Dave Lucas and Steve Sybesma founded Sunshine Promotions in 1971 to book local rock concerts. Off to a slow start, Sunshine booked only four shows the first year. That number gradually grew. By the end of the 1980s, the company booked an average of 200 or more shows a year in 15 cities in Indiana and surrounding states. Sunshine Promotions also produced fairs and expositions, truck pulls, exhibition basketball, closed-circuit boxing, four-wheel-drive truck racing, and ice skating. At the time, the company was reportedly among the top five promoters in the country.
In 1989, Sunshine Promotions overcame residential opposition to build, a 20,000-capacity amphitheater in nearby rural Hamilton County. The center, now known as Ruoff Music Center, hosts performing artists representing a variety of musical styles. It is also the site of an annual fair that features concerts and sports events.
Headquartered in Indianapolis, Sunshine Promotions branched out into a number of related businesses: Karma Records; Tour Design, a company producing radio and television spots for the music touring industry; Global Management, a firm arranging concert and special event sponsorship; and Suntex, a sportswear manufacturing company.
In 1997, SFX acquired Sunshine Promotions, which became part of Clear Channels Communications in 2000. Lucas served as Clear Channel Communications CEO for 2 1/2 years. Clear Channel spun off the events promotion part of its business as Live Nation in 2005.