Tag Archives: Ticketmaster

Goldberg and Team Assess AEG Ticketing

26 Oct

David Goldberg

Longtime Ticketmaster executive David Goldberg has joined AEG as a consultant reviewing future ticketing options for the Anschutz sports and entertainment empire.

He’s working on a business plan with a team of experienced pros, including Blaine Legere, who used to be at Ticketmaster and is now at AEG “helping in every area of ticketing operations, interfacing with Ticketmaster and helping me out; and Brian Pike, who used to be the chief technology officer for Ticketmaster and is also helping in a consulting fashion similar to myself.” Goldberg added that he has availed himself of “bits and pieces of other people’s time” in his quest to “assess the landscape” of ticketing today for AEG.

The process began mid-summer after the Live Nation-Ticketmaster merger was okayed by the Department of Justice, which included stipulations that AEG would be given the rights to independently license the Ticketmaster software and create its own ticketing company, either with Ticketmaster software, or eventually another company’s software or maybe a combination of the two. (VT Pulse, Jan. 27, 2010)

During all the hubbub, Goldberg was running publically-traded YouBet.com, which was sold in June. “I stayed close with Tim [Leiweke] and Randy [Phillips] and John Meglen and all my friends at AEG over the years and obviously there has been a lot of change in the ticketing and concert promotion industry since I was away running YouBet.com,” Goldberg said. “While I had the good fortune of just selling a business and didn’t particularly want a job, enjoying my time off, I couldn’t help but be intrigued by the situation they find themselves in and the opportunity to come in on a consulting basis to help evaluate the opportunities they have at hand.”

Goldberg called this a “unique point in time,” seeing an “industry in flux to some degree, and from that oftentimes is born opportunity, but sometimes status quo is okay, too. This was an interesting intellectual opportunity to help out some friends and see what the landscape looks like today.”

He said there is no timeframe on producing a business plan for AEG. His first task is determining the landscape in ticketing and at AEG where there are a lot of different needs and stakeholders, including sports teams, facilities, concert promotion, sponsorship, and premium sales. “Every one of those constituencies has various needs and wants from ticketing and all areas of the business. For me, I need to understand the wants and needs internally so I can look externally at what fits those needs.”

Goldberg started in the business in the early 90s as a talent buyer at Jam Productions in Chicago, then worked for Ticketmaster out of the Chicago office doing interactive startups in the music and sports space. In 2003, he moved to Los Angeles to work for Ticketmaster “running corporate development and business development strategies, sales and marketing and a host of other areas.” In 2008, he became CEO at Youbet.com.

He has seen a lot of changes in ticketing. “Back in the day it was outlets and phones that mattered. It’s all internet these days. With that change has come a change in necessary expertise and skill sets. The internet is a great equalizer of distribution. Anyone can have a website. That doesn’t mean selling tickets is easy. There are very few people that have a greater respect for what Ticketmaster has built, having been on the inside,” Goldberg said.  — Linda Deckard

Contact: David Goldberg, david.goldberg@live.com

 

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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

Rosen Joins Brousseau to Expand Montreal Ticketing Company

14 Oct

Industry veteran Fred Rosen is returning to ticketing, announcing a partnership to expand Outbox Technology, a Montreal-based white-label ticketing provider.

After building Ticketmaster into the most dominant ticketing platform in the world, Rosen said he’s now ready to compete against the giant, which he added is a much different beast than the company he originally helmed.

Rosen is joining forces with Jean-Françoys Brousseau, who created Outbox in 2005 with Cirque du Soleil, the company’s first client. The Montreal Canadiens and the Bell Centre, the team’s home arena, both use Outbox, along with the Kodak Theatre in Los Angeles.

“We think the mandate historically that Ticketmaster has fulfilled has shifted for their own reasons and choices. We believe that mandate still needs to be filled,” Brousseau said.

Rosen, who will serve as the CEO of the venture, will be based out of a newly opened L.A. office and has not announced any new hires. He said he spent five months negotiating the partnership with Brousseau before Monday’s announcement of the deal.

“The philosophy is that the Internet has disintermediated the business and venues really don’t need outlets and phones anymore,” he said. “Since everything has gravitated toward the Internet, the next logical extension would be for facilities to be in control of their own destiny, set their own service charges, determine their on sale dates and ultimately have all of the transactions done within their own websites, which will make their websites more valuable.”

Rosen said his company’s platform and the pair’s “ticketing expertise that nobody can match” will be its two main competitive advantages.

Brousseau founded Microflex and Admission Network in Canada, two companies he sold to Ticketmaster. Rosen is best known for his role as the founder and CEO of Ticketmaster, where he served from 1982 to 1998. Since leaving Ticketmaster, Rosen served in management positions at trade show organizer Key3Media, travelling carnival North American Midway Entertainment and AudienceView ticketing, a Canadian-based platform.

“Ticketmaster is not the same company I created,” Rosen said. “When Ticketmaster was created, it was a clearly on the side of the building. It was a revenue stream that the acts could not participate in, and it was clear that the arenas and facilities could hide behind Ticketmaster and vice versa.”

The merger between Live Nation and Ticketmaster that was completed earlier this year changed all of that — now it’s unclear whether the company represents the best interests of the building, the artist or the promoter. Rosen called company CEO Irving Azoff the “smartest guy in the music business,” but said it’s not clear he’s on the side of the buildings.

The realignment has meant another opportunity to create a ticketing company “that’s like Switzerland,” Rosen said, later adding, “In the end, do you want someone selling your tickets whose interests aren’t the same as yours?” — Dave Brooks

Interviewed for this article: Fred Rosen and Jean-Françoys Brousseau, (514) 315-1200

Mactaggart and Clumpus Buy Vector Arena

27 Sep

Vector Arena, Auckland, New Zealand

Buyer: Bruce Mactaggart and Stuart Clumpus

Date: Sept. 15

Comments: Vector Arena has new owners. Promoters Bruce Mactaggart and Stuart Clumpus have purchased the private-public ownership of the facility for an undisclosed amount of money from previous owner Kevin Jacobsen.

Mactaggart said the purchase was neither a lease nor contract purchase — the pair actually own the 12,000-seat arena through 2047, after which ownership will be returned to the state.

“We believe there is a whole raft of things we can do with this business,” said Mactaggart, who helped design the arena and once served as its general manager, before moving as executive director of the Immersion Edutainment Group, which originally conceived Walking with Dinosaurs – The Live Experience.

“We’d like to use the facility to develop similar shows here,” he said. “New Zealand is the home to a strong special effects industry” and there’s a potential to develop more shows like Walking with Dinosaurs.

The arena also does a robust concert business. In 2009, the facility was the second highest grossing facility for its size category, grossing $19.3 million with 72 shows, including two performances by Simon and Garfunkel for $2.7 million.

Delaware North is the concessionaire for the arena, and Ticketmaster holds the ticketing contract. Brendan Himes, the facility’s former finance director, has been appointed to serve as general manager.

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

Ticketmaster Announces New Pricing System

26 Aug

Ticketmaster is moving toward an all-in pricing model and has begun to roll out a number of customer service initiatives to improve its image. Ticketmaster’s CEO for Ticketing Nathan Hubbard announced that the company is launching a new transparent pricing model for most of its events, and gave more details about the company’s new three-day return policy.

Hubbard shared the news on Ticketmaster’s new blog Ticketology (blog.ticketmaster.com), which Hubbard hopes will improve the company’s image with the public.

Ticketmaster, which merged with Live Nation earlier this year, is rolling out an up-front ticket pricing system that tells fans the final price of a ticket while browsing the site. Hubbard uses an upcoming Jack Johnson concert as an example — as fans browse over an interactive map, they are presented with an estimated price that combines the price of the ticket with the ticketing fees.

“The problem is that historically we haven’t told you how much you have to pay for a given seat until very late in the buying process,” Hubbard wrote in a letter to customers on Monday. “And our data tells us this angers many of you to the point that you abandon your purchase once you see the total cost, and that you don’t come back.”

Hubbard was careful not to call the system “All-In Pricing” because it still has a few limitations. Per order fees and shipping fees are still tacked on to the end of the purchase.

Ticketmaster “can’t boil all fees down to a per ticket fee until we know how many tix are bought and the shipping method chosen, so it has to happen later,” CEO Irving Azoff later wrote on Twitter.

Hubbard said the system won’t be rolled out across all venues because of contractual issues, but by the end of the week, most events will use the new pricing system. Hubbard also gave more details about the company’s new 3-Day Return Policy.

“If you buy a ticket in a venue operated by Live Nation, you now have three days to return it, up until one week before the show,” he wrote.  “We cut this off a week before the show because we need some time to be able to sell that ticket to someone else in case you choose to return it.”

Hubbard said he plans to carefully monitor the system to make sure it’s not exploited by ticket brokers, and invited other venue clients to adopt similar policies.

“We’ll handle the customer care at no additional cost,” he wrote.

Michael Marion from the Verizon Arena in North Little Rock, Ark., said his facility was one of three to test the new system during a trial run that began in April, and he’s only gotten positive response from fans.

“When I was in L.A., they pitched the plan to me and I thought it was a great idea,” Marion said, adding that Ticketmaster handled the implementation of the new system without much outside help.

The news brought a seven-percent spike in the share price of Live Nation, which had been battered by reports of lowered earnings in recent months.

“This is a sign that Live Nation and Ticketmaster are beginning to take some of their public relations problems seriously,” said Mark Mahany, an analyst with firm Piper Jaffry. “There’s hope that this move will improve their overall ticket sales and recapture some declining ticket sales.” — Dave Brooks

Interviewed for this article: Nathan Hubbard, (310) 867-7000; Michael Marion, (806) 378-9471; Mark Mahany, (415) 951-1744

Cardinals Cash Creates Cuisine Currency

23 Aug

The St. Louis Cardinals have become the third major league baseball team to utilize stored value ticketing through Tickets.com.

Named Card Cash, the program allows fans to assign value to the bar codes of tickets, which can be redeemed for food, beverage and merchandise purchases. The program utilizes Tickets.com’s UpTix software, and can be used by fans who want to add food to tickets they give to their guests, or by teams as a promotion.

On July 31, the Cardinals held a pre-game ceremony in honor of former Hall of Fame Manager Whitey Herzog, whose number 24 was being retired. Ticketholders for every seat number 24 throughout the ballpark received $5 in Cards Cash added to their ticket. Each person seated in section 240 also received $5 in Card Cash, and a $5 bonus for each strikeout thrown in the third-inning (there was one). The team estimated that 75 percent of ticket holders that received “24” themed Card Cash spent all or part of their winnings that day.

“It’s a good tool to drive per caps, they get prepaid revenue and they get lift from having prepaid tickets,” said John Rizzi SVP of Product Management and Strategy for Tickets.com.

All of the POS systems at Busch Stadium in St. Louis accept Card Cash as a form of payment, along with the team store. The system can detail which fans from which sections purchased concessions from specific food stations, creating never seen before geolocational data.

The Houston Astros utilize a stored value system on the Ticketmaster platform, and the Philadelphia Phillies run a similar program on Paciolan. The San Francisco Giants and the Oakland Athletics — both Tickets.com clients — also use UpTix.

“Rather than using discounts to move tickets, we’ve found it is a great way to add value” to distressed inventory, said Steve Fanelli, the team’s director of ticketing.

The team rolled out the platform this season, replacing its $35 all-you-can-eat section with a $6 ticket that came preloaded with $6 worth of food, priced at $12. The 990-seat section typically moves 650-700 seats per game, Fanelli said. The section has a value menu with $5 beer and $4 pulled pork sandwiches.

UpTix has also helped with some group sales, and the team hopes to roll out the program for season tickets next season.

Oakland also puts an expiration date on unspent value in the gift card, but Fanelli said the goal isn’t to keep unspent money, known as breakage, but to encourage people to spend more than the card’s value, a practice known as lift. — Dave Brooks

Interviewed for this article: John Rizzi, (714) 327-5469; Steve Fanelli, (510) 563-2270