Guss Heads to Olympia

19 Nov

Kasey C. Guss has joined Olympia Entertainment as production manager at Fox Theatre, Detroit. He had been the associate director at Breslin Center, East Lansing, Mich., a venue he operated alone after Cheryl Swanson left.

Guss began his new job Nov. 9, replacing Lee Rifield, who was promoted to booking manager. “It’s an exciting time to be here and a great opportunity,” Guss said. He began his career seven years ago at Show Me Center, Cape Girardeau, Mo., as operations manager before moving to Michigan. The Fox is his first non-university job and first in private management. — Linda Deckard and Dave Brooks


Interviewed for this article: Kasey Guss, (313) 471-3200



Alicia Keys Gives Red Light Management the Green Light

19 Nov

Recording artist Alicia Keys and her company AK Worldwide have partnered with Red Light Management to oversee Keys’ music career.

Contact: Tom Ennis, (646) 292-7465


Naming Rights Report: Oklahoma City Arena

18 Nov

Oklahoma City Arena, Oklahoma City

Date Announced: Oct. 23

Buyers: Under negotiation

Ownership/Tenant: Oklahoma City/SMG/Oklahoma City Thunder (NBA)

Comments: The former Ford Center in Oklahoma City will be temporarily known as Oklahoma City Arena.

“In August, our naming rights agreement with the Ford Dealers of Oklahoma terminated when we could not reach an agreement,” said Dan Mahoney, spokesman for the Oklahoma City Thunder. “We began the process of discussions with other potential naming rights partners, but at this point, there is nothing to report.”

The temporary name change was made on Oct. 23, and includes signage and the Web site.

Mahoney said he could not comment on why the deal fell through with the Ford dealers, nor on current negotiations with other companies.

The 19,711-seat venue opened in 2002.

Contact: Dan Mahoney, (405) 208-4800



SEVT “Conference Like No Other” Opens at Township Auditorium

18 Nov

From left Dennis Scanlon with eTix, Tammy Koolbeck with VenuWorks and SEVT lifetime achievement award winner Mike McGee pose for a photo at SEVT in Columbia, S.C.

REPORTING FROM COLUMBIA, S.C. — The Sport, Entertainment and Venues Tomorrow officially kicked off this evening with a reception at the newly renovated Township Auditorium.

The Sport, Entertainment and Venues Tomorrow conference is hosted in conjunction with the University of South Carolina’s Department of Sport & Entertainment Management and Venues Today magazine.

Panels at the three-day conference begin Thursday morning with an opening keynote address from Russ Simons, senior principal at Populous. Over two days, the conference will tackle a number of important issues in the live entertainment industry. On Friday at 9 a.m., Venues Today Publisher and Editor-In-Chief, Linda Deckard, will lead the panel “Success Stories: Women of Influence Reveal Their Secrets.” The panel features 2010 Venues Today Women of Influence Award Winners Tammy Koolbeck of VenuWorks, Liza Cartmell of Aramark and Christy Castillo-Butcher from Staples Center and the Nokia Theater at L.A. Live.

This is the third year Venues Today has co-produced SEVT and it continues to grow in numbers and relevance. “It is a conference like no other, with the mix of students, professors and professionals,” said Deckard. “On the ride in from the airport last night, I talked to the newest intern for Bob Skoney at Nashville Municipal Auditorium who is just embarking on her career, and today have caught up with such industry veterans as Bob Scanlon, eTix; Donna Dowless, XOXO Media, and Mich Sauers, Global Spectrum, all of whom commented on the chance to interact with tomorrow’s venue managers.”

“We have lots to learn from each other and a future to fashion and this is a great place to start,” she declared. “It’s a place to give back, of course, but it’s also a place to learn so much that is new and trendy. The next two days should prove most enlightening.”

To learn more about SEVT, visit — Dave Brooks


Fair Managers Discuss Incident Response During WFA Meet

17 Nov

Rick Pickering, Alameda County Fair, Pleasanton, talks with Judy Hostetter, Salinas Valley Fair, King City, Calif., during the WFA Fall Management Conference. (Photo by Kristen Bilanko)

REPORTING FROM SACRAMENTO — Curses can be turned into blessings, like the cell phones that are used to take impromptu video and photos of accidents and incidents being turned into a row of lights to direct people to the emergency exit. Handling crises was among topics for the Western Fairs Association/California Fairs Fall Management Conference here Nov. 2-4.

Cell phones were just such a blessing for Rick Pickering, Alameda County Fair, Pleasanton, Calif., during the yellow jacket incident. “We have 300 acres and 700 walnut trees. We want to keep our bees,” he said, but bees were taking the blame for a yellow jacket stinging spree that struck a portion of the audience at an evening event during the fair.

People were twittering and sending messages independent of the media on the grounds, most of whom did not know about the stinging until they got the call from the home office. When emergency workers sent out a mass casualty call, every ambulance and fire engine with screaming sirens and lights descended on the fairgrounds. Pickering was finally able to get the emergency personnel to silence the sirens and darken the lights by saying, “I believe they are stirring up the bees.” They were also distracting the crowds on the midway and the fairgrounds who had no stings and no concerns with the drama affecting so few.

Another lemons-to-lemonade moment was grabbing 100 bags of ice from a food booth, sticking them in the obligatory plastic gloves always available at concession stands and using them to ease the stings. “Use your imagination,” Pickering advised.

Norb Bartosik, California State Fair, Sacramento, suffered through a robbery during non-open hours of the fair. A substantial sum was stolen from the Ovations Food Services money room and the money has still not been recovered. The problem was that the entire grandstand, where the theft occurred, became a crime scene. Fortunately, it occurred after the fireworks and they were able to lock it down.

“Fairs are an instant city,” Bartosik noted, with all the potential problems and benefits of same. During the theft, the media was pretty much held at the back gate, but then they had the cow incident, also during non-open hours. A pregnant cow being off-loaded for the Nursery Tent exhibit went berserk, escaped confinement and was charging through the closed fairgrounds under vet and volunteer pursuit. The situation quickly spiraled downward and the cow was shot dead. A woman who worked for the fair videotaped the incident and sold it to the media.

The fair is now working with the University of California-Davis to develop a better containment program and to redefine who’s in charge.

The third incident discussed was a June 23 ride accident in which a carnival worker was injured on the Wacky Worm ride at the Sonoma-Marin Fair in Petaluma, Calif. CEO Patricia Conklin recalled that the media came in helicopters. “The biggest thing we did right was get ahead of the media,” she said. “Rumors were rampant, but we did interviews immediately. If the media thinks you’re hiding something, it’s over.”

“Say what you want to say and don’t let them suck you into the questions,” she advised. “I said our emergency plan worked; he’s alive; it was an industrial accident.” The ride opened again the next day. She also reminded everyone to contact OSHA within eight hours and all the panelists recommended that the Western Fairs Association and the International Association of Fairs & Expositions should be in the loop as soon as possible because the media will call them and their local fairs for comment. — Linda Deckard

Contacts: Norb Bartosik, (916) 263-3061; Rick Pickering, (925) 426-7600; Patricia Conklin, (707) 283-3247

VenuWorks Partners with Global Entertainment

16 Nov

VenuWorks, Inc. has announced a partnership with Global Entertainment Corporation in which VenuWorks will provide facility management as well as food and beverage services to future Global Entertainment facilities. Global Entertainment will provide construction and ticketing services. Contact: Tammy Koolbeck, (319) 929-5755


Camden Signs With DNC

16 Nov

Camden Yards, Baltimore

New Food Service Provider: Delaware North Companies

Date: Nov. 10

The Baltimore Orioles have signed a 12-year partnership with Delaware North’s Sportservice division to provide food services at Camden Yards including concessions, catering and retail. The deal replaces Aramark, which served the park since it opened in 1992.

Both the team and Delaware North will invest a combined $11 million to redesign and enhance the food and beverage operations, including a new point-of-sale system, new grills and more kiosks for fresh food preparation stations. Corporate Chef Roland Henin will be brought in to work with the organization.

Sportservice will also redesign the team’s retail store with new merchandise displays and an emphasis on year-round activity to boost interest in ballpark tours and visits to the Camden Yards museum. — Dave Brooks