The CDC’s Covid-19 community transmission map is a sea of red along the Missouri and Kansas border, while the percentage of fully vaccinated residents in both states remains under 45%. On Saturday, an expected 70,000 country music fans will gather at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri, for a concert by Garth Brooks.
Officials at the stadium, the home of the Kansas City Chiefs, view the concert as an opportunity to reach the vaccine hesitant. An on-site clinic, running from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. in the stadium’s parking lot, will encourage concertgoers to receive their Covid-19 vaccine before Brooks takes the stage. There are incentives at play too: in a tweet, Kansas City mayor Quinton Lucas said there will be a “ticket upgrade raffle” available to those who get vaccinated at the show.
“The best way to rid COVID-19 from our community is to get vaccinated, and this clinic is one more important effort to meet Kansas Citians where they are,” Lucas said in a statement released on Wednesday.
The on-site vaccination initiative at Arrowhead Stadium is the idea of the Chiefs and Kansas City officials, who hosted a similar event prior to an August 1st Gucci Mane concert at another venue. Kansas City news station KCTV reported that only “10 to 15” people took advantage of that vaccination event, despite a chance to win tickets and backstage passes to the rapper’s show.
Brooks, meanwhile, has been encouraging his fans to wear masks to his shows as the delta variant continues to drive up infections and hospitalizations nationwide. He aired a video prior to his scheduled concert in Nashville last weekend at Nissan Stadium asking fans to be respectful of those who choose to wear masks (and those who don’t). The concert was ultimately postponed because of a lightning storm. During his weekly Inside Studio G Facebook chat on Monday, Brooks spoke to his audience about the rising threat of Covid, telling them, “It’s getting real sticky out there.”
“Follow all the rules, make your own rules up too. You can’t be safe enough. You can’t be cautious enough. Keep your space. Keep your distance,” Brooks said. “Please feel free to wear the masks at the concert. Nobody is going to look at you strange, I promise.” In a comment on the Facebook post, Brooks’ wife and onstage partner, Trisha Yearwood, echoed those sentiments. “Wear your mask! Stay safe,” she wrote.
Kansas City recently instituted an indoor mask mandate. Arrowhead Stadium, an outdoor venue, requires masks in certain indoor areas and recommends that unvaccinated people wear them outdoors.
On Tuesday, Brooks issued a statement saying that after his Kansas City concert and another on August 14th in Lincoln, Nebraska, he will “assess where the remainder of the dates this year stand due to the resurgence of the covid virus.” Tickets for his Seattle stadium concert on September 4th were to go on sale this Friday, but, according to a release from Brooks’ team, “until we are sure we can play the date, we will not be going forward with the Seattle on sale.”
“It breaks my heart to see city after city go on sale and then have to ask those sweet people and the venues to reschedule,” Brooks said in a statement. “We have a three week window coming up where we, as a group, will assess the remainder of the stadium tour this year. It’s humbling to see people put this much faith in you as an artist, and it kills me to think I am letting them down.”
[This story has been updated.]