International Artists To Take Over NYC For Colossus Festival
Posted: 13 Dec 2018, 9:56 pm
 A new event, The New Colossus Festival is set to take over six independent music venues on New York City?s Lower East Side and East Village March 7-10. The Natvral, Thick, Pom Pom Squad, Tallies, Wooing, Da$ Body, and Ramona Flowers are among the artists slated to perform. 

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StubHub Center To Become Dignity Health Sports Park
Posted: 13 Dec 2018, 2:00 pm
AEG has struck a multi-year partnership deal with Dignity Health and will be renaming Carson California?s StubHub Center, the permanent home of the LA Galaxy and temporary home of the Los Angeles Chargers, in 2019.

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Ocean Resort Ramping Up Concerts To Compete In Atlantic City
Posted: 13 Dec 2018, 1:25 pm
The Ocean Resort Casino is joining with The Bowery Presents/AEG to expand its entertainment offerings as it seeks to compete in the cutthroat Atlantic City nightlife market.

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Ari Greenburg Named President Of WME
Posted: 13 Dec 2018, 1:23 pm
Endeavor president Mark Shapiro, who was just appointed to the role Dec. 10, announced in an internal note today that Ari Greenburg will be the new president of WME, overseeing the agency?s offices in Beverly Hills, New York, Nashville, London and Sydney. 

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Christina Aguilera To Headline NYE Ball Drop Festivities In New York City
Posted: 13 Dec 2018, 1:01 pm
Dick Clark Productions announced Thursday that Aguilera will be joined by Bastille, Dan and Shay and New Kids On The Block leading up to the countdown on "Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve with Ryan Seacrest."

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Angélique Kidjo Receives Sustainability Award In Germany
Posted: 13 Dec 2018, 12:42 pm
The West African singer also performed at the Dec. 12 award ceremony in Düsseldorf, Germany. Other honorary prizes were awarded to U.S. actor Richard Gere and Irish musician Rea Garvey.

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Janet Jackson, Stevie Nicks, Zombies Elected To Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame
Posted: 13 Dec 2018, 11:13 am
 Janet Jackson joins her brother Michael and the Jackson 5 as members of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, earning induction on Thursday along with Stevie Nicks and the top fan vote-getter, Def Leppard.

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Billy Joel Announces 70th Birthday Madison Square Garden Concert
Posted: 13 Dec 2018, 9:51 am
Billy Joel announced he will play Madison Square Garden on his 70th birthday, May 9, 2019, extending his streak of monthly shows at the iconic arena to 64.

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Ian Anderson Continues Jethro Tull 50-Year Anniversary Celebration Into 2019
Posted: 12 Dec 2018, 7:52 pm
Because he?s not done yet, Ian Anderson?s 50 Years Of Jethro Tull tour will ramble on in North America and Europe next year. 

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Gold And Cold For NHL Winter Classic
Posted: 12 Dec 2018, 7:00 pm

Levy's loaded taters, served in a gold football helmet, will warm up hockey fans in South Bend, Ind., on New Year's Day. (Courtesy Levy)

Notre Dame football typically plays its final home game in late November, which can make for a chilly day at 80,000-seat Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend, Ind. But as the stadium prepares to open its doors Jan. 1 for the 2019 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic, concessionaire Levy wants to be ready with food and beverage offerings to match winter weather.

“We knew it’s going to be pretty cold, so we’re looking at serving up really satisfying and hearty dishes that will give fans who maybe aren’t regulars at Notre Dame games a taste of fan favorites, along with some new items,” said Tim Radack, senior executive chef for Levy’s Midwest region.

As the NHL descends on the venue for its annual New Year’s Day outdoor game, Levy has turned its attention to using the weather to its advantage. But the food provider also knows that it needs to make things simple to keep people warm and not standing in line.

“For large events, we try to focus on delivering a handful of really great new dishes, as opposed to overloading the menus with too many items,” Radack said. That said, Levy expects a few new dishes to be hits, including the loaded taters, pretzel-wrapped cheddar sausage, and beef and turkey chilies.

For the $12 loaded taters, Radack will take house-fried pub chips, jalapeno cheese, barbecue pulled pork, pickled onions, scallions and barbecue sauce and serve it all in an Irish gold-painted hockey helmet. The loaded taters will be available in a section on the main concourse and another on the upper concourse.

The $5 cheddar sausage and two styles of chilies, each at $6, help play into the theme of the day. “As you can see, we’re serving up some nice hot dishes that will keep fans toasty and full throughout the game,” Radack said.

For beverages, Levy will add in hot chocolate served in a souvenir cup for $7 (the regular hot chocolate without a souvenir cup is $5). But the biggest change from a typical Notre Dame football game comes in the form of alcohol, something not sold in general areas during college football events at the stadium, although alcohol has been served in premium spaces for three years at football games. It returns to the concourse for the Winter Classic after first being sold stadiumwide during a Garth Brooks concert in October.

To prepare for the change, Levy converted food stands into beer service stations and will work with a distributor to ensure the beer doesn’t freeze, Radack said.

In keeping with Notre Dame football tradition, Radack said, he expects the hot soft pretzel and souvenir hot chocolate to be the biggest sellers at the Winter Classic, keeping in line with football game sales numbers.

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Marshall Tucker Band Prepares For Hell And High Water In 2019
Posted: 12 Dec 2018, 6:47 pm
The Marshall Tucker Band is preparing to hit the road again, having just wrapped a string of dates in support of Southern rock brethren Lynyrd Skynyrd on that band?s ?Last of the Street Survivors? farewell tour.

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AEG Addresses Neil Young British Summer Time Performance
Posted: 12 Dec 2018, 3:14 pm
Neil Young recently announced that he would not be performing at British Summer Time Hyde Park, if Barclay?s remained on board as sponsor.

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At Fiserv Forum, A Drink To The Locals
Posted: 12 Dec 2018, 3:00 pm

The new bar on the upper concourse at Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee serves products from Door County Distillery and Door Peninsula Winery. (Courtesy Milwaukee Bucks)

Fiserv Forum now features homegrown wine and spirits after the Milwaukee Bucks recently signed a deal with a regional company.

The three-year sponsorship with Door County Distillery and Door Peninsula Winery gives Wisconsin’s largest wine producer a presence in the NBA arena’s upper concourse. Levy, the Bucks’ food provider, runs the branded bar, which is part of the South Side Marketplace, a showcase for local food and drink items.

The Door County Distillery Bar opened in late November at the arena, which had its first ticketed event in early September. Drink items include cherry mimosas, blackberry Merlot, strawberry Zinfandel and craft cocktails made with Door County gin, vodka, rum and cherry brandy.

The wine and spirits maker is situated in Sturgeon Bay, Wis., about 170 miles north of Milwaukee. The company has been making wine since 1974 and added spirits to the mix in 2011, said its marketing director, Beth Levendusky. Door County operates both wholesale and retail and its products reach across Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, Indiana and Minnesota.

Door County contacted the Bucks about partnering at Fiserv Forum. The two parties recognized it was a good fit, Levendusky said, because they share a vision for keeping the spirit of Wisconsin alive at the arena through locally sourced products.

In addition, Door County was searching for a new audience in sports and entertainment. The company previously sold spirits at concession stands and premium spaces at Lambeau Field, home of the NFL’s Green Bay Packers, but ended the partnership after three years.

“The Packers were moving in a different direction,” Levendusky said. “They’re developing Titletown (a mixed-use project) and growing a little faster than we wanted to go. We’ve got more of a narrow focus. With the Bucks, we’re both on the same page. Our branding, the whole look and feel of the bar, is simplistic and rustic.”

Door County’s local distributor supplies its products to Levy, which in turn chooses the wines and spirits to serve for Bucks games, concerts and other events. The focus is mostly on wine, since the Bucks have an exclusive deal with Jack Daniel’s in the spirits category, said Matt Pazaras, the team’s senior vice president of business development and strategy.

The agreement with Door County Distillery and Door Peninsula Winery extends to the sports bar that the Bucks and Levy plan to open in the entertainment district across the street from Fiserv Forum, Pazaras said. It’s expected to open sometime in the first quarter of 2019.

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Quick Food Change For Denver Venues
Posted: 12 Dec 2018, 2:00 pm

Fans of the NHL's Colorado Avalanche line up at Pepsi Center in Denver for a game in April. (Getty Images)

Kroenke Sports & Entertainment has awarded Legends the food contract at its three Denver venues after originally selecting Delaware North Sportservice to run those operations, sources said.

The extensive agreement covers Pepsi Center, Dick’s Sporting Goods Park and the Paramount Theatre, all controlled by KSE, which is owned by sports team owner and billionaire Stan Kroenke.

The late switch is highly unusual and took Delaware North officials by surprise. Delaware North’s contract was in the “redline” stage of final revisions last week when Jerry Jacobs Jr., Delaware North’s co-CEO, got a call from Jim Martin, KSE’s president and CEO. Martin informed Jacobs that Stan Kroenke told him to give the deal to Legends, sources said.

Multiple food providers submitted proposals and gave presentations in competing for the business.

“Something happened … like a voice from above,” said one source familiar with the negotiations. “There was nothing unusual about the process or the selection.”

Martin said he could not comment on the situation other than to say Kroenke Sports & Entertainment had not made a final decision on a food provider. He did say the company may keep its current vendors in place. Aramark runs concessions at the three facilities and Levy operates premium dining at Pepsi Center. It’s unclear when the current deal expires and when a new agreement would take effect.

Jacobs, as well as Legends officials, declined to comment.

Stan Kroenke owns the NBA’s Denver Nuggets, the NHL’s Colorado Avalanche and Major League Soccer’s Colorado Rapids, as well as Pepsi Center and the Paramount. KSE, the teams’ parent firm, runs the arena, the theater and the soccer stadium, which is owned by the city of Commerce.

The new food deal consolidates all three venues into one comprehensive agreement. Previously, those deals were separate for each facility, sources said.

In addition, Stan Kroenke owns the NFL’s Los Angeles Rams and is building a new stadium in Inglewood, Calif., where Legends is selling premium seats and sponsorships and filling the role of owner’s representative. No announcement has been made on the concessionaire for the stadium, which the Rams will share with the Los Angeles Chargers when it opens in 2020.

Legends is primarily owned by the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys and MLB’s New York Yankees. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones was a strong supporter of Kroenke’s proposal to build the $5 billion Inglewood stadium and entertainment complex. In January 2016, Jones was widely reported to have steered other NFL team owners to approve Kroenke’s plan over a joint-use stadium proposal in Carson.

KSE has plans to renovate food and beverage spaces at Pepsi Center, which opened in 1999, but to this point nothing has been determined, Martin said.

“It’s a 20-year-old building and they’re getting ready for major upgrades,” one source said. “This [new food agreement] was done way ahead of the expiration to give them time to start getting their plans together for design.”

Perkins + Will, formerly Sink Combs Dethlefs, has designed Pepsi Center’s most recent renovations, including suites and Club Lexus, an 11,000-square-foot premium lounge at event level. The all-inclusive club opened in 2016.

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Firefly Festival To Showcase Panic! At The Disco, Travis Scott, Post Malone
Posted: 12 Dec 2018, 1:34 pm
Next year?s Firefly Music Festival will light up Delaware with performances from Travis Scott, Post Malone, Panic! At The Disco, Kygo, Tyler, The Creator, Vampire Weekend, DJ Snake, Zedd, Death Cab for Cutie, Brackhampton, TLC, Jessie Reyez and many more

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Michelle Obama Extends ‘Becoming: An Intimate Conversation’ Tour
Posted: 12 Dec 2018, 1:20 pm
Michelle Obama is following up her 12-show book tour with a 2019 outing featuring more than a dozen dates in North America and a handful of stops in Europe. 

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Looping In For Retro-Futuristic Fun
Posted: 12 Dec 2018, 1:20 pm

The George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston is featuring Loops through Jan. 6 on the plaza in front of the building. (Houston First Corp.)

The George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston has installed an old-fashioned yet futuristic interactive installation called Loop to entertain guests during the busy holiday season.

“Loop blends a participatory experience with the whimsical, creating a unique visit to Avenida Houston which is front of the facility,” said Christine West, cultural programs manager for Houston First Corp., which promotes the convention center and 13 other Houston venues.

Olivier Girouard and Jonathan Villeneuve originally designed Loop in 2016 for the seventh edition of Luminothérapie, an annual light installation at the Place des Festivals in the Quartier des Spectacles in Montreal.

A cross between a music box, a zoetrope and a railway handcar, Loop is a retro-futuristic machine, more than six feet in diameter, that creates animated fairy-tale loops.


Sized for two adults, the Loop uses black-and-white images, tinted through a strobe effect, to recall early movies that are visible inside as well as outside the cylinder, so they can be viewed close up or far away.

Through the combined efforts of visitors working the hand lever, the image cylinder spins and lights up, creating the illusion of motion in the drawings.

“It’s an overall sensory experience, with lights and sound,” West said. “You sit on it like a saddle and push the bar, and it's silly fun.”

The speed at which the images move, the frequency of the light flickering and the rhythm of the audio composition is determined by how fast the participants move the lever.

“We renovated the convention center in 2016 and now there’s a large plaza with seating and restaurants,” West said. "This part of downtown used to be a dead zone. It’s alive now and we thought putting (Loop) on the hardscape on the plaza would be unique and fun.” 

The group also thought it would enhance the experience of the convention center guests, she said.

“Interestingly, we thought it would attract a lot of kids, but we’ve found out that adults are gravitating to it as well as children.”

The installation started Nov. 30 and will run through Jan. 6. 

“People have been lining up for the experience,” she said. “It’s very Instagrammable.”

Houston First is leasing Loop from the city of Montreal.

Designer Girouard said he got involved in the project after the city of Montreal ran a contest to find the next installation for Luminothérapie.

“My partner and I were attracted to the contest and came up with the idea of marrying a merry-go-round with a heavy tech experience,” he said. “We combined that experience with the push-me-pull-you from the old Bugs Bunny cartoons.”

The designers were paid “approximately $300,000” for their creation.

“We expect the imaginative artistry of Loop to enchant visitors and allow them to enjoy our space in a new way,” Girouard said. “We were inspired by the mechanical poetry of the zoetrope to give the public — thanks to digital technology — an extraordinary immersive experience. We want to stimulate everyone’s imagination and encourage all to participate, helping people see public space differently.”

Loop is traveling the United States, and will move next to Shaker Heights, Ohio, and then to Chicago.



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British Summer Time To Drop Barclaycard As A Sponsor, Says Neil Young
Posted: 12 Dec 2018, 12:46 pm
According to the latest post on the Neil Young Archives (NYA), British Summer Time Hyde Park is going to drop Barclaycard as main sponsor.

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Hotstar: Gregory Alan Isakov Cultivating Fans, Growing Touring Business
Posted: 12 Dec 2018, 12:23 pm
After years of toiling away on the road as well as in the actual dirt on his 3.5-acre rural Colorado farm, folk musician Gregory Alan Isakov has slowly but steadily pushed into larger rooms and shows no signs of slowing, with a patient but potent work ethic that extends to his team as well. 

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All Things Live: Waterland Acquires Six Nordic Live Entertainment Companies
Posted: 12 Dec 2018, 11:54 am
Waterland Private Equity acquired majority stakes in six leading live entertainment companies in the Nordics: ICO Concerts and ICO Management and Touring inDenmark, Friction and Atomic Soul Booking in Norway, as well as Blixten & Co and Maloney Concerts in Sweden.

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Madison Square Garden Company Names Geraldine Calpin Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer
Posted: 12 Dec 2018, 11:22 am
The Madison Square Garden Company named Geraldine Calpin, previously of WeWork and Hilton Worldwide, Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer, effective immediately.

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Hot Market At The Winter Meetings
Posted: 12 Dec 2018, 9:55 am

The Baseball Trade Show set up shop at the Baseball Winter Meetings at Mandalay Bay Resort in Las Vegas this week. (Tim Newcomb)

LAS VEGAS — The Mandalay Bay Resort in Las Vegas was crawling with folks looking for the latest news on Major League Baseball free agent signings this week. But stadiums — design, food and everything that keeps them going — were a major topic in another part of the annual Baseball Winter Meetings: The 2018 Baseball Trade Show handles stadiums too.

Brands of all sorts descend on the conference center-filling trade show, which ran Monday through Wednesday, appealing to the mixture of visitors with everything from on-field gear to training equipment to in-venue experiences.

In the venues category, companies ran the gamut, offering up concession items — hot dogs to ice pops to popcorn — giveaways, premium seating styles, videoboard technology, architectural services, in-stadium graphic displays, blow-up mascots and plenty more. Every vendor, though, wanted to catch the eye of a decision-maker.

“Teams are eating it up,” said Cliff Kennedy, new CEO of Frios Gourmet Pops, in his effort to introduce the 4-year-old ice pop company into ballparks. “We want to be an alternative to Dippin’ Dots. It is an easy self-serve for concessionaires, and we can give the sticks a private label.”

Kennedy said the company hasn’t ever served stadiums, but with the goal of offering services either directly to teams or working through a concessionaire, it thought this was the year to get set up for the hot summer months with an all-natural product.

Elsewhere, Garry Poe, event producer for Indiana-based Melrose Pyrotechnics, said fireworks remain a big draw for minor league teams, consistently creating the busiest nights on their schedule and generating more than enough money on gate receipts and concessions to offset the cost of the fireworks.

Poe said teams run fireworks anywhere from eight to 25 nights a summer, creating a community-minded promotion — full of sponsorship opportunities — that ensures fans remain in the park spending money no matter the score of the game as they wait for the postgame show.

For those interested in building a new stadium, HOK was on hand to show off, in virtual reality, the new ballpark for the hometown Las Vegas Aviators minor league team. “We work in all size venues,” said Ed Hurtig, senior design professional for HOK. “It is all about connections and meeting folks.”

Steve Schreiber, Daktronics marketing specialist, said the South Dakota-based maker of videoboards and displays was on hand to connect with customers while showing off its latest wares. He said that in ballparks, the focus isn’t just technological capability, although Daktronics is always happy to show that off, but also the capability of creating an interactive experience. “It is all about the fun,” he said. “That is where we are seeing it go right now.”

Mark Beskid, assistant general manager of the Lake Elsinore Storm, a Class A team in California with a nearly 8,000-seat stadium, was moving amid the rows of booths, checking out new vendors, getting additional quotes and searching specifically for new promotional items. “It is good to see new stuff, things you can add,” he said.

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Sports Designer Gedney Joins HNTB
Posted: 12 Dec 2018, 9:00 am

Ryan Gedney is the new national design director for architecture firm HNTB. (Courtesy Ryan Gedney)

Sports architect Ryan Gedney, whose design work on the NHL’s two newest arenas — in Detroit and Edmonton, Alberta — drew rave reviews, has joined HNTB after spending almost two decades with HOK and its predecessors.

Gedney, a senior vice president and design principal at his old firm, steps up at HNTB to assume the role of national design director. He is responsible for overseeing work across sports, plus aviation, transit and civic, among other markets.

Gedney starts his new job in early January. He will remain in Kansas City, home to HNTB’s sports practice, but his new job will take him to the firm’s offices to Los Angeles, Dallas, Denver and Seattle to collaborate with other design directors.

At HOK, his focus was sports with a specialty in big league arenas. Gedney played a principal role in designing Detroit’s Little Caesars Arena and Edmonton’s Rogers Place, two highly acclaimed NHL buildings.

He also worked on renovations to State Farm Arena in Atlanta, which transformed the NBA facility into a next-generation building that accommodates the new wave of premium-seat trends with couch seating, Topgolf swing suites and Southern plantation-themed suites. 

Most recently, Gedney was involved in a pair of United Soccer League projects, a new facility for Louisville City FC and a retrofit of an old municipal stadium for the Charlotte Independence.

In Kansas City, home of multiple sports design firms, Gedney had informal conversations with HNTB officials several months ago about the possibility of joining the firm in an elevated role. Those talks ultimately became more serious over time, he said.

“It’s obviously a small industry and things kind of germinate and evolve organically,” he said.

“It was a tough decision, but HNTB provided a unique opportunity for me to continue to have a strong voice in sports and entertainment … focused on the design culture I grew up in, a place where innovation and creativity drives everything.”

Gerardo Prado, HNTB’s sports practice leader and vice president, has known Gedney for eight years and always admired the “elegance and creativity” of his work. Gedney should help HNTB grow business in sports and entertainment, along with the firm’s other disciplines, he said.

“We’re in an aggressive hiring mode, and Ryan is part of building the foundation for our future sports practice,” Prado said.

Gedney said he will remain active as a designer at HNTB, which is involved in developing MLS stadiums in Sacramento, Calif., and Columbus, Ohio. In South Florida, HNTB is a finalist to design the stadium for Inter Miami FC, headed by David Beckham.

Apart from soccer, HNTB’s strength in sports over the years has been designing renovations to college football stadiums. In the NFL, the firm is teamed with Manica Architecture to design the Raiders' $1.8 billion stadium in Las Vegas that opens in 2020.

At this point, Gedney could not say which projects he may become involved in as he gets settled in at his new job.

Gedney, 42, got his start in sports architecture at the old Heinlein Schrock Stearns in 2001. Over the past 17 years, he’s seen the industry evolve with consolidation in the sports facility development space.

In 2004, Heinlein Schrock Stearns merged with CDFM2 to become 360 Architecture. Eleven years later, 360 merged with HOK.

Over the past year, several architects and others in leadership roles have left HOK, including George Heinlein, one of 360’s original partners. It comes as no surprise — in sports architecture, it’s the nature of the business for designers to come and go as the work flow fluctuates in that part of the industry.

Gedney said the transition at HOK had nothing to do with him leaving the company.

“I left at a time when business was thriving and my confidence in new leadership couldn’t be higher,” he said. “But the timing with my career and where HNTB is going offered a platform for growth. I’ve always welcomed transition in our industry as a whole. It’s a very exciting time for new voices and ideas at the highest level.”

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Enchanting Woods, Next Level Production & Luxury Loos: Wonderwood Launches In The UK
Posted: 12 Dec 2018, 6:49 am
The creators of the UK's popular PierJam and BassJam event series announced a new one-day boutique event for next summer: Wonderwood, a celebration of house, bass, grime and techno amidst the rolling hills and woods of Witton Country Park in Lancashire, England.

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Marco Antonio Solís Plots 2019 U.S. Dates
Posted: 11 Dec 2018, 9:40 pm
The story continues for the legendary Marco Antonio Solís, who is planning to take on U.S. arenas throughout seven months next month.

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HOT TICKETS: DEC. 13, 2018
Posted: 11 Dec 2018, 6:00 pm

Hot again, Florence + the Machine played Moda Center in Portland. (Rose Quarter)

Female-fronted bands rocked our Hot Tickets chart this week.

Florence + the Machine claimed the Nos. 2 and 3 slots on our 10,001-15,000-capacity chart. A stop at 3Arena in Dublin grossed $811,272, with attendance of 12,377 and a ticket range of $49.68-$71.44, taking the second slot. The show was promoted by MCD Productions. The band's third-place showing is for a stop at The SSE Hydro in Glasgow, Scotland, which grossed $741,518.

Stevie Nicks-led Fleetwood Mac scores with three shows. The '70s legends took the No. 3 spot on our chart for capacities of more than 15,000 with a performance at Washington's Tacoma Dome that grossed $2,351,594. Attendance was 18,828 and the ticket price range was $69.50-$229.50. Their stop at Golden 1 Center in Sacramento, Calif., came in at No. 4 with gross sales of $2,077,865. The Phoenix concert which sold 13,847 seats, ranks fifth. All three were Live Nation productions.

HOT TICKETS is a weekly summary of the top events and ticket sales as reported to VN Pulse via Pollstar. Following are the top 20 concerts and events, the top 5 in each capacity category, that took place Nov. 13-Dec. 11.

More Than 15,000 Capacity

10,001-15,000 Capacity


5,000 or Less

1) Roger Waters
Gross Sales:
$3,212,948; Venue: Estadio El Campín, Bogotá, Colombia; Attendance: 29,682; Ticket Range: $108.59; Promoter: Move Concerts; Dates: Nov. 21; No. of Shows: 1

2) Romeo Santos
Gross Sales: $2,797,036; Venue: Movistar Arena, Santiago; Attendance: 40,439; Ticket Range: $25.84-$215.46; Promoter: Saymon Diaz Concerts; Dates: Nov. 18-21; No. of Shows: 4

3) Fleetwood Mac
Gross Sales: $2,351,594; Venue: Tacoma (Wash.) Dome; Attendance: 18,828; Ticket Range: $69.50-$229.50; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Nov. 17; No. of Shows: 1

4) Fleetwood Mac
Gross Sales: $2,077,865; Venue: Golden 1 Center, Sacramento, Calif.; Attendance: 13,658; Ticket Range: $69.50-$229.50; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Nov. 23; No. of Shows: 1

5) Fleetwood Mac
Gross Sales: $2,000,833; Venue: Talking Stick Resort, Phoenix; Attendance: 13,847; Ticket Range: $69.50-$249.50; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Nov. 28; No. of Shows: 1

1) Mumford & Sons
Gross Sales: $823,669; Venue: 3Arena, Dublin; Attendance: 12,298; Ticket Range: $49.68-$71.44; Promoter: MCD Productions; Dates: Nov. 16; No. of Shows: 1

2) Florence + the Machine
Gross Sales: $811,272; Venue: 3Arena, Dublin; Attendance: 12,377; Ticket Range: $49.68-$71.44; Promoter: MCD Productions; Dates: Nov. 19; No. of Shows: 1

3) Florence + the Machine
Gross Sales: $741,518; Venue: The SSE Hydro, Glasgow, Scotland; Attendance: 12,132; Ticket Range: $44.60-$70.09; Promoter: DF Concerts; Dates: Nov. 17; No. of Shows: 1

4) Robbie Williams
Gross Sales: $652,052; Venue: Arena VFG, Guadalajara, Mexico; Attendance: 8,983; Ticket Range: $28.71-$127.70; Promoter: OCESA / CIE; Dates: Nov. 15; No. of Shows: 1

5) Mumford & Sons
Gross Sales: $623,687; Venue: The SSE Arena, Belfast; Attendance: 9,679; Ticket Range: $47.79-$73.27; Promoter: MCD Productions; Dates: Nov. 18; No. of Shows: 1

1) Illenium
Gross Sales: $1,188,045; Venue: Bill Graham Civic Auditorium, San Francisco; Attendance: 26,400; Ticket Range: $45; Promoter: Another Planet Entertainment; Dates: Nov. 21-24; No. of Shows: 3

2) Lorde
Gross Sales: $513,608; Venue: Brisbane (Australia) Riverstage; Attendance: 8,871; Ticket Range: $62.15; Promoter: Frontier Touring; Dates: Nov. 23; No. of Shows: 1

3) Steve Martin, Martin Short
Gross Sales: $442,500; Venue: The Anthem, Washington, D.C.; Attendance: 2,878; Ticket Range: $75-$150; Promoter: I.M.P.; Dates: Nov. 17; No. of Shows: 1

4) Galantis
Gross Sales: $428,510; Venue: Bill Graham Civic Auditorium, San Francisco; Attendance: 8,780; Ticket Range: $45; Promoter: Another Planet Entertainment; Dates: Nov. 16; No. of Shows: 1

5) 2Cellos
Gross Sales: $425,833; Venue: ICC Sydney Theatre, Sydney; Attendance: 5,861; Ticket Range: $69.10-$212.52; Promoter: In-house Promotion, TEG Dainty; Dates: Nov. 28; No. of Shows: 1

1) “Hamilton”
Gross Sales: $3,289,890; Venue: Durham (N.C.) Performing Arts Center; Attendance: 21,474; Ticket Range: $65-$195; Promoter: In-house Promotion; Dates: Nov. 27-Dec. 2; No. of Shows: 8

2) “Hamilton”
Gross Sales: $3,277,496; Venue: Durham (N.C.) Performing Arts Center; Attendance: 21,472; Ticket Range: $65-$195; Promoter: In-house Promotion; Dates: Nov. 20-25; No. of Shows: 8

3) Lorde
Gross Sales: $938,726; Venue: Sydney Opera House, Sydney; Attendance: 11,624; Ticket Range: $80.76; Promoter: Frontier Touring; Dates: Nov. 21-22; No. of Shows: 2

4) Anita Baker
Gross Sales: $742,080; Venue: Chicago Theatre, Chicago; Attendance: 6,930; Ticket Range: $69.50-$199.50; Promoter: Steve Litman Presents; Dates: Nov. 26-27; No. of Shows: 2

5) Van Morrison
Gross Sales: $609,914; Venue: Fox Theater, Oakland; Attendance: 3,871; Ticket Range: $86.50-$246.50; Promoter: Another Planet Entertainment; Dates: Nov. 14-15; No. of Shows: 2

The weekly Hot Tickets chart is compiled by Pollstar. For more information, e-mail or click here to submit your Box Office data now.


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Trey Anastasio Announces New Band Ghosts of The Forest, Tour
Posted: 11 Dec 2018, 4:26 pm
Trey Anastasio announced a new band, Ghosts of the Forest, and shared tour dates for the group.

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Camillo Takes Role With Flyers, Arena
Posted: 11 Dec 2018, 4:20 pm

Valerie_Camillo_Headshot1.jpgValerie Camillo.

Comcast Spectacor named Valerie Camillo president of business operations for the Philadelphia Flyers and Wells Fargo Center.

Camillo joins Comcast Spectacor from the Washington Nationals, where she was chief revenue and marketing officer. Previously, she was senior vice president of team marketing and business operations for the NBA, led a strategy consulting practice for Booz Allen Hamilton and was a consultant for IBM and PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Among those reporting to Camillo in her new role are the Flyers’ executive vice president and chief operating officer, Shawn Tilger, and the Wells Fargo Center’s senior vice president and general manager, Mike Scanlon.

Camillo will relocate to the Philadelphia area and start her new role early next year.

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Florida Atlantic Seating A Shore Thing
Posted: 11 Dec 2018, 3:10 pm

Florida Atlantic University is bringing a touch of South Beach to college football on campus. For the 2019 season, the Boca Raton school plans to build eight premium cabanas behind the south end zone at FAU Stadium.

The field-level cabanas, priced at $12,500 a season, come with 12 game tickets and four parking passes. FAU officials are still determining the exact amenities, but the cabanas will most likely include a television and a ceiling fan, said Michael Graffin, the school's athletic director of development.  Food and drink is a separate fee.

FAU is selling the inventory in one-year and five-year agreements, Graffin, said.

The school installed a test model stocked with food and drink for the final two regular-season home games and invited its biggest donors to experience the cabana for one quarter of play. As of mid-December, two deals were signed and officials were in discussions to sell three more units, Graffin said.

“Being in South Florida, we try to create a different experience,” he said. “We have suites and loges, but both of those are farther back from the field. We’re still deciding what we’re going to do to execute it and the amenities.”

Graffin said, “The toughest part is making that experience in the end zone [compelling] for the whole game, and that’s where the live TV feed comes in, especially for people that really care about FAU and are not just there for the party.”

Cabanas are not new in college football and some schools and bowl games have experimented with end zone hospitality units extending to shipping container retrofits and tiny homes.

In 2017, the University of Central Florida introduced cabanas in both end zones at Spectrum Stadium in Orlando that sold for $22,000 a season. UCF Athletic Director Danny White and FAU Athletic Director Brian White are brothers and both sons of Duke University Athletic Director Kevin White.

“Brian obviously knew that his brother was doing it at Central Florida,” Graffin said. “We’re going to start with eight cabanas and see how it goes, and we have some other things that we’re thinking of doing beyond that.”

Mississippi State University, starting in 2016, set up eight cabanas in the upper deck of the north end zone at Davis Wade Stadium. Those units, priced at $18,000 a season, quickly sold out after they were first marketed to those on a waiting list for premium seats, said Scott Stricklin, the school’s former athletic director, who now holds the same position at Florida.

The Colonnade Group, a Birmingham, Ala., hospitality management firm tied to the UCF and MSU projects, is in talks with FAU to both produce the cabanas and operate those premium spaces, said Robbie Robertson, the company’s president and CEO. The firm developed FAU’s test unit. 

“They’re very popular and create a special look and feel,” Robertson said. “The cabanas at FAU will have more of a South Beach theme in the styling of the actual structure, with plantation shutters for walls. These things don’t all look alike. They’re designed to fit the atmosphere of the school.”

FAU officials believe the cabanas will fit the market in Boca Raton, an affluent community that enjoys the premium experience, Graffin said. It’s also an opportunity to create a new seating product to stand out in a competitive market for sports and entertainment in South Florida, he said.

Overall, sales of FAU’s premium seats are in good shape. Fifteen of the stadium’s 16 suites are sold with one reserved for single-game sales. Twenty-three of the 29 loge boxes were sold for the 2018 season with a few reserved for use by television broadcasters, Graffin said.

The school, a member of Conference USA, sells about 15,000 tickets for each home game, and actual attendance is in the neighborhood of 10,000 to 12,000, Graffin said. FAU Stadium has just short of 30,000 fixed seats.

“There are a lot of fair-weather fans in South Florida because there’s so much to do here,” he said. “We lose and people don’t want to watch it. They had high expectations after last year when we won 11 games. This year, some games went the wrong way and we couldn’t finish. That’s the biggest thing.”

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King Louis: Messina Touring Group’s Banner Year
Posted: 11 Dec 2018, 2:19 pm
Louis Messina is the kind of person who can charm his way out of a kidnapping. It?s a long story and involved Led Zeppelin, a mobster wanting his ROI and Louis, who as a hostage befriended his captors. The story illustrates how Messina, now at 71 years young, full of charisma and gusto, went from indefatigable local, regional and national promoter to unstoppable independent juggernaut.

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Team Louis: The MTG All-Stars
Posted: 11 Dec 2018, 2:02 pm
The 28 people who work for Messina Touring Group?s Austin and Nashville offices, according to the firm?s founder and CEO, are all ?superstars.? So much so in fact, that it?s near impossible to get Louis Messina himself to narrow it down to just a few.  ?I would say the same thing about everybody who works for me,? he says. ?They?re all one of a kind.? The humble team leader then claims he?s ?not very smart,? but the one thing he is ?brilliant? at is ?empowering the people working for me. I?ve got so many superstars, I?m not kidding.? Here then, in his own words, are the Top 5 we had to narrow it down to who help make the promoter so singularly successful. 

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A Family Tree: Roots Run Deep For Messina Touring Group
Posted: 11 Dec 2018, 1:32 pm
The country and pop artists who work with Louis Messina and his  Austin-based concert promotion company Messina Touring Group, a partner of AEG Presents, are an elite troupe of musicians ? part of a small artist roster that could appear, quite convincingly, like a top tours list for any given year. If one of Messina?s artists is on the road, chances are it will be one of the year?s most impactful tourings at the box office.

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King Louis: Messina Touring Group’s Banner Year
Posted: 11 Dec 2018, 12:48 pm
Louis Messina is the kind of person who can charm his way out of a kidnapping. It?s a long story and involved Led Zeppelin, a mobster wanting his ROI and Louis, who as a hostage befriended his captors. The story illustrates how Messina, now at 71 years young, full of charisma and gusto, went from indefatigable local, regional and national promoter to unstoppable independent juggernaut.

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Mitski Announces 2019 North American Tour
Posted: 11 Dec 2018, 10:07 am
Mitski announced a 2019 North American tour that will hit cities she didn't play in 2018.

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Stadiums Take Control of Energy Bills
Posted: 11 Dec 2018, 10:00 am

Arsenal recently installed a 2-megawatt battery system at Emirates Stadium, with plans to expand it next summer. (Courtesy Arsenal)

Two European soccer stadiums have followed a path forged by StubHub Center in Carson, Calif., by bringing battery storage systems to stadium operations, calling the effort a cost-effective way to handle energy consumption.

Premier League power Arsenal announced its phased battery storage system in November at Emirates Stadium in London. That follows the installation over the summer of a system by soccer club Ajax at Johan Cruijff Arena in Amsterdam.

“It works great,” said Adam Duvendeck, vice president of operations at StubHub Center, about the venue’s system, which was put into place in 2016. “It is not a sexy installment, but the usage and ability of the battery is pretty awesome.”

The onsite battery systems allow stadium operators to store energy for discharge during times of peak usage. The teams see this as an environmentally friendly solution that allows them to buy clean energy or store energy created on site, but it also offers a way to offset massive power draws from the local utility grid. In Los Angeles, this saves the StubHub Center money.

“We use it in ‘peak shaving,’” Duvendeck said. “Every building is going to have energy that costs different amounts at different times. Essentially, this allows us to buy energy when it’s the cheapest — overnight, for example — and then discharge when it is at its highest.”

StubHub Center, owned and operated by AEG, has a Major League Soccer tenant, the L.A. Galaxy, and is the temporary home of the NFL’s Los Angeles Chargers, who are scheduled to move to their new home in Inglewood in 2020.

StubHub has a 2-megawatt battery system at the north end of the stadium that uses Tesla battery technology. Duvendeck said the stadium works with Stem, a Millbrae, Calif.-based artificial intelligence smart energy solution provider, to run algorithms on the best times to buy energy from the local grid, charge the battery system and discharge the stored energy.

For example, say the stadium burns through 2,000 kilowatts during a four-hour event on a hot summer afternoon in Southern California, when energy costs are highest. That can be dropped to 1,600 kilowatts if the venue applies 400 kilowatts of stored energy from the battery system, reducing the cost of energy for the event.

“It is a great tool in our arsenal,” Duvendeck said. “I’m sure for most venues, after labor, energy tends to be one of the more expensive single line items in the budget, and we are trying to figure out ways to reduce energy consumption and impact on the grid overall.”

Dutch soccer club Ajax turned to Nissan for its battery storage system at Johan Cruijff Arena, equaling a 3-megawatt system to power the stadium during busy times.

“Thanks to this energy storage system, the stadium can use its own sustainable energy more intelligently and it can trade the batteries’ available storage capacity,” said Henk van Raan, director of innovation at the venue. “The arena is assured of a considerable amount of power, even during an outage. As a result, the stadium will contribute to a stable Dutch energy grid.”

The project was a collaboration among Nissan, energy company Eaton and the Amsterdam Climate and Energy Fund.

Arsenal turned to Octopus Energy to operate its Pivot Power system, installing a 2-megawatt battery system, with plans to add an additional megawatt of capacity next summer. Investment company Downing LLP has funded the effort, and Mehal Shah, Downing investment manager, called it a landmark deal, something that will help big companies and investors take notice of the transition to a low-carbon economy. “Battery storage is attracting growing interest from smart businesses like Arsenal,” he said.

In the United States, Duvendeck said that incentives — whether federal or local — and subsidies help offset the upfront costs and shorten the time needed to recoup the outlay.

The Emirates Stadium system can run the 60,000-seat venue for an entire match, the club said, the equivalent of powering 2,700 homes for two hours.

As at StubHub Center, the effort allows Arsenal to avoid peak-power pricing, buying electricity when it is cheap and storing it for later use. Typically in London, energy can cost three times more at peak times than overnight.

“This is a big step forward for us in being efficient with energy usage, and it builds on our work in reducing our carbon footprint as an organization,” said Vinai Venkatesham, Arsenal managing director. “We have been powered by green energy since 2016 thanks to Octopus Energy, and the battery storage system will support our efforts further.”

Venkatesham said moving Emirates Stadium onto the battery storage system will also help provide flexible capacity for the local utility. The battery energy will be automatically traded and optimized by aggregator Open Energi with British utility National Grid in response to market signals.

“Arsenal is showing how football clubs and other big power users can save money and support the U.K.’s climate change and clean-air targets,” said Matt Allen, Pivot Power CEO. “Batteries are central to creating a cost-effective, low-carbon economy and we are keen to help government, local authorities and businesses seize the opportunities they offer.”

Duvendeck said that he’s quick to tell those who come asking that battery storage works exceptionally well, especially for those with predictable usage situations, such as office buildings. For a stadium, it works more like a manufacturing plant that ramps up for a production run. “While we are not producing any type of material products, we are producing experiences,” he said.

The Galaxy played six of its 17 home games in 2018 on weekdays, and the weekend games fluctuated between afternoon and evening start times. “Regardless of the timing, there will be points in time where energy is less expensive and points where energy is more expensive,” Duvendeck said. “The battery allows us to dictate how expensive our power is going to be. We can hedge the way the rates flex throughout the day, week or month and respond by reducing our consumption and expanding the battery during that time period.”

Duvendeck said they remain interested in additional battery capacity, though no plans are in place yet.

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Cher Adds European 'Here We Go Again' Tour Dates
Posted: 11 Dec 2018, 9:23 am
Cher has added 17 European dates to the "Here We Go Again" tour, which kicks off in the U.S. in January. It marks her first return to mainland Europe and the UK in 14 years.

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PRG Invests In German Stage Technology Expert Movecat
Posted: 11 Dec 2018, 8:23 am
Production Resource Group LLC (PRG) has invested in German stage technology company Movecat, manufacturer of innovative motion hoists that meet the highest safety standards.

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Live Nation Acquires Mainland Music In Switzerland
Posted: 11 Dec 2018, 5:17 am
Live Nation today announced the acquisition of Swiss concert promoter Mainland Music, which promotes over 650 shows annually across a variety of genres including rock, hip-hop, urban, punk rock and metal.

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Foo Fighters, Tool, Korn Announced For NC’s Epicenter Festival
Posted: 10 Dec 2018, 9:13 pm
Danny Wimmer Presents? newly announced Epicenter Festival in Rockingham, N.C., will feature a broad array of rock acts including Foo Fighters, Tool, Korn, Rob Zombie, Judas Priest, Bring Me The Horizon, The Cult, 311, Evanescence, Bush, Live and many more. The daily lineups have also been unveiled.

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CODA Launches Sports Division; Appoints Debbie Ward To Lead Brand Partnerships, Sync & Corporate
Posted: 10 Dec 2018, 5:09 pm
CODA Agency today announced the establishment of CODA Independent Sports agency and the appointment of Debbie Ward to a new leadership position.

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Venues Vie For Pollstar Awards
Posted: 5 Dec 2018, 8:00 pm

New York and Washington, D.C., dominate the Nightclub of the Year category, one of several venue-centric groups of nominees announced last week for the 30th annual Pollstar Awards.

Brooklyn’s Brooklyn Bowl and Brooklyn Steel and Manhattan’s Irving Plaza face off against Washington’s 9:30 Club and The Anthem in the category, leaving Chicago’s Thalia Hall to carry the banner for the rest of the U.S.

The winners’ trophies will be handed out at a ceremony concluding the Pollstar Live! Conference, which runs Feb. 11-13 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Los Angeles. The awards, presented by Live Nation, recognize the most successful artists, executives, venues, events and companies in the global live entertainment business.

Other venue-related categories include Theatre of the Year, Arena of the Year, Best Outdoor Concert Venue, Best New Concert Venue, Venue Executive of the Year, Music Festival Over 30K Capacity, and Music Festival Under 30K Capacity, whose nominees are listed below. Other categories and nominees can be found here.

The 2018 Pollstar Award nominees were selected by a panel of more than 2,000 agents, managers, promoters, venue operators and professionals who work in the live entertainment industry. While the Pollstar Awards will remain predominantly an industry peer-voted honor, Pollstar will for the first time use its box office data in designating winners for certain awards with a weighting of 30 percent (15 percent Average Gross Revenue and 15 percent Average Ticket Sales) applied to vote total to determine final winners.

Nightclub of the Year
Brooklyn Steel | Brooklyn, N.Y.
9:30 Club | Washington, D.C.
The Anthem | Washington, D.C.
Irving Plaza | New York
Brooklyn Bowl | Brooklyn, N.Y.
Thalia Hall | Chicago

Theatre of the Year
Ryman Auditorium | Nashville, Tenn.
Radio City Music Hall | New York
Beacon Theatre | New York
Chicago Theater | Chicago
Fox Theater Oakland | Oakland, Calif.
Fox Theatre Atlanta | Atlanta
Arvest Bank Theatre at The Midland | Kansas City, Mo.
Arena of the Year
The Forum | Inglewood, Calif.
Madison Square Garden Arena | New York
Bridgestone Arena | Nashville, Tenn.
Staples Center | Los Angeles
Barclays Center | Brooklyn, N.Y.
Golden 1 Center | Sacramento, Calif.
02 Arena | London

Best Outdoor Concert Venue
Red Rocks Amphitheatre | Morrison, Colo.
Hollywood Bowl | Los Angeles
Forest Hills Stadium | Queens, N.Y.
Greek Theatre | Los Angeles
Ascend Amphitheatre | Nashville, Tenn.
Gorge Amphitheatre | George, Wa.
Merriweather Post Pavilion | Columbia, Md.

Best New Concert Venue
The Sylvee | Madison, Wis.
Avenir Centre | Moncton, New Brunswick
Fiserv Forum | Milwaukee
The Rooftop at Pier 17 | New York
Metropolitan Opera House | Philadelphia
The Armory | Minneapolis
Elsewhere | Brooklyn, N.Y.

Venue Executive of the Year
Keith Sheldon, Barclays Center
Jeff Nickler, BOK Center
David Kells, Bridgestone Arena
Laurie Jacoby, Madison Square Garden
Chris Wright, Oracle Arena and Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum
James Rasmussen, Golden 1 Center
Becky Colwell, Greek Theatre

Music Festival Over 30K Capacity
Coachella | Indio, Calif.
Lollapalooza | Chicago
Stagecoach | Indio, Calif.
Austin City Limits Music Festival | Austin, Texas
Bonnaroo | Manchester, Tenn.
BottleRock Napa Valley | Napa, Calif.
Outside Lands | San Francisco

Music Festival Under 30K Capacity
Newport Folk Festival | Newpork, R.I.
The Hangout Beach, Music & Arts Festival | Gulf Shores, Ala.
Desert Daze | Lake Perris, Calif.
Forecastle | Louisville, Ky.
Moon River | Chattanooga, Tenn.
The Ohana Fest | Dana Point, Calif.

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Jaguars Help Bring Stones To Town
Posted: 5 Dec 2018, 4:30 pm

A concert featuring Lynyrd Skynyrd at TIAA Bank Field on Sept. 2 helped make the case that the stadium was ready for high-profile concerts. (Doltyn Snedden)

The Rolling Stones have booked their first stadium concert in Jacksonville, Fla., in 30 years, in large part because of the NFL Jacksonville Jaguars’ financial commitment to bring large-scale events to TIAA Bank Field.

The Stones’ No Filter tour will play the north Florida stadium April 24, and according to Jaguars’ officials, early ticket sales data show strong interest from Georgia after the group bypassed Atlanta, traditionally a cornerstone in the Southeast for major concerts.

The band on Nov. 19 announced a 13-city U.S. tour that will launch in April. It’s not known whether additional stops will be announced later.

For Greater Jacksonville, a region of 900,000 residents, the show would not have happened without several factors, including the success of the Lynyrd Skynyrd concert over Labor Day weekend, Jaguars President Mark Lamping said.

Under team owner Shahid Khan, the Jaguars have invested tens of millions of dollars to upgrade the stadium over the past seven years. TIAA Bank Field originally opened in 1928 and underwent a $124 million rebuild to accommodate the Jaguars, who entered the league in 1995 as an expansion team.

The stadium itself has a rich history as a concert venue. As the old Gator Bowl, it was among the few stadiums to play host to Elvis Presley (1956), The Beatles (1964) and the Rolling Stones (1975 and 1989).

In addition, the Jaguars built Daily’s Place, the 5,500-seat amphitheater attached to the stadium. Live Nation has booked an average of 40 concerts over the summer since it opened in May 2017, Lamping said, and the venue has helped put Jacksonville back on the map for artists, agents and promoters.

The city of Jacksonville, owner of TIAA Bank Field, did its part by adjusting the Jaguars’ lease, allowing them to book concerts.

To help strengthen their position in the touring industry, the Jaguars hired Larry Wilson, formerly with SMG, the stadium’s management firm, as their vice president of facility operations. The team also signed a three-year deal with OVG Facilities for further support in booking concerts and other special events. (OVG Facilities is a division of Oak View Group, owner of VenuesNow.)

“We felt there was a big opportunity out there and way too many shows were bypassing Jacksonville,” Lamping said. “Once Daily’s Place launched, we began having more frequent and direct conversations with agents and promoters and began to make our presence known in Nashville and Los Angeles.”

Most important, the Jaguars have taken an aggressive approach by assuming financial risk upfront to promote concerts, which gives them a greater chance of securing the Stones over a typical rental agreement, said Chad Johnson, the team’s senior vice president of sales and service and chief content officer.

The Pittsburgh Steelers, New England Patriots and Detroit Lions are other NFL teams that have taken on the same business model at their stadiums. As chief content officer in Jacksonville, a new position with the Jaguars, Johnson works closely with Wilson to book concerts at the stadium and amphitheater.

The Sept. 2 Lynyrd Skynyrd show was the first time the Jaguars filled the role of promoter. The team used the event to prove a smaller market such as Jacksonville could deliver a first-class experience for the artists and the fans, Johnson said.

Skynyrd, Jason Aldean and Kid Rock were the headliners with the Marshall Tucker Band, Charlie Daniels Band and Blackberry Smoke as support acts. The Jaguars partnered with Live Nation and it was a profitable venture, grossing more than $3.75 million in ticket sales with more than 44,000 in attendance.

“It solidified what we have been saying all along, that what we may lack in market size we gain in controlling the rhetoric and how the city can mobilize around large events,” Johnson said. “The success of that show allowed us to continue to establish our reputation in the industry and start having conversations with the right people about how that can continue.”

For the Stones, the “right people” included Concerts West, the group’s tour promoter. The Jaguars were able to get the promoter and the Stones’ management group to buy into their vision and ability to execute the production, Johnson said.

Their efforts paid off. Jacksonville is for now one of only 13 cities on the U.S. tour.

John Meglen, co-CEO of Concerts West, which is part of AEG Presents, did not return multiple emails for comment.

“Jacksonville would to anyone’s standards be an outlier there,” Johnson said. “OVG assisted in making those connections with Concerts West and making sure they were able to listen to and understand the investments we’ve made … to get the promoter comfortable with what we could deliver.”

“From that point, we just needed to work through what would be the business terms and overall relationship,” he said.

The 2019 tour kicks off at Hard Rock Stadium near Miami before heading to Jacksonville. The closest venue north of Jacksonville on the Stones’ route is FedEx Field in Washington and the closest west is NRG Stadium in Houston, so the city should see a spike in tourism dollars.

“We’ll be a regional destination … and it’s important to have a full slate of programming for those guests coming in and we’re through using facilities like Daily’s Place around the show,” Johnson said.

Apart from the Stones, the Jaguars have landed another high-profile act for 2019. Country superstar Kenny Chesney is booked April 13 at Daily’s Place. Chesney traditionally plays NFL stadiums, but next year he’s focusing on smaller venues.

“It’s not as large as the Stones announcement, but long term, it’s equally significant,” Lamping said. “There’s a countless number of venues that Kenny could have played, given he’s looking at smaller buildings. Fortunately, we were chosen, thanks to really good reports that came from artists and managers about their experience here in the past.”

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Will Arena Passes Catch On?
Posted: 5 Dec 2018, 2:00 pm

Fans of the NBA's Golden State Warriors can buy an In The Building Pass that will get them inside Oracle Arena, but they'll watch the game on a TV. (Getty Images)

Three NBA or NHL teams are busy evaluating monthly subscription products they introduced this season that give fans access to their arenas for every home game. Some passes come with a direct view of the action, but none include a seat in the arena bowl.

The Golden State Warriors of the NBA started the trend, offering a $100 monthly subscription for fans to get into Oakland’s Oracle Arena for every regular-season home game. The subscription, called the In The Building Pass, gives fans entry to the arena and provides viewing access via televisions on the club level. Golden State fans will also have the chance for seat upgrades the day of the game.

“We continue to sell standing-room only seating options, but with the interest in attending a Warriors game at an all-time high and this product being created to allow more fans an opportunity to experience the excitement inside Oracle Arena, the most spacious area for an additional 200 fans to enjoy the game from TVs was in our Club 200 locations,” said John Beaven, senior vice president of ticket sales and services for the Warriors.

The Warriors, who have won three of the last four NBA championships, are playing their last season in Oracle Arena before moving to Chase Center in San Francisco next year.

On the heels of the Golden State announcement, the Portland Trail Blazers of the NBA introduced a $60-a-month Blazers Game Plan pass to the Moda Center and the Chicago Blackhawks of the NHL came up with an $88-a-month Blackhawks Pass for the United Center. Both the Blazers and Blackhawks offer standing-room-only views inside the bowl as part of their passes.

Subscription deals began getting a foothold in Major League Baseball in recent years, often coming with a seat but in a different location depending on the game, and have been seen in other sports as well.

All three teams began offering the passes after the regular season started, so December signifies the first full month of access for the teams. Each has limited the number of passes available. In Golden State, even with 44,000 fans on the season-ticket waiting list, that number is 200. “The response thus far has been very positive and we are pleased with the results,” said Beaven, who would not reveal specifics.

The Warriors allow one person to buy up to four passes on a recurring monthly subscription. Fans can opt out of the subscription at any point and can transfer the pass via email.

The Golden State model differs slightly from what Portland offers. While the Blazers Game Plan gives fans a standing-room-only pass in the seating bowl for all regular-season home game and one fan can purchase up to four passes, fans can share only the three additional passes and can’t resell or transfer the personal ticket. Portland does not allow any opt-out of the monthly subscription once purchased.

The Blazers will also offer upgrades into a seat location, with costs varying based on the game.

“It was an opportunity to provide a new product targeted to an audience adept at using technology and at a pricing model that is becoming more commonplace,” said Todd Ricksger, Portland’s senior director of season ticket sales and services. “It’s also segmented to an audience that wants to take advantage of access to Trail Blazers games but can’t commit to every single game.”

When designing the ticket offering — Ricksger said the team is still receiving feedback early in the process from fans and using that to “create a better product” — the Blazers wanted to provide fans with an option to come to games with a low monthly fee that doesn’t undercut the value and ownership that comes with being a season-ticket holder.

Like the Warriors, the Blazers would not give the number of passes that have been sold.

The Blackhawks limit fans to two passes per account for the standing-room-only views behind the last row of seats on the upper level. Resale of the tickets is not allowed. Chicago does allow fans to cancel the recurring monthly charges. The team did not reply to a request for comment.

For the Warriors, in their 47th year at Oracle Arena before moving across the bay to San Francisco and Chase Center, the opportunity to try out a new product before moving was enticing.

“We haven’t made a decision yet on if we will incorporate this into Chase Center, but Oracle Arena is a great opportunity for us to test a variety of potential opportunities at Chase Center,” Beaven said, “with this product being one of them.”

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Posted: 5 Dec 2018, 12:00 pm

Pink Floyd legend Roger Waters' show, here playing London's Hyde Park, traveled to South America. (AEG Presents)

International stops fueled our Hot Tickets chart this week.

Roger Waters took the top spot on our chart for capacities of more than 15,000 with two shows at Estadio Único Ciudad de La Plata (Argentina). They grossed $5,170,252 with attendance of 82,406. Live Nation promoted the shows.

A slimmed-down Sam Smith took the top spot on the 10,001-15,000-capacity chart with two stops at Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne, Australia. Together the shows grossed $2,272,573, with attendance of 26,729 and a ticket range of $63.83-$118.02. The promoter was Frontier Touring.

HOT TICKETS is a weekly summary of the top events and ticket sales as reported to VN Pulse via Pollstar. Following are the top 20 concerts and events, the top 5 in each capacity category, that took place Nov. 6-Dec. 4.

More Than 15,000 Capacity

10,001-15,000 Capacity


5,000 or Less

1) Roger Waters
Gross Sales:
$5,170,252; Venue: Estadio Único Ciudad de La Plata (Argentina); Attendance: 82,406; Ticket Range: $62.73; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Nov. 6-10; No. of Shows: 2

2) Taylor Swift
Gross Sales: $3,617,593; Venue: Mt Smart Stadium, Auckland, New Zealand; Attendance: 35,749; Ticket Range: $62.09-$98.03; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Nov. 9; No. of Shows: 1

3) Sam Smith
Gross Sales: $3,453,446; Venue: Qudos Bank Arena, Sydney; Attendance: 36,969; Ticket Range: $61.52-$117.17; Promoter: Frontier Touring; Dates: Nov. 14-17; No. of Shows: 3

4) Elton John
Gross Sales: $3,310,272; Venue: State Farm Arena, Atlanta; Attendance: 24,920; Ticket Range: $59.50-$249.50; Promoter: In-house Promotion, AEG Presents; Dates: Nov. 30-Dec. 1; No. of Shows: 2

5) Roger Waters
Gross Sales: $3,285,421; Venue: Estadio Nacional, San José, Costa Rica; Attendance: 46,111; Ticket Range: $71.18; Promoter: Move Concerts; Dates: Nov. 24; No. of Shows: 1

1) Sam Smith
Gross Sales: $2,272,573; Venue: Rod Laver Arena, Melbourne, Australia; Attendance: 26,729; Ticket Range: $63.83-$118.02; Promoter: Frontier Touring; Dates: Nov. 6-7; No. of Shows: 2

2) Kevin Bridges
Gross Sales: $1,771,370; Venue: The SSE Arena, Belfast; Attendance: 41,583; Ticket Range: $31.86-$50.97; Promoter: In-house Promotion, Off The Kerb Productions; Dates: Nov. 7-11; No. of Shows: 5

3) Sam Smith
Gross Sales: $1,516,092; Venue: Brisbane Entertainment Centre, Boondall, Australia; Attendance: 16,720; Ticket Range: $61.52-$117.17; Promoter: Frontier Touring; Dates: Nov. 10-11; No. of Shows: 2

4) André Rieu
Gross Sales: $1,301,093; Venue: Rod Laver Arena, Melbourne; Attendance: 11,295; Ticket Range: $55.96-$183.47; Promoter: André Rieu Productions; Dates: Nov. 17; No. of Shows: 1

5) Def Leppard, Scorpions
Gross Sales: $1,231,650; Venue: Rod Laver Arena, Melbourne; Attendance: 12,837; Ticket Range: $72.04-$142.03; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Nov. 8; No. of Shows: 1

1) Luis Miguel
Gross Sales: $795,622; Venue: Auditorio Telmex, Zapopan, Mexico; Attendance: 8,043; Ticket Range: $24.75-$197.98; Promoter: OCESA / CIE; Dates: Nov. 22; No. of Shows: 1

2) Imagine Dragons
Gross Sales: $545,812; Venue: Auditorio Citibanamex, Monterrey, Mexico; Attendance: 7,534; Ticket Range: $29.70-$118.79; Promoter: OCESA / CIE; Dates: Nov. 17; No. of Shows: 1

3) Florida Georgia Line
Gross Sales: $542,518; Venue: Zappos Theater at Planet Hollywood, Las Vegas; Attendance: 5,556; Ticket Range: $53-$188; Promoter: In-house Promotion; Dates: Dec. 1; No. of Shows: 1

4) Maze featuring Frankie Beverly
Gross Sales: $534,096; Venue: Smart Financial Centre, Sugar Land, Texas; Attendance: 6,117; Ticket Range: $49.50-$145.50; Promoter: In-house Promotion; Dates: Nov. 17; No. of Shows: 1

5) David Byrne
Gross Sales: $468,877; Venue: ICC Sydney Theatre, Sydney; Attendance: 5,537; Ticket Range: $71.26-$111.43; Promoter: In-house Promotion, Frontier Touring; Dates: Nov. 20; No. of Shows: 1

1) “Springsteen On Broadway,” Bruce Springsteen
Gross Sales: $2,423,700; Venue: Walter Kerr Theatre, New York City; Attendance: 4,740; Ticket Range: $79-$850; Promoter: Thrill Hill Productions; Dates: Nov. 13-17; No. of Shows: 5

2) “Springsteen On Broadway,” Bruce Springsteen
Gross Sales: $1,929,320; Venue: Walter Kerr Theatre, New York; Attendance: 3,792; Ticket Range: $79-$850; Promoter: Thrill Hill Productions; Dates: Nov. 28-Dec. 1; No. of Shows: 4

3) “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”
Gross Sales: $1,081,451; Venue: Academy of Music, Philadelphia; Attendance: 13,170; Ticket Range: $20-$129; Promoter: Broadway Philadelphia; Dates: Nov. 6-11; No. of Shows: 8

4) “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”
Gross Sales: $1,069,960; Venue: Academy of Music, Philadelphia; Attendance: 13,201; Ticket Range: $20-$129; Promoter: Broadway Philadelphia; Dates: Nov. 13-18; No. of Shows: 8

5) Nine Inch Nails
Gross Sales: $898,329; Venue: Saenger Theatre, New Orleans; Attendance: 7,350; Ticket Range: $99.50-$175; Promoter: Beaver Productions; Dates: Nov. 23-25; No. of Shows: 3

The weekly Hot Tickets chart is compiled by Pollstar. For more information, email or click here to submit your Box Office data now.


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The Met Philly Opens With Fanfare, Dylan
Posted: 5 Dec 2018, 11:00 am

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Convention Center Hoops It Up
Posted: 5 Dec 2018, 11:00 am

Portable seating and a borrowed court helped turn the Vancouver Convention Centre into a big-time college basketball venue for a week. (Courtesy Vancouver Convention Centre)

Instead of choosing a conventional arena such as Rogers Arena or the Langley Events Centre as the site for its Vancouver-area basketball event, organizer BD Global picked the Vancouver Convention Centre to host the inaugural TCL Vancouver Showcase, played Nov. 18-24. The weeklong event turned into a slam dunk for the venue, which reported higher-than-usual attendance and concession sales for the event.

Turned into an intimate 3,200-seat basketball arena for the week, the venue played host to a round robin competition featuring men's teams Notre Dame, Minnesota, Oregon State and Santa Clara, and an eight-team women's tournament won by Notre Dame, the top-ranked team in the country at the time.

Typically used for trade shows and corporate galas, the East Exhibition Hall B multipurpose space was turned into a pop-up basketball court. The convention center hadn’t been used for a sporting event of this magnitude since 1990, when it hosted Davis Cup play.

"It has been years in the making and it was both exciting and rewarding to have hosted this event successfully," said Craig Lehto, Vancouver Convention Centre general manager. "The TCL Vancouver Showcase was a result of a number of local contributing partners, including government and hospitality, coming together to bring the event to Vancouver."

The makeshift arena, constructed with portable bleachers and a borrowed floor, took seven days to install and three days to move out, Lehto said.

"This was the first time we’ve done this type of installation," he said. "The event design, technical requirements and overall guest experience were unlike most events that we host at our facility. While we have some experience hosting sporting events at the Vancouver Convention Centre, there was still a learning curve for our team."

Lehto said that preparation was the key, along with some guidance from the convention center's sister venue, BC Place stadium.

The venue relied on BC Place's expertise in a number of areas, including guest flow, procedures and deployment, he said. 

"We also utilized some of the BC Place’s physical assets, including F&B equipment and bag size check boxes. We also conducted numerous site visits to learn from BC Place as well as the other local venue partners, including Rogers Arena and the University of British Columbia."

Centerplate is the convention center's concessionaire. Jennifer Rafuse has been with the convention center for 10 years and was recently promoted to general manager for the F&B provider.

"This was an exciting event and very different from what we normally do," Rafuse said. "We had to shift our focus to a retail event, which is nothing like the banquets and trade shows we usually service."

Rafuse said having the BC Place team onboard to help made the switch a whole lot easier.

"Centerplate is also the hospitality provider at the stadium, and we were able to draw from their expertise," she said.

Seven pop-up concession stands were built for the event and borrowed point-of-sale systems were installed.

"We brought in stadium-style food and a lot of grab-and-go items," Rafuse said. "And local craft beers."

"Sales were strong," Rafuse said. "The per caps were higher than usual (for the room). We were very happy with the results."

Lehto said that being quick to address any issues that stemmed from hosting the event was another big part of its success.

"We learned and modified as the event went on and drew on our strength in teamwork," he said. "We had a big team working on every facet of the event, and each was leaned on quite heavily for specific aspects. We spent a lot of time gathering feedback and recalibrating as the tournament went on."

The basketball court was borrowed from the University of British Columbia. The bleachers were custom-built for the exhibition hall and paid for by tournament co-sponsor Sport Hosting Vancouver. They will be reused for other city events.

"We had to communicate directly with the manufacturer regarding dimensions and safety," Lehto said. "We also had to schedule a basketball court installation test to ensure a smooth execution for the actual event."

Other challenges the team faced included having to create new building fixtures to accommodate LED screens and audio towers; attaching TV broadcast light fixtures along the sides of room; facilitating network and broadcast capabilities for ESPN, TSN, Big Ten Network, and various radio streams; and bringing in equipment to stream games online.

Tickets ranged from $32 to $213; all-session passes ranged from $110 to $616.

Lehto said the event was not just a one-time event but did not go into the specifics of the contract.

"We expect to make improvements next year," he added.

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Gadbury Takes New VP of Marketing Role
Posted: 5 Dec 2018, 11:00 am

Cori_Gadbury.jpgCori Gadbury.

Banc of California Stadium Entertainment hired Cori Gadbury as its first vice president of marketing. Gadbury was senior director of marketing at Live Nation for 15 years.

Gadbury comes to BOCS Entertainment with more than two decades of industry experience building multiplatform marketing strategies and campaigns for more than 1,200 concerts and events across Southern California.

She'll oversee marketing and advertising for all concert and non-Major League Soccer events at the stadium, which is the home of MLS's LAFC. She will report directly to Adam Friedman, president of BOCS Entertainment and executive vice president of parent company LAFC Sports LLC.

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NHL Approves Club For Seattle
Posted: 4 Dec 2018, 12:00 pm

The rebuilt KeyArena, where the team will begin play in 2021, will be a world-class facility, NHL Seattle President and CEO Tod Leiweke said. (Courtesy NHL Seattle)

The NHL has officially approved an expansion team for Seattle, which is set to begin play for the 2021-22 season. The move is tied to an $800 million redevelopment of KeyArena.

The announcement came today during a news conference after the vote Tuesday morning at the NHL Board of Governors meeting in Sea Island, Ga.

Oak View Group, parent company of VenuesNow and Pollstar magazines, is the arena developer and is responsible for financing the project. In addition to hockey, the WNBA’s Seattle Storm will play home games at the reconstructed venue.

The groundbreaking ceremony took place Wednesday, and the arena is expected to reopen in the first quarter of 2021, said Tod Leiweke, president and CEO of NHL Seattle, the group representing team owners David Bonderman and Jerry Bruckheimer.

The $800 million project cost is an increase of $100 million over previous projections. The rise reflects the commitment made by Bonderman and Bruckheimer to build a world-class facility, Leiweke said.

The arena’s signature features will include bridge seating hovering over the seating bowl, similar to Madison Square Garden’s Chase Bridge seats. The Seattle project is the second-highest in cost for a big league arena behind MSG's $1 billion transformation.

“We’ve kept things in (the project) that might have been targets of value engineering,” Leiweke said. “We have a bridge concept with hundreds of seats from this spectacular bridge overlooking the bowl. More than once we said, ‘Hey, is that something we can live without?’ If you talk about world class, you don’t cut things like that out.”

Two videoboards hanging above the goals in each end zone also added to the cost.

“I love the big center-hung boards, and we put one in Tampa (at Amalie Arena), but we’re going to try some pioneering here,” said Leiweke, who previously ran the Tampa Bay Lightning as well as the Minnesota Wild.

Initially, NHL Seattle’s plan was to complete the renovation and start play for the 2020 season. Pushing it back one year gives the team some “breathing room” to add those upgraded amenities, Leiweke said.

“Sixty to 90 days of additional time on a project can really allow you to push one final step,” Leiweke said.

The arena originally opened in 1962 for the World’s Fair and underwent a $75 million renovation in 1995 when it was home to the old Seattle SuperSonics before they relocated to Oklahoma City in 2008.

“We have high hopes and expectations for this building,” Leiweke said. “It’s the only arena in the world located in a park. Seattle Center [complex] is unique. It’s subterranean, and we’re going to go deeper with all the loading docks below ground. There will be four distinct entrances, and at the south end, there will be an atrium. The arena maintains its historic nature. We keep the roof, but everything else is new.”

Populous is the architect on the project, and a Skanska-Hunt joint venture is the builder. CAA Icon is the owner's representative.

Elevate Sports Ventures is selling premium seating for the arena, and OVG Global Partnerships is brokering naming rights and sponsorships. OVG will run the arena. Steve Mattson, formerly with Target Center, was hired as director of operations in December 2017.

Overall, the arena will expand from 450,000 square feet to 750,000 square feet. The work extends to upgrades for accommodating a potential NBA team in the future, Leiweke said. At this point, there is no deal to bring the NBA back to Seattle, which lost the Supersonics to Oklahoma City in 2008.

“One miracle at a time,” he said. “We’re very proud of the WNBA and the Storm. They represent best in class. We have to wait on the NBA. Lots of dreams came true this day [including] the 33,000 [hockey season ticket] despositors. They're at the core of this whole thing and we're not going to let them down."

Tod’s brother, Tim Leiweke, co-founder of Oak View Group, initially spearheaded the effort to secure an NHL team.

“It really solves a 16-year arena problem for one of the greatest cities in the world,” Tod Leiweke said. “My brother deserves enormous credit. I don’t think any of us would be here today without his guile, passion and conviction that this is one of the great markets in the U.S. Tomorrow we break ground on a beautiful arena that will be state of the art and solves a quandary for this city that’s been going on way too long.”

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Posted: 30 Nov 2018, 5:55 pm

A look at some of the stadiums, arenas, concert venues and convention centers that were either new or had a new look in 2018.



2018 IN REVIEW: Charts
2018 IN REVIEW: Gambling
2018 IN REVIEW: Ticketing
2018 IN REVIEW: Security
2018 IN REVIEW: Marketing
2018 IN REVIEW: Clubs

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Chicken Brand Buys Two-Piece Deal
Posted: 28 Nov 2018, 7:00 pm

Bojangles' Coliseum (left) and Ovens Auditorium in Charlotte, N.C., are being joined by a connector, shown in a rendering. The project is scheduled to be completed next fall. (Courtesy CRVA)

When it came time for fried chicken and biscuits chain Bojangles’ to renew a naming-rights deal, the company decided its appetite had grown.

Bojangles’, whose name has adorned Bojangles’ Coliseum in Charlotte, N.C., since 2008 as part of a deal that was to expire this year, agreed to a new 10-year deal that covers both the coliseum and the adjacent Ovens Auditorium. Together they will be called the Bojangles’ Entertainment Complex as part of the contract, announced earlier this week.

Individually, 8,600-seat Bojangles’ Coliseum and Ovens Auditorium, which holds 2,600, will keep their current names.

“Ovens Auditorium will continue to honor the name that’s been in place for some time, but we’ll be able to link it to the coliseum under the Bojangles’ Entertainment Complex name,” said Steve Bagwell, vice president of venues for the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority, which manages the buildings. The city owns the venues.

Charlotte's City Council approved the $2.85 million sponsorship Monday. The deal more than doubles the previous 10-year agreement with Bojangles’, which carried a price of $1.25 million.

A $20 million connector building under construction will link the buildings physically as the new agreement links them in name. The connector, which will add bathrooms and concessions and intermission space, is scheduled to be finished next fall.

Both venues continue to see increased activity each year, Bagwell said, and the minor league Charlotte Checkers of the American Hockey League returned as a coliseum tenant in 2014 after spending 10 years downtown at Spectrum Center. In the last several years, the city has spent roughly $16 million in tax dollars on upgrades to the two buildings, he said.

Such improvements keep people coming back, said Mike Boykin, CEO of Bespoke Sports & Entertainment, a marketing company based in Charlotte.

Boykin has been attending concerts and games for decades at Bojangles’ Coliseum, which opened as the Charlotte Coliseum in 1955. Ovens Auditorium opened at the same time.

“The transformation is spectacular. I think everything they’ve done over there is an upgrade,” Boykin said.

It makes sense to connect the two venues physically and through naming rights, Boykin said.

Bojangles’ naming-rights deal was the second piece of big news for the company in November. Earlier in the month, the company announced that it was being acquired by two New York firms, Durational Capital Management LP and The Jordan Company LP.

The city and the CRVA were kept abreast of the acquisition of Bojangles’ before the announcement of new ownership, said Randy Poindexter, Bojangles’ senior vice president of marketing.

“The new ownership group that will come in sometime in Q1 were absolutely aware of our negotiations” and supported the naming-rights deal, he said.

Poindexter’s team at Bojangles’ handled the naming-rights talks. CRVA brought in Rockville, Md.-based Team Services to consult on the deal.

The deal also allows the two venues to share a website, making it easier for fans to navigate schedules and tickets. Promoters also will find the venues more attractive now that they’re branded as one complex and will offer more amenities through the connector building, Bagwell said.

“We’ll just have better relationships with promoters so we have more concerts coming through, which is good for the financial health of the complex,” he said. “It’s a major win for the CRVA and a major win for the complex to continue to have a great relationship with Bojangles’.”

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A's Redevelopment Double Play
Posted: 28 Nov 2018, 5:00 pm

Renderings show the proposed Howard Terminal ballpark and a reuse plan for the current Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum. (Courtesy Oakland A's X5)

Major League Baseball’s Oakland A’s did more than reveal renderings of a planned 34,000-seat ballpark at the downtown Howard Terminal waterfront site on Wednesday. The team also showed off plans to redevelop the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum site, helpful in ensuring a connection with the community of East Oakland.

It’s also an opportunity to support the private financing of the Howard Terminal site.

“The coliseum development certainly makes the odds of the Howard project working higher,” said A’s President Dave Kaval. “It is not a do-or-die type of situation, but something that could help enhance the community benefit and viability. At the same time, we heard from East Oakland that they didn’t want the site abandoned, so it is achieving multiple goals.”

The A’s, working with Bjarke Ingels Group on both master planning and ballpark design, created plans for the two proposed projects simultaneously. The firm, which has headquarters in Denmark and New York City, “did an exceptional job thinking that through,” Kaval said. “We had their assistance about what should go where and making sure we could create a suite of community benefits and amenities for Oakland to enhance the project viability and success.”

While neither is a done deal, the likelihood of both has never looked so good for a team now playing in the 50-year-old coliseum. The A’s are in exclusive negotiations with the Port of Oakland to buy or lease the Howard Terminal site and have made a $137 million offer to buy the coliseum location.

The Howard Terminal ballpark would be created in a late-1800s style but contain a fresh perspective on modern ballparks. The 55-acre site also allows for development.

Both sites will include housing and commercial real estate, but the exact uses would vary based on the neighborhoods. For example, 20-story high-rises next to the new ballpark could afford views into the stadium for condo owners or commercial real estate, while a grocery store might make perfect sense at the 111-acre coliseum site.

Having the coliseum as a second development options gives the team “a bigger expanse and a bigger tapestry for more options,” Kaval said.

Joshua Boren, director of business development for RCLCO, a real estate consulting firm, said targeting a large urban infill site for redevelopment could be a shrewd strategy. “Many times, and the coliseum is certainly an example of it, former stadiums sit on large sites in already infrastructure-rich and conveniently accessible locations which ideally position these locations for redevelopment opportunities,” he said. “In the case of Oakland, a site of that scale hasn’t existed in decades and would be hugely attractive to anyone in the development community.

“As the cost of these venues continue to escalate, finding creative answers to offset costs via real estate development, especially redevelopment, could provide a sustainable solution both in terms of long-term economic viability and land and infrastructure reuse.”

The A’s will also offer a unique perspective at the coliseum site through a plan to keep the playing field and portions of the lower bowl as a public park. The sports amphitheater will sit next door to Oracle Arena, which is losing the NBA’s Golden State Warriors to San Francisco and the Chase Center next year.

Parks will play a key role in the new stadium, too. The “ballpark within a park” concept is what Kaval dubs an intimate stadium nestled carefully into its urban surroundings. The 34,000 seats sit as close to home plate as possible and a tree-lined elevated park wraps and frames the bowl, coming down to meet the waterfront.

“We are taking some of the original ethos of baseball and adjusting it into a 21st-century representation,” Kaval said. “Having a park on the roof of the stadium allows us to capture incredible views of the game, the waterfront, the Oakland skyline, the estuary and San Francisco. It will be a tremendous amenity we think people will love and create a tourist destination people will want to go to and hang out at.”

Ticketed on game days and open to the public otherwise, the concept works to tie the stadium to the new neighborhood around it. Kaval said to expect a porous environment, even on game days, with narrower concourses that could spill onto the street. “People will love it and it will feel like a street fair,” he said. “It will be a game changer.”

Akin to Wrigley Field or Fenway Park, the “jewel box” design looks to dip back into ballpark history by blurring the line between stadium and neighborhood and move away from the more recent retro-styled parks that use a façade as a fortress wall.

“Our design for the A’s new home at the heart of Oakland’s revitalized waterfront seeks to return the game to its roots as the natural meeting place for the local community,” said Ingels in a statement. “We are putting the ‘park’ back in ‘ballpark.’”

“We want an intimate experience, and 34,000 is a good way to do that,” Kaval said. “We want to make sure that the people there have a great experience and make sure the stadium nestled into the location on the waterfront in an appropriate way.”

As the A’s move forward with a planned 2021 groundbreaking for the Howard Terminal ballpark and an opening date in 2023, they are using their current home as a testing ground for ideas to incorporate into the new stadium. From the Treehouse concept in left field to the food trucks in Championship Plaza and from tabletop seating to terraces, Kaval said, the coliseum allows the A’s to showcase and try new things.

“Not all will work and some will fail, and we won’t put those in the new building,” he said. “We will use the coliseum as a prototype and learn as much as we can from our community.”

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Minneapolis Warms Up For Final Four
Posted: 28 Nov 2018, 2:00 pm

Workers lay down the basketball court for this weekend's U.S. Bank Stadium Basketball Classic. (Courtesy SMG / U.S. Bank Stadium)

U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis will play host to its first basketball event this week as it prepares for the Final Four of next year’s NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament.

The inaugural U.S. Bank Stadium Basketball Classic, scheduled Friday and Saturday, features four college games, most between schools from Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin and the Dakotas. Host school Minnesota plays Oklahoma State on Friday.

For SMG, the stadium’s management firm, the event provides a soft opening of sorts to help staff gain experience for operating the venue, home to the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings, in basketball mode.

As part of bidding for the Final Four, stadiums are required to have a basketball event in advance to test all aspects of game operations, including the horn, shot clock and scoring system, said Patrick Talty, U.S. Bank Stadium’s general manager.

In years past, some stadiums that had the Final Four were awarded an NCAA regional the year before to prepare for the national championship. Last year, however, all four men’s regionals were held at arenas. The NCAA has stepped away from holding regionals at stadiums because of the cost and to keep the energy intact at regionals, rather than put 20,000 fans inside a 70,000-seat stadium, said L.J. Wright, the NCAA’s director of men’s basketball championships.

The NCAA does conduct a mock setup at Final Four stadiums, which it did at U.S. Bank Stadium in May 2017, Wright said.

SMG, in conjunction with the Vikings, worked closely with event promoter Russ Potts to organize the basketball classic and secure the schools, Talty said.

On Friday, the University of Wisconsin-River Falls plays the University of St. Thomas, followed by Oklahoma State-Minnesota. Saturday’s schedule is North Dakota State-Drake and South Dakota State-Northern Iowa.

For the basketball classic, the stadium is set up in a half-house configuration with the court placed in the east end. Capacity is 25,000 for the event. Talty expects crowds of 15,000 to 18,000 for Friday and 10,000 to 12,000 on Saturday.

“Our focus all along was to have a regional draw,” Talty said. “It’s not a made-for-TV match, but South Dakota State is a giant-killer” with three consecutive NCAA tournament appearances. “We felt like we have some strong local teams.” The Oklahoma State-Minnesota game will be shown on the Big Ten Network.

For the Final Four, scheduled April 6 and 8, the court will be placed at midfield surrounded by a few thousand floor seats. U.S. Bank Stadium will accommodate 70,000 for that event, which would top the 67,612 who attended the Super Bowl in February.

At this week’s event, officials are marketing a small portion of premium seats. Forty courtside seats sell for $195 a seat each day. In addition, some field-level suites are available, priced at $100 a person each day. The Vikings sell suites for all stadium events. In this case, suite holders are required to buy only 50 percent of the seats to reserve their suite, leaving additional inventory to be sold, SMG spokesperson Lisa Niess said.

“We expect some of them will be in use,” Niess said. “They’re available to be reserved up until the day of the event.”

Reserved seats start at $15 a day for midlevel seats and increase to $70 closer to the floor.

The court itself was borrowed from the Denny Sanford Premier Center in Sioux Falls, S.D., an SMG-managed arena. It has been branded for the basketball classic. A local high school practiced on the floor Wednesday to test the surface for potential dead spots, Talty said.

Before the games, officials are throwing a tailgate party in the Delta Sky360 Club at field level that’s open to all patrons. Tickets cost $35, and SMG will open the gates three hours before the first tipoff.

Saturday’s Football Championship Subdivision playoff games will be shown on televisions inside the club at that function. Northern Iowa, South Dakota State and North Dakota State are all playing football that day after advancing to the second round of the playoffs.

Aramark, the stadium’s concessionaire, teamed with local vendors that have stands in the building to serve specialty items at the tailgate party, such as Kramarczuk’s cheddar bratwurst, Ike’s carved sirloin sandwich and the Full Court Press cocktail, made with whiskey, club soda and ginger ale.

Beer and wine will be sold in public spaces at the basketball classic, which is another step toward preparing for the Final Four, according to Talty.

“The NCAA told us they are selling alcohol at their championships,” he said. “We haven’t signed a contract with the NCAA on that piece, but we’re way down the road on operational details and have been in discussions on it. We’re headed that way.”

To generate excitement for the NCAA men’s championship, the Final Four Fan Jam will set up Friday inside the main entrance on the stadium’s west side, featuring games and sponsor activations to give fans a taste of what’s to come.

On his own, Talty knows ahead of time what to expect for the Final Four. Over the course of his 25-year career, Talty has worked two Final Fours at the old RCA Dome in Indianapolis and multiple rounds of the NCAA Tournament, including the 2009 regional at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz., which is now State Farm Stadium.

Getting to know crowd flow for basketball and placing the court in the right location with optimal viewing angles was a key lesson for Talty at past NCAA basketball events in a stadium setting.

“Having a history with the NCAA folks is a big win during the planning process,” Talty said. “The Final Four has grown and changed since I did my first one, but the core of the student-athletes and the games being the heart of the event has not.”

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Congratulations 2019 Ticketing Star Winners!
Posted: 28 Nov 2018, 12:00 pm

Ticketing is an art. It needs organization; a delicate touch to pull off without major hitches; a whole lot of sweat; and superstar to manage it all. This year brought four such superstars to the attention of our readers who have selected them as 2019 VenuesNow Ticketing Star winners.

The winners of our 2019 Ticketing Star Awards of the year are a diverse group. Three are from The U.S. and one is from Canada. Spectra is represented, as is Massachusetts, Burning Man and the Bucks.

Together, these four rough and ready box office champs are a prime example of how the well-oiled ticketing side of the venue industry only works with real innovators steering the wheel.

We will be honoring this year's outstanding ticketing professionals during the INTIX convention in Texas, January 29-31, 2019. 

The 2019 VenuesNow Ticketing Stars winners are:

Christina_Allen_200x200.jpgChristina Allen
Box Office Manager, Ottawa Senators Hockey Club & Canadian Tire Centre

Christina oversaw the transition to Ticketmaster in summer 2016 and spearheaded the host conversion, working tirelessly through the summer and fall to ensure we were positioned well to support the new platform.  The Canadian Tire Centre Box Office, through her submission and under her leadership, was recognized as the INTIX Box Office of the Year in 2016, and she was nominated for the INTIX Ticketing Professional of the Year award in 2018.
She goes out of her way to advance her professional development, having applied for and been the recipient of the Intix grant so she could attend Intix in FY17 when budgets were tight and we didn’t have the funds to send her.  She also places a high importance on the development of her team, encouraging her assistant manager to do the same, leading to her selection as the successful candidate for the grant this fiscal year.
She has for the last five years been on committees at INTIX and now co-chairs the Professional Development and Grant Committee and the Education Committee. She has been selected to present her submission “Ticketing ‘EH!”  at this year’s conference.
She and two others, noting a lack of networking opportunities in the Ottawa area for ticketing professionals, launched and is a driving force behind Ottawa-Gatineau Regional Ticketing Group, which meets quarterly to share stories, opportunities and best practices.
Identifying a gap within our organization, she has implemented and chairs two cross-functional team meetings, the first a monthly roundup to review past event successes and challenges and to discuss coming events, and the second to rally managers across all departments to create awareness of interdepartmental challenges, increase the level of communication and discuss how they can help one another achieve their objectives.

Jonathan_Lack_200x200.jpgJonathan Lack
Senior Director of Ticketing
Milwaukee Bucks

Fiserv Forum, which opened Aug. 26, is on the forefront of innovations in the ticketing industry due in part to its Fortress technology and digitized ticket office. Overseen by Jonathan, Fiserv Forum is the only NBA arena to be fully integrated with Fortress and Ticketmaster Presence for Access Control, Loyalty and Loaded Value. With this relationship, Fiserv Forum is fully prepared to handle the current changes in digital ticketing, but also be ready for future changes that are coming with mobile ticketing.
With 41 Falcon Pods, fans can scan their own tickets themselves, making for quick and efficient entry into the building. In many instances, Fiserv Forum has been able to scan in over a thousand guests in a five-minute period.
He oversaw the development of Fiserv Forum’s cutting-edge ticket office. Fiserv Forum is the only venue in the United States to use dual screens in its ticket office as a means of serving its customers. The second screen faces the customer and displays customized seating information, stage layout and 360-degree “views from the seat” using IOMedia technology. All the information shown to a customer is digital and can be updated in real time from the back office, giving the most current information on all shows to the ticket office staff at the front counter. Using Archtics as point-of-sale has also opened up a wealth of digital ticketing options for Fiserv Forum’s customers.
He has 12 years of experience in the ticket industry and leads a team of eight full-time and 24 part-time employees at Fiserv Forum. Before joining the Milwaukee Bucks in 2017, he worked at The O2 Arena in London and The Ohio State University’s Schottenstein Center.

Alex_Renfrew_200x200.jpgAlex Renfrew
Director of Ticketing, Marketing and Sales for Spectra, Tsongas Center, Lowell, Mass., and Northeast and Southeast Box Office Regional for Spectra

Alex has been with Spectra for over 10 years. After taking on a leadership role, he discovered that reporting procedures within his region were not standardized and could benefit from strategic improvements. He built customized dashboards to aggregate and measure venue-specific data analytics for Tsongas Center and created a hub of real-time data to improve efficiencies.
One of his most impactful dashboards was used to help the Tsongas Center tenant, the UMass Lowell River Hawks men’s ice hockey team, track upcoming ticket renewals. He tracked the progress of the renewals alongside benchmark numbers for the venue, providing the team with critical facts and figures for year over year growth.
He has designed efficiencies to guide strategic business decisions and streamline the reporting processes not only for the Tsongas Center but also for the entire Spectra Northeast and Southeast box office regions. “Alex is a thought leader who helps propel Spectra forward with his innovative ideas. His team admires his knack for thinking outside of the box, but also trusts him as their dedicated leader. He’s the first to give a helping hand to new Spectra accounts,” says Jacque Holowaty, Spectra’s Vice President of Client Experience and Ticketing. “Alex continually helps grow our Box Office and Sales Department to be the best it can be.”

Rebecca_Throne_200x200.jpgRebecca Throne
Ticketing Department Manager and Box Office Operations Manager
Burning Man, San Francisco

Rebecca has managed Burning Man ticketing since 2007, through two vendor changes, the first time the event sold out in 2011 and every sellout since, as well as Burning Man’s infamous ticket lottery of 2012, all this while ensuring that the dominant income stream for Burning Man remains uninterrupted, and never losing sight of her focus on volunteerism and working to support the needs and wants of the Burning Man community at large.
She always says that selling tickets is the easy part, building community through ticket sales is the hard bit. Year after year she innovates new programs and sale structures to support this goal. This includes Burning Man's Secure Ticket Exchange Program, the Low Income Ticket Program that supports 4,000 low-income participants in purchasing reduced-price tickets to the event, and the creation of our Directed Group Sale programs, which ensure that art project groups, theme camps, and volunteer teams have enough core members to produce their projects at the Burning Man event.
She also designed our modular 18-window box office, composed of three 20-foot shipping containers, which enables our crew of volunteers to man the 24-hour box office at Burning Man for 14 days straight. Rebecca has managed this crew for over 10 years in some of the harshest box office conditions on earth — through blinding dust storms, off-grid network outages and satellite uplink failures, rain closures, hail, 100-plus degree days and bone-chilling nights. Her focus on both acknowledging the crew’s achievements and supporting their work has enabled Burning Man to have a 90 percent year-over-year retention of box office.

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HOT TICKETS: NOV. 29, 2018
Posted: 28 Nov 2018, 9:50 am

André Rieu, shown performing during a German TV show, filled seats in Sydney this month. (Sebastian Widmann)

Proving that music of all kinds has a place in the modern live-event world, classical violinist André Rieu took the top spot on our 5,001-10,000-capacity Hot Tickets chart this week, grossing $1,868,450 playing at ICC Sydney Theatre Nov. 21-22. Attendance was 15,886 with a ticket range of $55.96-$183.48. Rieu promotes his own shows.

Proving that Taylor Swift is an unstoppable touring megastar, her latest concerts blew out the competition and landed at spots one, two and five on our chart for capacities of more than 15,000. Two shows at Tokyo Dome grossed $14,859,847, with attendance of 100,109 and a ticket range of $123.77-$176.82. Live Nation promoted all of Swift's shows.

HOT TICKETS is a weekly summary of the top events and ticket sales as reported to VN Pulse via Pollstar. Following are the top 20 concerts and events, the top 5 in each capacity category, that took place Oct. 30 – Nov. 27.

More Than 15,000 Capacity

10,001-15,000 Capacity


5,000 or Less

1) Taylor Swift
Gross Sales:
$14,859,847; Venue: Tokyo Dome, Tokyo; Attendance: 100,109; Ticket Range: $123.77-$176.82; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Nov. 20-21; No. of Shows: 2

2) Taylor Swift
Gross Sales: $7,686,563; Venue: ANZ Stadium, Sydney; Attendance: 72,805; Ticket Range: $67.30-$106.26; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Nov. 2; No. of Shows: 1

3) Drake
Gross Sales: $5,754,943; Venue: State Farm Arena, Atlanta; Attendance: 44,010; Ticket Range: $59.50-$199.50; Promoter: In-house Promotion, Live Nation; Dates: Nov. 16-18; No. of Shows: 3

4) Roger Waters
Gross Sales: $5,020,763; Venue: Estadio Nacional, Santiago; Attendance: 52,624; Ticket Range: $56.02-$402.18; Promoter: DG Medios y Espectaculos; Dates: Nov. 14; No. of Shows: 1

5) Taylor Swift
Gross Sales: $4,338,125; Venue: Optus Stadium, Burswood, Australia; Attendance: 43,907; Ticket Range: $67.30-$106.26; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Nov. 6; No. of Shows: 1

1) U2
Gross Sales: $6,400,639; Venue: 3Arena, Dublin; Attendance: 46,529; Ticket Range: $39.66-$220.95; Promoter: Live Nation Global Touring; Dates: Nov. 5-10; No. of Shows: 4

2) Phish
Gross Sales: $4,506,155; Venue: MGM Grand Garden Arena, Las Vegas; Attendance: 58,795; Ticket Range: $45-$85; Promoter: In-house Promotion; Dates: Oct. 31-Nov. 3; No. of Shows: 4

3) Def Leppard
Gross Sales: $820,415; Venue: RAC Arena, Perth, Australia; Attendance: 9,223; Ticket Range: $74.06-$146.21; Promoter: In-house Promotion; Dates: Nov. 2; No. of Shows: 1

4) “Una Notte Italiana”
Gross Sales: $802,273; Venue: Hallenstadion, Zürich; Attendance: 8,230; Ticket Range: $78.50-$357.70; Promoter: Stargarage AG; Dates: Nov. 3; No. of Shows: 1

5) Marco Antonio Solís
Gross Sales: $716,896; Venue: Valley View Casino Center, San Diego; Attendance: 7,712; Ticket Range: $44-$394; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Nov. 3; No. of Shows: 1

1) André Rieu
Gross Sales: $1,868,450; Venue: ICC Sydney Theatre, Sydney; Attendance: 15,886; Ticket Range: $55.96-$183.48; Promoter: In-house Promotion, André Rieu Productions; Dates: Nov. 21-22; No. of Shows: 2

2) Backstreet Boys
Gross Sales: $1,484,562; Venue: Zappos Theater at Planet Hollywood, Las Vegas; Attendance: 10,978; Ticket Range: $34-$294; Promoter: Caesars Entertainment, Live Nation; Dates: Nov. 7-10; No. of Shows: 3

3) Backstreet Boys
Gross Sales: $1,341,778; Venue: Zappos Theater at Planet Hollywood, Las Vegas; Attendance: 10,079; Ticket Range: $34-$294; Promoter: Caesars Entertainment, Live Nation; Dates: Nov. 14-17; No. of Shows: 3

4) Oprah Winfrey
Gross Sales: $820,450; Venue: Tsongas Center, Lowell, Mass.; Attendance: 4,978; Ticket Range: $129-$254; Promoter: In-house Promotion; Dates: Nov. 15; No. of Shows: 1

5) Trans-Siberian Orchestra
Gross Sales: $808,117; Venue: Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza, Wilkes-Barre, Pa.; Attendance: 13,123; Ticket Range: $35.50-$76; Promoter: In-house Promotion, Larry Magid Entertainment; Dates: Nov. 18; No. of Shows: 2

1) “Hamilton”
Gross Sales: $3,195,601; Venue: Durham (N.C.) Performing Arts Center; Attendance: 21,474; Ticket Range: $65-$195; Promoter: Professional Facilities Mgmt., Nederlander Concerts; Dates: Nov. 13-18; No. of Shows: 8

2) “Hamilton”
Gross Sales: $2,537,910; Venue: Durham (N.C.) Performing Arts Center; Attendance: 21,312; Ticket Range: $65-$195; Promoter: Professional Facilities Mgmt., Nederlander Concerts; Dates: Nov. 6-11; No. of Shows: 8

3) “Springsteen On Broadway”, Bruce Springsteen
Gross Sales: $1,935,170; Venue: Walter Kerr Theatre, New York; Attendance: 3,792; Ticket Range: $79-$850; Promoter: Thrill Hill Productions; Dates: Nov. 7-10; No. of Shows: 4

4) “Fiddler on the Roof”
Gross Sales: $1,101,440; Venue: Mortensen Hall, Hartford, Conn.; Attendance: 14,392; Ticket Range: $19.50-$109.50; Promoter: In-house Promotion; Dates: Nov. 6-11; No. of Shows: 8

5) “Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas”
Gross Sales: $1,086,066; Venue: Chicago Theatre, Chicago; Attendance: 19,253; Ticket Range: $35-$125; Promoter: In-house Promotion; Dates: Nov. 16-18; No. of Shows: 7

The weekly Hot Tickets chart is compiled by Pollstar. For more information, e-mail or click here to submit your Box Office data now.


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AudienceView Adds Franco
Posted: 27 Nov 2018, 5:00 pm

Lawrence-Franco.jpgLawrence Franco.

Events and entertainment e-commerce software provider AudienceView has appointed Lawrence Franco to be its chief operating officer. Franco was president for North America for IT and professional training company Global Knowledge. He has been an executive with software and insights organizations including Teranet and Dun & Bradstreet.

Franco's duties at AudienceView will include responsibility for the company's media division, which includes TheaterMania and WhatsOnStage.

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Brewing Up Its Attendance
Posted: 27 Nov 2018, 12:15 pm

Drake University has begun selling beer for basketball games at Knapp Center. (Courtesy Drake University)

In an effort to boost attendance for men’s and women’s basketball at Drake University, officials have allowed the sale of beer this season at the school’s arena, Knapp Center.

The move grabbed headlines earlier this month in Iowa and its capital, Des Moines, which is home to the private school. Drake has a total enrollment of about 5,000. The state’s two largest public universities, the University of Iowa in Iowa City and Iowa State University in Ames, do not serve beer in public spaces at their on-campus arenas.

Drake followed the lead of the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls, which last season expanded the Panther Patio bar to make beer available for all ticket holders at McLeod Center, its basketball arena. The patio, which sits at the top of the arena overlooking the floor, was previously restricted to UNI athletic donors.

Both schools are members of the Missouri Valley Conference, and Drake Athletic Director Brian Hardin was familiar with Panther Patio from Drake’s visits for conference games. It served as a model for the Knapp Center operation, he said, where beer is sold from two portable concession stands.

Drake and UNI are the latest schools to join the trend. Across the country, more than 50 NCAA Division I institutions now serve alcohol in public areas at their sports venues on campus, a number that has grown steadily over the past seven years.

Drake officials hope it helps improve attendance for Drake basketball games, which has been an issue for several years. Last season, the men’s team averaged 3,195 in home attendance, filling less than half of Knapp Center’s 7,152 seats.

The women, meanwhile, have gone undefeated in conference play over the past two seasons and averaged 2,911 in home attendance for 2017-18. Overall, they ranked 42nd among Division I teams, according to NCAA statistics.

Hardin, a Des Moines native and a Drake Relays champion as a high school track athlete, took over as athletic director in December 2017. As most new athletic directors do, he went on a “listening tour” to find how he could improve the overall operation.

Public beer sales and lower concession prices were topics Drake supporters mentioned during talks with Hardin for how to upgrade the fan experience.

Hardin sat down with university President Marty Martin, the board of trustees, the general counsel, the dean of students and facilities officials before making the decision to serve beer.

Sodexo, Drake’s food provider, sells Anheuser-Busch products for $6 a cup, plus beer from Confluence and Exile, two local craft brewers, priced at $7 a cup. In addition, the vendor priced 15 items under $5. A family can buy four hot dogs, four sodas and four bags of popcorn for $24.

“We don’t want price to be a barrier for entry to our fans,” Hardin said. “Affordability of Drake sports events should be a point of distinction in our marketplace. We have a lot of competition, not just from Iowa and Iowa State, but Wells Fargo Arena and the Des Moines Civic Center.”

Early on, it appears public beer sales has helped move the needle for concessions. For the first men’s home game Nov. 8, Sodexo’s total food and drink sales were three times more than last year’s home opener, Hardin said.

The Drake-Buena Vista game drew a crowd of 3,561, about 1,000 more fans than the Drake-Coe opener in 2017. Both opponents are NCAA Division III schools, providing Drake with a fair comparison for food and drink sales, he said.

“The best part is we had no issues related to alcohol on a Thursday night,” Hardin said. “We increased our police presence and redistributed our security people around the arena.”

For Drake officials, serving beer is more about providing amenities than gaining incremental revenue. Under Iowa law, the commissions Sodexo pays Drake for beer sales are capped at 9.9 percent.

“It’s basically ‘getting people through the door’ motivated,” said Ty Patton, Drake’s assistant athletic director for athletic communications. “Even if we have a sellout and everyone buys a beer, it only creates about $4,000 in revenue.”

Sodexo worked with the city to adjust the arena’s liquor license for public consumption. Previously, alcohol was served exclusively in the Shivers Courtside Club, which can fit about 300 people but does not have views to the game.

As part of the decision, a few alcohol-free sections remain at Knapp Center, including the student section closest to the floor. The legal age for buying a beer is 21, so most students cannot partake in the new offering.

Drake is organizing ride programs with ride-hailing companies Uber and Lyft for beer-drinking fans to get home safely and has created a speaker series on campus tied to programming for responsible drinking, Hardin said.

“It was months in the making,” Hardin said. “It wasn’t a decision that I was going to make in a vacuum, nor did I have the authority to do that. But I wanted to make sure that we had partners on campus that were willing to go down this path, and fortunately, we were able to get this done.”

At this point, it’s unclear whether Drake will eventually expand public beer sales to Drake Stadium, home to the school’s football team and the Drake Relays, held every April for the past 108 years.

“We wouldn’t look to add it for the Relays,” Hardin said. “It’s a different animal in itself. It includes thousands of Iowa high school athletes and we would have to have serious conversations with the [two state high school associations]. Football, potentially, but right now our focus is solely on Knapp Center and basketball games.”

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Posted: 25 Nov 2018, 9:30 pm

Phil Collins decided retirement wasn’t for him. (Getty Images)

Phil Collins scores on Hot Tickets with ticket sales from his Not Dead Yet tour, which played 15 cities in the U.S. and Canada this fall. It’s the final leg this year on the English singer’s comeback effort named after his 2016 autobiography. With shows in Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Chicago and Columbus, Ohio, ranked among the highest-grossing concerts on this month’s charts, the Las Vegas event at MGM Grand Garden Arena was his top grosser. The concert on Oct. 27 took in $2.7 million at the box office from 12,663 sold tickets priced from $54 to $204. On the following evening, he made his final appearance of the year at the Forum in Inglewood, Calif., logging 13,866 sold seats and a $2.5 million take.

Collins, who had announced his retirement in 2011, had a change of heart and made a handful of appearances in 2016. With encouragement from his family, he planned a return to the stage for a full-scale tour the following year. He launched the new tour in Europe beginning with a June 2017 performance at Liverpool’s Echo Arena. Multiple-show runs in London, Paris and Cologne, Germany, led to a string of summer dates that wrapped with a headlining stint at the British Summer Time Festival at London’s Hyde Park on June 30. A series of U.K. arena dates in November and December completed the 2017 schedule.

This year the tour crossed the pond and began with a Latin American run through seven countries in February and March. The Latin leg kicked off with three stadium dates in Brazil, including a two-night engagement in São Paulo that drew 82,662 fans Feb. 24-25. With a gross of $9.5 million, it is the former Genesis front man’s highest gross this year and the tour’s second-highest overall. The best box office earnings came from his five-show engagement in June 2017 at AccorHotels Arena in Paris, with $10.6 million in sales from 62,071 sold seats.

Next up for the Not Dead Yet tour is a seven-city jaunt in Australia and New Zealand beginning Jan. 19 and running through Feb. 6.

Zappos Theater at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas heads up the ranked venues in the 5,001-10,000 seat category on Top Stops based on 42,474 sold tickets at 12 performances. Nine of those shows came from the most recent four-week run of the Backstreet Boys’ Larger Than Life residency, which began in March 2017 and is set to wrap in April. The boy band drew 31,650 fans to those performances. The Las Vegas theater also hosted Lionel Richie in October for the final three nights of his All the Hits residency, which spanned 2 1/2 years. His final three-show stint moved 10,824 tickets.  

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Posted: 25 Nov 2018, 9:20 pm

The tech was in use at Taylor Swift’s Rose Bowl shows. (Getty Images)

When Taylor Swift played in May at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif., she appeared before more than 60,000 screaming fans, mostly made up of groups of young girls, preteens, teenagers and their parents. And if the Rose Bowl security team was successful, none of those people were on the list of more than 1,000 stalkers, harassers and assorted kooks that law enforcement had put together, people that Swift and her management team do not want anywhere near the pop sensation.

No incidents were reported and the technology that made that happen was facial recognition, a fast-growing security tool that’s due to expand exponentially as the technology gets faster, better and cheaper.

“What they did was put digital displays inside and outside the Rose Bowl and when people were queuing up in line, they were mesmerized by all this digital content. What they didn’t know is that within the digital content there were hundreds of tiny cameras that tapped into that 1,000-plus stalker database list. It was all monitored by the security team, and if they got a hit, they knew a stalker was on the premises,” said Mike Downing, executive vice president of security for Oak View Group/Prevent Advisors. (OVG is the parent company of VenuesNow.)

“There’s some really exciting things happening in the facial recognition space,” he said. “They used it in the World Series. At the National Soccer Hall of Fame they are using it as a fan experience opt-in. Delta Air Lines is using it both on the security side and the customer service side. When you get the airlines to start using it, that will pave the way.”

“We’re building two new venues (KeyArena in Seattle and Belmont Park Arena on Long Island, N.Y.), and facial recognition is something we are always talking about,” Downing said. “In our consulting work, we recommend it in certain cases. There’s a security aspect to it, but there’s also a fan experience/VIP/customer service side to it.”

“Right now, we’re looking at it as a customer experience tool primarily. For it to work effectively as a security measure, we have to have a database for it to ping off. Having facial recognition without a database really doesn’t do anything.”

“They used it in the NBA Finals for the staff,” he said. “All the staff had to do is pose for photos. If someone took a credential and tried to come in as that staffer, the facial recognition machine would recognize that as being a false ID and alert security.”

NEC facial recognition systems are part of the security at Madison Square Garden in New York City and Staples Center in Los Angeles, he said, citing examples of venues using the technology. “They use it at Staples Center for specific events and staff entry, and at MSG they are using it to keep out people who have been barred from the venue.”

Blink Identity is the leader in the facial recognition field, Downing said.

The firm, less than a year old, was created by two ex-Department of Defense employees. Live Nation, Ticketmaster, Tech Stars and Avex Group are investors.

“This will allow venues to know who is coming into the venue,” said Mary Haskett, Blink Identity’s co-founder and CEO. The other co-founder is Alex Kilpatrick.

“Right now, the music business is afflicted by anonymity,” she said. “No one knows who is entering or leaving a venue. Our technology will solve this problem.”

Blink_Identity_Founders.jpgBlink Identity’s Mary Haskett and Alex Kilpatrick. (Courtesy Blink Identity)

“Basically, what we create is a map of a person’s face,” Haskett said. “The technology can map a person’s face from age 18 to 58. After the person is 58, we would need a new map.”
The product works “at full walking speed” — 60 people a minute.

“The challenge is speed and lighting conditions,” she said. “This is a security system that identifies people. It can also be used in any number of ways for VIP identification.”

“The facial reader is the size of a lunchbox, and we paint it bright yellow so people are aware it’s there. The first hardware model was the size of an army tank,” Haskett said, laughing. “By the second we got it down to a very tall black box on two legs that looked imposing and robotic. After many models we got to the current yellow-box version that is friendly and small enough to sit on a small table.”

“Our philosophy is ‘customer’s rights first,’ and we don’t want this technology to be used in any way that will undermine a guest’s interest in visiting a venue,” she said. “Creepy things can be done with it; we want to avoid that.”

Haskett said the product will be in use in the first quarter of 2019 at test venues.
“It’s business to business to consumer,” she said. “The venues will lease the boxes and create their own databases.”

Right now, any governmental databases are strictly limited for use by law enforcement.
“The best use of the technology will be to make it user-centric, meaning customers or staff members voluntarily join the system and allow the venues to capture their facial pattern as identity,” she said.

The boxes can be fine-tuned to either allow for more people to get in who aren’t a match, or to keep more people out who may be a false match.

“It’s up to the venue how they want to set the box,” she said. “Do they want to keep people out who should be let in, or would they rather let people in who shouldn’t get in. If it’s a case of VIPs, for example, you’d rather let in someone who isn’t a VIP. If it’s strictly for security, you’d rather exclude 1,000 people than allow even one person in who shouldn’t be there.”

“We’re very interested in biometric tickets,” said Justin Burleigh, chief product officer for Ticketmaster. “We’re beginning to tease this out, and facial recognition is a big step in that process.”

“We think the facial recognition experience will be most meaningful in the VIP and club levels and backstage,” he said. “We’re looking at it like TSA Precheck. Fans join the program and it gets them in faster and easier.”

“We’re not pursuing facial recognition to create a giant database of faces,” Burleigh said. “We don’t want to be in the terrorist watch list business. We see this as a way to create a way to make your face your entry ticket.”

Burleigh thinks we are not far away from putting the facial recognition machines into venues. “We’ve already done tests,” he said. “We see this coming to market early next year.”

“We’ll know who’s visiting in the seats, but that doesn’t mean we’re throwing your face into a national database,” he added. “We want to make sure we nail the experience, so it feels organic and natural.”

“This will improve the fan experience from entry to the VIP experience,” Downing said.

“On the security side, it will give us better situational awareness of the environment going on, and if people know you have it, it’s a deterrent.”

“I think the new frontier is when the terrorist-watch databases are made available to venues to use,” he added. “That will be a game changer. But we’re not there yet.”



2018 IN REVIEW: Charts
2018 IN REVIEW: Venues
2018 IN REVIEW: Gambling
2018 IN REVIEW: Ticketing
2018 IN REVIEW: Marketing
2018 IN REVIEW: Clubs

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Posted: 25 Nov 2018, 9:00 pm

Ed Sheeran, who once opened stadium shows for Taylor Swift, had a record-breaking year, headlining stadiums across the globe. (Getty Images)

Flush times lead to full tills. During a year when tax cuts and near-record lows in unemployment grabbed headlines, venues from coast to coast reaped the rewards, thanks to packed houses and expanded offerings that lured in record crowds.

After years of fretting about the lack of new bankable headlining acts, a fresh generation of stars, including Ed Sheeran and Bruno Mars, and touring productions of hit Broadway show “Hamilton” made for a very good year for American venues. Add in the unstoppable momentum of one of rock’s most bankable stars, Bruce Springsteen — whose “Springsteen on Broadway” will conclude a 236-show run at the Walter Kerr Theatre in New York in December — and you have definitive proof that audiences voted in droves with their wallets in 2018.

Doubling Down in ATL
Atlanta’s Fox Theatre has long thrived in the crowded urban Southern market, where President and CEO Allan Vella is often competing with a handful of venues to land dates at the 4,665-capacity theater, which landed at No. 1 on VenueNow’s Top Stops ranking for 2018 in the 2,001- to 5,000-capacity category. With a mix of savvy programming, a clever in-house expansion and mini-residencies from beloved acts, though, the Fox had a year even Vella couldn’t have predicted.

The main reason: the continuing frenzy surrounding Lin-Manuel Miranda’s smash Broadway hip-hop history musical “Hamilton,” with 24 performances that helped the Fox sell more than 723,000 total tickets in 2018, with grosses of $57 million over 205 shows.

Jennifer_Lopez_Getty.jpgJennifer Lopez performs during her residency at Zappos Theater at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas. (Getty Images)

“We had one of the earlier stops on the [“Hamilton”] tour and they were all sold out, which didn’t surprise me,” he said. What he wasn’t expecting was the incredible boost it gave to the Fox’s subscription base for its Broadway Across America series. Before “Hamilton,” the Fox had 13,000 subscribers to the always-popular series, but that number doubled to 26,000 in a single week thanks to Miranda’s hit, which he called amazing.

Vella hasn’t seen anything like that in his three decades in the business, noting that like a sports team’s crucial season-ticket base, that kind of boost makes every other show more profitable, as those 26,000 subscribers also attended the eight other shows in the series, meaning more concession sales and full seats for every show.

Even more impressive was that after “Hamilton” ended its run, the dropoff in Broadway subscribers was less than 6,000, meaning the Fox retained 20,000 subscribers. “Hamilton” at the Fox had three of the top four spots in its Hot Tickets category, with productions at the Orpheum Theatre in Minneapolis, the Civic Center in Des Moines and the Smith Center in Las Vegas filling up eight out of the 15 slots on the list.

Those returning and new patrons also saw some major changes at the venue, which instituted mandatory bag searches, metal detector walk-throughs and a backpack ban in response to a series of deadly incidents at live music events over the past few years. “We took action after the attack at the Bataclan (in Paris in 2015), and we’ve always taken a stronger stance than some other theaters,” said Vella, who noted that the Fox also added more cameras, hired Transportation Security Administration and law enforcement professionals to work events and increased staff training for everything from evacuation to active shooter and fire drills.

Vella took some chances that paid off in 2018, from a Roy Orbison hologram concert that sold more than 2,000 tickets, to multiple nights by a variety of acts including Nine Inch Nails, Anita Baker, Alabama and Joe Bonamassa and the addition of a new in-house club that provided a revenue boost on show nights.

The Marquee Club presented by Lexus — built inside the Fox in a space that formerly housed a jazz club — is a semiprivate lounge that offers patrons private bars and restrooms, a high-end buffet, a rooftop terrace and entrance 90 minutes before showtime for a $65 upcharge on the price of a ticket. “It’s really happening and (patrons) love being able to come and go as they please,” he said. As for the effect on the Fox’s bottom line, Vella said 2018’s numbers speak for themselves. “Over 205 performances in one year is a really strong number. … Usually in a good year we do around 600,000 (tickets sold) and we did 123,000 more than normal,” he said, likely because of the very low unemployment in Atlanta (3.8 percent as of May 2018) and the city’s economically diverse population, which is increasingly moving into the city core from the suburbs and closer to the Fox in Atlanta’s Midtown.

A Man and His Guitar
While reliably strong draw Taylor Swift was able to sell more than 340,000 tickets for six shows at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., and Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Mass., for her show, her former opening act, Ed Sheeran, proved that a man and his guitar can pull in equally impressive numbers for a concert with considerably less razzle-dazzle.

Sheeran grossed nearly $29 million during four shows at Wembley Stadium in London to land at No. 2 on the Hot Tickets tally for venues greater than 30,000; he had four other spots in the top 15 to Swift’s four total. Mars also had a massive run of it with his 24 Karat Gold world tour and came in at No. 2 in the 15,001-30,000 category, thanks to a quartet of shows at Sitama Super Arena in Japan that grossed north of $15 million; Mars filled three other spots on that list.

But when it comes to a man and his guitar, there is simply no competition for The Boss. Springsteen’s beyond-sold-out run at the Walter Kerr in New York City ran the board in the 2,000-or-less category, filling all 15 slots. 

MetLife Living Large
With the increasing number of pop, rock and country acts bringing their shows to stadiums, one of biggest beneficiaries was East Rutherford, N.J.’s MetLife Stadium, the only U.S. stadium to place in the top three among Top Stops venues with capacity of 30,000 or more. Nine reported shows brought in 477,608 attendees and $57.8 million in grosses, thanks to big name doing big numbers, according to stadium President and CEO Ron VanDeVeen.

Taylor_Swift_Getty.jpgTaylor Swift’s tour stop at MetLife Stadium is one of her four appearances on our year-end Hot Tickets stadium chart. (Getty Images)

Those dates includes three shows from Taylor Swift, two by Ed Sheeran and two by Jay-Z and Beyonce, as well as shows by Kenny Chesney, Luke Bryan and the Hot 97 Summer Jam, nearly tying the record for the most shows at the stadium (11 in 2016). “When acts can come in and do multiple plays and sell in excess of 100,000 tickets at your venue, that shows the strength of their connection to their fans and their music,” said VanDeVeen, noting that the Sheeran and Bryan dates were on those artists’ first national stadium tours.

This year’s highlights came down to the records set by those artists, including Swift making history as the first female act to play three consecutive shows at MetLife, while setting another record for concert grosses at the venue. Along with Swift and Chesney’s runaway success and the near-record amount of traffic, VanDeVeen said, 2018 saw continuing change in how those tickets get into fans’ hands. Ticketmaster’s Verified Fan program and mobile ticketing had “a big impact on how tickets were sold for many of these shows,” he said.

New Categories for New York Market
Atlanta is a one-horse town compared to New York, which is why the 2018 rankings for Long Island’s NYCB Live: Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum and Brooklyn’s Barclays are even more impressive. Barclays landed at No. 8 on the list of venues with 15,001-30,000 capacity, thanks to 813,230 visitors and a gross of more than $66 million from 84 shows, while the refurbished NYCB hit No. 5 in the 10,001-15,000 range with 472,256 visitors and more than $26 million in gross for 147 events.

Drake_Getty.jpgDrake made the Hot Tickets list for large arenas for his stop at New York City’s Madison Square Garden. (Getty Images)

Barclays hosted a sold-out three-night stint from Drake, as well as two shows by Mars, sellouts for Lorde and Sam Smith and capacity gigs for rising electronic dance music and Latin stars Kygo and J Balvin, respectively, according to Keith Sheldon, who oversees programming and content for both buildings. “When you’re in a must-play market, Barclays becomes an aspirational play, so we’ll take all touring content, but we don’t just rely on that,” said Sheldon of his efforts diversifying the 6-year-old building’s offerings and keep registers ringing.

That meant catering to Barclays’ unique Brooklyn cache by hosting the WWE’s SummerSlam event, as well as the ACC men’s basketball tournament for the second year; the first Overwatch League championship, which drew sellout crowds for the esports event over two days; and another esports event, ESL One New York. “We’re at the forefront of event categories that are not typical for other buildings,” he said. “We have a great opportunity to draft off of Brooklyn’s ‘cool’ factor, and we’re making sure to bring in events that reflect that youth culture in the borough. With esports we can find a way to grow outside of the traditional pie. ”

As it was at the Fox, security was on the minds of executives at BSE Global, which runs both Barclays Center and  NYCB Live: Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. They hired 38-year New York Police Department veteran Steven Powers as vice president of security to coordinate with local and regional law enforcement on protective measures across the company’s buildings.

This year also brought some other fan-friendly changes that he thinks will expand Barclays’ appeal, including becoming the first sports and entertainment company to eliminate single-use plastic straws and a renewed focus on healthy food offerings, including the opening of the WW Freestyle Cafe: BKLYN, a Mediterranean-focused restaurant from the company formerly known as Weight Watchers and chef Cat Cora that will include healthy menu items. Also new are kids menus at select stands offering healthy options and new stands with vegan, vegetarian and kosher options.

Since the Nassau coliseum reopened in 2017 after an 18-month, $180 million renovation by parent company BSE Global, Sheldon said, it has been on an epic run with shows by hometown hero Billy Joel, as well as Metallica, Jay-Z and Elton John and unique events catering directly to the Long Island community. Those offerings range from a craft beer festival and seasonal Blood Manor haunted house in the building’s 65,000-square-foot exhibition hall, the wildly popular first all-women’s WWE Evolution pay-per-view event, the New York Open tennis tournament  and the first Longines Masters of New York indoor equestrian event. “We didn’t know what to expect with that one, but coming out of year one it will definitely be an annual event,” he said.

The turnout for that event was a sign to Sheldon that the economy is definitely favoring the bold when it comes to expanding programming. “The obvious answer is a vibrant economy (and) more discretionary spending (boosted attendance), and I’m sure it’s also the case on a more national level,” he said. “Brooklyn is at the epicenter of the largest media market in the country and in many respects we’d thrive no matter the climate, but we’re selling fun and doing that day in and day out. Whether it’s an escape from the reality of the world or an opportunity for someone to spend their hard-earned dollars, that’s what we do.”



2018 IN REVIEW: Venues
2018 IN REVIEW: Gambling
2018 IN REVIEW: Ticketing
2018 IN REVIEW: Security
2018 IN REVIEW: Marketing
2018 IN REVIEW: Clubs

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Posted: 25 Nov 2018, 9:00 pm

The Lumadapt LED Sports Lighting System on display at Amalie Arena in Tampa, Fla. (Courtesy Ephesus Lighting)

When the NHL's Tampa Bay Lightning started looking to upgrade their 7-year-old lighting system in Amalie Arena, something new in the world of lighting flickered to the top: an adaptive system.

New from Eaton’s Ephesus Lighting, the Lumadapt LED Sports Lighting System offers a fully customizable sports lighting system that remotely updates, adapts and expands. And the folks in Tampa love it.

“This is taking (our lighting) to another level with brightness in venue and flexibility of the entire system,” said Steve Griggs, Lightning and Amalie Arena CEO. “It is a good investment not only as it relates to operational and energy efficiency but from a fan experience in venue and broadcast and game presentation. We are able to enhance the game presentation.”

The price of the system varies, but the installation that the Lightning have cost $600,000.

The fully integrated system can expand with a la carte options, whether beam tuning, color-temperature tuning, remote status monitoring or a growing library of premade dynamic light scenes. As functionality updates become available, customers can upgrade the system remotely.

“We saw the opportunity to go after a market that historically had a lighting technology that had little innovation,” said Mike Quijano, Ephesus director of business development. “We wanted a solution that could evolve and adapt along with the changes happening in the venue.”

After the 2012 deployment of the company’s first LED sports lighting system, the Lumadapt option that came online this fall not only updates fixture technology to provide a 20 percent more efficient system that could bring payback to an arena within two or three years, but it also comes with the ability to future-proof the system with updating. “We have taken what was a LED fixture,” Quijano said, “and brought it to the system level that allows upgradability and adaptability.”

Lumadapt-2.jpgEphesus says the new fixtures can replace multiple lighting systems in a building. (Courtesy Ephesus Lighting)

Using a new power-supply technology, new LED lighting sources and a fresh control system that connects to cloud-based services, the Lumadapt also allows for venues to add existing features over time or for one-off events. For example, if a venue wants to purchase RGBA color and additional beam widths for a special event, they can buy by the hour, day, week, month or forever.

Amalie Arena installed the system in September. Both NYCB Live: Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale, N.Y., and the Budweiser Events Center in Loveland, Colo., will feature the system before the calendar turns to 2019. Ephesus plans to move into full production in 2019. Ephesus also plans a higher-output version for mid-2019 to fit outdoor solutions.

Quijano said the most excitement has come from arenas looking to fit the needs of varying events rolling through the building. He used an example of an ice hockey venue lit for hockey that also needs to annually host a televised tennis event. The tennis courts extend outside the hockey perimeter, so the venue can use the Lumadapt system to adjust the beam angle to the widest setting without having to rent supplemental lighting.

“Most arenas have two or three lighting systems,” he said. “We can accomplish everything in the arena with a single system. There are no extra fixtures you are purchasing. You are purchasing what you need and then leveraging the capability.”

Griggs said the Lightning appreciates the efficiency of the system — less heat output from the fixtures has improved their ability to keep the building cool and the ice pure for hockey games, especially in the challenging Florida weather conditions — but he really gets jazzed about the ability to offer a new fan experience.

“I would say playing with it, we have our templates, but we are going to become more adoptive with it, make it fully customized with what we want to do,” he said. “We can really change up what our theme nights look like and have the ability to change the lighting to set the building to that theme.”

The system can also integrate with the Daktronics scoreboard to further enhance fan experience and game presentation, whether pre-mood lighting for a concert, special gala event lighting or broadcast purity for coming NCAA basketball tournament events in 2019 and 2020.

With only 45 of Amalie Arena’s 125 annual scheduled events being hockey, Griggs said they cared deeply about bright lighting, but especially about how the lighting fits with special events.

“We are excited,” Griggs said. “Ephesus has been true partners every step of the way. We have the keys to the car and have really started ramping it up.”

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Posted: 25 Nov 2018, 9:00 pm

CEO, COO, CTO … the list goes on.  For those who are career-oriented, have lofty goals, and are ambitious, the C-suite is the target. Once you land that coveted role at a prominent organization, how do you stay there and not just survive but thrive?

Some crucial skill sets that are “color blind” to your résumé, title, area of expertise or degree:

1. The ability to deliver results on a daily, weekly and monthly basis that fit into long-term goals — while balancing short-term wins.  Is it a quick fix? In line with venue budgets? Does it build the relationship with tenants or clients?

2. The confidence to create, maintain, communicate and sustain a vision and mission. As the first point of contact at a venue, communicate the conditions and know the venue inside out.

3. A tireless work ethic, a strong support system, an immeasurable level of determination and chameleon-like character and disposition. 

Once there, continue to learn and develop.  Stay on top of trends in your industry and other industries; learn from executives you admire; put yourself in uncomfortable positions; continue to work toward being a well-respected and fair leader. After all, there are plenty of others waiting in the wings that would do anything to get that “Chief” moniker on their business card.

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Posted: 25 Nov 2018, 9:00 pm

Improvements at the Fillmore this year include new flooring and additional tiers of standing room and seats at the back of the room for better visibility. (Live Nation Colorado X2)

Denver’s Fillmore Auditorium is celebrating its 20th year as a Live Nation venue — and its past and future as a local music institution and one of the premier indoor concert venues in America.

“I couldn’t be prouder of what the Fillmore means to live music in Colorado,” said Eric Pirritt, president of Live Nation Colorado. “To watch this project unfold, looking at the past in awe while being thrilled about the future, is just incredible.”

The building opened in 1907 as Mammoth Roller Rink. It was later a sports center featuring ice skating, hockey, boxing and wrestling.. It wasn’t until 1960 that the venue hosted its first concert, by soul icon James Brown. Known as the Mammoth Events Center, it hosted legendary acts such as Jimi Hendrix, The Who and the Grateful Dead.

The venue was sold in February 1999 to Bill Graham Presents. Later, that entity combined forces with Live Nation, and the venue reopened as the Fillmore Auditorium, the first Fillmore outside of San Francisco at the time.

Since 2007, the Fillmore Auditorium has been booked by Pirritt and his team at Live Nation Colorado. The Fillmore annually ranks as one of America’s top 10 grossing and attended clubs in Pollstar magazine.

The 3,600-capacity venue has hosted nearly 3 million music fans and 2,000 acts of all genres, including The Allman Brothers Band, Dierks Bentley, Leon Bridges, Zac Brown Band, David Byrne, The Chainsmokers, Chance The Rapper, Coldplay, Deadmau5,  Bob Dylan, Foo Fighters, Green Day, Imagine Dragons, and even a visit by President Barack Obama.

The Fillmore is celebrating its 20th with a $3 million face-lift that’s taken place over the last two years. After a complete reworking of the backstage area in 2017, it now has four full dressing rooms with showers, two touring production offices, one local production office, a new catering kitchen and dining room and a game area, plus new restrooms on the lower level, O’Connell said.


The latest phase of improvements finished in September, adding four tiers of seating and standing space, new flooring throughout the venue, improvements to bar and merchandise locations, an update to the VIP Mezzanine, and video monitors that project a high-definition image of the stage.

New artwork from The BirdSeed Collective, which features local artists, is being installed.
Pirritt said Live Nation put the money into the renovations “simply because the changes are incredible, and the look on people’s faces is priceless when they walk in the doors.”

Sean O’Connell has been the general manager since 2008, half of its life since it became the Fillmore Auditorium.

“We’ve done great things recently with all the renovations,” O’Connell said. “The artists will be more comfortable, and the fans are going to get a whole new experience.”

Ticket prices vary, but according to O’Connell, “typically a ticket is anywhere between $25 and $50. We also do VIP on the balcony overlooking the stage as well as a box-seating area with 12 individual boxes.”

The concessionaire is Centerplate. The F&B company has been providing hospitality to the venue for the last 12 years.

“We have 23 POS stations, in-seat, and VIP service,” O’Connell said. “We feature a lot of local flavor. We have craft beer from over half a dozen Colorado breweries, including our partners at Breckenridge Brewery, and a wine bar.”

“We like to make sure the food options are high quality,” he said. “We have a great variety of offerings, at many price points, from $5 beer to high-end cocktails.”

A new addition this fall will be Denver favorite Marquis Pizza.

The Fillmore Auditorium prides itself on its community involvement. On average the Fillmore donates $25,000 a year to Denver nonprofits, O’Connell said.

“We have a 25-cent-per-ticket charity fee,” O’Connell said. “That money goes to local charities which are chosen by staff.” Some of the beneficiaries have included Conscious Alliance, the Love Hope Strength Foundation, the Colorado Symphony, Musicians in Action and Colorado Special Olympics. The venue management also has roles in several community organizations.

O’Connell is proud that the Fillmore Auditorium is considered one of the top music destinations in the city. “Having Red Rocks in our market keeps the bar very high,” he said. The acclaimed outdoor amphitheater is 10 miles west of Denver.

“We get a lot of the bands that would play Red Rocks during the winter when they are closed,” he said.

He’s also happy the venue can feature “up-and-coming bands” like AJR and Greta Van Fleet.
Pirritt said the Fillmore Auditorium was a perfect fit for Live Nation’s Colorado strategy.

“With the recent acquisitions of Denver’s Summit (1,350 capacity) and Marquis Theatre (500 capacity) it’s all come together to be able to present more and more acts at various stages of their careers,” Pirritt said. “Both the Marquis and Summit have had a ton of work put into them as well, Summit especially. We’re excited to have amazing venues across the city of Denver in our portfolio.”

Pirritt added that the long history of great music at the Fillmore Auditorium is something Live Nation always keeps in mind.

“It may sound cliché, but the vibe here is out of this world,” he said. “When the lights go down, it’s something else. I know a lot of acts personally that say there’s no other venue like it. I’ve been in a lot of venues across this country and I agree. There’s no place like The Fillmore Auditorium.”

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Posted: 25 Nov 2018, 9:00 pm

AEG which entered the New York City club market in 2016, has a portfolio that includes the 2,800-capacity Terminal 5. (Getty Images)

Major promoters entered the club market in 2018 in a much bigger way than in previous years.

This could be seen in strategic moves such as AEG partnering with Slim’s and Great American Music Hall in San Francisco and Live Nation acquiring Midwest-based Frank Productions, which includes the Majestic Theatre in Madison, Wis., and the Blue Note in Columbia, Mo. 

In Live Nation’s most recent conference call with investors, CEO Michael Rapino spoke about “underdeveloped” cities where the company could increase its footprint. President Joe Berchtold laid out the specifics, putting Miami, Los Angeles, Denver and Seattle at the top of the list.

The more Live Nation expands its presence, their logic dictates, the better it is for all promoters.
“Every time we go into a market, we really do think that a rising tide raises all boats,” said Ron Bension, president of Live Nation’s clubs and theaters division. “We recently built a very successful club in Grand Rapids [Mich.], 20 Monroe Live. The Intersection is right down the street and doing well.  We got into Silver Spring [Md.] with one of the best clubs in the region with the Fillmore. Seth Hurwitz  (chairman of Washington-area promoter and venue owner I.M.P.) is doing just fine.”

“We bring more volume into those markets, and we allow for more guests to see more live music. The reality is we’ve seen it.”

Most significantly, the last year has seen Live Nation and AEG go head-to-head in the New York City club marketplace. Could that be the model for future development and acquisitions?

Bowery_Ballroom_Getty.jpgLive Nation entered a deal last year that puts the Bowery Ballroom on its roster of clubs. (Getty Images)

In December 2017, Live Nation created Mercury East Presents with Bowery Ballroom and Mercury Lounge founder Michael Swier, giving the team a club portfolio that included the Bowery Ballroom and Gramercy Theater, Mercury Lounge, Irving Plaza and, in Brooklyn, Warsaw. Among the five venues, they staged more than 660 shows in the first 11 months of 2018.

AEG, which entered the New York City club market in 2016 with the purchase of The Bowery Presents, has a Gotham portfolio that  includes 2,800-capacity Terminal 5 and the Brooklyn venues Music Hall of Williamsburg, Brooklyn Steel and Rough Trade NYC. They staged 620 shows between Jan. 1 and Nov. 16. They are also partnering with Barclays Center parent company BSE Global’s newly renovated Webster Hall.

Both promoters have carved out club-to-arena feeder systems previously unseen in the city. Mercury Lounge and Rough Trade NYC vie for acts looking for 300-capacity rooms; Bowery Ballroom, Gramercy Theater and Music Hall of Williamsburg pack in 600 or so; and Irving Plaza and Warsaw are Brooklyn Steel’s competitors in the 1,000-plus realm.

Take Shannon and the Clams, who went the AEG route this year after playing the independent 200-capacity Brooklyn club Baby’s All Right four times in 2017. They played the Panorama festival and Rough Trade in July and Music Hall of Williamsburg in October.

It’s not necessarily one side or the other: Anne-Marie played Live Nation’s Bowery Ballroom and AEG’s Rough Trade between opening stadium shows for Ed Sheeran this fall; The Record Company played Irving Plaza on its 2017 tour and Terminal 5 in October.

So where does this leave the independents?

Eyes are on City Winery, the 300-capacity SoHo club that will be moving next year to make way for Disney’s new headquarters. The club is packing its mainspace, a smaller space and the waterfront space, City Vineyard, nightly, often by providing a consistent home for heritage acts such as Steve Earle, Dave Alvin and Joan Osborne.

LPR Presents is a series backed by the 10-year-old Greenwich Village club Le Poisson Rouge, which books at independent venues throughout New York City. Among their more than a dozen venues are Town Hall and Nublu in Manhattan and Baby’s All Right, Union Pool, Warsaw and Murmrr Theatre in Brooklyn.

LPR curatorial adviser Brice Rosenbloom says the expansion beyond the club has come through sticking to the eclecticism of their home base and showing that they, like the big guys, can offer a ladder to success.

“Largely because we’ve been able to stay consistent, that has allowed us to expand our programming reach,” he said during LPR’s 10th anniversary celebration earlier this year.  “That success at home has allowed us that growth.

“From early on, when we were presenting shows at Brooklyn Masonic Temple and Town Hall, we realized we had the opportunity to nurture artists that may have been not quite ready to play the room and to maintain relationships with artists who our four walls can’t accommodate.

“We expand our audience by going into all areas of Brooklyn and different areas of Manhattan. It puts the LPR brand out there.”



2018 IN REVIEW: Charts
2018 IN REVIEW: Venues
2018 IN REVIEW: Gambling
2018 IN REVIEW: Ticketing
2018 IN REVIEW: Security
2018 IN REVIEW: Marketing

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Posted: 25 Nov 2018, 9:00 pm

Gritty emerged as the Philadelphia Flyers’ mascot in September and quickly caught on with fans and social media. (Getty Images)

When the NHL's Philadelphia Flyers introduced their first mascot in September, they probably had no idea how many Internet memes they were about to unleash upon the world.

Less than a week after his introduction, the 7-foot, bug-eyed orange monster with the unabashed dad bod made his television debut on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon,” while shows like “Last Week Tonight With John Oliver” and “Saturday Night Live” spoofed his spooky, unmascot-like appearance, which prompted comparisons to creepy predators and killer clowns. 

He looks like a relative of Toomgis, the raggedy bigfoot-like creature from convenience store chain AM/PM’s commercials who literally is made up of fast food items.

A local online blog referred to him as “part Animal from the Muppets, part Trump’s orange hairdo and part iodine poisoning victim.”

Like fellow mascots such as the San Diego Chicken, Mr. Met and colleague Phillie Phanatic — David Raymond, the man inside the Phanatic, consulted in his development — Gritty has become a character in his own right. Brian Allen of Flyland Designs in nearby Bellefonte, Pa., created the persona from scratch, playing off the team’s rowdy reputation as the one-time Broad Street Bullies.

Allen’s website says he sketched “over 20 different possible mascots, including bats, bulls, groundhogs, dragons, tough guys, Yetis and even a flying squirrel.” Flyers officials picked “the big dumpy monster I had drawn as the starting point.”

According to the team, media coverage of Gritty’s first 30 days reached nearly 70 million TV viewers, with a local audience of more than 16 million, in addition to nearly 5 billion online impressions, worth $151 million in earned media, according to Adweek.

Gritty_2_Getty.jpgGritty has proved that his appeal reaches far beyond the ice. (Getty Images)

Gritty has been incorporated as a socialist in a radical anti-fascist meme, while he’s been edited into stock photos from “A Star Is Born” to spoofing Kim Kardashian’s famous martini glass Paper Magazine cover that “broke the Internet.” In October, the Philadelphia City Council passed a formal resolution in his honor, citing his identifying with the city’s “spirit and passion,” though not mentioning that he’s probably causing a generation of youngsters to sleep with one eye open at night.

Still, give credit to the Flyers’ marketing and social media department for bringing attention to the team, their newly renovated home, Wells Fargo Center, and ice hockey in general.

Gritty’s carefully constructed back story tells a tale of Gritty being disturbed in his secret hideout by construction at the Wells Fargo Center, revealing a few eccentricities, like eating snow straight from the Zamboni machine, a love of hot dogs and a disturbing tendency to aim his T-shirt gun at an unsuspecting customer.

Perhaps Gritty’s biggest footprint on popular culture took place on Election Day, where the big guy received 69,000 write-in votes for governor of Pennsylvania and 14 tallies for various positions in New Jersey, from the Cherry Hill Board of Education to Donald Norcross’ congressional seat and even a few votes for Camden County sheriff. Nationally, the Flyers announced that the “Orange Wave” collected 70,000 votes in 46 states across the country.

With Gritty fever taking off so quickly, the Flyers marketing team had little time to prepare for merchandising, but look for a bobblehead in the new year, according to Chief Operating Officer Shawn Tilger, Vice President of Marketing Joe Heller and Director of Marketing Sarah Schwab, the team behind the mascot’s viral rise.

Tilger told Adweek: “I love the number of non-hockey people who like him. It’s transcended just what goes on the ice. People can’t name players, but they can name Gritty.”



2018 IN REVIEW: Charts
2018 IN REVIEW: Venues
2018 IN REVIEW: Gambling
2018 IN REVIEW: Ticketing
2018 IN REVIEW: Security
2018 IN REVIEW: Clubs

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Posted: 25 Nov 2018, 9:00 pm

Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee opened this year designed for paperless entry to its events. (Don Muret / Staff)

The only thing certain about the future of the multibillion-dollar ticketing industry is it most definitely won’t include tickets – that is, the garden-variety ducats in envelopes that have been standard in the live entertainment business will soon go the way of the typewriter and landlines.

“The life of the paper ticket is coming to an end,” said Justin Burleigh, chief product officer for Ticketmaster, whose own company led the charge with all-digital offerings for the recent Taylor Swift tour and the current NFL season. “We live in a world where, no matter your age, everyone is living on their mobile devices. And we fully expect that to continue.”

Over the past year, Ticketmaster has taken the lead on two of the most important advances in ticketing technology, investing  in Blink Identity, a presenter at the recent TechStars Music Accelerator program, for its work on facial recognition and biometrics, and acquiring Upgraded, a blockchain ticketing company out of the Bay Area.

“The end goal for us is creating safer, more personalized experiences for the ticket buyer,” Burleigh said. “And also providing marketing and consumer insights to our clients.”

The other major area of concern for the ticketing business is controlling the secondary market, or in Ticketmaster’s case, keeping those transactions within its ecosystem, as with its controversial Trade Desk, which came under fire earlier in the year for the company’s apparent dealings with bulk resellers.

“There is an increasing movement towards the blending of the primary and secondary market into a single market,” said Josh Baron, co-author of the 2011 book “Ticket Masters: The Rise of the Concert Industry and How the Public Got Scalped,” as well as a consultant to several ticket companies, including Project Admission, a national tech company and blockchain alternative with a focus on the transferring and reselling of tickets, and Dead promoter Peter Shapiro’s group of events and festivals, now serviced by Ticketfly, but which will eventually be rebranded as part of Eventbrite, which acquired the former. 

“We’re just another marketplace,” agreed Jeff Poirier, StubHub general manager for music, theater and performing arts. “The customer has evolved and so have we, as we offer both access and choice to purchase the tickets they want at the value they want, whenever and wherever they want. The secondary market offers two features primary does not: true market value to inform pricing, and data on who is doing the purchasing.”

While Ticketmaster is most certainly the gorilla in the room when it comes to the industry, there are any number of rivals who are busy carving out a space of their own, including not just StubHub and the combined Eventbrite/Ticketfly but also ShowClix, SeatGeek, Vivid Seats AXS and former Ticketmaster head Nathan Hubbard’s startup, Rival.

“There are now and certainly will be competing technologies that offer the same, if not better, services than what Ticketmaster currently offers,” Baron said. “But can any of them actually cause disruption to its primary ticketing business? I don’t see that happening in the immediate future, but I could see them chipping away over the next five to 10 years.”

For Ticketmaster’s Burleigh, the company’s primary goal remains “How do we build products through the lens of identity-based ticketing? It’s not enough to know who bought tickets. Clients want to know who’s actually attending the event. How do we preserve that end-to-end view and chain of custody, and provide them with better, more efficient experiences?”

Fiserv_Forum1_cr_Don_Muret_Staff.JPGFans use their phones to enter Fiserv Forum. (Don Muret / Staff)

Josh Baron agreed: “If the idea of a ticket is a license that can be transferred, we need to know how that’s being done. The key is knowing who the end user is for each ticket in every seat in the building, much as the airlines do.”

Indeed, the idea of dynamic pricing, based on supply, demand and timing, which has been used for both airline tickets and hotel rooms, looks to be a something increasingly taking hold in the ticketing sector.

“At the end of the day, there are still a vast amount of tickets that go unsold,” said Baron, citing reports of “almost 30 to 40 percent leftover inventory in some quarters.”

Taylor Swift used the concept of dynamic pricing for her most recent tour by setting tickets at market-high levels, risking what turned out to be a slow initial rollout but which ultimately resulted in one of the highest-grossing concert tours in history. It also boasted paperless ticketing and verified fan initiatives that offered rewards for consumer behavior.

Baron cited the ticketing companies’ goal to provide the kind of “long-term fan engagement” one sees in, for example, country music, which specializes in grip-and-grin interactions with the public, suggesting enhanced VIP packages that offer meaningful contact like a preshow meditation with Miguel or playing a game of rock, paper, scissors with Chance the Rapper.

“It’s not just about marketing,” Ticketmaster’s Burleigh said. “Wouldn’t you like to wake up in a world where your favorite content is having a conversation with you because they truly understand your affinities and desires?”

With smart contracts, facial recognition and other new technologies, the traditional paper ticket is undergoing a sea change.

Ticketmaster recently rolled out Presence, what it is calling “a next-generation venue access control and fan engagement platform that replaces tickets with digital passes, streamlines live event venue operations and provides real-time insights and analytics to venues and teams, enhances security and protects against fraud.”

“The end goal for us is creating safer, more personalized experiences for the consumer,” Ticketmaster’s Burleigh said. “We’re constantly exploring emerging technologies that can leverage and connect avid fans to allow them to enjoy those two hours of live entertainment, while providing operational data about those buyers for our clients.”

So whether that means your face providing entrance to the express line at the merchandise table or opening the doors to a VIP backstage experience, the ticketing business is embracing advanced technology to turn those dreams into reality.



2018 IN REVIEW: Charts
2018 IN REVIEW: Venues
2018 IN REVIEW: Gambling
2018 IN REVIEW: Security
2018 IN REVIEW: Marketing
2018 IN REVIEW: Clubs

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Posted: 25 Nov 2018, 9:00 pm

About a dozen items, including hot dogs and pretzels, are “street priced” at
Atlanta's Mercedes-Benz Stadium for every event in the building. (Getty Images)

The halo board and petal-like retractable roof generated buzz during the opening of Mercedes-Benz Stadium in downtown Atlanta last year, but so did a much more down-to-earth development: the nation’s first “fan-first” concession pricing.

The NFL’s Atlanta Falcons and Major League Soccer’s Atlanta United FC touted the model as a way to ease fans’ pain over concessions prices, offering more than a dozen items at what they called street pricing. The move was a hit in Atlanta — and not just at the new stadium — but it hasn’t yet created a national trend. Is the pricing model confined to the ATL, or have concession contracts simply encumbered the model’s growth?

In Mercedes-Benz Stadium, the pricing — about a dozen items at $5 or less, including $2 hot dogs and pretzels, $3 nachos and $5 cheeseburgers — occurs for every event in the building, from a Falcons game to the College Football Playoff championship game to the coming Super Bowl, and it has boosted both the Falcons and United to the top of their respective leagues’ food and beverage experience survey. Along with a drastic rise in fan satisfaction — from 18th in the NFL in food and beverage experience to first — the stadium also saw transactions rise 30 percent in 2017 versus 2016 in the Georgia Dome.

“We’ve seen almost 10 percent of our fans arriving earlier to games or matches and their spending increased by 16 percent,” said Greg Beadles, executive vice president and chief operating officer for AMB Sports + Entertainment, the firm operating the stadium for Falcons’ owner Arthur Blank. Levy runs concessions at the stadium.

Mercedes-Benz_Stadium_exterior_cr_Getty_Images.jpgMercedes-Benz Stadium had the value concessions menu in place when it opened in 2017. (Getty Images)

“Fans appreciate the value proposition and quality being offered with our new food and beverage program, and it’s been great to see more families able to come to the stadium and enjoy themselves with the same prices they would pay outside the venue,” he said.

The model worked for the Falcons, so Atlanta’s State Farm Arena, the renovated home of the NBA’s Hawks, followed suit this year.

“Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery,” said Thad Sheely, chief operating officer of the Hawks and State Farm Arena. “When building a ($1.5 billion) building they spent a lot of time and effort rethinking every element of a fan’s experience at a game. Their pricing really did start a trend and set a benchmark for expectations in Atlanta.”

At the same time, Sheely said a renewed focus on operations, especially with a handful of former Disney executives in the fold, put customer experience at the forefront. “Two primary issues that were always the pain point for our fans were wireless connectivity and food,” he said. “It is not just cut your prices and let complaints go away, but you need to improve quality and improve the customer experience.”

In the Hawks’ first game of the regular season in October, Sheely said, volume was up 80 percent over last year’s home opener. “The early stats are great,” he said. “Not just in the fan-first pricing. It is really in the overall food and beverage experience.”

With a dozen items fitting the model, Sheely said, the pricing is a change in perspective. “Just because they are a captive audience, you don’t have the license to serve them anything less than a great-quality value meal,” he said. “We want to be a great night out for a cross-section of fans. You can’t be closed-minded that your customers are customers because they already bought a ticket. You want to be able to provide them a great option in quality and value.”

With the downtown Atlanta professional sports teams on board, is the trend just for Atlanta? NFL stadiums in Baltimore, Tennessee and Detroit and Oriole Park at Camden Yards in Baltimore have made similar moves, all starting some form of fan-friendly pricing, even if only for season-ticket members.

Mike Plutino, founder of the Food Service Matters consultancy, said he expects many other teams will follow the model as they go through their concessions contract renewal process, but not at amphitheaters or clubs that rely heavily on high food and beverage margins.

“It is already having an impact in several locations within our portfolio,” he said. “Clients with virtually every team we speak to are wanting to learn more about the potential impacts to their organization. Many teams are handcuffed by short-sighted, high-commission concession deals that have limited their editorial control over one of the most important aspects of their fan experience, second only to their team product. Other teams are simply not willing to consider a new way of doing business.”

Plutino said the Mercedes-Benz Stadium model has clearly demonstrated that fans will spend more with lower pricing and it “appears to be one of the surest and fastest way to accelerate fan satisfaction.”

Sheely said the most misunderstood aspect of food and beverage is the extent to which it is a fixed-cost business, with staffing being a high percentage of the cost. By figuring out how to efficiently manage the fixed cost, Sheely said, the model works. To make it happen in State Farm Arena, the Hawks rebuilt every concession stand to give the team the ability to handle the extra volume. “You have to understand those challenge and know what you are getting into,” he said.

The Hawks worked with concessionaire Levy to restructure their deal as a management fee and used the firm’s E15 analytics arm to find the right price, menu items and locations in order to “actually provide value to fans.”

Sheely noted that the changes come with some fan learning too. Not every item across the menu has a low price. The Hawks have 12 items under $5, but they also have Antico Pizza, Old Lady Gang crab cake sandwiches and plenty of other more expensive specialty items.

“We listened to our fans and they told us that they cared about food quality, prices, variety and speed of service,” AMB’s Beadles said. “So, we went about creating a new model that addressed all of these areas holistically, and that has been the key to our success.”

While the Falcons and the Hawks have led the effort — Sheely said there is a sense of “Southern hospitality” to Atlanta leading the way — and relatively few have followed thus far, will resistance to change or sticky concession contracts hold off the trend? Then again, the trend may just be starting.



2018 IN REVIEW: Charts
2018 IN REVIEW: Venues
2018 IN REVIEW: Gambling
2018 IN REVIEW: Ticketing
2018 IN REVIEW: Security
2018 IN REVIEW: Marketing
2018 IN REVIEW: Clubs

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Posted: 25 Nov 2018, 9:00 pm

The Caesars Club, shown in a rendering, will be a premium club at Prudential Center in Newark, N.J. (Courtesy Harris Blitzer Sports and Entertainment)

The focal point of sports betting at arenas sits in downtown Newark, N.J.

When the Supreme Court in May cleared the way for individual states to legalize betting, the issue immediately went nationwide, and its effects have been felt across the country.

But New Jersey was a party to the case that produced the ruling after advocating the legalization of sports betting for years, so it was ready to quickly move forward. Newark’s NHL team, the New Jersey Devils,  was ready as well.

Five months later, the New Jersey Devils have deals with three gaming firms catering to fans placing legal bets online during NHL games and other events at Prudential Center. The Devils have signed sportsbook William Hill, Caesars Entertainment and FanDuel, a daily fantasy platform, as sponsors, and they expect more gaming deals to materialize in the future.

At Prudential Center, the gaming category as a whole is valued at $5 million a year, said Hugh Weber, president of the Devils and the arena. All three deals are multiyear agreements, although the Devils would not specify the number of years.

New_Jersey_Devils_Getty.jpgPrudential Center is home ice for the NHL's New Jersey Devils. (Getty Images)

“Everybody’s got their own little piece of the world,” Weber said. “It’s turned out well. New Jersey is leading the way,” apart from Nevada, where gambling has been legal for years.

“The Devils’ (being) the state’s only pro team has kind of made us a natural test case for other teams and leagues in the future,” Weber said.

To this point, Prudential Center patrons are restricted to placing bets through the three sponsors’ mobile applications. In New Jersey, where both online and brick-and-mortar betting are legal, the state determines the number of sports book licenses granted to venues, which is limited to horse racing tracks and Atlantic City casinos.

“The physical spaces are regulated by the state of New Jersey through a different jurisdiction,” Weber said. “We’re not contemplating that the law will change anytime soon.”

It’s just as well in today’s digital age. People do everything on their mobile devices and don’t really need to place bets with a teller to engage in the activity, said Marcus DiNitto, managing editor of Bet Chicago, a betting information site focusing on Chicago’s big-league teams.

And it’s just as well at Prudential Center, where Weber said the Devils prefer that their fans sit in their seats watching the game while placing bets on their devices rather than searching for a kiosk outside the seating bowl.

Harris Blitzer Sports and Entertainment, the Devils’ owner, also owns the Crystal Palace Football Club, and the Devils consulted with the Premier League team before signing their deals. In Europe, sports betting is part of the culture of live events and betting windows are integrated into soccer stadiums.

The Devils split the gaming category into pieces, driven in part by the demographics targeted by the three partners: FanDuel skews younger for its daily fantasy play, compared with Caesars, which typically draws an older, higher-end clientele, Weber said.

Devils’ research shows that sports bettors use several sites to find the best odds possible.
“Consumers aren’t necessarily picking one platform and sticking with it,” he said. “They’re dabbling with multiple platforms for placing sports wagers. The idea is how do we determine ways to create experiences for those brands in a way that our fans can appreciate.”

Prudential_Center_William_Hill.jpegWilliam Hill’s Michael Grodsky (center) with Harris Blitzer’s Adam Davis (left) and Hugh Weber. (Courtesy Harris Blitzer Sports and Entertainment)

William Hill, which also has a deal with the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights, already operates at Monmouth Park Racetrack and two casinos in New Jersey. At Prudential Center, its brand will adorn the William Hill Sports Lounge, a 1,200-square-foot space on the main concourse formerly occupied by a Jack Daniel’s bar.

When it’s completed later this season, the lounge will have the look and feel of a sports book. Televisions will show big league games and post the odds for those contests, Weber said. The British sports book’s assets also include updated odds posted on the center-hung videoboard, the “William Hill Line Change” promotion and dasher board signs.

Caesars, which Devils co-owner Josh Harris has an ownership stake in through Apollo Management Group, his private equity firm, takes over a 5,000-square-foot premium space that at one time was the Jeep Frontier Club. The new Caesars Club is exclusive to 460 club-seat holders. Caesars Entertainment stands as No. 1 in gaming revenue in North America and the club fits well with its model of high-end experiences, Weber said.

Legends, the Devils’ concessionaire, runs the branded destinations, which both serve food and drink.

FanDuel’s deal includes an in-ice logo, the first in the NHL for a gaming firm, plus digital and social media exposure.

The Devils don’t get access to their partners’ data, which prevents the team from contacting potential new customers. It’s exclusive to William Hill, Caesars and FanDuel, with no links to the team and arena mobile apps. There are some regulations over how that data flows, but over time it could potentially be something that the Devils tap into, Weber said.

The data piece is critical for the sponsors. Caesars’ deal, for example, allows it to send in-arena bettors information about its casinos and send them promotions to steer new business to its properties, said John Brennan, a writer for US Bets, a website documenting betting legislation across the country. Brennan was a longtime reporter for the Bergen Record, chronicling the state’s lengthy effort to get sports betting legalized in the Garden State.

At MetLife Stadium, part of the New Jersey Meadowlands Sports Complex, fans can now freely place bets on their mobile devices during New York Jets and Giants games. The teams don’t advertise the opportunity because the NFL remains resistant to the issue, Brennan said. (Several NFL teams have deals with gaming resorts on the hospitality side, including Caesars’ founding partnership for the Raiders’ stadium under construction in Las Vegas).

There’s a free shuttle bus service from the MetLife Stadium parking lot to the adjacent Meadowlands Racetrack, where fans can place bets at the FanDuel sports book, Brennan said. After Jets and Giants games are over, hundreds of fans waiting for traffic to clear take the shuttle to the track to place bets and watch the late Sunday afternoon games on big screens.

“The teams don’t advertise the shuttle, but if you know where to look, you can find it and go back and forth before the game, if you prefer that sort of social experience,” he said. “They have real tellers to place traditional bets. It’s a bit of a strange situation.”

It’s all part of the shakeout in a new dawn for sports betting in-venue in the U.S.

“If you see the trajectory of this category in N.J. and how much it’s grown in a few months, other states will see the revenue [potential],” Weber said. “We’re in the early stages, but if the category can become as mature as it has in Europe, it’s a game changer.”



2018 IN REVIEW: Charts
2018 IN REVIEW: Venues
2018 IN REVIEW: Ticketing
2018 IN REVIEW: Security
2018 IN REVIEW: Marketing
2018 IN REVIEW: Clubs

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Posted: 25 Nov 2018, 9:00 pm

The Hollywood Bowl food scene has been transformed since Sodexo took over F&B in 2015. (Courtesy Centerplate)

The Hollywood Bowl, Los Angeles’ 96-year-old open-air concert landmark, has a long tradition of allowing guests to bring their own food and beverages onto the premises so they can enjoy a picnic and bottle of wine before a show.

“It’s tough competing against a history of fun times at the bowl, bringing in your own food and beverage,” said Gian Rafaniello, general manager for service company Sodexo at the bowl. So when Sodexo took over food services at the venue from Patina Restaurant Group in 2015, it partnered with Los Angeles restaurateurs Suzanne Goin and Caroline Styne and their Lucques Group, whose establishments include Lucques, a.o.c., Tavern and the Larder.

Three years later, the bowl’s food story is “nothing like it was before we got here,” Rafaniello said. “We have completely renovated the restaurants, the stands, the menu and the way the guests relate to our offerings.”

Persuading patrons to change their preshow habits and buy their concessions at the venue has been a slow process, but Sodexo and Lucques are making progress.

“It’s about bringing the guests a dining experience that is better than the one they could have by doing it themselves,” executive chef Ivan Petkov said. “We determined early on (that) the way to achieve it was with high-quality offerings that were on a par with the same high-end food that the guests could get if they went out to dinner at one of the restaurants near the bowl. Bringing in Lucques was a bold step in making that a reality.”

Together, the two food service providers rebranded the property’s four restaurants, nine street carts and three marketplaces, where grab-and-go items can be bought. The changes included bringing in Lucques’ brands.

In the restaurants, the menu items change seasonally,  “to make sure that if a customer came last season they wouldn’t see the same dish offered again,” Rafaniello said.

“There’s a lot of food choices within a short distance of our venue,” he said. “It’s easy to pick a place to eat off premises and then stroll up for the show.”

The plan is working. Per caps are at an all-time high of $12.45, up 10 percent from before the account was taken over by France-based Sodexo, which furthered its reach into the North American market when it bought concessionaire Centerplate in 2017.

The capture rate at the Hollywood Bowl, which is the rate of customers buying concessions at the venue, has shot up to 39 percent, a rate unheard of before the concessionaire swap, Rafaniello said.

Even more impressive: Sales have been up year-over-year for three years straight.
“We must be doing something right,” Rafaniello said. “The per caps were stagnant for many, many years before we arrived.”

Pollstar listed 93 events in 2018 at the busy venue, which has a capacity of 17,500.

One of the new innovations is preorder picnic baskets. “We sell about 50 of these per show and often reach our 200-basket limit,” Petkov said. “They have items in them like grilled chicken, tenderloin, fish and there’s even a vegan option. The baskets are a complete meal with a starter, an entree, a dessert. ... We want to make it attractive to just order this instead of putting it all together yourself and bringing it.”

Guests can order online or on the phone up to a day before a show. “We call it ‘Supper in Your Seat,’” Petkov said.

Express ordering is another innovation. “Guests can order at kiosks spread throughout the venue, pay at the kiosk, and then go pick their order up at a dedicated window,” Rafaniello said. “It’s a big hit.”

The venue, owned by Los Angeles County and operated by the Los Angeles Philharmonic Association, is marketing the offerings through radio spots, in-venue digital advertising, social media, push notifications and promotions, he said.

The team also conducts “key surveys about the food and wayfinding regularly to understand what is working and what needs improvement,” Rafaniello said.

“It’s not easy to break people out from a decades-old habit of throwing together some sandwiches and grabbing a bottle of wine and heading out for a night at the bowl or stopping at a place on Hollywood Boulevard before a concert,” Petkov said. “But we’re making great headway in breaking the pattern and proving to our guests that what they can get here is easier and tastier than that what they did 10 years ago.”

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Posted: 25 Nov 2018, 9:00 pm

Foro Sol in Mexico City, set up for a Bruno Mars concert in February. (Courtesy Foro Sol)

Mexico city’s foro Sol sits atop our end-of-year Top Stops chart for 2018 after reporting total tickets sold of 1,100,481 over 16 shows for a gross of $56,560,706. Visits from Electric Daisy Carnival and Bruno Mars in February were atop the venue’s list of highest-grossing shows.
Jose Luis Esparza took a moment to talk about the success of the venue, which opened in 1993 near the Mexico City International Airport and is operated by Grupo CIE, and what it’s doing to keep the good times going.

What factors make Foro Sol such a powerhouse as a live music venue?
I think first of all the story of the venue. … Also, the capacity — it can hold over 64,000 fans — the size of the stage and the best technology, the fact that it has a (Formula One) racetrack  inside make it unique. But the most important is all the international talent that have performed all these years.

Talk a little about the current market for live music in Mexico and where you fit in.
OCESA is one of the three most important promoters worldwide. We operate venues and promote concerts, family shows and music festivals in Mexico and Colombia.

Festivals are an important part of your lineup. How do you bring them in? Do you participate in creating festivals for your venue?
We try to use the spaces the best possible way to provide an amazing experience for the fans. Yes, for over 20 years we have held one of the first festivals in Mexico. We have improved over the years in mixing music with experience, such as better distribution of the spaces, brand experience activations, good food court zones, resting areas, cashless payment and better VIP zones.

Artists like the Rolling Stones and Roger Waters continue to return to your venue tour after tour. What do they say about what keeps them coming back?
Foro Sol is an important venue. With our experienced operations and production team we try to bring the best experience to our artists and audience. On the other hand, our artists always comment that the Mexican public is one of the warmest in the world.

What kinds of premium seating do you have available for concerts? What improvements have you made lately at the stadium in seating, food, etc.?
For concerts we create the suites where you can enjoy the show in a private space with food and beverage included, a designated parking spot and special entrance.

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Posted: 25 Nov 2018, 8:40 pm

The view from a VIP chalet at the expanded Fair Hill equestrian venue in Maryland, shown in a Populous rendering. 

Two major equestrian venues in two states are being re-created by Populous, and both locations will attract horse shows from across the globe.

The Fair Hill equestrian venue in Maryland will undergo a complete redesign that will make it a five-star venue under regulations of the International Federation for Equestrian Sports, the sports’ governing body known by its French acronym, FEI. That will allow the venue to host international federation events at the highest level and put it among only seven such facilities worldwide.

The Oklahoma Fair Park venue will be built from the ground up and was designed to have a mix of fixed and retractable seats. The venue will have an upper-level open concourse where food, beverage and sponsorship spaces will be built at the top of the arena bowl rather than under the stands.

Populous’ director of equestrian services, Todd Gralla, has had an understanding of what equestrian facilities need from long before he went into design: He grew up showing horses. Today he and his wife have a horse farm in Oklahoma and show horses at Oklahoma Fair Park.

“Coming from a show background, I was interested in the betterment of venues,” he said. “Most of the venues when I was a kid were not specifically designed for equestrian use.”

Gralla’s father was an architect, so architecture was a natural fit for him. For the past 22 years, Gralla has been in charge of master planning and design for more than 200 equestrian facilities and fairgrounds across the world.

“His equestrian knowledge has been very valuable to us,” said Tim O’Toole, general manager of the Oklahoma State Fair.

The Oklahoma State Fairgrounds has received many facelifts to its facilities over the last 15 years, and building a new venue to replace 43-year-old Jim Norick Arena is the last of many upgrades, O’Toole said.

“We’re very excited about it. It’s just the culmination of the work that we started in 2005 to transform this whole facility into a 21st-century tourism destination,” he said.

The new venue will cost roughly $98 million and is being funded by a hotel and motel tax approved by voters years ago. Officials are nailing down a date to break ground and hope it will be sometime mid-2019.

The fairgrounds sit on 430 acres, and Jim Norick Arena will remain open as the new coliseum is being built. Populous was hired five years ago to do a thorough analysis of where the new coliseum should be constructed on the fairgrounds, O’Toole said.

Gralla designed the venue to have an upper-level concourse that can be configured for retractable seating underneath, allowing the coliseum to go from 4,000 seats to 11,000 for various events, including high school sports, Disney on Ice, concerts and rodeos. The event floor will be 140 feet by 270 feet.

Gralla wanted to design something that hadn’t been done before, and he came up with the idea to have an open concourse so that guests could see the show no matter where they are in the venue.

“All the food service, all of the spectator services are within the seating bowl, not underneath,” Gralla said. “All of the services will be in view of the field of play. You don’t sell as much food and beverage when you have to leave a bowl. You don’t ever have to leave the action to go to the bathroom or get a hot dog.”

Additionally, sponsorship space is also located on the open concourse and upper deck, and a freight elevator will allow John Deere and Ford, for example, to haul their tractors up to be displayed.

In Maryland, the Fair Hill venue sits on 400 acres of the 5,600-acre Fair Hill Natural Resource Management Area in Elkton. The need for a redesign came after the FEI awarded the venue a top-level event for 2020.

Fair_Hill_FEI_Equestrian_Venue_aerial.jpgThe renovations at Fair Hill will allow it to play host to top international equestrian events. (Populous)

Populous won the bid with Fair Hill to redesign its facilities to meet the new five-star standard. In doing so, Gralla and his design team had to figure out a way to expand seating without making it permanent. The first phase of the project costs $21 million and is being funded with private and public money.

The final design allows the 12,000-seat venue to add seating with overlay scaffolding. They also designed the equestrian area to host up to 80,000 guests over the course of the FEI Three Day Event, the organization’s top level of competition.

“About 60 percent of the venue every year will be temporarily built,” Gralla said. “We just don’t need that much permanent facility on a yearly basis.”

The venue is outdoors, so it also will have a rain canopy. The grandstands will become premium seating. Four arenas will be included in the main stadium, one for competitions and three smaller practice areas.

The main VIP stands will be permanent and will seat 1,200 with table service. A media tower will be added and the remainder of the stadium will be overlay, giving the venue an opportunity to sell various hospitality packages.

That means venue officials can build the overlay depending on how many tickets are sold.
“Temporary structures give us flexibility to change year to year,” Gralla said. “The nice thing about events and overlay is that we’re selling tickets months and years in advance.We’ll build what people are buying.”

Gralla’s design approach was attractive to the Maryland Sports Commission, which manages Fair Hill, said Terry Hasseltine, executive director of the commission.

“It’s going to change our identity,” Hasseltine said. “People are going to start putting Fair Hill on their bucket list in the equestrian industry.”

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Posted: 25 Nov 2018, 8:00 pm


Management_-_Greg_Mrva1.jpgStubHub appointed Greg Mrva as its chief financial officer. Mrva was most recently managing director of Global Internet Banking at Morgan Stanley and global head of Internet investment banking for Barclays. Other previous positions include vice president of mergers and acquisitions at Yahoo and vice president of corporate development at Mpath Interactive.

Turnkey Search, a subsidiary of Turnkey Sports & Entertainment, named Rick Alessandri managing director and general manager. Alessandri spent 35 years at Disney/ ESPN, Dow Jones and SportsTicker and most recently was Univision executive vice president.

PLC Construction named Deron Brown president and chief operating officer for U.S. operations. Brown joined PCL in 1996 as a project engineer in the Orlando office and became vice president and district manager, directing PCL’s Southeast building operations.

The Cairns (Australia) Convention Centre named Benjamin Boudaud executive chef. Boudaud spent five years with the Atlantic Group in Melbourne.

At the Los Angeles Stadium and Entertainment District at Hollywood Park, Christy Castillo Butcher came aboard as senior vice president of programming. Castillo Butcher most recently served as the senior vice president of booking and events for Staples Center and Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles. Kameron Durham will join as the vice president of guest experience. Durham worked for the San Diego Padres for 15 years and helped open Petco Park. Skarpi Hedinsson was named chief technology officer. Since 2017, Hedinsson has served as the CTO for the Los Angeles Rams. Joe Sesin will join as vice president of finance and accounting. Sesin was a vice president at J.P. Morgan.

Visit Baltimore added Anita Nuñez Cepollaro as senior national sales manager. Cepollaro served in sales roles for Hiltons of Washington, D.C., and Meet Puerto Rico. The organization also promoted Shavonne Harding to regional director of sales for the central and West Coast regions and Christina Ghani to senior national sports manager. Harding joined Visit Baltimore in March as senior national sales manager; Ghani joined in July 2016 as a national sales and sports manager.

Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa in Rancho Mirage, Calif., and Spa Resort Casino in Palm Springs appointed Michael J. Facenda to the role of vice president of marketing. Facenda will oversee all marketing operations for the Agua Caliente Casino Resorts properties.

KAI Design & Build added Dan Forguson as vice president of finance. Forguson held the title of regional project controls director at Jacobs in St. Louis.

The Broadmoor World Arena and Pikes Peak Center for the Performing Arts in Colorado Springs, Colo., named Chad Higgins director of events. Higgins started his career in event operations as director of operations for Live! Technologies. He went on to produce the Jeff Dunham tour 2008-12. Higgins left the venue business for six years before taking his new role at The Broadmoor. Stephen Marquez is joining the team as event manager. Marquez returns to Colorado from Wichita Falls, Texas, where he was the senior event manager for four facilities. In addition, Kelsey Guymon joins Centerplate as the venue’s executive chef. Guymon moved to Colorado two years ago to become the executive chef at Granby Ranch Ski Resort in Grand County.

Visit Seattle promoted Kelly Saling to vice president of convention sales and services. Saling joined the Visit Seattle convention sales team in 2009 and has worked selling a variety of market segments. She was promoted to director of sales in 2014 and most recently to vice president of convention sales in 2017. Previously, Saling worked in Seattle for Columbia Hospitality, a management company, selling a variety of hotel and venue properties.

Jessica Wilson Beckmann is the new director of the Spectra-managed Owensboro (Ky.) Sportscenter. Beckman spent the last 10 years in the St. Louis area managing events at a variety of venues, including a casino, convention center, ballpark and arena. She joined Spectra Venue Management at Chaifetz Arena on the campus of Saint Louis University in 2015. Heather Terry was promoted to director of sales for both venues. Terry started her career with Spectra as a sales manager in 2015. Cody Ball was promoted to operations manager at the Owensboro Convention Center. Ball joined the Spectra team in 2017 as a housekeeping lead.

John “Nick” L. Alberts, 61, longtime employee of Reithoffer Shows, Oct. 2 at Sun City Center Hospice House in Ruskin, Fla. Alberts spent 37 years with the company.

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Posted: 25 Nov 2018, 8:00 pm

John Legend performs Dec. 4 during opening week at The Met Philly. (Courtesy Live Nation Philadelphia)

Philadelphia’s Metropolitan Opera House has already lived many lives. It’s about to live another one.

The venue, which opened with 4,000 seats in 1908 as the largest theater of its kind in the world, has been the home of various opera companies, a movie theater, a ballroom, a sports venue and a church. On Dec. 3, it will be reborn as The Met Philly, a home for live music downtown.

The 110,000-square-foot space, which takes up an entire city block at Broad and Poplar streets, has been transformed into a posh concert venue in a partnership between concert promoter Live Nation, developer Eric Blumenfeld, and the Holy Ghost Headquarters church.

“The venue sat vacant for decades and the area was neglected,” said Geoff Gordon, regional vice president for Live Nation. When Blumenfeld bought the building in 2017 with a development plan, Live Nation agreed it “was a crown jewel, being ignored, and we all had a vision to bring the building back to life.”

Under the terms of the new partnership, Live Nation has a 29-year lease to operate and program the venue, Gordon said.

“The venue sits right in the heart of Philly’s downtown, and once we open, we will revitalize the entire area,” he said.

The_Met_Interior_Rendering_FINAL.jpgRenderings of the main room set up for a theater production and the Grande Salle lounge. (Courtesy Live Nation Philadelphia X2)

The new configuration will have fixed seating for 3,400 and space for 4,000 in a general admission setup — making the space bigger than the Philadelphia market’s other midsize spaces, such as the Fillmore, Franklin Music Hall, Verizon Hall at the Kimmel Center, the Academy of Music and Tower Theatre in Upper Darby.

17594_MET_GrandSalle_R1.jpgThe space has gone through a $56 million restoration and will be Philadelphia’s largest non-arena music venue, Gordon said.

Gordon plans for Live Nation to “bring a very broad menu of artists and acts to the venue,” starting with Bob Dylan, who will open the building Dec. 3.

Already booked are John Oliver, Mariah Carey, Weezer, Impractical Jokers, Jim Gaffigan, John Legend and podcast sensation “My Favorite Murder,” plus recently added shows like Tedeschi Trucks Band and Weird Al Yankovic.

“The programming speaks for itself,” Gordon said. “We’re looking for inclusion.”

“We’re looking at a wide array of programming,” Gordon said. We have room for everything from traditional concerts to dance music shows, table-and-chair floor plans for awards shows, supper club-style attractions, large Cirque-type theatrical productions, corporate events and even boxing matches.”

In addition to the main room, there are other more intimate spaces throughout the vast building, he said.

The concessions will be strictly upscale and provided by James Beard-winning chef Jean-Marie Lacroix’s Brûlée Catering.

“When we heard about the opportunity to revitalize the venue, we wanted to see something magnificent take place in this incredible and historic landmark destination,” said Jack O’Brien, vice president of operations for Brûlée, which is a wholly owned subsidiary of Spectra.

“This is a breathtaking building,” he said. “Four stories, incredible sightlines, a wonderful feel. This was an opportunity to do something special. I’m in awe of what I’ve seen so far; it will be breathtaking when it’s unveiled in December.”

O’Brien said Brûlée would design a different food and beverage experience for each performance. “We’re taking an interesting approach; we’re going customize each menu,” he said. “We’re going to work with Live Nation to see what we can serve that will resonate with the performer and the kind of guest that will come to each show.”

This will not be traditional concession foods, O’Brien said, pointing to “small plates, similar to a Broadway theater” for many shows featuring crudités (traditional French appetizers consisting of sliced or whole raw vegetables typically dipped in a vinaigrette or other dipping sauce), charcuterie (prepared meat products, such as bacon, ham, sausage, terrines, galantines, and pâtés) and antipastos.

“We also want to incorporate the Philadelphia feel, so we’ll also have things like stuffed pepper shooters, fresh-baked Philly-style pretzels with pimento cheese dip and local craft beers,” he said.

O’Brien also said the venue will host private events such as weddings, parties and private dance parties.

“We’re just blocks away from the Philly convention center,” he said. “We plan to market the venue to all the conventions that book the center.”

Gordon said ticket pricing will depend on the act. “Ticket prices are always determined by artists guarantees and expenses,” he said. “We definitely want to make the tickets affordable to most of the people.”

The midsize, midlevel venue fits in nicely with Live Nation’s strategy to have multiple venues in important cities that are perfect for whatever acts they want to bring to town, Gordon stressed.

“This is part of a bigger picture,” he said. “Live Nations’ vision to is cultivate acts and audiences to add to the other properties that Live Nation owns and operates in the city of Philadelphia, like The Fillmore, the Punchline Comedy Club, and the arenas and stadiums in the vicinity that we program.”

“The Met Philly will be the perfect-sized venue for many shows,” he said. “We also see the Met Philly as being the type of venue where acts can play multiple days in a smaller room. John Oliver, for example, will play four shows here. Center city Philly has not had this type of venue for a long time.”

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Posted: 25 Nov 2018, 8:00 pm

Intel Shooting Star drones joining the Rockettes in the finale of this year’s “Christmas Spectacular at Radio City.”

Pieces in the “Mannheim Steamroller Christmas” orchestra.

Years since the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks have played in one of the league’s televised Christmas Day games. They’ll travel to Madison Square Garden to play the New York Knicks, so their new home, Fiserv Forum, will have to wait for another Christmas.

December concert dates listed by Pollstar for 77-year-old Darlene Love, known for her rendition of “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” each year from 1986 to 2014 on David Letterman’s late-night TV show. She’s scheduled to be at Sony Hall in New York City on Dec. 21-22.

Years for the annual Kwanzaa Regeneration Night Celebration at Harlem’s Apollo Theater, featuring Abel Salaam’s Forces of Nature Dance Theatre. This year’s performance is Dec. 29.


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Posted: 25 Nov 2018, 8:00 pm

Queens College, radio station Z100 and the Garden — Darren Pfeffer is Big Apple to the core. (Courtesy MSG)

What did you think you would do when you were a kid? I always wanted to make a career in the music business.

First job in the industry: I was a part-time promotions assistant at radio station Z100.

What is your favorite part of the job? When the house lights go out and the crowd erupts as the artist steps on stage.

What is your least favorite part of the job? Splitting my time between our four venues.

Favorite book/movie/theater show: “Young Frankenstein.”

What would people be surprised to learn about you? I dropped out of college during my senior year to take a full-time position at Z100.

Favorite live event you’ve attended: Billy Joel’s 100th lifetime performance at MSG on July 18. When Bruce Springsteen came onstage to perform “Born to Run” with Billy was the standout moment.

Best advice you’ve ever received: Being nice is ROI positive.

Biggest achievement in your career: Landing my dream job here at the Garden.


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Posted: 25 Nov 2018, 8:00 pm

Welsh-Ryan Arena at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill. HOK was the project designer. (Courtesy Northwestern University)

College basketball is in full swing, and at three schools — Houston, Northwestern and Cincinnati — fans can now enjoy major renovations that have transformed relatively midsize arenas into essentially new facilities.

Fertitta Center, Welsh-Ryan Arena and Fifth Third Bank Arena all feature reconfigured seating bowls with fewer seats, improved sightlines and new premium inventory. Plus, they now have modern concourses, upgraded concessions, new videoboards and fresh exteriors that have undergone a face-lift. 

As with most capital improvements in the college space, the projects are privately funded through donations from alumni and other fans committed to sustaining the lifespan of these on-campus facilities and retaining the best memories these programs have to offer.

In Houston, Fertitta Center reopened Dec. 1 for the Cougars’ game against Oregon and 7-foot-2 center Bol Bol, son of the late NBA player Manute Bol. The game took place 49 years to the day after the building first opened in 1969.

The transformation extends to the venue’s name. Billionaire and university alum Tilman Fertitta, owner of the NBA’s Houston Rockets, donated $20 million to help fund one-third of the $60 million project. In return, the old Hofheinz Pavilion was renamed for his family.

The renovation, designed by AECOM, is the final piece of a campuswide effort to update Houston’s sports facilities, said T.J. Meagher, the school’s senior associate athletic director for capital projects.

Fertitta_Center_Houston.JPGFertitta Center as it neared completion at the University of Houston. (Courtesy AECOM)

The key part of construction was rebuilding the seating bowl, in which the front-row seats at midcourt were 30 feet from the sidelines under the old layout, Meagher said.

All told, there are now about 7,100 total seats, all with much closer views to the game. It’s a reduction of 1,300 seats under the old configuration.

“The original design of Hofheinz was a square building with an oval around a rectangle, and [the court] wasn’t lined up squarely in the building,” he said. “There was uniqueness to the design that added to some of the charm when it first opened, but it also happened to breed a lot of inefficiencies.”

Houston officials toured renovations to State Farm Center at Illinois and Clemson’s Littlejohn Coliseum, both AECOM projects, to get ideas for improving Fertitta Center. In addition, Houston used Turner Construction, the same contractor for rebuilding Littlejohn, as its construction manager, Meagher said.

AECOM came up with a creative technique to correct the geometry of the bowl and straighten the sidelines to bring all seats closer to the floor. On the east side, a new seating structure was built over the old oval bowl.

The west side was gutted and rebuilt with club seats supported by a lounge running the length of the floor. One level above is a new terrace section, created by pushing midcourt seats at the back of the bowl 40 feet closer “to almost hover above the floor,” Meagher said.

As of mid-November, Houston had sold 319 of the 448 club seats, priced at $350 a person for a season ticket. The 76 floor seats, which cost $500 a person, sold out immediately, Meagher said.

The premium inventory extends to 44 loge boxes, 20 “Barcalounger” seats similar to the living room boxes at NFL stadiums, and the 30 terrace seats at midcourt.

Houston eliminated the center-hung board at old Hofheinz and replaced it with two large end zone boards. As part of the retrofit, a halo-shaped LED ribbon board attached to the low ceiling stands out as a signature element.

The halo board is a dynamic feature and provides an additional revenue stream and a branding opportunity for IMG College, the school’s multimedia rights holder.

“Houston was interested in a design solution that captured crowd noise from the low ceiling but also expressed the spatial volume of a ‘big time’ arena the building had always masked,” said Greg Brown, AECOM’s senior associate and sports design studio lead. “We knew [the halo board] could be a great design feature to help tie the entire bowl together as one.”

In Evanston, Ill., project designer HOK met Northwestern’s request to come up with a seat count of 7,039. The final two digits pay homage to the 1939 NCAA Final Four, which was held on campus in a building that preceded Welsh-Ryan Arena. It was the NCAA’s first championship event in basketball.

Welsh-Ryan opened in 1952 as part of McGaw Memorial Hall, a large fieldhouse that fit 13,000, including floor seats. Most recently, the arena had a little more than 8,000 seats before renovations cut it down to the magic number, said Nate Appleman, HOK’s director of sports, recreation and entertainment.

“It was not a good building in its original state; it had a lot of issues,” Appleman said. “The Ryan family, who have their name on the building, wanted to transform it into something competitive with the best in the country. They weren’t just comfortable with industry standards when it came to things like amenities and accessibility. We came up with this term of ‘industry standard plus.’”

It took a plus-size investment of $110 million to bring it up to par with newer venues. The bulk of the money was spent to rebuild the seating bowl and construct the Wilson Club, a group of roughly 600 padded sideline seats tied to an end zone lounge.

Club seats are priced at $1,700 for a season ticket, tied to a minimum $6,000 donation. Most club seats have been sold outside of some held back for internal purposes, said Mike Polisky, Northwestern’s deputy athletic director of external affairs.

In addition, there are seven loge boxes behind the club seats.

The 115 courtside seats sell for $1,800 a person for a season ticket plus a five-figure donation.
“All of this premium ticket conversation was really new to Northwestern,” Appleman said. “They didn’t have that opportunity before. We maximized the number of courtside seats.”

There are two 90-person hospitality spaces in the end zones of the upper deck, one of which came about by accident in the south end overlooking Ryan Field, Northwestern’s football stadium. The arena’s concessions layout upstairs left a big open space for functions such as the Ryans’ tailgate party prior to the football game against Notre Dame, Appleman said.

“All of a sudden, they have space for hospitality that they didn’t have before,” he said. “It’s critical to that campus, cultivating that donor relationship.”

Cincinnati’s arena is just 29 years old, but there were shortcomings for a building that opened as a multipurpose facility without an upper deck concourse and seats in the upper corners that weren’t angled toward the court. After an $87 million makeover, there’s a new concourse at the highest level, three new premium clubs and fixed seats in the lower bowl, which was all retractable seating before the renovation.

Fifth_Third_Arena_Cincinnati.jpgFifth Third Bank Arena at the University of Cincinnati. (Courtesy Populous)

Overall, the project resulted in 100,000 square feet of additional space by expanding the sides of the building, said Bryan Ramsey, senior project manager for Skanska, the school’s general contractor.

“They were looking for a dedicated arena as opposed to a high school gym on steroids,” said Norman Friedman, an associate principal with Populous, which teamed with local architect Moody Nolan on the project.

Apart from the club seats, the renovation produced 16 new suites, six each along the sidelines and four in the north end occupying an old club space. Most suites have 12 to 14 fixed seats. The corner suites on the sidelines are much larger spaces and fit well over 20 people, Friedman said.

Total seating is now 12,012, down from 13,176 under the old setup.

One point of distinction is the arena’s three public bars, two of which are in the upper deck. The school has served alcohol for college basketball games for several years, and the new Armory, Overlook and Queen City bars reflect the city’s rich brewing heritage and provide a destination for fans to meet up for a cold one.

The overall renovation has resulted in some emotional responses from Bearcat fans, Ramsey said. He’s a Cincinnati native and has family that attended the university.

“People walked into the arena and they were getting teary-eyed,” he said. “They’re ecstatic.”

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Q&A With David Gibbons, Executive Director, Massachusetts Convention Center Authority (MCCA)
Posted: 20 Nov 2018, 8:45 am

Meetings Today Senior Contributor Jeff Heilman touched base with Massachusetts Convention Center Authority (MCCA) Executive Director David Gibbons on the MCCA’s increase in group business and the future of the facility.


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FestForums' Show Goes On
Posted: 14 Nov 2018, 4:00 pm

Filmmakers Ethan and Joel Coen and actor Jeff Daniels at FestForums' conference in November 2017. (Courtesy FestForums)

The raging wildfires in California have prevented some registrants from attending a festival conference this week in Santa Barbara, but organizers hope to provide some industry fellowship in the midst of difficult times.

Roughly 200 of the 1,000 people registered for FestForums’ conference, which began Wednesday night and continues through Friday at the Hilton Santa Barbara Beachfront Resort, were unable to attend, but organizers are grateful they can still host the event.

“We are fine up here. Thank goodness. Some of the attendees have been affected in both southern and northern California, but the show will go on and we want to show everyone a good time in these very stressful times,” said Laurie Kirby, co-founder and co-president of FestForums, a Santa Barbara-based company that produces two conferences a year for the festival industry. 

One of FestForums’ beverage sponsors, Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., canceled because many of its workers lost their homes to the fires. The Camp Fire barely missed the company’s Chico brewery and Sierra Nevada founder Ken Grossman and his family donated $100,000 to start a  relief fund, according to the Chico Enterprise-Record.

Despite the devastation in California, Kirby and fellow co-founder and co-president Stuart MacNaught were working long days leading up to the convention to make sure they could still educate and lift the spirits of festival operators, vendors, artists and others. Participants also include event producers, ticketing companies, sponsors and merchandisers, all of which work with festivals annually around the globe.

“It’s sort of like summer camp where (attendees) come back every year to work together and collaborate,” MacNaught said. “We’ve got amazing speakers. We have a talent karaoke show on Thursday night.”

Panel sessions include talking about event safety, cannabis use, branding, booking artists, marketing ideas, and picking the right venue for festivals.

Musical artists are always part of the lineup to entertain attendees, and Michael McDonald, Dennis Quaid, Kenny Loggins and Dishwalla are some of the headlining acts.

Small and large festival operators take part, giving them an opportunity to learn from one another, said Kevin Lyman, founder and CEO of the Vans Warped Tour.

“It’s very niche. It’s very focused. Everyone has the same passion, the same concerns. It’s cathartic in some ways for people to understand that they’re not alone,” Lyman said. “Once you share a concern … you can start working on a solution.”

The goal is to provide professional development and best practices for small festivals and larger ones, such as Coachella and South by Southwest.
Like any industry conference, cocktail parties and awards ceremonies also are on the roster, including the Best of the Fests, honoring the year’s best festivals.

FestForums started four years ago when MacNaught and Kirby sat down and outlined their business model on a couple of cocktail napkins at an Applebee’s restaurant during South by Southwest in Austin, Texas. Kirby was previously an attorney for festivals, and MacNaught worked on the marketing side of the business.

“We started working together and we always wanted to start a business together,” MacNaught said.

Kirby also worked as an adviser for festival operators, and she saw missing pieces in a lot of festival work.

“I saw the pain points that festivals were having,” she said. “(Now we have) smaller ones who are trying to understand how the big ones got big and what can they do to make sure they’re not the next festival that closes because of mismanagement or weather or gun violence.”

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Gaming Companies Look At MLS
Posted: 14 Nov 2018, 3:00 pm

StubHub Center, home of the LA Galaxy, is among several Major League Soccer stadiums in search of new naming-rights deals. (Getty Images)

Companies operating in the gaming space have had discussions with at least three Major League Soccer teams on buying naming rights for their stadiums, as the category shows signs of bursting open with big deals at the highest level of sports sponsorship.

The Philadelphia Union, New York Red Bulls and LA Galaxy are all searching for new naming-rights partners, sources said. Their timing couldn’t be better, as the Supreme Court’s decision earlier in the year that individual states may legalize sports betting in their communities has opened up new opportunities for rich partnerships with the sector.

MLS prohibits sports betting sponsorships among its 23 teams, but the league is reportedly expected to approve the category for the 2019 season.

Chris Allphin, a senior vice president with Van Wagner Sports & Entertainment and a naming-rights consultant, predicted a gaming firm would soon put its name on an MLS facility.

“It’s going to happen,” he said. “People in that league are risk takers.”

Sports betting is legal in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, but it remains illegal in California.

AEG, which owns StubHub Center in Carson, Calif., and the Galaxy, is asking for $5 million a year for a new naming-rights deal, said Rob Yowell, president of Gemini Sports Group, a sports marketing agency. The topic came up during discussions AEG and Yowell had over his client Sportsyard. The daily fantasy site focuses on MLS and English Premier League matches with a peer-to-peer betting platform using blockchain technology. Daily fantasy games are legal in California.

In light of recent events, StubHub, whose deal expires in mid-2019, is not expected to renew naming rights for the complex, which encompasses the MLS stadium and multiple Olympic training venues. In 2013, the ticket reseller signed a six-year agreement for the former Home Depot Center. The deal came on the heels of a separate deal AEG signed with eBay, StubHub’s parent firm, which made StubHub the official ticket reseller for all AEG buildings worldwide, including Staples Center.

The resale deal went away after AEG announced in September the launch of its own secondary ticketing platform tied to AXS, the primary ticketing system for venues that AEG owns and/or operates. As a result, AEG/AXS is now a direct competitor with StubHub, which poses a conflict between the property and its partner.

“The naming rights will be made available,” Yowell said.

An AEG spokesman said the company had no comment. StubHub could not comment, a company official said.

The Red Bulls have tried to find a naming rights partner for the past three years. Most recently, the team has talked to gaming firms about naming rights, but they would not identify the companies, a Red Bulls spokesman said.

Fenway Sports Group, the agency handling the negotiations to sell naming rights for the Red Bulls, would not confirm which gaming firms they’re talking to, said Mark Lev, Fenway Sports’ managing director.

Fenway Sports took over for MP & Silva, which had teamed with Leverage Agency to sell naming rights for Red Bull Arena, but the agencies could not get a deal done for the stadium, which opened in 2010.

At one time over the past 18 months, the Red Bulls were asking for $6 million to $8 million a year for naming rights, said Chris Lencheski, a sports marketing veteran who sits on the board of MP & Silva. The numbers would put the Red Bulls among the top three MLS teams for naming-rights value, but it’s unknown whether those terms remain in play, Lencheski said.

In Greater Philadelphia, Oak View Group, which owns VenuesNow, is working for the Union to sell naming rights for Talen Energy Stadium, confirmed Tim McDermott, the team's chief business officer. Talen Energy's deal expires at the end of 2020 and the utility decided not to renew it after undergoing a series of ownership changes and selling its consumer division, McDermott said.

Together, OVG Global Partnerships and the Union have been in talks with five to 10 gaming brands, distributed among casinos and betting technology firms, McDermott said. He would not identify those companies and how much the Union is asking for naming rights.

In early October, the state of Pennsylvania issued its first two sports betting licenses to Parx Casino and Hollywood Casino. The licenses carry one-time fees of $10 million.

As the Union goes through the process of finding a new partner, McDermott said it's going to be a while before decisions are made on which brands can be marketed by sports betting licensees. 

"We're in a holding pattern right now with the regulations and policy makers," he said. "The league has been supportive of us in evaluating these potential relationships."

Lencheski previously worked for Comcast Spectacor, which had the Union as a client. He said it makes sense for the team to sign naming rights with a gaming entity, considering several casinos and horse tracks operate within a one-hour drive in Delaware and New Jersey.

“It’s an interesting play,” Lencheski said. “There are two casinos alone within 40 minutes of Philly.”

SportsYard, founded in November 2016 by entrepreneur Carrie Sattler, has been in talks with several MLS teams over potential sponsorships to brand physical spaces, some of which are in states where sports betting has not been approved, Yowell said.

In 2017, Sportsyard was a finalist for naming rights to the old Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, where the tech firm is based. For that deal, under the terms of a one-year, $500,000 agreement, Sportsyard planned to use naming rights to build brand awareness through its soccer fantasy contests, according to a copy of Yowell’s proposal posted online.

The city of San Diego owns the stadium and signed a one-year deal with the San Diego County Credit Union under the same terms as SportsYard proposed. The 51-year-old building has San Diego State University football and the Holiday Bowl as primary tenants.

“They took the credit union because we were new at the time,” Yowell said.

In California, it’s just a matter of time before the state legalizes sports betting, he said.

“As soon as California goes, everyone else will fall in line,” Yowell said. “And how does that affect the new NFL stadium in Inglewood? You see the crazy numbers some of these casinos generate. It’s a fun category to watch.”

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Better Lighting From The Cloud
Posted: 14 Nov 2018, 3:00 pm

With Ephesus' new Lumadapt system, the Tampa Bay Lightning and Amalie Arena can buy new features for a single event.  (Courtesy Ephesus Lighting)

When the NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning started looking to upgrade their 7-year-old lighting system in Amalie Arena, something new in the world of lighting flickered to the top: an adaptive system.

New from Eaton’s Ephesus Lighting, the new Lumadapt LED Sports Lighting System offers a fully customizable sports lighting system that remotely updates, adapts and expands. And the folks in Tampa love it.

“This is taking (our lighting) to another level with brightness in venue and flexibility of the entire system,” said Steve Griggs, Lightning and Amalie Arena CEO. “It is a good investment not only as it relates to operational and energy efficiency but from a fan experience in venue and broadcast and game presentation. We are able to enhance the game presentation.”

The price of the system varies, but the installation that the Lightning have cost $600,000.

The fully integrated system can expand with a la carte options, whether expanded RGBA color, beam tuning, color-temperature tuning, remote status monitoring or a growing library of premade dynamic light scenes. As functionality updates and becomes available, customers can upgrade or update the system remotely.

“We saw the opportunity to go after a market that historically had a lighting technology that had little innovation,” said Mike Quijano, Ephesus director of business development. “We wanted a solution that could evolve and adapt along with the changes happening in the venue.”

After the 2012 deployment of the company’s first LED sports lighting system, the Lumadapt option that came online this fall not only updates fixture technology to provide a 20 percent more efficient system that could bring payback to an arena within two or three years, but it also comes with the ability to future-proof the system with updating. “We have taken what was a LED fixture,” Quijano said, “and brought it to the system level that allows upgradability and adaptability.”

Using a new power-supply technology, new LED lighting sources and a fresh control system that connects to cloud-based services, the Lumadapt also allows for venues to add existing features over time or for one-off events. For example, if a venue wants to purchase RGBA color and additional beam widths for a special event, they can buy by the hour, day, week, month or forever.

Amalie Arena installed the system in September. Both NYCB Live: Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale, N.Y., and the Budweiser Events Center in Loveland, Colo., will feature the system before the calendar turns to 2019. Ephesus plans to move into full production in 2019. Ephesus also plans a higher-output version for mid-2019 to fit outdoor solutions.

Quijano said the most excitement has come from arenas looking to fit the needs of varying events rolling through the building. He used an example of an ice hockey venue lit for hockey that also needs to annually host a televised tennis event. The tennis courts extend outside the hockey perimeter, so the venue can use the Lumadapt system to adjust the beam angle to the widest setting without having to rent supplemental lighting.

“Most arenas have two or three lighting systems,” he said. “We can accomplish everything in the arena with a single system. There are no extra fixtures you are purchasing. You are purchasing what you need and then leveraging the capability.”

Griggs said the Lightning appreciates the efficiency of the system — less heat output from the fixtures has improved their ability to keep the building cool and the ice pure for hockey games, especially in the challenging Florida weather conditions — but he really gets jazzed about the ability to offer a new fan experience.

“I would say playing with it, we have our templates, but we are going to become more adoptive with it, make it fully customized with what we want to do,” he said. “We can really change up what our theme nights look like and have the ability to change the lighting to set the building to that theme.”

The system can also integrate with the Daktronics scoreboard to further enhance fan experience and game presentation, whether pre-mood lighting for a concert, special gala event lighting or broadcast purity for coming NCAA basketball tournament events in 2019 and 2020. With only 45 of Amalie Arena’s 125 annual scheduled events being hockey, Griggs said they cared deeply about bright lighting, but especially about how the lighting fits with special events.

“We are excited,” Griggs said. “Ephesus has been true partners every step of the way. We have the keys to the car and have really started ramping it up.”

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HOT TICKETS: NOV. 15, 2018
Posted: 13 Nov 2018, 2:00 pm

Lin-Manuel Miranda and the Broadway cast of ''Hamilton" take a curtain call at the Richard Rodgers Theatre in New York City. The show is continuing to rack up big numbers as it tours the country. (Bruce Glikas)

The juggernaut that is “Hamilton” is still the No. 1 moneymaker on Broadway, and now its touring version is breaking records across the country. The hip-hop musical took three spots on our Hot Tickets chart for venues with capacities of 5,000 or less this week: Eight performances at the Belk Theater in Charlotte, N.C., grabbed the top honors with gross sales of $2,635,153, attendance of 16,568 and a ticket range of $10-$599. The promoter was Blumenthal Performing Arts.

Bruce Springteen's “Springsteen on Broadway,” now in the final few weeks of its run, is giving "Hamilton" fierce competition for audience dollars. Five shows at the Walter Kerr Theatre grossed $2,424,880, with attendance of 4,740 and a ticket range of $79-$850.

HOT TICKETS is a weekly summary of the top events and ticket sales as reported to VN Pulse via Pollstar. Following are the top 20 concerts and events, the top 5 in each capacity category, that took place Oct. 16–Nov. 13.

More Than 15,000 Capacity

10,001-15,000 Capacity


5,000 or Less

1) Drake
Gross Sales:
$5,663,779; Venue: Oracle Arena, Oakland, Calif.; Attendance: 49,858; Ticket Range: $56.67-$190; Promoter: In-House; Dates: Oct. 26-29; No. of Shows: 3

2) Ed Sheeran
Gross Sales: $5,021,395; Venue: Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta; Attendance: 50,906; Ticket Range: $39.50-$125; Promoter: Messina Touring Group / AEG Presents; Dates: Nov. 10; No. of Shows: 1

3) Ed Sheeran
Gross Sales: $4,528,560; Venue: AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas; Attendance: 46,249; Ticket Range: $39.50-$125; Promoter: Messina Touring Group / AEG Presents; Dates: Oct. 27; No. of Shows: 1

4) Ed Sheeran
Gross Sales: $4,197,412; Venue: Raymond James Stadium, Tampa; Attendance: 51,120; Ticket Range: $39.50-$109.50; Promoter: Messina Touring Group / AEG Presents; Dates: Nov. 7; No. of Shows: 1

5) Taylor Swift
Gross Sales: $4,153,679; Venue: Optus Stadium, Burswood, Australia; Attendance: 50,900; Ticket Range: $68.57-$108.26; Promoter: Messina Touring Group / AEG Presents; Dates: Oct. 19; No. of Shows: 1

1) System of a Down
Gross Sales: $810,763; Venue: Valley View Casino Center, San Diego; Attendance: 10,414; Ticket Range: $43.50-$103.50; Promoter: In-House; Dates: Oct. 17; No. of Shows: 1

2) Keith Urban
Gross Sales: $770,288; Venue: Van Andel Arena, Grand Rapids, Mich.; Attendance: 9,603; Ticket Range: $39-$125; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Oct. 19; No. of Shows: 1

3) Josh Groban
Gross Sales: $635,216; Venue: Infinite Energy Center, Duluth, Ga.; Attendance: 5,509; Ticket Range: $55.50-$205.50; Promoter: In-House; Dates: Oct. 18; No. of Shows: 1

4) Thomas Rhett
Gross Sales: $589,035; Venue: Matthew Knight Arena, Eugene, Ore.; Attendance: 9,221; Ticket Range: $31.75-$76.75; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Oct. 18; No. of Shows: 1

5) Thomas Rhett
Gross Sales: $524,833; Venue: Ford Idaho Center Arena, Nampa, Idaho; Attendance: 7,907; Ticket Range: $31.75-$76.75; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Oct. 19; No. of Shows: 1

1) Backstreet Boys
Gross Sales: $1,246,029; Venue: Zappos Theater at Planet Hollywood, Las Vegas; Attendance: 9,427; Ticket Range: $36-$294; Promoter: Caesars Entertainment, Live Nation; Dates: Oct. 31-Nov. 3; No. of Shows: 3

2) Sticky Fingers
Gross Sales: $453,102; Venue: Hordern Pavilion, Moore Park, Australia; Attendance: 10,593; Ticket Range: $49.56; Promoter: Niche Productions; Dates: Nov. 1-2; No. of Shows: 2

3) Keith Urban
Gross Sales: $411,830; Venue: Covelli Centre, Youngstown, Ohio; Attendance: 5,420; Ticket Range: $59.50-$89.50; Promoter: In-house Promotion; Dates: Oct. 24; No. of Shows: 1

4) Kygo
Gross Sales: $357,518; Venue: Hordern Pavilion, Moore Park, Australia; Attendance: 5,492; Ticket Range: $73.51; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Oct. 19; No. of Shows: 1

5) Lauren Daigle
Gross Sales: $337,737; Venue: Smart Financial Centre, Sugar Land, Texas; Attendance: 6,005; Ticket Range: $48-$79; Promoter: KSBJ Special Events; Dates: Oct. 27; No. of Shows: 1

1) “Hamilton”
Gross Sales: $2,635,153; Venue: Belk Theater, Charlotte; Attendance: 16,568; Ticket Range: $10-$599; Promoter: In-House, Blumenthal Performing Arts; Dates: Oct. 23-28; No. of Shows: 8

2) “Hamilton”
Gross Sales: $2,555,071; Venue: Belk Theater, Charlotte; Attendance: 16,568; Ticket Range: $10-$599; Promoter: In-House, Blumenthal Performing Arts; Dates: Oct. 30-Nov. 4; No. of Shows: 8

3) “Springsteen On Broadway,” Bruce Springsteen
Gross Sales: $2,424,880; Venue: Walter Kerr Theatre, New York City; Attendance: 4,740; Ticket Range: $79-$850; Promoter: Thrill Hill Productions; Dates: Oct. 30-Nov. 3; No. of Shows: 5

4) “Hamilton”
Gross Sales: $2,405,655; Venue: Belk Theater, Charlotte; Attendance: 16,568; Ticket Range: $10-$599; Promoter: In-house Promotion, Blumenthal Performing Arts; Dates: Oct. 16-21; No. of Shows: 8

5) “The Phantom of the Opera”
Gross Sales: $1,234,076; Venue: Broward Center, Au-Rene Theater, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; Attendance: 16,432; Ticket Range: $40.25-$100.25; Promoter: In-house Promotion; Dates: Oct. 16-21; No. of Shows: 8

The weekly Hot Tickets chart is compiled by Pollstar. For more information, email or click here to submit your Box Office data now.


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Hot Wheels' Name On New Truck Tour
Posted: 11 Nov 2018, 10:00 pm

Raycom-Legacy Content Co., the joint venture formed recently by Raycom Sports and Legacy Motorsports Events, will launch its first tour in January when Hot Wheels Monster Trucks Live begins visiting U.S. arenas and stadiums, the company announced Monday.

Hot_Wheels_Monster_Trucks_Live.pngThe first stop will be Jan. 5-6 at Bert Ogden Arena in Edinburg, Texas. The tour is scheduled to visit more than 20 cities during its first year, including Chicago; Cleveland; Memphis, Tenn.; and Louisville, Ky. Dates for 10 cities were released Monday, with more to be released later. 

The motorsports show will target families, true to the kind of tours that Raycom-Legacy said it wanted to create, and incorporates Mattel's Hot Wheels brand, which began its journey as a toy aisle staple 50 years ago.

“With the Hot Wheels Monster Trucks Live experience, we’ll not only bring our fans into the real-life action in the arena, but also bring the Hot Wheels brand into an exciting new category,” Julie Freeland, senior director of Mattel global live events and attractions, said in the release announcing the tour.

In addition to the monster trucks, which will perform Hot Wheels jumps and stunts, shows will feature freestyle motocross riders and other attractions. Associated promotions will include the Crash Zone Pre-Show Party with driver meet-and-greets and autograph sessions.

Legacy Motorsports Events was co-founded in March by entertainment and motorsports executives Ken Hudgens, Tim Murray, Eric Cole and Bob Boggess. Each formerly worked for Feld Entertainment, whose Feld Motor Sports division runs Monster Jam, a touring competition that's the leader in the monster truck category.

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Saling Adds To Her VP Duties
Posted: 7 Nov 2018, 7:00 pm

Saling260x195.jpgKelly Saling.

Visit Seattle has promoted Kelly Saling to vice president of convention sales and services.

Saling’s efforts at Visit Seattle have included the redeployment of Visit Seattle’s sales team to better address Seattle’s hotel supply growth and the need for additional hotel-direct business development.

Saling joined the Visit Seattle convention sales team in 2009 and has worked selling a variety of market segments. She was promoted to director of sales in 2014 and most recently to vice president of convention sales in 2017. Previously, Saling worked in Seattle for Columbia Hospitality, a management company, selling a variety of hotel and venue properties.

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Legacy-Raycom Venture Goes Live
Posted: 7 Nov 2018, 4:00 pm

Raycom Sports is partnering with a new company formed by four motorsports veterans on a joint venture that will produce live sports and entertainment touring properties and related creative content.

Raycom-Legacy Content Co. is a partnership between Raycom, an independent sports marketing, event management and production firm based in Charlotte, N.C., and Legacy Motorsports Events, which was co-founded in March by entertainment and motorsports executives Ken Hudgens, Tim Murray, Eric Cole and Bob Boggess.

The new venture, which will be based in Charlotte, will tap into Legacy’s expertise in creating live sports and entertainment events and Raycom’s strength in content production and distribution. Raycom-Legacy also will license new tours with existing entertainment properties.

Hudgens will serve as president and CEO of the venture. He said the partnership was a natural fit for both companies. Legacy’s small team has decades of experience in “the blocking and tackling” of live events, including booking, marketing, selling sponsorships and show production, he said, while Raycom has sophisticated content creation capabilities, as well as the organizational structure to help a start-up organization find its footing.

Hunter Nickel, CEO of Raycom Sports, agreed that the companies complemented each other.

“The Legacy team builds huge, fun live events that audiences love and partners prioritize,” Nickel said in a press release. “We have a tenacious, motivated team that knows how to create, market and distribute content. It’s a great combination.”

Each of Legacy’s co-founders formerly worked for Feld Entertainment, the Florida-based live show production company. Cole, Murray and Hudgens each left Feld in 2016 and have been working together ever since, Hudgens said. Boggess left Feld last year.

Hudgens said the Legacy-Raycom partnership was a good fit for the fledgling group because “retaining ownership into whatever kind of relationship that we entered into was important.”

Hudgens said the new venture originated in part from his working relationship with Nickell across a variety of entities over the years. Hudgens said Legacy saw a rare opportunity in Raycom to work with a company with the resources and experience to produce and distribute a variety of content that can supplement the production of live events.

“Those are all areas that the Raycom folks have an expertise in that I don’t and nobody on my team has,” Hudgens said. “So they will really take the lead in anything that we undertake from all things content. Raycom checks that box and will make sure the partnership covers that area in a positive way.”

Hudgens said creative content for fans has become an essential component to live sports and entertainment. Engaging with fans outside of the venue requires new strategies in multimedia and social media, among other fields.

“It’s crucial that we engage with people not only to build brands but from a transactional standpoint to sell tickets,” Hudgens said. “It's just radically changed. Twenty years ago it was television and radio and you were covered. It's obvious that’s not good enough anymore, and there’s a whole new way of engaging fans both in brand building and the blocking and tackling of selling tickets. And so Raycom will be incredibly helpful with that.”

Hudgens said Legacy-Raycom will work on a variety of sports and entertainment offerings. The background of Legacy’s founders in motorsports, particularly monster trucks, makes that “a natural place for us to start,” he said.

Motorsports “hasn't been just a job or a career for me. It's been a lifelong passion of mine,” Hudgens said. “So I think naturally we will gravitate to what we know and start there in some way, shape or form. We'll have some announcements regarding that coming up soon.”

Raycom-Legacy plans to be more than a motorsports organizer, however. “We have been involved in all forms of live family entertainment throughout our careers, and we’re not going to be pigeonholed into just doing one thing,” Hudgens said. “So organically creating new live content to take out and tour is something that we're looking at, and licensing intellectual property that we can then take out and tour is also something that we think that we would be good at and have an interest in. So I think you'll see us sort of attack it from both ways.”

Hudgens said Raycom’s capabilities and background could lead to “live touring possibilities more akin to what they know, such as ‘stick-and-ball’ kind of things that we package up and take out.”

“Nothing's really off the table,” Hudgens said. “There's a national opportunity for our team given our backgrounds in motorsports and monster trucks specifically, but we're not going to want to be limited long term to just putting a fence around that and that’s all we do. We've got much bigger aspirations than that.”

Hudgens said Raycom-Legacy will focus on offering shows that appeal to families. Key to that approach will be keeping ticket prices on the low end. Raycom-Legacy will be “a volume business” and will not be searching for a peak price point, instead aiming to generate revenue with large crowds, he said.

“There's a difference between what you can sell a ticket for and what you should sell it for,” Hudgens said. “And so we'll focus on the ‘should’ in order to build our audience.”

Also critical to Raycom-Legacy finding long-term success in the family-friendly niche will be “finding the right partners to accentuate and help us communicate our message,” Hudgens said. In order to build an audience and get families to return year after year, Hudgens said the new venture will need to create a consistency to the events and a sustained emphasis on value.

“It's a long row to hoe doing events to build and build and build your audience,” Hudgens said. “People have to come, have a great experience at the event and then feel good about it and hopefully come back next year. That will always be a part of building these events. I think that if we can do all that, we'll have a successful run at this.”

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HKS Works On Planned Ballpark In Japan
Posted: 7 Nov 2018, 3:00 pm

A rendering gives a nighttime view of the ballpark and surrounding development planned for the city of Sapporo. (Courtesy HKS)

The next generation of ballparks in Japan was unveiled this week. The Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters, one of 12 teams in Japan’s top professional league, released renderings and video for a new 35,000-capacity stadium featuring a retractable roof, natural grass, and hot baths at the top of the upper deck in left field.

HKS, the Dallas architect designing Globe Life Field, the new ballpark for Major League Baseball’s Texas Rangers, has teamed with Japanese contractor Obayashi to develop the Fighters’ park. In January, the Rangers signed a multiyear deal with the Fighters that extends to business operations, including the MLB team consulting with the Japanese club on ballpark development.

Populous, the dominant designer of MLB stadiums, was the other finalist in a design competition and had been consulting with the Fighters over the past year on the ballpark and adjoining mixed-use district.

The new facility, projected to cost $530 million, is situated in Kitahiroshima, a suburb of Sapporo on Hokkaido, the largest northern island of Japan. The Fighters are owned by NH Foods, a large food manufacturer that is funding construction and will run the building. Local government is covering the cost of infrastructure upgrades, said John Hutchings, principal-in-charge of both the Fighters and Rangers projects. NH Foods is the equivalent of Hormel Foods in the U.S., Hutchings said.

The Fighters play home games at the Sapporo Dome, a publicly owned facility that opened in 2001. In pursuing a new stadium, the team committed to developing a venue with natural grass to give its fans a more authentic baseball experience compared with playing indoors on artificial turf, he said.

Sapporo sits in a mountain region and the city historically gets 13 feet of snow a year, Hutchings said. As a result, to maintain a natural grass field required a retractable roof with a sharply sloping design. The stadium, which will sit between two ravines, is oriented to the southeast to maximize morning sunlight, he said.

The design includes a massive glass wall in the outfield to promote grass growth. HKS created screening devices to resolve the issue of glare created by the wall during daylight hours.

The ballpark’s amenities include the hot baths, which were requested in the team’s request for proposal during the design competition. They’re part of the culture of Hokkaido, a popular vacation spot. HKS incorporated hot baths in its design that have views to the field but still protect bathers’ privacy, Hutchings said.

The hot baths will also serve as a sponsor activation zone in the park, he said.

The new stadium will include a mix of suites and clubs, but to this point the exact numbers have not been determined. There will be a home plate club, similar to MLB parks.

“There’s only one suite at the Sapporo Dome,” Hutchings said. “The issue in Japan is (most) of the stadiums are owned by municipalities and the teams make little profit from leasing the venues on a per-game basis. The Fighters will own the ballpark, which will result in a much more profitable endeavor for the team.”

Groundbreaking is scheduled for spring 2020 with the opening set for March 2023.

As part of the project, HKS plans to open an office in Tokyo, about an 80-minute flight from Sapporo.

It’s been a while for a new build in Japanese baseball, especially one with dramatic architectural elements shown in the renderings and video for the Fighters’ stadium, Hutchings said. The stadium will be the first new facility since Mazda Zoom Zoom Stadium Hiroshima opened in 2009.

Elsewhere, four teams play in venues that opened in the 1990s, two in the 1980s, two in the 1970s and one in the 1950s. Two ballparks date to the 1920s. (The Orix Buffaloes play home games at two stadiums).

HKS officials hope the project leads to more work in Japan’s highest level of baseball.

“The Fighters created some talent with Yu Darvish and Shohei Ohtani,” both of whom now play in MLB, Hutchings said. “This new ballpark gives them a great tool to recruit premium players.”

You can see a video about the planned ballpark here.

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At The Q, Future Is Already Here
Posted: 7 Nov 2018, 11:00 am

Semicircle booths with room for four in the Westfield Champions Club are among the new premium options. (Courtesy Cleveland Cavaliers)

The Cleveland Cavaliers are making up for lost time. The NBA team is in the midst of a $185 million renovation of Quicken Loans Arena designed to give the building a new sparkle as an anchor for the city’s entertainment district.

“We’re blessed to have an arena that has served northeast Ohio well and performed at a high level over an extended period of time,” said Len Komoroski, CEO for the Cavs and the Q. “Entering our 25th year, we had the oldest arena in the league without a structural renovation. The seating bowl works great with terrific sightlines, but we’ve been challenged with structural flaws — a lack of public space and tight concourses —  which inhibits operational flow.”

The first phase, completed in time for the Oct. 2 Justin Timberlake concert, focused on rebuilding premium spaces with smaller groups of seats along the east and west sidelines. A pair of club lounges were updated and a new club, the Bacardi Ocho Signature Lounge, which is exclusive to courtside seat holders on the east side, replaces the old weight room at event level.

The retrofit effectively reduces the arena’s total suites to 62, down from 93 under the previous configuration. Remodeling work was done on the existing suites, some of which had not been touched since the building opened, Komoroski said.

Bacardi_Ocho_Signature_Lounge.JPGThe new Bacardi Ocho Signature Lounge is reserved for courtside seat holders. (Courtesy Cleveland Cavaliers)

The new inventory consists of 20 eight-person theater boxes; 20 four-person club boxes; seven lounge boxes, designed as semicircle booths with room for four; and 200 lounge seats, which are 30-inch leather seats in the Westfield Champions Club. The Cavs have sold more than 90 percent of the new inventory, team officials said, but they would not disclose further information.

The second phase of construction, to be completed next summer, will transform the arena’s exterior from a drab concrete wall to a glass atrium extending six stories tall on the north side. The addition creates 43,000 square feet of new indoor public gathering space, and for the first time, patrons will have views to downtown Cleveland, Komoroski said.

Behind the glass wall, a brushed aluminum curtain will provide a dramatic architectural element with lighting that can change colors and textures to create a wave effect, he said.

“We can change the personality of the venue depending on the event,” Komoroski said. “We have more than 200 live events and 1,400 private events, and the curtain will create a more dynamic experience as well as connecting to the city in that realm.”

On the south side, the facility’s footprint will expand by 6,500 square feet and feature a new brewpub destination. The Cavaliers, in conjunction with Gensler, their architect of record, plus Rossetti and SHoP Architects, worked hard to develop new public spaces at an arena that was lacking those “neighborhoods” since the building opened in 1994, Komoroski said.

The emphasis was on creating destinations rooted in Cleveland through the imagery and materials used in design and construction. For example, the exposed steel in the clubs ties back to the city’s industrial origins, and tile patterns in the suite restrooms recall the region’s bridges spanning the Cuyahoga River, said Ryan Sickman, Gensler’s sports and convention center leader.

“You will see hints of Cleveland everywhere,” Sickman said. “The entire design team wanted to showcase where the city might be going in the next 50 to 100 years. It’s in a transitional period, and we wanted this building to represent that transition and be the catalyst for pushing it ahead.”

In the south end of the upper deck, which the Cavs refer to as “Loudville,” a reference to the boisterous fans in that space, three sections of seats (216-218) will be removed to build a standing-room platform and a bar, plus new general seating. The space will be branded as Loudville Landing presented by FirstEnergy, the same utility that holds naming rights to the Cleveland Browns’ stadium.

At the Q, the landing and the bar will provide views to the atrium and downtown, and the Cavs expect it to evolve into one of the arena’s most popular destinations, Komoroski said.

For those in the upper deck, “to date, they just had name, rank and serial number in terms of amenities,” he said. “The basics are there, but to get anything more, they would make their way to street level, which would compound the problem as far as [foot] traffic,” he said.

The adjustments will ultimately reduce total seating to 19,342, down from 20,562 under the original layout. When the renovations are complete, Quicken Loans Arena will remain among the NBA’s biggest venues, but the reduction brings it a bit closer to Fiserv Forum and Golden 1 Center. The league’s two newest arenas both seat about 17,500.

“The Q, as we knew it previously, was never an iconic building,” Komoroski said. “It’s not one you might see in a postcard coming from Cleveland. It’s been an amazing evolution. We’ve pulled bits and pieces from a variety of different venues. It’s been a mashup with our touches to make it uniquely Cleveland.”

The two-year project falls in line with multiple NBA arenas that have recently undergone or are in the midst of face-lifts surpassing $100 million. The list includes Wells Fargo Center, AT&T Center, Vivint Smart Home Arena and State Farm Center. This week, Delaware North announced details and renderings of a $100 million expansion of TD Garden in Boston.

In Cleveland, the upgrades led to the NBA awarding Cleveland the 2022 NBA All-Star Game, which the league officially announced Nov. 1.

Cavs owner Dan Gilbert is privately funding $115 million of the project cost, and the team extended its lease for another seven years through 2034. The balance of funding is through public tax dollars and a county reserve fund, among other sources. The publicly owned arena is the county’s largest driver of economic activity, Komoroski said, and the renovations will keep the building on par with newer NBA facilities.

“It’s still cheaper than building a new arena,” said Sickman, whose firm also designed $40 million in upgrades to Capital One Arena in Washington. “The Cavs made a commitment to reuse an asset that could [last for] the next 30 years … and continue to grow that part of downtown. It’s the right strategy.”

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Longhorns Lasso New Concert Series
Posted: 7 Nov 2018, 9:00 am

The Longhorn City Limits concert series, new this season at the University of Texas, is bringing fans out to Longhorn football games earlier. (Courtesy University of Texas)

When Chris Del Conte arrived as the new athletics director for the University of Texas in January, he challenged the staff to come up with ideas for how to improve the game-day experience for the school’s storied football program.

Athletics department staff moved quickly, and one of their first across-the-board successes was the creation of the Longhorn City Limits concert series outside Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium before all six home games this season.

The free series takes place on the LBJ Lawn outside the northeast corner of the stadium, with room for up to 8,000 fans to gather for performances by two acts each week. A roster of corporate partners such as Nissan, Allstate, Coca-Cola and Corona activates on site for the concerts.

Longhorn City Limits runs in tandem with the Bevo Boulevard street festival — named for the school’s live longhorn mascot, Bevo — which takes place along the western edge of the stadium.

Del Conte pushed for changes that led to Longhorn City Limits and Bevo Boulevard as well as more friendly concession prices inside the stadium, said Charles Branch, senior marketing coordinator for fan engagement for University of Texas athletics. “A Texas football home game is a celebration in all facets, so what are we doing to celebrate this university and make it the best experience possible for our fans? We took that as an opportunity to make changes to all facets of our game-day operations,” Branch said.

Aloe_Blacc.jpgAloe Blacc performed at Longhorn City Limits before Texas' game against TCU on Sept. 22.

The new activities have improved the pregame atmosphere at the school, which is landlocked in an urban setting and doesn’t have ample room for tailgating and other traditional pregame gatherings. “It has been immensely successful, bringing our fans down here by the stadium earlier than ever, and for the first time in a long time the game-day environment and buzz around the stadium is getting started five hours before kickoff,” Branch said.

The school partnered on Longhorn City Limits with Austin-based C3 Presents, the Austin-based festival promoter owned by Live Nation that’s behind multiday outdoor events all over the world, including the annual Austin City Limits Music Festival, to which the name of the UT festival alludes.

The series kicked off Sept. 8 with Austin blues legend Jimmie Vaughan, brother of Rock and Roll Hall of Fame guitarist Stevie Ray Vaughan. Subsequent shows have featured Aloe Blacc, the Old 97s, Reckless Kelly and Hayes Carll, and Ghostland Observatory is set to play the final show of the season Nov. 17.

“With C3's world renown with putting on festivals like Lollapalooza and Austin City Limits, it became a matter of 'Why would we look anywhere else?'” said Drew Martin, UT’s executive senior associate athletics director for external affairs. “Once we were able to reach
an agreement with them, it was full steam ahead and the partnership has been seamless, even on a condensed timeline.”

The budget for the six concerts has come from a mix of athletics department funds and use of the revenue generated for the university through its partnership with sports marketer IMG College, which handles the athletic department’s multimedia and sponsorship rights. Because the series was launched so quickly, it’s without a title sponsor this year, but Martin said there has been interest since the kickoff in new sponsorships for 2019 and beyond.

“In year one the goal was to build it and then going forward we sharpen the saw and figure out how we can listen even more to what fans want and enhance the game-day experience to make sure they feel valued,” he said. “Next year it opens up more inventory for our corporate partners to do things like brand stages or provide other activations, and a lot of the response has been so good that even midyear of the first year we've been able to sell things, with the
goal to integrate (sponsors) into the atmosphere.”

Branch said the city’s deep live music tradition and the presence of C3 Presents gave UT several unique advantages when it came to launching a successful concert series for fans.

“We're uniquely positioned at the University of Texas to be literally the best city to do this,” he said.

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Posted: 6 Nov 2018, 2:00 pm

Brian Littrell, Kevin Richardson, Nick Carter, AJ McLean and Howie D. of the Backstreet Boys perform outside Radio City Music Hall during the 2018 MTV Video Music Awards Pre-Show. (Steven Ferdman/VMN18)

The ageless Backstreet Boys are still topping our Hot Tickets charts. This week the boy band took the top spot on our 5,001-10,000-capacity chart with three shows of their Vegas residency at Zappos Theater at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas. Gross sales were $1,588,569, with attendance of 11,245 and a ticket range of $34-$294. The promoter was Caesars Entertainment/Live Nation.

Another Vegas stalwart, the legendary Cher, also grabbed a spot on our Hot Ticket chart this week. Her show at RAC Arena in Perth, Australia, grossed $1,763,776, with attendance of 13,132 and a ticket range of $90.18-$222.48. The show was promoted in-house.

HOT TICKETS is a weekly summary of the top events and ticket sales as reported to VN Pulse via Pollstar. Following are the top 20 concerts and events, the top 5 in each capacity category, that took place Oct. 9–Nov. 6.

More Than 15,000 Capacity

10,001-15,000 Capacity


5,000 or Less

1) Drake
Gross Sales:
$8,179,408; Venue: Forum, Inglewood, Calif.; Attendance: 65,832; Ticket Range: $59.50-$229.50; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Oct. 16; No. of Shows: 4

2) Taylor Swift
Gross Sales: $6,755,570; Venue: Marvel Stadium, Melbourne; Attendance: 63,027; Ticket Range: $68.57-$108.26; Promoter: Messina Touring Group / AEG Presents; Dates: Oct. 26; No. of Shows: 1

3) Roger Waters
Gross Sales: $6,138,611; Venue: Allianz Parque, São Paulo; Attendance: 81,545; Ticket Range: $32.57-$199.84; Promoter: T4F-Time For Fun; Dates: Oct. 9-10; No. of Shows: 2

4) U2
Gross Sales: $5,296,896; Venue: The O2 Arena, London; Attendance: 36,633; Ticket Range: $45.58-$247.48; Promoter: Live Nation Global Touring; Dates: Oct. 23-24; No. of Shows: 2

5) U2
Gross Sales: $4,916,091; Venue: Manchester (England) Arena; Attendance: 36,851; Ticket Range: $45.59-$247.48; Promoter: Live Nation Global Touring; Dates: Oct. 19-20; No. of Shows: 2

1) U2
Gross Sales: $7,066,718; Venue: Mediolanum Forum, Assago, Italy; Attendance: 50,661; Ticket Range: $40.61-$226.24; Promoter: Live Nation Global Touring; Dates: Oct. 11-16; No. of Shows: 4

2) Cher
Gross Sales: $1,763,776; Venue: RAC Arena, Perth, Australia; Attendance: 13,132; Ticket Range: $90.18-$222.48; Promoter: In-House; Dates: Oct. 12; No. of Shows: 1

3) Elton John
Gross Sales: $1,648,595; Venue: NYCB Live: Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, Uniondale, N.Y.; Attendance: 11,984; Ticket Range: $59.50-$249.50; Promoter: AEG Presents; Dates: Oct. 9; No. of Shows: 1

4) Justin Timberlake
Gross Sales: $1,002,357; Venue: Bryce Jordan Center, University Park, Pa.; Attendance: 10,922; Ticket Range: $33-$228; Promoter: Live Nation Global Touring; Dates: Oct. 15; No. of Shows: 1

5) Jeff Lynne’s ELO
Gross Sales: $930,806; Venue: Metro Radio Arena, Newcastle upon Tyne, England; Attendance: 8,694; Ticket Range: $65.13-$149.79; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Oct. 9; No. of Shows: 1

1) Backstreet Boys
Gross Sales: $1,588,569; Venue: Zappos Theater at Planet Hollywood, Las Vegas; Attendance: 11,245; Ticket Range: $34-$294; Promoter: Caesars Entertainment, Live Nation; Dates: Oct. 24-27; No. of Shows: 3

2) Lionel Richie
Gross Sales: $1,444,283; Venue: Zappos Theater at Planet Hollywood, Las Vegas; Attendance: 10,824; Ticket Range: $78-$284; Promoter: Caesars Entertainment, Live Nation; Dates: Oct. 17-20; No. of Shows: 3

3) Lionel Richie
Gross Sales: $1,204,467; Venue: Zappos Theater at Planet Hollywood, Las Vegas; Attendance: 9,577; Ticket Range: $78-$284; Promoter: Caesars Entertainment, Live Nation; Dates: Oct. 10-13; No. of Shows: 3

4) Keith Urban
Gross Sales: $606,900; Venue: Huntington Center, Toledo, Ohio; Attendance: 7,032; Ticket Range: $57.50-$87.50; Promoter: FPC Live; Dates: Oct. 18; No. of Shows: 1

5) MercyMe
Gross Sales: $488,697; Venue: Silverstein Eye Centers Arena, Independence, Mo.; Attendance: 10,891; Ticket Range: $21.75-$75; Promoter: Rush Concerts; Dates: Oct. 25-26; No. of Shows: 2

1) “Springsteen On Broadway,” Bruce Springsteen
Gross Sales: $2,414,700; Venue: Walter Kerr Theatre, New York City; Attendance: 4,740; Ticket Range: $79-$850; Promoter: Thrill Hill Productions; Dates: Oct. 16-20; No. of Shows: 5

2) “Springsteen On Broadway,” Bruce Springsteen
Gross Sales: $1,937,995; Venue: Walter Kerr Theatre, New York City; Attendance: 3,792; Ticket Range: $79-$850; Promoter: Thrill Hill Productions; Dates: Oct. 24-27; No. of Shows: 4

3) Joey Dee & the Starliters
Gross Sales: $1,247,633; Venue: Orpheum Theatre, Minneapolis; Attendance: 15,760; Ticket Range: $21-$175; Promoter: Hennepin Theatre Trust; Dates: Oct. 22-27; No. of Shows: 7

4) Sting, Shaggy
Gross Sales: $452,547; Venue: Santa Barbara (Calif.) Bowl; Attendance: 3,634; Ticket Range: $55.50-$180.50; Promoter: Live Nation Global Touring, Goldenvoice / AEG Presents; Dates: Oct. 29; No. of Shows: 1

5) Donny & Marie Osmond
Gross Sales: $298,541; Venue: Flamingo, Las Vegas; Attendance: 3,125; Ticket Range: $104-$283; Promoter: Caesars Entertainment; Dates: Oct. 16-20; No. of Shows: 5

The weekly Hot Tickets chart is compiled by Pollstar. For more information, email or click here to submit your Box Office data now.


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Posted: 1 Nov 2018, 10:00 pm

Click here to see December 2018 Top Stops.

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Agua Caliente Names Marketing Vice President
Posted: 31 Oct 2018, 7:00 pm



Michael J. Facenda.

Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa in Rancho Mirage, Calif., and Spa Resort Casino in Palm Springs appointed Michael J. Facenda to the role of vice president of marketing.

Facenda will oversee all marketing operations for the Agua Caliente Casino Resorts properties as the organization looks to enhance the visitor experience with upgrades to its Rancho Mirage and Palm Springs locations and future expansions throughout the Coachella Valley.

Facenda will report to Agua Caliente Casino Resorts Chief Operating Officer Saverio “Sal” Scheri III.

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Wellmont Marks 10 Years In Live Biz
Posted: 31 Oct 2018, 4:00 pm

The Wellmont Theater has seen a rise in bookings in the last year, its general manager says.(George Wirt)

The Wellmont Theater in Montclair, N.J., marked its 10th year as a concert venue with an open house Oct. 27. Dubbed OkTENberfest, the event featured food vendors, spirits tastings, more than 40 beers and brews, the debut of new Wellmont merchandise and guided tours of the historic venue.

To commemorate the milestone, the 93-year-old theater, which seats 2,137, announced it would release a portion of tickets for 20 remaining 2018 shows for $10.

“The phones were ringing off the hook when we announced this,” said Carly Wolfson, the Wellmont’s director of artist/customer relations. “People are very interested in what’s going on and getting a deal.”

Despite a rocky beginning that included three owners and a brief shutdown in 2015, the theater has increased and expanded its offerings since its purchase three years ago from the Rosen Group. The owners are Brookfield Asset Management, The Pinnacle Cos. and Greenwood Development. Live Nation Entertainment books the talent on behalf of the Wellmont.

“The last several years, there has been a resurrection to get The Wellmont back to where it was as a live performance venue,” said Anthony Morrison, the venue's general manager. “It’s all about the relationships and making sure artists and their fans have a great experience.”

The numbers reveal the theater has been on an upward trajectory in terms of show counts, which were 80-plus in 2018 versus 60 last year, Morrison said.

“We’re looking to expand our reach to nearby communities and focus on fan experience, those are the main goals,” said Wolfson. “We’re in an arts driven community, and although people close to the theater know it’s here, we can do more to expand our reach.”

In addition, more focus has been on diversifying programming, mixing in a variety of music genres, such as hip hop, rock and country as well as comediennes and family shows. Recent sellouts included The Wiggles, Playboi Carti and Lil Uzi Vert.

Other 2018 performances included Buddy Guy, the Brian Setzer Orchestra, Melissa Ethridge, George Lopez, Fozzy and Chris D’Elia.

According to Wolfson, plans are in the works for a VIP program in 2019 that would include different upgrades, such as a meet-and-greet with artists and restaurant reservations.

“We’re getting good looks with agents, and the calendar looks good, as we’re running the gamut of programming and trending upwards,” said Morrison. “We’re getting better at what we do and getting recognitions.”

The development by Brookfield Asset Management, The Pinnacle Cos. and Ironstate Development around the venue, Seymour Street Development, is bringing added attention to The Wellmont Theater and the area, which is about 45 minutes northwest of New York City. This consists of residential, commercial and retail space, in addition to a 15,000-square-foot plaza and two parking garages. The project is about two years from completion. 

During construction, the theater is providing free parking at another lot it owns two blocks east.

“With the new parking, we’ll have a deck connected to the theater so bands can load in much easier,” said Wolfson. “We’ll also have a small stage on the plaza for outdoor performances.”

A number of improvements have been made to The Wellmont in the last 10 years, with more modifications planned over the next 18 months.

“We’re waiting to finalize these plans, but the changes will coincide with the completion of the development,” said Morrison. “People are excited when they see our calendar. Our social engagement is up as well as website traffic. We want to make the theater a destination.”

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At Breeders' Cup, Showing Off The Chefs
Posted: 31 Oct 2018, 4:00 pm

Masaharu Morimoto will serve his Asian fusion fare in the Mansion, the most exclusive premium area at Churchill Downs. (Courtesy Churchill Downs)

Organizers of the Breeders’ Cup World Championships are cooking up something special for guests at thoroughbred racing’s year-end meet when it comes to historic Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky., on Friday and Saturday, offering eight celebrity chefs to cater to horse racing fans.

The all-star chef lineup includes Masaharu Morimoto, Amanda Freitag and Hugh Acheson as well as local Louisville culinary leader Anthony Lamas.

Breeders’ Cup officials say they commissioned the chefs as part of the sport’s move to offer more upscale and unique experiences, especially in the premium seating areas.

“We are trying to create an event that offers a greater lifestyle experience, combining the best horses, jockeys, trainers and purses in the sport with world-class hospitality, high-end fashion and luxury entertainment events,” said Craig Fravel, Breeders’ Cup CEO and president.

Fravel also notes that the Breeders’ Cup is tapping into the strengths of the host venue: “Since last hosting the Breeders’ Cup (in 2011), Churchill Downs has invested more than $100 million in upgrades, with an increase in luxury seating, improvement of open spaces and circulation and enhancement in dining capabilities.”

Churchill Downs executives look forward to showcasing these renovations to fans who may not attend other races at the track. Attendance for the 2011 event at Churchill was 105,820.

The signature race at Churchill, and historically in North American thoroughbred racing, is the Kentucky Derby, run each year on the first Saturday in May.

“Events at Churchill Downs like the Kentucky Derby are more than just sporting events. They are social occasions where guests spend time together between as many as 12 races throughout the day,” said Sara Brown Meehan, director of lifestyle communications for Churchill Downs.

“Food and drink have always been a big part of attending an event at Churchill Downs. We know from our customer surveys that they are two of the things that our premium guests value the most,” she said.

The Breeders’ Cup’s Fravel says part of the motivation for ordering up celebrity chefs stems from the desire to expand the fan base to include more young people. “In today’s world, particularly with millennials, you have to provide a memorable experience that delivers across multiple facets of an event. We’ve made a concentrated effort over the past few years to widen the appeal of the Breeders’ Cup in order to capture the attention of a new, broad audience of fans and sponsors.”

The offerings will be varied. Freitag, an author and a judge on Food Network’s “Chopped,” will set up shop in the Finish Line Suites on Saturday while Lamas’ fusion of Spanish, Latin and Puerto Rican culinary styles will be on display in the Trophy Lounge both days. Morimoto will create and dish out his Asian fusion food Saturday on the sixth floor in the Mansion, the most exclusive premium area at the track.

Churchill Downs’ executives say that so far the renovations and the addition of more upscale offerings have paid off. “Whether it’s bringing in a celebrity chef, serving local Southern fare or offering substantial snacks in the afternoon, our food and beverage experiences have contributed to a continued increase in revenue and demand for premium seats among all of our audiences,” Meehan said.

The Breeders’ Cup in recent years has alternated between tracks in California and Kentucky. That tradition will continue for at least the next three years: The championships will be run at Santa Anita Park just outside of Los Angeles in 2019, at Keeneland Race Course in Lexington in 2020, and then back in California at Del Mar, near San Diego, for 2021.

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Hornets Give Restaurant A Refresh
Posted: 31 Oct 2018, 2:00 pm

Fans chat during warmups before a Charlotte Hornets game at their table, part of the Flight Deck VIP Experience at Spectrum Center in Charlotte, N.C. (Don Muret / Staff)

The Charlotte Hornets have reconfigured the sit-down restaurant at Spectrum Center into a destination that now gives a small portion of diners views to the game.

The 250-seat space, rebranded as the Flight Deck, is situated at stage end on the Founders Level, which is the lower of two suite levels at the 13-year-old arena.

The retrofit includes the Flight Deck VIP Experience, encompassing 24 seats packaged for single games at the front edge of the restaurant facing the seating bowl. To create the new seats and views, the Hornets removed a half-wall that separated the restaurant from the seating bowl and eliminated one row of 28 ledge seats that came with counter space, said Donna Julian, Spectrum Center’s senior vice president of arena and event operations and general manager.

The new seats are sold in groups of four, designed with both high-top chairs and lounge style seating, plus table space. For most games, the seats sell for $250 to $550 a game per person, depending on the opponent. Food and drink is a separate fee and must be purchased as part of the package. The cost is $32, $65 and $90 a person and includes an option without alcohol.

The Flight Deck VIP seats go up in price to $750 and $650 a person for the Los Angeles Lakers and Golden State Warriors games, respectively, Hornets spokesman Mike Cristaldi said.

At the second home game of the regular season, against the Chicago Bulls, three of the six VIP tables were occupied. For that game, the ticket price was $250 a person.

Those ticket prices may seem high for one of the NBA’s smaller markets, especially for midlevel seats behind the basket. Early in the season, though, the Flight Deck VIP Experience is selling well, Cristaldi said. He did not provide sales numbers.

Overall, it’s a big improvement for the restaurant, which was cut off from the game action under the original design. Newer arenas such as Amway Center in Orlando have restaurants with tiered seating at the edge of the bowl with views to the game for all diners.

In Charlotte, the Hornets plan to experiment with multiple food and drink packages for the Flight Deck VIP seats as they get a better feel for what those customers prefer, Julian said.

“These little experiences here give us 24 seats and we have the ability to expand this concept,” she said. “It’s a new product we didn’t have before, comfortable and engaging. We’re seeing more of that in NBA buildings. People are looking for different kinds of engagement.”

The bulk of the 10,500-square-foot restaurant, exclusive to suite holders and club seat patrons, remains set back from the bowl with no views to the court. The main dining space and bar has undergone a refresh for the first time since the arena opened in 2005. The upgrades cover multiple televisions, new furniture, a large projection screen above the buffet table and new teal lighting, the Hornets’ primary color.

The pregame buffet, at a cost of $40 person, remains the same price as previous years. Diners also have the option of buying appetizers from the bar menu, priced from $10 to $18, said Jason Goodnite, assistant director of operation for Levy, the Hornets’ concessionaire. The bar remains open one hour after the game ends, Goodnite said.

“The beauty of it is we have a lot of flexibility in the configuration, so we can go a little higher than [250 people] and do some different things,” Julian said. “We can cut it off into smaller spaces. We couldn’t move things around with the old furniture, which we had since the building opened. Designers design for a look, but you also have to design for operational purposes.”

At the back of the restaurant, there is now a private meeting room separated by glass doors that the Hornets can use internally and book for corporate events, Julian said.

As part of the retrofit, the Hornets added a flight of stairs connecting the restaurant to the upper suite level. Previously, suite patrons had to take an elevator down to the restaurant.

Local architect LS3P redesigned the Flight Deck in conjunction with AECOM, the Hornets’ architect of record, and Rodgers Builders, a local contractor.

The restaurant redo is the final phase of $34 million in publicly funded arena renovations over the past three years. Last year, the Hornets opened their new 4,200-square-foot team store in Spectrum Center’s old ticket office. The arena’s new ticket office moved to the old retail location tucked in a corner at street level on the back side of the building.

Two years ago, the Hornets replaced their center-hung videoboard with a new $7 million board produced by Prismview, a Samsung company. Prismview manufactured a new center-hung for State Farm Center as part of the Atlanta Hawks’ $193 million arena transformation. The vendor has also made center-hungs for the San Antonio Spurs and Utah Jazz.

Future upgrades could potentially include a new higher-end floor surface to replace bare concrete on the lower and upper concourses. At this point, nothing is confirmed, Julian said.

“We’re working on it,” she said. “Our wish list is always based on improving the fan experience. We’ll take a look at the concourse, look at some flooring. It’s almost Christmas.”

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Wing Bowl's Cluck Runs Out
Posted: 31 Oct 2018, 11:00 am

The recipe for filling Philly's Wells Fargo Center at 6 in the morning included beer and lots of chicken wings. (Courtesy Wells Fargo Center)

The infamous Wing Bowl is history after a 26-year run in Philadelphia, including the past 18 years at Wells Fargo Center, home of the Flyers and Sixers.

Angelo Cataldi, a local radio host and co-creator of the early morning chicken wing eating contest that became a Philly tradition, made the announcement Tuesday on his program on WIP-FM.

Cataldi and radio partner Al Morganti came up with the concept of Wing Bowl in 1993 to give Philadelphia Eagles fans something to look forward to on the Friday before Super Bowl weekend after the team fell short of winning an NFL title (though the Eagles did make it to the big game after the 2004 season, losing to the Patriots).

The Eagles won their first Super Bowl this year, however, and as a result, Cataldi told listeners, he felt the timing was right to end the event.

“It was a big event for the city and everybody looked at it as the kickoff to Super Bowl weekend,” said John Page, president of content for arenas and stadiums for Spectra, which is Comcast Spectacor’s facility management group and runs Wells Fargo Center. “The guys felt they couldn’t top it now that the Eagles are Super Bowl champs.”

“We never like to lose an event,” Page said. “We’ll go back to the drawing board. Entercom [which owns WIP-FM] is our radio partner, and we may create another event.”

But pulling something off on Feb. 1, when the Wing Bowl would have taken place next year, would be tricky. “We have a Sixers game scheduled that night and already have a changeover set for the next day’s Flyers game,” Page said.

Wing Bowl did not displace any events over the years. Crews sometimes worked overnight on Thursday to convert from hockey mode to the eating contest, before transitioning late Friday morning for a basketball game that night. It was no different than any other changeover. “It’s what we do,” Page said.

Looking back, for chicken wing lovers, football fans and those who appreciate a wacky publicity stunt, Wing Bowl provided high drama and plenty of laughs. In a broader sense, it helped open the door to new ideas for creating content that could help venues fill the dates not taken by sports events, concerts and family shows.

For Aramark, the arena’s concessionaire, it generated strong alcohol sales. Historically, the vendor sold about $250,000 worth of beer, wine and liquor, on par with an afternoon Flyers game, sources said.

Wing Bowl evolved from a small gathering in a downtown Philly hotel lobby to an arena full of 20,000 spectators cheering on their favorite contestants. The old Spectrum played host before the event moved to Wells Fargo Center in 2000. About 12 years ago, Wing Bowl grew to the point where it became a $10 ticketed event, with a portion of proceeds going to charities such as the Philadelphia Fraternal Order of Police Survivors Fund.

It became a big draw at the South Philly Sports Complex, attracting celebrities such as Dennis Rodman, Ric Flair and Jon Bon Jovi, plus politicians such as former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell and the late Sen. Arlen Specter. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie made an appearance at the 2015 Wing Bowl, and was booed lustily after he was seen the year before sitting in Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones’ suite at Lincoln Financial Field, cheering the Cowboys on against the Eagles.

The event also drew groups of exotic dancers to escort contestants to the arena floor as part of the competition. Add in some heavy breakfast-time drinking, and some were led to feel that Wing Bowl had run its course, according to some reports.

The event ran from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m., and per city restrictions, Aramark could not sell alcohol until 7 a.m. Wing Bowl aficionados were unfazed.

Over the years, local bars held pregame Wing Bowl parties, and after those establishments closed for the night at 2 a.m., the party would move to Wells Fargo Center, where fans waited for the parking lots to open at 4 a.m. The arena doors opened at 4:30.

But the city paid attention to the show. Apart from the political conventions held at Wells Fargo Center over the past 18 years, Wing Bowl was the only other event since the facility opened in 1996 where all four local major television affiliates broadcast live from the arena, said Ike Richman, a former spokesman for Comcast Spectacor.

“Only in Philly could you get 20,000 people to watch men and women eat wings at that time of the morning,” Richman said. “It was always kind of a knock on the Eagles (for not winning the Super Bowl), but it put that radio station on the map.”

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Posted: 30 Oct 2018, 6:00 pm

Drake performed at Capital One Arena in Washington, D.C., as part of his Aubrey and the Three Migos Tour. (Getty Images)

Rap superstar Drake's latest album, "Scorpion," features three No. 1 singles. Proving his intense popularity, Drake captured the No. 1 spot on our 10,001-15,000-capacity chart with two shows at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, where he grossed $3,278,080, with attendance of 27,804 and a ticket range of $79.50-$229.50. Live Nation promoted the shows.

Also in Vegas, Lionel Richie, performing the tail end of his Vegas residency, nabbed the top spot on the 5,001-10,000-capacity chart with four shows at Zappos Theater at Planet Hollywood. The "Dancing on the Ceiling" singer grossed $1,232,448, with attendance of 9,545 and a ticket range of $78-$284. Promoter was Caesars Entertainment/Live Nation.

HOT TICKETS is a weekly summary of the top events and ticket sales as reported to VN Pulse via Pollstar. Following are the top 20 concerts and events, the top 5 in each capacity category, that took place Oct. 2 – Oct. 30.

15,000 or More Capacity

10,001-15,000 Capacity


5,000 or Less

1) U2
Gross Sales:
$4,346,865; Venue: Ziggo Dome, Amsterdam; Attendance: 33,543; Ticket Range: $40.61-$226.24; Promoter: Live Nation Global Touring; Dates: Oct. 7-8; No. of Shows: 2

2) Jay-Z, Beyoncé
Gross Sales: $4,337,671; Venue: BC Place, Vancouver; Attendance: 39,032; Ticket Range: $19.37-$247.89; Promoter: Live Nation Global Touring; Dates: Oct. 2; No. of Shows: 1

3) Ed Sheeran
Gross Sales: $4,008,747; Venue: Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City, Mo.; Attendance: 51,324; Ticket Range: $39.50-$119.50; Promoter: Messina Touring Group / AEG Presents; Dates: Oct. 13; No. of Shows: 1

4) Ed Sheeran
Gross Sales: $3,954,931; Venue: Nissan Stadium, Nashville; Attendance: 45,888; Ticket Range: $39.50-$119.50; Promoter: Messina Touring Group / AEG Presents; Dates: Oct. 6; No. of Shows: 1

5) U2
Gross Sales: $3,597,016; Venue: Barclaycard Arena, Hamburg; Attendance: 27,191; Ticket Range: $40.61-$226.24; Promoter: Live Nation Global Touring; Dates: Oct. 3-4; No. of Shows: 2

1) Drake
Gross Sales: $3,278,080; Venue: MGM Grand Garden Arena, Las Vegas; Attendance: 27,804; Ticket Range: $79.50-$229.50; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Oct. 5-6; No. of Shows: 2

2) Jason Derulo
Gross Sales: $546,978; Venue: König-Pilsener Arena, Oberhausen, Germany; Attendance: 9,837; Ticket Range: $46.41-$174.03; Promoter: Concert Team; Dates: Oct. 3; No. of Shows: 1

3) Thomas Rhett
Gross Sales: $515,471; Venue: Allen County War Mem. Coliseum, Fort Wayne, Ind.; Attendance: 9,459; Ticket Range: $29.75-$74.75; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Oct. 5; No. of Shows: 1

4) Maluma
Gross Sales: $328,134; Venue: König-Pilsener Arena, Oberhausen, Germany; Attendance: 4,237; Ticket Range: $58.01-$92.81; Promoter: Concert Team; Dates: Oct. 7; No. of Shows: 1

5) Joe Bonamassa
Gross Sales: $249,762; Venue: König-Pilsener Arena, Oberhausen, Germany; Attendance: 2,504; Ticket Range: $80.05-$152.25; Promoter: JR Affiliates; Dates: Oct. 2; No. of Shows: 1

1) Lionel Richie
Gross Sales: $1,232,448; Venue: Zappos Theater at Planet Hollywood, Las Vegas; Attendance: 9,545; Ticket Range: $78-$284; Promoter: Caesars Entertainment, Live Nation; Dates: Oct. 3-6; No. of Shows: 4

2) Ozuna
Gross Sales: $499,652; Venue: State Farm Arena, Hidalgo, Texas; Attendance: 5,253; Ticket Range: $59-$200; Promoter: In-house Promotion; Dates: Oct. 27; No. of Shows: 1

3) Emmanuel & Mijares
Gross Sales: $414,031; Venue: Auditorio Telmex, Zapopan, Mexico; Attendance: 7,411; Ticket Range: $18.68-$117.41; Promoter: In-house Promotion; Dates: Oct. 18; No. of Shows: 1

4) Kesha
Gross Sales: $246,464; Venue: ICC Sydney Theatre, Sydney; Attendance: 3,156; Ticket Range: $57.67-$93.76; Promoter: In-house Promotion; Dates: Oct. 11; No. of Shows: 1

5) The Thank You Canada Tour
Gross Sales: $246,399; Venue: Abbotsford (B.C.) Centre; Attendance: 6,528; Ticket Range: $29.44-$88.31; Promoter: In-house Promotion; Dates: Oct. 5; No. of Shows: 1

1) “Anastasia”
Gross Sales: $1,342,505; Venue: Peace Center Concert Hall, Greenville, S.C.; Attendance: 16,215; Ticket Range: $35-$95; Promoter: In-house Promotion; Dates: Oct. 23-28; No. of Shows: 8

2) Sting, Shaggy
Gross Sales: $271,417; Venue: The Wiltern, Los Angeles; Attendance: 2,304; Ticket Range: $64.50-$204.50; Promoter: Live Nation Global Touring; Dates: Oct. 15; No. of Shows: 1

3) Bob Dylan
Gross Sales: $265,570; Venue: Broward Ctr. Au-Rene Theater, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; Attendance: 2,625; Ticket Range: $63.75-$129.75; Promoter: In-house Promotion, AEG Presents; Dates: Oct. 24; No. of Shows: 1

4) Sebastian Yatra
Gross Sales: $241,120; Venue: James L. Knight Center, Miami; Attendance: 2,672; Ticket Range: $39-$139; Promoter: Cardenas Marketing Network; Dates: Oct. 6; No. of Shows: 1

5) Wu-Tang Clan
Gross Sales: $238,637; Venue: St. Augustine (Fla.) Amphitheatre; Attendance: 4,064; Ticket Range: $55.14-$89.14; Promoter: In-house Promotion; Dates: Oct. 7; No. of Shows: 1

The weekly Hot Tickets chart is compiled by Pollstar. For more information, e-mail or click here to submit your Box Office data now.


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Sodexo Makes Gains At Hollywood Bowl
Posted: 30 Oct 2018, 3:00 pm

Guests enjoy the Sodexo-Lucques Group concessions at L.A.'s open-air Hollywood Bowl. (Courtesy Centerplate)

The Hollywood Bowl, Los Angeles’ open-air 96-year-old concert landmark, has a long tradition of allowing guests to bring their own food and beverage onto the premises for a show and enjoy a picnic and bottle of wine before a show.

"It's tough competing against a history of fun times at the bowl, bringing in your own food and beverage," said Gian Rafaniello, general manager for service company Sodexo at the bowl.
So when Sodexo took over food services at the venue from Patina Restaurant Group three years ago, it partnered with Los Angeles restaurateurs Suzanne Goin and Caroline Styne and their Lucques Group, whose establishments include Lucques, a.o.c., Tavern and the Larder.

Three years later, the bowl’s food story is “nothing like it was before we got here," Rafaniello said. "We have completely renovated the restaurants, the stands, the menu and the way the guests relate to our offerings."

Persuading patrons to change their preshow habits and buy their concessions at the venue has been a slow process, but Sodexo and Lucques are making progress.

"It's about bringing the guests a dining experience that is better than the one they could have by doing it themselves," executive chef Ivan Petkov said. "We determined early on (that) the way to achieve it was with high-quality offerings that were on a par with the same high-end food that the guests could get if they went out to dinner at one of the restaurants near the bowl. Bringing in Lucques was a bold step in making that a reality."

Together, the two food service providers rebranded the four restaurants that are on the property by bringing in the Lucques brand, nine street carts and the three marketplaces where grab-and-go items can be bought.

In the restaurants, the menu items change seasonally. "We change the entrees regularly to make sure that if a customer came last season they wouldn't see the same dish offered again," Rafaniello said. "We want to make it easy for a guest to choose to dine with us."

"There's a lot of food choices within a short distance of our venue," he said. "It's easy to pick a place to eat off premises and then stroll up for the show."

The plan is working. Per caps are at an all-time high of $12.45, up 10 percent from before the account was taken over by France-based Sodexo, which furthered its reach into the North American market when it bought concessionaire Centerplate in 2017.

The capture rate at the Hollywood Bowl, which is the rate of customers buying concessions at the venue, has shot up to 39 percent, a rate unheard of before the concessionaire swap, Rafaniello said.

Even more impressive: Sales have been up year-over-year for three years straight.
"We must be doing something right," Rafaniello said. "The per caps were stagnant for many, many years before we arrived."

One of the new innovations is preorder picnic baskets. "We sell about 50 of these per show and often reach our 200-basket limit," Petkov said. "They have items in them like grilled chicken, tenderloin, fish and there's even a vegan option. The baskets are a complete meal with a starter, an entree, a dessert. ... We want to make it attractive to just order this instead of putting it all together yourself and bringing it."

Guests can order online or on the phone up to a day before a show. "We call it 'Supper in Your Seat,'” Petkov said.

Express ordering is another innovation. "Guests can order at kiosks spread throughout the venue, pay at the kiosk, and then go pick their order up at a dedicated window," Rafaniello said. "It's a big hit."

The venue, which is owned by Los Angeles County and operated by the Los Angeles Philharmonic Association, is marketing the offerings through radio spots, in-venue digital advertising, social media, push notifications and promotions, he said.

The team also conducts "key surveys about the food and wayfinding regularly to understand what is working and what needs improvement."

"It's a not easy to break people out from a decades-old habit of throwing together some sandwiches and grabbing a bottle of wine and heading out for a night at the bowl or stopping at a place on Hollywood Boulevard before a concert," Petkov said. "But we're making great headway in breaking the pattern and proving to our guests that what they can get here is easier and tastier than that what they did 10 years ago."



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Posted: 27 Oct 2018, 3:25 pm

The MGM National Harbor VIP Lounge, new at Capital One Arena. (Courtesy Monumental Sports & Entertainment)

Venue managers know it’s tough to be a fan and run an arena at the same time, especially when your team is winning and it interrupts construction schedules.

That’s how Capital One Arena General Manager Michele Powell felt last spring when two of the arena’s home teams made the playoffs and one won a championship.

“They always say whenever you have something major planned, your team is going to win and make the run,” Powell said with a laugh. “There are consequences when your team wins. It’s a double-edged sword.”

Although she was elated that the Washington Wizards made the NBA playoffs and that the Washington Capitals not only got to the NHL playoffs but won their first Stanley Cup, she knew what that meant for the $40 million renovation planned for the 20,000-seat venue.

It had to be pushed back.

Construction could have begun in April if neither team had advanced past the first round, but it didn’t start until June 12 because of the hockey team’s success.

“The schedule definitely got crunched. We closed down for two- and three-week periods,” Powell said.

She was biting her nails the whole time, worried that she would have to move or cancel concerts during the renovation. Luckily for the venue, the entertainment schedule didn’t have to change during the spring, summer and fall months.

The renovation was completed Oct. 3, and the only major snag was not completing six of the 24 concession stands that were getting face-lifts.

Aramark runs the concessions for the venue, and Liz Noe is Aramark’s resident district manager at Capital One Arena, meaning she’s in charge of food and beverage decisions.

“We ran through one of the most successful years we’ve had on the ice ever,” Noe said, highlighting that it took tons of teamwork and patience once construction finally began.

“We broke apart the work. We had a rock-star construction crew, and you had to have that from the very beginning,” she said.

Most of the concession stands were renovated, as well as two clubs and the suites. It’s hoped that the six stands that still need work will be completed next spring, Noe said.

Perhaps the biggest change was installing a self-serve beer wall. “The beer wall was historically a 20-foot concrete wall on the 400 level that was hiding a massive walk-in cooler,” Noe said.

They wanted to make something eye-catching out of the wall, and it made sense to do something with food or beverage since a walk-in cooler was behind the concrete, she said.

“There’s 21 taps on the wall,” she said.

Noe said keeping a positive attitude was also important throughout the process. “You become successful no matter what your time line is,” she said. “You’re only successful based on the people you surround yourself with.”

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Posted: 27 Oct 2018, 3:00 pm

Eric Clapton, performing over the summer in London, played two nights at Madison Square Garden in October. (Getty Images)

Eric Clapton heads up the Hot Tickets tally in the large arena category (venues with capacities 15,001-30,000) following one of his rare concert appearances since backing away from major multiple-date touring. These days the 73-year-old rock legend hits the stage for only an occasional performance, and most recently it was New York audiences with a chance to see the three-time Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee.

Clapton played for sellout crowds at Madison Square Garden Arena on Oct. 6-7, logging more than $6.7 million in sales from 30,496 sold tickets over both days. Among his two-night stands at the Manhattan arena, that is his highest attendance ever recorded, according to Pollstar box office data, although there were three years (2001, 2006, 2008) where he played three-show engagements with a higher single-show average. Looking further back in the archives, one has to go back 31 years to find his record attendance for one night at The Garden. He established a single-show standard of 19,958 sold seats for a concert on April 27, 1987, a Clapton record that still holds today.

Joining Clapton for the New York performances were special guests Gary Clark Jr. and Jimmie Vaughan, both support acts for him last fall at Madison Square Garden and also the Forum in Inglewood, Calif. He made a festival appearance back in the summer at London’s Hyde Park, headlining the main stage at the Barclaycard British Summer Time event July 8. He headed up a slate of artists including Santana and Steve Winwood as well as his New York opener, fellow guitarist Clark.

Beacon Theatre in New York City has the highest number of shows among all the venues ranked on Top Stops this month. The theater sits at No. 1 among venues with 2,001-5,000 seats, based on 44,139 total tickets at 18 performances. The top box office results came from Tedeschi Trucks Band with 16,691 tickets moved at six concerts Oct. 5-13. The gross from all six sold-out shows hit $1.2 million.

Cher lands on Hot Tickets with a gross of $816,695 from her live appearance at the Newcastle Entertainment Centre in Broadmeadow, Australia. The Sept. 26 performance launched a seven-city run through Australian markets in September and October dubbed the Here We Go Again tour. The award-winning performer last toured Down Under 13 years ago, when she played eight markets in Australia and New Zealand during the final days of her Living Proof tour. Promoted as her farewell outing at the time, the tour stretched from June 2002 through April 2005. 

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Posted: 27 Oct 2018, 3:00 pm

A look at the opulence of the fully restored Kings Theatre in Brooklyn, N.Y. (Whitney Cox)

Brooklyn’s Kings Theatre, a classic 1929 bijou restored to its original jaw-dropping grandeur nearly four years ago, is having a banner year. This comes under the stewardship of General Manager Tyler Bates, who came aboard in February 2017 and has helped booking increase by 50 percent year-over-year.

“We are going to have anywhere from 125 to 150 shows this fiscal year which ends in April” said Bates, standing between 433 removable seats in front of the stage. “We’ve already surpassed last year, when we did 84 events.” But it’s not just quantity that’s on the rise at Kings.

Tyler_Bates_-_Kings_Theatre.jpgGeneral Manager Tyler Bates, who came aboard in February 2017. (Courtesy Kings Theatre)

Hearing Bates rattle off the venue’s recent bookings sets one’s cultural radar abuzz: From Nine Inch Nails, David Byrne, Nick Cave and Thom Yorke to “Shark Tank’s” Robert Herjavec, a taping of HBO’s “2 Dope Queens,” Pulitzer Prize-winning author Ta-Nehisi Coates and, of course, Paw Patrol. He throws in Caribbean comedian Majah Hype, a hip-hop “Nutcracker Suite” featuring old school legend Kurtis Blow, boxing matches with Evander Holyfield, a Lois Fonsi date and a screening of “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” preceded by a Q&A with John Cleese. 

Part of Bates’ ability to program and attract such a range of quality acts in this country’s most competitive live market is the theatre’s open booking policy, allowing promotional behemoths Live Nation and AEG Presents, who are battling it out across the city and far beyond, to promote shows at the Kings.

“I like being the independent guy,” Bates said.

“In New York, the biggest entertainment market in the world, it’s always the biggest show on the tour. It always needs to sell out,” Bates continued. “It’s not like the Kings is the pinnacle, it’s not the peak. They want to grow. They want to work with a promoter that’s going to develop their career and they can go to after they do the Kings show to go, ‘Hey I want to do Radio City’ or ‘I’d like to play (the Governors Ball Music Festival)’ or ‘I want to do the Garden or the Barclays Center.’ If we were to get really aggressive and just say, all right, we’re making all the offers, then I think we’re going to get some pushback from the artists side that want to have the support of a promoter and be able to go to that next level.”

Bates’ impressive bona fides include working for one of the most distinguished live entertainment execs in the industry, AEG Presents Senior Vice President Debra Rathwell, from whom he said he learned the ins and outs of theater and arena touring. “She gave me my first big break,” Bates said.

This before a move in 2011 to Brooklyn’s Barclays Center, where he was named director of booking for the then-new arena (which has a facilities management contract with AEG), where he oversaw concerts and family arts.

Kings_Theatre_Brooklyn_Matt_Lambros.jpgThe Kings Theatre lobby during restoration work. (Matt Lambros)

But unlike Barclays, which was built from scratch at the borough’s Atlantic and Flatbush avenues hub, the historical landmarked Kings Theatre is in the heart of Flatbush Brooklyn, where it underwent an extensive $95 million restoration (two-thirds came from municipal funds) spearheaded by Martinez + Johnson Architecture and contracted by the Gilbane Building Co.  After laying dormant since 1977, the King opened almost 40 years later in February 2015

The Kings initially opened with the ACE Theatrical Group, but in 2015 ACE was acquired by the Ambassador Theatre Group, an independent venue company with nine U.S. properties, including Broadway’s Lyric Theatre and Hudson Theatre and more than 40 properties worldwide. The group now has a 55-year operating lease on the Kings.

The Kings is in good company and among the New York metropolitan area’s five dazzling Loew’s “Wonder Theatres,” opened in 1929 and 1930, which included the United Palace in northern Manhattan, the Jersey Theatre in Jersey City, the Paradise in the Bronx and The Valencia in Queens.

David_Byrne_-_Kings_Theatre.jpgDavid Byrne at a performance in September. (Courtesy Kings Theatre)

What Kings has that these other wonders don’t is location. In case you were living under a rock for the past 15 years, Brooklyn is “hot,” with its own multicultural taste-making population that the Kings tries to reflect in its programming. Bates says nearly 70 percent of his audience are from the borough, which has 2.8 million residents and is roughly the same size as Chicago. The Kings’ interborough competition is fierce, though, with the Brooklyn Academy of Music, Brooklyn Steel and the Music Hall of Williamsburg among others fighting for bookings and patrons.

But the competition is prim arily local, according to Bates. “Brooklyn doesn’t like to go to Manhattan, Manhattan doesn’t like to go to Brooklyn,”  Bates said matter-of-factly when asked about competition with city venues like the Beacon Theatre and Town Hall. “The data supports it. The heat map is around the theater and then it’s in Park Slope, Crown Heights and it’s a little hotter in Williamsburg, which is a little bit further to get to, but you can connect through the subway. Then, it’s like southern Manhattan and then it thins out. With the density of the population, the average household income, the demographics here, it’s really unique to an urban community.”

It makes perfect sense, then, that two Brooklynites (grand royal ones, if you will)  were scheduled to grace the Kings’ stage Oct. 30: Ad-Rock and Mike D (aka Adam Horowitz and Mike Diamond) of the Beastie Boys, whose new “Beastie Boys Book” event will feature readings, a conversation between the two Brooklyn natives, a gallery in the lobby, a special guest moderator and a live score courtesy of their longtime DJ, Mix Master Mike.

Nick_Cave_-_King_Theatre.jpgNick Cave on stage at the Kings Theatre last year. (Courtesy Kings Theatre)

While having the two local hip-hop legends is a huge honor for the Kings, ultimately perhaps, there is no greater indicator of the Kings’ success than the return engagements, which are happening with increasing frequency. “We have bands like Beach House that come back for a second time that love the venue,” Bates said. “It’s already sold out. And we’ve got Garbage coming back for a second time, too. That’s sold out.”

And even Jessica Williams and Phoebe Robinson, aka “2 Dope Queens,” want to make another Flatbush curtain call. “We got a call from them and they were like, ‘We had the best experience, the shows were amazing, you guys treated us so well, and HBO signed on again so we want to do Kings,’” Bates noted. “It was like no question. They didn’t shop around or anything like that.”

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Posted: 27 Oct 2018, 3:00 pm

The Anthem, which opened last fall in Washington, D.C., was designed with sightlines in mind. (John Shore / The Anthem)

The opening of a new venue, more two- and three-night shows with a single artist, and renovation projects were some of highlights last year for venues in the Mid-Atlantic region.

In Washington, D.C., The Anthem is celebrating its one-year anniversary. The Foo Fighters played the opening show at the 6,000-seat, three-story venue Oct. 12, 2017, but the band’s lead singer, Dave Grohl, toured the concert spot with The Anthem’s owner and developer, Seth Hurwitz, months before it opened.

Grohl had a question for Hurwitz, said Audrey Fix Schaefer, communication director for I.M.P., the independent promotion and production company for which Hurwitz is chairman.  He wanted to know where the video screens were.

“Seth told him the sight lines are so perfect in this place that it didn’t need video screens,” Schaefer said.

When designing The Anthem, he purposefully chose not to install LED video screens — an amenity most venues have these days, said Audrey Fix Schaefer, communication director for I.M.P. In other words, Hurwitz constructed the stage so fans could see the artists no matter where they were sitting or standing at the venue.

After the Foo Fighters opened the venue, Grohl told Hurwitz that he was right about the sight lines and that he had an intimate experience with the audience, Schaefer said.

“Only (Seth) could do this… build a place from the bottom up for music. There’s so many choices he made in developing it. He has it in his gut, an understanding of what artists need and what audiences want,” Schaefer said.

Besides The Anthem, Hurwitz’s  I.M.P. manages Washington, D.C., venues the 9:30 Club and the Lincoln Theater, plus Merriweather Post Pavilion in Maryland.

Throughout the year, other big-name artists filled The Anthem, including Lorde, The Killers, Bob Dylan and Beck. The venue had 139 events in its first year, and it continues to gain momentum, Fix Schaefer said.

Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts runs an outdoor amphitheater called the Filene Center at Wolf Trap in Vienna, Va., as a nonprofit. It’s situated on national park land that’s dedicated to the performing arts. It’s also home to the National Symphony Orchestra.

Filene_Center_-_Robert_Llewellyn.jpgThe Filene Center at Wolf Trap in Vienna, Va., prides itself on its diverse lineup. (Robert Llewellyn)

The 7,000-seat Filene Center is the largest venue on the 117-acre park grounds. The Barns at Wolf Trap is another venue on site that’s much smaller and more intimate, seating only 382. The Filene Center operates from May to the beginning of September each year, and The Barns offers music and events year-round

“We had a really good season at Wolf Trap this year. We had a number of sold-out shows that were great,” said Sara Beesley, vice president of programming and production at the Filene Center. “We had a debut this year from the Avett Brothers, who was our fastest seller of the year.”

A three-night Sting show tallied the strongest ticket sales at Wolf Trap.

“He brought in the highest-grossing run of shows in our history,” Beesley said. “We can do these big headline acts, which are incredible, but we also have classical soloists, musicals … every type of artists.”

The nonprofit status of the venue allows Beesley and the Wolf Trap team to keep ticket prices affordable, she said.

“We have a mission to present something for everyone,” Beesley said, highlighting that the average ticket costs $30. “We have a really strong built-in audience. We have people who really trust what we’re booking each year.”

The Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts helps fund the venues and amenities at the park, which also has hiking trails, picnic areas and sledding in the winter.

Filene_Center_House_-_Courtesy_Wolf_Trap_National_Park_for_the_Performing_Arts.jpgThe Filene Center at Wolf Trap seats 7,000. (Courtesy Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts)

“We really are right outside of D.C. We’re really easy to get to from downtown,” Beesley said. “You are allowed to bring in food and beverage and really make a night of it.”

Roughly 25 miles to the east of Wolf Trap is the largest venue in the Mid-Atlantic region: Capital One Arena.

The 20-year-old arena had a lot of shows with artists performing two-night gigs, said Michele Powell, the venue’s senior vice president and general manager. “We had more doubles this year than usual,” she said.

The arena had two nights with Pink, U2, Ed Sheeran and Bruno Mars, Powell said.

Arena officials worked around construction while the arena received a $40 million face-lift. Capital One is home to the NBA’s Washington Wizards and the NHL’s Washington Capitals.

The Capitals won the Stanley Cup last season for the first time in their history, pushing
construction work later into June. Renovations included upgrading all the concourses and the scoreboards, replacing seats, upgrading concessions, and upgrading the sound system and the arena’s overall technology.

“The LED boards give us so much more flexibility, versus having the same look every night,” Powell said.

Capital One Arena is operated by Monumental Sports & Entertainment, which also runs the 10,200-seat EagleBank Arena in Fairfax, Va.

EagleBank Arena sits on the campus of George Mason University and hosted a number of big shows last year, including Disney On Ice, Marc Anthony and Tool.

In D.C., I.M.P.’s 9:30 Club, which opened in 1980, is an “intimate place and no matter the you stand … it’s the perfect sound,” Schaefer said.

Someone once said that artists need to get their passports punched at the 9:30 Club, she joked. “We provide them with a laundry room, we feed them, we want them happy and we want them to come back,” Schaefer said. “We treat them like family, because that’s what they are.”

The Yonder Mountain String Band and Gary Newman were a couple of the acts that played at the 9:30 Club last year.

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Posted: 27 Oct 2018, 2:20 pm

A monster truck gets vertical on the Traxxas Monster Truck Tour. (Courtesy Traxxas Monster Truck Tour)

ESPN X Games
545 Middle St.
Bristol, CT 06010
(860) 766-2000
Founded: 1995                                            
Number of shows: Two domestic flagship events each year
Number of employees: 50
Annual attendance: Every event varies slightly because of the number of sports and disciplines featured, but on average roughly 100,000 spectators over the course of the event
Units touring: 2
Ticket prices: Each event varies slightly because of the number of sports and disciplines featured; all sports and disciplines at X Games Aspen are free and open to the public.
Key personnel: Scott Guglielmino, SVP, programming and X Games; Tim Reed, VP, X Games
Notes: The X Games produced four major events globally, in Aspen, Norway, Minneapolis and Sydney.

Bonnier Corp.
838 N. Delaware St.
Indianapolis, IN 46204

(407) 334-9971
Founded: 2004
Number of shows: 7
Number of employees: 11
Annual attendance: 50,000
Units touring: 1
Ticket price: $16-$36
Key personnel: Lance Bryson, director of special events; Andrea Ofiesh, manager of special events
Notes: EnduroCross’ tour schedule this year includes stops in Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Nevada and Washington.

Family Events
(317) 236-6515
Founded: 1976
Units touring: 1
Notes: The Family Events division of Bonnier Corp. is a full-service promotion and marketing firm specializing in producing family entertainment and motorsports events. The division has served more than 50 markets nationally, with 15 scheduled events a year. Family Event’s dirt shows include the Lucas Oil 4-Wheel Jamboree Nationals Series and the Sand Sports Super Show.

Feld Entertainment
800 Feld Way
Palmetto, FL 34221
(703) 448-4000
Founded: 1967
Number of shows: 5,000+
Number of employees: 3,000
Annual attendance: Millions of families
Motor Sports Units Touring: Nine Monster Jam tours and two Motocross tours = Monster Jam, Monster Energy Supercross, Supercross Futures, Monster Energy Cup
Ticket price: Monster Jam $20-$100+; Monster Jam World Finals $80-$150+; Supercross $20-$100+; Monster Energy Cup $30-$100+
Key personnel: Kenneth Feld, CEO; Juliette Feld, COO; Nicole Feld, EVP; Alana Feld, EVP; Jeff Meyer, SVP of event marketing and sales; Mark Duryea, VP of booking

Howell Rodeo Co.
(541) 914-3988
Founded: More than 40 years in business
Number of shows: Howell Rodeo Co. produces three rodeo events: one in the fall, one in winter, and one in spring. It also partners in three other annual events and spends the summer touring the Northwest as part of an amateur rodeo association. Its animals sometimes make appearances on TV for the PBR.
Number of employees: 0 (subcontractors and volunteer only)
Attendance: 1,000-3,500, depending on the venue.
Annual ticket sales: NA
Ticket price: $12 in advance, $15 at the door
Key personnel: Dustin Howell, promotions/manager; Chelsea Howell, promotions

MX Sports
MX Sports
Pro Racing
122 Vista Del Rio Drive
Morgantown, WV 26508
(304) 284-0101
Founded: 1973
Number of shows: 100 plus
Number of employees: 50 plus
Annual attendance: More than 750,000
Units touring: Six: Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship sanctioned by AMA Pro Racing; AMSOIL Grand National Cross Country Series, an AMA National Championship; Rocky Mountain ATV/MC AMA Amateur National Motocross Championship presented by Lucas Oil; ATV Motocross National Championship presented by CST Tires, an AMA National Championship; Women’s Motocross Championship; and Ricky Carmichael Daytona Amateur Supercross.
Ticket price: $20-$400.
Key personnel: Rita Coombs, founder; Carrie Russell, CEO; Davey Coombs, president; Tim Cotter, VP; Roy Janson, director of competition; Nick Koester, marketing director; Derek Garcia, marketing coordinator
Notes: The GNCC Racing Series is expanding the Micro 50cc-65cc youth classes (ages 4-9 years old) to race at all 13 rounds. GNCC is introducing an eMTB National Championship for the new pedal-assist mountain bike market.

Nitro Circus
1000 Calle Amanecer
San Clemente, CA 92673
(949) 429-8300
Founded: 2003 (Nitro Circus DVD series debuts), 2010 (Nitro Circus live tour launches)
Number of shows: For 2018, 25 North American shows, with 50 performances worldwide.
Number of employees: More than 70
Key personnel: Travis Pastrana, founder; Andy Edwards, co-founder, president; Brett Clarke, chief commercial officer; Kurt Nicoll, VP of global touring; Dave Mateus, global director of special events; Jolene Pellant, SVP, global head of marketing; Trip Taylor, SVP of media; Mike Cowan, chief digital officer; Cassie Dombrowski, VP of global licensing and consumer products; Greg Terlizzi, VP, global head of publicity.
Ticket price: Varies by territory.
Notes: Nitro Circus, which includes a range of action sports, has arena tour stops in 2018 visiting 12 states and Australia, England, Scotland, Sweden, France and Canada. The organization staged “Evel Live” this year, a tribute to Evel Knievel. Shown live in the U.S. on History, the event had 3.5 million people tune in and an estimated 25,000 attended at Caesars Palace and outside Bally’s Las Vegas. This year, the Nitro World Games grew into five separate events, leading to the formation of Nitro Rallycross, a new division growing the brand into motorsports. Nitro Circus also announced a partnership with BASE Entertainment and Caesars Entertainment to launch a permanent Las Vegas show next year.

Traxxas Monster Truck Tour
P.O. Box 503070
Central Point, OR 97503
(480) 773-6822
Founded: 2007
Number of shows: 150
Number of employees: 35
Annual attendance: 1.8 million
Units touring: 5
Annual ticket sales: $18 million
Ticket price: $5-$12 for children; average adult, $20-$23
Key personnel: Danny Torgerson, CEO; Tony Maderazzo, COO; Dean Torgerson, VP of marketing
Notes: Traxxas expanded its touring region to China in 2018.

Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association
101 Pro Rodeo Drive
Colorado Springs, CO 80919
(719) 593-8840
Founded: 1936
Number of employees: 100 (varies seasonally)
Units touring: PRCA sanctions hundreds of local events throughout the United States and Canada
Notes: The PRCA is the largest and oldest rodeo-sanctioning body in the world. The organization sanctions or co-sanctions about 600 multiple event rodeos in North America. The PRCA’s membership includes nearly 5,000 cowboys.

Professional Bull Riders Inc.
101 West Riverwalk
Pueblo, CO 81003
(719) 242-2800
Founded: 1992
Number of shows: 27 events in the 25th PBR: Unleash the Beast in 2018, 33 Real Time Pain Relief Velocity Tour Events, 51 Touring Pro Division events and 79 international events
Number of employees: 135
Annual attendance: 3 million plus
Units touring: 3: 25th PBR: Unleash the Beast, which is the top-tier, televised event; the Real Time Pain Relief Velocity Tour, and the Touring Pro Division
Ticket price: 25th PBR: Unleash the Beast, $10-$251 in cities including Chicago, Anaheim, Dallas, Kansas City, Nashville, and Sacramento. New York season launch Major up to $551, and Las Vegas for PBR World Finals up to $251. Elite Seats priced up to $1,000.
Key personnel: Sean Gleason, CEO; Rodd Granger, COO; Ellen Newberg, SVP, live event marketing
Notes: PBR grew 11 percent in attendance from 2015 to 2017 and its fan base increased 15 percent from 2011 to 2017, according to Luker on Trends/ESPN Sports Poll. In 2018, the sport’s top two tours set more than 20 local attendance records, including when the Iron Cowboy at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, drew more than 46,000 fans, making it the largest single-day event in PBR’s 25 years.

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Posted: 27 Oct 2018, 2:15 pm

After a bidding process — much the way that cities bid to host the Super Bowls — Monster Jam World Finals are moving from Las Vegas to Orlando, Fla.

“The Monster Jam World Championships grew to be a destination event,” said Jayme Dalsing. “We saw it grow over its 19-year history in Vegas. We thought we’d try something new for its 20th anniversary. Once you bring more people from outside that city, it becomes a biddable property. Cities, counties and states are really looking for that business.”

Four cities competed for the event. Orlando won and grabbed a two-year deal for the event, which will take place at Camping World Stadium.

“We have a history with Feld, and their motor sports and their indoor products, said Allen Johnson, CEO of Orlando Venues, the city department that oversees the stadium . “The January regular Monster Jam show has been very successful for us.”

Johnson said that when he heard the finals “were up for bid, and moving out of Vegas, it grabbed our attention.”

Johnson thinks that May is the perfect time to have the Monster Jam roll into Orlando.
“May is one of the slower months in Orlando, and this will give us a nice shot in the arm,” he said.

The Orlando tourist board has “committed $850,000” to bring Monster Jam to town, he said. “This is our mission, to bring more bodies to town.”

Orlando is turning the event into a multiday experience. There will be preshow events in town on Thursday followed by the event at Camping World Stadium on Friday and Saturday.

Johnson expects over 75,000 fans to show up and the revenue “to be in the millions of dollars.” The economic impact to Orlando is expected to be $40 million and over 40,000 room nights.

“There’s mutual respect between the city and Feld,” Johnson said. “I’ve known Kenneth Feld and the Feld organization for over 30 years. They are a professional group and they get it. They are a dream partner.”

Johnson said this will help put Orlando keep into people’s minds as a vacation destination. “The show is seen on digital platforms in over 70 countries, and we’re excited to be the first town to get it,” he said.

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Posted: 27 Oct 2018, 2:10 pm

The monster truck Zombie lets its freak flag fly during  a Monster Jam competition. (Courtesy Feld Motor Sports)

Steve Yaros cringes when someone calls Feld Motor Sports’ two divisions “dirt shows.”

“These properties are sports properties,” said Yaros, senior vice president of global public relations for Feld Entertainment.  “Athletes compete. There’s no scripted outcome. The perception that Monster Jam and Supercross are just dirt shows is wrong. Sure, they happen on dirt, but they are real sports with winners and losers.”

Feld Entertainment bought into the motorsports world when it purchased the properties 10 years ago from Live Nation.

Since the purchase, attendance is up, TV ratings are up, product sales are up. It’s not a fluke; the Feld team has spent 10 years changing the perception that Monster Jam and Supercross are staged events on a par with the likes of WWE.

Today’s Feld Motor Sports events are real competitions, with athletes who train and bring more than the ability to act for the audience to the table.

“Kenneth Feld, CEO of Feld Entertainment, bought the divisions because he saw the potential growth and he had a vision that the properties were more than just spectacles,” Yaros said.

“Live Nation looked at these events as one-off events and didn’t see the big picture: that these could be tours and seasons. Instead, Kenneth saw them as franchises and brought in innovation, technology and storytelling. It was a major cultural shift in how the fans looked at the sports.”

“We’ve really been pushing the message that Monster Jam is a sport that entertains,” he said. “When you look at WWE, it’s a scripted event. We focus on the fact that our drivers are true athletes and are truly competing to win.” The result has been increased sales, increased attendance and increase awareness.

PR has played a significant role in changing the fan perception about Monster Jam and Supercross, Yaros said.

“There’s a point system that leads to the world finals in both sports,” he said. “We focus on our athletes and the training that they do. We talk about the research and development that goes into building these huge machines.”

“It used to just be monster trucks crushing things. We don’t crush anything anymore. It’s about the truck and its ability to race and perform stunts,” he said. “Now there’s people competing; it’s serious and nothing like the old days,” he said. “For Supercross we’ve been trying to elevate the sport beyond its endemic fanbase and bring it into the mainstream and the popular culture.”

“It’s a total mind-shift on how these sports are marketed” he said. “Supercross is a league sport, and you can think of it like you think of NASCAR.”

Yaros focused on getting the word out by placing articles on auto technology in auto bibles Car & Driver and Road & Track. He attracted popular cultural programming like the “Today” show and “Nightline,” ABC’s late-night news program.

The real message is that Feld’s motorsports brands live and breathe in their fans’ lives well beyond the shows, he said.

“All the markets have PR teams to get the word out that we’re coming,” he said. “There are promoters in every city. We go to local publications, the drivers do radio and TV interviews, and there’s a dedicated day for the media to come see the track and trucks.”

The No. 1-selling ride-on 24-volt truck at Walmart last year was Monster Jam’s Grave Digger. The two-seater retails for $398.

24V_Grave_Digger_Ride_On_-_Feld_Motor_Sports.pngFeld Motor Sports has placed increasing importance on licensing; this truck is a leading seller at Walmart. (Courtesy Feld Motor Sports)

“The whole goal with licensing is to make the properties a 365-day-a-year, 24/7 live performance, whether it’s in somebody’s basement, bedroom, backyard or on the playground,” said Jeff Bialosky, vice president of licensing and business development, who has been with Feld for about two years and in the toy and gift industry for the last 30 years.

“Feld is the leader in live family entertainment, but when we are not in a city doing a live event, it’s our job to have our brand live on.”

There are three ways Feld achieves that. The first go-to is “online and brick-and-mortar distribution with third-party partners,” Bialosky said.

Feld licenses to close to 50 licensees, with more than 1,000 products being manufactured. Spin Master is the top manufacturer of Feld’s third-party licensees.

Direct-to-retail is the second way. “We do this where it makes sense,” Bialosky said.” The Walmart products are a prime example of how we utilize the direct-to-retail strategy.”

The third category is products that are sold at the Feld events. “Eight percent of those products are designed and manufactured by Feld,” he said. “These are exclusive items not available anywhere else except our Monster Jam online superstore.” Prices range anywhere from $3.99 to $400.

The biggest selling products are the 164 diecast vehicle replicas. The replicas are already put together, and there are different scale sizes. The most popular are Grave Digger, Zombie, El Toro Loco, Megalodon, Max-D and Earthshaker. They range from $3.99 to $12.99. “They are collectables and impulse gifts,” he said.

There’s also apparel, a shoe line that includes a children’s line, socks, hats and T-shirts.

It takes “several trucks” to get all the merchandise to a venue. Some are self-contained selling trailers. Feld sets up “numerous merchandising booths both inside and outside the venue.”

The products are a “very significant” part of the Motor Sports revenue, but Feld, a private company, would not reveal numbers or percentages.

Feld also struck up a partnership with McDonald’s this year. “We’re in 14 million Happy Meals internationally,” Bialosky said. “Currently McDonald’s is running a “Trick. Treat. Win!” promotion with over a billion prizes in the program. You can win a trip to the world finals, take part in designing the next diecast vehicle, and, of course, Monster Jam products.”

There is merchandise in Supercross, but because Feld does not own the intellectual property to the bikes, it does not pack the punch that the Monster Jam merchandise does. “We do have various licenses from the riders and race teams, and of course there are shirts and hats and other goods,” Bialosky said.

International is providing major growth. When purchased from Live Nation, the divisions had two international shows. This year there were 26 shows in 56 cities in 30 countries.

“It was one of Kenneth’s huge goals to grow international. He really wanted to go to the Bird’s Nest (stadium) in China. We were there last year,” said Jayme Dalsing, senior director of global Monster Jam operations.

Supercross_rider_-_Feld_Motor_Sports.jpgMalcolm Stewart  is captured midflight during an outdoor Supercross run. (Courtesy Feld Motor Sports)

Each Supercross is televised as a live event. Feld produces 16 of the 17 races. The exception is the Daytona Supercross event, which is still owned by NASCAR’s France family.

The shows now air on Fox Sports, but Feld has a new television partner, who they were not ready to reveal at press time.

“It’s a strictly financial thing,” said Todd Jendro, vice president of motor sports. “Fox has been a great partner. But we want to find the best partner we can. The TV exposure is vital to our 365-vision. The core fans know we’re here. It’s the casual fans, the channel flippers, that we hope to catch on TV.”

“The 2018 TV season has been great,” Dalsing said. “The TV ratings are going through the roof — 12 to 14 percent higher. At a time when other motorsports TV numbers have been down, ours are going up, which is fantastic.”

“The content within it, the different angles, the spider cams, the graphics, the telemetry of the trucks and drivers and showing the heart rate — it’s all made it more accessible and more exciting,” Dalsing said.

Evolution of truck design has allowed drivers to perform in ways they could not 10 years ago. “The trucks don’t break, and the safety procedures and technology are on par, if not greater, than NASCAR,” Jendro said.

It used to be trucks on springs and big tires. But better tire suspension, better safety management and investment in technology have changed all that, he said.

Jendro runs both divisions, which takes a lot of planning and patience. “They are definitely two different animals,” he said. “One model is OEM manufactures, sponsored teams and independent racers, with an emphasis on competition for a championship.”

Over the course of Feld owning the divisions, Feld has created new competitions. The latest is the Monster Energy Cup, a single event held in Las Vegas at Sam Boyd Stadium that is a collaboration between Feld and Monster Energy. The prize is $1 million.

Only two riders have previously claimed the million-dollar prize. In order to win the $1 million, one rider must win all three Main Event races.

The 2018 edition was the eighth running of the Monster Energy Cup event. Rider Eli Tomac joined a rarified group of only two other riders to have won the $1M at the Monster Energy Cup. Tomac walked out a millionaire from the Monster Energy Cup at Sam Boyd Stadium this year and so did one lucky fan, Jesse Hebert.

“Fans entered at their local retailers and 10 of them got to fly in and collect as much money in the money booth as they could,” Jendro said. They were also paired up with a rider, and the 20-something fan who was paired with Tomac also left a millionaire that night.

“The creation of events like this has really helped us push the meter,” he said.

Monster Jam athletes are employees; the Supercross athletes are independent racers, some funded by the owner-manufacturers of motorcycles such as Yamaha, Suzuki, Honda and others.

All of the Monster Jam trucks are 99 percent the same in design and manufacture. There are slight nuances designed for safety. “Men and women are competing in the same exact trucks on the same exact courses,” Jendro said.

Winners are determined by time in the strictly-fastest-wins categories; the freestyle events are judged by the fans, who can evaluate the competition via the ‘The Judges Zone’ app.

“The fans literally determine the winners by voting on the app,” Yaros said. “The athletes sent to the Monster Jam World Finals are based on the points earned.”

There is no prize money in Monster Jam; in Supercross there is a purse.

Jeff Meyer, senior vice president of event marketing and sales, said Monster Jam sold more than 4 million tickets in 2017 and Supercross sold more than 1 million.

“There’s been pretty significant growth since Feld acquired the business. It’s been driven by same-store sales,” he said.

Supercross is limited because there are only so many events the company can have a year.
For Monster Jam, the sky is the limit because there is no set number of qualifying races a year like Supercross, he said. “We’re always looking for ways to drive new people, more people, and putting on new events.”

Meyer said that Feld bought into the franchise Live Nation put on 20-plus stadium shows in 2008-09; in 2018 Feld will have put on 37 stadium shows in the U.S. and Canada alone.

An average ticket price for Monster Jam is $30; Supercross is $40. “We want to keep it at an affordable price, so everyone can feel good about coming,” Meyer said.

Premium tickets, club options and VIP packages are also available.

The rest of Feld’s revenue comes from concession operations, add-ons and all that merchandise.

“Invest in the property,” Meyer said. “The Feld family believes that investing in the assets is the way to grow it.”

“We’ve enhanced everything and added value,” he said. “From the lighting to the sound to the pyrotechnics to upgrades to the trucks. All of that together makes for a pretty good success story from a marketing perspective.”

A huge attraction for the fans is the Pit Parties, which are add-ons before competitions that feature activities, food, interactive elements, music, driver meet-and-greets and autograph sessions.

“They existed before Feld bought the properties, but Feld has taken them to a whole new level,” he said. “We’ve made it a highlight for the fans.”

“The fans can meet new drivers and look at the trucks up close,” Meyer said. “It’s a fan favorite, for sure.”

The Pit Parties normally run from 1 to 5 p.m. Typically they cost $10-$20.

Monster_Jam_Pit_Party_-_Feld_Motor_Sports.jpgCrowds enjoy an up-close look at the Monster Jam trucks, their drivers and the course. (Courtesy Feld Motor Sports)

Supercross’ version of the Pit Party is called Fan Fest. It normally runs from noon to 6 p.m. and is equally important to both the fans and Feld’s bottom line. Feld reported that the Pit Party/Fan Fest attendance ranges from 20 percent to 30 percent per show, and that number varies by market based on venue capacity restraints for the Pit Party/Fan Fest area. 

“What has also significantly changed is the emphasis on the Pit Parties and Fan Fest and making the fan experience No. 1,” he said.

Supercross has virtual reality as part of the Fan Fest content, mostly for the kids at Monster Jam who are too young to get on a vehicle.

The way a competitor gets into the Supercross shows is to first race in an Arenacross race. “Once you win an Arenacross sponsored by the American Motorcycle Association you receive your Supercross license,” said Dave Prater, senior director of two-wheel operations.

Arenacross is being transitioned as Supercross Futures, he said.

There’s the Western 250 class and the Eastern 450 class. There are 17 rounds. The athletes work in teams; teams have anywhere from one to four team members.

The finals in Las Vegas, held at Sam Boyd Stadium, is a combination of both.

Supercross is a 45-year tradition and will continue to put competitors on a stage that Feld provides, he said. “But we are trying to be more integrated and work together with the riders, race teams and motorcycle makers, and create more sponsorships and partnership opportunities.”

It takes about a week to set up for a Monster Jam show.

It takes 14 trailers to get a Monster Jam into a stadium; it takes eight trailers for an arena show.

The Monster Jam tires are manufactured by Goodyear and Firestone. Tires must be 66 inches high and 43 inches wide. Tires are customized and hand cut to accommodate track conditions and reduce weight. Cutting one tire takes about 50 hours. Average cost: $2,600 each.

“We own and operate 56 of our own trucks,” Dalsing said. “Internationally there are 22 containers. Two Monster Trucks fit into a container.”

The dirt is important to a Feld Motor Sports event.

“We try to source the dirt ahead if time,” Prater said.

In some places, Feld stores the dirt. Angel Stadium in Anaheim, Calif., is a good example. “The dirt becomes a parking lot when we are not there,” said Prater. Thirty percent to 40 percent of the venues store Feld’s dirt. If no such arrangement exists, the dirt has to be sourced and trucked in.

“We have a dirt we like, but it varies regionally,” Dalsing said. “The best dirt is a combination of clay and sand, and that’s not easy to find in some parts of the country. “It can’t be too much clay or the trucks will roll over.”

Dan Allen, the track construction head, oversees the track construction team and he is ultimately is responsible for the dirt.

Monster Jam University was another brainchild of the Felds. It’s in Paxton, Ill., on 20 acres, and it’s where Feld sends prospective athletes to learn and train.

“The drivers get to experience a real track and they can hone their skills there,” Jendro said. “They can work on signature moves in a safe and controlled environment.”

The students also get media training. “We look for people with both personality and skill,” he said. “Once at the university, we can really tell if that student ‘has it’ or not.”

“The great part about the university is that it’s gone a long way in changing the perception of Monster Jam,” he said, from that of a sport more for rural audiences.

Ten years ago, the average driver was a white male in his mid-30s. Now the drivers are much more diverse — there are 16 female drivers along with two African American Monster Jam drivers, Bari Musawwir and Bernard Lyght, and two Hispanic Monster Jam drivers, Mark List and Armando Castro.

Monster_Jam_demos_1_-_Feld_Motor_Sports.jpgMonster Jam demographics lean more toward families with young children, Feld says. (Courtesy Feld Motor Sports)

The fan demographics have also taken a dramatic shift. Today for Monster Jam, families with kids attend the most shows. For Supercross, it’s males 18-31.

“The targeted pie that Monster Jam was 10 years ago has broadened up, there’s no doubt Monster_Jam_demos_2_-_Feld_Motor_Sports.jpgabout it,” Jendro said. “A newer demographic has stepped in to take the place of the previous demographic.”

“We’re trending upper class,” Dalsing said. “Over the course of time we’ve really changed the demographics of who is attending Monster Jam shows. Today, our demos show that the average income of a person attending one of our shows is $96,000 and a suburban family.”

“It’s moms bringing their kids; we’re connecting with kids. Transitioning to younger drivers — male and female, that are relatable — has helped a great deal. The stigma that it’s backwoods and scripted is slowly dissipating,” he said.

Feld like control, so much so that they run their own concessions at their events.

“We want as much control on the fan experience as possible,” Dalsing said. “When we have the opportunity to deal with any aspect of the experience, we take it.”

Feld has a division — Feld Consumer Products — that brings in items they want at their events like cotton candy, snow-cones and pretzels.

The venues do not shut down their normal concessions; the Feld products are in addition. Alcohol is controlled by the facilities. “Most of the arenas and stadiums sell alcohol,” he said.

Monster Jam has 550 employees; Supercross has 100. Corporate headquarters moved,  from Northern Virginia to Palmetto, Fla., last year. There are 600 employees in Palmetto alone.

“The way we operate is very different than other event companies,” he said. “We do everything in-house. We promote and book with no outside services. We tend to be fully vertically integrated. Everyone who promotes the shows, even if they work from a satellite office, is a Feld employee. Our employees live and work and breathe in the markets around the country. All the Feld entertainment properties run this way.”

“The major thing that has changed in the 10 years Feld has owned Supercross is that  before Feld controlled it, the sport was focused on individual events instead of treating it like a franchise. It was 100 percent focused on the ticket sales,” Prater said. “Now, Feld treats it as brand marketing on a national and international platform.”

The Felds have a willingness to grow the brand by spending money, he said. “We were just a wintertime business to Live Nation,” he said. “The Felds took a whole different view.”

Prater said that Feld has invested “a substantial amount of money — tens of millions of dollars” — and he thinks the record numbers and the TV ratings prove that it’s paying off.

“Attendance has increased dramatically, our television audience has swelled, and merchandise sales keep going up,” Prater said.

One of the ways Feld is reinvesting is by trying to stop the trend of motorcycle riders being over 40 and no longer buying products.

“We developed the RIDE program, which is a strategic move to introduce new riders to the sport,” he said.

Since Feld acquired the divisions, efficiencies have grown, he said. “We share many of the same stadiums. Whenever we can, we try to do Supercross and Monster Jam on back-to-back weekends. This allows us to keep the tracks (and) the dirt, and save on labor.”

“We’re at Angel Stadium for 2 1/2 months,” he said as an example of how synergy works between the two Feld divisions.

“The vision of where we could take the brands was paramount to the Feld family,” said
Jendro. “The presentation of the live events has changed noticeably. The Felds know how to put on a show, engage the fans and keep their properties in the minds of the fans 365. It’s not like the old days, when we’d roll into town and then not be heard from, or spoken about, until we rolled in the next year.

“The Felds are engaged operators, they are always accessible, and they provide a lot of direction.”

“Monster Jam is at the strongest point it’s ever been and that’s due to the Feld family’s belief in growing the sport as much as humanly possible,” Dalsing said. “It’s about making the trucks better, the show better, and the huge growth is because of what the Felds put back into this company.”

Feld controls it all. “We do all the production on the live events, the TV shows, the TV spots, the billboards, everything we can control, we do,” Dalsing said. “We want to be the ones who take charge. We’re a one-stop shop.”

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Posted: 27 Oct 2018, 2:00 pm

New for concourse dining at Citizens Business Bank Arena this year: Urban City Taqueria  (Courtesy Citizens Business Bank Arena)

When SMG Worldwide took over Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario, Calif., two years ago, its three main goals were to improve the content, food and beverage, and guest experience.

The city invested $4 million to achieve the objectives.

The payoff will be clear to visitors this fall to the arena, where all five primary concessions areas have been renovated and rebranded with new stands and menu items and the addition of digital menu boards.

Good_Guys_Sandwich_-_Citizens_Business_Bank_Arena.jpgGood Guy’s Sandwich Co. (Courtesy Citizens Business Bank Arena)

Dawg Gone has taken over the Big Diggity Dog space; El Sabor is now Urban City Taqueria with carne asada, nachos and street tacos; Burger is now Fuel, featuring burgers, hot dogs and salads; 4th Street BBQ has been replaced by Good Guy’s Sandwich Co., which offers a variety of sandwiches, including corned beef, turkey, meatball and reubens; and Ciao Now has been transformed into The Pizza Joint, which features big pizza slices.

A new 10,000-square-foot secured outdoor patio has extended the main concourse and accommodates more than 1,000 people.

A $1 million energy efficient ice floor also was installed to do away with the ozone-damaging Freon version that will be outlawed in 2020. The new ice floor uses reclaimed purified water, a rarity in the industry and one of the first systems of its kind installed in the U.S.

“In addition, we renovated the dressing rooms, building out secondary dressing areas with all the comforts of home in the back of house,” said Sue Oxarart, the arena’s director of marketing and communications. “The new area is a much bigger space, with updated bathrooms, refrigerators, a small dining table, countertops and LED mirrors with dressing tables.”

Finally, a new pickup and dropoff area for ride-hailing services was added on the arena’s north side.

Other improvements remain on the horizon for Citizens Business Bank Arena.

“A couple efforts involve whether to move forward with a seating expansion, but we’re still evaluating this to see if it will drive additional concerts,” said Michael Krouse, CEO and president of the arena. “We’ve had interest from promoters who’d like the building enlarged, and we’re for that and have the same goal, but we need to do it for the right reasons We’ll decide this by the end of this year.”

Upgrades to the 36 suites and the addition of an escalator to the third level also have been discussed.

“This area is growing so rapidly, we have to keep up with it and try to stay ahead of it,” Krouse said. 

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Posted: 27 Oct 2018, 2:00 pm

Monster Jam and Supercross move into Angel Stadium in Anaheim, Calif., on Dec. 26 and won’t depart until the middle of February.

“Feld Motor Sports have had a home at Angel Stadium for the past 19 years,” said Sam Maida, director of ballpark operations. “It really takes up our winter months when the baseball season is on hiatus.”

The great thing about the arrangement is that once the racetrack is built and the dirt is laid, nothing has to reshaped for 2 ½ months, he said.

The actual dirt stays at the stadium year-round. “The dirt pile becomes a parking lot for almost 10 months a year,” said Maida. “When Feld comes they haul the dirt onto the field and haul it back when they leave.” The process takes about a week.

There will be two Supercross events and six Monster Jams. Maida expects over 40,000 fans to fill the stadium for each event, or 320,000 over the 2 ½ months.

The events bring a whole new demographic to Angels Stadium. “It’s a lot of 16- to 40-year-old guys,” Maida said. “We try to expose them while they are here to the rest of the programming throughout the year and entice them to come back for a game. We have a new sound system and new videoboards; it’s a good way to show them off.”

Legends runs the concessions. “We have our normal concession stands open, and Feld brings in their concessions,” he said.

Maida said the overall revenue picture stemming from the Feld Motor Sports events was “sizable” but would not reveal the numbers.

“The Monster Jam and Supercross shows are the ultimate fan experience,” he said. “It’s a whole day of fun and activities.”

The contract between Feld and Angel Stadium runs through 2021. “But expect that to be upped any day now,” Maida said. “We’re currently negotiating a new contract with many more years.”

“Feld is perfect partner and we enjoy our relationship with them,” he added. “We all look forward to the time of year when Feld comes to town.”

MORE: Feld Motor Sports celebrates 10 years of growth.

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Posted: 27 Oct 2018, 2:00 pm

Along with the renovations, Tacoma Dome is also getting a new concessionaire.
Aramark won the contract after the request for proposals went out, taking over from Centerplate.

Aramark took over in September and has been servicing events in the Exhibition Hall next to the dome, said Melinda Altamirano, district manager for Aramark Sports & Entertainment.

“We’re taking a holistic approach and looked at ‘What is the food and beverage story in Tacoma?’” she said. “We realized what was missing was local flavor. So, we are transforming everything from the menu to the stands to bring it in.”

“We’re leaving the fan favorites — pizza, chicken fingers, hamburgers and pretzels — and are introducing new things that haven’t been seen there,” Altamirano said.

Among new items are fresh wraps and assorted noodle and rice bowls, she said.

“Getting everything locally sourced was important to us,” she said.

New stands will include a smoked BBQ concept featuring brisket sandwiches at Smoked; Taco-ma’s (street tacos); Tacoma Dough (pizza); and Dock Street (fish and chips presented by Alaskan Brewing).

The concessionaire is also modernizing all the stands.

“We have touched every single concession stand,” Altamirano said. “Every stand got a face-lift.” Most incorporated reclaimed wood from Tacoma; the insides were done as well.

Also new will be all-digital menu boards and point-of-sale systems from Appetize.
Altamirano said Aramark brought the funds to do all the concession work and additions.

The process of changing the stands started in September and will be done by the Nov. 1 grand reopening. Joe Gohndrone will be the GM for Aramark.

“What we are doing is bringing in a fan experience that integrates new technology and old-fashioned great food and great service,” Altamirano said.

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Posted: 27 Oct 2018, 2:00 pm

A $193 million renovation has made Atlanta’s State Farm Arena a venue for a new generation. Looking to the right, the portion of the bowl formerly dominated by a suite wall has been completely redone. (Courtesy Atlanta Hawks)

ATLANTA — Atlanta Hawks CEO Steve Koonin finds himself searching for the right words to describe the $193 million overhaul of State Farm Arena, which is fine, considering the overwhelmingly positive feedback he has received from season-ticket holders and other stakeholders.

“If anything, we failed in trying to invent a term that’s different than ‘radical transformation,’ because every time we brought people into the building, they said, ‘Wow, have you undersold this,’” said Koonin, the former Turner broadcast and Coca-Cola executive and a lifelong Atlanta resident. “From roofline to baseline, all the phrases we coined, none of them describe how radical and different the building is than what it was.”

At one time, “radical” best described the facility, known as Philips Arena until State Farm Insurance took over naming rights in August. The arena opened in 1999 with about 100 suites, all stacked across four levels on the west side. (At the time, the NHL’s Atlanta Thrashers were a tenant alongside the NBA’s Hawks. The Thrashers  moved to Winnipeg, Manitoba, in 2011).

Almost 20 years later, no other big-league arena has copied the design model and for good reason. Over time in Atlanta, suites at the highest levels and the corners went unsold because of their views. In addition, critics said the concept sent a bad message by further separating the high-end corporate crowd from those sitting on the east side without the perks that premium-seat patrons enjoyed. The result was worse for concerts, where the sound would bounce off the suite wall, resulting in poor acoustics for touring shows.

“It wasn’t relevant,” Koonin said. “That was one of the biggest data points for us is if this was a [modern] design, why hasn’t anybody opened an arena with all the premium stacked on one side? The truth was because it doesn’t work. The NBA talks about the center six sections in the lower bowl as your premium. That’s where the value is. The suite wall spread premium across just one side. You could be sitting behind the basket and it was called premium, but it wasn’t a premium seat and therefore you weren’t selling them.”

To eliminate the suite wall, a critical piece of the two-year renovation, officials removed five structural columns on the west side and hung a massive support truss stretching 150 feet along the sideline. Structural adjustments on the east side included removing three center sections of regular seats and creating a mezzanine level with bars looking out over the main concourse for the younger crowd. All told, the reconstruction efforts freed up roughly 100,000 square feet of space for new premium options, plus general seating and a true upper deck concourse, all within a 680,000-square-foot arena.

“When we first started looking at the building, it immediately became a process of deletion and simplification,” said Ryan Gedney, vice president and senior project designer for HOK, the architect of record for State Farm Arena. “It was about trying to create a new canvas and delicately and intentionally insert new experiences … strip away to the bones and build back in a way that’s smart and suited to today’s trends.”

To improve acoustics, a thick wood ceiling now covers the west side over where the suite wall once stood and wood walls frame both ends. To further accommodate concert tours in a strong market for live entertainment, the arena’s rigging structure was upgraded to handle 200,000 pounds, with new star dressing rooms and improvements to the artist catering operation. The Hawks consulted with Bon Jovi’s sound engineers as part of resolving the acoustics issue.

“We’re a basketball-first building, but we’re a very close second on concerts,” said Thad Sheely, the Hawks’ chief operating officer. “The wood ceiling visually reminds you of more of a concert hall than an arena. The rigging is getting more sophisticated and heavier, and we want to make sure every show wants to play this building. They have in the past, and we know they will again after being closed two summers for construction.”

Apart from the suite wall, the old layout for the arena, which is attached to CNN Center — home to the cable network as well as a food court — had walls blocking 360-degree access around the main concourse. That’s no longer the case after the renovation. Fans can now walk the concourses with no obstacles in their path, which improves flow and encourages them to explore multiple destinations.

“Everyone has their pinhole through which they view the project,” Sheely said. “The old Philips Arena was very much a time capsule after it was initially designed. This project is a reinvention. Other than getting a new name on the building, which was huge for us, we didn’t change the exterior or the footprint.” 

Because the exterior stayed the same, the arena renovation remained the best-kept secret in a city whose attention has been focused on new stadiums for the Braves and Falcons, said Brett Stefansson, State Farm Arena’s executive vice president and general manager.

Courtside_Club_State_Farm_Arena.jpgThis new club is steps away from a bar beside the court. (Courtesy Atlanta Hawks)

“We were blessed to have this odd-shaped building, and it forced us to get creative and it spawned an amazing product that will pay dividends for the fans,” Stefansson said. “(Hawks principal owner) Tony Ressler took a tour and we were standing in one spot and Tony said, ‘Remind me again where we are?’ It was unrecognizable what we’ve done to this place. People will be amazed what we’ve been able to get for our money.”

The suite wall tops the list. It’s been replaced with premium offerings unique to the NBA, notably the Topgolf Swing Suites, two group spaces in the corners equipped with golf simulators. The suites have given the Hawks a spike in corporate business on nonevent days and extended the stays for bookings for games and concerts, team officials said.

Overall, the arena redevelopment theme ties to innovation, inclusion and authenticity, with a nod to the Beltline, an old railroad line that’s been converted to a 22-mile walking and bike trail connecting many of Atlanta’s neighborhoods.

The Veranda Suites, situated midlevel on the west side, have 12 to 16 seats and carry a Southern hospitality theme, featuring shutters, ceiling fans, white marble finishes and brass fixtures. It’s a fresh look in the big leagues for what comes closest to the traditional suite model.

Most of the 20 suites sold out at a cost of $320,000 to $360,000 a year, said Michael Drake, the Hawks’ senior vice president of corporate partnerships and premium sales. The biggest Veranda unit comes with 27 seats and sold for $485,000 a year, Drake said. The all-inclusive pricing covers food and drink and access to most events, including Hawks games and concerts.

“We’ve had a tremendously successful push of selling premium tickets to businesses for hospitality,” Koonin said. “We went from over 100 traditional suites to 20 [Verandas]. That’s what I’m using the word radical to describe.”

One level above, the 20 Loft Suites, inspired by a similar product at Golden 1 Center in Sacramento, come with eight to 12 seats. They’re all-inclusive and designed for networking with one big communal dining space behind them, costing $250,000 to $280,000 a year. Four remained for sale a few days before the Hawks’ Oct. 24 regular-season home opener.

Apart from the suites, the club seat experience now ties into three-event level lounges designed by local restaurant architects ai3 and Smith Hanes. Previously, there were virtually no club spaces where fans could eat and drink. It was a glaring omission considering the arena business has evolved to a great night out.

“Our clubs are unique in sports because they look like they belong on the best street in the city,” he said.

Atlanta_Social_hospitality_area_State_Farm_Arena.jpgAtlanta Social comes with its own hospitality space. (Courtesy Atlanta Hawks)

The arena’s east side, which had no premium seats before the upgrades, features Atlanta Social, a mix of couches, terrace tables and lounge suites in the seating bowl on the new mezzanine level. The design was influenced by Las Vegas-style cabanas plus Club Purple at U.S. Bank Stadium, home of the Minnesota Vikings.

The three products are sold in groups of two and four seats, and most of the 600-seat inventory is sold, including all 27 terrace tables and nine of the 10 cabanas, Drake said. Those patrons get exclusive access to large bars and lookouts on two bridges overlooking the main concourse within the 18,000-square-foot space that was the old Philips Experience zone.

The arena renovation drew some star power from two high-profile Atlanta recording artists, culled from Koonin’s vast network of local connections. The centerpiece of the main concourse is Zac Brown’s Social Club, a hangout branded after the country rock artist and accessible to all patrons. The 10,000-square-foot space sits in the north end, decorated with multiple chandeliers hanging above the main bar and dark stone countertops adorning the two concession stands.

Brown created Southern Ground, a lifestyle brand devoted to his passions for food, art, music and merchandise, and it now extends to State Farm Arena through the social club. Rusty Hamlin, Brown’s tour chef, developed a menu showcasing items such as his signature fried shrimp po’boy sandwich. Hamlin works in tandem with Levy, the arena’s concessionaire.

Killer_Mikes_SWAG_Shop_State_Farm_Arena_-_Don_Muret.jpgThe view from the chair at Killer Mike's SWAG Shop. (Don Muret / Staff)

Killer Mike’s SWAG Shop near Gate 2 also speaks to local culture. Run by rapper Michael Render, the barbershop overlooks the basketball court, allowing customers to get a haircut and a shave while watching the Hawks game. It’s a spinoff of Killer Mike’s original location near the Atlanta airport. The idea came from Chuck Reece, editor-in-chief of The Bitter Southerner, an online newsletter, during a brainstorming session the Hawks organized among local food writers for blending Atlanta brands into the facility.

“We won’t serve food where we cut hair, but we loved the idea,” Sheely said. “It was a ‘mic drop’ moment.”

Said Koonin: “The homage to the Atlanta barbershop scene has been around forever … but it’s not about the business of cutting hair. It’s about signifying to the fans that we understand the market and that we’re part of the fabric of the community.”

Both artists worked directly with HOK to design their respective spaces, and the result is a “warm living room for Atlanta,” Gedney said.

The Hawks considered eliminating the center-hung video board in favor of four corner board towers, an idea proposed by HOK, whose architects designed corner boards at MetLife Stadium and Hard Rock Stadium. In an arena setting, the Hawks went with both concepts. Combined, all those screens provide more than 12,000 square feet of video space in the seating bowl.

Getting rid of the center-hung was “really interesting and engaging,” Koonin said, “but then we realized one of the reasons we had to redo the building is because there was such a radical design that wasn’t congruent with the consumer. We kept the four video towers.”

Those towers have standing room platforms and are branded for some of the team’s biggest sponsors, including Kia, Verizon and Budweiser. Prismview, a division of Samsung, produced the videoboards. As of late October, a fourth tower sponsor had not been signed.

“We have a next-generation building,” Koonin said. “It’s about sociability, amenities and ease of circulation. We ripped out most of the portals in the building. You can watch the game from anywhere.”

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Posted: 27 Oct 2018, 2:00 pm

Every venue has that magic run of shows that becomes legendary. For Tacoma Dome it came in 2002 when Paul McCartney played, followed by The Rolling Stones, Guns N’ Roses, Aerosmith, Kid Rock, Korn and Tom Petty.

“It was an amazing three weeks here,” recalled John McClees, who has been the events manager at Tacoma Dome for 19 years.

“It all started with Paul McCartney in the middle of October,” he said. “Then the Stones showed up a few weeks later and it was six shows in 15 days.”

Those shows drew massive crowds and did huge numbers.

“It was something we prepared for two to three months in advance — the parking, the traffic flow — but all the ahead-of-time preparations in the world never get you ready for something like that,” McClees admitted.

“Loading in and out the shows; taking care of the artists; getting people to the building, out of their cars and in to enjoy the show and then out back to their cars, is difficult under normal circumstances,” he said. “In this case, with so many high-profile shows all slammed into a short period of time, it was a miracle that we pulled it off without any major hitches.”

Adding to the pressure in that period was notoriously problematic Guns N’ Roses frontman Axl Rose.

“The Guns N’ Roses tour was supposed to start in Vancouver (British Columbia) a week before they were to play the dome,” McClees said. “But Axl never made it to the Vancouver show. We were all concerned that Axl would be a no-show for our show, so we got a police escort to get him to the venue. It cost us money, it was nerve-wracking, but we got Axl to the dome and he did the show.”

Garth_Brooks_at_Tacoma_Dome_-_Darrell_Westmoreland.jpgGarth Brooks played five shows in three days at Tacoma Dome. (Darrell Westmoreland)

Garth Brooks provided another memorable run. “We did five shows in three days,” McClees said. “We averaged over 20,000 fans per show; 100,000 total over the three days. That’s a lot of fans to move in and out of a venue.”

he city added a “Garth Train” that went from Seattle straight down to Tacoma Dome. “That was big help,” McClees said. “They hadn’t done that in nearly a decade.”

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Posted: 27 Oct 2018, 2:00 pm

“We wanted to make sure the area was developed correctly and that we could put the arena in the middle of it,” Mayor Paul Leon said. (Courtesy Citizens Business Bank Arena)

At the crest of band Lady Antebellum’s fame, the trio played a show at Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario, Calif. Mayor Paul Leon was curious about their opinion of the venue, which opened about a year after their hit single, “Need You Now,” was released.

“They said many of the places they played were the back end of horrible, as it’s hard for trucks and people to get in and out and the accommodations are the worst,” Leon said. “They told me that our arena was the best of the best, (with accommodations) they don’t even see in larger venues.”

The mayor agrees.

“There hasn’t been a municipality in the country that has built an arena of this size and quality in the manner we were able to,” he said.

Its location about 35 miles east of Los Angeles in the Inland Empire region has helped rather than hindered the venue.

Now celebrating its 10th anniversary, Citizens Business Bank Arena is one of the World’s Top 200 Arena Venues according to this year’s Pollstar Mid-Year Rankings Report, which is based upon concert ticket sales Jan. 1-June 30. The venue, managed by SMG Worldwide, ranked No. 17 domestically and No. 37 worldwide.

A Great Investment
The city, which built and owns the arena, broached the idea for the building back in 1994, as it became clear that the Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario area, who population has now reached 4.7 million, needed an indoor entertainment venue.

The city bought property in August 1998 that had been on the site of the Ontario Motor Speedway, which was open only from 1970 to 1980, intending to create space for an arena plus retail and residential properties.

“We knew the city development was moving east with the buildout of Los Angeles and Orange County, and it caught up with us during the 2000s boom time,” Leon said. “We wanted to make sure the area was developed correctly and that we could put the arena in the middle of it.”

Pink_-_Citizens_Business_Bank_Arena.jpgPink is among the acts who have wowed fans at Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario, Calif. (Courtesy Citizens Business Bank Arena)

The city got a good price on the land and sold various properties, which allowed it to pay cash for the $150 million arena’s construction. This not only eliminated any debt but also made the arena immediately popular with residents because its construction didn’t move the city to raise their taxes.

The groundbreaking ceremony was March 7, 2007, and exactly a year later the final large steel beam was put in place. The arena opened on Oct. 16, 2008. The quick construction timeline was due to 1,137 pieces of a precast structure.

The 225,000-square-foot arena contains three levels, including an event level, main concourse, outdoor patio and skybox area with patio.

During the arena’s planning and design process, Leon and his team visited other venues of similar size. They listened to what staff liked and would otherwise change, with the goal to create the perfect facility.

“I’m a sound man when it comes to concerts, so it was important to have quality sound,” Leon said. “Also, most arenas have permanent scoreboards, but we decided on a retractable version.”

As a former truck driver, Leon knew the importance of trucks, trailers and buses having a straight shot backing into the arena as well as providing accessible electrical conduits.

“Also, when we spoke to other venues, it was evident there weren’t enough bathrooms, and the women’s bathrooms were too small,” Leon said. “We have a ton at our arena, and the women’s bathrooms are twice the size of the men’s.”

With about 11,000 seats, including 700 club seats and 36 suites, Citizens Business Bank Arena small enough that there’s no nosebleed section and not a bad seat in the house. 

“We knew, with the lack of venues of this type in the Inland Empire, we’d get the attendance we’ve been getting over the last 10 years,” Leon said. “Yes, it took some time for people to understand what it was, but everyone eventually realized there was a midsize, beautifully built arena in the area.”

Attracting the Acts
Despite being on the outskirts of Los Angeles, Citizens Business Bank Arena benefits from its location less than a mile north of Interstate 10 and five miles from the Ontario International Airport.

“What makes this arena unique is it’s not huge, and it provides the audience with an intimate entertainment experience,” said Michael Krouse, CEO and president of the arena. “Guests are up close to sports activities and concert performers, plus it’s easy to get in and out, and there’s plenty of nearby parking.”

Ontario_Reign_-_Citizens_Business_Bank_Arena.jpgBig players: The Ontario Reign of the American Hockey League and (below) Trans-Siberian Orchestra. (Courtesy Citizens Business Bank Arena X2)

It’s home to the Agua Caliente Clippers of Ontario, the NBA G League affiliate of the Los Angeles Clippers; the Ontario Reign, American Hockey League affiliate of the Los Angeles Kings; and the Ontario Fury, part of the Major Arena Soccer League.

Trans_Siberian_Orchestra_-_Citizens_Busines_Bank_Arena.jpgThe arena’s first event on Oct. 24, 2008, a Los Angeles Lakers preseason game, was broadcast on ESPN. The very next day, the venue hosted its first hockey game. Both drew sellout crowds.

“American Idol” winner Carrie Underwood was the first musical performer at Citizens Business Bank Arena on Nov. 9, 2008. Metallica was its first sellout concert and the first show performed in the round.

SMG took over management of the arena from AEG on July 1, 2016.

With sporting events, concerts, family shows, graduation ceremonies and even filming rehearsals, thanks to its proximity to Hollywood, Citizens Business Bank Arena has been active as many as 300 days a year.

“The reason why we are highly successful is we’re an open venue model,” Krouse said. “Any promoter can come into our arena, and they are shocked at our ability to compete with mainstream cities; Pink sold out in five minutes. We have our own base here. We don’t need to pull from LA or Orange County to sell out.”

Still, according to Sue Oxarart, the arena’s director of marketing and communications, people will travel from surrounding areas and even from Canada for intimate show and sports experiences.

“It also helps that we have a convention center and 6,000 hotel rooms,” she said.

Celebrating a Milestone
The arena was to celebrate its 10th year with a reception for strategic partners and long-term business stakeholders Oct. 24, followed by a free, nonticketed open house for the public that included tours of the facility, free food and goody bags. The event was promoted via an ad campaign and 5,000 were expected to attend.

Ontario’s city manager, Scott Ochoa, credits Leon and the City Council with the venue’s success.

“They saw a vacuum in this area for entertainment on a significant scale,” he said. “When they created this venue, they knew it would stand the test of time.”

The current trajectory, he said, is the right recipe for success, which includes significantly improved content and a revamped food and beverage program.

“There are so many successes we can point to over the last decade,” Leon said. “The arena has been a great investment.”

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Posted: 27 Oct 2018, 2:00 pm

ATLANTA — Hiring game-day staff at State Farm Arena took on a carnival atmosphere, and that doesn’t just mean that things were a little crazy.

Over the summer, the Atlanta Hawks interviewed job candidates for lead supervisors on the SkyView Atlanta Ferris wheel at nearby Centennial Park. Those discussions took place inside the wheel’s air-conditioned gondolas as the ride was in operation, extending 20 stories above the city.

In addition, the Hawks interviewed potential hires at the Georgia Aquarium for ushers, concession workers and housekeeping, among other positions. Those meetings took place beneath the whale shark exhibit, said Brett Stefansson, the arena’s executive vice president and general manager.

David Garcia, the Hawks’ new vice president of guest experience, whose background includes working at The Walt Disney Co. and Amazon, came up with the idea for the unconventional settings, Stefansson said.

“We’re trying to get people in the right state of mind before they even join the organization, about how exciting it is to work here and all the great things we’re doing,” he said. “It translates to delivering a great experience for the fans.”

The 50 lead supervisors hired by the Hawks got to celebrate their new employment at Emory Healthcare Courts, the team’s new practice facility in Brookhaven, Ga., a northeast Atlanta suburb. They went through a routine similar to an NBA draft pick, signing their paperwork and getting their picture taken in front of a team banner.

“It’s about how do you get these people excited about what we’re doing?” Stefansson said. “That was the approach, showing the front-line staff that we care about them, whether it’s a nice, clean, well-supplied break room or a sharp, crisp, good-looking uniform custom fitted for them. It’s the little things that make their job easier.”

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Posted: 27 Oct 2018, 2:00 pm

A Supercross rider takes to the sky during a stadium show. (Courtesy Feld Motor Sports)

Rodeo companies, monster truck tours and motocross organizers have pursued growth and increased visibility in 2018, working to strengthen ties with existing fans while cultivating connections with new audiences. Producers have aimed to appeal to the die-hards while grabbing the attention of those not yet in the know about their sports. Out of both necessity and opportunity, these producers are working on multiple fronts to promote their brands to audiences whose entertainment options are nearly limitless.

Ellen Newberg, senior vice president of live event marketing for Professional Bull Riders, said many of the issues that are top of mind for producers as they chase these goals are shared not only within their niche but also with the rest of the sports industry.

“Maintaining a great on-field product, keeping fans engaged (including outside the arena across media), athlete accessibility and providing great value for the entertainment dollar are all trends any sport has be on top of,” Newberg said.

Testing new markets
Among producers’ points of emphasis is identifying and reaching new markets. Organizations are taking a variety of approaches in tackling this task.

For instance, Howell Rodeo Co. formed a partnership with Plus 1 Productions to use the company’s portable rodeo arena.

“The ability to bring our own portable arena means that we are not depending on the venue to provide this, and opens up the doors for new locations that were not previously possible,” said Howell’s Chelsea Howell. “Plus 1 Productions is based in the Northwest, but they are traveling all over the country to set up the arena for events.”

For the Traxxas Monster Truck Tour, the search for new markets meant a bold push into China. That move into a large international market helped spur attendance growth, said Tony Maderazzo, chief operations officer for the tour, and Traxxas has plans to continue to add events in China as well as in other international markets. Maderazzo also said the tour is gaining more young fans and more old fans than it ever has, making it more of an all-ages attraction.

“The fan base and markets that we can reach are continuing to expand,” Maderazzo said.

The PBR also has integrated international opportunities for its competitions. Most notably in 2018, the new PBR Global Cup made its inaugural stop in Australia in June at the Qudos Bank Arena in Sydney. The event was first held in November 2017 in Edmonton, Alberta.

“This unique country vs. country bull-riding competition brings a team element to what has traditionally been an individual sport,” Newberg said. “The best riders from the U.S., Australia, Brazil, Canada and Mexico battle for national pride, global bragging rights and the home country’s soil that goes into the horns of a special trophy.”

In addition, PBR formed a partnership with Brazilian company IMM in August to create new bull-riding events in that country. The efforts in Brazil will include a proprietary tour that serves as a steppingstone for the sport’s elite series in the United States, covering six cities in 2019 and up to 10 by 2020.

Always with an eye on global audiences, ESPN’s X Games continued its ambitious staging of events in both domestic and international markets.

“2018 was a very solid year for the X Games,” Vice President Tim Reed said. “We produced four major events globally in Aspen, Norway, Minneapolis and Sydney. Attendance at both Aspen and Minneapolis was over 100,000 spectators, and we had double-digit growth for our TV audience and triple-digit growth across our social and digital platforms.”

Putting on a show
Talent and the quality of competition plays a critical part in fan engagement. Maderazzo said a key highlight of the year for the Traxxas Monster Truck Tour was that the points championship was a tight contest that wasn’t decided until the end of the season.

Producers are forever looking for ways to improve the quality of the competitions themselves. For instance, PBR, where each ride is scored half for the bull and half for the rider, is turning to technology to sharpen scoring accuracy.

Endurocross.jpgEndurocross riders challenge for the lead. The circuit runs a schedule through the western United States. (Courtesy Endurocross)

“A new project placing data sensors on bulls will provide objective data to a human-judged scoring system that is inherently subjective,” said Andrew Giangola, PBR vice president of strategic communications. “PBR hopes to implement the new scoring system for the bulls in 2019.”

As with many sports, however, the merits of the competition itself do not always suffice for some fans.

In the category of motorsports, Shad Petersen, CEO of Wyoming-based MotoTrials team Play With Gravity, said he worries that “participation in the competitions themselves seems to be getting lower and lower each year.” Play With Gravity produces shows featuring its riders, who also compete in MotoTrials competitions, which are scored based on how well riders handle a series of obstacles.

“The biggest emerging trend we are noticing in motorsports is that it seems that less people are interested in true competition and are more interested in a ‘show,’” Petersen said. “That's not to say that races themselves cannot do well, but I think for them to survive going forward, they are going to have to focus more on being a better show.”

To that end, Petersen said, Play With Gravity has emphasized improved showmanship in the past year, particularly being “more focused on keeping the show more entertaining by using the mics better and more crowd interaction.”

Similarly, Maderazzo said the Traxxas Monster Truck Tour launched “Truckin’ and Buckin’’’ events this year that combine monster truck and bull riding competitions in the same event and give crowds a greater sense of spectacle in one experience.

ESPN X also organized new twists for its array of events.

“We introduced a new event call Snow Hill Climb at our Aspen event in partnership with Harley-Davidson. This event took place on our SuperPipe and showcased motorcycles racing side-by-side up the pipe,” Reed said. “In Minneapolis we made significant venue adjustments and ran our Flat Track motorcycle race inside U.S. Bank Stadium. In Minneapolis we also produced our music shows at the Armory,” a historic building renovated as a music venue that reopened early this year.

Creating content
Providing a satisfying, comprehensive experience to fans goes beyond the product on the dirt. Reed said ESPN X also aims to “remain ahead of the curve” in offering fans a rewarding experience outside of the venue.

“Overall consumer experience is critical for events and brands,” Reed said. “We’ve made significant efforts to bolster the content around the competitions and we’ve built out significant content in music, film, photography and art to provide a robust experience to our fans.”

The digital reach of a sport can be a crucial draw for potential fans. Petersen said, “MotoTrials itself is getting some better publicity these days, due to more and more YouTube videos getting shared.”

Newberg said digital and social media have been on the rise as part of PBR’s marketing mix, as the sport aims to build emotional connections between athletes and fans while promoting events.

Howell_Rodeo_Co._.jpgA competitor holds on tight at a Howell Rodeo Co. event. (Courtesy Howell Rodeo Co.)

The organization’s digital and social spends have grown 69 percent since 2016 to promote events during the season. Newberg said the sport now generates more than 1 billion impressions per year on social media and enjoys one of the “fastest-growing and stickiest” social media networks among the country’s major sports.

“Within digital/social, content marketing is in many cases supplanting more traditional brand and hard-sell marketing, especially to counter preconceived notions or stereotypes about our sport,” Newberg said. “Content marketing allows us to better ‘sell’ a sport that sometimes needs a little explanation. Social marketing affords us an opportunity to expose in an authentic way stories about our athletes and events to highly targeted audiences.”

Looking ahead
As 2019 approaches, producers shared some of the goals and objectives at the top of their agendas for the coming year.

Play With Gravity’s Petersen said his organization plans to expand its show offerings and — in response to changing fan preferences — improve in some areas it has not previously embraced, especially feature entertainment shows.

At ESPN X, Reed said “our organization’s goals continue to be to grow audience across all of our events and platforms and continue to provide a world-class experience to our fans, athletes and sponsors at all of our events. We’ll look to continue to develop additional events and content across the globe.”

Reed said a steady influx of young athletic talent has fueled ESPN X’s success and provides optimism for the organization’s future events.

“The strong youth athlete base for all the sports that we produce continues to excite me,” Reed said. “Each year new athletes come onto the scene and drive progression and interest.”

Giangola said PBR will build on its collaborations with Endeavor, the sports, entertainment and fashion holding company that acquired it in May 2015, to gain a foothold in mainstream culture, including through the use of original content, such as a Netflix documentary series and a Facebook streaming series; proprietary fan base and custom research for partners; and creative services producing advertising.

In addition, Giangola said, “PBR is excited about the growth of popularity of the western lifestyle and western sports” and will develop storytelling touching on the message that “the world needs more cowboys.”

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Posted: 27 Oct 2018, 2:00 pm

Professional Bull Riders enjoys valuable exposure with its programming on CBS, averaging more than 1 million viewers a showing, but the organization also has demonstrated a commitment to creating online-based content for fans that offers another avenue for audiences to experience the sport and get to know its participants better.

PBR’s most recent effort, a partnership with a number of rodeo organizations, is called RidePass. Launched in February, RidePass is an over-the-top network, which means it provides streaming media directly to consumers rather than through a distributor. Andrew Giangola, PBR vice president of strategic communications, said the network has carried 500 hours of western sports programming since its launch.

Giangola said RidePass was created with technology from Endeavor, PBR’s parent company. PBR content on the network includes live events, news and highlights, feature programming and archival video.

“The new subscription-based OTT gives fans access to top PBR events not seen on TV, including the expansion Velocity Tour and the PBR Global Cup,” Giangola said. “It also covers other western lifestyle sporting such as rodeo at the professional and high school levels.”

RidePass base price is $7.99 monthly or $83.88 for an annual subscription, which works out to $6.99 a month. The annual membership includes select premier and pay-per-view events including the PBR World Finals.

Endeavor has created two other OTT networks: Made to Measure, which offers fashion programming, and UFC Fight Pass. RidePass is available online ( and in the Apple iTunes and Google Play stores.

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Posted: 27 Oct 2018, 1:40 pm

The San Francisco 49ers have 100 of HappyOrNot’s terminals around Levi’s Stadium. (Courtesy San Francisco 49ers)

When Moon Javaid’s boss asked him to capture customer satisfaction in a way that would provide real-time data at Levi’s Stadium, Javaid wasn’t optimistic.

“I told him, ‘I don’t think you can do it.’ It’s really hard to aggregate fan feedback in real time,” said Javaid, vice president of business and analytics for the San Francisco 49ers, who call the stadium home. The team was gathering fan feedback through emails or surveys taken hours and even days after fans left the stadium, and Javaid was getting a response rate of only about 15 percent.

A week after meeting with his boss, Javaid was passing through John F. Kennedy Airport in New York City and saw a HappyOrNot “Smiley Terminal,” which uses four buttons with faces ranging from happy to sad to register feedback. “I saw that. I sat there and watched it. I watched people use it,” he said. “That was on a Sunday. I called HappyOrNot that Monday.”

After that chance encounter, the 49ers made Levi’s Stadium the first major professional sports venue to use the terminals of HappyOrNot, which started in Finland in 2009 and launched a U.S. division in 2013.

Since then, others have followed the 49ers’ example by installing HappyOrNot terminals. The company works with 10 organizations, venues and stadiums in North America and is in talks with others to help improve fan experience, said Johnelee Dizon, director of marketing for HappyOrNot American.

The University of Georgia broke ground in the college world by putting them in Sanford Stadium for this football season, and Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, the 19,500-seat home of the NHL Flyers and NBA 76ers, deployed 75 terminals this fall,  becoming the first NBA/NHL arena to use them.

Measuring guest satisfaction couldn’t come at a better time for Wells Fargo Center, said Ben Schlegel, director of events for the venue. The arena, owned and operated by Comcast Spectacor, is in the middle of a $250 million renovation, which “gave us the opportunity to look at the fan experience,” said Schlegel, who manages the guest experience department.

The machines, which run on three D batteries, are placed at bathroom exits, next to concession stands, in parking lots and basically at any location where fans encounter customer service.

Wells Fargo Center has terminals at all of its restrooms. The larger bathrooms have attendants helping guests, while the smaller ones don’t. Schlegel and his team captured data the first day they used the terminals, for the Sept. 11 Elton John concert. Data showed that guests were less happy with their experience at the small restrooms without an attendant, and arena personnel now check those areas more often.

“It’s also a good tool for us to tell our staff how well they’re doing,” he said. “It’s a good check and balance on that program to see who does well and who needs help.”

HappyOrNot says that postevent surveys used to collect customer satisfaction data generally generate a response rate of about 1 percent. Using HappyOrNot, that rate rises to 20 percent to 40 percent, depending on foot traffic and terminal location.

Wells Fargo Center had a doubleheader Oct. 20, hosting a Flyers game at 1 p.m. and a 76ers game at 7:30 p.m., and the arena logged responses from roughly 18 percent of foot traffic, according to the venue.

The 49ers put more than 100 of the terminals throughout Levi’s Stadium for the 2017 season. “We got 20,000 impressions in that first day,” Javaid said. The team worked with HappyOrNot on a system that would deliver real-time data.

Javaid and HappyOrNot found that tracking data at a sporting venue with only eight to 10 home games a year is much easier than doing the same for an airport. “I don’t need 365 days a year, I need 10,” Javaid said. “Over the course of the next year, I worked with HON to work out real-time reporting. We helped them design it.”

Specifically, they developed an app that venue operators can use to find out where customer service is lacking throughout the stadium. A data report is also available at the end of each game, giving managers a clear understanding of where customers were happy and where they were not throughout the stadium during any segment of a game.

Javaid and his team have solved up to 150 issues that happen in real time at a game. “Half were concession related issues, such as items being out of stock or cashiers not being trained,” he said.

Another bonus of the system is that concessionaires work harder to give better service when they know they’re being rated, said Josh Brooks, executive associate director of athletics at the University of Georgia.

“Concession stands want to be the top concession stands,” he said. “I’ve also seen some of the concession workers soliciting feedback from customers. I’ll take that because it means they’re engaging with the customers. It means they’re trying and that they care.”

Sanford Stadium had 40 HappyOrNot terminals installed on the 100 level at the 92,000-seat stadium this fall. Four games in, and Brooks and his team are getting more analytical feedback than they ever imagined. 

“We love it. It’s been great for us,” he said.

The data is distributed to him and his team in 15 minute increments throughout the game. Measuring the data can be tricky, but much of it can be pinpointed to various scenarios happening on game day.

“If your score has dropped during halftime, you know it has to do with quantity rather than quality of service,” Brooks said, noting the longer wait times as fans rush to restrooms and concessions stands during the break in play.

Sanford Stadium added a grab-and-go station with premade snacks. Brooks put a HappyOrNot terminal there and found that the response has been positive.

Brooks also now gives his bosses a better understanding of guest satisfaction. “Sometimes you let one or two bad emails be your narrative of what happened that day. But then you get data, and you’re doing much better than you thought,” he said. “The data that this system can collect for you can be your story.”

Brad Winney is the general manager and president of HappyOrNot Americas, and he works closely with venues to understand the data and to get their terminals set up.

“In the last few years, we’ve been making investments in understanding the needs for (the sports business).We’re seeing bigger and bigger budgets being allocated for fan experience. Even in these two years, we’ve definitely been seeing an uptick,” Winney said.

Terminals are programmed to ask guests whatever questions the venue wants. “We’re able to get responses from 20 to 40 percent of the foot traffic. That’s more data than they’ll get from one day by surveys,” Winney said.

Depending on the package of services that the buyer chooses, terminals can issue alerts, such as alerting venue managers on their smartphones after 10 negative responses in a set period.

“They can fix the problem before it becomes a big problem with a large amount of fans,” Winney said. “Each of these devices has a SIM card in it, so we’re not dependent on IT.”

Winney would not discuss how much the terminals cost venues, noting that pricing depends on a variety of factors, including the length of the contract, type of services included and overall scope of the project. But “you can get the return of investment on our system with in two or three games,” he said.

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Posted: 27 Oct 2018, 1:00 pm

The ROKiT name isn’t on the StubHub Center field but can be seen elsewhere in the stadium. (Courtesy Los Angeles Chargers)

Startup wireless company ROKiT is using its unique field sponsorship deal at StubHub Center, temporary home of the NFL’s Los Angeles Chargers, as a launching pad for its brand.

The company plans to launch its first mobile phones by Black Friday and is looking to score name recognition and consideration as well as earned media pickup from the deal, which runs through next season. The Chargers are scheduled to move for the 2020 season to nearby Inglewood, where the team will be a tenant in the Los Angeles Rams’ new stadium.

“It’s a big deal and a big deal for us — we’re a new company starting out,” said Clinton Ehrlich, chief marketing officer for ROKiT. Neither ROKiT or the Chargers would discuss the value of the deal.

“It’s difficult to become a new and authentic, trusted brand,” Ehrlich said. “Having our name associated with the Chargers, the NFL” and by association, Nike, Gatorade and other major brands, is “tremendously about awareness,” he said.

The deal provides ROKiT with signage on the archway over the entrance to the parking lot and in the stadium itself, on the scoreboard and through video ads on the ribbon video screen that circles the bowl. There’s a ROKiT Play of the Game on the videoboard, but the firm’s logo is not on the field that it sponsors. Chargers officials say the NFL prohibits that.

ROKiT has a field-level club down on the sidelines with a bar and standup bar tables. VIPs, the company’s partners and eventually its customers can stand just behind the visiting team’s bench.

In a promotion called “Delivering the ROK,” community members bring the game ball to the referees before kickoff. “We find influencers, people from the community who are delivering to the community,” Ehrlich said. 

It’s an unusual arrangement for the NFL to have one sponsor with naming rights to the venue and another one with rights to the playing field. The Chargers are renting the stadium through next season from AEG, which owns StubHub Center as well as its primary tenant, Major League Soccer’s LA Galaxy.

“I imagine a number of people are looking at it as a way to create a unique piece of inventory,” Chargers Chief Revenue Officer Jim Rushton said, adding, “We’re in a highly competitive market and a highly unique situation, so it requires us to be creative and challenge ourselves to deliver for our partners.”

Rushton would not comment on whether any ROKiT Field revenue is shared with the team’s landlords at AEG.

ROKiT is a new addition to the ROK Brands family, founded by entrepreneurs John Paul DeJoria and Jonathan Kendrick. The upstart wireless firm plans to offer a range of phones, from flip phones at the low end to state-of-the-art smartphones with a 3D display. ROKiT also looks to differentiate itself from rivals through bundled services such as telemedicine and security.

Activations in 2018 will be limited due to a StubHub Center deal with wireless rival Alcatel. Ehrlich said that deal ends after this season so they will able to bring ROKiT phones into the stadium next year.

ROKiT is already using the field sponsorship to get a toe hold for its ABK beer at StubHub Center. At a recent Chargers game, the company served the brews at the Sideline Club. The company is employing a similar strategy in a deal to put its name on the jerseys of the NBA’s Houston Rockets. The Rockets’ home, Toyota Center, is renaming three bar areas after ROK Brands’ beverages.

Zack Sugarman, Wasserman senior vice president of properties, said, “It’s an interesting way if you’re ROKiT to get the most out of your dollars by activating other brands.” Wasserman is active in naming-rights deals but did not work on the ROKiT-Chargers agreement.

Sugarman says that there will be more of these field naming-rights deals but that teams will be selective and strategic. “There’s an opportunity for brands to pick up naming rights. You’ll see it for challenger brands … you’re going to get a lot of earned media pickup. For everything going on at the stadium, it’s ROKiT Field at StubHub Center. For a relatively smaller investment, (ROKiT’s) getting additional pickup.”

Ehrlich says ROKiT would like to stay involved with the Chargers and be visible in the L.A. market beyond next season. That would certainly mean a higher price tag to sponsor both the Rams and Chargers as well as the new Inglewood stadium. It is already slated to host the Super Bowl and NCAA men’s basketball Final Four soon after opening in 2020.

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Posted: 27 Oct 2018, 1:00 pm

One hundred new antennas have been connected to bring 5G to the LA Convention Center. (Courtesy AEG)

5G is here. the long-heralded fifth generation of mobile connectivity, considered a breakthrough to move data faster and increase wireless speeds to transform services such as artificial intelligence, virtual reality and video calling, is set to replace 4G LTE as the world's premier mobile connector.

"5G will be transformative," said Reed Peterson, head of Mobile World Congress Americas and GSMA, the trade body that represents the interests of mobile network operators worldwide. "It’ll pave the way for new technologies and opportunities we haven’t even imagined yet."

Generally speaking, 5G will be 10 times faster than 4G, he said. The costs vary widely.
"It depends on the size of the area being hooked up to the 5G network," said Peterson.

"5G will have significantly less delays and will transform the way we watch video, experience new media like AR and VR and open the door for more connected technologies in our everyday lives," Peterson said.

The first convention center to move to 5G is the Los Angeles Convention Center, where 100 new antennas have been connected to enable 5G connections.

"3G was texting, 4G allowed us to do video and 5G will bring us speed and capacity," said Doane Liu, executive director of the Los Angeles Department of Convention & Tourism. "Within a few years every new phone will be 5G capable and all the development apps will be working on 5G."

The process to install the new antennas took "several months" and was "paid for by the mobile carriers," said Liu.

"It was zero cost to the LACC or the city of Los Angeles," Doane said. "The carriers will pay for it to be everywhere and they will up your bill to pay for it."

While the LACC is pioneering the way, Doane firmly believes that "within a few years every convention center will have 5G and it will be on every pole and light post as well."

"The reason we were fortunate enough to get the first 5G antennas was because we were hosting the Mobile World Congress Convention and the mobile carriers wanted to show off the new technology to the people who will bring it to the rest of the world," he said.

For the moment the only ones who will enjoy the 5G at LACC are the attendees of the MWCA. "The general public won't be able to take advantage of 5G until the get new 5G-capable phones."

The Mobile World Congress Convention, a three-day conference and exhibition convening the mobile ecosystem and its adjacent industries, was held Sept. 12-14.
There were 25,000 attendees.

“The LACC is taking a visionary approach in deploying its new 5G network, providing next-generation capabilities for exhibitors and attendees at Mobile World Congress Americas, and many other events, well into the future," said Peterson.

Other convention centers are expected to take plunge soon. "There's three or four cities that are being looked at next but nothing's been determined yet," said Liu.

Peterson said that intelligence gathered in a recent GSMA report — “The 5G Era in the U.S." — revealed that that while 4G has been driving the transition from connected to digital consumers for years, 5G is the key to taking how we experience intelligent connectivity to the next level with smart cities, connected cars and remote surgeries as just a few examples.

"In fact, it’s been determined that 5G and 4G will likely coexist and complement each other for many years as 5G continues to roll out globally," he said. "Consumers will notice first is how 5G will enable faster video with less latency.

"When it comes to the world of venues, 5G will provide opportunities to streamline and automate many maintenance related processes. For example, increased network connectivity can allow for buildings to install a remotely operated automated system that’ll control ventilation and air conditioning, lighting and other systems through a management system — from anywhere in the world via 5G powered sensors," said Peterson

It’s also clear that venue events, such as concerts or sports, inspire social media interactions, with everyone posting photos and videos, using data to text friends and up-till-now have been faltering to provide all that bandwith, he said.

"5G will give people a better venue experience by simply having more network to work with, in real time, creating more opportunities for mobile interactions with low latency and no lag time," said Peterson.

Having 5G in venues will also allow for a higher quality of broadcast to people at home.

"Take a hockey game, for example. 5G could allow broadcasters the chance to film the game in VR, allowing those at home the chance to strap on a headset and experience the game live as if they were in the rink," explained Peterson.

Peterson pointed to the recent GSMA partnerships with AT&T and Time Warner, Verizon and Oath as proof of 5G's appeal and potential.

"We’re on the path toward creating a new digital entertainment ecosystem, and 5G will be a major part of that, especially as the mobile screen moves from being the third to the primary screen people use to consume media," he said.

Peterson believes that 5G is the key to advancing the connected future.

"The advent of 5G is coinciding with a major period of transition within the technology industry, where industries such as telecoms and media, the internet of things and AI are moving toward mainstream adoption. 5G has the potential to connect the dots and take us into the future — today," Peterson added.

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Posted: 27 Oct 2018, 1:00 pm

Grilled cheese with icing or cinnamon bun with cheese? (Courtesy Centerplate)

As NHL teams freeze ice for 41 regular-season home dates and NBA arenas lay the hard maple floors (except in Boston, where you find red oak) for the same number of games, concessionaires must cook up something new, something that entices fans to explore the concourses fresh for the season night in and night out.

We’ve combed the menus across the 50 arenas hosting NHL and NBA action — nine arenas host both, and Los Angeles’ Staples Center has a second NBA team — to find five new in-arena concession items worth exploring. We’re admiring from afar at the moment, but they’d certainly make for a fine food tour. 

Olilo, $14
Capital One Arena,
Washington, D.C.

Cat_Cora_Grain_Bowl-_Capital_One_Arena_copy.pngAramark has played up celebrity in the revamped concessions at Capital One Arena. From David Chang’s Fuku spicy fried chicken sandwich to Maria Menounos’ Maria’s Greek Kitchen Falafel Waffle all the way to Alex McCoy’s Lucky Buns and Cat Cora’s Olilo. And that’s where we stop, with Cora’s create-your-own greens and grains bowls (right) and gourmet flatbreads, allowing fans to have plenty of say in how the Iron Chef’s signature Mediterranean flavors fill their plate.

Loaded Spicy Buffalo Fries, $10
Fiserv Forum, Milwaukee

The new Fiserv Forum gives us a beer-infused sausage with cheese curds served in a toasted buttered split-top roll and a mixture of nacho offerings (we say yes to the mac and cheese nachos or chicharrones nachos, especially). You can find spicy tuna poke or a brat burger slathered in beer mustard, caramelized onions and wild arugula, but what we most want to taste from Levy are the loaded spicy buffalo fries. This option dusts fries with buffalo seasoning and adds blue cheese fondue, smoked bacon, blue cheese crumbles and scallions.

Grilled Cheese Cinnamon Bun, $8.50
MTS Place, Winnipeg

Sure, Centerplate offered up new Jet Dog options, adding toppings from bacon bits to pierogi pieces for this season, but what about that grilled cheese cinnamon bun? Chefs worked up something a bit uncommon for the folks in Winnipeg. Taking a cinnamon bun, they cut it open and filled it with medium cheddar cheese, grilling it up for a new perspective on grilled cheese.

Penguin Roll, $8
PPG Paints Arena, Pittsburgh

Aramark has been getting creative in Pittsburgh this offseason, from a Dahntahn Dog that takes a Smith’s hot dog and tops it with braised short rib, bourbon barbecue sauce, smoked onions and pickled jalapenos all the way to the new buffalo turkey sandwich and Firebird, which mixes buffalo chicken dip with toasted panko chicken tenders, blue cheese and hot sauce all draped across waffle fries. But we’re most interested in dessert, where the Penguin Roll maneuvers chocolate ice cream, white chocolate sauce, chocolate chips, whipped cream and even gold flakes into one sweet treat.

Chef Joe’s Chicken and Beignets, $14
State Farm Arena, Atlanta

The remake of State Farm Arena extends to Levy’s work with the concessions. Sure, you have B’s Cracklin’ Ribs, Chef Rusty’s Fried Shrimp Po-Boy and Old Lady Gang’s Soul Sandwich with fried chicken, collard greens and mac and cheese on a brioche bun, but we’d like to focus on Chef Joe’s Chicken and Beignets. The hand-breaded Spring Mountain Farms fried chicken includes beignets topped with powdered sugar and cayenne honey.

If the list were longer, we’d also include Talking Stick Resort Arena’s Colossal Loaded Fries and Rings from Levy, which mix fries with beer cheese sauce, bacon, chives, sour cream and beer-battered onion rings for what should become a Phoenix favorite; Salt Lake City’s specialty hot dog contest from Levy at Vivint Smart Home Arena, which includes fan voting during the preseason for a new specialty hot dog; Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia offering up a Vegetarian Poke Bowl from Aramark with red quinoa, roasted peppers, red onion, broccoli, carrots and cherry tomatoes; Cleveland’s Quicken Loans Arena and Aramark creating The 216 Dog with mini pierogies, sauerkraut, shredded cheese and jalapeno peppers; and Gila River Arena in Glendale, Ariz., and Levy with their new cantina bowl with either chicken tinga, beef brisket or pork carnitas served atop Spanish rice, black beans, cabbage salad and pico de gallo.

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Posted: 27 Oct 2018, 1:00 pm

The bomb attack at an Ariana Grande show at Manchester Arena last year was the catalyst for E3S. (Getty Images)

When Salman Ramadan Abedi detonated a bomb in the foyer of Manchester Arena on May 22, 2017, it wasn’t the first time terrorists had chosen a live concert to take the lives of innocent people in order to spread fear, nor was it the last.

It did, however, lead to an unprecedented reaction from the international artist community and music industry. Ariana Grande and her manager Scooter Braun, enlisted the world’s biggest pop stars for the “One Love Manchester” benefit concert only two weeks after the attack, while the professionals working behind the scenes came up with a response of their own: the Event Safety and Security Summit, known in the industry as E3S. It took place Oct. 10, 2017, in London, a meeting of venue operators, concert and tour promoters, and security specialists.

The summit was scheduled to return for a second edition Oct. 30 at the Congress Centre in Central London, and 400 delegates were expected to attend. VenuesNow spoke with the creators of E3S and other health and safety specialists about the status quo of event security.

The head organizer of E3S is Greg Parmley, who is also in charge of two other industry gatherings in London, the International Live Music Conference and the International Festival Forum. Unlike those events, E3S focuses solely on what its name suggests: safety and security at live events.

Parmley developed this year's agenda with Chris Kemp, CEO of the Mind Over Matter Consultancy and the main man at Yourope’s Event Safety Group. According to Kemp, last year’s event made it clear that the professionals working in this industry are eager to develop “a European consensus on safety and security standards,” as well as “training and education across Europe from a more holistic standpoint.

Chris_Kemp_mug.jpgChris Kemp.

“There is much that we can learn from each other, and by bringing the best of Europe and the U.K. together we can really drive some important good practice home and learn from others. No one continent or industry or sector has all of the answers.”

Mike Downing, chief security officer at Prevent Advisors, the safety and security branch of Oak View Group (VenuesNow's parent company), agrees: “Governments, private enterprise and NGOs have come to the realization that no one entity can properly prepare for or respond to crisis. The magic formula today is collaboration, the forming of partnerships, and the sharing of smart practices.”

Downing said “the only competition we have between us in the entertainment industry relative to safety and security is to stay ahead of the adversary by understanding how to counter today’s threat and understanding that the real enemy is complacency.”

One of the speakers scheduled for this year's E3S was Carl Dakin, who launched his own security, business continuity and emergency management services company five years ago, after a 25-year career in the British Army.

“The one aspect of live music events that I am always mindful of relates to the mind-set of the revelers,” Dakin said. “When people attend music events, they quickly become immersed in the atmosphere of the event and take on a 'feel good' factor, which is a good thing!

“However, in the event of an emergency, the team need to understand that before they can influence the crowd they need to break through the mental 'ice pack' and bring them back into the present.”

Dakin said it seemed like a “delicate balance to strike” between making people feel safe and making them feel scared. “It really depends on the event. In some cases eventgoers are expecting a level of security and will not be fazed at all by comprehensive screening at the access point or other high-visibility security measures deployed throughout the event venue.

“However, security should be intelligent and physical and procedural measures matched to the threat level to enable the security system to be enhanced or reduced accordingly as the threat picture changes. Remember, security costs money — extra manning, etc. —  and time, extended contact time at the point of entry.”

2017_E3S.JPGA session at last year’s inaugural Event Safety and Security Summit in London. (Courtesy E3S)

The current U.K. threat level, indicating the likelihood of a terrorist attack, stands at “severe.” Dakin said, “We’ve seen a series of low-sophistication attacks in the U.K. with terrorists using vehicles as a weapon, there have been the person-borne IED attack at the Manchester arena and the failed placed-IED attack at Parsons Green, all of which demonstrate we all need to maintain vigilance and be aware that extremists do not discriminate age, sex, religion or race.”

Downing confirmed that the same need existed in the U.S.: “While the terrorist threat is still considered to be low volume, high consequence, we are seeing lower-level-capability attacks dealing with vehicle ramming, small arms attacks, and more recently activity with drones that have the potential to be weaponized.

“It is becoming harder and harder to detect individuals who are either inspired by or directed by a networked adversary. Technology is important. However, even more important is the human ring of steel that is informed, has good situational awareness, and knows how to report activity that is suspicious or is an anomaly for normal behavior,” Downing said.

Venues and venue operators from around Europe were scheduled to attend E3S, including Live Nation, AEG Presents, SMG Europe, SEC, Ahoy Rotterdam, SSE Hydro, AECC Aberdeen, Arena Birmingham, The O2 Arena, Forest National, Telenor Arena, Sportpaleis Group and Manchester Arena.

“Almost 100 percent of the conference program relates to venues,” said Parmley, “from learning transferable lessons across different sectors to in-house training and the development of common venue security standards.”

“It’s the same with our schedule of presentations, which range from facial recognition and high footfall screening, to drones and dynamic lockdown procedures,” he said.

When talking to Europe’s live event professionals these days, it emerges that although severe weather poses a far greater threat to open-air events than terrorism, it is the latter that takes up most of the discussions around safety and security.

This does not surprise Kemp: “When a new flavor of the month appears, people tend to dwell upon it and this takes the focus away from a balanced security and safety provision. We of course always try to bring people back to this balance, but sometimes some topics are too hot and it is difficult to reduce their impact."

According to Downing, “if you prepare and plan for what could happen if your event or venue is a target of a terrorist attack, then you are preparing for any threat, manmade or natural disaster/crisis. It’s not one or the other.”

Which is why he aims to create what he describes as “a culture of 'first preventers,'” where patrons, venue operators, agents, managers and artists are trained and oriented to respond to virtually anything.

“When you have this level of confidence baked into the culture, and you have developed the playbooks for any crisis; trained with the state, local, federal partners through tabletop exercises; and mitigate all security gaps and vulnerabilities, then you have developed a resilient enterprise,” he said.

Many of the professionals required to devise such a playbook are present at E3S. From government departments to security specialists to police and security forces, a “wider range of voices (will be) represented,” Parmley said.

Kemp added, “At many conferences we become too insular, but with health and safety it is different because we all need the knowledge of how to survive in an environment which can become hostile very quickly. This is why people share, people learn and people become critical friends to each other.”

“It has been said that it takes a network to defeat a network,” Downing said. “We have a diffused, decentralized adversary intent on inflicting harm to innocent civilians and targeting soft targets.

“Our ‘hybrid’ network must be informed, nimble, and evolve faster than the adversary. We must be more willing to integrate state-of-the-art technologies, and more open to fostering organizational cultures that adapt quickly, surge when needed, and have in place organic security plans and protocols that are never considered to be in final form.”

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Posted: 27 Oct 2018, 1:00 pm

After a fatal bus crash in April, the arena complex in Humboldt, Saskatchewan, became a place for grieving and for healing. (Getty Images)

Arenas play host to concerts, family shows and monster truck rallies day in and day out. It’s typically where a city’s residents go to be entertained, to enjoy a night of pleasant distraction. Sometimes, though, it’s also shelter from a storm, or somewhere where they can feel a bit closer to their neighbors in troubling times.

From sheltering residents during hurricanes to hosting high school graduations and post-school shooting town halls, arenas have taken on new roles lately, serving as a hub for communities in times of need, urgency and confusion.

Disaster Drills, Hurricane Shelter and Advocacy
Community is at the heart of the Florida Panthers’ mission, so when the NHL team’s neighbors are in need, the doors to the Broward County-owned BB&T Center in Sunrise are always open.

“It starts with our ownership, which has instilled in us that the most important thing is to be an involved part of the community, and I wouldn’t have a job if I didn’t buy into that,” said BB&T General Manager Adam Fullerton of Panthers owner Vincent Viola’s marching orders to his team. Case in point: When Hurricane Irma blew through in August 2017, Panthers President and CEO Matt Caldwell didn’t hesitate to hand the building over to provide whatever was necessary to help out.

“It’s part of our DNA, so in the days leading up to Irma, Florida Power & Light called and we’ve had an agreement where they can stage vehicles in our parking lot, but never have we had one where they wanted to prestage personnel in our lot [before a storm],” said Fullerton. With personnel coming in from as far away as Texas — where they had been battling Hurricane Harvey — and electrical contractors arriving from out of state, the venue prestaged responders in BB&T’s 1 million-square-foot, 8,000-space parking lot. Fullerton’s team initially agreed to host 50 to 100 workers so that they could be ready as soon as the hurricane passed. But that total rose to more than 2,500, who slept on cots that were lined up along the building’s concourses, with telephone pole and electrical crews running their dispatch center from inside BB&T’s offices.

“We do it because it’s the right thing to do,” said Fullerton. In addition, BB&T has stored Broward County Police Department helicopters in its covered garage space, where it also offered up spots for the local police force’s mounted horse unit during Irma. BB&T, which sits on 127 acres, also has an agreement with the county to store Federal Emergency Management Agency supplies during emergencies and serve as a county staging area and distribution center for supplies. During those emergencies — which BB&T has rehearsed for — tractor-trailers would roll in with supplies, volunteers would unload the goods and repack them onto pods so they could be taken to local city distribution centers.

BBT_Center_-_Florida_Panthers.jpgHurricane responders are allowed to prestage at the home of the NHL’s Florida Panthers, BB&T Center in Sunrise (Courtesy Florida Panthers)

Because the area around BB&T didn’t sustain major damage from Irma, afterward a lot of residents were without power, so the venue teamed with JetBlue to provide hot meals, gathering around two dozen food trucks in the parking lot to provide meals for 10,000 local residents a day. When Irma switched directions and didn’t hit the east coast of the state, BB&T teamed with partner Ford to pack up more than two dozen vehicles to shuttle a huge amount of stockpiled supplies to run a convoy to Key West, hitting five distribution sites along the way. “Ford supplemented some of the costs, donating some of their vehicles, but we used my landscaping vehicles, my box trucks and the labor it took to pack up those trucks. (It) was a cost we ate to do the right thing,” Fullerton said.

After a January 2017 shooting at the Fort Lauderdale Airport, 15 miles down the road, Fullerton met with local authorities to put together a plan to house victims of future such events at BB&T. “Since these events a lot of people have called to ask, and under the right conditions our doors are always open,” he said, stressing that as a county facility it is part of the arena’s charter to lend a hand in times of need.

The venue was also home to another vital community gathering in February after the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, about 15 miles north of the arena. “A lot of employees here have kids who attend that school — including our assistant general manager and some of the Panthers players — so we started talking with the school leadership about doing something, and when CNN calls you answer,” he said of the live televised event, which featured discussions involving some of the students, the victims’ families and local politicians.

Confident that they had the capacity to hold the high-profile event and turn it around in a short amount of time in a building that can scale quickly from hockey arena to host for county commission meetings, Fullerton and his team jumped to work on an evening they knew would be a rallying point for the community devastated by the 17 lives lost in the shooting.

As with any fast-moving event, the plan “changed 100 times” from the first phone call to execution just a few days later, growing from a few hundred to several thousand as the cameras clicked on Feb. 22. Security was a concern, Fullerton said, because of the intimate nature of the event. The Broward County Sheriff’s Department had a strong presence, along with volunteers, undercover officers and an enhanced security detail filled out by city and county officers.

And while the event was not strictly pro bono — there were costs for staffing — the building waived some costs that would normally not be set aside, with many of the details worked out after the fact.

“It was put together very quickly and rather than worry about the finances we wanted to do it correctly and make it a great event,” he said, noting that rental fees were reduced and CNN picked up staffing costs. A few months later BB&T management insisted on holding the Marjory Stoneman graduation ceremony in what he said was “not the normal deal either,” in order to ensure the students had a “class A” event.

Shelter in place was also on the mind of Ron Rideout, GM of the Spectra-managed Donald L. Tucker Civic Center at Florida State University in Tallahassee, recently because of the widespread devastation of Hurricane Michael. The university-owned building (which also provided shelter for those escaping 2017’s Irma) offered up space for students and faculty during Michael beginning on Oct. 9 before the Category 4 storm shredded the Florida Panhandle, providing a safe refuge for about  200 through Thursday morning when the all clear went out.

“We provided some light meals on those days, had movies playing, some games and activities to keep people’s minds off what was going on,” said Rideout. Once the storm had passed, the building opened its doors to about 400 utility workers who had been sleeping overnight on air mattresses in the civic center’s exhibit hall. 

Graduations, EMT Drills, Movie Nights
With just 18 home basketball games a season, Cincinnati’s Xavier University has dates to fill on the calendar of its 10,000-capacity Cintas Center. Among the most frequent events are local high school graduations, which serve a double purpose for the Jesuit institution of higher learning, according to Michael Riesenbeck, director of events and operations.

“We’ve been doing graduations almost as long as we’ve been open — 18 years — and it’s a great chance to expose the building to a group of people who may not have been with us before and it’s also a chance to get high-school-age kids on campus,” he said, noting that Xavier is open to the opportunity regardless of whether that leads to them or their siblings attending Xavier down the road. Cintas hosted 34 graduations in 2018 for all of the city’s public high schools, including the school’s own graduate and undergraduate celebrations. And while it’s not a booking that Xavier actively markets, it is a boon because it helps keep the lights on when the men’s and women’s basketball teams aren’t playing home games.

As a Jesuit school, Riesenbeck says Xavier’s overarching mission is to be “men and women for others,” which factors into all the decisions he makes. “We do offer discounts every day for nonprofit groups, which is our standard policy since we opened. And while it hasn’t happened for a while, Xavier also has an agreement with the city of Cincinnati to serve as a distribution point for large-scale disaster drills.

Because the Greek Theatre is owned by the city of Los Angeles, the goal has always been to make it as accessible as possible to citizens, nonprofits and other non-entertainment entities. Though it’s primarily used for live events, it has opened its doors to neighborhood John Marshall High School for more than 40 years for graduation ceremonies. Word has spread, however, and this year the venue hosted three graduations, said General Manager Becky Colwell, including one for another local high school and another for a community college. “The graduations are typically all in the same week, so if we can do it, we do, but it’s harder to do it when we have a lot of concerts going on,” Colwell said. While the graduations are free, tickets need to be distributed for capacity control reasons.

Though the SMG-managed venue hasn’t hosted one in several years, it has also been the site of training drills for local fire, EMT and hazmat crews in the past, which makes sense since the Greek invites fire departments and rangers to an annual luncheon in the venue as a thank you for their service; those events do not come with a rental charge, but do require payment for expenses and staffing. Colwell said her team also recently did a walk-through of the venue with city commissioners who want to have a holiday reception for all their fellow city officials in the Greek’s hospitality space; that event would run a “nominal fee” on top of the city picking up any catering and staffing expenses.

The Greek also makes that hospitality space available for cultural and nonprofit groups at their nonprofit rate. One of the most exciting non-traditional uses of the Greek is a partnership with Fandango for community movie nights in which the venue works with the parks and rec department to bring in 10 to 15 high school students a year to shadow the Greek’s stage crew as they learn about electric, carpentry, props, ticketing and sound.

For the past three years, the rec departments have helped the Greek identify students — this year it was a group from South Los Angeles — who are then bused to the venue, given a souvenir T-shirt, lunch and an invitation to come back for the movie night. “It’s a partnership between us and the city and a way for us to give back,” she said. “We’re an amazing venue, but we’re just one part of Los Angeles and the general manager of the rec and parks department wants it to be accessible to the whole city.

“It’s an opportunity to learn about a career that you don’t need to go to college for, which the unions like because it encourages the kids to learn a trade.”

A Crash Unites A Community
When the unimaginable happened in April, the residents of Humboldt, Saskatchewan, came together to mourn 15 young people killed when a bus carrying the Humboldt Broncos, a youth hockey team, was crushed by a semitrailer. An all-hands-on-deck effort turned the Elgar Petersen Arena, the team’s 1,840-capacity home arena, into a gathering point within hours of the horrific crash.

“When we initially heard about it, the mayor, city manager and fire chief gathered at City Hall to find out what’s going on and they all decided to regroup and call the rest of us into the multipurpose room at the multiplex to create an EMO (emergency management office) and get our ducks in a row,” said Penny Lee, communications manager for the city, who estimated that it took “maybe 45 minutes” to get everyone in the room.

“It’s quite amazing when you look back on it,” she said.

Humboldt_arena_memorial_-_Getty.jpgMemorials left on the arena ice honored the victims of the Humboldt Broncos junior hockey bus crash. (Getty Images)

At the Humboldt Uniplex and Convention Centre, home to the arena and the room that housed the EMO, Jubilee Hall was set up on the first night as a gathering place for residents seeking mental health support and a place to wait for further details. The doors to the room, which has a capacity of 350 and is typically reserved for dance recitals and weddings,  remained open all night. Jubilee Hall was turned into the media center in the aftermath of the crash. The room, which has a capacity of 350, is typically reserved for dance recitals and weddings. A meeting hall next door became a media center.

Just two nights after the April 6 crash, about 4,000 of the town’s 6,000 residents crowded into the arena for a vigil, with feeds also set up in an adjacent curling rink for the overflow crowd.
The city-owned facility waived all costs and beefed up security to accommodate Premier Justin Trudeau and other dignitaries in the building, which had never been used in such a capacity before.

The all-hands effort involved a combination of 85 staffers — including Humboldt city public works and administration staffers — with everyone volunteering their time.

“We obviously canceled everything else [we had booked for that weekend] and we ended up leaving the ice in longer than we normally would because of sentimental reasons and emotional support,” Lee said.

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Posted: 27 Oct 2018, 1:00 pm

Kim Bedier was recently named Executive of the Year by the International Entertainment Buyers Association. (Jeff Hobson)

Tacoma dome is 35 years old this year, but what the people of Tacoma are really celebrating is the $31 million renovation that the venue has undergone.

Opened in 1983 at a cost of $44 million, the entertainment center is getting its first major renovation.

"In 2008 we put one of the largest rigs in the world into our ceiling but other than that nothing has been done at all," said Kim Bedier, director for Tacoma Venues and Events for the city of Tacoma, Wash. "We had original seating, original signage, original restrooms. … I think there were machines in here that still used floppy disks," she said, laughing.

Bedier, who arrived in Tacoma six years ago, said she could live with outdated surroundings, but she could not live with the old-fashioned wood and aluminum football-stadium-style seating, which the dome had to move in and move out for each concert with forklifts and store in the parking lot between shows. Bedier made it her mission to replace the seats.

"We're charging people a lot of money to come here, so the least we could do is provide them with comfortable seats to sit in," Bedier said. "We needed an infusion of cash. Luckily, the city agreed."

The renovation started in June, as soon as the last graduation ceremony had finished, and the building closed for the summer. "We do about 27 graduations a year here," Bedier said. "The amount of people who can say they graduated at the dome is staggering."

Using heavy machinery, the Irwin Seating Co. took away the old seats and brought them to the parking lot one last time — but instead of being stored, this time the time-worn seats, with countless stories and secrets, were scrapped, loaded into trucks, hauled away and recycled.

When work is completed, there will 22,500 individual seats, Bedier said, up from the current 19,000.

The permanent seating brings another bonus: extra parking space where the seats were once stored. "This frees up about 100 parking spots," she said.

Concurrent with the seat swap, three key projects are also part of the Tacoma Dome renovation story.

Externally, a pair of much-needed loading docks are being installed. "We never had loading docks," Bedier said. "That meant that load-in and load-out were pretty intensive and time consuming. We'll be saving money and time, for sure."

Also getting a major makeover is the backstage area, now reserved as the artist's quarters.

"There were staff rooms and other rooms, but it was all old and creaky," Bedier said. "We've completely reimagined the space, and it will now be very private, with private entrances, that we think our guest artists will love."

"When people travel night to night, they often don't know where they are. We want to make sure the artists have a great experience here and remember exactly where they are — and want to come back."

The last piece of the puzzle will be new restrooms — lots of them. In fact, there will be 300 percent more restrooms for the fans.

"Patron and artist comfort were our main goals and we think we've hit the nail on the head for both," Bedier said. "The fans and artists will really notice the changes. This will also go a long way in staying competitive with the other venues nearby."

Together, the new artists quarters and new restrooms have added more than 15,000 square feet to the dome.

Cladding on more than 10,000 square feet of exterior wall surface was also part of the plan, as was modifying eight entrances.

Tacoma's mayor, Victoria Woodards, is in the 10th month of her first term. She was on the City Council for seven years, during the time when the funds were committed to the dome renovations.

"Tacoma Dome is an iconic landmark, and people know they've hit Tacoma when they hit the dome," Woodards said.

"The building is so important to the community. Not only do we get premier entertainment, but there's also the trade shows, athletic events, community events and the graduations, of course. That building really ties the community together."

Woodards, who attended high school locally, said she was "this close" to being one of the first to graduate in the building, but it was not completed in time. “I so wanted to be in the first class to graduate from the dome," she said.

Regardless, Woodards still has a “life moment” memory from the Dome: She saw her first concert ever at the dome, Whitney Houston. "I sat in the second row, in the center, and it was a thrilling night," she said.

Tacoma_Dome_-_Tacoma_Dome.jpgTacoma Dome will unveil its $31 million renovation Nov. 1 with a concert by Drake. (Courtesy Tacoma Dome)

"The renovations are huge," she said. "The permanent seats alone will save so much time and money and staff hassle."

Jeff Trisler has been president of Live Nation Northwest for the last 11 years. He has  been programming Tacoma Dome for 30 years.

"As a fan I was at the very first show at the dome with David Bowie in 1983," Trisler said. "Later that month I saw The Police, then Tom Petty. In 1984, Bruce Springsteen played two shows."

Trisler's first show as an employee was working concessions in 1987 for a Boston show.
"I sold T-shirts," he recalled.

Selling Tacoma Dome to promoters and artists has been easy — at 22,500 seats, it's the largest indoor venue in the state.

"But, the dome was in desperate need of a face-lift," Trisler said. "Fortunately, the city was wise enough to hire Kim Bedier; she brought in Tom Alexander, who has been a fabulous manager of the venue."

Trisler is most excited about the new artist's quarters. "For 36 years the acts have had to walk down the hallway to get onstage," he said. "Now there are first-class dressing rooms, and the artists have direct access to the stage."

Trisler said his most interesting experience at the Dome was when Bruce Springsteen got sick.

"It had nothing to do with the dome," Trisler recalled. "But Springsteen later said he never forgot 'the aroma of Tacoma.'"

Tom Alexander has been the booking manager at the dome for the last five years. He programs about 80 events a year there. 

"The two new loading docks will speed up the process and make our building much more friendly," he said. "Being able to load from the dock to the stage will be so much more efficient. It's a good selling point."

Alexander's most memorable event was having Roger Waters play the house. Ozzy Osbourne and Black Sabbath was a close second.

Alexander said that "getting out in front of things" was the key to avoiding day-of-show disasters. "We try to predict the pain points and address them ahead of time," he said, recalling when the dome installed new metal detectors in 2016 and they made a concerted effort to let the community know ahead of time, so they would not be surprised.

Tacoma Dome’s reopening Nov. 1 kicks off a big couple of weeks with a concert by Drake. The rap superstar will be followed in quick succession by Joe Walsh's Vet Aid, which features James Taylor and Ringo Starr; Justin Timberlake; Twenty One Pilots; Fleetwood Mac; Excision, an EDM show; and the Trans-Siberian Orchestra.

Beyond all those concerts are the graduations. "We are a concert-only facility," Bedier said. "We have no sports tenant, and we're satisfied with hosting high school graduations and other high school events. This way we get to mean all things to all people, and we do a really good job at that."

Sticking to her mission, Bedier said that her very best memory of a day at the dome was when "they started to install the seats."

Her worst day was when construction on the freeway that is adjacent to the dome ground to a halt. "It was like a parking lot on the freeway for hours one day, and they closed off bridges, and it was always a possibility that the show that day would either play to an empty house or wait till the fans got off the roads. In the end, it all worked out and the show went on."

Bedier and her staff used the summer downtime to "finally take real summer vacations.
We've never had that opportunity," she said.

With the renovations almost complete, Bedier is happy to get back to business.

"We're so excited to see the fan and artist reaction to the renovations," she said.

"It looks great, the seats are super comfortable, and then there's three times the bathroom space. It's like this 36-year-old building has a whole, new life in it."

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Posted: 27 Oct 2018, 1:00 pm

When it comes to the offer stage of the hiring process, the heavy lifting is done, yet we’ve seen it all. We’ve had candidates sign offers and establish a start date, then not get on a plane the night before their first day. Verbal and written offers have also evolved to text message offers. Regardless, the standards remain the same.

1. Be honest. Talk truthfully about where you stand; using hyperbole to discuss your expectations could create distrust with your new employer. Have conversations with your family. Are they aware of the time needed to commit to opening a new building, turning around a venue or the long days/nights?
2. Be prepared. Are your “asks” valid and rational? What are your nonnegotiables and what can you let go of? Just like creating budgets for a show/event, create a budget for your expectations.

1.  Expect a counter. Could be title, start date, compensation, but expect it. If the candidate is someone who will be negotiating with a labor union, agent, supplier, vendor, or artist manager, don’t you want someone who has this critical skill set?
2. Communicate directly with the candidate. Use your executive search firm partner or HR team as you see fit at the final stages of “closing”; we are involved with each step of the process, but we realize that, as a middle man, we may hinder talks as offers are extended/accepted.

Secure your next role or new hire just as you would a major touring act.

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Posted: 27 Oct 2018, 12:35 pm

Bradley Cooper, as Jackson Maine, performs at Glastonbury in 2017 for “A Star Is Born.” (Courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures)

The beauty of Bradley Cooper’s fourth iteration of the durable Hollywood myth of “A Star Is Born” lies in the concert performances and narrative, which is reminiscent of Robert Altman’s 1975 masterpiece “Nashville.”

Shot in a variety of locations — hitting the stage at Stagecoach and Glastonbury between acts, commandeering such legendary venues as the Greek and Shrine in Los Angeles, and filming at Coachella between Lady Gaga’s weekend gigs — director and co-star Cooper was intent on recording and using live vocals in the movie.

“Obviously, doing sound for a concert is a lot different than for a movie about a concert,” said Steve Morrow, the Oscar-nominated sound mixer (“La La Land”) and location recordist on the film. “It was a bit of trial by fire.”

Incorporating a technology known as Impulse Response, which maps the acoustic and sonic architecture in each concert venue through algorithms, Morrow and music editor/re-recording mixer Jason Ruder were able to capture the particular reverb and quality of each live performance where it actually took place. For Coachella, that means the voice sounds as if it’s echoing off the surrounding mountains.

“The live concerts added a whole new challenge to the filming,” said Ruder. “We learned how effective those live vocals can be with all their imperfections. It makes them more human, more natural.”

Despite the multiple locations, the live performances were shot in full screen close-ups that recall Martin Scorsese’s stylized takes in “The Last Waltz,” which rarely included audience reaction, keeping the intimacy of the romantic narrative.

“We’re telling a story here, and it just so happens to play out while they’re performing a song,” said editor Jay Cassidy, a three-time Oscar nominee who received two of those working with Bradley Cooper on David O. Russell’s “Silver Linings Playbook” and “American Hustle.”

“Bradley only wanted to shoot the concerts from the stage, to be right up there with the singers in a way the audience never gets to see. He wanted us to feel what the performer was feeling, not the crowd’s reaction.  None of the concerts were filmed in the traditional multicamera way. We used only one, two or, tops, three at any one time.”

For their shoot at the Greek, Lady Gaga brought in about a thousand of her fans, known as the Little Monsters, to sit in the audience during the scene in which Bradley Cooper’s Jack brings her on-stage to join him on “Shallow.”

“You want to focus on their reactions,” Cassidy said. “Lady Gaga is hesitant at first, and then watching her confidence grow over the course of the song until she belts out the final verse.  And any cuts are just to Bradley as her biggest fan, beaming at her performance.”

The movie’s opening scene, featuring the grinding, guitar-rock “Black Eyes,” performed by Cooper’s character, Jackson Maine, and his band, was shot at Stagecoach in eight minutes, between sets by Jamey Johnson and Willie Nelson. (While “A Star Is Born” is a production of the new Live Nation Productions banner, film producer Bill Gerber turned to AEG’s president of global touring and talent, Gary Gersh, a junior high classmate, to get clearance for both the Stagecoach and Coachella shoots.)

Though the vocals were only coming out of the on-stage monitors and were kept off the main PA system, the audience cheered wildly when they saw Cooper on stage, just as they did at Glastonbury. At the venerable U.K. festival, shot in Pilton, England, in July 2017 on the historic Pyramid Stage, Bradley had four minutes to shoot parts of three songs, including a full band version of the Jason Isbell tune “Maybe It’s Time” with sidekicks Lukas Nelson and Promise of the Real (who play his backup group in the film), which Cooper performs acoustically earlier in the film. And he got to introduce the next act, Kris Kristofferson, who played his part opposite Barbra Streisand in the 1976 iteration.

Star_Is_Born_Cooper_-_Warner_Bros._Pictures_.jpegIn addition to starring in the film, Cooper was also the director. (Courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures)

Aside from Isbell and Lukas Nelson, who co-wrote many of the Jackson Maine songs with Cooper, other tracks were penned by top songwriters such as Diane Warren.

Some of the film’s other locations were the Shrine Auditorium — another AEG house — a venue which has hosted 15 Grammy Award shows (the last in 1999 before Staples Center opened later that year) and served as the scene for the fictional one in which Bradley’s Jackson Maine breaks down on stage during a Roy Orbison tribute. Lady Gaga’s climactic version of “I’ll Never Love Again” was also filmed at the historic hall, a nod to Judy Garland’s performance of “The Man That Got Away” at the same site for the 1954 version of “A Star Is Born.”

“The Shrine was the perfect spot for that Lady Gaga song,” said sound mixer Morrow. “It was the first time we played the vocals over the PA for the audience.”

Other familiar locations in the film included The Virgil, a club on Santa Monica Boulevard in East Hollywood that doubled as the drag bar Bleu Blue for Lady Gaga’s memorable take on “La Vie En Rose” and Cooper’s acoustic “Maybe It’s Time.” Several scenes were shot with Lady Gaga alone at the piano at the Forum over two August nights in 2017 during her scheduled shows there. The IHeartRadio scenes were shot at the Regent Theater in downtown Los Angeles, while the “Saturday Night Live” segment took place on the actual set of the show. 

While “A Star Is Born” took great care in its location shoots, the focus was on emotional truth rather than geography, trying to put the viewer in its characters’ shoes, both on stage and off.

“Performers see the audience as this big, backlit blur, staring into these bright stage lights” said editor Cassidy. “Every venue looks the same. We weren’t making a concert film or a music video. We didn’t want the songs to be set pieces that simply stop the story in its tracks. We wanted them to flow with the dynamic between Jack and Ally off the stage.”

In the end, “A Star Is Born” depends on its central relationship, with the songs deepening the bond between these two compelling characters. “That’s the primal guiding force in any editing decisions,” said Cassidy.

Those big closeups and the songs tell the story. And while the locations are authentic — palm trees swaying in the breeze on the Empire Polo Club and the  multitude of flags and banners which dot the Glastonbury crowd,  that’s all window dressing to the reality of the live vocals and the interaction between the two stars.

“People aren’t interested in seeing individual venues or concert halls,” said Cassidy. “They go there to see who’s performing.”

Like Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga.  Two stars are born before our eyes at each stage along the way.

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Posted: 27 Oct 2018, 12:00 pm

For bands like U2, which perform mostly their own songs, money would shift from promoters to them. (Getty Images)

Songwriters, as repped by one of the primary performance rights organizations, are seeking a sixfold increase in the royalty rate for the performances of their songs at venues. In a business with profit margins both wide and small, this litigation if successful could radically change the live business model as we know it and transfer hundreds of millions of dollars from venues to songwriters and possibly spell the end for some businesses.

On Sept. 24, BMI, one of the two largest collection societies in the United States, filed a petition with the U.S. District Court in the Southern District of New York —the rate court that hears litigation between BMI and its licensees. BMI seeks 1.15 percent of revenue from  the North American Concert Promoters Association members, over six times greater than the 0.19 percent of revenue venues now pay, and wants the rate to apply to sales beyond tickets.

The attorney representing NACPA called BMI’s request a “massive unprecedented and unjustified increase in the royalty rate” from its members. “BMI’s rate proposal is patently unreasonable,” Benjamin Marks, a partner at Weil, Gotshal & Manges, said in a statement to VenuesNow. “NACPA members are committed to paying a reasonable and fair rate for the use of all compositions, and the BMI rate court exists to ensure that NACPA members and other licensees have access to BMI’s repertoire at a reasonable rate.”

Of course, BMI’s petition is merely an opening salvo. NACPA will have its say in court. The court’s judge, Louis Stanton, may not give BMI anything close to its desired rate — or any increase. Stanton may not allow BMI’s royalties to be based on anything but primary ticket sales. And BMI and NACPA may reach an agreement out of court. 

But venues and promoters would take a financial hit if BMI were given its desired raise. Using BMI’s estimated value of $10.5 billion for the U.S. concert industry, the proposed rate would give BMI $121 million annually. For context, BMI’s domestic revenue for its 2018 fiscal year (ended June 30) was $880 million.

A concert with a $6.7 million gross — the average on U2’s tour over the last 36 months according to Pollstar box office — would see its rates to BMI jump from $13,000 to $77,000. Assuming ancillary revenues (merchandise, food, and beverage) are an estimated $25 per head, BMI’s take would grow to $94,000. Since U2 performs mostly its own songs, the rate increase would shift money from the promoter to the band.

Ticket buyers would also take a hit. The $116.59 average ticket price on U2’s tour would increase $1.20 if BMI’s desired rate were passed along to ticket buyers. Add roughly 25 percent for ancillary revenues and a ticket price climbs another 28 cents. A music festival’s high ticket price would experience an even larger increase. Coachella’s top ticket price, $899, would increase about $8.60—and that doesn’t include the sponsorships and advertising common at festivals.

BMI arrived at its requested royalty rate using international PROs as a benchmark. PRS For Music in the U.K. charges venues 4 percent of ticket sales while SOCAN, the collection society for songwriters and publishers in Canada, collects a 3 percent royalty. Both PRS and SOCAN are the sole PROs in their markets while BMI has nearly half the U.S. market. The petition also says the “higher share-adjusted” rates of two privately owned PROs, SESAC and Global Music Rights, should also be considered benchmarks. The petition does not mention SESAC’s and GMR’s rates, however.

Performance royalties can be confusing — especially for BMI and ASCAP. First, venues must acquire blanket licenses from performing rights organizations to play any song in their repertoires. In turn, BMI and ASCAP, due to arcane, 77-year-old consent decrees each PRO has with the U.S. Department of Justice, must fulfill any request for a license. (The DOJ will not allow ASCAP or BMI to hold companies hostage by withholding their repertoires over a rate disagreement.) But if the PRO and licensee do not come to terms, the wheels need not come to a halt. Instead, the parties take the matter to court. In the meantime, the licensee operates under an interim license.

NACPA members have been in this interim licensing no man’s land for four years. (BMI seeks retroactive payments from Jan. 1, 2014, through June 30, 2018, ranging from 0.15 to 0.8 percent depending on the size of the venue.) BMI is addressing NACPA only now because it prioritized its licensing agreements with streaming services. “Rate court is an expensive proposition and not something we take lightly,” BMI told VenuesNow.

A handful of forces are driving BMI’s opening demand in what could become a lengthy battle. Changes in technology impacted how songwriters make a living. Digital downloads first replaced CD sales. Recorded music sales plummeted as consumers switched from buying albums to picking and choosing songs from albums. Album sales were good to songwriters: each track on a CD, not just the popular singles, received a mechanical royalty, usually 9.1 cents. A hit album would sell millions of units and result in hundreds of thousands of dollars for the songwriter of each track. With the advent of iTunes’ U.S. launch in 2003, consumers could purchase a single track from an album; songwriters of the less popular tracks would get fewer mechanical royalties. The trend continues with streaming. Songwriters receive a small portion of a cent for each stream on services such as Spotify and Pandora. Songwriters continue to collect revenue, however, for performances on broadcast radio and the use of their songs in television shows, movies, advertisements, and other audio/visual works.

Taking into account the sea change of music listening, BMI argued 0.19 percent is an artificially low rate. For years, BMI said, songwriters accepted a small royalty fee because concert attendance drove purchases of physical copies of albums or singles. (For decades, record labels used the same rationale for the lack of a performance right for broadcast radio. Now, labels’ desire for AM/FM royalties has run into a nearly immovable object, the U.S. radio lobby.) In good times, mechanical royalties paid to music publishers from CD sales provided subsistence to songwriters. Now, BMI argued, the trade-off is no longer equitable because album sales have declined “so dramatically.”

Oddly, BMI doesn’t mention the digital albums and singles that also pay mechanical royalties. Nor does the petition note that streaming services, which have led to 30 percent record industry growth since reaching a bottom in 2015, pay both mechanical and performance royalties. Paid music services like Spotify are record labels’ most significant revenue source. Album and track sales are losing a fifth of their value each year. BMI understates the severity of the revenue decline: The petition says revenue has “declined sharply over the last decade.” While BMI is correct, album sales began falling well before 2008. Record industry revenues peaked in 2000 and had dropped 54 percent through 2017.

Consolidation in the concert business is another factor behind BMI’s request. The amount a licensee pays has two variables: the royalty rate and the relevant income. NACPA would probably argue BMI’s rate would apply only to primary ticket sales. But BMI has asked the court to apply the royalty rate to the broadest possible definition of performance-related revenue: primary and secondary ticketing sales, sponsorships, parking, merchandise, and other revenue streams not directly related to the performances. In effect, BMI argues the songwriters should capture all downstream revenue because, as the saying goes, it all starts with a song.

BMI stops short of mentioning Live Nation by name. But any modern day, vertically integrated live music business goes well beyond ticket sales. Many promoters have evolved multi-day festivals beyond a one-size-fits-all experience to add VIP experiences with upscale, on-site lodging and preferred seating areas. Some festivals, like the BottleRock Napa Valley festival in Northern California’s wine country, integrate local food and wine into the concert experience. But for its part, BMI has argued new business models deserve a new look in rate court.

“The industry has evolved, and these additional revenue streams relate to the music that is being performed,” BMI said in a statement. Again pointing to foreign PROs, BMI told VenuesNow that “additional revenue streams are captured in the rates paid by NACPA members promoting shows in the U.K., for example. BMI’s fee, even at the increased rate, is a minuscule portion of total revenues.”

The timing of the petition is notable. Songwriters and music publishers received a win when President Trump signed the Music Modernization Act on Oct. 11. The MMA includes a provision that will change — in songwriters’ favor — how royalty rates are set by the Copyright Royalty Board, a three-judge panel housed in the Library of Congress. As a result, songwriters are going to see a bump in their royalty rates. The MMA also calls for cases before the ASCAP and BMI rate courts to be rotated between different federal judges. Until now, Stanton is the sole judge to hear lawsuits between BMI and a licensee. By filing before the MMA’s passage, BMI gains certainty the petition goes before Stanton and not a less favorable judge.

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Posted: 27 Oct 2018, 12:00 pm

The Durham Performing Arts Center in Durham, N.C., is celebrating its 10th anniversary.(HuthPhoto)

The Durham Performing Arts Center has made the most of its shot.

The venue in October won the International Entertainment Buyers Association Theater of the Year for 2018 in its first nomination for the prestigious award. The prize came just weeks before the venue turns 10 and celebrates its first decade with the biggest show in the land, “Hamilton,” playing the DPAC stage.

The recognition is the culmination of big dreams and execution for a building punching well above its weight class. DPAC has also been instrumental in helping to revitalize the city’s once downtrodden downtown.

“It has become the crown jewel of Durham,” said Reginald Johnson, director of the city of Durham’s Department of Community Development, who serves as the city’s liaison to DPAC.

He has been involved with the theater since it was on the drawing board and revised from the original big box theater concept to a performing arts center focused more on Broadway productions.

Johnson says that decision and DPAC’s effect on the community both exceeded expectations: “We’re very proud because (DPAC) received the Theater of the Year Award, but most important for us it has caused a lot of pride in our community.”

Life For Downtown
Downtown Durham was not a leading contender for Broadway or fine dining when the city opened the 2,700-seat facility in the teeth of the Great Recession in November 2008. But 10 years later, the theater has more than tripled its season ticket holders, exceeding 18,000 for the eight-show SunTrust Broadway at DPAC series (officials say they had 15,000 plus season pass holders before this “Hamilton” season). DPAC anchored the downtown renaissance with Durham Bulls Athletic Park, a minor league baseball venue which opened in 1995.

“When I first came here, downtown was a ghost town at 5 p.m. Now you can hardly find a parking place,” recalls Johnson, adding, “It’s nothing for the Bulls to have a sellout, DPAC to have a sellout, and the (city-owned) Carolina Theatre to have a sellout. They’re all within walking distance of each other.”

“We’re part of a fabric that has made downtown super hip, cool, eclectic, accessible,” said Bob Klaus, DPAC’s general manager. “There are tremendous restaurants and hotels and things to do before and after live events, but when we first opened, there were eight restaurants in downtown Durham and now there are 58. I wouldn’t take credit for all of those new ones, but it’s incredible to be a part of it.”

The business community has embraced DPAC. Johnson says several downtown businesses told him in the spring of 2009 that they likely wouldn’t have made it through the economic downturn if it hadn’t been for DPAC attracting patrons to the area.

DPAC_interior_-_HuthPhoto.jpgThe view from the stage at DPAC. (HuthPhoto)

SunTrust Bank signed on as the first major sponsor before the doors opened in 2008. Other sponsors include Blue Cross-Blue Shield of NC, Delta Air Lines, Durham Coca-Cola, and Massage Envy. Johnson Lexus sponsors the premium President’s Club, which now includes more than 1,000 members.

The venue reported a record 130 sellouts in 2017 and its second-best annual attendance after the 2015-16 season that featured “The Lion King.” “Hamilton’s” monthlong run is expected to set new records for the venue.

DPAC expects to host its 4 millionth visitor this month. The theater sponsored a contest for the community to honor the individual with dinner, two premium club access tickets to “Hamilton,” a one-night hotel stay and an invitation to the DPAC cast party for the show’s actors and crew.

Klaus, who was with SFX/Clear Channel and consulted on the DPAC project before being hired as its first employee, says the facility benefits from a partnership with New York-based Nederlander and Professional Facilities Management of Rhode Island. These connections help route Broadway shows to Durham quickly and before they reach other regional markets.

The partnership and a bit of serendipity helped DPAC aptly score “Hamilton” to celebrate the theater’s first decade. “I’d like to say it was part of a great plan” but the timing was right, Klaus said.

From B.B. King to ‘Hamilton’
DPAC’s first-ever show was B.B. King and now “Hamilton” marks the 10th anniversary.
“It was a perfect way to open the building and to have this truly record-breaking, genre-busting Broadway blockbuster is pretty special,” Klaus said.

Klaus predicts “Hamilton” will sell every seat and set a new gross sales mark. Broadway remains DPAC’s bread and butter, accounting for about 50 percent of ticketed performance, but the building is aggressively booking other genres including live podcast shows, YouTube stars, music, comedy and family shows to offer “something for everyone,” he said.

Johnson, the Durham city official, said the theater recently replaced all 2,712 seats and carpeting to keep the facility fresh. Above and beyond the building and the Broadway bookings, DPAC banks on its secret weapon, southern hospitality, to keep making history.

“From day one we started out with the intention to be the friendliest, most guest-focused live entertainment venue in the country,” Klaus said. “We have a phenomenal guest service staff. People come for the first big show like ‘Wicked’ or ‘Hamilton,’ but they come back because we are so well known for a legendary guest experience.”

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Posted: 27 Oct 2018, 12:00 pm

The Arlington Backyard concert venue. (The Cordish Co.)

College football kicks off on Labor Day weekend, and in Arlington, Texas, it was a big holiday for Texas Live!

The entertainment district, a $250 million investment shared between Major League Baseball’s Texas Rangers and Baltimore developer The Cordish Cos., officially opened Aug. 9. It is tied to the Rangers’ new ballpark, Globe Life Field, scheduled to open nearby in 2020, but it has quickly established itself as a primary destination during football season.

Cordish runs Texas Live!, a mix of bars, restaurants and the Arlington Backyard, a true concert venue with capacity for 5,000 and a new element among Cordish’s family of Live! developments. And on Sept. 2, Cordish had a treat for LSU fans anticipating the next day’s LSU-Miami game down the street at AT&T Stadium.

To build excitement, Cordish booked the band Better Than Ezra to perform at the backyard. The national act, founded in Baton Rouge in 1988, gave Tiger Nation a rally point before LSU conquered the Hurricanes a day later.

In addition, the Rangers played the Twins in a Labor Day weekend series at Globe Life Park, the team’s current ballpark, which is next to Texas Live! Between baseball, the concert and the multiple college football games broadcast across the 200,000-square-foot district, there was a lot going on at Cordish’s newest sports-anchored development.

“That was a good day,” said Rob Matwick, the Rangers’ executive vice president of business operations. “It was pretty much nonstop from the time they opened the doors until they closed that night.”

Two weekends later, on Sept. 15, business was even better at Texas Live! for the TCU-Ohio State game, also played at AT&T Stadium, Matwick said. The Rangers were on the road but there were plenty of college football games on television leading up to the clash between the Horned Frogs and Buckeyes.

Sundays bring the NFL crowd, including fans who flock to the stadium to watch the Dallas Cowboys play.

Texas Live! comes 25 years after Cordish opened Power Plant Live in Baltimore, its first entertainment district, situated along the city’s Inner Harbor. Since then, the company has expanded the concept to sports, partnering with teams and municipalities to develop about a dozen mixed-use projects under the Live! brand. Cordish operates 10 Live! districts across the country.

“At its core, it’s creating an incredible experience and something that is vibrant 365 days a year and in its own right is a major draw and destination for the community,” said Reed Cordish, a company principal who rejoined the family business earlier this year after spending 12 months working for President Donald Trump as head of the Office of American Innovation. “They often become the most visited destination in their state, and are (among the top) Uber destinations, second only to the airport. They become a real calling card in that regard.”

Pudge_Rodriguez_-_Courtesy_Texas_Rangers.jpgRangers Hall of Famer Ivan Rodriguez of Pudge’s Pizza. (Courtesy Texas Rangers)

Similar to live! attractions in other markets, the Texas version features concepts branded for local star athletes. In Arlington, two restaurants are named for a pair of Hall of Famers: Pudge’s Pizza, named for former Rangers catcher Ivan Rodriguez, and Troy’s, named for ex-Cowboys quarterback Troy Aikman. Apart from the local athletes’ dining concepts, Texas Live! features the PBR Texas Cowboy Bar, branded for the Professional Bull Riders tour. The 7,000-square-foot bar is the ninth edition under the Live! banner and the biggest space to date under a partnership between Cordish and PBR, which is owned by Endeavor.

The Live! concept continues to draw interest across sports. For several years, teams building new stadiums and arenas have developed mixed use to create year-round activity and generate revenue outside their facilities. Cordish, by virtue of its track record as a real estate developer, has been at the forefront of the trend. The family-owned firm spans four generations dating to 1910, the year The Cordish Cos. was founded.

Sports-anchored developments are its specialty, with Live! districts connected to facilities for the Rangers, St. Louis Cardinals and Atlanta Braves. Xfinity Live! in Philadelphia replaced the old Spectrum arena at the South Philly Sports Complex. KC Live! sits across the street from Sprint Center in downtown Kansas City, Mo., and is part of the city’s Power & Light District.

In most cases, Cordish controls all aspects of development. Many teams prefer the Cordish model because the developer’s control and operation of all the venues gives teams greater confidence in their investment, compared with handing it to a third party they may not be familiar with, Reed Cordish said.

“In our view, they’re the right partner,” Matwick said. “It appears they have enhanced what they’ve done each time they start one of these projects.”

Texas Live! opened 10 years after former team owner Tom Hicks’ unsuccessful attempt to develop GloryPark Town Center next to the existing ballpark. Financial issues and the recession doomed Hicks’ vision, but The Cordish Cos., which was part of GloryPark discussions, revisited the idea in early 2014 with the Rangers’ new owners and Arlington officials. That led to a deal to build Texas Live!

“It’s one of the great sites in America,” Cordish said. “You’re in the heart of Dallas-Fort Worth, which is among the fastest-growing areas in the country, and minutes from the airport. You’ve got the existing ballpark, the Cowboys’ stadium, Six Flags. We currently have $1.2 billion of construction (including the new ballpark), adding a massive regional draw.”

The Arlington Backyard, a covered 30,000-square-foot venue with a permanent concert stage, two LED screens and multiple bars, is one example of the upgrades Matwick mentioned. The backyard is self-contained and offers more amenities for patrons than the Live! stages in other markets, Cordish said.

Texas_Live!_Live_Arena_-_Courtesy_Texas_Rangers.jpgThe “live arena” at Texas Live! features a 100-foot diagonal videoboard. (Courtesy Texas Rangers)

It’s part of the evolution for those districts that has the developer filling the role of concert promoter over the past seven years, Cordish said. Those who don’t have tickets to the backyard concerts can watch the show on a 100-foot-diagonal, 4-millimeter LED board in the district’s main plaza, which Cordish refers to as the “live arena” across the Live! properties.

Chris Furst, Cordish’s primary talent buyer in Baltimore, books national acts across all Live! properties. He’s been with the company for 13 years. For some acts such as Billy Currington and Nelly, he creates a mini-route among Live! venues. In other cases, he forms a series such as Hot Country Nights. Those events feature multiple artists performing over the course of 15 weeks at one property, and six Live! districts now have those events. Cordish also books live music at seasonal festivals such as the Texas Taco Festival Nov. 17-18 at Texas Live!

In 11 years, the Live! district in Kansas City has grown from playing host to five concerts a year to more than 20. Texas Live! will book more than 60 concerts in its first year of operation, Cordish said.

“We don’t view ourselves as a traditional promoter,” he said. “These are projects that are billions of dollars in investment, and we’re using the concerts to help add to that overall experience for our guests. Concerts are one piece to a much larger puzzle. Yes, we get the ticket (revenue), but we also get the energy throughout the district. It helps our food and beverage and our residential and hotel.”

The ability for Cordish to keep the district brimming with activity and events during baseball’s offseason is critical to making the district work in Arlington, according to Matwick.

“We know on Rangers and Cowboys game days and during college football season, we’ll be fine,” he said. “It’s the other days on the calendar that will make the difference. Next summer, we open a four-star hotel, which is something the entertainment district really needs.”

The hotel and residential units are newer components to the Live! model. Cordish partnered with Loews Hotels to build high-end lodging facilities and brand them as Live! By Loews as part of the districts in Arlington and St. Louis. Both hotels will open in 2019 and Cordish will operate them. The Texas Live! property, a $150 million project, will have 300 rooms. The hotels are a key piece of development to help complete those districts as a multiday destination, Cordish said.

On the residential front, the districts in Kansas City and St. Louis, whose Cordish venue is Fox Sports Midwest Live!, have apartment towers under construction. The 29-story high-rise in St. Louis is part of a $260 million expansion of the Ballpark Village dining and entertainment district. At KC Live!, two of  four planned high-rise apartment buildings have opened around the Power & Light District, which is a shared investment between Cordish and the city.

In Arlington, the Rangers and Cordish are discussing ideas for repurposing 24-year-old Globe Life Park after the new ballpark opens, including converting it into residential units, Matwick said. “We’ll keep it as a viable option in the entertainment district,” he said.

The Cordish Cos. has other Live! projects on the horizon. The Jacksonville Jaguars announced in April they would partner with Cordish on a $2.5 billion mixed-use development between TIAA Bank Field and the St. Johns River. The project’s third investor is Iguana Investments, a company controlled by Jaguars owner Shahid Khan. The Jaguars have their own amphitheater, Daily’s Place, attached to the stadium, so in that respect, the Live! layout will differ slightly from the Arlington model, Cordish said.

The developer also has its eyes on Canada and has had initial discussions with NHL teams there about Live! projects, but Cordish declined to identify the organizations. The Calgary Flames and Ottawa Senators are pursuing new arenas in their respective markets.

“We have a few good opportunities overseas,” Cordish said. “The only thing that’s held us back is that we’ve been so busy here.”

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Posted: 27 Oct 2018, 12:00 pm

La Seine Musicale sits on an island and houses a main performance space and a concert hall. (Nicolas Grosmond)


Philippe Ventadour
General manager, Paris La Défense Arena

Philippe_Ventadour_-_Paris_La_Defense_Arena.JPGAlmost exactly one year ago, a new 40,000-capacity domed stadium opened its doors to the public in the West End of Paris: U Arena, which soon after secured a naming-rights partnership with the district in which it was built: Paris La Défense.

VenuesNow talked to the venue’s director, Philippe Ventadour, who looks back on a 30-plus-year career in the business — which wasn’t a business back when he started. We asked him about the unique naming-rights deal with Paris La Défense, his résumé after the first year of operation and more.

One year in. How does it feel?
Strange. From the start of construction to the official launch with the Rolling Stones a year ago, it all happened so fast. Only now, after one year, we’re starting to get a bit more comfortable. We didn’t have a moment’s break until now.

Why did the name change from U Arena to Paris La Défense Arena?
U Arena was alluding to the arena’s “U” shape, but we were always looking for a naming-rights partner, and Paris La Défense is the district where we’re built. It’s just outside Paris and a very important business district with many people working and living there.

For us, it was interesting, because it’s not a brand. So there are no conflicts with any other brands that could come in with any show or event. It positions us very well in the Paris area, so it’s a very good deal.

I didn’t realize a business district could become a naming-rights sponsor. Who did you make the deal with? Individual businesses?
With the man who is in charge of Hauts-de-Seine, the Paris department where La Défense is located in (Patrick Devedjian, president of the department’s General Council). Paris La Défense is also the name of the company that organizes all business activities in the district.

Can you tell us how many tickets you have sold since opening last year?
Between opening in October and the end of July, so in 10 months, we’ve sold around 450,000 tickets. As you know, we’re principally the home arena of [the Racing 92] rugby team, so we sold around 150,000 tickets across seven games. For the concerts with the Stones, Roger Waters and the French artists that played here, we sold around 200,000, and the rest was sold for sports events like Supercross, soccer and basketball.

Paris_La_Defense_Arena.JPGParis La Defense Arena is home to the Racing 92 rugby team and hosts major concerts. (Courtesy Paris La Defense Arena)

We also had a very important commemoration of the 20th birthday of the World Cup victory in 1998. We won again this year. All the big players of the past 20 years were there. In total, we had 22 shows and events in those first 10 months.

What’s the venue situation like in Paris? Are there enough spaces of all capacities for young bands to work their way up?
The city of Paris is working on developing new venues from 300 to 1,000 seats. The cultural budget in France is quite strong, so even if the smaller spaces aren’t profitable, they’re supported by public funds. That’s how small venues are able to work with up and coming artists, of which there are many in France.

What is the most significant development in the live business over the past 10 years that has changed the way you work?
The big companies, of course. The Live Nation and Ticketmaster revolution. I’m an old man now, I’ve worked in this business for 40 years. I’m about to retire, and it’s really different from when we started. We developed a new business 40 years ago, when I started at Bercy Arena. Now there are many people in the market, big companies, which are (dictating the terms).

Ticketing is the base of the business, so everybody is focusing on getting revenues from ticketing. It’s really more difficult to work in the business now. But I’m old. The young people are working differently, so maybe they’ll develop a new way of doing things.

But, from my point of view, the entire business is held by a few big companies. In France we had 10 big promoters, now we have only five. Everything is consolidating and going to AEG, Live Nation and, in France, Fimalac and Lagardère. Some of them grew so fast, they’re difficult to manage now. They’re doing all right, but they aren’t profitable in all areas they’re operating in. Whether you’re working for Beyoncé or for a small artist, it’s considered the same business, but it’s not. Small venues produce small shows and live on small money. I’ve always worked for big arenas, I have no idea how small venues of 300 capacity hosting 300 to 400 shows per year and earning (about $3,500) per night make it work. ($3,500) is the price it costs to open one door at Paris La Défense Arena. Of course, we’re doing the same job, but not in the same way. So it’s difficult to coexist in the same business.

What do you do to create an experience for visitors of Paris La Défense Arena?
The arena is very well positioned in the center of town, a new district. It’s very easy to access; it’s in the middle of a transportation hub. The experience starts there.

Entertainment is in the center of everything we do. We built the arena with a huge 1,500-square-meter projection wall. We can’t use it for touring concerts, but for rugby matches and everything else it’s having a wow effect on the audience. We’re still working on perfecting the way we utilize it, it was a more difficult project than we expected.

We placed a lot of importance on the food and beverage areas, which are run by us. We wanted to make sure that people want to eat here and not somewhere outside before the event. We aren’t looking into cashless at the moment, because people aren’t picking it up very well in France. We’re trying to create an experience, but we also don’t want to be too early for the market.

What’s next on your agenda?
Improving everything. Working in confidence with all organizers, increasing our rugby audience, because our rugby team is responsible for half of our activity. We’re not managing the sporting aspect, but every economic aspect of the team, such as their ticketing, advertising and hospitality revenues. The plan is to become profitable in the next year. Music is a big part of it, but not all.


Olivier Haber
General manager, La Seine Musicale

Olivier_Haber_-_Saragoussi.jpgLa Seine Musicale opened in April 2017 on a little island in the middle of the river Seine near Paris. The venue is the first puzzle piece of what is going to be an entire island dedicated to entertainment.

VenuesNow spoke with La Seine Musicale’s general manager, Olivier Haber, who joined the company at the end of 2016 from AccorHotels Arena, where he spent two years as chief operating officer. Before that he was general manager of the city’s legendary Crazy Horse Saloon, one of France’s most famous cabaret shows, for seven years.

Why did you agree to manage La Seine Musicale?
Because of the huge challenge La Seine Musicale posed. When … the two shareholders of the venue presented me with the opportunity, I immediately knew that it was something unique: a huge space containing two different venues on an island just outside Paris.

Since it was a new opening, there was an entirely new image and program to create. What is more, La Seine Musicale is producing its own shows, as well as hosting shows by external promoters. In Paris, venues are either doing one or the other, but mixing the two is something really new.

Does La Seine Musicale focus on a certain genre of music, or do you try to keep it balanced?
The aim of it is really to program a balance of all genres with a high-quality standard. Depending on the time of year, we’re focusing on different genres — from classical music to jazz to big international tours. We have musicals, such as “West Side Story” last year, and we’re going to have very big shows in 2019.

We’re also focusing on dancing. We had the Alvin Ailey troupe from New York last year. This year, we’re hosting the Chinese National Ballet performing “The Nutcracker” for two weeks. The aim is to attract an audience across all genres, and to touch young people as well, with events such as “Holiday on Ice” and other family shows.

Bartabas_-_La_Seine_Musicale.jpgLa Seine Musicale played host to a variety of acts, including Bartabas horse shows. (Courtesy La Seine Musicale)

Does that mean you can reconfigure the main space quite easily?
The main space is called La Grande Seine. It can go from 2,000 people seated to 6,500 half seated, half standing. … What is more, we have a very big stage. It’s one of the largest in Europe: 35 meters wide, 40 meters deep and 17 meters high. It allows us to have any kind of show. Last week, for instance, we hosted the horse show of Bartabas: 17 horses on stage and the entire orchestra of Radio France as well as the chorus in the pit. Including the dancers and riders on stage, that’s around 200 people.

The smallest show we received so far was a circus show called “Les 7 doigts de la main” (The 7 Fingers, based in Montreal). We configured the room in such a way that it only held 1,900 people.

How about the smaller space?
It’s a true concert hall, a 360-degree auditorium with a maximum capacity of 1,100 people, designed by Yasuhisa Toyota. It is made entirely of wood, the acoustics are incredible. The space is dedicated to nonamplified music. We have classical music for about 60 to 70 dates per year, but we also host jazz music in it.

The next step is to open up the space for tours of big artists, who don’t usually play acoustic concerts in these kind of places. It’s a complementary offering to what you can see at a stadium. The idea going forward is to have a special intimate night with a big superstar the day before or after they play the stadiums.

Any more spaces in the building we should know about?
We also have rehearsal and recording studios. (Trumpeter) Ibrahim Maalouf, for instance, recorded his latest album here last year, as did (pianist) Lang Lang.

We also have a small 120-capacity jazz club called Nubia, which is directed by Richard Bona, a famous bassist, who plays with Quincy Jones and owns a club in New York.

And we have three rooms ranging from 150 square meters up to 1,300 square meters to host exhibitions. You have a view of the Seine river from everywhere.

Who owns the venue?
It’s one of the many things that are unique about this place, because it’s a partnership between the public — the Département des Hauts-de-Seine, which is the west of Paris — and a private owner, whom I work for.

The private side is a joint venture between French TV channel TF1 and service company Sodexo, who also own the food and drinks concession of the Eiffel Tower and the Lido of Paris, among others.

You’ve been operating for one and a half years now. How would you sum it up?
It’s been an amazing time, totally exceeding our expectations. We had very different and great shows to present, from opening with Bob Dylan, to hosting “West Side Story,” to Michel Sardou, a French singer, who ended his career at La Seine Musicale last year — a very special moment.

In total, we hosted 450,000 people at more than 300 events in the first year. We conducted a study about the public’s awareness of the city’s venues, and we came in sixth among all the historical venues Paris has to offer, which is a big success.

We also hosted a couple of corporate events, including the Victoires de la Musique, which is more or less the same as the Grammys in the U.S. or the Brits in the U.K. We’ve secured them for three years, which is, of course, very important for a new venue like us.

Last year in December, we hosted Emmanuel Macron’s One Planet Summit with more than 50 heads of states at La Seine Musicale.

How many tickets did you sell in the first year?
I can give you some numbers. For “West Side Story” we sold some 85,000 tickets, which beat the previous time the musical resided in Paris. We also beat some historical figures of Herbie Hancock, who usually sells just under 2,000 tickets when visiting Paris. We sold 3,300. We did the same with Gilberto Gil, and beat his historical record in Paris.

It shows that people are coming to La Seine Musicale, people are buying tickets to La Seine Musicale, and it’s not a problem for them to come to this new venue.

For Bartabas, we sold 10,000 tickets in the first year with “Le Requiem de Mozart.” This year, we increased that to 12,000. We also had many different dancing shows, which sold more than 25,000 tickets combined. For “Swan Lake,” which took place on weekends only, we sold 10,000 tickets. Michel Sardou’s farewell concerts alone sold 55,000 tickets. As you can see, it the figures were split between all genres.

What’s next?
We still have a lot to do. We’re working on two new genres. Next year, we’ll have an electronic music festival. We’re also going to bring urban music into the venue, to complete the genre mix.

Do you have plans to sell the naming rights to the venue?
Not at the moment. We have some sponsorship partners, including major partner Crédit Mutuel, or Renault and Bouygues Bâtiment. I’m not saying it’s never going to happen, it’s just not a plan for the moment.

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Posted: 27 Oct 2018, 12:00 pm

Jordan_Harding_-_City_National_Grove_of_Anaheim.jpgHarding lists the subject of last month’s Talking Points, Sean Saadeh, among his mentors.

What did you think you would do when you were a kid? I wanted to be a tight end for the Dallas Cowboys and even attended the Jay Novacek football camp.

First job in the industry: Box office at PlayStation Theatre, Times Square, New York City.

What is your favorite part of the job? The diversity of events, clients and the esprit de corps that comes from working with great people through challenging events and situations. I never know what to expect walking into work every day.

What is your least favorite part of the job? The cynicism that’s unavoidable with seeing so many incredible live shows. I remind myself every day not to take it for granted.

What would you be doing if you weren’t in your job? I can’t imagine doing anything else — I’m living my dream.

Who are your favorite mentors? Aside from my current mentor, Alex Hodges, I would definitely say Sean Saadeh. He taught me everything I know about this business, and I tried to be a sponge every day for the seven years we worked together.

What do you do in your free time? Having just moved to Southern California, I’m really looking forward to getting out and exploring with my wife and 1-year-old daughter.

Favorite book/movie/theater show: This is pretty cliché, but I’d have to say “Hamilton.” Or “Les Misérables,” because it was the first date with my wife.Best memory of a day on the job: The few seconds of anticipation every time the lights go down for a show.

What would people be surprised to learn about you? I started school as a trumpet performance major and marched for two years with the Blue Knights Drum & Bugle Corps in Denver.

Best advice you’ve ever received: Visualize what you want to do with your life, map out how to get there, create milestones and goals, and get after it.

Worst memory of a day on the job: The first time I lost six figures on a concert.


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Posted: 27 Oct 2018, 12:00 pm

Move of the Month

Joe_Dolan.jpgBon Secours Wellness Arena in Greenville, S.C., promoted Joe Dolan to assistant general manager. Dolan joined the arena in January 2015 as director of event services. He spent seven years with Comcast Spectacor and Spectra Venue Management, most recently as general manager of the Mullins Center on the campus of the University of Massachusetts.


The Oman Convention and Exhibition Centre named Said Salim Al-Shanfari CEO. Al-Shanfari held various management positions during his eight-year tenure at telecommunications company Ooredoo Oman and most recently was general manager of marketing communication and performance at Omantel.

Turnkey Search promoted Nicolas Bernal to director of marketing and creative services, Evan Kashan to director of operations and integration, and Rebecca Oliver to director of strategic communications.

ICM Partners promoted Danielle Beckford, Kyle Kernohan and Liz Pantone to agents in the concerts department. Beckford started as an intern at ICM, became an assistant and rose to department coordinator. Kernohan joined ICM as an intern before becoming assistant and then coordinator. Pantone began her career at The Agency Group and joined ICM as an assistant; she was later promoted to coordinator.

Zev Buffman has retired as CEO of Ruth Eckard Hall in Clearwater, Fla. Interim President Susan Crockett, who has been chief operating officer, took charge of the day-to-day running of the organization.

CP Communications appointed Ken Dillard as vice president of North American sales. Dillard joins CP Communications from IP-based live video solutions provider TVU Networks. He held senior sales management roles at Dejero, Statmon Technologies Group and Harris Corp.

CAPS Payroll, a Cast & Crew company, promoted Todd Dyer to vice president of venues, music tours and live events. Before joining CAPS in 2014, Dyer founded Evolution 365 Services and worked at Staff Pro and Contemporary Services Corp.

SMG-managed Intrust Bank Arena in Wichita, Kan., promoted Lyndsey Edwards to marketing manager. Edwards has been the department’s marketing and group sales coordinator since April.

Oak View Group hired Los Angeles City Council President Pro Tempore Mitchell Englander as executive vice president of government affairs. Englander represents the 12th District of Los Angeles and was first elected in 2011. In 2013, he was selected to serve as president pro tempore. Englander will vacate his seat at the end of this year and join OVG effective Jan. 1.

The city of McAllen, Texas, hired Yajaira Flores as director of the McAllen Convention Center Facilities: the McAllen Convention Center, the McAllen Performing Arts Center, Oval Park and Quinta Mazatlán. Flores spearheaded the grand opening of the Bert Ogden Arena in her role as director of booking and marketing for Bert Ogden Arena and H-E-B Park. She previously spent nine years working for the McAllen venues.

Explore St. Louis named Jill Hericks director of convention sales and Erin Jackson director of executive meetings sales, and promoted Stephanie Monroe to director of specialty market sales, Hericks served in senior positions with the Sioux Falls (S.D.) Convention Center; the Century Center in South Bend, Ind.; and Hollywood Casino and Hotel in St. Louis. Jackson was the director of sales of the Moonrise Hotel in St. Louis, and Monroe joined Explore St. Louis in 2007 as national convention sales manager.

Larry Gimple was named event manger for South Point Arena and Equestrian Center in Las Vegas. Gimple was the executive director of The Horse Park at Woodside, Calif., for 11 years. 

Evelyn Ortiz joined Visit Anaheim as convention sales manager for the Mid-Atlantic citywide market and will be based out of Maryland. Ortiz was sales manager for NYC & Company.

The Edinburgh (Scotland) International Conference Centre hired Lyndsey Rafferty as associations sales manager, Elaine Miller as associations business development manager and Aaron McKeen as associations researcher. Ekaterina Alison was promoted to interim head of associations business development.

Madison Entertainment added Jonathan Wayland and Phil Benito as talent buyers. Wayland was with Red Frog Events. Benito has been booking events in the Florida market for almost 20 years, curating a range of events including the Gasparilla Music Festival, the Tampa Bay Margarita Fest, OnBikes, and the Summer of Rum party.

Hosts Global named Holly Valenti general manager for Hosts New Orleans and Holly Bethay vice president of sales. Terry Epton was promoted to executive vice president and global brand ambassador.


Lyle Bunn, 63, digital signage industry consultant, Oct. 9 at his home in Brighton, Ontario, due to complications from colon cancer.


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Posted: 27 Oct 2018, 10:00 am

Feld Entertainment bought Live Nation’s Monster Jam division in 2008 and since then has changed the perception of the property from scripted entertainment to serious competition (see related story). Monster trucks make for some monster numbers, which makes them a perfect fit for Opening Number.

Shows performed in 2017

Arenas played in 2017

Unique Monster Jam products licensed

Original hours of Monster Jam TV

International cities that Monster Jam played in 2017

Pieces of Caterpillar equipment used yearly to construct Monster Jam tracks

Yards of dirt used annually

Gallons of fuel consumed yearly to power track-building equipment

Months required to build a Monster Jam truck

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Cleaner Oceans, One Seat At A Time
Posted: 26 Oct 2018, 11:00 am

Sea Chairs stadium seats will be made of recycled plastic, about 10 percent of it recycled ocean plastics. (Courtesy Sea Chairs)

Stadium and arena architect Dan Meis had always been cynical about the ability of the venues he designed to succeed in sustainability efforts. It bothered him, enough that he found his own niche to help push toward change.

Meis has launched Sea Chairs, a new stadium seat made partly with recycled ocean plastic. “I was looking for something that had a hook for me to get excited about,” Meis said. “It is an idea I have been kicking around for a while. It is pretty exciting.”

Meis, now based in New York and currently designing soccer stadiums for Major League Soccer expansion team FC Cincinnati, A.S. Roma of Italy’s Serie A and Everton of the English Premier League, partnered with Dutch furniture maker Van de Sant on a 50-50 effort in Sea Chairs. Meis provided the “big idea and design,” while Van de Sant offers the science and production.

The deal was announced in late October, and Meis said he expects to have the first wave of prototypes available by the end of the month and full-scale production in 2019. Each chair will contain about 10 percent recycled ocean plastics. The remainder will come from other recycled plastics.

Meis, inspired by actor Adrian Grenier, co-founder of nonprofit Lonely Whale, said that with so many plastics already in the world, there hasn’t been a strong economic driver for companies to source recycled plastic from the ocean. “Our stadiums are filled with plastic,” Meis said, “It seemed to me if we could design a product, there is probably something to (the economics) of it.”

The concept of designing a stadium seat had been on the mind of Meis, whose work includes Staples Center, Safeco Field and Paul Brown Stadium. Friends and colleagues suggested that if architects Norman Foster and Frank Gehry could both dabble in furniture design, Meis could take a shot with stadium furniture, such as the seat. “There isn’t a lot of leeway in the shape or form or use of it, so really it was this idea of if we can do something with an added layer of sustainability and doing something good for the world,” he said. “That is what is important.”

While Meis expects a slight premium to the cost of the seat due to sourcing the material — he won’t have final financial figures until the chair hits production and said that the larger the order for a venue, the less of a premium — he sees using the chairs in stadiums as a way for clubs to connect on an issue important with young people.

Meis worked with colleague Adrian Candela to design what he called an aesthetically pleasing and functional model, but he imagines the chairs filling portions of a stadium rather than the entire venue. With a statement on the back of the chair explaining the purpose of helping to cleanse oceans of plastic, he envisions teams filling a supporters section with the chairs to connect with the home fans.

He also expects companies would want to get involved, possibly sponsoring a club section with their name on it full of Sea Chairs. That connection allows the stadium, team and company to all market the sustainability effort.

All the projects on Meis’ design plate remain open to potentially receiving the new seats, he said.

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Chargers Add Aspire To Sales Lineup
Posted: 26 Oct 2018, 10:00 am

The NFL's Los Angeles Chargers have premium seating to sell at the Inglewood, Calif., stadium where they'll move in 2020. (Courtesy LA Stadium & Entertainment District)

The Los Angeles Chargers, struggling to get a foothold in the country’s second-largest market, have strengthened their ticket sales program. They’re now using multiple agencies to sell season tickets and premium seats across two stadiums, underscoring the team’s critical need to move inventory after relocating from San Diego nearly two years ago.

Legends Global Sales, the company originally hired by the Los Angeles Stadium & Entertainment District, recently signed a deal with The Aspire Group to set appointments for potential suite holders and club seat patrons for the roughly $3 billion NFL stadium in Inglewood.

Both firms are also selling season tickets at StubHub Center, the Chargers’ temporary home for three years before they move to Inglewood in 2020, where they will share the stadium with the Los Angeles Rams.

Legends remains the sales agency of record for the Inglewood project. Rams owner Stan Kroenke is financing construction of the 70,000-seat facility, which is part of a massive mixed-use district spanning 300 acres.

The decision to have The Aspire Group work alongside Legends for Inglewood was most likely driven by the Chargers’ desire to get more prospects in the pipeline faster, sources said, which allows Legends staff to focus on closing sales without having to spend time developing leads.

“It’s not so much strategy as it’s a core value and philosophy,” Todd Poulsen, the Chargers’ vice president of ticket sales and services, wrote in an email. “We want to bring the same high level of customer service at StubHub Center to our new home in Hollywood Park, so we’ve tabbed The Aspire Group to handle the outreach and appointment setting process.”

“Legends is the primary entity responsible for selling season tickets and premium products at the new venue,” Poulsen said.  “This model allows Legends to handle more one-on-one interactions.”

The move comes soon after The Aspire Group, founded in 2008 by sports marketing veteran Bernie Mullin, completed a nine-month contract to sell 2018 season tickets for Chargers home games at StubHub Center. Aspire’s deal at the venue, the home of Major League Soccer’s L.A. Galaxy, was done directly with the Chargers, sources said. AEG runs StubHub Center.

After completing that agreement, The Aspire Group signed a four-month deal with Legends that started in mid-September. Since that time, Aspire has played a supporting role at the L.A. Sports and Entertainment District Premiere Center in Playa Vista, Calif., and at Aspire’s national sales center in Atlanta, its home base. Evan Gates, Aspire’s director of sales at StubHub Center, is heading the firm’s campaign for Inglewood.

The Aspire Group and Legends, which is co-owned by the Dallas Cowboys and New York Yankees, are technically competitors in the ticket selling space, although Aspire’s core business is in the college market.

In Los Angeles, both agencies face a challenging market for the Chargers as they compete for business against the Rams.

The Chargers are reportedly struggling to sell seats for both the new stadium and StubHub Center. For Inglewood, the Chargers recently announced pricing for 26,000 general seats. Fans can buy seat licenses for $100 tied to seats that cost $50 to $90 a person per game. By comparison, the Chargers’ average single-game ticket price of $199 at 27,000-seat StubHub Center is  the highest in the NFL, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The rock-bottom pricing for Inglewood translates to about $150 million in seat license revenue that the Chargers can generate, down from their initial goal of $400 million, according to multiple published reports. Under terms of their lease agreement with the Rams, that money goes toward stadium construction, sources said, which now leaves a $250 million gap for the Chargers’ share of financing the facility.

“This is a privately financed development and we do not comment on our funding sources,” Rams spokesperson Joanna Hunter said.

The Inglewood stadium, designed by HKS and built by the AECOM Hunt/Turner Construction joint venture, will feature 260 suites and 13,000 club seats. Those numbers stand among the NFL’s highest number of premium seats, along with AT&T Stadium, MetLife Stadium and FedEx Field.

Legends, in addition to selling premium seats in Inglewood, is selling naming rights and sponsorships for the stadium. It’s also filling the role of owner’s representative for the project.

Apart from the Chargers, The Aspire Group sells tickets for the Pro Bowl on behalf of the NFL. The company sells football and basketball season tickets for about 50 universities.

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Orlando Continues Convention Center Expansion
Posted: 25 Oct 2018, 8:00 pm

Orlando's Orange County Convention Center is moving forward with a $605 million campus improvement plan. The project will bring expansions and new meeting and exhibit space in the North and South concourses, further increasing the center’s seven million square feet of total function space.


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Posted: 23 Oct 2018, 10:00 pm

HOT TICKETS is a weekly summary of the top events and ticket sales as reported to VN Pulse via Pollstar. Following are the top 20 concerts and events, the top 5 in each capacity category, that took place Sept. 25– Oct. 23.

More Than 15,000 Capacity

10,001-15,000 Capacity


5,000 or Less

1) Jay-Z, Beyoncé
Gross Sales:
$7,548,207; Venue: Levi’s Stadium, Santa Clara, Calif.; Attendance: 47,235; Ticket Range: $20-$350; Promoter: Live Nation Global Touring; Dates: Sept. 29; No. of Shows: 1

2) Jay-Z, Beyoncé
Gross Sales: $5,445,486; Venue: SDCCU Stadium, San Diego; Attendance: 42,953; Ticket Range: $20-$350; Promoter: Live Nation Global Touring; Dates: Sept. 27; No. of Shows: 1

3) Bruno Mars
Gross Sales: $5,004,102; Venue: Barclays Center, Brooklyn, N.Y.; Attendance: 29,600; Ticket Range: $101-$186; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Oct. 4-5; No. of Shows: 2

4) Jay-Z, Beyoncé
Gross Sales: $4,888,993; Venue: CenturyLink Field, Seattle; Attendance: 40,718; Ticket Range: $20-$320; Promoter: Live Nation Global Touring; Dates: Oct. 4; No. of Shows: 1

5) Ed Sheeran
Gross Sales: $4,512,421; Venue: U.S. Bank Stadium, Minneapolis; Attendance: 49,359; Ticket Range: $39.50-$119.50; Promoter: Messina Touring Group / AEG Presents; Dates: Oct. 20; No. of Shows: 1

1) Jason Aldean
Gross Sales: $1,031,221; Venue: FivePoint Amphitheatre, Irvine, Calif.; Attendance: 12,000; Ticket Range: $35.25-$100.25; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Sept. 29; No. of Shows: 1

2) Keith Urban
Gross Sales: $584,367; Venue: Matthew Knight Arena, Eugene, Ore.; Attendance: 7,212; Ticket Range: $35-$92.50; Promoter: CMoore Live; Dates: Sept. 27; No. of Shows: 1

3) Keith Urban
Gross Sales: $518,369; Venue: Taco Bell Arena, Boise, Idaho; Attendance: 6,836; Ticket Range: $37-$94.50; Promoter: CMoore Live; Dates: Sept. 28; No. of Shows: 1

4) Rea Garvey
Gross Sales: $421,844; Venue: König-Pilsener Arena, Oberhausen, Germany; Attendance: 7,668; Ticket Range: $52.37-$58.20; Promoter: Dirk Becker Entertainment; Dates: Sept. 26; No. of Shows: 1

5) Jason Derulo
Gross Sales: $283,230; Venue: First Direct Arena, Leeds, England; Attendance: 5,784; Ticket Range: $38.31-$71.43; Promoter: SJM; Dates: Sept. 30; No. of Shows: 1

1) Keith Urban
Gross Sales: $850,570; Venue: Laughlin (Nev.) Event Center; Attendance: 9,303; Ticket Range: $55-$400; Promoter: In-House; Dates: Oct. 5; No. of Shows: 1

2) Bassnectar
Gross Sales: $517,431; Venue: Bill Graham Civic Auditorium, San Francisco; Attendance: 8,698; Ticket Range: $59.50; Promoter: Another Planet Entertainment; Dates: Sept. 29; No. of Shows: 1

3) Keith Urban
Gross Sales: $467,195; Venue: Adams Center, Missoula, Mont.; Attendance: 5,018; Ticket Range: $59-$89.50; Promoter: CMoore Live; Dates: Sept. 29; No. of Shows: 1

4) Tony Bennett
Gross Sales: $385,700; Venue: Mohegan Sun Arena, Uncasville, Conn.; Attendance: 6,146; Ticket Range: $45.75-$65.75; Promoter: In-House, Live Nation; Dates: Oct. 4; No. of Shows: 1

5) Jeff Dunham
Gross Sales: $252,450; Venue: ICC Sydney Theatre, Sydney; Attendance: 4,375; Ticket Range: $57.70; Promoter: Adrian Bohm Presents, Tate Entertainment; Dates: Sept. 29; No. of Shows: 1

1) “Springsteen On Broadway,” Bruce Springsteen
Gross Sales: $2,410,527; Venue: Walter Kerr Theatre, New York City; Attendance: 4,740; Ticket Range: $79-$850; Promoter: Thrill Hill Productions; Dates: Oct. 2-6; No. of Shows: 5

2) “Springsteen On Broadway," Bruce Springsteen
Gross Sales: $1,929,795; Venue: Walter Kerr Theatre, New York; Attendance: 3,792; Ticket Range: $79-$850; Promoter: Thrill Hill Productions; Dates: Oct. 10-13; No. of Shows: 4

3) Tedeschi Trucks Band
Gross Sales: $1,258,605; Venue: Beacon Theatre, New York City; Attendance: 16,691; Ticket Range: $29.50-$126; Promoter: Metropolitan Entertainment Consultants; Dates: Oct. 5-13; No. of Shows: 6

4) John Prine
Gross Sales: $426,370; Venue: Ryman Auditorium, Nashville, Tenn.; Attendance: 4,555; Ticket Range: $68-$108; Promoter: NS2; Dates: Oct. 5-6; No. of Shows: 2

5) Ragamala Dance Company
Gross Sales: $271,540; Venue: Bass Concert Hall, Austin, Texas; Attendance: 2,757; Ticket Range: $65-$175; Promoter: In-house Promotion; Dates: Oct. 10; No. of Shows: 1

The weekly Hot Tickets chart is compiled by Pollstar. For more information, e-mail or click here to submit your Box Office data now.


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A Fresh Perspective On Venue Air
Posted: 17 Oct 2018, 6:00 pm

A graphic supplied by AtmosAir illustrates ionization helping to filter air.

Clean air has a twofold benefit inside sports venues, said Steve Levine, founder of AtmosAir: It keeps players and fans healthy while reducing energy consumption.

That’s a tall claim from the private company based in Connecticut, but one Levine said is backed by reductions in energy bills and team illnesses. And he’s not alone, as a new wave of sports and entertainment venues has signed on to install AtmosAir, from existing arenas and stadiums to the fanciest of the new arena builds.

AtmosAir features a patented technology that distributes negative and positive ions into the air via ionization tubes inside a building’s HVAC system, the same ions found naturally in mountain air. “We are basically bringing that mountain-fresh air inside,” Levine said, “distributing those ions throughout the venue so people can breathe in those ions.”

When a particle becomes ionized, it makes the particle bigger and heavier, and therefore easier to filter out. Sometimes that particle simply drops to the floor. The system doesn’t need chemicals and “harnesses the power of the Earth’s natural air cleaners.” The airflow distributes the energized ions, seeking out the neutralization of contaminants at their source. Whether more quickly pulling out the larger particles or having ionization break down odors on the spot, creating a fresh and clean smell, the system is designed to improve air throughout a space, which also accounts to an energy savings.

An AtmosAir system typically costs 50 to 60 cents per cubic foot per minute of air flow to install. The system pays for itself in less than three years by saving a venue 20 percent on its HVAC power demand (cleaner inside air means less need to pull in outside air).

Levine also said AtmosAir allows venues to use less restrictive filters that last longer. “If we are going to save them 20 percent on HVAC power demand, that is 4 to 8 percent of their total energy bill,” he said.

The first big test came for AtmosAir more than five years ago when Staples Center in Los Angeles tested the system in a portion of the building before seeing the benefits and expanding it throughout the entire venue. Since then, AtmosAir has started working with large engineering firms and sports architects, such as Populous and Gensler, to incorporate the system into projects.

Beyond Staples Center, AtmosAir has filled Golden 1 Center in Sacramento and will come to the new Chase Center in San Francisco when it opens before next year’s NBA season and also to Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland early next year as part of continuing renovations there. The Dallas Cowboys have installed it in two training facilities and the system is already in place in Boston’s TD Garden, Philadelphia’s Wells Fargo Center and Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena. The Denver Broncos and New England Patriots use the system for training. Among ballparks, the new Globe Life Field in Texas will install the system, already in use by the Chicago Cubs at their training facility, the Pittsburgh Pirates’ PNC Park and the Atlanta Braves’ SunTrust Park.

Going after the sports market is a recent effort for the 15-year-old company. “We felt like if we could use sports arenas and stadiums as educational platforms to really educate the fan base and different stadium-management companies on our technology, then it would trickle down to colleges and high schools and eventually the consumer,” Levine said. “It was a planned effort, and we felt we could make the greatest impact in sports because they want to protect their players.”

On the athlete performance side, Levine said trainers have reported to him improved air quality inside locker rooms and other team-specific areas, quantified by the need for less allergy medicines and reduced illnesses.

“When an outbreak of flu happened through the NHL, the (Los Angeles) Kings — the only team in hockey that had AtmosAir — didn’t have a single issue,” Kings trainer Chris Kingsley said in a statement. “Continuous disinfection keeps athletes, players, coaches, training staff and fans healthier and safer.”

Jim Maurer, head athletic trainer for the Dallas Cowboys, said that when they transitioned to their new The Star training facility in Frisco, Texas, they ensured the new space also included AtmosAir. “Our air quality is paramount for the continued good health of the players and staff as we go about the strenuous season of the NFL,” he wrote in an email to VenuesNow. “Our successes are, in part, due to the effects of such a system as AtmosAir.”

Levine has worked with trainers who believe in the system enough to ensure it is installed at new venues, such as new training facilities at the University of Michigan and the University of Southern California.

Whether Staples Center or an NFL stadium where they have reached a new deal but were not yet ready to make public, pushing the system venuewide brings that benefit to the masses, Levine said.

“We are keeping players healthy, giving them an edge and protecting them at the same time,” Levine said. “Then, when you get the energy savings from the operational side, now you have belt and suspenders. First it is health and wellness, and then the energy savings is the icing on the cake.”

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IACC Set to Double European Members
Posted: 16 Oct 2018, 9:00 pm

IACC, the association that represents the global conference center segment, is set to more than double its number of European facilities within the next four months if a deal to add the supplier members of two conference center groups comes to fruition, according to IACC CEO Mark Cooper.


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St. Louis Convention Center Plans Extensive Renovation
Posted: 7 Oct 2018, 8:00 pm

The America’s Center Convention Complex in St. Louis will undergo an expansion and extensive renovations. The AC Next Gen Project, which will include the addition of 92,000 square feet of exhibit space, a 65,000-square-foot ballroom and meeting area, a new outdoor pavilion and 26 new loading docks, was announced during a press conference held on October 3.


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How to Cope With a Convention Center Renovation
Posted: 26 Sep 2018, 8:00 pm

On a recent tour of the Greater Columbus Convention Center, Meetings Today spoke with John Page, general manager for SMG for the Greater Columbus Convention Center (GCCC). Page shared his advice for navigating a convention center renovation or expansion.


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5 Things You May Not Have Known About the Chattanooga Convention Center
Posted: 18 Sep 2018, 8:00 pm

Once you’ve seen one convention center you’ve seen them all, right? A recent visit to the Chattanooga Convention Center left me surprised to find some nice touches that many of its bigger—and smaller—city counterparts lacked. Following are five standout features I noticed during my tour of the Chattanooga Convention Center led by Executive Director Mike Shuford, during a press trip with the Chattanooga CVB.


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Convention Center Reopens in Louisville
Posted: 5 Aug 2018, 8:00 pm

The Kentucky International Convention Center (KICC) hosted a grand opening ceremony, Monday, Aug. 6, 2018 following a two-year, $207 million renovation and expansion project. State and local government officials, along with KICC facility officials and staff welcomed meeting clients, local stakeholders, interested citizens, and media to an open house that showcased how the new facility will host small to large-scale events.


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Caesars Forum Conference Center Breaks Ground in Vegas
Posted: 16 Jul 2018, 8:00 pm

Caesars Entertainment broke ground on its $375 million, Caesars Forum conference center on Monday, July 16, during a ceremony for trade press, industry executives and Caesars staff members. The ceremony was also livestreamed by Caesars so that people could tune in from all over the world.


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Q&A With Jennifer B. Davis on Greater Columbus Convention Center Updates
Posted: 30 Jun 2018, 8:00 pm

Meetings Today contributor Carolyn Blackburn interviewed Jennifer B. David, Senior Marketing & Communications Manager with the Greater Columbus Convention Center (GCCC), to discuss recent updates to the facility. The GCCC, which features 373,000 square feet of contiguous exhibit space, wrapped a two-year $140 million renovation and expansion project in July 2017 to improve the overall guest experience, including the installation of an impressive art collection and local F&B concepts.


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5 Campus Conference Centers That Will Enhance Any Event
Posted: 1 May 2018, 8:00 pm

College towns are happening hubs of activity, where the arts, sports and culinary delights thrive. All that and more is on deck for planners who book a university setting for a conference.


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Vegas Convention Center Expansion Design Unveiled
Posted: 9 Apr 2018, 8:00 pm

Architects have submitted their designs for the phase two expansion of the Las Vegas Convention Center.


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Creativity Takes Center Stage at Convention Centers
Posted: 26 Mar 2018, 8:00 pm

The artwork installed at an increasing number of popular convention centers transforms these necessarily utilitarian buildings into magnificent galleries that rival some of the most inspired museums in the world.


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Arlington Unveils Plans for Massive Esports Stadium
Posted: 18 Mar 2018, 8:00 pm

The City of Arlington announced plans for Esports Stadium Arlington, an esports-specific venue designed to draw competitive gamers and fans from around the world. The proposed venue will be built within the existing Arlington Convention Center in collaboration with architecture firm Populous.


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Q&A With Michele Hughes, Director of Sales, Connecticut Convention Center
Posted: 24 Jan 2018, 7:00 pm

Meetings Today checked in with Michele Hughes, Director of Sales & Marketing with the Connecticut Convention Center (CTCC).


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Convention Centers Are Making Bold New Statements
Posted: 1 Jan 2018, 7:00 pm

Goodbye big-box, bunkeresque venues. Hello green rooftop micro-environments, wellness spaces and hip street-party-scapes.


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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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AEG Live acquires two historic Virginia theatres
Posted: 16 Oct 2014, 2:57 pm
Those theatres are The National Theatre in Richmond and The NorVa Theatre in Norfolk, Virginia.

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New Miami convention center and hotel approved
Posted: 16 Oct 2014, 2:57 pm
The new development will be on the site of the old Miami Arena.

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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Take 10 - Invigorate Your Large Events!
Posted: 13 May 2014, 8:00 pm

Dana Freker Doody answers questions from Meetings Focus' Invigorate Your Large Events webinar.


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Cookie-cutter conference centers are a thing of the past
Posted: 30 Apr 2014, 8:00 pm

Today's conference centers are more about standing out than fitting in.


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Five U.S. convention center highlights
Posted: 31 Mar 2014, 8:00 pm

A look at major convention center projects in Green Bay,  King of Prussia, New York, San Antonio and San Diego.


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Scheduling events at Florida colleges and universities is a smart choice
Posted: 31 Mar 2014, 8:00 pm

Educational facilities throughout Florida give attendees a chance to relive the college experience.


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Convention centers adapt to tradeshows of today
Posted: 31 Mar 2014, 8:00 pm

Modern convention centers are about experience as much as setting.


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Selecting the perfect convention venue
Posted: 31 Mar 2014, 8:00 pm

Eight easy steps to picking the perfect convention venue.


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IACC Americas Conference Sees Attendee Uptick
Posted: 18 Mar 2014, 8:00 pm

The 2014 IACC Annual Conference reported it has attracted the most registered attendees since 2008.


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State College, Pennsylvania, is a happening, business-savvy hub
Posted: 27 Oct 2013, 8:00 pm

State College, home to Pennsylvania State University, welcomes groups with its vibrant ambiance and excellent on-campus (and off-site) facilities.


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A Q&A with Mark Cooper, new CEO of the International Association of Conference Centres
Posted: 24 Apr 2013, 8:00 pm
IACC's new CEO shares his insights on the events industry


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A quick take on recent openings and upgrades in the world of conference centers
Posted: 24 Apr 2013, 8:00 pm


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School Spirit
Posted: 17 Feb 2013, 7:00 pm
College stadiums and arenas are a classic choice for large groups


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Areas of Study
Posted: 17 Feb 2013, 7:00 pm
University meetings think outside of the classroom


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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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............................................................ 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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Shiny and New
Posted: 7 Jun 2012, 8:00 pm


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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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Unlikely Customers
Posted: 28 Feb 2012, 7:00 pm


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Convention Center Coming to Provo
Posted: 25 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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IACC Board Sets New Service Standards
Posted: 30 Nov 2011, 7:00 pm


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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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Conference Center Changes
Posted: 31 Dec 2010, 7:00 pm
Conference Center Changes


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Conference Centers
Posted: 31 Dec 2010, 7:00 pm
With mounting competition, conference centers get flexible


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On Location - Convention Centers
Posted: 31 May 2010, 8:00 pm


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University Venues
Posted: 30 Apr 2010, 8:00 pm
Campus Culture


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Conference Centers
Posted: 31 Mar 2010, 8:00 pm

After a tough year, conference centers see better times ahead


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University Venues
Posted: 28 Feb 2010, 7:00 pm

Universities offer an exciting range of museum venues


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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
Conference Call


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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 Call
Posted: 31 Dec 2008, 7:00 pm


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