let’s rent a barn and put on a show

Those who want to are finding out it isn’t so easy.  There are a number of leagues who have outgrown their venues, but are finding it very difficult and expensive to take the next step…..I would like to help, and I just found out today that the Philly Roller Girls will be playing 4 times in a great venue in that town with an introduction from me to a great producing company.  Of course it wasn’t all me;  PRG are a very savvy group and they have the management and marketing and following to make this happen..

Many of the leagues are finding that they are either not well served in  their current skating venues or perhaps they can’t present the games as well as they would like.  Some (Seattle, Arizona, Denver, Chicago, Cincinnati, Minneapolis, etc) have been able to take the next step.

One amazing thing you will learn, is that when you go to a more desirable venue, you automatically upgrade your attraction and will usually attract a larger audience, particularly if you have a good solid promotional and marketing staff, a great following, and good games.

In 1965 we consistently (every week) skated at the Oakland Auditorium, a multi-purpose building from the 1920’s with some parking available and consistently drew 3000 to 4000 fans a week, with an occasionally sell out of 5400.  When the Oakland Coliseum opened in 1965 (can you imagine, a 54,000 seat stadium for the Raiders, a 14,000 seat arena for events such as ours, and an exhibit hall and over 2000 parking spots for $25,000,000!), Bill Cunningham the complex manager coaxed us to come in.  Bill, by the way, had been a popcorn vendor at the old Roller Derby in the armories in New Jersey.

Photo byDora Pete from stock.xchng.com

Well, it was considerably more money, but we had the opportunity to be the 2nd event ever in the Arena, and we drew an amazing 10,000 plus people, so we moved all of our games to the facility now known as Oracle Arena.

There are problems with larger venues: more ticket takers, more ushers, security etc, but if your bottom line is better, then why not.  Also, you have to be sure you can attract a decent sized crowd.   Some of the leagues currently play some of the matches in the smaller venues and then others in the larger.  It is very unsettling to have a crowd of 1500 which might have packed your smaller facility, swallowed in 15,000 seat arena.  Sometime you may just want a medium-sized building that will suit your purpose.  Probably a great example of this is the Everett Washington league skated their first match in the new arena and drew over 3500.  Everett is north of Seattle and not a huge market.

As the years went by, I obviously became better at negotiating with the venues or used a local promoter who could get a better deal and provide many of the services I wanted, including promotion.  And we had a number of arenas buy our tracks and store them between events, based upon the guaranteed number of dates we would give them annually.

There a number of ways to negotiate and I am happy to say I am working with two leagues now.  The larger your appearance in a market, the more desirable you become and the more that fans and families and newcomers will want to come and see you.  An obvious example is New York:  in the late 60’s we rented the new Madison Square Garden (our basic rental $25,000 plus $15,000 “reimbursables”), but all the media came out and suddenly we were a hot new attraction.  Financially, we came out better when we rented the Newcastle Indiana high school gym (at 10,000 seats, the largest high school gym in American), paid $1000 to the school and netted the total receipts.  But not better from a perception status.

There are other things you can do obviously and those who know your market can help you.  This is something the Bob Noxious and I will add to our seminar at Rollercon. And we would discuss when to move to a smaller venue.  Obviously, if you want to contact me, I am available on facebook and at jerry@brownpapertickets.com…….advice is free.