BULLHEAD CITY — The Anderson Auto Group Fieldhouse has quickly become a popular spot for hosting different banquets, meetings, car shows, craft fairs, graduations and sporting events.
The spacious state-of-the-art facility is gearing up for its most ambitious event to date — Country Fest 2020.
This first-ever concert event, planned for Sunday, Feb. 16, features Grammy Award nominee Jo Dee Messina; popular area singer, songwriter and musician Matt Farris, of Lake Havasu City; and young up-and-coming country artist Charlie McNeal.
The show is a cooperative effort between the Bullhead Area Chamber of Commerce, the City of Bullhead City, the Colorado River Union High School District, Cameron Broadcasting’s KFLG radio and a handful of investors to gauge if an event of this magnitude will fly.
“This is the first concert at the fieldhouse, and we want to show the community this is a viable venue for big events,” said John Pynakker, president and CEO of the Bullhead Area Chamber of Commerce. “All of these entities are banding together. It’s not for the chamber’s benefit or government benefit, but to show a viable use of the fieldhouse and one of the ways it can be used.
“The city — Toby Cotter, city manager — originally brought this to us along with Mehdi Azarmi, of Fairway Constructors and Ludwig Engineering, to try to get another event in the fieldhouse,” he added. “The idea was to specifically show off the fieldhouse and the ability to put on large-scale concerts there. We also want to show off the venue as a viable option to other potential concert promoters.”
The city wants that, too.
“The city sees the Anderson Auto Group Fieldhouse as a major driver for additional economic development in the community,” Cotter said. “Thousands of people have already attended events and games at the venue. The upcoming concert put on by the Chamber of Commerce is a great way to further showcase the venue.
“The city will continue to encourage events and activities at the fieldhouse for the betterment of the community and for additional revenue for the school district,” he added.
Azarmi has had a vested interest in the area for many years as both a businessman and a community activist. His involvement in this concert is an extension of his commitment to the community.
“I’ve been here 30 years and I’m the past chairman of the Bullhead Area Chamber of Commerce board of directors and I am one of the executive board members of the chamber,” said Azarmi, one of the investors. “I’ve always been involved in the community and I’m aware of what’s going on around the area. The thing that was missing in our community is having entertainment with reasonable value for people in the community. We have this beautiful fieldhouse and we need to maximize its use, but we weren’t sure how to do something really nice for the community.
“So we met with the city manager, Toby Cotter; former mayor Jack Hakim; and Craig Powers, with Cameron Broadcasting, because they have extensive experience in the entertainment business; and the chamber to figure out how to go about it,” he added. “We knew we couldn’t bring in a tier-one artist because of the required multi-million dollar contracts they expect and we’re not there, yet. Then we looked around for a tier-two artist and discovered Jo Dee Messina, who has a number of hits and awards. She is on tour, going from Las Vegas to Phoenix and it just happened she was passing by our community.
“We asked if she’d like some ‘loose change’ to come in and perform for us,” he said. “That was the start of it.”
Azarmi said the concert also happens to fall on the same weekend as Presidents Day, also the same time Bullhead City plays host to an AYSO invitational soccer tournament for ages 10 to 19, that brings 8,000 people from Southern California, Phoenix and Las Vegas to the area.
“Since the tournament brings that many people to the area that weekend, we made the conscientious decision to combine the events as a marketing tool,” he said. “We’re encouraging people to come and watch their kids play during the day on Sunday, then at night enjoy a nice concert with reasonable tickets. In places like Phoenix, her tickets go from $150 to $175 each. Here, ticket prices are $25 per person, which is reasonable for the community. The show would be a very nice mark in our community, for our future. If this is successful, in the near future, other promoters could bring in shows similar to this one, and that was the purpose. They needed to have money up front and all of the investors have made the financial commitment necessary.
“The community came together to basically promote exciting large entertainment on the Arizona side, and not only is this a good use for the beautiful fieldhouse we have there, we’re doing what we can to get the word out to get the maximum exposure possible to all those who might be interested in getting a reasonable entertainment value — for $25 they can come to the concert and enjoy themselves.”
Organizers are planning on seating for about 6,000, but the fieldhouse has the capacity for up to 8,000 seats.
Tickets start at $10 for the bleachers, $20 for the stands and $25 for floor seats. Parking is free, but there is VIP parking for $10 per car. Tickets can be purchased at www.eventbrite.com. Food and beverages will be available for sale, including alcohol, according to organizers.
A lot is riding on this venture.
“The real goal is to showcase this amazing facility as a legitimate place to hold a concert,” Pynnaker said. “I know there are going to be concert promoters and producers at the event to see how the community supports it and how good the acoustics are for a concert, etc. It’s imperative that the community shows up and packs the place … I mean really, $25 for floor seats for three artists, including a nine-time chart-topping star. There’s also Matt Farris, a local favorite and newcomer Charlie McNeal, who’s making waves in the country music business at only 19 years of age.
“If this fails, I doubt we will be able to get another talent to come to the fieldhouse,” he said. “The chamber is very excited to put this on and we hope that everyone comes out and has a great time.”
For more information, contact the Bullhead Area Chamber of Commerce at 928-754-4121.