Augusta on 'C-list' in terms of entertainment, promoters say

Saturday, June 23, 2012 11:24 PM
Last updated Monday, June 25, 2012 1:17 AM
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Don’t get used to seeing such A-listers as Lady A and Elton John in Augusta.

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James Brown Arena's capacity (8,700) and age (33 years) can hurt its marketability.  FILE/STAFF
FILE/STAFF
James Brown Arena's capacity (8,700) and age (33 years) can hurt its marketability.

The reason: The area is considered a “C” market for top entertainers.

In the region, Atlanta is an “A” market, Columbia is a “B” market and the Au­gusta area – Richmond, Columbia and Aiken counties – is a “C” market, said Monty Jones Jr., the general manager of the Augusta Entertainment Complex.

Factors such as the size of venues, median income, ticket sales and total shows determine how a market ranks. Though the ranking system isn’t formal, it’s an unwritten rule among promoters, who decide where to bring shows.

“We’re a big enough town where we could at least be a ‘B’ market, but we’re not quite there yet,” Jones said.

To get there, Augusta will need a much bigger venue to consistently bring in big acts, said Kent Dunn, the vice president and general manager of Beasley Broadcasting of Augusta.

He would like to see more seats added to James Brown Arena. The arena, which seats 8,700, has the largest capacity of all the entertainment venues in the market. The next largest is Lady Antebellum Pavilion, which has a lawn seating capacity of 8,000.

In contrast, five venues in Atlanta have seating capacities dwarfing those of Augusta. They include the Georgia Dome at 80,000-plus and Philips Arena at 21,000.

Columbia can attract big-name acts because it has Colonial Life Arena, which seats 19,000 for concerts.

The bigger acts gravitate toward larger markets because they are typically trying to drive record sales during tours, said Carlos Larraz, the president of Anna­polis, Md.-based National Ar­tists Corp., which promotes acts nationwide.

“They can get higher ticket prices in those markets,” Larraz said. “There’s more people that will go to see them, and the impact of their concerts is a little bit bigger, just by virtue of the fact that there’s bigger venues. Acts are paid based on a guaranteed amount, plus a percentage of ticket sales. Their opportunity is bigger in a bigger market.”

Most big acts do about 30 or 40 shows a year, and because they play in a limited number of markets, they’re “going to go where they think they can make the most money and have the best accommodations,” said Gary Bongiovanni, the editor of Pollstar, a trade publication covering the concert industry.

“Typically that’s going to be bigger markets with newer buildings,” he said.

Some smaller markets, such as Lincoln, Neb.; Des Moines, Iowa; Tulsa, Okla.; and several markets in Texas, attract these acts because they all have new arenas. James Brown Arena, formerly the Augusta-Richmond County Civic Center, opened in 1979.

“That makes it a little harder to compete if your facility is older,” Bongiovanni said. “The tourists tend to go where the more modern buildings are, unless the local population is exceptionally strong in supporting the shows that go in there.”

When a big-name act comes to Augusta, it’s typically on a weekday. Even Lady Ante­bellum, which has local ties in Lakeside High School graduates Charles Kelley and Dave Haywood, played its two May shows at James Brown Arena on Tuesday and Wednesday. The Elton John concert was on a Tuesday in March.

Larraz said big acts usually want to play in bigger markets on Friday and Saturday. Acts such as Lady Antebellum come to smaller cities because they have a fan base there and promoters ask them to come, he said.

Augusta is generally considered a good market for country music artists, but even that has limitations. Kenny Chesney and Tim McGraw, who recently played in Atlanta, booked shows only in major markets with stadiums that could seat 50,000 to 60,000, said Julia Karrenbauer, the director of business development for the Georgia Dome.

A bright spot for Augusta, Larraz said, is the arena’s management. Global Spectrum began operating the complex in 2008 after a string of managers were fired by the county coliseum authority for poor performance.

“I think in Monty Jones what you have is a very knowledgeable person who is plugged into the local media,” said Larazz, who has brought acts such as New Edition and Lynyrd Skynyrd to Augusta in recent years. “That has really been the motivator for me bringing shows there, plus I do a lot of business with Global Spectrum. … Global Spectrum has brought a lot of that traffic into the market.”

Cher Best, of the Fatz and Cher Morning Show on WKSP-FM (96.3), agreed, and she said she believes there is potential for Augusta to move up from its C-market status.

“When you look at the success of what Global Spectrum has done and also the success of what’s going on in Columbia County at the Lady Antebellum amphitheater, you can see the interest in the market for quality entertainment on many different levels and genres has grown,” she said. “My premise has always been if you give people what they want, they’ll go and see it.”

For Augusta to move up in market rankings, residents need to continue to support shows, Jones said.

“We’re getting bigger shows … because the public comes out and supports different things,” he said. “That allows us to do that.”

FROM ‘A’ TO ‘C’

POPULATION AND VENUE SIZE, MEDIUM INCOME AND TICKET SALES ALL CONTRIBUTE TO HOW MARKETS ARE RANKED.

‘A’:  ATLANTA | Population: 5,268,860  | Median income: $56,448 | Big venue: Georgia Dome (80,000-plus)

‘B’: COLUMBIA | Population: 767,598 | Median income: $47,511 | Big venue: Colonial Life Arena (19,000)

‘C’: AUGUSTA | Population: 556,877 | Median income: $44,037 | Big venue: James Brown Arena (8,700)

JAMES BROWN ARENA AND THE BELL AUDITORIUM:

(FISCAL YEAR RUNS FROM JULY 2011 TO JUNE 2012)

August: Keith Urban

September: Jason Aldean, Scream Tour with Mindless Behavior

November: Disney on Ice Celebrates 100 Years of Magic, Kicks 99’s Guitar Pull, Avenged Sevenfold

December: Vince Gill & Amy Grant-12 Days of Christmas

January: Jerry Seinfeld, Shen Yun Performing Arts

February: Lewis Black, Tyler Perry’s “The Haves and Have Nots,” Riverdance,

March: Elton John, Don Williams, Steve Harvey

April: Mass Chaos Tour with Godsmack & Staind

May: Lady Antebellum

June: An Evening with Yanni, WWE SmackDown, Dancing with the Augusta Stars

Sold out events:

Keith Urban, Jason Aldean, Scream Tour with Mindless Behavior, Kicks 99’s Guitar Pull, Vince Gill & Amy Grant-12 Days of Christmas, Jerry Seinfeld, Tyler Perry’s “The Haves and Have Nots,” Riverdance, Elton John, Lady Antebellum

Upcoming events:

June 29: Fresh Music Festival with Keith Sweat, K-Ci & JoJo, Guy, SWV, and hosted by Doug E. Fresh

Sept. 21 and Sept. 22: Just Give Me Jesus – the ministry of Anne Graham Lotz

Aug. 2: Mindless Behavior with Jacob Latimore & Lil Twist

Sept. 20: Brian Regan

Oct. 4: The Fresh Beat Band

Oct. 12: Mike Epps: I’m Still Standing Tour

Source: Katie Wells, director of marketing for the Augusta Entertainment Complex

EVANS TOWNE CENTER PARK/LADY ANTEBELLUM PAVILION:

October 2011: Grand Opening Celebration/Jagermeister music tour, Welcome Home Dedication concert featuring Lady Antebellum

December: Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony

January: Dale Earnhardt Jr. appearance

March: Plant Swap & Sale, RV & Boat Show

April: Par Tee at the Park Concert with Little Big Town & Josh Kelly, Easter Egg Scramble, Craig Morgan Concert, Hounds Around Towne

May: Ponies in the Park (Mustang car show), POPS! Under the Stars Concert with Symphony Orchestra Augusta, Thunder Over Augusta featuring JoDee Messina, Banjo-b-Que featuring Drive-By Truckers & the Brothers Comatose

June: Rick Springfield concert, Books Alive Literary Festival, NewsBoys concert

July: Summer Beach Blast concert – Swingin’ Medallions, Tams, Drifters; Charlie Daniels & Travis Tritt concert

Source: Barry I. Smith, director for Columbia County Community and Leisure Services

USC AIKEN CONVOCATION CENTER:

April: Spring AAU Slamfest, Pacer Spirit End Of Year Celebration, Academy For Lifelong Learning End Of Year Celebration, King James AAU Spring Tournament, USC Aiken Athletics Awards Banquet, SRS-WSI National Awards Banquet, Public Education Partners, Teacher Of The Year Banquet

May: USC Aiken Graduation, Aiken’s First Annual Craft Fair, Aiken Standard’s Taste Of Home Cooking School, Rhoda Burns Dance Studio (End Of Year Recital), Retirement Gala For USC Aiken Chancellor Dr. Thomas Hallman, Life, Healthy Living Expo Presented By Aiken Regional And USC Aiken, “Church Folk” (A Comedic Stage Play), Aiken County Graduation Ceremonies

June: Student Sponsored Event, USC Aiken Volleyball Camps, Women’s Basketball Shootout, Basketball “Team” Camps, School Of Education Meetings, The South Carolina Outdoor Expo Presented By Aiken Regional And Carolina Outdoors, Women’s Basketball Camp, School Of Education Meetings, One Day Women’s Basketball Shootout

July: Rhett Walker Band Homecoming, Women’s Volleyball Camp, AAU Preliminary Tournament, Peach State Summer Showcase, Cheerleading And Dance Camp, Women’s Elite Basketball Tournament

Comments (29) Add comment
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cl
130
Points
cl 06/24/12 - 01:14 am
6
1
aug sux as concert town

I can say that as a person who has literally seen hundreds of shows, there is nothing wrong with the civic center, the bell, the riverwalk, the imperial and so on. There is no lack of talent in Augusta, just as there is no lack of affordable acts nationwide that could be drawn to the CSRA. Soooo, kids what could the problem be? Hint: it's not a shortage of people that would pay to see the right acts for a reasonable price.

You guessed it...Frank Stallone
83
Points
You guessed it...Frank Stallone 06/24/12 - 06:32 am
2
3
Arenas in similar-sized cities...

Columbia - 19K
Greenville - 15K
North Charleston - 14K
Chattanooga - 10K
Huntsville - 10K
Savannah - 9.6K
Macon - 9.2K
Augusta - 8.5
Myrtle Beach - 8K

Time to add seats to James Brown Arena or invest in a larger venue. The Bi-Lo Center in Greenville should be the model.

seenitB4
88201
Points
seenitB4 06/24/12 - 07:50 am
4
2
Step up Columbia county

We just had Lady A here in Gwinnett....we get the big names....so we have the biiig arena ....
Sooo Columbia county.....spend some of the bucks you have been sitting on.....put a big arena out there close to Appling...yaknow you are growing that way.....make it shine---you can't take it with you as they say........:)

itsanotherday1
43813
Points
itsanotherday1 06/24/12 - 07:55 am
3
0
cl, I disagree

We've had acts cancelled for lack of advance ticket sales. Augusta is a very fickle town when it comes to supporting entertainment. I've been to several events that should easily have been sellouts that still had a lot of empty seats.

itsanotherday1
43813
Points
itsanotherday1 06/24/12 - 08:01 am
4
2
Seenit:

I agree that if Augusta won't get off the pot, Columbia County needs to just move ahead with their own venues and developments, leaving ARC to wallow in its own stinking political mudhole.

Riverman1
84926
Points
Riverman1 06/24/12 - 08:05 am
3
3
A Key to a Large Arena

The successful larger arenas have a D-1 college basketball team that's going to draw large crowds 10 times or so times a year and create an environment of people going to the facility. As I've suggested before the key to revitalizing Augusta is with ASU spreading out downtown. With athletics, moving to D-1 with a bigtime basketball program should take precedence over starting a small football program. That would support a larger convention center. (Not that we have the money after wasting $100 million on the white elephant TEE center.)

DuhJudge
206
Points
DuhJudge 06/24/12 - 08:09 am
2
2
Its not but an hour for

Its not but an hour for Augustans to go to Columbia. That means the competition has a place in the equation too. Build it and they will come is a movie, not a documentary. And if it ever would have a chance to draw more current big acts, then put a Gwinnett Center on I-20 between both Richmond and Columbia counties and let both sets of taxpayers pay for it. Don't hold your breath.

Riverman1
84926
Points
Riverman1 06/24/12 - 08:22 am
3
2
Get Aiken County Involved, Too

DuhJudge, good points. Why not build it in North Augusta off I-20? Let all 3 counties pay for it. Heck, let Edgefield pay too.

itsanotherday1
43813
Points
itsanotherday1 06/24/12 - 08:57 am
3
1
RM, if you recall, we bounced

RM, if you recall, we bounced that idea around on the old forums. It was a good idea then and still a good idea now.

seenitB4
88201
Points
seenitB4 06/24/12 - 09:05 am
5
2
Talk is cheap

A lot of talk Columbia county but not much action....

Forget about Richmond county.....you all know there are many reasons folks don't wander downtown Augusta..
That tail has been wagging your dog for a looong time.

omnomnom
3964
Points
omnomnom 06/24/12 - 09:06 am
5
2
excuses for a new performing arts/ stadium ?

ASU's cullum series brings in small acts and music shows and they frequently sell out/ fill up. Use the venues we have. the USC convocation center was PACKED this weekend for the Swamp People. There's NO reason Global Spectrum can't have the JBA/ Bell Auditoriums packed on a regular basis with the RIGHT CHOICES.

countyman
20244
Points
countyman 06/24/12 - 09:16 am
1
5
The citizens of RC actually

The citizens of RC actually voted for the $38 million TEE center...

Did the citizens of CC vote for the building going up in the Gateway?

The real white elephant project, and waste of money is the exhibition space in Grovetown....

It's simlar to the same people bringing up RC giving Costco tax incentives, but never mentioning CC gave tax breaks to Bojangles on South Belair rd in Martinez..

wsm141
115
Points
wsm141 06/24/12 - 09:23 am
4
0
I have a very novel idea!!!

I have a very novel idea!!! Why not just stop spending money and passing it around like candy since "we" the tax payor's" not the thousands of leaches that are syphoning money off of the numerous government hand out programs will be paying for these lavish expenditures for years to come with nothing in return such as lower taxes or even eliminating taxes. Example build toll bridges and roads they'll pay for tehem selves in x years then stop the toll once payed for they say. But that never ever happens. The "govenment" starts to like that income it's a source of cash to blow on other useless projects and handout's. It goes on and on!!!

Gage Creed
17393
Points
Gage Creed 06/24/12 - 10:01 am
0
3
tsk tsk tsk....sour grapes eh

tsk tsk tsk....sour grapes eh Norton Guy?

Riverman1
84926
Points
Riverman1 06/24/12 - 10:05 am
5
1
Actually, Bob Young said when

Actually, Bob Young said when he was mayor he would welcome a large convention center in Columbia County. The people of Columbia County wisely voted down the project.

By the way, the voters of Richmond County approved an $18 million TEE center. This will cost over $100 million counting the Laney Walker payoff.

Riverman1
84926
Points
Riverman1 06/24/12 - 10:08 am
1
2
Isanotherday, sure do

Yep, that forum was so educational with various people writing in depth about various subjects. I just kept them laughing and sometimes screaming at me. Heh.

Bizkit
32159
Points
Bizkit 06/24/12 - 11:13 am
3
1
Well there is the conductor

Well there is the conductor of the Columbia County Civic Orchestra who has spent the last two or three years trying to get a Music and Arts/Education Center for Columbia county. Apparently though there is a lot of politics and territoriality issues in the area. I know the orchestra still exists but I don't know if he is still trying or gave up after all the drama. Great ideas like that often die..

CryoCyberTronics
392
Points
CryoCyberTronics 06/25/12 - 02:26 am
1
3
Augusta Civic Center James Brown Arena

When I was in the Millitary we all would ask each other where we were from. I would tell them that I was from Augusta, Ga. At some point during our conversation someone who was from within The C.S.R.A. Regional Metropolatien Area Cities of Greenvillel, SC, Columbia, SC, Charlseton, SC, Savannah, GA, Macon, GA, Atlanta, GA, Metro, and throughout the Augusta Metro Area, would always say, Yeah I know Augusta, Ga, Because they had attended a concert or two at the Augusta Civic Center. I would ask them how did they hear about concerts that were coming to Augusta. And every time they would say that they heard it from their radio stations advertisement broadcasts, and they would have the look on their faces like how else would they have heard of something so news worthy. I would be in amazement, because I had no idea even doe here in Augusta the advertisement.of concerts from other cities were advertised on WRDW broadcasts. All I can say now is What happened to the power of radio? Even so now with i heart radio on smart phones and others apps where you can listen to local radio stations of just about any city throughout America all over the U.S.A...!!!

kiwiinamerica
946
Points
kiwiinamerica 06/24/12 - 01:04 pm
0
0
Who cares?
Unpublished

Ya know......I just have a feeling that we'll be able to survive OK without visits from Lady Gaga or Elton John. It'll be tough, I know, but I have great faith in the American spirit. The folks who settled this country and migrated west across the plains in the face of hostile conditions were able to survive without iPods and rock extravaganzas and so can we.

I never ceased to be amazed at this generation's idea of what is indispensable in life, compared to that of our parents' and grandparents' generations.

Just My Opinion
5708
Points
Just My Opinion 06/24/12 - 01:50 pm
3
0
Funny how this exact topic

Funny how this exact topic comes up in the paper every couple of years....like they say to themselves "Well, okay, it's a slow newsday, what do we have around here that I can write about?? Look in the old idea-drawer and pull out an old story that we can dust off and add a couple of new facts to. Oh, look...here's the old story about old Augusta Christmas traditions....yeah, remember Fat Man's?? Oh, and here's the old story about the MCG students and Match Day! What?? I think it's too early to be bringing up the naming of the courthouse...we'll save that one for next year!".
Okay...anyway....as far as a need for a new Augusta venue (why in the heck would anyone want to ADD seats to the old Civic Center???), I think that Augusta is waiting it out, until Columbia County gets the idea to open one themselves! I think that CC will do it if and when they see that it'll make money for CC...or at least make money for the CC good ole' boys!

CryoCyberTronics
392
Points
CryoCyberTronics 06/25/12 - 02:43 am
0
3
Augusta Civic Center

Another fact about the James Brown Arena and the Augusta Civic Center in realation to Augusta and.the other C.S.R.A.Regional Metropolatien Area Cities is that most of them have Streets, Roads, or High Ways named after Augusta that led to the city of Augusta Georgia. At some point if they would have been made into major highways or interstates like I-20. Highway 25 is almost a straight shot but could use some improvement along the way. Who knows what Augusta would be like today if all the roads were better than they are now. Hopefully we can make the city of Augusta the way it was on it's way of being a even larger Metro area, when someone decided to try and keep it as a small cross road town. And all the other towns near Augusta even smaller than they are today.

pgapeach2
1193
Points
pgapeach2 06/24/12 - 02:57 pm
2
0
Augusta Civic Center

I can remember during the 80's when the civic center sold out for just about every entertainer that booked it. Having seen Frankie Beverly and Maze perform to a sold out crowd at the Winstar Casino in Oklahoma this year. I was shocked that he did not sell out here and he was with Anthony Hamilton. If the Cheasapeake Arena can selout for a Kevein Hart comedy show, I know because I was there last weekend. Then I know that Augusta and the surrounding areas can too.

curly123053
4748
Points
curly123053 06/24/12 - 03:31 pm
2
1
I agree that the Bilo Center

I agree that the Bilo Center in Greenville should be a model we look at in a facility. I have been to 3 events at the Bilo Center and something like it in Augusta would go over real well. If Augusta don't want to build one maybe the governments of Aiken County, City of North Augusta, and City of Aiken could join together to build a bigger venue to attract the tax revenue here. There are plenty of good places to build a new Green Jacket stadium in Aiken County similar to what they would like.

countyman
20244
Points
countyman 06/24/12 - 07:01 pm
0
2
The cost of the TEE Center is

The cost of the TEE Center is $38 million, and the voters approved $20 million... The cost will always become higher once you've waited several years to begin construction... The center in Grovetown was $7 million, and the residents didn't even get a chance to vote.... What space do you think will have the most events??

Jake
32770
Points
Jake 06/24/12 - 07:06 pm
3
0
Save your money

Why not support and attend local musical and art venues? I would just as soon listen to high school orchestras as I would the Boston Pops. Keep the money for the up and coming musicians and artists. Let the established ones take care of themselves.

Gage Creed
17393
Points
Gage Creed 06/24/12 - 08:50 pm
1
0
Countyman sounds like my

Countyman sounds like my lovely spouse after a shopping trip..... "but look how much I saved you!"

itsanotherday1
43813
Points
itsanotherday1 06/24/12 - 09:33 pm
1
0
JMO

"I think that CC will do it if and when they see that it'll make money for CC...or at least make money for the CC good ole' boys!"

These things rarely make money directly, but as a community amenity do draw people to the area. More residents and businesses mean a broader tax base and support of property values.
If a company is thinking about expanding and is choosing between Greenville and Augusta; where do you think their employees would rather be? Just draw parallels between Greenville CBD and Augusta, Greenville's entertainment venues (Peace Center, Bi-Lo Center, plus others vs the run down JBA and ancient Bell); and which do you think gets the nod? The only reason ARC would win is extremely favorable tax incentives.

corgimom
33199
Points
corgimom 06/24/12 - 09:54 pm
4
1
In all the places that I have

In all the places that I have ever lived, I never cared if there was an arena or not. Some places had them, some places didn't. It's a nice thing to have but hardly a necessity.

To hear some people tell it, everybody goes to concerts. And that is just not true. It's been years since I've been to a concert, and I don't feel that I'm missing out on anything. With all the cable channels, and all the specials on tv, you get to see all the major acts sooner or later anyhow.

And the artists have priced themselves out of reach of many people. Show tickets can now cost hundreds of dollars. When people are struggling to pay their mortgage, going to concerts isn't a priority.

As to "what happened to the power of radio", it's called the Internet. Same thing with newspapers. The music industry barely exists any more, and it's very difficult to advertise and market these artists.

I really hope that Augusta doesn't take on another "if you build it, they will come." Because there is only so much concert money to go around, and with the Bi-Lo Center and Columbia competing with Augusta, it's going to be yet another money-losing proposition. It's a discretionary, luxury purchase.

How many more of these can Augusta take?

KNECKBONE
26
Points
KNECKBONE 06/30/12 - 02:12 am
0
0
CONCERTS

GET RUSH AND AC/DC VAN HALEN .

Masynergy
14
Points
Masynergy 08/20/12 - 12:12 am
0
0
People who attend concerts

People who attend concerts these days (and I'm not talking bands that were popular in the 80's) are the same people who move out of cities like Augusta. There are multiple reasons that places like Atlanta, Columbia and the like have better venues, organizers and acts that show there but a big one is the fact that they are truly metropolitan. Cities like Columbia and Atlanta are not full of natives in the way that Augusta is, they are the people who wanted to leave towns where government cannot agree on things like this and no one gets anywhere because of it.

The kind of people who will pay big money to fill arenas to see big MODERN acts are not present in this town in large numbers. Period. It has nothing to do with the population of this town in pure numbers, it is the kind of people that this area is comprised of. People move to those places for a reason.

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