Tag Archives: New York

Sunny Skies Bring Attendance Spike to N.Y. State Fair

8 Oct

This wonder dog excites with a show on the midway at the N.Y. State Fair.

Good weather and a large and varied line-up of free and paid musical acts helped lead the New York State Fair to its third-best attendance at 999,845, a three-percent increase over last year’s 971,273.

The Syracuse-based fair, which ran from Aug. 26-Sept. 6, has only topped 1 million visitors twice, in 2001 and 2002, said public relations director Fred Pierce.

“The thing that makes us real happy this year is that we did break a record with paid attendance,” Pierce said. “It was the highest it’s ever been.”
That figure was 609,542. “Most of our non-paid is children 12 and under, who are free, and we have two senior days where people 60 years old and older get in free, plus a veterans day.”

Teen heartthrob Justin Bieber was a sellout in the New York State Fair Grandstand, which seats between 16,000 and 17,000 concertgoers. He drew 16,314.

Rush was the second-best attended concert with 12,758 fans. Louisville, Ky.-based bookers Triangle Talent is in its second year of booking acts for the fair after the retirement of Joe LaGuardia. “Triangle Talent put it together and said Rush had a very strong base in central New York, and they proved correct,” Pierce said.

Ticket prices for Bieber were $55 and $45 and for Rush, $65 and $55.

Other paid concerts, attendance and ticket prices were Rascal Flatts/11,888/$65, $55; Rhianna/9,542/$55, $45; Aerosmith/9,260/$104; Tim McGraw with Montgomery Gentry/9,000/$75, $65; and comedian Jeff Dunham/7,746/$40.

The line-up reflects the fair’s desire to have a concert for all fairgoers when it comes to concerts.

“That was our aim,” Pierce said. “We wanted to provide something for everybody knowing that we have a lot of diversity here in New York when it comes to music. We wanted to have at least one concert everybody would want to go to.”

Just to sweeten the pot, the fair also offered a line-up of free acts on the Chevy Court Stage, an outdoor venue in a huge green surrounded by the fair’s exhibit buildings that allows nearly 30,000 people to see concerts. Estimated crowd size for one act, Lady Antebellum, came in at 29,800.

The entertainment budget is approximately $4 million, Pierce said.

Strates Shows provided the midway for the New York State Fair and was up 6 percent over the previous highest revenues, Pierce said. Pay-one-price wristbands cost $25 and were good on six of the fair’s 12 days, Pierce said. Ride coupons cost $1 each and rides required two to five coupons.

Patrons also were asked to submit photos of the fair to the Facebook page, and those who submitted winning photos were given gift bags filled with state fair items.

The marketing department also doubled the fair’s e-mail list, so they could send blasts to potential patrons, by holding a drawing for concert tickets to those who submitted their addresses.

“We did contests last year but we did more of them this year, and we didn’t do a photo contest last year,” Pierce said.

Pierce did not know how the marketing budget would shake out for the year, but the overall fair budget is $18 million.

Gate admission was $10 at the gate and $6 in advance, and the fair worked hard to drive people out to get tickets before the fair, which resulted in the highest pre-sales ever.

“It’s the economy,” Pierce said. “It’s still a challenge for a lot of people, so we made sure we got the word out about the availability of advance tickets. It was 30 percent price break if you bought in advance and people took to it.”

Next year’s fair will be Aug. 25-Sept. 5. – Mary Wade Burnside

Interviewed for this article: Fred Pierce, (315) 487-7711.


Amateur Night at the Apollo Sees Attendance Spike

28 Sep

A contestant performs during Amateur Night at the Apollo Theater in New York.

The country’s longest-running talent competition has recently undergone a format change, which has boosted attendance 20 percent at the Apollo Theater in New York City.

Amateur Night at the legendary Harlem venue, which has been credited for launching the careers of Ella Fitzgerald, Aretha Franklin, Prince and Mariah Carey, has consistently been filling 1,526 seats, with 30 more standing-room-only attendees, on Wednesday nights.

This year, 42,919 tickets were sold for the theater, which utilizes an $8.7 million operating budget. Ticket prices range from $10 for students and seniors up to $27.

Marion J. Caffey, a former Broadway actor, writer, producer and choreographer who joined the Apollo as Amateur Night producer two years ago, has revamped the format by decreasing the number of contestants to 12 from between 20 to 25. A pre-show DJ party also was added an hour before show time, which has resulted in audience members dancing in the aisles.

“The goal was to tighten up the show so it moves along [at a better pace]. We wanted to offer better talent in a shorter time span,” Caffey said. “The show used to run two to three hours, but we’ve kept it at two hours, with a 15-minute intermission.”

The relaunch of Amateur Night coincided with the theater’s 75th anniversary last year.

“By holding a press conference and birthday celebration that focused on both our anniversary and Amateur Night, we brought more recognition and importance to the show,” said Nina Flowers, associate director of marketing and communications at the theater.

With the help of Amateur Night’s sponsor, Coca-Cola, the Apollo ramped up marketing and instituted theme nights.

In June, the theater collaborated with the New York Department of Education to create Teachers Night.

“New York teachers performed in a sold-out show,” Flowers said.

A Brooklyn theme night, geared for its residents, is scheduled for Oct. 2.

“It was important to be very careful and respectful when implementing new ideas into something that already works,” Caffey said. “But it was necessary to reinvent and infuse new energy into the show’s tried and true concept.”

Greater attention to marketing the show also has been credited for the attendance boost.

For the first time, the Apollo ran television ads on local station New York 1 and instituted a subway ad campaign.

“We also expanded our e-mail list to 60,000,” Flowers said.

In addition, it was announced this week that the theater will start holding online Amateur Night auditions to expand the show’s reach.

“We have a wonderful marketing department that has played a huge part in growing our audiences, plus word-of-mouth has been very good for the show,” Caffey said.

The new format has also helped expand the theater’s reach beyond the city. Between 40 to 60 percent of Amateur Night’s audiences are tourists, while another 20 to 30 percent are New Yorkers.

The show is divided into two parts. Child Stars of Tomorrow includes kids ages five to 15. The adult portion of the show follows. Audience members vote on the winners by applauding and cheering. Adult acts that don’t make the cut are booed off the stage.

Amateur Night winners compete in four Show Off competitions, which are held on separate nights. Winners move on to the Top Dog and then, at the end of the season, those winners compete in the final Super Top Dog show. The winner receives a $10,000 prize, while the Child Stars of Tomorrow champion wins $2,000.

“The talent Marion has brought in is exceptional. He has a knack for nurturing the performers,” said Billy “Mr. Apollo” Mitchell, the Apollo’s historian, tour guide and goodwill ambassador, who has been behind the scenes since 1964.

“Before American Idol, America’s Got Talent and Star Search, there was Amateur Night. We’ve launched more careers than any other talent competition,” Caffey said. “My goal is to birth a star.” – Lisa White

Interviewed for this article: Marion J. Caffey, (352) 219-5308; Nina Flowers, (212) 531-5334; Billy Mitchell, (212) 531-5337

Naming Rights Report

17 Aug

Foxwoods Theatre, New York

Date Announced: Aug. 9

Buyer: Foxwoods Resort Casino/Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation

Terms: Multi-year, financial terms not released

Brokered: In house by Live Nation

New York City/Live Nation/Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark

Comments: Foxwoods Resort, the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe casino in Ledyard, Conn., has purchased naming rights for the former Hilton Theatre in New York’s Times Square, home of the soon-to-open Spider-Man: Turn off the Dark, a musical featuring the music of Bono and The Edge from U2.

Neither side is releasing terms or financial information.

“There is a good symmetry with our customer base,” said Micah Hollingworth, general manager for the theatre. “Should [Spider-Man] be successful, it is going to be an evening out-escape-luxury destination in the Northeast, and there is a lot of cross pollination in our consumer bases.”

The sponsorship also provides Foxwoods with access to the venue for corporate and philanthropic events, and tickets to performances at the theater.  The Foxwoods name will be included on all tickets and collateral for Spider-Man’s advertising campaign.

“Showcasing the Foxwoods brand in such a prominent location in New York City provides us with a signature opportunity to further extend our reach into the most coveted media market in the world,” said Robert Victoria, chief marketing officer for Foxwoods and MGM Grand at Foxwoods, in a statement.

Spider-Man is said to be beyond the scale of anything Broadway has produced before. Hollingworth said the closest comparison was Cirque du Soleil in Las Vegas. It is expected to appeal to a national and international audience, even before the far-reaching U2 fan base is factored in.

That will offer powerful opportunities for everyone involved, Hollingworth said.
Live Nation’s alliance team brokered the deal.

“The Hilton deal expired last year, and they have been aggressively in the marketplace,” he said.
The theater is currently undergoing a renovation to increase the seating capacity to 1,930. It was originally built in 1996 on the site of the Apollo and Lyric Theatres.

Contact: Micah Hollingworth, (212) 556-4750

PNC Club Level at Miller Park, Milwaukee

Date Announced: Aug. 5

Buyer: PNC Bank

Terms: Five years, financials not released.

Ownership/Tenant: Southeast Wisconsin Professional Baseball District, Milwaukee Brewers/Milwaukee Brewers

Brokered: Locally

Comments: The Brewers have expanded their relationship with PNC Bank, granting them naming rights for the club level at Miller Park. This is the first time the team has sold club level naming rights.

“PNC purchased National City Bank in December 2008 and the conversion of 25 branches began in June,” said Jeffrey Noe, spokesman for the bank. They are making a $50 million capital investment in southeastern Wisconsin.

The deal includes signage on the club level concourse and inside the seating bowl, along with club level carpet inlays, said Thomas Hecht, vice president of corporate marketing for the Brewers.

Signage will be in place by Aug. 20.

It does not include use of a luxury suite, ATMs in the venue, or providing financial services for the team or the venue.

“The agreement wasn’t for hospitality purposes,” Noe said. “It is primarily about moving the PNC brand into southern Wisconsin.”

“We had a relationship for a few years – it started with National City Bank – and expanded with PNC taking over,” Hecht said. “The partnership elements are significantly larger with PNC.”

The deal was brokered in-house. The bank already sponsors “Major League Moment,” a program that has children join Brewers players on the field for the National Anthem during Sunday afternoon home games.

“We are doing a PNC Bank Day on Aug. 27, with post-game fireworks,” Hecht said. “We haven’t done a fireworks show in seven or eight years, so this is a big deal.” — Liz Boardman

Contact: Thomas Hecht, (414) 902-4400; Jeffrey Noe, (412) 762-4550

Live Nation Seeks to Reassure Investors on Eve of NYC Meeting

20 Jul

Live Nation shareholders will converge at Irving Plaza in New York tomorrow for the company’s first Investor Relations event since merging with Ticketmaster in January.

Live Nation’s stock has dropped about 30 percent after capping out at $16.70 in late April. Nervous trading and concerns about concert cancellations might have led to a drop in nearly $1 billion in marketshare, but Live Nation still has one important believer — influential analyst Ben Mogil. His reports from firm Thomas Weisel in San Francisco are some of the most widely read on the stock (partially because he makes them available to the public). Mogil thinks problems at Live Nation are overhyped and expects the stock will return to about $17 per share, but he lowered that projection from $19.50 which he had forecast earlier in the year.

“Our new estimates are largely a result of the U2 tour postponement and we believe that some of the concerns over the amphitheater environment, while valid, are overblown,” he said.

Anaylst David Joyce from the New York firm Miller Tabak also said concerns about the company were exaggerated, and trimmed his projections to $19 per share long term, a 70 percent upside from where the stock is currently trading. He estimated attendance would be down approximately six percent  to 12.3 million tickets.

In terms of debt-to-profit ratio, “They’re in better shape now with Ticketmaster, and they refinanced a large part of their debt and don’t have any maturities coming due,” he said.

As for the cancellations, he said that the company’s core demographic of 16-to-24 year-olds faced high unemployment and that many are attending fewer concerts than usual.

“And let’s face it, some of these acts are just overexposed,” he said.

On Tuesday, Live Nation announced the rescheduling of its U2 360 Stadium tour for summer 2011, with 16 shows from May 21 to July 23.

“More importantly Live Nation and Ticketmaster have each been in the concert business a very long time and we cannot imagine that in coming up with guidance in the first year of their merger they did not factor in some margin of error as there are always tours in good and bad economies which simply do not meet expectations,” he wrote in his report.

Weisel said that while No Service Fee promotions have led to a drop in some revenues, it has increased attendance and ancillary spending and accelerated a move toward all-in ticketing “likely allowing for a stealth return of fees.”

While a number of amphitheaters have faced cancellations, many sheds still have a full season, according to Live Nation’s report. The Woodlands (Texas) Pavilion, Cruzan Amphitheater in West Palm Beach, Fla., and the Pacific Amphitheater in Costa Mesa, Calif., have had zero cancellations this year. Other venues haven’t fared so well. The Cricket Wireless Pavilion in Phoenix lost 25 percent of its summer shows, while the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater in Charlotte, N.C., canceled 6 of its 19 concerts and the Sleep Train Amphitheater in Wheatland, Calif., cancelled four of its 10 gigs.

Don Vaccaro of TicketNetwork, which is hosting its annual TicketSummit in Las Vegas tomorrow, blames discounting for Live Nation’s problems, and while he acknowledges it might serve as the company’s short-term saving grace, in the long run, he said it will hurt the company.

“The concert model will fail if promoters continue to discount tickets. Consumers will start waiting closer to shows to buy tickets, which means more cancellations from nervous promoters,” he said, adding that he thinks artists will eventually need to lower their guarantees, along with ticket prices, if a full recovery is to materialize. – Dave Brooks

Interviewed for this article: Ben Mogil, (415) 364-2500; David Joyce, (212) 370-0040; Don Vaccaro, (860) 870-3400

NY Law Puts Restrictions on Paperless

18 Jul

The state of New York has adopted the first law attempting to regulate the growing paperless ticket market. On July 2, New York Governor David Patterson signed the bill, limiting the ability of ticketing companies and producers to force consumers to use paperless tickets.

The law requires artists, promoters, sports teams and venues to purchase traditional paper tickets if the seller does “not allow consumers to transfer their tickets independent of the operator.”

The law essentially blocks a growing practice by Live Nation and its ticketing system Ticketmaster of blocking fans from reselling and even transferring tickets to high demand events. Under Ticketmaster’s present paperless system, only the original buyer of the ticket can redeem the ticket at the door using the credit card used in the purchase.

The law also provided an extension to New York’s ticket resale law, which had expired in June and had temporarily made ticket resale illegal. It also banned the use of computerized bots to purchase tickets.

The law is a win for ticket brokers and resale platforms like StubHub, which had lobbied hard to fight paperless technology as anti competitive and anti-consumer.

“The new law passing in New York is a great win for consumers, as it allows for a truly open marketplace,” said StubHub spokesperson Joellen Ferrer.

During a June 2 hearing on the bill, a number of sports executives testified about the impact of paperless tickets and several state senators indicated they were considering an outright ban on paperless tickets.

“We believe in and we support transferability,” testified Randy Levine, president of the New York Yankees. He argued that the technology is too new and that the state legislature shouldn’t yet put restrictions on paperless tickets until it was better understood.

“If an artist for a show wants to provide ticketing directly to their fan club, or decides to utilize paperless ticketing, it is the artist’s prerogative to do that,” said Joe Lhota, executive VP of Government Affairs for Madison Square Garden in New York. He said a number of artists have “initiated efforts to thwart the brokers and scalpers and to drive as many first-sale, face-value tickets into the hands of their true fans.”

Lhota said banning paperless ticketing will weaken the ability of artists to sell directly to fans and push concerts into other states.

“Paperless ticketing technology is evolving, and rather than ban or limit its growth in New York,” legislators should “pass legislation that will be flexible enough to create a transferable paperless option,” Lhota said.

The losers in the deal are ticketing companies like Ticketmaster, which had sought to corral the high prices associated with ticket resale, as well as artists and agents who wanted to limit the number of tickets that end up in the hands of scalpers.

Live Nation’s Investor Relations Spokesperson Linda Bandov said the company would not comment on the resale law.

Veritix also maintains a paperless ticketing system, although its system likely will comply with the law because under most circumstances, the platform allows for both paperless and traditional fulfillment of tickets (there are some events, like student ticketing for the Final Four, where only electronic tickets are issued).

“We believe wholeheartedly that there should be a free market opportunity to buy and sell tickets digitally,” said Jeff Kline, president, Veritix. “We’ve always believed that the content owner should choose how they distribute their tickets.”

Kline also said that paperless tickets are often misunderstood by lawmakers.

“There are people out there who think it’s restrictive, and actually it’s just the opposite,” he said. “Paperless ticketing provides the ultimate flexibility.” — Dave Brooks

Interviewed for this article: Joellen Ferrer, (415) 308-8209; Randy Levine, (718) 293-4300; Joe Lhota, (212) 465-6000; Jeff Kline, (216) 466-8055