New Era at CVG
The recent passing of Robert F. Holscher marks the end of a remarkable era for the Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky International Airport.

Holscher, who was only 68, began working some 47 years ago as a firefighter at what was then a small county airport, rising to become CVG’s top executive in 1975. He’s widely credited with transforming it into a major international facility with its four main runways, the creation of the Delta Air Lines hub, the construction of Terminal 3 with its three concourses and the growth of Comair into a leading regional carrier.

Along with that growth came related economic development that’s worth an estimated $4.5 billion and thousands of jobs. The airport’s progress under Holscher is often credited for attracting and retaining major corporate operations such as Ashland Oil and Toyota North America.

As for travelers disgruntled about costly fares at CVG — still the highest in the nation — there are signs that the airport’s board is serious about trying harder to attract airlines with competitive fares. H. Lawson Walker II, board chairman, wrote this on the CVG web site: “We continue to lobby hard for new service, and are working alongside community and business leaders to make this happen. And it will happen.”

The board cannot find another Bob Holscher. He was one of a kind. The new CEO will need to take on much different challenges than Holscher encountered in the 1960s — including the fallout of the Delta-Northwest merger and the continuing decline in Delta and Comair flights here. As important as our international airport is to the Tristate, the board has to aim high in finding the right new executive for that job.

Tuned for Success

National City Bank may have made bad bets on mortgages, but supporting the new Pavilion at Riverbend Music Center was a winner.

The new, smaller amphitheater contributed to a total draw of 326,000 people and a 60 percent increase in Riverbend revenue last summer, making it the 11th-ranked amphitheater in the world, according to ratings from Pollstar, which tracks entertainment ticket sales. The Pavilion seats 4,100 to 4,500, compared with the original J. Ralph Corbett Pavilion, which accommodates 6,000 under the roof and up to 14,000 on its lawn.

Pavilion performers such as Bob Dylan, The Moody Blues and Cincinnati’s own Over the Rhine “were a perfect fit for our size,” says Michael Smith, Riverbend managing director. Many of those musicians were thrilled with the Pavilion’s size, structure and special acoustics, Smith notes, hoping that word-of-mouth in the music community will help draw more artists.

For the Pavilion’s upcoming 2009 season, Smith says he and his team will “be more aggressive” about expanding the lineup beyond the established boomer favorites such as Stevie Nicks and Steely Dan, going for the likes of Fall Out Boy or The Offspring. His wish list is long. “I’d be comfortable with Tom Jones followed by The Moody Blues and then O.A.R.”

PNC Financial Services Group, having acquired Nat City, has a lot of decisions to weigh. Continued support for the Pavilion at Riverbend looks like a wise marketing investment.