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Hall of Fame Resort & Entertainment Company (HOFV) CEO Mike Crawford on Q2 2020 Results – Earnings Call Transcript



Golden Entertainment, Inc. (GDEN) CEO Blake Sartini on Q2 2020 Results - Earnings Call Transcript

Hall of Fame Resort & Entertainment Company (NASDAQ:HOFV) Q2 2020 Earnings Conference Call August 11, 2020 8:30 AM ET

Company Participants

Anne Graffice – EVP of Public Affairs

Mike Crawford – CEO

Jason Krom – CFO

Conference Call Participants


Good day ladies and gentlemen, thank you for standing by. Welcome to the Hall of Fame Resort & Entertainment Company Investor Conference Call. At this time all participants are in listen-only mode. Please note that today’s conference call is being recorded today August 11, 2020.

I would now like to turn the conference call over to Anne Graffice, Executive Vice President of Public Affairs.

Anne Graffice

Thank you, and good morning. By now everyone should have access to our latest press release SEC filings in August investor presentation. Everything can be found in the Investor Relations section of the Hall of Fame Resort & Entertainment Company’s website at

Some of our comments today will be forward-looking statements within the meaning of the federal securities laws. Forward-looking statements which are usually identified by the use of words such as will, expect, should, or other similar phrases are subject to numerous risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from what we expect, including without limitation, the negative impact of the Coronavirus COVID-19 on the U.S. regional and global economy and our financial condition and results of operations. Therefore, you should exercise caution in interpreting and relying on them. We refer you to our SEC filings for a more detailed discussion of the risks that could impact our future operating results and financial conditions.

During this call, we will discuss our non-GAAP measures, which we believe can be useful in evaluating company’s performance. These measures should not be considered in isolation or as a substitute for our financial results prepared in accordance with GAAP.

Joining me hosting the call today, we have Mike Crawford, Chief Executive Officer; and Jason Krom, Chief Financial Officer. With that, I’ll turn the call over to Mike.

Mike Crawford

Thank you, Anne, and thank you everyone for joining this morning. It is an absolutely fantastic day here in Canton, Ohio. We welcome all of you to our first call as a publicly traded company.

Before we start, I’d like to express some appreciation, and appreciation to our investors, our partners and sponsors for all their great support. We’re grateful for the conviction that our foundational investors have demonstrated to see us through the public offering and our official public listing following the merger with Gordon Pointe, which closed on July 01, 2020.

I also want to take the opportunity to thank our internal team for their tremendous work, their commitment, and support and lifting up the Hall of Fame Resort & Entertainment Company over the past months, not an easy task for sure. Due to the timing of the transaction close, this will not be a typical earnings call, but more to highlight our transition as a public company and our current situation after merging with Gordon Pointe. We’ll report a more normal course earnings call for the third quarter in just a few months.

Let me start by giving a strategic update of who we are, where we are, and where we’re planning to go as a newly formed public company. And we really capitalize on the tremendous opportunities ahead of us to generate and maximize significant long-term shareholder value. And I want to start by talking about what we consider to be our strategic and competitive advantage in the marketplace.

We are a unique position and have a multimedia approach that makes us the only company of our kind, fully poised to capitalize on the power of Pro Football. When you think about professional football and specifically the NFL, it’s truly an amazing organization, a 185 million fans globally and growing. In 2018, we did $15 billion worth of revenue and that’s projected to grow to $25 billion by 2027.

Television viewership in 2019 was up 5% to 16.5 million viewers per game, I believe 47 out of the top 50 ranked television shows last year were NFL football games. And viewership of NFL games on digital platforms also increased 51% for the 2019 season, so you can see the hunger and the passion for consuming professional football really at an all-time high.

Who we are as a company is pretty simple. We like to talk about honoring the past and inspiring the future. As a world class resort and sports entertainment company, we do what no other company can. We leverage unique brand partnerships with companies like the Pro Football Hall of Fame and the NFL Alumni Association, and create direct access to exclusive content for exceptional experiences across multiple platforms.

Our vision is simple. We inspire unique and exhilarating sports and entertainment experiences that maximize growth and fan engagement. Our mission to create exceptional sports inspired destinations, media and gaming experiences that uniquely leverage those brand partnerships I spoke about and direct access to the exclusive content that we can create from those.

I’m really proud of the leadership team under the category of who we are. We’ve assembled really a world class team that has an average of 30 years of experience working with top brands. And not only are they experienced, but they’re committed. They have a proven track record of success with companies like P&G, Hershey, The Walt Disney Company, the Cleveland Indians, the Cleveland Cavaliers and also the NFL and our intention is to continue to grow great talent to deliver the results that we will be speaking about.

What we are is a multi-dimensional sports and entertainment company focused on three business units. The first is themed experiential destination assets. And I’ll talk about the focus of Canton, Ohio in just a moment. But we also intend to create those destination assets across the U.S. as well.

The second business unit is media and creating original content out of those brand partnerships and access – direct access to exclusive IP. And lastly, gaming and as we all know, gaming is continuing to grow and become more and more popular as a way in which fans engage with the sport of professional football. And so we’re focused on fantasy sports, eGaming, and sports betting as part of that business unit.

Let me start by talking about destination-based assets and where we are. As you know, we have a fantastic asset here in Canton, Ohio, called the Hall of Fame Village Powered by Johnson Controls.

In Phase 1, we built a set of assets worth $250 million already in operation and welcoming almost 1 million guests per year. We have a world class football and performance stadium called the Tom Benson Hall of Fame stadium. We built the National Youth Football & Sports Complex where we host hundreds of thousands of youth league participants and athletes every single year. And we also stood up our Hall of Fame Village media company. We’re already in production of great content that I’ll speak about in just a bit.

But now what we’re focused on is creating Phase 2, actually creating the assets that will develop the destination, and the destination has the potential to continue to grow beyond this next phase, this phase will represent approximately $300 million worth of new asset creation. And unlike other companies or other Hall of Fame’s that are out there, we have the luxury of land, so we have up to 600 acres of land to continue to grow and develop upon adding new assets and new entertainment for guests to come back to over and over again.

We want to be able to react to guest trends and demand and add assets that will increase length of stay. And also just give something guests that we can market and drive penetration into new markets over the next several years. We have phases three and four already thinking about those and on the drawing boards, and we’ll talk more about those in the coming years.

I often get asked, why would we build a destination resort in Canton, Ohio, and the answer, frankly, is pretty simple. It is the birthplace of professional football. It’s also where our great Pro Football Hall of Fame is located. But beyond those two answers, we are strategically located in a very prominent position in the Northeast and Midwest. And we’re surrounded by 10s of millions of people that are frankly starved for this type of entertainment asset to come and enjoy and be immersed in.

Approximately 32 million people live within a five-hour drive radius of Canton, Ohio, in the Hall of Fame Village powered by Johnson Controls. And just as important, we’re surrounded by football fans, half of the NFL franchises are located within an eight hour drive radius of Canton as well. And these fans spend a lot of money on their teams and they enjoy watching them, both in the stadiums and outside.

And interesting statistic that I always like to quote is, only 7% of fans will ever get to see a professional football game inside of a professional football stadium. So when you add up all of those variables, and you think about creating an immersive destination here in Canton, we really feel like we’ve got a great recipe for long-term success.

The assets that we’re talking about in this next phase, really give us a chance to not only allow people a place to stay when they come to visit us, but also a place to be entertained, to be immersed in the environment of professional football. And so, we’re building things like hotels, we’ve done a deal a partnership deal with Hilton. We’ve acquired a Downtown Hotel in Canton, Ohio about five minutes away.

That hotel has been under renovation for several months. In fact, we’re doing about $21 million worth of renovation to that hotel. We’re on schedule to open sort of late fall of this year, allowing us to drive revenue for the company and for our investors. We also have an on-site hotel that will be a Hilton Tapestry Hotel. This will be a premium football-themed hotel again, allowing guests a place to stay while they’re here to play and participate in many events that we host year round.

We want to entertain our guests, so we’re building an indoor football-themed technology driven waterpark. We do have some bad weather here on occasion in Canton, Ohio in the Northeast. And so, really having this indoor immersive waterpark environment we feel would be a very nice entertainment asset for our guests to enjoy. We’re creating a Centre for Excellence and in fact this is an expansion of a sponsorship with Constellation Energy to create this facility.

Think mixed use development that includes research, incubation around furthering the sport and specifically football. In topics like player care and wellness and nutrition, maybe equipment development, we’ll have a TED talk facility in this location allowing us to bring in Hall of Famers or NFL or alumni to give speeches and coaches clinics. And we’re really excited about the location of this destination being in the West End Zone of our football stadium and home to our jumbotron that will really enhance the guest viewing of games and events being played here in the Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium.

We’re continuing to grow our indoor capacity with our Center for Performance. This will also be home to our NFL Alumni Academy, and I’ll speak about that in just a moment. But this highlights a great partnership that we announced a few months ago with the NFL Alumni Association. This is a facility if you think about indoor field house meets convention space, it allows us to diversify sport into basketball and volleyball and wrestling, holding indoor band and cheerleading competitions.

And then it’s a dual use facility that could potentially allow us to have auto-shows home and garden festivals, things of that nature. So really maximizing the footprint and bringing different types of audiences to the campus year round. You can’t have a campus without having a very cool and unique green space. So we have a location on campus called play-action Plaza. This will be a football-themed area for recreation, food and beverage, maybe some event programming and attraction programming, and really enhance the guests visit while they’re here.

And then lastly of course, we want to feed our guests so we have a 82,000 square foot Retail Promenade that will feature some very unique restaurant retail offerings. And also some different sports entertainment offerings as well think Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, sports entertainment offerings. And so, now we’re creating a place where you can stay and play at the Hall of Fame Village powered by Johnson Controls.

We also want to think about offsite asset development. And we’ve continued to develop a strategy around that. If you think about potentially having restaurant and bar footprints in every NFL major franchise, city, or maybe many museums, it’s extending the brand and being in locations where football fans really have passion for being immersed in these types of experiences.

As we grow assets, we also want to grow our events, and our live entertainment strategy. Events, I like to refer to these as sort of the lifeblood of a destination like the Hall of Fame Village. Since 2017, we’ve continued to grow our slate of events, both sport and non-sport, on-site year-over-year and of course, we kick off the annual NFL preseason with the Hall of Fame Game, our fantastic enshrinement event, the Black College Football Hall of Fame Classic.

But now as we add new asset and create opportunities for guests to come and fans to visit, we can develop an even more robust event scheduled to include meetings, speaking engagements, diversify sporting events, private parties, and so much more. And so, we’re excited about as we add assets, we continue to grow events, and that produces great revenue for us. And also gives guests a chance to come back to campus over and over again.

Youth sports has become sort of a cornerstone of who we are as a company. We like to say, we not only develop the athlete on the field, but we want to develop the character of these young women and men as well. In our Hall of Famers and NFL Alumni have been great coming back and being coaches in our clinics in our academies. We run a very robust youth program on-site. We’ve welcomed over 500,000 athletes to campus since opening our National Youth Football and Sports Complex in 2017.

And we hope to double that as we continue to add more outdoor fields and indoor capacity over the next five years. Programming of this nature is very important also it drives horizontal integration in terms of revenue growth for hotel nights, meals, merchandise, purchases, entertainment and other facets of the campus as well. We run offsite youth football tournaments across the country in many of the NFL franchise cities today and we hope to expand that in the near future with our partnership with the NFL Alumni Association as they also run a very robust youth sports program.

You may have seen yesterday a press release that we put out from the President’s Council on sports, fitness nutrition, and we were recognized as a National Youth Strategy Champion. This was an incredible recognition from our perspective. It was given a commitment to our investment in youth athletes around the world for hosting these types of sporting events, camps, clinics and tournaments.

I felt like it was a great recognition for our team and all the hard work that we put in, but also our dedication, as I said to developing the next generation of great athletes here on campus and off campus as well. Not only does youth sports provide us an opportunity for live entertainment and horizontally integrated revenue generation, but it also helps us with media and our media division and providing exclusive content that I’ll speak about in just a moment.

But as we think about that second leg of the stool, the Hall of Fame Village Media Company, our focus is really to become a great content development company. There are plenty of production and distribution channels out there. In fact, we partner with some of them today. And our intention is to continue to grow those over time and those partnerships. But as I referenced earlier, we have great brands partnerships with the NFL Alumni Association and Pro Football Hall of Fame.

This allows us direct access to Exclusive Content & the Largest Collection of Football Memorabilia in the world. Think about 50 million pieces of audio, video, imagery and the ability to mine those – that content and create great stories that we can then distribute across multiple different channels and distribution for sport and football content demand has never been higher than it is today.

And so, distribution through social media, broadcast over the top media streaming direct-to-consumer, we feel content is king and our approach is very simple. Again, we want to produce the exclusive football focus programming. And we also want to continue to grow our slate of live events and we’ve had significant national broadcast coverage of many of those events to-date. Events like National High School Football Signing Day, The World Bowl High School All American Game we’ve hosted and the World Youth Football Championships that occur here every December right in Canton.

We’re excited about the partnership I referenced with the NFL Alumni Association and bringing a new NFL Alumni Academy to our Centre for Performance. Think about this as an academy that has the ability to develop the next generation of NFL athletes being trained by ex NFL head coaches, player position coaches, and ex NFL athletes themselves. These are kids that are incredibly talented, maybe missing one little facet of their game.

We bring them here, we develop them and they go on to a great career in the NFL. If you think about media from that perspective, I like to call this a made for television show the road from Canton to the NFL, and who knows maybe even back to Canton to the Hall of Fame. And so, we feel like we have a great slate of live sport content that we’re going to continue to grow and our go-forward strategy from a media perspective is to continue to build a world-class media team.

We’re in process of doing that now, create programming in four primary categories, feature films, primetime television, family shows, and kids programming, continuing to advance that content creation and partnerships that can help support us doing that and really evolve our network of production and distribution partners. And so, we feel like media, for us is a great channel to continue to diversify revenue and grow our brand presence in that particular arena.

I spoke about the third long pole in the tent as I opened and talked about who we are as a company and that’s Hall of Fame Village Gaming. And as we all know, gaming includes multiple different verticals, eGaming, sports betting, fantasy sports. And I’ll start with eGaming, we really look at eGaming as sort of the connective tissue that potentially integrates all of our company business units.

If you think about youth sports, it can increase engagement. And we run those youth sports tournaments all across the country. Our operational capabilities can enable us to run eGaming tournaments in addition to those youth sports tournaments all around the country. You can have Hall of Famers playing young athletes. You could have Hall of Famers playing Hall of Famers. We could build a purpose built asset here in Canton to run eGaming Championships.

We could have offsite asset development include facilities where eGaming tournaments could be run as well. Media the opportunity to broadcast and stream eGaming has never been higher than it is today. The demand for that content in the absence of live sport has continued to grow. And I think it will continue to grow as live sport comes back. This is a multibillion dollar industry projected to be almost $7 billion by 2027.

A compound annual growth rate of almost 25% from 2019 and we really think about this in terms of monetizing across sponsorship, media advertising, publisher fees, merchandise and admissions. Again, content is king. And we think we have great content and partnerships that we can flow through this eGaming vertical.

When you talk about sports betting, just an amazing statistic since 2018, Americans had legally wagered more than $10 billion on sports. And that 2018 timeframe was when the U.S. Supreme Court permitted states to legalize sports betting. While it’s not legal in Ohio, we are poised to take advantage of existing brand partnerships, and our own fantasy league and eGaming components, all of which can be designed to accept sports wagering.

We’re also looking at exploring online partnerships in this space to take advantage of sports betting opportunities that can create revenue streams immediately while awaiting the legalization of gambling in Ohio as well. And so sports betting for us is something that we feel like enhances how fans engage with professional football. And with our brand sponsorships, our Hall of Famers our NFL Alumni, our access to exclusive IP we really feel like as a brand and as a company, we bring a lot to the table to partner with these sports gaming companies.

Lastly, under the gaming, vertical fantasy sports, and I can tell you, we could not be more excited about our entry into the Fantasy Sports world. In 2018, Fantasy Sports represented about $14 billion of revenue. The global market for Fantasy Sports is expected to grow to $33 billion by the end of 2025, a compound annual growth rate of 13.2%. Again, you can see these gaming verticals growing at double-digit growth year-over-year.

We made an announcement a couple of months ago that I was very proud of in acquiring the majority interest in the Crown Fantasy Football League. The first professional Fantasy Football League that really built itself on a franchise model. So if you think about the NFL today, and having franchise teams and all these 32 different cities around the country, our approach will be very similar. And we’ll talk more in more detail about this in the coming months.

But to give you some highlights, we intend to build franchise teams that we also will populate with front office managers, and these front office managers can be fantasy football experts. They could potentially be our Hall of Famers. They could potentially be famous NFL Alumni. Again, subject matter experts that would be able to select their teams make trades, manage their teams throughout the season.

And then lastly, giving our fans an opportunity to engage in a community-based environment where they can have what we refer to as ownership through their entry fee, and participate in these franchises. And so, now it’s no longer Mike Crawford selecting his own team individually, in a Fantasy League competing against other individuals. We have a chance to set up a league where teams can play one another.

You can imagine sports wagering occurring on those teams or on those games. You could also imagine media coverage of those games. And we think this is a really unique and different way that we will bring fantasy to life. We intend to launch our league in the fall of 2021. With those Geo-based franchises that I referenced, and the remainder of this year, we’ll start talking about where those geographies for those franchises will be.

The naming of those franchises, the front office management of those franchises, and then allowing guests to sort of select, which, team they want to back and become a part of. This is an incredibly exciting opportunity for us and one we’ve been focused on, again in terms of mitigating risk in our company and diversifying where revenue streams are coming from.

Gaming for us is exciting as well in the context of multiple different opportunities to monetize our current and future gaming businesses. Live events, meteorites, sponsorships, gambling, affiliate relationships. Again, the power of professional football, our affiliation with the brand partnerships and the intellectual property that we can bring to bear I think we have a great chance to grow this business unit over the coming years in a very substantial way.

I want to talk about also the great partners and sponsors we have in place today. And I want to do it from two different perspectives, firstly, from a revenue perspective. We have today committed sponsorship revenue, representing over $120 million of long-term value in the bank, signed sponsors with companies like Johnson Controls, Constellation Energy, First Data Fiserv, PepsiCo, Turf Nation, Zenith.

And yet we really haven’t started to engage in a meaningful way in sponsorship because we wanted to wait until we had additional asset creation, additional live sport and non-sport events and the growth of our other business verticals to maximize the value of sponsorship for us. We’re projecting to grow to almost 30 million of annual sponsorship revenue by 2026. And I’ll talk about how we get there in just a moment.

Partnerships are also an important part of running a company from our perspective, not only do we have a great internal team that is committed to the success of this company, for our shareholders but we’ve built a roster of world-class partners to guide the development of our physical assets and assist in leveraging the power of Pro Football into unique and immersive experiences across a wide range of platforms.

And so I spoke about that partnership with the NFL Alumni Association. They will be headquartered here in Canton, that Alumni Academy developing the next generation of great athletes. The partnership on the Youth Sports program is absolutely fantastic. The Hilton relationship allowing us access to a very powerful hotel brand and booking engine we think will help us bring guests to our destination both on and off campus.

We signed a deal with ASM Global to manage the stadium operations for us, [Turner and Hunt] our construction managers. We partner closely with visit Canton the tourism bureau to bring in new and unique types of entertainment and events into the city that we can host. And we have many more partners that are really helping us execute our game plan on a much broader scale.

Just going back to sponsorships, I wanted to highlight the fact that as I spoke about we really haven’t engaged in a meaningful way and some of the primary categories. We’ll turn our attention in the near-term to categories like alcohol and banking, auto, carbonated beverage and growing our relationship there, telecom, insurance and many others.

And that’s how we intend to take a very stable source of revenue today around $6 million annual revenue growing to almost $7 million and then adding those types of categories growing this almost $30 million by the year 2026. So a very important component of the company’s revenue stream over the next several years.

I’ll continue just by saying, you know, we are a company that is poised to develop both in Canton and continue to grow our brand around the country, and we’ve already done so with our presence in Youth Sports, and our partnership with the National Football Alumni Association will really help us grow that as well.

We’re focused on creating virtual contact and points of contact to ensure that we’re engaging with sports fans in unique ways where they’re already spending time and money on the sport of football. And we want to continue to build an offsite physical presence. As I said there has been announcements already about a Pro Football Hall of Fame Restaurant experience in Las Vegas, and also a Pro Football Hall of Fame Mini Museum in Myrtle Beach. You can imagine those kinds of experiences continuing to grow in every NFL major franchise city with us bringing in our other business units, and then potentially having eGaming tournaments, fantasy draft, sports betting where that’s legalized in states, access to Memorabilia, maybe with a slant towards the team that we’re focused on in that particular city really energizing these facilities with great programming.

And so our goal is to continue to grow our brand and our touch points over the long-term, but engage with fans in a meaningful way over the very near term as well. The vision that we have for the company, as you can see goes well beyond creating a single destination in Canton, Ohio, and I’m proud of the work that we’ve continued to do so far.

Let me now turn the call over to Jason, who will give you an update on our financial position and discuss financial results. Jason?

Jason Krom

Thanks, Mike and good morning, everyone.

I’ll start with providing some context on the SEC filings that we’ve made over the past 24 hours. Given that the company was formed from the merger with Gordon Pointe, which was completed on July 01, 2020, our financial presentation this quarter is not typical. The Form 10-Q that we filed includes only Gordon Pointe’s results for the second quarter since the transaction closed the day after the quarter ended.

In addition, we filed the Form 8-K, which highlights the results of HOFV for the quarters and six months period ended June 30, 2020, as well as pro forma condensed combined financial information of the company for the six months ended June 30, 2020 in the year ended December 31, 2019.

Also included in our 8K filing is our new investor presentation, updating the information provided in our prior presentation from the second quarter. I’m going to focus my comments today on the pro forma balance sheet as of the close of the transaction, as well as the projected sources and uses for Phase 2 developments as we look forward.

In terms of our post-close capitalization, our capital structure highlights include cash of approximately $25.9 million inclusive of some restricted cash balances. Gross debt net of cash of about $81 million including the senior term loan of $34.5 million, related party subordinated loan of $13.4 million, and private convertible financing of $20.7 million.

Shares outstanding of 31.8 million shares and 17.4 million warrants, which equates to 24.7 million shares. Looking ahead to Phase 2, we expect costs to be around $300 million. Capital funding sources are projected to include approximately $240 million in new Phase 2 campus construction financing, about $55 million in additional ED files and other equity financing, about $70 million in combined net public financing, including TDD or Tourism Development District Financing and TIF or Tax Increment Financing. $21 million in financing for the DoubleTree, and approximately $25 million in balance sheet cash at the close of the Gordon Pointe merger.

The uses of these funds are expected to be split as follows; approximately $300 million for Phase 2 campus development, $28 million for corresponding Phase 2 financing costs, $21 million for the DoubleTree renovation, $34.5 million to repay the senior term loan debt and we’re also targeting about $25 million to be on the balance sheet for working capital purposes.

By the time construction on Phase 2 is complete and operational, we target having approximately $150 million of annual run rate revenue across those key pillars that Mike talked about earlier in our call specifically destination assets, our media platform, and our gaming vertical.

I’ll now turn the call back over to Mike for some closing remarks.

Mike Crawford

Thank you, Jason. And thank you, Anne. We really appreciate all of you taking the time this morning to tune into our call and we’re excited about where this company is, and where it’s going.

I want to reemphasize the five key pillars of our investment thesis. First, the opportunity to partner and invest in powerful brands and the most profitable sport in the world. This doesn’t come along very often, and as I joined the company a year and a half ago, I recognized this opportunity as being very unique and special to us as a company to continue to grow and develop upon.

Second, the ability to leverage the power of professional football and create multiple business verticals across an integrated platform. Third, direct access to exclusive content through our brand partnerships with Pro Football Hall of Fame and the NFL Alumni Association. Fourth, our significant revenue EBITDA and cash flow growth profile.

And lastly, and probably most importantly, the experienced and talented team we have assembled to execute our game plan rooted in our vision and mission. And that also includes our partners and sponsors that I referenced earlier, I couldn’t be more proud of the work that they have continued to do. And I can tell you, they’re committed to making this company as successful as it can possibly be for the long, long-term.

We believe we have a rare platform, unifying live entertainment experiences, and content to extend the intense and enduring connections of passionate football audiences and fans that span generations.

I want to thank you again for your time today. We look forward to providing an update on our continued progress when we report our third quarter results in a few months. And I really want to wish you and your families a safe and healthy summer during these really difficult times.

Thank you and we’ll look forward to speaking to you again very soon.


Ladies and gentlemen with that we will conclude today’s conference. We do thank you for attending today’s presentation. You may now disconnect your lines.

Question-and-Answer Session

Q –


Capturing the entertainment proclivities of racing fans



Simon Fraser, XB Net: Capturing the entertainment proclivities of racing fans

Simon Fraser, XB Net: Capturing the entertainment proclivities of racing fans
Image Source: XB Net

Simon fraser, Senior Vice President of International at XB Net, discusses how XB Net is taking the sting out of protracted integration processes for sportsbook operators.

Backed by 1/ST Technology, Fraser walks us through the ways that XB Net is helping bettors to engage in all aspects of horse racing, before explaining how the company plans to use the Breeders’ Cup to broaden North American racing’s international reach.

SBC Americas: For those that might not know, can you tell us a little bit about XB Net? What’s the story behind the company and which markets are you targeting?

SF: XB Net provides a comprehensive North American racing service to international gaming operators across both fixed-odds and pool betting. The service covers the popular codes of thoroughbred, quarter-horse, harness and greyhound racing. Our key markets currently include the UK, Ireland, France, Italy, Turkey, Australia and New Zealand.

We manage the rights and distribute this premium content (data, odds, live broadcast and video streaming) on behalf of a broad progressive portfolio of global partners, allowing them to deploy ground-breaking technologies to attract and educate new audiences.

We’re lucky enough to be backed by a true powerhouse in 1/ST Group, whose consumer-facing brand forms a world-class technology, entertainment, and real estate development company with thoroughbred horse racing wagering at its heart – anchored by best-in-breed horse racing operations at the company’s premier racetracks, including (to name but a few): Santa Anita Park, Gulfstream Park – home of the Pegasus World Cup Championship Invitational Series; Laurel Park and Pimlico Race Course – site of the legendary Preakness Stakes.

And now the stateside stage is set for this year’s flagship finale at the Breeders’ Cup World Championships (5-6 November) in Del Mar. It all represents 1/ST’s continued movement towards redefining thoroughbred horse racing for a modern audience, and optimizing the ecosystem that drives it.

As a result, we can draw from an unrivalled network of over 60 North American tracks which account for over 75% of U.S. racing, opening the door to many of the planet’s most prestigious horse races.

SBC Americas: How is XB Net ensuring that it stands out from the competition?

SF: That aforementioned deep well of resources and racetracks isn’t a bad place to start from when you’re trying to positively delineate XB Net from the competition. And as a basic premise, we are planning to work with our partners across the globe to increase the awareness of North American horse racing, both as an exciting sport and as a high-quality betting medium.

By harnessing low-latency feeds from more than 2,500 meetings, showcasing over 25,000 races per year, North American racing is steadily accruing more global viewers and bettors, especially after a spell in which the pandemic has badly disrupted, if not decimated, so many events on the typical sporting calendar. While many of those sports have since recovered from the treatment table, North American racing – which mostly continued unaffected during the outbreak – has largely retained its enlarged audience share.

In the UK, some of that success and enduring retention can be attributed to the popular nightly pictures on Sky Sports Racing, whose friendly, informative GFN was instructive in “home-schooling” many new viewers to North American racing during the lockdowns.

Accordingly, with many heads having been turned by North American racing, the sport is now pulling up a comfortable seat in their wider entertainment choices. Particularly considering the nature of its rapid-cycling events, which conveniently fill the recreational gaps for drop-in audiences who might like a bet. Providing the right content at the right time remains so important, wherever you stick your pin on the international map.

XB Net’s steady stream of short-form premium content captures eyeballs and improves digital hang-time, allowing our partners to engage untapped audiences, deliver 24/7 horse racing, and also guard against any unforeseen impediments to the global sporting calendar.

SBC Americas: Tell us about your EasyGate™ products. How are they eliminating the complexity of North American racing?

SF: EasyGate is a breakthrough multitote technology and software architecture, providing structured race content, betting pathways and secure track video streams to our partners. Long story short, EasyGate navigates an intuitive path through the complexity of North American racing (from streaming formats to different data sources and their multivariate components), and also simplifies access to other content from other countries.

We give operators everything they need to succeed and take the sting out of protracted integration processes – just plug in and go, whatever the channel.

SBC Americas: Tote betting, and arguably horse racing in general, across the UK has had a tricky few years. How is XB Net making sure that racing is still the ‘product of choice’ for your partners?

SF: Our ability to present North American racing as a fixed-odds product allows us to take advantage of the UK market where Tote betting will always be a marginal betting product. Elsewhere, innovation around in-running betting can really allow horse racing to catch-up on any lost ground and reconsolidate its market position.

The complex variables of horse racing have meant this sport, for so long the retention backbone of many operators, hadn’t previously been able to seize the opportunities that other sports have secured with in-play. After all, nowadays, betting products must smoothly transition from pre-play to in-play, which is why operators must employ the latest trading tools and reactive in-play odds to attract modern-day audiences.

XB Net has now successfully trialed a ground-breaking feed that couples the Starting Price with the best of automated trading via Total Performance Data’s (TPD) astonishing array of consequential in-running analytics, including stride length, stride frequency and sectional timings enabled by saddle-cloth GPS tracking. These variables are accordingly harvested in-play by TPD’s machine-learning trading tools whose algorithms train themselves on race pace for precise pricing that delivers a distinct step-change in live fixed-odds wagering.

SBC Americas: How does your company help bolster revenue and support sometimes struggling traditional racetracks?

SF: I’d take issue with the word struggling. On the US side of the pond, the prize money at most tracks is very positive and betting turnover is up significantly. As a core technology in the wider arsenal of 1/ST and 1/ST Technology, XB Net is part of a broader company wide goal to sustain a successful business model while ensuring all stakeholders who work in the industry are cared for and supported.

That means delivering a fresh and holistic racing experience for the fans which captures the entertainment proclivities of every age group at the racetrack, especially the younger generation that is coming through. We are embracing this challenge and opportunity (sometimes two sides of the same coin!) at every touchpoint we have with our customers.

Just take our recent efforts with Historical Horse Racing (HHR) and how these terminals can provide workarounds for their local racetracks, increasing revenues where slots aren’t legal. As a result, HHR games can bolster revenues at traditional racetracks through direct new gaming revenue for operators who are directly tied to horse racing.

We also pay back a percentage to each host racetrack for every single wager placed, using each respective track’s historical races. This is akin to the simulcast live horse racing host-fee structures, in addition to paying horse racing industry stakeholders for the requisite historical race information data (e.g. Equibase).

At the tracks, our teams are working to modernize the horse racing experience, leveraging technology to bring an on-demand, digital experience to our customers. Ultimately, we’re targeting a growing audience looking for quick-fire action and engaging gameplay experiences driven by end-user thinking and the best interfaces that support that. Providing opportunities for consumers to engage in all aspects of horse racing – from live racetrack visits to simulcast viewing, online wagering and mobile – is the best way to grow our sport in a modern world.

SBC Americas: XB Net holds the international distribution rights for the upcoming Breeders’ Cup. In what ways is this agreement helping to broaden North American racing’s international reach?

SF: Self-evidently, our three-year contract extension with the Breeders’ Cup was a welcome endorsement of our team’s efforts over the past few years. The agreement comprises worldwide broadcast and video-streaming distribution rights from the Breeders’ Cup whose 2021 renewal, consisting of 14 Championship races and over $31 million in prize money and awards, is fast-approaching (5-6 November) at Del Mar racetrack in California next month. Del Mar is one of my favourite venues in all of sport, and its most common epithet of “where the surf meets the turf” tells you what sets it apart.

When the standard-bearer for elite North American racing selects you to further broaden the international reach of its world-class festival, you must be doing something right, and I’m pleased to say that sports fans and bettors around the globe can look forward to even more coverage of the World Championships.

You’re even seeing a suite of domestic host broadcasters (for example Sky Sports Racing and ITV in the UK) broadcasting all 14 races this year, which is ideal for growing the sport. Of course, the increasingly international make-up of these fields, bringing the best horses together from all around the world, only adds to the allure and transcendent appeal of the Breeders’ Cup for global audiences.

SBC Americas: And how will you help optimise and increase the returns to North American racing following what has undoubtedly been a challenging economic period?

SF: For us, it’s all about expanding markets and coverage, coupled with enhancements to our cutting-edge technologies. We’ve already launched in India, while we also have new Tote and fixed-odds roll-outs set for Asia and Africa.

Regarding the race tracks themselves, the more we can add to the service, the better-value our proposition will inherently become through sheer economies of scale. Again, we can return these cost advantages to the tracks. That even applies in Australia, where we’ve recently agreed a deal to add thoroughbred racing from the principal racing state of Victoria to our service which runs off the same infrastructure. We’re thrilled to be able to add more world-class contests for our partners, with the Victorian Spring Racing Carnival already capturing players’ imaginations.

As for what’s under the hood, we’re always refining and fine-tuning, despite having some of the most durable and trusted tech around. For instance, we actually just classified our pari-mutuel totalisator and fixed-odds wagering platform as a “legacy” product.

Instead, we’re replacing it with a next-gen wagering platform that will play a key role as 1/ST Technology continues to deliver on our vision to build upon the strengths of our current gambling platform while also extending its capabilities (e.g. quickly adding new bet types) – increasing speed to market, enhanced support of our customers’ needs, and unlocking the ability to efficiently onboard new consumers via verticals such as sports betting, esports, and other emerging opportunities. In short, it will allow us to react to the market with peerless agility.

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Window on Arts & Entertainment: Oct. 14, 2021 | Diversions



Window on Arts & Entertainment: Oct. 14, 2021 | Diversions

The Majesty of Rock set to perform at First Friday Seminole

SEMINOLE — The Majesty of Rock, one of Florida’s most prestigious bands, will salute the music of Journey and Styx at First Friday Seminole, on Friday, Nov. 5, 6 to 9 p.m., on the main street in front of Studio Movie Grill at Seminole City Center, 11201 Park Blvd. N., Seminole.

Sponsored by Seminole City Center and The Rotary Club of Seminole Lake, this will be the final First Friday Seminole of 2021. The event will feature a variety of Seminole City Center merchants, food, prizes, and games, as well as a special concert by The Majesty of Rock. Attendees are asked to bring their own chairs. Coolers are not allowed. Vendors other than Seminole City Center tenants are not permitted.

The Majesty of Rock features the voice of John D’Agostino, coupled with the exceptional musical talents of four equally sophisticated and experienced musicians. That combination soon propelled the group to become one of the premier Journey reverence bands of our time. The band strives to re-create the exact sounds and nuances of Journey. Their passion for authenticity and attention to detail go a long way toward ensuring that the audience feels like they’re at a real Journey concert.

While the band has enjoyed performing the music of Journey, front man John D’Agostino also loves another American super group: Styx. Turns out the rest of the band are huge Styx fans, too. So, they began adding some of Styx’s best tunes to their already expansive repertoire of Journey material.

CWP to stage ‘Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike’


The cast and crew of the Carrollwood Players Theatre production of “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike” include, front row, from left, Kaedin Cammareri, stage manager; Jason Goetluck as Spike; and Pauline Lara as Nina; and, back row, Se’a Ryan as Sonia; Stephanie Russell Krebs as Cassandra; Kenneth Grace as Vanya; Kari Velguth as Masha; and Alicia Spiegel, director.

TAMPA — Carrollwood Players Theatre will present its production of “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike” by Christopher Durang, running Oct. 15-30, at the theater, 4333 Gunn Highway, Tampa.

Tickets are $24. Tickets now on sale at Performances will be Fridays and Saturdays, 8 p.m.; and Sundays, 2 p.m. For information, call 813-265-4000 or visit

“Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike” won the 2013 Tony Award for Best Play.

Middle-aged siblings Vanya and Sonia share a home, where they bicker and complain about the circumstances of their lives. When Marsha, their movie-star sister, swoops in with her new boy toy, Spike, old resentments flare up, eventually leading to threats and chaos. Contributing to the excitement are a sassy maid who can predict the future, and a lovely young aspiring actress who can’t. Audiences will discover why Durang is lauded as the master of mining the absurdities of human folly.

Presented with the support of the Arts Council of Hillsborough County and the Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners, this production will be directed by Alicia Spiegel.

“‘Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike’ is not exactly a well-known show, and the title can be a bit hard to remember … but audiences won’t soon forget the hilarious storyline,” Spiegel said. “I think everyone will relate to the family/relationship dynamics in this modern comedy laced with emotional baggage and heartfelt moments.”

The cast features Kenneth Grace as Vanya, Se’a Ryan as Sonia, Kari Velguth as Marsha, Jason Goetluck as Spike, Pauline Lara as Nina, and Stephanie Russell Krebs as Cassandra.

“Our cast has been perfecting their characters for almost a year a half since we were supposed to put this show on in April 2020 before the world changed,” Spiegel continued. “Luckily, CWP has decided to put it on this season and we are very ready to entertain audiences. They will be treated to sibling rivalry, a sexy young man barely wearing anything, a clairvoyant housekeeper whose predictions can’t be trusted, and a sweet girl next door who doesn’t know what she’s in for.”

“Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike” is presented by special arrangement with Dramatists Play Service Inc., New York.

Carrollwood Players offers a limited number of free tickets to every performance for low-income families receiving Florida SNAP benefits. For more information, visit

Syd Entel Galleries to present Borowski glass exhibition

SAFETY HARBOR — An opening reception for a new glass exhibition by the world-famous Glass Studio Borowski will take place Friday, Nov. 12, 4 to 7 p.m.; and Saturday, Nov. 13, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., at Syd Entel Galleries and Susan Benjamin Glass Etc., 247 Main St., Safety Harbor.

The Borowski’s “Odd Birds Walk of Fame,” a tribute to 20th century celebrities in glass, will run through Nov. 27. The show is open to the public. Gallery hours are Tuesday through Friday, 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. For information, call 727-725-1808 or email

Borowski is one of the leading modern glass studios worldwide. Stani Jan Borowski transforms the iconic Fat Gonzo light object into the wildly successful Odd Bird Series. The Odd Bird series has continued to grow into a collection of 22 famous celebrities from the world of art, music, media and science. These hand-blown glass creations are a work of art, unique and distinctive. All are wildly imaginative with recognizable characteristics of the many famous characters, such as Pablo Picasso, Vincent van Gogh, Elton John, Micheal Jackson, and Marilyn Monroe.

In addition to the Odd Bird Series, the gallery will have on hand a huge selection of work from the Borowski art objects, studio line and outdoor collection.

Cool Art Shop presents artisan holiday ornament tree

DUNEDIN — The Professional Association of Visual Artists will celebrate the upcoming holiday season with the annual Holiday Ornament Tree featuring handcrafted artisan ornaments, holiday décor, small gift items, and holiday greeting cards by various PAVA fine art and fine craft artists.

The tree is on display at The Cool Art Shop, 1240 County Road 1, Dunedin, in the Independence Plaza Square, through Thursday, Dec. 23. An open house reception will take place Friday, Oct. 15, 6 to 8 p.m., at the shop.

In addition to the Holiday Ornament Tree, The Cool Art Shop also displays and sells PAVA’s artists’ artwork which is comprised of an impressive collection of both visual and functional art for sale in both 2D and 3D mediums including painting, ceramics, photography, mixed media, drawing, pastels, sculpture, and jewelry in all price points. The artwork is rotated on a 6- to 8-week basis to keep the artwork fresh and new. Shop hours are Wednesday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

PAVA is a nonprofit organization run by volunteer artists to serve local artisans and support the arts community in the Tampa Bay area. It provides exhibition, education and grant opportunities for its members. Additionally, PAVA supports local art centers, and is a local sponsor of the Pinellas County Regional National Scholastic Art Awards where scholarships are provided to students for art instruction. Visit

Mat Kearney concert canceled

CLEARWATER — The Mat Kearney concert scheduled at the Nancy and David Bilheimer Capitol Theatre on Wednesday, Nov. 3, has been canceled.

Ticket holders will be contacted about refunds. For more information, visit

Creative Clay virtual exhibit opens

ST. PETERSBURG — Creative Clay presents “Celebrating Disability Employment Awareness,” October’s virtual exhibit, featuring artwork by Creative Clay’s member artists who actively create, market and sell their work. The exhitib opened Oct. 9.

This new exhibit coincides with National Disability Employment Awareness Month. According to the United States Department of Labor, the theme this year is “America’s Recovery: Powered by Inclusion,” which reflects the importance of ensuring that people with disabilities have full access to employment and community involvement during the national recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Creative Clay promotes inclusion by empowering its artists to create art that is exhibited in its Good Folk Gallery, exhibited throughout the community and online, and market themselves as working artists. Many of Creative Clay’s member artists engage in training for potential employment. Creative Clay’s artists receive commission on all works sold.

NDEAM is held each October to commemorate the many and varied contributions of people with disabilities to America’s workplaces and economy. Employers, community organizations, state and local governments, advocacy groups and schools participate in celebrating NDEAM through events and activities centered around the theme of America’s Recovery: Powered by Inclusion.

Creative Clay’s Virtual Gallery also includes the artwork of many of Creative Clay’s member artists. All artwork is for sale through our online gallery at

St. Pete Arts Alliance awards to help young artists

ST. PETERSBURG — Awards received from the St. Petersburg Arts Alliance’s Funding Futures Program allowed 14 talented Pinellas County students to attend an arts camp this summer.

These students aspire to be musicians, actors, dancers, writers or visual artists. Creative Clay, American Stage, St. Pete MAD and others nominated creative, aspiring at-risk and/or low income students to attend their arts programs for the summer while parents of these students filled out applications showing artistic and financial need.

St. Petersburg Arts Alliance’s Funding Futures programs are dedicated to helping students nurture their creative interests and develop their expressive talent by providing funding to eligible students and connecting them to local after school arts programs or summer arts camps.

“It’s not just about the art for these students,” said Tracy Kennard, associate director of the St. Petersburg Arts Alliance. “It’s about gaining confidence, understanding collaboration and feeling compassionate towards others and how the simple act of learning new artistic traits, can teach skills that are the building blocks of a promising future in any industry.”

The St. Petersburg Arts Alliance’s Funding Futures Student Award program is designed to identify and encourage talented at-risk and/or low income emerging artists, ages 10-17 in Pinellas County seeking St. Petersburg programs in the categories of dance, music, jazz, voice, theater, digital arts, photography, cinematic arts, literary or visual arts. Funding Futures is open to all talented artists regardless of ethnic, social or economic background, or ability/disability.

Major funding sources from Tampa Bay Times Employee Matching Gifts, Suncoast Credit Union Foundation, and the Jacarlene Family Foundation have helped build the Funding Futures Grant Program for the past six years. For information on supporting this program, visit

Livingston Taylor, Tom Chapin concert rescheduled

CLEARWATER — Due to a scheduling conflict, Livingston Taylor and Tom Chapin have rescheduled their concert at the Nancy and David Bilheimer Capitol Theatre.

Tickets purchased for the concert on Friday, April 1, will be honored on the new date, Sunday, April 3, at 8 p.m. Tickets, starting at $29, are on sale now. Visit

Sinbad show postponed

CLEARWATER — The Nancy and David Bilheimer Capitol Theatre recently announced stand-up comedian Sinbad has postponed his upcoming performance scheduled for Saturday, April 16, at 8 p.m.

Tickets will be honored on the new date to be announced soon. For more information, visit

Steep Canyon Rangers reschedule Capitol Theatre show

CLEARWATER — The Nancy and David Bilheimer Capitol Theatre recently announced that the Steep Canyon Rangers concert originally scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 13, at 8 p.m., has been rescheduled.

Tickets will be honored on the new date Saturday, Nov. 5, 2022, at 8 p.m. Tickets, starting at $25, are on sale now. Visit

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Window on Arts & Entertainment: Oct. 7, 2021 | Diversions



Window on Arts & Entertainment: Oct. 7, 2021 | Diversions

Dunedin Wines the Blues music lineup set

DUNEDIN — The Downtown Dunedin Merchants Association recently announced the lineup for this year’s Dunedin Wines the Blues event, set for Saturday, Nov. 13, noon to 11 p.m., on Main Street in downtown Dunedin.

The 30th annual Dunedin Wines the Blues will offer attendees an opportunity to walk around the downtown area businesses, shop, eat, and browse a selection of street vendors. This year’s festival will present three stages of nonstop blues, with live music performances beginning at 2 p.m.

VIP tickets are on sale and include unlimited drinks and food as well as access to the VIP lounge area with couches, tables, stage views, big screens and VIP-only desserts and signature drinks. The VIP tent is open from 5 to 11 p.m. VIP tickets cost $125. For tickets, visit

Following is the music lineup for this year’s Dunedin Wines the Blues event:

Main Stage

  • 2 to 3:15 p.m. — Selwyn Birchwood
  • 3:45 to 5 p.m. — Beth Mckee Funky Time Band
  • 5:30 to 6:45 p.m. — Johnny Rawls Band
  • 7:15 to 8:45 p.m. — Damon Fowler
  • 9:15 to 10:45 p.m. — Vanessa Collier

West Stage

  • 2 to 3:15 p.m. — Ellie Lee Band
  • 3:45 to 5 p.m. — Steve Arvey
  • 5:30 to 7 p.m. — Alex Lopez
  • 7:30 to 9 p.m. — Sarasota Slim

East SBS Stage

  • 2 to 3:15 p.m. — Trey Wanvig
  • 3:45 to 5 p.m. — T Bone Hamilton
  • 5:30 to 7 p.m. — Brian Leneschmidt Band
  • 7:30 to 9 p.m. — Dottie Kelly Band

Performers and show times are subject to change without notice. For information, visit

Author releases new book, announces book signings

Reedy Press recently announced the release of “Tampa Bay Scavenger,” by Joshua Ginsberg.

You might think you know Tampa Bay, maybe even the weird, wonderful, and obscure parts of it, but get ready to take your exploring in an innovative and interactive new direction. With “Tampa Bay Scavenger,” you’ll embark on a gamified experience in the Tampa Bay area, complete with over three hundred clues to solve spanning seven counties.

From museums to natural wonders, historical markers, bars and restaurants, sports stadiums, and public artworks, you’re bound to discover something new and unexpected. Be the first one to solve all the riddles, take the whole family out on an adventure, or just find a creative excursion for a few hours as you unlock the hidden face of the Tampa Bay area.

Ginsberg — an author and local explorer — brings years of research and a poet’s sensibility to each of his carefully outlined quests. Follow along with the website and the #TBScavenger Facebook group for a truly interactive experience. It just might be the most elaborate and ambitious scavenger hunt that Tampa Bay has ever seen.

“Tampa Bay Scavenger” is available wherever books are sold.

Ginsberg will host several book signing events in the coming weeks. Book signings are free and open to the public. Copies of the book will be available for purchase. The author will take part in the following book signings:

  • Saturday, Oct. 9, 2 to 5 p.m., at Cueni Brewing Company, 945 Huntley Ave., Dunedin
  • Saturday, Oct. 23, 5 to 8 p.m., at Bastet Brewing, 1951 E. Adamo Drive, Tampa
  • Saturday, Oct. 30, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., at Clearwater Historical Society, 610 S. Fort Harrison Ave., Clearwater

Studio 1212 to launch new exhibition

DUNEDIN — An opening reception for “What a Relief” will take place Sunday, Oct. 17, noon to 3 p.m., at Studio 1212 Art Gallery, 234 Monroe St., Dunedin.

Participating artists will be on hand. Light refreshments will be served. The exhibit will run through Nov. 28. Studio 1212 is open Wednesday through Sunday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Visit the gallery’s online store at

Gulfport venue to present Amazing Acro-cats show

GULFPORT — The Amazing Acro-cats will perform four shows, running Friday through Sunday, Oct. 22-24, at the Catherine A. Hickman Theatre, 5501 27th Ave. S., Gulfport.

Performance times will be Friday, 7 p.m.; Saturday, 3 and 8 p.m.; and Sunday, 1 p.m. Tickets start at $30. Visit or

The Amazing Acro-cats — featuring Tuna and the Rock Cats — are a troupe of rescued house cats. This one-of-a-kind, two-hour long “purrformance” features talented felines roll on balls, ride skateboards, jump through hoops, and more.

The finale is the only all-cat band in the entire world: Tuna and the Rock Cats. The current band lineup features St. Clawed on guitar, Bowie on drums, Nue on keyboard, Ahi on woodblocks, Albacore on cowbell, Roux on trumpet, and Oz on saxophone. There is even a chicken named Cluck Norris rockin’ the tambourine.

Featured on the Netflix docu-series “Cat People,” Tuna and the Rock Cats have also appeared alongside Stephen Colbert on his late night show, as well as PBS and Animal Planet.

Murals coming to two Pinellas Trail tunnels

LARGO — Creative Pinellas and Pinellas County Public Works have partnered to bring four new murals by Pinellas County artists to the Fred Marquis Pinellas Trail tunnels at U.S. 19 in Tarpon Springs and Alternate U.S. 19 in Palm Harbor.

The artists’ mural designs for each tunnel face have been inspired by public surveys and meetings that were part of the artist selection process that occurred this summer and revealed a community that enjoys the sunshine and outdoor life, and appreciates the scenic landscape filled with Florida native plants and wildlife. The locations for the murals were selected as part of the Pinellas County Public Works Graffiti Abatement Art Program.

“Creative Pinellas is proud to be part of this multi-mural project on the Pinellas Trail,” said Barbara St. Clair, CEO of Creative Pinellas. “It is an opportunity to not only assist in Pinellas County’s effort to combat graffiti, it also brings talented Pinellas County artists in to create pieces that will engage the trail users in a new way. The new murals will add to the identity of the Pinellas Trail as a destination location in Pinellas County.”

The Palm Harbor location, just north of Wall Springs Park, will feature Taylor Smith’s design “Wetland Herons” that includes two great blue herons with an organic color scheme meant to highlight the beauty of Florida’s coastal wetlands on the south tunnel face, while the north tunnel face design by Yhali Ilan, “Island People,” celebrates the coastal lifestyle in North Pinellas through the use of vibrant plant life, people enjoying the beaches, and water related activities.

The Tarpon Springs location, just north of Live Oak Street, will include the design “Sun Tribute” created by Daniel Barojas (a.k.a. R5, Rope5) on the west tunnel face. The design is a stylized representation of the sun, an essential part of Florida lifestyle. Ricardo Delgado’s (Reda3sb) design “Birds and Flowers” also incorporates the sun, setting into the sea, vibrant flowers and tropical birds, to celebrate nature and Florida life on the east tunnel face.

The Pinellas Trail Mural program is a partnership between Creative Pinellas and the County with goals of defeating graffiti, building excitement and interest, and fostering community beautification projects. Since the beginning of the program, local artists have completed two murals in Palm Harbor and one along the Pinellas Trail overpass in Largo.

“Extending the graffiti abatement program to the Pinellas Trail exemplifies the County’s strategic plan goals to invest in our transportation infrastructure, maximize partner relationships and support a vibrant community,” said Tom Washburn, Pinellas County Public Works Transportation Division Director. “We are pleased to partner with Creative Pinellas and the Florida Department of Transportation in this effort to improve the quality of life for our residents and visitors.”

Artists will be working over the coming weeks and through mid-October. Both locations will remain accessible for trail users while the artists work.

For information about the project, visit

Cracker Country to presents annual Tall Tales of Old Florida

TAMPA — Tall Tales of Old Florida will be presented Saturday, Oct. 23, beginning at 6:45 p.m., at Cracker Country, a living history museum found at the Florida State Fairgrounds, 4800 U.S. Hwy. 301 N., Tampa.

Each walking tour will last 60 minutes. This event is recommended for ages 6 and older. Admission is $14 per person and includes a snack. An advance purchase price of $12 per person is available through Oct. 17. Tickets are sold in time blocks. Tickets and more information available at

Attendees will explore Tampa’s 19th century living history museum by night. Along the way, they will meet storytellers who will spin wild yarns about a few of Florida’s unexplained oddities. A little scary, a little funny and always family friendly, the Tall Tales tour is a Florida history adventure by lantern light.

Cracker Country is a living history museum that represents aspects of home life, commerce and transportation as it was in many rural Florida communities at the end of the 19th century. During the Tall Tales of Old Florida tour, “tellers” will share uniquely Florida stories about skunk apes, misbehaving trains, cow hunting giants and other legendary creatures. Guests will also enjoy a magic lantern show, featuring a turn-of-the-20th-century projection technology that led to the birth of the film industry.

Guests are invited to come early and enjoy Victorian games and activities before their tour begins. Afterward, have a complimentary snack and do some holiday shopping in the General Store.

Chic Décor & Artisan Market set

SAFETY HARBOR — The Fall Chic Décor & Artisan Market will take place Sunday, Oct. 10, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., at 411 Main Street, Safety Harbor.

The Chic Décor & Artisan Market is returning to its home location in Safety Harbor.

This unique hybrid market highlights some of the best home décor artists, vintage pickers, and indie artisans in the Tampa Bay area. The Fall Chic Décor & Artisan Market will feature over 120 local décor artisans, vintage treasures, and furniture featuring assorted styles like coastal chic, farmhouse, shabby chic, cottage glam, and industrial. There also will be food vendors and live entertainment.

Parking and admission are free.

L.O.L. Surprise! Live show rescheduled

CLEARWATER — L.O.L. Surprise! Live scheduled for Wednesday, Oct. 20, at Ruth Eckerd Hall, has been rescheduled.

L.O.L. Surprise! fans in Clearwater will be able to rock out in real life when the all-new hologram concert tour crisscrosses the United States and makes a stop at Ruth Eckerd Hall on Thursday, May 5, at 6 p.m. Tickets purchased for the Oct. 20 performance will be honored on the new date. Tickets, starting at $28.75, are on sale now. Visit

St. Pete Arts Alliance to present Second Saturday ArtWalk

ST. PETERSBURG — The Central Arts District, EDGE District, Grand Central District, Warehouse Arts District, Uptown Arts District and downtown Waterfront District will united to celebrate “ARTober” for the St. Petersburg Second Saturday ArtWalk, set for Saturday, Oct. 9, 5 to 9 p.m.

ArtWalk is opening night as some 40 galleries and studios premiere new works, with artists and demos on-site. It’s impossible to take in the entire ArtWalk in one night. Attendees should plan to drive, walk, or take the trolleys to visit the districts of their choice — or utilize the free Downtown Looper, which will run every 15 minutes.

To download the map and list of participants, visit

‘Legendz of the Streetz’ show rescheduled

TAMPA — Amalie Arena recently announced that the “Legendz of the Streetz” Tour has been rescheduled.

Originally set for Sunday, Oct. 17, the show will now be presented Friday, Nov. 12, at 7 p.m. All tickets bought will be honored for the rescheduled date. The tour will feature hip-hop heavyweights Rick Ross, Jeezy, Gucci Mane and 2 Chainz. Tickets, starting at $50, are on sale now. Visit

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