Since he was about 14-years-old, Kris Hopper has been a huge music fan. So much so that he now owns a record shop on the east side of Saint John.
For him, that love flourished at his first concert, a chance to see the iconic Canadian band, The Tragically Hip.
Over the years, he’s attended many concerts, particularly at TD Station, formerly Harbour Station, in Saint John, N.B.
“At that time, there was a lot of young people, like, there was a wide range of young, old, parents there with their kids,” said the owner of Secondspin Records.
Despite being in attendance for over 15 shows at the station, Hopper hasn’t been to one in recent memory. For years, TD Station, a 6,600-seat arena, has struggled to attract large artists on a regular basis.
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According to Hopper, the most significant gap has been in performances for the younger generations.
“Getting to go to those Hip shows and see Neil Young, and whatnot, it was very like — that changed me as a music fan, seeing it live,” Hooper said.
“It would be great if they could do that, you know, bring in some current acts.”
Earlier this week, the Harbour Station Commission announced a new company, OVG360, will become responsible for operating and managing TD Station.
“TD Station is one of the top sports and entertainment venues in Atlantic Canada and has been managed well by our own staff for the past 30 years. OVG360 is an internationally recognized leader in arena and venue management,” Commission Chair James LeMesurier said in a press release.
The release stated the move is an effort to increase the quantity and quality of live events.
This is the company’s first project in Atlantic Canada. To Date, OVG360 oversees operations and management at 24 properties in Canada.
In an interview Thursday afternoon, Dan Berger, the regional vice-president for Eastern and Central Canada at OVG, said the process will take time.
“Our goal absolutely is to improve the programming, there should be no doubt about that. What we try to do is we try to leverage our relationship with promoters, as well as our relationship with other venues,” said Berger.
Berger said Saint John presents an “enormous opportunity” for their business, which already operates venues in Bangor, Me. and Portland, Me.
A top priority will be to ink the arena’s largest tenant, the Saint John Sea Dogs, to a new lease. Berger said discussions have already begun to ensure the team calls Saint John home for the foreseeable future.
For Trevor Georgie, the president and general manager of the Sea Dogs, after years of “unnecessarily complicated” relationships with management, this presents a fresh start.
“For us, we’re looking forward to staying. Saint John’s our home, it’s been our home since 2005. We’re the longest-serving tenant in the building,” Georgie told Global News in an interview Thursday.
Fans and customers often can’t delineate between operations managed by the Sea Dogs and those managed by TD Station management, he said.
For example, the box office, ticketing platforms, concessions, ushers and arena sound are all arena management’s responsibility.
Georgie said OVG has shown a willingness to be a “tenant-first,” landlord, which can be important for the “vital” relationship.
“A vibrant TD Station with lots of events is a win for everybody, including the Sea Dogs,” Georgie said.
For OVG, Berger said the early stages will focus on understanding the venue’s challenges and successes before making any major moves.
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