By promoting Kenny Chesney concert itself, Tampa Sports Authority nets $1 million

Country singer Kenny Chesney works the crowd during his Goin’ Coastal Tour stop at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa.

LUIS SANTANA | Times

Country singer Kenny Chesney works the crowd during his Goin’ Coastal Tour stop at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa.

TAMPA — Last week's Kenny Chesney concert at Raymond James Stadium proved to be the good stuff not just for his fans, but for taxpayers, too.

The Tampa Sports Authority netted a projected $1 million from the concert, which also featured the Zac Brown Band, by taking an experimental turn as promoter of the show.

That's not quite as much as Chesney was guaranteed, but it should help offset how much taxpayers have to underwrite the costs of running Raymond James Stadium this year.

"All in all, it was a good event for us," said Eric Hart, executive director for the Sports Authority. "We'll be looking to do more."

Raymond James, and the old Tampa Stadium before it, has played host to a few concerts. But in the past, private companies have served as promoters, reaching terms with the performers and shouldering the risk. Profits to the Sports Authority were modest, even for soldout shows.

This time, Hart took on the role of promoter, bearing the risk that the show could be a bust.

The calculus was this: If 32,000 people bought tickets, the show would turn a profit for the Sports Authority. If not, the authority would have to come out of pocket to cover part of the expenses, Chesney's $1.5 million guarantee and the payouts to the other three bands.

Chesney sold a little more than that number on his last stop at Raymond James, had new music out and hadn't toured in a while. And the Zac Brown Band offered its own following.

The show drew just more than 47,000 people.

"We felt that the risk was very minimal compared to the gain we could have," said Tony Muniz, among the members of the Sports Authority who has encouraged Hart to find new ways to bring in money.

The Sports Authority oversees Raymond James Stadium, home of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and three city-owned golf courses. But the Bucs collect almost all the money from ticket sales, concessions and parking for its football games under an agreement with the Sports Authority, which operates at an annual deficit.

That deficit falls to local taxpayers to fill and has surpassed $3 million in past years.

The team also takes the first $2 million from profits for other events at the stadium. After that, it splits any gravy with the Sports Authority 50-50.

Chesney fans all but ensured the threshold will be exceeded and then some this year.

Sports Authority officials are already scouting for other potential acts to book. But they say they have to find good fits, meaning bands assured to fill stadium seats for a reasonable price, which are few.

"We have interest in doing another one," said Sports Authority chairman Frank DeBose. "We're not going to go crazy trying to do another one."

Bill Varian can be reached at (813) 226-3387 or varian@sptimes.com.

By promoting Kenny Chesney concert itself, Tampa Sports Authority nets $1 million 03/28/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, March 29, 2011 12:50am]

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