Pepsi Centre too small for acts like Tim McGraw: promoter

Diane Crocker
Published on May 23, 2014
Singer Tim McGraw is shown in this January 2014 file photo.
The Associated Press

The problem with attracting bigger acts to Corner Brook lies in the size of the available venue, according to one concert promoter.

Vaughn Rowsell is part owner of 5th String Entertainment. The company is bringing Tim McGraw’s Sundown Heaven Town 2014 Tour to St. John’s for three shows at Mile One Centre in August.

Rowsell said Thursday that Corner Brook’s Pepsi Centre isn’t big enough to support bringing the show here.

“Mile One, for instance, their setup for Tim’s show is 6,800 people, so it’s close to 7,000 people, whereas the Pepsi Centre, you’d probably only get around, stretching it, 4,500, 4,600 people,” said Rowsell.

“So it is quite a bit of difference in the numbers. We would have to charge a ticket price (that’s) outrageous to get him to come to that type of venue.

“And believe it or not those extra 1,000, 1,500 seats that Mile One has makes all the difference in the world of making an affordable ticket price.”

He said from a promotion standpoint there is also some apprehension over the reputation the city has for buying tickets at the last minute.

“We kind of get scared sometimes,” he said and added “and then shows have to be cancelled.”

While McGraw will fly into St. John’s for the shows, it’s very likely his crew and equipment will pass through the city en route to St. John’s. Rowsell said that happens with a lot of shows. It did last year when Alan Jackson visited St. John’s and just recently when Toby Keith performed at Mile One.

“And believe me the fact that we have to pass by Corner Brook, it’s a pain because we want to put shows there,” said Rowsell. “We want to start bringing stuff to Corner Brook. It just makes sense.”

So while a Tim McGraw show seems out of the question, Rowsell said other shows are in the works.

He visited the city in March, met with Pepsi Centre management and toured the building.

“We’ve got irons in the fire now to try to get some acts to come in there.”

He wouldn’t say who, just that they are all fairly big acts.

And Rowsell is not the only one who’d like to see a show stop here.

Nicole Wheeler of Halfway Point has started a Facebook event aimed at seeing that happen.

“I would love to see Tim McGraw come to Corner Brook,” said Wheeler. “He’s playing three shows in St. John’s. Seriously, I’m sure he could swing in and throw us a show.”

The event page, Tim McGraw — Please come to Corner Brook, was launched a week ago and has about 1,300 people who say they would attend a concert.

“That’s just on Facebook,” said Wheeler and added “not everyone has Facebook.”

As part of the campaign she’s sent numerous emails to people connected with the tour and posted to McGraw’s Twitter and Facebook pages. Supporters of the idea have also done the same. But so far, she said there’s been no response.

She’s even called the Pepsi Centre, the City of Corner Brook and Mile One and contacted the local media.

“This is not something I normally do,” said Wheeler. “I just went out on a wing and said ‘you know what it’s no harm in trying.’”

The event may be devoted to McGraw, but overall Wheeler said there needs to be a change here in the city when it comes to entertainment.

“I’d like to somehow breathe some life back into Corner Brook,” said the self-described big music fan. “I will try to do my best to support whatever comes here.”

In the meantime, she plans to continue to pursue getting McGraw to perform here.

“August is still a ways away.”

And who knows, it may just make a difference, because Rowsell has seen the Facebook page.

“I take note of that stuff,” he said. “It’s incredible actually to see the number of people.”