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Published: Thursday, 10/8/2009

Skynyrd concert at new arena canceled

BY ROD LOCKWOOD
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Rock fans eager to get a look at the Lucas County Arena will have to wait a little longer.

Next Thursday's Lynyrd Skynyrd concert was canceled yesterday for “scheduling issues,” but it was no secret that ticket sales for the Southern rock band's show had been anemic.

Originally on sale for $75, $49.50, and $39.50 each, they were dropped to essentially a two-for-the-price-of-one deal several weeks ago, raising the uneasy question of how well concerts will do at the new facility in downtown Toledo and leaving Skynyrd fans in the lurch.

Matt Korona, marketing coordinator with Live Nation, the national concert promoter handling the show, said there's no relationship between Skynyrd's sales and whether the arena will be a success.

About 1,600 tickets were sold.

“Things just weren't selling. I don't think it's because of the arena at all,” he said. “We've got Trans-Siberian Orchestra going there, and that's been plugging along fine.”

Gary Bongiovanni, editor of Pollstar, a touring industry trade publication, said the show probably isn't a good barometer for the Toledo concert market.

“I don't know Lynyrd Skynyrd's track record in Toledo, [but] it could be the wrong act in the wrong market,” he said. “Definitely, if you brought an A-level show in there and it didn't sell well,” there's a problem.

Mary Michael of Webster & Associates Public Relations Co., which represents Skynyrd, was noticeably perturbed when asked about the cancellation in a phone call.

“I literally have an e-mail that says: ‘Please note that Lynyrd Skynyrd's performance in Toledo, Ohio, on October 15 has been canceled due to a scheduling conflict,'” she said. “No reason was given, I don't have any reason why, and this is aggravating.”

A phone call by The Blade to Lynyrd Skynyrd's management company was not returned.

Refunds for tickets can be obtained where they were bought.

The “scheduling issues” claim is even more curious because the concert was the first show of the band's tour.

The band's Web site yesterday afternoon did not provide any details on the cancellation.

Al Purdie, marketing manager of SMG, which manages the Lucas County Arena, said ticket sales for the show had “picked up” in recent weeks, but he would not indicate how many had been sold. He said he didn't consider the cancellation a blow to the arena.

“Things happen when you're in this business,” he said. “That's part of the business. We definitely wish they could come here, but we have to understand and work through this.”

The news for the arena isn't all bad, of course.

Ventriloquist Jeff Dunham's show Friday night is a virtual sellout, with only a few hundred seats remaining to his concert, which marks the grand opening of events at the arena.

Rockers Daughtry perform Oct. 31 and the Trans-Siberian Orchestra is performing two shows on Nov. 8.

Staff writer Kirk Baird contributed to this report.

Contact Rod Lockwood at:rlockwood@theblade.comor 419-724-6159.



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