MONSTER YEAR: OCESA-operated Foro Sol hosted Taylor Swift’s first-ever concerts in Mexico City. Her five sold-out “The Eras Tours” concerts propelled the venue to the top of Pollstar’s Year End Top 100 Stadium Tickets with more than 2.2 million sold. (Getty Images)
Some Downtime For Foro Sol After Busy 2023
A consistent force in the live entertainment business, Foro Sol, a 65,000-capacity stadium in Mexico City operated by big-time promoter OCESA, posted record numbers in 2023, selling a whopping 2,204,505 tickets. The venue ranked No. 1 in ticket sales on Pollstar’s Year End Worldwide Top 100 Stadium Tickets and No. 2 on the Top 100 Stadium Grosses chart, raking in $170,179,120.
Guillermo Parra Riveros, OCESA’s Director of International Events, talked to VenuesNow about the stadium’s success last year and dropped major news: the popular venue will go through a “massive” renovation.
VenuesNow: Foro Sol regularly tops the charts and 2023 was yet another big year. What can you tell me about the past 12 months and how you feel going into 2024?
Guillermo Parra Riveros: It was an incredible year because interesting things were happening in Mexico. Mexican acts that didn’t previously do stadiums are now doing them for the first time. So, the year-end number we had at Foro Sol is due to local acts like Molotov or Siddhartha, two acts who had never played here, performing at Foro Sol.
It’s also the reggaeton movement. Fans’ openness to the genre as well as regional Mexican wasn’t there before when it came to concerts at Foro Sol. We had great showings for Grupo Firme, Rels B and Feid on top of notable international acts like Taylor Swift, Depeche Mode, Paul McCartney and Lana Del Rey.
Also, Mexican fans are buying tickets because they are desperate to see live shows.
Is the current success and growth of the live industry a direct result of the coronavirus pandemic, or are we starting to see a new normal?
What we thought about 2023 being the big return post-COVID with people wanting to go out and be with the crowd only to return to normal the following year is incorrect. People were desperate to get out in 2023, but they also realized that the concert experience is unique, and the sensation and joy that you get from a live show can’t be found elsewhere. This is our new normal, and 2024 is looking very good.
We’re going to have a lot of arena shows, and we’re probably going to break the record for the number of arena shows this year.
What arenas does OCESA operate in Mexico City?
The main one is Palacio De Los Deportes, where we will have five Madonna shows, four from blink-182 and one from Keane. There are many interesting acts performing at the venue.
What is it that makes Foro Sol so appealing for artists?
It’s a structure that is very easy when it comes to production with great installations because we use the entire property. We take advantage of the space, especially during Formula 1 events. Foro Sol is a stadium that was specifically built for concerts, so it facilitates just about everything.
With a good venue and fans clamoring for live events, they are able to fill up the enclosure, which is great for the artist, to be able to stand on stage and see 65,000 people. It’s one of the biggest concert stadiums in the world.
Knowing the geography, I imagine accessibility is also a big reason the venue is popular among artists and fans.
Two of the main highways cross at Foro Sol, and the subway stations are nearby. It’s very easy for fans to get here.
Actually, I want to share some big news about the venue. Foro Sol will close in February and will reopen its doors in September because there will be a major renovation. Because of the size and the number of shows it hosts, it deserves to be the stadium it can be, and fans deserve the best venue. OCESA will close the stadium for a massive renovation that will update the bathrooms, suites and food and beverage stands.
We are going to improve every aspect of the stadium, which officially opened in 1998 with David Bowie. The first concerts were actually Madonna and Paul McCartney, but at the time, it was only a seasonal venue. It officially opened as a permanent stadium in 1998, so it’s been many years, and it’s in need of a facelift.
Has the venue ever gone through any renovation before?
We do a lot of maintenance, and it is always in good condition. Any manager, artist or agent who visits Foro Sol says that it is a great venue, and that’s because we maintain it very well, but it has never had a facelift.
What was your highlight from last year?
Five shows from Taylor Swift, who played in Mexico City for the first time. To see the faces on fans was a dream, and working with her team was also a dream.
I must also say the three nights of Depeche Mode were incredible. They broke records, and to see those artists happy to see their large fanbase was exciting. And, of course, it was a delight to have Paul McCartney.
Why do you feel more international artists are making their way to Mexico City?
First, it’s because of the great fans. I am biased because I’m Mexican, but we have some of the best fans in the world. Second, it’s an easy commute from the U.S. to Mexico. And third is our economy. It’s in good shape at the moment, and the public is paying for tickets.
How important have local venues been to the international growth of Mexican music?
There are all kinds of venues with different capacities in the city to serve all kinds of artists. The Teatro Metropolitano has a capacity of 3,000 people. It’s a theater built in the early 1900s and very beautiful. It is actually a national landmark,
You then have the 7,000-cap Pepsi Center, and the 10,000-cap Auditorio Nacional, which is one of the most important venues in the world. It has ranked among the top venues on Pollstar’s charts for years. Then you have the Palacio De Los Deportes, which accommodates between 15,000-21,000 fans. And then there’s Foro Sol.
Also, Ticketmaster has updated its system here in Mexico, so we have modern ticketing. Fans can now access tickets on their phones and transfer purchases like people can in the U.S. That really helps a lot.