When Taylor Swift brought her massive, sold-out Eras Tour touched to Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara in late July, she did more than break the venue’s curfew (twice) and propel some 100,000 Swifties into heights of sing-along ecstasy.
She also ignited a spending spree worth tens of millions of dollars to the local economy.
And more of the same is in store when Beyonce brings her Renaissance World Tour to the stadium on Wednesday, Aug. 30, and Ed Sheeran performs there Sept. 16 (the British pop star also plays at the Fox Theater the night before).
Elite superstar acts are running the concert world like never before in 2023, taking their shows to the next level as they sell hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of tickets and fill huge stadiums around the globe. And they are sharing some of the enormous wealth-generating opportunities with the Bay Area.
“Levi’s Stadium was built to attract major sporting and entertainment events to the region and be an economic engine for the Bay Area community,” says Al Guido, president of the San Francisco 49ers, which operates Levi’s Stadium. “The Eras Tour generated $33 million in economic (local) impact and is a perfect example of the value this venue provides the city and its local businesses, working families, and community members.
“These major events translate to real world benefits for the surrounding area and, with Beyonce and Ed Sheeran as the final two concerts this season, we believe there is much more to come.”
While projections were not available for Beyonce and Sheeran’s local economic impact, the two shows are set to draw another 100,000 fans to the stadium. And these don’t just go to the show. They also eat at local restaurant, book hotel rooms, fill up their gas tanks and, in general, spent enough money to make a real ripple effect felt across the local economy.
In an era of post-COVID “revenge spending,” big-name performers aren’t the only ones benefitting from consumers’ hunger for live entertainment after the long shutdown. It’s also the areas that host these superstars, as the city of Santa Clara and neighboring areas are finding out due to an extremely hot stretch which finds three of the biggest music acts on the planet playing Levi’s Stadium in the span of three months.
How big? Swift’s and Beyonce’s tours are projected to gross more than $2 billion each, which would make them the top two road shows of all time. And Sheeran’s tour has been drawing packed houses — his recent show at Lumen Field in Seattle broke the venue’s concert attendance record, which had previously been held by Swift, reports the Seattle Times.
Santa Clara officials have been abuzz about this season’s lineup and its economic impact. Christine Lawson, the CEO of tourism group Discover Santa Clara, said it’s seen an “unprecedented response” when it comes to hotel bookings for Swift and Beyonce in particular. Beyonce’s Beyhive has helped sell out almost every room in town. That’s not the norm for concerts at Levi’s, according to Lawson.
“It’s tremendously beneficial for our hotel community and it says a lot about Beyonce’s pull — especially since it’s on Wednesday night,” she said.
Artists like Beyonce and Swift have also seen an influx in fans willing to travel to see the same concert tour a second, third or even a fourth time.
“It’s not just if they live in New York they only went to that show,” Lawson said. “A lot of people want to see the show more than once.”
And that’s despite the eye-popping prices for tickets these. The average ticket price for Swift’s tour on the primary and secondary markets is reportedly around $450, while Beyonce clocks in at an even higher plane — around $700. For Sheeran’s show at Levi’s, tickets in the secondary market are starting at around $90.
“This year has seen the concert business roar back,” says Daniel Kohn, editorial director at Spin magazine. “Thanks to tours by some of the biggest artists in the world, concerts have become events that only compare in terms of cultural impact to the Super Bowl and World Series.”
The windfall of touring success isn’t being felt by artists at all levels, however, Kohn said. “For the middle class and emerging artists, touring and making money is tough and unfortunately, they’re the ones who are being squeezed,” he said.
But in a summer coded Barbie pink that has shown the spending power of women, Beyonce and Swift have shown that women are more than holding their own in the entertainment economy.
While stadium shows have been going on since at least the heyday of the Beatles, the experience of attending these large-scale concerts has definitely changed over the decades.
“Stadium music shows have evolved from being listening to a performance live for the music to being spectacular productions, like the Superbowl Halftime Show or the Olympics opening ceremonies, but here they are the main act,” says Sanjay Sharma, an adjunct professor of finance at the University of Southern California and an expert on the touring industry. “I believe that this is a genre of entertainment that is evolving from massive investment, it is just not about the pyrotechnics anymore, or dresses, it is a lot more, and you only feel it in the stadium.”
Although noise and curfew-breaking have generated controversy at Levi’s performances, the concerts underscore what an powerful impact stadiums can have on a regional community.
Gilmore suggests the windfall is being felt well outside Santa Clara.
“People will extend their vacations,” she said. “They’ll stay in San Francisco or San Jose, they’ll eat in Sunnyvale or Campbell. It’s no just Santa Clara. I think we all benefit in terms of hotel rooms and sales tax.”
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