From the moment Garth Brooks announced he would play a concert at the Save Mart Center in September, there was no doubt tickets would go quickly.
The question was just how quickly, given the country megastar’s popularity and the fact that he hadn’t played in the Fresno area in nearly two decades. Many wondered if Brooks would add performances, expecting the inevitable overrun of fans.
We got the answer to that question an hour before tickets went on sale Friday when Brooks announced a second date for the arena. Two more announcements followed. By 10:20 a.m., there was a total of four performances scheduled, including back-to-back shows on Saturday, Sept. 24, at 7 and 10:30 p.m.
As to the question of how quickly the tickets sold, by 11 a.m. Ticketmaster was showing no available seats for three of the four shows.
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That was mostly because of the vast number of people trying to get tickets at the same time, the arena’s general manager, Steve Tadlock, said. Because tickets are put on hold during the buying process, it may appear that there are no tickets available, but some of those seats do get released back for sale.
“Anybody who wanted to buy a ticket, could get a ticket,” Tadlock said.
Tickets are still available for each of the shows. A quick check of Ticketmaster later Friday afternoon showed the best seats available for the Friday and Sunday shows were in the upper deck, while both Saturday performances had seats available in midlevels.
Brooks designs his tours so he can be available to as many of his fans as possible, Tadlock said.
It’s the reason for the multiple performances and single ticket price – both of which came as great news for Ashley Wandzell, whose husband scored third-row floor seats for the Friday night show as an anniversary present.
“We were worried about it selling out in 90 seconds,” Wandzell said.
Her husband went online and was ready before tickets even went on sale. He ended up calling Ticketmaster on the phone to get the seats. This will be Wandzell’s first time seeing Brooks in concert, though she’s been a fan since elementary school. She remembers listening to Brooks on her Walkman on repeat while on family trips to Montana.
“I can’t wait to see the whole performance,” she said.
Wandzell had to think about which song she’d like to hear most, and settled on “Friends in Low Places.”
Brooks is the first performer since Madonna in 2006 to schedule consecutive dates at the arena. The pop singer played two nights. And while musical acts don’t typically perform multiple shows in a single night, it is not unheard of in live entertainment, Tadlock said. The arena has done it for shows like Cirque du Soleil and “Walking with Dinosaurs.”
The last artist to book consecutive nights at the Save Mart Center was Madonna in 2006.
Brooks will obviously draw larger crowds, Tadlock said.
Playing multiple dates at one venue has become the Brooks way.
Many remember his last outing in Fresno, when he played five nights at the Selland Arena. He played six nights in Sacramento last March and another three nights in San Jose in November.
Nor is it rare for Brooks to perform two shows in one night.
He’s been doing that in many markets since the tour kicked off in 2014, said Ben Farrell of Varnell Enterprises, the company promoting the show.
Decisions on whether to add performances are made in real time – as tickets are being sold – and are always based on the needs of the market, he said.
“We are very excited to be coming back to Fresno. The fans have been great all over the region.”
His songs tell stories, and I love the stories he tells.
Ashley Wandzell, on why she is a fan of country singer Garth Brooks