Garth Brooks’ sold-out shows near Branson, Missouri, provided unforgettable nights for thousands of fans — but many for all the wrong reasons.
From traffic woes, parking issues, miles-long walks and troubles for those with disabilities, the three-night opening of the Thunder Ridge Nature Arena did not go as planned as it ushered in one of the most well-known musicians on the planet.
Many fans only caught a few songs. Others were less lucky, as they either missed out entirely or gave up when seeing the lines mounting ahead of them.
“Either get there at NOON (7 p.m. show), rent a helicopter or don’t go! We did NOT see Garth,” Facebook user Whitney Wilson said. “Very poor event and parking management. The venue is getting raked for this. Garth deserves better!”
Jessica Schultz considered it the “worst concert experience ever.” She arrived at the site for parking at 5:15 p.m., but left at 8 p.m. with more than 500 people ahead of her, she said in a Facebook post.
Teresa Huddleston Scroggins also suggested to not attend the final two shows after she went on the first night. She estimated that thousands of people never made it to the venue, due to standstill traffic on the two-lane road that led to the arena.
She considered herself one of the lucky ones since she caught one of the few shuttles.
“Garth was great, Trisha (Yearwood) was incredible but nothing is worth the hassle and as I said we were one of the lucky ones that actually made it inside without walking 10 miles to do so,” Scroggins said. “Thunder Ridge Nature Arena is a massive fail of epic proportions!”
Tickets for the Sept. 30, Oct. 1 and Oct. 2 shows were capped at 25,000 people each. But that, many said, was far too many for the venue to hold.
There was an “overwhelming turnout” during the ticket-buying process, and all three shows quickly sold out.
After the woes on the first night, the arena encouraged people to leave for the venue early because “the 2-lane highway will get backed up and some parking lots require shuttles to and from the venue.”
Janet Babb Scott was among those who encountered issues when arriving at the Ridgedale arena. She said she waited in line for three hours, only saw 30 minutes of the concert, then sat in three more hours of traffic as she exited.
“People were furious to say the least,” she added in her Facebook post.
And despite concertgoers having to pay for a parking pass — $65 according to Ali O’Malley — no one was checking those tickets at entry, she said. It took O’Malley two hours to leave the arena, but she said she knew of others who waited for six hours.
“This is the most poorly thought out venue I have ever tried to enter,” James Herring said in a post. “Limited parking at the arena so they have offsite parking that you can’t get into then wait in line for a shuttle that can’t run (because of) the traffic jam.”
Others commented on the venue’s accommodations for those with disabilities.
Teresa Merau said on Facebook she encountered “excruciating, inhumane conditions” at the arena, beginning with a trek up a hill.
“You’d better be young, in top physical condition and no disabilities to attend there. The hill to get down to it is very steep, so you must be sure-footed,” she said. “What goes down must come up, so you need to have the physical ability to do some hefty climbing.”
Joe Folsom told KY3 that people who were handicapped “would not have been able to make it” to the site.
“The worse part was when you got into the gate. It was gravel, like walking on sand,” he said. “We saw people with walkers and motorized scooters. You almost got stuck in it because we were not able to navigate it at all.”
The venue has not commented on social media since the first night of the concert series. Its Google rating has plummeted since the weekend’s shows as many people vented about their frustrations.