News

 
Roberta Flack Rushed To Hospital From Apollo Theater Appearance, Now Under Observation
 
Posted: 22 Apr 2018, 10:30 am
Singer-songwriterRoberta Flackwas under observation at a Manhattan hospital Saturday after suddenly feeling ill before her appearance at Harlem's Apollo Theater.

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SeatGeek Grabs Naming Rights For Chicago MLS Stadium; Promises More ‘Live Programming’
 
Posted: 21 Apr 2018, 2:36 pm
After the Chicago Fire Major League Soccer Team?s final home game in 2018, its home stadium will be known as SeatGeek Stadium, as the ticketing platform appears to be picking up steam.

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NFL Unveils 2018 Schedule, With Several Games Routed Around Ed Sheeran Gigs
 
Posted: 20 Apr 2018, 9:57 pm
Stadiums are calling an audible after Ed Sheeran?s upcoming tour schedule conflicted with a number of potential NFL games.

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Executive VP Hank Abate Exits Madison Square Garden Company
 
Posted: 20 Apr 2018, 9:15 pm
Hank Abate, who joined Madison Square Garden as executive vice president of venue operations in 2016, has left the company, Pollstar has confirmed.

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New Venue Planned For Wichita
 
Posted: 20 Apr 2018, 8:22 pm
Kansas-based promoter Adam Hartke is planning on opening a new 3,300-capacity venue in Wichita, Kan.The venue, dubbed Wave, will have an outdoor perfromance area complete with a beer garden and food truck area, in addition to a smaller inside room with a capacity of 500.

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Live Nation Releases Executive Compensation Info
 
Posted: 20 Apr 2018, 6:58 pm
Documents filed by Live Nation with the U.S. Securities And Exchange Commission showed that executives had a huge gain in their 2017 earnings, thanks to a huge spike in stock awards.

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The ‘Free Bird’ Flies One Last Time: Lynyrd Skynyrd Announces Final Show
 
Posted: 20 Apr 2018, 6:44 pm
Lynyrd Skynyrd is returning to it home of Jacksonville, Fla., to play its last concert Sept. 2 at EverBank Field, home of the NFL?s Jaguars.

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Coachella Reaffirms Marijuana Ban
 
Posted: 20 Apr 2018, 4:28 pm
Recreational marijuana may now be legal in California, but, likely to the disappointment of many fans wanting to celebrate 4/20, Coachella is remaining firm in its ban on cannabis.

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Troy Lusk Officially Announces Jump To APA
 
Posted: 20 Apr 2018, 4:12 pm
After the shakeup at Circle Talent Agency this week Troy Lusk is now officially announcing his move to APA.

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InCuya Lineup Announced: New Order, Avett Brothers, SZA, Awolnation
 
Posted: 20 Apr 2018, 2:12 pm
InCuya Music Festival, the new AEG Presents / Rock And Roll Hall of Fame event taking place in downtown Cleveland Aug. 25-26, has announced its lineup, topped by New Order, The Avett Brothers, SZA, and Awolnation with many others overlooking Lake Erie on Malls B and C.

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Producer/DJ Avicii Has Been Found Dead
 
Posted: 20 Apr 2018, 1:57 pm
The Swedish-born producer and DJ known as Avicii has been found dead in Oman.Publicist Diana Baron said in a statement that the 28-year-old DJ, born Tim Bergling, was in Muscat, Oman.

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An Entertainment Oasis Rises in the Desert: The Show at Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa
 
Posted: 20 Apr 2018, 1:18 pm
If you?re on the way to Coachella this weekend passing through Palm Springs, Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa is hard to miss, towering above the desert off the 10 freeway The luxury casino resort and spa, built a little over 10 years ago, is owned and operated by the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians, but it?s a far cry from the bingo parlors and games of chance first established with the passage of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of 1989, which established the National Indian Gaming Commission to oversee the casinos built on reservation land.

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UTA Hires Sarah Casey In London
 
Posted: 20 Apr 2018, 12:36 pm
Music agent Sarah Casey joins the London office of United Talent Agency (UTA).

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On Record Store Day The Live Album Is Nowhere Near Dead
 
Posted: 20 Apr 2018, 12:12 pm
The live album is alive and mostly well.

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With A Little Help From Friends: German Promoter SSC Festivals Averts Bankruptcy
 
Posted: 20 Apr 2018, 11:18 am
After filing for preliminary bankruptcy at the beginning of this year, SSC Festivals GmbH, based in Dsseldorf, Germany, has turned the corner.

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Vasco Rossi's 'Largest Concert In History' Wins At Ticketing Business Awards
 
Posted: 20 Apr 2018, 10:11 am
Vasco Rossi?s anniversary concert at Modena?s Enzo Ferrari Park July 1, which sold just over 220,000 tickets, was awarded at this year?s Ticketing Business Awards for its sales and marketing campaign.

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Are Festivals Going Too Far In Their Radius Clauses?
 
Posted: 19 Apr 2018, 8:49 pm
With a lawsuit filed on April 9 by Soul?d Out Productions of Portland, Ore., against Goldenvoice and AEG over Coachella?s 2018 contracts, the issue of radius clauses has once again come to the fore and begs the question, what?s different about this year?s iteration?

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The Sherlocks Invade America
 
Posted: 19 Apr 2018, 7:58 pm
The Sherlocks? Kiaran Crook was only 14 when he and his 17-year-old brother Brandon began messing around with a guitar and drum set.

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Reviews: Pink, Stars Of ‘Nashville’, Roy Orbison Hologram & More
 
Posted: 19 Apr 2018, 7:19 pm
This week, for your reading enjoyment, we have compiled critical reviews of live performances from Pink in Washington, D.C.; Nashville In Concert in Manchester, England; Roy Orbison (Hologram) in Glasgow, Scotland; Ludacris in Wilmington, N.C.; Dweezil Zappa in Buffalo, N.Y.; Jason Isbell in Clearwater, Fla.; and Frankie Cosmos in San Diego.

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Pat Metheny Saves The World
 
Posted: 19 Apr 2018, 7:03 pm
Well, maybe Pat Metheny won?tsave the planet but an evening with the jazz guitar virtuosos will lift your spirits.The multiple Grammy winner launches a Europe run in late June and begins his North America journey in early August.

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No Mickey Mouse Job: Thieves Heist 8,000 Disneyland Tickets From FFA Truck
 
Posted: 19 Apr 2018, 5:41 pm
Authorities say thieves made off with 8,000 Disneyland tickets when they stole a box trailer from a youth agricultural education organization.

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Live Nation Formally Takes Over Maine State Pier Concert Series
 
Posted: 19 Apr 2018, 3:41 pm
The city council of Portland, Maine, unanimously voted April 18 to rescind its contract with local promoter Waterfront Concerts and instead have Live Nation book the summer concert series at the Maine State Pier following calls to boycott Waterfront over owner Alex Gray?s domestic violence assault case.

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Tesla, Tom Keifer, Extreme And Queensrÿche on ‘Monsters Of Rock Cruise’
 
Posted: 19 Apr 2018, 2:54 pm
Avast, me hearties!The 2019 Monsters Of Rock Cruise has revealed a high-seas lineup that includes Tesla, Cinderella?s Tom Keifer, Extreme, Queensrche, Saxon, Skid Row, U.D.O., Kix, D.A.D., Danger Danger, Richie Kotzen, Kings X, Pat Travers Band, and Nelson.

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Coachella Delays Opening Of Campgrounds After Weather Warning
 
Posted: 19 Apr 2018, 2:34 pm
Coachella was forced to delay the opening of its campgrounds after The National Weather Service Issued a high wind warning for April 18.The opening was delayed to 3 a.m. April 20, the beginning of the festival?s second weekend.

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After Two Years Of Investigation, No Charges Brought In Prince Fentanyl Overdose
 
Posted: 19 Apr 2018, 1:48 pm
The prosecutor in the Minnesota county where Prince died said Thursday that no criminal charges will be filed in the musician's death, effectively ending the state's two-year investigation into how Prince got the fentanyl that killed him.

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Eventbrite Acquires Spanish Ticketing Provider Ticketea
 
Posted: 19 Apr 2018, 11:57 am
Eventbrite, by its own admission the world's largest ticketing and event technology platform, has acquired Spanish ticketing provider Ticketea for an undisclosed sum.

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Tixserve Strikes Deal With Ireland's Biggest Independent Ticketing Company Tickets.ie
 
Posted: 19 Apr 2018, 10:55 am
Ireland based B2B white label ticketing platform Tixserve has struck a deal with the country?s largest independent ticketing provider tickets.ie.

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Live Nation Teams To Reduce Waste At Sheds; Festival Promoter: 'Business-Wise, It's A Good Move'
 
Posted: 19 Apr 2018, 9:54 am
Concert promotion and ticketing giant Live Nation has committed to remove all single-use plastic straws in favor of a marine-friendly paper alternative at all of its 45-plus U.S. owned and operated amphitheaters, teaming with environmental organization The Lonely Whale.

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How Blockchain and Bitcoin Could Revolutionize The Economics of Secondary Ticketing
 
Posted: 19 Apr 2018, 8:40 am
The secondary ticketing market generated $15 billion in global revenue last year, representing by some estimates 20 percent of the total live event market. It?s one of the major issues surrounding the lucrative concert tour/ticket market, as promoters and artists alike eye their share of the money generated by the likes of eBay?s StubHub, Ticketmaster?s TM+, Vivid Seats, ViaGoGo and Seat Geek.

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Nominate your 2018 Women of Influence!
 
Posted: 18 Apr 2018, 7:00 pm

We need your nominations! VenuesNow magazine is preparing for the tenth annual Venues Now Women of Influence Awards! The chosen women will have made a difference in the sports, entertainment, fair and meetings industries.

Submit your nominees to nominations@venuesnow.com.
Please include her name, title, affiliation, location and a brief description of accomplishments (200 words max in the body of the email, NO SEPARATE ATTACHMENTS PLEASE).

SUBMIT NOMINATIONS BY: Monday, April 30, 2018

The 2018 winners will be selected by a vote of VenuesNow subscribers, staff and advisors. Once nominees are announced, subscribers can sign in to our website and cast votes.

Winners will be announced on our website and in VN Pulse. There will be an award reception presented during IAVM VenueConnect in Toronto, Canada July 22-25, 2018.

Thank you to the 2018 Women of Influence Sponsors:

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Congratulations to our previous Women of Influence winners: (from 2007-2017)

Sandie Aaron
Jan Addison
Jo-Ann Armstrong
Kim Bedier
Christy Castillo Butcher
Lynn Carlotto
Liza Cartmell
Wesley Cullen
Peggy Daidakis
Kim Damron
Donna Dowless
Sandra Dunn
Adina Erwin
Nicole Feld
Maureen Ginty
Sydney Greenblatt
Ali Harnell
Barbara Hubbard
Susette Hunter
Donna Julian
Jane Kleinberger
Tammy Koolbeck
Vanessa Kromer
Shura Lindgren-Garnett
Michele Montague
Marla Ostroff
Kerry Painter
Cyndee Pennington
Carol Pollock
Debra Rathwell
Sally Roach
Susan Rosenbluth
Claire Rothman
Leslee Stewart
Kim Stone
Michele L. Swan
Cheryl Swanson
Patti-Anne Tarlton
Brenda Tinnen
Karen Totaro
Carol Wallace
Robyn Williams


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Forest Hills Goes Year-Round
 
Posted: 18 Apr 2018, 5:00 pm

After a renovation, 95-year-old Forest Hills Stadium reopened in 2013. (Photo: facebook.com/ForestHillsStadium)

Forest Hills Stadium is moving forward with plans to become a year-round venue, and is introducing full-plumbing bathrooms and an automat for food service in the fifth year after its 2013 reopening.

The 95-year-old venue in Queens, N.Y., home to the U.S. Open tennis tournament until 1977, was renovated and reopened as a concert venue and is booked by Madison House Presents through a deal with AEG.

The venue is scheduled this year to host concerts by Robert Plant and the Sensational Space Shifters, Roger Daltrey, Arctic Monkeys, David Byrne with Tune-Yards, and Van Morrison with Willie Nelson.

Forest Hills Stadium is to have a skating rink and holiday vendors in the winter after the concert season, the next step in making it a year-round venue, according to AM New York.

The venue has previously used portable toilets but now will include permanent “gender-inclusive bathrooms” with running water.

The automats are a throwback to the historic venue’s previous use of the hot food dispenser.
Helping in that effort are newly announced founding partners Heineken, American Express, Bulova and Bacardi.

“We are thrilled to have Heineken, American Express, Bulova and Bacardi as our 2018 Founding Partners,” Josh Gold, vice president of AEG Global Partnerships, said in a statement. “These world class brands have seen the vision of what we are building in this historic venue and we couldn’t be happier to welcome them to Forest Hills.”

This story originally ran at Pollstar.com, an affiliated publication.


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New Deals for Arena Alliance Members
 
Posted: 18 Apr 2018, 4:55 pm

A Casamigos video with George Clooney runs on the videoboard at BB&T Arena in Sunrise, Fla.  (Courtesy OVG)

Editor's note: This story has been revised since it was originally posted.

OVG Global Partnerships has signed Belkin, Casamigos, Hulu and Zoom for national sponsorships tied to the Arena Alliance, a group of 26 big league venues across the NBA and NHL.

The agreements, all spanning one to two years, each cover different arenas, but together reach  13 members of the alliance, said Dan Griffis, president of OVG Global Partnerships. OVG Global Partnerships is a division of Oak View Group, which owns VenuesNow.

Industry sources say deals like this typically range from the high six figures to the mid-seven figures, and all four deals had been activated by midseason in the NBA and NHL.

Those deals follow the massive three-year, $40 million agreement OVG signed with Walmart in 2017 covering 21 arenas. Most important, the new agreements generate revenue for arenas in Denver, Detroit, Indianapolis and San Antonio that were not part of the Walmart deal due to conflicts with existing sponsors in their markets, Griffis said.

For the most part, all five deals fit OVG’s business model for the alliance, which is to bring nontraditional sponsors into arenas to promote their products in front of a wide audience attending hockey and basketball games, concerts and family shows. Casamigos is the exception, given that it falls into the hard liquor category, but OVG’s research showed that fewer than 15 percent of alliance members had tequila sponsors that could pose potential conflicts of interest, Griffis said.

Seven arenas are part of the Casamigos agreement: TD Garden in Boston; BB&T Center in Sunrise, Fla.; Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis; Prudential Center in Newark, N.J.; Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia; AT&T Center in San Antonio; and Capital One Center in Washington, D.C. At those facilities, activation includes serving Casamigos tequila on the concourses and in suites and clubs, supported by marketing materials around the bars where those drinks are sold, OVG officials said. As part of the agreement, the ability to serve Casamigos products is negotiated through the arena concessionaires to comply with federal liquor laws.

Casamigos, a high-end tequila whose name translates to “house of friends” in Spanish, was launched in 2013 by actor George Clooney, nightclub owner Rande Gerber and real estate developer Michael Meldman. In June 2017, they sold the company to Diageo for $700 million, a sum that could increase to $1 billion pending sales over the next decade, per terms of the acquisition. Clooney, Gerber and Meldman remain involved in Casamigos, and they recently expanded business to include the brand’s first Mezcal product.

“Given the news of the sale and the fact that they were the hottest brand in the market and had exceptional leadership, it made them a good candidate to reach out to,” Griffis said. “They are scrappy and extremely creative.”

At BB&T Center, Casamigos lines up with the strategy of the NHL’s Florida Panthers to align with blue-chip brands, said Anthony Hill, the team’s director of corporate partnerships. As part of the activation at the arena, Casamigos videos run on the center-hung videoboard and on concourse television screens.

“It was perfect timing for us. It’s a well-recognized brand,” Hill said. “Any time you can get involved with George Clooney, that’s always an asset.”

OVG’s three smaller deals are tech-centric for a smaller number of arenas. Hulu’s deal extends to Moda Center in Portland and Capital One Center, where it will promote its new livestreaming package that includes sports networks and live NBA and NHL games. Activation includes in-arena signage and digital advertising, plus social media promotion.

Belkin, a 35-year-old brand that’s evolved into producing accessories for mobile devices, has a deal to supply charging stations in public and private spaces and to sell connector cables and battery packs at team stores. It’s similar to the displays Belkin sets up inside Hudson News stores, where the vendor is the airport retailer’s biggest client, said Kieran Hannon, Belkin’s chief marketing officer.

Belkin’s deal kicked off at Amalie Arena in Tampa, Fla.; Little Caesars Arena in Detroit; and Pepsi Center in Denver, and company officials expect the agreement to expand to most alliance buildings over the next 12 months, Hannon said.

“It’s such a natural match for us, very authentic,” he said. “People go to games and concerts and they enjoy capturing the moment on their phones. But there’s a tendency to lose that capability when they can’t charge their battery and keep it charged. The fans have told us it’s an unmet need.”

Zoom’s deal, which encompasses TD Garden, Chicago’s United Center, Pepsi Center and Madison Square Garden in New York City, revolves around suite hospitality, in which the Silicon Valley firm can showcase its products before potential clients, and digital advertising.

The Silicon Valley firm got into sports with local deals at Oakland's Oracle Arena and SAP Center, where the NBA’s Golden State Warriors and NHL’s San Jose Sharks respectively play, Zoom President David Berman said. The OVG agreements expand its presence at other arenas across the country as Zoom continues to grow and compete in a highly competitive market.

“We went with OVG, and with these volume deals, they handle it all for us,” he said. “It makes us look bigger. We don’t have the connections in these other markets.”

First-year gains: Elsewhere within OVG, four facilities showed big gains in their first year under the management of OVG Facilities, the company announced. The Kovalchick Complex, Watsco Center, Two Rivers Convention Center and the Avalon Theatre exceeded expectations by achieving recording breaking years, revamping and streamlining venue operations, and carrying out several venue improvements.

OVG Facilities took over management of the Watsco Center on the campus of the University of Miami, Coral Gables, Fla.,  and within the first fiscal improved revenue by 80 percent. The venue turned a profit for the first time in its 15-year history. 

The Kovalchick Complex, on the campus of Indiana University of Pennsylvania in Indiana, Pa., delivered the highest net operating income in facility history, up 251 percent since the company took over management.

Two Rivers Convention Center and Avalon Theatre in Grand Junction, Colo., also increased profitability, decreased expenses and improved the guest experience, the company said.

“When we started the company, our main objective was to focus on our client's goals and objectives.” OVG Facilities’ senior vice president, Tom Paquette, said in a statement. “We take that philosophy and pair it with our experience, and it’s yielding great results.”


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New York City’s CityParks SummerStage Unveils Lineup
 
Posted: 18 Apr 2018, 4:32 pm
There?s a lot to love about this year?s City Parks SummerStage schedule at Central Park, including free shows, festivals and benefit concerts featuring Liam Gallagher, Mac DeMarco and others.Presented by Capitol One, the season gets underway in early June with Gregory Porter and Victory Boyd.

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Las Vegas Convention Center Expanding
 
Posted: 18 Apr 2018, 3:00 pm

Las Vegas Convention Center is undergoing a massive $1.4 billion renovation.

Las Vegas Convention Center is starting a whole-venue renovation and adding a fourth exhibit hall.

“Our building was originally constructed in 1959,” said Terry Jicinsky, senior vice president of operations. “We’ve had 14 renovations and expansions and we’re adding a significant fourth hall now, which will add to and renovate our facility.”

LVCCD_ATRIUM-20180409_tvsdesign1.jpgRendering of the interior of the new 1.4 million-square-foot enhancement being built at Las Vegas Convention Center, to be completed by December 2020.

The new hall will be 600,000 square feet; with meeting rooms and support space, it will create a 1.4 million-square-foot venue.

“After the expansion is completed, we will come back to our existing building and completely renovate the 3.2 million square feet of existing space,” he said. “We're aslso adding some space to the exisiting building, so the end there will be a 5.2 million-square-foot facility, one of the largest in the world.”

The budget for the expansion is $860 million. The renovation of the existing facility will take $540 million.

A ceremonial groundbreaking was held in January, and the site is now under construction. “The building itself will start steel and concrete in September,” said Jicinsky. “We expect to open in January of 2021 and our first guest to be CES 2021.”

The renovation of the existing building will start immediately after the addition of the fourth exhibit hall is open and will be completed by the end of 2023. The work will be done in incremental bits and no bookings will be affected. “As a hall closes for a renovation, that client will go to another hall,” he explained.

Goals of the renovations to the existing facility are to improve technology, upgrade food and beverage, improve the amount of and access to public space and create more social spaces for people to gather.

The concessionaire at LVCC is Centerplate, which is in the first year of a seven-year contract.

The lead architect is tvsdesign, based in Atlanta, with input from four local Las Vegas architects: TSK Architects, Simpson Coulter Studio, Carpenter Sellers Del Gatto Architects and KME Architects.

Rob Svedberg, principal at tvsdesign, said that his firm was one of three teams that responded to the competition but “we’ve been chasing this for five to six years.” tvsdesign won the contract in December.

“The designs are fluid right now but the main parts are in place,” said Svedberg. “We’re out of the schematic design phase, with imagery and layouts set, but still early in the overall design scheme.”

Svedberg confirmed that construction will begin in the fall, with a finish date of 2020. The schedule to complete the building is "aggressive but realistic,” he said.

“The big challenge is making sure the campus is unified,” Svedberg said. “We need to reach back into the existing campus to make sure that it all flows together.

“There is a ribbon across the entire facility that will turn the entire space into one building,” he pointed out. “Where it rises up is where you enter the building and it works as a wayfinding experience so people know where they are.”

Another barrier was creating spaces that flow and don’t feel like the guest “is walking through a long endless hallway. We are putting coffee shops in place, gathering spaces and other ammenites that break up the monotony of walking down a long, straight hallway.

“Our designs are geared toward how do we shrink the building so they walk through it in comfort and ease,” said Svedberg. “People can sit down and have an informal gathering space, stop for coffee or something to eat; it’s similar to how you walk down the street in a city. With activities along the way you are stimulated by all the things you can do.”

TVS has not been contracted for the next phase of the renovation. “We’ve submitted a comprehensive plan for the renovation to the existing structure,” said Svedberg. “But the contract for the phase won’t be biddable for a while.”

According to Jicinsky, the construction is expected to generate $2.1 billion in construction-related local economic impact, 7,800 full-time jobs, and $810 million in economic impact to the city on an annual basis.


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HOT TICKETS FOR APRIL 19, 2018
 
Posted: 18 Apr 2018, 2:00 pm

Kevin Hart performed during the Hilarity For Charity show benefiting The Alzheimer's Association at the Avalon in Hollywood, Calif. (Photo: Chelsea Lauren/Getty Images for Hilarity For Charity)

Comedian Kevin Hart brought his Live Nation-promoted Irresponsible Tour to Royal Farms Arena in Baltimore for two shows March 23-24 and laughed all the way to the bank, grossing $1,913,485, with attendance of 24,431. Tickets ranged from $44.50 to $150.

Jennifer Lopez's residency at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas continues to pull in Vegas visitors looking for a break from the gambling action. Her Caesars Entertainment Inc./Live Nation-promoted show at Zappos Theater on March 24 grossed $938,385, with 4,485 attending. Ticket ranged from $54 to $412.

HOT TICKETS is a weekly summary of top events ranked by gross as reported to VNPulse via Pollstar. Following are the top 20 concerts and events, the top 5 in each attendance category, that took place March 20-April 17.

More Than 15,000 Attendance

10,001-15,000 Attendance

5,001-10,000 Attendance

5,000 or Less Attendance

1) Ed Sheeran
Gross Sales:
$8,595,585; Venue: Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane, Australia; Attendance: 103,744; Ticket Range: $128.23-$58.29; Promoter: Frontier Touring; Dates: Mar. 20-21; No. of Shows: 2

2) Eagles
Gross Sales: $5,286,412; Venue: Bridgestone Arena, Nashville; Attendance: 32,586; Ticket Range: $375-$99.50; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Mar. 23-24; No. of Shows: 2

3) Pearl Jam
Gross Sales: $3,371,519; Venue: Maracana Stadium, Rio De Janeiro; Attendance: 42,664; Ticket Range: $239.80-$32.33; Promoter: T4F - Time For Fun; Dates: Mar. 21; No. of Shows: 1

4) Maluma
Gross Sales: $2,309,254; Venue: Forum, Inglewood, Calif.; Attendance: 25,079; Ticket Range: $151.50-$41.50; Promoter: Cardenas Marketing Network (CMN); Dates: Apr. 7, 11; No. of Shows: 2

5) Romeo Santos
Gross Sales: $1,257,288; Venue: Oracle Arena, Oakland, Calif.; Attendance: 14,408; Ticket Range: $154-$37.62; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Apr. 6; No. of Shows: 1

1) Kevin Hart
Gross Sales: $1,913,485; Venue: Royal Farms Arena, Baltimore; Attendance: 24,431; Ticket Range: $150-$44.50; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Mar. 23-24; No. of Shows: 2

2) Cirque du Soleil - "Crystal"
Gross Sales: $1,106,291; Venue: Valley View Casino Center, San Diego; Attendance: 15,137; Ticket Range: $149-$36; Promoter: Cirque du Soleil; Dates: Mar. 21-25; No. of Shows: 8

3) Kid Rock
Gross Sales: $918,377; Venue: Mandalay Bay Events Center, Las Vegas; Attendance: 8,373; Ticket Range: $149.50-$49.50; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Mar. 24; No. of Shows: 1

4) Chris Stapleton
Gross Sales: $912,884; Venue: MGM Grand Garden Arena, Las Vegas; Attendance: 11,682; Ticket Range: $175-$49; Promoter: In-house Promotion; Dates: Mar. 23; No. of Shows: 1

5) Remy Ma
Gross Sales: $744,014; Venue: Atlantic City Boardwalk Hall, Atlantic City, N.J.; Attendance: 10,492; Ticket Range: $107-$52; Promoter: Platinum Productions; Dates: Mar. 24; No. of Shows: 1

1) Jennifer Lopez
Gross Sales: $938,385; Venue: Zappos Theater At Planet Hollywood, Las Vegas; Attendance: 4,485; Ticket Range: $412-$54; Promoter: Caesars Entertainment Inc., Live Nation; Dates: Mar. 24; No. of Shows: 1

2) Luis Miguel
Gross Sales: $877,845; Venue: Auditorio Citibanamex, Monterrey, Mexico; Attendance: 6,732; Ticket Range: $222.41-$27.80; Promoter: Eventos Artisticos; Dates: Apr. 13; No. of Shows: 1

3) G.E.M. (Get Everybody Moving)
Gross Sales: $872,916; Venue: Mohegan Sun Arena, Uncasville, Conn.; Attendance: 6,202; Ticket Range: $238-$68; Promoter: In-house Promotion, IEM Group; Dates: Apr. 1; No. of Shows: 1

4) Harry Styles
Gross Sales: $653,261; Venue: Oslo (Norway) Spektrum Arena; Attendance: 9,307; Ticket Range: $84.27-$58.54; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Mar. 21; No. of Shows: 1

5) Lorde
Gross Sales: $624,700; Venue: The Anthem, Washington, D.C.; Attendance: 6,000; Ticket Range: $175-$100; Promoter: I.M.P.; Dates: Apr. 8; No. of Shows: 1

1) "Andrew Lloyd Webber's Love Never Dies"
Gross Sales: $1,285,724; Venue: The Smith Center / Reynolds Hall, Las Vegas; Attendance: 15,727; Ticket Range: $123-$25; Promoter: In-house; Dates: Mar. 20-25; No. of Shows: 8

2) Frankie Valli And The Four Seasons
Gross Sales: $495,132; Venue: Prudential Hall, Newark, N.J.; Attendance: 5,602; Ticket Range: $171-$45; Promoter: In-house Promotion; Dates: Apr. 5-6; No. of Shows: 2

3) "Jersey Boys"
Gross Sales: $473,795; Venue: Ruth Eckerd Hall, Clearwater, Fla.; Attendance: 6,351; Ticket Range: $100-$35; Promoter Ruth Eckerd Hall Presents; Dates: Mar. 30-31; No. of Shows: 3

4) Rain - A Tribute To The Beatles
Gross Sales: $433,946; Venue: Academy Of Music, Philadelphia; Attendance: 6,252; Ticket Range: $99-$25; Promoter: In-house Promotion, Kimmel Center Presents; Dates: Mar. 23-25; No. of Shows: 5

5) "Harry Potter In Concert"
Gross Sales: $297,995; Venue: Bass Concert Hall, Austin, Texas; Attendance: 4,471; Ticket Range: $91.50-$41.50; Promoter: Innovation Arts And Entertainment: Apr. 7-8; No. of Shows: 2

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

 


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Under the Stars in Orlando
 
Posted: 18 Apr 2018, 11:00 am

The Eagles perform at Camping World Stadium in Orlando on April 14. (Photo: Lisa Claire Bower)

The 2018 stadium concert season got off to a rousing start last weekend. Camping World Stadium reported $8.23 million in gross ticket sales for The Eagles and Jimmy Buffett on April 14, which set a record for a concert at the 82-year-old Orlando venue.

The sold-out event promoted by Live Nation drew attendance of 45,853 on a perfect night for live music outdoors in central Florida, said Allen Johnson, chief venues officer for the city-owned stadium.

“It went really well,” Johnson said. “It was a great crowd and great vibe.”

Food and drink sales totaled about $1.2 million with a per cap of $26.77. Levy runs the stadium’s concessions and premium dining. Fans spent an average of $14.77 on concert merchandise, Johnson said.

The record ticket sales for a concert come after the old Citrus Bowl Stadium underwent a $208-million renovation, completed in late 2014. The building, renamed Camping World Stadium in April 2016, has now had four concerts since the renovation: The Rolling Stones played there in 2015, Guns N’ Roses in 2016 and Metallica in 2017, Johnson said.

Last weekend was the first time since July 3, 1977, that The Eagles and Jimmy Buffett have performed together outdoors in Orlando, at Rock Super Bowl II, when the stadium was called the Tangerine Bowl. Johnson believes that was another factor for record-breaking ticket sales.

The two acts have a long relationship dating to when Buffett first opened for The Eagles in 1975 in Columbia, S.C. In 1998, Buffett inducted The Eagles into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. 

WrestleMania 33, held last year at Camping World Stadium, remains the highest-grossing event at the facility, Johnson said. WWE’s marquee event generated $14.5 million in ticket revenue and attendance of 75,245.

This summer, the Vans Warped Tour is set to hit Camping World Stadium on Aug. 3, and Beyonce and Jay Z’s “On the Run II” tour is scheduled to play there Aug. 29.


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Bridgestone Arena Lands Some Big Ones
 
Posted: 18 Apr 2018, 10:40 am

Gill and Ben, the first two catfish in the 850-gallon tank, explore their new home at Bridgestone Arena. (Courtesy Nashville Predators)

The NHL’s Nashville Predators don’t want their fans to throw catfish on Bridgestone Arena’s ice for good luck. That doesn’t mean the Predators don’t appreciate the whiskery critter.

It’s that push and pull around a home-grown tradition — Predators fans first threw a fish onto the ice nearly 20 years ago, not long after the franchise began play in 1998 — that led team President Sean Henry to unveil a new 850-gallon tank on the main concourse of the arena April 12, the day the team hosted its first game of this year’s playoffs.

The tank started with a catfish named Gill, and a second, Ben, was added days later. A third and fourth fish, both to be named by fans via social media polls, will arrive as the playoffs move along. The Predators lead their first-round best-of-seven series with Colorado three games to one after beating the Avalanche on Wednesday night in Denver.

Henry told VenuesNow the idea has floated around the arena for years, but as fans continued to champion the concept, the team started exploring it more recently.

The fans have always taken the lead on the catfish tradition in Nashville. As many native Detroit residents transplanted for work in Nashville, the odd yet deeply revered tradition of throwing a dead octopus onto the ice at Detroit Red Wings’ playoff games for good luck hit Nashville. Predator fans took it upon themselves to put a local spin on the tradition, tossing giant catfish.

“We never support anything being thrown in our building,” Henry said, “but a legend built. We have the best fans in sports and we listen to them all the time. Over the past handful of years, they said we needed a catfish tank to pay tribute to our signature.”

As Henry explored the idea, he found it wasn’t as simple as putting in a tank. Issues of maintenance, safety, taking care of live creatures and making it fun for the fans all surfaced. Drawing on experience Henry and his staff had from placing touch tanks for fans to interact with rays in St. Petersburg’s Tropicana Field for Major League Baseball’s Tampa Bay Rays, he knew it wasn’t always a fun project. “It was a lot of rush up and back off,” Henry said. “You go through a lot of designs, placement and partnerships.”

In the end, the Predators reeled in an old tank from owner Herb Fritch’s personal collection and with the help of local business The Aquatic Critter, the partnership for installation was complete. The start of the playoffs seemed as good a time as any for the introduction.

“Our building is always in a state of renovation,” Henry said. “We added tanks, added a Labatt Brewing zone, drink rails,” all new for the playoffs.

The catfish make their home on the main concourse—the four catfish represent the four wins needed to advance to the next round of the playoffs and the four rounds needed to win the Stanley Cup—but Henry said they might migrate. “We promote the fact we don’t mind failing a lot and we have fun with it,” he said. “We wanted maximum exposure for it. We just don’t know if that is where it will live forever. We will play with traffic counts.”

The first night was a grand success, with a line of 50 fans lingering an hour after the game to get pictures by the tank.

The team will slowly add to the tank as the fish acclimate to the space, and it plans graphics around the walls that tell the story of the catfish, show pictures of the fish and have fun anecdotes. There’s even a touch of police drama in the catfish story: Police arrested a fan in Pittsburgh during the 2017 Stanley Cup Finals for trying to toss a catfish onto the ice in PPG Paints Arena and charged him with being in possession of an “instrument of crime.”

The first fish name, Gill, comes with a triple entendre, paying homage to the team’s first “unofficial mayor of Smashville,” singer Vince Gill; radio announcer and former player Hal Gill; and the obvious fish reference. The second fish, Ben, was named after a Predators superfan who died before the 2017 season. A fan vote will determine the names of the last two fish, which will allow the team to polish off the signage around the tank. Each fish will get its own cave in the tank.

As the team struggles to keep the catfish off the ice during the playoffs (one of the most recent attempts to make the ice involved a fish wearing a tuxedo), Henry said building the tank doesn’t promote the throwing. Instead, the tank appreciates the catfish as a secondary image of the team, one created and celebrated by fans.


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In Memoriam: Bob Reid, 1931-2018
 
Posted: 17 Apr 2018, 8:00 pm

The late Bob Reid, second from right, with the “original Met Center gang, along with a note from Vince Egan, CEO of VEE Corp., lauding the group. With Reid are Karen Swan, who moved on to Target Center in Minneapolis; the late Frank Jirik, who ended his career at SAP Center in San Jose, Calif.; Sara Grunewald; and Jack Larson, manager of  Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn., at the 20th anniversary of Sesame Street Live on March 3, 2000. (Courtesy Jack Larson)

A straight shooter and early recycler, Bob Reid spent his career running the old Met Center in Bloomington, Minn., home of the Minnesota North Stars hockey club, and booking Big Bird for VEE Corp.’s Sesame Street Live. Reid died March 30 at the age of 86 in Wausau, Wis.

Jack Larson, manager of Xcel Energy Center, started his career in the 1970s at Met Center, working with Reid and SAP Center’s Jim Goddard before the hockey team moved south in 1993, becoming the Dallas Stars, and the Met Center was torn down a year later. “Bob was the original recycler,” Larson recalled. “At lunch hour he’d go for a run around the building and when he was done, he’d go to the lower level of the arena and collect cans for recycling.” Reid was not afraid to put his head in the wastebasket, looking for recyclables.

In Reid’s day it was a one-man show and he took the cans home to Edina, Minn., to recycle the stash. He helped establish the Edina Recycling Commission. “He was an early pioneer; he felt it was the right thing to do,” Larson said.

Reid started his career in sports and entertainment at the University of Minnesota, where he worked for the athletic department's intramural and sports information offices. After graduation, he was part of the Minnesota Centennial Commission's publicity team.

He became the publicity director for the Minneapolis Lakers basketball team from 1955 to 1958, then joined Max Winter Attractions as an associate until 1963, where he provided public relations support for the Harlem Globetrotters, the Hawaii State Fair and the Midwest Auto Show. He became a partner with Padilla, Sarjeant, Sullivan and Speer Public Relations for four years, representing clients like the Grain Belt brewery and the Ice Follies.

Like many in the business, his relationships and connections guided his career, in his case to join the fledgling Minnesota North Stars, an NHL expansion club, where he served as the hockey team's first administrative director from 1967 to 1972 and then became the Met Center building manager until 1985.

In 1985, he joined VEE Corp., booking Sesame Street Live for the late Vince E. Egan. He worked for Egan as director of booking until 1997. Jay Humphry, former VP of operations for VEE, recalls learning how to book shows from Reid during their VEE days. Sesame Street Live debuted at the Met Center in April 1980, Humphry recalled. Like Larson, he vividly recalls Reid’s recycling habits – right down to rinsing and bagging the beer cans after settlement.

Reid loved the business and his building and people responded to him in a positive way. “He was a wonderful guy to deal with, he always played it straight,” Humphry said. “That’s what he taught me. If you play it straight you can come back to people year after year.”

He did the same thing on the other side of the table booking Sesame Street Live. Booking three tours already, Reid taught Humphry how to do it so he could take on the fourth, strictly Canadian unit Egan decreed.

Humphry learned networking extraordinaire from Reid. He recalled the days when Reid would cut out photos published in the old Amusement Business trade magazine of new managers of buildings VEE Corp. played. He’d paste the photos into a notebook (is this the first Facebook?) and take it with him to International Association of Auditorium Managers meetings so he could recognize and snag them as they walked by. He’d pick a table and host meeting after meeting with future clients to book the show, Humphry recalled.

Reid was very involved in IAAM, which is now the International Association of Venue Managers. He helped form an offshoot of that association, originally called the Non-Group to avoid any appearances of anti-competitive practices, and later called MAMA (Major Arena Managers Association). MAMA was a group of managers of major arenas who could promote and co-promote shows. Aspiring producers and promoters would address the group periodically, introducing new content and seeking their professional input to make tours successful. Forty years later, similar groups still exist in the industry, such as Arena Network, Venue Coalition and even the Arena Alliance to some extent.

Brad Mayne, CEO of IAVM, considers Reid a mentor and recalls seeing him at the annual IAVM convention, arms folded, standing against the wall, ready to help newcomers and veterans alike. “He was always ready and willing to answer questions.” He served on the IAVM board of directors and on various committees.

According to his family-prepared obit, “Bob loved to tell a good story, sharing (and hearing) jokes, the Chicago Cubs, and tapping his toes to Big Band and polka music. He was a 'doer,' and an outstanding role model with an exceptional work ethic.”

He was born June 12, 1931, in Minneapolis, to the late Robert S. and Meryl Reid. He married Eleanor "Elie" Weld on Feb. 2, 1962, in Minneapolis. She claimed sharing the date with Groundhog Day would ensure Bob couldn't forget their anniversary. They raised two children, Fritz and Julie.

Reid’s interest in sports found him also serving for 42 years as the lead public address announcer for the Minnesota State High School League state hockey, baseball, softball, football and wrestling tournaments; for the MSHSL as a baseball umpire; for the Western Collegiate Hockey Association as publicity director and lead statistician; and also as a statistician for the Minnesota Vikings. He was also part of a group and one of the first coaches that started the Edina Little League organization in the 1950s.

He is survived by his son, Frederic "Fritz" Reid, partner Kim Forrest and son Forrest Hansen; daughter Julie Bliss, husband Jim, and children Reid Baker and Charlotte Bliss; two siblings, and nieces and nephews. The funeral was April 7 in Wausau, Wis., where he lived during the last years of his life after leaving Edina.


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LAFC Chooses Appetize For POS Services
 
Posted: 17 Apr 2018, 6:00 pm

Banc of California Stadium, where Major League Soccer's Los Angeles FC will play, is partnering with Appetize for point-of-sale services.

Banc of California Stadium, where the newly minted Major League Soccer team Los Angeles Football Club will play, has chosen Appetize as its point-of-sale company.

The new $350 million, 22,000-capacity stadium will join a list of L.A.-area clients for Appetize including the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, The Forum, Dodger Stadium, Hollywood Palladium, The Wiltern, Angels Stadium and the Galen Center at the University of Southern California. The company is also based in Los Angeles.

The concessionaire at Banc of California Stadium is Legends.

“This deal dates back into Q4, late 2017,” said Kevin Anderson, co-founder and chief strategy officer for Appetize. “LAFC and Legends were running an RFP for POS and, in beginning of the year, we won the deal.”

The systems will go live on opening day, April 29. “We’re already almost finished with installation of the hardware and software and training,” he said. “Construction is almost finished. It’s all exciting stuff.”

The average term of a contract with Appetize is five years.

The Appetize payment system can enable a faster transaction flow for the concession stands and will also allow guests to order from their phones, said Anderson.

“We will power every concession stand in the stadium,” said Anderson. “We work closely with Legends in other venues already, and work with them in a lot of Live Nation amphitheaters, so this is an extension of that relationship as well.”

There will be over 200 Appetize POS devices in use across the stadium in both club spaces and quick-serve concessions. This includes contactless payments at all transaction points, including Android Pay, Apple Pay and Samsung Pay. LAFC is also deploying Appetize handheld POS terminals for waiters in premium levels. 

In addition, the system will provide the platform for future capabilities such as direct payment through a mobile wallet via the LAFC venue app, as well as ordering through Appetize within the LAFC app to designated express pickup areas or in-seat delivery. Appetize inventory management and advanced analytics platforms will also provide real-time data feeds to allow for on-the-fly decision-making.

“We’re honored to partner with our city’s newest team and stadium,” said Anderson. “It’s rare to find people as forward-thinking as those managing the guest experience at Banc of California Stadium, let alone have them be less than 10 miles from our headquarters. We’re excited and looking forward to providing guests with an awesome experience in our hometown.”

LAFC 's vice president of information and technology, Christian Lau, said, “We looked at Appetize, Bypass, NCR Quest and in the end we decided that Appetize was the best fit for our venue.”

“We were pleased with the depth of their service, impressed with their roadmap and mobile-ordering and express pickup integration and their overall POS capabilities,” said Lau.

Legends was consulted on the decision, and LAFC is confident that Appetize and Legends will work hand-in-hand to deliver the best customer experience to guests, he said.

“We want to push technology and innovation to deliver the best experience to our audience when they come to our stadium, combining our mobile first strategy with our technology infrastructure,” he said. “Appetize aligns our strategy and enables our plans for the future.”

All the Appetize POS systems will be in place by April 23 in anticipation of the April 29 opening day. 

 


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Rippetoe Nominated by IAVM
 
Posted: 17 Apr 2018, 4:00 pm

CliffRippletoe-200x145.jpgClifford "Rip" Rippetoe.

The International Association of Venue Managers has nominated Clifford “Rip” Rippetoe for second vice chair of the IAVM board of directors.

Rippetoe will serve a four-year term, taking on the chairman position in 2020-21. Rippetoe is president and CEO of the San Diego Convention Center Corp.

 


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OPENING NUMBER
 
Posted: 17 Apr 2018, 3:00 pm

$4.963 BILLION

Reported construction and development cost for the new Los Angeles Stadium and Entertainment District at Hollywood Park in Inglewood, Calif., which would make it the most expensive sports project ever built. Also planned for the 298-acre site are a 6,000-seat performing arts center, 890,000 square feet of retail, 780,000 square feet of office space, 300 hotel rooms, 2,500 new residential units and 25 acres of public parks and open space, plus a casino already on the site.

$2.6 BILLION
Estimated cost of the stadium component only, home to two NFL teams, the Rams and the Los Angeles Chargers and set to open in 2020. To include 70,240 open-air seats under a roof canopy, expandable to 100,000, in 3 million square feet.

$37,016/$867
Cost per seat and cost per square foot of the stadium.

$18,978/$702
Cost per seat and cost per square foot of Levi’s Stadium, home to the San Francisco 49ers. Open-air stadium built for $1.3 billion with 68,500 seats and 1.85 million square feet. Opened in 2014.

$22,535/$889
Cost per seat and cost per square foot of Mercedes-Benz Stadium, home of the Atlanta Falcons. Built for $1.6 billion with 71,000 seats, 1.8 million square feet and a retractable roof. Opened in 2017.


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KIM STONE, GENERAL MANAGER, AMERICANAIRLINES ARENA
 
Posted: 17 Apr 2018, 3:00 pm

Every day is different for Stone, who also has experience in Olympic and collegiate sports … and barbecue.

Where did you go to college? University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

What did you think you would do when you were a kid? I wanted to be an Olympic athlete, an executive and work in the NBA.

First job in the industry: I interned at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, in the USA Boxing division. My first paying job was as assistant sports information director at the University of Miami.

Biggest achievement: I hope to leave a legacy and help develop and grow new talent.
Favorite live event you’ve attended: When we won our first NBA championship in 2006.
Best advice you’ve ever received: Judge people by their actions, not their words.
Best day / worst day on the job: Same event, different years. We celebrated our 2006 championship with a parade. It did not go as planned and a near riot almost broke out when we made a left turn on the parade route and the crowd started breaking through gates. When we did it again in 2012, we focused on making sure we did everything right. Lesson learned.
What would people be surprised to learn about you? I am a certified BBQ judge in Kansas City style.


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MANAGEMENT
 
Posted: 17 Apr 2018, 3:00 pm

Aventus named Rob Edwards chief operating officer. Edwards has held positions with Eventim U.K., AudienceView Ticketing Corp. and Tickets.com.

L-Acoustics appointed Franck Fabry to regional sales manager. Fabry previously served the Canadian market for Bosch/Telex and Meyer Sound Laboratories.

Kenneth Hardiman was named senior executive chef of the new arena of the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks, the Wisconsin Entertainment and Sports Center, for Levy Restaurants. Hardiman was the executive chef of Milwaukee’s Mason Street Grill.

AEG Live Senior Vice President Ali Harnell has joined the global touring team for AEG Presents, while Mike DuCharme will serve as vice president for AEG’s Nashville regional office and Adam Weiser as vice president of the national theaters and clubs team. The changes follow the exit of Lenore Kinder to become an agent at Paradigm.

Ware Malcomb tapped Anita Makwana as director of corporate accounts in the firm’s Irvine, Calif.-based headquarters. Makwana joined Ware Malcomb in 2005.

Guidepost Solutions appointed Robert J. McDonough as vice president of sports and entertainment. McDonough most recently served as the director of security for the AMB Group LLC and the Arthur M. Blank Sports Entertainment Group LLC. Before that, McDonough was the first director of security in the United States for Bayer Corp. McDonough served as a special agent with the U.S. Secret Service for 24 years.

Kletra Newton was named chief operating officer of the San Mateo County (Calif.) Event Center. Newton joined the event center management team in 2014 and in 2016 was named director of event sales and services.

Nashville-based National Shows 2 added talent buyer Taki Pappas to its staff. Pappas started in the music business at Live Nation. After working more than 13 years with PACE Touring, Avalon Attractions, SFX Touring and Clear Channel Entertainment, Pappas most recently served as the director of programming, concerts and comedy at the Durham (N.C.) Performing Arts Center.

Madison Square Garden Co. named Victoria Parker executive vice president of  MSG Productions. Parker joins MSG after serving as the head of creative strategy for Verizon’s Oath Studios. Before Verizon, Parker spent 10 years at The Weinstein Co., where she served as vice president of corporate affairs and senior vice president of theatrical productions.

PASSINGS
Jerry Moses, 71, sports concessionaire and Major League Baseball player, March 26 in Haverhill, Mass. Moses played as a catcher in the majors 1965-75, primarily for the Boston Red Sox. In 1986, Moses and Chris Verros (now Centerplate’s president and CEO) launched Fanfare, a small foodservice company that grew to 15 accounts before it was sold to Fine Host Corp. seven years later. Aramark acquired Fine Host in 2002 for about $100 million.

MOVE OF THE MONTH
Western Specialty Contractors promoted Tom Brooks to chief operating officer. Brooks replaces Jim Rechtin Sr., who retired after 46 years of service. Brooks started with Western in 2012 as vice president of operations and business development, then was promoted to senior vice president of operations in 2016.


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SALAD PAIRS WITH MINT JULEPS ON DERBY DAY
 
Posted: 16 Apr 2018, 4:00 pm

Chef david danielson creates elegant and well-thought-out dishes at Churchill Downs, enticing the palates of the nearly 165,000 people who attend the Kentucky Derby in Louisville, Ky., each year. This year, the historic race takes place Saturday, May 5.

Danielson is super proud of the fresh produce he uses for all his salads, including his favorite salad that’s made with little gem lettuce, lemon cream sauce and fresh radishes.
He actually started an aquaponics farm 30 minutes from the venue where he grows 7,000 heads of little gem lettuce for his salads.

He gets aged Kentucky ham from Newsom’s Country Hams, which is famous for their “unbelievable” prosciutto ham, Danielson said.

Five sous chefs help Danielson run the kitchen, and all of them have a great amount of respect for their chef, said Executive Sous Chef Matt Sprague.

“Chef expects excellence when it comes to the food,” Sprague said. “Food is why everyone is here … and chef is always on the cutting edge of something new. He never stops learning.”
Sprague admires how Danielson runs the kitchen, as he’s always carrying literature with him whether it is a culinary magazine or a report on new kitchen equipment.

“Chef is almost like a scientist to me. We are never not learning,” he said.

Danielson recently penned a cookbook with his friend Tim Laird called “The Bourbon Country Cookbook,” published to coincide with this year’s Kentucky Derby.

If there’s one area that Sprague could pinpoint as Danielson’s biggest culinary talent, it would be creating salads.

Braised pork medallions, tomato peach salad with goat cheese, and sweet potato salad with pecans and apple crisp are only a few items that have appeared on the menu.
Churchill Downs opened in 1875. The historic venue has many traditions, and serving a stellar menu is one of them, Danielson said.

“The Derby is an all-day event and fashion and food and beverage really, really play into the overall guest experience of the event,” Danielson said. “There are 170,0000 people on Derby Day who walk around all day. To see all these people eating and drinking and being dressed up is an amazing experience.”

Levy Restaurants manages food at Churchill Downs, where Danielson has been the executive chef since 2013.

Over the years, he’s partnered with local food providers to ensure food items are as fresh as possible.

“One of the things that’s so exciting is that we change the menu every year. A lot of that menu revolves around partnerships with local farms,” he said.

“Chef always goes out with the salads. He’s always using the freshest ingredients. You’ll think a recipe is simple, and then he always puts a twist on it,” Sprague said. “I’m just glad he’s our executive chef here. I couldn’t ask for a better chef.”

Danielson’s first kitchen job was as a dishwasher at a French bakery in a suburb of Chicago, and he attended the Dumas Pere School of French Cooking.

“I watched these chefs make these amazing pastries. There was something about it that mesmerized me,” he said. “I kind of fell in love with the business and it caught on from there.”
He later worked at the hotel school Ecole Hotelier Tain  L’Hermitage in France, “honing his culinary skills at several Michelin-starred restaurants,” according to his bio.

When he returned to the United States, he became the executive chef at New York’s United Nations Plaza Hotel. He later worked at the Ritz Carlton and Charlie Trotter’s in Chicago.
Working at Churchill Downs was always on Danielson’s bucket list, he said.

“As somebody who’s done sporting events all over the world, the derby is truly very, very different than the Olympics or the Super Bowl or the PGA,” he said.


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TICKETING’S NEW TECH
 
Posted: 16 Apr 2018, 4:00 pm

The secondary ticketing market generated some $15 billion in global revenue last year, representing by some estimates 20 percent of the total live event market. It’s one of the major issues surrounding the lucrative concert tour/ticket market, as promoters and artists alike eye their share of the money generated by the likes of eBay’s StubHub, Ticketmaster’s TM+, Vivid Seats, ViaGoGo and Seat Geek.

This is where the buzz surrounding cryptocurrency and blockchain enters the picture. Les Borsai is a former record business exec, with stints at Goldenvoice and MCA Records and in personal management (he still reps Wynonna Judd), who got involved in the mobile, technology and gaming space over a decade ago, starting with an early iPhone game app developer, gridMob.  More recently, he’s a consultant for several players in the music/gaming/cryptocurrency space, including Ripple’s XRP, the third largest cryptocurrency behind the original bitcoin and current dominant player Ethereum’s Ether.

“Think of it as ‘the Internet of money,’” explains Borsai, with bitcoin the very first adopted protocol. Blockchain is simply the accounting ledger that keeps permanent track of all the verified transactions that have taken place, which are subject to a consensus of individual, decentralized “miners,” a majority of whom must verify each one on a case-by-case basis. 
Borsai first invested in Ethereum at the initial public sale in 2014, where he paid 30 cents a unit. Those units sell for anywhere from $800 to $1,000 apiece now;  It’s no wonder the millennial at the table next to us, his ears perked at the sound of our cryptocurrency discussion, asks Les whether he should sell or hold on to his own investments.

So far, bitcoin and blockchain have amounted to peripheral marketing gimmicks for the music industry. Last year, Bjork offered 100 AudioCoins in cryptocurrency for all those who preordered her latest album, Biophilia – adding she’d also accept bitcoins in exchange.  YouNow, a YouTube style video streaming service, recently launched its own Etherium-based cryptocurrency for Rize, the latest iteration of its app, where more than 40 million users show their appreciation for individual broadcasters with a digital tip jar that inspired the new initiative.

One of the most logical uses of blockchain, though, is in the live event ticketing sector, as a way to control and harness the secondary market. That can be done by simply programming into the blockchain code the revenue splits or rules for each transaction, or how money is to be divvied up when a ticket changes hands.  Several significant Silicon Valley startups are already devoted to this very concept.

“This technology makes it more difficult to pass a ticket along and allows you to price it a lot more dynamically,” said Rich Holtzman, a longtime artist manager (Portugal. The Man), who has spent the last two years working as a consultant for StubHub, learning the secondary ticketing business. “It’s no wonder I just got a call from a guy who does blockchain.”
Ticketmaster recently introduced Ticketmaster Presence, a proprietary digital system that company President Jared Smith insists has many of the same attributes as blockchain, with the ability to function in real time. The technology is already in place at several NBA and NHL arenas, and the NFL plans to adopt it for the coming season.
“Tickets, in their current form, are both anonymous and transferable,” Smith said. “Our system, much like blockchain, can identify individual transactions and even program rules for that chain of custody.”

Ticketfly co-founder Dan Teree, who sold the company to Pandora in 2015 for an announced $450 million (before it was flipped again to Eventbrite last year for less than half that), now heads his own tech company, Stealth. He recently joined forces with Naveen Jain, who worked on Linkin Park’s website, where he frequently offered ticket presales, to help integrate blockchain into his company. Their new startup, dubbed TARI, is currently in stealth mode.
“Blockchain technology and ticketing are on an inevitable collision course,” Teree said.
Twenty-year music industry vet Jain, who studied computer engineering at Purdue and then began to work building websites, has expanded into running online fan clubs and ticket presales for artists including Bon Jovi, Tim McGraw, Jason Aldean, Carrie Underwood and the Lumineers.  He more recently created RedBox Tickets, offering last-minute unsold concert ticket inventory at the ubiquitous DVD kiosks, which is how he first met Teree.

Like cryptocurrencies, tickets are priced according to supply and demand, but, as Jain pointed out, “There are a great many interesting things you can do when it comes to blockchain and ticketing that grant artists and promoters more control over their assets than they’ve ever had before.”

The idea is to turn the tickets into digital tokens, assets on a blockchain, which allows promoters and artists the ability to code specific rules as to how they’re to be used, up to and including sharing the sale money from the secondary market and beyond in a pre-determined, equitable manner.  Said Jain, “Every time the ticket is resold, a percentage of that income can be directed back to the original owners — the artists, the promoters, the venue. … This is groundbreaking for our industry.”

“Every live ticketing system that has a potential for any secondary trading aftermarket will be on blockchain technology five to seven years from now,” predicted Teree.
Technology veteran Kavon Soltani is also developing what he calls “a ticketing platform that awards ethical behavior and no longer takes advantage of the consumer … without being too cumbersome to users.”

“Putting your inventory on blockchain would eliminate some of the most heinous practices of the secondary market,” he said.

In time, Soltani anticipates concert  ticketing creating its own ecosystem, and maybe even a dedicated currency. “It’s a natural evolution of the industry. Blockchain isn’t the holy grail; it’s a piece of technology that allows us to realign how these tickets are sold in a way that benefits everybody. But we’re still looking at a bit of a runway before it truly takes off.”
Taylor Swift’s controversial Verified Ticketing plan, in which she offered rewards for certain consumer behavior that allowed greater access to concert tickets, is a glimpse into the future, one in which a cryptocurrency – say Swift Notes – becomes the artist’s own monetary system, a closed garden where fans get an actual stake in their idols’ financial success.  Putting tickets on sale in the future could resemble a stock market initial public offering, allowing the consumers, rather than the rapacious secondary market, to determine the opening price.
“The Ticketmasters, Eventbrites and Live Nations are going to love this technology, and will incorporate it into their own offerings,” insisted Soltani. “This could threaten to make the StubHubs of the world obsolete.”

San Francisco-based Carla Riggi, an indie musician herself, is preparing to launch a new app, BandDjinni, later this summer, with an eye toward bringing independent artists, local club promoters and fans closer together, using a “blockchain-based infrastructure to empower its economy.”

Taking a cue from Taylor Swift’s fan engagement efforts, Riggi is more keen on “building relationships” than a commerce site, with a view toward allowing artists to connect with those five or 10 superfans who show up at their shows in each city. “That’s how you build recognition and long-term attachment,” she said, citing an eventual emotional commitment that will then turn into an economic one.

“I feel the gap between the major label acts and the indies has widened,” Riggi said. “There are so many overlooked opportunities in the indie space. Musicians need a leg up. They need to be empowered to take control over their careers and economics.

“The thing about Blockchain is it provides an infrastructure that offers decentralization, transparency and accountability.”

Borsai, a veteran of both concert promotion and artist management, still doesn’t believe that cryptocurrency and blockchain technology will usher in any new big players in the ticketing area … at least not in the foreseeable future.

“There are longstanding relationships in place that supersede new technology,” he said. “It’s a difficult field to break into because Live Nation and AEG have all this pre-existing experience with promoters and other ticketing companies.  The big guys may well adopt the technology, but it will be difficult to supplant the entities already entrenched in that space.”


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LETTER FROM MAUREEN ANDERSEN, President and CEO, International Ticketing Association
 
Posted: 16 Apr 2018, 4:00 pm

I was recently at the Ticketing Professionals Conference in Birmingham, England, and sat on an international industry leadership and entertainment ticketing trends panel called “My Two Cents.”  One of the moderated questions was about “the death of …” Fill in the blank. The death of the ticket, the death of the theater, the death of the subscriber, the death of the ticket office. The theater has been dying for a millennium; the ticket is no longer needed because we have mobile wallets; there are no subscriber or package markets anymore because no one buys them; we don’t need ticket offices as we have the internet and automated kiosks. Really? These statements, statements of absolutes, kind of make you want to laugh a bit or at best to guffaw out loud at the real absurdity of it all.  Sweeping black-and-white pronouncements, while provocative, are usually bandied about by those who want to argue that what ever they are “selling” is somehow elevated by the magnitude of the “death” of something else. As if there is not room in the world for a ticket, a barcode and a mobile wallet to all co-exist peacefully and in service to our customers, fans and patrons. The point is, that we do, or should, provide choice for the fan and the customer to have the experience that they want in the way they want it and communicated in the manner of their choosing.

All this leads me to another absolute that has been bandied about for years as a definition or description to define the ticket or box office. “Oh, it’s JUST the box office.” “You work where?  Oh, JUST the box office.” By that mere statement, by the implication of the word “just,” the entire role and this vital and integral industry world has been diminished and defined as “only,” “merely,” “nothing but” or “no more than.”  Just the box office?  Just?  Really?  This collection of overachievers, type A, aggressive, organized, smart, funny, didactic, nimble, complex, talented, educated professionals are so not “just” anything. It has been clearly demonstrated that most entertainment ticketing professionals certainly didn’t primarily choose this career. However, once we we’re in it, we were converted, and we stayed! The very nature of this work and the attraction is the challenge, the complexity, the taming of the chaos for us big-brained folks. It takes brains, courage, heart and a few wizards, witches and flying monkeys to tame this job.  Think about it for a minute. This tribe of professionals are magicians who with a wave of their wands turn into publicists, marketers, promoters, accountants, business owners, lawyers, psychiatrists, writers, technologists and purveyors of hospitality that ignite success.  OK, so if we are going to be “just” something, let’s change the meaning to be the adverb definition and own it!  We are the profession that is “precisely,” “absolutely,” “completely,” “perfectly” or, in the just and right definition of “honorable,” “decent,” “virtuous.”  To my colleagues, the next time someone asks what you do, put these words into your elevator speech ... “I’m a magician! I’m the magic behind the button.”  That should about do it, don’t you think?

INTIX is owning our magic.  We are the oldest entertainment ticketing organization and we’ll turn 40 in 2019 with a Texas-sized celebration, y’all.  Our tribe of professionals has a big voice and we want to share it.  For your ticket to industry intelligence, including leadership, technology, revenue, management, and marketing news and content, check out our fresh content hub, Access, at https://access.intix.org.  Consume it and share it with your colleagues freely!  After all, we are at your service!


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FLYOVER NO MORE
 
Posted: 16 Apr 2018, 4:00 pm

The flyover states were anything but a route between coasts for the live touring business in 2017, with big acts taking to ground in record numbers. Attendance was up, revenue was up, the number of events at venues was up and many are upgrading, with concessions and technology leading the way. Operators of facilities on our Top Stops chart agreed that business is on the uptick in the region and that 2018 shows no signs of slowing down.

BOK Center in Tulsa, Okla., has begun celebrating its 10th anniversary this year in high style, putting on a Ten for Ten Concert Series featuring heavy hitters Blake Shelton, Pink, George Strait, U2, The Eagles, Elton John, Bruno Mars, Imagine Dragons, Metallica, and Justin Timberlake.

That’s a blockbuster way to build on a big 2017. “It was a good year, and it’s a fantastic market for selling tickets,” said Casey Sparks, BOK Center assistant general manager. “Our bookings were 100 percent strong. It was a great year for live touring. Red Hot Chili Peppers sold out, Twenty One Pilots sold out. Tim (McGraw) and Faith (Hill) filmed their Showtime special here.”

On the sports side, BOK Center hosted NCAA men’s basketball tournament first- and second-round games.

Tickets range from $99 to $150 with VIP packages running up to $1,500.
A $5 million investment in new technology will go mainly upgrades to the Wi-Fi. “Paperless ticketing is coming, and we need to be sure we are ready,” she said.

“People also want to share their experiences on Instagram and (Snapchat), and the tech upgrade will allow all that to happen without interruption.”

Eight new digital boards are being installed. New signage and a huge new outdoor marquee are also part of the renovations.

An overhaul is also coming to BOK Center’s premium clubs.  “We’re adding in four new premium suites,” Sparks said. “We’re sold out of our current inventory.”

New point-of-sale systems from Appetize were introduced; F&B is provided by Savor. “We’re also buying a food truck to put out on the plaza prior to the shows for an outdoor event,” she said. The truck will cost about $60,000.

Quarterly meetings with local law enforcement, state officials and the FBI make sure that everyone is on the same page regarding security. “Communication is the key,” Sparks said. “Sometimes it takes an outsider to sense where we may be vulnerable and to address and fix that.” Sparks said one idea they are actively pursuing is facial recognition.

“Spending money to make money is how we look at things here,” she said. “We’re really big on putting things in place to keep the fans happy.”

“It was one of our best years ever,” said Jack Larson, vice president and general manager of Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn. “It was a record-breaking year; we were up in revenue; we saw 2.2 million guests. We hosted 45 concerts, which is a big number for us. We also hosted the WNBA’s champions, the Minnesota Lynx, because Target Center was closed for remodeling.” Attendance for the games ranged from 8,000 to 10,000.

Chris Stapleton, Bruno Mars, Ed Sheeran, Neil Diamond and Lady Gaga were among the hot shows, and Larsen said multiple shows were a hot trend. Tickets range from $35 to $250 with VIP packages running higher.

Concessions are provided by Levy, which introduced new menu items “mostly inspired by local flavor.”

Over the past two years new seats have gone in, new video boards have gone up and Xcel Energy Center is looking at enhancing the premium areas by adding all-inclusive options. Gate sponsorships are also up.

The venue was part of the Twin Cities’ Super Bowl LII experience. “We did the media day here and we hosted Dave Matthews the night before the game,” Larsen said.
A yearly high school hockey tournament continued to be a success at the facility. “We saw over 100,000 people come through the door, which is almost unheard of for that kind of event,” Larsen said.

Adam Schneider, senior vice president of entertainment for 313 Presents, said DTE Energy Music Theatre in Clarkston, Mich., “did great last year” and “we were fortunate to have a partner in Live Nation.”

The 313 Presents joint venture between Olympia Entertainment and Palace Sports & Entertainment programs the amphitheater, taking over from Powell Entertainment in September, and also programs Detroit-area venues Little Caesars Arena, Fox Theatre, Comerica Park, Meadow Brook Amphitheatre and Michigan Lottery Amphitheatre at Freedom Hill.
Perennial shows, such as the Dave Matthews Band, classic rock, hip-hop, country, and multi-act shows brought in the crowds, with “quality over quantity” being the mandate. Ticket prices “have been going up due to higher production values” and range from $10 for a lawn event to $375. “We do a $20 all-in promotion, including service fees, every year to build new fans to come out to a show,” Schneider said.

The venue put on more than 45 shows last year, and Schneider said revenue was up “around 20 percent last year.”

F&B is provided by Levy. “We’re very big on mobile vending,” said Schneider. “We want to get the F&B to the customers as quickly as possible so they can get back to the show, so we set up a lot of mini-stations scattered throughout the venue.”

“It’s a good time to be in the live business,” he said. “The live experience is irreplaceable and it’s enhanced by social media. We love it when people post during shows and share their experience.”

Erika Newton, general manager of the Tyson Events Center and Orpheum Theatre in Sioux City, Iowa, said “it was a good year but a transition year” and was thrilled with the venues’ management switch to Spectra after 14 years of managing the venue in-house. Spectra has also taken over foodservice from Centerplate at both venues.

“We’re excited about the opportunity Spectra brings us to use their national resources to help get content and create long-term partnerships,” Newton said.

Hot shows included Brantley Gilbert and Toby Keith at the Tyson Events Center and the Broadway series at the Orpheum Theatre. TRG Arts, based in Colorado Springs, is the consultant on the Broadway shows. “They’ve been really helpful in getting the subscriber base up,” Newton said. Ticket range was $25-$150.

Another highlight at the Orpheum was an AEG-produced Lumineers show, a fundraiser in support of the Dakota Access Pipeline protesters. “To get the Lumineers to play the Orpheum, with only 2,500 seats, was a big deal,” Newton said.

The City Council has allocated $55 million for capital improvements at both venues in the coming year. “We are completely gutting and remodeling our concourse, concession area and food stands at Tyson Events Center,” she said. “A big focus of Spectra’s F&B plans is to bring in local tastes to the arena. We’re looking for a pizza partner, a Mexican restaurant partner, and Sioux City is the home of Jolly Time Popcorn, Palmer Candy and Wells Dairy, which makes novelty ice cream products, and we’re working to bring all of them into the venue.”
A new permanent merchandise store is being built and new lighting is being added. VIP upgrades are also on the agenda, along with a new scoreboard and an LED ribbon board. The front of the building, and the outdoor spaces, is also getting a makeover. “We’re 14 years old and need a major refresh,” Newton said.

All safety protocols have been revaluated and the city just bought 18 new magnetometers, at a cost of $100,000, to be spread between both venues.

“We’re looking really good on bookings for 2018,” Newton said. “We’re focusing on bringing in at least one major show a month to Tyson Events Center and we’ve been discussing ways to get attendance up for our tenant teams,” the Sioux City Bandits of Champions Indoor Football and the United States Hockey League’s Sioux City Musketeers.

“At the theater, we’re going to up our partnership with Sioux City Symphony,” she said.
Patrick Talty, general manager of  U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, said things at the year-and-a-half-old building are “going great.” The venue hosted Super Bowl LII in February and hasn’t slowed down since. “Eight days after the Super Bowl we had the Home Show,” he said. “Life moves on quickly.”

The venue hosted the X Games last year and will host the event again this summer. “We’re the first NFL stadium to get the X Games,” he said.

Kenny Chesney, Taylor Swift, Ed Sheeran and the men’s Final Four are all coming up.
“We saw a huge amount of corporate events, weddings, and other events last year,” he said. “The building is well designed to accommodate all types of events.”

Operationally, the venue received LEED Gold status after a zero-waste program was put in place.

“Bling and wow” is how Brenda Tinnen, an AEG senior vice president and the general manager of Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo., described the building’s 10-year anniversary. “We celebrated all year and it turned out to be the best year we’ve ever had, economically, attendance-wise, performance-wise.”

The anniversary programming started in January with the U.S. Figure Skating Championships, the first time Sprint Center has hosted the event, and ended with a Kid Rock show on New Year’s Eve. Seven Garth Brooks shows, Roger Waters, Eric Church and One Republic were sandwiched in between. Brooks played the venue in its first year. “Having him back was the perfect way to circle back from when we opened,” said Tinnen. Average ticket price was $107.
Tinnen said that “paying attention to the artist and making them feel special” is one way she ensures that top artists play her building. “There’s no building without content and we do whatever we have to do to make the acts that come here remember our facility and want to return.”

Last year Sprint Center hosted the NCAA women’s volleyball championship, which Tinnen said was sold out before any of the teams were seeded. “That was a home run,” she said.
Capital improvements included new Wi-Fi, a refresh of the premium seating, all new carpet and paint for the Founders Club, a new scoreboard, updated security systems, new phone systems, new hot water tanks, new LED lights, and new televisions.

The budget for the upgrades was $8 million. “Some came from the city and some came from AEG,” Tinnen said.

Another improvement, digital menu boards, were a great revenue generator.
“They make life easier and provided profit,” she said. Changing the CO2 tank system to a three-tank setup was another revenue booster. “The beer poured out faster, there was less waste, and we served more people,” she said.

Levy is concessionaire at the facility. “We refresh our menu every year, and this year craft beer is the hot item. We brought in a hometown company, Boulevard Brewery, and it’s outdoing everything.”

Vegetable and nontraditional meat items are new to the menu and doing well with health-conscious guests. “We try to have something for everyone,” she said. “We have a turkey burger that’s amazing.” The venue also has a carvery and a 400-pound smoker for the meat lovers in the crowd. Chopper Chicken, from founding partner Price Chopper, has “every kind of chicken imaginable.”

Coming this month will be a new Coca-Cola stand. “It will have frozen Jack and Cokes, as well as all sorts of other Coca-Cola products from a freestyle machine,” said Tinnen.

‘BOLD NORTH’ SUPER BOWL LII BEATS COLD
Hosting the Super Bowl takes intense planning, flexibility and nerves of steel. 
Super Bowl LII, which U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis hosted in February, went off without a hitch, which is remarkable for a building that opened a mere 18 months earlier.
“It was a beautiful sunny day, a little cold, but we moved the crowds in well, the building showed well, it was a great game and a great halftime show,” said General Manager Patrick Talty. “It was a huge win for the stadium, Minnesota and Minneapolis.”
“We like to say operationally it was a pretty boring game day,” Talty said. “We planned for everything, executed well, and by the time the actual game started we had already done most of the work.”

Planning started “the day we arrived.” Staff worked with the NFL all year long.
“We had five or six meetings per month,” he said. “We spent a lot of time figuring out how to pile everything in and sequence it.”

Complicating things, the Minnesota Vikings, who play at the stadium, made the playoffs. “We had a playoff game in January, which cut down on our prep time,” said Talty. “Instead of a month, we had two weeks.”

When the NFL arrived, “they knew exactly what we needed to do because by that point they had crawled through the bowels of the building,” recalled Talty.

Assigning a staff member to everyone who comes in the building is a tip Talty wanted to give future Super Bowl hosts. “It was a really effective way to manage the contractors and other entities that came to the building,” he said. Another piece of advice: “Communication between the staff and with the NFL is the key.”

There were firsts that day. “We had 5,800 credentialed media, which is a record, and the largest Wi-Fi usage ever,” said Talty. “We went through 16.3 terabytes of data and at one point had 40,000 unique users in the stadium on it. We had a zero-waste Super Bowl and diverted 91 percent of the waste from the landfill by recycling and other measures.”

If Talty had to change anything he would send the cleaning manager to the previous Super Bowl. “It’s such a different and unique F&B story than a normal game,” he said. “The amount of time people spend in the building and how much they consumed surprised us. Living it a year before would have worked out well.”

Talty said it was “a 20-hour day” and nerve-racking but entirely worth it. “We’d host one every other year if they’d let us,” he said. “It went by really fast. In the blink of an eye it was over.”
— Brad Weissberg


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BIG NAMES MOVE IN ON LOWER BROADWAY
 
Posted: 16 Apr 2018, 4:00 pm

On an unusually balmy February afternoon on downtown Nashville’s main drag, Lower Broadway, tourists milled about restaurants, gift shops, and honky-tonk bars, the dozen or so spots with free entry and world-class musicians playing cover songs for tips.
This is the calm before the storm, a time for families to browse and listen to music before the neon signs turn Nashville into Nashvegas. Most joints were doing modest business, except for three new ones – they were killing it.

Lower Broadway is becoming Country Star Row. In the last year, three businesses bearing the names of country stars – Alan Jackson, Dierks Bentley and Florida Georgia Line – have opened locations on or near a stretch of three city blocks, from Broadway and Second to Broadway and Fifth; two more star-signed businesses are on their way.

Household names even beyond the country music world, these artists have helped create a new breed of entertainment property that updates the traditional country bar experience. Ultimately, these artists and their hospitality business partners are betting they can capitalize on a red-hot market with a reputation as one of America’s most entertaining square miles. 

On the corner of Broadway and Fourth Avenue, Dierks Bentley’s Whiskey Row, a partnership of Bentley and Arizona-based Riot Hospitality Group, typifies the country-star honky-tonk: a spacious, multifloor building with updated Southern food. While it’s a country music establishment, Whiskey Row sounds country but feels rock ’n’ roll. The decor, a flashy update on reclaimed wood and exposed-brick walls with eye-popping art installations, is warm and exciting. Stacked on one another are a performance space, a bar-restaurant hybrid, and a bar for sports fans with an open-air patio overlooking Broadway. “We wanted to capture his audience and the youth and energy of it,” said Mike Troyan, president of Riot Hospitality.

Introduced through mutual friends, Riot Hospitality and Bentley already have three locations around Bentley’s hometown of Tempe, Ariz. Riot Hospitality is leasing the 13,200-square-foot property, that was bought by an investment group for $7.5 million in January. Bentley was “heavily involved” in Whiskey Row’s development, according to Troyan, and received a mix of equity and licensing fees.

Alan Jackson’s modestly named AJ’s Good Time Bar, tall and slender like its namesake, sits across the street from Whiskey Row. Jackson bought the 6,000-square-foot property, along with two businesses that were housed in the building, for $5.75 million in 2016.

AJ’s has three floors plus a rooftop bar. While music is central to other artist-branded businesses, AJ’s Good Time Bar is modern but a traditional honky-tonk; the emphasis is on music, dancing and drinking domestic beers. “I always wanted to own a honky-tonk that plays real country music on Broadway that I could put my name on,” Jackson told The Tennessean.
He is also a partner in Acme Feed & Seed, a restaurant-bar housed in a 128-year-old building on the corner of Broadway and First Avenue. A self-described “funkytonk,” Acme has given each of its three levels a unique theme. Above is a rooftop bar with views of the Cumberland River and the downtown Skyline. Acme was ranked 31st on Restaurant Business’ list of top-grossing independent restaurants in the U.S. in 2017, having grossed $18 million and served 611,000 meals, seventh most of the top 100.

One block away from Whiskey Row is the future home of Ole Red, country star Blake Shelton’s coming entry into the downtown Nashville fray. Set to launch in April, Ole Red partners Shelton with Ryman Hospitality, a multifaceted cornerstone of country music. Ryman owns the Grand Ole Opry, the Ryman Auditorium, and WSM, the AM radio home of the Opry since 1925.
The first Ole Red opened last year in Shelton’s hometown of Tishomingo, Okla. For the Nashville Ole Red, Ryman Hospitality is spending $20 million to renovate the 26,000-square-foot building into a combination bar-restaurant-performance space, according to chairman and chief executive Colin V. Reed. Ryman bought the property, the former Broadway National Bank, for an undisclosed price. “We haven’t made it public, but it was not cheap,” said Reed.
A few hundred feet south of Ole Red is FGL House, a fun, raucous joint that plays well to young country fans. Brian Kelley and Tyler Hubbard of Florida Georgia Line created the 22,00-square-foot FGL House with TC Restaurant Group, an Ohio-based company with a handful of businesses on or near Lower Broadway. The four-floor space is like being inside a Florida Georgia Line song: seven bars, two stages, a rooftop bar named after the band’s hit “Cruise,” FGL memorabilia hanging on the walls, and a cocktail menu with drinks named after other hit songs.

The future location of John Rich’s Redneck Riviera is a few doors down from Whiskey Row. Rich, one half of the duo Big and Rich, opened a Redneck Riviera Las Vegas in January 2017. The Nashville location, to be operated by More American Hospitality, is coming this spring. Rich is having fun with the redneck stereotype. The decor integrates beer cans and weathered aluminum siding. Urinals are cut-out beer kegs. The menu centers on barbecue, jerky and nacho cheese sauce.

Downtown Nashville wasn’t always a major tourist draw, but the opening of Bridgestone Arena in 1996 on the corner of Broadway and Fifth helped turn things around. The 17,000-plus-seat arena, home of the NHL’s Nashville Predators, brought locals downtown and made Lower Broadway a more attractive destination. While in a small market, Bridgestone Arena has become one of the most successful arenas in the country.

Live Nation books shows at Bridgestone as well as two other downtown venues: the 3-year-old, 6,800-capacity Ascend Amphitheater, which it operates for the city; and the 9,432-capacity Nashville Municipal Auditorium.

Conventions are a big part of tourism. A $623 million convention center opened in May 2013 next to the Bridgestone Arena and Country Music Hall of Fame.


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SOCAL COOL
 
Posted: 16 Apr 2018, 3:00 pm

Larry Berg calls himself a soccer junkie. It makes sense, considering he owns three teams.
With financial stakes in both Serie A’s AS Roma and the Premier League’s Swansea City, Berg has seen some of the best soccer venues worldwide. Now that he has become lead managing owner of the Los Angeles Football Club, Major League Soccer’s newest member, Berg will stack Banc of California Stadium against any international facility.

LAFC’s $350-million facility opens April 29 at Exposition Park, just southwest of downtown and home to the historic Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. That venue is undergoing a $270 million renovation for University of Southern California football, and together the two developments bring a dramatic change to the city’s sports landscape.

On its own, Banc of California Stadium stands out as North America’s most expensive soccer-specific venue. Over the past three years, the overall project cost escalated by $100 million after LAFC officials upgraded the design and added a 70,000-square-foot food hall next to the stadium that will be open year-round to all Exposition Park visitors.
It’s all good, according to Berg.

“We built the nicest soccer-specific stadium in the country and there’s very few places you can probably do that,” he said. “L.A. is one of them, given the size of the market, the diverse population and the support of the sponsors. It has all those things going into it.”
Location was key, and LAFC officials researched a half-dozen sites before deciding on Exposition Park. Most were in remote areas, and the team strongly considered building the stadium in Orange County,  before landing much nearer downtown L.A., which is a hot market and the place to be for young professionals, Berg said.

“The allure of being ‘of the city’ and be authentically L.A.’s team was too good to pass up,” said Tom Penn, LAFC’s president and an owner. 

L.A.’s other MLS team, the Galaxy, has been around since the league’s launch in 1996, playing first at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena before moving south to StubHub Center in Carson. “We felt like we could offer something new and fresh with our location adjacent to downtown,” Penn said. “It was just a different offering.”

It didn’t come easy. The decision to build on the site of the old Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena came with the challenge of negotiating with multiple property owners among the city, county and state. To its credit, though, LAFC ownership remained committed to the site it thought made the most sense, said Ron Turner, Gensler’s sports practice leader.

“I know [MLS Commissioner] Don Garber and other [league officials] that have been here have said that so many MLS stadiums are in the suburbs … and this is the new model for the league needing to come back and be in critical places in the city where they belong,” he said.
The stadium is within five miles of L.A.’s main business district, a short drive after work for corporate clients, which project officials say was a key factor for selling every piece of initial premium inventory one year before the first home match: 32 suites, 80 loge boxes and 1,975 club seats. (Late in stadium development, LAFC added 34 loge boxes in the north end, one level above the supporters’ section, and had fewer than 10 left to sell as of mid-March.)

“The proximity to downtown was critical in the ability to sell premium,” said Jon Emmett, principal and design director with Gensler Sports, the stadium’s architect, whose L.A. office sits on the same street four miles north of the venue. “A location further from downtown may have been more difficult. To drive two miles down Figueroa Street is an easy sell.”

Legends Global Sales, which hired Corey Breton and Jamie Guin to head the team’s sales department, consulted on the mix of premium, which included sister firm CSL International’s market research early in the project.

The clubs tied to those high-end seats are some of the nicest in the market, which hasn’t seen a new open-air stadium built in the city limits since Dodger Stadium opened in 1962.

The Sunset Deck, for example, an outdoor lounge at the top of the stadium on the northwest side, is tied to suites priced at $75,000 and $85,000 a year. Designed with a water feature and couch furniture, the deck overlooks the Coliseum’s iconic peristyle and the Hollywood Hills.
“There’s a throwback Palm Springs feel to it, a backyard party,” Penn said. “It’s perfect for California.”

Banc of California Stadium showcases MLS’s first bunker suites, which the team calls Field Level Suites and are modeled in part after Staples Center’s courtside seats. For LAFC games, patrons in the 10 bunkers sit with their feet on the pitch. Behind those front-row seats lies a private hallway to their hospitality spaces tucked under the stands.

The 10 bunker suites, distributed equally behind both the north and south goals, cost $120,000 a year. Terms are seven and 10 years, and the suites are all-inclusive, covering the cost of beer and wine.

“From the purest futbol fan perspective, is it the best view?” Emmett asked. “No. But it’s all about that up-close experience to the action.”

It’s been a trend across sports for years. The sidelines at Banc of California Stadium are a scant 11 feet from the first row of seats along the sidelines and the end lines. Gensler designed the facility as steep as possible for an intimate feel, Penn said.

“The American consumer loves being close to the action, down on the field,” Penn said. “[The bunkers] were our most sought-after product.”

Bunker patrons have access to the Field Level Club, a 12,000-square-foot lounge on the stadium’s west side, where players from both teams pass through to get to the field.
In Los Angeles, the Directors Lounge, a smaller club within the Field Level Club, is reserved for LAFC’s 30 owners, including Magic Johnson, Nomar and Mia Hamm Garciaparra, Will Ferrell and motivational speaker Tony Robbins. Their seats are among the 10 loge boxes at center pitch on the west side.

For the most part, the expansive ownership group was “very particular” about not being separated from the rest of the crowd in the seating bowl, said Breton, LAFC’s executive vice president of sales, and a former executive with the Minnesota Timberwolves and Atlanta Hawks.

“The whole premise is to unite the world’s city to the world’s game, and to bring this to fruition, they want to be connected to our fans,” Breton said.

As much as premium is a signature element, LAFC relied on the team’s die-hard fans holding the least expensive tickets at $20 a game as a guiding force in stadium design. Those 3,000-plus fans make up the team’s supporter groups, and they were influential for developing the safe standing zone in the stadium’s north end.

Safe standing areas for supporters groups originated in Europe after the Hillsborough Stadium disaster of 1989 in England killed 96 people and prompted a move to all-seat stadiums. MLS stadiums in San Jose and Orlando have safe standing, but it was not part of Banc of California Stadium’s original design, Berg said. The zone was added after Gensler architects met with dozens of supporters on several Saturday afternoons to discuss preferences for their section.
The zone has folding seats that can be used for concerts and other events. For LAFC matches, they’re locked into place.

Overall, the supporters —  five smaller groups that collectively make up The 3252, a name that reflects the stadium’s total number of safe-standing spaces —  felt it would help generate greater energy in the stadium, Berg said.

“It was almost like ‘The Godfather’ with the heads of the five families saying, ‘We really want safe standing,’” he said. “The main point is they’ve been involved from the beginning. They’ve been vocal, given their opinions and it’s been interactive. It created a terrific bond with our first fans, and hopefully it will expand to the rest of the stadium.”

At the top of the supporters section sits the Heineken House, a 70-foot-long outdoor bar. It’s another example of how the group influenced design, which in this case included direct conversations with the beer brand, Berg said.

Heineken is among the team’s founding partners. Toyota sponsors the northwest gate and stadium naming-rights holder Banc of California has a branch inside that entrance. Bank customers, which include local vendors that do business at Exposition Park, can park and walk in the branch, which is open on non-game days, Penn said.

The swoopy roof canopy, another signature feature, provides shade to 75 percent of the stadium’s 22,000 seats. After completing extensive sun studies, Gensler was able to pull the canopy back from the front row on the south and west sides and still maintain shade to all seats in those areas, Turner said. The roof design also allows for more sun on the pitch for maximum turf growth, he said.

It’s the sun that defines SoCal, and for LAFC, all that goes with the temperate climate helps define the culture of its new stadium. The team reached its cap of 17,500 season tickets sold, with the balance of seats reserved for single-game and group sales.

“It will attract every demographic in L.A. and it will be a venue the city can be proud of,” said LAFC co-managing owner Bennett Rosenthal.

BANC OF CALIFORNIA STADIUM
City: Los Angeles
Tenant: Major League Soccer’s Los Angeles Football Club
Cost: $350 million
Architect: Gensler Sports
General contractor: PCL Construction
Structural engineer: Thornton Tomasetti
Owner’s representative: Legends Global Planning
Food service: Legends Hospitality
Team store: Fanatics
Seats: 22,000
Premium seats: 32 suites, $65,000 to $120,000 annually, seven and 10-year terms; 114 loge boxes, $16,000 to $42,000 annually; 1,975 club seats, $2,000 to $4,000 annually.
Naming rights: Banc of California, $100 million over 15 years
Founding partners: Delta/Aeromexico, Toyota, Heineken, Kaiser Permanente, YouTube
Source: LAFC, VenuesNow research


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SCOUTING TRIPS HELP TAKE MADNESS OUT OF FINAL FOUR
 
Posted: 16 Apr 2018, 3:00 pm

While most eyes were focusing on the basketball inside San Antonio’s Alamodome during the NCAA Final Four recently, a few folks in the venue were worrying more about future games.
Because major events are awarded well in advance, building managers spend years prepping to host, taking in events across multiple venues as a way to learn best practices for when their time comes. It is no different for Patrick Talty, general manager of U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, host of the next year’s Final Four, and Scott Jenkins, general manager of Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, the 2020 host.

“Fortunately, we have seen (the Final Four) in a few places already, so we know what to expect,” Jenkins said. “I think now that we are two years away, we are getting into the weeds of what it is like to convert the stadium into a basketball arena.”

Talty worked Final Fours at the RCA Dome in Indianapolis in 1997 and 2000, but he has attended the last three Final Fours to see how the event has evolved and grown. “We went to see how the game had changed and all the added elements,” he said. Two years ago at NRG Stadium in Houston, Talty specifically scoped out the setup with the court centered in the football stadium, which he had not seen in person before.

Now one year away from hosting, Talty has embedded some of his events staff into the San Antonio event, working with the NCAA on everything from crowd flow and how to handle student seating to how to clean the building between games and how much fans eat and drink. “All those things we are going and watching, and our team will see and it will help us prepare ourselves,” he said. What they saw in San Antonio, he said, will translate to what they will do in Minneapolis.

Every year they learn a little more about the process, but the U.S. Bank Stadium staff still wanted more information on how buildings handled student ticket distribution and team locker room access. They’ll also watched food and beverage closely. “How much are they eating, when do they go to the lines, what are the lines like?” he asked. “We need to prepare and manage.”
Talty knows his venue will have some differences from San Antonio, Houston and Phoenix. The temporary seating needs a custom configuration because no two seating bowls are the same. Jenkins and his crew — he also had five staff members embedded in San Antonio — paid special attention to the seating area in San Antonio, too. They’ll do a partial installation in Atlanta in June to ensure their plan works.

“We are going to reconfigure the lower seating bowl to bring the seating up to the edge of the basketball court,” Jenkins said. “It is a geometry issue to solve. Every stadium is a little different, and getting a chance to do a portion of it will be a nice box to check to understand what it will be like.”

Jenkins said San Antonio gave his team a chance to look at how to handle practices, team movements through the building, media accommodations, band movements and student sections. He also wanted to learn how the city dealt with all the extra events that surround the basketball.

Technology offers another learning curve. With a building that opened in 2016, Talty said, the technological infrastructure of U.S. Bank Stadium should easily handle the load of a Final Four — they did, after all, successfully pull off the Super Bowl earlier this year —but there are still things to figure out. “The seating is different and it affects Wi-Fi coverage,” Talty said. “Those are things we specifically want to learn.”

Minneapolis does pose one unique challenge, however, that nothing in San Antonio will help teach: how to handle all the glass and the transparent roof. The NCAA requires that the lighting environment be the same throughout the weekend, whether at Friday’s practices, the semifinals on Saturday or the championship game Monday evening. Talty said they have an active RFP seeking a darkening solution for the windows and roof, and responses are due late in March.


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SIZE MATTERS
 
Posted: 16 Apr 2018, 3:00 pm

The numbers are in, and a handful of venues ranked No. 1 for Top Stops in the Pacific Northwest in 2017, giving them clout and bragging rights as they continue to work toward a strong 2018.

Booking entertainment groups from the 90s, hiring local artists and bringing big hip hop names to stage were some of the trends throughout the region last year.

Top Stops are ranked by tickets sold and broken down into categories based on capacity sizes: more than 15,000; 10,001-15,000; 5,001-10,000; 2,001-5,000; and 2,000 or less.
The Abbotsford Centre ranked No. 1 in 2017 among venues with the capacity of 5,001 to 10,000.

The venue sold 91,766 tickets and rang in more than $4.02 million in gross sales last year.
“It puts a cap on a great year,” said Andrew Nash, general manager of the Abbotsford Centre. Last year “was overall a phenomenal year for us. This ranking is the icing on the cake for all the blood, sweat and tears that went into it.”

It all came down to diversifying shows for fans, especially since the venue doesn’t have a main tenant team, Nash said, highlighting that the Abbotsford Centre had 10 sellout shows last year.
The venue hosted the “I Love the 90s” tour, featuring Vanilla Ice and Salt-N-Pepa, which turned out to be a record-breaking show. “We broke our all time record for tickets sold at that show,” Nash said.

Six months later Jerry Seinfeld broke the “I Love the 90s” record, Nash said with enthusiasm.
The 90s theme continued at the Abbotsford Centre when the venue hosted a 90s weekend with TLC as the headliner.

The demographic of the area bodes well for the Abbotsford Centre, as there are a lot of families in the city that grew up loving 90s music, Nash said.

“With these type of shows, it doesn’t work like it did in this market in every market,” he said.
In fact, Nash and his team have to be smart about what to book and what not to book due to the venue’s size and due to the fact that the much larger Rogers Arena is only 45 minutes away.
The size of Rogers Arena is better for huge headlining acts that wouldn’t see the value in stopping at Abbotsford on the same tour. Nash and his team have opted to book smaller shows to get various entertainers to stop at the venue along the way.

“We have to think about different ways of doing things,” he said. “In some cases this venue was just too big. There are only so many stops for those big seat shows. With the capacity that the venue’s got, we were really able to cut the venue down and look at those 2,500 to 4,500 seat shows.”

That means the Abbotsford Centre now focuses mainly on half-house shows, which allows acts that are too small for an arena stop at the center.

“You can cut your expenses, your staff, and your cleaning staff for those types of shows,” he said.

Rogers Arena also got Top Stop in its class in 2017 for venues 15,000 capacity or more, ringing in $36.9 million in gross sales, up from the $26.2 million in gross sales from 2016.
In Seattle, KeyArena logged roughly $22.9 million in gross sales, down from $26.4 in 2016.
Regardless, Deborah Daoust, the director of communications for KeyArena, touted last year as a great one, with thousands of events circulating the arena and Seattle Center in 2017.
“For KeyArena, we had a business plan that we’ve followed since the (NBA’s Seattle SuperSonics) left in 2008. We co-partner with Live Nation and AEG,” she said, noting that such partnerships keep their entertainment roster full of big acts for fans.

The 55-year-old arena also will undergo a multimillion-dollar rebuild in 2019. Last June, the city of Seattle announced that the Oak View Group would rebuild the arena after the NCAA men’s basketball tournament games at KeyArena in 2019.

The goal is to open the new arena by 2021. OVG is also the owner of VenuesNow.
The OVG proposal includes a 660,000-square-foot venue. It is set to have 18,350 seats for basketball, 17,100 seats for hockey and 17,100-capacity for concerts.
Companies such as Amazon and other high-tech businesses in Seattle keep the area extremely viable economically, Daoust said.

“We have a lot of people relocating here to work,” she said. “There are many different cultures in the region from Africa to Southeast Asia … from Japan to China.”
KeyArena is located on a 74-acre entertainment complex called the Seattle Center that also has a number of smaller venues on site.

With nearly 40 acres of open space, many people stop by the center to hang out with friends or walk their dogs, Daoust said.

“I would say the trend is that people are using Seattle Center in ways they haven’t in the past,” she said. “With the Space Needle and the museum near us, it’s a popular gathering.”
Smaller venues in the Pacific Northwest, such as the Roseland Theater in Portland, Ore., also have a few bragging rights.

Roseland Theater came in as number one in its class for venues 2,000-capacity or less. Gross sales rang in at $4.2 million with a total of 141,109 tickets sold in 2017.
A number of things helped the theater log a successful 2017, including catering to musicians who live in Portland.

“We don’t just focus on national acts. We also focus on local artists and entertainers,” said Moe Lincoln, the venue’s head of marketing. The 1,500-seat theater also tries to keep its ticket prices reasonable, he added.

The venue strays away from sticking with one genre, featuring funk and soul music some weekends and UFC fight nights the next.

“We’ve also done fashion shows where we have maybe close to 200 people in attendance,” Lincoln said.

When touring acts do make a stop at Roseland Theater, venue officials usually have to reconfigure the stage to fit artists’ needs.

“When Miguel played here, we had to put two stages on top of the stage. He started the show on the third stage which is way up top,” Lincoln said. “That was really cool. We’re very accommodating to all the people passing through and make sure they get what they want.”
Lincoln also likes to pair national acts with local artist.

When Gramatik came through town last year, the musical group opted to play with a local DJ at the show, Lincoln said.

The Cuthbert Amphitheater, an outdoor amphitheater in Eugene, Ore., ranked second among venues 5,001 to 10,000 capacity, tallying more than $3 million in gross sales in 2017, trailing roughly $1 million behind Abbotsford Centre.

“It was kind of a myriad of good bookings and happenstance that came our way last year,” said Cami Thompson, ticketing manager of the venue. “For our venue we saw an uptick in electronic music, and hip-hop.”

Snoop Dog and Travis Scott performed at the Cuthbert to sold-out crowds. “We haven’t had any rap concerts at the venue in the last couple of years, so it was a nice change,” Thompson said.
The venue was built in 1982 and the season runs from May to October.
“We’re really nicely situated. We’re in a city park with a creek right behind the stage, so it’s a very tranquil type setting,” she said.

The amphitheater has a heavy-hitting lineup for its spring and summer concerts with artists like Michael Franti, a two-day show with The String Cheese Incident and Jackson Browne, among others.

“We’re extremely pleased with how last season came off. We’re just looking forward to putting on another great season this year,” Thompson said.

ANGEL BRINGS NEW NAMING RIGHTS TO EVERETT ARENA
The signs are up and the rebranding is done for the 10,000-seat venue in Everett, Wash., that’s now called the Angel of the Winds Arena, named for a nearby casino resort.

The Angel of the Winds sponsorship for the building, formerly Xfinity Arena, rang in at $3.4 million under a 10-year naming rights contract.

Xfinity’s contract with the venue ended last year, prompting officials to find a new partner, said Ryan Hart, the arena’s director of marketing.  “We canvassed the market for a naming-rights partner. Fortunately, we already had Angel of the Winds on as a building sponsor.

The venue, managed by Spectra, is roughly 25 miles north of Seattle and 20 miles south of the Angel of the Winds Casino Resort, owned and operated by the Stillaguamish Tribe on tribal land.

Arena General Manager Rick Comeau said in a statement that the venue feels  “truly blessed” to have found a local partner in the tribe and resort “who are as committed, and invested, as we are in bringing big-name acts to Snohomish County,”

The venue does roughly 150 shows a year, and is rolling out its lineup for the spring and summer seasons.  Alice Cooper will be at the arena in August, and the venue will announce other shows in coming weeks.

“We’ve got two or three more that would be of the same variety,” Hart said. “If we can work with other properties like the casino to get other big-name acts come to Everett, then that’s great.”

The venue was built in 2003 for $83.3 million as a multipurpose complex funding by the public. Recent upgrades, Hart said, include a redesign of the in-house restaurant and premium seating in the Octane Lounge, he said.

The venue has a new LED scoreboard paid for by the new naming-rights partner.
“We’re also getting a complete new set of dasher boards and glass for our hockey team,” the Everett Silvertips of the Western Hockey League, Hart said. “Hockey is a big component of our day-to-day operations.”

The venue also hosts Disney on Ice each year, and it welcomed a drone racing event in March.
The arena has 11 food stands, including a specialty nacho stand and Beers of the World. Spectra also is the food provider for Angel of the Winds Arena.

“It’s a competitive market in the Pacific Northwest,” Hart said. “We’re just super excited to have a long-term partner that’s engaged with the venue.”   –Noelle Riley


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A QUESTION OF BALANCE:
 
Posted: 16 Apr 2018, 3:00 pm

Seating rakes, which determine the slope and steepness of a seating bowl, have garnered more attention recently in soccer as new buildings open in Los Angeles and Washington, D.C.
And the prevailing sentiment? Steeper is better.

In basic terms, the seating rake consists of the angle and steepness of the seating bowl relative to the field of play. This gets determined by the height of the riser—also known as the aisle step—and the depth of the tread—how deep each row goes. The higher the riser and narrower the tread, the steeper the seating bowl gets. The shorter the riser and deeper the tread, the shallower of a rise in the seating bowl.

“There are industry standards for all sports and all professional leagues,” said Jon Emmett, Gensler principal and designer of Los Angeles Football Club’s Banc of California Stadium, which the Major League Soccer team will open April 29. “A lot of those standards are really quite similar, but each sport is a little different in how you view the game.”

In soccer, where footwork is the focus, designers bring fans as close to the field and as low as possible. Sightlines also need to view the ground and fans enjoy the top-down view, all leading to a slightly higher angle. A first row commonly starts at field level, whereas a typical NFL stadium’s first row starts more than 5 feet higher than field level to see over the entourage of people crowding the sidelines.

So the game lends itself to steeper rakes, but that’s not the only factor. The scale of U.S. soccer stadiums, which usually hold about 25,000 fans, “allows you to get away with a very steep rake,” said Bruce Miller, Populous senior principal and designer of multiple MLS stadiums.
In baseball, for example, Miller said designers often limit the upper-deck riser to 21 inches to keep the scale of the facility smaller and lessen the risk of vertigo. “If you are 30 to 40 rows deep in a 20,000-seat venue, a half an inch or inch adds about 40 inches to a building height,” he said. “If in an NFL building and you have 100 rows, that is 8 1/2 feet. It all has to do with scale.”

Code plays a role too, maximizing the height of a riser at 24 inches.
But it is fan comfort in the depth of the tread that really determines rake. “There are no hard and fast guidelines, but once you go to the max of what code will allow, you start to run into the issue of does it become uncomfortably steep for the fans,” Emmett said. “There is a balance of fan comfort.”

To narrow a tread not only increases the feeling of steepness in the upper rows, but it squeezes fans with little to no leg room. While the deeper treads don’t change the building height, they do start to make the rake shallower. Miller said a 33-inch tread has become the industry norm, but older buildings often drop to 30 inches. He once sat in a soccer stadium in Bolivia with a tread depth of about 26 inches. “Your knees were next to someone else’s head,” he said.

In Los Angeles, Emmett varied the rake, at 32 degrees in the 25-row safe standing supporters section and up to 34 degrees in the upper seating bowl. He said putting railings in the standing section allowed him to go steeper without making it uncomfortable because the railings offered a feeling of safety. He could have, by code, gone to 36 degrees, but didn’t want to lose fan comfort. “It is really about creating that balancing act,” he said. “Going steeper for the sake of going steeper really has a limited point of return.”

Miller said the codes bring trigonometry to play, but it boils down to about 36 degrees as the maximum rake. Coming online in 2019, the Populous-designed Allianz Field in Minnesota went with a 33-inch tread but upped the riser to the full 24 inches for about a 34-degree rake.
“When building in the 20,000 to 30,000 range, you have a great deal of flexibility to artificially increase the steepness of the seating,” Emmett said. “That is why you are seeing venues take on a lot more personality and unique sitting and standing areas.”

As the modern discussion focuses on fan comfort, that wasn’t always the case, whether in Miller’s Bolivia example or stories from Chicago’s old Comiskey Park, which Emmett called uncomfortably steep. San Siro Stadium in Italy, opened in 1926, really pushes fans to the extreme, with the upper deck reaching a “scary” 40 degrees. Add in that many larger stadiums cantilever the upper deck over the lower bowl in an open-air setup and the mental feeling of steepness only increases.


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BARCLAYS CENTER IN THE FAST LANE
 
Posted: 16 Apr 2018, 2:55 pm

Tsa precheck enrollees will soon be able to enter Barclays Center, Brooklyn, N.Y., using their preapproved biometric identity credentials in a dedicated “fast-pass” lane.

The TSA Precheck program, initially developed to provide biometric screening at
airports, has already expanded into partnerships with the San Francisco 49ers, who play at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif., and the New York Jets, who play at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.

The company behind the TSA Precheck program is IdentoGo by IDEMIA, which is the result of the merger of Oberthur Technologies and Safran Identity & Security (Morpho); it’s headquartered in Paris.

As part of the deal, IdentoGo will open a retail location inside Barclays Center that will be accessible from both the concourse inside as well as from an outside street door.

“Our partnership is with IdentoGo, which is the exclusive provider of TSA Precheck,” said Michael Zavodsky, chief revenue officer, Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment, who operate Barclays Center as well as NYCB Live, home of the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, Uniondale, N.Y. “Guests can visit the IdentoGo retail location to enroll in TSA Precheck, which traditionally people have had to go to a participating airport location to do.”

Once enrolled in the IdentoGo/TSA Precheck system, fans will be able to utilize a fast pass lane located at the IdentoGo-branded entrance on Atlantic Avenue, he said.

Zavodsky believes that on any given event night this will save fans a good amount of wait time by allowing them to utilize an exclusive entrance not traditionally available to the general public.

Barclays Center will not be paying for the service. “It’s a true partnership,” said Zavodsky. “It’s good for them, it’s good for us, and it’s good for the fans.”

The retail location is currently under construction, said Zavodsky, with an expected completion this spring. “We expect guests will be able to utilize the Fast Pass in a few months.”
Zavodsky said that the venue and the company will also collaborate on future safety enhancements within the facility.

“Safety is paramount to everyone, everywhere,” said Ed Casey, chief government officer of IDEMIA ID & Safety USA. “Our system is working at 200 airports across the U.S. and we’re actively looking now to enhance the program and get it into other high-volume destinations like venues.”

“This will allow fans with TSA Precheck to gain access faster, easier, and with assurances to everyone that this person has been verified as a non-threat,” said Casey. “An added bonus to the program is that fans can sign up for TSA Precheck right there at the venue and save a trip to one of our airport offices.”

Casey confirmed the program was free for the venues; customers pay the company when they enroll.

In October, the Jets became the first professional sports team to launch a pilot program with the safety firm.

Jeff Fernandez, vice president of business development and ventures for the Jets, said the team was happy to be the trial balloon for the program moving into sports venues.

“Anything that gets the fans in quicker and safer is a good thing,” said Fernandez.

“So far the program is working out great and is enhancing both the guest experience and the safety of the fans visiting the facility.”

Levi’s Stadium General Manager Jim Mercurio agreed. “We’re always looking for innovative ways to enhance security at Levi’s Stadium and IdentoGo’s technology complements our efforts as we strive to provide expedited entry for pre-approved customers,” he said. “We’ve been implementing the program in stages and are excited about how the program is enhancing the fan experience at Levi’s Stadium.”


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ALUMINUM STAGING SAVES GRASS, TIME AND MONEY
 
Posted: 16 Apr 2018, 2:00 pm

Ballpark concerts are a Major League Baseball groundskeeper’s worst nightmare. The natural grass fields they keep in pristine condition over the course of the six-month season can take a beating in one night from thousands of people congregating on the field for those non-baseball events.

In addition, the staging and flooring required to produce these shows doesn’t do the teams any favors. After concerts, groundskeepers typically scramble to replace damaged portions of the outfield grass to prevent player injuries and maintain the integrity of the game.

For some teams, those expenses are greater in-season. The Minnesota Twins, for example, pay a higher cost per square foot to replace grass because of higher trucking fees tied to their Colorado turf provider, said Larry DiVito, head groundskeeper at Target Field.

Despite those issues, though, the number of ballpark concerts continues to grow as more teams capitalize on generating income from non-game-day events, which are exempt from MLB’s revenue sharing formula. Fenway Park and Wrigley Field have 10 and nine concerts booked this season, respectively, and Target Field has four shows scheduled this summer, the most since the Twins’ ballpark opened in 2010.

To ease the groundskeepers’ pain, the concert industry works more closely with teams to improve production elements. Over the past five years, staging firms have developed more efficient, lightweight systems that take less time to set up and tear down, reducing wear and tear on grass fields.

“It makes sense that we’re going to be in this [concert] business,” said Mike Boekholder, director of field operations at Citizens Bank Park, home of the Philadelphia Phillies. “We decided to figure out how to do it in the most efficient and economical manner possible, with the least amount of damage to the playing surface.”

G2 Structures is one stage manufacturer making a difference. The Nashville company, teaming with promoter Live Nation, produces staging for most ballpark concerts. This year, G2 Structures will complete 50 “builds” at stadiums, shipping five portable stages across the country, covering multiple shows at Fenway Park, Wrigley Field, Citizens Bank Park, Citi Field and Dodger Stadium, among other MLB venues.

The increasing number of ballpark concerts drove the need to develop a more field-friendly product, said Jim Brammer, co-owner of G2 Structures and a 42-year veteran of live event production. For the vendor, it doesn’t come cheap. The cost to build an aluminum stage is $3 million, double the cost of a traditional all-steel structure, which is due to the price of raw aluminum and the engineering “artistry” required to form a product more fragile than steel, Brammer said.

But for G2 Structures, which has a revenue share deal with Live Nation, the evolution of staging has resulted in a stronger relationship with MLB teams. Together, they’ve reached a greater understanding that they’re guests coming into the ballpark, and when the show is over, they’re responsible for helping prepare the field for resuming baseball, Brammer said.

“It’s changed the whole thought process,” he said. “The groundskeepers have been instrumental in showing us new ways to protect the turf. It’s been a team effort and partnership. A few years back at Fenway, we were out of the park at 10 a.m. and the Red Sox played a game that night.”
About five years ago, G2 Structures produced its first hybrid aluminum and steel structure, called the K2. It has since been upgraded to a system now called the K2I. The K2 series is equipped with smaller pieces that can be carried by four people on the field, which cuts down on the number of forklifts and cranes required to install the system. Aluminum is lighter than steel, but stronger in its strength-to-weight ratio, Brammer said, making it easier for crews installing the massive structures. The K2I stage itself stands 70 feet tall and 80 feet wide, and side “wings” attached to the structure can extend the stage an additional 40 feet in width.

“For Garth Brooks at Yankee Stadium (in July 2016), we were wall to wall with the stage,” he said.

The K2 system uses four forklifts and one 40-ton crane for installation compared with much heavier cranes to install steel-based stages. Most important, the smaller crane stays perched on the warning track and doesn’t touch the grass, which has been a difference maker, MLB groundskeepers said.

Overall, the process eliminates heavy traffic on the grass and reduces labor costs. At Target Field, the G2 system has enabled the Twins to shave one full day off the front end for building the stage and about five hours during teardown, DiVito said.

“It not only saves time but relieves the weight and stress on the grass,” he said. “We’re able to build the back sides of the stage on the warning track, never building from the front. We’re not driving forklifts in the middle of the outfield.”

At Citizens Bank Park, G2 Structures’ lighter footprint has saved the Phillies a minimum of $100,000 a year in labor fees since they started using the company’s equipment in 2009, Boekholder said.

“It was specifically built to be brought into a baseball stadium environment,” he said. “They really have changed the game when it comes to being able to host large-scale concerts in these venues. Put it all together and you’ve got a system that’s more cost effective and everybody walks way with a greater profit in their pocket — the venue, act and promoter.”

Efficiency is key, considering MLB’s schedule of 81 home games dictates when they can book concerts. In some cases, there’s a tight window for squeezing a show or two between homestands, and every minute counts.

“Time is money and when you’re on a tight deadline to get these shows in and out of here, that stuff adds up,” Boekholder said. The ballpark will play host to Billy Joel on July 27 followed by The Eagles with James Taylor on July 28, “which is challenging because we’ve only got a day and a half to set it up. Using this system, it will go up a lot faster.”

For the teams, scheduling back-to-back concerts adds to the efficiency theme by consolidating productions and having multiple artists use the same stage. Dennis Arfa, Billy Joel’s booking agent, and Bobby Thrasher, the artist’s production manager, came up with the concept of having acts share production costs, according to Brammer, and it’s worked well at Fenway and Wrigley, with minimal damage to the fields.

The Twins, though, are doing something different this year that will provide another test for G2 Structures and concert production at Target Field. They’ve booked Luke Bryan for July 21 at the stadium, followed by Journey and Def Leppard on July 27. With the six-day gap between shows, the Twins plan to leave the stage in place in the outfield and remove the flooring and speaker towers between events. DiVito’s crew will replace 10,000 square feet of grass under the stage after the second concert is over. The Twins return to Target Field on July 30 after a 10-day road trip, which falls right after the All-Star break, providing an extra cushion for converting the stadium to concert mode.

“It’s something we’re going to try,” DiVito said. “That’s just how this kind of panned out. Once you’re mobilized, you might as well get more than one use out of it. The fewer mobilizations, the better. It’s easier on your body and mind.”


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PURVEYOR OF MAGICAL MOMENTS
 
Posted: 16 Apr 2018, 2:00 pm

Ben lovett remembers the moment he fell in love with live music: As a 12-year-old with a neon-blue Mohawk, he made his way near the front of the stage to see No Doubt, his favorite band at the time, play at Brixton Academy. The experience delivered “that pure human connection that elevated what was, for me, great music, being able to see the people that actually came up with that music and wrote the songs,” Lovett says. “It felt very good to be alive.”

Now Lovett, multi-instrumentalist and vocalist for the band Mumford & Sons and co-founder of the Communion Music label, has the chance to deliver that experience in a new way: his venue Omeara, which opened last fall in the heart of London.

In the 325-capacity auditorium, Lovett talked about how Omeara came to be, the challenges for venue operators, ticket prices, and the future of Omeara and grassroots music venues in general.
How important were grassroots music venues for the success of Mumford & Sons?

I don’t think Mumford & Sons would exist without them. When we got to 18 (or) 19, Marcus (Mumford, lead singer and multi-instrumentalist) and I had been playing together for six years by that point. And we were all at different iterations playing with different people around small venues in London. There was one place in particular on Kings Road, this little makeshift venue underneath a Cornish pasty shop, which ended up being a pretty important grassroots venue. It feels even smaller than grassroots, but it was.

First time I ever saw Laura Marling was in there, first time I ever saw Noah and the Whale. And it was our first show that we went out as a version of Mumford & Sons. And a few other places like it. Sadly, they’re not around anymore, but these places tend to come and go. They exist on the energy of whoever started them. And as soon as that person runs out of energy, or normally money, that dream is done.

When did you have the idea to open your own place?

Probably four years ago now. That was when I genuinely started looking into the opportunity. I think it’s been a pipe dream much longer than that. I love hosting. I’ve always liked hosting parties. With Communion, over the years, we’ve managed to host a huge number of gigs and club nights and showcases and all sorts of things. I get a lot of joy out of providing for something great, a magical moment, to happen, for people to come together. So a venue is the ultimate version of that.

We have multiple things happening here every night. It’s not just one room. It’s lots of different ones, which gives us flexibility. I’ve always just wanted to be the instigator, and luckily I’ve had enough success to realize those dreams and pour back into the very thing that got me started in the first place.

What’s the biggest challenge in opening a venue?

I think you have to approach it with both sides of the brain. You have to be very creative and believe in the detail and the art of the venue, what you see and feel. But then, behind the scenes, you need to be very organized and do things in the appropriate way. And I think, sometimes you get one or the other.

People have launched a venue as a business without any kind of creative flow or desire. They do it literally just to try and make money. And those fail. More commonly you get people who are music lovers who just want to open a venue, but the behind-the-scenes, back-end stuff is just not taken care of with the same attention to detail.

I was very nervous, because I would say I’m more creative, but I’m aware of the business side of it. Way before even committing to the build-out of this place, I started seeking advice from people who really knew what they were talking about. There’s a guy called Mark Davyd, who runs a thing called the Music Venue Trust. He’s been very helpful. I met with him a few times, and he gave me the do’s and don’ts. Make sure that you are honoring your license and being considerate of your sound and paying your bills on time.

It seems obvious, but you get caught up in other things, like making sure that the bands are happy. So I ended up putting a management team in place that is probably relatively oversized that can deliver this long term, so it doesn’t just become something that is here for a few years. The real ambition here is to build a venue that is going to have an impact on the cultural history of London, and that people are referring to in 10 (or) 20 years as being somewhere that really helped launch artists and was an important social landmark.

Are tickets too expensive these days?

I would say no, actually, because of what the secondary market has told us. The majority of tickets actually gets sold for more money that initially defined by the promoter or band. Which means that the promoter and the band are losing out, that people are still willing to pay more to experience that. The market’s saying that tickets are underpriced.

Something I’m very careful about is hidden ticketing fees. I think that, especially in a venue of this scale, at the grassroots level, the majority of what you’re paying should be flowing through to the artist and not going through to a ticketing company. When you’re talking about a 15,000- to 20,000-capacity arena, which has a lot of complex allocations when it comes to how the seats work, I can understand high ticketing fees.

Does Omeara allocate to all ticketing companies?

We have a consistent one as a venue, which is a company called See, who are really good when it comes to combating secondary. They put in a lot of work to making sure tickets aren’t getting into the wrong hands. We also allow artists and promoters who come into the room to work with their existing partners.

Omeara is also a partner of the FanFair Alliance, which was in great part initiated by [Mumford & Sons manager] Adam Tudhope and is really targeting in on the secondary problem. It is getting worse rather than better, and we’re trying to figure out a way so people that transaction online now more than ever aren’t getting scammed.

What’s your favorite small venue these days apart from this one?

There’s some basic principles that I learned from a venue in New York called Rockwood Music Hall on the Lower East Side, where we’ve been hosting Communion shows for six years. Ken Rockwood, who opened that, has got just very high standards when it comes to the facility. The feel of the whole facility is that it’s kept like a museum when it’s not in use. They have really good technicians on sound and lights, it’s a place where I’ve promoted lots of shows and that I’ve really admired.

Here in London there’s a handful of places that I admire for their history and how iconic they are. Shepherd’s Bush Empire is a very important venue to me, it feels like it’s a rite of passage for artists to play it. And I hope that, over time, playing Omeara feels like something that internationally big bands don’t want to skip.

What’s your favorite big venue?

There are quite a few. A beautiful theater in Atlanta, The Fox. There’s this place called the Gorge in Washington state, which is a stunning outdoor natural amphitheater with a huge canyon behind the stage, similarly dramatic to somewhere like Red Rocks. I like it when there’s a degree of interplay between a natural environment, and amplifying that with a great rock ’n’ roll venue. The Hollywood Bowl’s a bit like that, the Waldbühne in Berlin is a stunning venue. Luckily, I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing what it’s like to feel the energy at those places firsthand, but I’m sure we’ll keep on discovering something new.

Are there enough venues?

I do think that we have to stay on top of the issue. I’ve noticed that just in my short life the emphasis on places, where people can discover and engage in life in a different way that goes beyond office, retail and residential, has diminished. I’m worried about what that’s going to mean for the future of creative spaces in general.

That said, I think that people are figuring out ways to make it work. I don’t think this is a one-off success story, and we are hoping to prove it by building more of these and show that there is a path to it.

You asked earlier about ticket prices: Some people do think they’re too expensive, and sometimes a 10-pound ticket to see a band would be more attractive than a 15-pound ticket, and yet people are willing to be paying their Netflix subscription and are willing to spend a few pounds on a daily coffee. There’s a weird value system going on, where people will, for years of their life, pour into writing songs that can really inspire people. And then they invest into rehearsal rooms and gear and maybe a van to get around, and then they come up, and, at a grassroots venue level, they will probably just about break even on a show.

Do you already have the next location for an Omeara in mind?

I would like to try and figure out a U.S. plan for Omeara next — that’s where my head’s at — and maintain this kind of venue offering in more cities than London.


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MISSION ACCOMPLISHED
 
Posted: 16 Apr 2018, 2:00 pm

Aeg facilities took over the Los Angeles Convention Center after the city of Los Angeles, which had managed it for 42 years, put the venue up for RFP in 2012. The facility had been running on an average a $3.5 million annual deficit.
General Manager Brad Gessner took charge with a mandate: Turn it around. Gessner zoned in on staffing, parking, food and beverage, adding concerts, sustainability measures, improving security and forging relationships.
The result?
“We now run an average of $10.2 million in surplus a year since AEG has been running the venue,” Gessner said. “That’s a $14 million swing. The city wanted a $2.7 million reserve at the end of year four; we now have a $7.1 million reserve fund.”
How did they do it? 
“Winning the contract and then actually transitioning the management was quite a challenge,” Gessner said. “There were 130 full-time staff members and about the same number of part-timers, and all but 15 were gone. We had to create new job descriptions, do a mass hiring and training, create manuals and take over in a matter of months.”
“First, we found a way to cut staff and cut labor costs and still keep the building running at full capacity,” he said. There are now 105 staffers.
“Second, we drastically enhanced and revamped F&B completely and increased revenues and flow through,” he said. “We removed Aramark and replaced them with Levy Restaurants.”
“We looked at all the cost areas — food cost and labor cost — and cinched that up,” Gessner said. “It was really out of whack before we got here, and we greatly increased the amount of F&B we wanted to offer.
“Previously, and unbelievably, people were having conventions here and their banquets somewhere else. We made it attractive to stay. The food quality went up, our beverage business went up, our catering went up, and our net flow-through profit went up,” he said.
The next component of the convention center makeover was parking.
“The city didn’t have good cash handling procedures in place,” he said.  “They were holding spaces for possible convention center goers while turning away parkers from other close-by parts of the downtown core like Staples Center and Microsoft Theater. We changed that policy and turned it into first come, first served.
“We also installed new parking systems, with faster credit card capabilities, and the result was less cash handling and we could get them in quicker. We also increased the rates. We were well below what everyone within a six-block radius was charging. It was artificially low.” Parking revenue was increased by $3 million a year.
Next on Gessner’s agenda was increasing the occupancy rate. “When we took over, the occupancy rate was 55 percent,” he said. “We increased that to 72 percent. In the convention center industry 70 percent is considered fully booked, so we’re functioning at just over full occupancy and will do over 300 events this year.”
Gessner also formed a better relationship with the Department of Convention and Tourism Development for the city of Los Angeles. “We increased those bookings by five more a year. They are very lucrative to the building and the city.”
Over 2.5 million people came through the building last year. Big conventions last year included the American Heart Association, American Academy of Neurology, Anime Expo, Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) and the Los Angeles Auto Show.
They also added in concerts, from acts such as the Chainsmokers, Marshmello and Kaskade, and electronic dance music shows. “We generate about a quarter of a million dollars net from each show,” he said. “We transform our exhibit halls into an incredible venue.”
Security is always on Gessner’s mind. Any event that has more than 5,000 attendees expected will have armed police at the entrance. “When we got here they had only 30 cameras working. Now we have 325 high-end cameras and a command post manned 24/7,” he said.
Security bollards were installed at the front of the facility. “We spent about $500,000 and the bollards will be able to stop a semi going 80 miles an hour. They dug down 6 feet deep to install the bollards,” he said.
They also bought 25 magnetometers. The screening devices “paid for themselves in the first year, compared to renting them,” he said.
For the EDM shows they create a “medical MASH unit with doctors, EMTs and water stations. If anyone gets into distress, we can provide care,” he said. Gessner was happy to report that after three EDM shows there were no medical transports or arrests.
Of the $27 million in surplus, Gessner has put a great deal back into the building. All the carpet has been replaced. The restrooms have been retrofitted with low-flow devices to drastically reduce water consumption. Back-of-house improvements included upgrading all the chillers.
All the lighting has been retrofitted with an energy efficient system, and a solar project that will have a two-megawatt solar array that will save the facility 15 percent in energy costs is being put in place. The project cost $6.5 million, funded by the city. All the sustainability improvements have earned LACC a LEED Gold certification.
“The city likes what we’ve done here,” said Gessner modestly. “The economic impact to the city has been greatly enhanced, and our neighbors are thrilled with the LACC turnaround.”


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Seattle Gets Leader For NHL Effort
 
Posted: 11 Apr 2018, 8:10 pm

GR-OVG4.11-4482_.jpgTod Leiweke.

Seattle Hockey Partners has named Tod Leiweke CEO and president of the NHL team that the entity hopes to bring to Seattle after a major renovation of the city's KeyArena.

Leiweke stepped down last month after more than 2 1/2 years as chief operating officer of the NFL, his latest position in an long career in sports. Leiweke went to the NFL from the NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning, where he was CEO of Tampa Bay Sports and Entertainment from 2010 to 2015.

Leiweke is well known in the Seattle market. As CEO of Paul Allen's Vulcan Sports and Entertainment, he oversaw the NFL's Seahawks and helped launched Major League Soccer's Sounders, in addition to overseeing the NBA's Portland Trail Blazers. He has also made NHL stops in Vancouver and Minnesota. 

Tod Leiweke is the brother of Tim Leiweke, CEO of Oak View Group, which is working to bring an NHL team to Seattle and is in charge of the KeyArena renovation. Oak View Group is also the owner of VenuesNow.


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Sports Facilities And The Law
 
Posted: 11 Apr 2018, 6:45 pm

Sports Facilities and the Law is a bimonthly newsletter devoted to sports venues and legal issues.

Sports Facilities and the Law is a new publication for news, case summaries, articles and strategies to understand legal concerns facing sports venues.

“Our goal is not just to inform but to help share solutions,” said the newsletter's creator, Gil Fried, chair of the University of New Haven’s sports management program, where he is a professor. “I’ve been involved in so many cases, both on the defense's side and the plaintiff's side, and I’ve seen facilities often do not have the appreciation for risk and how to respond to risk that they should have.”

The newsletter was co-created by Holt Hackney, who runs other venue-related newsletters, including Legal Issues in College Athletics and Sports Litigation Alert.

“Things change legally in the facility world on a regular basis,” Fried said. “The thought behind the SFL newsletter is to get operators to appreciate the changes on a legal landscape.”

Tort law, contract law, employment law, safety and antiterrorism are some of the topics that the publication touches on frequently.

It has a number of board members that it relies on to comment on current cases. Some write articles for the site as well. Board members include Paul Anderson, Herb Appenzeller, Denis C. Braham, Shane Beardsley, Helen Durkin, James Moss, John Sadler, Todd Seidler and Carla Varriale. “These people are all key players in the industry who can provide insight,” Fried said.

Fried used the example of protests over a police shooting that recently blocked the entrances to the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento, Calif., before Sacramento Kings games as an example of how the newsletter can be a helpful tool. “We shared that material and presented a good strategy for how to respond to a situation like that,” he said.

Other topics include drone issues, ADA-related concerns, compliance issues and trademark and copyright disputes. “We have six or seven full cases in each issue and guest editorials,” Fried said. “We hope people learn from the articles and react to them. It’s not possible to avoid all injuries, but we hope to reduce them incrementally.”

Board member Varriale, a partner in the law firm of Havkins Rosenfeld Ritzert & Varriale, is thrilled to be part of the newsletter. “I like the publication because it gives me a wide view of legal issues facing sports facilities,” she said. “They touch on venue security, liability issues, security, and I think it’s a valuable tool for anyone in the industry.”

Varriale especially likes that the Sports Facilities and the Law partners with experts and legal minds working in litigation for sports venues. “Hearing from experts helps inform my choices and gives me knowledge I would not have had,” she said. “Often they feature experts who have recently testified, who I can then call to testify.”

"They also deal with spectator issues, and many times they write about issues I would not see in a regular newspaper,” she said.

The newsletter is free and relies on advertising support. “Our focus is getting things out there, not money,” he said.

The newsletter has about 500 subscribers, and Fried is pleased with its growth. “We’re getting lots of feedback and people saying thanks for raising this concern or that issue and bringing it to my attention. If we can do that and educate people and make facilities safer and cut down on lawsuits and insurance, we’re fulfilling our mission.”

Sports Facilities and the Law is published six times a year, and the next issue will appear in May. To sign up, visit the newsletter's website, www.sportsfacilitieslaw.com

 

 


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Stars On Ice Ticket Sales Increase
 
Posted: 11 Apr 2018, 6:00 pm

Stars on Ice on a previous trip to Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif., where it will return in May. (Courtesy Honda Center)

With a notable lineup of medalists and skating personalities following the 2018 Winter Olympics as well as a preview of the show scheduled for broadcast Saturday on NBC Sports Network, the 2018 Stars on Ice tour is off to a stronger start than the last comparable tour.

“We spent a lot more time and effort advertising digitally, and that has paid off,” said Byron Allen, producer with New York City-based IMG, who produces the event. “We’re running about 20 percent ahead in ticket sales compared to the last post-Olympics Stars on Ice tour.”

Because competing athletes are prohibited from promoting brands during the Olympic games, there is typically an advertising blackout for Stars on Ice. However, with digital advertising, the 2014 Olympic skaters who are a part of this year’s tour were able to be involved in campaigns before the 2018 tour.

“We could continue digital promotions, rather than going dark, which was new this year,” said Allen. “Previously we were just selling television ads.”

This year's tour, which is traveling to 22 cities, began April 6 at Germain Arena in Estero, Fla., and is scheduled to wind up May 20 at the Moda Center in Portland, Ore.

New to this year’s show are Olympic bronze medalists in ice dancing Maia and Alex Shibutani; bronze medal team member and two-time national champion Nathan Chen; 2018 U.S. women's champion Bradie Tennell; national champion Mirai Nagasu, who made history as the first American woman to land a triple axel at the Olympics; and Adam Rippon, a media star on this year’s team. Also featured on this year’s tour are three other members of the 2018 U.S. team: 2017 women's champion Karen Chen and 2018 national ice dance champions Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue.

The tour also will feature ice dance gold medalists Meryl Davis and Charlie White, three-time national champion and 2016 world silver medalist Ashley Wagner and national champion Jason Brown.

Among the arenas on the tour this year is Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif. “Orange County has always been a good market for Stars on Ice, and Honda Center is thrilled to be hosting our friends again for the 24th time this May,” said Tim Ryan, president and CEO of the arena. “Ticket sales have been extremely swift this year, even compared to past Olympic years, and our lower bowl has been sold out for some time."

Ryan noted a shift to demographics for the show, with twice the percentage of ticket buyers belonging to the 18-34 demographic compared to a year ago. 

This year’s show has been updated with contemporary music and a greater emphasis on video and audience interaction and participation.

“We’ve incorporated more video as part of the promotion leading up to the show and during the show itself,” Allen said. “We have a Go Pro cam that’s part of the show on a couple of occasions, and both recorded and live video elements. We’ve always had a video component, but stepped up the quality and time and effort we put into it this year.”

Founded in 1986 by decorated skater Scott Hamilton, the Stars on Ice tour has performed more than 1,500 shows over the last three decades. The tour has won three Emmy Awards and an ACE Cable Award.

“I can tell you I’ve experienced a lot of shows and almost as many casts," Hamilton said. "This year’s tour is truly special ... and incredible." He credited the 2018 cast with having "not only a mountain of talent, but also a ton of chemistry."

“In the Olympic season, we’re reaching more people, and this is one of the only sports strong enough to tour every year,” Allen said. “We felt like this was a year to refresh, renew and take a leap by incorporating new elements into the show. We viewed it as an investment, so we did not raise ticket prices significantly.” Tickets for the tour start at $25.

 


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Cobo Center Cleans Up
 
Posted: 11 Apr 2018, 4:05 pm

Detroit's Cobo Center no longer outsources janitorial services.

Improved cleanliness, interdepartmental efficiencies and more full-time jobs with benefits are some of the advantages that SMG-managed Cobo Center in Detroit hopes to achieve by taking its janitorial services in-house.

The center’s janitorial division had been handled by cleaning-service provider Professional Group, which had the contract for only one year. Before Professional Group took over, the work was done by ABM.

The facility’s general manager, Claude Molinari, said the decision to take cleaning services in-house was based on “synergies we saw that we weren’t taking advantage of. We have production services, room turnover, an engineering team, and other services that we think will run more efficiently with our own team running the janitorial division.”

Molinari said the thought process behind the decision was to get the job done while paying attention to the bottom line.

“Removing the middleman allows us to increase wages, maintain the pricing, update the training and include customer service. It’s a win-win-win across the board.”

At this stage, Molinari believes that instead of great savings, “it may be a wash, but we can increase the salary of our union cleaning personnel and this will assure us that we can attract the best talent available. So even if it’s cost-neutral, we’re going to gain the benefit of a cleaner building, a better-trained staff and an increase in bookings and rentals.”

Molinari said that he has had experience before with an in-house janitorial team and that Cobo Center is the first facility he’s been in that farmed the work out. “I’ve been with SMG for a long time, in many venues, and when I got here I thought it was a luxury to have an outside cleaning service,” he said. Molinari arrived in Detroit in 2011 as assistant general manager and was promoted in 2015.

Cobo Center is the 17th-largest convention center in the country and has 723,000 square feet of meeting rooms, exhibit space and ballrooms. It recently completed a $279 million upgrade, adding more space and an 8,000-square-foot kitchen and tasting room.

Often, the center’s staff and the former cleaning staff would work to different purposes, Molinari said. “Supervisors that were overseeing production were bumping into the cleaning supervisors. Now we have a clear vision of the entire process coming from one direction. The work is so interdependent on every facet of the booking, and this clears the way for a more seamless process.”

The switch also makes room for the current supervisors “to receive more money.”

Last year was the first time in the center’s history that it operated at a profit, and it’s on target to match that achievement this year. “We just started our fiscal year, but it already looks like it’s going to be another banner year for us, and I expect we will finish in the black,” Molinari said.

The concessionaire at Cobo Center is Centerplate. “We have a great relationship with Centerplate and have no plans whatsoever to take F&B in-house, too,” he assured.

Despite Cobo Center’s move to take its cleaning in-house, Los Angeles Convention Center GM Brad Gessner does not see it as a growing trend in the convention center industry. He recalled when he ran San Diego Convention Center in the early 2000s and that building took its cleaning services in-house.

“We wound up getting sued by United National Maintenance for restriction of trade,” Gessner said. “It was tied up in the courts for many years. In the end, the convention center prevailed.”

LACC has not taken janitorial in-house mostly because “we feel we can monitor the contract without having to take exclusivity. In our industry, show managers want to be able to pick who they contract for services. At LACC we provide a list of approved vendors for event managers to choose from. We want to be competitive and attractive and don’t want to force our team on any event booking. We have those services to offer, and many customers take us up on it, but in the end, it’s their choice.”

“We want to keep the flexibility for show managers,” he said, “so they pick our center and our city.”

 


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Alamodome Pleased With Per Cap
 
Posted: 11 Apr 2018, 3:20 pm

Shifting the primary merchandise sales area off the concourse and outside the arena "was a key move for us," Alamodome General Manager Nick Langella said. (Courtesy Alamodome)

The NCAA Final Four generated a per cap of $18.56 for food and drink at the Alamodome. It’s a solid number considering that the NCAA prohibits alcohol sales in public spaces at the event, its men’s basketball championship, said Nick Langella, the stadium’s general manager.

Total sales were $2.5 million for the semifinals March 31 and the April 2 title game, which drew a combined crowd of about 136,000 in San Antonio, Langella said. Savor, an SMG subsidiary, runs the food at the dome.

“We’re very pleased with the numbers,” Langella said. “It’s not the biggest we’ve done, but considering we’re within walking distance of downtown and a lot of people spent time [eating and drinking] on the Riverwalk, they’re good numbers.”

The Alamodome’s record for food and drink sales is $2.8 million, established during a George Strait concert in 2013 that drew a crowd of 73,000, he said.

Figures for Final Four per caps are not always made available, but the 2018 event in San Antonio falls in line with available numbers from recent years. For example, the 2013 Final Four in Atlanta resulted in a $21.50 per cap at the old Georgia Dome, where Levy ran the food operation.

The dome’s $60-million renovation leading up to Final Four helped generate revenue by providing more space to install permanent concession stands and portable carts. The main concourse is now 20 feet wider than the original layout and the outdoor plazas have been expanded by 100,000 square feet, which enabled Savor to increase points of sale inside and outside the facility, he said.

Final Four merchandise sales were $1.2 million. Dome officials, working with the NCAA and River City Merchandising, the venue’s retail provider, set up a 30,000-square-foot tent outside the building to handle most of the merchandise transactions.

“We specifically moved merchandise off the concourse because it creates a stumbling block [with crowd congestion],” Langella said. “It’s a longer sales process because people spend more time making their selection with apparel. It was a key move for us.”

Overall, San Antonio’s presentation for the Final Four got a thumbs-up from both fans and event officials, according to Langella. The Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center played host to the Final Four Fan Fest, and the March Madness Music Festival drew capacity crowds of 25,000 over three days of concerts at Hemisfair Park.

This was the fourth time the Alamodome has had the Final Four in the past 20 years. The 25-year-old building stands out for securing the 2018 event against much newer stadiums, and there’s been speculation in the media over whether the dome will get another Final Four, in part because of fewer suites and other amenities.

“All along, the NCAA has been telling us, ‘Let’s see how it goes.’ In our opinion, the facilities performed tremendously,” Langella said. “We’re already bidding on the next level [beyond sites selected through 2022]. I would be amazed if they don’t come back.”


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On Long Island, One And Not Done
 
Posted: 11 Apr 2018, 2:00 pm

NYCB Live: Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum had a strong year after a $180 million reboot.

NYCB Live: Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale, N.Y., boasted a successful first year since reopening after a $180 million renovation that was completed last April. Venue officials are now looking forward to a new ad campaign targeting the local community and the return of the NHL’s New York Islanders for regular-season games.

The venue, originally built in 1972, hosted a number of big-name acts in the last nine months of 2017, helping make it the highest-grossing venue in North America last year with a capacity of 10,000 to 15,000 seats, as ranked by VenuesNow.

Formerly operated by SMG, the venue is now managed by Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment after it submitted the winning bid alongside the developer, Forest City Ratner Cos., in 2015.

“In many ways the renovation spoke for itself,” said Keith Sheldon, executive vice president of programming for Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment, which also manages Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

“The first thing we wanted to do when it reopened was reinvent our future,” Sheldon said. “We wanted the biggest and best artists and the hottest family shows. I think we were able to accomplish that.”

The 416,000-square-foot arena reopened April 5, 2017, with a sold-out show by Billy Joel. Sheldon pointed out the venue earned its spot among 2017's top-grossing venues despite not being open for the first three months of the year.

“We got started in April, so we let a few other venues have a head start. I think we were able to do all the things we wanted to accomplish in year one,” he said.

Next season, the New York Islanders will play 12 home games at NYCB Live, bringing a Long Island sports team back to its roots, said Gina Antoniello, communications manager for Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment.

Being able to announce earlier this year that the Islanders would return to the coliseum was one of the venue's bigger accomplishments, she said. “We’ll have 12 home games beginning this fall, and we’re splitting the season with Barclays Center.”

The arena was home to the Islanders from 1972 to 2015, the year the venue closed for renovations. The Islanders relocated to Barclays Center during the construction.

Also on the horizon is the new marketing campaign. Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment will work with outside ad companies as well as its in-house ad team on a campaign called "Long Island Love," advertising the venue on digital billboards, inside trains that run to and from New York City and across social media, Sheldon said.

“What we heard from our content providers is how great the experience is inside the building,” Sheldon said, highlighting how the community really enjoys the arena’s new “guest experience.”

“We want to let everyone know that Long Island is open for business. We wanted to figure out a way to bring the Long Island community” back into the venue, he said. 

Roughly an hour and a half east of NYCB Live in Suffolk County is a newly announced $1 billion development that includes plans for a 17,000-seat arena. It’s called the Ronkonkoma project and includes housing, retail and mixed-use development.

The announcement of the proposed new venue will not detour Sheldon and his team at NYCB Live, he said.

“These things pop up all the time,” Sheldon said. “As you think about it as a venue operator, you really can’t concern yourself on what might be coming down the line in the future. You have to ensure you have a great relationship with your content community and ensure you’re creating great platforms in the coliseum.”


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Rangers’ Dilly Dog Goes Boom
 
Posted: 11 Apr 2018, 12:45 pm

The Dilly Dog — a dill pickle filled with an Angus beef hot dog, fried like a corndog and served on a stick — is selling at a rate of more than 800 for every Rangers game. (Courtesy Delaware North Sportservice)

Casey Rapp knew he had a concession-stand hit even before the Texas Rangers opened the Major League Baseball season, when the team’s new Dilly Dog started popping up in posts on Twitter and Facebook.

But when Rapp, general manager of Delaware North Sportservice Arlington at Globe Life Park, saw lines stretching an hour long to buy the new $10 ballpark delicacy in the opening days of the season, he knew the Dilly Dog was no novelty.

“You never really know until the fans and media get ahold of it,” he said. There’s a race among concessionaires to develop crazy, headline-making food items, but “when you truly find a hit, it surpasses the craziness and actually tastes good, so people are buying it more than once.”

Now the Dilly Dog has expanded to a second location in the park, and the club is selling more than 800 a game.

The Dilly Dog capitalizes on the popularity of Bud Light’s “Dilly Dilly” catchphrase, but with good reason. The item — a dill pickle cored out and filled with an Angus beef hot dog, fried like a corndog and served on a stick — was born from thinking bigger.

Rapp’s team saw a posting on food website Delish that paired mini-hot dogs with pickles on a slider. “We love to Texas-size it and tweak it and make it our own,” Rapp said. “What if we went with a whole hot dog, whole dill pickle and put it on a stick, which is great for a ballpark because it is portable?”

They made it part of the menu at the State Fare concession stand on the park’s main concourse, with Bud Light close at hand, and the clever Dilly Dog was born.

After Sportservice publicized the menu item before the season “and we saw it on Twitter and Facebook, we knew the Dilly Dog was going to be a hit,” he said. “Even then, we were thinking 100 a game.” They sold nearly 500 for the Rangers’ home opener March 29, with the line an hour long the entire game. They prepped more and the dog’s popularity grew, sending the Rangers up to 650 of the $10 Dilly Dogs a game by the end of the initial four-game homestand.

The Rangers used the short road trip to turn a wings-only stand into a Dilly Dog-only stand in Section 9. They returned home April 6 and were selling more than 800 of the dogs each of the next three games. With the State Fare stand — known for crazy dessert combinations, such as the new cinnamon roll funnel cake — and the Dilly-only stand, the Rangers now have the dog on both sides of the park.

The trickiest part of making the Dilly Dog comes in the coring of the pickle. But for a team that prides itself on fresh-made items, as long as the pickle stays intact, Rapp said, stuffing in the hot dog and rolling it in batter with a stick isn’t that different from making any other corn dog. To give the item a bit of extra local flare, Rapp uses Best Maid pickles from Mansfield, Texas, about 15 miles from the stadium and hot dogs from Texas Chili Co., a 65-year-old Fort Worth-based company.

Rapp isn’t ready to add a third stand yet. He doesn’t want to overdo it and oversaturate the park with the item, instead hoping to work with Anheuser-Busch for a special Dilly Dog and Bug Light combo. He has considered turning the Dilly-only stand into a more customizable experience and letting fans add beef brisket, nacho cheese or something else, saying the “top your own Dilly Dog” may come next if sales continue as their current pace.

Typically, Delaware North Sportservice Arlington gives new items—they break out about 15 each season—until the All-Star break to see how they do, before switching out low-performing menu choices. The Dilly Dog has already made the cut, and may join the team’s Boomstick Dog as a phenom that becomes a legend.

The Boomstick was born in 2012, a 2-foot-long hot dog priced at $26. The item, meant to be shared, took off and was selling in five locations at 1,000 a game. It lives on (now at $27) at a Globe Life Park “24” stand with a handful of 24-inch-long items, highlighted by the Boomstick.

“The Boomstick, the Dilly Dog,” Rapp said, “those items are here to stay.”


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HOT TICKETS FOR APRIL 12, 2018
 
Posted: 10 Apr 2018, 10:40 pm

Bruno Mars accepts the award for Album of the Year during the 60th annual Grammy Awards at Madison Square Garden. (Photo by Christopher Polk/Getty Images for NARAS)

Grammy star Bruno Mars continues to be 24-karat gold with two shows down under topping both the 15,000-plus-capacity and the 10,001-15,000-capacity Hot Tickets charts this week. Mars’ dates at Qudos Bank Arena in Sydney grossed $9,260,448, with attendance of 88,592, and a ticket range of $79.03-$458.76. His show at Perth Arena grossed $3,471,924, with attendance of 29,434, and ticket range of $81.16 -$144.82. Both shows were produced by Live Nation.

Latin star Luis Miguel shined at Auditorio Telmex in Zapopan, Mexico, with four shows grossing $3,334,415, attendance of 35,339, and a ticket range of $19.18-$273.40. Miguel’s OCESA/CIE-promoted show will land at the Hollywood Bowl on May 4.

HOT TICKETS is a weekly summary of top events as reported to VNPulse via Pollstar. Following are the top 20 concerts and events, the top 5 in each attendance category, that took place Mar. 13-Apr. 10.

More Than 15,000 Attendance

10,001-15,000 Attendance

5,001-10,000 Attendance

5,000 or Less Attendance

1) Bruno Mars
Gross Sales:
$9,260,448; Venue: Qudos Bank Arena, Sydney; Attendance: 88,592; Ticket Range: $458.76-$79.03; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Mar. 17-24; No. of Shows: 5

2) Phil Collins
Gross Sales: $5,306,972; Venue: Estadio Nacional, Santiago, Chile; Attendance: 50,935; Ticket Range: $584.50-$53.44; Promoter: DG Medios y Espectaculos; Dates: Mar. 15; No. of Shows: 1

3) Pink
Gross Sales: $4,232,111; Venue: Air Canada Centre, Toronto; Attendance: 32,238; Ticket Range: $206.20-$47.40; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Mar. 20-21; No. of Shows: 2

4) Depeche Mode
Gross Sales: $4,081,461; Venue: Estadio Nacional, Santiago, Chile; Attendance: 47,668; Ticket Range: $266.09-$53.22; Promoter: DG Medios y Espectaculos; Dates: Mar. 2; No. of Shows: 1

5) Justin Timberlake
Gross Sales: $3,533,604; Venue: Air Canada Centre, Toronto; Attendance: 32,142; Ticket Range: $218.34-$43.67; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Mar. 13-15; No. of Shows: 2

1) Bruno Mars
Gross Sales: $3,471,924; Venue: Perth (Australia) Arena; Attendance: 29,434; Ticket Range: $144.82-$81.16; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Mar. 28-29; No. of Shows: 2

2) Michael McIntyre
Gross Sales: $1,514,542; Venue: The Motorpoint Arena Nottingham, Nottingham, England; Attendance: 30,009; Ticket Range: $77.98-$49.62; Promoter: Off The Kerb Productions; Dates: Mar. 22-25; No. of Shows: 4

3) Luke Bryan
Gross Sales: $1,415,200; Venue: Rod Laver Arena, Melbourne, Australia; Attendance: 12,366; Ticket Range: $138.95-$76.85; Promoter: Chugg Entertainment, Rob Potts Entertainment Edge; Dates: Mar. 20; No. of Shows: 1

4) "Marvel Universe Live!"
Gross Sales: $1,358,069; Venue: NYCB Live home of The Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, Uniondale, N.Y.; Attendance: 31,250; Ticket Range: $150-$35; Promoter: Feld Entertainment; Dates: Mar. 22-28; No. of Shows: 10

5) Sam Smith
Gross Sales: $1,319,492; Venue: The SSE Hydro, Glasgow, Scotland; Attendance: 21,969; Ticket Range: $70.18-$38.99; Promoter: DF Concerts; Dates: Mar. 23-24; No. of Shows: 2

1) Luis Miguel
Gross Sales: $3,334,415; Venue: Auditorio Telmex, Zapopan, Mexico; Attendance: 35,339; Ticket Range: $273.40-$19.18; Promoter: OCESA / CIE; Dates: Mar. 17-22; No. of Shows: 4

2) André Rieu
Gross Sales: $2,853,218; Venue: Auditorio Nacional, Mexico City; Attendance: 57,720; Ticket Range: $217.44-$27.18; Promoter: Andre Leon Marie Nicolas, André Rieu Productions B.V.; Dates: Mar. 20-25; No. of Shows: 6

3) Jennifer Lopez
Gross Sales: $1,965,630; Venue: Zappos Theater At Planet Hollywood, Las Vegas; Attendance: 10,385; Ticket Range: $412-$54; Promoter: Caesars Entertainment Inc.; Dates: Apr. 4-7; No. of Shows: 3

4) "Paw Patrol Live!"
Gross Sales: $1,748,236; Venue: Hulu Theater At Madison Square Garden, New York; Attendance: 29,030; Ticket Range: $80-$30; Promoter: MSG Live, Vstar Entertainment Group; Dates: Mar. 22-25; No. of Shows: 9

5) Eddie Vedder
Gross Sales: $1,442,315; Venue: Citibank Hall, Sao Paulo; Attendance: 12,117; Ticket Range: $258.13-$26.40; Promoter: T4F - Time For Fun; Dates: Mar. 28-29; No. of Shows: 3

1) "Springsteen On Broadway"
Gross Sales: $1,924,820; Venue: Walter Kerr Theatre, New York; Attendance: 3,792; Ticket Range: $850-$75; Promoter: Thrill Hill Productions; Dates: Mar. 14-17; No. of Shows: 4

2) Shen Yun Performing Arts
Gross Sales: $1,505,070; Venue: Rosemont Theatre, Rosemont, Ill.; Attendance: 13,731; Ticket Range: $200-$80; Promoter: In-house Promotion, Mid-USA Falun Dafa Association; Dates: Mar. 21-25; No. of Shows: 7

3) "Waitress"
Gross Sales: $1,273,977; Venue: Belk Theater, Charlotte, N.C.; Attendance: 16,912; Ticket Range: $175-$25; Promoter: Blumenthal Performing Arts; Dates: Mar. 13-18; No. of Shows: 8

4) "The Color Purple"
Gross Sales: $1,212,438; Venue: Peace Center Concert Hall, Greenville, S.C.; Attendance: 14,464; Ticket Range: $95-$35; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Mar. 13-18; No. of Shows: 8

5) "Les Misérables"
Gross Sales: $1,165,198; Venue: Overture Hall, Madison, Wis.; Attendance: 17,534; Ticket Range: $135-$35; Promoter: Broadway Across America; Dates: Apr. 3-8; No. of Shows: 8

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

 


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Vegas Convention Center Expansion Design Unveiled
 
Posted: 9 Apr 2018, 8:00 pm

Architects have submitted their designs for the phase two expansion of the Las Vegas Convention Center.

More...


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First Look at Wrigley Premium Areas
 
Posted: 9 Apr 2018, 12:00 pm

The American Airlines 1914 Club is 7,200 square feet of premium space beneath the Wrigley Field stands. The last photo shows one of the six new bunker suites. (Photos by Don Muret)

Major League Baseball's Chicago Cubs christened a new home plate club for their home opener at Wrigley Field on Tuesday, redefining the premium experience at the 104-year-old ballpark.

VenuesNow got a first look at the American Airlines 1914 Club, the official name of the 7,200-square-foot space. Club access goes to ticket holders for about 600 seats in the first seven rows between the dugouts. Those patrons pay roughly $400 to $700 a ticket per game, which covers the cost of food and drink, including beer, wine and hard liquor.

The club seats sold out, to a mix of existing season-ticket holders and new buyers, said Crane Kenney, the team’s president of business operations.

The Cubs spent the past year excavating beneath the stands before completing construction this offseason. Populous designed the space with finishes inspired by famed Chicago architect Louis Sullivan, who worked with Zachary Taylor Davis, Wrigley Field’s original architect.

“Literally, this was Lake Michigan beach sand," at the time the ballpark opened in 1914, Kenney said. “We took 12,000 tons of sand out of here in one offseason. We had a dump truck leaving here every 10 minutes for 40 days to dig out this hole. That’s where this space came from, which is a marvel to some degree on an engineering front.”

The club includes a pizza kitchen plus a grab-and-go format with stocked refrigerators near the exits where fans walk outdoors and up a flight of stairs to get to their seats. The Cubs’ research showed that fans loved the prime seat locations, but they just want “more baseball,” which means quicker trips to the restrooms as well as food they can bring back to their seats without waiting in line, said Colin Faulkner, the Cubs’ senior vice president of sales and marketing.

The club also features a small merchandise stand carrying items exclusive to those patrons. It’s the only time they reach for their wallet to make a purchase. Everything else is paid for in advance, Faulkner said.

In addition, the Cubs built six bunker suites flanking the club. Those suites, which cost $1 million a year and carry 10-year terms, include eight seats in the first two rows behind home plate. As of today, one suite remains for sale, Faulkner said.

The Cubs plan to build three more clubs during the next two years to complete a $600 million makeover that began in 2012.

The clubs were originally supposed to open Monday, but snow pushed the Cubs' home opener to Tuesday.


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2012 October Digital Magazine- Centerplate Wrap
 
Posted: 5 Apr 2018, 6:00 pm
 

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New-look outfield for Phillies
 
Posted: 3 Apr 2018, 10:00 am

A rendering shows "The Yard," which includes a whiffle ball version of Philadelphia's Citizens Bank Park and other attractions for kids. (Courtesy Philadelphia Phillies)

Major League Baseball’s Philadelphia Phillies have revamped their outfield attractions at Citizens Bank Park, creating a new kids zone in right field and relocating Bull’s BBQ to left-center, providing greater visibility to the stadium’s signature food destination.

The Phillies invested $30 million for the retrofit as the ballpark enters its 15th season of operation, said John Weber, the team’s vice president of ticket sales and operations. They worked with acclaimed ballpark developer Janet Marie Smith and architects DAIQ, EwingCole and Metcalfe Architecture & Design. EwingCole was part of the original design team.

Citizens Bank Park becomes the seventh MLB ballpark that Smith has worked on over the course of 30 years, dating back before the opening of Oriole Park at Camden Yards in 1992.

The improvements were driven by the team’s desire to improve the fan experience at Phillies games by increasing the number of social gathering spaces as well as to celebrate the team’s history, Weber said. The upgrades represent the first phase of a three-year project for refreshing what is now the National League East’s oldest facility.

The centerpiece of the renovations is “The Yard” in left field, part of the outfield Ashburn Alley area, named for hall of famer Richie Ashburn since the ballpark opened in 2004. It’s now a whiffle ball field modeled after Citizens Bank Park, complete with scaled-down versions of the dugouts, scoreboard and outfield walls and the Liberty Bell sign. A speed pitch attraction, a climbing zone, a hot dog launcher similar to the one operated by the Phillie Phanatic and an ice cream stand are also part of the new attractions.

In its new location in left-center, Bull’s BBQ, named after former Phillies slugger Greg Luzinski and run by Aramark, gets a fresh look. It’s now one of the first things fans see to their right as they enter the ballpark from the left-field gate, Weber said.

As part of expanding the operation there, the Phillies converted a suite patio one level above the BBQ stand into a sit-down dining area. The patio, which had been used for pregame gatherings, does not have views to the game. Fans stay connected by watching the action on new televisions installed in that space, Weber said.

In addition, the Phillies upgraded spaces behind the scoreboard and batter’s eye in center field and the left-field plaza entrance, where the Toyota Phillies Wall of Fame now resides, featuring the team’s World Series trophies and retired numbers of players such as Richie Ashburn, Mike Schmidt and Steve Carlton.

The team also removed a wall behind the batter’s eye to eliminate congestion in Ashburn Alley, Weber said.

To develop more social spaces, the Phillies created a standing-room area in the right-field corner by removing 480 seats in sections 106 and 107 and installing drink rails in those areas. Those seats were the last to sell in the ballpark, and there could be more standing-room areas to come in future phases, pending additional research, Weber said.

On the premium level, the three Bill Giles Party Suites down the left-field line, named for the Phillies’ chairman emeritus, have been renovated to include glass walls where fans now have views to the city. The suites, a single-game buy, accommodate groups of 40 to 70 people. This season’s price is $6,000 a game, which breaks down to $150 a ticket for a group of 40 for the all-inclusive package. The Phillies reduced the cost this year from last year’s $175 a person to drive use, Weber said.

The Phillies’ home opener is Thursday against the Miami Marlins.


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VenuesNow Conference Set
 
Posted: 29 Mar 2018, 9:00 am

Focusing on venue-centric content, the second annual VenuesNow Conference will take place June 19-20 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, Calif., after last year’s successful inaugural event.

"Last year we succeeded in our goal to host a conference unlike any in our industry, focusing on innovation and positive disruption in the venue space through premier content, technology, security, branding and sponsorships, fan engagement, and the presentation of sports and live entertainment,” said Tim Leiweke, CEO of Oak View Group, which organizes the event. “The speakers and presenters at VenuesNow will once again be an elite group of thought leaders and visionaries across this dynamic industry. This year we look forward to taking deep dives into some of the most exciting and innovative projects and companies across our industry, with the stakeholders and rainmakers behind them."

Content at the conference will reflect that of the relaunched VenuesNow magazine, also owned by Oak View Group, focusing on sports, entertainment events, technology, event safety, concessions, ticketing, operations and programming.

Speakers and sessions for this year’s conference are forthcoming. Last year’s included live entertainment mainstays such as Red Light Management’s Coran Capshaw and Ticketmaster’s Jared Smith.

VenuesNow Conference 2018 will focus on major projects around the world, with case studies, keynotes and Q&As.

The conference also includes several networking opportunities, including breakout sessions, lunches and cocktail receptions.

OVG, parent company of Pollstar, is also behind the Pollstar Live! Conference & Awards, which enjoyed record attendance at its most recent edition Feb. 6-8 in Los Angeles.

"As we continue to realize the synergies and opportunities for our Media & Conferences division and what the industry needs and expects from our publications and events, we will see Pollstar and VenuesNow each focus more intently on their core value propositions, specifically content for Pollstar and venues and venue-related issues for VenuesNow," said Ray Waddell, president of Oak View Group’s Media & Conferences division. "While these two sectors are inexorably linked, each have their own challenges and opportunities, and we will continue to give the venues and venue partners content and information unavailable elsewhere."

For more information visit www.VenuesNowConference.com.


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Pappas Joins National Shows 2
 
Posted: 29 Mar 2018, 3:00 am


Nashville-based National Shows 2 has added talent buyer Taki Pappas to its staff.
Pappas originally started in the music business at Live Nation.

After working over 13 years with PACE Touring, Avalon Attractions, SFX Touring, Clear Channel Entertainment, Pappas most recently served as the director of programming, concerts and comedy at the Durham (N.C.) Performing Arts Center.

 


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Broncos Looking To Repurpose Parking Lots
 
Posted: 29 Mar 2018, 2:00 am

The Denver Broncos are exploring options to replace up to half of their stadium's parking with a mixed-use development.

The city of Denver and the Broncos are moving ahead with plans to renovate up to 52 acres, one half of Broncos' stadium's parking lots, and transform it into an entertainment district.

The city planning commission, Metropolitan Football Stadium District and
team officials last week unveiled a master plan for the south side of the stadium to gauge community support.

“What we announced last week was a vision for what could be done with the land,” said Brad Buchanan, Denver planning and development executive director.

The master plan calls for the redevelopment to be carried out in phases over the next seven to 10 years.

The space would be "fan-friendly, with bars, restaurants, retail, offices, a hotel and other game-day draws, as well as housing and other potential components,” he said.

The current parking would be moved to another spot. Buchanan said the opening up of the space for new uses would help offset costs of improvements to keep the building modern.

“This is really going to create a whole new fan experience,” he said. “It’s fresh, smart, and what the fans want these days.”

Building on the south side of the stadium was first brought up in 2013 but stalled several times. The current push has more supporters, but still faces many hurdles before it actually gets the official go-ahead.

“We anticipate some sort of mixed-use development for that site that focuses on game-day experience,” Buchanan said. “We need to bring in the neighbors and other stake holders.”

The existing zoning does not allow for anything other than a parking structure.

“The stadium district and the Broncos are asking for a rezoning of the land,” Buchanan said. “Our job is to make sure that meets the goals of the city and what we want on that site as a community.”

Matt Sugar, the director of stadium affairs for the stadium district, said: “Our mandate is make sure the taxpayer money is spent on things that benefit the community. The Metropolitan Football Stadium District, the Sun Valley neighborhood and the Denver Broncos have a long history. This effort is a promising step towards realizing the potential of this side of the stadium.”

Sugar said that ever since light rail service was expanded to the stadium, the city and the district have been eyeing repurposing the land. “The city is leading the charge, and it’s going to be a long process.”

Long-term lease agreements between the city and the stadium district would have to be renegotiated. “The city seems interested in developing the land, and we agree that the time has come to explore our options. This is one way we can put money back into the stadium,” said Sugar.

Sugar said the area had been “significantly ignored for a long time and to inject new money into that area would be good for everyone."

“It's a plan that has guiding principals and defines the vision of the area,” Buchanan said. “Realistically we are years away, but this is a major step.”

 

 

 


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Report Lauds Manchester Arena Personnel
 
Posted: 28 Mar 2018, 7:00 pm

A police officer leads people from Manchester  (U.K.) Arena after a bombing at an Ariana Grande concert May 22, 2017. (Getty Images)

An independent review of the response to the bomb attack at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester last May praised personnel from arena operator SMG and security and crowd management firm Showsec.

The attack in a foyer outside Manchester Arena on May 22 killed 22 people plus the bomber and injured more than 500.

The review focuses on the response in the nine days that followed the attack and concludes that “there is a lot to be proud of in the response, both for the city-region of Greater Manchester and its emergency services.” The results were published Tuesday.

SMG had a security staff of about 140 on duty at the concert, 30 of whom were full-time security and the remainder stewards employed by Showsec. As people were leaving the arena when the bomb detonated just after 10:30 p.m., the duty manager decided to allow the audience to continue to exit, believing it to be the safest option.

“Within the first few minutes after the explosion, the duty manager instructed Showsec stewards in the Arena bowl to close the aisles nearest to the foyer exit and for the stewards on the concourse to position themselves to divert concert goers in order, as far as possible, to avoid the public having to witness the scenes in the foyer,” the report said.

Emergency Training UK is responsible for first aid during events at the arena. Despite not receiving an all-clear signal from the duty manager, “all thirteen Emergency Training staff, two Emergency Medical Technicians and eleven first aiders either went to the foyer, where the director started a triage process, or otherwise supported those attending to the injured in the foyer. They were soon joined by SMG staff with first aid training, first aid kits and equipment (stretchers and carry chairs) and by BTP officers from the station.”

By 11 p.m. all guests and staff had been evacuated, apart from casualties and staff in the arena control room.

“Based on everything seen and heard, the Panel believes that staff at the Arena made a positive difference and that, without their contributions, the response would have been diminished. The Panel recognizes that SMG, Showsec and EMT-UK personnel went above and beyond their roles to provide humanitarian assistance,” the report said.

Other positives in the report include a well-prepared emergency response team that acted quickly and brave arena and members of the public. Negative included delays in the arrival of fire and rescue units and the failure of Vodafone’s National Mutual Aid Telephony system, for which Vodafone has apologized.

Bob Kerslake, former head of the Civil Service, was chairman of the review panel, which Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham established.

This story originally appeared on Pollstar.com.


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Pacers Bring In Van Wagner
 
Posted: 28 Mar 2018, 5:00 pm

Bankers Life Fieldhouse, once known as Conseco Fieldhouse, has been home to the Indiana Pacers since 1999. (Courtesy Pacers Sports & Entertainment)

The NBA’s Indiana Pacers have hired Van Wagner Sports & Entertainment to sell naming rights for their arena, and the agency is seeking a partner to pay potentially more than double the deal in place at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

CNO Financial Group, parent company of insurance group Bankers Life, announced two weeks ago that it would not renew its 20-year, $40-million deal signed in 1999, the year the arena opened. At the time, Conseco Fieldhouse was the name of the facility. It was rebranded as Bankers Life Fieldhouse in 2011, one year after Conseco Inc. changed its name to CNO.

The current agreement expires June 30, 2019, said Rick Fuson, president and chief operating officer for Pacers Sports & Entertainment, the Pacers’ parent company.

Chris Allphin, Van Wagner senior vice president of team and venue services, said the situation is ripe for reselling naming rights for a building kept in top condition over the years by Pacers Sports & Entertainment, parent company of the Pacers and WNBA Fever. The arena, originally designed by the old Ellerbe Becket and built by hometown firm Hunt Construction (both now part of AECOM) for $185 million, stands out as the first retro-themed NBA venue, paying homage to Indiana’s storied hoops history.

“The arena is in wonderful shape and looks more like it’s five years old instead of turning 20 years old,” Allphin said. “It’s located in a business-friendly market where everybody loves basketball.”

The city has gained some momentum. In addition to being named host for the 2021 NBA All-Star Game, Indianapolis continues to grow, Fuson said, and it’s on Seattle-based Amazon’s list of 20 finalists for the company’s second headquarters.

Van Wagner has received multiple calls from companies showing interest in acquiring naming rights after CNO Financial Group made its announcement. The agency has had some initial talks with candidates, although Allphin would not identify the prospects.

Tech firm Salesforce, which has a major office in Indianapolis and recently bought naming rights to the Chase Tower downtown, was mentioned as a potential candidate for the arena’s naming rights, according to the Indianapolis Business Journal. Salesforce is among the Pacers’ business partners, in addition to locally based Eli Lilly, plus KeyBank, U.S. Foods and others, Fuson said.

“They’re all part of the landscape here,” he said, without giving further details on which brands may be in play for naming rights. “This building is as busy as anyplace in the country. We had 32 concerts last year, along with Big Ten and NCAA events. We’re all looking forward to the next generation of this arena.”

Van Wagner has targeted Golden 1 Center’s naming-rights deal as a benchmark for a new deal in Indianapolis, Allphin said. In 2015, the Sacramento Kings signed a deal with Golden 1, California’s largest credit union, which is paying the team $6 million a year over 20 years. Allphin also mentioned the Milwaukee Bucks’ attempt to sell naming rights for $7 million a year for their new arena as another benchmark. To date, no deal has been signed in Milwaukee for the $525-million arena, set to open in late summer.

Both arenas are much newer than Bankers Life Fieldhouse, and all three venues sit in midsize NBA markets, but the value of naming rights has escalated over the past two decades because of the growth of digital media and social media channels, according to sports marketers.

Some industry experts think Van Wagner may be setting its expectations too high for a smaller-market arena that has already had two names.

“There is no guarantee of that much of an increase since it is not a major market or a highly visible franchise,” said Rob Yowell, president of Gemini Sports Group. “This would also be the third name on the building, so I’d expect $3 million to $3.5 million a year for naming rights. If they are smart, they combine it with the jersey patch [which the Pacers have not sold to date] and increase the value of the package and make it more attractive."

Allphin leads the sales effort for Van Wagner, assisted by Jeff Knapple, the firm’s president and CEO and among the leading brokers of naming rights. Kyle Folts, on the analytics side, and Matt Wikstrom, formerly with Wasserman, are also working on the deal for Van Wagner.

Van Wagner’s recent naming-rights projects include SunTrust Park in suburban Atlanta and U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. All told, the agency has consulted on deals worth nearly $3 billion over the past 20 years, which includes agreements Allphin and Knapple worked on for other companies.


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Elegance On The Ice
 
Posted: 28 Mar 2018, 9:00 am

Ryan Bradley performs a backflip during his performance at Numerica Credit Union’s Winter Ice Gala at Town Toyota Center in Wenatchee, Wash. (Photo by Digital Media Northwest)

A small arena in Washington state has found a festive way to show off the venue and help more young people skate.

Toyota Center in Wenatchee, Wash., held its annual Numerica Credit Union’s Winter Ice Gala on March 16. More than 200 attendees sat at tables by the ice, enjoyed a four-course dinner and watched Olympic, professional and youth skaters perform.

“We started the gala in 2013,” said Jennifer Bushong, the center’s vice president of marketing and sales. “Skating director Louise Kapeikis and I put our heads together to showcase the facility and bring skating to the forefront, while also raising money for kids who can’t afford to skate.”

About 2,500 invitations went out, and tickets were $125 a person. The gala was promoted on local radio and in regional newspapers.

The gala showcases youth ice skating and raises funds for the Arena Youth Enrichment Fund held by the Community Foundation of North Central Washington. The fund, established in 2012, provides underprivileged youths with the opportunity to learn to skate or attend a show. This year’s event has raised nearly $20,000 for youth ice skating and netted $10,000 for the venue, and Bushong said donations were continuing to come in.

In the past four years, more than $80,000 has been awarded to area schools and nonprofits benefiting hundreds of students.

Numerica Credit Union pays $13,000 for its sponsorship and offers volunteer labor. Bushong said 20 to 25 volunteers helping with the event, in addition to the venue’s full-time staff of 10.

Olympic alpine skier Tom Rothrock attended as an honored guest at this year’s fundraiser, and 2006 U.S. Olympic team member and world champion figure skater Kimmie Meissner performed. The event also featured 2011 U.S. champion Ryan Bradley and Liam Kapeikis, a member of the Wenatchee Figure Skating Club who won the bronze medal in the men’s intermediate division at nationals this year. Musical performers also took part in the show, and Miss Washington 2017, Nicole Renard, emceed the event.

“We bring in big names in figure skating, along with guest favorites,” said Kapeikis. “We add new skaters to the cast each year, and the main cast is made up of our local figure skating club.”

Town Toyota Center, which opened in 2008 and has 4,200 seats, recently announced naming rights for its dedicated skating rink, adjacent to the main arena. A local internet, television and phone services provider, iFiber Communications, signed an agreement in January for $45,000 with a suite sponsorship for a three-year term.

“Even though we are in a small market, we have great sponsors and support,” Bushong said. “We are creating more events than ever, including the gala and a rodeo, and continue to increase attendance.”


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HOT TICKETS FOR MARCH 29, 2018
 
Posted: 27 Mar 2018, 11:00 am

Robbie Williams had a strong showing in Sydney.

Two shows from Down Under made our Hot Tickets chart this week.

Robbie Williams at Qudos Bank Arena in Sydney Feb. 28-March 1 grossed $2,764,382, with an attendance of 21,686; The Cafe Royal / Chugg Entertainment-promoted shows had a ticket price range of $76 to nearly $460.

Also making waves in Australia, fresh from his Grammy wins, Bruno Mars continued to set records with his 24K tour. A stop at Brisbane Entertainment Centre in Boondall grossed $3,021,166 over March 14-15. Ticket range was $78.16-$140.77 at the Live Nation-promoted show.

HOT TICKETS is a weekly summary of the top events and ticket sales as reported to VNPulse via Pollstar and ranked by gross sales. Following are the top 20 concerts and events, the top 5 in each attendance category, that took place Feb. 27-March 27.

More Than 15,000 Attendance

10,001-15,000 Attendance

5,001-10,000 Attendance

5,000 or Less Attendance

1) JJ Lin
Gross Sales:
$3,240,175; Venue: Mercedes-Benz Arena, Shanghai; Attendance: 23,292; Ticket Range: $266.82-$60.35; Promoter: Shanghai Mulight Culture Company; Dates: Mar. 17-18; No. of Shows: 2

2) Robbie Williams
Gross Sales: $2,764,382; Venue: Qudos Bank Arena, Sydney; Attendance: 21,686; Ticket Range: $457.08-$76.05; Promoter: Cafe Royal, Chugg Entertainment; Dates: Feb. 28 - Mar. 1; No. of Shows: 2

3) Cirque du Soleil - "Corteo"
Gross Sales: $1,975,349; Venue: Toyota Center, Houston; Attendance: 26,159; Ticket Range: $130-$57; Promoter: Cirque du Soleils; Dates: Mar. 8-11; No. of Shows: 6

4) Kendrick Lamar
Gross Sales: $1,786,294; Venue: Telenor Arena, Fornebu, Norway; Attendance: 21,653; Ticket Range: $116.67-$58.33; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Mar. 2; No. of Shows: 1

5) The Script;
Gross Sales: $1,671,430; Venue: Ziggo Dome, Amsterdam; Attendance: 32,476; Ticket Range: $27.72-$18.20; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Mar. 15-16; No. of Shows: 2

1) Bruno Mars
Gross Sales: $3,021,166; Venue: Brisbane Entertainment Centre, Boondall, Australia; Attendance: 26,649; Ticket Range: $140.77-$78.16; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Mar. 14-15; No. of Shows: 2

2) Queen + Adam Lambert
Gross Sales: $1,741,181; Venue: Perth (Australia) Arena; Attendance: 12,720; Ticket Range: $193.86-$88.23; Promoter: TEG Dainty; Dates: Mar. 6; No. of Shows: 1

3) Pink
Gross Sales: $1,647,787; Venue: Intrust Bank Arena, Wichita, Kan.; Attendance: 11,894; Ticket Range: $225.45-$47.45; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Mar. 3; No. of Shows: 1

4) Blake Shelton
Gross Sales: $928,038; Venue: Bon Secours Wellness Arena, Greenville, S.C.; Attendance: 11,869; Ticket Range: $124-$54; Promoter: Messina Touring Group, AEG Presents; Dates: Mar. 9; No. of Shows: 1

5) Phil Collins
Gross Sales: $897,613; Venue: Arena VFG, Guadalajara, Mexico; Attendance: 8,774; Ticket Range: $47.84-$21.74; Promoter: OCESA / CIE; Dates: Mar. 7; No. of Shows: 1

1) Jennifer Lopez;
Gross Sales: $1,664,038; Venue: Zappos Theater At Planet Hollywood, Las Vegas; Attendance: 8,579; Ticket Range: $412-$54; Promoter: Caesars Entertainment Inc., Live Nation; Dates: Mar. 2-3; No. of Shows: 2

2) Luis Miguel
Gross Sales: $1,625,376; Venue: Auditorio Citibanamex, Monterrey, Mexico; Attendance: 13,440; Ticket Range: $217.44-$27.18; Promoter: Eventos Artisticos; Dates: Mar. 14-15; No. of Shows: 2

3) Bob Weir, Phil Lesh
Gross Sales: $1,332,575; Venue: Radio City Music Hall, New York; Attendance: 11,797; Ticket Range: $153.50-$63.50; Promoter: Dayglo Ventures; Dates: Mar. 2-3; No. of Shows: 2

4) "Apassionata";
Gross Sales: $698,895; Venue: Forest National, Brussels; Attendance: 14,585; Ticket Range: $53.36; Promoter: PSE Belgium; Dates: Mar. 3-4; No. of Shows: 3

5) Bad Bunny
Gross Sales: $478,149; Venue: Smart Financial Centre At Sugar Land, Sugar Land, Texas; Attendance: 6,286; Ticket Range: $139-$39; Promoter: Cardenas Marketing Network; Dates: Mar. 11; No. of Shows: 1

1) "Springsteen On Broadway”
Gross Sales: $2,396,015; Venue: Walter Kerr Theatre, New York; Attendance: 4,740; Ticket Range: $850-$75; Promoter: Thrill Hill Productions; Dates: Mar. 6-10; No. of Shows: 5

2) "A Gentleman's Guide To Love & Murder";
Gross Sales: $2,105,615; Venue: Fox Theatre, Atlanta; Attendance: 29,812; Ticket Range: $150.50-$30; Promoter: Broadway Across America; Dates: Mar. 13-18; No. of Shows: 8

3) Kenny Chesney
Gross Sales: $1,221,750; Venue: The Joint @ Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, Las Vegas; Attendance: 8,146; Ticket Range: $150; Promoter: AEG Presents, Concerts West, Messina Touring Group; Dates: Mar. 16-17; No. of Shows: 2

4) Trevor Noah
Gross Sales: $616,248; Venue: Bellco Theatre, Denver; Attendance: 9,714; Ticket Range: $95-$45; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Mar. 3; No. of Shows: 2

5) Joaquin Sabina
Gross Sales: $525,980; Venue: James L. Knight Center, Miami; Attendance: 4,571; Ticket Range: $453-$56; Promoter: Emporio Group; Dates: Mar. 17; No. of Shows: 1

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

 


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Creativity Takes Center Stage at Convention Centers
 
Posted: 26 Mar 2018, 8:00 pm

The artwork installed at an increasing number of popular convention centers transforms these necessarily utilitarian buildings into magnificent galleries that rival some of the most inspired museums in the world.

More...


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$5 doughnuts, $20 lobster roll on baseball menus
 
Posted: 26 Mar 2018, 2:00 pm

New at Safeco Field in Seattle this season: longbone beef ribs, available at Centerplate's Holy Smoke BBQ. (Courtesy Centerplate)

Centerplate’s marinated and toasted grasshoppers at Safeco Field in Seattle were all the rage for the 2017 Major League Baseball season. The grasshoppers return for 2018 and, along with them, dozens of new concession items across North American MLB stadiums.

“We are a very competitive business and we are trying to differentiate ourselves from everybody else,” said Steve Dominguez, general manager of Centerplate’s Safeco Field operations. “Sometimes it is a marinated grasshopper, sometimes it is a take on a great new item.”

Whether fresh On Deck Donuts ($8) with dipping sauce at Safeco; the Dilly Dog at Globe Life Park in Arlington, Texas, from Delaware North; Jane Dough Cookie Dough coming to three parks courtesy of Aramark; or Levy’s Cheeto-lote roasted sweet corn at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, every stadium has a mixture of new items rotating into the 81-game home schedule from spring through summer.

“We want to be relevant in the Seattle community,” Dominguez said about the effort to find something new. “Mariners fans are looking to us to be a leader. There is a lot of pressure. Sometimes it is a big win and sometimes we go back to the drawing board. We want to keep ourselves in front of it and relevant.”

In Seattle, Dominguez and chef Taylor Park said they have wanted to pull off doughnuts, a Pike Place Market staple, for a while. They brought the concept in-house and paired the mini doughnuts and jumbo doughnut bites with dipping sauces, including maple syrup and bacon.

Beyond that, Park added a lobster roll ($20), upscaled his Sultan of Sandwiches ($13 each) stand with plenty of fresh, local meats sliced on site and added a new barbecue stand. Along with their own Holy Smoke BBQ stand featuring longbone beef ribs ($18.50) smoked for 16 hours, which uses Jack’s BBQ mopping sauce, Jack’s also has its own new stand opening in Safeco.

To add to the ribs, Park said they will serve classic mac and cheese as well as in-stadium baked biscuits and sausage gravy, an item meant to appeal to the day game crowd.

Every year chefs bring in new items, trading out ones that weren’t selling well. And with an 81-game season and a grazing clientele, Dominguez said, they need to view the offerings in light of what is already available. “We see ourselves as a 47,500-seat restaurant,” he said. “We have got to be sensitive to a $4 hot dog and a $20 lobster roll to capture everybody trying to have that same great experience.”

Around the League
Whether Levy, Aramark, Delaware North or others, local food trends and the effort to create crave-centric flavors drive new items.

“Food has become a major player in the fan experience and that increased role is a motivating factor for us to continue to enhance our menu offerings each season,” said Carl Mittleman, Aramark’s Sports and Entertainment division president. “Ballpark food has come a long way. In addition to doing the classics well, we’re focusing on driving quality, increasing healthy options, making it convenient and providing personalization for our guests.”

• Globe Life Park and Delaware North debut the Dilly Dog with a Best Maid dill pickle cored and stuffed with an angus beef jumbo dog and then battered and fried. With one of the largest offerings of new items, also expect a bacon, brisket and bologna roll; iced cinnamon roll; a Lays Home Plate Chicken Sandwich with a full-size chicken breast split and crusted in Lays Original chips; a Rold Gold Waffle Cone; vegan nachos; ham cut into sticks, battered and fried until crisp; fried pickle spears; and a hot dog wrapped in bacon, covered with Cheetos cheese sauce and topped with spicy jalapenos and crunchy Cheetos.

• The Spec-Tater comes to Sun Trust Park, Atlanta. This jumbo potato from Delaware North gets stuffed with jalapeno cheddar sauce and wrapped in bacon.

• Comerica Park, Detroit, will roll out deep-fried apple pie filled with won ton wraps. Delaware North will also offer up a similar item with Nutella. A new Ode to Detroit Dog features brisket chili and habanero queso cheese sauce.

• Great American Ball Park, Cincinnati, offers up the Queen City Fried Garlic Bologna along with a pulled pork Smokehouse Bowl with mac & cheese atop a fried tortilla shell. The Delaware North venue also features a waffle cone wrapped in cotton candy.

• Miller Park, Milwaukee, and Delaware North roll out pierogis with polish sausage.

• Get ready for a staple in St. Louis since 1918 to hit Busch Stadium. The Gioia’s Hot Salami Sandwich, a James Beard Award-winning eat, comes into the Delaware North venue.

• Target Field, Minneapolis, and Delaware North offer up a Za’tar Spiced Chicken Skewer at Andrew Zimmern’s Canteen.

• Guaranteed Rate Field, Chicago, brings out a Cuban burger, via Delaware North.

• Kauffman Stadium, Kansas City, explores a smoked barbecue brisket taco ($12). On the sandwich side, expect the Aramark building to offer up a grilled chicken Philly and jalapeno and cheddar kielbasa.

• Coors Field, Denver, and Aramark show off a chicken taco topped with salsa verde and purple slaw. Expect to also find a Rocky Mountain Po’boy with Rocky Mountain oysters, a Taco Club sandwich and an extreme hot dog topped with Carolina-style pulled pork, crumbled bacon bits and purple slaw. The Rockies Fritters dessert features fried purple berry fritters with a sweet rum glaze.

• PNC Park, Pittsburgh, and Aramark have created a Pulled Pork Pierogi Hoagie ($9), a new breaded Nashville hot chicken taco, a Greens and Grains salad and a chick pea salad.

• The Texas Cheese Steak ($11) at Minute Maid Park, Houston, has Aramark slow-smoking pork and smothering it with queso atop a pretzel roll. Chefs will also pull pork topped with pineapple for a new taco. The new Jane Dough Cookie Dough shows up, too.

• Rogers Centre, Toronto, has Korean beef tacos, a new smoked beef brisket sandwich with blood orange barbecue sauce, a Log Cabin Waffle Sandwich ($15) stuffed with pulled pork, cheese curds and maple baked beans on rosemary waffles and vegan nachos. The Aramark venue also will feature Jane Dough Cookie Dough  ($5-$9).

• Fenway Park, Boston, has added a housemade pastry cream and chocolate ganache with Vermont maple syrup and Fenway Farm’s strawberry sauce over French Toast ($15). Also expect Aramark to offer a seasoned pulled chicken taco.

• Citizens Bank Park, Cleveland, and Aramark have a new fried chicken sandwich on a brioche bun to go with house smoked brisket for a new taco. A vegan roasted cauliflower cheesesteak includes peppers, onions, vegan cheese sauce and a vegan roll. Jane Dough Cookie Dough comes to Cleveland.

• Citi Field, New York, and Aramark brings Maine lobster topped with sharp jack cheese, avocado salsa, citrus slaw and queso for its new South Bay Lobster Tacos ($19). A new plant-based vegetarian burger will get made to order. The sweets take center stage at Citi Field with a Hong Kong-style egg waffle served as a cone with ice cream.

• Chicago’s Wrigley Field will introduce fully renovated concession stands and new cocktail and wine bars throughout the spring as Levy creates an entirely new slate of offerings. Wrigley Field will now have an in-house smoker and is making condiments, toppings and more in-house for everything from Smoked Bone-In Short Ribs to a shaved-beef sandwich, pork shoulder, pickle-brined chicken sandwich and loaded fries and hot dogs. Wrigley will also welcome seven local chefs and restaurants into the ballpark, including Pork & Mindy’s, Garrett Popcorn, Hot Doug’s, Giordano’s, Vienna Beef and Buona Beef.

• Chase Field, Phoenix, has a Steak and Ale Tots dish with crispy tots topped with Four Peaks Kilt Lifter cheese sauce and ribeye steak. The Levy building also features a new 18-inch Asada Dog, a barbecue pulled pork and white cheddar cheese curd burger and Fried Chicken Banh Mi.

• Tropicana Field, St. Petersburg, and Levy go with a chili cheese corn dog, a new signature cheddar burger, a Reuben Cuban hot dog and house-fried blue corn tortilla chips in the Sunburst Nachos.

• Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles, and Levy embrace Cheetos with the roasted sweet corn rubbed with chipotle lime mayo, dusted with Flamin’ Hot Cheetos. Also expect an Orange Chicken Bowl, a Build-Your-Own Torta stand, a Pretzel Chicken Croissant and a Spicy Chicken Sandwich.

• Seattle’s Safeco Field includes On Deck Donuts ($8), Sound Seafood with the new lobster roll and the longbone beef ribs at the Centerplate Holy Smoke BBQ stand in two locations. With the Mariners resigning Ichiro, that means Hiroshi will again have the IchiRoll sushi available in the park. And the grasshoppers. Don’t forget Safeco’s grasshoppers.


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Wisconsin Hires Hardiman
 
Posted: 21 Mar 2018, 7:00 pm

image0022.jpgChef Kenneth Hardiman.

Kenneth Hardiman has been named senior executive chef of the new arena of the NBA's Milwaukee Bucks, the Wisconsin Entertainment and Sports Center, for Levy Restuarants. The arena is scheduled to open this fall.

Hardiman will build the arena’s culinary program, which will incorporate signature local offerings into the new arena and be available for all guests.

Previously, Hardiman was the executive chef of Milwaukee's Mason Street Grill.


 


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Crowds Down At Houston Rodeo
 
Posted: 21 Mar 2018, 4:00 pm

Making its debut at this year’s concerts was a new star-shaped stage with points that could be raised or lowered. (Courtesy RodeoHouston)

With many of the city’s residents still affected by Hurricane Harvey, the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo saw lower-than-expected attendance this year.

“General attendance was down about 7.8 percent and attendance in the stadium was down about 1.8 percent. With general admission prices increasing from $10 to $15, and numbers for the carnival, games and food all up, it looks like revenue will be greater, even with fewer crowds,” said Joel Cowley, the show’s president and CEO. Exact figures were still being calculated at press time for the event, which took place Feb. 27 to March 18.

This year’s theme, Spirit of the Volunteer, was chosen by the show’s new chairman of the board, Jim Winne III, to recognize the event’s 33,000 volunteers. 

One of the biggest changes for 2018 was the debut of an upgraded stage at the rodeo’s NRG Stadium. Designed and fabricated by TAIT, which specializes in creating, designing and engineering equipment for the live event industry, the rotating, 48-foot-diameter star-shaped stage has five points with an arm length of 36 feet and a base of 23 feet. Each star point can be raised individually or jointly and lowered to the arena surface or raised. The new setup includes a 22-foot-tall, motion-controlled LED backdrop video screen and 1,000 lights, in addition to a self-control automated positioning system. The NavCam aerial camera, using the same stage technology, also debuted to broadcast the rodeo and concert performances.

“Our presentation this year was the best ever in our 86-year history,” Cowley said.  Not only was the stadium presentation upgraded, but we created a consistent brand look on the grounds using our signature orange and blue colors.”

The concert lineup included country favorite Garth Brooks, who opened and closed the show on Feb. 27 and March 18. Other performers were Little Big Town, Blake Shelton, Leon Bridges, Rascal Flatts, Jason Aldean, Thomas Rhett, Luke Bryan, the Zac Brown Band, OneRepublic, Keith Urban, Chris Stapleton and Brad Paisley.

The event closed the show with nine sellout nights and had 11 overall, Cowley said. “With this incredible lineup and new presentation, there has to be an environmental factor with ticket sales being down.”

Laveen, Ariz.-based Ray Cammack Shows Inc. was again the carnival provider for the event and oversaw 79 rides, 57 games and 40 food cafes. There were a record 2.7 million riders during the show’s 23 days, up from 2.4 million in 2017.

The top five rides were the La Grande XL Wheel, Sky Ride, Windstorm, Rave Wave and Crazy Coaster.

This year’s newest attractions included Extreme, a velocity swing ride that reaches heights of 65 feet while rotating; the Flying Jumbo family ride with interactive controls for riders to raise or lower each elephant; Konga, a high-speed side-to-side movement ride with a water feature; and Rockin’ Rodeo, a two-story mirror maze fun house.

Six hundred high school volunteers worked the game booths, raising money for their school organizations.

“We had a great event, and our numbers were up slightly, even though the presale program numbers were down a little bit,” said Charlene Leavitt, chief operating officer of Ray Cammack Shows. “Our all new food stand seating was upgraded to be more contemporary, and we revamped the landscaping with all new pots.”

Two food stands also debuted. Get Fried provided chicken on-a-stick; fresh cut fries topped with garlic, truffle oil, chili and/or cheese; fruity pebbles shrimp on-a-stick; jumbo grilled chicken; beef kabobs; and fresh-squeezed lemonade. Totally Baked sold freshly baked buckets of cookies, giant ice cream sandwiches and dippers cups of cookies with ice cream topped with caramel or chocolate syrups. Cookie flavors included chocolate chip, peanut butter, oatmeal raisin and macadamia nut. Beverages, such as cold milk, hot coffee and Frappuccino, also were available.

Ray Cammack introduced a new enhancement for its Fun Pass program app, as well.

“We worked with a developer last year to put all food vendors on point-of-sale systems and this year launched a self-ticketing feature,” said Joy Pickett, Ray Cammack’s chief financial officer. “Attendees could buy and reload cards with tickets, which allowed them to more easily add tickets to their smartphones for more rides and games without standing in line.”

The Lone Star Market, a new outdoor shopping location on the west side of the NRG Astrodome, included new local businesses offering food, leather goods, art pieces and other items.

Although the adult general admission price was increased, the cost for children 3 to 12 remained $5, with kids under 3 getting in free. On Value Wednesdays, admission for children 12 and under was free. Rodeo tickets started at $18, which included the $15 general admission fee.
Among this year’s sponsors were Coca-Cola, Miller Lite, Ford, NRG and Mattress Firm.

Since the show began in 1932, more than $450 million has been donated to Texas children. This year’s educational commitment includes $14.27 million in scholarships, more than $8 million in junior show exhibitors/Calf Scramble participants, more than $3.7 million in educational program grants and $586,000 in graduate assistantships.

“Success can’t be measured from attendance alone; there’s more to it than that,” said Cowley. “This year, there was greater excitement on the grounds, and when we look at per capita spending, we believe attendees spent more time here, since they spent more money. This is a tribute to the volunteers and staff who put on a great event.”

Next year’s Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo will be Feb. 26-March 17. Changes in the grounds’ layout and entertainment lineup are being considered.


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A Big Ball Of Tech
 
Posted: 21 Mar 2018, 2:30 pm

Madison Square Garden Co. officials discussed plans Tuesday for the new arena, to be built in East London. (Courtesy Madison Square Garden Co.)

The Madison Square Garden Co. is pushing technological boundaries with plans for its new venue, the Sphere. One of the most exciting features of the immersive experience will be its audio system, which delivers the same audio quality irrespective of seat location.

“In current venues, the sound is unevenly distributed,” said MSG Ventures CEO David Dibble at the venue’s unveiling Tuesday in London’s Copper Box Arena.

“We use a modular, steerable audio system that delivers the optimal audio mix for every seat in the house simultaneously, putting every guest in the sweet spot,"  Dibble explained. "Using state-of-the-art beam-forming technology, audio is directed to specific sections of the venue, at near constant sound pressure levels from point of origin to destination.”

Wave field synthesis, plane waves, infrasound, near-field steerable arrays and delay vector systems are just some of the technologies that are slated to be deployed in the Sphere. Dibble said the audience would be enveloped in sound.

He wasn’t joking, and guests were able to see for themselves. MSG (which also has a joint venture with Irving Azoff, co-founder of Oak View Group, VenuesNow’s parent company) had flown in an entire Sphere science lab, demonstrating some of the future venue’s features. MSG Ventures’ principal for audio systems and acoustics, Erik Hockman, was on site to demonstrate some of the audio capabilities. He said that, because of the ability to control the speakers individually, “I can make every kind of waveform known to mankind—and some that actually aren’t.”

The ability to direct audio beams, for example, could come in handy at events where keynotes are translated for an international audience. Listeners no longer need headsets; they simply need to take a seat in a row allocated to their language. Artists could potentially get rid of in-ear monitor systems. Dibble said: “In-ears go away. The system will identify you, and your beam will follow you around as you perform.” It’s the audio version of a spotlight.

James Dolan, MSG chairman and CEO, said the venue was inspired by "The Veldt," a science fiction short story written by Ray Bradbury in 1951 about a home in the distant future in which the walls of a room have the ability to display real places from the outside world, including the sounds and smells associated with them.

Whether the Sphere is going to simulate smells remains to be, well, smelled, but there was much else to be experienced with one’s remaining senses: Demos included a virtual reality tour of the future auditorium, infrasound demonstrations and a mini Sphere, which guests could enter to get a sense of the real thing.

The actual Sphere will have a seating capacity of just more than 18,000 and a total capacity of about 22,000, said Jayne McGivern, MSG’s executive vice president for development and construction. The site in London will encompass 4.7 acres, compared will 18.9 acres for MSG’s Las Vegas Sphere project. The building’s convenience to public transportation at its location in the East London district of Stratford will result in a reduced need for new parking.

McGivern, who also developed the O2, explained that some aspects of the building have never been done. The immersive surface, for example, has to be “absolutely perfect" noting that the total construction time “from when we start on site to opening will be probably about 30 months.”

MSG is still going through the design and construction phases aiming to submit its planning application by the end of the year. Once those have been approved, construction can begin.

The vaulted screen within the Sphere will be capable of displaying a resolution of about 16,000 by 16,000 pixels. Said Dolan: “No longer will the audience be looking through a rectangular window. Instead they will be immersed in an environment that can be as large as the cosmos, or as small as the inside of a wristwatch.”

“And as your focus moves from one side of the visual plane to the other, so will the sound. You will not only hear the sound, you will feel it. And not just the big sounds, but the sound made by two gears meshing inside your watch. As you travel through the desert, the heat will bake you and emanate from the sun, the rainforest will be humid and the snowstorm cool.”

One of the Sphere’s major design specifications was to get as close to a VR experience as possible without having to wear goggles. The high resolution allows for a true sense of depth without being disorientated.

Dibble added that “the vast majority of the technology we’re putting in the Sphere when it’s built does not truly exist today,” at least not at concert venues. “I met with an Italian partner today.They’ve custom-designed a floor actuator for us for the vibrating floors,” he said.

Audience members will be also able to interact with one another as well as with the artists through the MSG Sphere app: finding friends in the venue, voting on set lists in real time or engaging in gaming events are just some examples.

MSG President Andrew Lustgarten thinks having more venues in a city increases the market size, pointing to New York City, which has a population nearly the same as London’s but seven large-scale venues rather than London’s two. “In 2012, when New York added its seventh venue (Barclays Center), we saw a 52 percent growth in the concert market," he said. "The same happened in Los Angeles when we opened the Forum in 2014. The market grew 65 percent. We expect the same thing to happen here.”

“We have more than two times as many events in New York, a city of the same size,” Lustgarten said. “O2 is going to continue to be extremely busy. It’s a fabulous venue. We just think this market’s going to grow up.”

Lustgarten emphasized that MSG Sphere London will be "an open venue," and would work with all promoters. He believes the theater-style circular seating, with all seats facing forward, will offer "better views, better experiences than any other venue in the world."


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Little Caesars' Big Dance
 
Posted: 21 Mar 2018, 12:00 pm

“The NCAA Tournament is a unique event,” says Chris Granger, who helped welcome March Madness to Detroit’s Little Caesars Arena. (Courtesy Ilitch Holdings)

Chris Granger had a lot on his plate last weekend. Granger is group president of sports and entertainment for Ilitch Holdings, which owns and operates Detroit’s brand-spanking-new Little Caesars Arena, home to the NHL’s Red Wings and NBA’s Pistons. Over the weekend, however, he was also part of a team that made sure the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament went off without a hitch. This meant getting 60,000 ticket-holders over St. Paddy’s Day weekend in and out of a venue that had opened only six months earlier. For Granger, who worked for the Sacramento Kings and Golden 1 Center and the NBA for 14 years, the tourney’s pageantry, satisfied fans and multimillion-dollar boost to the local economy were just some of the aspects he found most gratifying — even as the Syracuse Orange busted his bracket by defeating the Michigan State Spartans at his own arena. VenuesNow caught up with Granger to get his take on the weekend’s march of madness at his building.

How was it hosting the NCAA Tournament games?
Granger: With Little Caesars Arena just six months old, this was the first time the building hosted an NCAA event. What is interesting is that the bid was awarded before the construction of Little Caesars Arena even began. The NCAA showed an unwavering confidence in our host school, Detroit Mercy; the Detroit Sports Commission; and the Ilitch organization. Little Caesars Arena will be the home for three additional NCAA championship events in the next four years, including the Frozen Four, the NCAA Wrestling Championships, and the Men’s Basketball Championship first and second rounds again in 2021. We’re thrilled about our partnership with the NCAA moving forward.

How were things different operationally?
Granger:
An NCAA event is unique from an operational perspective. Everything from the décor to the locker room assignments to the press conference setup was different than what we see for Red Wings and Pistons home games. Luckily, we have some experience in that area. Several of our staff members were involved in past executions of the NCAA men’s basketball championships here in Detroit, as well as in other markets (Granger was president of the Sacramento Kings when Golden 1 Center welcomed the tournament in 2017). We received great feedback from the NCAA staff and their vendors, and we’ll have another great plan in place for the next NCAA event at Little Caesars Arena.

If you could give advice to anyone hosting the tournament, what would it be?
Granger:
Embrace the event. It was a fantastic weekend in Detroit. The economic impact was significant, and the building was full. We had crowds of more than 20,000 for all three sessions. It’s an amazing way to showcase not only the facility hosting the event but the city as well.

Was there anything you were surprised about?
Granger:
Our entertainment services team produced a video in which they interviewed dozens of fans, many of whom were visiting Little Caesars Arena for the first time. It’s always great to hear the reactions of a first-time guest. To hear coaches and players, along with fans from Canada, Indianapolis and other Michiganders provide their perspective of the arena after seeing it for the first time is really special. We want Little Caesars Arena to be a building for everyone, and hosting the NCAA Tournament gave us another opportunity to appeal to fans from multiple regions. 

What was your favorite moment of hosting?
Granger:
The relationship with the NCAA is extremely important to our organization. I had a chance to visit with NCAA President Mark Emmert and other NCAA representatives that made the trip to Detroit, and enjoyed those conversations about the future of our partnership. Beyond that, the pageantry. The NCAA Tournament is a unique event. The fans were passionate, and, most importantly, we think we provided the student-athletes a great experience.

Who do you have winning the entire tournament in your bracket?
Granger:
Michigan State was my pick. They obviously lost a heartbreaker to Syracuse in the second round. Tom Izzo has been an ambassador for us, along with (Michigan coach John Beilein) and the other college coaches in the state of Michigan. This has been a crazy tournament, with upsets taking place seemingly every day that games are played. My bracket isn’t exactly in great shape. With Michigan still standing, I’m rooting hard for them and Coach Beilein.


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Mile-High Makeovers For Ballpark
 
Posted: 21 Mar 2018, 12:00 pm

A rendering shows the new bar on the club level at Coors Field in Denver, one of several improvements for the coming baseball season. (Courtesy Colorado Rockies)

Major League Baseball’s Colorado Rockies have created a new indoor bar on the club level at Coors Field with a sustainable twist — wood-burned signs featuring the team’s mountain logo are made from trees destroyed by pine beetles.

The redeveloped space, on the Wells Fargo Club Level, midlevel down the third base line, converts an outdoor balcony into an indoor destination with a glass wall enclosure.

Beetle kill pine, the term describing the material used on the club level, is prevalent among decorative finishes in the space, said Michael Ray, an associate principal and senior architect with Populous. The wood was first used last year for initial concessions upgrades on the club level, and evidence of the beetle infestations can be seen on the signs, Ray said.

Over the past 20 years, pine beetles have destroyed 3.5 million acres of Colorado’s forests, representing close to 15 percent of the state’s pine tree population, according to local reports. The damaged wood, though, can still be used for building purposes, such as framing and paneling structures.

“It’s a great story to tell for the Rockies, one of reconnecting to the environment,” Ray said.

At Coors Field, the retrofit provides a facelift to a portion of the ballpark that had remained untouched since the stadium opened in April 1995. The new destination doubles the space of  the old concessions setup. It still provides great views of the Rocky Mountains and downtown Denver without fans being exposed to the summer sun, which became an issue with the balcony, Ray said.

At Coors Field, the 2,700-square-foot bar is equipped with 16 beer taps and 13 new televisions. There is seating for 110 people with a mix of high-top bar stools, four-top tables and bigger tables for larger groups. All told, the space can fit 315 people, Ray said.

The Rockies drew inspiration for the bar retrofit after touring FirstEnergy Stadium, where the NFL’s Cleveland Browns expanded a club space enclosed in glass, said Greg Feasel, the Rockies’ executive vice president and chief operating officer. The Rockies are looking at building a similar bar down the first base line for the 2019 season, but nothing has been determined, Feasel said.

Separately, behind home plate on the club level, the control room for the videoboard was rebuilt to accommodate the new Daktronics board in left-center field. The room now features a window through which premium seat holders can observe the crews inside running the board’s electronics. SunTrust Park, the Atlanta Braves’ ballpark, which opened last year, has a similar setup on a public concourse.

“Now, you can see into the brain trust of the control room,” Ray said. “It’s a dynamic, high-tech space and a neat amenity, and you can actually see all the way through to the field.”

Elsewhere at Coors Field, a portion of the Rooftop, the popular general admission space in the upper deck copied by multiple MLB teams, has been rebranded as the Silver Bullet Bar. As part of the new agreement, MillerCoors gave up its sponsorship of the Coors Clubhouse, the 168-seat premium lounge behind home plate. Infiniti now holds naming rights to that club, Feasel said.

Feasel would not disclose renovation costs other than to say the new videoboard cost more than $10 million.


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These Retrievers Are Golden
 
Posted: 20 Mar 2018, 6:35 pm

The University of Baltimore-Maryland County’s UMBC Event Center opened in February. (Courtesy Cannon Design)

The University of Baltimore-Maryland County’s historic victory in the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament has sparked renewed interest in naming rights for the school’s new arena, say officials with Team Services LLC, the agency brokering the deal.

Last Friday, UMBC beat Virginia in a first-round game in Charlotte, marking the first time a No. 16 seed had conquered a No. 1 seed since the tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985. For the Retrievers, members of the America East Conference, the timing could not be better for marketing the UMBC Events Center, their 5,500-capacity arena that opened in February.

After the upset, UMBC jumped overnight from a school with limited visibility outside Greater Baltimore to a national sensation, creating vast exposure for the university. The defeat of No. 1 Virginia had sports fans buzzing across the country, even after UMBC lost its second-round game to Kansas State two days later at Charlotte’s Spectrum Center.

For E.J. Narcise, a principal and co-founder of Team Services, the firm working for UMBC to sell naming rights over the past two years, interest has grown among a greater number of potential partners, although he would not specify which firms and brand categories.

Towson University, another NCAA Division I school in the Baltimore area, signed a 10-year, $4.75 million deal with credit union SECU for its 5,200-seat arena, which opened in 2013. Team Services consulted on that agreement.

At UMBC, interest in naming rights has picked up over the past few days, “although at this level, it doesn’t change the financials for people,” Narcise said. “No one’s greedy, but it opens the door for having brand-new conversations. Now, when we call somebody, it’s like, ‘Hey, isn’t that great about the tournament win?’”

Rockville, Md.-based Team Services sits about 40 miles south of Catonsville, Md., where UMBC is situated.

On Friday, the day of UMBC’s improbable victory, Narcise was in Nashville, attending NCAA Tournament games at Bridgestone Arena with a group of friends. At one point, they migrated to an outdoor bar next to the arena to watch the Retrievers dispatch the Cavaliers. They all stood and cheered Narcise’s client as other Team Services personnel excitedly texted back and forth with UMBC officials.

“Now the goal is to capitalize on the visibility for the whole university … across the board on all fronts,” Narcise said. “Admissions is humming along, but they also have to worry about whether they lose their coach [Ryan Odom]. They’re talking about [extending his contract] internally.”

“They’re going through the process of trademarking slogans, but the most important thing is being able to talk about it,” he said. “Every piece of literature they put out should talk about believing in miracles, tell everybody what happened. It’s history. It’s never been done before.”

Those who track media exposure connected to sports events say the “David slays Goliath” storyline has been a boon to UMBC’s overall profile, and that momentum continues.

As of Tuesday, UMBC’s win had generated $33 million in total media value, resulting from impressions tied to the game broadcast, highlight shows, online news sites and social media channels, said Eric Smallwood, president of Apex Marketing Group, a firm that tracks data from sports events. That far outstrips the $4.6 million in media exposure UMBC generated the week before after defeating Vermont for the conference championship and a berth in the NCAA Tournament, Smallwood said.

Separately, Apex is consulting with OVG Facilities, the firm running UMBC Events Center, to sell advertising for the arena, which includes space on the videoboard and courtside LED signs. (OVG Facilities is a division of Oak View Group, owner of VenuesNow.)

Smallwood said it’s too early to tell whether UMBC’s historic win will boost Apex’s marketing efforts. The process of selling inventory for next season is just starting, he said.


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Game On For Vegas Esports Arena
 
Posted: 20 Mar 2018, 6:00 pm

A rendering of Esports Arena Las Vegas, scheduled to open Thursday in 30,000 square feet at Luxor Las Vegas. (Courtesy Allied Esports)

Allied Esports hopes what was once a Las Vegas nightclub can turn into a daily attraction as the first esports arena on the Las Vegas Strip. Allied opens Esports Arena Las Vegas on Thursday, turning 30,000 square feet at Luxor Las Vegas into a 1,500-person capacity esports arena designed to attract gamers throughout the week.

“We were looking for a flagship location, a championship destination,” Allied CEO Jud Hannigan said. “It had to inspire people around the world and the location had to drive people into our other locations with the chance to compete on the big stage. Las Vegas generates that type of emotion.”

Allied, which has partnered with MGM Resorts, turned the former nightclub at the Luxor into a space that’s game-agnostic and puts a focus on programming flexibility to draw differing gaming communities throughout the week. Hannigan says Allied will work with the space, designed by Las Vegas firm YWS Design & Architecture, to bring in a fresh crowd each day that leads toward larger events on the weekends with heftier prize pools.

Allied plans to keep Esports Arena Las Vegas open daily, scheduling events during the day and at night and offering rentals to groups, in addition to welcoming walk-ins looking to drop in off the Strip and play. With a front lobby designed to give a mini-experience to the passer-by, Allied hopes to draw new fans into the main competition hall. The 50-foot LED video wall and telescopic seating allow for immediate flexibility.

“Having multiple spaces (within the venue) allows the experience to be a bit broader to start, a bit more welcoming and educate people along the way with different experiences room to room until ultimately they lead into the destination, the competition area,” Hannigan said.

The arena is situated between the Mandalay Bay and Excalibur resorts, guaranteeing healthy foot traffic. Allied plans a combination bar and arcade with classic favorites to entice passers-by, and Jose Andres food and beverage offerings will provide another attraction.

Allied operates two smaller arenas in China — in Beijing and Shenzhen—one in Orange County, one in Oakland and an event studio with production facilities and a mobile truck in Europe. But Vegas offers an arena about twice the size of anything else Allied operates.

“This is only a catalyst for more to come,” Hannigan said. “We are building a market-based ecosystem that esports has not had. Our aim is to keep going on a global scale.”

As Allied opens in Vegas, the rise of esports is seen most prominently throughout North America and Asia. The NBA 2K League has NBA teams sponsoring esports teams and turning parts of NBA-sized arenas into esports homes. Announcements of coming esports venues, such as the Populous-designed 1,000-capacity, $10 million Esports Arena Arlington planned for a fall opening, continue to push the esports venue discussion.

Hannigan says that while a larger stadium may host an event from time to time, the sweet spot for Allied comes in their size and ability to generate content and events daily. “Even with 100 or 200 people, the facility is still going to generate a feeling of excitement and not a feeling of emptiness,” he said. The MGM partnership will also help promote the space through MGM’s marketing and allow Allied the opportunity to move to the Mandalay Bay Convention Center, Park Theater Monte Carlo or even T-Mobile Arena, if needed. “There are options for scalability in the MGM network,” he said.


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New Flavors In St. John's
 
Posted: 20 Mar 2018, 2:00 pm

Centerplate will take over the concessions program at the convention center in St. John's, Newfoundland, on June 1. (Courtesy Centerplate)

After a $54.25 million (70 million Canadian dollar) renovation and addition to its convention center completed in 2016, St. John’s Convention Centre in the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador is reimagining its food and beverage program and bringing in Centerplate to run it.

The venue’s current concessionaire is Delta Hotels, a division of Westmont Hospitality Group, which has had the contract for the 15 years. Centerplate has signed on for 10 years. The financial terms of the deal, which begins June 1, have not been disclosed. 

“The facility was revitalized in 2016 after we added more space, bringing us to 47,000 square feet,” said Sheena McCrate, St. John’s Sports and Entertainment CEO. “We quickly realized that running the convention center with two ballrooms and 10 meeting rooms was going to be completely different from running the original facility, which was built in 2001 with one ballroom and two meeting rooms.”

“We took a lot of the things we outsourced — like operations, cleaning, sales and conferences services management— and brought it all in-house,” McCrate said. “The only thing we are still outsourcing is F&B.”

An RFP was issued about six months ago, she said, drawing five bidders; three local outfits and two that had a regional presence.

“Centerplate stood out because it was clear that this was their area of expertise,” she said. “They are experts in the food delivery business, and it showed in their written information and in their presentation. They showed us what they’ve done in other markets and what they could do in ours.

“Another big component was that their financial model was very attractive.”

McCrate expects Centerplate to hire and source locally. “Making sure the uniqueness of St. John’s is reflected in the menu and service is high on our list,” she said. “Centerplate made it clear they had the ability to come into a market and figure what differentiates that market from anywhere else.”

Another attraction was that Centerplate is an international company and can bring in resources from other cities if St. John's has an event it needs help with, she said.

Craig Vidal, Centerplate senior operations and transitions executive, was instrumental in the bid and the transition for St. John’s. He’s based in Winnipeg and also oversees the Bell MTS Centre concession program.

“We represent convention centers across North America, and ‘boutique and unique’
venues are our specialty,” Vidal said. “We feel St. John’s is such a facility. It’s one of the prettiest areas of Canada and a destination spot. It needs a level of services that augment that, and we have knowledge and experience in running hospitality for these kinds of building.”

The new menu will be “based on our experiences across our scope of convention centers, adding in lots of local flavors, local distilleries and breweries. There’s an incredible culinary scene in the region, and we plan to tap into that and embrace it,” said Vidal.

Centerplate plans to announce a new food service general manager for the convention center soon, he said.

Big events at the St. John’s Convention Centre have included Juno Awards shows, honoring the best Canadian music, in 2002 and 2010; the Brier, the Canadian’s men’s curling championship; and the Scotties, the women’s version of the same event.

“We’re excited to be going down this road with Centerplate,” added McCrate, “We're positive we will get great service and are looking forward to the opportunity to work with them.”

 

 


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HOT TICKETS FOR MARCH 22, 2018
 
Posted: 20 Mar 2018, 2:00 pm

Bruce Springsteen has extended his record-breaking "Springsteen on Broadway" run at the Walter Kerr Theatre. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for SiriusXM)

Bruce Springsteen has extended his mega-hit one-man show at the Walter Kerr Thetare in New York City with the addition of 81 shows running through Dec. 15, marking the third time “Springsteen on Broadway” has been extended since its initial eight-week run. With tickets harder to get than those for a “Hamilton” performance, The Boss managed to pull in $1,915,877 over Feb. 28-March 3, with 3,792 attending. Ticket range for the Thrill Hill production was $75-$850.

Also proving the staying power of old-school talent, rocker Phil Collins made our Hot Ticket chart this week with a stop March 9-10 in Palacia De Los Deportes in Mexico City, where he performed his long playlist of hits to 24,679 fans, grossing $3,231,039.
 

HOT TICKETS is a weekly summary of the top events and ticket sales as reported to VNPulse via Pollstar. Following are the top 20 concerts and events, the top 5 in each attendance category, that took place Feb. 20-Mar. 20.

15,000 or more Attendance

10,001-15,000 Attendance

5,001-10,000 Attendance

5,000 or Less Attendance

1) Phil Collins
Gross Sales:
$3,231,039; Venue: Palacio De Los Deportes, Mexico City; Attendance: 24,679; Ticket Range: $247.14-$38.29; Promoter: OCESA/CIE; Dates: Mar. 9-10; No. of Shows: 2

2) Jacky Cheung
Gross Sales: $2,320,143; Venue: Qudos Bank Arena, Sydney; Attendance: 15,987; Ticket Range: $536.73-$90.74; Promoter: Award Entertainment; Dates: Mar. 9; No. of Shows: 1

3)  USA Sevens Rugby
Gross Sales: $2,042,725; Venue: Sam Boyd Stadium, Las Vegas; Attendance: 28,552; Ticket Range: $465-$77; Promoter: United World Sports; Dates: Mar. 1-3; No. of Shows: 3

4) Pink 
Gross Sales: $1,734,988; Venue: BOK Center, Tulsa, Okla.; Attendance: 14,146; Ticket Range: $222.95-$62.95; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Mar. 5; No. of Shows: 1

5) "Disney On Ice"
Gross Sales: $1,416,740; Venue: Oracle Arena, Oakland, Calif.; Attendance: 43,045; Ticket Range: $85.50-$15; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Feb. 28-Mar. 4; No. of Shows: 9

1) Helene Fischer
Gross Sales: $4,564,527; Venue: Konig-Pilsener Arena, Oberhausen, Germany; Attendance: 46,490; Ticket Range: $108.81-$44.85; Promoter: Semmel Concerts Entertainment; Dates: Feb. 20-25; No. of Shows: 5

2) Robbie Williams
Gross Sales: $1,467,142; Venue: Perth (Australia) Arena; Attendance: 12,473; Ticket Range: $152.95-$76.09; Promoter: Chugg Entertainment; Dates: Mar. 7; No. of Shows: 1

3) Blake Shelton
Gross Sales: $973,157; Venue: Royal Farms Arena, Baltimore; Attendance: 12,401; Ticket Range: $133-$46; Promoter: Messina Touring Group,AEG Presents; Dates: Mar. 16; No. of Shows: 1

4) Demi Lovato
Gross Sales: $800,620; Venue: MGM Grand Garden Arena, Las Vegas; Attendance: 11,133; Ticket Range: $499.95-$29.95; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Mar. 3; No. of Shows: 1

5) Stereophonics
Gross Sales: $763,524; Venue: The SSE Hydro, Glasgow, Scotland; Attendance: 12,632; Ticket Range: $76.95-$45.47; Promoter: Regular Music; Dates: Feb. 24; No. of Shows: 1

Cirque du Soleil - "Ovo"
Gross Sales: $1,960,476; Venue: Lotto Arena, Merksem, Belgium; Attendance: 20,631; Ticket Range: $135.32-$61.50; Promoter: Cirque du Soleil; Dates: Mar. 8-11; No. of Shows: 7

2) West Coast Conference Basketball Championships
Gross Sales: $1,420,864; Venue: Orleans Arena, Las Vegas; Attendance: 63,665; Ticket Range: $650-$5; Promoter: In-house; Dates: Mar. 1-6; No. of Shows: 10

3) Joaquin Sabina
Gross Sales: $1,191,378; Venue: Auditorio Nacional, Mexico City; Attendance: 17,394; Ticket Range: $186.68-$16; Promoter: Erreele Producciones; Dates: Feb. 24-25; No. of Shows: 2

 

4) "Soy Luna Live"
Gross Sales: $846,203; Venue: Zenith Paris; Attendance: 9,726; Ticket Range: $615-$41.83; Promoter: DG Entertainment, Encore Productions; Dates: Feb. 24-25; No. of Shows: 2

5) Phil Collins
Gross Sales: $841,331; Venue: Auditorio Citibanamex, Monterrey, Mexico; Attendance: 5,795; Ticket Range: $213.34-$46.94; Promoter: OCESA / CIE; Dates: Mar. 6; No. of Shows: 1

1) "Springsteen On Broadway", Bruce Springsteen

Gross Sales: $1,915,877; Venue: Walter Kerr Theatre, New York; Attendance: 3,792; Ticket Range: $850-$75; Promoter: Thrill Hill Productions; Dates: Feb. 28-Mar. 3; No. of Shows: 4

2) "Something Rotten"
Gross Sales: $1,268,212; Venue: Academy Of Music, Philadelphia; Attendance: 15,508; Ticket Range: $125-$20; Promoter: In-house; Dates: Feb. 27-Mar. 4; No. of Shows: 8

 

3) >"Wicked"
Gross Sales: $1,091,198; Venue: Broward Ctr. Au-Rene Theater, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; Attendance: 18,533; Ticket Range: $104.25-$44.25; Promoter: In-house, Broadway Across America; Dates: Feb. 20-25; No. of Shows: 8

4) "An American In Paris"
Gross Sales: $904,185; Venue: Overture Hall, Madison, Wis.; Attendance: 13,128; Ticket Range: $135-$35; Promoter: Broadway Across America; Dates: Feb. 28-Mar. 4; No. of Shows: 8

5) >"The Illusionists"
Gross Sales: $820,129; Venue: Dreyfoos Hall, West Palm Beach, Fla.; Attendance: 15,038; Ticket Range: $76-$26; Promoter: In-house; Dates: Mar. 6-11; No. of Shows: 8 

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

 


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BRAD GESSNER, SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT FOR CONVENTION CENTERS, AEG FACILITIES GENERAL MANAGER, LOS ANGELES CONVENTION CENTER
 
Posted: 19 Mar 2018, 8:45 pm

Gessner came to AEG in 2012 from the San Diego Convention Center, where he spent 14 years in senior management.
First job in the industry: Forty years ago I started as the assistant supervisor of special facilities for the St. Lucie (Fla.) County Parks and Recreation Department. We managed the Indian River Amphitheater and the Civic Center Auditorium and Theater.
What is your favorite part of the job? The diversity of the type of events we host and the interesting people I get to work with. It’s never boring.
What would you be doing if you weren’t in your job? Dividing my time between my condo in Encinitas, where I’d surf all day, and my pecan farm on the Guadalupe River in Comfort, Texas.
Biggest achievment: What we did here at LACC with AEG Facilities. I was a department of one in 2012 with the charge of responding to RFPs from the city of Los Angeles to run the facility. Winning the contract and transitioning the building with only 15 staff members remaining was a challenge.
Best advice you’ve ever received: There are two. Trust but verify. And that good fortune favors the well prepared.
What would people be surprised to learn about you? That I’m an avid surfer of over 50 years who learned to surf in 1964 while living in Hawaii as a kid. I’ve traveled and surfed in exotic locales like Fiji, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Mexico and Australia.
Who is your favorite mentor? Tom Liegler was an important mentor to me. He was the previous GM of the Anaheim (Calif.) Convention Center and stadium and the first GM of the San Diego Convention Center. He had very high standards and taught me a lot about the convention center industry. Also, Gary Propper, who I met in 1978 when he was the associate producer of Fantasma Productions in West Palm Beach, Fla. Gary went on to be (comedian) Gallagher’s manager, and the (executive producer) of the “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” movies. Gary taught me a lot about concert production, promoting, event management and work-life balance. They both are still dear friends.
Favorite live event you’ve attended: There have been so many over the years, but the one that I think of fondly is the 2016 MusiCares event honoring Tom Petty held here at the LACC. The star-studded evening included performances by Petty, Stevie Nicks, George Strait, The Lumineers, Randy Newman, Foo Fighters and Norah Jones.


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FACES + PLACES - MARCH 2018
 
Posted: 19 Mar 2018, 8:00 pm

Allison Alfano has joined Portland’5 Centers for the Arts as the assistant director of marketing. Previously, Alfano worked at Los Angeles’ Staples Center and Microsoft Theater as senior director of marketing.  She also has a background in radio promotions and worked as a marketing manager for the Anaheim Ducks.

Opry Entertainment Group President Steve Buchanan is leaving his post after running the company for 33 years. Buchanan is also the executive producer of the TV show “Nashville.” Buchanan joined the Grand Ole Opry in 1985 as marketing manager and is credited with revitalizing the brand, along with Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium, and returning both to their former glory. At the time, the Opry attendance and relevance in the country community was in deep decline, with many artists choosing to bypass the venue. Buchanan brought top acts and the public back through the door, leading to a rebirth of the Opry. Buchanan’s knowledge of and love for country music paved the way for the development of “Nashville,” which is in its final season on CMT.

Suzanne Delaney has been promoted to chief development officer of Ruth Eckerd Hall, the Murray Theatre and the Capitol Theatre in Clearwater, Fla.  Delaney joined Ruth Eckerd Hall in 2015 as director of development after working as the divisional advertising manager for the Tampa Bay Times. She is on the board of directors for the Clearwater Arts Alliance and the Clearwater Regional Chamber.

Andrew Dreskin, co-founder and former CEO of Ticketfly and TicketWeb and now president of music at Eventbrite, has been named to Eventbrite’s board of directors.

Spectra, the new manager of the Orange County (Calif.) Market Place, has named Adela Generally as its new GM. Generally spent eight years with Spectra Food Services and Hospitality at the Orange County Fairgrounds as an assistant GM.

Toyota Music Factory in Irving, Texas, has named Tim Hendricks as GM. He served as operations manager at The Pavilion at Montage, an outdoor amphitheater in Scranton, Pa., operated by Live Nation, and as GM of The Fillmore in Charlotte, N.C.

Jade Presents has added Steve Hoiberg to the team as a talent buyer. Hoiberg spent 14 years as a talent agent with Good Music Agency in Minneapolis, and Monterey Artists in Nashville, Tenn., as well as 12 years as owner and artist manager of SHO Artists in Nashville.

The Louisville Convention and Visitors Bureau has promoted Allison Joyce to national sales manager in the convention development department.  She replaces Susan Sauer, who retired in December after nearly 24 years of service. Joyce has been with the center as convention sales manager since 2016. Also, Ana Cervera has been hired as a convention sales assistant in the convention development department. Cervera completed the Disney College Program at Walt Disney World. Zack Davis has been tapped as VP of destination services. He replaces Doris Sims, who retired from the position after 30 years of service. Davis has worked as director of marketing since 2015. He began his career at the LCVB in 2008 as a convention services manager in the destination services department. Before coming to the LCVB, Davis worked as an in-park services supervisor at Kentucky Kingdom for four years.

Carol Kelley has been named GM of Frederick Brown Jr. Amphitheater in Peachtree City, Ga. Kelley has worked in Atlanta for Turner Broadcasting, Variety Playhouse and Center Stage Theatre.

San Diego Convention Center Corp. has appointed Mardeen Mattix as SVP and CFO. She will succeed Mark Emch, who will retire after a 24-year career. Mattix was previously the corporation’s controller.

Paul Noland has been named CEO of Accesso Technology Group. Noland is president and CEO of the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions.   
               
L-Acoustics has appointed Michael Palmer to the new post of head of sales. Palmer comes to L-Acoustics from Allen & Heath, where he spent the past 11 years as U.S. national sales manager and vice president of sales. Palmer has held domestic sales and marketing positions with both Turbosound and Radian Audio Engineering.

SMG-managed Intrust Bank Arena in Wichita, Kan., has named Nathaniel Porter as director of event services. Most recently, Porter was senior event services manager at the SMG-managed BOK Center in Tulsa, Okla. Porter returns to Intrust Bank Arena after serving as premium sales and service manager and event coordinator from 2010 to 2012. Also at the arena, Tyson Satterfield is the new warehouse manager and Charlie Pinell has moved from part time to full time on the operations crew.

Neil Ryan has joined LiveStyle as SVP and head of North America production.  Ryan has more than 20 years of experience producing live music, touring and special events, including work with music festivals. Ryan will be based in LiveStyle’s NYC offices.

Eric Valley has left Cirque du Soleil has joined PYE (Plan Your Event) as a partner. Valley spent most of the past year opening Cirque’s Big Top in China.   
      
Kent Yelverton has been named manager of the North Carolina State Fair in Raleigh. Yelverton replaces Wesley Wyatt, who retired after 38 years of state service. Yelverton has been with the state Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services for 26 years.

Lisa Zechmeister is the new primary talent buyer for Burl’s Creek Event Grounds and the Boots and Hearts Music Festival, which hosts 40,000 festivalgoers and campers annually at the 600-acre site north of Toronto in Oro-Medonte, Ontario.

PASSINGS
Russ Blair, 85, VP/director of Tupperware Convention Center, Kissimmee, Fla., on Feb. 15 at his home in Longwood, Fla. Blair retired from the position in 1992 and afterward remained active as a marketing consultant, executive director of a charitable foundation and, beginning in April 2002, as a volunteer with the Altamonte Springs Police Department in the records section, where he served for almost 15 years.
Dan Spellens, 67, longtime manager of the Long Beach (Calif.) Arena and Theatre, on Jan. 29 at his home in Long Beach after a battle with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Spellens, a part of the SMG family, was also an agent for acts such as Fleetwood Mac and Journey, among others.
Brian Murphy, 70, West Coast executive vice president for AEG Presents, March 6 of respiratory disease.

MOVE OF THE MONTH
Sports construction executive Dale Koger has resigned from Legends. Over the past 20 months, Koger spent most of his time managing the Los Angeles Stadium and Entertainment District at Hollywood Park, where the NFL’s Rams are building a $2.6 billion stadium tied to a mixed-use development. Koger spent 13 years at Turner Construction and previously worked with Clark Construction.


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THE SYMPHONY OF A WELL-RUN CHANGEOVER
 
Posted: 19 Mar 2018, 8:00 pm

ASK A PRO: HANK ABATE, EVP OF VENUE MANAGEMENT, MADISON SQUARE GARDEN

The grammys in New York at Madison Square Garden was by far the most complicated changeover I’ve ever seen. The move-in lasted 10 days. There were 100 stagehands working around the clock for five full days. They hung 345,000 pounds overhead. There were 30 electricians and 50 laborers, and we were working constantly, three shifts of people throughout that entire period.

In addition, we had 31st Street closed off between Seventh and Eighth avenues where the Grammys put up a massive tent, 75 to 100 yards long, and we had to coordinate that. That was where they held the red carpet.

We also had to convert 10 luxury boxes into dressing rooms, because we didn’t have enough dressing rooms for all the stars.

During those 10 setup days, we also did two Knicks basketball games.

For the move out, we stored a lot of the Grammys equipment in the exhibition hall and at the same time set up for a Knicks game on Monday night. Then on Monday night, we finished moving the event out of the arena, all the overhead stuff, which took into Tuesday morning. We were done on Tuesday afternoon. A shift of at least 125 people pulled that off.

That was all for that one two-hour event Sunday, Jan. 28. And it was a great show. It went off perfectly.

I’ve been in this business 40 years and have been involved with two major companies — SMG for 20 years, Spectra for three — and had exposure to many, many operations, including two Super Bowls, and I will tell you that, by far, I’ve never seen a crew that can do it the way Madison Square Garden does it.
We have over 430 events a year between the Garden and the Theater in the Garden. Sometimes the changeover crew is working constantly, 24 hours a day, setting up events and doing events. When I was with SMG, especially when I was running the arena in Pittsburgh, people would say the Garden is a really expensive place to do business, but the crew does a great job. I’ve never seen anyone who can get it done as well or as fast as they can.

LIKE WATCHING A SYMPHONY
In a normal building you do a quick change maybe three times a year, with two games on the same day. In this building, that happens six to eight times a year. When changing from hockey to basketball, you have about a two-hour gap. Imagine, an ice rink has to come apart; you take down all the glass, all of the dashers, lay an entire subfloor down, lay an entire basketball floor down, put up all the scorers’ tables and chairs on the floor and, while all of this is going on, clean the arena that had 18,000 people in it just an hour ago. All of that has to be done in a 2.5-hour period and you have to be ready to open the doors again to let the next crowd in.

These guys have it down to a science, they all work so well together. It’s almost like watching a symphony. I’ve been in the business for 40 years, but I still love sitting in the stands for a quick changeover here, just seeing how well these guys pull this off.

They coordinate a lot in advance. They’ll lay the subfloor for the ice down a certain way and they know exactly what pieces go down where based on where they store it in the back. They don’t have to check for it. Changeovers have to be very organized, very detailed.

Even for a concert, talk to any of the road guys for major bands and they’ll tell you these stagehands can work miracles the way they get shows in and out of the place. Remember, our event floor is on the fifth floor. These guys are unloading in the parking area down below and literally lugging all of this stuff up with forklifts or pushing it up a steep ramp. We have a freight elevator, but it’s quicker for them to drive a lot of it up on the forklifts.

We started planning for the Grammys a year in advance. A month or two before, we started collecting all the plans, CAD drawings, in anticipation of what was coming in. They had time to review it. The Grammys brought in a crew of roadies to assist. It was like any other concert, only massively bigger.

BEST PRACTICES
First and foremost, think about safety. Because you are working with a crew of anywhere from 75 to 125 people who are all trying to get this job done, you have to make sure that crew is trained well in advance and they understand what safety is. If there are guys rigging overhead, make sure the guys on the ground are wearing safety helmets. If they’re going to be lifting heavy things, make sure they are wearing safety vests that will protect their backs. Make sure they clearly understand they have to look out for the guy in front of, behind and beside them.  If you’re driving a forklift, know before you back up or turn around that there are so many people working around you and you must not hit anybody.

Insist on extensive training. Our guys know where various pieces of the floor, dashers and glass have to be and at what point they have to be in place. My VP of ops literally stands there and knows by looking at his watch at what point they’re supposed to be. He has it down to the minute.
Consistency. Make sure you have as many of the same people on hand to do these things over and over again. And pay well. I gladly pay the cost of union labor because the quality of people I’m getting and the fact I’m getting them consistently makes me sleep better at night knowing they can get the job done.

DEALING WITH THE OCCASIONAL SOUR NOTE 
The absolute worst changeover was when I managed the Civic Arena in Pittsburgh. The Civic Arena was a domed building and the ceiling went up over 180 feet. It didn’t have a normal grid system to hang stuff off of, because of the dome and because the roof would open. So the fix for shows was to have cables installed throughout the roof. Shows would come in and you’d use a cherry picker to attach a cable to the band’s grid to hold the lights and speakers. It was always a challenge, but we always managed to do it.

Until a sold-out Celine Dion concert in 1998. I was at home, when a call came in from ops managers to come down. The cables had just been reinstalled after an inspection, and in the process of doing that, you have to bring in heavy-duty cranes and send someone up in a bucket to plant those cables onto the roof with Crosby clamps.

That day, they were trying to hang part of the grid with the cable and one of the cables let loose. The Crosby clamp wasn’t tight enough. Fortunately, no one was hurt, but Dion’s production manager basically said to me that unless we got an engineer in to inspect all the cables and ensure they were tight enough to hold the equipment, there’s no way he was putting his star under this grid.

We stood there an hour trying to figure something out. The only way to get to those cables was to bring in a crane and, even if we could, where would we find one on a Saturday afternoon? We even thought about calling the fire department to use a hook and ladder, but that wouldn’t go high enough. We had a show four hours away. I was turning grayer by the hour. I’m on the phone talking to Rob Light on one line, the production manager in person, and SMG’s Wes Westley and my boss then, Glenn Mon, saying I had to do something and oh, by the way, the press found out about it and they wanted to talk to me.

At the end of the day we had to cancel the show and all my people stood outside telling people the show was canceled because we didn’t have enough time to get the word out on public media.

We had to reschedule the show for a month later and had to pay to get all of Dion’s equipment back to Pittsburgh from Canada because now it was a one-off and no longer part of a tour. And we had to pay all of the expense of setting it up. Fortunately, the show came off quite successfully.

The end of the story is actually not a bad situation. We ended up suing the company that reinstalled the cables and they paid for the expense of redoing the show.
That night, my sister who was visiting from Connecticut saw me on TV and said, ‘Is that Hank? He got pretty old.’ I looked pretty beat up.

But you don’t manage a building that does hundreds of events a year and has a million people going through it and not have situations you have to be ready to deal with, no matter how prepared you think you are.

As told to Linda Deckard by Hank Abate, executive vice president of venue management for Madison Square Garden in New York.


SECURITY TIP OF THE MONTH
Ideas and suggestions on live event safety, security and crowd management from Prevent Advisors.
When securitizing venues, the focus should be prevention strategies designed to close security gaps and orient the work force toward higher attention cycles relative to suspicious activities. Threats today continue to evolve, hence the need to focus on behavior and not the stereotyping of people.
Tip: Training, training, training: Screening, behavior detection, suspicious activity reporting, de-escalation/conflict resolution, crowd management. In addition, security and guest service should be proactive and engaging. Interact with patrons and patrol entire facility to encourage deterrence, and avoid daily predictable patterns.


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WITH SPOT ON TOUR, YONDR VENTURES FURTHER INTO MUSIC
 
Posted: 19 Mar 2018, 8:00 pm

Yondr, a company that gives performing artists a way to keep cell phones and their attendant distractions out of the audience, has hit a milestone with its inclusion on the coming Jack White tour.

Musical artists such as Bruno Mars and Alicia Keys have used the Yondr system at various gigs across the nation, but White announced in January that he would use it for his coming 40-date tour. Company founder and CEO Graham Dugoni confirmed that Yondr and its lockable phone cases would be on site at every stop.
“To work with artists like him on a long tour, it’s great for us. It’s something we’ve been preparing for a while,” Dugoni said. White kicks off the tour April 19 at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit. The tour, his first in four years, is in support of his third solo album, “Boarding House Reach,” which will go on sale March 23.
Yondr provides entertainers and venues lockable cell phone pouches which fans must use when entering the venue. Fans put their phones in the pouches, lock them up and put them back in their pockets or bags. They can unlock the phones when they leave the main performance area. The goal is to give attendees a more intimate connection with shows, and it also allows entertainers to keep their content from being streamed on the Internet.
The high-profile outing with White will expose Yondr to more venues, creating opportunities for new business as more musical artists become interested in the idea of prohibiting cell phones during their shows. Acts like White contract with Yondr, but venues can also pay to have the pouches as a permanent item, said Kelly Taylor, Yondr’s director of marketing.  
The company doesn’t release its pricing publicly, but Taylor said for artists, “the price comes down to how big the show is and the frequency of shows on the tour.”
When Yondr first launched its lockable cell phone pouches three years ago, it was an uphill battle trying to get venues and artists to understand its purpose. “Now, we just explain how it works rather than why,” Dugoni said.
After patenting the product, Dugoni launched Yondr in 2014 and first gained tractions with big-name comedians such as Dave Chappelle and Chris Rock, who didn’t want fans to see their latest comedy routines online before coming to a show. The service is also finding interest from areas such as schools, government buildings and courthouses, and summer camps, but the White tour points toward a growing presence in live music.
Taylor, said it’s no surprise that White is using the company’s product for his tour. “Jack White is one of the artists that, even before Yondr, was speaking out about phones at his shows,” she said.
“His tour is mainly in big rooms and arenas,” Taylor said. “That’s nothing we haven’t done before. We did arena shows with Chris Rock, Dave Chappelle and the Misfits.”
White’s tour will travel across the United States, hit a couple of cities in Canada and then 10 venues in Europe, where Dugoni noted that the company had just finished a run with Rock. At least one Yondr representative will be at each show, ensuring venue staff knows how to use the lockable cases.
Training venue staff, Dugoni said, is a piece of cake. “It’s a transferable skill to put people’s phones in the cases,” he said. 
Bobby Castronovo, vice president of event services at the 19,000-seat Barclays Center in Brooklyn, used Yondr when Chris Rock was at his arena in December.
“We were definitely a little hesitant about the whole process,” Castronovo said. “The Yondr people were there. They streamline it and they do a lot of advance work to figure out how many entrances that they have to work with.”
Getting fans in and out of the arena wasn’t as bad as he thought it might be. “It really ran really, really smooth, especially with the egress and getting fans back their phones. I was shocked,” Castronovo said.
Typically, it takes the packed Barclays Center about 15 minutes to get people out of the venue after a show, and Castronovo thinks it added 15 minutes to that process.
“Now that we’ve done it before, we’re definitely more comfortable with it. We really have no issues with someone who requests using Yondr,” he said.
Aside from the ease of using Yondr, Castronovo thinks it enhances the guest experience for the show. “We’re all for it,”
he said.
Increased business prompted Dugoni to open an office in New York last year, and the company is preparing to open another in the United Kingdom this year.
“We’ve hit the point where it makes sense to just have people” in Europe, he said.
The company is private and does not release revenue figures, but it’s growing on a monthly basis, Dugoni said.
“In the last couple of months alone, we’re hearing from everyone all over the world. We get multiple emails from people every minute on our website,” he said.


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NEW FRONTIER
 
Posted: 19 Mar 2018, 7:05 pm

Feels like the First Time,” the hit by classic rockers Foreigner, could be an unofficial theme song for the McAllen (Texas) Performing Arts Center, artists performing on the venue’s nascent stage, and many of the patrons.

The state-of-the-art facility, located in the Rio Grande Valley about 10 miles north of the Mexican border and 240 miles due south of San Antonio, celebrated its first birthday in November 2017 and is bringing acts and shows to town that until now haven’t played the area as well as several that haven’t been to the region for years — including Foreigner.

The band kicked off its 2018 tour playing to a sold-out house, Foreigner’s first performance in the area in 15 years, according to McAllen PAC officials.

“We’re seeing shows that would’ve never considered the market (before the McAllen PAC opened),” said Omar Rodriguez, director of convention facilities for the venue. “It’s an audience that hasn’t seen many of these shows. Seasoned shows can come here and the appreciation is here.”

In fact the venue’s first major run was the musical “Annie,” which packed the 1,829-seat hall and provided access to a new form of entertainment for the nearly 4 million people that live in a 90-mile radius of the center.

“‘Annie’ is more of a family show, for young kids. My kids went to their first musical ever,” Rodriguez says, adding, “Their eyes popped, and that’s what we’ve brought to McAllen — the opportunity to bring these shows and give them the full experience.”

Texas is known for a vibrant music scene across genres, and the venue opened with Tito Puente Jr., but the lineup has also featured a number of ethnic dance troupes including Shen Yun as well as both the Moscow Ballet and Russian Grand Ballet. Rodriguez says locals have flocked to support these performances as well as the touring “Dancing With the Stars.”

The longtime facilities executive stressed that the venue was designed to accommodate every piece of scenery and equipment necessary to put on a full traveling Broadway show. He proudly noted that “Annie” fully loaded out onstage and that nothing was left on the truck. This is opening doors to bigger acts that Rodriguez says would not have previously considered McAllen.

“A lot of the dock was built for ‘This is what “Phantom of the Opera” needs,’” Rodriguez said, referring to the Broadway classic’s legendary set. The depth of the stage is 57 feet, “the proscenium opening is 75 feet wide (and) the height is almost 95 feet,” noted Rodriguez. “We didn’t want to have to make another investment to bring in these shows.”

The McAllen PAC is angling to bring in not only seasoned shows but also other big-name acts who may want to extend their stay in the Lone Star State, play to new audiences, and add a few dates for this city south of Edinburg, Texas, that was previously uncharted for many booking agents.

The facility is cashing in on its relatively remote location and lack of competition for major cultural events. “There isn’t any ‘nearby,’ that’s what is interesting about this market, when you come in from Houston or San Antonio,” Rodriguez said.

He notes the State Farm Arena in neighboring Hidalgo attracts rock shows, ice hockey and arena football, but adds, “We’re coming up on the cultural map. What the performing arts center is adding is the next level, the cultural stuff. … We’re the perfect distance for that next stop when you go to the major markets in Texas. It’s worth extending your week in Texas.”

COOL DESIGNS
The venue’s design was inspired by its local environment, with perhaps a bit of that sensibility that everything’s bigger in Texas. After all, the main entrance’s lobby ceiling is six stories high. The color scheme is designed to represent the elements and help cool patrons, according to Rodriguez, who explains: “Inspirations for the design and colors came from sunsets on the Rio Grande River — deep purples and blues and magentas, and a sense of coolness. We have a lot of hot days here.”

The wide stage not only accommodates traveling Broadway shows but also creates a home for the Valley Symphony Orchestra, yet the venue can be accordioned to handle more intimate concerts with adjustable acoustics (acoustic drapes) and the ability to scale down the room.
The venue’s acoustics got a serious improv test from none other than Tony Bennett. The crooner surprised the crowd, and McAllen PAC officials, when he dropped the mic at his show on that stage and sang a cappella. Rodriguez said the venue passed that test — they could hear Bennett in the upper balcony.

The singer was equally impressed, saying afterward that McAllen “did it right” in  constructing the venue and designing the acoustics, according to Rodriguez.

The McAllen PAC sold out 30 percent of its 71 shows in year one. The venue is building on its strong inaugural lineup, which also included “Jersey Boys” along with the sellout runs of “Annie” and Shen Yun.

Looking ahead at marquee names, Rodriguez is excited about another well-known first-timer for this market: 1960s icon Frankie Valli. Yanni and a full-week run for “Les Misérables” are other shows the McAllen PAC official says may help lure other bold-face name acts to this stage down the line: “We’re showing Broadway our market can sustain the kind of show that needs to be here for the longer run.”

He says there are opportunities to work more closely with local corporate sponsors and activate around big acts in year two.

Asked what lessons he would share with others developing a similar venue, Rodriguez doesn’t hesitate to say that everyone, including the opening-night artist, needs to be flexible because construction may take longer than projected: “Add another 30 to 60 days to the contractor’s date to be ready. It’ll take you that long to get your equipment in and understand everything that’s going on with that. Get your staff on early, up to a year out, to have them engaged to support artists.”

BUILDING BRIDGES AS TALK CENTERS ON A WALL
The McAllen (Texas) Performing Arts Center, about 10 miles north of the Mexican border, is literally bridging a cultural gap in an area that has taken center stage in the national debate over building a bigger wall between the U.S. and Mexico along the Rio Grande.

Omar Rodriguez, director of convention facilities for the McAllen PAC, says even if President Donald Trump gets the larger and extended wall he wants, the show will go on at the venue. The city of McAllen has a pair of international bridges with passport controls facilitating free trade and the flow of family and friends visiting across the border. Those bridges also bring in patrons and performers.

“It won’t affect us any differently than in San Diego,” Rodriguez said, adding, “The wall is more of a political statement. There’s always been a border to cross and INS and border patrol (that) people have to deal with to cross the border. The folks that can legally cross will continue to do so. (The issue) hasn’t affected those crossings.”

This is important in a community that has a larger addressable market in terms of population south of the border. Rodriguez puts their target market in a 90-mile radius on the Mexican side at 2 million to 2.5 million people, compared with 1.3 million on the U.S. side of the river.
“Sometimes the rhetoric in Washington and even in Austin gets beyond what’s going on on a daily basis,” noted Rodriguez, a 32-year McAllen convention and arts venue veteran.

“Politicians go for the photo op. It’s not the fantastic economy here, (but) they’re going to the wall or the bridge. That’s the photo op the rest of the country gets of us.”

While many national acts and their booking agents could draw negative preconceptions from news stories focusing on the wall, NAFTA and immigration, Rodriguez said he had gotten rave reviews from traveling artists who have played the PAC for the warm reception from the McAllen audience and the community.

“At the political level, it’s ‘how bad everything is,’ but when they get here it’s ‘how good it is.’ That’s refreshing to hear,” Rodriguez said. “Hopefully they pass that on to the next artist who gets an offer to come here. They’re going to have a good time when they come.”
— By Robert Gray


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HOME STRETCH
 
Posted: 19 Mar 2018, 7:00 pm

 

The long anticipated Bert Ogden Arena in Edinburg, Texas, is expected to open this summer, giving a new $88 million venue to a remote area of the Rio Grande Valley.

“We don’t have an exact opening date, but we’re thinking by the end of June or early July. We are putting a lot of time and effort to get the last phase of the project done,” said Marty Hinojosa, lead architect for Cantu Construction, developer of the arena.

Edinburg is located just 20 miles from the Mexico border, and the 219,649-square-foot  arena will be the new home of the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, a National Basketball Association G-League team. The Vipers are owned by Alonzo Cantu, who also owns Cantu Construction.
The arena will seat 9,000 for concerts, 7,600 for basketball games, roughly 7,200 for rodeos and family shows and will have 12 luxury suites with 18 seats each. Parking can fit up to 2,200 cars.
Unpredictable factors, such as weather and the need of building materials, pushed the opening date back a month or two, Hinojosa said. Originally, the arena was slated to open in the first quarter of 2018.

Late last August, Hurricane Harvey hit Port Mansfield, Texas, which is roughly 65 miles east of Edinburg, and many of the contractors who live along the Gulf Coast had to halt work on the arena for 10 days.

“They had to stay home with their families to help with cleanup,” Hinojosa said, highlighting that the hurricane did not hit Edinburg. “It was very important to us for them to go home, because we know that’s important for the people who are going to be using the arena.”
Aside from Hurricane Harvey, the arena also had 140 non-construction weather days due to rain and wind. The construction company also experienced delays with material delivery.
Perhaps the biggest undertaking in getting the entire project off the ground was building new infrastructure — water, gas, drainage, sewage and fiber optic cable installation — before vertical construction on the arena could even start. The venue site is located next to an interstate in a rural part of Edinburg on what used to be agricultural land.

“After we broke ground, people would drive by and say ‘We don’t see anything,’” Hinojosa said. “It’s because all the work was going on underground for the first six to eight months.”
Installing the massive infrastructure now allows new businesses and residential opportunities, she said.

“It will be much easier for people to develop there,” she said. “It’s already started. There are some hotel and retail spaces next to the arena. There’s a strip where people can come in and build a new restaurant.”

Residential development has already started to sprout to the east of the arena, Hinojosa said.
“This is one of the biggest venues in our area,” she said, noting how the city and Cantu Construction are excited to see the economic impact the arena that has a population of roughly 2 million.

According to a study conducted but the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, the venue is expected to have a “$230 million immediate economic impact with the new facility and $76 million impact each year after.”

Funding for the arena was made possible through a private and public partnership between the city of Edinburg and Cantu.

Taxpayers were not burdened with the financing. Instead, Edinburg invested $30 million through a Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone, a political subdivision of a municipality or county in the state of Texas created to implement tax increment financing.

The remaining $55 million dollars was funded by a grant raised by the Vipers.

“The $55 million grant gives Mr. Cantu the right to lease the arena from the city for $350,000 per year. This lease and development agreement was proposed by the city of Edinburg and was modeled after the Toyota Center, BBVA Compass Stadium and the Harris County-Houston Sports Authority,” according to a fact sheet from Cantu Construction.

Three things were taken into consideration when designing the new arena: technology, comfort, and food, said Yajaira Flores, director of booking and marketing at Bert Ogden Arena and H-E-B Park, the soccer stadium that opened next to the arena site late last summer. Next to the arena is H-E-B soccer stadium that opened late last summer. It’s owned by Cantu Construction, has 17,000-seats (20,000 GA floor) and a 2,500-capacity amphitheater.

“We felt that those three things would really cater to the fan experience,” she said.
The Bert Ogden Arena went with a non-traditional food management company and hired Luby’s and Fuddruckers as the food and beverage provider.

“It’s really good food … really good comfort food,” Flores said.

Additionally, the design team wanted to give fans comfortable seating, so the seats measure 48 inches from the front to the back.

“That’s double the leg room that other venues have,” Flores said. “We didn’t want people to be crowded in this small space.”

State-of-the-art technology also is a huge part of the new venue with new ribbon boards and a massive new scoreboard that’s deemed the biggest in the NBA G league.

The arena also will have double the points-of-sale stations that other venues have, giving fans extra places to purchase retail or food concessions, Flores said. 

“This arena was built to improve the quality of life of our community,” Cantu said in a statement. “This arena is about civic pride and is an economic engine that will create jobs for South Texas.”

It’s estimated 1,000 jobs will be created from the arena.

Bert Ogden Auto Group landed the naming rights to the arena last summer for an undisclosed amount.

“The arena is designed to deliver exceptional live performances and revitalize our community through sports and live entertainment events. Our residents no longer have to travel to different cities to see superior quality events but can enjoy them in their own backyard,” Cantu said.


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SMART THINKING
 
Posted: 19 Mar 2018, 7:00 pm

It’s “scary to think” Smart Financial Centre of Sugar Land (Texas) might host 150 concerts and events in 2018. But having blown through all its projections for year one, including doing 130 events, after opening Jan. 14, 2017, it’s very likely, said Gary Becker, general manager there as a partner in Ace SL LLC, which helped fund and operates the venue.

“We had a great year,” Becker said. “And we have 78 shows already booked for this year. Of those 78, all but six are before Aug. 1. It’s just crazy.”

The secret sauce is flexibility. Smart Financial Centre has numerous seating configurations, all of which include moving walls as well as dropping curtains for an intimate, intentional feel.
“We offer up a venue that accommodates a variety of events, and not in a cutdown or curtain version,” said Mike McGee, Barmac Consulting and consultant to the project. “If you saw this building set up for 2,200 seats, and stood on the stage and looked into the audience chamber, you’d think it was a 2,200-seat theater. Nothing identifies it’s bigger than that.”

It defies McGee’s theory that every building is a Size 2 (too big or too small). “This building, with its seating capabilities in flexible mode, has a multitude of opportunities for everything out there,” McGee said, noting that point is proved with its diverse event mix to date: 26 percent theatrical, 12 percent comedy, 34 percent concerts, 13 percent community and 15 percent cultural.

Jason Rio, president of Live Nation’s Houston office, notes, “Smart Financial has the appropriate concert feel. It’s a different vibe. You’re not trying to re-create the tone of the room as you’d have to do with Jones or Hobby [performing arts centers in Houston]. It’s built into the room.”

A rock band like The Killers feels connected, Rio added. “It’s electric because they built the venue factoring in the fan experience, but also the back of house experience. The Killers were out with 15 trucks and we fit 14 of the 15 in there. It had the scale of United Center in Chicago. Because of the layout of Smart, the fans could get that whole Killers spectacle. They didn’t have to sacrifice anything.”

Comedy has also been a strong niche for Smart Financial Centre. The venue did 10 comedy shows in 2017, including opening Jan. 14, 2017, with two Jerry Seinfeld performances, and continuing with two Chris Rock, Chris Tucker, Adam Sandler, Billy Crystal, Jay Leno and, coming up, Ron White and Jim Gaffigan, both of whom will sell out. “We’ll possibly add a second date for Jim,” Becker said of the roll they’re on.

Increasing the size of the room is something the theater can do with ease. If they’re already at capacity, they add a second show. They set up for 3,000 tickets for Earth, Wind & Fire, “but we’ll sell 4,000,” Becker said. “Everything we’ve done has been successful.”

From experience, they have learned how to grow the house. Configurations include the three center sections, called the small house set-up, with 3,210 manifested seats; medium wide, which means opening the walls on the sides, 4,334 manifested seats; medium narrow, which means opening the “balcony,” though it’s on the same level, just 10 rows back, 4,544; or full house, 6,240. Those numbers do not include suites. In all cases, the seating manifest is set up for a Gold Circle of 399 seats, which is reduced to 284 if the performer requests a pit.

“For a comedian, we’re more prone to open the walls because the sightlines are easy since they’re playing downstage center,” Becker said. “But for Chicago at the end of the month, the walls are closed but the balcony is open because they play so many members upstage and we want the audience to see all of the band.”

There are actually six or seven configurations possible, he added, but he’s now looking to add one more. Listening to performers and patrons is a religion at Smart Financial Centre.
“We’re getting ready to buy some drapes to cover some seats so we can offer more versatility to an artist,” Becker said. That $2,000 purchase from Sew What is in response to G-Easy, who rehearsed and opened his tour at Smart Financial Centre in February. “He was concerned about empty seats. He was selling more than he thought so we were opening up sections, and we had a couple of sections in the balcony in the corners that would be empty. He didn’t want to see those,” Becker said.

The new black drape will solve that issue. It will be cut to the dimensions of two 240-seat sections and will look like it’s supposed to be there, Becker said. “I can open the center three and the balcony and, two days before the show, I can open another 400 seats instead of 800. It’s being as versatile as we can be and making it work for the artist. We want to be the coolest kid on the block.”

To that end, Becker, who worked shows for his family’s Pace Sports & Entertainment for decades, made sure the theater had tons of power and can hang anything (300,000 pounds).
“Backstage couldn’t be better. We can load in four at a time and we can park 14 vehicles,” Becker said.

Even more telling of his history is the set-up of the rooms backstage. Production is upstage right and the artist is in a controlled environment stage left. The dressing rooms stage left have a private entrance for the artist and “can be totally isolated from everywhere and everybody – the dock, production offices, in-house production, the dining room. The artists can totally secure themselves from everybody and a lot of artists want that. It’s unusual to think of that when you go to construction. I did, because I was a production guy for 25 years.”

In 2017, Smart Financial Centre sold 352,000 tickets, compared with a goal of 250,000, Becker said.

The theater has a full-time staff of 20 and not one has quit, Becker said, a fact he’s proud of given the hard work and long hours. They will host 14 shows this month. “They want to be here. We had that conversation two days ago in a staff meeting. I asked the department heads to tell me if we can do this amount of business with what we have. No one contemplated it would be like this. They said thank you for asking; it’s something we have to address.”

Location has been a huge boost to Smart Financial Centre. Houston is the fourth-largest city in the country, with a good economy, and the building has a niche Houston doesn’t have covered, Becker said. “Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion is a drop-dead great amphitheater, but to see a show with 4,000-5,000 people under the roof is not the best for the patrons or artists, nor is a basketball arena proper for intimate theatrical shows. We’ve filled that void.”

McGee believes “the energy this building has is unbelievable. You conceptualize how it will work, put it together and apply it, and son of a gun, it worked.”

Economically, it pencils out because the theater does not require an arena-size staff. The audience experience is superb given their proximity to the stage. And ticket prices can be somewhat higher for such an intimate experience. “That allows us to create a dynamic where we can offer comparable economics [to arenas] for some of these higher-profile acts,” McGee said. Typically, shows go on sale through Ticketmaster with 3-5 tiered pricing, like an arena.
“It’s a great feeling to know you’ve created something that everybody likes and appreciates,” Becker declared. “I sit at the back of the house on the ADA platform behind the mixer and see the patrons enjoy coming here. One guy told me backstage it was great going into a production office and seeing a plug where the plug’s supposed to be. I thought that was pretty cool.”

VERSATILE TASTE BUDS
The all-time high per cap for Spectrum Food at Smart Financial Centre of Sugar Land was $27. It occurred during a daylong Westfest, featuring Ice Cube and local talent, running for seven hours.

Throughout the day there were fresh faces and people and Ronny Smeink of Spectrum Catering & Concessions was ready for them. “It was the perfect storm of celebrities and local artists,” he recalled.

In the first year of operating the multifaceted theater, he has sated the appetites of a variety of patrons, most new to the building and there to see all genres of music and arts.

When the venue opened, he predicted the ratio of drink to food would be 85-to-15. He was right. Going forward, he’s hoping to increase the food portion to 20 percent and, with the 60-by-53-foot kitchen completed last March, two months after opening, and a year of experience behind him, he’s prepared to make that happen.

“The kitchen made a world of difference,” Smeink said. “We’re able to bring more products in and test the waters because we have more refrigeration and freezer space.”

“We did Mercy Me and sold out, but the per cap was $3.50,” said Gary Becker, chairman of Ace SL LLC and general manager of the venue. “Whereas tonight we’re doing Patti LaBelle and the per caps will probably be $18. Dave Matthews was $20-something.

The menu is modified based on the demographic expected. Chef Greg King is really busy, Smeink said, as are the 60-100 on staff. “We are smoking and curing our own meats in-house. And we do our own suite catering.”

The biggest revelation during a year of operating is the versatility of the building, with everything from Broadway and ballet to metal and rock, he said.

Post-Hurricane Harvey, which flooded the Wortham in downtown Houston, the Houston Ballet moved its 14-show Nutcracker run to Smart Financial Centre. Smeink had never served that crowd before, but knew it would be family friendly, with lots of kids, so he added a popcorn station with hot chocolate and cotton candy and freshly baked cookies and commemorative cups. Patrons were able to take food into the theater, which helped increase per caps.
With an average of 3,000 per performance, Spectrum did a healthy $9 per cap for Nutcracker.
“I was very pleasantly surprised with what we did with Nutcracker at last-minute notice,” Smeink said. “It took a team effort.”

PARTNERS ON THE SAME PAGE
Live Nation’s Jason Rio considers himself lucky he arrived in Houston just at Smart Financial Centre was opening next door in Sugar Land.

The theater has an intimacy with an in-your-face rock show that’s “this immediate thing. It lives in a unique space,” Rio said, noting he has booked probably 35 shows in  the year-old, 6,400-seat venue. “Hopefully more will be built because, across the board, it’s a win-win-win. Before, in Houston, you had to underplay or overplay. You couldn’t get in that middle. Now you can.”
It’s a win for the mayor and assistant city manager of Sugar Land and the CEO of Smart Financial Credit Union as well.

Mayor Joe Zimmerman’s best advice to any other city council considering such a project is to “make sure you have a great partner. Spend your time researching, qualifying — it’s like getting married. You only want to do it one time. Identify that great partner and go all in. The goals and values of our city, we share with our partners.”

Referring to Gary Becker, Ace SL LLC, and the Becker family, Rio agreed. “Clearly Gary saw an opportunity through the history he has with his family in the market … say that last name and a lot of clout comes with that. It’s been incredible to see how you can take anything from a show like Dave Matthews and Tim Reynolds or Sting and see the intimacy at Smart.”

Smart Financial Centre has been a 10-year journey and started because the city of Sugar Land solicits the opinion of its citizens, Zimmerman said. “In 2007, our citizens said they wanted five venues – a ballpark, a performing arts facility, a festival site, a cultural arts center and a second hotel conference center. We’ve now delivered three of five.” Smart Financial Centre, with its outside plaza, is the performing arts and festival piece of the puzzle.

Financially, it’s important that the partner has skin in the game, and the Becker family, which operates Smart Financial Centre, does, committing $10 million of the $84 million price tag and doing innumerable community and charitable outreaches as well. And the theater generates sales and use tax, which is a large part of the city’s general fund and budget, the mayor added.
Sugar Land was also able to leverage funds that are restricted for economic development purposes and cannot go to general fund operations of the city, added Jennifer May, assistant city manager. “This was done without touching any general property tax dollars, which is intriguing to a lot of cities.”

Feasibility studies in 2012 estimated in total direct and indirect community economic benefit of the theater would be over $26 million annually, May said. “We have no doubt they are exceeding that. Also, the study projected direct net new tax revenue. We have received over $580,000 directly from the venue in its first year of operation, nearly 50 percent greater than the feasibility. Smart Financial Centre has obliterated every projection they had.”

Larry Seidl, Smart Financial Credit Union CEO, has never regretted becoming title sponsor. He, too, has seen expectations exceeded.

“When the Centre opened, we felt this would be a successful partnership for all of the residents of Fort Bend County. After a very successful first year, the word has spread throughout the Houston area and beyond. It is in a lot of conversations across the state, so getting recognized all around the state was not even imaginable to begin  with,” Seidl said in an e-mail interview.
Agreeing with the mayor that good partners are key, Seidl cited his comfort level that “Gary Becker and his team were very well known and respected in the entertainment arena. Gary and his team have exceeded all expectations, and that is the reason we wanted to be a part of something as special as this venue. We knew the partners had our same values and we jumped at the chance to be a part of this world-class facility. “

His advice to other corporations considering such an investment is to realize it is not just about naming rights. “It is more important that you align yourselves with key partners that have your same vision, work ethic and professionalism, and are committed to giving back to the citizens of their communities,” Seidl said.


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ATLANTA’S PIG PICKIN: NOTHING TO SWINE ABOUT
 
Posted: 19 Mar 2018, 7:00 pm

By Noelle Riley

A childhood memory for one ballpark chef launched a menu item called Pig Pickin that became a hit with Atlanta Braves fans at SunTrust Park.

Delaware North Sportservice Executive Chef Pete Smithing created the dish last season, which he says is loaded with ingredients that Southerners love.

“It has everything you would get at a Sunday pig pickin’ gathering,” said Smithing, referring to Southern gatherings where a whole hog is barbecued and guests bring side dishes. “I grew up in rural North Carolina, and we’d always go to pig pickin’s. This is our homage to North Carolina.”

Packaged as a Southern comfort bowl, Pig Pickin is made with smoked pork that’s been slow-cooked in a Coca-Cola barbecue sauce, homemade mac and cheese, summer-streaked coleslaw, fries and grilled corn served in a crispy, barbecue seasoned tortilla shell that is finished off with a handful of pork rinds.

Creating recipes with readily available food is an important part of Smithing’s job. “It’s kind of an over-the-top dish, but it’s really fun, and people kind of took to it,” he said. “We have all those ingredients around the stadium and midseason we came up with it.”

The dish costs $15, which Smithing thinks is a reasonable price for such a large ballpark food item.

Smithing’s boss, Shawn Mattox, the Delaware North Sportservice general manager at SunTrust Park, was able to taste-test the ingredient-packed recipe when it was being created.

“I sampled portions of it. I cannot tell you I’ve sat down and had the whole thing,” Mattox said with a laugh.

One of the reasons Mattox hired Smithing was because of his ability to embrace and promote the numerous food offerings that are popular at ballparks.

“He was not only excited about doing the ‘foo-foo’ food, but also the heart of our business, which is our concessions,” Mattox said. “I always look for someone who cares about all the food we do in the ballpark and doesn’t have a passion for just one area.”

SunTrust Park, with 41,000 seats, opened last March and cost $672 million. The stadium boasts 17 concession and restaurant concepts and has more than 80 eateries on stadium grounds. Smithing has 250 employees under his leadership, including eight sous chefs. Before joining the culinary team at SunTrust Park, Smithing worked at the Atlanta Country Club, where he managed more than 50 employees.

Supervising that many people, not to mention cooking for that many, can create a stressful situation, but Smithing has his ways of dealing with it.

“I think most of it is just planning,” he said. “As long as we plan properly, we’re fine. I’m constantly double-checking things.”

His favorite part of the job, aside from creating fun dishes like the Pig Pickin, is teaching new staff members how to master the art of cooking.

Casey Ryan is executive sous chef at SunTrust Park, and he said working with Smithing is fun.
“He loves what he does, and it shows in his work and his teaching style,” Ryan said.


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LONE STAR POWER
 
Posted: 19 Mar 2018, 7:00 pm

When he surveys the climate for venues in Texas and elsewhere, Dave Brown is filled with optimism.

“There’s never been a more dynamic time for the venue industry,” said Brown, chief operating officer and general manager of American Airlines Center, a 20,000-seat multipurpose arena in Dallas. “The number and variety of live entertainment events has never been so robust, and there is no sign of it slowing down.”

Brown was among several Texas venue officials to express enthusiasm for the economic conditions and overall entertainment environment in the state, which they say are providing a steady tailwind for their venues. Executives such as Aaron Zimmerman, vice president of programming and marketing for the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts in San Antonio, point to an increasingly lively arts and entertainment scene in their localities with a more robust offering of venues and options for local audiences.

“You can feel the buzz growing here,” Zimmerman said.

In Dallas, Brown called 2017 “a remarkable year for American Airlines Center,” one that featured a record number of events, including 50 concerts.

“Major concert tours, family shows like Disney on Ice and WWE, esports, MMA, comedy, and you name it are all thriving and filling our calendar,” Brown said.

The clear highlight, he said, was the arena’s opportunity to host the NCAA Women’s Final Four, an event that had been to Austin and San Antonio but had never been played in Dallas.
“We sold out well in advance, and the games were exciting and intense,” Brown said. “TV ratings were some of the highest in years. It was more fun than we could have ever imagine, and we can’t wait to pursue the women’s tournament again.”

A major challenge that prompted American Airlines Center entered the political arena when members of the Texas Legislature sought to pass “bathroom bill” legislation, comparable to a 2016 law that caused controversy in North Carolina and cost the state’s venues a number of concerts and sporting events until a partial repeal last year.

“Even though our facility would be exempt as the language was drafted, we knew we had to get involved in opposition as it would create a discriminatory view of our state and hurt many businesses, especially in the hospitality industry,” Brown said. “With the efforts of our sports teams and a number of prominent business leaders across the state, the legislation failed to pass.”

One of the state’s newest venues is the Smart Financial Centre in Sugar Land, about 20 miles outside of Houston. The indoor performance venue, which has flexible seating with capacity up to 6,400, opened in January 2017 when Jerry Seinfeld christened the facility with his standup act. “The energy and excitement was palpable,” said Andrew Huang, director of marketing for the venue.

Huang said the venue’s inaugural year came with the challenge of seeing how well systems worked “in real life” for the first time, but Smart Financial Centre staff made adjustments as the year progressed and the venue hosted a variety of crowds and tours that required different types of building functions (see story, Page 62). Despite the inevitable growing pains, Huang said, “we far exceeded all expectations in ticket sales and number of booked events.”

Huang said venue operators are pleased with the start to 2018 and have been excited to begin a new year with the benefit of experience. He said Smart Financial Centre hopes to easily surpass its 2017 numbers this year.

“Maintaining our momentum from our opening year is paramount, and keeping the foot on the gas is something we are all working hard at,” Huang said. “No sophomore slump.”

Huang said he believes the Smart Financial Centre has been a natural fit for the Houston region.
“The venue landscape in the Houston market has seen some new venues open and doing great bookings,” Huang said. “We fill a niche that didn’t exist before with our size and flexible seating options, and because of the urban sprawl of the Houston area, we now provide an entertainment option to an area of town that was underserved.”

Similarly, El Paso Live’s nine venues have benefited from their place in a region that is enjoying a promising expansion.

“Downtown El Paso’s growth continues to be exponential,” said Bryan Crowe, general manager for El Paso Live. “In 2018, we will welcome over 630 new hotel rooms to downtown across four new properties. And the city’s new downtown streetcar system, featuring the original 1930s-era-design … streetcars, which have been fully modernized, will begin operations,” connecting downtown hotels, restaurants and office buildings to destinations and attractions around the city.

Crowe said 2017 highlights at El Paso Live venues included visits of “The Phantom of the Opera” (15 shows), “Beautiful” (eight shows), “Dancing With the Stars,” The 1975, Ringo Starr and his All-Starr Band, and Portugal. The Man.

The 2018 calendar includes Disney’s “The Lion King,” Van Joy, the return of “Dancing With the Stars,” Chicago, ZZ Top, Fleet Foxes and Yanni.

“Overall, we have seen an increase in event activity while also seeing that fans in our community continue to overwhelmingly support the events in our venues,” Crowe said.
The Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, an outdoor amphitheater in The Woodlands, hosted more than 400,000 attendees for live shows in 2017, including performers such as Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Chance the Rapper, John Legend, Jimmy Buffett, Depeche Mode and Chris Stapleton. The venue also was home to performances by the Houston Symphony, the Houston Ballet and the Houston Grand Opera.

“One of the highlights of the pavilion’s 28th season was the world-premiere showing of the cult classic film ‘Matilda’ with the Houston Symphony playing the entire musical score,” said Ashley Gravois, public relations and educational outreach manager for the venue. Actor, producer and director Danny DeVito narrated the film live on the main stage, and composer David Newman conducted his film score with the symphony.

The pavilion will open its 29th season April 19 with a sold-out show by Foo Fighters. Others already scheduled this year include Kenny Chesney, Kendrick Lamar, Foreigner, Imagine Dragons and Ozzy Osbourne.

For the State Farm Arena in Hidalgo, 2017 was an important “bounce-back” year from a sluggish 2016. The venue, which has a capacity of 6,800, aims “to book a variety of talent in our market and give something for everyone,” said Marc Solis, general manager of the venue. In 2017, that included sold-out back-to-back Gloria Trevi and Alejandra Guzmán shows and a sold-out Maluma show.

The State Farm Arena also introduced an innovation it called “The Hidalgo Theater at State Farm Arena,” a 2,400-seat arena “cutdown” tailored to certain acts. The Hidalgo Theater made its debut with a capacity Dwight Yoakam show and performances by Reik, Flans, and Kadan Bart Rockett and Brooklyn have followed.

Solis said State Farm Arena officials have been working hard to emphasize to promoters and agents that the Rio Grande Valley market is more than a strictly Latin genre market. He said customers in the arena’s region want more bookings of country, rock and pop performers, such as Bruno Mars, Drake and Camila Cabello.

“We are all competing for the same slice of pie, so programming content in a secondary market has become a bit challenging,” Solis said. “Nonetheless, you have to continue to keep reminding your promoters and agents that you are open for business. Additionally, I feel you have to keep pushing for better and better customer service and provide an exceptional experience to the customer.”

Zimmerman said 2017 was the best year that the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts, which features a multipurpose 1,746- to 2,039-seat performance hall, a 232-seat studio theater and an outdoor performance plaza, has had since its opening in September 2014. The venue has continued to grow year over year, Zimmerman said, with no sign of slowing down. Zimmerman said a key was the success of the Tobin Center’s subscription season and annual benefit concert, which featured Steven Tyler in 2017. The new year will see the launch of a new subscription series of National Geographic lectures.

Zimmerman said the support of San Antonio’s residents has been uplifting to the Tobin Center.
“Part of what I think the city was missing prior to the Tobin was ancillary or additional spaces beyond the one Broadway house in town,” Zimmerman said. “I think that since we’ve opened we’ve seen numerous other spaces open and I think this city as a whole has seen more talent than it’s ever seen before. It’s an exciting time to be in San Antonio.” 

VENUES CONTINUE TO UPGRADE VIP TREATMENT
Premium seat holders should get a premium experience, so officials at Texas venues say they are always looking for new ways to adapt to those attendees’ preferences and expectations.
The Smart Financial Centre in Sugar Land offers special features for VIP and premium seating customers, said Andrew Huang, director of marketing for the venue. For example, those in suites enjoy valet parking directly in front of the suite entrance elevator and have access to bar and food service dedicated to the suites. The club seating section also has valet parking and a dedicated concessions stand, as well as upgraded leather seats that are roomier than those elsewhere in the house.

“This program allows club seat holders to choose which shows they would like to attend,” Huang said. “The suite and club seat tickets are upgraded ticket stock, and we deliver both their tickets and valet parking passes to them each month.”

The Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion in The Woodlands last year opened the Woodforest Bank Club, a benefit of season seat subscribers and box seat holders, said Ashley Gravois, public relations and educational outreach manager for the venue. The new club is a two-story facility with expanded patio seating upstairs and a full-service kitchen.

Dave Brown, chief operating officer and general manager of American Airlines Center in Dallas, said the venue also recently opened a new club.

“We are continually updating our facility and adapting spaces to meet the current desires of our guests. Last year we completed our third project converting traditional suites into all-inclusive club-type spaces with the U.S. Concrete (Foundation) Club,” Brown said.

A conversion of five traditional suites yielded a club seating 100 guests. It club sold out quickly, and Brown sees more demand on the horizon.

At the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts in San Antonio, membership programs that support the venue’s nonprofit and education initiative also give members special VIP access, such as presales for tickets and meet-and-greets when those are available to the public, said Andrew Zimmerman, vice president of programming and marketing. The venue also has a concierge service and a private bar in the box tier.

“We definitely can cater to VIPs,” Zimmerman said.

— By Tom Gresham

ATTENTION TO NEW TRENDS MARKS SECURITY APPROACH
Texas performance venues are seeking to strike a balance between customer service and safety in the evolving security landscape, and several officials pointed to the issue as their chief continuing concern, including Marc Solis, general manager of the State Farm Arena in Hidalgo.
“We are constantly monitoring what is happening out there,” Solis said. “We work very closely with our local police department and (state and federal) agencies and adapt to the changing marketplace. We routinely change up our security protocols to throw off any potential bad people.”

At the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts in San Antonio, Aaron Zimmerman, vice president of programming and marketing, said “we are extremely aware and vigilant in our safety concerns and protection of everyone who comes into this building.”

“We’re watching all of the trends across the country,” Zimmerman said. “We’re looking at all of the options in front of us and doing everything we can to keep people safe.”

The Curtis Culwell Center in Garland, a northeast Dallas suburb, was the site of an attack in 2015 during an art exhibition in which two attackers were killed by police. Kevin Welch, sales and booking manager for the venue, said the venue has a range of security efforts in place. For instance, patrons must pass through walk-through security systems at each entrance and obey a clear-bag policy in place for all events at the venue. The venue recently added divesting tables, where patrons can place items from their pockets, to help accelerate the security walk-through process.

“We try to be proactive by posting the information on our website as well as with numerous signage on the road leading to the lot,” Welch said. “We also place several sandwich boards with the clear-bag policy on our plaza. We teach our front-line staff to be firm with the security procedures while maintaining empathy for the inconvenience it can cause. We have seen improvements throughout the past several years.”

Dave Brown, chief operating officer and general manager of American Airlines Center, said that security continues to be the arena’s highest priority and that the venue has made many changes to its programs and property to that end.

“Our guests have been very receptive and tolerant of the new programs, which has made implementation much easier than we anticipated,” Brown said.  — By Tom Gresham


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RETIRING ROCKERS SET OFF SCRAMBLE
 
Posted: 19 Mar 2018, 7:00 pm

The ranks of the rock stars who helped invent the concept of arena rock in the 1970s have been steadily thinning for much of the past decade. This year has brought news that three more of the giants of the genre are ready for their final go-rounds. Within weeks of one another, folk icon Paul Simon, hard rock legend Ozzy Osbourne and piano pop superstar Elton John each announced what they are calling their final tours.

Each artist has forged a unique path into retirement from the road. Osbourne is mostly forgoing arenas in favor of his preferred outdoor amphitheater and festival plays on his tour’s first leg. John, whose massive 300-show extravaganza called “Farewell Yellow Brick Road” will hit five continents and stretch through to 2021, is playing as many arenas as possible. Simon, for now, is seemingly picking and choosing a select group of venues.

Of the three, Simon has initially released the most modest string of dates for his Homeward Bound: The Farewell Tour, with just 21 North American arena stops announced, kicking off in Canada at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, British Columbia, on May 18 and stretching through a June 20 show at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville. 

Osbourne’s No More Tours 2 — a mix of festival gigs and mostly amphitheater shows mixed with a handful of arenas — will kick into gear in North America at the PPL Center in Allentown, Pa., on Aug. 30. Current shows have been announced through Oct. 13 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, with more dates to be announced.

John will launch his final tour, like Osbourne, at the PPL Center in Allentown, on Sept. 8. North American arena dates have been booked through March 2019 at the BB&T Center in Sunrise, Fla., with many more shows to come.

With so many lucrative arena shows in the offing, Ed Rubinstein, CEO of the 32-venue Arena Network, said his organization’s first move when these tours are announced is to try to find a carve-out date that might give one of his buildings a shot. “These tours are pretty well routed by AEG for Elton or, for Ozzy and Paul Simon, Live Nation, so we will always call the agent and see if there are some venues that didn’t get a look and try to get included,” said Rubinstein. 
With John playing 300 shows, Rubinstein said he couldn’t see how many more could be added, though the network has landed 13 announced gigs so far at venues including the Legacy Arena at BJCC in Birmingham, Ala.; TD Garden in Boston; and Colonial Life Arena in Columbia, S.C. Though the network has only two confirmed dates on the Simon tour, Rubinstein was confident that there might be more dates available in the future, which could mean more business for his arenas.

Even when he knows it might be the last shot at an act, Rubinstein said the approach is the same: “We don’t press harder. With someone like Elton playing so many venues, the ones he’s not playing are probably ones where he might not do as well or not as large as he needs,” he said. “But we do have aggressive venues where even if they don’t fit the profile, they will try to get on that list.”

David Kells, vice president of booking for Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, has no complaints about how the last hurrah tours are shaping up, since both John and Simon are slated to hit his venue. And he knows exactly why. “Nashville has proven that we have the ability to sell tickets, and after a time when Nashville was sometimes skipped over by bigger tours or was included in second legs, Bridgestone especially has proven it can sell tickets and is on everyone’s radar,” he said.

Kells said he was especially proud of landing one of the rare Simon dates because it’s proof that promoters, artists, agents and managers trust Bridgestone Arena with a big show.
Other venues, like the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J., will have to make do with just one of the acts … for now. John is slated to touch down for the first (and last) time in his career at Prudential, but so far Simon has not announced a single date in the area, though Prudential’s executive vice president of entertainment programming, Sean Saadeh, hasn’t given up hope. “We keep our eye on what’s going out, we are proactive and we stay on things that we know are booked,” said Saadeh, mirroring Kells’ mantra about constantly reaching out and keeping strong communication with both AEG and Live Nation, as well as with their partners at MSG and the Oak View Group (OVG is the owner of VenuesNow).

While every show is special, Saadeh said that, because it’s John’s final swing and his debut at Prudential, the plan is to make it a special night for the artist and the audience, though he’s holding the details close to his vest for now. Though Osbourne is playing the amphitheater in nearby Allentown, Saadeh said he’d love to host Ozzy and has reached out with the knowledge that a future arena date could be in play. 

What about fears from some that the thinning of the major rock act ranks could spell trouble down the line? “The good news is that our business is really healthy now, the touring business has never been stronger and it gives me hope that there are quite a few artists in the pipeline that will continue to fill our venues at the highest level,” Saadeh said.

Live Nation’s president of U.S. concerts, Bob Roux, said LN planned the final swing for the rocker — who has been a reliable live draw as both a solo performer as well as with Black Sabbath and his OzzFest festival — the same way it always does: in coordination with Osbourne (and his wife and manager Sharon Osbourne), as well as their management. They sat down together to decipher what Osbourne wanted to do for this tour, what markets were spotlights for him and how he wanted it to unfold over time.

“Ozzy has a lot of experience playing outdoors at major festivals and then during the advent of amphitheaters with the OzzFest tour — he does a magnificent job of mixing up venues on tours, sometimes playing festivals, sometimes amphitheaters, sometimes arenas and with this tour it’s a combination of many venues,” Roux said. The tour will hit such Live Nation-owned venues as Northwell Health at Jones Beach Theater in Wantagh, N.Y.; the PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel, N.J.; and Jiffy Lube Live in Bristol, Va., among others.

Sharon Osbourne said the long-range plan is to hit outdoor sheds and festivals, then hit arenas, especially the ones Ozzy has a particular fondness for. “When you’ve been doing this for over 50 years you know every building inside and out and backwards, and the arenas will definitely get a chance,” said Osbourne, who noted that her husband used a similar strategy during his final tour with Black Sabbath during 2016-17.

“Sometimes you only have so long to tour so you cut out certain markets, but with something like this we want to go everywhere, so we’ll probably play markets we haven’t in a long time,” Osbourne added.

Roux said it was important for the Osbournes that they hit certain markets that they had either enjoyed in the past or that they got a great response in, with festivals taking priority because they have to be booked so far in advance. Though he didn’t have historical data on merch per caps, Roux fully expected sales to be even higher on Osbourne’s final swing, with per show grosses running at more than $1 million a night and expectations that the first 21-show leg will play to up to 400,000.

“It’s the end of an era, and I wonder who will replace these people?” Osbourne said as she discussed her husband’s coming retirement from touring. “There’s nobody to replace these pioneers who’ve been doing this for over 50 years, so it’s kind of bittersweet, but I think Ozzy’s earned the right to do it.”


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INSPIRING A NEW NARRATIVE
 
Posted: 19 Mar 2018, 4:15 pm

By Jessica Boudevin
In the ever-evolving fundraising landscape, PACnet '18 attendees looked at the ways in which organizations are fostering a philanthropic culture and focusing their external message.  It was an overarching theme of the growing fundraising track at this year’s Paciolan community
conference, with Director of Client Partners Deana Barnes leading a conversation about fresh ways to incite charitable giving in the ‘New Narrative: Telling Your Story to Create a Philanthropic Culture’ panel. The fundraising track has continued to evolve, becoming a strong staple in the PACnet content lineup.

The core of reframing that narrative starts internally. “If we want that philanthropic culture in our donor base, we need that culture in our staff,” said Mike Richey, executive director of Mississippi State’s Bulldog Club. The staff considers each campaign of utmost importance. Whether it’s 100 new or reactivated donors giving $100 or closing a $1 million gift, “we celebrate all the wins equally.”

Casey Steffan, director of Membership and Development at Virginia Athletics Foundation (VAF), says that culture grows at VAF through accountability. Each fundraiser works with six sports, establishing connections with the athletes and parents as a conduit to giving. “It’s part of how my and my colleagues’ performance is measured,” said Steffan. “You have to make it someone’s responsibility to make sure each sport is taken care of. Set your staff up to succeed.”
Razorback Foundation at University of Arkansas also assigns all upper level donors to a specific and individual fundraiser. Relationship building is at the heart of any great fundraising team. As Chief Financial Officer Billye Veteto says, “It’s all about relationships. It’s hard to ask someone for a million-dollar gift if you have no relationship with them and don’t know what they like or don’t like.” They prioritize interaction with student athletes because it makes the story personal for donors. “When it becomes personal, you’re pulling on the heartstrings,” she added.

It’s important to not only align within your own foundation, but also across departments. The Razorback Foundation has weekly meetings with ticketing staff where they make sure they’re in sync on a variety of topics including creating a weekly summary of emails that will go out, ensuring that all departments know what is being communicated to fans.  At University of Miami’s Hurricane Club, Assistant Athletics Director of Annual Giving Emily Boone focuses on creating a culture using alignment and consistency. “We don’t talk enough about the culture that consists within the athletic department,” she said. “We want them to sell tickets! They’re so similar to us in that they want to provide value and a great game day experience.” When fans have a great experience, they’re more likely to remember the Hurricanes philanthropically.

THE ROLE OF DATA
To most effectively communicate this new narrative, it’s important to look at data. Last summer, Bulldog Club added a data analyst to its staff. “Understanding your data and making sure it’s organized properly is very significant,” said Richey. “If you’re like me and think you’re pretty good at reports and messing around with excel and then you get someone who really does know what they’re doing, you realize that you don’t know quite as much as you thought.” In just a few months, they’ve already seen a dramatic improvement in what they can do with their data, specifically in regards to data hygiene. With email addresses alone, Bulldog Club found out that they were only at 58 percent usability due to things like duplicates and small typos. In just three weeks time, they were able to increase usability to more than 80 percent.

Monitoring results on every campaign you get helps you know what’s working and what’s not,” added Barnes.

Bulldog Club compared results of two 2016 campaigns with the same campaigns for 2017. Their ‘lost donor’ campaign captured 130 new donors and about $17,000 in revenue in 2016. With clean data, the 2017 campaign secured 20 additional donors and saw a $10,000 increase in revenue. The new member video campaign of 2016 raised $5,700 compared to about $15,000 in revenue in 2017. “It was two different campaigns with the main difference year over year being clean data and better segmentation,” said Richey. “With not even many more donors, we saw $20,000 in additional revenue.”

By using data, VAF was able to determine new opportunities. The data showed that about 48 percent of donors did not have a season ticket benefit and represented about 16 percent of monetary donations. Also, VAF has a ‘Cavaliers for Life’ student athlete giving program with former student athletes making up 22 percent of donors. Through data scrubbing, the VAF was able to determine that about 26 percent of the 8,500 student athlete alumni made a charitable donation, showing the opportunity for future outreach.

Gathering new feedback should also be an important part of your strategy. Bulldog Club conducts a ‘Bulldog Bark Back’ survey after each football game, asking season ticket holders for feedback about what worked for them or any problems that they encountered. This year, Bulldog Club is going to send a survey to those who don’t renew their football tickets and, based on results, reach back out to keep them to keep them engaged.

BLOWING UP THE BENEFITS CHART
Part of the reason to shift the conversation from transactional to philanthropic giving is the continued need to raise revenue. “There’s a cap to how many tickets you can sell, but not a cap to how much you can raise,” said Boone. The Hurricane Club looked at their donor data and realized that only nine percent of season ticket holders made an additional annual fund donation on top of what was needed to secure their tickets. Seeing the opportunity, Boone and her team looked at their message, and then looked at their donor benefits chart. “Everything on it was tickets driven,” she said. “Here we were crafting the right message to donors, but then they went to the benefits process and everything was transaction-based — so we blew up our benefits chart.”

They focused instead on educating donors as to where their money was going, how it was divided up in the annual fund, and providing unique stewardship and engagement opportunities.
Razorback Club focuses on directly communicating their message to donors. In fact, being the only Division 1 school of its size in Arkansas, there are 23 Razorback Clubs in cities around the state as well as Tulsa and Dallas. Steffan also noted the “huge upside to having coaches involved,” with Virginia’s coach at one point sending daily emails, leading to about 44 percent of former baseball players making a donation.

CONTINUING THE PHILANTHROPIC CONVERSATION
Capitol giving provides another opportunity to emphasize philanthropic messages. “Sometimes it comes out of something that isn’t even directly related to your cause,” said Veteto, who used to primarily focus on annual fund giving.

Steffan noted the importance of tying dollars to tangible outcomes and having  specific funds for all non revenue-generating sports. This allows student athletes to give specifically to their sport.
Hurricane Club is promoting philanthropic giving by focusing on their women’s sports. The weekend before PACnet, Hurricane Club launched a Women’s Athletics campaign, which Boone described as basically an annual fund campaign for Women’s Athletics.
By focusing on more than transactional giving, fundraisers continue the conversation beyond just great seats. They talk about the impact that donors have on students’ lives. They talk about the opportunities that young athletes have made available to them as a result of community generosity. They talk about their philanthropic message. All of this combines with new technology and communication strategies to inspire a new generation of donors.

Jessica Boudevin is corporate marketing manager for Paciolan and was formerly managing editor of Venues Today.


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MARKETING’S ‘AGE OF ASSISTANCE’
 
Posted: 19 Mar 2018, 4:00 pm

One of the bonuses of programmatic, the buzz word for digitally targeted, real-time marketing and a major topic at Pacnet 18 this year, is that it levels the ‘paying’ field. Whether your budget is big or small, it assures that each dollar is optimally used because it is basically a bidding system on an open exchange.

“Programmatic came into our lives and made everything easier,” said Danielle Johnson, Mogo Interactive, who spoke during the Feb. 11-14 gathering which drew more than 700 Paciolan users and vendors. “Every time a website is loading, there’s an auction that’s happening in that millisecond it is loading, and they are basically matching the value of that impression with the price you paid for that impression, so you know you are, in a most efficient manner, hitting the right audience at the right time. There is no praying and spraying; it’s very precise and incredibly efficient because it is automated. You are on a level playing field with those with bigger budgets.”

Michal Lorenc, head of live events and ticketing for Google, says Google views this marketing cycle as the “Age of Assistance.” Understanding  what people are looking for has created the ability to help them find it through digital devices. “Digital marketing is all about supporting; helping someone when they want it through digital devices,” Lorenc added.

The next evolution of that is “programmatic premium,” where, “if it makes sense, you are still able to create exclusive relationships with publishers for guaranteed inventory in an automated, direct fashion,” Johnson added.

It’s all made possible by the worldwide, enthusiastic, programmable popularity of Search. “Bottom line: The world is digital, the people we want to reach are online and the most efficient, scalable, and measurable way to reach them is programmatic,” Johnson said.

She has watched the evolution of marketing from the traditional billboard, in-stadium, radio and TV advertising, known as “praying and spraying – hoping a message resonates with the right person at the right time,” to the reservation buying of digital, the direct transaction between a publisher and advertiser. Neither was very efficient or measurable.

It’s important when talking about programmatic to talk about how consumers are engaging on line, Johnson continued. They use multiple devices over time, moving seamlessly on all different channels. “We can buy all these programmatically and be flexible so you have the right mix to reach your audience wherever they go.”

It’s an “I-told-you-so” moment for Michel Lorenc, Google head of ticketing and events, who has been making the rounds preaching search engines for three years now.

People use Google for everything, he said. “Seven of 10 people at your venue have used Google in their decision-making process and most likely bought their ticket online.” Also, over half of music consumption is happening on mobile devices.

“The fastest-growing use is actually in the living room, on the large TV, because they can change the device, share, comment, and rewind,” Lorenc said.

“Google helps you engage with your fan in a commercial transaction. Search is very, very important,” Lorenc said. Over the last two years, it has become very complex, and programmatic is the component that helps manage search.

Google also operates YouTube, the second-largest search engine in the world. Over 1.5 billion people use YouTube on a monthly basis.

People who watch five or more pieces of content on a professional sports team user channel are four times more likely to buy tickets. “With implementation of programmatic, we can help you target only those people who watch five or more pieces of content,” Lorenc said.

Maps is another marketing marvel. “Do we go anywhere without putting directions on our phone? The number of uses and every use means more data, more pieces of information we have collectively, which we can use to target those people in the right format at the right time with the right message,” Lorenc said, describing programmatic. And it’s all possible because consumer expectations are higher.

“How many of you get frustrated when WiFi is slow on the plane, 30,000 feet in the air?” Lorenc asked to describe the escalation of expectations. “The need for immediate information is enhanced today.” On one hand, people are tuning out because they are tired of commercials but, on the other, if they need something, they welcome commercial information. It just has to make their lives easier.

For programmatic to work, marketers need to know and segment their audience and measure the right behaviors. That cannot be done manually; it has to be automated for scale, Lorenc said.
For example, two days of targeting season ticket sales to people who watched a one minute, 12 second YouTube video of the new University of Minnesota coach arriving in town was a highly successful marketing outreach. “It was the right message, right person, right time; that’s the concept of programmatic,” Lorenc said.

Red Roof Inns targeted travelers stranded at airports due to delays in real time with a very basic “Stay at Red Roof” ad and saw a 60 percent increase in bookings. To do that, you need automation.

Audi took real time weather data and only invited targeted buyers on a test drive at preferred good weather times and days. Of 535 sunny-day test drivers, they saw a 51 percent conversion rate, which translated into $13 million in revenue. It’s a basic concept — if you want to test-drive a convertible, you should do it on a sunny day — but arranging it that way took automation.

But to Johnson’s point, you don’t have to have a big budget to practice programmatic. Matt Biggers, University of Colorado, has made conscious decisions to shift resources to maximize the move to digital.

While Colorado has been doing digital marketing for five years, this year is really about digital first. “We now have enough tools where we can do that,” Biggers said, citing his data warehouse, Salesforce marketing automation, DOMO (through Pac 12) and Mogo, which they began using through Learfield, before Learfield bought Paciolan.

“It came down to the fact we needed digital expertise. This area changes so dramatically and fast, we cannot do it in-house with our current staff and have scale,” Biggers admitted.
They started getting serious this fall with the football campaign. “Tracking is the separator, especially cross-device conversions,” Biggers said. He needs to know it is the same the person who saw something on his phone and later on his desktop; he needs to know that conversion was interconnected so engagement isn’t double or triple counted. “Measurements need to be confidence building,” Biggers said.

Now he can see how many touchpoints led to a purchase per customer and if, at some point, a person has been served too often and never purchased, those resources need to be reallocated to someone else. Conversely, knowing who is buying can lead to finding look-alike/act-alike customers to target.

During the football campaign, Colorado spent $56,000 to generate $507,000 in sales, Biggers reported. “The way I look at it, we impacted $507,000 worth of sales through digital advertising. We’re not measuring all the touch points. It doesn’t take in the fact they drove by the billboard or watched the game; even customers can’t recall that. I still believe in a mix. That path of conversion can be long, it’s another piece of data I didn’t have before.

Aly Knight Grubb, Fox Theatre, Atlanta, is a fan of automation and digital, but also advised peers to keep content in mind. “We have to know how we’re showing up in the digital world – we’re getting more intentional about how our graphic looks. If your creative isn’t really strong, none of it is going to work.”

Fox Theatre wanted its brand at the forefront, rather than appearing as an event-centric afterthought. To that end, the Fox logo is now front and center, drawing the eye.

“If you don’t have a strong budget, I recommend getting graphic designers to get strong look for your digital so you are grabbing equal attention when you do show up,” Grubb said. Bottom line – be recognizable.

Programmatic builds your brand, but change based on real time is critical. Refresh, automate and find a partner; it’s a digital world, they said.

PRODUCT INNOVATION FUELS MOBILE FIRST
Q&A: Kim Damron, President and
CEO, Paciolan
To Kim Damron, attending Paciolan as president and CEO with new owner Learfield at her side this year, the clear message from Pacnet 18 was that mobile continues to consume the world. “We need to always be thinking about mobile,” she told VenuesNow during this post-conference Q&A. Paciolan transacts 120 million tickets annually and has been turning up the heat on programmatic marketing.

What are the biggest takeaways from Pacnet 2018?
The biggest takeaway was product and how we’re accelerating product innovation through Learfield’s multimillion-dollar investment [Learfield bought Paciolan last year]. We’re getting product innovations out to the customer sooner and accelerating the Paciolan platform. It encompasses all the fundraising and ticketing into one platform.

What is the big difference this year with Learfield in the mix?
We’re taking advantage of the product technology synergies within the Learfield family with Sidearm and Mogo Interactive, starting with the official website of our customers and moving through the ticketing pages. Our customers saw how you can follow the journey of the ticket buyer through this programmatic advertising and through the Learfield companies.
How has that customer journey changed?

We’re partnering with the best distribution partners and getting behind the leaders in where people are going to find events. With Google, going to programmatic is the next level; with Facebook, the next level is distributed commerce. You have to start with Google with over 78,000 searches a minute related to live events. We’re expanding that partnership, continuing to be one of their gold partners, which is key. Also, with Facebook this year, the leading reach with younger audiences, we’re taking advantage of distributed commerce within the Facebook app. That ties into how we’re leveraging product and technology to make it easier for fans and customers to find your tickets. We not only work with these channels, but we’re enhancing all these channels this year. With Google, we started off doing search advertising and now we’ve moved into the programmatic space. Feld is a great example of that on the search side. We’re doing all national search campaigns for all seven Feld brands.

What other takeaways would you highlight?
We’re focused on the arts through Learfield acquiring TicketsWest and West Coast Entertainment. That was probably one of the key takeaways. As well as getting to know the rest of the leadership team at Paciolan.

Is there a personal highlight for you from Pacnet 18?
The Women Leaders panel was great. Last year, there was one male in the room. This year, it was 25 percent male. Men wanted to learn how to be more supportive of women. Some of the gems that stick in my mind are women needing to embrace and celebrate men who support women and we all need to work together. You are as good as your team – that’s how that works. When Jacque Holowaty [Spectra Venue Management] said emotion is OK in the workforce, that resonated with a lot of people. How do we work better together to all accomplish our goals? —Linda Deckard

DIGITAL STATS
Google has 7 products that have over 1 billion users (Google Search, YouTube, Google Play, Gmail, Android, Maps, Chrome). (Source: Google)

70% of attendees in live event venues used search during the ticket buying process. (Source: Google)

There are over 1,300 searches per second for live events on Google. (Source: Google)

YouTube has 1.5 billion active monthly users. (Source: YouTube)

People around the world watch a billion hours of YouTube content every day (Source: YouTube)

82% of all digital display ads are programmatic.  (Source: eMarketer)

46% of all U.S. media spend will be digital by 2020. (Source: Forrester Research)

Facebook has 2 billion active monthly users. (Source: Facebook)

Instagram has 800 million active monthly users. (Source: Facebook)

SPEEDING TOWARD DIGITAL
Digital marketing is bringing new and younger fans to National Hot Rod Association events.
The traditional target market for NHRA has been the 18-49 male, with an average fan being a 46-year-old male. That fan is still an important part of the advertising mix, which includes traditional media, email and texting, but Kristen Wentzell, senior director of marketing for the NHRA, has begun redirecting some of her $10,000-$60,000 per event marketing budget toward the 18-34 age range. The NHRA markets 24 events at various tracks and some draw up to 100,000 fans. The season starts at Pomona (Calif.) Raceway in February and ends there in November.

Wentzell has found that the new fan initiative has to be educational. “The NHRA is sensory; it’s about being there and seeing cars racing 1,000 feet at 330 mph in under four seconds,” Wentzell said. “You can show that in a video, but you can’t explain how it feels, how it smells. It’s a challenge to bring in new fans.”

She began this year, with Paciolan’s help, with a Tickets Make Great Gifts campaign targeted to the digital audience. Traditionally, the NHRA waited to promote Pomona until after the holidays, well into January, to avoid the advertising clutter in December. This year, they jumped right into the holiday crowd.

Through Paciolan’s CRM lists and digital marketing campaigns, they found a look-alike audience demographic from the tons of ticket data available, looking for people with a high propensity to buy because of their interest in automotive, other racing endeavors or in NHRA sponsors.

“With digital we were targeting the right people at the right time with the right message,” Wentzell said. “We saw conversions in December when we normally don’t see a lot of people buying.”

With digital, it takes time to optimize campaigns, she added. “Last year, on average we started four to six weeks out from each event. Now we’re going to take this formula through and start a minimum of eight weeks out for every event. We’re increasing our digital budget and it will better allow us to optimize the campaign. It gives Mogo and Paciolan time to understand who is converting, who is clicking. That’s what optimization is. We’ll gear our dollars toward those types of folks.”

Wentzell also plans to expand her renewal campaign, usually advanced through emails and texting, with more digital. “When we email directly, it’s not an extra cost to us. We can enhance it though..”

With digital, she can measure return on investment, far more efficiently than watching the call center light up after an ad ran on TV. “People are so segmented now with how they consume, it’s difficult to understand. We still need a call center and we still need to advertise through traditional media, but the future for us is programmatic TV and radio, with Apple TV, Pandora, Spotify, that type of platform,” Wentzell said. “All these new advertising opportunities where people are consuming.”

“We are adoptive of technology,” Wentzell said. “Whatever comes out, we put our hand up and say we want to try it.” She is elated that, since being bought by Learfield, Paciolan (which serves 10 NHRA tracks as ticketing provider) has so many additional options to offer up.  — Linda Deckard


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GOLDEN STATE
 
Posted: 19 Mar 2018, 3:50 pm

It was an up year in the live entertainment business in California, boosted by a roaring economy, great touring acts, and fresh ideas in cost-cutting and revenue generation by venue operators. New sustainability measures and new technology were themes last year, as many venues worked to create less waste and add more high-tech innovations. Never to be underestimated, of course, year-round good weather only added to the ingredients that produced another strong year for the live touring businesses in the Golden State.

“We had a great year,” said Jens Weiden, chief revenue officer for the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. “We went through a $200 million renovation a few years ago — the first major upgrade to our stadium in close to 100 years — and we’re really seeing the dividends now.”

Improvements included renovating the pavilion and adding in 54 luxury suites and more than 1,000 club seats.  “This opened up a whole new realm of business for us and helped turn Rose Bowl into one of the premiere venues on the West Coast,” he said. “For us, we’ve found a niche. Artists like the symmetry of Rose Bowl. The sound is really good and it’s a venue that is on a lot of artists’ bucket lists.”

Rock was the predominant genre, and well-attended shows included Green Day, Coldplay, U2 and Metallica. “There’s only a short list of artists that can fill up a stadium of our size,” he said. Tickets ranged from $35 to $350. A Live Nation VIP package can run up to $1,000. The operating budget was “tens of millions.”

A big accomplishment in 2017 was finally getting Arroyo Seco Weekend music festival off the ground. “This was a big deal,” said Weiden. “We’ve been working for years to get this festival staged.” The event takes place on the venue’s golf course.

Arroyo Seco Weekend is produced in conjunction with Goldenvoice and AEG Presents. This was the first year of a 20-year contract. Headliners in 2017 were Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers and Mumford & Sons.

Capital improvements included transforming the original locker room into a museum. “We have memorabilia that’s almost 100 years old,” said Weiden. “It’s the perfect project. It took something old and turned it into something hip and cool.”

The conversion cost “around $1 million” and the funds came from donors, with the biggest donation coming from Rose Bowl board member Mickey Segal and wife Lee. Public tours of the museum cost $17, and private tours start at $200.

Concessions are provided by Sodexo on the concourse and by Legends and Wolfgang Puck in the premium areas. A smash hit addition this year was the Dog Haus concession stand that sells hot dogs, tater tots and beer.  “People actually line up after the shows to take it home with them,” he said.

The general concession contract is now out for RFP and it’s expected that the process will wind down by June. “We’re looking for local, sustainable and innovative,” Weiden said.

Jodi Goodman, president of Northern California for Live Nation, which programs events at Concord Pavilion and Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View, said that Shoreline had a great 2017 season, hosting 40 events (up eight from 2016) including multiple night performances from both Dead & Company and Future.

“Our attendance was up over 15 percent and we debuted the Rolling Loud Festival, brought in by Insomniac and their partnership with Rolling Loud,” said Goodman.

“Hip-hop has really exploded the last couple of years and big ticket sales are an illustration of the extreme popularity of the genre.”

Shoreline is also seeing great success so far with a number of farewell tours including Lynyrd Skynyrd and Ozzy Osbourne.

Concord Pavilion also had a really successful 2017 season, hosting 19 events (up from 16 in 2016) including “our first two-day 20th Anniversary Stone Soul concert.”

Concord saw a 15 percent increase in attendance thanks to some big shows with Florida Georgia Line, Janet Jackson, Chicago/The Doobie Brothers and its annual Hot Summer Night Concert.
For both Shoreline and Concord Pavilion, Live Nation added more premium products like craft beer, specialty cocktails and an expansive wine list, which contributed to higher margins, along with additional credit card points-of-sale throughout the venues.

“We find people are really enjoying full bottles of premium wines at our venues,” said Goodman. “The preference of purchasing bottles has definitely been a boon to sales and the overall experience.”

For Concord Pavilion, their general store has been well received. “Guests have great options to purchase specialty items at the store including beverages, snacks, sundries and some prepackaged food. It definitely adds to the overall experience of this venue,” she said.
Capital improvements at Concord Pavilion include new concessions carts in the plazas and improvements to the VIP Terrace Bar.

Shoreline will have extensive improvements made this year to the concessions areas in the plazas, both in variety and quality.

The photography walk of fame will be completely updated with new framing and photos highlighting Shoreline’s 30-year-plus history, she said, and new LED video screens will provide better show visibility. Goodman also mentioned that all the VIP clubs at Shoreline will get significant upgrades as well.

Terry Dwyer, president of Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa, said that his venue had a “positive financial performance” in 2017. Hot shows included “An American in Paris,” the Carole King-inspired musical “Beautiful” and “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder.” The world premiere of the ballet “Whipped Cream” was well received before moving to Broadway.
Segerstrom typically programs over 300 ticketed performances a year, plus 150 more by its resident tenants the Symphony, Philharmonic Society and Pacific Chorale. Tickets range from $30 to $125. Operating expenses are “$50 million to $60 million.”

Dwyer was thrilled with the reception from the community of the new Julianne and George Argyros Plaza, which is a portion of the $73 million capital improvement plan. The plaza has a cafe, a bar, a stage and a side stage. The events on the plaza are free. “It’s a great success and has attracted new audiences,” he said. “The free performances have been a significant benefit to expanding our support base both in terms of moving more tickets and expanding our contributed support base.”

Food and beverage is provided by Patina Restaurant Group. “The revenue is a slight part of our overall operation, but the amenity is an important to our audience,” he said.

Dwyer is looking forward to the rest of 2018, which “promises to be a spectacular year” with the arrival of Tony winners “Dear Evan Hansen” and the Orange County debut of smash hit “Hamilton.”

Nick Spampanato, senior VP and GM at The Forum in Inglewood, said 2017 saw an 8 percent hike in attendance and a 22 percent increase in gross. “We had a good year,” he said and attributed the bump to “multiples such as four nights of Bruno Mars; four nights of Garth Brooks; and three nights of Lady Gaga” in addition to Jingle Ball; Univision’s K-Love Live!; and hosting the Video Music Awards. “We’re really hitting our stride,” he said.

F&B is provided by Levy. “We’re always looking to expand our offerings,” said Spampanato.
Expanding the hours of operation for the outside terrace has been a revenue and fan experience boost. “We set up fun and games and try to really give the fans a complete experience from dinner to the show,” said Spampanato.

Capital improvements included a $2.5 million reconstruction of the bowl. “Many shows have huge productions now, so we widened the floor,” he explained.

Spampanato was also pleased with the creation of a float for the Rose Bowl paradethat featured Earth, Wind & Fire. “It was great visibility for the facility and made Page 1 of the L.A. Times. It was money well spent.”

Jim Mercurio, VP of stadium operations and GM at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara,  said that his facility had a good year and was most proud of improvements to the stadium’s “sustainability programs and technological improvements.”

“We’ve made significant strides from year one,” he said of the nearly 4-year-old building.
The stadium engaged in a trial run with an Orca machine, a food waste system that turns food waste into water and delivers it straight into the drainage system instead of pushing it all through the stadium compactors. “We converted  875 pounds of food waste from going to the landfill,” he said. “It reduces methane gases, garbage truck diesel gas usage and CO2 emissions. We were pretty impressed, and we are looking at buying the machine outright.”

Another sustainability project is the rooftop garden on top of the suite tower that was expanded last year by 1,000 square feet. “It’s been very, very impressive. It’s giving us 7,500 pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables each year,” he said. “The added beauty is that we found local food banks that we can donate the excess to. It’s an awesome feeling not only going farm-to-fork inside the stadium but also being able to give back to the community.”

Mercurio said the cost was “a sizable investment” but the reason they have made the commitment was more about it being “the right thing to do.”

Another innovation was changing to low-flow plumbing fixtures that use 40 percent less water than conventional fixtures. “The stadium uses 85 percent reclaimed water,” he said. “We’re on track to reach 100 million gallons of potable water that was diverted and in five years we saved enough water to actually fill the entire bowl of the stadium.”

New LED lighting improved efficiency and saved 150,000 watts. Engineering control systems were improved and saw a 35 percent in utility usage. New IP TV systems will be refreshed this year. “The IP TV system is important to the monitors and menu boards,” he said.

Technologically, adding body cameras for the staff from Visual Labs was a great investment. “The cameras operate on any smart device and we put them on a number of staff throughout the facility that engage with customers,” he explained. “If a customer is not behaving properly we now have a live picture of what’s going on and it sends a live feed back to our command post. We can then send the appropriate resources.”

Mercurio said the system saved the day on several cases that “would have been fraud and helped defer legal action.” The systems also helped the team understand things like line-control and crowd management. “If we can identify hazards and provide service elements that can be used on game day, it’s a great tool.”

In 2017 Levi’s Stadium’s concessionaire was Centerplate; Levy now has the contract. “Their commitment to the customer really appealed to us,” said Mercurio, “Levy’s approach, using their data and analytics team, is on par with how we analyze data to enhance the venue and make better decisions. They have a strong presence in the Bay Area, and we were impressed with how they treat their employees. We’re a great fit.”
Tim Ryan, CEO of the Honda Center in Anaheim, agrees that it was a great concert year and the facility was up “somewhere between 5 (percent) and 7 percent.” Content this year was fantastic,” he said. “We did 150 shows.” Jay Z, Country Mega Ticket, Twenty One Pilots, Florida Georgia Line, Dirks Bentley and Brad Paisley were hot shows on the concert side. “Country was hotter than hot this year,” he said.

“Add that to the great showing for the (tenant NHL team) Anaheim Ducks and it was a fantastic year,” said Ryan. “The Ducks played to near capacity every night. Between a really solid anchor tenant and having a great relationship with AEG and Live Nation it all jelled into a perfect year.”

Capital improvements included a major renovation to the south entrance. “We added 10,000 square feet and really created a sense of place,” he said. “There are three new F&B concepts. The area used to serve between 100 and 2,000 people a night and now we serve between 800 and 1,000 guests.” The renovations were “in the mid-seven figures.” All-new retractable seating in the end zones are coming in May or June. The project will be done between events and will take 36 to 48 months.

Concessions are run in-house. “In our particular case it’s worked out very well so far,” said Ryan. “Since we own the team and the facility, owning F&B allows us to integrate between the team, the arena, and F&B, whether it’s related to sponsorships, or concepts we want to pursue.”
One of the F&B additions was a new rectangular bar staffed with 13 bartenders. “This means no lines,” said Ryan. The Kitchen, a new grab-and-go concept, is working well. Honda Center also added a Sierra Nevada Draught House.

A new team store was also put in place. “Our whole goal was more points-of-sale and as much variety as possible,” said Ryan.

The private club Shock Top Terrace memberships are sold out and there is a waiting list of more than 200. The suites are sold out as well. “We’re riding along with the best of economic times,” he said. “Sponsorships are at an all-time high.”

Honda Center will be celebrating its 25th anniversary in June. “There’s a tremendous amount of promotional events we have under wraps that we will announce in the next few months, “ he said. “A lot of it will tie into the simultaneous anniversary of the team and the venue. It won’t be one night. It will be an entire season and an entire year.”

It was another great year at the SMG-managed Los Angeles’ Greek Theatre, according to GM Becky Colwell. The Greek Theatre has an open-venue model for programming and open-ticketing model for ticketing. “We did 80 events, 71 concerts and our open-model is working out really well,” she said. Bigger concerts were Sam Hunt, Harry Styles, Deep Purple and Alice Cooper, and Adam Ant.

Ticket sales are going well, she said, and the venue was up in attendance by 5 percent, with overall revenue up as well. “We increased price points a little bit and that helped,” she said, adding they “watched labor bills.”

SMG will run the theater for another year, the last of its three-year contract, and has put in a bid to nab the next contact, which is out for RFP.

A $5 facility fee per ticket amassed $1.5 million last year that allowed for upgrades, including a new single accommodation family restroom, new wayfinding signs, a new stairway, new lighting and deck upgrades. In 2018, Colwell said improvements to the iconic outdoor venue will be the restoration of the gates and doors and renovations to all the box seats.

The concessionaire is Premiere, which added a grilled cheese concept that’s a huge hit and introduced salads. “Organic foods are very popular,” she said. “We have an organic lasagna that’s so good. But regardless, the truffle fries and nachos aren’t going anywhere. They sell really well and cannot be removed.”

Establishing a specific ride-hailing pickup and drop-off location “went really well” and alleviated a lot of the traffic issues that have plagued the venue in the past. “We leveraged our partnership with Uber to make that happen,” Colwell said. “It’s easier and safer and now the drivers know exactly where to go.”

BLUE SKY DAY
Many who work in the venue world say it’s a special world to begin with, but most venue operators can recall that one special day when the sky was blue, things ran like clockwork and they wouldn’t trade places with anyone. VenuesNow asked facility managers we spoke with to describe a day like that last year.

Jodi Goodman, president, Live Nation Northern California: “At Concord Pavilion it was hosting our first EDM event; at Shoreline it was the debut of the Rolling Loud Festival.”
Nick Spampanato, SVP and GM, The Forum, Inglewood : “When James Corden came and took my job as GM for a day.”

Jens Weiden, chief revenue officer, Rose Bowl, Pasadena: “When the first note was played at the Arroyo Seco festival.”

Jim Mercurio, VP of stadium operations and GM, Levi’s Stadium, Santa Clara: “The day a woman collapsed in the parking lot and had a heart attack on her way out and because our team was able to see it and communicate, we saved her life.”

Tim Ryan, CEO, Honda Center, Anaheim: “After 41 years of doing this, the majority of my days are good days. Everyday there is a sold-out event is a good day.”

Terry Dwyer, president, Segerstrom Center for the Arts, Costa Mesa: “The look on everyone’s face when we opened our new Julianne and George Argyros Plaza.”

Becky Colwell, GM, Greek Theatre, Los Angeles: “The Kids Bop concert. The crowd was mostly 7- to 12-year-olds and for the majority of them it was their first concert. It was a joy to see the kids enjoying themselves and great way to introduce kids to live music.”
— By Brad Weissberg


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MORE COLLEGES CRY, ‘GET YOUR BEER HERE’
 
Posted: 19 Mar 2018, 3:00 pm

Beer and wine have been available at a handful of universities’ events  since the start of the decade. The trend picked up steam in 2016 when the NCAA gave the thumbs-up to alcohol in venues by allowing the College World Series, played at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha, Neb., to serve NCAA-sanctioned beer and wine.

Today, about 40 schools offer “soft alcohol” — wine and beer — to the general public at their university venues. Some allow it venuewide; in others alcohol is sold only in premium sections.
What they all agree upon is that allowing soft alcohol sales at their university venues has improved the fan experience.

At the University of Maryland in College Park, beer and wine sales have been permitted throughout Capital One Field at Maryland Stadium for football and the Xfinity Center for basketball since 2016.

“The reason we started was twofold,” said Joe Mullineaux, senior associate director of dining services. “Research has proved that allowing alcohol in the venue cuts down on pregame drinking and tailgating, and lowers the amount of alcohol-related incidents on game day.”
The number of DUIs in the surrounding area in the 24-hour period before dropped to zero while the number of alcohol-induced occurrences was cut in half based on arrest records, he said.
To buy beer there are age checks for anyone who appears to be under the age of 40. Vertical ID’s (signifying the holder is not under 21) are not accepted nor are any non-U.S. IDs. “We’d rather turn away an eligible drinker than take a chance,” he said.

Alcohol is not sold in any of the student sections. There’s a limit of one drink per person for each transaction. “My concessions people disagree because of all the grief they get, but I think the one thing we did to minimize any issues is our ‘one drink per trip to the bar’ policy,” he said. Maryland Dining, the university’s in-house foodservice group, handles concessions.

All of those who touch or serve alcohol and their supervisors must take a course and be certified by the alcohol awareness program Training for Intervention Procedures, or TIPS. To date, the university has certified 1,800 people.

Every point-of-sale has a black-light pen to detect fraudulent IDs and scanners that scan every ID. In-house alcohol beverage control officers assist and monitor the stands, aided by a uniformed police officer for every section.

Underage student drinkers are permanently expelled from the venue and sent to the police. The office of student conduct is also notified.

Sales are strong at the home of the Terrapins. “The original goal was to sell one beer for every 1 1/2 non-student-occupied seats in the venue,” Mullineaux said. “We’ve achieved that.”
“We didn’t do this to make a profit,” he said. “One hundred percent of the profit goes to the president’s office except for a yearly $200,000 donation to Terps After Dark, a program that gives new students alternatives to going to bars.”

Alcohol has been available in the Alamodome during University of San Antonio football games since the contract between the independent venue and the university took effect in 2011. “Roughly 20 percent of the fans are students,” said Nick Langella, the stadium’s general manager. “Eighty percent of the people in the stands are not students. They are reasonable adults, of drinking age, who would like to have a beverage.”

“We haven’t had any problem with it,” he said. “Our concessionaire, Savor, is in charge of making sure the alcohol sales follow the policies.”

Enforcement officers from the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission are on hand for every event. “The kids are respectful and want the experience to be great for everyone,” Langella said. “The university has a zero-tolerance alcohol policy for minors and if we find someone underage drinking, we turn them over to the police. It doesn’t happen very often.”

Langella said alcohol beverages are roughly 20 percent of the food and beverage grosses.
“Everybody is on board with it,” said Langella. “The concessionaire, the building, as well as the university, we all want to make sure the environment is right.”

At Indiana University venues, soft beverage alcohol sales have been allowed in the auditorium at performing arts and entertainment events for the last two years.

“It’s been a positive experience and a benefit from the guest perspective,” said Doug Booher, executive director of university events.

Booher said the program’s success was built on “getting all the stakeholders involved, gathering input and rolling it out effectively.”

On a few occasions, a patron has been overserved and personnel have had to deal with that and learn from it, he acknowledged, but after the learning curve, incidents were down to .01 percent— two people — out of 120 events.

Sodexo is the concessionaire at the university. “They are great partners and make sure the operation runs smoothly,” he said. Sodexo also provides training for anyone who will be serving over-21 drinks.

Grosses and per caps are up significantly. “This provides additional revenue for the university, but, by and large, the change was made to accommodate the thousands of fans who told us they wanted to enjoy a glass of wine or have a beer when they came here,” he said.

There are rules in place to keep the alcohol flow at a minimum and there are things the venue can do to manipulate availability. “It’s two drinks per person,” Booher said.

There are also guidelines that can change from show to show, he explained. “At student-heavy events we can ask for two pieces of ID; we can switch from 16-ounce cups to 12-ounce cups; and we can limit the number of points-of-sale that are open.”

“It’s been a net positive from a fan experience perspective and a revenue perspective,” he said.
With the program going so well at the auditorium, there’s been a lot of discussion about expanding it to the football stadium.

“It’s being reviewed; it’s a growing trend and our peers are moving toward it,” Booher said.
At the University of Illinois’ State Farm Center in Champaign, beer and wine have been available at performing arts events since 2009. Since a massive $170 million renovation in 2016, the alcohol program has been expanded to premium services areas, suites and clubs.
“It was a matter of staying competitive,” said Kevin Ullestad, the arena’s director. “There was an expectation from the fans. Agents [and] promoters wanted it, and we had artists say they wouldn’t play the facility unless we allowed beer and wine.”

“There have been no issues,” he said. “We’ve had fewer alcohol-related incidents than before we opened the bars. The fans were tailgating in the parking lot, binge drinking, and they’d come in drunk and we’d have to deal with that inside the facility. Now we’re able to manage the crowd rather than react to it.”

Ullestad’s venues also have restrictions. “We ID anyone who looks under 35, and if we catch anyone drinking underage we will deal with it with authoritative interaction.” Sodexo has the concessions account at Illinois.

Allowing beer and wine in the venue has expanded the revenue, but it doesn’t come without its obligations, Ullestad said. “There are revenue advantages, but there are new security expenses that come with it, too.”

At the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, where the University of Southern California Trojans play their home games, beer and wine are allowed only in the suites. “Suite service started in 2013,” said Joe Furin, general manager of the L.A. Coliseum. “You have to be a member to get into the clubs. The ban for the fans in the stands has been in place for decades.”

For football, this past season, USC averaged 72,683 fans at seven home games.  Student attendance was generally 7,000 to 8,000, according to Tim Tessalone, USC sports information director. Legends handles concessions for USC at the coliseum.

“There’s continual discussion about changing the policy,” Furin said. “But there’s a lot of ‘That’s the way it’s always been’ and a lot of resistance. We continue to want to serve the fans, and alcohol use is something that always comes up. So never say never.”


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Arlington Unveils Plans for Massive Esports Stadium
 
Posted: 18 Mar 2018, 8:00 pm

The City of Arlington announced plans for Esports Stadium Arlington, an esports-specific venue designed to draw competitive gamers and fans from around the world. The proposed venue will be built within the existing Arlington Convention Center in collaboration with architecture firm Populous.

More...


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2013 September Arenas Issue - BOK
 
Posted: 16 Mar 2018, 3:00 pm

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2018 March Digital Issue
 
Posted: 16 Mar 2018, 2:00 pm
PACnet '18 attendees receive a subscription 20% discount.  Contact Rich DiGiacomo to subscribe at the discounted rate!  rich@venuesnow.com

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TURNING THE TABLES AT SUNTRUST PARK
 
Posted: 16 Mar 2018, 1:00 pm

The appetite for a premium experience among Atlanta Braves fans has been greater than anticipated at SunTrust Park. So for the Major League Baseball stadium’s second season, the Braves are adding more terrace tables at the Cobb County ballpark.

The 4Topps product, baseball’s spin on loge boxes, comes with four swivel chairs and a half-moon table. 4Topps, a Winston-Salem, N.C., firm, also produces lightweight mesh chairs and drink rails for sports facilities. The Oakland A’s, St. Louis Cardinals and New York Mets are installing 4Topps products at their ballparks for this season.

The Braves opened SunTrust Park last year with 90-plus 4Topps tables situated midlevel behind home plate, with access to the Infiniti Club lounge behind the seats. The tables are equipped with small television screens programmed with Comcast’s Xfinity X1 cable TV system, and the new tables come with those screens as well.  (Comcast is a founding partner of SunTrust Park and built its new Southeast headquarters next to the stadium.)

The initial tables, sold in multiyear deals and priced at $130 and $113 a person per game, were the first premium seat product to sell out at the new park. After Van Wagner Sports & Entertainment, the Braves’ sales agency at the time, moved all the inventory in two months, team officials looked to install more 4Topps, but construction was too far along for the team to make the change.

For 2018, the Braves found space for a retrofit and took the sales process in-house.  Fans had complained that the Delta Sky360 Club, one price tier above the Infiniti Club, grew too crowded last season, so the Braves expanded the Delta club lounge. In addition, they added eight 4Topps tables along both the first base and third base lines with access to the club. Those seats replace six rows of regular seats in sections 122 and 130.

The new seats, priced as an all-inclusive season ticket, cost $205 a person per game. (The original tables come with a $30 food and merchandise credit per seat.) Buyers must buy all four seats, in deals of three or seven years, said Jim Allen, the Braves’ senior vice president of corporate and premium partnerships. As of early March, five of the eight tables had been sold. Buyers have been a mix of new customers and premium patrons wanting additional seats, Allen said.

The Delta Sky360 Club, the ballpark’s most popular hospitality space, gains 2,000 square feet of dining and kitchen space by eliminating a media interview room next door to the lounge. Populous, SunTrust Park’s architect, designed the retrofit.

“The club became more crowded than we thought it would be,” Allen said. “To date, we’ve had rave reviews from clients excited about the new layout.”

In other 4Topps installations around MLB:
The Oakland A’s are adding roughly 250 4Topps mesh seats with cup holders (no tables) along the first base and third base lines at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum.

The New York Mets are remodeling a group space in right-center field for Citibank, which holds naming rights to Citi Field. The new layout includes 80 mounted swivel seats.
The St. Louis Cardinals are converting seats in the upper deck at Busch Stadium to a standing-room area using 4Topps drink rails. It’s similar to The Rooftop at Coors Field in Denver, said Deron Nardo, 4Topps president and principal.


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49ERS LATEST IN NFL TO FIND A FIT WITH FITNESS
 
Posted: 16 Mar 2018, 12:00 pm

BRANDING + SPONSORSHIPS

NFL team-branded fitness centers are a trend in the exercise space, and the San Francisco 49ers have become the league’s third club to jump in the hot tub, forming a joint venture with 24 Hour Fitness founder Mark Mastrov.

49ersFit, situated in a San Jose outlet mall, should open by August, team President Al Guido said. It follows CowboysFit, which made its debut in May 2017 as part of the Dallas Cowboys’ new training facility in Frisco, Texas. BearsFit, a free-standing facility similar to 49ersFit, should open by the end of the year in Vernon Hills, Ill., a north Chicago, suburb, according to local reports.

Mastrov, who sold 24 Hour Fitness in 2005 for $1.68 billion and is a co-owner of the Sacramento Kings, is an investor in all three fitness centers.

49ersFit fees have not been determined, but the monthly rate will run about $49 a person as a tie-in to the team’s brand, a price much lower than those at other fitness centers in the Bay Area, team spokesman Roger Hacker said.

The team planned to send emails to season-ticket holders this month announcing 49ersFit, as well as launching a website with greater details on the venture. There will be benefits and amenities for those customers over what typical members would receive, Guido said.
Guido would not confirm whether 49ers players would use the fitness center, but there will be some connection between them and 49ersFit members. It could take the form of training programs customized for players made available for members, special appearances and guest instructors from among 49ers alumni.

“We’ve discussed all those things,” Guido said. “As we move forward, there will be specific details about our alumni and strength coach and how they’re integrated into the program schedule.”
Apart from the fitness component, at all three facilities, the Cowboys, Bears and 49ers have space set aside to sell merchandise branded for the respective fitness centers.

“I would love to see kids and adults wearing 49ersFit gear around town,” Guido said. “It’s a cool way to express the 49ers brand without having to buy a ticket to the game.”

The joint venture is the next step for extending the 49ers’ brand outside of Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif. The team expects to open multiple 49ersFit centers over the next several years across the Bay Area. Considering the Oakland Raiders leave for Las Vegas and a new stadium in 2020, the East Bay could be a possibility, although Guido would not disclose additional sites.

But the opportunities are there to expand after the 49ers saw Mastrov develop the model.
“Mastrov had his partnership with Magic Johnson [and Shaquille O’Neal] with 24 Hour Fitness, and the UFC branded gyms have been a huge success for him,” Guido said. “We felt we could use the 49ers brand across all demographics, with fitness as the platform.”

Mastrov was noncommittal when asked whether he plans to open more NFL team-branded fitness centers.

“I don’t think there’s a goal. A lot of it is just relationship-driven,” he said. “I got a chance to spend a lot of time with Al and (team owner) Jed (York) and really like those guys. I grew up in the Bay Area and have been a 49er fan almost my entire life, so it’s a chance to work with a brand that I admire and respect.”

The venture came together after discussions over the past few years. The most challenging piece was finding a space in the Bay Area that was big enough, Guido said. After looking at about a dozen sites, they found a vacant building at Westgate Center Outlet Mall, whose anchors include Target, Nordstrom Rack and Walmart Neighborhood Market.

“It’s a prime area for our season-ticket base,” he said.

Mastrov will run the 36,500-square-foot facility, which is about half the size of CowboysFit.  49ersFit features include a 100-yard artificial turf field for multiple training exercises and a wide variety of exercise equipment, plus yoga and Pilates classes and a recovery space with ice baths to help members relieve the aches and pains associated with intense workouts.

The recovery aspect is something most fitness centers do not typically offer and should help 49ersFit stand out among its competitors, Guido said. There will also be a kids’ workout space themed for the 49ers.

“We’re going to offer something fresh and new in the way that we design and develop our programming inside,” Mastrov said. “It’s geared more toward what (full-time) athletes train with, so aspiring athletes and weekend warriors will have fun training on pieces of equipment they’ve probably never used before.”

49ersFit will have a staff of about 75 people, Mastrov said.

Long term, 49ersFit could integrate with the team’s sports rehabilitation centers. The first 49ers Rehab and Performance Physical Therapy Center with Monterey Spine & Joint opened in Monterey, Calif., in September. The partnership with Wellstrong medical services combines MS&J’s physicians with the 49ers’ training staff to provide care to the general public. There have been initial talks about consolidating the two ventures, but nothing has been  completed, Mastrov said.


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UPGRADES WILL KEEP GARDEN UP TO DATE WITH NEW DEVELOPMENT
 
Posted: 16 Mar 2018, 12:00 pm

TD Garden finally gets some breathing room 23 years after the Boston arena opened its doors.
The 19,580-seat facility sits on one of the smallest footprints in sports. That forced a tight seating bowl, which has served fans well, but has restricted what could be done to develop the public concourses and premium clubs.

Those restrictions loosen up as part of The Hub on Causeway, the mixed-use project going up around the arena. The development allows Delaware North to expand the arena’s outer walls along seven levels, starting with event level on the third floor.

Overall, the arena gains about 60,000 square feet of space to build premium clubs, more concessions and a social gathering space open to all fans on the ninth level, the arena’s highest point. That area will have a view to the floor for Bruins and Celtics games, TD Garden President Amy Latimer said.

Latimer could not provide details on the upgrades, which are scheduled to be completed in late 2019. More information is expected to be released this month, pending project approval from Delaware North corporate headquarters in Buffalo, she said.

A new center-hung video board and new seats are also in the works. Last fall, Latimer toured three new facilities — Little Caesars Arena in Detroit, Rogers Place in Edmonton and Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta — to get ideas for improving TD Garden.

Some pieces tied to the development will open in October, including a new arena entrance spanning 10,000 square feet.

The entrance, a glass atrium filled with food and drink locations, should provide a stronger connection between the arena and bars along Canal Street, which is across the street from the facility, said Murray Beynon, the Toronto architect designing the venue’s improvements.
Six new “smart” elevators leading from the parking garage directly to the arena’s premium levels also open this fall. Those patrons will enter the building from the garage, go through security and have their tickets scanned, with new technology dictating which elevator to take to get to their seats, Latimer said.

Premium ticket holders now take an elevator from the garage to North Station’s commuter level, where they take an escalator to the arena’s main concourse before getting on a second elevator that takes them to their seat level.

“Those new elevators really help us,” she said. “We’ve been vertically challenged for a while. For our premium clients, to go right from the garage to the premium levels is fantastic.”
The future upgrades, at a cost of about $60 million, come a few years after Delaware North spent $70 million to update concourses and concessions and renovate the Legends Club, among other spaces. Come late 2019, the total cost of all renovations, including new HVAC systems, comes close to $160 million, the original cost to build TD Garden in the 1990s.

“We knew we were going to do [mixed-use], and there’s nothing worse than having a new development and walking into a 20-year-old building,” Latimer said. “So, we did the premium levels first, then the concourses. The expansion with the new products comes online over the next two seasons. We’ll basically have a new building, and with all the excitement of the entertainment zone.

“I laugh. If we had done it when they took down the old Garden, we would have been the first arena to have that mixed-use space. But the market changed and it sat there for years as a parking lot.”

For Beynon, a principal with Brisbin Brook Beynon (which does business in the U.S. as Stadium Consultants International), TD Garden is his second project working on a big-league arena perched above a major transit hub. Beynon worked on the $1 billion transformation of Madison Square Garden, which sits above Penn Station.

“MSG was built in the ’60s and TD Garden was created in the ’90s, and there was a lot of advancement [in design and construction],” Beynon said. “MSG was a more challenging experience with regard to dealing with that structure that went right down into Penn Station, which was built many years before the arena. TD Garden is a fairly normal structure and very resilient, so it hasn’t really presented problems over other building renovations.”


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MORE THAN GARDEN VARIETY
 
Posted: 16 Mar 2018, 12:00 pm

TD Garden has seen a lot since its doors opened in 1995. The NHL’s Boston Bruins and NBA’s Celtics have each had a championship team. The big touring acts have visited, as well as the NCAA basketball tournament and Frozen Four, Wrestlemania and the Democratic National Convention.

But the Garden stands in a tight footprint within a foot of the historic Boston Garden site, atop North Station, a major transit hub. So for all it has to offer, it has never had a true front door.
It’s about to get that, and lots, lots more.

For now, TD Garden is engulfed in a construction zone, but The Hub on Causeway, a $1 billion mixed-use project in a partnership between Delaware North, owner of TD Garden and the Bruins, and Boston Properties, is taking shape, straddling the Boston arena. It’s transforming hallowed ground where the old Garden stood into a multitower complex filled with live entertainment, retail shops and restaurants, plus offices, apartments and a high-tech hotel.
The development falls in line with what many teams are doing these days: adding mixed-use elements to extend their reach outside the venue walls to generate revenue 365 days a year.
“It’s a phenomenon that’s changing quite a bit,” said Charlie Jacobs, CEO for Delaware North’s Boston Holdings, and the youngest of three sons who along their father, Chairman Jeremy Jacobs, run the family business out of Buffalo, N.Y. “The tribal atmosphere of not necessarily being inside the park but just being there, that’s what we’re trying to re-create here at the Garden.”

Two years after breaking ground, the first pieces of the massive development will open this fall, most notably a new main entrance for the home of the Bruins and Celtics, which thrills TD Garden President Amy Latimer (see story, page 14).

The grand entry, a 10,000-square-foot glass enclosure off Causeway Street, is scheduled to open in October. In addition, 530 new parking spaces will open in the North Station garage underground, plus a new tunnel connecting commuter retail space to the North Station subway stop. But that’s only the beginning.

The sexy stuff opens in late 2019, starting with Star Market grocery, plus a 15-screen movie complex, a small concert venue, and a steakhouse and a three-story sports bar, both run by Patina Restaurant Group. The Delaware North subsidiary operates Nick & Stef’s Steakhouse next to Madison Square Garden among its many properties. Separately, Rapid7, a software security firm, will take up about 150,000 square feet of new office space in relocating its headquarters from Cambridge, Mass.

The second phase, to open over the next two years, covers the 272-room CitizenM hotel and a 38-story residential tower. The third phase, for which there is no timeline at this point, features an office tower with 600,000 square feet of leasable space.

The project has been 15 years in the making for Delaware North, which also owns concessionaire Sportservice. Over time, the development went through many iterations. Delaware North talked to several developers and even tried to take on the project itself, Jacobs said. But although the firm spends millions annually in construction at ballparks, airports and national parks, real estate development is not its core business, Jacobs said.

Ultimately, Delaware North found a strong local partner in Boston Properties, a real estate developer specializing in sustainability whose portfolio covers Atlantic Wharf, Boston’s first green skyscraper, and multiple LEED Gold office buildings among its large-scale commercial projects in town.

“Sustainability is what drives us as a company,” said Bryan Koop, Boston Properties’ executive vice president of the Boston region. “There’s nothing more sustainable than developing and putting density on top of a transportation hub.”

For Boston Properties, The Hub on Causeway stands out for its many destinations, as well as the site itself, which holds lasting memories for Bruins and Celtics fans and the multiple championships those teams won at old Boston Garden over its 67-year history.
Fenway Park aside, “to Bostonians, there’s nothing more important than this site in terms of sports,” Koop said.

Apart from the arena, North Station is the cog for the entire development with its subway system, regional bus station and railroad lines, and it is what drove Boston Properties to the location. The developer’s clients told Koop that without North Station, it would be difficult for them to recruit talent to work at The Hub on Causeway, especially on the tech side. 

“You can’t draw somebody to a location that you can’t get them to,” Koop said. “You’ve got to have it … which certainly mass transit does like nothing else.”

The neighborhood was also key. Boston Properties does a lot of business with firms searching for real estate tied to the “TAMI” sector, which refers to technology, advertising, media and information. In the developer’s discussions with those companies, neighborhoods such as New York’s Meatpacking District, situated on Manhattan’s far west side, came up as examples of where young professionals preferred to live and work.

“They would always bring up authenticity,” Koop said. “The neighborhoods weren’t sterile or master-planned and generic, like other sectors of the city. They wanted an area with a history of rich architecture. When I’d go visit with them about what they did at Meatpacking, it had a real cool vibe to it, that combination of the old with the opportunity of a new vision.”

In Boston, the neighborhood surrounding TD Garden has evolved over the past five years with new office space and apartment buildings, including one 286-unit complex across the street from the arena. Across Interstate 93, facing the arena’s east side, Converse opened its new global headquarters in 2015 as part of the Lovejoy Wharf project in the city’s North End district. In a few years, The Hub on Causeway will make the area even more dynamic, Jacobs said.
“It’s going to be a drastic change,” he said. “Where we’re located in the city, it’s not necessarily the North End or the West End. We’re combining the two communities together here.”
Apart from the trendy neighborhoods, the developer researched sports-related projects such as L.A. Live, Real Sports in Toronto and, in St. Louis, Ballpark Village across the street from Busch Stadium, where Sportservice runs the Cardinal Nation restaurant.

On his own, Koop studied the $164-million renovation of Amon G. Carter Stadium, where he played football for Texas Christian University in the 1970s. As an alum, he toured the project, which was completed in 2012. He was struck by the way the Big 12 Conference school and architect HKS told the story of TCU’s history and culture through graphic displays and other design elements tied to the art-deco style architecture of the stadium and on campus.
“I pulled as much from TCU and the stadium as I did from the other places,” Koop said. “I loved the curation of the place, the almost tribal markings, the emblems … things like that.”
In Boston, the developer adapted the theme for branding the entrances to The Hub on Causeway. The podium, for example, the ground floor of the development with the restaurants and movie theater, will showcase the same light-colored brick that made up the exterior of Boston Garden, as well as its vertical lines and windows incorporated into the new structure. Brick pavers leading to the new front door of TD Garden will be designed to match features of the old arena such as the outline of the old ice floor and basketball’s foul lines.

“It’s the footprint of the old Boston Garden as it would be in that exact location,” Koop said. “We’re very focused on telling the story of Boston Garden, because it’s really important to the Jacobs family and Delaware North.”

Just as important are key anchors for the development, such as Star Market, a 103-year-old Boston brand. At 60,000 square feet, it will be the city’s biggest grocery, accessible to 50,000 daily commuters as well as the neighborhood. It’s desperately needed in a part of the city that’s gone for many years without a supermarket, Latimer said.

“Star Market is as synonymous with groceries in Boston as Dunkin’ Donuts is with coffee,” Koop said. “To have them at this location is phenomenal because we essentially had a food desert with something like 60,000 people that didn’t have access to a grocery store.”
The 1,500-capacity concert venue is a joint venture between Live Nation and Big Night Entertainment Group, a local firm that runs a dozen nightclubs in Greater Boston and Connecticut and whose investors include Red Sox owner Tom Werner. Big Night will run the facility. Live Nation will book the shows.

It’s similar to Live Nation’s role at the Coca-Cola Roxy, a theater at the Battery Atlanta, the mixed-use development next to SunTrust Park. The ballpark, home of Major League Baseball’s Braves, and the development opened in 2017.

In the next two years, CitizenM, a Dutch brand, will open its first Boston hotel at The Hub on Causeway, following two locations in New York, including Times Square. The hotel operates as a self-serve setup where guests use tablets to check in and control their room experience to set the temperature, lighting and wakeup calls.

Boston Properties officials thought CitizenM was the perfect match for The Hub on Causeway because it’s not a “finicky brand,” Koop said. The company does continuous market checks to provide the lowest rate locally, and its focus is on providing a good night’s sleep, he said. CitizenM doesn’t typically have restaurants in its buildings, so there won’t be competition with Patina and other Hub on Causeway eateries, which is one reason the developer signed a 99-year lease with the hotel chain.

“They really invented the micro-hotel concept in Europe and were the first to come up with it,” Koop said.

Five years from now, after the hotel opens, The Hub on Causeway will have put its stamp on TD Garden as a year-round destination, project officials said.

“It already had a little bit of a seed … but now, it’s really going to be the live entertainment neighborhood,” Koop said.


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Silver Lake Buys Into Oak View Group
 
Posted: 14 Mar 2018, 7:00 pm

Technology investment firm Silver Lake has made a strategic investment in Oak View Group, a diversified sports and entertainment company. Terms were not disclosed, but sources said that it is an investment of more than $100 million and that Silver Lake receives an equity stake in the firm. The investment was announced earlier this week.

Los Angeles-based Oak View Group was co-founded in 2015 by Tim Leiweke and Irving Azoff and runs multiple businesses, including OVG Business Development; OVG Global Partnerships. OVG Media & Conferences (VenuesNow and Pollstar are part of this division); Prevent Advisors, a security consulting division; and the Arena Alliance, a consortium of 27 major-market arenas and two baseball stadiums with collective leverage on buying, selling, booking and strategic planning.

Silver Lake, which is based in Menlo Park, Calif., and has offices in New York, London, Hong Kong and Tokyo, has $39 billion in combined assets under management and committed capital.

Its portfolio includes investments in UFC, Endeavor and sports retailer Fanatics. Its total investments generate more than $140 billion in annual revenue with companies employing more than 300,000 people worldwide.

As an arena developer, Oak View Group was recently awarded the rights to redevelop Key Arena in Seattle with partners David Bonderman and Jerry Bruckheimer.

The $600 million project is tied to OVG’s effort to secure an NHL expansion team in Seattle. Earlier this month the venue sold 33,000 deposits for season tickets.

In addition, OVG has partnered with Chief Operating Officer Jeff Wilpon of Major League Baseball's New York Mets and the NHL's New York Islanders to develop a new arena at Belmont Park for the hockey team.

Silver Lake’s investment will help support those two arena projects, OVG officials said. “In less than three years, Oak View Group has made a significant positive impact on the sports and entertainment facilities landscape,” OVG’s Leiweke said in a statement. “I am very proud of what we have accomplished in such a short time. This deal with Silver Lake provides us with capital to continue to grow our business as well as invaluable expertise and relationships. I am thrilled to have them as my partner."

Lee Wittlinger, managing director at Silver Lake, said, “Technology’s impact on the global media and entertainment sectors has created new opportunities for OVG.

“We firmly believe that OVG is positioned to become a world-class franchise in sports and live events. We look forward to working with Tim, Irving, and their team of category experts as a strategic partner in the company’s next phase of growth.”

Since forming in November 2015, Oak View Group has grown to 200 employees with offices in Los Angeles, Seattle and New York.


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Backing For Parachute Concerts
 
Posted: 14 Mar 2018, 6:00 pm

Parachute Concerts' Ross Atamian and Ilario Altamura. (Courtesy Parachute Concerts)

Northeastern-based concert promoter Parachute Concerts has struck a strategic alliance with investment firm Magna Entertainment that will “support consistent growth of high-quality live events by iconic artists.”

“They’re a worldwide investment firm, they invest in public and private equity markets and the entertainment industry,” Parachute co-founder Ross Atamian said. “We have them as our backing now, and it’s really going to open up things in terms of just the volume of shows we can do.”

Founded by Ilario Altamura and Atamian in 2015, Parachute has coming shows including Ja Rule and Ashanti in Bangor, Maine, as well as multiple “PJ Masks Live” shows in the Northeast, as well as Carol Burnett in Chicago, Maks Val & Peta Live, Yanni and Aretha Franklin. Atamian said they previously promoted mostly electronic dance music shows under the banner Midnite Society.

“We’ve been impressed by Parachute Concerts’ impeccable track record and dedication to the artists they work with,” Andrew Kotliar of Magna Entertainment said in a statement. “Ilario and Ross are exceptional entrepreneurs and are highly regarded by industry participants across their target markets.”

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Atamian, who described Parachute as “under the radar but savvy and aggressive,” said the second year of the Hey Stamford! Food Festival, which attracted 5,000 people last year to the Connecticut city, is in the planning stages with national touring artists to be announced.

Previous shows put on by Parachute include Avicii, the "I Love the 90s" tour, Tony Bennett and Ringo Starr.

Magna Entertainment describes itself as “bringing the rigor and diligence of Wall Street to the entertainment industry” with “a passion for creativity (that) lies at the core of our corporate DNA.” It's a division of New York-based Magna, founded by Joshua Sason in 2009, and lists among its other investments the boxing film "Bleed for This" and the documentary "The 50-Year Argument."


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Times-Union Fire Won’t Stop Events
 
Posted: 14 Mar 2018, 4:00 pm

A small electrical fire broke out at Times-Union PAC early Monday.

An electrical fire at a concession stand at SMG-managed Times-Union Center for the Performing Arts in Jacksonville, Fla., was quickly put out by the venue’s fire suppression system early Monday.

A portable refrigerated concession unit is to blame, said SMG’s Alex Alston, director of sales and marketing for the venue. The concession stand was in the main lobby.

“The cord on the unit had an electrical short and started a small fire," Alston said. “We’re prepared for this sort of thing with a fire suppression system. A smoke detector triggered sprinklers, and the fire was quickly put out.”

The incident occurred “after the building was closed for the night, sometime in the early morning, and long before staff arrived.” The only one on the property at the time was a security guard.

“This was a very small incident and handled exactly the way you’d want an incident like this to go,” he said. “The fire went out quickly, efficiently, and luckily, it occurred at a time when there were no people in the building and therefore no panicking, as  people rushed for an exits after the fire alarm went off.”

Fire inspectors responded to the incident and the venue was cleared to reopen.

“It was cleaned up quickly, and we’re back to business,” said Alston.

Damage was minimal. “The entire lobby carpet needs to be replaced,” Alston said. “There’s some other water damage in other areas of the lobby, too.” An assessment of the extent of the damage and the costs to repair it will be sent to the venue’s insurance provider.

All scheduled events have proceeded as planned, including performances from Celtic Woman on Tuesday and Anita Baker tonight, and Million Dollar Quartet and the Jacksonville Symphony over the March 15-17 weekend.

“Tonight we have a sold-out Anita Baker show, and the fact that we can hold a big event like this 48 hours later is pretty cool,” Alston said.

 


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Parker joins MSG as EVP
 
Posted: 14 Mar 2018, 4:00 pm

victoriaparker200x145.jpg

 

Victoria Parker.

Madison Square Garden Co. named Victoria Parker executive vice president of  MSG Productions. Parker joins MSG after serving as the head of creative strategy for Verizon’s Oath Studios. Before Verizon, Parker spent 10 years at The Weinstein Co., where she served as VP of corporate affairs and SVP of theatrical productions.

Parker will focus on strengthening and enhancing the annual “Christmas Spectacular Starring the Radio City Rockettes” and prioritizing the strategic expansion of the legendary Rockettes brand. She will be responsible for the creation and implementation of new proprietary productions and events for MSG venues, including the “MSG Sphere.”

Parker first worked with MSG as an executive producer on “12-12-12,” the MSG benefit concert that raised more than $50 million for the victims of Hurricane Sandy.
 


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Is U.S. Trade Move Tariff-fying?
 
Posted: 14 Mar 2018, 3:00 pm

Projects well underway, such as the NFL stadium in Inglewood, Calif., have already ordered most of their steel packages. (Courtesy Los Angeles Rams)

President Donald Trump’s decision to place tariffs on steel and aluminum imports could potentially affect the availability of those materials for sports developments in the coming months, general contractors and suppliers say.

Trump signed orders last week imposing a 25 percent tariff on imported steel and a 10 percent tariff on imported aluminum. Canada and Mexico are exempt from those tariffs, which take effect March 23.

For builders of sports facilities, there is an important distinction. The new tariffs apply to raw materials and not the customized steel forms that contractors use for construction of arenas and stadiums, said Peter Frantz, senior vice president for Cimolai, a steel fabricator whose projects include the U.S. Tennis Association’s new Louis Armstrong Stadium. 

At most, there could be a 2 percent to 3 percent increase in steel prices depending on the project, Frantz said.

“Some of the raw material is coming from out of the country and you will get countries that will ship to other countries instead of the U.S. because they don’t have the tariff on them,” he said. “I think you will have sporadic shortages, but I don’t think it will be anything long term. I don’t think it’s going to be anything too detrimental to the industry.”

Still, contractors are keeping a close eye on the situation. AECOM Hunt and Mortenson, builders of new NFL stadiums in Los Angeles and Las Vegas, respectively, both buy fabricated steel globally. The tariffs do not affect those two projects, where most steel packages have been ordered, but officials with both firms said there is uncertainty over the residual affects the tariffs could have on the cost of overall business.

“Our clients are asking us the same question,” said Ken Johnson, an executive vice president and division manager with AECOM Hunt. “The increase in price through the tariff could have the fabricators come back to us screaming about compensation. So far, we haven’t heard them raise their hands.”

AECOM Hunt, among the top sports builders, orders about 50,000 tons of steel annually, Johnson said.

AECOM Hunt specializes in constructing retractable roofs, including the one for Armstrong stadium, which opens in August for the U.S. Open tennis tournament. For those massive structures, Belgium’s ArcelorMittal is the only steel fabricator in the world capable of producing the long-span trusses critical for building movable roofs, Johnson said.

Mortenson works with multiple fabricators domestically, said Derek Cunz, the firm’s senior vice president and general manager. Cunz said that he would not be surprised if steel prices increased by double digits and that, across the board, tariffs have already affected the process for ordering steel.

“We’ve seen wild variations in lead time growth,” he said. “The market is trying to get ahead of the tariffs, causing a surge in orders, which is driving lead times. We’re working with our customers to manage the process.”

For construction firms, the same dynamics apply to aluminum, which is typically used to build the exterior walls of sports venues, plus electrical and mechanical systems. There could be a ripple effect for most every material they use to build arenas and stadiums, Cunz said.

Bottom line, Frantz said, “Contractors should be vigilant in how they buy and make sure they’re dealing with people that have the wherewithal to buy on an international market and are aware of the risks involved with availability and the taxes associated with it.”


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MSG Sues Over Proposed Clippers Arena
 
Posted: 13 Mar 2018, 7:00 pm

An enhanced Google map of the area that The Forum occupies in Inglewood, Calif., and where a proposed Clippers arena would go.

Madison Square Garden, owner of The Forum in Inglewood, Calif., has followed through on a threat to file a lawsuit to stop the proposed Los Angeles Clippers arena that the city of Inglewood approved last June.

At the time, MSG claimed it was blindsided by the deal, which would see the NBA team move from Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles to a state-of-the-art, multimillion-dollar facility just blocks from The Forum.

The lawsuit was filed earlier this month, after a lawyer for MSG said all other options had been exhausted.

“Six months later they are still refusing to give us a piece of paper and still refusing to follow up on any requests for information and still pretending that nothing is wrong,” said Marvin Putnam of Latham & Watkins, the legal firm representing The Forum. “In fact, they are even refusing to accept our service. We have been trying to serve at city hall and the city attorney’s office and they refuse to accept it.”

“This is like 1950s back alley politics,” Putnam said. “It would be unbelievable except it’s actually happening.”

Notable, said Putnam, is the fact that "when we heard the Clippers were looking to leave Staples Center, we went to (Mayor James Butts Jr.) and discussed an opportunity for Inglewood to secure the team."

“What we didn’t know was that the mayor immediately went into secret negotiations with the team behind out back,” Putnam said, echoing allegations in the lawsuit.

The lawsuit names the city of Inglewood, the redevelopment entity and the parking authority. It also names the mayor and the City Council individually.

“The mayor was crucial to our agreement and then he was the leader of the 'fraud' in which the others participated,” Putnam said. “The mayor was playing two games, both sides, and we now see that the mayor needed to ensure that his games didn’t overlap and no one found out he was double-crossing us.”

Butts’ position is that the issue is one of the city's right to self-determination and the scope of that right. 

“We disagree with The Forum on this issue,” the mayor wrote in an email to VenuesNow. “We also disagree that there has been a breach of any agreement with MSG. The Inglewood City Council's first responsibility is to its residents and their quality of life while ensuring continued progress, opportunities for employment, and improved public safety.”

“The City of Inglewood continues to cherish its relationship with The Madison Square Garden Company and Live Nation,” wrote the mayor. “Working together, we have seen the Forum become one of the top concert venues in the country.”

Butts stressed that he’s dealt with MSG in an honest and collaborative manner and still hopes “that we will be able to come together and find an amicable resolution.”

To that end, the city of Inglewood does not discussing pending litigation, Butts said.

MSG invested more than $100 million in 2014 when it renovated the facility, turning the former home of Los Angeles Lakers, Kings and Sparks into a performance-only venue.

The relationship between The Forum and Inglewood crumbled after Butts and four City Council members entered into an exclusive negotiating agreement with Murphy’s Bowl LLC, an entity representing the Clippers, on June 15, to construct a new home for the team in the city.

Just weeks earlier, Putman said, the mayor asked The Forum owners to relinquish rights to several overflow parking areas, which The Forum contractually had the lease to occupy, for a “technology park that was crucial to the city of Inglewood to build a Silicon Beach," allegations repeated in the lawsuit. Because of Inglewood's position regarding pending litigation, it did not respond to specific accusations in the suit.

Putnam believes that The Forum’s position is solid. “We have an agreement with them, it’s a 30- year deal, and we were asked to invest over $100 million dollars into Inglewood.” The city gets a percentage of every ticket sold in the venue.

“We’re proud of what we’ve accomplished, but it came with an understanding ” said Putnam. “We were entitled to a period of time to benefit from the investment. Putting a competitor literally across the street, who we would have to compete with for shows, is not in that deal.”

The rights to the land for the proposed Clippers arena were firmly in The Forum’s control, with provisions for its eventual purchase, Putman said.  “We had the right to have a say in what would go there,” he said. 

The next step in the case will be discovery. “If the city and the Clippers proceed, they proceed at their peril,” said Putnam, who anticipates it taking years before the matter is resolved. 


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A's Try Out A Treehouse
 
Posted: 13 Mar 2018, 5:00 pm

The Treehouse, which has room for 3,500 people, will open for the coming baseball season at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum. (Courtesy Oakland Athletics)

Major League Baseball's Oakland Athletics are using Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum as a test site for their new ballpark project. The Treehouse, a new social gathering space above the left-field bleachers at the multisport venue, is one more example of rethinking the baseball experience.

The 10,000-square-foot retrofit, announced earlier this month, opens this season for a March 25 exhibition. Designed by Brereton Architects, the Treehouse consists of a redwood terrace with bar and lounge seating set back from the field; an existing indoor bar that's been renovated with pingpong, pool and foosball tables; and a standing-room deck with drink rails facing the field. The cost of the project ran into the low seven figures.

The Treehouse theme is tied to A’s co-owner John Fisher, whose Mendocino Redwood Co. controls the world’s largest redwood forest in Northern California.

The Treehouse is connected to 2,000 general admission seats. All told, it can fit about 3,500 people, said Chris Giles, the team's chief operating officer. Spectra, the stadium's concessionaire, will set up a barbecue stand behind the redwood terrace, among other food options, and fans can buy merchandise from a pop-up stand.

The A's are selling the revamp as the Treehouse Pass, which is part of MLB's new subscription model. The monthly fee is $30, and the annual fee of $150 covers all 81 home games. The passes are delivered directly to the customer's mobile device. The Treehouse is open to all ticket holders, but fans buying the pass are restricted to that space, Giles said.

The A's will book DJs for Friday night games. In addition, NBC Sports California will host its pregame and postgame shows from the Treehouse, and the A's radio network will broadcast its live pregame show there for all home games.

The Treehouse adds to the spaces at the coliseum that the A's have targeted for new ideas, ideas that could be adapted to a new park. The team has been working on developing a new home for 15 years, and though it suffered a setback late last year when a proposed site fell through, it still plans to have a new home open by 2023.

The first concept, Championship Plaza, opened last season at the 52-year-old stadium. The standing-room area sits inside the ticketed perimeter between the stadium and Oracle Arena. The plaza features gourmet food trucks, beer stands, live music and a large video board but no views of the game.

Giles said the A's got a "ton of positive feedback" on Championship Plaza. That led the team to hire CSL International to survey 10,000 fans across the Bay Area to help determine other concepts to test at the coliseum. Last season, the A's were second to last in home attendance, drawing 18,446 a game. The stadium, which the A's share with the NFL's Oakland Raiders, seats about 47,000 for baseball.

The A's, under the direction of President Dave Kaval, are looking at developing more social and general admission spaces at the coliseum, as well as suite-like hospitality for small groups and family-friendly areas with views of the field, team officials said. Giles mentioned the possibility of creating a premium seat product for 20 games attached to general admission for the balance of the season.

"Overall, fans are looking to have multiple experiences in the ballpark that are different each time," Giles said. "It's no more about sitting in a single seat for every game. We have hopefully five more years in the coliseum before we move to a new building, and … we can be learning new things."

The Treehouse is baseball's latest attempt to meet the needs of younger fans not as interested in the game as they are in having social experience with friends. Elsewhere, the Colorado Rockies, Cincinnati Reds, Cleveland Indians, Baltimore Orioles and Seattle Mariners have redeveloped outfield spaces into standing room areas, and the St. Louis Cardinals are doing the same thing this season at Busch Stadium. Most of these social spaces are tied to areas that sit empty and are among the last tickets to sell at the ballpark.


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HOT TICKETS FOR MARCH 14, 2018
 
Posted: 13 Mar 2018, 5:00 pm

Queen & Adam Lambert's Australian tour is a powerhouse, with a stop at Qudos Bank Arena,  Sydney, topping the 15,000+ capacity Hot Tickets chart this week. (Photo by Don Arnold/WireImage)

Idol star Adam Lambert's subbing for Freddie Mercury as the frontman for rock legend Queen continues to pull in the punters on the Australian leg of their tour, promoted by TEG Dainty. A two-show stop at Qudos Bank Arena, Sydney, grossed $3,434,491, with 24,791 attending. Ticket range was $131.96 to $1,407.68,  Feb. 21-22.

Latin star Luis Miguel touched down at Auditorio Nacional, Mexico City, for a five-night run Feb. 21-28. The shows grossed $4,218,252; attendance 48,100; ticket range $15.59-$26.82. The promotor was OCESA-CIE.

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 Feb. 13-Mar. 13.

15,001 or More Attendance

10,001-15,000 Attendance

5,001-10,000 Attendance

5,000 or Fewer Attendance

1) Queen + Adam Lambert
Gross Sales:
$3,434,491; Venue: Qudos Bank Arena, Sydney; Attendance: 24,791; Ticket Range: $1,407.68-$131.96; Promoter: TEG Dainty; Dates: Feb. 21-22; No. of Shows: 2

2) Kendrick Lamar
Gross Sales: $3,018,963; Venue: AccorHotels Arena, Paris; Attendance: 30,970; Ticket Range: $92.98-$48.35; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Feb. 25-26; No. of Shows: 2

3) Blake Shelton
Gross Sales: $1,096,380; Venue: Greensboro Coliseum, Greensboro, N.C.; Attendance: 15,436; Ticket Range: $125-$25; Promoter: AEG Presents, Concerts West, Goldenvoice, Messina Touring Group; Dates: Mar. 10; No. of Shows: 1

4) Imagine Dragons
Gross Sales: $770,042; Venue: Manchester Arena, Manchester, England; Attendance: 14,620; Ticket Range: $59.39-$48.91; Promoter: SJM; Dates: Mar. 3; No. of Shows: 1

5) Gloria Trevi, Alejandra Guzman
Gross Sales: $751,628; Venue: Arena Ciudad De Mexico, Mexico City; Attendance: 22,000; Ticket Range: $26.92-$16.15; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Dec. 2; No. of Shows: 1

1) Roger Waters
Gross Sales: $1,578,377; Venue: Perth (Australia) Arena; Attendance: 12,624; Ticket Range: $242.06-$82.10; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Feb. 20; No. of Shows: 1

2) Luke Bryan
Gross Sales: $1,091,803; Venue: Atlantic City Boardwalk Hall, Atlantic City, N.J.; Attendance: 12,620; Ticket Range: $92-$25.75; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Feb. 23; No. of Shows: 1

3) Lana Del Rey
Gross Sales: $926,668; Venue: Valley View Casino Center, San Diego; Attendance: 10,479; Ticket Range: $125-$39.50; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Feb. 15; No. of Shows: 1

4) Peter Maffay
Gross Sales: $841,713; Venue: Konig - Pilsener Arena, Oberhausen, Germany; Attendance: 9,979; Ticket Range: $100.36-$47.08; Promoter: Dirk Becker Entertainment ; Dates: Mar. 2; No. of Shows: 1

5) Blake Shelton
Gross Sales: $800,620; Venue: CenturyLink Center, Bossier City, La.; Attendance: 10,289; Ticket Range: $125-$46; Promoter: AEG Presents, Concerts West, Goldenvoice, Messina Touring Group; Dates: Mar. 6; No. of Shows: 1

1) Luis Miguel
Gross Sales: $4,218,252; Venue: Auditorio Nacional, Mexico City; Attendance: 48,100; Ticket Range: $26.82-$15.59; Promoter: OCESA-CIE; Dates: Feb. 21-28; No. of Shows: 5

2) Bruno Mars
Gross Sales: $3,268,489; Venue: Park Theater At Monte Carlo Resort & Casino, Las Vegas; Attendance: 15,450; Ticket Range: $550-$99.50; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Feb. 14-17; No. of Shows: 3

3) Patti LaBelle
Gross Sales: $516,115; Venue: Smart Financial Centre At Sugar Land, Sugar Land, Texas; Attendance: 6,203; Ticket Range: $150-$39.50; Promoter: G Squared Events; Dates: Mar. 3; No. of Shows: 1

4) Bad Bunny
Gross Sales: $505,439; Venue: State Farm Arena, Hidalgo, Texas; Attendance: 5,381; Ticket Range: $139-$39; Promoter: Cardenas Marketing Network (CMN); Dates: Mar. 3; No. of Shows: 1

5) Kygo
Gross Sales: $462,485; Venue: 3Arena, Dublin; Attendance: 8,204; Ticket Range: $63.33; Promoter: MCD Productions; Dates: Feb. 22; No. of Shows: 1

1) Wicked
Gross Sales: $1,934,794; Venue: Broward Ctr. Au-Rene Theater, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; Attendance: 19,555; Ticket Range: $104.25-$44.25; Promoter: In-house Promotion, Broadway Across America; Dates: Feb. 14-18; No. of Shows: 8

2) School Of Rock - The Musical
Gross Sales: $1,091,198; Venue: Bass Concert Hall, Austin, Texas; Attendance: 16,125; Ticket Range: $78-$50; Promoter: Broadway Across America; Dates: Feb. 28-Mar. 4; No. of Shows: 8

3) An American In Paris
Gross Sales: $904,185; Venue: Overture Hall, Madison, Wis.; Attendance: 11,560; Ticket Range: $95-$35; Promoter: In-house; Dates: Dec. 5-10; No. of Shows: 8

4) Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater
Gross Sales: $785,689; Venue: Fox Theatre, Atlanta; Attendance: 20,572; Ticket Range: $85.50-$21.50; Promoter: In-house; Dates: Feb. 14-18; No. of Shows: 7

5) Tedeschi Trucks Band
Gross Sales: $588,447; Venue: Ryman Auditorium, Nashville; Attendance: 9,040; Ticket Range: $89.50-$39.50; Promoter: Emporium Presents - Seattle, NS2; Dates: Feb. 23-Mar. 3; No. of Shows: 4

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

 


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Phillies' Lunch Program Goes Digital
 
Posted: 28 Feb 2018, 7:00 pm

Debbi Blackburn, Givex VP of business development, and her coworker J.C. Hoopes display the miniature Nike shoebox gift card holder, at their booth at Pacnet 2018. (VN Photo)
 

The Philadelphia Phillies are about to kick off a new program that allows employees to use their ID card to purchase lunch at Citizens Bank Ballpark, Philadelphia.

Christopher Pohl, director of ticket technology and development for the Major League Baseball team, said the new program was in response to the number of “kids” among the Phillies staff who do not want to carry cash. That fits well with Pohl’s belief that mobile is the future for all transactions, but “we’re not there yet.”

“We’ve always had one of the best $5 lunches in the world here at the Phillies,” Pohl said. “It benefits the Phillies because employees stay here instead of having to go miles down the road to grab a sandwich, which they still have the option to do.”

But why would they when the Phillies organization turns its press club into a daily lunchroom at the ballpark for employees and guests, offering hot and cold deli plates at a great value.

Pohl worked with gift card supplier Givex to move away from cash and offer employees the option to load money on their security cards instead. “Everyone gets a Prox (Proximity Security) card to come into our building that unlocks the doors. I knew what I could do with a bar code. Why couldn’t I buy some card numbers from Debbi (Blackburn, Givex)?”

When they came up with the new Prox card for employees, they assigned a number on the back of each card via QR codes purchased from Givex. Employees will also have the option of seeing their gift card number as a QR code on their mobile device, along with a real-time card balance, in addition to being able to reload their cards right from their mobile device or through the Phillies portal.

Blackburn, who is Uptix VP of business development for Givex, explained that “we can put that 21-digit number on anything. It’s like a Visa card, where the first six numbers are a Visa number, in the middle is a certificate number, then there are stray digits on the end, so you cannot duplicate it, but it’s an endless number.”

She was most impressed when the Phillies built a site for employees so they could put money on their gift cards.

Givex had been doing gift cards for Marriott, Wendy’s and Nike, among others, and started in the sports and entertainment space to expand eight years ago. Pohl has been on board with the program for five years, when the Phillies switched to Tickets.com, and has expanded it each year.

PhilliesGiftCard300.pngHe particularly appreciates that the Phillies have control of the money, they are the fulfillment house, and the cost is mostly just buying the numbers. There are no percentages to pay. Added to that is the wealth of data available through this automated system, which has taken over many roles administered manually in the past.

The gift card numbers are also being used for employees and guests at spring training at Spectrum Field, Clearwater, Fla.

Spring training kicked off this week. Per tradition, the Phillies take high rollers and sponsors to Clearwater over two weekends early in spring training as a perk. This year, the Phillies are giving them each a gift card for food and beverage and another for merchandise. “We’re giving it away, so we like to have some rules around it, and there are some tax issues down there,” Pohl said of the two separate cards.

At Citizens Bank Park, the gift cards, which the customer purchases, are good for the trifecta – tickets, food and beverage or merchandise.

“Every year we’ve enhanced the way we do things. Now we’re doing some pretty cool things within the Givex functionality,” Pohl said.

For instance, they realized they really don’t need that hard plastic, even though there is a market around holidays in particular. So they came up with creative packages, including opening day, when a two-ticket package includes a $25 gift card or four tickets with a $50 gift card. They know those buyers will be using that money at the park on opening day.

Last year with Major League Baseball Advanced Media worked with the Phillies to reward season ticketholders who took their tickets digitally with a $25 gift card, which was a QR code on the digital ticket. “When they log on to the Ballpark App, they see their tickets displayed and see a digital MVP card, a Givex gift card, which they can take to any concession stand or retail, and use that value as they see fit,” Pohl said.

They also use the gift card concept in conjunction with Aramark, the concessionaire at Citizens Bank Ballpark, for Aramark’s employee meal program during games. Those gift card numbers are tied to the employee number Aramark assigns. “They give me their employee numbers, and when employees check in for the game they have a Givex gift card number assigned to that employee number.” It replaces the old voucher system and gives employers and employees more control and freedom.

“Every year, it’s better and better, kind of what we do here at the Phillies,” Pohl said. On his wish list – mobile gift card numbers. Pohl is an admirer of Dunkin’ Donuts app, which allows reward points digitally for frequent and types of purchases. You can order from your smartphone in the parking lot and go in to pick up your order and get extra points for that behavior, for instance. “They have engaged me,” Pohl said. That’s what he wants – engaged Phillies fans.

Givex first engaged sports and entertainment through stored value on tickets via Uptix, a division of Givex. Matching employee numbers to gift card numbers is among the newest iterations of the gift card program, the core business of Givex.

Currently it is all barcodes or mag stripes, but it could also be RFID or chips, Blackburn noted.

Another iteration that has not yet impacted sports and entertainment is packaging, Blackburn noted. Nike, for instance, has Givex produce a miniature shoebox to hold its gift cards, complete with monetary value on the side where shoe size would traditionally be.

While it’s usually a sleeve, presentation is important if the gift card is bought online and shipped, a subtlety that retail has embraced.


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Old Theater Gets A New Life
 
Posted: 28 Feb 2018, 4:00 pm

The Clyde Theatre, a restored movie theater in Fort Wayne, Ind., is scheduled to open as a GA concert venue in May. (Courtesy Clyde Theatre)

As main streets around the nation look to boost their bottom lines with refurbished venues and attractions, Fort Wayne, Ind., has thrown its hat into the ring with a world-class general-admission theater that has drawn some high-profile bookings months before the first ticket has been scanned.

The Clyde Theatre, a 1951 movie palace that had fallen on hard times, is slated to open its doors in May, and General Manager Rick Kinney could not be more excited to show the world what he thinks will be the town's new crown jewel.

"This was an 1,800-seat art deco theater that closed in 1993 and had been vacant ever since," Kinney said of the building, which was a gem in its day but had grown into a decrepit nesting spot for pigeons, with nothing but broken windows to show the outside world. Kinney, who was born in Los Angeles and moved to Fort Wayne at age 5 — where he went on to become a touring drummer, audio engineer, promoter and expert rigger — knew his town was missing a high-quality, SRO GA venue, so in 2010 he started looking for one.

In 2012 he found the vacant Clyde and did everything he could to get his hands on it, finally buying it at a tax sale for $500 that year. "Unbelievably it was structurally in great shape, but the inside had been gutted by previous owners who had torn out the historical features and never finished [the rehab]," he said, noting that the well-preserved roof had shielded the interior from weather damage. "I set out on a capital campaign and had to put together architectural blueprints to transform a vacant movie theater into a world-class GA music hall."

Kinney stopped traveling, took a job at the city's Embassy Theatre as a technical director to pay the bills and found a pair of guardian angels in Chuck and Lisa Surack, local philanthropists and owners of Fort Wayne-based Sweetwater, a leading online retailer of professional audio equipment. He says the couple made a "very generous" contribution to the refurbishment of the building, which, along with financial support from the city and state, helped him realize his dream.

"Rick is a bright young guy with a lot of passion, and he's just trying to make Fort Wayne better," Chuck Surack said. "The theater is a great old facility … and we saw an opportunity to turn it into something unique." Before all is said and done, Surack said, the initial $1.5 million investment he and his wife put down, along with a loan and some money from the city and state, will grow to an investment that is nearly twice what they anticipated.

What was planned as a $5 million rehab will be closer to $8 million by the time the doors open, with nearly half of that coming from the Suracks. "It will be a beautiful thing for the south-side area of town that people would like to see developed, and we're taking a lead position in bringing in other compatible properties." Surack said he and his wife have bought up three other properties in the same shopping center in an attempt to make the area a destination, with plans to fill the spaces with restaurants, coffee shops and other entertainment properties.

But first, there was a lot of dirty work to be done to get the Clyde up to snuff. Kinney had to rip out and replace all the electrical, plumbing and HVAC systems. He also installed more than $200,000 in acoustical plaster and treatments to make the room ready for concerts and added a 7,000-square-foot dressing room and artist hospitality wing to the back of the stage as well as a large production load in and load out area with two stage-level truck docks. "We brought it up to something that Fort Wayne, and probably the region, had never seen before," he said. "It is like an arena load in and load out, but for a 2,200 [capacity] GA concert hall."

After his years of traveling around and countless load ins and outs, Kinney knew what top-notch backstage areas looked like, and he helped design something that would be state-of-the-art not just for a venue of its size but, he promised, for any venue. The main performance hall has more than 21,000 square feet of floor space and will host concerts and be available for rent for community gatherings and special events on non-show days.

In addition to a brand new JBL A12 sound system, he also installed 9 cabs per side flown on the stage and what he called an "amazing rigging and lighting truss" that can handle the lighting and sound needs of national acts. The proof is in the bookings so far for the venue - which opens in early May - which include such headliners as Stone Sour, Fitz & the Tantrums, Chase Rice, and George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic.

"Usually these things get designed by an architect who doesn't have the hands-on experience [I have], and Sweetwater has put millions of dollars into buildings here in Fort Wayne - they have a huge campus here - so they had expertise as well," Kinney said. The Clyde will fill what he described as an obvious hole in the city's venue portfolio, fitting in between the historic 2,477-capacity seated Embassy Theatre, the 2,700-capacity outdoor seated Foellinger Theatre and the 13,000-capacity Allen County War Memorial Coliseum, as well as a handful of small rock clubs. What was missing, he said, was something in between that was not a seated theater or an arena.

The Clyde - located in Quimby Village on the southwest side of town - will be able to do 2,200 standing GA or 800 seated for more intimate shows. Booking is being done in-house in conjunction with Scott Hammontree, general manager and talent buyer for The Intersection in Grand Rapids, Mich.

"I think we got some of those [initial big] bookings because we're so focused on production and artist hospitality and making sure logistically this venue is as accessible as a small arena as far as production goes," Kinney said. The response so far, he said, has been great, with "hundreds" of emails and calls since the press release announcing the venue was released earlier this week.


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Levi's Stadium Brings In Levy
 
Posted: 28 Feb 2018, 4:00 pm

Levi's Stadium, Santa Clara, Calif., has contracted Levy to run all concessions.

The San Francisco 49ers have signed Levy to run all aspects of food service at Levi’s Stadium. Chicago-based Levy signed a 12-year agreement and takes over the building on April 15, according to 49ers President Al Guido.

Levy replaces Centerplate, which had been the 49ers’ concessionaire dating to Candlestick Park. At Levi’s Stadium, Centerplate operated general concessions and premium dining since the Santa Clara facility opened in August 2014.

The switch in food vendors comes after the 49ers issued a proposal in 2017, more than a year before Centerplate’s deal was set to expire, sources said. The expiration date was April 2019, reported by the Silicon Valley Business Journal.

“Centerplate did a nice job for us the first four years,” Guido said. “It was unfortunate in the last year [that] the company was going through a transition and was up for sale. We just felt like it was time for us to have a long-term provider.”

The 49ers selected Levy because team officials felt the company is the best in the business, he said. In addition, Levy runs the food at Oracle Arena in Oakland and last year, it was awarded the contract at Chase Center, the Golden State Warriors’ new arena opening in 2019.

Plus, Bon Appetit, Levy’s sister company under the Compass Group umbrella, has taken over the concessions at AT&T Park, where it already fed premium patrons. Bon Appetit is also Levy’s partner at Chase Center.

“We really like the economies of scale on the service and staff side,” Guido said. “You’re employing roughly 1,000 to 1,500 workers on game day, for 10 days a year, so we felt like Levy, with their Bay Area footprint, provided us a little more certainty around staffing measures.”

At Levi’s Stadium, fan satisfaction scores were poor for Centerplate with regard to the game day experience, and that’s another reason why the team went searching for a new concessionaire, Guido said.

It wasn’t all Centerplate’s fault though. Some design issues tied to concession stands posed operational challenges, and that’s one issue Levy will address for the coming season, Guido said.

“There are a number of things that we can add to the mix as collective partners to increase points of sale and operational efficiencies,” he said. “For whatever reason, we didn’t get to those with Centerplate over the first couple years, and we’re learning. Fan experience has changed every year dramatically. This partnership gives us the ability to take a fresh look at how we operate, what the stands are and what they look like and how many portables are in the building.”

Levy responded to the RFP with an aggressive offer to invest capital for upgrading the food operation, Guido said. The Business Journal reported Levy plans to spend $10 million in improvements over the first six years of its contract and will set aside $1 million annually in an innovations fund.

“That’s a big piece of why we selected them as well, the financial stability of the company … not only do they run large scale operations but small-scale restaurants,” he said.

Whether the 49ers adopt value menu pricing similar to what the Atlanta Falcons have done is up in the air, Guido said. Levy runs the food at Mercedes-Benz Stadium where fans can buy $2 hot dogs, sodas and popcorn and $5 beers. The Falcons pay Levy a management fee and the team funds the cost of food and drink supplies. Guido would not disclose Levy’s financial model at Levi’s Stadium.

“We’re talking to Levy right now about menu offerings, local [brands] and suppliers,” he said. “The important part for us is to add a bunch of sales to our operation. It’s been known at halftime that our stands at Levi’s get hit pretty hard. Nothing’s out of the question. We’re taking a look at everything across the board.”

For Levy, 49ers marks its seventh NFL account. In addition to the Falcons, the vendor deals with the Kansas City Chiefs, Detroit Lions, Washington Redskins, Tennessee Titans and Los Angeles Chargers, a temporary tenant at StubHub Center in suburban Los Angeles.

 

 

 


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Live Nation Posts Record Revenue For '17
 
Posted: 28 Feb 2018, 2:15 pm

Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino was one of the people who spoke on the conference call, Feb. 28, about the compnay's stellar earnings. (Photo by Waterproof Pictures)

Live Nation Entertainment had another record-setting year in 2017 as total revenue rose 24 percent to $10.3 billion, a $2 billion gain from the prior year, the company announced Tuesday.

Concerts were worth $7.9 billion in 2017, up 26 percent, while concert attendance-from 30,000 shows in 40 countries-grew 21 percent to 86 million.

Revenue from Live Nation's 97 festivals rose 14 percent. Its festival portfolio includes the eclectic Lollapalooza, electronic dance music giant Electric Daisy Carnival, and the long-established Reading and Leeds festivals.

Concerts gained an incremental $210 million from acquisitions made in 2017, among them United Concerts in Utah, Cuffe & Taylor in the U.K., and the BottleRock Napa Valley festival in the wine region north of San Francisco.

Speaking about amphitheater shows, President Joe Berchtold said during Tuesday's earnings call that the company expects an increase in business in 2018.

"If anything, the trend in [amphitheaters] over the last five years has been on the upswing" and Live Nation will look to expand its amphitheater presence through buying and building. "They're an incredible piece of business," he said.

Amphitheater growth has the additional benefit of Live Nation's attention to consumer spending at the venues. A focus on high-end products and increased points of sale - creating a better ability to move the lines - resulted in 9 percent growth in per-head spending.

Concerts don't - and aren't expected - to generate a profit, and in 2017, concerts had an operating loss deepen to $94 million from $63 million.  Instead, the Live Nation business model relies greatly on the high margins of its sponsorship and advertising division. Sponsorship revenue grew 18 percent to $445 million. Although its operating income dropped to $252 million from $365 million in 2016, sponsorships were a vital contributor to the company's bottom line.

Sponsorship revenue sources include venue naming rights, on-site signage and exclusive partnerships that now include Citi for credit cards and PepsiCo for beverages. Acquisitions made in 2017 added $21 million to the division's revenue.

Ticketing operating income declined 53 percent to $91 million, although this deserves a caveat. Ticketing division Ticketmaster's $110 million settlement in a lawsuit with Songkick hit the books in the fourth quarter of 2017. Without that expense, ticketing operating income would have been $191 million, an improvement from $174 million in 2016.

That settlement was blamed for driving down operating income for the fourth quarter, which dropped to a $202 million loss, down from a $37.2 million loss in fourth quarter 2016.

With its 2017 revenue gains, Live Nation has grown to gigantic proportions. At $10.3 billion, Live Nation had almost twice the annual revenue of the largest music company, Universal Music Group, whose 2017 revenue was $6.9 billion.

The concert division alone, at $7.9 billion, surpasses any music company.


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Yelverton new N.C. State Fair GM
 
Posted: 28 Feb 2018, 2:00 pm

Kent_200x1451.jpgKent Yelverton.

Kent Yelverton has been named manager of the North Carolina State Fair in Raleigh. Yelverton replaces Wesley Wyatt, who retired after 38 years of state service.

Yelverton has been with the state Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services for 26 years. He began his career in 1992 as a consulting engineer, before successive promotions to facility agricultural engineer, engineering director and director of the property and construction division.

Yelverton received a bachelor of science degree in civil engineering from North Carolina State University.

 


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Mixed-Use Venue Sets Grand Opening
 
Posted: 28 Feb 2018, 1:00 pm

The $200-million Toyota Music Factory features two concert venues and 25 restaurants. (Courtesy Toyota Music Factory)

The Toyota Music Factory in Irving, Texas, has been opening in phases since September, and it's now ramping up for its grand opening April 13, featuring Brad Paisley.

Situated between Dallas and Fort Worth, the 250,000-square-foot mixed-use entertainment center will boast 25 restaurants, a 100,000-square-foot glass office tower and a 50,000-square-foot common area with a full production stage.

Paisley will play at one of two concert venues on site called The Pavilion, an indoor/outdoor venue managed by Live Nation. It opened in September with a show featuring ZZ Top.

The Pavilion's indoor configuration can house 2,500 guests for a theater setting and go up to 4,000 seats for arena shows. It can accommodate 8,000 guests as an indoor/outdoor open-air pavilion.

The grand opening will take place in the common area called the Texas Lottery Plaza, which is next to The Pavilion. It also has a full production stage for live entertainment.

Included in the grand opening is the unveiling of a new eight-screen Alamo Drafthouse movie theater and several restaurants that have not yet opened. Ten restaurants have opened since last fall, 13 more will open by April 13, and two will open in May.

"The critical mass you get there with 20-plus restaurants and a Live Nation venue, we're very excited," said Bill DiGaetano, owner and chief operating officer of Alamo Drafthouse Cinema.

The music factory was built on 16 acres in an upscale business district called Las Colinas that's surrounded by a suburban area.

"It's nice to have a place that we can go and spend the entire evening and do 10 different things," said Allen Meagher, mayor pro tem of Irving. "I'm a lifetime resident of Irving and to go to a nice restaurant is great. We didn't really have that choice or selection before. Our residents can now stay in Irving rather than driving to Dallas or Grapevine for food and entertainment."

The entire project cost $200 million and was developed by the North Carolina-based Ark Group. 

"The grand opening is a showcase of everything being opened and the synergy of everything operating as a whole," said Noah Lazes, co-founder, president and chief operating officer of the Ark Group

The Toyota Music Factory was financed through a public-private partnership between the city of Irving and the Ark Group, which includes a lodging tax that was passed by 67 percent of the voters. The Ark Group secured support from private investors, and the city used a tax increment financing district to fund the project.

The city owns the land and all the buildings. The Ark Group paid for construction and is also the landlord for all the tenants.

The development was called the Irving Music Festival before Toyota snatched the naming rights late last year.

"It's a huge honor to have Toyota," Lazes said. "The naming-rights deal was something that was planned. It's not dumb luck that we landed Toyota. This is not by accident. This is from proper planning to find sponsors."

Irving has been waiting for this development to get off the ground for the last decade, going through developers before it found the Ark Group. The company developed the multivenue entertainment complex called AvidXchange Music Factory in Charlotte, N.C., one of 13 entertainment developments across the nation produced by Ark.

"The most important thing in my book is the weekday business," Lazes said.

His goal is to attract business people for lunch and happy hour, in the hope that they'll stick around for the live entertainment that will take place seven days a week, whether it be at The Pavilion with big-name artists like Paisley or at the plaza with local artists.

It's all about location, Lazes noted, as Irving has seen a lot of development in the last 10 years.

In 2011, the Irving Convention Center opened less than half a mile from the Toyota Music Factory site, bringing a total of 275,000 square feet of meeting and convention space to a highly populated business where big companies like Kimberly-Clark and Exxon Mobil have their headquarters. SMG manages the convention center.

A 350-room Westin hotel is being built next to the convention center and is slated to open in early 2019.


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HOT TICKETS FOR FEBRUARY 28, 2018
 
Posted: 27 Feb 2018, 10:00 pm

“LA to the Moon” is Lana Del Rey’s first tour since 2014. (Photo Credit: Darin Kamnetz)

Lana Del Rey’s first tour since 2014, supporting her 2017 "Lust for Life" CD, continues to be a Hot Ticket chart topper. The sultry songstress’ Live Nation-produced stop last week at Mandalay Bay Events Center, Las Vegas, Feb. 16, grossed $794,687, with 8,880 attending. Ticket range was $39.50-$125.

Broadway smash “Wicked” continued its high-flying tour at Broward Center Au-Rene Theater, Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., with shows Feb. 14-25. The dueling witches generated gross sales of $3,832,536 with a ticket range of $44.25-$104.25.

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 Jan. 30-Feb. 27.

15,001 or More Attendance

10,001-15,000 Attendance

5,001-10,000 Attendance

5,000 or Fewer Attendance

1) Wicked
Gross Sales: $3,832,536; Venue: Broward Center Au-Rene Theater, Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.; Attendance: 38,088; Ticket Range: $104.25-$44.25; Promoter: In-house; Dates: Feb. 14-25; No. of Shows: 16

2) Metallica
Gross Sales: $3,686,602; Venue: WiZink Center, Madrid; Attendance: 33,894; Ticket Range: $97.27; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Feb. 3-5; No. of Shows: 2

3) Billy Joel
Gross Sales: $2,271,968; Venue: Amalie Arena, Tampa, Fla.; Attendance: 18,462; Ticket Range: $149.50-$449.50; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Feb. 9; No. of Shows: 1

4) Roger Waters
Gross Sales: $2,086,028; Venue: Qudos Bank Arena, Sydney; Attendance: 13,197; Ticket Range: $224.43-$60.70; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Feb. 2-3; No. of Shows: 2

5) Rent
Gross Sales: $1,268,337; Venue: The Smith Center, Las Vegas; Attendance: 16,008; Ticket Range: $123-$32; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Jan. 30- Feb. 4; No. of Shows: 8

1) For The Love of Mrs. Brown
Gross Sales: $1,252,059; Venue: Perth (Australia) Arena; Attendance: 14,196; Ticket Range: $155.05-$69.34; Promoter: In-house, Live Nation; Dates: Feb. 15-17; No. of Shows: 4

2) Blake Shelton
Gross Sales: $1,071,815; Venue: Scottrade Center, St. Louis; Attendance: 13,473; Ticket Range: $125-$556; Promoter: AEG Presents, Concerts West, Goldenvoice, Messina Touring Group; Dates: Feb. 24; No. of Shows: 1

3) Roger Waters
Gross Sales: $1,578,377; Venue: Perth (Australia) Arena; Attendance: 12,624; Ticket Range: $240.17-$81.46; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Feb. 20; No. of Shows: 1

4) Dropkick Murphys
Gross Sales: $610,163; Venue: AFAS Live, Amsterdam, Netherlands; Attendance: 11,972; Ticket Range: $50.14; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Feb. 10-18; No. of Shows: 2

5) Fuerza Bruta
Gross Sales: $423,500; Venue: Citibank Hall, Sao Paulo; Attendance: 9,046; Ticket Range: $55.36-$7.69; Promoter: T4F-Time For Fun; Dates: Feb. 1-25; No. of Shows: 27

1) Lana Del Rey
Gross Sales: $794,687; Venue: Mandalay Bay Events Center, Las Vegas; Attendance: 8,880; Ticket Range: $125-$39.5; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Feb. 16; No. of Shows: 1

2) Jennifer Lopez
Gross Sales: $1,689,417; Venue: The Axis At Planet Hollywood, Las Vegas; Attendance: 8,574; Ticket Range: $412 - $54; Promoter: Caesars Entertainment Inc, Live Nation; Dates: Feb. 21-23; No. of Shows: 2

3) A-Ha
Gross Sales: $599,085; Venue: Olympic Hall, Munich, Germany; Attendance: 7,094; Ticket Range: $91.71-$42.80; Promoter: Peter Rieger Konzertagentur & Co. KG; Dates: Feb. 3; No. of Shows: 1

4) A-Ha
Gross Sales: $590,079; Venue: Lanxess Arena, Cologne, Germany; Attendance: 7,091; Ticket Range: $91.71-$48.91; Promoter: Dirk Becker Entertainment, Peter Rieger Konzertagentur & Co. KG; Dates: Feb. 6; No. of Shows: 1

5) Los Temerarios
Gross Sales: $576,542; Venue: Forum, Inglewood, Calif.; Attendance: 6,993; Ticket Range: $155-$55; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Feb. 11; No. of Shows: 1

1) Jerry Seinfeld
Gross Sales: $409,770; Venue: Overture Hall, Madison, Wis.; Attendance: 4,473; Ticket Range: $175-$68.50; Promoter: JS Touring; Dates: Feb. 2; No. of Shows: 2

2) Jersey Boys
Gross Sales: $311,231; Venue: Gallagher Bluedorn Performing Arts Center, Cedar Falls, Iowa; Attendance: 4,277; Ticket Range: $105-$39; Promoter: In-house; Dates: Feb. 23-24; No. of Shows: 3

3) Rascal Flatts
Gross Sales: $342,660; Venue: WinStar Global Event Center, Thackerville, Okla.; Attendance: 3,449; Ticket Range: $500-$75; Promoter: In-house; Dates: Feb. 16; No. of Shows: 1

4) Diana Krall
Gross Sales: $329,960; Venue: Schermerhorn Symphony Center, Nashville, Tenn.; Attendance: 3,395; Ticket Range: $149-$59; Promoter: In-house; Dates: Feb. 13-14; No. of Shows: 2

5) Phil Lesh
Gross Sales: $225,110; Venue: McMenamins Crystal Ballroom, Portland, Ore.; Attendance: 3,000; Ticket Range: $80-$75; Promoter: McMenamins Presents; Dates: Feb. 2-3; No. of Shows: 2

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

 


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Passing The Snack Test
 
Posted: 27 Feb 2018, 9:00 pm

Fans at TD Garden have enjoyed a variety of new tastes at the Frito-Lay Test Kitchen, though Cheetos Popcorn, center, remains the favorite. (Courtesy Delaware North Sportservice)

From the moment the Frito-Lay Test Kitchen opened on the main concourse of Boston's TD Garden, the Cheetos Popcorn — popcorn combined with Cheetos, tossed in a Cheetos-flavored coating — hasn't left the menu.

Over the last roughly 18 months, though, that hasn't been the case with every item there.

The stand launched in fall 2016 because TD Garden concessionaire Delaware North Sportservice considered the concept of a test kitchen featuring a frequently changing menu as an opportunity to continue offering fans something new over the course of the season, said Tim Townsell, Delaware North Sportservice general manager. (Delaware North also owns and operates the arena.)

During sponsorship conversations, Texas-based Frito-Lay expressed interest in partnering its research and development and culinary teams with Sportservice for "ideas and recipes, a perfect marriage of a test kitchen and Frito-Lay."

Since opening, the stand has routinely performed as one of the top specialty stands in the 16,000-seat venue, home to the NBA's Celtics and NHL's Bruins.

"It has evolved," Townsell said. "It gets better and better every month as our relationship with Frito-Lay grows, our dialogue grows. There is more and more experimentation with menu items. It has become a more exciting concept."

The benefits of the stand, considered the only sponsored test kitchen in a major American venue, run multiple ways, Townsell said. "Fans know when they come to a game or concert they can come to the Frito-Lay Test Kitchen and see what's new and different," he said. "When put in the shoes of fans coming six, eight or 40 times a year, it is important from the business and experience perspective for them to come and get something different and not the same old."

Jeremy Karr, Sportservice sous chef, keeps about five items on the menu at any one time, concepts that come from both the Frito-Lay team and TD Garden chefs. Frito-Lay uses the opportunity for corporate chefs to try out recipes using Frito-Lay branded product and then send them to Boston. "Some I use right out and some I kind of tweak a little bit to make concessions-ready," Karr said. "I see what works out, I try different items and go from there."

The collaborative process also includes Sportservice creating recipes. "The testing process is one of the better parts of our job," Townsell joked.

"There are quite a number of folks on our team tasting things for this location specifically, providing feedback. Not everything makes it to the stand."

With a constant rotation of proposals and ideas and no set goal of how many items hit the stand in a given season, the organic approach simply calls for getting an approved concept into the stand as quickly as possible. "We are not changing menu items for the sake of changing," Townsell said. "We want to be industry-leading. We want only the best."

The Cheetos Popcorn has proved the most popular item since the stand opened. Karr joked that he doesn't want to imagine the backlash if he had removed it when Frito-Lay teamed with Regal Cinema in December to roll the product out in participating movie theaters.

This season, though, the new Cheetos Chicken and Waffle, fried chicken sandwiched between two house-made jalapeno Cheetos-flavored waffles and served with a side of Cheetos Popcorn, has developed a steady following.

Other popular items include walking tacos with Doritos or Tostitos and macaroni and cheese topped with the fan's choice of Frito-Lay products, from Flamin' Hot Cheetos to Jalapeno Cheddar Lay's.

Karr routinely introduces a rotation of topped hot dogs to the stand, some that "have gone over well and some of them have not." He has kept that rotation up, too, using variations on Frito-Lay flavors and recipes developed specifically for the stand.

Karr has two new recipes hitting the stand soon, one a cheese fry with jalapeno Cheetos cheese sauce and another new topped hot dog with Korean barbecue beef, Sriracha mayo and Flamin' Hot Fritos.

Does experimentation sell, especially when surrounded by traditional fan food. The stand "is not a dog for us," Townsell said. "It does very well, and that is a good thing. Among specialty stands from month to month it is always one of the highest performing."

The team has earned both business and culinary feedback through the test kitchen concept-Frito-Lay R&D remains impressed with fans' gravitation toward Cheetos-flavored recipes-and plans to find ways to incorporate that knowledge into what's next. TD Garden plans to expand its concessions with more pop-up concepts that borrow from the test-kitchen style.

Mike Stern, director of culinary innovation and sales at Frito-Lay, said the test kitchen brings the brand to life in an experiential way, encouraging consumers to try food items they may not otherwise have thought about. "Our partnership with Delaware North and TD Garden allowed for the creation and execution of unique food," he said, "showcasing our brands outside of the bag or bottle in a fun environment."

Karr believes that by pairing with a recognizable national brand, the Frito-Lay Test Kitchen is a sure bet to attract fans. But credit Cheetos for keeping them coming back.


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Dynamo Finish Food Upgrades
 
Posted: 27 Feb 2018, 2:00 pm

A rendering shows new concessions offerings at BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston. (Courtesy Levy)

Major League Soccer's Houston Dynamo and its concessionaire, Levy, have completed a revamp of concessions at BBVA Compass Stadium, focusing more on Latin flavors, beer gardens and barbecue.

The $1 million in food upgrades, a cost shared by the team and the vendor, completes a two-phase project that began opening last season at the facility, also home to the Houston Dash of the National Women's Soccer League.

For 2018, the "Taste of EaDo" theme, named for the neighborhood where the stadium sits, extends to the building's north side with multiple concepts Levy developed in-house, said Juan Rodriguez, the Dynamo's executive vice president and general manager.

This season, the eight new concessions in the north end include El Parque, a small beer garden; Diesel's Corner, a kids zone named for the Dynamo mascot, featuring a food hall designed for small children; and Pitch 25, a bar named for the uniform number worn by Brian Ching, an ex-Dynamo standout and former member of the U.S. men's soccer team.  Zamora Taco, Houston Q and Diggity Dawgs Too, a second location for the popular hot dog concept that kicked off last season in the south end, are also among the new stands opening Saturday for the Dynamo's season opener against Atlanta United FC.

BBVA Compass Stadium opened in May 2012, and over the past six years, EaDo, an abbreviation for "east of downtown," has gone through a major redevelopment that has added new restaurants, lofts and apartment buildings, and craft breweries, Rodriguez said.

The Dynamo and Levy adapted that theme to the stadium. Over the past two years, the team, working closely with Levy's E15 analytics division and Curiology design agency, ran fan surveys to get ideas for improving the food operation. In the U.S., Houston has the second-largest Hispanic population behind Los Angeles, and the Dynamo have 10 players from Central America and South America. Fans requested a greater variety of ethnic foods to reflect their tastes and those of the local neighborhood.

The first phase of food upgrades resulted in double-digit increases in per caps across the new spaces, Levy officials said. The Tecate Social, a four-sided outdoor bar, turned into one of the most popular destinations, drawing a heavy concentration of fans to congregate in the south end.

In addition, last year Levy began re-engineering food stands to create faster speed of service, and officials designed a walk-in market-style location where 70 percent to 80 percent of sales are beverages, said Marty Price, the company's regional vice president.

Price, who worked for both Aramark and the Houston Astros before joining Levy, said it's a simple story to tell.

"As an operator, I've been part of BBVA for five years now," he said. "I've learned a lot about MLS and that the selling time is so much shorter, even compared with hockey. We worked real hard to redo the stands and improve speed of service. Before, it took too long to get through the lines. The stands were basic concessions, with more of a small college feel. [The Dynamo initially] spent the money in the premium spaces. Now, we've created a lot more concession spaces to hang out before and after the game."

Apart from concessions, the Pitchside Patio, a new premium group space, makes its debut this season at field level in the stadium's southeast corner. The indoor lounge and private bar, which replaces old general admission seats, sits less than 15 feet from the pitch, Rodriguez said. It's an extension of the Pitchside Bar, a public bar and social hub that opened last year on the south end.


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Live Nation Signs Amphitheater
 
Posted: 27 Feb 2018, 9:00 am

Summer shows on the schedule at BankPlus Amphitheater at Snowden Grove include Kenny Chesney, John Fogerty and ZZ Top, and Jason Mraz.  (Photo by James Wessels)

Live Nation has entered an exclusive three-year agreement to book BankPlus Amphitheater at Snowden Grove in Southaven, Miss., a suburb of Memphis, Tenn.

The 12,500-capacity amphitheater opened in 2006, and in the last few years artists including Chris Stapleton, Florida Georgia Line, Journey and Alt-J have performed at the venue.

"We jumped at the chance to work with BankPlus Amphitheater and the city of Southaven," Live Nation regional president Russell Doussan said in a statement. "Amps are a key part of the touring pipeline, and officially operating this venue enhances our ability to serve artists looking to make stops in Mississippi and the South."

Southaven Mayor Darren Musselwhite added: "Live Nation is the best in the business, and the BankPlus Amphitheater is in great hands under their leadership. With the world's largest touring operation, Live Nation will bring more artists to Southaven than ever before, which will improve the appeal of our city for locals and tourists alike."

Live Nation will maintain its satellite office in Southaven, which is operated by Doussan's regional team in New Orleans.

Kenny Chesney, John Fogerty and ZZ Top, the Tedeschi Trucks Band, and Jason Mraz are already scheduled to play the amphitheater this summer.


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Colston Hall Redevelopment Approved
 
Posted: 26 Feb 2018, 5:00 pm

A rendering shows the main Colston Hall in Bristol, England, after improvements, which are scheduled to be complete in 2020. (Courtesy Bristol Music Trust)

Colston Hall in Bristol, England, has received the City Council's go-ahead for its planned redevelopment.

The City Council owns the building, which has a capacity of 2,000 and is run by the Bristol Music Trust. The hall celebrated its 150th anniversary last fall; after two fires and a major renovation, the current hall is its fourth incarnation. It became an important venue for rock concerts in the 1960s and has played host to the Beatles, the Rolling Stones and David Bowie, among many others.

The council has chosen Willmott Dixon as contractor for the construction work, which will cost 48.8 million pounds ($68 million). The company was also responsible for Colston Hall's foyer space, built in 2009 for 20 million pounds.

No signifiicant work has been done to the rest of the building for 60 years. The plan is to transform the hall into a modern-day concert venue while retaining its Victorian charm. Among other things, the cellar space will be transformed into a new venue, and the two current halls, the main Colston Hall and the Lantern, will be refurbished. The main auditorium will receive a larger stage, new canopy, balconies and seats, a fore-stage lift and new wall finishes, among other things.

The venue operators think the changes will increase the building's capacity by 30 percent and the number of performances by 54 percent, as well as create 50 additional jobs.

The refurbishment, which will launch this summer and is scheduled for completion in 2020, marks Bristol's biggest redevelopment program in the arts sector ever, according to the announcement. Until then, the hall's foyer will be used for live events.

"The hall hasn't been updated since it opened in the 1950s, so it's a long overdue transformational refurbishment that will give Bristol and the Southwest a world-class venue to be proud of as we make our detailed plans a reality," said Louise Mitchell, chief executive of Bristol Music Trust.

Bristol's mayor, Marvin Rees, said he was "really pleased that [Arts Council England] has committed this funding alongside our own investment and that of other city partners. There is no doubt that it will bring long-term benefits to people in a number of ways. First and foremost it will make culture more accessible to everyone, but it will also help more people participate in the arts, improve education facilities for young people and attract more people to the city by providing a world-class music venue fit for the future."

The public has the opportunity to buy naming right to seats in the venue for 20 years, by making a monthly donation of as little as 5 pounds over four years. So far, more than $57 million has been raised. Funding sources besides the City Council and the Arts Council include the UK Treasury, the Heritage Lottery Fund and the West of England Combined Authority, as well as local donors and trusts and foundations.

Clare Jack, the former development director at Bath Festivals recently took on the role as chief operating officer of Bristol Music Trust.


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Dale Koger Leaves Legends
 
Posted: 22 Feb 2018, 3:00 pm

Dale Koger filled the role of owner's representative for teams developing sports venues while he was at Legends.

Sports construction executive Dale Koger has resigned from Legends. The move was effective Feb. 16, Koger said, and he’s searching for a new opportunity in facility development.

Over the past 20 months, Koger spent most of his time managing the Los Angeles Stadium and Entertainment District at Hollywood Park, where the NFL’s Rams are building a $2.6 billion stadium tied to a mixed-use development. The Rams will share the Inglewood stadium with the NFL’s Chargers when it opens in 2020.

“We had a major difference in opinion in management styles,” Koger said, without providing further details. “I’m trying to keep it positive for everyone."

Koger spent the past four years as senior vice president with Legends Project Development, a division of Legends Global Planning. Koger headed the firm’s project management services, effectively filling the role of owner’s representative for teams developing sports venues.

Bill Rhoda, president of Legends Global Planning, confirmed Koger’s departure. It comes about seven months after Legends hired Paula Portz from PC Sports as chief operating officer for Legends Project Development.

“It was a mutual decision to part ways, and we wish Dale nothing but the best,” Rhoda said.

Koger's responsibilities included consulting on project delivery methods, architect and construction manager selection and value engineering, which involves cutting design costs to prevent budget overruns.

Under Koger’s watch, Legends won two new MLS stadium projects, Banc of California Stadium in Los Angeles and Audi Field in Washington, D.C., plus renovations to Philips Arena in Atlanta and Yankee Stadium in New York and the expansion of Donald J. Reynolds Razorback Stadium at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville.

Before Legends, Koger spent 13 years at Turner Construction, among the top builders of arenas and stadiums in North America. Before that, he was employed with Clark Construction. At Turner, Koger helped the firm win jobs to construct multiple facilities across the big leagues.


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HOT TICKETS FOR FEBRUARY 21, 2018
 
Posted: 21 Feb 2018, 8:00 pm

Blake Shelton started his new tour in Tulsa, Okla., on Feb. 15.

Ten-gallon hats off to Blake Shelton for taking three of five spots in the Hot Tickets category for shows drawing 10,001-15,000 with the first three shows of his Country Music Freaks tour. Performances in Tulsa, Okla; Lubbock, Texas; and Las Cruces, N.M., all made the cut. The Tulsa show took the top spot, drawing13,578 to the BOK Center and grossing more than $1 million.

And how can we not raise a glass to Pink Martini? The band performed its multilingual collection of songs for 8,699 at the McCallum Theatre in Palm Desert, Calif., grossing $625,615. 

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 when available, which took place between Jan. 24-Feb. 21.

15,001 or More Attendance

10,001-15,000 Attendance

5,001-10,000 Attendance

5,000 or Fewer Attendance

1) Bruno Mars
Gross Sales: $8,665,384; Venue: Foro Sol, Mexico City, Mexico; Attendance: 115,147; Ticket Range: $195.41-$26.55; Promoter: OCESA, CIE; Dates: Feb. 2-3; No. of Shows: 2

2) Bruno Mars
Gross Sales: $3,982,647; Venue: Estadio Chivas, Zapopan, Mexico; Attendance: 36,289; Ticket Range: $195.41-$26.55; Promoter: OCESA, CIE; Dates: Feb. 5; No. of Shows: 1

3) George Strait
Gross Sales: $3,435,070; Venue: T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas; Attendance: 30,108; Ticket Range: $200-$50; Promoter: In-house; Dates: Feb. 2-3; No. of Shows: 2

4) Bruno Mars
Gross Sales: $2,812,422; Venue: Estadio Universitario, Monterrey, Mexico; Attendance: 27,553; Ticket Range: $195.41-$26.55; Promoter: OCESA, CIE; Dates: Jan. 31; No. of Shows: 1

5) Cirque du Soleil “Crystal”
Gross Sales: $1,665,335; Venue: H-E-B Center at Cedar Park, Texas; Attendance: 22,580; Ticket Range: $155-$59; Promoter: Cirque du Soleil; Dates: Feb. 14-18; No. of Shows: 8

1) Blake Shelton
Gross Sales: $1,024,809; Venue: BOK Center, Tulsa, Okla.; Attendance: 13,578; Ticket Range: $125-$46; Promoter: AEG Presents, Concerts West, Goldenvoice, Messina Touring Group; Dates: Feb. 15; No. of Shows: 1

2) The Killers
Gross Sales: $904,742; Venue: MGM Grand Garden Arena, Las Vegas; Attendance: 12,791; Ticket Range: $95-$35; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Feb. 3; No. of Shows: 1

3) Blake Shelton
Gross Sales: $954,327; Venue: United Supermarkets Arena, Lubbock, Texas; Attendance: 12,680; Ticket Range: $94-$45; Promoter: AEG Presents, Concerts West, Goldenvoice, Messina Touring Group; Dates: Feb. 16; No. of Shows: 1

4) Katy Perry
Gross Sales: $1,144,786; Venue: Moda Center, Portland, Ore.; Attendance: 11,756; Ticket Range: $150.50-$29.50; Promoter: AEG Presents, Concerts West, Goldenvoice; Dates: Feb. 2; No. of Shows: 1

5) Blake Shelton
Gross Sales: $916,236; Venue: Pan American Center, Las Cruces, N.M.; Attendance: 11,183; Ticket Range: $127.50-$24.50; Promoter: AEG Presents, Concerts West, Goldenvoice, Messina Touring Group; Dates: Feb. 17; No. of Shows: 1

1) Backstreet Boys
Gross Sales: $1,402,471; Venue: The Axis at Planet Hollywood, Las Vegas; Attendance: 9,429; Ticket Range: $294-$39; Promoter: Caesars Entertainment, Live Nation; Dates: Jan. 31-Feb. 3; No. of Shows: 3

2) Lana Del Rey
Gross Sales: $807,280; Venue: Frank Erwin Center, Austin, Texas; Attendance: 9,112; Ticket Range: $125-$39.50; Promoter: Live Nation; Dates: Feb. 11; No. of Shows: 1

3) Pink Martini
Gross Sales: $625,615; Venue: McCallum Theatre, Palm Desert, Calif.; Attendance: 8,699; Ticket Range: $95-$25; Promoter: In-house; Dates: Feb. 9-15; No. of Shows: 8

4) Jerry Seinfeld
Gross Sales: $790,266; Venue: Comerica Theatre, Phoenix; Attendance: 8,464; Ticket Range: $175-$50; Promoter: JS Touring LLC; Dates: Feb. 9; No. of Shows: 2

5) Alanis Morissette
Gross Sales: $612,061; Venue: ICC Sydney (Australia) Theatre; Attendance: 7,723; Ticket Range: $109.04-$77.86; Promoter: Chugg Entertainment; Dates: Jan. 24; No. of Shows: 1

1) A Gentleman’s Guide To Love & Murder
Gross Sales: $211,330; Venue: Husby Performing Arts Center – Mary W. Sommervold Hall, Sioux Falls, S.D.; Attendance: 3,778; Ticket Range: $85-$22; Promoter: In-house; Dates: Jan. 30-Feb. 1; No. of Shows: 3

2) Wizard Of Oz
Gross Sales: $193,965; Venue: Husby Performing Arts Center – Mary W. Sommervold Hall, Sioux Falls, S.D.; Attendance: 3,041; Ticket Range: $85-$22; Promoter: In-house; Dates: Jan. 24-25; No. of Shows: 2

3) Kinky Boots
Gross Sales: $210,601; Venue: Mary Stuart Rogers Theatre, Modesto, Calif.; Attendance: 2,930; Ticket Range: $109-$39; Promoter: In-house; Dates: Jan. 24-25; No. of Shows: 3

4) Diana Krall
Gross Sales: $186,793; Venue: Ruth Eckerd Hall, Clearwater, Fla.; Attendance: 1,977; Ticket Range: $138.75-$58.75; Promoter: AEG Presents, Concerts West, Goldenvoice, Ruth Eckerd Hall Presents; Dates: Jan. 30; No. of Shows: 1

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

 


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Freedom Hall Out For Bid
 
Posted: 21 Feb 2018, 5:00 pm

The management contract at Freedom Hall, Johnson City, Tenn., has been out for RFP.

Two private management firms — Spectra Venue Management and OVG Facilities — have responded to a request for proposals to manage Freedom Hall Civic Center in Johnson City, Tenn.

Tom McDonnell, Spectra director of business development, and Tom Paquette with OVG Facilities presented their visions Feb. 1 for operating the 7,000-capacity arena, built in 1974. The meeting was before four commissioners, the city manager and two assistant city managers. Lisa Chamness, manager of the city-owned venue, which sits on a middle school campus and  cost $1 million to build, said the arena has been upgraded to the tune of about $16 million over the past eight years.

“The building is in great shape,” Paquette said. Oak View Group (which also owns VenuesNow) sees it as an opportunity to use OVG’s booking and marketing resources to secure more shows for a growing market. “It’s a nice size building for that market.”

Having been in talks with the city for a year, McDonnell said he, too, is most impressed with the renovations. For an older, nongraditional venue, "one that has a cafeteria and gymnasium attached to it, the inside bones are great. The staff there has done a great job."

OVG Facilities responded to the RFP when it was still Pinnacle Venue Services, before it was purchased by Oak View Group, Chamness said.

Chamness, who has worked for the city for 31 years as of April 8, said Johnson City is also interested in a possible naming-rights deal and would lean on the winning bidder to facilitate that process. In addition, she is excited about the probability of a more robust marketing program, encompassing social media and a new, dedicated website.

“We’re on a school campus and there are some challenges, most of which will be dealt with in the next two years,” Chamness said. “There’s lots of flexibility once the kids are out of here.”

Concessions, parking and maintenance are handled inhouse. Ticketsage won the ticketing contract in 2008. The arena has 5,600 permanent seats. It also contains a second kitchen that is used by the 2,500-student Liberty Bell Middle School. They plan to move that operation to a new facility on campus in 2020, at which point Freedom Hall can upgrade its concessions using that kitchen as well as the main arena kitchen.

More importantly, when the middle school moves out, they may be allowed to serve alcohol in the arena, Chamness said. That is among the positive things private management can do that, as a city department, Chamness cannot do.

There is also a swimming pool and small gym used by the junior high which will be abandoned in the next few years and could be repurposed as a banquet room, Chamness said.

In 2017, revenue totaled $1.878 million, compared with $3 million in 2016 (thanks to Elton John and Disney on Ice) and more than $1.7 million in 2015. The deficit, which the city is looking to reduce, ranges from $80,000 to $300,000 annually. Chamness has a staff of six

“We’ve had a great relationship with the middle school the last 20 years, “ she said. She works to accommodate activities on campus, limiting daytime flat shows at the venue, and lets students use the venue as an auxiliary gym or walking track during inclement weather, working closely with the physical education teachers. Parking is ample for both enterprises. Eastern Tennessee State University plays 16 home basketball games at Freedom Hall.

Freedom Hall hosted 15 ticketed events last year, drawing 120,000-150,000 to all events in a year. They have had a few mega-shows, most notably Elton John, who loves playing there because he can fly in from his home in 45 minutes and be back to sleep in his own bed that night. “He can be home before we are,” Chamness said.

Currently, Chamness cannot promote or co-promote shows.

Johnson City proper has a population of 68,000 and is the biggest in the tri-city area, which includes Kingsport (home of Eastman Kodak) and Bristol, Tenn. Within a 60-mile radius, which encompasses southeastern Kentucky, southwest Virginia and western North Carolina, the market swells to at least 500,000.

The next step is to seek a pro forma from Spectra and OVG Facilities, probably in the next 30 days. There is no definite timeframe for making a decision, but Chamness believes it will probably happen before the new fiscal year, which starts July 1.

This is not the first time the city has discussed private management, but it is the first time it has taken it this far.


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Lodging Tax Funding Memphis Upgrade
 
Posted: 21 Feb 2018, 4:00 pm

Rendering of the exterior planned at Memphis (Tenn.) Cook Convention Center, which is undergoing a $175 million renovation. (Courtesy Memphis Convention and Visitors Bureau.) 

Memphis (Tenn.) Cook Convention Center is in the final stages of preplanning for a $175-million renovation of the 350,000-square-foot, 44-year-old venue. When completed, the facility will boast 120,000 square feet of column-free floor space, 56 breakout rooms, a new all-glass concourse and a new menu.

The renovation is being paid for by a 1.8 percent lodging tax that was first imposed in 2016, with additional funding coming from the Memphis Tourism Development Zone, according to Kevin Kane, president and CEO of the Memphis Convention and Visitors Bureau.

“We’ve been looking at making improvements to the convention center from as early as 2003,” Kane said. “After feasibility studies in 2010 and 2012 the city voted to start implementing the lodging tax in 2016 to fund the renovation project.”

“We are going to upgrade the facility mechanically, technically and functionally inside and out,” he said. “We’re touching every square inch of the building from the loading docks to the parking garage to all the major footprints inside the venue to the exterior facade. When we finish the project it will feel like a brand new building.”

The building will feature “hotel-style finishes,” and Kane said that constructing 52 new breakout rooms (there are 30 now) will be one of the major improvements.

“Our meeting rooms are very inflexible right now, with low ceilings and columns, and are not conducive to the demands of a 21st-century breakout room,” he explained. “We’re gutting every room. Every room will have a minimum of 20-foot ceilings, and they will all have flexibility via air walls.”

The renovated main exhibit hall will be 120,000 square feet, with the ability to divide it into three 40,000-square-foot rooms as needed. “The western end of the exhibit hall will be retrofitted and we will bust through the west wall to create a 35- by 200-square-foot all-glass concourse that overlooks the Mississippi River. This will give us the ability to create another 40,000-square-foot ballroom with the beauty of the river right in front of you.”

Construction will start in April and conclude in September. The designers are Atlanta-based TVS Design and local architect LRK Memphis. A construction firm has not been selected yet; bids are currently out for RFP.

The venue will remain open during the construction, said Pierre Landaiche, the convention center's GM and VP, who has been with the venue since 1996.

“We are making every attempt to keep the building open, operational and active during the construction,” he said. “We’ve been talking with our customers, discussing phases and stages, and don’t expect to lose a tremendous amount of business. The business we will lose will be a matter of pain now for gain down the road.”

Landaiche said that “communicating with the customers” was the key to retaining business during the construction and that they’ve “taken a hard look at access routes, noise and quiet times to convince the clients that their events will be mostly undisturbed.” He also advised being transparent with the local community. “We’re going out of our way to keep everyone updated during every phase of the project,” he said.

The center’s four biggest events —AutoZone National Sales Meeting, Farm and Gin show (which has been at the convention center for 60 years), St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital and National Contract Bridge League — are all onboard for their respective events during the renovations. There have been no cancellations thus far.

Technology in the venue is getting a major overhaul. “Every part of our technological infrastructure is being refurbished,” Landaiche said. “Our IT back end will be state-of-the art.”

Another area being modernized is security. “We’ve been working closely with a local security consultant to upgrade all our systems to contemporary standards,” he said. “We’re adding several more advanced cameras, and we’re completely redoing our key system, which will only allow access through fingerprints and facial recognition.”

The concessionaire is the Sheraton Hotel, which is next door. “We’ve been with them since 1998,” said Landaiche. “We’re planning to overhaul our food and beverage equipment and service areas, and the Sheraton will revise and update our menus with the opening of the new building.”

Kane said the decision to renovate versus building a new building was cost. “We studied it hard and we did not have the bonding capacity or voter support for bond revenues to build a new building that would have cost between $500 million and $600 million,” said Kane. “Besides, we did not need a 250,000-square-foot exhibit hall or 100 breakout rooms. The bones of the building are in good shape and the renovation will solve all our issues.”

Kane said that the economic impact on the city is “well north of $100 million” and that last year the center had only “40 dark days. It’s a very active building.”

“This is one of the largest public projects in Memphis since the FedEx Forum was built in 2003,” he said.


 


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Pop-Ups An All-Star Performer
 
Posted: 21 Feb 2018, 3:00 pm

The expansion of L.A. Live next to Staples Center allowed All-Star Weekend events to be concentrated downtown. (Courtesy Staples Center)

Levy posted robust per caps for the 2018 NBA All-Star Weekend at Staples Center. Dates were Feb. 16-18.

Fans spent an average of $45.86 for food and drink for Sunday's NBA All-Star Game, covering general concessions and premium dining, Staples Center President Lee Zeidman said. Gross revenue was $816,364 from an official attendance of 17,801.

The highest per cap of the weekend, $48.03, came on State Farm All-Star Saturday Night, which encompassed the Taco Bell Skills Challenge, the JBL Three-Point Contest and the Verizon Slam Dunk.

Friday night's NBA All-Star Celebrity Game presented by Ruffles, and the Mtn Dew Kickstart Rising Stars produced an average spend of $37.04, Zeidman said.

Staples Center also played host to the NBA All-Star Game in 2011 and 2004.

Levy, in tandem with AEG, partnered with multiple celebrity chefs in Greater Los Angeles to upgrade concessions and premium dining by building temporary stands on the concourses and suite levels.

The pop-ups included:

" Charcoal Venice, the outdoor grill run by Josiah Citrin, whose Dave's Doghouse hot dog concept is already at Staples Center.
" Susan Feniger's Border Grill, a gourmet Mexican restaurant.
" Bludso's Bar & Que, featuring brisket sandwiches and hot links.
" Wurstkutche, a local brand of exotic sausages and brats.

Those four pops-up helped drive revenue for the event, as did variable pricing for NBA All-Star Weekend, which brought a "premium uptick" for higher-end food and drink items in general, Zeidman said.

For retail, AEG Merchandising generated a blended per cap of about $23 over the three days, on par with numbers from the 2010 NBA Finals at Staples Center.

It's the second-highest retail gross for an NBA All-Star Game, behind only the 2010 event, Zeidman said, which drew 108,713 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington. It topped the $17.91 per cap for the 2011 game at Staples Center.

AEG Merchandising's record per cap remains $65 for Kobe Bryant's final home game on April 13, 2016.

It took a massive effort among AEG, L.A. Live, the Los Angeles Convention Center, the Los Angeles Sports and Entertainment Commission, city officials and local law enforcement to organize all the activities and protect all the attendees over All-Star Weekend, Zeidman said.

The expansion of L.A. Live, the entertainment district across the street from Staples Center, to include more hotels has resulted in more people staying downtown. In 2004, the first time Staples Center played host to the event, L.A. Live was not open and, in 2011, the district was just four years old and still evolving, Zeidman said.

"This year, 95 percent of all the acts and people attending the events were housed in downtown L.A., plus all of the Turner [Network] activations and the outdoor parties and concerts," he said. "It was huge to have everything concentrated downtown."

As part of upgrading security, AEG, in conjunction with LAPD, the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security, increased canine patrols around the arena and formed a comprehensive plan tied to a secured perimeter around Staples Center.

Inside the arena, the NBA tested facial recognition technology for credentialed media, using a system developed by NEC. AEG plans to look further into using the technology at Staples Center, but at this point no decisions have been made, Zeidman said.

"I couldn't be prouder of our staff," he said. "We had numerous compliments from other venues and teams, as well as the NBA and Turner."


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FedExForum Names New VP
 
Posted: 20 Feb 2018, 5:00 pm


dwightjohnson200x1453.jpgDwight Johnson 


Dwight Johnson is taking on the role of vice president of arena operations at FedExForum in Memphis, Tenn., home of the NBA's Memphis Grizzlies.

Johnson was a 13-year employee of SMG Richmond and had been general manager of Richmind Coliseum since 2009. Before his role as GM, he was director of operations with SMG Richmond beginning in 2005.

Johnson began his career in facility management in 1997 as an operations lead at the 15,000-seat Pete Maravich Assembly Center at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, rising to venue director. 

In his time at LSU, Johnson managed multiple national sporting events, including the NCAA Women’s Basketball Regional, Men’s Basketball NIT Tournament games and SEC Championship events.

Johnson is a graduate of LSU. His first day with the Grizzlies and FedEx Forum will be March 19.

 


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Charm City's New Stop
 
Posted: 19 Feb 2018, 8:00 pm

The UMBC Event Center, which opened Feb. 3 in Baltimore, has been "transformational" for students at the University of Maryland-Baltimore County.  (Courtesy Cannon Design)

The newest arena in Greater Baltimore provides a stop for midsize shows in the market, as well as upgrading the University of Maryland-Baltimore County's basketball facilities, project officials say.

The UMBC Event Center, capacity 5,500, is the new home of the Golden Retrievers, a Division I school and a member of the America East Conference. (Fun fact: The Chesapeake Bay retriever is Maryland's state dog).

The $85 million arena, which opened Feb. 3 for men's basketball, also fills a niche in the Baltimore-Washington market, which until recently, had few arenas of its size for live entertainment, said Bob Fatovic, a vice president with project architect Cannon Design.

"Four years ago, we did a feasibility study with Brailsford & Dunlavey on the team, which did the market research," Fatovic said. "What we found is that there's nothing in Baltimore to attract medium-size events. There's [Royal Farms] Arena and Capital One Arena in D.C., but nothing really in between."

OVG Facilities operates and books the building. In the early stages of operation, promoters have responded, said Tiffany Sun, OVG Facilities' general manager.  (OVG Facilities is a division of Oak View Group, which owns VenuesNow.)

To date, the arena has booked A Day to Remember (March 13) with special guests Papa Roach, Falling in Reverse and The Devil Wears Prada; Maze featuring Frankie Beverly (April 21); and the Festival of Praise tour, featuring gospel singers Fred Hammond and Marvin Sapp (May 12), in a special Mother's Day performance.

The Harlem Globetrotters play March 15 at the new building.

The project has been "transformational" for providing entertainment opportunities for the school's 13,000 students, Athletic Director Tim Hall said. Moving over from its old arena, 4,000-seat Retriever Activities Center, UMBC now boasts one of the top facilities among mid-major programs, Hall said.

"People say it's big time," Hall said. "We don't have football, so basketball must be successful for our school to evolve. Our goal is to develop a strong fan base and continue to grow our program with new supporters. We take it seriously."

For years, the Retrievers struggled on the court and drew crowds of less than 1,000 at their old arena, which opened in 1973. UMBC is playing much better this season and, as of last
week, it was 10-3 in the conference and 19-9 overall. The Retrievers drew a full crowd of 4,753 for the first game at their new arena before dropping off to 1,344 for the next game.

The school's vision extended to developing a multipurpose building and the best arena in the conference. The school looked closely at America East arenas in Binghamton and Stony Brook, plus Texas-Arlington and SMU's Moody Coliseum, which underwent a $40 million renovation about five years ago.

As part of the development process in Baltimore County, UMBC administrators looked closely at all four venues, Hall said.

The result is a single-concourse building split into two levels in a horseshoe bowl design, with no seats behind the stage, Fatovic said. There are 4,800 fixed seats and room for about 1,000 portable chairs on the floor for concerts. A curtain system for the upper deck cuts capacity to 2,500 for smaller shows.

For concerts specifically, there are wall and ceiling treatments for absorbing sound and a full rigging system.

The 172,000-square-foot facility includes practice facilities for men's and women's basketball and volleyball, an academic center and a strength and conditioning room, plus a sports medicine center. Athletes have access to those support spaces while events are going on at the arena, Hall said.

School officials opened the arena late this season to give fans a taste of the building and its amenities before marketing full season-ticket packages for the 2018-19 season. There were weather-related delays in construction, Fatovic said, and a 40-foot drop on one side of the site didn't make things easier for Barton Malow, the general contractor.

OVG Facilities hired Apex Marketing Group to sell the 60 club seats, situated midcourt in the upper level and tied to the Retriever Room, a 2,200-square-foot lounge behind those seats. Apex also has a deal to help sell advertising for both the venue and the athletic department, OVG officials said.

On its own, the athletic department is soliciting major donors for season-ticket packages that extend to a separate hospitality space, which will most likely be in the practice gym, Hall said. Season-ticket prices have not been determined for next season.

The school has been working with consultant Team Services to sell the arena's naming rights, but to date no deal has been signed. E.J. Narcise, a principal with Team Services, would not
say how much the school is asking for naming rights.

Towson University, another Baltimore-area school, signed a 10-year, $4.75 million deal with credit union SECU for its 5,200-seat arena, which opened in 2013. Team Services consulted on that agreement.


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Q&A With Michele Hughes, Director of Sales, Connecticut Convention Center
 
Posted: 24 Jan 2018, 7:00 pm

Meetings Today checked in with Michele Hughes, Director of Sales & Marketing with the Connecticut Convention Center (CTCC).

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............................................................



Convention Centers Are Making Bold New Statements
 
Posted: 1 Jan 2018, 7:00 pm

Goodbye big-box, bunkeresque venues. Hello green rooftop micro-environments, wellness spaces and hip street-party-scapes.

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............................................................



Conference centers revamp to provide connectivity
 
Posted: 1 May 2017, 8:00 pm

Addressing profound changes in how their customers are approaching learning, many conference centers are in a process of reinvention

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............................................................



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

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

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............................................................



Groups in Greater Boston utilize college campuses
 
Posted: 31 Oct 2016, 8:00 pm

An exceedingly intelligent choice for meetings and events.

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............................................................



CEIR Releases Third Report in Attendee Retention Insights Series
 
Posted: 24 May 2016, 1:00 am
DALLAS, 24 May 2016 ? The Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR) announced today the release of the third report in its newest series, 2016 Attendee Retention Insights Part Three: Education Content that Builds a Loyal Alumni Attendee Audience. This landmark body of research offers organizers a comprehensive resource to help understand the profile of attendees that visit an exhibition repeatedly and the content that turns them into loyal customers.

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............................................................



CEIR Releases Second Report in Attendee Retention Insights Series
 
Posted: 10 May 2016, 1:00 am
DALLAS, 10 May 2016 ? The Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR) announced today the release of the second report in its newest series, 2016 Attendee Retention Insights Part Two: Exhibition Floor Features that Build a Loyal Alumni Attendee Audience. This landmark body of research offers organizers a comprehensive resource to help understand the profile of attendees that visit an exhibition repeatedly and the content that turns them into loyal customers

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............................................................



Fourth Annual IAEE Women’s Leadership Forum Another Sold Out Event
 
Posted: 4 May 2016, 1:00 am
DALLAS, 4 May 2016 ? The International Association of Exhibitions and Events? (IAEE) celebrates another successful Women?s Leadership Forum on 26 April 2016 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C. More than 200 attendees sold out this year?s event which featured education sessions for women at all stages of their career.

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............................................................



IAEE Now Accepting Applications for 2016 Bob Dallmeyer Education Fund Grants
 
Posted: 3 May 2016, 1:00 am
DALLAS, 3 May 2016 ? The International Association of Exhibitions and Events? (IAEE) has opened the application process for the 2016 Bob Dallmeyer Education Fund Grants, which aid qualified professionals in their pursuit of continuing education and career development in the exhibitions and events industry.

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............................................................



IAEE Now Accepting 2016 Helen Brett Scholarship Applications
 
Posted: 2 May 2016, 1:00 am
DALLAS, 2 May 2016 ? The International Association of Exhibitions and EventsTM (IAEE) has opened the application process for the Helen Brett Scholarship awards in 2016. The scholarship serves to promote the exhibitions and events industry by attracting college-level students into the field of study and encouraging their pursuit with financial support.

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............................................................



Conference center education shifts dramatically
 
Posted: 30 Apr 2016, 8:00 pm

The times they are a changin’, and all for the better from this reporter’s perspective.

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............................................................



CEIR Debuts New Report Series Focusing on Attendee Retention
 
Posted: 28 Apr 2016, 1:00 am
DALLAS, 28 April 2016 ? The Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR) announced today the release of the first report in its newest series, 2016 Attendee Retention Insights. Reports from this exciting new, landmark study offers organizers a comprehensive resource to help understand the profile of attendees that visit an exhibition repeatedly and the content that turns them into a loyal fanbase. The series consists of five reports, beginning with Part One: Basics for Creating Your Attendee Retention Strategy: Tracking, Profiling and Why They Come Back.

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............................................................



IAEE Public Events Council Releases 2016 Survey Report
 
Posted: 26 Apr 2016, 1:00 am
DALLAS, 26 April 2016 ? Today, the International Association of Exhibitions and Events? (IAEE) Public Events Council released its Public Events Industry Report: 2015 Results. In 2009, the Public Events Council distributed a survey to public event organizers across 22 public events industry sectors to examine overall industry performance. The report identified which public events industry sectors fared well, which sectors struggled and their expectations for the future. As a follow-up to the benchmark report, the survey is repeated annually with subsequent reports detailing individual and comparative statistics over the years.

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............................................................



Your Industry - Your Voice!
 
Posted: 22 Apr 2016, 1:00 am

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............................................................



CEM Week - Register Now!
 
Posted: 18 Apr 2016, 1:00 am

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............................................................



2016 CEIR Index Report Now Available
 
Posted: 13 Apr 2016, 1:00 am
DALLAS, 12 April 2016 ? Today, the Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR) released the 2016 CEIR Index Report. The CEIR Index analyzes the 2015 exhibition industry and provides a future outlook for the next three years. Despite widespread pessimism and deceleration of activity during the fourth quarter, the U.S. economy still displayed significant signs of strength in 2015, led by personal consumption and residential construction. These strengths were offset partially by deterioration in energy development and net exports to produce real GDP growth of 2.4%. According to CEIR?s current projection, 2016 growth will be about the same, or perhaps slightly weaker as the trade gap widens further, before GDP accelerates in 2018 (see Figure 1).

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IAEE Renews Reciprocity Agreement with JEXA
 
Posted: 5 Apr 2016, 1:00 am
DALLAS, 5 April 2016 ? The International Association of Exhibitions and Events? (IAEE) and the Japan Exhibition Association (JEXA) announced the renewal of a reciprocity agreement to benefit members of both organizations. Originally signed in 2012, the agreement renews the commitment of IAEE and JEXA to promote and develop the exhibitions and events industries in their respective countries through membership collaboration.

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............................................................



IAEE Announces New Chapter in India
 
Posted: 4 Apr 2016, 1:00 am
DALLAS, 4 April 2016 ? The International Association of Exhibitions and Events? (IAEE) announces the addition of its latest chapter in Asia, the IAEE India Chapter. The IAEE Board of Directors approved the creation of this new chapter during its meeting held 31 March 2016 at the HITEX Exhibition Center in Hyderabad, India.

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Convention centers transform to meet attendees’ needs
 
Posted: 1 Apr 2016, 8:00 pm

Generic big-box convention centers seem to be going the way of the buggy whip and typewriter.

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............................................................



IAEE MATSO Council Adds New Content for May Meeting
 
Posted: 31 Mar 2016, 1:00 am
DALLAS, 31 March 2016 ? The International Association of Exhibitions and Events? (IAEE) MATSO Council?s program for this year?s MATSO Spring Program on 23-24 May 2016 at McCormick Place in Chicago, Ill. will focus on exchanging information that address challenges, share best practices and understand the changing landscape of Tier 1 cities.

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............................................................



IAEE Awards Jacqueline Russo with 2016 Woman of Achievement Award
 
Posted: 30 Mar 2016, 1:00 am
DALLAS, 30 March 2016 ? The International Association of Exhibitions and Events? (IAEE) proudly congratulates Jacqueline Russo, Vice President of Kuehne + Nagel, Inc., as this year?s recipient of the IAEE Woman of Achievement Award. This award recognizes a woman who has led the way in the advancement of women in the exhibitions and events industry, exhibited outstanding leadership, and made significant contributions to the industry and her community.

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CEIR Releases New Industry Insight Series Report Written by Candy Adams
 
Posted: 29 Mar 2016, 1:00 am
DALLAS, 29 March 2016 ? Today the Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR) announces a new Industry Insight Series report, 99 Cost-Savings Tips and Tricks for Exhibit Managers written by Candy Adams, CTSM, CME, CEM, CMP, CMM, a revered and well-known exhibition industry veteran and owner of ?The Booth Mom? Trade Show Consulting.

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IAEE Announces 2016 Krakoff Leadership Institute
 
Posted: 28 Mar 2016, 1:00 am
DALLAS, 28 March 2016 ? Registration is now open for the International Association of Exhibitions and Events? (IAEE) Krakoff Leadership Institute (KLI) to be held 7-9 August 2016 at The Waterfront Beach Resort, A Hilton Hotel in Huntington Beach, Calif. The program is open to IAEE members interested in enhancing their strategic skills, and broadening their knowledge as current and future leaders in the exhibitions and events industry.

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............................................................



IAEE Congratulates its 2016 International Excellence Award Recipient
 
Posted: 17 Mar 2016, 1:00 am
DALLAS, 17 March 2016 ? The International Association of Exhibitions and Events? (IAEE) congratulates Edward J. Krause III (Ned), President and CEO of E.J. Krause & Associates, Inc. (EJK) as this year?s recipient of the IAEE International Excellence Award. The IAEE International Excellence Award recognizes an individual or organization that has made exceptional strides in creating, launching and managing an international event in the exhibitions and events industry on an international scale.

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CEIR Releases Final Digital Toolkit Report
 
Posted: 15 Mar 2016, 1:00 am
DALLAS, 15 March 2015 ? Today, the Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR) announced the release of the final report in the CEIR Digital Toolkit series. The new report, entitled Focus Report on Exhibition Organizer Onsite and Post-event Offerings provides an in-depth look at attendee preferences compared to business-to-business exhibition offerings for show mobile apps, as well as other onsite digital amenities and post-event digital communications.

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IAEE MATSO Council Announces City Working Group Initiative, Finalizes Governance Procedures
 
Posted: 9 Mar 2016, 1:00 am
DALLAS, 9 March 2016 ? The International Association of Exhibitions and Events? (IAEE) MATSO Council announced it will resurrect city task force updates following a recent council meeting that focused on future programming and governance procedures.

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IAEE Announces 2016 Call for Nominations for Individual Awards
 
Posted: 8 Mar 2016, 1:00 am
DALLAS, 8 March 2016 ? Today, the International Association of Exhibitions and Events? (IAEE) has opened the Call for Nominations for its annual awards program to recognize exceptional professionals in the exhibitions and events industry. Industry professionals who meet the outlined criteria may be nominated for any of the awards listed below, and recipients will be honored at Expo! Expo! IAEE?s Annual Meeting & Exhibition to be held 6-8 December in Anaheim, Calif.

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Conference center experts weigh in on five hot trends
 
Posted: 30 Apr 2015, 8:00 pm

Here is the top feedback when it comes to staging cutting-edge conference meets.

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Convention center tradeshows focus on interaction
 
Posted: 31 Mar 2015, 8:00 pm

Are you fully engaging your attendees?

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............................................................



State College brims with entertaining endeavors
 
Posted: 30 Oct 2014, 8:00 pm

When it comes to putting fun on the agenda, State College is one smart choice.

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............................................................



The 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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............................................................



Watch: Hugh Jackman talks about ticketing
 
Posted: 16 Oct 2014, 2:57 pm
Hugh Jackman and the show's producer are making sure pricing allows anyone that wants to see his new play will not have to worry about scalpers.

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............................................................



AEG Live acquires two historic Virginia theatres
 
Posted: 16 Oct 2014, 2:57 pm
Those theatres are The National Theatre in Richmond and The NorVa Theatre in Norfolk, Virginia.

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............................................................



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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............................................................



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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............................................................



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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............................................................



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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............................................................



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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............................................................



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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............................................................



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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............................................................



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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............................................................



Earl R. Williams
 
Posted: 16 Oct 2014, 2:57 pm
Earl was employed with Kimble Glass Co. and later Ball State University as Conference Director and General Manager of Emens Auditorium.

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............................................................



Ebola and the venue industry
 
Posted: 16 Oct 2014, 2:57 pm
IAVM is actively monitoring the impact of recent Ebola incidents. At the direction of Chair Kim Bedier, CFE ? in collaboration with our Industry Affairs Council and key IAVM staff ? an Ebola task force has been formed to work on relevant communications to the IAVM community.

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............................................................



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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............................................................



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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............................................................



Take 10 - Invigorate Your Large Events!
 
Posted: 13 May 2014, 8:00 pm

Dana Freker Doody answers questions from Meetings Focus' Invigorate Your Large Events webinar.

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............................................................



Cookie-cutter conference centers are a thing of the past
 
Posted: 30 Apr 2014, 8:00 pm

Today's conference centers are more about standing out than fitting in.

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............................................................



Convention centers adapt to tradeshows of today
 
Posted: 31 Mar 2014, 8:00 pm

Modern convention centers are about experience as much as setting.

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............................................................



Selecting the perfect convention venue
 
Posted: 31 Mar 2014, 8:00 pm

Eight easy steps to picking the perfect convention venue.

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............................................................



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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............................................................



Five U.S. convention center highlights
 
Posted: 31 Mar 2014, 8:00 pm

A look at major convention center projects in Green Bay,  King of Prussia, New York, San Antonio and San Diego.

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............................................................



IACC Americas Conference Sees Attendee Uptick
 
Posted: 18 Mar 2014, 8:00 pm

The 2014 IACC Annual Conference reported it has attracted the most registered attendees since 2008.

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............................................................



State College, Pennsylvania, is a happening, business-savvy hub
 
Posted: 27 Oct 2013, 8:00 pm

State College, home to Pennsylvania State University, welcomes groups with its vibrant ambiance and excellent on-campus (and off-site) facilities.

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............................................................



A quick take on recent openings and upgrades in the world of conference centers
 
Posted: 24 Apr 2013, 8:00 pm

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............................................................



A Q&A with Mark Cooper, new CEO of the International Association of Conference Centres
 
Posted: 24 Apr 2013, 8:00 pm
IACC's new CEO shares his insights on the events industry

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............................................................



Get Smart
 
Posted: 17 Feb 2013, 7:00 pm
On the fence about booking a college venue? These benefits might convince you.

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............................................................



Areas of Study
 
Posted: 17 Feb 2013, 7:00 pm
University meetings think outside of the classroom

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............................................................



School Spirit
 
Posted: 17 Feb 2013, 7:00 pm
College stadiums and arenas are a classic choice for large groups

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............................................................



Billboard.biz Has Moved! Here's How to Get to Our New Site
 
Posted: 26 Jan 2013, 4:00 pm
On Saturday, January 26, Billboard.biz took a bold step forward in its evolution: Along with Billboard’s fully revamped magazine, newly launched iPad app and the relaunched Billboard.com, the all-new Billboard.biz has exciting new features and functionalities that will allow us to lead the essential conversations around the music business and its community in better and bigger ways than ever before. But we've moved servers -- here are details on where to find us while until our migration is complete.

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............................................................



A Preview of This Week's Billboard
 
Posted: 25 Jan 2013, 6:29 pm
Justin Bieber has granted only one major interview for the Jan. 29 release of his new album Believe Acoustic. Billboard got it. In his fourth cover story for us, Bieber opens up to editorial director Bill Werde.

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............................................................



Exclusive: HSN Partners With Las Vegas' Venetian On Concert Series
 
Posted: 25 Jan 2013, 3:33 pm
HSN is taking its Live music division on the road with a Las Vegas residency at the Venetial Resort Hotel Casino.The series kicks off Feb. 8 with Michael Bolton, who will debut his new studio album, "Ain’t No Mountain High Enough: A Tribute to Hitsville U.S.A." with Motown greats Smokey Robinson, Valerie Simpson and Martha Reeves as well as Kelly Rowland and Melanie Fiona

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............................................................



Exclusive: HSN Partners With Las Vegas' Venetian On Concert Series
 
Posted: 25 Jan 2013, 3:33 pm
HSN is taking its Live music division on the road with a Las Vegas residency at the Venetial Resort Hotel Casino.The series kicks off Feb. 8 with Michael Bolton, who will debut his new studio album, "Ain’t No Mountain High Enough: A Tribute to Hitsville U.S.A." with Motown greats Smokey Robinson, Valerie Simpson and Martha Reeves as well as Kelly Rowland and Melanie Fiona

Read the full article

............................................................



Coachella 2013 Lineup: Blur, Phoenix, Red Hot Chili Peppers Headlining
 
Posted: 25 Jan 2013, 12:35 am
Blur, the Stone Roses, Phoenix and Red Hot Chili Peppers top the lineup for the 2013 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, which was unveiled late on Thursday night (Jan. 24). The annual fest is set to once again take over Indio, Calif. on consecutive weekends, this year from Apr. 12-14 and Apr. 19-21.

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............................................................



Ticketmaster Canada Names Patti-Anne Tarlton SVP/COO
 
Posted: 24 Jan 2013, 6:09 pm
Ticketmaster Canada has appointed Patti-Anne Tarlton senior VP and chief operating officer. In turn, current COO Tom Worrall will become chairman of Ticketmaster Canada.

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............................................................



Exclusive: Flaming Lips to Star in Hyundai Super Bowl Commercial
 
Posted: 24 Jan 2013, 4:32 pm
When the Flaming Lips formed nearly 30 years ago, the notion that the group would be performing a song called "Sun Blows Up Today" in a Super Bowl ad would have been as surreal some of their lyrics. But that's exactly what will happen when the group stars in one of Hyundai's four spots during the big game,  a 60-second commercial that will feature the band on-camera performing a brand-new, custom-written song bearing that name.

Read the full article

............................................................



Exclusive: Flaming Lips to Star in Hyundai Super Bowl Commercial
 
Posted: 24 Jan 2013, 4:32 pm
When the Flaming Lips formed nearly 30 years ago, the notion that the group would be performing a song called "Sun Blows Up Today" in a Super Bowl ad would have been as surreal some of their lyrics. But that's exactly what will happen when the group stars in one of Hyundai's four spots during the big game,  a 60-second commercial that will feature the band on-camera performing a brand-new, custom-written song bearing that name.

Read the full article

............................................................



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.

Read the full article

............................................................



13 Points to Watch at MIDEM 2013
 
Posted: 24 Jan 2013, 8:00 am
As the world's largest trade fair for the music industry, MIDEM can be daunting to navigate. Last year's gathering drew more than 6,850 attendees from 77 countries, representing 3,120 companies, including 155 startups. So, how best to manage MIDEM?

Read the full article

............................................................



13 Points to Watch at MIDEM 2013
 
Posted: 24 Jan 2013, 8:00 am
As the world's largest trade fair for the music industry, MIDEM can be daunting to navigate. Last year's gathering drew more than 6,850 attendees from 77 countries, representing 3,120 companies, including 155 startups. So, how best to manage MIDEM?

Read the full article

............................................................



13 Points to Watch at MIDEM 2013
 
Posted: 24 Jan 2013, 8:00 am
As the world's largest trade fair for the music industry, MIDEM can be daunting to navigate. Last year's gathering drew more than 6,850 attendees from 77 countries, representing 3,120 companies, including 155 startups. So, how best to manage MIDEM?

Read the full article

............................................................



Downtown Sells Label to Cofounders, Focuses on Publishing
 
Posted: 24 Jan 2013, 7:00 am
Downtown Music LLC, the privately held parent company of Downtown Records and Downtown Music Publishing, today announced the sale of its recorded music business to cofounders Josh Deutsch and Terence Lam.

Read the full article

............................................................



Justin Timberlake Sets Live Return for Super Bowl Charity Show
 
Posted: 23 Jan 2013, 6:54 pm
Less than one month after the singer-turned-actor exploded back onto the music scene with "Suit & Tie," featuring Jay-Z, Timberlake will perform his first solo concert in several years during Super Bowl weekend.

Read the full article

............................................................



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

............................................................



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

............................................................



Exclusive: Lionel Richie Signs With Red Light Management
 
Posted: 22 Jan 2013, 3:08 pm
Legendary hit maker Lionel Richie has signed with Red Light Management for representation, Billboard.biz has learned. This is the second major signing of the young year for RLM, which recently added Tiesto to its growing list of clients.

Read the full article

............................................................



Exclusive: Kobalt Launches Label Services Division, Preps New Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds Release
 
Posted: 22 Jan 2013, 2:07 pm
Not only did Kobalt sign a deal with Dave Grohl this week ( the company is also formally introducing a new Label Services division that will handle digital and physical releases for independent artists as well as Kobalt clients. Though the division has quietly released several albums in recent months, it will gain major attention next month with the release of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds’ “Push the Sky Away,” due out Feb. 18 through Kobalt Label Services  and Cave’s Bad Seed Ltd.

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Clive Davis To Speak At SXSW
 
Posted: 22 Jan 2013, 12:34 pm
Clive Davis will speak at South by Southwest (SXSW) Music and Media Conference and Festival on Thursday March 14, the festival announced today. His speech comes shortly after the release of his new autobiography “The Soundtrack of My Life.”

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Live Nation Strikes Deal to Host Concerts at London Olympic Stadium
 
Posted: 22 Jan 2013, 11:00 am
Live events giant Live Nation has struck a deal that gives it exclusive rights to organize concerts and music festivals in the British capital's Olympic Park and Olympic Stadium this summer.

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Two Voices of the Rolling Stones Meet for the First Time at Sundance Screening
 
Posted: 22 Jan 2013, 10:32 am
Lisa Fischer has sung female lead parts for the Rolling Stones on every tour since 1989, but it wasn't until film director Morgan Neville assembled a meeting of backup singers at Sundance that Fischer and Merry Clayton, a crucial vocalist in the music of Mick Jagger and the boys, would be in the same room together.

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Welcome to the New Billboard
 
Posted: 21 Jan 2013, 7:00 pm
The Jan. 26 edition of Billboard features a cover-story interview with Prince, but that world exclusive is accompanied by something else: A whole new magazine. This week, Billboard relaunches, and from the new logo on the front cover to the information packed graphic on the back page, the magazine is dedicated to the delivery of business journalism that leads and informs the essential conversations around the music and businesses it covers.

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Beyonce, Kelly Clarkson Add Soaring Voices to Obama's Inauguration
 
Posted: 21 Jan 2013, 4:22 pm
The inauguration of the President of the United States is a celebrated event indeed, even if it's effectively the follow-up to what was a landmark occasion four years ago. But if there's anyone who can bring the (white) house down, it's one of America's most beloved singing ladies, the first "American Idol," a songwriting legend and a showstopping choir.

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Warner Music, NMPA Reach Agreement on Royalty Rate for Music Videos
 
Posted: 21 Jan 2013, 2:43 pm
The Warner Music Group has become the second major label to agree to pay songwriters and publishers a royalty from revenue they derive from music videos, in a deal negotiated by the National Music Publishers' Association.

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Tim Leiweke on AEG Sale: 'We're Getting Down to the Final Straws'
 
Posted: 21 Jan 2013, 2:42 pm
The sale of Anschutz Entertainment Group is “taking longer” than expected, AEG CEO, Tim Leiweke told Billboard.biz, but not due to lack of interest. While Leiweke declined to mention who the serious bidders were, he did indicate that the field has narrowed.  “We’re getting down to the final straws here,” he said.

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Tim Leiweke on AEG Sale: 'We're Getting Down to the Final Straws'
 
Posted: 21 Jan 2013, 2:42 pm
The sale of Anschutz Entertainment Group is “taking longer” than expected, AEG CEO, Tim Leiweke told Billboard.biz, but not due to lack of interest. While Leiweke declined to mention who the serious bidders were, he did indicate that the field has narrowed.  “We’re getting down to the final straws here,” he said.

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'Pussy Riot - A Punk Prayer,' 'Twenty Feet From Stardom' Sell At Sundance
 
Posted: 21 Jan 2013, 6:17 am
Add “Pussy Riot — A Punk Prayer” to the growing music-centric documentaries sold at the Sundance Film Festival. HBO Docs acquired U.S. TV rights to the political documentary that received its world premiere Jan. 18. "Twenty Feet From Stardom," which tells the stories of several prominent backup singers, sold on Thursday to Radius and the Weinstein Co.

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Kim Dotcom Launches Mega, New File-Sharing Service
 
Posted: 19 Jan 2013, 4:09 pm
Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom has unveiled a new file-sharing website called Mega. "As of this minute one year ago #Megaupload was destroyed by the US Government," Dotcom tweeted on Saturday, along with a link to the new site.

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Dave Grohl's Sound City Players Tear It Up at Sundance
 
Posted: 19 Jan 2013, 2:05 pm
Hours after his "Sound City" documentary premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, Dave Grohl took 800 fans on a three-hour musical odyssey at Park City Live that emphasized his personal connection to the Van Nuys, Calif., recording studio his film chronicles.

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Obama Inauguration Music Guide: Katy Perry to Q-Tip
 
Posted: 19 Jan 2013, 1:41 pm
Just as Barack Obama's 2009 inauguration drew stars from Beyonce to Aretha Franklin, the president's re-election has led to another can't-miss week for music fans. We've hiked through Capital Hill's extensive inauguration schedule to bring you a list of the week's biggest balls.

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Sony/ATV's Martin Bandier on New, 'Quite Reasonable' Pandora Deal
 
Posted: 18 Jan 2013, 7:00 pm
Sony/ATV pulled a major coup earlier this week by negotiating a higher royalty rate from Pandora. Chairman/CEO Martin Bandier spoke with Billboard.biz about the deal.

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Backbeat: The Surreal APAP Convention Hall: From Tibetan Monks to Lez Zeppelin, Branson On the Road to Slask
 
Posted: 18 Jan 2013, 6:00 pm
In many regards the convention hall at the annual Association of Performing Arts Presenters in New York CIty resembles nothing so much as a Fellini film. Here, Tibetan Monks, Polish folk dancers, Lez Zeppelin and, of course, a golden praying mantis, all man booths before thousands of curators, agents, and promoters from across the country who trod the Hilton New York's carpeted aisles looking to book their 2014-2015 seasons.

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Six Music-Related Issues Facing This Administration and Congress
 
Posted: 18 Jan 2013, 4:45 pm
From performance royalties to deciding how musicians travel with their instruments on airplanes, numerous issues central to the music industry are alive Washington D.C. as the city prepares for the president inauguration on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

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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.

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Beyonce, Katy Perry, More Head to D.C. for Packed Slate of Obama Inauguration Events
 
Posted: 18 Jan 2013, 12:58 pm
Kelly Clarkson is a multiple nominee at next month's Grammy Awards, but what she's really excited about is another event where she'll be joined by Beyonce, Katy Perry, Stevie Wonder, Alicia Keys, Usher and Brad Paisley. Oh, and the president.

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CD Baby Parent Company AVL Digital Group Sold
 
Posted: 18 Jan 2013, 10:44 am
AVL Digital Group -- the parent company of CD Baby, Disc Makers and other self-publishing platforms -- has been sold to Stephens Capital Partners, a private equity group based in Little Rock, Arkansas, 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.

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Dave Grohl, Avicii and Afrojack: A Promoter's Approach to Booking Music at Sundance
 
Posted: 17 Jan 2013, 10:31 am
Park City Live is the only regularly operating nightclub in Park City, Utah, home of the Sundance Film Festival running Jan. 17-27, which will enter its second year of operation as a concert venue the day the festival begins. Here, Park City Live CEO Kathryn Burns talks about her first year promoting the venue.

Read the full article

............................................................



Dave Grohl, Avicii and Afrojack: A Promoter's Approach to Booking Music at Sundance
 
Posted: 17 Jan 2013, 10:31 am
Park City Live is the only regularly operating nightclub in Park City, Utah, home of the Sundance Film Festival running Jan. 17-27, which will enter its second year of operation as a concert venue the day the festival begins. Here, Park City Live CEO Kathryn Burns talks about her first year promoting the venue.

Read the full article

............................................................



Dave Grohl, Avicii and Afrojack: A Promoter's Approach to Booking Music at Sundance
 
Posted: 17 Jan 2013, 10:31 am
Park City Live is the only regularly operating nightclub in Park City, Utah, home of the Sundance Film Festival running Jan. 17-27, which will enter its second year of operation as a concert venue the day the festival begins. Here, Park City Live CEO Kathryn Burns talks about her first year promoting the venue.

Read the full article

............................................................



Ticketfly Expands Into Canada
 
Posted: 17 Jan 2013, 10:00 am
Ticketfly announced Thursday it has expanded into Canada by signing two of the country's top promoters, acquiring Prime Box Office ticketing company and securing some promoters and venues.

Read the full article

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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.

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LyricFind Partners with Gracenote, Gets Investment from Larry Marcus
 
Posted: 16 Jan 2013, 4:40 pm
LyricFind will now power all of Gracenote's lyric services as part of their new partnership, while BandPage director Larry Marcus will be providing his experience, and a personal investment, to the company.

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SoundExchange Distributions Grew 58% to $462 Million in 2012
 
Posted: 16 Jan 2013, 2:21 pm
SoundExchange distributed $462 million in digital performing royalties in 2012, a 58% increase over 2011, the organization announced Wednesday

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Lucian Grainge, Michael Lynton, 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

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Virtual Visionaries
 
Posted: 25 Nov 2012, 7:00 pm
Emilie Barta and John Pollard aim to take the fear out of planning hybrid events

More...


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All in the Planning
 
Posted: 11 Jul 2012, 8:00 pm

More...


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Take 10 - Conference Centers
 
Posted: 11 Jun 2012, 8:00 pm
Take 10 - Conference Centers

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Convention Center Contacts
 
Posted: 7 Jun 2012, 8:00 pm

More...


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Shiny and New
 
Posted: 7 Jun 2012, 8:00 pm

More...


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New School
 
Posted: 30 Apr 2012, 8:00 pm

More...


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Final Bow
 
Posted: 28 Mar 2012, 8:00 pm

More...


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IACC Makes Global Push; Criteria to 'Evolve'
 
Posted: 21 Mar 2012, 8:00 pm

More...


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Unlikely Customers
 
Posted: 28 Feb 2012, 7:00 pm

More...


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Convention Center Coming to Provo
 
Posted: 25 Jan 2012, 7:00 pm

More...


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Gambling Headed for Hawaii Conv. Center?
 
Posted: 24 Jan 2012, 7:00 pm

More...


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Las Vegas Conv. Center Adds Digital Signage Feature
 
Posted: 24 Jan 2012, 7:00 pm

More...


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A Duo of Conv. Centers Launches Free Wi-Fi
 
Posted: 23 Jan 2012, 7:00 pm

More...


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Anaheim Conv. Center Plans Expansion
 
Posted: 23 Jan 2012, 7:00 pm

More...


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IACC Board Sets New Service Standards
 
Posted: 30 Nov 2011, 7:00 pm

More...


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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.

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What You Need to Know About Simultaneous Interpretation
 
Posted: 16 Sep 2011, 4:54 pm
As more associations venture overseas, simultaneous interpretation is more important than ever. Two experts who have conducted events around the globe share their insights.

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Reduce Expenses for Meetings of Any Size
 
Posted: 16 Sep 2011, 4:51 pm
Even the largest associations sometimes have meetings that don't represent a lot of room nights, which can reduce your ability to negotiate with the host hotel. Here are nine tips to help you get the best deal for your next meeting, no matter how many attendees you have.

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Strategic Meeting Planning
 
Posted: 6 Jul 2011, 11:00 am
We use strategic planning in our everyday lives but often get too caught up in all the details to apply it effectively during the meeting planning process. Discover how to be truly strategic the next time you're planning an important meeting.

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New Models for Successful Convention Strategy
 
Posted: 6 Jul 2011, 10:56 am
There's more to meetings than good content and a nice location. An ASAE Fellow and association business strategy consultant shares his views on factors such as information needs, competing resources, and strategic barriers that impact attendance at association conventions and tradeshows.

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.

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Increase Exhibitor Engagement Without Increasing Your Budget
 
Posted: 6 Jul 2011, 10:49 am
Every association tradeshow is under pressure to increase traffic, but at what cost? Follow these strategies for increasing traffic and enhancing exhibitor loyalty without busting your budget.

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Letter From the Chair: ME Section Contributes to "199 Ideas" for Planners
 
Posted: 6 Jul 2011, 10:47 am
The Meetings & Expositions Section Council chair discusses the debut of an exciting new resource for association planners, provides a glimpse of the upcoming Annual Meeting & Exposition, and lends his perspective on the value of associations to society.

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Tips to Make Transportation at Your Conference Greener
 
Posted: 9 May 2011, 10:09 am
Greening meetings has come a long way in recent years, but you can take it to the next level with a little strategy and a lot of enthusiasm. Learn how to get your group actively involved in being a deeper shade of green.

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University Venues
 
Posted: 30 Apr 2011, 8:00 pm
Collegiate athletic venues are ideal for team building and spectator fun

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Convention Centers
 
Posted: 28 Feb 2011, 7:00 pm
Beyond the Box

More...


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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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Noteworthy - West November 2010
 
Posted: 31 Oct 2010, 8:00 pm

More...


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On Location - Convention Centers
 
Posted: 31 May 2010, 8:00 pm

More...


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University Venues
 
Posted: 30 Apr 2010, 8:00 pm
Campus Culture

More...


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Conference Centers
 
Posted: 31 Mar 2010, 8:00 pm

After a tough year, conference centers see better times ahead

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University Venues
 
Posted: 28 Feb 2010, 7:00 pm

Universities offer an exciting range of museum venues

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A Class Act
 
Posted: 30 Apr 2009, 8:00 pm

More...


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University Venues
 
Posted: 28 Feb 2009, 7:00 pm

More...


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Conference Centers
 
Posted: 31 Jan 2009, 7:00 pm

More...


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............................................................



Conference Centers
 
Posted: 31 Jan 2009, 7:00 pm
Conference Call

More...


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............................................................



Conference Centers
 
Posted: 31 Jan 2009, 7:00 pm

More...


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............................................................



Conference Call
 
Posted: 31 Dec 2008, 7:00 pm

More...


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Head of the Class
 
Posted: 30 Apr 2008, 8:00 pm

More...


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