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Volume 20 No. 42
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Carolina Panthers’ home hopes to welcome Chesney in June

Don Muret
Country artist Kenny Chesney is expected to announce his 2012 tour today, including a June 24 show at Bank of America Stadium, the first concert in 15 years at the Carolina Panthers’ facility.

As of last week, tour dates were still being confirmed for Chesney and co-headliner Tim McGraw. Together, they are targeting 20 to 22 stadiums, according to a source familiar with the production. NFL facilities were expected to get the majority of those shows.

Chesney’s date in Charlotte will be the first concert on the Panthers’ field since the Rolling Stones played there Oct. 10, 1997. At the time, the building was called Ericsson Stadium.

Panthers officials referred calls to Chesney’s management. Chesney’s tour producer, Louis Messina, did not return a call to confirm the Charlotte date.

The Panthers join two NFL clubs that booked Chesney at their stadiums in 2011 after long dry spells between shows.
This year, Arrowhead Stadium and Lambeau Field were among the 11 stadiums on Chesney’s “Goin’ Coastal” tour. In Green Bay, it was the first concert in 26 years at the Packers’ stadium. In Kansas City, there had not been a concert on the field since 2001. The Chiefs were in talks to bring Chesney back to Arrowhead in 2012, said team President Mark Donovan.

Chesney’s 2011 show at Arrowhead generated $4.36 million in gross ticket sales and attendance of 52,523, according to Billboard Boxscore. The Chiefs assumed the financial risk to promote the show in tandem with The Messina Group/AEG Live.

With more skin in the game, the Chiefs received a greater share of revenue compared with renting out the stadium.

In Green Bay, local promoter PMI Entertainment took the risk to bring Chesney to Lambeau Field, a show that grossed $4.9 million in ticket sales on attendance of 45,445. The Packers’ income from the concert came primarily from concessions and parking revenue.

The Gridiron Stadium Network, 12 NFL facilities that work together to bring special events to their venues, expects a “healthy number” of its members to land Chesney dates next year, said Jeff Apregan, the group’s consultant and a former promoter.

The network has developed a close relationship with Chesney and Messina over the past seven years. Since 2005, Chesney has played multiple dates at Heinz Field, Lincoln Financial Field and Ford Field, three members of the network since its inception.

Arrowhead Stadium is also a member of the network, but Lambeau Field and Bank of America Stadium are not. To join, teams must pay an annual fee.

Chesney is set to officially announce his tour today during an appearance on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

Mackey’s premium seats include iPads, app.
PURDUE’S NEW PAD: The new premium seats tied to Mackey Arena’s renovation carry high-tech amenities: iPads loaded with exclusive content for Purdue University men’s and women’s basketball games.

The $100 million in upgrades to the school’s 44-year-old arena includes the John R. Wooden Courtside Club, 66 seats spread over the first four rows on the building’s west side.

Those seats sell for $4,500 to $8,500 annually for men’s games alone with terms of three years up to 18 years. Season tickets are an additional cost.

To add value to those seats, the school worked with tech firm XOS Digital to develop an iPad application providing live streaming video, real-time statistics and scores of other Big Ten games in progress.

Courtside club members pick up the iPads inside the club lounge before tipoff and drop them off after the game. Cisco set up the wireless network powering the iPads. The school bought the iPads direct from Apple.

The iPads are programmed to supply the same video replays shown on the arena’s new Daktronics center-hung video board. There is about a 20-second delay from the time the play occurs until it pops up on the iPad, said XOS spokesman Nathan Christopher.

That’s not a bad thing. For courtside club members sitting underneath the board, it’s easier to view those replays on the tablet than straining to look at the board overhead, said Nick Terruso, Purdue’s sports video operations specialist.

The location of those seats was not a determining factor for supplying the iPads, said Morgan Burke, Purdue’s athletic director.

“Because of the higher price point, we wanted to add an additional benefit,” Burke said. “The iPad allows them to get information on other games as well, so it’s not limited to our game.”

XOS Digital specializes in producing software for college coaches to manage their teams’ video analysis of upcoming opponents. The Purdue application is its first in-arena application for the fans, said Dan Aton, XOS’ founder and chief innovation officer.

XOS officials are in early talks with other schools to create similar applications. As the technology develops, there are opportunities for schools to generate revenue by incorporating their sponsors into the applications, Aton said.

In addition, there is the potential for extras such as video replays on demand, concessions ordering, facility diagrams and social media elements.

“We have a full product road map on this,” Aton said. “We think there is a large market for this, not just a one-off.”

Rental fees for a catered dinner with live music at Minute Maid Park can reach into the mid-six figures.
HOME RUN: The Houston Astros struggled this year, but their special-events group expects 2011 to be a record year at Minute Maid Park.

As the calendar year comes to an end, the Astros are closing in on 600 non-baseball events booked on the field, in the stadium’s premium spaces and conference rooms, and in the lobby of Union Station, the former train station connected to the ballpark.

Those functions typically produce $3 million to $5 million in annual revenue, said Kala Sorenson, the Astros’ vice president of special events. Rental fees range from $12,000 to $15,000 for companies to take batting practice, to mid-six figures for catered dinners with live music.

An improving economy, a more aggressive approach to booking those events, repeat business and strong interest in team-building efforts such as scavenger hunts led to the spike in sales, Sorenson said.

For the first three weekends of December, Minute Maid Park’s multiple event spaces are 95 percent booked with holiday parties, Sorenson said. One of those functions, Dec. 10, is Citgo’s party for 2,000 employees on the field.

It is the first time Citgo has used the park for its annual holiday event, Sorenson said. The petroleum company, an Astros sponsor, has a large sign over the light standard in left field.

A recent Taylor Swift concert at Minute Maid Park produced merchandise per caps of “well over” $20, among the highest numbers on the pop star’s tour, Sorenson said.

Don Muret can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @breakground.