Country star coming out of retirement for show

LAS VEGAS — What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, if you’re Garth Brooks.

Brooks is coming out of his nine-year self-imposed retirement for an extended run at the 1,500-seat Encore Theater at Wynn Las Vegas beginning Dec. 11. He and Steve Wynn, chairman and CEO of Wynn Resorts announced the five-year deal from the stage of the Encore Theater. There are no plans for Brooks to tour outside of the Vegas deal or to put out new music.

Tickets go on sale Oct. 24 for the first slate of dates that covers five weekends between Dec. 11 and Feb. 26. All seats are priced at $125, a fee hotly contested between Brooks, who has never charged more than $25 for a ticket, and Wynn, who wanted to scale the house, although he stressed that the farthest seat from the stage is only 71 feet away.

Fellow Vegas headliners Bette Midler and Cher both offer top tickets at $227, with the cheap seats as low as $45 for Midler and $67 for Cher. In order to discourage scalping, all tickets must be picked up in person the day of show with valid ID and will not be distributed in advance. Ducats will be sold through Wynn’s own ticketing system.

The 90-minute shows will feature Brooks accompanied by only an acoustic guitar as he recounts his musical influences such as Merle Haggard, Bob Seger, Cat Stevens and James Taylor, performing their songs as well as many of his hits. He’s expected to do about 15 weekends a year.

In 2000, Brooks announced he would retire in order to spend time with his three young daughters, declaring that he would not tour until after his youngest daughter, Allie, graduated from high school in 2015. However, Wynn made it possible to still allow Brooks to take his kids to school every morning in Oklahoma by structuring the deal where Brooks plays one show on Friday, two on Saturday and one on Sunday. “In order to accomplish this goal, I will confess I had to buy him a jet plane,” Wynn said.

At the Wynn Las Vegas, Brooks takes the place of Danny Gans, who died May 1. Gans moved to the Wynn in February, following a nine-year engagement at the Mirage. Wynn did not discount other artists playing in the theater when Brooks is not there; Wynn said Beyonce has said she wants to come back, but he made it clear the theater is reserved for Brooks. “He’s taking control of the room. Who he brings on stage, what he does is strictly his business. Truly, I just provided the hall,” Wynn said. “This is Garth Brooks’ home.”

Although the contract is nominally for five years, Brooks said he can stop if he feels the pact isn’t working for him and his family. For that reason, shows will be announced each quarter for the following quarter so he can coordinate with his kids’ schedules, Brooks said.

Since announcing his retirement, Brooks has played selected dates, including nine sold-out dates at Kansas City’s Sprint Center in November 2007 and five sold-out shows at Los Angeles’ Staples Center over a two-day period in January 2008. Although he had not released an album of all-new material since 2001’s “Scarecrow,” the concerts, which sold out instantly, showed demand for Brooks as a live performer was still strong.

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