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12 May 2014

Are Smaller Venues the Way Forward for Impact?


Several weeks ago TNA announced they would be running the Sands Bethlehem Event Center and the Manhattan Center for Impact Wrestling TV tapings in June. The interesting thing about both announcements was the size of the venues, which are much smaller than the venues TNA normally run for TV/PPV events. With the arenas TNA have selected, as well as Dixie Carter revealing there is no scheduled return to the Impact Zone, it begs the question “Is this the way forward?, will future TV tapings on the road be held in smaller arenas?” and if so, has it been planned for months?

Late last year TNA taped two One Night Only PPV events on the road for the first time ever, one was in the Lowell Auditorium in Lowell, MA, while the other was held at the Mid-Hudson Civic Center in Poughkeepsie, NY. Back when the shows were announced, I put it forward that maybe TNA were considering running smaller venues for future TV tapings, and that the ONO shows were sort of trial runs to see how the shows would look and sound in a smaller building. At the time both TNA's Road Taping status as well as their deal with Universal Orlando were up in the air, so to me it seemed logical they would be looking at cheaper ways to do TV's on the road in-case the deal with Universal Studios fell through. Now that Dixie Carter has announced that TNA don't have a return to Orlando planned, these upcoming tapings indicate to me the strategy may have very well changed, and TNA's vision moving forward is taping Impact Wrestling in smaller venues.

To me, it's a very logical direction to move in, there are several pro's to it that can really help the company in several different aspects. First of all, running smaller venues will be cheaper, for years TNA have had Impact tapings at venues they couldn't fill, and only ended up using half of the building, which indicates that the profit from a rent vs ticket sales standpoint has either been small or non-existent. By running smaller venues, the rent for the building will be less, and TNA can get the full use out of it by being able to fill most, if not all of it with fans, which means they can attain maximum profit from the shows. With shows being cheaper, it will give TNA a much better chance of being able to go on the road regularly and not suffer loses like they did last year, as well as invest the money saved into other parts of the company.

The shows will look and sound pretty different too. A downside look-wise will be the entrance set-up being more scaled back, but the silver lining to that is they will save money not having to transport and use the current set-up. One downside in the past to TNA doing road shows was only a portion of the arena having fans seated in it, which made several production problems. Very few fans were sat nearby the production pit where the main crowd microphones are based, and also the camera crew had to shoot awkward angles so they didn't show the empty sections, and in the cases where they had to, it took viewers out of that big show atmosphere. Using smaller buildings gives TNA the chance to fill almost every seat in the house, which will allow them to shoot almost every angle, as well as pick up the crowd reactions much better due to more fans being closer to the production pit and in a more confined space.

I expect the strategy to only apply to Impact tapings, which in that case would create a visual difference between the TV show and PPV's. Last year during the On The Road run, I was kind of disappointed that the PPV's and Impact's looked exactly the same, and some Impact crowds such as Chicago & SLC were better than the crowds at Slammiversary & BFG. If they decided to run smaller venues for Impact and save the bigger one's for PPV's, it would add to the big event feel of a PPV, and create a clear visual difference between Impact Wrestling and a TNA PPV. You can then market Impact TV tapings as more of an intimate experience, where fans surround themselves with fellow fans & get right into the thick of the action, similar to a small concert, while the PPV's are more like a bigger sports event where some fantastic wrestling takes place. 

It would also allow TNA to go to new markets and eliminate quite a lot of risk. When they were touring last year, TNA broke into many new markets for the first time, some were successful, but others were not. Now if TNA are running smaller buildings, they don't have to spend as much on rent and they don't have as many seats to fill, which could allow them to visit many new locations and not really suffer at all financially. If TNA go ahead and start taping Impact in smaller locations, I'm all for it. Some will claim that it's a step down, which it kind of is, but the fact is I'd rather see 1,500 people in a smaller arena as a capacity crowd rather than the same amount in a 6,000 seat arena that would make the show look low rent. It should create a great vibe for Impact, allow them to tour TV across the U.S, hopefully turn a nice profit at every taping and give the company some positive energy & momentum by filling venues on a regular basis, which is why for me, it is absolutely the way forward as it pertains to taking Impact on the road.  

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