Fargodome made more than $500,000 on Garth Brooks concerts

FARGO - The Fargodome made more than $500,000 from Garth Brooks' four concerts in May, which may be the most ever for a single musical act, according to the arena's longtime general manager. More than 73,000 people attended the string of concerts...
Garth Brooks singing "Callin' Baton Rouge" at the Fargodome on Thursday, May 5, 2016. John Lamb

FARGO – The Fargodome made more than $500,000 from Garth Brooks’ four concerts in May, which may be the most ever for a single musical act, according to the arena’s longtime general manager.

More than 73,000 people attended the string of concerts by the country-music superstar, the most for a single booking of a musical act, Fargodome General Manager Rob Sobolik said Tuesday, June 21.

For comparison, the profit from Brooks was equivalent to 75 percent of the dome’s profit from all of last year’s events. Most of the net income on the four concerts came from beer sales.

Attendance at the concerts was equivalent to nearly a third of the metro area population, though many fans came from farther away.

Sobolik declined to speak in detail about the financial figures saying the Fargo Dome Authority’s Finance Committee hasn’t had a chance to weigh in at its meeting at Wednesday, June 22.

Going into the concert, it was clear that Garth Brooks would break some records. In March, his promoters said he’d broken his Fargo record of 70,613 tickets set in 1998, when he played three shows at the Fargodome. That stood as the arena’s record for a single musical act for 18 years.

The arena reported that Brooks, who performed with his wife Trisha Yearwood, sold 75,408 tickets grossing $5.1 million and gave away 2,752 tickets for a total of 78,160. Actual head count at the concerts showed attendance of 73,480.

It’s a rare look into the Brooks concert machine. His promoters typically don’t report actual concert numbers -- his representatives declined a request from The Forum earlier this year -- and an industry magazine said it doesn’t get the numbers either. Promoters usually only announce that he had broken his own record as a way to generate excitement while selling tickets to an upcoming show.

The Fargodome apparently required Brooks to only pay for labor but not the rent on the building, diminishing profits from the concert itself.

Instead, the arena made all of its money from concessions, concert-branded merchandise and parking fees. Total profit from the concert was $541,000.

Gross revenue from merchandise totaled $591,000, an average of $7.96 per person. Profits totaled $30,000.

Gross revenue from concessions totaled $882,000, an average of $12.41 per person. Profits totaled $461,000, the bulk of it from beer. Net revenue on beer alone was $595,000, not including labor and incentives paid to promoters, which is not broken out by category.

Brooks’ ticket sales in Fargo rivals sales in some much larger markets, demonstrating the intense demand for country music here. In Hamilton, Ont., an hour from Toronto, Canada’s biggest city, he sold about 85,000 tickets to five shows. In Lexington, Ky., he sold about 80,000 tickets to four shows. In Ottawa, he sold about 67,000 tickets to four shows. In Baltimore, he sold about 70,000 tickets to five shows. In San Jose, he sold about 51,000 tickets to three shows.

One small market that’s got Fargo beat: Saskatoon, Sask. The Forum earlier estimated that, based on maximum capacity of arenas, the number of shows and regional population, Fargo was second only to Saskatoon, Sask., in its love of Brooks’ music.

The Saskatoon Star-Phoenix reported that all six shows earlier in June sold out with attendance of nearly 95,000. That’s about 23 percent of the population within 100 miles.

Brooks’ attendance here was 13 percent of the population within 100 miles.