K-ZONE: KCon, a three-day celebration of all things K-pop, drew 46,000 attendees to Crypto.com Arena, jump-starting a record-breaking 10-day stretch at the facility. (Courtesy venue)

Record per caps for two Drake concerts

Crypto.com Arena had the busiest stretch of concerts in its history over a 10-day period in late August, setting records for food, beverage and merchandise sales for a pair of Drake concerts in downtown Los Angeles.

Hurricanes and construction hammers failed to deter the festivities, Aug 18-27, at AEG’s flagship venue. Officials committed to keeping the arena open during a multiyear, nine-figure renovation with short breaks between events. 

In late August, it was a race against time and Mother Nature with a rare hurricane hitting southern California, but it all worked out in the end, said Lee Zeidman, president of Crypto.com Arena and the Peacock Theater at LA Live. 

A combined six concerts were all held in the round at the arena, starting with three nights of KCon, an all-star lineup of K-pop acts, followed by Drake’s two shows and culminating with a Zach Bryan concert. 

The 360-degree concert configuration hasn’t been done for a half-dozen consecutive events since the arena opened in 1999, Zeidman said.

In addition to those six shows, Feld Entertainment’s Monster Jam took place at the arena with five weekend performances, Aug. 25-27. There was one day to fill the building with dirt before Bigfoot & Co. crushed it.

All told, nearly 136,000 people attended the spurt of concerts and dirt shows over the 10-day stretch, despite city officials’ pleas for local residents to stay home as Hurricane Hilary passed through Los Angeles.

The peak of the storm didn’t stop 15,131 ticket holders from showing up  Sunday, Aug. 20, for the final KCon performance, plus a large number of staff on hand to work the event.

“There were 46,000 people for those three K-pop shows and one of them was on the night where the mayor said ‘do not leave your house’ because of the storm,” Zeidman said. “No one knew if Hilary was going to pass over, take a direct hit on LA, or stay to the east. Ultimately, it did have a direct impact over downtown LA that night.”

At 5 a.m. the following day, Monday, Aug. 21, load-in for the Drake concerts started, tied to a massive production with 41 trucks and 19 buses, comparable to a stadium show. Apart from the arena loading dock, the Los Angeles Convention Center next door had space to handle the spillover of transportation vehicles.

Zeidman said nobody knew how heavy the weather was still going to be in LA early the next week and whether any concerts would have to be postponed to a later date. They all went off without a hitch. 

Drake’s “It’s All A Blur” tour stop in LA set new arena highs of $71 for combined food, drink and merchandise on night one, and $35.87 for food and drink alone for night two. The F&B per cap for night one of Drake was $32.99. 

It was a heavy cocktail-drinking crowd, Zeidman said.

Doing the math, Levy generated $600,000 in gross food and drink sales with 18,209 in attendance. 

For night two of Drake, the gross was $660,000 for food and drink with 18,417 in attendance.

Levy, whose Rank & Rally runs retail at Crypto.com Arena, generated about $692,000 in gross merchandise sales.

“Not in my wildest dreams did I think we would sell that much merch and food for those six shows, but when (an artist) is at that level, fans are not selling their tickets,” Zeidman said. “We’ve also done quite a bit to get people in here quicker, cutting lines down with grab-and-gos and mobile ordering.”

AEG did have to move one WNBA Los Angeles Sparks game on Aug. 22 to USC’s Galen Center down the street while Drake performed at Crypto.com Arena. AEG paid for all expenses for the temporary move, Zeidman said.

Renovations “got a little wonky in terms of all these shows running up against each other,” he said, but the plan in place worked with help from general contractor PCL Construction and designers Meis Architects and Gensler.

“Everybody knew well in advance that this 10-day timeframe would be a challenge, so we sped up renovations on the front side and are making some time up on the back side as well,” Zeidman said.

Over the next month, the arena will keep pace with Monet Global, a beauty cosmetics company, taking over the building for a 10-day event, plus more WNBA games and a few concerts. 

For six days in September, the building will be shut down to install the ice surface for NHL hockey and a new JBL/Harman sound system, a $3.4 million investment.

“We feel confident about hitting the Oct. 1 deadline (to complete the second phase of upgrades) to be ready to go for the Kings’ first preseason game on Oct. 3,” Zeidman said. “It’s been a pretty phenomenal run.”