By Tanner Kent
---- — MANKATO — How do you make 5,500 tickets disappear in five minutes?
Stamp the name Florida Georgia Line on the front and sell them in Mankato for an Oct. 4 concert at the Verizon Wireless Center.
Eric Jones, who is in his 12th year as marketing manager for the Verizon Wireless Center, said the country music duo's whose meteoric rise to popularity was propelled by the award-winning single "Cruise" set a venue record for fastest sellout when tickets went on sale at 10 a.m. on Aug. 9.
Within 300 seconds, every seat was gone.
"Nothing even comes close to that," Jones said. "I've never seen anything like it."
Though Sir Elton John might be the most recognizable and influential artist ever to play in Mankato — his 2012 concert still holds Verizon's reserved-seating attendance record at more than 7,000 — single seats remained for his performance more than an hour after going on sale. Recent country acts that have sold out in Mankato include Eric Church and Brantley Gilbert, but both took a few days to sell out.
Other notable acts to play in Mankato include: Buckcherry and Papa Roach, who teamed up for a 2009 concert in Mankato that rivaled Aerosmith's record for general admission attendance, B.B. King, John Mellencamp, Tom Petty, Alan Jackson and Kenny Chesney. None, however, even come close to Florida Georgia Line's five-minute mark.
Perhaps that shouldn't be surprising.
On July 26, Florida Georgia Line broke the record at Sears Centre Arena in Chicago for fastest sellout when they sold out all tickets to their Oct. 31 performance within five minutes. Last week, "Cruise" set the all-time record for most weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot Country songs.
Terry Cooley, director of programming for Radio Mankato, said the band's popularity in Mankato has been on a steady rise since Minnesota Country 93.1 FM began playing its songs more than a year ago. He cited the band's pop/rock crossover appeal and a musical sensibility akin to country mainstays Brooks & Dunn as reasons for the appeal.
"They are their own animal," he said, adding that the station's presale ticket event for members of its Country Club also sold out very quickly. "They are as hot as anybody that has come through here."
The promoter for the concert is St. Louis-based Police Productions, which previously brought country acts Jason Aldean and Miranda Lambert to Mankato in 2009 and 2011, respectively. In a press release issued by Verizon staff, promoters are quoted as saying the Verizon is an "ideal venue" and that the concert represents a "perfect example of a great act playing a great building."
In the same release, Florida Georgia Line issued this statement: “Minnesota is another place where we have already had memorable experiences. We think of WE Fest and The Myth in St. Paul and all of those passionate country music fans we quickly learned about. We can't wait to get to Mankato and hopefully throw the party of the fall."
Editor's note: This version of the story reflects a corrected venue location.