pollstar caught up with JoAnn Armstrong a couple of days after what was doubtless a profession spotlight: the opening of the $300+ million Acrisure Enviornment in California’s Coachella Valley. Because the constructing’s VP of Programming, Armstrong booked three opening sold-out exhibits that includes the Doobie Brothers, Dave Chappelle and Chris Rock, and Grupo Firme, which did not forestall her from cleansing counter tops and home windows simply earlier than the doorways opened. We spoke with Armstrong, who beforehand labored for 28 years at Anaheim’s Honda Middle, in regards to the new constructing, the Palm Springs regional market and what lies forward.
pollstar: How was the opening?
JoAnn Armstrong: It was unbelievable to open with three sold-out occasions, Chris Rock and Dave Chappelle, the fiftieth anniversary of the Doobie Brothers and Grupo Firme. To see the constructing at full capability and break within the constructing was actually nice.
Constructing openings are all the time intense and an all-hands-on-deck course of.
That is actually what occurred. We solely received into the constructing every week earlier than the primary present. So to get right here, we had been like, “OK, we have to wipe down home windows, counter tops and choose up trash…” It was all-hands-on-deck doing no matter it took so when the folks walked in they noticed how lovely it’s. The decor is unbelievable. It has a gorgeous Palm Spring vibe. Our golf equipment and premium areas are actually well-designed. There is a sense of delight and all of us pitched in and did our half.
Who would you wish to shout out?
Phillip Ransford, our VP of operations, and his group had been on the hub of all issues. Brian Puza, senior director of operations, is unbelievable. They had been right here day and evening doing so many issues with so many transferring components. Our VP of promoting, Joyce Szudzik, was there day and evening. The unbelievable quantity of labor she and her group did was second to none. My reserving director, Drew Gershenson, is nice and super-helpful in all issues we do within the programming division.
What did you study from the opening?
The followers are right here and able to come see nice leisure. To have three sold-out occasions of various genres – comedy, traditional rock, Latin exhibits – proved this market may be very viable. It provides these followers the chance to see top-notch leisure that they do not need to drive an hour and a half to see.
The market’s fascinating with Angelinos escaping to Palm Springs, you are not too removed from Orange County and San Diego and even Phoenix is not too far.
Phoenix is not that far and we’re nonetheless in Riverside County, and that is 2.5 million folks. We’re in the course of 9 distinct communities proper right here within the Valley. So we’re capable of market to every kind of areas round us as a result of we sit in a singular place and this location is a vacation spot for many individuals. We have now the chance to bump up the vacation spot numbers as we convey nice leisure right here.
Is it one thing of a Vegas mannequin the place you may have lots of walk-up site visitors, for say a household present or live performance?
We have now household exhibits already on the docket with Sesame Road Dwell, The Harlem Globetrotters and Skilled Bull Riders, which is essential to this neighborhood. However then we even have numerous exhibits that offered out instantly, Paramore, was someday clear; Agency Group, someday clear. When you’ve received an excellent sizzling present, followers will come.
Who’re your rivals?
There isn’t any constructing in our fast space that may host the variety of patrons we will. The closest amenities are casinos and at most they maintain 3,200-3,500 folks.
What’s your capability?
For concert events, we’re over 11,000. Hockey, about 500 much less. And we’ve a singular decrease bowl configuration that lends itself to nice sight strains and sound.
How’s it going with the AHL Firebirds and hockey within the desert?
This city’s actually taken to having their first residence group they will root for. There’s been unbelievable merchandise and attendance numbers. We even have our Berger Basis Iceplex, which is connected to our enviornment and opened to the neighborhood a pair days in the past. We have free skate, learner skates and league skates and every kind of programming. Persons are thrilled. They’re like “Ice within the desert,” they like it.
What about facilities and meals choices?
As a result of we’re within the desert, we’ve this distinctive indoor and outside concourse space. You begin with Large Rooster owned by Shaq and Pronto Pizza after which go into burgers, tacos, bratwurst and outside bars earlier than you enterprise into the indoor concourses the place we’ve Seize & Go areas. We have now a number of fabulous bars: our buzzbox Bar, Michelob Extremely Bar and Garrison Brothers on our concourse which are nicely appointed and have nice choices. Our premium lounges are beautiful as is our personal Chairman’s Membership.
What could be your dream present?
That is a tricky query. I really like Andrea Bocelli. There’s nothing extra superb than listening to him sing these lovely songs on the holidays. In fact, I really like a superb Harry Kinds present. I might love Unhealthy Bunny, there’s so many nice exhibits. Our aim right here is to have these excursions come our manner.
Unhealthy Bunny or Harry Kinds could be an underplay at that capability; would that be a premium expertise?
Our configuration provides a singular alternative to have lots of P1 pricing at this facility and we will get to the numbers that they are attempting to get to – much like the excursions we hosted over the weekend. After we say each seat’s a very good seat, it truly is.
What’s on the horizon?
We have a household present upcoming and lots of hockey – we’re making up for misplaced time as a result of we put the group on the street till the 18th. We have now our true grand opening occasion with the Eagles Feb. 24 and 25, it is going to be fabulous. When you’ve by no means seen the Eagles with an orchestra, it is unbelievable and should not be missed. We have now an excellent Paramore present. We have Lizzo. We have Shania, Reba, Cirque du Soleil and Jimmy Buffett.
Actually spectacular. Do you could have plans for the way you may work with Coachella?
There’s been ongoing conversations and we would love to do some programming alongside them as nicely. Proper now, our Journey present is in between the 2 Coachella weekends and it is doing nice. There’s undoubtedly some issues on maintain and but to be introduced