Friday, July 04, 2014

Putting The Garth Before The Course

Planning permission must be allowed to run its course, but concert promoters in Ireland put Garth well out in front, before the detail work was done. The license was not in hand before the promoting began.

Garth Brooks has big plans, with a comeback tour due to launch in Dublin's storied Croke Park. It must have been very uplifting for the American country music star to learn that 160,000 tickets were sold out within days. His Irish fans were enthusiastically looking forward to hearing him sing.
As close as Garth Brooks may get to an appearance in Croke Park

The plan was for five shows on consecutive nights. The planning commission, unfortunately, didn't go along with the programme.

Even more unfortunate, the denial of permission to stage the concerts as originally conceived has come after the promoters did all the promoting. And the ticket selling.

People living around Croke Park got wind of the five night spectacular and promptly launched a protest. The noise, they cried, the crowds and the anti-social behavior among those taking an excess of drink. Croker is only for GAA events on a Sunday afternoon, or perhaps the occasional Saturday evening, but when we moved into the neighborhood we never expected the park to become a concert venue.

What was Dublin City Council to do?

Those most likely to vote in an election affecting them were stomping about out front, loudly complaining about the inconvenience that would be visited on them for five full nights. Bad enough that they had to endure the disruption that was three nights of One Direction earlier in the year.

But with Garth Brooks? So much worse, with an adult performer attracting fellow adults and adults like to drink and some of them get into fights or shouting matches and how is a voter to sleep?

So the council reached a Solomon-like decision and told the tour promoter that Mr. Brooks could pick three of the five nights. What was sauce for One Direction was good for Garth Brooks. Equal treatment. Now go pick which 64,000 fans will be disappointed.

To Mr. Brooks credit, he refuses to make the choice, which could do his reputation more harm than backing out completely.

His sets are too big and complex to tear down and rebuild at another venue in the amount of time his tour has for its Irish stop, so the suggested alternative of two nights at another site is made moot. The decision of the council, having been made, is not up for appeal and he has reiterated his decision as well. It's five nights, or none. He'll move on to the next stop and launch his tour from what would have been the second stop.

That means 160,000 tickets to be refunded and 160,000 fans not at all happy with the Dublin City Council or the residents of the Croke Park area who have denied them their evening's entertainment.

There is precious little time left to resolve the problem, with the concerts scheduled for the end of July. With planning permission taking ten weeks, it is impossible to move the Garth Brooks appearances to some other site in Ireland, where local residents would not be quite so inconvenienced.

Fans of Garth Brooks who live near Croker are organizing a counter-protest, demanding that the concerts be allowed as first planned. There is money to be made from the tourists with plans to come, and isn't the government desperate for any way to make a little extra money without squeezing the Irish taxpayer? Isn't it foolish to let who knows how many million euro be lost for the complaints of a few who probably don't like country music at all?

In future, if the concert promoter isn't bankrupted by the lawsuits filed by those with non-reimbursable expenses for plane tickets or hotel rooms, he may well be sure to have that license in hand before opening ticket sales. It's safest to have permission before inviting people to come, especially if there is a chance that the guests will find the doors closed when they arrive.

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