Tuscaloosa’s apathetic amphitheater needs to do more to satisfy T-Town music lovers

If you go to the website that sells tickets for the Tuscaloosa Amphitheater, you’ll find five events as of April 12: one in April, two in June, one in July and one in August. There is something missing here.

For a venue that is literally within walking distance of a major university, there is a surprising lack of artists booked to play there. Sure, there have been some popular acts in the past, with My Morning Jacket and The Avett Brothers helping to fill the approximate 7,000-seat capacity. However, there are not enough artists who appeal to the immediate demographic of the students; they would probably be more excited to go to a concert in their own backyard.

Where are the mainstream hip-hop and rap artists? If you look at the upcoming schedule, you will find Ringo Starr and Crosby, Stills and Nash. I wonder how many UA students are beating down the box office doors to get their hands on tickets for these shows. It would only make sense to book an artist with appeal to the students at the University. There would be record attendance, which would spell economic boom for the community and encourage more artists to consider Tuscaloosa as a viable city for tour destinations.

Perhaps artists such as Yelawolf and Gucci Mane could perform at the amphitheater, both having been born in Alabama. Surely, this would be a popular event. It seems as if the people who book artists for the venue do not make any concerted effort to bring in talent that would appeal to what one could only assume would be their direct market: The University student.

In past years, the University has even sponsored concerts with artists such as The Ying Yang Twins and Vanilla Ice as part of a “welcome back” concert. There could be something similar with the University working with the Tuscaloosa Amphitheater to book a better-known artist and supply either free or discounted student tickets. There is a vast potential that can be tapped into by the Amphitheater to deliver a much more desirable show for students.

Imagine having concerts lined up for several months at a time with big names performing in Tuscaloosa for the students of this University. While some may complain about spending all their money on such tickets, it would be a great escape for some on the weekends, rather than driving to Birmingham or Atlanta to see concerts there. Having a more prominent musical venue in Tuscaloosa would also attract more artists, culture and tourism to the area.

In a city so devastated by the tornadoes of April 27, 2011, it only makes sense that the city would want to bring in as much money as possible to help alleviate problems with rebuilding the city. Tourism generated from patrons seeking shows in Tuscaloosa would bring money and culture to the devastated city. There are clearly many reasons for bringing more and better artists to the Tuscaloosa Amphitheater, so why is it not being done? Is there an underlying issue of budgetary constraints?

One well-known artist performance would certainly generate enough profits to cover any booking fees. Is it a disconnection with the demographic? Surely they can look at Billboard charts and determine artists worth pursuing. Is it simply that the owners and managers do not want University students overflowing the theater? There are many questions concerning the mystery of why the Tuscaloosa Amphitheater is not as popular as it could be. It is hard to ignore the potential that it holds, and I propose we tap into it.

 

Matthew Hussong is a junior in New College. 

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