Live Nation's tenure at renovated Bayfront Park Amphitheatre begins Aug. 16
By Scott E. Pacheco
One hundred and twenty tons of new steel will welcome modern music productions to a renovated Bayfront Park Amphitheatre.
The re-opening Aug. 16 with a performance by rock band Incubus will also mark the start of a key partnership between the City of Miami and concert promoter Live Nation in a deal that could net local government up to $20 million over 20 years.
The national concert promoter, which also runs Miami Beach's Fillmore at the Jackie Gleason Theater, referred to the renovation as a "multi-million dollar" project but did not provide an exact amount.
The deal with the promotions giant was OK'd in July 2008 and so far has worked out, said Tim Schmand, executive director of the Bayfront Park Management Trust.
"Live Nation has lived up to the terms and conditions of the agreement," he said.
The deal includes a 10-year term and two five-year renewable terms. The city is to get about $625,000 a year with a 3% increase yearly, and is also to pocket 10% of name sponsorships and a $2 per ticket surcharge.
But Live Nation is to fully control ticket prices. Other terms allow the city or Park Management Trust to have charitable concerts, and city administrators have 2½ years to fix up the site in case of storms or fires.
Since the deal was approved, the promoter's stock price has fallen nearly $7 a share, from around $12.50 on July 25, 2008, to opening below $6 Tuesday.
The Counting Crows follow Incubus on Aug. 18, but a concert listing on LiveNation.com shows no more scheduled shows through November.
Calls to Brandon Berry, general manager of the Fillmore Miami Beach and Bayfront Park Amphitheatre, were referred to Neil Jacobsen, president of Live Nation's Florida operations, who could not be reached to comment on the state of the company's concert business or any additional bookings planned for the amphitheatre beyond November..
The concert industry overall in 2009 has been strong, as "the Top 100 tours grossed a combined $1.16 billion, which was up $113.5 million or 10.8% over the same period in 2008," according to a mid-year report from Pollstar, a trade publication covering the worldwide concert industry.
But the report suggests that fans who attend amphitheatre shows expect lower prices and that Live Nation relies heavily on ancillary sales at its venues for its operating results.
"Live Nation, recognizing that few of its amphitheatre shows ever sell out the lawn, has made a point of offering special promotions well in advance rather than hope for that big last-minute surge that rarely ever comes," the report states.
The Bayfront Park Amphitheatre renovations did knock the venue's capacity down to 6,000 from 10,000.
According to Live Nation, other work includes:
—An improved seating area; wooden benches replaced with more than 2,600 stadium seats with armrests.
—A new 35-foot-high roof and grid structure capable of supporting 65,000 pounds of sound and lights.
—Remodeling and upgrade of dressing rooms.
—Addition of two restroom structures, more than doubling the number of women's permanent restroom facilities.
—Twelve new corporate boxes, which include waiter service and VIP parking.
Moving into the agreement with Live Nation was a way to take "the next step toward a sophisticated corporate operation," Mr. Schmand said previously. In part, he said, that is because Live Nation has "access to artists and touring operations that we, as the trust, don't have."