Evans: First HullabaLOU An "Expensive Education"

by Rick Howlett on August 5, 2010

The CEO of Churchill Downs, Incorporated says the company will try to make the HullabaLOU festival profitable, but the event’s first year turned out to be an “expensive education.”

Churchill Downs disclosed this week that the July festival lost more than $5 million.

CEO Robert Evans told investors in a conference call Thursday that was about twice what officials had expected to lose getting the event off the ground.

“We decided to spend the money to get the right artists, get the right venue, and the right level of customer service, and take the risk that we could sell enough tickets, parking, sponsorship, food and beverage and branded merchandise to keep the planned loss at $2-$3 million.

Officials had hoped attendance would exceed 90,000 for the three-day event.

Evans says the actual attendance of about 78,000 didn’t meet expectations because of a general decline in the concert business this year and the hot weather that kept away many day-of-show ticket buyers.

He says the festival will return next year as the company tried to build its brand, but it’s long-term viabililty is uncertain.

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{ 3 comments }

George P August 5, 2010 at 8:56 pm

I suggest they get bands young people want to see, since they are more likely to want to spend time at a hot, sweaty outdoor event.

Too many times event organizers get bands they like, forgetting that they aren’t the target audience.

Ryan D August 5, 2010 at 9:02 pm

I agree with George. I’m 20 years old and have no desire whatsoever to see Dave Matthews Band, Bon Jovi, and Dierks Bentley. Look at Bonnaroo, Pitchfork Music Festival, and a good chunk of the bands in attendance at Lollapalooza – all of them are geared towards a younger audience and, in general, are less pricey. No one over 30 wants to stand in the sun all day and no one under 30 wants to see those bands.

Dawn S. August 6, 2010 at 2:00 pm

If it hadn’t been for Bon Jovi and other acts like Train, this festival probably wouldn’t have even drawn the crowd that it did! Bon Jovi was the highest grossing tour for 2010, in a year when the rest of the economy is in the toilet. Bon Jovi fans will come from all over just to see that band!

Could most of the 20 year old crowd have afforded the high priced tickets for this festival? I’m over 30 and don’t mind one bit hanging out in the sun for people I really want to hear.

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