As concert venues opened around the country over the last six months, legendary bands and contemporary hitmakers alike have returned to the stage. But it hasn’t just been the world’s biggest musicians back on tour – athletes have been getting in on the fun, too. Four-time Olympic gold medalist Simone Biles headlined the Gold Over America Tour, grossing $19.3 million and selling 182,000 tickets in 32 cities according to figures reported to Billboard Boxscore.
The GOAT Tour kicked off on Sept. 21 in Tucson, Ariz., running through Nov. 7 with its closing night at Boston’s TD Garden. It was a wise choice to end in Boston as it was the highest-grossing ($1.17 million) and most-attended (9,428 tickets sold) show of the entire run.
Beyond Boston, the tour’s entire routing appears to have been designed to slowly build momentum across the two-month trek. Beginning in Arizona, California and Utah before making its way east, its geographical trajectory matched its performance arch, playing to much bigger crowds as Biles & co. headed toward the Midwest and Northeast.
Boston and Philadelphia were the only markets to cross the 9,000-mark in paid attendance, while Brooklyn joins as one of the tour’s top-grossing cities with $756,000 at the Barclays Center on Nov. 6. The Midwest is represented by Chicago, Minneapolis and Detroit among the tour’s top 10 attended shows.
On the other hand, five of the tour’s eight least-attended dates were in California and two of the remaining three were opening night in Tucson, Ariz. and the Oct. 2 show in West Valley City, Utah (11 miles from Salt Lake City). While it may seem unfair to compare Boston and Philadelphia to Tucson and Sacramento, those five Californian shows included major city stops in Los Angeles (Staples Center) and San Francisco (Chase Center).
Mark Norman, senior vice president of Global Touring at Concerts West, pointed out that California has historically been a strong pocket for Olympic gymnastics showcases. But it makes sense that the 2021 tour’s nightly attendance generally graphs in an upward line, starting slow on the West coast.
For one, the 2021 show format diverted from previous tours. As opposed to the standard one-by-one showcase format, Norman noted “This was a fully choreographed show. A dance extravaganza. A gymnastics extravaganza. A production extravaganza.” Promoters couldn’t get footage of the new-and-improved show until opening night, but once that footage was edited and promoted, week-of and day-of sales picked up, pushing the tour to its peak in its closing nights in the Northeast.
And of course, the rise of COVID-19’s Delta variant affected sales differently throughout the country. Different regions behaved differently, and cases peaked and valleyed throughout the length of the tour. While many concert tours in 2021 had money in the bank from 2019-20 on-sales, The Gold Over America sold all of its tickets during the ebbs and flows of COVID’s most recent waves.
The Gold Over America Tour follows the tradition of U.S. gymnasts touring the nation following the Olympics every four years. Billboard Boxscore has reports dating back to the Olympic & World Champion Gymnastics Tour in 1992. Support has been staggeringly consistent over the last three decades, never dipping below an average of 5,000 tickets.
The one significant spike in sales occurred for the John Hancock Tour of World Gymnastics Champions following the 1996 games, where the iconic Magnificent Seven averaged 11,341 tickets per show. Momentum was strong enough that the tour extended well into ’97, still selling more than 7,500 tickets each night.
The 2021 edition of the perennial Olympic gymnastics showcase stood out from its predecessors, not only in its leveled-up production, but in the make-up of its performers. “This was an entirely female cast: 60-70% of the crew was female, in every department. A lot of moms came up to me and said, ‘thank you so much’.” The show featured 13 gymnasts, including Ellie Black, Jade Carey, Jordin Chiles and others (in addition to Biles).
The Gold Over America Tour was promoted by Concerts West/AEG Presents and Magicspace Entertainment.