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Fans Wait, 1 Million Call for O.C. Streisand Tickets

March 28, 1994|RICK VANDERKNYFF | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

ANAHEIM — Barbra Streisand fans turned out in force at ticket outlets and tied up phone lines Sunday morning as three concerts at the Anaheim Arena sold out in less than half an hour, and three added shows were sellouts by noon.

TicketMaster reported the biggest response since it began operating in Southern California in 1983, with an estimated 1 million calls logged for the Anaheim shows. Fred Rosen, president and CEO of Ticketmaster, said the fourth and fifth concerts had been planned, if demand warranted, but the sixth show was spur of the moment.

A source said the concerts on Streisand's five-city tour are expected to gross $2 million each, probably a record for pop music. The average sold-out arena concert grosses between $300,000 and $500,000, according to PollStar, a trade magazine that tracks the concert business.

Tickets to the Anaheim shows--May 25, 27, 29, 31, June 2 and 4--ranged from $350 down to $50, much higher than for most pop concerts but less than tickets to Streisand's comeback shows Dec. 31 and Jan. 1 in Las Vegas, where the top price was $1,000.

Crowds numbering into the hundreds were reported at Ticketmaster outlets across Southern California, while the Anaheim Arena box office drew an estimated 4,000. People started lining up well before dawn; the tickets went on sale at 9.

Martin Erlichman, Streisand's representative, said the singer was called at 9:20 and was "very excited" to learn that the first three concerts already had sold out. She gave her permission to proceed with the plans for two additional shows--only to be called back at 9:40 to be told those tickets also were gone. She was asked to do a sixth show and agreed.

Originally, 12 shows around the country had been announced. Tickets to all of them went on sale simultaneously. Nationally, Ticketmaster reported an estimated 5 million attempted calls in the first hour. In addition to the three new Anaheim shows, two shows were added in New York (for a total of five) and a second show was added in Michigan. About 250,000 tickets were sold in all (mostly through outlets, as opposed to over the phone). A spokesman for Streisand said no further concerts will be added.

The tour--which comes in the wake of the Vegas shows, Streisand's first public concerts in 22 years--will begin May 10 in Washington, and will continue in Auburn Hills, Mich., before coming to Anaheim. Then, it will move on to San Jose and will close at Madison Square Garden in New York.

Anaheim is the only venue to land six dates--a third of the new total. "I think it's a major coup for this building," said Alex Hodges, a vice president for Nederlander, the concert promoter. Nationally, according to a spokesman for Streisand, "more than 100 arenas tried to land these shows."

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"I didn't get to see Elvis, and I tried, so I have to see Barbra," said Fran Ellis of Costa Mesa, who said she had been in line since 4 a.m. "I've got (Streisand's) pictures all over my house. I've got a picture on my bathroom wall so when I put on my makeup I can see her in the mirror." Ellis ended up with tickets to the final show.

Dean Low of Monrovia became an instant celebrity when he was the first to get tickets at 9 a.m. Television cameras, photographers and reporters were on him as he walked away from the box office with six tickets to Streisand's first concert here. Low admitted that he's not much of a Babs fan himself--the tickets were to be a birthday present for his mother, although the surprise probably was shot by all the press attention.

Before tickets went on sale for the Anaheim show, the Ticketmaster limit was cut from six to four per person to give more fans a chance. At the Anaheim Arena box office, the limit was six until the last show was added, and then it was cut to two, after a vote by the more than 1,000 fans still waiting at that time.

Promoters held back some tickets to the final show, making them available only to those who had been standing in line at the box office. Kelly McCullough of Santa Ana was so far back in the line that she figured she had no chance at getting tickets, but she stuck around anyway and was rewarded for her patience.

Finally, as tickets for the final show were dwindling down, she got to the window and scored two. "I am the happiest person on the face of this planet. Now I have to figure out how to pay for this," said McCullough, who is unemployed.

A sense of relief seemed common among the last few ticket buyers. "I don't even care where I sit," said Danielle Austin of Orange as she walked away from the window. "I'll bring napkins in case my nose bleeds."

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