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Why United Spirit Arena Isn’t Even On Your Radar

Chances are,  if you’re under 30, that you’ve never been to United Spirit Arena for a concert.  There’s a lot of reasons for this, and it can be quite heartbreaking.  First, let’s remember that this is not a public owned facility. They don’t have to book anything they that doesn’t fit their “image” and that’s where a lot of there problems started and will eventually end.

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So I hear about U.S.A. celebrating it’s 15th anniversary or something.  I’ve met a lot of the people down there and they’re good people, but they have bosses they answer to to.  So, why isn’t the U.S.A. used for more shows?  Let me lay it out of you.

*It’s too small for the type of acts they want to appeal to.  Sorry, the biggest of the big acts aren’t going to play a place that can only seat 10-12,000 (the 15K is just for basketball).

*It’s too big and expensive to hit that concert *sweet spot*.  It just doesn’t make sense for those shows around 4000 people which is the perfect time to get those bands that are “catching fire” or even on their way down a bit.  These bands come around again and again until they get bigger or smaller.

*They started off on the wrong foot.  The first even of any kind was supposed to be a televised WWE event.  The WWE was strung along and led to believe they had a show before they were bumped. The big wigs on campus didn’t want a wrestling event to be their first big show so they just left it unbooked until Elton John came along. This really gave them a reputation of “hard to get along with” among promoters.

*They waited too long on alcohol sales. Even country acts would refuse to play the arena when they heard fans couldn’t have a beer.  If you’re not on a bands routing the first or second time through, it’s hard to get them to come back.

*Select-a-seat.  Promoters HATE working with Select-A-Seat.  Like most city run services there’s ridiculous rules when working with Select-A-Seat and of course, the general “good enough” attitude of their employees.

*Personal seat licenses.  Hey, the people who built U.S.A. had to do what they could to get it done, after all the people of Lubbock rejected building a coliseum themselves. What they did was sell these P.S.L.s which also gave the holders first shot at tickets.  This meant that even bands fan clubs got second rate tickets.

*Lame crowds.  With the P.S.L. holders came the “entitled” people who didn’t really care about the show, they’d just buy tickets because they could. They’d show up, watch sports in the luxury boxes or even not show up at all and leave empty seats.  Trust me, word of this stuff gets around.

*Coaches. I talked to a promoter once who said that Coach Knight wouldn’t allow shows to be booked because he was afraid that the staging would warp the basketball surface.  Evidently the word of engineers otherwise didn’t convince him.  We’ve also heard of shows not happening because TTU basekballl practice was scheduled for that night (seems like something that could be moved, but, oh well..)

*Outreach.  This is a tough one.  I know they do some marketing, but certainly not enough.

*Parking.  Seriously how the hell does a school that issues engineering degrees continuously come up WAY short when it comes to parking needs?  I absolutely, positively have had friends say they weren’t going to the show because they didn’t want to walk a mile to the door.

*Timing.  There just aren’t that many big acts anymore.

We had a couple of good times in the U.S.A.  We had Pearl Jam, Kiss, Van Halen and a few others.  Did we get 15 years worth?  No way.  Will we ever?  It’s highly doubtful. Most acts these days play a severely limited amount of dates.  All you have to do is give them one tiny reason not to play your town and they’re moving on.  Most acts will only play the top 40 or so markets to begin with an not even consider a place like Lubbock.  You have to remember even for some of the biggest of the big, Austin or El Paso isn’t even on their radar; they hit Dallas and maybe Houston and that’s it.  BUT, and this is a HUGE but, there’s is absolutely, positively no reason why U.S.A. shouldn’t have stolen ever single show in the last 15 years that has gone to Tingley Colesium in New Mexico, and that’s a lot.

Also remember, the way this blog started. I said “if you’re 30 or under”.  The rest of us, should say “thanks” I guess.  It was good to see the bands we saw, it just sucks to think about what we missed.

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