Canadians love Canadian music. Billboard points out that domestic acts generated a ton of dosh at venues across the country. Here’s what they say about the biggest grossing tours of 2016 and the nation’s top ten music venues.
1. Air Canada Centre, Toronto
Top-Grossing Acts Adele, The Tragically Hip, Justin Bieber
Ticket Sales $43.6 million
When The Tragically Hip’s farewell tour came to Toronto’s Air Canada Centre for three nights in August 2016, “we really put a lot into elevating the event,” says Wayne Zronik, senior vp music and live entertainment for venue operator Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, noting that the band had played the opening of the arena in 1999. The venue set up a video booth “where fans could talk about their [Tragically Hip] experiences,” says Zronik. Among those who filmed a tribute to the group was Toronto Mayor John Tory, who declared The Tragically Hip Day in the city. As the venue underwent ongoing improvements, from upgraded dressing rooms to in-seat food and drink, it hosted many of 2016’s top touring acts, including Adele, Bieber, Drake/Future and David Gilmour. But the emotion of the Tragically Hip concerts was “really amazing,” says Zronik. “I’ve never been through anything like that.”
2. Bell Centre, Montreal
Concert Capacity 21,242
Top-Grossing Acts Celine Dion, Adele, Drake/Future
Ticket Sales $42.4 million
A $100 million upgrade to Montreal’s Bell Centre that began in 2015 is in its final stages. Last year the venue got all new seats, new digital signage in its concourse areas, a new catering room and more. Fans who flocked to the building to see Dion, Adele, Drake/Future and others might have been unaware but the venue also has received the ISO 14001 international certification for environmental management. “We recycle. We compost. We are as green as can be,” says Nick Farkas, vp concerts and events at Evenko, which operates the Bell Centre. “We’re conscientious about recycling — and giving away food after shows to missions, to food banks. We’re very -conscious of our place in our world.”
3. FirstOntario Centre, Hamilton, Ontario
Concert Capacity 19,500
Top-Grossing Acts Paul McCartney, The Tragically Hip, Black Sabbath
Ticket Sales $14.3 million
Less than an hour’s drive west of Toronto, the FirstOntario Centre draws top acts to Hamilton. It’s a city with a population of just over a half million, but it’s located in the center of Canada’s most populous region. A sold-out Black Sabbath show in early 2016 began a season that also had bookings by The Tragically Hip, McCartney and five shows in four days by Garth Brooks. Venue GM Scott Warren happened to mention to Brooks that his executive assistant Jennifer Csefko was also a singer. The country superstar asked Csefko if she would learn “How Do I Live,” a hit by his wife Trisha Yearwood — then invited her to sing it with him during a soundcheck. Yearwood gave Csefko a standing ovation. Warren recalls Yearwood saying: “That’s amazing. I can take the night off.”
Read about the rest of the top ten-grossing music venues here.