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NAME Acquisition Begins New Chapter for Fair Industry

9/21/2015

By Timothy Herrick

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North American Midway Entertainment (NAME) has been acquired by Townsquare Media, Inc. for a reported price of $ 75.5 million. The acquisition of one of the fair industry's largest carnival companies by a growing digital marketing and media company, not only brings a multitude of resources to the midway provider, but may begin a new marketing chapter for outdoor events.

"We are excited to partner with NAME's management team and add NAME's market leading mobile amusement parks to our Live Events portfolio," said Steven Price, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Townsquare. "Nearly half of NAME's current events are within 100 miles of a Townsquare market and fit squarely within our core stated strategy of providing affordable, family-friendly entertainment content."

"Our management team is delighted to join forces with Townsquare, and we look forward to continuing to provide best-in-class service and products to our customers for years to come," said Jeff Blomsness, Co-Chief Executive Officer, NAME.

Townsquare Media is an integrated and diversified media and entertainment and digital marketing services company, owning 100 radio stations, over 325 search engine and mobile-optimized local websites and approximately 500 live events in 66 small and mid-sized U.S. markets. "The radio stations have their own companion websites and we also own 16 national music and entertainment websites," said Claire Yenicay, Executive Vice President, Investor Relations & Corporate Communications.

Townsquare's 500 live events can be segmented into main categories: music festivals (including the largest collection of country music and camping festivals in North America), participatory athletic events, lifestyle events and B2B/B2C expos.  The company's event portfolio includes WE Fest, the largest country music and camping festival in the world; the Insane Inflatable 5K, one of the fastest growing obstacle race series in North America; and America on Tap, the only nationwide craft and premium beer festival series in the United States. "We have a lot of events that could benefit from a midway so we are definitely looking at that possibility," she said.

.In the recent years, Midway providers have increased their direct marketing to consumers, both to supplement the fair's promotional efforts - and boosting midway revenue - and to foster their own small but growing dead-head like following of devoted ride enthusiasts who go to multiple events featuring a carnival company's midway.  The acquisition now exponentially expands NAME's digital footprint - no other carnival company can draw on comparable marketing resources - with the potential of making this NAME the most recognizable midway brand in the U.S.
"NAME fits very well with our company," said Yenicay. "We can now be a megaphone for their events and drive attendance to their events. Most of our events are music related, family-friendly and affordable entertainment. NAME brings synergies to us and can provide midways at many of those events."

By the same token, Townsquare Media's involvement with festivals includes a cutting edge expertise in digital marketing services, talent buying, and electronic ticketing. The new duo can offer a more comprehensive package of services to fairs. "There are a lot of areas that we can become more useful to the fair, from ticketing to talent buying," said Yenicay. "When you buy talent in more than one location, you can help structure better deals when it comes to routing."

"Our goal with North America was to always grow the company," explained Danny Huston, Co-Chief Executive Officer of NAME. Huston said the company was not up for sale before Townsquare made them an offer. "They were seeking us. Townsquare Media came to NAME. They looked at our company and saw how much we crossover. We successfully passed their grade."

This midway veteran admits the move is a game-changer for NAME.  "It is really the biggest thing we have ever done and brings us up to the next level," said Huston. "It will allow us to do so much more. They are going to be a humongous help to our fairs with their sites and search engines. They are going to help grow our events."

Formed in 2004 by combining the former Conklin Shows, Blomsness-Thiebault Enterprises and Farrow Shows,  NAME has an inventory of more than 200 amusement rides, custom-designed food concessions and family-oriented games, More than 15 million fairgoers visit a NAME's midway, featured at about 150 fairs per year across the United States and Canada, including some of North America's largest fairs - the Eastern States Exposition, Canadian National Exposition, Calgary Stampede, Indiana State Fair, Illinois State Fair, K-Days Edmonton, Mississippi State Fair, Miami-Dade County Fair and Expo, Kentucky State Fair and South Carolina State Fair.

Currently, NAME events overlap with Townsquare markets in Indiana, Iowa, Illinois, Michigan, Alabama, Texas, Louisiana and Massachusetts. Yenicay said value-added synergy between the two companies, the acquisition "brings deeper pockets to NAME than any of their other competitors, enhancing the offerings they can provide the fair."

How the two companies will interface is still being developed. Yenicay doesn't foresee "much changes in the day-to-day operations of NAME," she said. She cautioned that there it will take "a while to ramp up, and by year three, we will have identified areas of both businesses that we can improve. But fairs will start to see stuff in 2016 and we hope to see other benefits soon after. There's a great expectation for this deal." 

As the synergies progress, in addition to grown existing events, NAME is looking to expanding its routes. "We are adding to the events we do and even adding another unit," said Huston.

The acquisition also makes NAME the only midway provider who is now a publicly traded company.  In terms of  how this new status might impact the corporate culture of NAME,  Huston said "we have been a family operated company, that will always remain. Townsquare does a lot of things in communities that are family oriented. Townsquare does what they do and North American does what we do."
Blomsness added, "we believe this is a powerful combination: our experience and history as a leading provider of amusements in North America coupled with the additional products, services and resources of Townsquare."

"This acquisition furthers our efforts to diversify our product offerings and increase our non-advertising based revenue, allowing us to offer more multi-channel, cross platform content opportunities to our consumers and business clients," said Price. 


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