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‘Sharing Steel’ Will Be Key to This Year’s Stadium Tours

Artists can save millions sharing the costs of venue conversion and stage set-ups, according to executives at this week's Pollstar Live.

Industry executives are dubbing 2022 the “year of the stadium” and key to pulling off all these tours will be sharing.

“Sharing steel,” to be more exact, by spreading the cost of converting the sporting venue into a live music space across multiple acts — this can can save artists millions of dollars on a tour, according to Live Nation executive vp global touring Gerry Barad. The industry veteran told a crowd at Pollstar Live this week that he looks for large swaths of time (around two weeks) where a stadium is free of its home tenants – such as a football or baseball team – and book between two to five shows to get the most revenue for each tour.

“You’re saving hundreds of thousands of dollars because you are amortizing it over three to five shares,” said Barad. In a union city like Chicago, Barad added, “the savings combined is over a million dollars.”

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During Wednesday’s “So if 2022 is the Year of the Stadium, What Was 1994?” panel at Pollstar Live in Los Angeles, Jenna Adler of CAA added that most artists don’t mind playing on shared stages. “When you present the financial savings of sharing steel, it is a pretty quick answer. It’s positive because it is hundreds of thousands of dollars in savings,” said Adler who helped book The Hella Mega Tour featuring Green Day, Fall Out Boy and Weezer. According to Billboard Boxscore, The Hella Mega Tour was the second highest grossing tour of 2021 with 20 shows bringing in more than $67 million.

Barad told the audience at the Beverly Hilton that most stadium tours benefit from other stadium acts touring at the same time since they tend to require the same essential setup. He called tours that don’t fit the traditional four or six-poster set up “pig vomit” tours since “they have a custom stage set up.”

SoFi Stadium and Hollywood Park senior vp programming Christy Castillo Butcher explained that the new Los Angeles stadium, which will also host the Super Bowl this weekend, has filled its calendar for the up to 100,000-seat venue with acts pulling double headers. So far in 2022, SoFi will have double headers from Grupo Firme and Bad Bunny, as well as Kenny Chesney and Red Hot Chili Peppers within a week of each other.

Panelists agreed that one of the issues moving forward with stadium dates is developing more talent to play beyond arenas.

“A stadium is great, but if you’re not filling it you’re not playing it,” said Adler.

Castillo-Butcher added, “Our next generation [of stadium acts are] BTS. It’s K-pop. It is Latin. It is Grupo Firme. It’s Bad Bunny.”

Wasserman Music senior vp Mike Betterton, who works with Kenny Chesney, said some artists just have to take the leap of faith. According to Betterman, Chesney has been playing stadiums since 2003 but he and his team felt unsure about their first stadium show.

“Going from 15,000 seats to, I think we scaled at 60,000 seats, it’s like saying you’re ready to get married,” said Betterton. “If you’re ready, it’s too late.”