Clark County’s Discount

Clark County, which owns the Q Prime-run shed in Ridgefield, Wash., has recognized times are tough and has given the operator a big lease break – reducing its annual $700,000 payment to $400,000.

Quincux, a venue subsidiary of Peter Mensch’s and Cliff Burnstein’s management company – home to clients Metallica, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Shania Twain Muse and others – built the Amphitheatre at Clark County in 2002 at a cost of $40 million. Quincux donated the shed to Clark County, then leased it for $20 million over 25 years.

With Q Prime, promoter Live Nation and the Portland, Ore., metro market, the shed had plenty going for it.

But times have changed. The Amphitheatre at Clark County touts a capacity of 17,884 with 8,000 seats. Nowadays, large amphitheatres are rarely filling those GA lawn seats.

Quincux was also restricted to no more than four events annually with more than 15,300 people and no more than 20 events above 9,000. The shed is also positioned across the Interstate 5 Bridge – a historic, 100-year-old two-lane structure that completed the Pacific Highway, but bottlenecks traffic.

Its best-attended event, a September 2003 Jimmy Buffett concert, was never repeated after locals howled to the venue after getting stuck on the highway and in the shed’s parking lots when the show started, according to the Oregonian.

The amphitheatre has had its successes, including a recent Police show that sold its max amount of allotted tickets (14,253), but is said to still carry the stigma from that opening night. Quincux reportedly has been losing $1 million annually on the shed.

Because there has been no cost to taxpayers, reducing the rent would be a no brainer, except Clark County did what local governments tend to do: borrowed against the income. The county used the rent to build another venue on the Clark County Fairgrounds – the Clark County Event Center, according to Vancouver’s Columbian.

The county considered shuttering the venue or switching to another operator but, at a July 29 meeting, voted unanimously to drop the rent by 57 percent.

"I’m proud of our partners [the county] for being strong enough to have the vision to see the difficulty of the economic times we’re living in," venue GM Dan Braun told Pollstar. "I’m thrilled that they’re strong enough to stand with us as we tried to move forward as we try to address the future of our business."

Quincox is reportedly considering building folding wall panels at the back of the seating area, at a cost of $2 million, that would convert the roofed area into a year-round venue.

Meanwhile, though, "It’s a good afternoon here," Braun said.