Alex Hodges Talks Nederlander Concerts Expansion

A year after Nederlander’s last contract ended at the Greek, now an open venue, his company is expanding while still booking plenty of dates at the amphitheatre. 

– Alex Hodges

“We managed the Greek for 40 years. We did a great job,” Hodges told Pollstar. “We’re still promoting there, but accelerating a lot of growth ideas that we either had on the drawing board or were in action for the last few years.”

That includes more shows at Nederlander-managed venues like

Nederlander’s relationship with the City of Los Angeles and

“Calendar management is different, and the city and SMG put together some effort to be fair and make people commit, instead of holding six dates when only one is going to play,” Hodges said. “Some of that one-on-one flexibility that we might have had is missing but that’s working out fine. “It’s a new game and SMG is very professional. We had some fun doing our Greek dates. We did fewer shows. There was less revenue stream; we did less but we did very well.”

Nederlander did well in other mid-size venues, as well, particularly with its West Coast rooms.

“Take Vina Robles,” Hodges said. “Our first year at this new venue was 2014 and we did a really good job with a solid lineup; 2015 came along and we increased our business 25 percent, maybe even more.

“In 2016, we did 30 shows, had wide diversity, and increased the sales about 40 percent. So it was really looked at by us and the owners as a major step forward and a breakthrough year.”

Vina Robles, at 3,018 capacity, sold out shows last season with Dolly Parton, Amy Schumer, Lee Brice, Jackson Browne, and Chicago. “We’re making it a must-play venue on the coast,” Hodges said. “In fact, I would say that it’s the 3,000-seater we always dreamed of to help the routing up and down the coast. It draws from Fresno, Bakersfield, and San Luis Obispo and from the Central Coast. As a single venue I think it’s changed the shape and importance of Central California more than any venue I’ve seen in a long time.

“Agents will take advantage of that, and I think we’re off to a great future there. In the wine country, it’s a destination but it’s also a great routing date with its size. It seems to be a really nice, sweet spot in the touring well, unless you’re at the arena level.”

Nederlander also saw more success at City National Civic in 2016. Hodges points out that the naming rights deal for former San Jose Civic symbolizes the successful reactivation of an older theatre that was brought back to life after years of disuse.

“There’s been some sizzle in that venue,” Hodges said. “We were able to make that deal to help the city and Team San Jose, which own the building. “It’s what we do. Agents are looking for an alternative spot indoors in the South Bay, and this has turned out to be the one.

“We are at 40 shows this year and we’ll probably add another 10 percent to 20 percent to that next year; it’s really turned around. If you go back to 2009 when we first committed to this market, 90 percent of the people who attended events hadn’t been there in years, if ever. Now, 60 percent of the people have been there before.

“The word of mouth, the venue, and the experience has turned around from kind of nonexistent to major. The business is great; it’s been a record year for us in San Jose at the City National Civic. I’d say that’s another 20 percent increase over last year. We’re pretty happy about 60,000 people coming to our shows and we’re growing.”

Nederlander is also doing more bookings at other venues, rather than the dozen or so buildings it normally would have booked in a year when the company was managing the Greek Theatre.

“It couldn’t come at a better time for us,” Hodges said. “A lot of these mid-size and smaller venues are now in our day-to-day activity, so we are working in about 45 different venues this year, instead of most years between the Greek,

Hodges noted that at the Pantages, which most people think of as a theatrical venue that’s not normally available for booking concerts, increased concert bookings last year including a date with Alice Cooper the night before Halloween.

“There’s a better alignment of artists wanting to play the Pantages and agents asking when it’s available before routing, rather than routing and waiting for the Pantages to be open,” Hodges said. “We made an effort for agents not to start their day thinking the Pantages was never available. We did 10 concert shows at the Pantages last year and in previous years it might have been one or two.”

Nederlander also extended its reach into Texas last year in partnership with Paragon to book the

But Hodges made clear the Greek is still an important part of Nederlander’s future.

“We look forward to doing shows,” he said. “I have to compliment Becky Colwell, the GM of the Greek, for moving from North Carolina and being a great host. We had a good time doing our shows there.

“But one of the things that became a byproduct of doing more shows is that we are doing more at the Ace Theatre, the Orpheum, the Dolby, the Forum and the Honda Center, too. Nobody’s letting grass grow under their feet.”