The Free Press, Mankato, MN


March 24, 2014

Civic center bustling

Conventions, park concerts fueling civic center


Country dominates concert scene

While several big rock shows were featured during the early years of the civic center, country has steadily dominated.

“We had some good success with larger country shows. We’ve had four sell-outs the last couple of years. Eric Church was big. Florida Georgia Line sold out more quickly than any, even quicker than Elton John,” Lyman said.

Lyman said the success of country isn’t a Midwest phenomenon. “Country is a big thing nationwide, period.”

He noted, for example, that a big annual national convention for agents and venue managers such as Lyman previously was held in Los Angeles but is now in Nashville. “It shows how strong country is. Whether it will stay that way, I don’t know.”

Lyman said Mankato’s ability to sell out large concerts, be it Elton John or country acts, has given the city credibility and attention with agents.

“We never had a string with so many sell-outs. That gets attention of acts and agents. And with the Elton John concert, they had flex pricing with their tickets and they were able to sell thousands of tickets at higher prices. That showed the industry that Mankato could sell higher ticket prices so long as it’s a higher quality act.”

The city gets the lion’s share of its revenues, not from any ticket sales but from concession sales. Venues used to get some cut of ticket sales, but changes in the industry has all but ended that.

“These groups need to make their money touring. With the (music) downloads, they’re not selling albums anymore so they tour hard and the ticket sales go to the promoter and the band.”

Meetings, conventions stay strong

While big star concerts draw the most attention, it’s the meetings and conventions that are the bread and butter of the civic center.

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