Oshkosh Seeks Successor

At the end of the year, Oshkosh, Wis., will jettison PMI, the Green Bay-based promoter that operates the city’s Leach Amphitheatre, but which company will take its place is still a mystery.

Leach Amphitheatre has been in the red for three seasons and Oshkosh has pointed fingers at PMI. For one thing, city officials pondered why PMI was unable to book Roger Waters into Oshkosh, population 63,000. Clearly, expectations may be a problem.

PMI runs the Resch Center and the Meyer Theatre in Green Bay, where it has brought in acts like Josh Groban and "Dancing With The Stars."

"We pay the city $30,000 a year for the rights to run the amphitheatre," PMI president Ken Wachter told Pollstar. "We keep the promoter profit plus food and beverage, which we also run. So far, we’ve yet to make money."

Waterfest, which is run by a local nonprofit group, does about 16 events a year on Thursdays between Memorial Day and Labor Day, with PMI working around that obligation.

Mayor Frank Tower says the city council is now in consensus that the city will not hire another for-profit management company for the venue, according to the city’s Northwestern newspaper.

"From the majority, we would want to proceed either with a not-for-profit or some combination of not-for-profit and our parks department, or have our parks department do it," Tower told the paper.

"Either we have to find somebody to pay us what PMI did – $30,000 a year – or we have to get that from some other means," parks director Tom Stephany added.

However, Waterfest Concert Series director Mike Dempsey said Waterfest Inc. was not in a position to take over the operation.

"The next manager will do well to cultivate a variety of potential users," Dempsey told the Northwestern. "Not every show works financially [so] many of the events to be held in the facility must possess value other than immediate financial gain."

That leaves the Grand Opera House Foundation as a possible suitor. Executive director Joe Ferlo told the paper the Grand organization has the ticketing system and booking experience to run Leach but stopped short of saying the company wanted to.

"A lot depends on what it is the Council is going to hope for from whoever manages the Leach, what its definition of success will be," Ferlo told the paper.