The economic development business is somewhat detached from reality. OK, maybe a lot detached from reality. The latest case in point is city and the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority’s attempt to host four additional events a year at Bank of America Stadium. As part of the deal that got the Carolina Panthers $87.5 million in taxpayer for stadium improvements, the CRVA gets to use the stadium five times a year for free for the next six years. One event each year is the Belk Bowl. The other uses though must come first half of the year though the CRVA can roll them over to future years if they can’t find enough takers for a particular year. Each stadium use is valued (in theory) at $250,000.
The CRVA and the city, of course, think the chance to offer up these events is just amazing, with the target market being concerts and international soccer matches. They’re suppose to generate a ton of hotel room stays and spending in Charlotte restaurants.
Good luck with that. The odds that the CRVA can find four events a year between January and June is slight — four additional events total over the next six years is probably more realistic. Having only half the year to work with is a significant issue, as is working around renovations at the stadium.
More fundamentally though, there are a rather finite number of international soccer matches held each year and the competition to host these events is fierce.
The concert business is doing better these days, but that doesn’t necessarily translate into a lot of stadium tour dates. For example, Bon Jovi (yes, Bon Jovi) was the top grossing tour of 2013, bringing in $259.5 million worldwide. Number of US stadium dates? Five (Chicago, Detroit, Foxburgh, MA, and the Meadowlands x 2). Bon Jovi though did play in the cable box in March and Raleigh’s PNC Arena in November.
And if the biggest show of 2013 came to town and didn’t draw anywhere near enough to justify the use of Bank of America Stadium, why should we expect other major acts to need to use Bank of America Stadium?