City news

National company to manage family-owned Orpheum Theater

As the Orpheum Theater is changing management, the venue will have to reapply through the the Alcohol License Review Committee for a license. 

Image By: Niamh Rahman and Niamh Rahman

Management of the Orpheum Theater will soon change hands from a local family to Live Nation Entertainment, a national event and concert promotion company.

Representatives of Live Nation, along with the current owners of the Orpheum Gus Paras and his family, met for a public hearing in the venue’s lobby Wednesday night to address questions about the transition.

Part of the change involves applying for a new liquor license. Adhering to City of Madison regulations, the public meeting was the first step before the Alcohol License Review Committee hears the case next week.

City ordinances require applicants to display a sign in their venue’s window advertising the public hearing, which must be held at least a week before meeting with the ALRC. However, they are not obligated to publicize the meeting. There were no community members in attendance.

While Gus Paras and his family will continue to own the property, Live Nation will take over all operations of the venue, including booking acts and managing concessions and the bar.

The Paras family bought the Orpheum in 2013 and currently owns the Comedy Club on State.

Gus’ daughter Eve Paras noted Live Nation has been booking shows for the Orpheum for the past two years. She said she believes the change in management will benefit not only the venue, but also the local music scene as a whole.

“We see it as a positive step forward for the Orpheum,” Paras said. “They have lots of resources to offer and lots of experience and all the best people in the industry who can only help Madison have more shows, have better shows, have better fan experience.”

David Solomon, a representative from the concession and liquor vendor working with Live Nation, discussed alcohol awareness and ID training he hopes to implement through the company.

While Solomon noted the Paras family management is “a tough act to follow,” he said he has faith in Live Nation’s experience and expertise.

“Fan experience to them is pre-eminent,” Solomon said. “If it can be improved, they know how to do it.”

Ald. Mike Verveer, District 4, said he also believes the change “will hopefully be a good thing for the community, and especially students.”

“Live Nation has the resources and worldwide reach to attract more events to the Orpheum and bring more acts to Madison that might otherwise bypass Madison,” Verveer said.

Verveer noted that the Paras family plans to remain involved in the Orpheum, as they spent millions on renovations and a new marquee sign that will go up soon.

The Orpheum’s liquor license application comes a month after Madison Mayor Paul Soglin requested a moratorium on new licenses, due to concerns of loss of space for retail. However, Verveer said the approval of the Orpheum’s license would not challenge the request.

“As I understand his proposal, the Orpheum would be exempt in that there’s an existing alcohol license there,” Verveer said. “It’s just one license replacing the other.”

The ALRC will meet to discuss the license April 20, and the issue will go to the Common Council at its May 3 meeting for approval.

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