Like a Virgin
I have a confession to make ... I've actually seen Madonna live.
I saw her on the "Blond Ambition Tour" sometime in the early 90's at the Capital Center in Landover, Maryland. I was acquainted with one of her backup performers at the time, and they assured me that it was the best arena show I would ever see. I must admit that I was skeptical, but I went, I saw, and I really enjoyed the gig. The choreography was entertaining, she interacted with the crowd, and unlike most of today's pop artists ... she sang live into a headset microphone. Just like Milli Vanillli.
Due to some very weird coincidences and circumstances going down in the late 80's/early 90's, I was also present to see Janet Jackson, M.C. Hammer, and even the greatest ringtone artist of our time ... Vanilla Ice live in concert.
Remember kids, just say no to drugs.
Had cellphones been ubiquitous in 1990, Vanilla would have become wealthy beyond belief as every suburban kid on the planet would have set their cellphones to play "Ice Ice Baby" every time they received a call. Instead, he was about 20 years too early, and now that Justin Bieber faux-black fruity pebble is getting all the juice. Sometimes, life's just not fair.
Anyway, on a personal level, I couldn't stand Madonna. Her fake accents, shameless self-promotion, and other pretentious bullshit was hard to stomach ... yet there was no denying that she was a born entertainer. To an audience, this should be all that matters.
Frankly, I never really cared whether or not Michael Jackson got a nose job or had an unnatural inter-species relationship with Bubbles The Chimp. I didn't care that Prince was a Jehovah's Witness who kept changing his name back and forth from words to silly symbols. Most talented people are eccentric. If they were normal, it's unlikely they could do what they do. The only thing that matters to me is whether or not fans get their money's worth when they purchase a concert ticket or a CD.
Well, I've seen Michael, I've seen Prince, and I've seen Madonna ... and in my opinion, they all delivered. These were the biggest pop stars of my generation, and as such, they are of prime age for their end-of-career Vegas residency. It's the natural progression of the American mega-star.
Prince had his brief run in Vegas, Michael never got the opportunity, but Madonna, well, it looks like she will.
Rumor has it that Madonna may soon be taking up residence in Las Vegas for a 5 year run which will reportedly pay her $1 Billion. That's billion with a "B".
While I think this will be a great thing for both Madonna and Las Vegas, I find the amount to be very aggressive. Especially given the current state of the economy.
One Billion dollars equals $200 million per year, or $547,945.21 per day. Assuming that Madonna will perform a schedule similar to that of Celine Dion (200 shows per year), this amount equates to $1 Million per performance. Assuming it's a 4,300 seat showroom such as the Caesars Colosseum (there is no word on which Venue is trying to lure her), each ticket would have to cost roughly $230 for the production to break-even.
Overall, I suppose this is possible, but it's double the price commanded by recent superstars such as Prince and Garth Brooks.
Of course, like most Vegas shows, I'm sure the intent will not be for the show itself to be profitable. Instead, the expectation will be that people will pay $125 to see the show, then lose $200-$300 (a typical Vegas bankroll) while gambling afterward. If they don't gamble, then I suppose the remainder could be made up with dining, drinks, or room rentals. The Bellagio Fountains, Mirage Volcano, and Sirens Show have been a loss leader forever for this very reason ... but I don't believe that any of those cost $200 mil per year to operate.
To whichever property decides to pony up this amount, I wish them luck. They've got balls for making such an investment in Vegas at this point in time, but sometimes, having balls works out. Just ask Janet Reno.
Anyway, I'm very confident that this show would be a big draw, and if the price is right (in the neighborhood of $100/ticket), I'll see it myself.
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