View single post by tamalie
 Posted: Tue Dec 3rd, 2019 08:05 pm
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tamalie

 

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I went to the archives of the Minneapolis Tribune and Minneapolis Star for the week or two ahead of the 5/15/79 Journey concert and found an explanation for the surprisingly low attendance mark.

The show was definitely at Met Center with Blackfoot opening. However, the newspaper ads for the concert refer to it as "Met Center - Concert Bowl Section (approx. size of Northrop)." In this case Northrup means Northrup Auditorium which is a large theater venue at the heart of the University of Minnesota. At the time, the capacity of that venue was about 4,800. Subsequent renovations and reductions in size to meet safety and fire codes have cut the capacity to about 2,700.

A lot of big acts have played the venue; Bob Dylan, The Grateful Dead, Bob Marley, Elton John, Prince, and Bruce Springsteen among others. During a 1990 B-52s's show fans in the balcony were jumping and dancing so much that plaster started falling from the ceiling below it onto fans on the main level, leading the band to good naturedly ask the people upstairs to cool it so the show could continue because they were literally bringing the house down.

It's now very common for large arenas to have different set ups with cut down capacities in order to book acts not capable of filling a 16,000 plus capacity venue and that need a different supply and demand set up. However, I never knew Met Center had such a thing as far back as the late 1970s and think that may have gone by the wayside later, possibly because even if the capacity was reduced, fans still knew how big the arena was for the NHL and major concerts which meant the reset supply/demand factor couldn't take hold. The 2,881 attendance didn't fill the house, but looks better due to the smaller set up. The 4,775 for Nazareth was effectively a sellout given the set up.

As an aside, the 6/20/79 show headlined by The Village People with Gloria Gaynor as the opening touted that all seats were reserved, but that the main floor would be open as a large disco dance floor that apparently all could access. That seems like a potential invitation for trouble, but at any rate, it makes me wonder if the 6,459 attendance for that concert was not using a full set up since if people were allowed on the floor, that's where everyone was going to go. Even in the wild 1970s concert era, you couldn't open the floor to everyone and set up for 16,000 in a safe manner.