Cher’s ‘Farewell’ tour to open MU’s new arena

Thursday, September 16, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 7:06 a.m. CDT, Saturday, July 19, 2008

Paige Sports Arena will host Cher and the Village People as the venue’s first concert, representatives from MU’s Department of Intercollegiate Athletics announced Wednesday. The show, set for Nov. 11, will kick off a series of big-name acts aimed at bringing diversity and quality entertainment to Mid-Missouri, officials said.

“This is the biggest event in this category in Columbia in a long, long time,” said Mike Alden, director of athletics. He compared the concert to the Rolling Stones’ Voodoo Lounge Tour of 1994.

Cher’s performance will be part of her Farewell “Never Can Say Goodbye” Tour. True to its name, the tour began more than two years ago in Toronto and has been extended because of its success.

Alden said attracting international stars such as Cher is something MU could not have done without the new $75 million arena.

“It’s the finest on-campus facility of its kind in America, right here in Columbia, Missouri,” he said.

The new basketball arena will be operational Oct. 1. Located southwest of the Hearnes Center, it offers 15,100 seats, better sight lines, an indoor ticket lobby and better accommodations for entertainers.

Tim Hickman, associate director of athletics, said negotiations are under way to bring a number of popular artists to the arena.

The Harlem Globetrotters will appear at the new arena in March.

Hickman said arena officials are involved in talks with the High School Basketball Association to move basketball playoffs from Hearnes Center to the new, bigger sports venue.

“The new arena will give us the opportunity to host not only concerts but other events that are beneficial to the community,” Hickman said.

Tickets for the Cher concert will cost $54.25 and $74.25 and will go on sale Sept. 25.

Kelvin Walsh, manager of Streetside Records and a ticket vendor for the upcoming show, predicts the cost of the show will have little bearing on ticket sales.

“It’s not that far out of line for arena rock of any type,” Walsh said. “And Cher’s got the broad appeal and name recognition even outside of musical circles.”

Walsh sold tickets for the same tour last year at venues in St. Louis and Chicago at even higher prices.

He said the show is a “home run” as a kick off for the arena.

“By building the arena, they’ve raised the bar,” Walsh said. “By booking Cher, they’ve cleared it.”

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