Durban - It took R300 000 from the city coffers to lure R&B star John Legend to Durban, and there are plans to use the same strategy on other superstars.
Although not confirmed, speculation is that other music A-listers, like Beyoncé, would make a pit-stop in Durban and not give the city a miss – as big names have done in recent years. This is part of the city’s plan to attract international artists to Durban.
Moses Mabhida Stadium general manager Vusi Mazibuko said the stadium had already started spending the R5-million budget approved by the eThekwini Municipality late last month to hook top acts. He said the city was spending R300 000 towards the Legend concert.
But Mazibuko insisted that the city would not be “dishing out” money to concert organisers, saying he projected that the stadium would generate R800 000 in revenue from the November 21 concert.
“These are minimal costs and the rights remain with the stadium, meaning we won’t outsource anything. All the profit from the catering and the beverages will come to us,” he said. “We have built a sports audience in Durban, now we need to build a concert audience… we need to spend money.”
Mazibuko said he and his team had brainstormed possible events. Music was the obvious choice, he said, adding that their research had shown that only particular music genres were popular with Durban audiences.
Soul, gospel, and pop came out tops and because of the demographics, Bollywood-related events.
“We don’t want to bring any artists that won’t sell,” he said.
It emerged last year that the city was losing R50m a night when international acts came to South Africa and decided to give the city a miss. The revelation came after several major acts such as Metallica, Bon Jovi, Justin Bieber and Rihanna decided to perform only in Joburg and Cape Town. Similarly this year, international acts like boy band, One Direction, The Fray, Foo Fighters and 30 seconds to Mars will not be performing here on their worldwide tour.
“We can’t bring any of these acts to Durban as the dates are already fixed but, as always, we consider bringing every act that we promote to Durban and will do so if it’s logistically and financially feasible,” said Justin van Wyk, the managing director of Big Concerts.
Van Wyk also confirmed that the city would not be paying the event organisers to bring Legend to Durban. “The concert is not funded by the eThekwini Municipality as such. The city is an official sponsor and covers certain logistical costs of the event, in exchange for sponsorship rights,” he said.
DA caucus leader Zwakele Mncwango did not object to the city injecting money into Moses Mabhida, saying it was a good investment. However, he suggested that as a long-term plan for the facility, the city should consider selling the stadium’s name to big corporate companies or reopening talks with the Sharks.
Big Concerts is bringing the 35-year-old Legend to the country. Winner of nine Grammy Awards, Legend, who is also a songwriter and pianist, will visit the city as part of the South African leg of his All of Me world tour, which has already sold out in more than 60 US cities.
Three scheduled Cape Town concerts and two in Joburg, all in November, have also sold out.
The announcement was made last week (Thursday) and tickets went on sale the next day. All public tickets were sold out at the beginning of this week.
Mazibuko said the stadium management had subsequently been approached by other organisers wanting to stage huge concerts in the city. Asked about bringing Beyoncé to the country, Mazibuko said: “Definitely, why not? We’re in talks with concert organisers who are bringing big guns to the country… if negotiations go well, we will see these artists in Durban.”
Speaker Logie Naidoo said it was a shame that thousands of Durbanites had to go to Joburg and Cape Town to watch a concert.
The R5m cash injection was approved by the members of the city’s executive committee two weeks ago after Mazibuko tabled a report on the stadium’s revenue.
The stadium stands to lose between R800 000 and R1.1m this year after the relegation of Golden Arrows Football Club to the first division, and there was also the risk of the city losing stadium suite holders – who contribute R6.5m annually to the coffers – who Mazibuko said would not renew their leases.
It costs the city about R1m monthly to maintain the stadium.