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Grand Forks Herald, Published September 09 2009

Ticket sales jump for Britney's Grand Forks concert

Tickets sales for Saturday’s Britney Spears “Circus” tour concert in Grand Forks have picked up dramatically, perhaps a sign that more people are watching their pennies paycheck to paycheck, said Steven Hyman, executive director of the Alerus Center.

“I would definitely say the economy has affected it,” Hyman said Tuesday of ticket sales. “It’s affected (the Alerus) in that we have sold more tickets in the last 10 days than we have in the previous three months.”

The “Circus” tour stage was designed, built and choreographed for a big arena. It takes six trucks just to transport the stage. The Alerus, an indoor football stadium, had about 13,000 tickets available for the Saturday show.

“By the end of today, there will be somewhere between 1,500 and 2,000 tickets left to get to that 13,000 mark,” Hyman said. “So that’s pretty darn good.”

Hyman said from 250 to 300 tickets were sold Tuesday alone. It’s his hope that ticket sales will continue at that pace until Saturday.

Early sales reports indicated one in three tickets for the concert was sold to a Canadian, Hyman said. Hotels, restaurants and shopping centers are gearing up for an onslaught of visitors.

“For that weekend, like any concert, it will have a big draw,” said Shyla Howell, marketing manager at Columbia Mall. “I’ve heard through the grapevine that people can’t find hotels.”

Before Labor Day weekend, Grand Forks Comfort Inn General Manager Jan Gaddie was reporting an 80 percent occupancy rate for the concert weekend, and she expected rooms to fill.

“It will be a sellout for the town,” Gaddie said.

Alerus officials have said they are restricted by their contract from divulging specific ticket sale numbers. Hyman said he is flying to Atlanta on business early the morning after the concert but hoped to release more information when he returned.