Garth Brooks, who just last month got back to his Stadium Tour, hit the pause button on sales for an upcoming Seattle stop and is reassessing plans for fall shows in light of the current COVID surge in the U.S. Brooks had encouraged other artists to “get back in the game” when he first took to the stage in July, but he appears to be second-guessing shows beyond the pair scheduled this week.
“It breaks my heart to see city after city go on sale and then have to ask those sweet people and the venues to reschedule,” Brooks said in a statement. “We have a three-week window coming up where we, as a group, will assess the remainder of the stadium tour this year. It’s humbling to see people put this much faith in you as an artist, and it kills me to think I am letting them down.”
Brooks had just announced a September 4 performance at Lumen Field in Seattle, which was scheduled to have tickets go on sale Friday. Those plans are on hold, however, in light of the developing situation regarding COVID. “Although Seattle is the first city back after that three weeks, we still don’t know what is going to happen to concerts at this point…therefore, until we are sure we can play the date, we will not be going forward with the Seattle on sale,” a news release announcing the decision said.
Brooks hasn’t made any changes to existing tour plans yet, aside from holding off Seattle ticket sales. His next two shows in Kansas City and Lincoln, Nebraska are still scheduled to go on as planned, on August 7 and August 14. The next scheduled show aside from Seattle is on September 18 in Cincinnatti, with Charlotte, Baltimore, and Boston in September and October – a gap in the schedule that allows for Brooks and his touring operation to take a wait and see approach. Another performance scheduled for July at Nissan Stadium in Nashville was postponed due to weather, and has not yet been rescheduled.
Prior to that Nashville show, Brooks had indicated the possibility of a full pause on touring if numbers indicated it was not safe to bring large crowds together. “Here’s the important thing: our job is to gether people in mass numbers,” he told reporters. “If that’s a bad thing then we need to stand down. And that’s what we’ll do.”
According to data on Worldometers.info, COVID case numbers have taken a dramatic turn upwards in July as the reportedly more contagious “delta” variant has circulated, particularly in communities with low vaccination rates. In July, the 7-day average of new cases rose from just over 10,000 a day to 81,132 on July 31. Amid the surge, a number of live entertainment organizations have taken strides towards stricter measures as they hope to maintain reopening momentum – such as Broadway’s decision to require full vaccination for all audiences at shows through October.