NFL Stadiums Join Concert Forces

The stadium concert – once considered the epitome of artist excess and object of scorn for all but the most die-hard fans of music’s very biggest acts – is back on the radar thanks to the formation of the Gridiron Stadium Network.

Ten National Football League teams have banded together in an effort to promote and raise awareness of their venues, expand their use and provide opportunities for a wide range of events including concerts. Two more teams are expected to sign on shortly, according to GSN spokesman and concert industry vet Tom Rooney.

By leveraging resources and working with the concert industry’s top professionals, as well as creating much-sought synergy to attract football fans, the GSN hopes to develop events including concerts, festivals, soccer, motor sports, rodeos and trade shows.

One advantage is the ability to route national tours through stadiums in Detroit; Pittsburgh; Philadelphia; Houston; Denver; Cincinnati; Buffalo, N.Y.; Kansas City, Mo.; Green Bay, Wis.; and Washington, D.C.

“These new stadiums, with their state-of-the-art amenities, can provide a better concert experience than was possible in the past, especially since they can be configured to seat as few as 20,000 and up to 60,000 or more fans,” Rooney told Pollstar.

“The Network also enables these venues to bring in revenue in the summer months, when they’re not being used for football,” he added. “During the regular season, they might be open for a dozen or so dates and, if they have college teams, maybe as few as another eight to 10.

“Now, these stadiums can expand their revenue opportunities by opening their doors for any number of additional events. At Heinz Field, for instance, there are additional facilities to the stadium that can host multiple events,” Rooney said.

Besides the playing fields, which can be utilized for festivals and the largest concerts, some of the stadiums in GSN have adjacent amphitheatres, conference complexes and all have luxury suites that can be made available for events.

And they all come with NFL season ticketholders who are a natural draw and a potential new fan base.

As an advocacy and lobbying group, the GSN won’t negotiate or directly promote events – which should calm the fears of those who remember former New England Patriots owner Chuck Sullivan’s ill-fated attempt to promote the notorious Jacksons 1984 “Victory” tour.

By the time it was over, Sullivan’s group lost its collective shirt, forcing the sale of his team and Sullivan Stadium in Foxboro, Mass.

With the involvement of seasoned veterans like Rooney, who cut his teeth at Pace Concerts, the chances for a similar stadium tour misadventure are virtually nil. The GSN has already been talking to promoters excited at the prospect of working with the group.

The Messina Group‘s Louis Messina is in the process of booking country superstar Kenny Chesney‘s summer tour, and said he’s got three dates tentatively lined up at GSN facilities.

“It’s appealing,” Messina told Pollstar. “Tom Rooney used to work with me, and I think that Tom is one of the greatest promoters of all time, and one of the greatest salesmen of all time.

“He’s one of the most visionary people I’ve met in the business, and his idea is something I think works,” he continued. “To me, this is a great way to help grow our business. The fact is, we can tap into these people who are committed to these football teams.”

The Houston-based promoter also sees the GSN as an alternative to traditional concert venues, including that old summer standby, the shed.

“These are top-of-the-line stadiums. They’re beautiful. They’re no longer these old raggedy buildings. These stadiums are nicer than arenas and much nicer than amphitheatres,” Messina said.