Climbing atop the Tacoma Dome to fly the Garth flag
Tacoma will see country music fans come out in force — as in 100,000-plus — over a three-day span to see Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood for their upcoming shows at the Tacoma Dome.
It wasn’t enough for Brooks to have just one show in Tacoma, as was apparent the day tickets went on sale. More shows were quickly added, for a total of five.
“The last time Garth Brooks took the stage in the Puget Sound was 19 years ago, when he set his own ticket-sales record with 85,490 tickets, “ Travel Tacoma + Pierce County said in its October newsletter. “When he comes to the Tacoma Dome Nov. 3-5, he will shatter that record, with 100,000 tickets sold and counting.”
And, those aren’t just Tacoma-based fans.
“That’s 100,000+ people coming to downtown Tacoma for five shows over a three-day period, with approximately half coming from outside the Puget Sound area, from as far away as Oregon, Alaska, Hawaii and Canada,” according to Travel Tacoma.
Given all that, here’s a look at how Tacoma’s making the transition in the coming days from T-Town to G-Town.
ECONOMIC IMPACT AND HOTELS
Five Brooks shows add up to potential millions of dollars churning through the local hospitality industry.
“Based on visitor spending averages for Tacoma and Pierce County, we’d estimate about a $12.5 million economic impact mainly felt in the city of Tacoma from the Garth Brooks series of concerts,” Bennish Brown, president and CEO of Travel Tacoma + Pierce County told The News Tribune via email.
That’s good news for local hotels, bars and restaurants.
“Big shows at the Tacoma Dome almost always mean big nights for hotels,” Brown wrote. “When Ed Sheeran played the Dome in July, hotels downtown were above 98 percent occupancy, which is about as high as it gets in the industry.
“Similarly, Bruno Mars had us at a little more than 97 percent, and that was on a weeknight.”
A check of Tacoma hotels Thursday afternoon showed many were sold out or close to it. According to the tourism bureau, Pierce County has roughly 5,700 guest rooms, including nearly 1,300 in Tacoma.
Fife, which benefits from Dome patrons looking for a close place to stay, has another 800 or so guest rooms.
“As goes the Tacoma Dome, especially with major entertainers, so go Pierce County hotels,” Brown said via email.
EATING AND DRINKING
Tacoma’s Harmon Brewery & Eatery, 1938 Pacific Ave., is expecting its sales to be 2 1/2 times above the usual during Garth Days.
“We’re staffing up and ordering way over what we normally do,” said Riley Holder, chief operations officer for the brewery.
And while Brooks won’t be getting a key to the city, Harmon Brewery will have a Garth Brooks beer on tap.
“I assume it will be something like a winter warmer, since we’re heading into that time of year,” Holder said.
Plus, the Harmon will promote a special concert menu on its Facebook page.
Steel Creek American Whiskey Co. plans a full-scale “Garth Week” with a “Garth-inspired cocktail menu all week long plus the biggest pre-parties and after-parties in town on his show nights,” according to its website.
The restaurant at 1114 Broadway will open early, at 11 a.m. Saturday and Sunday, for lunch before Brooks’ 2 p.m. shows.
Gig Harbor’s Heritage Distilling Co. has been promoting ticket giveaways on social media.
“We oftentimes reward our Cask Club members with tickets we have to different events,” said Hannah Hanley, director of strategic development with the distillery.
“In this particular instance, we have some extra tickets to the concert, so we are rewarding the social media followers of Cask Club Radio with the chance to win tickets. We have three pairs to give away.”
The winners will be drawn Monday (Oct. 30.)
The Swiss Restaurant and Pub has declared itself the “Unofficial Garth Brooks Party Headquarters,” and promises “All hands will be on deck for this big weekend.”
“Experience tells us that concert-goers all show up at the same time ... on their way to the Dome,” Kelly Walton, manager of The Swiss told The News Tribune via email. “We use a special events menu to insure that we can serve everyone quickly.”
The Swiss, 1904 Jefferson Ave., also points to its convenience when it comes to mass transit.
“We are a short walk up the stairs from the Link on Pacific Avenue,” Walton said. “Folks can park on the hill above The Swiss, join us for a bite and a brew and Link to The Dome. Then come back and tell us how the show was!”
For those who don’t even venture from the Dome, there will be plenty to eat and drink.
“Our food and beverage provider has brought in additional freezer and refrigerator trailers to ensure we have plenty of stock on hand for guests throughout the weekend,” Kim Bedier, director for Tacoma Venues & Events with the city, told The News Tribune.
The Brooks shows at the Dome will mean extra staff drawn from across the state.
“Every aspect of our guest services team will be reinforced with additional managers and support staff from other venues throughout the region,” Bedier said via email.
“For example, there are managers from Spokane that will be here to not only swell our ranks and ensure our guests have a great time but they are also using this as an opportunity to prepare for their own Garth shows.”
Playing a string of shows in one city isn’t unusual on the Brooks tour. He has seven concerts in Spokane.
GETTING THERE AND BACK
But before Brooks’ fans can enjoy the scene at the Dome they have to get there.
According to the venue’s website, streets surrounding the Dome will be closed to incoming traffic from about 4:30-5:45 p.m. Nov. 4 and Nov. 5 to help empty its parking lots after the afternoon performances.
Sound Transit is in the thick of making arrangements to get concertgoers to the shows. Plans include using Link, Sounder trains and ST Express.
“Tacoma Link trains will have special late night hours,” the agency said in a release, adding, “Sounder commuter rail will offer special trains to select concerts as available, and additional ST Express trips will operate between Lakewood Station and Tacoma Dome Station.”
More details from Sound Transit:
▪ Sounder: On Nov. 3, concert-goers will be able to use any regularly scheduled afternoon southbound trains to get to Tacoma Dome Station.
A return-trip train will leave the station 30 minutes after the concert. It will stop in Puyallup, Sumner, Auburn, Kent, Tukwila and Seattle.
On Nov. 4, a train will leave Everett at 9:50 a.m. and stop in Mukilteo and Edmonds. Riders can transfer at King Street Station in Seattle to southbound trains departing at 11 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.
Return trains will leave Tacoma Dome Station 30 minutes after the show. People returning from the 2 p.m. concert can transfer to an Everett-bound train at King Street Station. There will be no northbound service after the 7:30 p.m. performance.
No special service is scheduled for Sunday.
▪ Tacoma Link: Trains will run until midnight Nov. 3-5. Starting at noon Nov. 5, trains will run every 12 minutes instead of the usual schedule of every 24 minutes.
▪ ST Express: Extra ST Express Route 594 trains will operate every 15 minutes from Lakewood Station to Tacoma Dome Station from about three hours before each concert to about 90 minutes before the shows.
Return trips to Lakewood will depend on demand.
As for the thousands driving to and from the shows, the Dome will give real-time traffic updates on the Waze app.
Those updates will be worth knowing, since a few traffic projects are happening in the area. That overview is available at http://bit.ly/2zIc7YH. Traffic from the vantage of a Dome-area traffic camera can be seen at http://bit.ly/2yOJUAb.
As for Tacoma police, plans are in place for security.
“We are preparing for the large crowd and we will be staffing in the usual way for a Dome event,” police spokeswoman Loretta Cool told The News Tribune via email. “Due to security we do not release specific numbers or assignment areas until after the events.”
Brooke Bova, public information officer with the Washington State Patrol, had some final words of caution to concert-goers who downed their share of “Garth Brooks beer” before hitting the highway:
“We don’t have an emphasis scheduled with extra patrols,” she said. “However, any time an event or concert occurs our troopers are extra vigilant to look for DUI and distracted drivers.”
Garth Brooks World Tour
Garth Brooks with Trisha Yearwood will appear at the Tacoma Dome:
▪ 7 p.m. Nov. 3
▪ 2 and 7:30 p.m. Nov. 4
▪ 2 and 7:30 p.m. Nov. 5
Details on security, traffic, a map of entry sites and when doors open for the shows are at tacomadome.org/garth-info