Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Beyoncé, Jay-Z bringing concert spectacle to stadium in July

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Beyonce, left, and Jay-Z perform

MATT SAYLES / INVISION / AP Enlarge Image

Beyonce, left, and Jay-Z perform "Drunk in Love" at the 56th annual Grammy Awards at Staples Centre.

We've officially arrived, Winnipeg. Our city is one of just two Canadian stops on Beyoncé and Jay-Z's 16-city North American summer stadium tour.

What will doubtless be the show of the year goes down at Investors Group Field on Sunday, July 27. Music's power couple will perform at the Rogers Centre in Toronto on July 9. Monday's announcement generated much all-caps excitement on social media -- sample tweet: "THE GODS HAVE ANSWERED MY PRAYERS OMFG MY GODDESS IS COMING" -- so it's a pretty safe bet tickets, which range in price between $40.50 to $200.50 and go on sale Friday at 10 a.m. at Ticketmaster, are going to sell out quickly.

More than a few road trips to Winnipeg have been planned in earnest on Twitter, but not everyone was thrilled by the news. "Why are Beyoncé and Jay-Z going to Toronto and Winnipeg and nowhere else in Canada?!?! Oddest city choices," tweeted one. "Beyoncé and Jay-Z are taking their tour to two spots in Canada and they chose WINNIPEG?! Seriously?! #wtf #offended #comewest" tweeted another. (Well, clearly these people haven't heard our new unofficial civic slogan, Winnipeg: We Get The Good Concerts Now.)

"Once in a while, these opportunities come along and we make a case for them," says Paul Haagenson, chief operating officer of Live Nation Canada. "This one worked out routing-wise, coming from Chicago. So we make it a story, make a statement. By bringing the magic to towns that aren't expecting it, it becomes even bigger. Winnipeg is a great town for us. We present a lot of concerts in Winnipeg. And it's a beautiful stadium."

Indeed, Investors Group Field, which has room for 33,000, has been successful in attracting not just big-name, but stadium-sized acts to our mid-size market -- a precedent it set last summer with concerts by Taylor Swift and Sir Paul McCartney. The stadium's capacity isn't its only draw, however. "The experience has to be very good, too," Haagenson says.

Kevin Donnelly, senior vice-president of venues and entertainment at True North Sports and Entertainment, says he's thrilled this particular opportunity came to fruition.

"The process for this show was no different than any other opportunity that comes our way -- you start by looking to past successes," he says. "We were able to have a dialogue with Live Nation who, not by coincidence, presented Paul McCartney. They understand what a great new asset we have in the city. If we hadn't done as well as we did with Paul McCartney, this opportunity wouldn't have come our way."

Beyoncé and Jay-Z are easily two of the hottest live draws right now. Both are touring on the back of high-profile new albums; Queen Bey stealthily released her fifth album, Beyoncé, in December and it debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 (she's five for five now) and went on to become the fastest-selling album in iTunes Store history. Jay-Z, meanwhile, dropped his 12th studio album, Magna Carta Holy Grail last summer. Despite receiving mixed reviews from critics, the album was Jay-Z's 13th consecutive studio album to top the Billboard 200.

jen.zoratti@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 29, 2014 C1

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