The Indianapolis Star from Indianapolis, Indiana on April 23, 2000 · Page 172
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The Indianapolis Star from Indianapolis, Indiana · Page 172

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Indianapolis, Indiana
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Sunday, April 23, 2000
Page:
Page 172
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2 SUNDAY, APRIL 23, 2000 DEPARTMENT OF ADVERTISING AND MARKETING THE INDIANAPOLIS STAR - - ' - " " - Iw.mm-T.lRKI4JmfAJJ4lwwJtir "in-mifcJ ROOm f0R gROWtH DID YOU KNOW... Thanks to renovations, one of the nation's top-notch outdoor venues just got better. - - ' y0f :;:"r IlX ' v- ...7- : V.. ; ; 1 ' ' " i 1 .. .-r-MW- 1 f , f 1 f y y i -;. ; ' " , ; Photo: Bill Cayle With 220 acres of room to work with, Deer Creek Music Center wasn't lacking in resources to better improve its capacity and fluiditity. Around $1.6 million has been spent on renovations. BY DYLAN BARMMER DIRECT PUBLISHING How do you make the best even better? Well, if you're Dave Lucas, you do what only seems natural: You listen to reason, as well as your paying public. You make Indiana's biggest outdoor amphitheater - not to mention biggest overall attraction over the past few years -even bigger. Simply put, you grow. Since founding Noblesville, Ind.-based Sunshine Promotions nearly 30 years ago, Lucas and partner Steve Sybesma have seen their company grow by incredible leaps and bounds alongside the equally astonishing growth of the entertainment industry itself. The growth of Sunshine Promotions led to the birth of Deer Creek Music Center in 1989, and in the 1 1 years since the outdoor amphitheater's inception, Deer Creek itself has gone multi-platinum with fans, critics and artists alike. When asked if Deer Creek has exceeded his initial aspirations, Lucas has to chuckle for a minute before managing, "Happily so, yes." Initially planning to do three shows in the entertainment industry and then branch out into another business with the profits, the former salesman and his company - now owned by entertainment juggernaut SFX - have put on literally thousands of shows over the past 29 years. Now, the company puts on 300 to 350 shows in any given year. And while downtown's revived Murat Theatre and Columbus, Ohio's Polaris Amphitheatre are two very big sources of pride for Lucas and Sunshine Promotions, Deer Creek is the crown jewel. "We had high hopes about where we thought we could take it," says Lucas, "But really, the past (several) years, Deer Creek just took off like a rocket." Deer Creek has not only been a hit with Indiana and midwest-ern concert-goers over the past several years, but it has earned the respect of industry officials and the touring performers who call the facility home for a few summer nights. "The security manager for (the rock group) Phish tells me they would prefer playing Deer Creek over Madison Square Garden," says Karl Adams, who oversees all of DCMC's opera- sonnel with them, but also hordes of cross-country hopping, music-loving, caravan-by-the-dozen-driving fans. Phish's fans are known as "Phish Heads," but the Indiana branch of the species known as "Hoosier Heads." So devoted . ' " I J ' r-- I- lV r !fj!; ml "T 'mil liimiiiiii ii Mini 8 7 St);:'. -i Phish and their fans are some of Deer Creek's most vocal supporters. tions as the facility's general manager. "When you hear that kind of compliment, it really makes you proud. "Who would have thought -building an amphitheater out in the middle of the cornfield - it would be this popular? But it's that (intimate, outdoors) appeal which makes it so popular." and disciplined in their pursuit of the band are the Hoosier Heads that they even put together their own Web site (ww w. h oos let heads, com ) . A visit to the site and subsequent clicking on the link J'hislu'n at Deer Creek' reveals an abundance of love for 'The Creek' among Phish Heads. "Deer Creek: For those who have been here before, it's like Christmas in July all over again," wrote Kevin Cassels in the July, 1999 issue of Phish Head magazine Pharmer's Almanac. "For those who have not experienced the event that is Deer Creek, all we can say is expect the unexpected. ... Any concert at Deer Creek is a tough ticket, simply because of the intimate setting and amazing sound this venue boasts. The Indiana night sky, the great lawn screen camera work, and sparkling acoustics have made Deer Creek perhaps Phish's favorite summer venue. So prepare yourselves for a mind-jolting show, folks. You have reached the top of the mountain!" But as much as the Phish Heads and Phish themselves love Deer Creek, over the past few years, the rising popularity in the grass-roots band has meant that not every long-standing or aspiring Phish Head can make a splash into Deer Creek. "When Phish has played Deer Creek - and Dave Matthews -we had literally several thousand people wanting to come in, but we didn't have the capacity to let them in," says Lucas. Often, the disgruntled latecomers would linger in the parking lot or the countryside nearby, soaking up what they could of their beloved band's sound. This posed a security problem, and drew complaints from some area residents. Lucas, who had decided in 1998 that he wanted to expand the venue, said that such happenings only cemented his belief that the facility affectionately referred to as "The Creek" should continue to deepen its waters. "There's several alternatives (to the accommodation problem)," reasons Lucas. "One is to deny them access and let them wander all over country roads. Another is to build a few more thousand seats in and sell them tickets." As an up-to-date - and often, even ahead of its times - venue, Deer Creek and its ownership have never been adverse to change. So growing came rather naturally, really. "We try to make some kind of capital improvement every year that enhances the experience for the ticket buyer. This was our biggest capital expenditure ever committed, so we had to think about it, and we finally said, 'Let's just do it.'" So do it they did. Originally tabbed at around $800,000, Deer Creek's renovation cost has grown to around $1.6 million. That's the cost these days to See GROWTH on page 3 GROWTH SPURT The one drawback with Deer Creek, it seemed, was its relatively small size. Tucked neatly into 220 acres of Hamilton County farmland, the facility could hold an impressive 21,000 when its vast lawn space was added to its 6,147-seat pavilion. For most shows, that was more than enough. But some artists tend to bring out a little bit more than just your average throng of thousands of starry-eyed worshippers. Artists like Phish, for example. As heirs to the touring, free-wheeling, free-living phenomenon that was The Grateful Dead, Phish brings not only highly skilled musicians and all kinds of support per- Vhat Radio Station Gives Away Free Tickets Everyday From 9am - 5pm And Front Row Seats At Every Show? a. p c. 5s b. If15 d. If3 Jimmy Buffett has played 1 5 shows at Deer Creek It took 274 days to build Deer Creek The first rock concert at Deer Creek featured Cinderella who will appear this year with Poison There are 6,147 pavilion seats Steve Miller is the only artist who has played every season at Deer Creek Deer Creek Music Center sits on 220 acres in Hamilton County In 1992, John Mellencamp played 4 straight Flood Relief Deer Creek shows along with Blind Melon Singer-songwriter Lyle Lovett and actress Julia Roberts were married at Deer Creek Music Center The Year 2000 Season celebrates the 1 2th year for Deer Creek Music Center 1 Jimmy Buffett loves DCMC NOTABLE Miles of toilet paper used in an average season: 227 Amount of garbage collected in an average season: 200,000 (cubic feet) Number of flowers planted yearly: 30,000 Number of employees that work at a sold out show: 500 Amount of cigarette buds cleaned up every year: 2.5 million Gallons of water needed to flush toilets at a sold out show: 1 00,000 There are nearly 50 cell phones, 200 pagers and 400 pairs of glasses left on the premises every year Over 20,000 garbage bags are used every single season It takes 15 employees 6 hours to clean-up following a show The average decibel level reached at every show is 1 02 30-70 employees park people for each show 30-50 patron service employees work at every show DISCOVER Hamilton County THE SIMPLER SIDE OF INDIANAPOLIS Spend a getaway weekend RELAXING ON InDY's NORTH SIDE. Deer Creek Music Center Conner Prairie Premier GolfHotel Packages Train Rides Antiques Hotels and B&Bs Call 1.800.776.8687 for a free visitors guide! Carmr, Fishers, Noblesviile, Westfield, Cicero Hamilton County Convention and Visitors Bureau, Inc. www.visiicemralindiana.org

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