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Ryan Johnson, Published April 21 2014

Yes, Sir! Paul McCartney to make tour stop at Fargodome

FARGO - After three close calls in the past few years, the Fargodome made it official Monday: Former Beatle and rock legend Sir Paul McCartney will perform here for the first time this summer.

During a news conference that drew a few dozen, including Fargo Mayor Dennis Walaker, dome General Manager Rob Sobolik played a promotional video to make the announcement that McCartney would perform at 8 p.m. July 12. Doors will open at 6:30.

On Monday, McCartney also confirmed several other U.S. dates for his “Out There” tour that launched last year and features songs from the 71-year-old’s music career, including a stop at Target Field in Minneapolis on Aug. 2 and upcoming concerts in Lincoln, Neb., and Kansas City, Mo.

The Fargodome concert won’t have an opening act, and the will feature a full house setup with room for 17,000 or more fans, Sobolik said.

“I think when you have a man with the repertoire that he’s got of music, I’m guessing it’ll be a fairly long concert and maybe touch on 25 percent of the songs that he’s been involved in,” he said.

While he said no artist would ever rank No. 1 in his book, McCartney is a “great one” to land.

“We’re very pleased, very happy to have him, very excited for it, and are definitely up to the challenge,” Sobolik said Monday.

The concert will draw fans from across the region to stay in hotels, dine out and enjoy the perks of the city, said Charley Johnson, president and CEO of the Fargo-Moorhead Convention and Visitors Bureau.

“Having Paul McCartney here is a huge event for the community,” he said.

A busy year

Before making the big announcement, Sobolik highlighted just how busy the Fargodome has been in 2014.

In the first three months of the year, the venue had an operating surplus of about $675,000 – nearly $300,000 more than any previous quarter, he said, and about $185,000 above budget.

Stagehands, cleaning crews and other part-time employees put in more than 40,000 hours of work during the quarter, Sobolik said, and the venue paid out $58,000 to nonprofit groups that run the food and beverage stands – a big number considering the Fargodome’s highest payout ever was in 2013, when $124,000 was given out for the entire year.

“It’s really been kind of an unprecedented three months here at the Fargodome,” Sobolik said.

The dome has drawn big crowds to its four major concerts of the year by Pink, Lady Antebellum, Justin Timberlake and Luke Bryan, and Sobolik said Katy Perry’s upcoming Aug. 23 performance is sold out. Tickets also are selling well for the Nov. 16 Motley Crue concert, he said.

The venue has kept busy with plenty of other events this year, including several shows and concerts through the Gate City Bank Theatre series and the North Dakota High School Girls Class B Basketball Tournament.

To fit McCartney’s concert into the tight schedule, Sobolik said the Fargodome had to push back the 42nd annual North Dakota Shrine Bowl that was originally set for July 12, but instead will now be July 13.

The Fargo-Moorhead metro area doesn’t rank among the country’s biggest concert markets, with only 200,000 to 250,000 residents in the immediate area, Sobolik said. Still, he said the Fargodome has developed a reputation for having a “big regional draw,” and that has helped it land some of the biggest music tours in recent years.

The Fargodome scheduled Monday’s news conference on Friday, when Director of Sales and Marketing Kris Packer denied the venue would announce McCartney was coming to town.

When asked about conflicting information on Monday, Sobolik said speculation over the weekend by reporters and the community at large over what he’d be announcing shows that the venue still is “relevant” here.

“I guess we are flattered by the fact that in our 22nd year of operation here at the Fargodome, we can still keep the media, the public and the fans interested in what’s going on at the Fargodome,” he said.


If You Go

WHAT: Paul McCartney’s “Out There” tour

WHEN: 8 p.m. July 12

WHERE: Fargodome, 1501 N. University Drive

TICKETS: Tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. Monday, and can be purchased at the Fargodome box office, online at www.inforumtix.com or by phone at (855) 694-6367; $25, $59.50, $89.50, $151.50 and $251.50.

American Express card holders can purchase tickets early during a presale that begins at 10 a.m. Thursday and ends at 10 p.m. Sunday.

The Paul McCartney Fan Club also plans a presale that will start Wednesday. For more information, visit www.paulmccartney.com


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