Arena and Theatre to Implement Smoking Re-Entry Ban

eia GRAPHICCasey Wells, Erie Events’ Executive Director, told the Erie County Convention Center Authority’s board of directors on Thursday that effective September 1 he wants to eliminate the organization’s re-entry policy, which allows patrons to smoke at designated smoking areas outside the facilities.

Currently, patrons attending events at the two venues are allowed to step outside during the event to smoke and then re-enter the facility. The new policy would eliminate that procedure to provide a more secure environment for all.

“We recently completed a comprehensive vulnerability assessment from the Department of Homeland Security where they identified the smoking re-entry policy at the Warner and Erie Insurance Arena as a significant safety and security risk.” Wells said.

Standard procedure in most venues nationwide prohibits patrons from exiting and then re-entering a facility, and Erie will be following suit.

“It’s time to make this move. It’s a security and a safety concern for our patrons,” Wells said.

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Busy With Projects Aplenty

By Brandon Boyd, Coordinator of Communications and Client Relations

Saying it’s an exciting time at Erie Events would really be underselling it.

It’s a time of growth. Of change. Of new, of old, of what’s to come and what can be.

Here’s the best part: It’s all unfolding right in front of Erie’s eyes.

You’ve probably seen the headlines about our Warner Theatre project being approved. Or, if you’ve driven by the Erie Insurance Arena and UPMC Park, you’ve probably seen the hard-working construction workers out in the teeth-chattering cold building a new structure.

Let’s take a look at these two big projects and break them down just slightly for everyone:

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Photo Courtesy of Paul Gibbens

UPMC Park: As we mentioned, if you drive by, you’re going to see something new. If you haven’t been following along, that something new is a multi-level structure will include a team store and offices on the first floor, with an upper-level club area connecting to the adjacent Erie Insurance Arena. A new entrance plaza will be added down the left-field line, and additional renovations and improvements will be made to the concession and restroom facilities, lighting and concourse, an expanded kid’s zone, suites, and more.

So what does all this mean?

It means a completely new experience for our players and fans here in Erie. If you remember, we’ve already put the work in on a new field and a new scoreboard. This next round of construction aims at elevating the already exciting product we offer and taking it to the next level.

But here’s the million dollar question (or, $16 million question, if we’re talking about the upgrades we’ve put into UPMC Park): What about our SeaWolves?

We’ve put everything we have (literally) into providing top-of-the-line facilities for our baseball team. We have worked in lockstep with the Detroit Tigers and we are optimistic for the future of our franchise. For the moment, the best way to support baseball in Erie is to come out to games and show engagement with the team. We are of the upmost belief that common sense will prevail and baseball will remain in Erie for a long, long time.

Warner Theatre: The long-awaited final stage to the renovation project started in 1995 has been approved and is ready to go. While there are some items to work out on our side, for all intents and purposes, we are a ‘full-go’ for these upgrades. This means the Warner Theatre will be closing in April 2020 and reopening in Fall 2021. While the 18-month closing isn’t quite ideal, it’s for the greater good of being able to complete the necessary upgrades on the 1931 movie palace and vaudeville stage.

We’ve seen the community step up in a big way in regards to this project. We would like to thank Eriez Magnetics, Tom Hagen, and Erie Insurance for their generous funding. We’re excited to see community reaction to all the changes when they’re complete, and we believe we will continue to have the epitome of entertainment in Erie.

You will be able to see these changes in person soon. When it can be visualized, I think everyone will be able to see the scope of the project and how much it will mean to Erie.

And speaking of visualization, while I’m here, let me make just one comment. I run our social media pages and when we post about the Warner Theatre, a lot of people say they’re sad to see the original marquee go away. The original marquee is not going away! Repeat, not going away! The renderings we post are ones from the back of the Theatre on French Street. Some of what is shown in the renderings is already there on French Street. The original marquee will see a bit of a facelift, but will remain on State Street when you drive by. In fact, at night, you’ll see a much improved look at the marquee.

 

We’ll be keeping everyone in the loop as our projects continue to develop. We see a bright future for downtown Erie and Erie as a whole, and we’re excited for what’s to come. We hope you are, too!

Erie Events Moves Forward With Warner Theatre Renovations

WARNER APPROVAL GRAPHICThe Erie County Convention Center Authority Board of Directors voted Monday to award the project bids for the Warner Theatre and move forward with the last phase of the Warner Theatre restoration and renovation project.

“We started working on this project back in 1995. This approval serves as a big step toward finalizing the Warner Theatre’s transformation into a first-rate, 21st century performing arts center while still maintaining its historical integrity,” said Casey Wells, Executive Director of Erie Events.

The Erie community and its local leaders generously provided funding to assist with the project. Eriez Magnetics donated $1 million, Tom Hagen donated $1.5 million, and Erie Insurance pledged $500,000. Additional money for the project will be borrowed and repaid as needed.

“We’re going to have a shovel in the ground in April. We’ve got to get this started. We’ve got one shot to get this right and we’re going to do just that with the tremendous support of these donors,” Wells said.

The plans for the Warner Theatre include increasing the depth of the Warner stage with new rigging, lighting, a customized orchestra shell, and an improved sound system.  It also calls for expanding dressing rooms and rehearsal space. Approximately $2 million is still needed to complete additional elements of the project and those items will be added as funding is secured.

History In Erie Insurance Arena

by Brandon Boyd, Coordinator of Communications and Client Relations

posters

An example of some posters we have.

You’ve probably been at the Erie Insurance Arena for concerts and games, but the one spot you’ve likely never been in within the Arena is our administrative office.

It’s pretty cool, actually. Engelbert Humperdinck stares longingly into my office. Ozzy Osbourne joins us for meetings. Miranda Cosgrove of iCarly fame greets me every time I microwave my lunch.

It’s not exactly as it sounds, though. They’re just autographed posters from shows that these artists have completed. Which is probably for the best, as I’d be weirded out if I had someone actually staring into my office.

The walls of our administrative offices are lined with these posters from events. I was born in 1991, and while I hate to date some of the people here in this building, there are posters older than I am. It’s neat to see.

They bring about memories and fond times here in Erie. I have one poster in my office — it’s not signed, but it’s still neat to me. It’s from a then-WWF event at Erie Insurance Arena. It reminds of fond memories as a kid waiting in line at the Arena and at Giant Eagle to get tickets for wrestling events. The tinge of nostalgia I get each time looking at the poster always gives me a warm feeling.

We still collect posters, signed and unsigned, from those performing here. Obtaining autographs falls typically falls on Dawn Betza, our marketing coordinator, who does a great job of working with each promoter and performer.

The result of it all is cool — you get to see a great show, we get to enjoy it, too, and then we get a memento to remember it by.

Here’s our question: If you could get an autograph or poster from any performer in Erie Insurance Arena history, who would it be?

 

Erie Events and Erie Otters Announce 10-Year Lease Agreement

Otters 10 Year AgreementThe Erie County Convention Center Authority and Ontario Hockey League’s Erie Otters jointly announced today that both parties have agreed to and signed a ten-year lease extension that will keep the Erie Otters in Northwestern Pennsylvania. The agreement sees that the Erie Otters continue to play its seasons in the Authority’s Erie Insurance Arena for an additional ten years, commencing with the 2019-2020 OHL Season.

“All of us in the Otters organization are pleased and excited to have our new ten-year lease signed with the ECCCA,” Erie Otters Owner and Governor Jim Waters said. “The Otters are very fortunate to call this fantastic facility home. I’m ecstatic to join our many fans and community partners in Erie in continuing Otters success for years to come.”

“We’re thrilled to retain this important business in Western Pennsylvania,” said John “Casey” Wells, Erie Events Executive Director. “Not only does our hockey team provide great entertainment, it generates a positive economic impact, creates jobs, and improves the quality of life in our community.”

Coinciding with the lease agreement is the addition of a dedicated Erie Otters retail location and new team office space inside the Erie Insurance Arena in the near future. The Erie Otters have been the primary tenant of the ECCCA-managed Erie Insurance Arena since 1996, when it was formerly known as the Tullio Arena.

The Erie County Convention Center Authority (ECCCA) operates four unique venues in the heart of downtown Erie – Erie Insurance Arena, Warner Theatre, UPMC Park and the Bayfront Convention Center. The Erie Insurance Arena is home to the OHL Erie Otters and the NBA G-League Erie BayHawks. UPMC Park is home to the Erie SeaWolves, Double A Detroit Tigers.

Schanz Celebrates 25 Years at UPMC Park

The grass at UPMC Park has hosted thousands of baseball players and seen countless cuts and designs in the last 25 years.

But it’s seen one man rise the ranks to make sure it’s at its best for each game: Head Groundskeeper Brandon Schanz.

The Erie SeaWolves recently honored Schanz and several other staff members for 25 years of service with the Erie SeaWolves.

“It’s not always easy to be in his dirt-covered shoes, but he knows the importance of his role in developing the Detroit Tigers of tomorrow.  SeaWolves fans are fortunate to have someone with his work ethic caring for the playing surface at UPMC Park.,” said Greg Coleman, team president of the Erie SeaWolves.

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Happy 25, Brandon! We appreciate you.

Schanz’s path to the playing field wasn’t a traditional one. He actually started in the kitchen coming out of high school, and then became assistant director of concessions at 18. After switching to groundskeeping, he became the head groundskeeper in 2004.

He’s never looked back since then, and the field has never looked better. Schanz’s effort over 25 years has been clear.

“His passion for the SeaWolves and the pride he has in his work is unmatched in minor league baseball,” said Ed Snyder, assistant director of sports facilities. “The Erie baseball community is lucky to have Brandon and his crew looking after beautiful UPMC Park.”

Erie Events Impact Downtown Business

by Brandon Boyd, Coordinator of Communications and Client Relations

GRAPHICFORARTICLEIn 2018, Erie Events drove nearly $88 million in direct spending to the Erie region. Erie Events, which operates the Erie Insurance Arena, Warner Theatre, UPMC Park and Bayfront Convention Center, is located in the heart of Erie’s downtown cultural, entertainment and sports district.

With a 2018 event attendance of 729,966, Erie Events is a major driving force that attracts people to downtown Erie.  In addition to attending events, those people also visited restaurants, bars, and other businesses. Downtown establishments prosper on event days.

Bertrand Artigues, owner of Cloud 9 Wine Bar, said he sees a direct correlation between events held in downtown Erie and how busy his business is.

“If [Erie Events] is busy, I’m busy. When we prepare, one of the first things we do is look at the Erie Events website to see what is bringing people into town,” he said. “A big piece of the pie for business here is having events downtown. When events occur, everything flourishes.”

Rochelle Carlotti, bar manager at Jekyll and Hyde’s, agreed.

“We absolutely see an influx in business when events are happening. Weekdays especially are greatly improved by downtown events. Events at the Warner and the Arena, especially Otters games, more than double our business. People often come in for dinner before the event and often stop by after for a drink.”

The Erie Insurance Arena drew 291,862 patrons in 2018, with an average of 3,423 people per game coming to see the Otters during the 2018-2019 season. UPMC Park brought in a total event attendance of 217,868 and the Bayfront Convention Center had a total event attendance of 133,686. The Warner Theatre brought in an additional 86,550 attendees.

For J.B. Innes, manager and owner of 1201 Kitchen, a Warner Theatre crowd brings in a tremendous amount of business.

“When reservations start coming in for a certain date, especially a weekday, I know something’s happening,” he said. “For us, the Warner especially does a great job in bringing in a lot of our customers.”

Downtown businesses unanimously agree that Erie Events plays a significant role in the amount of traffic they get during an event.

“When there’s events and things are going well, there’s a momentum downtown. We get bombarded. It’s fun to watch and be a part of,” Artigues said.

“These events are the cultural center of our city. They bring people in business to all of the bars, restaurants and shops downtown,” Carlotti said. “[Downtown events] bring us a large amount of business from people who may not think to stop into our establishment otherwise.”

Behind the Scenes: A Post-Event Survey

Local Connection – behind the scenes with Jaime Pukylo @ Country Fair Trade Show

  • Overall, how would you rate the event?
    • Excellent
    • Very Good
    • Good
    • Fair
    • Poor
  • Please rate the following aspects of the event:

 

  • Date and time
    • Excellent
    • Very Good
    • Good
    • Fair
    • Poor
  • Location
    • Excellent
    • Very Good
    • Good
    • Fair
    • Poor
  • Audio Visual
    • Excellent – Not applicable this year as we outsourced AV
    • Very Good
    • Good
    • Fair
    • Poor
  • Room Set Up
    • Excellent – The set-up is fantastic and timely!
    • Very Good
    • Good
    • Fair
    • Poor
  • Food and beverages
    • Excellent – Food is always fantastic! Service for over 400 done smoothly!
    • Very Good
    • Good
    • Fair
    • Poor
  • Vendors:
    • Did Event structure allow ample time to interact with attendees? Timing is always tough as some people are rushed while others have free time. We are pleased with the overall structure.
    • Were the location of booths suitable for traffic? Set up was perfect!
  • What did you like most about the event? The ease of working with the staff of the EBFCC! They take away a lot of the stress.

 

  • What did you like least about the event? Paying for it! LOL!

 

  • How do you think your event could have been improved? Better weather!

 

  • How likely are you to recommend the Bayfront Convention Center to a friend/colleague? We have and would again!

 

  • Do you have any other suggestions or comments to help us improve future events?

Keep the staff as is! Working with the same people makes things so much easier!

Suite Life at Upcoming Sweet Shows

by Brighid O’Brien, Premium Services Coordinator

Suite View-2 TablesWe have been very lucky to book recently a lot of amazing shows. Make sure you are subscribed to our email blast so you can be the first to know about these new and exciting events. https://www.erieevents.com/

As the Premium Services Coordinator I would love to tell you about some opportunities that are available to enhance  your Arena experience.  Do you have 22 close friends, colleagues, clients, family?  Have you ever thought of attending a sporting event or concert in one of our suites? The suite offers a private area for you to enjoy the game or concert, a great view, a suite attendant that is there to help you with food and beverage orders and anything else to make your experience a wonderful memory.  If you are interested in learning more, please feel free to call or email me. I would love to show you the space and talk about planning your next visit to the Arena.

Arena in the Summer

by Ray Williams, Director of Sports Facilities

People may wonder what exactly we do at the arena during the summer when we don’t have events.  At this time of year we allow ourselves some freedom for much needed rest and recuperation, both for the staff and for the building.

Internally we talk about the off-season, just as sports teams do, and we take stock of our strengths, weaknesses and where we can show improvement.

This off-season is already growing shorter however with Cirque Crystal, Frankie Valli, Chris Stapleton, Ted Nugent, and a few yet to be announced shows expected to perform over the next few months.  We certainly look forward to hosting these events and trying out new things with our patrons.  It allows us the opportunity to see where we still need to improve and where things are going well.

Before we know it it will be the end of summer and we will be preparing for the Otters training camp between Chris Stapleton and Ted Nugent.

Enjoy your summer! The staff at the Arena is working hard to get the building back in shape to allow all of our patrons to enjoy everything we have to offer!