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November 2, 2010

Why U2's 2011 Baltimore show will be a one-off

When U2 plays M&T Bank Stadium next year, it will be the city's first stadium headliner in two years.

But even though it'll bring crowds and dollars to Baltimore, here's why there probably won't be a repeat for another two years.

For one, "while rock bands used to exclusively play stadiums, in the last decade the increased cost of producing a stage show has shifted the burden of making a profit to the stadiums.

"The economics of producing a stage show today are extremely difficult," said Gary Bongiovanni, editor of Pollstar, the concert industry's trade magazine. "To make it work, you almost have to guarantee a sellout or come close to capacity."

M&T can only now book artists who can sell all 70,000 seats, or they won't make a profit.

"If you look at the concert industry today, you're not seeing many acts playing stadium shows," said Roy Sommerhof, vice president of stadium operations. "For an act to sell a stadium now, it'd would have to be a mega act,"

That's why M&T hasn't had a concert since 2008's Kenny Chesney show, he said.

Artists themselves are realizing that they can make stadium-sized money by playing in arenas instead, which cost less to produce and sell faster. Bruce Springsteen, the Rolling Stones, even young big acts like Lady Gaga and Beyonce are playing more venues like 1st Mariner than M&T or FedEx Field.

Complicating matters for M&T is regional competition, not just from Baltimore arena's, but from the aggressive FedEx and Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia.

Booking a show at M&T is also a complicated dance that involves convincing promoters Live Nation they can sell tickets; the Maryland Stadium Authority, which runs the stadium; and the schedules of the Ravens, which books the shows, and the Orioles, with whom the stadium shares parking space.

Question: Since production costs have increased, ticket costs have also increased, which means stadium shows can be cost-prohibitive for fans. When U2 comes to Baltimore, will you be shelling out the big bucks to see them?

Photo: U2's 360-Degree Tour (Jasper Juinen, Getty Images)

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Posted by Erik Maza at 9:39 AM | | Comments (7)
Categories: Music News


I stopped going to stadium concerts years ago. Weather too risky, sound almost always bad, crowds too big, too hard to get in and out, yada, yada.

Like OldPhil, I gave up on stadium concerts a while ago. I'd think long and hard about U2, since I missed them the last time they were anywhere near Baltimore, but ticket price will influence my decision.

this blog is so boring.

You don't want to miss a U2 show. The sound is amazing and the staging out of this world. They are the Biggest Rock Band in the world and yet, you will feel like they are playing right in front of you. The tickets are worth the price. They bring a rockin show even in pouring down rain.

The band is a great one. Three musical artists on drums, bass and guitar and Bono is an exceptional singer/showman. That is MY opinion. I don't claim to be an expert.

I've seen them indoors and out for over twenty years at medium to large venues and stadiums. This is MY experience. That does not make me an expert.

But--- Ticket prices are too damn high! Especially when the 'fan' is pretty much frozen out of the original purchase and is forced to deal with scalpers, craigslist, ticket brokers and fake tickets.

saw this last year in DC. U2 always delivers but stadium shows blow big time. we had great seats, it was a great night but still impossible to feel like the boys give a crap. perfect for hanging out ,crowd watching and catching the proverbial contact high. if i would of had to pay 250 a seat i would of been very dissapointed. they are one of the few groups that can pull this off but ill wait until the are rams head live

I've already bought my tickets, but only because it's U2.

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About Erik Maza
Erik Maza is a features reporter at the Baltimore Sun. He writes for several sections of the Sun paper and contributes weekly columns on music and nightlife. He also writes and edits the Midnight Sun blog. He often covers entertainment, business, and the business of entertainment. Occasionally, he writes about Four Loko, The Block, the liquor board, and those who practice "simulated sex with a potted palm tree." Before The Sun, he was a reporter at the Miami New Times. He's also written for Miami magazine, the Orlando Sentinel, the Sarasota Herald Tribune and the Gainesville Sun. Got tips? Gripes? Pitches? He's reachable at Click here to keep up with the dumb music he's listening to.

Midnight Sun covers Baltimore music, live entertainment, and nightlife news. On the blog, you'll find, among other things, concert announcements, breaking news, bars closings and openings, up-to-date coverage of crime in nightlife, new music, round-the-clock coverage of Virgin Mobile FreeFest, handy guides on bars staying open past 2 a.m. on New Year's Eve and those that carry Natty Boh on draft. Recurring features include seven-day nightlife guides, Concert News, guest reviews of bars and concerts, Wednesday Corkboard, and photo galleries, as well as reader-submitted photos. Thanks for reading.

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