By Tanner Kent
Free Press Staff Writer
MANKATO — Early in 2012, Elton-mania swept southern Minnesota.
When Elton John’s second-ever outstate Minnesota performance was announced in February, social media flared with surprise and excitement that the legendary performer would choose Mankato for a concert date.
When tickets went on sale in March, dozens camped out overnight at the Verizon Wireless Center for first druthers on seats. Two hours after the box office opened, only the most expensive single seats remained. In just hours, third-party ticket sellers were advertising tickets at prices up to three times face value. Eric Jones, the civic center’s marketing manager, said at the time that he’d “never seen anything like it.”
In the days leading up to the concert, local radio stations were besieged with requests to play Elton’s music. On the day of his concert, oldies station 100.5 FM played Elton tunes all day long. Dwayne Megaw, Radio Mankato station director, remarked that “playing just a few songs wasn’t enough.”
Then, on April 22, one of the biggest stars in the musical firmament took the stage in Mankato — and he didn’t disappoint.
Ripping through a 25-song set that spanned nearly three hours, Elton gave southern Minnesota a show it would not soon forget. He opened with “The One” and continued with such selections as “Your Song,” “Tiny Dancer,” “Daniel,” “Rocket Man,” “Candle in the Wind” and “Bennie and the Jets.” He closed with “Crocodile Rock.”
Minus a few technical glitches, the show was a rousing success.
More than 6,900 attended and the concert grossed more than $763,000 — earning it the No. 1 spot for venues with between 5,000 and 10,000 seats on the weekly list compiled by Venues Today that tracks the country’s hottest concerts.
Locally, the concert netted more than $30,000 in profit after subtracting overhead costs. Civic center Executive Director Burt Lyman said it was, by far, the highest-grossing show and quickest sell-out in Verizon history.
The civic center even gave Sir Elton a plaque that proclaimed as much.