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Fieldhouse rolls out season-ticket program: Concert offering could lure mid-size businesses

October 29, 2007

Businesses looking to entertain clients but not quite ready for a luxury box at Conseco Fieldhouse now have another option-season tickets to all the concerts.

The offering, dubbed Your Exclusive Access, will be the first season-ticket package in the nation for arena concerts, said Dave Lucas, owner of Indianapolis-based entertainment firm Live-360 LLC.

Live-360 is managing the program for Pacers Sports & Entertainment, which leases the fieldhouse from the city and schedules entertainment there.

While season-ticket programs have been a regular offering at amphitheaters for years, arenas haven't followed suit until now, said Lucas, who co-founded Sunshine Promotions and built what is now Verizon Wireless Music Center.

Pacers executive Rick Fuson hopes the program will allow Conseco Fieldhouse to attract more concerts.

"This will help establish a base group that wants to come to all different kinds of shows and should be a positive generator for acts, meaning more shows and more revenue for an act and for us," said Fuson, the Pacers' executive vice president and fieldhouse director.

Concert offerings have dropped from 28 in 1999, the first year the venue was open, to 17 in the most recent fiscal year.

The fieldhouse isn't alone in trying to roll out premium offerings, said Christopher Hunt, a professor in Indiana University's arts administration program.

More venues are "trying to make it into a social event that gives a sense of belonging and social cohesion," Hunt said of seasonticket clubs. "People want to be surrounded by some atmosphere that is more than just a performance and, when it works, people will pay a premium for it."

At $3,000 to $4,000 apiece, the season tickets certainly are priced to attract premium clients.

The fieldhouse, which seats 22,000, will set aside 300-500 of its best seats for the club. Club members will get reserved parking spots and access to private bathrooms and members-only lounge and food areas.

"This is another way we can offer an additional service to premium clients," Fuson said.

Lucas said the club appeals to corporate clients-especially those who can't justify handing over $150,000 or more for a fieldhouse suite.

"In a lot of the big companies, they're buying suites at Conseco and the stadium and at the racetrack," he said. "There are a lot of small and midsize businesses that can't afford that but can afford four season tickets."

But those purchasing season tickets will be buying largely on blind faith. While each ticket will save a seat for a year's worth of concerts, the Pacers aren't allowed to disclose a full year's worth of acts upfront. Many bands prohibit the venue from announcing a concert stop until a short time before tickets go on sale.

Fuson said season-ticket holders could get anywhere from 15 to 30 shows, but right now only six shows have been announced. Still, those include some big names: Hoosier singer John Mellencamp, country crooner Keith Urban and kidfavorite Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus, whose sold-out Dec. 9 concert may be the hottest ticket in town.

The Exclusive Access package was announced Oct. 8, in time for the Oct. 12 Blue Man Group show. Lucas said interest so far has been "through the roof," but he declined to say how many tickets have sold.

"It has every indication of selling out," Lucas said. "The interest is extremely strong."

The Pacers also declined to say how much revenue the concert series generates, but a former Indianapolis sports and entertainment consultant estimated the company made a low- to mid-six-figure profit on the 17 concerts.

"With a facility like that, they should really have 20 to 24 concerts a year," Randy Schwoerer told IBJ in August. "They'll need to become more aggressive."

Lucas said Live-360's contract calls for helping the Pacers increase the number of fieldhouse concerts.

Other Indianapolis-area venues managed by Live Nation Inc., a Los Angelesbased entertainment company, have similar season-ticket programs. Live Nation owns Verizon Wireless Music Center in Noblesville and manages the Murat Centre and the Lawn at White River State Park.

Its programs have several membership layers with increasing prices and more perks, such as first dibs for additional tickets to popular concerts.

"These programs are all about premium service," said Terry J. Hennessey, general manager of The Lawn and executive director of the Murat Centre. Live Nation's season tickets start at $1,350 for the Murat and $2,250 for Verizon Wireless Music Center.

While Conseco Fieldhouse may be the first arena to roll out a season-ticket club, it's not the last. Live-360 started a similar program at the Target Center in Minneapolis on Oct. 21 and is set to launch another at the Hartford Civic Center in Connecticut.
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