say something’ may sound trite, but it’s important and it’s the idea of awareness, said Bratton, as he pointed out that 70 percent of the detected threats largely came from the general public. “We can only act on information. We all need to be aware of our surroundings and say something if we are concerned.”

Cyber security was heavily discussed and Michael Ferris, Abacode, thinks that is where venues are most vulnerable. Venues need to look at cyber security from a business standpoint first, and a technical standpoint second, he said. “There is a disconnect in the corporate suite when it comes to cyber security. It should be similar to tax and audit, meaning separated, with checks and balances. There are software developers, outside managed service providers, data providers, cloud providers, data centers; and there should be a wall between your cyber security division and everyone else.”

Bratton thinks that the gun policies in the U.S. are a major obstacle. “The availability of weapons poses a huge problem. Any disgruntled 21-year-old can get a weapon and cause a lot of damage,” he said.

The new defensive suite includes Vapor Wake bomb-sniffing dogs, surveillance, phones used as bodycams, facial recognition and drones, according to Bratton. “We have to stay on top of all the new tools and deploy them to tighten our control over our venues. If we harden the target the terrorists will look elsewhere,” he said.


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WaitTime Debuts In Australia
Posted: 21 Aug 2017, 4:00 pm

WaitTime's artificial intelligence at work at Melbourne (Australia) Cricket Ground.

Detroit-based WaitTime, has found an innovative way to expedite bathroom and concession visits at stadiums across the country, and now it's heading to Australia.

Melbourne (Australia) Cricket Ground is the latest recipient of WaitTime's state-of-the-art technology. The venue seats up to 100,000 spectators for sporting events and concerts. Implementing this new technology into one of the biggest stadiums on earth made for a prominent international debut.

"Our customer research has shown us that wait times for food and drinks are one of the key frustrations for patrons," said Prue Cichello, media and publicity advisor, Melbourne Cricket Ground. "No one likes waiting in a queue and missing the action unfolding – we hope that by providing transparency over expected wait times, as well as advice on other nearby outlets, we can reduce some of that frustration for fans."

WaitTime has also been implemented in two arenas in America thus far. The first full stadium installation took place at the Palace of Auburn Hills, Mich., former home of the Detroit Pistons, in 2016. Since then, WaitTime has also been installed in Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Indianapolis, home of the Indiana Pacers.

The company pairs with stadiums and arenas to help fans select a bathroom or concession stand with the shortest line.WaitTime accomplishes this by mounting sensors and cameras outside the doors of bathrooms and fixated on the line at concession stands.

"The sensors take screenshots 10 times per second that is fed to our onsite servers," said Zachary Klima, founder of WaitTime. "We developed a first-in-the-world artificial intelligence that is able to decipher the movement analysis of people in real time.”

Fans and spectators will be able to view the capacity of restrooms or concession stands on arena digital signage, with a green, yellow and red spectrum to depict capacity or vacancy. This information will also be available on the home team's mobile app.

There are several ways that a stadium can purchase WaitTime's services without many financial responsibilities.

“We come in with a sponsor and we cover everything; we get the sponsorship revenue or they (the team or the venue) pay and they’re able to sell a sponsorship on their behalf. At this point in time, it’s a no-cost opportunity,” said Klima.

WaitTime was founded in 2014 by Klima. As of 2016, the company has raised over $10 million in funding, with over 30 investors including Jeffrey Jordan, the son of National Basketball Association Hall of Famer Michael Jordan.

WaitTime is focusing on the U.K. and Australia. A deal is in the works involving Olympia Entertainment at the new Little Caesars Arena, Detroit, according to Klima.


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Nominate for 2017 Silver Spoon Awards!
Posted: 17 Aug 2017, 3:00 pm

Seeking Concessions Stand-outs! Submit your nominations by Thursday, August 31, 2017!

More than the money is in the food and now it's time to give recognition to the best chefs and chief operators — the changemakers in concessions who create memorable fan experiences.

Get ready for the Venues Today SILVER SPOON AWARDS!

Venues Today is inviting you to nominate outstanding achievement in concesssions and catering in sports and entertainment in the categories of:

• Best new menu item for 2017
• Best sustainability initiative for 2017
• Best new concept in food and drink for 2017


Who is eligible?

Executives in food and drink operations at sport, entertainment, fairs and meeting venues internationally.

How to nominate?
1) Please send a 250-400 word description in an email (NO ATTACHMENTS, PLEASE!), including the person and title and company helming the initiative
2) Include a description of the winning endeavor including what, where, when it rolled out and how much it cost
3) Make sure your name and contact information are available so we can contact you if there are any further questions or for more details.
4) E-mail nominations to by Thursday, August 31, 2017. (No attachments please, include all descriptions in an email)

How will winners be selected?
Venues Today has recruited a highly qualified jury of peers in the industry to judge nominations for originality, impact on the industry and game-changing characteristics. Along with the staff of Venues Today, the jury will select outstanding contributions to the industry in food and drink service.
Winning initiatives will be profiled in the October issue of Venues Today.

Why now?
Concessions service is a major contributor to the guest experience at venues worldwide. Concessions have a major role in marketing, analytics, public relations, sponsor fulfillment and every other aspect of the fan experience. Venues Today is recognizing those initiatives that take us all to the next level.

Please send your nominations to by Thursday, August 31, 2017.

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Paciolan to Buy TicketsWest, WestCoast Ent.
Posted: 16 Aug 2017, 8:00 pm

At today’s announcement in Spokane are Steve DeMots, CRO of Paciolan; Jack Lucas, president of WestCoast Entertainment; Kim Damron, president and COO of Paciolan, and Dusty Kurtz, president of TicketsWest.

Further expanding its reach into performing arts and non-university venues, Paciolan has agreed to acquire the assets of TicketsWest and WestCoast Entertainment.

TicketsWest, founded in 1987 in Spokane, Wash., by Jack Lucas with the backing of current owner Red Lion Hotels Corp., has over 200 clients. The full service ticketing and marketing company employs about 90 staffers in Spokane and in branch offices in Portland, Ore. and Denver.

Kim Damron, president and COO of Paciolan, Irvine, Calif., which was purchased by Learfield this year, said the acquisition further emphasizes Learfield’s commitment to live entertainment, citing several Learfield holdings in the performing arts, including digital marketing firm Mogo Interactive, branding agency SME, and website provider SIDEARM Sports.

Paciolan sells over 120 million tickets a year and serves over 500 venues. In 2010, Paciolan absorbed New Era Tickets with offices in Exton, Pa., when it was part of Comcast Spectacor. New Era was rebranded Paciolan, but plans are different with TicketsWest, with announcement of the intention to keep the brand and the staff intact, Damron said.

Dusty Kurtz, who was named president of TicketsWest March 1 (coincidently at the same time Damron was named president of Paciolan) will retain that role. Lucas will continue to lead WestCoast Entertainment, which is also part of the acquisition.

WestCoast Entertainment promotes and produces from 50 to 100 shows a year, primarily in the Northwest but with plans to broaden that scope. While the promotion firm cut its teeth on Broadway, WestCoast Entertainment has branched into all sorts of one-offs, including sports once in awhile. “We did music festivals before music festivals were cool,” he added.

Lucas sees promotion opportunities from “Florida to Wyoming and all parts in between. I now have a chance to devote all of my time into building WestCoast Entertainment into a national brand.”

Kurtz also sees growth opportunities for TicketsWest, which will continue to offer a wide variety of services including call center support, ticket distribution services, digital marketing and private label website support. The company will also maintain an extensive distribution and retail outlet network with nearly 300 locations. Kurtz said that for some events and some clients, there is still considerable need for walk-up and retail sales, though the internet is the primary source for tickets.

Paciolan will now be able to offer some of those additional services to clients who desire it, Damron said.

TicketsWest has been powered by Paciolan for 10 years. The two companies have similar cultures and both parties expressed delight with the new marriage. Both companies are passionate about serving their customers, Damron added.

In 2015, also while owned by Comcast Spectacor and known as Spectra Ticketing & Fan Engagement, Paciolan acquired Ballena Technologies, once again leaving the name and staff in place.

Asked if the purchase of TicketsWest and WestCoast Entertainment, and given the current acquisition frenzy in ticketing, was the beginning of a rollup for Learfield, Damron demurred, saying it was more about being a natural fit.

“There is a lot going on in the ticketing industry,” Damron acknowledged, “but this just made so much sense because we have been such longterm partners.”

And it’s an opportunity for Learfield to double down on its book of business in the arts, added Craig Ricks, Paciolan SVP of marketing.

Lucas sees a lot of opportunity to grow West Coast Entertainment nationwide and appreciates the leverage Learfield and its subsidiaries will give that push. West Coast Entertainment is also partnered in Troika (, which produces Broadway shows.

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Verizon Center Now Capital One Arena
Posted: 16 Aug 2017, 7:00 pm

Newly named Capital One Arena, Washington, D.C. (Photo Credit: Monumental Sports and Entertainment)

Monumental Sports and Entertainment (MSE) has called its new agreement with Capital One to name what was previously known as Verizon Center in Washington, D.C., Capital One Arena, a partnership between two home-grown companies.

Effective in early August, the switch to Capital One Arena finishes off a market search for a new naming rights partner for what has been ranked as the eighth-highest grossing arena in the nation with capacity over 15,000.

“Capital One is one of the most influential local businesses in our region over the last two decades, so we couldn’t be more pleased to partner with another homegrown company to create more incredible memories for sports fans, music fans, families and friends all across our region,” said Ted Leonsis, founder, majority owner and CEO of Monumental Sports and Entertainment, the venue owners. “Capital One shares our deep commitment to both economic and philanthropic investment in the larger Washington, D.C., community and we look forward to working closely with them.”

While Monumental didn’t disclose terms, local media has reported the agreement is in the range of $100-million over 10 years, which Eric Smallwood, president of Apex Marketing Group, called “substantial” and places it near the top of any arena in the country and even above some National Football League (NFL) stadiums.

With nine venues hosting both a National Basketball Association (NBA) and National Hockey League (NHL)  team, the sponsorship rights become more valuable, he said. Brooklyn’s Barclays Center, which also hosts two teams, pulls in roughly $10- million per year for its rights. “Brooklyn is a major market,” Smallwood said. “D.C. is smaller than New York, so that is a good number.”

Other major arena sponsorship deals include Philips Arena, Atlanta, at $9.2 million when it had both an NBA and NHL team, Smallwood said. The planned Chase Arena, San Francisco, future home of the Golden State Warriors, will reportedly become the most expensive arena title deal in the country, anywhere from $15-million to $17-million per year.

Smallwood said the $3-million per year for 15 years received on the Verizon deal gives Monumental an obvious step up, and he said it comes as no surprise it was a financial institution behind the deal. “Those companies are the most relevant category in naming rights and there is more than meets the eye,” he said. “It is not just the branding, it is the products, services and accounts. I would hope they would leverage every bit of products and services they can muster in the arena. From the brand side, you would want them to get the most bang for their buck and activate as many services as they can for a venue through the partnership.”

Monumental has already announced that a new point-of-sale system will enable the venue to offer Capital One cardholders automated discounts on food, beverage, merchandise and more throughout the arena.

“I think leveraging different things into an experience for any company is important at any level (of sponsorship) and certainly with naming rights, the ability to leverage the two businesses is great,” said David Touhey, president of venues for Monumental. “I think there is certainly potential across a lot of dual business lines. Where things can happen, they are a great partner. We are both local, prominent companies. As things align, it makes sense for both to certainly see more (activations).”

While announcing the new naming rights deal, Monumental also announced—which was simply a matter of timing and not related, Touhey said—a $4-million investment into the 20-year-old downtown arena. “We want to do some updates to stay fresh and stay current,” he said.

As part of the updates, the Mounumental360 program will use data collection from the new point-of-sale system to better understand fans and learn preferences for when they interact with any part of the Monumental franchise.

The home to over 220 concerts, shows and events a year, including the NHL’s Washington Capitals and NBA’s Washington Wizards, Capital One Arena will host Bruno Mars, Ed Sheeran, Guns n’ Roses, Andrea Boccelli, Jay-Z and more in the coming months, along with the A-10 men’s basketball tournament in March 2018 and the East regionals of the 2019 NCAA men’s basketball tournament.

Touhey said the changeover to Capital One Arena is currently happening all at once, expected to fully finish this fall. “Everything is in the works,” he said. “Signs need to be manufactured and things need to be made.”

“As a top local employer and major consumer brand, Capital One has deep roots in Washington, D.C., and we are excited to strengthen our contributions to the sports and entertainment landscape in our own backyard,” said Kleber Santos, president, retail and direct banking, Capital One. “Monumental Sports and Entertainment shares our commitment to strengthening the economic and social well-being of the local community, and we are thrilled to partner with them on Capital One Arena. Our collaboration will be great for the D.C. community, the fans who come to support their teams, the talent and events at the arena, and exceptional for our customers who will benefit from our ability to offer access to unique opportunities and experiences at the arena that money can’t buy.”

In a letter to fans, Leonsis wrote: “When it came to identifying a company to have its name on our arena, I am thrilled that the end result meant deepening our relationship with one of our longstanding partners, Capital One. A diversified bank that’s been integral to our community since 1988, Capital One shares our commitment to economic growth, philanthropy and community here. At MSE, we employ almost 4,000 full-time and part-time employees and vendors.”

Along with the Capital One sponsorship and $40-million investment announcement, MSE has launched the Monumental Sports Network, agreed to a new television rights deal and equity partnership with CSN, welcome NBC Sports Group as an investor into the sports network, invest in eSports’ Team Liquid, kick off seasons for the American Football League’s Washington Valor and Baltimore Brigade, and purchase a NBA G League team.

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SunTrust Park Embraced By Fans
Posted: 16 Aug 2017, 6:35 pm

SunTrust Park, Atlanta, opened in March.

It’s been several months since the Atlanta Braves opened its new $672 million ballpark, and the entire project will be complete early next year once the 264-room Omni Hotel opens in the mixed-used development next to the venue.

SunTrust Park has over 41,000 seats — all of which were sold out for opening day and several games that followed. Almost every day of the week, the new stadium has baseball games throughout the rest of the season.

“The feedback’s been amazing on every level… from the fans, the team and the press,” said Brad Albers, the senior architect and associate principal at Populous, the firm that designed the ballpark.

Populous is no stranger to designing MLB ballparks, as SunTrust is its 19th new stadium, Albers noted.

“We’ve done work for nearly every team in Major League Baseball,” he said.

SunTrust Park has an adjoining 1.5-million-sq.-ft., mixed-use development called Battery Atlanta that houses a corporate office building for Comcast, over 500 residential units, a hotel, multiple restaurants and a small 4,000-seat music venue called Coca-Cola Roxy.

SunTrust Park and Battery Atlanta opened at the same time, however the hotel will open in early 2018, according to Omni Hotel & Resorts’ website.

The primary driver for the Braves to build a new stadium was that “they wanted to do something more around the stadium,” Albers said.

The $452-million mixed-used development that’s anchored by SunTrust Park reflects that vision.

The new ballpark broke ground in September of 2014 and opened March 31 with an exhibition game where the Atlanta Braves beat the New York Yankees 8-5.

“Once they made the decision to move away from Turner Field, they found this land up in the north suburbs in Cobb County,” Albers said. “It has really good access from all over town. The site itself was undeveloped, so they didn’t have to demolish anything.”

The entire site, including the ballpark and the mixed-used development, sits on 57-acres of land near the Chattahoochee River. The river inspired a fountain design inside the ballpark with trees.

Like all MLB stadiums, the culinary offerings are important, and the Braves wanted the food and beverage to reflect Southern and regional traditions, said Mason Hansen, senior interior designer and principal at Populous.

“We did extensive research early on,” she said. “We asked the Braves for a list of their favorite (culinary) destinations. They were interested in featuring local restaurants.”

Offerings include the Coors Light Chop House and a brewery called the Terrapin Taproom where Fox Bros. Bar-B-Q is served. Delaware North is the food and beverage manager for the venue.

Although the ballpark is a new construction, the Braves wanted a classic, yet modern feel to both the exterior and interior.

“The Braves is the longest continuous franchise in the history of baseball. They wanted the ballpark to feel timeless. They wanted to touch on their history,” said Zach Allee, senior associate at Populous.

The team chose red brick for the outside and the inside features heavily textured wood and antique marble wood.

They also built a Hank Aaron Terrace where visitors can dine on ballpark food and look at Aaron’s iconic memorabilia. Aaron is a retired Braves player and is now senior vice president of the team.

The venue also has a huge canopy. “We made it the biggest in the MLB,” Allee said.

To ensure fan experience stays top notch, excellent wireless access at the venue was important, Hansen said.

“The biggest thing, when looking at the future fan, is that connectivity is a huge deal for us,” she said.

Overall, the new ballpark is a big hit. “Everybody is really happy with the way the ballpark turned out,” Albers said. “The players themselves love it, too. They like the new player facilities. The hitters like it. The lighting is phenomenal.”

SunTrust Park was built in Cobb County, Georgia, replacing the baseball team’s previous home at Turner Field, which is roughly 19 miles south of the new ballpark.

Turner Field — which hosted the 1996 summer Olympics before it became home to the Atlanta Braves in 1997— will now be converted into a football stadium for Georgia State University.


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Durham's Successful Interim CEO Talks Turnaround
Posted: 16 Aug 2017, 6:00 pm

Dan Berman

A day into interviewing the final three candidates to take his job, Dan Berman, volunteer interim CEO of Carolina Theatre, Durham, N.C., talked with Venues Today about his experience leading the venue out of near bankruptcy. Eighteen months after a financial crisis threatened to force closure of the Carolina Theatre, Durham, N.C., the nonprofit that operates the venue has entirely erased an estimated $1.7-million net deficit. Thanks in large part to Berman, who has worked as a volunteer since January 2016, the theater reported an accumulated net surplus of nearly $200,000 at a meeting of its Board of Trustees on July 25. The financial report, which is preliminary and unaudited, includes operations through June 30, 2017, the end of the organization’s fiscal year. Carolina Theatre of Durham, Inc. cited extraordinary assistance from the City of Durham, support from fans and patrons, generous donations from private and public donors, the hard work of its staff and volunteers, and significantly improved financial performance in its rental, film, live event and concessions businesses. 

How long do you plan to stay on at the theater?

I expect we will have an offer out for our new CEO in two weeks. It is my intention that the new person will take  over as soon as they are installed. I am very passionate and devoted to the people here. I will help all I can, but I think it will be important for the new CEO to operate this building without feeling like the former CEO is looking over his or her shoulder.

What do you plan to do when your volunteer work here is over?

I was in the radio business, buying and selling radio stations. I sold my company several years back, but was keeping my hands in the business world, more in the investing capacity. I will continue with that.

You volunteered your services to the board right after it became public that Carolina Theatre Inc. had a $1.7 million deficit. What did you do that first day on the job?

The first day was really about getting up to speed on this business. This was a new business to me. I needed to assess what was happening and how it could have happened. I spent the time at first getting to know people and figuring out what we needed to do right away.

What was your initial assessment of theater operations?

We were in dire straits. We were within weeks of not being able to make payroll. I went to our board. I knew that without city assistance, there was no way we could keep going. We met with the city manager and the city finance director. We laid out what I had discovered. The City of Durham knew that the community supported the theater so they approved an investment of  $600,000, but only if we could match with $600,000. (That approval came in March 2016.) And, they would only provide those dollars as we raised those dollars. In other words, if we raised $1,000, then they gave us $1,000. We hit the ground running on fund raising.

How did you proceed in that regard?

It always had been obvious there had been a lot of goodwill toward the theater. It became even more obvious when so many in the community came forward and said 'what can we do?' We showed them how important they were to the future of the theater. We opened up our books to the public so they could understand what had happened and what was needed. There were various foundations and companies we approached once we had a good plan in place. We showed them we had learned the lessons of the past and assured them it wouldn't be repeated.

How did you entice new donors?

There is a formula for fund raising - 80 percent of the funds come from about 20 percent of donors. We tried to hit the 20 percent first. Our largest single donation was $250,000. There were no new membership benefits with this particular campaign. It was totally separate for the annual campaign in place that included member benefits. For the couple of years prior to this, the theatre had been raising about $400,000 in donations. So, if a donor normally gave $5,000, we encouraged them to give another $5,000 for this campaign. Donors had to designate which campaign they were giving to. Once the $600,000 figure was hit, we quit that campaign. We also increased our annual campaign goal to $600,000, up from that $400,000.

As far as programming, what are you doing differently?

We changed our business model where we are taking less risks. We have partnered with NS2 to co-promote our national tours, which reduces our risks. We are looking for more partnerships, and we are looking for more diversity in programming.

How do you feel now that this job is almost ended?

When I first stepped up, I was confident that I could do this on a business aspect. But, it was the professionals here that knew the business. We all leaned on each other. It has been an amazing experience. 

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OC Fair Was Farm Fresh Fun
Posted: 16 Aug 2017, 4:00 pm

Farm Fresh Fun was the theme at this year's OC Fair, Costa Mesa, Calif.

This year’s OC Fair final numbers are in. The 127th fair saw attendance of 1,334,753, and gross revenue approximately two percent higher than 2016. This year’s theme was Farm Fresh Fun.

“The 127th annual OC Fair was a tremendous success in so many ways,” said OC Fair CEO Kathy Kramer, who said the highlight of this year’s fair was learning that 88 percent of fairgoers said in a survey that they increased their knowledge of agriculture after attending the fair.”

“We’re an agriculture-based fair,” said Kramer. “Agriculture education is our primary goal. It’s significant and powerful that we were able to educate an urban audience about it.”

Over 4,200 exhibitors submitted 23,000 entries this year, which is a 20-percent increase in exhibitors over last year, a 112-percent increase in entries over last year. Nearly $90,000 was awarded in prize money and nearly 10,000 prize ribbons were handed out. At this year’s Junior Livestock Auction, 299 animals were sold for a total of $275,533.

Kathy_Kramer_final.jpgOC Fair CEO Kathy Kramer.

“We increased our overall guest enjoyment rating, scoring 4.65 out of five, according to our 10-day patron survey,” said Kramer. "I am also very proud of our community give-back programs and was happy to add a new one this year, the OC Fair Kids Club, which provided 952 children from Title 1 programs with a free fair experience.”

Results of the 10-day patron survey showed an overall enjoyment rate of 4.65 (out of 5) – up from 4.45 in 2016. Of those surveyed, 28 percent were first-time fairgoers and 48 percent are OC residents.

OC Fair hosted 30 sold-out performances in Pacific Amphitheatre, The Hangar and Action Sports Arena. 

The Toyota Summer Concert Series at Pacific Amphitheatre hosted 28 shows, including five pre-fair shows. Highlights were a Kenny Loggins show and a B-52’s event. “We recently started a partnership with the Pacific Symphony,” said Kramer. “They accompanied Kenny Loggins and the B-52’s and it made for special nights of great music. It was a total win/win as we were able to introduce the symphony to people who may never have thought to see it and will hopefully want to see it again.”

Other shows took place at The Hangar, where 16 tribute bands took the stage along with The Marshall Tucker Band, Blue Oyster Cult, Trevor Hall, Metalicca, two shows by Mariachi Sol de Mexico de Jose Hernandez, plus 300 gamers in the iBUYPOWER GameFest & Tournament Series.

Over at the Action Sports Arena there was a show every night, plus three matinees. “Sixty-three vehicles were smashed in the demo derbies,” said Kramer. In addition, 674 community entertainment groups performed throughout the day on five different stages.

Food hits included Bacon A Fair’s Unicorn pork legs, which got its colorful name from the vendor’s elusive search to find a butcher willing to cut the meat how he wanted it cut. Over 4,900 Unicorn pork legs were sold.

Chicken Charlie’s sold over 6,000 fried peanut butter meatballs; Juicy’s sold 40,005 turkey legs; over 4,000 Krispy Kreme Ice Cream Chicken Sandwiches were bought and 4,500 Funnel Cake Burritos went out the door. “Just RCS alone (Ray Cammack Shows) went through one ton of funnel cake batter,” said Kramer.

RCS sold 12,000 feet of churros and 22,500 pounds of fries. They also fried an entire semi-trailer full of Oreos and sold four semi-trailers worth of cotton candy. Not to mention the truck load of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos that was used, two entire fields of corn, 2,200 pounds of fresh strawberries, 10,000 pounds of cane sugar, 7,000 pounds of ribs and 1,200 pounds of popcorn seed.

RCS VP Chris Lopez said this year’s fair “went great. Rides, food and games all met last year's numbers and keep in mind last year was a record year.”

The most popular rides were La Grande XL, Skyride, Big Wheel, Rave Wave, Wild River and EuroSlide.

The Grand Wheel, a big hit and new this year, had 36 air-conditioned cabins. “The panoramic view of the OC was breathtaking,” said Kramer. “It was the first time that we have put two giant wheels at Orange County Fair,” said Lopez. Other new rides were Endeavor and Rockin Rodeo Funhouse

Top games were Bank a ball, One ball, Tubs, Beer pong and Balloon game.

“Along with a new look for our game canvas, we lit finials and put pendent flags on top,” said Lopez. “New safety rules and safety signage throughout made for a welcomed new look.”

The G Force ride, similar to the Fire Ball ride that snapped apart at Ohio State Fair earlier this fair season, was closed for most of the fair. It re-opened just five days before closing day. “It was tested, inspected by the manufacturer (KMG) and we decided to open it up after it got full clearance,” said Kramer.

“After following the procedures set forth by KMG, we shared NDT (nondestructing testing) results and all other documentation with the manufacturer, the State of California, Coulter Associates, our third party inspectors, and our Orange County Fair partners and we re-opened G Force,” said Lopez. “Safety is priority one at RCS. I'm confident and comfortable saying that our rides get inspected thoroughly and often.”

Kramer was also pleased with the 45,000 fairgoers who visited the new Heroes Hall, a war veterans memorial and museum. “Parents called and wrote letters thanking us for teaching the kids about veterans and what they sacrificed for our country,” she said. Over 4,500 postcards written in Heroes Hall will be sent to active duty military personnel and veterans in VA hospitals. In addition, 240 videos were recorded in the Heroes Hall story booth.

Eleven piglets were born at Centennial Farm. They can be seen on a live streaming cam at “We call it the pig cam,” said Kramer.

Fairgoers were feeling quite giving this year. Almost 29 tons of food was donated to OC Food Bank and Second Harvest Food Bank on July 19; 94,078 children’s books were donated to Think Together on July 26; and 43,995 pounds of clothing was donated to Goodwill on Aug. 2. Some 104,000 school supplies were donated to Share Ourselves on Aug. 9.

More than 16,000 veterans or active-duty military enjoyed the fair for free all season, and 24,058 members of their family and friends got in for half off. Almost 31,000 kids (ages 6-12) got in free on Thursdays during the fair, and 75,058 kids (ages 5 and under) got in free all season. Friends of the Fair, held July 20, saw 6,457 guests.  Almost 15,000 kids participated in the Read and Ride program, receiving three free carnival rides for reading and reviewing two books.

Next year’s fair will be July 13 - Aug. 12. A theme has not been picked yet, but Kramer did say the theme will follow the three-year-strong agriculture push they’ve been making. “Last year we did Food & Fiber, this year was People and next year will be Environment,” said Kramer.






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

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


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

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


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Groups in Greater Boston utilize college campuses
Posted: 31 Oct 2016, 8:00 pm

An exceedingly intelligent choice for meetings and events.


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CEIR Releases Third Report in Attendee Retention Insights Series
Posted: 24 May 2016, 1:00 am
DALLAS, 24 May 2016 ? The Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR) announced today the release of the third report in its newest series, 2016 Attendee Retention Insights Part Three: Education Content that Builds a Loyal Alumni Attendee Audience. This landmark body of research offers organizers a comprehensive resource to help understand the profile of attendees that visit an exhibition repeatedly and the content that turns them into loyal customers.

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CEIR Releases Second Report in Attendee Retention Insights Series
Posted: 10 May 2016, 1:00 am
DALLAS, 10 May 2016 ? The Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR) announced today the release of the second report in its newest series, 2016 Attendee Retention Insights Part Two: Exhibition Floor Features that Build a Loyal Alumni Attendee Audience. This landmark body of research offers organizers a comprehensive resource to help understand the profile of attendees that visit an exhibition repeatedly and the content that turns them into loyal customers

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Fourth Annual IAEE Women’s Leadership Forum Another Sold Out Event
Posted: 4 May 2016, 1:00 am
DALLAS, 4 May 2016 ? The International Association of Exhibitions and Events? (IAEE) celebrates another successful Women?s Leadership Forum on 26 April 2016 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C. More than 200 attendees sold out this year?s event which featured education sessions for women at all stages of their career.

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IAEE Now Accepting Applications for 2016 Bob Dallmeyer Education Fund Grants
Posted: 3 May 2016, 1:00 am
DALLAS, 3 May 2016 ? The International Association of Exhibitions and Events? (IAEE) has opened the application process for the 2016 Bob Dallmeyer Education Fund Grants, which aid qualified professionals in their pursuit of continuing education and career development in the exhibitions and events industry.

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IAEE Now Accepting 2016 Helen Brett Scholarship Applications
Posted: 2 May 2016, 1:00 am
DALLAS, 2 May 2016 ? The International Association of Exhibitions and EventsTM (IAEE) has opened the application process for the Helen Brett Scholarship awards in 2016. The scholarship serves to promote the exhibitions and events industry by attracting college-level students into the field of study and encouraging their pursuit with financial support.

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Conference center education shifts dramatically
Posted: 30 Apr 2016, 8:00 pm

The times they are a changin’, and all for the better from this reporter’s perspective.


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CEIR Debuts New Report Series Focusing on Attendee Retention
Posted: 28 Apr 2016, 1:00 am
DALLAS, 28 April 2016 ? The Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR) announced today the release of the first report in its newest series, 2016 Attendee Retention Insights. Reports from this exciting new, landmark study offers organizers a comprehensive resource to help understand the profile of attendees that visit an exhibition repeatedly and the content that turns them into a loyal fanbase. The series consists of five reports, beginning with Part One: Basics for Creating Your Attendee Retention Strategy: Tracking, Profiling and Why They Come Back.

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IAEE Public Events Council Releases 2016 Survey Report
Posted: 26 Apr 2016, 1:00 am
DALLAS, 26 April 2016 ? Today, the International Association of Exhibitions and Events? (IAEE) Public Events Council released its Public Events Industry Report: 2015 Results. In 2009, the Public Events Council distributed a survey to public event organizers across 22 public events industry sectors to examine overall industry performance. The report identified which public events industry sectors fared well, which sectors struggled and their expectations for the future. As a follow-up to the benchmark report, the survey is repeated annually with subsequent reports detailing individual and comparative statistics over the years.

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Your Industry - Your Voice!
Posted: 22 Apr 2016, 1:00 am

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CEM Week - Register Now!
Posted: 18 Apr 2016, 1:00 am

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2016 CEIR Index Report Now Available
Posted: 13 Apr 2016, 1:00 am
DALLAS, 12 April 2016 ? Today, the Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR) released the 2016 CEIR Index Report. The CEIR Index analyzes the 2015 exhibition industry and provides a future outlook for the next three years. Despite widespread pessimism and deceleration of activity during the fourth quarter, the U.S. economy still displayed significant signs of strength in 2015, led by personal consumption and residential construction. These strengths were offset partially by deterioration in energy development and net exports to produce real GDP growth of 2.4%. According to CEIR?s current projection, 2016 growth will be about the same, or perhaps slightly weaker as the trade gap widens further, before GDP accelerates in 2018 (see Figure 1).

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IAEE Renews Reciprocity Agreement with JEXA
Posted: 5 Apr 2016, 1:00 am
DALLAS, 5 April 2016 ? The International Association of Exhibitions and Events? (IAEE) and the Japan Exhibition Association (JEXA) announced the renewal of a reciprocity agreement to benefit members of both organizations. Originally signed in 2012, the agreement renews the commitment of IAEE and JEXA to promote and develop the exhibitions and events industries in their respective countries through membership collaboration.

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IAEE Announces New Chapter in India
Posted: 4 Apr 2016, 1:00 am
DALLAS, 4 April 2016 ? The International Association of Exhibitions and Events? (IAEE) announces the addition of its latest chapter in Asia, the IAEE India Chapter. The IAEE Board of Directors approved the creation of this new chapter during its meeting held 31 March 2016 at the HITEX Exhibition Center in Hyderabad, India.

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Convention centers transform to meet attendees’ needs
Posted: 1 Apr 2016, 8:00 pm

Generic big-box convention centers seem to be going the way of the buggy whip and typewriter.


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IAEE MATSO Council Adds New Content for May Meeting
Posted: 31 Mar 2016, 1:00 am
DALLAS, 31 March 2016 ? The International Association of Exhibitions and Events? (IAEE) MATSO Council?s program for this year?s MATSO Spring Program on 23-24 May 2016 at McCormick Place in Chicago, Ill. will focus on exchanging information that address challenges, share best practices and understand the changing landscape of Tier 1 cities.

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IAEE Awards Jacqueline Russo with 2016 Woman of Achievement Award
Posted: 30 Mar 2016, 1:00 am
DALLAS, 30 March 2016 ? The International Association of Exhibitions and Events? (IAEE) proudly congratulates Jacqueline Russo, Vice President of Kuehne + Nagel, Inc., as this year?s recipient of the IAEE Woman of Achievement Award. This award recognizes a woman who has led the way in the advancement of women in the exhibitions and events industry, exhibited outstanding leadership, and made significant contributions to the industry and her community.

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CEIR Releases New Industry Insight Series Report Written by Candy Adams
Posted: 29 Mar 2016, 1:00 am
DALLAS, 29 March 2016 ? Today the Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR) announces a new Industry Insight Series report, 99 Cost-Savings Tips and Tricks for Exhibit Managers written by Candy Adams, CTSM, CME, CEM, CMP, CMM, a revered and well-known exhibition industry veteran and owner of ?The Booth Mom? Trade Show Consulting.

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IAEE Announces 2016 Krakoff Leadership Institute
Posted: 28 Mar 2016, 1:00 am
DALLAS, 28 March 2016 ? Registration is now open for the International Association of Exhibitions and Events? (IAEE) Krakoff Leadership Institute (KLI) to be held 7-9 August 2016 at The Waterfront Beach Resort, A Hilton Hotel in Huntington Beach, Calif. The program is open to IAEE members interested in enhancing their strategic skills, and broadening their knowledge as current and future leaders in the exhibitions and events industry.

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IAEE Congratulates its 2016 International Excellence Award Recipient
Posted: 17 Mar 2016, 1:00 am
DALLAS, 17 March 2016 ? The International Association of Exhibitions and Events? (IAEE) congratulates Edward J. Krause III (Ned), President and CEO of E.J. Krause & Associates, Inc. (EJK) as this year?s recipient of the IAEE International Excellence Award. The IAEE International Excellence Award recognizes an individual or organization that has made exceptional strides in creating, launching and managing an international event in the exhibitions and events industry on an international scale.

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CEIR Releases Final Digital Toolkit Report
Posted: 15 Mar 2016, 1:00 am
DALLAS, 15 March 2015 ? Today, the Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR) announced the release of the final report in the CEIR Digital Toolkit series. The new report, entitled Focus Report on Exhibition Organizer Onsite and Post-event Offerings provides an in-depth look at attendee preferences compared to business-to-business exhibition offerings for show mobile apps, as well as other onsite digital amenities and post-event digital communications.

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IAEE MATSO Council Announces City Working Group Initiative, Finalizes Governance Procedures
Posted: 9 Mar 2016, 1:00 am
DALLAS, 9 March 2016 ? The International Association of Exhibitions and Events? (IAEE) MATSO Council announced it will resurrect city task force updates following a recent council meeting that focused on future programming and governance procedures.

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IAEE Announces 2016 Call for Nominations for Individual Awards
Posted: 8 Mar 2016, 1:00 am
DALLAS, 8 March 2016 ? Today, the International Association of Exhibitions and Events? (IAEE) has opened the Call for Nominations for its annual awards program to recognize exceptional professionals in the exhibitions and events industry. Industry professionals who meet the outlined criteria may be nominated for any of the awards listed below, and recipients will be honored at Expo! Expo! IAEE?s Annual Meeting & Exhibition to be held 6-8 December in Anaheim, Calif.

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Conference center experts weigh in on five hot trends
Posted: 30 Apr 2015, 8:00 pm

Here is the top feedback when it comes to staging cutting-edge conference meets.


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Convention center tradeshows focus on interaction
Posted: 31 Mar 2015, 8:00 pm

Are you fully engaging your attendees?


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State College brims with entertaining endeavors
Posted: 30 Oct 2014, 8:00 pm

When it comes to putting fun on the agenda, State College is one smart choice.


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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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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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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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Earl R. Williams
Posted: 16 Oct 2014, 2:57 pm
Earl was employed with Kimble Glass Co. and later Ball State University as Conference Director and General Manager of Emens Auditorium.

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Yarra, Australia, creates venue soundproofing fund
Posted: 16 Oct 2014, 2:57 pm
The city house 500 venues, 50 of them live music venues.

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Watch: Hugh Jackman talks about ticketing
Posted: 16 Oct 2014, 2:57 pm
Hugh Jackman and the show's producer are making sure pricing allows anyone that wants to see his new play will not have to worry about scalpers.

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The Firestation Centre launches its neo-ticketing project
Posted: 16 Oct 2014, 2:57 pm
With its new project, the venue wants to find out if it will sell more tickets, if guests will get better deals, and if artists will earn more.

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Wesley Burtch Dickson
Posted: 16 Oct 2014, 2:57 pm
Wes founded his business, Advanced Equipment Corp., in 1957. In 1959, the business moved to Orange County, California.

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Shared activities make experiences more intense
Posted: 16 Oct 2014, 2:57 pm
Here?s some scientific support on the value of live experiences.

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Can a team have too much talent?
Posted: 16 Oct 2014, 2:57 pm
Yes, and here?s why having too much talent on a team is bad.

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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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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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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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Elmer Randolph 'Randy' Pugh
Posted: 16 Oct 2014, 2:57 pm
Randy was employed with the City of Virginia Beach as the Operations Supervisor of the Pavilion Convention Center from 1980-1999.

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Upcoming webinars
Posted: 16 Oct 2014, 2:57 pm
These two, free webinars next week will focus on becoming a CFE and the Mentor-Connector Program.

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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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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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Five U.S. convention center highlights
Posted: 31 Mar 2014, 8:00 pm

A look at major convention center projects in Green Bay,  King of Prussia, New York, San Antonio and San Diego.


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IACC Americas Conference Sees Attendee Uptick
Posted: 18 Mar 2014, 8:00 pm

The 2014 IACC Annual Conference reported it has attracted the most registered attendees since 2008.


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State College, Pennsylvania, is a happening, business-savvy hub
Posted: 27 Oct 2013, 8:00 pm

State College, home to Pennsylvania State University, welcomes groups with its vibrant ambiance and excellent on-campus (and off-site) facilities.


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A quick take on recent openings and upgrades in the world of conference centers
Posted: 24 Apr 2013, 8:00 pm


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A Q&A with Mark Cooper, new CEO of the International Association of Conference Centres
Posted: 24 Apr 2013, 8:00 pm
IACC's new CEO shares his insights on the events industry


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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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School Spirit
Posted: 17 Feb 2013, 7:00 pm
College stadiums and arenas are a classic choice for large groups


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Areas of Study
Posted: 17 Feb 2013, 7:00 pm
University meetings think outside of the classroom


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............................................................ Has Moved! Here's How to Get to Our New Site
Posted: 26 Jan 2013, 4:00 pm
On Saturday, January 26, took a bold step forward in its evolution: Along with Billboard’s fully revamped magazine, newly launched iPad app and the relaunched, the all-new has exciting new features and functionalities that will allow us to lead the essential conversations around the music business and its community in better and bigger ways than ever before. But we've moved servers -- here are details on where to find us while until our migration is complete.

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A Preview of This Week's Billboard
Posted: 25 Jan 2013, 6:29 pm
Justin Bieber has granted only one major interview for the Jan. 29 release of his new album Believe Acoustic. Billboard got it. In his fourth cover story for us, Bieber opens up to editorial director Bill Werde.

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Exclusive: HSN Partners With Las Vegas' Venetian On Concert Series
Posted: 25 Jan 2013, 3:33 pm
HSN is taking its Live music division on the road with a Las Vegas residency at the Venetial Resort Hotel Casino.The series kicks off Feb. 8 with Michael Bolton, who will debut his new studio album, "Ain’t No Mountain High Enough: A Tribute to Hitsville U.S.A." with Motown greats Smokey Robinson, Valerie Simpson and Martha Reeves as well as Kelly Rowland and Melanie Fiona

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Exclusive: HSN Partners With Las Vegas' Venetian On Concert Series
Posted: 25 Jan 2013, 3:33 pm
HSN is taking its Live music division on the road with a Las Vegas residency at the Venetial Resort Hotel Casino.The series kicks off Feb. 8 with Michael Bolton, who will debut his new studio album, "Ain’t No Mountain High Enough: A Tribute to Hitsville U.S.A." with Motown greats Smokey Robinson, Valerie Simpson and Martha Reeves as well as Kelly Rowland and Melanie Fiona

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Coachella 2013 Lineup: Blur, Phoenix, Red Hot Chili Peppers Headlining
Posted: 25 Jan 2013, 12:35 am
Blur, the Stone Roses, Phoenix and Red Hot Chili Peppers top the lineup for the 2013 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, which was unveiled late on Thursday night (Jan. 24). The annual fest is set to once again take over Indio, Calif. on consecutive weekends, this year from Apr. 12-14 and Apr. 19-21.

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Ticketmaster Canada Names Patti-Anne Tarlton SVP/COO
Posted: 24 Jan 2013, 6:09 pm
Ticketmaster Canada has appointed Patti-Anne Tarlton senior VP and chief operating officer. In turn, current COO Tom Worrall will become chairman of Ticketmaster Canada.

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Exclusive: Flaming Lips to Star in Hyundai Super Bowl Commercial
Posted: 24 Jan 2013, 4:32 pm
When the Flaming Lips formed nearly 30 years ago, the notion that the group would be performing a song called "Sun Blows Up Today" in a Super Bowl ad would have been as surreal some of their lyrics. But that's exactly what will happen when the group stars in one of Hyundai's four spots during the big game,  a 60-second commercial that will feature the band on-camera performing a brand-new, custom-written song bearing that name.

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Exclusive: Flaming Lips to Star in Hyundai Super Bowl Commercial
Posted: 24 Jan 2013, 4:32 pm
When the Flaming Lips formed nearly 30 years ago, the notion that the group would be performing a song called "Sun Blows Up Today" in a Super Bowl ad would have been as surreal some of their lyrics. But that's exactly what will happen when the group stars in one of Hyundai's four spots during the big game,  a 60-second commercial that will feature the band on-camera performing a brand-new, custom-written song bearing that name.

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Pepsi, Vevo to Spotlight Best New Artists, 'X Factor' Winner Tate Stevens During Grammys
Posted: 24 Jan 2013, 12:54 pm
Pepsi has announced collaborations with Pandora and Vevo for the Grammy Awards. With Vevo, Pepsi will produce a video series based around the Best New Artists nominees; and with Pandora the company will curate a Best New Artist mixtape as well as genre stations.

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Mnet America Hosting Grammy-Week Party With K-Pop Star Ailee
Posted: 24 Jan 2013, 9:43 am
Billboard can exclusively reveal when, where and who will be at Mnet America's 1st Annual Pre-Grammy Party featuring a K-pop starlet, YouTube sensation and "The Voice" contestants.

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13 Points to Watch at MIDEM 2013
Posted: 24 Jan 2013, 8:00 am
As the world's largest trade fair for the music industry, MIDEM can be daunting to navigate. Last year's gathering drew more than 6,850 attendees from 77 countries, representing 3,120 companies, including 155 startups. So, how best to manage MIDEM?

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13 Points to Watch at MIDEM 2013
Posted: 24 Jan 2013, 8:00 am
As the world's largest trade fair for the music industry, MIDEM can be daunting to navigate. Last year's gathering drew more than 6,850 attendees from 77 countries, representing 3,120 companies, including 155 startups. So, how best to manage MIDEM?

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13 Points to Watch at MIDEM 2013
Posted: 24 Jan 2013, 8:00 am
As the world's largest trade fair for the music industry, MIDEM can be daunting to navigate. Last year's gathering drew more than 6,850 attendees from 77 countries, representing 3,120 companies, including 155 startups. So, how best to manage MIDEM?

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Downtown Sells Label to Cofounders, Focuses on Publishing
Posted: 24 Jan 2013, 7:00 am
Downtown Music LLC, the privately held parent company of Downtown Records and Downtown Music Publishing, today announced the sale of its recorded music business to cofounders Josh Deutsch and Terence Lam.

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Justin Timberlake Sets Live Return for Super Bowl Charity Show
Posted: 23 Jan 2013, 6:54 pm
Less than one month after the singer-turned-actor exploded back onto the music scene with "Suit & Tie," featuring Jay-Z, Timberlake will perform his first solo concert in several years during Super Bowl weekend.

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Black Keys File Third Lawsuit Against 'Soundalikes' in TV Commercials
Posted: 23 Jan 2013, 6:50 pm
After settling two lawsuits with Pizza Hut and Home Depot in December over alleged use of its songs in commercials, the Black Keys have filed a third lawsuit -- this time, against Pinnacle Entertainment, which runs casinos throughout the United States, and Manhattan Production Music, a company that creates music for commercial advertising.

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Exclusive: Verizon Teams With Jill Scott for Black History Month Campaign
Posted: 23 Jan 2013, 6:24 pm
Verizon has teamed with Jill Scott for a multi-tiered print, TV and online advertising campaign to coincide with Black History Month, a rare artist endorsement deal for both parties, Billboard has learned.

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Madonna's 'MDNA' Tour Makes Billboard Boxscore's All-Time Top 10
Posted: 23 Jan 2013, 6:05 pm
The globe-trotting "MDNA" tour marks Madonna's ascent into the elite ranks of touring acts -- and makes her the top touring female artist of all time.

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Ultra Music and Sony Announce Partnership, Patrick Moxey Named President of Electronic Music
Posted: 23 Jan 2013, 3:48 pm
Sony Music and Ultra Music -- the electronic/dance record label, publishing house, management company and media platform owned and operated by Patrick Moxey -- have announced a globe-spanning strategic partnership between the two companies. As part of the deal Moxey was named president of electronic music for Sony Music Worldwide.

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Ultra Music and Sony Announce Partnership, Patrick Moxey Named President of Electronic Music
Posted: 23 Jan 2013, 3:48 pm
Sony Music and Ultra Music -- the electronic/dance record label, publishing house, management company and media platform owned and operated by Patrick Moxey -- have announced a globe-spanning strategic partnership between the two companies. As part of the deal Moxey was named president of electronic music for Sony Music Worldwide.

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Searching For The Next 'Sugar Man'? Try 'Twenty Feet From Stardom'
Posted: 23 Jan 2013, 1:30 pm
This year's Sundance had a half-dozen music-driven docs, including: Dave Grohl's "Sound City," "History of the Eagles, Part One," "Pussy Riot -- A Punk Prayer," "Narco Culturo" and "Mussel Shoals" -- all fine films. But the power of Morgan Neville's "Twenty Feet From Stardom," a story chronicling of the lives of background singers who sang on era-defining records from the 1960s into the 1990s, is such that it transcends the typical music documentary ecliciting gasps of disbelief, spontaneous applause and tears. It's a winner.

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Exclusive: SFX Acquires ID&T, Voodoo Experience
Posted: 23 Jan 2013, 8:05 am
SFX Entertainment has added five new companies to its portfolio, including Voodoo Experience and ID&T -- the largest dance-event promoter in the world -- according to its president Robert F.X. Sillerman. While recent chatter has hinted that Insomniac Events, the producer of Electric Daisy Carnival, would imminently announce a sale to Sillerman, the ID&T news might make that less likely -- although Sillerman didn't rule it out...

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Building the $100 Billion Dollar Music Business: Guest Post by Tom Silverman
Posted: 23 Jan 2013, 8:00 am
In this guest post, New Music Seminar/Tommy Boy Entertainment founder Tom Silverman describes how we can grow the music business into one that reaches $100 billion in annual retail revenue in the next decade.

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Three Directors Step Down at Sirius XM Radio as Liberty Media Takes Control
Posted: 22 Jan 2013, 4:50 pm
Leon Black, Lawrence Gilberti and Jack Shaw resign from the board of the satellite firm.  

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Billboard's New iPad App: Try It Now for Free!
Posted: 22 Jan 2013, 3:59 pm
Along with our fully revamped glossy magazine, which we unveiled today, Billboard has also introduced the new iPad edition of Billboard -- the complete weekly magazine reinvented for your iPad with interactive extras. Subscribe today to experience this week’s issue absolutely for free!

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Exclusive: Lionel Richie Signs With Red Light Management
Posted: 22 Jan 2013, 3:08 pm
Legendary hit maker Lionel Richie has signed with Red Light Management for representation, has learned. This is the second major signing of the young year for RLM, which recently added Tiesto to its growing list of clients.

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Exclusive: Lionel Richie Signs With Red Light Management
Posted: 22 Jan 2013, 3:08 pm
Legendary hit maker Lionel Richie has signed with Red Light Management for representation, has learned. This is the second major signing of the young year for RLM, which recently added Tiesto to its growing list of clients.

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Exclusive: Kobalt Launches Label Services Division, Preps New Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds Release
Posted: 22 Jan 2013, 2:07 pm
Not only did Kobalt sign a deal with Dave Grohl this week ( the company is also formally introducing a new Label Services division that will handle digital and physical releases for independent artists as well as Kobalt clients. Though the division has quietly released several albums in recent months, it will gain major attention next month with the release of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds’ “Push the Sky Away,” due out Feb. 18 through Kobalt Label Services  and Cave’s Bad Seed Ltd.

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Clive Davis To Speak At SXSW
Posted: 22 Jan 2013, 12:34 pm
Clive Davis will speak at South by Southwest (SXSW) Music and Media Conference and Festival on Thursday March 14, the festival announced today. His speech comes shortly after the release of his new autobiography “The Soundtrack of My Life.”

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Live Nation Strikes Deal to Host Concerts at London Olympic Stadium
Posted: 22 Jan 2013, 11:00 am
Live events giant Live Nation has struck a deal that gives it exclusive rights to organize concerts and music festivals in the British capital's Olympic Park and Olympic Stadium this summer.

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Two Voices of the Rolling Stones Meet for the First Time at Sundance Screening
Posted: 22 Jan 2013, 10:32 am
Lisa Fischer has sung female lead parts for the Rolling Stones on every tour since 1989, but it wasn't until film director Morgan Neville assembled a meeting of backup singers at Sundance that Fischer and Merry Clayton, a crucial vocalist in the music of Mick Jagger and the boys, would be in the same room together.

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Welcome to the New Billboard
Posted: 21 Jan 2013, 7:00 pm
The Jan. 26 edition of Billboard features a cover-story interview with Prince, but that world exclusive is accompanied by something else: A whole new magazine. This week, Billboard relaunches, and from the new logo on the front cover to the information packed graphic on the back page, the magazine is dedicated to the delivery of business journalism that leads and informs the essential conversations around the music and businesses it covers.

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Beyonce, Kelly Clarkson Add Soaring Voices to Obama's Inauguration
Posted: 21 Jan 2013, 4:22 pm
The inauguration of the President of the United States is a celebrated event indeed, even if it's effectively the follow-up to what was a landmark occasion four years ago. But if there's anyone who can bring the (white) house down, it's one of America's most beloved singing ladies, the first "American Idol," a songwriting legend and a showstopping choir.

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Warner Music, NMPA Reach Agreement on Royalty Rate for Music Videos
Posted: 21 Jan 2013, 2:43 pm
The Warner Music Group has become the second major label to agree to pay songwriters and publishers a royalty from revenue they derive from music videos, in a deal negotiated by the National Music Publishers' Association.

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Tim Leiweke on AEG Sale: 'We're Getting Down to the Final Straws'
Posted: 21 Jan 2013, 2:42 pm
The sale of Anschutz Entertainment Group is “taking longer” than expected, AEG CEO, Tim Leiweke told, but not due to lack of interest. While Leiweke declined to mention who the serious bidders were, he did indicate that the field has narrowed.  “We’re getting down to the final straws here,” he said.

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Tim Leiweke on AEG Sale: 'We're Getting Down to the Final Straws'
Posted: 21 Jan 2013, 2:42 pm
The sale of Anschutz Entertainment Group is “taking longer” than expected, AEG CEO, Tim Leiweke told, but not due to lack of interest. While Leiweke declined to mention who the serious bidders were, he did indicate that the field has narrowed.  “We’re getting down to the final straws here,” he said.

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'Pussy Riot - A Punk Prayer,' 'Twenty Feet From Stardom' Sell At Sundance
Posted: 21 Jan 2013, 6:17 am
Add “Pussy Riot — A Punk Prayer” to the growing music-centric documentaries sold at the Sundance Film Festival. HBO Docs acquired U.S. TV rights to the political documentary that received its world premiere Jan. 18. "Twenty Feet From Stardom," which tells the stories of several prominent backup singers, sold on Thursday to Radius and the Weinstein Co.

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Kim Dotcom Launches Mega, New File-Sharing Service
Posted: 19 Jan 2013, 4:09 pm
Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom has unveiled a new file-sharing website called Mega. "As of this minute one year ago #Megaupload was destroyed by the US Government," Dotcom tweeted on Saturday, along with a link to the new site.

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Dave Grohl's Sound City Players Tear It Up at Sundance
Posted: 19 Jan 2013, 2:05 pm
Hours after his "Sound City" documentary premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, Dave Grohl took 800 fans on a three-hour musical odyssey at Park City Live that emphasized his personal connection to the Van Nuys, Calif., recording studio his film chronicles.

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Obama Inauguration Music Guide: Katy Perry to Q-Tip
Posted: 19 Jan 2013, 1:41 pm
Just as Barack Obama's 2009 inauguration drew stars from Beyonce to Aretha Franklin, the president's re-election has led to another can't-miss week for music fans. We've hiked through Capital Hill's extensive inauguration schedule to bring you a list of the week's biggest balls.

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Sony/ATV's Martin Bandier on New, 'Quite Reasonable' Pandora Deal
Posted: 18 Jan 2013, 7:00 pm
Sony/ATV pulled a major coup earlier this week by negotiating a higher royalty rate from Pandora. Chairman/CEO Martin Bandier spoke with about the deal.

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Backbeat: The Surreal APAP Convention Hall: From Tibetan Monks to Lez Zeppelin, Branson On the Road to Slask
Posted: 18 Jan 2013, 6:00 pm
In many regards the convention hall at the annual Association of Performing Arts Presenters in New York CIty resembles nothing so much as a Fellini film. Here, Tibetan Monks, Polish folk dancers, Lez Zeppelin and, of course, a golden praying mantis, all man booths before thousands of curators, agents, and promoters from across the country who trod the Hilton New York's carpeted aisles looking to book their 2014-2015 seasons.

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Six Music-Related Issues Facing This Administration and Congress
Posted: 18 Jan 2013, 4:45 pm
From performance royalties to deciding how musicians travel with their instruments on airplanes, numerous issues central to the music industry are alive Washington D.C. as the city prepares for the president inauguration on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

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Six Music-Related Issues Facing This Administration and Congress
Posted: 18 Jan 2013, 4:45 pm
From performance royalties to deciding how musicians travel with their instruments on airplanes, numerous issues central to the music industry are alive Washington D.C. as the city prepares for the president inauguration on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

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Prince to Be Honored at Billboard Music Awards on May 19
Posted: 18 Jan 2013, 4:00 pm
The 2013 Billboard Music Awards are returning to Las Vegas on Sunday, May 19 and will honor the legendary artist Prince during a live ABC broadcast from the MGM Grand Garden Arena.

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Beyonce, Katy Perry, More Head to D.C. for Packed Slate of Obama Inauguration Events
Posted: 18 Jan 2013, 12:58 pm
Kelly Clarkson is a multiple nominee at next month's Grammy Awards, but what she's really excited about is another event where she'll be joined by Beyonce, Katy Perry, Stevie Wonder, Alicia Keys, Usher and Brad Paisley. Oh, and the president.

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CD Baby Parent Company AVL Digital Group Sold
Posted: 18 Jan 2013, 10:44 am
AVL Digital Group -- the parent company of CD Baby, Disc Makers and other self-publishing platforms -- has been sold to Stephens Capital Partners, a private equity group based in Little Rock, Arkansas, has learned.

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NARM Names Muve Music's Jeff Toig, Dimple Records' Dilyn Radakovitz to Board
Posted: 18 Jan 2013, 10:34 am
Muve Music senior VP Jeff Toig and Dimple Records founder and owner Dilyn Radakovitz have joined the board of directors of both NARM, the music business trade association, and, its digital initiatives arm.

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Run DMC's Darryl McDaniels Presenting 'Garden of Laughs' Benefit Comedy Showcase
Posted: 18 Jan 2013, 10:13 am
At the height of his lowest point, Run DMC's Darryl McDaniels says he considered suicide. Before leaving the world, however, he wanted to publish an autobiography, his life story beyond music; a conversation with his mother shortly thereafter revealed more information than he had bargained for.

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Backbeat: Carrie Underwood Celebrates No. 1 With 'Blown Away' Co-Writers Josh Kear and Chris Tompkins
Posted: 17 Jan 2013, 4:46 pm
Carrie Underwood joined Josh Kear and Chris Tompkins, the two songwriters who penned "Blown Away," at the CMA offices on Wednesday to celebrate their song hitting the top of the charts.

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Elizabeth Sobol Named Decca Label Group President and CEO
Posted: 17 Jan 2013, 12:15 pm
Elizabeth Sobol, current managing director at IMG Artists North America, has been named Decca Label Group's president and CEO. Sobol will report to Universal Music Group International's chairman and CEO Max Hole, who was promoted to that position last week.

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HMV Shutters Irish Operations, Appoints Receivers as Staff Stages Sit-In
Posted: 17 Jan 2013, 11:45 am
Staff at two HMV stores in Ireland have staged sit-in protests to secure their wages following the closure of the company’s 16 Irish stores, according to reports. HMV’s Irish operations were placed into receivership 24 hours after the British music retailer HMV confirmed it was suspending the trading of its shares and entering administration, the U.K. equivalent of Chapter 11.

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Andre Rieu, Bieber's 'Believe' Tour Top Hot Tours Chart
Posted: 17 Jan 2013, 10:50 am
Classical music dominates this week's Hot Tours report with Dutch violinist and conductor André Rieu earning the No. 1 ranking, followed by Justin Bieber's Believe Tour return and Phish's sold-out show at Madison Square Garden.

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Dave Grohl, Avicii and Afrojack: A Promoter's Approach to Booking Music at Sundance
Posted: 17 Jan 2013, 10:31 am
Park City Live is the only regularly operating nightclub in Park City, Utah, home of the Sundance Film Festival running Jan. 17-27, which will enter its second year of operation as a concert venue the day the festival begins. Here, Park City Live CEO Kathryn Burns talks about her first year promoting the venue.

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Dave Grohl, Avicii and Afrojack: A Promoter's Approach to Booking Music at Sundance
Posted: 17 Jan 2013, 10:31 am
Park City Live is the only regularly operating nightclub in Park City, Utah, home of the Sundance Film Festival running Jan. 17-27, which will enter its second year of operation as a concert venue the day the festival begins. Here, Park City Live CEO Kathryn Burns talks about her first year promoting the venue.

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Dave Grohl, Avicii and Afrojack: A Promoter's Approach to Booking Music at Sundance
Posted: 17 Jan 2013, 10:31 am
Park City Live is the only regularly operating nightclub in Park City, Utah, home of the Sundance Film Festival running Jan. 17-27, which will enter its second year of operation as a concert venue the day the festival begins. Here, Park City Live CEO Kathryn Burns talks about her first year promoting the venue.

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Ticketfly Expands Into Canada
Posted: 17 Jan 2013, 10:00 am
Ticketfly announced Thursday it has expanded into Canada by signing two of the country's top promoters, acquiring Prime Box Office ticketing company and securing some promoters and venues.

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Sony/ATV Negotiates 25% Royalty Increase From Pandora: Report
Posted: 17 Jan 2013, 8:01 am
The newly combined Sony/ATV-EMI music publishing powerhouse has used its market clout to negotiate a 25% royalty increase from Pandora, according to a report in the New York Post. The deal is said to run for the next 12 months.

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Mark Poston, EMI Australia Chairman, Steps Down
Posted: 16 Jan 2013, 9:38 pm
Mark Poston, EMI Australia’s chairman, is out as Universal Music continues its global integration of EMI. According to Universal Music, Poston “decided to step down” from his current position as chairman and senior VP marketing, Australasia at EMI Music Australia. UMA's president George Ash will oversee EMI Australasia until a replacement is announced.

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Business Matters: How Facebook Search Could Provide Cheap Market Research for Music Marketers
Posted: 16 Jan 2013, 8:13 pm
Facebook’s Graph Search doesn’t have a lot of obvious music uses but could end up being a free and useful tool for music marketers. As the Inside Facebook blog points out, the search tool provides an opportunity for businesses to conduct market research about specific groups of fans for free.

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LyricFind Partners with Gracenote, Gets Investment from Larry Marcus
Posted: 16 Jan 2013, 4:40 pm
LyricFind will now power all of Gracenote's lyric services as part of their new partnership, while BandPage director Larry Marcus will be providing his experience, and a personal investment, to the company.

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SoundExchange Distributions Grew 58% to $462 Million in 2012
Posted: 16 Jan 2013, 2:21 pm
SoundExchange distributed $462 million in digital performing royalties in 2012, a 58% increase over 2011, the organization announced Wednesday

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Lucian Grainge, Michael Lynton, to Co-Host Inaugural Innovation Summit
Posted: 16 Jan 2013, 1:30 pm
Innovation Forum, an inaugural summit of business leaders from the U.S. and U.K., will come together Feb. 4-5 in Los Angeles, kicking off 2013 Grammy week. UMG Chairman & CEO Lucian Grainge, Sony Ent. CEO Michael Lynton, Ari Emanuel, co-CEO of WME, and musician will co-host the event co-sponsored by the Founder's Forum and UK Trade & Investment.

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Sony Music Boosts Digital Team With Ole Obermann and Mark Piibe
Posted: 16 Jan 2013, 10:29 am
In a statement today from Sony Music Entertainment's president of global digital business and U.S. sales Dennis Kooker, the company announced the creation and appointment of two new, digitally focused positions; current Sony Music executive Ole Obermann has been named executive vice president, digital partner development and sales, while Mark Piibe will be leaving EMI to take on the role of executive vice president, global business development and digital strategy.

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Next Big Sound's 2012 State of Online Music
Posted: 15 Jan 2013, 6:29 pm
Next Big Sound, the data analytics company, has released their 2012 State of Online Music report. Below is an outline of the report's key takeaways by Big Sound's data journalist Liv Buli.  

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Business Matters: Relaunched Myspace Is a Success as Music Service -- But As a Social Network? We'll See ...
Posted: 15 Jan 2013, 5:35 pm
The redesigned Myspace finally opened up to the public today. The site, a year and a half in the works, is both a social network and a music discovery destination.

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Justin Timberlake's 'Suit & Tie' Aiming for First-Week Sales of 350,000
Posted: 15 Jan 2013, 4:44 pm
As reported yesterday (Jan. 14), Justin Timberlake's new single "Suit & Tie" is selling briskly and bound for a big first-week sales figure; label sources suggest that "Suit & Tie" may sell around 330,000 - 350,000 downloads by the end of the tracking week on Sunday, Jan. 20.

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Arts & Crafts Label Announces Ten-Year Anniversary Events
Posted: 15 Jan 2013, 2:16 pm
Toronto indie label Arts & Crafts, which helped spawn the careers of Feist and Broken Social Scene among others, is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year with AC10, a series of events, releases and collaborations in music, fashion, photography and literature.

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Facebook Unveils Social Search Feature
Posted: 15 Jan 2013, 1:50 pm
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has unveiled a new search feature on the world's biggest online social network. Called "graph search," the new service lets users search their social connections for information about people, interests, photos and places.

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Universal Music France President Pascal Negre Named UMG's Global Head of New Business
Posted: 15 Jan 2013, 12:15 pm
Pascal Nègre, president at Universal Music France, Italy, Middle East and Africa, has been promoted to UMG's global head of new business, according to a press release.

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Billboard's Parent Company Names Ross Levinsohn CEO
Posted: 15 Jan 2013, 10:41 am
Billboard's parent company has a new leader: Former Yahoo and Fox Interactive Media executive Ross Levinsohn.

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Morning Fix: UMJ's Koike to Head EMI Japan; Justin Timberlake Single's Fast Start; Facebook's Mystery Announcement
Posted: 15 Jan 2013, 8:30 am
In today's Fix: Universal Music Japan CEO Kazuhiko Koike to head up EMI Japan; Justin Timberlake's long-awaited single "Suit and Tie" gets off to a fast start; today's Facebook mystery announcement; UK's HMV facing bankruptcy; Rolling Stones lead Hot Tours; Greg Sandoval leaving CNET; Arts & Crafts' tenth anniversary; Country Music Association is going to Disneyland Paris; and way more than you could ever fit into the world's largest bagel.  

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Universal Music Japan's Kazuhiko Koike To Head EMI Japan
Posted: 15 Jan 2013, 8:07 am
Universal Music Japan today announced that its President and CEO Kazuhiko Koike will assume on the role of president/CEO of EMI Music Japan as well, replacing longtime CEO Hitoshi Namekata.

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Warner Music Sued for Millions by George Gershwin Heirs
Posted: 14 Jan 2013, 8:39 pm
A new lawsuit objects to the way that the music giant has licensed famous compositions and booked revenue.

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Greg Sandoval, Senior CNET Writer, Resigns Over CBS Controversy
Posted: 14 Jan 2013, 12:39 pm
CNET editor Greg Sandoval told Twitter earlier today that he's quitting the venerable tech news site over parent company CBS's apparent demand that the publication drop Dish Network's ad-skipping Hopper feature from consideration for its "Best of CES" awards.

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Indie Band Love in the Circus Explores 3D Imaging at CES
Posted: 14 Jan 2013, 12:14 pm
Music can be as much about the visuals as it is about the sound. Among the more intriguing demonstrations of this at this year's Consumer Electronics Show was a video display in the Sony booth from an independent band called Love in the Circus; the Los Angeles based band used projection imaging to create a live stage that evokes a Cirque du Soleil-esque setting, wrapping custom animations around a physical stage set.

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Indie Band Love in the Circus Explores 3D Imaging at CES
Posted: 14 Jan 2013, 12:14 pm
Music can be as much about the visuals as it is about the sound. Among the more intriguing demonstrations of this at this year's Consumer Electronics Show was a video display in the Sony booth from an independent band called Love in the Circus; the Los Angeles based band used projection imaging to create a live stage that evokes a Cirque du Soleil-esque setting, wrapping custom animations around a physical stage set.

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Pop Leads U.K. Album Sales for Second Year Running
Posted: 14 Jan 2013, 10:29 am
Big-selling albums from Emeli Sandé, Adele, Ed Sheeran and One Direction ensured that pop remained the most-popular genre in the United Kingdom in 2012, according to new figures released by the Official Charts Company (OCC) and British labels trade body the BPI.

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Rolling Stones Lead Hot Tours with '50' Shows
Posted: 14 Jan 2013, 10:05 am
Rock legends the Rolling Stones stand at the top of Hot Tours this week with ticket sales reaching $38.6 million from the 50 and Counting Tour, while Nickelback, Jennifer Lopez and Elton John reach the top ten on the strength of their Australian tours.

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Rolling Stones Lead Hot Tours with '50' Shows
Posted: 14 Jan 2013, 10:05 am
Rock legends the Rolling Stones stand at the top of Hot Tours this week with ticket sales reaching $38.6 million from the 50 and Counting Tour, while Nickelback, Jennifer Lopez and Elton John reach the top ten on the strength of their Australian tours.

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Virtual Visionaries
Posted: 25 Nov 2012, 7:00 pm
Emilie Barta and John Pollard aim to take the fear out of planning hybrid events


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All in the Planning
Posted: 11 Jul 2012, 8:00 pm


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Take 10 - Conference Centers
Posted: 11 Jun 2012, 8:00 pm
Take 10 - Conference Centers


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Convention Center Contacts
Posted: 7 Jun 2012, 8:00 pm


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New School
Posted: 30 Apr 2012, 8:00 pm


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Final Bow
Posted: 28 Mar 2012, 8:00 pm


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IACC Makes Global Push; Criteria to 'Evolve'
Posted: 21 Mar 2012, 8:00 pm


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Convention Center Coming to Provo
Posted: 25 Jan 2012, 7:00 pm


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Gambling Headed for Hawaii Conv. Center?
Posted: 24 Jan 2012, 7:00 pm


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Las Vegas Conv. Center Adds Digital Signage Feature
Posted: 24 Jan 2012, 7:00 pm


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Anaheim Conv. Center Plans Expansion
Posted: 23 Jan 2012, 7:00 pm


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A Duo of Conv. Centers Launches Free Wi-Fi
Posted: 23 Jan 2012, 7:00 pm


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IACC Board Sets New Service Standards
Posted: 30 Nov 2011, 7:00 pm


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APEC Under Way in Honolulu
Posted: 8 Nov 2011, 7:00 pm


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Beyond the Box
Posted: 24 Oct 2011, 8:00 pm
Expanding convention centers are addressing new planner expectations


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Association Meetings 3.0
Posted: 16 Sep 2011, 5:10 pm
What does the association meeting of tomorrow look like and how can you prepare to provide your members with the type of meetings they need? A presenter at ASAE's 2011 Annual Meeting & Expo provides her expert glimpse into the future.

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Rethinking Sponsorships in the Age of Social Media
Posted: 16 Sep 2011, 4:56 pm
Technology is changing our lives in seemingly countless ways, including association event sponsorships. Find out what a leading event software expert believes are the best ways to make the most of sponsorships in the age of social media.

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What You Need to Know About Simultaneous Interpretation
Posted: 16 Sep 2011, 4:54 pm
As more associations venture overseas, simultaneous interpretation is more important than ever. Two experts who have conducted events around the globe share their insights.

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Reduce Expenses for Meetings of Any Size
Posted: 16 Sep 2011, 4:51 pm
Even the largest associations sometimes have meetings that don't represent a lot of room nights, which can reduce your ability to negotiate with the host hotel. Here are nine tips to help you get the best deal for your next meeting, no matter how many attendees you have.

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Strategic Meeting Planning
Posted: 6 Jul 2011, 11:00 am
We use strategic planning in our everyday lives but often get too caught up in all the details to apply it effectively during the meeting planning process. Discover how to be truly strategic the next time you're planning an important meeting.

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New Models for Successful Convention Strategy
Posted: 6 Jul 2011, 10:56 am
There's more to meetings than good content and a nice location. An ASAE Fellow and association business strategy consultant shares his views on factors such as information needs, competing resources, and strategic barriers that impact attendance at association conventions and tradeshows.

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Post-Recession Economy Requires New Guidelines for Association Events
Posted: 6 Jul 2011, 10:53 am
Association events are making a comeback following the deep recession, but everyone remains sensitive to appearing too extravagant and expensive. Here's a process for determining what's appropriate for your next events.

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Increase Exhibitor Engagement Without Increasing Your Budget
Posted: 6 Jul 2011, 10:49 am
Every association tradeshow is under pressure to increase traffic, but at what cost? Follow these strategies for increasing traffic and enhancing exhibitor loyalty without busting your budget.

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Letter From the Chair: ME Section Contributes to "199 Ideas" for Planners
Posted: 6 Jul 2011, 10:47 am
The Meetings & Expositions Section Council chair discusses the debut of an exciting new resource for association planners, provides a glimpse of the upcoming Annual Meeting & Exposition, and lends his perspective on the value of associations to society.

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Tips to Make Transportation at Your Conference Greener
Posted: 9 May 2011, 10:09 am
Greening meetings has come a long way in recent years, but you can take it to the next level with a little strategy and a lot of enthusiasm. Learn how to get your group actively involved in being a deeper shade of green.

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University Venues
Posted: 30 Apr 2011, 8:00 pm
Collegiate athletic venues are ideal for team building and spectator fun


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Convention Centers
Posted: 28 Feb 2011, 7:00 pm
Beyond the Box


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Conference Centers
Posted: 31 Dec 2010, 7:00 pm
With mounting competition, conference centers get flexible


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Conference Center Changes
Posted: 31 Dec 2010, 7:00 pm
Conference Center Changes


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On Location - Convention Centers
Posted: 31 May 2010, 8:00 pm


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University Venues
Posted: 30 Apr 2010, 8:00 pm
Campus Culture


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Conference Centers
Posted: 31 Mar 2010, 8:00 pm

After a tough year, conference centers see better times ahead


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Convention Centers
Posted: 28 Feb 2010, 7:00 pm

Convention center cuisine is no longer an oxymoron


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University Venues
Posted: 28 Feb 2010, 7:00 pm

Universities offer an exciting range of museum venues


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Convention Centers
Posted: 28 Feb 2010, 7:00 pm
Convention center cuisine is no longer an oxymoron


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Dancing with Gorillas
Posted: 31 Oct 2009, 8:00 pm
Convention center contracts put meeting planners' negotiating skills to the test


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A Class Act
Posted: 30 Apr 2009, 8:00 pm


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University Venues
Posted: 28 Feb 2009, 7:00 pm


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Conference Centers
Posted: 31 Jan 2009, 7:00 pm


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Conference Centers
Posted: 31 Jan 2009, 7:00 pm


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Conference Centers
Posted: 31 Jan 2009, 7:00 pm
Conference Call


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Conference Call
Posted: 31 Dec 2008, 7:00 pm


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Center Stage
Posted: 31 Oct 2008, 8:00 pm


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Global Challenge
Posted: 31 Jul 2008, 8:00 pm


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Global Challenge
Posted: 30 Jun 2008, 8:00 pm


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Center Stage
Posted: 31 May 2008, 8:00 pm


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Head of the Class
Posted: 30 Apr 2008, 8:00 pm


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Center Stage
Posted: 31 Mar 2008, 8:00 pm


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Center Stage
Posted: 29 Feb 2008, 7:00 pm


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Raising the Bar
Posted: 31 Jan 2008, 7:00 pm


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Raising the Bar
Posted: 31 Jan 2008, 7:00 pm


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Raising the Bar
Posted: 31 Dec 2007, 7:00 pm


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Better by Design
Posted: 31 Oct 2007, 8:00 pm


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