Between four Garth Brooks concerts and the first University of Kentucky basketball game of the 2014-15 season, Rupp Arena officials expect more than 100,000 people to come to Lexington's largest indoor venue Halloween weekend.
That will take some work and creativity to move crowds, particularly the nights of Oct. 31 and Nov. 1, when Brooks, 52, will play back-to-back shows at 6:30 and 10:30 each night. (UK plays Pikeville at 7 p.m. Nov. 2.)
Rupp General Manager Carl Hall says discussions have been in the works, since word first came that doubleheader concerts by Brooks were possible, "about how to turn it from a night in Rupp Arena to a weekend in downtown Lexington."
Among those ideas is a shuttle service that will let fans attending the 10:30 shows park at a couple of lots on Old Frankfort Pike at the Lexington police station near New Circle Road and ride in to the front door of Lexington Center. There, they can take in food and a concert at Heritage Hall or head into downtown Lexington for dinner and other diversions until doors open around 9:45.
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Figuring all of this out is a good problem to have, as far as Hall is concerned. Landing the Brooks tour, particularly the fourth stop on his comeback tour, was a big deal for the arena.
"It's an astonishing coup for Rupp Arena and the city of Lexington to be the fourth city on his comeback tour," Hall said.
Hall said he believed the essential element in attracting Brooks is that he loves Rupp Arena.
Brooks has already played Chicago, is in Atlanta this weekend for the last two performances of a seven-show stand and will play back-to-back weekends in Jacksonville, Fla., in mid-October before coming to Lexington.
"He did an interview with WBUL where he said, 'You guys are known for basketball, but in our world you're known as one of the best places to play,'" Hall recalled.
Brooks has played Rupp Arena three times before, the first as an opener for The Judds in 1991, followed by two shows in 1993 and a record-setting three-night stand in May 1998. All the shows sold out.
Friday started with Brooks slated to play two dates at Rupp: the 6:30 shows. With the additional shows, Brooks would break his own record, becoming the first musical act to play four dates at Rupp Arena on the same tour stop. The 10:30 shows were added around 20 minutes after tickets went on sale Friday morning, when the 6:30 Nov. 1 show was near selling out.
Hall said the Saturday show was the most popular because the first night falls on Halloween, when many people have other plans, and with the 6:30 start time it was better for out-of-town fans.
"If you live in Indianapolis, it's pretty hard to get off work and get to Lexington for a 6:30 concert on a Friday," Hall said.
With no other currently scheduled tour dates in the region, including Cincinnati and Louisville, Brooks is expected to draw a substantial crowd from outside the Lexington area.
As of Friday afternoon, tickets were "off sale" for the Nov. 1 dates, and Hall said the best seating options were for the 10:30 Oct. 31 show. He said tickets for the Nov. 1 shows will probably go back on sale soon, "as seats become available. But you will probably have your best shopping for seats for the Friday shows."
More than 23,000 tickets are available for each performance, meaning 92,000 seats overall are available for the Lexington engagement. Hall said Brooks' last Lexington stand drew 63,000, and he expected the upcoming shows to draw 10,000 to 15,000 more.
"So that's 73 to 78,000," Hall said. "Add that to more than 20,000 UK fans and that's where we get 100,000."
That's a big weekend.