Arenas Await Bigger Tours This Winter

Arenas Await Bigger Tours This Winter
Sun Sep 21,10:05 AM ET
By Ray Waddell

NEW YORK (Billboard) – With no new blockbuster tours on the horizon, arena managers are hoping that outings by Simon & Garfunkel, Shania Twain (news), David Bowie (news) and others will keep seats warm this fall and winter.

Also filling arena seats in the coming months will be the Eagles and Fleetwood Mac, both of which have extended their summer tours.

Additionally, it is understood that Kiss and Aerosmith (news – web sites) will stage individual tours this winter. Holds also are in place for limited runs by Phish and Dave Matthews.

Still, there are no megatours in the offing along the lines of Paul McCartney (news), Billy Joel (news)/Elton John (news), the Rolling Stones or Neil Diamond (news).

That situation could change by late winter. Billboard has learned that tours are being prepped by Sting, Prince, U2, Metallica (news – web sites), Britney Spears (news), Bette Midler (news), Rod Stewart (news) and Gloria Estefan (news).

But for now, arena managers must stay in the loop with agents and promoters as the entire industry deals with seasonal slim pickings.

Early indications are that the Simon & Garfunkel tour is shaping up to be a home run.

“We just put up Chicago and St. Paul, and they sold out within minutes and are adding second shows,” says Jerry Mickelson, co-president of Chicago-based promoter Jam Productions. “Simon & Garfunkel is going to be a blockbuster, but I’d say other than that, it’s pretty light.”

Likewise, Bowie’s A Reality tour should be solid in the arenas that it plays this fall.

“I understand that is not at the level of a Stones, McCartney or even Simon & Garfunkel, but it’s not priced that way, not even in the ballpark,” says Arthur Fogel, president of Clear Channel Entertainment’s (CCE) touring division, producers of the Bowie tour.

“The thing about Bowie is that his level of business goes up and down in different regions of the country,” Fogel observes. “The Northeast is where he is the biggest; that’s why we’re playing FleetCenter in Boston, First Union Center in Philadelphia and Madison Square Garden in New York.”

For the first half of 2003, arena tours were the top moneymakers, with traffic predictably slowing down heading into the warmer months. And while many holds are in place for winter tours, holds do not always translate into ticket sales.

The fall and early winter slowdown is typical for arenas, in no small part because of marketplace realities.

“In order to put an act out in late September or October, you have to put tickets up in July or August at the latest,” says Randy Phillips, president/CEO of AEG Live, parent company of promoter Concerts West.

“Historically, July and August is a terrible time to go on sale with a concert,” Phillips adds. “It’s the lazy, hazy days of summer.”


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