Summer 2008
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Future of Fair Park is dazzling, fast-moving and the height of fun.

Season of standing ovations guaranteed at Dallas Summer Musicals.

Museum summer camps are the best for creating, solving, building and exploring.

A Fair Park Fourth presented by Dr Pepper will dazzle with Fireworks by Grucci and on-the-ground celebrations.

Goal of new gates: create friendlier first impressions.

Getting really in tune
with his audiences.

Mike Tabor: Now performing what crowds want at Center

Mike Tabor does double duty as GM of Center.
What’s a numbers guy from a small town in Texas doing amidst the glitz and frenzy of one of the country’s top big-city concert venues? Mike Tabor, General Manager of the Center in Fair Park—formerly the Smirnoff Music Centre—is cool with his accounting background because it greatly helps one of today’s greatest facilities run like a finely tuned guitar.

Numbers have always come easily to Mike. After growing up in Georgetown near Austin, he graduated with an Accounting degree and did some public accounting work. “I wanted something a little less dry, though, so I called a recruiter,” recalls Mike. “He got me a job in accounting….BUT it was for Pace Concerts in Houston. So that hit the spot.”

Tabor next took over as Controller for Pace at its North Carolina offices. “I knew it was a good fit. When I first met the General Manager at Pace, we both were wearing cowboy boots and jeans. He immediately took a liking to me.” After several more jobs at various Pace offices and with Cellar Door, another concert management company, Tabor yearned to get back to Texas. He got that wish in his present job.

Never mind the commute.
What started as an interim position last November is now a permanent job. Tabor simultaneously runs TWO facilities: Center in Dallas and Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre in San Antonio. Both are owned by entertainment giant Live Nation. This means commuting from one venue to another during alternating weeks.

“It’s interesting to go back and forth because these facilities are so completely different,” Tabor muses. “ is 20 years old, with lots of huge trees and the art deco/urban oasis feel of Fair Park. I automatically sense a laid-back atmosphere in Dallas. Verizon is much newer and has not really developed a personality.”

Mike has an answer to why the name of this Dallas music mecca keeps changing—from The Starplex Amphitheatre to Coca-Cola Starplex to Smirnoff Music Centre to its latest incarnation. “If someone wants to be the main sponsor, they can have the venue named after their company and reap the additional exposure to many types of audiences that comes with it. How long a venue keeps the name of the company depends on the length of the contract. Sponsorships are great because they help us add or improve amenities for both audiences and performers. For example, the sponsorship has helped us enhance signage for audience patrons so it’s easier to find their way around. It has also allowed us to renovate artists’ dressing rooms. The more comfortable our performers are, the more likely they’ll be to book again.”

“It’s all about having a great concert experience.”
"It's all about having a great concert experience."Mike is primarily responsible for ensuring that every aspect of the runs perfectly smooth, and that a potential 19,533 concertgoers per show get what they’ve paid for: the most memorable experience possible.; “Entertainment is no longer cheap, so it’s the little things that make each concert enjoyable,” says Mike.  “Fast service…convenient and safe parking…getting to and from your seat…clean restrooms and grounds. Most audience members are here for three hours; they eat and drink and then they’re gone. It’s got to be a first-class good time, every time.”

Cheryl Crow, legendary Superstar!Mike gets most enthused when the acts are terrific. “This year is one of the best in a long time, as far as concerts go,” believes Mike. “Take Roger Waters, Radiohead and The Police…three really strong shows just by themselves.  There’s a terrific mix of country (Rascal Flatts), classic rock (Motley Crue, Yes), Rap (Jay-Z, Mary J. Blige) and edge rock (Warped Tour).”

You’ll find Mike scrutinizing every operations detail, even when he just goes to concerts for fun. His wife, Cindy, thinks he’s nuts because of his obsessiveness even on his own time. “But I’m always thinking how much I love to see people leave concerts smiling and pumped up…and how we can make things better for them. So she puts up with it.” However, Mike does like to go to smaller venues in places like New Braunfels and listen to Jerry Jeff Walker without a care.

More than anything else—even beyond meeting rock superstars--Mike loves hanging out with Cindy and the kids at their San Antonio home. He’s coached Shelby (15), Shane (12) and Mandy (10) in baseball and basketball since they were small, and does his best to spend lots of time with them. “We love to barbeque in the back yard and just relax.”  Actually, Mandy doesn’t mind much that her dad commutes. “She’s begging me to bring her up from San Antonio to see the Jonas Brothers.”

“I’m not really into coming in and changing what’s worked well at for the last 20 years,” says Mike Tabor.  “I’m certainly not the boss here, but more the support person for all our departments. Together we continuously work to make our patrons happy. My parents did a good job of keeping me grounded.”

For more information about shows coming to the Center and tickets, go to the Events Ticket Center web site.