Milwaukee’s American Family Insurance Amphitheater, Madison’s The Sylvee among world’s top-selling venues for 2021

Milwaukee’s American Family Insurance Amphitheater, Madison’s The Sylvee among world’s top-selling venues for 2021

Milwaukee World Festival Inc.’s $51.3 million renovation of the American Family Insurance Amphitheater is already paying off, at least in terms of box office stature. 

The nearly 24,000-capacity venue ranked 15th in the world for number of tickets sold in 2021 among amphitheaters, according to concert trade publication Pollstar. That’s a major leap from 2019, when it ranked 82nd. (It was closed in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.)

The venue sold 133,600 tickets this year — a 94% increase from 2019 — for shows that collectively grossed $9.3 million, according to Pollstar. 

When it comes to cumulative box office grosses, American Family Insurance Amphitheater actually ranks higher, clocking in at No. 12 among Pollstar’s list of the 100 top-selling amphitheaters in the world. 

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Inside the new Summerfest American Family Insurance Amphitheater

Take a look inside Summerfest’s $51.3 million upgrade to the amphitheater, unveiled to the media Monday.

Mike De Sisti, Chelsey Lewis and James B. Nelson, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Pollstar’s lists are based on data provided by promoters, but not every concert’s box-office returns are reported. 

The two-year renovation of the American Family Insurance Amphitheater, which included new concourses and seating, additional bathrooms, more aisles and other upgrades, was necessary to stay competitive, Milwaukee World Festival CEO Don Smiley has stressed to the Journal Sentinel. Opened a year later than planned due to COVID-19, the amphitheater hosted 18 concerts in 2021, the highest number since 2004, when the 34-year-old venue was known by its original name, the Marcus Amphitheater.

But the American Family Insurance Amphitheater wasn’t the only Wisconsin concert venue to report some of the year’s strongest box office returns.

The Sylvee in Madison ranked sixth in the world for tickets sold among clubs, according to Pollstar, selling 45,613 tickets, resulting in a cumulative $1.9 million gross. That’s a big leap from 2020, when it ranked 32nd, grossing $930,667 from 25,736 tickets. The three-year-old, 2,500-capacity venue is run by FPC Live, a division of Madison-based promotion company Frank Productions.

FPC Live’s Majestic Theatre and High Noon Saloon in Madison also made Pollstar’s top-selling clubs list, at No. 72 and No. 136, respectively. 

Earlier this month, FPC Live announced plans to construct a new music venue in Milwaukee’s Historic Third Ward, tentatively planned to open in the second half of 2023, pending approvals. Live Nation, the largest promoter in the world, owns a controlling stake in Frank Productions, which continues to run as an independent company.

As a promoter, FPC Live ranked 33rd in the world in 2021, grossing $8.9 million from 187,548 tickets sold, according to Pollstar, down from 27th in 2020. 

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Fiserv Forum’s standings among top ticket-selling arenas also slid, from 50th in the world in 2020 to 69th in 2021. The three-year-old Milwaukee Bucks arena grossed $5.4 million from 46,688 tickets sold this year.

The Resch Center in Green Bay, on the other hand, ranked higher in 2021, placing 154th, up from No. 180 in 2020, among top-selling arenas. It grossed $713,487 from 12,307 tickets sold, according to Pollstar data.

Some other Wisconsin venues made Pollstar’s top-selling theaters list for 2021, including the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center in Appleton (No. 27); the Eagles Ballroom at the Rave in Milwaukee (No. 82), the Grand Theater in Wausau (No. 120), and the Pabst Theater Group’s Riverside Theater (No. 161).

Milwaukee also hosted five of the top 10 grossing tours in the world in 2021, including No. 2 Harry Styles (Nov. 3, Fiserv Forum); No. 3 with Green Day, Fall Out Boy and Weezer (Sept. 1, American Family Insurance Amphitheater); No. 7 Guns ‘N Roses (Sept. 18, American Family Insurance Amphitheater); No. 8 Dave Matthews Band (Sept. 15, American Family Insurance Amphitheater); and No. 10 the Jonas Brothers (Sept. 8, American Family Insurance Amphitheater).

The Rolling Stones were the top-grossing act on the road in 2021, earning $115.5 million at the box office from 12 stadium shows.

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Contact Piet at (414) 223-5162 or plevy@journalsentinel.com. Follow him on Twitter at @pietlevy or Facebook at facebook.com/PietLevyMJS.

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