The Concert and Entertainment Task Force appointed last December by Mayor Don Wesely today released its report and made recommendations on how to increase the number of concerts in the city. Those recommendations include a proposal to again seek permission to have alcohol available at age-appropriate concerts at the Pinewood Bowl in the city-owned Pioneers Park, a plan rejected by the City Council last October. The Task Force is also asking that it be given the authority to continue as an advisory board to follow-up on its recommendations and to promote entertainment in the city.
"The Task Force was charged with determining if Lincoln has a problem attracting concerts and other entertainment events and if facilities or policies are creating obstacles," Mayor Wesely said. "This report confirms that we do have problems, discusses contributing factors and outlines some ideas to improve the concert and entertainment picture in Lincoln."
Jim Ritzman of Arjay Advertising, who chaired the task force, said the determining factor in attracting concerts is economics -- whether or not organizers feel they can make a profit. He said concerts are getting more expensive to produce, and ticket prices are increasing.
"Higher ticket prices are a problem, because our Task Force survey showed an unwillingness by Lincoln concert-goers to pay more than $50 a ticket," Ritzman said. "Two other factors are a lack of appropriate concert venues and our close proximity to Omaha."
The survey was conducted by one of five Task Force subcommittees, and results were released earlier this month. (Complete survey results are posted on the city's web site: www.lincoln.ne.gov.) The other subcommittees were charged with creating an inventory of venues, studying UNL's involvement, determining if corporate support is available and re-examining the alcohol issue available at Pinewood Bowl, which seats about 8,000.
The report includes the following conclusions:
The report also concludes that, as one of the finest natural amphitheaters in the country, Pinewood Bowl offers one of the most positive opportunities to increasing the quantity and quality of concerts in Lincoln. Ritzman said alcohol sales are also pivotal to increasing concert activity at Pinewood Bowl and can make the difference between a break-even event and a loss.
"It is important to stress that alcohol is not the focus at Pinewood Bowl," Ritzman said. "Our goal is to bring more concerts and entertainment to this under-utilized venue. No one is proposing alcohol sales for every event or every park location."
The Task Force recommends that the Mayor seek the approval of City Council and the Parks and Recreation Board to allow a series of three to six concerts or events at Pinewood Bowl that would appeal to audiences of different ages and interests. Permission would be sought for alcohol sales only at those shows that are age-appropriate. Approval would be for one summer concert season only and would be subject to re-approval after completion of the trial season.
The report recommends the Pinewood Bowl effort include tours, a safety review with law enforcement, an assessment of the infrastructure, a review of legal precedents and public awareness efforts.
The Task Force also recommends a focus on the development or redevelopment of venues with a capacity of 1,000 to 4,000; exploring the underwriting of shows to help hold the line on ticket prices; an effort to provide more opportunities for adult mainstream music concerts at the Lied Center; and the creation of student marketing and promotion teams.
The Task Force also supports the upcoming study on the future of Pershing. The city is hiring a consultant to conduct the study, and a request for proposals is expected to be released late next week.
The final report and the subcommittee reports are available by calling Diane Gonzolas at 441-7831.