Major Concerts Here to Stay in Buffalo

KeyBank Center/New Era Field Concert Promoter on current concert scene in Buffalo

Mike Baggerman
March 12, 2018 - 9:00 pm

New Era Field ahead of the August 2017 Guns N' Roses Concert (WBEN Photo/Mike Baggerman)


BUFFALO, N.Y. (WBEN) – Jay-Z, Beyonce, Metallica, Elton John…what do they all have in common?

They’re all bringing their tour to Buffalo in 2018. But Buffalo wasn’t always a hot-bed for music.

“When I first started booking (KeyBank Center) 20 years ago, it was a lot harder (to book an artist),” Jennifer Van Rysdam, Vice President of Live Events for Pegula Sports & Entertainment, said. “Shows weren’t doing very well. They struggled to sell. The market was a little soft.”

Van Rysdam, who also books concerts at New Era Field, started to notice a shift around ten years ago.

“I think it’s a mixture of things,” she said. “The economy here held its own while other areas around the country were struggling. Of course, there’s been all this growth and development. Buffalo is an exciting place now.”

Artists, according to Van Rysdam, had little interest before because shows wouldn’t sell out.

“They want to be able to make money,” she said. “How much money they make is driven by how many tickets they can sell. But they also want it to be a good experience for the fans and a good experience for themselves.”

SeatGeek, an online ticket marketplace, last week rated Buffalo as the fourth-best market for “major concerts per capita”, surpassing most major cities like New York City, Boston, and Miami. Buffalo was only defeated by Las Vegas, Nashville, and New Haven markets.

When we interviewed a SeatGeek spokesperson last week, he told us that Buffalo’s location benefitted the ranking. The region’s proximity to Canada, New York City, Cleveland, and other mid-west markets allowed Buffalo to be the median for many major markets.

Van Rysdam noted that Buffalo’s proximity to Toronto can be both a positive and negative.

“A lot of times I will be working on getting a date and I’ll wind up being a back-up to a second or third show in Toronto,” she said. “Toronto is an incredible market, in particular for shows.”

She noted that Buffalo isn’t a top 50 market and many major shows only announce between 30 and 40 dates. However, she said that because Buffalo is selling out more shows and KeyBank Center’s seating capacity, which is around 20,000, the region could see more shows in the future.

New Era Field underwent renovations in 2014 which led to more concerts there.

“Those shows are big,” she said. “We’ve had One Direction, Rolling Stones, Guns N’ Roses, U-2, and now this Jay-Z/Beyonce show being announced this summer, I think that’s a huge thing for this market now.”

Tickets for Beyonce and Jay-Z’s show at New Era Field on August 18 go on sale next Monday.

LISTEN: Jennifer Van Rysdam, VP of Live Events for Pegula Sports & Entertainment, with WBEN's Mike Baggerman

Buffalo Concerts - Jennifer Van Rysdam RAW.mp3

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