The question would have seemed absurd a week ago: Why is Elton John not playing Sault Ste. Marie?
But now that the rocket man is touching down in the Nickel City, it's a credible query. And one that Trevor Zachary has had to answer countless times this week.
Simply put, the Steelback Centre's marketing and events manager doesn't know. "Why isn't he in Toronto, why isn't he at ScotiaBank Place? He picked two dates in Ontario," Zachary said.
The City of Greater Sudbury announced Monday the 60-year-old British superstar will play Sudbury Arena March 2. In Toronto March 1 to play a private charity fundraising event, he will also play Kitchener March 3. He then heads to New Hampshire March 6 before returning to his regular gig in Las Vegas March 19.
What is sure is that he will definitely not add any other Canadian dates to his schedule,said Riley O'Connor, chair of promoter Live Nation Canada.
The artist formerly known as Reginald Dwight rarely tours extensively, preferring to play just a handful of shows, and in smaller venues he hasn't played before.
"I've worked with Elton John for the last 25 years, and his touring window, wherever the region he decides to play, is always small," said O'Connor from Toronto.
Zachary said many more factors than people realize goes on behind the scenes in snagging an act. Sometimes it just comes down to who you know. Last September, John performed in the tiny Swiss village where Shania Twain lives, and some have speculated Timmins-born Twain put a bug in his ear about her former home of Sudbury.
"When it comes down to it, it comes down to the tour, it comes down to Elton John's people and Elton John himself."
With a brand new arena here and an enthusiastic response to many shows in over the last year, the city has formed a good relationship with Live Nation, Zachary said. "It's all about trust now. They believe we can put on these shows here in the Sault, so that's why we're getting all these acts."
Unfortunately, those shows could temporarily dry up in the near future. Zachary had to turn down offers from three big-name acts that will be touring later this year because of potential construction of more luxury suites at the Steelback: Kid Rock, Lenny Kravitz and a reunited Backstreet Boys.
Construction could close up the arena for three or four months.
But having additional seating will pay off in the end, he said. He added that if construction goes ahead, the city may also also add some rigging in the ceiling, which would accommodate even bigger shows.
"We're showing them we're bringing improvements to our facility and adding capacity."
Saultites can still see Sir Elton's Sudbury show, of course — but they'll have to be quick about it. Tickets for the show go on sale today at 10 a.m. The city is discouraging people from lining up outside the Sudbury Arena, as the show's expected to sell out extremely quickly online. Go to www.tickets.com/ca and click on "Sudbury Arena" on the right side of the screen. Tickets can be purchased using Visa or American Express. Prices including fees and taxes are $98 and $140.
And if you don't score tickets this time out, O'Connor expressed hope he will come to the Sault "within three or four years. When the new John Labatt Centre opened up in London, that's what I told them: I will get you Elton John in three or four years, and I did."