Arena tops 200,000-attendee mark for year

TUPELO – With more than two months left to go in the fiscal year, attendance has surpassed the 200,000 mark at the BancorpSouth Arena.
Todd Hunt, arena director, said entertainment events have drawn 138,579 people and meetings account for another 72,346 for a total of 210,925.
“I don’t know if this will be our most-attended year, but it should be our second most-attended,” he said during Monday’s Tupelo Coliseum Commission meeting.
The best year was 1998-99, which saw more than 256,000 in the building’s seats.
Hunt said this year’s attendance numbers have been surprising, considering the weakness in the national and regional economies.
Throughout the country, concert attendance has dropped off, partly because of high ticket costs driven by fees paid to performers. Artists like Christina Aguilera, the Eagles and Rihanna have canceled dates at other venues this year because of poor ticket sales.
Hunt said he’s made offers that have been turned down because the artists wanted more money than he thought the Tupelo market could support.
“We’re going to continue to make the right decisions and not overpay for the acts,” Hunt said.
Since it opened in 1993, the arena has averaged 9.4 concerts a year. This year, it’s hosted eight concerts.
Two more concerts, the Gaither Homecoming on Sept. 18 and Jason Aldean on Sept. 24, will take place before the end of the fiscal year.
“Jason Aldean keeps all his ticket prices under $40,” Hunt said, “so that should help our attendance.”
Contact M. Scott Morris at (662) 678-1579 or scott.morris@djournal.com.

M. Scott Morris/NEMS Daily Journal