Did you know that Garth Brooks stopped touring in 2001, right when his career was on fire, in order to focus on raising his three daughters? That's quite a surprising choice for a guy who was one of the most popular musicians in the world at the time. As he explained, he planned to be a full-time father until his youngest daughter turned 18.
Clearly Brooks has some strong personal convictions, but it's equally surprising to hear that he just canceled his Dublin "Comeback Special Event." Brooks has his reasons for canceling the sold-out shows in Ireland's Croke Park Stadium, but if you ask me, it was an incredibly petty decision, and one that will bitterly disappoint at least 400,000 would-be concertgoers.
Brooks was scheduled to play July 25-29 in Dublin, which would have been his first large-scale public performance since announcing that he planned to resume touring in 2014. The problem arose when the Dublin City Council would only approve three of his five sold-out shows, citing "an over intensification of use of the stadium." Apparently there's a policy that limits special events at the venue to no more than three annually, due to its location in a residential area.
Brooks responded to the council pushback with a statement that he would play five shows or none:
To choose which shows to do and which shows not to do would be like asking to choose one child over another.
Something of a shitshow ensued, with petitions flying on all sides from residents who did -- and did NOT -- want the five shows. Dublin's council met again on Monday night but ultimately upheld the decision to refuse permits for two of the shows.
So Brooks cancelled all five. Here's the statement from the promoter:
It is with great regret that Aiken Promotions today announce that the five concert Garth Brooks Comeback Special Event at Croke Park has been cancelled. No concerts will take place. The ticket return process will be outlined tomorrow. Aiken Promotions have exhausted all avenues regarding the staging of this event. We are very disappointed for the 400,000 fans who purchased tickets for the Garth Brooks Comeback Special Event.
Brooks is planning to hold a live press conference in Nashville on Thursday to address the cancelled Ireland concerts, but I can't imagine that whatever explanation he gives will make this feel like the right decision. I mean, I totally get that it must have been extremely frustrating to sell out five shows, then learn you have to drop two of them, but come on. This wasn't LITERALLY Sophie's Choice. It seems to me that making 60 percent of the concertgoers happy would have been better than disappointing 100 percent of them.
Plus, not only are a bunch of fans left high and dry, the fact that the council and the promoter couldn't come to a compromise resulted in a cost to the city of about $68 million. Meanwhile, other venues in Ireland have offered to accommodate Brooks' shows, but promoter Peter Aiken says it's just too late to change plans.
The promoter should never have put the tickets up for sale before securing permission -- and frankly, in a country that's struggling economically, I think the council should have reconsidered allowing the five large-scale events -- but once the permits were denied, I think Brooks should have honored as much of his commitment as he could have. Thousands had booked flights and hotels, for crying out loud, and instead of trying to fix the situation by, say, scaling back production and using another location, Aiken seems hell-bent on rubbing salt in everyone's wounds:
This show that he was putting on was going to be a spectacular show. I don't think anyone would have seen anything like it. Maybe in the future I'll produce the drawings to show them but now's not the time.
What do you think of Garth Brooks' decision to cancel these shows?
Image via armadillo444/Flickr