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How they're going to get us better shows at the Essar Centre

Show biz is changing. If we want the good shows, we've got to have skin in the game
2010-08-10 KISS crowd DMH Essar Anniversary
Audience at the Essar Centre's KISS concert in August 2010. Donna Hopper/SooToday

Unimpressed with shows and events offered recently at the Essar Centre?

City Council will be asked next week to take action to ratchet up the municipally owned venue's programming.

Essar Centre manager Robert Santa Maria will propose Monday that up to one dollar from each ticket be set aside for an event development fund.

"It is becoming more common for promoters to request that the Essar Centre co-produce events or purchase shows directly," Santa Maria says in a written report.

"Without a fund to support such events, it limits the number and variety of events that the Essar Centre can put on for the community." 

The one-dollar fee won't be added to the price of Essar Centre tickets the money will be taken from an existing sliding-scale facility fee of up to $5 a ticket intended to support a capital reserve fund.

The proposed event development fund will be capped at $50,000.

Everything raised beyond that will be put back in the capital reserve fund.

Before any money is spent on event development, Essar Centre staff will prepare a risk assessment with a break-even analysis.

The risk assessment must be approved by senior city administrators before any event can be co-produced or purchased.

Over its 11-year history, Essar Centre offerings have ranged from Bob Dylan, KISS, Mötley Crüe and Anne Murray to monster trucks, Theresa Caputo and a Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society convention.

The Essar Centre's online calendar shows what looks to be a decidedly dry spell over the next six months.

Other than Soo Greyhounds games and November's National Grand Slam of Curling, the only other event listed is the Sept. 30 Dokken/Firehouse concert.

And if comments on the Essar Centre's official Facebook page are any indication, local response to those glam metal acts is mixed.

"I'm going and getting floor tickets!" said Melissa DelBasso.

"When we're deprived of headline bands for too long, this is what happens. Mediocre bands seem good," said Jeff Williamson.

"Really Essar Centre, this is what you come up with?" asked Mike Denisch.

"Seventy bucks for 60-year-olds in Spandex? No way. Unreal," added Joe Neal. "I've seen Dokken and Skid Row at a fair for $15. Come on people for real. I'm out as much as I love 'em."

Essar Centre ticketing system rated tickety-boo

In other news, City Council is expected to renew its agreement with New Era Tickets for another five years.

New Era has provided ticketing and marketing system services to the Essar Centre since 2007.

Santa Maria says the city is delighted with both New Era's call centre and its online ticket service.

Under the proposed contract extension, the ticketing fee for renewing a Soo Greyounds season ticket will be reduced a loonie to $4.

The Essar Centre will also get new access control scanners that will be able to validate barcodes on mobile phones, similar to technology used by Air Canada and Westjet to check in and board passengers.


Ward 3 Matthew Shoemaker has written zero resolutions for Monday's City Council meeting.

This is kind of a big deal because SooToday can't remember the last time it happened.

Maybe Quick-Draw McShoe will submit a last-minute resolution?

Find out by watching SooToday's livestream starting at 4:30 p.m. on Monday.





David Helwig

About the Author: David Helwig

David Helwig's journalism career spans six decades beginning in the 1960s. His work has been recognized with national and international awards.
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