Tag Archives: Arena

Update: Tornado Demolishes Rimrock Auto Arena in Billings, Mont.

24 Jun

A tornado ripped the roof off of Rimrock Auto Arena in Billings, Mt.

The tornado that tore through Billings, Mont., on Father’s Day (June 20) destroyed Rimrock Auto Arena at MetraPark, but no lives were lost. The arena had been host to 4,500 fans of the Billings Outlaws of the Indoor Football League just the night before, but was empty at the time of the tornado, said Sandra Hawke, venue marketing director.

She got the call about the 4:30 p.m. touchdown while preparing for a Father’s Day barbecue at her home 10 miles away. “We get the long views in Montana; we could watch it,” she said. On Monday, Bill Dutcher, manager, was meeting with insurance representatives and the National Guard and Billings police were controlling traffic and access.

Immediate concerns besides rebuilding included future bookings at the 35-year-old, $10 million, 10,800-seat arena. The repairs will be in the hundreds of millions, she said.

Hawke said on-sales included Brad Paisley, set for Sept. 26, and Carrie Underwood, Dec. 10, both of which will be refunded. Celtic Woman, set for Aug. 22, will most likely reschedule for up to three shows at the 1,400-seat Alberta Bair Theatre in town, Hawke said.

Concerts set for Rimrock Arena during the annual MontanaFair Aug. 13-21 will be moved to the outdoor grandstand, Hawke continued. Bookings include Jason Aldean, the Scorpions and Hinder and Finger Eleven.

The most immediate problem is Outlaws playoff games, which were to start June 27 at the arena. They will most likely have three playoff games and a championship remaining in the post season. The plan is to go forward with the games at their Sports Complex practice field. With risers, they can probably increase capacity to 1,500, well short of the projected attendance. The decision was made that it was most important to have home court advantage on an appropriate field, Hawke said.

Bookings also include the Antiques Road Show this Saturday, June 26, which Hawke said will still be held at the 77,400-square-foot Expo Center which was damaged in the tornado when debris broke through the roof. It is being repaired and the 28,800 square foot Montana Pavilion is being prepared for the preparation area where antiquers bring their valuables prior to being filmed on the show. Hawke said she pursued that booking for eight and a half years before they determined after a site visit last year that MetraPark could house the show. She intends to be there with her art nouveau antique vase from the 1890’s in hand. Space will be supplemented with tents, she added.

The AKC-sanctioned dog show June 22-24 is going on as planned in the Montana Pavilion, she said. “They’re as happy as clams.” Hawke has been calling them over for the press conference updates on the tornado damage and they have testified to the adequate accommodations and gained unexpected publicity for the event.

Cleanup efforts removing debris, including the six-inch roofing nails that were flattening tires on a lot of media vehicles that crossed into off-limits areas of the fairgrounds, were well underway Monday, Hawke said. The dog show crowd was already moving in with their motor homes Monday.

Several fortunate things happened in this midst of the devastation, she said. For one, the grounds were empty except for the maintenance man assigned to that day. Second, the power was already off to accommodate a lighting upgrade, so fire and electrocution were not a factor.

The roof was totally blown off Rimrock  Auto Arena and the water poured in, saturating everything. Hawke said eye witnesses said the tornado seemed to “park itself on top of the arena for 15 minutes. It was stripped down to block and steel.”

The management team was on site for three hours after the storm hit, Hawke said. Starplex Crowd Management, the security firm, secured the grounds and structure, with help from the National Guard.

Rimrock Arena was quite solid structurally and Hawke was guessing they would not rebuild from the ground up, but the damage was extensive. “We are fully insured,” she said, though there are always things lost that are not covered. The astroturf belonged to the Outlaws and that was ruined and the Billings Gazette had brought in lighting and equipment that was destroyed. “Personal things are all lost,” she said.

Hawke also noted the arena was highly functional for its age, with wide concourses, soft seats and good storage. “It works well; it’s just old,” she said. “We managed to hang Metallica, even with their load.”

The rebuild will bring some changes, including improved ADA compliance.

She emphasized that the fair will go on as planned, Aug. 13-21, with some adjustments to event sites. “I may change the theme to ‘raise the roof,’” she quipped. — Linda Deckard

Interviewed for this story: Sandra Hawke, (406) 256-2402


Ticketmaster Reorganizes

21 Jun

REPORTING FROM CHICAGO — Ticketmaster is deep into its reorganization plan now that it has merged with Live Nation Entertainment, and the details include Nathan Hubbard as the new president, from MusicToday and Live Nation Ticketing, with the troops organized by genre rather than region below Hubbard.Ticketmaster reps reviewed the company’s reorganization plans during the Event and Arena Marketing Conference here in a series of breakout sessions for sponsors. Kim Burgan, vice president, field marketing, West Hollywood, Calif., was on the spot.

While Ticketmaster was organized geographically in the past, with a series of regional vice presidents, the model is 30 years old, she said. The decision has been made to have five genre-specific groups. Those groups and the person or people in charge, along with their office location, include:

• Core Ticketmaster Venues: George Wood (Chicago), Don Orris (Los Angeles), Tom Worrall (Canada)

• National Basketball Association/National Hockey League teams and arenas: Jared Smith (Atlanta)

• Stadium & College Sports: Clay Luter (Dallas)

• Arts and Theatres: Marla Ostroff (New York)

• Small Venues and Attractions: Matt Shearer (MusicToday offices in Crozet, Va.)

“We will continue to have regional offices, but you may have a new rep,” Burgan said. The benefits include operational efficiencies and more consistency, she added. The diverse industry today requires specialized insights and a single point of control. Clients can also anticipate a deeper level of marketing support, she said.

Marketing resources will include Multi-channel Promotions, like many of the online and opt-in programs now offered; Client Marketing and Communications, which will be bringing new resources to the table; Partner Marketing/Advertising; and Merchandising and Reporting. “We will be able to give you more robust reporting,” she said, cautioning that “it won’t all happen overnight.”

The Marketing Services Team will be segmented as well, with three basic areas of expertise: Sports, Arts or Venues & Touring. The just-launched Marketing Resources Center will offer artist and show information updated constantly, with customer reviews, related links and video requests and TicketFast customization. — Linda Deckard

Contacts: Kim Burgan, (310) 360-2433; Jared Smith, jared.smith@ticketmaster.com

New Buildings: Lincoln Voters Approve New Arena Project.

21 May

Rendering of the new Haymarket Arena, Lincoln, Neb.

After a slow 12-month period, a new major collegiate arena has been announced, the first of its kind for this year.

On May 6, voters overwhelmingly approved a $25-million bond measure to help finance a $344-million arena in downtown Lincoln, Neb. The University of Nebraska men’s and women’s basketball teams will be the primary tenants for the 16,000-seat arena, paying annual rents of $750,000 plus expenses, while sharing in a number of ancillary revenues to give the Cornhuskers a modern arena.

The facility will essentially replace the SMG-managed Pershing Center, said GM Tom Lorenz, who was instrumental in working to pass the referendum.

“We’re still not sure what we’re going to do with the old facility,” he said. “The city is looking at several proposals, and we have contracts through early 2014, which is good because we’re not expecting the new arena to be completed until late 2013.”

SMG must bid for the management contract for the new facility, which could break ground as early as this summer, but more likely won’t start until mid-2011. The architect for the facility is national firm DLR, which designed the Qwest Center in Omaha.

“The plan is to host more concerts at the facility and we’re confident we’ll be able to route shows, based on the success of the Qwest Center, which is about 60 miles from here,” he said. “We’re expecting to get concerts that come through on their second leg of a tour, or perhaps they’ll play here first and hit Omaha when they come back through.”

On Tuesday, voter’s approved an initiative to divert 70 percent of a local sales tax to raise $25 million in bonds for the project. Most of the $344 million project will be paid by a new two percent tax on restaurants and four percent tax on hotels and rental cars near the Haymarket Center, where the facility is to be built.

“It’s actually quite a developed area already, surrounded by bars and restaurants,” said Lorenz. Once a bustling warehouse district, site for the trading of commodities like wheat and hay, the downtown area has been transformed in recent years into a highly trafficked retail district known as the Haymarket Center.

The new arena will have 32 suites, a first for the men’s and women’s basketball teams, and the university and the city are currently finalizing a memorandum of understanding to split money from the suites, naming rights, concessions and merchandise. They’ll also be able to tap into some sales tax monies to help pay the rent. The university will be responsible for picking up expenses resulting from game day operations. — Dave Brooks

Interviewed for this article: Tom Lorenz, (402) 441-8744

Podcast Episode Three Notes

7 May

Venues Podcast

Episode 3 – Music City Underwater

Broadcast date: May 7

This week, Shawn and Dave take a look at the devastating floods that have soaked Nashville and much of the Middle Tennessee region, and we update listeners on the condition of some of Music City’s greatest venues. We also tackle the NBA & NHL Playoffs, with Dave longing for days when the Sacramento Kings were a Western Conference force to be reckoned with, while Shawn explains the nature of the Montreal Canadiens french-influenced nickname. We also tackle tazings in Philly, the economics of the body slam and a possible sports boycott in Arizona. Don’t ask us to our papers cause we left them in the studio.

:50 Playoffs. Playoffs? – Shawn and Dave break down the second round of the NBA playoffs with matchups between the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Boston Celtics, as well as matchups for Phoenix, Los Angeles and Orlando. In Hockey, the pair gab on the Penguins/Canadiens series and Sharks/Red Wings.

4:50 Amway Part Duex – Orlando’s new Amway Arena, set to open for the beginning of the 2010/2011 season, has been rewarded the 2011 NBA All-Star Game.

Music – Nino Moschello, If You Believe (You Will Be Strong)

6:35 Three Dimensions of Fun — DirectTV and YES Networks air 3D broadcast of Yankees/Mariners Game. Baseball is first to air a game in three-dimensions, but Shawn and Dave wonder if the experience needs to be improved before it expands

9:20 The Scrilla — Earnings Reports for WWE, and Live Nation debt-restructuring. Is the newly merged music giant overleveraged?

Music — Broken Bells, “October”

13:26 FEATURE STORY — Music City underwater. A 500-year flood kills over 20 mid-Tennessee residents and destroys a number of Music City venues including the city’s largest meeting center, the Grand Opryland resort. We check in with LP Field, Bridgestone Arena and the Country Music Hall of Fame.

More: VT Nashville Venues Report

Music — Kitty Wells, “Searching (For Someone Like You)”

18:04 Show Me Your Papers — Dave and Shawn break down the impact of Arizona’s crackdown on illegal immigration. Are the Los Suns here to stay? Will Arizona lose the Mid-Summer Classic. Will Shakira help us figure this out before it’s too late?

More: ABC News report on potential boycotts of the Grand Canyon State

Music — Manu Chao, “Clandestino”

24:18 Go Out or Stay Home – Shawn picks Free Energy & Jukebox, drops a diss-bomb on this year’s Ozzfest lineup. Dave says grab tickets for Country Throwdown tour, but skip MGMT run (and see Phoenix instead)

Music – Phoenix, “Fences”

28:50 Can I Dad? Please! — Philly fan changes game day operations by running out on the field, only to be stopped by a tazer? Are there any boundaries for MLB when it comes to taking people off the field (besides busting a cap). And why did this particular fan call his dad first for permission before charging the green.

More: ESPN video of Philly Fan getting tasered

Music – Pink Floyd, “The Happiest Days of Our Lives”

Soundcheck — Intern Jessica Boudevin announces the new Roger Water’s tour for famed Pink Floyd album “The Wall.”

– The End –

Recording date: May 6

Commentary by Dave Brooks, senior writer and assignment editor for Venues Today Magazine, and Shawn Gault, owner of Venue Gurus.