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VENUE & FESTIVAL UPDATES (Click on More to view all articles): Charlotte To Get New Uptown Arena & Rosemont To Be Home Of Chicagoland Pops

Robert Johnson, owner of the new National Basketball Association (NBA) franchise in Charlotte, NC, has entered into agreements with the city of Charlotte for the development and operation of the city's new basketball arena. Construction of the new Uptown arena is expected to be completed for the 2005-2006 NBA season and will cost approximately $200 million. The city, the expansion team ownership and local Charlotte banks will finance the cost of construction.

"I am extremely pleased the agreements have been executed, and I am prepared to move quickly, along with the city of Charlotte, to build a first class basketball arena that will be ready for play by the '05-'06 home opener," Johnson said.

"The arena development deal was finalized quickly in great part because of the hard work of Mayor Patrick McCrory, the city council and the city's attorney's office," he added. "The mayor and the city council worked tirelessly to bring a new NBA team to Charlotte, and I am pleased to have such dedicated partners in this joint effort to build a successful basketball franchise in Charlotte."

Johnson's team will begin play in Charlotte in the 2004-2005 NBA season at the Charlotte Coliseum. Johnson expects to finalize promptly a separate agreement with the Charlotte Coliseum Authority for the new NBA teams and the Sting's use of the Charlotte Coliseum before the new arena is completed and ready for play.

Rosemont To Be Home Of Chicagoland Pops

The Chicagoland Pops of Rosemont, the Chicago area's newest, largest and most ambitious pops symphony orchestra, will be making its permanent home at the Rosemont Theatre beginning this fall. The Chicagoland Pops, a symphony orchestra that plays popular or easily recognized tunes, will generate greater public awareness throughout the Midwest region of the Village of Rosemont as a vibrant center for world-class entertainment.

Rosemont is home to the nation's 10th largest meeting and convention center, the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center – Rosemont, which draws more than 1.4 million visitors a year. Numerous international corporations, including US Freightways Corp., Galileo International Inc. and Transamerica Finance Corp., are based in Rosemont, while others, such as Banco Popular and American Airlines, maintain large operations in the village.

The village also offers one of the region's most diverse arrays of sports and recreation, restaurants, more than 8,000 hotel rooms and first-rate meeting and convention facilities. "Rosemont is thrilled to be the home of the Chicagoland Pops," said Mayor Donald E. Stephens. "The symphony's imaginative programs combining music, dance, theatre, art and the visual arts promise to delight audiences of all ages and further confirm Rosemont's reputation as one of the nation's premier entertainment destinations."

The Chicagoland Pops of Rosemont will be launched with a mix of corporate support, subscription sales and individual sales. "Our purpose in creating the Chicagoland Pops of Rosemont was to bring the people of the Chicago area a professional pops organization that they could call their very own, much like the cities of Boston, New York, Cincinnati have enjoyed for decades," said John Froberg, executive director and founder of the new pops organization.

The 80-piece professional pops orchestra will explore music of audiences' favorite movies, beloved musicals, familiar classical works and contemporary music from a variety of genres – rock, pop and jazz – as well as programs based on such themes as Americana, Halloween and Christmas.

The Chicagoland Pops will be comprised of professional musicians from the ranks of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Lyric Opera of Chicago and the Grant Park Symphony Orchestra. It also will feature a variety of guest artists, from nationally recognized celebrities to acclaimed local artists, all with the focus on providing unrivaled entertainment to a wide spectrum of audiences.

"Our vision is, first and foremost, to give audiences a spectacular performance, but, we've also set out to expose them to various aspects of the arts that they wouldn't find at a traditional symphony orchestra performance," said Lloyd Butler, artistic director and conductor of the Chicagoland Pops of Rosemont.

"This is truly an exciting time for music interests in the region. There is not a better market, location or village to call home than Rosemont," said Mr. Butler. "With its variety of restaurants and entertainment venues, Rosemont is the ideal partner for the Chicagoland Pops and we look forward to a great future together."

The Chicagoland Pops of Rosemont will begin its 2003-04 schedule in September, with at least nine unique programs through May 2004. All performances will be held at the 4,400-seat Rosemont Theatre, located at 5400 N. River Road.

Memphis Rock 'N' Soul Museum To Relocate To FedExForum

Memphis Rock 'n' Soul Museum, the Smithsonian Institution partnership dedicated to telling the city's historic contribution to music and culture, will relocate to FedExForum and open when the new downtown arena is complete in fall 2004. The Museum will build a showcase exhibit on the Third Avenue South side of FedExForum — the Highway 61 stretch of road better known as "Blues Highway" by the many legendary musicians who traveled it through the Delta to play on Beale Street.

Rock 'n' Soul will move the museum from its 8,800-square-foot home at the Gibson Guitar Showcase into more than 10,000 square feet at FedExForum. The Memphis Rock 'n' Soul Museum will have a 25-year lease (at a rate of $10 per year) with the Memphis Grizzlies, which has the management contract for FedExForum. Rock 'n' Soul will continue to operate at Gibson until new space at the arena is complete.

The Smithsonian's National Museum of American History has agreed to the relocation. "Rock 'n' Soul: Social Crossroads" opened April 29, 2000, the first Smithsonian partnership developed outside of Washington, D.C. The museum mixes artifacts, sounds, film and photography in a century-long retrospective on the roots, cultural influences and evolution of music that had a global impact.
In establishing the museum, the Smithsonian stated the importance of such an exhibit, "In the quest to identify the roots of America's music, all roads led to Memphis."

"The roots of modern music begin in Memphis," said museum board member Charlie Ryan. "Our city has had a dramatic impact on music and culture on an international level, and the Rock 'n' Soul Museum is a tremendous showcase to share that special history with the world. We're excited to move to FedExForum because it will elevate the museum's profile, increase our attendance and extend our story to people who want to learn about America's rich musical history."

"The Grizzlies are excited to welcome Rock 'n' Soul into FedExForum," said Mike Golub, senior vice president of business operations for the Memphis Grizzlies. "FedExForum is going to be the entertainment center of the Mid- South. Rock 'n' Soul will be a significant feature in the arena, making it a year-round facility with visitors attending 360 days a year. Visitors to FedExForum will find an arena that is uniquely Memphis, from the architecture to the theme. Memphis is known for its rich musical heritage and music will be a major theme in the new arena. Rock 'n' Soul is a perfect fit for FedExForum."

No public funds approved for construction of FedExForum will be used for the Rock 'n' Soul museum. Construction and relocation costs are being funded by private sources. City of Memphis and Shelby County government project representatives and the New Memphis Arena Public Building Authority (PBA) have approved the move. The PBA today accepted escrow funds in the amount of $1,138,108 from Memphis Rock 'n' Soul to fund construction of the museum's core and shell. That amount will pay for the only phase of museum work that will be performed by FedExForum's contractor.

Rock 'n' Soul will hire its own architects and planners to finish the space and relocate the museum, at an additional cost estimated at $700,000 to $900,000. The Memphis Rock 'n' Soul Museum has become an important international destination. Over the past 2 1/2 years, the museum has attracted more than 150,000 visitors from 50 U.S. States and 6,200 cities from 62 foreign countries. The Rock 'n' Soul tour program is scripted in six languages.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, M.D. (R-Tennessee), a member of the Smithsonian Institution's Board of Regents, assisted the relocation. "The music of Memphis and the Delta has had a profound impact on people and cultures across the globe. The Rock 'n' Soul Museum in Memphis and the Smithsonian Institution have formed a creative partnership to share this distinct history with the world. The museum is certain to become another Memphis landmark honoring the rich history of the Delta."

Rep. Harold Ford (D-Memphis) said, "The Rock 'n' Soul Museum is a great community asset that poignantly articulates the role Memphis has played in creating music that has impacted American culture. The exhibit at FedExForum gives visitors and local citizens alike the opportunity to learn about the city's rich music history."

San Francisco Opera Reducing Performances

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The deficit-ridden San Francisco Opera will reduce the number of its performances over the next three years in an effort to shrink the annual operating budget from about $60 million to $45 million.

"This city is just not able financially to support a jumbo jet," general director Pamela Rosenberg said last week. "We still think we can be a fabulous opera company. The amount we'll be producing is less, but we'll be doing that optimally."

The opera company had a deficit of $7.6 million for the 2001-02 season and is predicting a $9.2 million shortfall this year.

The 2003-04 season, announced earlier this month, features nine productions, compared with 11 this season. The 2004-05 season will have eight productions.

Beginning with the 2005-06 season, the company will stage about 65 performances a year spread over nine productions, Rosenberg said. This compares with 88 performances of 11 or 12 productions that's been the rule for the past decade.

"For the last 15 years, the San Francisco Opera has been offering too much volume," Rosenberg said. "Unlike the Lyric Opera of Chicago, which does eight productions a year and can sell out 10 performances each, our average ticket sales throughout the '90s was around 85 percent.

"To me, that says that instead of doing eight performances of a production and selling 70 percent of our capacity, we should do six performances and sell 90 percent."

Crossroads Theatre Postpones Production

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. (AP) — The financially troubled Crossroads Theatre Company has postponed its next production until March.

The one-man show, "Manchild in the Promised Land," is scheduled as the final show in the company's four-play season.

However, the 315-seat theater the company leases from the New Brunswick Development Corp. already is booked on several Saturdays in March, the days the Crossroads shows likely would take place. Officials said the company hasn't reserved any dates to use the building that month.

Crossroads board of trustees President Marguerite Mitchell-Ivey said she isn't worried about a potential scheduling conflict.

"I will make it happen," she told the Home News Tribune of East Brunswick for Tuesday's editions. "I will work with whatever they give me. I don't really have a choice, but I do have to put on a fourth play for the subscribers, because that's our commitment."

Crossroads Theatre Company is a Tony Award-winning black theater that closed in September 2000 because of a $2 million debt that's been reduced slightly in recent months.

Padres New Stadium to Be Named PETCO Park

SAN DIEGO (AP) –– The San Diego Padres' new ballpark will be called PETCO Park after the pet supply company agreed Wednesday to a naming rights deal reportedly worth more than $60 million over 22 years.

PETCO Animal Supplies, Inc., is a nationwide retailer of pet supplies that was founded in San Diego in 1965.

The ballpark is scheduled to be completed by opening day 2004.

"PETCO is a very important and desirable new corporate partner for the Padres for a number of reasons," team owner John Moores said. "We share a commitment to the San Diego community and a focus on family values. If there is any pastime that is as American as baseball, it is caring for the family pets, so this is the perfect partnership for two San Diego institutions."

Hard Rock Cafe Int'l To Develop, Operate New Hotel

Hard Rock Cafe International is entering into a licensing agreement with the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians to develop and operate a 300-room Hard Rock Hotel at the Pearl River Resort in Choctaw, Mississippi. Additionally Hard Rock Cafe International will operate a Hard Rock Beach Club at Pearl River Resort's new nine-acre beach opening this summer.

"Combining the worldwide recognition of the Hard Rock brand with the Choctaw's already successful hotel and gaming operations is an absolute home-run," said Pete Beaudrault, president and CEO of Hard Rock Cafe International.

"Our goal is to continue to make strategic moves to further position The Pearl River Resort as the premiere regional entertainment, lodging and gaming destination in the Southeast, " said Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians chief Phillip Martin. "We feel the partnership between Pearl River Resort and Hard Rock Cafe will prove to be very successful and great entertainment for our guests."

Pearl River Resort is already the home to Silver Star and Golden Moon hotels and casinos boasting over 4,800 slot machines and 140 table games. The twin casinos house approximately 1,100 rooms including suites and luxury suites. The Resort's Dancing Rabbit Golf Club has 36-holes of championship golf and is rated number 35 in Golf Magazine's "Top 100 You Can Play." Summer of 2002 brought Geyser Falls Water Theme Park, a 15 acre, $20 million water park featuring Thunder Lake wave pool, Creaky Leaky Water Factory, Lil' Squirts Hollow, Roundabout Lazy River and 12 major water slides including BackSplash!, the only slide of its kind.

The Hard Rock Beach Club is a new product offering being launched by Orlando-based Hard Rock Cafe International. The Beach Club will immerse guests in a 360 degree indoor/outdoor tropical environment featuring sandy beaches, heated pools, open air porches, live performance stages, dance areas and a full-service restaurant. This unique lifestyle venue will include many familiar Hard Rock menu items and will also feature a number of new additions representative of its tropical surroundings.

The planned Hard Rock Hotel – scheduled to open by 2006 – will build on the success of the Hard Rock Hotel brand joining sister properties currently open in Bali, Las Vegas, Pattaya and Orlando as well as locations currently under construction in Chicago, Tampa and Hollywood (FL).

The Hard Rock Hotel Chicago is scheduled to open in late 2003 and represents the first property to be managed by Hard Rock Cafe International. The locations in Tampa and Hollywood are part of a previously announced licensing agreement with the Seminole Indian Tribe of Florida scheduled to open in Summer 2004.

SummerWind PAC Gets Title Sponsor

ADVO, Inc. has entered into an agreement to become the title sponsor of the SummerWind Performing Arts Center. The three-year partnership provides SummerWind with much of the resources required to continue presenting world-class performances to large New England audiences.

Beginning with the 2003 season, ADVO will be featured prominently as the title supporter of the regional performing arts center. SummerWind’s inaugural 2002 season drew more than 26,000 spectators to a total of 12 events throughout the summer. Visitors came from all over the country, with the primary draw being from the New England/New York area. With ADVO’s commitment, the center hopes to draw even larger audiences during the coming seasons.

Governor John Rowland expressed his support of ADVO’s title sponsorship. "I am always proud to see Connecticut companies step up to the plate in support of the arts and cultural events for our residents, and the residents of the surrounding region," he said. "ADVO, which has successfully positioned itself as a leader in the direct mail marketing industry, has strengthened its corporate citizenship position in Connecticut with this title sponsorship. This partnership between ADVO and SummerWind will help give audiences a premier music venue for years to come."

Promoter Wanted For Concert Series

Sacramento County supervisors have approved a plan to allow promoters to submit proposals for mid-sized summer concerts at Discovery Park, the Sacramento Bee reports. The plan comes after months of negotiations with the Sacramento River Cats baseball team failed.

Supervisor Roger Dickinson, who voted against the plan, was unhappy that county staff had failed to get a deal involving Yolo County's Raley Field, home of the River Cats, the paper reports. As a result, the county lost out on $150,000 that the River Cats had proposed to spend on the concert series.

Last year, the county and Raley Field officials began talking after negotiations broke down with Clear Channel Entertainment. According to Tom Glick, Raley Field senior vice president of sales and marketing, Raley Field officials had proposed fewer shows than the county was hoping for.

CCE proposed 20 to 30 summer concerts at the confluence of the American and Sacramento rivers, but the plan drew objections from Raley Field officials over environmental issues and complaints of unfair competition with the West
Sacramento stadium, the paper reports.

Clear Channel Entertainment wound up moving five concerts anticipated at Discovery Park last summer to a venue at Cal Expo.

Judy Collins On NYC Stage

From January 28-February 2, 2003, Judy Collins will appear in Bob Balaban's production of The Exonerated at the Bleecker Theater in New York. The new play explores the lives, in their own words, of men and women convicted of murder, sent to death row, and later acquitted, at the Bleecker Theater in New York City.

Performing for her second time in a New York City stage production (the first, in Peer Gynt with the New York Shakespeare Production in Central Park with Stacy Keach in 1969) Collins will take over the part of Sunny Jacobs, a role previously played by Jill Clayburgh, Mia Farrow and Amanda Plummer, among others.