Nancy Wilson (left) and Ann Wilson of Heart perform at the MusiCares MAP Fund benefit concert in Los Angeles in May. The veteran rock group announced Monday that their 2013 tour will include a concert at Brandon’s Westman Place on March 15.
In what is another sign the Keystone Centre is getting back into the concert game, facility general manager Neil Thomson announced that Heart will play Westman Place on March 15.
Heart added Brandon as one of a 12-city, cross-Canada tour, that runs from March 9 to March 25, to promote a new album called "Fanatic." Thomson said he hopes that the Seattle-based band will go over well.
"Our intent is to do a few more of these things," Thomson said. "We should have some announcements into the future."
While the Keystone Centre’s managers have dipped their toes back in the pool of live music, they have learned from mistakes from the past. The facility hosted a wildly successful, sold-out Jonny Reid concert in the spring, though the Keystone Centre let a promoter take on most of the risk. While this may have cut into the possible profit had it been more hands-on, it also sheltered the facility from the risk of major losses.
That’s the case this time as well, as Vancouver-based Paul Mercs Concerts will promote this concert. Thomson said there are negotiations underway with another Western Canadian regional promoter to bring more concerts to the Keystone Centre.
"Our intention is to look at concerts as a revenue opportunity for the facility," Thomson said. "It’s a bit risky to get into the concert business, but we do try to minimize our risks. Usually you can minimize it by working with a promoter and your risk goes up when the facility becomes the promoter. If we think there’s somebody that will go over quite well, then there may be less risk. Or if someone approaches us, then it’s their decision on how they would proceed."
Thomson said the facility has partnered with Paul Mercs Concerts after they approached the Keystone Centre with the idea of putting on a Heart concert in Brandon.
The Johnny Reid concert last spring netted the Keystone Centre between $25,000 and $50,000 in profit, with Thomson adding the profit was likely on the higher end of that scale.
"There is a lot of work that goes into it, but in that case, it was an extremely good concert because we completely sold out," Thomson said.
"We can make some money with lower audience numbers than a sell-out but it depends on the cost of the act, what the act sells the tickets for and it depends on whether there’s additional merchandise sales or food and beverage sales. It’s really a combination of those revenue lines."
Darryl Wolski, a local concert promoter and hockey agent, said that a band like Heart can likely be booked for $75,000. Based on recent Heart live performances, Wolski expects the Keystone Centre can probably sell 2,200 tickets for the show.
"Depending on who the support act is, maybe 2,200 to 2,400 is my guess," Wolski said. "Heart hasn’t had a hit song in 15 years, so let’s be realistic about this. It’s not going to be like Johnny Reid. At least he’s got some new songs out. If you look at the shows Heart is playing at, they are playing casinos like Mystic Lake Casino in Minneapolis, that kind of stuff. If you sell out Mystic Lake, you are looking at something like 1,900."
That’s still a good find for the Keystone Centre though, Wolski added, as the Heart show will draw fans from outside of Brandon as well as inside the city.
"This is the kind of master plan Canad Inns had when they came to Brandon," Wolski said. "They were supposed to bring in a concert a month or something like that. Of course we know that never happened. But people from Minnedosa and Neepawa will come in for this. If the Keystone can sell 3,000 to 4,000 tickets, obviously they will make money at this, and good for them."
Wolski said by hosting concerts, the Keystone Centre is on the right track over the long term because the costs that can make or break a promoter are controlled by the facility.
"When you look at security and catering to the guy running a forklift, those are the nickel-and-dime costs that can kill you, and the Keystone Centre will have a different cost structure if it deals with it internally," Wolski said.
"They can absorb some of those costs, where the average promoter, whether it’s AEG or Live Nation, myself or whoever, they take the risk. A great example is when we did the Akon concert there and I think on paper that one made $150. It sold 2,300 tickets or something like that.
"They are in a better position to do this than a lot of people are."
Tickets will go on sale at 10 a.m. on Oct. 12 at the Keystone Centre box office (tickets.keystonecentre.com) or by phoning 204-726-3555.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition October 2, 2012