Thursday, July 10, 2014

The Most Important Concert Series In The Universe

So it went like this.

Garth Brooks hired a promoter to set up five concerts in Dublin which would serve as the launch of his tour. The man hasn't been on tour in something like fifty years so his fans are ecstatic. They buy up tickets for five consecutive nights at Croke Park; in the blink of an eye the tickets are gone.

Nothing much to worry about, except the planning process for concerts seems to run backwards in Ireland. The concerts were planned, promoted, sold out, and then the Dublin City Council said no to the five consecutive concerts because of an agreement signed back in Bertie Ahern's era that limited the number of concerts at Croke Park.
But maybe not to Dublin, without Divine Intervention

You'd think that the second coming of Christ had been upended, to judge by the uproar and the news coverage when the refusal was made public.

Residents of the area around Croke Park have protested the concerts and then protested the cancellation of the concerts, and through it all, Garth Brooks decided that he wouldn't bother making his first stop in Dublin after all. Far too much trouble getting kicked up, and it isn't worth the bother. Maybe they'll welcome him to London and he'll start off there, without the hassle. Europe's a big place. Some other country would host him. Italy has better food. The French have better wine. Who needs Dublin?

Now it's come to this. The Mexican ambassador to Ireland has offered to step in to help, like this is some sort of major international crisis. There are calls for An Taoiseach to do something, as if he were a concert dictator and could just declare that Croker would host the five performances and that's the end of it. Pro-Brooksites are calling on the President of the United States to intervene. The President. Of the United States. To intervene. For a singer to put on a couple of extra shows.

Why the madness?

In part, the flurry of words reflects Ireland's fear that it is being laughed at as a nation of incompetent yokels, a load of country bumpkins who can't manage even the simplest tasks. Not the best image to present the world when Ireland would very much like to be seen as a nation filled with highly-educated, computer-savvy workers who want you to relocate your business to their homeland. A savvy business exec would not feel entirely confident if he feared that the government overseeing the rules and regulations of his corporation couldn't even manage a license for a concert.

But that isn't the worst of it.

Because Garth Brooks has not toured for ages, his European fans planned to flock to Dublin for the show. The flock needs a place to stay, which means hotel taxes for the Exchequeur. It means tourists buying meals and souvenirs, thereby supporting local businesses that could use the boost. Tourism is critical to Ireland's financial well-being. The government wants, very much, those tourism euro.

Hotels that were once booked now have empty rooms, and in a display of goodwill, many are offering to cancel reservations with no penalties for those who were coming to see Garth Brooks. The hotel owners will lose money on the empty rooms, but maybe those same people who booked for a concert will some day go to Ireland for a vacation and remember the cead mile failte they encountered when they feared they were out of pocket on normally non-refundable fees.

Restaurants expecting an influx of customers in town to see Garth Brooks won't see that influx, and they aren't happy about the change. Those expecting five nights of work at Croke Park, taking tickets or working security or selling souvenirs, won't be working, and they aren't happy to lose five nights pay.

Why all the angst and wringing of hands about a cancelled concert series?

It's the lost revenue.

Ireland can't afford it.

No comments: