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The Decade in Touring: Trans-Atlantic Arenas Dominate, Led by London's O2 Arena

Drake
Burak Cingi/Redferns

Drake performs at the O2 Arena on March 20, 2017 in London, United Kingdom. 

Recapping the 2010s Top Venues chart.

Throughout the 2010s, the touring business simultaneously grew in ways big and small.

Festivals proliferated to the point of over-saturation, capturing hundreds of thousands of fans over the course of a weekend, while stadium stars stepped back to theater residencies to connect with intimate audiences of superfans.

As genres and trends ebbed and flowed, contemporary artists scaled new heights, with chart-toppers and cult stars of pop, rock, country, hip-hop, Latin, classical and world music sharing venue calendars with one another, as well as veteran artists that have dominated the touring landscape over decades.

But the ever-increasing competition for venue availability meant that concert sites of all sizes and structures thrived, and in an era of declining album sales amid streaming's rise, concerts remain unique, and uniquely bankable, experiences.

Based on cumulative grosses from Dec. 1, 2009, through Sept. 30, 2019, as reported to Billboard Boxscore, Billboard has published our 50-position list of the Top Venues of the 2010s. On top, arenas from opposite sides of the pond exceed $1 billion in earnings for the first time in a single decade. London's O2 Arena wins the gold, while New York's Madison Square Garden is No. 2.

The survey is among Billboard's 30 charts encompassing the decade.

Arenas take 35 of the 50 spots, or 70% of the entire ranking. Following the O2 and MSG, the Manchester Arena in Manchester, England (No. 5), Staples Center in Los Angeles (No. 7), Qudos Bank Arena in Sydney (No. 9), and Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne (No. 10) follow in the top 10.

The decade's top-grossing theater is New York's Radio City Music Hall, the third venue to cross the billion-dollar mark over the 10-year period, greatly aided by annual holiday showings of the Radio City Christmas Spectacular, which brought in over $700 million during the decade. (The venues list incorporates all events, including sports and family programs, except for tenant sports teams; Madison Square Garden's rank, for example, does not factor in ticket sales for the NBA's Knicks or NHL's Rangers.)

Continuing down the top 10 is the decade's top stadium, as MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., is No. 6 on the overall list. Stadiums occupy a unique space on the decade-end ranking. With capacities ranging from 55,000-90,000, there is great opportunity to maximize gross on each event, but as open-air outdoor venues, their calendars are generally restricted to certain months of the year. Still, MetLife Stadium reported 235 shows, topped by a recent two-night stint by The Rolling Stones, which grossed $25.5 million on Aug. 1 and 5, 2019.

Geographically, North American venues eat up 36 positions, covering 72% of the chart. Of that, 32 are in the U.S., while two Canadian arenas and two Mexican venues (one stadium and one theater) crack the top 50. Topped by the O2 Arena, Europe snags nine spots, while four Australian arenas make the list. At No. 49 is Estadio do Morumbi in Sao Paulo, Brazil, the lone South American venue on the survey.

Las Vegas is the most-represented city on the list, with four venues, ranging from the 4,000-cap Colosseum at Caesar's Palace (No. 4) to the 20,000-capacity T-Mobile Arena (No. 15). Overall, the greater New York area, in all its sprawl, occupies six slots: three in Manhattan and three in East Rutherford, N.J. (MetLife Stadium, No. 6), Brooklyn (Barclays Center, No. 12) and Newark, N.J. (Prudential Center, No. 22).

Atlanta, Chicago, London and Mexico City each make two appearances, while Los Angeles and Boston, also with large regional live footprints, boast a mix of city-proper and nearby venues. Los Angeles ranks at Nos. 7 and 41 with the Staples Center and Microsoft Theater, respectively (plus Inglewood's The Forum at No. 14 and Anaheim's Honda Center at No. 44), while Boston places at No. 34 with TD Garden, adjacent to Gillette Stadium, just south of the city in Foxborough, Massachusetts, at No. 33.

TOP ARTISTS: STAY TUNED!

For overall Top Artists and genre-specific artist recaps, including Top Touring Artists, acts ranked Nos. 11 through 50 on each are viewable in our decade-end charts menu, while those at Nos. 10 through 6 will be revealed monthly leading up to the Billboard Music Awards, airing live on NBC on April 29, 2020, when No. 1 for each category will be announced from among five remaining finalists.

How We Charted the Decade: Billboard's decade-end recaps encompass chart performance from Dec. 5, 2009, through Sept. 28, 2019 (except for those for the Social 50, which began on Dec. 11, 2010, and Hot Dance/Electronic Songs and Streaming Songs, each of which launched on Jan. 26, 2013).

On the decade-end Hot Songs and Top Albums recaps, titles are ranked based on an inverse point system, with weeks at No. 1 on weekly charts earning the greatest value and weeks at lower positions earning the least. Due to changes in chart methodology and title turnover rates over the decade, certain periods were weighted differently.

Top Artists recaps are ranked based on a formula blending performance, as outlined above, of all their chart entries. Specifically, the overall Top Artists category ranks the best-performing artists based on activity on the Billboard Hot 100 songs chart and the Billboard 200 albums tally, as well as social media data and touring revenue from Billboard Boxscore, while genre-focused Top Artists rankings blend acts' decade-spanning performance on each genre's main song and album charts.

Billboard's decade-end touring charts are based on Billboard Boxscore data for performances between Dec. 1, 2009, and Sept. 30, 2019.


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