Hall users optimistic about management

With a new management company taking over operations at Packard Music Hall, those currently using it are cautiously optimistic that JAC Management can continue to serve its existing users and expand offerings.

Tom Groth, executive director of the W.D. Packard Band, said, “I think in the transition everyone realizes the importance of the band to the music hall, and I think that will go on like it always has.

“I met with them at their offices at the Covelli Centre and was very impressed with what they have going on there. Bottom line is I think it will be good for the city of Warren. Eric (Ryan) obviously has the connections to bring in the entertainment.”

Jeffrey E. Dreves, president of the Warren Civic Music Association, said, “As long as everybody works together it can be a win-win.”

His primary concern is that the hall and its policies remain affordable for the organization so it, in turn, can keep its season tickets costs down.

“Our concern is not knowing what is going to happen,” Dreves said. “We did meet with (new general manager) Jim Bugos, and he assured us they weren’t looking to make any major changes right now.”

The contract signed with the city allows JAC Management to charge for parking, which hasn’t been done before. But Bugos said the contract language was necessary to give the the company the option in the future, perhaps as a way to offset the cost of bringing in a major act.

“Having to shell out cash to pull into the parking lot is not on our immediate radar,” Bugos said.

Dreves also questioned whether there would be restrictions on what sound company and other production support they would have to use.

Ryan, founder and CEO of JAC Management, said, “Like anything else, with a change in management there are going to be some changes. But our first and most important goal is utilization of the building. We need people who want to rent and utilize the facility. We want to do everything we can to work with people. On the other hand, we may have a better way of doing it and have some changes down the road.

“When people come to the facility, we want them to expect a certain level of entertainment. When you talk about a production company, we’re going to want it to meet our standards. If they meet our standards, we’ll be fine with it. If they don’t, then we won’t.”

Ken Haidaris, who operates Sunrise Entertainment with Marty Cohen, said he believes the change is a positive for the city of Warren, and a busy Packard Music Hall would benefit his other business the downtown Warren restaurant Sunrise Inn.

“Anything that gets people in this direction, that gets them out of the house helps,” Haidaris said.

And Ryan stressed that JAC and Eric Ryan Productions shouldn’t be viewed as a competitor for acts by Warren Civic Music or Sunrise Entertainment or anyone currently using the hall.

“We are a management company first and a promoting company second. If an entity bids a show to play the theater, we would never bid against them. Anyone who has promoted shows and events can tell you it’s a very risky business. Under the agreement with the city, the finances of the theater are completely our responsibility, and renting the facility without taking risk is the first priority of a management company.

“That being said, we want content and we want diversity. We will let the promoters and renters do their thing, never trying to step on their toes, while filling in the holes and bringing a different level of entertainment from time to time.”