The heat was palpable for the 2018 Electric Daisy Carnival at Camping World Stadium in Orlando. (Calder Wilson / Insomniac Events)

Sweet spots in the Sunshine State during a big year at the gate


Amalie Arena, Tampa
Kevin Preast, senior vice president of entertainment marketing

How did you do last year?
Great. It was one of our best years ever since opening the venue. We had a really diverse mix of events that were well attended. We were slightly down from 2018 — but that was our best year on record. 

Big shows
Smashing Pumpkins, Panic at the Disco!, Def Leppard, Game of Thrones Live Concert Experience, Barry Manilow, Winter Jam, Fleetwood Mac and Cirque du Soleil’s “Crystal.”

Changes
We installed a new taco stand, we added to our Corona Cantina and we’re getting ready to revamp our concessions (with concessionaire Delaware North) and open up the concourse to incorporate the water and grounds into the building a bit.

What went right
Educating people on the Tampa music scene. We’re creating a musical identity for the market. Our market is getting younger, more diverse, and the fans have more disposable income.

Challenges
Elton John canceled with 24 hours notice. We actually had very little pushback and very few refunds. He’ll be back in November. Travis Scott was another cancellation; at least we had a couple days on that one. We were the third date on the tour, and they couldn’t fit the set into the arena.


Ruth Eckerd Hall, Clearwater
Susan Crockett, acting president and CEO

How did the venue do this year?
Everything is trending higher this year — the shows, the attendance and the ancillary revenue.

Big shows
Bob Dylan, Ghost, Jackson Browne, John Mellencamp, Leon Bridges and Ken Jeong.

Changes
When our CEO retired at the beginning of the year, as the COO, I stepped in as acting president and CEO. We’re renovating our facilities and blowing out the lobby with a 6,000-square-foot expansion which will house a new intimate cabaret theater. The addition opens in October with more bar service and food options. Outside, we added more entry and exit lanes and we coupled that with free on-site parking which makes coming here a convenient, hassle-free visit.

What went right
Through lots of planning, creativity and teamwork, we were able to maintain our level of activity and customer service despite being under major construction and redirecting our audiences on where to go and where to find what they needed. We held our breath, but we didn’t skip a beat.

Challenge
Lopping off the front of our building, boarding up the main doors and looking at a bunch of sellouts headed our way.  


Addition Financial Arena, Orlando
Joe Imbriaco, general manager

How did you do last year?
It was one of the best years we’ve ever had. We were definitely up from the previous year.

Big shows
Perfect Circle, Five Finger Death Punch, Migos and the Moody Blues.

Changes
Spectra has taken over our food service contract from Centerplate. We hired Allison Dobin as our marketing director and Nicole Williams as our director of finance.

What went right
The university has been growing, and when it grows, we grow.

Challenges
As with many university venues, the biggest challenge is always the calendar. We have two tenant (basketball) teams here, the men’s and women’s University of Central Florida Knights, and working around that and other university events can be tricky.


Broward Center for the Performing Arts, Fort Lauderdale
Kelley Shanley, CEO

How did last year go?
It was a great year and we were up in attendance by 16 percent.

Big shows
We were fortunate enough to get “Hamilton” and many other great shows like “Dear Evan Hansen,” three nights of Joe Bonamassa, Gladys Knight, America and great family entertainment like Peppa Pig and Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood Live.

Changes
We added an outdoor grab and go concession stand with pizza and craft beer.

What went right
We started a dinner program in a room that holds around 175 people before every “Hamilton” performance. It was an upscale buffet-type experience priced at $29.50-$34.50. It was so successful we are going to introduce the preshow dinner to every Broadway series show that we offer. We also took steps to speed up the transaction time in the city-owned parking lots across the city. We got permission to bring in our own credit card vendor who got transactions times down from one minute to two or three seconds. Guest surveys say it’s a huge improvement.

Challenges
Price points are always a challenge. We’re in a high tourist area and there is a lot of competition for those tourist dollars. We often feel like if there’s a secondary market, we did something wrong. 

Kiss performs at Amalie Arena in Tampa. (Scott Audette)


Camping World Stadium, Orlando
Allen Johnson, executive director of Orlando Venues

How did the venue do last year?
It was one of our best years ever. We’ve been averaging one stadium show a year and last year we did two — Jimmy Buffett and the Eagles, which is our highest-grossing concert ever, and Beyonce and Jay-Z.

Big shows
Monster Jam World Final and the Electric Daisy Carnival.

Changes
We are in the process of starting a $60 million enhancement to our 2014 reconstruction. We’re going to add seats in the end zone and add premium seating, we’re going to turn some outdoor clubs into indoor clubs, and we’re going to enhance our parking lot and guest arrival area. This will all start in 2020 and will be done in phases. The building will not close for any long windows. We added a local barbecue restaurant called Four Rivers.

What went right
We got the NFL Pro Bowl, our third consecutive one. Our EDC event had the largest attendance ever, with 100,000 people over two days.

Challenges
We did Beyonce and Jay-Z on a Wednesday night and had the (Camping World Classic college football game) on Saturday, which gave us a short window to clear the concert and get the football field ready. While I wouldn’t advise this, we made it happen. 


Amway Center, Orlando 

How did you do last year?
We were up. We did 43 concerts, up from 34 concerts last year.

Big shows
Justin Timberlake, which turned into our top-grossing concert ever at Amway Center. We also had Pink, Sam Smith, Bad Bunny, Rod Stewart, Paul Simon and Fall Out Boy.

Changes
We’re getting ready to make a plan for new renovations, but we are not certain yet what projects to tackle. Mike Weeman has come on as our venue security manager. An RFP will go out in 2020 for our food service contract. All of our current concessionaire Levy’s options have run out and we are mandated by the city to run an RFP for contract.

What went right
We had the largest amount of Latin shows ever and they did very well for us. 

Challenges
Elton John canceled 20 minutes before he was to begin and we had to postpone with everyone already in the venue. Less than 200 people asked for a refund. And we offered anyone that paid for parking a free parking pass for the rescheduled show and we made accommodations for people who had ordered concessions in the suites. 


Yuengling Center, Tampa
Rhett Blewett, assistant general manager

How did it go last year?
It was a great year. We took over the building in 2017 and we’re still learning about the facility and creating new relationships. We are definitely up from last year.

Big shows
Harlem Globetrotters, Sesame Street Live, Mike Epps, Practical Jokers and Underoath.

Changes
We tried to tackle our F&B program and added in new local partners like Hungry Howie’s and Mr. Empanada. We also introduced some healthy food options. We also added in an all-inclusive club called Fifth Third Bank Club, and we are selling our loge boxes on an annual basis. Kelli Yeloushan has joined us director of booking.

What went right
We want to get big-name acts with name recognition in the venue and we are making a lot of headway.

Challenges
Traffic and parking. As we grow, we are seeing some stress points.

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