What's behind the boom in tour rehearsal spaces?
Excerpt taken from the December 2021 issue of PLSN:
Groundbreaking took place Nov. 11 for the 32-acre, $130 million Gateway Studios campus in the St. Louis metro area of Chesterfield, MO. The 330,000-sq.-ft. complex will launch global touring artists as well as service the production industry. It’s expected to open for business in the first quarter of 2023.
In the meantime, Gateway Studios & Production Services (GSPS) offers audio, lighting, video production services, and live event management. In recent months, GSPS has gear and touring crew out with Daryl Hall & John Oates, Black Pumas, and Phish, to name a few, and supplied the recent ATLive festival in Atlanta, GA, and Governor’s Ball festival in New York City. They’re currently operating in two buildings: a 77,000 sq. ft. warehouse and a 25,000 sq. ft. office space.
The campus will be an extension of that, says CEO Trey Kerr. “This isn’t just us building a studio, this is a full-fledged 360 operation. The vendor side of this has been up and running and fully functional. Our clients are happy, and we’ve had a great year in terms of 2021.’”
Kerr, who serves as video director for Phish and has worked with them for 20 years—among other bands—through his company 201 Productions, says the pandemic was the catalyst for the studio complex. “Once our industry was shut, we had a great deal of time on our hands and instead of sitting on the couch and waiting to get back out on the road, I reached out to friends who became our executive leadership team,” he explains. “We started looking at ways we could design a world class campus and facility for our industry when things returned:’ That team now consists of Chief Operating Officer Andy Gerber, formerly with Screenworks, with 20 years of experience in LED, projection and video; President of Business Development David Haskell, former president of Morris Light & Sound, with more than 40 years in the industry; and President of Studio Operations Jesse Sandler, an experienced stage manager, tour manager, production manager and tour accountant for Bon Jovi, Phish, Eagles, Michael Jackson and others.
Their expertise was instrumental when designing their rehearsal studios. “We intentionally designed our main Studio 80 for stadium tours,” Kerr says, “with dimensions specifically built for an NFL football field, with grid height at 80′. We also have Studio 75 and Studio 65 with grid heights matching their names. Arenas and amphitheater shows can fit in those rooms.”
Its central U.S. location, adjacent to the Spirit of St. Louis Airport and Interstate 64, was chosen for easy access and logistics. It’s also near hotels, restaurants, and other essential services.
Investor information is not being revealed, however. “We have local ownership from outside the industry who doesn’t want press or recognition,” Kerr notes. “At this time, we are lucky to have an ownership group that is very much committed to this whole thing. Especially now while construction is being affected by inflation, shortages, and rising steel prices. We are fortunate enough that we can push forward.”