CCE To Drop 'Facility' Fees At Sheds

In a surprising move, Clear Channel Entertainment, by far the largest U.S. amphitheater owner/operator, will eliminate many of its so-called "facility" fees at sheds next year.

In a surprising move, Clear Channel Entertainment, by far the largest U.S. amphitheater owner/operator, will eliminate many of its so-called "facility" fees at sheds next year.

Michael Rapino, global president of CCE's music division, says the move is a reaction to consumer demands following a year in which attendance at amphitheater concerts took a significant hit.

"This is a true testament to our desire to bring ticket prices down," Rapino tells Billboard.biz. "We are going to swallow millions of dollars in lost revenue."

Facility fees have become viewed with increasing distaste by consumers and many in the concert industry as unnecessarily boosting already high ticket prices at sheds and arenas. Venues initially created facility fees to pay for upkeep and other vaguely defined services. In recent years, the fees have amounted to little more than an ancillary revenue stream, observers say.

Rapino says CCE will reduce or completely eliminate facility fees for all lawn seats at CCE sheds. Such fees are typically $2-$4 per ticket.

CCE is also looking at eliminating box-office fees -- generally $3-$5 per ticket -- for fans who pick up tickets at the venue day-of-show.

"Basically, we tried to listen to the consumer, who has told us tickets are too expensive, and the 'plus, plus, plus' strategy is aggravating," Rapino. "So we're eliminating two plusses there."

Those in the concert industry, most of whom were unaware of the strategical shift, are viewing the CCE move with surprise and interest.

"If this is the case, I applaud them," says Louis Messina, president of the Messina Group. Though once in the shed business, Messina is now one of many outspoken opponents of add-on fees.

"They represent 70% of the industry, and their actions affect me, even if I'm promoting a show elsewhere," adds Messina. "I think this is a very positive step."
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