Nitro Circus Live Wraps 2014 Tour

Travis Pastrana and 45 other athletes go big in 13 North America cities

  • by Dave Brooks
  • Published: January 28, 2014

Nitro Circus Live's finale on the last stop of their 2014 North American Tour, Jan. 26 at Honda Center in Anaheim.

REPORTING FROM ANAHEIM, CALIF. — If the cast didn’t have any life-threatening injuries or broken bones, then it was time to go big. Like triple back-flip big.

Daredevil Travis Pastrana and his cast of misfit extreme sports athletes made their final stop on the Nitro Circus Live tour at Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif., on Sunday. Pastrana, who hosted the stunt exhibition of freestyle motocross, BMX and skate, was wearing a cast on his leg to heal a broken foot and told the more than three dozen performers in his troupe “if you don’t already have one of these on your leg, then you better go big tonight.”

And big they went. Besides jumping tricycles, Barbie Cars and even a bathtub on wheels off Nitro Circus’ 50-foot tall Giganta Ramp, atheletes attempted incredibly dangerous stunts like a triple-BMX back flip, a double moto back flip and even a full front flip by wheelchair athelete Aaron “Wheelz” Fotheringham.

Nitro Circus Live is a product of Pastrana and Australian promoter Mike Porra and is based on Pastrana’s popular TV show and film series. It’s toured Australia, New Zealand and Europe for several runs but the recent 13-date tour (Jan. 3-26) is the first time the show has come to North America.

“Nothing is ever guaranteed in the United States and thank God it’s been beyond our expectations,” said Porra, who self-financed the 2014 run by mortgaging his house. He estimated the total cost of staging the massive production was about $10 million. Porra said Nitro Circus Live sold out eight of the 13 stops on the tour and hit over 85-percent capacity at every venue. Porra said the break-even for most stops was about 8,000 to 9,000 seats per night.

Porra said the show’s third date on the tour, a sellout at Madison Square Garden in New York “was financially horrible,” because the cost of the production would not match ticket sales revenue, “but we knew that going in. We made a decision as a company to go there and play,” he said.

“From a media and marketing standpoint, it was extremely beneficial,” because of the exposure Nitro Circus enjoyed in a major market like New York. The benefits for digital content and social media outweighed the costs, he said.

Big winners in North America were MGM Grand Arena in Las Vegas, Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, TD Garden in Boston and a hometown crowd at EnergySolutions Arena in Salt Lake City. “It’s the spiritual home where the Nitro brand was formed and is the homebase for seven of our atheletes,” Porra said.

Porra got routing help from Jeff Apregan with Venue Coalition, and production was handled by Gregg Godfrey with Godfrey Entertainment. Ticketing for the entire North American tour was handled by Ticketmaster.

“It’s a massive production, probably the biggest on the road,” Porra said, noting the tour needs 16 double trailer-trucks for the ramps and production gear and another 10 double-decker sleeper buses to carry the 110-person crew and 45-member cast.

The hardest part of the tour — routing around radius clauses, Porra said. “I would have chosen a completely different schedule had I been able to. There are lots of places the show should have played that it couldn’t.”

Porra said he was given assurances that radius clause issues would be simplified for his planned 2015 run of Nitro Circus, which he said will include more dates and new tour stops. Nitro Circus Live is headed to South Africa in February for three stadium shows, and then May brings five dates in Australia. Pastrana has committed to performing on the Australian stops.

The tour takes an incredible amount of planning and "we’re very heavy on original research,” said Porra, who once worked as a researcher at the University of New South Wales in Sydney. “I learned that trade and I try to minimize the risk on everything. We look at potential fanbase, propensity to buy, and ticket price,” he said. "We do a complete marketing evaluation before we go on the road."

The research has paid off — his mortgage is back to full health and he’s brought on investors from The Raine Group to provide financing. The Raine Group has purchased the media and intellectual rights to Nitro Circus from producer Gregg Godfrey, who remains on the tour as a partner. 

“We’re moving our headquarters from Sydney to L.A. and relocating 20 people to the new office for new media and digital divisions,” he said. “We’re fully funded and the tour paid off. I promised my wife I would never put the house up like that again and I intend to keep that promise.”

Interviewed for this story: Mike Porro, +61 411 194 511

  • by Dave Brooks
  • Published: January 28, 2014