Sunday, January 5, 2003

The Nederlanders make a comeback

Shaping culture in 2003

In the '80s, no single entity had a greater impact in who Greater Cincinnati saw in concert than the Nederlander Organization. Until they opened shop, no national promoter had maintained a full-time Cincinnati office for almost five years.

In 1999, when the family-owned company sold out to SFX (later sold to Clear Channel in 2000) it seemed to be the end of the group's influence here.

Then, in 2001, the Nederlanders bought the struggling arena along the riverfront and renamed it U.S. Bank Arena.

All of this would be just so much "inside baseball," except for one thing. Unlike Clear Channel, which can afford to book around Cincinnati (Indianapolis, Dayton, Columbus, Louisville, Lexington) and save all its big concerts for Riverbend, the Nederlanders have to keep U.S. Bank Arena rolling every day.

The biggest example of their aggressive stance was November's Bruce Springsteen concert. To get the show, they had to convince Cincinnati fire and police officials that general admission seating - banned here for almost 23 years after the deaths at a 1979 Who concert - could not only work in Cincinnati, it could work in the same building. They pulled it off, winning permission and producing a smooth-running festival-seating show.

The Nederlanders also gambled on 2002's "Down From the Mountain Tour" and not only came close to a sell-out, they produced one of the year's best concerts.

This year, the Nederlanders keep up the pace with a Feb. 21-22 weekend stand that brings the winter's biggest tour to town - the Phish reunion. Both shows sold out in minutes.

That weekend will turn Cincinnati into the center of the concert universe. And, says the Nederlander staff, that's only the beginning.

25 forces that will shape culture in 2003
1. The big economic squeeze
2. Clear Channel's dominance
3. Suburbanites: Will they roam?
4. The plea for racial healing
5. The media's message
6. A whole new ball game
7. Edgy art center opening
8. Tall Stacks rolls back
9. Will tourists go home happy?
10. How Fine Arts Fund carries clout
11. You can't fight City Hall
12. Laura Long: Downtown force
13. The CSO's growing empire
14. Rosenthals' big impact
15. Northern Kentucky development
16. Museum Center's main man
17. Lobbyist Weiland
18. UC at crossroads
19. The Nederlanders make a comeback
20. MidPoint: Rebuild the city on rock 'n' roll
21. The Schuster Center alternative
22. Another public art project goes to bat
23. The brain drain
24. Local film community gains focus
25. Dancing around visa problems
The wild card of 2003: War
2003 dates to keep in mind

DEMALINE: The arts
KENDRICK: Alive & Well
Get to it!