All local concert venues listed on Pollstar’s year-end summary showed a decrease in business last year, with the Sports Arena and SDSU’s Open Air Theatre showing the largest declines.
Cricket Wireless (formerly Coors) Amphitheatre came in at 27 on the list of 100 top amphitheaters, selling 210,000 tickets in 2008 (down from 249,000 the year before); the Open Air Theatre came in last on that list, falling from 88 to 100. OAT sold almost half as many tickets in 2008 (17,600) as were sold in 2007 (32,000).
On the list of arena venues, the Sports Arena fell from 53 in 2007 to 98 last year. Sports Arena moved 211,000 tickets in 2007 but only 117,000 last year.
The local House of Blues held its own on the list of top 100 clubs, selling 78,000 tickets in 2008, making it the 49th most successful nightclub on the list. 4th&B fell off the list completely in 2008 but was number 95 in 2007.
The top-grossing local concert last year was Madonna’s November show at Petco Park; all 35,743 tickets (priced between $55 and $350) were sold, grossing $5,097,000. In previous years, tours by blink-182 and Jewel showed up on the list of the 100 most successful worldwide tours; no local artists showed up on this year’s list.
Not showing up on the top-100-amphitheater list was the new Concerts on the Green outdoor venue located at the southwest corner of the Qualcomm Stadium parking lot (it used to serve as the Chargers’ practice field). AEG Live brought Bob Dylan, Stone Temple Pilots, and Paramore (among others) to the 13,000-capacity venue last year.
Insiders say that AEG has decided to walk away from the Concerts on the Green facility and focus on its new, exclusive relationship with the Sports Arena.
“That venue was a stiff,” says one promoter who never did business at the Mission Valley venue. “I heard every one of the shows they did there [last year] lost money except one. I heard they nicknamed the 91X X-Fest [in May 2008] ‘mosquito fest.’ ”
Qualcomm general manager Mike McSweeney says he has “dates on hold” for AEG this summer. AEG San Diego executives did not respond to a request for comment before press time.
— Ken Leighton