It's time to vote for the Venues Today Hall of Headline winners.
The final honors will go to individuals who have made a significant contribution to the industry in 2015, making headlines along the way. Winners are chosen by their peers (VT subscribers) and the Venues Today staff.
Please select one choice per category — there are five categories total: News, Bookings, Marketing, Ops and Tech, and Concessions.
SUBSCRIBERS, SUBMIT YOUR VOTE NO LATER THAN FRIDAY, OCT. 30TH — VOTING WILL CLOSE AT MIDNIGHT. ONLY ACTIVE SUBSCRIBER VOTES WILL COUNT.
This year's winners will be profiled in our December Year-End Issue. You can also fax your vote to (714) 378-0040; email to firstname.lastname@example.org or mail your ballot to Venues Today, P.O. Box 2540, Huntington Beach, CA 92647
2015 HALL OF HEADLINES NOMINEES
Andrew Dreskin, co-founder and CEO, Ticketfly
For the sale of Ticketfly to Pandora, a $450-million transaction. In what could be a game changer for the ticketing world, the combination of Pandora and Ticketfly will seek to solve the longstanding problem of event discovery by seamlessly connecting Pandora’s nearly 80 million monthly active music fans to events they’ll love. This will enable artists and promoters to sell out more shows and will strengthen the bond between artists and their fans. The companies will also harness the power of their combined data to create new tools for music makers to increase their revenue and improve recommendations for fans to enhance their overall music experience.
Brad Gessner, SVP of AEG Facilities and General Manager of the LA Convention Center
For the vision that led to the Los Angeles Convention Center’s (LACC) successful transition from public to private management. The LACC is the largest city asset that has been successfully privatized. His vision, business acumen, leadership skills and ability to promote an inclusive and cohesive work environment directly contributed to the LACC’s achievements since AEG Facilities took over management. Operational efficiency has improved, building maintenance and aesthetics are enhanced and client and attendee satisfaction have increased while saving millions of dollars for the city’s General Fund. LACC concluded the fiscal year on June 30, 2015, with an operating profit of $4.1 million before reimbursing the City of Los Angeles $1.5 million for the Department of Convention & Tourism Development (CTD) overhead.
Danny Huston and Jeff Blomsness, Co-CEOs, North American Midway Entertainment
For spearheading the sale of North America’s largest carnival, NAME, to TownSquare Media for $75.5 million. NAME, which is the largest provider of rides, games and food concessions in North America, had net revenues and adjusted EBITDA of $92.9 million and $11.2 million respectively. The purchase price was 6.7 multiple of EBITDA. With the addition of NAME to its Live Events division, Townsquare Media will count a net revenue and adjusted EBITDA of $478 million and $109 million respectively, with the Live Events segment representing 30 percent of total revenue. Huston said that 100 percent of NAME’s team will stay intact and the acquisition will not affect events that the company already routes, just potentially add more.
James Patrick, executive director, Velma V. Morrison Center for the Performing Arts, Boise, Idaho
For increasing bookings substantially and spearheading upgrades to the center. Since James Patrick became executive director of the Morrison Center almost five years ago, upgrades have included the following: D&B Audiotechnik sound system and line array, NamoLumens lobby video display, MorrisonCenter.com website (responsive to mobile devices), Ticketmaster ticketing system (interactive seat map, online season ticket renewal, and print at home functionality), flexible curtain system (masks off the balcony seating to support events requiring up to a 1,300 seating capacity, instead of the full 2,037), chiller (HVAC system), geothermal conversion, LED conversion, stage lighting (spot lights, lighting board), orchestra chairs and stage risers, 12,000 lumens stage projector and the administrative office remodel.
Bryan Perez, CEO, AXS/Veritix
For Outbox AXS’ acquisition of Veritix, which will result in a new brand and major player in managing the entire event experience. AXS was launched in 2011 by AEG and Cirque du Soleil and Jean-Francoys Brousseau. Veritix was launched in 2006 by Dan Gilbert and the Cleveland Cavaliers. The combined entity, to be renamed soon, will partner the consumer-focused interface and ticketing platform of Outbox AXS, including AXS Invite and the AXS Waiting Room with Veritix’s season ticket management technology and its inventive Flash Seats®digital, ID-based ticketing technology. With more than $2 billion of combined transactions annually, Outbox AXS will now have a significant market share in North American sports, providing select ticketing services to almost 25% of NBA teams and one-third of all MLS teams, as well as an extensive presence in other domestic and international sporting events and franchises.
Dave Scott, president and CEO, Comcast Spectacor
For rebranding Comcast Spectacor’s three divisions – Global Spectrum, Ovations Food Services, and Paciolan – as one singular, new brand – Spectra. Dave Scott raised the bar on live entertainment. “Clients and customers look for seamless experiences whether at a trade show, concert or sporting event,” said Scott in making the announcement on June 2, 2015. Spectra consists of three divisions: Venue Management, Food Services & Hospitality and Ticketing & Fan Engagement. With a combined 300+ clients at more than 400 global properties that host millions of visitors each year, Spectra is transforming the way venues present live events.
Kevin Starkey, VP and COO, Anaheim Arena Management, Honda Center
For overseeing the development of major improvements to three sports & entertainment facilities while also leading Honda Center’s self-operated food and beverage division to record sales. Starkey’s most recent large-scale endeavor to debut was Honda Center’s state-of-the-art scoreboard, sound system, control room and video edit suites which were first seen by the public in late September, with each greeted by rave reviews. In addition, Starkey was intricately involved this past summer in the construction and logistical aspects of the San Diego Gulls' move to Southern California, overseeing a major renovation to the team’s locker room facility at Valley View Casino Center and the full retrofitting process of an existing warehouse, which has been converted to an ice rink and office space which will soon open as the club’s official practice facility in Poway, Calif. Overall, Starkey has overseen more than $100 million in facility upgrades since 2005.
Doug Thornton, executive VP of SMG and Steve Tadlock and Michael Krouse, regional VPs of SMG
For leading the effort that resulted in the City of Los Angeles Department of Parks and Recreation awarding the new management contract of the iconic Greek Theatre to SMG. The process to win the award was extremely competitive, followed closely by national media, and took many months to complete.
Tim LeFevour, general manager/SMG, Soldier Field, Chicago
For hosting the last of the Grateful Dead’s Fare Thee Well farewell shows over Fourth of July weekend. With over four million requests for tickets, the shows were beyond sold out, bringing about 213,000 fans to the stadium over the three nights. The event set a new food and beverage record, with per caps at around $32. The concerts were part of a record-breaking summer that generated $6.74 million in revenue, a record for a one-month period at Soldier Field.
Louis Messina, president, Messina Touring Group, and Lee Zeidman, president, Staples Center, Los Angeles
For engineering Taylor Swift’s return to Staples Center for five sold-out shows (Aug. 21, 22, 24, 25 and 26). The unprecedented and sold-out five-show run gave Swift the all-time Staples Center record for most sold-out performances by any artist in the 15-year history of the arena, with a total of 16 sold-out concerts. To commemorate the historic achievement, Los Angeles Lakers guard and 5-time NBA Champion Kobe Bryant surprised Swift on-stage during her opening night appearance to congratulate her and announce that a “Championship Banner” to commemorate her record would forever hang from the Staples Center rafters alongside those representing the LA Kings and Los Angeles Lakers championships. Bryant also shared with Swift the fact that her 16 sold-out shows equals the 16 NBA Championships that the Lakers have won.
Jeff Nickler, GM, and Michael Owens, director of Booking, BOK Center, Tulsa, Okla.
For delivering a historic and record-breaking year at one of the Midwest’s top concert destinations. BOK Center finished its busiest fiscal year in history nearly six years after opening its doors with record attendance (810,208 fans), gross revenue and operating profit. Highlights included a two-week Garth Brooks residency (seven sold-out shows), the only arena date on the One Direction North American stadium tour, the launch of Rush’s “R40 Live 40th Anniversary Tour,” the first nationally televised UFC event in Tulsa since 1994, and more. In addition, SMG-produced outdoor festivals and special events, welcoming over a quarter of a million fans to Downtown Tulsa.
John Page, president, Wells Fargo Center/Spectra Venue Management, Philadelphia
For landing the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia (July 2016). This marks the second time in the arena’s nearly 20-year history that it will host a political convention (RNC 2000). The convention, scheduled for the week of July 25, 2016, is expected to draw upwards of 30,000 visitors and generate between $170 million and $250 million in economic impact for the city, local and national officials said. Page and his team will convert the arena from the home of the Philadelphia Flyers and the 76ers into a site for the DNC to nominate a candidate to run for President of the United States.
Chris Semrau, AGM; Denny Sanford, Premier Center/SMG, Sioux Falls, S.D.
For the successful booking and grand opening of the new Denny Sanford Premier Center in Sioux Falls, S.D. The Premier Center hosted 22 different national touring events during its inaugural 12 months, including sold-out performances by The Eagles, Ed Sheeran, Luke Bryan, Jason Aldean, Eric Church, Kenny Chesney, Lady Antebellum and Def Leppard, as well as two sold-out nights of the Professional Bull Riders Built Ford Tough tour. The Premier Center featured a diverse mix of entertainment in its first year including nine pop/rock acts, five country artists and four family shows, becoming a must-play in the Midwest.
Keith Sheldon, VP, Programming, Barclays Center, Brooklyn, N.Y.
For restructuring the venue’s programming and event finance departments, including: on-boarding and management of six newly-hired employees, formation of an artist experience and CRM division of the programming department to help build affinity for Barclays Center with artists and content providers and opening of an L.A. office to grow Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment’s presence and national reach. He has taken on management responsibility of several key initiatives to improve quantity and quality of entertainment offerings at Barclays Center, including: Management of Sports and Entertainment Advisory Board, the Brooklyn Direct Platform, the West Coast Office, Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment CRM Platform and Gifting Program, and the Billboard Lounge. Sheldon has also helped to shape other key BS&E projects, including the closing and development of Long Island Sports and Entertainment Village (Nassau Coliseum) and the planning and development for a reimagined LIU Paramount Theatre in downtown Brooklyn.
OPS & TECH
Dave Costain, Chief Operations Officer, Team San Jose
For reducing Team San Jose’s carbon footprint and executing sustainable business practices with regards to food and beverage. Costain has overseen Food and Beverage, Catering Sales, Event and Facilities Services, Event Setup, Convention Services and Visitors Services for Team San Jose for the last seven years. Over the past 18 months Team San Jose has donated over 250,000 meals to local nonprofits through local initiatives Hunger at Home and Waste No Food. These two programs have called upon the efforts of several community partners from hotels, local businesses and other organizations who are able to donate everything from food to blankets, sheets, pillowcases, towels, toiletries and more. These efforts have reduced Team San Jose’s impact on the landfill as well as carbon emissions.
Jim McCue, SVP, SMG and John Bolton, Vice President, SMG
For developing a specialized tool that enables SMG facilities to achieve higher and consistent standards and results, with a dedicated web-based intranet marketing support services site. McCue and Bolton provide corporate oversight of facility marketing through a network of Regional Directors of Marketing serving 68 arenas, 61 theatres and 13 stadiums in the SMG network. In addition, they have created a company-wide Best Practices program. These Best Practices are collected and presented on this SMG intranet website focused on serving as a central repository for best practices programs, sample venue marketing plans, sales plans, press releases, social media plans, public relations plans, media-buying contracts, operating standards and more.
Stephen Rosebrook, GM, Barclays Center, Brooklyn, N.Y.
For managing hundreds of events at Barclays Center while many complex construction projects have been occurring inside and outside the arena. Stephen Rosebrook oversees 60+ full-time employees and more than 1,000 part-time employees in all front and back-of-house areas of Barclays Center’s Operations. He oversaw the relocation of the 2,000-person employee locker and uniform rooms to create space for building the New York Islanders campus. Then he worked with architects to design and construct the 10,000-sq.-ft. Islanders' Locker Room Campus, while also ensuring that the arena is in full compliance with the NHL as a facility (lighting, video, temperature and humidity control) and with game execution (snow crew, flood timing, and specialized staffing). This included a number of technology enhancements, including installation and integration of cabling, cameras, a second video coaching system for the Islanders, and a new video replay room for NHL off-ice officials with a direct line to Toronto. Also under construction concurrently was the Barclays Center’s new Billboard Lounge, a 5,500-sq.-ft. space that opened in October.
Casey Sparks, AGM, and John Dodd, director of Operations, BOK Center, Tulsa, Okla.
For completing a dynamic new exterior landscaping project at BOK Center that has transformed the 10 acres of parkland around the arena while also promoting the venue’s social media messaging. The centerpiece of the reimagined landscape design is a massive rock garden near the front plaza that features the memorable Twitter and Instagram tagline “#rocktheBOK” in colorful lava stone. The $100,000 ecologically sustainable project included a complete overhaul of all exterior planters, the design of a massive new irrigation system, and the installation of new decorative LED lighting. Plants native to Oklahoma provide seasonal color and protection from the region’s unpredictable climate.
AJ Boleski & Christine Pileckas, GM, director of Sales & Marketing/SMG, Intrust Bank Arena, Wichita, Kan.
For the 5th Anniversary Concert Series commemorating that milestone and featuring a diverse lineup of concerts: Bob Seger (Feb. 17), Fleetwood Mac (March 31), Florida Georgia Line (Sept. 24), and Foo Fighters (Sept. 30). A special commemorative section was inserted into the major local daily paper, the Wichita Eagle, in January and featured milestones and achievements throughout the first five years, a look at what’s to come in the next five years, an overview of what’s new at Intrust Bank Arena since the grand opening in 2010, interviews and quotes from founding partners and stakeholders, and much more. In addition, Intrust Bank Arena launched a completely new, redesigned website to kick off the fifth anniversary. Finally, commemorative ticket stock and souvenir cups were rolled out and fifth anniversary themed banners were installed on street poles throughout the entire downtown arena neighborhood.
Meghan Doyle, director of Marketing, BOK Center, Tulsa, Okla.
For launching an elaborate marketing campaign to welcome Garth Brooks back to his hometown. In January 2015, Tulsa legend Garth Brooks returned to his birthplace in Oklahoma to perform at BOK Center with a two-week residency featuring seven sold-out shows and over 125,000 tickets sold. It was the event of the year in the Sooner State as national media descended upon Tulsa. The four streets surrounding BOK Center we renamed after the artist’s iconic anthems: Thunder Rolls Road, Low Places Lane, Shameless Boulevard and Rodeo Drive. CMT and Fox News covered the story and Garth himself gushed about the signs live on The Today Show. In addition, the arena’s giant grand lobby staircase was wrapped with a vinyl art design that featured lyrics to “Friends in Low Places.” The staircase turned into a photo opportunity for thousands of fans attending the shows as guest after guest lined up to capture this historical moment.
Jay Hughen, Digital Marketing, Jamie Loeb, VP of Marketing, and Vanessa Kromer, VP of Communications, Nederlander Concerts
For launching the #WeAreTheGreek campaign in response to LA Recreation and Parks’ recommendation of a new operator. Nederlander Concerts operated and booked The Greek for 40 years. Conceived by the Nederlander marketing team, the campaign grew to inform, rally and give voice to the venue’s neighbors and local businesses. Utilizing call-to-action websites, petitions, national media, social media, door knocks, yard signs, and precinct-parsed emails, Nederlander’s #WeAreTheGreek campaign became the voice of the affected community at large. The campaign generated 30,000 Change.org petition signatures and rallied hundreds of home and business owners to speak at dozens of local neighborhood council meetings across the city. The campaign ultimately led the LA City Council to reject the recommendation of Live Nation and begin a new process.
Amy Latimer, president, TD Garden, Boston
For the launch and execution of ‘Banner Moments,’ an integrated digital/social fan engagement campaign and birthday celebration in conjunction with TD Garden’s 20th anniversary. As part of the birthday bash, Boston sports and entertainment fans were treated to a first-ever half-ice, half-court arena floor setup, including the chance to take a slap-shot on the Bruins ice, shoot a three-pointer on the historic Celtics parquet, and capture once-in-a-lifetime backstage photos. Fans who were not lucky enough to land one of the 5,000 free party invites (that were snapped up in just a few hours) were encouraged to engage online. By sharing their favorite TD Garden memories via Twitter and Instagram using #BannerMoments, fans had the chance to win tickets and other memorable ‘random acts of access.’ The campaign also included Snapchat integrations and live-streaming of venue surprises via social platform Periscope. In its first week of promotion alone, the arena generated more than 8 million social media impressions for #BannerMoments.
Brian Mistovich, Spectra Food Services & Hospitality’s Amphitheater Northwest General Manager
For ramping up the culinary program at Ampitheater Northwest by bringing in a rotating array of local guests chefs to serve VIP fans during the concert season. These guest chefs serve fans in 40 suites and 350 fans with exclusive access in the Star Bar. Mistovich set up 10 shows with 6 guest chefs. Each chef cooks up a signature dish from their restaurant, everything from Shrimp and Chicken Kabobs with Secret Sauce, to Blackened Codfish, to Brisket with Honey Glaze. True to Spectra Food Services & Hospitality’s Everything’s Fresh philosophy, the dishes are prepared and served fresh in front of guests. Since the implementation of these Guest Chef VIP Takeovers, the staff has seen a positive change in perception of the VIP guests and the value that they feel is added to their VIP experience during these events.
Brandon Tattersall, Rogers K-Rock Centre, Kingston, Ontario/ SMG Canada, Manager – Box Office and Digital Marketing & Kelly Henderson, Ticketmaster, Director – Client Digital Marketing
For launching its new online presence in September through a newly designed website created for the venue by Blue by Ticketmaster, a boutique digital marketing agency. The Rogers K-Rock Centre creative objective for the website was to create a stronger connection with the venue’s social media platforms, improve the timeliness of the information posted and humanize the venue and staff through profiles, pictures and videos. Tattersall developed the website vision, created the site map and worked internally to develop the content while Henderson represented Blue translating this information into a website meeting the client’s objectives. The result is a modern, active and appealing online presence that simplifies the fan’s access to event and venue information and makes the ticket buying process a simple one through the direct Ticketmaster interface. As the first website developed by Blue, Rogers K-Rock Centre is proud to showcase the venue through Ticketmaster’s striking new marketing service.
Linda Recke, Spectra Food Services & Hospitality General Manager at PPL Center, Allentown, Pa.
For conceiving You Lucky Dog as a marketing campaign where random hot dogs at various concession stands are tagged as winners. Anyone lucky enough to nab one of these lucky dogs could redeem their ticket for anything from upgraded seats, tickets to future events, branded swag, Zamboni rides or free food and drink coupons, to name just a few. This promotion is in place at four Spectra-managed venues. The PPL Center has had great success with this promotion, seeing a 14-percent increase in food and beverage per caps with implementation of the contest. Part of this impressive growth can be attributed to including their foot long hot dog in the contest.
Michael Doyle, EVP & GM, Rogers Arena, Vancouver, B.C.
For providing fresh, innovative offerings in newly built and recently renovated spaces at Rogers Arena. Four kitchens were rebuilt last summer with the main kitchen being completely redesigned and equipped with a brand new butchery, bakery and reconstructed warehouse. Over 11,000 square feet was added to the L100 and L300 concourse. Doyle and the in-house food staff introduced over 180 new menu items including freshly prepared, locally sourced food, craft beer and the best of BC wines. New brands include Smoke’s Poutinerie and Pizza Hut as well as Steamer’s, Carve, Catch, Melt, Smoke Shack, Swirl and Chop. The most popular newly introduced quick service sellers include bacon wrapped, cheddar Steamer’s Dog (Bartley’s Famous), Prime Rib Carve Sandwich, and the Lobster roll.