Over the last few months, I’ve heard about a number of large shows coming out of Rockstar Pro Arena in Dayton. While I hadn’t had a chance yet to personally make a show there, I was curious as to what’s going down at this venue, so late last month, I contacted and met with part-owner, GeeGee Bradley, to feature them on our second Venue Spotlight!
There’s a long history between GeeGee Bradley and the other two Rockstar Pro Arena (RSPA) owners, Chad and Ben Parker; more than 20 years worth of history in fact. The three met while working for well-known promoter, Ken Gross, at Sub Galley pizza and sub shop back in the 90’s, and Gross taught them everything they needed to know to start throwing DIY shows. The Parker brothers have spent a lot of time over the years promoting events, and Bradley spent a lot of time being a part of shows via various local bands. Though they each had other interests, their love of live shows just never went away, so when the opportunity presented itself to combine their loves of wrestling and live music, they seized the opportunity. Just under three years ago now, they began renting the large, warehouse space at 1106 E. Third St. and offering the community live music and wrestling matches, and they haven’t looked back!
When you enter the front doors of RSPA, you’re immediately transported to another world. There’s an energy of constant movement and transition in the air, and it’s easy to imagine a busy show night and a social buzz in the lobby like you usually only get at a really large arena concert. Making your way through the ticket and snack area, you pass through the doors into the main arena, where all the magic really happens. The main room has a serious underground vibe with its grey, hard concrete structure and high, open ceilings, but it also reflects a professional veneer with wood floors, office spaces, and clean, minimalist appeal. Another feature of the venue that gives it that palpable energy and underground vibe is that the stage pieces move from a concert stage to several smaller stages for the wrestler’s entrances, the announcers and the camera crew. The wrestling ring itself is a steel & wood structure that is completely disassembled & stored when there are non-wrestling events in the building.
RSPA’s formula for success revolves around diversification and making all events safe and fun! The wrestling events are a huge part of the success and the energy of the arena because they add an additional audience and number of events to the venue’s monthly schedule, but adding fun and safe concert events to their monthly shows really has helped them build a following.
Bradley and both of the Parkers are committed to the success of the wrestling aspect of the venue and have weekly matches as well as monthly pay-per-view events and matches shown on local DATV. According to Bradley, there is some crossover between the wrestling fans and the concert attendees, but not as much as you might think. As far as the fans go, he says they typically think of the wrestling arena and the concert arena as two separate businesses that just happen to exist in the same building. Occasionally, Bradley says, someone will have some misconceptions about wrestling or be confused and think that there is a wrestling match at one of their concerts or vice versa, but that’s not how things go down at RSPA. The wrestling trainees pay dues working event security, building sets, etc… Sometimes, the actual wrestlers who live in the area will pick up some extra cash working security but most of the wrestlers are wrestling elsewhere around the world when they’re not performing here. Those efforts really help make the venue a success, but RSPA doesn’t have matches during concerts or the other way around.
Along with the matches, the venue typically hosts around 1-4 concert events each month. They are showcase events, typically with national touring acts only, to maximize use of their large, open concert floor. Bradley believes that part of creating shows with high attendance is diversifying and appealing to a younger audience, and that appears to be corroborated when he tells me that somewhere around 50% of their audiences are under 21. It didn’t slip past my radar either when Bradley mentioned that he gets a great feeling whenever he sees parents bringing their kids along for shows and sees the generational transition of the love of live music being passed on. I can totally relate to that feeling.
Though the building currently has thick insulating foam and concrete walls, there have been a few complaints recently from neighboring businesses and residents in the area about noise issues. These seem to mostly stem from noise that occurs during daytime business hours and late night hours (not the events themselves), and RSPA has been attempting to work with the city, the police, the building owners, and the neighboring businesses and residents to put these complaints to rest. Bradley reported to Music Connection Dayton that they have never been fined or cited for noise violations and at a recent city meeting, RSPA was referred to as “a gem” and “one of the best things to happen to the area since the Dragons stadium”.
While some local venues may have security concerns about hosting large rap and hip-hop events, RSPA has never had any issues with fights or violence in their 3 years in business, even with a number of sold-out shows and lines out the door and down the street. What the wrestling aspect of the venue also helps provide is a trustworthy supply of men and women who can help cover the security of their events, and Bradley reports that RSPA feels this is a huge part of making the venue a success. RSPA reports that they have double the required amount of security at events, and Bradley said they work hard with bartenders to make sure they can recognize when is the appropriate time to stop serving any patrons who might have taken their entertainment a little too far. They also let their concert attendees really get into it, allowing moshing, stage diving and crowd surfing, and this helps alleviate a lot of tension and energy that builds up during large events. RSPA works extremely hard to make sure nothing ever gets out of control and all events are safe and fun for everyone attending.
|Show Days and Times:||Currently booking shows for every day of the week except for Wednesdays, though most shows occur on weekends or Tuesdays. This venue holds 1-4 shows per month on average. Shows typically start anywhere between 6pm and 9pm.|
|Musical Style Preferences:||This venue will feature showcase events with national and international touring acts. Genres range from punk, thrash, and metal to hip-hop, rap, reggae, electronic dance music (EDM) and other various genres.|
|Number of Acts / Show:||Number of acts per show will vary anywhere between 3 and 6 acts on average.|
|Ticket Prices:||All events are ticketed and prices typically average $10 in advance and $12 at the door, but event prices do vary depending on the show.|
|Booking Contact:||Email Isaac Reader at IK Promotions at firstname.lastname@example.org or contact the venue at email@example.com or click HERE! Please submit an EPK, requested show dates, and include “Concert” in the Subject line of your message.|
|Artist Payment:||Touring national, and international acts will be obtained via contract. All other artist payouts will be negotiated directly between the booking act and the venue.|
|Equipment:||House sound and lights will be provided. There are 24, remote operated, light cans. The stage is 24′ x 16′.|