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DUCKS ON A POND: Has the Pond...

DUCKS ON A POND: Has the Pond of Anaheim replaced the Forum as the premier concert arena in the Los Angeles-Orange County area?

The question was raised last summer when Barbra Streisand surprised the local pop world by choosing the Pond over the Forum, which for years has been the most prestigious arena setting for pop and rock shows.

Now R.E.M. fans have apparently cast their ballots.

In the first case where tickets for an act went on sale simultaneously for the two arenas, the results were startling:

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The Pond, which holds about 17,000 people for concerts, sold out its advertised May 12 R.E.M. date in 45 minutes and immediately added a second date for May 13, which has since sold all but 2,000 of its seats. Through Wednesday, however, the 17,000-seat Forum was still 2,000 tickets short of selling out its lone May 9 date. (The outdoor Glen Helen Blockbuster Pavilion in Devore is finishing a distant third in the R.E.M. ticket sweepstakes. Through Wednesday, only about 9,000 tickets were sold for the amphitheater, which has about that many fixed seats and a lawn area that can hold another 50,000.)

"(The Pond) sold 2 to 1 over the Forum,” says Ken Scher, head of booking for the Nederlander Organization, which promotes concerts both at the Pond and the Forum. “The fans voted and the preference is the Pond when they have a choice.”

Claire Rothman, general manager of the Forum, concedes that the numbers favor the Pond this round, but says it would be wrong to see it as a trend.

“It’s the romance of the Pond still being new to a lot of people,” she says. “And the fact that their shows are on a weekend while ours is a Tuesday also gave them a boost.”

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