News

 
Britney Spears Announces New Las Vegas Residency at Park Theater In Spectacular Fashion
 
Posted: 18 Oct 2018, 10:29 pm
Britney Spears tonight (Oct. 18) announced "Britney: Domination," her new two year residency at the Park Theater at Park MGM which will kick off in February 2019.

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Ticketmaster Acquires Live Events Blockchain Company Upgraded
 
Posted: 18 Oct 2018, 10:47 am
Ticketmaster today announced the acquisition of Upgraded, a blockchain technology company servicing the live events industry.

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Railroad Earth’s Andy Goessling Dies
 
Posted: 17 Oct 2018, 9:29 pm
Railroad Earth broke the news to fans Oct. 12 that multi-instrumentalist Andy Goessling had passed away. The brief statement posted on the bluegrass band?s website and social media accounts did not reveal a cause of death.

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Speakers Announced For Pollstar Live! 2019 ‘International Festivals’ Panel
 
Posted: 17 Oct 2018, 8:36 pm
The schedule for Pollstar Live! 2019 is coming together with speakers confirmed today for ?International Festivals: Juicing Up A Mature Marketplace,? a panel to be held in association with Midem.

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Oli Herbert Of All That Remains Dead At 44
 
Posted: 17 Oct 2018, 6:41 pm
Oli Herbert, lead guitarist for All That Remains, has died, band members confirmed Oct. 17. Details regarding cause of death were unavailable at press time, with requests to respect the privacy of family and the band.

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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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Festival Industry Survey: Charles Attal, Ashley Capps, Jennifer Justice, John Reese & More Weigh In On The Changing Festival Market
 
Posted: 17 Oct 2018, 3:56 pm
Now that summer has gone and the festival/shed season is effectively over, one would think it would give festival promoters and buyers some time to catch their breath and ramp up for next season.

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Pollstar 2019 Festival Hotstars: Billie Eilish
 
Posted: 17 Oct 2018, 1:06 pm
Although the improbably named Billie Eilish Pirate Baird O?Connell won?t turn 17 until December, her career is already in full swing, with an EP released on EDM stalwart Justin Lubliner?s Darkroom Records imprint through Interscope and an upcoming debut album slated for next year. She just previewed its first single, ?you should see me in a crown,? with a creepy-crawly video featuring very scary-looking spiders crawling up her body and out of her mouth.

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Knapple Stepping Down At Van Wagner
 
Posted: 17 Oct 2018, 1:00 pm

As part of a restructuring process at Van Wagner Sports & Entertainment, agency President Jeff Knapple, a well-known name in stadium and arena naming-rights sales, has stepped down to become a consultant for the company.

Van Wagner partner Chris Allphin takes over for Knapple as head of the company’s rebranded Team Advisory Group.

The moves follow last month’s news that Bob Jordan had left the firm. He was a senior vice president at Van Wagner specializing in technology infrastructure at sports facilities and mixed-use districts.

Knapple wouldn’t say specifically what drove his departure. He’s had conversations for “quite some time” with Van Wagner Sports & Entertainment CEO John Massoni about his role, and while they held “slightly different views,” they reached a “good outcome” for both parties with Knapple maintaining his ties to Van Wagner as a consultant.

In a statement provided to VenuesNow, Massoni said, “For over 26 years, our mission has always been to help build our clients’ businesses. This is simply an effort to reorganize one of our verticals around what we can deliver at the high standard we expect.”

Knapple has been working on selling naming rights for Camp Nou, FC Barcelona’s historic stadium, which is undergoing a $700 million reconstruction, and he remains involved in his new role. No sponsor has been announced, but estimates have valued a potential deal at $350 million, according to published reports.

“I want to finish up Barcelona,” Knapple said. “We’re in advanced conversations with two to three companies, but you know how these things go. It’s not done till it’s done. Then we’ll see what’s next. I don’t close any door.”

New_Camp_Nou.jpgKnapple wants to finish the job of selling naming rights for FC Barcelona's stadium. (Courtesy FC Barcelona)

Knapple ranks among the leading brokers of naming rights for sports facilities over the past 30 years. He joined Van Wagner in February 2012 as an executive vice president. In May 2013, he was named president and CEO of the company, in charge of the Team and Venue Services Group, which is now the Team Advisory Group.

Last year, Knapple relinquished the CEO portion of his title as part of moving back to Los Angeles to get married after working out of Van Wagner’s New York office. Knapple retained his position as president of the venues group and Massoni took over as CEO.

Knapple was a co-founder of Envision with AEG owner Phil Anschutz before selling that company to Wasserman in 2002. Knapple spent 10 years as head of Wasserman’s sales and naming-rights division before Van Wagner hired him.

Over the past 20 years, Knapple has served as the principal on more than 15 naming-rights deals, including Staples Center, MetLife Stadium, Emirates Stadium and Philips Arena, which is now State Farm Arena.

Van Wagner’s recent deals include a consulting agreement with the Texas Rangers to help sell premium seats at Globe Life Field, their new $1.2 billion stadium opening in 2020. The agency is assisting the Indiana Pacers to sign a new naming-rights partner for Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

In the college space, Van Wagner has multimedia rights deals with Rider, Valparaiso, Loyola University Maryland, Longwood and Kennesaw State, and marketing deals with multiple conferences.

Apart from its venues-specific business, the agency owns and operates events internationally and sells television-visible signage for more than 200 professional and college teams. Van Wagner, founded in 1996, got its start selling outdoor billboards before selling that piece of business to CBS in 2014.

Van Wagner’s competitors include Legends, JMI Sports, The Aspire Group and IMG Learfield.


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Tauren Wells Wins 4, Including New Artist, At Dove Awards
 
Posted: 17 Oct 2018, 12:48 pm
Christian artist Tauren Wells won four awards including new artist and contemporary Christian artist of the year at the 49th annual Gospel Music Association's Dove Awards.

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Garth Brooks Announces Stadium Tour; Glendale, St. Louis First Stops
 
Posted: 17 Oct 2018, 12:47 pm
Garth Brooks this morning announced a North American stadium tour, with its first stops being State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Ariz., and The Dome at America?s Center in St. Louis, Mo.

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Owners Of Utah Music Venue Indicted In Drug Trafficking Case
 
Posted: 17 Oct 2018, 12:44 pm
The operators of a popular Salt Lake City concert venue paid for the business through a multimillion-dollar marijuana-selling operation, federal prosecutors said.

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Beyond Capital Partners Acquires Majority Stake In German EDM Promoter BigCityBeats
 
Posted: 17 Oct 2018, 12:17 pm
Beyond Capital Partners, through one of its investment funds, acquired a 51-percent stake in electronic music event promoter BigCityBeats, based in Frankfurt, Germany.

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Greek Was Gaga's Spot To Shine
 
Posted: 17 Oct 2018, 11:00 am

Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper perform "Shallows" at the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles in a pivotal scene from "A Star Is Born." (Courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures)

If you’re among the hordes of people who have flocked to see Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper light up the screen in the latest reboot of “A Star is Born,” you may have noticed that one of the pivotal scenes was filmed at a familiar location.

The film, which shot rousing live scenes on the stage at the Coachella Festival grounds and at England’s Glastonbury Festival, spent several days at another iconic location, even if the name of the venue never makes it onto the screen.

“We get requests all the time from private entities, and Warner Bros. rented the venue for a week and filmed several scenes from the movie there,” said Becky Colwell, general manager of Los Angeles’ Greek Theatre for SMG. “They were here for several days and because the whole movie is based around music, we knew they were using other venues and we were excited to have them here.”

The scenes in question were used to frame Gaga’s breakout performance as Ally, singing her signature duet with Cooper’s Jackson Maine, “Shallow.” In the scene, Maine gives a surprised and reluctant Ally a chance to perform a song she has written in front of thousands of fans.

In Colwell’s three years with the Greek, she said, this was the first time a major motion picture took over the whole site, with a “huge” crew setting up shop all around the venue.

While the production didn’t make any physical changes to the Greek to make it match first-time director Cooper’s vision, the crew did take over some backstage dressing room hallways, where they took down some of the iconic pictures from the venue’s history and replaced them with prop scenery.

“They loved the old rock ‘n’ roll feel here … we’re 89 years old and still striving for that feel,” Colwell said.

While she could not talks specifics, she said the rental rate was “a bit higher” than the usual one, plus some expenses tacked on top.

The one expense the production did not incur was a fee to use the venue’s name in the film or in promotional materials, unlike the 2010 Russell Brand-Jonah Hill comedy “Get Him to the Greek,” which had a higher fee because it used the venue’s name in the title and prominently featured it in the film and ad materials.

“We sit down with everyone (who wants to shoot here) to evaluate the impact on the venue and our community because (“A Star is Born”) wanted to do a lot of nighttime scenes and we’re in a residential area and we have strict rules about noise and traffic,” Colwell said. “We’re really sensitive to trucks coming through the neighborhood, so there are set times when that can happen.”


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Insomniac Acquires 50 Percent Of Amsterdam-Based ALDA
 
Posted: 17 Oct 2018, 6:07 am
Insomniac announced that it has entered into a partnership with ALDA, by acquiring 50 percent of the Amsterdam, Netherlands, based electronic music promotion and production company.

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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.

More...


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Concert Pulse: Jason Aldean, Kesha / Macklemore, Cake / Ben Folds Leap Onto Chart
 
Posted: 16 Oct 2018, 8:29 pm
The reports keep coming in and there are a total of 13 new artists on this week?s Global Concert Pulse Chart.

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Asia: Listen Up, Glow Sticks, Chinese National Anthem
 
Posted: 16 Oct 2018, 6:36 pm
The music public relations firm Listen Up has opened an office in Asia; actually, two offices, one in Shanghai and one in Hong Kong, according to Completemusicupdate.com. Asian business will be handled by Ryan Wilson, the former director of electronic music for the Asia-Pacific region at Sony Music.

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The Revivalists To ‘Take Good Care’ Of North America With Tour
 
Posted: 16 Oct 2018, 6:27 pm
With less than a month to go before the release of their new studio album, The Revivalists has unveiled the routing for its early 2019 headline tour.

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Mohegan's Next Bet Is In South Korea
 
Posted: 16 Oct 2018, 6:00 pm

MGE and Live Nation will work together to bring talent to Inspire Super Arena, a 15,000-seat venue that will be part of the Project Inspire development in South Korea. (All images courtesy MGE) 

Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment and Live Nation are partnering on Project Inspire, MGE’s $5 billion entertainment resort in South Korea.

The development is slated to open in 2021 and will feature a 15,000-seat indoor arena and an outdoor performance space. It will also house three major hotels, a theme park, retail, restuarants and other attractions.

"Inspire is an exciting part of our corporate strategy to expand our brand globally into markets that are not as saturated with casinos and entertainment attractions," said Tom Cantone, MGE senior corporate vice president of sports and entertainment. "South Korea fits that model as we prepare to open a multibillion-dollar integrated resort complex sitting next to one of the busiest airports in the world."

Inspire Super Arena will be near the Incheon International Airport, right in the heart of a burgeoning entertainment market. China is a short flight away.

Tom_1.jpgTom Cantone.

"Nice to have 700 million people within a 2 1/2-hour flight as your audience," Cantone said.

MGE and Live Nation have been partners in Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn., since 2001. The venue came in at No. 21 on Pollstar’s 3Q Worldwide Ticket Sales Top 200 Arenas chart.

MGE owns, develops and manages integrated resorts in Connecticut, Washington, Pennsylvania, Louisiana and New Jersey and owns the WNBA’s Connecticut Sun and the New England Black Wolves of the National Lacrosse League.

"Live Nation is already a successful partner of ours in Connecticut, with my friend Jim Koplik," Cantone said. "Our arena there is ranked among the top stop venues in the world. We wanted to take that relationship to the international stage."

Michael Rapino, Live Nation's CEO, said at the Goldman Sachs Communacopia Conference in 2017 that international expansion was a major part of Live Nation’s plans.

Cantone said it was important to connect with people on the ground who have experience in the market.

"Both Alan Ridgeway and Paul Antonio, who head up Live Nation in Korea, were excited to join forces with us," Cantone said. "We are looking forward to our partnership and to booking important Live Nation tours and A-list talent coming through Asia."

Inspire and MGE will operate the new arena.

"We have put together the most experienced international team of executive talent who are already on board and in motion." Cantone said. "All booking operations will be centralized out of my MGE corporate office in Conneticut, with coordination at the property level to maintain consistency."

In 2018 alone, Cantone's bookers, Joe Soper and Greg Romeyn, booked more than 600 events at MGE's properties in five states.

South Korea isn't the only international territory MGE has set its sights on. Canada is also in the mix via major casino properties now under construction.

Casino_Niagara.jpgCasino Niagara will be run by MGE starting next summer.

Effective next summer, MGE will assume the day-to-day operations at Fallsview Casino Resort and Casino Niagara, both in Niagara Falls, Ontario.

Fallsview has the 1,500-seat Avalon Ballroom Theater, and a 5,000-seat theater is being built next to the Fallsview Casino Resort to be called Niagara Falls Entertainment Centre. Casino Niagara does not have an entertainment venue.

Cantone was excited by the idea of booking operations in Canada, along with MGE's other properties.

"Add Korea and Canada to the mix (and) we will be one of the busiest bookers of live programming in the entertainment industry," Cantone said. "Combined with our other properties in the U.S., this could make for some very timely multiple venue deals and routing opportunities for so many artists.

"Once all of this is completed and in operation, you won’t recognize MGE in the next five years and it will be one of the premier global gaming and entertainment companies in the world," he said.

The news of this partnership comes on the heels of AEG’s announcement Sept. 30 of its partnership with Thailand’s The Mall Group, the venue operator’s first major investment in Southeast Asia.

 


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Security’s ‘Magic Formula’: Teamwork
 
Posted: 16 Oct 2018, 6:00 pm

Greg Parmley was head organizer of the first Event Safety and Security Summit last year after the Manchester Arena bombing. The second edition will be Oct. 30 in London. (Courtesy E3S)

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.

E3S_stacked_logo.jpgIt 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 returns for a second edition Oct. 30 at the Congress Centre in Central London, and 400 delegates are 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.

Parmely 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.

“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 at this year's E3S is 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.”

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.

Dakin is scheduled to hold a presentation titled “The Threat to Crowded Spaces” at E3S, which will be attended by representative from venues and venue operators around Europe, 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, Ethiad Arena 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 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 will be 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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Godsmack Cancels Tour After Death Of Guitarist’s Son
 
Posted: 16 Oct 2018, 5:48 pm
Godsmack has called off its run through Europe after guitarist Tony Rombola?s son Joe Fay died unexpectedly last week.

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OVG Hires L.A. City Council Member
 
Posted: 16 Oct 2018, 5:00 pm

mitchellenglender_200x1451.jpgMitchell Englander.

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. He was first elected in 2011. In 2013, he was selected by his peers on the council to serve as president pro tempore.

Englander will vacate his seat at the end of this year and join OVG effective Jan. 1. (OVG is the owner of VenuesNow.)


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Virgin Fest 2019: Richard Branson Announces U.S. Festival Series, Gets Star On Hollywood Walk Of Fame
 
Posted: 16 Oct 2018, 4:52 pm
After being the latest to get a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Virgin?s Sir Richard Branson announced a new venture called Virgin Fest coming to the U.S. for 2019, promising music, technological experiences, and a commitment to sustainability.

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Stagecoach 2019: Lineup Includes Luke Bryan, Sam Hunt, Jason Aldean & More
 
Posted: 16 Oct 2018, 3:48 pm
Goldenvoice?s Stagecoach California?s Country Music Festival has unveiled its initial lineup for its thirteenth incarnation, and tickets go on sale this Friday.

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HOT TICKETS: OCT. 18
 
Posted: 16 Oct 2018, 3:00 pm

U2 made its final stop on the U.S. leg of its Experience + Innocence tour at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn. (Sean D. Elliot/The Day)

U2 picked up the second half of its Experience + Innocence tour in August and hasn't slowed down since. Two dates in Madrid at WiZink Center grossed $6,734,444, with attendance of 30,816 and a ticket range of $45.40-$391.68, took the second spot in the category for venues with a capacity of more than 15,000 in our Hot Tickets chart this week. The promoter was Live Nation Global Touring.

Christina Aguilera is back with a bang. Riding high after her stint on "The Voice,"
Aguilera took the top spot in two capacity categories: 5,001-10,000 and 5,000 or less. Two performances at New York's famed Radio City Music Hall grossed $1,122,464, with attendance of 11,290 and a ticket range of $33-243.50. Live Nation and the in-house team were promoters for the 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 Sept. 18–Oct. 16.

15,000 or More Capacity

10,001-15,000 Capacity

5,001-10,000
Capacity

5,000 or Less
Capacity

1) Eric Clapton
Gross Sales:
$6,741,558; Venue: Madison Square Garden Arena, New York City; Attendance: 30,496; Ticket Range: $63-$744; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Oct. 6-7; No. of Shows: 2

2) U2
Gross Sales: $6,734,444; Venue: WiZink Center, Madrid; Attendance: 30,816; Ticket Range: $45.40-$391.68; Promoter: Live Nation Global Touring; Dates: Sept. 20-21; No. of Shows: 2

3) Drake
Gross Sales: $5,135,225; Venue: Toyota Center, Houston; Attendance: 45,594; Ticket Range: $59.50-$199.50; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Sept. 29-Oct. 2; No. of Shows: 3

4) Ed Sheeran
Gross Sales: $4,339,349; Venue: Soldier Field, Chicago; Attendance: 47,263; Ticket Range: $39.50-$119.50; Promoter: Messina Touring Group / AEG Presents; Dates: Oct. 4; No. of Shows: 1

5) Ed Sheeran
Gross Sales: $4,169,873; Venue: PNC Park at North Shore, Pittsburgh; Attendance: 41,014; Ticket Range: $43.50-$123.50; Promoter: Messina Touring Group / AEG Presents; Dates: Sept. 29; No. of Shows: 1

1) Jason Derulo
Gross Sales: $371,799; Venue: The SSE Hydro, Glasgow, Scotland; Attendance: 6,356; Ticket Range: $38.31-$71.43; Promoter: DF Concerts; Dates: Sept. 22; No. of Shows: 1

2) Jason Derulo
Gross Sales: $358,729; Venue: 3Arena, Dublin; Attendance: 6,137; Ticket Range: $52.90-$58.72; Promoter: MCD Productions; Dates: Sept. 19; No. of Shows: 1

3) Timbiriche
Gross Sales: $265,767; Venue: Infinite Energy Center, Duluth, Ga.; Attendance: 2,573; Ticket Range: $49-$304; Promoter: First Row Productions; Dates: Sept. 23; No. of Shows: 1

4) Jason Derulo
Gross Sales: $192,168; Venue: The SSE Arena, Belfast; Attendance: 3,664; Ticket Range: $48.70-$53.90; Promoter: MCD Productions; Dates: Sept. 20; No. of Shows: 1

5) Jim Gaffigan
Gross Sales: $189,440; Venue: Allen County War Mem. Coliseum, Fort Wayne, Ind.; Attendance: 3,666; Ticket Range: $47.75-$57.75; Promoter: Outback Concerts; Dates: Sept. 21; No. of Shows: 1

1) Christina Aguilera
Gross Sales: $1,122,464; Venue: Radio City Music Hall, New York City; Attendance: 11,290; Ticket Range: $33-$243.50; Promoter: In-House, Live Nation; Dates: Oct. 3-4; No. of Shows: 2

2) Leon Bridges
Gross Sales: $894,586; Venue: Radio City Music Hall, New York City; Attendance: 11,727; Ticket Range: $50-$90.50; Promoter: The Bowery Presents / AEG Presents; Dates: Oct. 5-6; No. of Shows: 2

3) Christina Aguilera
Gross Sales: $716,316; Venue: Mohegan Sun Arena, Uncasville, Conn.; Attendance: 6,051; Ticket Range: $76-$126; Promoter: In-House, Live Nation; Dates: Oct. 6; No. of Shows: 1

4) Janet Jackson
Gross Sales: $643,564; Venue: Mohegan Sun Arena, Uncasville, Conn.; Attendance: 6,712; Ticket Range: $59-$499.95; Promoter: In-House, Live Nation; Dates: Sept. 30; No. of Shows: 1

5) Game of Thrones Live Concert Experience
Gross Sales: $532,514; Venue: Mohegan Sun Arena, Uncasville, Conn.; Attendance: 5,412; Ticket Range: $59.50-$109.50; Promoter: In-House, Live Nation; Dates: Sept. 28; No. of Shows: 1

1) Christina Aguilera
Gross Sales: $339,739; Venue: Wang Theatre-Boch Center, Boston; Attendance: 3,368; Ticket Range: $41.25-$275.25; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Oct. 8; No. of Shows: 1

2) Joan Baez
Gross Sales: $283,533; Venue: Chicago Theatre, Chicago; Attendance: 3,548; Ticket Range: $41.50-$121.50; Promoter: In-House, Live Nation; Dates: Oct. 5; No. of Shows: 1

3) Jerry Seinfeld
Gross Sales: $261,730; Venue: Ziff Ballet Opera House-Arsht Center, Miami; Attendance: 2,374; Ticket Range: $67.50-$175; Promoter: In-House, JS Touring; Dates: Sept. 21; No. of Shows: 1

4) Chayanne
Gross Sales: $258,782; Venue: Wang Theatre-Boch Center, Boston; Attendance: 2,436; Ticket Range: $51-$151; Promoter: Cardenas Marketing Network; Dates: Sept. 27; No. of Shows: 1

5) Donny & Marie Osmond
Gross Sales: $246,371; Venue: Flamingo, Las Vegas; Attendance: 2,787; Ticket Range: $104-$283; Promoter: Caesars Entertainment; Dates: Sept. 18-22; No. of Shows: 5

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

 


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Jules Urbanski Upped To Agent At APA
 
Posted: 16 Oct 2018, 1:30 pm
APA has elevated Jules Urbanski from the agency training program to full-fledged agent, the company has confirmed to Pollstar.

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Pollstar 2019 Festival Hotstars: The Fever 333 Puts Its Stamp On Rock Festivals
 
Posted: 16 Oct 2018, 12:08 pm
The Fever 333 burst onto the scene from a U-Haul truck in the parking lot of Randy?s Donuts in Inglewood, Calif., on July 4, 2017. The date is fitting for the band?s origin story as The Fever 333 has quickly established itself as America?s newest hard rock voice of independence and protest ? and a band to watch for in 2019.

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LAFC's Virtual Reality Boost
 
Posted: 16 Oct 2018, 10:50 am

A portion of a screenshot from the new Banc of California Stadium app created by ROK360 shows the stadium's Founders Club. (Courtesy LAFC)

The owners of Los Angeles Football Club were finding it difficult to see beyond the dust on the ground and the steel girders rising into the air during construction of their Banc of California Stadium. To remedy the problem, architecture firm Gensler brought on ROK360 to create an augmented reality/virtual reality app to help with visualization.

“They couldn’t understand how the fixtures and entertainment finishes were going to be seen,” said Sanjay Mistry, founder and CEO of California-based ROK360. “It was well-received to the point where the executive owners all loved the fact they could walk around these environments and see what they were looking like.”

That construction-minded tool led LAFC to move the AR/VR technology to its ticket sales team. Then earlier this month, the Banc of California Stadium app was released to the public, showing off not only premium ticket spaces for soccer match days but also configurations for anything from an educational conference to a bar mitzvah to a concert.

“We are finding more and more people want to know what something looks like or how they can experience it,” Mistry said. “It needs to happen for every event space.”

In the stadium app, users can navigate through spaces they may not have otherwise been to, whether a field-level club or the popular Sunset Deck that overlooks the L.A. Coliseum and Hollywood Hills. From the pitch to the premium club spaces, users can select different camera angles and toggle through configurations and setups of spaces.

Banc of California Stadium opened in April at a cost of $350 million. Selling premium LAFC space in its 32 suites, 80 loge boxes and 1,975 club seats for games is important — the club announced in May 2017 that it had sold out all of its premium seating for its inaugural season in the stadium this year — but so is the continuing effort to bring in additional events outside of a match day.

Since opening April 29, the stadium has hosted 140 nonsoccer events, from 20 people to 22,000.

“We believe we have some of the best premium spaces in the industry, and this is another tool to get it rolling,” said Benny Tran, senior vice president of development and strategy for LAFC. “We hope it picks up in getting our name and stadium out there.”

Tran said having that VR experience during construction allowed the entire team to see what a space would look like before it was built, right down to the place settings on a table or the art hanging on the wall. Having that flexibility in a sales tool was key. The AR/VR was integral in the venue’s pre-opening sales center.

“The building is an expression of our brand,” he said. “It was really hard to communicate to folks what we were building and what we were doing.” Tran said they used the app to communicate the movement of people through new areas, they wooed potential sponsorship clients by skinning the VR space with company-specific décor and in-app experiences (one company keen on dinosaurs experienced a T-Rex running down the players’ tunnel) and even recruited players by showing them their future home and locker room. Mistry branded the spaces and activation pieces in the VR experience to match the clients. “We had a lot of cool activations and knickknacks in the system to interact with, become part of the pitches,” Tran said.

The events and conferences team has continued to use the app to sell, and Tran expects to further investigate ways to “explore new technology” with the app. Mistry, who has worked in small-scale sports projects before this, said he has clients in the corporate world who use the technology to make sure organizers of an event or meeting are on the same page with the facility team in charge of setting up a room. By getting everyone on the same page via VR, he believes companies — or venues — can save time and money by giving the client exactly what they ordered, down to where the furniture needs to be, without requiring last-second changes.

“The beauty is it is great for facilities,” he said. “Facilities can never guess what a client may want. It is a banquet room, but it could be a wedding or a bar mitzvah; they have a vision in their mind. What if we can narrow that vision down and help articulate the ideas in their head through this device? They have ideas of flowers or table layouts, but we can put them to bed much earlier in the conversation and get them excited about the event. We are finding more and more people want to know what something looks like or how they can experience it. We can make options available up front for customization.”

Tran expects LAFC to follow Mistry’s model of conceptually designing rentable spaces, giving details of what they can be, either for conference or to sell sponsorships. “The potential for this tool is even greater than what we used it for,” he said. “From our innovation perspective, we will focus on the guest experience and how you activate content and really engage customers. AR is a big component of that.”

“We have a really cool use case for VR,” said Christian Lau, vice president of information technology for LAFC. “It is proven that people like it. We will introduce additional functionality over time.”

Mistry hopes the positive feedback from LAFC will lead to new stadium-specific jobs. ROK360 just met with the San Francisco Giants of Major League Baseball and has been in talks with other potential clients.


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Experience Hendrix Tour Returns March 2019; Includes Joe Satriani, Billy Cox, Dave Mustaine, More
 
Posted: 16 Oct 2018, 10:09 am
The Experience Hendrix Tour returns in 2019 to celebrate the short yet impactful life of legendary guitarist and performer Jimi Hendrix.

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CTS Eventim Appoints Former AXS Marketing VP Daniel Brown UK CEO
 
Posted: 16 Oct 2018, 4:43 am
Daniel Brown, previously with AEG, has joined CTS Eventim as CEO of its UK subsidiary Eventim UK, while Nick Blackburn remains chairman and Dale Ballentine is promoted to COO.

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Ticketmaster Partners With Venue Operator & Promoter Zed Entertainment In Italy
 
Posted: 16 Oct 2018, 4:14 am
Ticketmaster Italy announced a partnership with Zed Entertainment Italy, one of the largest venue operators and promoters in Italy.

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Elite 100: Lil Wayne Stands Behind Drake, Lady Gaga’s Star Shines, For King & Country Rises
 
Posted: 15 Oct 2018, 5:39 pm
Drake still tops the Elite 100 Artists chart for the week ending Oct. 11, but his Young Money brother Lil Wayne is right behind him at No. 2 on the chart.

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25,000 Join Opening Celebrations Of AEG’s Mercedes Platz In Berlin, Germany
 
Posted: 15 Oct 2018, 1:38 pm
AEG and Daimler celebrated the inauguration of Mercedes Platz, the new entertainment district around Berlin's Mercedes-Benz Arena on Saturday, Oct. 13.

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Pollstar 2019 Festival Hotstars: ​Moon Taxi Pulls Out All The Stops
 
Posted: 15 Oct 2018, 1:08 pm
When the members of Moon Taxi stepped on stage at Bonnaroo this summer they brought the party with them, armed with video walls and a bunch of confetti.

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Boxoffice Insider: Music Festivals; Big Draws, Big Crowds, Big Bucks
 
Posted: 15 Oct 2018, 10:10 am
For countless music fans the biggest bang for the buck is the music festival with multiple days and stages and a trove of bands to see. In 2018 festival attendees experienced some of the music industry?s biggest draws on main stages throughout North America and around the globe.

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The Festival Market: What Is And What Should Never Be (And What Lies Ahead)
 
Posted: 12 Oct 2018, 6:07 pm
The North American festival market has exploded and transformed over the last couple decades, going from a handful of mammoth, European-esque camping festivals in giant fields to now encompassing seemingly any kind of event, offering everything from VIP surfing lessons with artists at Kaaboo Del Mar to all-night ?sleep concerts? at Noise Pop in San Francisco.

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Satisfaction Data With A Smile (Or Not)
 
Posted: 10 Oct 2018, 8:00 pm

HappyOrNot allow guests to rate customer service through easy-to-use terminals. (Courtesy HappyOrNot)

Philadelphia’s Wells Fargo Center is capturing its customers’ satisfaction level with the push of a button.

The 19,500-seat venue, home of the NHL Flyers and NBA 76ers, deployed 75 terminals from Finland-based HappyOrNot throughout the arena. Each “Smiley Terminal” is equipped with buttons representing a smile, a half-smile, no smile and a frown, ranging in color from green for happy to red for not happy.

“In our world, you can’t improve what you can’t measure,” Brad Winney, general manager and president of HappyOrNot Americas, said in a phone interview from Finland.

The battery-operated machines are placed at bathroom exits, next to concession stands, in parking lots and basically at any location where fans encounter customer service.

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.

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.

When the upgrades were announced, Schlegel’s team decided it was time to start gathering data on guest satisfaction, something that the HappyOrNot terminals help venue managers do — in real time if they choose to pay for that extra 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.”

Previously, post-event surveys used to collect customer satisfaction data 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.

Schlegel also hired a guest experience manager and recently launched a guest experience council, with council members representing every department in the arena.

“We find that it gives the department buy in, because they’re a part of the direction we want to go,” Schlegel said.

HappyOrNot launched in 2009 and started its U.S. division in 2013.

The San Francisco 49ers were the first major sports team to use the terminals and have 100 of them at Levi’s Stadium, Winney said.

The University of Georgia installed terminals at its baseball field, Foley Field, earlier this year, then added them at Sanford Stadium, the 92,746-seat home of Georgia football, for the current season.

The SMG-managed Greater Columbus (Ohio) Convention Center installed HappyOrNot machines at its venue Sept. 13. The venue has 50 terminals at bathrooms throughout its 1.8 million-square-foot property.

“Even though most of the data collected has been positive, we are still gathering measurable and actionable feedback,” said Ryan Thorpe, assistant general manager for the facility, in a statement. “The data collected has allowed our team to resolve service issues while customers are still on the premises.”


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United Center Eager For More Tennis
 
Posted: 10 Oct 2018, 2:00 pm

The Laver Cup's five sessions drew more than 90,000 people to Chicago's United Center in September. (Courtesy United Center)

United Center’s foray into major professional tennis proved to be a profitable venture for the facility, and it positions the city of Chicago as a host for events at the sport’s highest level, arena officials said.

The second annual Laver Cup, held Sept. 21-23 at the home of the NBA Bulls and NHL Blackhawks, drew 93,584 over the five sessions, resulting in one of the best-attended multiday events since the arena opened in 1994. Ticket prices ran from $200 a person to $10,000 a group for the highest level of premium hospitality packages.

United Center generated revenue through concessions, parking and rentals of its 150 suites. For merchandise, the building had a revenue share agreement with Laver Cup for seven retail locations in the arena and one site in the Laver Cup Fan Zone, a large activation set up outdoors next to the arena.

It marked the first major men’s tennis event at United Center and its first indoor competition since a 2012 exhibition with John McEnroe, Pete Sampras, Ivan Lendl and Jim Courier. For the city, it was the first high-profile men’s tennis competition since Volvo Tennis/Chicago in 1991 at the UIC Pavilion. At that event, John McEnroe defeated his younger brother Patrick.

The Laver Cup consists of two six-player teams, Europe and The World, and took place for the first time in Prague in 2017. It is named for Australian tennis legend Rod Laver, who won a record 200 singles titles, 11 Grand Slams and five Davis Cups for his native country.

Current superstar Roger Federer played a key role for developing the event to reach a younger audience by mixing up the traditional format tied to pairings, matches and broadcast production, said Joe Myhra, United Center’s vice president of business affairs. In addition to Federer, top Laver Cup competitors included Novak Djokovic of Serbia, winner of the 2018 U.S. Open; Kevin Anderson of South Africa; and John Isner, among the top American tennis players.

Laver Cup is a group effort involving tennis agency TEAM8, Tennis Australia, the U.S. Tennis Association and Brazilian billionaire Jorge Paulo Lemann. Primary sponsors are Rolex, JPMorgan and Mercedes-Benz.

United Center won the event bid against multiple U.S. arenas, in large part because of the more than 1 million square feet inside the building and the parking lots next to the facility on the 40-acre property, according to Myhra.

“We’re the largest arena in North America, and we maxed it out for this event,” he said.

United_Center_Laver_Cup_secondary.jpgThe Laver Cup Fan Zone offered a chance to watch the pros warm up, plus views of action inside and the Chicago skyline. (Courtesy United Center)

The Laver Cup Fan Zone was a big piece of the overall production. The centerpiece was an enclosed practice court, a 6,000-square-foot, five-story glass building that allowed fans to watch players warm up before their matches. An LED board attached to the court showed competition from inside the arena.

The fan zone extended to an International Tennis Hall of Fame history showcase, arcade-style tennis games, Wilson racket stringing and a premium lounge exclusively for JPMorgan Chase credit card holders. Event sponsors Barilla pasta held cooking demonstrations and Grey Poupon supplied its mustard for the fan zone and all player and hospitality areas.

“When we first bid the event, the biggest challenge was being able to fit it in our schedule,” Myhra said. “We’re a busy building. They needed almost three weeks to build the practice facility and we had to work around Blackhawks preseason games and concerts. We worked with the city to shut down streets and develop a transportation plan. We had a lot of international visitors using public transit and ride-share programs.”

Inside the arena, officials installed temporary seating at both ends of the floor to accommodate tennis, which has a much smaller surface than basketball and hockey. As part of that process, United Center officials had to design an elevated structure to bridge those temporary seats to improve sightlines and bring fans sitting in those sections closer to the tennis court.

The goal was to match the look and feel of last year’s Laver Cup with the design and implementation, Myhra said. United Center had a Blackhawks preseason game set for Sept. 25, two days after Laver Cup, which left arena operations crews with 48 hours to get the facility ready for hockey.

As part of their effort to connect with a newer audience, Laver Cup officials set up cameras on the net and on the floor, plus a mobile camera overhead providing views similar to those looking down on the huddle at NFL games. Overall, 36 broadcast cameras were used for Laver Cup, more than for Stanley Cup games at United Center in recent years, Myhra said. Tennis Channel and Amazon Prime were among several media outlets broadcasting and streaming Laver Cup internationally.

Hospitality was a major element of the overall experience during Laver Cup. United Center, in conjunction with Levy, its concessionaire, transformed the building’s 190,000-square-foot atrium, which opened just last year, into a premium food space. It’s not typically used to serve food and drink, but Levy did a fantastic job executing that piece of the operation, Myhra said.

“This event will always be on our radar, but the issue will be if and when they come back to North America, will they go to the same market or a different city,” he said. “Obviously, on the way out, we reminded them that we had a successful event and would love to host it again.”

 

 


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Ruth Eckerd Hall CEO Retires
 
Posted: 10 Oct 2018, 1:50 pm

Zev_Buffman_200x145.jpgZev Buffman.

Zev Buffman has retired as president and CEO of Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater, Fla.

Buffman held the position for seven years. His contributions to the Florida venue included the major expansion now underway, new opportunities at Coachman Park and the reopening of the Capitol Theatre.

In 2012, Buffman was instrumental in launching The Grammy Museum’s Music Revolution Project, a tuition-free, annual four-week program that offers 20 to 30 talented youths from across the Tampa Bay region the chance to engage in musical workshops, songwriting courses and mentoring sessions and to record original material that they’ve written. More than 100 students have participated in the program over the past six years.

During Buffman’s tenure, Ruth Eckerd Hall experienced record-breaking ticket sales. The venue was ranked #6 among theaters in the world by Pollstar this year.

Susan Crockett, the facility's chief operating officer, has taken over as interim president. She will work with oversight by the board of directors, led by Chair Jana Jones. The board is forming a search committee to identify a replacement for Buffman.

 


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WW, Barclays Center Go Freestyle
 
Posted: 10 Oct 2018, 1:00 pm

Celebrity chef Cat Cora designed the menu for the new WW Freestyle Café, which opened in Brooklyn's Barclays Center on Oct. 4. (Courtesy Barclays Center)

Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., is partnering with WW — known until last month as Weight Watchers — and has launched the WW Freestyle Café: BKLYN; a first-of-its-kind WW space in the arena.

The cafe offers a diverse menu of healthy Mediterranean dishes as well as Cense wine, a lower-calorie product introduced last year by WW through a partnership with a winemaker.

Dishes inspired by WW's Freestyle program are also available at 10 of the arena’s other concession stands. The cafe opened Oct. 4.

Celebrity chef Cat Cora, the newest WW ambassador, curated the menus for the cafe in collaboration with Barclay's concessionaire, Levy.

"The goal is to inspire healthy eating habits that fit into people’s lives while showcasing the livability of the WW Freestyle program," said Pawel Brzeznski, vice president of hospitality strategy for Barclays Center. "We thought a collaboration between WW and Barclays Center would be a great fit."

The relationship between Barclays Center and WW was initiated by WW CEO Mindy Grossman, who also sits on the advisory board of BSE Global, which oversees programming, marketing, sales and operations for the arena. There is a financial arrangement between WW and Barclays Center, but neither party wanted to reveal the exact numbers involved.

"People want to integrate healthier living into their daily lives," said Sherry Thompson, WW's senior vice president of U.S. marketing. "We have the ability to inspire people to adopt healthy habits through this partnership."

Cora's menu features a variety of Mediterranean-inspired entrees, sides and desserts. Dishes include grilled street corn, sesame lamb meatballs, a Mediterranean Buddha Bowl, baked “fried” jalapeño poppers and more.

Thompson said WW picked Cora because she "is committed to wellness and is an advocate for healthy cooking. Her cuisine brings fun, healthy and creative dishes to the Barclays Center – making it easy to eat healthy on the go, even in a stadium setting."

"The food is really good, high quality and presented beautifully," Brzeznski said. "Everything is locally sourced."

All the menu items are moderately priced, he said.

The cafe menu also features nutritional information and the number of WW "SmartPoints" that each food item equals.

Thompson said that while the cafe is the first venture that WW has done with a venue, it may not be the last.

"We look forward to seeing where it takes us," she said. "As we aim to make wellness accessible to all, we continue to explore ways to bring that mission to life."

 


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Per Caps Pop For Red River Showdown
 
Posted: 9 Oct 2018, 9:00 pm

Cotton Bowl Stadium in Dallas is the longtime home of the Oklahoma-Texas football rivalry game. (Getty Images)

The Ed Campbell Co. set a Cotton Bowl Stadium record for concessions sales at Saturday’s Texas-Oklahoma football game despite restrictions on serving beer at the Dallas venue, said Ed Campbell, the vendor’s owner and operator.

The food and beverage per cap surpassed $9, a strong number considering those restrictions and the 250 food/drink locations operating just outside the stadium across Fair Park during the State Fair of Texas, Campbell said. Plus, the 88-year-old facility is limited on premium amenities with no suites or club seats.

The 2018 game, billed as the AT&T Red River Showdown, drew 92,300 fans. Doing the math, concessions revenue topped $830,000. It’s a number that would grow substantially if Campbell could sell beer at the stadium’s 45 permanent stands.

For years, the vendor has complied with regulations set by the two Big 12 Conference schools limiting in-venue alcohol sales. As it stands now, serving alcohol at Cotton Bowl Stadium is restricted to a few VIP areas and a beer garden in the south end zone with a capacity of 350. But as more colleges adopt public beer sales at their on-campus facilities, including the University of Texas, which began the practice in 2015 at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium, there’s a renewed focus on eliminating those restrictions for the Texas-OU game.

The Sooners remain a holdout, although school officials are studying the issue for Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium and could bring a recommendation for public beer sales to the OU Board of Regents later this month, according to local reports. In-state conference rival Oklahoma State University began selling beer at Boone Pickens Stadium this season.

In Dallas, many ticket holders buy and consume alcoholic beverages elsewhere at Fair Park before heading into the game. In addition, fans are allowed to leave the stadium at halftime and have a drink before coming back through the gates for the second half, he said.

The setup creates some logistical headaches at the facility, which opened in 1930 and has tight concourses. Expanding beer sales inside the stadium, in addition to creating a new revenue stream for the vendor and Fair Park, would help reduce congestion just before kickoff and after halftime, Campbell said.

“It would simplify a lot of things,” he said.

For this year’s game, Campbell expanded menu items to include pork and brisket nachos, soft tacos, quesadillas and fajitas, Philly cheesesteaks, shrimp kabobs, hot deli sandwiches and a carving station.

For the third year, national restaurant chains On the Border and Chili’s plus local BBQ eatery Sonny Bryant’s had branded stands at the stadium. Those establishments supply staff and equipment and pay Campbell a percentage of sales.

As part of stadium upgrades, the construction of a second commissary on the west side under the press box has helped streamline operations, Campbell said. It joins an older commissary on the east side.

Apart from OU-Texas, Cotton Bowl Stadium plays host to the Texas Southern-Southern University game Oct. 20 and the Servpro First Responder Bowl on Dec. 26.

Elsewhere, The Ed Campbell Co. runs food service for the Walk-On's Bistreaux & Bar Independence Bowl game in Shreveport, La., and multiple high school football stadiums in Greater Dallas-Fort Worth, some of which seat 15,000 to 20,000 fans.

The vendor also contracts with the Majestic Theatre, a historic 1,700-seat performing arts center in downtown Dallas.

The 2018 Texas-OU game marked the 43rd consecutive year Campbell has worked the event at Cotton Bowl Stadium. The run includes the first seven years he was employed with the old ARA Leisure Services, now Aramark.


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Cooking Up Fiserv Forum's Menu
 
Posted: 9 Oct 2018, 9:00 pm

For Levy senior executive chef Kenneth Hardiman, local connections mean fresh food and beverage choices for fans at Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee. (Courtesy Levy)

When it came time for Levy to start designing the menu for Milwaukee’s new Fiserv Forum, the focus wasn’t so much specific items or what might work given the layout of the arena.

Instead, it was more “How do we think of this as best-in-class quality food and work backward from there to make it work in an arena atmosphere,” said Justin Green, Levy vice president of hospitality at the arena. 

That meant that, for Fiserv Forum, the menu and partners came first, then the equipment, pricing, concession design and detailed touches, such as all hot dogs coming grilled with a toasted New England-style split-top bun assembled when ordered, even if that increases labor costs.

The venue opened in early September with several concerts. The NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks played their first preseason game there Oct. 3 and will play their regular-season home opener Oct. 19. The Bucks operate the arena.

Levy has championed its MKEats program inside Fiserv Forum, a local-first connection. But beyond the marketing promotion, Green said, the program accounts for 90 percent of its menu across its 17 concession stands and 34 portable kiosks. “It is our mainstay and our rock that holds our food program together,” he said. That means the vast majority of food comes from local chefs already popular in the community.

To further the local theme, 95 percent of items — whether food or the 100 percent compostable vessels food is served in —come from Wisconsin.

As the Levy team designed the menu, it worked with building designers to ensure that each of the 17 concession stands could operate as mini-restaurants, functioning independently. With their own fully functioning space for equipment, storage and walk-in coolers and freezers, each of the 17 was designed for personal utility. “We said forget about what has been done before, what makes this space the most functional it can be?” Green said.

Fiserv_Forum_-_Iron_Grate_BBQ_Board_300.JPGBarbecue Board from Iron Grate BBQ Co. served at Fiserv Forum. (Courtesy Levy)

Then came creating the MKEats program, giving each of the 17 mini-restaurants an association with a local partner, everything from Canal Street Pizza to Gold Rush Chicken and FreshFin Poké to Iron Grate BBQ Co. to the Laughing Taco. A few of the stands will also include in-arena staples, such as hot dogs, but many offer only their own fare. You’ll find a few other local staples fill in the kiosks, such as at the one called Say Cheese. More than a handful of local purveyors have worked with the Levy team to create in-arena exclusives that Kenneth Hardiman, senior executive chef at Fiserv Forum, said might one day move from the arena into restaurants.

When it came time to build the menu from a blank slate, Green said a group of people got into a room and asked where the best of the best in terms of local food resides. They then started reaching out and contacting those folks. Once word got out, restaurants were coming to the Milwaukee Bucks and Levy asking to be included. “I would say that nearly 100 percent of what you see in Fiserv Forum came from that initial group asking who we know will be the best in our building,” Green said. “That is how everything started.”

Levy won’t disclose financial structures of the partnerships, but Green said that in most cases they involve multiyear commitments.

“We were building with local as the foundation and then took some of the things we know we can knock out of the park and use it to fill in the gaps,” Green said. That meant using past data to show what was popular in the BMO Harris Bradley Center, where the Bucks played from 1988 through earlier this year.

Hardiman decided to bring over popular items such as the Sobelman’s Burger and hot dogs. This time, though, he is partnering with Klement's Sausage for a consistent dog across the entire arena with toasted buns to "elevate" the choice. He uses the same buns from the bakery that Sobelman’s uses at its Wisconsin locations for the burgers, all cut in the arena and stocked immediately before each event.

“Those are the types of little touches and nuances we are paying attention to,” Hardiman said. “We are looking at the details, and that is what makes restaurants great.”

On the beverage side, the relationship with Miller remains a constant, “the one thing that I would say we didn’t change,” Green said. Even still, a new Drink Wisconsin initiative grew the beer selection. With bars built as anchors of the concourses, all with views into the bowl, the bar experience grew.

Levy decided that if it could build something better than what people expected in the sports and entertainment world, it could drive sales through quality.

“We were very cautious to make sure pricing with local partners was very close, if not on par, with pricing within their locations,” Green said. “I would say that was driven on what we do here and what our menus looked like, less than looking at trends in the market in other areas.”

Hardiman said his team will focus heavily on analytics, especially early on, to watch for obvious trends. There will be adjustments made event to event, but those will be on the production side, such as the queuing of lines and point-of-sale location comparisons. From a food perspective, don’t expect a major pivot in the menu — simply adjustments as they see the behavior of fans in the new space.

Already, Green said, they have seen the success of their approach. “People are forgoing having to go out to dinner before the event,” he said, “and go to the Forum because there is such an array to choose from.”


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Survey: Discounts Get Them Off Couch
 
Posted: 9 Oct 2018, 4:00 pm

Millennials and Gen Xers are more likely to binge-watch TV than attend a live event, according to a new online survey from Euclid.

Never before have there been so many high-quality, easy-to-access experiences at the click of a button right from your couch. Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime Video provide visual entertainment; Spotify and Pandora have all the music you could want.

With so many choices right at the fan's fingertips, enticing consumers to get up and leave the house to attend a live event is becoming more and more challenging.

Euclid, a company that provides fan data to retail outlets and venues, conducted a study to determine how venues can go head-to-head with the on-demand service, focusing on millennials and Gen X. The survey was conducted online and studied 1,500 consumers.

"We’re living in the golden age of ways to spend our time," said Brent Franson, Euclid’s CEO.  "For venues and arenas, competition is no longer confined to just different live events like other concerts and sporting events. Now it’s Netflix and DoorDash delivery. The competition is everywhere."

Case in point: The survey revealed that millennials are far more likely to spend their time binge-watching TV shows at home than regularly attending live concerts and sporting event. Sixty-five percent said they binge-watch while 24 percent said they attended a live concert or sporting event once a week or more.

Franson said that in today's landscape, where "consumers simply have so many high-quality, convenient options to spend their time and dollars on," venues need to fine-tune their thinking if they want to get those people out of the house and into a venue.

The deal-breaker for most? Cost. Sixty-four percent of those surveyed indicated interest in attending an event but said that high ticket prices made more frequent attendance a no-go. Forty-three percent said getting to event locations was simply too inconvenient.

Fans were in agreement that discounts are, by far, the most powerful motivator to get them to buy a ticket. Twenty-five percent of those surveyed said they bought a ticket after seeing a discount available, which suggests that targeted marketing featuring a price cut is a vital tool for getting to those consumers.

Twenty-three percent of the respondents bought as a group, underscoring the emphasis on having fun with family and friends.

Convenience is the second most powerful tool in the venue toolbox, according to the survey. Fifty-six percent said that priority seating selection, priority entrance and dedicated parking spots all motivated them to attend.

The main event is not necessarily the prime draw for those surveyed. Only 31 percent said they went to a live event to focus solely on the event itself.

Interactive experiences with a digital component are a must-have. Fifteen percent said they share on social media. Twenty-six percent of millennials and Gen X eventgoers surveyed ranked Wi-Fi access as vital; 21 percent said premium suites and lounges were a draw.

Apps are gaining popularity, with 67 percent saying that they use venue apps to find locations throughout the facility. Sixty-five percent use an app to order concessions or buy merchandise.
An interesting conclusion of the survey was that while men and women regularly attend live events, women are still being underserved.

Fifty-two percent of the women surveyed said they attended a sporting event in the past year, and 64 percent attended a concert, but 44 percent of women said they were unlikely to purchase concessions.

"Stadiums and arenas need to know who is coming to their live event more than ever before," said Franson. "They’ve likely coasted on assumptions around their attendees and, in turn, have underserved audiences like women."

Franson suggests that creating in-arena experiences based on the monolithic targeting of large demographic groups is no longer effective or useful.

"That big, broad brush just won’t allow venues to cater to the Amazon crowd in the way they expect," he said. "Today’s consumer wants a degree of curation and personalization that was previously unthinkable."

The appeal of streaming services is driven by their personalized recommendations and convenience, he said.

"In contrast, 43 percent of those surveyed said venues and arenas are simply too inconvenient," Franson said. "Another 36 percent were content to watch the event at home.

The study concluded that the biggest takeaway is to give the fans what they want — a good deal, integrated digital experiences and convenience.

"Venues need to play to modern consumer preferences for personalization and convenience while exploiting their one clear advantage: the live experience itself," Franson said. "By providing unique, socially shareable experiences that can’t be replicated at home, venues can guarantee an experience worth the time, effort and cost of getting off the couch and to the event."

The survey was conducted via a panel sampling that involved recruiting members from an affiliate site, where they are asked to register and confirm their interest in taking multiple surveys over an extended period of time.

Panel participants are then invited by email to take those surveys based on qualifying demographic and psychographic characteristics, including caliber of survey response, length of time on the panel, shopping habits, vacation preferences and other attributes. The survey sampled 1,503 people in the U.S. The margin of error is plus or minus 3 percentage points with a 95 percent confidence interval.

 


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HOT TICKETS: OCT. 11
 
Posted: 9 Oct 2018, 3:00 pm

Jay-Z and Beyoncé brought their On the Run II tour to the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif., on Sept. 22.  (Getty Images)

The combination of husband and wife Jay-Z and Beyoncé on concert stages continues to pack a punch, with the duo grabbing the No. 1 and 2 spots on our Hot Tickets 15,000-plus-capacity chart this week. Their show at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, nabbed the top spot with a gross of $5,713,124, attendance of 41,626 and a ticket range of $20-$320. Their stop at Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans took the second spot, grossing $5,437,146 and drawing a crowd of 40,939, with a ticket range of $20-$290. Both shows were promoted by Live Nation Global Touring.

Taking the top spot among venues with capacities of 10,001-15,000 was Cirque du Soleil's “Ovo.” Seven shows at First Direct Arena in Leeds, England, grossed $931,806; attendance was 16,674 and tickets ranged from $31.17 to $84.42. The promoter was also 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 Sept. 11–Oct. 9.

More Than 15,000 Capacity

10,001-15,000 Capacity

5,001-10,000
Capacity

5,000 or Less
Capacity

1) Jay-Z, Beyoncé
Gross Sales:
$5,713,124; Venue: AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas; Attendance: 41,626; Ticket Range: $20-$320; Promoter: Live Nation Global Touring; Dates: Sept. 11; No. of Shows: 1

2) Jay-Z, Beyoncé
Gross Sales: $5,437,146; Venue: Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans; Attendance: 40,939; Ticket Range: $20-$290; Promoter: Live Nation Global Touring; Dates: Sept. 13; No. of Shows: 1

3) Ed Sheeran
Gross Sales: $5,161,682; Venue: Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia; Attendance: 54,292; Ticket Range: $39.50-$119.50; Promoter: Messina Touring Group / AEG Presents; Dates: Sept. 27; No. of Shows: 1

4) Taylor Swift
Gross Sales: $4,884,054; Venue: Dome at America’s Center, St. Louis; Attendance: 47,831; Ticket Range: $49.50-$499.50; Promoter: Messina Touring Group / AEG Presents; Dates: Sept. 18; No. of Shows: 1

5) Jay-Z, Beyoncé
Gross Sales: $4,426,568; Venue: Univ. of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, Ariz.; Attendance: 37,174; Ticket Range: $20-$320; Promoter: Live Nation Global Touring; Dates: Sept. 19; No. of Shows: 1

1) Cirque du Soleil – “Ovo”
Gross Sales: $931,806; Venue: First Direct Arena, Leeds, England; Attendance: 16,674; Ticket Range: $31.17-$84.42; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Sept. 19-23; No. of Shows: 7

2) André Rieu
Gross Sales: $871,325; Venue: NYCB Live: Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, Uniondale, N.Y.; Attendance: 10,752; Ticket Range: $55-$115; Promoter: André Rieu Productions; Dates: Sept. 22; No. of Shows: 1

3) Journey, Def Leppard
Gross Sales: $799,795; Venue: Isleta Amphitheater, Albuquerque; Attendance: 11,673; Ticket Range: $39.50-$179.50; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Sept. 18; No. of Shows: 1

4) Shania Twain
Gross Sales: $704,094; Venue: The SSE Arena, Belfast, Northern Ireland; Attendance: 9,543; Ticket Range: $55.84-$81.82; Promoter: MCD Productions; Dates: Sept. 29; No. of Shows: 1

5) André Rieu
Gross Sales: $537,400; Venue: EagleBank Arena, Fairfax, Va.; Attendance: 6,254; Ticket Range: $53-$113; Promoter: André Rieu Productions; Dates: Sept. 20; No. of Shows: 1

1) Philipp Kirkorov
Gross Sales: $524,074; Venue: Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden, New York City; Attendance: 4,510; Ticket Range: $90-$470; Promoter: Six Row Productions; Dates: Sept. 23; No. of Shows: 1

2) Arcade Fire
Gross Sales: $522,258; Venue: Greek Theatre, Los Angeles; Attendance: 5,869; Ticket Range: $59.50-$125; Promoter: Live Nation, Nederlander Concerts; Dates: Sept. 20; No. of Shows: 1

3) Miguel
Gross Sales: $351,477; Venue: Greek Theatre, Los Angeles; Attendance: 5,860; Ticket Range: $44.50-$99.50; Promoter: Live Nation, Nederlander Concerts; Dates: Sept. 19; No. of Shows: 1

4) J Balvin
Gross Sales: $330,715; Venue: Selland Arena, Fresno, Calif.; Attendance: 4,253; Ticket Range: $39.50-$350; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Sept. 19; No. of Shows: 1

5) Sting, Shaggy
Gross Sales: $279,508; Venue: Daily’s Place Amphitheater, Jacksonville, Fla.; Attendance: 5,562; Ticket Range: $20.25-$151.50; Promoter: Live Nation Global Touring; Dates: Sept. 14; No. of Shows: 1

1) Joan Baez
Gross Sales: $427,840; Venue: Beacon Theatre, New York City; Attendance: 5,553; Ticket Range: $59-$149; Promoter: Metropolitan Entertainment Consultants; Dates: Sept. 21-22; No. of Shows: 2

2) Hozier
Gross Sales: $421,390; Venue: Beacon Theatre, New York City; Attendance: 8,293; Ticket Range: $46-$76; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Sept. 24-26; No. of Shows: 3

3) Ringo Starr & His All-Starr Band
Gross Sales: $408,515; Venue: Chicago Theatre, Chicago; Attendance: 3,550; Ticket Range: $59-$246.50; Promoter: Elite Entertainment, Parachute Concerts; Dates: Sept. 22; No. of Shows: 1

4) The Piano Guys
Gross Sales: $399,048; Venue: The Star Theatre at The Star Performing Arts Centre, Singapore; Attendance: 4,252; Ticket Range: $56.92-$129.89; Promoter: LAMC Productions; Dates: Sept. 25; No. of Shows: 1

5) Sting, Shaggy
Gross Sales: $276,823; Venue: Fillmore Miami Beach at Jackie Gleason Theater, Miami Beach, Fla.; Attendance: 2,690; Ticket Range: $32.75-$157.75; Promoter: Live Nation Global Touring; Dates: Sept. 15; No. of Shows: 1

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

 


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‘Extremists Do Not Discriminate’: Q’s With Carl Dakin, Founder Of Dakin Consulting Ltd. In London
 
Posted: 9 Oct 2018, 11:13 am
Pollstar speaks with Carl Dakin, the founder of Dakin Consulting,a company providing security, business continuity and emergency management services out of London, about safety and security at live events.

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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.

More...


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Nine's The Number For Pink
 
Posted: 3 Oct 2018, 5:40 pm

Pink recently completed the Oceania leg of her Beautiful Trauma world tour with a ninth performance at Sydney’s Qudos Bank Arena, marking the longest run of shows ever for a solo artist at the arena during its 19-year history.

The pop star set a venue record for total tickets sold during one tour with 143,367 during her nine-show run. That surpassed the record set by Katy Perry, who drew 93,841 fans for six concerts during her Prismatic world tour in 2014.

In a statement, Qudos Bank Arena general manager Steve Hevern remarked “It is an amazing number of tickets sold by an amazing artist, and it’s a record that I believe will stand for a very long time.”

The three-time Grammy Award winner is accustomed to massive crowds Down Under. Performing multiple concerts at venues in Australia and New Zealand is the norm for her tours. According to Pollstar box office archives, Pink concerts in Oceania were attended by more than 1.3 million fans during her three most recent tours: I’m Not Dead (2007), Funhouse (2009) and The Truth About Love (2013). A total of 119 shows were reported during those treks with overall box office earnings at $127 million.

The current jaunt — supporting her seventh studio album, “Beautiful Trauma,” released in October 2017 — kicked off March 1, beginning with a stretch of North American dates through June 1. Her Oceania leg followed, starting July 3 in Perth, Australia, and finishing Sept. 19 with the Sydney finale.

Only a handful of box office counts have yet been reported for the Aussie run, promoted by Live Nation. In addition to the Sydney arena’s total tickets, overall sold seats at RAC Arena in Perth reached 59,553 for four shows, and Auckland’s Spark Arena moved 71,273 tickets for six concerts.

Pink will not resume the tour until March, when she is set to begin the trek’s final leg, a three-month, 33-city North American run through May 22.


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Sky High Over NYC Venue's First Year
 
Posted: 3 Oct 2018, 2:00 pm

The Seaport District's Rooftop at Pier 17 opened its doors Aug. 1. (All photos courtesy Howard Hughes Corp.)

The Seaport District’s Rooftop at Pier 17, a 1.5-acre open-air venue in New York City that sits along the East River with a stunning backdrop of the Brooklyn Bridge, the Empire State Building and the Statue of Liberty, opened Aug. 1 with a show by comedian Amy Schumer. It ends its inaugural season Oct. 13 with a concert by Mike Shinoda. By all metrics the first year at the venue was a smash hit: The venue has sold out 18 of the 23 shows Live Nation programmed for its inaugural run.

The facility's capacity is 3,506 standing and 2,250 seated.

20180803_CTC5320.jpgPier 17 is part of a $791 million renovation to the NYC landmark pier in downtown Manhattan.

The rooftop venue is part of a larger renovation of Pier 17 that cost $791 million,
according to Saul Scherl, regional president of the New York Tri-State Region at The Howard Hughes Corp., which funded the renovation and owns the NYC landmark.

"We are beyond pleased; we are ecstatic about the first year," he said. "We opened with a small, diverse group of concerts and were thrilled with the fan reaction."

The entire pier space is 349,000 square feet. Office space and high-end restaurants will join the rooftop venue next year. ESPN has signed as the first office-space tenant.

"We will have five unique restaurants starting with Joean-Georges Vongerichten, which will open in 2019. David Chang will open next, followed by Andrew Carmellini," Scherl said.

"It was a fantastic start," said Stacie George, senior vice president, Live Nation, New York. "It went better than we ever thought it would. We were impressed with the response from opening week. Amy Schumer sold out, then Kings of Leon sold out two shows. We couldn't have hoped for a better start to the season."

Pricing for the venue is "all over the map," she said. "On the lower end we had tickets at $35; on the higher end, Premium 1 tickets went up to $250. We priced it right for the New York audience."

The space offers food trucks — four of them brought onto the roof —  VIP cabana lounges and an opportunity to watch the shows in a "cozy yet comfortable setting," Scherl said.

ShoP Architects designed most of the pier renovation, but the rooftop venue, which is quickly becoming known for its groundbreaking stage design called “dematerialized,” was created in collaboration with Symmetry Labs’ Alexander Green, he said.

Built in New York, the stage design is made up of 400 individual cubes composed of 150,000 controllable LEDS.

St_Lucia_092118_Pier_17_8.jpgSt. Lucia, backed by dazzling lighting and the NYC skyline, played Pier 17 during the summer.

"It creates a really unique dynamic," he said. "The cubes are transparent, and color plays a big part of the experience."

Fast Traffic Events & Entertainment, founded by former NFL executive Frank Supovitz, and Populous Events consulted on venue development from a patron flow perspective.

George believes the convenient location, about a seven-minute walk from major subway lines, make Pier 17 the perfect addition to the busy New York City live performance space scene.

"Downtown Manhattan needed a venue like this," George said. "It's unlike any venue the city had before we opened. The skyline views are incredible. Seeing a show with the New York City landmarks right in front of you is an incredible experience. The guests were thrilled to have us and so glad we built the venue."

The season at Pier 17 this year was a shortened season; organizers wanted to be sure the venue was ready before programming concerts. Next year, Live Nation will present the first show in May, nearly three months earlier.

"The demand was so great this year (that) we want to start much earlier to accommodate
all the fans," George said. "We plan to double the amount of shows next year."

George said that booking a diverse slate of genres was the key to making the venue work and that she plans to employ the same strategy for next year.

"It takes all different types of artists to please the varied tastes of the many different types of people in New York City that want to come out for a concert," she said. "I think our across-the-board approach was one of the reasons we flew out of the gate so strongly."

George said she also keeps in mind that there are "people of such different ages in the city, and we want to have something for people of every age to want to see."

1029584838.jpgDeadmau5 was one of the artists that played Pier 17 in its inaugural year.

This year's eclectic lineup included performances by Ziggy Marley, Deadmau5, All Time Low, Diana Ross and Dashboard Confessional. Coming up are 88rising, Slash, Pink Martini and Shinoda.

Shows go on rain or shine at Pier 17. "We had Sting and Shaggy a few weeks ago and it rained," said George. "We gave out ponchos. No one left or complained. It's part of the open-air concept experience and the fans go with the flow— they're New Yorkers, after all."

Sting_Shaggy_092618_Pier_17_3.jpgSting and Shaggy played Pier 17 and, despite the rain, the fans loved it.

The venue also programmed free movie nights with movies such as "Sex and the City" and "The Greatest Showman" for the community.

Concessions are provided in-house. This year food selections "ran the gamut" from ceviche to pretzels, but hopes are to incorporate some of the tenant restaurants for next year, Scherl said.

Heineken, Pepsi and automobile brand Lincoln are venue sponsors.

"It's a one-of-a-kind venue," George said. "New York has never seen a venue like this, and after just the one year of operation, people are already calling Pier 17 an iconic venue."

 


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HOT TICKETS: OCT. 4
 
Posted: 3 Oct 2018, 1:35 pm

Diego Schoening, Alix Bauer, Erik Rubin, Mariana Garza, Sasha Sokol and Benny Ibarra of Timbiriche and Maite Perroni speak during the Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards Mexico 2018 at Auditorio Nacional on Aug. 19 in Mexico City. (Victor Chavez)

The power of live touring is felt all over the world, and this week an international show featuring hot Latin group Timbiriche topped our 5,001-10,000-capacity chart with two shows at Auditorio Nacional in Mexico City, with a gross of $1,188,350. Combined attendance was 19,085; the ticket range was $18.29-$130.66 for the OCESA/CIE-promoted tour.

Also hitting highs outside the U.S. was Canada's Shania Twain, who grabbed the two top spots on our 10,001-15,000-capacity chart with stops in Dublin and Glasgow, Scotland.
Twain's two shows at 3ArenaDublin topped the chart with a gross of $2,157,346, attendance of 24,606 and a ticket range of $66.35-$98.94. The promoter was MCD Productions. Twain's second chart entry, two performances at SSE Hydro in Glasgow (which is celebrating its fifth birthday and is featured in October's VenuesNow), grossed $2,072,319, with attendance of 21,131 and a ticket range of $32.47-$110.39. Promoter was DF Concerts.

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. 4-Oct. 2.

More Than 15,000 Capacity

10,001-15,000 Capacity

5,001-10,000
Capacity

5,000 or Less
Capacity

1) Taylor Swift
Gross Sales:
$9,530,275; Venue: NRG Stadium @ NRG Park, Houston; Attendance: 53,800; Ticket Range: $49.50-$499.50; Promoter: Messina Touring Group / AEG Presents; Dates: Sept. 29; No. of Shows: 1

2) Taylor Swift
Gross Sales: $6,730,137; Venue: Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City, Mo.; Attendance: 58,611; Ticket Range: $49.50-$499; Promoter: Messina Touring Group / AEG Presents; Dates: Sept. 8; No. of Shows: 1

3) Taylor Swift
Gross Sales: $6,531,245; Venue: Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis; Attendance: 55,729; Ticket Range: $49.50-$499; Promoter: Messina Touring Group / AEG Presents; Dates: Sept. 15; No. of Shows: 1

4) Taylor Swift
Gross Sales: $6,491,546; Venue: Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans; Attendance: 53,172; Ticket Range: $49.50-$499.50; Promoter: Messina Touring Group / AEG Presents; Dates: Sept. 22; No. of Shows: 1

5) Eagles
Gross Sales: $5,982,028; Venue: Forum, Inglewood, Calif.; Attendance: 41,019; Ticket Range: $59.50-$399.50; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Sept. 12-15; No. of Shows: 3

1) Shania Twain
Gross Sales: $2,157,346; Venue: 3Arena, Dublin; Attendance: 24,606; Ticket Range: $66.35-$98.94; Promoter: MCD Productions; Dates: Sept. 26-27; No. of Shows: 2

2) Shania Twain
Gross Sales: $2,072,319; Venue: The SSE Hydro, Glasgow, Scotland; Attendance: 21,131; Ticket Range: $32.47-$110.39; Promoter: DF Concerts; Dates: Sept. 19, 21; No. of Shows: 2

3) Arctic Monkeys
Gross Sales: $1,891,427; Venue: 3Arena, Dublin; Attendance: 25,430; Ticket Range: $69.26-$80.90; Promoter: MCD Productions; Dates: Sept. 24-25; No. of Shows: 2

4) Cirque du Soleil - “Ovo”
Gross Sales: $1,075,332; Venue: The SSE Hydro, Glasgow, Scotland; Attendance: 15,822; Ticket Range: $34.09-$90.91; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Sept. 5-9; No. of Shows: 7

5) Kylie Minogue
Gross Sales: $1,038,520; Venue: The SSE Hydro, Glasgow, Scotland; Attendance: 11,206; Ticket Range: $64.94-$194.81; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Sept. 30; No. of Shows: 1

1) Timbiriche
Gross Sales: $1,188,350; Venue: Auditorio Nacional, Mexico City; Attendance: 19,085; Ticket Range: $18.29-$130.66; Promoter: OCESA / CIE; Dates: Sept. 14-15; No. of Shows: 2

2) Dave Matthews Band
Gross Sales: $816,810; Venue: Lake Tahoe Outdoor Arena at Harveys, Stateline, Nev.; Attendance: 8,598; Ticket Range: $95; Promoter: Another Planet Entertainment; Dates: Sept. 7; No. of Shows: 1

3) Cher
Gross Sales: $816,695; Venue: Newcastle Entertainment Centre, Broadmeadow, Australia; Attendance: 5,520; Ticket Range: $88.11-$220.27; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Sept. 26; No. of Shows: 1

4) Carlos Vives
Gross Sales: $683,400; Venue: Radio City Music Hall, New York City; Attendance: 5,736; Ticket Range: $81-$181; Promoter: Cardenas Marketing Network; Dates: Sept. 22; No. of Shows: 1

5) A.R. Rahman
Gross Sales: $546,580; Venue: Smart Financial Centre at Sugar Land (Texas); Attendance: 5,732; Ticket Range: $55-$350; Promoter: Star Promotions; Dates: Sept. 15; No. of Shows: 1

1) “Aladdin”
Gross Sales: $4,312,989; Venue: Fox Theatre, Atlanta; Attendance: 58,966; Ticket Range: $26-$150; Promoter: Broadway Across America; Dates: Sept. 12-23; No. of Shows: 16

2) “Springsteen On Broadway,” Bruce Springsteen
Gross Sales: $1,927,620; Venue: Walter Kerr Theatre, New York City; Attendance: 3,792; Ticket Range: $79-$850; Promoter: Thrill Hill Productions; Dates: Sept. 26-29; No. of Shows: 4

3) Nine Inch Nails
Gross Sales: $703,646; Venue: Fox Theatre, Atlanta; Attendance: 8,317; Ticket Range: $45-$175; Promoter: In-House; Dates: Sept. 26-27; No. of Shows: 2

4) Widespread Panic
Gross Sales: $683,810; Venue: St. Augustine (Fla.) Amphitheatre; Attendance: 12,105; Ticket Range: $57-$72; Promoter: AEG Presents; Dates: Sept. 14-16; No. of Shows: 3

5) ¿Qué Pasa, USA? Today
Gross Sales: $507,710; Venue: Ziff Ballet Opera House – Arsht Center, Miami; Attendance: 5,667; Ticket Range: $39-$199; Promoter: In-House, Loud and Live; Dates: Sept. 28-30; No. of Shows: 4

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

 


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Blues Add Space For Merchandise
 
Posted: 3 Oct 2018, 1:00 pm

The improvements offer more space to display Blues jerseys. Vladimir Tarasenko's No. 91 (right) was among the league's top sellers on NHL.com last season. (Courtesy Levy)

The St. Louis Blues have overhauled their merchandise operation at Enterprise Center, effectively doubling the amount of retail space at the 24-year-old arena and folding all retail under the STL Authentics brand.

The Blues teamed with Levy Rank + Rally, their retail provider, and architect Generator Studio on the project. The upgrades are part of the second phase of arena renovations, a $42 million in-vestment shared by the concessionaire.

The improvements add 38,000 square feet to the arena, including 10,000 square feet on both the club level and the mezzanine level, said Chris Zimmerman, the Blues’ president, CEO of busi-ness operations and alternate governor.

“When you walked in the arena before (at the main entrance), it was an open atrium up to the roof as you came in off of Clark Avenue,” Zimmerman said. “We added at both the club and mezzanine levels concrete slabs which created incremental space for our new club lounge and store and a new retail area upstairs. It’s dramatic space that did not exist before.”

Blues_Secondary.jpgThe STL Authentics brand, launched last year for game-used pucks, has expanded to cover all Blues retail items. (Courtesy Levy)

On the club level, the STL Authentics Shop, measuring 585 square feet, offers items to premium patrons that are not available anywhere else in the arena, Zimmerman said. The STL Authentics brand, which was launched last year for game-used pucks sold to the public, now covers all Blues retail items, he said.

The new mezzanine store, encompassing 2,000 square feet, has a different look and caters to impulse buys with a wide selection of novelties, headwear and T-shirts for fans sitting in the upper deck, said Alison Weber, Levy’s chief creative officer, who was principally involved in the retail project.

At street level, the STL Authentics Team Store now runs 4,100 square feet, compared with 2,500 square feet under the old layout. Additional space was created by relocating the old Blue Line Club, a premium lounge next to the team store, to event level, said Tom Proebstle, Generator Studio’s founding partner and design director.

“Our main store was one of the smaller ones of any arena,” Zimmerman said. “We weren’t creating a very attractive and engaging shopping experience. During intermissions and pregame, people saw an area with long lines and a struggle to move around, which put us at a disadvantage.”

The bigger footprint enables Rank + Rally, in partnership with Adidas, the NHL’s official retail supplier, to offer a greater selection of Blues headwear and knitwear, which was missing in in the old setup, Weber said.

There’s also more display space for jerseys, like those bearing the name and number of Vladimir Tarasenko, the Blues’ star right winger. His No. 91 was the 10th-best-selling jersey in the league for the 2017-18 season, according to NHL.com.

In addition, Rank + Rally created a special-edition T-shirt, “Straight Outta SoCo,” which refers to Patrick Maroon, a new Blues player from St. Louis County. Those shirts, one example of a “hot market” item with limited supply, will be displayed in the windows facing the street in the renovated store, Weber said. As part of the local focus, Rank + Rally signed deals with Normal and Lusso, two St. Louis custom apparel firms marketing to men and women, respectively.

“They curate different designers to feature their products in our stores to make that specific local connection that gives the fan a different experience than they may have at a big box retailer,” Weber said.

Levy took over the Blues’ merchandise in 2015 before its retail group became Rank + Rally (Levy has been the team’s food provider since 2008). E15, its data analytics group, teamed with the Blues’ in-house analytics division to survey 2,000 fans and get feedback on arena merchandise.

“The fact that you could not actually go in and find the merchandise and buy it was really a challenge for fans,” Weber said. “Our goal was to take advantage of more retail space to broaden our product mix around the men’s lifestyle, women’s and youth categories. The other intention was to make sure we had adequate space to create seasonal products and limited quantity to engage fans on a more regular basis.”

Rank + Rally now provides retail for 23 big league and college teams. Its client roster recently expanded by eight teams after Levy signed a deal with AEG Merchandising to take over retail at Staples Center and StubHub Center, both in the Los Angeles area, and Target Center in Minneapolis.


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The Challenge Of Feeding Timbers Fans
 
Posted: 3 Oct 2018, 11:30 am

Fans of Major League Soccer's Portland Timbers crowd into 92-year-old Providence Park for a match. (Tim Newcomb)

PORTLAND, Ore. — A 92-year-old stadium provides all sorts of logistical challenges for Major League Soccer’s Portland Timbers, but its abundance of character helps the Timbers create a revered game-day experience.

Providence Park, capacity 21,144, is home to an active sellout streak over 125 straight games that started the moment Portland joined MLS in 2011, and supporters help power the atmosphere with their singing, chanting and general merriment.

But feeding the frenzy, literally, presents challenges for concessionaire Levy.

Dealing with an old stadium isn’t anything new in the world of soccer, where European leagues boast iconic relics aplenty. And age isn’t entirely unheard of in North American sports, which boasts some tried-and-true NCAA venues and Major League Baseball’s Wrigley Field in Chicago and Fenway Park in Boston, both more than a century old.

What makes Providence Park unusual in North America is the mix of age with nature of soccer itself. The action never stops save for a short halftime, creating “inherently more challenges than sports that have breaks,” said Ben Forsythe, Levy’s general manager at Providence Park.

Mike Golub, Timbers president of business, said, “Soccer, by virtue of its game structure, is a bit different. It is more challenging, but also adds to the game environment.” The vast majority of fans crush into the stadium 30 minutes before game time and generally remain loaded into their seats during both 45-minute halves, not wanting to miss a goal.

“People are completely engaged and riveted on what is going on the field, ultimately leading to the tremendous environment we have,” he said. “We have 21,144 people really glued to what is happening and invested in the game.” But the lack of breaks in the game may prevent fans from joining in another round of beers or visiting the team store.

The margin for error becomes small, especially on the food and beverage side, because of the limited window to serve fans, Forsythe said. Even with 90 minutes to two hours of ingress, Levy still sees the majority of sales happening in the last 20 to 30 minutes before the game starts.

“We just have to be a lot more specific on prep timelines,” Forsythe said. “It is like the Kenny Rogers song. We have to know when to hold and know when it needs to be sold.” He likened the pregame timeframe to a slow ramp-up till a half-hour before the game, when they take the leash off and get as much food into the holding window as possible, knowing it will sell within minutes.

Once the game starts it becomes a quick change for Levy staff (Levy is in its first year at Providence Park but retained much of the same team that Centerplate had running the venue).
They’re still taking care of the stragglers while racing to reset before the halftime rush, which starts five to 10 minutes before the official 15-minute break.

That’s where the age of Providence Park comes into play. With the majority of food production and keg storage in the kitchens downstairs because of the lack of space on the original concrete concourse, getting everything up the freight elevator and through the tight confines of the historic venue before halftime starts becomes essential.

“If we are not reset for halftime 10 minutes prior, our product is going to get caught in the same crowd everyone else is in,” Forsythe said. “It is a precision drop sequence with two really hot periods.” In those periods before the game and at halftime, Levy handles 80 percent of sales in just 45 minutes of time.

Forsythe said “menu engineering” is critical to handle the rush, as entrees and drinks prove most popular before the game and snacks and beer at halftime. Dishes must get prepared fresh and quickly. Some items have partial prep that allows for a quick finish to get them out of the window.

Providence Park and Levy have tried to make the food experience authentically Portland, a local partnership strategy that not only lends authenticity to the experience but also helps with freshness.

The Timbers partner with Zenner’s Sausage, meaning the all-beef hot dog — the top-selling food item in the stadium — is made less than half a mile from the stadium, placed in Franz buns made less than two miles from Providence Park. Partnering with the Food Cart Alliance brings a local purveyor inside the stadium and additional partnerships, such as the highly visible Portland Timbers agreement with Tillamook Cheese, seen via branded concession stands and advertisement inside the seating bowl, allows Forsythe to create limited runs of specialty loaded tots and quesadillas, among other everyday items.

Turning to the specialty items, early preparation and condensed quantities help create newfound features each game without adding too much of a time wrinkle into the already congested scheduling.

“With our partnerships, we offer what Portland offers and a traditional stadium experience with a cool, local flare,” Forsythe said.

Maybe because, well, Portland, or maybe thanks to the nature of soccer, beverages tip toward a 60 percent to 40 percent lead in sales at Providence Park, with Portland-based Widmer Brothers’ IPA the reigning king. Getting kegs in place for halftime requires a bit of a dance.

“We try to avoid changing kegs during the halftime rush,” he said. “We have kegs strategically placed. We are a small, older stadium. It requires a lot of creative thinking.”


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Flores Returns To McAllen
 
Posted: 2 Oct 2018, 3:00 pm

02.jpgYajaira Flores.

The city of McAllen, Texas, has hired Yajaira Flores as director of the McAllen Convention Center facilities, which includes the McAllen Convention Center, McAllen Performing Arts Center, Oval Park and Quinta Mazatlán.

Flores has more than 15 years of experience in public assembly facility management, strategic event planning and event marketing. She spearheaded the grand opening of Bert Ogden Arena in Edinburg in August in her role as director of booking and marketing for the arena and H-E-B Park. 

She previously spent nine years working for the city of McAllen venues. 

Flores has also served as adjunct professor of marketing in the College of Business Administration at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley in Edinburg since 2014.


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For Vancouver, A New Vintage
 
Posted: 2 Oct 2018, 1:05 pm

The interior of Lot185  Café + Wine Bar, the latest addition to the Vancouver Convention Centre. (Courtesy Centerplate)

European flair has come to Vancouver (British Columbia) Convention Centre, in the form of Lot185 Café + Wine Bar.

The new venue overlooks the waterfront Jack Poole Plaza and is open to the public.

"This new space will embrace the modern aesthetic of the convention center while offering a casual dining experience for both visitors and Vancouverites," said Craig Lehto, the center’s general manager.

Lot185 takes up two floors in a corner of the 466,500-square-foot convention center that used to house a café that had only “about 6 to 8 seats.” The new space has seating for 80 people in 2,425 square feet. HCMA Architecture + Design was the designer.

"We wanted to develop that corner and put more of our culinary efforts on display for the general public," Lehto said.

The improved coffee bar by day and wine bar by night features locally roasted coffee, fresh basked pastries made in-house, tapas-style small plates and a B.C.-forward wine and beer list, complemented by a selection of international wines.

The project was initiated two years ago. Construction began early this year, and the grand opening was Sept. 28. The project cost “hundreds of thousands of dollars,” Lehto said.

“We expanded the space substantially,” said Andrew Pollard, general manager and regional vice president for Centerplate, the venue's concessionaire. "We created a second level. So now the lower level is the cafe and the upper level is the wine bar and food preparation."

It's a no-hidden-kitchen concept, and the customers can see their food being made in front of them.

"All the cooking is done right there under your nose," Pollard said. "We've got some really cool equipment we are using up there, including wood-fire pizza ovens, a self-ventilated grill and a neat little panini machine, and all these things can operate without a hood so there's no nasty looking ventilation unit above the food prep area."

"We also got to sneak in another Chef's Table (the convention center's VIP room) where we can wine and dine VIPs who are coming to check out the center for future bookings," Lehto said.

Pollard said the center plays host to about 80 Chef’s Table experiences a year. "The Chef's Table room has glass windows and a great view of the plaza and Stanley Park," he said.

The menu was created by executive chef Mark Massicotte with assistance from executive pastry chef Maurizio Persichino.

"The menu is reflective of the best of British Columbia," Lehto said. "We are using a lot of local products. The wine and craft beer selections are also drawn from local flavor."

Lehto said the menu was inspired by Italian and Mediterranean influences.

Everything is prepared from scratch, he said. "We really want to show off our in-house bakery items, and there's a separate counter near the door, so customers can easily swing by and get the best baked goods in the city."

Lehto described the pricing as "moderate and competitive with the surrounding competition."

The new space joins the two kitchens already operational in the convention center, one in the east building and one in the west building. Also still operational is the Coal Harbour Cafe, which has been a mainstay in the convention center for 15 years.  The convention center opened in 1987.

 

 


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TOP STOPS - OCTOBER 2018 - AVAILABLE NOW
 
Posted: 1 Oct 2018, 10:00 pm

Click here to view the October 2018 Top Stops.


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NY AND METLIFE STADIUM ♥ CHESNEY
 
Posted: 1 Oct 2018, 11:00 am

Country artists that can sell out stadiums are rare, especially if those stadiums aren’t in classic country territory. Kenny Chesney can boast that his highest-grossing single-show stop was at a New York-area stadium.

Chesney’s Aug. 18 concert at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., grossed more than $6.8 million from 58,642 total tickets sold, a total higher than New Jersey hometown star Bruce Springsteen has ever attained.

Ron VanDeVeen, MetLife Stadium President and CEO, is quite the Chesney fan.

“When we did the first show in 2011, there were questions on whether country would work in the New York City and New Jersey market on such a large scale,” VanDeVeen said. “The show sold out, it was an electric atmosphere, and that was the beginning of a great partnership with Kenny and his team.”

This year’s Trip Around the Sun tour was Kenny’s sixth show at MetLife Stadium, VanDeVeen said.

“Kenny became our No. 1-selling artist, which is an amazing feat for a country artist to accomplish in this market,” he said. “Kenny’s shows are not just concerts — they’re all-day events. He’s created an atmosphere where his fans come out early, tailgate, have a good time and get to see six hours of music.”

VanDeVeen is thrilled with the relationship his venue and Chesney have developed, as well as the way Chesney connects to his fans.

“We’re building a tradition with his shows where the fans come back year after year,” he said. “I’m looking forward to the day we get to announce show No. 7.”


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DRAKE TAKES MANHATTAN — AND BROOKLYN, TOO
 
Posted: 30 Sep 2018, 8:00 pm

Drake, on the road with Migos, had a nice run at Madison Square Garden and Barclays Center. (Getty Images)

Drake is out of the gate with his Aubrey & the Three Migos tour, which launched in August with a North American trek booked through November. He appears on Hot Tickets with sales figures from the two New York City arenas on the schedule: Manhattan’s Madison Square Garden and Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

Combined revenue from both facilities lands just under the $15 million mark for the Canadian-born rapper, who sold 114,710 tickets at seven performances in the Big Apple. The Garden hosted the artist for four nights — Aug. 24-25 and 27-28 — drawing 70,703 fans with a gross totaling $8.7 million, Barclays followed with concerts on Aug. 30-31 and Sept. 1 and a $5.8 million take from 44,007 sold seats.

Drake is touring this year with hip-hop trio Migos - both on the road with new albums to promote. Drake’s “Scorpion,” his fifth studio release, arrived June 29, and Migos released its third studio set, “Culture II,” in late January.

The two New York arenas also earn a slot on the Top Stops chart for venues with seating capacities in the 15,001-30,000 range. Madison Square Garden owns the No. 1 ranking based on reports from four events that occurred during the Aug. 16-Sept. 15 eligibility time period. In addition to Drake, the arena also hosted Jeff Lynne’s ELO for two nights (Aug. 21-22), Dierks Bentley (Sept. 8) and Childish Gambino on Sept. 14 and 15. The Drake concerts were the only event reported for Barclays Center during the time frame, but the arena still ranks fifth on the chart.

MORE LIVE! HIGHLIGHTS
• Pink, Katy Perry, Bob Dylan and Queens of the Stone Age all score a ranking on Hot Tickets with concerts at the 12,200-seat Spark Arena in Auckland, New Zealand. Between the four acts, more than 100,000 tickets were sold.

• Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn., tops its category on Top Stops with eight shows reported and 52,793 total tickets. Country star Keith Urban was the top grosser with a two-show run (Sept. 7-8) and a $1.3 million gross.

• Boston’s Wang Theatre at Boch Center hosted recent shows by Anita Baker (Aug. 16) and Joan Baez (Sept. 14-15). Both artists moved 92 percent of the available tickets for their engagements at the venue. 


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THAT WAS THEN, AND THIS IS NOW: INTIX AT 40
 
Posted: 30 Sep 2018, 8:00 pm

1979 was the year! Milwaukee was the place and Patricia G. Spira, then box office manager at the performing arts center, was miffed. And so was Richard Carter over at the Minnesota Orchestra Hall.  Both had asked their general managers for funding to attend a weeklong course on box office management at Banff and both had been unceremoniously turned down. The rest is history. I know these two people and I know that getting their dander up was just the right catalyst and right moment for change and creation! 

They took matters into their hands and the bull by the horns and in the ensuing weeks Box Office Management International was born, funding secured, location booked, program created, invitations sent and folks from around the world were saying “Yes, hold a space, our box office manager will be there.” In Mrs. Spira’s words from the INTIX 20th anniversary history book, “They were coming to Milwaukee for a 3-day conference during the coldest month of the year because they wanted to share experiences, they wanted to see what others were doing, they wanted to talk ticketing … this was for box office people … it was their meeting. It was to give them a professional presence, to them the opportunity to talk to each other as peers about the subjects that concerned them on a day-to-day basis, to talk about what they knew best … better than anyone else in the world … ticketing.” When you have a great plan, a strong message and an enduring mission they will stand the test of time.  The name was changed in 1997 to the International Ticketing Association, but the core values remain. 

Fast forward to January 2019 and INTIX will celebrate its 40th anniversary with a Texas-sized celebration and conference Jan. 29-31 at the Gaylord Texas Resort & Conference Center. Entertainment ticketing professionals will once again gather for their annual tribal festival that celebrates the mission of Igniting Success for those who are ticketing professionals, for those that serve the entertainment industry and for those that have made this a lifelong career path. The INTIX “tribe,” as the members identify themselves, is a community that continues to meet to exchange ideas, to discuss trends, to teach each other, to learn from one another and to act as the standard bearer for the industry. The members represent not just ticket offices of all sizes and types of venues but the leaders of technology and services. These individuals and businesses all agree that exemplary service, ethics, integrity and professionalism are paramount for the trust of our customers, fans and patrons and for an enduring, profitable, and safe industry. 

Attendees came from around the world for that first educational and networking conference and they still are coming to the INTIX Conference and Exhibition. At that first conference reps from around the world were talking about the brand-new customized computerized ticketing system of the Milwaukee Brewers; customer service; customer communication; the newly installed computer system at the Shubert Organization; and how to get the “maximum amount of information to the teams’ management.

Some things don’t change, especially when the fundamentals of service, technology, information and data are concerned. At INTIX 2019 the workshops and breakouts will see familiar yet modern versions of technology, service, data, venue experience, and information. Topics will range from technology workshops on bots; legal battles; credit card fraud; blockchain; text messages to drive acquisition and loyalty; culture change and moving icebergs; customer data; revenue reinvention; digital marketing; venue safety and security; and innovative omni-channel distribution strategies, among others. 

Top-shelf vendors and providers will fill the exhibition hall and kiosk pavilions and offer thought leadership on the trends and challenges we collectively are seeing on the horizon. Cynthia Marshall, CEO of the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks, will open the 40th conference with a keynote address to the attendees. This Texas celebration is not one to be missed. Come celebrate our history, our present and our future Jan. 29-31.

There are many voices but if you want the definitive voice on ticketing today and for the future you come to INTIX.  After all, as Pat said then and it’s still true today, to talk about what we know best and “better than anyone else in the world … ticketing.”

Early bird rates of $842 (member rates may apply) are available until Oct. 31st at www.intix.org.  I will see y’all there!

ALSO: The Dynamics of Dynamic Pricing: The practice has become commonplace in some parts of the industry, but is it an effective counterpoint to the secondary market?


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BIG ADDITION
 
Posted: 30 Sep 2018, 8:00 pm

The I Love the ‘90s Tour played the Cowlitz Ballroom on April 22, only a little more than two weeks after it opened at Ilani in La Center, Wash. Other acts that have played the venue include Little Big Town, Pitbull and Amy Schumer. (Courtesy Ilani)

Ilani, an Indian casino that opened in April 2017, has added a sparkling new 2,800-seat entertainment and meeting destination this year called the Cowlitz Ballroom to the 156-acre site in La Center, Wash., which is 25 miles north of Portland, Ore. The new venue, which is adjacent to the Ilani casino, shops and restaurants, opened April 5.

The site was developed by the Cowlitz Tribe and Salishan-Mohegan LLC, a partnership that includes gaming and entertainment developer and operator Mohegan Sun, which operates the highly successful Mohegan Sun Casino Resort in Uncasville, Conn. It includes 100,000 square feet of gaming space with 2,500 slots and 75 gaming tables, plus 15 restaurants, bars and retail outlets.

With the addition of the new 22,000-square-foot Cowlitz Ballroom, the venue now takes up nearly 400,000 square feet of the sprawling Cowlitz Indian reservation.

The new ballroom  cost “about $25 million,” said Kara Fox-LaRose, president and general manager of the Cowlitz Ballroom. Fox-LaRose has been with Mohegan 22 years and on the Ilani project for 2 1/2 years. “It’s been exciting to watch Mohegan evolve and to bring that operating philosophy of ‘guests first’ to this project,” she said.

The funding was provided by the Cowlitz Tribe and Mohegan through traditional financing methods, she said, and Mohegan is the managing partner.

The Cowlitz Tribe has been in the region since “time immemorial” and endeavored to establish itself as a federally recognized tribe for quite some time before achieving that recognition on Valentine’s Day in 2000, Fox-LaRose said.

“The tribe purchased the reservation, which is located within the footprint of the 2 million acres the tribe once owned before being forced off their land,” she said. “The Cowlitz Tribe established the partnership with Mohegan in 2004 because the two tribes are really aligned by their core values.”

“The guest experience is top-of-mind to us (and) to Mohegan, and we’re always looking at things through the guest’s eyes,” she said. “Mohegan has taught us we’re in the business of creating memories.”

The Cowlitz Tribe mission is “to free the spirit” and “celebrate life with the moments that are lasting and memorable,” she said. “With that in mind, we are creating an aspirational brand.”

It wasn’t an easy road for the Cowlitz Tribe. “The project was held up in court for almost a decade,” Fox-LaRose said. “The tribe prevailed, and here we are today.”

Though it opened a year after the casino, the new meeting and entertainment space was planned from the start.

The Cowlitz Ballroom has a top capacity of 2,800. The seats are removable and stored in the back of the house when the space is being used for exhibits or other meeting events.

“We can flip the seats in about 24 hours,” Fox-LaRose said. “The space can also be divided by movable airwalls into smaller spaces, depending upon what’s needed. We have 30 different configurations we can offer to meeting-space clients.”

“It’s really the most intimate venue in the region,” she said. “To be able to experience the arena-sized acts we are bringing in, in this type of setting, is a really special experience for the audience.”

Little Big Town performed the Cowlitz Ballroom’s inaugural concert April 12.

The country band was quickly followed by a private event headlined by Jay Leno and shows by Amy Schumer, Pitbull, Buddy Guy, Sublime and the I Love the 90’s Tour. On deck are Alanis Morissette, Paul Anka, the World of Dance tour and the Leann Rimes Christmas Show.

“We’ve really been able to leverage our corporate team at Mohegan Sun,” Fox-LaRose said. “They work directly with all the major talent agents and promoters and help us book the room.”

Tom Teesdale, vice president of marketing, has been with Ilani since 2016 and spends his time “attracting the very best talent for folks to some see up close and personal. A typical show is 2,500 people, and everyone has the best seat in the house. The talent we are booking typically plays in arenas and football stadiums, and to be able to present them in our venue provides a tremendous opportunity for the guests.”

Teesdale said that the intimate nature of the venue provides for excellent sightlines and that its accessibility from Portland and Seattle, 150 miles to the north, makes selling shows a breeze.

He said he is thrilled to have (senior vice president of sports and entertainment) Tom Cantone and his team at Mohegan Sun as a partner. “I don’t think there’s anyone who won’t take a call from Tom Cantone,” Teesdale said. “Mohegan has been very helpful to us in putting the shows together. We get top talent that typically only play in bigger rooms.”

“When you look at talent like we’ve been attracting, it’s amazing,” he said. “Those relationships are what the business is all about.”

“Our average guest is a 54-year-old female and a 48-year-old male,” Teesdale shared. “But we’re also pulling in plenty of millennials and Gen Z. Our proximity to Portland — a 20-minute drive — certainly helps with that.”

“We’re grateful to the artists that already performed here,” he said. “To have the caliber of entertainer that has been so willing to play here creates a wonderful experience for everyone and helps spread the word that an intimate venue like ours exists.”

VIPs can be rewarded with show tickets, Teesdale said, and opportunities are available for casino players with a Momentum Card, a player’s reward card. “One of the great things about the Momentum program is that players can earn tickets just by playing at the casino,” Teesdale said.

The closest entertainment venue to Ilani is Sunlight Amphitheatre, 10 miles to the north, but instead of competing with that venue, the Ilani team has struck up a relationship. “We take a partnership approach and book around their shows to be respectful,” Fox-LaRose said. “We want to be good neighbors so our customers can take advantage of their offerings as well.”

Food and beverage is provided in-house by Ilani Concessions. Beverages and merchandise are available during the shows. The Ilani team also provides F&B for meeting events.

“The new venue is connected to the existing casino and has numerous restaurants and bars for the guests to visit before and after an event,” she said.

Restaurants in the casino area include Chef Jet, I.talia Pizzeria, Line & Lure, Longhouse, Michael Jordan’s Steak House, Rose & Thorne, Smashburger, Taco Cantina, Tom’s Urban and Starbucks.  Shopping experiences include the Cowlitz Trading Post, fashion boutique Marshall Rousso and Ruby Blue, which offers women’s apparel and accessories.

The venue has already played host to meetings, trade shows and social events, which are being sold by a dedicated sales team that is “working on building our business-to-business success as we move into the future,” Fox-LaRose said.

Fox-LaRose also pointed out that the the Muze Lounge, another performance space adjacent to the casino floor, remains open. “We provide free weekly entertainment there,” she said. “We showcase national entertainers and tribute bands, and it creates an environmental element for our gaming guests. We can fit 1,000 people in that venue.”

Performers who have played the Muze Lounge include En Vogue, Eddie Money, Sister Sledge and Quarterflash.

Fox-LaRose also expressed her belief that the high-end construction and appearance of both the original venue and the new venue were attracting guests. “The facility is a first-class facility and built with high-quality aesthetics, much like the Mohegan brand,” La-Rose said. “The design is abstract-contemporary, and the guests continually tell us the facility is attractive, warm and welcoming, and someplace they want to spend some time in.”


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ACROSS THE SEA FROM L.A., HOLLYWOOD'S GOLDEN AGE
 
Posted: 30 Sep 2018, 8:00 pm

Santa Catalina Island’s historic casino is one of Southern California’s hidden treasures. While it doesn’t offer gambling — Catalina Casino takes its name from the Italian word meaning “gathering place” — it does offer a wealth of history and entertainment.

And once a year, it becomes a destination for fans of smooth jazz. The casino’s ballroom hosts the 32nd annual Catalina Island JazzTrax Festival Oct.11-14 and 18-21. Artists advertised for this installment include Basia, Candy Dulfer and Adam Hawley.

The venue sits in the town of Avalon on Catalina Island, as it’s known locally. The island, which has about 4,200 residents, lies just “26 miles across the sea” from Los Angeles and was immortalized by the Four Preps in their chart-topping hit from 1957.

Once visitors have traveled those 26 miles, the casino acts as a time machine, transporting visitors back to Hollywood’s Golden Age.

“Walking in the ballroom is like stepping back in time. When you do it the first time, your jaw drops,” said Art Good, producer and creator of JazzTrax, which began in 1987.

Even after all these years, Good said, he enjoys seeing that look of awe in the crowd: “When they walk in the ballroom for the first time you can see the look on their face. It’s amazing. There’s nothing like it. The festival’s on an island in a 1929 ballroom, overlooking the ocean.”

The building, designed in the art deco style, opened May 29, 1929, just in time for summer visitors. The casino attracted movie stars and directors who danced the night away while the era’s superstar bandleaders and their musicians played into the night. The island became a playground and movie backdrop for the rich and famous over the next several decades.

The 20,000-square-foot ballroom is the 12-story oceanfront facility’s pièce de résistance. It features a 50-foot ceiling with chandeliers, an elevated stage for bands, and raised seating areas encircling a dance floor that can accommodate 1,500 dancers. It’s the world’s largest circular ballroom without supporting pillars.

The venue was a pet project of confectionery millionaire William Wrigley Jr., who bought the entire island sight unseen in 1919. He brought his Chicago Cubs baseball team there for spring training for many years and built his wife a home on a hilltop in the seaside village of Avalon with sweeping views of the harbor and the casino, and over to the baseball diamond so Wrigley could, with binoculars, keep an eye on his ballclub.

The casino was a state-of-the-art centerpiece for Wrigley’s island. He spared no expense, dropping $2 million on its construction (well over budget), although it took just 14 months to complete with Catalina tile and silver leaf decorating the ornate edifice. The facility included the first cinema built for “talking pictures” although guides will tell you they left an orchestra pit and installed a pipe organ, just in case the new film technology didn’t catch on.

The Avalon Theater on the ground floor is still used for first-run movies and the organ is played leading up to showtime on weekend evenings. The nearly 1,200-seat cinema is also host to the annual Catalina Film Festival and last month helped host the fourth annual Catalina Wine Mixer, including a screening of the Will Ferrell-John C. Reilly cult classic “Stepbrothers,” which inspired the real life festival.

There is one elevator, though it is operated only during some special events. Otherwise, visitors stroll up ramps akin to the ones at Wrigley’s eponymous ballpark in Chicago. Women attending formal events these days wear sneakers and change into high heels at the top. For the galas of yesteryear they wore flats under their gowns before changing to more formal footwear.

“It’s an opportunity to go back in time. The theater has a personality and the ballroom is magical. It’s like walking into 1944,” said Paul Budnik, a casino guide and longtime Catalina resident, before leading a recent group outside onto the promenade that rings most of the ballroom and affords panoramic vistas of the harborside village, green peaks and valleys inland, and out to sea.

Most of the island’s 1 million annual visitors arrive after an hour-long ferry ride aboard the Catalina Express, although helicopters and private jets are options as well.

The ferry journey is easy to navigate from several mainland ports and is part of the charm for many visitors, but it poses hurdles of both logistics and cost (about $75 round-trip for adults, though its part of some hotel packages) that limit single-night concert bookings and the crowds to support them on a regular basis.

“JazzTrax is the largest event we have in the casino,” said Rudy Alvarez, director of sales with the Catalina Island Co., which owns and operates the casino as well as hotels, restaurants and nearly two dozen other land and sea activities. “The black tie Conservancy Ball is the most high-profile event, but it’s not used as much as we’d like. It’s so big that you have to have a big group to fill it up.”

Good says attendees of JazzTrax, which attracts about 1,400 people for each weekend, according to Alvarez,  generally come over and make a long weekend of it. Many regulars meet up with friends from across the country. The two-weekend format helps defray costs since festival organizers can barge over equipment and store it for the duration of the festival.

Catalina tourism officials say events such as JazzTrax work well for several reasons: They bring in a new wave of visitors after the summer season has ended and helps convert them into repeat visitors.

Good says JazzTrax took a decade to become profitable, but he says it has legs to remain successful for years to come. “Our demo is 50 to 70. We’re amazed by first-timers every year. I thought retirement would kill this festival. What I didn’t know was it would only explode it. People had it on their bucket lists for years. Our audience has the time and money, and they’re bored.”

So what makes JazzTrax a winner three decades on at the Catalina Casino? Good, a smooth jazz radio pioneer, doesn’t miss a beat: “It’s the room, it’s the town, it’s the island, it’s the music.”


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THE DYNAMICS OF DYNAMIC PRICING
 
Posted: 30 Sep 2018, 8:00 pm

When Ticketmaster put tickets on sale for Taylor Swift’s Reputation stadium tour, it used a system of dynamic or flex pricing in which the value is tied to algorithms based on supply and demand.  Some buyers who participated in the Verified Fan presale, which incentivized the purchase of merchandise or promoting the tour on social media, were upset that the price of their tickets dropped, in some cases, when they went on sale to the public.

The slower rollout made some observers feel there was a reduced demand for tickets, but what was actually taking place was maximizing the revenue by making sure the pricing accurately reflected the public’s enthusiasm.

Ticketmaster adopted the practice of dynamic ticketing in 2011, when then-head Nathan Hubbard announced a partnership with MarketShare to develop an application dubbed Pricemaster. The internal tool uses Amazon Web Services to “credibly measure and dramatically improve the return on their marketing investments.”

There are multiple vendors offering dynamic ticketing solutions to venue operators, tour promoters, performing rights organizations, nonprofits and the artists themselves.

One firm, Digonex Technologies, was founded in 2000 and acquired by hometown broadcast company Emmis Communications four years ago, when Greg Loewen, a longtime Emmis exec, was named CEO.

“I’d be surprised if there’s any major concert tour not using a form of dynamic pricing,” Loewen said. “It’s become commonplace in the live entertainment world. Not just the big touring acts, but comedians, performing arts. The majority of ballet, symphony orchestras and opera companies use it. The concept of analyzing marketplace patterns, setting a price and maximizing profits has become pretty standard.”

Austin-based Qcue, founded by CEO Barry Kahn in 2007, specializes in dynamic ticket pricing for sports teams including the NHL’s Montreal Canadiens, Major League Baseball’s San Francisco Giants and the annual Calgary Stampede rodeo and exhibition.

Like Digonex, Qcue’s sales pitch to prospective clients is simple.

“It’s a big mistake for promoters to give up control of their tickets to the secondary market,” Kahn said.

“The reason the secondary ticketing market has flourished the way it did is because most of the primary ticket sellers were doing a poor job in pricing their inventory,” said Digonex’s Loewen. “Their pricing was not responsive to patterns evident in the data. With dynamic pricing, you’re doing a better job of aligning your ticket prices with actual demand and visible market trends.  It’s a little different on the secondary market, where it only takes one marginal buyer willing to pay $2,000 for a ticket, but that doesn’t mean there are 250 other people willing to pay the same amount.”

The idea of dynamic/flex ticket pricing is nothing new. Airlines and hotels have used it for years, and Uber employs “surge” pricing during periods of peak ridership.

Digonex was originally acquired by Emmis with an eye toward selling radio advertising. The firm carved out a growing business in zoos, museums and theme parks and specializing in nonprofits like the Philly Pops.

“We had all sorts of work-around manual efforts going on in-house, because frankly we needed an affordable option,” said Philly Pops Chief Operating Officer Karen Corbin. “Digonex offered a solution that was compatible without existing ticketing software. We’ve quantified the value and are confident it’s paid for and more than returned our investment.”

Philly Pops’ director of sales and customer relations, Danny Palmieri, lauds Digonex’s ability to “work with us through set-up to create a custom sales algorithm to make sure the pricing is best for our current inventory. And that remains true even as we grow and expand our offerings.”

Another Digonex client, Aubrey Stork, is the digital, CRM and loyalty manager at Mirvish Productions, a Toronto-based company that controls five theaters and specializes in Broadway road shows.

“We’ve found that with the assistance of the solution, pricing recommendations are being made based on demand factors we never would have considered before,” said Stork. “We’re now able to anticipate scarcity (or lack of demand) and adjust rather than react to it when the real opportunity has already passed.”

Digonex takes into consideration historical data, weather forecasts, macroeconomic conditions such as the price of gas or unemployment rates in ticket pricing, which “all can all be drivers for demand,” Loewen said.

Digonex refers to its product as “a software-embedded service,” powered by a team of PhD economists, “experts in pricing science,” who construct a set of customized solutions for each client based on their research.

“Ultimately, the implementation of true dynamic pricing has been an eye-opening experience,” says Mirvish’s Stork. “It’s shone a light on opportunities we never saw before.”

The question becomes what’s preventing dynamic ticket pricing from becoming the norm in today’s touring business. It continues to flirt with the secondary market, sometimes with damaging effects. See the recent CBC report about Ticketmaster marketing software directly to brokers as one example of a public relations nightmare.

With the secondary market remaining a murky place — witness the 2017 lawsuit leveled against the Los Angeles Dodgers by several ticket brokers when the team attempted to consolidate leftover inventory in a deal worth more than $100 million with Houston-based Eventellect — it remains to be seen if dynamic pricing can fully take hold.

The ability to work with different promoters in different cities remains a hindrance to consolidating the effort for companies such as Digonex, which have mostly abandoned that market for smaller regional clients such as performing arts centers.

Loewen points to two specific factors at work in the concert space that need to be addressed.

“One is an analytical, mathematical challenge when you’re dealing with all these different marketplaces,” he says. “And, on the business side, it’s a matter of getting all the individuals who have a say in ticket pricing to agree and be on the same page.”

Still, the idea of dynamic ticketing has its allure, especially in a world where blockchain could soon be the order of the day, even as Qcue’s Khan insists it “doesn’t particularly solve the problem.” Blockchain technology offers a detailed record of all the transactions on a single ticket, enabling every party to earn a percentage along the way.

“The real value of dynamic pricing is found in between the starting ticket prices we set,” Stork said. “We’re better able to find the actual market value for each seat in the house. If we’re doing this effectively, we achieve another extremely important goal — making the resale market less lucrative.”

Stork says when the average price of a ticket goes down, sometimes the revenue generated has increased because customers buy better seats than they would have.

In the end, Loewen believes it’s inevitable that dynamic ticket pricing is here to stay.

“It’s almost unimaginable if you’re running a tour or a venue, you wouldn’t use this approach,” he said. “Everybody along the value chain is looking at dynamic pricing more seriously.  How it can help optimize results, from maximizing revenue to lowering prices to fill seats. If you’ve done it correctly, hopefully you’re not left with inventory you need to dump at the eleventh hour.”

ALSO: That was then, and this is now: INTIX at 40


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HUMAN SCALE
 
Posted: 30 Sep 2018, 7:50 pm

Convention_Centers_(credit_LMN_Architects).jpgA step up: The Washington State Convention
Center’s $1.7 billion expansion will add more than 400,000 square feet of space. (LMN)

For years, the people who fill convention centers have been changing much more rapidly than the convention centers themselves, said Todd Voth, who leads the convention center practice for architect Populous. Decades ago, a basic formula for convention center design was established, he said, and that formula has been slow to lose its hold on the industry ever since. In  recent years, however, Voth and other venue experts have seen more creative thinking in convention center design and operation.

The buildings are becoming more flexible and dynamic, making them better suited for a specialized, more informal clientele that favors small groups, personal interactions and technology-based solutions. Convention centers also are becoming more attached to their neighborhoods and communities after years of seeming to exist as something apart, residing in their own space somehow separate from their surroundings.

“We’re starting to see different models for convention centers that are more focused on the customers as human beings,” Voth said. “A lot of the trends we’re seeing are in line with that. We’re seeing more natural light, more views, more varieties of spaces. It’s taken a while for people to step onto the diving board and take a little risk, but it’s happening.”

Flexible, varied spaces
Tom Hazinski, managing director for convention, sports and entertainment at HVS Design, said the way information is exchanged among meeting attendees in convention centers has changed dramatically, and facility operators are still striving to provide spaces that accommodate that change.

“It used to be (that) a typical setup for a meeting was to have a stage and have a set of presenters who would come out and communicate this information to a larger audience, and it was a kind of one-way street,” Hazinski said. “As most industries have become more specialized, the need for more breakout space has grown. There’s much more of an emphasis on a peer-to-peer exchange of information.”

Voth said designing a mix of meeting spaces in convention centers for visitors with different needs and preferences is a key piece of the design challenge for these venues.

“Our emerging customer is demanding more variety and more informal kinds of meeting opportunities,” Voth said. “We’re always working to create spaces that offer that variety.”

Hazinski said convention centers are opting for highly flexible large multipurpose spaces that can serve as an exhibition space or ballroom or multiple meeting rooms.

“These spaces aren’t always of quite as high a quality as dedicated spaces, but they do provide a tremendous amount of flexibility to a venue,” Hazinski said.

Voth said flexible is sometimes an inadequate description for the design work done to give users a variety of space options – he prefers transformable. For instance, the Anaheim (Calif.) Convention Center, designed by Populous, has a system of movable walls that allows the venue to reshape itself based on the needs of each client.

Rob Svedberg, principal in the convention center practice at Tvsdesign, said flexibility can be especially critical in smaller convention centers.

“They have to be a jack-of-all trades and host a Rotary lunch or a small, high-end meeting or an exhibition or wrestling or roller derby or whatever comes their way,” Svedberg said. “At that level, it’s just a different type of flexibility, because the range of events that they do is really astounding.”
Hazinski said convention centers also place an emphasis now on spaces that encourage impromptu social gatherings within larger meetings. In fact, Svedberg said, “informal casual spaces have become as important as more formal meeting spaces.”

“Sometimes there are as many people milling about, socializing and networking as there are sitting in classroom sessions, and those people need a place to go and sit where they can be in a group of two or three people rather than sitting with 150 other people,” Svedberg said. “There’s a need for these smaller-scale, more intimate spaces within these big venues.”

Technology is often a critical component in designing flexible spaces. Populous designed a “meeting room of the future” in the San Antonio Convention Center that employs technology, such as touchscreens, to create a highly interactive space. The space also can be divided in a variety of ways. Voth said meeting planners and attendees can prove to be extremely creative when a space allows them to be.

“I’ve seen dramatically different events in that space,” Voth said.

A neighborhood anchor
Michael Winters, principal and director of design and interiors at Fentress Architects, said connecting a convention center to its community as part of its brand “has become a fairly new trend in the industry.”

“Thirty years ago, a convention center was just a simple economic engine for a city,” Winters said. “It was seen as a way to bring clean money to the city, without much emphasis to its place or design. Convention centers became known as ‘boxes with docks,’ and design perspective was not important. Today, both the city and the users expect a significant civic piece of architecture that reflects a true sense of place and relates to the new destination that the visitor encounters as part of their convention experience.”

Public and private entities in most cities are invested in improving their urban centers, and convention centers are a useful asset in that effort. In Denver, for instance, Winters said “the city core expanded toward the convention center with billions of dollars of development” since it opened in 1990.

The convention centers themselves advocate for improvements in their surrounding neighborhoods because it can provide them with a competitive edge. The proximity of shops, restaurants, hotels, parks and other appealing features help fill out the convention experience. Acceptable meeting spaces, sufficient hotel rooms and a decent price are just the “threshold criteria” for meeting planners, Hazinski said.

“With everyone providing that, then the real competition comes with the ability for meeting planners to maximize their attendance at events,” Hazinski said. “And that means bringing people to an environment they want to be in.”

After all, the meetings are important, but “visitors want to get out and explore the city and have that authentic experience that can be a great part of going to a convention,” Voth said.

Populous served as an architect on the International Convention Centre Sydney that opened in 2016. The convention center has the favorable location of a site on the famously picturesque Darling Harbour. The location is a natural draw for visitors, but Voth said designers didn’t take that for granted. They designed the facility with spaces that encouraged visitors from neighborhoods and elsewhere, even including food venues that are open to the public.

Building an appealing connection to a city is not just about location and surrounding features – it’s also about the building itself. While on a convention center’s campus, visitors don’t want to feel like they could be just anywhere, Svedberg said. That means design features that incorporate the local region’s characteristics and personality, as well as local food choices and views that take advantage of the venue’s surroundings.

“They want a unique space and that’s happening at every scale of the building, where the building is telling a story about where you are,” Svedberg said.

Distinctive event spaces
As convention centers jockey for customers, Winters said he is seeing the creation of more special event spaces that can help differentiate a center from its competitors.

At the Miami Beach Convention Center, “we have a rooftop VIP ballroom with an outdoor terrace and a new six-acre outdoor park and event space,” Winters said. “In Denver, we are adding a new 50,000-square-foot outdoor events terrace with spectacular Rocky Mountain views. In San Diego, we developed a five-acre oceanfront rooftop terrace.”

Svedberg said distinctive, featured settings within a center often are outdoor breakout spaces. For instance, Tvsdesign has designed a one-acre outdoor farm on the roof of the Javits Center in New York City with an event pavilion and a large terrace for events.

“It’s about catering to the desire to create unique experiences,” Svedberg said. “Eye-catching features can really help distinguish one convention center from another.”

Svedberg said these spaces often are found at venues that are fully booked. The spaces are built to ensure that events grow and flourish — and bring meetings back the next year.

“Centers are using the spaces to delight their customers more and to provide additional places for event revenue,” Svedberg said.

Financing and the renovation boom
Winters said that the most common financing method for convention center projects continues to be increasing hotel occupancy taxes, though sales taxes and rental car taxes also are used.

Winters and Voth said they are seeing more P3 projects — public-private partnerships – in which a city and a private development group enter an agreement for the design, construction, financing and management of a facility, often with a hotel attached.

The convention center construction landscape remains heavily dependent on renovations and expansions with few new ground-up construction projects in the works in the United States, but even within those constraints experts see signs of innovation and progress.

“There’s been a real pent-up demand for projects, especially renovation projects that should have occurred 10 years ago that didn’t occur and are way overdue — carpets, painting, repurposing space, new technology — and that left a lot of convention centers well behind the market because the funding and political will weren’t there,” Svedberg said. “Those deferred projects are getting done now, and that’s helping the market catch up.”

ALSO: Tech is still the talk


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WELCOME TO THE BOOMTOWN
 
Posted: 30 Sep 2018, 7:40 pm

State Bank Amphitheatre at Chastain Park in Atlanta got a big renovation and a longer name. (Courtesy Live Nation)

The Southeastern markets in the Carolinas and Georgia have been booming over the past year, much like the broader U.S. economy. While this next year may prove more challenging in the wake of Hurricane Florence’s widespread destruction and tour disruptions, especially in eastern North Carolina, insiders say the outlook is still bullish for the region as a whole.

Cities throughout this part of the Eastern Seaboard are experiencing downtown renaissances from Atlanta to Charleston and Charlotte, not to mention many of the communities in between. This has not gone unnoticed by the entertainment industry, which is booking an ever-widening array of acts to stand out in what’s become a very crowded and competitive market for venues.

Crowded House
Many venue operators say the recent venue-building boom has made it more difficult to book tours and has created nontraditional competitors in the process. In fact, a number of the region’s top venue operators said the buildout is one of the few obstacles in the marketplace right now.

“The heavy competition is the biggest issue. We can’t all have the same content,” says Kate Dordick, director of arena booking for Hornets Sports & Entertainment, which operates Charlotte’s Spectrum Center. “We’re now competing with football stadiums that have roofs (Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium). We don’t always have the ability to just say, ‘You can have air conditioning (in Spectrum Center), because now they can, too.”

Indeed the competition is perhaps even more heated in Hotlanta. Allan Vella, president and CEO of that city’s Fox Theatre, reels off a number of venues they are competing with: “We have two full-fledged arenas, two legit theaters, we have multiple amphitheaters and a few small ones (and) the Tabernacle and the Roxy — a huge contingent of venues vying for the same acts, and that makes it tough on everybody.”

Vella pointed out the city’s civic center was mothballed in recent years, but says the market is still too crowded. He added, “I would prefer there weren’t so many venues, as long as the Fox was still standing at the end. We have a lock on the Broadway market and have a unique and rich history. We’re fortunate we have those attributes and no competitor head-to-head.”

Live Nation Atlanta President Peter Conlon echoed these sentiments. Conlon works with more than half a dozen venues owned or operated by Live Nation in and around the Georgia capital. He said this year started slowly but is already tracking stronger than a successful prior 12 months.

Still, Conlon also brought up the plethora of stages as the biggest issue in the market. “The issue is content. It’s getting competitive. I wonder how (some venues) will be sustainable in a lot of communities. Some of them don’t understand the business; it’s a ‘build it and they will come’ attitude. Just because you build it doesn’t mean it will be successful.”

The Fox’s Vella summed up the situation, saying what many venue operators don’t want to think about in boom times: “A major downturn would hurt us all.”

The Best of Times
There are, however, few signs of a slowdown on the horizon.

Dordick says Spectrum Center’s entertainment business is in great fiscal shape: “We are trending to have the best year ever this year. Last year was a record year — we had 20 shows of 10,000-plus in attendance. We’re hoping to beat that this year.”

Meanwhile the Peace Center Concert Hall’s president and CEO, Megan Riegel, said business is so healthy in their Upstate area of South Carolina that the facility may be a victim of its own success: “Our biggest challenge is having avails. I got a call about Leon Bridges. He’s on my bucket list, but we don’t have the avails” to book him.

In Atlanta, Live Nation’s Conlon described the business as “very healthy and robust.” He did see one possible chink in the armor, though, pointing out that the general consumer is still cautious despite overall economic growth, “I’ve noticed sensitivity to ticket pricing. People are buying more near the end, (and) we’re seeing more buying right before the show.”

Conlon adds it’s a different story for the higher-end consumer: “Growth is more along the VIP range. They are more interested in the VIP experience (and) depending on the package, the ability to charge more is there.”

Up on the Roof
In keeping with the trend for enhanced fan experiences, Vella said the Fox has reaped nice returns on its recently added premium club: “We wanted to create a ‘grand sense of occasion’ and didn’t feel like we had a premium space. You can’t build suites and change the historic fabric of the building, but (reclaiming) the retail space adjacent to the theater property gave us an opportunity to create a building within a building.”

The theater allowed the lease on the  adjacent retail space it owned to run out and then rebuilt it to create the Marquee Club. Vella said the five-year, $10 million project is paying dividends. The Marquee Club offers dinner and hand-crafted cocktails and features a roof deck as well as an air-conditioned area.

“We reimagined that terrace and the space beneath it and created a private entrance. The experience we’re offering rivals any of the facilities that we have in town,” Vella said. “If you’re coming to see Nine Inch Nails, Widespread Panic, ‘The Nutcracker’ or ‘Hamilton,’ it’s a great way to have dinner, watch the sun go down, walk to your seats, come back at intermission, then see the rest of the show.”

State Bank Amphitheatre at Chastain Park in Atlanta underwent a “massive renovation,” Live Nation’s Conlon said. The company produces the shows there.

“We raised the steel on the stage, put in new cushion club seats, razed the buildings on the hill, built new bathrooms, concessions, and a plaza. It made it a lot more convenient for the patrons and easier productionwise for rigging shows,” he said. The $6 million refresh included the venue’s first naming-rights partner, State Bank, a relationship the Live Nation executive said is off to a good start.

The Room Where It (Still) Happens
The “Hamilton” juggernaut’s record run has helped sell season tickets and sell out venues in the Southeast this year, and theater operators are optimistic its effect will be long-lasting on their markets as touring Broadway has gone more mainstream in recent years, attracting a broader audience.

Vella said the Fox grossed more than $15 million and sold 52,000 tickets to the show in a mere 2 1/2 hours, which he thinks is an unofficial record. He said the theater’s season-ticket base doubled to 26,000 ahead of “Hamilton’s” three-week run since it guaranteed a ticket to the show.

“We’ve hung onto a majority (more than 80 percent) of those new subscribers (for this season),” he said. “We have ‘Aladdin,’ ‘Dear Evan Hanson,’ ‘Waitress’ and other great, approachable contemporary programs this season, and I think that’ll keep people coming.”

It was a similar story for the Peace Center, said the nonprofit venue’s president and CEO, Megan Riegel. Riegel said Broadway remains the venue’s cash cow: “We had 50,000 people online waiting to buy ‘Hamilton’ tickets. The bread-and-butter demo for us is 45 to 65 years old. They’ve got discretionary income and some time, kids either in college or out. They’re having date nights again.”

But Riegel says they’re not resting on their laurels coming off their best year ever. They’ve just hired the facility’s first programming vice president, a key role since the Peace Center does not work with promoters and handles bookings soup to nuts. “I want to make sure we’re always connecting with younger audiences, so we need to program for them,” Riegel said, noting a need to keep expanding both their offerings and the fanbase.

The bottom line for both Carolinas and Georgia is that venue operators don’t see the music stopping for the good times even in the face of unforeseen challenges such as Hurricane Florence. And it looks likely to remain a patron’s and entertainer’s market given the density of competition, variety in bookings, and unique tiers of service now being offered in most markets.

The Fox Theatre’s Vella considered all of those factors in the outlook for the region’s venues and said simply: “Everyone has to raise their game.”

ALSO: Hollywood Lights Up the Dark Days

ALSO: It's Not the Same Old Song and Dance: Venues succeed by venturing into new territory


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CREATING SPACE
 
Posted: 30 Sep 2018, 7:05 pm

The Miller Lite Vibe Room at Verizon Arena has provided “a nice little bump.” (Courtesy Verizon Arena)

The 5,000-square-foot Miller Lite Vibe Room, an upsell for ticketholders at Verizon Arena in North Little Rock, Ark., has generated about $100,000 in new revenue for the 20-year-old arena since opening in March 2017.

The challenge for an older arena that has lost its sports teams and maxed out with concert lineup is creating new revenue, said Jared Lillard, arena director of finance. Inspiration comes in part from the club and lounge experiences that are built into the new major league sports arenas, but accomplishing the feat requires some creative thinking.

The Vibe Room was carved out of concourse space that was backstage real estate during end-stage shows, Lillard said.

Turning it into a sellable space involved pipe and drape, a portable bar, TVs, tables and chairs, Miller Lite signage and creative use of old hockey glass to install a 120-foot-long bar with LED lighting along the back wall. “No one sits there, but it looks cool,” Lillard said. He estimated the entire project cost between $25,000 and $30,000.

“Our per caps in this space are 40 percent higher than anywhere else,” Lillard said. “We’re not picking up a huge amount of money, but when you’re doing 15 shows a year, it adds up.”

“Through the first six months , we made more than we did all last year,” Lillard said of the learning curve. “It’s a nice little bump for us.”

Ticket Tap is a repurposed box office and team store, about 700 square feet. Again, they decorated with the old hockey glass, Lillard said.

Ticket Tap features 10 craft beers on tap, a couple of TVs, tables and chairs. 

“We added windows on the back wall, with wraps made of old tickets from shows we had in the past,” Lillard said. Now they’ve opened up those windows to sell to ticket holders outside preshow, before doors. It’s called the Ticket Tap Terrace and doubles as “our biggest smoking lobby” during intermission, complete with patio furniture and the opportunity to buy a beer while you smoke.

Next up is Legends Lounge, which is similar to the Vibe Room but with a higher ticket price and upscale food. It is being created out of what had been the interview and media room, plus three dark rooms, which have been used as closets. It’s only 1,800 square feet and will open in November. The budget for this buildout is $50,000.

“We used those rooms regularly when we had tenants,” Lillard said. “When we first opened, we had arena football, hockey and men’s and women’s college basketball. We had a lot of media. But they all built their own venues or moved on.”

Legends Lounge will be sold as early entry with private bathrooms and a meal before the show. Beer and wine will be included in the ticket price. “We’ll start at $50 and end up at $75,” Lillard said. “We expect it to bring in another $75,000-$100,000 a year.”

The big lesson learned? “People want to feel special. They want to be a VIP,” Lillard said.

ALSO: Arenas offer some tips on creating their own events

 


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BEST NEW CONCEPT
 
Posted: 30 Sep 2018, 7:00 pm

Seattle’s seahawks and Sounders are scouting for a whole new group of stars this season: restaurateurs and food trucks.

Piggybacking on Seattle’s great food culture and a desire to give fans a ballpark experience that showcases a lot of their favorite local foods, CenturyLink Field’s concessions team came up with Stadium Street.

EIC_Stadium_Street.JPGRotating restaurateurs serve their specialties on Stadium Street. (Courtesy First & Goal Hospitality)

Stadium Street features a rotating group of 60 Seattle restaurateurs and up-and-coming chefs four at a time throughout the year. It debuted in August 2017 with great success.

“We wanted to figure out how to bring Seattle’s food culture into the stadium and give a sustainable opportunity for local vendors to help grow their names in the market,” said Zach Hensley, CenturyLink Field’s vice president of venue operations and guest experience, First & Goal Hospitality. “We could have partnered with four or five restaurants and done that for a full year, which is typically what happens in venues, but we wanted to extend that opportunity where we would continue to rotate and give these restaurateurs and chefs a chance to interact with our ticket holders.”

Stadium Street first opened during Seattle Seahawks NFL games with 45-48 restaurants or vendors in the facility for the football season.

“Our fans are getting excited about it and contacting us on social media asking who will be at Stadium Street and giving us advice on who they think should be part of it,” Hensley said. “It’s a fun experience for our fans”.

First & Goal built out four vendor booths on the east side (which is the premium “eat” side) of the main concourse with all the essential cooking needs: flat grill, hot hold, cold hold, hand washing stations and all health department regulation needs. Each booth looks the same; only the digital signage changes as vendors rotate. The area features standup tables and nice lighting, though many buyers take food back to their seats.

It cost about $40,000 to build out the space.

Sales are based on a token concept. Vendors prepare the food and give each consumer a $15 token with their dish, which they then take to a cashier located up front, along with any other items, like beverages, they want to add. The vendor doesn’t have to worry about transactions.

“There is no investment for them upfront to partner with us. That would create barriers and we would lose good opportunities,” Hensley said.

Deals are based on a standard commission split, like any subcontractor. While it is a business opportunity, the biggest benefit to restaurateurs is exposure to legions of fans, Hensley added. “This is not a business opportunity for First & Goal. It’s really about them.”

“We provide the footprint; they provide the actual food and their own personnel to operate the stand,” Hensley said.

Not every concept works given the size (10 feet by 10 feet) and equipment available. Chef Michael Johnson works with potential vendors, educating them on the game-day experience versus a restaurant setting. “Chef Michael helped transform the program,” Hensley said. “He partners with them in creating a signature item on the menu or a unique item to offer at CenturyLink Field.”

“He has to coach them so they will be successful in doing that many turns in a four-hour period for the NFL Seahawks and two hours for the Sounders” of Major League Soccer, Hensley said.

Most vendors have two menu items. Johnson suggests they expect selling 500 units during football, 200-250 during soccer. He also advises them on what to offer. It has to have good ingredients and it has to be worth $15 to the general public, not something they sell at the restaurant for less.

Scouting the area for potential partners is a perk for the CenturyLink Field staff. “We enjoy eating. We like to build relationships. Anyone in the organization can go out, have a great meal, and see opportunities for Stadium Street Market,” Hensley said. “You just start conversations at the table. It starts just from us going out to lunch as a group.”

The next challenge is to make the atmosphere even better, probably with tables, music and bigger TVs. They may even create another Stadium Street in another area of the venue.

HOT AND FRESH: 2018 Excellence in Concessions Awards

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GRAND ENTRANCE
 
Posted: 30 Sep 2018, 7:00 pm

Fans outside Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee. (Courtesy Milwaukee Bucks)

The Milwaukee Bucks didn’t set out to build the finest arena, but team executives think they came pretty darn close to it.

“We did not pound our chest and say we were going to build the greatest arena, but we did on every level, every finish, every operational standard,” Bucks President Peter Feigin said. “We’re entering the entertainment business. It’s all about first impressions and we want to be the gold standard.”

If quirkiness defines greatness, Fiserv Forum fills the bill. It starts with the arena branded for a largely unknown financial technology firm, which opens up a whole new category for naming rights. The funky, curved roofline defining the $524 million facility and the Panorama Club at catwalk level, which looks like a premium-level space but is open to all ticket holders, are among the distinctive design features.

It’s all part of the arena’s European feel. Fiserv Forum’s influences cover a heavy dose of U.K. venues after the Bucks traveled overseas to observe innovations in sports and entertainment from an international perspective. In addition to sports, live music is a key piece of Fiserv Forum’s business as the Bucks aim to put Milwaukee back on the map as a primary market for concert tours (see related story).

To get tips from both sides, Feigin and Raj Saha, Fiserv Forum’s general manager, toured London’s Broadway theater district and multiple Premier League soccer stadiums. Together, they took note of the acoustics and backstage experiences at Koko, Roundhouse and the Savoy Theatre; Arsenal’s integration of team history into Emirates Stadium’s artwork; and Manchester City’s Tunnel Club at Etihad Stadium with behind-the-scenes views of players preparing for the match.

They also visited the O2 Arena — where the Bucks played a game in 2015 and where Saha was part of AEG’s management team for six years — and Indigo at The O2, a small concert venue next door to the arena. They liked how the adjoining entertainment district ties into the overall experience at the complex.

Domestically, officials paid close attention to the NBA arenas in Sacramento, Calif.; Brooklyn, N.Y.;  and Orlando, Fla., to gain insight on the smallest details, from the correct square footage per person in the premium clubs to catering benefits for touring production crews.

“We have a file of over 5,000 photographs we took from tours of 20 arenas and stadiums … all of the interesting things soccer teams are doing with their locker rooms and practice facilities. We love those touches,” Feigin said.

The roof wrapping Fiserv Forum from top to bottom along the north side is a special feature. It’s made of zinc and treated with a hand-crafted finishing process that brings out multiple colors in the structure’s panels, said Gabe Braselton, an associate principal with Populous.

The firm teamed with HNTB and local architect Eppstein Uhen to design the arena. The radical-looking roof represents one international influence. Zinc has been used on roofs and facades in Europe for hundreds of years and half the roofs on Paris buildings alone are made of the durable material, Braselton said.

“One of the reasons why it lasts is because it goes through its own process with the oxidized layer,” he said. “Here, we’re kind of advancing some of that protective coating and getting some color along the way.”

For the Bucks, the wraparound roof serves as a point of differentiation from other NBA arenas, according to team officials. It’s one piece of innovation that blends into a part of downtown Milwaukee that’s undergoing a resurgence after being slow to redevelop over the years, Feigin said.

“We wanted the arena to be architecturally different and significant but not stick out like a spaceship,” said Mike Fascitelli, a New York developer and one of the Bucks’ four co-owners. “We had a couple of designs that were even more futuristic. It was a hard balance, but I think we achieved it.”

The atrium, a 9,350-square-foot space framed by a giant glass wall, provides a large welcoming space on the arena’s east side with views to the upper levels. The curved LED screen attached to one wall provided Instagrammable moments prior to The Killers/Violent Femmes concert Sept. 4, the arena’s first ticketed event.

The ticket office next door has an open layout, something different among new arenas. There are no windows separating ticket sellers from customers, who have access to seating charts displayed on desktop computers operated by arena staff.

The setup encourages greater interaction for buying the best seats and results in better customer service. It’s one design element the Bucks adapted from United Center’s retrofit in Chicago, said Marc Farha, an executive vice president with owners representative CAA Icon.

The seating bowl is a far cry from BMO Harris Bradley Center, the Bucks’ home for 30 years, and that’s a good thing. At Fiserv Forum, 10,000 seats are situated in the lower bowl, similar to Sacramento’s Golden 1 Center. The opposite was true at Bradley Center, where a majority of seats were in the upper deck and patrons sitting in the lower bowl had to walk up a flight of stairs to reach their seats.

At the new facility, that’s not the case. Some upper-deck sections have as few as eight rows of seats, putting most fans sitting up top that much closer to the floor. The Bucks looked to Bankers Life Fieldhouse as a model to develop an intimate seating bowl with 17,500 total seats, Fascitelli said.

The premium seat mix reflects the demand in one of the NBA’s smaller markets, and for the most part, every piece of inventory is sold out, said Jamie Morningstar, the Bucks’ senior vice president of ticket sales and service.

The building has 34 traditional suites, among the fewest in the NBA. They’re designed with 12 to 18 seats depending on location and run $225,000 to $350,000 a year. The terms are seven, 10 and 12 years.

The West Bend Lofts, a loge box product named for sponsor West Bend Mutual Insurance Co., cost $80,000 to $200,000 a year with four-, six- and eight-seat combinations. The 33 lofts cover Bucks and Marquette men’s basketball and first rights to buy tickets for other events.

Fascitelli said the Bucks understated the demand for lofts and should have built more of them. Officials could add a few more lofts in future years, he said.

“There’s more of a trend for the [overall] experience than the suite experience,” Fascitelli said.

“People overbuilt those generally in the arenas. In Milwaukee, it’s a lot easier to have a small corporation buy four to six seats and get to all the games instead of having to fill 12 to 18 seats every game,” he said.

The BMO Club at event level is exclusive to about 400 people sitting in the first four rows along the sidelines and first three rows behind the baselines. The average ticket price is $250 a game on the low end for the all-inclusive package, Morningstar said.

The Mezzanine Club, situated one level above the BMO Club, serves just under 900 club seat holders paying an average of $180 a game. Those stored-value tickets carry $10 in credit for food and drink, and the 886 seats were virtually sold out in early September.

The design of both clubs includes reclaimed wood from Wisconsin forests, employing the arena development’s theme of going local and authentic.

The Bucks carved out flexible space at both ends of the arena for group sales. The club lounges at stage end can hold 180 people in one room and can be split into six rooms with 24 seats. The lounges are dynamically priced and start at $3,000 a game per group depending on the Bucks’ opponent, Morningstar said.

“One thing we missed out in the past was (the ability to sell to) large groups in one big space,” she said. “The finishes are just as nice as the suites and lofts.”    

Sponsor branding is fairly subdued except for the food courts on both concourses, showcasing locals such as The Laughing Taco and Gold Rush Chicken. Levy is the food and beverage provider for the building.

The Bucks expect to sign two to three more founding partners to join BMO Harris Bank, Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin, Johnson Controls and Miller Brewing Co.

The Mezzanine Club and Panorama Club are among the spaces the team expects to rebrand with seven-figure sponsorships, said Matt Pazaras, the Bucks’ senior vice president of business development and strategy.

“I wouldn’t call it minimalism, but less is more,” Feigin said. “It’s about how do you keep the building ‘clean’ and organize the assets you want to entitle. We wanted a naming-rights partner and six to eight founding partners which would really carry the load for a long period of time. It’s worked well.”

The same can be said for the arena’s artwork. Much of it pays homage to the Bucks’ 1970-71 team, winner of the franchise’s only NBA championship and led by Oscar Robertson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, then known as Lew Alcindor. Sports & the Arts, a firm that works with teams to incorporate memorabilia into their facilities, identified archival gems for display such as the Bucks’ championship banner, Robertson’s hand-written seasonlong stat sheet and a Kodak roll of Alcindor PR photos taken during his rookie year.

The attention to detail was “as maniacal as you can imagine,” Pazaras said. “We’re treating this arena as if it were a 750,000-square-foot house.”

ALSO: Bucks are ready to crank up the music at their new place


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BEST SUSTAINABILITY INITIATIVE
 
Posted: 30 Sep 2018, 7:00 pm

Miller Park executive chef Seth VanderLaan with the ballpark’s biodigester. (Courtesy Delaware North Sportservice)

When Delaware North Sportservice installed a new BioHiTech Global biodigester at the Milwaukee Brewers’ Miller Park for the start of this year’s Major Legue Baseball season, Seth VanderLaan figured it might be used a couple of times a week.

As the regular season drew to a close, VanderLaan, Delaware North executive chef at the ballpark, was pleasantly surprised to find that his estimate was far too low. The biodigester runs nearly constantly — fed up to twice a day — and has digested more than 26,000 pounds of food wasted since being installed.

The result proved to the venue, concessionaire and team that the effort to divert food waste from landfills and add an environmentally friendly component to food operations was feasible.

The biodigester works by using enzymes to break down organic matter over 24 hours or less. The higher the moisture content, the faster the food breaks down, so lettuce and tomatoes will break down much quicker than chicken bones or watermelon rinds. Cooks monitor the machine’s readout to know how much of the 200-pound capacity is available.

The machine turns the waste into wastewater that runs to the local treatment facility full of nutrients available to help with production in energy or fertilizer.

As one of a few locations within Delaware North piloting the technology — Miller Park represents the largest example — the Delaware North team wanted to test how well it could integrate the technology into operations and see what kind of difference it really did make. The Brewers were open to increasing green initiatives, and food waste was a big point of emphasis for the chef, so the biodigester became a natural fit.

“The beautiful thing about having this right on site,” said Debbie Friedel, director of sustainability for Delaware North, “is it helps us to better measure our food waste.”

The biodigester connects to an app that tracks in real time how much has been digested since it started, how much was done in the last 24 hours and plenty of other details. That information can convert to showing that the 26,000-plus pounds equates to saving 7.6 acres of forest, 22 barrels of oil or 1.9 garbage-truck loads of waste. This information is then shared with the Brewers.

At $8,300 a year to lease the machine, Delaware North doesn’t recoup any disposal fee savings — those are paid by the client — but VanderLaan said he thinks the future pros would outweigh the financial cons. Saving money “wasn’t the goal of it,” he said. “It was just the right thing to do.”

Because of the changing seasonal staff of the ballpark, ease of use was a requirement. “You do need to have something very easy to use that didn’t disrupt the food production chain,” VanderLaan said. Upon collecting scraps, a limited number of cooks and chefs have leeway to operate the machine, simply to make sure no foreign items clog it. Chefs collect waste in bins and deposit the waste in the machine on the way out the door each night. “It has been very smooth to operate and hasn’t added any noticeable labor,” he said. “We could, in the future, expand on this and include more waste.”

Delaware North handles waste from select kitchens. An expansion could include more sites and potentially post-consumer waste.

Having a digester on site has led to a new type of waste awareness within Miller Park and among Delaware North chefs and a resulting shift in food operations.

VanderLaan said the entire process has made lead cooks more environmentally conscious, with some now leading a bigger initiative in recycling or finding less wasteful ways to prep food. “That has been a great added benefit, something I wasn’t expecting,” he said. “It was a great surprise.”

By having food waste returned to the kitchens instead of thrown out, cooks can see more of the operation cycle. The all-inclusive areas offered a great lesson, where chefs were consistently seeing two or three pans of hamburgers returning to the kitchen, for example.

“We looked at a number of things in the all-inclusive areas and found we have been overproducing,” VanderLaan said.

HOT AND FRESH: 2018 Excellence in Concessions Awards

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TECH IS STILL THE TALK
 
Posted: 30 Sep 2018, 7:00 pm

Improving technology access is a major issue in convention center design and management today, said Michael Winters, principal and director of design and interiors at Fentress Architects, particularly as meeting attendees become younger and more socially connected.

“With everyone carrying multiple personal devices, bandwidth is the key to satisfying the expectations of the delegates to a convention,” Winters said. “Visitors expect high-speed connectivity so that they can plug in and connect their devices, as well as live-stream seminars and events.

The Miami Beach Convention Center, which Fentress designed, is providing 10-gigabit-per-second broadband. It’s one of the strategies “to make the project the most technology-advanced convention center in the U.S.,” Winters said.

Technology can also be a tool to better understand visitors. Rob Svedberg, principal for the convention center practice at Tvsdesign, said event organizers are increasingly turning to data analytics to research visitors’ behavior patterns to shape their event experiences. Similarly, “we’re using data to inform the design of the buildings.”

At the Las Vegas Convention Center, Svedberg said, venue operators will be able to use information gleaned from cell phone signals to track where groups of people are in the building and how they are using the space.

“Say you have a hotspot in the concourse that shows up for certain types of events. That can tell you that that’s a good spot to offer a coffee station or a lunch grab-and-go,” Svedberg said. “So there’s two pieces to it: collecting the data and then interpreting what it means and how to use it.”
Smarter buildings also mean more energy-efficient buildings, said Todd Voth, who leads the convention center practice for Populous.

“There’s such a focus on creating energy efficiency, and these monster buildings can really use a lot of energy if they’re not appropriately monitored,” Voth said. “You’ve got to be able to measure what you’re doing in order to get the best results — the most efficient results — and the building management systems now are a lot more sophisticated than they ever were.”

ALSO: Human Scale: Convention centers find their personalities with emphasis on becoming a place people want to be

 


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ARENAS OFFER SOME TIPS ON CREATING OWN EVENTS
 
Posted: 30 Sep 2018, 7:00 pm

Moving inside Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena helped Brewfest climb into the black. (Courtesy Spokane Brewfest)

There is certainly money to be made by creating events in-house like the Spokane Brewfest or Wichita’s Wingapalooza.

And there are certainly pitfalls.

Keys to success include finding sponsors to cover all the costs from the get-go, being realistic with your expectations, and knowing your contracts and your community.

Reasons to even consider this added work and stress include driving traffic, meeting benchmarks, keeping sponsors happy and staff employed, serving a need in the community and, first and foremost, making money.

The Spokane Brewfest didn’t achieve the last goal until year three, according to Becca Watters, assistant general manager at Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena, who fortunately had been given three years by the board to make it a go. The event, which morphed into a one-day indoor event tied to a nonprofit, netted about $30,000 after this year’s edition Aug. 4. “This is moving in the right direction,” Watters said.

And that was accomplished without sponsors, which will be on board next year, and without a seller’s tent, which will also be new in 2019.

Wingapalooza at Intrust Bank Arena in Wichita, Kan., made about $20,000 in 2015, its first year. That grew to $40,000 in 2018, said Chris Kibler, assistant GM and director of finance for SMG at that venue. Her secret to success is sponsors who cover all costs going in.

At Verizon Arena in North Little Rock, Ark., Wingstock has made $15,000-$20,000 annually from year one, but Jared Willard, director of finance there, had more to say about creating space than creating content, having converted existing space at the 20-year-old arena into a Vibe Room lounge concept that brings about $100,000 annually to the arena (see story, Page 26).

All three spoke about their entrepreneurial spirit during IAVM’s VenueConnect in Toronto in July and during follow-up interviews with VenuesNow.

In Spokane, there had never been a true brewers’ festival, “even though we live in the beer capital of the world, I feel, here in the Northwest,” Watters said.

During planning, they looked to the experts, including Greg Flakus of GF Strategies, who was a consultant the first year. He hooked them up with the Oregon Brewers Festival, the largest craft beer festival in the country, which draws 80,000 people over a five-day period.

The first two years, the event was in the parking lot and the cost of the production included tents and fans, tables and chairs, plus electrical and labor, Watters remembered. 

Attendance over two days was 5,500 in 2016, the inaugural year, which featured a free gate. “Anyone was welcome, but if you wanted to drink beer you had to pay to get the mug and the tokens,” Watters said. “We had a great talent lineup, a great festival experience.”
But it did not make a profit.

In 2017, they were hit by “one of our worst smoke days in our history,” she continued.  The event drew 2,500 people in two days.

On the plus side, they brought in a nonprofit group, Wishing Star Foundation, which allowed them to do many things one cannot do as a for-profit producer.

Concessionaire Centerplate’s contract allows the arena to host a certain number of events without using the concessionaire. “Know your contract with your food providers,” Watters advised.

“We have a longstanding relationship with Centerplate. They are big believers in this event,” Watters said. “The first year, they had their own food stands, but allowed us to bring in food trucks. This year, they only helped us with things like ordering ice.”

The big break came with moving the festival indoors.  That cut out the expense of bringing in “porta johns, tents, tables, pipe and drape, all of that,” Watters said. Being able to focus on the cool experience, lighting the building, using the assets like electricity and restrooms that already existed, and even bringing the food trucks into the arena, changed everything.

“One of the perks we marketed heavily, because August is such a hot month, was air conditioning — beat the heat,” Watters said.

It also became a one-day event, a pattern they will continue in 2019. Next year will also feature sponsors and a sellers’ tent, where attendees are able to buy the product they’ve tasted. Profits will be split with the brewers.

Attendance this year totaled 2,300, all paid. “You had to have a ticket to come into the building — $30 at the door and $25 in advance. Designated-driver tickets  were $5,” Watters said. The price of admission got you a pint glass, 13 tasting tokens (2 ounces each), and access to the bands. Food truck fare was extra. Additional tasting tokens were $1 each. The arena controls all the cash.

Both Watters and Kibler emphasized the need for additional activities. In Spokane, local bands were booked through a local media and lifestyle outlet, The Inlander, which does its own festival each year. The Inlander was a sponsor of sorts, arranging for all the bands and branding the staging. Two stages cost the arena about $3,500.

Spokane also changed its marketing strategy in 2018. For the first two years, it was a mix of digital and traditional advertising and the spend was about $12,000 each year. This year, everything was online with a focus on video, at a cost of $7,000. “We went to brewers who would be at the festival and filmed one-minute video features of each,” Watters said. “We focused on interactive content to get people excited. It worked well.”

Beer was the biggest expense at Brewfest. The arena opens up a registration link in the spring to register to be a part of Brewfest. Participation was limited to 30 brewers this year.

“We buy their beer — working with a nonprofit that’s required,” Watters said. The brewers  deliver the kegs the day before.

“If a keg ran out past 5 p.m., we did not open another keg. There were not many half or even unused barrels this year,” Watters said. The festival ran from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.

The arena guarantees it will buy two kegs per brewer and asks them to bring a third just in case, based on the number of  ounces per keg and expected attendance numbers. Since most of the tickets were presold this year, it’s simple math.

Sponsorships can be a tricky prospect if you have a deal with a tenant team. That goes back to “know your contracts.” Watters said they will work with the sponsorship coordinators involved with their hockey team regarding next year’s festival.

Product is a major cost for Wingapalooza as well. Kibler remembered that “the first year, we absolutely didn’t want to run out, so we bought $25,000 worth (300 cases) of wings. We were eating wings for the rest of the year. But if you’re doing an all-you-can-eat event, you better not run out.”

The arena purchases the chicken wings, now limited to 15-18 cases, and distributes them to the restaurants to prepare, a process that can take up to three days. On the day of, they check to make sure all the wings come back to the building.

Wingapalooza is held on the arena floor and is limited to 2,000 people, but that increased in 2018 when they expanded into the loading dock area. Brewfest attendance is also capped, in both cases to make ensure a good guest experience.

Admission is $20, which earns purchasers all the wings they can eat.

Kibler said it has to be a good experience all around, requiring tables and chairs so attendees can sit and eat with friends, and multiple entertainment options such as DJs (preferred to live bands for the wings crowd of mostly guys who want good beer-drinking music) and cornhole boards.

“We learned after year one that without seating they came, ate, left,” Kibler said. “When we have the tables, they stay two or three hours, hang out and drink beer.”

The target audience is usually 21- to 45-year-old males and not a lot of kids. Kids are not going to eat $20 worth of wings.

Advertising is key to making sure you make money. Kibler worked with a $3,000 budget. The first two years, they used Groupon, but this year they opted not to and sold out in advance. “It’s important to have the restaurants advertise for you, as well, with a save-the-date approach,” Kibler said. Intrust Bank Arena provides the posters, fliers and table tents and lines up participating restaurants six months in advance so they can market the event. They also trade marketing for sponsorship with a local TV station.

Sponsors cover the cost of the event in total, so tickets and beer sales are profit, Kibler said. “If you don’t have sponsors, you won’t make any money.”

Their biggest score is the wing tray sponsor. The tray has a place for beer, cell phone and wings. Everyone who attends gets a box. “From time to time, we’d have a wing-eating contest, also sponsored,” Kibler said, finding firemen and sheriff’s officers are big hits for these contests.

SMG’s Savor is the arena concessionaire and has three booths at Wingapalooza. “It gives the chef bragging rights and gets the Savor name out there,” Kibler said.

Given the competitive market in which Wichita resides, with Oklahoma City, Tulsa and Kansas City arenas nearby, and because the number of attendees and events is a benchmark for SMG and the city, it behooves arena management to create content and drive traffic, Kibler said.

That’s why she created Wingapalooza and a dodgeball tournament, which also takes place in July.

“It’s to drive more traffic through content,” Kibler said. “We will do one more in the fall, a Taste of Wichita.”

ALSO: Creating space: Arkansas arena finds room to innovate, boost revenue


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BEST NEW TECHNOLOGY
 
Posted: 30 Sep 2018, 7:00 pm

The first test of Aramark’s Brew2You in-seat ordering systems using Apple Business Chat proved a success. Aramark now has plans for additional pilot programs for the system, all with the goal of removing barriers associated with in-seat ordering and delivery at sporting events.

“We see what is happening in the rest of the world and in industries outside of us, and the adoption rate (of mobile ordering) in sports and in-seat sports is much lower,” said Danielle Lazor, Aramark vice president of design, development and retail operations. “We knew people were ready for it. We just didn’t have the right platform.”

Lazor said the largest barrier to mobile ordering centered on the downloading of additional apps. “We have teams figuring out how to make it more frictionless,” she said. “We didn’t have a platform or a way to do it. Then Apple launched their Business Chat. That was the first entree into the idea. We knew chatbots were the way of the future, we just didn’t have a system to easily pilot and test in our venue to even see if our theory was right.”

With this summer’s pilot across 1,728 seats in four sections at Citizens Bank Park, home of Major League Baseball’s Philadelphia Phillies, Aramark found fans will engage, Lazor said.

“The first learning was (that) the downloading of an app or another program is a bit of a barrier and, I think, the second learning was that (the new system) worked. It was making it easy,” she said.

Citizens Bank Park was chosen because of the long-standing partnership between Philadelphia-based Aramark and the Phillies and the team’s desire to continue to innovate. As part of the 10-day pilot in late July and early August in the usually full sections 142 through 145, fans found instructions attached to their seats on how to use the mobile ordering.

To kick-start the service, fans opened the camera app on their iPhone to scan a QR code that activated Apple Business Chat in the Messages app. From there, fans scrolled through the “list picker,” choosing from three beers and bottled water for the order. Fans completed the order via Apple Pay. The order was then sent to the stadium’s hawking station and in-seat delivery happened within minutes, Lazor said.

“It was obviously a very limited testing area, but we saw a pretty high rate of engagement,” Lazor said. “For this particular pilot, they had to have an Apple iPhone with a newer operating system and had to use Apple Pay. Right out of the gate we understood we were going to be isolating specific fans, but we saw a pretty high rate of engagement. It was successful enough that we said we need to figure out how to expand and scale quickly.”

That led to plans for the additional pilots. Aramark hasn’t announced the locations, but Lazor said the concessionaire plans to run in-arena pilots to test additional components. Aramark may expand the menu, offering more beverages or potentially prepackaged snacks such as peanuts.

While the program will retain the Brew2You moniker, Lazor said, they won’t limit themselves just to beverages. “If it works well and there is a path for food,” she said, “we will do it.”

Aramark also wants to include deeper integration into the delivery system. In Philadelphia, the order went straight to the stadium’s hawking station and then a hawker, after returning to the station, delivered to seats. A potential next step integrates the chatbot with the point-of-sale system so that hawkers could receive an order alert on a smart watch no matter where in the venue they were working, further automating the program.

“We have about three more phases we need to prove out and learn from before we think we can go to more of a scaled program across our venues,” Lazor said. “It is automated now. We just think we can improve that automation.”

HOT AND FRESH: 2018 Excellence in Concessions Awards

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HOLLYWOOD LIGHTS UP THE DARK DAYS
 
Posted: 30 Sep 2018, 7:00 pm

A Steve Martin-Martin Short show at Peace Center Concert Hall became a Netflix special. (Getty Images)

Venues in the Southeast are finding a somewhat unexpected windfall from the film and television industries, entertainment forms that are often competitors to live experiences.

That’s because the area has attracted productions in the past few years thanks to a variety of factors: generous incentives, versatile locations, creation of new studios, and the lack of unions in the states.

In fact, Georgia overtook California as the leading state for feature film production in 2016 and kept the spot in 2017. TV and other smaller productions are proliferating as well. This work has translated into “found” revenue for some theaters.

“We can lease out dark days to the film industry and it’s been very lucrative for us. It’s generated some income that we’ve never been able to take advantage of before,” said Allan Vella, president and CEO of the historic Fox Theatre in Atlanta, which is actually a former cinema that was part of William Fox’s nationwide chain of movie palaces.

Vella said it’s been easy to work with productions to fill in gaps on the calendar: “Oftentimes they want to shoot  in the building or the exterior and they frequently request dates within 30 days — and in a 30-day window we know exactly what we’ll have available. It’s a segment of the business that fits in well with our schedule, and they’re very respectful of the building and they pay their bills.”

The Fox Theatre is not alone among Atlanta venues on screen. The 108-year-old Tabernacle in Olympic Park has also taken star turns in films, as has the Music Midtown festival.

No Laughing Matter
It’s not just Hollywood and traditional small-screen productions. Digital content producers are booking venues in the area, including live shows. And they’re looking outside the capitals for unique locations.

The highlight of the past year was taping the performance for the show “Steve Martin and Martin Short: An Evening You Will Forget for the Rest of Your Life” for Netflix, recalled Megan Riegel, president and CEO of the Peace Center Concert Hall in Greenville, S.C. “It was a weeklong effort. (‘Saturday Night Live’ creator) Lorne Michaels was in the building. It was remarkable, and now it’s memorialized in the Netflix special.”

This wasn’t the Peace Center’s debut, however, as it has hosted televised presidential debates for both parties, including the Republicans in 2016.

While the high-profile shoots are memorable, Riegel is not looking for the Peace Center to be featured more often in productions, but she wants to feature more films at the venue.

“We’ve got a bunch of real estate here to develop over the next 10 years. I’d like to (build) a theater to show films. We do the Oscar (nominated) shorts every year, and I’d love to be doing film festivals at some point when we get the right facilities.”

ALSO: It's Not the Same Old Song and Dance: Venues succeed by venturing into new territory

ALSO: Welcome to the Boomtown: Big Growth in Carolinas and Georgia

 

 


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A LEAGUE OF HIS OWN
 
Posted: 30 Sep 2018, 7:00 pm

Kenny Chesney plays on a June night during this year’s Trip Around the Sun tour, which grossed nearly $115 million. (Jill Trunnell)

Mark Donovan panicked.

Country superstar Kenny Chesney, as usual, was playing before a packed stadium. On this particular night, about 12 years ago, it was Lincoln Financial Field, home of the Philadelphia Eagles. Midway through the show, Chesney ran to the side of the stage to grab Donovan, a senior executive with the club, to help sing “Fly, Eagles Fly,” the team’s fight song.

“I told him, ‘Kenny, there’s no … way I’m going out on stage in front of 50,000 people,’” recalled Donovan, now president of the Kansas City Chiefs. “He gave me a look that I have seen a few other times — always in tough negotiations. He says, ‘You’re going to come out with me to sing the song, or next year I’m playing across the street,’” at Citizens Bank Park.

Donovan accepted the invitation. He walked out to the front of the stage, asked the fans to help sing the ditty, sang the first three words — “Fly, Eagles fly!” — dropped the microphone and walked back to the stage wings while Chesney led the crowd through the rest of the song.

For Donovan, the old adage of “be careful what you wish for” came true. The night before the concert, he had cocktails with Chesney and Louis Messina, Chesney’s longtime tour promoter. While Chesney played some music off his new album, Donovan suggested it would be cool for Kenny to sing the Eagles’ song during the show.

Cool indeed, right, Mark?

“It was a fun experience, but what I always tell people is, that’s the business side of Kenny,” Donovan said. “He gets it.”

The unforgettable moment helped cement Donovan’s relationship with Chesney, one that extended to Kansas City after Donovan took a job with the Chiefs in 2009. It’s just one example of the strong bonds formed between the artist and the teams and the facilities he’s played multiple times over the past 15 years.

This past summer in Pittsburgh, the Steelers marked Chesney’s 10th performance in 14 years at Heinz Field when he arrived on his Trip Around the Sun tour, which in total drew nearly 1.3 million fans and grossed almost $115 million (see story, Page 44) . The same was true at Ford Field in Detroit.

The shows have become one big family reunion for the teams and the production crews that have worked with Chesney for 20 years.

In Greater Pittsburgh alone, the economic impact extends to the hotels, bars, restaurants, airports, rental cars and ride hailing companies in Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio, said Jimmie Sacco, the Steelers’ executive director of stadium management.

“It’s a big day for boat rentals,” Sacco said, referring to folks who hang on the Allegheny River next to Heinz Field on the days of Chesney concerts.

The Steelers are a family-owned organization dating to the NFL’s early days. Sacco said that when team Chairman Dan Rooney died in April 2017, Chesney was among the first people to call the Steelers and offer his condolences.

“Kenny always looked forward to saying hello to the Rooney family, and especially Dan, every year,” Sacco said. “He held a fondness for Mr. Rooney.”

Along the way, Chesney helped put many stadiums on the map with his daylong celebrations of live music, according to NFL and MLB team officials.

The Minnesota Twins, for example, have played host to Chesney three times at Target Field since it opened in 2010.

“His performances elevated our visibility as a major concert venue,” said Kip Elliot, the Twins’ chief administrative officer. “He really got us off on the right foot in getting into the stadium concert business. Concessions are very strong, and we have made a decent amount of money. We hope to have him back again.”

For more than a dozen NFL teams, it all started in 2005, the year the Gridiron Stadium Network was formed to help book summer concerts at their facilities. At the time, many of those buildings were just a few years old, such as Heinz Field, Ford Field and Lincoln Financial Field. All three venues opened in the early 2000s.

Working closely with The Messina Group, the Steelers, among other teams, used Chesney as a test model for an on-field show at their facility. For some teams and buildings, that included assuming financial risk upfront to secure the date, according to Sacco.

At the time, it was something new for teams that would typically book concerts as a traditional rental in which they generated revenue from parking and concessions. By taking risk, there was a greater upside for the teams to gain a greater share of revenue in the deals they signed with promoters.

Plus, they had a much better chance of securing a Chesney date by having “skin in the game.” The Steelers and Chiefs have successfully adopted the model.

“Kenny showed that our stadiums are doable and there are partnerships to be formed,” Sacco said. “Stadium shows are back and getting bigger and better.”

Fifteen years later, those teams wearing the promoter’s hat have become very good at marketing Kenny Chesney shows, GSN’s consultant Jeff Apregan said.

“One of the great benefits is they have all of the team’s assets [and customer database] to bring to the table, which is really important,” he said. “Chesney’s team understands and appreciates it. The teams want it to be a great event. They want the artist to be happy and (to) want to come back.”

Arrowhead Stadium has played host to Chesney on six occasions, starting in 2011, two years after Donovan arrived in Kansas City. The facility, which opened in 1973, had gone through a $375 million renovation. Arrowhead had booked about 50 concerts over the years but had not had an on-field show in about a decade.

That changed after Donovan approached Chiefs owners the Hunt family and told them the timing was right to get back into the concert business. Donovan knew there was no better person to relaunch live music at Arrowhead than Chesney, and he connected with Messina to get a deal done.

The July 2011 show grossed $4.36 million in tickets sales with attendance of 52,523, which at the time was the fifth-biggest crowd for an Arrowhead concert.

“For Kenny, it was just another show; he does this every time he tours,” Donovan said. “For us, it was really powerful. At the venue, it was a magical night. Fans still talk about it. It put us back on the map with everybody in the touring business, proving that we could put 50,000 in the stadium in Kansas City.”

Since that time, Chesney has set attendance records twice at Arrowhead, in 2015 and 2018. Taylor Swift broke Chesney’s mark during her recent show at Arrowhead, “so we expect that when Kenny comes back he’s going to break Taylor’s record,” Donovan said. “It’s trending in the right direction.”

How does Chesney keep the stadium shows fresh? Overall, it’s his brilliance as a performer, in addition to mixing a variety of support acts on the bill, say those who have booked him multiple times.

“Kenny understands his audience and how to perform to that audience,” Donovan said.
“There’s really very few like that who really light up the stage that way. He’s developed sort of this experience that is as much about the day as it is about anything else, and that’s something we celebrate here in Kansas City, when you think about the traditions of Arrowhead and tailgating. Kenny fits that well.”

Apregan said people know what they’re going to get in a full day of live music, and the tickets are priced at an affordable level to provide great value. Teams add to the experience by upgrading pre-event hospitality outside the venue. The Steelers did it this year with Tailgate Guys, a third-party vendor.

“One of the things that has changed in country music over the last 15 years is that it’s accessible to young people,” he said. “Twenty years ago, country music wasn’t something that a 20-year-old would be thinking about going to see. I’d go to a stadium … and feel like I’m the oldest guy in the place.”

“The genre has done a lot to move itself forward,” Apregan said. “Kenny, in particular, headlining all these stadiums and having the sustained success he’s had … it’s the kind of threshold that a lot of other artists look to and hope to accomplish the same thing.”

What’s the future hold for the Kenny Chesney stadium franchise? At what point does the party end?

“It’s a great question, and I’m not equipped to answer it,” Apregan said. “He can pretty much do what he wants, including sitting on the beach. But he’s certainly worked hard. Look at all the tours. He hasn’t slowed down yet. We love guys that work.”

Said Sacco: “He was energized this year. He’s still got it, and anybody that’s counting him out, shame on them.”

ALSO: No Shoes Stadium Nation: Kenny Chesney Talks About Breaking Records, Giving Back

ALSO: NY and MetLife Stadium Love Chesney


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BEST NEW MENU ITEM
 
Posted: 30 Sep 2018, 7:00 pm

Pork Shoulder Bahn Mi with Pickled Carrot, Daikon and Fresh Cucumber, part of the Asian Street Food menu at PPL Center in Allentown, Pa. (Courtesy Spectra)

The best thing about Asian Street Food is that it is customizable, allowing the fan to personalize the dish and making it an interactive fan experience. Spectra executive chef Andrew Wissa created the dish for an existing concessions stand at PPL Center, Allentown, Pa., to debut for the coming season of the Lehigh Valley Phantoms minor league hockey team.

ChefAndrewWissa-PPLCenter-AlentownPA_Spectra.jpgExecutive chef Andrew Wissa.

“My main motivation was innovation and getting guests involved. Food is becoming an experience,” Wissa said. ‘”If we make the guest happy, they’ll be returning.”

It also showcases a mantra of Spectra Food Services & Hospitality: freshly made.

Wissa created the dish to highlight one of the hottest trends in the growing food truck scene, taking it inside the venue. “There are a lot of ramen and pho restaurants in the neighboring area,” he said.

Fans can choose from among three predetermined dishes or, if so inclined, can create their own by choosing one of three vessels — French baguettes, lettuce cups or fried won ton tacos — and one of three proteins — five-spice rubbed pork shoulder in Korean-style barbecue sauce; wasabi-crusted smoked brisket in miso broth or shredded lemon grass chicken cooked in ginger stock, Wissa said. There are seven toppings and no limit on selections.

The opening menu items include:

• Brisket Tacos, Napa Cabbage Slaw and a Honey Sesame Dressing
• Chicken Lettuce Wraps, Red Cabbage, Julienned Carrot, and a Ginger Dressing
• Pork Shoulder Bahn Mi with Pickled Carrot, Daikon and Fresh Cucumber

Wissa noted a growing demand for ethnic flavors along with the opportunity to prepare the dish fresh in front of the fans as his inspiration.

The price will be a flat $11.

“I took an account we had on Concourse C that was doing well, but we wanted to kind of blow it out and try something new with it,” Wissa said of the evolution of Asian Street Food. “It was a BBQ concept, customizable but kind of one dimensional.”

He particularly likes that guests can pick what they want, creating their own dish. The idea is not limited to Asian Street Food, he added. “This will change in about half a year. Everything is interchangeable.”

Wissa is training the staff to be versed in the food choices. He is setting up the prep station in the existing stand, with plans to have two preps and one cashier to expedite service.

It is a portable unit, self-contained. There is no kitchen involved, just hot wells and cold wells. Vessels are stored on the back counter. Back-of-house culinary staff will send everything upstairs to the concourse.

“I’m looking forward to it. I’m really excited about this,” Wissa said.

The idea plays off a dish for which Wissa received a Knifey award at Spectra’s annual Culinary Summit, a Pho chicken breast with cabbage slaw, corn and cilantro.

“I’ve tried it on some guests, and it’s producing well,” said Wissa, who started as a cook in a Spectra venue seven years ago before working his way up to sous chef and, six months ago, executive chef. “We will run that one as a special this year in our regular concessions stands.”

HOT AND FRESH: 2018 Excellence in Concessions Awards

ALSO: Best New Concept

ALSO: Best New Technology

ALSO: Best Sustainability Initiative


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HOT AND FRESH
 
Posted: 30 Sep 2018, 7:00 pm

Out with the old and in with the new. This applies to both the name of our annual awards for excellence in concessions — formerly the Silver Spoon Awards and now the VenuesNow Excellence In Concessions Awards — and the 2018 winners.

Concessions_Logo_Spoons1.jpgNew technology was at the core of two of our winners: Brew2You, a text-based beverage delivery system in use at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, and innovative biodigestion technology that is converting food waste into environmentally friendly wastewater, a winner for Miller Park in Milwaukee.

A new concept at Seattle’s CenturyLink Field, called Stadium Street was also a clear winner with its local chefs and cuisines presented food-truck style, with the vendors changing each game.

Our final winner, new menu item Asian Street Food, will be sold inside PPL Center in Allentown, Pa., and was an instant hit with our judges.

What all four winners have in common are venues and concessionaires not settling for the same old stale concession staples and ways of doing business. Instead, they have listened to the fans and are giving them something new, something different, something fabulous.

The panel convened to pick the honorees had a tough time. Among the nominees, which were submitted to VenuesNow by readers, there were many great and inventive food and beverage stories to choose from.

Panel participants — VenuesNow staff members joined by Russ Simons of Venue Solutions Group; Iowa State University’s Tammy Koolbeck; Cheryl Swanson of the Columbia (S.C.) Metropolitan Convention Center; Gila River Arena’s Dale Adams; Durham (N.C.) Performing Arts Center's Bob Kaus; Portland5's Robyn Williams; and GF Strategies' Greg Flakus — all mentioned that picking winners in each category was a challenge this year because so many of the contenders were worthy of the award.

The range of ideas was broad and the execution expert. The imagination of venues and concessionaires in this industry is inspiring. Never a group to just wait for the next big thing to show up, the venue industry creates, leads and paves the way for innovative and mouth-watering food and beverage creations and industry-moving ideas that make their way around the world.

We can't wait to see — and taste — what's next.

Best New Concept: Stadium Street

Best New Menu Item: Asian Street Food

Best New Technology: Brew2You

Best Sustainability Initiative : Biodigester


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BUCKS ARE READY TO CRANK UP THE MUSIC AT THEIR NEW PLACE
 
Posted: 30 Sep 2018, 7:00 pm

Fiserv Forum officials are taking full advantage of the arena’s honeymoon period. The new arena run by the Milwaukee Bucks has booked more than two dozen concerts over the next 10 months, far surpassing the number their old arena had in the past year.

That’s because for the first time in 30 years, the Bucks have full control of their facility. At BMO Harris Bradley Center, a third party operated the arena and the NBA team was a tenant. Now, the Bucks and the venue are one entity, and Fiserv Forum General Manager Raj Saha is free to fill as many dates as possible with concerts, family shows and other events. 

“We’re going to do two to three concerts a month here when it’s all said and done,” Saha said. “Part of it is the newness. The biggest thing is the team and building are one from a business aspect. In the past, we were paying rent” at Bradley Center.

The Bucks would not say whether they’re taking financial risk to put the new arena in a better position to book shows. In some cases, teams and facilities that spend money upfront to pay for the act have a greater chance of securing a date over a traditional rental agreement, according to event promoters.

Regardless, the Bucks can now market concerts at Fiserv Forum through multiple outlets such as the digital displays attached to the scorer’s table, which was something they could not do for their games at Bradley Center.

“We’re able to show graphics when you’re watching on TV, that J Balvin is coming, or being able to drop in on radio that Twenty One Pilots is here as well,” Saha said. “It’s all the same means of advertising.”

In addition, the Bucks can now consolidate what had been separate databases for NBA ticket holders and those buying concert tickets into one large program.

“That’s what a lot of agents, managers and promoters look for is the big assets you have,” Saha said. “Bradley Center had its own database for their shows and we had ours for the team. That’s all changed now.”

As part of their arena marketing strategy, the Bucks are trying to persuade residents of the suburbs north of Chicago to drive to Milwaukee for concerts. The cities sit 90 miles apart.

Early on, however, most concert ticket buyers are from Wisconsin, which has been a pleasant surprise, according to Saha.

“The great news is we thought there was going to be more of a reliance and pull of ticket sales from Chicago and northern Illinois, but 90 percent of our ticket buyers are in-state,” he said.

Those numbers could adjust in the coming months after the new arena becomes further established as a concert venue. Saha said some shows are skipping Chicago this year after playing the larger market in 2017, such as Metallica.

Another plus is Fiserv Forum’s robust infrastructure to accommodate the concert industry’s heaviest concert loads. The arena’s rigging system can handle up to 300,000 pounds. That’s music to the ears for bands such as Metallica and Foo Fighters, which both surpass 200,000 pounds in equipment hung from the rafters.

“Populous did a great job exploring maximum rigging for arenas in this part of the U.S.,” Saha said. “There are very few buildings out there that can rig more than us. It’s starting to creep up. It rarely gets north of 200,000 pounds but it’s coming for a lot of the show elements.” 

ALSO: Grand Entrance: The Milwaukee Bucks are "entering the entertainment business" with Fiserv Forum, and it's all about making a good first impression


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IT'S NOT THE SAME OLD SONG AND DANCE
 
Posted: 30 Sep 2018, 7:00 pm

Andrea Bocelli’s first concert in Charlotte was a big success for Spectrum Center. (Brock Williams Smith)

Some of the most successful Southeastern venues are finding new opportunities outside of the usual tours and mainstream acts and reaping handsome rewards for taking the risks.

Spectrum Center in Charlotte scored Andrea Bocelli’s first concert in the city. “It’s pretty uncharted territory,” said Kate Dordick, director of arena booking with Hornets Sports & Entertainment, which operates the city-owned venue.

“We worked with local partners to make sure we were tapping into all of our market since he’d never performed here before. We worked with the Performing Arts Center to target their audience as well,” Dordick said.

Tickets sold from $78.50 up to $358.50 (the highest-priced ticket at the arena since Dordick came aboard four years ago). The result: “It was the highest-grossing show in venue history. For a first time sold-out play, a $2.6 million sold-out gross, it was successful for everyone,” said Dordick, adding, ”We couldn’t make up seats or inventory in the building. We sold out every seat. “

Meanwhile, Broadway clearly remains one of the hottest types of tours, but a hot consumer technology trend is fast becoming a fan favorite: podcasts.

“They are a great new product for our industry, they are growing in popularity and we’ve had some success,” said Allan Vella, president and CEO of the Fox Theatre in Atlanta. “’My Favorite Murder’ will sell out the Fox in November. It’s interesting and fun to bring those podcasts live on stage.”

The Peace Center Concert Hall in Greenville, S.C., is tapping into its Americana roots to strengthen ties with the community. The nonprofit venue’s president and CEO, Megan Riegel, said, “I’ve been very committed to building a songwriters program and Edwin McCain is an artist-in-residence. People can take songwriting classes from him or his songwriting partner, Maia Sharp.”

McCain and other artists (Dave Wilcox and Jill Sobule are scheduled for later dates) share secrets of the trade with guests during four- to five-hour workshops at the venue. The workshops cost $75 a person.

“The world around us is changing,” said Riegel, adding, “People want great experiences more than stuff.”

Nothing except perhaps live shows by the dead. No, not the Grateful Dead, although you have to imagine Jerry Garcia is virtually warming up in the wings as hologram technology is now resurrecting rockers. 

“We’re going to have the Roy Orbison show,” said Vella. “We are enthusiastic for how it’s trending. It’s the music of Roy Orbison, they use a hologram to create his image and members of his band and a local symphony to play his music.”

Talk about the ultimate curtain call. But Vella says it’s a fair price to pay for a show that includes the tech, intellectual property and symphony: “Apparently they had record-breaking sales in the U.K., and we think it’ll do really well in Atlanta. … I’ve never done a show like this before. It’ll be a first for us in the Fox.”

ALSO: Hollywood Lights Up the Dark Days

ALSO: Welcome to the Boomtown: Big growth in Georgia and the Carolinas


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RECRUITING TIP OF THE MONTH
 
Posted: 30 Sep 2018, 6:55 pm

It’s easy to understand the anxiety and pressure involved in landing your next job. There are some potential missteps in the interview process, however, for which there are simply no excuses. Thus, a few tips:

Be on time! If you’re running late, let the company and/or your recruiter know as soon as possible. Your punctuality says a lot about you and can ruin an interview from the start. Be prepared for traffic around the venue, security check-ins if needed, and other situations that could come up.

Practice for your interview. Prepare for the simple questions you know will be asked. There are common interview questions that you can easily formulate answers for.  Be prepared to share your successes, whether managing a large staff, the number of events you have run, any venue or facility-specific certifications, major capital projects or renovations. Remember to sell yourself!

Think positive. When preparing for an interview, it’s common to feel nervous. Do extensive research on the company and the interviewer(s) beforehand. Everyone has achieved their level of success through an interview and they have been through it all. Don’t let the size and scope of a venue, stadium, arena and company get in your head.

Finally, and some may argue the most important, always follow up with a thank you note after an interview. A simple gesture can go a long way and be the make-or-break in the decision process. Be patient with the process, as there are undoubtedly other applicants in the mix, but take the opportunity to stay top of mind with a small note after your interview.


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THRIVING AT FIVE
 
Posted: 30 Sep 2018, 6:40 pm

The SSE Hydro at the Scottish Event Campus. (Courtesy SSE Hydro)

The SSE Hydro in Glasgow, Scotland, celebrated its fifth anniversary in September, but the roots of its design stretch back much further than that: The venue feels quite intimate despite its capacity of 13,000, thanks to its elliptical sloping shape inspired by Greek and Roman amphitheaters.

The Hydro was the most successful U.K. venue in terms of ticket sales in the arena category of Pollstar’s midyear worldwide ticket sales charts, just ahead of Manchester Arena, and ranked sixth overall. It sold 1,076,209 tickets in the calendar year 2017.

The venue is part of the Scottish Event Campus, which also includes the 3,000 capacity Armadillo and the SEC conference center. The campus as a whole sold 1,304,657 tickets in 2017.

In the financial year ending March 2018,  SEC revenue increased by 1 percent to £29.1 million, EBITDA increased by 11 percent to £3.8 million and operating profit increased by 19 percent to £1.3 million.

The SEC is owned and operated by Scottish Event Campus Ltd. Glasgow City Council owns 90.86 percent of its shares, and private institutions such as banks, pension funds and insurance companies own the rest.

Q_A_Debbie_McWilliams.jpgDebbie McWilliams.

As Paul Simon was in town to play one of his last solo concerts in Europe over the summer, Debbie McWilliams, the venue’s head of live entertainment, discussed the status of business at the Hydro.

Is it a good time to be working in the live business?
There has never been a better time to work in the live entertainment business. For artists, this is their main revenue stream and as such more are touring, resulting in an abundance of choice for the consumer.

Productions are focused on delivering the best possible experience at a time when people are placing more importance on buying experiences over things. The result is a buoyant marketplace.

Can you talk about the SSE Hydro’s business? How’s it doing, how has it developed over the past years?
Business levels for the SSE Hydro have been consistently positive since opening in 2013.
A new building generates a lot of interest and a strong desire to play there. We have had the great fortune of hosting some spectacular special events every year since opening, including the Commonwealth Games, the (Europe Music Awards) and BBC Sports Personality all in the first year, and we have continued to attract high-profile special events every year thereafter.

There is so much consumer goodwill towards the venue, which we don’t take for granted. The fan experience is at the very top of our priority list. We want to deliver the best events in the best venue and believe we have the best people in place to ensure that happens.

How important are concerts in your overall business plan, compared with other events you put on at the arena?
Concerts make up a significant part of our overall live entertainment business. However, comedy, with the likes of Still Game and Kevin Bridges, has made up a significant percentage of the overall live entertainment business every year and as mentioned earlier we have had a strong special events program, too.

Are you looking into esports at all and other new forms of entertainment, such as YouTube stars on stage, et cetera?
We have invested a significant amount of time and research into understanding the esports market, and the only barrier to our hosting events of this nature thus far is having available tenancy. We are confident that we will play host to a big esport event in the not too distant future. YouTube acts are also an emerging marketplace, and whilst we haven’t hosted anything of Hydro scale, we have staged some smaller events in other spaces on the campus. 

How else do you keep the venue busy? Are you putting on programs during the day?
The venue hosts conference sector business. We’ve played host to TEDx, religious meetings and events aimed at schoolchildren. Looking ahead, the booking team are in discussion with key clients about hosting festival-style events across our campus. 

Do you have a VIP offering?
On an event-by-event basis, VIP packages are offered and delivered by the promoter. We do offer yearly venue VIP experience with our suite option and club membership. Naming-rights partner SSE offer lounge access as an upgrade to their customers.

What makes Scotland unique, when it comes to the live music scene? Is what people say about Scottish live music fans being the most passionate fans true?
Before any artist takes to stage at the SSE Hydro they pass a large clock which carries the message “Time to meet the best fans in the world,” and there is no better depiction of the Scottish audience, who are the most vocal, musically knowledgeable, discerning and loyal.
If the Scottish fans take you to their heart you are in there forever. For example only last week Roger Waters received the loudest and longest ovation that I have ever heard. It was a very special moment not only for the spectator but for Roger himself, I’m sure.

Do you have a favorite live band of all time?
For me, it’s Take That. I have had the privilege to see them perform every time they have played Glasgow in their 25-year career. Not only do they have great songs but what they deliver from a production perspective goes beyond the realms of music and crosses into a theatrical extravaganza. They know what their fans want and give them exactly that every time.

They are as strong as a three-piece as they were as a five-piece and are possibly the only boy band who can boast that they have a large male following, too. Great songs coupled with great production and a focus on giving the fans what they have come to expect — a winning formula.

What are the challenges that live music is facing in Scotland? Do you have enough venues of different sizes, so up-and-coming artists can build a career, working up through the different capacities? 
Glasgow has always been rich in terms of the quality and quantity of atmospheric venues. Many artists have launched careers in this city. Take Biffy Clyro, for example. They launched a career at King Tut’s (Wah Wah Hut) before progressing to the Barrowlands and then on to the big stage at the Hydro and are top of the list for headlining festivals. Of course it would be remiss of me not to mention Oasis and the part that Glasgow played in launching their career.

Is the government supportive of live music?
The Hydro stands as a beacon of city partnership. As major shareholder, city support was integral to the delivery of the SSE Hydro and the people of Glasgow responded by making it consistently one of the busiest arenas in the world. Glasgow is a UNESCO City of Music, which is a great accolade, and we’ll continue to work hard with them to maintain it.

Have the security requirements for live events in Scotland changed much over the past years, given that live events have become a worldwide target for terrorists?
There is no doubt that one of the biggest challenges that we face not only as a venue but as an industry is security, and our focus is making sure that we look after the welfare of all our visitors in a way that does just that whilst not impacting on their enjoyment.

This is an ongoing process, of course, and one of our main focuses. As well as enhanced security measures such as bag and full body searches, we regularly liaise with the appropriate authorities for guidance, including Police Scotland, and carry out numerous tabletop exercises to train and test the SEC team.

At certain times, ticket checks take place at entry points to the site of the campus (such as the link bridge to the station) restricted to ticket holders only. Looking ahead, the focus will remain on public safety as we strive for an even safer campus for all staff and visitors, which is of paramount importance.

Another topic of major importance is sustainability.
We continually strive to improve our sustainability practices and have retained a Gold Award in line with the Green Business Tourism Scheme. We’re working towards ensuring that the whole campus can operate on a 100 percent recyclable and compostable basis. So far, there have been over 15 initiatives implemented, including cultivating our own SEC honey on site – judging by the great summer we have had this year we are hoping for a bumper harvest!

Another example during the year was when we held our first fully compostable event, with no waste to landfill from a sold-out Mogwai concert. The band had chosen the Marine Conservation Society as their charity for the concert and had inquired about the waste policy at the venue. In line with the ‘No Straws’ campaign, Mogwai requested that none were served at the event. The SEC team managed to find some fully compostable straws to use, ensuring that everything served at the event was fully recyclable, and this spurred us on to remove all plastic straws from our campus from February this year.


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FOR STAGING COMPANIES, 'HIGHER, FASTER, FURTHER'
 
Posted: 30 Sep 2018, 6:00 pm

The League of Legends World Final esports event at Beijing National Stadium in 2017 (Courtesy Star Events Ltd.)

The last 10 years have seen a dramatic shift in production staging, as advances in technology and the demand of artists seeking to justify higher ticket prices by presenting more dazzling shows for their fans push the size and scope of the creations and construction that companies in the industry produce.

Staging takes places across the board on live events — concert tours, festivals, Broadway and touring theatrical shows. Even corporate installations have gotten so elaborate that they require teams of staging experts to pull them off.

It’s a long way from the early days of touring, when the production elements were really “just a cover against the rain,” said Roger Barrett, special projects director for Star Events Ltd., based in the U.K. Gone is the era when an act went out with a couple of stools, a backdrop and maybe a smoke machine, he said.

Brigitte Fuss, an executive at Megaforce Staging Co. in Germany, agreed that today’s staging is calling for “higher, faster, further. The music business has changed over the past years. More money must be earned through live music events and at the same time, festivals and music concerts have become a global trend. These and other factors lead to a growing market with more competition. And more competition results in progress. So, we see a harder market than ever and the need to excite visitors with extraordinary shows and with elements that have never been seen before.”

Bill Gorlin, vice president of the entertainment division at McLaren Engineering Group, based in New Jersey, has been with the company since 2000. Gorlin’s company engineers for concerts, festivals, Broadway-style shows and corporate displays, exhibits and activations. His firm worked on Taylor Swift’s last two tours, the last U2 tour, and Broadway’s “Frozen” and the “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” stage show.

“The shows started to get big in the ’70s, they got bigger in the ’80s, and by the ’90s they started to need some serious engineering,” he said. “It’s evolved quickly and in a parallel manner to the theatrical industry. That industry started using wood flats and staging and migrated to metal and then scaffold-type supports, and all that has now been replaced with purpose-built modular staging systems.”

Theatrical touring shows are particularly difficult to construct, he said. “The ability to tour is vital to the viability to a show,” he said. “A touring show typically only gets a day or two to load into a venue. The design and rigging is quite different for something that has to load in and load out constantly versus a show that stays in one theater for a long time.”

“The productions are getting more challenging and we’re constantly looking for solutions to make it work,” said Tom Frederickx, project manager for Stageco. The company, which has offices in Europe and the U.S., specializes in electronic dance music festivals and has worked on many of Insomniac’s events, including Beyond Wonderland, Hard and Nocturnal, on multiple continents.

“The staging is getting really big and (has gone) a long way away from a small DJ platform to big productions that require multiple screens and set pieces,” Frederickx said. “The shows are also being sent all over the world, so the sets have to be adjustable and movable and it’s becoming more and more difficult to stage them.”

LED ADVANCEMENTS BLESSING AND CURSE
Advancements in LED screens have ramped up what is possible and what modern audiences expect. “Good-image-quality screens are pushing the structural designs,” Barrett said. “In the early days, a screen of 3 feet across was considered to be huge. Now we’re hauling in 200-foot screens.”

“Nowadays, bigger stages including more big LED screens is the norm,” Fuss said. “Some stages seem to be only LED. A large screen can be as big as 1,000 square meters (10,764 square feet).

Budgets can run from $100,000 to $500,000 for a one-off show, said Frederickx. Traveling tours can see budgets in the millions, Gorlin added.

With the productions growing in size and shape exponentially, one of the challenges is fitting them into older venues that were never built to house modern, elaborate, heavy and technically complicated sets.

Barrett used a recent AEG-promoted Roger Waters show in Hyde Park, “Barclaycard presents British Summer Time,” as an example of a show that tested the limits. “We used the entire length of the stage but had to cut back capacity to fit it all in,” he said. “That’s been happening over and over in the last two to three years.”

Fuss sees the bigger productions as a chance to move the industry forward. “Megaforce is always continuing to develop our systems. We are adapting to the new technical changes and we see these developments as new challenges to build stages with the highest level of efficiency, security and load capacity.”

The League of Legends World Final, an esports event held in 2017 at Beijing National Stadium (known as the Bird’s Nest when it was the focal point for the 2008 Summer Olympics), was an example of when the design was simply too big for the venue. “We ran out of space and had to chop away screens,” Barrett recalled.

Frederickx said he works closely with the designers to make sure what they’re creating will fit. “I often have to tell them to scale it back. My goal is always to find that out in the design phase rather than have a big headache on the ground.”

With the productions becoming bigger, load-in and load-out times are being stressed, Barrett said. “In the U.K. we have a very short summer,” he said. “That means shows are squeezing through short periods and the venues are really busy and are not interested in providing any more time to set up and pull down the productions than they did five years ago.”

“We’re having to get faster and faster, but there’s only so many hours in a day,” he said. “The venues want to take advantage of every day they can, and the artists want to bring in these gigantic shows, and it’s straining the relationship between the artists’ team and the venue runners. This problem seems to get worse every season with no solution in sight.”

Barrett also said that to save time, multiple vendors are all working at the same time, rather than sequentially as they once did, which creates challenges with them “bumping into each other and fighting for access.”

Vendors have to pick up the cost and are surviving by their ability to adapt to the new commercial reality, he said. “This is causing rapid development in structural systems. The days of guys building towers are long since gone. We’re working almost exclusively with cranes, using much bigger pieces.”

LABOR SHORTAGE
Finding the highly skilled employees required to run all the big equipment is also a challenge for production houses, with Brexit in the U.K. only adding to the lack of talent available, according to Barrett.

Brexit will stop the ability of non-U.K. workers to work in that country without special visas. “The agencies that we use to provide labor are finding it’s harder to attract people to work for them with vast amounts of people from Eastern Europe leaving the U.K. and going back to their own countries ahead of the Brexit deadline, which is March 2019.”

Fuss confirmed that finding qualified people is harder than ever “because of the higher complexity and the technical progress of stages.”

“It’s difficult to find the right people and the right amount of people,” said Frederickx.
Gorlin said that typically with a touring theatrical show there’s a full-time crew that moves with the production, but local labor is hired in each new location to supplement the core crew. He also agreed that technology advancements are making it harder and harder to find those workers.

WIND IS A BIG DEAL
The lack of people to build and set up the shows may be concerning, but more alarming to the experts is the safety of the crews, artists and fans as the weight of the productions grows bigger every year.

“We’re now building structures with built-in load monitoring capabilities, but we’re always at the mercy of the wind,” Barrett said. “Because the screens are now so massive, it’s not practical to take them down. We design the pieces with the wind load in mind, but the bigger the screens get, the more substantial the engineering needs to get.”

Lighter LEDs have made things more efficient, said Gorlin. “But at a price. The LED products are improving month by month and becoming much lighter, which then creates the wind challenges. The same screen that weighs 12,000 pounds today weighed 35,000 pounds 20 years ago. Making the systems lighter and better for touring has made them much more vulnerable to wind. The industry continues to struggle with this problem, and it gets worse with each new LED advancement.”

You must have an emergency strategy in case of wind, said Fuss, who added that Megaforce systems can hold up to wind force, but when the faced with anything higher they have to stop a show.

Frederickx also sees the wind factor as one of the most pressing issue facing staging companies today. “At a certain moment you have no choice but to shut down the show,” he said. “One of the production manager’s main jobs is to coordinate with local weather   experts. It’s always better to cancel a show ahead of time than have to evacuate a site.”

Barrett said he’s finding that at the top end the resource and knowledge levels surrounding safety is good; it’s on the lower end where there is less control, less skill and less resources, and he believes that’s where the risks become much higher.

THE GROWTH OF CORPORATE ACTIVATION
Barrett is coming across one growth area outside of musical touring shows more and more often: “big brands looking to create weird and wonderful activations to show off their brand at festivals and other places.”

“But many of them come to us with mad ideas and little knowledge of actual production and rigging,” he said. “Those people often have no idea of the gravity of what they are proposing.”

Gorlin said his biggest challenge when designing for today’s landscape is probably “having to play policeman” while trying to meet client expectations. “I often have to explain regulatory issues and governmental rules to clients and tell them they can’t do something. There are height restrictions, weight restrictions, lighting restrictions and time of day restrictions that all need to be understood before even beginning to design a staging project.”

COLLATERAL EFFECTS OF NEW TECHNOLOGY
Gorlin sees technological changes as generally positive “but with collateral effects we need to be mindful of.”

He cited fabrication techniques as an area affected by new tech. “In the old days things were measured and cut in the shop on the floor. Now it’s all precision cutting machines using computer-generated geometry,” he said. “Today there are a lot of plates that get assembled jigsaw-puzzle style. That means we have lost the layout guy, and the people who specialized in that are out of a job.”

Frederickx called it an evolution. “New technology is great,” he said, “but training people how to use it can be tricky and time consuming.”

“People don’t really care about stages— until they fall over,” Barrett added. “We’re not about the glamour parade of screens and sounds; we’re about the engineering and the quiet professional discipline in the background. The pleasure is to enable the creative people to do what they do.”


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SECURITY TIP OF THE MONTH
 
Posted: 30 Sep 2018, 6:00 pm

On Sept. 11, our thoughts turned to the day 17 years ago when terrorists crashed airliners into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a field in Pennsylvania. The attacks killed more than 3,000 people and injured more than 10,000. It was the deadliest terrorist act in U.S. history and the most devastating foreign attack on American soil since the attack on Pearl Harbor.

In the aftermath, many U.S. citizens held the view that the attacks had “changed the world forever.” The Bush administration announced a war on terrorism, with the goal of bringing Osama bin Laden and al-Qaida to justice and preventing the emergence of other terrorist networks.  This marked a turning point in our country as citizens thought terrorism was something that happened in other countries.  Federal, state, local agencies, private citizens, and the private sector began sharing and collaborating to bring more safety and security to America.

Stadiums and arenas around the country held many concerts after 9/11 and spectator sports returned as well, bringing comfort to the country.  As places of mass gatherings, they were soft targets for the adversary.  However, with the response to harden the infrastructure, develop smart practices, integrate technology and provide training that makes it more difficult to attack our venues, we will continue to stay on the prevention side of the equation.


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MANAGEMENT
 
Posted: 30 Sep 2018, 6:00 pm

MOVE OF THE MONTH
F_P_Nate_Harris.jpgNate Harris joined Spectra at the Virginia State University Multi-Purpose Center in Petersburg as assistant general manager and director of marketing. Harris began his career with Spectra in November 2010 as marketing manager at MassMutual Center in Springfield, Mass. Previously, Harris worked as director of marketing at Mullins Center at UMass Amherst, as senior marketing manager at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, and at Tsongas Center and Lowell (Mass.) Memorial Auditorium.


SMG named Chris Anderson director of facilities at Van Andel Arena, DeVos Place, and DeVos Performance Hall in Grand Rapids, Mich. Anderson has been with SMG since 2003. He first was a maintenance technician and more recently chief engineer. Anderson has nearly 25 years of maintenance experience, beginning his career with Prince Machine and Jefferson Commons before joining SMG.

The Madison Square Garden Co. appointed Richard Constable as executive vice president, global head of government relations and public affairs. In the new position, Constable will serve as chief strategist overseeing all governmental, legislative and public affairs matters for MSG, including its collection of venues, sports teams and entertainment properties. Most recently, he spent three years at the Wyndham Worldwide Corp., where he was senior vice president of government relations and commercial contracts. Before that, he was deputy commissioner of New Jersey’s Department of Labor and Workforce Development.

Global conference manager Kenes chose Smara Iglesia as managing director for Spain. Iglesia has more than 15 years of experience in international conference and exhibition management as well as expertise in business development, logistics and production. She has worked for corporate event production companies as well as national and international professional congress organizers.

National Shows 2 promoted Sarah Madalinski to director of marketing, theaters and digital. Madalinski joined NS2 2 ½ years ago and was previously responsible for the marketing, advertising and promotion for its events at the Charleston (S.C.) Music Hall and Carolina Theatre of Durham, N.C. Madalinski was also marketing director for the U.S. Cellular Center, Paramount Theatre and McGrath Amphitheatre in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

Morsum hired Bob Pascal as executive vice president of sales and marketing. Pascal comes to Morsum from Sodexo’s Centerplate, where he served as chief marketing officer. Pascal has held brand marketing and technology consulting positions in the consumer packaged goods and financial services industries.

FPC Live promoted two talent buyers. Jesse Sherman will add the 600-capacity Majestic Theatre in Madison, Wis., to his booking responsibilities. Pat Kay is now also responsible for booking national acts at 900-capacity venue The Blue Note in Columbia, Mo.

Allen County War Memorial Coliseum in Fort Wayne, Ind., promoted April Workman to director of ticketing. Workman was hired as a ticket seller in 1995 and was promoted to assistant ticket office manager in 1999. Also promoted is Chelsea Scofield to marketing communications coordinator. Previously, Scofield worked as an event coordinator at Cornerstone Center for the Arts in Muncie. Newly hired is Patrick Ventura as ticket office manager. Ventura worked as director of ticketing for the Fort Wayne Wizards/TinCaps from 2004 to 2018.

PASSINGS
Cory Rose, 71, at her home in Clayton, Ohio, on Sept. 5. Rose most recently was the general manager of the Hara Arena complex in Dayton and worked at the complex for a total of 52 years before its closing.

ALSO: Green Room: Golden State Warriors mark topping off of Chase Center.


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OPENING NUMBER
 
Posted: 30 Sep 2018, 6:00 pm

In honor of this month’s cover story subject, country star Kenny Chesney, a quick tour of some numbers from Chesney’s tours dating back to 2002, with an emphasis on his visits to big venues, courtesy of the Chesney camp.

$114,639,060
Highest-grossing tour (The Big Revival, 2015)

2
Number of tours that have grossed more than $100 million (Trip Around the Sun, 2018; The Big Revival, 2015).

4
Number of tours with “sun” in the name (Trip Around the Sun, 2018; Brothers of the Sun, 2012; Sun City Carnival, 2009; Somewhere in the Sun, 2005).

13
Number of tours among the 15 that topped 1 million in attendance.

23
Most stadiums played on one tour (Brothers of the Sun, 2012). Every date was a stadium date.

2007
The year of Flip Flop Summer, the last full tour in which Chesney played fewer than a dozen stadiums.

1,363,704
Highest attendance for a tour (The Big Revival, 2015)


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RANGERS HIRE VAN WAGNER FOR PREMIUM SALES AT NEW BALLPARK
 
Posted: 30 Sep 2018, 6:00 pm

Globe Life Field, shown in a rendering, will open as the new home of Major League Baseball's Texas Rangers in 2020. (HKS)

Major League Baseball’s Texas Rangers share a lot in common with the Atlanta Braves in ballpark development, and those ties now extend to marketing the facility. The Rangers have hired Van Wagner Sports & Entertainment to assist with selling premium seats and founding partners for Globe Life Field in Arlington, the team’s new $1.1 billion stadium opening in 2020.

Van Wagner filled a similar role with the Braves at SunTrust Park, which opened in 2017 with 32 suites and about 4,000 club seats. In Arlington, the agency will help the Rangers sell 81 long-term suites and 3,000 club seats at the new retractable-roof ballpark. For the suites alone, it’s a decrease of more than 40 percent compared with the 126 suites at the Rangers’ current home, Globe Life Park.

“The key is we’re bringing our entire suite of revenue-focused consultation to the Rangers — premium planning and sales, founding partners and physical design,” said Chris Allphin, Van Wagner’s senior vice president of team and venue services.

Evan Gitomer, Van Wagner’s vice president of premium ticketing, is already in Arlington, working closely with the Rangers as they prepare to open a 7,000-square-foot preview center behind the right-field stands at Globe Life Park. The center opens in early October and is a retrofit of the old Hall of Fame Club. It was previously used for pregame hospitality and corporate meetings on days when games weren’t being played, said Joe Januszewski, the team’s executive vice president and chief revenue and marketing officer.

Downstream, teaming with HKS, designed the preview center and Mobile Media Content developed the 3D seating views. Channel 1 of Toronto is responsible for the presentation format. Manhattan Construction, the new ballpark’s general contractor, is building the center, which is on two levels.

The Rangers will staff the preview center and Gitomer will fill the role of general manager, Allphin said. In addition, Kyle Folts, vice president of Van Wagner Sports & Entertainment Insights, Van Wagner’s data analytics group, will be principally involved from the firm’s New York office. Folts worked on SunTrust Park as well as U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, another Van Wagner client.

The Rangers’ current facility opened in 1994, and many MLB parks built during that era featured 100 or more suites. Times have changed, and SunTrust Park and Marlins Park (which opened in 2012) both have fewer than 40 suites. In Dallas-Fort Worth, there are fewer suites at the new park, but there’s still a big appetite for that high-end experience, Januszewski said.

A few years ago, CSL International completed some pricing studies for the new ballpark in conjunction with the stadium’s architect, HKS, and the Rangers’ in-house CRM division. The Rangers also talked with the Braves several times about their premium seat mix before SunTrust Park opened its doors.

“They’re the most obvious comparison,” Januszewski said. “Atlanta is a similar-size market but not as robust for premium because Turner Field [the Braves’ old park] had very few hospitality options. They grew exponentially at the new park, but it’s small compared with what we’ve done historically on the suite side. In our market, though, people realize with the roof they no longer have to get a suite to escape the heat, and that was part of the supply and demand research.”

Globe Life Field’s most exclusive premium product is the dozen Home Plate Field Suites, situated at field level with seven to nine seats. The Cleveland Indians, Anaheim Angels and Arizona Diamondbacks have similar suites at their parks. In Arlington, the Home Plate Field Suites are 40 feet from the catcher, the shortest distance in MLB for premium seats behind home plate, Januszewski said.

The remaining 69 suites are distributed on two upper levels, the Founders and Classic Suite levels, which are about the same distance from the field as the lower suite level at Globe Life Park, he said.

As of late September, the Rangers were still defining suite prices before they start contacting existing customers. Januszewski declined to provide numbers for how much suites cost at their current park. In Atlanta, the 10 closest suites to home plate at SunTrust Park cost $500,000 a season, which includes food and drink.

Most of the premium seats at Globe Life Field will have an all-inclusive component, Januszewski said, which is reflected in the higher cost for the suites in Atlanta. Both teams have Delaware North Sportservice as their concessionaire. Shawn Mattox, Sportservice’s GM in Atlanta, was previously stationed at the Rangers’ park. 

Apart from the suites, the Rangers are building a four-top table product encompassing 320 total seats. They’re situated between the bases and in center field above the batter’s eye. All told, there will be five premium lounges at Globe Life Field, compared with two indoor clubs at the current park.

“It’s going to be interesting,” Januszewski said of the sales process. “We have 33 rows between the bases on the lower level at Globe Life Park. At the new park, there are 16 rows between the bases with the 3,000 premium seats, all tied to long-term contracts and a club experience. Only the suites were long term at our current park.”

He said, “One of the things we’ve had to work through here is people love Globe Life Park. Take a poll. It was fantastically designed and it’s aged very well. Ask those same people how many day games they go to between May and the end of the season. Most say they don’t attend, it’s too hot. Nobody blames them.”


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TALKING POINTS: SEAN SAADEH
 
Posted: 30 Sep 2018, 6:00 pm

Talking_Points_Saadeh-Sean2.jpgWhat did you think you would do when you were a kid? Professional golfer.

First job in the industry: I had multiple positions at San Diego Sports Arena; when I left I was director of booking and marketing.

What is your favorite part of the job? Working with the most amazing teammates across all of Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment.

What is your least favorite part of the job? This job requires me to work long hours and that means time away from my family.

Who are your favorite mentors? Scott O’Neil and Hugh Weber (Harris Blitzer), Ernie Hahn (San Diego Sports Arena).

Favorite book/movie/theater show: No matter how many times I’ve watched it, my go-to movie is “Goodfellas.” I’m currently reading the new Tiger Woods book by Jeff Benedict and Armen Keteyian.

What would people be surprised to learn about you? I was a quarterback in high school and played with two high school All-Americans and one Heisman Trophy winner (Rashaan Salaam).

Best advice you’ve ever received: Curiosity is powerful.

Favorite live event you’ve attended: The 1984 National League Championship, Game 5, Chicago Cubs vs. San Diego Padres at Jack Murphy Stadium, when the Padres won three straight to go to the World Series.

Biggest achievement in your career: Opening Barclays Center was an amazing feat. But being able to come in and lead our entertainment business at Prudential Center has been a great achievement of mine. To be able to see our strong and steady consecutive growth year after year is extremely rewarding.

Best memory of a day on the job: Being able to bring a legendary New Jersey artist like Bruce Springsteen to our building was a dream come true. It was an unbelievable night and one fans and our team will never forget.

 


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GREEN ROOM
 
Posted: 30 Sep 2018, 6:00 pm

Rick_Welts_Beam_Signing_Two.jpg

Golden State Warriors President Rick Welts at Chase Center’s topping-off event Sept. 14.

 

Corso_selfie_in_Orlando.jpeg

Allen Johnson of Orlando Venues, ESPN’s Lee Corso and Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer at the Florida Citrus Sports Team Selection Committee Kickoff Dinner on Sept. 17.

 

Derek_Trucks.jpeg

Derek Trucks with his Live Nation Philadelphia friends.

 

ALSO: Management: Nate Harris joins Spectra at the Virginia State University Multi-Purpose Center.


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A YEAR AFTER ROUTE 91, NEW VIGILANCE AT EVENTS
 
Posted: 30 Sep 2018, 6:00 pm

Las Vegas police investigate a street near the site of the Route 91 Harvest mass shooting last year. (Getty Images)

A year ago, on Oct. 1, Shiva Ghaed, a clinical psychologist from San Diego, was celebrating a friend's birthday at Route 91 Harvest festival in Las Vegas. Shiva was standing in the crowd watching country star Jason Aldean on the right side of the stage, the side closest to the Mandalay Bay Casino & Hotel, when she heard some loud bangs that she thought were fireworks.

Instead, she was hearing the first round of gunfire from a man shooting at festivalgoers from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay.

"It was complete chaos," Shiva said. "People didn't know what was going on, but everyone knew something bad was happening."

Shiva froze, crouched and "watched people getting shot." It was a 2.5-hour ordeal for Shiva; she and her small group made their way to the middle of the venue and hid behind some plastic bins, then behind a collapsed grandstand. She made it inside a small hallway of the Tropicana Hotel, but soon after a group of survivors rushed the hallway, screaming “The gunmen are behind us!” Shiva fled the hotel and hid under a car.

“Please don't shoot me in the head or the neck,” Shiva kept repeating to herself, thinking she was going to get shot any time as she moved from the venue to the hotel hallway to under the car.

"Mostly I remember the fake green grass being covered with blood," she recalled of her time on the festival grounds after the attack, which left 58 attendees dead and more than 850 wounded.

The Route 91 Harvest festival massacre was the second attack on a concert venue in 2017. On May 22, a suicide bomber detonated an improvised explosive device, packed with nuts and bolts to act as shrapnel, just outside of Manchester (England) Arena after an Ariana Grande concert, killing 23.

The conversation around event security, particularly festival security, has intensified since the attacks in Vegas and Manchester.

"One of my project teams was loading in for an event at MGM (hotel in Las Vegas) when the incident took place and they went into lockdown mode," recalled Dan Donovan, vice president of sports and entertainment for T&M Protection Resources. "We were also brought in after the Manchester Arena incident, so our approach had already changed to increase our security posture with our clients regarding perimeter security and law enforcement presence.

“In all of our discussions with various intel agencies, the consistent theme is increasing our security posture through visible presence extending out from our perimeter and close cooperation with local agencies.

“We have added measures to increase our security posture, presence and procedures from knowing more about the individuals inside of our venues and event perimeters, hardening our perimeters, examining delivery procedures and increasing off-duty law enforcement presence." 

Ed Harris is the vice president of operations for BCM Solutions, which runs security for Daytona International Speedway, Miami Speedway and the Okeechobee, Curveball and Firefly festivals. He said that trying to get ahead of new dangers is always a challenge.

"We have to upgrade our vision as new threats are discovered," he said. "Since Vegas, there are better protocols and procedures being put in place."

The Kaaboo festival is in its fourth year at the Del Mar (Calif.) Fairgrounds. Joshua Goodman, a spokesman for the Kaaboo security team, said the Vegas shooting weighed heavily on planning for this year's edition Sept. 14-16.

"Event safety and security is our top priority," said Goodman. "Kaaboo has implemented industry best practices including bag searches, bag size restrictions, and patron screening via metal detection since we started in 2015."

After learning about the event in Las Vegas, Goodman's team has been "continually evaluating our security protocols in the ever-changing event security landscape and will continue to do so."
Goodman said leading up to this year's festival, his team conducted extensive planning sessions with the Del Mar Fairgrounds security team, San Diego County sheriff’s department, the state fire marshal, local fire departments, EMTs and other partners in the community to develop an extensive security and safety plan that included evaluating perimeters and considering new technologies.

Security protocols used to be focused on the venue and people entering the facility, but that focus has been expanded — in both the Manchester and Vegas attacks, the perpetrator was outside the venue. Now, perimeters, nearby buildings and drones are drawing more scrutiny.

"Assessing various risks around our perimeters is part of our planning process." Donovan said. "In urban environments, nearby buildings are always a challenge. Working with local agencies we do focus on the visual presence of law enforcement as our first approach. Adding that presence is the first deterrent."

Harris said festivals are particularly challenging because most take place over several days and encourage guests to camp on-site.

"With security getting stricter, a lot of things the guests bring to use in their camping can be looked at as weapons and are being prohibited," he said. "It's caused some of the fans to be disgruntled and requires guest-service training. Most of the guests are receptive and appreciative and thank us for what we're doing."

Countersurveillance is now the norm with the goal of finding out risks before an attacker strikes. "We scour the internet looking for anything at all that suggests an event may be forthcoming," Harris said. "We look for anything that hints at risk."

Drones continue to be a risk that the live event industry is challenged to address, and it's going to take funds to support identifying the threat, Harris said. 

"Venue operators' hands are generally tied by lack of legislation to deny drones within their perimeters or air space," Donovan said. "Drone operators may be cited if flying within restricted areas, but that isn’t enough. Federal support is necessary."

Harris said he's had drones on his radar for several years now and is looking at "what these things can carry and how they can be utilized. The (Federal Aviation Administration) is working on different types of regulations, but until they come up with policies, I am looking at what venues can do to mitigate the drone risk."

According to Donovan, security costs have swelled, but the two attacks have opened up the eyes of promoters and venue operators. "Previously, budgeting for security was far more challenging. Clients are now more willing to spend the money necessary to keep fans safer than ever before," he said.

It's been a year since the Route 91 mass shooting and there has not been a similar attack. Donovan, Goodman and Harris think increased security, awareness and presence have helped produce that result. 

"Our objective in planning security is to deter known threats," Donovan said. "I believe the industry as a whole is focused on assessing risks to implement measures to deter and deny."
Communication helps. "We are all trying to improve our operations, and sharing lessons learned between different companies, clients, agencies and operators has been very encouraging," Donovan said.

"Post Vegas and Manchester incidents, most venue operators have invested in providing greater safety and security for their staff, talent and guests," he said.

"I am hopeful this trend continues and we all have the resources needed to continue to deter known and unknown risks before another incident takes place."

Said Harris: “Security has evolved and heightened and may be one of the reasons that no incidents have occurred since last October.”

“It has been heartening to see large events across the country taking security seriously, as we do," said Goodman. "The fact is that an incident can occur anywhere, but guests are safer when organizers are prepared."

Festival attendance records from the major festival promoters shows that music fans have not been deterred from attending events since the Route 91 shooting. The hard numbers show that festival attendance has increased every quarter over the past year.

Cindi Reed was covering the Route 91 Harvest festival for the Las Vegas Weekly and was at the event last Oct. 1. She left the site "about an hour before the carnage."

Reed will not let the massacre on the Las Vegas Strip stop her from attending festivals and was planning to go to the Life Is Beautiful festival Sept. 21-23 in downtown Las Vegas with "all eyes open."

"I think festivals are as safe as can be," she said. "It's really a matter of a madman and guns. It's not about any particular venue or genre of music. Next time it will be a mall or an airport. This won't stop until we address the gun culture in America."

Shiva funneled her grief into starting a support group for survivors; that group has had over 300 people in and out of the meetings in the year since "that awful night." In the group, Shiva has seen people grieve, process, grow and mostly "help each other."

But Shiva has not let the events of Oct. 1, 2017, take away the pleasure of attending live events. "I've seen Pink at Staples Center and Evanescence and Chris Stapleton at Sleep Train Arena," she said. "I was all set to go to Stagecoach but got pulled away when I won an award for starting the group."

"The experience was horrific, but beautiful," she said. "I got to see the worst of humanity that night and the best in its aftermath."


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Colleagues Remember Jerry Anderson
 
Posted: 28 Sep 2018, 10:30 am

Jerry Anderson (center) oversaw logistics for dozens of Super Bowls, including Super Bowl XLVII in New Orleans in 2013. (Courtesy Populous)

Jerry Anderson, an architect who became the logistical czar for the world’s biggest sports events, including the Super Bowl, the Final Four, the College Football Playoff championship and the Olympics, died Sept. 23 of brain cancer. He was 64.

Anderson, a founding partner with sports design firm Populous, spearheaded its event division in Denver. It’s a group that has grown to about 50 people traveling the globe to help sports organizations run their events as seamlessly as possible.

As a result, Populous Events has helped shape the experiences of millions of spectators over the years, and it all started with Anderson. He began his career as an architect in Seattle and later worked in San Francisco. It was in the Bay Area that Anderson first began his 33-year relationship with the NFL, starting with Super Bowl XIX in 1985.

The game was held at Stanford Stadium in Palo Alto, a building that opened in 1921. At the time, the facility basically consisted of “two-by-fours and wooden planks on a hill,” according to Jim Steeg, the NFL’s former vice president of special events and point man for the Super Bowl.

“People today don’t understand what some of these old stadiums looked like back then,” said Steeg, now semiretired and living in North Carolina. “There were no lights, and what amounted to shacks for the visiting teams. We had to build a press box and locker rooms to make it halfway accessible for the teams. We hired (Populous co-founder) Ron Labinski to help us out, and it didn’t take long for him to realize he needed a day-to-day guy.”

That guy was Anderson, who had previously worked with Labinski to design renovations to Candlestick Park in San Francisco.

Anderson found his niche. He went on to become the NFL’s expert consultant for planning the Super Bowl. With the exception of the 1986 game, Anderson and his crew worked every Super Bowl that came after, including this year’s game in Minneapolis. His strong reputation led to filling similar roles for the NCAA Final Four and the CFP title game, among other events.

Jerry_Anderson_2012_Oly_Torch_Relay_300_140.jpgJerry Anderson participates in the torch relay for the 2012 Olympics in London. (Courtesy Populous)

Frank Supovitz, who succeeded Steeg at the NFL from 2005 to 2014, says Anderson became a trusted colleague and partner for staging the league’s marquee event, as well as the draft.

In 2005, soon after Supovitz joined the NFL, the league had to make a quick decision. Because of a scheduling conflict with Madison Square Garden, the draft had to be relocated to a small exhibit hall at the Javits Convention Center. It was Anderson who made everything fit at the new venue, Supovitz said.

Over the past five years, the draft has become a logistical monster on its own, traveling to league markets across the country. Two years ago, it drew more than 200,000 fans outdoors in Philadelphia, with Populous Events coordinating all aspects of that event.

“It’s remarkable how much I learned from him about the X’s and O’s of stadium operations and temporary construction for major events, in addition to the politics of diplomacy and people management,” said Supovitz, now president and chief experience officer for Fast Traffic Events & Entertainment, an event consultant.

Anderson consulted with sports facilities and events for more than 15 years before his company, Anderson Consulting Team, merged with HOK Sport (now Populous) in 2002. It was the same year Anderson supervised the design and construction of venues for the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. All told, Anderson helped deliver 13 Olympic Games.

In the early days of the NFL’s international expansion, Steeg recalls one year when the power went out during the old American Bowl, a preseason game at Olympic Stadium in Berlin, leaving the crowd in darkness.

“The lights went out with about five minutes in the first half,” Steeg said. “We called the league office in New York and were talking about whether to call the game. Jerry found a solution, to turn every circuit breaker off and then turn them back on one by one. The lights came back on. Remember, this stadium was built in 1936. Jerry saved the day.”

There were other examples of Anderson’s on-the-spot troubleshooting that saved the NFL from some potentially embarrassing situations, including staging issues tied to multiple Super Bowl halftime performances, Steeg said.

Before Super Bowl XXV in 1991, a hurricane blew through Tampa, Fla., the host city, wrecking much of the temporary infrastructure in place. It came during the time of the Gulf War, when the NFL initially increased security with a secured perimeter around the stadium. Together, Steeg and Anderson cleaned up the wreckage and put things back together for the game.

A decade later, for the first Super Bowl after the 9/11 attacks, Anderson was principally involved in upgrading security measures in New Orleans with barricades and fencing, a system that remains the standard for protecting fans today.

“We went through a lot of things together and he had that ability to execute,” Steeg said. “He could push the envelope. Nobody was satisfied with what we did the year before. It was always how do we make things better.”

Anderson was not a typical architect, said Don Renzulli, who worked with Populous Events at both the NFL and at the NHL for the Winter Classic games at outdoor stadiums. Anderson understood the needs of all the constituents involved, whether it was the leagues, teams or the broadcast networks.

As the Super Bowl continued to grow in size, Anderson still found a way to make it all work through his ability to see the big picture, said Renzulli, now executive vice president for On Location Experiences. The things they learned from planning the Super Bowl could be used across the board for Winter Classic and the Olympics, he said.

“I learned a lot in this business from Jerry in terms of setting an example for how these events should be operated in terms of space and flow,” Renzulli said. “Jerry took me under his wing. He’s a visionary in the world of sports and events.”

The same was true for Michael Kelly, who volunteered at the 1995 Super Bowl and went on to be part of the host committees for three Super Bowls in Florida. Kelly is now athletic director at the University of South Florida.

“The humility and thoughtfulness he brought to clients stood out,” Kelly said. “He was a strategic thinker. It’s a big loss to the sports industry and all the different events.”


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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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HOT TICKETS: SEPT. 27
 
Posted: 26 Sep 2018, 12:00 pm

Alex Turner and Arctic Monkeys, shown in an August performance, played four shows in September at FlyDSA Arena in Sheffield, England. (Getty Images)

Arctic Monkeys returned home to Sheffield, England, and their four-show stand at FlyDSA Arena put them atop our chart for venues with capacities of 10,001 to 15,000. Total attendance was 51,902, and the shows, promoted by SJM, grossed $4.16 million.

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 Aug. 28 – Sept. 25.

More Than 15,000 Capacity

10,001-15,000 Capacity

5,001-10,000
Capacity

5,000 or Less
Capacity

1) Jay-Z, Beyoncé
Gross Sales:
$13,464,062; Venue: Rose Bowl, Pasadena, Calif.; Attendance: 106,550; Ticket Range: $20-$350; Promoter: Live Nation Global Touring; Dates: Sept. 22-23; No. of Shows: 2

2) Ed Sheeran
Gross Sales: $11,220,207; Venue: MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, N.J.; Attendance: 107,500; Ticket Range: $39.50-$125; Promoter: Messina Touring Group, AEG Presents; Dates: Sept. 21-22; No. of Shows: 2

3) Jay-Z, Beyoncé
Gross Sales: $11,056,836; Venue: NRG Stadium @ NRG Park, Houston; Attendance: 80,022; Ticket Range: $20-$290; Promoter: Live Nation Global Touring; Dates: Sept. 15-16; No. of Shows: 2

4) U2
Gross Sales: $9,437,998; Venue: AccorHotels Arena, Paris; Attendance: 72,412; Ticket Range: $40.74-$226.98; Promoter: Live Nation Global Touring; Dates: Sept. 8-13; No. of Shows: 4

5) Jay-Z, Beyoncé
Gross Sales: $6,295,535; Venue: Hard Rock Stadium, Miami Gardens, Fla.; Attendance: 44,310; Ticket Range: $20-$350; Promoter: Live Nation Global Touring; Dates: Aug. 31; No. of Shows: 1

1) Arctic Monkeys
Gross Sales: $4,164,281; Venue: FlyDSA Arena, Sheffield, England; Attendance: 51,902; Ticket Range: $51.30-$90.22; Promoter: SJM; Dates: Sept. 18-22; No. of Shows: 4

2) Metallica
Gross Sales: $1,494,540; Venue: Denny Sanford Premier Center, Sioux Falls, S.D.; Attendance: 11,738; Ticket Range: $65-$135; Promoter: FPC Live; Dates: Sept. 11; No. of Shows: 1

3) Luis Miguel
Gross Sales: $1,087,387; Venue: UTEP Don Haskins Center, El Paso, Texas; Attendance: 6,748; Ticket Range: $39.95-$500; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Sept. 2; No. of Shows: 1

4) A.R. Rahman
Gross Sales: $763,273; Venue: NYCB Live: Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, Uniondale, N.Y.; Attendance: 8,851; Ticket Range: $56-$356; Promoter: I Am Entertainment; Dates: Sept. 1; No. of Shows: 1

5) Kevin Hart
Gross Sales: $703,702; Venue: The SSE Hydro, Glasgow, Scotland; Attendance: 10,303; Ticket Range: $55.81-$98.48; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Aug. 28; No. of Shows: 1

1) Luis Miguel
Gross Sales: $1,204,302; Venue: Bert Ogden Arena, Edinburg, Texas; Attendance: 7,749; Ticket Range: $49.50-$500; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Aug. 31; No. of Shows: 1

2) Queens Of The Stone Age
Gross Sales: $699,572; Venue: Hordern Pavilion, Moore Park, Australia; Attendance: 9,583; Ticket Range: $66.82-$82.38; Promoter: Frontier Touring; Dates: Aug. 31-Sept. 1; No. of Shows: 2

3) Vance Joy
Gross Sales: $598,261; Venue: Hordern Pavilion, Moore Park, Australia; Attendance: 10,760; Ticket Range: $62.29; Promoter: Frontier Touring; Dates: Sept. 13-14; No. of Shows: 2

4) Bad Bunny
Gross Sales: $572,344; Venue: Smart Financial Centre at Sugar Land (Texas); Attendance: 6,353; Ticket Range: $55.50-$145.50; Promoter: Cardenas Marketing Network; Dates: Aug. 30; No. of Shows: 1

5) Laura Pausini
Gross Sales: $549,395; Venue: Radio City Music Hall, New York; Attendance: 5,480; Ticket Range: $59-$199; Promoter: Loud and Live, Zamora Entertainment; Dates: Aug. 31; No. of Shows: 1

1) Joan Baez
Gross Sales: $448,720; Venue: Wang Theatre-Boch Center, Boston; Attendance: 6,505; Ticket Range: $40-$125; Promoter: Great Northeast Productions; Dates: Sept. 14-15; No. of Shows: 2

2) Ringo Starr & His All Starr Band
Gross Sales: $350,283; Venue: Wang Theatre-Boch Center, Boston; Attendance: 3,301; Ticket Range: $75.25-$246.25; Promoter: Elite Entertainment; Dates: Sept. 17; No. of Shows: 1

3) Luis Miguel
Gross Sales: $328,650; Venue: Sandia Casino Amphitheater, Albuquerque; Attendance: 4,195; Ticket Range: $65-$100; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Sept. 4; No. of Shows: 1

4) Luis Miguel
Gross Sales: $281,425; Venue: The Show at Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, Rancho Mirage, Calif.; Attendance: 1,405; Ticket Range: $175-$250; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Sept. 7; No. of Shows: 1

5) Russell Peters
Gross Sales: $218,604; Venue: Chicago Theatre, Chicago; Attendance: 3,553; Ticket Range: $51-$66; Promoter: Outback Concerts; Dates: Sept. 14; No. of Shows: 1

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

 


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Texas Rangers Hire Van Wagner For Sales
 
Posted: 25 Sep 2018, 10:00 am

Globe Life Field, shown in a rendering, will open as the new home of Major League Baseball's Texas Rangers in 2020. (HKS)

Major League Baseball’s Texas Rangers share a lot in common with the Atlanta Braves in ballpark development, and those ties now extend to marketing the facility. The Rangers have hired Van Wagner Sports & Entertainment to assist with selling premium seats and founding partners for Globe Life Field in Arlington, the team’s new $1.1 billion stadium opening in 2020.

Van Wagner filled a similar role with the Braves at SunTrust Park, which opened in 2017 with 32 suites and about 4,000 club seats. In Arlington, the agency will help the Rangers sell 81 long term suites and 3,000 club seats at the new retractable-roof ballpark. For the suites alone, it’s a decrease of more than 40 percent compared with the 126 suites at the Rangers’ current home, Globe Life Park.

“The key is we’re bringing our entire suite of revenue-focused consultation to the Rangers — premium planning and sales, founding partners and physical design,” said Chris Allphin, Van Wagner’s senior vice president of team and venue services.

Evan Gitomer, Van Wagner’s vice president of premium ticketing, is already in Arlington, working closely with the Rangers as they prepare to open a 7,000-square-foot preview center behind the right-field stands at Globe Life Park. The center opens in early October and is a retrofit of the old Hall of Fame Club. It was previously used for pregame hospitality and corporate meetings on days when games weren’t being played, said Joe Januszewski, the team’s executive vice president and chief revenue and marketing officer.

Downstream, teaming with HKS, designed the preview center and Mobile Media Content developed the 3D seating views. Channel 1 of Toronto is responsible for the presentation format. Manhattan Construction, the new ballpark’s general contractor, is building the center, which is on two levels.

The Rangers will staff the preview center and Gitomer will fill the role of general manager, Allphin said. In addition, Kyle Folts, vice president of Van Wagner Sports & Entertainment Insights, Van Wagner’s data analytics group, will be principally involved from the firm’s New York office. Folts worked on SunTrust Park as well as U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, another Van Wagner client.

The Rangers’ current facility opened in 1994, and many MLB parks built during that era featured 100 or more suites. Times have changed, and SunTrust Park and Marlins Park (which opened in 2012) both have fewer than 40 suites. In Dallas-Fort Worth, there are fewer suites at the new park, but there’s still a big appetite for that high-end experience, Januszewski said.

A few years ago, CSL International completed some pricing studies for the new ballpark in conjunction with the stadium’s architect, HKS, and the Rangers’ in-house CRM division. The Rangers also talked with the Braves several times about their premium seat mix before SunTrust Park opened its doors.

“They’re the most obvious comparison,” Januszewski said. “Atlanta is a similar-size market but not as robust for premium because Turner Field [the Braves’ old park] had very few hospitality options. They grew exponentially at the new park, but it’s small compared with what we’ve done historically on the suite side. In our market, though, people realize with the roof they no longer have to get a suite to escape the heat, and that was part of the supply and demand research.”

Globe Life Field’s most exclusive premium product is the dozen Home Plate Field Suites, situated at field level with seven to nine seats. The Cleveland Indians, Anaheim Angels and Arizona Diamondbacks have similar suites at their parks. In Arlington, the Home Plate Field Suites are 40 feet from the catcher, the shortest distance in MLB for premium seats behind home plate, Januszewski said.

The balance of 69 suites, a mix of long-term and nightly rental units, are on two upper suite levels, which are about the same distance from the field as the lower suite level at Globe Life Park, he said.

As of this week, the Rangers were still defining suite prices before they start contacting existing customers. Januszewski declined to provide numbers for how much suites cost at their current park. In Atlanta, the 10 suites closest to home plate at SunTrust Park cost $500,000 a season, which includes food and drink.

Most of the premium seats at Globe Life Field will have an all-inclusive component, Januszewski said, which is reflected in the higher cost for the suites in Atlanta. Both teams have Delaware North Sportservice as their concessionaire. Shawn Mattox, Sportservice’s GM in Atlanta, was previously stationed at the Rangers’ park. 

Apart from the suites, the Rangers are building a four-top table product encompassing 320 total seats. They’re situated between the bases and in center field above the batter’s eye. At SunTrust Park, the 90-plus terrace tables midlevel behind home plate, a similar product, sold out in two months. When the stadium opened last season, those seats cost $130 and $113 a person per game as a season ticket.

All told, there will be five premium lounges at Globe Life Field, compared with two indoor clubs at the current park.

“It’s going to be interesting,” Januszewski said of the sales process. “We have 33 rows between the bases on the lower level at Globe Life Park. At the new park, there are 16 rows between the bases with the 3,000 premium seats, all tied to long-term contracts and a club experience. Only the suites were long term at our current park.”

He said, “One of the things we’ve had to work through here is people love Globe Life Park. Take a poll. It was fantastically designed and it’s aged very well. Ask those same people how many day games they go to between May and the end of the season. Most say they don’t attend, it’s too hot. Nobody blames them.”


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Food Data Firm Adds Pascal
 
Posted: 19 Sep 2018, 6:00 pm

Food service and restaurant data technology company Morsum named Bob Pascal executive vice president of sales and marketing.

Pascal1.jpgBob Pascal.

Pascal comes to Morsum from Sodexo's Centerplate brand. where he was chief marketing officer. Pascal has also held brand marketing and technology consulting positions in the consumer packaged goods and financial services industries.

Pascal has an M.B.A. in marketing and international business from New York University's Stern School of Business and a bachelor of arts degree from Davidson College.

Morsum optimizes and integrates food service front-of-house and back-of-house workstreams to automate decision-making, reducing food waste, labor inefficiencies and consumer friction. Morsum has operations in North and South America, Europe and South Asia.


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First Avenue Stays On Road To Growth
 
Posted: 19 Sep 2018, 3:25 pm

First Avenue in Minneapolis has its Mainroom and side venue, 7th St. Entry, plus four other spaces locally that it has bought or opened. (Getty Images)

When it first opened in November 1987, Minneapolis’s Fine Line Music Café was an upscale venue catering largely to fans of singer-songwriters. But in 1999, the venue began hosting shows booked by the nearby First Avenue, the Twin Cities’ top club venue — in recent years, the bulk of them. So it was little surprise when, late last week, First Avenue announced it would acquire the Fine Line outright. The deal is scheduled to close Oct. 1.

According to First Avenue general manager Nathan Kranz, the sale has been on the table since May. “It’s a natural fit for us, because we’ve been promoting so many concerts there,” he said. This year, First Avenue was on track to present about 80 events at the Fine Line. “They reached out to me over the phone,” he said. “We met in person and pretty much hammered it out over the course of a couple of meetings.”

Kranz promises “a much higher volume of shows [at the Fine Line] now that it’s going to be our operation. When we have a spot, we want it to be open, not just 60 to 70 times a year. It’s a lot easier to take some chances because you’ve got a safety net. We’ll be open to do more shows with local bands, or to take chances on dance nights, or comedy, or whatever.”
   
With a capacity of 759, Fine Line’s midsize room fits snugly into an expanding roster of First Avenue-owned venues in Minneapolis-St. Paul. In addition to the First Avenue Mainroom (capacity 1,550,) and its side venue, the 7th St. Entry (225), the privately owned and operated venue has either bought or opened four additional spaces locally. One, the Depot Tavern, next door to the main club, is a restaurant and bar; the others are music venues. Two are in St. Paul: the Turf Club (350), acquired in 2013, and the Palace Theatre downtown, originally opened in 1917 and refurbished and reopened in 2016 (2,500).

This is remarkable growth at a time when independent venues are being rolled up: In January, Live Nation acquired a majority interest in Madison, Wis.-based Frank Productions, and later The Showbox theater in Seattle, open since 1939, was reportedly in danger of being demolished to make room for apartments, sparking a drive to declare the venue a historical landmark. Just last week, AEG bought Philadelphia’s Electric Factory.
   
As Kranz pointed out, “Live Nation and AEG still do a ton of business in the Twin Cities.” By contrast, he said, “First Avenue is run as a family business. We’re not out to take over the world.”

Yes, but surely First Avenue has been made an offer or two in recent months? First Avenue owner Dayna Frank took a long pause and finally said, as if between parentheses, “Silence,” then laughed.

Frank was joking, of course — not least because she sees more opportunities for growth in the future. “I think we are really well poised to take on more opportunities that come our way,” she said. “We structure our company for growth. We’re thinking toward the future. How do we accommodate more? I think we are really exceptional at operating the best venues in the country. Why wouldn’t we want to do that at every level that we can?”
   
To that end, First Avenue has yet another long-term project in the works: a 10,000-seat outdoor amphitheater on the banks of the Mississippi River, developed in conjunction with an outside developer as well as the city of Minneapolis and its park board, which has been in progress since 2015. “Ideally we’ll be open late 2021, 2022,” Frank said. “It’s designed to serve as a public green space when it’s not being utilized for ticketed events.”
   
The grand opening in 2016 of the Palace Theatre in downtown St. Paul was the culmination of five years’ work. According to Kranz, First Avenue had wanted a larger room. “Halfway to a club, halfway to a theater, that capacity. A lot of shows were skipping the market, because there just wasn’t an adequate-sized [venue].” The solution was a joint effort with the city of St. Paul, which was renovating a Prohibition-era theater downtown, with a 2,500 capacity.

“The bands playing there are bands that have already played for us in Minneapolis,” Kranz noted. In the case of New Order, which played the Palace on Aug. 23, that would be a whopping 35 years ago: The band first headlined the First Avenue Mainroom on June 29, 1983.
   
Such longevity has meant that First Avenue can cash in on its own brand in much the way of New York City’s now-shuttered CBGB’s. In fact, a Lego-block model of the club, manufactured by Brickmania, recently sold out. Frank said they expected to sell 200 of them, “but we sold 20 times more than we were expecting. We thought, ‘If we sell half or 75 percent, at least we’ll cover our costs, and it’ll be a really fun thing that will mean something to people.’ We had no idea what the demand would be.”

For both owner and GM, First Avenue’s legacy isn’t just a matter of business. Kranz bought a First Avenue T-shirt for the first time “when I was in sixth or seventh grade.” For Frank — whose father, Byron Frank, had a longtime stake before assuming ownership in 2004 — the club was practically where she grew up.
   
“I had my first date at First Avenue,” she said. “I had my first kiss at First Avenue. I threw up in public for the first time at First Avenue. It was the coolest place in the world. I love what it means to the city. My dad had a stroke, so I stepped in basically almost to sell it, to figure out where the bodies were buried, and just fell in love with it. It’s not even about staying independent. It’s ‘Who is best equipped to be entrusted with this most cherished possession of the city?’ For now, I think that’s me and my team, absolutely.”


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HOT TICKETS: SEPT. 20
 
Posted: 19 Sep 2018, 1:00 pm

Ed Sheeran took time off from packing stadiums last month to speak at the premiere of the documentary "Songwriter" in Los Angeles. (Getty Images)

Ed Sheeran, no stranger to big numbers this year, added to his stats with an impressive two-night stand at Gillette Stadium near Boston that grossed nearly $10 million. Sheeran pulled in total attendance of 110,238 on a ticket range running from $39.50 up to $119.50. 

Twenty hours by plane (give or take) to the southwest, Pink was filling seats in New Zealand, where she grossed $6.3 million over six nights at Spark Arena in Auckland. Tickets ranged from $66.25 to $132.58, and the shows drew 71,273.

HOT TICKETS is a weekly summary of the top events and ticket sales as reported to VNPulse via Pollstar. Following are the top 20 concerts and events, the top 5 in each capacity category, that took place Aug. 21–Sept. 18.

More Than 15,000 Capacity

10,001-15,000 Capacity

5,001-10,000
Capacity

5,000 or Less
Capacity

1) Ed Sheeran
Gross Sales:
$9,832,549; Venue: Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, Mass.; Attendance: 110,238; Ticket Range: $39.50-$119.50; Promoter: Messina Touring Group, AEG Presents; Dates: Sept. 14-15; No. of Shows: 2

2) Drake
Gross Sales: $8,768,216; Venue: Madison Square Garden Arena, New York City; Attendance: 70,703; Ticket Range: $53.50-$263.50; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Aug. 24-28; No. of Shows: 4

3) Ed Sheeran
Gross Sales: $4,481,289; Venue: Ford Field, Detroit; Attendance: 47,804; Ticket Range: $39.50-$119.50; Promoter: Messina Touring Group, AEG Presents; Dates: Sept. 8; No. of Shows: 1

4) Jeff Lynne’s ELO
Gross Sales: $3,197,264; Venue: Madison Square Garden Arena, New York City; Attendance: 25,593; Ticket Range: $53.50-$219; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Aug. 21-22; No. of Shows: 2

5) Childish Gambino
Gross Sales: $2,557,840; Venue: Madison Square Garden Arena, New York City; Attendance: 27,678; Ticket Range: $43.50-$123.50; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Sept. 14-15; No. of Shows: 2

1) Pink
Gross Sales: $6,322,035; Venue: Spark Arena, Auckland, New Zealand; Attendance: 71,273; Ticket Range: $66.25-$132.58; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Sept. 4-11; No. of Shows: 6

2) Bob Dylan
Gross Sales: $564,345; Venue: Spark Arena, Auckland, New Zealand; Attendance: 6,003; Ticket Range: $74.30-$142.47; Promoter: Chugg Entertainment; Dates: Aug. 26; No. of Shows: 1

3) Westernhagen
Gross Sales: $411,528; Venue: Konig-Pilsener Arena, Oberhausen, Germany; Attendance: 5,318; Ticket Range: $32.37-$96.01; Promoter: Semmel Concerts Entertainment; Dates: Aug. 29; No. of Shows: 1

4) Trevor Noah
Gross Sales: $372,884; Venue: RAC Arena, Perth, Australia; Attendance: 6,286; Ticket Range: $60.07-$82.34; Promoter: Adrian Bohm Presents; Dates: Aug. 25; No. of Shows: 1

5) Queens of the Stone Age
Gross Sales: $311,742; Venue: RAC Arena, Perth, Australia; Attendance: 4,460; Ticket Range: $66.59-$83.23; Promoter: Frontier Touring; Dates: Sept. 12; No. of Shows: 1

1) Jennifer Lopez
Gross Sales: $2,576,956; Venue: Zappos Theater At Planet Hollywood, Las Vegas; Attendance: 12,419; Ticket Range: $54-$412; Promoter: Caesars Entertainment, Live Nation, Red Mercury Entertainment, Fuse; Dates: Sept. 12-15; No. of Shows: 3

2 A.R. Rahman
Gross Sales: $1,363,536; Venue: Curtis Culwell Center, Garland, Texas; Attendance: 6,624; Ticket Range: $59-$2,499; Promoter: AZ, Hiba Entertainment, Tasacom & Molabs Media, Suleman Bhimani Presents; Dates: Sept. 8; No. of Shows: 1

3) Keith Urban
Gross Sales: $1,304,865; Venue: Mohegan Sun Arena, Uncasville, Conn.; Attendance: 13,117; Ticket Range: $65-$105; Promoter: In-house Promotion, Live Nation; Dates: Sept. 7-8; No. of Shows: 2

4) Trevor Noah
Gross Sales: $777,312; Venue: ICC Sydney, Sydney; Attendance: 13,587; Ticket Range: $59.32-$81.60; Promoter: Adrian Bohm Presents; Dates: Aug. 29-30; No. of Shows: 2

5) Chayanne
Gross Sales: $677,367; Venue: Hulu Theater At Madison Square Garden, New York City; Attendance: 5,134; Ticket Range: $71.50-$191.50; Promoter: Cardenas Marketing Network; Dates: Sept. 7; No. of Shows: 1

1) “Springsteen On Broadway,” Bruce Springsteen
Gross Sales: $1,932,670; Venue: Walter Kerr Theatre, New York City; Attendance: 3,792; Ticket Range: $75-$850; Promoter: Thrill Hill Productions; Dates: Sept. 4-7; No. of Shows: 4

2) “Springsteen On Broadway,” Bruce Springsteen
Gross Sales: $1,930,020; Venue: Walter Kerr Theatre, New York City; Attendance: 3,792; Ticket Range: $75-$850; Promoter: Thrill Hill Productions; Dates: Aug. 28-31; No. of Shows: 4

3) Disney Junior Dance Party
Gross Sales: $363,703; Venue: Beacon Theatre, New York City; Attendance: 7,171; Ticket Range: $50-$185; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Sept. 15-16; No. of Shows: 3

4) Ian Anderson
Gross Sales: $317,310; Venue: Beacon Theatre, New York City; Attendance: 2,788; Ticket Range: $99-$166; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Sept. 11; No. of Shows: 1

5) Pimpinela
Gross Sales: $218,905; Venue: Beacon Theatre, New York City; Attendance: 2,220; Ticket Range: $76-$226; Promoter: NYK Productions; Dates: Aug. 24; No. of Shows: 1

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

 


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Orlando Wins Monster Jam World Finals
 
Posted: 19 Sep 2018, 11:00 am

At the Sept. 5 announcement that Monster Jam World Finals XX would take place at Camping World Stadium in Orlando are Allen Johnson, Orlando Venues; City Commissioner Regina Hill; Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer; Monster Jam driver Candice Jolly; Kenneth Feld, chairman and CEO, Feld Entertainment; driver Bari Musawwir; Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs; Orange County Commissioner Victoria Siplin; Seminole County Commissioner Lee Constantine; Jason Siegel, Central Florida Sports Commission; and drivers Ryan and Adam Anderson. (Courtesy Feld Entertainment)

ELLENTON, Fla. — For the first time in its history, Feld Entertainment has put one of its marquee events, Monster Jam World Finals, out to bid and selected Orlando as host for 2019 and 2020. The process is already underway to accept bids for the next five years (2021-25) of World Finals, said Feld Entertainment’s Jeff Meyer, senior vice president of marketing and sales. The 2019 World Finals May 10-11 at Camping World Stadium will be the 20th anniversary of the event.

The decision to move to a bid process for the World Finals was predicated on the popularity of the event, its unprecedented growth since Feld Entertainment bought Live Nation Motorsports in 2008 (the 10th anniversary of that event will be showcased in the November VenuesNow magazine), and its proven economic impact.

Monster Jam World Finals had traditionally been in Las Vegas at Sam Boyd Stadium. During a Monster Jam season kickoff event Tuesday night here at Feld Entertainment Studios, it was also announced that Monster Jam will introduce its first All-Star Challenge, which will be held at Sam Boyd Stadium, so that venue and those local fans will see Monster Jam twice in the 2020 season. Whether the All-Star Challenge will be one of those marquee events put out to bid in the future is to be determined.

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Juliette Feld addresses uber fans and media at the season kickoff. (VenuesNow)

The All Star Challenge will be held Oct. 11-12. There will be 24 competitors and two teams, and fan votes will determine the winner. Feld Entertainment’s Juliette Feld also promised there will be a new track layout.

Monster Jam World Finals XX will come complete with lots of ancillary events for the expected influx of fans and tourists. Plans are still being laid out, but there is talk of hosting a awards ceremony off site at CityWalk at Universal Studios, for instance, Meyer said.  While the event is set for May 10-11, they are also in the market May 9.

One of the most appealing aspects of Orlando’s bid to host the Monster Jam World Finals for those on the production and performance side of Feld Entertainment was the ability to bring the trucks into the stadium from the top of the seating bowl. To that end, seats in one end zone will be removed and a dirt ramp installed to allow the dramatic effect of Monster Trucks barreling down onto the stadium floor.

Meyer said that when Feld Entertainment opted to put Monster Jam World Finals XX out to bid, they reached out to the top 15 markets for bids. He also gave early heads ups to several stadium managers, including members of the Gridiron Network, letting them know that “we will create an opportunity to bid on certain marquee events.”

The entire central Florida region, from city and county leaders to the Central Florida Sports Commission, were involved in securing Monster Jam World Finals XX for Orlando.

Out of the gate, the gross potential is double the 2018 number in Las Vegas simply because Camping World Stadium has twice the number of available seats at 50,000.

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In attendance at the Monster Jam season preview at Feld Entertainment Studios in Ellenton, Fla., are Kirk Wingerson and Craig Borkon, Orlando Venues; Angie Richison, director of marketing, Feld Entertainment; and Kevin Brown, Orlando Venues. (Linda Deckard/VenuesNow)

Meyer was also pleased to see the considerable fan support already. Registration for presales went up on Ticketmaster through its Verified Fan program and 2,200 transactions were recorded, representing about 8,000 tickets on hold, in eight days. Presale to preferred customers starts Oct. 16, and on sale to the public starts Nov. 1.

Orlando will benefit from the intense promotional efforts, including at every Feld Motor Sports event, touting Monster Jam World Finals XX in Orlando, he said. Jason Seigel of the Central Florida Sports Commission noted it has been proved that fans attending a marquee event like this stay an average of an additional 1.5 nights in Orlando because of all the attractions in the area.

Monster Jam World Finals XX will feature all-new competition formats, including the elevated starting line above the seats and seven championship crowning moments. Access to Monster Jam athletes and the trucks they drive will be enchanced even beyond the established Pit Party.

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Drivers and hosts line up for the Monster Jam season debut announcements, livestreamed from Feld Entertainment Studios in Ellenton, Fla. Feld is emphasizing the athletes and the sporting competition inherent in Monster Jam contests. (VenuesNow)

Camping World Stadium is owned and operated by the city of Orlando. Since opening in 1936 as a Works Progress Administration project by President Franklin D. Roosevelt at a cost of $115,000 and a capacity of 8,900, the stadium has undergone numerous expansions and name changes over the years. The historic venue underwent a massive $207.7 million reconstruction in 2014, which yielded 90 percent all-new construction and a completely modernized stadium.

The city and its partners at Florida Citrus Sports expect that reconstruction to generate a $300 million annual economic impact.


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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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UCLA Near Pauley Deal
 
Posted: 18 Sep 2018, 4:00 pm

The proposed deal is valued at $38 million over 10 years and includes other assets on the UCLA campus, sources said. (Getty Images)

UCLA is close to signing a comprehensive deal with Wescom Credit Union that includes a presenting sponsorship of Pauley Pavilion, the Pacific-12 Conference school’s basketball arena.

The proposed deal, which sources said could be signed by the end of this week, is valued at $38 million over 10 years, which places it among the most lucrative for a college arena tied to a corporate name. The official name will be Edwin W. Pauley Pavilion Presented by Wescom.

The school has always committed to keeping the Pauley name intact, sources said. The arena opened in 1965, and the teams of hall of fame coach John Wooden won seven consecutive NCAA titles and 10 in 12 seasons between 1964 and 1975.

Pauley Pavilion was named for oil tycoon and UCLA graduate Edwin W. Pauley. He donated $1 million to help build the arena and served on the school’s board of regents for more than 30 years. Fifteen years ago, the basketball court was named Wooden and his wife, Nell. The arena is also home to volleyball and women’s gymnastics.

The new deal expands Wescom’s presence on campus. In 2015, the Pasadena company signed a five-year contract with UCLA to be the official financial institution of UCLA athletics and Rose Bowl Stadium, home of UCLA football. Under terms of that agreement, Wescom is presenting sponsor for select home football and men’s basketball games, plus The Den, the school’s official student group.

The new agreement extends Wescom’s activation to include a branch office, a rebranded space in the student union and ATMs on campus, sources said. In addition, the credit union will expand its financial literacy courses at UCLA to cover students and alumni.

Additional activation at Rose Bowl Stadium is part of the new deal, although it’s unclear how that piece will take shape. Three years ago, a connector road leading to the historic facility was renamed “Wescom Way,” according to a news release detailing the existing agreement.

IMG College, which holds UCLA’s multimedia rights for athletics and negotiated the previous Wescom deal, declined to comment through company spokesman Mike Scanlan.

Wescom, founded in 1934, has 200,000 members and more than $3 billion in assets.

For UCLA, the deal closes the loop in finding a partner to at least partly rebrand Pauley Pavilion. Eight years ago, the 13,800-seat arena underwent a $136 million renovation. In 2012, the school hired Entertainment Management Group to help sell naming rights for the arena, but a deal was never signed.

Wescom’s deal is a great one for UCLA, said Chris Allphin, a naming-rights consultant with Van Wagner Sports & Entertainment based in Southern California. Pauley Pavilion is a venue busy with activities beyond sports and sits in the middle of campus, providing the perfect platform for the credit union to reach most students, Allphin said.

UCLA’s strong tradition in college basketball boosts the overall value for the school, which will escalate as the Bruins improve on the court, he said.

“If they did it right [with arena branding], the Wescom logo will be pulled up on game broadcasts, providing it with a national footprint,” Allphin said.

Wescom’s deal for Pauley Pavilion follows the agreement rival school USC signed with United Airlines to rebrand the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in 2019. The terms of that deal are $69 million over 16 years, representing the largest naming rights deal in the college space.


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K.C. At The Bat Again For Concerts
 
Posted: 18 Sep 2018, 12:00 pm

Summer Jam on June 18, 1976, at Kauffman Stadium, then Royals Stadium, featured Fleetwood Mac, Kansas, REO Speedwagon and Heart. (Courtesy Kansas City Royals)

Billy Joel’s performance at Kauffman Stadium on Friday, the ballpark’s first stand-alone concert in 39 years, is a sellout, and a crowd of 40,000 is expected, according to Kansas City Royals officials.

It’s been a long time coming for the team’s administration, which hopes to book more concerts beyond those used as game promotions, said Kevin Uhlich, senior vice president of business operations for Major League Baseball’s Royals.

Standalone concerts are exempt from MLB's revenue sharing formula, allowing teams to keep 100 percent of the income on their end of the deals they sign with promoters.

“I’ve been here for 12 years and it’s been on our radar since that time,” Uhlich said. “We’ve tried in the past, but with our home schedule, which can be tight to squeeze in with the routing, it hasn’t worked out for us until now.”

Eighteen months ago, the Royals signed a deal with Oak View Group (also the owner of VenuesNow), to help find the right windows for booking concerts. Live Nation is the promoter for Billy Joel, and terms of the agreement call for all three entities to share in event revenue, which includes parking and concessions, Uhlich said.

Friday's concert will be Billy Joel’s first performance at Kauffman Stadium.

Ticket prices run from $49 to $149.50. Season-ticket holders and suite holders had first right to buy tickets, and 51 percent took advantage of the presale offer, said Mike Bucek, the Royals’ vice president of marketing and business development. The Royals sold all 28 suites for the concert at a cost of roughly $3,800, which covers the cost of 20 tickets, Bucek said. Food and drink is a separate fee.

The stage will be placed in deep center field with a few thousand seats on the field, similar to the setup for Billy Joel concerts at Fenway Park, Wrigley Field, Citizens Bank Park and Target Field.

On-field concerts remain a concern for MLB groundskeepers because of the wear and tear on grass surfaces, and the Royals are no exception. As part of its due diligence, the team sent a group to Busch Stadium in St. Louis last year to see Billy Joel perform at the Cardinals’ ballpark. It included Trevor Vance, the Royals’ senior director of groundskeeping and landscaping for 25 years, whose mentor was legendary Kansas City groundskeeper George Toma. 

The same lightweight staging system used at Busch, which is produced by G2 Structures, will be set up at Kauffman, confirmed Jim Brammer, G2’s co-owner. The product, a hybrid of aluminum and steel, is easier for crews to install and tear down and reduces stress on grass fields. Billy Joel was the first artist to use it, and the Royals are confident that the field will bounce back for their four remaining home games Sept. 27-30 against Cleveland, Uhlich said.

For the concert, the parking lots around Kauffman Stadium open at 1 p.m. Saturday. Gates open at 6 and the show starts at 8.

The Royals will team with their food provider, Aramark, to add portable restrooms and concession outlets on the field. Aramark recently signed a five-year extension to remain the team’s concessionaire.

The ballpark, which opened in 1973 with an artificial turf playing surface (the Royals switched to natural grass in 1995), was a busy concert venue in its early days. It played host to 14 concerts over its first seven years of operation, according to a list compiled by Curt Nelson, director of the Royals Hall of Fame.

The first show was the band Chicago on May 11, 1973, one month after the ballpark first opened. Over the next six years, Three Dog Night, the Allman Brothers Band, Fleetwood Mac and Peter Frampton were among those headlining Royals Stadium. (The building was renamed in 1993 for Ewing Kauffman, the team’s original owner.)

In addition, the Kool Jazz Festival played the stadium multiple times in the 1970s, showcasing Ray Charles, B.B. King and Aretha Franklin, among others. The 1979 Summer Jam, which took place Sept. 1 of that year and featured REO Speedwagon, Santana, Little River Band and Pat Travers, was the ballpark’s most recent stand-alone show before this weekend.

Next door, Arrowhead Stadium, home of the NFL’s Chiefs, has booked at least one show a year since 2011, according to Pollstar reports, including six stops by Kenny Chesney.


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With Hire, OVG Eyes Convention Halls
 
Posted: 18 Sep 2018, 11:00 am

At Oak View Group Facilities' Philadelphia headquarters (from left): Marissa Dionne, senior director of marketing; Tom Paquette, senior vice president; Monique Brycki, senior director of development for facilities; Hank Abate, president; Peter Luukko, chairman; Shura Garnett, senior vice president of convention centers; Doug Higgons, senior vice president; and Ike Richman, communications consultant. (Oak View Group Facilities)

Oak View Group Facilities has opened a convention center division and named Shura Garnett senior vice president of convention centers. 

Expansion is the goal. She will also oversee OVG Facilities’ current convention center account, Two Rivers Convention Center in Grand Junction, Colo. She will report to OVG Facilities President Hank Abate, who is based in Philadelphia.

OVG Facilities is a division of Oak View Group, which also owns VenuesNow.

Garnett will continue to reside in St. Charles, Mo., where she last worked for Spectra as a regional vice president and oversaw the St. Charles Convention Center. Garnett is also a VenuesNow Woman of Influence, Class of 2008.

Her days are full of researching convention center management contract expiration dates and new construction, looking for opportunities for OVG Facilities. She is personally precluded from soliciting existing accounts and existing employees of Spectra through October 2019 per her non-compete with that firm.

Peter Luukko, chairman of OVG Facilities, told VenuesNow that he sees a lot of potential in convention center management, particularly with a firm like OVG that is willing to invest in venues.

“I have had the pleasure of working with Shura over the past 20 years, and I know firsthand the impact she will make on our convention center business,” Luukko said in a statement.

Garnett, who left Spectra three months ago, is excited about the potential for expansion at OVG Facilities. She has over 25 years of experience in the venue industry, including her most recent stint in St. Charles, where she served as divisional senior vice president overseeing the company’s 5.2 million square feet of convention center space, and Midwest region of facilities, including Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines, Iowa, and Chaifetz Arena on the campus of Saint Louis University.

Garnett started her career as an events manager at the Amarillo (Texas) Civic Center and then became director and CEO of the Midland (Texas) Convention Center and vice president of visitor development for the Midland Chamber of Commerce.

She admits that “nothing gets the adrenaline going like producing a show,” and misses that aspect of the business in convention center management. But the St. Charles Convention Center was so successful that there was little room for events, though convention centers today are hot properties for electronic dance music concerts and esports, as she is well aware.

Garnett previously served as a board member of the Trade Show Executives Exposition Forecasting Board and the Center for Exhibition Industry Research Foundation.

Formerly, Garnett was on the board of directors for the St. Charles Chamber of Commerce and  elected to the Texas Department of Economic Development’s Tourism Advisory Committee.

An active member of the International Association of Venues Managers, her contributions there included serving on the Diversity and Inclusion Committee and, previously, as chairman of the IAVM Convention Center Committee, member of the Industry Affairs Committee, member of the board of governors, chair of the Board of Education, and chair of the Diversification Committee. She was then elected first vice president of IAVM and worked her way through the chairs to become the chairman of the board.

She is a member of ASAE, IAEE, IAVM, MPI and PCMA. Honors include the 2008 St. Charles Zonta Yellow Rose Award,  the 2005 IAVM Presidential Citation and IAVM's prestigious Charles A. McElravy Award in 2014.

Oak View Group was founded by Irving Azoff, Tim Leiweke, with Madison Square Garden Entertainment and supported by Silverlake. OVG Facilities is a full-service venue management company that creates customized management plans for each of their venues. The Group currently manages arenas, theaters, convention centers and amphitheaters all over the U.S. and specializes in event programming, venue assessments, and security and emergency preparedness.


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Florence Scrambles Southeast Schedule
 
Posted: 13 Sep 2018, 9:00 am

As Hurricane Florence bears down on the Southeast coast, it’s wreaking havoc with local promoters and concerts as the large and powerful storm heads for the Carolinas.

The center of the hurricane is expected to come ashore Friday somewhere near the North Carolina-South Carolina border, but wind gusts above 50 mph are already beginning to whip up on the North Carolina coast, according to updates Thursday morning from the National Hurricane Center.

The forecast for the hurricane’s path has changed during the last several days, making the decision on whether to call off events trickier for organizers, and a recent turn toward South Carolina has increased the number of inland areas there that could see substantial rain and wind. The storm is also expected to move slowly, increasing the chances for flooding.

Even now, as the storm approaches land, nearly all of the Carolinas have some chance of seeing strong winds and heavy rains from the storm, and postponements and cancellations began to pile up across the region earlier in the week.

J. Cole’s Dreamville Festival, which was scheduled to start Thursday at Dix Park in his hometown of Raleigh, N.C., was canceled “due to safety concerns,” according to organizers. Big Sean, SZA, Young Thug and Nelly were among those scheduled to perform.

Meanwhile, country music legend Alan Jackson called off his concert at the Spectrum Center in Charlotte, N.C., “in consideration of fans’ safety and that of the touring crew and venue staff,” while Jason Aldean called off his Thursday show at Cincinnati’s Riverbend Music Center due to heavy rainfall in the Midwest predicted from the hurricane.

Comedian Steven Wright’s performance scheduled for Saturday at the McGlohon Theater in Charlotte, as well as the two-day Soul Junction Music Festival, slated for the city’s historic West End this weekend, were also postponed.

Among other events called off because of Florence:

• The Live Nation-promoted Zac Brown Band shows, scheduled for Thursday night at Charlotte’s PNC Music Pavilion, Friday at Coastal Credit Union Music Park at Walnut Creek in Raleigh, and Saturday at Veterans United Home Loans Amphitheater at Virginia Beach.  Local reports said that those shows would not be rescheduled and that refunds would be made available.

• Live Nation postponed a “4U: A Symphonic Celebration of Prince” show booked for Thursday at Red Hat Amphitheater in Raleigh.

• A Five for Fighting concert at McGlohon in Charlotte on Saturday was canceled.

• Comic Bill Burrs postponed a performance at Chrysler Hall in Norfolk, Va., from Friday to Sept. 21.

In addition to concerts, several major college football games have been postponed or moved.

Both major concert promoters, Live Nation and AEG, should be carrying “event cancelation” insurance, according to Paul Bassman, a former manager of bands like Drowning Pool and Flickerstick, who left the music business to found the Texas-based Ascend Insurance Brokerage, which has provided similar policies for major festivals such as Pitchfork, Kaaboo, Bottlerock and Life Is Beautiful, among others.

“This indemnifies the promoters for any money lost through adverse weather that makes it unsafe to hold the event,” he explains, of the policy with a premium between “1 and 1.25%” of the overall budget to put the event on, including refunds to ticketholders and a reimbursement of out-of-pocket expenses.  There’s a cheaper policy just to insure the expenses being incurred for a postponed or canceled event.

A Live Nation spokesperson commented that the company is dealing with the shows “on a case-by-case basis,” adding, “Most of the time , the individual bands will issue reports of cancellations.”


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HOT TICKETS: SEPT. 13, 2018
 
Posted: 12 Sep 2018, 7:00 pm

Keith Urban performed at Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo. (Jason Squires)

Country star Keith Urban landed two spots on our Hot Tickets charts this week. His stop at The Wharf Amphitheater in Orange Beach, Ala., topped our 10,001-15,000-capacity chart. That show grossed $514,226, with attendance of 8,614 and a ticket range of $20-$92.75. Urban's show at Tuscaloosa (Ala.) Amphitheater made its way into the fifth spot on our 5,000-10,000-capacity chart. That show grossed $384,898, with attendance of 5,954; and a ticket range of $22.50-$94.50. Red Mountain Entertainment promoted both shows.

Proving international shows are gaining steam, two of them grabbed the top spots on charts this week. Laura Pausini ranked No. 1 on the 5,000-10,000-capacity chart with two shows at Citibank Hall in Sao Paulo. Together, Pausini's shows grossed $642,674, with combined attendance of 7,942 and a ticket range of $16.03-$187.05. The promoter was T4F – Time For Fun.

Paul Weller took the top spot for buildings with a capacity of 5,000 or less with a single show at the York (England) Barbican. That show grossed $92,021, with attendance of 1,827. Tickets were $52.52. The promoter was Triple A Entertainment Group.

HOT TICKETS is a weekly summary of the top events and ticket sales as reported to VNPulse via Pollstar. Following are the top 20 concerts and events, the top 5 in each capacity category, that took place Aug. 14-Sept. 11.

More Than 15,000 Capacity

10,001-15,000 Capacity

5,001-10,000
Capacity

5,000 or Less
Capacity

1) Jay-Z, Beyoncé
Gross Sales:
$4,262,075; Venue: New Era Field, Orchard Park, N.Y.; Attendance: 38,053; Ticket Range: $20-$320; Promoter: Live Nation Global Touring; Dates: Aug. 18; No. of Shows: 1

2) Ed Sheeran
Gross Sales: $4,199,073; Venue: AT&T Park, San Francisco; Attendance: 38,647; Ticket Range: $44.75-$130.25; Promoter: Messina Touring Group, AEG Presents; Dates: Aug. 21; No. of Shows: 1

3) Jay-Z, Beyoncé
Gross Sales: $3,920,225; Venue: Williams–Brice Stadium, Columbia, S.C.; Attendance: 38,057; Ticket Range: $20-$320; Promoter: Live Nation Global Touring; Dates: Aug. 21; No. of Shows: 1

4) Justin Timberlake
Gross Sales: $3,438,997; Venue: GelreDome, Arnhem, Netherlands; Attendance: 34,497; Ticket Range: $52.69-$146.36; Promoter: Live Nation Global Touring; Dates: Aug. 24; No. of Shows: 1

5) Jay-Z, Beyoncé
Gross Sales: $3,142,159; Venue: Ohio Stadium, Columbus; Attendance: 35,083; Ticket Range: $20-$320; Promoter: Live Nation Global Touring; Dates: Aug. 16; No. of Shows: 1

1) Keith Urban
Gross Sales: $514,226; Venue: The Wharf Amphitheater, Orange Beach, Ala.; Attendance: 8,614; Ticket Range: $20-$92.75; Promoter: Red Mountain Entertainment; Dates: Aug. 25; No. of Shows: 1

2) Queens of the Stone Age
Gross Sales: $408,771; Venue: Spark Arena, Auckland, New Zealand; Attendance: 6,663; Ticket Range: $61.35; Promoter: Frontier Touring; Dates: Aug. 23; No. of Shows: 1

3) Sascha Grammel
Gross Sales: $180,766; Venue: Konig-Pilsener Arena, Oberhausen, Germany; Attendance: 5,229; Ticket Range: $27.98-$44.08; Promoter: STEP Gmbh; Dates: Sept. 5; No. of Shows: 1

4) Tracii Guns’ League of Gentlemen
Gross Sales: $63,027; Venue: The SSE Arena, Belfast; Attendance: 1,307; Ticket Range: $39.39-$50.55; Promoter: MCD Productions; Dates: Aug. 18; No. of Shows: 1

5) Thuggdork Comedy All Stars
Gross Sales: $6,650; Venue: Stockton (Calif.) Arena; Attendance: 380; Ticket Range: $17.50; Promoter: In-house Promotion; Dates: Aug. 25; No. of Shows: 1

1) Laura Pausini
Gross Sales: $642,674; Venue: Citibank Hall, Sao Paulo; Attendance: 7,942; Ticket Range: $16.03-$187.05; Promoter: T4F – Time For Fun; Dates: Aug. 20-21; No. of Shows: 2

2) Roberto Carlos
Gross Sales: $492,515; Venue: Citibank Hall, Sao Paulo; Attendance: 7,097; Ticket Range: $12.83-$149.64; Promoter: T4F – Time For Fun; Dates: Aug. 24-25; No. of Shows: 2

3) Sugarland
Gross Sales: $484,097; Venue: Mohegan Sun Arena, Uncasville, Conn.; Attendance: 6,034; Ticket Range: $50.50-$90.50; Promoter: In-House, Live Nation; Dates: Aug. 30; No. of Shows: 1

4) Fall Out Boy
Gross Sales: $482,239; Venue: Mohegan Sun Arena, Uncasville, Conn.; Attendance: 6,623; Ticket Range: $39.50-$79.50; Promoter: In-House, Live Nation; Dates: Aug. 31; No. of Shows: 1

5) Keith Urban
Gross Sales: $384,898; Venue: Tuscaloosa (Ala.) Amphitheater; Attendance: 5,954; Ticket Range: $22.50-$94.50; Promoter: Red Mountain Entertainment; Dates: Aug. 26; No. of Shows: 1

1) Paul Weller
Gross Sales: $92,021; Venue: York (England) Barbican; Attendance: 1,827; Ticket Range: $52.52; Promoter: Triple A Entertainment Group; Dates: Aug. 23; No. of Shows: 1

2) Raca Negra
Gross Sales: $71,778; Venue: KM de Vantagens Hall, Belo Horizonte, Brazil; Attendance: 2,909; Ticket Range: $6.41-$53.44; Promoter: T4F – Time For Fun; Dates: Aug. 25; No. of Shows: 1

3) Tracii Guns’ League of Gentlemen
Gross Sales: $53,265; Venue: York (England) Barbican; Attendance: 1,151; Ticket Range: $45.96; Promoter: Phil McIntyre Entertainments; Dates: Aug. 22; No. of Shows: 1

4) The Used
Gross Sales: $46,750; Venue: O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire, London; Attendance: 1,424; Ticket Range: $32.83-$33.84; Promoter: Kilimanjaro Live; Dates: Aug. 31; No. of Shows: 1

5) Todd Rundgren
Gross Sales: $44,655; Venue: Capitol Theatre, Clearwater, Fla.; Attendance: 701; Ticket Range: $39-$65; Promoter: Ruth Eckerd Hall Presents; Dates: Aug. 18; No. of Shows: 1

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

 


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Survey: More Security, More Ticket Sales
 
Posted: 12 Sep 2018, 5:00 pm

Among respondents in a new survey, 12 percent said they had bought tickets on the secondary market that turned out to be fakes. (VenuesNow staff)

Concertgoers said they would attend more events if buying tickets online felt more secure, according to a new study.

Results of the online survey, being released Thursday, show 72 percent of the survey-takers said they'd go to more concerts if they felt online ticketing were safer. The survey also found that 12 percent of respondents said they had bought tickets on the secondary market that turned out to be fraudulent.

It's usually at a venue that the consumer finds out tickets are no good and that creates headaches for the venue operators, said Annika Monari, co-founder of Aventus, a blockchain-based software firm that started in April 2016. 

Aventus put the survey together and, using Amazon's Mechanical Turk service, queried 1,000 U.S. consumers who have bought a concert ticket online. The margin of error for the survey results is plus or minus 3 percent.

"Often the venue will try to accommodate the guest, but that's just not possible in every case, and often the customer blames the venue for something that is totally out of their control," Monari said. "Many get back their money if they bought the ticket through a reputable secondary ticket firm, but that's no consolation for not seeing your favorite artist or helps in getting back the expenses incurred to get to the venue."

And it's not just the venues that wind up with a black eye. Of respondents who fell victim to a scam, 54 percent said it affected their perception of the artist negatively.

Blockchain may hold the key to solving this consumer crisis.

"Blockchain is a smart-contract platform that allows us to create digitally enforceable agreements," Monari said. "The agreements cannot be controlled by any one entity."

In the context of ticketing, it means that the industry can allow people to put their inventory on the blockchain and that the inventory is then secure and can't be manipulated, she said. "Everyone can see the chain," Monari said. "It's a public record of every transaction. Blockchain is the plumbing that connects the supply chain underneath."

Aventus' customers are ticket companies, venues and artists.

"Blockchain is tool that should alleviate ticket-buyers' fears that they are being scammed," said Aventus' other co-founder, Alan Vey. "Because of the unique way that blockchain records a ticket, it cannot be reproduced in any way except for when the blockchain sends that unique code to a specified digital wallet."

The survey results indicated that men are more likely than women to be conned when buying tickets. The study found that men were nearly 2.5 times more likely to be scammed than women.

"There are many reasons why this might be the case," Monari said. "It could be because men are socialized to be risk-takers more than women are and that men are much more likely to purchase tickets from scalpers. It could also be because we usually only know about the person buying the ticket, not the people going with them. If a man buys tickets for himself and his wife or a date, we only know about the man yet they've both been stung."

Because of bots buying large swaths of tickets almost the minute tickets go on sale, the survey results showed that 77 percent of respondents felt the need to purchase tickets immediately upon their release; 57 percent have waited online, ready to buy tickets as soon as they become available.

Of those who have waited online, 69 percent were still unable to purchase their tickets before the event sold out. After missing out on the original tickets, wannabe attendees are left to purchase tickets on a secondary marketplace, where they can face high markups and potential scams. Or, they will turn to scalpers, a low-tech solution that remains popular even with a more high-tech generations: Nearly 20 percent of millennial respondents had purchased tickets from a scalper.

Extra fees, which are often added to ticket prices, represent another important pain point for consumers according to survey results. Unsurprisingly, 89 percent of those surveyed find hidden fees during the checkout process frustrating, and 81 percent do not believe additional service fees are justified.

"Extra fees are a deterrent," Vey said. "Blockchain won't solve this issue. It's up to the ticketing agencies and the venues to restore confidence that the consumer is not be deceived by a low price only to find it much higher at checkout."

“We possess the tools and technology to change the event ticketing industry for the better,” Monari said. "We must work together to implement it, for the benefit of ticketing agencies, venues, artists and consumers alike.”

With two-thirds of the respondents saying they were worried about buying counterfeit tickets, it would be in everyone's best interests to tackle this issue as an industry, Vey said.

"Everyone will sell more tickets if we can convince the consumer the issue of fraudulent tickets has been solved," he said.

One thing to keep in mind, Monari added, is how blockchain is implemented. "The protocols must be in place that protect the integrity of the chain." she said. "If the blockchain is not designed correctly, the chain is of little use."


 


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Kenes Spain Chooses Managing Director
 
Posted: 12 Sep 2018, 5:00 pm

SmaraIglesia_200x145.jpgSmara Iglesia.

Global conference manager Kenes has chosen Smara Iglesia as managing director for Spain.

Inglesia has more than 15 years of experience in international conference and exhibition management as well as expertise in business development, logistics and production.

Previously, Inglesia worked for corporate event production companies as well as national and international professional congress organizers.

Iglesia will take over the Kenes Spain operation from Carlos de Sebastian, who will focus his attention on developing activities in Latin America.

 


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At Midpoint, Timberlake Tour At $125M
 
Posted: 12 Sep 2018, 3:00 pm

Justin Timberlake’s tour supporting “Man of the Woods,” shown during a stop at London's O2 Arena on July 9, has visited 46 venues since its launch March 13. (Getty Images)

Justin Timberlake is more than halfway through the headlining tour in support of his latest album, “Man of the Woods,” which was released Feb. 2. According to box office results reported to Pollstar, the pop singer’s world tour has grossed $125 million at 46 venues in North America and Europe since its March 13 launch in Toronto. From 63 performances during the first six months of the run, the number of sold tickets is nearing the 1 million mark — 975,603, to be exact — through the end of August.

With 48 concerts remaining on the tour before it wraps early next year, JT is on track to surpass $200 million in ticket sales by the Jan. 29 finale at Pepsi Center in Denver. Overall attendance worldwide could potentially hit 1.7 million, based on Pollstar box office gross and ticket sales averages from the first half of the trek. 

Timberlake announced the tour Jan. 8, just a month before his highly anticipated appearance at the Super Bowl LII halftime show, where he performed two days after the release of his new album. The tour began a month later with a string of 27 cities in the U.S. and Canada booked through June 2. The jaunt’s European run began July 3 and hit arenas in 10 countries during an eight-week stretch.

London’s O2 Arena is the top-selling venue on the tour so far. The arena logged 35,322 sold seats over July 9 and 11, racking up a combined gross of $3.9 million for the two shows. Timberlake also played The O2 on two earlier treks, most recently during 2014’s 20/20 Experience world tour, when he drew 43,941 fans for three performances. He moved 79,742 tickets at five sold-out shows in July 2007 to wrap the European leg of his FutureSex/LoveShow run.

This year’s tour beats both previous treks for attendance per show at the arena. All three tours featured multiple performances, but the current run sold 20 percent more tickets per night than the 2014 tour and 10 percent more than 2007.

The Man of the Woods tour is set to resume Sept. 19 with a concert at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Ky. Timberlake has shows planned in 25 American cities and five markets north of the border through mid-December. January will bring a final run stateside.


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Bob Jordan Leaves Van Wagner
 
Posted: 11 Sep 2018, 7:30 am

Bob Jordan, who was a senior vice president at Van Wagner Sports & Entertainment for six years, has left the company, confirmed Jeff Knapple, the firm’s president.

Jordan did not respond to a phone call for comment, and Knapple would not comment further on the details surrounding Jordan’s departure or whether Van Wagner would replace him.

Jordan played a key role for Van Wagner’s Team and Venue Services group, specializing in technology infrastructure at sports facilities and mixed-use districts. His recent projects included consulting on SunTrust Park and The Battery Atlanta for Major League Baseball's Atlanta Braves, plus Little Caesars Arena and the District Detroit, a redevelopment spanning 50 blocks around the new home of the NHL's Red Wings and the NBA's Pistons. The ballpark and arena both opened in 2017.

In addition to those projects, Jordan worked with MLB Advanced Media to update all 30 major league ballparks with new wireless technology. His role extended to consulting for MLB on its activation of new video cameras tied to the expansion of instant replay in baseball.

Before working for Van Wagner,  Jordan ran his own company, whose projects included consulting on technology upgrades at college facilities such as the University of Washington's Husky Stadium and Syracuse University's Carrier Dome.

Before that, he filled the role of vice president of design and development for MetLife Stadium, the $1.65 billion stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., that opened in 2010 for the NFL's New York Jets and New York Giants. He was also part of the development team at American Airlines Center in Dallas, which opened in 2001 for the NHL's Stars and NBA's Mavericks.


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'Whitney!' Coming To Prudential Center
 
Posted: 10 Sep 2018, 10:00 am

The life and career of Whitney Houston will be celebrated at Prudential Center's Grammy Museum Oct. 19-June 30.

The Grammy Museum Experience Prudential Center will host “Whitney!,” an exhibit that celebrates the career of six-time Grammy winner Whitney Houston, starting Oct. 19. The opening coincides with the one-year anniversary of the museum inside the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J. 

"What makes this so special is that the exhibit will be displayed in Newark, which was Whitney's hometown," said Bob Santelli, founding executive director of the Grammy Museum in Los Angeles.

Houston, whose first album made her a star in 1985, sold more than 200 million albums, singles and videos internationally throughout her career. 

“Whitney!” opened at the Los Angeles Grammy Museum in 2012 six months after the singer’s death to "give fans a place to emotionally connect with her" and closed after three months "with the idea that we would redo the exhibit and make it more retrospective," Santelli said.

"We always thought the next stop for the exhibit should be her hometown," he said.

Hugh Weber, president of Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment, which owns Prudential Center, called Houston’s career “dynamic and illustrious” in a statement and said “her connection and impact on the city of Newark will forever be celebrated.”

Nearly all the pieces in the exhibit collection are on loan from the Houston family. "The exhibit is meant to contextualize the importance of Whitney Houston's music career," Santelli said. "We also want to shed light on her brief modeling career, and tell her story: where she was born, how she was raised, and how that upbringing launched such a tremendous career. Combined, the pieces we have tell Whitney's story in a way it's never been told."

Objects on display include stage and modeling outfits, Houston’s scrapbooks, personal items, awards and a series on audiovisual stations that show footage from Houston's career and interviews with people who worked with her.

The exhibit will also feature never-before-seen artifacts including Houston’s childhood Bible and the last Bible she carried with her; the Marc Bouwer outfit from the “I’m Your Baby Tonight" tour in 1991; the Dolce & Gabbana full-length fur worn during the “My Love Is Your Love” tour in 1999; and the red leather Versace pant suit Houston wore during the 2002 MTV European Music Awards performance of “Whatchulookinat.”

"We have rare footage of Whitney singing with (Newark’s) New Hope Baptist Church choir and key Grammy performances from her career," Santelli said. "Together they tell the story that Whitney was not only one of the great vocalists of our time but also one the great entertainers." Houston provided some of the most powerful performances in Grammy show history, he said.

Houston’s death at the age of 48 in a bathtub at a Beverly Hills hotel was ruled an accidental drowning in the coroner’s report, which listed heart disease and drug use as contributing factors.  "We don't shy away from the fact that Whitney suffered from personal demons that inevitably cut her career short," Santelli said.

A typical guest will spend an hour touring the Whitney! exhibit; a superfan "might take two hours," Santelli said. Merchandise created for the exhibit will be available for sale.

Access to the exhibit is included with admission to the museum, which costs $10 for adults. “Whitney!” will be on display in Prudential Center's temporary exhibit space, now housing a Taylor Swift exhibit.

Houston’s sister-in-law, Pat Houston, in a statement representing the singer’s estate, expressed thanks to the Grammy Museum and Prudential Center for offering fans “the opportunity to experience ‘The Voice’ in Newark, where it all started.”

The Grammy Museum hopes to take the tour to other museums, but no schedule has been set, Santelli said.


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Elevate Moves Into Campus Ticketing
 
Posted: 10 Sep 2018, 7:30 am

Kroger Field is among the University of Kentucky venues where Elevate On Campus will handle ticketing. (Courtesy Elevate On Campus)

Elevate Sports Ventures has formed a joint venture with veteran sports marketer Mark Dyer to sell tickets in the college space. The new company, Elevate On Campus, has signed the University of Kentucky as its first client with a focus on selling football tickets, Dyer said.

ELEVATE_ON_CAMPUS.jpgDyer, founder and CEO of Taymar Ventures, is president of Elevate On Campus. He was among the founders of IMG College Ticket Solutions, which became IMG Learfield Ticket Solutions in 2012 after Dyer sold half the company to Learfield Sports. Dyer has a strong relationship with Kentucky dating to his tenure with the old Host Communications in the 1990s. At that time, Host held the SEC school’s multimedia rights.

Now, as head of Charlotte-based Elevate On Campus, Dyer’s new firm will compete for college business against IMG Learfield Ticket Solutions, The Aspire Group and Legends, among others.

Elevate Sports Ventures launched in February. Its investors include the San Francisco 49ers; Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment, owner of the Philadelphia 76ers and New Jersey Devils; Ticketmaster/Live Nation; and Oak View Group, which is also parent company of VenuesNow.

Dyer left IMG College in August 2017 to form Taymar Ventures, a one-man shop. He was in search of a business partner and found one after initially discussing opportunities with Dan Shell, a former colleague at IMG College who is now head of OVG Collegiate, which handles sponsorship sales for clients, and Tim Leiweke, OVG’s CEO.

Leiweke referred Dyer to Al Guido, Elevate Sports Ventures’ CEO, and they signed a deal after about three months of negotiations.

The agreement was signed soon after Kentucky selected Taymar Ventures, Dyer’s company, to outsource ticket sales. Dyer said school officials were aware that he was in serious discussions with Elevate Sports Ventures and he had made reference to the potential joint venture during the RFP process.

“I had a vision … that if I was going to get in the ticket sales business again in the college space, I wanted a partner that would add tremendous value to what we could offer the schools and align us better in terms of services,” Dyer said. “We’re going to take full advantage of what the Sixers and 49ers offer, and OVG is going to make a real impact on the facility side.”

“They’re seeing the same thing other sports are seeing with (a big drop) in live event ticket sales,” he said. “We did a study over the last few weeks. The good news is the college football product has never been better. Television ratings are great, the playoff is great, but there are still 1 million unsold tickets on most weekends. That means there’s a big opportunity out there.”

Elevate’s deal with Kentucky kicks off Sept. 17 in Lexington. The company will be paid a management fee to run ticket operations, providing greater flexibility for selling tickets for basketball at Rupp Arena, football at Kroger Field, baseball at Kentucky’s new $50 million ballpark opening in 2019 and all other sports.

“Traditionally, schools would pay us (at IMG College) a commission on what we sold and we would pay commissions to the salespeople,” Dyer said. “We’ll still do that, but it’s more fee-based with bonuses built in on meeting certain objectives. It allows us to turn on a dime on the priorities that the athletic department has, and instead of focusing strictly on new business, we’re going to focus on the entirety of their customer portfolio, [including] all their renewal accounts.”

Dyer hired Joe Rickert as a vice president for Elevate On Campus, and he will serve as general manager of the Kentucky account. Rickert, a Kentucky graduate, was most recently manager of ticket sales for the Atlanta Hawks. He will supervise a four-person sales staff at the Kroger Field box office.

“Football will be a priority for us if you look at our plans and strategy and execution on a year-round basis,” Dyer said. “I don’t anticipate that we’re going to have men’s basketball season tickets available, but [23,500-seat Rupp Arena] is a big building and if there’s some inventory for nonconference games against opponents (without) marquee value, our group there will be on top of that.”

Dyer plans to relocate from Dallas to Charlotte, which he selected for the home office because the airport is a major hub and it’s easy to recruit executives to come live there, he said. Plus, Dyer has several business relationships in Charlotte after having run the Charlotte division of NASCAR from 2002 to ’06.

For sales training, Elevate On Campus plans to use Harris Blitzer’s office in Camden, N.J., which sits next to the Sixers’ new practice facility. Dyer spent a day visiting the firm’s headquarters there and said he was impressed with the operation.

“Al Guido has an ambitious growth plan for Elevate, and we’re all very much cut from the same cloth in all the work we’ve done so far,” Dyer said. “We’re both startups, and it’s fun to be part of something with that energy level in it, and that’s what we’ll bring on campus.”


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Congratulations 2018 VenuesNow Excellence in Concessions Award Winners!
 
Posted: 6 Sep 2018, 5:15 pm

2018 VenuesNow Excellence in Concessions Award Winners are highlighted in the VenuesNow October issue.

Best New Concept

STADIUM STREET

Developed by Zach Hensley, CenturyLink Field’s VP of Venue Operations and Guest Experience,  First & Goal Hospitality (FGH) in-house concessions group.

CenturyLink Field, home of the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks, launched a new food concept in 2017 titled “Stadium Street” in the main concourse area of the stadium. Stadium Street features a rotating selection of local chefs and cuisines, food-truck style. Stadium Street vendors change each game to offer fans a variety of local chefs and exposure to new offerings. This has been a great way to highlight new up-and-coming chefs as well as smaller restaurants that would not have the bandwidth to support full-time large-scale stadium operations. Many of the featured restaurants are from the surrounding stadium neighborhood including the historic Pioneer Square, and the International District, or operate solely as food trucks without brick and mortar locations.

Best New Technology

BREW2YOU

Citizens Bank Park, Philadelphia

Developed by Danielle Lazor, VP, Design, Development & Retail, Sports & Entertainment, Aramark

Aramark’s expertise in the game-day food business, particularly hawking and in-seat delivery, informed them fans don’t want to miss any of the action on the field, court or ice, so they want food and beverage delivered to their seats directly or through a hawker. That being said, they don’t want to wait for a hawker to come to their section and they don’t want to download an additional app to utilize an in-seat delivery service. This has been a long-time challenge for concessionaires like Aramark. Brew2you allows fans to order food and beverage to their seat with a simple text message, no app download required. Imagine fans could pay for that food and beverage at the same time as placing their order. With the ease of a text message, Philadelphia Phillies fans were able to order beverages using their iPhone without missing a minute of on-field baseball action. The Phillies and Aramark launched this first-of-its-kind pilot on July 20th, 2018 in designated sections of Citizens Bank Park. The technology allows fans to use Apple Business Chat to place orders using their iPhone’s Messages app and then have the menu items delivered directly to their seats, putting a new spin on hawking and order delivery. Aramark is the first sports concessionaire to pilot this modern mobile ordering service using Apple Business Chat, which allows fans to utilize the speed, simplicity and convenience of text messaging to order and pay for menu items without downloading a special app.

Best New Menu Item

ASIAN STREET FOOD ($11 each)

PPL Center, Allentown, PA

Andrew Wissa, Executive Chef, Spectra Food Services & Hospitality at PPL Center

Ahead of the 2018 American Hockey League season, Spectra Food Services & Hospitality at PPL Center in Allentown, PA has created an innovative Asian street food concession concept to offer fans the hottest trends of the growing food truck scene, but inside the venue. The opening menu includes three different styles of Asian street food, which showcase fresh ingredients and diverse flavors from different cultures across the continent, including:

Brisket Tacos, Napa Cabbage Slaw and a Honey Sesame Dressing; Chicken Lettuce Wraps, Red Cabbage, Julienned Carrot, and a Ginger Dressing; and Pork Shoulder Bahn Mi with Pickled Carrot, Daikon, and Fresh Cucumber. Lehigh Valley Phantoms fans also have the opportunity to customize their  own Asian Street Food creation by combining ingredients from the three above menu items, including vessels, proteins, and toppings. PPL Center’s new Asian street food offerings encompass the popularity of food truck fare, paired with the growing demand for ethnic flavors, while highlighting Spectra Food Services & Hospitality’s “Everything’s Fresh” philosophy. Fans can purchase these items for $11 each on the concourse of the arena at the new portable concept location. 

Best Sustainability Initiative

BIODIGESTION TECHNOLOGY

Miller Park, home of Major League Baseball’s Milwaukee Brewers

Seth VanderLaan, executive chef for Delaware North Cos.

The new, innovative “biodigestion” technology developed by BioHiTech Global (NASDAQ:BHTG), a green technology and solutions company converts food waste into environmentally friendly waste water. The system, installed earlier this year in partnership with Delaware North, the Brewers’ food, beverage and retail partner, is the first of its kind among MLB ballparks and has the ability to eliminate 30,000 pounds of food waste from entering landfills in a typical baseball season. April 23, 2018, Delaware North commissioned the installation of the biodigester in its kitchen, where organic food waste or food that is not suitable to be sold or donated is put through the aerobic digestion process to convert it into the more eco-friendly wastewater. The system also includes a data analytics platform to help the ballpark’s operations understand more about the waste stream to make them more efficient making it another important step in the ballpark’s efforts to eliminate waste and improve its environmental footprint. In its first month of operation, the biodigester processed 4,700 pounds of waste, which saved the equivalent of 63.8 cubic feet of landfill space. To date the biodigester processed 10.4 tons of food waste, which saved the equivalent of 281.2 cubic feet of landfill space and 7.4 metric tons of CO2 equivalent. The food digester is the latest sustainability initiative for Delaware North at Miller Park through its environmental stewardship platform, GreenPath®. Cost: Estimated $8,300 for equipment lease (one year), shipping and installation


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Furniture Brand In Naming-Rights Game
 
Posted: 5 Sep 2018, 8:00 pm

The bright yellow Leon's Centre sign was installed on the outside of the Kingston, Ontario, venue Aug. 15. (Courtesy Leon's Centre)

Though overshadowed in scope by the renaming of Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, the new Leon’s Centre in Kingston, Ontario, has a very relevant tale to tell.

The renaming of what was Rogers K-Rock Centre was announced July 1, noted Lynn Carlotto, GM of Leon’s Centre for SMG Canada. That same day, what was Air Canada Centre was renamed Scotiabank Arena. “Interesting factoid,” during the 2018 Canadian Music Week in May, the former was named the No. 1 major venue with 8,000 or fewer seats, while Scotiabank Arena was announced No. 1 over 8,000 seats.

Similarities beyond that are a little more dissimilar. Scotiabank cut an $800 million, 20-year deal with Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment. The name went up the day of the announcement.

Leon’s Furniture cut a five-year, $250,000-plus-additional-trade deal, with a five-year renewal option, with the Kingston arena. The name went up Aug. 15. Asked about the delay compared with Scotiabank Arena, Carlotto cracked that “$20 million a year covers a lot of rush fees.” Leon’s Furniture, though a provincial brand, was negotiated by the local franchisee, Chris McKercher.

Carlotto had started the ball rolling, having sent a letter to McKercher in December about naming-rights opportunities. She knew McKercher through other sponsorships in the venue and because he was a club seat holder of long standing. “He nibbled,” Carlotto said. “We went back and forth with him and then turned him over to Bonham/Wills.”

Tom Wills of Bonham/Wills negotiated the final deal. “It’s its own art form,” Carlotto said of negotiating title sponsor deals. “When negotiating a sponsorship of this magnitude, you need to have a professional do it. They track and retain every conversation, every mention of what is important, and establish the relationship that gets you to that finish line.”

And she well knew that McKercher “prides himself on being a great negotiator and he is. I want a professional negotiator to be fencing with him, so we end up with the best deal we can get.”

Bonham/Wills did the valuation for Kingston, something the 7,000-seat venue had not had to do since opening in 2008. It opened with K-Rock as a title sponsor. When the station owner, John Wright, sold his stations to Rogers, Rogers added five years and the Rogers name to the arena deal.

Bonham/Wills did the valuation, which actually came in a little higher — $350,000 to $375,000 a year — but they walked it back when Leon’s became the preferred bidder. “Frankly, there has to be a dose of realism in a market with 125,000 in the summer, 165,000 when students are in and a total market area that’s not what one would realize in the States,” Carlotto said. “It’s a matter of taking a look at the nonquantifiable aspects of the opportunity and putting a number on it that makes sense for the market, location, etc.”

Tom Wills, who has been with Bonham/Wills since 2011 and has helped broker 20-25 deals in the last few years, considers the category and the local aspect of the Kingston deal noteworthy.

“Kingston is an interesting place. It’s a wealthy demographic. Kind of a retirement place,” Wills said. “There is a lot of old money from Toronto who, in their golden years, buy a nice piece of land on Lake Ontario.” The airport is small, the financial district very small.

Those traditional categories — airlines, automotive, banks, insurance companies and the financial industry — were not viable avenues in Kingston. “Here in Canada, Rogers and Bell own a lot [of naming rights] and then it’s all financial organizations. Since Rogers was walking away, they took out a big industry category,” Wills said.

He has never done a deal where the local franchise, not the national or provincial brand, stepped up, but Leon’s Furniture did. Wills said they did pass everything through Leon’s legal team in terms of brand identity and the satisfaction of all franchisees, but the deal was done locally.

In the early days, they had a few other organizations looking at it. “Chris had interest but, only owning two stores, he wasn’t going to pay $500,000. Then, as we were negotiating this deal, Scotiabank obviously shook up the industry with an $800 million deal down the road. He was a little hesitant to throw his hat in the ring,” Wills recalled.

That’s where the negotiating skills came in handy. Bonham/Wills has its own proprietary system for valuations, anchored on how many impressions, how many people are impacted, where they come from — VPI (value per impression). Twice a year, they rejigger those valuations based on new deals in the marketplace. Bonham/Wills prepared an extensive book on those value propositions, but it went beyond that.

As McKercher learned more about “who Lynn is and how many awards the K-Rock Centre has won over the years, that it is a regional hub, that SMG has an outstanding reputation across different markets and that they won’t have to worry about too much negative press or that they won’t be able to book shows,” it went a long way in building the case for a partner like this.

“When we can, we like to lean on the fact it is a well-run venue,” Wills said, noting Bonham/Wills will be announcing another naming-rights deal this week. A new name for the Downtown Moncton Arena, which will be showcased in VenuesNow’s October magazine, is supposed to be announced Thursday. And once again, “it’s a very unconventional category,” he said.

The valuation is also tailored toward the needs of the client. In this case, McKercher is looking to drive traffic to his local stores. He is also interested in giving back to the community to build Leon’s Furniture’s brand in the neighborhood, all elements that are built into the deal. “We try to assign a value to most elements,” Wills said.

An element unusual to this deal is talk of furnishing suites and clubs with Leon’s Furniture. They also lined up 12 free-of-charge rental days (except operating expenses), which McKercher will give back to nonprofits to run fundraisers, like skate days, which in turn generate good publicity for Leon’s Furniture, doubling his exposure and impressions, which further drive sales.

McKercher also has a large allotment of tickets to give to local charities to auction off.

“At the end of day we want to drive sales” to Leon’s Furniture, Wills said.

“Companies are looking for novel ways of connecting with customers,” Carlotto said. “Whenever you do a naming-rights deal, you need to connect with more personal amenities or benefits for the sponsor. Because Chris’ franchise is in the city, we’re able to tie in promotions that directly tie into shows and drive people to his stores.”

Since Leon’s has a lot of traffic, it makes sense for the shows and events as well.

For the venue, it means $1.25 million over five years that helps fulfill the city’s pledge to taxpayers that they would not be footing the bill to operate the arena.

“The fundamental difference between an A-market name change and the rest of us is that when Scotiabank cuts a deal worth millions, the venue will use a lot of the money to create new hospitality areas, build out new food and beverage locations and improve the facility and there is the return on the investment there and the argument for doing it,” Carlotto said.

“We’d love to do that, but $250,000 and change does not give you the ability to bust out walls and build new restaurants. What it does do is give you the ability to report solid numbers. The city committed to the citizens when they invested in this building that it would not cost them in terms of higher taxes. Our mandate is to generate a profit in this building so it is a good investment for the city, and we do.”

“Sponsorships and premium seating gives you that base for your annual numbers. Concerts and other events are cyclical and in many ways unpredictable.” At Leon’s Centre, premium seating is always sold out and they come to hockey games, Carlotto said.

As to acceptance of the new, local name, Carlotto has been surprised at how quickly people adapted. She has overheard locals correcting others who refer to it as K-Rock Centre. It’s not.

It’s Leon’s Centre and, given the bright-yellow colors in Leon’s logo, “I think you can probably see the sign from space. It is that bright,” she said.

The only remaining signage that needs to change is the center-hung scoreboard, which changes Sept. 7. The first hockey game for the Ontario Hockey League's Kingston Frontenacs is Sept. 21.


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Fairs Score With Diverse Bookings
 
Posted: 5 Sep 2018, 6:00 pm

Old Dominion played one of the four sold-out shows at this year's Minnesota State Fair in St. Paul. (Patrick Dunn / Minnesota State Fair).

Two of the best-attended state fairs in the country, Minnesota and New York, saw sellout crowds at many of their concerts held late last month and into Labor Day weekend.

The New York State Fair in Syracuse put on about 500 free concerts during its run Aug. 21-Sept. 2. In a three-year, $525,000 sponsorship agreement with Chevrolet announced Aug. 20, the fair rebranded more than 75 performances on the main Chevy Court and Experience stages as the Chevrolet Concert Series.

“We made a larger investment this year in our shows totaling $2.1 million,” said Dave Bullard, New York State Fair public relations and marketing manager.

The plan appeared to pay off: Rapper A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie drew a record crowd of 40,610 on Sept. 2, surpassing Steve Miller Band’s 36,900 attendees in 2015, though the evening was marred by a stabbing and a spate of fights and arrests at the fair.

Main stage Chevy Court performances included Hanson, Niall Horan, Ludacris, Counting Crows, Live, Blondie, ZZ Top and Smokey Robinson. The Experience Stage included national acts Eddie Money, All Time Low, John Kay and Steppenwolf, and Foghat.

“Our mark on the world is to democratize normally high-dollar-admission shows and include them in the price of the fair admittance fee,” Bullard said. Fair tickets cost $10 at the gate or $6 in advance. There were two free days this year for seniors over 60. Children 12 and under were free.

Bullard estimates the concerts bring 250,000 people a year to the fairgrounds, or a fifth of its attendance, which was a record 1.26 million this year. The fair averages 95,000 attendees daily.

“We set eight daily attendance records as well as the overall fair attendance record” this year, Bullard said. “We continue to push the concert series up the ladder to bring in artists who command a higher price, and this year we think that came back to us. We had a couple crowds over 30,000.”

The Minnesota State Fair in St. Paul saw four sold-out shows during its run Aug. 23-Sept. 3. These included Sugarland, which drew 12,418 on Aug. 24; The Current’s Music On-A-Stick featuring Trampled by Turtles at 15,627 on Aug. 25; the Beach Boys at 13,168 on Aug. 27; and Old Dominion at 12,636 on Aug. 29.

This year’s fair held 900 free music performances. Total fair attendance hit  2,046,533, breaking the record of 1,997,320 set last year.

Grandstand ticket prices varied by show and ranged from $15 to $67. Fair admission was $14 for adults and $12 for seniors and children 5-12. Children under 5 were free.

“We put more money behind our social media this year, increasing our budget by $10,000, while also boosting Facebook events and ads on Facebook and Instagram,” said Danielle Dullinger, Minnesota State Fair spokesperson.

The fair also had ticket giveaways, publicizing them on Twitter and Instagram the day of the shows. Dullinger credited the promotions and creative social media campaigns for the sold-out shows.

“Every year, the challenge is booking a diverse lineup in 12 days,” Dullinger said. “We do a good job finding niche performers. It’s great to see four sellouts with different genres.”


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Fiserv Forum Has A 'Killers' Opening
 
Posted: 5 Sep 2018, 4:10 pm

Patrons coming into Milwaukee's Fiserv Forum use the self-scanning machines that support the arena's all-digital ticketing platform.  (Don Muret / Staff)

Fiserv Forum officially opened its doors Tuesday night with the first of a flurry of concerts leading up to the NBA season at the new home of the Milwaukee Bucks.

The Killers, with supporting act Violent Femmes, a band with Milwaukee roots, christened the $524 million arena in front of a sellout crowd of 12,000 patrons. The Killers, from Las Vegas, are not on tour at the moment, but they grabbed the opportunity to open the building and requested the Femmes, whom they cite as an influence, as their opening act, according to local reports.

Fiserv_Forum_outside_-_200_267_DM.JPGConcertgoers wait outside Fiserv Forum to get spots near the stage for the concert. (Don Muret / Staff)

Several hours before showtime, a few dozen concertgoers holding general admission floor tickets sat in lawn chairs along the arena’s north side. They got there early to get spots near the stage and for their trouble were soaked by a brief thunderstorm that swept through downtown Milwaukee. 

After the skies cleared, Fiserv Forum opened its doors with an all-digital ticketing platform. Ticketmaster is the arena’s ticketing provider and Fortress GB produced the self-scanning machines stationed at the entrances. Arena staffers were positioned at each device to help patrons scan bar codes on their mobile devices. As showtime neared, lines flowed smoothly and there did not appear to be any hiccups with the system.

Officials are keeping a close eye on the technology’s introduction as patrons get accustomed to going paperless. Jay Cooper, senior vice president and managing director of AEG Facilities Global Solutions, was among those observing the scanning process from the main concourse, one floor above the north entrance.

AEG has a consulting agreement with the Bucks, and Cooper was in town to support Fiserv Forum staff at the opening event. He was joined by Danny Burns, Gary Wilmes and Eugene Holmes, all with Sprint Center in Kansas City, an AEG-managed arena.

In addition, Marc Farha and Chris Miller with CAA Icon, the firm serving as owner's representative for the Bucks' project, were in attendance.

Fiserv Forum stands out for its Panorama Club, a 10,820-square-foot lounge open to all ticketholders. Situated at catwalk level, one floor above the upper deck, the club’s finishes and amenities are on par with a premium seat product. The room’s capacity is about 400.

A row of high-top chairs facing the seating bowl was filled during the opening act’s performance before the club was shut down for the headliner per The Killers’ request.

The outdoor deck attached to the club, stretching 910 feet, was a popular destination for patrons. They took selfies and photos of the historic buildings in downtown Milwaukee and the Bucks’ entertainment district and other new developments taking shape across the street.

Fiserv_Forum_LED_300_225.JPGA fan has his photo taken in front of the LED screen in the arena atrium. (Don Muret / Staff)

Another popular destination for snapshots was the large curved LED screen in the atrium at event level. After getting their tickets scanned, several concertgoers stood in front of the screen displaying an image of the concert headliner. A few days before the show, Fiserv Forum used the same screen to show Aretha Franklin’s funeral.

The impromptu event drew a few dozen attendees to watch the service free of charge and it gave Levy, the arena’s concessionaire, an opportunity to test the BMO Club kitchen and serve ice cream to those guests, general manager Raj Saha said.

At the concert, a few operational issues arose that could be tweaked for coming events. Midway through the Femmes’ set, some pinch points formed on the main concourse between the Miller-branded bar and the Canal Street pizza stand. It’s a narrow space to begin with, and the lines to buy beer blurred into a small swarm, making it difficult to get past the crowd.

Those folks represent the serious beer drinkers that didn’t mind missing part of the opener to ensure they had their adult beverages by the time The Killers came on stage, said John Steinmiller, the Bucks’ executive vice president of operations, in his 49th year with the team. Whether those pinch points become an issue during the Bucks’ season could depend on how well the team performs, Steinmiller said.

In a building with open concourses, Fiserv Forum used its curtaining system to darken entry points to the seating bowl, which, combined with the arena’s subtle wayfinding program, made it difficult for some ticket holders to find the right path to their seats during the show. The small signs designating each section are positioned near the concession stands against the back wall, compared with signs placed above entrances to the bowl at most arenas.

“We created some areas where the concourse is fully open and other areas where we do have more of a vomitory kind of cutting through the concession buildings back there,” said Gabe Braselton, an associate principal with Populous who helped design the building. “We’ve got a lot of diversity from a design standpoint but [also] a couple of things that may be unfamiliar.”

Looking ahead, Fiserv Forum officials have a half-dozen events to work the kinks out before Oct. 3, the Bucks’ first home preseason game against Chicago. Over the next month, Maroon 5, Justin Timberlake, comedians Kevin Hart and Jim Gaffigan, and a two-day Professional Bull Riders event are all booked at the 17,500-seat facility.

The arena has 24 concerts confirmed over the first 10 months of operation, compared with less than half that number over the past year at BMO Harris Bradley Center, the Bucks’ old arena, Saha said.


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SMG's Anderson Scores Promotion
 
Posted: 5 Sep 2018, 2:00 pm

Chris_Anderson_200x145.jpgChris Anderson.

SMG has named Chris Anderson director of facilities at Van Andel Arena, DeVos Place and DeVos Performance Hall in Grand Rapids, Mich.

Anderson has been with SMG since 2003. He first was a maintenance technician and more recently chief engineer. Anderson has nearly 25 years of maintenance experience, beginning his career with Prince Machine and Jefferson Commons before joining SMG.
 


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HOT TICKETS: SEPT. 6, 2018
 
Posted: 5 Sep 2018, 12:00 pm

Celine Dion's residency at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace is the gold-standard of Vegas residencies. Dion finished a five-city tour of Australia and New Zealand last month. (Denise Truscello)

Vegas darling Celine Dion is dominating our 10,001-15,000-capacity chart this week, with stops in New Zealand and Australia taking the top two spots. Two shows of the tour — promoted by Concerts West, AEG Presents and Frontier Touring — at Spark Arena in Auckland grossed $5,731,192, with attendance of 30,778 and a ticket range of $238.46-$67.33. Dion’s show at Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne had a gross of $4,719,353, attendance of 24,342, and a ticket range of $276.36-$78.37.

Topping our 5,001-10,000 chart was the Steve Miller Band with a show at
Pacific Amphitheatre in Costa Mesa, Calif. The old-school rockers grossed $535,760, with attendance of 7,882 and a ticket range of $97.50-$52.50. The promoter was the Orange County Fair.

HOT TICKETS is a weekly summary of the top events and ticket sales as reported to VNPulse via Pollstar. Following are the top 20 concerts and events, the top 5 in each capacity category, that took place Aug. 7 – Sept. 4.

15,000 or More Capacity

10,001-15,000 Capacity

5,001-10,000
Capacity

5,000 or Less
Capacity

1) Jay-Z, Beyoncé
Gross Sales:
$14,074,692; Venue: Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta; Attendance: 105,170; Ticket Range: $320-$20; Promoter: Live Nation Global Touring; Dates: Aug. 25-26; No. of Shows: 2

2) Taylor Swift
Gross Sales: $10,242,023; Venue: U.S. Bank Stadium, Minneapolis; Attendance: 98,773; Ticket Range: $499.50-$49.50; Promoter: Messina Touring Group / AEG Presents; Dates: Aug. 31-Sept. 1; No. of Shows: 2

3) Taylor Swift
Gross Sales: $9,007,179; Venue: Nissan Stadium, Nashville; Attendance: 56,112; Ticket Range: $499.50-$49.50; Promoter: Messina Touring Group / AEG Presents; Dates: Aug. 25; No. of Shows: 1

4) Ed Sheeran
Gross Sales: $8,459,818; Venue: Rogers Centre, Toronto; Attendance: 98,461; Ticket Range: $109.73-$40.67; Promoter: Messina Touring Group / AEG Presents; Dates: Aug. 30-31; No. of Shows: 2

5) Ed Sheeran
Gross Sales: $4,932,401; Venue: CenturyLink Field, Seattle; Attendance: 55,891; Ticket Range: $119.50-$39.50; Promoter: Messina Touring Group / AEG Presents; Dates: Aug. 25; No. of Shows: 1

1) Celine Dion
Gross Sales: $5,731,192; Venue: Spark Arena, Auckland, New Zealand; Attendance: 30,778; Ticket Range: $238.46-$67.33; Promoter: Concerts West, AEG Presents, Frontier Touring; Dates: Aug. 11-14; No. of Shows: 3

2) Celine Dion
Gross Sales: $4,719,353; Venue: Rod Laver Arena, Melbourne; Attendance: 24,342; Ticket Range: $276.36-$78.37; Promoter: Concerts West, AEG Presents, Frontier Touring; Dates: Aug. 7-8; No. of Shows: 2

3) Justin Timberlake
Gross Sales: $2,446,175; Venue: Festhalle, Frankfurt, Germany; Attendance: 22,227; Ticket Range: $128.79-$52.69; Promoter: Live Nation Global Touring; Dates: Aug. 20-21; No. of Shows: 2

4) Justin Timberlake
Gross Sales: $1,629,977; Venue: Hallenstadion, Zurich; Attendance: 12,380; Ticket Range: $151.69-$85.96; Promoter: Live Nation Global Touring; Dates: Aug. 16; No. of Shows: 1

5) Imagine Dragons
Gross Sales: $626,812; Venue: The Wharf Amphitheater, Orange Beach, Ala.; Attendance: 9,514; Ticket Range: $108-$38; Promoter: Red Mountain Entertainment; Dates: Aug. 7; No. of Shows: 1

1) Steve Miller Band
Gross Sales: $535,760; Venue: Pacific Amphitheatre, Costa Mesa, Calif.; Attendance: 7,882; Ticket Range: $97.50-$52.50; Promoter: OC Fair, In-house Promotion; Dates: Aug. 12; No. of Shows: 1

2 Keith Urban
Gross Sales: $515,180; Venue: Walmart AMP, Rogers, Ark.; Attendance: 9,445; Ticket Range: $338-$32; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Aug. 15; No. of Shows: 1

3) Willie Nelson & Family
Gross Sales: $486,538; Venue: Pacific Amphitheatre, Costa Mesa, Calif.; Attendance: 7,937; Ticket Range: $87.50-$47.50; Promoter: OC Fair, In-house Promotion; Dates: Aug. 9; No. of Shows: 1

4) Queens Of The Stone Age
Gross Sales: $460,064; Venue: Riverstage, Brisbane, Australia; Attendance: 6,931; Ticket Range: $66.82; Promoter: Frontier Touring; Dates: Aug. 28; No. of Shows: 1

5) Bob Dylan
Gross Sales: $408,115; Venue: Newcastle Entertainment Centre, Broadmeadow, Australia; Attendance: 3,654; Ticket Range: $155.18-$80.93; Promoter: Chugg Entertainment; Dates: Aug. 22; No. of Shows: 1

1) “Springsteen On Broadway”, Bruce Springsteen
Gross Sales: $1,928,960; Venue: Walter Kerr Theatre, New York; Attendance: 3,792; Ticket Range: $850-$75; Promoter: Thrill Hill Productions; Dates: Aug. 22-25; No. of Shows: 4

2) “The Book of Mormon”
Gross Sales: $1,465,507; Venue: Durham (N.C.) Performing Arts Center; Attendance: 21,228; Ticket Range: $129-$35; Promoter: Nederlander Concerts, Professional Facilities Mgmt.; Dates: Aug. 7-12; No. of Shows: 8

3) Erasure
Gross Sales: $228,951; Venue: Austin (Texas) City Limits Live at The Moody Theater; Attendance: 4,400; Ticket Range: $79.50-$39.50; Promoter: In-house Promotion; Dates: Aug. 7-8; No. of Shows: 2

4) Lyle Lovett
Gross Sales: $114,764; Venue: Durham (N.C.) Performing Arts Center; Attendance: 1,722; Ticket Range: $100-$49.50; Promoter: Nederlander Concerts, Professional Facilities Mgmt.; Dates: Aug. 15; No. of Shows: 1

5) Playboi Carti
Gross Sales: $86,655; Venue: House Of Blues, Boston; Attendance: 2,425; Ticket Range: $55-$35; Promoter: In-house Promotion; Dates: Aug. 11; No. of Shows: 1

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

 


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Swing Suites Bring Strong Group Sales
 
Posted: 4 Sep 2018, 11:00 pm

A rendering of a Topgolf Swing Suite at State Farm Arena in Atlanta. (Courtesy Atlanta Hawks)

Topgolf officials expect their simulators to become part of about a dozen big league venues or accompanying mixed-use developments over the coming months, said Ron Powers, president of the company’s Swing Suite group.

The simulators revolve around interactive displays where patrons use real clubs to hit golf balls into a big screen. The system tracks each shot’s accuracy and distance, and awards points for hitting various targets. Topgolf made an investment last year in Full Swing, a leader in golf simulation technology, which resulted in Topgolf developing the Swing Suite product.

As it stands, State Farm Arena in Atlanta and Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara are the first two facilities to integrate Swing Suites in their buildings. In Foxborough, Mass., Topgolf has installed a Swing Suite that will open soon at Howl! Splitsville, a high-end bowling venue at Patriot Place, the retail and entertainment development next to Gillette Stadium. Topgolf charges the venues a licensing fee to use its products, and in some cases, there's a revenue share agreement, company officials said.

The next batch of simulators will be distributed inside arenas and stadiums as well as the entertainment districts tied to those buildings, Powers said. The potential clients represent MLB, NFL, NBA and MLS teams, but to date no deals have been signed. Topgolf pays for the roughly $100,000 expense for the installation, which covers the technology, equipment and shipping costs. The teams pay for finishing the space “in a manner consistent with their facility,” he said.

“We’re probably in at least 11 pro sports conversations right now … four are in discussions with capitalizing on space within the venue and the balance are discussions [next to] the venue,” he said. “These districts are looking to establish a relationship with Topgolf so that it becomes part of the branding of the overall facility. It could be a stand-alone restaurant or lounge that includes Topgolf in the name.”

In Atlanta, the Swing Suite concept has created a lot of buzz around the $193 million in renovations at State Farm Arena, formerly Philips Arena. The Atlanta Hawks have two Swing Suites, situated on two corners of a premium level along the arena’s west side. Each suite has one simulator that can accommodate one group of 60 people or, using collapsible doors, two groups of 30 patrons. There are views to the event floor at the front of the suites.

The Hawks are marketing the Swing Suites as a single-game buy for NBA games and concerts, and most of the sales to date have been for groups of 30, said Michael Drake, the Hawks’ senior vice president of corporate sponsorships. Ticket prices run from $100 a person for a comedy show to $400 for events such as Elton John and the Lakers-Hawks game, Drake said. Food and drink and simulator time, including play before and after events, is included in the ticket price.

“It’s been a headline for us since we first did the deal with Topgolf, and we make sure to continue to keep it front and center, just because it’s a differentiator for us,” Drake said. "We’ve done some target social [media] advertising to that companywide and group outing demographic. From the wait list perspective, we generated enough ($1,000) deposits that we’re now starting to slot almost up to half our basketball season and all of our concert business that we’ve presold already.”

In addition to the big leagues, Topgolf is in talks with colleges and their marketing partners to install Swing Suites on campus, Powers said. No deals have been signed. For Topgolf, food and drink is a key piece of the experience and part of the negotiations revolves around the schools’ alcohol restrictions, he said.

“We’re working with hospitality and housing facilities where the food and beverage offering can be more consistent with what we do in our Topgolf venues and (where) we don’t leave that opportunity on the table,” Powers said.

Overall, there are about 20 Swing Suites operating right now across the country, many at casino resorts where the average spend per visitor runs 30 percent higher than in other spaces at those facilities, Powers said. For special events drawing groups of 10 or more people, the number increases to 35 percent, he said.

The technology enables Topgolf to expand its line of simulators to include other sports. The company has already introduced software for a baseball simulator that adds to the experience, and it’s working on a music element as well, Powers said. Topgolf expects to have hundreds of locations over the next five years.

“We’re seeing the evolution of this entertainment space going from that of golf courses to other sports and to more frivolous environments,” he said. “Think of killing zombies with a soft baseball that are attacking you on the screen. We’re continuing to refresh and invest in the experience. We’re in the early stages of growth and the opportunity is significant. We learn as each installation happens."

In Santa Clara, installation of the swing suite begins this week inside Michael Mina’s Bourbon Steak & Pub restaurant attached to Levi’s Stadium. At that venue, the attraction does not have views to the field and the focus is on a year-round hospitality options Game-day use is not the primary market, 49ers spokesman Roger Hacker said. Reservations start in early October.


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Critical Mass.: Chesney's Big Finish
 
Posted: 4 Sep 2018, 11:00 am

Kenny Chesney kicks up his boot heels during his Aug. 24 show at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass. (Allister Ann)

Kenny Chesney served up another blockbuster finale for the No Shoes Nation as his Trip Around the Sun tour wrapped with a record-breaking two-show engagement at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass., the traditional final stop for his tours.

Chesney hit a milestone at the stadium by selling enough tickets for his Aug. 24-25 shows to kick his overall attendance count there over the 1 million mark. The country star has sold 1,090,326 tickets since his first concert at Gillette during 2005’s Somewhere in the Sun tour and stretching through his 19 headlining performances at the venue.

Chesney also smashed his own attendance record at the stadium. With a sold ticket count of 121,714 this year, the Tennessee native beat his own record – set last year – by 72 seats. However, his two-night stint in 2017 earned just over $12 million and remains his best gross at Gillette. At $11.6 million, this year’s visit is his second-highest earner.

The Trip Around the Sun tour drew 1.3 million fans in 40 North American cities, making it Chesney’s 12th tour since 2003 to top 1 million in ticket sales. As the only stadium on the schedule with two performances, Gillette was the top grosser.

Only one of Chesney's tours failed to hit the 1 million mark. His Spread the Love trek in 2016 logged 910,330 sold seats, but he played only 30 dates that year, less than the 55-show average of his other jaunts. Revenue from this year’s run totaled $114.3 million, marking the second time Chesney has topped $100 million in sales on a single tour. The Big Revival in 2015 maintains the record as his highest-grossing touring effort, at $116.3 million.

The stadium with the most box office success among the single-show dates on the Trip Around the Sun tour was MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. The New York-area venue grossed $6.8 million from 58,642 total tickets at a sold-out concert Aug. 18.

“When we hear that he’s set all-time attendance records at MetLife Stadium, it’s mind-blowing,” manager and agent Clint Higham of Dale Morris & Associates told Pollstar. “Having worked with him for 25 years, going back to the days of not being able to afford a bus, borrowing the money to play — but we did it anyway — and playing venues where no one showed up or cared. But brick by brick, Kenny defied logic and honed his craft while the business was not paying attention.   Then, one day, you look up and you are headlining arenas, amphitheaters and then stadiums.”

Chesney played 18 stadiums and 21 amphitheaters during the bulk of his summer run, which stretched 18 weeks, beginning April 21 at Tampa’s Raymond James Stadium. Before the stadium opener, though, he made his first appearance of the tour in Las Vegas with a club date at The Joint at Hard Rock Hotel, selling out two shows in mid-March.

Fellow country artists Thomas Rhett, Old Dominion and Brandon Lay provided support for all of the stadium dates except for the finale, which featured Dierks Bentley and Brothers Osborne along with Lay. Old Dominion opened the show for all of the shed dates.

Chesney owns the No. 8 ranking on the Global Concert Pulse of Venues Now-affiliated publication Pollstar, based on gross and attendance averages of $2.9 million and 33,075 from performances in 39 cities reported during the past three months. With no major trek staged last year, his most recent ranking on Pollstar’s Year End Top 200 North American tours was No. 10 in 2016.

Ryan Borba of Pollstar contributed to this report.


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Q’s With Patrick Sweany: The Blues-Rock Musician Makes Some Noise
 
Posted: 31 Aug 2018, 6:17 pm
Blues/rock musician Patrick Sweany chats with Pollstar about his latest album; recording with Grammy-award winning engineer/producer Matt Ross-Sprang at Sam Phillips Recording; and what keeps touring exciting after more than two decades.

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BIG O MEMORIES: SNOW, STARS AND THAT RIOT
 
Posted: 31 Aug 2018, 3:00 pm

Claude Delorme pretty much saw it all in his 23 years working at Olympic Stadium as a Montreal Expos employee.

Sidebar_Delorme_140_200.JPGClaude Delorme spent 23 years at Olympic Stadium. (Courtesy Miami Marlins)

Delorme, now the Miami Marlins’ executive vice president of operations and events, started as an intern with the Expos in 1982. He gained valuable experience working across most departments in stadium operations before the Marlins hired him in 2005 to help develop their new ballpark in south Florida.  

At The Big O, Delorme experienced multiple roof collapses caused by snowstorms and ice storms, but one thing he’ll never forget is a date that became part of rock ‘n’ roll history: Aug. 8, 1992. On that night, the Guns N’ Roses/Metallica concert turned into a full-scale riot and a few thousand of the 53,000 attendees did their best to tear the stadium apart.

From the start to the early finish, things didn’t bode well for the facility management team.
First, Metallica guitarist James Hetfield suffered second-degree burns after a pyrotechnic display malfunctioned. The band cut its set short to so he could get medical attention.

Axl Rose, front man for GNR, then took things to a higher level of hysteria. Rose had been having difficulties with his voice on the tour. That helped lead up to the rock group ending its performance about one hour into its set. Delorme recalls Rose cursing the crowd before leaving the stage.

At the time, Delorme was the Expos’ director of concessions. As patrons started throwing chairs on the event floor, looting the team store and setting small fires in trash cans, it was Delorme’s job to keep his staff members calm and have them lock the doors as police did their best to push the troublemakers outside the stadium’s perimeter.

“They completely raided the team store,” he said. “There were three items left, [which] were hanging from the ceiling. It was probably the most serious incident I’ve seen … and it was caused by inappropriate behavior by the artist. That’s one I will definitely remember for a long time.”

Delorme worked his way up the Expos’ organization, starting with game services and the box office as manager of ticket distribution. He moved to concessions for about three years before being promoted to executive director of business operations, and later, vice president of business development.

The struggles with the first roof, a retractable unit, stick out in his mind, including the time it got stuck while officials were trying to close it during a rainstorm in the late 1980s. The malfunction came one day after the Expos made a big presentation to showcase the new movable structure, Delorme said.

Separately, Delorme remembers the effects of a major snowstorm in January 1991 as stadium officials were preparing to host the Montreal Auto Show.

“I was at the ballpark and all of a sudden there was a thunderous noise,” he said. “The Kevlar roof pierced and snow bulldozed in. That was a serious setback.”

There are fond memories as well, such as the 1982 Major League Baseball All-Star Game and the Pope’s visit to Olympic Stadium, both of which occurred during Delorme’s internship.

The building “was ahead of its time, and unfortunately it cost a lot of money,” he said. “But the design itself was very special.”


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SWIFT / JAY-Z AND BEYONCE PRESS ON
 
Posted: 30 Aug 2018, 10:15 pm

Bookings_-_Beyonce_-_Getty._300_200jpeg_.jpegBeyoncé’s On the Run II tour with Jay-Z grossed $13.8 million for two MetLife Stadium shows. (Getty Images)

Among the hottest acts on stage during 2018’s summertime stretch, two tours power their way to the top of the list: Taylor Swift’s massive Reputation stadium tour and On the Run II, Jay-Z and Beyoncé’s second joint trek in North America and Europe. Each tour owns five of the 10 highest-grossing Hot Tickets during the July 16-Aug. 15 time period.

Both tours scored their highest box office counts at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., with sellouts on multiple nights. Swift’s $22 million gross from her shows July 20-22 takes the No. 1 ranking in the category of venues over 15,000 seats. Jay-Z and Beyoncé land at No. 4 in the same category with their $13.8 million take at the New York-area stadium on Aug. 2-3.

Swift has now reached $188 million in sales from North American cities since kicking off her tour May 8. With 27 performances at 16 stadiums, the pop star has drawn over 1.4 million fans – and that’s just in the U.S. and Canada. She also played six shows in the U.K. and Ireland in June, but those totals have not yet been reported to VenuesNow affiliated publication Pollstar.

The overall gross for Jay-Z and Beyoncé tops $151 million based on box office reports from 29 shows at 23 venues. The couple moved 1.3 million tickets in the opening 15-city European leg of OTR II along with the first eight cities stateside. Four years ago, their inaugural On the Run co-headlining jaunt played 16 North American stadiums and one in Europe, grossing $109 million from 21 concerts.

More LIVE! highlights:
The journey-def leppard tour takes two slots in the 10,001-15,000 category on Hot Tickets with concerts at arenas in the Midwestern U.S. The bands have earned over $50 million so far this summer on their joint North American tour.

· Concerts by Dave Matthews Band, Jason Aldean and a co-headlining turn by Miranda Lambert and Little Big Town earn the Wharf Amphitheater in Orange Beach, Fla., the No. 1 ranking on Top Stops in the 10,001-15,000 group. Since April the venue has sold 51,724 tickets for six events.

· English singer-songwriter James Bay lands two shows on Hot Tickets from a brief Australian stint in July. He performed for sellout crowds at Sydney’s State Theatre and Hamer Hall in Melbourne, moving 4,229 tickets. 


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TULSA HOSPITALITY KNOWN WORLDWIDE
 
Posted: 30 Aug 2018, 10:10 pm

By the time U2 and crew rolled out of Tulsa after rehearsing and launching their 2018 tour at BOK Center, there was no doubt the Irish band had experienced Tulsa.

“We’ve built a reputation on our hospitality and going above and beyond,” said Casey Sparks, assistant general manager at BOK Center for SMG. “We don’t stop after the show is booked or even after it’s over.”

The group kicked off the tour May 2 at the arena.

As soon as they knew U2 would be in town for a week, BOK Center’s Brand Manager, Christina Foley, whose fulltime job is backstage hospitality, went to work. “I call her my Good Vibe Manager, because that’s what she does,” Sparks said. “It has become so much part of what we do, we needed someone to focus on it all the time.”

For U2, there were 100-plus people on the road crew and another 20 international press. BOK Center staff began by checking with the tour manager on available downtimes when the crew would not be working.

“We rented the retro bowling alley in town and had a private party for them there. We took care of everything. They were able to experience a little of Tulsa, and get out of the hotel room. Every day, we had a different type of sweet treat for them,” Sparks said.

Sparks admitted it was “a very stressful week, but rewarding. By the time these people left, they were like family to us.”

3_200_260.jpgTutorial on some of the hospitality BOK Center rolled out for U2. (Courtesy BOK Center)

Jim McCue, SMG’s senior vice president of entertainment, is impressed with the BOK Center’s hospitality, to a point he uses it as a best practice at the firm’s marketing, operations and GM meetings.

“If you were backstage with the tour, you knew you were in Tulsa,” McCue said. “It’s plastered all over walls and floors They went out of their way to make international fans feel welcome and there’s no denying it also created a social media buzz about the show and the town.”


That is part of the strategy, said Jeff Nickler, GM of BOK Center. They have a very strong presence on social media, and as much of it comes from backstage as from front of house.
Sparks calls it their 360 marketing approach. “When a tour comes through here, because of the things we do backstage and the things we do if they’re staying multiple days, they have become an extension of our marketing team. We’ve created so many Instagram moments backstage, the crew and artists can’t help themselves. They have to post about it. In time, no matter where you are in the world, you get exposed to Tulsa in some way. Who better to endorse your city than rock stars?”

Niall Horan was just in town and research showed he is a golf fanatic, Sparks said. “We rented a huge mini golf set that spanned the entire back hallway for him. He loved it so much, he ‘Instagrammed’ it and said, ‘you know the way to our hearts.’”

Pink loved the marquee backstage that can display different messages, particularly Tulsa + Queen BadAss = Funhouse. That one made Redbook magazine.

The return on investment is that shows keep coming back and the arena gets more rehearsals than most, Sparks said. “When we went all out for Madonna, I’m betting that’s how we got U2 and Justin Timberlake.” She is fortunate in that the way the account is set up, she has some leeway in the budget.

Now the question BOK Center officials have is how they’re going to top those key moments for concerts.

To that end, three years ago, BOK Center started a “Gift Bible.” It contains a log of all they’ve done for past shows, particularly artists coming back for the fifth and sixth time, as well as ideas they hope to implement some day.

Her personal favorite is now U2. It was hard to see them go after a week of getting to know them so well.

She will never forget the day U2 Tour Manager Ciaran Flaherty came to her and said, “I want to know if anybody on my team mistreats anybody on your team. We do not tolerate that. U2, the band, does not tolerate that. Let me know immediately.”

“To hear that kind of support and respect from them made you want to work even harder for them and that’s what we did,” Sparks said.

And that’s the definition of Tulsa culture. “We want our team to take risks,” she said. “We understand and appreciate and teach that when shows come in here, this is not our building, this is their building for the day. We’re here to serve them, we have a serving mentality.”

SMG has also invested in backstage hospitality areas, like the “secret” Speakeasy Room, the promoter game room and hospitality rooms, and a backstage gym for the artists. It’s all about creating the right vibe.

“We worked hard to create a memorable and dynamic backstage experience from art on the walls to the experience in dressing rooms,” Nickler said. “We have three major Green Rooms, named after local legends — Garth Brooks, Woody Guthrie and Leon Russell. We do everything we can to talk and promote our history here.”

ALSO: Tulsa Sells Tickets: Celebrating 10 years, Oklahoma's BOK Center is telling the world its story


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TULSA SELLS TICKETS
 
Posted: 30 Aug 2018, 10:10 pm

The Cesar Pelli-designed BOK Center has revitalized downtown Tulsa, Okla. (Courtesy BOK Center)

BOK Center, Tulsa, Okla., is the “perfect example of what an arena is supposed to do in a community,” says Jeff Nickler, general manager there for SMG. The 19,000-seat, $189 million arena which opened in 2008 has literally transformed downtown Tulsa to an arts and entertainment mecca.

Nickler, who was assistant general manager there when the venue opened and became GM in 2014, said the arena has been the catalyst for $1 billion of private development downtown in the past decade and there is another $1 billion to come.

Nickler_300_200.JPGJeff Nickler has been GM of BOK Center since 2014 and was assistant general manager when it opened in 2008.

“It is dramatic,” he said of the new Tulsa. Once the city saw the success of BOK Center, which was considered too big for the market at the time it was conceived, leaders approved construction of Oneok Field, home of the Tulsa Drillers minor league baseball team, downtown. At the same time, the arts and entertainment district blossomed.

“We’re talking hundreds of restaurants and bars plus nine new hotels in downtown Tulsa since we opened,” Nickler said.

Three years ago, the light dawned at city hall and at the arena that they were no longer striving to be the next Nashville or Austin, both music cities. “We’re the next Tulsa,” Nickler said.

Tulsa has a very rich music history, starting with Cain’s Ballroom (1,800 capacity) and the Brady Theater (2,500 seats), both legendary plays. The new builds have created an “authentic, cool vibe, all locally developed themes and authentic Tulsa brands,” Nickler said.

Through the recent change in a bunch of Oklahoma laws, craft breweries are now legal, “so we have had 10 pop up just in the last 18 months in the city,” he added.

Included in the next billion-dollar makeover is a $40-million pop culture museum called OK Pop, which will house collections of famous musicians, actors and actresses with Tulsa connections, like Garth Brooks, Carrie Underwood, Flaming Lips and Kristin Chenoweth. It opens in 2020.

TELLING THE STORY WORLDWIDE
The local community has embraced BOK Center wholeheartedly, taking ownership so to speak.

Ticket sales are top of the charts, making BOK Center perennially in the Top 15 venues in the world in its size category in Pollstar rankings.

Premium seating is a big seller as well. Capital investments over the past decade have totaled an additional $70 million, adding an additional 16 suites and more hospitality areas, bars and lounges. “All of our inventory sold out when we opened the building so we had this giant waiting list,” Nickler said. 

Now, they are in the process of installing $5 million in technology upgrades that will add a free public WiFi system from Cox Communications, and a new outdoor marquee and new video boards from Daktronics. Improvements are funded by operating profits of the building.

Nickler said the operating budget for BOK Center is approximately $15 million. There are 109 fulltime SMG staffers who also manage the Cox Business Center for the city.

“First and foremost this is a concert venue,” Nickler said of revenue generated. “We promote it as such. This is the place in Oklahoma for concerts. Profits for the city of Tulsa are driven by concerts, advertising and sponsorship and premium seating.”

The community’s desire and support for live music is critical. The city has an elaborate and diverse musical history and “Cain’s Ballroom has cultivated a lifestyle where people embrace and support live music in this community. It’s a unique thing,” Nickler said.

Now, BOK Center is adding new chapters to that rich musical history. Whether it’s Cain’s Ballroom or BOK Center, it is the same message, Tulsa is live music.

“In a perfect world, artists grow through our venues. With Twenty One Pilots and Imagine Dragons, that has happened. They first played the 1,200-cap room, then the 2,500-seat theater and now are playing the 19,000-seat arena,” Nickler said.

His three-pronged message to promoters and agents when booking the venue has been the same for awhile now:

• Track record of ticket sales. This is a top 15 market for ticket sales, even if it’s 47th largest in terms of population. “No other venue, no other play within 200 miles sells more concert tickets. That’s been a fact since we opened in 2008,” Nickler said.

• Exceptional hospitality for touring shows. “Because of that a lot of tour managers have chosen to rehearse and launch tours here. U2 launched in May and Fleetwood Mac will launch in September,” Nickler said. (see related story)

• An open calendar. With no professional sports team, BOK Center’s calendar is wide open, more or less, with a lot of time to host tours for rehearsals or launches.

Poster_wall_300_200.jpgA wall displays the breadth of big acts that have played the Tulsa arena. (Courtesy BOK Center)

With 150 event days on the books, there is something for everyone, but SMG is cognizant of the fact some cannot afford to attend concerts at BOK Center. As part of their mission to get community buy-in, BOK Center has activated the outdoor experience of family-type events at a price point everyone can afford.

The marquee outdoor event is Winterfest, which means closing the streets for 50-plus days and building a 9,000-sq.-ft. outdoor ice rink. Winterfest features live entertainment, a giant Christmas tree, horse and carriage rides and ice skating and draws, on average, 135,000 people a year to the venue.

In-house outdoor productions have grown so big BOK Center has a two-person department dedicated to special events. That was John Bolton’s vision when he was GM prior to Nickler. Bolton has since moved up to VP of Entertainment for SMG Worldwide. The program has grown to include 68 outdoor event days annually.

For example, two sold-out nights of George Strait, June 1-2, as part of BOK’s 10th anniversary concert series, were accompanied by two free outdoor street parties with live entertainment, food trucks, party tents and bars. “We welcomed 14,000 people a day to outdoor street parties for five hours prior to the concert on both days,” Nickler said.

All special events are sponsor driven. Nickler said they do five or six major parties a year and “it’s not just shutting down the street and putting a beer truck out there.” Budgets range from $75,000 to $250,000 for an elaborate event like Winterfest. “We’re talking about closing a city block and putting giant tents and infrastructure out there with a mobile stage and sound and lights. It’s a full-scale production outside.”

For the 10-year anniversary, BOK Center has gone big with its 10-for-10 concert series, featuring 10 blockbuster artists for 12 sold out shows, resulting in ticket sales of 135,000 grossing $23 million. The series, which runs through January, started with Blake Shelton, Pink, Justin Timberlake, U2, the Eagles, Imagine Dragons, and two nights of George Strait. Coming up are two nights of Bruno Mars, Fleetwood Mac, Metallica and Elton John.

“That’s quite a lineup. We worked hard to tie these into a yearlong celebration of the building,” Nickler said. Each announcement, all done separately, has served to increase the media coverage and the excitement in Tulsa.

Phil_Clarkin_200_300.jpgPanic! at the Disco took the BOK Center stage for a recent show. (Courtesy BOK Center)

It’s no accident BOK Center is one of SMG’s top performing venues in North America. “They have made it a must-play market through hard work and attention to detail,” said Jim McCue, SMG’s senior vice president of entertainment. “They were the leader in the new generation of Midwest arenas. They set the tone for buildings like Pinnacle Bank Arena, which opened in 2014 with Jason Aldean, and Jason again in Sioux Falls [Denny Sanford Premier Center]. Tulsa kind of led the way for some Midwest markets that became must play markets because they sold tickets.”

Most striking about BOK Center, though, is that the community takes ownership, not a sports team or the mayor or SMG, McCue said. “Everybody is proud of that success,” he said. “That community engagement is something we try to create in every new building that we do.”

“We were so well prepared with a plan and system when we opened; you only have one chance to make a first impression,” Nickler added. “We operated well from the beginning and enjoyed this success. The expertise of SMG being here long before the building opened to make sure it went flawlessly was important.”

Nickler credits the promoters and agents who support the arena, including Live Nation’s Bob Roux and Doug Clouse.

“Bob believed in the market 10 years ago,” Nickler said. “He uses Tulsa as an example of what could be. You can’t tell a story about us without talking about Bob.”

Clouse booked Celine Dion at BOK Center in 2008, when he was at AEG, before it even had a seating map. She was the arena’s first announced show.

No one has forgotten that when they were talking about a 19,000-seat arena in Tulsa 10 years ago, people thought the city was crazy. “That’s what we had to overcome. People thought ‘Why Tulsa?’” Nickler said.

Now they know.

ALSO: Tulsa Hospitality Known Worldwide


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LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION
 
Posted: 30 Aug 2018, 10:05 pm

Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland will get a new glass-enclosed entrance as part of a $140 million project. (Courtesy Quicken Loans Arena)

Around the world, arenas continue to be developed and redeveloped with an emphasis on their place in their larger communities. Rather than being staged as isolated bowls in vast parking lots, arenas are situated as part of mixed-use projects with offices, retail outlets, restaurants, hotels, public spaces and more, anchoring new neighborhoods that prove transformative. The trend shows no sign of slowing, says Jon Niemuth, director of AECOM Sports, Americas.

“The biggest trend is less about the venue specifically and more about the ways the projects (the few remaining ‘ground up’ ones) are being developed,” Niemuth says. “The idea that the arena is part of a larger district which incorporates discreet program components which were once more emphasized internal to the venue is a visible trend.” 

The broadening role of arenas in their communities is only one of several influential trends reshaping the field and directing the work of the professionals that oversee arena development, management and refurbishment. Inside, arenas are changing to accommodate the rapidly changing preferences and habits of the audiences who fill them.

“The hospitality industry constantly reinvents itself to remain relevant to its customer base,” says Don Barnum, group global sports leader at DLR. “Similarly, the event industry must refresh their venues every few years to introduce new themes, viewing and entertainment options, and offerings that enhance the fan experience.”

Venue veterans explain some of the key trends affecting the arena industry.

PREMIUM SEATING MIXES
Seating in arenas continues to reflect an increasing diversity of premium seating products, particularly in larger arenas such as NBA venues, says Gerardo Prado, sports practice leader and vice president at HNTB.

“You will start to see more renovations where depressed seating inventory (general seats) are being replaced with premium seating products, more club/social areas, with diverse vantage points,” Prado says. “For the professional model, similar to stadiums, there is a primary focus on revenue-generation to increase profits but also provide a better fan experience to a wider demographic. The days of simply having suites, club seats, and courtside seats are gone. We have social zones with loge seating, upscale seating, etc. with dedicated club lounge spaces and/or social gathering areas.”
Barnum says the key to maximizing revenue for seating inventory is identifying the best mix of inventory for each program and market -- there is no one-size-fits-all strategic solution.

“Suites are becoming less popular due to tax laws and corporate appetite and are being replaced by club and other social-type spaces that allow a larger demographic to buy a premium experience at a lower price point,” Barnum says. “As far as real estate within an arena, suites and clubs are interchangeable. A suite level can be easily transformed into a club area, and vice versa if industry demand changes course. Loge boxes are also gaining popularity and provide spectators with a small designated space to view the game with access to a larger shared lounge area. To provide the appropriate mix of premium options, owners must examine the demographics specific to their marketplace.”

Prado says the right premium seating strategy can accommodate revenue opportunities when no major events are scheduled.

“To further drive revenue, HNTB has taken an approach to designing slightly larger, flexible club lounge spaces to allow the arenas and stadiums to not only be utilized on game day, but rented out for a variety of events,” Prado says. “Providing higher square foot per patron allocations within club lounge areas, beyond the code minimums, provides owners with much more flexibility in the utilization of space and allows them to turn the areas into a 365-day-a-year operation.”

Barnum said arena operators also are looking for more ways to give fans closer access to performers and athletes.

“In most professional and collegiate basketball arenas, fans can purchase seats where their feet are actually on the hardwood,” Barnum says. “With this close proximity, fans can high five and fist bump their favorite players before, during, and after the game. Other venues are adding event-level lounge spaces where teams pass through from the locker room to the court, which is another level of fan engagement that can also increase revenue-generating opportunities for teams and venue owners.”

SOCIAL SPACES
In key ways, social spaces that give fans a diversity of options for ways to experience an event continue to define the design of arenas on the inside.

“It’s all about dwell time now,” says Michael Rowe, CEO of Anthony James Partners, which serves as an owner’s representative and provides AV design and consulting. “They want you to come and spend the day at the facility. They want you to come before the event happens and they want you to stay well after the event is over. … They want you to be able to access clubs and activities on non-event days and non-event times.”

Dickies_Arena_North_300_165.jpgDickies Arena is scheduled to open in Fort Worth, Texas, in fall 2019. (Courtesy Dickies Arena)

Barnum says more arena owners are removing seats to allow for the creation of social spaces, sacrificing the potential seat revenue for the development of a relaxed setting -- reducing capacity to add new environments. Barnum compares the arena industry’s recent steps to entertain fans in myriad ways to the way minor league baseball for decades has treated fans to a varied spectacle that prizes promotions and interactions rather than relegating fans to passive spectators.

“Facility owners recognize that people no longer want to sit and watch an entire game from their assigned seat,” Barnum says. “They want to be able to move around the arena, charge their phone, interact with their friends, or even catch another game on a big screen at a lounge or bar area.”

Michael Holleman, leader of the sports design studio for CBRE | Heery, said the college landscape has seen changes in the way venues fit into the larger college campus atmosphere throughout the year. Just as professional arenas are becoming more integrated into their neighborhoods, college venues are becoming less isolated from everyday student life, he said. Flexible social spaces are key.

“College sports arenas offer vast opportunities for the institutions to utilize the venue space year-round. For example, new designs are transforming arena concessions into year-round food courts. In the offseason, a concourse can be transformed into a student lounge and club suites adjusted to accommodate conferences and meetings.”

CONSTRUCTION AND COSTS
A host of trends are affecting the construction process and altering the way arenas are funded and priced — and therefore built.

For instance, Prado says that news reports are beginning to suggest that the impact of tariffs on some imported construction materials, such as steel, could lead to spikes in costs and increases in budgets.

“Since structural steel is common on large span structures for roofs, building structural systems, etc., the new tariffs will likely increase project budgets and/or demand more functional, efficient buildings and/or smaller buildings that have aggressive budgets,” Prado said.

Prado said that he is “worried that with the increases in construction costs and operations costs, clients will be forced to make compromises on the overall size of projects (less square footage), possibly compromising on the overall quality and operational functionality of the venue. With the demands imposed to improve the live fan experience, it requires more diverse seating offerings, larger concourses, better amenities. This, in turn, impacts and increases square footage and the areas most impacted are the back-of-house areas, which are necessary for the proper operation and maintenance of the facility.”

On the finance side, Niemuth said “the erosion of public subsidy across all spectrums combined with an increasing amount of either clients and/or team ownership with the financial ability to deliver their own projects independent of traditional public underwriting will transform the attitude towards venues in the largest way.”

“A heightened focus on financial sustainability which directly translates into a different attitude towards building size, complexity, etc., will change the model for which designers create buildings,” Niemuth said. “This new approach puts specific focus on relationship of function, revenue generation, and operations to a degree not seen in previous generations of venue development. The natural introduction of more [public-private partnership]-focused project models and associated delivery models allow for adoption of similarly more efficient and effective finance and program management models.”

“We see the trend towards more frequent transformations and ongoing improvements to projects to keep either venue component parts or specific experiences fresh and aligned to market trends of the moment,” Niemuth said. “We continue to explore how a supposed shorter phase approach to refreshing a building will impact new construction and project finance.”


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LOONIE TUNES: SHIFTING EXCHANGE RATE WITH THE U.S. COMPLICATES BOOKINGS
 
Posted: 30 Aug 2018, 10:00 pm

Canadian venue owners say one of the biggest issues they face is continued weakness in that nation’s currency, especially vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar.

This complicates booking American acts and making revenue guarantees to artists in U.S. dollars. As of August, it took about CA$1.30 to equal one American dollar.  This is down 20 percent from five years ago, when the two currencies were trading almost at parity.

The Canadian dollar, known as the loonie after the loon bird on the dollar coin, has fallen almost 10 percent over the past year against the U.S. dollar due to tensions over trade deals with the U.S. and as the greenback has been strengthening against most major world currencies.

If the Canadian currency continues losing value, that means ticket prices have to go higher or venues would have to cede more revenue to artists’ demands.

“It’s tougher this year than in the past,” said Dan Glick, senior director of concerts and events for Evenko, which books for Montreal’s MTelus and Corona Theatre. “There are situations where an act is expecting a certain amount in U.S. dollars and if we don’t feel we’re able to get there with the ticket price we think is best, then they may pass and come back.”

Kevin Donnelly, senior vice president of venues and entertainment for True Sports Entertainment, which owns and operates Bell MTS Place and Burton Cummings Theatre in Winnipeg, agreed, saying, “We have lost acts for sure. There have been tours that routed or called for avails and you try to make it work, but you know through the process the guarantee in U.S. funds transferred into Canadian tips the cart upside down — it pushes prices too high or is above what we can offer them.”

And Donnelly is not hopeful this situation will change anytime soon: “Talent fees are not going down in America, and we’re asked to meet that.”

Andrew Nash, general manager of the Abbotsford Centre in British Columbia says the math is easy to figure out, but doesn’t always add up to a successful show: “When you tack on 30 percent or more (to ticket prices in Canadian dollars), that’s how many tickets you have to sell or the price has to be higher. At what point does that ticket price become so outrageous the customer isn’t going to purchase it?”

The exception seems to be Canada’s top ticket taker of the past year: Scotiabank Arena in Toronto. Melissa Bubb-Clark, head of music partnerships and live entertainment with the arena’s owner and operator, Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment, said, “We’re super-sensitive to our fans, but I don’t believe it’s affected our business. I think Toronto may be somewhat insulated more than smaller markets.”

There aren’t many currency hedges, but Abbotsford’s Nash is trying to tap into a market where the exchange rate may be an enticement — just a few miles south of the venue: “I can literally see the (U.S.) border from the building. We do market in the area, Americans make up about 5 to 8 percent of (our) fans depending on the show (and) their money is worth 30 percent more.”


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WILL NATIONAL LEGALIZATION OF MARIJUANA BRING CHANGE FOR CANADIAN VENUES?
 
Posted: 30 Aug 2018, 10:00 pm

Cannabis will be legal for personal consumption Oct. 17, but regulations at the local level are still being set. (Getty Images)

“Legalize it!” Peter Tosh wailed in the mid-1970s. More than four decades later Canada became just the second nation to legalize recreational cannabis.

And on Oct. 17, it will be legal for adults 18 and older to legally grow, buy and sell small amounts of cannabis for personal consumption in Canada. Edibles will not be available for at least another year.

Regulations at the local and province level are still being hashed out, and several venue executives were loath to speak about the issue or share their plans before the legal street date. Still, legal marijuana likely means a bigger presence at concerts and events, so enterprising venues may also see more cash in the till.

Smoking is not allowed in public spaces in Canada, so firing up while in the venue will still be frowned upon by the authorities.  But some venue operators expect that some accommodation will be made in designated outdoor smoking spaces to include marijuana alongside tobacco products.

“I don’t anticipate being able to sell (marijuana) like draft beer,” mused Andrew Nash, general manager with Spectra Venue Management, which operates the Abbotsford Centre in Abbotsford, British Columbia. But he adds, “I think there’s opportunity on the music and presentation side even if you’re not smoking in the arena.”

Nash says the executive team of the nearly 8,000-seat venue near Vancouver has been getting pointers from a sister facility in Everett, Wash., that went through this process when that U.S. state legalized cannabis in 2012.

While it’s not yet clear how Canadian authorities will regulate cannabis sales for venues, Washington state does not allow alcohol license owners to sell marijuana.

Another potential pitfall would be Canadian officials treating marijuana the same as tobacco products, which concerns Nash, who worries it would stymie streams of revenue from advertising, activation and sponsorships.

Nash goes as far as envisioning naming rights: “What if Cannabis Kings wants to come and put their name on the building? Then what? If they come cash in hand,” the Abbotsford executive pauses, adding, “I have to imagine we’re not the only ones having this conversation. As of Oct. 17, what’s the difference between Molson and Labatt’s or Cannabis Kings?

“I think it will hopefully increase our ability to generate alternative revenue through sponsorships. …The perception has changed from when the (Grateful) Dead was around to now. I’m sure someone is ready and waiting to cash in on it.”

Marijuana tourism has become a boon for some U.S. states, and executives at several venues near the border say they would welcome additional visits from Americans looking to spend their greenbacks, which stretch some 30 percent further in Canada given the favorable exchange rate.

“I think it’s a matter of time before that shows itself in numbers,” predicted Kevin Donnelly, senior vice president of venues and entertainment for True North Sports and Entertainment, which owns and operates Bell MTS Place and Burton Cummings Theatre in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

He added, “(First) it’ll be college kids coming up from border campuses. I think it’s a thing of the future and it’ll be interesting to see what kind of volume we get and hopefully they get treated well on the way home (re-entering the U.S.).”


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TRADING UP
 
Posted: 30 Aug 2018, 10:00 pm

In This Moment peforms at Abbotsford Centre in Abbotsford, British Columbia. (Jamie Taylor)

Canada’s economy is booming, and the concert turnstiles are spinning in record fashion for many of the country’s venues regardless of geography or capacity.

“Hot!” “Extremely strong!” “Our overall calendar is booming!” Those are superlatives that venue executives used to describe a record-setting Canadian market that’s peaking like the snow-capped Rockies, and operators note a number of trends working in their favor that may result in even more records falling over the next 12 months.

Venues are booking longer stays or more consecutive shows to fill the dark days when anchor tenants are inactive, ticket prices have firmed up and help offset a sagging Canadian dollar, and artists are stepping up their games with more elaborate shows even in smaller venues.

Plus there are some unique marketing ploys paying dividends, and then there’s a new “green” initiative on the horizon with legal cannabis sales slated to begin nationwide on Oct. 17 (see related story).

Stay, Just a Little Bit Longer
Longer stays at venues large and small have helped boost box office and ease concerns over fewer booked days.

“We’ve seen more acts coming for a couple of nights, bigger acts including The National, P.J. Harvey, and they’ve all sold out,” at MTelus and the smaller Corona Theatre in Montreal, said Dan Glick, senior director of concerts and events for Evenko, which books for both venues.

Toronto’s Scotiabank Arena, which changed its name from Air Canada Centre earlier this year, opened in 1999 but just notched its first seven-night run in late 2017, featuring Guns N’ Roses, Katy Perry and Janet Jackson, and capped off by Canadian alternative rockers Arcade Fire. The star power filled seats; Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment execs say it represented 10 percent of annual attendance in calendar ’17, raking in $9.4 million (Canadian).

And the venue continues adding more multinight runs. Tricia Silliphant, senior director of music and live events for MLSE, which owns and operates the venue, said, “It’s helpful to be in a strong market such as Toronto, which can support multiple show days. We do try and encourage multiple days versus going to secondary markets to avoid loading in and out.”

Bieber_200_300.JPGJustin Bieber was among the acts playing Bell MTS Place in Winnipeg, Manitoba. (Courtesy Bell MTS Place)

That is not music to the ears of venue operators in the heartland such as Kevin Donnelly, senior vice president of venues and entertainment with True North Sports and Entertainment, which owns and operates Bell MTS Place and Burton Cummings Theatre in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

“We’re trying to buck against that trend and remind tours that the Great White North can be a great place to come and spend some quality time, not just Toronto and Vancouver, but across the country,” Donnelly said. Other cities “have strong economies, employment levels and great arenas and are really capable of hosting shows.”


Record Runs
Some 1,400 miles due west in British Columbia, the Abbotsford Centre is riding the suburban expansion outside of neighboring Vancouver, 45 miles to the northwest, to some strong runs of its own. The venue broke a record with an eight-show run by Cirque du Soleil that sold 25,000 tickets. The venue bookended that with Shinedown and a sold-out Steve Miller/Peter Frampton twin bill to pack in 35,000 people in 10 days.

Andrew Nash, general manager with Spectra Venue Management, which operates the Abbotsford Centre, says these block bookings are crucial as the 9-year-old venue works to establish itself with tours as a viable addition, or alternative, to Vancouver.

It’s also key since there hasn’t been a major tenant since the Calgary Flames’ minor league ice hockey team, the Heat, left in 2014 after five seasons.

“The ability to convince some acts to choose Abbotsford over staying downtown in Vancouver” helps book more dates, Nash said, adding that an influx of young professionals and their families fleeing Vancouver’s housing costs into the Fraser Valley helps support higher ticket prices for high-profile shows.

“Jerry Seinfeld made a stop here in December and broke our single attendance record for paid tickets and gross ticket sales — the average ticket price was CA$99 and it sold out in less than a day,” Nash said. He adds that Seinfeld beat the record set earlier in 2017 by the I Love the 90s Tour with Salt-N-Pepa and Vanilla Ice — “the suburban type of show.”

Fans at the 2,350 seat MTelus in Montreal paid top dollar and broke a gross box office record to see Sting in an intimate setting in March 2017. “It was one night and sold out instantly,” recalled Evenko’s Glick. “It was amazing, that caliber act playing so closely to everyone in the room.” Fans paid CA$127 for general admission and CA$162 for reserve balcony.

Weaker Canadian Currency = Higher Ticket Prices
Higher ticket prices have become a reality across Canada, and it’s not just because of inflation from an economic boom. The Canadian dollar has been sliding against the U.S. dollar (down nearly 10 percent over the past year) because of tensions over trade deals with the U.S. and as the greenback has firmed against most major world currencies.

Jacques Aubé, chief operating officer for Evenko and executive manager of MTelus and the Corona, called out the currency exchange as the biggest challenge for the industry. “It is more expensive for us to buy (American) shows when the Canadian dollar is lower,” he said.

That said, venue operators note that artists are stepping up their on-set games by offering more elaborate and interesting sets.  Plus venues are offering more VIP offerings, all in a bid to enhance the live experience and help mitigate the higher entry fees.

“Tours coming through our doors are now more complex. Adaptability to meet those needs is important — 20 trucks coming to the backstage is the norm now” at Scotiabank Arena, said Melissa Bubb-Clark, head of music partnerships and live entertainment with the venue’s owner, MLSE.

This is true of smaller venues such as MTelus and the Corona Theatre as well, just on a smaller scale. “Touring bands are traveling with more sound and lights to enhance the production of the show,” said Evenko’s Glick. “The acts are investing in their shows. … Some of these acts will be touring with two trucks, which is a lot for these clubs.”

The VIP Treatment
Scotiabank_Arena_J300_160.jpgScotiabank Arena touts the Toronto market's strength as it seeks to book acts for multinight runs. (Courtesy Scotiabank Arena)

Venues are offering more exclusive and expensive experiences for fans, which also lifts revenue. Silliphant said Scotiabank Arena actively promotes the VIP treatment: “People are willing to pay (more) for a unique experience, and most artists are now monetizing to satisfy demand — early entry, exclusive merch, food and beverage, presales and access to better seats — but all of that is artist driven.”

Nash says Abbotsford uses its premium lounge for add-on experiences. “We’ll either do a dinner package with a chef, they come in an exclusive entrance, and typically get whatever the artist is eating that night,” he said, adding, “We can also make it a craft beer or whiskey lounge and bring in a partner, offering flights of beer or whiskey.”

A number of venue executives mentioned VIP ticketing as a perk that’s playing well in their markets. True North’s Donnelly said, “Variable pricing and platinum sales are changing the buying pattern of when people buy, not just how much they’ll pay. There’s always a ticket available for that show. … (Fans) may pay more money, but that’s the price of convenience.”

That refrain may become more familiar for venue operators who see evolving dynamic pricing extending record runs for Canadian venues.


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SECURITY TIP OF THE MONTH
 
Posted: 30 Aug 2018, 10:00 pm

There has been increased chatter that terrorists may try to use cars or trucks carrying improvised explosive devices to carry out mass-casualty attacks.

Suspicious activity campaigns should incorporate pre-incident behaviors and indicators such as:

• Vehicles unusually or illegally parked or unusual vehicles parked in authorized areas.

• Missing, mismatched, or expired licensen plates, registration stickers or inspection decals.

• Missing or altered vehicle identification number.

• Vehicle laden beyond normal capacity, in weight or amount of cargo.

• Cargo concealed or obscured by a tarp or tinted window.

• Interior parts missing.

• Interior that appears tampered with or unusually altered (misaligned panels, missing screws or fasteners, missing or ill-fitting seats).

• Aftermarket products, which may be used to conceal IEDs or related components.


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RECRUITING TIP OF THE MONTH
 
Posted: 30 Aug 2018, 10:00 pm

September is an exhilarating time of the year for sports and entertainment, with the MLB and MLS nearing the end of their regular seasons, the NFL in full swing and the NBA and NHL gearing up. With all these moving parts, recruiting can, and does, get tricky!

One of the most crucial things we look for from our candidates is transparency in all aspects of the search process. There are various factors to consider when pursuing a new opportunity, both personally and professionally. People need to focus not only on their transition to a new role but also on making sure the transition at home is feasible as well. 

As we all know, timing is everything, especially if you have children, because the school
year is about to begin. Is your significant other comfortable with the relocation and will they be able to secure a new job in this new city?

Whether it is communicating directly with the recruiter or hiring manager, it is extremely important to be as communicative and honest as possible. At the end of the day, placement firms are here to help you make the next and right step for you and your career. Be honest with us, and we will be honest with you.


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ARENA HAS HELPED DRIVE GROWTH, REVENUE
 
Posted: 30 Aug 2018, 10:00 pm

Proof that San Jose is on a growth trajectory is Microsoft’s purchase last year of 65 undeveloped acres in the northern part of the city for $73 million.

SAP Center can take some credit for that. It helped start a revitalization in the heart of the city when it came to town.

“We’re located in downtown San Jose and considered a driver of downtown’s resurgence,” said Jim Goddard, executive vice president, governmental affairs. “The street scene and restaurants have grown since we opened in 1993.”

According to a 2016 article in the Silicon Valley Business Journal, each game played by the NHL’s San Jose Sharks at the arena is estimated to contribute $2 million to the local economy in both direct and indirect spending outside the walls of SAP Center.

“That figure is estimated to have grown in the last two years,” said John Tortora, co-president of the Sharks. 

In addition to a record number of concerts, SAP Center is hosting the NHL All-Star Game weekend in January, which is expected to mean 7,500 to 10,000 local hotel rooms booked for the three-day event.

“We average more than 150 events per year,” Tortora said. “We have national-level events that bring tourists from all over America to San Jose; the impact on the city is real.

“With the city’s economic development project, the economic impact of SAP Center has been $4 billion in just the last 10 years.” 


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IN MEMORIUM: TERRY BASSETT 1938-2018
 
Posted: 30 Aug 2018, 10:00 pm

Chuck Negron, when he was with Three Dog Night, and Terry Bassett when he was Concerts West. (Courtesy Carl Dunn)

When Tony Tavares was running Providence (R.I.) Civic Center in the '70s and 80s, he met a national promoter who was above the fray, whom everyone loved, who didn’t bitch and moan at settlement, and who became a close friend in what was generally a cutthroat business. That promoter was Terry Bassett.

Bassett, who died July 26 at the age of 80 and was best known for his years helming Concerts West with partners Tom Hulett and Jerry Weintraub, was a people person. He knew how to promote, and he knew how to play and he made life easier and more interesting for a whole generation of up-and-coming promoters and often-unappreciated venue managers.

“Terry had this unique blend. We’re in a people business and he more than anybody was the first guy I saw who had mastered it – he could talk to anybody,” said Irving Azoff, Azoff Music. “He had the power of persuasion, he had the golden tongue. Whether he was talking to an artist or a CEO or whoever. You can tell from the outpouring of all those Concerts West people, that he could recognize talent, executive talent; all those people are still doing great. He nurtured people and nurtured artists. He really cared.”

Mike McGee, BarMac Consulting, first met Bassett 48 years ago when McGee was running the Monroe (La.) Civic Center and Bassett was promoting Three Dog Night. McGee was new to the business and just 23. That scenario plays over and over again with Bassett, who was generally less than 10 years senior to the future leaders he mentored.

“Terry was doing things early on that others followed. I always felt Terry was on top of the game, unassuming, not over the top like ‘look how smart I am.’ He was just steady,” said McGee, who is consulting for Smart Financial Centre, Sugar Land, Texas. “There was always a sincerity about him you don’t find in a business like that, then or now, for the most part. He just had a unique quality about him.”

And he made it easy for the venue manager. Claire Rothman, who was running the Fabulous Forum, Inglewood, Calif., when Bassett was most active, was “fascinated by him and I fell in love with him. He was so sweet, loving and fun … and easy to work with.

“He told you what he needed, and you told him how much of it you could do and there was never any argument,” Rothman recalled. Sometimes, promoters would request letting fans rush the stage when the act came on, for the thrill of it all. “You really can’t do that, it’s not safe for the audience,” Rothman said, but with Terry even that discussion would be positive, like letting just the first three rows come up. With all the lights in his face, the artist can’t really tell the difference.

“Things like that, he was easy to work with,” Rothman said.  “And he was an honorable man.”

Even more than that, he had some very important artists, “that’s the first thing. Second, he did everything he could to please the artist while recognizing that the person in charge of the building had the responsibility of the safety of the audience,” Rothman recalled. “Our whole group always looked forward to a date when Terry would be there because it was a happy time without a lot of stress.”

Tavares totally agreed.

Image2_300_200.jpgBo Diddley with Terry Bassett backstage. (Courtesy Carl Dunn)

“Terry was such an interesting guy. If we go back in time when I first got started in the business, back then the business of being a promoter was not exactly for the faint of heart. Those were tough times. It was highly competitive. There was a lot of snippiness and a lot of rough guys in the business and, interestingly, no one ever had a negative word to say about Terry. That is nothing short of stunning,” Tavares said.

Especially given that Concerts West was the first real national promoter in a business based on regional, well-respected territories. “No one invaded territories, but these guys did. But I can honestly say I never heard a negative word about Terry, never,” Tavares said.

Azoff believes that is because Bassett would partner with important local promoters and because he was everybody’s friend. “There were artists who wanted consistency of marketing and everything being done the same every night. I think he softened the message a little bit,” Azoff said.

Dave Furano, currently with Rock &Brews restaurant chain, met Bassett in the early 70s when he was working for Bill Graham Presents, also a national promoter, but with a much more limited roster. “We would pay each other a toll when we passed through each other’s cities.” He recalled how Concerts West and Jerry Weintraub’s Management III worked directly with the bands and the buildings eliminating all the middle guys.

“They could offer bands more bottom line and that’s why they got the big tours,” Furano said of a scenario that sounds commonplace today but was highly innovative in the ’70s.

And Bassett knew the business inside and out. There was a “Bassett Way of Doing Business,” said Milt Arenson, Fanatics. Arenson started working for Bassett at Facility Merchandising Inc. in the late '70s.

“I was just a 20-year-old kid, played ball, just come out to California. I met Terry and we got back together when FMI started. He was one of the founding partners of FMI with Irving Azoff, Howard Kaufman, and Bob Geddes,” Arenson recalled.

“Howard Kaufman gave me my opportunity to get into the business, which I’m forever grateful for. But I’d unequivocally say that as a 22–year–old with eyes wide open in a business that can send a lot of people in the wrong direction, Terry Bassett was a real mentor to me,” Arenson said.

“He taught me a lot more than just go and cut a deal. It’s about relationships, what they mean, the long haul. It’s not a hit-and-run type of thing. That’s what I practice every day since. It’s not to do business with someone for five minutes, it’s for as long as I possibly can.”

Arenson worked with Bassett at FMI from 1981-1986, when the company was sold to MCA. And then Arenson bought the company back from MCA in 1995, before selling it to Fanatics two years ago.

His success, he says, tied into Terry Bassett, including the fun side of it. Arenson fondly recalls a gang of guys, most of them still in the business, hanging out at Bassett’s Santa Monica, Calif., house or on the beach to ride bikes or play tennis. “It was a pretty illustrious group of people. My friend Mark Graham whom Terry was also very close to, Irving, Fred Rosen (former head of Ticketmaster). Any given day it could be any number of people. It was the early 80s. I didn’t know who they all were; I didn’t know a whole lot about much. Terry brought everyone together.”

His strength was people. “Terry taught me most about people. You have to trust in relationships and keep them and it’s not something you do at a desk and a phone. You have to be out there and see them. It’s not just about a show or an event, it’s being with them when it isn’t important,” Arenson said.

Fred Rosen shared a little-known accomplishment he attributes directly to Terry Bassett – Ticketmaster’s rise to the top of ticketing. “The reason I went to California and the person who convinced me to come to California was Terry,” Rosen said. “If you go back to the beginning of Ticketmaster, we were in New York and Chicago. We got a chance to do the US Festival (in San Bernardino, Calif.) and I came out and met Terry and a bunch of people out here.”

Rosen then flew home and set up an office in California with leaders like Lou Dickstein, who came up from Dallas. “So, we’re up and running and Terry calls me in February in New York, after I only met him once, and he said, ‘Fred, if you don’t come out and do this, it isn’t going to get done the way it needs to be done.”

April 1, 1983, Rosen arrived in L.A. and Bassett proceeded to introduce him to key players, like Rothman at the Forum and Brian Murphy at Avalon Attractions and Ticketmaster, in six months, was off and running strong.

“I loved Terry. I called him TB and he called me Fearless,” Rosen said. “TB was a guy who, whenever he called you, you started to smile. His analysis, his understanding of the business, the people and the landscape … there was no one better. Even a meal with Terry was an adventure. He would order the meal and call for the check at the same time.

TB_10_300_200.jpgCharles Stone, who promoted all the Elvis dates; Terry Bassett; and, with his back to the camera, Merlin Littlefield, who once famously told Garth Brooks to take his songs and go back to Oklahoma. (Courtesy Carl Dunn)

Bassett was also “acutely smart; disarmingly smart. He knew where all the bodies were, where all the money was. He knew how to make a deal. He had great relationships,” Rosen said. If you wanted an analysis on how a band would do or how to get to a venue or promoter to have a conversation, “Terry was the guy.”

Sports was key to Bassett’s zest for life and business. He had nicknames for most everyone he was close to. Sims Hinds, who now works for OVG Facilities (Oak View Group also owns VenuesNow), was Bonus Baby to Bassett; Bassett was Coach to Hinds. Hinds got into the business, in fact discovered it was a business and not just a bunch of groupies hanging onto bands, back in Atlanta when he met Terry Bassett.

“He was combination great friend, boss, mentor, surrogate big brother, like a life coach, how to do things right,” Hinds said.

“He taught me the value of long-term relationships. I’d be in a settlement and he’d say, ‘Look, you can argue with the tour accountant over $100, but it may cost you many times over that in life.’ You want to build the relationship, build the trust because, believe me, at some point you will need that,’” Hinds recalled.

Tavares confirmed that Terry Bassett Way of Doing Business, remembering a Bad Company date in Providence. “Back in the day, every time you went to a settlement, promoters would bitch and moan about different charges, this seems high to me, why do you need so many police officers? Some were more difficult to deal with than others,” Tavares said.

“But with Terry, if he ever questioned anything on your settlement, it was done in such a gentlemanly fashion that you didn’t feel like someone was trying to chisel you down,” Tavares said. Even when Bassett questioned a 45-officer police detail, which was excessively high, for Bad Company, he just said, ‘Wow, quite a few police officers compared to what we usually do here. What is the rationale here?’”

Tavares responded that he was “as surprised as you are. I think the name, Bad Company, freaked the cops. They didn’t do their research to find out Bad Company weren’t bad guys.”

“He just laughed. I said there is nothing I can do about this, they showed up, but I’ll make it up to you in the future. Terry said, ‘OK, fine, no problem.’ Someone else would have been jumping up and down.”

Hinds was 21 when he met Bassett in Atlanta and learned from him to respect venue managers because he was interested in coming back to that building 30 times, not once. “He found out what the building needed to be successful. If the building manager needs a favor for the mayor and it’s doable, you help him out,” Hinds said.

Hinds’ first job was working in Concerts West’s Atlanta office with Jay Hagerman and Dick Curtis.
At the time, Bassett was based in Dallas and Hulett was in Bellevue, Wash., headquarters for Concerts West. The money side was handled by Kaye Smith Enterprises (Danny Kaye and Les Smith), who owned a number of radio and TV stations and were the original owners of the Seattle Mariners. When Jerry Weintraub bought in, Bassett moved to L.A. and so did Hinds.

Bassett also started a business with Azoff promoting John McEnroe Tennis Tournaments as celebrity tournaments like concerts, then FMI tour merchandise, then Eric Chandler, then opened Irvine (Calif.) Meadows Amphitheatre and owned some radio stations for a while. Late in his career, he promoted Warren Miller Filmfests, again treating it like a concert. He retired at the age of 50 to play softball and enjoy life.

The list of people Bassett mentored is long and illustrious, including John Meglen and Paul Gongaware, AEG/Concerts West; Jeff Apregan with Apregan Entertainment, and Bruce Lahti, retired, who worked for Olympia Stadium in Detroit at the time Bassett was promoting concerts nationally and later managed Roger Whittaker for 27 years.

“Back in the mid-70s until the '80s, I was Concerts West’s local guy in Detroit. I worked with Linc Cavalieri at Olympia Stadium. I did most of their advertising,” Lahti said.

Other promoters would do their own advertising, but Concerts West guys were on the road, so they used someone local to place advertising and handle catering, Lahti recalled. “They involved the venue in doing it in a lot of cases.” And that was the beginning of a new respect for the venue guys across the nation. And seldom did they go to the agents — they went direct to the act’s manager, also a new way of doing business then, though it’s more common today.

Bassett was “one of the first to say it’s not all about work — on the road he created a play atmosphere, whether it was softball games, renting out movie theaters, he did all kinds of just incredible stuff,” Azoff confirmed.

“He was one of the first guys to say, ‘Hey, music is a big commodity. It shouldn’t just be about sports.’ He got the buildings to respect how important rock and roll music was if you do it right.”
Bassett is survived by his wife, Carol.


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THE NFL'S NEW BLUEPRINT
 
Posted: 30 Aug 2018, 10:00 pm

The stadium where the Los Angeles Rams and Chargers will play will be the hub of a 300-acre district. (Courtesy L.A. Sports & Entertainment District) 

The slow drive to field level at the NFL stadium under construction in Inglewood, Calif., takes visitors down a dirt road 100 feet below ground. The hole dug to build the stadium, twice as deep as the one at the Dallas Cowboys’ huge AT&T Stadium, was required to meet FAA guidelines for a building that sits below a flight path to Los Angeles International Airport.

At street level, as part of the sprawling 300-acre property, giant earth scrapers work in tandem to rearrange dirt elsewhere on site, where Los Angeles Rams owner and developer Stan Kroenke is building an extensive mixed-use project. It’s a city within a city, the next generation of “live, work, play” environments attached to sports and entertainment facilities.

To get a sense of the project’s massive scope, observers notice a long line of construction trailers forming 55,000 square feet of temporary office space. The central compound, for general contractors AECOM Hunt/Turner Construction and owner’s representative Legends Global Planning, is perhaps the biggest that’s been seen in sports development.

All told, the $5 billion investment is split roughly in half between the stadium and the entertainment district, amassing 13.5 million square feet under Kroenke’s control. When the stadium opens for the Rams and the Los Angeles Chargers in the summer of 2020, the building’s 3.2 million square feet will top the Cowboys’ stadium as the NFL’s biggest footprint.

Make no mistake: Kroenke’s bold vision represents the future of the NFL, still the most powerful league in the U.S, and sports in general. It’s the next step in mixed-use, moving beyond recent projects such as the master-planned Battery Atlanta next to SunTrust Park, home of Major League Baseball’s Atlanta Braves, and others that have grown organically over the past 20 years connected to big league sports venues.

Over the next five years in Inglewood, the first chunk of ancillary development will encompass up to 1 million square feet of retail space with 180 businesses, 15 to 20 restaurants and a 15-screen movie theater, plus a 300-room four-star hotel and 500 apartments, the first of 2,000 residential units proposed for the district. Project officials expect to announce a hotel partner by early 2019, said Chris Hibbs, chief revenue officer for Legends Global Sales, the agency marketing the stadium.

The stadium itself serves as the NFL’s blueprint moving forward in a high-tech society where fans consume everything on their mobile devices. It’s a “long-term play” to form a new fan base in today’s digital age, said Kevin Demoff, the Rams’ executive vice president of football operations and chief operating officer.

“We were fortunate to have a pretty good season last year, but nothing helped our year more than Todd Gurley having the greatest fantasy football run in the history of the NFL over three weeks, and the whole story of people donating money to his charitable foundation because he had all these points,” Demoff said. “You have to bring the entirety of the NFL to the fans. If you’re a Jets fan, just because you come to the Rams games, you can still follow the Jets everywhere you are in our stadium. That doesn’t harm our brand or the Chargers’ brand. It’s about making people more die-hard NFL fans … that’s the way it starts.”

The new stadium’s technology helps create that immersion with its giant oval-shaped video board. It takes the center-hung concept in a stadium setting one level higher than the Atlanta Falcons’ halo board at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. In Inglewood, the dual-sided “oculus” contains 70,000 square feet of 4K video display, supported by five LED rings and 3,000 video monitors on the public concourses and premium spaces.

“It’s a building that can flip and change very easily from a big concert Friday night to game on Sunday, to the other team’s game on Monday night,” Hibbs said.

Apart from the traditional digital signs, the roof canopy made of ETFE, a hard but transparent plastic material, provides additional billboard space. A roof equipped with a video screen is part of the design, and there are opportunities for sponsors to advertise to the skies, Gannon said. LAX stood as the world’s fifth busiest airport in 2017, according to airline travel groups.

It’s all part of embracing the “disruption stage of every piece of the fan experience right now,” Demoff said.

“It’s about being able to bring all of those comforts [of home] into the stadium so people don’t have to change their habits the moment they walk into the building,” he said. “The idea that fans have to sacrifice something, anything, to come to your game from the way they operate their daily lives is a farce.”

The project also stands out as the new West Coast headquarters of NFL Media. NFL Network, now housed in Culver City, moves to Inglewood in 2021 after the league signed a deal earlier this year to become the district’s first tenant. The 200,000-square-foot building, to include an outdoor studio for the first time, will be home to about 500 employees.

Apart from the brick and mortar, there will be plenty of green space, spanning 12 to 15 miles of running trails and an eight-acre lake that’s part of the archery competition for the 2028 Olympic Games.

For Legends, ground zero for its marketing effort is the L.A. Stadium Premiere Center in tech-heavy Playa Vista, known as “Silicon Beach.” Since the center opened in August 2017, Legends’ 100-person staff has been meeting with hundreds of Rams and Chargers season-ticket holders to sell premium seats at the new stadium, starting with suites that sell for $300,000 to $800,000 a year, a sum covering both teams’ games.

There are seven suite products and 260 total suites. The high-end inventory, the 24 Owners Suites at midfield, has sold out. Legends is now selling the Executive Suites and the Patio Suites for both teams. The Executive Suites sit 19 rows from the field in the corners of the lower bowl, which are the closest to the action in the NFL, according to Hibbs.

The two levels of patio suites built along the sidelines spill into an indoor/outdoor hospitality space for those patrons to enjoy the California sunshine on Sunday afternoons, Hibbs said.

Virtually every seat in the stadium carries a seat license, one-time fees running as high as $100,000 for the Rams and $75,000 for the Chargers. By comparison, the Cowboys seat licenses ran as high as $150,000. For the two most recently completed NFL stadiums, Atlanta Falcons’ high-end seat licenses cost $45,000 and the Minnesota Vikings’ top price was $9,500.

Rams and Chargers seat license holders get their money back after 50 years. The teams are the first in the NFL to adopt that model, Hibbs said. In the NBA, the Golden State Warriors are doing something similar, returning after 30 years seat license fees that were used to help pay for construction of Chase Center, their new San Francisco arena.

On a Thursday morning in late June, the premiere center is busy with prospective buyers. In Inglewood, the overall response among premium seat purchasers has been outstanding, Hibbs said, in large part because those deals give customers the rights to buy tickets for the 2022 Super Bowl and the 2023 College Football Playoff National Championship, two events already booked at the new stadium.

“The place to be, the ‘see and be seen’ aspect of Los Angeles is part of that, not unlike it is at Staples Center,” Hibbs said. “The cachet of a certain club or courtside seat is more than just watching the Lakers. We have some of that here in Inglewood.”

It’s been 15 years since the Super Bowl last took place in Southern California, and that’s another reason why interest is high, Demoff said. It’s been much longer — 46 years — since the Final Four was played in Los Angeles, but Inglewood is making its bid, starting with the 2027 event.

“One thing we consistently hear is that the West Coast really hasn’t had a stadium to go attract these national events,” he said. “Now, between us and the new Raiders stadium in Las Vegas and the improvements [at University of Phoenix Stadium], we’re hearing more about the West Coast.”

The premiere center also plays host to prospective tenants for the district as project officials market that part of the business. The high-tech models for both the stadium and district show the boundaries set aside for mixed use as a shadow passes from an airplane flying over the property. Those lines will change over time as development progresses, Hibbs said.

The stadium has the flexibility to grow from 70,240 seats to 100,000 depending on the event. Apart from Super Bowl, the CFP and potentially the Final Four, the new stadium will host the opening and closing ceremonies for the 2028 Olympic Games. Officials are in negotiations to host WWE WrestleMania. The stadium is also in the mix for 2026 World Cup as FIFA narrows the final list of U.S. facilities for that event.

The stadium’s footprint extends to a 6,000-seat performance venue next door, which sits under the same roof canopy as the bigger building. The smaller facility will be marketed as a midsize concert venue with the goal of booking 75 to 100 events a year. It will also accommodate esports’ Los Angeles Gladiators, which Kroenke owns and are part of the Overwatch League.

The third element, the outdoor Champions Plaza, situated outside the south end of the stadium, will be activated by the teams for pregame tailgates on game days. On days when the teams aren’t playing football, the vision is to host small concerts, farmers markets and other community activities. The plaza will be heavily landscaped with a water feature and a natural amphitheater. A year-round restaurant be accessible to the plaza and the stadium, Hibbs said.


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BLUEPRINTS: ARENA CONSTRUCTION UPDATE
 
Posted: 30 Aug 2018, 10:00 pm

Finneran Pavilion’s renovation adds premium seating to the Villnaova University arena. (Courtesy Villanova University)

UNITED STATES

ALABAMA
BIRMINGHAM
LEGACY ARENA AT BJCC
CAPACITY: 16,654 sports, 18,000 concert
TO OPEN: TBD
COST: $125 million
OWNER: BirminghamJefferson Civic Center Authority
ARCHITECT: Populous
BUILDER: TBD
CONCESSIONS: Centerplate
www.bjcc.org
NOTES: Arena enhancements include a club lounge, new luxury suites, improved concession stands, a concourse expansion and alterations to the exterior.

CALIFORNIA
Chase_Center-SECorner_250_250.jpgSAN FRANCISCO
CHASE CENTER
CAPACITY: 18,064
TO OPEN: Fall 2019
COST: $1 billion
OWNER: Golden State Warriors Arena LLC
ARCHITECT: Lead design architect is Manica, with Kendall Heaton architect of record and Gensler as the interior architect
BUILDER: Mortenson Construction, Clark Construction
CONCESSIONS: Partnership between Bon Appétit Management Company and Levy
www.chasecenter.com
NOTES: The sports and entertainment district covers a total of 11 acres in Mission Bay and will feature 580,000 square feet of office space and 100,000 square feet of leasable restaurant and retail space. Chase Center will hold approximately 200 events per year.

DELAWARE
WILMINGTON
76ERS FIELDHOUSE
CAPACITY: 2,500
TO OPEN: Fall 2018
COST: $26 million
FACILITY MANAGER: BPG|Sports
FACILITY PARTNER: Philadelphia 76ers
ARCHITECT: Rossetti
BUILDER: BPGS Construction
www.76ersfieldhouse.com
NOTES: The multipurpose sports complex and youth training center will serve as home to the Delaware Blue Coats, the NBA G League team of the Philadelphia 76ers. The venue includes three full-size basketball courts and one full-size indoor soccer field.

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
CAPITAL ONE ARENA
CAPACITY: 18,277
TO OPEN: Fall 2018
COST: $40 million
OWNER: Monumental Sports & Entertainment
ARCHITECT: Gensler
BUILDER: KBR Corp
CONCESSIONS: Aramark
www.capitalonearena.com
NOTES: The renovation will include the addition of new seats, a new state-of-the-art sound system, two new premium lounges and one renovated lounge, and newly designed concession stands throughout the arena. Concourses on the 100 and 400 levels will receive makeovers, and the flagship retail store of the Washington Capitals and Wizards will be updated.

ENTERTAINMENT & SPORTS ARENA
CAPACITY: 4,200
TO OPEN: Fall 2018
COST: NA
OWNER: Washington, D.C.
ARCHITECT: Rossetti; Marshall Moya Design.
NOTES: The arena will serve as the home court for the Washington Mystics of the WNBA and the Capital City GoGo of the NBA G League. In addition, the venue will house a practice facility for the NBA’s Washington Wizards and host a variety of events.

FLORIDA
FORT MYERS
HARBORSIDE EVENT CENTER
CAPACITY: Arena  3,500 seats
TO OPEN: First quarter 2020
COST: Renovation estimated at $12 million
OWNER: City of Fort Myers
MANAGEMENT and CONCESSIONS: Mainsail Lodging & Development
www.harborsideevents.com
NOTES: Arena is part of a larger $65 million development project that includes a 12-story, 243-room hotel with signature and casual restaurants, a rooftop bar and 8,000 square feet of meeting space.

GEORGIA
ATLANTA
STATE FARM ARENA (Formerly Philips Arena)
TO OPEN: Fall 2018
CAPACITY: TBD
COST: $192.5 million
OWNER: Atlanta-Fulton County Recreation Authority
ARCHITECT: HOK
BUILDER: Turner Construction
CONCESSIONS: Levy
www.philipsarena.com
NOTES: The reimagined arena, which is the home court of the NBA’s Atlanta Hawks, will include new clubs, suites and luxury boxes, 360-degree connected concourses on all levels, improved sightlines and state-of-the-art video throughout. The renovation will include the creation of the NBA’s first courtside bar.

ILLINOIS
EVANSTON
WELSH-RYAN ARENA
CAPACITY: Original capacity of 8,117 will decrease. Number is TBD, but expected to be approximately 7,000.
TO OPEN: Fall 2018
COST: $110 million
OWNER: Northwestern University
ARCHITECT: HOK
BUILDER: Mortenson Construction
CONCESSIONS: Levy
www.northwestern.edu
NOTES: The renovation will feature new seating throughout the arena, including replacing wood bleachers with chairback seats. The concourse will be wider and more accessible with improved lighting. New concession areas will feature twice as many point-of-sale stations and more food and drink options. Work will include upgrades in lighting, audio and video capabilities.

INDIANA
TERRE HAUTE
HULMAN CENTER
CAPACITY: 10,200
TO OPEN: TBA
COST: $43.75 million
OWNER: Indiana State University
ARCHITECT: Ratio Architects
BUILDER: TBD
CONCESSIONS: Sodexo.
hulmancenter.org
NOTES: Renovation of the venue, which was built in 1973, is in the design phase.

KENTUCKY
LEXINGTON
RUPP ARENA
CAPACITY: 20,500
TO OPEN: Late 2021
COST: $241 million (including convention center)
OWNER: LexingtonFayette Urban County Government
ARCHITECT: NBBJ and EOP Architects
BUILDER: Messer Construction
www.rupparena.com
NOTES: Renovation of Rupp Arena will include a new wedge-shaped exterior for the arena. Inside the arena, home to Kentucky men’s basketball, new upper-level chairback seating will be installed and new club areas will be added. The renovation of the arena is part of a larger project that also includes an expansion of the Lexington Center convention facility.

MISSOURI
Hy-Vee_-_East_Entry_Beacon_200_250.jpgKANSAS CITY
HY-VEE ARENA
CAPACITY: 5,000 for the upper bowl, 3,500 for the lower bowl, 10,000 for the stage terrace
TO OPEN: Fall 2018
COST: $26 million. Overall costs, including sports equipment and furniture, fixtures and equipment, is $39 million
OWNER: Foutch Brothers LLC
ARCHITECT: Foutch Brothers
BUILDER: McCownGordon
hyveearena.com
NOTES: Arena will feature a five-lane, 350-meter competition surface running track. Two floors of hardwood maple courts will be large enough for 12 basketball / futsal courts or 20 volleyball courts  the 80,000 square feet of surface area can accommodate wrestling, gymnastics, cheerleading and many other activities.

NEVADA
LAS VEGAS
MSG SPHERE AT THE VENETIAN
CAPACITY: More than 18,000
TO OPEN: Fiscal 2021
COST: TBD
OWNER: The Madison Square Garden Co.
ARCHITECT: Populous
NOTES: The venue will include a dynamically adaptive acoustics system that will use a variety of technologies to deliver audio to every guest, regardless of the size or type of the event. A new architecture for connectivity will enable a broader range of content, greater interaction among guests and more immersive entertainment experiences.

NEW YORK
ELMONT
BELMONT PARK ARENA
CAPACITY: 18,000
TO OPEN: 2021-22 NHL season
COST: $1 billion (including total multiuse development)
PROJECT DEVELOPER: New York Arena Partners
ARCHITECT: Populous BUILDER: AECOM Hunt
NOTES: The proposed venue, which is located next to the historic Belmont Park horse racing track, will host the New York Islanders and a variety of performance and sporting events. The associated development will include a hotel, retail spaces, public open spaces, office spaces, a movie theater and more.

OHIO
CLEVELAND
QUICKEN LOANS ARENA
CAPACITY: 20,562 (capacity will be reduced upon completion of renovation)
TO OPEN: Fall 2019
COST: $140 million
OWNER: City of Cleveland and Cuyahoga County
ARCHITECT: Gensler Architects
BUILDER: Whiting-Turner
CONCESSIONS: Aramark
www.theqarena.com
NOTES: The renovation will include an expanded, glass-enclosed north entrance and creation of a 42,530-square-foot atrium. The project will also include the addition of 6,350 square feet to the main concourse.

DAYTON
UNIVERSITY OF DAYTON ARENA
CAPACITY: 13,435
TO OPEN: Fall 2019
COST: $72 million
OWNER: University of Dayton
ARCHITECT: Hastings & Chivetta Architects, Sink Combs Dethlefs
BUILDER: Danis
CONCESSIONS: In-house
www.transformudarena.com
NOTES: The renovation, which is being completed in three phases, includes updated seating, a new four-sided, center-hung video board, new LED ribbon boards, upgraded audio system and broadcast infrastructure, a new concourse, new south and west entrances, and a new media room and press conference area.

CINCINNATI
FIFTH THIRD ARENA
CAPACITY: 12,012
TO OPEN: Fall 2018
COST: $87 million
OWNER: University of Cincinnati
ARCHITECT: Populous
BUILDER: Skanska Megen
53arena.gobearcats.com
NOTES: In the renovation, the arena will add 542 club seats, a new videoboard, new ribbon boards, a sound system, new restrooms, new concessions and LED lighting. The project includes a new concourse on the upper level, an expanded lower-level concourse and a renovation of the building face. The venue will add hospitality areas.

PENNSYLVANIA
PHILADELPHIA
FINNERAN PAVILION
CAPACITY: 6,500
TO OPEN: Fall 2018
COST: $60 million
OWNER: Villanova University
ARCHITECT: EwingCole; Schiller and Hersh Associates
BUILDER: Hunter Roberts.
www.finneranpavilion.com
NOTES: The renovation emphasizes improving and creating new amenities and creating premium seating options. Enhancements include a relocated, revamped main entrance, a continuous 360-degree concourse, new seating designed for improved comfort, enhanced audiovisual capabilities, a new Hall of Fame exhibit, a new hospitality area, premium courtside seating options with access to select clubs and amenities, and upgraded Wi-Fi.

MOON TOWNSHIP
UPMC EVENTS CENTER
CAPACITY: 4,000
TO OPEN: Spring 2019
COST: $42 million
OWNER: Robert Morris University
ARCHITECT: Ross Bianco Architecture
CONSTRUCTION: General contractor is P.J. Dick and Oxford is the construction manager
CONCESSIONS: Parkhurst
www.rmu.edu/
athletics/upmc-events-center
NOTES:  The new 161,000-square-foot facility will be home for the basketball and volleyball teams for Robert Morris University and will host a range of other events, including conventions, speakers and concerts. The venue replaces the Charles L. Sewall Center.

PHILADELPHIA
WELLS FARGO CENTER
CAPACITY: 19,500
TO OPEN: NA
COST: $250 million
OWNER:: Comcast Spectacor
ARCHITECT: SCI Architects
BUILDER: StructureTone
CONCESSIONS: Aramark
www.wellsfargocenterphilly.com
NOTES: Renovation enhancements will include new seating, an improved mezzanine level, upgraded concourses and new openair lounge areas. An exterior wall will be replaced with a glass front that allows for views of the city.

TENNESSEE
NASHVILLE
BRIDGESTONE ARENA
CAPACITY: 17,159 for hockey
TO OPEN: Annual renovations each summer, with the most recent to be completed in fall 2018
COST: $12 million
OWNER: Sports Authority of Nashville and Davidson County
ARCHITECT: Populous
BUILDER: Various
CONCESSIONS: Delaware North
www.bridgestonearena.com
NOTES: The renovation project will include a substantial upgrade of the arena’s audiovisual system, including replacing and adding to the arena’s LED ribbon boards and upgrading its control room. More selfserve concession kiosks will be installed, the team store will be renovated and a new bar will be added.

TEXAS
FORT WORTH
DICKIES ARENA
CAPACITY: 14,000
TO OPEN: November 2019
COST: $540 million
OWNER: City of Fort Worth
ARCHITECT: HKS (architect of record); David M. Schwarz Architects (design architect)
BUILDER: The Beck Group
CONCESSIONS: In-house
dickiesarena.com
NOTES: Located adjacent to the Will Rogers Memorial Center, the arena will host a variety of events, such as concerts, sporting events (including rodeos) and family shows. The venue will have the capacity to accommodate conventions, exhibit events, business meetings and private receptions.

HOUSTON
FERTITTA CENTER
CAPACITY: 7,100
TO OPEN: December 2018
COST: $60 million
OWNER: University of Houston
ARCHITECT: PGAL; AECOM
BUILDER: Turner Construction
CONCESSIONS: Aramark
uhcougarpride.com/
fertittacenter
NOTES: The renovation of the arena formerly known as Hofheinz Pavilion includes moving seats closer to the action, 2,000 new premium seats, upgraded videoboards, new sound system, new restrooms, new retail spaces and new locker rooms.

VIRGINIA
LYNCHBURG
LIBERTY ARENA
CAPACITY: 4,000
TO OPEN: Fall 2020
COST: NA
OWNER: Liberty University.
NOTES: The new arena will host men’s and women’s basketball games and women’s volleyball games. It will feature premium seating and hospitality areas. In addition, the adjacent 14,000-seat Vines Center will be renovated, including updates to the dome roof.

WASHINGTON
SEATTLE
KEYARENA AT SEATTLE CENTER
CAPACITY (with renovation): 17,400 for hockey, 18,600 for basketball, 19,000 for concerts
TO OPEN: October 2020
COST: $700 million
OWNER: City of Seattle
ARCHITECT: Populous
BUILDER: Project manager: CAA Icon. General contractor: Skanska
AECOM Hunt.
www.keyarena.com
NOTES: The arena hosts concerts and serves as the home of the WNBA’s Seattle Storm and Seattle University men’s basketball team. Renovation plans maintain the KeyArena roof, a designated historic landmark, and complete a major overhaul of the rest of the arena. The overhaul would nearly double the existing usable space.

AUSTRALIA
MELBOURNE
ROD LAVER ARENA
CAPACITY: Arena  16,310 seats
MANAGEMENT: Melbourne & Olympic Parks Trust
OWNER: State government
CONCESSIONS: Delaware North
www.rodlaverarena.com.au
NOTES: Upgrade construction to the arena will be completed by 2020. The arena will remain operational throughout the course of the renovations. The renovation will include a new three-level main entrance and new annexes, new accessible entrances to the seating bowl, and expanded public concourse spaces throughout the facility.

FINLAND
HELSINKI
HELSINKI GARDEN
CAPACITY: 11,000
TO OPEN: TBD
COST: $600 million (including total development)
www.gardenhelsinki.fi
NOTES: The arena remains in the planning phase. Helsinki Garden will replace Helsinki Ice Hall (cap. 8,200) as home to IFK Helsinki hockey club. The project will include shops, restaurants, hotel, offices and apartments.

NORWAY
OSLO
JORDAL AMFI
CAPACITY: 5.500
TO OPEN: Summer 2020
COST: $59 million
OWNER: City of Oslo
ARCHITECT: Hille Melbye
BUILDER: NCC
NOTES: The arena will be the home of the Valerenga Ishockey (ice hockey) team.

SPAIN
BARCELONA
NEW PALAU BLAUGRANA
CAPACITY: 12,000 for sporting events; 12,500 for cultural events
TO OPEN: 2019
2020 season
COST: NA
OWNER: F.C. Barcelona
ARCHITECT: HOK and TAC Arquitectes.
www.fcbarcelona.com
NOTES: A large projection screen on the underside of the roof, transparency and an outdoor concourse with patios and plazas will create an open-air, street festival environment. The arena will serve as home court for FC Barcelona Lassa, a Euroleague basketball team.

UNITED KINGDOM
LONDON
MSG SPHERE
CAPACITY: More than 18,000
TO OPEN: About one year after MSG Sphere at The Venetian opens
COST: TBA
OWNER: The Madison Square Garden Co.
ARCHITECT: Populous
NOTES: The LED exterior will be fully programmable, creating a digital showcase for brands, artists, events and partners. Inside, the venue will feature an LED display pane that wraps around the interior of the bowl.

SWANSEA
SWANSEA ARENA
CAPACITY: 3,500
TO OPEN: 2020
COST: $127 million
OWNER: Swansea Council
ARCHITECT:ACME
BUILDER: Not yet appointed.
NOTES: The venue is designed to host theater and musical performances, conferences and exhibitions. Ambassador Theatre Group will operate it.


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STANDING OUT IN THE FESTIVAL CROWD
 
Posted: 30 Aug 2018, 10:00 pm

Younger bands like Bishop Gunn get a chance to play for a bigger audience at Peach Fest. (Christopher Hoffman)

A steady rain fell over much of the weekend lineup during the 2018 Peach Music Festival at Montage Mountain in Pennsylvania’s Poconos. A damp chill filled the air for Saturday’s late-night sets. 

No matter. Jam band fans danced between the raindrops on the lawn and others squeezed under cover in the main stage’s reserved seats. As darkness fell, they enjoyed two full sets of Joe Russo’s Almost Dead. The Grateful Dead cover band served as the appetizer before the main dish, a special two-hour show by Dark Side of the Mule, a tribute to Pink Floyd performed by Gov’t Mule. 

“It was midnight and we still had 13,000 people here and it’s raining,” said Bert Holman, manager of the Allman Brothers Band, co-partner in the Peach Fest with Live Nation. This year’s edition of the festival ran July 19-22.

Earlier in the day, Little Feat, in tandem with Moe. and “artists at large” the Turkuaz Horns, revisited Feat’s classic 1978 live album “Waiting for Columbus,” which drew a big thumbs-up from the crowd. The fest’s final day was a Sunday treat. Dickey Betts, a founding member of the Allman Brothers, is touring for the first time in four years and made his Peach Fest debut. 

The Dickey Betts Band includes Duane Betts, his guitar-playing son. At Montage Mountain, Devon Allman, son of Dickey’s late bandmate Gregg Allman, came on stage to sing “Midnight Rider” in honor of his father. 

It’s those must-see mixes and sit-ins among bands that makes Peach Fest stand out among the flood of music festivals these days, say artists, agents, band managers and tour producer Live Nation. Over the past five years, a multitude of new festivals have popped up, creating what some feel is a glut in the market and creating some fallout: Since 2016, two dozen festivals worldwide have been canceled or gone on hiatus.

“People don’t show up and that drives the market,” said Bill Payne, keyboardist for Little Feat, Doobie Brothers and, on occasion, Leftover Salmon. “That’s up for the fans to make that determination, and it’s a healthy one.”

Govt-DarkSide_300_200.jpgGov’t Mule performs its Pink Floyd tribute at this year’s Peach Fest. (Christopher Hoffman)

“There are a lot out there, and it will make it harder for the individual festivals to thrive if too many exist,” said Warren Haynes, guitarist and vocalist for Gov’t Mule and a longtime member of the Allman Brothers. “But it’s a cool concept. Like anything else, the more fan-friendly you can keep it, the better. You have to keep reinventing it, not just musically but to make it easier on all the fans and the artists.” 

For those producing Peach Fest, it’s all about maintaining its niche as a boutique event celebrating the heritage of the Allman Brothers Band and keeping things fresh by scheduling unique collaborations such as Little Feat with Moe. and helping artists such as The Marcus King Band and Pigeons Playing Ping Pong grow their careers by exposing them to bigger crowds. 

“That’s the challenge,” Holman said. “Geoff Gordon and Dave Niedbalski from Live Nation do a great job. We start talking (the week after the event) about who worked, who didn’t work, who do we want for next year. They watch the message boards from the fans and to see what people are doing at other festivals. Sometimes, you’ll find an act that will do a festival (such as Robert Plant) that you didn’t think would do those events.” 

Since its inception seven summers ago, Peach Fest officials have kept ticket prices reasonable. This year, they offered an advance $99 general admission ticket covering all four days of music.  More than 5,000 people, representing about one-third of daily attendees, typically buy the early-bird discount, said Niedbalski, Live Nation’s vice president of marketing and the festival’s producer. 

Peach Fest consistently draws between 14,000 and 17,000 a day, he said. For the festival’s second year in 2013, Live Nation added Thursday programming after officials saw campers start showing up on Wednesday of the first year’s event.

“I really like to be value-conscious for the crowd,” Niedbalski said. “We’re not building on a field. We have real infrastructure. We have a water park with a lodge. We use the rental facility building for artist dressing rooms. We’re able to invest that (savings) into keeping ticket prices low and having the experience be special.”

For the most part, patrons can spend roughly $1,000 and get the full experience, Holman said, whether they’re camping and upgrading to VIP status for access to exclusive spaces to watch the shows and three catered meals a day, or reserving multiple hotel nights. Montage Mountain rents small RVs as a third option and has those vehicles delivered on site.

The focus remains on creative artist pairings and capping ticket sales at 20,000 a day. They’re not trying to be a national festival and draw 100,000 people, Holman said, because at that point, the logistics can become unwieldly and result in poor sightlines, ruining the experience for many patrons.

“The worst seat here is 80 percent better than the seats at Lock’n, Bonnaroo or Coachella,” he said.
Peach Fest artists appreciate the event producers keeping things in check to create a more intimate feel for them and the fans, as well as the opportunity to collaborate with their peers, said Chris Robinson, lead singer for The Chris Robinson Brotherhood and the old Black Crowes.

“To me, giants like Bonnaroo changed to something far different from where it started, but that was probably the seed to get everyone into that kind of culture,” Robinson said. “When the Black Crowes played here [in 2013], it was really good. I always think about how many friends I’m going to see, and that happens every time at Peach Fest, a lot more than other festivals.”

Moe_LittleFeat_300_200.jpgMoe. and Little Feat provide one of the artist combinations for which Peach Fest has become known. (Christopher Hoffman)

For members of Little Feat, which is closing in on 50 years as a touring entity, Peach Fest represents a fun departure from its typical gigs. By comparison, for the younger artists and their booking agents, Peach Fest helps boost their careers by exposing them to new audiences that may come see them later at a club show, and gives them a chance to mingle with headliners backstage that could potentially lead to a supporting role on a national tour.

That’s the case with WME booking agent C.J. Strock. He represented eight acts at this year’s fest, including relative newcomers ZZ Ward, Bishop Gunn and Blackberry Smoke, which created a lot of buzz with its Saturday afternoon performance at the main stage.

“We strive to get them in the right context,” Strock said. “You’re only as strong as your company. For a band that’s developing such as Bishop Gunn, for them to be on the same bill with Phil Lesh, that’s where we want to go with their career.”

Pigeons Playing Ping Pong played the main stage at Peach Fest this year, four years after first performing at the smallest of three stages at Montage Mountain. The initial exposure became a watershed moment for the 10-year-old Baltimore funk band. 

“Peach Fest has been really big for us ever since we first played it,” said Jeremy Schon, a guitarist with the group. “We go on the fall tour and wherever we are, so many people tell me they caught us first here. We’ve gained a lot of fans from doing this festival.”

For Niedbalski, it’s all part of the joy of producing Peach Fest.

“My goal is to book as many bands as people are interested in and give them an opportunity to experience live music,” he said.


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OLYMPIC ASPIRATIONS
 
Posted: 30 Aug 2018, 10:00 pm

Olympic Stadium executives hope to bring more concerts to the venue. (Courtesy Olympic Park)

Olympic Stadium has been the punchline of its share of jokes — it’s known as The Big O, for instance, but it’s also been called The Big Owe because of its cost.

For Montreal residents, however, it remains an iconic structure, an international symbol built for the 1976 Summer Olympics and linked in the city’s memory to the gold-medal exploits of the Games’ track and field and gymnastics stars.

Forty-two years later, the stadium, which with a little over 56,000 seats has among the largest capacities of any Canadian venue, remains the centerpiece of the Olympic Park district, though it’s not as busy as when it was home to Major League Baseball’s Montreal Expos (see related story).

The Expos left the stadium for Washington, D.C., after the 2004 season and became the Nationals.
In 1998, the Canadian Football League’s Montreal Alouettes moved their home games to Percival Molson Memorial Stadium, a smaller outdoor facility. Major League Soccer’s Montreal Impact play occasional games at Olympic Stadium, especially when they’re expecting a crowd bigger than the 20,801 that their home field, Saputo Stadium, can hold.

Olympic Stadium also plays host to a pair of annual Toronto Blue Jays exhibitions before the regular season and will welcome the Dream Hack esports competition this month. Pollstar data shows only a handful of concerts during the last five years, influenced in part by roof issues at the facility. Over the years, two separate roofs have torn repeatedly under heavy snows and ice storms, canceling several events such as a pair of Rolling Stones concerts in 1998. As a result, the fear of similar problems basically shuts the building down from November through March because no event promoter wants to assume the liability risk.

But things are looking up. In December, the province of Quebec, which owns the facility, committed to paying for a new roof at a cost of about $230 million. The plan is to install it by 2023, three years ahead of the 2026 FIFA World Cup, to be hosted jointly by Canada, the U.S. and Mexico. Olympic Stadium is among the three Canadian facilities that will host the 10 matches played in Canada.

In addition to helping attract the World Cup, the new roof should enable stadium officials to book the building 12 months a year and boost the number of annual events. Madonna, AC/DC and Pink Floyd were among the stadium acts that drew big crowds to Montreal, and officials hope a fully functional facility would lure back some of those lucrative concerts.

“There’s a business case to be built around the roof project,” said Maurice Landry, Olympic Park’s vice president of construction and maintenance. “We could book at least double the number of events every year.”

To develop a stronger roof to withstand snow loads and prevent tears, architects and engineers have designed a specialized structure that can be removed for World Cup to comply with FIFA’s requirements for open-air competition.

“We decided to have a central part of (the new roof) that we can remove easily for the few times we can open it,” Landry said.

It’s hoped that the new engineering features will resolve the roof issues, which have plagued Olympic Stadium over the past 30 years.

“In 1987, the first roof we got was retractable but not very good. … We decided to keep it closed until 1998, when it was replaced with the [fixed] roof we have now,” Landry said. “It’s made of fiberglass and Teflon, and we’ve had problems since its installation in 1999.”

Plans also call for an upgrade to the stadium’s lighting and sound systems and the installation of all new seats, Landry said. Those improvements follow renovations made over the past few years. Most recently, the province invested $76 million to renovate the exterior of the tower.

Construction of the tower was completed in 1987, the same year the first roof was installed and 11 years after the stadium first opened.

Standing 540 feet tall and bent at a 45-degree angle, the tower is the highest inclined structure in the world per the Guinness Book of World Records, Landry said.

Last year the tower, whose cables support 75 percent of the stadium’s roof, had new floor-to-ceiling windows installed to replace concrete panels that were part of the original construction. The aesthetic upgrades accommodate Desjardins Bank, Quebec’s largest financial institution, which is now the tower’s primary tenant after signing a 15-year lease.

An additional $34 million was spent to remodel the tower’s interior spaces for 1,000 bank employees who moved in last month across seven floors, Landry said.

“We’re happy to fill the space,” he said.

The tower itself has been a tourist attraction over the years, drawing 250,000 annually to the observatory at the top of the structure, he said.

The stadium is far from the only piece of Olympic Park. An indoor multisports center was renovated in 2015 and stays busy with elite athletes training and competing in Olympic sports. The public has access to those facilities, which include seven swimming pools and a speed skating rink, plus boxing and gymnastics venues, among other high-performance spaces.

About 270,000 patrons used the sports center in 2017 and this year the aquatic facilities will play host to roughly seven to 10 competitive swimming and diving events, Olympic Park spokesman Cedric Essiminy said.

In addition, the esplanade, a large outdoor area next to the stadium, remains active over the summer with action sports events, local orchestras and festivals.  

Olympic Stadium has always been a work in progress, with the tower and original roof finished long after the 1976 Games and final construction costs that ballooned from an initial projection of $100 million to a final figure of almost $1.5 billion.

But unlike some sports facilities half its age that have been demolished over the past decade, Olympic Stadium isn’t going anywhere. The cost of tearing it down would exceed $500 million to clear the site, and officials said it’s less expensive to operate and give it a facelift.

Now with renovation plans in place, Montreal looks to write another chapter for the building.
“We just want to say to the market that we’re ready to book concerts and other events,” Landry said. “With 56,000 seats, there are a lot of things we can do. We’ve got flexibility.”


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HOSPITALITY'S NEXT FRONTIER
 
Posted: 30 Aug 2018, 10:00 pm

Tailgate Guys will help the Atlanta Falcons create pregame atmosphere outside Mercedes-Benz Stadium. (Courtesy AMB Sports & Entertainment)

The business of tailgating has become a new revenue stream for NFL teams beyond the corporate hospitality that some clubs run themselves outside their stadiums. Several teams now outsource that piece of the game-day experience to vendors such as Tailgate Guys, which has six new deals in the NFL.

Tailgate Guys, formed in 2009 in Auburn, Ala., to fill tailgating needs in the college space, has agreements for the 2018 season with the Atlanta Falcons, Buffalo Bills, Houston Texans, Jacksonville Jaguars, Los Angeles Rams and Pittsburgh Steelers.

Tailgate Guys has about 30 clients in all, covering the NFL, college football, MLB’s Texas Rangers, golf tournaments and soccer’s International Champions Cup.

Its competitors include Blockparty, which last year received a $2 million investment from Live Nation to expand the concept to amphitheaters; IMG College’s Tailgate Club; secondary ticketing providers such as Vivid Seats; and in Jacksonville, Fla., a firm called Party Shack, which the Jaguars do business with as well as Tailgate Guys. Apart from those firms, some NFL teams such as the Carolina Panthers run their own pregame corporate hospitality villages outside their facilities.

Tailgate Guys co-founder Parker Duffy built a company in the heart of Southeastern Conference country whose investors include Teall Capital, an investment firm founded by Ben Sutton, former chairman and CEO of IMG College. In the past year, Tailgate Guys has made strategic hires as it looked to crack the NFL, including A.J. Machosky, its senior vice president of sales and business development. Machosky used to work for Vivid Seats, which ran NFL tailgates for the Rams.

“We quickly learned the NFL is a tight-knit community, so they’re all aware of what others are doing, which has opened some doors for us,” Duffy said. “We’re still learning a lot. There will be an evolution on that side of it, but there’s a higher level of corporate (entertainment) in the NFL than with colleges.”

Tailgate Guys runs a turnkey operation, providing white tent hospitality service for groups as small as 10 people and as big as 500.

For a single NFL game, prices run $350 on the low end for the Falcons’ least expensive package to $7,750, which is the Texans’ most expensive setup, according to the Tailgate Guys website. Prices depend on a number of factors, including tent size, food and drink, furniture and televisions, among other amenities. NFL teams get a split of the revenue, similar to colleges. The cost of doing business varies by location, partnership structure and capacity, Duffy said.

In Pittsburgh, Tailgate Guys’ relationship with the University of Pittsburgh and Heinz Field, where the school and the NFL’s Pittsburgh Steelers play, led to expanding the business to include Steelers games and stadium concerts, said Jimmie Sacco, team vice president of stadium operations and management.

“We kicked it off last year with Pitt in cooperation with the university and they did a terrific job,” he said. “People loved it.”

The view doesn’t hurt in Pittsburgh. Tailgate Guys operates on the Great Lawn, between Heinz Field and the Allegheny River.

“As much as we’re all looking for new dollars, (Tailgate Guys) is more of an amenity,” he said. “It’s another premium service to offer your fans. If you can offer someone reserved parking, a space to do hospitality and easy access to the building, it’s a win-win for everybody.”

The Steelers used Tailgate Guys for Kenny Chesney’s Trip Around the Sun tour June 2 at Heinz Field, one of three shows the team booked in 2018. The packages included concert tickets, which helped drive ticket sales and concessions revenue, Sacco said. Next year, Tailgate Guys will expand to all concerts at the stadium.

In Atlanta, Tailgate Guys is on the ground floor for activating the Home Depot Backyard, a new tailgating space next to Mercedes-Benz Stadium on a 13-acre site where the old Georgia Dome stood. The vendor already has a strong presence in the market with multiple SEC schools, and some of its initial sales took place with customers familiar with the brand from the college space, Duffy said.

“They’re already the expert, having some of the neighboring colleges a few hours down the road,” said Don Rovak, vice president of ticket sales and service for AMB Sports & Entertainment, parent company of the Falcons and Major League Soccer’s Atlanta United FC. “It felt foolish for us not to tap into their expertise.”

The Home Depot Backyard, which officially opens Sept. 16 for the Falcons’ first regular-season home game against Carolina, has room for about 75 to 80 groups a game, Duffy said. It’s been the leading NFL property in sales for Tailgate Guys in part because of the firm’s local brand recognition. In addition, AMB Sports made a conscious decision to keep the tent pricing affordable, following a similar path it began last season for concessions sold inside the stadium, he said.

The backyard will open about five hours before kickoff and close two hours after the game, Rovak said. Tailgate Guys also sells pregame space for MLS games for the backyard, which is scheduled to be activated year-round for a variety of special events. The backyard serves as an extension of the stadium with the same guest services and security staff working the area.

“We’re going to learn a lot over the next few months for how to maximize the space and what the customers want,” he said.

In north Florida, the Jaguars’ deal with Tailgate Guys is an example of their entrepreneurial spirit under the leadership of team owner Shahid Khan, according to Chris Gargani, vice president of sales and service. The Jaguars play at TIAA Bank Field, one of the older stadiums in the NFL, and tailgating is the next step for a team that’s made a splash with end zone cabanas and pools, among other upgrades.

The Jaguars signed their deal after being approached by Tailgate Guys Chief Operating Officer Chip Howard, who previously was the University of Florida’s executive associate athletic director for internal affairs, Gargani said. Howard is familiar with the stadium from the annual Florida-Georgia game, which is played there.

Tailgate Guys markets to both Jaguars season-ticket holders searching for a permanent pregame hospitality space and the team’s overall database for single-game buys. The Jaguars found a strip of grass next to Daily’s Place, the practice field and amphitheater attached to the stadium. Depending on the package, about 20 to 30 tents can fit in the space, Gargani said.

In western New York, the Bills have a strong tailgating culture, and they were the second team to sign with Tailgate Guys after the Texans. The Bills reserve space on a youth football field next to New Era Field on the northeast side that’s already used for private tailgates for, among others, NFL Canada and team owners Terry and Kim Pegula.

“We’re (different) being in the suburbs with a lot of space around our facility compared with other NFL markets,” said Jon Latke, the Bills’ manager of corporate sales and business development.”

Tailgate Guys can fit roughly 25 to 50 tents on its portion of the field, Latke said. As of mid-August, the vendor had sold about a half-dozen of the larger packages for 100 to 200 people for the Bills’ regular-season home opener Sept. 16.

The Jaguars’ Gargani predicts more NFL teams will hand off this piece of game-day business.
“As a society, we’ve moved so much toward turnkey and paying for things and everything is automated,” he said.

As a fan, Gargani said, “I just want to cut somebody a check and show up and my stuff is done.”


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SAN JOSE GEM
 
Posted: 30 Aug 2018, 10:00 pm

SAP Center at San Jose has been a beacon drawing residents downtown since opening in 1993. (Courtesy SAP Center at San Jose)

For some venues, longevity and success go hand in hand.

That’s been the case for SAP Center at San Jose. In its first 25 years, the arena has hosted 4,300 events and 40 million fans, including 17 million devotees of the NHL’s San Jose Sharks, and has become not only a visitor magnet but also an economic driver for this California city of just over a million residents.

“This was San Jose’s first major sports arena when it was built in 1993,” said John Tortora, co-president of the Sharks. “The significance of this venue is its ability to bring people to downtown San Jose during the week and on weekends.”

It only makes sense with its fan-focused approach that the venue celebrates the milestone by asking its visitors past and present to focus on their experiences at SAP Center.
Marking the Occasion

The campaign for SAP Center’s 25th, which is being dubbed not an anniversary but a celebration, has three pillars. The first is events, which include a gala dinner Sept. 14 on the arena floor for an estimated 600 attendees, including city officials and promoters. Super Diamond, a Neil Diamond cover band, will perform as a tribute to the retired artist who was one of the venue’s most frequent acts. His 11 shows between Dec. 11, 1993, and July 30, 2017, took in more than $8.6 million and attracted more than 155,500 fans.

As part of this concept, there also are plans for a three-day music festival in 2019 that will feature local bands as well as international performers.

“We don’t know of any other building pulling off a three-day concert,” said Jonathan Becher, co-president of the San Jose Sharks. “It’s experimental and pioneering.”

This also will be the first time SAP Center’s team has taken on the task of sourcing its own acts, which has been a challenge even for the building’s experienced staff.

“It’s exciting to learn as we go along,” Becher said. “Elton John normally uses a promoter for his tours, but we are going directly to him and other performers asking them to play here.”

Another pillar is community activations, which will include large-scale projects like an SAP wall mural to mark why the facility is important and help bring residents together to celebrate. Street parties also will be held to mark the occasion and include outdoor concerts.

The marketing campaign’s multiple levels includes six through social media focusing on the top 25 acts that have performed at SAP Center. #SAPCenter25 marks the conversation with fans over social media. Concerts throughout the year will be branded as part of the celebration, as well.

A user-generated social campaign asks guests to contribute photos and words describing their experiences at the facility.

“After just a week, we received over 1,000 entries from people who attended Sharks games, concerts and other events,” said Doug Bentz, the Sharks’ vice president of digital and marketing.

In addition, the social media campaign incorporates the “Sharks for Life” tag, through which fans can describe how, when and where they became lifelong fans of the NHL team.

SAP Center has been positioned as a place to unify a diverse community, which will play into the celebration of its 25th year.

“We think of ourselves as a community center and place for people to hang out, which is the essence of who we are and what we are to San Jose,” Becher said.

History and Evolution
Before it was conceived as a large arena, SAP Center was scaled to seat just 6,000 to 7,000 people.
But George Gund III, with brother Gordon the owners of the NHL’s Minnesota North Stars, wanted to bring hockey back to the area (they had been minority owners in the California Golden Seals, an NHL team that played in Oakland before leaving in 1976). They sold the North Stars and received rights to an expansion team in the Bay Area. When George Gund discovered that San Jose already had plans to build an arena, he met with the city to see about scaling it larger to house an NHL team.

“The NHL and design team needed a considerable expansion to accommodate the 17,500 hockey fans,” said Jim Goddard, executive vice president for governmental affairs, who has been with the building since day one.

SAP_Center_Historic_4_200_300.jpgAt the groundbreaking for the arena, from left: George Gund III, then the owner of the Sharks; San Jose Mayor Tom McEnery; and 1968 Olympic figure skating gold medalist Peggy Fleming. (Courtesy SAP Center at San Jose)

An arm of the city, the San Jose Redevelopment Agency, financed the project. Amenities were later added to support professional sports and the NHL. The venue cost $165 million to build, not including the land and infrastructure. 

“George spent $40 million on upgrades,” said Steve Kirsner, vice president of SAP Center booking and events, making what’s known locally as “the Shark Tank” a major league arena.

The plan was put in motion in 1990, and after less than a year of planning the construction lasted two years. During this time, the Sharks played at San Francisco’s Cow Palace.

Sports architect Sink Combs Dethlefs, which is now part of Perkins + Will, designed the facility, which seats 17,562 for hockey, 19,000 for concerts and about 18,500 for basketball.

“Everyone had high expectations for the market and arena, and everyone involved, including the Sharks, city and community, said it has exceeded their expectations,” Goddard said.

Even a quarter-century later, SAP Center’s design is still sophisticated and up to date from an architectural point of view. Its contemporary design both inside and out reflects Silicon Valley and the technology-focused city. Its two multistory, atrium-style entries on either side of the building give visitors a grand sense of arrival. The venue uses a single concourse for the lower and upper bowls, and the ceiling is white rather than black to make the interior feel more open.

“Because we’re in the heart of Silicon Valley, we have metal on the outside that looks high-tech and is made to reflect the city’s image,” Kirsner said. “Clean lines, concrete and steel lend to our building’s contemporary look.”

It also has a spacious upscale club that supports 3,000 seats.

“When we opened, I characterized it as as nice as any club in the NHL, and it continues to be,” Goddard said.

The first 16 rows of the lower bowl for hockey are club seats with upgraded food and beverages. There also are two groups of suites, one on the main concourse and another on the penthouse level above the upper deck. 

Two years ago, The Grill at SAP restaurant underwent a $4 million overhaul to become the 6,000-square-foot members-only BMW Lounge, featuring a 2,000-gallon shark tank to emulate the arena’s nickname.

“This all-inclusive area is for those who sit in the first three rows,” Kirsner said. “It is all-you-can-eat-and-drink and high end. It’s also a space for VIP parties during concerts.”

Aramark has been SAP Center’s foodservice provider since the building opened. A few years ago, it began incorporating local brands, including Ike’s sandwiches, Armadillo Willy’s BBQ and Gordon Biersch hamburgers.

Summers are devoted to capital improvements to keep the arena in like new condition. “We spend $2 million a year for general arena maintenance,” Tortora said. “We still have original fixtures from 25 years ago, but have been able to maintain the quality.”

About 15 years ago the marquee was changed to include full-color LED, and the scoreboard was replaced eight years ago. Two years ago, the lower-level seats were overhauled. This summer, the lights illuminating the hockey rink were changed out for LED. The staff of 40 full-time and 700 part-time employees includes two painters who work five days a week touching up the facility.

“As things have aged or worn out, they’ve been repaired and replaced,” Goddard said. “There’ve been other changes, like a new sound system, enhancements to acoustics, refurbishing club space and other premium areas, updating food locations and offerings, and replacement of the roof and mechanical equipment.”

Highlights Through the Years
The Sharks finished third in the Pacific Division in their inaugural season at SAP Center, good enough to clinch the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. In a conference quarterfinal series, the Sharks eliminated the top seeded Detroit Red Wings, the favorites to win the Stanley Cup, in a seven-game upset. They led the Toronto Maple Leafs three games to two in the semifinals before losing the final two games and the series.

“The year before, the Sharks lost the most games in NHL history,” said James Hamnett, director of booking and event manager. “This was the first significant event for the Sharks.”

Sharks_-_Getty_300_200.jpegThe San Jose Sharks turn the arena into the Shark Tank each NHL season. (Getty Images)

The high point for the team came in the 2015-16 season, when the Sharks won the conference championship and played in the Stanley Cup Final, losing the best-of-seven series to the Pittsburgh Penguins four games to two.

Expectations remain high for the home team. “The hockey team is very strong; the Sharks are having a good year,” Tortora said. “The GM and coach have done a great job integrating young players into the lineup to create a very strong, balanced, fast-paced and competitive team that’s in the hunt for the Stanley Cup. It helps that the venue and team are all under one ownership, so the operations are aligned.” The Sharks and SAP Center are both owned by San Jose Sports and Entertainment, headed by Hasso Plattner. 

The arena was the site of the 1997 NHL All-Star Game and will play host to the event again next year.

SAP Center also has hosted gymnastics and figure skating national championships as well as both the men’s and women’s NCAA basketball tournaments, plus indoor soccer, indoor football, roller hockey, lacrosse and boxing.

For nonsports events, San Jose’s ethnic diversity means the venue’s musical acts have included virtually every genre, from classic to alternative rock to country and Hispanic programming.

The arena also has featured some of the top musical performers in the business, including Paul McCartney, U2, Madonna and the Rolling Stones. SAP Center was one of five U.S. venues to snag a spot on that 1994 tour that marked Barbra Streisand’s return to the concert stage, and it hosted Luciano Pavarotti three times.

And that’s just the start. “Our first-ever event was Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, and this year we had Cirque du Soleil,” Becher said. “In the past, we’ve had inspirational speakers like Tony Robbins and former President Bill Clinton. We try to have broad distribution for widespread appeal.”

SAP Center’s scope is more community-oriented than other arenas of its size. For example, it hosts high school graduations free of charge.

Goddard adds that another highlight was the Billy Graham Crusade in 1997. “Over the three days we estimated the attendance was 71,500. The event was free, and we had to set up overflow areas outside the building.”

Looking ahead, the ownership is talking about further upgrades to the venue.

“We’re having a large conversation with the Sharks, who are looking to upgrade their locker room, which would reconfigure the lower level,” Kirsner said. “We want to stay where we are and do what’s necessary to keep the building competitive and up to date.”

Ideas being considered include blowing out seats to create a loge area with a bar for viewing from the concourse. The installation of bunker seats or a lower-level bar are other options on the table. 

“SAP Center is still one of the top buildings in the NHL, even at 25 years old,” said Jim Sparaco, director of public relations and business operations for the arena and the Sharks. “It continues to drive world-class artists and events, and we’re excited to celebrate many more great experiences at the building.”


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WINNING THE SPACE RACE
 
Posted: 30 Aug 2018, 10:00 pm

ParkWhiz works to help fans park easier and get in faster at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit. (Getty Images)

The days of waiting for parking spots at venues are over.

Those who choose to zip into a parking spot ahead of the rest of the crowd can do so with the help of ParkWhiz, a 12-year-old company that works with venues and ticketing agencies to get guests in and out of parking lots quickly. 

ParkWhiz is an e-parking company that allows fans to book parking spots before they attend a concert or sporting event. The ParkWhiz app helps them navigate to the spot as they get close to the venue.

Prepaid parking improves attendees’ pre-event experience, since it can reduce the lines of drivers waiting to pay their way into parking lots. But there’s another benefit for venues, said Dan Roarty, president of consumer brands for Chicago-based ParkWhiz: Studies have shown that guests will spend up to 35 percent more inside a venue if they buy their parking spot ahead of time.

“It just makes logical sense. If you’re taking out your wallet and paying 20 to 40 bucks to park, you feel like you’ve already invested in the venue,” he said. “If you pay $15 prepay, people forget they’ve paid for parking before they get there.”

ParkWhiz works with ticketing agencies such as Ticketmaster and secondary ticketer StubHub, not only to advertise but also to prompt ticket websites to ask customers whether they want to prepay for parking after buying tickets. 

“If you were buying tickets to a Kid Rock show, there is a cross ad for parking on the website. We curate the three most relevant parking destinations next to the venue,” Roarty said. 

The company also works with venue operators to ensure spots are reserved for those who choose to e-reserve a parking spot in advance. 

Joe Leung, vice president of parking for Olympia Development of Michigan, works with ParkWhiz to ensure that fans can easily park at one of the many venues operated by fellow Ilitch Holdings subsidiary Olympia Entertainment, including Detroit’s Fox Theatre; Little Caesars Arena, home to the Ilitch-owned Detroit Red Wings of the NHL as well as the NBA’s Detroit Pistons; and Comerica Park, home to Major League Baseball’s Detroit Tigers, another Ilitch-owned team.

Olympia started working with ParkWhiz in 2012, when Joe Louis Arena was home to the Red Wings. When Little Caesars Arena opened last year. Olympia decided to continue its partnership with the company. 

“Our goal is to get people into the parking lot and into the venue as soon as possible, so they can spend more on food, beverage and merchandise,” Leung said.

Before Olympia used ParkWhiz, venuegoers had to rely on signs and banners to find parking garages and lots, Leung said. 

“That time of transaction in the lane gets cut down significantly” with ParkWhiz, he said. Now, it can be taken care of before the event, which he said is priceless. 

“Our goal is to drive everyone to prepurchases. They’re a better customer to us. They get in faster. It really extends the guest experience from the parking lot to the venue itself,” he said. 

Venue managers are always looking for ways to enhance the customer experience, not just while they’re in the venue.

“The experience doesn’t start when you get to the front door,” Leung said, noting that he works with 33 parking lots/garages to get guests into Olympia-run shows and sporting events. 

ParkWhiz also works with mom-and-pop-run parking lots, but they run security checks on those operations before partnering with them. 

“In the last year we’ve really doubled down and worked on providing transportation solutions with venues,” Roarty said. For example, if a venue doesn’t have access to guest parking, ParkWhiz partners with nearby parking operators and hooks them into a deal with a venue. 

“Now they can get a revenue share,” Roarty said. “They’ve really created a mini-economy around their venue.”

ParkWhiz also partners with travel and motor companies such as Ford. The next big thing for ParkWhiz is making parking totally wireless with Bluetooth capabilities, Roarty said. 

“We’d automatically let you in when you pull up. There are a number of technical ways to do it,” he said, highlighting that new cars coming off the manufacturing line have better wireless capabilities, which will help ParkWhiz with future initiatives.

“No one ever monkeyed with (parking) for years. In reality now, every customer expects to pay for things with their phone,” Roarty said. “It’s time. The industry has to catch up.” 

 

Hitting the Spot: ParkWhiz Facts

• The company works with hundreds of venues and teams to offer parking that’s integrated with ticketing platforms, team sites and apps. 

• ParkWhiz offers parking for more than 500 venues in both on-site and off-site lots and garages in 190 cities nationwide.

• Ticketmaster has been a ParkWhiz partner since 2015. The agreement covers parking for 135 venues.

• A study at one partner arena found that people who buy parking in advance spent, on average, 35 percent more in the venue than those who did not prepurchase parking.

Source: ParkWhiz


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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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VenueConnect's environmental impact was minimal
 
Posted: 16 Oct 2014, 2:57 pm
VenueConnect's is the first conference that the Oregon Convention Center has measured the water, waste, and energy statistics.

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The 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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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Wesley Burtch Dickson
 
Posted: 16 Oct 2014, 2:57 pm
Wes founded his business, Advanced Equipment Corp., in 1957. In 1959, the business moved to Orange County, California.

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Shared activities make experiences more intense
 
Posted: 16 Oct 2014, 2:57 pm
Here?s some scientific support on the value of live experiences.

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AEG Live acquires two historic Virginia theatres
 
Posted: 16 Oct 2014, 2:57 pm
Those theatres are The National Theatre in Richmond and The NorVa Theatre in Norfolk, Virginia.

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Earl R. Williams
 
Posted: 16 Oct 2014, 2:57 pm
Earl was employed with Kimble Glass Co. and later Ball State University as Conference Director and General Manager of Emens Auditorium.

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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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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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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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Scheduling events at Florida colleges and universities is a smart choice
 
Posted: 31 Mar 2014, 8:00 pm

Educational facilities throughout Florida give attendees a chance to relive the college experience.

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Convention centers adapt to tradeshows of today
 
Posted: 31 Mar 2014, 8:00 pm

Modern convention centers are about experience as much as setting.

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IACC Americas Conference Sees Attendee Uptick
 
Posted: 18 Mar 2014, 8:00 pm

The 2014 IACC Annual Conference reported it has attracted the most registered attendees since 2008.

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State College, Pennsylvania, is a happening, business-savvy hub
 
Posted: 27 Oct 2013, 8:00 pm

State College, home to Pennsylvania State University, welcomes groups with its vibrant ambiance and excellent on-campus (and off-site) facilities.

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A quick take on recent openings and upgrades in the world of conference centers
 
Posted: 24 Apr 2013, 8:00 pm

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A Q&A with Mark Cooper, new CEO of the International Association of Conference Centres
 
Posted: 24 Apr 2013, 8:00 pm
IACC's new CEO shares his insights on the events industry

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Get Smart
 
Posted: 17 Feb 2013, 7:00 pm
On the fence about booking a college venue? These benefits might convince you.

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Areas of Study
 
Posted: 17 Feb 2013, 7:00 pm
University meetings think outside of the classroom

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School Spirit
 
Posted: 17 Feb 2013, 7:00 pm
College stadiums and arenas are a classic choice for large groups

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Billboard.biz Has Moved! Here's How to Get to Our New Site
 
Posted: 26 Jan 2013, 4:00 pm
On Saturday, January 26, Billboard.biz took a bold step forward in its evolution: Along with Billboard’s fully revamped magazine, newly launched iPad app and the relaunched Billboard.com, the all-new Billboard.biz has exciting new features and functionalities that will allow us to lead the essential conversations around the music business and its community in better and bigger ways than ever before. But we've moved servers -- here are details on where to find us while until our migration is complete.

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A Preview of This Week's Billboard
 
Posted: 25 Jan 2013, 6:29 pm
Justin Bieber has granted only one major interview for the Jan. 29 release of his new album Believe Acoustic. Billboard got it. In his fourth cover story for us, Bieber opens up to editorial director Bill Werde.

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Exclusive: HSN Partners With Las Vegas' Venetian On Concert Series
 
Posted: 25 Jan 2013, 3:33 pm
HSN is taking its Live music division on the road with a Las Vegas residency at the Venetial Resort Hotel Casino.The series kicks off Feb. 8 with Michael Bolton, who will debut his new studio album, "Ain’t No Mountain High Enough: A Tribute to Hitsville U.S.A." with Motown greats Smokey Robinson, Valerie Simpson and Martha Reeves as well as Kelly Rowland and Melanie Fiona

Read the full article

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Exclusive: HSN Partners With Las Vegas' Venetian On Concert Series
 
Posted: 25 Jan 2013, 3:33 pm
HSN is taking its Live music division on the road with a Las Vegas residency at the Venetial Resort Hotel Casino.The series kicks off Feb. 8 with Michael Bolton, who will debut his new studio album, "Ain’t No Mountain High Enough: A Tribute to Hitsville U.S.A." with Motown greats Smokey Robinson, Valerie Simpson and Martha Reeves as well as Kelly Rowland and Melanie Fiona

Read the full article

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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.

Read the full article

............................................................



Exclusive: Flaming Lips to Star in Hyundai Super Bowl Commercial
 
Posted: 24 Jan 2013, 4:32 pm
When the Flaming Lips formed nearly 30 years ago, the notion that the group would be performing a song called "Sun Blows Up Today" in a Super Bowl ad would have been as surreal some of their lyrics. But that's exactly what will happen when the group stars in one of Hyundai's four spots during the big game,  a 60-second commercial that will feature the band on-camera performing a brand-new, custom-written song bearing that name.

Read the full article

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Pepsi, Vevo to Spotlight Best New Artists, 'X Factor' Winner Tate Stevens During Grammys
 
Posted: 24 Jan 2013, 12:54 pm
Pepsi has announced collaborations with Pandora and Vevo for the Grammy Awards. With Vevo, Pepsi will produce a video series based around the Best New Artists nominees; and with Pandora the company will curate a Best New Artist mixtape as well as genre stations.

Read the full article

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Mnet America Hosting Grammy-Week Party With K-Pop Star Ailee
 
Posted: 24 Jan 2013, 9:43 am
Billboard can exclusively reveal when, where and who will be at Mnet America's 1st Annual Pre-Grammy Party featuring a K-pop starlet, YouTube sensation and "The Voice" contestants.

Read the full article

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13 Points to Watch at MIDEM 2013
 
Posted: 24 Jan 2013, 8:00 am
As the world's largest trade fair for the music industry, MIDEM can be daunting to navigate. Last year's gathering drew more than 6,850 attendees from 77 countries, representing 3,120 companies, including 155 startups. So, how best to manage MIDEM?

Read the full article

............................................................



13 Points to Watch at MIDEM 2013
 
Posted: 24 Jan 2013, 8:00 am
As the world's largest trade fair for the music industry, MIDEM can be daunting to navigate. Last year's gathering drew more than 6,850 attendees from 77 countries, representing 3,120 companies, including 155 startups. So, how best to manage MIDEM?

Read the full article

............................................................



13 Points to Watch at MIDEM 2013
 
Posted: 24 Jan 2013, 8:00 am
As the world's largest trade fair for the music industry, MIDEM can be daunting to navigate. Last year's gathering drew more than 6,850 attendees from 77 countries, representing 3,120 companies, including 155 startups. So, how best to manage MIDEM?

Read the full article

............................................................



Downtown Sells Label to Cofounders, Focuses on Publishing
 
Posted: 24 Jan 2013, 7:00 am
Downtown Music LLC, the privately held parent company of Downtown Records and Downtown Music Publishing, today announced the sale of its recorded music business to cofounders Josh Deutsch and Terence Lam.

Read the full article

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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.

Read the full article

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Black Keys File Third Lawsuit Against 'Soundalikes' in TV Commercials
 
Posted: 23 Jan 2013, 6:50 pm
After settling two lawsuits with Pizza Hut and Home Depot in December over alleged use of its songs in commercials, the Black Keys have filed a third lawsuit -- this time, against Pinnacle Entertainment, which runs casinos throughout the United States, and Manhattan Production Music, a company that creates music for commercial advertising.

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Exclusive: Verizon Teams With Jill Scott for Black History Month Campaign
 
Posted: 23 Jan 2013, 6:24 pm
Verizon has teamed with Jill Scott for a multi-tiered print, TV and online advertising campaign to coincide with Black History Month, a rare artist endorsement deal for both parties, Billboard has learned.

Read the full article

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Madonna's 'MDNA' Tour Makes Billboard Boxscore's All-Time Top 10
 
Posted: 23 Jan 2013, 6:05 pm
The globe-trotting "MDNA" tour marks Madonna's ascent into the elite ranks of touring acts -- and makes her the top touring female artist of all time.

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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.

Read the full article

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Searching For The Next 'Sugar Man'? Try 'Twenty Feet From Stardom'
 
Posted: 23 Jan 2013, 1:30 pm
This year's Sundance had a half-dozen music-driven docs, including: Dave Grohl's "Sound City," "History of the Eagles, Part One," "Pussy Riot -- A Punk Prayer," "Narco Culturo" and "Mussel Shoals" -- all fine films. But the power of Morgan Neville's "Twenty Feet From Stardom," a story chronicling of the lives of background singers who sang on era-defining records from the 1960s into the 1990s, is such that it transcends the typical music documentary ecliciting gasps of disbelief, spontaneous applause and tears. It's a winner.

Read the full article

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Exclusive: SFX Acquires ID&T, Voodoo Experience
 
Posted: 23 Jan 2013, 8:05 am
SFX Entertainment has added five new companies to its portfolio, including Voodoo Experience and ID&T -- the largest dance-event promoter in the world -- according to its president Robert F.X. Sillerman. While recent chatter has hinted that Insomniac Events, the producer of Electric Daisy Carnival, would imminently announce a sale to Sillerman, the ID&T news might make that less likely -- although Sillerman didn't rule it out...

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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, Billboard.biz has learned. This is the second major signing of the young year for RLM, which recently added Tiesto to its growing list of clients.

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............................................................



Exclusive: Lionel Richie Signs With Red Light Management
 
Posted: 22 Jan 2013, 3:08 pm
Legendary hit maker Lionel Richie has signed with Red Light Management for representation, Billboard.biz has learned. This is the second major signing of the young year for RLM, which recently added Tiesto to its growing list of clients.

Read the full article

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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 Billboard.biz, but not due to lack of interest. While Leiweke declined to mention who the serious bidders were, he did indicate that the field has narrowed.  “We’re getting down to the final straws here,” he said.

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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 Billboard.biz, but not due to lack of interest. While Leiweke declined to mention who the serious bidders were, he did indicate that the field has narrowed.  “We’re getting down to the final straws here,” he said.

Read the full article

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'Pussy Riot - A Punk Prayer,' 'Twenty Feet From Stardom' Sell At Sundance
 
Posted: 21 Jan 2013, 6:17 am
Add “Pussy Riot — A Punk Prayer” to the growing music-centric documentaries sold at the Sundance Film Festival. HBO Docs acquired U.S. TV rights to the political documentary that received its world premiere Jan. 18. "Twenty Feet From Stardom," which tells the stories of several prominent backup singers, sold on Thursday to Radius and the Weinstein Co.

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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 Billboard.biz 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.

Read the full article

............................................................



Six Music-Related Issues Facing This Administration and Congress
 
Posted: 18 Jan 2013, 4:45 pm
From performance royalties to deciding how musicians travel with their instruments on airplanes, numerous issues central to the music industry are alive Washington D.C. as the city prepares for the president inauguration on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

Read the full article

............................................................



Prince to Be Honored at Billboard Music Awards on May 19
 
Posted: 18 Jan 2013, 4:00 pm
The 2013 Billboard Music Awards are returning to Las Vegas on Sunday, May 19 and will honor the legendary artist Prince during a live ABC broadcast from the MGM Grand Garden Arena.

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Beyonce, Katy Perry, More Head to D.C. for Packed Slate of Obama Inauguration Events
 
Posted: 18 Jan 2013, 12:58 pm
Kelly Clarkson is a multiple nominee at next month's Grammy Awards, but what she's really excited about is another event where she'll be joined by Beyonce, Katy Perry, Stevie Wonder, Alicia Keys, Usher and Brad Paisley. Oh, and the president.

Read the full article

............................................................



CD Baby Parent Company AVL Digital Group Sold
 
Posted: 18 Jan 2013, 10:44 am
AVL Digital Group -- the parent company of CD Baby, Disc Makers and other self-publishing platforms -- has been sold to Stephens Capital Partners, a private equity group based in Little Rock, Arkansas, Billboard.biz has learned.

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NARM Names Muve Music's Jeff Toig, Dimple Records' Dilyn Radakovitz to Board
 
Posted: 18 Jan 2013, 10:34 am
Muve Music senior VP Jeff Toig and Dimple Records founder and owner Dilyn Radakovitz have joined the board of directors of both NARM, the music business trade association, and digitalmusic.org, its digital initiatives arm.

Read the full article

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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.

Read the full article

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Backbeat: Carrie Underwood Celebrates No. 1 With 'Blown Away' Co-Writers Josh Kear and Chris Tompkins
 
Posted: 17 Jan 2013, 4:46 pm
Carrie Underwood joined Josh Kear and Chris Tompkins, the two songwriters who penned "Blown Away," at the CMA offices on Wednesday to celebrate their song hitting the top of the charts.

Read the full article

............................................................



Elizabeth Sobol Named Decca Label Group President and CEO
 
Posted: 17 Jan 2013, 12:15 pm
Elizabeth Sobol, current managing director at IMG Artists North America, has been named Decca Label Group's president and CEO. Sobol will report to Universal Music Group International's chairman and CEO Max Hole, who was promoted to that position last week.

Read the full article

............................................................



HMV Shutters Irish Operations, Appoints Receivers as Staff Stages Sit-In
 
Posted: 17 Jan 2013, 11:45 am
Staff at two HMV stores in Ireland have staged sit-in protests to secure their wages following the closure of the company’s 16 Irish stores, according to reports. HMV’s Irish operations were placed into receivership 24 hours after the British music retailer HMV confirmed it was suspending the trading of its shares and entering administration, the U.K. equivalent of Chapter 11.

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Andre Rieu, Bieber's 'Believe' Tour Top Hot Tours Chart
 
Posted: 17 Jan 2013, 10:50 am
Classical music dominates this week's Hot Tours report with Dutch violinist and conductor André Rieu earning the No. 1 ranking, followed by Justin Bieber's Believe Tour return and Phish's sold-out show at Madison Square Garden.

Read the full article

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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.

Read the full article

............................................................



Dave Grohl, Avicii and Afrojack: A Promoter's Approach to Booking Music at Sundance
 
Posted: 17 Jan 2013, 10:31 am
Park City Live is the only regularly operating nightclub in Park City, Utah, home of the Sundance Film Festival running Jan. 17-27, which will enter its second year of operation as a concert venue the day the festival begins. Here, Park City Live CEO Kathryn Burns talks about her first year promoting the venue.

Read the full article

............................................................



Dave Grohl, Avicii and Afrojack: A Promoter's Approach to Booking Music at Sundance
 
Posted: 17 Jan 2013, 10:31 am
Park City Live is the only regularly operating nightclub in Park City, Utah, home of the Sundance Film Festival running Jan. 17-27, which will enter its second year of operation as a concert venue the day the festival begins. Here, Park City Live CEO Kathryn Burns talks about her first year promoting the venue.

Read the full article

............................................................



Ticketfly Expands Into Canada
 
Posted: 17 Jan 2013, 10:00 am
Ticketfly announced Thursday it has expanded into Canada by signing two of the country's top promoters, acquiring Prime Box Office ticketing company and securing some promoters and venues.

Read the full article

............................................................



Sony/ATV Negotiates 25% Royalty Increase From Pandora: Report
 
Posted: 17 Jan 2013, 8:01 am
The newly combined Sony/ATV-EMI music publishing powerhouse has used its market clout to negotiate a 25% royalty increase from Pandora, according to a report in the New York Post. The deal is said to run for the next 12 months.

Read the full article

............................................................



Mark Poston, EMI Australia Chairman, Steps Down
 
Posted: 16 Jan 2013, 9:38 pm
Mark Poston, EMI Australia’s chairman, is out as Universal Music continues its global integration of EMI. According to Universal Music, Poston “decided to step down” from his current position as chairman and senior VP marketing, Australasia at EMI Music Australia. UMA's president George Ash will oversee EMI Australasia until a replacement is announced.

Read the full article

............................................................



Business Matters: How Facebook Search Could Provide Cheap Market Research for Music Marketers
 
Posted: 16 Jan 2013, 8:13 pm
Facebook’s Graph Search doesn’t have a lot of obvious music uses but could end up being a free and useful tool for music marketers. As the Inside Facebook blog points out, the search tool provides an opportunity for businesses to conduct market research about specific groups of fans for free.

Read the full article

............................................................



LyricFind Partners with Gracenote, Gets Investment from Larry Marcus
 
Posted: 16 Jan 2013, 4:40 pm
LyricFind will now power all of Gracenote's lyric services as part of their new partnership, while BandPage director Larry Marcus will be providing his experience, and a personal investment, to the company.

Read the full article

............................................................



SoundExchange Distributions Grew 58% to $462 Million in 2012
 
Posted: 16 Jan 2013, 2:21 pm
SoundExchange distributed $462 million in digital performing royalties in 2012, a 58% increase over 2011, the organization announced Wednesday

Read the full article

............................................................



Lucian Grainge, Michael Lynton, will.i.am to Co-Host Inaugural Innovation Summit
 
Posted: 16 Jan 2013, 1:30 pm
Innovation Forum, an inaugural summit of business leaders from the U.S. and U.K., will come together Feb. 4-5 in Los Angeles, kicking off 2013 Grammy week. UMG Chairman & CEO Lucian Grainge, Sony Ent. CEO Michael Lynton, Ari Emanuel, co-CEO of WME, and musician will.i.am will co-host the event co-sponsored by the Founder's Forum and UK Trade & Investment.

Read the full article

............................................................



Sony Music Boosts Digital Team With Ole Obermann and Mark Piibe
 
Posted: 16 Jan 2013, 10:29 am
In a statement today from Sony Music Entertainment's president of global digital business and U.S. sales Dennis Kooker, the company announced the creation and appointment of two new, digitally focused positions; current Sony Music executive Ole Obermann has been named executive vice president, digital partner development and sales, while Mark Piibe will be leaving EMI to take on the role of executive vice president, global business development and digital strategy.

Read the full article

............................................................



Next Big Sound's 2012 State of Online Music
 
Posted: 15 Jan 2013, 6:29 pm
Next Big Sound, the data analytics company, has released their 2012 State of Online Music report. Below is an outline of the report's key takeaways by Big Sound's data journalist Liv Buli.  

Read the full article

............................................................



Business Matters: Relaunched Myspace Is a Success as Music Service -- But As a Social Network? We'll See ...
 
Posted: 15 Jan 2013, 5:35 pm
The redesigned Myspace finally opened up to the public today. The site, a year and a half in the works, is both a social network and a music discovery destination.

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Justin Timberlake's 'Suit & Tie' Aiming for First-Week Sales of 350,000
 
Posted: 15 Jan 2013, 4:44 pm
As reported yesterday (Jan. 14), Justin Timberlake's new single "Suit & Tie" is selling briskly and bound for a big first-week sales figure; label sources suggest that "Suit & Tie" may sell around 330,000 - 350,000 downloads by the end of the tracking week on Sunday, Jan. 20.

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Arts & Crafts Label Announces Ten-Year Anniversary Events
 
Posted: 15 Jan 2013, 2:16 pm
Toronto indie label Arts & Crafts, which helped spawn the careers of Feist and Broken Social Scene among others, is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year with AC10, a series of events, releases and collaborations in music, fashion, photography and literature.

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Facebook Unveils Social Search Feature
 
Posted: 15 Jan 2013, 1:50 pm
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has unveiled a new search feature on the world's biggest online social network. Called "graph search," the new service lets users search their social connections for information about people, interests, photos and places.

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Universal Music France President Pascal Negre Named UMG's Global Head of New Business
 
Posted: 15 Jan 2013, 12:15 pm
Pascal Nègre, president at Universal Music France, Italy, Middle East and Africa, has been promoted to UMG's global head of new business, according to a press release.

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Billboard's Parent Company Names Ross Levinsohn CEO
 
Posted: 15 Jan 2013, 10:41 am
Billboard's parent company has a new leader: Former Yahoo and Fox Interactive Media executive Ross Levinsohn.

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Morning Fix: UMJ's Koike to Head EMI Japan; Justin Timberlake Single's Fast Start; Facebook's Mystery Announcement
 
Posted: 15 Jan 2013, 8:30 am
In today's Fix: Universal Music Japan CEO Kazuhiko Koike to head up EMI Japan; Justin Timberlake's long-awaited single "Suit and Tie" gets off to a fast start; today's Facebook mystery announcement; UK's HMV facing bankruptcy; Rolling Stones lead Hot Tours; Greg Sandoval leaving CNET; Arts & Crafts' tenth anniversary; Country Music Association is going to Disneyland Paris; and way more than you could ever fit into the world's largest bagel.  

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Universal Music Japan's Kazuhiko Koike To Head EMI Japan
 
Posted: 15 Jan 2013, 8:07 am
Universal Music Japan today announced that its President and CEO Kazuhiko Koike will assume on the role of president/CEO of EMI Music Japan as well, replacing longtime CEO Hitoshi Namekata.

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Warner Music Sued for Millions by George Gershwin Heirs
 
Posted: 14 Jan 2013, 8:39 pm
A new lawsuit objects to the way that the music giant has licensed famous compositions and booked revenue.

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Greg Sandoval, Senior CNET Writer, Resigns Over CBS Controversy
 
Posted: 14 Jan 2013, 12:39 pm
CNET editor Greg Sandoval told Twitter earlier today that he's quitting the venerable tech news site over parent company CBS's apparent demand that the publication drop Dish Network's ad-skipping Hopper feature from consideration for its "Best of CES" awards.

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Indie Band Love in the Circus Explores 3D Imaging at CES
 
Posted: 14 Jan 2013, 12:14 pm
Music can be as much about the visuals as it is about the sound. Among the more intriguing demonstrations of this at this year's Consumer Electronics Show was a video display in the Sony booth from an independent band called Love in the Circus; the Los Angeles based band used projection imaging to create a live stage that evokes a Cirque du Soleil-esque setting, wrapping custom animations around a physical stage set.

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Indie Band Love in the Circus Explores 3D Imaging at CES
 
Posted: 14 Jan 2013, 12:14 pm
Music can be as much about the visuals as it is about the sound. Among the more intriguing demonstrations of this at this year's Consumer Electronics Show was a video display in the Sony booth from an independent band called Love in the Circus; the Los Angeles based band used projection imaging to create a live stage that evokes a Cirque du Soleil-esque setting, wrapping custom animations around a physical stage set.

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Pop Leads U.K. Album Sales for Second Year Running
 
Posted: 14 Jan 2013, 10:29 am
Big-selling albums from Emeli Sandé, Adele, Ed Sheeran and One Direction ensured that pop remained the most-popular genre in the United Kingdom in 2012, according to new figures released by the Official Charts Company (OCC) and British labels trade body the BPI.

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Rolling Stones Lead Hot Tours with '50' Shows
 
Posted: 14 Jan 2013, 10:05 am
Rock legends the Rolling Stones stand at the top of Hot Tours this week with ticket sales reaching $38.6 million from the 50 and Counting Tour, while Nickelback, Jennifer Lopez and Elton John reach the top ten on the strength of their Australian tours.

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Rolling Stones Lead Hot Tours with '50' Shows
 
Posted: 14 Jan 2013, 10:05 am
Rock legends the Rolling Stones stand at the top of Hot Tours this week with ticket sales reaching $38.6 million from the 50 and Counting Tour, while Nickelback, Jennifer Lopez and Elton John reach the top ten on the strength of their Australian tours.

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Virtual Visionaries
 
Posted: 25 Nov 2012, 7:00 pm
Emilie Barta and John Pollard aim to take the fear out of planning hybrid events

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All in the Planning
 
Posted: 11 Jul 2012, 8:00 pm

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Take 10 - Conference Centers
 
Posted: 11 Jun 2012, 8:00 pm
Take 10 - Conference Centers

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Convention Center Contacts
 
Posted: 7 Jun 2012, 8:00 pm

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Shiny and New
 
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

More...


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Gambling Headed for Hawaii Conv. Center?
 
Posted: 24 Jan 2012, 7:00 pm

More...


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A Duo of Conv. Centers Launches Free Wi-Fi
 
Posted: 23 Jan 2012, 7:00 pm

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IACC Board Sets New Service Standards
 
Posted: 30 Nov 2011, 7:00 pm

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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 Centers
 
Posted: 31 Dec 2010, 7:00 pm
With mounting competition, conference centers get flexible

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Conference Center Changes
 
Posted: 31 Dec 2010, 7:00 pm
Conference Center Changes

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On Location - Convention Centers
 
Posted: 31 May 2010, 8:00 pm

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University Venues
 
Posted: 30 Apr 2010, 8:00 pm
Campus Culture

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Conference Centers
 
Posted: 31 Mar 2010, 8:00 pm

After a tough year, conference centers see better times ahead

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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

More...


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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

More...


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Conference Centers
 
Posted: 31 Jan 2009, 7:00 pm

More...


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Conference Centers
 
Posted: 31 Jan 2009, 7:00 pm
Conference Call

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Conference Call
 
Posted: 31 Dec 2008, 7:00 pm

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