We’ve Got the Big Show — Now, to Fill the Seats

It took 19 years to get the Junos back to Edmonton — now comes the final push for ticket sales

Here’s the award-winning question: Will Rogers Place be full for Monday’s broadcast event of the Juno Awards?

“I hope so,” said Renée Williams, co-chair of the committee that brought the Canadian music awards back to Edmonton for the first time in 19 years. “Last time I checked, it was moving in that direction. I hope to see it go that way.”

On Thursday the city kicked off Juno Week, which will see more than 50 acts play at venues across the city as we move towards Monday’s CBC broadcast of the awards ceremony from Rogers Place. But, as the Junos were celebrated at City Hall, the messages were repeated over and over: Tickets are still available. There’s still time to buy tickets. Don’t miss out.

And, a search of the Ticketmaster website shows quite a bit of blue (the colour of unsold seats) for Monday’s awards.

Still, the mood was buoyant at the launch event.

“When we attract these high-profile events, it creates so many benefits for us as Edmontonians and for local business,” said Traci Bednard, CEO of Explore Edmonton. “It shines a spotlight on Edmonton and shows the rest of Canada all about us and everything we have to offer. And, of course, it elevates the profile of our arts and music community, and lets us really show off what we have.”

Mayor Amarjeet Sohi said that the event is “encouraging Edmontonians to be having fun… and filling Rogers Place.” (Another not-so-subtle push for ticket sales. Well done, Mr. Mayor.)

Getting the Junos back to Edmonton required a lot of heavy lifting from a volunteer committee, and the week’s worth of festivities will give a much-needed boost to local concert venues. They’re still wrestling with the new normal of COVID, and, in many of ways, the public needs to be re-energized to see live music again.

Ticketmaster seat map for the Junos, as of Thursday evening

“We’ve actually been at this for six years to try and bring the Junos back,” said Allan Reid, the president of the Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. “We were trying to get it here, but the ICE District wasn’t quite finished yet. It has absolutely been worth the wait.”

One thing that was said to me a couple of times before the launch event at City Hall began was that many in the general public don’t know just how accessible the Junos are — that it might be seen as mainly an invite-only event for those in the music industry.

Williams said it was a perception the committee has worked hard to let the Edmonton public know that they are all welcome to the party. That was why the Road to the Junos concert series was created as a lead-in to the event. These concerts were not only designed to expose artists to Edmontonians, but to hype the fact the Junos were coming to town.

“One of the things we set out to do as the host committee, with the Road to the Junos concert series, was to make music accessible,” said Williams. “And, so, when we had all those shows, we also wanted to say ‘Hey, by the way, while you’re here, don’t forget to check out the Junos.’ We really want to make sure the public can feel like they can participate, get excited and celebrate the nominees.”

We can only hope the national TV audience doesn’t see celebrity host Simu Liu, some of Canada’s top music acts, and empty seats.