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Beasley boasts success on stage and backstage

For the first time ever, WSU’s Beasley Performing Arts Coliseum surpassed $1 million in ticket sales in the 2003-2004 season. With big-name acts on the schedule, facility improvements in place and new assistant director Russ Driver in the office, Beasley Director Leo Udy is pleased with the coliseum’s prospects for the coming year and beyond.

“We have been very successful at establishing WSU on the entertainment map,” he said, citing big-name acts like Drew Carey, Jay Leno and others who have graced the Beasley stage during WSU’s Dad’s Weekend. “We will continue to bring in big names for Dad’s and Mom’s weekends, and we will be adding Homecoming Weekend.”

Look who’s calling
As a measure of the coliseum’s success, “agents are calling us now!” Udy said. Illusion artist David Copperfield, scheduled to play here in November, is an example of an act that solicited a slot at the Beasley.

Agents aren’t the only ones calling more; ticket buyers are, too. Sales via phone and Internet went from 27 percent to 44 percent of total ticket sales in the past four years, Udy said. Internet sales paced that increase, rising from 10 percent of tickets sold to 26 percent during that time.

Meanwhile, the Pullman Junior Miss program moved to Beasley last year, and organizers plan to make that a permanent change. Udy hopes to bring the Washington State Junior Miss event back to the coliseum, as well.

The Children’s Series and Concert Artist Series have met with success and will continue, Udy said. In addition, the inaugural Dad’s Weekend motorcycle show last year was a big hit and will become a yearly event.

But progress isn’t limited to acts on the stage and concourse. Wooden bleachers in the Beasley have been replaced with comfortable, theater-type seating, and new arena lighting has improved the view for entertainers and spectators alike.

One addition that has drawn a number of comments is the Hall of Fame wall, which features photos of top acts that have played Beasley since its inception in 1973. “People have enjoyed reminiscing about all the performers who have appeared on the Beasley Coliseum stage,” Udy said.

Giant video
Another innovation is the videos that play during home basketball games. Beasley Coliseum and WSU Athletics have combined resources to bring in two big video screens capable of playing live TV games, instant replays and PowerPoint presentations to enhance the basketball experience.

Most recently, Driver joined Beasley as assistant director on Aug. 1. Formerly general manager of the Decatur (Ill.) Civic Center, he also has worked at the Tacoma Dome and Southern Illinois University. He brings more than 15 years of experience in various phases of facility management for such diverse events as music concerts, trade shows, commencements and athletic events in large and small facilities and markets.

Driver primarily will be responsible for day-to-day operations, freeing Udy to concentrate more on marketing and administrative duties.

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