Concert Business Not Sounding Too Good

There are two reasons why bands aren't playing the Coast Coliseum : the skyrocketing profits that groups want and the coliseum's size.

Big name performers are by-passing the Mississippi Coast Coliseum to play at neighboring bigger venues where the profits are bigger too. When it comes to booking concerts at the Coast Coliseum, the bottom line is money and how much the groups can take home in profits after the show.

"The artists are asking for much, much higher guarantees and where they were asking $250,000-$300,000. In most cases it's $500,000 and $600,000. It's causing the tickets to go up as much as 30, 35% percent from two years ago," Coliseum Director Bill Holmes said.

He points to the classic rock band Aerosmith as an example of the once lower ticket costs.

"Aerosmith came through, the price was like $40 a ticket. We're trying to get that concert here before the year end and those tickets will probably be around $70 dollars a ticket. If you notice Ozzy Osborne is on sale now at the new arena in New Orleans. They haven't sold a lot of tickets, but the tickets are $75. Britney Spears goes on sale tomorrow. She has a $65 ticket price."

With prices like that, Holmes says people have to be more selective in what concerts they'll pay to see. The high ticket prices are also costing smaller venues like the coliseum lost concert business.

"This is why a lot of these acts are gravitating to the major markets like New Orleans with bigger venues, two million plus people that will support these large guarantees. And now in those primary markets, a lot of the public are saying 'Hey, we just don't want to pay those higher prices.' So I think you're going to see a downturn here soon."

Holmes says alternative and new age bands are the ones that are touring the most right now. Some rock groups are just completing tours that started last spring. And Holmes says country concerts are down industrywide.

According to the coliseum box office, from February through September of this year, there were 10 concert events, ranging from the Keesler Tops and Blues band to the CPR Fest with its alternative performers and the Country Crawfish Festival with three country bands.