Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Grand Forks rocks

As an incurable fan of Grand Forks and its (in my mind) incomparable event centers, I have been maintaining a list of concerts that have played in our arenas and auditoriums in the past five years or so. Yes, I probably could find something better to do with my time, but don't count on it anytime soon. I don't mind being a bit of a weirdo.

Why do I maintain this list? For one thing, sometimes its hard to remember what went on last week - much less five years ago - so this helps me out.

Secondly, doing this is some sort of twisted indulgence in my effort to promote Grand Forks. What other city of comparable size in the region can present a list of entertainers like this? It just proves (to me, at least) that Grand Forks is becoming more of a "destination city" than what many of us give it credit for.

The List:
•3 Doors Down
•Aerosmith (twice)
•Alan Jackson
•Anne Murray
•B.B. King
•Backstreet Boys
•Barenaked Ladies
•Bette Midler
•Big and Rich
•Bill Cosby
•Black Eyed Peas
•Blue County
•Blue Man Group
•Blues Traveler
•Brad Paisley
•Cats the Musical
•Cheap Trick
•Clay Aiken
•Cyndi Lauper
•Daniel O’Donnell
•Daryl Worley
•Dashboard Confessional
•David Copperfield
•Donny Osmond
•Full Monty the Musical
•Garrison Keillor (twice)
•Gin Blossoms
•Goo Goo Dolls
•Good Charlotte
•Jars of Clay
•Jason Mraz
•Keith Urban
•Kenny Chesney
•Lori Line
•Mannheim Steamroller
•Martin Short
•Martina McBride
•Michael W. Smith
•Montgomery Gentry
•Moscow Ballet
•Motley Crue
•Neal McCoy
•New Found Glory
•Ozzy Osbourne
•Point of Grace
•Rascal Flatts
•Reba McEntire
•Rent the Musical
•Rich Little
•Rob Zombie
•Rod Stewart
•Sawyer Brown
•Seinfeld (twice)
•Seussical the Musical
•Smash Mouth
•Steven Curtis Chapman
•Sugar Ray
•Tanya Tucker
•Thoroughly Modern Millie the Musical
•Tim McGraw
•Titanic the Musical
•Toby Keith (twice)
•Tori Amos
•Trace Adkins
•Will Rogers Follies the Musical

Not so bad for an outpost on the hinterlands, huh?

I may be forgetting an act or two. Please mention any others that you remember from recent times. Remember that the list only contains entertainers that have come to town in the past five years or so (2001: opening of the Alerus). After all, it isn't like there were very many major concerts in town before then...


Anonymous said...


Coffee Guy said...

Oak Ridge Boys.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, the bottom line is $$$'s. It's nice that some events have taken place in the Alerus over the years but, far, far to few.

It seems apparent that The Alerus is on it's way to losing about a million a year. Rising utilities, suite revenue and advertising dollars will soon plummet because of the lack of events. It goes on and with this complex. Unfortunately the spin, hope, and B.S. doesn't fly anymore with 5 years of hard numbers.

Also, ten years form now, Sioux footbal will probably abandon the center and play in their own facility.

siouxrunner said...

Walter Trout was here at the Empire recently

Anonymous said...

I agree with anonymous - I'm not sure that we as a city should be accepting of the fact that the Alerus Center loses money. The FargoDome doesn't lose money (and have invested with the University in upgrades to ensure Bison football stays there) and the Ralph made a good chunk of profit last year as well. Even with a taxpayer funded Alerus set-aside to "intice" promotors, the Alerus isn't pulling in the type of shows it should be and are losing out to better run, more proactive arenas like the Dome and the Ralph. The Alerus should be making money and stop making excuses on why it can't.

dale said...

The Alerus doesn't make any money because it's not a particularly fine audio emporium, and whoever is booking it isn't much of an imaginary chap. Aerosmith was here, what, three times? In five years? The first time was enough for me -- I don't need Steven Tyler dripping sweat on me to become an annual event. Being on the road between Minneapolis and Winterpeg, you'd think we'd have more options than the "one step from the state fair circuit" bands.

As for the Ralph turning a profit, someone should do a little investigation into how a donated venue is turning a profit while the University that was the supposed donee whines about losing money and jacks the price of my hockey season tickets to make up for "rising costs." I know that Ralph, the person, had his issues with Kupchella and the rest of the current U crowd, but I have to believe that if he was still around, you'd see the fans being treated better than they currently are, even if it meant him chucking money at the centre to keep seat prices down.

Anonymous said...

Not to go down a new road but...it will be interesting to see how much D1 football jacks up the price of hockey tickets. I doubt that it will effect the actual ticket price but, I'm sure the mandatory donation that you have to pay along with your tickets will be jacked up!

JGS said...

I don't see how gfg's post goes from a list of concerts that went through Grand Forks to a post about how sucky the Alerus Center is and soon REA.

Come on people, I know theres another topic somewhere here on this blog or maybe it's on Trans blog.

And on a side note, no matter how high Sioux tickets go up, people will keep buying them. Guaranteed.

Anonymous said...

+Leo Kottke, Arlo Guthrie, Peter, Paul & Mary...

Peder Rice said...

Now, quick question: which of these events went to the Alerus, and which went to the Chester Fritz? The total economic impact as a percentage of cost of the venue of the Chester Fritz Auditorium, I would have to think, would be substantially higher than the Alerus Center.

Secondly, the State needs to get involved soon and mandate that UND not build a separate football facility after the tremendous investment in the Alerus Center. Unless money can be secured through private donations, there is no reason for any more taxpayer dollars going to venues in the Grand Forks area anytime soon. The mere suggestion makes my stomach a bit uneasy.

Anonymous said...

UND needs to build their own football stadium so they can go from paying to play, to rakin' in the bigtime revenue that comes with D1 football. I wouldn't let the dumbass decision to build the Alerus stop UND.

Yes, the Alerus was voted in by the citizens. But, there were so many campaign untruths that the voters were essentially tricked into voting for it.

It's time to stop with the supporter / naysayer arguement and simply look at the numbers. Then, realize that there is a serious financial problem sitting there. And no, the developement of the Canad will not help the convention business. Grand Forks simply is not a destination city and never will be. In fact, I have serious problems with all the pressure that will soon be applied to the Canad to pull that white elephant out of the serious situation that it's in.

By the way, I doubt any local business operators ever felt that the plan would fly. They simply selfishly went for it since, it wasn't their direct funds and, hopefully they would *something* out of it. I doubt that they thought it would soon be losing a million a year though.

Peder Rice said...

Well, I don't believe that the move to D1 will generate additional revenue. I've been to a couple of NDSU games, and they don't exactly sell every ticket every game (the last game I went to had about 11,000 people there if memory serves). Now, Fargo is a much bigger town that is also North Dakota's "Destination City." If they can't get a capacity crowd twice a month for the short season, why would we expect to be able to top Fargo?

So why spend a hundred million building a facility that won't even see its full use?

If I could see some indicator showing the UND football could get 17000+ fans a game, I **might** be willing to concede this one.

Tu-Uyen said...

And no, the developement of the Canad will not help the convention business. Grand Forks simply is not a destination city and never will be. In fact, I have serious problems with all the pressure that will soon be applied to the Canad to pull that white elephant out of the serious situation that it's in.

Canad was willing to sink $45m into the hotel and entertainment complex and the company has years of experience in the hospitality business. You're so dead certain it'll fail. So, let me ask, what experience do you bring to the table?

GrandForksGuy said...

I should have known that a post mentioning the Alerus Center would go down this road. My intention of the post was to point out the variety and number of acts the city has gotten in recent years. It's quite an impressive lineup for a city of our size.

I don't understand why some people who have been so critical of the Alerus are now turning their criticism to the Canad Inn. This facility isn't even open yet - it won't be for months - so how can we make such harsh assumptions about their future business? What developer would even consider building a $40-$50 million dollar hotel complex if they didn't think it would be at least remotely successful? The Canad may not make the convention center side of the Alerus a huge money-maker, but it can't hurt either.

BTW, does anyone really think that UND is going to try to build their own football facility in the near future? Do you realize what that kind of facility would cost? Where would the money come from? I don't see a football-loving version of Ralph out there. Where would such a facility go? There is really no room close to campus anymore for something of this size. I would like to see the University ink a much longer contract with the Alerus than they currently have...

Brooks said...

its so funny to watch pretty much every blog topic go downhill. i was really surprised at all those concerts though! not many on that list happened in the last year, however, which is proof of the industry. we've all heard how many concerts are bypassing smaller places like GF, so MAYBE its not all the Alerus' and its managers' fault.

It would be VERY tough for UND to justify building a new stadium for football. I dont see how the cost could fit into their budget considering the current and upcoming projects. Although, most of the games i went to last fall had around 11,000 fans, which doesnt leave much room for growth that we will probably see in the next five years...

Anonymous said...

Just curious. If you back out the tax contribution, and the suite and advertising revenue at The Alerus, that only leaves about 2.5M in revenues. How much of that comes from the convention center -vs- the arena?

Just wondering, thanks.

Anonymous said...

Nice job with the list, but you went back a lot further than 5 years. If you did a similar search for Bozeman or Missoula you'd see that Grand Forks does a relatively lousy job of bringing in concerts...

GrandForksGuy said...

Actually, I'm pretty certain that everything on this list took place no earlier than 2001. I was here the whole time adding names to the list one at a time so it should be fairly accurate. Certainly nothing goes back to the 90s.

dale said...

BTW, the Cult opened up for the Aerosmith show that I saw. They were, in fact, the real reason I was there :-)

Anonymous said...

GFG, sorry dude. You're wrong again. Your "homer" post is more of the same G.F. miscalculations. Unfortunately, it's just more of the same old "Build it and they will come" mantra.

If a high percentage of the Alerus events above lost money or almost broke even, that's not good, it's bad. Bad for the Alerus, bad for future promoters rolling the dice to bring tours into town.

You'd be much better served to take a more analytical point of view, instead of your "Grand Forks is great and can do no wrong". I'd hide my identity too if I was as confused (read wrong) as you.

If an operator opens a restaurant and shoots over the market's heads, it doesn't matter how great it is, or was. What matters is the fact that they miscalculated, from a business point of view, and failed.

Seriously, look beyond your cheerleader point of view. It will serve you much better.

Anonymous said...

All this negativity, and look another concert wants to play at the Alerus Center, Grammy Award Winning, Black Eyed Peas.

GrandForksGuy said...

I agree, anonymous. Let's just hope this one goes off without a hitch. No sick bandmembers and no slow ticket sales, pleasssseee?!?!?

Has anyone heard how Cirque de Soleil has been selling? Sometime ago, I heard that sales had been quite good and that they might get a sellout. I assume that the show is being set up in some "half-house" format...am I right?

Anonymous said...

Yeah, let's all hope that Fergie doesn't do any 4-wheelin' with Gretchen in the near future.