City Looking to Bring Big Entertainment Back

GFL Memorial Gardens

The GFL Memorial Gardens could start seeing more entertainment come May.

City Council will be asked to consent to a one-year contract with California-based live entertainment consulting company Venue Coalition during Monday evening’s meeting.

This partnership would help the Gardens book more musicians as well as touring productions. Currently, Venue Coalition helps around 70 North American arenas book acts, including the Canadian Tire Centre in Ottawa, the Peterborough Memorial Centre, and (closest to the Sault) the Sudbury Community Centre.

If approved, this will cost the City around $18,495 over the first year and approximately $20,550 per year after.

“If the city agrees to enter into this partnership, it would create unique buying opportunities to leverage as a group of municipalities in Ontario,” Community Director Brent Lamming said in a report to Council.

“Essentially the partnership would contribute to a higher success rate when acts are touring in Ontario.”

Although Venue Coalition will be expected to book the majority of acts, City staff are still permitted to seek out entertainment options themselves.

GFL Arena Manager Robert Santa Maria will be in charge of ensuring these acts aren’t losing money for the city.

Since it opened in 2006, the GFL has hosted around 200 events, eight of them in 2018.


  1. The “200” events that the arena claims since 2006 is so misleading it’s almost fake news. Curling for five days which drew crowds of about 200 per day, and you certainly can’t count (this is not a joke, it’s on the GFL website) the St Mary’s Graduation Ceremony, or NHL Alumni etc. These are gatherings that wouldn’t even fill the Machine Shop. A true event is Motley Crue, Elton John, Jerry Seinfeld, Megadeth, Bryan Adams…..anything that attracts less than 2500 people would not, in my opinion, be considered an event. if I were to do a quick analysis of real events we’ve had here in the Soo………………I would say that we have had about 20 big names since 2006 and at least 70 per cent were in the first five years. I watched council tonight and for some reason, either the video streaming skipped….but I didn’t see them vote on it. I did, however, hear some really challenging questions about a measly 20K to spend on a company that specializes in bringing in entertainment. One of them was basically…….” is there any recourse if they don’t bring us any acts?” ….something to that effect …I was floored…..the company in question will do everything they can to score events for us….if not, they won’t get rehired.. I couldn’t believe that question…..but hey…..we are all entitled to ask questions…Cheers, I hope that the vote was carried out and passed. Btw … I think Brent Lamming is a forward thinker and understands that if the city wants to play on the big stage, it has to be proactive and not sit around waiting for the entertainment to fall into our laps ….because they won’t.

  2. What a pleasure really to read as much as I have been able to prioritize time for to this point in time!

    Truthfully, real and regardless of whatever the differences at present.

  3. Part of the problem is that GFL Memorial Gardens is too small for most touring companies to stop at to make enough money. One has to remember that a stop here means another days pay for every truck driver / bus driver and roadie in addition to all the admin staff behind the artist. Big names sell out in minutes here but 5000 seats doesn’t make enough for the big shows. We need an outdoor festival area in our city, The Machine Shop area would be ideal with a 10,000 capacity, professionally built for concerts and run professionally, close to hotels and transit. Liability and insurance issues with large crowds and drinking and driving closed down Cornfest and The Castle year’s ago but bring the entertainment to the city and the resources to deal with the crowd and the big acts might actually think about stopping in. There is nothing in that capacity for hours around…which is why we don’t see the acts very often.

  4. They can get all the biggest show in the world but it won’t make a difference if they don’t promote it properly, that’s always been one of the biggest problems about the soo. We hear about an upcoming event almost a year in advance, then nothing till the night of the event if we are lucky, and then we hear that it was a poor turnout… Hmm, I wonder why?

  5. Gracious me what a huge blunder was made in the past over that property.

    I remember feeling so deeply irked while on Queen Street looking over the building and noting I was not far from a local person in dentistry. I think involved a lot with hockey. The memory is so clear to me asking him who was going to pay the taxes as I was sure he supported what was done to that land.

    • What about operational costs as more businesses were closing resulting in the future looked seriously bleak in terms of enough decent wages with steady work for a lot.

    • Excuse me, would you please? I innocently made an oversight by typing the word” blunder “. That means not deliberate in my choice of thinking.

  6. it’s about time….you have to spend money to make money….quite the no brainer; hopefully on Monday, there are no more “studies” or consultations and we can get some big names back here. It was done successfully for quite a few years when the new arena opened and it brought Millions of dollars in revenue to hotels, restaurants, and the local workforce. This city needs to quit shooting itself in the foot. We live in the middle of Canada and on the American border.

    • Sure glad you emphasized in your own words the often foolish reliance on pointless papers (reports) though I think you disagree with having so it seems to me any of that (reports) period.

      There really has been so many decades of waste and pointless talking over the obvious in terms of logical or sensible money management.

      Albeit you and I do not agree on all of the very big issue(s) definitely in my mind.

      It does not need to result in becoming enemies or creating a hostile environment.

      Certainly that is not in my mind.

  7. People need to remember, bigger acts = higher ticket prices. So the same people who are always complaining that the kind of acts they want to see are not coming here will be the first to say how outrages the prices are.

    • There is a bigger picture involved in this issue of public entertainment. I mean that I have not read in any of the responses from any of you to this point, in time.

      I really am not showing off or playing some one up or any kind of mind game.

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