Montgomery County and Live Nation, the $5.8 billion live entertainment giant, have held just one of a required 72 free or discounted community events at the venue to date, and have yet to agree on terms for the staging of a charitable auction that is supposed to take place annually.
Other commitments have been kept. County officials are enjoying about $1,000 a month worth of free tickets to Fillmore shows through a lease provision that provides the county with six tickets to every event, according to county records. In all, officials received more than $20,000 worth of waived ticket prices and fees through April of this year, allowing them entry to shows from performers including John Legend, Kid Rock, Ted Nugent, Anthrax, Blondie and Young Jeezy.
Live Nation says it has lived up to the terms of the deal, and that it is the county’s responsibility to coordinate community events. In the meantime, the entertainment company is happy with the results. It has hosted more than 300 events and 250,000 guests at the venue since its opening.
The Fillmore ranks in the top 5 percent of all Live Nation venues nationwide, including its 13 House of Blues venues, according to Jim Yeager, a public relations consultant for House of Blues Entertainment, the Live Nation unit that operates the Fillmore.
Yeager said that with a 2,000-person capacity the Fillmore is large enough to attract performers such as Imagine Dragons, Garbage, Trey Anastasio and Widespread Panic. “We’re extremely happy with attendance, show quality and buzz. We’ve had an extraordinary reception,” Yeager said. “It’s continuing to grow. It’s one of our premier venues in our portfolio around the country.”
Montgomery County officials also said they believe the deal has been a good one so far, both as an economic development engine and a community facility.
“The county is very pleased with the relationship and asset that has been established through the Fillmore presence in Silver Spring,” said Ramona Bell-Pearson, assistant chief administrative officer for County Executive Isiah Leggett (D), in an e-mail.
Others are less than enthusiastic about the returns, particularly since state and county taxpayers paid more than $11 million for the facility.
“One of the main reasons that people ended up supporting the Fillmore project is the promise of public usage, and now it seems like the public has been priced out of that usage,” said Evan Glass, who chairs the Silver Spring Citizens Advisory Board. “There are many people in the community who think this has been a bait-and-switch proposal.”