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Excitement About A Performing Arts Center Extremely Short Sighted

I wanted to call this, “if you build it, they won’t come”, but I thought I needed a more descriptive title. I also promised I was done writing about the topic, but there’s a couple of things that surfaced that really bother me. More after the jump.

Evidently the proposed “privately funded” performing arts center would be built on city land.  How do I get that deal?  Can I open a club on city land? What city official do you have to sleep with to get this kind of deal?  What about the other people who actually have to pay rent on the land they use, can they get free city land?  So, all I have to do is come up with an idea that the city likes and I can get a sweet deal on land?  Well, then I want to start a pony farm with ponies that crap bite size Butterfinger bars!  Now, there’s an idea that ought to get me land, and it’s just as likely to pay off as a performing arts center.  Now. let me stop here and say, I’m not certain it’s “free” city land, but this sure seems to be one of those “$1 a year for thirty years” deals.

One of the main reasons the proponents of this performing arts center say we need a new one is that the old one is thirty years old and deteriorating.  So what’s their answer?  Build a new one, WITH 800 LESS SEATS.  Yes, your $50 ticket just became an $80 ticket.  It’s just like Lubbock to be so shortsighted as to build something with less capacity than we currently have.

Now here’s the “build it and they won’t come” part.  First there’s you.  Your budget for entertainment is probably stretched already and acts that book at this place will probably be about 30% more expensive than at the City Bank Auditorium.  Next, these folks say there’s a lot of “b-list” comedians, rock and country acts that play these places.  If so, why aren’t they playing the current facilities?  I have promoted tons of shows at the City Band Auditorium and the Civic Center and I have NEVER, NOT ONCE, heard a complaint or disparaging remark from the performers or promoters about the facility itself (they HATE Select-A-Seat, but that’s a dirty little money grab the city is going to hang on to forever).  We also heard the same things about the supposed influx of show when the United Spirit Area was built.  What did you get?  Maybe on rock show every two years, three country shows and a couple of gatherings of the Jeebus people.  Wow.  Now that’s proof of either wasted potential or proof of what I’ve been saying all along.

Here’s something that you have to get used to.  Most acts, rock, country, punk, eskimo break dancing, will not EVER come to Lubbock Texas. It’s not going to happen.  Most acts only want to book “x” amount of tour dates each year.  Lubbock is not going to be one of them. Lubbock is going to be behind Dallas, Houston, Austin, El Paso, and San Antonio and then tied for sixth place with a bunch of others.  Now, if say Beyonce says she’s going to play 50 dates, how many do you think will be in Texas? The answer is one or two.  IT’S NOT GOING TO HAPPEN FOR THE SIXTH PLACE MARKET.  Now, if an act is going to play 200 dates, we may have a shot. but they will NEVER, NOT EVER, ASK ABOUT THE CONDITION OF THE FACILITY.  They want to know what the potential for profit is, and a brand new place with 800 less seats will lose out to an old place EVERY TIME.  Guns N’ Roses at the Amp is proof of that.

Now let’s back to a little factoid I dropped a while back.  They’re counting on “b-list” artists to make this thing happen.  Wow, that’s really setting the bar high.  In the article I read  they listed artists like Pat Benetar and Peter Frampton as the type of artists available for venues like this. Well, I would say so.  The truth is, either would be hard pressed to sell 600 tickets separately or 1000 together.  These people haven’t done their research, because ‘classic rock’ can not sell tickets in Lubbock.  The fans of that type of music saw those acts “back in the day” and they won’t shell out $70 to see an older less capable, more balding version of the acts they once loved (it’s just too depressing).

As I mentioned before, a privately owned facility of this size is just going to block a right sized city venue.  That may not be a bad thing.  The city does a poor, poor job marketing it’s facilities.  The reason I write this is simple, I can’t handle the lies and b.s. that these people are putting out there.  There will be no great influx of shows. A shinier facility doesn’t attract performers.  Our current venues are not “falling apart” (yeah, they could use patching but most of the problems are from disuse not overuse).  This is just a money grab by private investors looking to build something on city land for free (or next to free).  It’s a scam, pure and simple.  It’s another opportunity for the rich to get richer and city owned land that could be used for a park or community center or something for the benefit of ALL citizens to be turned over to the already wealthy.   Let’s not forget that we’re to blame to. If we won’t vote to fix these problems ourselves, you really can’t blame someone for stepping in a stealing our future away from us.

There is an upside to all of this.  I am certain that this will be a money drain for all involved. I’m glad you’re tired of your money and you’re “graciously” putting some back into the community.  If this is what it takes to get some wealth redistributed, then so be it.  Just don’t come to us asking for taxpayer support when this thing goes belly up.

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