Smaller Is Better?...

San Diego's largest concert venue, the 20,000-capacity outdoor Coors Amphitheatre, has not had a good year; 84,450 tickets were sold during the first nine months of 2006, making it the 51st-most-used amphitheater in the country. During the same period last year (according to Pollstar magazine), Coors sold more than twice as many tickets (190,809) and ranked 19th on that list. The venue hosted 22 events in the first nine months of last year; 15 during the first nine months of 2006.

The Bayside venue at the Embarcadero, meanwhile, which can hold 10,000 (general admission) or 5000 (with seats), has sold 118,631 tickets so far this year. Thus, it became the 42nd-most-visited amphitheater in the country. In 2004, Bayside hosted 6 shows; in 2005, 8. This year, 25 concerts have been presented.

The Bayside venue is booked by Viejas Entertainment, which also sets up Viejas Concerts in the Park. Coors is booked by the L.A.-based House of Blues, which controls nightclubs and concert venues across the country. An insider says the 2006 success of Bayside is due to talent buyer John Wojas and the fact that Viejas outbids HoB for headliners.

"Viejas has money to burn and they are using it," says the insider.

Stephen Redfearn, CEO of Viejas Entertainment, agrees that Wojas had a lot to do with Viejas' success, but Redfearn bristles at the suggestion that his company wins bidding wars because it is backed by Indian gambling money.

"There are no slot machines at the Embarcadero," says Redfearn.

The insider suggests that access to the Coors facility doesn't help the Coors concert experience.

"Have you ever been to a packed Coors show? If you have, you know that you have an annoying wait after the show. Who wants to wait an hour in traffic?"

Redfearn doesn't think that Coors access problems have any bearing on the success of Bayside.

"What happens with traffic after a show has no bearing on the agents who decide.... We just do a good job in San Diego. Plus, the artists love the venue. The Radiohead guys loved it. Sheryl Crow went shopping downtown. Paul Simon and Bonnie Raitt rode their bikes around the Gaslamp."

Redfearn is not specific about the lease Viejas holds on Bayside.

"It's a multi-year deal that kind of renews itself."

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