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Topic: Stadium tours in extinct? (2005 tour content) Return to archive
July 24th, 2004 10:50 PM
Soldatti Saturday July 24, 08:05 AM

Stadium Tours? Not This Year

NASHVILLE (Billboard) - Are stadium tours extinct?
Once an integral and lucrative facet of the warm-weather concert business, the stadium tour is completely absent from this summer's landscape.

A mere decade ago, such tours were plentiful. In the summer of 1994, Pink Floyd, Grateful Dead, the Eagles, Billy Joel/Elton John and the Rolling Stones were all enjoying huge summer runs at North American stadiums.

This summer, not one act dares mount a U.S. stadium tour. In fact, the summer of 2004 is noteworthy for the number of acts that cannot fill considerably smaller amphitheaters.

NOTABLE EXCEPTIONS

Yes, there have been notable stadium shows recently. Bruce Springsteen played a handful of them last summer, including a record-setting 10-night stand at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.

But Springsteen's handlers savvily declined to take his stadium show anywhere other than his prime markets.

Similarly, Metallica's Summer Sanitarium tour played some 20 stadiums last year. However, the tour was propped up by some of the biggest names in hard rock.

In fact, the last full-blown stadium tour -- one that plays stadiums in markets coast to coast -- by a single act was 'N Sync's Pop Odyssey tour in 2001.

'N Sync's 48 stadium dates that year took in more than $90 million, second only to U2 for the year.

Still, few are ready to write off this storied niche of the touring business.

"Stadium tours are not over," says Chip Hooper, agent for such acts as Dave Matthews Band and Phish at Monterey Peninsula Artists.

"Stadium tours always need to happen at the right time, with the right act in the right place," Hooper says. "Lately, there haven't been many acts capable of or interested in playing stadiums, for a variety of reasons."

"Capable of" may be the operative phrase here. The Rolling Stones have proved to be the only act that has been able to do a full run of stadiums during several eras.

But, perhaps tellingly, on their 2002-2003 Licks tour, the Stones added arenas and theaters to the venue mix rather than put together a route of 40 stadiums in North America.

WHY ACTS SHY FROM STADIUMS

Besides the Stones, few acts have demonstrated the ambition or wherewithal to attempt such tours. The reasons why include popularity, economics and aesthetics.

"First of all, you have to know you can sell the tickets, no matter what size venue it is," Hooper says. "In a stadium, that's 45,000 tickets or more, and that's a big undertaking."

It is an undertaking only a very few acts can guarantee. "In order to do a stadium tour, you have to have a certain level of popularity and a fan base that exceeds one single or one record," says Brad Wavra, VP of touring for Clear Channel Entertainment.

"When 'N Sync did Pop Odyssey, they had already played theaters, amphitheaters and arenas," says Wavra, who oversaw that tour.

Another major consideration is economics. A single stadium show is a big financial commitment; a complete tour ups the ante exponentially.

"In today's environment, often the smarter play is to do multiples in arenas or amphitheaters," Wavra says. "It costs in the neighborhood of $800,000 to produce a stadium show, where it's more like $250,000-$300,000 to produce an arena show in the 'A' markets like Boston, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C."

WHO CAN DO IT?

Dave Matthews Band is one of the handful of acts that have shown signs of stadium-level box office power.

While the band consistently played stadiums at the turn of the millennium, of late DMB has opted to do multiples at arenas or amphitheaters rather than produce a stadium date.

Band manager Coran Capshaw tells Billboard the decision is based on a number of factors.

"There is a lot of stress that goes along with a stadium tour," Capshaw says. "It was sort of taking a toll on everybody to gear up and do those stadiums. It's a lot easier to go into an amphitheater and sit down for a couple of shows.

"But," Capshaw adds, "that's not to say we won't consider playing stadiums again."

Aesthetics and presentation are definitely considerations. The Rolling Stones and Pink Floyd pioneered the type of stadium extravaganza that typified mega-concerts in the '80s and '90s. Their shows featured sky-high stacks of amps, over-the-top light shows, giant inflatables and even jet flyovers.

If such bells and whistles are not part of an act's presentation or what they want to portray, why bother?

"Sometimes it's not so much whether an act could play a stadium show, but would they," Wavra says. "It becomes not only an economic decision but also an aesthetic one, and one depending on the window of time an act is willing to tour."

Though nothing has been announced yet, no fewer than four acts that have recent stadium pedigrees are at least considering North American tours in 2005: the Stones, U2, Paul McCartney and the Backstreet Boys.

It is highly doubtful, most insiders say, that any of these acts will attempt a coast-to-coast run of stadiums.

THE EUROPEAN DIFFERENCE

Still, stadium tours remain relatively commonplace in Europe. Last summer acts ranging from Springsteen to Bon Jovi mounted successful stadium runs there. Lower ticket prices and absence from the marketplace help drive that success, those close to the tours say.

For now, no one seems ready to administer last rites to the stadium tour concept.

"I don't believe they are gone forever," Fogel says. "The Rolling Stones did a number of stadiums on their last tour, and there certainly are some acts that could still do them and do the business."

Reuters/Hollywood Reporter
July 24th, 2004 11:03 PM
Snappy McJack
quote:
Soldatti wrote:


In fact, the last full-blown stadium tour -- one that plays stadiums in markets coast to coast -- by a single act was 'N Sync's Pop Odyssey tour in 2001.

'N Sync's 48 stadium dates that year took in more than $90 million, second only to U2 for the year.





Holy shit I had no idea about this. NSYNC had a stadium tour? No friggin' way!
July 24th, 2004 11:28 PM
Gazza >Yes, there have been notable stadium shows recently. Bruce Springsteen played a handful of them last summer, including a record-setting 10-night stand at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.
But Springsteen's handlers savvily declined to take his stadium show anywhere other than his prime markets.


That last bit is utter bollocks. Springsteen's 2003 US Tour was ALL stadiums and was nationwide. True, his main market was in the north east and that accounted for more than half of the shows but he played 30 stadium shows in all in North America including LA, San Francisco, Denver, Milwaukee, Chicago, Toronto etc. I'm sure he could have done even more had he not played about 40 one night stands in arenas the previous fall!