In the run-up to Bayou Country Superfest last year, organizers predicted record-breaking attendance and touted Baton Rouge hotel sellouts more than a month before the event.
This year, tickets don’t seem to be quite as coveted. Concertgoers checking out the online seller StubHub on Thursday could find single-day general admission tickets for less than half of face value. Bulk tickets were also still available via the official concert website.
Still, the concerts at LSU’s Tiger Stadium will be Baton Rouge’s biggest musical event of the year, and hotels reported filling up.
Taylor Swift will kick off the weekend on Friday night, with her “1989” tour, a show that is being put on separately from the Superfest. The country music festival then gets going on Saturday, when Kenny Chesney headlines. Blake Shelton will headline on Sunday.
Quint Davis, the chief executive officer of Festival Productions Inc., which puts on both Bayou Country Superfest and the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, was not available to comment Thursday on ticket sales.
But in an interview on Tuesday, Davis predicted to top 100,000 tickets sold over the three days of music. Last year’s headliners, Luke Bryan, Jason Aldean and George Strait, drew a record-smashing crowd of 135,000 fans over that three-day weekend.
“People always think the shows are sold out,” Davis said earlier this week. “The shows are not sold out, but parts of the stadium are. For Taylor Swift, we opened up the upper west side of the stadium, and it’s pretty much sold out, but there are tickets available for each night.”
Davis also expects tickets that previously were on hold for sponsors, record companies and Superfest performers to be released for sale to the public.
“Anything that’s not used or sold gets released,” he said. “Sometimes, people end up finding themselves with some of the best seats in the house, seats that become available in the last week or so.”
A one-day general admission pass for Saturday is $50 through the official Bayou Country Superfest website. But on StubHub, Saturday general admission passes for the festival were on sale for as low as $22.89 on Thursday afternoon. Sunday tickets were pricier, with the cheapest clocking in around $30.
StubHub’s ticket prices often fluctuate based on supply and demand — they skyrocket for a sold-out event like the LSU-Alabama football game, but drop to lower than face value when many tickets still are available.
“I have no idea why that would be,” said Visit Baton Rouge President and CEO Paul Arrigo about the lower StubHub prices. “I would assume that for any ticket for any event StubHub would have lower-price tickets.”
On the official ticket provider website, fans can choose up to 20 tickets to buy in one group. For both Saturday and Sunday, tickets for a group of 20 people who want to sit next to one another are still available at nearly every price and seating level.
Tickets for Taylor Swift’s concert are being sold separately from the Superfest day passes, and ticket prices might be in higher demand based on more expensive prices on StubHub than for the other concerts.
Festival organizers will not know until afterward how much of an economic impact Bayou Country Superfest has on Baton Rouge. Last year, at least 19 Baton Rouge hotels sold out before the weekend started for Friday through Sunday.
This year, front desk workers at the Embassy Suites on Constitution Avenue and the Hotel Indigo downtown both reported that they are sold out on Friday night and that they expect to sell out their few remaining rooms for Saturday night as well.
The Crowne Plaza on Constitution Avenue also reported that they have a few rooms left for both Friday and Saturday night, but they also expect to sell out for the whole weekend as they did last year.
This is Bayou Country Superfest’s sixth year taking over Tiger Stadium for a spring weekend.
Festival organizers transformed it into a three-day-long event last year for its fifth anniversary. The extra day helped elevate consumer spending in May 2014 in Baton Rouge by 5.8 percent in comparison to May 2013.
Chesney, who headlined Superfest in 2010 and 2011, is returning this year to headline Saturday night. Blake Shelton, the singing star and coach on TV’s “The Voice,” headlines Sunday. That day also features Shelton’s wife, Miranda Lambert.
“Kenny Chesney is sort of the king of Bayou Country Superfest,” Davis said. “We started with Kenny. He powered the festival the first couple of years.”
Swift, fresh from winning eight trophies at last weekend’s Billboard Music Awards, opened her “1989” tour Wednesday in Bossier City at the CenturyLink Center.
“She’s going to do a small version of the show to get it all wrung out in Bossier City,” Davis said Tuesday. “Then this is her first stadium show. It’s a big deal. Media is coming in from throughout the world to see it. It’s very exciting.”
Unlike the last few years, major construction on Tiger Stadium won’t inconvenience Superfest attendees this weekend.
“Last year, I was saying we’re going to find people here the next day and the day after, trying to find their way back to their cars,” Davis said. “This year will be the first time the whole new south end is open for the country fest. We have beautiful spaces on the ground floor.”
The stadium’s south-end portico can now be used as a new bars and food services area.
“We can turn into a fun people area,” Davis said.
In 2014, Superfest organizers exported the festival’s concept to Jacksonville, Florida. They’re staging the second Florida Country Superfest on June 13 and June 14 and the first Buckeye Country Superfest on June 20 and June 21 in Columbus, Ohio.
As for Superfest in Baton Rouge, Davis said, “It’s grown right under our feet. I have no doubt that this festival is here to stay.”