VENUE NEWS: New Haven To Close, Demolish Coliseum – Libonati Named Director At Thomas & Mack & More!

NEW HAVEN — The Veterans Memorial Coliseum, which has been losing money and acts to newer venues, will be shut down by Sept. 1 and demolished soon afterward, Mayor John DeStefano Jr. said.

DeStefano's announcement Tuesday came with the release of a private study commissioned by the city that showed that closing the coliseum could save New Haven millions of dollars.

The city projects that it would lose about $1.5 million operating the arena through the end of the year.

The building carries a $1 million debt service payment annually. Most of the city's share of the state hotel tax, which adds up to $800,000 each year, goes to the Coliseum Authority.

"The bottom line is that the closing of the coliseum would have very little impact on New Haven," said John Schuyler, a managing director of Scillia, Dowling & Natarelli, the firm that made the study.

DeStefano and Schuyler said concerts and events that once came to the coliseum were now finding newer and more attractive venues, such as the Meadows Music Centre in Hartford and the Mohegan Sun arena in Uncasville.

The mayor said he would like to see the coliseum site used for a hotel, convention center, or perhaps a relocated Long Wharf Theater.

"We think that you could do not just one thing here, but two or three things," DeStefano said.

The study found that 74 jobs would be lost, indirectly and directly, as a result of closing the building.

DeStefano said a high-end estimate of the demolition cost was $10.2 million. In a May visit to an adjacent redevelopment project, Gov. John G. Rowland said he was considering using state money to fund the demolition. A one-time economic stimulus of $1.6 million and 20 temporary jobs would be created by tearing down the building, the study found.

DeStefano said closing the building was an emotional decision, noting that he saw his first circus in the building.

"It's like an old friend," he said.

Libonati Named Director At Thomas & Mack

Daren Libonati, who for the past 11 months has been working under the title of
"interim director" at the the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas, was named the
facility's permanent director on July 3. In addition to the 18,500-seat arena,
Libonati will be in charge of the adjoining Cox Pavilion and the 36,800-seat Sam
Boyd Stadium.

Libonati was selected over four other finalists in a five-month search to replace Pat
Christenson, who resigned last August to become president of Las Vegas Events.

Q Prime Agrees To Stricter Amphitheater Guidelines

Q Prime, the New York-based artist management company that is building an
18,000-capacity amphitheater at the Clark County Fairgrounds in Vancouver,
WA, will have to carry more liability insurance, prohibit mosh pits and undergo a
monthly review. These new conditions are a result of the pressure placed by the
Fairgrounds Neighborhood Association, who have argued that
the draft lease agreement didn't do enough to protect homeowners, the county or

"We didn't get all we wanted, but we
couldn't have expected to," Bridget
Schwarz, a member of the Fairgrounds
Neighborhood Association's executive
committee, told The Columbian. "By serving as community
watchdogs, we have made this facility far, far
better in terms of its operation."

Changes to the 25-year lease agreement with Q Prime was made the morning of
July 2 after five-and-a-half hours of testimony the previous night was presented to
the county commissioners. A vote to adopt other changes will be made on June 8, which will clear the way for Q Prime to begin
construction after the Clark County Fair ends on August 11.

Changes to the lease include:

* Liability insurance doubled to $10 million

* An amphitheater liaison committee will be formed by the county and Quincunx,
the Q Prime subsidiary that will operate the venue, and will
include neighbors, the Clark County Fair
Board, fire officials and police. During the first season the
committee will meet monthly to review operations and create a
neighborhood outreach manual

* Fines for noise violations (first offense) will be increased from $500, as listed in
the earlier draft; Q Prime and the county are still negotiating a new fine schedule.
Concerts exceeding an 11 PM curfew will be added to the list of violations that
would yield fines

* The noise-monitoring plan will be changed
to match the requirements of the
conditional-use permit so that pauses
between songs and ambient noise won't
skew noise measurements

* A ban on mosh pits and crowd surfing

Q Prime is building the amphitheater at its own expense and will then turn it over to
Clark County, which then will lease it back to them for $20
million for 25 years.