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October 17, 2018 05:15 PM

Ever since Garth Brooks ended his record-setting arena tour last December, his fans have been awaiting his Next Big Thing. On Wednesday, Brooks announced it will be super-sized: a three-year, 30-stop stadium tour kicking off in the spring.

“I wanted to call it the ‘Big-Ass Stadium Tour,’ but they voted me down on that,” Brooks, 56, said at a news conference held at Nashville’s Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. “So we’re just gonna call it the stadium tour for right now.”

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The announcement arrives just three days before Brooks’ sold-out show at Notre Dame on Saturday, the first live concert in the university’s legendary stadium. CBS-TV will be there to film that concert for a broadcast on Dec. 2 — yet more breaking Garth news on Wednesday — and because of that, Brooks said, the Notre Dame event definitely won’t be a blueprint for what’s to come.

“Everything you know about Notre Dame took a really hard right about three weeks ago when we found out CBS was interested in filming,” said the CMA’s reigning entertainer of the year. “We never film anything until the end, so Notre Dame will be the beginning and the end for us … We’ll go back to the drawing board, modify the stage. So Notre Dame truly will be a one-off … because the last thing I like to see is something on TV and and then go and see the exact same thing.”

Not to worry, though: “Garth Brooks isn’t gonna roll into your place and not play ‘The Thunder Rolls’ or not play ‘Friends in Low Places’ or ‘Calling Baton Rouge,’” he told PEOPLE. “I’m lucky that I get to play those, but at the same time, we try to make the [concerts] different.”

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That means changes in stage effects, concert atmosphere and the band lineup. Because of the stadium locations, Brooks is also hoping to turn each concert into a “game day.”

“So will you see the face tattoos? You betcha,” he said. “We’ll encourage people to come in the colors of the school or the team … I can’t think how to make music more fun than to add sports. … You can take the ideas as far as you want, right? You can be totally stupid. Should there be a halftime in the show? … It’s wide open. It’s gonna be really fun to get to imagine and try things out.”

In keeping with a college theme, Brooks said the stadium concerts also will include a segment called “Music 101” — classic songs that younger generations “should never, ever forget.”

“And granted, it’s gonna be stuff that they never will forget anyway,” he said, “but it’s gonna be fun to get to play other people’s music … I know how much of an influence they were on our music and still are.”

Garth Brooks.
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One thing concert-goers probably won’t see: Brooks’ wife, Trisha Yearwood, who shared the bill throughout his arena tour. Though she may make a few surprise appearances, she’s turning her attention toward solo touring — a venture Brooks intends to fully support with his presence.

“The one comment we kept getting on the comeback tour is we wish Trisha would have played longer,” Brooks said. “To have her come out and play three or four songs and be gone — I think her love for music is deeper than that. So she’s got probably her own tour that she’ll be announcing. And we will not be apart. She’ll be there, and I’ll be there when she tours because that’s our goal. It’s to spend as few nights as we can apart.”

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The 30 concerts will be held at both college venues and pro sports team sites. The first five dates will go on sale before Christmas, kicking off at the Dome at America’s Center in St. Louis in the spring. The second location will be State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona, outside Phoenix. The other three locations are still in contract negotiations.

Brooks will be returning to cities that were on his arena tour, but he intends to put at least four years between the two tours’ dates in each specific locale. Announcements of later dates will be staggered, as Brooks did for his arena tour, but he hinted that he has already set his sights on Gillette Stadium, the New England Patriots’ home in Foxborough, Massachusetts; AT&T Stadium, the Dallas Cowboys’ home in Arlington, Texas; and Nissan Stadium, the Tennessee Titans’ home in Nashville.

“I can’t imagine not coming home,” he said of the prospect of a Nashville date. “Talking about great places to play, industry cities are never on that list of the greatest places to play — unless it’s freaking Nashville.”

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