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Volume 23 No. 9
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Sports venues see another solid year shaping up for concert business

Charlotte Jones Anderson has seen scores of events come through AT&T Stadium since it opened in 2009. But Jones Anderson, the Dallas Cowboys’ executive vice president and chief brand officer, hasn’t seen the stadium host a big music festival.

That will change when the stadium hosts Kaaboo Texas May 10-12 with events inside and outside the stadium. Jones Anderson expects 25,000 fans over the three days.

The festival will feature six stages with acts such as Lauryn Hill, Kid Rock, The Killers and Lionel Richie. It also will include celebrity chefs, art installations, comic acts and a Vegas-style pool with a spot for DJs built in the stadium parking lot.

The Kaaboo Texas music festival planned in May will feature six stages at AT&T Stadium and include acts like Lauryn Hill.
Photo: dallas cowboys illustration
The Kaaboo Texas music festival planned in May will feature six stages at AT&T Stadium and include acts like Lauryn Hill.
Photo: dallas cowboys illustration
The Kaaboo Texas music festival planned in May will feature six stages at AT&T Stadium and include acts like Lauryn Hill.
Photo: dallas cowboys illustration

This will be the first time the Kaaboo festival, which is also held in San Diego and the Cayman Islands, has ventured into a stadium setting. Jones Anderson said the Cowboys have a 10-year deal to host the event and want to use the first year to showcase the experience more than drive attendance. “We are always trying to bring new and bold experiences,” she said.

A three-day pass costs $299 with a VIP package running $999. The Cowboys did not disclose the financial terms behind the promotion.

The plans by the Cowboys are just the latest in the push by sports facilities to host more music events. The volume cranks up heading into the spring and summer as outside venues get into the act.

In Arizona, the Diamondbacks manage bookings at Chase Field, which will host a Billy Joel concert on March 9.

“Utilizing the stadium in creative ways is a growth opportunity. We have learned that there is an appetite for using a Major League Baseball stadium for all kinds of public and private events,” said Cullen Maxey, executive vice president of business operations and chief revenue officer for the Diamondbacks.

Other stadium dates on Joel’s tour include Oriole Park at Camden Yards (July 26), Coors Field (Aug. 8.), Fenway Park (Sept. 14) and Globe Life Park (Oct. 12). It will be the first concert for Oriole Park, while Fenway is a veteran in the space. The historic Boston ballpark wants to host as many as 12 concerts a year. Fenway’s music slate this year also includes Phish (July 5-6), the Zac Brown Band (Aug. 31-Sept. 1) and The Who (Sept. 13).

Arena managers are making sure plenty of concertgoers see shows indoors as well and many have stepped up efforts in recent years to attract more event dates. David Kells, senior vice president of entertainment and marketing for the Nashville Predators and Bridgestone Arena, said that includes filling summer dates with acts that previously gravitated to outdoor festivals and amphitheaters.

Venue managers also have been booking more diverse music genres.

On the road in 2019

Backstreet Boys

Garth Brooks

The Chainsmokers

Kelly Clarkson

Ariana Grande

Billy Joel

Elton John

Jennifer Lopez

Kiss

Dave Matthews Band

Shawn Mendes

Pink

Queen with Adam Lambert

Travis Scott

Rolling Stones

George Strait

Twenty One Pilots

Carrie Underwood

Source: Sports Business Journal research

“We did seven Latin shows last year. We will do as many this year. We sold them out and sold them quickly in this marketplace,” said Hugh Weber, president of Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment, the New Jersey Devils and Prudential Center. The Newark arena also books four to five South Korean pop acts annually. Prudential Center ranks as the seventh-busiest U.S. arena for concerts, according to Billboard. That is up from 17th four years ago (see chart). 

Venue managers at the Sprint Center in Kansas City and Golden 1 Center in Sacramento are also booking more Latin acts. “That’s really an emerging market for us,” said Shani Tate Ross, vice president of sales and marketing at the Sprint Center. She has six Latin shows booked this year.

Talking Stick Resort Arena in Arizona expects to host 60 concerts this year, up from 55 in 2018.

“It’s become a year-round business,” said Ralph Marchetta, senior vice president of ticket operations for the Phoenix Suns and general manager at Talking Stick.

Sports facilities are benefiting in part by a rise in music tours. As acts see smaller music sales in today’s age of digital downloads and streaming, many are putting a greater emphasis on tours to generate additional income.

“Overall, the industry is very healthy, with touring representing a far greater amount of an artist’s income,” said Michael Owens, assistant general manager at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City. Owens expects to host 36 concerts and shows this year, up 20 percent from 2018.

Mike Sunnucks can be reached at msunnucks@sportsbusinessjournal.com.