On Tuesday, June 19, the Tracy City Council voted to move forward with a contract that would bring Nelson to the Grand Theatre Center for the Arts for a two-night September engagement to kick off season six at the downtown venue.
Jeffrey Haskett, the co-arts program manager at the theater, said Nelson is the biggest name who has been booked since the renovated Grand opened in September 2007.
“I think just about everyone is excited about such a big name coming here,” Haskett said.
Nelson’s agency still must approve the contract, Haskett said, but Haskett is confident an agreement will be finalized.
According to city documents, it will cost $108,500 to put Nelson on the theater’s main stage Sept. 11 and 12, though the price should be largely offset by $90,320 in anticipated ticket sales.
“That’s always the goal,” Haskett said. “We always try to break even or make money.”
City staff members reported that the cost of Nelson’s appearance was included in the city’s 2012-13 budget.
Nelson has had 25 recordings hit No. 1 in the U.S. Billboard country rankings, including “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain,” “Georgia on My Mind” and “On the Road Again.”
Haskett said attracting artists of Nelson’s caliber was part of theater staff’s effort to raise the Grand’s profile, both in Tracy and in neighboring communities.
“There’s still a large group of people who commute daily who don’t really pay attention to the downtown, don’t really know we exist,” he said. “It’s not just about the Grand, too — it’s about downtown. There’s a life down here.”
Nelson’s visit marks the second year in a row a well-known country singer has kicked off the theater season. Kelli Pickler played before a capacity crowd in 2011.
Merchants and residents downtown Thursday, June 21, said they were looking forward to the visit by the Country Music Hall of Fame inductee.
Guillermo Morelos, who works for his father, Ray, at El Castillo Café Mexican Restaurant, said the eatery had more business during Pickler’s show, and he expected a similar effect with Nelson.
“It can only be good for downtown,” Morelos said. “It would be great if they could bring more bigger names more often to the Grand.”
Eating lunch at The Great Plate Bar & Grill, across Central Avenue from the Grand, Rachel Avila thought it was appropriate Nelson would play on Sept. 11.
“It’s a big day for Americans, and having an American icon perform is awesome. I’m excited,” she said. “Pretty cool we get him for two shows.”
Great Plate general manager Mike Corbett agreed.
“I think it will be fantastic — the town will go crazy,” he said. “I think the show will sell out. I started hearing a buzz about it the last couple of days. This show puts us on the map.”
• Photo Editor Glenn Moore contributed to this report.