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Ryan Johnson, Published December 31 2013

Fargodome plans on big acts, busy lineup for 2014

FARGO - While much of the region recovers from a hectic holiday season, Fargodome workers are busy preparing for a booming start to 2014 at the city’s largest events venue.

Some of the bustle is according to schedule, such as the Justin Timberlake concert on Feb. 7 and Luke Bryan’s Feb. 28 concert that were lined up in 2013.

But unexpected postponements of performances by Pink and Lady Antebellum in October also boosted the Fargodome’s lineup for 2014. Now, the musicians will perform here on Jan. 11 and 18, respectively.

Either way, it adds up to one simple truth, according to Fargodome General Manager Rob Sobolik.

“We’re pretty busy,” he said.

LANDING BIG EVENTS

It used to be almost a given that the Fargodome staff would have a couple slow times each year to relax and recover, Sobolik said.

But the summer months have become busier in recent years, he said, and the final weeks of December and first few weeks of January are now booked, too.

“We have seen January be a little busier concert and event month in recent years, and I think part of that also has to do with just how busy we’ve become in the September, October, November and December timeframe,” he said.

The Rumble on the Red wrestling tournament has become a big draw, bringing more than 1,600 wrestlers to compete at the Fargodome each year between Christmas and New Year’s Eve.

The success of North Dakota State University’s football team, too, has boosted the event schedule with playoff games in early December.

Sobolik said the Fargodome was poised to be busy during the first quarter of 2014 anyway, with the scheduled concerts by Justin Timberlake and Luke Bryan in February, as well as another concert by Christian recording artist TobyMac on Feb. 16.

That doesn’t include the other happenings on tap for the venue, including the Red River Valley Boat and Marine Products Show Jan. 24-26, the Monster Jam monster truck event on Jan. 31 and Feb. 1, a presentation of the musical “Rock of Ages” as part of the Gate City Bank Theatre series on Feb. 11, the Kiwanis Pancake Carnival on Feb. 15 and the Red River Valley Home and Garden Show Feb. 21-23.

But last-minute postponements of two other major concerts by Pink and Lady Antebellum boosted the 2014 schedule, and the two world-famous recording artists will now play to large crowds at the Fargodome this month.

Pink is expected to draw a sellout crowd of 21,500 for her show on Jan. 11. If the pop star meets those expectations, it would be the Fargodome’s 14th-biggest concert since opening in 1992.

Ticket sales are also going well for performances by Lady Antebellum, Justin Timberlake and Luke Bryan, Sobolik said, though tickets are still available for these shows.

With such a packed schedule in a short amount of time, he said it can be hectic for the staff.

“It’s sometimes a challenge for my colleagues at the building just to try to get everything else done beside the events,” he said. “But it’s definitely been great for business and everybody who likes to attend events at the Fargodome.”

A full schedule is a good thing, Sobolik said, and it’s also a testament to the work of the staff and the management of Global Spectrum, the company that manages the dome.

Landing major recording artists and big events is partially the result of efforts by the management company and venue to make sure Fargo is noticed by promoters, musicians and agencies, he said. But, more importantly, it hinges on one very real fact – when these shows are scheduled at the Fargodome, people buy tickets.

Sobolik said the venue can draw attendees from across the region, boosting attendance and making it possible to not just rely on Fargo-Moorhead residents to fill the seats each time.

“People definitely come out and support the shows, and that’s what the promoters and the artists’ agencies take note of,” he said. “It’s very important to continue to support the shows.”

As long as the events keep drawing big crowds, he said the Fargodome is looking forward to a successful year after a fast-paced start in January and February.

“2014 is starting off very busy, and we hope to just be able to continue that momentum right through the rest of the year,” he said.

BIGGEST CONCERTS AT THE FARGODOME

If Pink’s upcoming performance on Jan. 11 meets Fargodome expectations and draws a near-sellout crowd of 21,500, it would go down as the venue’s 14th-largest concert since opening in 1992. Here are the 16 other concerts that had an attendance of 20,000 or more:

Date Artist Attendance

• March 7, 1997 George Strait 26,406

• Oct. 24, 1993 Garth Brooks 26,254

• Oct. 23, 1993 Garth Brooks 25,318

• Oct. 25, 1997 Elton John 25,188

• April 19, 2008 Bon Jovi 24,812

• Dec. 5, 1998 Shania Twain 24,764

• Sept. 19, 1998 Garth Brooks 23,509

• Sept. 20, 1998 Garth Brooks 23,177

• Sept. 18, 1998 Garth Brooks 23,098

• April 19, 2003 Elton John

and Billy Joel 21,996

• Feb. 17, 1999 Rolling Stones 21,959

• April 29, 2001 AC/DC 21,938

• April 8, 2010 Bon Jovi 21,844

• Jan. 17, 2009 AC/DC 21,366

• Sept. 6, 2013 Taylor Swift 20,613

• July 16, 1996 Neil Diamond 20,112


Readers can reach Forum reporter Ryan Johnson at (701) 241-5587