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Raleigh amphitheater losing money

Posted June 21, 2012

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— Two years after it opened, the Raleigh Amphitheater is operating in the red, but officials say the venue still plays an important role downtown.

The 5,000-seat amphitheater, located across the street from the Raleigh Convention Center, has attracted about 100,000 people and generated about $1.1 million in revenue over the past year, assistant director Doug Grissom said Thursday.

Still, the $2.5 million city-owned venue is losing about $100,000 a year, Grissom said, adding that it wouldn't take much for the amphitheater to turn a profit.

"A few concerts could take you over that. Naming rights could take you over that. Different things we're still hoping for, and as the market changes, we'll be able to get that," he said.

Raleigh's contract with promoter LiveNation guarantees at least 12 concerts a year at the amphitheater. The smaller size of the venue makes it more difficult to attract summer acts, Grissom said, but organizers will continue working to add acts to this season's schedule.

State officials scuttled plans to sell the amphitheater's naming rights to Bud Light shortly after it opened. The brewer and local distributor Harris Wholesale had drafted a proposal to name the venue the Bud Light Amphitheater in exchange for $300,000 a year over five years, but the state Alcoholic Beverage Control Board denied an exemption from state liquor advertising regulations.

Even though it's losing money, the amphitheater is an important part of the downtown puzzle, Grissom said.

Raleigh Amphitheater Operators say amphitheater important to downtown Raleigh

"I think everybody knows downtown has grown up," he said. "You can come down to an event, but now you go to the restaurant, you go to an event, you go to the bar afterward."

Michael Jones, station manager for WKNC-FM, the student-run radio station at North Carolina State University, said he and other students are eager to see acts like Florence + the Machine, Band of Horses and My Morning Jacket at the amphitheater this fall.

"The phone lines are always blowing up" as students vie for tickets, Jones said.

Grissom said the variety of acts that play the amphitheater, such as The Beach Boys in April to Alice Cooper this Friday, is important to making the venue a success.

"It's sort of on the same track, maybe even a little better for this next year," he said.


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  • forautumn Jun 22, 2012

    No surprise.....you have walnut creek...you have koka booth...two outdoor places.

    Add DPAC and Memorial Auditorium....

    Never a need for the new place. And with tickets at $75 per, folks only have so much disposable income.

    Poor idea from the get-go.

  • aspenstreet1717 Jun 22, 2012

    Poor old taxpayer

  • domaq09 Jun 22, 2012

    Live Nation owns Ticketmaster, so I wouldn't expect a change anytime soon.

  • Groogrux Jun 22, 2012

    I remember the uproar when ticketmaster started adding $1 fee about 25 years ago. Id be pretty happy if they were $1 now. 3 concerts in the past 10 days. Over $50 in service fees on 3 pairs.

  • marathonk Jun 22, 2012

    Several suggestions:

    1)Let Cat's Cradle management book the shows as per an earlier comment.
    2) Book more shows
    3) User a ticket distributor such as Etix so fees are much more reasonable. Hate Ticketmaster.

  • kikinc Jun 22, 2012

    cushioncritter-Try to get your facts straight. Ex-NYer here. More HOA's HERE than anywhere on Long Island. Repair trucks were in a lot of driveways ALL the time because that's where the repair guys lived!

    If you are going to insult someone with ill placed stereotypes, you end up being the one with egg on your face.

  • Groogrux Jun 22, 2012

    Commonsense4, as I mentioned theyve booked some good tours, maybe not enough of them but they dont all suck. Mumford and Son sold out in minutes last year. And Cooper is only 63 and still rocks. :)

  • Mr. John Q Public Jun 22, 2012

    I think the sound is better than most venues. At most venues, the system is cranked up so loud that is just creates a din. Often all you can hear is heavily distorted bass guitar and drums. The vocals and (lead) guitars are buried in the mix. The only impediment to hearing the music I've experienced is due to the noise from the audience.

    My main complaint about the venue is the lack of a cover in case of rain.

  • commonsense4 Jun 22, 2012

    ""The Beach Boys show was half empty."

    Exactly what I mean - the Beach Boys? They are 70 years old. They had some great albums but live they sound like singers that are 70 years old! Alice Cooper - isn't he 70 too? Get a clue Raleigh Amphitheater!

  • commonsense4 Jun 22, 2012

    Because your lineup every year sucks! One out of ten shows is decent. And too bad Raleigh was too righteous to take the Bud Light sponsorship where they would be making money each year.