In the Arena, 3/14

13 Mar


To borrow a line from the PA announcer at another venue: “A good good evening to you from the home of basketball in North Mississippi for the next few days.”

The Harlem Globetrotters brought their world-famous show to the Arena this past Wednesday night, attracting a crowd of 5,000 plus. We are now in the middle of the MHSAA Grand Slam tournament, where the best high school basketball teams in the state are competing for the overall title. So, we’re adjusting to the sound of bouncing basketballs around here. It’s a little different than when Kid Rock was in the house, but it keeps us busy.

This week’s topic is our role as “traffic cop” and how it can backfire. Last week, someone posed the question of whether we take into account how many shows can play the market in a short period of time. The simple answer is yes.

We realize that with ticket prices on average in the $35 range (with some shows being much more than that), there is indeed a limit as to how many shows a market the size of ours can support. For example, with Reba playing a show on Feb. 14, we could not host another country show within six weeks of that date and expect them both to be successful. Once the show was confirmed (meaning a contract was signed), the decision to not allow another country show was easy.

Sometimes the answer is not so clear, however. Over the past few weeks we have been working on a show for late May. I can’t mention names, but it was an act with many hits that would have sold around 4,000 – 5,000 tickets. We thought we were close to an agreement when a call came in asking about another artist with a similar fanbase for a concert the first week of June. This artist was a much larger act that would sell 7,000 – 8,000 tickets. Now the fun begins: which show to pursue?

We know from past experience that we cannot host two shows of similar genres that close together. At the same time, we want to make sure that we have something for the music fans of north Mississippi. While we were pondering which direction to go, we received some help in our decision-making process. The first act upped their asking price to an amount that we did not feel comfortable with. That led us to pursue the second act. In baseball terms, we decided to swing for the fences instead of hitting a single or double.

What happened? Well, again in baseball terms, we struck out. The larger act decided not to work that weekend, leaving us without the big show. While we were negotiating with the larger act, the smaller act found another market to play for the date we had originally placed on hold. So it’s back to the drawing board in terms of finding a show for that particular time of year.

Did we make the right choice? We think so. In this business, nothing is guaranteed (except for the large sums of money promised to the artists!). We took a chance on what we thought would have been the best show for the community.

If it had worked out, we would have made a larger number of people happy, as well as brought more business into the Tupelo area. Had we pursued both shows simultaneously and they had both committed to play our venue, we would have had two shows that would have struggled as they competed for the same entertainment dollar. This would have been bad for our market’s reputation in the touring world and would have had a negative impact on future shows.

So there’s a little background on what we consider as we try to bring the best entertainment to the area. We’re still working on a number of events for the future and will continue to swing for the fences. But that doesn’t mean we won’t take a few base hits if we can get them. And for one final sports note: don’t forget that the Mississippi Mudcats kick off their season next Saturday night at 7 p.m. Hope to see you there!

Until next week,


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