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Kingston Concerned About the LVEC
Currently known as the "KROCK Centre"
Formerly the "Kingston Regional Sports and Entertainment Centre" or KRSEC
Formerly the "Large Venue Entertainment Centre" or LVEC
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Whig Standard -- URKingston -- April 4 2008

K-ROCK CENTRE WOES CONTINUE

Posted By palment

April 4, 2008

http://thewhig.com/Community/NewsDisplay.aspx?c=4655

As a concert promoter, I was anxious to learn the K-Rock Centre would soon be open. A new, mid-sized venue in eastern Ontario in a city with a good-sized population, starved for quality entertainment.

I first emailed Arcturus SMG Canada, the company who manages the facility, on Feb. 24th to have them send me a promoter’s package so I would have pricing, seating arrangements, etc. When I did not receive a reply, I was happy to see that they would be holding an open house. I figured this would be the perfect opportunity to have all my questions answered and get a tour of the new venue. So, I made the trip to Kingston to visit the facility. When I arrived, I learned that there was no management personnel present to assist me with information. It appeared that the open house was merely an opportunity for members of the community to have a look inside and a “free skate”. I did speak with an employee named Fannie, who gave me a tour of the facility. I told her I had a concert promotion company and left her my business card to forward to management to contact me.

I still did not receive a call or email. I traveled to Kingston again to look at some other venues on March 27th with a friend who also does concert promotion. As we passed the K-Rock Centre we noticed there was an old-timer’s hockey game wrapping up and we decided to knock on one of the glass doors to see if we could speak with management to get some information. We met with one of the managers, Anne Lindsey, and she introduced us to Neil Shorthouse, Director of Client Services, who handles bookings of events. They gave us a tour of the venue. We asked them the reason for the recent concert cancellations and we were told the promoter, Crown Concerts, experienced poor ticket sales for the Kingston shows and was not able to cover expenses, consequently forcing the company out of business. Lindsey further offered that it appears that the people of Kingston tend to be last minute concert ticket buyers. Not exactly the thing you want to hear as a promoter, but we appreciated their candor. I explained to them that I had both emailed and previously visited the K-Rock Centre in an attempt to get information about the venue. Lindsay told me that she had received the business card I had previously left but nothing had been done. They told me that they still did not have a promoter’s package ready, but they would email me some information. I told them the venue was perfect for what I want to do and that I would like to bring some entertainment to Kingston. I have still not received the information.

I sent another request for info, this time directly to Neil Shorthouse’s email address on April 1st. I am still awaiting a reply.

It would appear they really don’t want to rent their facility, yet I’ve read in an online article “Shorthouse said he's heading to Toronto today to meet with events promoters to attract new shows to Kingston."

I explained to them that during the month of March I had held back-to-back concerts in Brockville and Cornwall for Faber Drive, who is nominated for a Juno Award for best new group. The concert in Brockville was held at the Brockville Memorial Civic Centre, and the Cornwall concert was held at General Vanier Auditorium. Both concerts were successful and I am anxious to do business in Kingston.

The fact that they are not answering requests should be very disturbing for the taxpayers of Kingston, considering every paid event at the K-Rock Centre is an important part of the arena's financing plan. Continuous rental of the facility for shows and sporting events means councilors won't have to dip into city reserves to pay the mortgage on the $46.5-million centre, or possibly even raise taxes. The City of Kingston better make some changes, and quickly, if this facility is going to be self-sustaining.

Equally troubling is that I had a similar experience with the Grand Theatre who also would not respond to emails/phone calls. When I went for a tour of that facility I was unable to see it due to heavy construction (completely understandable) but left a another voice message for the manager, Brian McCurdy, who did call me right back and explained that the venue would not be able to accommodate my needs since renovations would not actually be complete till September 2008. I know for a fact that the venue is scheduled to open in May and that there are shows scheduled prior to September, so I am curious as to how they are going to pull that off.

And then there’s L.C.V.I., whose principal declined to even accept my application to rent the cafeteria. Strange, considering the Limestone District School Board meets with the provincial government annually to explain how they are offering their schools for community use to outside organizations. Oh, I almost forgot to mention Queens Events Services at Queens University who deterred me from renting Grant Hall, stating the balcony is not structurally safe. Lots of great venues in Kingston, only none of them want the business.

Edward Lauzon
Palm Entertainment