In terms of outward appearances, the average concert-goer probably detected no real difference between last year and this year at Raleigh’s biggest concert venue. The city-owned amphitheater was known as Time Warner Cable Music Pavilion at Walnut Creek in both 2012 and 2013.
Behind the scenes, however, there was one big difference: Time Warner did not pay anything for having its name on the facility for the 2013 season, after having paid more than $668,000 for the privilege in 2012. That’s because the sponsorship deal expired after 2012, and Time Warner opted out of renewing.
“When the season started in April, it seemed like there was still life in the negotiations,” said Roger Krupa, director of the Raleigh Convention Center. “But Time Warner didn't renew, and there would have been confusion in taking their name off at that point. So we let it slip because we didn’t want to have to recreate websites and addresses and information about it.”
The city quietly began removing Time-Warner branding toward the end of the season, which concluded in late September. For now, the venue’s website lists it as “Walnut Creek Amphitheatre (formerly TWC Music Pavilion)” while the city seeks another title sponsor for 2014.
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Raleigh and venue operator Live Nation split naming-rights revenue equally. At least the lack of a title sponsor didn't hurt the city’s bottom line this year.
When Live Nation makes its final payments for 2013, the city's take will be on the high side of $1.2 million - more than enough to cover its Walnut Creek debt service of $778,600. Most of that $447,000-plus profit will go toward upgrades and improvements of the 20,000-capacity facility, which opened in 1991.
It helped that Walnut Creek had a strong 2013, attendance-wise, primarily because of country shows (see below). This year, the amphitheater drew more than 270,000 people to 20 shows, half of them by country acts including Tim McGraw, Miranda Lambert and Rascal Flatts. No other style had more than three shows there in 2013.
As for 2014, Live Nation spokesperson Jacqueline Peterson released a statement saying that the company is “currently in discussions with some terrific bands.” Time Warner signed on as Walnut Creek's third title sponsor (after Hardee's and Alltel) in 2008, a five-year deal with escalating payments and options for two more.
Had Time Warner renewed its two-year option, its payment for 2014 would have been $737,000. That's a lot of money to make up.
WALNUT CREEK 2013 ATTENDANCE
Tim McGraw (May 4) - 18,260
Kenny Chesney (May 23) - 17,056
Brad Paisley (June 8) - 17,301
Zac Brown Band (June 21) - 19,725
Heart (June 22) - 5,351
Big Time Rush (July 7) - 5,820
Black Keys (July 11) - 11,276
Luke Bryan (July 13) - 19,130
Keith Urban (July 26) - 15,998
Lil Wayne (July 27) - 11,163
Matchbox 20 (Aug. 7) - 11,180
Blake Shelton (Aug. 9) - 18,959
Backstreet Boys (Aug. 20) - 8,452
Miranda Lambert (Aug. 24) - 16,391
Allman Brothers (Aug. 30) - 5,188
Iron Maiden (Sept. 3) - 10,506
John Mayer (Sept. 5) - 10,389
Maroon 5 (Sept. 10) - 15,813
Jason Aldean (Sept. 13) - 18,671
Rascal Flatts (Sept. 27) - 14,003
TOTAL - 270,632