In a surprise turn that has left at least 400,000 concert ticket-holders in Ireland disappointed, the promoter of country superstar Garth Brooks' five sold-out shows in Dublin announced Tuesday that the concerts have been canceled after the city's council denied to approve permits for two of the shows.
Brooks was scheduled to play July 25-29 at Dublin's 83,000-capacity Croke Park Stadium. They were to be the singer and songwriter's first large-scale public performances since announcing in December that he planned to resume touring in 2014.
"They have been canceled, but the public isn't giving up," a spokeswoman for Brooks confirmed Tuesday in the wake of the the promoter's earlier announcement that negotiations had broken down.
"It is with great regret that Aiken Promotions today announce that the five concert Garth Brooks Comeback Special Event at Croke Park has been cancelled. No concerts will take place," the promoter said in a statement. "The ticket return process will be outlined tomorrow. Aiken Promotions have exhausted all avenues regarding the staging of this event. We are very disappointed for the 400,000 fans who purchased tickets for the Garth Brooks Comeback Special Event."
Brooks chose Dublin for his planned "Comeback Special Event" to fulfill an old promise to Irish fans that one day he would return to play again in Croke Parke Stadium.
"I was quoted then as saying, 'When this stadium is finished, I would love to come back and try to fill it again... this time to the brink,'" Brooks said in a statement in January to announce his return to the country, "and we're back to do just that."
Brooks walked away from touring in 2001, at a time when he was one of the most popular musicians in the world, to focus on raising his three daughters, stating that he would remain a full-time father until they were ready for college.
During the next 13 years he appeared for one-off benefit performances, and in 2009 reached a deal with Las Vegas billionaire Steve Wynn to play solo acoustic shows several weekends each year at Wynn's 1,500-seat Encore Theatre, as long as those shows were scheduled around his children's school and extracurricular activities.
Last week a message posted on Brooks' official website said "the wait is over…7/7," and on Monday, that message was replaced with one announcing the live streaming of a press conference Brooks will hold on Thursday in Nashville.
Brooks' spokeswoman said he plans to address the situation of the Ireland concerts at that press event.
The snag in plans for his Dublin shows surfaced recently, well after 400,000 tickets were sold. After two shows went on sale in January, three more were added, and all quickly sold out. Promoter Peter Aiken told The Times recently that Brooks could have sold out more. "I don't know where it could have stopped," he said.
The hitch arose when the Dublin City Council, under pressure from some residents and business owners near Croke Park Stadium, objected to five concerts, citing a policy limiting special events at the venue to no more than three annually.
After the issue came up, Brooks responded that he would prefer to do all five shows, or none. The City Council met again Monday night to review the situation, but the city manager upheld the decision to withhold permits for two of the shows.
The Irish Independent newspaper quoted officials at other venues in Ireland saying they would be able to accommodate some or all of Brooks' shows, but Aiken said it was too late in the game to shift venues with a production as large as the one Brooks planned to bring to Croke Park.
A spokeswoman for the Dublin Chamber of Commerce said the cost to the city of canceling the concerts would be 50 million euros, or about $68 million.