Mayo Civic Center cuts ties with entertainment rainmaker

December 15, 2018
Andy Krogstad

The Mayo Civic Center Commission agreed Wednesday to end a $15,000 annual contract aimed at making new connections for entertainment bookings.

“It’s really meant to be long term,” said Andy Krogstad, the facility’s managing director.

With a change looming in Civic Center operations, after Monday’s Rochester City Council vote to outsource the center’s management, Executive Director Donna Drews said the $15,000 agreement with Venue Coalition, an entertainment consulting company, wouldn’t likely add value for the city next year.

The arrangement with Venue has produced two to three viable leads for events, Krogstad said. Among them were the “PJ Masks Live” event held in May and the upcoming MercyMe concert scheduled for March.

He said many other leads were either too small or too large for the Civic Center’s facilities. Others were too costly or didn’t fit based on tour dates or other parameters.

Additionally, he said, many of the potential leads were already known, since Civic Center staff has been working to build relationships with promoters, rather than booking through agents listed by Venues Coalition.

This year, Krogstad said Mayo Civic Center staff will see a total of 56 live-entertainment events. With four events remaining to be held, almost 81,000 attendees have been recorded.

He said the events will account for about $700,000 in overall revenue for the building.

“There’s not a show on my list that lost money,” he told the Mayo Civic Center Commission.

He added booking efforts continue and the Civic Center could announce a major show on Monday, which would be held in May.

“2019 is looking to be OK, as well, in the entertainment area,” he added.

At the same time, Krogstad said, staff is uncertain about booking beyond 2019, since a new nonprofit entity will be put in charge of operations, along with all bookings of the facility. Currently, city staff books live entertainment, while conventions, meetings and other events are booked by Experience Rochester, formerly known as the Rochester Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Commission Chairman Matt McCollom urged staff to continue booking future events. “I wouldn’t turn down any business for 2020,” he said.

Krogstad said he doesn’t expect to turn away business, but noted he’s not sure promoters will be comfortable signing agreements that would be fulfilled by a different operation.

According to a timetable presented to the Rochester City Council on Monday, the executive director who will oversee operations in 2020 is expected to be in place by July. Additionally, McCollom noted other details regarding future operations likely will unfold along the way.

Mary Gastner, the interim director of Experience Rochester, said she expects to continue booking events and conventions into the future, but it was acknowledged that booking conventions is different than live entertainment.

While conventions come with contracts to cover expected expenses, concerts and other entertainment rely on ticket sales, which could fall short with a bad booking.

Krogstad said that’s why staff prefers to work with promoters, rather than booking through agents.

“Our model has been to co-promote events where the city can share the risk with a promoter,” he said.

Commission members agreed the model was the best move forward and supported ending the agreement with Venue Coalition, which typically offers direct contacts with agents.

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