Garth Brooks fans got new hope over the weekend that his five canceled concerts in Dublin, Ireland, might go on as scheduled this month. After a top Irish government official stepped in to help broker a deal, Ticketmaster has in turn postponed plans to start refunding money to the 400,000 ticket holders.
Alan Kelly, Ireland's environment minister and deputy leader of the country's Labor Party, joined negotiations between the concerts' promoter and Dublin city officials who had denied permits for two of the five concerts, which had been scheduled for July 25-29. The permit denial prompted Brooks to say he'd only play all five concerts or none at the 83,000-capacity Croke Parke Stadium.
"I would be optimistic that the common good and common sense will prevail as the distance between all parties is not insurmountable," Kelly told the Irish Times.
Some residents around the stadium had raised objections to the five concerts and cited an agreement between the athletic association that operates the stadium and the city limiting special events other than sporting matches to three per year.
But as the situation unfolded, the Irish Independent reported a criminal investigation into the suspected forging of 35 percent to 40 percent of the 380 complaints about the concerts that were presented to the city council. Those complaints were cited as a crucial factor in the council's decision to deny two of the permits for the concerts.
Dozens of fans from around Ireland protested in Dublin over the weekend chanting "Let's go, five in a row."
Ticketmaster issued a statement saying it would hold off refunding money for tickets to the sold-out shows while the negotiations proceeded.
"We would ask fans to continue to be patient and hold onto their tickets for now," the statement says.
Brooks held a news conference in Nashville last week to announce a new recording contract with Sony Music and to confirm that he will undertake a world tour to start soon. He reiterated that he wouldn't play the Dublin concerts unless he could do all five without compromising the presentation he'd planned.
Irish officials floated a compromise idea that he play matinee shows for two of the concerts and fit all five into three days, but Brooks rejected the idea, saying it would shortchange fans at daytime concerts because his "Garth Brooks Comeback Special" show is designed to be seen at night.
Brooks chose Croke Park as the site for his return to touring because of a promise he made to Irish fans to return when he played there in 1997 before the Croke Park Stadium was completed.