Ticket Masters

Call it the little arena that could. The 14,500-seat Cleveland State University Convocation Center made the Pollstar "Top 50 Arena Venues in the World" for 2003. It entered the list at No. 43, two spots behind Gund Arena at No. 41.

According to Pollstar editor-in-chief Gary Bongiovanni, the weekly Fresno, Calif.-based concert-industry trade publication compiles its annual list based /n the total number of tickets sold for touring shows as supplied by each venue.

"We actively solicit it, but it is a voluntary reporting system," he explains.

lhe worldwide designation is a bit of a misnomer. Although there are some European arenas on the list -- the Manchester Evening News Arena in England, for example, came in at No. 1, posting 823,000 tickets sold vs. the Convocation Center's 156,768 -- most of the reporting venues are in North America.

During the past year, the Convocation Center played host to everything from concerts by platinum-selling rock princess Avril Lavigne to a self-help presentation by TV talk-show host Dr. Phil. Convocation Center general manager Joe Mazur in ,art credits SMG, which took over management of the center in 1999, for the increasingly full schedule of events. He says the facility-management giant, which runs 10 of the 50 sites on the Pollstar list, wields a measure of influence over smaller promoters looking to route a touring show.

PIn some instances, we have a ton of influence," he says. "In others, we don't."

Mazur adds that the university may eventually parlay the center's position on the Pollstar list into something even better: a lucrative sale of naming rights to the building.

-- Lynne Thompson

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