Golden 1 Center Q&A: Director, Arena Programming James Rasmussen
By Sydney Zuelke
Rasmussen (right) pictured with Blake Shelton at Golden 1 Center.
Headed to see your favorite artist at Golden 1 Center this summer? You can thank James Rasmussen, the Director of Arena Programming for the opportunity. From pitching Sacramento to the industry’s hottest artists, to ensuring everything runs smoothly until the show ends – learn more about James’ day-to-day duties and more!
Tell us a little bit about what you do as Director of Arena Programming.
“I’m the main point of contact for all the promoters, agents and managers that are working on new tours. What that consists of is organizing our calendar for what openings they have, to see if it matches up with when they’re going to be in the area. It’s also working with the NBA to figure out the schedule for home games and making sure we don’t book a concert on the same day as an NBA game - so it’s a year-round process.”
Can you describe the process and the timeline of booking an artist or an event?
“I mean, I can get a phone call as far as two years in advance, or 60 days, or 30 days even. The process is; people contact us, or I go out chasing shows. It’s a lot easier when they reach out to us, and the more shows that perform well at Golden 1 Center helps that cause. However, my job doesn’t really stop once the show gets confirmed. We’re working with the marketing team, box office, guest services and security to ensure everyone’s staffed appropriately to have a safe event.”
“Even post-event, it is essential to share those stories with the industry, ‘Hey, we just sold out Eric Church!’ So, I’m going to make sure that everyone in the industry knows that. It’s really important to get our story out there because the more the industry hears about us selling out shows, it’s more likely for them to go, ‘Okay. I’m coming to Sacramento now.’”
What is maybe your favorite thing about Sacramento market and how do you pitch Golden 1 Center to promoters?
“Sacramento’s interesting because from the outside, it’s perceived like a country town. But really, we have this developing urban core and then it really sprawls out to the rural areas, but it’s so great because I originally thought ‘Oh yeah, we’ll do a country show, it’ll sell out—no problem.’”
“But what’s been unique is all the pop shows we’ve sold out right away, and I wouldn’t have expected that at all. But we’ve continued to prove that there are people out here that love music and they want to go to shows as often as possible. That’s what I’ve been really pleased to see is how many people are like ‘Yeah, I’m going to go to any concert and I’m going to have a great time.’”
What’s the most rewarding part of your job?
“The most rewarding part is definitely walking into the arena, right before the artist plays the first chord or sings the first note, and hearing the crowd go absolutely crazy. Feeling the energy in the crowd, it’s always that moment where you’re reminded, ‘Alright this is why I do what I do’ – it’s feeling this energy and the positive vibes that are out there.”
Do you have a most memorable moment during an event at Golden 1 Center?
“It was definitely the opening with Paul McCartney - without a doubt. I moved to Sacramento to open this building and I worked really hard to get Paul McCartney here. So much work went into it, and so much planning of ‘Okay, when the building’s opened, this is what we’re going to do.’ And it was there. We were open, we were doing what we planned to do. We had the best artist in the world, and everyone in the building just went absolutely crazy. So that was the best moment for sure.”
“The second memorable moment was the Kanye West concert. I saw firsthand how great our guest services and security teams are when dealing with different circumstances. I’m just glad in the end we were able to get everyone refunds. And, it will go down as a historical rock –n-roll moment, right here in Golden 1 Center.”
If you could book anyone, dead or alive, to do an event at Golden 1 Center, who would it be?
“The Rolling Stones. I thought we had them for the opening month and it ended up just not happening. But, I’m holding out hope we can get them to come to Sacramento.”
Of the performers you’ve had a chance to interact with, who’s been the most gracious?
“I would say it was Garth Brooks, at Sleep Train Arena. He was just the most down-to-earth, normal guy. I mean, also up there would be Eric Church and Blake Shelton – I don’t know what it is about country guys, they’re just very normal. Chance the Rapper was really great too. Very humble.”
Can you explain the idea behind the gift baskets you’ve been giving performers that play here?
“Most venues give artists a custom jersey. For me, I feel like artists don’t have a closet full of jerseys and they’re not walking around in jerseys.”
“We like to make the artist feel special. We’ve given a crate of local food like chocolates from Ginger Elizabeth or Andy’s Candy; there was a local candle maker that we used for Stevie Nicks. We try to give the artist a local taste of what Sacramento has to offer. Whether that be through food, or through alcohol, or soda, or goods, we try to make them feel special while they’re here. They spend so much time in arenas. Most arenas, back of house, aren’t that glamorous, so we try to dress things up and make it feel like home for them.”