Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Fewer bums in seats at Investors Group Field

Swift concert sells out with 33,000 capacity

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You're never, ever, ever... getting tickets to see Taylor Swift in Winnipeg next summer.

All remaining seats for the U.S. singer-songwriter's June 22 concert at Investors Group Field sold out Friday after going on sale to the public. Pre-sale tickets sold earlier through Swift's fan clubs and an American Express promotion.

Just shy of 33,000 fans will attend the new football stadium for the six-time Grammy-winning artist's performance, said Darren Cameron of the Winnipeg Football Club, which will operate the new stadium at the University of Manitoba.

The Swift concert will be the first at the $190-million venue. It has already made her the fifth act to sell out a stadium show in Winnipeg in a single day.

"This puts her in the company of U2, Pink Floyd, the Rolling Stones and AC/DC," said Kevin Donnelly, senior vice-president of True North Sports and Entertainment, which books concerts at the new stadium.

The 33,000-seat capacity, however, is smaller than the maximum crowd would be for a similarly configured concert at Canad Inns Stadium, which faces demolition after the football club moves out this winter. That's because the design of Investors Group Field -- a wrap-around oval -- was intended to be an intimate, raucous atmosphere for Canadian football fans, not maximize the size of concert crowds.

As a result, it's unlikely Investors Group Field will ever be able to match the biggest Canad Inns Stadium concerts in attendance. In 2009, 46,000 people watched AC/DC at the Polo Park venue, while 50,000 watched U2 in 2011.

"We have a different building in a different design configuration," said Donnelly, adding he's confident a venue able to hold 33,000 fans for a concert with a front-facing stage will be sufficient for the Winnipeg market.

"The reality is there are not many (concert) tours that demand 50,000-seat configurations any more. We're seeing shows in the U.S. go into MLS (Major League Soccer) stadiums or other smaller buildings," Donnelly said.

It remains unclear what the maximum capacity for the venue will be once the City of Winnipeg doles out a building occupancy permit in 2013. The football club is working on a concert-day access-and-egress plan in order to obtain this permit, officials confirmed.

Donnelly said the amenities at the new U of M stadium, which include modern bathrooms and better concessions, should outweigh a smaller capacity.

"The interest in this building, even if it's somewhat smaller, will be greater than the old one had in its dying breath," he said.

The football club's business plan calls for concert revenue to help repay the non-profit organization's $85-million stadium loan from the province.

 

-- With files from Jason Bell

bartley.kives@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 8, 2012 A10

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