Tag Archives: SMG

Naming Rights Report: Oklahoma City Arena

18 Nov

Oklahoma City Arena, Oklahoma City

Date Announced: Oct. 23

Buyers: Under negotiation

Ownership/Tenant: Oklahoma City/SMG/Oklahoma City Thunder (NBA)

Comments: The former Ford Center in Oklahoma City will be temporarily known as Oklahoma City Arena.

“In August, our naming rights agreement with the Ford Dealers of Oklahoma terminated when we could not reach an agreement,” said Dan Mahoney, spokesman for the Oklahoma City Thunder. “We began the process of discussions with other potential naming rights partners, but at this point, there is nothing to report.”

The temporary name change was made on Oct. 23, and includes signage and the Web site.

Mahoney said he could not comment on why the deal fell through with the Ford dealers, nor on current negotiations with other companies.

The 19,711-seat venue opened in 2002.

Contact: Dan Mahoney, (405) 208-4800

 

 

SMG Contract Renewed For Lynnwood (Wash.) Convention Center

12 Nov

Lynnwood Public Facilities District (LPFD) has decided to extend the management contract of SMG to continue managing the Lynnwood Convention Center for an additional five years. Contact: Dan Knapp, (610) 729-7080

 

Cobo Center Cuts a Deal with SMG; Thom Connors To Be GM

20 Oct

Cobo Center, Detroit

The 700,000-sq.-ft. Cobo Center, Detroit, may be the largest convention center to privatize to date and, if the trend continues, the 2.6 million-sq.-ft. McCormick Place, Chicago, is on track to be the second and take that designation for its own in 2011.

On Oct. 1, the Detroit Regional Convention Facility Authority (DRCFA) selected SMG to manage Cobo Center, the nation’s 20th largest convention center. Gregg Caren, SMG senior vice president of strategic business development, said it’s a traditional deal other than the size factor. While SMG already manages some larger convention centers, those grew after privatizing, not before.

Thom Connors

Thom Connors has been tapped as the general manager at Cobo Center. Connors was most recently GM for SMG of the new $133 million Irving (Texas) Convention Center at Los Colinas, which opens in January 2011. Connors grew up in the Detroit suburbs and is an alumni of Michigan State University.

The deal is for five years with a five-year renewal option. Based on IRS-regulated municipal deal rules, it calls for a base fee of $250,000 a year and an incentive capped at that base. SMG and the authority are working from a memorandum of understanding at this point, but Caren said the incentive will be both qualitative and quantitative.

The new multi-governmental authority now in charge of Cobo Center was formed last fall with representatives from the city, state and three counties. Its bylaws require that every decision be unanimous and it has been a united effort, Caren said. Their mission is to improve financial stability and customer service, and reestablish Cobo Center’s standing in the national convention and trade show marketplace.

With that goal in mind, SMG worked with Olympia Entertainment as a strategic partner in its bid to manage Cobo Center. The cross marketing of Olympia properties, including its arena, stadium and theaters, and its sports celebrities, will help in turning Detroit into a destination again, Caren said. Cobo Center is already home to the North American International Auto Show.

Caren said the transition of employees from city to SMG employ would probably occur Jan. 1.

The privatization of major convention centers is a hopeful sign for companies like SMG. Last year, because of the economy, there were very few RFPs on the street from convention centers. Caren could only think of one – the 20,000 sq. ft. center in Punta Gorda, Fla.

“I used to use McCormick Place as part of my sales presentation as an example of some buildings that will never privatize,” he said. “I’ll have to change that story now.” Besides Detroit, now done, and Chicago, which has RFPs on the street, there are other major markets looking at privatization, he added.

So, maybe it is a trend. — Linda Deckard

Interviewed for this story: Greg Caren, (610) 729-7922

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

McCue Replaces Evans at SMG; Sipe Heads to Big Sandy

20 Aug

Jim McCue has been hired as the new Sr. VP of Entertainment for SMG and will oversee national bookings and tours for the company’s 70 arenas and 40 Performing Arts Centers.

“We’re bringing someone on who really understands the landscape of the sports and entertainment industry,” said Bob Cavalieri, the company’s Sr. VP of Sales and Development. “Not only does he have plenty of experience to bring to our booking division, he has the ability to expand our nationwide reach and boost our presence abroad.”

McCue has worked in nearly every facet of live entertainment serving as a booking agent, facility executive, promoter and producer. He replaces Mike Evans, who left the company in June to serve as president for Arenas, a newly appointed position at Live Nation.

“There was a bit of a leadership gap when he left,” Cavalieri said, later adding  “Jim (McCue) has had quite a career and I can’t imagine a better fit.”

McCue is currently based in Denver, where he worked as co-producer and co-promoter of the popular Walking with Dinosaurs show, and worked in booking for ArenaNetwork. From 2003-2005 he worked as the Sr. VP of House of Blues Denver, overseeing the club of the same name along with the Red Rocks Amphitheatre, the former Fiddler’s Green (now the Comfort Dental Amphitheater) and the Paramount Theater. Before that he spent seven years working at the Rose Quarter in Portland, Ore., and served two years as the Director of Events for Palace Sports and Entertainment in the Detroit area. He began his career as an agent at International Creative Management.

He will oversee a staff of seven, including Jon Petrunak, VP of Entertainment for Arenas and Bob Papke, VP of Entertainment for Theaters, both out of Philadelphia, and Chris Wright, VP of Special Events, based at the Nassau Coliseum in Long Island, N.Y.

McCue will oversee the regional divisions as well, including Bob Belber who heads the Northeast, Cyndee Pennington who heads the Southeast, Jerry Goldman who heads the Midwest and Dan Spellens who oversees the West Coast.

Cavalieri said McCue will take the helm during a slow period in the concert business, but added that he expects things to pick up in 2011 with a number of artists reserving holds throughout the year.

Brian Sipe is leaving the Sovereign Center in Reading, Pa. for his first GM position at the Big Sandy Superstore Arena in Huntington, W. Va. Sipe will begin his duties at the SMG managed facility on Aug. 30, replacing A.J. Boleski who was hired to manage the Intrust Bank Center in Wichita, Kan.

“My first goal is to get into town and continue to bring strong bookings to the building,” said Sipe, who will oversee shows by Sugarland and Chris Tomlin. “My biggest goal will be to continue to bring concerts to the facility,” he said.

Built in 1977, the arena seats 9,000 for concerts and will host the Huntington Hammer of the United Indoor Football League beginning in the 2011 season. Sipe will also book the nearby 2,500-seat amphitheater and work with the 20,000-student Marshall University to bring more campus events to the arena. — Dave Brooks

Interviewed for this article: Bob Cavalieri, (610) 729-7920; Brian Sipe, (304) 696-5566

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

SMG Takes Rockford; AEG Ogden Expands Interest in Perth

5 Aug

MetroCentre in Rockford, Ill.

MetroCentre, Davis Park and the Rockford (Ill.) IceHogs of the American Hockey League

Management Company: SMG

Owner: Rockford Area Venues and Entertainment Authority (RAVE)

Effective Date: Sept. 1, 2010

Terms: Five years. SMG will receive a base management free of $170,000 and will give RAVE an interest free loan of $1 million to be used at their discretion. That loan is to be paid back increments of $100,000 a year and will be forgiven if other income reaches certain thresholds. In addition, SMG will receive an incentive based on reduction of the operating loss, which totaled $1.3 million last year. That portion has not been benchmarked yet, but is along the lines of 10 percent of the decrease between $270,000 and $500,000, so if the loss is cut by $500,000, SMG receives an incentive of $23,000. It would receive 25 percent of the decrease from $500,000 to $1 million. The real incentive is to eliminate the deficit, at which point SMG’s incentive would be 40 percent of the profit.

Comments: Bob Cavalieri, senior VP of business development, noted the scope and type of facilities SMG will manage – everything entertainment related in Rockford. It even includes consulting with a nonprofit that runs the historic, 2,400-seat Coronado Theater downtown, he said.

The 7,000-seat MetroCentre was refurbished to the tune of $23 million three years ago. The plan is to build a permanent proscenium stage in Davis Park, which can seat about 5,000 for an amphitheater event and is used for festivals and other events now. It’s right on the Rock River, he said, a beautiful setting.

The Rockford IceHogs is the AHL affiliate of the Chicago BlackHawks. Cavalieri has already bandied about the phrase, “Come see your future Stanley Cup champions in Rockford,” referring to the BlackHawks 2010 championship. Owned by the city, the IceHogs team is one of the few municipally owned teams in the league. SMG also manages the Reading (Pa.) Royals of the ECHL, Cavalieri noted, and has eight AHL tenant teams in SMG-managed venues.

The Rockford venues have always been publicly operated. In the early days, Doug Logan, who moved on to private management, managed the Rockford MetroCentre. It has a storied past and a bright future, Cavalieri said.

Brian Luther, current general manager at MetroCentre, will be leaving. Cavalieri said SMG is currently recruiting a new manager. Some SMG staff are already in Rockford, though the changeover will take place Sept. 1.  Centerplate is the concessionaire.

The arena hosted 90-95 events in 11 months last year, including 40 AHL games. Cavalieri believes that will be improved to 120-130 events under SMG management.

Cavalieri noted that the environment in Rockford is “what I experienced in Reading (Pa.), a community that decided to all pull in the same direction.” RAVE is made up of businessmen and community leaders dedicated to improving the quality of life for the citizenry, and MetroCentre can be a catalyst of revival.

Interviewed for this story: Bob Cavalieri, (610) 729-7920

Perth (Australia) Arena

Management Company: AEG Ogden

Terms: AEG Ogden has been notified it is the preferred tender. The new arena opens in 2012. There are two contract options, one for 10 years and one for five plus five. Both are “a management fee formula with a fair bit of risk,” said AEG Ogden’s Rod Pilbeam. “We are guaranteeing them a minimum return on operating profits.”

Comments: The contract is still being negotiated. Pilbeam said one bid includes FF&E, one doesn’t. He’s not sure what the final deal will bring. Generally speaking, an arena the size of Perth, 14,000 seats, can return an operating profit of anywhere from $10 million to $12 million Australian, he said.

Perth Arena is an unknown. There has been no major indoor arena in that Western Australia city since the Perth Entertainment Center closed six to eight years ago.

Concerts will be the mainstay for the new venue. It will also house the Hopman Cup, a major tennis tournament. It has no tenant sports team, though the National Basketball League is trying to restart itself, Pilbeam said. The concert season generally runs September to March, which is summer in Australia.

AEG Ogden already operates three theaters in the market. Others bidding on the arena management contract were SMG and Spotless Catering.

Interviewed for this story: Rod Pilbeam, +61 418 74 2342

SMG’s Boleski Returns to Kansas

11 Jul

A.J. Boleski

A.J. Boleski is going home again, as new general manager of Intrust Arena, Wichita, Kan., for SMG. He will begin those duties on July 26. “I am from Kansas,” he told Venues Today when contacted at his current post, general manager of the Big Sandy Superstore Arena, Huntington, W.Va. “I will miss the hills, though.”

He spent his first two years in the business working for SMG in Topeka at the Kansas Expocentre after attending Ft. Hays State University. SMG then moved him to the Canton (Ohio) Memorial Civic Center, prior to relocating to West Virginia, where they are now conducting a search internally for a new general manager. He has been in Huntington for four years.

Boleski is looking forward to maintaining momentum for Intrust Arena, which opened less than a year ago. “They’ve booked big events there in the first six months,” he noted. – Linda Deckard

Interviewed: A.J. Boleski, (304) 696-5990

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

New Buildings: Lincoln Voters Approve New Arena Project.

21 May

Rendering of the new Haymarket Arena, Lincoln, Neb.

After a slow 12-month period, a new major collegiate arena has been announced, the first of its kind for this year.

On May 6, voters overwhelmingly approved a $25-million bond measure to help finance a $344-million arena in downtown Lincoln, Neb. The University of Nebraska men’s and women’s basketball teams will be the primary tenants for the 16,000-seat arena, paying annual rents of $750,000 plus expenses, while sharing in a number of ancillary revenues to give the Cornhuskers a modern arena.

The facility will essentially replace the SMG-managed Pershing Center, said GM Tom Lorenz, who was instrumental in working to pass the referendum.

“We’re still not sure what we’re going to do with the old facility,” he said. “The city is looking at several proposals, and we have contracts through early 2014, which is good because we’re not expecting the new arena to be completed until late 2013.”

SMG must bid for the management contract for the new facility, which could break ground as early as this summer, but more likely won’t start until mid-2011. The architect for the facility is national firm DLR, which designed the Qwest Center in Omaha.

“The plan is to host more concerts at the facility and we’re confident we’ll be able to route shows, based on the success of the Qwest Center, which is about 60 miles from here,” he said. “We’re expecting to get concerts that come through on their second leg of a tour, or perhaps they’ll play here first and hit Omaha when they come back through.”

On Tuesday, voter’s approved an initiative to divert 70 percent of a local sales tax to raise $25 million in bonds for the project. Most of the $344 million project will be paid by a new two percent tax on restaurants and four percent tax on hotels and rental cars near the Haymarket Center, where the facility is to be built.

“It’s actually quite a developed area already, surrounded by bars and restaurants,” said Lorenz. Once a bustling warehouse district, site for the trading of commodities like wheat and hay, the downtown area has been transformed in recent years into a highly trafficked retail district known as the Haymarket Center.

The new arena will have 32 suites, a first for the men’s and women’s basketball teams, and the university and the city are currently finalizing a memorandum of understanding to split money from the suites, naming rights, concessions and merchandise. They’ll also be able to tap into some sales tax monies to help pay the rent. The university will be responsible for picking up expenses resulting from game day operations. — Dave Brooks

Interviewed for this article: Tom Lorenz, (402) 441-8744

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