“I first worked with George Strait during our show in 1983 when he [and his band were] a last-hour fill-in for an ailing Eddie Rabbitt at a sold-out Saturday night rodeo/concert performance in the Astrodome. They arrived after the rodeo had started, resulting in no sound check or rehearsal, and went on our stage in the Astrodome with borrowed hats from our volunteer officers. He stole the show, and has been a legend in Houston ever since.
“There is no equal to George Strait in this business. Since that first show in 1983, he has performed at RodeoHouston 29 times — all sellouts. That is 29 shows in 30 years. He closed out the Astrodome for us in 2002 with an Astrodome record attendance, and he was our first concert entertainer in the new Reliant Stadium in 2003. He sold 80,020 tickets for the Cowboy Rides Away tour during RodeoHouston’s closing performance in 2013, and that’s a record that probably will never be broken.
“There is no entertainer that could have accomplished these fantastic feats: 29 sold-out performances and more than 1.6 million fans at RodeoHouston; the all-time attendance record for any event in the Astrodome; and the all-time attendance record for any event in Reliant Stadium. He is truly one of a kind.”
VP/COO, Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo (aka RodeoHouston)
“I can tell you that he’s an icon to San Antonians. He’s played to packed crowds at the Alamodome numerous times but his recent tour stop on June 1 was a record-breaker for the Alamodome — 73,086 — the largest attended event ever in our 20-year history. We were very fortunate to work with a legendary professional as Mr. Strait. Everyone associated with his tour, and the Messina Group, was extremely respectful, professional and truly focused on making the fan experience a memorable one.”
-Nicholas A. Langella, CFE GM, Alamodome, San Antonio
“We had George Strait in February 2006. We sold it out, in the round — probably the most number of tickets we sold for a show since I’ve been there. It was a great show; the crowd loved it. It’s one of those shows that the fans are always asking, ‘When is he going to come back?'”
-Scott Mullen, GM, iWireless Center, Moline, Ill.
“We don’t do a lot of country, and George Strait sold out — a good night all around. The crowd was cowgirls and cowboys, and it was awesome. We’re glad he’s coming back.”
director of bookings,
HP Pavilion, San Jose, Calif.
“George Strait was a very special show for us considering he opened the stadium in 2009. [One of the top Billboard Boxscores of Strait’s career was at the former Cowboys Stadium, now AT&T Stadium, in Arlington, Texas, on June 6, 2009.] We felt he was the perfect artist to open [the stadium] based on his legendary status and strong following in our local market. The event sold out quickly and he did not disappoint with his performance. It was a memorable event for all involved. Having a stadium full of country fans watching the ‘King of Country’ was a night to remember.”
senior VP of sales and booking, AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas
“”I remember when he first started doing shows in the round in our building. While he wasn’t the first one to do it, he was one of the first country acts to ever play in the round. It was very unique in the sense that his production was way ahead of its time, and the interaction between him and the audience was quite surprising, considering how low-key his show is normally. That’s what I found to be very interesting the last few times we played him.”
-Matt McDonnell, assistant executive director, Mississippi Coast Coliseum, Biloxi, Miss.
What a great show it was [in 2010]. There were about 14,000 people there — they loved every minute of it. I have a great picture with George Strait that we took. We gave him a hand-crafted, leather belt buckle. Everybody loved it, and he sold out.”
GM, Birmingham Jefferson Civic Center, Birmingham, Ala.
“Greensboro Coliseum has a long history with George Strait and his team for more than 25 years. We’ve been very fortunate to be selected to host his last four tours in 2004, 2007, 2010 and the Cowboy Rides Away in 2013. These four tours alone are some of the most successful in [our] history. George Strait continues to be a consummate professional who provides a performance that his fans truly embrace and remember — and a gentleman that honors his commitments.
“On Valentine’s Day in 2004, we had a blockbuster Saturday-night on-sale. I get a call at home that, in one of only a handful of times in George’s life, he was too sick to perform. [Promoter] Ben Farrell was emphatic that George was just as upset by this and would reschedule immediately and deliver for his loyal fans. It only took an hour or so and Ben rescheduled eight days later. I genuinely believed we sold more tickets for the new date.
“My second fondest memory was in 2007 when George had assembled what we think is one of the more unique opening-act combos in the business with Taylor Swift and Ronnie Milsap on the bill. There was a lot history onstage that night.
“Hats off to the Texas Troubadour as he rides away. But if he ever wants to ride in for a comeback, Greensboro Coliseum is one of his biggest tour stops.”
-Scott E. Johnson, deputy director, Greensboro Coliseum Complex, Greensboro, N.C.
“On May 13, 2000, we hosted George Strait’s wildly popular George Strait Chevy Truck Country Music Festival at the Florida Citrus Bowl. George headlined, of course. It was also notable because of performances by future country superstars like Kenny Chesney, Tim McGraw and Martina McBride. With 70,000 seats, the Florida Citrus Bowl is our largest venue where only truly legendary performers have been able to sell out. I also have a fond memory of George donating ticket inventory to local charities and active and retired military. Even though he doesn’t have trouble selling out shows, he still remembers to help others.”
-Tanya Bowley, marketing and promotions manager, Orlando Venues, Orlando, Fla.
“I’ve probably had George Strait [at City of Orlando venues] four or five times in my career. George doesn’t do a lot of talking; he just gets up there and sings, and people like that. He’s a consummate professional; he’s gracious. The deals are the deals; there aren’t a lot of arguments. Working with [promoter] Louie Messina is always great. It’s down to a science. It’s the easiest thing ever — you walk in and it’s all done.”
-Allen Johnson, director of facilities, Orlando Venues, Orlando, Fla.
“George Strait holds the record for the biggest crowd at the Verizon Arena, when he played in the round in 2006. It was great, huge. George always amazes me. How excited all the women get when he turns around.”
-Michael Marion, GM, Verizon Arena, North Little Rock, Ark.
“I first played a date with George Strait at Roberts Stadium in Evansville, Ind., in the early ’90s. It was a smaller venue, and that was the first time I’d ever seen him in concert. I was so amazed by his control of the audience. They were enthralled, like it was a deity onstage. Since then, he was the largest attended event in the history of the BOK Center.”
-John Bolton, GM, BOK Center, Tulsa, Okla.
“At one of the CMA Awards several years ago [at the Bridgestone Arena], I remember the awe that he received onstage, looking at his [artist] peers in the audience and how they revered him. That was very impressive. He’s the man.”
-Hugh Lombardi, senior VP/GM, TD Garden, Boston; former GM, Bridgestone Arena, Nashville
Compiled by Mitchell Peters, Emily Votaw, Ray Waddell and Nick Williams.