Acrisure Arena opens in Coachella Valley amid gentrification

For 3 weeks in April, the Coachella Valley is the middle of the world for stay music. Its flagship occasion, Goldenvoice’s Coachella Valley Music and Arts Pageant, together with its country-music cousin, Stagecoach, draw a whole lot of hundreds of followers to see an expertly curated assortment of A-list and up-and-coming artists, reworking the area right into a nightlife Bacchanalia with inns, Airbnbs and eating places booked stable.

Can it keep that approach the opposite 49 weeks of the yr? Irving Azoff and Tim Leiweke, the stay leisure mega-moguls behind the event agency Oak View Group, are satisfied it will probably.

Azoff and Leiweke have run Dwell Nation and AEG, respectively, the 2 largest live performance promoters in America. Leiweke has been chairman of Main League Soccer and overseen sports activities franchises together with the Los Angeles Kings; Azoff, a member of the Rock & Roll Corridor of Fame, has managed artists together with the Eagles and Steely Dan, served as chief govt of Ticketmaster and overseen the refurbishing of the Discussion board in Inglewood (Azoff goes small, too: he and his spouse, Shelli, personal native eating landmarks Nate’n Al’s and the Apple Pan).

Acrisure Arena, their subsequent main venture, in partnership with Dwell Nation, opening in Palm Desert on Dec. 14, is a little more counterintuitive. It’s a glistening 11,000-capacity area close to Palm Springs, a trip city two hours from L.A. with a regional inhabitants of slightly below half 1,000,000. (Acrisure, which purchased naming rights, is an insurance coverage firm.) Azoff and Leiweke are betting followers will are available in regionally, on trip or from throughout a five-county space to see area acts like Paramore, Dave Chappelle and Grupo Firme year-round.

The world can be a really seen signal of massive L.A. leisure cash transferring into the desert, when locals are already cautious of the valley rising unaffordable.

“This is a burgeoning market,” Azoff, 74, stated. “It’s got the best winter weather in the U.S., the population triples over the winter, and people there are looking to be entertained. For me, it’s a no-brainer given the success of Coachella and Stagecoach.”

Oak View, the venue-development and administration firm Azoff and Leiweke co-founded in 2015, owns or is a accomplice in 36 arenas and 9 stadiums in North America, together with the Kia Discussion board in Inglewood, Madison Sq. Backyard in New York Metropolis, Bridgestone Arena in Nashville and the Chase Middle in San Francisco. Even throughout the pandemic, Oak View Group went on an arena-building spree, breaking floor on new complexes in Las Vegas, Canada, Texas and Seattle over the past 5 years.

Azoff and Leiweke, each L.A.-area residents, every have trip houses within the Coachella Valley. A number of weeks earlier than the venue opens to followers, Azoff (who Zoomed in from a personal jet) and Leiweke (calling from an workplace at Oak View Group headquarters) sounded giddy about opening a venue of their part-time yard.

“Around 450,000 people come during the winter who are just arriving now,” Leiweke, 65, stated. “They’re going to be driving down the 10 Freeway and go, ‘What the hell is that?’”

The 11,000-seat Acrisure Arena might be residence to a minor-league hockey group and can host such acts as Maroon 5, Grupo Firme and the Eagles.

(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Occasions)

Acrisure is a $500-million modernist jewel field of an area, matching the low-slung structure of the world with wavy jet-age overhangs. Whereas Palm Springs has no scarcity of glistening inns and palatial houses, Acrisure will instantly develop into one of the crucial seen fixtures within the space’s skyline. The privately funded venue was initially slated to rise in downtown Palm Springs, on tribal land owned by the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians, however moved to unincorporated, nonprofit-owned land simply north of Palm Desert after early negotiations fell aside throughout the pandemic.

It’ll be the house for a brand new minor-league hockey franchise, the Coachella Valley Firebirds, however the two concert-biz veterans sound most enthusiastic about catching performances there.

“It’s a really unique design: There’s no upper bowl and the outdoor artist compound is incredible,” Leiweke stated. “It’ll be the most intimate arena. I haven’t seen the Eagles as often as Irving has, but this is where I’d want to see them.”

The world, booked by Azoff’s outdated firm Dwell Nation, has already slotted marquee expertise to open the snowbird season. Chappelle and Chris Rock will headline opening evening on Dec. 14; different upcoming exhibits embrace Hollywood Bowl-caliber acts just like the Doobie Brothers, Maroon 5 and the Eagles.

Leiweke sees it as a pure tour kickoff location earlier than swinging by L.A., Las Vegas or Phoenix. “If you’re an artist, we can give you the building to rehearse for a few days,” he stated. “When you see Palm Springs on the tour itinerary, you don’t think of it as work; it’s a working vacation.”

Exterior of pageant season, choices for Coachella Valley concertgoers had been up till now restricted to on line casino venues, an extended journey into Ontario and Pomona, or a two-hour drive into L.A.

Coachella Mayor Steven Hernandez thinks Acrisure might be transformative for tradition within the space.

“I see this as a huge investment that will become contagious for adding new hotels and restaurants,” he stated. “Comedy shows like Dave Chappelle and Chris Rock? That’s amazing, we’ve never seen that quality of comedian here. We’re not an afterthought anymore.”

For a majority Hispanic or Latinx area, the place many work in blue-collar hospitality jobs, Acrisure will even develop into a showcase venue for Mexican and Latin music acts. Teams like Los Tucanes de Tijuana and Banda MS have performed Coachella’s most important stage. Now they’ll have a neighborhood area to carry out in.

“This diversifies entertainment,” Riverside County Supervisor Manny Perez stated. “Knowing the demographics of the valley, Latinos are very willing to go to concerts. Banda MS, Café Tacuba, Marc Anthony, Pepe Aguilar: You’d better believe it’s gonna be packed for those shows.”

A stand-up comedian onstage

Dave Chappelle will co-headline alongside Chris Rock on opening evening on the new Acrisure Arena in Palm Desert.

(Lester Cohen / WireImage)

Dave Brooks, Billboard’s senior director of stay music and touring, stated, “The customer base for the Acrisure Arena obviously draws well beyond the Coachella Valley. The region’s biggest draw is already live music: Coachella and Stagecoach.”

That broad geographic attain is exclusive within the area, but “the team running Acrisure will have to get creative and put together competitive offers to book artists,” Brooks continued.

“SoCal is the ultimate live entertainment market, and since there is parity between Live Nation and AEG, artists can pick and choose opportunities based on the money and offer. Everyone is competing for everything, but if you have a good product, like Harry Styles or Bad Bunny, you can make a shockingly massive amount of money.”

That potential haul from well-heeled vacationers and snowbirds is a part of what introduced Oak View and Dwell Nation out to the desert. However because the withering battle over the beloved Pioneertown venue Pappy & Harriet’s confirmed, the desert doesn’t all the time take kindly to L.A. executives swooping in with their very own grand plans. A packed 2019 Palm Springs Metropolis Council assembly about Acrisure drew some contentious reactions from locals.

“We don’t want to overwhelm the community,” Leiweke stated. “We want to add to it. There’s a lot of history of artists making the desert what it is today.”

In keeping with Redfin, the median residence sale value in Riverside County has practically doubled since 2017, little doubt partly as a result of space’s festival-driven glamour and its relative affordability throughout the pandemic.

“Rural gentrification is real, but it’s been an ongoing struggle for five or 10 years,” Perez stated. “You do have big money coming in, investing and buying land to hold or develop. But we think the arena is going to create 1,500 jobs for underserved communities. That will help get broadband and clean water out to people in mobile homes.”

“There are pros and cons, I can’t deny it,” he continued. “But I think the pros outweigh the cons.”

“People do worry about a top-down approach,” Hernandez added, lamenting the L.A. carpetbagger perspective of “‘we know what we’re doing, we don’t need your input.’ But I told Irving and Tim that you have to understand the demographics, to think about the Coachella Valley’s identity. We want to make sure everyone in the desert can feel at home here.”

For the foremost AEG and Goldenvoice occasions which have already made the world’s repute, is Acrisure an indication that not even the Coachella Valley is protected from competitors?

“We’ll make the venue available for Paul Tollett,” Azoff stated, referencing Goldenvoice’s chief govt and Coachella’s co-founder. “We want to show Paul respect out there. But he can only book three headliners, and our phone is ringing with acts who want to play. My personal view is that we should counterprogram the festival.”

“Paul is a friend, and we’ll always want to work with him,” Leiweke stated. “Coachella is the greatest festival in the world. Paul knows, at end of day, we’re here to help him.”

For Coachella Valley lifers, nevertheless, the top of the lengthy trek down the ten to see a present is purpose sufficient to welcome a brand new area to city.

“I’ve got young daughters, and we always traveled to go to see Disney on Ice,” Hernandez stated. “But now we can save on gas and hotels, stay local and enjoy what other regions have.”