Rush, Tom Petty Concerts Illustrate Success Of Tulsa's BOK Center

Tuesday, September 21st 2010, 11:47 am
By: News On 6

TULSA, OKLAHOMA -- Tuesday marks the beginning of a special Fall season for Tulsa's BOK Center.

Tuesday morning the arena announced that Elton John and Tulsa's own Leon Russell will perform together in November. 

That announcement comes on the same day the arena welcomes Canadian power trio Rush back to Tulsa for the first time in 26 years.  On Thursday, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers will officially celebrate the arena's 2nd anniversary, along with special guest ZZ Top.

"We have an amazing Fall lined up," said Jerry Goldman, the BOK Center's assistant general manager.  He says there are three or four more major announcements to come in the next month.

Landing high profile acts for the center has become routine.  "We've definitely set the bar high for ourselves and we're OK with that."

So far the arena has not suffered a "sophomore slump." Pollstar, a trade publication that tracks concerts, ranked the BOK Center number 9 in ticket sales.

Goldman says continued strong ticket sales are a big part of landing big acts, but he credits other factors as well. 

"People want to come back to play the BOK Center.  They love the city.  We have a great backstage atmosphere."  Nickelback, for instance, has sold out the arena twice.

Whatever it is, it's working.  Rush is returning to Tulsa for the first time in more than two decades, to play at the BOK Center.  The last time the band performed here was June 13th, 1984 when the group played at the Convention Center during its Grace Under Pressure tour.   

The group had performed in Tulsa on four consecutive tours beginning in 1977, but after 1984's visit it started passing up Tulsa for Oklahoma City, or even Dallas and Kansas City.  But those days appear to be over, thanks to the BOK Center and Oklahomans demanding, and paying to see, big-name acts.

"It truly is the best of the best.  We think the BOK Center enhances the quality of life for Tulsa."

Goldman says it can be stressful getting those acts to play in Tulsa, but he says it's worth it.  He says his biggest professional accomplishment was signing Paul McCartney.  "It was mind-boggling to sit back and watch the entire arena sing 'Hey Jude.'  It really did raise the hair on the back of my neck." 

He's recently been promoted to a position overseeing 22 other facilities operated by SMG, another sign of the arena's success.  But he says the real satisfaction comes on a night like tonight, when thousands of fans will be delighted to see their favorite band.

"Seeing everyone go nuts is my personal payback."