Set Us Free, Why Don’t You?
A July 14 show at the FleetCenter in Boston is the latest gig to be cancelled according to venue spokesperson Jim Delaney, bringing the number of dead dates to five.
And the number may be rising to six, with an Nederlander Organization newsletter claiming the plug has been pulled on an August 8 stop at the Arrowhead Pond of Anaheim, Calif.,
After consecutive cancellations in Wantagh, N.Y., Washington, D.C., and Pittsburgh, Diana Ross issued a press release on July 10 accusing her promoters at SFX of canceling the tour and expressing her “severe disappointment.”
SFX reps, meanwhile, insisted that the tour was still on.
With ticket sales tanking at 1,400 for the 16,500-seat Hartford Civic Center for a show July 12, venue spokespersons reported the show was still on, despite the announcement by Ross.
Howard Schacter, vice president of public relations for SFX, told Pollstar on the same day, “As far as we are concerned, the tour is still on. But that could change at any moment.”
A Ross spokesman, Paul Bloch, said that Ross stands by her statement.
The FleetCenter’s Delaney told Pollstar he received written notification the Boston show was canceled on July 12, but said the notice gave no indication of the demise of any other dates.
“We were reading in the media that the show was canceled, but we were moving forward anyway since we had received no official word of cancellation until just five or 10 minutes ago,” Delaney said.
The FleetCenter had sold about half the house, and according to Delaney, tickets “weren’t selling horribly.”
Sounding relieved, Delaney said, “For us, we can move forward with offering fans a ticket refund and go from there. It was frustrating for fans to be hearing news reports and from Diana herself the show was canceled.
“At least now we’re able to offer confirmation that was the case. So fortunately, we can offer notice at least 24 hours in advance rather than the day of the show, like some places got.”
The posturing over whether or not the tour is actually canceled is creating major headaches for venues on the schedule and confusing the heck out of the fans. For all practical purposes, the tour is over, so why drag out the cancellation announcements one painful date at a time?
Money, of course. The deal between Ross and SFX is undoubtedly complex and fraught with contingencies but the current battle probably hinges on very basic principles of accountability. If Ross cancels the tour, she could be held in breach of contract. If SFX throws in the towel, it will likely have to pay Ross her guarantee for the entire tour.
Inevitably, the lawyers will decide who wins this battle of wills.