Fargodome eyes an eventful 2007 concert season
The Fargodome in Fargo will need only four months this year to surpass the number of concerts it hosted during all of 2006, and it's just one concert shy of a six-show goal for 2007, thanks in part to a new risk-taking tool, general manager Rob S...
The Fargodome in Fargo will need only four months this year to surpass the number of concerts it hosted during all of 2006, and it's just one concert shy of a six-show goal for 2007, thanks in part to a new risk-taking tool, general manager Rob Sobolik said.
Country singer Dierks Bentley and Rockstar Supernova played the arena in January and February, respectively, and three big acts will take the stage in coming weeks: Eric Clapton on March 30, Blue Man Group on April 6 and Kenny Chesney on April 14.
Last year, the Fargodome hosted only three concerts - George Strait, Nickelback and Def Leppard/Journey - and fell far short of the budget goal of eight concerts.
Dome Authority members complained that the facility was losing shows because venues such as the Alerus Center in Grand Forks were forking out funds to secure events to capture the economic benefit to the city.
Alerus event fund
The Alerus Center's event fund has had, however, mixed results. Bad attendance and cancellations resulted in a loss of $169,000 last year.
In June, the Dome Authority approved a risk-taking process dubbed "opportunity assessment." It allows the dome to promote or co-promote shows by assuming some or all of the negative risk for the performer.
"It's helped in the negotiations that we've been a little more flexible," Sobolik said.
The tool's first test was the Rockstar Supernova show, co-promoted by the dome and its management company, Global Spectrum, Sobolik said.
The concert drew only 2,431 fans and resulted in a $4,432 loss, which appears as negative building rent on the dome's financial statements.
Drawing CanadiansBut Sobolik noted that 44 percent of the Supernova concertgoers were Canadians, many of whom stayed in Fargo hotels, shopped at West Acres mall, ate at restaurants and added to the metro area's overall economy.
"That's what the Fargodome is supposed to do," he said.
Risk-taking toolThe risk-taking tool also was used to land the Clapton concert through a three-way revenue-sharing partnership between the dome and two promoters, he said.
Dome Authority president Marilyn Guy must approve of any risk of $50,000 or more, but she said she hasn't needed to do so yet. The tool "has worked the way we wanted it to work," she said.
"I think we're very pleased where we are with the concerts," she said.
Sobolik said the number of concerts isn't as important as the attendance. Through February, the dome had drawn 6,765 fans to two concerts, compared to a budget goal of 8,500 for one concert.
Concerts also shouldn't be the only measure of the dome's success, Sobolik said. Other events may draw more people and bring in more revenue for the facility.
For example, Monster Jam drew 22,143 people over two days in early February, resulting in an $88,335 event contribution, which is the dome's term for net income with certain overhead costs not included.
Through February, overall attendance at dome events was about 7,800 people under budget and net income was $31,448 under budget, although the facility was still $106,206 in the black.
A hectic March and busy April should give the dome a boost, Sobolik said. In addition to Clapton, March highlights include the Red River Valley Sportsmen's Show, the Class A-combined state basketball tournament, a rodeo and the Shrine Circus, which starts today.
April will bring the Blue Man Group, the "Urban Cowboy" theater production, Chesney and North Dakota State University's spring football game on April 21.
The changing concert industry has forced the dome to look at other opportunities, and it shows in the number and diversity of events, Guy said. A new marketing campaign uses the hook "Eventful" to promote the facility.
"If you take a look at the schedule, we've been very busy, and I think it's important for everyone to see that it's not just concerts," Guy said.
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