Thursday, September 19, 2013
Toyota Stadium in Frisco: The most competitive concert venue in DFW?
The soccer arena has been hosting shows since 2005, but it's now starting to attract festivals that would have ended up in Dallas.
FRISCO The worlds of sports and live music have long since been intertwined. Venues like American Airlines Center, home to the Dallas Mavericks and Dallas Stars, often play host to high profile concerts in Dallas-Fort Worth. But another sports venue far north of town seems to be taking over the concert calendar.
Located in Frisco, Toyota Stadium (formerly FC Dallas Stadium) is known best as the home of professional soccer team FC Dallas. What area folks might not know is that the stadium has been a music venue since its inception in 2005. It has hosted Kenny Chesney, Jimmy Buffett and EdgeFest on its permanent stage over the last eight years. But its selection as the spot for the inaugural Breakaway Festival, a two-city event featuring Wu-Tang Clan, Empire of the Sun and Matt & Kim, suggests the arena may be a competitive option for shows that otherwise might have migrated to Dallas proper.
“This will be our first time getting into the hip-hop and EDM type of genre,” said Nick Shafer, vice president of stadium operations at Toyota Stadium. “Compared to our counterparts in Columbus [where the other installment of Breakaway will be held], we have a lot of competition.”
Toyota Stadium is an open-air “soccer-specific stadium,” meaning the facility was fundamentally designed to host soccer matches. A permanent stage encompasses the width of the north end of the field, and seating takes over the three remaining sides, forming a U-shape. The arena was built in 2005 and was then owned by Dallasite and sports businessman Lamar Hunt. Since his death in 2006, the Hunt family has acquired ownership of the property.
The 183-foot-wide stage was integral to the design of the stadium. Shafer accredited this to Hunt’s love for sports and entertainment.
“He didn’t only want a soccer team here. He wanted a broader vision and do sports, live entertainment and [be] the capital for Collin County basically,” Shafer said.
The venue has a good shot. In addition to soccer and music, Toyota Stadium hosts football games and car shows. Shafer said the venue is also the area's largest owner of plastic floor covering, which is put on the field during shows. And the stadium owns all its concert barricades. (It rents the light and sound systems.)
For a general admission, standing-room-only concert, Toyota Stadium can hold up to 32,500 people. If the show warrants seating on the field, up to 28,000 people can fit, making it sizeable for “mid-range” musicians and festivals, Shafer said. The venue also has a 1,000-person club that sometimes hosts shows.
Since its opening, Toyota Stadium has hosted a total of 32 shows. Undoubtedly one of the most popular is Buffett’s concert and weekend-long tailgate, which attracted tens of thousands of Parrotheads from 2007 to 2011. In 2012, the show was moved to Gexa, where far fewer tailgaters attended. This year, however, the concert returned to Frisco -- and with it, thousands of parking lot partiers.
“We see it as more than a show: It’s more of a destination,” Shafer said in February of Buffett's return to Frisco. “People come from all over to hang out for the whole weekend.”
Another thing that sets Toyota Stadium apart from DFW’s bigger enclaves is the venue doesn’t book exclusively with one company. The flexibility to work with AEG Live, LiveNation or another booking company entirely gives the venue the flexibility to pick and choose the concerts that seem right for Toyota Stadium.
This weekend’s Breakaway Festival is the product of yet another booking firm, Prime Social Group, which is based out of Columbus, Ohio. In an interview with Billboard this summer, the company’s co-founder Adam Lynn divulged plans to expand the festival to multiple days in each of the flagship cities, as well as other “under-served” markets around the country.
While Shafer doesn’t consider Frisco to be an under-served market for live entertainment, he believes opportunities will continue to grow in time in the suburb, which has repeatedly topped lists as America’s fastest growing city.
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“It goes back to Lamar’s vision of digging Frisco out and then seeing the growth,” Shafer said. “We’re excited to see where [Breakaway] goes and open doors down the road with some of the promotion companies and agents across the nation.”
Breakaway Festival takes place Saturday, September 21. The event spans two stages, plus a Silent Disco tent featuring DJs. Tickets range from $49-$150 for general admission.Follow @tineywristwatch