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Huber nears deal with company to manage $18M music center

Group operates Cincinnati arts centers.

The city of Huber Heights is nearing a contract with Music Event Management Inc. to manage the city’s $18 million music center.

According to the proposal, the city would pay MEMI $225,000 annually over the initial five-year term to be the exclusive manager of the music center, which includes marketing, booking and promoting entertainment.

The money to pay for the contract would come from the general fund as an operational expense, Huber Heights city manager Rob Schommer said. The city also would receive the first $150,000 of the annual net profit, with any additional net profit divided between the city (60 percent) and MEMI (40 percent).

City Council discussed the agreement at the Administration Committee meeting May 27. The topic is on the agenda again for Tuesday’s committee meeting, and council is expected to vote on the contract June 9.

If council approves the contract, it would take effect June 15.

“It’s critical we get them on board and have access to their expertise on a daily basis,” Schommer said. “It’s a new facility, but bringing in an existing, very successful operation is the beauty of this.”

MEMI — a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra — manages Riverbend Music Center, the PNC Pavilion and the Taft Theatre. Huber Heights is modeling its music center after the PNC Pavilion.

In 2013, Huber Heights had two consulting agreements with MEMI, totaling $25,000.

Michael Smith, executive vice president and CEO of MEMI, declined to comment on the specific details of the proposed agreement because it has not been finalized. Smith said the two previous agreements were “small gestures” to help Huber Heights stay on the right path during the planning phase of the project.

Smith said the city has been considerate of meeting the modern consumer needs, including the proximity of restrooms and concessions to seating, expansive parking lots, landscaping and convenient interstate access.

“As it turns out, they’ve done a beautiful job in designing the building,” Smith said. “It’s always fun to see something jump from paper to actually on the site.”

Councilman Mark Campbell, chair of the Administration Committee, said he believes the music center will need to host 10 full-fledged concerts to offset the city’s annual management fee to MEMI.

“They’re in our region, they have the contacts and they are proven,” Campbell said. “Being able to bring someone in of their caliber is a blessing. This will truly be a regional game-changer.”

Net profit would include concessions, ticket sales and venue sponsorships, but not naming rights to the music center, Schommer said. The entire revenue generated by the naming rights would directly go to the city, according to the proposed contract.

The value of the naming rights is “really hard to say,” Schommer said. “It is certainly considerable because they’re basically branding and marketing their company around all of the events and the facility itself.”

Construction of the 4,500-seat covered music center on Executive Boulevard is expected to be completed by late summer.

Project manager Ken Conaway said construction crews are prepping the parking lots for asphalt, grading dirt in front of the music center and concession areas, and completing the dressing rooms, restrooms and roof.

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