George Strait Tour Kicks Off, a Little Smaller

The Fourth Annual George Strait Country Music Festival kicks off its 2001 season Saturday (March 24) in Tampa, Fla., and for the first time it will not be an all-stadium tour — perhaps the first tour victim of a tightening economy. For the past three years, the tour has averaged 45,000 persons per show.

Four dates on the tour have been downgraded from stadiums to smaller amphitheatres. Miami’s March 25 show is moved from Pro Player Stadium to Mars Music Amphitheatre in West Palm Beach; May 13’s St. Louis concert is shifted to Riverport Amphitheatre from the TWA Dome; May 20’s Minneapolis Metrodome show has been replaced by a show in Pittsburgh at the Post-Gazette Pavilion at Star Lake; and the May 26 Joliet, Ill., show at Route 66 Speedway will now be held at the New World Amphitheatre in Tinley Park, Ill.

“You have to look at ticket sales as the problem,” said Ray Waddell, who covers touring for Billboard. “In the Chicago case, they had traffic problems with the venue. But in the other three places, they had already made the deals and then moved. This is going from 45,000 or 50,000 down to 16,000 or so. This year, the Strait tour is not repeating markets; they’re playing new ones. That may be part of it.”

One other stadium tour has been drastically altered, said Waddell. “The Backstreet Boys had an all-stadium tour planned,” he said. “They’ve already scaled it back to arenas.”

Strait ticket prices range from $39.50 to $69.50 for the all-day affair, with two stages and a sideshow. “That sounds a little high,” said Waddell, “but that’s a good value ticket for what you get.”

Artists on the tour, in addition to Strait, are Alan Jackson, Brad Paisley, Sara Evans, Asleep at the Wheel, Lee Ann Womack and Lonestar. BR5-49 and the Warren Brothers will play the second stage.

George Strait Country Musical Festival dates as provided by the tour’s publicist:

March 24 — Tampa, Fla. @ Raymond James Stadium
March 25 — West Palm Beach, Fla. @ Mars Music Amphitheatre
March 31 — Tempe, Ariz. @ Sun Devil Stadium
April 1 — Las Vegas, Nev. @ Las Vegas Motor Speedway
April 7 — New Orleans, La. @ Louisiana Superdome
April 8 — Little Rock, Ark. @ War Memorial Stadium
April 21 — Columbia, S.C. @ Williams – Brice Stadium
April 22 — Atlanta, Ga. @ Turner Field
May 12 — Kansas City, Mo. @ Arrowhead Stadium
May 13 — Maryland Heights, Mo. @ Riverport Amphitheatre
May 19 — Milwaukee, Wisc. @ Miller Field
May 20 — Burgettstown, Pa. @Post-Gazette Pavilion @Star Lake
May 26 — Tinley Park, Ill. @ New World Music Theatre
May 27 — Louisville, Ky. @ Papa John’s Stadium
June 9 — San Antonio, Texas @ Alamodome
June 10 — Irving, Texas @ Texas Stadium