Finding a niche: Civic Center sees profit in contemporary Christian acts – Glens Falls Post

GLENS FALLS — Contemporary Christian concerts have become a profitable niche for the Glens Falls Civic Center.

City officials expect to build on that momentum when vocalist Jeremy Camp debuts a new song as he opens his fall tour at the arena Oct. 3.

Camp announced in a recent YouTube video that the tour will include a song from his new record coming out in 2015.

“That’s pretty cool,” said city 5th Ward Councilman James Clark, a Jeremy Camp fan.

“I have a ton of his songs on my iPod and I just love the guy,” he said.

The concert is the fifth contemporary Christian concert at the arena in two and a half years.

Contemporary Christian has proved to be a promising niche market for the arena, which overall has lost so much money the city is offering it for sale in a sealed bid auction on Sept. 12, with no minimum bid. No one participated in an Aug. 18 public auction that had a minimum $1.5 million bid.

All four of the previous contemporary Christian shows have been profitable, even without beer sales, which typically account for the largest profit margin for concerts, said Jeremy Huelsing, the arena’s general manager.

The Newsboys played at the arena in April 2012 and April 2014. Third Day and Casting Crowns headlined shows in 2013.

For three of the shows, the contracts stipulated the arena could not sell beer, said Bennet Driscoll, the Civic Center’s contract administrator.

One show did allow beer sales, but not much was sold, he said.

Huelsing said Christian concerts are profitable because artist costs are lower than for mainstream artists, and because Christian artists have a strong following among their audience niche.

A Christian concert typically needs to sell between 1,500 and 2,000 tickets to break even, while the break-even point for some mainstream shows can be 4,000 or more tickets.

Christian shows, such as the upcoming Jeremy Camp concert, typically offer discounts for groups of 12 or more, which appeals to church groups, he said.

Mainstream shows typically do not offer group discounts.

Huelsing said arena management works with Sound of Life Radio, a network of Christian stations in the Glens Falls, Albany, Kingston and Newburgh areas, to promote the concerts.

“Every (Christian) concert we’ve done, Sound of Life has played a big role,” he said.

“We have towers that reach into New York City, over into Connecticut, Pennsylvania and Vermont. So we’re getting a pretty good draw from those surrounding areas,” said Shane Ross, local representative for Sound of Life.

The radio network was looking to increase its audience in the Glens Falls area when it initially collaborated with the Civic Center in 2012, and the partnership has worked out well, he said.

Sound of Life organized two buses of people from the Kingston/Newburgh area to come to the latest Newsboys concert.

“I think we probably would have come close to filling a third,” Ross said.

They plan to organize motorcoach groups again for the Jeremy Camp concert, he said.

Glens Falls may get a little extra exposure from the Oct. 3 concert because Camp is opening his fall tour here.

“Being the first stop on a tour is always nice,” Huelsing said.

Huelsing said the Civic Center was not specifically singled out for the distinction.

“It just kind of worked out that way — their routing,” he said.

Kutless and Adam Cappa also will appear at the Oct. 3 concert, which begins at 7 p.m.

Tickets, priced at $20, $25, $35 and $75, are on sale at the Civic Civic box office, online at www.glensfallscc.com or by calling 855-432-2849.