Rialto Sign at Night

A man walks beneath the illuminated neon Rialto sign in this file photo. A Missoula promoter has announced it will take over music operations at the Rialto.

On the heels of breaking ground on 1,500-seat concert venue the ELM in Bozeman’s Midtown in February, a Missoula promoter has announced it will take over music operations at the Rialto.

Logjam Presents will be in charge of all musical promotion, entertainment and activity associated with ticketed concerts for the Rialto, with the hope of bringing more live music to Bozeman, said Logjam owner Nick Checota.

“I think, overall, it will be great for Bozeman,” Checota said.

He said the “lion’s share” of the staff at the Rialto will be retained after Logjam comes for interviews next week. Things like accounting, music buying, recruitment of artists and some administrative functions will be centralized in Missoula, while box office staff, event employees and sound engineers and other positions will stay in Bozeman. Most employees will work at the ELM and the Rialto, Checota said.

Checota described the relationship between the two venues as similar to the relationship between the Wilma and the Top Hat in Missoula, as the corresponding venues have similar capacities.

He said partnering with the Rialto will ensure there aren’t competing events with the ELM, and it will help grow artists from one venue to the next.

“It will be more consistent with shows you’re seeing in Missoula,” Checota said.

And while many of the bigger musical acts will be routed to the Top Hat through the Rialto, the Rialto will continue hosting local artists as well, he said.

“For us to have more shows, better shows, bigger names, that’s a win because that keeps the venue busy,” said Matthew Beehler, regional general manager with Columbia Hospitality, the group that operates the Rialto.

Columbia Hospitality will still continue to host private and community events at the Rialto, and having more music will allow them to strengthen the other side of the business as well, Beehler said.

He said making the Rialto busier will also help other downtown businesses. He pointed out that the Chronicle reported in March that nearby bars and restaurants make up to twice as much money on nights the Rialto has a show.

“That’s a win for local businesses,” he said.

The changes to the Rialto will be effective Sept. 1, according to a news release sent out by Logjam. Checota anticipates the ELM will open in January 2020.

Abby Lynes can be reached at alynes@dailychronicle.com or 406-582-2651. Follow her on Twitter @Abby_Lynes.

Abby Lynes covers business and the economy for the Bozeman Daily Chronicle.

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