Concert Market Rankings: No. 1 Las Vegas

Denise Truscello / Getty Images / Caesars Entertainment
– Usher’s Palace
USHER’S PALACE: Stars from Lady Gaga to Bruno Mars to Usher, pictured here at the grand opening of his Las Vegas residency at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace, July 16, 2021, have set up shop with long-term runs in Sin City.


Beats The Odds, Tops Market Rankings


No matter the question, Vegas is the answer – including which U.S. market was the highest-grossing for live entertainment in 2021.

Shows in the market grossed a gaudy $197.2 million last year, according to Pollstar Boxoffice reports, buoyed by a high average ticket price ($192.79) that far eclipsed other markets on the ranking (of the 10 highest-grossing markets, the one with the next-highest average ticket price was Atlanta, with a figure of $100.79).

“As the leading driver of tourism in Las Vegas, entertainment is the cornerstone of our economic ecosystem here,” says Kurt Melien, president of Live Nation Las Vegas. “As a city we sell an average of two million tickets to events on a two-mile strip every single week. The live event business is also responsible for countless jobs and a great deal of the revenue coming into the city.”

While Sin City is more vital than ever, its success is decades in the making.

“Las Vegas has always been synonymous with live entertainment, dating back to the 1950s, when visitors could catch growing stars like Liberace and Elvis in the casino lounges for as little as $5,” says H. Fletch Brunelle, Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority vice president of marketing. “The ‘Entertainment Capital of the World’ has endured and evolved thanks to the diversity of entertainment offerings reaching every demographic and price point. From large-scale production shows to comedy clubs and DJs, there really is something for everyone.”

That diversity is borne out in the wide-ranging programming documented in Vegas’ box office data. The market’s top-grossing 2021 event wasn’t one of the myriad stadium and arena shows it hosted, but rather Canelo Álvarez and Caleb Plant’s Premier Boxing Champions bout on Nov. 6 – billed as “Road to Undisputed” – which drew a sellout crowd of 15,140 to the MGM Grand Garden Arena for a gross of $18.1 million as the two boxers squared off to determine the sport’s first undisputed super middleweight champion.

Opened in 1993 and the older of Vegas’ two primary arenas – T-Mobile Arena, just a half-mile away, opened its doors in 2016 – the MGM Grand Garden was a hub for all sorts of other live entertainment, including comic Dave Chappelle, who grossed $8 million across four July shows, and Grupo Firme, which moved 58,069 and grossed $5.7 million over three September gigs. Phish’s sold-out four-show Halloween run at the venue moved 62,851 tickets and grossed $5.4 million, and other notable plays included J. Cole ($1.4 million grossed, Oct. 16) and Harry Styles ($1.7 million grossed, Sept. 4).

T-Mobile Arena also had a strong year, highlighted by a UFC event and two boxing bouts, which all cracked $10 million grossed. George Strait, who brought in $4.2 million across two shows at the arena in early 2020, returned for another pair of plays in August, hitting $4.6 million grossed, while the iHeartRadio Music Festival in September brought in nearly $5 million over two nights with a bill featuring Billie Eilish, Coldplay, Journey, Sam Hunt and more.

Of course, the market had a huge newcomer: Allegiant Stadium, which began hosting concerts after its initial programming scheduled for 2020 was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The stadium opened for music with shows by Illenium and Garth Brooks in July, and hosted Guns N’ Roses on Aug. 27, with the iconic hard-rockers grossing $4.1 million from 36,096 tickets sold. Predictably, when The Rolling Stones’ “No Filter Tour” rolled through town on Nov. 6, it blew that figure out of the water, grossing $14.8 million from 42,600 tickets sold – the highest single-night gross by a wide margin of the band’s 2021 trek.

“Las Vegas is home to upwards of 100 showrooms and theaters and, with the addition of new venues like the 65,000-seat Allegiant Stadium, the destination continues to expand its ability to host a diverse array of artists and experiences,” Brunelle says. “World tours, festivals and new residencies have more options than ever when looking for a venue in Las Vegas.”

The market’s other notable newcomer was Resorts World Las Vegas, which opened its theater in 2021 and debuted residencies by Katy Perry and Carrie Underwood as the year came to a close. The venue enters a competitive market for residencies that also includes Dolby Live at Park MGM Las Vegas, which notched Vegas’ top-grossing theater-level report in 2021 by way of two Bruno Mars shows that raked in $3.7 million in July. Mars brought in $19.1 million over 12 shows at the theater that fell within Pollstar’s chart year (Nov. 19, 2020 to Nov. 17, 2021), and added another $6.8 million from four shows there in late December.

Lady Gaga’s residency at the venue netted $13.1 million across nine October shows, while Usher’s run at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace grossed $13 million from 14 shows in July and August. Gwen Stefani’s eight fall shows at Zappos Theater at Planet Hollywood brought in $4.1 million.

While Adele pushed back her run at the Colosseum for pandemic-related reasons – set to begin in January, the revered singer promised all dates would be rescheduled – that slice of the Vegas market still seems poised for a big year, with high-profile residencies plotted by Silk Sonic (Mars’ collaboration with Anderson .Paak), Luke Bryan, Michael Bublé, Sting and Keith Urban.

“Resident artists have now become the faces of Las Vegas,” says Amanda Moore, Live Nation’s senior vice president of Las Vegas residencies. “Back in the day it was Sinatra, Elvis, Sammy Davis Jr., and now it’s Adele and Gaga and Bruno. We have 42 million tourists visiting our strip every year, so we have a unique opportunity other cities don’t that enables artists to make a second home of Las Vegas where their fans will come to them. Fans love the ‘only in Vegas’ experience of seeing their favorite artists in gorgeous, intimate theaters that accommodate extraordinary productions. Our residency onsales move thousands of tickets not only throughout the U.S., but to international fans in upwards of 50 countries, and all of those purchases are the precipice for the booking of an entire Vegas vacation.”

At the club level, no Vegas show did better than Rise Against’s Aug. 20 gig at The Chelsea at the Cosmopolitan, which grossed $137,757 from 2,930 ticket sold, while other rooms like the city’s Brooklyn Bowl and House of Blues outposts also had successful years.

Among Vegas’ many 2021 highlights, Melien cites “Usher’s monster residency that reopened the Colosseum and Reba and Brooks & Dunn’s final shows there, having Guns & Roses as our first show at Allegiant Stadium, the sold-out Chappelle shows at MGM Grand Garden Arena, Gwen’s final show at Zappos Theater, Santana at House of Blues, one of the most beautifully staged shows ever, Derek Hough, at the Venetian, and watching the Foo Fighters crush the Dolby Live stage.”

In summing up Vegas’ offerings – and how they helped the market top Pollstar’s ranking – Brunelle notes that of the city’s pre-pandemic visitor base of approximately 42.5 million annually, roughly 51 percent attend a show when in town.

“It’s one reason Vegas is such an attractive place to do business; you can get business done during the day and on any given night, catch the biggest names in entertainment,” he says. “The thing that sets Vegas apart from other markets is the sheer volume and caliber of our amenities and experiences. There are 150,000 rooms available throughout the destination, ensuring accommodation options at every price point and style. Visitors also can catch a different headliner or production show each night all while also taking in the world-class dining, nightlife, and hospitality only Vegas has to offer.”

Check out Pollstar’s inaugural Concert Market Rankings chart at the link below: