Boulder’s two powerhouse music theaters are looking into merging business operations, The Denver Post has learned.
The owners of the 625-capacity Fox Theatre and the 1,000-capacity Boulder Theater are considering a merger that would bring the theaters’ staffs under the same roof, according to Cheryl Liguori, the general manager of the Boulder Theater and a shareholder at the Fox.
“It’s a conversation that started 11 years ago when I was first called to come over here to the Boulder Theater,” Liguori said. “I first posed that idea of, ‘Why don’t I manage both theaters?’ And we visited that question of operating together at least three times over ther past 11 years.”
Under the proposed deal, the venues would share staffs — from the management and booking down to the bartenders and door staff. They would also likely bundle their advertisements in local papers, blogs and magazines. The operational headquaters would be at the Boulder Theater with Liguori as the CEO and Brian Carp, currently the GM at the Fox, as the COO.
The merger is more appetizing to the parties now because of the difficult live music economy.
“Times are tight,” Liguori said. “Five or six or seven years ago, there weren’t half as many venues as there are now. Competition is fierce, and instead of beating each other up for talent and driving ticket prices up, we should come together. A merger could be a great thing for Boulder.”
Don Strasburg, co-owner of the Fox, had no comment on Thursday. But Liguori drafted a letter of intent in August or September, and the deal could be done as early as the spring. Doug Greene currently owns the Boulder Theater. Liguori said she doesn’t yet know if the merge will cause layoffs between the two staffs.
“We’re not at that point operationally yet,” she said. “There are quite a few steps that have to happen first … But I view this as a great thing. Both venues come with real strengths, and to combine the unique strengths of the venues will provide a better experience for all those involved.”
Scott Campbell, a talent buyer at AEG Live Rocky Mountains — where Strasburg is also employed as a vice president — said there are advantages to running multiple venues from the same building.
“Every aspect of running a venue — booking, marketing and contracts — works better when you have one staff working multiple venues,” said Campbell, who books both the Bluebird and Ogden theaters in Denver. “It’s nice, too, if you have a smaller club and a bigger club. Then you can develop the artists in the smaller club and move them up to the bigger club. And since we’re in the business of developing artists, the Bluebird and Ogden are key to the long-term success of our company.”
The Fox, built in the ’20s on The Hill in Boulder, has a legendary history with adult-alternative musicians (Dave Matthews Band, the Fray and Sheryl Crow) and hip-hop artists (Wu Tang Clan, Snoop Dogg and 3OH!3) alike. The Boulder Theater, which sits less than a block off the city’s famed Pearl Street Mall, originally opened in 1906 as the Curran Opera House. It’s seen many renovations since then, and it now stands as one of the most striking structures — inside and out — in the city of Boulder.
Click here to see our most recent photo essay form the Fox — Big Head Todd & the Monsters. And click here to see our most recent photo essay from the Boulder Theater — the Buffalo Heart Benefit featuring Elephant Revival, Boulder Acoustic Society, Reed Foehl and Laura Goldhamer.
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Ricardo Baca is the founder and co-editor of Reverb and an award-winning critic and journalist at The Denver Post. He is also the executive director of the Underground Music Showcase, Colorado’s premier indie music festival. Follow his whimsies at Twitter, his live music habit at Gigbot and his iTunes addictions at Last.fm.