Aug 11, 2023 - Music

Inside Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse's big year of concerts

Hayley Williams of Paramore performs on stage.

Paramore at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse in June. Photo: Courtesy of Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse

It took a few years, but Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse is finally functioning like the best entertainment venue $185 million in renovations can buy.

Driving the news: LL Cool J and The Roots will headline a big hip-hop concert at the venue Saturday.

Why it matters: The show is one of 40-plus entertainment events scheduled for the venue's fiscal year — July 1, 2023, to June 30, 2024 — signifying a post-COVID rebound.

  • "This will be the second- or third-busiest year based on gross ticket sales since the building opened in 1994," Nic Barlage, CEO of the Cavaliers and Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse, tells Axios.

Flashback: Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse finished its $185 million renovation project in September 2019 with the Cavs contributing $115 million and public taxes paying $70 million.

Details: Upgrades included 2,200 square feet of LED panels, new membership spaces, over 60 reimagined suites, more than 700 flat-screen TVs, new food and beverage options and an expanded glass-enclosed atrium.

Yes, but: Due to the COVID pandemic, Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse didn't host a single concert from March 2020 to September 2021.

State of play: The arena has fully rebounded this year with live events featuring Alicia Keys, Bruce Springsteen, Paramore and others drawing more than 150,000 people to the arena.

  • Concerts with Aerosmith, Eagles, KISS, P!NK and Depeche Mode and other big names are expected to attract an additional 200,000-plus.
  • Barlage says those events, along with the venue's sports games, will generate between $225 million and $250 million in direct spending downtown during the fiscal year.

What's next: More renovations are on the way. This week, Gateway Economic Development Corp. OK'd another $24 million to upgrade elevators and escalators and video hardware.

What they're saying: "Our goal is to be the reason and the catalyst to get people downtown," Barlage says.

  • "We feel it's our job to make the heartbeat of downtown Cleveland strong."
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