Madison Square Garden Entertainment (MSGE) has inked a multi-year co-booking arrangement with the Citi Performing Arts Center in Boston, Billboard.biz has learned.
The deal will bring additional broad-based performances to Citi Center's 3,600 seat Wang Theatre, with MSGE's booking efforts to begin immediately. Veteran talent buyer Bob Shea, MSGE's senior VP, regional bookings and special projects, will run point on all of the MSGE bookings for the Wang, working with Joe Spaulding, president/CEO of the Citi Performing Arts Center, who will remain at the theater.
"We will look for Joe's group to continue to take the lead on all of the arts performances, [and] we will work together very closely on booking the theater," MSGE president Jay Marciano tells Billboard.biz,describing the deal as a "true partnership."
"There is a revenue share of ticket sales, sponsorships, etc., and there's a sharing of expenses, as well," he continues. "The current Wang management team will stay in place to operate the theater, and MSG will work closely with them to leverage our area of expertise, which is particularly in the live entertainment, family production and concert bookings business."
As part of the agreement, MSGE will make a one-time $2 million sponsorship contribution to Citi Center, which will be used to support projects and initiatives that have direct community impact and benefit. The deal will both leverage MSGE's relationships and expand the offerings at the Wang Theater. MSGE presentations in New York include Cirque du Soleil's Wintuk, the Radio City Christmas Spectacular, and literary engagements such as the Radio City Music Hall Speaker Series. The Christmas Spectacular successfully played the Wang in 2004 and 2006, "two very profitable runs" that Marciano says were the genesis of the expanded relationship.
"We had first-hand experience of how powerful the market is, how wonderful the theater is, how much Bostonians enjoy going to the theater, and that was the springboard to conversations which led to the partnering agreement," Marciano says.
The deal is "exclusive from the standpoint of our relationship," Marciano says, "however we will continue with our strategy to encourage promoters and producers to use all of our venues with an open-door booking policy."
MSGE is the live entertainment production arm of Madison Square Garden, the top-grossing arena in the world for several years running, according to Billboard Boxscore. Owned by Cablevision, MSG has growing media distribution platforms like its cable music network Fuse and the MSG sports and entertainment channel.
Marciano says the plan is to book MSG venues in tandem, including the Beacon Theater in New York (acquired last year), Radio City Music Hall, the WaMu Theatre, the Chicago Theater (acquired this year) and now the Wang Theater.
"If you have these wonderful, venerable theaters such as the Chicago Theatre and the Wang, and you have the opportunity to string them together as part of a booking circuit, it makes the entire venture more profitable," Marciano says.
For more details on the deal and MSGE's strategy, read this week's Billboard.