GET IN THE ZONE: AutoZone Park, home to the Memphis Redbirds, is part of a new concert series booking minor league ballparks. (Getty Images)

‘Music On The Diamond’ starts with Miranda Lambert in Altoona, PA

The newly announced Music On The Diamond concert series will bring country music stars Thomas Rhett and Miranda Lambert to a handful of minor league baseball stadiums this summer and fall, with Diamond Baseball Holdings CEO Peter Freund promising more to come.

“We plan to expand to more artists, more dates and more ballparks over the coming months and years,” Freund said via email. “Eventually we’d like to bring the concert series to as many clubs across the DBH roster as possible, and feature a variety of the most popular artists and music genres.”

The series kicks off with Lambert playing Peoples Natural Gas Field, home of the Altoona Curve, Class AA affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates, June 7. The other Lambert dates are June 29 at Momentum Bank Ballpark in Midland, Texas, July 26 at Trustmark Park in Pearl, Mississippi, Sept. 28 at AutoZone Park in Memphis Tennessee, while Thomas Rhett plays Chukchansi Park in Fresno, California, Oct. 20.

The series is spearheaded by Diamond Baseball Holdings, which formed in 2021 by media conglomerate Endeavor and with funding from Silver Lake Partners. DBH has gone from an initial nine teams to now owning and operating more than 30 minor league baseball teams affiliated with Major League Baseball, including the Fresno Grizzlies, San Jose Giants, Midland Rockhounds, Albuquerque Isotopes, Iowa Cubs, Worcester Red Sox and Norfolk Tides.

It’s not the first concert tour to focus on minor league parks. In 2004 and 2009, Willie Nelson and Bob Dylan, himself a big baseball fan, joined forces to perform two-month runs at multiple MiLB venues. Jam Productions was the promoter. In 2009 alone, the Nelson/Dylan pairing drew more than 200,000 people to minor league parks stretching from Pennsylvania to California, producing gross ticket sales of $12.7 million, according to Pollstar box office data.

Freund, previous owner of the Memphis Redbirds, says music was always part of the plan for Diamond Baseball Holdings.

“We’ve had this vision for a nationwide concert series touring our clubs almost since we formed DBH in 2021,” Freund said, adding that the goal is to activate the ballparks as often as possible to bring more business to stadiums and surrounding businesses.

He says DBH executives have experience in concerts, but for this series has partnered with talent agency WME, which represents both Lambert and Rhett, and Doussan Music Group, a Louisiana-based promoter and concert producer established in 2021 by industry veteran Russell Doussan. Those entities will handle talent booking, promotions and production.

“We’re excited to continue that partnership as we grow the Music on the Diamond concept,” Freund added.

TACO TUESDAY: Chukchansi Park in Fresno, California, gets a Thomas Rhett show in October. Getty Images)

The initial dates and venues selected for the concert series were booked much like any other gigs, based on availability and demand, Freund says.

“For these first few shows, it really came down to balancing existing game and other event schedules with artist availability, and leaning on our GM’s and front office staff to gauge community interest,” Freund said.

Altoona, Pennsylvania, is one example.

“We knew from our GM that there was incredible interest from the community to see a concert of this caliber come to PNG Field,” he said. “After a week, demand has been overwhelming.”

In the case of the Fresno Grizzlies, the single-A affiliate of the Colorado Rockies, the downtown Chukchansi Park typically hosts around 10 ticketed concerts per year, with some taking place in the stadium’s plaza area rather than on the field. Lynyrd Skynyrd reported 6,000 tickets sold in 2022 while Mexican band Grupo Firme sold 16,558 tickets in 2021. The stadium also hosts an annual Taco Truck Throwdown that can attract into the 10,000-15,000 people range.

“To land a big name like Thomas Rhett after not having a country act in a couple years is special,” said Derek Franks, president of the Fresno Grizzlies. The team produces two special events in-house, including Tequila Fest taking place May 17 featuring Busta Rhymes and T-Pain, and the Taco Truck Throwdown food festival, which is in its 13th year.  “We’ve gotten off to a great start on the presale and expect tomorrow’s onsale to go really well. There’s been a lot of excitement.”

Franks says being part of the DBH network has made it clear that there is strength in numbers.

“We’ve got several great local promoters that help us fill the calendar every year, but the last few years we felt we may have maxed out the opportunities we were able to source ourselves,” said Franks, who has been with the Grizzlies for about 15 years and been through multiple ownership changes. “To be a part of this larger network of teams that Diamond Baseball owns and to have their industry connections to put this show together is awesome. We most likely would not have had a chance to work with this group and book Thomas Rhett (on our own).”

The other dates have already gone to public onsale.

As for the rapid expansion of DBH itself, Freund says to expect more there as well.

“We’re continuing our active acquisition strategy, executing on our plan to optimize operations and apply best practices across clubs,” he said. “We remain focused on key markets, historic brands, modernized facilities and local, regional and national partnerships within each community our clubs call home. Creating the best and most consistent fan experiences in MiLB, with deep local connectivity within each community, is still our number one priority.”