Hot Wheels Monster Trucks Live made 12 stops in North America earlier this year. (Courtesy Raycom-Legacy Content Co.)

Raycom-Legacy Content Co. motorsports property will travel to Europe in 2020

Hot Wheels Monster Trucks Live has booked a handful of European dates for 2020 on top of a second leg of North America performances over the next six months, said Ken Hudgens, president and CEO of Raycom-Legacy Content Co., the event producer.

The international route starts Jan. 3 at Manchester (England) Arena and runs through Feb. 8 at the SSE Hydro in Glasgow, Scotland. Other stops are in Birmingham, England; Lodz, Poland; and Denmark, where the venue and dates will be announced soon.

All told, officials expect to book 10 to 15 dates internationally next year, Hudgens said.

In addition, Live Nation has signed on as a partner for the European shows to sell tickets and help market the production. Hudgens and Eric Cole, another Raycom-Legacy Content Co. executive, previously worked for Live Nation Motorsports, which Feld Entertainment acquired in 2008.

The expansion outside of North America fits the strength of the brand of Hot Wheels owner Mattel, he said.

“We wanted to do international, which was important to us,” Hudgens said. “It’s always been in our plan. We don’t have the infrastructure to do it ourselves with the expertise needed to quickly expand. (Live Nation) was our first call and a natural partner.”

The new dates come on the heels of a successful initial run of secondary markets earlier this year in the U.S. after Hot Wheels Monster Trucks Live launched in November 2018.

The first leg covered 12 stops and 31 performances from January through April, attracting total attendance of 150,000, Hudgens said. The highest-attended event was at KFC Yum! Center in Louisville, where the monster truck show drew about 25,000 for two shows.

Merchandise per caps, which include the sale of Hot Wheels Monster Truck Live diecast toys, have been north of $5, which are significant for a family show, Hudgens said.

Overall, the event has skewed younger than officials expected, drawing more 5-year-olds experiencing not just their first monster truck show but their first live event, according to event data and observation of the crowds in general, he said.

Ticket prices average from $17 to $25 and $5 to $8 for kids. That plus the free Crash Zone pre-event function to see the trucks and meet the drivers are incentives for families with small children, Hudgens said.

The same value holds true for the diecast monster trucks that sell for $10, he said.

It also helps that many parents who grew up collecting Hot Wheels cars strongly identify with the 50-year-old Mattel brand and the nostalgia tied to it.

“I’m 54 … and anybody my age pretty much grew up with Hot Wheels,” he said. “The show’s been a way to connect those experiences that people had in their youth. It sort of comes 360 (degrees) where they’re getting that same experience for their kids.”

“For Hot Wheels, as the lay of the land from the toy perspective changes, it’s interactive gaming along with other things they’re doing. It’s a great way to connect that ‘live’ (experience) to the toys and game play,” Hudgens said.

The second leg of North America dates covers four big league arenas among the 12 stops: AT&T Center in San Antonio; Bell MTS Place in Winnipeg, Ontario; Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City; and Smoothie King Center in New Orleans. The route starts July 27 in San Antonio and ends Dec. 29 at Cure Insurance Arena in Trenton, N.J.

“It’s a little bit of chopping wood,” Hudgens said. “We have to prove to the arena partners that this is a viable property. We need to keep putting good numbers on the board. The more we can do that, the more we can expand the number of arenas and markets that we play domestically.”

Competitors include Feld Entertainment’s Monster Jam and Traxxas Monster Truck Tour, run by Touring Pro Events in Phoenix.

“Nobody has any delusions that it’s going to be an overnight thing,” he said. “There’s a lot of monster truck properties out there that are entrenched with venues. We just have to do our work and produce a great show and be financially significant for the buildings.”