ATLANTA – (October 28, 2015) When Taylor Swift hit the Georgia Dome stage Saturday night (Oct. 24) to the screaming adoration of 56,000-plus fans as she launched into “Welcome to New York,” the lead track from her “1989” album, it was a dream come true for devotees of the reigning Queen of Pop, but it was also a long time coming for the venue staff, management and Georgia World Congress Center Authority’s Event Development Team, also known as Authority Presents.
After several attempts at luring the country-crooner-turned-pop diva, the Dome staff’s hard work culminated in an electrifying, sold-out show on Saturday, also featuring opening performances by Shawn Mendes (“Stitches”) and Vance Joy (“Riptide”).
To the casual observer, it may look like any easy slam dunk: book the hottest music superstar going, the top-grossing global tour of 2015, at the No. 1 convention, sports and entertainment complex.
Not so fast…or swift.
It was actually a long, arduous – sometimes off-the-wall – and ultimately rewarding process to get Swift to perform at the Dome for the first time. The Dome staff began the process of wooing Swift back in 2012, but her Red Tour of 2013 opted for two shows at the smaller Philips Arena, across from (but not affiliated with) the GWCCA’s downtown Atlanta campus.
To show how much they wanted Swift at the Dome, the venue staff, including General Manager Carl Adkins, donned blonde wigs and made a hilarious, yet earnest, video pleading with the singer to choose the stadium instead of the nearby arena. See the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SQjClHvkfzk
Also Adkins and Business Development Director Julia Karrenbauer made an in-person pitch to the promoter – a throwback of sorts in this age of sometimes impersonal digital communications.
Those efforts didn’t immediately pay off for the 2013 tour, but the groundwork had been laid, the seeds planted.
And in 2014 when Swift’s 1989 World Tour was announced, the Georgia Dome was one of its stop-overs. “Perseverance pays,” said Adkins. “While we did a number of unique things to get the tour promoter’s attention, I don’t think it was any one thing that landed the show. It was a combination of creative efforts coupled with gaining their confidence over time, while continually building a strong relationship with the promoter.”
That relationship was built by working with Swift’s promoter AEG Live & The Messina Group (now known as Messina Touring Group) on three Kenny Chesney shows at the Dome – in 2012, 2013 and 2015 – opportunities to show off the Dome’s exemplary facilities combined with heartfelt, modern Southern hospitality.
And according to concert industry publication Pollstar, Swift’s 1989 World Tour is the top-grossing global trek of 2015, with an average box office gross of $5,545,007, average attendance of 49,380, and an average ticket price of $112.29.
Swift has been noted for her business savvy and keeping an eye on the box office, and indeed, the singer acknowledged the capacity crowd several times Saturday night and citing the attendance number. “Georgia Dome…all sold out,” said Swift, near the onset of the two-hour, 17-song performance. “We’ve played Atlanta six times. But the reason we keep coming back is you make your home feel like our home.”
But she hadn’t played to an Atlanta crowd as large as the Georgia Dome throng before.
While Swift’s show at the Dome is the latest in a string of superstar concerts at the stadium, including the aforementioned Chesney, One Direction and the Beyonce/Jay-Z double-bill, it also puts the cherry on top of an amazing recent run of live music at the Authority’s venues. In the last five months, the Authority has hosted three of the top six global tours, according to data compiled by Pollstar: No. 1, Taylor Swift; No. 2, Kenny Chesney (June 13); and Foo Fighters (Oct. 4 at Centennial Olympic Park).
And in the often-fickle world of pop music, there’s not a more sizzling ticket than Swift’s 1989 World Tour. “Taylor’s star is still on the rise,” said Gary Bongiovanni, Editor-in-Chief of Pollstar. “She’s amazingly hot at the moment.”