Fascinating read: The pandemic has all but shut down the income streams for halftime performers, who typically make $1,500 to $5,000 a show.

BleedGopher

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per the NY Times:

Steve Max usually spends his winters telling big crowds at basketball arenas to put their hands up and to touch their shoulders and to cover their eyes. Max is a professional Simon Says caller who travels the country entertaining fans at halftime.

Or at least that was his line of work until March, when the coronavirus pandemic emptied arenas and rendered his microphone silent. For the past nine months, Max has been at home in White Plains, N.Y., doing what he can to keep busy. In addition to updating his website, he has tried to adapt to these weird times with a nudge from his wife, Linda Harelick.

After reading about how an animal sanctuary was making goats available for cameos on corporate video calls, she offered a suggestion: If those goats can make money, so can you.

“So I turned my den into a Zoom studio,” Max, who was born Steve Harelick, said in a telephone interview. “I’ve got something on Thursday for Ernst & Young.”


A niche industry for halftime entertainers like Max, 58, has disappeared during the pandemic. Though a few N.B.A. teams began the season with limited numbers of spectators — and some are allowing their dance teams to perform in the aisles — none are hiring halftime entertainers. Contortionists, acrobats, Frisbee-catching dogs — they are all biding their time, waiting for the show to go on.

Gary Borstelmann, who does a handstand atop a teetering tower of chairs in his act as the Amazing Sladek, has been supplementing his daily hourlong workouts — lots of handstands, lots of stretching — by hauling a couple of his chairs out to the front lawn a few times a week. He knows he needs to stay in shape.

“If you saw me practicing, you’d be like, ‘Oh, he’s only balancing on two chairs,’” he said. “But the intensity of six chairs is in my face.”


Go Gophers!!
 

Some guy

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I can’t believe that ncaa and pro teams pay these people that much
 

Some guy

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What did you expect they'd get paid?

Go Gophers!!
No idea. 5000 is a ton of money.
If you command 5000 and do 25 shows a year you are in the top 3% of incomes in America

Maybe 500-2000 depending on the event and the time commitment of the event?


I’m just shocked the Timberwolves for instance would pay 5000 for a halftime show. If you go to a Wolves game a halftime show is nice....I doubt it has any impact on ticket sales...is there anyone who wasn’t going to buy tickets who does because they like halftime shows? Is there anyone who was going to buy tickets who would cancel with no halftime show?
 

mnsportsgeek

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No idea. 5000 is a ton of money.
If you command 5000 and do 25 shows a year you are in the top 3% of incomes in America

Maybe 500-2000 depending on the event and the time commitment of the event?


I’m just shocked the Timberwolves for instance would pay 5000 for a halftime show. If you go to a Wolves game a halftime show is nice....I doubt it has any impact on ticket sales...is there anyone who wasn’t going to buy tickets who does because they like halftime shows? Is there anyone who was going to buy tickets who would cancel with no halftime show?
Is $125k really top 3% in America?
 

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I think the performers pay their own way to get places, which is a huge expense. The chair guy said he drives...that is a lot of driving, hotels, etc.

Also, it is so dang niche. Probably only a few dozen performers commanding these types of payments.
 

Some guy

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I think the performers pay their own way to get places, which is a huge expense. The chair guy said he drives...that is a lot of driving, hotels, etc.

Also, it is so dang niche. Probably only a few dozen performers commanding these types of payments.
That makes a lot of sense. So I guess 5k isn’t as much when you subtract flight and hotel and such
 

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IMHO, "Quick Change" was the most entertaining, along with the gymnastics team from Fargo.
 

tjgopher

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That makes a lot of sense. So I guess 5k isn’t as much when you subtract flight and hotel and such
In addition to expenses, these people are also free lancers, meaning they have no company-issued 401K, no paid health care coverage, no social security contributions from employers, etc. They are on their for all of that. I'm sure it is a grind to say the least.
 

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In addition to expenses, these people are also free lancers, meaning they have no company-issued 401K, no paid health care coverage, no social security contributions from employers, etc. They are on their for all of that. I'm sure it is a grind to say the least.
Im still shocked the Timberwolves or wild would pay 5k

But you’ve all convinced me that 5k isn’t that much.
 

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Im still shocked the Timberwolves or wild would pay 5k

But you’ve all convinced me that 5k isn’t that much.
Well they don't do it for every game. If you attend 10 Wolves games, you maybe get 2-3 of these types of shows. You'll get a random giveaway, some Crunch nonsense, etc. and every so often you get to see a dog catch frisbees. Lets say they do this for 1/2 the games at $2500 each, you're talking $50k. $50k in the operating budget of professional sports franchises is literally nothing.
 

tjgopher

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Im still shocked the Timberwolves or wild would pay 5k

But you’ve all convinced me that 5k isn’t that much.

Almost no halftime show is being paid $5000. That is reserved for the Red Pandas and Quick Changes of the world. Most shows are way less than that. Like five guys beating on buckets with drumsticks at halftime of a Wolves game are probably making $1000 total.

And, there are many games with no halftime shows, just Crunch throwing t-Shirts or giving away ice cream bars.
 

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wait until you hear what the players are making!
Yeah but that makes sense.
The league has a tv contract and sells tickets because of the players


halftime shows add zero value and help them sell zero more tickets

Or maybe they do and I undervalue halftime shows
 

tjgopher

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Yeah but that makes sense.
The league has a tv contract and sells tickets because of the players


halftime shows add zero value and help them sell zero more tickets

Or maybe they do and I undervalue halftime shows
I have relatives who go to 3 or 4 Gopher basketball games per year. They will always call the marketing office ahead of time to find out if Red Panda is doing a show and make sure that is one of the games they buy tickets for. So, I think the higher end draws do have a tiny impact, but probably not a lot.

I have noticed in recent years, the quality of the halftime shows at Williams Arena has dropped significantly from the years gone by. I do enjoy the Little Chippers, but there are more of those games now (which are free to the U) than the paid shows.

I think Quick Change priced themselves out of the Barn, as it seems to have been at least 5 years since they've been here. And, sadly, if I remember correctly, the Quick Change male character died recently of COVID.
 

WindyCityGopher

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Many of the halftime shows are sponsored, which shifts costs from team to corporate partner.
 

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Love the fargo acro team.
Everyone loves the Fargo acro team. Really cool. I really liked the Alexandria Aces, too. They retired a year or two ago, though, I think. Curious what the club gets paid to perform. Wonder when the movement to pay the gymnasts will get started.

For what we pay for season tickets, we ought to get an entertaining and high profile half-time show once in a while. I think the acts should get paid well. As noted above, they are independent contractors with a lot of expenses. Open the wallets for Simon Sez and Red Panda!
 

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What do they pay the 5th graders that sometimes play at half?
 

row19gopher

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I took our 5th grade team several years ago. We were not paid, but got 50 discounted upper deck tickets that we were expected to sell or purchase... Very cost effective halftime entertainment...
 

HitMeAgainIAmStillMoving

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Yeah but that makes sense.
The league has a tv contract and sells tickets because of the players


halftime shows add zero value and help them sell zero more tickets

Or maybe they do and I undervalue halftime shows
If the halftime show was a free beer then I would be interested.
 

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Im still shocked the Timberwolves or wild would pay 5k

But you’ve all convinced me that 5k isn’t that much.
Honestly....the best halftime show I have seen at a Wolves game (and I've seen a lot of them) was Vanilla Ice.
 

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I remember seeing Red Panda for the first time at a Gophers/Northwestern game. The Goph's were terrible and the game was even worse. Then Red Panda (and Camera Girl-anyone remember her?) came out and got the biggest ovation of the day by far. She blew my mind. Northwestern killed us by the way. That was near the end of the Monson era.
 
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