Q’s With Adam Friedman, President, Banc Of California Stadium Entertainment: The Booking Approach Is Unique To Los Angeles

Adam Friedman
Imad Bolotok
– Adam Friedman
Adam Friedman was recently appointed president of Banc Of California Stadium Entertainment, a division of LAFC Sports, to develop, operate and manage entertainment, major sporting and special events at the new $350 million, 23,000-capacity stadium erected in central Los Angeles for Major League Soccer’s Los Angeles Football Club (LAFC). The veteran promoter, who was also named EVP of LAFC Sports, has worked for more than 25 years helping to build three major brands as CEO of Nederlander Concerts, EVP/Division Head of House of Blues Concerts, and SVP of Universal Concerts. 
Pollstar: Congrats on the new job! Can you talk about what your new position will entail?
Adam Friedman: The stadium and team decided in light of the amount of anticipated volume in the event space to create a new division called Banc of California Stadium Entertainment, which will oversee three main event segments: concerts and music festivals; sporting exhibition; and corporate and private events.
My role is to oversee the folks who run all three segments and build a model that’s robust and to fill the facility with events as many days as possible during the year. They decided to create a division that focuses on the entertainment that goes into the facility other than the team’s 20 home games and playoff games. We’re building a team to augment the existing team. I’m going to flesh that out a bit and bring on marketers, buyers, bookers, finance people, etc. and expand on what’s already there.
What attracted you most about this new opportunity?
What really turned me on to this and had me putting on a baseball cap again and being part of a team, was the fact that you have ground floor entry to what will be two outstanding, world-renowned brands: the Los Angeles Football Club and the Banc of California Stadium.
The team is already off to a magnificent start, not only in terms of winning but how it’s penetrated L.A., the region and now the country. The amount of media and buzz around it, there’s no question this is going to be one of these brands. At the same time, I have never seen a facility like this – especially a stadium. Not to put down other stadiums, but this is really unique. A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
What makes it unique?
To spend $350 million on an outdoor venue is unbelievable. The amenities are completely unique. The premium spaces are unique. The amount of detail they spent on developing a project that would not only work for sports but live music events in terms of productions and sights and sounds, it’s really one of a kind.
Can you talk about how you’re approaching the booking process versus your previous positions?
First of all, it’s in Los Angeles, a hub for artists, agencies, managers and their representatives. Having access to these folks on a daily basis makes it different in terms of our ability to book. You have some great arenas that are a little smaller; you have some stadiums that are obviously larger. The sellable capacity of 23,000 makes this unique. Also, it’s an open venue and we don’t have any one exclusive promoter and we’ll partner with any talent and promoters who are interested.
Wango Tango is June 2 and that’s with Goldenvoice. We have other opportunities that we’re talking about with Live Nation. We’re talking to other third-party promoters in some of the segment spaces, including Bollywood, Korean, Latin and Russian programming. The demographic is so broad in Los Angeles – the booking approach is unique to L.A.
How about festivals?
We have access to the parkland around the facility, which makes it a singular site for urban festivals. We’re going to have a lot of focus, not only on the main, headline top-touring talent, but also working with festival producers in giving them a multi-asset offering. We can offer up the stadium but also the parking lots and some of the park land to create a multi-stage event. Some of those already pre-existed, like FYF and Air + Style, but there’s a lot more to be had. We also have the ability under our agreement with USC to go into the Coliseum.
How does that impact your booking strategy?
I’ve had the benefit of leveraging multiple buildings to route and, in turn, provide multi-city offers, but the idea of giving a multi-asset offer within the same city, within the same venue, that’s unique to me. I’ve never had an asset that’s had so much flexibility and so many assets to offer a producer or a promoter.
In terms of production for concerts, will this be more of a stadium production or an arena production?
It’s actually a little of both. Gensler, [who’s designed] arenas and stadiums around the world, designed the building. One of the key directives from the ownership group was to make this facility non-stadium-like in terms of the ability to produce a show and to load in and load out, which is completely different from most stadiums: On the north end of the facility, where the stage will be, there are 3,000-odd seats that are demountable and placed elsewhere on site to reveal a stage platform built-in under the seating area.
There are two things about this that are really, really smart. From a view point of load-in, load-out perspective, the stage platform abuts stage right and the loading dock so instead of having to lay down tracks and bring trucks out onto the pitch, which they do at most stadiums, trucks can just load right onto the stage platform. It’s brilliant, quite frankly, and it brings down cost and is efficient.
The other thing from a fan experience is that having the stage platform under that seating area sets the stage back so that the sightlines are better and thousands of seats are now available that would otherwise be killed. So you have a greater sellable capacity; a better fan experience.
The attention to detail from back of house and front of house is completely unique. This is like going into one of the top arenas – you just happen to be outdoors. We’re very excited about the opportunity.