News broke over the weekend that Mick Jagger’s health would not allow the Rolling Stones’ tour of the U.S. and Canada to start as planned this month. (Getty Images)

Scheduling could be tricky for stadium shows during football season

Rescheduled dates for the Rolling Stones’ 2019 North American tour should be confirmed over the next few weeks, said Jeff Apregan, a consultant for the Gridiron Stadium Network. The group had six NFL member facilities on the original route.

“It was never a conversation about cancellation, it was always a conversation about postponement,” Apregan said. “The concern of course is weather as you get later in the year.”

The 17-show tour, originally set for April 20 through June 29, was postponed because of a medical condition concerning lead singer Mick Jagger, the band announced over the weekend. Some media outlets have reported Jagger will have heart valve surgery this week.

Tour promoter Concerts West, a division of AEG Presents, is reportedly rebooking dates starting in July. Future dates to replace bookings for New Orleans Jazzfest and Burl’s Creek Event Grounds, about 130 miles north of Toronto and Canada’s largest outdoor venue, are more uncertain at this point, according to multiple reports.

John Meglen, co-CEO of Concerts West, did not return emails for comment.

Twelve NFL stadiums were part of the original tour. The NFL preseason starts in early August, which leaves a much shorter window to reschedule dates before running into football season. At that point, it can be a tricky process to squeeze shows between games. Seven NFL stadiums on the original route, plus Rose Bowl Stadium, home of UCLA football, have natural grass fields, and rescheduling concerts after football season kicks off could be an issue for teams concerned with maintaining a high-quality playing surface.

The NFL typically releases its schedule in mid-April for preseason and regular-season games.

“With preseason starting in August, you kind of wonder about those things,” Apregan said.

“All those conversations are taking place and they’re working through it, but there are a lot of moving parts for sure,” he said. “It definitely gets challenging, but it’s not impossible. I have not been in these conversations, but there certainly have been tours that have gone beyond the start of the NFL season that have spilled into September and in some cases even October.”

The Gridiron Stadium Network, founded in 2005 to help NFL teams book more concerts in their buildings, has a major presence on the Stones’ “No Filter” tour. Apregan’s longtime relationship with Concerts West executives Meglen and Paul Gongaware helped secure dates for six network members. (At NRG Stadium in Houston, SMG and not the Texans took the lead for booking the Stones, he said).

TIAA Bank Field, home of the Jacksonville Jaguars, was the first network member facility with an April 24 show. To be in a better position to get a Stones date, the Jaguars partnered with Concerts West to co-promote the concert. As a result, the NFL team is taking on more financial risk than teams and venues that sign more traditional concert rental agreements.

“We have not discussed dates and will follow Concerts West/AEG’s lead,” Chad Johnson, the team’s senior vice president of sales and service and chief content officer, said in an email sent last weekend.

Considering the tour was postponed about three weeks before the first show April 20 at Hard Rock Stadium in the Miami area, there are upfront expenses that can’t be recouped by teams, facilities and the promoter, such as advertising and preproduction costs, Apregan said. Those costs could reach seven figures, he said.

“The tour itself has all kinds of expenses, salaries of people and flights moving people all over the world,” Apregan said. “There’s a lot of work that’s already been done that they’ll have to sort of put a bookmark in there and spend that money all over again. Everyone’s affected from a financial standpoint, probably more on the promoter’s side.”

Other challenges for rescheduling a tour of this magnitude would be bringing back the army of in-demand tour personnel and making sure all equipment — sound, lights, staging and video — are available for the reconfigured run. Tougher to pin down (and recoup) are expenses related to countless hours logged in planning, coordinating, routing, scheduling on-sales, local logistics, merchandising and travel related to a Rolling Stones tour, which is rivaled by few tours in regard to the complexity of preparation.

In situations such as tour postponements or cancellations, artists, promoters and venues can  buy event-related insurance for protection, said Paul Bassman, CEO of Ascend Insurance Brokerage, a company specializing in underwriting music festivals and arena tours.

Ascend Insurance Brokerage does not have ties to the Stones’ tour, Bassman said.

Cancellation insurance is common for major concert tours, he said. For the Stones, without knowing specific details, they’re most likely getting “very large” guarantees for individual shows regardless of attendance, and buying a policy gives them protection in case shows do not go on as scheduled, Bassman said.

Those policies typically cover 70% to 80% of the guarantees, he said.

Concerts West most likely bought its own insurance policy for protection, Bassman said.

“The thing about the Stones is these shows sell out almost immediately, so that’s not the biggest concern, but if they do have expenses to reschedule, the policy would cover those,” he said. “The buildings themselves may have a policy to cover their profits from parking, merchandise and concessions. I live in Dallas, and AT&T Stadium will take out a policy every so often when they have a large event.”

Five years ago, the Stones faced a similar situation over concert postponements. In 2014, the group rescheduled seven dates in Australia and New Zealand over the month of March after Jagger’s girlfriend, L’Wren Scott, committed suicide. In November of that year, at the same time the dates were rescheduled, the band settled a $13 million insurance claim after Jagger was advised by doctors not to perform for 30 days. The settlement reportedly ended a lawsuit that the band filed against insurers that initially refused to pay the claim over issues tied to Scott’s mental condition and the fact that Jagger wasn’t treated by a psychiatrist.

The Alliance for Lifetime Income is the exclusive sponsor of the Stones’ 2019 tour. The nonprofit, dedicated to educating Americans about retirement plans, includes insurance firms State Farm, Nationwide and Pacific Life among its financial supporters.

Editor’s note: This story has been revised since it was originally posted. Advertising is among the upfront costs that cannot be recouped, Jeff Apregan said.