Venue Views: He Won’t Back Down
By Ray Waddell
Billboard — June 15, 2002
As Tom Petty gears up for his 32-date summer tour of arenas and amphitheaters, the artist will stick with his previously stated intention to eschew gold-circle/VIP seating, along with the hefty prices that typically accompany them. Long-time Petty manager Tony Dimitriades of East End Management defines gold-circle tickets as “a few select seats, normally in the first area near the stage, with [fans] charged an exorbitant amount of money for the privilege of being treated differently from others. That smacks of segregation in Tom Petty’s mind and it totally against what rock’n’roll is all about.”
Dimitriades says tickets for Petty’s tour — which begins June 27 at Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids, Mich. — range from $22 to $77, without any gold-circle or VIP ducats on the manifest. “Some promoters have said, ‘That’s crazy, we could be charging $75-85,” Dimitriades reports. So what if scalpers charge that and more? “Scalping is not something the artist encourages or allows,” he points out. “But with gold circle, the artist has the right to say he doesn’t want to do this, and if you have any leverage whatsoever, the promoters will go along with it.”
Which obviously appears to be the case with Petty. “We’re in a partnership with these artists, and we’re going to do what they feel is right for their audience,” House of Blues Concerts senior VP Larry Vallon says. “We’re fine with scaling tickets however Tom wants them, and not having a gold circle is fine with us. Tom Petty has always been a champion for the fans, dating back to when he argued with the record company about what they could charge for his albums. He has never wanted to gouge his fans, and that’s why he has career longevity and why he’s selling places out.”
Petty’s new album, which boasts a working title of The Last DJ, is due in October on MCA.