By Jeremy Hallock
By James Khubiar
By Observer Staff
By Kelly Dearmore
By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
The difference between the two studies' projections are staggering: According to Houston's study, which solely used attendance figures from area venues Verizon Theatre and Gexa Energy Pavilion over the course of 2008 and 2009, the figures found in the original city-commissioned research were exaggerated by as much 400 percent.
The Innovation Group and The Las Colinas Group have responded to Houston's assertion, saying that there was a misinterpretation of the data taken from Pollstar, and that their figures have since been revised. They further claim that their projections do not rely heavily on that data.
"Any single venue you're looking at would be, in our opinion, an inappropriate comparison," Soll says, defending his initial study. "You would have to actually look at a hybrid. You have to take certain venues and add their capacity together, or else it would make no sense to you at all."
Still, the numbers in Soll's feasibility study do seem a tad overzealous. To even approach those numbers, the proposed venue would have to host 220 events per year, and average 4,000 attendees at each of these events.
AEG isn't alone in doubting these numbers, either. Kris Youmans, one of the region's top independent booking agents, says he isn't buying them: "Adding a fourth multi-thousand-seat venue is ambitious for this area," he says. "You probably couldn't even get those numbers in Los Angeles, New York or Chicago."
However, everyone in Barnett's camp, including Michael Soll, claims that, because of this revolutionary new business model, the numbers are highly attainable. By booking a wide variety of events, Barnett and Live Nation say their venue will attract locals and tourists alike. And, with the newly completed Irving Convention Center sitting right next door, Barnett says the entertainment complex could help boost the number of conventions that Irving attracts.
"What we'd like best is one-third local, one-third convention and one-third tourism," he says of the crowds he wants to attract to the complex.
But as Barnett and The Las Colinas Group fight to get their project off the ground, the question looms: Does Dallas really need another music venue of this size? Let's face it: Adding a new venue to the region will not increase the amount of talent in the area. Nor will it guarantee more acts touring through the region.
In defense of the venue, Barnett suggests that the entertainment complex will be such a different beast from what Dallas has ever seen that it will indeed hit its lofty, expected figures. And, he maintains, it will be set up to complement the rest of the region's offerings—the lone exception, he admits, being the venue's would-be direct competitor, Grand Prairie's Verizon Theatre.
Incumbent candidate Gears, on the other hand, isn't so modest when speaking about the music hall in Irving's neighboring city. In fact, he sees the Irving Entertainment Center as a potential death-knell for the Verizon Theatre. That's kind of his whole angle, actually.
"We're not going to slow down ticket sales in Grand Prairie," he says, rather emphatically. "We're not going to diminish their profits. We're not going to hurt them. They're going to be dead."
Depending on the outcome of Saturday's election, of course.