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City Council To Consider 10-year Contract For North Waterfront Park Venue Management

By Christina Haley O'Neal, posted Oct 16, 2017
Wilmington City Council is considering a management services contract with Live Nation for its North Waterfront Park venue. (Photo courtesy of the city of Wilmington)
A Beverly Hills-based company that promotes live events and entertainment worldwide is being considered for a 10-year contract with the city of Wilmington to provide services for its planned  North Waterfront Park amphitheater.

Wilmington City Council is considering a resolution awarding Live Nation Worldwide Inc. a venue management services contract at its Tuesday meeting, according to the city's agenda. City staff members are recommending one of two options submitted by the events firm: a 10-year term with a 10-year option in which the city would receive $200,000 annually in fixed rent from Live Nation and $2 per-ticket rent.

According to city documents in the agenda, the other option is a two-year term with a 10-year option, where in the two-year term the city would also receive $200,000 annually in fixed rent from Live Nation and $2 per-ticket rent.

The master plan for the park, adopted by the council March 2, includes a performance space with a stage complex that could welcome an audience of at least 3,000 people. Designs for the venue have not been completed.  In September, council approved a $1.9 million construction manager at-risk contract with Clancy & Theys to run the development of the park.

According to agenda documents, Live Nation would also provide an initial in-kind capital investment of $2 million dollars to provide furniture, fixtures and equipment to maximize the fan and artist experience, as well as $700,000 of in-kind maintenance over the term of the contract.

Live Nation was chosen out of three firms that responded to a request for proposals by the city for the venue's management. If approved by the council, Live Nations services would be involved in booking events and scheduling services, venue consulting, facility management, and food and beverage concessions.

Live Nation is a global live entertainment and eCommerce company, comprised of four markets; ticketmaster.com, Live Nation Concerts, Artist Nation and Live Nation Network. The company works with several venues in the Carolinas, including Coastal Credit Union Music Park at Walnut Creek in Raleigh, The Fillmore Charlotte and PNC Music Pavilion in Charlotte, as well as House of Blues in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

During the city's agenda review session Monday morning, questions were raised about why the event's firm was chosen before the design of the amphitheater.

Amy Beatty, director of community services for the city of Wilmington, said the agreement will not begin until construction of the venue has ended.  During the planning process, however, she reached out to Live Nation, as well as another national venue operators, because staff members felt it was important to have such an organization involved in the early venue design process, she said.

“There are industry standards that we as staff don’t have the expertise in that we need to get right during design. So they will act as a technical consultant to our design team,” Beatty said during the agenda review.

“When we had the renovations completed at the amphitheater at Greenfield Park back in 2008, there were things that were missed in the design that we have had to go back and retractably construct because we didn’t have the expertise available at the time. The power that was out there could not support the types of acts that were using that facility. Right now, every act that is out there, the promoter has to bring in a generator," she added. 

In the offseason, Beatty said the city plans on improving the power situation at the Greenfield Lake Amphitheater with revenue funds from ticket sales.

"In the same manner in which we have decided to have a construction manager at-risk we felt it’s important to have that technical expertise on the front end. Again, to meet industry standard, not Live Nation’s standards,” she said.

In addition to Live Nation, Beatty said the venue will be open to other event promoters.

“Wilmington Symphony Orchestra is going to be an important stakeholder in the design process ... we have reached out to other promoters to make sure we have a diversity of events there," she said.

The 6.3-acre North Waterfront Park development is estimated to cost about $20 million. Other features in the park’s plan include: a splash pad, lawns, shaded areas, hardscapes and trails, gardens, public art, public docking and natural areas.
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