Global Spectrum brings 11 sold-out shows

During its second year managing the Augusta Entertainment Complex, Global Spectrum brought 11 sold-out performances to the stages of James Brown Arena and Bell Auditorium, and the chairman of Augusta-Richmond County Coliseum Authority couldn't be prouder.

"In Augusta's history, I don't think we've had that many shows to sell out," Cedric Johnson said Tuesday.

Two Lady Antebellum concerts on Nov. 15 -- a lunchtime acoustic performance at Bell Auditorium and an evening show at James Brown Arena -- sold out in minutes. That left some fans wishing more performances by the band, which includes two members who grew up in Columbia County, had been scheduled.

Johnson, speaking at an authority board meeting Tuesday, said Global Spectrum's sold-out shows prompt more acts to come to Augusta, and General Manager Monty Jones revealed that Global Spectrum was already expecting to fill James Brown Arena with the return of Winter Jam and a Keith Urban concert Aug. 13.

Ticket sales, measured over the authority's fiscal year ending June 30, are down from fiscal 2009.

From August 2008, when Global Spectrum took over management of the venues, through the following June, 386,077 tickets to 85 events were sold; from July 1, 2009, through the following June, 323,678 tickets to 142 events were sold.

Both numbers are a far cry from the year before Global Spectrum's arrival, when a beleaguered former authority board managed the venues and sold 207,700 tickets, a number that included admissions to Augusta Lynx hockey and Augusta Colts indoor football games. Both teams shut down operations in 2008.

Jones said the 2010 numbers were good, considering current economic conditions and the Augusta market, which is less willing to pay top dollar to see pricey shows whose tickets might run close to $100 each.

"Looking at the industry as a whole, there's not that much touring going on right now," he said.

Global Spectrum's performance during the past fiscal year warranted its Monday award of $131,000 in incentive pay.

Last year, the board haggled with the company over the amount to award because of what Johnson said were "gray areas" in the formula used to calculate the incentive.

The board eventually agreed to $90,000 in incentive pay, and this year its calculation, based on ticket sales and total gross revenues, and subject to a recently completed audit, put the total at $131,000, Johnson said.

He said he was proud of the involvement Global Spectrum has in the community, including its sponsorship of the upcoming James Brown toy drive and the Augusta RiverHawks' participation in Extreme Makeover: Home Edition television program.

His proudest moment, though, was after the Earth, Wind and Fire concert July 1.

"I had many people call me about the concert, just to tell me how much they really enjoyed it," he said. "It was probably as diverse as you could have at a concert, and people had a really good time, and that's what I really like."

The authority is reviewing proposals received last week for roughly $5 million in basic improvements to heating and air conditioning, entrances, restrooms, meeting rooms, the ice rink and other areas at the two venues.

TICKET SALES

Number of tickets sold to events at James Brown Arena and Bell Auditorium in each fiscal year:

2010: 323,678

2009: 386,077

2008: 207,700

2010 SELLOUT SHOWS

Jan. 16 Rickey Smiley & Friends

Feb. 11 Winter Jam

Feb. 20 Jason Aldean-Luke Bryan

March 5 Royal Comedy Tour

March 23-24 Tyler Perry's Madea's Big Happy Family (2 shows)

May 2 Carrie Underwood

Nov. 15 Lady Antebellum (2 shows)

Nov. 16 Kicks 99 Guitar Pull

Nov. 20 Mannheim Steamroller