Why big artists skip Tasmania on their tours, and how that can be fixed

Australia’s top music promoter has backed calls for a multi-purpose stadium in Tasmania, after a slew of big-name musicians left the state off their 2023 touring schedules. 

Launceston-born music promoter Michael Chugg has supported calls for a larger-scale stadium in Tasmania, following the absence of big-name musicians in the state due to a lack of suitable venues. Chugg, who is currently involved in Elton John’s forthcoming Australian tour, backed the potential development of a venue in Macquarie Point, Hobart, but said even that venue would be “far too small” to accommodate stadium tours. 

Explaining his state’s inability to host big-name acts during an interview with ABC, Chugg pointed to John’s touring schedule, which was forced to bypass Tasmania due to a limited seating capacity which “didn’t make sense” for the crowds the pop-star was able to attract. Chugg continued: “We’ve ended up in Newcastle where their football stadium, which is used for rugby league and soccer, holds 35,000 people.

Elton John Australia
Credit: Getty Images

While Chugg supported the Macquarie Point development — which was launched this year and will potentially hold around 20,000 people — he lamented the seating capacity as “ridiculous”, given that other states have venues which can host 35, 000 concertgoers. “If you’re going to build a stadium, it’s going to be around for at least 50 years… I think building a 23,000 seater stadium just seems a bit silly to me,” Chugg said. 

Echoing these concerns, Tourism Industry Council CEO Luke Martin said that a review of the touring schedules of big-name artists heading Down Under this year will reveal that “not one is coming to Tasmania.” Meanwhile, Brendan Self, the Managing Director of Tasmanian event company Vandemonian, said the state “do[es] not have a premium, purpose-built venue adequate to host the likes of Billie Eilish, KISS, Guns ‘N’ Roses, Post Malone or Tame Impala.

Billie Eilish Ukulele
Billie Eilish. Photo via Twitter

Self continued: “If we want the big names of the music industry, we need a venue like the stadium being proposed at Mac Point.” Chugg reiterated that he’s eager “to bring shows down [to Tasmania]”, before expressing concern over the economic losses that come with a lack of stadium tours. “With an all-weather, modern venue, we will inevitably attract our share of major touring acts that currently do not even give us a second look,” he said. 

From a tourism perspective, these types of acts do attract visitors from other parts of the country.” The calls come as Tasmania has remained largely absent from a slew of big-name touring schedules. Alongside John, the state will be bypassed by fellow 2023 Australian tourers Harry Styles, Lorde, Red Hot Chilli Peppers and Rod Stewart, among many others.