Andrea Bocelli performs at Pechanga Arena San Diego. (Courtesy Pechanga Arena)

The Forum, Inglewood
Rick Merrill, vice president of arena operations

How did you do in 2018?
It marked the 50th anniversary of the Forum, and it was a successful year. It was the Forum’s best year since reopening (in January 2014). This year looks to be as good or even better.

Big shows
We had several artists play multiple nights: The Eagles, Drake, Travis Scott, Fleetwood Mac, U2, Childish Gambino. 

Changes
Sponsorship: We transitioned from Coke to Pepsi and renewed our Toyota partnership and we’re working on new ideas with them. We welcomed Hilton to the family and did a summer mobile tour with Chase and Coolhaus (ice cream). We continue to encourage fans to arrive early with upgraded exterior space with big-screen TVs, improvement to sound and ambient lighting, photo ops, preshow games and festive flooring. 

What went right
UFC was moved to the Forum and we only had a few days to sort out the details. It was a great experience to see the staff make it happen over many hours between Christmas and New Year’s to make it successful. We had that week off and people literally had left town and scrambled to come back and make it a big success.

What went wrong
My biggest frustration is getting people in and out of there. 


Paramount Theatre, Oakland
Leslee Stewart, general manager

How did you do in 2018?
We’re quite pleased. It was a healthy year. We always want more, but we’re very pleased. Things are strong, the economy is strong, people are looking to enjoy themselves with music and we see it through ticket sales. 

Big shows
Christina Aguilera, she was a highlight in October. It was a Monday night; the place was packed. She is a consummate performer. Typically, people see her in the arena; to see her in this type of intimate venue, people just loved that. For an entertainer of that caliber in a smaller venue, people are just thrilled with it. Anita Baker was fabulous. We did the Hip Hop Nutcracker for the first time and it was close to sold out. 

Changes
No (physical) changes whatsoever to the National Historical Landmark theater (opened in 1931). We’ve gotten into doing Hispanic entertainment, music. It’s been so well-received by the community, that has been a bonus for us. We’re doing more podcasts.

What went right
Having some really great shows, good entertainment, great promoters to work with. A good economy, a fabulous art deco building and a great staff. All those things put together make for an experience that our guests are looking for.

What went wrong
We had a few shows that canceled.


Levi’s Stadium, Santa Clara
Jim Mercurio, vice president of stadium operations and general manager

How did you do in 2018?
It was busy, especially the last 60 to 90 days. We ran over 30 events in the month of December alone — holiday parties, company gatherings — and had six football games in 39 days, including the Pac-12 Championship Game, three San Francisco 49ers games, the Redbox Bowl and the College Football (Playoff) National Championship game. We had field changes and weather to contend with, but (the CFP title game) was quite possibly one of the best events we’ve had at the stadium.

Big shows
Beyoncé and Taylor Swift; a couple large-scale soccer games, the Mexican national team; and the college football championship. 

Changes
We introduced a brag button for people (to wear) on their birthday or their first time at Levi’s and a program called Live GOLDEN: We asked fans to recognize employees at the stadium that perform at a level deserving of additional recognition. Now it’s a badge of honor for these employees to wear these pins.
We introduced premium field seats (for 49ers’ games) with the IdentoGo by IDEMIA Green Room that are literally on the field in the end zone — leather recliners, full service, all-inclusive with a personal server.

What went right
The CFP National Championship. It was such a terrific event. To deal with the challenges that Mother Nature threw our way and 16 months in the planning, that event was phenomenal. 

What went wrong
The biggest issue was probably dealing with the fatigue of the employees and the weather (featuring high winds, heavy rain, thunder and lightning) 48 to 72 hours before the CFP championship. 


Pechanga Arena, San Diego
Ernie Hahn, senior vice president and general manager

How did you do in 2018?
It was an above-average year, the best in at least five years and the second best (box office) in the last 10. We’re proud of a 52-year-old building that’s the dominant building in San Diego. I thought we were having a good year and it ended up being a great year! We finished strong, plus some costs ended up being lower.

Big shows
We had a great concert year, highlighted in the end by Andrea Bocelli, who hadn’t been in the building in 20 years.

Changes
We added a $500,000 JBL sound system into the building this past year. It’s the best system we’ve ever had and it’s noticeable at all games and events, adding a whole next level to the experience. We also added a new scoreboard in the last three years. We try to give people a 2019 experience in a 1966 building.

What went right
We did a new naming-rights deal with Pechanga Casino and are ecstatic with that deal. There was a lot of red tape because we had to go through the city of San Diego (which owns the facility) and we were able to make it happen in two months. Pechanga has an incredible social media following and their ability to tag us and put us through their channels has been great so far. 

What went wrong
We went from no tenants in the building four or five years ago to four professional teams: hockey, lacrosse, soccer and now (an Indoor Football League) team, so you get to a situation with locker room space and storage that’s been a big challenge to make sure everyone’s happy. 


Citizens Business Bank Arena, Ontario, Calif.
Adam Millar, general manager

How did you do in 2018?
There’s been a lot of improvement since SMG (Worldwide) took over the building 2 1/2 years ago. There’s been a lot of improvement in content and ticket sales. … It was a good year. We were so close, just 442 tickets, to being No. 1 (among the state’s 10,001- to 15,000-seat venues). 

Big shows
We had Trans-Siberian Orchestra. The production of that show is incredible. It’s a massive crew and they have so much talent. We also had Rod Stewart, Pink and Kevin Hart.

Changes
SMG has poured millions of dollars into the venue over the past 24 months. We built a 10,000-square-foot outdoor patio for preshow parties, with barbecues and bars where guests can enjoy a party before the show starts. That opened in October.
We rebranded and renovated all of our concession stands with new concepts and new digital menu boards. It’s like a home makeover show. It’s improved our numbers and our menus have improved dramatically and that’s helped the guest experience.

What went right
Our booking efforts paid off, our marketing efforts really paid off. 

What went wrong
We opened up the beautiful patio, but we’ve had two or three times since we opened in October that we had something planned that we had to cancel or move inside. Weather’s never perfect and that has been a challenge and a disappointment. We’re over it. 

 

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