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Oklahoma Concert Venues Expand Event Capacity

Paolo Chiabrando/Unspalsh

Oklahoma performance venues were among the first businesses to close at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Now over a year later, performance venues are beginning to expand live event capacity as more Oklahomans get vaccinated. 

Chad Whitehead, talent buyer and operating partner at Tower Theatre in Oklahoma City, said the venue plans to increase event capacity over the summer. 

“May and June, those will be 20% capacity shows, fully seated, very COVID conscious," Whitehead said. "And then as we get into July, we'll start ramping that up with some larger parties and free concerts to the public with the hope that in August we can have full capacity shows.”

Masks are not required, but that might change depending on the show. 

In Tulsa, Cain’s Ballroom recently expanded its event capacity to 500 people and hopes to return to full capacity at 1,700 by August. 

Some artists will perform twice in a day to maximize the number of tickets that can be sold. 

Chad Rodgers, general manager of Cain’s Ballroom, said the venue was down 88% in total revenue in 2020 compared to the previous year. 

In December, the U.S. Congress passed a COVID-19 relief bill that earmarked $16 billion in grants for live venues. Cain’s Ballroom and Tower Theatre both applied for a grant, but are still awaiting funding.

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Katelyn discovered her love for radio as a student employee at KGOU, graduating from the University of Oklahoma with a bachelor’s degree in journalism, and then working as a reporter and producer in 2021-22. Katelyn has completed internships at SiriusXM in New York City and at local news organizations such as The Journal Record and The Poteau Daily News. Katelyn served as president of the OU chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists from 2017 to 2020. She grew up in Midland, Texas.
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