Date: June 22, 2005

The CMA Music Festival, Nashville, June 9-12, set a record this year, drawing 145,355 people and, by all indications, the 2006 event will be just as successful. Don MacLachlan, executive vice president of administration and facilities for the Titans at The Coliseum, said CMA opened the upper level of his venue for the first time in four years to accommodate the demand for single tickets. “We have been the home for the CMA nightly concerts for the past five years,” MacLachlan said. “We had a great crowd in spite of the weather. We had four tremendous nights of entertainment.”

Tropical Storm Arlene brought in persistent rains Saturday and the first part of Sunday, but fans persisted as well. “It is a first-class event and we want to make sure attendees feel they are being treated that way,” MacLachlan said. “There are many people here from all over. And there are local people that have never been in the stadium. We want to make sure they are enjoying themselves.”Attendance has grown from 124,000 in 2003, to 132,000 in 2004, to more than 145,000 in 2005.

There were 35 acts participating in the Nightly Concerts at The Coliseum over the four days with continuous shows on the dual stages. All available four-day ticket packages sold out this year, representing a 16 percent increase over 2004. On Saturday, June 11, 2006 tickets went on sale. The four-daytickets started selling swiftly topping 2005's first-day sales by 44 percent. Due to the increased demand, CMA is reallocating Coliseum seating to provide for more four-day ticket passes in 2006. CMA Executive Director Ed Benson said after the event was over the association was able to put a few additional four-days on sale, and as soon as these were made available, they were gone. “We certainly could have sold more,” he said. Single concert tickets at the Greased Lightning Daytime Stages at Riverfront Park and the Nightly Concerts at The Coliseum were up 38 percent.

Kicking off the event on Thursday, June 9, were highlights such as Dolly Parton with The Grascals and “American Idol” winner Carrie Underwood performing with Phil Vassar. Other performers over the four days included Dierks Bentley, Julie Roberts, Sugarland, Trick Pony, Keith Urban, Lee Ann Womack, Sara Evans, Josh Gracin, Craig Morgan, Rascal Flatts, SHeDAISY, Blake Shelton, Travis Tritt, Alan Jackson, Trace Adkins, Miranda Lambert, Jo Dee Messina, Joe Nichols, Wynonna, Trisha Yearwood, KennyRogers, Jeff Bates, Big & Rich, Cowboy Troy, Chris Cagle, Diamond Rio, Andy Griggs, Sawyer Brown and Gretchen Wilson. Pre-show activities at The Coliseum included Jamie O'Neal, Cowboy Crush, the United States Marine Corps Recruiting Station Nashville Color Guard, Kyle Petty and NBC Daytime Stars. New this year was a CMA Music Festival Kick Off Parade through the streets of Nashvillewith stars such as Montgomery Gentry riding atop classic and contemporary Chevyvehicles.

Benson presided as the parade's honorary Grand Marshal. Brian Ivey, director of sales and marketing, Nashville Convention Center, said there were 17 percent more people through the turnstiles at the convention center this year than there were last year for the Wrangler Fan Fair. “It was a very good year for us,”Ivey said. “The CMA Festival uses our entire facility. The booths are set up in the exhibit area and the meeting rooms are used for radio.”There were a total of 373 acts and celebrities at the Wrangler Fan Fair for autographand photo sessions. Exhibit booths sold out with 117 exhibitors and attendance over the four-days was 43,567, up from 37,000 in 2004. Several people camped out overnight on the sidewalk outside the Convention Center to be first in line. Causing excitement in the Convention Center were Trace Adkins, Blue Country, JayBush and his dog Duke, Rodney Carrington, “Nashville Star” winner Erika Jo, Buddy Jewell, Miranda Lambert, Jo Dee Messina, Oak Ridge Boys, Sawyer Brown, BlakeShelton, Aaron Tippin, Bryan White and Darryl Worley.

According to Tower Records, which sold CDs at the Wrangler Fan Fair and other event locations, the Top 10 selling artists for CMA Music Festival were, in order: Keith Urban, Dierks Bentley, Big & Rich, Trace Adkins, Sugarland, Miranda Lambert, Cowboy Troy,Van Zant, Buddy Jewell, and Gretchen Wilson. Ivey said there were between 35,000 and 40,000 hotel rooms used each night of the Music Festival. And 14 Downtown Nashville clubs participated in CMA Music Festival After Hours. Each received official Music Festival T-shirts with a “Why Sleep?” motto.

The 2006 CMA Music Festival will take place June 8-11. Four-day ticket packages allow access to all festival events. The Gold Circle four-day packages for 2006 are already sold out. The Floor Level tickets (Field) are $155 for adults, and $110 for 14 years andyounger. The Lower Level tickets (100 Level) are $135 for adults and $95 for 14 years and younger. The Club Level (200 Level) are $125 for adults and $86 for 14 years and younger. Children three years and younger are admitted free. 

Interviewed for this story: Brian Ivey, (615) 742-2000; Don MacLachlan, (615) 565 -4003; Ed Benson, (615) 244-2840