Photo: Jason Squires
Another busy panel - at Pollstar Live!
Stephen Collins, fresh off of renovating Madison Square Garden and The Forum, is breaking ground on a new San Francisco arena in April while John Langford is bringing artists to Glasgow's two-year-old arena.
Meanwhile, James Rasmussen is helping prepare Sacramento for the most technologically advanced arena in the world and Don Strasburg is bringing music to a repurposed arena in Broomfield, 15 minutes outside Denver.
And then there's Lucy Noble. Representing Royal Albert Hall in London, Noble is the events director for a venue that will turn 150 years old in 2021. It's the venue where Bob Dylan first went electric. Heck, it's actually the building where electricity was first demoed to the world. It has seen lectures by Albert Einstein and famously canceled The Who for fear that its new show, “Tommy,” would cause a riot.
Strasburg talked about how enamored he got with Noble's business card. Besides, it turns out that his dad was on its stage once for a poetry reading in 1961 (and Noble has the photos to prove it). Yet, even Royal Albert Hall is a modern venue. It was recently shuttered for renovations, including building a loading dock (for years load-in was through a door on the street so there were few big-production performances).
Soon, Royal Albert Hall will be shuttered again – this time to build a new backstage area. The only problem is, with a 150-year-old building, one can only build down and construction crews will be digging beneath the building to create the new space. This is necessary, though, even with a venue as historic as this one when London has names in it like The O2, Hammersmith and Shepherds Bush. That doesn't mean the Hall is hurting.
It averages 390 shows in a year that has 365 days in it.
“How easy is it to book a Saturday night there?” Ross asked. “It's a bit tricky,” Noble said. Bookings are done almost two years in advance.
The SSE Hydro has changed the landscape of Glasgow, Scotland, in just two years. Last year, it sold more than 1 million tickets making it the third-busiest music arena in the world after The O2 and Manchester Arena. It has been in the plans since the early 2000s, is swathed in translucent cushioning, and has an intimate setting of 10,000 seats for concerts. Despite all the modern conveniences, Langford stressed customer service as what sets the building apart. Collins is laying the groundwork for the Chase Center, which will house the Golden State Warriors and move them from Oracle Arena in Oakland to a gorgeous, and expensive, view of the Bay in San Francisco.
The arena will open in April 2019 but will be surrounded with a town center that includes 150,000 square feet of retail, one acre of plaza and a park.
“We're trying to create a place where you want to come to for the environment without even finding out what's going on there,” he said, suggesting that on any given day the campus could have an ice rink, a farmers market or a wine-and-cheese tasting along with the permanent fixtures like restaurants and the park.
Steve Ferguson's room, by the way, has two bedrooms and one bath. The Paradigm agent kept things lighthearted as he and Ross learned features of the different arenas. Strasburg promotes shows at various venues around Denver and Seattle, but one of AEG Live's more interesting projects is the 1stBank Arena in Broomfield, Colo.
The building was built in 2005 to house minor-league hockey team the Rocky Mountain Range. It was not one of the smartest ideas considering the building was 15 minutes away from the Colorado Avalanche and the Pepsi Center. In 2008, AEG Live Rocky Mountains and Kroenke Sports Enterprises formed a joint venture called Peak Entertainment and, with the miniscule budget of $1 million, repurposed the building for live performance.
Now, instead of a hockey team playing to an empty building, it's three nights of Ween playing to 21,000 fans with a GA floor. Strasburg noted that it's impossible to build a facility of this size for music alone but, much like The Forum, there are plenty of buildings that can be successfully redesigned for it. Finally, there's the Golden 1 Center.
Rasmussen's boss, Vivek Ranadivé, spoke at length about it to Pollstar Live! Delegates the day before and, at the lunch after this panel, the tables were set up to provide delegates with a virtual tour of the arena. The building is all about technology and Rasmussen added details not mentioned the day before. For instance, the WiFi speed at the arena will be 17,000 times faster than a home network.
Fans will be able to upload 200,000 Instagram photos per second. The building will have a tunnel, filled with artwork, to the nearby Old Town Sacramento district. It will have natural landscaping that reclaims rainwater. It will be 100 percent solar powered with 15 percent supplied by rooftop panels and the rest bought from solar farms.
It will have, at least for a little while, the largest video screen in the NBA with 4K Ultra HD technology. Meanwhile, Ferguson said his house is worth seven figures if anyone wants to buy it.