Brooks played three shows in the Missouri Ozarks last weekend
Many Garth Brooks fans are demanding refunds following last weekend’s series of concerts in southern Missouri. Nearly 80,000 fans showed up to see the country star perform three shows at the newly expanded Thunder Ridge Nature Arena at Bass Pro Shops Big Cedar Lodge in the Missouri Ozarks near Branson. While thousands arrived early and had no issue, many logistics involving traffic and shuttles caused others to miss most or all of the show they were set to attend, especially on Friday night.
Bass Pro spokesperson Jeff Wilhoit tells Springfield’s KY3 that the issues stem from an outside vendor who works with FEMA. Due to Hurricane Ian rescue efforts in Florida, they were left without many of the shuttles they were expecting.
“We hired a company called ASM Global. They do large events all over the country,” Wilhoit states. “The majority of the shuttles we lost, so we had to scramble just to find some on Friday night. We would never encourage anyone to walk down Highway 86.”
Only one road runs to the area causing an hours long traffic jam. Once parked, many others, including those who were disabled, were forced to walk due to only two shuttles in use.
“We left Kansas City around noon. We got into the Branson area about 4 pm,” Michelle Boucher, who had tickets for opening night on Friday, tells St. Louis’ Fox 2 News. “It was 9 pm and we were still in line at the fruit farm lot to catch a shuttle, and people were actually coming back from the venue on the shuttles already. They were telling us that it took them an hour to get from the fruit farm parking lot to the venue. So then we were just like, yeah, we’re not doing that.”
“They had two busses running that line back and forth to the fruit farm and those two busses held 54 people,” Boucher adds. “We’ve got thousands and thousands of people parked at fruit farm for two busses.”
Wilhoit declares that fans who missed any or a portion of any of the shows can request a refund.
“I want to apologize. We are extremely sorry that they didn’t [see the show],” Wilhoit shares. “For the vast majority, lots of people had an incredible time. You can tell by that aerial picture there were 20,000 people that had an incredible time. But for those folks that were not able to make it in, especially on Friday night when we had challenges, we are definitely sorry about that.”
He continues, “We will make it right with folks. If they were not able to get in or got in the last song or something, we want to make it right with people. Johnny Morris is not in the business to scam people out of money. Thunder Ridge is in a not-for profit. [The] Johnny Morris Foundation and all the money raised from that concert goes back to conservation.”
Fans can call Ticketmaster at 1-800-653-8000 and select option 3 to request a refund.
Wilhoit says they’ll learn from these challenges and it was an honor to host Brooks for the open.
“Overall, it was an incredible event to open a brand new arena, to have 80,000 fans see one of the most incredible iconic artists like Garth Brooks,” Wilhoit says. “Anytime you open something brand new, especially an arena of this size, you are going to have challenges.”
We reached out Brooks’ camp for comment on the matter. His guitarist, Chris Leuzinger, apologizes for the mishap.
“I also want to apologize for all the folks who had so many problems getting to the show last weekend because of the traffic,” Leuzinger shares on social media with a series of photos from the weekend. “We were all aware and felt bad about it. I believe in the future once they figure out the traffic/parking situation that Thunder Ridge will be a very cool venue.”