A music industry veteran for the past three decades, Doyle started out managing John Mellencamp, Taylor Dayne and Daryl Hall before half of Doyle-Kos Entertainment was sold to Irving Azoff’s Front Line Management, a subsidiary of Live Nation, the corporate behemoth that’s cornered a significant portion of the live events promotional market. Live Nation also books live musical acts for the Westbury Music Fair/NYCB Theatre at Westbury, perhaps the longest running live music venue on Long Island.
Not coincidentally, Live Nation also has a booking contract with The Paramount, which explains the impressive and varied slate of shows: aforementioned opening night headliner Elvis Costello; NOFX; The Pixies; Willie Nelson; Anthrax; local faves Brand New; and Rusted Root, a current client of the renamed Doyle Entertainment.
All Huntington residents, Doyle, Ubertini and Catoggio are well aware of how thin the line between success and failure can be. But in the time since the first shovel pierced the ground on Feb. 1, they’ve already successfully overcome the kind of variance and construction issues that come with building a project of this size, starting with demolition.
“We were unable to bring any machinery into the building, so the entire build was done by hand,” says Catoggio. “All the steel was hoisted with chain-falls, much like they would have done in ’27 when the theater was built. We wound up with anywhere from 40 to 70 men working every day for eight months for an estimated 700 man hours a day.”
Local businesses were also involved in the process, from Hauppauge-based SCC Construction Management Group to Huntington architectural firm Hoffman Grayson. And while Doyle declined to provide budgetary numbers, during a public hearing of the Huntington Board of Zoning held July 29, 2010 at Town Hall, group architect Neil Hoffman revealed $3 million would be needed for major renovations, including a restored marquee, the creation of a second-floor stage and seated dining in the balcony section. Recent published reports put the price tag at more than $5 million.
Doyle acknowledges the looming issues threatening the success of The Paramount, including perceived high ticket prices and parking. But the word he and his partners return to again and again is “experience.” As in what paying customers can expect when they walk through the door or the manner in which artists and their road crews will be pampered in a way that will encourage them to return to play The Paramount in the future.
“We’ve got state-of-the-art sound and lights,” boasts Doyle. “You’re not going to go to a venue that has better equipment than we do. You’re going to have a musical experience where you’re going to say, ‘I can’t believe this’ and you’re going to see sightlines that will make you say, ‘I just can’t believe they thought of everything.’ Everything is thought out. We just now have to execute. If we execute properly, you’re going to leave this room and ask yourself why you witnessed something so perfect, [and] it’s going to be because we thought about it. That is how success is going to happen.”
While tickets for Willie Nelson ($63 to $116) and B.B. King ($52 to $143) are pricey, Doyle is quick to point out the Rusted Root show is a $10 ticket and that with an average of four price points, there are shows with $75 high end and a $25 low end. As for the kind of club he envisions The Paramount becoming, variety will dictate what is going to fill the 200 to 220 shows Doyle plans to book annually.
“For us to do the amount of shows that we need to do, we need to keep it wide open and varied,” he says. “I would love to see us book things for the 6-year-olds and have parents come see these bands that are on Noggin. Or have some incredible jazz musicians come through and maybe do it once or twice a month if there’s enough of a demand.”
But the biggest issue is and will continue to be parking, given how congested downtown Huntington can be during the week, much less on a Saturday night. The potential solution may lie in an arrangement with the town to reserve 600 spots on the north side of the Huntington Long Island Rail Road station, where people can park. The club is providing free trolleys that will run the night of shows from 5 p.m. until 2 a.m. to gigs. An additional nearly 200 spots will reportedly be available at Town Hall and Elm Street, including valet parking. In the process, Doyle also went to great lengths to get local businesses involved.
“We’re going to teach people that the best way to deal with the parking shortage in town is to park at the rail. And if they park at the rail, we’re gong to reward them,” he says. “Our reward is giving them a chance to eat at a local restaurant at a discount. We’ll stamp the back of their ticket and that will mean that they left their car at our outer parking lot. We’re finding out that restaurant owners love the idea that we’re pushing out patrons into these neighboring businesses.”