Nowlin said competition from multiple venues for available talent won't keep WFC from booking big names, but the center will adapt its strategy to fit current circumstances.
"Look at summer, for instance. We're not doing as much in the summer as we used to. There are a lot of places now that are presenting summer shows outside, and we can't do that," Nowlin said.
"We're only doing things in the summer that we feel aren't going to happen elsewhere. Between the fair and wineries, and the outdoor venues in San Francisco and the South Bay, it doesn't serve us financially" to book similar summer shows, he added.
The Wells Fargo Center's success with specific shows varies. Glen Campbell sold out in June. Some fine-arts performances only fill half the center's 1,600-seat main auditorium, but that's a reasonable turnout for those acts, Nowlin said.
"If we had a 600-seat theater, we'd put them in that," he added, and someday he hopes the center can add a space that size for smaller shows, because fine-arts programming is part of the nonprofit center's mission.
For the fiscal year that ended July 1, Wells Fargo Center reports selling 86,266 tickets, up from 78,981 for 2010-2011, earning a little over $4.2 million each year, with a relatively small increase for the 2011-2012 season.
"Our estimate is 12 million people have been through our doors throughout 30 years, and another 600,000 children and educators have been served by our programs," Nowlin said. "We think those are incredible numbers for a community of this size."