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Meadowbrook keeps busy during off-season

December 30, 2009
The Meadowbrook Verizon Cellular Pavilion is packed with concertgoers every summer, but when the music stops at the end of the season, the behind-the-scenes action ensues.

This off-season, Meadowbrook Marketing Director Chris Lockwood said the people behind the pavilion are dutifully preparing for their next concert season in June. Lockwood said this winter would be a little different for employees and concertgoers as well, since the café concert series held last winter will not continue. The café series was held on Center Stage Café at Meadowbrook, and also featured comedians and magicians as well.

"This year is a little different. We are doing a bunch of planning for next year," said Lockwood.

He said Meadowbrook has partnered up with Lakes Region Community College to utilize new green energy technology. LRCC did an energy audit on the facility and pointed out where energy efficiency could be improved.

"This is our focus. It turns out we are not as green as we would like to be," said Lockwood.

He said he feels that achieving an energy efficient facility that meets all green requirements is a priority for next season, and that Meadowbrook would like to take a step back this winter and set out goals to achieve this with the help of LRCC.

"We are going to address energy efficiency with the college. They will tell us what we need to do. We will actually have students to help for next year," said Lockwood.

Meanwhile, Meadowbrook President R.J. Harding is currently in the process of lining up musicians for the 2010 season. Lockwood said Harding plans to round up about 25-30 musicians, the same number as last year, and is traveling all over the U.S., including Nashville, New York, and Los Angeles.

"As most people know, we will have a great country and classic rock line up. R.J. tries to find different artists," said Lockwood. "If we think we can sell it and be successful, we will go for it."

He said that Harding is searching for an eclectic round up this year to fit everyone's taste, and is also looking for a few jazz artists and some oldies, but goodies.

While "going green" and finding artists for the next summer concert series are top priorities, Lockwood said the facilities are definitely a little quieter than during concert season. He said the season will take a little while to get up and running after the snow is cleared out in April in preparation for the June opening.

Although music is Meadowbrook's forte, the venue has other entertainment plans as well. A mixed martial arts event is in the works, with ultimate fighting championships growing rapidly in popularity. Lockwood said they are currently working with the promoter on this event, which will be held separately from the concert series.

"We are going to check out shows. If it is successful, we could possibly be an annual event. It talks to a different audience," said Lockwood. "Some smaller promotions are looking for bigger venues. They can go from 1,200 to 4,000 people here."

Reflecting on Meadowbrook's 2009 season, Lockwood said it was their best season yet in terms of attendance and revenue.

"Attendance went up by 23 percent, which was huge. The economy's not great and the weather was tough," said Lockwood, adding that the venue and lineup tends to draw "die-hard fans."

He attributed the increase in ticket sales to the artists that performed at Meadowbrook in 2009, and to Harding, who brought in particular artists he knew would prosper in the current market. Lockwood said prices may be another reason, and that Meadowbrook will try to keep ticket prices reasonable for next season as well, since they are "one of the few venues" who have seen increases. He added that Meadowbrook has become a more established facility over the years, which also contributes to the rising numbers.

2010 season tickets are currently on sale, as well as inner-circle memberships and a lay-away program which allows for ticket holders to install a payment plan and still lock in a good seat. Lockwood said that the inner-circle membership will also offer a few more perks next season, including an absentee buying application, and seat upgrades, if available, for no extra cost.

With all the hard work going into the off-season in preparation for the summer months, Lockwood said he hopes for an even better turnout in 2010, especially if the weather ends up a little brighter than last summer's.

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