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Interview: Toby Keith encourages fans not to buy tickets to his Oklahoma Twister Relief Concert from scalpers

by Brandy McDonnell Published: July 5, 2013
Toby Keith (AP file)
Toby Keith (AP file)

Hometown country music superstar Toby Keith is encouraging fans not to buy tickets to his sold-out Oklahoma Twister Relief Concert from scalpers.

The concert, which begins at 3 p.m. Saturday at the University of Oklahoma’s Gaylord Family – Oklahoma Memorial Stadium in Norman, features Keith along with Owasso residents Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood, former Tulsan Ronnie Dunn, Keith’s daughter Krystal Keith, Moore native Kellie Coffey, Willie Nelson, Sammy Hagar, Mel Tillis and John Anderson.

Plus, Checotah native Carrie Underwood will give a special performance via satellite from Nashville.

More than 60,000 fans are expected to attend the sold-out event, according to promoter Howard Pollack.

Ford Trucks, Verizon Wireless, Academy of Country Music Lifting Lives, and Walmart are on board as sponsors. In addition to sponsoring the relief concert, Walmart and the Walmart Foundation have committed $1 million to Oklahoma tornado relief. Sponsorship donations and underwriting of the concert, and donated services from suppliers and vendors from all over the country will allow the net proceeds of tickets (after tax and credit card fees) to benefit the United Way of Central Oklahoma May Tornadoes Relief Fund to aid recovery efforts.

As previously reported, Keith, who was born in Clinton, grew up in Moore and now lives in Norman, started planning the show in the days after the deadly EF5 tornado that devastated Moore on May 20. The benefit sold out in about an hour when tickets initially went on sale June 21.

“Ticketmaster said they were just slammed like never before,” Keith told me in an interview last week. “The core of the tickets that they had were literally gone in 15 minutes. Then OU had some on hold … and they released some a few minutes later. The promoter said just the second we would feed them to the system, they would just disintegrate. Who knows. We could have sold the thing out several times (over) I’d say.”

Once production was finalized event organizers had additional tickets to release for purchase. Those seats went on sale June 28 and sold out within minutes.

Although they could have charged much more for the high-caliber lineup, Keith said they opted to keep the price at $25.

“You know this show’s worth more than 25 bucks. We only charged 25 bucks to allow people to be able to afford it,” he said. “We’re working for free for your 25 bucks to give a nice donation.”

Despite an eight-ticket purchase limit, it didn’t take long for scalpers to start wheeling and dealing on sites like eBay and Craigslist for up to 10 times face value, or $250. City officials in Norman also pointed out there is no prohibition on the sale of tickets outside the event on Saturday, according to the Associated Press.

“They get rich off of a disaster, so if I could get word out there to everybody, it’d be to don’t buy off of scalpers. Make ‘em eat ‘em,” Keith told me. “If people didn’t buy tickets off of scalpers, then they’d be out of business. In this case … there was probably some families of victims that wanted to come to the show that sat (online) there for three hours who tried to get tickets and now if they want to come, they’ve gotta pay that huge price from a scalper. And I think it’s pretty heartless … for somebody to take advantage of this. It feels like they’re looting.”

He also encouraged Norman residents who might charge for people to park in their yards like they do during OU game days to consider donating those funds to the tornado relief efforts. (See more information on parking and street closures for the show after the break.)

According to the AP, some major ticket brokers like San Francisco-based StubHub declined to enable listings for Saturday’s concert and instead provided a link where customers can donate to the relief fund.

“This has been our policy with all Oklahoma relief events,” Emma Leggat, StubHub’s head of corporate social responsibility, said in an email to the AP. “Beyond this, StubHub is currently moving toward a model whereby we will enable nonprofits to benefit directly from secondary ticket sales for charity events through donated fees.”

StubHub took a similar stance on Blake Shelton’s May 29 “Healing in the Heartland” benefit, according to The Oklahoman’s Matthew Price. “Healing in the Heartland,” which aired on NBC, raised more than $6 million for the United Way of Central Oklahoma May Tornadoes Relief Fund.

Debby Hampton, president and CEO of United Way of Central Oklahoma, told the AP it’s not clear how much Saturday’s concert will generate, but that money raised will help with immediate, intermediate and long-term needs of those affected by the storms. Hampton said she also said she was disappointed to learn that some people were looking to mark up the price of tickets and make a profit off the misfortunate of others.

“It is disheartening that somebody would think that way,” Hampton said. “I’m close to the disaster, and when you see the destruction and the lives that have to be rebuilt, to hear that someone would capitalize on that, it is tough to hear.”

To read more of my recent interview with Toby Keith, click here, and check back here on Saturday for even more with the superstar. See street closure and parking info after the break.

ROAD CLOSURES AND PARKING INFORMATION

This information is subject to change. For more, go to: http://www.soonersports.com/ot/ok_twister_relief_concert.html

Traffic Flow

These streets near the stadium are closed beginning four hours prior to the beginning of the concert:

(1) Lindsey St., which runs east and west along the southern edge of the stadium will close at Elm (west of the stadium) to just east of Jenkins Ave. Only those patrons with parking credentials for the Asp Avenue Parking Facility or the MP12 lot will be able to access Lindsey. They must approach from the west.

(2) Jenkins Ave. will be closed south of Page to all traffic except for those parking in the Field House Parking Lot and south to Farmers Street.

(3) Brooks will be closed from Jenkins to Trout to all traffic but those with a parking pass for the Brooks Lot, Monnett Lot, Duck Pond Lot or East Side Stadium Suites Lot. No traffic except emergency vehicles and authorized support vehicles will be allowed west of Monnett on Brooks or south of the entrance of parking lot A-10 on Jenkins (Field House Lot). The Norman Police Department will no longer permit parking on Brooks Street between Jenkins Ave. and Classen Blvd. on event days. This area will remain clear to help ease post event traffic congestion. Any vehicles parked in this location on event day will be towed.

Free Concert Parking
Free parking is available at all university lots excluding the Asp Avenue Parking Facility and the Suite Lot located directly East of the stadium.

Disability Parking
For more information on physical disability parking, please call the parking office at (405) 325-3311.

City Streets Parking
The City of Norman will be enforcing parking restrictions during the concert. The primary area of enforcement will be No Parking areas that are not exempted on normal stadium event days. Please take the time to read the signs before parking on a city street.

RV Parking
Non-electric spots in the northwest parking lot of the Lloyd Noble Center will be available. The Lloyd Noble Center is located approximately one mile south of the Gaylord Family Gaylord Family – Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. For prices and registration information, please go online or call (405) 325-4666.

-BAM

by Brandy McDonnell
Entertainment Reporter
Brandy McDonnell, also known by her initials BAM, writes stories and reviews on movies, music, the arts and other aspects of entertainment. She is NewsOK’s top blogger: Her 4-year-old entertainment news blog, BAM’s Blog, has notched more than 1...
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