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In this file photo, Pink greets her fans during "The Truth About Love" tour performance Saturday, Jan. 11, 2014, at the Fargodome. She drew 21,700 people to her concert. David Samson / The Forum

Concerts mean big money for Fargodome: Arena set to smash budget predictions

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FARGO – A stellar concert season so far this year has led to big profits for the Fargodome.

Officials at the city-owned arena expect it to net about $322,000 this year – more than three times what was budgeted.

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That’s due largely to a “very unusual” concert year, which has already seen a number of high-profile performers and is scheduled for more, said Susan Thompson, the Fargodome’s director of finance.

The Pink concert in January drew about 21,700 people to the Fargodome. The last performer to hit that range was Taylor Swift, who brought in almost 21,000 people in September.

Three other acts this year – Justin Timberlake, Luke Bryan and Paul McCartney – have cracked the 15,000 mark, according to a budget document handed out this week at a joint meeting of the Fargo Dome Authority’s finance and building committees.

Katy Perry, Cher, Motley Crue and a to-be-announced country act are still in the pipeline.

That means the Fargodome’s likely to smash through its projected 2014 net income of $76,245, even though total attendance across all events was about 5,000 lower than expected in the first half of the year.

If the budget prediction holds and the Fargodome pulls in $321,582, it’ll be a big jump from last year’s net income of roughly $189,000.

Part of that disparity is because the two January concerts, Pink and Lady Antebellum, were originally scheduled for 2013.

Fargo isn’t the only area seeing strong concert revenue. Artists have been touring more nationwide in the past few years to make up for declines in recording revenue, said Gary Bongiovanni, editor-in-chief of Pollstar, a trade publication for the concert tour industry.

Artists on shorter tours are less likely to visit peripheral areas like Fargo, Bongiovanni said. As tours expand, smaller markets like the Red River Valley become more probable stops.

“You’re a growing market” with a booming economy, Bongiovanni said, which doesn’t hurt.

Thompson’s treating the 2014 windfall as a temporary boon, not a new norm. She budgeted for about $87,000 in net income for the Fargodome next year.

“Next year is a good thing for everything except concerts,” she said at the meeting, noting that concerts in 2015 will still bring in about what they usually do.

Next year, Thompson is predicting more attendees for the dome’s amateur sporting events, the return of the Fargo Marathon and the 2015 theater series, which she said will include more well-known productions.

2014 Fargodome concert attendance

Pink – January, 21,700

Luke Bryan – February, 19,500

Paul McCartney – July, 16,500

Justin Timberlake – February, 15,500

Lady Antebellum – January, 6,400

Timeflies – May, 3,600

 
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