The fourth annual George Strait Country Music Festival will kick off its 2001 season Saturday in Tampa, Florida, and for the first time it will not be an all-stadium tour.
For the past three years, the tour has averaged 45,000 people per show, but this year four dates have been downgraded from stadiums to much smaller amphitheaters. Miami's March 25 show has been moved from Pro Player Stadium to Mars Music Amphitheatre in West Palm Beach, the May 13 St. Louis concert has been shifted to Riverport Amphitheatre from the TWA Dome; the May 20 Minneapolis Metrodome show has been replaced by a show in Pittsburgh at the Post-Gazette Pavilion at Star Lake; and the May 26 Joliet, Illinois, show at the Route 66 Speedway will now be held at the New World Amphitheatre in Tinley Park, Illinois.
"You have to look at ticket sales as the problem" said Ray Waddell, who covers touring for Billboard. "In the Chicago case, they had traffic problems with the venue. But in the other three places, they had already made the deals and then moved. This is going from 45,000 or 50,000 down to 16,000 or so. This year, the Strait tour is not repeating markets; they're playing new ones. That may be part of it."
Another of this year's stadium tours is playing to smaller audiences as well, Waddell said. "The Backstreet Boys had an all-stadium tour planned. They've already scaled it back to arenas."
Strait ticket prices range from $39.50 to $69.50 for the all-day affair, with two stages and a sideshow. "That sounds a little high," Waddell said, "but that's a good value ticket for what you get."
Artists on the tour, in addition to Strait, include Alan Jackson, Brad Paisley, Sara Evans, Asleep at the Wheel, Lee Ann Womack and Lonestar. BR5-49 and the Warren Brothers will play the second stage.
George Strait Country Musical Festival dates as provided by the tour's publicist:
- 3/24 - Tampa, FL @ Raymond James Stadium
- 3/25 - West Palm Beach, FL @ Mars Music Amphitheatre
- 3/31 - Tempe, AZ @ Sun Devil Stadium
- 4/1 - Las Vegas, NV @ Las Vegas Motor Speedway
- 4/7 - New Orleans, LA @ Louisiana Superdome
- 4/8 - Little Rock, AR @ War Memorial Stadium
- 4/21 - Columbia, SC @ Williams - Brice Stadium
- 4/22 - Atlanta, GA @ Turner Field
- 5/12 - Kansas City, MO @ Arrowhead Stadium
- 5/13 - Maryland Heights, MO @ Riverport Amphitheatre
- 5/19 - Milwaukee, WI @ Miller Field
- 5/20 - Burgettstown, PA @Post-Gazette Pavilion at Star Lake
- 5/26 - Tinley Park, IL @ New World Music Theatre
- 5/27 - Louisville, KY @ Papa John's Stadium
- 6/9 - San Antonio, TX @ Alamodome
- 6/10 - Irving, TX @ Texas Stadium