Local business owners want to turn Chippewa Lake Park into a concert venue

Posted Tuesday, October 15, 2013 8:55 AM | Contributed by Jeff

Two brothers who grew up in Gloria Glens want to bring back music to the long-abandoned Chippewa Lake Amusement Park. Flying Cages, a company formed by brothers Scott and Brian Jones, sent out a news release Monday saying it was seeking investors to build an 8,000-seat outdoor concert venue at the site of the park, whose stage once hosted pop music icons Creedence Clearwater Revival, Neil Diamond, Paul Revere & the Raiders, Alice Cooper and Ohio’s Michael Stanley.

Read more from The Medina County Gazette.

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Tuesday, October 15, 2013 9:09 AM

I hope that they succeed and show the big boys (Cedar Fair), what could be done at the Timberwolf venue at Kings Island.

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Tuesday, October 15, 2013 9:45 AM

Much like the Amphitheater at Carowinds, Why would CF go thru the trouble of putting on shows that aren't likely to make much money? There are plenty of other venues that have been upgraded in areas where most parks have large concert venues. It's just not much of a viable business anymore.

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Tuesday, October 15, 2013 10:06 AM

Funny they mention Alice Cooper. I'm seeing him tonight!

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Tuesday, October 15, 2013 10:10 AM

Agree with Tek.

The one thing that I think some parks with existing amphitheaters like Carowinds and Kings Island can do, however, is use these amphitheaters for their end of day shows similar to Cedar Point's ending celebration or the show at Silver Dollar City that starts right when the park otherwise closes.

Using Kings Dominion's area as an example, the corner with the theater and pavilions would be an ideal place to throw a party with food/beverages/entertainment starting shortly before or when the park closes. It would be a relatively inexpensive way to keep people in the park longer and use those areas of the park to their fullest.

Last edited by Uncle Coaster, Tuesday, October 15, 2013 10:11 AM
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Tuesday, October 15, 2013 10:40 AM

Why does the concert thing work at Hersheypark, but would not work at a Cedar Fair park? I'll tell you this; stay away from Hersheypark on days that their concert venue is having a big show if you don't like crowds.

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Tuesday, October 15, 2013 10:53 AM

Three out of the four concert venues in the Hershey complex (Giant Center, Star Pavilion, Hersheypark Stadium) are outside of the park itself and go year round. Only the amphitheater is inside the park and that just draws in-park entertainment and the popular weekly oldies concerts during park season.

Also, these venues are the go-to venues in the region. The Harrisburg area doesn't have much to compete with Hershey.

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Tuesday, October 15, 2013 10:55 AM

Hersheypark Stadium holds 30,000 people for concerts (15,000 for sporting events) so they can bring large, relevant touring acts in.

An 8,000 seat venue is a tough one, because you've got to be able to bring in an act that can pull that many people, but isn't large enough to fill something triple that size.

The House of Blues in Cleveland, for example, has a capacity of 1,200 people in the music hall. Generally, smaller bands with a decent following will play here (punk/indie bands that can pack the place but couldn't fill a larger theater) but they couldn't bring a crowd into an 8,000 seater.

The best example of this is Red Rocks Amphitheatre. No doubt one of the most beautiful venues in the country, but it only seats just over 9,000 people. They can still pack the place with bands like OAR, Umphery's McGee, etc.. but I highly doubt these guys are going to want to shell out the cash for something like that. Who knows, I could be wrong, but I think that market is a difficult one to tackle.

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Tuesday, October 15, 2013 11:42 AM

Hershey's venues, as have been said, are the premier venues in that area. Hershey isn't a major metro area.

KI's Timberwolf is outside of Cincy, and Carowinds' Palladium is outside of Charlotte. Charlotte alone has 2 other large Amphitheaters less than 30-45 minutes from the park that are either fairly new, or are in major rotation and kept up, unlike the Palladium. Plus Charlotte has the NC Music Factory, Bojangles Coliseum, TWC Arena, and plenty of smaller or midsized theaters in the area. The only thing that Carowinds puts on is their Christian weekend shows.

I figure KI has the same situation.

So it's not a Why can Hershey do this but CF Can't. CF Park's no longer have an up to date, relevant venue in the areas it serves (Is there one at KD Too?). Hershey does.

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Tuesday, October 15, 2013 12:09 PM

Hershey Park does a lot of things different. Their water park isn't a separate gate admission, they don't have a line jumping upcharge admission (i.e. fastpass), and they have a Christmas/Spring park event.

They make a fairly nice profit at the end of the year, and have a good collection of attractions that hold their own against the competition. All this despite the CF fanbase that constantly defends these offerings that won't work at other chains and "never make money". So why would a concert offering be any different?

Just because CF can't figure out how to make a buck off of a concert, a trained animal like Shamu, or on off season event doesn't mean other places like Hershey or Chippewa can't succeed in their offerings.

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Tuesday, October 15, 2013 12:14 PM

You can't make a buck off of a concert if promoters and acts don't want to play at your venue. That's not Cedar Fair's 'fault'.

Why would I, as an artist, choose to play an older, lacking any amenities outside of food/beverage sales, theater at Carowinds, when I can go 15 minutes up the road and play at the Time Warner Cable Amphitheater, that is new and state of the art? Or over to the Verizon Amphitheater with double the capacity, that has been kept up over the years?

It's not about CF, it's about competition. Hershey's venues have none, CF's venues do.

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Tuesday, October 15, 2013 12:30 PM

At one time CL and CF had venues but let them go into disrepair. The difference is that the brothers at CL are looking to correct the problem and have the business model that will work

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Tuesday, October 15, 2013 12:53 PM

SnoopyDoo said:

Hershey Park does a lot of things different. , they don't have a line jumping upcharge admission (i.e. fastpass),

Ummm...

http://www.hersheypark.com/rides/vip_experiences.php

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Tuesday, October 15, 2013 1:09 PM

I think it comes down to the difference in corporate structures. Hershey Entertainment is a non-core business for Hershey Foods, which essentially means they have the financial flexibility to spend money on concerts if they want to. If they are the only game in town in that part of PA, maybe they do make a good return on that expense. But for all we know, they might lose money on some of those concerts and that's a cost Hershey Entertainment is willing to bear.

Cedar Fair's unit holders are going to want to see a higher ROI, and generally that means their margins need to be around 20-30% to make an expenditure worthwhile. Can they get that by bringing in concerts in the Cincinnati and Charlotte markets? It would appear that the competition makes that difficult.

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Tuesday, October 15, 2013 1:51 PM

Something that continues to work well to this day in Ohio is Jamboree in the Hills, a multi day country music festival with new and long established artists on the bill. Thousands of people turn up for a long weekend of camping and music and it's smack in the middle of Eastern Nowhere Ohio. If the boys at Chippewa concentrate on events like that they may have something, they can certainly take advantage of the property surrounding and provide a camping experience to go with their concert venue.
Chippewa is also kind of in the middle of nowhere, near Medina. They would draw from Akron, Cleveland, Mansfield, and depending on the artist, maybe Columbus. And all of the potential patrons from those cities would be faced with a drive in and out. I think this sounds like a tough road to hoe, if for no other reason than poor location.
The outdoor arena business in Ohio is interesting, as our season for comfortable outdoor listening is relatively short. I think of our long suffering Polaris Amphitheater which when built north of Columbus seemed like a great idea at the time. A couple of things happened. Suburban sprawl came their way and residents in nearby new subdivisions complained about the noise and traffic. Summer concerts in general took a dive when artists cancelled planned tours due to lack of ticket sales and the expense of being on the road. Then Columbus got two nice new indoor arenas for large conferences, sports, and concerts and that's a little more sustainable. In the end Polaris tried things like haunts, carnivals, and whatnot to stay alive but eventually the death bell rang, and that big beautiful place was raised less than fifteen years later.
Two successful amphitheater venues remain, Blossom Music Center near Akron hosts concerts and the Cleveland orchestra for summer Pops (which would be in direct competition with Chippewa, btw) then there's Riverbend near Cincinnati at Coney Island. (another reason why Kings Island probably uses their smallish arena for Christian music weekends, high school band and choral days, and cheer leading competitions only)

So, good luck to these guys.

Last edited by RCMAC, Tuesday, October 15, 2013 2:37 PM
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Tuesday, October 15, 2013 2:48 PM

I give these guys a lot of credit for at least trying something that isn't based on a fixed percentage of return.
With all the season pass holders out there, patron burnout is inevitable unless something is done that is really different and provides a unique visit that isn't completely predictable each time out.

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Tuesday, October 15, 2013 2:59 PM

These guys are building an entertainment venue. What they're doing is completely different than what CF, HP, or any other park is doing.

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Tuesday, October 15, 2013 3:45 PM

Well, exactly. I wouldn't try to compare this effort to what's happening at theme parks. There's enough uncertainty in the music venue business these days to keep a discussion going about viability alone without trying to show the likes of Kings Island what to do. It's just not the same.

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Tuesday, October 15, 2013 4:04 PM

Right, I was responding more to SnoopyDoo.

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Tuesday, October 15, 2013 4:43 PM

And I was just yappin' away in agreement.

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