Coca Cola Dome Dumps Heafield

Johannesburg’s Coca-Cola Dome is refusing to work with promoter Duncan Heafield again because "unprofessional promoters" are damaging the live music business both at home and abroad.

"The entertainment industry needs to wean out these bad promoters as their unprofessional conduct negatively affects the entire industry," says Coca-Cola Dome managing director Carol Weaving in a press release that’s already attracting national TV and international press coverage.

"When artists’ tours are badly organised, not only will the patrons think twice about attending future shows, the agents will also think twice about bringing world class artists to South Africa," she’s quoted as saying.

"The postponement of Josh Groban’s tour, due to the failure of the tour promoter, Duncan Heafield of Kusasa, is reflecting badly on the entire industry.

"Groban told a local radio station that ‘South Africa has really touched me deeply and we were very much looking forward to this tour. I promise that when we do come back, it will be better than you could ever believe.’

"Testimonials like these will not be forthcoming if promoters keep on mismanaging opportunities, particularly with the world’s biggest event – the 2010 Soccer World Cup – a mere 820 days away.

"South Africa has a wealth of professional promoters and it is now the time to stand together to ensure that local and international artists make use of these professionals.

"Now is the time to regulate South African promoters. We need to join forces to protect a market that not only administers large sums of money, but also has a huge influence on the image of the country," the press statement continues.

Weaver told Pollstar the 20,000-capacity venue, the country’s largest indoor arena and a regular stopping-off point when international acts visit South Africa, has had "many dramas" with Heafield over the years.

"The tragedy is that we all go into this wanting it to work, but heaven knows there does come a time when you have to put your foot down and say enough is enough," she said. "I hope the other venues who’ve had problems will follow suit because this isn’t doing the market any good. We have the World Cup coming, a fantastic platform for us, and we don’t want people looking at us and thinking we’re a bunch of muppets down here.

"Apart from the problems with the money, which isn’t the main thing because it’s not enough to kill us, there are also the problems with suppliers and never really knowing what’s happening about anything.

"Mainly it’s the problems it causes the ticket buyers when they don’t get the show they expected because it’s so badly organised. They naturally blame the venue but we’re not taking the blame anymore."

Apart from losing the Groban tour, which looks likely to happen later in the year with Attie van Wyk’s Big Concerts as promoter because he failed to meet the logistical and financial arrangements, Heafield is also facing legal action from various suppliers claiming that he owes them million of rands.

He’s told Pollstar and the national newspapers including Sunday Tribune that many of the accusations against him are lies and that he’s the victim of a smear campaign by rival South African promoters.

At press time it wasn’t possible to get Heafield’s comments on the Coca-Cola Dome ban.