Not only is Madison Square Garden "the world's most famous arena," it's also one of the busiest. But the venerable New York joint shouldn't get too cocky. According to Pollstar, an industry trade magazine, Tampa's St. Pete Times Forum is now the second-busiest venue in the United States, right behind MSG. The Times Forum was also the 11th-busiest venue in the entire world.
Pollstar ranks venues based on ticket sales; thanks to concert and sporting events (primarily the Tampa Bay Lightning), the Times Forum sold 236,038 tickets from January to June 2008. The BankAtlantic Center in Sunrise was ranked eighth in the country; Orlando's Amway Arena was ninth.
These yowza numbers aren't new for the Times Forum, which has benefited from a central location in Florida plus a rabid concertgoing public. Built in 1996, the Tampa landmark has been the No. 1 venue in the country four times in the past five years. And with Tom Petty, George Michael and Neil Diamond all scheduled to perform this year, plus a buzz-worthy Lightning team, the Times Forum just might catch MSG by the end of 2008.
Sean Daly, Times Pop Music Critic