Erie Insurance Arena Has Plenty to Offer in Coming Months

by Ed Snyder, Assistant Director of Sports Facilities

It may be the middle of summer, but here at Erie Events we are always looking to what is next.  Once hockey starts in a few months, our staff will transition the arena multiple times a week to set up for the wide variety of events held at Erie Insurance Arena.  The Arena Operations Department will begin working 24 hours a day, seven days a week in August and that will continue until the end of the hockey season in the spring.

Our all-star crew of six full time employees and 20+ part time employees are always busy.  Whether they are constructing a stage and setting up dressing rooms for a concert, laying down the basketball court for a BayHawks game or working to improve the arena, it is non-stop action all season long.  It is simply amazing see how different this building looks in just eight hours!

A big thank you to our Erie Insurance Arena Operation staff!  Without their tireless work behind the scenes, none of the events at the arena could go on!  Follow Erie Events on Social Media this season for some behind the scenes photos and time-lapse videos of what it takes to set up the arena for various events.

Below are a few events we are really looking forward to. Hope to see you at the arena!

The Otters start their 2018/19 season with their annual training camp on August 25th.  The multiple day process of installing the ice surface will take place a week prior to training camp.  Arena staff have already begun the process of preparing for the season completing multiple projects including repairing the dasher walls, prepping the ice equipment and washing the Zambonis.  The Otters open their season on home ice for the first time in team history on September 22nd.

The Erie Sports Commission and Mercyhurst University will host the prestigious Ice Breaker Tournament at the Erie Insurance Arena on October 13th and 14th.  This four team tournament will feature Erie’s own Mercyhurst University as well as Miami University, Providence University and the University of Notre Dame.  This is a great chance to see some of the best collegiate ice hockey teams in the country. Make sure you come out and support the hometown Lakers!

The BayHawks are back to defend their Southwest Division Championship this fall.  Look for their schedule to be released later this summer.  It will be another exciting season as they continue their affiliation with the Atlanta Hawks and look to bring a NBA G-League Championship to Erie!

The Presque Isle Partnership’s Best Summer Night Concert will at Erie Insurance Arena on September 6th.  The arena staff are working with the Partnership to ensure the fundraising event for Presque State Park is a great experience. Tickets from the beach concert can be exchanged at the Box Office and will go on sale to the public on August 1stIMG_1432

Monster Jam returns to the arena for the first time since 2015 this November.  We will go through the two day transition of unloading over 50 of trucks of soil to transform the ice floor into a dirt track for the two day competition on November 9th and 10th.   Seeing monster trucks up close in an environment like the Erie Insurance Arena is an experience you can’t find anywhere else!

Advertisements

Kevin at the Park: Experience at Bark at the Park

by Danielle Weaver, Human Resources Coordinator

By day, I’m the human resources coordinator at Erie Events, but after 5 p.m., I take on a completely different job: I’m a proud dog mom of two English Bulldogs named Kevin and Phoebe.

Kevin1

Meet Kevin! He’s my English Bulldog and he loved Bark at the Park.

It’s no secret that those who live in Erie can’t wait to fast forward to summer. When the weather gets warm, one of my favorite things to do is attend Bark at the Park at UPMC Park. Bark at the Park is a night when fans can bring their well-behaved dogs to a baseball game! UPMC Park features six luxury suites, two picnic areas, three primary concession stands and a Bud Light Beer Garden, so there’s something for everyone – and now dogs, too! It’s a treat that the SeaWolves offered this special promotion for a night out with the fur babies.

Recently, my husband and I took Kevin to Bark at the Park. I even named his special night “Kevin at the Park”! Kevin loved his night! Kevin hung out at the Bud Light Beer Garden, but he had to take the elevator up because he’s not athletic enough to go up multiple flights of stairs.

Kevin really only accepts other bulldogs in his friend circle, and he made friends with a bulldog named Goose at Bark in the Park. A small feisty wiener dog went at Goose and Kevin legitimately had Goose’s back – I swear I’m not making this up! It was a good time for Kevin and we enjoyed it, too.

Kevin2

Posing with Kevin. We’ll be back!

Bark at the Park brings all different kinds of people – and dogs – together for a night out. Having your dog at the park is a great ice breaker to meet other people. Dog owners might not have something in common, but your dogs might, and that drives a conversation.

If I could offer any advice for first timers taking their dog to the park, I would tell them to consider the heat and pack cold water. There is water served community bowl style, but bringing water will help. Doggy bags are key if there’s an accident, and if you have a bulldog (perhaps named Kevin), you will probably be carrying him back to the car by the end of the night!

 

Updates on ‘Best Summer Night’ and More

by Brandon Boyd, Coordinator of Communications and Client Relations

Famous cartoon dog Snoopy used to sit atop his doghouse as a self-imagined world darkandstormy_5013famous author and start each of his writings the same way: “It was a dark and stormy night.”

Snoopy could have wrote the same for June 22 of this year when Steve Miller Band and Peter Frampton were supposed to be playing at Presque Isle State Park.

Unfortunately for all involved, “Best Summer Night” became “Dark and Stormy Night” and the decision was made by the Presque Isle Partnership to postpone the concert. The threat of lightning, heavy wind gusts and rain were too unpredictable to green light the show.

We assisted with ticketing and set-up for the concert, and we’ve received plenty of calls and messages about the concert. First, let us say, yes, the concert is being rescheduled. We should have a new date for everyone very soon. Stay tuned for that!

We understand the frustration over the initial concert being postponed, and when you couple that with Dierks Bentley’s cancellation of his concert at Erie Insurance Arena, there has been a bit of pessimism from some on the state of concerts and events here.

A couple notes from us:

  1. When we post about an event and you comment “Will this one get canceled too?” we’ve already seen it. At least try to come up with something new!
  2. Cancellations and postponements are an unfortunate part of the game. That said, they are a rarity and the majority of our shows go off without a hitch.
  3. We have and will continue to bring you the best possible lineup we can. We’re very excited about a lot of the shows we have coming up. Jerry Seinfeld is nearly sold out. REO Speedwagon is doing great. Family opportunities like Monster Jam, Sesame Street and Disney on Ice are all going to be great times. And we have more to announce as the summer develops! It’s an exciting time at Erie Events.

So, in closing, stay tuned from us on a reschedule date to Steve Miller Band and Peter Frampton and also keep watching for announcements of new shows! And, yes, we’ll make sure to avoid dark and stormy nights to continue ensuring we’re offering the very best to Erie and the surrounding tri-state region.

Update on Dierks Bentley Refunds and Presque Isle Concert

refundandreschedule

We’re getting calls and messages on these two topics, so we want to provide some information to help everyone!

Dierks Bentley: The last of the credit card refunds have been processed and should be returned by this week. Unfortunately, it’s a lot quicker to take money out than it is to put it back in. We appreciate everyone’s patience with the cancellation and refund. We always work toward doing everything we can to put on a great show, but sometimes that cannot happen.

Steve Miller Band and Peter Frampton: Presque Isle Partnership is working with the artists for a rescheduled date. Despite a “rain or shine” billing, the weather forecast Friday night made the concert a no-go for safety reasons. All of us at Erie Events are handling ticketing for this concert, and we can take any questions you may have regarding ticketing.

We’re always here to help — let us know if you have any other questions on these topics or others!

Summer Fun in Erie

by Sandra Olsen, Sales Manager

Welcome to SUMMER!  As you may have heard, Erie had one of the snowiest seasons on record in 2017!  On December 24th & 25th we broke a record for the largest two-day snowfall with 53” of snow falling.  Maybe not something to be overly excited about, but if you live in Erie, you sure learn how to drive in the snow!

And, if you live in Erie, you live for the summer!  It is said that Erie has the 2nd most beautiful sunsets of anywhere in the world.  While we are fortunate enough to experience all four seasons (sometimes in just one day!) summer is really where it is at for Erie.  It seems like there is always something going on every day of the week.

  • Mondays – there is Buck Night at the SeaWolves with $.25 cent draft night at the Plymouth
  • Tuesdays – 8 Great Tuesdays at the Amphitheater
  • Wednesdays – Sunset Music Concert Series on Presque Isle State Park
  • Thursdays – Block Parties downtown
  • The weekends are all about the Festivals! (Just to name a few!)
    • June – Food Truck Festival and the Poker Run
    • July – Greek Festival and Roar on the Shore
    • August – Jazz Festival and Celebrate Erie
  • Don’t forget live horse racing From Mid-May through Early October. Racing is live Monday – Thursday and from June on Sundays as well.

We are lucky to have Presque Isle State Park right in our backyard.  With 13 miles of beaches and so many other activities going on there you should never be bored in the summer in Erie.  If you are more of a thrill seeker, season passes to Waldameer Amusement Park are a must!

I feel like I could go on for days talking about summer in Erie!  There is truly something for everyone.  With the Erie Art Museum, the Erie Zoo, Brig Niagara and Maritime Museum, Asbury Woods Nature Center, Bicentennial Tower, and the Tom Ridge Environmental Center you can see that Erie offers a diverse selection of things to do! And, of course, we have plenty going on here at the Bayfront Convention Center! Feel free to take time on a nice sunny day to check us out!

A Day In the Life of Our Groundskeeper

IMG_0033by Brandon Schanz, Head Groundskeeper

A picture of an employee gathering for employees who had been with Erie Events for 10 years hangs from a wall in my office. My 20-year plaque from the Erie SeaWolves is to its right on the other side of the wall. My walls say it all: I’ve been here ever since UPMC Park, then Jerry Uht Park, was built.

 

One clarification before we begin: saying “the walls in my office” is a bit of a misnomer. It’s really more of a shed behind centerfield, and I also have quarters in Erie Insurance Arena. If I had to actually pick an “office” for myself, it would probably be the field itself.

I wasn’t always in grounds keeping. I came out of high school in the summer of 1995 working in the kitchen area. By the end of the first season, I became assistant director of concessions at the age of 18. I worked there until 1998. I knew the groundkeeper at the time and he convinced me to join his staff in 1999. After my second year in that department, I became his main assistant and worked at the Warner Theatre in the winter. From there, I took over as head groundskeeper in 2004.

There’s hard days, certainly, but I wouldn’t have been here so long if I didn’t like it. The people I’ve met, the players I work with – it’s not too shabby. If you’re curious, Curtis Granderson was one of the nicest players and Matt Walbeck (who managed in 2007) was one of my favorite managers. One of my all-time favorite players was Josh Rainwater, a pitcher who played from 2008-2010.

IMG_0038

Always working with the team to ensure we’ve got it all right.

Before the team plays, my team is in charge of getting the field ready for them. We have a total staff of 17. There’s me, my assistant (full-time seasonal) and other part-time staff. Most have been around for over two years – their longevity in the job really helps us get a lot done efficiently.

Walking you through a typical day is difficult, but here’s this for starters: our day often starts at 8 a.m. and doesn’t end until an hour after the conclusion of the game. Yeah. We put in some long hours.

Cutting the grass once usually takes an hour of time. If we’re doing a new pattern, it can take up to five hours. It’s always fun thinking up new designs and doing things that haven’t been done. I don’t usually have a design in mind, though – I usually just get on the mower and see how I’m feeling.

My assistant usually works on the mounds and after that, the infields are taken care of and the dugouts are cleaned. We try to edge once every other homestand and we’ll sometimes do resodding if there’s a bad spot on the field. The field is fertilized every two weeks and once a month we aerate the field.

It’s all time consuming.

IMG_0043

The staff does work throughout the day to get the Park ready.

Time is of the essence here, as we have to get things done before batting practice. Our ability to get things done is especially hard when there are also events that aren’t SeaWolves games. We have over 30 extra events this year, including several high school baseball games. They put wear on the grass and field, but most importantly, they cut into our time to get work done. We love kids’ camps and block parties and concerts, but they do bring about extra challenges for our job.

During the game, we’re working, too. We’re doing touch-ups throughout the game, and on bad weather days, we’re keeping the umpires up to date. I also keep in touch with Tom Atkins at WJET about what he’s seeing on radar. It’s usually my decision on whether to put the tarp out – you want the tarp to be placed just before bad weather comes, not as it’s already happening.

Rain days are the hardest, as removing water fast is difficult. But I’ve been here so long that all the issues we have start to repeat themselves and I know how to handle them. After all, I have been here since the park’s inception; I’ll be sure to have the Park ready to go day in and day out.

A New Look on the Bayfront

by Gus Pine, General Manager of the Bayfront Convention Center

In the summer of 2016, Erie Events opened up the Courtyard Erie Bayfront Hotel, starting a new chapter for us on the Bayfront.

That’s because the addition of the Courtyard Erie Bayfront Hotel, along with the existing Sheraton Erie Bayfront Hotel solidified us as major players in the convention business. With the beautiful Bayfront Convention Center and now over 400 connected hotel rooms, we added some key elements that meeting planners were looking for.

The completion of the Courtyard proved to be the genesis of our next step. As general manager of the Bayfront Convention Center, my job is not just to think about the day-to-day operations, but also to think long-term and how we shape our future growth and direction. A key question quickly emerged. We have the Bayfront Convention Center, the Sheraton and the Courtyard – but how do we pitch them? Do we list them all out, are they separate entities? Essentially, how do we best market our resources to others in a clear, yet concise, package?

The answer was found in the creation of a collective brand. The team at Erie Events has been working with Tungsten Creative Group, a marketing organization based right here in Erie, to take our three facilities and marry them with one collective message. Now, of course, when needed we are our own brand, but when pitched as a unit to potential conventions, we will now be on the same page under one umbrella. Through our overall brand, our potential customers will truly see all that we have to offer.

I’m 100 percent convinced this will help us secure more conventions.

We have a fantastic location. It’s like a convention resort down here at the Bayfront. If you haven’t been down, stop by and see our facilities. Everything overlooks the bay, and that’s a great way to get work done.

We’ve got a great story here – we just need a vehicle to do it. Our new branding efforts, which we’ll begin unveiling in August as part of a major marketing initiative, will do just that.

We’ll also be looking to tie-in our future development in the area, including that at the former GAF site, now known as Bayfront Place. We could see the development of entertainment options, restaurants, or residential housing available at the site. We aspire to be a place where locals and travelers can mingle, and the more we have going on down here, the quicker we will reach that goal.

One of the key elements to a thriving city is the reliance on the dollars of outsiders. We can trade dollars as locals, but when travelers come in and bring in additional demand, it brings the city to another level. That’s what we’re looking to do, and we’re excited to continue the process this summer.

Off-Season at Arena Welcome, But Not a Complete Break

By Ray Williams, Director of Sports Facilities

Just like in a sports league, here at the Erie Insurance Arena we have an off-season, too.

This time of year is a time of rest and recuperation for the staff and for the building. While we certainly enjoy the Otters and BayHawks, switching between ice and basketball courts and making sure all runs smoothly can be a taxing endeavor.

That said, when we say off-season, it doesn’t mean the work stops completely — we’re not lounging around outside of the Arena laying in a hammock sunbathing! It only means we have less event activity and can dedicate more time to take stock of what needs repaired, what needs replaced, and how we can make positive changes for our patrons.

We’re almost halfway through our off-season and as we look toward the rest of the summer and then the fall, we have about three more months before the Otters training camp begins and another exciting season can commence. We have a lot of work to do between now and then, and we look forward to welcoming our fans back to the Arena on a consistent basis when hockey starts!