Concerts by Carrie Underwood and Twenty One Pilots at Toronto’s Scotiabank Arena were cancelled or postponed due to the Toronto Raptors making it to the playoffs. (Photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Scotiabank Arena’s events organizer on the ‘game of Tetris’ that’s planning against sports

TORONTO — The Toronto Raptors’ first appearance in the NBA Finals is a cause for celebration for many Canadians, but it also has put a damper on plans for some concertgoers.

Fans of both country superstar Carrie Underwood and alt-pop duo Twenty One Pilots learned recently that shows at Toronto’s Scotiabank Arena were being cancelled or postponed as the Raptors devoured the venue for their showdown against the Golden State Warriors.

The decision left many fans turning to social media to vent their frustration, but Melissa Bubb-Clarke, vice president of music and live events at Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, says sports colliding with concerts is a “fairly common occurrence” in the live entertainment industry as arenas juggle their busy schedules.

“I like to joke and say that it’s a little game of Tetris,” Bubb-Clarke said in a phone interview on Wednesday.

Scotiabank Arena, formerly the Air Canada Centre, hosts roughly 220 annual events, including Toronto Maple Leafs hockey games and the Raptors. There’s also a steady flow of concerts by some of the world’s most popular performers.

But the world of sports and music entertainment don’t always mix, partly because they work on different timelines.

Concerts are often booked six to 18 months in advance, Bubb-Clarke said, meaning that organizers end up having to “work diligently to move things around” if a local sports team makes a deep playoff run.

It’s a risk the music performers — and the people who book their shows — know before they choose their concert dates, she said.

“There’s conditions in those contracts and there’s certainly collaboration with those artists,” she says.

“It’s communicated to them well in advance that (the) timeframe needs to be nimble.”

Bubb-Clarke says cancelling any concert is a last resort. Her team of three planners work closely with organizers at the National Basketball Association and National Hockey League to ensure most events don’t collide.

Even then, it’s hard to predict exactly what will happen.

In the case of Twenty One Pilots’ gig that was booked for Wednesday, the day before Game 1, the NBA required access to the Scotiabank Arena to begin preparations for the Thursday night contest.

Underwood’s show on June 9 would have clashed with the potential fifth game in the seven-game series set for June 10.

It’s hardly the first time sports have pushed a major concert out of a venue.

Corey Hart was forced to move the date of his Montreal hometown farewell show in 2014 when plans ran against a possible Game 7 in the Stanley Cup playoffs at the Bell Centre. Turns out he didn’t need to — the Montreal Canadiens lost the series to the New York Rangers in Game 6.

Garth Brooks ran into hurdles when he booked three shows in Tampa, Fla., as part of his 2015 tour before the Stanley Cup Final bumped him from the Amalie Arena. The country singer opted to cancel and refund all three performances, which would have been the first time he played the city in more than 16 years.

At Scotiabank Arena, the runway for the NBA Finals is clear at this point, with the exception of one major event.

Oprah Winfrey is scheduled to appear at the venue on June 14 with her “Your Path Made Clear” speaking engagement. While her event doesn’t directly conflict with an NBA Finals date, it’s possible the Raptors could need the venue for Game 7 two days later.

Bubb-Clarke is cautious not to make any firm commitments as to whether the media mogul’s show will go ahead.

“All I can tell you right now is presently Oprah is unaffected,” she said.

Just Posted

Alberta energy war room must avoid online morass, preaching to choir: experts

CALGARY — Tzeporah Berman only learned of her cameo appearance at an… Continue reading

Two dead, including one who police believe was a child, in Alberta house fire

PLAMONDON, Alta. — Two people, including one who police believe was a… Continue reading

CSIS destroyed secret file on Pierre Trudeau, stunning historians

OTTAWA — Canada’s spy service destroyed a Cold War dossier on Pierre… Continue reading

Premier refuses to back down on plan to scrap 18,000 immigration applications

Quebec Premier Francois Legault is holding firm on his plan to scrap… Continue reading

Pro-pipelines rally draws crowd to City Hall

Canadian Taxpayers Federation says Canada missing out on billions in revenue

Federal cabinet decision on fate of Trans Mountain pipeline due Tuesday

OTTAWA — The Liberal government’s $4.5 billion gamble to buy the Trans… Continue reading

Skier, 22 dies after fall on Mount Haig near Castle Mountain Ski Resort

PINCHER CREEK, Alta. — RCMP from the Pincher Creek, Alta., detachment are… Continue reading

4 years in, Trump fondly recalls Trump Tower campaign launch

NEW YORK — It was the escalator ride that would change history.… Continue reading

Massive protests draw apology from Hong Kong leadership

Hong Kong citizens marched for hours Sunday in a massive protest that… Continue reading

Butterfly garden keeper manages to film large tarantula shedding exoskeleton

VICTORIA — A 20-centimetre tarantula capable of killing a bird has been… Continue reading

Telegraph-Journal wins 2018 Michener Award recognizing public-service journalism

OTTAWA — The Telegraph-Journal in New Brunswick has been named the winner… Continue reading

Victorious Raptors cancel their return to Toronto after becoming NBA champs

TORONTO — Some Raptors players returned to Toronto on Saturday night for… Continue reading

How a Montreal working-class neighbourhood’s activists changed Quebec and Canada

MONTREAL — The Pointe-St-Charles neighbourhood is isolated from the rest of Montreal… Continue reading

Most Read