Tag Archives: Global Spectrum

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

Granger Returns to Memphis; Grafstrom to Indiana, PA.

25 Sep

Eric Granger

In between his gig as general manager at the Nationwide Arena, Columbus, Ohio, for SMG and his new job at the Memphis Grizzlies and FedExForum, Eric Granger took a five-week hiatus in Huntington, W.Va., to manage the Big Sandy Superstore Arena for SMG prior to that firm finding a replacement for A.J. Boleski who moved to Intrust Bank Arena, Wichita, Kan. Brian Sipe took over Aug. 31 at Big Sandy Superstore Arena for SMG and Granger completed his travels in Memphis, which was actually a return home.

Granger spent four years as the director of Event Services for the Pyramid Arena and Memphis Cook Convention Center from 2001-05. He began his new job as VP of Arena Operations for Hoops LP, the parent company of the Grizzlies and FedExForum Monday, Sept. 20. He was landlord to the Grizzlies five years ago; now he works for them.

On the way to work in Memphis, Granger drives by the padlocked Pyramid, which is under contract to be converted into a Bass Pro Shop. Work has not yet begun, he observed.

Granger began his career with Ticketmaster right out of college, as an outlet manager for the city of Mobile, Ala., then went to work at the civic center there for SMG in 1995 as booking director.

Global Spectrum has named James Grafstrom as the first general manager of the Kovalchick Complex at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. The $33 million complex in Indiana, Pa., includes the 5,000-seat Ed Fry Arena and is scheduled to open in the summer of 2011.

Grafstrom relocates to Indiana from the Liacouras Center at Temple University in Philadelphia where he was assistant general manager. He began his career with Global Spectrum in the operations department at the Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia in 2002. – Linda Deckard

Smaller Markets Stay Proactive in the Quest to Book Events

3 Aug

REPORTING FROM HOUSTON —  Smaller venues in non-major markets can have a difficult time attracting high-grossing shows and events, but with some creativity, hard work and a little promoter hand-holding, venues of any size can develop events that serve their communities.

During the International Association of Venue Managers conference, a July 24th panel titled “Finding Affordable Events and Artists in Small Markets” brought together five facility professionals to discuss programming in tertiary cities.

“There’s a new person every day who wants to bring a show to market, but they don’t know the business. They don’t know how to make an offer, or what media to buy, or where to purchase sound and lights,” said Yaijara Flores from the McAllen (Texas) Convention Center, which has found filling dates with concerts and MMA matches.

Working with new promoters can mean negotiating offers directly with an agency, or bidding out sound and light contracts; even pushing them towards sponsors, said Leah Beck from the Ryan Center, a Global Spectrum-managed arena in Kingston, R.I.

“If I think a show isn’t going to break even, I’ll help them generate revenue through local marketing,” said Beck. “Our goal is to have them come back again and again.”

Of course, not all promoters are created equal. Todd Hunt from the BancorpSouth Arena in Tulepo, Miss., said capitalization is critical when working with any promoter — after he determines that they have enough money in the bank, Hunt looks at market appropriateness and future potential.

“We have to go out and develop these folks as best as we can. If you have the ability to take risks, then I suggest you do that when it makes sense,” he said.

For those who can’t buy shows, the five panelists had plenty of advice for developing content that met community needs. Hunt said BancorpSouth hosts an annual event for Honda motorcycle riders, a kinder band of bikers that “ride to eat and eat to ride,” which is a perfect match considering the facility is partially funded by a restaurant tax. Flores said her facility works with the Mexican consulate for a Mexican Independence Day event, and has attracted several theatrical productions that stopped touring Northern Mexico because of security concerns.

Tom Richter from the VenuWorks-managed Swiftel Center in Brookings, S.D., said his facility has found success with a wings and beer tasting event sponsored by area restaurants and beer distributors, while Beck said her Rhode Island arena loves cheerleading competitions.

“They’re high maintenance and sometimes I get yelled at by local hospitals for all the EMT calls, but they make a lot of money and generate a lot of food sales,” she said.

The BancorpSouth Arena generated $40,000 its third year of operating an ice skating rink with skates it bought from an out-of-business ice rink, while MetraPark, Billings, Mont., hosted a successful two-day cowboy roping contest that attracted over 6,000 teams and a sponsorship with Wrangler Jeans, said Bill Dutcher, the building’s GM.

As for attracting national shows, “you have to be realistic about what will sell in your market,” said Hunt. “Will Jimmy Buffet sell in your market? Probably, but if you only have 8,000 seats, the math won’t work.”

When talking to promoters and agents, Hunt said it’s important to be realistic about what the market is able to support.

“Don’t waste their time chasing things that won’t work,” he said.

“And be honest. If they call about a show and you don’t think it’s going to work, tell them that. It can be painful at times because these events might look glowing to the community, but if it loses a promoter $100,000 to $200,000, that promoter is never coming back.”

Flores said her team focuses on selling the market to promoters and agents rather than selling the facility. Afterall, as a city employee, her job is to get visitors to spend money in McAllen.

“Sell the buying power of your community and make lasting relationships with the agencies, and always call back,” she said. “Ultimately we want to sell the market and even if an event doesn’t make sense in our facility, it might make sense in a smaller facility. Don’t be afraid to spread the love.” — Dave Brooks

Interviewed for this article: Yajaira Flores, (956) 681-3814; Leah Beck, (401) 788-3220; Todd Hunt, (662) 841-6573; Tom Richter, (605) 692-7539; Bill Dutcher, (406) 256-2400