VenuesNow honored the 2019 All-Stars on Monday night at a reception in New York City. The 40 individuals and 10 venues selected for the inaugural All-Star list include some of the most accomplished, innovative and influential leaders in the entertainment and sports facilities industry.
The informality of the night with the assembled industry executives naturally led to engaging and vigorous conversations about the industry and included discussions about self-serve check-out systems with Aramark’s Carl Mittleman, who said his company is rolling out more systems tied to artificial intelligence at its new walk-through grab-and-go concession outlets.
Mittleman also had high praise for Mashgin, a Palo Alto, Calif., tech firm that developed a kiosk with multiple cameras that rapidly identifies food and drink prices without barcodes. The technology helps improve speed of service. Fans can place two items at a time on a small platform, which are scanned before checkout with credit or debit card. Aramark has installed Mashgin units at 20 locations at Empower Field at Mile High in Denver for Sunday’s Bears-Broncos game. The vendor tested the technology over the past year at some of its other accounts, including RingCentral Coliseum, home of the Oakland A’s and Raiders.
Also heard around the room:
- Michael Marion, general manager of Verizon Arena in North Little Rock, Ark., and marketing director Jana DeGeorge have a big job ahead of them: The venue’s name will change when Simmons Bank’s naming-rights deal, announced late last year, takes effect next month, and that means a full changeover for signs and branding. Marion noted it was the second naming-rights deal but the third name for the arena, which opened as Alltel Arena in 1999. Verizon Wireless bought Little Rock-based Alltel Corp. in 2009.
- Al Guido, president of the San Francisco 49ers and CEO of Elevate Sports Ventures, gave high marks to a “fireside chat” by Scott O’Neil, CEO of Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment, at an OVG Arena Alliance gathering earlier in the day.
- Donna Julian of Hornets Sports & Entertainment, a 2017 VenuesNow Woman of Influence, spoke about how working on the Democratic National Convention in 2012 in Charlotte has given her the experience and knowledge to host the Republican National Convention next year the Spectrum Center They plan to book shows up until the date. She also said that after hosting big events earlier in the year such as the NBA All-Star Game and the ACC Men’s Basketball Tournament, the arena and Charlotte were more than ready to put on another big event and welcome the GOP to Charlotte.
- Both Allan Vella of the Fox Theatre in Atlanta and Tammy Koolbeck of the Iowa State Center spoke about the demand for Broadway shows at their venues. Vella noted the success of “Hamilton” and “Dear Evan Hansen” had significantly increased demand for theater subscriptions at the Fox, while Koolbeck said shows like “Jersey Boy,” “Beautiful: The Carole King Musical” and “Waitress” are on tap for the Iowa State Center. Koolbeck switched gears from Broadway to the gridiron this week, taking part in a meeting with ESPN as it prepares to bring its “College Gameday” to Iowa State for the first time Saturday before the Cyclones’ game against Iowa.
- Tim Romani of CAA Icon, in a conversation with Audrey Fix Schaefer of I.M.P., spoke about living in Denver and how much he enjoys seeing shows at Red Rocks Amphitheatre. He named-checked seeing Metallica and Sting with an orchestra and Yo-Yo Ma as just a few of his favorites shows there. Schaefer spoke about what a “jewel” The Anthem is in Washington, D.C., and invited him to come see the Wharf, the D.C. waterfront development where the Anthem resides.
- MSG Live’s Darren Pfeffer, this week’s Pollstar cover star with Brandi Carlile, recalled the time he met Carlile at the Boston Calling festival and foresaw her headlining at Madison Square Garden, which is happening this coming Saturday and something she dreamed about for years.
- Live Nation’s Tom See and Kate Lieberman spoke about how they are constantly surveying fans to better serve fans which includes massive surveys which reach millions of people and gives them insights into fans’ needs. They also spoke about the push into clubs, like the Echo in Los Angeles, and how that can give the promoter the opportunity to work with bands earlier in their careers.
The All Star event kicked off the third VenuesNow Conference, which started Tuesday at the Conrad New York Downtown.