Behind the Scenes...

at The Allen County War Memorial Coliseum
Aug 7, 2023
Chelsea Scofield

If you’re from Fort Wayne or a surrounding area, chances are you’ve been to a concert at the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum. These massive productions come to life at the hands of many hard-working individuals, and the end result is an energy-packed, fun and exciting night for attendees. But what goes on behind the scenes? We have some answers for you provided by the amazing team at the Coliseum.

How does the Coliseum decide which artists are asked to come perform? It’s a general misconception that we initially choose the artists and tours that stop at the Memorial Coliseum. Instead, tour promoters often reach out to us first when they are in the process of routing dates for a tour. The first step is usually requesting us to hold dates on our calendar with possible tour stops. Once routing is finalized, dates are narrowed down and we always cross our fingers and hope Fort Wayne makes the cut! We frequently work with Venue Coalition, who connects tour promoters with venues to get more concerts booked and increase business for both the promoter and venue.

What teams/individuals are involved with preparing for these concerts?
 It takes a village to host an event! The concert timeline often starts with initial contact and booking, which is handled by our General Manager and EVP, Melanie Carney. Once the date is confirmed, our contract administrator prepares the contract and sends it off to the promoter. After the contract is signed, our ticket office begins building the event in Ticketmaster while our marketing team begins preparing for the event announcement. Once the event is announced, the operations team holds an advance planning call to discuss all details about layout, rigging, staffing and catering needs. From there, our catering manager begins preparing for the event by fulfilling requests on the Tour Rider and various department supervisors, including concessions, guest services, housekeeping, and security departments schedule staff for the event based on projected attendance numbers.

Can you explain to us what a Tour Rider is? What is the oddest request you’ve received? A Tour Rider is a list of requests or requirements from the visiting artist(s) and their traveling companions. This mostly includes food and beverage, toiletries and other requests to make the venue feel like home for the day. Tour Riders also include security requirements, details for selling merchandise and additional show day information. On Sept. 8, 2017, Kid Rock performed at the Memorial Coliseum. When we received his Tour Rider, tube socks were listed as a requested item. We purchased them and later found out why they were on the list the day of the show. Kid Rock says that his feet get sweaty when he performs, so he likes to change his socks multiple times throughout his performance.

Does the Coliseum have employees who are responsible for helping set up the stage? Our operations team helps oversee stage setup, and local union crews arrive the morning of the event to handle stage setup and rigging. The Coliseum normally provides the stage, and the tour brings all sound and lighting tech along with them. Stage and overall setup usually start around 8:00 a.m. and are completed by early afternoon, just in time for the first band to take the stage for soundcheck. A vast majority of the visiting artists do run a soundcheck before the show. Every venue is different, whether it be stage setup or acoustics, so touring artists find that it’s best to test sound, lights and run a warm-up before their performance.

Has there ever been an instance where a major issue was experienced close to showtime? There are so many moving parts during these events and there are always things that can go wrong. Ironically, the date of Feb. 16 has proven to be jinxed for the Coliseum.

On Feb. 16, 2008, the Coliseum was preparing for a sold-out Rascal Flatts and Kellie Pickler show. Late that afternoon, we were informed that a member of the band was sick and the concert needed to be postponed.

Fast forward to Feb. 16, 2009. We were scheduled to host Avenged Sevenfold and Buckcherry. Once again, a band member was ill and unable to perform. The concert carried on, but guests had to make the decision to see just one of the bands that night or receive a full refund.

Several years later we booked Justin Moore on Feb. 16, 2018. The concert went off without a hitch! Could the curse finally be over? 

Feb. 16, 2019 we were set to host Old Dominion. We weren’t free just yet! This concert was also postponed – the lead singer needed leg surgery.

Our last major concert prior to the pandemic took place on (you guessed it) Feb. 16, 2020. This one was KISS. The concert was a major sold-out success.

We’re crossing our fingers and hoping we’re free of the curse once and for all.

Is there a favorite memory you can share with us about one of the artists/shows? On Dec. 16, 2022, we hosted contemporary Christian pop duo For King & Country. The band is fronted by brothers Joel and Luke. This was the Coliseum’s first sold-out concert since before the pandemic, so we wanted to show our appreciation with an artist gift. Ahead of the show, I coordinated with Crazy Pinz Entertainment Center to plan an afternoon excursion for the whole band, filled with go-karts, laser tag, arcade games and more. When the band arrived that day, they were greeted with a gift basket courtesy of Crazy Pinz and a handwritten letter from our Marketing Communications Coordinator sharing the surprise. About 20 members of the band and crew joined in on the fun. Later that night, a couple of team members had the opportunity to meet Joel, Luke and his son and they were overflowing with excitement and appreciation. It was so fulfilling to see how much we made their day! While onstage, the guys even mentioned the sellout milestone to the crowd and thanked the Coliseum staff. We want every artist to feel special when they visit Fort Wayne!

Which artist has performed the most at the Coliseum? Christian music group NewSong has performed at the Memorial Coliseum 22 times! They have performed every year since 1999, with the exception of 2001, 2006 and 2021. Runner-up include Gaither Band (21), Newsboys (14), Kenny Rogers (13) and KISS (12).

What new artists would you like to host in the future? We’re eager to have the opportunity to host Jelly Roll. We would also love to host comedian Matt Rife and alternative bands AWOLNATION and Glass Animals. We took an in-office poll for artists our staff would love to host or have return: Noah Kahan, The Band Camino, Metallica, Depeche Mode, Nickelback, Foo Fighters, Nine Inch Nails, The Rolling Stones, Bruno Mars, Fleetwood Mac and Lauren Daigle.

Do the artists explore Fort Wayne? Some prefer to relax on their bus or in their dressing room, and others like to explore. Kelsea Ballerini took a trip over to Ulta, Alice Cooper purchased a sword at a local antique shop before his show, and Greta Van Fleet took their tour pup to a local dog park. Other artists like to golf or play basketball, and some go on excursions as part of their artist gifts. We treated the Koe Wetzel band and crew to an excursion at Deadeye Dick’s Axe Throwing & Bullseye Bar. 

Is there a funny/comical moment that you can recall that has either happened onstage, backstage or during preparation for a show? Country band Old Dominion performed at the Memorial Coliseum on May 2, 2019. In (early) celebration of Cinco De Mayo, the band and crew held a guacamole-making competition and requested spices in their Tour Rider. However, one of the competing groups wanted to get a leg up on their competitors and requested fresh ingredients from our chef. We were happy to help and hand delivered the ingredients to their dressing room! It’s a mystery as to which group won that night, but we always appreciate the opportunity to go above and beyond for our guests, backstage or front-of-house.

What is one of the most challenging parts of preparing for a concert? Especially in a post-pandemic world, the most challenging part of preparing for a concert or any event really, is staffing the building. From the parking booths to guest services and the ticket office, to concessions and behind the scenes, we’re always looking for additional staff to help us make events possible. If you’re looking for a part-time job and want to join our team, we welcome you! 

How many security guards/law enforcement officials are on site during a concert? The number of security guards and law enforcement on staff for an event is determined by projected attendance, as well as the number requested or suggested by the tour. 

Lake City Bank - Face to Face

Related Stories