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By Bob Allen
When it comes to meeting the challenge, Ruth Eckerd Hall has been on the forefront in the Clearwater and Greater Tampa Bay area of western Florida following the impact of the pandemic. Along with serving the community as a Salvation Army food distribution location and a COVID-19 testing site, they also remained engaged in educational endeavors in the area, an effort that has been a hallmark of the venue’s mission for decades.
And, despite the challenges, they got back to the business of live entertaining as early as June 2020 with socially distanced concerts in an environment safe for attendees and in tandem with public health recommendations. By the end of last year, they had reported ticket sales from 31 performances during the pandemic era with attendance nearing 5,000. This year, headliners have seen ticket tallies surpass 2,000 again for a single show including, among others, rock veterans Styx and REO Speedwagon, who both topped that mark with summer sellouts.
Selling tickets has been the name of the game at Ruth Eckerd Hall since opening in 1983. Beginning with the first reported show the following year, box-office results from over 3,200 performances show grosses topping $217 million from 4.4 million sold seats.