Tag Archives: Kentucky

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


Naming Rights Report: CFSB Center

10 Nov

CFSB Center, Murray State University, Murray, Ky.

Date Announced: Sept. 17

Buyer: Community Financial Services Bank

Terms: $3.3 million donation

Ownership/Operator/Tenant: Murray State University/MSU athletics

Brokered: Locally

Comments: The Murray State University’s Regional Special Events Center will be renamed the CFSB Center, following a $3 million donation from Community Financial Services Bank, an employee- and local-stockholder owned independent bank based in Marshall County, Ky.

This naming rights deal started over two years ago, as CFSB contacted the university with interest,” said Robert Jackson, associate vice president for institutional advancement for the university.

“The naming of this facility was a component of our university comprehensive campaign, ‘Hold Thy Banner High: The Campaign for the Students of Murray State University,’ that began in 2005.  In addition, CFSB, their management, board and employees have been regular donors to Murray State University for many years and especially supportive of MSU Racer Basketball. There was no outside consultant or vendor involved in this gift or related naming deal.”

The bank has a major presence in the region with banking locations in several markets in western Kentucky, Jackson said.

The venue’s new name will be unveiled in conjunction with the men’s basketball game against East Tennessee State University on Nov. 15. The university has already begun recognizing the facility as the CFSB Center in all of its publications and communications.

Facility enhancements are planned as a result of the donation, but those details are still being firmed up.

In addition to naming rights, the bank will receive prominent signage in and around the facility, as well as ATM locations in the venue.

“Certain tickets will be provided to CFSB’s board, management and staff, and they will have the ability to purchase group tickets for special events and employee usage,” Jackson said.

Contact: Robert Jackson, (270) 809-5577

— Liz Boardman


Forecastle Festival Takes Slow Road to Success

27 Jul

Brit Daniels of Spoon rocks the Forecastle Festival in Louisville, Ky.

There are two paths to festival success: open big or grow slow. While festivals like Bonnaroo and the rebooted Lollapalooza came out of the gate with impressive lineups in large-scale settings, the modest Forecastle Festival in Louisville, Ky., has slowly built a grassroots audience over nine years as its lineup and footprint have steadily expanded.

From July 9-11, more than 27,000 people filled 90-acre Riverfront Park in Louisville to hear Smashing Pumpkins, Spoon, Flaming Lips and Widespread Panic.

“The main thing that’s helped us is a grassroots following and having a unique story,” said festival founder JK McKnight, who has grown the event from a free local music gathering for 500 in 2002 to a national festival that draws attendees from nearly every state. “A lot of other festivals are started with a group of investors and businessmen who are basing it on profit potential, which is great. But we have a totally different story. We started off with nothing.”

McKnight said it cost around $1.5 million to put on the show in 2010, with 65 percent of that money going to the talent and the rest going to build the infrastructure for the site, which included erecting a power grid, bringing in water sources and staging. He didn’t release the gross for this year’s event, but said the goal is to eventually draw between 30,000 and 35,000 attendees. The event costs $150 for a three-day pass and $75 for a weekend camping spot.

Over the years, McKnight has hosted such national acts as Sleater-Kinney, Umphrey’s McGee, Girl Talk, Dr. Dog, Band of Horses and the Black Crowes. He’s also watched as his initial vision of creating camaraderie among local musicians has blossomed into a three-day festival that garners national press, with headline-worthy talent booked by Nederlander Entertainment.

The first Forecastle took place in 15-acre Frederick Olmsted-designed Tyler Park in July 2002, as a free event meant to celebrate the city’s diverse music community, put on by a then 21-year-old McKnight. With just $500 in overhead to produce the event, all the talent performed for free and the infrastructure was donated for a show that drew several hundred fans.

The next year, McKnight invited local visual artists to join in and an environmental element was added as the fest’s attendance tripled. In 2005, McKnight raised $60,000 to cover the costs, securing sponsorships from Patagonia and Red Bull, as well as local businesses for a show that attracted 5,000.

The show grew to two days in 2006 with headline acts including Sleater-Kinney, whose announcement of a split shortly after agreeing to play helped sell thousands of tickets overnight and garnered mentions for Forecastle in the New York Times, CNN, Billboard and MTV.

By 2009 an exclusive partnership with Nederlander was in place to help with booking and management, which resulted in attendance of 23,000 people from 44 states and six countries for the 2010 shows.

“We loved where he was going with it and we felt this was unique,” said Steve Liberatore, VP of Programming and Business Development at Nederlander Entertainment, which signed with the festival in 2009.

Liberatore would not discuss the talent budget, but said he spent “considerably” more than in 2009 and that the agents he worked with were fair with their guarantees, especially for acts who weren’t necessarily in their touring cycle. He also said that while there was no profit this year, Nederlander is confident that after a growth cycle, it has built an infrastructure that can result in profits in the future. — Gil Kaufman

Interviewed for this article: JK McKnight, (502) 472-7555; Steve Liberatore, (513) 421-4111