Tag Archives: AEG

KFC Yum! Center Hosts a Diverse and Strong Opening Month

11 Nov

Opening concert with the Eagles, Oct. 16 at the KFC Yum! Center in Louisville, Ky.

Besides the normal superstar concerts and college basketball, the first operating month of the $238 million, 22,000-seat KFC Yum! Center, Louisville, Ky., has featured more than the usual number of tours, meetings and catered functions.

The arena’s opening concert was the Eagles, Oct. 16, booked through AEG Facilities, which has a venue services agreement there with the Louisville Arena Authority.  The Eagles sold out the first day of the on-sale at over 16,000 seats. The band, which likes to open arenas, went on at 8 p.m., played an hour, then came back after intermission for another two-hour set.

Harold Workman, president and CEO of the Kentucky State Fair Board and president of the Authority, said the grand opening week budget was $400,000 and “we tried to spend it all.”  The ribbon cutting was Oct. 10, and that day featured an unusually high 96 degrees on the plaza, he said, noting everyone melted, but that’s about the extent of the bad news. The business there has been heating up ever since.

The black tie gala fundraiser for the arts, Oct. 14, drew about 1,400 people and was priced at $100 a ticket.

Dennis Petrullo, on-site manager for AEG Facilities, at the Louisville facilities, listed confirmed bookings: You Think You Can Dance, My Morning Jacket, Justin Bieber, Dane Cook, The Judds, WWE, Harlem Globetrotters, Brad Paisley, Lady Gaga, Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus,  George Strait, Larry the Cable Guy, Cirque du Soleil, and Disney on Ice.

AEG is also booking Freedom Hall and Broadbent Arena on the Kentucky State Fairgrounds. Petrullo said Freedom Hall was averaging six to eight concerts a year, but it wasn’t an annual play for the family shows and often wasn’t available for concerts.

Petrullo projected that Yum! Center will host north of 100 major events its first year, including 22 University of Louisville men’s basketball games, 22 women’s basketball games, other university events, 27-28 family show nights and more than 20 concerts.

Linda Edwards, Fair Board VP of sales and marketing, has already booked 34 meetings and catered events through the end of the year for KFC Yum! Center, half of that entirely new business. As to big business, she and staff have booked five religious conventions, beginning in July 2011 through 2014, all of which will use the entire arena plus the nearby Kentucky International Convention Center. They needed both buildings to fit in Louisville. Her calculations show convention and conference bookings so far account for 76,000 room nights and a $25 million economic impact to downtown.

“We’ll shoot past that buck-fifty based on conventions and other events alone,” said Eric Bresler, AEG Facilities VP, of annual bookings. “Because of the arena’s location, it’s another asset as part of the convention center.”

Public tours of the new arena were an unmitigated success, drawing locals and tourists, Workman said. The authority first scheduled two days of public tours, limiting capacity to 1,000 per hour and requiring participants to acquire a free ticket through Ticketmaster or the arena box office, Workman said. Those two days sold out and two more were added. Workman said an additional 20 or 30 groups plus sponsor tours swelled the number who clamoured to see the new arena. “It was very gratifying. We knew the arena was popular, but you never know how many want to come in until you offer it.”

The arena is located downtown on the Ohio River, only two blocks from the Kentucky International Convention Center and connected by skywalk to the 1,200-room Galt House. The KFC Yum! Center lobby is open daily and the continued tour requests are considered individually. There is a merchandise store and the University of Louisville Hall of Honor to see in the lobby.

Location is having a huge impact on bookings, Workman said. The arena has 32,000 sq. ft. of meeting space, a lot of it with views of the river.

Workman thinks Freedom Hall, which is located on the state fairgrounds and lost the most business to the new arena, mainly university basketball, will also be helped the most in the long run. The Yum! Center is attracting a lot of business Freedom Hall could never accommodate, like National Collegiate Athletic Association events, including the 2012 first and second rounds of Division I basketball and the 2012 Volleyball Final Four, Workman said.

The NCAA bookings are a direct result of listening to the association regarding amenities, including designing the practice court on the same level as the main arena floor, so it is a short trip for players, he said. In addition, the practice court is wired to be converted into an overflow media room for major athletic events.

Workman noted the venue has a full IPTV system and the latest in broadcast production capabilities.

Freedom Hall has traditionally been a very busy building, with 230 event days a year, Workman said. One problem had been availability, because University of Louisville basketball is in the Big East conference and does not receive play dates for November-February until Sept. 15. With that block of dates back in the mix early on, the venue has considerably more availabilities to book.

“We have options,” Workman said. The fair’s Broadbent Arena is also seeing a boost in bookings because that 7,500-seat capacity seems to be a sweet spot.

“We’ve already expanded the market and we’ll wind up tripling the number of concerts in Freedom Hall and Broadbent in the first year,” Petrullo predicted. “We now have multiple year contracts on the family shows.”

“The new venue represents an opportunity to grow the business,” Bresler said. “Diversity has happened.”

Centerplate has the concessions contract and has subcontracted with Fame for merchandise sales. The arena does not control parking. — Linda Deckard

Interviewed for this story: Harold Workman, (502) 367-5114; Dennis Petrullo, (502) 595-4381; Eric Bresler, (213) 453-8665; Linda Edwards, (502) 367-5160



Goldberg and Team Assess AEG Ticketing

26 Oct

David Goldberg

Longtime Ticketmaster executive David Goldberg has joined AEG as a consultant reviewing future ticketing options for the Anschutz sports and entertainment empire.

He’s working on a business plan with a team of experienced pros, including Blaine Legere, who used to be at Ticketmaster and is now at AEG “helping in every area of ticketing operations, interfacing with Ticketmaster and helping me out; and Brian Pike, who used to be the chief technology officer for Ticketmaster and is also helping in a consulting fashion similar to myself.” Goldberg added that he has availed himself of “bits and pieces of other people’s time” in his quest to “assess the landscape” of ticketing today for AEG.

The process began mid-summer after the Live Nation-Ticketmaster merger was okayed by the Department of Justice, which included stipulations that AEG would be given the rights to independently license the Ticketmaster software and create its own ticketing company, either with Ticketmaster software, or eventually another company’s software or maybe a combination of the two. (VT Pulse, Jan. 27, 2010)

During all the hubbub, Goldberg was running publically-traded YouBet.com, which was sold in June. “I stayed close with Tim [Leiweke] and Randy [Phillips] and John Meglen and all my friends at AEG over the years and obviously there has been a lot of change in the ticketing and concert promotion industry since I was away running YouBet.com,” Goldberg said. “While I had the good fortune of just selling a business and didn’t particularly want a job, enjoying my time off, I couldn’t help but be intrigued by the situation they find themselves in and the opportunity to come in on a consulting basis to help evaluate the opportunities they have at hand.”

Goldberg called this a “unique point in time,” seeing an “industry in flux to some degree, and from that oftentimes is born opportunity, but sometimes status quo is okay, too. This was an interesting intellectual opportunity to help out some friends and see what the landscape looks like today.”

He said there is no timeframe on producing a business plan for AEG. His first task is determining the landscape in ticketing and at AEG where there are a lot of different needs and stakeholders, including sports teams, facilities, concert promotion, sponsorship, and premium sales. “Every one of those constituencies has various needs and wants from ticketing and all areas of the business. For me, I need to understand the wants and needs internally so I can look externally at what fits those needs.”

Goldberg started in the business in the early 90s as a talent buyer at Jam Productions in Chicago, then worked for Ticketmaster out of the Chicago office doing interactive startups in the music and sports space. In 2003, he moved to Los Angeles to work for Ticketmaster “running corporate development and business development strategies, sales and marketing and a host of other areas.” In 2008, he became CEO at Youbet.com.

He has seen a lot of changes in ticketing. “Back in the day it was outlets and phones that mattered. It’s all internet these days. With that change has come a change in necessary expertise and skill sets. The internet is a great equalizer of distribution. Anyone can have a website. That doesn’t mean selling tickets is easy. There are very few people that have a greater respect for what Ticketmaster has built, having been on the inside,” Goldberg said.  — Linda Deckard

Contact: David Goldberg, david.goldberg@live.com


Independence Events Center Goes Independent

25 Oct

An early concert at Independence (Mo.) Events Center draws good crowds.

After just under a year of private management in the Global Entertainment Corp. network, the 6,500-seat, $68 million Independence (Mo.) Events Center, which opened in 2009, is reverting to city management.

The city and GEC parted company amicably, according to Allen Garner, city counselor. GEC asked out of the contract. The city has hired the existing staff, including General Manager Mike Young, who is an experienced facility manager, having previously been at Kemper Arena in Kansas City, Mo., where he worked for the city, Global Spectrum and AEG as management changed there.

GEC subsidiaries also leaving Independence include Global Food Services and GetTix. Food has been taken in-house with Jim Cundiff still in charge. GetTix is being replaced by Ticketmaster. That transition is underway.

The city has created Independence Events Center LLC to operate the arena, Young said. Garner explained that the arena is a separate revenue stream, not under the city budget. Community Improvement District (CID) bonds were used to build the arena and to establish a first year operating reserve, Garner said. Those reserves have been drawn down. The bonds will now be repaid through a sales tax on surrounding businesses. Ideally, the arena will operate on generated income, with a surplus dedicated to maintenance and capital improvements. CID revenue in the first nine months was $3,335,034.

In the first nine months of operation, event revenue for the main ice floor was approximately $2.2 million not including concession revenue, Garner said. Total revenue for the Centerpoint Community Ice Rink was approximately $604,000 with approximately $286,000 in expenses. That rink is adjacent to the events center and provides community ice time.

The net operating loss the first year exclusive of concession revenue was approximately $710,000, Garner said. The venue hosted 35 Missouri Maverick’s hockey games, six concerts, and 12 sporting or family events, with a total of 185,486 attendees at the events, averaging 3,500 per event.

The Missouri Mavericks Central Hockey League team will be joined by a new tenant, Major Indoor Soccer League’s Missouri Comets, this season, with the first of 12 games set for Nov. 12, Young said. The team is the old Kansas City Comets, with new ownership. The Kansas City Comets played for more than 20 years at Kemper Arena, but went on hiatus in 2006.

Young is budgeting for 130 ticketed events in fiscal 2011. Among events the arena has promoted or co-promoted are Curious George, Celtic Woman, Goo Goo Dolls, and Larry the Cable Guy. “We’re a mid-size venue. We fill a niche,” Young said.

“Part of what we hope to do in changing management is eliminate all the costs we can,” Garner said. Going forward, the city views the LLC as part of a transition. “We run everything through the LLC to capture things, to be sure we know what the score is.” The future may settle into continued self-operation, some sort of new private management deal, or a combination, he said. The immediate concern was a seamless transition for customers and clients. The venue continues to tout free parking and great seats to market to what Garner called “a community delighted with the arena.” — Linda Deckard

Interviewed for this story: Mike Young, (816) 795-7577, X202; Allen Garner, (816) 325-7216

Live Nation Arenas Signs First Deal with Conseco Fieldhouse

18 Oct

Celebrating at the Eagles concert, booked at Conseco Fieldhouse, Indianapolis, under a new management consultant agreement with Live Nation Arenas, are Conseco’s Rick Fuson; Live Nation Entertainment Chairman Irving Azoff; Rick Franks, Live Nation Detroit; Live Nation Arenas President Mike Evans; Live Nation’s Marty Bechtold, and Collin Hodgson, Frontline Management.

As of Oct. 1, Live Nation Arenas has become the management consultant at Conseco Fieldhouse, Indianapolis, working for Pacers Sports & Entertainment of the National Basketball Association. Live Nation has hired Marty Bechtold as the man on the ground.

Bechtold had the same role with AEG Facilities, which signed a similar, now expired deal in 2007. The first event there under the new agreement with Live Nation Arenas was an Eagles concert held last night.

The management consultant agreement calls on Live Nation Arenas to “drive content and drive revenue,” said Mike Evans, president of Live Nation Arenas.
This marks a new era for Live Nation Entertainment and its Arenas division and is not limited to booking and promoting events. The arena continues to be open to all promoters, Evans said.

“It does not mean clean the floor, but anything that has to do with booking, marketing, production, ticketing, suites, sponsorships, merchandise and food and beverage” is now in the sights of Live Nation Arenas. They will work with Levy Restaurants, arena concessionaire, and Ticketmaster, arena ticketing firm, and, of course, the Pacers organization. Each contract, Evans noted, will vary in its areas of responsibility.

“Rick Franks in our Detroit office is focused on a region. I am focused on one building now,” Evans said. “Rick Fuson (arena executive director) now has a senior person at Live Nation lobbying for Conseco Fieldhouse.”

Live Nation Entertainment has an amphitheater in the market, Verizon Wireless Music Center, Noblesville, Ind., with Dan Kemer and Tom Mendenhall on board there. Irving Azoff, CEO of Live Nation Entertainment, “is very supportive” of the new outreach and has a history in private management from the L.A. Coliseum and Sports Arena days when he had a piece of the action there through MCA Concerts. “We own 167 properties (amphitheaters and clubs). The concept of total management is not foreign to us,” Evans said of Live Nation.

Evans said he talks to arena managers daily and concerns tend to be about lack of content and what the future will hold. Evans spent years booking SMG-managed venues, at which time he was more focused on secondary markets. It is no secret that Live Nation Entertainment is focused on major markets. “The major arenas are my audience,” he said. Evans has numerous contacts in all aspects of venues and entertainment and said his job is to get the act to the door, at which point the building makes the deal to get them inside.

With Ticketmaster as an affiliated company, Evans noted Live Nation is prepared, when asked, to consult on ticketing issues, like season ticket packages and future technology. There are nine Live Nation Entertainment regional offices.

Evans emphasized this is not an exclusive booking deal for Live Nation, something that basically spawned the promoter industry 40 years ago. He has a number of holds from AEG Live; he has reached out to Outback Concerts and to Don Fox and to William Morris Endeavor regarding their family shows. He’s trying to lasso a major PBR event for Conseco Fieldhouse in January.

As to priorities, he said, “Yes, we own amphitheaters, but that’s basically a May to September business. We can’t be a summertime business. We have to spread it out over the year.” — Linda Deckard

Interviewed for this story: Mike Evans, (610) 784-5447

Naming Rights Report: Valley View Casino Center, San Diego

16 Oct

Date Announced: Oct. 12


Buyers: San Pasqual Development Group, Inc.

Terms: 5 years, with two one-year options, financial terms not released

City of San Diego/AEG/Kobey Swap Meet

Comments: As of Nov. 1, the San Diego Sports Arena has a new name — Valley View Casino Center — to go with its $3 million renovation. The buyer is the San Pasqual Development Group, Inc., the gaming corporation of the San Pasqual tribe which owns and operates the casino and hotel complex in North San Diego County.

“They saw branding opportunities and an ability to get a bunch of customers to special events en masse,” said Ernie Hahn, general manager there for AEG. “They saw an iconic building in downtown San Diego — everybody knows where it is — and that they could help rebrand $3 million in improvements and make both brands better.”

Valley View Casino & Hotel’s marketing efforts have been consistently strong throughout San Diego and of late throughout the entire Southern California region. They are opening a new hotel addition on Nov. 19. The property will now market the Valley View Casino Center alongside its casino and hotel brand.

The venue’s renovation included the addition of a 6,500-sq.-ft. VIP hospitality space, Club 3500, new lower level seats, LCD televisions throughout, an upgraded concourse and arena entrances.

Hahn said the deal includes signage, which will be switched out over the next four to six weeks. The casino will also receive a number of passes to Club 3500.

“An important part of the contract was that in the first year, we will redo the parking lot,” Hahn said. “It is a big endeavor, but at the same time, it will be better for people who come here, and for the Kobey Swap Meet. You can only patch and stripe so many times, when people arrive here, it is the one thing they look at that needs additional help.” — Liz Boardman

Contact: Ernie Hahn, (619) 225-9813


AEG Inks Deals in Glasgow and Paris

29 Sep

Glasgow (Scotland) Arena and Paris Bercy Arena

Contractor: AEG Facilities

Dates: Sept. 21 & Sept. 16

AEG Facilities has signed agreements with two more facilities in Europe: the Scottish National Arena in Glasgow and the Bercy Arena in Paris.

AEG will offer a host of management services for the yet-to-be-completed Glasgow arena, part of the 64-acre Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre, including suite sales, sponsorship and programming and environmental consulting.

“The nice thing about our growth in Europe is that this is another addition to our vision of connecting the major capital markets of the world into a working network,” said Bob Newman, who heads up AEG Facilities. “You can see the puzzle that is coming together is a great mix of major markets.”

AEG has also signed to provide consulting services during the tender process for a significant renovation of the Paris Bercy Arena, a 26-year-old arena that hosts both hockey and major touring performances.

“We’re in the initial phases of studying what can be done, and what the options are,” Newman said. “We plan to touch every area of the venue, from the exterior through the roof with a whole new menu of premium offerings. The great thing about the venue is that it’s not land-locked” and they can make major changes to the exterior as well.

AEG Live brought Euroleague Final Four Basketball to the facility in May. — Dave Brooks

Interviewed for this article: Dan Meis, (310) 963-9633; Bruce Mactaggart, +64 9358 1250; Bob Newman, (213) 763-5425

Nine Shows Blow Out at Shanghai Arena

17 Sep

John Cappo, president and CEO of AEG China, stands before the Mercedes Benz Arena, Shanghai, which has been hosting 50,000 people a day at the World Expo, which ends Oct. 31.

“The spaceship has landed,” said an enthusiastic John Cappo, president and CEO of AEG China, over the success of the first multi-date concert on-sales for China and for the 18,000-seat, $400 million Mercedes Benz Arena, Shanghai.

The arena, currently site of a World Expo musical, will host the World Expo closing ceremonies Oct. 31, after which it will be turned over to AEG China to run commercially. The first concert there will be Nov. 19, when Faye Wong ends her five-year hiatus from touring and performs the first of five shows at the Mercedes Benz Arena.

“This reminds me a lot of the O2 in London when we put Scissor Sisters and Bon Jovi on sale and we blew through two or three days quickly. We knew we would sell two or three nights in Shanghai, but we’re a little awed that we sold out nine straight nights in less than a day and probably could have sold out 12 or 13 easily,” declared Tim Leiweke, CEO, AEG.

“I think clearly what it indicates is that the Mercedes Benz Arena is going to be like the Garden (New York), the O2 in London or Staples Center (Los Angeles) — iconic, world class and one of those capital markets that are must-play buildings now for everybody.”

The nine shows include five by Wong and four by Jacky Cheung, with the possibility of adding a fifth. The on-sale was Sept. 15. “Now you’re going to want to play Tokyo, you may want to play a market like Macao, you may want to play Hong Kong, but you have to play Mercedes Benz Arena,” Leiweke said.

Tickets for Wong were sold by Yong Le, the promoter’s chosen ticketing company, Cappo said. The on-sale marks the first five-show run ever for a Chinese artist and Chinese venue, Cappo said.

Cheung’s dates are promoted by Fun Entertainment and tickets are handled by Piao.com.cn. There is no national ticket company in China, Cappo said. Artists and promoters pick their own.

That fact fits nicely into yet another AEG initiative, its own ticketing company. Leiweke confirmed that AEG hired about half a dozen ticketing pros three months ago with the charge to forge a business plan that will allow AEG to sell its own tickets worldwide, a prospect that includes 20 million tickets and growing. That would certainly work in China, he said. The plan is to be presented by the end of the year.

Meanwhile, in Shanghai, Cheung’s run begins Dec. 1. He will also perform at the AEG-managed Wukesong Arena in Beijing. Those tickets go on sale next week, Cappo said, and will hopefully continue the multi-date tradition.

China has not had the luxury of air-conditioned, modern arenas with all the amenities, Cappo said. Most artists have performed outdoors at stadiums, some not so comfortable. The public is responding well to the concept of first-class entertainment venues, evidenced by the fact they are willing to pay the price. The average ticket price is about $100, Cappo said. “This is a new lifestyle destination.”

Mercedes Benz Arena is part of a complex, not unlike London’s 02, also an AEG-managed, iconic arena. Cappo said the complex includes a six-screen movie theater, an ice hockey rink, 20,000 sq. ft. of retail and a music club where artists will perform, sign autographs and hang out before and after shows.

The arena also has 82 suites, all sold out for the World Expo, with about 15 percent left to be sold after Expo. By the end of the World Expo, 8 million people will have passed through the Mercedes-Benz Arena in one year.

“We knew that Shanghai was much more of a marketplace that was into live entertainment. But they’ve never had a facility. The fact that eight million people will go through the arena during the World Expo is awe-inspiring and requires probably some new tile. We always knew that Shanghai and the Mercedes Benz Arena were going to be the capital building for live entertainment in all of Asia,” Leiweke said.

After the initial concerts is the official grand re-opening of the Mercedes Benz Arena on Jan. 15 with a multi-act package. Cappo said AEG has budgeted for 45-50 shows in the first year of commercial operation but, given that he has 26 events contracted from November to February, he expects to exceed that. “We will over-perform our expectations,” he said.

He is talking to several promoters about a boxing event and has booked a dog show and several corporate events. Walking with Dinosaurs is also scheduled for 2011.

NBA China is a minority partner in Shanghai, but will not have an exhibition game or team in that facility the first year. Shanghai Media Entertainment Group is the lead partner.

“We’re feeling awful good about our investment today,” Leiweke said, including the fact that they now have eight founding partners, also a sellout. “It is gratifying. This is a new idea, a new concept and a new economic model over there.” — Linda Deckard

Interviewed for this story: John Cappo, +86 21 612 63088; Tim Leiweke, (213) 741-7101; Michael Roth, (213) 742-7155