Denise Neil

March 2, 2012

Concert ticket sales on a roll in Wichita

A happy problem is developing lately at music venues across Wichita.

A happy problem is developing lately at music venues across Wichita.

People can’t get tickets to concerts.

During the past several months, local venues such as the Cotillion, 11120 W. Kellogg, and the Orpheum Theatre, 200 N. Broadway, have been putting on a steady stream of sold-out shows, an unusual Wichita occurrence until recently.

The Orpheum, a 1,200-seat venue, is on a sellout roll lately. Fans who delayed ticket purchases recently missed out on seeing comedian Craig Ferguson and blues legend B.B. King. Tickets to the Avett Brothers, an Americana band that will play March 11, and Glen Campbell, who performs his farewell tour on April 29, sold out within a week.

The Cotillion is on a similar roll. Just since November, the 2,000-capacity venue has sold out country acts Gary Allen, Casey Donahew Band, Randy Rogers Band, Eli Young Band and Justin Moore — plus comedian Kathy Griffin. If sales continue as they have, metal band Chevelle on March 13 and rapper Tyga on March 18 also will sell out. Catherine Leslie, who helps her husband, owner Richard, run the venue, said ticket sales have picked up to the point where she’s had to hire new people to help work the doors.

“I’ve been swamped,” she said.

Intrust Bank Arena, whose Taylor Swift-ish sellouts slowed after opening-year excitement, has a capacity show coming up. Tickets to country star Jason Aldean’s March 16 show were snatched up quickly after they went on sale.

What’s with the sudden surge of ticket-buying?

It could be an improving economy, venue owners speculate. It could be that excitement about Intrust Bank Arena is putting people in a concert-going mood.

Or it could be that sellouts are breeding sellouts, giving promoters more confidence to bring big acts to Wichita, said Sarah Haertl, director of sales and marketing at Intrust Bank Arena.

“I cannot impress enough upon how great that is for the industry to see Wichita selling shows out at all different levels,” she said. “All it does is show people in the industry that people in Wichita appreciate live music and are willing to pay to see it.”

Adam Hartke, the Orpheum’s operations and promotions manager, said he investigates how acts are doing in other Wichita-sized markets when deciding what to book. Craig Ferguson, he noted, didn’t sell out in Omaha — even though he did in Wichita.

Hartke said he knew that the Avett Brothers likely would do well here. The band has sold out 7,000-seat venues on the east and west coasts. But he was relieved when 900 tickets sold here on the first day. By the end of the week, the tickets were completely gone. Tickets to the Campbell show sold with similar swiftness.

Hartke said he’s optimistic the recent string of sellouts will help retrain the brains of the Wichita ticket-buying public, who are notoriously last-minute shoppers.

“It’s my hope that this might help kind of progress a culture in Wichita to learn to buy tickets earlier,” he said. “It’s a strain on any event promoter in the city to put on a show and have all your ticket sales come in the last few days. I hope that people start learning, ‘Hey if you want to see the show, you’d better get you tickets early.’ ”

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