When he started at Prudential Center in New Jersey at the Executive VP, Entertainment Programming, Sean Saadeh wanted to create something special by highlighting New Jersey as a must-play market.
“I felt I could bring something unique to the organization to help grow its content business and develop annual tentpole events,” he told Amplify. “In the end, I really wanted to work with some of the smartest people in the business.”
A little over a year later, his primary focus on ticket selling and branding have resulted in two full nights of K-Pop Festival KCON coming up next month, as well as a sold-out Justin Bieber show in July. But Sean’s impact on the Center shouldn’t come as a shock – he has spent some valuable time working in facilities and events on both coasts.
Sean first got his start in 1996 as a Booking Assistant at San Diego Sports Arena under Ernie Hahn. He eventually moved up to Director of Booking and Marketing, spending a total of nine years at Sports Arena.
“I learned everything about the facility business in San Diego, which is really why I stayed there for so long,” he said. “Ernie Hahn took a chance on me and 20 years later, I’m still thanking him.”
Following that, Sean moved to Arizona in 2005 to develop programming for the Phoenix Coyotes and Glendale Arena. In 2011, he then moved on to Brooklyn and had a hand in opening the Barclays Center as the VP of Programming.
“It was a dream come true to be a part of a team opening a new arena in New York and helping to bring a professional team back to Brooklyn,” he said.
He moved on to Prudential Center in 2015, and after all of this, Sean can still say that the arena business keeps him on his toes.
“I love that my days are full of variety where I can be fighting for a concert date one moment, then looking at a potential festival site or talking to a college basketball AD the next,” he said. “It never gets old.”
With almost 20 years in the business, Sean has seen some pretty amazing shows. Continue on to read about his five favorite shows.
Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, January 31, 2016 at Prudential Center
Although this show was only a few months ago, it’s one of my favorites. When I took the job at Prudential Center, I said that my main goal was to get Bruce to play a date at the arena. I was glad the timing worked out so that this could happen in my first year at the facility. Also, it was always a dream of mine to see Bruce in his home state of New Jersey. I can now cross that off my bucket list. It was a special night as I was able to share it with my wife, who is a huge Bruce fan, and my good friend Ray Jones, who flew over from the UK to see the show.
Metallica, October 21, 2008 at Jobing.com Arena
One of the most memorable moments in my career was launching Metallica’s “Death Magnetic” tour in the fall of 2008 at Jobing.com Arena. I worked with Larry Frank of Frank Productions to kick off the show in Glendale. Larry and his family had been close with my wife Kenna back in the days of the Dane County Coliseum in Madison, Wisc, and they maintained a friendship throughout the years. Kenna had worked for the Franks. So, I had been bugging Larry to do a show in Glendale for some time. Boy, did he deliver! The show was in the round and, as you can imagine, it didn’t disappoint the 17,000+ fans that sold out the arena that night.
Jay Z, September 21, 2012 at Barclays Center
After months of preparing for the grand opening of Barclays Center, the day came to launch the building with eight straight sold out Jay Z shows. Anyone who has opened a building knows that nothing is ever perfect when you open a building. You’re still working out the kinks and this was no different. I was nervous, but excited at the same time. We had worked on this show for months. It was truly a team effort across the board. Jay Z was going to make this a special night, a celebration of Brooklyn. I loved that everyone in the community had the ability to attend, as we had a $25 ticket available throughout the upper bowl of the building. The unique stage design had a video component built into it. I remember the opening video had scenes of Brooklyn landmarks and neighborhoods. I watched the opening every night and whether it was show one or show eight, it still gave me goosebumps.
MTV Video Music Awards (VMAs), August 25, 2013 at Barclays Center
The MTV VMAs were meant to be in Brooklyn, with its edgy, no-rules persona aligned with Brooklyn’s cool factor and music history. Over the years, the VMAs always had a controversial spin to it, including Madonna making out with Britney Spears, Kanye interrupting Taylor Swift’s speech and Beyoncé announcing that she’s pregnant. The Brooklyn show did not disappoint with its own outrageous moment when Miley Cyrus twerked on Robin Thicke. Months and months of hard work went into the planning of the show, so it was incredibly rewarding when it actually happened.
KISS Alive Tour, October 29, 1996 at San Diego Sports Arena
I had to add KISS to my list, as it was my very first concert working in the business. This was the tour when all the venue managers dressed in KISS gear with full make up. Our GM, Ernie Hahn, was in full make up and I kept thinking to myself, “I just landed the best gig ever.” After the show, I remember everyone funneling out of the Sports Arena like the Chargers just won the Super Bowl, fists in the air with fans pumped from enjoying the show. I ultimately think that these reactions are why I continue to love my job day in and day out.