It’s been 10 years since Bill Clinton got down with the Black Eyed Peas and Bono.
On Oct. 23, 2009, the former president took in a U2 gig at Sam Boyd Stadium, the show opened by the aforementioned pop quartet. That was the last stadium concert to take place in Las Vegas.
That’ll change in 2020.
With the opening of Allegiant Stadium next year, the city will get both an NFL team and a significantly expanded roster of stadium shows at once.
While no concerts have been announced yet, both local promoters and national industry figures predict that it’s only a matter of time before a big new venue begets some big new shows as Las Vegas becomes a part of the stadium concert circuit to a greater extent than it has been in the past.
“It does put us on the map and helps brings some of those big productions to town,” says Bobby Reynolds, senior vice president of events promotion company AEG Presents Las Vegas. “Artists are going to want to play there and be the first that play there. Locals and tourists want to come see the stadium — they’re going to hear about it, they want to experience it for themselves.”
To Reynolds, the fact that the venue will also house a pro team will help when it comes to being able to draw the crowds needed to fill a stadium gig.
“Season ticket sales for the Raiders, and the PSLs (personal seat licenses) that go along with them, have been reportedly incredible,” he notes. “So they have a built-in infrastructure of people who will buy tickets, I think.”
While only a select number of acts are capable of playing stadiums, business has been strong on that front of late.
“It’s a fairly robust market for stadium shows these days,” says Don Muret, a senior editor at concert industry trade publication VenuesNow. “It’s been that way over the last five-to-10 years. A lot of ballparks are getting into the game, like Fenway Park and Wrigley Field are hosting multiple shows every summer now, and the same goes for a select number of NFL stadiums.”
On average, then, how many concerts can be expected at Allegiant Stadium annually?
“I think three is probably fair,” says Kurt Melien, president of show promoter Live Nation Las Vegas. “I think that’s the expectation that the city has, that I have. And that’s a great number when you’re at zero and you’re going to three. That’s a really great thing.”
While Vegas already has a loaded concert calendar every year, the addition of a stadium further expands the type of acts the city could land.
“There definitely are artists every year that will only play stadiums, and they traditionally have not played Vegas because there hasn’t been a state-of-the art-facility for them to play,” Melien says. “Those are the type of artists we want to capture in the future.”
He cites Taylor Swift, Beyonce and Ed Sheeran as a few of these acts.
While Swift headlined Rock in Rio in 2015, she hasn’t done a headlining Vegas show since 2009. Beyonce’s last local concert came in 2013, and while Sheeran played T-Mobile Arena in 2017, he graduated to stadiums the following year on his most recent U.S. tour.
Of course, just because Vegas hasn’t had a venue like Allegiant Stadium doesn’t mean the city has been totally excluded from getting acts playing stadiums in other markets.
This past June, for instance, Paul McCartney headlined a two-night stand at T-Mobile Arena while playing stadiums in other markets, and the last time Coldplay performed here in September 2016, also at T-Mobile Arena, they, too, were doing stadiums elsewhere.
Moving forward, though, artists like that would be able to bring their full stadium production to town, which, in some instances, might have to be downsized for an arena.
And so the speculation begins as to who will be the first act to play the venue.
One clue: Muret points out that the stadium will be overseen by venue and event management company ASM Global, of which AEG is a part.
AEG books a number of acts who are capable of headlining stadiums, among them Swift and Kenny Chesney, who already have stadium shows lined up for next summer.
While Vegas isn’t on either of their itineraries at this point, perhaps that could change.
“I’m sure it’s in their best interest to route the tours that they buy into Allegiant Stadium,” Muret notes of AEG. “I’m sure you’ll be getting your fair share of stadium shows.”