A theatre similar in format to -- and only a few hundred seats smaller than -- Radio City Music Hall has been snapped up by SFX Corporation in its quest for more venues in which to put theatrical touring shows.
The SNET Oakdale Theatre of Wallingford, CT was purchased for $12 million by SFX, which already owns PACE Theatrical (a tour production company) and several theatres across the country. The company also owns the 20,000-seat Meadows Music Theatre amphitheatre in Hartford, CT. ("SNET" is Southern New England Telephone.)
According to Yahoo News online, the Oakdale purchase is part of a $225 million spending spree by SFX to acquire five entertainment companies: sports-related FAME (Falk Associates Management Enterprises), Boston area concert promoter Don Law (Blackstone Entertainment), L.A. concert promoter Avalon Attractions, Event Merchandising Inc., and SNET Oakdale ($12 million).
"I don't know how the PACE aspect will work out," marketing manager Jeff Provost told Playbill On-Line (May 5). "That stuff is going on behind closed doors. But for us it's just business as usual." Recent touring shows at Oakdale have included Riverdance (their biggest seller ever, at 60,000 people), Copperfield's Dreams and Nightmares, Rugrats and Lord of the Dance, which began its tour there.
Reached May 7, Timothy Klahs, Director of Investor Relations for SFX, told Playbill On-Line the Oakdale purchase, "Dovetails nicely with our music and theatre interests. The Oakdale is a state-of-the-art facility, which can have premium seating and platinum memberships." Klahs also confirmed that the venue would be linked to PACE touring shows. "We're always looking at deals and properties available to us... We have a healthy appetite," continued Klahs. "We're not in the business of producing expensive Broadway shows, but we can participate if that gives us the right to the touring show. We're much more of a promoter and tour sponsor and organizer. Ultimately, we want to become a fully integrated, live entertainment company."
-- By David Lefkowitz