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SEPTEMBER 2013

VOLUME 12 NUMBER 9

WWW.VENUESTODAY.COM

THE NEWS BEHIND THE HEADLINES : SPORTS : MUSIC : FAMILY SHOWS : CONVENTIONS : FAIRS

The World According to Taylor Swift How a globe-trotting, genre-jumping superstar rewrote the rules and helped save us from ourselves

Social Media Power 100 Arena Spotlight Canadian Venues


VT SPOTLIGHT

Carrie Underwood at Encana Events Centre, Dawson Creek, British Columbia

JOCKEYING AROUND HOCKEY Goals are evolving for major venues in Canada with climate changes in sports and entertainment b y L I N DA D E C K A R D

The arena business in Canada is generally driven by hockey. Either you have it or you don’t, but it always has an effect. For two of the Venues Today 2013 Canadian Top Stops, hockey is the key indicator of the health of the business. At MTS Centre, Winnipeg, Manitoba, into its third year of Winnipeg Jets hockey, improvements to the building are reaching a new dimension. They’ve found air space that can be used to widen concourses and add floor. 46 VENUES TODAY SEPTEMBER 2013


VT SPOTLIGHT

At Rexall Place, Edmonton, Alta., the pending departure of the Oilers to a new arena in approximately three years means rehabbing the arena to become the premiere concert venue in North America, with acoustics and sightlines not possible in a sports hall. Even a club operator in Montreal is looking at the effect a new hockey arena in Quebec City might have on business. It’s the Canadian way. Venues Today called several managers of venues on this year’s Canada Top Stops list, and here are their reports. NEW VIDEO RIBBON UPS AD INVENTORY FOR BUDWEISER GARDENS A new 360 video ribbon by Daktronics will

make Budweiser Gardens, London, Ont., the first Ontario Hockey League venue with a full ribbon. “It will increase our advertising inventory 30 percent,” said Brian Ohl, general manager there for Global Spectrum. The video ribbon cost $750,000 and debuts Sept. 15 during a Philadelphia Flyers versus Toronto Maple Leafs exhibition game. The London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League and Global Spectrum are 50/50 partners in installing and paying for it. For concerts, it will be another amenity available if artists ask to use it. “Some artists use it for Twitter feeds prior to the show to get fans into the excitement the night of the show,” he added. With Tom Petty’s only Canadian date and CONTINUED ON PAGE 48 >

Budweiser Gardens, London, Ont. (Photo by Craig Glover)

TOPSTOPS

CANADA•2013

Based on concert and event grosses from 6/1/12 – 5/31/13, as reported to Venues Today.

> 15,000 AND MORE CAPACITY NO. OF SEATS

TOTAL GROSS

1. Air Canada Centre, Toronto

VENUE, LOCATION

20,000

$62,553,445

592,200

53

2. Bell Centre, Montreal

21,500

$62,074,183

730,703

105

3. Rexall Place, Edmonton, Alberta

18,500

$40,240,625

706,140

66

4. Rogers Arena, Vancouver, British Columbia 20,763

$15,907,854

191,805

20

5. Molson Amphitheatre, Toronto

$14,718,851

282,206

27

16,000

ATTENDANCE SHOWS

Compiled by Daniel Gray, HotTickets@Venuestoday.com

SEPTEMBER 2013 VENUES TODAY 47


VT SPOTLIGHT

TOPSTOPS

CANADA•2013

Based on concert and event grosses from 6/1/12 – 5/31/13, as reported to Venues Today.

> 10,001-15,000 CAPACITY NO. OF SEATS

TOTAL GROSS

1. Budweiser Gardens, London, Ontario

VENUE, LOCATION

10,200

$8,676,848

ATTENDANCE SHOWS

134,891

35

2. MTS Centre, Winnipeg, Manitoba

15,000

$4,790,058

58,616

11

3. Halifax (Nova Scotia) Metro Centre

13,000

$2,138,306

30,507

7

4. The Flats @ Molson Canadian Amph., Toronto 15,000

$1,851,127

35,583

3

5. Centre de la Nature, Laval, Quebec

12,000

$687,422

12,816

2

> 5,001-10,000 CAPACITY NO. OF SEATS

TOTAL GROSS

1. Abbotsford (B.C.) Ent. & Sports Centre

VENUE, LOCATION

8,500

$3,351,285

59,774

25

2. General Motors Centre, Oshawa, Ontario

6,000

$3,223,623

61,806

22

3. K-Rock Centre, Kingston, Ontario

5,700

$1,672,072

23,399

7

4. Save On Foods Mem. Centre, Victoria, B.C. 7,000

$1,562,839

18,330

9

$809,407

10,791

3

5. Moncton (New Brunswick) Coliseum

9,000

ATTENDANCE SHOWS

Compiled by Daniel Gray, HotTickets@Venuestoday.com

JOCKEYING AROUND... CONTINUED FROM PAGE 47

a Pearl Jam show, Ohl was pleased with fiscal 2013, which ended June 30. He called it a fairly typical year. He’s cautiously optimistic that 2014 will be better. Budweiser Gardens has just announced upcoming shows by the Dixie Chicks, Brad Paisley, and Keith Urban. Fall seems a little lighter for the classic rock and rock but “my perception is that will change over the winter and spring,” Ohl added. The venue can hang over 100,000 pounds. Per caps on food and drink are averaging $6 for hockey, $8 for concerts. The big name change (from John Labatt Center to Budweiser Gardens) is over a year old now and the transition has been smooth. “It allowed us to do things we haven’t done before,” Ohl said, noting refurbishing the lounge as the Kings Club, which Budweiser did for the venue, and introducing the Good Sport Program, a designated driver outreach that is sponsored by Budweiser. He also noted a spike in Budweiser sales in the arena. Contact: (519) 667-5700

TURNING THIN AIR INTO MORE FLOOR PLANNED AT MTS CENTRE 48 VENUES TODAY SEPTEMBER 2013

The fun of having a National Hockey League team is about to be more fun for MTS Centre, Winnipeg, Manitoba, where architects have devised a way to build out gathering room in what has been air space. Two years ago, the Atlanta Thrashers relocated to MTS Centre, becoming the Winnipeg Jets, and the Manitoba arena has been on a building spree ever since. “We’re entering into our ninth year of operation and our second full year as a member of the NHL,” said Kevin Donnelly, GM at MTS Centre. In summer 2011, they invested $10 million in the building to get ready for the NHL season. Last year, with the strike, they ended up with a 24-game home schedule and weren’t able to continue at the preferred pace because of the uncertainty of budgets and of the season. “This year, we’re starting the first of a seven-year construction plan,” Donnelly said. TrueNorth Sports & Entertainment, which owns the Jets, calls the plan TrueNorth 2020 and has budgeted $35 million to complete an overhaul of the entire building, between seasons and even between games. The majority of the improvements will enhance the fan experience, though a new team complex is also on the boards. TrueNorth

is taking an AHL building and making it a premiere NHL facility. This year, they will spend $2 million rebuilding the team store, adding a second team store in the facility, making changes to the front entranceway, undertaking washroom renovations and upgrading and, “when you’ve accomplished that, you’ve spent $2 million.” Donnelly is particularly enamored of the architectural plans to build out open air spaces. “When the building was first designed, they allowed for grand open spaces. Now we’ve conceived how to lay in a floor and create more concourses where there currently is just open air without removing the grandiose feeling. Slotting in a floor or balcony allows you to add concessions, congregating areas, and finishes at a higher level.” The result will be thousands of additional square feet of gathering space he said of the 2014 project. The changes won’t add to capacity, which is 15,000 seats. “Our business model for the hockey team needed to sell 15,000 tickets and we have. We’re at the high end of our projections. The reality is adding seats to the top of the arena won’t really add to your bottom line. You’re adding your lowest priced seats. It’s managing the demand and price per seat that we’re focused on,” Donnelly added. MTS Centre has a more flexible calendar now. AHL games were always weekends, that being a weekend-warrior crowd. The NHL is a seven-days-a-week business, and every game is sold out and he has more open Saturdays. Contact: (204) 926-5503

REXALL PLACE GEARS UP FOR ALL CONCERTS, ALL THE TIME When the Edmonton Oilers move to a new arena in three years, Rexall Place is primed to become a concert and entertainment arena, with acoustics, sightlines and fan amenities that showcase music and entertainment, not goals and baskets. Richard Andersen, CEO of Northlands, Edmonton, Alberta, which includes the arena, was awaiting his third visit from the architects at Populous to discuss what to do with Rexall CONTINUED ON PAGE 50 >


WHERE SUPERSTARS MEET ACTUAL STARS. Clear skies in just 20 minutes, thanks to the largest retractable roof of its kind in the world. It’s a whole new BC Place in Vancouver, Canada. And a whole new way to do big events. Get all the details at bcplace.com.


VT SPOTLIGHT

TOPSTOPS

CANADA•2013

Based on concert and event grosses from 6/1/12 – 5/31/13, as reported to Venues Today.

> 2,001-5,000CAPACITY VENUE, LOCATION

1. Place des Arts, Montreal

NO. OF SEATS

TOTAL GROSS

2,982

$7,254,198

ATTENDANCE SHOWS

86,116

49

2. Encana Events Centre, Dawson Creek, B.C. 3,000

$3,304,172

51,156

20

3. Hamilton (Ontario) Place Theatre

2,205

$2,118,317

39,081

43

4. South Okanagan Events Centre, Penticton, B.C. 2,850

$1,517,194

22,665

7

5. Echo Beach @ Molson Canadian Amph., Toronto 5,000

$1,304,690

32,418

10

> 2,000 OR FEWER CAPACITY VENUE, LOCATION

NO. OF SEATS

TOTAL GROSS

ATTENDANCE SHOWS

1. Olympia Theatre, Montreal

1,438

$1,354,924

32,973

26

2. Virgin Mobile Corona Theatre, Montreal

650

$1,089,062

40,597

92

3. Salle Maurice O’Bready, Montreal

1,726

$669,553

12,617

9

4. Salle Albert Rousseau, Quebec City

1,348

$385,225

9,901

10

5. Vintage Theatre, Montreal

650

$338,764

10,793

17

Compiled by Daniel Gray, HotTickets@Venuestoday.com

JOCKEYING AROUND... CONTINUED FROM PAGE 48

Place when hockey moves out. They are negotiating a two-year lease extension with the team, which takes them through 2016, but the interim lease leaves a lot more income in Northlands’ pocket, monies it will spend on improvements. “Without an NHL team we don’t have to be a sports arena. We can bring in acousticians, fine tune the sound, put in new seats, take out some of the suites, widen the concourses, and improve food and drink. We can make it one of the finest concert venues in North America,” Andersen said. The plan is to spend $40 million to rehabilitate the hockey arena, making it the arena of choice for concerts and family shows. “Competition [with the proposed arena] is being encouraged,” he said. “It will be great for the community. Our citizens will see aggressive pricing. There will be lots of dates where hockey is sold out and we’re sold out for other sorts of events.” Northlands has 35 years remaining on its lease with the city and business has been booming. Thirty years ago, Northlands cut a sweetheart deal with the Oilers to bring hockey to Edmonton, including handing over naming 50 VENUES TODAY SEPTEMBER 2013

rights, all suite revenue, advertising and pouring rights. And they occupy 110 days a year. Andersen notes the venue will be freed up in three years and “we’re preparing for the future.” Looking back, 2013 has been fantastic. Along with a whole cadre of major concerts, including 11 sellouts and lots of double dates, they hosted the Brier Curling Championships which sold 300,000 tickets. On Sept. 8, they host the Canadian Country Music Association awards; followed by the Eagles, Sept. 9, The Monster Energy Rock Allegiance Tour, 10; the Praise Festival, 13; Zac Brown, 22; Life in Color electronic music festival in the Expo Center, 28; and Drake, 30. October bookings include Jason Aldean, Sarah Brightman, Pink and Brad Paisley. Including Oilers dates, the arena hosts about 220 event days, including about 50 concerts, Andersen said. He’s bullish on the market which has a lot of discretionary income, very low unemployement and high median income because of the energy and agricultural sectors. Northlands is a not-for-profit, typically running an $8-million-or-so net and and reinvesting in the 160-acre piece of property –

which includes thoroughbred racing, a gaming casino, and the second largest conference center in Canada. “We donate back to the community well over $1 million a year,” Andersen said. Rexall is the catalyst and, even without the Oilers, he believes it will continue to be. Contact: (780) 471-7283

SMALL MARKET, SMALL HOUSE, BUT FANS PAY MORE Sellouts have been the rule at the 4,200-4,500capacity Encana Events Center, Dawson Creek, British Columbia, where Ryan MacIvor is GM for Global Spectrum. From Eric Church to Motley Crue, the shows sell out. In fact, he booked Loretta Lynn at a small house configuration and has had to increase capacity for the October show three times, to make it another 4,200-seat sellout. McIvor said the venue has gotten more and more traction since its 2008 opening and has become a proven market where fans are willing to pay higher ticket prices. The city of Dawson Creek is only 12,000 people and the surrounding area can produce a population of 60,000, but they’re hungry for entertainment. Being relatively new, capital improvements are still minor improvements that dial in on the fan experience. On tap this year — switching to bottoms up units for better yield management of draft beer. Ovations Food Services is the concessionaire. Contact: (250) 795-3304

CANADIAN TIRE CENTRE SPECIALIZING IN LARGE-SCALE, INTERNATIONAL EVENTS Coming off a “fantastic year,” Tom Conroy, genereal manager of Canadian Tire Centre, Kanata, Ontario, credits specializing in large scale international events. He cites the Women’s World Ice Hockey Championships, Skate Canada, Canadian Figure Skating Championships, and CAS National Basketball Championships. This year, he even rented the parking lot to Cirque du Soleil’s big top for Cirque Totem. “They may also play indoors again this year. It CONTINUED ON PAGE 52 >


Ottawa – Canada For booking information: Tom Conroy s 613-599-0140 s tconroy@ottawasenators.com

SSE 2013-0673


VT SPOTLIGHT

JOCKEYING AROUND... CONTINUED FROM PAGE 50

wouldn’t concern me at all,” he said of the market’s appetite for entertainment. Canadian Tire Centre has packed them in in 2013, including Bruce Springsteen, Barbra Streisand, Justin Bieber, Bon Jovi, Madonna, and Fleetwood Mac. “It was huge,” he said of the fiscal year, which ended June 30. “Then we got into July and over a 21-day period, we did Paul McCartney, the Eagles, Bieber and KISS,” he said. Confirmed future dates, besides a full season of Ottawa Senators NHL games, include Brad Paisley, ZZ Top, Drake, Jeff Dunham, Disney on Ice, and the Canadian Figure Skating Championships in January. “That’s just what I have now,” Conroy said. “Promoters are always hunting and gathering; there are a lot of potentials.” Bookings include 44 NHL games, 34 Junior Hockey games, 20 basketball games, and 56-60 other events, some of which are multiruns making that 75 event days. “Plus we’ll rent out 145-175 hours of ice time on dark days,” Conroy said. In a good year, they will do 30-36 concerts. Capital improvements have mostly been behind the scenes, except for restaurant renovations to theme eateries for the new title sponsor, Canadian Tire Family of Companies, including Canadian Tire, Sport Chek, Sports Experts and Mark’s. The multiyear deal with Canadian Tire Companies was announced in June. Contact: (613) 599-0140

FIFTH YEAR ANNIVERSARY COMING UP IN ABBOTSFORD Having welcomed their one-millionth guest during a May Carrie Underwood concert at Abbotsford (British Columbia) Entertainment and Sports Centre, Jason Blumenfeld, GM there, is looking forward to celebrating the venue’s fifth anniversary next year. He thinks 2014 will top 2013, which was a “fantastic year with great concerts.” He went on sale at the end of August with a Reba McEntire date. Eric Church and Underwood were highlights of 2013. 52 VENUES TODAY SEPTEMBER 2013

Blumenfeld credits good relationships with agents and promoters and the hard work of Global Spectrum’s Brock Jones, VP of booking, for the success in Abbotsford. It’s highly convenient to be an hour’s drive from Vancouver, allowing Blumenfeld to visit with the major promoters in person a few times a year. It’s just about as good as being in the same town. He’s able to have dinner with his promoter partners. The only new player in his market this past year was MagicSpace Entertainment, a 30year-old firm out of Salt Lake City, Utah, which brought Broadway to Abbotsford. He’s now done Beauty and the Beast, Mythbusters and Lord of the Dance with John Ballard, MagicSpace Entertainment. In October, he is hosting the Grand Slam of Curling, a weeklong, first-time booking. Many of the teams involved will be qualifying for the Olympics. There is a large Indian community in the Abbotsford area, 20-30 percent of the population, he said, so he is programming for that demographic as well. Gurdas Maan, who has been called the Michael Jackson of India, will be returning for the second time this year. He sold out two years ago. Each April, they schedule an Indian concert in conjunction with the nearby Surrey (B.C.) Khalsa Day Parade. Blumenfeld is also looking at working more closely with the hockey team to promote together, with offers like a suite giveaway for a future concert during a hockey game. Including hockey, Abbotsford Entertainment & Sports Centre hosts about 90 events a year, including 12 concerts. Food and drink per caps average $7-$8 for hockey games, $10-$15 for concerts. “We have the great opportunity to get someone on the rise, or someone coming back. We’re a near-the-major-market play,” Blumenfeld said. Contact: (604) 743-5036

INCREASED CAPACITY, INTENSE COMPETITION DRIVES OLYMPIA THEATRE Dominic Chartrand, manager of Olympia Theatre, Montreal, is watching sports and

entertainment developments in Quebec carefully, looking for that partnership or niche that will keep the venue at the top of its game. Comedians fill the calendar, but he also looks for those rock shows that drive revenues and festival events that crowd Montreal. Evenko, one of the biggest concert promoters in the world, calls Montreal home and has been a major source of bookings for Olympia, but that golden goose is dying. Evenko is in the process of buying the 2,300seat Metropolis and already has the Corona, 800-1,000 capacity, both in Montreal. Chartrand can’t blame the promoter for wanting to break new acts and build loyalty in its own rooms, where they also keep all ancillary income. Live Nation and AEG Live are also in the venue business, he noted. And he still does 8-10 shows a year with evenko, but the time has come to be more creative. In Montreal, there is an agreement between Live Nation and evenko that Live Nation will not promote an event solely, without evenko. “I know this agreement is done,” Chartrand said. “And now Quebecor, the largest media empire in Quebec, is a player and may be working with Live Nation.” He’s watching Quebecor carefully. That company is building a new hockey arena in Quebec City and has hired Aldo Giampaolo, formerly with evenko and Cirque du Soleil, to help build an entertainment empire. “They want an NHL hockey team, but get it or not, they will be promoting events soon enough.” “If we’re in the middle of a war, maybe someone will want to partner up,” he surmised. “We have a place in Montreal to promote events that are 2,500 capacity. Quebecor doesn’t have such a theater.” Looking back, Olympia Theatre had a strong year, he said, noting the club hosts 150 shows a year. “There is still plenty of space available in the calendar. We’d like more business from anybody,” he added. In May 2012, owners invested $600,000 in the venue, tearing down a wall and expanding capacity to 2,438 seats. The addition has a separate entrance and can also be rented as a 150CONTINUED ON PAGE 54 >


Brock Jones VP of Booking 215.389.9450 bjones@global-spectrum.com global-spectrum.com

abbotsfordcentre.ca

dawsoncreekeventscentre.com

Jason Blumenfeld 604.743.5036 Abbotsford, BC

Ryan MacIvor 250.795.3304 Dawson Creek, BC

soec.ca

pentictonconventioncentre.com

Dean Clarke 250.490.2460 Penticton, BC


t10 Stunning Venues t1,061 Amazing Events t2,974,074 Paid Attendees t58 Sold Out Shows t$109,647,088 Gross Revenue

generalmotorscentre.com

wfcu-centre.com

budweisergardens.com

hecfi.ca

Vince Vella 905.438.8881 Oshawa, ON

Jason Toner 519.974.7979 Windsor, ON

Brian Ohl 519.667.5732 London, ON

Scott Warren 905.546.2601 Hamilton, ON

Numbers reflected above are events sold from January 1, 2012 - YTD inclusive through the ten Canadian venues managed by Global Spectrum Facility Management


VT SPOTLIGHT JOCKEYING AROUND... CONTINUED FROM PAGE 52

THAT WAS COOL!

capacity bar. The 1925-era theatre has a nice cachet, with a large viewing area so more people can be close to the stage. He’s renting out the bar twice a month, but word is spreading and that business is picking up.

Negotiation is the crux of booking events, and every venue manager comes across something

Contact: (514) 845-3524

different every time. Here are a few Canadian tales worth sharing: NEVER IN PERSON We just redid our deal with WWE and we were having trouble talking to each other in person. We negotiated the entire deal on voice messages, which I don’t think has ever happened before. We finally talked after we agreed to the deal. We both had quite a busy summer; it was quite funny. — Brian Ohl, Budweiser Gardens, London, Ont., on the deal he struck with Andrew Forstadt, WWE A FORMER BEATLE AND KNIGHTED TO BOOT Being involved in any way, shape or form with a Beatle, and a knighted member of the Queen’s Empire, is a thrill. Being ostensibly the venue manager for a sold out Paul McCartney show, the second-ever performer in a brand new $200-million building, that’s a great day. It was sunny, hot, beautiful, and he played for three hours. Stadium negotiations are always a bit more complex because the expenses are greater, but it all boils down to the same deliverable, but when the delivery is Paul McCartney, it’s just that much more fun. — Kevin Donnelly, MTS Centre, Winnipeg, Manitoba, on producing McCartney at Investor’s Group Field PUSH ‘EM BACK, PUSH ‘EM BACK We have an upcoming sold out Loretta Lynn date. Originally, we set out to do a half-house show. It has sold so well, we have pushed the stage back three times. The contract has been rewritten six times. It’s a great problem to have. Being able to sell more tickets and blow it out of the water. The agent has to be thrilled to the gills. We’ve never had the opportunity to push the stage back that many times. — Ryan MacIvor, Encana Events Centre, Dawson Creek, B.C., on taking Loretta Lynn’s Oct. 20 show from 2,500 to 4,500-plus seats BEING A SMALL MARKET IN A MAJOR MARKET Live Nation is located in Vancouver and we’re an hour away. When we first opened, I drove to Vancouver and took a chance I could get them to bring us heavy metal. I didn’t have any doubt. We’re close to the interior. Chilliwack to east of us. We got Megadeth. In the past, I’ve been in buildings that are smaller but wouldn’t have a Live Nation that close. It’s great to be able to go down there on a regular basis, drop off cupcakes or go out to a sushi dinner, so you don’t only have a business relationship but also a personal relationship. We’re a small market in a major market. When they come up here, we like to have the Mayor involved. With Mythbusters, the mayor was on stage being shot by paint balls. It’s a big deal getting Maroon 5 or Carrie Underwood here in a town of 140,000 people. Everyone knows what’s going on. — Jason Blumenfeld, Abbotsford (British Columbia) Entertainment & Sports Centre LOST IN TRANSLATION After working in Everett, Wash., the biggest change in Canadian negotiations is pricing. We can charge quite a bit more on ticket prices than in the states, which means we are getting pushed for higher guarantees. The way it was explained to me, if you go back 10 years when Canada was pulling 70 cents on the dollar, they had to drive the higher ticket prices to get to the basic U.S. guarantee value. So everyone in Canada was used to higher ticket prices and they kept that even when the dollar came up to par. Now artists are getting some higher guarantees which, to pull them out of the states and into Canada, is necessary. It’s a financial model that is somewhat flipped. — Adam Cook, Rexall Place/Northlands, Edmonton, Alberta

56 VENUES TODAY SEPTEMBER 2013

LEIWEKE CAN OPEN DOORS FOR AIR CANADA CENTRE A new Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment president and CEO, Tim Leiweke, will help boost an already healthy entertainment business at Air Canada Centre, Toronto. Bob Hunter, venue manager, said Leiweke has already helped influence the Eagles to schedule a return date in November, for three shows on this tour. After years in Los Angeles with AEG, Leiweke has tremendous connections with artists and agents, as well as family show producers. “Tim can open a lot of doors,” Hunter said. “He’s very engaged.” “We’re working on a couple dates now that I can’t name where he has jumped in to make sure we get top consideration.” Air Canada Centre will be 15 on Feb. 1. It is coming off a great year, booking all the big tours and a bunch of multiples, Hunter said. “Even Pink is coming back in the same year. She did a show in March and is back in November with two more dates. The artists love Toronto. We sell tickets. We’re fortunate to be in a major market and one that supports a lot of music.” The arena hosts 170-180 events a year, including 100 sports events (hockey, basketball and lacrosse), 55-60 concerts and another 20 sporting-type events. They are spending $8-10 million on capital improvements this year, readying the arena for Maple Leafs hockey and including replacing old telescopic seating in the lower bowl with Hussey seats. In the future, “we’ll look again at building a 5,000-seat theater. We have a great relationship with Live Nation so we might do that with them,” Hunter said. And everyone wants to replace their video boards with giant video boards, “so we’re looking at that.” The economy is strong, he added. “Toronto is not suffering anything at the moment to cause us to rethink where we’re going with anything we’re doing right now.” Contact: (780) 471-7283


NORTHLANDS – AN ENTERTAINMENT DESTINATION

Over four million annual guests; a 160 acre campus; the 26th busiest arena in the world; concerts, fairs, sporting events, conventions and meetings, horseracing and casino; the capability to host virtually every kind of event. Northlands is one of Canada’s premier entertainment and meeting destinations for a reason— we create tomorrow’s memories every day. northlands.com

Edmonton EXPO Centre | Rexall Place | Northlands Park


VT SPOTLIGHT

Q&A > JIM CRESSMAN > INVICTUS ENTERTAINMENT GROUP

No Building Too Small by GIL KAUFMAN

Jim Cressman sees opportunity where others don’t think to look. The head of British Columbia-based Invictus Entertainment Group has carved a unique niche in Canada by promoting shows in secondary markets, bringing major acts like John Cougar Mellencamp and Bob Dylan to towns that aren’t used to short drives for A-list concerts. “It’s been exciting for me, but it’s also one of those things where you get the opportunity to create something from nothing,” said Cressman about the business he’s developed over the past three years. “When you get the opportunity to do a show in a little town similar to the one you grew up in and see people so excited and see artists feeding off that and enjoying themselves, it’s a great feeling to know that you helped put that moment together.” You’ve established a reputation as the man who helps bring big acts like Carrie Underwood, KISS and Maroon 5 to smaller secondary markets in Canada. How did you become that guy? In Canada we have this great infrastructure where there are junior level hockey teams in different communities that play in multimillion-dollar, multiuse facilities. Some of the misconceptions the more isolated cities fall under is that if they build a multithousand-seat arena, concerts will flock to them and they’ll have revenue streams other than hockey teams. That didn’t happen and a lot of the buildings started chasing opportunities on their own. I looked at all these buildings, and at the benefit of them having an aggregate effect by building a coalition of secondary market venues. I approached agents and managers and said, ‘you can bring an act to Dawson’s Creek where the mean income is $100,000 and get a high ticket and still do a major market tour.’ Most of those (secondary)

58 VENUES TODAY SEPTEMBER 2013

markets don’t conflict with major markets. How many markets do you represent? At any given time between 12-20. Some tours have the technical ability to downscale, so you can increase the markets you can get into. They’re anywhere between 3,000-6,000 seats and there are probably 40 arenas that size in Canada, maybe more. What’s your formula for making that work? It starts with research. You make sure you have the right radio partners in each city to make sure the show will sell well. My company takes a big hands-on approach with ensuring buildings have the appropriate capabilities for the best artist and consumer experience possible. How do you make it work with partners like Global Spectrum? Some buildings managed by larger companies like Global Spectrum have this great culture of information sharing among their GMs, so their teams and staff are quite experienced and have been through a big show day before. I look for

partnerships with buildings that understand the value of putting on a great show and have great ground teams. I have two masters to serve in these situations: I have to make sure the artist or manager comes back to me and says, ‘I love playing all these small towns and want to do more on my next run.’ And the ticket buyer who says it’s worth paying a slightly higher ticket because I don’t have to drive five hours to a major market. What’s the markup for a major artist like Rihanna at one of these secondary market shows? We try not to make it any more than 20 percent, but we always do our best to frame it on social media with messaging for the community. If it’s in Penticton, British Columbia, we say you can see Carrie Underwood for a ticket that’s 20 percent higher, rather than driving four hours to Vancouver, paying for parking, a night in a hotel, and a babysitter and you’re saving money on that CONTINUED ON PAGE 60 >


INTRODUCING CANADA’S NEWEST PLACE TO PLAY

ST. CATHARINES SPECTATOR FACILITY ONTARIO, CANADA

HOME ICE FOR THE NIAGARA ICEDOGS OF THE ONTARIO HOCKEY LEAGUE Up to 7,000 seats for concerts 52’ to rigging steel In-house stage, floor covering, chairs, spotlights Another full service SMG managed facility! For booking information contact Ken Noakes knoakes@smgworld.com 905.684.2778

UE N N O E 14 GI V E 0 R IE A R R 2 M E R RE GA MB P E NIA PTE H T HE SE T G IN NIN PE

O


VT SPOTLIGHT

NO BUILDING TOO SMALL CONTINUED FROM PAGE 58

experience — and driving 10 minutes to the show! Thankfully, the response in small cities and secondary markets has been really supportive. How do you message that? There are opportunities to do interviews with local newspapers so people get the idea and won’t think to themselves, ‘this is an expensive ticket.’ But [rather] they’re getting an opportunity to see John Mellencamp in a 3,500-seat arena versus a 12,000-seat building, coupled with all the other benefits. I’m from a ranching/farming background. I know about growing up in an isolated area where there’s never anything to do, especially in your teenage years. I wanted to bridge that gap. As much as it makes good business sense you’re also contributing to the arts scene in these communities and give people a chance to experience something they may never experience again or not in a lifetime. How do you convince managers/agents that setting up in Moose Jaw and Abbotsford is a good play for them? It comes back to honesty and transparency. I’m very upfront with the limitations in these communities: there’s no five-star hotel, this building is rigged to hold 80,000 pounds and not 120,000. I really make sure the artists and management know what they’re in for. I also talk about the benefits of them fetching a higher ticket. A lot of acts have been through the major markets so many times that they experience consumer fatigue. The first time you bring them into a secondary market … they see ardent fans buying merchandise like something they haven’t seen in a while. I had Mellencamp and Dylan doing merch numbers in Prince George, British Columbia, that they haven’t seen in 15 years. Have you seen competition come up? In the last year [our business] has really exploded and this will be our biggest year with about a dozen secondary-market tours. Any time you do something that is successful a level of competition will come up. By and large I’ve been able to create great relationships with buildings and city partners that’s made for a level of fidelity that’s made it easier for me to do these shows rather than an outsider.

60 VENUES TODAY SEPTEMBER 2013

Jim Cressman and Lisa Zechmeister from Invictus Entertainment pose with KISS.

What are the unique challenges of bringing big acts into small towns? You’ve got to make sure you have prerig days set within the routing where you need them. Carrie Underwood’s tour manager was incredible and he worked with our team and did his homework on the venues and, where necessary, he tailored the production to ensure that consumers would get a great experience and Carrie’s full show. What’s your most reliable way to get the word out about these shows in communities where you have to rely on a higher percentage of the population to come out to be profitable? The ability to message and bombard through Twitter and Facebook is very effective. But the key is also making sure that if I’m the guy doing six concerts in Abbotsford, British Columbia. I stagger on-sale dates and inventory so I’m not going after the same audience with every show. It’s about being a good steward of the marketplace. How do you work with the big promoters like Live Nation and AEG Live? In a facility management sense, Global Spectrum has been very innovative and enterprising in creating structures that work for promoters. When you’re rolling an A+ level act through a small arena and have to lay out a high guarantee, there’s not a lot of margin and

Global has made it work for me. I also have a good partnership with Live Nation on many tours they bring to Canada where I pick up the secondary markets and they do the majors. I’ve also worked with AEG Live in the past on John Mellencamp and Carrie Underwood. I’ve found that by working in a realm that no one was really working actively, I could create an atmosphere of diplomacy so that I can work with Live Nation instead of working against them. So many of the independent promoters in the U.S. have been swallowed up. What’s your secret and why stay independent? Without sounding self-serving, I have a knack for [creating] great collaborative partnerships with companies like Global Spectrum and city and building partnerships that really enhance the economic impact an A-level show can have on a city and the profile of an arena. I also go to a company like Live Nation and say, ‘I can complement what you’re doing by giving the artist that you have on tour an opportunity to play more places.’ Part of it comes down to diplomacy and doing a great job on the show, too. We make sure that all the logistics are handled and people going into these cities they’ve never been to before get timely responses, and we anticipate any concerns they might have. Contact: (403) 262-2245


VT SPOTLIGHT

Historic floodwaters in June devastated the Calgary Stampede fairgrounds.

CALGARY DRIES OFF Facilities in Alberta are recovering from the June flood that left power out and many underwater b y M A R Y WA D E B U R N S I D E

T

wo weeks before the Calgary Stampede was scheduled to open, 30 million gallons of water flooded into the Scotiabank Saddledome, where four bigname concerts were due to take place during the July 5-14 event. The water on the event floor rose to 9 feet and 6 inches, said Libby Raines, the vice president of building operations for the Calgary Flames, a National Hockey League team, and the major tenant at the Scotiabank Saddledome, which shares grounds with the Calgary Stampede. The Stampede was the original manager of the Saddledome, which was taken over in 1994 by the Flames, with the 62 VENUES TODAY SEPTEMBER 2013

Stampede retaining the right to book the building during the 10-day fair. Live Nation manages the nonfair events. At first, Saddledome officials thought they could drain the water and fix the damage in time for the concerts – Carly Rae Jepsen, Tim McGraw, the Dixie Chicks, and KISS. “The water comes in and you think, ‘OK, we’ll get the water out and we’ll have to do some cleaning,” Raines said. “I think I was a little naïve. When you have that much water that quickly comes in, it’s moving fast and it’s just turning things topsy-turvy. It was devastation when we got down to the event floor.” Even after that, Saddledome officials considered getting new seats and a new stage in

time for Jepsen, the first performer scheduled to perform. Eventually, however, it became clear: “The quantum of problems was such we didn’t think we could provide — and the Stampede agreed — a concert experience that was good enough.” So far, all the concerts except Jepsen’s have been rescheduled – the Dixie Chicks, Oct. 31; KISS, Nov. 8 and Tim McGraw, Nov. 2. Before that, two sold-out Eagles concerts are schedule to take place on Sept. 11 and 12 and then the Flames will take on the Edmonton Oilers on Sept. 14 in events that will announce to the world that the Scotiabank CONTINUED ON PAGE 64 >


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VT SPOTLIGHT CALGARY DRIES OFF CONTINUED FROM PAGE 62

Saddledome is back in business. Many Calgary venues were affected by heavy rains that caused the Bow and Elbow rivers to rise and seep into the downtown core of Alberta’s largest city on June 20-21, prompting the evacuation of the area. The Scotiabank Saddledome and the Calgary Stampede had two of the highest-profile stories. As of August, many venues were still cleaning up, including both the Saddledome and the Stampede, neither of which could provide exact figures of how much they expect the disaster ultimately to cost. “We don’t have final figures at this point,” Raines said. “It’s millions of dollars.” In mid-August, Raines was projecting occupancy to take place at the end of the month, following the complete reconstruction of the event floor and replacement of the equipment. “We have a huge kitchen that supports 76 suites and a 300-seat dining room, plus meeting rooms,” Raines said. “It all had to be gutted and restored. All the dressing rooms, gutted and restored. The ice plant had to be gutted and restored. The list goes on and on. We had to do a total rebuild of the event floor, the guts

of the building’s mechanics, the electrical system, everything.” While some venues — including McMahon Stadium and Southern Jubilee Auditorium — reported being “high and dry” and away from the water, other venues were not so lucky. Some had to deal with actual water that seeped into the buildings while others merely had to cope without power for a week. DOUBLE WHAMMY FOR NATIONAL MUSIC CENTRE The National Music Centre, a 30,000 squarefoot building, features a museum and artifacts as well as an education center for children. For the National Music Centre (www.nmc.ca/), the flood was a double whammy, because in addition to the current facility, a new one scheduled to open in 2016 is under construction nearby. Both sites were affected, said Mary Kapusta, the building’s marketing and public relations manager. “It’s just a few blocks from us,” she said. “The flood was hard for us.” Luckily, however, the new site, which is in the early stages of construction, just filled up like a swimming pool and then drained a few days later, leaving no lasting damage.

The new building will be 160,000 square feet, Kapusta said, and has a budget of $150 million. The design features two towers and will incorporate the existing King Edward Hotel, which will be turned into a music venue. The new facility also will feature a 300seat performance venue. At the existing facility, which just reopened Aug. 1, staff members worked to pump water out of the building. Ironically, the old facility had several artifacts stored in the basement that were due to be moved into a storage unit in a 90-day period. Instead, staff members working overtime got the job done in six days. “In a six-day period, we moved 7,000 square feet of items out of the storage space,” Kapusta said. Piano movers worked midnight shifts to transport 143 pianos and a volunteer task force also was gathered for the job. “It was a very organized volunteer effort,” Kapusta said. Because many of the items received water damage, employees now are working at the off-site location to repair what can be salvaged. “In the process of the aftermath, we’re going through the catalog, processing everything and looking at the level of damage and CONTINUED ON PAGE 66 >

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64 VENUES TODAY SEPTEMBER 2013


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VT SPOTLIGHT CALGARY DRIES OFF CONTINUED FROM PAGE 64

making those choices of what we are going to repair,” Kapusta said, estimating the final figure for damages will be in the millions. AN ISLAND ZOO UNDERWATER The Calgary Zoo was another hard-hit facility. Situated on St. George’s Island on the Bow River near downtown, and partially on the north shore of the river, 90 percent of the island was engulfed with water, said Laurie Skene, the zoo’s communications manager. “The water took as much as a week to recede from some areas of the zoo, although much of it was pumped off the island in the days immediately following the flood,” Skene said. “The flood hit on Friday, June 21 and, by Tuesday, staff were again able to walk around the island, although there was a lot of river silt and debris left in many areas.” After hearing about the potential for the flooding at 2:30 p.m. MDT on June 20, staff members evacuated 158 animals, including six tigers, four lions, two snow leopards, red pandas, pot-bellied pigs, cavies, alpacas, Japanese macaques, zebras and more. Some animals remained behind secured on high pasture, Skene said, such as camels, goats

and ostriches; and others were secured in buildings with high holding areas, such as gorillas. Elephants and giraffes remained in their buildings and the elephants only had to deal with a foot of water, Skene said. The water rose high enough in the hippo building that a young male was able to swim over a holding area wall but by Sunday evening he had been secured again. The zoo is city-owned and insurance companies sent in professional flood remediation companies to perform demolition and clean-up. Estimated cost to do all the repairs is $50 million, Skene said, plus an additional $10 million in lost revenue for the time the zoo was closed from June 21 to the partial reopening on July 30. SANDBAGGING EPCOR CENTRE The Epcor Centre was hosting a Ziggy Marley concert in its largest venue, the 1,796-seat Jack Singer Hall, on June 20 when the police began evacuating downtown Calgary, said Wes Jenkins, director of facility and operations. The nearly sold-out concert was able to finish up but the next day when the staff returned, they realized that the facility’s underground parkade, or parking structure, was filling up with water.

Utilizing existing sandbags on hand at the theater normally there to counterweight scenery, workers built a barrier that was 2 feet tall and 20 feet wide. “The water got within one inch of the top of the ramp,” Jenkins said. “If it had gone an inch higher, it would have flooded all of our mechanical rooms for the whole facility, which would have shut us down for a year. The air handlers are there and the boilers are there. The water contained sewage, so if it had gotten into the mechanical rooms, the air handling system would have required replacement. In contrast, the nearby Calgary City Hall “turned into a seven-story swimming pool,” with an estimated $4 million repair estimate for its parkade alone. “That building is looking at seven months to be open again, or nine months or a year,” Jenkins said. Altogether, Jenkins estimates that the Epcor Centre suffered $40,000-$50,000 in damage. As the facility’s insurance deductible happens to be $50,000, “we might go through municipal claims.” Interviewed for this story: Libby Raines, (403) 777-3691; Mary Kapusta, (403) 543-5115; Laurie Skene, (403) 2329300; Wes Jenkins, (403) 294-7455

SELLING OUT SHOWS SINCE 1999 WAYNE ZRONIK (VICE PRESIDENT, LIVE ENTERTAINMENT) 416.815.5926 OR WAYNE.ZRONIK@MLSE.COM // TRICIA SILLIPHANT (DIRECTOR, LIVE ENTERTAINMENT) 416.815.5763 OR TRICIA.SILLIPHANT@MLSE.COM

WWW.THEAIRCANADACENTRE.COM 66 VENUES TODAY SEPTEMBER 2013


2013 Venues Today Canada Spotlight