Tag Archives: NHL

Cogen and Henry Team Up to Run Nashville Properties

16 Aug

David Poile, GM and Predators president of Hockey Operations welcomes new President and COO Sean Henry and new CEO Jeff Cogen. Also pictured is Tom Cigarran, Predators chairman.

It is a package deal – Jeff Cogen and Sean Henry, announced as the new CEO and president/COO of the Nashville Predators of the National Hockey League and the Bridgestone Arena on Aug. 10.

“Sean will run the building as president and COO of the building and team; we haven’t exactly decided how we will divide and conquer, but clearly he’ll have the building. He’s done a tremendous job with the St. Pete Times Forum, [Tampa, Fla.] so he will focus on programming, customer service and merch and concessions at the building and I will focus on marketing and sponsorship and ticket sales,” Cogen toldVenues Today. “We’re going to approach this as a team. That’s what we talked about over a 24-hour term.”

Though it wasn’t technically a package deal, they did literally walk in the door together. “As Sean said, he’s glad they decided to hire two and, as I said, I was glad it wasn’t two for the price of one,” Cogen said.

Both have a long history in the business of sports and entertainment. Cogen’s began as a promoter for Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus and he was based in Nashville. He credits that experience with teaching him 95 percent of what he knows about marketing and promotions. “Allen Bloom, Mike Franks and Irving and Kenneth Feld made me who I am today,” Cogen said. “I’m not doing kids-in-the-show promotions, I’m doing register-to-win-a-road-trip-with-the-team, but pretty much the promotional elements remain the same. The biggest change is technology. We’ve adapted from traditional media to technological initiatives, but generally speaking the roots of my training and present day execution are certainly with Ringling Brothers.”

He took the circus to Detroit and Mike Illitch and Jim Lites hired him to be the marketing guy for the Detroit Red Wings and Joe Louis Arena, from 1986 to 1993. From 1993 to 2001, he worked with Lites to start the Dallas Stars National Hockey League franchise. In the middle of that experience, owner Tom Hicks moved him to the Texas Rangers. From 2001-2003 he was COO of the Florida Panthers, where he worked with Henry. He came back to Dallas to the Stars in 2004 and was named president in 2007.

Asked how much impact the pending sale of the Stars had on his decision to move to Nashville, Cogen said that it was minimal. The decision was based on the fact that CEO is a promotion from president; Nashville is a town he loves and one he wants his family to grow in; it’s nine hours from his hometown of Newport News, Va.; and he believes he can have an impact on sports and entertainment in Tennessee.

Brad Mayne, CEO of Center Operating Company, which operates American Airlines Center, Dallas, home to the Dallas Stars, said of Cogen: “We hate to see him go. He’s good at generating great revenues. Jeff is always innovative. When he put his strategies together, instead of selling the best game and then the rest, he’d sell all the rest, knowing the best games would sell out. The easy inventory takes care of itself.”

Cogen is also innovative in bundle programs, helping introduce food and beverage on regular season tickets for the Stars last year and looking at the possibility of paperless tickets this season, which is a convenience for the fan and a way to mine the data on individual buying habits, Mayne said.

Cogen describes himself as a data-centric salesperson. “I don’t believe that you advertise and sell season tickets. I believe salespeople provide that service and the success of a salesperson is getting quality leads and quality leads comes from creating quality data. We will have initiatives to get names and e-mails that are or could be Predators fans and we’ll make phone calls and face-to-face appointments and we’ll approach it one fan at a time. That’s my vision.”

The Predators averaged 14,200 fans per game last year. Cogen said his goal is 15,000 this season. “I’m optimistic. The combination of some of the initiatives I hope to place there, the data-centric approach, a quality base, a good team and a good schedule should get us there.” He had nothing but praise for the team in place, including Chris Parker, who is in charge of tickets and sponsorships and is “exceptional.”

Henry has been consulting CEO with the Tampa Bay Lightning of late, and had been COO of the team and arena since 1999. His expertise helped turn the St. Pete Times Forum into one of the busiest buildings in Florida.

Ed Lang, current president of the Nashville Predators, will be leaving the organization after a transition period. The arena is run by Powers Management, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Nashville Predators, and there has not been a venue manager per se since Hugh Lombardi moved to Boston to be general manager of TD Garden in January.

The Predators 2010/2011 season kicks off Oct. 9 against the Anaheim Ducks. Both new executives will be in Nashville in two weeks. Cogen is back in his Stars office today to interact with Hicks on a transition plan. Mayne said there are three bidders for the Stars and Hicks has said he expects the sale to be done before the regular season begins. — Linda Deckard

Interviewed for this story: Jeff Cogen, (214) 387-5586; Brad Mayne, (214) 665-4220

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

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

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