Willie Nelson concert sellout sets milestone for BCC

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By Laura Lewis, Reporter

From all early-morning appearances at Odell Williamson Auditorium, the quest to snag tickets for Willie Nelson’s first-ever known concert in Brunswick County wasn’t exactly an overnight, wait-your-turn-in-line campout.

But it was fierce and significant just the same.

When auditorium director Mike Sapp arrived at the venue two hours before ticket sales launched at 9 a.m. last Friday for Nelson’s Dec. 7 concert, he encountered just one waiting man seated in a lawn chair near the box office.

When Sapp checked again at 7:15 a.m., “there were four hardy souls who had now accompanied [the first man],” he said.

When the doors of the Brunswick Community College auditorium finally swung open, Sapp counted about 35 people in line. It wasn’t a hair-pulling Black Friday or iPhone 5 scenario, but it was civil.

“Then it was steady people coming in line, never completely ending until about 12 o’clock,” said Sapp, who handled telephone sales upstairs.

Box office manager/assistant OWA director Danielle Graves and assistant box office/event center manager Dave Deaver, meanwhile, greeted an eager, ticket-buying public downstairs.

Few were fazed by the $66-orchestra and $59-balcony prices to see Willie & Family perform in person. By Monday, Willie’s scheduled tour concert in the 1,500-seat auditorium was a sellout.

In just one long weekend, history had been made at the 19-year-old auditorium. It was the fastest ticket sellout there ever.

The last time OWA sold out was about six years ago for a Roy Clark concert, and Sapp said they didn’t deplete their ticket supply until the day of Clark’s concert.

He knew Willie Nelson was going to be big. Last week Sapp told the Beacon that Willie was the biggest big-deal concert OWA had ever booked.

“It was funny, because online sales were so brisk that you would click on a ticket, [then] look and see if anything was closer [to the stage],” Sapp said. “By the time you got back [to where you were], you were five rows back. We did two-thirds of our sales online.”

By the end of the day Friday, by the time the box office closed at 3 p.m., “it was all done,” he said.

Only about 20 individual tickets remained.

“We kind of let it sit there over the weekend and percolate,” Sapp said Monday. “By the time we got there this morning, three individual tickets [remained]. As far as I’m concerned, it was a sellout on Friday.”

Sapp said they’re still getting calls and people stopping by hoping he can still find them a Willie ticket or two. They’re surprised to learn he can’t.

“I’m not surprised that it’s sold out, but I’m surprised it sold as quickly as it did,” he said. “We found out they will come out and pay the ticket price for Willie Nelson.”

Sapp said OWA apologizes to people who left voicemail messages and didn’t get a ticket.

“We regret this,” he said. “With a show like this, with that high of a call volume, there was no possible way we could answer all of the telephone calls or return all of the calls that were given to us.”

Some callers haven’t been happy about that.

To sell out in one day is terrific, said Sapp, who didn’t get a ticket for Nelson’s concert, either.

“There’s no seat for me, but I’ll be here,” he said of behind-the-scenes duties he’ll be performing upon 79-year-old Nelson’s arrival in Brunswick County on the 71st anniversary of Pearl Harbor Day.

I told you it was a history-making event.


Laura Lewis is a staff writer at the Beacon. Reach her at 754-6890 or email llewis@brunswickbeacon.com.