HARTFORD, Conn. (CelebrityAccess) The Xfinity Theatre in Hartford is launching its 25th season May 24, which caused some reflection by longtime promoter Jim Koplik
“It’s a great venue,” Koplik told The Republican in a recent interview. “The lawn has a perfect pitch for an amphitheater. I remember when my office was there, I would go out and hit 7-irons across the lawn.”
The indoor/outdoor venue kicks things off with Juice WRLD, followed by 19 shows including Dave Matthews Band, Zac Brown Band, Lil Wayne, and Willie Nelson. Hootie & The Blowfish, the first band to play the shed, also returns this summer.
Koplik opened the venue as The Meadows. Its 609-year lease changed hands from Jim Koplik Presents and Nederlander Corp. to SFX Entertainment in 1997 during the rollup days. SFX eventually became Live Nation.
Meanwhile, Koplik celebrates his 50th years as a concert promoter, a career that began out of his dorm room at Ohio State.
“I was 19-years old,” he said. “Tickets were $5, $4, and $3. The band was Steppenwolf.”
As for outdoor concerts, Live Nation depends on them for much of its business.
“About 70 percent of Live Nation’s concert business is outdoor,” he said. “And the amphitheater business keeps getting stronger every year. And Live Nation continues to spend money in the form of capital expenditures to continually upgrade facilities like Xfinity Theatre.”
Koplik said that, despite consolidation, there is still the opportunity to play to the market.
“Each market has its own culture,” he said. “What may work in Ohio won’t necessarily work in Connecticut or Western Mass. And we don’t always get a shot at shows. It’s Boston, New York, Philly, and then, maybe Hartford. In that sense, the business is less personal than it was. There isn’t anyone out there saying “Let’s make sure we get Jimmy Koplik a date on this tour.”
Over the years, Koplik says he has booked more than 7,000 shows.
“I paid to see Bruce Springsteen on Broadway three times,” he said. “I have paid to see Eric Clapton, Paul Simon, Billy Joel, and the Eagles.
“I guess at this point its like being up to bat for a baseball player,” he said. “If you have been up to bat 7,000 times you have a pretty good idea of what to expect.”