More big concerts could be coming to Hertz Arena in 2022.
How big? And which concerts?
Arena managers say they don’t know yet. They’re only at the start of a new, game-changing relationship with booking partner Oak View Group Facilities (OVG).
But it’s safe to say this, says general manager Scott Bryant: Great things are coming. And audiences can expect to see a significant increase in hot musical acts starting as soon as early 2022.
“I’m excited about what’s going to happen in 2022 and beyond,” Bryant says. “We’re definitely looking forward to a successful 2022 and (more) for years to come.”
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Hertz Arena announced the new partnership last month with the Pennsylania-based OVG. The venue management and event programming company was founded by sports executive Tim Leiweke and music mogul Irving Azoff (who’s managed The Eagles, Bon Jovi, Nicki Minaj and more).
The arena already has a relationship with Live Nation, AEG and other national concert promoters. But OVG, Bryant says, will take their concert offerings to “the next level.”
“They really have their hand on the pulse in the industry and are rapidly expanding,” he says.
OVG already books acts for two of Florida’s biggest venues: FLA LIVE Arena (formerly the BB&T Center) in Fort Lauderdale and Amalie Arena in Tampa.
Now Hertz Arena will be in the mix when OVG negotiates with bands and promoters for upcoming tours visiting Florida and beyond. The idea: Those big bands could stop in Southwest Florida in between Tampa and Fort Lauderdale shows.
“Now Fort Myers will have a seat at the table when these large tours are being routed,” says Doug Higgons, senior vice president for OVG. “Nobody was in the room where it happens, prior to this, representing Fort Myers for some of these large tours.”
Routing — the process of planning which cities bands will visit on tour and in what order — usually starts six to 18 months in advance, Higgons says. So Hertz Arena likely won’t see the fruits of this new partnership until the first or second quarter of 2022.
In a news release announcing the partnership, OVG says a similar relationship has increased bookings by more than 100 percent in some of its partner venues. But both Bryant and Higgons say there won’t be as big of an increase at Hertz Arena.
The approximately 7,500-seat venue already has a lot going on, Bryant says. That includes Everblades hockey games, an annual basketball tournament, Disney On Ice and major touring acts booked separately through Live Nation and AEG, including upcoming concerts with Jason Aldean, Marc Anthony and Chris Stapleton.
“As far as doubling the amount of concerts, that’s just not possible from a venue availability standpoint,” Bryant says. “We’re a very busy arena.”
It’s hard to put a number on how much of an increase there will be, Higgons says. But he says it’ll be noticeable.
The move comes two years after the arena was purchased by the Hoffmann Family of Companies. Since then, the new owners have spent millions on renovations there, Bryant said. That includes renovated restrooms and suites, a new scoreboard, landscaping and a new sound system.
Bringing in more big shows is the next logical step, Bryant says. It’s something owner David Hoffmann wants to see happen.
“He really wants this to be a show arena for the Hoffmann Family of Companies,” Bryant says. “As such, he wants to get a lot more concerts. … He wants to get more, quote, ‘big name talent’ into the building.”
Hertz Arena already books a lot of top-shelf acts, of course. Past shows have included Elton John, Luke Bryan, Cher, Kevin Hart, Miranda Lambert, Amy Schumer, Cirque du Soleil and Barry Manilow. But now there will be MORE of those big names, Bryant says.
“With the initial investment and upgrade in the arena,” he says, “we want to get as many concerts in here as we can and to showcase our arena and to serve the public and really go to the next level.”
OVG has a team of 10- to 15 employees who do nothing but negotiate with national tours, Higgons says. Now Hertz Arena will be part of those routing discussions, as well.
“That’s really the key here, to leverage our relationships with the venues, with the promoters and with the tours to make sure that Fort Myers is getting a fair look,” Higgons says. “In the past, again, Fort Myers hasn’t been represented in some of those discussions. And now they will be.”
OVG has grown by 587 percent since 2018, according to the news release announcing the new partnership. It books acts at venues across the country, including the Fertitta Center in Houston, Texas; Coachella Valley Arena in Palm Springs, Calif.; UBS Arena in Elmont, New York; and RUPP Arena in Lexington, Kentucky.
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