News

 
Autopsy: Tom Petty Died of Accidental Overdose
 
Posted: 19 Jan 2018, 10:51 pm
Tom Petty?s family says his death last year was due to an accidental drug overdose.

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Police Release Initial Findings Regarding Route 91 Shooter
 
Posted: 19 Jan 2018, 9:16 pm
Authorities have learned more about the gunman behind the Route 91 Harvest shooting in Las Vegas, having spoken with his girlfriend and completed a preliminary report on the attack.

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Fall Out Boy Announces ‘M A N I A’ Tour Dates
 
Posted: 19 Jan 2018, 8:21 pm
In addition to releasing its seventh studio album today, Fall Out Boy just rolled out the itinerary for a North American late summer/fall tour.

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Country Megaticket Includes Jason Aldean, Rascal Flatts, Miranda Lambert And More
 
Posted: 19 Jan 2018, 7:37 pm
Live Nation and Xfinity Center announced the 2018 Country Megaticket packages including six concerts at the Mansfield, Ma., facility.

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Kauffman Stadium Hosts First Concert In 39 Years
 
Posted: 19 Jan 2018, 2:37 pm
Billy Joel is returning to Kansas City, Miss., to play at Kauffman Stadium, marking the baseball parks? first concert in 39 years.

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Reviews: Steve Martin / Martin Short, The Killers & More
 
Posted: 19 Jan 2018, 1:57 pm
Lil Uzi Vert, 3 Doors Down, Walk The Moon, and Granger Smith are all included in our weekly grab-bag of concert reviews.

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Dynamic Pricing In The European Concert Industry
 
Posted: 19 Jan 2018, 11:36 am
Dynamic pricing is increasingly being talked about in the European events industry. But is the success of flexibly priced tickets in other industries enough to consider it for the live business?

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Journey And Def Leppard Team For Co-Headlining Tour
 
Posted: 19 Jan 2018, 8:46 am
Promising to be one of the year?s top tours, Journey and Def Leppard will venture forth on a 58-city co-headlining outing.

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Steve "Grizzly" Nesbitt Dies
 
Posted: 18 Jan 2018, 10:39 pm
Steve ?Grizzly? Nesbitt, former drummer for Grammy-winning reggae band Steel Pulse, died suddenly Jan. 18 of unknown causes.

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Scooter Braun To Be Honored At Midem
 
Posted: 18 Jan 2018, 8:53 pm
Midem is honoring SB Projects founder Scooter Braun as the music industry?s event?s first-ever recipient of the ?Midem Hall of Fame Award.?

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Movie Tickets Down, Prices Up In 2017
 
Posted: 18 Jan 2018, 8:52 pm
The number of movie tickets sold decreased in 2017, but revenues were partially offset by increasing prices, according to data from the National Association of Theatre Owners.

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Former Ataris Bassist Faces Scam Charges
 
Posted: 18 Jan 2018, 7:52 pm
FormerThe Atarisbassist Michael Sean Davenport is accused of running a $27 million real-estate scam and is reportedly set to go to court Jan. 24.

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DakotaDome Facelift Moves Forward
 
Posted: 18 Jan 2018, 7:36 pm
University of South Dakota officials are moving forward onupgradingthe 10,000-capacity DakotaDome.

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Vince Staples
 
Posted: 18 Jan 2018, 7:08 pm
Pop music and culture have clearly shifted toward rap and hip-hop in recent years, and one prime example isVince Staples, who blends hip-hop with danceable, electronic and experimental elements for a sound that resonates with young fans and critics alike. The 24-year-old North Long Beach native?s wide appeal was clear early, and Coachella festival co-founder and Goldenvoice CEO Paul Tollett was ahead of the game.

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Promoter John Meglen Talks Chris Young Tour, Ticket Pricing
 
Posted: 18 Jan 2018, 6:49 pm
Chris Young, who just kicked off his ?Losing Sleep 2018 World Tour? Jan. 11 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, has sold out the first North American leg of the tour according to Concerts West Co-CEO John Meglen, who notes that the AEG Presents partner doesn?t only do Rolling Stones, Celine Dion and Roger Waters-sized tours.

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Off-Duty Cop Arrested Over Concert Kerfuffle
 
Posted: 18 Jan 2018, 3:46 pm
An off-duty police officer was arrested after allegedly getting out of control at a concert at a Ja Rule / Ashanti concert at the Palladium in Worcester, Mass., Jan. 13.

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Developer Sues Virginia Beach For $140 Million
 
Posted: 18 Jan 2018, 3:42 pm
A developer is suing Virginia Beach, Va., for $140 million after the city allegedly ruined its reputation by pulling out of a deal to build an arena.

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Live Nation Urban Partners With Broccoli City For Broccoli City Festival
 
Posted: 18 Jan 2018, 2:53 pm
Migos, Miguel, Cardi B, Daniel Caesar and H.E.R. are just a few of the acts appearing at the sixth Annual Broccoli City Festival in Washington, D.C.

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Jason Aldean To Saddle Up For 34-City Run
 
Posted: 18 Jan 2018, 1:24 pm
Jason Aldean?s fans have something to celebrate today as the country star announces his ?High Noon Neon Tour? beginning in Kansas City in May.

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NYC Winter Jazz Fest Stuns With Nicole Mitchell, Jaimie Branch, Yazz Ahmed, TEN & Far More
 
Posted: 18 Jan 2018, 12:40 pm
New York?s Winter Jazz Festival, seven nights of concerts with a smorgasbord of club gigs over the weekend, once again served its purpose of shining a light on primarily underground talent deserving wider recognition in jazz, especially for women musicians.

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Millennials Talk Festival Safety: 'Maybe I Feel Safer Than I Actually Am'
 
Posted: 18 Jan 2018, 12:05 pm
Millennials were handed a microphone at this year?s Eurosonic Noorderslag conference in the Netherlands, to explain to festival organizers what they are looking for in an event.

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Randy Henner, Jen Lyon Named Talent Buyers For Blue Note Entertainment Group
 
Posted: 18 Jan 2018, 11:22 am
Blue Note Entertainment Group has added two talent buyers in the company?s New York City headquarters.

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Dead & Company Announces May-July Tour Beginning On East Coast
 
Posted: 18 Jan 2018, 8:53 am
Beginning its summer trek in Mansfield, Mass., in late May,Dead & Companyhas planned a two-month trek that includes arenas plus a few stadiums.Fan registration begins today.

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UK Festival Y Not Moves
 
Posted: 18 Jan 2018, 8:40 am
Y Not Festival 2018 is going to take place on Aston Hill Farm in Derbyshire, England, right next to its old location, July 26-29.

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Keith Urban’s ‘Graffiti U’ Tour Begins In June
 
Posted: 18 Jan 2018, 8:25 am
Keith Urban has touring on the mind this year.His adventure supporting his new album, Graffiti U, runs June through November and includes Kelsea Ballerini on the ticket on most dates.

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HOT TICKETS FOR JANUARY 17, 2018
 
Posted: 17 Jan 2018, 9:00 pm

Cirque Dreams "Holidaze" played at Broward Center for the Performing Arts, Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.

Our new Hot Tickets reports list the busiest buildings out there based on attendance.

Cirque Dreams: "Holidaze" kept spirits bright and ticket sales brisk on its 10th anniversary national tour during eight shows at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., at the end of the year. Attendance was 9,935 and gross sales came in at $574,247.

The holidays were a hit in Detroit as well, where Elf – The Musical pulled in 25,477 people over eight shows at the Fox Theatre, generating gross sales of $1,217,107.

HOT TICKETS is a weekly summary of the top events and ticket sales as reported to VenuePulse via Pollstar. Following are the top 20 concerts and events, the top 5 in each attendance category, which took place between Dec. 11-Jan. 10.

15,001 or More Attendance

10,001-15,000 Attendance

5,001-10,000 Attendance

5,000 or Fewer Attendance

1) Freek Vonk
Gross Sales: $1,297,541; Venue: AFAS Live, Amsterdam; Attendance: 32,144; Ticket Range: $34; Promoter: Agents After All: Dec. 27-29; No. of Shows: 9

2) Disney On Ice
Gross Sales: $978,407; Venue: Long Beach (Calif.) Arena; Attendance: 32,078; Ticket Range: $80-$15; Promoter: Feld Entertainment; Dates: Dec. 27-Jan. 1; No. of Shows: 8

3) Elf – The Musical
Gross Sales: $1,217,107; Venue: Fox Theatre, Detroit; Attendance: 25,477; Ticket Range: $71.50-$31.50; Promoter: MagicSpace Entertainment; Dates: Dec. 20-24; No. of Shows: 8

4) Trans-Siberian Orchestra
Gross Sales: $1,435,590; Venue: Toyota Center, Houston; Attendance: 21,216; Ticket Range: $77.50-$48.50; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Dec. 21; No. of Shows: 2

5) Bassnectar
Gross Sales: $2,060,177; Venue: Georgia World Congress Center, Atlanta; Attendance: 21,064; Ticket Range: $235-$89.99; Promoter: Marchone Music; Dates: Dec. 31; No. of Shows: 1

1) Paw Patrol Live!
Gross Sales: $456,532; Venue: Place Bell, Laval Quebec; Attendance: 13,985; Ticket Range: $89.50-$19.50; Promoter: Evenko; Dates: Jan. 4-5; No. of Shows: 5

2) Widespread Panic
Gross Sales: $1,322,855; Venue: Fox Theatre, Atlanta; Attendance: 13,613; Ticket Range: $141.50-$71.50; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Dec. 29-31; No. of Shows: 3

3) Avenged Sevenfold
Gross Sales: $667,985; Venue: Bridgestone Arena, Nashville, Tenn.; Attendance: 13,515; Ticket Range: $75-$25; Promoter: CMoore Live, NS2, Frank Productions, FPC Live; Dates: Jan. 12; No. of Shows: 1

4) Soy Luna Live
Gross Sales: $853,977; Venue: Palau Sant Jordi, Barcelona, Spain; Attendance: 13,094; Ticket Range: $200-$30; Promoter: DG Entertainment ; Dates: Jan. 5; No. of Shows: 1

5) Xscape
Gross Sales: $787,272; Venue: Oracle Arena, Oakland, Calif.; Attendance: 11,757; Ticket Range: $95.24-$52.38; Promoter: AEG Presents, Concerts West, Goldenvoice; Dates: Jan. 5; No. of Shows: 1

1) Cirque Dreams “Holidaze”
Gross Sales: $574,247; Venue: Broward Center for the Performing Arts, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; Attendance: 9,935; Ticket Range: $69.50-$29.50; Promoter: In-house; Dates: Dec. 26-30; No. of Shows: 8

2) Andre Rieu
Gross Sales: $962,378; Venue: Genting Arena, Birmingham, England; Attendance: 9,670; Ticket Range: $99-$45; Promoter: Andre Rieu Productions; Dates: Dec. 21; No. of Shows: 1

3) Andre Rieu
Gross Sales: $1,009,236; Venue: The SSE Arena, London; Attendance: 9,548; Ticket Range: $99-$45; Promoter: Andre Rieu Productions; Dates: Dec. 22; No. of Shows: 1

4) Kevin Hart
Gross Sales: $1,049,010; Venue: Mohegan Sun Arena, Uncasville, Conn.; Attendance: 9,340; Ticket Range: $159-$79; Promoter: In-house; Dates: Dec. 30; No. of Shows: 1

5) Riverdance
Gross Sales: $634,672; Venue: Broward Center for the Performing Arts, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; Attendance: 8,701; Ticket Range: $80.25-$35.25; Promoter: Broward County Cultural Division, Broadway Across America; Dates: Jan. 5-7; No. of Shows: 5

1) Mannheim Steamroller
Gross Sales: $230,975; Venue: Velma V. Morrison Center For The Performing Arts, Boise, Idaho; Attendance: 3,846; Ticket Range: $79.50-$44.50; Promoter: MagicSpace Entertainment; Dates: Dec. 21; No. of Shows: 2

2) Straight No Chaser
Gross Sales: $200,343; Venue: Hershey (Pa.) Theatre; Attendance: 3,835; Ticket Range: $56.65-$26.65; Promoter: Hershey Entertainment, Live Nation; Dates: Dec. 23; No. of Shows: 2

3) San Antonio Symphony Orchestra
Gross Sales: $119,934; Venue: H-E-B Performance Hall at The Tobin Center, San Antonio; Attendance: 3,485; Ticket Range: $81-$18; Promoter: San Antonio Symphony; Dates: Jan. 12-14; No. of Shows: 3

4) San Antonio Symphony Orchestra
Gross Sales: $101,731; Venue: H-E-B Performance Hall at The Tobin Center, San Antonio; Attendance: 2,599; Ticket Range: $81-$18; Promoter: San Antonio Symphony; Dates: Jan. 6-7; No. of Shows: 2

5) Paul Anka
Gross Sales: $219,750; Venue: McCallum Theatre, Palm Desert, Calif.; Attendance: 2,158; Ticket Range: $135-$65; Promoter: In-house; Dates: Jan. 12-13; No. of Shows: 2

The Weekly Hot Tickets chart is compiled by Brad Rogers, brad@pollstar.com. To submit reports, e-mail Brad@pollstar.com or submit to (714) 378-0040.

 


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Pollstar Live! Power Panel Preview: The Future Of Live Music & Streaming
 
Posted: 17 Jan 2018, 8:38 pm
One major attraction on the opening day of Pollstar Live!, Feb. 7 will be ?The Future Of Live Music & Streaming? panel featuring some serious industry digital power players.

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States To Send Net Neutrality Decision To Court
 
Posted: 17 Jan 2018, 7:58 pm
Just one month after the decision by the Federal Communications Commision to repeal previous ?net neutrality,? 21 states and advocacy groups filed paperwork to ensure that the matter will be sent to the courts for further scrutiny.

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Glenn Frey Widow Sues Hospital Claiming Wrongful Death
 
Posted: 17 Jan 2018, 7:57 pm
The widow of Eagles guitarist and co-founder Glenn Frey filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the hospital where her husband died.

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Panasonic Unveils 2025 Venue Solutions
 
Posted: 17 Jan 2018, 7:00 pm

Panasonic used Florida State's Doak Campbell Stadium as part of its CES presentation.

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

Panasonic unveiled at last week’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas its vision for smart venue solutions in sports that are expected for 2025-30, and the fan experience in a future stadium looks fantastic.

According to the company, the easy entry into the stadium, immersive entertainment, and everything that’s delivered to your seat — from content to the souvenirs via drone — will create a “richer user experience” at a venue like Florida State’s Doak Campbell Stadium.

How realistic is all this? It’s not as far away as you might think. Here are four of features in a future sports venue that Panasonic envisions and some of the companies and teams already looking to make it happen.

Facial Recognition Technology

There will be paperless entry to venues as more leagues and events move toward mobile ticketing. Panasonic foresees these gates also being unmanned  because face recognition technology will be used to authenticate identity using high-resolution, wide-angle cameras.

Already, Panasonic has been involved in at least one face matching pilot to optimize safety for FC Groningen in the Netherlands. Four HD security cameras with facial recognition software at the turnstiles match images with those in a database of people who are banned from the stadium.

The LPGA in March tested the use of NEC’s facial recognition for enabling media members and those with credentials to gain entry into secured environments at a major championship.

Augmented Reality

The expectation from Panasonic is that the form factor of AR devices will ultimately change to resemble a pair of glasses, making them more popular among consumers.

That would open up numerous possibilities for using augmented reality to entertain fans. Special AR performances before kickoff and during halftime that us the actual football field as a canvas could be used to fire up the crowd. Augmented reality content for the phone could allow fans to take selfies with players anywhere in the stadium. And last year, Panasonic showed how its AR projection could be used to transform the windows of a luxury suite into yet another screen for fans to experience interactive content.

Augmented reality is progressing to the point where it’s being incorporated more in live sports. Major League Baseball will enable fans at the stadium this season to hold up an Apple mobile device to get more information on players and situations in augmented reality.

FC Bayern Munich has itself used ARKit to enable fans to take photos with augmented reality players while also using Canadian company ARHT (Augmented Reality Holographic Telepresence) to delivered a live news conference using holograms of coaches.

Drone Delivery

In Panasonic’s vision, not only can a smart guide system analyze your ticket information and know to suggest your favorite foods, but once you’ve ordered souvenirs, they can be delivered to your seat by a drone that knows your location.

While the FAA along with leagues and teams wary of malicious drones will have something to say about this, could attitudes change in the future? Food deliveries by drones aren’t new, and there are signs that drone deliveries could happen. In fact, drone deliveries are expected to be part of the tech innovation for fans in Pyeongchang next month.

In Argentina, one soccer team even had its own drone flying around in-stadium before it was brought down by a fan who threw a roll of cash register paper. So while this vision could be achieved, there are plenty of downsides.

Personalized Instant Replay

Panasonic can see fans having an interactive system that allows them to replay the action from different angles of any play that has just finished, and it’s easy to see why, because the company has already tested the use of VOGO Sport in golf and soccer. The French startup enables replays in real-time as fans in the venue are able to control the camera angle.

Another company to watch in this space is Kiswe, which has enabled the Monumental Sports Network to test ways in which it can engage fans with multi-angle streaming and replays.


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Garth Brooks To Close Out Pollstar Live! Conference With Keynote Q&A
 
Posted: 17 Jan 2018, 5:47 pm
Garth Brooks will help the Pollstar Live! 2018 conference wrap up with a bang by participating in a Keynote Q&A, along with key players from his extraordinarily successful North American tour.

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Prudential Center Debuts Primepoint Lounge
 
Posted: 17 Jan 2018, 5:00 pm

Prudential Center, Newark, N.J., has developed a new premium hospitality space. The Primepoint Lounge, named for the New Jersey Devils’ payroll processing firm, is tied to a 2,600-sq.-ft. room on the second suite level at the Newark arena.

The lounge is a retrofit of an old storage space along an outer wall and does not have views to the event floor. It features two 85-inch televisions and nine smaller screens, plus furniture and a portable bar. The room can fit up to 150 people, said officials from Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment, the Devils’ parent company.

The lounge has the flexibility to be used for games, packaging tickets with food and drink for groups, and has the technology in place for corporate functions on non-game days, team President Hugh Weber said.

Primepoint, whose headquarters are in Mount Holly, N.J., signed a multiyear deal with the Devils to sponsor the lounge. Weber would not discuss specific terms or construction costs.

As part of the agreement, Primepoint has committed to donating $25 for every assist by a Devils player, up to $10,000, to support local children with disabilities. Those efforts will be displayed on the arena’s center-hung and other digital boards, as well as the Devils’ social media platforms.

The official ribbon cutting for the lounge is scheduled for Jan. 18.

Prudential Center has also unvieled a new website Jan. 9. Enhancements incude visitor wayfinding and concession guides; amplified musician content featuring Spotify and original galleries; and a new content managemet system that will allow fans to pursue a faster, smarter and personalized experience. 

 

 

 


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Lady Antebellum And Darius Rucker To Co-headline ‘Summer Plays On Tour’
 
Posted: 17 Jan 2018, 3:44 pm
Launching in Toronto, the ?Summer Plays On Tour? starring Lady Antebellum and Darius Rucker, will play mostly amphitheatres across the land.Markets include Cleveland, San Diego, Phoenix, Chicago and Tampa.

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Q&A: Englerth Even Floats the Red Carpet
 
Posted: 17 Jan 2018, 3:00 pm

Ford Englerth Talks Live Nation Redrock Entertainment Services

From red carpets "floating" on the Chicago River to IMAX theaters housed in iconic opera houses, creating a one-of-a-kind event or tour concept is second nature to Live Nation's newest divison, Redrock Entertainment Services.

Live Nation has tapped veteran event producer Ford Englerth to head up its new specialized event production company, Redrock Entertainment Services. The production veteran who has worked as the director of production for the Southern California market for Live Nation for 23 years will run Redrock out of offices based in Burbank, Calif., with a focus on producing large-scale live events, including festivals, and specialized projects including corporate productions and collaborations with Hollywood movie studios.

Englerth told VenuesNow that Redrock has actually been up and running under the LN umbrella for nearly a year, but that he wanted to get his team coordinated before this week’s official announcement. He has been involved with Redrock since 2002 when it was primarily a film and TV management and development firm

Englerth will serve as president of Redrock, which has already produced major projects in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Miami, Las Vegas and Chicago over the past six months and has dozens more in the works for 2018. VenuesNow spoke to Englerth about his production philosophy and Redrock’s unique market proposition.

Can you give me some examples of the events we can expect from Redrock?

The things that stand out is our work with some of the movie studios, in particular Paramount Pictures. A few years back Paramount started to gravitate to fan-centric events to promote large tentpole summer movies. They approached me through a common relationship about how to facilitate some events that were complex due to the location and/or the community and asked if I was able to give them ideas for something that married a traditional movie premiere with an integrated concert that crossed over into the soundtrack for the movie. I saw great fan connection with the film property and our ability to execute and implement events. We were able to expand the event because of Live Nation’s global reach with offices around the planet that are able to develop relationships where if the local Paramount team had a crazy idea for a premiere or film launch we could get with a team they know and brainstorm an idea for what that event might be. Live Nation has the ability to take their portfolio and work with local resources and talent to implement some pretty amazing events. From the movie studio perspective, we’ve done projects in Hong Kong, Austria, London and South America. A lot of times, we work in locations that have never held an event or in an iconic spot the studio is using to convey something about the film.

What do those events look like?

Any of the “Transformers” films over the past 10 years… we’ve handled the concept production and implementation of the launch of those movies. The last one was in Chicago where we created a 300-foot floating red carpet on the Chicago River. For the previous “Transformers” movie in Hong Kong we did it on a specialized site that was associated with the Hong Kong government and, at that point, we implemented something that hadn’t occurred before: the installation of a temporary IMAX experience in a non-traditional venue and an outdoor concert with Imagine Dragons with a fireworks display across the whole city. We also did the last several “Mission Impossible” movie premieres, including the last one in Vienna, Austria. We took over the Vienna state opera building and built this fantastic facade and two-story red carpet. We worked with the local government to shut down the main thoroughfare to facilitate the event and broadcast the red carpet globally for Paramount and had a similar IMAX installation in the Vienna Opera House.

So will you focus on just those kinds of large-scale events at Redrock or will there be a range?

We’re doing a number of things currently that are part of the LN core business. We still look after some significant touring projects LN has deemed necessary for us to look after on the stadium front, some festival ideas, some traditional festival concept ideas and some additional movie premieres for 2018, both domestically and internationally. We also have some specialty ideas. One of the things that I think is often discussed when Live Nation is working with an artist is other ideas or concepts for how to promote themselves or their music and create new and interesting performance outlets for them other than the standard arena or amphitheater tour.

What is your approach to special event production?

Because of my history and the amount of time we’ve been working together, the team I’ve assembled are people that have very similar experience to me. Many of us have been working together for 10-15-plus years, so we have not just the confidence among ourselves but, also, the affiliation and close working environment within Live Nation all this time to develop what would be considered unique or rare or crazy ideas. And we have the ability to go out and execute those ideas and leverage the resources that are out there that play to our various strengths. Whether it’s a local production or working with local political contacts to create a win-win environment [for a project]… for a lot of these projects we’re creating great opportunities for local municipalities to showcase their cities. That’s a key to what we’ve done with projects that serve the client but have great importance and good will as well.

Can you talk about some of the initiatives that you’ve spearheaded for LN in the past that have set you up to succeed with Redrock?

My responsibilities were to oversee all the LN core business, producing for everything from clubs and theaters to stadiums and arenas and ultimately festivals. What we started to develop in the last 10 or so years was the ability to be resourceful in a company within a region on projects that were not part of our core business. There are other companies that attempt to do live events that would in some instances integrate music but they didn’t have the expertise or resources Live Nation has. In the last 10 years of developing those projects it ultimately got to the point where Bob Roux and Michael Rapino realized they had an opportunity to expand those resources and leverage the production talent that exists and make that available to non-traditional concert clients, the corporate world, the movie studio world… anybody out there looking to facilitate quality, well-produced safe events.

It sounds like this division has been up and running for a while, right?

We had a transition period last year. It was important to me that we didn’t miss a step as I transitioned into this new role and got this new division up and running. We had a number of projects in the pipeline and we’re always talking to clients and divisions in Live Nation about projects we’re trying to execute. We had a run-up period throughout 2017 and we kind of got all the formalities in place as we came out of the year. We wanted to start 2018 with the announcement to let everyone know we’re officially here and open for business.

What is your staff like?

We’ve got 12 full-time employees who I call the special forces A-team, who all have their areas of speciality but are all versed in other competencies. We have a core team that can go through concept design, development and execution. Based on the event our staff will expand and contract as needed. In some instances the core team in our office can handle signifiant projects, but that sometimes expands to 20-30 people and to several hundred depending on project.

What’s the range of their backgrounds?

It’s a mix but their core commonalities are that they come from a music perspective. A couple are great production managers and project coordinators who have experience with multiact, multiday radio shows. We also have somebody who spent a lot of time in the nonprofit world and has a real specialty in hospitality-type events. We have another person who specializes in front-of-house operations and VIP coordination and VIP amenity execution. We have a full design team [versed in] AutoCAD, Vectorworks and 3D modeling.

How many events do you plan to do per year?

This team alone has managed well over 100 events per year, but that’s not really our goal going forward. Our goal is to be selective and to find projects and events that we feel are challenging to us and have the ability to cross over and grow. We want to develop ideas and projects that have more than one singular purpose and allow for the community to be involved or the city to participate and create an experience in a location.

What is the cost range for these special projects?

I always say we want to entertain any meaningful project no matter what the budget, from sub $100,000 to many I’ve described that are in the $8-$10 million range.

It sounds like you’re not just concert and event producers, but also fixers and community engagement specialists. Is that accurate?

For sure, that’s a great summation of what we do. Our ability to anticipate and demonstrate an understanding of things that will be important to a local community as well as the project client trying to produce the event is crucial. The concept is consolidating all this into what is now Redrock Entertainment Services without creating any confusion about what Live Nation is as a concert promoter and have that entity cross those lines and do multiple things.


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Fall of roof won't stop Merriweather Post
 
Posted: 17 Jan 2018, 3:00 pm

The aftermath of Merriweather Post Pavilion's roof collapse is seen in a photo provided by I.M.P.

Merriweather Post Pavilion’s recent construction accident won’t slow the venue down or change its seasonal lineup, according to venue officials.

The pavilion, in Columbia, Md., has over the last three years moved 569,733 tickets and grossed $33,478,109 in sales. But beyond being busy, the venue, which opened in 1967, is one of the nation's premier historic amphitheaters.

The 19,316-capacity outdoor amphitheater's roof, designed by renowned architect Frank Gehry, was being raised as part of a five-year, $55-million renovation project when it collapsed Jan. 13.

Venue officials and I.M.P., the amphitheater’s promoter, are looking on the bright side.

“Thankfully no one was injured, which is the most important thing of all,” said I.M.P.’s Seth Hurwitz, who operates the venue. “The roof was being hydraulically lifted 20 feet over a period of months. … The roof was in its near-final position and the next anticipated step was to secure it permanently. However, at around 2:30 Saturday morning, the roof unexpectedly fell. There is a team of experts assessing why the roof fell. Of course we will rebuild — and the 2018 season will start as planned.”

Hurwitz also said that it’s easier to build new than to renovate.

"It looks like there's enough wood left from the original Gehry roof to make the iconic façade salvageable,” he said. “Various things had already been done to the structure before, but the original Gehry shape will be rebuilt and recovered with the original wood. But right now, it's shot and needs to be rebuilt.”

The cause of the collapse is under investigation, according to the Downtown Columbia Arts and Culture Commission, which owns the property.

Hurwitz, who also runs Washington, D.C.'s 9:30 Club, The Lincoln Theatre and the newly opened Anthem, was ultimately philosophical about the roof's collapse. "It's one of life's fascinating twists and turns, but it's nothing we can't deal with," he said. "Nothing else was harmed.

"It's an inconvenience — not a small inconvenience, but it sets us back in that I'd rather spend that time working on other things at the venue. There's no question it sucks. But the important thing is that nobody was hurt, and that’s not the usual mandatory statement. It’s really all that matters. Everything else is just construction.”

I.M.P. has not yet announced a summer schedule, and the only concert on its calendar is a July 14 show with Sugarland, Brandy Clark and Clare Bowen.

Merriweather Post Pavilion celebrated its 50th anniversary last summer, opening a new backstage village including a pool and artists lounge area, as well as a massive new stagehouse, as a second phase of the renovations. The Chrysalis, a 7,000-capacity facility, also opened last summer on the adjacent Symphony Woods property.

The venue and I.M.P. staff celebrated the anniversary with a birthday party and concert featuring Jackson Browne, Willie Nelson, Father John Misty and Grace Potter.


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Premium sales strong at L.A. Coliseum
 
Posted: 17 Jan 2018, 12:00 pm

The appetite for a high-end game-day experience at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum has resonated with the University of Southern California’s biggest donors. As university officials prepare to kick off construction of the stadium’s $270 million renovation, they’re close to a sellout of new premium seat inventory that will open for the 2019 season.

As of this week, Legends Global Sales, the Pac-12 Conference school’s sales agency, has one Founders Suite and fewer than 100 club seats remaining to sell for the Scholarship Club Tower, said Steve Lopes, USC’s senior associate athletic director. The seven-story tower is going up on the stadium’s south side.

Until this project, designed by DLR Group, the venerable coliseum has gone for decades without a major retrofit. The stadium opened in 1923, and the seating bowl has gone largely untouched since that time, with the exception of some repairs and upgrades after a 1994 earthquake. Now, almost five years after USC took over stadium operations upon signing a 99-year lease with the Los Angeles Coliseum Commission, the school is getting the building up to speed with other college football facilities.

“This project has been a long time coming,” Lopes said. “To this point, there has been no [permanent] premium product at the coliseum. It’s paying for the majority of the project cost, almost $200 million.”

The changes will reduce the stadium’s seated capacity from 92,000 to about 77,500.

The 20 Founders Suites, distributed between two levels above the lower concourse, are the highest-priced inventory. They’re all seven-figure deals tied to 20-year terms. Some cost $10 million. The last one available is priced at $7.5 million, Lopes said. The 24-seat suites are the tower’s only all-inclusive product, covering food and drink and parking.

The 22 traditional suites, situated on the sixth floor, one level below the new press box, have sold out. Buyers made a one-time capital payment of $300,000 to $500,000 and pay an annual fee of $100,000.

The 24 loge boxes sold out as well. They’re mostly four-seaters, one level above the Founders Suites. Loges carry a one-time payment of $200,000 to $250,000, plus annual costs of $50,000.

The 1,100 club seats, on the fifth level, have one-time payments of $25,000 and annual costs of $30,000 to $50,000.

The rooftop terrace at the top of the tower stands out for its location and flexibility. There are no fixed seats. Instead, it’s a combination of bar stools, drink rails and shaded areas with views to the game. The terrace can accommodate 500 people, but to this point, season ticket prices have not been determined, Lopes said.

The concept is similar to the rooftop space at Levi’s Stadium, according to Don Barnum, a principal with DLR Group and its global sports leader. At the coliseum, the idea is to create a casual lounge setting. The vision is to develop a downtown LA club vibe for the younger crowd, which is more interested in socializing than watching the game, Barnum said.

The 360-degree views are spectacular from the rooftop, extending to downtown Los Angeles as well as the Pacific Ocean, Catalina Island and the San Gabriel Mountains, said Joe Furin, the coliseum’s general manager.

“It’s one of the best kept secrets,” Furin said. “It’s a stunning view from that height.”

USC has scheduled a ceremonial groundbreaking for Jan. 29 at the coliseum during which 100 to 150 donors are expected to attend, as well as Los Angeles Rams executives, Furin said. The Rams play the next two years at the stadium before moving to their new $2.6 billion facility in Inglewood, meaning the Rams will play one season in the coliseum after the premium additions are complete.

The project is to be built within a tight 18-month construction schedule. During football season, crews will work Monday through Friday and stop on the weekends for Trojans and Rams games. About one-third of the stadium will be closed to the public during construction, Furin said.


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Construction Beginning On Greensboro PAC
 
Posted: 17 Jan 2018, 9:00 am

Rendering of the $85 million Steven Tanger Center for the Performing Arts, Greensboro, N.C., which will debut in 2020.

The performing arts center under construction in Greensboro, N.C. should help restore the city's reputation as a consistent provider of Broadway shows and strengthen its overall roster of entertainment venues, project officials say.

The $85 million Steven Tanger Center for the Performing Arts is scheduled to open downtown in January 2020. Construction starts this month on the 3,000-seat venue after initial excavation, grading and utility work was completed in December.

The new building will play host to theatrical productions, concerts, Guilford College's lecture series and the Greensboro Symphony Orchestra, said Scott Johnson, deputy director of the Greensboro Coliseum Complex.  Officials expect to book 140 events a year at the performing arts center.

The coliseum complex operates the Tanger Center.

"Where we're building, it has become a niche arts district with a cultural center, library, two parks and other small theaters," Johnson said.

The center is named for Steven Tanger, president of Tanger Outlets, a company with 43 outlet malls across North America and whose headquarters are in Greensboro. Tanger supplied the lead gift of $7.5 million, which is part of $40.5 million in private donations helping to fund the project. The balance of construction costs are covered by a $4 facility fee for every event ticket sold, parking revenue and $10 million in hotel taxes, Johnson said.

The center effectively replaces the old War Memorial Auditorium, which for 55 years stood on the coliseum grounds, about three miles southwest of downtown. The 2,456-seat venue was demolished in 2015 to clear space for additional parking for the arena complex.

In the1990s and early 2000s, War Memorial booked a highly successful series of Broadway productions with 6,000 subscribers, Johnson said. The old auditorium produced the first North Carolina run of “Rent,” among other tours, he said.

But the combination of an aging venue and the recession effectively killed War Memorial's business, Johnson said. Over the past 10 years, local voters rejected two bond proposals to spend up to $50 million to renovate the building. Instead, a task force determined the best decision would be to build a new performing arts center, financed through a combination of private and public dollars. Tanger's donation led to more private gifts to help pay the final cost of $84.7 million, an increase over the initial $65 million figure.

The project designers are national firms H3 Hardy Collaboration Architecture and Rosser International, teaming with two local firms. Arup fills the role of theater consultant.

The Tanger Center has signed a ticketing deal with Ticketmaster, and Spectra, the concessionaire for the coliseum complex, will be its food provider. Daktronics is producing the center's video screens.

Johnson said he's in talks with promoter The Nederlander Organization to bring Broadway tours back to Greensboro. The city has missed out on massive hits such as “The Phantom of the Opera,” “Wicked” and “The Book of Mormon,” but that should all change in two years, he said.

There will be competition from the 2,700-seat Durham Performing Arts Center, which opened in 2008 and is situated about an hour's drive east of Greensboro. But Johnson thinks the venues can co-exist, along with other similar venues across the state.

"We're our own market in the Triad, [apart from] Charlotte and Raleigh," Johnson said, referring to the central North Carolina region covering Greensboro, Winston-Salem and High Point. "I think we're all big enough to get these shows [separately]."

The Tanger Center will join the a mix of venues in Greensboro that includes the 21,000-seat coliseum, an aquatic center, the 7,000-capacity White Oak Amphitheatre and The Fieldhouse, home of the NBA G League's Swarm.


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Eric Granger Takes Helm at KFC Yum! Center
 
Posted: 16 Jan 2018, 4:35 pm

EricGranger200x1451.jpg Eric Granger

Eric Granger has taken over GM duties at KFC Yum Center, Louisville, Ky., an AEG Facilities venue, following the abrupt departure of former GM Dennis Petrullo late last year.

Granger comes to AEG Facilities with more than 20 years in the entertainment and sports business. That includes time as VP and GM, FedEx Forum in Memphis, Tenn., home to the National Basketball Association's Grizzlies, as well as GM of Nationwide Arena, Columbus, Ohio, where the National Hockey League’s Blue Jackets play.

Granger will also oversee numerous proprietary initiatives of AEG Facilities, including AEG S.A.F.E., AEG 1Source, AEG 1EARTH, AEG 1Force, AEG Encore and AEG Energy Services, in addition to working closely with AEG Global Partnerships and other divisions of the company.

 

 

 


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Fair Managers Embrace Diversity
 
Posted: 10 Jan 2018, 9:00 pm

Steve Chambers and Sarah Cummings, outgoing and incoming executive director of the Western Fairs Association respectively, welcome Cliff Munson, Siskiyou Golden Fair, Yreka, Calif., as new WFA treasurer. (Photo courtesy of Western Fairs Association)
 

REPORTING FROM ANAHEIM, CALIF. — The Washington State Fair, Puyallup, will debut The Farm Sillyville at its 2018 event. The San Diego County Fair, Del Mar, Calif., themed “How Sweet It Is” this year, is all about candy, having already booked Sugarland for its coming fair, part of an extensive tour the group has announced.

And a prominent number of awards for 2017 achievements at the Western Fairs Association here Jan. 3-6 honored embracing diversity and the new world order.

Dr. Rita Murray gave the keynote address on generational diversity and many took it to heart. When relating to any generation, keep in mind the things that changed in the first 10 years of that generation’s life, which will impact how they react to the world around them, she advised.

Greg Stewart, Central Washington State Fair, Yakima, noted that his perspective on millennials changed after hearing Murray. “[Millennials] have a reluctance to attend meetings. You have to understand and address that issue,” he said.

“They think differently, they’re always on their iPhones,” added Tim Fennell, Del Mar, Calif. “You have to have patience and understanding and help them understand you. It’s a two-way street.”

Kent Hojem, Puyallup, was looking toward the newest generation. His Farm Sillyville, which will probably eventually be open year round, is a takeoff on Little Hands on the Farm, which Cindy Hoye instituted at the Indiana State Fair, Indianapolis. Hojem said it will cost “north of $3 million” to build out. The purpose is to educate the 4- to 8-year-olds on where food comes from, something many are not exposed to today.

Hojem also noted he is looking forward to the future with Sarah Cummings as executive director, a role she assumed from outgoing Executive Director Steve Chambers at the meeting here. “For 30 years, Stephen has been a visionary benefiting California and Western fairs,” Hojem said. “Now I’m looking forward to the next era with Sarah.”

Diversity was the theme of a majority of the Merrill Awards. The San Diego County Fair received one for its New Citizen Inclusion Program, which involved providing welcome packages including fair admission to new U.S. citizens throughout the year. San Diego County brings 1,500-5,000 people into the fold each month. The fair set up a booth at the official swearing-in ceremonies and offered two complimentary fair tickets plus other goodies to new citizens. Of 4,000 who received the package, more than 2,000 redeemed them.

Fennell thanked WFA for its open-mindedness regarding diversity and inclusion and for “awarding us for our crazy idea.”

The New Mexico State Fair, Albuquerque, won a Merrill Award for its Autism Awareness Sensory Station. The fair created a room for families to escape with children with sensory overload. Working with the New Mexico Autism Society, they built out 10 rooms with pipes and maroon drapes and family-time activities.

The Barham Award, named after the founder of Hot Dog On A Stick, Dave Barham, went to WZ Productions LLC, producer of “Out at the Fair,” another diversity program welcoming the LGBTQ+ community to fairs.

2018 Hall of Fame winners were Louie Brown, partner at Kahn, Soares & Conway, a passionate advocate of fairs as a lobbyist in Sacramento who started in the industry showing livestock and finds everything about fairs “utterly amazing”; Norm Towne, consultant, who is all about “opportunity,” which he finds abundant at fairs; and Charlie Barboni, manager of the Marin County Fair, San Rafael, who began exhibiting at fairs in 1966 and, years later, helped grow competitive exhibits from 4,000 entries to 15,000 at Marin.

WFA officers for 2018 include Cliff Munson, Siskiyou Golden Fair, Yreka, Calif., treasurer; Judy Carrico, Alameda County Fair, Pleasanton, Calif., VP; and Patricia Conklin, Dixon (Calif.) May Fair, president.

Conklin invited everyone to mark their calendars for the WFA 2018 Feature Fair Tour at the Minnesota State Fair, St. Paul; and for the 2019 WFA convention, Jan. 13-16, at the Grand Sierra Resort, Reno, Nev.


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Austin Club Sells For $376,445 on eBay
 
Posted: 10 Jan 2018, 7:00 pm

Austin, Texas' The Parish nightclub was sold at auction to local club owners.

An eBay auction for an underperforming Austin nightclub earned lots of national headlines in November and December, and ended with an Austin club owner and a bicoastal hospitality player partnering for the winning bid.

The final price for The Parish came in at $376,445, with club owners Stephen Sternschein and Alex Saunders coming together to take over the 5,300-square-foot space in the heart of Austin’s Sixth Street bar and nightclub district.

Sternschein already co-owns and operates the Empire Control Room nightclub through his Heard Entertainment company in Austin, and Saunders operates food and beverage businesses in Los Angeles and Boston. The Parish will be the first venture for the new partners, who were introduced after Saunders scouted prospective nightlife opportunities in Austin this summer.

When ATX Brands, the company that had owned the Parish business for close to a decade, put the business up for auction in November, the two joined forces to step in and attempt to revive the live music venue, which had seen its bookings slip to about three events a month over the past year.

“I hit up as many venues as I could this summer, and the biggest thing that stayed with me was the ability for the performers and the audience to interact because you can get up close,” Saunders said of the wood and brick upstairs venue with a capacity of 425 people. “It has a special something that makes it feel gritty and authentic.”

The auction was not for the actual real estate property that contains The Parish, but rather its existing business and bookings, the brand name, its audio and lighting equipment, liquor license and a lease with renewal options that could stretch out 22 years.

Sternschein said he’d been approached by ATX Brands about buying The Parish earlier in 2017 but balked at the $1 million asking price. Records show the business had been bringing in about $200,000 a year after talent and production expenses but had been far more profitable in the handful of years prior.

He said his booking staff and promoters with Live Nation-owned C3 Presents and Austin-based Margin Walker Presents have started adding shows to the schedule for after South By Southwest in March, with plans to have every Thursday through Saturday booked with a combination of road shows, local acts and monthly residencies.

Sterschein said the eBay auction process took away any opportunity to negotiate terms since they were stated ahead of time as a condition of bidding, and made diligence an issue as well.

“I understand on [ATX Brands’] end that it was the right thing to do because you put a lot of money into a place and you might not get back even a fraction of what you’ve put into it over the years,” he said. “The good thing is that with everyone in the country knowing about the sale, you can say that this price is definitely the fair market value.”

Saunders said he’s not sure how effective a tool online auctions will be for transacting large business purchases in the events industry.

“To commit to such a large number on eBay is not for everybody, though as long as you are able to do proper diligence it can work,” he said. “I wouldn’t turn down a good opportunity, but handling these kinds of things off market is the best way to do them.”

Sternschein – along with his three partners in Heard Entertainment – and Saunders used their own cash to pay the entire purchase price at closing, and anticipate turning a profit in two years.

The purchase also represents another chance for Sternschein to deploy the Prism venue management platform he began developing with Austin engineers in 2016. The system is intended to move venues beyond the patched-together combination of Excel and Google Docs that many operators rely on to manage their calendars, track ticket sales, settle payouts and more. Fifteen promotion companies and clubs are using Prism, which has been in operation for six months, with an expansion planned after completion of its second round of fundraising.

“I wanted to build something based on the process of having to book hundreds of events a year, that integrates with ticketing and can handle things like cost tracking and settling payouts,” he said.

Saunders said he’s seen similar technology greatly increase profit and efficiency in the food and beverage industry, and he’s working to help that business expand.

“We know that it’s got legs and will gain its own momentum from the testing that Stephen has done on his own already,” he said. “I’ve been putting out feelers in the tech community and we’re already getting lots of interest from people wanting to be involved.”


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Special Effects Show Fires Up in U.S.
 
Posted: 10 Jan 2018, 7:00 pm

T-Rex looms over the audience in a sudden special effect moment in The Hollywood Special Effects Show.

On the heels of success with Champions of Magic in the U.S. market, U.K. producer Alex Jarrett is launching another family show for theaters – The Hollywood Special Effects Show.

The two-hour production, which features special effects stunts and tricks and features an animatronics dinosaur, debuts at Mayo Performing Arts Center in Morristown, N.J., on Jan. 31, and is booked for an initial two weeks of one night stands in the Northeast.

Paul Bongiorno at Grand Central Booking is booking the show.

Jarrett’s RIP Productions, which opened its U.S. office in El Segundo, Calif., in 2016 and its UK office in 2009, just came off a $1 million, eight-show, 18,000 attendance weekend in Cleveland with Champions of Magic, which is in its second tour of the states and has begun playing multiples rather than one-offs, Jarrett told VenuesNow. His goal is to move The Hollywood Special Effects Show into the weeklong runs where justified as soon as possible.

Venues buy the show outright, for a negotiated price of about $20,000 for one night, $70,000 for a week, and then keep any profits or losses. Ticket prices vary from a $10 low as part of a family show package to $40 for standalone bookings, he said.

HollywoodEFX600.jpgThe Hollywood Special Effects Show logo.

They are currently booking theaters of 2,000 or fewer seats. Other dates now on sale include Packard Music Hall, Warren, Ohio, Feb. 2; Hylton Performing Arts Center, Manassas, Va., Feb. 3; Pittsburgh (Ohio) Cultural Trust, Feb. 5; Community Arts, Williamsport, Pa., Feb. 7-8; Proctors, Schenectady, N.Y., Feb. 9; State Theatre, Easton, Pa., Feb. 10; and Clemens Performing Arts Center, Elmira, N.J., Feb. 11.

The Hollywood Special Effects Show has a similar background in the U.K. to Champions of Magic. Jarrett has produced three tours over two years in the U.K. “Bringing it to the U.S. is bringing it home in a sense,” he said. “It’s an Americanized show; it’s time to bring it over.”

Jarrett’s background is in special effects, which he did for TV and special events for 10 years. In the U.K., there are no Universal Studios or Disney theme park special effects themed shows, he noted, but, in the U.S., while they have the theme park versions, there is no live theater show revealing the secrets of special effects that go into movie making.

“It’s about those effects coming to life in front of people, Jarrett said. His favorite is the dinosaur, of course.

“It’s the biggest thing we tour for the shortest amount of time on stage,” Jarrett said of the dinosaur. “The one in the U.K. takes seven people to lift and you only see it for two and a half to three seconds. It’s off the end of the scale in terms of size and how we use it. It comes off the stage out over the audience out of a cloud of smoke. You don’t see it coming at all. The look on the kids’ faces in the front row as that looms off is beyond the 3-D movie; this is real for these kids in that moment.”

A new dinosaur, bigger, with full animatronics, was built for the U.S. show by Illusion Projects in Las Vegas. That group also helped adjust the set design to be more industrial looking. “No one has done these kind of movie special effects in the same way,” Jarrett said. “We had to find out how far we could push it, how big we could go.”

The show is facilitated by presenters (actors), who keep the energy going and involve the kids in the audience. “We didn’t want a family show to be a lecture. These are professional kids presenters, selling in an appropriate way to the audience. They play themselves. Our production team delivers the effects around them.”

The show runs two halves of 45 minutes with a 20-minute intermission. Load in starts at 10 a.m. for a 7 p.m. show. Build time is five or six hours. The load out is two hours.

Merchandise, such as flash toys, a special effects makeup kit, T-shirts and the “usual things” are sold at each event. One of the skits in the show is a horror movie makeover on stage. Fans can then buy the kit at the merchandise stand or use all the ingredients they already have to do it at home. Those kits are sourced by RIP, but the print and apparel merchandise is produced by Merch in Motion out of Canada.

There are three cast, five crew plus two drivers, one bus and one truck on tour. “I’d love to have three trucks and luxury buses, but we want everyone to make money on it,” Jarrett said.

Hollywood Special Effects has already run for two years in the U.K., and just completed four days at Birmingham Arena, where it played to 16,000 people across six shows, Jarrett said.

Pyrotechnics are a big part of the show and requirements vary state by state in the U.S., he said. They provide each venue with full paperwork and product information, carry a pyro technician to fire the show each night and hire locally licensed technicians when necessary.

Besides Champions of Magic and Hollywood Special Effects Show, RIP Productions has an interest in Graeme of Thrones, which they founded in the U.K. in 2013 and toured in Australia. This year, Jarrett may revive it in the States as well as the U.K. Graeme of Thrones is a parody taken from 'Game of Thrones' in which Graeme tries to re-create his favorite fantasy saga on stage to disastrous results. “We may take it out again this year when the 'Game of Thrones' season builds up,” Jarrett said.

It’s a fun show to do, he said, as they all are. “We just love doing the shows."


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Hot Tickets for January 10, 2018
 
Posted: 10 Jan 2018, 6:00 pm

Jay Z performed his 4:44 Tidal tour at Miami's AmericanAirlines Arena.

The key driver for ranking in our new Hot Tickets reports is attendance, not gross, reflecting the busiest buildings out there.

Jay-Z’s 4:44 Tidal tour continues to roll through North America with stops at Oracle Arena, Oakland, Calif., and Seattle’s KeyArena making our Hot Tickets chart this week. Gross sales in Oakland, Dec. 16, were $1,511,245 with attendance of 14,853. The Live Nation-promoted date saw a ticket range of $37-$190. The Dec. 13, KeyArena date grossed $862,000, with an attendance of 9,200, and a ticket range of $35-$194.

The evergreen MSG Live-produced Radio City Christmas Spectacular, New York City, continued to thrill holiday crowds with gross sales of $13,513,959 and attendance of 158,644. With a ticket range of $49-$400, the annual spectacular ran from Dec. 11-17 and 30 shows were performed.
 

HOT TICKETS is a weekly summary of the top events and ticket sales as reported to VenuePulse via Pollstar. Following are the top 20 concerts and events, the top 5 in each attendance category, which took place between Dec. 11-Jan. 10.

15,001 or More Attendance

10,001-15,000 Attendance

5,001-10,000 Attendance

5,000 or Fewer Attendance

1) Radio City Christmas Spectacular
Gross Sales: $13,513,959; Venue: Radio City Music Hall, New York; Attendance: 158,644; Ticket Range: $400-$49; Promoter: MSG Live; Dates: Dec. 11-17; No. of Shows: 30

2) Abel Pintos
Gross Sales: $3,575,270; Venue: Estadio Monumental Antonio Vespucio Liberti, Buenos Aires, Argentina; Attendance: 53,678; Ticket Range: $96.48-$32.16; Promoter: Move Concerts; Dates: Dec. 16-18; No. of Shows: 2

3) Pete Tong
Gross Sales: $2,363,533; Venue: The O2 Arena, London; Attendance: 35,576; Ticket Range: $87.82-$47.29; Promoter: SJM; Dates: Dec. 15-16; No. of Shows: 2

4) Paul McCartney
Gross Sales: $3,667,959; Venue: Mt. Smart Stadium, Auckland, New Zealand; Attendance: 34,901; Ticket Range: $287.25-$49.67; Promoter: Frontier Touring; Dates: Dec. 16; No. of Shows: 1

5) Mrs. Brown’s Boys
Gross Sales: $1,519,403; Venue: 3Arena, Dublin; Attendance: 31,069; Ticket Range: $53.59-$31.78; Promoter: MCD Productions; Dates: Dec. 14-17; No. of Shows: 5

1) Jay-Z
Gross Sales: $1,511,245; Venue: Oracle Arena, Oakland, Calif.; Attendance: 14,853; Ticket Range: $190-$37.62; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Dec. 16; No. of Shows: 1

2) Liam Gallagher
Gross Sales: $742,546; Venue: Arena Birmingham (England); Attendance: 14,789; Ticket Range: $49.30; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Dec. 12; No. of Shows: 1

3) Finding Neverland
Gross Sales: $1,020,061; Venue: Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami Dade County, Miami; Attendance: 14,521; Ticket Range: $130-$29; Promoter: Broadway Across America, In-house; Dates: Dec. 26-31; No. of Shows: 8

4) Lady Gaga
Gross Sales: $2,163,880; Venue: T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas; Attendance: 14,478; Ticket Range: $305.84-$55.14; Promoter: Live Nation Global Touring ; Dates: Dec. 16; No. of Shows: 1

5) Jay-Z
Gross Sales: $1,160,682; Venue: Rogers Arena, Vancouver, British Columbia; Attendance: 14,386; Ticket Range: $17.54-$15.55; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Dec. 11; No. of Shows: 1

1) The Tenderloins
Gross Sales: $534,850; Venue: Allstate Arena, Rosemont, Ill.; Attendance: 9,203; Ticket Range: $155-$54.50; Promoter: Outback Concerts; Dates: Dec. 15; No. of Shows: 1

2) Jay-Z
Gross Sales: $862,000; Venue: KeyArena at Seattle Center; Attendance: 9,200; Ticket Range: $194.50-$35.50; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Dec. 13; No. of Shows: 1

3) Charles Aznavour
Gross Sales: $1,124,811; Venue: AccorHotels Arena, Paris; Attendance: 9,016; Ticket Range: $225.24-$41.22; Promoter: In-house; Dates: Dec. 13; No. of Shows: 1

4) Westernhagen
Gross Sales: $743,695; Venue: Westfalenhall 1, Dortmund, Germany; Attendance: 8,825; Ticket Range: $53.77; Promoter: Peter Rieger Konzertagentur & Co. KG, Semmel Concerts Entertainment GmbH; Dates: Dec. 15; No. of Shows: 1

5) Katy Perry
Gross Sales: $950,017; Venue: Philips Arena, Atlanta; Attendance: 8,782; Ticket Range: $200-$50.50; Promoter: AEG Presents, Concerts West, Goldenvoice; Dates: Dec. 12; No. of Shows: 1

1) Lil Uzi Vert, Playboi Carti
Gross Sales: $221,810; Venue: House of Blues, Boston; Attendance: 4,850; Ticket Range: $65-$45; Promoter: Crossroads Presents; Dates: Dec. 20-21; No. of Shows: 2

2) Illenium
Gross Sales: $120,625; Venue: Aragon Ballroom, Chicago; Attendance: 4,825; Ticket Range: $25; Promoter: In-house; Dates: Dec. 14; No. of Shows: 1

3) Chris Rock
Gross Sales: $450,161; Venue: Hard Rock Live, Hollywood, Fla.; Attendance: 4,515; Ticket Range: $175-$60; Promoter: In-house; Dates: Jan. 5; No. of Shows: 1

4) Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Musical
Gross Sales: $118,440; Venue: H-E-B Performance Hall at The Tobin Center, San Antonio; Attendance: 4,487; Ticket Range: $55-$23.50; Promoter: In-house; Dates: Dec. 22-23; No. of Shows: 4

5) Dancing With The Stars
Gross Sales: $344,671; Venue: Fox Theatre, Atlanta; Attendance: 4,482; Ticket Range: $125-$59.50; Promoter: NS2; Dates: Jan. 2; No. of Shows: 1

The Weekly Hot Tickets chart is compiled by Brad Rogers, brad@pollstar.com. To submit reports, e-mail Brad@pollstar.com or submit to www.pollstarpro.com/DataEntry/BoxOffice.aspx

 


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Lester Finds Vivid Seats Role 'Compelling'
 
Posted: 10 Jan 2018, 5:00 pm

Geoff Lester is the new chief commercial officer at Vivid Seats.

Geoff Lester is back in the secondary ticketing game. Vivid Seats has hired the former StubHub executive as its chief commercial officer.

Lester spent seven years with StubHub in partnerships and business development before working the past six months for Fox Networks Group as senior vice president of global solutions. It was during his time at Fox when Lester met with Vivid Seats co-founders Eric Vassilatos and Jerry Bednyak about signing an advertising deal.

“At that point, they were growing consistently and were strong in technology,” Lester said. “They were moving tickets but didn’t have the brand recognition. I got to know them and they eventually offered me a job. It was compelling, the opportunity to expand on the good things they’ve already done. These guys are smart and hungry.”

To date, Vivid Seats has about 50 secondary ticketing deals in sports and entertainment, including exclusive partnerships with about a half-dozen National Football League (NFL) teams and a handful of colleges. Lester said he plans to grow the company’s roster to include deals with more teams and facilities, as well as leagues, promoters and artists.

“Our goal is to grow the Vivid brand and deliver a bigger audience,” he said. “I’ve been in the business long enough to know that we want to get tickets in the hands of the fans."

"It all comes down to price, which changes dynamically,” Lester said. "We have the ultra-premium inventory for the 50-yard line at the Super Bowl, as well as value inventory for that show on a Tuesday night in chilly Minneapolis. We want to help put butts in seats using technology and anywhere people look for tickets.”

Before StubHub, Lester held multiple roles at NASCAR across broadcasting, digital media and marketing. Lester will work in Los Angeles for Chicago-based Vivid Seats and report directly to Vassilatos.


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City of Savannah To Build New Arena
 
Posted: 10 Jan 2018, 5:00 pm

Rendering of the proposed new arena to be built in Savannah, Ga.

The city of Savannah, Ga., has approved a $2.8 million contract for Chicago-based project management firm Jones Lang LaSalle to oversee the process of designing and constructing a new 9,000-seat arena to replace 43-year-old Martin Luther King Jr. Arena.

Under the plan, Martin Luther King Jr. Arena will be repurposed or demolished upon completion of the new arena but will remain open until that time.

That arena shares its property with Johnny Mercer Theatre, whose fate has not been determined. The council allocated $845,000 to maintain the theater until the decision is made on whether it will be dismantled after the new arena is built.

“The current arena was built in 1973 and is very, very old and in need of major repairs,” said Pete Shonka, executive director of arena development for the city of Savannah. “We commissioned Barrett Sports Group to file a report on the best way to proceed and it was determined building a brand new arena was our best option.”

Topics that Barrett Sports Group studied included comparable markets, competitive markets, and fan demographics and income levels.

The new arena site is about one mile from Martin Luther King Jr. Arena and situated west of the city’s historic district on city property. “This area of town is underdeveloped and with a new arena we’d look at some new development around it to spark other economic activity there,” he said.

The new site now houses the city’s Public Works Department, which will move a mile to a new facility that will cost between $20 million and $22 million, according to Shonka. “That building is outdated and the project to move it is already underway,” he said. “It’s good timing for all of this to happen simultaneously.”

The budget of the project is still in flux. A special-purpose local sales tax is providing $120 million, but projections are calling for $140 million to get the job done.

Jones Lang LaSalle will push the project moving forward and “will help the city select a designer, contractor and an arena operator,” according to Heath Hans, project manager of the new arena for the firm.

The current arena is being managed in-house. “We anticipate the larger facility will be a little bit busier than the old arena, and we’ve had difficulty finding people to run the operation,” Shonka said. “We think hiring a venue operating firm is the way to go.”

Hans said that hiring a venue operator as quickly as possible “is critical and essential to the success of the project. It’s not like we’d bring on someone at the end of the project and say, ‘Here’s your building.’ Having the programmer involved in the design of the facility ensures the project will be up to their standards and is something they can schedule, book and fill on a regular basis.”

A discussion on whether to hire a concessionaire or keep the concession program in-house will come once a venue operator is selected.

Discussions started between the city and JLL after an RFP process that started in August. “We’ve been watching this project for two to three years,” Hans said. “As soon as they issued their RFP we responded with a proposal.” After an interview process, JLL was selected.

“All we really know now is that the city wants to build a 144,000-square-foot arena, with roughly 9,000 seats,” Hans said. “Once our contract with the city is signed, we’ll sit down with the city and create a charter, which will refine what shape the project will take.”

Construction should start within a year and the process should take 30-34 months, depending on the design model they choose.

A locker room and a green room are to be incorporated into the design and, when finished, the venue will be a “multipurpose facility with the possibility that we could get a minor league sports tenant to occupy the building,” Shonka said. “Primarily it will be sports tournaments, concerts, corporate and church events and other community events.”

Plans also call for 12-15 luxury suites and 400 club seats. The current facility does not have any premium seating.

Hans confirmed Shonka’s timeline, saying, “We’re starting the 34-month clock the day we sign the contract.”

 

 


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New York Fairgrounds Seeks Management Firm
 
Posted: 10 Jan 2018, 4:00 pm

A $62 million expo center is set to open at the New York State Fairgrounds in August.

Changes abound at the New York State Fairgrounds in Syracuse, where a new $62-million, state-funded expo center is slated to open in August. Now the facility needs a management company to keep the fairgrounds a viable year-round destination.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced a request for proposals last month, seeking a “private company to book events at the New York State Fairgrounds, anchored by the new Expo Center,” according to the RFP. Proposals are due to the governor’s office Jan. 31.

The New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets runs the fairgrounds and hosts the 13-day Great New York State Fair in late August through early September each year. The RFP specifically states the new management company will be charged with event booking during the “non-fair” season.

Fairgrounds officials and the governor’s office thought it was important to have a full-time entity working on bookings, said Troy Waffner, acting director of the New York State Fair.

“We book all the nonfair shows ourselves, currently. We don’t dedicate all our time to it. We really wanted to find a company that can book on a regional or a national level,” Waffner said.

In years past, Waffner and staff hired outside companies to book bands at the state fair, but this is the first time the fairgrounds has sought a full-time management company for non-fair events.

Before releasing the RFP, the governor assigned a task force to evaluate how to make the fairgrounds a year-round destination, said Joanie Mahoney, county executive for Onondaga County in New York.

“We just started hearing what works in other fairgrounds across the country,” Mahoney said, noting that Charlie Smith, senior principal at architecture firm Populous, provided advice on the project before it went to the designer.

He helped the task force conclude that hiring a management company was a good idea.

Smith sees a growing trend in fairgrounds hiring companies like Spectra and SMG and encourages clients to look at the opportunity because of “the buying power and the predesigned expertise that they offer,” he said.

He did not know which companies may have already responded to the RFP, but employees at the New York State Fairgrounds are looking forward to the help of an outside business, Waffner said.

The fairgrounds, sitting on 375 acres next to a bustling interstate system, saw a jump in non-fair events last year. In 2017, the fairgrounds hosted 189 privately operated events, up 16 percent from 2016. The nonfair events saw a huge boost in attendance, drawing 832,048 people in 2017, up 57 percent from roughly 529,000 in 2016.

The fairgrounds is in phase two of a multiyear $133 million revitalization that includes the 136,000-square-foot expo center, now under construction. It will have 110,000 square feet of flexible event space with 4,000 retractable seats.

HBP Joint Venture — a partnership between Syracuse-based Hueber Breuer Construction Co. and Rochester-based The Pike Co. — was awarded the design contract, and QPK Design of Syracuse is the design architect.

The fairgrounds upgrades are a part of a much bigger project from the governor’s office called Central New York Rising, in which the state is investing nearly $500 million in the economic growth of New York communities.

With more than half a million square feet of covered event space on the fairgrounds, Waffner thinks the fairgrounds has huge booking potential.

Fresh paint and new facades on buildings, a new midway, a new RV park and a newly paved and repainted 65-acre parking lot all were included in the first phase of renovation. Money also went toward fixing underground drainage to prevent flooding in the parking lots along with other upgrades, Mahoney said.

“We had wires on the ground when shows came. There would be wires duct taped to the ground. Now all of that infrastructure is buried,” she said.

A 17,500-capacity concert venue called Lakeview Amphitheater opened across from the fairgrounds in 2015. It’s owned by the county and works in conjunction with fairground events, Mahoney said.

“They can schedule country music at the amphitheater for after an event at the fairgrounds,” she said. “As soon as this [expo center] is open, I think we’re going to be full speed ahead without looking back.”


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New Orleans Names Sawaya GM/President
 
Posted: 8 Jan 2018, 4:00 pm

MichaelSawaya200x140.jpgMichael J. Sawaya.

Michael J. Sawaya has been named president and GM of New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center and executive vice president of Ernest N. Morial New Orleans Exhibition Hall Authority. He succeeds Robert L. “Bob” Johnson, who retired on Sept. 25 after 10 years of service.

Previously, Sawaya served as executive director of the Convention and Sports Facilities Department for the city of San Antonio. In that role, Sawaya oversaw operations of the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center, Lila Cockrell Theatre, Alamodome, and asset management and ground lease management for the Nelson Wolfe Baseball Stadium, Toyota Field Soccer Stadium, and Grand Hyatt Hotel.

Sawaya’s career with the city of San Antonio began in 2003, when he was hired to merge the Convention Facilities and Alamodome departments. Most recently, he directed the $325 million expansion of the convention center— the largest single capital improvement project in the history of the city, and recently completed a $60 million renovation of the Alamodome. Sawaya served as interim aviation department director during 2008–09 before returning to his role as executive director.

Before joining the city of San Antonio, Sawaya served as GM of the Omni Severin Hotel, Indianapolis; the Omni San Antonio Hotel; and 11 other hotels around the country. He also served as chairman of the San Antonio Convention and Visitors Commission, president of the San Antonio Hotel and Lodging Association; as an executive committee member of the San Antonio Area Tourism Council; and on the board of directors of the Greater San Antonio Chamber of Commerce.

Sawaya holds a BBA from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, and is a Certified Hotel Administrator.

The authority has also contracted with JD Russell Consulting to review, evaluate and recommend best practices to improve the effectiveness of the convention center’s recently launched small and emerging business program. Other elements JD Russell will address include program and policy review, outreach, advertising, tracking, reporting, and community engagement.


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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.

More...


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Survey Shows Fans Want Experiences
 
Posted: 28 Dec 2017, 6:00 pm

Modern-day fans visiting sports stadiums want a flexible seating bowl, family seating amenities and a design that capitalizes on transit trends, according to a study conducted by design firm Populous and Nielsen Sports.

“You can’t prepare for the future without taking stock of the present,” said Brian Mirakian, senior principal with Populous Activate. “We wanted to research and identify what earns fans’ entertainment dollars, what’s missing in the marketplace, and use the data to create actionable design ideas that drive revenue and keep fans coming back.”

“We’ve seen so many shifts in fan behavioral patterns over the last few years, and we decided we needed data to help us start understanding what the customers want when they go to a venue,” he said. “People are grappling with media consumption, and the in-home experience, and we really thought it was the time to dive deeper into solving the problems we hear about from our customers to create data-driven design solutions.”

The results were startling. “What we found out was that today’s event attendees don’t just want a ticket to sit in a seat and be a spectator. They want to participate,” Mirakian said. “People want to choose their adventure and have an individual experience. Seventy percent of the survey responders said the single most important thing to them was having an experience.”

Populous and Nielsen Sports started the study in January 2017. It included 1,000 consumers, ages 13 and up, who regularly attend professional sports games. Quotas for age, gender and region were put in place to ensure a balanced sample.

“We worked together to develop a custom research project to uncover what attendees of various games/events and fan profiles expect when it comes to the arena/stadium/ballpark experience,” said Ibrahim Koese, senior director of market research at Nielsen Sports.

Fans of the National Football League (NFL), Major League Baseball (MLB), the National Basketball Association (NBA), the National Hockey League (NHL), esports and Major League Soccer (MLS) were among the respondents, who were recruited from a national online panel.

“The study is nationally representative for sports fans regularly attending at least three or more games or events in professional ‘stick and ball sports,’” Koese said. “We have added esports as an additional segment. … It provides robust insights for attendees nationally.”

Mirakian said that one in three of surveyed fans thought the future of entertainment would be found in a virtual world but that "two of three would still rather experience a concert or sporting event in person. Past decades have taught us a big lesson when it comes to the live experience: The game itself will get you only so far. It’s time to think beyond filling seats. Fans want to get up and explore the live experience, not sit idle from the sidelines.”

“Younger fans have led the charge, but the behavior spans multiple generations,” he said. “These days, fans of all ages bring these expectations into your venue. They present an opportunity to redefine ‘premium’ and apply it to new price points between the cheap seats and front row. Diversifying your venue’s inventory of experiences gives it longevity.”

Surprising to Mirakian is that two in three fans want a unique experience — and are willing to pay extra for it.

“The survey showed that nine out of 10 people are willing to pay more for a ticket if they can move around the venue and change seats,” he said. “This sort of data suggests we have the opportunity to fundamentally shift what the in-venue experience is for the next-generation fan.”

Another surprising data point? Fifty percent of fans surveyed said that they’d be willing to pay an extra $25 a ticket if they had a power outlet to charge their phones next to their seats.

Another interesting data piece, according to Mirakian, is that “family friendly atmospheres are in demand. A venue’s appeal to families is uniquely influenced by the events it hosts. On one side of the spectrum lies baseball with its family-friendly amenities, fresh air and 18 convenient breaks in the action. On the other end is soccer, which requires your undivided attention for two 45-minute stretches.”

Koese said MLS fans are more likely than others to be interested in entertainment and family zones.

Said Mirakian: “Our research suggests sports can appeal more to families by removing the obstacles in their way. One in four fans take their children to sporting events a majority of the time. Concerns to them are safety; nothing for the family members to do; and it not being worth the money.”

The study suggested that family amenities fans desire include play areas, changing stations, pumping rooms for nursing mothers and babysitting services.

“For the parents, it’s having the peace of mind to know the kids are safely occupied while the game unfolds directly in front of them,” Mirakian said. “There’s a lot of opportunity for sports that do not draw a family crowd, such as the NFL and NBA, to redesign and adjust to the modern sports fan.”

Premium clubs are another part of the new-age-fan puzzle. “To cater to the next-generation consumer we need to really reinvent the wheel,” suggested Mirakian. “Today’s fans want to migrate around the venue and get two to three different experiences, such as having a drink in a premium club in one area of the venue and then wandering to another premium club, with a different viewpoint.”

The study, and the significant shifts in the wants and needs of the fan, will all be taken into consideration when Populous designers draw blueprints for new venues.

“The way we design buildings going forward will be to design not just for the spectator but for a participant in the event,” he said. “The expectation now is to interact and have many different types of experiences. This will change venues as we now know them.”

“Less seats and more social experiences are going to be the new normal,” he added. “Viewing the action is just going to be part of the in-venue experience. This is a fundamental shift.”

Another component of the survey addressed parking and transit, two items that fans want improved above all else.

“The traditional model of venue parking — a sea of parking lots surrounding a suburban venue— was likely front and center in their minds when responding to our survey,” Mirakian said. “It doesn’t lend itself well to diffusing bottlenecks and creating an enjoyable pre- and postgame atmosphere outside of tailgating. Many popular venues still reflect this model, but their numbers are shrinking. Taking your personal car to a venue is decreasing [in popularity] while public transportation and ride-sharing numbers are going up dramatically.”

Another interesting aspect of the study was that for esports fans, the importance of "traditional" aspects of the experience such as view of play is lower, likely because the action is on screens.

“However, other activities and options around the esports competition itself, such as interacting with other fans or visiting sponsor activations, were more important to that audience,” Koese said.

“The study shows there is no standard recipe or silver bullet,” he said. “Venues will need to assess carefully the audience they are targeting and understand how to best cater to them. Flexible configurations are going to become more and more important.”


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Miami Open Lands at Hard Rock Stadium
 
Posted: 27 Dec 2017, 2:00 pm

Hard Rock Stadium will host the Miami Open in 2019.

Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens has more remaking in its future. And this time it's for tennis, not football.

After a more than $500-million renovation to turn the home of the National Football League’s Miami Dolphins into a modern venue in 2016, Miami Open owner IMG partnered with the Dolphins and stadium owner Stephen Ross to bring the tennis tournament to the stadium and turn the property into a permanent tennis venue.

Construction on 29 permanent show and practice courts begins in 2018, to be ready for the 2019 tournament.

“We are extremely excited that the Miami Open, a global entertainment event, will remain in our community,” Ross said in a statement. “We are committed to bringing a best-in-class experience alongside IMG to all of the players, fans and partners that will take part in this global affair. The opportunity to showcase the best tennis in the world in Hard Rock Stadium, a venue that brings together the best of culture, art and entertainment, will be an amazing experience for everyone involved.”

The 32-year-old event has long played at Crandon Park in Key Biscayne, but needed to find a new home after a 2015 court decision prevented upgrades to the Key Biscayne site.

Moving to Hard Rock Stadium allows the tournament, one of the largest events combining male and female tournaments run simultaneously, the flexibility to grow. The 2019 version of the Miami Open will have 30 show and practice courts, a “tennis oasis” with the largest video screen of any tennis tournament, a sponsorship village with expanded and upgraded entertainment spaces, permanent retail facilities, improved Wi-Fi, media facilities, locker rooms and fitness space for players and tennis staff and hospitality and activation areas.

The new Center Court—the one temporary court—will come as a 14,000-seat stadium within the 65,000-seat Hard Rock Stadium. Screens will cover unused stadium portions, and temporary seats will help create a more intimate spectator experience around the court. 

IMG and Ross expect to spend up to $60 million for the full-time tennis center in the parking lots adjacent to the remade venue. Parking for the Miami Open will grow nearly exponentially. The 29 permanent courts is an increase from 21 at Crandon Park. Practice courts double and lighted courts increase from six to 20. Aside from the Center Court, the permanent space includes a 5,000-seat Grandstand court. Total seating for the tournament will jump from 25,062 to 32,474, including over 5,500 at practice courts.

“The Miami Open has been part of Miami’s culture for as long as I can remember and it’s a tournament that is very special to me and my family,” 23-time Grand Slam Champion Serena Williams, a member of the Dolphins ownership group, said in a statement. “I’ve enjoyed some of my best career moments in Miami thanks to the amazing tournament team and the supportive Miami fans. I am thrilled the Miami Open is staying in Miami, where it belongs.”

The Miami Open will finish its run at Crandon Park this year. The tournament runs March 19 through April 1.

“The Miami Open belongs in Miami,” WME and IMG Co-President Mark Shapiro said in a statement. “We’re grateful to have amazing partners in Stephen, the Miami Dolphins organization, Mayor [Carlos] Gimenez and above all the people of Miami who have been supporting the Miami Open for decades. While we’re looking forward to creating the new Miami Open experience at Hard Rock Stadium, our priority is to make the last edition of the Key Biscayne event the best it’s ever been.”

The Miami Open had options to move from Florida to sites as far away as South America and China. Landing 18 miles away may remove the intrigue of a waterside tournament, but it does preserve the Miami heritage of the event.
 


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Mattson Joins OVG’s KeyArena Rebuild Team
 
Posted: 14 Dec 2017, 4:00 pm

Steve Mattson has accepted the position of director of operations for OVG's KeyArena rebuild.

Steve Mattson has been tapped to be the director of operations for OVG’s rebuild of Seattle’s iconic KeyArena. Mattson comes to the project after a 16-year run as VP/GM of Target Center, Minneapolis. (Full disclosure: Venues Today is owned by OVG)

In his new position, Mattson will oversee the approval, construction and pre-opening phases of KeyArena at Seattle Center. Mattson will provide critical operator background on analysis, labor relations, design and overall understanding of how the arena will operate upon opening. Having just completed an 18-month, $140-million renovation at Target Center, Mattson brings relevant experience to the entire design and construction process.

“OVG approached me in the early fall as I was finishing up at Target Center,” said Mattson, who officially started on Oct. 23, and is working out of a Seattle office. “OVG is developing a $600+-million project in Seattle and, while there are historic elements to the arena that will be preserved, I wouldn’t call the project a renovation; it’s essentially the creation of a new National Hockey League (NHL) and National Basketball League (NBA) capable facility.”

If everything stays on track, ground will break in October 2018, and the new KeyArena will open in October 2020.

“What I bring to the OVG team is arena background,” said Mattson. “As general manager of Target Center, I’ve run an NBA building in a major market for the last 16 years. What my joining the OVG team does is bring someone who understands the building, and the city, to the project.”

“As an arena operator, this project is an opportunity of a lifetime,” said Mattson. “We will deliver a cutting edge and innovative world-class arena to Seattle and make it one of the most desired sports and live entertainment venues in the country.”

The design team is led by Populous and the owner’s representatives are CAA and ICON Venue Group. “We are working on a pretty quick timeline,” said Mattson. 

“We’re just beginning the NHL process of creating an expansion team,” he said. “The facility will be dual-purpose and every element of it will be capable of hosting both NHL and NBA.”

Mattson fully expects to have an NHL team in place for the 2020 opening. “Last week the NHL gave OVG a preliminary OK to proceed in the expansion process,” he said. “That process will begin shortly and, if all is accomplished, we’ll become the 32nd team of the NHL in 2020.”

The road to securing an NBA team is not as easily traveled. “At this point there is not an expansion opportunity, but our whole goal is to prove to the NBA through our NHL process that we’re ripe for a team. The combination of bringing a world-class venue to Seattle and an NHL team will, down the road, certainly get the NBA ready to grant Seattle a team.”

Following last week’s monumental passing of the Memo of Understanding (MOU) between the city of Seattle and OVG, and its signing by Mayor Durkan and OVG CEO Tim Leiweke, come the arduous tasks of completing an environmental study, lease agreements, and permitting. While time-consuming, Mattson does not see any of the long-form documents to be an issue in the process of breaking ground.

“The development is on a fast-track and I don’t see anything that will derail the building of the new arena,” said Mattson. “I’m working with the design group, concessionaire (Delaware North), event-booking elements, hiring of staff, and all the things that relate to the operations of a new building now so we are ready to roll when the construction is over.”

“There’s a lot of hard work ahead,” he said. “We’ve got such a great partner in the city and the path we’re on will see the building only down for two years.”

Mattson said that the KeyArena project is not comparable to the $140 million Target Center renovation he oversaw. “That building was a 27-year-old building, which is half the age of KeyArena. Those renovations covered a lot, but this is a major undertaking.  We’re utilizing the protected roof and landmarks but everything else is brand new.”

Mattson said that once the building is open he anticipates being a part of the project long term.

“Steve is a special talent in our industry and someone who has a track record of excellence and innovation in his work as an operator and in his dealings with the professional sports leagues,” said Tim Leiweke, OVG CEO. “His expertise will be critical as we move into the next phase of our work with the City of Seattle in revitalizing KeyArena and Seattle Center.”

The MOU called for a fully privately funded redevelopment of KeyArena at Seattle Center and for OVG to construct, operate, and maintain a redeveloped arena nearly double the size of of the current venue. It anticipates a 39-year lease with two eight-year renewal options for a total of up to 55 years. The arena will also be designed to preserve the current and historic roofline, and meet LEED Gold or equivalent standards.

“The new arena will be something special and something the city will be proud of,” added Mattson. “I’m thrilled to be a part of it.”

 


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Peggy Kaltenbach Passes at 93
 
Posted: 13 Dec 2017, 10:00 pm

Peg_Kaltenbach_(2)_LI-200px.jpgPeggy Kaltenbach.

Peggy Klein Kaltenbach, (Margaret Helen Klein) passed away on Dec. 12. With her husband Bob,  Kaltenbach built Klein's Attractions entertainment business.

Kaltenbach was born December 10, 1924 in New Brighton, Pa., and passed away in Barrington, Ill. Kaltenbach ’s journey into the world of entertainment began at a young age. Her parents started a small talent booking agency in 1930 from their home in Ohio. Even as a small girl, Kaltenbach worked alongside her parents learning the business of booking and producing shows that quickly would become her life’s work and passion.

Whether performing on stage, or working behind the scenes, she learned all aspects of the business. As the company, Klein’s Attractions, grew, it quickly became one of the fastest growing talent agencies in Ohio and the surrounding states, specializing in providing all types of entertainment for state fairs, county fairs, and festivals.

Kaltenbach and husband Bob worked side by side building Klein’s Attractions into what would eventually become one of the most successful and most respected agencies in the entertainment industry. As the outdoor entertainment business changed and concerts became more the norm, Kaltenbach was instrumental in bringing some of the biggest artists in the world to fairs and festivals nationwide. Kaltenbach worked alongside artists as diverse as Bob Hope, Red Skelton, Johnny Cash, The Oak Ridge Boys, Boots Randolph and The Charlie Daniels Band for decades. 

Following her husband’s death in 1993, Kaltenbach continued to work day to day in the business alongside her son and his family until her retirement at 85 years old in 2010. Even after retirement, Kaltenbach’s guidance and expertise helped shape the family business – now known as Klein’s Entertainment – as it heads into its 88th year of operation, now spanning four generations (daughter Katie has recently joined the company) of family involvement. Over the years, Kaltenbach was a member of many industry organizations such as the Academy of Country Music (ACM), The Country Music Association (CMA), The International Association of Fairs and Expositions (IAFE), The International Entertainment Buyers Association (IEBA), The Ohio Fair Managers Association (OFMA) as well as many other individual state fair and festival associations. Kaltenbach and her husabnd were inducted into the IEBA Hall Of Fame in 2014 and Kaltenbach was inducted into the OFMA Hall of Fame in 2010. 

“She was a true role model demonstrating for many, many years that a woman could have a successful career and still be a kind, caring human being,” said nephew John Siehl, VenuWorks VP. “My Aunt’s infectious smile and distinctive laughter will be greatly missed.


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California Venues Shelter Fire Evacuees
 
Posted: 13 Dec 2017, 9:00 pm

Del Mar (Calif.) fairgrounds was one of many California venues that housed displayed animals during the recent wildfires.

With fires ravishing much of California over the past week, hundreds of people, livestock and pets have been displaced from their dwellings due to evacuations. In some cases, homes, farms, and facilities burned to the ground.

With shelter in high demand and not enough of it to go around, California venues, specifically fairgrounds, picked up the slack.

Del Mar (Calif.) fairgrounds took in 850 horses and 50 other types of animals. “Last Thursday (DEC. 7) we started taking horses in,” said Tim Fennell, president and CEO, Del Mar fairgrounds. “The fires were raging through the area and people needed a place to take their horses and other livestock.”

The displaced included horses, donkeys, cows, goats, sheep, llamas, turkeys and chickens. As of Dec. 12, the fairgrounds still had 560 horses and 25 other animals still on the property.

“We didn’t wait for someone to tell us to open up,” he said. “As soon as people started contacting us, I made the decision to open up Horse Park to whoever needed the shelter. I reached out to my team and they immediately came out to help.”

Local animal groups eventually reached out; Fennell informed them the fairgrounds was already taking in displaced animals.

There was no charge for bringing an animal to the facility. “People show up and we take care of them,” said Fennell. “We had a tremendous amount of donations of hay and supplies.”

Fennell is unconcerned with the money that needed to be spent. “We’ll probably get some grant money at some point, but that’s not something we’re worrying about now.”

With the winds dying down and the fires somewhat contained, Fennell expects many of the animals to be going back to their homes shortly. “Some of the animals lost their homes and they can stay here until stalls are rebuilt or they find a place to go.”

“Fairgrounds in California have stepped up to the plate and will continue to do that,” said Fennell.

George Bradvica is the volunteer coordinator at Del Mar fairgrounds. “Our whole team mobilized as soon as we all heard from Tim,” explained Bradvica. “We have a written plan so everyone knows what to do.”

“Horses started showing up, and by late in the afternoon, we had 1017 animals on the property,” he said. “Once people knew we were open as a shelter, people showed up; there were numerous properties that were under evacuation.”

Bradvica praised the volunteers who showed up and all the people who donated supplies. “The community really came together. Without their help, we could not have housed all those animals.”

Los Angeles Equestrian Center also acted as a makeshift shelter. “Tuesday morning (Dec. 5) at 5:00 a.m., we got word that horses were about to come in,” said George Chatigny, GM. “We ended up accepting about 450 horses.”

Most of the horses came from the Creek Fire, which was still raging nearby. “We already had about 500 horses on the property,” he said. “Luckily, we still had unused stalls.”

Many of the horses have gone home; 175 horses still remain at the facility. Privately funded, the center will absorb the cost of taking in the animals. “Some of the evacuees have donated money and supplies,” he said.

Chatigny was not only a fire-evacuee hero; he was also a recipient. “I got a call that my horses in Oceanside had to be evacuated and had to be brought to Del Mar fairgrounds,” he said. “There were so many wonderful volunteers and professionals who looked out for my horses. I have heartfelt gratitude for what they did and the Del Mar fairgrounds operators for taking in so many horses.”

Regardless of the help he received, Chatigny was thrilled he could be of help and service to others. “We’re in the equestrian business,” he said. “These were not only people we are familiar with and care about, there was no hesitation to step up in a time of crisis.”

Animals aren’t the only beings that need shelter. Back in October, when fires were storming through Northern California, fairgrounds came to the rescue for people.

“We were activated as an evacuation center for both animals and people, and we eventually housed 400 animals and 450 people,” said Erin Post, CEO, Sonoma Marin fairgrounds.

“We had a dorm building with 325 cots, which was at capacity for three nights,” she said. “We also allowed RVs and camping for those who were displaced, as another option.”

Fairgrounds staff and volunteers manned the efforts. “We set up a medical center, a triage center, and space dedicated to the elderly and those with higher-needs, and a cafeteria.”

“It was a great learning experience for the staff,” she said, not wanting to leave out “all the volunteers who did such a great job.”

Post was also impressed and inspired by all the donations that poured in. “We had so much stuff that after the crisis was over, we had to spend days and days packing up the donations and sending them to other shelters.”

 

 


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Suit Filed To Stop Nashville MLS Stadium
 
Posted: 13 Dec 2017, 9:00 pm

A petition has gone out to stop Nashville Fairgrounds from being the site of an MLS stadium.

Editor's Note: Major League Soccer could choose two new teams as early as this week, and Nashville might not make the cut. Either way, a lawsuit has been filed against the proposed plans at Nashville's fairgrounds.

Nashville’s city council, mayor and fair board all want to see a Major League Soccer (MLS) stadium built on the city’s fairgrounds, but a group of persistent naysayers have filed a lawsuit, saying the preliminary plans will not compensate the Fairgrounds Nashville.

Nashville is one of four cities vying for two slots for a MLS team. Cincinnati, Ohio, Detroit, Mich. and Sacramento, Calif. are the other cities that have bid for a team.

“We think that we’re confident that our current (fairground) uses and a soccer stadium can coexist,” said Laura Schloesser, executive director of the fairgrounds.

If chosen by the MLS, Fairgrounds Nashville will sport a $225-million soccer stadium that seats 27,500 built on 10-acres of the fairgrounds — a proposal that was unanimously approved by Nashville’s Metro Council on Nov. 7.

MSL offered $25 million toward the stadium if Nashville is picked.

Some of the old buildings on the 10-acre site will have to be torn down in order to build the stadium, and Schloesser feels it would completely spruce up the fairgrounds that’s badly in need of renovations and repairs.

Each year, the fairgrounds hosts the Tennessee State Fair. It also hosts a monthly flea market, both of which will continue if the MLS stadium is built, Schloesser said.

“We need investment desperately. (The fairgrounds) hasn’t seen it in decades and decades,” Schloesser said.

The fairgrounds also has an old-school race track that will get a facelift.

“It’s a very cool piece of our history that we want to invest in, too,” Schloesser said.

The fair board has five members, all of whom approved the stadium plans.

“I’m very excited,” said Ned Norton, president of the fair board. “If (the stadium) doesn’t happen then we have to move forward with other plans. We still need new buildings.”

A group called Save Our Fairgrounds filed a lawsuit on Nov. 29, alleging that the proposed stadium will not fairly compensate the fairgrounds and that the MLS will pay only 99 cents a year for the 10 acres of space it will use.

“We’re a citizen-activist group,” said Rick Williams, secretary of Save Our Fairgrounds, a not-for-profit group that raises funds to protect the fairgrounds’ interest, which is how they paid for the lawsuit.

“We have always been proposing upgrades to the fairgrounds,” Williams said, highlighting that giving land to MLS for so cheap is concerning. “Leasing land for a dollar a year to develop whatever they want...We filed a lawsuit.”

Many details about how the fairgrounds would financially benefit from the deal have not been ironed out, Schloesser said.

“There are a lot of details to work out. The scope of the improvements will change based on whether or not we get the stadium opportunity,” she said.

The MLS could decide as early as this week on which cities land the two open slots.

The fair board feels the stadium is the best plan to spruce up the area as of yet.

“We’ve been waiting for the right plan… and then a bid for a soccer stadium came up,” Norton said. “Of course, not everyone wants to see the fairgrounds change… (but) the facility is in desperate need of change. I think everyone believes that Nashville is ready for it.”

On the site where the soccer stadium would set are some sheds and cinderblock buildings used for various exhibitions and rental opportunities.

Schloesser said those buildings would be rebuilt as modern structures. She does not know, however, if the soccer stadium will allow the fairgrounds to use exhibition space in or on the stadium grounds.

Additionally, parking lots are also included in the preliminary plans for the stadium.

“Having another building that hosts the public for events is not out of line for what we do,” Norton said.

 


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Venues Today To Relaunch As VenuesNow
 
Posted: 13 Dec 2017, 9:00 pm

Venues Today is transforming. The Oak View Group-owned facility-industry institution is re-imagining its content, rebranding and relaunching in 2018 as VenuesNow.

“VenuesNow will build on the Venues Today foundation,” said Ray Waddell, president of OVG’s Media & Conferences division. “We’re still in the business of focusing on issues, challenges and opportunities related to the rapidly-evolving sports and entertainment facilities business; providing insight on deals, trends, technology, security, touring content, team relations, operations, marketing, and sponsorships; and ancillary businesses including ticketing, food and beverage, promotions, VIP/premium, and everything else pertaining to this vibrant, robust business.”

Venues Today was due for refreshment. The redesign is looking crisp, smart and will be user-friendly and contemporary,” said Waddell, who expects the new-look VenuesNow to debut in February.

The debut of VenuesNow is part of an overall focus and investment in OVG’s Media & Conferences division, which includes VenuesNow, Pollstar, pollstar.com, and the newly launched Pollstar Daily Pulse newsletter, as well as a stake in sporttechie.com.

“As far as editorial coverage, we’re looking at it as the content will be focused on the Pollstar side, while where the content plays will be the focus of VenuesNow,” he explained. “We’re revolutionizing the coverage of this industry and anyone who operates venues or does business with venues will understand the way we’re delineating the two sides of our industry.”

“Things we started doing with Venues Today this year, we plan to double-down on next year, such as security, safety and technology; we care a whole lot about branding and sponsorships and partnerships in our business,” said Waddell.

The new design will be user-friendly, informative and entertaining, he said. “We’re going to have columns, guest op-eds, and exciting photography, visuals, charticles and great graphics.”

“It’s worth noting that at a time when a lot of people are running away from print media, OVG is running toward it and investing in it,” he said.

VenuesNow will now use live music-bible Pollstar’s data for tracking box office data, presented in a way that is specifically useful to venue managers and bookers.

“Pollstar is the gold standard for tracking live entertainment in the world, and we didn’t need two entitles collecting the same data,” said Waddell. “We want the charts to be a useful tool for venues making management decisions. We want to provide data that makes sure VenuesNow is on agents' desks, promoters' desks, managers' desks and content-providers' desks to give them something they can’t get anywhere else.”

Waddell emphasized that combining the two entities in terms of data collection will allow for “more information, more data-points, more contextualization, and it will be presented in a way that allows people in this business to make decisions.”

Joining VenuesNow leadership team are highly respected facilities industry reporter Don Muret, who comes to the publication after a 15-year stint at Sports Business Journal (SBJ).

As Senior Editor, Facilities, Muret will lead VenuesNow’s coverage of the arena and stadium business, as well as reporting on news and trends related to festivals and other venues, touring content, sports business, branding, industry deals, and personnel changes across the spectrum of sports and entertainment. Muret will also contribute content and breaking news to Pollstar platforms.

Also coming aboard the VenuesNow team will be Rob Knapp, formerly assistant managing editor at SBJ, in the role of managing editor. Knapp’s career has included stints at the Charlotte Observer and Lexington Herald Leader.

“While Don and Rob have been immersed in the sports business at SBJ they are both fully familiar with the facilities side of the business and they’ll bring a lot of expertise and skills to the next era of venues coverage,” said Waddell. “I’ve known and worked with Don Muret for over 25 years and his reputation and ability to break the most important stories in our business is second to none. Rob is the type of experienced, visionary editor we need as we dive into the next phase of coverage of this fascinating and dynamic industry.”

Both Muret and Knapp will report to OVG executive editor Andy Gensler.

As part of the re-organization, Venues Today offices in Huntington Beach, Calif., will close in January as the back-end operations of VenuesNow move to Los Angeles, with some aspects of production to be moved to Pollstar’s offices in Fresno, Calif.

The restructuring will lead to staff reductions at Venues Today, though some of the current Venues Today staffers, including founder Linda Deckard and senior writer Brad Weissberg, will make the transition to VenuesNow.

“Linda will remain an integral part of VenuesNow," said Waddell. "She’s the legacy of this title and she’s one of the most important figures in the business. We hope she’ll stay with us for many years to come. She’s part of the redesign efforts and she’ll play a significant role in what the new VenuesNow will look like.”

Deckard said the revamp is exciting. “I founded Venues Today 15 years ago and have nothing but praise for the people that helped build it along the way. It’s been an exciting ride and everyone has worked very hard for our position in the industry. I’m very much looking forward to this next chapter, and the insights of fellow journalists and people in the industry, and where VenuesNow is going to go.”

“The Facility business is changing, it’s challenging, it’s complex, it’s fascinating,” said OVG CEO Tim Leiweke. “We need a publication and a source that is focused on giving the industry up to date news, information and intelligence in the space. We need to understand what others are doing and how it effects what we do on a daily basis.”

Venues Now will be the source for those in the facility business to know everything going on in our industry,” he said.  “And it will cover the critical and impactful issues and topics of our industry and provide a forum for all of us to be a part of. We want it to be irreplaceable and relevant, every day. And we will expand the digital platform to complement the depth of coverage that the magazine will allow.”

In addition to the print magazine and its digital presence, VenuesNow will also
host the second edition of VenuesNow, the premiere facility-industry conference in North America next summer.

“If you’re in the facility business, the conference, the digital platform, and the magazine will be the key source for your information and for your facility to stay relevant,” added Leiweke.

 

 


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15,000-Capacity Venue Proposed In Austin
 
Posted: 13 Dec 2017, 9:00 pm

Rendering of the proposed new arena, part of the East Austin District.

An open-air stadium and 15,000-capacity arena have been proposed for construction in Austin, with investors hoping the facilities would serve as magnets for sports franchises looking to relocate to one of the fastest-growing cities in the U.S.

The group known as Austin Sports & Entertainment unveiled its plans in early December for East Austin District, a 1.3-million-sq.-ft. project that would revitalize the 1980’s-era Travis County Exposition Center in northeast Austin. That site’s main tenant is Rodeo Austin each March, which generated more than $2.5 million in ticketing revenue and more than 6,000 tickets sold in 2017. Other events at the 6,500-capacity Expo Center include the four-day Republic of Texas Biker Rally, concerts, circuses ad assorted outdoor athletic events on the 300 acres of property.

Danish architects Bjarke Ingels Group have signed on to design the project, which is planned to include an assortment of youth sports and other community facilities in a region of Austin that hasn’t experienced the rapid growth and economic development seen in many other parts of the city.

Austin Sports & Entertainment partners said they’ve thus far only secured the money to fund predevelopment work and are in talks with several potential groups about raising the hundreds of millions of dollars needed to build the facilities included in the proposal.

Sean Foley, a partner in the development group and former executive with the Raptor Group that owns the AS Roma soccer team, said the proposal began taking shape in late 2016, with the first meetings with Expo Center leaders happening this past January.

“Austin has such a robust economy, and the growth and income patterns on the east side are a really great thing for what we envision out there,” he said. “We’re focused on building a sports and entertainment hub that will be an asset for the whole community.”

A 2015 report by Hunden Strategic Partners determined the Expo Center property could fill several gaps in the event market in central Texas. The report called for a 15,000-seat arena, 200,000 square feet of exhibition hall space, a 30,000-sq.-ft. ballroom, 25,000 square feet of meeting space, 400,000 square feet of space for the rodeo’s midway, and parking for a minimum of 6,000 vehicles.

Rob Golding, CEO of Rodeo Austin, described the Expo Center as “functionally obsolete” and said the East Austin District development would let the rodeo expand its mid-March programming along with opening up ongoing activities for complementary groups such as Future Farmers of America and 4-H.

“We’re too small for top entertainment events and expanding to 15,000 to 20,000 seats serves us well as a location for the rodeo, concerts and other indoor entertainment,” he said. “We’re currently in a no-man’s land from a concerts point of view and if this concept moves forward one of the keys is to design the arena for entertainment purposes.

“The question is, who takes the lead, since Rodeo Austin isn’t in charge of the arena. It’s got to be a decision made by a group of county and city leaders, with the rodeo at the table.”

The path ahead for the East Austin District is unclear since the Expo Center is managed by Travis County, but sits on land owned by the City of Austin on a lease that will last 17 more years. City and county officials have said they’d favor a competitive process for redeveloping the site, with at least one other proposal known to be in the works.

Golding and other leaders have also come out in support of using some of Austin’s hotel tax, which generates around $100 million in revenue annually, as part of the funding for the Expo Center redevelopment, though no final numbers on cost or total public support amounts have been disclosed.

The unveiling of the proposal comes as the owners of the Major League Soccer Columbus (Ohio) Crew team are pushing for a stadium site in downtown Austin that would let them move the team there. Representatives from Precourt Sports Ventures, the Crew club’s ownership group, have said the potential Expo Center site is not an option they’re interested in.

Also in play is the expected demolition of the Frank Erwin Center, which has served as the home of University of Texas basketball teams for 40 years and has been the only arena option in the Austin urban core. That building is expected to be decommissioned in the next five years and the university has indicated it will build a basketball-only arena as a replacement.

 


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SMG Sells to Another Private Equity Firm
 
Posted: 13 Dec 2017, 8:05 pm

SMG is wrapping up its 40th year with a new private equity firm as owner. Onex Corporation has agreed to acquire SMG Holdings Inc. in partnership with its existing management team.

It has been a solid path up for the private management and food and beverage firm, which was founded in 1977 by A.N. Pritzger, who formed Hyatt Management Group to manage the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans, an account SMG has continued to manage for four decades.

Wes Westley, CEO of SMG, who joined the firm in 1994, was in Europe this week visiting accounts in Germany and England. “I had a series of pre-planned meetings in Europe related to our activities there. This did, however, give me an opportunity to discuss the transaction with our European leadership team,” Westley told Venues Today in an email.

Asked why Onex was the successful bidder, Westley noted Onex was founded more than 30 years ago and is one of North America’s oldest and most successful investment firms having acquired and built market-leading businesses across a range of industries. “Onex is highly supportive of our growth ambitions and we are looking forward to working with them. I want to add that Onex has a true ownership mentality and long-term focus and, as such, values the deep and long-standing relationships that our general managers have cultivated within the municipalities we serve,” Westley wrote.

There will be no change in management’s role going forward, he said, responding to another question thus: “If you are asking whether management will be part owner of the business in the future, the answer is yes.”

Westley would not disclose the other bids received, the length of negotiations or the terms of the deal, but did say “Onex is purely a financial investor. There will be no impact on leadership as a result of this transaction.”

In 2015, American Capital bought SMG for a reported $630 million. Back in 1998, Aramark and the Pritzgers bought out Ed Snider’s one-third interest in SMG for $40 million and a two-year noncompete (after which he founded Global Spectrum.) SMG has also grown by acquisition, buying Leisure Management International and acquiring venue management accounts from Ogden Entertainment in 2000.

Westley said he will “continue to answer to the clients and municipalities to which SMG has answered for four decades.” This sale has no impact on day-to-day business as the executive team, regional leaders and local management will not change and the current organizational structure and offices remain.

“Onex did a lot of due diligence and I think their interest in SMG is a testament to the quality and depth of our organization, and the possibilities for growth that they see in our business,” Westley concluded, saying no units of SMG will be spun off, “absolutely not.”

SMG manages nearly 240 convention centers, stadiums, arenas, theatres, performing arts centers and other venues globally. In 2017, SMG added the Shenzhen World Exhibition and Convention Center in China and the Aberdeen (Scotland) Convention Center to its portfolio.

This transaction is expected to close in early 2018 subject to customary conditions and regulatory approvals.  The terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

SMG is headquartered in Conshohocken, a suburb of Philadelphia. Besides all aspects of venue management, it includes a food and beverage division, combining Savor and Premier.

Onex has offices in Toronto, New York, New Jersey and London. This investment will be made by Onex Partners IV, Onex’ $5.7 billion fund. Northlane Capital Partners (NCP), which was spun off from American Capital, which was acquired by Ares Capital, was the owner of SMG that sold to Onex.

NCP is owned by the four partners who have managed ACE III since its closing in September 2014: Justin DuFour, Sean Eagle, Eugene Krichevsky, and David Steinglass. They will continue to be supported by the same six-person investment team and be based in Bethesda, Md. NCP invests in control buyouts in middle market companies based in North America, focusing on healthcare, outsourced business services, and industrial technology.

Through its Onex Partners and ONCAP private equity funds, Onex acquires and builds high-quality businesses in partnership with talented management teams. At Onex Credit, Onex manages and invests in leveraged loans, collateralized loan obligations and other credit securities. Onex has more than $30 billion of assets under management, including $6.7 billion of Onex proprietary capital, in private equity and credit securities. 

Onex’ businesses have assets of $45 billion, generate annual revenues of $30 billion and employ approximately 161,000 people worldwide, according to a posting on BusinessWire.  Onex shares trade on the Toronto Stock Exchange under the stock symbol ONEX.


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Ontario Passes Ticket Cap Bill
 
Posted: 13 Dec 2017, 5:00 pm

Ticketmaster and StubHub executives in Canada have been biting their nails for weeks about the Ontario Ticket Sales Act, waiting for it to go through the legislative process.

To their dismay, the law was approved Dec. 13, with 50 lawmakers saying yay and 43 nay. 

The act outlines specifications for how tickets are sold, distributed and monitored. It also helps crack down on scalpers and bots that buy massive amounts of tickets and increase the prices — all of which Ticketmaster and StubHub approve. It’s the price caps on tickets that concerns ticket executives.

The Canadian Chamber of Commerce, Ontario Chamber of Commerce, and the Information Technology Association of Canada also were against the legislation.

The Ontario government got involved in monitoring ticket sales when the consumers were left paying outrageous prices for the Tragically Hip Tour last year, said StubHub’s Jeff Poirier, GM, music and theater, North America.

“The issue that came up was how expensive some of the tickets were,” he said.

At first, Ticketmaster and StubHub were supportive of the legislation and both parties sat down with lawmakers to hash out the language.

The goal was to protect consumers from scammers, which everyone agreed on. The proposed law also initially stated that consumers must know how many tickets are for sale for every show, and Ticketmaster and StubHub were supportive of that provision.

“I think it was to create fairness and transparency for consumers. One of the key points of the law was how many tickets are for sale. That was scrapped,” Poirier said.

Under the Ticket Business Transparency clause, it originally “set out disclosure and transparency obligations for ticket businesses.” The final language of the law was changed from “sets out disclosure and transparency obligations for ticket businesses requirements to disclose the number of tickets available to an event and the face value of the total ticket price” to “certain information before tickets are sold.”

“It’s a shame that they’re going to keep Ontario fans in the dark,” Poirier said.

The new law also “sets out prohibitions that apply to ticket sales and the use of certain software. Sales above face value on the secondary market are permitted providing that certain conditions are met and sales of tickets that are not in a person’s possession or control are prohibited. In addition, the use or sale of software intended to circumvent certain controls and measures on a website, online service or electronic application of a ticket business is prohibited.”

Ticketmaster also takes issue with price caps.

“We remain concerned that the reintroduction of legislated price caps will not serve the best interests of Ontario consumers. When demand is unsaturated, opportunists will no doubt find the opportunity to exploit the arbitrage. Fans will be driven to unsanctioned platforms without consumer protection,” Ticketmaster Canada’s COO Patti-Anne Tarlton said in an email. “Until July 2015, the resale of a ticket above face value was illegal in Ontario, but the law did not deter the activity. The proposed price cap will be equally ineffective. When the law changed in 2015 to allow for resale in the province, it came with two very important consumer protection provisions.  A seller had to either provide a money-back guarantee or assurance that the ticket was authentic and valid; both these provisions have positive consumer protection outcomes.”

Now that the legislation has passed, both Ticketmaster and StubHub are committed to working with the Canadian government to abide by the new law.

“We will abide by the laws of that province,” Poirier said.

Ticketmaster expressed the same sentiment.

“We look forward to working with government throughout the winter as they seek to further define and clarify clauses in the regulation period.  As we do in all jurisdictions in which we operate, we will adapt to the legislation,” Tarlton said.

 


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eSports Enters Sacramento Arena
 
Posted: 13 Dec 2017, 4:00 pm

Golden 1 Center, Sacramento, Calif., is building a dedicated eSports arena to debut in 2018.

The Sacramento Kings plan to build the first dedicated eSports facility within an existing arena, taking advantage of the technological advancements and spaciousness of a venue opened in 2016.

Golden 1 Center, Sacramento, Calif., already houses the National Basketball Association’s (NBA) Kings and the team’s co-owners own an eSports team entered in the inaugural NBA 2K eSports league for 2018. To give its eSports team a home and open space for competition, the Kings will create a “venue within a venue,” building a training facility, broadcast center and gamer lounge inside the downtown arena.

“The venue-within-a-venue is located on the event level of the arena,” Kings CTO Ryan Montoya told Venues Today. “It is just a hallway away from the Sacramento Kings Training Facility and the main event floor of the arena.”

Montoya said they will build a “dynamic studio space that will host small competitions” in a theater-style design. For larger events, the Kings will utilize a direct link with the club and lounge spaces within the Golden 1 Center, as well as the arena bowl, to display competitions on the NBA’s largest video board and the only one in the league featuring 4K Ultra HD resolution. The arena’s 360-degree audio will supplement the full-arena experience.

“Using technology to engage with our fans and reach new audiences has always been core to our organization’s mission,” said Vivek Ranadivé, Kings owner and chairman. “Golden 1 Center is the most advanced arena for basketball, entertainment and esports. This state-of-the-art facility will set a new standard and provide the best-in-class tools that the next generation of superstar gamers need to train, compete and win.”

A full-service studio and green screen room, complete with 4K cameras, will enable the team to create unique content and share it with fans around the world. The production studio links to Golden 1 Center’s 4K Ultra HD Broadcast Center for streaming. A dedicated LAN setup, backed by Golden 1 Center’s 200 GBPS internet connection and the first Tier 4 Data Center in sports, will deliver lag-free gaming and connectivity. Fans can gain a live look inside the gaming room through a 360-degree camera for advanced livestreams.

Along with state-of-the-art gaming technology, the Kings plan to serve gamers, artists and the community. That includes intentionally designing the studio to serve different audiences, whether students or entertainers performing in the arena who can enjoy the high-tech space down to hundreds of gaming titles, including Mario Kart and Super Smash Bros on Nintendo 64 to the newest, most popular videogames and virtual reality experiences. Along with videogame consoles, the studio will feature a professional DJ rig for guests to record music.

“At the core of our business mission, we want to serve as an agent of change, and this is a unique opportunity for us to use our platform to help local groups improve education outcomes or spark a student with an interest in tech,” Montoya said about partnering with the Sacramento Kings Foundation to lend the room to the region’s nonprofits as an educational incentive, a unique engagement tool to connect with students with tech-driven curriculum.

Students won’t be the only ones getting a little extra on their visit to the building. “On the arena side,” he said, “it is an amenity that no other venue can offer performers or their management right now. It is another one of those special touches—similar to our locally sourced cuisine or unmatched tech infrastructure—that we hope will leave a lasting impression with artists who visit the Golden 1 Center.”

The Kings plan to expose the professional gamers to the same treatment the NBA players enjoy, whether it's the culinary program or training facility. The team boasts an on-demand oxygen bar plus a beverage bar with fresh kombucha and nitrogen coffee to energize the gamers.

The Kings also want to expose gamers to the same fans that cheer on the NBA team. “We have incredibly passionate and engaged fans, including many who are young and excited about gaming,” Montoya said. “Esports is a natural extension for us and allows us to further engage with our fans and grow new ones.”


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Webster Bank Arena and Mohegan Sun Partner
 
Posted: 13 Dec 2017, 4:00 pm

Webster Bank Arena, Bridgeport, Conn. and Mohegan Sun, Uncasville, Conn. are teaming up on programming.

A pair of prominent Connecticut entertainment venues have announced a new exclusive partnership designed to build business for both facilities.

Mohegan Sun, a casino and resort in Uncasville with a 10,000-seat arena, and the Webster Bank Arena, a 10,000-seat arena a little more than an hour drive away in Bridgeport, signed the three-year, multiple-level agreement to strengthen their existing relationship and help attract more concerts and sporting events. Under the arrangement, Mohegan Sun will help book events at the Webster Bank Arena and will have a sponsorship presence at the arena.

“This partnership is a good example of how venues can work together, be good community neighbors and help the state of Connecticut become more of an attraction using two of its bigger venues to draw more people, create more fun and memories for life,” said Tom Cantone, senior vice president of sports and entertainment for Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment. “Everyone wins.”

Peter Luukko, co-chairman of Oak View Group's Arena Alliance, which serves as a venue consultant to the Webster Bank Arena and the New York Islanders, said the new agreement was “a sign of a great relationship between two organizations in the state of Connecticut working together to help each other.”

Mohegan Sun Arena has attracted a number of big-name musical performers to its arena since its opening in 2001, and it has hosted a variety of sporting events and other performances. The arena, which is owned by Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment, serves as the home of the Connecticut Suns of the Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA) and the New England Black Wolves of the National Lacrosse League. The arena has hosted the WNBA All-Star Game three times.

Webster Bank Arena, which also opened in 2001, serves as the home of the Bridgeport Sound Tigers ice hockey team (the American Hockey League affiliate of the New York Islanders), the Fairfield University men’s basketball team and the Sacred Heart University men’s ice hockey team. The arena is located on the Long Island Sound waterfront and hosts approximately 150 events each year. Harbor Yard Sports and Entertainment manages the facility, which is owned by the city of Bridgeport.

“We both are established entertainment venues in New England and we will build on that with programming and sponsorship coverage that will extend Mohegan Sun’s well-known entertainment brand to help generate more tourism in the state,” Cantone said.

Cantone said the partnership is a natural fit for attracting concerts, in particular, to the venues, and that is where the emphasis of the collaboration will be trained.

“Our primary focus will be to do what we do best and that is the concert business as that is the driver for venues like ours,” Cantone said. “With our industry contacts, we will be able to help offer more dates for more artists to play, especially when the tours are being routed or there are some isolated opportunities we may want to pursue.”

Luukko said he also expects the partnership will be especially beneficial for building Webster Bank Arena’s concert schedule.

“I think it’s going to be great for all kinds of concerts,” Luukko said. “Rock, country, any show will be a part of this arrangement.”

Cantone said the facilities’ resemblance in general features and size helps with the planning and promoting of concerts, as does a shared understanding of the region.

“Our venues are very similar so we can model each show with a basic understanding of how it will fit from a production standpoint as well as the marketing of each show,” Cantone said. “Our expertise in both of those areas is a big synergistic advantage.”

Luukko said the Mohegan Sun’s sponsorship opportunities with the Webster Bank Arena will provide it with valuable exposure in the Bridgeport marketplace and help drive visitors to the casino. Mohegan Sun will have visible sponsorship within  Webster Bank Arena. Bridgeport, which has a population of more than 140,000, is the the largest city in Connecticut.

In a press release, Kevin Brown “Red Eagle,” chairman of the Mohegan Tribe and MGE Management board, said the agreement reflected Mohegan Sun’s “commitment to Bridgeport, a city rich in history and culture,” and its desire to support its “growth and rebirth.” Jon Ledecky, owner of the Bridgeport Sound Tigers and the New York Islanders, called the agreement “the beginning of a long-time marriage.”

Luukko said the arrangement should be a boost to the Bridgeport area and to its residents and visitors.

“They’re going to get more shows and get more out of their arena,” Luukko said.

Cantone said the regional economic benefits of the arrangement will be apparent.

“Anytime you draw more people into your venue, you generate more revenue and the local economy benefits as do the thousands of people who work the venue with more opportunities to earn a better living,” Cantone said.

 


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Hot Tickets for December 13, 2017
 
Posted: 12 Dec 2017, 8:00 pm

John Mayer joined Dead & Company at Frank Erwin Center, Austin, Texas. (Photo Credit: Rick Kern)

After the unexpected success of their summer tour, Dead & Company hit the road this fall with a batch of new tour dates, and their stop at American Airlines Center, Dallas, Dec. 1, made our Hot Tickets chart this week. The venue came alive with the music of the Grateful Dead and the cheers of the 11,000 fans in attendance singing along and grossed nearly $1.2 million with ticket prices ranging from $45-$145. The band, which was created back in 2015, consists of Grateful Dead members Bob Weir, Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzmann along with John Mayer, Oteil Burbridge and Jeff Chimenti. Fans of Mayer were given a unique opportunity to see a different side of the artist as the band covered decades of Grateful Dead hits. Dead & Company will be wrapping up the fall tour on Dec. 8, at BB&T Center, Sunrise, Fla.

Over 12,000 people took a heart-warming journey of self-discovery at David A. Straz, Jr. Center for the Performing Arts, Tampa, Fla., Nov. 28-Dec. 3, when they attended the Broadway musical hit Fun Home. The eight shows grossed a combined $725,000 with ticket prices ranging from $26-$78. This musical, which entwines tragedy with comedy, is a graphic memoir of cartoonist Alison Bechdel’s childhood and her loving, dysfunctional family. The Tony-award-winning musical is scheduled to make its London premiere at the Young Vic in June of next year.

HOT TICKETS is a weekly summary of the top acts and ticket sales as reported to VT PULSE. Following are the top 20 concerts and events, the top 5 in each seating capacity category, which took place between Nov. 14-Dec. 12.

15,001 or More Seats

10,001-15,000 Seats

5,001-10,000 Seats

5,000 or Fewer Seats

1) Nitto ATP Finals 2017
Gross Sales: $6,182,102; Venue: The O2 Arena, London; Attendance: 92,368; Ticket Range: $94.04-$4.37; Promoter: ATP; Dates: Nov. 12-15; No. of Shows: 8

2) Lady GaGa
Gross Sales: $1,610,901; Venue: Frank Erwin Center, Austin, Texas; Attendance: 12,680; Ticket Range: $228-$48; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Dec. 5; No. of Shows: 1

3) Dead & Company
Gross Sales: $1,188,751; Venue: American Airlines Center, Dallas; Attendance: 10,713; Ticket Range: $145-$45; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Dec. 1; No. of Shows: 1

4) Foo Fighters
Gross Sales: $1,173,401; Venue: Golden 1 Center, Sacramento, Calif.; Attendance: 13,197; Ticket Range: $99.50-$49.50; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Dec. 2; No. of Shows: 1

5) Trans-Siberian Orchestra
Gross Sales: $1,160,306; Venue: Golden 1 Center, Sacramento, Calif.; Attendance: 20,007; Ticket Range: $84-$36.75; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Dec. 1; No. of Shows: 2

1) Yusuf
Gross Sales: $2,021,925; Venue: Brisbane (Australia) Entertainment Centre; Attendance: 16,448; Ticket Range: $158.02-$73.42; Promoter: TEG Dainty, Live Nation; Dates: Dec. 9-10; No. of Shows: 2

2) Trans-Siberian Orchestra
Gross Sales: $1,306,728; Venue: Van Andel Arena, Grand Rapids, Mich.; Attendance: 19,925; Ticket Range: $76-$46; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Dec. 3; No. of Shows: 2

3) The Weeknd
Gross Sales: $1,052,362; Venue: Brisbane (Australia) Entertainment Centre; Attendance: 11,431; Ticket Range: $107.64-$84.56; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Dec. 6; No. of Shows: 1

4) Shawn Mendes
Gross Sales: $555,255; Venue: Brisbane (Australia) Entertainment Centre; Attendance: 8,526; Ticket Range: $113.23-$60.35; Promoter: Frontier Touring ; Dates: Nov. 29; No. of Shows: 1

5) Amy Grant, Michael W. Smith
Gross Sales: $431,997; Venue: Van Andel Arena, Grand Rapids, Mich.; Attendance: 9,046; Ticket Range: $125-$29.50; Promoter: Rush Concerts; Dates: Dec. 10; No. of Shows: 1

1) Yusuf
Gross Sales: $919,954; Venue: ICC Sydney Theatre; Attendance: 7,756; Ticket Range: $158.02-$73.42; Promoter: TEG Dainty; Dates: Dec. 7; No. of Shows: 1

2) J. Cole
Gross Sales: $827,694; Venue: Hordern Pavilion, Sydney; Attendance: 10,935; Ticket Range: $84.64; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Dec. 4-5; No. of Shows: 2

3) Culture Club
Gross Sales: $548,120; Venue: ICC Sydney Theatre; Attendance: 4,986; Ticket Range: $142.34-$93.89; Promoter: One World Entertainment; Dates: Dec. 1; No. of Shows: 1

4) Ozuna
Gross Sales: $517,303; Venue: Smart Financial Centre, Sugar Land, Texas; Attendance: 5,273; Ticket Range: $155.50-$65.50; Promoter: CMN Entertainment; Dates: Nov. 25; No. of Shows: 1

5) La Tocada Fest Presents
Gross Sales: $513,845; Venue: Event Center at San Jose (Calif.) State University; Attendance: 5,903; Ticket Range: $100-$85; Promoter: Frias Entertainment Group; Dates: Nov. 24; No. of Shows: 1

1) Reba, Brooks & Dunn
Gross Sales: $3,705,171; Venue: The Colosseum at Caesars Palace, Las Vegas; Attendance: 27,741; Ticket Range: $205-$59.50; Promoter: AEG Presents, Caesars Entertainment; Dates: Nov. 29-Dec. 10; No. of Shows: 7

2) Love Never Dies
Gross Sales: $1,809,075; Venue: Fox Theatre, Atlanta; Attendance: 31,247; Ticket Range: $150-$40; Promoter: Broadway Across America; Dates: Nov. 28-Dec. 3; No. of Shows: 8

3) School of Rock
Gross Sales: $998,742; Venue: Peace Center, Greenville, S.C.; Attendance: 11,560; Ticket Range: $95-$35; Promoter: In-house; Dates: Dec. 5-10; No. of Shows: 8

4) Fun Home
Gross Sales: $724,658; Venue: David A. Straz, Jr. Center for the Performing Arts, Tampa, Fla.; Attendance: 12,410; Ticket Range: $78-$26; Promoter: In-house; Dates: Nov. 28-Dec. 3; No. of Shows: 8

5) Sebastian Maniscalco
Gross Sales: $645,234; Venue: Broward Center for the Performing Arts, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; Attendance: 10,372; Ticket Range: $250-$59.75; Promoter: In-house; Dates: Nov. 24-25; No. of Shows: 4

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

 


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Congratulations 2018 Box Office Stars winners!
 
Posted: 8 Dec 2017, 3:00 pm

Thank you to all who voted.  We will be honoring this year's outstanding ticketing professionals during the INTIX convention in Baltimore, Md. January 23-25, 2018.

Congratulations to our 2018 Box Office Stars!

Andrew Bragman
Vice President – Ticket Operations
Washington Nationals Baseball Club

For supervising ticketing for the Nationals 81-game season and the National League postseason and overseeing concert ticketing at Nationals Park. In addition, into the fall of this year, Bragman is overseeing the ticketing for Washington, hosting the Major League Baseball All-Star Game in 2018.  With his most recent promotion, he is also taking on additional duties in analytics for ticket marketing. Bragman has worked in professional baseball ticketing and SMG arenas for close to 15 years, the last 2 ½ with the Washington Nationals, during which time he has been promoted three times: from director to senior director to executive director to VP.

Crystal Clinton
Director, Ticketing System Administration
Opry Entertainment, Nashville

For ticketing events and merchandise sales associated with Aug. 21 total solar eclipse, the first to sweep across the entire United States in 99 years - and Nashville, Tenn. was in the largest U.S. city in the direct path of totality. Literally millions of people came from around the world to experience the almost two minutes in time when the moon completely blocked out the sun. So what do Southerners do when guests come to town?  They open up their homes and throw a party, of course, which is exactly what they did at the Grand Ole Opry. Over the four-day weekend, they held 5 Opry Shows, hosting over 18,000 guests. Over 5,600 of them took an Opry Backstage Tour, and thousands spent Monday picnicking on the plaza donning their Opry Eclipse T-shirts, dancing to the live music, playing corn hole and life-size connect 4, and just visiting with newly-made friends. Kids enjoyed face-painting, sno-cones and kettle corn. National news organizations were on hand. The Weather Channel and even NASA were there to record the celestial event. In addition, for managing operations of two separate business units in Ryman Hospitality Properties — Opry Entertainment Group as well as an impressive portfolio of destination hotels providing accommodations bundled with various types of live entertainment experiences. This, after operating as one organization for 20+ years.

Linda Forlini
Vice President
Ticket Philadelphia

For implementing a Customer Service training program and training over 500 staff/partner staff members throughout her organization including Ticket Philadelphia and The Kimmel Center. They called the program GRaCE (Guest Relations and Campus Experience) and it has changed the culture at the Kimmel Center. Their staff was friendly, but now they have a structure that Forlini built with checks and balances, plus a formalized recognition program. The program took eight months to put together, roll out and enhance. They are clearly seeing the fruits of their labor daily with the enhanced engagement and experience for not only their external, but also their internal customers.  During the process, multiple members of the Kimmel Center team asked Forlini to be their mentor. She was told that they had been watching her interact with her team and noticed the cultural changes that were being made and embraced, and they wanted to hone their skills with her help as well.

David Greenbaum
Director of Ticketing
NRG Park, Houston

For stepping up after Hurricane Harvey devastated Houston and NRG Park was turned into a relief shelter for almost 10,000 guests. Many events were canceled and/or rescheduled, the largest of which was the sold-out Coldplay concert. Greenbaum made that scheduling process run as smooth as could be expected given the circumstances. As a 37-year veteran in the industry, Greenbaum has been involved in thousands of events over the years. In 2017 NRG Park will have hosted over 150-ticketed events over 200 event days with an attendance of over 800,000. Highlights for the year include Super Bowl LI and the U2, and Metallica world tours.  In addition to overseeing these NRG Park events, Greenbaum also provides support for the Houston Texans and the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo.

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

Contact your Account Executive to Reserve a Congratulatory ad!

Jim McNeil
Southeastern and Midwestern U.S.,
(207) 699-3343 jim@venuestoday.com

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

Ad deadline is Wed. December 13, 2017.


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Greek Out to Bid Again
 
Posted: 6 Dec 2017, 7:00 pm

The historic Greek Theatre in Griffith Park, Los Angeles.

The city of Los Angeles Recreation & Parks Department is sold on the open venue concept and, to that end, has issued a request for proposals (RFP) to operate the Greek Theatre from Nov. 1 2018-Nov. 1, 2028 to venue management companies only.

Just three short years ago, SMG won the bid in a hotly contested and highly public and political process, to operate the iconic, 5,801-seat amphitheater located in Griffith Park for one year with two one-year options, which end next November. The next contract will have some differences, including a 10-year term with a five-year option.

But it will continue to be an open venue concept and requires that the successful bidder is not allowed to promote concerts or events “consistent with an open venue model and therefore, any concert promoter, a subsidiary of a concert promoter or a joint venture with a concert promoter will be prohibited from submitting a response to this RFP.”

Prior to SMG's reign, Nederlander Concerts had the exclusive to operate and promote at The Greek for decades. Live Nation challenged that deal upon renewal before the city opted out of exclusive promoters and went with a management agreement.

A.P. Diaz, L.A. Recreation and Parks, said approximately 20 people attended the mandatory pre-proposal conference Nov. 30. Diaz did not have the complete list, but did recall representatives from SMG, AEG, Live Nation, Goldenvoice, Nederlander, Premier and Oak View Group were among them.

Bids are due Jan. 4, 2018. It is a very long and legal RFP, which Diaz said has been streamlined from what the city used to publish and which some of those planning to bid say will require a host of lawyers to help dot all the i’s.

The full RFP can be found by clicking here

Besides operating and booking the Greek for a fee, selling premium and seating programs for an incentive, maintaining an open box office (currently inhabited by Ticketmaster and AXS) and handling venue concessions (fee based), the new RFP also includes a fee to operate the nearby Roosevelt Café, which is open 365 days a year to service golfers and park guests. Premier, a division of SMG, currently operates concessions at the Greek.

This round, the city is also including an open-ended request for the successful operator to make some capital improvements. SMG invested in some food and beverage enhancements last round, but capital expenditures were not part of the bid, Diaz said.

The successful bidder must be prepared to begin the transition Oct. 1, 2018, to prepare for the 2019 season, which runs mid-April-Oct. 31 and includes approximately 70 concerts.

The dedicated core management staff for The Greek must be comprised of a Venue Manager, Roosevelt Café Manager, Booking/Box Office Manager, Operations Manager and necessary restaurant and administrative support staff. It is expected that during off-season months (November-March), the venue may be rented for special events, i.e. corporate, community and other events, the RFP says..

“There will be no exclusive rights to a ticketing vendor.”

Minimum qualifications to bid include, but are not limited to, “a minimum qualifying experience of providing venue management services for a minimum of twenty-five (25) different concert/theatre venues with a minimum seating capacity of four-thousand (4,000) per venue and have been in business for a minimum of twenty (20) years. Proposer must also have a minimum qualifying experience of providing food and beverage services for a minimum of ten (10) different concert/theater venues with a minimum seating capacity of five-thousand (5,000) per venue and have been in business for a minimum of fifteen (15) years. A qualifying venue could be a theater, stadium or amphitheater. If this is a new company, partnership, or joint venture formed for the operation of this concession, describe the background and qualifications of each of the partners or principals.”

Becky Colwell, GM at the Greek for SMG, said the city has been a great partner and is pleased with the financial results to date. Diaz had said the same, saying the Greek management style is predicated on what Denver does at Red Rocks amphitheater.

She shared financials from 2016 (2017 is not due until next week). The Greek hosted 80 events, April-October, with a total attendance of 318,618.

Food and drink at just the Greek grossed $4,931,000, with a per cap of $15.57 (up from a projected $3,832,335 and $12), with a return to the city of  $2,071,000.

Premium seat sales totaled $830,000, of which the RAP received $623,000; and sponsorships, $958,000 ($737,000 to the city).

Other gross receipts included: Ticket Sales, $18,449,000; Facility Fee, $1,564,000; Parking, $2,057,000; and Rent & Service, $5,708,000.

According to the RFP, the minimum annual guarantee (MAG) for the food and beverage concession at the Greek for year one is $2 million. The MAG for subsequent years is the greater of the previous year’s MAG or 90 percent of the actual concession fee paid to Recreation & Parks (RAP) for the previous contract year.

The MAG percentage of gross receipts payable to RAP is forty percent (40%) for all food and beverage sold annually. The Minimum Acceptable MAG for the food and beverage concession at the Roosevelt Cafe for year one is $25,000 or six percent.

According to the RFP, bids will be weighed as follows: 20% — Operational And Management Plan; 25% — Sponsorship And Premium Seating Sales Plan; 15%— Capital Improvement Plan; 20% — Food And Beverage Concession Plan; and 20% —Total Evaluation.

According to Diaz, once bids are submitted it will take through March to evaluate them and into April to decide. 


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Lessons Learned from an Accidental Death
 
Posted: 6 Dec 2017, 5:45 pm

Bob Johnson, OABA; David Margulies, Margulies Communications Group; Alicia Shoults, Ohio State Fair; and E.J. Dean, Fiesta Shows, moderator.

REPORTING FROM LAS VEGAS — The Fireball ride accident in July at the 2017 Ohio State Fair, which killed one and injured four, made international headlines this fair season. The mantra from those who lived the tragedy from the business end was “be ready” and know “this is your business,” take care of your key audience first.

While the police and fire departments and the governor’s office are dealing with the bigger issues and the media, the venue should be focusing on informing their business partners and peers as to what is happening.

It was a by-the-book crisis communication effort from the get-go, but simply beyond comprehension until you’ve lived through it, said Alicia Shoults, Ohio State Fair, who spoke at the International Association of Fairs & Expositions convention here Nov. 26-30.

“We had a safety meeting two weeks before this happened [on opening day of the fair] and, as a result of that meeting, our first aid, highway patrol and off-site emergency services were all on the same radio channel, so everyone was told at once,” Shoults recalled.

It is amazing how quickly things happen, Shoults said. “We knew we had to notify social media,” she said of first responses, because everyone on site had their cellphone out and was taking pictures. The chatter was deafening. “We needed some acknowledgement from an official source.”

She also advised others involved in tragic incidents like this to “stay in your lane, your area of expertise. Don’t step on others’ toes.” The investigation into the cause of the accident and details on the injured, that’s for the police department, not the fair.

At the initial press conference, the fair kept a check-in sheet so they could follow up with media on hand and tied all sound into a multibox so there was only one mike at the podium.

“It’s important to express grief, but not take ownership of that grief,” Shoults said. “It’s not our turn to grieve; it’s the family’s turn. It’s not about us.”

One of the things Shoults needed most was people. As the national media descended on Columbus, she was calling on friends and colleagues around the industry to help. “I never realized I’d need so many people just to wrangle the media.”

She found it best to keep crisis files on Dropbox, everything from talking points to clippings and background, for easy access for multiple needs. She also advised colleagues facing crisis management to be cognizant of all advertising and promotional materials that are out there. “The Fireball was in our TV ads, albeit for less than a second, and that had to change.”

To accommodate the press, they immediately established a media staging area in a parking lot that had a view of rides for TV shots, but “not the shot,” not the Fireball. They surrounded the Fireball with tractor-trailers so the view was obstructed.

She understood the need to “feed the beast,” the media has a job to do, so they established a website, OhioStateFair.com/media-fireball. It’s still up.

They took the press on a tour of the grounds en masse the day after the accident. “Everyone tried to run off and get other shots,” she said. On day 2, the press tour was a golf cart tour. The goal for the fair was fair and equal coverage for everyone.

“Be aware of anniversaries (one month, two months, one year) and events,” she added. The memorial for the deceased was on Day 5 of the fair and the funeral was on Day 6. The fair was lowkey. No decision has been made yet on what to do when the 2018 fair opens, whether the moment of silence will be on day one because it was opening day in 2017, or day two, the actual one-year anniversary.

David Margulies, The Margulies Communications Group, advised managers to enlist a third voice in issues like this. For the Ohio State Fair, that was the Outdoor Amusement Business Association (OABA). Bob Johnson, OABA president, said he couldn’t get off the phone for a week after the ride accident.

“It was incredible how fast it went viral worldwide,” Johnson said.

Johnson’s first reaction was to contact the carnival owner and Margulies, review the Industry Safety Statistics and Carnival Rides website and develop a spiel for the media calls. It’s important to know that American Society for Testing and Materials standards become regulation standards and inspections are based on ASTM standards.

This was a wake up call, as any accident would be, and the industry is still looking at all equipment and how it might relate to the issue here and many states had to get out in front of the issue, which impacted fairs all down the line post-Ohio.

Margulies added that employees need to know what to do when someone puts a cellphone in front of their face during a crisis. He recommended having a “what to do if…” list ready to distribute in case of an accident. “To the media, anyone who works for you is a spokesperson,” Margulies said.

He also advises his clients against taking center stage. “In a crisis like this, you don’t need to say anything. The police and fire departments are trained to deal with that. You make sure they have the information, but it’s not your turn to hold a news conference.”

It is your turn to reach out to your key audience, from vendors to insurance companies to other fairs and carnivals, he said. “There needs to be strong follow-up.” Other rides were shut down worldwide and the manufacturers were making modifications to similar rides.

The industry is now looking at new testing protocols to combat internal corrosion, which was determined to be the cause, Margulies said. The rides were inspected according to current safety protocols and passed. It’s important to use third-party experts to corroborate those claims.

It was determined early on that there was no operator error “and we focused on that, what the investigations said,” Margulies said. There will always be false rumors to combat, particularly given the social media aspect of news today.

First and foremost, “the focus in on keeping your business, not going after every reporter you don’t like,” Margulies said. “Your business is much more important to you than the media.”

The ride is still shut down, four months later.


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Petrullo Resigns KFC YUM! GM Post
 
Posted: 6 Dec 2017, 4:00 pm

Dennis Petrullo has resigned his post as GM, KFC Yum! Center, Louisville, Ky.

DennisPetrullo-KFC-200x145.jpgDennis Petrullo.

Petrullo has helped run the arena since 2012. He was hired by AEG in 2009. When the group signed to manage the arena three years later, Petrullo was put in place as GM.

Richard Krezwick, SVP, AEG Facilities, will assume the interim position of general manager until a successor is named. A new general manager will be hired within 30 days, according to a statement from AEG’s Michael Roth.

Petrullo’s departure comes on the heels of the news that Moody's upgraded the KFC Yum! Center's bond rating.  Arena officials say that the improved rating will yield tens of millions in savings toward repaying its debt.


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Google Opening Offices Near Detroit Arena
 
Posted: 6 Dec 2017, 3:00 pm

Rendering of the new Google offices next to Little Caesars Arena, Detroit.

While cities around the nation await word on whether they’ve won the rose to become the next Amazon hub, Detroit is celebrating Google’s announcement this week that it is moving its Michigan offices from suburban Birmingham to Detroit. The company’s new 100-person, 30,000-square foot office is slated to open in the spring next to Little Caesars Arena at 52 East Henry St.

“Google has officially signed a lease for new office space on East Henry Street alongside the Little Caesars Arena in Detroit, Mich. The city of Detroit has a rich history of culture and innovation, and we’re excited to be a part of its world class talent and world class companies,” Google’s Birmingham co-site leads Danielle Russell and Guy Schueller said in a statement to Venues Today. “Our new space will not only provide room for future growth, but will also give us the opportunity to contribute to the dynamic economic and community activity happening in Detroit.”

The move is part of an ongoing effort led by Quicken Loans founder Dan Gilbert to revive the city’s downtown as part of the tech hub known as the Madison Block, which already includes businesses such as the Bizdom start-up incubator, Detroit Labs, Avalon Films and the architecture firm Neumann/Smith.

Renderings of the new site show the Mountain View, Calif.-based company’s signature colorful name splashed across the top of the building, with the lights of Little Caesars Arena shining in the background. The placement will give the leading search engine prime visibility for concertgoers as well as Red Wings and Pistons fans attending events at the gleaming new $829-million, 19,000-capacity building that effectively replaced both the Joe Louis Arena and the suburban Palace at Auburn Hills when it opened in early September.

“This exciting move by Google is another clear sign that, in The District Detroit, we’re building one of the best and most exciting places to live, work and play in the entire region,” said Christopher Ilitch, President/CEO of Ilitch Holdings Inc. in a statement. “Google joins other world-class organizations like the Detroit Pistons, the Detroit Red Wings, the Detroit Tigers, Olympia Entertainment, 313 Presents, the Mike Ilitch School of Business at Wayne State University, Little Caesars Pizza and others who are bringing new development, jobs and innovation to this critical area in our community. We welcome Google as the first of many new tenants expected to join The District Detroit in office, retail and residential developments.”

The 100-plus employees from Birmingham who focus on automotive ads and technical support will make the move downtown after the suburban office closes in spring 2018. 


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OVG’s KeyArena Reno On Track for 2020
 
Posted: 6 Dec 2017, 2:00 pm

A rendering of OVG's renovated KeyArena, Seattle, which cleared a giant hurdle and received city council approval of its MOU this week.

The Seattle City Council approved the memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the city and Oak View Group (OVG) to renovate KeyArena, Dec.4, by a vote of 7-1, with one absent voter. The new mayor, Jenny Durkin, and OVG Co-Founder and CEO Tim Leiweke, signed the MOU on Dec. 6, pushing the promise of implementation of the $660-million project further toward the finish line. (Full disclosure: OVG also owns Venues Today.)

The revitalization of KeyArena is step one in Seattle attracting a National Basketball Association (NBA) team and a National Hockey League (NHL) team to the city. Seattle’s former NBA team, the Sonics, left for Oklahoma City in 2008.

With the MOU signed, the deal between OVG and the city moves to the next phases, lease agreements, entitlement issues and permitting. Signing of the MOU does not guarantee OVG the right to start construction yet; among other necessary steps are completion of an environmental impact statement, community benefits agreement, and an agreement to integrate with other organizations housed at Seattle Center.

Still, “the city council vote was quite significant,” said Joe Mirabella, director of communications, Seattle office of economic development. “This clears the way for the KeyArena/Oak View Group deal to proceed.”

Mirabella said that with this hurdle overcome, the most likely outcome is the completion of the arena. “There’s very little in the way now that would derail the venue being built,” he said. “The next steps are mostly filling in the blanks and a lot of paperwork and filings like settling a lease agreement, going through the entitlement process, and putting all the permits in place.”

Mirabella believes this will take anywhere from six to eight months to accomplish. “Barring a 9.5 earthquake or one of the other worst-case-scenario stipulations in the MOU, the path from here is not perilous and we fully expect OVG will break ground in October 2018 and the new KeyArena will open its doors in Fall 2020.”

“On behalf of OVG, we want to thank the Seattle City Council, City staff, and City consultants and representatives for the cumulative work that signifies a monumental moment with today’s 7-1 vote,” said Leiweke in a statement. “We feel extremely good about the partnership between the City of Seattle and OVG and respect and applaud the City in its ability to be thoughtful, collaborative, and deal-focused throughout this process while maintaining the best interest of its citizens.

“The process over the last year serves as an example of the transparent public/private collaboration that has led to a great outcome that other municipalities will emulate,” he said. “We have enjoyed getting to know our neighbors in Seattle Center, Uptown, South Lake Union, Belltown and Queen Anne. We look forward to continuing our work with the community over the next year as we complete our long form agreements and full entitlement.  We will continue to be good partners and good neighbors and look forward to a collaborative and beneficial ongoing relationship will all community stakeholders.”

Mirabella said the deal was “great for the city of Seattle. Since the money to rebuild the arena is private money, with provisions for the city to revenue-share, it’s a win/win. The city gets to keep its promise that we are not moving backward and the renovated arena will surely have a huge, positive economic impact on the entire city.”

Under the agreement, Oak View Group will lease the arena from the city for 39 years. Further extensions are in place if OVG can land a NHL or NBA team, both of which are likely given OVG’s deep ties to the sporting world. OVG bringing more capital to the project will also kick in extensions.

Part of the MOU will see OVG contribute $40 million over its 39-year lease to a transportation fund to alleviate traffic congestion in the area, a pledge to retain some of the current staff, and construction of a skatepark.

In other Seattle venue news, Seattle Opera has unveiled plans for a $60-million facility to replace Mercer Arena, which was demolished last February.

The new building, which will be named the Seattle Opera at the Center, is expected to be four stories tall and house 105,000 sq.-ft. of space for offices, storage, scene assembly and community spaces.

MercerArena1_web.jpg

A rendering of the new four-story  Seattle Opera at the Center. building.

One of the goals of the project is to create "a signature building that unlocks opera for all," said Seattle Opera General Director Aiden Lang. “Education and engagement are at the heart of Seattle Opera's mission.”

The opera is using about $14 million in public grants for the project with the rest of the money coming from private donations.

NBBJ is the architect on the project, Lease Crutcher Lewis is the general contractor and Shiels Obletz Johnsen is the project manager. Construction began in January 2017 and Seattle Opera at the Center is expected to move into their new home in 2019.


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Predators Take Back Ticketing
 
Posted: 6 Dec 2017, 1:05 pm

Nashville Predators put plan in place to control secondary market through mobile ticketing.

The word disheartening doesn’t quite do justice to the feeling players and staff of the Nashville Predators of the National Hockey League (NHL) felt when 9,000 fans of the opposing team descended upon Bridgestone Arena, Nashville, Tenn., for games in the 17,000-seat venue.

The Predators decided to do something about it.

“We were losing our home-ice advantage,” said Nat Harden, the team’s senior VP of ticket sales. “If we sell season-ticket packages to fans, we can maintain the home-ice advantage. We made a concerted effort not to resell to ticket brokers.”

Harden said that about four years ago the team saw the issues of ticket brokers buying up season tickets and reselling them to opposing fans. With Nashville a destination city, and the team’s venue located on Broadway, fans of teams other than Nashville were flocking to the arena and filling over half of it. “If you have a lot of tickets on the secondary market, it opens up the ability for opposing team fans,” Harden said. So, in 2015 the Predators formulated a plan and have moved from having one of the highest number of tickets available on the secondary market to next to last in the 31-team league. A more aggressive approach in 2017 has finished off a plan that now has Nashville with an average of 146 ticket listings per game, 64 percent below the NHL average.

The plan to remove ticket brokers from the Predators started with selling season tickets only to those the team knew. With 13,500—about 80 percent—of the building sold in a full-season equivalent, this first step made a difference, Harden said. Sales staff must gain manager approval before selling more than four season tickets to a single party and if someone from out of the area requests season tickets, the team researches who they are. “We want to make sure we are selling to people coming to the games,” Harden said.

Harden said it wasn’t easy for the team to come out to a building over half full of opposing team fans and it really devalued the brand to their own season-ticket holders. Having actual fans buying tickets eliminates brokers, allows the team to manage the price of tickets on the secondary market and helps the team control every single game.

The team also shifted from hard and paper tickets to season-ticket ID cards, helping reduce the deluge of tickets floating about without any way to track them. It also helped the team identify ticket brokers and remove them. But the final piece of the strategy came to play this season, as the team shifted to a fully mobile ticketing platform.

Going fully mobile allows the team to control how tickets get managed, such as not sending barcodes until 48 hours before the event and taking the resale button off the ticket for certain games (fans always have the option on those days to sell back the ticket or exchange it for a future game). “The fan base understands what we are trying to do and why we are doing it,” Harden said. “To build a home-ice advantage we had to build an atmosphere of 95-percent Predator fans.”

Moving fully mobile gives the team a more robust wealth of information about fans, as all fans must download the team app and input information in order to use tickets. Already this season the Predators database of fans has grown by over 20 percent. “They were probably going to our games in the past, but we didn’t know,” he said. The mobile strategy has also eliminated the need for long will-call lines and sped up entry into the venue.

“We have made huge strides,” Harden said. “Going in you hope that it works and you have a plan to be where we are at right now. I am really, really proud of where we are. We put together a plan to control the secondary market and to implement it to where we are now. We are very excited.”
 


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Houston Venues Recover From Hurricane Harvey
 
Posted: 6 Dec 2017, 1:00 pm

Wortham Theatre Center, Houston, will repoen Sept. 1, 2018.

Wortham Theater Center, Houston,  has announced plans to reopen Sept. 1, 2018, only days after the one-year anniversary of when Hurricane Harvey made landfall in Texas and caused widespread flooding that led to extensive water-related damages to the performing arts center.

The Wortham Center, which was built in 1987 in downtown Houston’s Theater District, has been closed since Harvey struck. The venue holds two theaters and serves as the home for both the Houston Grand Opera and the Houston Ballet. The city of Houston owns the facility, and the Houston First Corporation operates it.

Peter McStravick, chief development officer for Houston First, said the venue’s importance to the area makes its recovery a top priority.

“The Wortham Center really is one of the cultural gems of the region and it’s very important to get it back up to speed,” McStravick said. “It’s taking lots of hours and lots of smart, dedicated and talented people to work on this, but Houston First is honored and committed to be a part of this work.”

The Wortham Center’s challenges are the result of flooding that saw 12 feet of water gather in the venue’s basement area. The basement contained all of the facility’s life safety systems and almost 30 percent of the air handling units. In addition, during the process of identifying the extent of the damage, workers found floodwater had permeated wall cavities in the basement and contaminated insulation. Structural steel columns in the basement also were compromised and insulation located inside the columns were contaminated. Finally, the majority of the electrical conduits located in the basement were damaged and will require replacement.

McStravick said the process of surveying and accounting for the damage the floodwaters caused has been a time-consuming one, complicated by the limited space in the basement that prevents a large group of workers from tackling the project simultaneously. Houston First previously had announced a best-case opening date of May 2018. As the scope of the damage became more clear, however, the organization pushed it back to September.

The Wortham Center largely escaped major repair needs to its performance areas. However, the flooding caused extensive damage to the Houston Grand Opera’s costume shop and wig and makeup departments, resulting in the loss of the majority of its wig stock and most of its footwear and millinery, said Perryn Leech, managing director of the Houston Grand Opera. In addition, Leech said, the company lost two vehicles. He estimated the opera’s total financial losses at approximately $6.6 million.

Both the Houston Grand Opera and the Houston Ballet were able to find alternative, temporary venues. The ballet is performing primarily at the Smart Financial Centre at Sugar Land, a concert hall outside of Houston, and the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts, McStravick said. The opera was unable to find a venue that could both meet its technical needs and be available for the extended time it needed. Instead, the company built a temporary theater in an exhibit hall at the George R. Brown Convention Center, which Houston First also operates.

Leech said the opera was “thrilled” to find the temporary space in such difficult circumstances.

“We have been fortunate to relocate almost all of our season to this hall, which we have named HGO Resilience Theater, without changing or losing any performances,” Leech said. “We are still waiting to hear about the spring productions, but are hoping that we can stay in the GRB through that period.”  

McStravick said the Wortham Center was the large venue in Houston hit hardest by Harvey. Other large venues took some damages but were able to reopen. For instance, the Alley Theatre, an indoor theater located downtown, reopened Nov. 24. Jones Hall for the Performing Arts, which Houston First also operates, had water in its basement but was back to hosting performances in October. In addition, Houston First reopened the Theater District underground parking garages on Nov. 23 — floodwaters had filled the garage’s three levels with more than 270 million gallons of water.

Carolyn Campbell, director of communications for Houston First, said strong philanthropic and community support for the Wortham Center and the Houston arts community at large has provided a boost. Among other ongoing efforts, individuals and organizations have contributed to a recovery fund designated for arts programs in the area.

“I’ve just never seen the kind of cooperation and cohesiveness that I’ve seen after Harvey,” Campbell said. “It’s been an attitude of as one group goes, so goes the entire Theater District. It’s required everyone to work together and be exceptionally patient, and they’ve done that to help each other out.”

Leech said the opera has benefited from that type of community-mindedness through its travails.

“We have had tremendous support from our neighbors and colleagues in the cultural community,” Leech said. “The Hobby Center volunteered to host our computer servers and customer care team, and we were able to use rehearsal space in Bayou Place, Opera in the Heights, St. Mark’s Church, and Rice University’s Shepherd School, among others. Recently, one of our board members has given us the use of a building he owns that was formerly a YWCA. This is tremendously helpful for rehearsals and coachings.”

McStravick said it is too early to provide an estimate for the total cost of the recovery effort at the Wortham Center. The work will include identifying how floodwater created so much havoc and pursuing mitigation improvements that could help prevent a repeat of the event. McStravick said Houston First will consider whether it can make any improvements identified in its 2015 master plan while it is unable to stage performances, but he said the organization will not risk any nonessential projects that could delay the opening beyond Sept. 1.

“We don’t want to be sidelined by improvements that could take place afterward,” he said. “This work is about getting the opera and the ballet back in that building as fast as possible so that things are back to normal again.”

 


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Goldstar’s Boost Increases Awareness
 
Posted: 5 Dec 2017, 8:05 pm

Goldstar's Boost allows event organizers to buy prominent placement in e-blasts.

According to Jim McCarthy, founder and CEO, Goldstar, the number one challenge for the live entertainment industry is awareness. “Marketing is more fragmented than ever, making it harder and harder to get the word out,” said McCarthy. “People can’t buy tickets to something they don’t know is happening.”

McCarthy said that Goldstar’s data suggests that 80 percent of ticket buyers were unaware of the event they eventually purchased a ticket for on the discount ticket-buying platform.

Goldstar’s events are listed organically, based on an algorithm that uses previous purchase data. The service sends out emails on a daily, weekly or monthly basis depending on the preference of the customer. In that email, 15 events that are in proximity of the receiver are displayed.

“In big markets there are hundreds of shows that are geographically close,” said McCarthy. “The top 15  are determined by the algorithm which uses how long an event has been listed, user likes and dislikes and other factors to pick the 15 events listed on the e-blast.”

Goldstar’s new Boost product allows a client to “buy a better position in that list,” explained McCarthy. “We only boost a listing that’s already on your list. If your event is 18-down and you want to get into the 15 events we list in an email, Boost allows you to move your event up.”

It works like this: A client self-automates a boost by going onto the Goldstar platform and creating a campaign in the client portal. The supplier picks the number of emails they want to have their event boosted in, where geographically the boosts should be placed and how long they want the campaign to last. It costs $5 dollars per 1,000 boosts.

McCarthy said that boosting, much like an event organizer can do on Facebook, provides many benefits. “Event operators get prominent placement in our emails and get sent to likely buyers,” he said. “They can also target Goldstar members in additional markets, outside of the venue’s city, to suit long-term plans and tours.”

Center Theatre Group, Los Angeles, used the service to create awareness for their production of “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.”

dog.jpgGoldstar's Boost product increased awareness and sales for L.A.'s Ahmanson Theatre production of "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time."

“Our goal was to further increase awareness of the show which was in the middle of a successful run,” said Arie Levine, senior marketing manager, Center Theatre Group. “We wanted to finish the run on a high note and thought we’d try out Boost as a way to get there.”

“We determined a budget internally and picked how many days we wanted to run the boost. Setting up the boost was super easy,” she said. “Results were impressive. We saw sales go up dramatically the first day we did it and they continued to go up everyday we ran the boost.”

Goldstar also shared data with Levine. “We were featured in 302,291 emails; pageviews increased 45 percent during the boost and unique visits increased 31 percent.”

“At the end of the day, we sold more tickets compared to days without the boost,” she said. Center Theatre Group was so impressed with the results from their first boosting experience that used the system for their next four shows.

“We've definitely see it be a positive return on investment,” she said. “It’s a valuable tool.”

The Boost product was rolled out in August. McCarthy said that while Boost is still relatively new, “the revenue generated from the product is substantial already” and he expects that given time to create awareness of the product, and after proving the results to suppliers, he expects the revenue to be “a significant part of our future business.”

Goldstar has 5,000 venue partners. Their headquarters is in Pasadena, Calif., and the
15-year-old ticket discounter has about 100 employees.


 


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Caesars To Open New Vegas Convention Center
 
Posted: 5 Dec 2017, 6:25 pm

Caesars Forum, a new $375 million convention center, will open in 2020.

Caesars Entertainment (Caesars) has committed to building a new major player in the Las Vegas convention scene. The $375-million facility will feature 300,000 sq. ft. of meeting space and be adjacent to Harrah’s Hotel & Casino and The Linq Hotel & Casino and will be called Caesars Forum.

“We know that we want more meetings business in town,” said Michael Massari, chief sales officer, Caesars Entertainment. “It’s a great customer for us; business travelers really contribute to our success as a company.”

Massari cited Harrah’s, The Linq and Flamingo Hotel, all owned by Caesars, all which currently have a limited amount of meeting space, as the impetus for the new convention center. “We wanted to build meeting space that those properties could enjoy the benefits from,” he said.

The 1.8-acre property owned by Caesars, is currently a parking lot and next to the decked-out High Roller Ferris wheel, also owned by the company. Even though Caesars owns the real estate, the deal is structured in a sell-and-lease-back construct where Caesars will sell the property to VICI Properties and lease it back.

Caesars will get a cash infusion of $1.14 billion from the sale, which will also include Caesars acquiring two properties — Hoosier Park Racing and Casino, Anderson, Ind.,  and Indiana Grand Racing and Casino, Shelbyville — and adding them to its portfolio.

“We expect the sale and leaseback will allow us to acquire and develop the convention center without increasing leverage,” said Caesars President and CEO Mark Frissora in a statement. “The acquisition of the adjacent land to Harrah’s and development of the convention center allows us to develop another important destination right in the middle of our center-Strip-footprint.”

The space will include “the two largest ballrooms ever built,” said Massari. The pillarless ballrooms will each be 108,000-sq.-ft. and will be outfitted with high-end carpeting, chandeliers and wall sconces. “The ballrooms will be massive and large enough to hold almost any event such as general sessions, breakouts, meal functions and exhibit space.” Two junior ballrooms will be 40,000 sq.-ft. each and several boardrooms will also be built. The outside plaza will be 100,000 sq. ft.

Construction will start at the end of the first quarter of 2018 and Ceasars Forum is slated to open in 2020. “We’re already taking reservations,” said Massari. Friedmutter Group and PENTA Building Group have been selected as the architect and general contractor, respectively. The building will cost $375 million and Massari said they are hoping to attract “meetings of all size. The objective was to build something large and flexible.”

The meeting space is being designed to gather 1,000-6,000 at a time, but Massari envisions meetings of thousands, hundreds or even 10 or 20 attendees. Concessions will be  run in-house by Caesars.

Reina Herschdorfer, director of marketing, meetings and events, Caesars, said that the company is “excited about getting into the convention center space.” She echoed Massari’s sentiments that the new space will be “for every size event” and expects the business to be split 50/50 between large and small events. “We have some customers that have outgrown our current meeting space and we really wanted to offer them a space.”

The latest technology will be a big part of the new venue, according to Herschdorfer. “We’ll have free WiFi, charging stations and everything the modern convention-goer expects.”

The project is expected to generate nearly 1,000 local construction-phase jobs and over 450 permanent jobs once completed.

 


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Hot Tickets for December 6, 2017
 
Posted: 5 Dec 2017, 2:35 pm

Stevie Nicks performed her 24 Karat Gold tour at Frank Erwin Center, Austin, Texas. (Photo Credit: Gary Miller)

Stevie Nicks’ 24 Karat Gold Tour made its way to Sydney’s International Convention Centre for two near-capacity shows, Nov. 7-8, grossing a total of $1.2 million. With the Pretenders as the opening act, the nearly 12,000 fans in attendance were treated to a no-nonsense, hit-filled opening set. Once Nicks hit the stage, she informed the crowd that it would be an evening of stories and Rock and Roll; she then reflected on the recent passing of her long-time collaborator and good friend Tom Petty sharing stories of their time together throughout her two-and-a-half hour set. The Pretenders and Nicks will be at KeyArena, Seattle, Dec. 11.

The Trans-Siberian Orchestra kicked off the holiday season with two sold-out shows at the Mohegun Sun Arena, Uncasville, Conn., Nov. 26, wowing the crowds with pyrotechnics, giant video screens, lasers, faux falling snow and dazzling Christmas music. Both shows grossed a combined $771,000 with over 14,000 fans in attendance. The rock orchestra tells a story with their music titled The Ghosts of Christmas Eve; they use rock music as their inspiration while adding in elements of classical music and heavy metal. The visually stunning live event will be at the Jacksonville (Fla.) Veterans Memorial Arena Dec. 14.
 

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

15,001 or More Seats

10,001-15,000 Seats

5,001-10,000 Seats

5,000 or Fewer Seats

1) Cirque du Soliel - Septimo Dia
Gross Sales: $2,153,966; Venue: Arena Monterrey (Mexico); Attendance: 62,278; Ticket Range: $117.37-$26.08; Promoter: Zignia Live; Dates: Oct. 19-Nov. 29; No. of Shows: 12

2) Gloria Trevi vs Alejandra Guzman
Gross Sales: $1,982,086; Venue: Arena Monterrey (Mexico); Attendance: 42,000; Ticket Range: $241.78-$10.75; Promoter: Zignia Live; Dates: Nov. 23-25; No. of Shows: 3

3) Lady GaGa
Gross Sales: $1,615,820; Venue: Philips Arena, Atlanta; Attendance: 11,958; Ticket Range: $230-$50; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Nov. 28; No. of Shows: 1

4) Dead & Company
Gross Sales: $1,479,555; Venue: Frank Erwin Center, Austin, Texas; Attendance: 11,700; Ticket Range: $150-$50; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Dec. 2; No. of Shows: 1

5) Foo Fighters
Gross Sales: $1,286,716; Venue: Wells Fargo Arena, Des Moines, Iowa; Attendance: 13,958; Ticket Range: $101.50-$51.50; Promoter: Jam Productions; Dates: Nov. 10; No. of Shows: 1

1) Die Toten Hosen
Gross Sales: $1,596,440; Venue: Hallenstadion, Zurich; Attendance: 26,000; Ticket Range: $76; Promoter: Good News Productions; Dates: Nov. 10; No. of Shows: 1

2) Guns N’ Roses
Gross Sales: $1,157,405; Venue: Valley View Casino Center, San Diego; Attendance: 6,887; Ticket Range: $254-$73; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Nov. 28; No. of Shows: 1

3) James Blunt
Gross Sales: $767,285; Venue: Hallenstadion, Zurich; Attendance: 10,806; Ticket Range: $85-$75; Promoter: abc Production ; Dates: Nov. 9; No. of Shows: 1

4) The Wiggles Wiggly Christmas Big Show
Gross Sales: $731,543; Venue: Perth (Australia) Arena; Attendance: 29,433; Ticket Range: $30.77-$27.71; Promoter: The Wiggles Live; Dates: Nov. 18-19; No. of Shows: 5

5) Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
Gross Sales: $551,449; Venue: Hallenstadion, Zurich; Attendance: 6,801; Ticket Range: $99-$79; Promoter: Opus One; Dates: Nov. 12; No. of Shows: 1

1) Backstreet Boys
Gross Sales: $1,454,946; Venue: The Axis at Planet Hollywood, Las Vegas; Attendance: 9,611; Ticket Range: $294-$34; Promoter: Caesars Entertainment, Live Nation; Dates: Nov. 8-11; No. of Shows: 3

2) Backstreet Boys
Gross Sales: $1,293,128; Venue: The Axis at Planet Hollywood, Las Vegas; Attendance: 9,200; Ticket Range: $294-$34; Promoter: Caesars Entertainment, Live Nation; Dates: Nov. 15-18; No. of Shows: 3

3) Stevie Nicks
Gross Sales: $1,184,867; Venue: ICC Sydney Theatre; Attendance: 11,832; Ticket Range: $154.80-$77.36; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Nov. 7-8; No. of Shows: 2

4) Trans-Siberian Orchestra
Gross Sales: $771,309; Venue: Mohegan Sun Arena, Uncasville, Conn.; Attendance: 14,405; Ticket Range: $64-$44; Promoter: CAA, In-house; Dates: Nov. 26; No. of Shows: 2

5) H-town West Fest
Gross Sales: $538,824; Venue: Smart Financial Centre, Sugar Land, Texas; Attendance: 6,202; Ticket Range: $129.50-$34.50; Promoter: Live Nation, In-house; Dates: Nov. 18; No. of Shows: 1

1) Celine Dion
Gross Sales: $7,504,573; Venue: The Colosseum at Caesars Palace, Las Vegas; Attendance: 45,304; Ticket Range: $500-$55; Promoter: AEG Presents, Caesars Entertainment; Dates: Nov. 7-25; No. of Shows: 11

2) Les Miserables
Gross Sales: $1,139,081; Venue: DeVos Performance Hall, Grand Rapids, Mich.; Attendance: 18,080; Ticket Range: $96-$26.60; Promoter: Broadway Grand Rapids; Dates: Nov. 21-26; No. of Shows: 8

3) Love Never Dies
Gross Sales: $962,497; Venue: Broward Center for the Performing Arts, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; Attendance: 12,150; Ticket Range: $90.25-$35.25; Promoter: In-house, Broadway Across America; Dates: Nov. 14-19; No. of Shows: 8

4) Harry Connick Jr.
Gross Sales: $931,848; Venue: Encore Theater at Wynn, Las Vegas; Attendance: 5,222; Ticket Range: $300-$59.50; Promoter: AEG Presents, In-house; Dates: Nov. 17-Dec. 2; No. of Shows: 4

5) LCD Soundsystem
Gross Sales: $647,613; Venue: Aragon Ballroom, Chicago; Attendance: 13,779; Ticket Range: $47; Promoter: Jam Productions; Dates: Nov. 6-8; No. of Shows: 3

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

 


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From Zenner's To Tillamook, Local Sells
 
Posted: 1 Dec 2017, 3:50 pm

REPORTING FROM PORTLAND, ORE. — Walking the concourses in Portland’s Moda Center or Providence Park shouldn’t bring fans away from the eclectic vibe of Portland, Ore. It should bring fans closer to it, which is why both venues have embraced Portland in all its weirdness and pushed an ultra¬local, intensely Portland feel inside the venues’ food and beverage scene. And they’ve had success because of it.

The most dramatic change comes at Moda Center, the 22-year¬old home of the National Basketball Association’s Trail Blazers. When Levy Restaurants took over the concessions for the building in 2013, they revamped the tired corporate feel of the food and beverage service, bringing in local favorites—Moda Center now has nine popular Portland¬area eateries inside the venue—and turning the concourse into a Portland¬esque feel.

“What we are trying to say is we are Portland,” Jessica Helms, Levy’s executive chef at Moda Center, told Venues Today. “We are who we are. Portland is weird and we like it that way. It is special and unique.”

Providence Park's food and beverage supplier, Centerplate, took on a similar challenge, but had a different approach. The historic 1926 downtown stadium underwent a remodel in time for the 2011 Major League Soccer season, the first for the Portland Timbers. The club, moving up from a smaller league, brought with it an intensely loyal fan base that demand¬ed inclusion. That inclusion stretched to con-cessions, where the Timbers have partnered with local purveyors to fill the stadium with recognizable Portland brands and even embraced the city’s popular food cart scene. In an agreement with the Food Cart Alliance, the Timbers have fans vote to help them choose which Portland food carts to invite into the stadium in a special location, rotating between a handful of popular shops throughout the season.

The Portland feel for the Moda Center starts outside the 19,000¬capacity arena at Dr. Jack’s, a pub within the Rose Quarter campus operated by Levy, but without the constraints of in¬arena sponsorship. Open three hours before tip¬off, the restaurant remains 100 per¬cent event¬based, tied to both the Moda Center and adjacent Veterans Memorial Coliseum, also operated by Levy. Inside Jack’s, the beer on tap doesn’t have to follow the sponsors inside the venue, allowing for an ever-revolving mixture of seasonal and trendy craft choices.

Inside Moda, Charles Jones, Levy’s vice president of hospitality strategy in Portland, told Venues Today the concourse transforma¬tion had one goal: represent the city. Levy went into the community to find the best providers of burgers, pizzas, sandwiches and more, bringing in the likes of Killer Burger, Sizzle Pie, Salt & Straw ice cream, Bunk Sandwiches, Ruby Jewel and Daddy D’s BBQ.

Helms said having a mix of Levy-operat¬ed spots and community¬run locales actually helps her operate at a more efficient level. And by partnering with the local purveyors on a revenue-sharing deal, Levy doesn’t lose out on the popularity.

But it wasn’t that Levy just wanted the locals to have all the Portland fun. It wanted in on the action, too. Helms partnered with Zenner’s, located in downtown Portland, to furnish all the hot dogs. She also worked with a local meat provider to develop a custom grind for Moda Center for all hamburgers sold out of the Levy¬run Crafters concessions on multiple levels. She went back¬and¬forth before finding the perfect mix.

“Everywhere you turn in the stadium it is a chance to CELEBRATE and taste the amazing food and beverage scene happening in Portland.” — MIKE GOLUB

“We are not buying mass¬produced stuff,” Jones said. “Portland embraced us right away and the partners love being here.”

Michael Lewellen, Trail Blazers vice president of communications and public engagement, told Venues Today they fully backed the effort, so much so they underwent a $13¬million upgrade to Moda Center that included bringing cooking gas into the conces¬sion areas as part of an arena overhaul. And he hears all the time how fans enjoy the experi¬ence of a local restaurant inside the venue.

The Trail Blazers don’t release per cap figures, but Jones said that the change in con¬cession strategy saw a marked increase in rev¬enue, even though buying locally was rarely cheaper. That same spend¬more, make¬more mindset pushed Levy to increase wages for its concession workers. With the robust Portland job market and unstable hours of an arena food worker, Jones said they were spending exorbi¬tantly on temps, losing time training them along the way. And Helms worried about quality with such high turnover. Between the 2015¬16 season and the 2016¬17 season, Levy raised average hourly wages by eight percent for positions and 15.4 percent for cashiers. During that same time, Levy jumped nearly 11 percent in per caps for NBA games while reducing its variable labor cost, as a percentage of sales, by
12.5 percent.

With the strategy locked down, it became all about the experience. The main concourse features the 10 Barrel Taproom, bringing a popular Portland pub into to Moda Center. With 15 rotat¬ing items on the menu, but always with signatures such as the steak nachos on housemade potato chips, the same served in the pub. Not far away sits the Adelsheim¬run Local Cork for those interested in local wines.

The 100 level contains the most diverse mix of concessions, from the famed PB Pickled Bacon Burger from Killer Burger to Levy’s Fowl Language hand¬dipped chicken tenders and
loaded fries to hand¬torched s’mores via Nineteen27 to Plum Tasty, a partnership between the arena and its naming sponsor, Moda Health, to ensure healthy options per¬meate the venue, all housemade choices for vegans, vegetarians or healthy seekers. “We see their doctors in here all the time and it was a very exciting collaboration for me,” Helms said. “It is a great opportunity.”
The 100 level doesn’t stop there, with Levy’s Hook/Line, an all¬local oyster bar in the middle of the arena (plus, the Dynamite Shrimp Banh Mi offers up a top-notch Portland favorite and one of the best items in the venue).

The 300 level doesn’t lose out either, with The Pines bar enjoying a vista over the city, special Zenner’s sausages only available on the 300 level and a housemade pretzel only found upstairs. The kid zone includes root beer on tap.

For premium seating, which makes up about 40 percent of the concessions when suites, clubs (at 15 percent), catering and VIP events all add in, Levy includes a few extras too, all designed to give local, housemade diversity in an ever¬evolving menu that keeps the menu fresh.
From 10 Barrel to 300¬level concessions, Moda Center serves up four craft beers and one craft cider, with local crafts accounting for 70 percent of all arena beer sales.

Experiencing the food and beverage scene of Portland well before joining Major League Soccer (MLS) allowed the Timbers to launch a brand steeped in community, Mike Golub, Timbers president of business, told Venues Today. “We need to be truly authentic of the people and by the people of Portland,” he said. “That has always been our credo.”

“Everywhere you turn in the stadium it is a chance to celebrate and taste the amazing food and beverage scene happening in Portland,” he said. “It feels like Portland. You would know very quickly that this is Portland.”

The first food partnership for the Timbers came with Tillamook, serving up everything from grilled cheese sandwiches to ice cream and yogurt.
Ben Forsythe, Centerplate’s general man-ager of food and beverage, leverages that part¬nership into something fun with a specialty quesadilla of every match. Sometimes he mixes in special loaded tots, too. He’s served up everything from a Pho Rito’dilla with his spin on pho inside a quesadilla to loaded tots packed with Tillamook, Zenner’s bacon and more.
That Tillamook partnership extends to yogurt for fruit dips in premium areas or the cheddar for loaded tots, not even counting the cheeseburgers and grilled cheese. “It allows us to do anything and add some local flavor,” Forsythe said.

The Timbers also partnered with Bunk Sandwiches, Garden Bar, Zenner’s (located less than half a mile from the stadium), 2 Towns Ciderhouse, Eatin’ Alive and plenty others. “We keep it fresh and we keep it revolving,” Golub said. “Portlanders have a refined palate and crafts accounting for 70 percent of all arena beer sales.

PROVIDENCE PARK
Experiencing the food and beverage scene of Portland well before joining Major League Soccer (MLS) allowed the Timbers to launch a brand steeped in community, Mike Golub, Timbers president of business, told Venues Today. “We need to be truly authentic of the people and by the people of Portland,” he said. “That has always been our credo.”
“Everywhere you turn in the stadium it is a chance to celebrate and taste the amazing food and beverage scene happening in Portland,” he said. “It feels like Portland. You would know very quickly that this is Portland.”
The first food partnership for the Timbers came with Tillamook, serving up everything from grilled cheese sandwiches to ice cream and yogurt.
Ben Forsythe, Centerplate’s general man-ager of food and beverage, leverages that part¬nership into something fun with a specialty quesadilla of every match. Sometimes he mixes in special loaded tots, too. He’s served up everything from a Pho Rito’dilla with his spin on pho inside a quesadilla to loaded tots packed with Tillamook, Zenner’s bacon and more.
That Tillamook partnership extends to yogurt for fruit dips in premium areas or the cheddar for loaded tots, not even counting the cheeseburgers and grilled cheese. “It allows us to do anything and add some local flavor,” Forsythe said.

The Timbers also partnered with Bunk Sandwiches, Garden Bar, Zenner’s (located less than half a mile from the stadium), 2 Towns Ciderhouse, Eatin’ Alive and plenty others. “We keep it fresh and we keep it revolving,” Golub said. “Portlanders have a refined palate and discriminating taste. More than anything they have this really palatable affinity for all things local. It is a big reason why sports teams like the Blazers and us have gotten the support we have. That huge civic pride and identity extends to the food and bev¬erage experience.”

That buy¬in goes both ways, as Golub said when fans don’t feel the Timbers have the right beers on tap, they let them know, setting a high bar.
With every Timbers home game ever played a sell¬out in the 21,000¬cpacity venue and 13,000 more on the season-ticket waiting list looking forward to a 4,000¬seat expansion set to open in 2019, the Timbers get a lot of repeat season-ticket holders. “It means we have to keep delivering and surprising and introducing new things,” Golub said. “People are coming repeatedly.”
The Food Cart Alliance literally brings Alder Street flavor and drops it in the stadium, an experience Forsythe hopes to expand in the future. In the meantime, Centerplate aims to replicate that atmosphere throughout the con¬course, whether fun with Tillamook¬topped tots or the variety of offerings that mimic what you’d find on the streets of Portland in four Centerplate¬run carts on the east side.
In a constant effort to keep things fresh and bring in as many local establishments as possible, sometimes restaurants make a one¬time showing. Recently, the amazingly popu¬lar Pine State Biscuits offered its biscuits to Providence Park, where Forsythe created his take on the popular Reggie Deluxe from the restaurant, using Tillamook cheese and fried chicken. “Fans loved them,” he said.

Forsythe said the fans of the Timbers expect Portland quality and experiences every time, helping push him to create. And the Timbers support him, he said, giving him free¬dom to do so. With the historic stadium’s seat¬ing arrangement meaning only 15 percent of overall take gets generated from premium, food and beverage remains driven by the main concourse. That doesn’t mean the premium doesn’t get a little extra touch, though, such as the food cart they order from just outside the venue and bring into suites or club buffets that includes live shucking of oysters.

In keeping with a Portland trend, craft beer outsells domestic four to one inside Providence Park and every stand features at least half craft offerings, not even counting the craft beer bar with 45 rotating taps.

Throughout the experiences in Portland’s two major sports venues, the goal remains the same: Retain the essence of Portland, especially at the concourse level. “This is not,” Helms said, “arena food.”
 


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Taking Risk Vs. Chasing Fees
 
Posted: 1 Dec 2017, 3:00 pm

"Our foundation will be bricks and mortar,” said Peter Luukko, president of Oak View Group’s Arena Alliance and now helming the [possibly] newest OVG division, OVG Facilities, with Tim Leiweke, founder and chairman, OVG.

The two have a long history in private management of venues, Luukko through years with SMG and Comcast¬Spectacor, where he formed Global Spectrum, which is now Spectra, and Lieweke through establishing AEG Facilities. Both in prior and current lives have managed venues as well.

That’s the key to this new venture, which officially launched with purchase of Pinnacle Venue Services in October of this year, bring-ing more veterans of private management, Tom Paquette and Doug Higgons, into the OVG Facilities fold.

That launch and OVG Facilities’ pledge to positively disrupt the sports and entertainment industry with new thinking based on broad experi¬ence secured the Venues Today Hall of Headlines Award for News for Luukko and Leiweke.

In some ways, this is “the more things change, the more they stay the same,” but Luukko points out that OVG Facilities is “a dif-ferent platform. When we started Global Spectrum, we were doing it out of the arena, First Union Center at the time [now Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia], and we had the platform of the National Hockey League (NHL) team and National Basketball League (NBA) team. We were going to add accounts and really look¬ing to get into primarily the fee business.”

Chasing the fee business is pretty much 99 percent of municipal bidding, Luukko added, “and that was really our niche. The difference here is that we’re well capitalized by our founders, Tim, Irving [Azoff} and MSG [Madison Square Garden], and we will not only be bidding on the fee business but our foundation will be around bricks and mortar,” Luukko said.
Luukko and Leiweke are working hard on two brick and mortar projects that will anchor that foundation, the rebuild of KeyArena, Seattle, which OVG has been awarded, and construction of a new Islanders arena in Belmont Park, New York, which OVG will manage for the group which won the bid to build it this month.
Even in the fee business, they will be cre¬ative, willing to take risk and up the ante, Leiweke said, lauding OVG’s luck at having Luukko leading the charge with his experience and knowledge, along with the fact Leiweke personally has been in venue management more than 30 years. The combination, along with purchase of Pinnacle, gives OVG Facilities “instant infrastructure.” Now they’ve added veteran venue manager Steve Mattson in the Northwest, based in Seattle.
The goal? “To make OVG Facilities the biggest venue management company in the world, and I welcome the challenge,” Leiweke said. Two¬year¬old OVG has been on a growth spree second to none and includes, full disclo¬sure, purchase of Venues Today and Pollstar.

Leiweke said the strategy is “resources and relationships” and OVG is “100 percent committed. Yes, we will invest money. Yes, we will bid on projects, some of which are under¬utilized. We like taking risk and sharing the upside. That’s our model.”

OVG Facilities will bid on The Greek, Los Angeles, for instance, Leiweke said. It will be in the mix when contracts go out to bid and Leiweke guaranteed that OVG Facilities will “grow quickly.”

Luukko concurred wholeheartedly. In some bids, the approach will be “we have an alternative. We can guarantee your bottom line and/or put capital into your business. We will look to step up and make those financial guarantees,” Luukko said, though he declined to name examples yet.
Published reports have them working on a potential booking deal with Rupp Arena, Lexington, Ky.; and a rebuild of the Norfolk (Va.) Scope, which is in pricing mode.

“The key I’ve learned over the years is you have to be a good listener and tailor your deals to the needs of the client. The key is to be flex¬ible,” Luukko said. “This is strictly manage¬ment, you don’t need capital? Fine, we’ll be a manager. If you’re looking for $10 million to put into the building, we can propose some¬thing long-term for capital needs.

“Tim is the greatest I’ve ever seen at see¬ing more opportunity than maybe others do. That’s the positive disruption,” Luukko said.

OVG Facilities also benefits from every¬thing OVG, which is a many-faceted company already, including security and sponsorship divisions. “We have the capital, but also the cre¬ativity and obviously the music angle,” Luukko said. “We have Irving Azoff as an owner. And then, on our professional sports side, even though we don’t own a team, obviously Tim, myself and others have great relationships in all the leagues, so I think we have that covered.”

Higgons has seen that dynamic phenome¬non that is becoming OVG Facilities firsthand since he sold his company and says selling to OVG Facilities is “great. Being part of an organization with Tim and Peter opens doors to opportunities we just didn’t have. We’ve only been part of the organization for two months and there are a lot of irons in the fire.”

Luukko is one of Higgons’ mentors and Higgons says Luukko’s leadership skills are exemplary. “There really isn’t a challenge he hasn’t seen at some point.” Leiweke “brings passion and optimism and vision to the mix,” Higgons added, noting, “we’re getting the band back together in some ways.”

Luukko loves that most of the people in OVG Facilities started from the bottom and worked their way up. They’ve learned from mistakes and know all the ingredients needed to bake a successful deal. People make great companies, Luukko said.

“That’s the reward for people being in this business so long,” Luukko said: relationships and resources.

 


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IAFE Members Explore the Benefits of Change
 
Posted: 29 Nov 2017, 8:00 pm

Rick Vymlatil, South Florida Fair & Palm Beach County Expositions, West Palm Beach, and incoming chair of the International Association of Fairs & Expositions (IAFE), is seen with Marla Calico, IAFE president and CEO. (VT Photo)

REPORTING FROM LAS VEGAS — After four record years attendance-wise, the Minnesota State Fair, St. Paul, is still configured and programmed for 1.5 million people. In 2016, it drew 1.9 million, and management thought, “wow, we won’t see that again,” and then they did.

Those growing pains are a good thing to have and Jerry Hammer, manager of the St. Paul event, was looking at options both here, during the International Association of Fairs & Expositions convention Nov. 26-29, and back home, where he was headed for another round of expansion planning.

“We’re looking at sea containers,” he said of planned outdoor/indoor development, particularly for the Pet Center, which is currently in a warehouse. [Coincidentally, yet another architect is looking at sea containers in new construction – see the story on Qatar’s World Cup stadium in this VT Pulse.)

Hammer doesn’t see the fair and festival business slowing down because “people are hard wired to share experiences. Ours happen to be traditional agricultural shows,” he said of what state fairs have in common with all live entertainment, which is on an upswing.

The vibe was upbeat at this year’s IAFE convention, where Cynthia Hoye, manager of the Indiana State Fair, Indianapolis, was inducted into the IAFE Hall of Fame; Becky Brashear, Maryland State Fair, Timonium, completed her term as IAFE chair, and Rick Vymlatil, South Florida Fair & Palm Beach County Expositions Inc., West Palm Beach, stepped into that role.

Even the pending move to San Antonio for the next four years, after holding this convention in Vegas for the last 40, was looked upon as positive. Marla Calico, IAFE president and CEO, said member feedback has been pro-San Antonio — change is good. There will be eight convention hotels in San Antonio, something for everyone, and events will take place at the convention center.

“We’re moving to the convention center model,” she said, assuring anyone who is concerned about being “spread out” that all but two of the hotels and the convention center in San Antonio fit in a footprint the size of the Vegas headquarters hotels, Bally’s and Paris. There is also no smoking in the convention center and San Antonio is more affordable for eating out, she said.

The fact that the IAFE convention skewed more than 50 percent women for the first time last year also informed the decision to move out of Vegas. “It’s the number two culinary destination in the world,” Calico said, quoting a magazine article and noting the Culinary Institute of America is headquartered there.

She expects attendance to possibly increase with the change. Numbers were not in yet for this year’s convention, which closes tomorrow, but she said it has held steady at about 4,000 for the last few conventions, which includes Outdoor Amusement Business Association and Showmen’s League of America registrants as well

Brashear added that San Antonio is a family-friendly city with restaurants, culture and sightseeing. The newcomers to the industry, in particular, are open to change, she said.

To that end, conventioneers spent several sessions hammering out the fair industry of the future, what it will look like in 20 years. Results will be published next year. “We need to be ready for 2030,” Brashear said. The sessions were an open discussion.

brashear600.jpg

Robert Fogle and Becky Brashear of the Maryland State Fair, Timonium, celebrate with new Certified Fair Executives as a reception during IAFE. (VT Photo)

Brashear’s main takeaway from this year’s gathering is the significance of “the engagement piece,” meaning the need to offer participatory exhibits and entertainment, which is critical to drawing the next generation of fairgoers.

For Tracey Gardner, GM, Mississippi State Fair, Jackson, a primary takeaway was that people come to the fair to eat. Some come for the rides, some for entertainment, some for agricultural exhibits, some for commercial exhibits, but they all eat.

On the state fair highway, food is the center lane, she said, while admitting hers is a flat-fee fair. Concessionaires pay a flat fee per front foot — from $118-$147— so the fair does not participate in the upside on a percentage basis. This year, for the first time, they did change from one flat fee to a graduated charge, depending on location.

Gardner noted the Mississippi State Fair is currently without a CEO, having said goodbye to Rick Reno two days after the October event, which drew 701,000 attendees. The board has not yet announced plans for a new CEO.

She was headed home to host the Dixie National Rodeo, which moves in in February, and to watch construction of a new trade center which will be under construction by spring and is being designed by Populous (see story in the November issue of Venues Today.)

Change is underway at the Central Washington State Fair, Yakima, as well. GM Greg Stewart said the new $2-million catering kitchen, which was approved two years ago, is about to become reality. Design is done and construction will be out to bid in January. They will break ground in March and debut the new improvement, which is housed in the Sundome arena, at next year’s fair. This year’s fair drew 323,000, Stewart said.

The new catering kitchen comes on the heels of a change from self-op to hiring Spectra as concessionaire. They came on board Aug. 1, with Phil Hossler as GM.

“Find your niche and think outside the box,” said Renee Alexander, Minnesota State Fair, St. Paul, entertainment buyer of her takeaway, particularly from the panel on entertainment she moderated. For some fairs, that has meant booking boxing, for some it’s more gasoline events (motorsports), and for some, like Minnesota, there has been great success with comedy.

Food and drink was top of mind for many who attended sessions for certification on that topic. Rey O’Day of the National Independent Concessionaires Association, got down to the nitty gritty of making the customer comfortable.

“If you see a lonely bottle somewhere, throw it away, because a single piece of trash becomes a trash can,” she said. And that pile accumulates rapidly.

On a management note, O’Day suggested concessions managers schedule times to be in the office versus on the grounds, which makes it easier to make appointments rather than spending the fair hunting each other down. “A lot of times, people who schedule appointments solve the problem before their appointed time,” she noted.

Another topic top of mind with many conventioneers was this year's tragic ride accident at the Ohio State Fair, Columbus, which impacted other fairs down the line and worldwide. Representatives from that fair, that fair’s PR firm and the carnival industry dissected the response and lessons learned in 2017, which Venues Today will recap next week in the Dec. 6 VT Pulse.

A key takeaway was that venue managers should remember this is their business and they need to get in front of any crisis with their own key audience, which is the people they do business with directly. When there is a food recall, for instance, David Margulies, The Margulies Communications Group, advises his clients to call Walmart or whoever buys their product first – don’t let them hear it via social or news media.

“The focus is on keeping your business going, which is much more important to you than it is to the media,” Margulies said.


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TicketForce Wins USSSA Contract
 
Posted: 29 Nov 2017, 7:25 pm

USSSA Space Coast Complex has moved to Brevard County, Fla., and will open in early January with TicketForce as their ticketing partner.

TicketForce and United States Specialty Sports Association (USSSA) Space Coast Complex, Viera, Fla., are partnering on ticketing for the multi-field venue, including all ticket sales —online and walkup.

This state of the art, multi-sport complex will be holding its first event on Jan. 5, 2018, after moving 75 miles from Osceola County and leaving the Disney Sports family.

The new home of USSSA will feature four National Collegiate Athletic Associations (NCAA) regulation softball fields, four NCAA regulation baseball fields, four practice fields, and an 18,000-sq.-ft. indoor training and rehab center. It’s expected to host everything from youth baseball to fast-pitch and slow-pitch events.

The field is currently home to the USSSA Pride, a National Pro Women’s Fast-Pitch team, and earlier this year was awarded the hosting rights to the 2018 Women’s Baseball World Cup, which will take place in August. This will be the first time the tournament will be held in the United States.

The agreement with the Tourist Development Council (TDC) of Brevard County is for 20 years. The facility will host 40,000 events a year. All the events are ticketed. The facility will be operational in the beginning of 2018.

“The TicketForce platform stood out for its online and mobile capabilities, the option to add additional products to the sale before check-out, as well as overall flexibility,” said Kevin Reynolds, GM, USSSA. “We are excited to show our association and our guests this system. They can purchase online with no added fees to print at home or save on smart phone tickets. They will be able to avoid the lines when they arrive, park the car, head to the entrance and enjoy the event in our state of the art complex.”

Reynolds said that he chose TicketForce because they have “a dynamic ticketing system that can do a lot of things and not just sell tickets.”

The TicketForce system is designed for both presales and walkup sales, which the facility expects to be a major part of the ticketing process.

“I also liked that TicketForce doesn’t nickel-and-dime their customers with this fee and that fee,” said Reynolds. “We have low ticket prices here, and we want to keep the price low and not alienate the fans with printing fees and download fees.”

Reynolds is also impressed with the technology of TicketForce. “We have a lot of people coming from towns that want pictures and merchandise, and TicketForce allows us to integrate all that into the system, as well as concessions,” he said. “TicketForce makes it all easy and we determined they would be the best fit.”

The USSSA concessionaire is a local company, Collins Catering & Events, and the merchandise company is Boombah, a manufacturer of shirts, uniforms, and hats. “Merchandise is a healthy percentage of our revenue,” he said.

“We have people who come for three-to-four days at a stretch, from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m., and we need to serve that dynamic, so we change 35 percent of the offerings everyday,” he explained. “The same concession food would go stale after day one, so changing the selections is a great way to keep up the F&B sales.”

The contract with TicketForce is for three years, and Reynolds expects to sell about 500,000 tickets in year one at the new site.

Lynne King Smith, CEO, TicketForce, said that her company is “thrilled with the deal for Space Coast Complex.”

King Smith said the talks started with USSSA “around six months ago” and the contract was signed in early November. Ticket sales will start in in January. “We’re set up for digital sales, but USSSA has a lot of walkup sales; we’re particularly strong in that area, and that’s a big component of what we will bring to them,” she said.

“There’s a lot of good technology out there, but we really understand their needs,” she said.

TicketForce, based in Phoenix, has several Florida-based clients including Florida Theatre, Jacksonville; Tampa Theatre; and Palm Beach State College. Last year, TicketForce clients sold more than $80 million worth of tickets.


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Feichter New Events Manager at MCCNO
 
Posted: 29 Nov 2017, 7:00 pm

37723007774_474e0fec4e_b.jpgBrad Feichter.

Brad Feichter has been named event manager at the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center (MCCNO), the sixth largest convention center in the nation.

Feichter comes to the MCCNO after serving for three years as a senior banquet manager for the convention center’s food and beverage contractor, Centerplate. Previously, he was the banquet manager for the National WWII Museum in New Orleans. 

Prior to becoming event manager, Feichter oversaw the daily operations of Centerplate’s banquets department. 

Feichter attended Johnson & Wales University, Charlotte, N.C. and graduated with a bachelor of science, majoring in hotel management.

 


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XL Center Explore Selling Venue
 
Posted: 29 Nov 2017, 1:00 pm

Bruce Sprigsteen played XL Center, Hartford, Conn., which may soon be on the block.

The XL Center, the 16,000-plus capacity multipurpose arena in downtown Hartford, Conn., could soon go on the market in search of a new owner.

Michael Freimuth, executive director of the Capital Region Development Authority (CRDA), said the CRDA is considering seeking buyers for the arena, which is owned by the city of Hartford. The CRDA, an economic development agency for the Hartford area, operates the venue, while Spectra oversees venue operations, such as catering, booking events and sales. The Connecticut General Assembly recently approved $40 million for improvements to the XL Center and included a provision that the arena’s managers should seek new owners by June 2019. However, Freimuth said the CRDA expects it could move sooner than that.

Freimuth said seeking a sale earlier than 2019 would help avoid a scenario in which the XL Center’s unknown future becomes a hindrance to its successful operation.

“There is a concern that allowing the matter to linger has greater problems in that it creates an uncertainty in the market with event promoters, event sponsors, staff and the general public,” Freimuth said.

The XL Center, which opened in 1975, serves as the home arena of the University of Connecticut women’s and men’s basketball teams and the American Hockey League’s (AHL) Hartford Wolf Pack, the primary developmental affiliate of the New York Rangers. The venue, which was originally named the Hartford Civic Center Veterans Memorial Coliseum and Exhibition Center, also stages concerts, family shows, ice-skating events, consumer events and trade shows. During its long history, the XL Center has hosted major musical performers ranging from the Beach Boys and Diana Ross to Taylor Swift and Drake.

Freimuth said the XL Center’s strengths to potential buyers include that it is a long-established property with high name recognition, appealing education- and income-level demographics for its audiences, an affiliation with the University of Connecticut and relatively easy access for visitors. Freimuth also pointed to more than $50 million of public investment for improvements in the facility in the past three years. Freimuth said the arena’s appeal can be strengthened with continued state support for operations and capital upgrades. The $40 million in improvements recently earmarked by the state legislature is pending approval by the State Bond Commission.

Freimuth said the climate for state support is challenging. The CRDA had sought a larger commitment toward a proposed $250 million renovation of the XL Center, but the legislature opted for a smaller figure. The CRDA pursued potential partners for a new private-public partnership for the arena earlier this year but found scant interest, Freimuth said.

“The process and the degree to which the state supports the building are all a work in progress,” Freimuth said. “We’ve had a variety of false starts (having tried a public/private partnership earlier this year and getting only one response), and the general public’s support in these times of difficult budgets has waned.”

Freimuth said he does not believe the field of potential buyers for the XL Center is large. He expects those most interested in the arena will be those who are attracted to the venue’s role in the city and region and who might be considering the XL Center as a centerpiece to something larger instead of as a standalone entity.

“We think the universe is limited and will probably include those investors who have an interest in Hartford redevelopment greater than just the XL Center,” he said.

With that in mind, Freimuth said an important characteristic for an interested buyer will be “experience in operating and nurturing an entertainment venue as part of an urban redevelopment scenario.”

The XL Center’s origins in the 1970s can be traced to redevelopment efforts in those days of downtown Hartford. Freimuth said the Hartford Civic Center was one of the country’s first major public/private partnerships when it was developed as a collaboration between the city of Hartford and Aetna. The arena attracted national attention when its roof collapsed after a heavy snowstorm in January 1978, shutting down the arena until it reopened in February 1980. XL Insurance purchased naming rights to the building in 2007.

Freimuth said nearly 600,000 people attend events each year at the XL Center, “driving restaurant, bar, parking, hotel spending, while the building provides work to over 800 people on both a part-time and full-time basis.”

Oz Griebel, president and CEO of the MetroHartford Alliance, which has more than 1,000 businesses, municipalities and organization as members, said the XL Center is a key economic development piece to the city and region.

“It’s very important to the overall development of the capital city, particularly the downtown area,” Griebel said. “And we believe as the downtown area goes, so goes the city, and as the city of Hartford goes so goes the region in terms of its economic growth and its ability to attract and retain private sector employment and investment. So it’s an absolutely vital asset.”

Griebel said the XL Center’s importance to Hartford goes beyond its fiscal value.

“It has both a real impact on the restaurants and the bars and the immediate area but it also has a great psychological impact,” Griebel said. “People want to be where there is stuff going on. To me, it’s a combination of the fiscal reality of what a venue like that does but also how it makes people feel.”

Freimuth agreed, saying the arena supports broader efforts to attract potential downtown residents.

“It is a component of a larger urban lifestyle strategy that it is critical to appeal to those seeking to live downtown, who in turn form the basis of the next generation of the labor force,” Freimuth said.

In the years since its founding, the XL Center has seen the landscape for venues and entertainment in the region toughen, Griebel said. He points to the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut and the Webster Arena in Bridgeport, Connecticut as examples of regional venues that compete for events and audiences.

Griebel said the city around the XL Center has seen positive changes over the past 15 to 20 years, such as a major expansion of housing downtown, but critical to the arena’s success will be improving the economic climate in Hartford and the state.

“We have to grow the economy in the state of Connecticut,” Griebel said. “We have to grow the economy in the state, and we have to grow the population. We’ve been stagnant in the state – in fact, we’ve been losing population for the past two or three years. We’ve really had no aggregate job growth over the last 20 years. We have to grow so that there are people who want to come to the venue.”


 


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Hot Tickets for November 29, 2017
 
Posted: 29 Nov 2017, 1:00 pm

Guns N' Roses played Madison Square Garden, New York City, to a packed house. (Photo Credit: Alvin Ho/LAMC Productions)

After officially opening T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas, April 8-9, 2016, during the beginning of their Not In This Lifetime tour, Guns N’ Roses returned Nov. 17 to rock a full-capacity crowd which grossed over $2.1 million topping our chart this week. The first time GNR played on the T-Mobile Arena stage, lead singer Axl Rose was recovering from a broken foot and performed sitting down; this time around, Rose never stopped moving, giving fans an energetic and exhilarating performance. The rock music icons also turned their former reputation of extreme tardiness around; the band was not only punctual, but they played for an exhausting three and a half hours.

The Guns N’ Roses’ Live Nation-produced tour recently added 15  North American stadium and arena stops to the ongoing, worldwide tour, including a stop at Oracle Arena, Oakland, Calif., and Golden 1 Center, Sacramento, Calif., which also made our chart this week. The two sold-out shows combined grossed a whopping $3.5 million with 26,000 fans in attendance.

New mom Janet Jackson got back to business, after taking some time with her new baby earlier this year, by performing at the Cajundome, Lafayette, La., Sept. 7, with her State of the World tour, which is a continuation of the Unbreakable World tour that was postponed in 2016. Jackson showed up on our chart this week with a stop at Van Andel Arena, Grand Rapids, Mich., grossing $300,000 with over 7,000 fans in attendance. This tour will be wrapping up on Dec. 17, at Philips Arena, Atlanta.

HOT TICKETS is a weekly summary of the top acts and ticket sales as reported to VT PULSE. Following are the top 20 concerts and events, the top 5 in each seating capacity category, which took place between Oct. 31-Nov. 28.

15,001 or More Seats

10,001-15,000 Seats

5,001-10,000 Seats

5,000 or Fewer Seats

1) Guns N’ Roses
Gross Sales: $2,104,371; Venue: T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas; Attendance: 14,250; Ticket Range: $255-$64; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Nov. 17; No. of Shows: 1

2) Guns N’ Roses
Gross Sales: $1,866,854; Venue: Oracle Arena, Oakland, Calif.; Attendance: 13,520; Ticket Range: $325-$59.50; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Nov. 21; No. of Shows: 1

3) Jay-Z
Gross Sales: $1,832,255; Venue: Philips Arena, Atlanta; Attendance: 14,118; Ticket Range: $199.50-$59.50; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Nov. 14; No. of Shows: 1

4) Guns N’ Roses
Gross Sales: $1,685,142; Venue: Golden 1 Center, Sacramento, Calif.; Attendance: 12,478; Ticket Range: $325-$49.50; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Nov. 18; No. of Shows: 1

5) Jay-Z
Gross Sales: $1,330,471; Venue: American Airlines Center, Dallas; Attendance: 14,497; Ticket Range: $205-$34.50; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Nov. 7; No. of Shows: 1

1) Chris Stapleton
Gross Sales: $706,407; Venue: Jacksonville (Fla.) Veterans Memorial Arena; Attendance: 11,091; Ticket Range: $69.75-$34.75; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Nov. 11; No. of Shows: 1

2) Latin Grammy Awards
Gross Sales: $495,659; Venue: MGM Grand Garden Arena, Las Vegas; Attendance: 8,416; Ticket Range: $763-$87.20; Promoter: Latin Grammy’s; Dates: Nov. 16; No. of Shows: 1

3) Janet Jackson
Gross Sales: $300,870; Venue: Van Andel Arena, Grand Rapids, Mich.; Attendance: 5,168; Ticket Range: $99.50-$29.50; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Nov. 1; No. of Shows: 1

4) Odesza
Gross Sales: $244,559; Venue: Alliant Energy Center, Madison, Wis.; Attendance: 4,991; Ticket Range: $49; Promoter: Frank Productions, AEG Presents, Majestic Live; Dates: Nov. 10; No. of Shows: 1

5) Molusco Esta Apaga’o
Gross Sales: $209,055; Venue: Silver Spurs Arena at Osceola Heritage Park, Kissimmee, Fla.; Attendance: 6,626; Ticket Range: $83-$18; Promoter: Molusco; Dates: Nov. 4; No. of Shows: 1

1) Lady GaGa
Gross Sales: $2,725,130; Venue: Mohegan Sun Arena, Uncasville, Conn.; Attendance: 13,707; Ticket Range: $400-$50; Promoter: CAA, In-house; Dates: Nov. 10-11; No. of Shows: 2

2) Marc Anthony
Gross Sales: $730,125; Venue: Santander Arena, Reading, Pa.; Attendance: 5,435; Ticket Range: $179-$59; Promoter: CMN Events, In-house; Dates: Nov. 10; No. of Shows: 1

3) UFC Fight Night
Gross Sales: $642,070; Venue: Ted Constant Convocation Center, Norfolk, Va.; Attendance: 8,442; Ticket Range: $175-$50; Promoter: UFC; Dates: Nov. 11; No. of Shows: 1

4) 90’s Pop Tour
Gross Sales: $415,200; Venue: State Farm Arena, Hidalgo, Texas; Attendance: 4,607; Ticket Range: $150-$55; Promoter: First Row Productions; Dates: Nov. 10; No. of Shows: 1

5) A Perfect Circle
Gross Sales: $401,002; Venue: UIC Pavilion, Chicago; Attendance: 6,083; Ticket Range: $74-$38.50; Promoter: Jam Productions; Dates: Nov. 24; No. of Shows: 1

1) Waitress
Gross Sales: $1,390,106; Venue: Orpheum Theatre, Minneapolis; Attendance: 19,927; Ticket Range: $151-$21; Promoter: Hennepin Theatre Trust, Broadway Across America; Dates: Nov. 21-26; No. of Shows: 8

2) The Bodyguard
Gross Sales: $1,186,932; Venue: The Smith Center for the Performing Arts, Las Vegas; Attendance: 14,522; Ticket Range: $123-$45; Promoter: In-house; Dates: Nov. 21-26; No. of Shows: 8

3) Tony Bennett
Gross Sales: $1,040,631; Venue: Encore Theater at Wynn, Las Vegas; Attendance: 6,664; Ticket Range: $500-$65; Promoter: AEG Presents, In-house; Dates: Nov. 1-11; No. of Shows: 6

4) The Little Mermaid
Gross Sales: $1,017,708; Venue: Fox Cities Performing Arts Center, Appleton, Wis.; Attendance: 14,837; Ticket Range: $130-$41; Promoter: Broadway Across America, In-house; Dates: Oct. 31-Nov. 5; No. of Shows: 8

5) Love Never Dies
Gross Sales: $993,711; Venue: Broward Center for the Performing Arts, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; Attendance: 12,995; Ticket Range: $90.25-$35.25; Promoter: In-house, BAA; Dates: Nov. 7-12; No. of Shows: 8

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

 


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Austin's Parish To Be Sold By Auction
 
Posted: 29 Nov 2017, 1:00 pm

Austin Texas' Parish will go to the highest bidder after an auction held on eBay, Dec. 1-10.

A club in the heart of Austin, Texas' well-known Sixth Street Entertainment District is being put up for sale to literally the highest bidder.

Ownership of The Parish, a 425-capacity room regarded as having some of the best acoustics and sound engineering in the live music hotbed, will be available for bid on eBay beginning Dec. 1 and open until Dec. 10.

The transaction is not for the real estate property that contains The Parish but will give the winner the club business, its current bookings, the chance to renew the company’s liquor license, all bar and sound equipment and supplies and a 12-year lease with the option for two five-year renewals.

ATX Brands has owned the business for eight years, and owner Doug Guller said he decided in early 2017 to sell his three music venues so he could focus on growing his restaurant brands Bikini’s and Happy Chicks. In July, Guller sold the historic 19th century Scoot Inn outdoor music venue to Austin-based festival promoter C3 Presents and he also auctioned off the Schroeder Hall in Goliad, Texas, in April.

“This is the last of our pure music venues to go, and I’m hoping to get it in the hands of a live music fan who can take it to the next level,” Guller told Venues Today. “The great thing about The Parish is it’s an ongoing venue business with lots of success. All the shows transfer over to the new owner, so whoever wins the auction basically gets a nice shiny car and all they have to do is keep it running between the lines.”

While the online auction process is a novel and somewhat unusual method of selling a business, Guller said he wanted to circumvent the traditional professional networks and alliances that tend to form in a business community, with the hope of bringing someone new into the circle of Austin club owners.

“I wanted to cast a wide net, and when things like properties come up for sale, the broker usually just sends the info out to their email list and that’s it,” he said. “Properties trade very well with brokers, but when it comes to selling an entire business, there’s not really a set formula or process for how to get it done.”

Guller said there is an undisclosed minimum bid for the business and didn’t give an estimate or desired final price he’s seeking.

As an upstairs club on a stretch where street level foot traffic generates the bulk of the business in dozens of bars and nightclubs, The Parish has for years been something of an in-between venue among the approximately four dozen venues that use original live music as their main attraction to bring customers in the door.

While major acts such as Pete Townshend, Thom Yorke and Perry Farrell have played the intimate brick and wood-paneled room in recent years, its calendar typically features only a half dozen national or local bookings per month, with national tour bookings handled mostly by C3 Presents.

According to the Texas comptroller’s office, through the first half of 2017 The Parish averaged roughly $15,000 in monthly liquor sales, which are the main revenue driver for most music venues. That figure puts the venue far behind comparable downtown Austin rooms such as the Mohawk or Empire Control Room, which typically have far more active calendars and can generate more than $200,000 per month in liquor sales.

Live music stakeholders in Austin are planning to watch the auction closely. The sale comes as multiple long-running venues in the downtown’s two entertainment districts are facing double-digit percentage rent increases because of development pressure.

Rebecca Reynolds, president of the Austin’s chapter of the Music Venue Alliance, said she has concerns about whether the winning bidder will have the experience, skills and contacts needed to run a successful live music venue.

“Those of us with much interest in the health of this venue want to see it go to a capable owner who will nurture it and make it the best venue possible,” she said. “I don’t know if there will be any consideration made, if from among the top bidders the winner will be the one that has the best abilities, but I believe it is Doug’s goal to get it into the hands of someone who’s going to be a good member of the music community.”

Reynolds said The Parish’s reputation as one of the most fan and artist friendly clubs in Austin should make it an attractive purchase.

“It’s a beautiful space, and whoever inherits it gets a huge asset,” she said. “We might end up with someone from a different part of the state or different part of the country, and I hope that it’s someone with good sense about how to run a music venue.”

 


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Qatar To Put Up First Reusable Stadium
 
Posted: 28 Nov 2017, 6:10 pm

A rendering made available by Qatar World Cup's Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy, responsible for organizing World Cup 2020, shows the 40,000-seat Ras Abu Aboud Stadium.

Ras Abu Aboud is one of the venues that will host the World Cup in 2022 in Dubai. It will also be the first-ever venue that can be taken down and reassembled.

The 40,000-seat stadium will be built on Doha's southern waterfront and will host matches up to the quarter-final stage. After the tournament, the stadium will be disassembled, gently, with each piece carefully placed into containers to be reassembled and used in another location.

"This venue will be unique in that it will be capable of being reassembled in a new location in its entirety," said Javier Iribarren, founder of the a Madrid-based company, Fenwick Iribarren, the firm designing the venue and another tournament venue, the Qatar Foundation Stadium.

“The building will be made up of modified shipping containers,” said Iribarren. “This will make the process of putting it up and taking it down simple and easy.”

The firm got the idea of constructing a reusable stadium after one of the architects watched his child play with a Lego set.

“My colleague was struck by the idea of putting together a structure and then pulling it apart and reshaping it into a new structure,” he said. “We thought, ‘we can do this with an entire stadium’ and set out to find a way to make that happen. The modified shipping containers were the key to making that dream a reality.”

Iribarren is unclear on where — or in what shape— the reconstructed building will appear. “It could show up as a full stadium or be reassembled into several different buildings,” he said. “We’re designing it with flexibility.”

Each of the sections of the venue, including the concessions and bathrooms, is separate, said Iribarren.

“We are delighted to be part of another 2022 World Cup project, and are very proud that our design for Ras Abu Aboud Stadium will go down in history as the first-ever moveable and reusable World Cup stadium,” said Mark Fenwick, senior partner at Iribarren Fenwick. "We are confident that this innovative and sustainable concept will be an inspiration for stadium developers and architects around the world, capable of creating aesthetically pleasing venues that offer new legacy possibilities.”

The stadium should be completed by 2020, said Iribarren. The final cost of the project is still being worked out. “There are still factors we have to work out,” said Fenwick about the ultimate price tag.

Secretary General of the 2022 World Cup organizing committee Hassan Al Thawadi said in a statement, “Innovation has always been central to our plans for delivering a historic FIFA World Cup that leaves a legacy for Qatar and the world, and there is no better example of this than the design of Ras Abu Aboud Stadium.

“This venue offers the perfect legacy, capable of being reassembled in a new location in its entirety or built into numerous small sports and cultural venues,” he said. “All of this in a stadium that delivers the atmosphere fans expect at a World Cup and which we will build in a more sustainable way than ever before."

Since being chosen as the site of the 2022 World Cup, Qatar has found itself at the center of a global firestorm. Critics accuse the country of being corrupt, having poor human rights, rife with labor abuse, and a hotbed of terrorist activity.

Earlier this year, Qatar unveiled its first completed World Cup 2022 venue, the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha, which will also be used to host the World Athletics Championships in two years' time.

    

 


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May Pledges To Cover Costs Of Arena Attack
 
Posted: 28 Nov 2017, 6:00 pm

Pray For Manchester: A couple embrace one day after the Manchester attack May 23 under a billboard in England. (Photo Credit: AP/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

(Editor's Note: This story first appeared in Pollstar.com and the original story can be found here.)

After Manchester City Council had pointed out that the UK government’s initial financial aid in the May 22 aftermath had been insufficient, Prime Minister Theresa May pledged to cover all costs, which could be up to £28 million (about $37 million). 

The UK government initially pledged £12 million ($16 million) toward the costs that incurred in the wake of the May 22 bomb attack on Manchester Arena during an Ariana Grande concert to cover authority and emergency services.

According to Manchester’s Mayor Andy Burnham, the help was “inconclusive and that is not good enough.” He posted a letter from the prime minister detailing the financial support on Twitter.

Burnham added, “the costs relating to the Manchester Arena attack should be reimbursed in full by the government.” According to the mayor, £17.5 million ($23 million) had already been spent, and at least £10.4 million ($13.8 million) more may be needed.

He got his way. May has now pledged that “Manchester will get the financial support it needs, and if that costs £28 million, as Burnham has estimated, then that is what we will make available.”

To oversee this process and “expedite payments when necessary,” May established a taskforce dedicated to Manchester over the weekend.

“It will coordinate the cross-government response, pulling together the work of the Home Office, the Department for Communities and Local Government, the Department of Health and the Ministry of Justice,” May explained in a statement.

Burnham responded, “we will work constructively with the taskforce to achieve a fair resolution,” and thanked the prime minister on Twitter.

In her statement, May also said, “the terror attack in Manchester was one of the darkest moments in the city's history. Twenty-two people were killed in a brutal act of hatred deliberately aimed at innocent children on what should have been one of the best nights of their young lives.”

“In the hours, days and weeks that followed the Arena bombing, the spirit of Manchester shone out in defiance of an attack designed to destroy lives and devastate a community.

“I promised in the wake of that appalling atrocity this Government would do all it could to help victims recover and the city to heal. I repeat that commitment today. Where your public services have had to bear, or will bear, unexpected and exceptional costs in coping with this terrible attack, these will be met by the Government.”

SMG Europe, which runs Manchester Arena, UK Music CEO Michael Dugher and industry body Live Music Group chairman, Paul Latham declined Pollstar’s request for comment.


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Q&A With Thomas Ovesen, VP, Dubai Arena
 
Posted: 28 Nov 2017, 4:00 pm

Thomas Ovesen, newly appointed VP, programming, for the soon-to-open Dubai Arena.

Danish-born Thomas Ovesen, a major player in the development of the live touring industry in the Middle East for the last 17 years, has been named the first member of the leadership team at the 17,000-seat Dubai Arena for AEG Ogden, on behalf of Meraas, a Dubai-based holding company. Oversen will take on the role of VP, programming. 

Oversen previously oversaw the launch of Autism Rocks Arena, Dubai, and was the CEO of 117 Live, a Dubai-based conglomerate with a large entertainment portfolio. Venues Today spoke with Oversen about his new position, his goals, and why he’s a great fit for the new arena.

When did talks start with AEG Ogden?

Since setting up the AEG Live (Now AEG Presents) Middle East operation years ago, I have remained in touch on regular basis with the company and had collaborations with both the “live” and “facilities” teams concerning the Middle East and elsewhere.

When will you start?

The Dubai Arena project is due to open spring 2019, so we are in the early phases of the project with the venue still under construction. I will join the organization in January 2018. I’m joining a small team of executives headed up by CEO Guy Ngata. I very much look forward to the collaboration with Guy and to learn the ropes from him of running an arena — and sparring with him on programming issues in particular for the first couple of seasons.

How is running a venue in the Middle East different from Australia or the U.K. or the U.S.?

I‘ve been based in the Middle East since 1998; first in Bahrain and now in Dubai. The Dubai Arena will be the first fully-fledged indoor arena in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and one of a few in the region. While I have promoted and produced shows here for the past 17-plus years, and have recently been working on the new open-air venue, Autism Rocks Arena, I have never before been involved with conventional arena management — that is why Guy Ngata is here as he has experience with both opening and running such facilities.

Any challenges with the culture difference?

While we have some local and cultural sensitivities, these are nothing major and certainly no “showstoppers” — nothing more than what general courtesy and respect will mitigate.

What are prices and per caps like in Middle East?

With the arena opening in 2019, and the planned event volume, we expect the arena will become a regional live entertainment hub and catalyst for the new lay of the land when it comes to ticket pricing and attendance numbers, as the sheer volume of events put on will force us to review current ticket pricing models to ensure full houses and max number of annual admissions sold per household. The projected inbound UAE tourism will also be vital for us achieving our goals and targets.

Why do you think you are a good fit for the company and venue?

I have the local knowledge and have previous experience with working for AEG, as well as my recent promoter and venue operator experience, which will be valuable for Guy and the arena team.

What goals do you have for the new position?

Nothing short of establishing the arena as the regional live entertainment hub and seeing more local residents attending more shows annually than they do now and, of-course, having some awesome experiences in what will be a state-of-the-art arena.

 


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First UK Venue To Go Contactless
 
Posted: 27 Nov 2017, 1:00 pm

Wembley Stadium, London, the first U.K. venue to use contactless ticketing.

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

Wembley Stadium is becoming the U.K.’s first sports and entertainment stadium to offer contactless ticketing to fans, thanks to a partnership with mobile phone network EE, according to the venue.

This partnership will allow fans to add their tickets to Apple Wallet on iPhones or Apple Watches. In addition to contactless tickets, fans will be able to use their iPhones and Apple Watches to pay for food and beverage via Apple Pay.

The technology was sent through a number of tests at England’s soccer friendlies against Germany and Brazil, and after those successful trials earlier this month, it will be rolled out for all ticketed events at the stadium in 2018 and beyond. Customers purchasing tickets for the March 27 match  between England and Italy can choose “electronic delivery” to have the option of storing their tickets in their Apple Wallet.

“We’re delighted that Wembley Stadium is one of the first global venues to work alongside Fortress GB and Apple to bring this technology to fans, and we are committed to providing this technology across our ticketing platform for all events in 2018, onwards,” Paul Smyth, Head of Ticketing at The FA, said in a statement. “The innovation strengthens our aspiration to be the digital leader in supporter entry, establishing greater one-to-one contact with the consumer and making it easier and safer for all.”


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Congratulations 2017 Hall of Headlines award winners!
 
Posted: 22 Nov 2017, 12:00 pm

Congratulations to the 2017 Hall of Headlines award winners! Venues Today will be highlighting their accomplishments in the December issue. Contact an account executive to reserve a congratulatory ad by December 8.

NEWS

Peter Luukko and Tim Leiweke, co-chairs, Arena Alliance
Oak View Group, Los Angeles
For purchasing Pinnacle Venue Services and establishing OVG Facilities, aiming to build the biggest private management firm in the world. Tom Paquette and Doug Higgons, owners of Pinnacle, joined the new firm and, under Luukko's leadership, OVG Facilities is seeking to build on Pinnacle's six-venue portfolio at a rapid pace.

Chris Verros, CEO
Centerplate
For facilitating the sale of Centerplate to Sodexo for $675 million. The sale will close by the end of the year. Verros will continue as CEO of the combined companies in North America and Sodexo will take over Centerplate’s international accounts.

BOOKINGS
Jerry Goldman, AGM/SMG
U.S. Bank Stadium, Minneapolis
For booking the Summer ESPN X Games and three stadium concerts at U.S. Bank Stadium within the first year of operating. Goldman secured Guns N’ Roses, Coldplay and U2 to Minneapolis for a 2017 concert series, topping 147,000 in attendance for the concerts and over 100,000 attendees for the X Games with an estimated 400 million viewers worldwide. Additionally, Goldman secured the Summer ESPN X Games (2017 and 2018) and the 2020 NCAA Wrestling Championships, both of which have never been hosted by an NFL Stadium until their U.S. Bank Stadium debut.

MARKETING
Maureen Ginty, Exec. VP – Marketing Services & Human Resources
SMG, West Conshohocken, Pa.
For implementing the launch of a “Gift of Kindness Campaign” in celebration of SMG’s 40th Anniversary (1977-2017) and to reflect the character of the employees who have contributed to SMG’s ongoing success. The campaign honors the spirit of charity and compassion SMG employees demonstrate in their work life and personal life. SMG chooses 4 quarterly winners with an overall grand prize winner at the end of the year. All recipients receive a themed Waterford crystal ornament, part of their greatest gifts collection. The gift of kindness promotes understanding and strengthening the bonds of humanity. In addition, each winner receives a cash award. This concept fits perfectly with the basic tenet of the company training programs “knekt.”

OPERATIONS
Kerry Painter, AGM
Cox Business Center, Tulsa Okla.
For her work leading a rebrand, overseeing major construction projects, teaching within the industry, and acting as an Interim GM for another SMG facility, all while guiding an IAVM Venue Excellence Award winning team and facility. After inclusion in Tulsa’s 2020 Vision Master Plan and approval of funds through the Tulsa Vision plan, Painter began work on modernizing the space. In 2017, her work paid off when the venue was selected as “Top New or Renovated Meeting Space” by Convention South, selected by Tulsa People reader’s as “Best Event Center” in Tulsa, and one of five national venues selected by the International Association of Venue Managers (IAVM) for the Venue Excellence Award.

CONCESSIONS
Sandra Dunn, GM, & Albert Fera, Dir. of Food & Beverage for Savor
DCU Center/SMG, Worcester, Mass.
For implementing a new Branded Batch Cocktail Program as a way to decrease concourse congestion, increase per caps, control liquor and labor costs and enhance the fan experience. Since the program began, Savor…Worcester has recorded the highest per caps in the venue’s history. The Branded Batch Cocktail Program features event-themed craft cocktails premade in 5-gallon water jugs and served from large drink dispensers on portables throughout the concourse. The custom Batch Cocktails are branded to target the shows key demographics featuring flavor profiles and colors that are popular and spirits that are trending and then given names that are easily recognized by the audience and that tie into the event. Through increased points of sale, the Batch Cocktail Program has led to the top 6 gross sales per cap records for arena concessions including Pearl Jam ($11.19 + $10.55), Phish ($11.02 + $10.82), Dead & Company ($12.43), Garth Brooks ($13.14, $13.71, $10.48), Megadeth ($13.50) and I Love The 90’s Tour ($15.76).

Congratulatory ad deadline: December 8, 2017

Advertising contacts:

Rich DiGiacomo
Northeast, Western U.S. & Int'l
(310) 429-3678
rich@venuestoday.com

Jim McNeil
Texas, Southeastern & Midwest U.S.
(207) 609-2676
jim@venuestoday.com


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Sodexo Buys Centerplate for $675M
 
Posted: 16 Nov 2017, 7:00 pm

Chris Verros, CEO of Centerplate, and Pierre Henry, VP of the Group Executive Committee and CEO Sports & Leisure Worldwide for Sodexo.

Sodexo has agreed to purchase Centerplate for $675 million from current owner Olympus Partners. Olympus bought Centerplate five years ago for $550 million, according to Chris Verros, current CEO of Centerplate.

When the deal is complete in approximately 45 days, Verros will lead the combined sports and leisure businesses in North America.

Sodexo will take over Centerplate’s accounts in Europe, which include 50 venues in the U.K. and the newly opened Wanda Metropolitano soccer stadium in Madrid, Spain.

Sodexo is based in multiple cities, with sports and leisure headquarters in Paris, Gaithersburg, Md., and London, to name a few. Its North American sports and leisure business includes 30 accounts in sports and leisure and another 10 stadiums at universities. In Europe, it operates high profile attractions such as the Lido in Paris and the restaurant in the Eiffel Tower.

Pierre Henry, vice president of the Group Executive Committee and CEO Sports & Leisure Worldwide for Sodexo, said in a statement: “This acquisition is another step in our long-term strategy to become a leading player in every market in which we are present. Centerplate is an ideal partner with highly professional, dedicated teams who bring a wealth of industry expertise. We look forward to working together with Centerplate to bring exceptional Quality of Life experiences to tens of thousands of fans and spectators around the world.”

Centerplate has executive offices in Stamford, Conn., and Greenville, S.C. Tracing its roots back to 1929, Centerplate has been through several iterations, from ownership groups to IPOs. It grew substantially when Volume Services and Service America merged. It was renamed Centerplate in 2004 after an IPO. Centerplate was sold to private equity firm Kohlberg & Company in 2009 for a reported $210 million and a few months later, Centerplate acquired Boston Culinary. Kohlberg sold to Olympus Partners in collaboration with the current management team, who have now sold to Sodexo.

Verros said Sodexo approached Olympus Partners with the offer, intending to strengthen its foothold in North America and “Centerplate had ownership willing to talk to them.”

Negotiations have been ongoing and fruitful for the last several months. “We found out a lot about each other,” Verros said, noting the company cultures are a good match.

The combined buying power of the two companies is “huge, $22 billion in annual revenues,” Verros said. He is pleased to have the power of Sodexo behind Centerplate and noted the two company cultures are a match. “It gives us a lot more strength to be competitive,” Verros said.

Centerplate hosts 116 million patrons at stadiums, arena and convention centers annually. It has hosted 14 Super Bowls and 36 U.S. Presidential Inaugural Balls, among its many premier events.

Centerplate’s last 12-month revenues to June 2017 were $998 million, according to the press release. Sodexo’s Fiscal Year 2016 revenues for the Sports & Leisure segment were €903 million.

Sodexo was founded in 1966 by Pierre Bellon, and operates in 80 countries, serving 75 million consumers each day through its unique combination of On-site Services, Benefits and Rewards Services and Personal and Home Services. Through its more than 100 services, Sodexo provides clients an integrated offering developed over 50 years of experience: from food services, reception, safety, maintenance and cleaning, to facilities and equipment management; from Meal Pass, Gift Pass and Mobility Pass benefits for employees to in-home assistance, child care centers and concierge services. Sodexo employs 425,000 people worldwide.

The acquisition is subject to customary regulatory approvals and is expected to be closed by the end of 2017.


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LogJam Presents Embraces Green Initiatives
 
Posted: 16 Nov 2017, 6:00 pm

The KettleHouse Amphitheater is implementing vigorous environmental policies to go green. (Photo Credit: Logjam Presents).

Logjam Presents teamed up with local counterparts in Missoula, Mont., to reduce the city’s carbon footprint a whopping 90 percent by 2050.

“It’s an ambitious goal,” said Nick Checota, owner and operator of LogJam Presents, which is a private entertainment company that owns and operates three venues in Missoula — The Wilma (1,500 capacity), Top Hat Lounge (600 capacity) and the KettleHouse Amphitheater (4,000 capacity).

Logjam will start its green initiative in phases, with the first phase starting this December and with full implementation by Jan. 31, 2018.

“First and foremost, our customers are demanding it,” Checota said. “They are requiring and asking us to be a greener organization.”

It’s all part of the Zero by Fifty initiative launched by the city of Missoula in partnership with the Missoula Compost Collection and Logjam Presents.

“For the Missoula-based owners of Logjam Presents, success is measured in many ways, including ensuring that our economic prosperity doesn’t come at the cost of our quality of life. This partnership is a big leap for Missoula, and I’m grateful that the community’s vision gets closer to reality every day.” Missoula Mayor John Engen said in a statement.

Not only is Checota listening to customer and city demands, he also feels a moral obligation to keep the community healthy and waste free as his businesses grow.

“It’s personally something I feel that we should do in the organization. I’m the primary owner. I don’t have a lot of red tape to go through,” he said.  “Moving to compostable cups and compostable water bottles and compostable straws is the low hanging fruit if you will.”

Finding 100 percent compostable water bottles has been the biggest challenge and were the most expensive to replace. Going green does generate extra costs, Checota said, but it’s well worth it, especially from a customer service and marketing standpoint.

On average, plastic water bottles cost roughly 10 cents a unit, he said, and the new compostable water bottles run 60 to 70 cents. The compostable cups weren’t as bad with a roughly 15 percent increase in cost, Checota said.

He doesn’t anticipate absorbing those costs by raising prices, but instead he wants to see how the first year goes.

Checota estimates that it will cost him roughly $20,000 extra a year to implement many of the changes, but he looks at it also as marketing money he’s invested into his venues.

“I look at this… we’re doing the right thing and it’s a marketing expense,” he said.

According to the press release, the first phase includes:

• Implementation of a compost program that includes the elimination of all plastic single-use cups, plastic water bottles and plastic straws at the three Logjam venues. All will be replaced with 100 percent compostable products that Missoula Compost Collection will deliver to Garden City Compost, the City of Missoula's compost operation. Additionally, the Top Hat Restaurant and Bar will work with Missoula Compost to dispose of food waste from the restaurant and kitchen into the composting facility.

• Deployment of a broad recycling program.  All serving cans and carry-out containers will be separated at the venue and will be transported by Missoula Compost Collective to Pacific Steel Recycling and Republic Services.

• Implementation of a reusable cup and bottle program at the venues. Customers at the Wilma and KettleHouse Amphitheater will have the opportunity to obtain a Klean Kanteen reusable cup that can be used for all beverage products sold at the venues.

“Missoula Compost Collection is excited to see Logjam Presents take on this project. They will be the first prominent restaurant and music venues in Missoula to compost their serving ware and kitchen waste through our services,” Missoula Compost Collection Owner Sean Doty said in a statement. “This is going to be a positive change for the future. Thinking back to some of the first shows I saw in Missoula 15 years ago, we drank out of disposable cups and they are still sitting in the landfill, most likely unchanged. This is huge for the community of Missoula and its goal of reaching zero waste by 2050."


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Spectra to Manage Prescott Valley Arena
 
Posted: 16 Nov 2017, 5:00 pm

The 6,200 seat Prescott Valley (Ariz.) Event Center. (Photo Credit: Prescott Valley Event Center)

 

The Prescott Valley Event Center in Northern Arizona is under new ownership and management, which means capital improvements, more content and bigger audiences are expected at the venue.

Spectra by Comcast recently signed a five-year agreement to operate and manage the venue, a partnership that started Oct. 27.  Scott Norton, an 11-year Spectra employee, is the new general manager of the venue, and he anticipates that business will increase by more than 30 percent in the next year.  He’s been helping the arena in a consulting role for several months before the partnership started late last month.

It has not been a smooth ride for the 6,200-seat venue that cost $35 million to build in 2006, and now — after helping the event center avoid Chapter 7 bankruptcy — a newly-formed governmental corporation called the Prescott Valley Entertainment Center Community Facilities District (PVECCFD) owns the building.

Originally, Global Entertainment owned the venue in a joint partnership with Fain Signature Group.

After Global Entertainment, along with the Central Hockey League, filed Chapter 7 bankruptcy in 2014, Fain Signature Group took full ownership and operation of the venue; however that company failed to revive the arena, said Prescott Valley Town Manager Larry Tarkowski.

“(Global Entertainment) left the other partner operating for three years, and they told us they were going to go into Chapter 7 bankruptcy,” Tarkowski said. “So the town stepped in and worked with them.”

When the venue originally was built, Allstate Insurance purchased 85 percent of the arena’s bonds. In the new arrangement, Lapis Advisors purchased Allstate’s distressed bonds and then began working with the town.

The PVECCFD then bought out Lapis’ interest in $16 million worth of bonds, giving the governmental group full ownership of the building.

“The PVECCFD was created to own the building and (find an operator) for the building,” Tarkowski said.

Prescott Valley is a “rapidly growing” community, and to have such a huge venue in the center of town with plywood on the windows was unacceptable to town council and community members, Tarkowski said.

“It’s a part of the identity of the community,” he said, highlighting that the arena has hosted a number of high school wrestling and basketball competitions, along with high school and college graduations.

The venue also is home to the Northern Arizona Suns of the National Basketball Association G-League.

“What we were doing is bringing in a whole lot of people throughout the state of Arizona. They fill our hotels… they fill our restaurants,” he said.

Although the town isn’t operating the arena, it’s putting roughly $2 million in capital funds into the venue, which includes roof repair, redoing the parking lot, spiffing up the interior and investing in IT and electronic upgrades.

“We’re also buying a basketball floor that has NBA-quality baskets,” Tarkowski said.
In 2016, the venue had 65 event days. Norton expects the final number for 2017 to jump to 92 event days. He’s also hopeful that the venue will host 100-plus days of events annually, not including public skating and other community events.

“This size building, this size market is definitely in our wheelhouse,” he said of Spectra. “We’re going to bring the venue into a better financial picture. The venue had been operating on a skeleton crew.”

Norton plans to hire three full-time employees, bringing full-time staff to eight, and a few part-time employees.

“For me, it’s pretty much a blank slate up here. We think we have a great opportunity to revive the facility. We feel the market here has been a little bit underserved. We look forward to adding content and getting the venue back on the map from a concert and entertainment standpoint,” he said.

A fully-owned division of Comcast NBCUniversal, Spectra also provides management services to the Budweiser Event Center, Loveland, Colo., The Santa Ana Star Center, Rio Rancho, N.M., and the Casper (Wyo.) Event Center; similar venues in size and locale.


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Brisbane Live Linked with Underground Rail Line
 
Posted: 16 Nov 2017, 11:40 am

Future of two-year-old Brisbane Live project tied to results of Nov. 25 elections in Queensland, Australia.

An ambitious proposal for an entertainment development project in Brisbane, Australia, would be folded into the planning of a large underground rail line project under a new plan from Queensland’s Labor Party leaders.

The proposal would put the planning for Brisbane Live, an entertainment precinct featuring a 17,000-seat arena, under the Cross River Rail Delivery Authority, which is overseeing the underground rail line development, in partnership with Harvey Lister, CEO of AEG Ogden, the Brisbane-based venues operator that proposed the estimated $2 billion (Australian) Brisbane Live project. The proposal linking the projects was made ahead of Queensland’s Nov. 25 legislative assembly elections and would progress if the Labor Party retains control of the legislative body.

In a press release, Jackie Trad, deputy premier and minister for transport, infrastructure and planning for Queensland, said the Labor Party government has been “working very closely with Harvey Lister to make sure we create the best entertainment and integrated transport precinct in Australia.”

The Cross River Rail project is a $5.4 billion (Australian) underground rail line planned in central Brisbane. The Liberal National Party, which is the top challenger to the Labor Party in the elections, has not committed to supporting the Cross River Rail project if it gains legislative control, so the plan to link the planning of Brisbane Live with the rail project could be snuffed out at the ballot box. However, the Liberal National Party has already expressed support for a version of the Brisbane Live project and could allow it to proceed without the Cross River Rail venture. The questions remain of how and when that would happen.

Brisbane_Live_Arena6001.jpgRendering of the interior of the proposed 17,000-seat arena at Brisbane Live.

Judith Mair, senior lecturer in event management in the Tourism Discipline of the University of Queensland Business School, said Brisbane Live has clear potential benefits for the region.

“It will be a significant asset to the tourism and events portfolio for the city, and I’m sure it will attract big names in terms of events and performers, so it will bring large volumes of visitors,” Mair said. “Of course, this will have a positive economic impact in terms of increased visitor spend. The venue will also create permanent full-time employment as well as a range of part-time and casual work.”

Mair said the ambitious nature of Brisbane Live aligns with the city’s evolution and the tourism and marketing goals of the city’s leaders and advocates.

“The tourism authorities are working to change the destination image of Brisbane,” Mair said. “Over the past decade or so, the city has gone from a relatively unknown city to a recognized global destination. This sort of new venue will certainly help to raise the profile of Brisbane, particularly in relation to events, and will contribute to and complement the existing visitor attractions in Brisbane. Melbourne and Sydney, both of which are well known for their event portfolios, are Brisbane’s key Australian competitors, and so it is not surprising that Brisbane should be following an events-led approach.”

Trad said the Labor government would be developing a master plan for the area and turning to community members, business representatives and developers for input for the future of the area. Mair said a strength of the Brisbane Live project is that it represents a collaborative approach, involving a number of interested parties.   

“I think that the project is very important for Brisbane, as it will bring together a range of different stakeholders into one integrated destination, something which we do not currently have,” Mair said.

In addition, Mair said, the project’s planning does not appear to be in a vacuum. Instead, it is linked to other projects and other city goals, particularly new transportation infrastructure advances. She said that approach helps Brisbane Live stand out from other similar projects.

“The state government is working to improve the public transport around the city and the Brisbane Live venue is closely connected with these infrastructure developments,” Mair said. “Rather than just being a development centered on leisure, the plan is for this to be part of a larger strategic plan for the city, which seems like a positive step in city planning.”

Mair said projects such as Brisbane Live do not necessarily mean benefits will extend to the entire city, of course.

“As is often the case, I am unsure as to how equally the benefits will be shared among the residents of Brisbane, who will be the ones dealing with increased traffic, noise and congestion,” Mair said.

AEG Ogden first submitted a Brisbane Live plan to the Queensland government approximately two years ago. In the government’s press release, Lister voiced support for the marriage of the planning for the two projects.

“As a proud Queensland company and as part of the world’s leading entertainment, sport and venue management organization, AEG, we look forward to bringing our global expertise to the table to make Brisbane Live and Cross River Rail happen in partnership,” Lister said.


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Independent Promoter Politics Dissected
 
Posted: 16 Nov 2017, 12:00 am

Jim Cressman, Invictus Entertainment; Dave Brooks, Billboard; Darin Lashinsky, National Shows 2; Danielle Maderia, Another Planet; Eric Milhouse, Nederlander Concerts; and Darren Pfeffer, MSG Live, were on the Promoter Poltics panel at Billboard Touring Conference and Awards, Nov. 15.

REPORTING FROM BEVERLY HILLS, CALIF. — Independent promoters are always looking for vendors and opportunities. They don’t live and die by quarterly earnings reports; they don’t have boards to please and layer upon layer of upper management to go through to make a company decision.

A panel of top independent promoters shared their insight, ups and downs, and best practices at Billboard Touring Conference and Awards, Nov. 15 at Montage Hotel here.

“We need true partners, and we want to book shows,” said Darin Lashinsky, National Shows 2.

“If you want someone chasing the market and articulating the benefits of your building, you need to book with an independent promoter,” said Jim Cressman, founder and president, Invictus Entertainment Group. “We’re going to share the wins and the losses together.” He also stressed that he needs a venue to “show me if you want to be in business with me on the macro or on the micro.”

Cressman said it’s a fine dance that needs to be played out between promoter and venue, and he’s let buildings “beat me up on settlements and lose the battle so I can win the war six months later.”

Eric Milhouse, director of talent, Nederlander Concerts, said that being an independent promoter means “getting the word out no matter what you have to do.”

“The mindset is ‘do it yourself,’” he said. “We don’t often have big teams. If something needs to be done it’s not ‘call someone else,’ it’s roll up your sleeves and solve the problem.”

Danielle Maderia, VP, Another Planet, said that “not having to answer to Wall Street” was the biggest perk of being an independent. “When you answer to numbers, you can’t take a sharp left turn at the last moment when things are going in a bad direction; we can.”

“My partners and I can get on a phone call and make an instant decision; big promoters can’t do that,” said Lashinsky.

On the downside, Cressman said independent promoters have personal accountability and can’t throw blame for bad decisions sideways.

As with any group, there are a number of independent promoters, many in the festival space, who are bringing down the group as a whole with shady deals and canceled events.

“The bad promoters make the rest of us look good,” said Maderia.

“It’s lack of experience,” said Milhouse.

Maderia said “throwing money at something is often not a sustainable model” as she
discussed the ever-increasing high fees that artists are demanding— and getting — for playing festivals. “The overpaying is out-of-control. Agents need to understand that if a festival is willing to pay an outrageous fee, the artist will expect that fee at every festival and will eventually price themselves out of the market.”

On the positive side, festivals are a great place for independents to look for talent who will be in the area. “Find out their radius clause and book right on the border,” said Lashinsky.

Cancellations by an artist are a problem for promoters big and small. “The promoter takes the brunt of the hit,” said Milhouse. “There’s not much you can do about it.”

The recent flood of sexual harassment charges against high-powered industry players was also heavily discussed.

“We’ve got to teach kids from the get-go how to treat people and create safe environments,” said Milhouse. “We have to be better as human beings to women, to anyone who’s been slighted, and anyone who has been harmed.”

“It’s the imbalance of power,” said Maderia. “We’re seeing an underbelly now, but it’s been going on a long time.”

The discussion turned to what’s currently working in live touring in 2017.  Lashinsky said that rock, hip-hop and country were strong as well as “anything in Nashville.”

Milhouse agreed that hip-hop was strong but felt that the genre had challenges from the artists to the managers to the fans. He also cited touring smash “Hamilton” as particularly big in 2017.

Maderia said that Electronic Dance Music (EDM) was selling a lot of tickets. Cressman said that legacy equity acts, whether it’s metal, rock or country, all were doing great business in Canada.

 

 


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Hot Tickets for November 16, 2017
 
Posted: 15 Nov 2017, 6:00 pm

Elton John and his famous red piano played Wiltern Theater, Los Angeles, for a SirusXM Town Hall.

Elton John has recently announced that he will be touring less and less as the 70-year-old musician wants to spend more time with his children. With only six cities in his regional tour, he took top honors on our Hot Tickets chart this week with a stop at Ford Center, Evansville, Ind., Nov. 11, grossing over $1 million. The 10,000 fans in attendance were treated to all of John’s classic tunes along with a few of his newer songs.

The world-renowned singer also showed up on our chart with his Las Vegas residency at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace. The 14 appearances on Oct. 11 – Nov. 4 grossed nearly $10 million with 58,500 fans in attendance. John has also announced that, in sync with his personal decision to down scale his tour, he has also decided to end The Million Dollar Piano residency; he has announced the final 14 shows will occur in the spring of 2018.

With Kenny Rogers’ The Gambler’s Last Deal tour wrapping up next month, the All In For The Gambler: Kenny Rogers Farewell Concert at Bridgestone Arena, Nashville, Tenn., was a fitting tribute to the retirement of an iconic singer whose career stretches 60 years. The sold-out event grossed $1.3 million with 15,000 concertgoers who enjoyed the more than 20 artists who took the stage to honor Rogers including: Kris Kristofferson, Lady Antebellum, Chris Stapleton, Lionel Richie, and the incomparable Dolly Parton. Rogers and Parton wanted to go out like rock stars and ended the evening with a mic drop after their final performance together.

 

HOT TICKETS is a weekly summary of the top acts and ticket sales as reported to VT PULSE. Following are the top 20 concerts and events, the top 5 in each seating capacity category, which took place between Oct. 17-Nov. 14.

15,001 or More Seats

10,001-15,000 Seats

5,001-10,000 Seats

5,000 or Fewer Seats

1) Professional Bull Riders
Gross Sales: $6,572,590; Venue: T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas; Attendance: 62,388; Ticket Range: $1,096-$45.24; Promoter: Professional Bull Riders; Dates: Nov. 1-5; No. of Shows: 5

2) Bruno Mars
Gross Sales: $1,726,867; Venue: Oracle Arena, Oakland, Calif.; Attendance: 15,579; Ticket Range: $150-$47.14; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Nov. 3; No. of Shows: 1

3) All In For The Gambler: Kenny Rogers Farewell Concert
Gross Sales: $1,317,866; Venue: Bridgestone Arena, Nashville, Tenn.; Attendance: 15,530; Ticket Range: $299.50-$49.50; Promoter: Outback Concerts; Dates: Oct. 25; No. of Shows: 1

4) Enrique Iglesias, Pitbull
Gross Sales: $1,292,558; Venue: Honda Center, Anaheim, Calif.; Attendance: 12,124; Ticket Range: $199.95-$39.95; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Oct. 21; No. of Shows: 1

5) Red Hot Chili Peppers
Gross Sales: $1,273,486; Venue: Gila River Arena, Glendale, Ariz.; Attendance: 13,343; Ticket Range: $103.75-$53.75; Promoter: Frank Productions, AEG Presents; Dates: Oct. 18; No. of Shows: 1

1) Elton John
Gross Sales: $1,058,660; Venue: Ford Center, Evansville, Ind.; Attendance: 10,319; Ticket Range: $159.50-$29.50; Promoter: Frank Productions, AEG Presents, NS2; Dates: Nov. 11; No. of Shows: 1

2) Midnight Oil
Gross Sales: $1,040,629; Venue: Perth (Australia) Arena; Attendance: 13,309; Ticket Range: $110.89-$64.26; Promoter: Frontier Touring ; Dates: Oct. 28; No. of Shows: 1

3) Stevie Nicks, The Pretenders
Gross Sales: $903,972; Venue: Perth (Australia) Arena; Attendance: 9,316; Ticket Range: $157.52-$79.79; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Nov. 2; No. of Shows: 1

4) Thomas Rhett
Gross Sales: $410,928; Venue: Intrust Bank Arena, Wichita, Kan.; Attendance: 8,869; Ticket Range: $71.50-$27; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Oct. 20; No. of Shows: 1

5) Michigan State vs. University of Georgia Exhibition Charity Game
Gross Sales: $343,790; Venue: Van Andel Arena, Grand Rapids, Mich.; Attendance: 10,471; Ticket Range: $250-$17.50; Promoter: Michigan State University Athletics; Dates: Oct. 29; No. of Shows: 1

1) Britney Spears
Gross Sales: $2,148,989; Venue: The Axis at Planet Hollywood, Las Vegas; Attendance: 12,600; Ticket Range: $495-$54; Promoter: Caesars Entertainment; Dates: Oct. 18-21; No. of Shows: 3

2) Britney Spears
Gross Sales: $1,908,384; Venue: The Axis at Planet Hollywood, Las Vegas; Attendance: 11,842; Ticket Range: $495-$54; Promoter: Caesars Entertainment; Dates: Oct. 25-28; No. of Shows: 3

3) Imagine Dragons
Gross Sales: $716,795; Venue: Mohegan Sun Arena, Uncasville, Conn.; Attendance: 7,257; Ticket Range: $105-$65; Promoter: Paradigm, In-house; Dates: Nov. 4; No. of Shows: 1

4) Ana Gabriel
Gross Sales: $699,695; Venue: The Theater at Madison Square Garden, New York; Attendance: 5,398; Ticket Range: $205-$65; Promoter: NYK Productions; Dates: Oct. 29; No. of Shows: 1

5) Khalid
Gross Sales: $500,487; Venue: Hordern Pavilion, Sydney; Attendance: 10,872; Ticket Range: $53.35; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Nov. 7-8; No. of Shows: 2

1) Elton John
Gross Sales: $9,686,250; Venue: The Colosseum at Caesars Palace, Las Vegas; Attendance: 58,496; Ticket Range: $500-$55; Promoter: AEG Presents, Caesars Entertainment; Dates: Oct. 11-Nov. 4; No. of Shows: 14

2) The King and I
Gross Sales: $1,249,053; Venue: The Smith Center for the Performing Arts, Las Vegas; Attendance: 15,613; Ticket Range: $123-$32; Promoter: In-house; Dates: Oct. 25-29; No. of Shows: 8

3) Love Never Dies
Gross Sales: $1,225,273; Venue: Durham (N.C.) Performing Arts Center; Attendance: 20,910; Ticket Range: $160.50-$20; Promoter: PFM, Nederlander Presentations (New York), LND On Tour; Dates: Oct. 30-Nov. 5; No. of Shows: 8

4) Finding Neverland
Gross Sales: $1,191,106; Venue: Orpheum Theatre, Minneapolis; Attendance: 18,242; Ticket Range: $135-$21; Promoter: Hennepin Theatre Trust, Broadway Across America; Dates: Oct. 31-Nov. 5; No. of Shows: 8

5) On Your Feet
Gross Sales: $1,160,370; Venue: David A. Straz, Jr. Center for the Performing Arts, Tampa, Fla.; Attendance: 16,661; Ticket Range: $116.25-$14.75; Promoter: In-house; Dates: Oct. 24-29; No. of Shows: 8

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

 


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Ice-T Honestly
 
Posted: 15 Nov 2017, 6:00 pm

Beverly Keel, chair and professor at Middle Tennessee State University’s Department of Record Industry,  Murfreesboro, Tenn., interviewing Ice-T. (VT Photo)

REPORTIG FROM NASHVILLE — Musician, rapper, songwriter, actor and record producer and executive Ice-T said he feels rap is turning back to the time when the disco beat was more important than the message.

"There are still some out there with a message and there is still a market for the message," he said, while being interviewed on stage during the International Entertainment Buyers Association 2017 Conference, held in Nashville, Oct. 15-17. He was interviewed by Beverly Keel, chair of Middle Tennessee State University's Department of Recording Industry.

Ice-T, 59, a.k.a. Tracy Marrow, told the large audience of IEBA attendees about his early days as a rapper and some of those challenges, such as taking the band on the road.

"They had never seen poor white people," Ice-T said. "We would be on a bus and they would look out at the land going by and they couldn't believe there was that much space. They would fight over a block in the neighborhood."

He told how he and his band distinguished between a "real" promoter and not the real thing once they began traveling more. He said if they were picked up at the airport by the promoter in his car and made stops on the way to the performance location, such as to "drop something off at Mom's," they knew they hadn't been hired by the real thing.

He told about a date at a location in South America. They were picked up at the airport by a man who, to Ice-T, seemed to be spending too much time checking out the surroundings.

The band loaded into the guy's vehicle and headed away from the airport. When they saw a road block at a check-point up ahead, the driver suddenly turned and took them off-road, saying only, "I can't go through the road check point."

They played that night in a large tent for 5,000 people, in the middle of nowhere. At one point, someone stood up on stage and shot an AK-47 into the air.

"I thought, man, these guys are for real," he said. 

Ice figured they hadn't gotten all the important information from the person that had booked them for that particular performance. That person forgot to mention they would be playing for a group with ties to the Basque terrorist group, which emerged in the wake of a brutal crackdown by the Spanish dictator Gen. Francisco Franco against Basque language and culture in the 1950s.

Ice-T's legacy dates back to the very beginnings of West Coast hip-hop. For him, it was during a time of gang bangers. His life consisted of stealing and selling weed and, he said, making rhymes for the Crips to avoid trouble.

He joined the army for a stint, and that was where he found mix tapes of Grandmaster Flash, a.k.a. Joseph Saddler, a Bajan-American hip-hop recording artist and DJ.  After coming home from the army, he rapped in the clubs at night and worked for crews stealing jewelry during the day.

One night after a gig, Ice-T fell asleep at the wheel and suffered a serious car accident resulting in a 10-week stay in a veteran's hospital.  During that stay, he had only one visitor. He realized he was not very well liked, and that realization led to a commitment to change.

He released his first record "Reckless" and was cast in the movie "Breakin’" in the early 1980s. That recognition brought on a contract with Warner Bros.  His first major label release was the gold-seller "Rhyme Pays."

In 1988, he penned the title track to the movie "Colors." That brought him national acclaim.
"Power," the best selling album of his career, followed soon after.  His 1991 O.G. Original Gangster is widely considered Ice-T’s greatest album.  Ice-T and his band Body Count played Lollapalooza that year, at a time when few white kids would go to see an Ice-T concert.

Ice-T was mired in controversy at times.  For example, one month after Body Count released the song “Cop Killer” in 1992, a jury handed down the Rodney King not-guilty verdict and the city of Los Angeles exploded in protest.

The song infuriated authorities. President George H. W. Bush and Vice President Dan Quayle condemned it and the band, and there was monumental pressure on Warner Bros./Time Warner to pull the song. The band was threatened with arrest if they performed “Cop Killer” live.

Four months after its release, “Cop Killer” was removed from the Body Count album at Ice-T’s request.

“I’ve always tried to rhyme from an honest, truthful point," he said.  "You have the right to say anything, but be prepared for what that might bring back to you. If I want a problem, then I’m good with it because I asked for it. But this wasn’t that. That song wasn’t a call to arms. It was just a song.”

As Ice was making headlines, his film and television career was taking off, with roles in New Jack City, Ricochet, and Johnny Mnemonic and the beginnings of a flourishing television career.

Today, Ice-T is in his 19th season starring as “Detective Fin Tutuola” in NBC’s Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, the fourth-longest-running scripted primetime TV series in the U.S.

In 2012, he produced and directed the acclaimed documentary "Something from Nothing: The Art of Rap," which was an official selection for the Sundance Film Festival.

Earlier this year, Body Count released the powerful track “No Lives Matter” from its sixth studio album "Bloodlust. ”


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Top 7 NBA Tech Storylines To Watch in 2017-18
 
Posted: 15 Nov 2017, 3:00 pm

Nike's NBA NikeConnect system integrates tech into team jerseys.

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

Keep your eye on these tech innovations in the National Basketball Association (NBA).

The NBA is one of the most tech-forward major leagues in the world, having long been considered one of the most experimental with new technologies such as virtual reality and mobile-based fan engagement.

The 2017-18 season will continue to shape the league’s innovation efforts. Here are seven important technology storylines to keep an eye on this NBA season.

1. Augmented Reality Experience

The NBA is the first U.S. sports league to launch an augmented reality game for fans. Through an iOS app, called NBA AR, fans at games can play virtual pop-a-shot, where they use their iPhones to flick a digital ball into a basket.

The game can work in arenas during games but also out in the world, where fans can find digital renderings of official NBA baskets nearly anywhere at anytime. The NBA says this is just the start, with plans to launch more augmented reality games and experiences later this season.

2. Virtual Reality Streaming

After streaming one weekly regular season NBA League Pass game in virtual reality last season through a partnership with NextVR and then creating virtual reality highlights of the NBA Finals, the league will expand its virtual viewing options this season.

Through NextVR, 27 live games featuring all 30 NBA teams will be professionally produced for virtual reality.

Separately, every NBA League Pass game this season will be available for subscribers to watch on a virtual big screen through the NextVR Screening Room.

While the League Pass games won’t be produced specifically for a virtual reality broadcast as the 27 live games will be, fans will be able to immerse themselves in a 360-degree environment and choose up to 13 games to stream per game night.

3. NBA 2K Esports League

The NBA 2K esports league is slated to begin in 2018 with 17 participating teams, including last year’s champions, the Golden State Warriors and also the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The league will be operated in partnership with video game-maker Take-Two Interactive Software. The competitive league will feature the top 85 NBA 2K gamers in the world.

4. Connected Uniforms

Through a new eight-year deal  between the NBA and Nike that will see Nike as the exclusive apparel maker for the NBA, basketball jerseys this year will get an upgrade.

On an introductory level, the Nike logo will now be placed on every team’s jersey. This also will include technologies that could open up a new world of smart and connected jerseys. To start, an NFC chip will be located in the bottom left corner of jerseys that customers can purchase, which will unlock a host of player data for fans on their phones.

Nike and the NBA will also debut the Nike Therma Flex Showtime Warm-up Jacket with fabrics that help to maintain an athlete’s optimal body temperature during warm-up.

And this season marks the first time the league has shared branding on the coveted real estate of a uniform. The league is allowing brands to partner with teams on sponsorship deals and include their logos on jerseys, such as the partnership between Fitbit and the Minnesota Timberwolves.

5. NBAmojis & Alexa

In the never-ending quest to better engage fans, new technologies will launch this season that will make it easier for fans to access information about their favorite players and teams while showcasing their support.

The connected jerseys are a major step in this direction, but a partnership with Amazon also promises to deliver information to fans with voice commands given through Echo for all 30 teams. Alexa can also provide general information like players’ career and season stats, team records and starting lineups.

This season will see more NBA emojis added to the Google keyboard for Android. Developed in partnership with YinzCam, the NBAmoji App first debuted during the 2016 NBA Finals. Since then, hundreds of emojis representing the league, teams and players have been added. 

6. Wearables

With mobile technology and wearables continuing to creep their way into athletic training programs, the use of wearables during practice and games and the privacy surrounding the data collected from those wearables will continue to be up for debate this season.

The National Basketball Players Association and NBA struck a new collective bargaining agreement that went into effect this summer, limiting how teams can access and use data collected about a player from their wearable devices. One of the big takeaways was that data collected from wearable devices worn during practices couldn’t be used for or against players during contract negotiations.

For now, wearables still won’t be allowed on players during games.

7. Sportradar Takes Off

This will be the first season that the deal to track player data, struck between the NBA, Sportradar and Second Spectrum will officially kick off.

Sportradar’s six-year multifaceted data distribution partnership with the NBA makes it the “official provider of real-time NBA league statistics.” The sports data company will provide league data worldwide to media outlets, broadcasters, fans and betting houses in Europe, where sports gambling is legal.

Much of that will include coming up with new ways to visualize that data to engage fans, as well as an analyzation of data to spot broader trends that could aid in player performance.

Last week, Sportradar announced an acquisition of Mocap Analytics, which, best known for its five-year relationship with the Warriors, will give it the artificial intelligence needed to analyze player data and tell better stories.


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Reno and Dembrowski Leave Mississippi Positions
 
Posted: 13 Nov 2017, 7:00 pm

RickReno_200x145_taupebkg.jpgRick Reno.

Mississippi Fair Commission Executive Director Rick Reno and Assistant Executive Director Peter Dembowski have been let go from their respective positions.

Reno became executive director of the Fair Commission in 2014, succeeding longtime executive director Billy Orr.

Significantly reduced attendance was cited by Agricultural Commissioner Cindy Hyde-Smith as the reason the pair were being replaced.

Reno is a certified facilities executive recognized by International Association of Venue Managers (IAVM), has more than 40 years of experience. He previously was executive director at VenuWorks, Dodge City, Kans., and managed venues in Oregon, North Carolina, Kentucky and Virginia.

Dembowski also worked at VenuWorks, where he was IT manager. He previously was a technical consultant at Alorica, Greenville, S.C., and handled ticket operations for Greenville (S.C.) Road Warriors.


 


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URBAN FARM TO TABLE
 
Posted: 10 Nov 2017, 7:45 pm

ChefCarmenCallo300x300.jpgWhen chef Carmen Callo and his team at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver opened Blue Bear Farm—a large scale, on-site urban garden with over 5,000 square feet of growing space—they were eager to show off the fruits (and veggies) of their labor. Fortunately, a client who was also excited about the project encouraged them to create a dish that showcased the farm’s fresh flavors.
“The challenge was that they wanted to create a farm-to-table feeling in November,” Callo explained. “So what we did was think about the farm and … the fresh tomatoes growing, and fresh basil. Caprese salad resulted from this natural thought process.”
The Fall Caprese Salad, as they named the dish, was a twist on the traditional Italian staple. Using tomatoes from the farm that had been harvested at their peak and then roasted and canned, Callo made a tomato confit and folded it into an herb and cheese polenta cake, made in-house from polenta, vegetable stock, and a number of fresh ingredients including shallots, garlic, thyme and basil.
“All of this was constructed at an action station, so we served the polenta cake warm,” he added. “At the station we were also pulling fresh mozzarella. We would top the cake with the fresh mozzarella and torch it to warm and brown it; then serve that with some extra-virgin olive oil ‘caviar’—or little capsules of extra-virgin olive oil.”
The plates were also adorned with house-made basil oil and a 25-year balsamic vinegar, topped with fresh micro greens that the team was able to grow indoors.
Guests who stopped by the action station could quickly take plates of the Fall Caprese Salad on their way, or stand in awe at the chefs pulling mozzarella or torching the plates. The convention center also featured signage about the farm near the station.
“It went to rave reviews and we’ve served it multiple times since then,” said Callo.


CORPORATE EXECUTIVE CHEF CARMEN CALLO, CENTERPLATE, DENVER

In September, Centerplate named Carmen Callo Corporate Executive Chef, a role he takes on enthusiastically after almost 15 years playing a key role on the culinary team at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver.
Having made his mark leading the initiative to open Blue Bear Farm at the convention center in 2012, Callo has also worked events including Super Bowls, performances at the Denver Performing Arts Center and U.S. Presidential inaugural balls. He graduated summa cum laude from Johnson & Wales University, Denver, gaining experience at hotels and restaurants like downtown Chicago’s Signature Room at the 95th.
Today, he hopes to bring great perspective and balance from this wealth of experience to guide Centerplate’s venues in menu creation and delivery across North America. “I’m building upon the confidence I’ve acquired over the years of producing successful events, and continuing to showcase my dedication to our craft and the company’s goals,” he said. “Combining that [experience] with honesty and transparency, I’m hopeful that that will lead to continued success.”
Even after so many years with the same company, the chef says it never gets old. “Having this opportunity to come together and create these one-of-a-kind events for attendees who are flying in from all over, ‘wow-ing’ them, and creating a memory for them that’s tied to the food and our service—that’s the rewarding part,” Callo said.

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TALKING POINTS
 
Posted: 10 Nov 2017, 7:35 pm

Patrick_Leahy_300x300.jpgPATRICK LEAHY
DIRECTOR OF PROGRAMMING, DAVID A. STRAZ, JR. CENTER FOR THE PERFORMING ARTS, TAMPA, FLA.
HOMETOWN: Cincinnati.
UNIVERSITY: University of Cincinnati.
FIRST JOB IN THE INDUSTRY: Cleaning the costume shop at Paramount Parks Attractions.
HOW DID YOU GET YOUR CURRENT JOB: The center was looking to fill a void and I was in the area.
YOUR FAVORITE PART OF THE JOB: The promoter side of the business; the creative side.
MENTORS: Jules Belkin and Dave Lucas.
FREE TIME PURSUITS: Brew beer at home.
BIGGEST PET PEEVE: People that say,  ‘we’ve always done it this way.’
ONE-DAY ESCAPE: Ireland.
TOP SONG ON YOUR PLAYLIST RIGHT NOW: “Letter From Home” by Pat Metheny
MOST EMBARRASSING SONG ON YOUR PLAYLIST RIGHT NOW: Something by Kylie Minogue.
FAMOUS PERSON IN HISTORY YOU WOULD LIKE TO MEET: George Patton.
WHAT WOULD PEOPLE BE SURPRISED TO LEARN ABOUT YOU: I’m the youngest of eight kids.
BEST ADVICE EVER RECEIVED: Two things can never be taken away from you: your word and your character.
IF YOU COULD HAVE AN ENDLESS SUPPLY OF ANYTHING, WHAT WOULD IT BE: Spicy corn nuts.
BIGGEST GUILTY PLEASURE: Good beer.
FAVORITE LIVE EVENT ATTENDED: Rolling Stones Steel Wheels tour in Cincinnati and Louisville (Ky.).
PREFERRED SUPER POWER: To fly.


Keith_Goldberg_300x3001.jpgKEITH GOLDBERG
CHIEF REVENUE OFFICER, VIVENDI
CURRENT CITY: SAN MATEO, CALIF.
HOMETOWN: Marlboro, N.J.
UNIVERSITY: Univ. of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia.
FIRST JOB IN THE INDUSTRY: A roadie for the concert committee in college.
HOW DID YOU GET YOUR CURRENT JOB: I was consulting to a bunch of high tech firms in Silicon Valley. One of the CEO’s knew Mark (Tacchi, Vendini CEO) and I started consulting for the company. When a fulltime position opened up, I took it.
YOUR FAVORITE PART OF THE JOB: The people in the company and the industry.
WHAT DID YOU THINK YOU WOULD DO WHEN YOU WERE A KID: Fly the shuttle.
FREE TIME PRUSUITS: Fly planes ands play poker.
BIGGEST PET PEEVE: People who drive in the left lane.
ONE-DAY ESCAPE: A Caribbean Island.
TOP SONG ON YOUR PLAYLIST RIGHT NOW: “Blinded By The Light” by Bruce Springsteen.
MOST EMBARRASSING SONG ON YOUR PLAYLIST RIGHT NOW: “Hanukkah Song” by Adam Sandler.      
FAMOUS PERSON IN HISTORY YOU WOULD LIKE TO MEET: Steve Jobs.
WHAT WOULD PEOPLE BE SURPRISED TO LEARN ABOUT YOU: I was the body double for Billy Dee Williams in a movie called “Driving Me Crazy.”
IF YOU COULD HAVE AN ENDLESS SUPPLY OF ANYTHING, WHAT WOULD IT BE: Money.
BIGGEST GUILTY PLEASURE: Watching reality shows.
FAVORITE LIVE EVENT ATTENDED: Bruce Springsteen at the opening of the Meadowlands, East Rutherford, N.J. (now MetLife Stadium) in 1982.


Jesse_Fayne_300x300.jpgJESSE FAYNE
FESTIVAL AGENT, WME
CURRENT CITY: London.
HOMETOWN: Annapolis, Md.
UNIVERSITY: University of South Carolina, Columbia.
FIRST JOB IN THE INDUSTRY: Show Runner at a venue in Baltimore.
HOW DID YOU GET YOUR CURRENT JOB: One of my mentors introduced me to Marc Geiger at Pollstar Live in L.A.  I met with Marc at a roundtable discussion and asked him to hire me.  The rest is history.
YOUR FAVORITE PART OF THE JOB: Being part of a global team that’s building an artist’s career.
BIGGEST PET PEEVE:  When people don’t know how to walk correctly on the sidewalk.
ONE-DAY ESCAPE:  Los Angeles.
FAMOUS PERSON IN HISTORY YOU WOULD LIKE TO MEET: Freddie Mercury.
WHAT WOULD PEOPLE BE SURPRISED TO LEARN ABOUT YOU: I used to be a sponsored professional computer gamer.
BEST ADVICE YOU'VE EVER RECEIVED: Internship, internship, internship; do one thing that makes you uncomfortable every day; listen to your mother; balance; pick up the phone; patience.
IF YOU COULD HAVE AN ENDLESS SUPPLY OF ANYTHING, WHAT WOULD IT BE:
Protein bars.
YOUR BIGGEST GUILTY PLEASURE: Late night food.


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MANAGEMENT
 
Posted: 10 Nov 2017, 7:00 pm

Ayrton has announced the appointment of Zane Cretten as regional sales manager, with responsibility for sales across Africa and the Middle East. Cretten brings 11 years experience and previously worked with major global brands including High End, Barco, Pandora’s Box, d3, CreateLED, Wings and Caliber.

Cincinnati USA Convention & Visitors Bureau has announced the creation of a new sales team. The new multicultural sales and development team includes Jason Dunn, VP; Tamara Whiting, director; Kariuki Epps, national manager and Alexis Thomas, coordinator.

Jimmy Earl, CFE, has been named senior associate athletics director of the Frank Erwin Center, Austin. In addition to his experience at the center, Earl was the manager of the Fort Worth/Tarrant County (Texas) Convention Center from 1987-1990. He is also a past president of the International Association of Venue Managers (IAVM). He is a 1993 graduate of the Public Assembly Facility Management School at Oglebay, attained the Certified Facilities Executive (CFE) designation in 1995 and attended the Senior Executive Symposium at Cornell, Ithaca New West Conference, N.Y., in 1997.

Mike Elliott has joined Sound Space Vision (SSV) as a director. Elliott has been with the company since 2008 as project manager. He is currently leading the SSV team on the refurbishment of Fairfield Halls, Croydon, U.K., and a new space for Nevill Holt Opera, Market Harborough, U.K. Elliott studied theatre design at Nottingham Trent University, U.K., and also holds a Masters degree in theatre consultancy from the University of Warwick, U.K.

Oak View Group (OVG) has named veteran music industry journalist Andy Gensler as executive editor of its media & conferences division. He will be based out of OVG’s Los Angeles offices and report directly to Ray Waddell, the company’s president, media & conferences, with whom he will formulate and execute editorial strategy for the firm’s media holdings, which include Pollstar and Venues Today. Gensler previously worked as an editor and writer at Billboard.biz, where he's covered the music business. Previously, Gensler's varied career included working for the New York Times T-Style Magazine, VH1.com and Spin. He has written for many publications, including The Village Voice, Rolling Stone and the New York Times, among others.

Christopher Jeffery has been named an account administrator at New Day Underwriting Managers. Prior to New Day, Jeffrey served as an intern at McConkey & Co. Insurance & Benefits in York, Pa. He holds a bachelor of science in management from York College of Pennsylvania.

Grant Jones has returned to Intrust Bank Arena, Wichita, Kan., as operations manager. Jones previously served as operations supervisor prior to accepting an opportunity with Wichita Sports Forum in late 2016. Jones will now manage and oversee the operations team with their daily duties and event changeovers. Sierra Franklin has been promoted to box office manager for Select-A-Seat. Prior to this, Franklin served as ticket specialist in the Select-A-Seat box office. Josh Hiatt and Tyler Maier were both promoted to operations supervisors within the operations department. Hiatt and Maier were previously members of the crew on a part time basis. In the operations department, Mario De La Torre has been hired as maintenance technician to assist with preventative maintenance and repairs to the arena’s equipment. Additionally, Jared Johnson has been hired as the payroll and purchasing accountant within the finance department. Johnson held a ticket specialist title in the Select-A-Seat box office.

Ontario (Calif.) Convention Center has announced the hiring of new GM Shannon Perry. Perry has 18 years of event planning and facility oversight experience with two national companies: Westwood One Radio Network and SMG Worldwide Venue Management. She has also served on the board of directors for Hampton’s Healthy Families Inc.

Atlanta’s Fox Theatre has hired Lucy Lawler-Freas as director of programming. Lawler-Freas has over 20 years of experience in booking talent and executing events. Previously, Lawler-Freas served as a talent buyer for House of Blues Concerts Club Network for three years and Concert/Southern Promotions (now Live Nation) for over four years, where she booked Music Midtown’s productions from 1998 to 2001. In 2004, she started Rival Entertainment, with her partner Josh Antenucci.

Ticket industry veteran Fred Maglione is leaving TopTix SeatGeek and re-launching his consulting practice. Maglione has over 40 years' experience working with various organizations in the live sports and entertainment business. In addition to TopTix, Maglione is the former CEO of Comcast Spectacor subsidiary New Era Tickets and FanOne Marketing, and held senior management roles, both domestically and internationally, with Tickets.com, Select Technologies, Globe Information Systems and the Philadelphia 76ers.

The Boch Center, Boston, has appointed Jules Manning VP & managing director of booking. Previously, Manning managed programming and artist relations for the Madison Square Garden Company’s venues that include New York City’s Beacon Theatre, Radio City Music Hall, The Theater at Madison Square Garden and Wang Theatre, Boston. Prior to working for the Madison Square Garden Company, Manning worked at Sony Music in both the College Marketing and Columbia Records Marketing Department.
After nearly 29 years at Comcast Spectacor, Ike Richman,
the company’s vice president, PR, is creating Ike Richman Communications to assist professional sports teams and owners, arenas and stadiums, concert promoters and family shows with generating PR content. Comcast Spectacor will become his first client.

The International Code Council (ICC) has named Kelly D. Sadler, J.D., as its new government relations regional manager for Arkansas, Oklahoma and Texas.  Previously, Sadler served as a lobbyist and government relations manager for the Texas Masonry Council and managed the office of employer initiatives for the Texas Workforce Commission. In addition, she served as a budget, planning and policy advisor to former Texas Governor Rick Perry. Additionally, Sadler worked as a briefing attorney to the Honorable Paul Green in the Fourth District Court of Appeals and authored civil and criminal appellate opinions for 32 Texas counties. Sadler graduated cum laude with a B.A. from the University of Texas, Austin. She received her J.D. from the University of Texas at Austin School of Law.

Delaware North, owner and operator of TD Garden, Boston, has hired Timothy Townsell
as GM of Massachusetts Sportservice at TD Garden, Delaware North’s food, beverage, and retail provider for the arena. Most recently, Townsell worked for Levy Restaurants where he served as the GM at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center. Townsell earned his bachelors of science degree in hotel administration from Cornell University, N.Y. Richard Teahan has been named as TD Garden’s director of security. Teahan, a 26-year veteran of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, most recently served an FBI supervisory special agent. Teahan earned his Master of military studies degree from U.S. Marine Corps War College, Quantico, Va., and his bachelor of science degree in government from Suffolk University, Boston.

The Erie County Agricultural Society (ECAS), sponsors of the Erie County Fair, Hamburg, N.Y., has named Jessica Underberg as its new chief executive officer and fair manager. Underberg has served as assistant fair manager since 2010.

The Madison Square Garden Company (MSG) has announced that Josephine Vaccarello has been promoted to senior vice president, MSG Live, after serving most recently as vice president, concerts, family entertainment and ticketing, MSG Live. Vaccarello joined the company under Radio City Entertainment in 1998 and transitioned in 2000 to the position of coordinator, concerts and entertainment and has elevated in the department from manager to director to vice president.  She is a graduate of State University New York, Albany, with a bachelor’s degree in communications.


BIRTHS

CARLSON — A girl, Lucy Bradley Carlson, born Oct. 10 in Los Angeles to Jennifer Young and Brad Carlson. Grandfather is Ken Young, founder of Ovations Food Services, which became Spectra Food and Hospitality, and owner of five minor league baseball teams.


PASSINGS

MERTON BARR — 81, employed for 35 years by Veterans Memorial Auditorium, Culver City, Calif., in Peoria, Ill., Sept. 11. Barr is survived by his wife of 61 years, L. Louise (Erdman) Barr; three children, David (Bernita) Barr of Alleman, Stephen (Beth) Barr of Webster Groves, MO, and Susan (Greg) Lynch of Clive; seven grandchildren, Jacob, Brandon, and Emily Barr, Madeline and Anna Barr, and Katelyn and Isabelle Lynch; brothers-in-law, Richard Dalbey and Wayne (Nancy) Erdman of Waukee; sister-in-law, Donna (Erdman) Adamson of West Des Moines; and many cousins, nieces, and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents; sister, Margaret Dalbey; and brother-in-law, Edward Adamson.


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SAN DIEGO FAIR’S SPEAKEASY A SECRET SUCCESS
 
Posted: 10 Nov 2017, 6:00 pm

Jade_Peacock_3_copy_crop.jpgThose lucky enough to hear about — and find — the Jade Peacock at the San Diego County Fair, Del Mar, Calif., arrived at a secret location filled with paper lanterns, Buddha and lucky-lion statuary, and peacock paintings.  Guests could only get in by invitation using a secret password. The throwback speakeasy, which aimed to re-create the essence of an Old West Chinese opium den,  was so well-received by the fairgoers and well-liked by the industry that it won the 2017 Silver Spoons Award for Best New Concept.
Created by Sue Walls, director of catering and dining at Del Mar fairgrounds for SMG and Premier Food Services, the speakeasy’s craft cocktails featured six local craft spirit distilleries with a menu that included memorable themed drinks like: Red Lantern, Golden Temple, Fat Choy, 5 Spice Plum and 100 Birds. Spirits used were medal winners from last year’s San Diego Spirit & Cocktail Festival with some distillers doing tastings in the Jade Peacock during its run.
“The goal of the concept was to disrupt preconceived ideas of the county fair by creating a fun and authentic experience,” said Walls. “The idea was to honor the Chinese immigrants who worked on the railroads and in gold mining camps in the late 1800s.”
“We knew we could do a fun job tying in history and decorating,” said Walls. “We thought it would be a hit but had no idea how successful it would turn out to be. By the end of the fair, word spread and we had to turn people away.”
Adventurous visitors first had to locate a Jade Peacock card with the password of the day at one of three theme bar locations. The card contained instructions on accessing the Speakeasy, and a hostess inside the theme exhibit was waiting to receive the password (one day’s code: Catawampus).
Space permitting, guests were escorted to the bar’s secret location by costumed actors from Grossmont Community College. If the bar was at capacity, the hostess would take a cell number and text back when space allowed.
Guests were guided on a winding, clandestine walk through an underground tunnel up to the highest spot on the 5th floor of the fairgrounds grandstand where they found the elaborately decorated lounge with a spectacular view of the fairgrounds and Del Mar.
“Have your method of leading people to the bar well-established,” warned Walls for other venues that want to pick up on the concept. “Getting the people up to the space was the trickiest part. Keep it simple; no reservations; no online reservations; take phone numbers when the bar is full.”
There was very little marketing involved. “There was no ad campaign; there was nothing on the website; it was all word of mouth and helpful journalists,” said Walls.
The bar was created out of an unused storeroom. “No one ever goes up to that area; it was perfect.” said Walls, who hand-picked the furniture and decor from downtown Los Angeles with a team member.” The entire project, including the decorations, costumes, video and music cost $4,300.
“It was a super team effort,” said Walls. “I set up a Pinterest board and the whole team added to it,” she said. “We involved the entertainment department who provided actors; we engaged the people who ran the exhibit hall to plant our hostess station; we went to the San Diego Distillers Guild meeting to market it.”
“I have to give all the credit to Sue Walls,” said Tim Fennell, CEO, San Diego County Fair. “It was her brainchild and her creation.”
“It was a great marketing tool,” he said. “It was so creative, and very, very successful. It certainly added to our fair menu and the guest experience at this year’s fair and the fun.”
Fennell loved that “it added a new dimension to the fair that we didn’t have before.”
A total of 2,274 people visited Jade Peacock over the four weeks of the fair; it was only open on Friday and Saturday nights from 6:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. On the nights that the speakeasy wasn’t open to the public, it was rented out. The four-week gross was $37,745.
Specialty drinks cost $18; wine and beer were $10 each. “Our per cap was $20 per person,” said Wall. “We had people come up who didn’t even drink; they just wanted to see the room and be part of the fun.” The average guest stayed in the Jade Peacock for “about an hour.” Around 300 people visited each night.
It took two bartenders, one barback, two managers, two hostesses, two actors and an ambassador to run the speakeasy each night.
Reaction was so great that Del Mar fairgrounds is using the concept for their Halloween Scream Zone event and renaming it Demonology. The only change? “People walk into the tunnel through a port-a-potty,” said Walls, laughing.


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OCEAN WISE RESHAPES SEAFOOD SUSTAINABILITY
 
Posted: 10 Nov 2017, 6:00 pm

Silver_Spoon_-_Chris_Zielinski.jpgAir Canada Centre, Toronto, and its restaurants are leaders in sustainable seafood offerings at venues in North America. It’s the only venue to date that has partnered with Ocean Wise — a global organization that aims to reshape the seafood industry.
That’s why the Toronto, Canada-based venue won this year’s Silver Spoon award for Best Sustainability Initiative.
“I think it’s an amazing award of which we’re extremely proud,” said Bob Hunter, the chief project development officer at Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment (MLSE), which operates Air Canada Centre. “We have worked on growing our sustainability effort for the last eight to 10 years, so we’re extremely happy about the award.”
According to the entry form for the Silver Spoon Award, “Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment and Air Canada Centre took a bold step toward seafood sustainability by partnering with Ocean Wise. Ocean Wise, in partnership with the Vancouver Aquarium, is a global organization that has been reshaping the seafood industry through lobbying, education and fact-finding for the past 12 years.”
Ocean Wise currently has 750 partners globally and thousands of committed purchasers. Air Canada Centre is the first and only professional sports arena to partner with Ocean Wise. “In all of MLSE’s Toronto venues, including Air Canada Centre, BMO Field, Ricoh Coliseum, Real Sports Bar & Grill and e11even Restaurant, we have made a commitment to source all of our seafood through traceable sustainable sources,” Hunter said.
The Culinary Director at MLSE, Chris Zielinski, said that fans in Toronto have sophisticated pallets, and it’s important to offer the very best to guests.
“The thing is, it’s not just important to me, it’s important to our fans,” he said.
Offering great sustainably-caught seafood was a challenge for MLSE over the years.
“It’s been a challenge to find suppliers that could give us the quantity we need for our venues,” Zielinski said, noting that MLSE purchases close to $150,000 a month in seafood alone.
MLSE has four a la carte restaurants within the Air Canada Centre arena and two stand-alone restaurants — all of which use seafood throughout the menus, he said.
“Most of our dining is at the premium level, so fish is a big part across the board,” Zielinski said.
Ocean Wise works to ensure oceans stay safe and certain fish aren’t at risk of endangerment.
“Overfishing is one of the biggest threats our oceans face today,” states the Ocean Wise website. “The Ocean Wise symbol next to a seafood item is our assurance of an ocean-friendly seafood choice. With over 700 Ocean Wise partners with thousands of locations across Canada, the Ocean Wise seafood program makes it easy for consumers to make sustainable seafood choices that ensure the health of our oceans for generations to come.”
Not only that, but the fish tastes better, Zielinski noted.
“Ocean Wise is the Vancouver Aquarium. They are people who are doing a lot of testing and studying on fishing stock and fishing supplies… throughout all the oceans throughout the world,” he said. “Some fish are good for catching right now and some are not.”
Zielinski pointed out how years ago, sea bass were wildly popular worldwide.
“They nearly caught all the sea bass,” he said. “That was the awakening of the Ocean Wise movement. We can’t just sell things to the end.”
Therefore, Ocean Wise identifies what fish and how many are good at particular times based on the number of fish available and the ecosystem. 
Sustainability doesn’t stop at just seafood for MLSE, Zielinski said.
“We sell some lake fish,” he said. “We do a lot of trout… a lot of pickerel (walleye),” he said.
MLSE has a fisherman in British Columbia who actually takes photos of fish he’s caught and sends them to Zielinski and his team, which is a fun story to tell guests, Zielinski said.
Additionally, Zielinski and his team hand pick the cows they use for beef offerings at MLSE venues.
The need for excellent, sustainable food is extremely competitive in Toronto.
“It’s a very vibrant, bustling city. It probably has more restaurants per capita than any other city in North America,” Zielinski said. “We’ve taken a stand on sustainability, and you’re seeing that around the city. It does make an impact. We’re very proud of what we do here.”


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LESSONS LEARNED FROM LAS VEGAS
 
Posted: 10 Nov 2017, 6:00 pm

IMG_9747.JPGMost venues, if not all, have strict procedures in place for ingress — hand wanding or metal detectors, bag checks and Vapor Wake bomb-sniffing dogs are now standard best practice at any large assembly. But in the aftermath of the worst mass shooting in U.S. history, perpetrated by a lone gunman from the 32nd floor of Mandalay Bay Hotel & Resort, Las Vegas, killing 59 and injuring more than 500 at the Route 91 Harvest music festival, protecting guests from outside forces has become the focus.
Shelly Greenberg, a professor at Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, in the department of public safety leadership, said the emotional reaction could “lead to calls for remedies that likely aren’t realistic and could waste millions of dollars.”
“It’s still a matter of proper planning, training and resourcing,” said Ben Tolle, co-founder, Prevent Advisors. “The way to mitigate risk is to do the basics well.”
“Loss of life and damage to property are reduced as a function of advanced analysis and planning,” he said. “These types of events are chaotic. A trained staff and well rehearsed response are critical to reducing loss. The ability to communicate effectively with guests, staff and first responders is of the utmost importance.”
“The philosophical view has not changed; that said we are a learning organization,” Tolle continued. “Specific to the Las Vegas event, there’s still much detail to consider. With that, I am confident much will be learned as well.”
Tolle said an excellent way for venues to protect themselves from threats outside the venue is through deliberate collaboration with all the buildings and stakeholders throughout the area.
“All venues are part of a broader ecosystem,” said Tolle. “Prior planning, coordination, sharing of information, training and rehearsals among all the relevant stakeholders is a very good way to diminish risk.”
There’s always risk associated with external factors and people outside the venue, he said. “While risk will always be present, we can work together to manage it.”
Despite the circumstances of the Vegas shooting, Tolle said that skyscrapers are not the biggest threat to venue security.
"It’s bad actors,” he said. “People need to be cognizant of that. The primary threats are nasty people — criminals, insider types or terrorists.  We are still working to reduce the impact of bad people. ”
The threats have always been present; the schematics may change but we have to use our resources accordingly, he said.
Tolle said that the biggest changes to the venue industry that he foresees following Vegas are that “I expect artists will be more aware of the level of safety and security measures present in the sites they play."
“Productions will be more inquisitive about the policies and procedures that are in place at the facilities,” he said. “Any time there is tragedy of the Las Vegas scale, people will evaluate their risk going forward.”
Tolle does not foresee this event putting a particular focus on exposed, outdoor venues. “It’s about recognizing that this level of violence is here,” he said. “People often focus only on the mechanism of violence. It’s really the frequency and outcomes that should capture people’s attention.”
Still, venue security experts are looking at outside threats in a new light.
“As security checkpoints at concerts and sporting events have become more rigorous, the Las Vegas shooting has shown us that people who want to do harm are now focusing on areas outside the security perimeter,” said Randy Sutton, who spent 24 years with the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department. “It’s not possible to have security covering everything. When we have skyscrapers looming next to open-air venues, there is going to be a risk of an incident.”
Russ Simons, Venue Solutions Group, who is chairman of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Public Assembly Facility Sub-Sector Council and serves on the IAVM Safety & Security Committee and NCS4 (National Center for Spectator, Sport, Safety and Security) board of advisors, noted the mass killing in Las Vegas reinforces the need to do a threat assessment and vulnerability to that threat constantly.
“That leads to a risk assessment and from that you get your emergency action plan,” said Simons. “I don’t think anyone would have weighed gunfire from a significant distance and, by the way, from as high a level as this was as a threat to an event like a country music festival.”
This does not change the game for venue managers, it just increases the volume of the message. “Venue managers will be doing what they’ve done every day for 17 years, since 9/11, which is taking a look at what the circumstances are on the ground, not being comfortable with what you knew yesterday, and knowing you have to think about what the situation will be for you tomorrow. Every professional venue manager knows that complacency as it relates to safety and security is our biggest enemy, and we have to focus on the changing nature of the threat and our response. That has to do with that emergency action plan, training, execution, evaluation and retraining.”
Simons strongest message is one of personal responsibility.  “We can’t afford to rely on someone else to take care of us. We have to pay attention and think about where we’re going and assess our situation.
See something, say something is not just a tagline, he added. “We all have an obligation and a responsibility to be paying attention, and if we see things that make us uncomfortable or we don’t understand, we have to bring those things to someone’s attention. All of us are better than any one of us.


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LOCAL INGREDIENTS SET JUANCHOS APART
 
Posted: 10 Nov 2017, 6:00 pm

El_Jefe_Juanchos.jpgThe jury is out, and the flavorful, zesty and highly-sought-after “Juanchos” served at Golden 1 Center in Sacramento, Calif., won Venues Today’s Best New Menu Item category in Silver Spoons 2017.
“They are very unique, with a nice take on the American favorite — nachos,” said John Rinehart president of business operations of the Sacramento Kings. He highlighted that the unique menu item completely steers away from the processed cheese concept that’s offered at many other arenas.
“Although they’re nachos, you don’t have the canned cheese that’s heated up. This is fresh-made cheese, fresh-made chips,” Rinehart said.
Created by Legends Executive Chef Santana Diaz, the Juanchos are created from locally farmed food, which is a key focus of the arena that just celebrated its one-year anniversary on Oct. 4.
“When we were building the arena, we wanted to make it about Sacramento. A lot of things about the arena were locally focused. We thought we had a unique opportunity because of where we are located… next to farms with great food. We have wine and craft beer,” he said. “We had an opportunity to participate with that farm to fork system.”
When the arena was choosing its food vendor, those philosophies were important to the Kings.
“We made it really clear that that was going to be important to us, to honor that charter we wanted to put together,” Rinehart said. “Legends really embraced that. They shared our vision and in what we feel is a changing way to provide food and beverage to our fans.”
Thus, the award-winning Juanchos was born.
The Juanchos include a four cheese blend crafted from Petaluma creamery (70 miles away), a 50/50 blend of Casa Sanchez purple quinoa/blue corn totopos and white corn organic and GMO-free tortilla chips, house made guacamole, and slow roasted pulled pork carnitas sourced from nationally recognized Rancho Llano Seco (75 miles) — all of which left a lasting impression on the judges.
“Repurposed pork skins. Need I say more,” said judge Tammy Koolbeck, executive director of the Iowa State Center, Ames.
That’s right — repurposed pork skins add a flavorful punch to the arena’s version of nachos.
“During the carnitas process, pork skins would previously be discarded. But the culinary team led by Executive Chef Santana Diaz found an innovative use to enhance the flavor profile of the nachos at the arena. After the steam and fry process, the team has created airy, light chicharrones, or fried pork skins, that add a new flavor profile to the nachos,” stated the entry form for the Juanchos.
Juanchos are priced $13.

Q+A WITH SANTANA DIAZ EXECUTIVE CHEF
GOLDEN 1 CENTER  |  LEGENDS HOSPITALITY

Venues Today caught up with Executive Chef Santana Diaz, creator of Golden 1 Center's Juanchos, our Best New Menu Item, for a Q&A about his award-winning creation.
VT: What inspired you to create Juanchos?
Diaz: Golden 1 Center’s VP of Arena Operations had challenged the kitchen team to find and create an item that embodied the Kings’, Legends’ and Golden 1 Center’s commitment to sustainability and local sourcing.
VT: Why is it important to use locally sourced food?
Diaz: Local sourcing lets us impact our community’s economy, reduce our carbon footprint, and set an example that quick, entertainment food can be high-quality, fresh and delicious. By deliberately spending our dollars in the region, we’re supporting the community that stands with us.
VT: How did you come up with the name?
Diaz: They were named after the venue’s first General Manager, Juan Rodriguez.
VT: What are your long-term goals for food offerings at Golden 1 Center?
Diaz: Sacramento is proud to be the farm-to-fork capital of the world. We want to reflect the values of the region — and many of the chefs in our region have created incredible menus with locally raised ingredients. We want to match that skill and menu curiosity with items that reflect the high-quality food we can access in our backyard.
VT: Locally sourcing food and reducing waste is becoming more and more popular. Why is it important to you, Legends and the Golden 1 Center?
Diaz: For us, it is about reflecting the values of Sacramento. We’re proud of our agricultural roots and how being environmentally conscious is part of your daily life. By being aware of our sources, the seasonal ingredients that we can take advantage of and so much more, we’re able to create a menu that is aware of the dietary needs of our guests, provides healthy alternatives to preserved food items, and creates a menu that a guest would find beyond the walls of the arena.


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FELD BRINGS SESAME STREET TO LIFE
 
Posted: 9 Nov 2017, 6:05 pm

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REPORTING FROM ELLENTON, FLA. — Producing Sesame Street Live! Let’s Party! is a labor of love for Nicole Feld, Feld Entertainment. The new show, produced by Feld Entertainment in its new partnership with Sesame Workshop, debuts at Duke Energy Center for the Arts - Mahaffey Theater, St. Petersburg, Fla., Oct. 20-22, playing theaters and some arenas in 68 cities through May 2018.

“As a mom, as a person who grew up with Sesame Street, it felt really exciting to be part of something you know will be most children’s first theatrical experience,” Feld said during a behind the scenes tour of Feld Entertainment exclusively for Venues Today. “Literally kids are born and Elmo is on their diaper. ‘Elmo’ was one of my daughter’s first words.”
The Feld team has striven to keep Sesame Street Live! Let’s Party! as close to a child’s reality as possible. “From the first time we met with Sesame Workshop and listened to the research and curriculum, how they understand children and the developmental process, my sisters and I were literally saying, ‘yes, that’s exactly what’s happening in our homes at this moment.’ It will relate to families across this country,” Feld said.
The characters are so rich, so well loved and developed, and there is so much content, the challenge Feld faced was to narrow it down to clear and consistent messaging, to pick just a few things to really focus on, she said. “Being a mom, and even talking to my sisters who have newborns, you try to take into consideration what that’s like.”
Paramount in Feld’s mind was to focus on a few solid points, not overwhelm the audience with too many characters and ideas on stage at once, and incorporate mom/child time in the cadence, so mom has built-in time to encourage little Johnny to get up and dance before the moment has passed. Feld knows that often, she has to almost give her babies permission to participate at that young age.
To prepare the new production, the staff, cast and crew have all made pilgrimages to Sesame Workshop in New York to immerse themselves in everything Sesame Street. They emerged with a genuine love and respect for the Sesame Street mission, to teach and entertain.
Jeff Blossey, production designer, had a prior working relationship with Jim Henson and the Muppets years ago at Disney Imagineering. That, on top of the immersion meetings, influenced everything he has done with design, down to the color palette, which is Sesame Street’s.
“Our marching order was to bring the quintessential Sesame Street experience to people,” Blossey said. “So I spent a lot of time in New York on set with the muppets and director and production designer going over every nuance of the set and putting our own spin on it. When people see this, they will feel like they’re on Sesame Street.”
Sesame Workshop also designed a muppet just for the live production. Maya Monster will man the information booth in the theater lobby prior to the show, giving kids their first real-life look at a muppet. Two more muppets were developed for the preshow, which is an upsell experience for 200 people per show.
Blossey and crew were involved in designing preshow, lobby and show elements for a target audience aged 3-11, which means working with primary colors – bright, sunny, optimistic and fun colors.
“That’s how authentic we’re being. These kids know this show like we know it; it’s a place in your heart,” Blossey said. “These kids, more than their parents, know Sesame Street when they see it. That’s been our mission all along and we strive for that every day.”
The design process has been enhanced by the ability to map everything in 3D, but the production still takes all the usual steps, including a white model, though that’s not actually white anymore – it’s in color. 3D makes it possible to view a set piece from any angle, in detail, before they ever pick up a wrench.
“This tool wasn’t available several years ago. It’s meant tremendous savings” in both time and money, Blossey said.
“Because our show has to travel, we take these files and export them individually and send them to a foam manufacturer that has a computer that cuts those pieces of foam,” he said. “Then we scenically paint them to look like concrete, but lightweight so it travels well.”
They do have limitations, like how many items can fit on a truck. It has to break down into 6X6 foot chunks, “like transformers,” Blossey said, so it can be easily rolled away and transported from city to city.
That’s where Rob Lange, company manager, weighs in. He has a 10-person crew, half of whom are department heads, on the road crew. Included are the electrician, with a crew of two; sound, plus one; props, plus one; set designer/carpenter; and wardrobe, plus one. It’s similar to what venue managers see when Disney Live! shows up with 11-12 on the crew.
The biggest challenge to move is the video screen, which is a total of 64 pieces, Lange said. “It’s cool the way it’s very modular and all magnets together so it drops into place, then we clamp it. It’s the first time we’ve had a screen like this.”
Mitch Matsunaga, senior director, International Ice and Stage Show Operations, is thrilled with the interactive capacity of the Community Billboard (the video screen), which has a name, CB. CB is a brand new character for the live production, as are Casey and Caleb, the co-emcees, and the Citizens of Sesame Street (seven of 11 cast members double as citizens and Sesame Street costumed characters). CB plays games with the audience and brings to life the screen — as in smart phones and tablets — that even the youngest kids are used to today. CB lives above the Community Center.
“The scenic design is amazing,” Matsunaga said. “The fact that we utilized this hi rez, cool video community billboard is amazing. The color and content will be cool. We have moments when the characters on the video screen actually interact live in the theater and on the screen, like Facetime.”
123 Brownstone, the iconic structure that has been part of the Sesame Street set for 47 years, is four feet deep, 22 feet tall, and quite heavy, Lange said. They were working on moving it in and out when Venues Today visited. Adding to the challenge is the fact that it has to be 3D, as did the entire set for the sake of the preshow guests who will see it up close while on stage. This scenery has to be as real life as possible.
“We’re at eight hours load out,” Lange said, predicting that with practice they’ll knock that down to four. He’s penciling in six hours for set up, but hopes to get to the point they can begin load in at 4 a.m. for a 2 p.m. show, keeping in mind they have to be ready for the preshow at 12:45.
Lange anticipated traveling the show on three trucks for scenery and props, plus one for merchandise, all from Star Freight. Three 14-bunk buses from Star Coaches will accommodate the 35-38 people traveling with the show.
The show will travel 20,000 miles, the biggest move being 1,650 miles from Allen, Texas to Stockton, Calif. on New Year’s Eve. Lange will need to book double drivers for that one.
Let’s Party! brings Sesame Street to the kids, Matsunaga said. “Few kids get the opportunity to actually see it, feel it, right in front of their eyes, and that’s exciting.”
And it’s educational, just like the TV show. “Sesame brings an educational component to content on its TV shows and so do we, so they are not only having a good time, but they’re also learning new things — being kind to the environment, being kind to neighbors — concepts we want kids to understand in this day and age,” Matsunaga said.
The difference is that the interactivity is ramped up. The show is actually contemporary, which meant orchestrating a new track, some of which is rap. Traditional Sesame Street songs, like “I Love Trash,” were re-orchestrated to feel current. “Who Are the People in Your Neighborhood,” a song people know, has a hip hop beat and unbelievably high energy dance choreography, Matsunaga said.
In the lobby prior to the show, there will be another video board where ticketbuyers can have an Elmo’s World-type of interaction, playing guessing games with the muppet on screen. The 65-inch screen provides free entertainment and group interaction. As Elmo finishes a segment, he takes a break, allowing a new audience to cycle through.
Maya Monster will also interact with kids in the lobby prior to curtain and while the Preshow group is in the theater. The muppet will directly communicate with kids and respond to questions or initiate conversation with the kids, Matsunaga said. Again, the puppeteers will take breaks for crowd control.
It fell to Dawna Oak and Ken Mooney, co-costume designers, to make all this dancing, singing and interaction possible and comfortable for the performers and to preserve the contemporary feel of the show.
“These are very talented, gifted people who do things in these clothes that we have to accommodate,” Mooney said. “That’s ground zero; no matter what we want to do, we have to make it work for the function. That’s what’s different in the business we do versus Broadway. These people are actors, but athletes first.”
To the costumers, dancing drives the show. Oak was blown away during the immersion meetings in New York “so we could understand their brand. It was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had. I cried. They are so dedicated to the educational aspects of their brand. They educated us on how to represent their brand in Sesame Street Live for Feld Entertainment. At first, I thought very pedestrian, sweet little show. Oh no. You are on Sesame Street and having the full-on experience of the community center.”
Oak and Mooney had to find pedestrian clothing for all 11 cast members in their roles as citizens, tasked with making those clothes contemporary while emphasizing “Everybody’s Different and That’s Okay.” They met with each cast member individually to determine who they were and what clothes would make them comfortable. They scoured stores, shopped on line and reviewed cast member suggestions, seeking to be in-style right now with the parents as well as the children.
Fortunately, contemporary style is eclectic and harkens back to styles of old and, conveniently, every cast member was quite individualistic, from nerd to surfer.
“If you can start with a great dialog with a performer, you get someplace better than either could on his own,” Mooney said.
They asked questions like tell me who you are, what is your vibe, sneakers or boots, do you like hats, how can you wear your hair, “all those things that put them in their comfort zone so they can do their best,” Oak added. “In their body language, you can tell if they’re not comfortable. They need to know you have their back and are making them comfortable and still meet the needs of the show esthetically.”
The muppet costumes were produced by a costume shop in Nashville, Animax, which has had a connection with Sesame Workshop for decades. Costumes are different when dealing with puppetry than they are, for example, with Disney characters for other Feld productions. The cast also participated in immersion meetings in New York so they would understand the philosophy, mission statement, and program behind the show.
Of course, they had to wait until the casting was done to clothe the Citizens of Sesame Street, “because you can make the wrong choice and struggle against it the rest of the year,” Mooney said.
C is for collaboration, caring, concern for the audience, contemporary. “The theme of the show is it’s a party, but it’s a community party. It’s about bringing people and families together, making the world a kinder and more caring place,” Feld said. “That’s very in line with the values I have as a parent and what Sesame incorporated within their curriculum and their episodes.”
For venue managers, this will clearly be more than an extra-booster-seats-and-diaper-changing-tables event. Sesame Street Live! Let’s Party! aims to educate the next generation of theater goers across the globe.

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TAKE A WALK ON SESAME STREET

A preshow experience will allow a limited number of guests, 200 per show, to actually walk on stage before Sesame Street Live! Let’s Party! as part of the new Feld Entertainment/Sesame Workshop family show.
The preshow set, complete with muppets, is designed to look like the television studio set, from 123 Brownstone to Hooper’s Store to the Community Center. The experience is as true to the TV production as possible.
Inspiration for the preshow, as well as the entire production, started when Nicole Feld, producer, who took her daughter to the New York set as part of the total-immersion process of creation.
“My sister and I each brought our daughters and my daughter was running around, touching Oscar’s trash can, Abby’s garden. It became so real for her. We wanted to offer that to some of Sesame Street’s biggest fans,” Feld said.
The preshow will take place an hour and 15 minutes prior to Let’s Party!, lasting 45 minutes. It is an upsell, $20-$30 per ticket; but you don’t have to buy a front row seat to get a preshow ticket. Because only 50 people at a time can be physically accommodated on stage, the plan is to take them up in four color-coded (another learning moment) groups.
The preshow stresses education. Besides the chance to walk on stage and interact with muppets and touch iconic elements of Sesame Street, buyers will be tasked with various projects that directly impact the show. Kids will be asked to help prepare for the big party by decorating a banner with stickers, which will then be utilized on the show. They will be asked to recycle trash as part of the cleanup crew or make paper plate decorations for a streamer to be used on stage. While those three activities take place, one of the four groups will be taking their turn on stage.
Mitch Matsunaga, senior director, International Ice and Stage Show Operations, said they have found coves and little spaces inside the theater to facilitate the preshow. The set up will be different in each city.
Each onstage experience will also be different, with two hosts to take them through the process. Each group ends with a highlight, a fun activity on stage. “And we have, for the very first time, our four famous characters in their puppet form,” Matsunaga said. “They appear in these fabulous windows or out of a trashcan. Kids can’t touch the puppets, but they’ll be as close an anyone has ever gone. There is no other place you can experience the TV-sized muppets anywhere. This is a first for Sesame Workshop.”
Logistically, this means the set up crew will have to stage the preshow, which means moving the set pieces on stage back five feet to accommodate the crowd and setting up the interactive stations, said Rob Lange, company manager. They will have 15 minutes to reset the stage and clean up the stations before the theater doors open to the general public.
Theaters will have to be staffed and open only 15 minutes before traditional doors, which are an hour before showtime. “You could probably open just a stand or two just for the 200 people until that hour,” Matsanuga said.
Feld was not sure what elements of the preshow would be exportable to other Feld productions, but expected there will be some learnings that can be adapted. “I think getting on stage, for a lot of people, would be exciting. Venues offer tours on stage when nothing is even happening; there is a fan base for that.”
The challenge is that this show is for young kids who don’t move quickly. “We want them to be safe,” Feld added.
Jeff Blossey, production designer, said there are several new elements to this production specifically because of the preshow concept. Hooper’s Store rotates 90 degrees, so preshow fans will get more of a street feel, while the show audience will have good sightlines. Everything is on modern-age, industrial, omni-directional casters that a couple people can crank down and clamp, Blossey pointed out.
They also designed a Brooklyn skyline, complete with trees, behind the set to give the village feel to the preshow.  “You can’t have a black curtain back here,” he said, showing off the attention to detail that makes Sesame Street Live! Let’s Party a new theatrical experience, a new show. — Linda Deckard


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IDENTIFYING ATTENDEES VS. TICKET BUYERS
 
Posted: 9 Nov 2017, 6:00 pm

phone-tapping-enclosure-final[4].pngPresence, a new ticketing system recently unveiled by Ticketmaster, will check spectators into events using smartphone audio data. The technology promises all kinds of benefits for all kinds of stakeholders. For attendees, Ticketmaster says, it will mean shorter lines and exceptional convenience. For sports and entertainment providers, it will mean the chance to capture data on people in each seat. Knowing preferences in dates, seats, concessions and other purchases will give purveyors a big leg up in marketing to their customers.
The question is: Does Presence really represent breakthrough technology?  Opinions differ.
Sounding less than impressed with Presence is Denver-based Maureen Andersen, president and CEO of INTIX, the 38-year-old, Indianapolis, Ind.-based professional association representing the ticketing industry. “The premise isn't that much different from deploying a ticket to your phone in general,” she said. “I had to question myself in how different it is from Flash Seats, or any other barcode- or QR code-centric solution.
“Having the ability to transfer the ticket to other users, or a portion of their order to other users is not new. I'm all for new technology and am all ears when Ticketmaster announces they have new technology. But what I'd like to know is, is anyone currently using this ticketing system? Is it in beta?”
Andersen also says she doesn't understand the claim that this product shortens lines. “That seemed a really odd statement to me when they made it,” she asserted. “The ticket line may be shorter, but you still have a security line.”
With every technology-enabled ticket innovation that comes to the industry, she adds, her first question is what will the technology do for the customer and the customer experience. What she's interested in is technology that supports the customer's needs and purposes, as well as transparency that makes attendees feel comfortable. “Everybody is continually trying to do that,” she said. “As an industry, we keep trying to do that. The value is in the journey. And as long as we keep trying to do it better for the customer to, we as an industry win.”
Still, she dares Ticketmaster to show off its differences and convince folks it really is a game changer at an upcoming trade show. The perfect place and time, she asserted, is Baltimore Jan. 23-25, 2018. “Tell them to bring it to INTIX, and show it off there,” she said.

BEGGING TO DIFFER
Taking a different view of Presence and its status as a game changer is Tony Knopp, co-founder and CEO of InviteManager, a Ticketmaster-affiliated company with headquarters in Calabasas, Calif., and offices in Chicago, New York City and Washington, D.C.
Asked to name what Presence offers that we've not seen before, Knopp answered, “Everything.”
“This is significantly different,” he said. “Breakthrough technology generally has one of two characteristics. It solves a major problem or trades convenience for data. For years, sports teams have wanted to know exactly who is in their seats, so they can market to them more effectively and sell them more stuff. Google and Apple found a way to trade convenience for data. That's what Ticketmaster is doing. We're going to make it so easy for you when you enter a game. You can buy a beer, buy a souvenir, have access to your seat without even pulling your phone out of your pocket. They've made it so easy for all people willingly give up their data.”     
Ticketmaster Presence is not the only product attempting to attain these objectives, he added. The company's chief competitors — among them AXS Veritix, Tickets.com, SeatGeek and Paciolan – are all competing to achieve the same goal.
AXS Veritix's magnetic stripe entry was just another way for entertainment and sports entities to determine who is sitting where, so they could more effectively target market to those individuals. The trick is doing so without harming the fan or attendee experience.  “Mag stripe showed up 10 years ago, because that was the technology we had then,” Knopp said. 

HOT DEBATE
Among those particularly furious about the technology are ticket brokers, who argue that Presence and other ticketing systems currently in development are not in the best interests of fans. “Let's be honest,” Knopp added. “You're ticket brokers. It's not in your best interests.”
At essence, Presence reignites a debate about just what the definition of a ticket is. “That was argued in the California courts, when StubHub sued [National Basketball Association team] the Golden State Warriors and Ticketmaster, with the basis of the suit being the question of whether tickets are a license or an owned property,” Knopp said. “The court sided with a license, and I agree.”
But demonstrating just how hotly contested this debate is, Knopp pointed out that while he believes a ticket is a license, his company's co-founder believes it is an owned property.
But there's no question sports teams, to cite one example, will benefit from the insights gleaned into who is in what seat. If they know for instance, that Fan A attends Los Angeles-area Major League Baseball night games in mid-week, buys six to eight beers at each game and doesn't buy souvenirs, and Fan B attends weekend afternoon games, purchases lots of sodas and hot dogs and carts home a bunch of souvenirs, they know a great deal. Fan A is likely single and Fan B a family man taking children to a game. The team can more effectively market and promote to each of those fans' interests and priorities, Knopp said.

TICKETMASTER'S STANCE
Calling Ticketmaster Presence “the next generation venue access control and fan engagement platform,” executive vice president of product for Ticketmaster North America Justin Burleigh said Ticketmaster considered the paper ticket both old-fashioned and anonymous. It also opened up fans to more instances of fraud with every live event.
Ticketmaster knew the identity of the ticket buyer, not the seat holder. The Ticketmaster team “realized the entire live event experience could be improved and more personalized if the paper ticket was replaced with technology,” he said. “Now, Presence provides insights into the full-chain of custody of a ticket, helping to solve these types of core problems that have plagued the industry for decades. With Ticketmaster Presence, we’re now able to decrease fraud, increase venue security and drive knowledge around new, incremental fans.”
To date, more than two million fans have entered venues using Presence software technology with zero instances of fraud, Burleigh added. Presence is slated to continue roll-out through 2017 and 2018, with plans underway for worldwide expansion.
Knopp said there is going to be “a lot of kicking and screaming for a little while. And some of it will be valid, but most will be coming from retailers, ticket brokers and marketplaces. But the competitors are doing the same thing; they have their own technologies they're developing, and they'll compete, and the controversy will eventually go away.
“But Ticketmaster will take the brunt of the controversy while it lasts.”

 


LETTER FROM MAUREEN ANDERSEN

As with all of you, I am horrified, deeply saddened and wounded at a core level that our simple world of entertainment and enjoyment has been so brutally shattered following the senseless Las Vegas attack. However, we are a people, an industry and a profession of action, and our new world order demands that we must pick up the gauntlet of change and take on the challenge of revamping, reordering and recharging our venues and our business.   We will take on this challenge to provide safety and assurance for our audiences and our performers because it is important to us and to the world.
Entertainment, music, theatre, joy and laughter will prevail, as it always has, because it is the hallmark of a society and our culture. We will stand together to make the changes necessary to our infrastructures that will continue to provide safe, inviting and accessible environments.
Our program is expanded and enhanced this year with new opportunities to engage with each other as attendees; to engage with our vendors and exhibitors; to share innovative technologies; and to consume educational content that is stimulating and thought provoking.

BY THE NUMBERS
• Sold out exhibition hall with 65+ technology vendors and industry suppliers
• NEW: Technology Pavilion, filling fast, with festival space for vendor kiosks 
• NEW: Innovation Technology Stage for demonstrations of new technologies
• 30 knowledge based 60- and 90-minute education workshops
• 16 Inspiration Stage bite-sized 15-minute educational presentations
• Awards and Celebrations
INTIX is proud to announce our opening and closing keynotes with timely and important speakers. 
Opening the 39th Annual INTIX Conference and Exhibition on Tuesday, Jan. 24, will be a powerful keynote from Melanie Pearlman, executive director of the Counterterrorism Education Leaning Lab (CELL). This is a not-to-be-missed keynote. 
Rounding out INTIX 2018 will be Mike Lorenc, Head of Industry – Ticketing, Sports & Live Events, Google on Thursday, Jan. 25.  Mike will present The Pivot to Digital and highlight the growth of mCommerce, emerging trends in digital marketing and technology and the power of technology to drive event discovery.   
INTIX has a new strategic, long-range plan and a clear purpose:  To Ignite Success! INTIX has been visiting, and will continue to visit, regional ticketing and industry groups throughout the rest of the year.  We look forward to seeing you at one of these events and certainly at INTIX 2018 in Baltimore in January.  If you haven’t been to INTIX, come see what we have to offer.  If you haven’t been to INTIX in the past few years, come back and try us out again. We promise you a new experience with greater breadth, depth and experiences!  Join us in Baltimore Jan. 23-25, 2018 at the Baltimore Hilton. Register at www.intix.org/pag


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U.S. BANK STADIUM CELEBRATES INAUGURAL YEAR
 
Posted: 9 Nov 2017, 5:00 pm

There were many signs Minneapolis’ 66,200-seat U.S. Bank Stadium would be a success story in its first year.
It began even before the National Football League’s Minnesota Vikings hit the field or the first sold out concert was held. It began when the stadium’s two-day open house in July 2016 brought in 190,000 visitors to check out the city’s newest venue.
It was a fitting kickoff for its first three major events, which had their own impressive accomplishments. For the International Champions Cup soccer match between A.C. Milan vs. Chelsea F.C., natural grass was successfully installed and maintained atop the artificial turf, not an easy feat.
Another real test was hosting two sold-out concerts — country singer Luke Bryan and heavy metal band Metallica—in less than 24 hours.
Icing on the cake was the Minnesota Vikings’ triumph over the San Diego Chargers at home on Aug. 28, 2016, in their first pre-season game, followed by a victorious home opener against the Green Bay Packers on Sept. 18.
It was just a glimpse of what was to come in the first year, as 1.6 million people attended more than 600 public and private events at U.S. Bank Stadium.
“The big test was opening with a sold out international soccer game, then hosting the back-to-back concerts just a couple weeks later,” said Jerry Goldman, assistant general manager of the stadium for SMG, which was contracted by the Minnesota Sports Facility Authority, the stadium’s owner, to manage its opening and operation in 2014. 
“Another testament to our success was the December Monster Jam event. This sold out so quickly, we added a second night, and Feld Motorsports did a record of over $3 million.”
Yet another early victory was locking in the four-day Summer X Games, a first for a stadium, for two consecutive summers. The extreme sports competition and festival included a two-week load in, pouring temporary concrete skate parks, hauling in 8,000 yards of dirt and constructing an 82-foot mega ramp. The competitions were globally broadcast and attended by 110,000 visitors.
“The X Games was the most unique event,” said Patrick Talty, the stadium’s general manager/SMG. “It showed both the versatility and uniqueness of the building and how we approach things outside of the box.”
Yet to come is the pinnacle, Super Bowl LII, which U.S. Bank Stadium will take on in February 2018.
“This past year, we hosted more than 650 events, from four signature trade shows to weddings and product launches, all in addition to the 10 Vikings home games,” said Goldman. “We had four scheduled concerts this summer, including sold out Guns ‘N Roses and U2 shows.”

A New Beginning
At 1.8 million square feet, U.S. Bank Stadium is twice the size of its predecessor, the Metrodome. It also includes more club and circulation space.
The downtown location has been ideal, with 13,000 stadium visitors utilizing the light rail this year.
Talty was the first U.S. Bank Stadium employee hired in 2015, before the venue was built.
“This was supposed to be a multipurpose venue for the state and people of Minnesota, and that’s what it has become,” he said. “It was an amazing experience getting the team and building up and running, and the highlight was seeing the stadium live up to its billing.”
Being chosen to host the year’s most highly anticipated and watched sporting event was not taken lightly. Planning for the Super Bowl began the first day the stadium was up and running. It was a big advantage that the venue’s other assistant general manager, John Drum, had been part of two Super Bowls at the University of Phoenix Stadium in 2008 and 2015.
“[The National Football League (NFL) representatives] came out here to watch Vikings games and other events to see how this building will be transformed and operated,” said Drum. “It’s always exciting, but it takes a lot of planning when a brand new building is brought online.”
U.S. Bank Stadium’s design is conducive to a wide range of events, big and small. Retractable seats have enabled the stadium to host 140 baseball games in 52 calendar days. It also has held 95 days of community events, including band and high school football competitions.
“We’re not making a lot of money with these events, but we know it’s the right thing to do and part of the mission as to why the stadium was built,” said Talty. “The X Games was the most unique event, because it showed both the versatility and uniqueness of the building and how we approach things outside the box.
What also sets the stadium apart is its five main clubs, which are on separate levels and of various sizes to host different events at the same time.

Inaugural Year Highlights
This is one facility that has been put to the test with quick turnarounds. In addition to the back-to-back Luke Bryan/Metallica shows, it more recently held a U2 concert on a Friday night and the Vikings’ season opener the following Monday evening.
U.S. Bank Stadium has already served as an asset to the community. The venue held 13 youth football events August through December as well as in-line skating and running for 17 events in the winter months.
Over 140 college and high school baseball games were played at the facility in its first season, with nearly 30,000 fans in attendance across all games. In May and June, U.S. Bank Stadium hosted the inaugural season of Party on the Plaza, a free outdoor concert series for the public. 
Due to its flexible design, the stadium also has brought in a significant amount of convention center-type business.
“Compared with other stadiums, we’re marketing ours in a different way locally,” said Lisa Niess, the stadium’s marketing and communications manager. “As a result, we do many corporate meetings, weddings, conventions, trade shows and consumer shows.”
Despite a strong start, the stadium has not been without challenges. One has been a critique of the acoustics during concerts due to its large size.
“We’re a big building, so we heard from some concert goers that there was echoing,” said Goldman. “We will be addressing this issue before the next run of concerts.”
Booking concerts also tends to be more difficult, because only a handful of promoters work with stadium shows.
Consequently, the stadium has been positioned as being promoter-friendly.
“We make an effort to stay in front of promoters,” said Goldman. “And considering we have a roof, performers don’t have to worry about the elements. We can book concerts year-round here.”
Interest in the stadium is palpable from the public’s standpoint, with more than 86,000 people from all 50 states participating in the facility’s public tour program.
“Whenever you open a new building, no matter what the capacity, it will experience growing pains,” said Goldman. “You don’t know until you get people in how it will flow and function. Everything looks great on paper, but there are always things that need to be tweaked.”
By listening to the public and paying close attention to how the building operates, adaptations have been made to improve operations, such as crowd control at concession stands.
“Opening a building comes with all kinds of challenges, so year two will be about looking to find efficiencies now that we’re up and running,” said Niess. “With all of the opportunities for events, it’s a great problem to have.”
Content is already finalized for year two. Along with the 52nd Super Bowl, the stadium will play host to home and custom car shows as well as an RV show, two Monster Truck events, Supercross, state high school championships for football and soccer, four to five concerts and another Party on the Plaza series, which will be expanded on over the summer.
“I’m extremely proud of the staff we’ve put together and how they’ve grown into one of the best teams in the country,” said Goldman. “I’m excited to see what the future holds.”

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STADIUM SCORES ON SUSTAINABILITY

U.S. Bank Stadium is currently working through LEED certification as part of its sustainability plan. The certification is in progress.
“U.S. Bank Stadium is creating best practices with our sustainability initiative that will become the standard in the NFL,” said Curtis Schmillen, director of operations for SMG.
As a part of this effort, waste management is a key piece of day-to-day operations as well as decreasing the amount of landfill waste.
The stadium’s sustainability efforts and accomplishments include:

• The first stadium to be designated a Bicycle-Friendly Business.
• The first sport facility to partner with Recycle Across America (RAA). Recycling rates
have gone up 11% from the year one average after the installation of RAA signage.
• Reducing the venue’s carbon footprint in water reduction, energy efficiency, waste
diversion and sustainable purchasing.
• A green cleaning policy requiring all cleaning products and cleaning machinery to be
at acceptable environmental standards.
• Donation of 489 meals to date from unused, still edible food from the kitchens.
• Using water bottle fillers on the concourses to divert 168,174 bottles of water from
being used.
• 100% post-consumer paper in all offices. From August of 2016 to August 2017,
paper consumption dropped 68%, which is roughly 80,000 sheets of paper.
• A bag color policy (i.e. white bags for trash, green for compost and blue for
recycling) helps eliminate confusion among staff members and keeps the waste
streams accurate and clean.


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THE LIFE AND TIMES OF KEVIN TWOHIG
 
Posted: 9 Nov 2017, 5:00 pm

A strategic thinker all his life, Kevin Twohig, who is retiring from his role as CEO of Spokane, Wash., Public Facilities District (SPFD) by the end of the year, has a go-forth plan in place.
While the board is actively engaged in replacing Twohig, hopefully before the end of October, they are also transitioning his role so he can stay on to oversee completion of renovation of INB Performing Arts Center, which will probably mean fulltime work through the majority of 2018.
It’s a role that fits very much into his core strengths. “I do people, problems, projects and politics. That’s my life,” Twohig said.
His entire career has been in Spokane, starting with the 1974 World’s Fair, when he worked for Mike Kobluk, following him into management of the Opera House (now the INB PAC) and the old coliseum, which was replaced in 1995 by the new Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena, a project that is all Twohig’s and was the foundation for formation of SPFD, which he heads.
Mike Kobluk, retired, recalls those early days. He first hired Twohig at Gonzaga University to help with a slide show. Twohig, ever entrepreneurial, was a student with his own sound company, Second Wind. “A year later I was running events at the World’s Fair and Kevin wanted to have Second Wind involved. We talked and I kind of hired him,” Kobluk said.
That began a 43-year career for Twohig. “We have facilities second to none in Spokane and a great deal of the responsibility for that goes to Kevin,” Kobluk said.
On this decision to retire, Twohig said, “I’ve been working in these facilities since 1974. I felt I have contributed as much as I can as CEO. I’ve got the district in a very comfortable spot where it can go on for many more years and be financially and programmatically successful. And I just felt I’d done enough of being the one who gets called at 2 a.m., who’s on call 24/7, 365.”
If he does anything more after 2018, it will probably be something to do with USA Volleyball. “Volleyball has always been my passion,” Twohig said.
Twohig played volleyball for 30 years, enjoying it as a release from the event business. “It completely changed my mindset, put me in a different place and dealt with the stress issues that go with this job. It’s always been the other outlet, my other interest.”
Accolades continue to roll in for Twohig, both from volleyball, where he is a Frier Award winner; from the Washington State Public Facilities Districts Association, which he helped found; and from the International Association of Venue Managers (IAVM), where he has been honored with the prestigious McElravy Award for his outstanding contributions to the industry and the association. He anticipates a lifelong commitment to all those associations. “If you’re a McElravy Award winner, you’ll always be involved,” he said.

PEOPLE
The people he works with, the guests that come in the front door and the clients that come in the back door, are the reasons he loves the event business. Whether it’s a concert, Broadway play or convention, “these things are fun; fun to do. There are always challenges.”
This past year, the challenge was conversion to metal detectors and a higher level of security, an exercise all venues are going through.
While he believes he handles all four core strengths well, Twohig will admit “the one I’ll miss the most is being here with the people every day because, essentially, I hired every one of them.”
In 2003, Twohig led the charge to transfer operation of the arena from the city of Spokane to the Spokane Public Facilities District, a new and autonomous municipal corporation.
“At that time, we went through the entire employee selection process,” he recalled. There was no automatic rehire. Every role was advertised publically and both in-house and out-of-house candidates were considered.
“What emerged was a phenomenal team, most of whom are still here,” Twohig said with pride. “That was one of my favorite things: to completely tear apart and reassemble a team who all had a similar understanding of our goals, objectives, mission and how we would operate. A lot of people had been with the city for a long time and could not get themselves into a private sector mentality. A private company isn’t as protective or as forgiving. We have high expectations for our empolyees,  and every team we put in place is pretty darn good at executing the drill.”
Matt Gibson, who has risen to the role of GM of the Spokane Arena, is part of that team and in tune with Twohig’s management style. “Kevin has given me an enormous amount of latitude. Some things he handles personally, but for the most part when it comes to booking the event and getting the building a voice, he’s allowed me to build my team and run this building on the event side with a lot of autonomy. That speaks to his leadership ability. It’s a mentor position. He brings people along and makes you work for it.”

PROBLEMS
“A year ago, when we were putting in our metal detectors, we had a pretty significant challenge with the sheriff, who decided he didn’t have to comply with what everyone else did,” Twohig said. “We went through a fairly high profile discussion, re-crafting some of our policies, that has emerged successfully where people feel more comfortable being in our buildings than they did before.”
The issue in Spokane was not that different from other places in the country. The venues had had a no-weapons policy since the arena opened 22 years ago. But it wasn’t until the metal detectors were installed that they found out how many people were ignoring the ban. Among them were off-duty police and sheriff’s department officers.
The controversy “developed my relationship with the sheriff to a whole new level of respect and understanding,” Twohig said. “I understand where he’s coming from and I think he understands where I’m coming from. We allowed him to decide which off-duty sheriff’s officers should be allowed into the building with their weapons.
“Because of the political decision we made with the sheriff and police department, we now issue a permit to whomever they designate among off-duty staff.”

POLITICS
SPFD originated with the need to secure state funding through a district to build the arena in the early 1990’s. Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena became a reality because of the SPFD. In 2003, the district was asked to take on the convention center and performing arts center, which had continued to operate as city venues.
At that point, the state was making some money available to communities building or expanding convention centers, but the money was only available to districts, not to cities. The number of districts in the state was expanding rapidly.
It required an extensive negotiation with the city to make it possible for the district to take over. The arena was generating a steady operating profit and doing very well. The city’s performing arts center and convention center were both losing a lot of money and had tons of deferred maintenance.
“In that negotiation with the city, we had to make sure the district wouldn’t take on the financial burden because we knew we would want to expand the convention center and when you make a building losing money bigger, it generally loses more money,” Twohig said.
When the deal was done, it actually improved the district’s overall financial position. Having looked closely at the books for both buildings, Twohig knew the district would probably continue losing money at the convention center but could probably turn around the performing arts center and operate at a profit. “The city didn’t think we could and pretty much gave the district everything we asked for. For the first time, the district had control of the city’s lodging tax. There were very positive things about the political negotiations that came out well for the district,” Twohig said.
Most recently, Twohig, along with other district administrators in the state, was instrumental in extending the state sales tax rebate earmarked for PFD’s another 15 years. To accomplish that, Twohig helped organize the state’s PFD’s into a lobbying group and they lobbied to extend the rebate.
“In June 2017, that passed and the governor signed it, so we have another 15 years of state sales tax rebates to help cover the capital costs for these buildings,” Twohig said. “We could bond it today for $43 million. The performing arts center renovation will be funded out of that.”

CRYSTAL-BALL THINKING
Whether it’s Broadway shows, hockey games or concerts, the industry is not going to change that much in the next 10 years, Twohig predicted. “The demand is there. We have a steady clientele.”
But he foresees that sports will have to change a bit. Hockey, for example, has to find a way to capture the next generation. “They’ve already missed the millennials. The season ticketholders are all middle aged and older. They have to find a way to appeal to the next generation that has money, but is tied to their phones 24/7 and looking for a shared experience of some kind,” he said.
Venues will continue to evolve and provide more and more connectivity, more and more interaction with guests and performers, something that adds layers of dimension to the event. Twohig believes we have a whole generation coming along that will demand that experience.
But that will be for the next generation of leaders to determine in Spokane.

 

 

KEVIN’S CAREER-DEFINING PROJECT

Kevin Twohig’s role as owner representative when building the Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena, stands as his career highlight. “I had a lot to say about how the building operated, how many loading docks there would be, how many seats,” recalls Twohig, CEO, Spokane Public Facilities District.
Little things, like whether the admin staff for the arena or the hockey team would be in the arena — because there was only room for one — stand out. “We put the hockey team in the building so there would be an ownership and commitment to being in there and we wouldn’t be worried about losing our hockey team. And we bought an adjacent office building and connected it to the arena, so our folks have wonderful access,” Twohig said.
Early on, Twohig upgraded the arena’s load-in. “We put in the ability to load and unload eight trucks simultaneously and added a large marshalling area. Five trucks back right up to loading docks, three can drive in and you can get an entire semi inside the building and close the outside door and be loading almost immediately onto the back of the stage. We’ve been copied since, but we were the first to have that kind of access built in,” he remembered.
Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena is a single concourse building. “There was a lot of talk about a suite level, but I knew where our budget was and had a good idea what another level would cost. When you come into our building, you’re coming in on the main level. Stairs go up or down to seating. In a wheelchair, you will never see a stairway.”
The arena also boasts a super extensive rigging grid throughout the entire floor, so a show can rig easily and drop a chain motor down almost anywhere they need one. “We also put in elevator access onto the grid so someone going up to work on the grid isn’t all worn out from climbing stairs when they get there,” Twohig said.
Twohig takes pride in having built a venue that functions as well as possible for its clients. Twohig has a theatrical background, so he also worked to make the building very dark, so the focus of the guest is on the performance occurring.
You can hear in his voice, as he talks of that decades-old project (the new arena opened in 1995) that the upcoming renovation of INB Performing Arts Center, a project he will likely take on fulltime after retiring as CEO of the SPFD, is going to be his next best project ever.
“Kevin loves projects. He is a project guy and does a great job at it. That’s Kevin’s wheelhouse. Renovating the old Opera House, where Kevin’s career started, is a natural for him,” said Jack Lucas, TicketsWest and WestCoast Entertainment, who has worked with Twohig for decades.
If he had the arena project on his plate to do over again, he would double the size of the concourse and make sure there was more space outside of the concourse for full food courts. “I would upgrade areas where arenas are making money for their owners. We’re operating our buildings on popcorn, beer and parking, so I would make sure those features were well done,” Twohig said.
Mat Gibson, GM, Spokane Arena, noted that touring the arena with Twohig recently, he remarked that they left the plastic windows with the hole in the screen in the box office. “I said why? He said because it’s the box office. But why? It’s not like there’s gobs of cash in there. Kevin cocked his head and said you’ve got a point. He’s a traditionalist. He very much enjoys you still call them vomitories in the arena. And, on the other hand, he’s always looking forward to the next best thing. What will make the guest want to come back? He likes updating things and making them more relevant.”
That’s why they’re revamping the concourse level in the arena and making a very big food and beverage area that is more a hangout space than a concessions stand. And they’re adding Asian wraps and gas-fired pizza ovens.
“Kevin understands people are looking for the experience now. It’s not about the event anymore. It’s about what you do when you’re here,” Gibson said.
“He’s an expert and any time an organization loses that expert that you can always turn to, it’s a loss for all of us and we’ll miss him very much.”


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CUISINE IMPROVES THE FAN EXPERIENCE
 
Posted: 9 Nov 2017, 5:00 pm

HB2 took the wind out of the live-touring sails in North Carolina last year, taking it, and sister-state South Carolina, down four percent from the previous year. With the repeal of HB2, North Carolina is slowly climbing out of the downturn the ‘bathroom bill’ brought; South Carolina is also on an uptick.  Neighbor-state Georgia is swinging along nicely, showing a healthy 13 percent increase from last year. Everyone in the region is glad to see HB2 go and most are hopeful its repeal will satisfy acts and fans who were boycotting the region.
Bob Klaus, GM, Durham (N.C.) Performing Arts Center (DPAC), said the venue had its second highest attendance since opening in 2008. “We had a record number of concerts, comedy shows and special events and our Broadway shows continue to help us rank among the top theater venues in America,” he said.
Klaus said having “something for everyone” was the key to DPAC’s success. Highlights included three sold-out shows by Chris Rock, as well as headliners Joe Bonamassa, Bob Dylan, Tony Bennett, Earth, Wind & Fire and Il Divo.
Broadway favorites included “The King and I,” “Finding Neverland,” and “Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas Musical.”
Overall, the average ticket price among the 220-plus events was $55-$60. “As VIP packages become more and more popular, we’re seeing top prices grow, but we always try and balance those with special pricing for students, seniors and audiences who buy multishow packages like our very popular SunTrust Broadway at DPAC season ticket package,” said Klaus.
This past year marked DPAC’s first year with a new food and beverage provider — Spectra. “Per caps were up by about 10 percent,” he said.  “We love the new teamwork with our local manager, Affonso Jefferson, and with Spectra’s regional team headed by Doug Drewes and Dave Anderson.”
Among the new products introduced were grab-and-go sandwiches, which have been a huge hit, along with added dessert items including cake pops and cupcakes.
DPAC has an operating agreement with the city of Durham that includes a dedicated facility fee on every ticket sold for improvements and maintenance. “This summer we upgraded our seating and carpet throughout the venue as part of a $1.8 million improvement project,” said Klaus.
Spectra took over management of the Macon (Ga.) Centreplex, Coliseum & Auditorium last year.  “We did really well this year,” said David Aiello, GM. “Now that we’ve been here a year, the industry is starting to notice that Macon is selling tickets.” Aiello said the center saved the county $700,000 on their yearly budgeted deficit, compared to prior years.
Hot shows included Vince Gill, ZZ Top, Mike Epps, Justin Moore, Jason Aldean and Kevin Hart.
The operating budget last year was $1.3 million. Tickets ranged from $30-$80.
One of Spectra’s priorities when they arrived was putting together a five-year capital improvement plan. They’ve already updated infrastructure and have issued an RFP for new lighting and a new basketball floor. The five-year budget for improvements is $5 million for the coliseum, and $12 million for the auditorium.
Macon Centreplex recently won back the rights to host High School State Basketball Tournaments. “We’re expecting them back at the end of the year,” he said.
F&B is similarly picking up speed and done in-house. “We renovated concession stands,” he said. “When we got here, there were only two fully functioning stands and now we are up to four.” New POS systems, provided by Bypass, were also installed. In the auditorium, new kitchen equipment has been ordered. “This will give us the opportunity to increase our catering operation and increase our revenue.”
Specialty drinks were a hot item last year.  For Kevin Hart they created “Seriously Funny,” which was gin, apple pucker, sour mix and pineapple; Fantasia fans got to purchase “The Definition,” which was vodka, peach and apple schnapps and lemonade; Mary J. Blige guests were served “Real Love,” a combination of double crown apple and choice of mixer; and Keith Sweat & Johnny Gill supporters got to sip on a “My My Mai Tai.”
Scott Johnson, deputy director, Greensboro (N.C.) Coliseum Complex, said they also had “a very good year.” He believes they were “up marginally” and cites HB2 as the reason for the solid, if not spectacular, returns.
Justin Moore, Lee Brice, Twenty One Pilots, Florida Georgia Line, Winter Jam and Eric Church were standouts.  Guns N’ Roses played the first-ever BB&T Field concert and sold-out.
The budget is “around $9 million to run eight venues on the complex.” There were 1,100 events spread over the venues. A new $79.5-million performing arts center is currently being built and will open in 2019. The new facility is a public/private enterprise. “The city is in for $40 million and the other $39.5 million is coming from the private sector,” said Johnson.
Spectra is the venue concessionaire. “Per caps have been going up,” he said. “Beer continues to be the big driver at concerts.” New concessions include a Popeye’s Chicken and Moe’s Southwestern Grill continues to be a big seller. The complex uses Bypass for payments and Oui Vend for merchandise sales.
The complex is almost at 100 percent usage of wanding and they’ve purchased 20 new magnetometers, all portable units, from Ceia, which cost $110,000.
“We were one of the cities that was most impacted by Hurricane Matthew last year,” said Jim Grafstrom, GM, Crown Complex, Fayetteville, N.C. “We faced cancellations and rescheduling; it was absolutely the biggest challenge we faced last year.” One of the cancellations was psychic Theresa Caputo. “Of course the running joke here and on Facebook was that she should have known ahead of time and warned us.”
Still, the complex achieved their budget for the year. “We were proud of the fact that we could manage that even with many of the residents facing financial hardship and given disposable income in the market was severely impacted,” he said.
Big shows were Foreigner, Luke Bryan, Lauren Hill, Hall & Oats and Vince Gill. Ticket prices ranged from $20-$125. The operating budget for the complex was $4.6 million.
The tenant hockey team, Fayetteville Fireantz, were bought and renamed Fayetteville Marksman. “We signed them to a five-year deal, and we’re excited to see what the rebranding will bring,” Grafstrom said.
The F&B contract is currently in the RFP process; the venue has been with Centerplate since 1997. “The Cumberland County Civic Commission chose to go to RFP to make sure they have the best deal in place and the best service for our customers,” said Grafstrom. “We are looking for innovation in our products, localization, fresh, and affordable. We want to stay on the leading edge of the trends.”
The coliseum is celebrating its 20th anniversary, the expo hall has been active for 30 years and the theater and arena are in their 50th year of operation. “With the buildings being so old, we are definitely looking at major capital improvements,” he said. “We’re currently doing a needs assessment.”
Although slightly down from last year, Allan Vella, GM, Fox Theatre, Atlanta, said,  “It was a very good year. We were very fortunate with good programming and good response.”
Comedy and Broadway were strong. Hot shows were Brian Wilson, Louis C.K., Chance The Rapper, Cirque Holidays, “Matilda,” and a new eSports event in conjunction with Turner Sports. “The tickets blew-out when we sent the first email,” he said. Twelve thousand tickets were sold over three days.
Last year Fox Theatre went in a new F&B direction by hiring chef Michael Giovanni. “People are looking for upscale items today; we reduced the quantity but increased the quality,” said Vella, referring mostly to alcohol. “We introduced upscale vodkas and whiskeys and local brews.” Fox Theatre also added an app that allows in-seat ordering.
The Marquee Club, a new premium space, will open in the fall. “It cost several million dollars and opens up a part of the historic structure that revisits a terrace on the roof, a 1920’s feature,” he said.
Vella is looking forward to hosting Broadway hit “Hamilton.” Subscriptions increased 100 percent, he said.
“It was a great year,” said Trey Feazell, EVP, programming, Philips Arena, Atlanta. “We were up in revenue, up in shows; it was one of our best years ever.”
Highlights were Bon Jovi, Radiohead, Red Hot Chili Peppers and the Weeknd.
Feazell said the biggest trend he’s seen is “a lot more solid acts hitting the road.”
Philips Arena is currently undergoing a $200-million renovation project. “We’re currently in the first phase, which is demo,” he said. “We closed the building in June and we’ll open back up in October.”
Phase two, cleaning up, is next. Phase three, starting in April, will see the venue shutting down again until October 2018. “We’ll reopen with a totally transformed building,” he said. “There will be new clubs, a revamped food program and unique new concepts like a Killer Mike barbershop and Swing Suites, which will have Top Golf simulators in them and a Zac Brown-branded bar.” F&B is provided by Levy Restaurants.
“It was the best year in the history of the arena,” said Lexie Boone, senior AGM, Colonial Life Arena, Columbia, S.C. “We had more shows and great acts.”
Red Hot Chili Peppers, Stevie Nicks, Luke Bryan and Carrie Underwood were standouts.
The arena changed concessionaires on July 1, replacing Centerplate with Aramark.
“Aramark took over the concessions for all of athletics,” he said. “They hit the ground running and have replaced the technology and POS systems, and we’re going through a process of rebranding.”
Capital improvements include a new center-hung scoreboard and a new 360-degree curved ribbon display. “We did a multimedia rights deal with IMG last year, and we’re also upgrading some of the static signage,” he said.
Boone was also thrilled with the performance of the arena’s basketball tenants, the men’s and women’s Gamecocks. “We had tremendous success with our teams this year; the men’s team made it to the Final Four and the women’s team won the National Championship.”
Colonial Life Arena was awarded the NCAA first and second rounds for 2019.
Sandie Aaron, managing director, Cobb Energy Performing Arts Center, Atlanta,  said, “We did very well last year. We surpassed 2015-2016.” Aaron believes the number of ticketed events, 168, up by 13 from the previous year, was responsible for the bump.
The PAC expanded the diversity of their events last year. “We had a 3 Doors Down show and over 70 percent were first time ticket buyers,” she said, delighted. “We feel like we’ve expanded our reach.”
Comedy did well last year, as did their tenants, the opera and ballet, which each did four productions. Aaron was surprised by the success of three sold-out K-pop shows and sold-out shows for YouTube stars imomosohard and Dan TDM.
F&B went well and “we really tried to be demographically sensitive,” said Aaron. “We started using unique vendors and we’ve tried expanding the offerings.”
Capital improvements included a new HVAC system. There are plans in place for new carpeting.
It was the center’s 10th anniversary, which was celebrated with “10 years, 10 Successes: A Decade in the Spotlight.” In their Marquee magazine, they highlighted a different success story each month. “One story highlighted a resident tenant; one story highlighted partnerships and collaborations; one was on sponsorships,” said Aaron. “It culminated in September with an open-house birthday bash featuring the opera and ballet.”
“It was a great year,” said Donna Julian, SVP, arena and event operations/GM, Spectrum Center, Charlotte, N.C. “We were up.”
Highlights included the Kellogg’s Gymnastics tour, Red Hot Chili Peppers, the last run of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, Neil Diamond and Kendrick Lamar. Julian said that the “mix of events” helped them succeed, and she liked “the diversity of events that came through last year.”
F&B is provided by Levy Restaurants. “We’re always trying to come up with new things,” she said. Innovative ideas put to the test were an in-house pretzel concept called The Twist, and a French-fries-in-a-brown-bag concept. “We offered different seasonings and you shake ‘em and go.” Craft beers were also big at Spectrum Center last year.
A five-year, $27.5 million, capital improvement plan is in its second year. Last year’s improvements included a new scoreboard, two four-corner boards and two LED rings in the bowl. The center also repurposed some of the old boards and put them in the main lobby. Over the summer, they swapped the locations of their fan shop and box office. “The fan shop is now on the main lobby and will have a Jordan-brand section,” she said.
Julian is excited by the return of NCAA basketball in March, which looked to be in jeopardy due to HB2, and the 2019 National Basketball Association All-Star game and men’s Atlantic Coast Conference Championships. “Things are looking good,” she said.

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WHAT WOULD YOU SAVE?

On the heels of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria, we asked our Southern state spotlight venue operators what they’d grab on the way out the door, aside from people, if they knew they had 20 minutes before a flood was going to hit.

Bob Klaus, GM, DPAC, Durham, N.C.
My laptop and phone.

David Aiello, GM, Macon (Ga.) Centreplex, Coliseum & Auditorium
Pictures of my daughter Sofie.

Scott Johnson, deputy director, Greensboro (N.C.) Coliseum Complex
My University of Wake Forest diploma.

Jim Grafstrom, GM, Crown Complex, Fayetteville, N.C.
Leadership awards that I’ve gotten from the company and the community.

Rebecca Bolton, GM, Durham (N.C.) Convention Center
I don’t have anything that can’t be reprinted. I’d grab my cell phone to help facilitate contacting the rest of my team.

Allan Vella, GM, Fox Theatre, Atlanta
I’d save a paddle that the ushers carry around that says “hush y’all” which we use instead of ringing the bell. I’d also save one of the doorman’s top hats.

Trey Faezell, EVP, programming, Philips Arena, Atlanta
My signed U2 poster.

Lexie Boone, senior AGM, Colonial Life Arena, Columbia, S.C.
Family photos and some other historical industry photos I’ve taken over the last 15 years.

Sandie Aaron, managing director, Cobb Energy Performing Arts Center, Atlanta
The hard drive from my computer. I’d be lost without it.

Donna Julian, SVP, arena and event operations/GM, Spectrum Center, Charlotte, N.C.
A framed version of a quote I love from Teddy Roosevelt I call ‘Daring Greatly” and some industry awards.

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GOOD RIDDANCE TO HB2

North Carolina’s now infamous HB2, known as “the bathroom bill,” had a major impact on the state with repercussions ranging from canceled concerts to the National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA) pulling games out of the state.
The bill was repealed in April and replaced with a toned-down version. Whether the slimmed-down repeal satisfied boycotting acts and fans and brought back business is still open to debate.
“We got hit hard last fall,” said Rebecca Bolton, GM, Durham (N.C.) Convention Center. “I’ve heard people say ‘it’s changed but it’s still not 100 percent acceptable,’
and there are still a lot of opinions about what’s happened with it.”
During the time the bill was in place, the city of Durham used print and media to campaign that “we are all welcoming to everyone in this community,” she said.
“We had several cancellations due to HB2,” said Donna Julian, SVP, arena and event operations/GM, Spectrum Center, Charlotte, N.C. “We had to get creative. We did some lower bowl shows, different sizing of shows to make up for it.” Julian said hosting the Big 3 basketball tournament “made up for some of the losses from losing NCAA events.”
  “We respect the entertainers’ positions,” she said. “Things appear to be calming down and we’re looking forward to getting back to normal following the repeal.”
Julian credits “the variety of events” with getting them through the HB2 crisis.
Bob Klaus, GM, DPAC, Durham, N.C., said the venue “never really lost any shows due to HB2” and that “many of the shows we host felt that appearing in North Carolina and using that appearance as a chance for advocacy was the more productive response; several performers donated significant proceeds to local groups who were opposed to the legislation.”
“We had cancellations because of HB2 earlier in the year,” said Scott Johnson, deputy director, Greensboro (N.C.) Coliseum Complex. “But we were able to salvage some shows and book others before the end of the fiscal year.”
“Things are starting to get back to normal,” he said. “We’re in talks with Cirque du Soleil to return, and we’re getting back NCAA men’s and women’s basketball.”


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Three Stooges Stage Show Going On Tour
 
Posted: 8 Nov 2017, 7:00 pm

The original 3 Stooges, which is now a stage show and soon to go out on a national tour.

The former MGM Grand, Las Vegas, live stage show, “The Three Stooges, Three-Actical, Three D's,” has been revived with a contemporary spin on a longtime favorite. 

Knight Entertainment Group (KEG) has become the exclusive licensee for The Three Stooges stage show, after striking a deal with C3 Entertainment Inc., which owns the property. The partnership will bring The Three Stooges back to the live stage for a traveling show titled “The Three Stooges, Three-Actical, Three D's'.”

"In addition to licensing the rights, C3 will be involved in every step by way of approving the script, concepts, acts and marketing, in addition to Knight Productions marketing," said Ani Khachoian, C3.

The Three Stooges will be experienced by fans in venues across the nation in a way that has never been seen before, he said. The show will include shorts and acts from the classic films, updated and interwoven in new storylines. Those in attendance will be part of the show and have the opportunity to experience real-time audience participation, including an interactive 3D pie fight. Fans will also be able to use their smartphones to affect what takes place on stage. 

The show will consist of The 3 Stooges classic characters Mo, Larry and Curly. There will be subtle changes to the show, including the introduction of women characters; one can be thought of as "Tarzan's Jane, or think of her as queen of the ape women," said Knight. In addition, there will be three women interwoven in the show, which will be extended to three acts. 

"We’re starting to schedule now, we have about 26 theaters across the nation that are expressing interest," said Rob Knight, executive producer of KEG. "We just picked up two more today that are in discussion."

Set dates have yet to be named and information of specific venues is not yet public. However, it is now known The Three Stooges is "going into Chicago and have two more inquiries in Chicago," said Knight. "We’re going into Oklahoma; we’re going into Philadelphia and have discussions of going to the Carolinas. We have a lot on the table right now."

KEG is confident in the marketing collateral available, saying social media marketing power behind the brand will point venue goers to the box offices. 

The Three Stooges live show has been booked by venues as small as 300 seats, as well as venues that seat roughly 1,200 guests. KEG has also been in discussion regarding half-arenas that seat 6,000 to 12,000. However, Knight believes that size audience will not best suit the technology and guest’s ability to view acts on stage. 

"Venues with up to about 2,000 seats are probably the best comfort zone to something like this," said Knight. "We also love the intimacy of 300-seat theaters."

“The Three Stooges, Three-Actical, Three D's” traveling tour is set to hit the road in 2018. KEG is currently taking presale holds for the show.

Proposed ticket prices are $30, $35 and $40. "Fifty-dollar meet and greets or a VIP add-on will include a real-time pie fight in the outdoor area of the venue for limited VIPs; this will include smocks and/or ponchos for participants as needed," said Knight.

Knight added that when the show hits its mark, the general average ticket price may be as high as $58 a ticket. However, this depends on the marketing that the venue has in its wheelhouse to support its regular general admissions scaling.  

 

 

 


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Curran Named Spokane District CEO
 
Posted: 8 Nov 2017, 7:00 pm

Stephanie_Curran_200x145.jpgStephanie Curran.

The Spokane (Wash.) Public Facilities District has named current Spokane Convention Center GM Stephanie Curran as incoming CEO, replacing retiring Kevin Twohig.

Curran has been an employee of the District since 2003 and has served in many roles ranging from event supervisor to AGM of the Spokane Convention Center and INB Performing Arts Center. She’s been the convention center GM since 2015.

The transition will occur February 1, 2018.

 


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Power Rangers Live To Tour In 2018
 
Posted: 8 Nov 2017, 7:00 pm

Saban's Power Rangers Live will tour North America in 2018.

When the staff at the Florida Theater, Jacksonville, found out that Saban’s Power Rangers Live was set to morph onto their stage next year, they went nuts.

“We are excited, and the staff here is of various ages. The fact that it’s the 25th anniversary of the Power Rangers, and we all had a favorite Power Ranger… It was nostalgic for all of us,” said Kathryn Wills, the director of marketing at the theater. “The staff members who have children; it’s interesting to even see their excitement.”

Tickets are now on sale for the interactive family-friendly show that opens to the public Feb. 17, 2018 at Comerica Theatre, Phoenix, Ariz., and will travel to 50 other venues throughout the United States and Canada. Ticket prices range from $38 to $77.50 or $169 for VIP passes, which includes a seat in the first 15 rows, a meet and greet with the Power Rangers cast, a gift and a healthy snack.

“Power Rangers Live incorporates state of the art video and technology, jaw-dropping live action stunts and amazing martial arts to make for a first class theater experience for Ranger fans of all ages,” Jonathan Shank, executive producer of Red Light Management, said in a statement. Red Light is a talent management company that partnered with the Power Rangers Live show.

The show hits the 1,900-set Florida Theater on March 7 next year.

“We had healthy presale for an event that’s in March,” Wills said, noting that she’s been marketing the show around Jacksonville in various forms, including email marketing and touting the event at Wasabicon that was in Jacksonville last month.

Wasabicon is a two-day conference that celebrates pop art and pop culture, including anime and other cartoon characters. Wills attended the event and heavily marketed the Power Rangers Live show coming up next year.

“There’s an underground market for the anime market, and it’s really grown,” she said. “To hear (people at Wasabicon) be excited that we’re bringing this show, it made me feel really proud of our theater.”

Six teens will “morph into the Power Rangers to help save cities and the world from an alien threat,” stated the press release.

“Instead of you engaging with them through a television screen, you’re going to engage with them live. They’re going to save Jacksonville,” Wills said with excitement. “It’s a stunt-filled, live event that’s family friendly.”

Power Rangers was created by Haim Saban and hit TV in 1993 and is one of the longest running kids' action series on television, according to the press release.

“Power Rangers Live, in partnership with Red Light Management and CAA, will be a celebration of Saban’s Power Rangers’ 25th Anniversary. Fans across the franchise’s 25-year history, from those who grew up with the original Mighty Morphin Power Rangers to our fans currently watching Power Rangers Ninja Steel, will connect with this action-packed, live Power Rangers experience,” Janet Hsu, CEO of Saban Brands, said in a statement.

The series is in its 24th season, called Power Rangers Ninja Steel. Power Rangers movies include 2017’s feature film with Lionsgate, which follows the adventures of a group of ordinary teens who morph into superheroes and save the world from evil. Power Rangers currently airs in 150 markets around the world and is translated into numerous languages.

Wills isn’t sure yet how the production will come together at the Florida Theater in March,  but she knows one thing — fans are pumped for the show and she looks forward to doing more marketing throughout the next several months.

“This (show) is a market we’re learning about,” she said. “We’ll reach out to more and more people as it gets closer. We’ll do more of that grassroots marketing.”

 

 

 

 


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Solano County Fair Pacts With FEMA
 
Posted: 8 Nov 2017, 7:00 pm

The fenced-off area on Solano fairgrounds, Vallejo, Calif., where FEMA will set up shop for temporary housing.

Solano County Fair, Vallejo, Calif., has entered into a $50,000, 18-month contract with the federal government to assemble and store temporary emergency housing on six acres of fairground property.

The mobile units that arrived previously, provided temporary housing for victims of the recent Napa and Sonoma County wildfires.

Steve_Haines_22.jpgStephen Hales, Solano County Fair, GM.

“They approached us in the middle of the whole firestorm fiasco,” said Stephen Hales, GM. “It seemed like a reasonable request and we were able to come to a reasonable accommodation.”

“This is what facilities like us do, and it’s what we are here for,” he said. “It seemed like a good fit. We quickly figured out we could operate with a slightly smaller footprint.”

The government-run section will solely house mobile or modular units. “There will be no people living on the property, just the trailers,” he said. It’s expected that FEMA will have a sizable crew working on the trailers and that it may run 24/7.

FEMA moved in on Nov. 4, following construction of a fence that will separate their portion of the property from the rest of the fairgrounds. “Part of the agreement was FEMA paying for the new fence,” he said.

Hales said the venue is used to being “a good community member” and that “part of the reason we were on their radar is because we’ve been operating a large-animal evacuation shelter for some time now.”

Just this year, the fairgrounds took in close to 600 animals, mostly from the wildfires that have burned through entire Northern California neighborhoods, including farms. “We’ve had cows, horses, cats, chickens, ducks and other animals,” said Hales.

Hales is not concerned with the FEMA project interfering with other fair activities. “They are taking over a portion of the facility that we’ve previously used for overflow parking,” he said. “It’s easily separated by the new fence; they will have their own entrance from one of our perimeter streets, and I’m satisfied that this deal will not impact any of our operations. What it mostly means is some people will have to walk a little farther. I expect next year’s fair to go on without anyone really noticing that the FEMA section is even there.”

Dennis Yen, VP of the fair board voted for the contract. “This deal was born out of the disaster from the fires up north,” he said. “We have 150 acres, some of which are undeveloped, and we determined that we could accommodate their requirements.”

“My first concern was that we’re in an urban area, and we didn’t want to alarm our residents and have them think we were building a place for strangers to come and camp out in, or build something that looked like a prison,” said Yen. “FEMA satisfied us that their intention was just to service vehicles, and it will be like a big RV yard.”

“FEMA will bring in the vehicles, rehab them, clean them and redeploy them back into the neighborhoods where they are needed,” he said.

Yen was also pleased with the security measures built into the contract. “FEMA will bring in private security and no one will be allowed on the property without clearance.”

No one knows what’s going to be needed for the next emergency and we’re happy to be part of the solution, he said.

Solano County Fair was held last Aug. 2-6 and saw around 40,000 people pass through its gates. The next fair will be on approximately the same dates in 2018.


 


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Hot Tickets for November 8, 2017
 
Posted: 8 Nov 2017, 6:00 pm

Alice Cooper played SMG-run Greek Theatre, Los Angeles.

Celebrating 40 years of touring Australia, Alice Cooper and special guest Ace Frehley played the Hordern Pavilion, Sydney, Oct. 21, awakening the ear drums of the 4,000 fans in attendance and grossing nearly $450,000. Cooper’s renowned love of horror continues to manifest in his performances with pyrotechnics, spider-filled eyes on the drop curtain, dark visuals and creepy dolls, which lined the stage. The caped Prince of Darkness, 69, proved that he is not ready to retire as he brought plenty of energy and charisma and delivered a rock show that left his audience walking away feeling exhausted.

The MTV hit show, Nick Cannon presents Wild ‘N Out Live, has gone back to the streets and made an appearance at Infinite Energy Arena, Duluth, Ga., Oct. 28. The near-capacity crowd enjoyed the show’s trademark mix of hilarious stand-up comedy, music, improvisation and a chance to go on stage for some head-to-head competitions, which has made this show so popular. With ticket prices ranging from $35-$145, the show grossed over $700,000 with nearly 10,000 fans in attendance. Cannon’s crew of improvisers includes Rip Michaels, Hitman Holla, Emmanuel Hudson, DC Young Fly, Karlous Miller, Conceited, Matt Rife and DJ D-Wrek; they can be seen next at Agganis Arena, Boston, on Nov. 17.
 

HOT TICKETS is a weekly summary of the top acts and ticket sales as reported to VT PULSE. Following are the top 20 concerts and events, the top 5 in each seating capacity category, which took place between Oct. 10-Nov. 7.

15,001 or More Seats

10,001-15,000 Seats

5,001-10,000 Seats

5,000 or Fewer Seats

1) Cirque du Soleil - Toruk
Gross Sales: $6,251,044; Venue: Qudos Bank Arena, Sydney; Attendance: 67,301; Ticket Range: $155.61-$58.39; Promoter: Cirque du Soleil, TEG Live; Dates: Oct. 19-29; No. of Shows: 11

2) Eagles
Gross Sales: $3,859,098; Venue: Philips Arena, Atlanta; Attendance: 22,875; Ticket Range: $229.50-$59.50; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Oct. 20-21; No. of Shows: 2

3) Roger Waters
Gross Sales: $3,600,796; Venue: Bell Centre, Montreal; Attendance: 33,610; Ticket Range: $194.77-$42.85; Promoter: evenko, AEG Presents; Dates: Oct. 16-19; No. of Shows: 3

4) RNB Fridays Live
Gross Sales: $2,057,569; Venue: Qudos Bank Arena, Sydney; Attendance: 21,770; Ticket Range: $190.99-$76.35; Promoter: Illusive Entertainment, Frontier Touring ; Dates: Oct. 12-13; No. of Shows: 2

5) Bruno Mars
Gross Sales: $1,737,033; Venue: American Airlines Center, Dallas; Attendance: 14,820; Ticket Range: $145-$44.50; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Oct. 27; No. of Shows: 1

1) Janet Jackson
Gross Sales: $931,996; Venue: Mandalay Bay Events Center, Las Vegas; Attendance: 7,583; Ticket Range: $249-$59; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Oct. 14; No. of Shows: 1

2) Nick Cannon presents Wild ‘N Out Live
Gross Sales: $709,435; Venue: Infinite Energy Arena, Duluth, Ga.; Attendance: 9,806; Ticket Range: $143-$34; Promoter: Rip Michaels Entertainment; Dates: Oct. 28; No. of Shows: 1

3) Chris Stapleton
Gross Sales: $656,408; Venue: Van Andel Arena, Grand Rapids, Mich.; Attendance: 10,351; Ticket Range: $70.75-$35.75; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Nov. 4; No. of Shows: 1

4) Jason Aldean
Gross Sales: $506,925; Venue: Ford Center, Evansville, Ind.; Attendance: 7,782; Ticket Range: $70.25-$30.25; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Oct. 14; No. of Shows: 1

5) Banda MS
Gross Sales: $452,054; Venue: Mandalay Bay Events Center, Las Vegas; Attendance: 4,617; Ticket Range: $177.31-$57.41; Promoter: Lizos Music; Dates: Oct. 27; No. of Shows: 1

1) Widespread Panic
Gross Sales: $1,100,020; Venue: Park Theater at Monte Carlo, Las Vegas; Attendance: 16,659; Ticket Range: $300-$65; Promoter: AEG Presents; Dates: Oct. 27-29; No. of Shows: 3

2) Leningrad
Gross Sales: $496,860; Venue: The Theater at Madison Square Garden, New York; Attendance: 5,422; Ticket Range: $150-$50; Promoter: A Entertainment; Dates: Oct. 12; No. of Shows: 1

3) R&B Super Jam
Gross Sales: $447,961; Venue: Smart Financial Centre, Sugar Land, Texas; Attendance: 6,176; Ticket Range: $125-$59; Promoter: Urban Vibe Entertainment; Dates: Oct. 21; No. of Shows: 1

4) Alice Cooper
Gross Sales: $433,164; Venue: Hordern Pavilion, Sydney; Attendance: 3,937; Ticket Range: $126.81-$61.33; Promoter: TEG Live; Dates: Oct. 21; No. of Shows: 1

5) Andre Rieu
Gross Sales: $428,395; Venue: Orleans Arena, Las Vegas; Attendance: 5,717; Ticket Range: $116.50-$52.75; Promoter: In-house; Dates: Oct. 20; No. of Shows: 1

1) Wicked
Gross Sales: $4,636,840; Venue: DeVos Performance Hall, Grand Rapids, Mich.; Attendance: 54,592; Ticket Range: $159-$37.50; Promoter: Broadway Grand Rapids; Dates: Oct. 18-Nov. 5; No. of Shows: 24

2) Diana Ross
Gross Sales: $1,842,578; Venue: Encore Theater at Wynn, Las Vegas; Attendance: 12,015; Ticket Range: $295-$59.50; Promoter: AEG Presents, In-house; Dates: Oct. 11-28; No. of Shows: 9

3) The Color Purple
Gross Sales: $1,835,194; Venue: Fox Theatre, Atlanta; Attendance: 32,200; Ticket Range: $150-$40; Promoter: Broadway Across America; Dates: Oct. 24-29; No. of Shows: 8

4) Les Miserables
Gross Sales: $1,474,076; Venue: Peace Center, Greenville, S.C.; Attendance: 15,696; Ticket Range: $105-$45; Promoter: In-house; Dates: Oct. 31-Nov. 5; No. of Shows: 8

5) The Little Mermaid
Gross Sales: $1,272,383; Venue: Durham (N.C.) Performing Arts Center; Attendance: 22,034; Ticket Range: $153-$27; Promoter: PFM, Nederlander Presentations (New York); Dates: Oct. 17-22; No. of Shows: 8

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

 


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Data and Dynamic Pricing Protocols
 
Posted: 8 Nov 2017, 6:00 pm

Attendees at IEBA to learn incllude Tom Hirsig, Cheyenne (Wyo.) Frontier Days; Chad Kudelka, Red 11 Music;  R.J. Romeo, Romeo Entertainment Group, and Brandon Kramer, Cheyenne Frontier Days. (VT Photo)

REPORTING FROM NASHVILLE — Pixel placement systems which collect customer preferences and capturing the resale market were among the ticketing topics explored on stage and in the hallways the International Entertainment Buyers Association (IEBA) 2017 Conference, held here Oct. 15-17.

Aaron Bare, Etix, spoke on data collection using Etix's pixel placement system. "Have you ever wondered why something you looked at earlier on your computer keeps popping up in ads on other sites?" he said. "The website you visited had a tracking pixel, a piece of code dropped on the site to track users."

This tracking pixel is able to remember where a potential ticket buyer is browsing  and what that buyer has bought in the past, Bare said. It makes data collecting easy and can be used to send out marketing emails.

The number of tickets going to other cities and resellers was a major concern of the Award Winners Power Panel, composed of Ali Harnell, AEG Presents, moderator; Jeff Nickler, BOK Center, 2016 winner, Arena of the Year; Renee Alexander, Minnesota State Fair, 2017 Fair Buyer of the Year winner; David Kells, Bridgestone Arena, 2017 Arena of the Year; and Darin Lashinsky, NS2, 2016 winner, Promoter of the Year award.

They acknowledged that the days of fans sitting at their computers waiting to buy a ticket are somewhat over. They know they can buy it later from a reseller.

A sticking point with this is that, oftentimes, the reseller will make more money than the artist, said IEBA Executive Director Pam Matthews.

A diagram produced from IEBA member surveys and given out at the conference demonstrated this. The diagram follows the exchanges of an original $200 ticket. On one path, it is bought for $200 by a patron. On this simple path, the artist gets $120 of the face value and the promoter gets $80 to cover expenses.

On another path, a $200 ticket is sold on Ticketmaster. Ticketmaster gets a $21 processing fee, making the ticket total $221 for the buyer. The buyer then resells it on StubHub for $1,000. StubHub collects $100 from the buyer and $150 from the seller for a total of $250.

Matthews said one solution would be dynamic pricing where ticket prices would fluctuate depending on location and demand.

"If a reseller can sell a $200 ticket for $1,000, then maybe we should be selling the ticket for $1,000 in the first place," Matthews said. "If people are willing to pay that much, maybe we should be asking that much."

On the third day of the IEBA conference, Matthews moderated a panel entitled "Ticketing: Incentive to Innovate." The panel consisted of industry experts   Fielding Logan, Q Prime South, Nashville, Tenn.; Justin Atkins, Ticketmaster; Jason Comfort,  Red Light Management, Charlottesville, Va., and Charlie Goldstone, Frank Productions Concerts,  Madison, Wis.

The group agreed that the current way tickets are sold is broken and needs to be revamped. But doing so will be difficult.

Creating more accurate ticket pricing is a solution. Educating fans on ticket buying is important. Fans need to know where their money is going and they need to understand that when a performance is being reported as a sell out, that doesn't mean they can't find a ticket on the secondary market.

The panel addressed incentive programs to encourage patrons to purchase from a primary ticketing source. Those could come in the forms of rewards or loyalty programs.

Ticketmaster’s Verified Fan program, a pre-registration process that removes the scalpers and BOTs, is a step in that direction. The program enables Ticketmaster to collect information on the actual fan and what that  fan is buying. Ticketmaster then sends out pre-sale invitation emails.


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Etix Acquires TicketBiscuit and ExtremeTix
 
Posted: 8 Nov 2017, 6:00 pm

Etix has expanded its reach with acquisitions of TicketBiscuit and ExtremeTix.

Etix, a provider of ticketing software and solutions based in Morrisville, N.C., announced the completion of two separate growth acquisitions of Birmingham, Ala.-based TicketBiscuit and Houston’s ExtremeTix. In addition, Etix is heavily investing in the growth of its team.

With the addition of TicketBiscuit and ExtremeTix, Etix recognizes the opportunities present in a fragmented ticketing industry and is well positioned to expand their services and technology to more regions and a broader client base.

The ExtremeTix acquisition not only brings opportunities in new verticals, but also gives Etix a wider presence across the U.S. Its Houston-based team will increase their reach in the central and western parts of the country.

With Alabama-based TicketBiscuit, which processes more than $100 million in ticket sales annually, Etix also will be increasing its presence and platforms.

“With TicketBiscuit, we will continue to build out the company’s current brands and double down on their growth, while consolidating platforms,” said Etix founder and CEO Travis Janovich. “With ExtremeTix, we will continue in Birmingham, and the verticals will continue running as they have for now.”

ExtremeTix focuses on motorsports, rodeos, festivals and other special event ticketing.  Established in 2000, ExtremeTix sells more than 50-million tickets in more than 40 countries annually. The platform won the "Move to Mobile" award at the 2017 Ticketing Technology Awards in Dublin, Ireland earlier this year.

Etix works with 1,800 venues, including theaters, arenas, music clubs, festivals, fairs, performing arts centers and casinos. The company has offices in Austria, China, Germany, Holland and Japan.

Etix has been active through the summer, adding new staff and resources to quicken the pace of software development and foster organic growth.

Financial details of the acquisitions were not disclosed.


 


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Video Game Just Dance Goes Live
 
Posted: 8 Nov 2017, 2:00 pm

Video game Just Dance turns into live stage show.

The world-famous video game Just Dance will grace venues in the United States next spring, transforming the digital dance contest into a live, interactive, real-world experience for audiences.

The tour kicks off  in Miami, Fla., for a three-day show at the 2,700-seat Fillmore Miami Beach at the Jackie Gleason Theatre March 8-11.

It then heads to the 1,400-seat Aon Grand Ballroom at Navy Pier in Chicago, March 15-18. The show stops at the 3,464-seat Revention Music Center in Houston, March 22-25, with its last stop at the 3,700-seat Hollywood Palladium in Los Angeles, March 29-31.

Regular ticket prices start at $45 and VIP packages are $95 and include priority entry to the show, exclusive merchandise (Glow glasses, draw-string bags and VIP glow laminate), and a meet and greet with the cast after the show.

Ubisoft is the creator of the Just Dance video game, and the company is based in Rennes, France.

“We are known as a world-wide producer of video games,” said Hinde Daoui, who produces the entertainment for Ubisoft. She spoke with Venues Today from Paris and was full of enthusiasm about the show.

“From the very beginning, we have focused on creating a high-quality production,” she said. “It’s a great production for venue managers. We will bring many types of audiences. Our target audience is all ages. We knew that from the very beginning.”

The European company specifically wanted to launch the show in the United States as a pilot before offering it to other venues across the globe, Daoui said. "The U.S. is very passionate about Just Dance. If you can make it there, you can make it anywhere," she said. "We’ll invite promoters from across the globe. We’ll make sure to see which promoters share the interest and want the show.” 

The show’s host, Justin, will take the audience into interactive dance moves after they’ve walked the red carpet into the venue. Guests will then enter the “Get Ready for It Zone” where they’ll get dressed up for dancing.

Just Dance Live is an interactive show where audiences learn choreographed dance moves from the cast. Much like the video game, the live show teaches participants to dance along to a variety of pop songs. 

“The participants are the stars of the show,” Daoui said. “They will have up to 75 minutes of getting fully emersed into the world of Just Dance… to finalize their costumes. They also will be able to perfect their makeup and hair.”

The entire show runs for about two hours. Setup and teardown is by the production administrator at Stufish, which is a global architecture, design and production studio that works to redefine the live entertainment experience.

“We’ll have about 12 people on tour to help with the load in and load out,” she said. “We’re looking at how can we utilize what these venues have. How can we transform your theater into the world of Just Dance?”

Essentially, the show has one day to set up and rehearse before hitting the road again.

“We’re having a whole lot of fun developing this,” Thom said. “It’s fantastic. The whole design… it’s so exciting on how we can transform (Just Dance) into the real world.”

Tickets were first available on presale  to Ubisoft Club Members through Ticketmaster.com and went on sale to the public Nov. 2 .

Just Dance Live was developed by Creative Director Kim Gavin, with production design by Stufish Entertainment. Architecture and production management is by Stufish Productions.

The idea to turn Just Dance into a live experience happened for a number of reasons, including the fact that flash mob dances are extremely popular in Paris, Daoui said.

“We saw that there was a potential for a show. Anyone can dance. It’s not about being the best, it’s about getting loose, feeling good about yourself and connecting with people,” she said. “Everyone will share the fun.”


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Quebec’s Place Bell Opens
 
Posted: 8 Nov 2017, 1:00 pm

Quebec's new Place Bell opened Aug. 31. (Photo Credit: Sophie-Poliquin)

Place Bell, a new arena in Laval, Quebec, has already hosted an array of major events since its Aug. 31 opening, including a sellout home debut for the Laval Rocket, the American Hockey League franchise now based at the venue; concerts by famous performing artists on tour and a slew of community-based ice hockey, speed skating and figure skating competitions.

The multipurpose cultural and athletic facility, which carried an approximately $155-million construction price tag, features an amphitheater and main arena, an National Hockey League-style skating and practice rink (cap. 500 spectators) and an Olympic-style rink (cap. 2,500 spectators). The main arena seats 10,000 maximum for events such as Laval Rocket games, but it has flexible seating configurations to adapt to different crowd sizes and types. The arena is located in the city’s new downtown area with convenient access to a metro station and interior parking for 700 vehicles.

Christiane Hemond, general director for the City of Culture and Sport Laval, a nonprofit created to manage the construction of Place Bell and to operate the complex, said the Laval community has shown “big interest” in the arena since its opening. She said the venue clearly was a need in Laval, a city of more than 430,000 people located just north of Montreal.

The versatility of Place Bell allows for a wide variety of events, including professional and amateur hockey games, concerts, family entertainment, theatrical performances, and community and corporate events. The facility has the technical capacity to host complex shows and to transition between differing events.

The Laval Rocket franchise represents Place Bell’s most prominent featured performer. The franchise, which was founded in 1969, previously played in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador, and was known as the St. John’s IceCaps. The team serves as a minor-league affiliate for the nearby Montreal Canadiens, one of the NHL’s original members. The Rocket christened Place Bell with a 3-0 defeat of the Belleville Senators on Oct. 6 before an announced capacity crowd of 10,000. On the following night, 5,800 fans attended a 6-2 win over the Senators. 

Charles Saindon-Courtois, manager of communications and community relations for the Laval Rocket, said the team’s new home “is the best place to play hockey in the American Hockey League with state-of-the-art facilities for the players.”

“Place Bell is really the perfect home for the Laval Rocket. It has been great to the hockey club so far,” Saindon-Courtois said. “First off, it allows the Montreal Canadiens management to have a closer look at their most promising prospects and to keep an eye on their development. It is also easier — logistics-wise — to call up a player when someone is injured in Montreal. The city of Laval has passionate hockey fans. The Montreal Canadiens prospects will play and grow in a real hockey market.”

Saindon-Courtois said the arena also will provide a helpful boost for figure and speed skating and youth hockey in Laval, because the community rink and Olympic rink give Laval residents ready access to top-flight facilities. Both rinks can be reserved by local teams and other groups, and Place Bell schedules public skating times throughout the year. The arena also hosts shinny hockey, allowing community members to sign up to join pick-up style games.

In addition to the indoor facilities, Hemond noted that Place Bell features a public space linked with the street that makes it possible to host larger exterior events. A commercial area accommodates an array of shops on two floors, and Place Bell is the new home of the Laval Sports Hall of Fame, which was created in 1996 and so far has 30 inductees.

Hemond said creating a facility that involved robust offerings for community members was a critical piece of the creation of Place Bell.

“It was the priority right at the beginning since there was a lack of interior ice rinks for the Laval population,” Hemond said.

Place Bell is especially geared toward ice-based events and activities, but Eloise Boutin-Masse, marketing and PR coordinator for Place Bell, said the amphitheater has proved popular as a stage for performing artists and others. Place Bell will be the site of a headline boxing fight on Dec. 16 when Billy Joe Saunders and David Lemieux clash in a World Boxing Organization middleweight championship bout that will be broadcast on HBO. The arena’s first rock concert featured the Scorpions and Megadeth on Sept. 19. Upcoming performances include such shows as Marvel Universe Live! and an LCD Soundsystem concert.

“We already have a lot of shows booked, and we are planning on having many more various events,” Boutin-Masse said.

The City of Culture and Sport Laval owns and operates Place Bell, while  Evenko, a Quebec-based independent event promoter, producer and presenter, is the arena’s manager and the driving force to securing concerts and other events at the venue. Pomerleau, a Quebec-based construction company, oversaw the construction of Place Bell, which was designed by architectural firms Lemay and CannonDesign.

  

 

 

 


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CONVENTION CENTERS EXPAND UP AND OUTSIDE
 
Posted: 7 Nov 2017, 7:00 pm

Colorado_CC3.jpg

For decades, the basics of the convention center experience varied little for attendees, said Brian Tennyson, principal with LMN Architects. One meeting room looked much like another, no matter what city you were visiting.
“If you were at a meeting hall in Chicago, it really didn't differentiate itself much from one in Orlando or New Orleans,” Tennyson said. “You were just in this dark box listening to a speaker. You could have been anywhere.” 
However, Tennyson said, “Those days are gone.”
“The collapse in ‘07-’08 forced everybody to be a bit more competitive and also for delegates to be more choosey about events and where they would go,” Tennyson said. “So centers really started differentiating themselves. The term destination design, which you hear quite a bit now, became more of an issue.”
The challenges to creating a distinctive experience are abundant, and convention center operators, architects and designers working on new construction and renovation projects must contend with a range of considerations when investing in a convention center’s physical space to better serve meeting attendees.
“Whether new construction or renovation, convention center design is currently focused on catering to the needs of not only current generations, but future ones as well,” said Adam Paulitsch, senior associate at Populous. “As a result, convention centers are becoming ‘multigenerational’ to fit the mold of the current user, while anticipating the needs of the next.”

An emphasis on flexibility
Paulitsch said convention centers have inherent potential as homes for innovative, flexible spaces.
“The modern convention center is arguably one of the most versatile building types on the planet, and as they evolve to meet an ever-increasing list of demands for upcoming generations this point will only grow stronger,” Paulitsch said.
Susan Sieger, principal with Crossroads Consulting Services, which advises the convention, sports and entertainment industry, said convention and meeting planners have adopted an emphasis on “more flexible and unique spaces that can be customized to their specific usage demands.”
“Facilities are continually trying to differentiate themselves from the competition via physical space within their buildings,” Sieger said. “Instead of simply adding single-use dedicated space, such as exhibit halls and meeting rooms, many centers are adding hybrid, flex space which can be utilized for a variety of purposes and types of events and can be expanded or contracted depending on each meeting planner’s needs.”
Paulitsch said the International Convention Center Sydney and the Anaheim (Calif.) Convention Center both represent examples of flexible, multigenerational design.
“ICC Sydney embodies this by breaking down the traditional singular convention center building into multiple,” Paulitsch said. “This effectively creates a campus which enables multiple events to take place simultaneously, affording each one its own unique experience. The movable walls featured in Anaheim’s most recent convention center expansion also follow this concept, transforming one expansive space into several.”

MEETING PLANNERS’ CHANGING  PREFERENCES
Tennyson said pre-function spaces previously were employed as nothing more than spaces to pass through. Now, meeting planners are looking to make them lively parts of their events, places where attendees can gather between sessions in impromptu or lightly organized fashion.
“The idea of the one-hour speaker with an audience either sitting in a classroom setup or a lecture setup, where that used to be the majority of events, you're going to start seeing that in the minority,” Tennyson said. “I don't think they'll disappear, but the industry is evolving — people learn differently and design should reflect that.”
Ken Stockdell, vice president, convention center group practice leader at HKS Architects, said the shift toward nontraditional room sets and “blurring the lines between the meeting space, where content has traditionally been delivered, and the public concourses is an interesting trend with the meeting planners. It will be interesting to see how upcoming projects respond to this. I think there will be an increase in public concourse space as a percentage of gross area to accommodate a variety of furnishings and amenities in these spaces.”

CHANGING APPETITES
Convention-goers’ dining expectations have evolved in alignment with general food trends. In particular, Damon Bell, senior director of convention sales with Georgia World Congress Center Authority, said, “Locally grown and flexible dining options continue to have influence.”
For instance, the Georgia World Congress Center recently opened Social Table, which features a rotating menu of Southern cuisine. The convention center also houses Southern Roots Cafe, which has locally sourced coffee, pastries and produce, and Googie Burger, which is located in Centennial Olympic Park and emphasizes Georgia-based ingredients.
Stockdell said convention center retail food options increasingly feature variety and health- conscious selections. In addition, “farm-to-table is becoming the norm for banquet menu choices.”

GOING UP
Stockdell said convention center expansions increasingly are using vertical construction to add new space.
“On urban sites, where most convention centers are or want to be located, land is a precious commodity, so the only way to go is up or down,” Stockdell said. “We’ve seen this happen in San Francisco with Moscone Center’s expansion; Baltimore is planning on a similar strategy. The expansion that is planned at the Colorado Convention Center is on its existing roof, and the expansion underway in Seattle is another example.

A COMMUNITY ANCHOR
Deborah Breiter Terry, a professor at the University of Central Florida who specializes in convention and trade show management, said convention centers tend to be more naturally integrated into their neighborhoods in Europe and Asia than in the U.S.
“But we are starting to see convention districts develop [in the U.S.] that have more shopping and entertainment options that local residents might want to visit,” Terry said.
Stockdell said thinking about convention centers as part of an events/entertainment district is gaining momentum in the U.S.
“There are numerous examples of convention centers that were built in open land on the edges of cities — Atlanta, Houston and L.A. are three examples — that have taken as much as 20 years to create enough development momentum to fill the gap,” Stockdell said. “The realization that it may take incentives to accelerate this process is taking hold more broadly, and that’s beginning to change the thinking about how a convention center integrates with its neighborhood.”
Sieger said she is seeing more designs that emphasize urban planning and the convention center’s place in its city.
“This includes integration into the surrounding neighborhood to create a full destination experience for both convention attendees and local business and residents, resulting in a more seamless integration with the surrounding neighborhoods and communities rather than just a standalone facility,” Sieger said.
Sieger said meeting planners and attendees are looking for campus-style settings around the convention center, providing amenities such as hotels, restaurants, entertainment venues and attractions within walking distance of the convention center. She pointed to Los Angeles’ L.A. Live campus, which includes Los Angeles Convention Center, Staples Center and Microsoft Theater alongside retail and restaurant offerings, as an example of this layout. Stockdell noted that “ground-level retail and street-facing restaurants are increasingly discussed as part of the project planning.”
Bell said hotels play a major role in the convenience and accessibility equation. “Connectivity and ease of convention traffic is always top of mind with any organizer of large conventions and events,” he said. “Convention hotels continue to be added to the landscape in the U.S., particularly adjacent to centers such as ours. Marriott recently added 1,000-plus-room hotels next to the convention centers in Chicago and Houston, and the Georgia World Congress Center soon will be announcing our plans for a new connected hotel in Atlanta.”

OUTDOOR SPACE
Just as the use of pre-function space is being re-evaluated, Breiter Terry said convention centers are finding more value in their outdoor property.
“For several years, convention centers have been competing with hotels to create attractive spaces that are warm, welcoming and sometimes stimulating,” Breiter Terry said. “There are more outdoor spaces being used at convention centers (other than parking lots for big exhibits). Connecting convention centers to nearby hotels with skybridges (whether enclosed or not) will continue.
Sieger said multifunctional outdoor spaces give attendees a less traditional way to connect with each other and to engage with a convention center’s setting and other nearby elements.
“Rather than comprising just four walls and no natural light, the new plazas, covered or partially tented rooftops, terraces, lawns and other spaces provide a unique view and interaction with the city around them,” Sieger said.

 

FINANCING OPTIONS INCLUDE DBFOM AND MORE

Convention center experts are watching closely for signs of a softening market that could affect the industry.
“Convention centers are subject to several macro influences,” said Ken Stockdell, vice president, convention center group practice leader at HKS Architects. “The state of the economy generally has an effect on business travel in both directions, as we’ve seen a couple of times in the past 15-20 years. There are signs that things are softening a bit, so that is a concern. Also, the ability to obtain public sector funding for projects is even more difficult than usual in the prevailing political environment, particularly in second- and third-tier communities where renovations may be needed or are long overdue.”
Deborah Breiter Terry, a professor at the University of Central Florida, Orlando, who specializes in convention and trade show management, said “the ability of convention centers to get the funding they need to remain relevant, up to date, and attractive” will continue to be a concern.
“There seems to be a lot of pushback in many communities to the amount of hotel tax that goes to convention centers,” Breiter Terry said. “Local politicians and media love the idea of using some of the money for other things (like schools). But will they kill the goose that lays the golden egg in cities where convention business depends on the most up-to-date venues?”
Stockdell said he has observed some innovative approaches to financing.
“We’re seeing an increase in the interest in design-build as an approach to procurement, and the recent discussion of the Design/Build/Finance/Operate/Maintain (DBFOM) option in L.A. introduces an even more turnkey kind of process into the mix. It will be interesting to see if bringing this kind of creative approach — that has been used elsewhere in the world — to the U.S. market will take hold.”
Susan Sieger, principal with Crossroads Consulting Services, said the public sector often will build a convention center based on the belief that the private sector will fund and construct a headquarters hotel to accompany it.
“However, increasingly, more convention centers are being developed in partnership with the private sector to include hotels and surrounding development,” Sieger said. “Public-private partnerships are being utilized to drive hotel development adjacent to convention centers through government subsidies to private developers to spur projects forward.”
Convention center expansion projects are prevalent across the United States, and Sieger cites the growing supply of convention space as a concern for the future. She said convention centers that invest in growth must think strategically and not fall into the trap of growing just to grow.


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Orlando Venues Key Staff Help Vegas Recovery
 
Posted: 7 Nov 2017, 6:50 pm

The famous 'Welcome to Las Vegas' site a day after a gunman killed 58 people and wounded over 500 more attending Route 91 Harvest Festival on Oct. 1.

Two reluctant recovery center vets, Orlando Venues’ Assistant Director Craig Borkon and Kathy DeVault, director of strategic partnerships, immediately offered their expertise to the city of Las Vegas following the tragic mass shooting at Route 91 Harvest Festival, Oct. 1.

Borkon and DeVault were both instrumental in the Orlando recovery following its own horrific event where a lone-gunman killed 49 people and wounded 58 others at the Pulse Nightclub in June of 2016, helping set up and man the temporary Family Assistance Center at Camping World Stadium for those directly impacted. 

KathyCraig.jpgKathy Devault, director of strategic partnerships and Craig Borkon, assistant dierector, Orlano Venues, were in Las Vegas within 24 hours of the Route 91 Harvest Festival shooting.

Borkon and DeVault got involved in the Las Vegas tragedy after Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer spoke with officials in Las Vegas. “I got a call early Monday morning from Mayor Dyer and he asked if I would participate in a conference call with the Las Vegas mayor and John Steinbeck, the deputy chief of the Clark County Fire Department who oversees the office of emergency management for the county,” said Borkon. “The mayor also asked if I was willing to go out to Las Vegas to help them set up their assistance center. I said ‘yes’ immediately.”

DeVault was already onboard. “The mayor asked me to volunteer to go to Vegas and I said, ‘of course, absolutely.’ I was happy to offer my experience to Las Vegas; I knew what they must have been going through after a horrific event like Route 91 Harvest Festival.”

Both were on a plane to Las Vegas within 24 hours. “We went out to help in any way we could,” said Borkon. “It was a humbling experience in Orlando after the Pulse shootings. We always talked about how after Pulse we hoped that it would never happen again. However, we’re grateful for the opportunity to share the knowledge we had from an unfortunate situation and help make it a little easier for Las Vegas to start the healing process.”

Upon arrival, the pair were taken to Las Vegas Convention Center where the recovery efforts were already underway. They joined assistance command center operations and proceeded to guide the Las Vegas team through the process of creating a family assistance center using their personal experiences.

“The first thing we did was assess the situation, and we looked at what they had already set up,” said Borkon. “After a walkthrough, they sat us down and said, ‘tell us what we don’t know.’ We were happy to share what we did right in Orlando and what we thought needed to be changed.”

Borkon and DeVault met with many of the same people leaders and agencies they previously worked with, such as the FBI and the Red Cross. “Tara Hughes is the main response front-person for the Red Cross and she was on-point at both centers and the folks from the FBI were the same, too, so it was easy to get on the same page quickly,” said Borkon.

“After we evaluated the setup and logistics, we explained that there was a lot more that needed to be done,” explained Devault. “This included specifying which people and organizations should be at the table and involved as well as focusing on how to address parking, security, check-in and media, among other concerns.”
 
The similarities between the Pulse shooting and Route 91 Harvest Festival massacre were striking — both had numerous casualties and serious injuries and the need to  provide a safe and secure place for the victims' families to get aid and assistance was top of mind. “Mental health issues had to be addressed in both circumstances as well offering privacy for grieving friends and family away from the media,” said Borkon.

Also, there was the need to coach the volunteers on how to behave and carry themselves. “We had to explain that the volunteers couldn’t laugh when the victims' families were around and everyone has to pitch in and leave their egos at the door,” he said.

But there were significant differences as well.

“The Las Vegas Convention Center was a much bigger facility and posed more challenges in controlling the setting,” said Borkon. “Because it was a large music festival, there were also a lot more personal effects to sort through like lawn chairs and hats and coolers.”

“Many of the Route 91 victims were out of town visitors, so lodging and travel accommodations for relatives was a priority,” said DeVault.

Devault said that getting the right agencies and partners on-scene was her step one. “In Orlando we had 42 agencies involved because a lot of the relatives were from out of the country and we needed to expedite visas,” she said. “We also learned that we needed to assist people in the long term. We had people who needed rent assistance weeks later and learned that the help needed doesn’t end when they leave the center. I wanted to make sure that Vegas understood this. It’s not just a few days and close up shop.”

Agencies involved were Clark County Social Services, the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, the FBI, the Red Cross, MGM Resorts (lodging) and multiple airlines, among others.

Borkon reached out to the ticket firm that serviced the festival and got the ticket data to find out where people came from to help identify the relatives who might need assistance. “We sent out press releases to the areas identified to let the people know we’re there for them,” he said.

“Victim’s crime compensation is huge,” said Devault. “There are certain rights that victims have including financial benefits, so having someone from the Nevada Attorney General’s office at the table was very important to the process.”

One of the things that the duo learned in Orlando was to “take control of the intake process.” They encouraged Clark County officials to not let the FBI control the intake. “It was not easy getting information from the FBI,” said Borkon.

“The FBI and Red Cross pack up and eventually leave,” said DeVault. “You need to be certain that you have enough information about the victims so that when they call, you can actually determine what they need.”

DeVault said it was important for the aid workers to “keep up their stamina, eat, get sleep and spend time with their own families. The first couple of days everyone is running around and just want to do the best they can for the people in need but often don’t take the time to take care of themselves. The facility staff can quickly deteriorate and we experienced this in Orlando,” she said.

Borkon also shared that most of the cost of setting up the center was reimbursable. “Spend the money you have to spend,” he said. “There’s money out there from the Department of Justice and other grants that will offset the cost.”

Also helping was convention center concessionaire Centerplate which supplied food and drinks at no cost and numerous local restaurants which sent over food. “It’s a real community effort,” said Borkon.

11-8-17_Las_Vegas_648x418v3.jpgLas Vegas locals and visitors gathered to process the horrific Route 91 Harvest Festival incident a few short blocks away from where the tragedy occurred.

Staying at the original emergency space is often not an option after a tragedy; in both the Orlando and Las Vegas aftermath the centers needed to move after a few short weeks. The assistance center at the convention center was open from Oct. 5 - 20.

“We learned that there needs to be no gap in services when the center moves,” said Borkon, “so we stressed to Deputy Steinbeck the need to start planning right away for when the center will move to the next location.” Following the advice, Las Vegas opened the Vegas String Assistance Center in a medical office building the next day after shutting down the makeshift center that was set up in the convention center.The Orlando center is still open and plans are to keep it open until 2020.

“We never wanted to have the experience we do have after the Pulse nightclub shooting,” said DeVault. “But Craig and I now have knowledge that we hope no one ever has to have. We always said if there was another community in need, we’d be there to help. This was Orlando’s way of helping to give back. Personally, it is healing and therapeutic to be able to put into practice all we learned the hard way.”

In all, Borkon and DeVault spent six days in Las Vegas. Over 4,350 Route 91 Harvest Festival victims and relatives passed through the doors of the temporary family assistance center in the two weeks it was open. The permanent assistance center is expected to remain open indefinitely.


 


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MANAGEMENT
 
Posted: 1 Nov 2017, 3:15 pm

MANAGEMENT

James W. Brown, CFE, has been appointed the director of the First National Bank Arena, Jonesboro, Ark.  For the past 18 years Brown has been associated with the Ervin J. Nutter Center at Wright State University, Fairborn, Ohio, serving since 2010 as executive director of the facility.

The Spokane (Wash.) Public Facilities District has named current Spokane Convention Center GM Stephanie Curran incoming CEO, replacing retiring Kevin Twohig. Curran has been an employee of the District since 2003 and has served in many roles ranging from event supervisor to AGM of Spokane Convention Center and INB Performing Arts Center, Spokane. She’s been the convention center GM since 2015. The transition will occur on Feb. 1, 2018.

Wim Desloovere is assuming the role of country manager for the Brussels AIM Group International Office. Desloovere has 20 years of experience working in various positions linked to the meeting industry.

Five executives at Staples Center, Microsoft Theater and L.A. Live, Los Angeles, have been promoted to senior vice presidents. Included are Laura Geery-Larson, hired in August 1999 as the Telecommunications manager, who is now SVP of Telecommunications & IT; Christy Castillo Butcher, who has been with Staples Center since September 1999,  SVP of Booking and Events; Wade Loewe, who began his career at Staples Center before the arena opened its doors in September of 1999, SVP Broadcast/ Multimedia Productions; Matt Rosenfeld, who joined in November 1999 as a Group Sales Account Executive, SVP of Sales; and Michele Kajiwara, who has been with AEG for 14 years and is currently serving as vice president of Premium Seating to SVP, Premium Sales and Services.

SMG Europe has appointed Dan Harris as GM for the new UK Venue in Hull, due to open late summer 2018.

Quicken Loans Arena and the Cleveland Cavaliers have announced several promotions within the organization. Jason Hillman has been named basketball chief of staff/team counsel; Brandon Jirousek has been promoted to VP, digital and web services; Holly Yanak has been promoted to VP, community relations and player programs; and Hallie Yavitch has been promoted to VP, event booking.

The Cannon Center for the Performing Arts, Memphis, Tenn., has promoted Jasmine Hirt to marketing and event services coordinator. Hirt began her position an assistant less than a year ago. Hirt is a graduate of the Music Industry program at the University of Memphis. She began her career at the Cannon Center as an intern in June 2015. In October 2016, she was hired as the marketing and event services assistant.

Cape Arts & Entertainment has selected Jonathan Kaledin as president and CEO. Kaledin is a lawyer and seasoned nonprofit executive with more than 30 years of extensive experience working in both government and the private sector.

Townsquare Media has hired veteran editor and journalist Craig Marks as editorial director. Previously, Marks was an executive editor at Billboard, editor-in-chief of Blender magazine, Spin and Popdust. He is the co-author of the best-selling oral history "I Want My MTV: The Uncensored Story of the Music Video Revolution," and has written for New York, GQ, New York Times and Details.

LiveStyle, Inc., Beatport’s parent company, has named Robb McDaniels its new CEO. Most recently, McDaniels served as a venture partner for Dubai-based investment company TechInvest. In early 2016, he launched Faction Entertainment. Previously, McDaniels was the founder and CEO of INgrooves where he built the company into a full-service distribution and artist services operation.

Populous has added senior leader Bruce Miller to its Global Holdings Board. In addition, Bob Gillcrist, Shireen Hamdan, Jonathan Mallie, Brian Mirakian and                 Sherri Privitera have been promoted to senior principals, while Brad Albers, Marc Bertolino, Steve Boyd, Steve Caudle, Tiric Chang, Rhys Courtney, Jeanette Johnson, Marc Klein and Whitney Williams have been promoted to principals.

Ontario (Calif.) Convention Center has hired Shannon Perry as their new GM. Perry has 18 years of event planning and facility oversight experience with two national companies: Westwood One Radio Network and SMG Worldwide Venue Management.

Steve Romer has taken the new role of chief operating officer for the Bluesfest festival and their associated companies including Bluesfest Touring. Romer has worked in the live music, sport and entertainment industries for 30 years. He is a past chair and CEO of the Venue Management Association (Asia Pacific), and has held a wide variety of senior management roles including stints at the Sydney Entertainment Centre, Sydney Convention & Exhibition Centre, Sydney 2000 Olympics Satellite Stadiums, and with amusement park operators Macquarie Leisure Trust (now Ardent Leisure) and Village Roadshow Theme Parks.

The Atlanta Hawks Basketball Club has hired award-winning chef Joe Schafer as executive chef for Philips Arena. Schafer previously served as executive chef at Bacchanalia and Little Bacch. Prior to that, Schafer worked at King + Duke. Schafer trained at Art Institute of Atlanta.

The AEG-run Oman Convention & Exhibition Centre (OCEC) has announced the appointment of Debra Simkiss as director of operations and Ekta Gandhi as marketing & communications manager. Simkiss worked her way from senior event coordinator to event manager and then in 2008 to the executive role of director of operations until 2017. Gandhi joined the Chedi Muscat as their marketing & communications executive. In 2015, Ghandi joined the pre-opening team for Anantara Al Jabal Al Akhdar Resort. Ghandi has a bachelor’s degree in hospitality management from the Insititut Vatel, Nîmes, France, as well as further hotel management diplomas from Montreal, Canada.

Visit Baltimore has named Kireem Swinton director of convention sales development, Mid-Atlantic region and tradeshows. Swinton comes to Visit Baltimore from Visit Seattle, where he served as national account director for the Washington, D.C., area for five years. Prior to his role with Visit Seattle, he spent 15 years with the Marriott brand including the Baltimore Marriott properties from 2008 to 2012.

Kimberly Vincent has been promoted to senior account manager at New Day Underwriting Managers LLC. Vincent joined the company in 2014. Prior to New Day, Vincent worked with BCG Advisors and Westrope Insurance Managers.

Shaw Conference Centre, Edmonton, Alberta, has appointed Richard Wong as GM. Wong previously held executive roles with Nova Hotels, Travel Alberta and Sutton Place Hotels Group.

CAPS Payroll has named Jeremy Young as director of music tours and live event sales. Most recently, Young was an artist manager at Vector Management. Prior to that, Young spent four years as tour manager for Gavin DeGraw, Toby Kightman and Matt Nathanson. Young also served as marketing director at Clear Channel Entertainment.


PASSINGS

FRANK LIBERTO — 84, Ricos products founder and former Liberto Specialty Company president and CEO, Nov. 5 in San Antonio, Texas. Liberto is credited with inventing the concession nacho in 1976, which is now a staple in the event world. “The King of Nachos” is one of only three Honorary Lifetime Board Members of the National Associations of Concessionaires (NAC). Liberto is survived by his wife Patricia, daughter Denise, sons Rick and Tony, grandchildren Megan, Preston, Danielle, Brianna, Madeline and Nicolas and great-grandson Wyatt.


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GLAZED AND CONFUSED
 
Posted: 1 Nov 2017, 3:00 pm

At Mohegan Sun Arena in Wilkes Barre, Pa., necessity proved to be the mother of invention when the Savor food and beverage team conceived the Glazed and Confused stand concept.

“We had a limited time to come up with a concept because of a last-minute cancellation in one of our stands,” said Roy Rosenbaum, executive chef for Savor at the venue. “We had to come up with a concept where there was minimal at-the-stand prep requirements, because all we have in that stand is a tabletop self-enclosed fryer, and a couple hot wells.”
  Krispy Kreme had approached the venue earlier in the summer and, finally, the sticky, sweet stars had aligned. Rosenbaum, along with Chuck Kovach, director of food and beverage for Savor at the arena, and their team, decided to pair doughnut sandwiches with craft beer to create the Glazed and Confused stand.
The stand offers two versions of sandwiches with doughnut buns. The Sticky Pig is made with local pork smothered in molasses barbecue sauce that Rosenbaum makes from scratch, and the Beef of Burden with local brisket, and topped with an onion ring. The meat sits between two Krispy Kreme doughnuts — the top one glazed and the bottom unglazed. House-made kettle chips are served alongside.
“A plain Krispy Kreme doughnut bun is put into the serving tray and flattened a little,” Rosenbaum said. “A toothpick is inserted to keep the sandwich together.”
The stand is on the concourse level at all hockey games, concerts and other events. Savor also recently installed a smoker, so the culinary team will smoke all brisket and pork butts in-house. “It will make the sandwich better because I now will be able to control the flavor profiles of the meats.”
Guests can enjoy a selection of rotating seasonal beers alongside their sandwiches as well.
“It may seem different to some people,” Rosenbaum added. “But I say try it and see exactly how the sweet of the doughnut combines perfectly with the salt and spice of the meats on the sandwich.”

ROY ROSENBAUM, SAVOR EXECUTIVE CHEF
MOHEGAN SUN ARENA, WILKES BARRE, PA.

“I’d say my style is heavy grilling, smoking,” said Roy Rosenbaum, Savor Executive Chef at Mohegan Sun Arena, when asked about his cooking. “I enjoy making different sauces and rubs, and brines for the meats. Later in life I’d definitely like to have my own restaurant with a barbecue, smoked meats theme.”
Currently, he brings those talents to the arena’s various food and beverage offerings. In the industry since age 15, Rosenbaum started as a dishwasher at a catering hall, working his way up to a line cook position. “After college, I because the sous chef at a local country club, where I worked and learned from a very talented executive chef for three years,” he explained. “I then became executive chef at a local hotel/wedding venue.”
A brief stint in the a la carte restaurant of the hotel as executive chef eventually led him to his current position at the arena, where he comes up with creative concepts and prepares meals for the fans and behind-the-scenes. “I enjoy cooking for the talent and their touring crews for the shows we host.” he said.


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STEM EDUCATES AROUND FOOTBALL
 
Posted: 1 Nov 2017, 2:55 pm

When Levi’s Stadium, Santa Clara, Calif., opened in 2014 the National Football League’s (NFL) San Francisco 49ers expected to host hundreds of thousands of football fans. But they also had designs on welcoming hundreds of thousands of area students to the venue via a STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education curriculum based around the stadium and football. That plan has seen so much success the 49ers have started EDU Academy, an arm of the 49ers organization that offers education strategy consulting services to venues around the world.

“Our focus is in helping create learning opportunities for young people anywhere and everywhere they can exist,” said Jesse Lovejoy, program director. “We are helping organizations build and deliver education programs designed to ensure the impact is authentic and real to benefit everybody involved.”
The STEM program originated in a section of the stadium designed from its opening as a classroom to welcome 60,000 students per year to learn science, technology, engineering and math. From the start, Lovejoy said other venues from around the country contacted him to learn what made his program a success. “My phone rings three to four times a week with people asking questions about everything we do and all the elements,” he said. “It got to the point where it was a significant portion of the work I was doing. More and more organizations were asking very detailed and layered nuanced questions about launching programs. We realized quite a few organizations want to do this and don’t know how.”
Lovejoy said the time he was spending helping offer advice in all the informal requests was sucking up his time, and as a way to help offset the funds the York family, owners of the 49ers, were donating to run the educational program, he launched the academy. But more than the money, he wants to help more organizations and venues create opportunities to engage with their local educational community.
In the new plan, Lovejoy said his services come in two steps. The initial step helps venues understand what they need to know to bring a program online and the second piece delivers a roadmap on any piece of the program they want to pursue.
Lovejoy believes sports offers an amazing platform to access kids on differing levels. Using sports as a lever for access to students gives both organizations and venues a unique opportunity. And it isn’t always about the intrigue of the sport or even the space in the venue, Lovejoy said, instead advising venues to focus on a passion to tell a story and serve teachers and students. “I always tell folks if you have a commitment to doing this, it doesn’t matter if you have 5,000 square feet that doesn’t exist yet or 500 square feet stuffed full of books and desks,” Lovejoy said about creating STEM space within new and existing venues. “It is not about the space, it is about the intent. What do you have that can intrigue kids? We can work from there.”
For the 49ers, the first professional sports team with a classroom in their stadium, they expanded within Levi’s Stadium after the success of the first year, retrofitting an underused portion of the stadium. “I do always advocate for a distinct space to use as a classroom,” he said.
For the 49ers, they incorporated classroom space into the Levi’s Stadium museum, using football as the hook to incorporate labs on sports and science. The 20,000-sq.-ft. 49ers museum—composed of galleries, statues, a theater and the learning space—sits near additional interactive galleries for the STEM students. As part of the STEM program, students take a tour of the museum, enjoy up to 90 minutes of STEM project lessons—covering anything from force to physics—and even a 60-minute movement lab where students go through non-contact football drills on the field’s apron.
The STEM curriculum uses the stadium and the football played in it to connect with students, whether breaking down how the stadium captures solar power and uses it or using reclaimed water to feed the grass.
Lovejoy said the key is taking something you do well and articulating it where kids can go see, touch, smell and feel that stuff, which can turn it into compelling lessons. It is about the commitment to giving a great experience.” The 49ers extended its in-venue effort to an in-school STEM Leadership Institute in local middle and high schools, a $1 million extension of the program that funds lab spaces and programs.
Lovejoy said they realized the opportunity to launch EDU Academy last year and started taking clients—“it was just us helping folks”—even before the company existed. Since officially launching the academy in May with strategic partners in the architectural space, the 49ers’ EDU Academy has landed five clients, although not all are public.
Kat Williams, board chair at the International Women’s Baseball Center in West Virginia, said working with Lovejoy has proven amazing so far. As the center looks to fundraise $7 million for a new venue, which will include a STEM component, the center has already engaged EDU Academy to write curriculum that will help it connect with local schools even before the venue comes online.
“We want to present it to teachers and then incorporate it into the building,” said Williams, a college professor.
The center hopes to have curriculum in place for use next fall, ahead of the three-year plan for a new venue. “For me, for us, the education is a vehicle, a way to take baseball and teach math and science. We clearly want to preserve and protect the legacy of women in baseball, but even more importantly, we want to use that as empowerment for girls.”
The success of the STEM space in Levi’s Stadium has put a spotlight on the power to connect venues to the community through student learning opportunities. The 49ers want to shine that spotlight even brighter.


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A $140-MILLION REBIRTH
 
Posted: 1 Nov 2017, 2:20 pm

When making the case to renovate or replace Minneapolis’ 27-year-old Target Center, the answer was obvious to the city, owner of the venue, the National Basketball Association’s Minnesota Timberwolves, which makes its home there, and the building operator, AEG.

Holding 200 large-crowd events annually, the sixth busiest building in the country and 17th busiest in the world has a prime location in the heart of a city that has seen a plethora of new sporting facilities in the last decade and a half. These include the Xcel Energy Center, St. Paul, built in 2000; TCF Bank Stadium, erected in 2009; Major League Baseball’s Minnesota Twins’ Target Field, completed in 2010; and the National Football League’s Minnesota Vikings new home, U.S. Bank Stadium, opened in July of 2016. And construction is currently underway for a Major League Soccer stadium, Allianz Field, to house Minnesota United FC beginning in 2019.
“With so much stadium work going on, the concept of tearing down Target Center and doing another $500-million venue didn’t make sense,” said Tom Reller, Sr., Target Center’s operations director. “We realized we could do enough [with a renovation] to make a difference and preserve an asset, hence our tagline, ‘Target Center Reimagined.’”

OVERCOMING CHALLENGES
Talks for this project began in 2009, when the city made a substantial investment to install a green roof on the facility.
The approval process began in 2011 in conjunction with the U.S. Bank Stadium talks.
“This was a public/private partnership, and because the city contributed funding, we needed state approval,” said Steve Mattson, Target Center’s vice president and general manager. “Of the $140 million for this project, $74 million came from the city, the Timberwolves put in $49 million and AEG contributed $5.9 million.”
It is estimated that the extensive renovation, which touched and transformed most of the building, saved about $350 million when compared with the cost of a rebuild and has added 20 years to the arena’s useful life.
The construction timeline took about 18 months, starting in May 2016, with completion this October.
Goals of the renovation included creating additional clubs and gathering spaces, along with improving traffic flow, to enhance the fan experience. Upgrades also were needed to help draw top events to the venue.
The design and construction team consisted of architect Alliiance; Sink Combs Dethlefs for the arena design; Ericksen, Roed, and Associates as structural engineers; ME Engineers as MEP engineer; and Mortenson as the contractor.
For family-owned Mortenson, based out of Minneapolis, the project was a full circle experience. Target Center was the first sports arena the company had built back in 1990.
“We were able to transcend that experience into building sports arenas and football and college stadiums around the country,” said Derek Hansen, Mortenson’s construction executive who served as construction manager during the renovation. “We also were working with original staff that first built this venue, so it was a neat project for us from that standpoint.”
The team was faced with a number of challenges from the get-go. First and foremost was the limited footprint; Target Center takes up just one city block. This is the antithesis of today’s larger NBA buildings.
“Fortunately, we had a creative design team that was able to take every inch possible and widen concourses, while capturing stairwells and exits,” said Mattson. “There were many areas that needed modernizing, and we also had to take care of deferred maintenance.”
Not only did the exterior need to be reclad to fit better with its neighbors in the warehouse district but, because the building was constructed prior to 1992s American with Disabilities Act, upgrades were needed to bring accessibility up to code.
One of the biggest challenges was working around an open facility. More than 12,000 people pass through the Target Center skyway, yet work was phased to allow safe and continuous access throughout construction.
To minimize disruptions during the process, Mortenson held weekly meetings with all stakeholders to review anticipated construction activities and mitigate any potential conflicts. This not only included Timberwolves and Women’s Basketball Association Lynx games, but also AEG events and the neighboring Target Field, Lifetime Fitness and Hubert’s Sports Bar.

A COMPLETE OVERHAUL
To fully appreciate the venue’s menu changes, it helps to take a look back at what was.
Target Center’s biggest criticism was its lack of windows and open feel. The exterior, a combination of cement panels and various types of metals in light blue and red stood out as dated.
“The complaints were that people downtown had no idea what was going on in the Target Center, and it was important to be more open to the downtown,” said Reller.
The project was executed in three phases. The first part of the renovation began mid-April in 2016 following the end of the Timberwolves’ season. This saw the addition of a new center-hung, high-definition scoreboard; suite level renovations; the addition of premium club spaces and an in-house video production room and broadcast cabling upgrades. New audio and speaker systems also were installed.
During phase two, construction began on exterior elements, including a new modern façade and expanded marshalling yard. Also, a five-story glass atrium, lobby, box office and loading dock were added. 
During phase three, when Target Center shut down between April 17 and Oct. 20, $64 million of work was put in place, which is 44 percent of the total project cost. The major interior construction included work on locker rooms, concourses and public restrooms. Retractable and platform seating upgrades were made, along with concourse and food/beverage improvements.
“It was a great collaboration with AEG and the Wolves,” said Hansen. “It is unique to do this much work without interrupting the building overall and only having a short shut-down period.”
A movable ice floor replacement also was installed. This unique feature raises 5 feet for ice events. The rink alone weighs 1.4 million pounds and utilizes 16,000 gallons of water to create a ½-inch sheet of ice.
The 18,600-pound, 976-lineal-foot ribbon board also was installed and a new skyway connection was built to connect the venue to the parking garage.
Because e-mail and Wi-Fi were not factors in 1990, there was work in bringing Target Center up to today’s technology standards.
“One of the big changes was repurposing or trading spaces,” said Reller. “In 1990, there were 18 box office windows and a big lobby for patrons. But now people are purchasing tickets online or on their smartphones, so the lobby and box office spaces [have shrunk]. It’s just an example of how times, the use of space and technology have changed in the operation of venue spaces.”
In the workforce of 2,000, 25 percent encompassed small, women- and minority-owned businesses, and minority, women and apprentice worker participation was at almost 50 percent for this project.
“We were fortunate to bring together a public/private team where we would otherwise have a lease expiring in less than 10 years,” said Mattson. “Now these three parties have a relationship that runs until 2035 in a venue that can host anything.”

PREMIUM UPGRADES

One of the largest aspects of Minneapolis’ Target Center complete overhaul was creating a number of new premium spaces.
“When the building was constructed in 1990, it was built with a full ring of 68 suites, the first of its kind at that time,” said Steve Mattson, Target Center’s vice president and general manager. “Premium spaces in public venues have changed immensely, and we now need varying levels with different amenities.”
Not only was the east suite level renovated into club space with upgraded suites, but 10 suites also were converted into two theater boxes. Two new club spaces–Lexus Courtside Club and TCL 612 Lounge–also were added.
“This was probably the most dramatic change,” said Don Dethlefs, CEO of Sink Combs Dethlefs, design architect. “We reimagined the whole suite level with the Timberwolves.”
The suites have glass doors to be more open and offer catering or the use of shared bar space.
Located on the side on the arena bowl, the Target Center Chairman’s Suites include a private suite with a balcony and access to the Chairman’s Club. The club provides a complimentary, communal bar that overlooks center court. Each suite is set up to accommodate groups of up to 18 people with 12 premium 22-inch seats and six bar stools at a drink rail.
“This lounge space was so successful that we added four more suites on the corner, along with another bar,” said Dethlefs. “It’s a nice combination of mixing clubs and suites.”
Located on the north and south ends of the arena bowl, Theater Boxes are designed for smaller groups, with the amenities of an all-inclusive club seating experience and a sideline location. Currently, there are 20 Theater Boxes. Each box accommodates up to six people with four larger 27-inch moveable luxury chairs and two dedicated bar stools at a drink rail. These boxes are sold in four- to six-seat arrangements, depending if the bar stools are desired for additional patrons. Other amenities in this area include a seated dining area behind the drink rails that can be used prior to the event, fixed bars and portable food carts.
To add space, restrooms were removed from the suites to common areas and upgraded.
On the south end, the Treasure Island Casino was enlarged, finishes were upgraded and the flow was improved.

 


COMBINING FORCES FOR COMMON GOALS

In creating Target Center’s Design, Don Dethlefs, CEO of Sink Combs Dethlefs, which has offices in Denver, Chicago, Los Angeles and Ann Arbor, Mich., said main factors included improving fan access, the facility’s relationship to downtown and the experience of those who played sports and performed at the venue.
“We worked with the city, Timberwolves and AEG, who all had a say, to determine where to spend the money,” he said.
Because more people access the building through the skyway than on the event level, it was necessary to create better access.
“We formerly only had an entrance on the north side, so we added another skyway that is accessible on the other side of the building,” said Dethlefs.
The former lobby also was repurposed into a courtside club under the bowl.
“This club generates a great experience and enhances revenue,” he said.
With basketball practice facilities moving across the street to Mayo Clinic Square, the Timberwolves’ former offices were converted to a mid-tier club.
“We added windows wherever we could, but we were somewhat limited due to the restrooms and sports facilities located on outside walls,” said Dethlefs.
  Minneapolis-based architects Alliiance teamed up with Sink Combs Dethlefs on Target Center’s design. The firm was able to add a local perspective.
“As years have gone by and with the creation of nearby Target Field, the warehouse district has been revitalized,” said Tom Hysell, principal at Alliiance. “There are now more people living downtown, and this area has become more centralized.”
He added that the venue was built at a time where it cramped the block and spilled to property lines.
“It was a heavy building with a postmodern design, so what we needed to do was create a facility to better fit in with the city for the next 20 to 30 years,” said Hysell. “For the Timberwolves and Lynx, it was about enhancing the fan experience and increasing revenue on premium products, while AEG was about maximizing operation in a 30-year-old building.”
By repurposing space to today’s standards, the team was able to create a venue that worked for all parties.


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

FROM THE EDITOR

Influencers Kevin Twohig of Spokane, Wash., and Barbara Hubbard of Las Cruces, N.M., are like the kids who get paid to open toys on YouTube. They love life and they love people and they love the live events industry. It’s contagious. It sells.
Gathering stories about the life and times of these two luminaries, it so happened that several of them never made print, until now. On the subject of problem solving, Jack Lucas of TicketsWest shared a classic from the early 80s.
“When you run venues, you have to think on the spot. Stuff happens,” Lucas said. The stuff was snow and ice before a sold out college football game with Washington State University at the end of November at Albi Stadium in Spokane. An unexpected and severe snowfall hit just before game time. Shovelling snow off the seats was a no-brainer but, on the WSU sidelines, a solid sheet of ice made it impossible for players to stand there.
“We had Astroturf so you couldn’t pick-ax it,” Lucas recalled. “Kevin had an old white, nine passenger van. We drove the van on the field, sat it over the ice, and let it idle five or 10 minutes until the ice had melted enough we could peel it off. We went down the entire sideline like that.”
“That is problem solving. That’s what we constantly did.”
Hundreds of this industry’s bright lights have started out as Mother Hubbard’s “kids” in her ACTS program, which teaches this business through hands-on participation – which is also problem solving.
Michael Lorick, Harbinger Management, who currently works most of the time with the Bruce Springsteen organization, remembers his “Forest Gump moment, that moment when someone gives you an opportunity,” and attributes his good fortune to Barbara.
He had worked with New Mexico State University under Hubbard’s tutelage for a couple of years and wanted his last summer break job to be a springboard to a job in the industry post graduation.
He started bugging Wilson Howard of Cellar Door (now with Live Nation) in  Columbia, S.C., for a job and Howard “caved” after about four weeks. “I went in, as most students do, and answered phones and filed paperwork, but was not given responsibility. I did a fraction of what I was used to doing with Barbara.”
While pursuing Howard, he had also been chasing Hootie and the Blowfish who, in 1995, were playing frat parties at NMSU when he left, but were about to embark on a full out tour for the first time. “I pitched them on being tour accountant. We were all young and still trying to figure it out. Two weeks into the tour, they said yes, can you leave in 48 hours. They paid $25 a day per diem. I went to Wilson and explained it to him and he said, ‘you’ve gotta go.’”
“A month into the summer they actually started paying me something, and a month after that, gave me a fulltime job and I worked for them two years before finishing my last semester,” Lorick said.
Kevin and Barbara inspire so many people – some they don’t even know are watching.
God grant you many years to be a positive influencer.


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THE PRACTICALITY OF POP-UP FAIRS
 
Posted: 1 Nov 2017, 2:00 pm

On his way to Sonoma County, Calif., Todd Gralla, Populous, was reimagining the fairgrounds year-round and fairtime use.
“The key thing we’re looking at is preserving the fair,” Gralla said of the thought process for the architectural firm. “It’s not really about what the fair can do in their buildings year round; it’s the opposite. How little can we build and still have a great fair.”

The concept is to demolish all the purpose-built, maintenance-heavy barns and halls that dot the usual fairgrounds and have to be maintained year-round, while off-season bookings are minimally profitable. Those venues would be replaced with a combination of commercial buildings that generate revenue and green space that benefits the community. At fairtime, pop-ups and overlays are brought in, preserving tradition and allowing for new vision, year after year.
“You pay for that overlay, because it obviously costs more to put the fair on if you have to put up a bunch of temporary facilities,” Gralla said. “But does it make sense to raze pretty much most of the fairgrounds buildings that exist versus try to play catch up on deferred maintenance? Does it make sense to redevelop part of that property with commercial elements that actually generate money, and to come in once a year onto that green space that’s left and overlay your fair?”
Given that scenario, the budget shifts from capital funds to maintain equipment, venues and staff to run things all year and to book and maintain property that historically provides very little non-fair income, and focuses on the fair board and volunteers that put on an event once a year. It’s almost festival thinking.
There are precedents already. Charlie Smith, Populous, noted the National Western Stock Show, Denver, used overlays for the stockyards. In Fair Hill, Md., at the Fair Hill Natural Resource Management Area, which hosts the Fair Hill International and bids on international events, pop-ups are the norm now.
In a far ranging interview with Smith and Gralla, Venues Today explored their vision for the future of fairgrounds and equestrian centers and the list of ongoing projects currently underway.
Flexibility with expo halls and arenas is the dominant trend, Smith said. Visitor amenities are being improved throughout the fair and equestrian world because today’s fan is comparing the arena at the fair to a sports arena like KFC Yum! Center, Louisville, Ky., or T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas. Once a rodeo fan attends the National Finals Rodeo at T-Mobile Arena, for instance, his expectations are forever altered.
“Our expo halls are starting to be a little more like convention centers, with meeting and banquet rooms and kitchens,” Smith said of fairgrounds construction. “It used to be a box, with no pre-function registration space, concessions space, all that. The new ones like the State Fair of Oklahoma, Oklahoma City, have wonderful pre-function space and a kitchen with a corridor across the backside.”
Interconnectivity is another trend Smith sees, noting connections between the arena and trade show buildings are common now, “so that as soon as you leave the rodeo you go into the expo hall and buy boots and hats and furniture.”
Improvements to arenas like Rimrock Auto Arena at Metrapark, Billings, Mont., at the MontanaFair, a makeover made necessary following a tornado, have proven the cost is justified, Smith said. These upgraded arenas cost $120-$150 million, compared to $20-$30 million 10 years ago. “It gives them greater flexibility to do better events. Bill Dutcher (manager in Billings) is doing 100-plus events now at his place,” Smith said. “He has nice acoustical quality and nice concessions space. The renovation was eight years ago. We made it more like KFC Yum! Center and it has proven to work.”
The gold standard has become the State Fair of Oklahoma, where Manager Tim O’Toole just finished a 300,000 sq. ft. expo hall with all the amenities and is underway with a new arena that has club seats, loge seating and expo space.
“Both his expo hall and arena will be trendsetting in the fairgrounds/equestrian industry,” Smith said. “It’s not just for horse shows anymore.” But it’s still in the 5,000-10,000-seat range.
“We’re putting all of our money into the product inside the building,” Gralla added. “We’re still operating on a fairgrounds with no professional sports tenant. It’s easier to spend $250 million when you have a sports tenant. Oklahoma City is a very economical building. We have to be careful about exterior finishes. We don’t have huge budgets to clean glass curtain walls every week. We’re particularly sensitive to things like that, that cost money just because they sit there.”
Fairgrounds do not need 20,000-seat arenas, Smith said. Fairs don’t tend to gamble on big name entertainment, but they do, more and more, tap into appropriately-sized events and stars that fit the marketplace.
To that point, Smith said he more and more often advises his fairgrounds clients to consider private arena management, the SMGs and Spectra Venue Managements and AEG Facilities of the world. “I tell my clients in Florence, Ala., [building the 10,000-seat Lauderdale County Ag Events Center], ‘you need those folks to help you get started,’” Smith said. “For every star you sign up, they sign them up 15 times; who’s going to get the best price?”
He also emphasizes that if they are going to opt for private management, get them involved early, in the design phase, so the end product meets their needs.
Gralla, who is simultaneously working with the Sonoma County Fair, Santa Rosa, Calif., and the Sonoma-Marin Fair, Petaluma, Calif., noted both are faced with similar challenges – development pressure. The land is valuable.
Sonoma County is one of last big racing fairs, with a one-mile track and a big grandstand for 10 days a year of races. “The reality is, given the amount of space that takes up, we’re looking at other options for use of that space,” Gralla said.
Given the climate, an all-weather, 12-field sports complex is probably optimal. “There is a lot of actual synergy with fairgrounds buildings and the services they offer,” Gralla said. “We’re also looking at addition of a 250-room hotel/conference center for the fairgrounds. The timing is good because two hotels burnt down [in the recent wildfires that turned the fairgrounds into an evacuation center] and occupancy was tight before that happened.”
Because the fair is in an urban market and there is a shortfall of open space, Gralla and fair management feel they could be very competitive in bringing regional and even national sports competition to Sonoma County.
The master plan also looks at the possibility of keeping racing, Gralla said, “but the reality is racing is on a downturn in terms of revenue. We believe that in five years, the cost to hold racing will exceed the revenue it brings in. That’s pretty short term planning. If you are going to replace it, you have to start acting immediately. They can’t do something with a potential to lose money.”
On a side note, Gralla said there are a couple of Populous projects that are eSports venues and, “in our second phase of Pimlico Racecourse redevelopment, we’re looking at eSports, which can grow racing venues. They have a huge amount of technology there already — video screens, monitors and jumbotrons. The base technology is there to be utilized. We are looking at that in a couple of locations.” Not yet at fairgrounds, though.
Both Gralla and Smith see an end in sight for urban fairs running a 10-day race meet. While Sonoma County’s meet is important to the racing calendar, it can probably be moved to Golden Gate or another permanent racetrack. In a lot of other cases, though, fairgrounds racing will cease to exist.
Which feeds back into the trend toward temporary overlays at fairgrounds. “The capital cost of building permanent facilities continues to go up,” Gralla said. “It’s hard to build a church for Easter Sunday. You build for average monthly or weekly events.”
The Sonoma-Marin Fair is looking at a huge amount of overlays, Gralla continued. The city-owned land is under scrutiny for higher, better use like housing, retail and hospitality. “Instead, it’s a hodgepodge of fair buildings with $15 million in deferred maintenance,” he said. “How could you eliminate a lot of that ongoing operations cost and use more of that space for greater public accessibility during the year?” Better yet, make that commercial use something that generates income for the annual fair.
Another possibility is expo/convention space connected to a hotel that could be utilized by the fair every year. Commercial exhibits that require climate-controlled elements could take up the expo center and the rest could be housed in temporary layovers on what is public green space the rest of the year.
“That’s the concept we did for the State Fair of Virginia [Meadow Event Park, Doswell],” Smith said. “The concept was to develop a beautiful green fairgrounds with a couple of buildings on it; everything else was tented. I’m sure Marlene [Pierson-Joliffe, executive director] will continue that way more successfully than before.” The plan was delayed by the stock market crash, he said.
Fairgrounds are on the verge of coming full circle, they said. Thirty years ago, fairs went from tents to permanent building to year-round business models. Today, that land is so valuable and those purpose-built, permanent buildings (livestock barns and expo halls) are so expensive to maintain, it no longer makes sense except for the major players like Oklahoma City or the Minnesota State Fair, St. Paul.
The pop-ups are fabric structures, not tents, Smith cautioned. These clearspan, white structures dot many a fairgrounds today. “It’s a rental; someone comes in and sets them up and tears them down and they go away.”


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WORLD SERIES FOOD SALES ARE A HOMERUN
 
Posted: 1 Nov 2017, 2:00 pm

The 2017 World Series fed millions of dollars into two stadiums that offered delicious food, a sea of specialty drinks and mountains of merchandise at seven action-packed games between the Houston Astros and Los Angeles Dodgers.

Although the Astros won the Major League Baseball World Series, both teams rang in winning sales with food and beverage and merchandise, according to stadium officials.
“It’s exceeded everything that we’ve experienced. Even some of our manufacturers are surprised how big our numbers are compared to the Cubs and Dodgers,” said Tom Jennings, Astros vice president of merchandising and retail operations at Minute Maid Park, Houston.
Food and beverage and retail personnel at Minute Maid Park and Dodgers Stadium, Los Angeles, worked endless hours before, during and after the World Series to make sure they could keep up with the demand.
“One of the things in our line of work that we always say is that it’s organized chaos. It’s what we live for,” said Dodgers Stadium Executive Chef Ryan Evans, with Levy Restaurants. “It’s probably one of the highest revenue baseball games… I don’t know what to compare it to… the numbers that we did… I’ve never seen numbers like that.”
Both teams declined to give food and beverage and merchandise figures, saying only that sales were a home run.
Food and beverage specialties scored big with the roughly 43,300 fans per game in Houston and 54,000 fans per game at Dodgers Stadium. Four of the seven games were held at Dodgers Stadium (the first two and the last two). 
“It’s no longer about hot dogs and nachos. People are getting more educated when it comes to food,” Evans said, noting the World Series is no different.
Mat Drain, district manager for Aramark at Minute Maid Park, also understands fans’ needs.
“The feedback we receive from fans, between interaction at games and surveys, point toward having more variety and more than just the staple F&B items… The core items still generate tons of interest, but our goal is to reach all sections of the fan base with our menu,” he said in an email.
Both stadiums offered explosively yummy food, such as the Blue Heaven Ice Cream Donut Sandwich, the Houston Green Chili Chicken Steak Fries, the Short Rib Waffle Fries and the Savory Waffle Cone Station, to name a few.
A hot dog at Minute Maid Park was $5.50 and the stadium’s most expensive food items were the Prime Rib Sandwich for $18 or the Giant Nacho (which fed four) for $25, Drain said.
Each team put their own culinary spin on menu items to fit the World Series and to ensure it included team pride.
The Astros served specialty drinks in Mason jars that had the Astros star logo, offering Jalapeño Pineapple Margaritas, Cosmopolitans and Old Fashions — all for $18 a drink, with the Mason jar included.
The Dodgers served its Al Pastor Nachos and Al Pastor Fries in mini-plastic Dodgers’ helmets that also served as memorabilia for guests to take home. The Vegan Noodle Bowl was served in a plastic-bowl that was shaped as half of a baseball.
“It’s a way to have that lasting impression. We want them to go home and say, ‘The game was great and the food was amazing and these helmets are really cool,’” Evans said.
Evans, who is in his first season as executive chef for the Dodgers, created 12 food specials for the World Series concessions. Typically, he has only two food specials, aside from regular menus, at regular homestands, he said.
“We put our heart and soul into the food. We want to be the best in baseball, and we want to be the best culinary team in baseball,” Evans said.
A friendly and competitive camaraderie took place between the Astros and Dodgers merchandise and retail vice presidents immediately following both teams winning spots in the World Series.
All teams work with Major League Baseball on logo designs and upcoming demands for games and the World Series and, over the last couple of years, MLB has worked more closely with teams on what merchandise needs and wants, Jennings said.
“We’re all independent (merchandisers). The Dodgers brought all their product in; we brought all of our product in,” Jennings said. “We shared some information with the Dodgers. It’s a little tight knit community where we can share best practices.”
The Astros embraced the saying “Earn History” throughout the American League Championship Series and during the World Series games. Social media also exploded with #EarnHistory, as it was the Astros first time to win the World Series.
“It was surreal,” Jennings said about the win.
As the World Series games continued, Jennings and his team “brought in a pretty large amount of product. We got deliveries as early as 4 a.m. the next morning at the Astros team store.”
The final game took place in L.A., but nearly 20,000 fans gathered for a watch party at Minute Maid Park. The merchandise was flying off the shelves at the team store in the stadium throughout the entire game, and people didn’t mind standing in line, Jennings said.
“We had people lining up at the store, probably at the Fifth Inning,” he said. “Instead of watching it on TV, people started lining up at the team store. By the time the Ninth Inning rolled around, we had 400 to 500 people lined up to get championship merchandise.”
The Astros had to close the store between the Seventh Inning and the end of the 9th inning in order to stock championship retail items.
“The number one item was the infield cap that had World Series on the side,” Jennings said. “When we actually clinched the victory, hats and T-shirts that the players were wearing on the field were the most popular.”
Both teams had a variety of retail of products, including glassware, pendants, pens, hats, T-shirts and more.
Sales weren’t only huge during the seven World Series games, but also before and after, according to both teams.
“From the moment we clinched the World Series, there were lines, upon lines, upon lines of people wanting to buy things,” said Allister Annear, VP of merchandising and retail for the Dodgers. “It was nuts.”
Business immediately jumped 60 percent for the Dodgers, Annear said, declining to give sales figures, saying only that, “Our numbers were unbelievable.”
For the Dodgers, women’s merchandise was up 60 percent in sales and kids retail was up 13 percent, Annear said, adding that women were really snatching up the female version of the baseball players’ jersey.
Although the lines were long at Dodgers Stadium throughout the entire World Series hype, customers didn’t seem to mind, Annear said. “We had very, very, very few complaints. Everyone was completely happy and excited,” he said.
It’s been 29 years since the Dodgers won the World Series, but Annear said the team is hoping to end the “drought” next year.
Since the last game of the World Series was at Dodgers Stadium, the team ordered what’s called “If Win” boxes full of merchandise that said Dodgers World Series Champions. However, since the Dodgers didn’t win, Annear had a grace period to send the boxes back to the manufacturer.
“We literally have to ship it back unopened,” he said. “It’s great to have it here when they win.”
Annear has great respect for the Astros and Jennings’ retail team.
“As crazy as it was for us, it was just as crazy for Houston. There was great bonding with the two teams, especially on the merchandise level. We’re still competing, but it’s all in good fun and good sport.”

 


WHAT THEY ATE: WORLD SERIES MENUS

DODGERS STADIUM, LOS ANGELES/LEVY RESTAURANTS
Cheet-0-Lote: Roasted sweet corn on the cob slathered in chipotle-lime mayo, dusted with Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, cotija cheese & tajin seasoning.
Chicken Waffle Sammy: Belgian waffle, spicy crispy chicken with candied smoked bacon, maple syrup.
Vegan Noodle Bowl: Vietnamese bean thread noodle, nappa cabbage, shredded carrots, diced cucumber, peanuts, diced jalapeño, peanut sauce.
Shrimp Shooter: Grilled jumbo shrimp bathed in L.A.’s michelada mix with a shot of Don Julio tequila.
Char Siu Baby Back Ribs: Smoked baby back ribs slathered in Char Siu style BBQ, served with garlic fries.
Lobster Roll: New England style lobster mix on a King’s Hawaiian Sweet Roll, served with garlic fries.
Wagyu Beef Cheeseburger: Kobe-style American beef ½-lb. burger, creamy American cheese, crispy bacon, grilled onions, herbed mayo on a Brioche bun with kettle chips.
Smoked Chicken Platter: Smoked chicken leg & thigh with sweet smoky BBQ sauce, served with roasted corn, ramen slaw & corn bread.
“Al Pastor” Nachos: Major League Souvenir Helmet includes crispy tortilla chips topped with “Al Pastor” style pork, refried beans, nacho cheese sauce, pico de gallo & avocado crema.
“Al Pastor” Fries: Souvenir helmet includes crispy fries topped with “Al Pastor” style pork, pico de gallo & avocado crema.
Short Rib Waffle Fries: Braised short ribs, red wine reduction sauce over waffle fries topped with crispy cheese curds.
Vegan Nachos: Crispy tortilla chips topped with Vegan cheese, pico de gallo, jalapeños & salsa verde.
Coctel de Camaron: Shrimp cocktail includes tomato, cucumber, red onion, cilantro, avocado, jalapeño in shrimp broth & lime juice.
This Team! Dog: 1/3-lb. all-beef dog topped with chili, cheese sauce, pastrami, drizzled spicy mustard & pickles.
Blue Heaven Ice Cream Donut Sandwich: Blue vanilla ice cream in a blue glazed donut with blue & white sprinkles.
Specialty Apples: Caramel apples with crushed Oreos, s’mores or chamoy.
Churro Sundae: Cinnamon sugar churro complements soft-serve ice cream topped with whipped cream, chocolate syrup & blue sprinkles in a helmet.
Souvenir Moscow Mule: Ketel One Vodka, lime juice, ginger beer, lime wedge in a souvenir LA Ketel One mug.
Blue Slugger Cocktail: Vodka, Blue Caracao, Pineapple juice, fresh lemon sour mix with a splash of Sprite.
Blue Crush Cocktail: Ciroc Vodka, Blue Caracao, Sprite, lemonade & sweet & sour.

MINUTE MAID PARK, HOUSTON/ARAMARK
NEW FOR THE SERIES
Houston Green Chili Chicken Stak: Fresh cut fries, green chili chicken, cotija, pico de gallo, sour cream.
L.A. Queso Stak: Fresh cut fries, pork carnitas, pico de gallo, jalapenos, sour cream.?
#EarnHistory Burger: Double stacked bacon burger with cheddar cheese and a split brisket sausage served on a fresh baked challah bun with crispy jalapeno strips.
Street Taco & Salsa Bar: Pulled pork tacos served with pineapple chunks and mango habanero glaze. Salsa & guacamole station served with chips.
Brisket Taco Station: Braised brisket served on flour tortillas with pickled red onions, fresh jalapenos, cilantro, and a chipotle aioli.
Savory Waffle Cone Station: Savory seasoned waffle cone filled with cheesy mac n cheese topped with braised brisket, shredded cheese, and green onions with a drizzle of siracha aioli.

MINUTE MAID PARK FAVORITES
Shake Shack ShackBurger: Cheeseburger topped with lettuce, tomato, ShackSauce.
Torchy’s Tacos Fried Avocado:  Hand-battered fresh avocados fried and served with vegetarian refried beans, topped with pico, lettuce & cheese. Served with poblano sauce on a corn tortilla.
Little Bigs by Bryan Caswell: Grilled chicken sliders with homemade pickles.
Springer Splash Funnel Cake (inspired by George Springer’s early season foul ball that landed in a MMP deep fryer): Funnel cake with a baseball-sized scoop of ice cream and raspberry sauce for laces.
Chicken & Waffle Cone: Fried chicken, mashed potatoes, honey mustard drizzle.


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TALKING POINTS
 
Posted: 1 Nov 2017, 2:00 pm

Frank_Head_Shot_002.jpgFRANK REMESCH
GM, ROYAL FARMS ARENA, BALTIMORE
HOMETOWN: Baltimore.
UNIVERSITY: University of Maryland, Baltimore
FIRST JOB IN THE INDUSTRY: Building electrician right here at Royal Farms Arena.
HOW DID YOU GET YOUR CURRENT JOB: I moved up; I’ve only worked in this building my entire career.
FAVORITE PART OF YOUR JOB: Closing a deal; seeing the audience at a sold-out show.
WHAT WOULD YOU BE DOING IF NOT THIS: I’d own a small farm where I’d take in abandoned pets.
MENTORS: Donna Julian, Hank Abate and my dad.
WHAT DID YOU THINK YOU WOULD DO WHEN YOU WERE A KID: Baseball player.
FREE TIME PURSUITS: Play baseball, lift weights, rescue English Mastiffs.
ONE-DAY ESCAPE: Montana.
TOP SONG ON YOUR PLAYLIST RIGHT NOW: Megadeth or the Eagles, depending on my mood.
WHAT IS THE MOST EMBARRASSING SONG ON YOUR PLAYLIST RIGHT NOW: “Love Machine” by the Miracles.
FAMOUS PERSON YOU WOULD LIKE TO MEET: Arnold Schwarzenegger.
WHAT WOULD PEOPLE BE SURPRISED TO LEARN ABOUT YOU: I’m a little OCD about fixing things.
BEST ADVICE EVER RECEIVED: Where the mind goes the body follows.
FAVORITE LIVE EVENT ATTENDED: A Pam Shriver tennis event; she was awesome and had celebrities play the game while she ‘roasted’ them.
DESIRED SUPER POWER: To fly.


Naparlo_BW_200px.jpgJACKIE NAPARLO
DIRECTOR OF BOOKING FOR SMG RICHMOND (VA.)
HOMETOWN: Hillsboro, N.H.
UNIVERSITY: James Madison Univ., Harrisonburg, Va.
FIRST JOB IN THE INDUSTRY: Assistant to Ted Mankin at Live Nation in D.C.
HOW DID YOU GET YOUR CURRENT JOB: Don Wehner with Upfront Inc. gave my resume to Dolly Vogt at SMG Richmond.
FAVORITE PART OF THE JOB: The relationships you build and that every day is different.
WHAT WOULD YOU BE DOING IF NOT THIS: I’d be a stay-at-home mom.
MENTORS: I was lucky enough to work for two extremely strong women in the industry, Gayle Holcomb with WME and Dolly Vogt, my current boss. I don’t think either of them know what an impact they’ve made on me.
WHAT DID YOU THINK YOU WOULD DO WHEN YOU WERE A KID: I wanted to be a forensic psychologist until my first music industry class at university.
BIGGEST PET PEEVE:  Slow walkers.
ONE-DAY ESCAPE: The spa.
TOP SONG ON YOUR PLAYLIST RIGHT NOW: My playlist basically consists of all Michael Franti.
WHAT WOULD PEOPLE BE SURPRISED TO LEARN ABOUT YOU: I’ve only had one hamburger in my entire life, which was at my wedding. 
BEST ADVICE EVER RECEIVED:  When you have a general impulse to do something, follow it, whether it’s starting a business or reorganizing your file cabinets; just do it. It doesn’t have to be perfect, just start it or else you’ll never start anything.
FAVORITE LIVE EVENT: Prince in 2006 in Washington, D.C., at a tiny club called Nation Nightclub 3am.


TimJON_9786LOW.jpgTIM FENNELL
PRESIDENT & CEO, SAN DIEGO COUNTY FAIR, DEL MAR, CALIF.
HOMETOWN: Bridgeport, Conn.
UNIVERSITY: St. Bonaventure University, Olean, N.Y.
HOW DID YOU GET YOUR CURRENT JOB: Paul Allen is responsible. Paul bought the Trail Blazers and built a new building and my job at the old building disappeared. We came to visit Del Mar and a headhunter contacted me.
MENTOR: Cliff Wallace.
FREE TIME PURSUITS: Work out, go on horse drives.
BIGGEST PET PEEVE: Bureaucracy.
TOP SONG ON YOUR PLAYLIST RIGHT NOW: “Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue” by Toby Keith.
FAMOUS PERSON YOU WOULD LIKE TO MEET: Martin Luther King, Jr.
WHAT WOULD PEOPLE BE SURPRISED TO LEARN ABOUT YOU: I used to work on the 86th floor of the Empire State Building.
BEST ADVICE  EVER RECEIVED: Never give up.
IF YOU COULD HAVE AN ENDLESS SUPPLY OF ANYTHING, WHAT WOULD IT BE: Happiness.
BIGGEST GUILTY PLEASURE: Sneaking into the coffee room and eating everyone’s chocolate.
FAVORITE LIVE EVENT ATTENDED: Muhammad Ali in the Heavyweight Championship in 1977 at the Capital Centre, Landover, Md.
PREFERRED SUPER POWER: To cure cancer.


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SCORING, STREAMING STRATEGIES INCREASE RELEVANCE
 
Posted: 1 Nov 2017, 2:00 pm

Producers of dirt shows, such as rodeos, extreme sports and off-road motorcycle racing, are keenly aware of the changing viewing preferences of the fans they target. Audiences expect fresh ways to experience events, and producers are leaning forward in response to explore innovative approaches to satisfying a modern fan’s appetites.

“There is tremendous competition for people’s time, more so than ever before, and we as event producers need to make sure we are delivering a tremendous, authentic, immersive experience for fans to make our events continue to break through all of the available opportunities,” said Tim Reed, vice president of ESPN’s X Games.
Producers pointed to a variety of ways they are updating their events, including one common thread — increased use of technology. Other steps include altering the rules of competition to better fit fans’ interests and attention spans and seeking ways to engage with them during and after events.
“Experience, engagement and relevance are key terms,” said Ellen Newberg, senior vice president of event marketing for Professional Bull Riders. “Fans increasingly want to have a memorable experience when attending live events relevant to them. They want to share their unique moments and engage with experiential content that is relevant to their lives.”
Reno Rosser, president of Rosser Rodeo, said entertainment value remains the key to luring in audiences.
“We are prioritizing crowd participation in our shows,” Rosser said. “Our goal each and every year is to bring something new to rodeo. We strive to tweak every venue to make the next year’s event better and different than the year before.”
Reed said success depends on being ambitious and seeking to answer the critical question, “What’s next?” — and then striving to be ready for it.
“It’s our job as producers to remain on top of what the current trends are and make sure we integrate those into our shows,” Reed said. “It’s always hard to tell what the future brings, but you have to be willing to take some chances and try new things.”

USING TECH TO SPARK FAN ENTHUSIASM
Producers are increasingly searching for creative ways to use new technology to reach fans and offer them a chance to view their product. The Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA), for instance, launched a new digital platform, ProRodeoTV.com.
“This is a service that livestreams big rodeos around the country, but it also features one-of-a-kind archived footage, which includes video from the first ever National Finals Rodeo in 1959, among other fascinating videos,” said Justin Shaw, media director for the PRCA. “ProRodeoTV.com debuted Sept. 29-30 in Sioux Falls, S.D. and, while the livestream schedule for 2018 is still being finalized, we plan to stream somewhere between 20 and 30 of our premier rodeos live to fans across the world on any of their devices.”
The X Games stepped into brand-new territory this year with the use of virtual reality. At the X Games competition in Minneapolis in July, the X Games partnered with Samsung to offer livestreamed VR coverage of three events, giving viewers in 48 countries a thrillingly original perspective on the competition. Those who tuned in could watch skateboarding and BMX events in 360 degrees.
“As far as I know, we were the first action sports event to do that,” Reed said.
Professional Bull Riders (PBR) offered free livestreams for two of the sport’s largest events of the year — the PBR Real Time Pain Relief Velocity Tour Finals and the inaugural PBR Global Cup — featuring full broadcast teams and multi-camera setups. Newberg said PBR is developing new ways for fans to experience events with digital technology in 2018, including more events and behind-the-scenes content designed to create emotional connections with riders. PBR also is introducing a new console game, “8 to Glory — Bull Riding,” which will be available on XBox and PlayStation.
“In addition to a great in-arena experience, fans increasingly want content anywhere and anytime,” Newberg said. “PBR is committed to providing a world-class digital experience to give fans the best live access to must-see PBR events.”
Technology also plays an integral role in the changing fan experience in person. Event producers are integrating social media into the experience for live crowds, and David Prater, senior director of operations for 2 Wheel for Feld Entertainment, which operates the Monster Energy AMA Supercross series, said Supercross and others have worked to satisfy fans’ need for real-time information.
“People have become so used to watching live sports on television and getting detailed analysis with graphics, slow-motion replay, expert commentators, etc., that they have come to expect the same experience when attending the live event,” Prater said. “Supercross and the sports industry as a whole has been focusing on making the live-event experience better in those ways and will continue to do so in the foreseeable future.”

CHANGING THE WAY THE GAME IS PLAYED
Evolving to meet fans’ preferences goes far beyond just the way events are presented. It even extends to the rules of the games themselves. For instance, Prater said his organization has introduced timed racing into its program. Supercross previously had stuck to lapped racing, but varying sizes and lengths of racetracks from stadium to stadium meant that race times could differ by a margin of as much as four minutes.
“By going to a timed format, we standardized the length of time the fans got to experience racing and see their favorite riders on the track,” Prater said. “It also helped to greatly improve the flow of the television program because we now had a standardized formula to work with.”
Prater said 2018 will see the most changes in Supercross history with the introduction of a new points system, two new racing formats and an amateur Supercross program, among other additions.
“All of the changes we have implemented promise to deliver some of the most exciting races and most competitive season the sport has ever seen,” Prater said.
In PBR, the way competitors are scored will change. PBR is planning to shift from human judging to a scoring system that uses Internet of things technology, such as sensors and data analytics. The new system is being driven by HEED, a joint venture created by AGT International and WME/IMG, PBR’s parent company. It will be tested in the 2018 season.
“In simple terms, the hardest bull to ride should register the highest score,” Newberg said. “For the first time, PBR will quantify and qualify the bulls’ moves with objective data and ensure that the most difficult bull is the highest-scored animal athlete.”
In a similar vein, even though the Nitro Circus Live events are not about competition but the show itself, organizers are forever striving to keep it fresh for audiences.
“It’s a show that you can come back to and come back to and it’s never the same show twice,” said Kurt Nicoll, vice president of global touring for Nitro Circus. “We’re really aware of changing it up and changing the theme and changing the content to make sure people keep loving what we do.”

GROWTH AND OPTIMISM
Dirt show producers expressed optimism that their efforts are paying off. Some have seen promising growth in recent years, and they say signs point to their products matching contemporary tastes.
For instance, Newberg said fan trends suggest that bull riding has a chance to break into the mainstream. Between 2011 and 2016, the PBR fanbase in the country grew from 72 million to 82.5 million and the PBR on CBS ratings are up by 12 percent in 2017.
“Capturing the attention of ever-elusive millennials is a challenge,” Newberg said. “PBR is a sport of 8-second bursts of mayhem all night long, packaged in a rock-and-roll atmosphere. We feel we are well-positioned for capturing the fandom of the next generation.”
Nicoll said Nitro Circus keeps “expanding and expanding” with tours across the world that keep reaching new audiences and building on existing ones. Nitro Circus returned to Japan, South Africa and Abu Dhabi in 2017 and made its first trip to Saudi Arabia, where they found “a wild crowd” enthusiastic about the show. And 2018 will bring tours not only in North America but in Australia and Europe.
“We’re solidifying the popularity of the brand all over the world,” Nicoll said.
Shaw said attendance for Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association events grew to 6.5 million in 2016 — an all-time record and 1 million more fans than the year before. “We’ve never had more people going to rodeos, talking about rodeos on social media and watching rodeo on television,” Shaw said.
Shaw said his organization believes rodeo’s days as a “fringe sport” are numbered.
“We honestly feel that the sport of professional rodeo is about to explode, much in the way NASCAR and Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) have in the past decade,” Shaw said.
Prater feels similarly sanguine about Supercross’ prospects. He said both live event attendance and television ratings rose in 2017.
“I’m excited about what the future holds,” Prater said. “I believe Supercross is in a fantastic spot for growth. We deliver short bite-sized action-packed races throughout the three-hour event. In 2018, people consume content in bite-sized pieces and that’s exactly what we deliver.”

 

 


STARPOWER STILL REIGNS

No matter what the administrators of a sports organization do to attract fans, nothing beats robust competition and starpower. It doesn’t matter how carefully every event is planned or how many clever bells and whistles organizers implement for the fan experience if the action on the venue floor doesn’t measure up. Success, dirt show producers said, still leans heavily on the quality of the athletes and the show they put on.
“It all starts with outstanding competition,” said Ellen Newberg, senior vice president for event marketing for Professional Bull Riders.
David Prater, senior director of operations, 2 Wheel, for Feld Entertainment, said the 2017 MonsterEnergy AMA Supercross season was a gripping one for fans, helping to galvanize support for the sport. The season featured “one of the most exciting championship battles in the history of the sport with the 450SX championship going down to the last lap of the final race,” as well as tightly contested regional championships.
“The past year for our organization was tremendous,” Prater said.
As the athletes’ performances reach new heights, dirt show producers say they must adjust their infrastructure and planning to allow their stars the space to stretch themselves and demonstrate their skills. Producers also need standouts who can perform to fan expectations. For instance, Shad Petersen, general manager of Play with Gravity, a Wyoming-based mototrials team, said the mototrials world competitions have remained relatively stable — with one exception.
“The low ramp backflip is becoming more common, and at a certain point a show will need to have one in order to attract or keep the bigger clients,” Petersen said.
In Professional Bull Riders, Newberg said the elite Built Ford Tough series enjoyed the closest points race in PBR history in 2017. Perhaps more importantly, the sport has succeeded in developing a fan-friendly crop of stars who are capturing attention — one of the perks of being part of WME | IMG, the PBR parent organization that boasts a rich history of promoting entertainment and sports talent.
The success the sport has enjoyed developing and promoting its stars is reflected in prominent media attention, including the sport’s best being featured in outlets such as CBS This Morning, Men’s Journal, Men’s Fitness, Interview, VICE-ESPN and other fashion and entertainment media. PBR is also capitalizing on increasing starpower with IMG original content for specials that feature their top performers, such as an eight-part series, “I Got Wrecked,” on Verizon’s Rated Red Network.
Even retired PBR riders are enjoying the spotlight and helping boost the sport. Bonner Bolton is a former championship PBR rider who was forced to retire because of injury. With the help of WME | IMG, Bolton has begun working as a fashion model and even appeared as a contestant on “Dancing with the Stars,” offering a major platform for the PBR brand.
The importance of talent means talent development is a critical job for an organization. Nitro Circus and its founder, Travis Pastrana, launched the Nitro World Games in 2016 as a way of spurring talent development and focusing on “progression” among its participants, said Kurt Nicoll, vice president of global touring for Nitro Circus. The organization hosts free action sports training sessions geared to the world games. The hundreds of participants get an opportunity to improve and push each other, while Nitro Circus gains a chance to identify and train new talent.
“The Nitro World Games has become a great feeder for us,” Nicoll said. — Tom Gresham


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THE BLOGGER WHO BUSTED BLOOMINGTON
 
Posted: 1 Nov 2017, 2:00 pm

Even for Illinois residents long accustomed to dishonest business and governmental dealings in Honest Abe's “Land of Lincoln,” the news came as a shock.
John Y. Butler, owner of Central Illinois Arena Management (CIAM), had been hit with 44 indictments relating to revenues allegedly withheld from the City of Bloomington, Ill. while CIAM operated the event space formerly known as U.S. Cellular Coliseum.

The alleged corruption hadn't been discovered by the folks at Bloomington City Hall. Nor had it been unearthed by local media in the Central Illinois twin college towns of Bloomington-Normal.
No, it had been dug up by a lone blogger, Diane Benjamin, who, holed up in a farmhouse outside town, used talents honed in her days as an accountant, as well as Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests and persistence, to uncover CIAM's alleged shenanigans.
“I first thought something was amiss back in 2013, just looking at the reports,” Benjamin says. “We had no details on where they were spending the money, too much was being spent on legal fees, and the concessions were never audited. The auditing of concession income should have been done by the City of Bloomington. The city did audit the rest of the revenues from the coliseum, but not the concessions.”
Butler had set up a separate company to run the concessions at the coliseum, and a city official had approved that separate company, Benjamin reports. “The contract did spell out the percentage of concession sales the city is supposed to get, but there's no way for the city to know how much that should be without knowing the gross.”
The city had purchased point-of-sale equipment to ring up sales throughout the coliseum. The contract gave the city the right to visit the coliseum and audit those sales at any time.
“We have a city manager form of government, and apparently the city manager did not appoint someone to do that,” Benjamin says. “I heard the previous city manager did not audit the concession sales, but did look at some of the event reports. And that the current city manager, who came here in 2009, never looked at any reports.”
As a former certified public accountant, Benjamin finds the analysis of numbers comes easy. “I'm comparing the CIAM-issued quarterly reports with the once-a-year auditor's reports, and the numbers didn't match,” she says. “The losses from operations could be hundreds of thousands of dollars off. CIAM showed less of a loss than the yearly audit did. They were not accruing the expenses they would have absorbed, to make the reports look better.”
Digging further, Benjamin found that, for instance, if a band played the coliseum and $20,000 worth of T-shirts were sold, CIAM took a four percent slice of $20,000. But it was entitled to four percent of the perhaps $2,000 remaining after the band got its cut, she says.

IT PLAYED IN PEORIA
The contract also stipulated the coliseum would be managed by one executive who had no other job. In fact, Benjamin says, CIAM had two managers on premise, both of them also managing a hockey team in Peoria, Ill., about 40 miles northwest of Bloomington. “Then they were running side companies out of the coliseum, including a bus company,” she adds.
But Benjamin's chief fascination was with the concession proceeds, “which was a big number, and no one was looking at it,” she recalls. “The concession sales went down every year, and it just didn't seem logical it was dropping that fast.”
On Sept. 21, 2015, Benjamin filed a lawsuit for the sole purpose of preventing the city of Bloomington and CIAM from simply renewing the contract. After all, she says, everything she had blogged about CIAM's management had been ignored by the City Council.
“I filed a FOIA request with the city and, of course, was denied,” she adds. “I knew by 2015 they were going to start negotiations with CIAM. In order to stop that I filed a lawsuit. It was pro se, I did it all on my own. In late 2015, I had settlement talks with the city, and one of the city attorneys was sitting in the talks and said, 'We didn't have a problem with what they paid us.' That indicated they hadn't bothered to find out how much they should have been paid.”
While the lawsuit phase was continuing, CIAM decided to vacate the contract at its expiration in March 2016, Benjamin says. “They then shredded all kinds of documents, and had a shredding truck come up and they were just dumping documents in it and shredding them,” she alleged. “And no one from the city did anything to stop them.”

TALE OF THE TAPE
About 15 months ago, in August 2016, the city obtained the cash register tapes of point-of-sale equipment, which yielded three years worth of total sales divided into concession types sold. Obtaining the figures herself, Benjamin determined what she believes was stolen.
The total: $447,317.  “And that's just three years; they managed it for 10,” she says. “That doesn't include the concessions and management fees they took they weren't entitled to. I'm thinking it was way over $1 million.”
Last month, October of 2017, “five guys were charged with 111 felonies,” Benjamin reports. “They have a status hearing coming up. Nothing really big is happening yet. And pretty much everyone believes there's going to be a plea bargain.”
The bad old days are behind the city now that the venue has been renamed Grossinger Motors Arena and its management turned over to Ames, Ia.-based VenuWorks. “I don't know what the relationship between the management company and the city was like before we got there,” says VenuWorks president Steven Peters.
“But we always have a policy of complete transparency, and most of our clients are indeed municipalities. We're proceeding in that manner. That's how we've operated in the 16 months we've been at that arena in Bloomington.”
VenuWorks has ambitious plans for the arena in the months and years ahead, Peters adds. It will host a variety of family-friendly events, including Cirque Dreams Holidaze, Paw Patrol and a number of holiday shows. Comic Jim Gaffigan, World Championship Ice Racing and Judas Priest Firepower 2018 Tour with special guest Saxon will also perform there.
“We're home to a USHL hockey team in Bloomington, and there's a basketball team called The Edge in the building, part of the Premier Basketball League,” Peters says.
To win the management contract, VenuWorks went through a review process that involved a presentation to city officials, and an eventual approval by the Bloomington City Council. “We were in a process that also included Spectra and MSG; that was my understanding,” Peters says.
Acknowledging VenuWorks' headquarters only 325 miles from Bloomington may have given the company a leg up in helping capture the contract, Peters notes, “Most of our venues are in the Midwest, and they know we're close by if they need us.”?
The 12-year-old event space is undergoing renovation, with rehabs of the dasher boards, glass and ice system topping the list. “A lot of good things are happening,” Peters says. “It's kind of a unique market, with a lot of great night life between Bloomington and Normal. You have Illinois Wesleyan and Illinois State University. We think it's a great market. It's a great building, and we're excited about the future.”?

IRONIC NOTE
Benjamin observes with a chuckle that before the venue was built in the middle of the Millennial Decade, the city held a non-binding referendum to determine whether citizens wanted it constructed. “And 60 percent of voters said, 'Don't build it,'” she recalls.
It was built nonetheless. Twelve years later, her findings have left Benjamin unlikely to capture any popularity crowns with movers and shakers near the confluence of Interstates 55 and 74.
“The city hates me, because [this] proves they did not find bilking they should have,” she says. “And the media hate me, because they didn't find it either.
“I'm an unpaid blogger sitting in the middle of a cornfield, and I've identified more corruption than they've ever thought could have existed. And I'm not done.”


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THE LIFE + TIMES OF MOTHER HUBBARD
 
Posted: 1 Nov 2017, 2:00 pm

At 90, Barbara (Mother) Hubbard is still writing the play and teaching the actors in live entertainment

by Jessica Boudevin

Educator. Coach. Mentor. Icon. Eighty-two years in the workforce has only stoked Barbara “Mother” Hubbard’s drive. The nonagenarian began working at just eight years old, starting her quest to make an impact young. She has shaped the face of entertainment in Las Cruces, N.M., for half a century and has no intention of stopping any time soon.
  Hubbard has already fit several careers into one lifetime. She spent many years as a physical education teacher at New Mexico Public Schools, beginning her time at New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, in 1966 when then Athletic Director Lou Henson called her to open the doors of the Pan American Center in 1968.  At the time, the facility solely hosted athletic events, but Hubbard had bigger plans that included turning the 13,000-seat venue into a must-stop for acts such as Ike & Tina Turner (the first facility rental in 1970) and Charley Pride (the first in-house production).
“People like me – we are driven,” she said. “The process is what keeps us going.”
She had to be driven. Other than a secretary, Hubbard was the only staff person until 1987 when she hired an assistant. Before that point, she ran the building relying entirely on the help of students.
It was during that time that Hubbard grew her passion for those students into the American Collegiate Talent Showcase (ACTS), which she has overseen and served as executive director of since 1978. ACTS began with a talent contest and scholarship in 1972, designed to benefit students studying music and theater. There are now 17 endowments, that Hubbard has fostered, named after and supported by such icons as Bob Hope, Reba McEntire, Keith Urban and George Strait, pursuing music, and special events or entertainment business endowments inspired by business leaders such as Irving Azoff, Ben Farrell and Lon Varnell.
“I have kids all over the country and the world,” says Hubbard, speaking of her students. “You have to care about these young people and allow them to get hands-on experience.” 

THE BUSINESS NOW
Though she ‘retired’ as director of Special Events at New Mexico State University in 1996, she continues her role with ACTS and continues to develop new ideas.
She is working on bringing a new entertainment business degree to New Mexico State University (as it relates specifically to venue management, club to stadium), along with working to secure an estimated $35 million to build a multiuse amphitheater complex.
“Education and training pays off,” says Hubbard. “Companies would rather have youngsters who have had some experience than just bringing them in and taking the time and investment to train them one by one.” 
She has been recognized numerous times: as an inaugural Venues Today Woman of Influence in 2007, Billboard’s Golden Circle Award recipient, Pollstar’s inaugural Lifetime Achievement Award winner in 2015, the International Entertainment Buyers Association’s Harry Peebles Founder’s Award honoree, and the NMSU Presidential Medallion.
“It’s nice, but you know what it does for me?” Hubbard asks. “It makes me feel like my students make me look good because they’re so successful. We’ve probably got more kids in the business than most people. There are people all over this industry with New Mexico State University shirts and socks — especially socks.” 
FAMILY BUSINESS
Hubbard prefers to connect with people face-to-face, on the phone or heart-to-heart instead of on Facebook. She keeps her own biological children, with late husband of 47 years Pierce, within a stone’s throw.
“If I’m looking at the mountains out my window, on the left-hand side is my rock’n’roll drummer and on my right is my redneck cowboy,” she says, of her two sons, Dru and Hub, respectively. They and their families come for Sunday dinner each week “and have been doing so for umpteen years, but now the boys help me cook.”
On the menu this week: barbecue chicken succotash, cabbage coleslaw, garlic bread, key lime pie, chocolate cake and ice cream. The evening includes from 12-22 people. On a less rigid schedule, Hubbard’s industry ‘kids’ will swing by when routing allows for her signature enchiladas, which she’s happy to make any hour.
Her mind is sharper than ever, and her body is keeping up thanks to a strong foundation from years of teaching physical education and “running up and down the PanAm steps in the days before walkie-talkies or these crazy telephones we have now.”
Most nights she hops on a stationary bicycle and she enjoys hanging upside down on her inversion table to “give the joints a break.” Plus, she is constantly on the move, constantly walking, including on the NMSU campus.
“If you were to walk from the box office to Scott Breckner’s office (director of Special Events at NMSU), that’s a quarter-mile, easy,” said Hubbard. “You have to take care of this old machine we call the body, especially on the shadowy side of the mountain.”

MEMORABLE MOMENTS
As she tirelessly provides advice and opportunities for others, Hubbard remains grateful to those who helped her along the way. Legendary promoters Ben Farrell and the late Lon Varnell became friends early on, along with former Great Western Forum and Ticketmaster exec Claire Rothman.
“When you get into this business when I did, there wasn’t any textbook for it. I had to have some guidance,” she said. “Just to pick up the phone and be able to call them was a great help.”
In addition to providing her with the ‘Mother’ Hubbard name, Bob Hope left another lasting impression on Hubbard’s life by lending his name to help start the ACTS program. In 1973, she brought Vietnam to Bob Hope for a Christmas show at Pan American Center for 12,593 veterans and civilians, without a dry eye in the house, which still ranks as one of Hubbard’s most meaningful events. In the process of that event, Hubbard connected with Hope’s publicist Ward Grant and manager Mark Anthony.
“It’s one of those things you don’t stop and remember, often enough,” she said. “But, boy, when you sit down and think about it, a lot of people really help you get where you are.”
Don Fox and Barry Leff of Beaver Productions “gave me a vote of confidence and trusted that I could do it,” when it came to Hubbard’s first stadium production in 1992, a show featuring Metallica and Faith No More at Aggie Memorial Stadium that sold 37,000 tickets. “I give them a lot of ‘thank yous’ for trusting me and the kids,” she added, and went on to bring other big shows to the stadium including Paul McCartney and The Eagles.
Though there have been too many memorable moments to count in the past, Hubbard is focused on creating new memories and experiences. A large anniversary is looming, with 2018 marking half a century since Hubbard opened Pan American Center. She’s working to bring five major shows to the arena – one to celebrate each decade.
Hubbard’s motto hasn’t changed since her first in-house production, a concert with Charley Pride.  His manager, Jack Johnson, asked Hubbard if she had ever done anything similar before.
“I said, ‘No, Jack, but you know what? I’m going to give it the old college try,’” Hubbard reminisced. “That’s the same thing I did with putting the first concerts in this valley, bringing tours to the stadium, and doing the ACTS program. It’s all been  ‘the old college try,’ and I wouldn’t trade that for all the tea in China.”

 

 


MOTHER HUBBARD-ISMS

“I’m not on anyone’s payroll, so no one can fire me. I get to preach what I feel like we need to meet the needs we’re facing today.”

“The greatest heritage anyone can have is a good foundation.”

“I’m just doing what I love doing. I don’t know what 90 is supposed to feel like. It’s one of those crazy things in life.”

“You never know when your time’s up. I’m ready whenever He calls. But I laugh and tell everyone I want to talk Him out of it for a few more years.”

“For me I’d rather love than hate. I’d rather be positive than negative. Anyway, my life has been a great, great journey.”

“If you ask if I’m spiritual, well I’m afraid I am. Actually, I’d be more afraid if I weren’t…. I’d rather live my life as if there is a judgment day than not and find out there is. I’m betting on the Come.”

“Life is a great big ol’ platter, and I want to pick everything I can pick.”

 


CREATING A LEARNING PLACE

The live entertainment industry is populated with well over a hundred former students and assistants to Barbara (Mother) Hubbard of New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, for one very important reason – she believes in learning by doing. Students who worked on concerts with Hubbard at the Pan American Center, Las Cruces, and other venues in the region were given instructions and let loose to make it happen.
“We had adult supervision, but we were never kicked out of the [settlement] room,” said Michael Lorick, Harbinger Management, who learned the business by transferring to NMSU to work with Hubbard in the 90’s. Today, his main client is Bruce Springsteen and he reviews deals and handles accounting for various touring acts, a career that began with Hootie and the Blowfish back in his Las Cruces days.
He vividly recalls wanting to get into the music business and representing his school at the time, the University of South Carolina, Columbia, at a National Association of Campus Activities conference in Nashville. Hubbard caught his attention because she seemed to be a magnet to everyone in the room, perhaps, he surmised, because she was a nice old lady. Then he found out about all the name acts traveling to Las Cruces and discovered why: Mother Hubbard.
“She chases it. She’ll find a way,” Lorick learned. So he transferred to NMSU for a semester to discover her secret sauce and learned so much, so quickly he stayed to graduate.
“By the time I was two or three months into it, I was rolling pretty fast with settlements, studying accounting, so they had me doing show budgets,” Lorick said. “We would work our own student shows, which were pretty big shows, arena-sized shows, with student government money, rolling the dice. We also worked on shows with outside promoters.”
“She wanted us to be part of that experience. I remember one night at settlement, the promoter said, ‘do you want to be more private; shall we close the door?’ and she said, ‘no, that’s how it is here. This is a learning place and this is the real world. If they can’t hack it here, they won’t make it on the outside. There’s nothing you can say that they can’t hear.’”
And learn they did. A student-promoted cranberries concert sticks out in Lorick’s mind. The group exploded after the onsale, growing from a 5,000-seater to 12,000 seats by showtime four months later. “We couldn’t afford the guarantee they wanted originally, so we basically gave them the entire back end in lieu of a low guarantee. Literally, the one big winner we had we got like one percent.” And a truckload of training.
In Lorick’s travels, he’s never seen students “get hands on experience with the caliber of shows we got to touch and feel and make mistakes on our own” like Mother Hubbard’s “kids” do. “You have to have someone like Barbara who is willing to lay across the railroad tracks and say, ‘this is the way I want it. I’m going to be here.’ She fought hard for the students. And she’s fearless.”
Former student Sabrina Garza, who is now events manager at the New Mexico State Fair, Albuquerque, worked as associate student director for the special events department at NMSU and made her career the live event business, all because she met Mother Hubbard.
“She was very hands on,” Garza said. “She told us what to expect and we sometimes thought, no it can’t be. She was very patient. Mother was always right.”
Most important, Hubbard “taught us to pay attention to detail,” Garza said. “We learned how little things can blow up.”
After 17 years in the business and still nearby, she continues to visit and work with Hubbard, sometimes visiting her at The Ranch, Hubbard's five-bedroom home with a view atop the West Mesa.
“She’s a feisty one. I remember I was in her office at the house when she looked out the window and said, ‘I’ll be right back,’” Garza remembered. “Then I heard the garage door close, saw a shadow go past the window, and there she was, cocking the BB gun because the peacocks were eating her flowers. She wanted to get their attention.”
Scott Breckner, who currently runs Pan Am Center, recalled staying at the Ranch for eight months when he was transitioning into the job.
“I was not the only person who lived at that ranch,” Breckner said. “Back in the day, when tours were traveling down I-25, she would invite them to her house. Back in the day, she had George Strait in the Student Union seating 600 people. Early on, she paid Keith Urban $100 to do a student show at Hubbard Music. Jon Bon Jovi rode horses at the ranch.”
“We keep telling her you need to record all these stories,” Breckner said. “And she says, ‘oh, I’ll get around to do it.’ She’ll live forever, at least ‘till God takes her.’ That’s her favorite phrase.
“How many people, at 90, are still promoting Garth Brooks? Let that set in a little bit.”
What stands out about Barbara Hubbard? “She is such a sincere individual and probably would do anything for you,” Breckner said. “She’s the best of the best, and still constantly on the go.”

 


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VETTING THE LEVEL OF THREAT
 
Posted: 1 Nov 2017, 2:00 pm

REPORTING FROM NASHVILLE  — "You can never eliminate the risks," said Executive Director Pam Matthews during the International Entertainment Buyers Association (IEBA) 2017 Conference held here Oct. 15-17 of the topic of the moment - security, but there are ways to mitigate them.

Michael Downing, chief security officer, Prevent Advisors, spoke during a panel of safety, highlighting the recent risk scenario and laying out suggestions to attendees. He described the shooter at the Route 91 Harvest music festival in Las Vegas, on Oct. 1, who killed 58 music fans and injured over 500, as a "black swan." And, that is primarily because a motive really hasn't been uncovered.
But, there have been motives established for other attacks at entertainment venues over the last several years. The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terrorists group claimed responsibility for the shooting at the Eagles of Death Metal show held at Le Bataclan, Paris, , Nov. 13, 2015, where 89 were left dead.
The group also took responsibility for the shooting outside an Ariana Grande concert at Manchester (England) Arena on May 22, 2017, leaving 22 dead and 58 injured.
The Pulse nightclub shooting on June 12, 2016, in Orlando where 49 were killed was established as a hate crime.
"You should have a play book for all different types of threats," Downing said. "You can use high optic binoculars, high intensity spotlights and even sniper nests. It is really sad that you have to go that far for what should be a peaceful event."
But, depending on the level of the threat environment, looking at tactic options is important.
Downing offered a checklist of five best practices to enhance safety, assuming one has already completed the basics including conducting a baseline risk assessment at their venue/event and prioritizing possible threats by analyzing their likelihood and consequences; having in place a practical security plan that incorporates people, technology and procedures; and making sure there is a trained security staff and a vetted workforce.
The five best practices begin with having more than one plan by creating an Emergency Action Plan (EAP). Downing said that an effective EAP includes a preferred method for reporting fires and other emergencies; an evacuation policy and procedure; contact information for, and responsibilities of, individuals to be contacted under the EAP; information concerning local area hospitals; and an emergency notification system to alert various parties of an emergency including individuals at remote locations within the premises, local law enforcement and area hospitals.
"Expand your web of partnerships, such as your relationships with local law agencies," he said. "Have someone on your staff to engage within the community."
He suggested knowing the location of the closest fusion center, a multiple agency center of which there are 79 across the country.
Second, train staff to make eye contact with guests. "If someone is  up to something, they don't want to  be noticed," Downing said. "They don't want to make eye contact with you." Training frontline staff to do this can possibly lead to detection and intervention.
Encourage staff and attendees that if they see something, say something, Downing continued. "Engage both staff and patrons through awareness-building," he said. "It takes a community to protect a community."
Downing said training staff to observe behavior and know who to contact is very important. Be aware if someone is asking employees questions about operations, someone outside is looking at your venue, or if anyone brought something into the venue.
His fourth tip is to show strength. The visible efforts made to protect the people and facility are important. Things like bag checks, vehicle-free zones and uniformed personnel make a difference. Mix up security efforts so if someone is watching, they won't be able to observe a strict pattern.
Securing the outside of the venue along with the inside is another way to show strength. Areas of potential concern include mass transit connections, tailgate areas and merchandise locations. An attacker might look for large gatherings so spreading out the groups will make it more difficult for an attacker to select a target. 
Fifth, maintain vigilance. Downing said while most people understand the need to be prepared to handle the crowd before the event, many don't understand how important it is to keep security measures in place through the entire event.
"You need to be alert from the time the first guests arrive to the time the last one leaves," he said.

 

 


SECURITY TIP OF THE MONTH

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

STAFF TRAINING
Ensure your building conducts renewed and routine staff training around suspicious activity and screening procedures.


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EASTERN VENUES KNOCK IT OUT OF THE PARK
 
Posted: 1 Nov 2017, 2:00 pm

It was a big year in D.C., Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia for the live touring business. The facilities on Venues Today’s Top Stops Chart reported a whopping 40 percent bump from last year. The strong, stable economy and the large number of solid touring shows were cited by our venue operators as the key reasons for the big returns.

“It was very strong year,” said Barry Geisler, GM, Eaglebank Arena, Fairfax, Va., “highlighted by the final run of Ringling Bros. circus. We had two weeks; 15 performances, of which 14 were sellouts. It was a great last go-around for Ringling.”
The venue was up a hefty 15 percent from the previous year, according to Geisler, who attributes the solid numbers to “an improved economy. People are looking for good entertainment.” Ticket prices ranged from $25 to $250.
The facility had great success with Latin music last year. “That’s been a very strong foundation of our business,” he said. Another big event was VetsAid, a benefit started by Eagle’s member Joe Walsh to benefit veterans and their families. Keith Urban, Zac Brown Band and Gary Clark Jr. also participated. Tool was another big hit.
Tenant teams are George Mason Patriots men’s and women’s basketball. Eaglebank Arena just put in a new center-hung scoreboard. It will debut on Nov. 10 at the opening game. It was purchased by Learfield as part of deal with the company to sell sponsorships.
Food and beverage (F&B) is provided by Sodexo. “It was another strong year for F&B as well,” he said. Beer sales were particularly robust. New menu items included an Italian chicken sandwich and soft-serve ice cream.
Geisler has a positive forecast for the rest of the year and is particularly looking forward to Paw Patrol. “It’s a hot property and ticket sales are going really well.”
Capital One Arena, Washington D.C., also had “a really good year,” according to  David Touhey, president, venues, Monumental Sports and Entertainment. “We had a really successful Big 10 men’s basketball tournament, the last run of the circus, a big Microsoft meeting over the summer and American Israeli Public Affairs Committee (APAC).”
Touhey said the venue was “up over last year” and credits two sold-out Bruno Mars shows, two sold-out Ed Sheeran shows, and solid performances from Eric Church, Green Day, Arianna Grande, “Game of Thrones” live experience, the Weeknd and Tim McGraw and Faith Hill, as well as the good showing for all five tenant teams, for the solid showing. “We saw good sales in every genre,” he said.
Tenant teams Wizards, Caps, Mystics, Valor and Georgetown kept the arena busy; scheduling around five tenant teams is “a challenge, especially around the playoffs.”
Ticket prices ranged from $39-$250, although top price for an Andrea Bocelli concert at the venue was $350.
Currently F&B is provided by Aramark and Levy Restaurants; at the end of November it will be just Aramark.
New to F&B this year was the addition of Alex McCoy, who came out of the launch test kitchen concept, who opened Lucky Buns, which sells high-end burgers. Another new concept, to open soon, is Box Frites, which will feature a play on Belgian fries.
Over the past 10 years, Capital One Arena has been going through a $100 million renovation. “This year it was all behind-the-scenes stuff like cooling towers and back-of-house improvements,” he said. Concession improvements are still to come.
Capital One Arena went through a name change this year after Capital One Bank signed on as the naming rights sponsor; the old name was Verizon Center. Most of the signs are up, said Touhey. “All of the public spaces have gotten new signs; the only places that still have the old signage are places we have no control over like highway signs.”
It was the first year of operation for the $84-million Virginia State University (VSU) Multi-Purpose Center, Petersburg, Va., managed by Spectra. Victor Landry, GM, said, “We kicked the venue off pretty well.”
The home tenants are the men’s and women’s VSU Trojans. “Both teams did very well last year and the new facility is working out great for them,” said Landry. “The campus never had an arena before; we had a gymnasium, so this is a big step-up.”
With the new arena came suites, a club lounge, and premium seat licensing. “These are all new concepts to the university and are all doing well,” he said.
Live events included the circus, comedy show Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) tour, starring Shy Glizzy, G. Herbo and Fabulous, Mike Epps
comedy tour and New Soul Revival tour featuring Music Soul Child. Tickets ranged from $30-$85. The audience mix was “a combination of students, faculty, staff and the local community.” The budget to run the venue last year was $1.4 million.
F&B is provided in-house and is going according to plan. The arena hosted its first 1,000-person banquet last year for the Centennial Sustainment Ball for Fort Lee. “We’re still growing,” explained Landry. Newly introduced were the Trojan Dog, a sausage-style hot dog with BBQ on it, Trojan Punch, which is a lemonade-based drink and Dippin’ Dots, a novelty ice cream concept.
Landry wanted to highlight that the building is LEED-Silver certified and that the building won the Construction Managers Association Award for new projects last year.
Landry’s outlook for the rest of 2017 is “quite good. Both our basketball teams look like they’ll be contenders.” Landry is also looking forward to VSU Multi-Purpose Center hosting the Central Collegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) women’s volleyball championships.
“Overall it was a very successful year,” said Dwight Johnson, GM, Richmond (Va.) Coliseum. Johnson was being modest — the venue was up a whopping 42 percent from the previous year. He attributes the big leap to “the right acts that got people excited to come here.” The building is managed by SMG.
Highlights were Luke Bryan, four sold-out Garth Brooks shows, Jeff Dunham, Charlie Wilson, Kiss and Casting Crowns. Feld’s circus, Monster Jam and Disney on Ice were solid performers on the family-show side. The coliseum’s tenant arena football team, Richmond Roughriders, also added to the astounding increase in attendance and revenue at the venue.
Concessions are provided by Savor. “It was also a great year for the F&B program,” said Johnson.
The addition of three Bottoms Up beer system devices was a big hit. “This way of pouring is faster and creates less foam,” said Johnson. “We have almost tripled our draft sales at each location. The system allows us to pour beer in under 20 seconds and minimize waste. We can serve more beer to more patrons while getting the most out of our kegs.”
October marks the 15th Anniversary for Ted Constant Convocation Center, Norfolk. Va. Spectra’s Mike Fryling, GM, said, “It was a really good year. We were up in both attendance and revenue.”
Highlights included Harlem Globetrotters, Green Day and Justin Moore. Fryling was also happy with the results from increased hip hop and country programming. Lil Wayne, Rick Ross and Migos were hot on the hip hop slate; Old Dominion and TobyMac were big on the country side. Ticket ranged from $9-$135. The op budget was $2.5 million.
F&B is provided by Aramark. “Catering did extremely well and concessions and our per caps continue to climb,” said Fryling. The center activated a scan-in-email system in which fans scan-in and get sent an email with specials. “It’s bringing us business; we had a 35 percent open rate,” he said.  New this year was a Big Blue Burger, named after the university mascot, Big Blue.
In August the center upgraded lighting in the arena to LED Lighting, which provides great environmental benefits and lowers operation costs. The arena is now 30 percent LED; the cost was $100,000. They also renovated eight suites at a cost of $200,000.
The center is driving fan engagement through social media and onsite activation during events.  “We have implemented an interactive photo booth during events that people can take gifs and share right to their emails or social media pages,” he said. “This also allows us to capture and retain those who are coming to our events and interacting with us.”
They also worked with Charlie Wilson to cut a Facebook Live video during the three days of rehearsal at the arena before the “In It To Win It Tour” and reached over 200,000 people.
Currently being launched is the fourth annual Ynot Every Event promotion, where the center partners with their ticketing sponsor and awards the winner two tickets to every event at the venue as well as Ynot Italian Pizza for a year.
Sandler Center, Virginia Beach, Va. is celebrating its 10th anniversary. Spectra’s David Semon, GM, said, “We did really well last year; it’s a great story here. Tickets were selling, especially for our resident tenants, and that is a great success story because this venue was uilt for our thriving local productions.” Semon was happy to report they’ve achieved their budget goal for the year, which they’ve managed to do since they opened.
Resident groups include two symphonies, Virginia Musical Theater, Virginia Arts Festival and the oldest group, Virginia Brach Chorale. 
Hot live touring events included Kids Bop, Peter Frampton, Robert Cary, Dave Mason and the Aluminum Israeli Dance Troupe.
Tickets run from the upper $20’s to $60. Lower priced tickets are selling well, he said; higher-priced tickets are a little flat.
F&B was taken in-house on Aug. 1 from local provider, Creative Catering of Virginia. “We went that route to get control of costs, quality and to drive profits,” he said. “Spectra procured all the licensing for us. It’s going so well we’re asking why we didn’t do this four years ago.” The center is an all-volunteer organization and the volunteers gave Semon plenty of input for the new concession program. “We really relied on their feedback to make changes.”
Capital improvements included a new marquee, new digital signage, digital menu boards and a new POS system. They are looking to change-out the carpeting later this year. The budget for the renovations was $250,000.
Spectra and Sandler Center just re-upped their contract for another five years on Aug. 1.
It’s was all about renovations at the center last year at Charleston (W. Va.) Civic Center, which is made up of a convention center, a 13,000-seat arena and two theaters.
They just finished installing a new lobby and new loading dock at the coliseum and are making major changes to the convention center replacing lighting, sound, electrical and plumbing. They’re building a new entrance. They are also adding a 25,000-sq.-ft. ballroom. The $100-million project will be completed in 2018.
“We had a really great year,” said John Robertson, GM, “despite part of the complex being shut down for the renovations.”
Country music shows were the top attended; Jason Aldean and Florida Georgia Line and Garth Brooks were examples. The contemporary-religious genre was also well received and hot shows included Newsboys, TobyMac, and Rock n Roll Worship Circus. “Group sales are important to these show,” he said.
Johnson was pleased with the performance of the 300-seat Charleston Municipal Auditorium. “The size of that venue is very attractive,” he said.
Tickets ranged from $25 to $75 and the op budget last year was $4 million for the complex.
The concessionaire is Centerplate, doing business locally under Distinctive Gourmet. Fame provides merchandise support. New items included pulled pork and turkey and they added new mobile stands. “We change the menu depending on who we expect to show,” said Johnson. “We’ll do salads for heavily-attended shows by women and heavier stuff for country shows.”
Arvind Manocha, president and CEO, Wolftrap Foundation, Vienna, Va., said it was “a fantastic year. Last year we set an all-time attendance record and this year we did just as well; we’re on a roll.”
Manocha was “very happy with the mix and diversity of the artists on stage” and highlights included Sting, who set a venue record in attendance and gross, Aretha Franklin’s farewell tour, Mary J. Blige, Daddy Yankee and Lindsey Buckingham/Christine McVie. Tickets ranged from lawn tickets for $15 to $165.
The operating budget was $34 million, which encompasses the venue, a year-round education program, an opera-training program, a full opera season in a different venue and a historic indoor 400-seat hall they program all year long.
F&B is done in-house and “going well.” The venue is a fully-open venue and patrons can bring in food, wine and beer. This year they went “hyper-local” and switched to all locally sourced meats and dairy. The increased cost has been offset by “the increased interest by our patrons.” Wolftrap grows some produce onsite and they’ve greatly expanded their bee-keeping program and offer honey to guests at $10 a jar.

BACK TO THE DRAWING BOARD

Entering a crowded field in D.C. in late summer 2018 will be the $300-million Audi Field, a soccer-specific stadium in Buzzard Point. It will be the home stadium for Major League Soccer’s D.C. United and will seat 19,000 people.
Ground broke in February and construction on the 400,000-sq.-ft. venue started in March of 2017. Turner Construction is the builder.
“We got involved in 2015,” said Todd Spangler, lead designer on the project for Populous. “One of our main design jobs was to maximize premium space at the new stadium.” He eventually designed in 2,100 club seats, 31 suites and three unique clubs.
One of the site constraints Spangler had to design around was an above ground easement. “The playing field had to shift to the west of the easement and miss it completely,” he said. “That constraint really drove the design process.”
Late in the process came “the addition of a road through the site,” which meant going back to the drawing board. “Originally, access to First Street was not part of our plans. But after listening to the community and the neighborhood, we realized it was important to continue the street through the development. It took us a long time to reach that conclusion and it meant all new designs,” he said.
Levy Restaurants won the concession contract and has brought in local chef José Andrés, who is credited with bringing the “small plate” concept to the U.S. Andrés will curate all the menus.  There will be one POS destination for every 150 people, said Spangler.
Audi Field will be just part of a broader entertainment destination that will eventually include retail and other ancillary businesses which will “go up in future stages.” The cost of the entire development is estimated to be $500 million.

 

 

A FEW OF MY FAVORITE THINGS

Everyone has that one special knickknack in their office that makes them smile.
We asked our venue operators about their favorite office memento and the story behind it.

Barry Geisler, GM, Eaglebank Arena, Fairfax, Va.
A Ringling Bros Barnum & Bailey ringmaster hat given to me by Feld Entertainment after the most recent and final circus at EagleBank Arena. It’s a wonderful reminder of Ringling Bros. and all the great shows.

David Touhey, president, venues, Monumental Sports and Entertainment, Washington, D.C.
A cutout Clorox bottle that was given to me by the event staff when I was at World Arena in Colorado Springs in 1998. Everyone signed it. It was meant to be a joke-megaphone and they gave it to me because every time I got up to do a briefing a sound check came on or the Zamboni came out to do the ice. It was always something and became a running joke.

Victor Landry, GM, VSU Multipurpose Center, Petersburg, Va.
A root beer mug I was given from Hillbilly Home Brews. I got the mug when I was working at Cumberland (Maine) County Fair. We had a Western-themed show that year and I had my boots and hat on.  They told me I fit in with the show and gave me the mug.

Dwight Johnson, GM, Richmond (Va.) Coliseum
The 2017 Sports Tourism Board MVP Award I was given this year for helping bring sports and entertainment to the Richmond area.

Mike Fryling, GM, Ted Constant Convocation Center, Norfolk, Va.
A poster of the Counting Crows from the first event ever in the facility in 2002.

David Semon, Sandler Center, Virginia Beach, Va.
I was part if a coed baby shower for a coworker and guessed the girth of her belly. The prize was a picture frame that says ‘laugh’. I put a picture of Al Jarreau in it, where he’s got this big grin and his mouth is wide open. I laugh every time I see it.

John Robertson, GM, Charleston (W. Va.) Civic Center
A picture of me riding an elephant during the parade from a Ringling Bros. event in 1984. What I remember most is that my legs were spread wider than I ever thought possible. My jeans got filthy and when I was finished I threw them in the trash.

Arvind Manocha, president and CEO, Wolftrap Foundation, Vienna, Va.
A picture of me with all four members of The Rolling Stones. I was so excited to be near them and when we took the picture my eyes were closed because I was so overwhelmed.


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313 RISES AS A PROMOTER OF NOTE
 
Posted: 1 Nov 2017, 2:00 pm

The phrase “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em” fits the origin story of the recently launched 313 Presents to perfection. The joint venture that brings together Detroit’s Olympia Entertainment (OEI) and Palace Sports & Entertainment (PS&E) brings to an end years of head-to-head competition between the two biggest live entertainment giants in town.

The combined company will manage concerts and events at six venues throughout the metro area: the brand new Little Caesars Arena, DTE Energy Music Theatre (consistently one of the top-grossing amphitheaters in the nation), Fox Theatre, Meadow Brook Amphitheatre, Comerica Park and Michigan Lottery Amphitheatre at Freedom Hill.
“We were in protracted negotiations with the Pistons and PS&E for years — as we were building Little Caesars Arena — about them coming down to join us as a partner, as a tenant… and almost fundamental to those discussions was the thought of, ‘what would we be able to accomplish if we put all our assets together?’” said Tom Wilson, president and CEO of Olympia Entertainment and 313’s acting president.
A year after plans for the merger were first announced by Ilitch Holdings Inc., President/CEO Christopher Ilitch (the Detroit Red Wings of the National Hockey League and Detroit Tigers of Major League Baseball, Little Caesars, Blue Line Foodservice Distribution, MotorCity Casino Hotel) and PS&E owner Tom Gores (Detroit Pistons of the National Basketball Association, DTE Energy Music Theatre, Meadow Brook Amphitheater, Palace of Auburn Hills), 313 has begun merging the two company’s scheduling, production, marketing and media relations for the six venues. Once the Pistons decided to close the aging, suburban Palace at Auburn Hills, the combined company can now offer what Wilson deemed a “soup-to-nuts” variety of options: from an amphitheater, to theaters, a stadium, an arena, the 400-cap City Theatre and the 1,500-cap MotorCity Casino’s Sound Board inside the MotorCity Casino.
“Really anything you’d want to play in the city from 400 seats to 40,000 seats, indoor, outdoors, summer, winter, anything an artist would want is all here. There was a certain undeniable logic that resulted in the coming together of these two entities,” said Wilson, who declined to provide financial details of the deal between the two privately held companies.
PS&E was long the dominant force in town thanks to the now-shuttered suburban Palace of Auburn Hills arena, as well as DTE and Meadow Brook, while Olympia had downtown locked in with the Olympia, the shuttered Joe Louis Arena, Fox and Comerica Park events. Wilson said there is a “a bit” of redundancy between the companies, but given the major undertaking it will be to put on the 400-500 events a year they plan to take on — above and beyond National Basketball Association and National Hockey League games — he doesn’t expect there to be any lay-offs.
“The teams are separate, but we’re joined at the hip on everything, so we’re going to put our entertainment people together as well as marketing, sales, booking, accounting and production, and I think it will be additive,” he said. “We’ll be doing more shows, not less and there might be days when we have 2-3 events a night or that day at a theater or the arena.” The demands on the combined organization’s time will increase, but Wilson is confident that when they sit with agents or managers and ask to go over their entire roster and figure out routing, they will have an answer any time of year at any size venue.
“The savings in headcount, synergies and efficiencies of getting more out of each employee is an important [addition to the bottom line],” Wilson said of the possibility of both cost savings and a higher gross potential than the separate companies realized. “Whether we’re purchasing ad space or billboard space or radio and TV time, when you bring the two entities together you’re buying more of this and that and can do it more efficiently if it’s a year-round buy and not just for the summer or fall.” Prior to their merger Wilson said OEI did around 300 shows a year, while PS&E had closer to 200 bookings a year.
The super-producer — whose name is an homage to the city’s area code — will be responsible for all those concerts, National Collegiate Athletic Association games, family shows and other live events, as well as Pistons and Red Wings games at the new Little Caesars Arena, with tickets, venue information and scheduled updates for all six available at a single site, 313presents.com.
The combined site, optimized for mobile viewing, allows users to not only purchase tickets for all the buildings, but also sign up to receive access to the latest information on presales, members-only experiences, contests and special offers as well as review seating maps and dining options and download concerts and events to users’ desktops and mobile calendars. 313 will continue to honor their longtime deal with Ticketmaster, and Wilson said that although their focus at the moment is not on acquiring other buildings, there is a possibility that the portfolio could grow in the future.
A search is currently on to hire an executive to run the company, whose offices will open in Little Caesars Arena in November. There are currently 40 staffers on the payroll at 313, made up of employees from Olympia and PS&E, and Wilson said it’s possible that there may be some new hires. “There are lots of operations people coming down from the Palace to be part of Olympia Entertainment, which is doing most of the execution of events at the amphitheater and theaters, and the plan is to grow acts locally and take them from the City Theatre to Sound Board, Meadow Brook and beyond,” said Wilson.
Charlie Goldstone, president of Madison, Wis.-based Frank Productions said his company does occasional business in Detroit and he’s looking forward to seeing how 313 changes the game. “More and more you’re seeing individual markets getting consolidated, which is the way things used to be and I think there’s a benefit to that,” he said. “Having local promoters with a strong presence in the market can not only get the word out in a big way, but manage traffic and inventory and make sure shows are not stepping on each other.”
Goldstone said the dynamic is a bit different in Detroit because Olympia always bought their own shows while serving as the primary venue operator.  If 313 starts preventing the promoters from using their facilities it could create a problem, but given their history of partnering with Live Nation, AEG and Frank Productions, among others, Goldstone sees plenty of benefit to outside promoters.
Like Goldstone, Jerry Mickelson, co-owner of Chicago’s Jam Productions, said he’s not too concerned about the ramifications of the merger and thinks it actually makes very good business sense. “It’s probably a really good idea because the Palace and Joe Louis [Arena] were beating each other up on dates and performers, and they probably had to lower their rents to get shows in,” he said. “Instead of competing they joined forces, which makes sense, especially if they still rent to outside promoters.”
Wilson declined to predict what the combined company’s grosses could be, but said given the increase in the amount of shows and the ability to offer acts multiple bookings at different-sized venues in the same calendar year, he expects exponential growth that one could speculate would be in the “eight figures” region. “They can play outdoors in July, then in a theater downtown 35 miles from the amphitheater and then another play downtown for the people who didn’t get to see them in the 4,000-seat theater,” he said of the infinite routing possibilities.
While continuing to work with Live Nation, AEG and other promoters, Wilson said 313 can’t solely count on their outside partners to fill every available date, but they will also have enough flexibility in those contracts to “put our promoter hat on and find shows as well.”


SEEK RECIPROCITY; AVOID BANKRUPTCY

REPORTING FROM NASHVILLE — The importance of negotiating all contract details up front, with a complete understanding among all parties, was a top take-away from the Terms and Conditions session at this year's International Entertainment Buyers Association (IEBA) conference held here Oct. 15-17.
According to IEBA membership information, 72 percent of IEBA members review and red line their own contracts, and less than three percent have said their contracts are reviewed by outside attorneys.
Panelists included Jason Bernstein, AEG Presents; Brent Daughrity, Anderson Benson Insurance; Tim Epstein, Duggan Bertsch LLC; and Berkeley Reinhold, attorney at law. It was moderated by IEBA Executive Director Pam Matthews.
Because so many buyers don't use lawyers for their contracts, the session allowed attendees to seek the counsel of experts with the goal of better understanding the implications, risks and costs associated with the pages and pages of repetitive and conflicting terms that follow an offer’s acceptance.
Of particular interest is the allocation of risk and the relationship between insurance and indemnification.
Knowing the difference between indemnity and reciprocal indemnity clauses in a contract is paramount. The indemnity clause is simply a promise by the other party to cover losses. If there is a graph in the contract the signee doesn't understand in the area of indemnity, then try to make it reciprocal. That would mean both parties take on certain responsibilities.
  Bernstein said the other party may not want it to be reciprocal, but it is another way to negotiate terms.
The panel also suggested knowing from what state the contract is coming. State laws vary on indemnification. In addition, state laws differ from federal laws.
The panel spoke on bankruptcy issues such as what happens if a promoter does declare bankruptcy before the event. Reinhold told attendees that bankruptcy supersedes anything else.
"If you have given your promoter a deposit, you may not be able to get it back," Reinhold said. "If you owe the promoter a deposit, the promoter may be able to sue to get it even though the show won't go on. There is what is called a claw back in the bankruptcy law, whereby the promoter, in this case, has 90 days in which to go after the deposit.
"Make sure your promoter is solvent," she said. — Pam Sherborne


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Univ. of Md. Baltimore Co. Selects OVG Facilities
 
Posted: 25 Oct 2017, 5:45 pm

Interior of the 6,000-capacity UMBC Events Center, which opens in February.

The University of Maryland Baltimore County has awarded management of their new multi-purpose facility to OVG Facilities, the first contract under the new moniker. The deal was negotiated by Tom Paquette and Doug Higgons, who sold their Pinnacle Venue Services to Oak View Group last month. (Full disclosure: Oak View Group also owns Venues Today).

It is a three-year agreement, with the possibility of extending to five, to manage the $85-million, 6,000-seat UMBC Events Center in Baltimore, which is scheduled to open in February, said Higgons. OVG Facilities will provide management, booking, marketing and operations. Chartwells handles food and beverage on the UMBC campus, including the new arena.

General Manager Tiffany Sun starts Monday (Oct. 31), Higgons said. Sun has been in the business just under 10 years and was most recently assistant general manager of Cross Insurance Center, Bangor, Maine, for Spectra Venue Management. Higgons and Paquette also worked for Spectra at one point.

Sun started in the business at Northwest Georgia Trade & Convention Center, Dalton, after graduating from Kennesaw State. She has also worked at Ted Constant Convocation Center, Norfolk, Va., also a university venue, where she was marketing manager.

The 172,000-square-foot multipurpose facility, which includes meeting space, 5,000 seats in the bowl, and 1,000 seats on the floor, will host all UMBC National Collegiate Athletic Association games for Retriever men’s and women’s basketball and women’s volleyball, as well as provide a venue for other events, such as concerts, commencements, featured speakers, banquets and much more.

“It’s a new arena in a major market,” said Higgons, noting the significance of the contract. OVG Facilities will receive a monthly management fee plus incentive, based on revenues over budget. Higgons said the estimated annual operating budget, which is still being finalized, is in the $2-million range.

umbcexterior600.jpgThe new UMBC Events Center was designed to blend into the campus.

Design for the new arena was provided by Cannon Design in collaboration with the university and Barton Malow handled construction.

University of Maryland Baltimore County’s Terry Cook, assistant VP-finance and administration, adds, in a press release: “Doug and his team have decades of industry experience successfully managing university facilities. That, along with their vision for the new arena, are among a few reasons we selected their company.”

OVG Facilities now has a portfolio of six venue management contracts. It also specializes in event programming, venue assessments, and security and emergency preparedness.


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Conference centers revamp to provide connectivity
 
Posted: 1 May 2017, 8:00 pm

Addressing profound changes in how their customers are approaching learning, many conference centers are in a process of reinvention

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

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

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Groups in Greater Boston utilize college campuses
 
Posted: 31 Oct 2016, 8:00 pm

An exceedingly intelligent choice for meetings and events.

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CEIR Releases Third Report in Attendee Retention Insights Series
 
Posted: 24 May 2016, 1:00 am
DALLAS, 24 May 2016 ? The Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR) announced today the release of the third report in its newest series, 2016 Attendee Retention Insights Part Three: Education Content that Builds a Loyal Alumni Attendee Audience. This landmark body of research offers organizers a comprehensive resource to help understand the profile of attendees that visit an exhibition repeatedly and the content that turns them into loyal customers.

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CEIR Releases Second Report in Attendee Retention Insights Series
 
Posted: 10 May 2016, 1:00 am
DALLAS, 10 May 2016 ? The Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR) announced today the release of the second report in its newest series, 2016 Attendee Retention Insights Part Two: Exhibition Floor Features that Build a Loyal Alumni Attendee Audience. This landmark body of research offers organizers a comprehensive resource to help understand the profile of attendees that visit an exhibition repeatedly and the content that turns them into loyal customers

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Fourth Annual IAEE Women’s Leadership Forum Another Sold Out Event
 
Posted: 4 May 2016, 1:00 am
DALLAS, 4 May 2016 ? The International Association of Exhibitions and Events? (IAEE) celebrates another successful Women?s Leadership Forum on 26 April 2016 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C. More than 200 attendees sold out this year?s event which featured education sessions for women at all stages of their career.

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IAEE Now Accepting Applications for 2016 Bob Dallmeyer Education Fund Grants
 
Posted: 3 May 2016, 1:00 am
DALLAS, 3 May 2016 ? The International Association of Exhibitions and Events? (IAEE) has opened the application process for the 2016 Bob Dallmeyer Education Fund Grants, which aid qualified professionals in their pursuit of continuing education and career development in the exhibitions and events industry.

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IAEE Now Accepting 2016 Helen Brett Scholarship Applications
 
Posted: 2 May 2016, 1:00 am
DALLAS, 2 May 2016 ? The International Association of Exhibitions and EventsTM (IAEE) has opened the application process for the Helen Brett Scholarship awards in 2016. The scholarship serves to promote the exhibitions and events industry by attracting college-level students into the field of study and encouraging their pursuit with financial support.

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Conference center education shifts dramatically
 
Posted: 30 Apr 2016, 8:00 pm

The times they are a changin’, and all for the better from this reporter’s perspective.

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CEIR Debuts New Report Series Focusing on Attendee Retention
 
Posted: 28 Apr 2016, 1:00 am
DALLAS, 28 April 2016 ? The Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR) announced today the release of the first report in its newest series, 2016 Attendee Retention Insights. Reports from this exciting new, landmark study offers organizers a comprehensive resource to help understand the profile of attendees that visit an exhibition repeatedly and the content that turns them into a loyal fanbase. The series consists of five reports, beginning with Part One: Basics for Creating Your Attendee Retention Strategy: Tracking, Profiling and Why They Come Back.

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IAEE Public Events Council Releases 2016 Survey Report
 
Posted: 26 Apr 2016, 1:00 am
DALLAS, 26 April 2016 ? Today, the International Association of Exhibitions and Events? (IAEE) Public Events Council released its Public Events Industry Report: 2015 Results. In 2009, the Public Events Council distributed a survey to public event organizers across 22 public events industry sectors to examine overall industry performance. The report identified which public events industry sectors fared well, which sectors struggled and their expectations for the future. As a follow-up to the benchmark report, the survey is repeated annually with subsequent reports detailing individual and comparative statistics over the years.

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Your Industry - Your Voice!
 
Posted: 22 Apr 2016, 1:00 am

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CEM Week - Register Now!
 
Posted: 18 Apr 2016, 1:00 am

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2016 CEIR Index Report Now Available
 
Posted: 13 Apr 2016, 1:00 am
DALLAS, 12 April 2016 ? Today, the Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR) released the 2016 CEIR Index Report. The CEIR Index analyzes the 2015 exhibition industry and provides a future outlook for the next three years. Despite widespread pessimism and deceleration of activity during the fourth quarter, the U.S. economy still displayed significant signs of strength in 2015, led by personal consumption and residential construction. These strengths were offset partially by deterioration in energy development and net exports to produce real GDP growth of 2.4%. According to CEIR?s current projection, 2016 growth will be about the same, or perhaps slightly weaker as the trade gap widens further, before GDP accelerates in 2018 (see Figure 1).

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IAEE Renews Reciprocity Agreement with JEXA
 
Posted: 5 Apr 2016, 1:00 am
DALLAS, 5 April 2016 ? The International Association of Exhibitions and Events? (IAEE) and the Japan Exhibition Association (JEXA) announced the renewal of a reciprocity agreement to benefit members of both organizations. Originally signed in 2012, the agreement renews the commitment of IAEE and JEXA to promote and develop the exhibitions and events industries in their respective countries through membership collaboration.

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IAEE Announces New Chapter in India
 
Posted: 4 Apr 2016, 1:00 am
DALLAS, 4 April 2016 ? The International Association of Exhibitions and Events? (IAEE) announces the addition of its latest chapter in Asia, the IAEE India Chapter. The IAEE Board of Directors approved the creation of this new chapter during its meeting held 31 March 2016 at the HITEX Exhibition Center in Hyderabad, India.

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Convention centers transform to meet attendees’ needs
 
Posted: 1 Apr 2016, 8:00 pm

Generic big-box convention centers seem to be going the way of the buggy whip and typewriter.

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IAEE MATSO Council Adds New Content for May Meeting
 
Posted: 31 Mar 2016, 1:00 am
DALLAS, 31 March 2016 ? The International Association of Exhibitions and Events? (IAEE) MATSO Council?s program for this year?s MATSO Spring Program on 23-24 May 2016 at McCormick Place in Chicago, Ill. will focus on exchanging information that address challenges, share best practices and understand the changing landscape of Tier 1 cities.

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IAEE Awards Jacqueline Russo with 2016 Woman of Achievement Award
 
Posted: 30 Mar 2016, 1:00 am
DALLAS, 30 March 2016 ? The International Association of Exhibitions and Events? (IAEE) proudly congratulates Jacqueline Russo, Vice President of Kuehne + Nagel, Inc., as this year?s recipient of the IAEE Woman of Achievement Award. This award recognizes a woman who has led the way in the advancement of women in the exhibitions and events industry, exhibited outstanding leadership, and made significant contributions to the industry and her community.

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CEIR Releases New Industry Insight Series Report Written by Candy Adams
 
Posted: 29 Mar 2016, 1:00 am
DALLAS, 29 March 2016 ? Today the Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR) announces a new Industry Insight Series report, 99 Cost-Savings Tips and Tricks for Exhibit Managers written by Candy Adams, CTSM, CME, CEM, CMP, CMM, a revered and well-known exhibition industry veteran and owner of ?The Booth Mom? Trade Show Consulting.

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IAEE Announces 2016 Krakoff Leadership Institute
 
Posted: 28 Mar 2016, 1:00 am
DALLAS, 28 March 2016 ? Registration is now open for the International Association of Exhibitions and Events? (IAEE) Krakoff Leadership Institute (KLI) to be held 7-9 August 2016 at The Waterfront Beach Resort, A Hilton Hotel in Huntington Beach, Calif. The program is open to IAEE members interested in enhancing their strategic skills, and broadening their knowledge as current and future leaders in the exhibitions and events industry.

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IAEE Congratulates its 2016 International Excellence Award Recipient
 
Posted: 17 Mar 2016, 1:00 am
DALLAS, 17 March 2016 ? The International Association of Exhibitions and Events? (IAEE) congratulates Edward J. Krause III (Ned), President and CEO of E.J. Krause & Associates, Inc. (EJK) as this year?s recipient of the IAEE International Excellence Award. The IAEE International Excellence Award recognizes an individual or organization that has made exceptional strides in creating, launching and managing an international event in the exhibitions and events industry on an international scale.

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CEIR Releases Final Digital Toolkit Report
 
Posted: 15 Mar 2016, 1:00 am
DALLAS, 15 March 2015 ? Today, the Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR) announced the release of the final report in the CEIR Digital Toolkit series. The new report, entitled Focus Report on Exhibition Organizer Onsite and Post-event Offerings provides an in-depth look at attendee preferences compared to business-to-business exhibition offerings for show mobile apps, as well as other onsite digital amenities and post-event digital communications.

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IAEE MATSO Council Announces City Working Group Initiative, Finalizes Governance Procedures
 
Posted: 9 Mar 2016, 1:00 am
DALLAS, 9 March 2016 ? The International Association of Exhibitions and Events? (IAEE) MATSO Council announced it will resurrect city task force updates following a recent council meeting that focused on future programming and governance procedures.

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IAEE Announces 2016 Call for Nominations for Individual Awards
 
Posted: 8 Mar 2016, 1:00 am
DALLAS, 8 March 2016 ? Today, the International Association of Exhibitions and Events? (IAEE) has opened the Call for Nominations for its annual awards program to recognize exceptional professionals in the exhibitions and events industry. Industry professionals who meet the outlined criteria may be nominated for any of the awards listed below, and recipients will be honored at Expo! Expo! IAEE?s Annual Meeting & Exhibition to be held 6-8 December in Anaheim, Calif.

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Conference center experts weigh in on five hot trends
 
Posted: 30 Apr 2015, 8:00 pm

Here is the top feedback when it comes to staging cutting-edge conference meets.

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Convention center tradeshows focus on interaction
 
Posted: 31 Mar 2015, 8:00 pm

Are you fully engaging your attendees?

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State College brims with entertaining endeavors
 
Posted: 30 Oct 2014, 8:00 pm

When it comes to putting fun on the agenda, State College is one smart choice.

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The 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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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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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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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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Shared activities make experiences more intense
 
Posted: 16 Oct 2014, 2:57 pm
Here?s some scientific support on the value of live experiences.

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Upcoming webinars
 
Posted: 16 Oct 2014, 2:57 pm
These two, free webinars next week will focus on becoming a CFE and the Mentor-Connector Program.

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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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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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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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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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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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Wesley Burtch Dickson
 
Posted: 16 Oct 2014, 2:57 pm
Wes founded his business, Advanced Equipment Corp., in 1957. In 1959, the business moved to Orange County, California.

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Close encounter of the third kind with Google Glass, part 2
 
Posted: 16 Oct 2014, 2:57 pm
More from Portland?5?s Joe Durr about this ?cool? technology product.

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Earl R. Williams
 
Posted: 16 Oct 2014, 2:57 pm
Earl was employed with Kimble Glass Co. and later Ball State University as Conference Director and General Manager of Emens Auditorium.

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The Marvel Experience lets you save the world
 
Posted: 16 Oct 2014, 2:57 pm
The event will incorporate augmented reality, multiperson gaming, and RFID tracking for full fan immersion.

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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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Cookie-cutter conference centers are a thing of the past
 
Posted: 30 Apr 2014, 8:00 pm

Today's conference centers are more about standing out than fitting in.

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Scheduling events at Florida colleges and universities is a smart choice
 
Posted: 31 Mar 2014, 8:00 pm

Educational facilities throughout Florida give attendees a chance to relive the college experience.

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Convention centers adapt to tradeshows of today
 
Posted: 31 Mar 2014, 8:00 pm

Modern convention centers are about experience as much as setting.

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Five U.S. convention center highlights
 
Posted: 31 Mar 2014, 8:00 pm

A look at major convention center projects in Green Bay,  King of Prussia, New York, San Antonio and San Diego.

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IACC Americas Conference Sees Attendee Uptick
 
Posted: 18 Mar 2014, 8:00 pm

The 2014 IACC Annual Conference reported it has attracted the most registered attendees since 2008.

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State College, Pennsylvania, is a happening, business-savvy hub
 
Posted: 27 Oct 2013, 8:00 pm

State College, home to Pennsylvania State University, welcomes groups with its vibrant ambiance and excellent on-campus (and off-site) facilities.

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A quick take on recent openings and upgrades in the world of conference centers
 
Posted: 24 Apr 2013, 8:00 pm

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A Q&A with Mark Cooper, new CEO of the International Association of Conference Centres
 
Posted: 24 Apr 2013, 8:00 pm
IACC's new CEO shares his insights on the events industry

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Areas of Study
 
Posted: 17 Feb 2013, 7:00 pm
University meetings think outside of the classroom

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............................................................



Get Smart
 
Posted: 17 Feb 2013, 7:00 pm
On the fence about booking a college venue? These benefits might convince you.

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............................................................



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

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............................................................



Exclusive: HSN Partners With Las Vegas' Venetian On Concert Series
 
Posted: 25 Jan 2013, 3:33 pm
HSN is taking its Live music division on the road with a Las Vegas residency at the Venetial Resort Hotel Casino.The series kicks off Feb. 8 with Michael Bolton, who will debut his new studio album, "Ain’t No Mountain High Enough: A Tribute to Hitsville U.S.A." with Motown greats Smokey Robinson, Valerie Simpson and Martha Reeves as well as Kelly Rowland and Melanie Fiona

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............................................................



Coachella 2013 Lineup: Blur, Phoenix, Red Hot Chili Peppers Headlining
 
Posted: 25 Jan 2013, 12:35 am
Blur, the Stone Roses, Phoenix and Red Hot Chili Peppers top the lineup for the 2013 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, which was unveiled late on Thursday night (Jan. 24). The annual fest is set to once again take over Indio, Calif. on consecutive weekends, this year from Apr. 12-14 and Apr. 19-21.

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Ticketmaster Canada Names Patti-Anne Tarlton SVP/COO
 
Posted: 24 Jan 2013, 6:09 pm
Ticketmaster Canada has appointed Patti-Anne Tarlton senior VP and chief operating officer. In turn, current COO Tom Worrall will become chairman of Ticketmaster Canada.

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............................................................



Exclusive: Flaming Lips to Star in Hyundai Super Bowl Commercial
 
Posted: 24 Jan 2013, 4:32 pm
When the Flaming Lips formed nearly 30 years ago, the notion that the group would be performing a song called "Sun Blows Up Today" in a Super Bowl ad would have been as surreal some of their lyrics. But that's exactly what will happen when the group stars in one of Hyundai's four spots during the big game,  a 60-second commercial that will feature the band on-camera performing a brand-new, custom-written song bearing that name.

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............................................................



Exclusive: Flaming Lips to Star in Hyundai Super Bowl Commercial
 
Posted: 24 Jan 2013, 4:32 pm
When the Flaming Lips formed nearly 30 years ago, the notion that the group would be performing a song called "Sun Blows Up Today" in a Super Bowl ad would have been as surreal some of their lyrics. But that's exactly what will happen when the group stars in one of Hyundai's four spots during the big game,  a 60-second commercial that will feature the band on-camera performing a brand-new, custom-written song bearing that name.

Read the full article

............................................................



Pepsi, Vevo to Spotlight Best New Artists, 'X Factor' Winner Tate Stevens During Grammys
 
Posted: 24 Jan 2013, 12:54 pm
Pepsi has announced collaborations with Pandora and Vevo for the Grammy Awards. With Vevo, Pepsi will produce a video series based around the Best New Artists nominees; and with Pandora the company will curate a Best New Artist mixtape as well as genre stations.

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Mnet America Hosting Grammy-Week Party With K-Pop Star Ailee
 
Posted: 24 Jan 2013, 9:43 am
Billboard can exclusively reveal when, where and who will be at Mnet America's 1st Annual Pre-Grammy Party featuring a K-pop starlet, YouTube sensation and "The Voice" contestants.

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............................................................



13 Points to Watch at MIDEM 2013
 
Posted: 24 Jan 2013, 8:00 am
As the world's largest trade fair for the music industry, MIDEM can be daunting to navigate. Last year's gathering drew more than 6,850 attendees from 77 countries, representing 3,120 companies, including 155 startups. So, how best to manage MIDEM?

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............................................................



13 Points to Watch at MIDEM 2013
 
Posted: 24 Jan 2013, 8:00 am
As the world's largest trade fair for the music industry, MIDEM can be daunting to navigate. Last year's gathering drew more than 6,850 attendees from 77 countries, representing 3,120 companies, including 155 startups. So, how best to manage MIDEM?

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.

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............................................................



Justin Timberlake Sets Live Return for Super Bowl Charity Show
 
Posted: 23 Jan 2013, 6:54 pm
Less than one month after the singer-turned-actor exploded back onto the music scene with "Suit & Tie," featuring Jay-Z, Timberlake will perform his first solo concert in several years during Super Bowl weekend.

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............................................................



Black Keys File Third Lawsuit Against 'Soundalikes' in TV Commercials
 
Posted: 23 Jan 2013, 6:50 pm
After settling two lawsuits with Pizza Hut and Home Depot in December over alleged use of its songs in commercials, the Black Keys have filed a third lawsuit -- this time, against Pinnacle Entertainment, which runs casinos throughout the United States, and Manhattan Production Music, a company that creates music for commercial advertising.

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Exclusive: Verizon Teams With Jill Scott for Black History Month Campaign
 
Posted: 23 Jan 2013, 6:24 pm
Verizon has teamed with Jill Scott for a multi-tiered print, TV and online advertising campaign to coincide with Black History Month, a rare artist endorsement deal for both parties, Billboard has learned.

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Madonna's 'MDNA' Tour Makes Billboard Boxscore's All-Time Top 10
 
Posted: 23 Jan 2013, 6:05 pm
The globe-trotting "MDNA" tour marks Madonna's ascent into the elite ranks of touring acts -- and makes her the top touring female artist of all time.

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Ultra Music and Sony Announce Partnership, Patrick Moxey Named President of Electronic Music
 
Posted: 23 Jan 2013, 3:48 pm
Sony Music and Ultra Music -- the electronic/dance record label, publishing house, management company and media platform owned and operated by Patrick Moxey -- have announced a globe-spanning strategic partnership between the two companies. As part of the deal Moxey was named president of electronic music for Sony Music Worldwide.

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Ultra Music and Sony Announce Partnership, Patrick Moxey Named President of Electronic Music
 
Posted: 23 Jan 2013, 3:48 pm
Sony Music and Ultra Music -- the electronic/dance record label, publishing house, management company and media platform owned and operated by Patrick Moxey -- have announced a globe-spanning strategic partnership between the two companies. As part of the deal Moxey was named president of electronic music for Sony Music Worldwide.

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.

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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.

Read the full article

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Exclusive: Lionel Richie Signs With Red Light Management
 
Posted: 22 Jan 2013, 3:08 pm
Legendary hit maker Lionel Richie has signed with Red Light Management for representation, Billboard.biz has learned. This is the second major signing of the young year for RLM, which recently added Tiesto to its growing list of clients.

Read the full article

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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.”

Read the full article

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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.

Read the full article

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Obama Inauguration Music Guide: Katy Perry to Q-Tip
 
Posted: 19 Jan 2013, 1:41 pm
Just as Barack Obama's 2009 inauguration drew stars from Beyonce to Aretha Franklin, the president's re-election has led to another can't-miss week for music fans. We've hiked through Capital Hill's extensive inauguration schedule to bring you a list of the week's biggest balls.

Read the full article

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Sony/ATV's Martin Bandier on New, 'Quite Reasonable' Pandora Deal
 
Posted: 18 Jan 2013, 7:00 pm
Sony/ATV pulled a major coup earlier this week by negotiating a higher royalty rate from Pandora. Chairman/CEO Martin Bandier spoke with Billboard.biz about the deal.

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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

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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

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Prince to Be Honored at Billboard Music Awards on May 19
 
Posted: 18 Jan 2013, 4:00 pm
The 2013 Billboard Music Awards are returning to Las Vegas on Sunday, May 19 and will honor the legendary artist Prince during a live ABC broadcast from the MGM Grand Garden Arena.

Read the full article

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Beyonce, Katy Perry, More Head to D.C. for Packed Slate of Obama Inauguration Events
 
Posted: 18 Jan 2013, 12:58 pm
Kelly Clarkson is a multiple nominee at next month's Grammy Awards, but what she's really excited about is another event where she'll be joined by Beyonce, Katy Perry, Stevie Wonder, Alicia Keys, Usher and Brad Paisley. Oh, and the president.

Read the full article

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CD Baby Parent Company AVL Digital Group Sold
 
Posted: 18 Jan 2013, 10:44 am
AVL Digital Group -- the parent company of CD Baby, Disc Makers and other self-publishing platforms -- has been sold to Stephens Capital Partners, a private equity group based in Little Rock, Arkansas, 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.

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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

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Elizabeth Sobol Named Decca Label Group President and CEO
 
Posted: 17 Jan 2013, 12:15 pm
Elizabeth Sobol, current managing director at IMG Artists North America, has been named Decca Label Group's president and CEO. Sobol will report to Universal Music Group International's chairman and CEO Max Hole, who was promoted to that position last week.

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HMV Shutters Irish Operations, Appoints Receivers as Staff Stages Sit-In
 
Posted: 17 Jan 2013, 11:45 am
Staff at two HMV stores in Ireland have staged sit-in protests to secure their wages following the closure of the company’s 16 Irish stores, according to reports. HMV’s Irish operations were placed into receivership 24 hours after the British music retailer HMV confirmed it was suspending the trading of its shares and entering administration, the U.K. equivalent of Chapter 11.

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Andre Rieu, Bieber's 'Believe' Tour Top Hot Tours Chart
 
Posted: 17 Jan 2013, 10:50 am
Classical music dominates this week's Hot Tours report with Dutch violinist and conductor André Rieu earning the No. 1 ranking, followed by Justin Bieber's Believe Tour return and Phish's sold-out show at Madison Square Garden.

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

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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

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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

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Ticketfly Expands Into Canada
 
Posted: 17 Jan 2013, 10:00 am
Ticketfly announced Thursday it has expanded into Canada by signing two of the country's top promoters, acquiring Prime Box Office ticketing company and securing some promoters and venues.

Read the full article

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Sony/ATV Negotiates 25% Royalty Increase From Pandora: Report
 
Posted: 17 Jan 2013, 8:01 am
The newly combined Sony/ATV-EMI music publishing powerhouse has used its market clout to negotiate a 25% royalty increase from Pandora, according to a report in the New York Post. The deal is said to run for the next 12 months.

Read the full article

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Mark Poston, EMI Australia Chairman, Steps Down
 
Posted: 16 Jan 2013, 9:38 pm
Mark Poston, EMI Australia’s chairman, is out as Universal Music continues its global integration of EMI. According to Universal Music, Poston “decided to step down” from his current position as chairman and senior VP marketing, Australasia at EMI Music Australia. UMA's president George Ash will oversee EMI Australasia until a replacement is announced.

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Business Matters: How Facebook Search Could Provide Cheap Market Research for Music Marketers
 
Posted: 16 Jan 2013, 8:13 pm
Facebook’s Graph Search doesn’t have a lot of obvious music uses but could end up being a free and useful tool for music marketers. As the Inside Facebook blog points out, the search tool provides an opportunity for businesses to conduct market research about specific groups of fans for free.

Read the full article

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LyricFind Partners with Gracenote, Gets Investment from Larry Marcus
 
Posted: 16 Jan 2013, 4:40 pm
LyricFind will now power all of Gracenote's lyric services as part of their new partnership, while BandPage director Larry Marcus will be providing his experience, and a personal investment, to the company.

Read the full article

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SoundExchange Distributions Grew 58% to $462 Million in 2012
 
Posted: 16 Jan 2013, 2:21 pm
SoundExchange distributed $462 million in digital performing royalties in 2012, a 58% increase over 2011, the organization announced Wednesday

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Lucian Grainge, Michael Lynton, 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.

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Sony Music Boosts Digital Team With Ole Obermann and Mark Piibe
 
Posted: 16 Jan 2013, 10:29 am
In a statement today from Sony Music Entertainment's president of global digital business and U.S. sales Dennis Kooker, the company announced the creation and appointment of two new, digitally focused positions; current Sony Music executive Ole Obermann has been named executive vice president, digital partner development and sales, while Mark Piibe will be leaving EMI to take on the role of executive vice president, global business development and digital strategy.

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Next Big Sound's 2012 State of Online Music
 
Posted: 15 Jan 2013, 6:29 pm
Next Big Sound, the data analytics company, has released their 2012 State of Online Music report. Below is an outline of the report's key takeaways by Big Sound's data journalist Liv Buli.  

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Business Matters: Relaunched Myspace Is a Success as Music Service -- But As a Social Network? We'll See ...
 
Posted: 15 Jan 2013, 5:35 pm
The redesigned Myspace finally opened up to the public today. The site, a year and a half in the works, is both a social network and a music discovery destination.

Read the full article

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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.

Read the full article

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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.

Read the full article

............................................................



Indie Band Love in the Circus Explores 3D Imaging at CES
 
Posted: 14 Jan 2013, 12:14 pm
Music can be as much about the visuals as it is about the sound. Among the more intriguing demonstrations of this at this year's Consumer Electronics Show was a video display in the Sony booth from an independent band called Love in the Circus; the Los Angeles based band used projection imaging to create a live stage that evokes a Cirque du Soleil-esque setting, wrapping custom animations around a physical stage set.

Read the full article

............................................................



Pop Leads U.K. Album Sales for Second Year Running
 
Posted: 14 Jan 2013, 10:29 am
Big-selling albums from Emeli Sandé, Adele, Ed Sheeran and One Direction ensured that pop remained the most-popular genre in the United Kingdom in 2012, according to new figures released by the Official Charts Company (OCC) and British labels trade body the BPI.

Read the full article

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Rolling Stones Lead Hot Tours with '50' Shows
 
Posted: 14 Jan 2013, 10:05 am
Rock legends the Rolling Stones stand at the top of Hot Tours this week with ticket sales reaching $38.6 million from the 50 and Counting Tour, while Nickelback, Jennifer Lopez and Elton John reach the top ten on the strength of their Australian tours.

Read the full article

............................................................



Rolling Stones Lead Hot Tours with '50' Shows
 
Posted: 14 Jan 2013, 10:05 am
Rock legends the Rolling Stones stand at the top of Hot Tours this week with ticket sales reaching $38.6 million from the 50 and Counting Tour, while Nickelback, Jennifer Lopez and Elton John reach the top ten on the strength of their Australian tours.

Read the full article

............................................................



Virtual Visionaries
 
Posted: 25 Nov 2012, 7:00 pm
Emilie Barta and John Pollard aim to take the fear out of planning hybrid events

More...


Read the full article

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All in the Planning
 
Posted: 11 Jul 2012, 8:00 pm

More...


Read the full article

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Take 10 - Conference Centers
 
Posted: 11 Jun 2012, 8:00 pm
Take 10 - Conference Centers

More...


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Convention Center Contacts
 
Posted: 7 Jun 2012, 8:00 pm

More...


Read the full article

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New School
 
Posted: 30 Apr 2012, 8:00 pm

More...


Read the full article

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Final Bow
 
Posted: 28 Mar 2012, 8:00 pm

More...


Read the full article

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IACC Makes Global Push; Criteria to 'Evolve'
 
Posted: 21 Mar 2012, 8:00 pm

More...


Read the full article

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Convention Center Coming to Provo
 
Posted: 25 Jan 2012, 7:00 pm

More...


Read the full article

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Gambling Headed for Hawaii Conv. Center?
 
Posted: 24 Jan 2012, 7:00 pm

More...


Read the full article

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Las Vegas Conv. Center Adds Digital Signage Feature
 
Posted: 24 Jan 2012, 7:00 pm

More...


Read the full article

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Anaheim Conv. Center Plans Expansion
 
Posted: 23 Jan 2012, 7:00 pm

More...


Read the full article

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A Duo of Conv. Centers Launches Free Wi-Fi
 
Posted: 23 Jan 2012, 7:00 pm

More...


Read the full article

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IACC Board Sets New Service Standards
 
Posted: 30 Nov 2011, 7:00 pm

More...


Read the full article

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APEC Under Way in Honolulu
 
Posted: 8 Nov 2011, 7:00 pm

More...


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Beyond the Box
 
Posted: 24 Oct 2011, 8:00 pm
Expanding convention centers are addressing new planner expectations

More...


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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.

Read the full article

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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.

Read the full article

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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.

Read the full article

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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.

Read the full article

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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.

Read the full article

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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.

Read the full article

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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.

Read the full article

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Tips to Make Transportation at Your Conference Greener
 
Posted: 9 May 2011, 10:09 am
Greening meetings has come a long way in recent years, but you can take it to the next level with a little strategy and a lot of enthusiasm. Learn how to get your group actively involved in being a deeper shade of green.

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University Venues
 
Posted: 30 Apr 2011, 8:00 pm
Collegiate athletic venues are ideal for team building and spectator fun

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Convention Centers
 
Posted: 28 Feb 2011, 7:00 pm
Beyond the Box

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Conference Center Changes
 
Posted: 31 Dec 2010, 7:00 pm
Conference Center Changes

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Conference Centers
 
Posted: 31 Dec 2010, 7:00 pm
With mounting competition, conference centers get flexible

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On Location - Convention Centers
 
Posted: 31 May 2010, 8:00 pm

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University Venues
 
Posted: 30 Apr 2010, 8:00 pm
Campus Culture

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Conference Centers
 
Posted: 31 Mar 2010, 8:00 pm

After a tough year, conference centers see better times ahead

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Convention Centers
 
Posted: 28 Feb 2010, 7:00 pm

Convention center cuisine is no longer an oxymoron

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Convention Centers
 
Posted: 28 Feb 2010, 7:00 pm
Convention center cuisine is no longer an oxymoron

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University Venues
 
Posted: 28 Feb 2010, 7:00 pm

Universities offer an exciting range of museum venues

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Dancing with Gorillas
 
Posted: 31 Oct 2009, 8:00 pm
Convention center contracts put meeting planners' negotiating skills to the test

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A Class Act
 
Posted: 30 Apr 2009, 8:00 pm

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University Venues
 
Posted: 28 Feb 2009, 7:00 pm

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Conference Centers
 
Posted: 31 Jan 2009, 7:00 pm
Conference Call

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Conference Centers
 
Posted: 31 Jan 2009, 7:00 pm

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Conference Centers
 
Posted: 31 Jan 2009, 7:00 pm

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Conference Call
 
Posted: 31 Dec 2008, 7:00 pm

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Center Stage
 
Posted: 31 Oct 2008, 8:00 pm

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Global Challenge
 
Posted: 31 Jul 2008, 8:00 pm

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Global Challenge
 
Posted: 30 Jun 2008, 8:00 pm

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Center Stage
 
Posted: 31 May 2008, 8:00 pm

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Head of the Class
 
Posted: 30 Apr 2008, 8:00 pm

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Center Stage
 
Posted: 31 Mar 2008, 8:00 pm

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Center Stage
 
Posted: 29 Feb 2008, 7:00 pm

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Raising the Bar
 
Posted: 31 Jan 2008, 7:00 pm

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Raising the Bar
 
Posted: 31 Jan 2008, 7:00 pm

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