Last week, Lady Gaga canceled the remaining dates of the North American wing of her Born This Way Ball tour, which has been crisscrossing the globe since April. Her announcement came with the news that she will require surgery for a hip injury that's resulted in a condition known as synovitis, which she first revealed upon postponing dates in Chicago, Detroit, and Hamilton, Ontario. Naturally the decision to nix the massive production has led to a great deal of discussion.
Most recently, Examiner.com has claimed that it was concert promoter Live Nation that actually called for the tour's demise because the dates were underselling. They shakily cite the fact that the cancelation news was in fact credited to the events organizer instead of Mother Monster herself, and quote "two reputable" but unidentified sources who suggest that Gaga is exaggerating her medical condition in order to curry public sympathy and distract from the truth.
Said one anon: "It wasn't that ticket sales were disastrous, but they weren't good enough to justify the huge production cost. I truly believe Lady Gaga is making her 'injury' out to be a lot worse than it is. This is definitely a cover-up." While the other unidentified source added: "They lost a lot of money on this tour, especially in South America. North American ticket sales were fine, but not nearly as well as expected. They had to give away a lot of tickets."
While there's no way to substantiate claims of a "cover-up," it's true that the Ball has hit a few hiccups. A show in Nice, France was moved to a smaller venue due to low ticket sales, while discounts and mass giveaways were reported in Columbia, Brazil, and Chile, presumably in an effort to reach capacity. According to Billboard Boxscore, which keeps track of ticket sales worldwide, the Lady eventually sold out all but one show: Bogotá, Columbia.
MTV spoke to Venues Today editor Dave Brooks, who surmised that the cancelation is bad news for everyone involved: Gaga, the venues, her fans and, more to the point, Live Nation as well. "I would generally think when all is said and done you would lose a lot more money canceling the tour than playing dates that might not sell as well as you'd like," he said. "These are major markets she's playing, and the numbers I see are huge."
With all the monetary stats that are fit to print, Billboard's report on the financial damage done seems to support that statement. They explain that as a result of the ditching of these 22 dates, roughly "200,000 tickets worth approximately $25 million" in gross sales will have to be refunded. They add that the tour's current wing was "almost completely sold out" through the end, putting the Ball's value at about $200 million had it continued as planned.
"Live Nation will eat the majority of the cost on this," Brooks told MTV. "Big costs things like staging, building a production. It's like developing an airplane, they have a huge upfront cost... And you can't underestimate how much money they spent marketing this, online, commercials, radio, they can't make that up. They also have to refund the money, which means hiring people to refund ticket money. It's going to be costly for them."
So while it has been reported that Gaga's North American jaunt has also required giveaways to put the butts in the seats, and it's important to note that sorts of arenas that she's playing have the ability to adjust their capacities (as we learned with Passion Pit and Madison Square Garden) and, last but not least, we should mention that the Internet is getting bored with the Mother Monster, it still seems unlikely that someone other than her doctor called the Ball.