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The Weeknd's scheduled performance at Climate Pledge Arena, other venues is 'huge'

The Weeknd announced that he will play the still-under-construction Climate Pledge Arena on March 4, 2022.

SEATTLE — The Weeknd is headlining the Super Bowl halftime show, and perhaps giving his own vote of confidence at the same time, to a return of live music in cities like Seattle. 

"It's a huge announcement, I think, not just for us, but the entire industry," said Nick Vaerewyck, vice president of programming for Climate Pledge Arena, in an interview with KING 5.  

The Weeknd announced that he will play the still-under-construction Climate Pledge Arena on March 4, 2022, and the Tacoma Dome a couple of months later. 

It was the first significant announcement about a new concert tour since the pandemic brought the concert industry to a standstill last year.

"Our industry has been hit probably as hard as any in this whole pandemic situation," acknowledged Live Nation Regional Vice President Jeff Trisler, whose company is an equity partner in Climate Pledge Arena. 

By Trisler's count, roughly 200 acts were canceled in 2020, among Live Nation run properties like the Gorge, and White River Amphitheatre. 

It has allowed concert promoters, and venues to reassess safety protocols, in the event local health officials start to allow larger gatherings. 

Vaerewyck said that his team learned a lot from how the National Hockey League carried on in the midst of the pandemic.  

"We've had staff that's been inside the NHL bubble when that was going on over the summer," Vaerewyck said. "So there's a lot of best practices and experiences that they can take and apply to people when they do come to Climate Pledge Arena."

Credit: Associated Press
The Weeknd performs during the halftime show of the NFL Super Bowl 55 football game between the Kansas City Chiefs and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Sunday, Feb. 7, 2021, in Tampa, Fla.

There is significant money riding on it too. The nearly $1 billion-project was built with concerts in mind, as opposed to the former Seattle Center Coliseum and KeyArena that previously sat on the site.  

"Essentially everything underneath the roof is going to be brand new and we took every account into not only the fan experience but the production experience and including the sound experience," Vaerewyck said. 

That includes installation of lapendary baffles, or panels to cut down on the audio issues which were a problem in the old Key.  

"They're there to cut down on the reverb, the echoing, the bouncing of this sound, there to make the sound experience much better for the guests when they do come to the building. It's going to sound great in here," he said.

The Weeknd, Abel Makkonen Tesfaye, likely won't be the first act to play the new arena. Vaerewyck said other acts will be open soon, and left open the door for a potential concert kickoff later this year.

Trisler told KING 5 he believes there is pent up demand.  

"We are anticipating that much like the 'Roaring Twenties' of 100 years ago, following a major pandemic, that people are just chomping at the bit and waiting to go and waiting till they're allowed to go until it's safe to go," Trisler said." We're going to see the floodgates open up and people are going to come pouring back into our venues like never before."

Trisler suggested that it's likely outdoor venues, like the Gorge, could host the first live events.

"The Gorge is uniquely positioned in social distancing, not a problem around the middle of the state. It's totally open in the outdoors, there's only a couple places where there's a roof, the catering tent backstage in the dressing rooms. With the fan experience is completely outdoors," Trisler said. "We think the Gorge is going to be one of the first venues back in operation probably before others."

To that point, Trisler said John Legend is scheduled to play Woodinville's Chateau St. Michelle for two sold out nights in September, when concert-goers hopefully can raise a glass to toast the end of an era no one will soon forget.

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