Iowa May Have Had the First Paid Arena Concert in the COVID-19 Era
A couple of weeks ago, country singer Josh Turner visited Cedar Rapids to play an actual live, in-person concert at the U.S. Cellular Center. As it turns out, that concert may have been the first of its kind.
According to a new article from Pollstar, "The U.S. Cellular Center in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, has held what appears to be the first paid arena concert in North America since the COVID-19 shutdown, bringing some hope to the decimated live music industry."
The September 18th show looked a LOT different than your average Cell Center concert, and I know this because I was there. First of all, there were only about 1,000 attendees. The capacity was greatly reduced, as the venue can normally host around 7,200. Fewer people means more space. Seats were separated into "pods," so you were only sitting with the people you purchased your tickets with. Our "pod" was on the floor in a group of four. Here's a photo I took from our seats:
In addition to the seating changes, concert-goers were only allowed to bring small, clear bags into the arena, masks were required everywhere except your own seat, and beverages were served with lids. Josh Turner did not have an opening act and the show was only about an hour long.
VenuWorks had to issue a lot of ticket refunds thanks to COVID-19 and the August 10th derecho, but they still ended up making a little money from the concert with week-of ticket sales. The Executive Director of the U.S. Cell Center Mike Silva told Pollstar, "We made back almost all of it. We all walked out with a few bucks in our pockets. It wasn’t enough to float the bank, but it’s better than taking a poke in the eye, so to speak."
Two more concerts are on the US Cell Center's schedule for 2020. Buckcherry with Adelitas Way is set for October 17th and Justin Moore and Tracy Lawrence will be in town December 2nd. You can get tickets for both shows HERE.
You can read more about the Josh Turner show and plans for future concerts HERE.