Tag Archives: arenas

Michael Jackson Arena Show Details Emerge

6 Nov

The storyboard for Michael Jackson The Immortal World Tour centers around “The Giving Tree.”

The Michael Jackson arena show, a collaboration between the Estate of Michael Jackson and Cirque du Soleil, now has a name, a director and an on-sale date. To be called “Michael Jackson The Immortal World Tour,” it opens, as do all Cirque shows, at the Bell Centre, Montreal, a year from now (Oct. 2-3, 2011). To date, 28 shows in 2 markets have been announced.

Finn Taylor, GM Arena Shows for Cirque, said the North American tour is 95 percent booked and will involve at least 30 or 40 more shows. In the second year, it will play Europe. The routing plan is similar to all Cirque productions. “We’re looking at a three-year world tour,” Taylor said.  And like all Cirque shows, it can stay on the road like a family show production, without concern for the late celebrity’s stamina.

Unlike other arena shows he books, however, this one does not involve scaled down venues, usually in the 4,500-5,000 seat range for a traditional Cirque arena show. In fact, he is looking at 15,000 or more seats for most dates. “This is a full arena show.”

“From a production point of view, it’s like a Michael Jackson concert with an end stage,” Taylor said. “You will walk in the arena and feel like you’re at a concert.” The choreography and music, therefore, will be relevant to Jackson, with Cirque creativity to enhance it.

The writer and director is Jamie King, who has spent the past 12 years as Madonna’s creative director. He also directed Rihanna’s Last Girl On Earth world tour, Celine Dion’s Taking Chances world tour, The Return of the Spice Girls reunion tour, Britney Spears’ Circus tour and Avril Lavigne’s Best Damn tour. This is his first collaboration with Cirque, but not with Michael Jackson. King worked with Jackson in his early years.

The Immortal World Tour will benefit from access to Jackson’s entire catalog of music, videos and costumes, King said. The late Michael Jackson will be the “narrator” through recordings and lyrics he left behind. Sixty dancers and singers will tell a fairytale story set in Jackson’s Neverland, using his “iconic industrial looks” for costumes and his own voice singing lead. “Michael was a huge fan of Cirque,” King added, but no one can sing Michael Jackson like Michael Jackson. The “Giving Tree,” positioned as the wellspring of Michael Jackson’s creativity, is the centerpiece of the story.

The goal is to “contaminate” the audience, King’s phrase for engage. Pyrotechnics and flying people are a matter of course.

There will be no impersonators, King guaranteed. The show is theatrical, with the spectacular effects that make the live concert experience and Cirque shows so popular with patrons. King compared it, in size, to Madonna’s last tour, the heaviest and biggest he’s ever produced before. “Imagine people overhead doing the moonwalk,” he said, adding that’s not necessarily in the show.

Taylor said the show will probably move in 25 trucks. In addition to the 60 artists, there will be 60 in the crew. The smallest arena on the tour is the 12,000-seat Mandalay Bay Events Center, Las Vegas, where it will play a few dates during the holidays, Taylor said. It does not have anything to do with Cirque’s Michael Jackson show planned for Mandalay Bay’s theater, to open in 2013. “The Vegas shows are much different shows; the theater is custom-built,” he noted.

Ticket prices for Michael Jackson The Immortal World Tour range from a VIP price of $250 to a general public option of $50. First shot at purchase goes to Cirque Club members or MichaelJackson.com subscribers, both free to join. The presale runs from Nov. 3-6 and tickets go on sale to the general public Nov. 6.

A coordinated, global public relations campaign Nov. 3 had King and other principles doing media interviews while the arenas on the tour sent press releases to their lists and the two online clubs launched the pre-sale offer.

Merchandise will be handled by Bravado, the Jackson estate merchandiser. Creative support for King comes from Cirque’s Guy Laliberte, creative guide; Chantal Tremblay, director of creation; Mark Fisher, set designer; Saldy Goco, costume designer; Kevin Antunes, musical designer; Martin Labrecque, lighting designer; Olivier Goulet, projection and video content designer; Francois Desjardines, sound designer; Scott Osgood, rigging and acrobatic equipment designer; Germain Guillemot, acrobatic performance designer; and Michael Curry, props designer.

Tour dates so far include: Scotiabank Place, Ottawa, Ont., Oct. 7; Copps Coliseum, Hamilton, Ont., 12; Joe Louis Arena, Detroit, 15; John Labatt Centre, London, Ont., 18; Air Canada Centre, Toronto, 21; MTS Centre, Winnipeg, Manitoba, 26; Credit Union Centre, Saskatoon, Sask., 29; Rexall Place, Edmonton, Alta., Nov. 1; Rogers Arena, Vancouver, B.C., 4; KeyArena, Seattle, 9; Rose Garden, Portland, Ore., 18; EnergySolutions Arena, Salt Lake City, 29; and Mandalay Bay Events Center, Las Vegas, Dec. 3-11.

The 2012 dates announced include: Pepsi Center, Denver, Jan. 6; Arena, Sacramento, Calif., 10; HP Pavilion at San Jose, Calif., 13; Oracle Arena, Oakland, Calif., 18; Valley View Casino Center, San Diego, 21; Honda Center, Anaheim, Calif., 24; Staples Center, Los Angeles, 27; Toyota Center, Houston, Feb. 10; AmericanAirlines Arena, Miami, March 2; Colisée Pepsi, Quebec City, 24; Madison Square Garden, New York, April 3; Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia, 10; and Philips Arena, Atlanta, June 29.

The two producing entities will each own 50 percent of each Michael Jackson project, sharing equally in the cost of creating, developing, building and producing the projects and in the profits from each project. A typical Cirque production costs in the range of $15 million. This will be more.

The Estate of Michael Jackson will also receive royalty payments on various aspects of its intellectual property used in the Michael Jackson projects. Cirque du Soleil is the tour promoter. The show will rehearse at Cirque headquarters in Montreal. Dress rehearsal will be at the Bell Centre. —   Linda Deckard

Interviewed for this story: Finn Taylor and Jamie King, (514) 723-7646


Marshall Ruminates on Ticket Prices and Arena Amenities

30 Aug

Barrie Marshall, Rachel Thomas and Terry Pouchain backstage in the Paul McCartney camp at the Consol Energy Center (VT Photo).

REPORTING FROM PITTBURGH — Venues Today sat down with Barrie Marshall, Marshall Arts, at the last booking of Paul McCartney’s 15-truck, eight-bus Up & Coming Tour Aug. 18 and 19 at the grand opening of the Consol Energy Center. Marshall, who sold 49 percent of his company to AEG, is a veteran of the industry and a free thinker, working with all promoters and several artists, chief among them being McCartney.

This is the last of Paul McCartney’s dates for this tour. How has it gone?

He played two Hollywood Bowls, Miami, Puerto Rico…25 shows since the beginning of the year, drawing 600,000 attendance. We work with all promoters. A promoter has to take great pride in what he or she does and live in the community. I think the independent promoter, who lives in the community, will come back. It will come with fresh music, different loyalties. Artists are very loyal to those who are with them when they are not successful.

The climate for touring is not good. Have you had to make any adjustments this year?

It’s not good, no. I think we all had a wakeup call. We’ve got to remember we’re in this business because we’re lucky enough to serve brilliant and talented artists and people are kind enough to pay quite a lot of money to see them. Music is memories, in my opinion. We have to remind ourselves we’re in an economic recession and most people have had a realignment of employment and revenues. Agents, artists, managers and promoters have to look at the ticket price and what’s affordable and readjust their thinking about the income that can be made. It’s an interesting problem because all artists try to achieve a better show than they played last time. They therefore usually look to high definition video and production levels to make it better for the audience, which is admirable. However, when you strip away the lights and the LED screens and all that, it’s all about the artist’s music. I think people go to see concerts to physically enjoy being in the same room with the artist. That’s what concerts are about, a pure relationship between the person and their artist.

How can we improve that relationship on tour?

One is to be clear what we charge for tickets and what the add-on charges are. Irving Azoff has put the Eagles out in an all-inclusive ticket like the old days. That’s not a bad idea. I did that in the old days and I’m certainly looking at it now. The issue is not necessarily the price of the ticket…it’s making it clear how much you’ve got to pay as a face value. This one is $250 down to $59.50, but that’s without the service fees. The facility fee here is five percent. I think it will be all inclusive in the future where I can make it work by sitting down with the people in charge and deciding what that number and what that fee are and then incorporating it into the ticket, hopefully using an economy of scale.

Has Paul cut back in any way on this tour?

Not really, yet. He’s very conscious of the downturn, but it hasn’t honestly affected his business. We’re proud to say he does give a great show, two and a half hours long every night and four decades of music. He is an event. He doesn’t play repetitively in the same markets. His main instruction is “Barrie, I want to go to new markets and new buildings I haven’t played before.” And here we are in Pittsburgh.

What are the pros of playing in a new building?

It’s exciting because people who go to concerts or sports events are being given a much better experience for the money. It’s great to open new buildings or be in early because in the last 15 years, new buildings have been designed not just for sports, but for music and sports, for entertainment in general, which has been a terrific change. Arenas are a challenge because they are trying to compete with theaters. In a theater, it’s an occasion. All arenas have lots of physical similarities, which is why production costs money – you are creating a theater inside the arena. One of Paul’s big things is, “I want the people in the nosebleed seats up in the back of the building to see me like I’m right next door to them.” Hence he has very large screens, larger than most, on his new show.

Are arenas themselves different and is your philosophy in touring different in different parts of the world?

Absolutely. When record companies were making a lot of money, they spent a decent proportion of it experimenting on new bands and made it back on the ones that made it. Now, music is sold on the Internet. The consumer makes up his own album. So when you promote a record or new body of work you have to take each country separately and work each country according to their culture, the way their music is portrayed on radio and television. The record companies used to put out albums internationally. Today, most records come out on different dates, often because the artist can make appearances live or with the media. It’s like movies, which require the major film stars to turn up for certain premieres. And France, for example, has a policy of only playing a certain amount of foreign music on their radio stations to protect their own culture. I think it’s maybe 60/40 in favor of their own artists. It’s allowed the local artists to prevail. When you go to China and some other countries, they don’t necessarily know the Beatles. It was a long time ago.

Has Paul played China?

No, but we’re looking at it; we’re looking at going. It’s up to Paul. He makes all his own decisions. It will be nice to go if the time is right and hopefully he may go.

What are the future plans for Paul?

This is the last show of the summer. There may be more dates. I’m going to stand below his window and see if he’ll come out and play some more. I’m sure there will be. He loves playing. This band is so harmonious, it’s a joy. He’s having a great time. And the other thing, and he’s always wanted this, he’s gaining a younger audience as well, which is great. — Linda Deckard

Contact: Barrie Marshall, +44-20-7586-3831

Consol Energy Center Celebrates Its Coronation with Sir Paul

19 Aug

Gathered in the lobby a few hours before the Paul McCartney concert opens the arena are Liza Cartmell and Mike McDonald, Aramark; Jay Roberts, SMG GM at Consol Energy Center, Pittsburgh; Aramark's Dan Regan; and SMG's Hank Abate. The two sold out shows are the first for Consol Energy Center and the last on McCartney's U.S. tour.

REPORTING FROM PITTSBURGH, PA. — From the local art to the state-of-the-art, the excitement was palpable as Consol Energy Center here opened its doors for its first concert today, Aug. 18. Paul McCartney declared from the stage, “We’re the first people to play here and you are the first people to see people play here. That’s pretty cool.”

Barrie Marshall, Marshall Arts, who has worked with McCartney for years, told Venues Today that McCartney likes to open new buildings. He’s always looking for new markets and new buildings because “people are being given a better experience for their money in a new arena,” Marshall said.

McCartney was set to play a second show Aug. 19, which concludes his “Up and Coming” summer tour which started in Phoenix and has drawn 600,000 people to 25 shows.

For Jay Roberts, general manager of Consol Energy Center for SMG, this day was a long time coming. He’s put in some very long days for six months, partly because he was still operating Mellon Arena, the old home to the Pittsburgh Penguins of the National Hockey League, at the same time he was opening the new $321 million arena.

Walking the floor before the opening with Liza Cartmell, president of Aramark Sports & Entertainment, was Aramark’s Dan Regan, and they were impressed. Cartmell pointed out the Brewhouse bar on the upper concourse, a pleasant space with a view of downtown Pittsburgh. It’s the kind of space not often seen on the upper levels, she said.

Angus cheeseburgers were selling for $5.75; Italian sausage, $5.50; grilled chicken sandwich, $6.75; Smith’s hot dog, $4.75 and chicken tenders and fries, $8.50. A Pizza Hut Pizza was $9; WingStreet wings, $9.75. A large draft beer retailed for $7.75; a regular draft beer, $5; a regular soda, $4.50; a bottled soda, $4.

The doors were held for 45 minutes because McCartney was late arriving from New York and couldn’t start his sound check until 5:30 p.m. The crowd gathered and when the doors finally opened, the concessions stands were slammed. The subsequent three-hour show had no intermissions, but people found time to buy food and drink.

Merchandise varied from an $85 leather jacket to $40 T-shirts to $20 mugs and programs.

McCartney’s tour arrived in 15 trucks and eight buses. The crew was returning to England Friday. No future tour plans have been announced.

Prior to today, they had hosted 15,000 people are various sneak-a-peek and VIP parties. Tonight was the big test and it did well. — Linda Deckard

Interviewed for this story: Jay Roberts, (412) 804-7820; Liza Cartmell, (215) 238-3424; Barrie Marshall, +44 20-7586-3831

Veteran Moves: Evans to Live Nation; Zito to Andy Frain; Andersen to Northlands; Williams to Hawks; Neece to Austin City Limits

26 Jun

Mike Evans has joined Live Nation in the new position of president of Arenas. He will work out of Live Nation’s Philadelphia office and will be liaison between the promoter and arena managers in a fashion to be determined.

Evans has been booking shows for SMG for the past 11 years as executive vice president, sports and entertainment. And he will continue to interact with SMG venue managers. “SMG is very important to Live Nation, which is indicative of how we were able to do this. We have a longstanding history of working together,” Evans said.

Prior to his stint with SMG, Evans spent 23 years working for the late Abe Pollin and Washington Sports & Entertainment in D.C. His first day on the job with Live Nation was June 21 and he was flying to Los Angeles to meet with his new firm the rest of this week.

In a press release, Live Nation described Evans’ role as “responsible for managing Live Nation’s dealings with Live Nation’s North American arena partners. In 2009, Live Nation promoted more than 1,000 North American arena shows, attracting more than 9 million fans and generating net gross ticket sales of approximately $600 million. Evans will report to Live Nation CEO of Concerts, Jason Garner.”

Steve Zito, currently senior VP–operations and entertainment for the Memphis Grizzlies of the National Basketball Association and FedEx Forum, is also taking on a newly-created position. Effective July 12, he will be president of Andy Frain Services sports and entertainment division. He, too, will not be moving. He will open an Andy Frain office in Memphis two miles from home. His role will be to increase awareness of Andy Frain’s Crowd Management Engineering services, founded in 1924, representing the firm to venue managers.

Zito has been with the Grizzlies since 2005. Prior to that, he was vice president of facilities and events for the San Antonio Spurs of the NBA from 2002-2004; and worked with the Alamadome, San Antonio, from 1993-2001.

Andy Frain Services is headquartered in Chicago and has been Safety Act Certified since 2006, a Department of Homeland Security designation. The firm currently has more than 20 clients in sports and entertainment. Zito leaves the Grizzlies July 9.

Richard Andersen has announced his plans to serve as president and CEO of Northlands, a 600-acre campus that includes a convention center, the Rexall Place arena, home to the Edmonton Oilers of the National Hockey League, plus a number of events including Indy Racing League and the Canadian Rodeo Finals.
“The entire facility is owned by the public. We’re a public trust and serve as the stewards (of the campus). All the profits from Northlands are placed back into the community,” he said.

Andersen is the former GM of the Petco Park in downtown San Diego, and is the second vice chair of the International Association of Assembly Managers Board of Directors.

“In terms of the move, I don’t think it will be that dramatic of a change,” said Andersen. “My wife and I lived in Pittsburgh before we lived in San Diego, and Pittsburgh had some long, cold winters and we loved it there.”

Bob Williams, an anomaly in this business where moving up usually means moving on, has moved in a full circle, adding president of the Atlanta Hawks to his many titles. He started his career 35 years ago with the National Basketball Association team, offering to work for free to get his dream job out of college. They said they couldn’t let him work for free, but they could pay him next to nothing, he joked, adding the pay was $500 a month.

Since that auspicious beginning, Williams has made vertical or lateral moves within the organization to keep his interest high. His first move was to the now-imploded Omni, which he managed. The worst day in his career was in 1997, telling the Omni staff of 120 that the building was going to be torn down to make way for the new Philips Arena, which he also managed. He was able to hire many of them back after the 28-month construction phase, he added.

Williams was named president of Philips Arena in 1999 and still holds that title. But now he is also president of the Atlanta Hawks and continues as executive vice president of Atlanta Spirit, which owns the Hawks, the Atlanta Thrashers and Philips Arena operating rights. Don Waddle is president of the Atlanta Thrashers and exec VP of the Atlanta Spirit.

And finally, veteran talent buyer and manager Tim Neece is leaving his post of seven years with Texas Performing Arts at the University of Texas, Austin, to become general manager of the Austin City Limits Live 2,750-seat Moody Theater. The property, co-owned by Stratus Properties, includes a W Hotel and Condos, retail and restaurants and is to open in late December 2010 or early January 2011.

Neece started his career with his own management firm and in 1980 hit it big with client Christopher Cross. He moved to Los Angeles and worked with Irving Azoff’s Frontline Management for 13 years before deciding to move back to Texas. In 1996, he joined Direct Events in Austin, which managed the Backyard Amphitheater and Austin Music Hall. After four and a half years, he joined NextStage, which built what is now Nokia Theatre in Grand Prairie, Texas.

Neece said the new facility is a unique challenge. It is the TV studio for Austin City Limits for all their broadcasts and will be booked for other events, concerts and corporate events, the rest of the year. Besides being a TV studio, it is attached to a luxury hotel. The four-story building that is Austin City Limits Live consists of a ground floor of retail and three floors of performing arts. The loading bay can handle three semis and a bobtail all at once, with equipment loaded onto a freight elevator. “It’s well thought out,” Neece said.

He will leave Texas Peforming Arts next week and starts with Austin City Limits Live at Moody Theater July 6. — Linda Deckard and Dave Brooks

Interviewed for this story: Mike Evans, (610) 784-5447; Steve Zito, (901) 205-1501; Richard Andersen, (619) 933-6514; Bob Williams, (404) 878-3003; Tim Neece, (512) 471-2787

World Cup Blog: Quality of Play Goes South in South Africa

22 Jun

Editor’s note: Venues Today magazine has hired University of Florida student Phil Costa to write about his trip to South Africa with students from George Mason University.

Unfortunately, things aren’t looking too good for the African teams in the World Cup.  Along with their home nation, everyone in South Africa has been cheering for the African squads.  The match between Brazil and  the Ivory Coast (or Côt’e D’Ivoire ) was supposed to be one of the top games of the first round, but finished with an unfortunate 3-1 display.

Another unfavorable aspect has been some game changing calls made by the referees.  To highlight a few that have been disappointing:

1) The “3rd goal” that should have been in the U.S. vs. Slovenia match.  This would have given the U.S. the victory and an assured spot in the next round.

2) The goal in the New Zealand vs. Italy game that was a few yards offsides.  New Zealand scored; not exactly favorable for the reigning World Cup champions.

3) Two blatant hand balls in one play, resulting in a goal, for Fabiano of Brazil.  This put the Ivory Coast behind by two goals, and all but eliminated a chance to make a final run in the game.

4)  A handful of red and yellow cards that have sent players off of the field, and suspended them for other games.  Specifically, during the Brazil vs. Ivory Coast and Germany vs. Serbia matches.

Looks like a few refs might be losing their jobs.

Tomorrow I will be traveling back to Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium for the Chile vs. Switzerland match.  This has turned out to be a big time game for Group H; the winner should advance to the next round.

Until tomorrow, Cheers.

Sir McCartney to Open Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh

17 Jun

Consol Energy Center, Pittsburgh

The brand new, state-of-the-art facility — the new home of the National Hockey League’s Pittsburgh Penguins — will open to the sights and sounds of legendary former Beatle Sir Paul McCartney on Aug. 18. The new facility is the last remaining professional hockey arena to be opened following a string of new openings over the last decade, and the second-to-last professional sports arena behind the Amway Center in Orlando.

“It’s a very busy opening month,” said Director of Marketing Rob Goodman. In its first month, the new facility will host Lady Gaga, which also sold out almost immediately after going on sale, two nights of Spirit of America — a free, highly visual, live-action U.S. Army show, American Idol Live!, and Rush’s Time Machine Tour. “The first three shows in the building are sellouts.”

General Manager Jay Roberts is especially excited about the McCartney show as he considers him to be “the one that got away.” While working in operations for Mellon Arena — the facility that Consol Energy Center will be replacing — Roberts said they had a chance to host McCartney but couldn’t, due to lack of hanging capability.

“My GM, Hank Abate, came into my office and said we had the show and I just had to figure a way to hang it,” Roberts said. “For the first time, I had to tell him no, we can’t do it. So, it’s fitting that we are now opening the new Consol Energy Center with the one I could not hang at Mellon.”

The $321-million venue’s opening date was actually moved up a couple of weeks in order to accommodate McCartney and have the opportunity for the venue to feature him as its grand opening guest, Goodman said. Designer Populous and project manager Pittsburgh Arena Development plan to open the facility by mid-August. SMG will lead a local consortium to manage the facility.

Roberts said, for him, the highlights of the new venue are things that other venue managers probably take for granted, such as spacious rear loading docks and ample hanging grids, because these are things he has been surviving without at Mellon Arena for so many years.

Not only will the new building feature five loading docks and tons of power, but it will also have a half house and upper bowl curtain system, which will give them much more flexibility in events. Plus, Roberts continued, the open concourse design will work well for sporting events but will also improve sound quality for concerts.

The new center also boasts an incredible new HD video screen, Roberts said.

“We got to see it for the first time during the McCartney press conference last week. It’s just incredible how clear it is. I was 20 feet away and it looked like I was watching it from my living room,” he said.

The final event scheduled for Mellon Arena is a James Taylor and Carole King concert on June 26. King and Taylor performed together at the venue Feb. 26, 1971, so Roberts said it is fitting that they close down the old arena.

The old building is currently in the final stages of the historical review process and, depending on the outcome, is scheduled to be torn down to make way for new development. Mellon Arena was built in 1961.

“It was definitely time for a new arena,” Roberts said. — Lindsay Sandham

Interviewed for this article: Rob Goodman, (412) 642-1904; Jay Roberts, (412) 642-1893

Airwave Wars: Getting Votes vs. Selling Tickets

15 Jun

As television spot prices skyrocket during election season, arenas have taken a creative stance in promoting events.

“Every year, whether it’s election season, television sweeps or the Oscars, we are trying to be creative in working around certain events,” said Jamie Loeb, vice president of marketing for Los Angeles-based Nederlander Concerts.

When 30-second television spots are sold out, the company will consider 15-second spots. With radio advertising, Nederlander will substitute a 10-second sponsorship for a 60-second spot.

If network television is not available, cable is utilized. “For a recent Scorpions concert in Sacramento, network television was sold out. We looked at the audience for this show and found advertising opportunities at ESPN and Spike TV,” Loeb said. “Finding alternative promotional outlets takes time, but it’s a matter of doing your homework.”

Unlike election ads, which are geared toward massive and broad audiences, marketing specific events or shows is more targeted and niche oriented.

“Part of the skill or art of marketing concerts and performances is about determining who the potential audience is,” Loeb said. “We can correlate various events, like fans of the Scorpions and NASCAR, [where there may be a lot of overlap].”

Supply and demand determine advertising cost, and if a medium is sold out, then bump rates apply.

“It’s hard to estimate the price increases during an election period,” Loeb said. “It varies from network to cable, station to station, media to media.” He estimated a network spot can be 10 times more costly during the election season, but a cable spot may cost the same regardless of the time period.

The BOK Center, Tulsa, Okla., has benefited from strong relationships with station representatives, who keep the venue’s marketing department apprised when inventory may be tight.

“Placing orders early is a challenge, because we find out about a show and place media a week before the performance,” said Paige Laughlin, the BOK Center’s director of marketing. “We depend on representatives and promotional departments to get extra mentions and value whenever possible.”

In Tulsa, television spot inventory is highly dependent on what political office is up for a vote and how many candidates are in each race.

“It would be difficult to estimate the percentage increase of television spots during political races,” Laughlin said. “Fortunately, the price hasn’t been so high that we’ve had to find an alternative medium to promote our shows.”

For Dallas’ American Airlines Center, it is the governor’s race that has presented the biggest issues with television time.

“Our governor’s race was heated this year, and we were bumped for political candidate ads,” said Melissa Mezger, American Airlines Center’s director of marketing. “It is usually not this bad. We know it’s coming, but there’s not a lot we can do about it except plan ahead.”

Predicting the upcoming shortage of television spots, the center’s staff planned many of its promotions early this year, securing prices and times before rates jumped.

“When we were priced out of the television market for our other shows, we cut those ads and focused on radio and online promotions,” Mezger said. “This only happened with a couple of our shows. Since we didn’t have a runoff, the political season was cut short.”

Mezger estimated television spot prices jump between 25 and 50 percent during political races.

Because promotions are considered a trade-out in terms of pricing, arenas can lose these freebies, in addition to air time, during the political season.

“Typically, if we do a buy on stations, we require them to do a giveaway, which shows up as a free promotion,” Mezger said. “During political races, we lose our promotions because stations can’t offer the same package to political candidates. So we lose airtime along with the promotions that go with it.”

Mezger estimates television stations provide between 15 and 20 free spots as part of a promotional campaign.

“If we can get placement before rates jump, we’re good,” Mezger said. “Our reps are great about reminding us early that the season is coming.” — Lisa White

Interviewed for this article: Paige Laughlin, (918) 894-4200; Jamie Loeb, (323) 468-1700; Melissa Mezger, (214) 665-4218