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)