By Melinda Hartline
The Circus Ring of Fame Foundation announced new dates and location for the annual induction ceremony. The ceremony normally scheduled for mid-January 2021 will be moved to the Circus Sarasota Tent at Nathan Benderson Park and take place February 5th at 4:30 pm. The rescheduled date and location will allow for a climate controlled theatrical environment.
“During the past year the foundation board discussed how to expand and improve the quality of the liveexperience and expand our outreach globally by creating a video streaming/TV product,” said Bill Powell, chair and CEO of the foundation and most recently recognized as IAVM’s 2020 Joseph J. Anzivino Distinguished Allied Award recipient. “Moving to a venue with theatrical accommodations will allow us to create a quality show with professional lights, sound, acoustics, and overall theatrical look and feel.”
The plaques will still permanently reside on St. Armands Circle.
The 2022 Circus Ring of Fame inductees are:
1. Galaxy Girl, Tina Winn – Seventh generation extreme aerialist who performs dazzling gymnastic routines at heights of up to 130 feet in the air. Tina Winn has been performing for multiple decades and began her training in the circus art as a child with her family.
2. Nik Wallenda, King of the High Wire has crisscrossed the globe with never-before-seen death-defying acts. As a direct descendent of the original Wallenda troupe headed by patriarch Karl Wallenda, Nik carries on multiple decades of family tradition of spectacular aerial artistry and death-defying thrills.
3. George Carden – Prominent multi-decade circus producer headquartered in Missouri who has raised millions of dollars for charitable causes through the work of his circus and sponsoring organizations.
4. Willie Edelston – As the 1941 National YMCA Ring Champion, Willie Edelston had a love for performing. He signed with Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus as a trapeze artist and continued this work for multiple decades on numerous shows. For more than 50 years, Willie volunteered at the Sailor Circus. Hundreds of students have benefited from his coaching. He taught flying trapeze, rings, tumbling, and hand-balancing.
5. The Richter/Casselly Families – Two of Europe’s premiere multi-generational circus families are best known for their incredible artistic productions. The Richter/Casselly families began performing as young children. They have won multiple awards at the Monte Carlo International Circus Festival, Budapest Circus Festival and many others.
6. The Advance Professionals – A first ever class induction honoring the group responsible for the business of the show. Within the group, four areas of expertise are being honored: tour booking, press relations, promotion, and creative advertising.
Limited admission tickets are available on Eventbrite by
The new inductees to the Circus Ring of Fame will join the 150 honored since 1987. All of those recognized have made a significant contribution to the art and culture of the circus. Updates on the ceremony will be posted on the website and social media.
Melinda Hartline is President and Chief Communications Officer for Hartline Communications in Tampa, Florida.
Pictured: Michael Naughton and Heidi Herriott will co-host the 2022 Circus Ring of Fame Foundation induction ceremony.
By Eric R. Gerard
The City of Birmingham, Alabama and global design firm Populous celebrated a double-debut this fall as the Birmingham Jefferson Civic Center Authority unveiled the new 42,000-seat Protective Stadium and the completely redesigned 15,000-seat Legacy Arena in the city’s downtown. Populous served as architect of record for both venues.
The new stadium and arena are part of the overall Birmingham Jefferson Convention Complex (BJCC) and are designed to fit into the urban fabric of downtown Birmingham, the BJCC and the Uptown Entertainment District. Populous oversaw the design of both venues, providing architecture, interior design, signage and graphic design services.
The new 835,000 square-foot, $188 million Protective Stadium debuted in October as the new home of the University of Alabama at Birmingham. The idea of a new multi-purpose stadium at the BJCC has been part of the BJCC Authority’s long-term strategic plan for many years.
“Located in the heart of downtown Birmingham and across the street from the popular Uptown entertainment district Populous helped master plan years ago, the site was ideal for a football stadium, so it fits together very nicely,” said Jim Swords, principal at Populous and project manager for both venues. “One side of the site is urban, and the other is a residential neighborhood. This one-of-a-kind stadium fits right into the site. It is scaled to the surrounding buildings and doesn’t rise above everything in a big sea of parking but is nestled into the surrounding city blocks. You can see the city from the stands, so the design is very much unique to Birmingham.”
Protective Stadium was designed to accommodate football, soccer, concerts and other special events, and is home to University of Alabama Birmingham (UAB) Blazers football. The colors, materials and structure of the stadium, including the scoreboard and light towers, were influenced by Birmingham’s industrial heritage and landmarks, as the design employs the use of red brick and black steel to seamlessly integrate into the complex. The new venue made its debut October 2 with the UAB-Liberty game and has averaged more than 27,000 fans during the team’s home games this fall.
“Right-sizing” the new stadium to attract more regional and high-profile events to Birmingham while fitting in with the surrounding area were key factors in the Populous design. The BJCC’s approach has been validated with the scheduling of the Super 7 state championships, the TicketSmarter Birmingham Bowl and the opening and closing ceremonies for The World Games next summer at Protective Stadium, with more events in the works.
Protective Stadium provides ample opportunity for a high-level college football atmosphere, featuring one of the largest scoreboards in college football, a standing-room plaza for students and a 360-degree concourse that circles the stadium, creating an intimate experience while allowing fans to navigate the entire seating bowl at concourse level without losing sight of the action.
The stadium hosts suites (34 total) and club seats with a Stadium Club to fill a need for premium offerings. Populous collaborated with local architects to develop these areas, as well as the special UAB recruiting lounge and UAB home locker room and worked with Protective Life to integrate its brand and signage throughout the stadium.
Legacy Arena Makes December 5 Debut
The BJCC also funded an extensive, $71.7 million reconstruction of the 45-year-old Legacy Arena into a modern 335,000 square-foot multipurpose arena, which can hold 15,000 for basketball, 16,000 for center stage concerts and 12,000 for end stage concerts. Populous also provided design leadership for the renovation, leading a team local architects and national and local consultants.
“The reconstruction of Legacy Arena was all about turning an old building into a new building, making a famed venue into a modern arena while keeping its character,” Swords said. “While everyone could see Protective Stadium being built from the outside, the arena rebuild was mostly hidden from public view. People will be amazed when they walk into Legacy Arena because it’s a 45-year-old building that will look brand new on the inside.”
The most obvious change is the facility’s new exterior, which replaces the original façade of the old arena and provides a new ground level entry lobby that faces downtown Birmingham. A tree-lined entry plaza welcomes visitors to the arena’s massive glass lobby that offers city views and lets in abundant natural light.
From the entrance, the storied arena has been revitalized into a modern performance and sports venue. The new lobby features new stairs, elevators and escalators, improving crowd access. Populous opened the concourses to provide views directly into the seating bowl and increased and upgraded existing restrooms and concessions stands to modern arena standards. Populous also designed the signage and wayfinding for the arena, incorporating Birmingham influences.
While the seating bowl remains intact, the project includes all new seating throughout. Premium amenities include 12 brand new suites, a new Upper-Level Club and a newly renovated Arena Club. On event level, locker rooms and dressing rooms have also been updated and expanded, and a larger loading dock was added to better accommodate concerts and special events. Several in-bowl improvements were made on an operational level, including a new sound system, lighting, ribbon boards, and other infrastructure.
The venue celebrated its re-opening on December 5 with a home game for the Birmingham Squadron, the NBA G-League affiliate of the New Orleans Pelicans. Concerts at the new Legacy Arena made their debut December 15 with a holiday performance by the Trans-Siberian Orchestra.
Legacy Arena photo by BJCC. Protective Stadium photo by Populous.
Eric R. Gerard is Senior Vice President of Great Ink Communications.
By Melissa Cappabianca
AT&T has unveiled new 5G-based experiences for Chicago Blackhawks and Chicago Bulls fans at the United Center.
AT&T, the official 5G innovation partner of the NHL’s Blackhawks and NBA’s Bulls, has made United Center the first shared NBA/NHL arena to implement ‘Pose with the Pros’.
First rolled out at AT&T Stadium, home of the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys, this allows fans to choose their favorite Blackhawks or Bulls players and mascots to join them on screen for a selfie brought to life through augmented reality.
Users will be able to control the two, six-foot AT&T 5G-powered interactive kiosks, installed in the arena’s East Atrium and Madhouse Team Store, through their smartphones. This creates a touchless and safe experience that will leave fans with a unique video or photo to take home. Through the AT&T 5G+ network at the United Center, fans can also share their memorable moments on social media.
For those watching at home, Pose with the Pros is making its way to the Blackhawks app on December 20 and Bulls app on December 22. Fans will get the same augmented reality photo-op as they do at the United Center, but from the comfort of their own homes.
In addition to launching Pose with the Pros, an enhanced AT&T StatsZone will be available in both teams’ official mobile apps beginning early January 2022. With a successful launch in the Bulls app in May, and as 5G and AR technology become more prevalent in sports, AT&T is also introducing StatsZone to the Blackhawks app, expanding the platform’s capabilities and fan experience across both teams.
StatsZone will give fans the ability to see immersive 3D stats immediately, view player and team stats of past games using a customized AR view on their smartphones and share clips of their favorite stats and milestones from the game on social media.
“On the heels of the launch of our new, official Blackhawks mobile app earlier this season, AT&T’s StatsZone integration brings additional value to the digital fan experience for our users,” said Steve Waight, vice-president of corporate partnerships for the Chicago Blackhawks.
“Add to that the exciting launch of Pose with the Pros at the United Center on Blackhawks gameday, and this expanded AT&T collaboration is elevating opportunities for our fans to get to know our team and players whether enjoying a game in person or following along at home.”
Jay Cary, vice-president of 5G product and innovation at AT&T, added: “We’re fueling these moments to bring fans closer to the action.
“Our network is packed with speed and capacity to deliver these custom experiences to a stadium near you and to the screen in your pocket. It’s all about creating new, immersive ways to connect you to the teams and players you love while making it all look seamless to you.”
Melissa Cappabianca is in AT&T Corporate Communications.
By ASM Global
ASM Global has appointed Alex Merchán as executive vice-president of marketing as part of a plan to substantially increase the company’s programs for its portfolio of facilities across the world.
Merchán joins ASM having served as executive vice-president of Live Nation Entertainment from June 2017, specifically for its clubs and theatres division.
Previous to his tenure at Live Nation, Merchán spent 10 years at Hard Rock International, latterly as senior director of global marketing and sales from 2013 to June 2017, establishing the strategic direction for 175 venues in 74 countries, representing a billion-dollar business overseeing both sales and marketing in that capacity.
In Merchán’s new role, he will be responsible for all marketing, data analytics, digital, creative, and communications efforts for ASM worldwide, overseeing strategic development across company divisions, supporting all marketing and sales efforts across global partnerships, customer experience, data analytics, revenue growth, new venue partners, food and beverage, content, and programming.
ASM said Merchán has been instrumental in the execution and implementation of its recently announced strategic partnership with Qualtrics. ASM Global this month entered into a partnership with the Utah-based tech business management firm to create new fan experiences at live events as venues adapt to a post-pandemic environment.
As part of the deal, ASM will leverage Qualtrics in the creation of a proprietary system to listen to fan feedback and work to create experiences that reflect the changing habits of spectators.
Merchán will evolve the core marketing strategies and develop the marketing team to drive growth across company divisions and further expand the portfolio such as recent openings in Coca Cola Music Hall (San Juan, Puerto Rico), Capital One Hall (Tysons, Virginia) and Tacoma Theater (Tacoma, Washington), all now part of the ASM portfolio.
ASM president and CEO, Ron Bension, said: “There are tremendous opportunities for us to bring substantially increased value to our clients through strategic marketing initiatives. Alex is uniquely qualified to harness the power of the world’s largest live-event marketing platform to drive sales, revenues, and awareness to our partner venues around the globe.”
Merchán added: “ASM’s multichannel digital platform leverages a global footprint and rich live-event data to create and power impactful marketing campaigns, drive guest engagement, and grow ticket sales.
“Our global scope and expertise, technology infrastructure, and strategic partners provide an exciting foundation to leverage on the ground marketing activation with a robust integrated digital network and deliver engaged audiences across all our stadiums, arenas, convention centres and theatres.
“No one in the live entertainment business can match – among many things – our ability to deliver and market to a captive global audience through cutting-edge technology, creative partnerships, and a well-researched and charted guest experience.”
My granny used to always say that you can take a girl out of Kentucky, but you can’t take Kentucky out of a girl. How right she was. I may have moved to Dallas five years ago to join IAVM, but Bowling Green, KY will always be home. Forty-one of my 46 earthly years were spent there, and it branded its southern heart into my own. When I refer to “home,” that will forever be my point of reference.
Throughout my tenure with IAVM, my heart has bled when we receive reports of tragedies that have hit our member venues and their communities. Seeing the devastation left behind by earthquakes, hurricanes, wildfires, and even at the hands of humans in mass casualty events, never gets easier. There is something especially hard about it, though, when it hits home. Overnight on Friday, December 10, it hit my “home.”
Saturday, December 11, I woke to hundreds of missed calls and messages. There is nothing more frightening to see in our line of business. Immediate panic and worry set in before taking a breath, then opening those missed messages to see what needed to be done. My heart sank at the texts and images I had missed. My home state, my old Kentucky home, had been devastated by the most catastrophic tornadic event to ever hit there. Entire towns leveled, in some instances nothing left but foundations where centuries old buildings once stood, and untold lives lost. By now you have seen the images and read the reports.
It took minutes, that seemed like years, to connect with my sister and find out about the fate of my family and friends. We were blessed that everyone was safe and accounted for. Not everyone, even just a street over, was so lucky. As the hours passed, and I received more and more reports, the devastation and loss of lives became even more grim. Today, property loss is well within the billions, many are still without power and cell service, and 74 are confirmed dead; 12 are children. Their ages range from 2 months to 98 years old. Seven lost were from a single family. Every piece of my heart goes out to those who lost someone. Prayers for the searchers still looking for those not yet recovered.
One thing about Kentuckians, we have never met a stranger. When you see neighbors helping neighbors, strangers helping strangers, to dig through rubble or cook meals, it’s because that person is family. That person is a fellow Kentuckian. That is why Kentucky will forever have my heart, because it is my family. Every soul there is. So, as I prepare to drive back “home” for the holidays, to help where and how I can, I think of the old saying that “you can’t go home again.” The meaning behind the words in this case is poignant. I am returning to a place I see in my memory, and that place no longer exists as I see it. While what I am returning to won’t look like home in its landscape now, the people I will see along the way will still be the same hard working, generous hearts, and they are what truly make Kentucky home. They are what I am returning to.
I will be documenting my journey through many of the states affected here and on our Facebook page starting December 23, so please be sure to check back.