We knew something was underfoot every time we made our way through the I-36 corridor and noticed more and more progress being made on what we've now discovered will be a pedestrian foot bridge going over the highway where the Broomfield Event Center sits, in between the 104th and Wadsworth exits. Now we know what.
This morning, flanked by a standing-room-only audience of media flacks at his company's headquarters on 7th and Sante Fe, AEG Live honcho Chuck Morris unveiled plans for Odeum Colorado, the new name for the Broomfield Event Center, which AEG Live, together with Kroenke Sports as Peak Entertainment, took over this past September after reaching an agreement with the City of Broomfield, which owns the previously troubled arena, this past summer.
Peak Entertainment won the bid to take over operations, over VenuWorks, who, partnered with Live Nation, was also reportedly considered a front runner. Upon being awarded the contract, Peak succeeds Broomfield Sports and Entertainment at taking a crack at running the facility, which reportedly cost $45 million to build in 2006. At the beginning of the year, Tim Wiens of Broomfield Sports and Entertainment petitioned and was granted a request to the Broomfield City Council to be let out of his contract.
The announcement is particularly significant for AEG Live, because, up until now, the company didn't have any "real estate," as concert pundits put it, to speak of in this market, at least in terms of mid-sized venues. Although the promoter has done just fine booking and promoting shows at neutral venues such as Red Rocks, the Ritchie Center, Magness Arena and all the city owned venues, AEG hasn't had a room of it's own until now. Whereas its primary competitor, Live Nation, Morris's former employer, owns the Fillmore Auditorium, a room Morris helped resurrect.
Upon taking over operations, Morris and company immediately began address the facility's shortcomings, fundamental things such as figuring out how to gain access to the venue from the road -- if you've ever been there, you know it's not the easiest place to get to, despite the fact that you can see it plain as day from the highway. "People got lost," Morris admits. "They saw it, and then they got lost going there."
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To that end, Morris and his team have been working with the city, which is in the process of erecting the pedestrian bridge mentioned above, to improve access and to add parking and additional signage. The sound, perhaps the most important part of a music venue, is also being revamped -- which is probably a good thing. After attending some shows at the venue, Michael Roberts commented in an earlier blog item that "it's essentially a concrete barn, with the acoustics that description implies."
"I'll be very honest with you," said Morris. "The building has some deficiencies, but we knew deep down we could fix them if we took it over. And we've been working on that, actually, in our heads, as we've been doing our first shows there."
After sorting through at least sixty potential names, Morris and company settled on Odeum, a Latin term that means "concert hall," taken from the Greek word ōideion, which translates to "school of music." The "Colorado" portion of the name is key, as this isn't the first venue to assume that handle; there's at least one Odeum Event Center in Illinois and probably more across the country.
Regardless, the new name is fitting, as the primary emphasis of the venue -- previously home to minor-leaguers the Rocky Mountain Rage hockey team and the Colorado 14ers basketball squad -- will now be music, with occasional one-off sporting and family-oriented events. There has been some buzz that the arena could potentially host some Colorado Mammoth lacrosse games and that Morris has reportedly had talks with the Denver Roller Dolls.
"It's like Tim Romani told me," Morris noted, referring to his colleague who's charged with overseeing the arena's current remodeling efforts and who served a similar role in the construction of Invesco Field and the Pepsi Center, "it's got great bones but no ambience, and we're pretty good at soul."
Indeed. Anyone who ever stepped foot into Mammoth Gardens, a room that Morris miraculously transformed into the Fillmore Auditorium during his time heading Live Nation, can attest to that: The place had clearly seen much better days. "Shithole," we believe, is how most people referred to it.
"It was built in 1911. The dressing rooms were underwater when I first looked at the place," Morris recalled. "Everyone thought it was a joke that I was going to remodel it. My mentor -- I won't mention him by name, but he's the godfather of rock promoting -- was quoted in the papers as saying that when myself and the Bill Graham company bought it and started remodeling it, that 'we couldn't change a turd into gold.' But we did that, and the rest is history. We're real good at that."
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This coming spring, after renovations are complete, Odeum Colorado will host its grand opening on Friday, March 5, and Saturday, March 6, with a pair of back-to-back shows featuring Furthur, the outfit led by Grateful Dead members Phil Lesh and Bob Weir. The re-launch will take place more than three years after the 6,000-seat Broomfield Event Center originally opened its doors with a November 2006 show by Bonnie Raitt.
Next fall, Morris and company also have plans to open the Colorado Rock and Roll Museum inside the arena and have already tapped former Post scribe and KCUV morning-show host G. Brown to head its board of directors. Of the museum, which is something he's always wanted to create for the people of Colorado, Morris says, "I never felt like we had the right place to put it. This is the right place." Exhibits will be devoted to paying homage to newer high-profile Colorado-based acts such as the Fray and the Flobots and other artists with distinct local ties such as Dan Folgelberg and Joe Walsh, among others, and will be open to concert goers.
With the World Arena in Colorado Springs or the Budweiser Events Center in Loveland as perhaps the most comparable venues, Odeum Colorado is poised to become a prime mid-sized venue in a city that's swelling with an overwhelming embarrassment of riches when it comes to places to see shows. And with traffic migration issues being addressed by the city and with the additional signage, it seems realistic to expect AEG to meet its goal of promoting at least fifty shows in its first year, while working its way up to 100 by year three.
Depending on how well the renovations are received, Odeum Colorado may even do better than expected. It's worth noting that when Morris opened the Fillmore, as he pointed out, Live Nation put on as many shows in the first year as it projected by year three.