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Summers Could Be Cold Indoors for Nederlander

January 27, 1994|MIKE BOEHM and RICHARD CROMELIN

Operating indoors at the Anaheim Arena, the Nederlander Organization will be a decided underdog promoting pop concerts during the long Southern California summer.

Concert-industry observers say that most major-venue touring acts prefer to play in the summer and route their tours through the outdoor amphitheaters, or "sheds," that have proliferated across the country over the past 10 years.

Outdoor facilities also have built-in cost advantages. The sheds don't have to be heated or cooled. They require fewer ushers because they have fewer aisles to supervise, and they save on labor costs because stages and floor seating don't have to be installed, then removed, for each event, as they do in arenas.

In Orange County, the outdoor concert season has begun as early as the first week of March and ended as late as mid-November, a span of 8 1/2 months. The Forum in Inglewood staged 22 rock and pop concerts during 1993, and all but five took place in January, February, March, November and December, when the outdoor competition was hibernating or just thawing out.

"One of the trends we've seen in recent years is more and more artists playing outdoor amphitheaters and compressing more of their touring schedules into warmer months," said Gary Bongiovanni, editor of Poll Star, a Fresno-based concert-industry trade magazine.

"I think arena managers would tell you their concert business has been down over the last few years as more amphitheaters open up around the country," Bongiovanni said.

Bob Geddes, managing partner of Irvine Meadows and co-owner of Avalon Attractions, sees no reason why Orange County should not fit the rule that favors outdoor venues during the warmer months.

"If (indoor shows) don't work anywhere else in the country (during those months), I don't know why it should work in Anaheim," he said. "Most artists and consumers would rather be outdoors in the summertime, especially in Southern California. We'd love to book shows in the summer at the Forum, but it just doesn't work. The (performers') thrust is toward outdoor facilities."

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Nederlander executive Susan Rosenbluth said that the Anaheim Arena will nevertheless bid to land a fair share of the warm-weather attractions.

"We'll be on it regardless whether it's winter or summer," she said. "We're going to do our darndest to even up those odds as much as possible."

Acts whose audiences prefer reserved seats to lawn seating (typically ones with fans in their mid-20s and up) could opt for an indoor show, she said. Irvine Meadows has a capacity of 15,000, of which 10,500 is fixed seating and the rest lawn seating.

The Anaheim Arena's capacity will vary, depending on the size and location of the stage set. The largest configuration, 19,200, is for in-the-round shows that are relatively rare.

Rosenbluth said that for the more common setup, in which the stage is at the arena's east end, the capacity will be about 16,600 if seats are sold behind the stage, and 11,200 or 13,000 if seats with blocked sight lines are left empty.

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