Memories That Last

If you have lived in Frisco for a while, you may remember seeing an exciting concert or game at Toyota Stadium, or, before that, you may have been at what was called “Pizza Hut Park.” It was not until 2013 that Toyota Stadium adopted its current name, and for the thousands of newcomers who have come to Frisco in the last several years, that is all the venue has ever been known as. The stadium itself may have changed names a couple of times throughout the years, but one thing has stayed the same: it is a place of entertainment that has helped Frisco residents create lasting memories for more than a decade.

For example, take the time back in 2009, when country music star Kenney Chesney came to town. Despite a forecast of seriously bad weather, Mr. Chesney started playing to a packed stadium of 20,000 excited fans. A storm was blowing through the metroplex, and earlier that day, lightning and high winds had struck the Dallas Cowboys’ training facility downtown and injured 12 people. Regardless of the weather threat, Mr. Chesney and his band took the stage while rain and wind pelted down onto the crowd. In a 2009 interview with CMT Insider, Mr. Chesney recalls the moment he knew the show had to be stopped, saying, “When I saw lightning literally almost hit the stadium, you can see it on the video footage, there was a moment there when you can only see a small portion of the crowd around me, and then all of a sudden you see the whole stadium, and I thought it might be time to go.” Mr. Chesney shared that he was so impressed with the resilience and energy of the Frisco crowd that night, he just knew he could not leave them wanting more and feeling cheated. A few days later, Mr. Chesney’s tour announced that they would be back in Frisco to play a general admission make up show and honor all ticket holders that had their evening cut short by Mother Nature’s plans. Fans all over Frisco were elated. Just a few weeks later, Mr. Chesney was back at the stadium, under clearer skies, playing to another packed house. Listening to Mr. Chesney’s music under the stars made for a very happy crowd and a memorable night. Mr. Chesney later said that the show was one of the highlights of his tour that year!

Events like this and the dozens of music concerts and festival events that came after, are all thanks to AEG Live, a worldwide concert and festival production company headquartered in Los Angeles, Calif. This year marks 10 years of AEG Live producing concerts and festivals in Frisco. During the last decade, AEG Live has brought more than 25 shows and festivals to Frisco, including Ozzfest, George Strait, Ed Sheeran, Jimmy Buffett, Edgefest and more. At the company’s southwest headquarters, a team produces shows in Texas, N.M., Okla., Ark. and La. They produce for Toyota Stadium and beyond Frisco. In Dallas, AEG Live brings shows to large venues like AT&T Stadium as well as smaller, intimate shows.

One of the most popular shows in the AEG Live lineup is the annual Jimmy Buffett concert. This May will mark the ninth year Mr. Buffett has brought his musical talents and island-style sounds to Frisco. Each year, “parrotheads,” as Mr. Buffett’s fans are called (an ode to the Hawaiian shirts and parrot hats his fans often wear), flock to see Mr. Buffett perform at Toyota Stadium, turning the whole venue, including the parking lot, into one big, Margaritaville party. This year’s “I Don’t Know Tour” stops in Frisco on Sat., May 28. Mr. Buffett’s special guest will be ZZ Top, the American rock band that has been together for more than 40 years.

Dan Hunt, the president of FC Dallas and the vice president of Hunt Sports Group, says, “The Jimmy Buffett concert here at Toyota Stadium has become one of our favorite weekends each year. We could not be more excited to welcome the Parrothead Nation to Frisco once again in 2016. It is more than just a concert. It is an incredible party across our entire venue with fantastic tailgating. I know it is an event we all look forward to in May.”

AEG Live is the company bringing exciting and unique entertainment to our community, but the woman behind the name, who strives to make the magic happen, is Lisa Morgan, the vice president of AEG Live Southwest. Ms. Morgan handles talent booking, marketing, event management and she makes sure everything at the venue goes perfectly at every show. Ms. Morgan has been a Frisco resident since 1999, and she has two daughters attending school within the Frisco ISD. Her enthusiasm for all things Frisco and entertainment and her passion for concerts and festivals is infectious. She says one of her favorite moments of her career was during last year’s show with Ed Sheeran, a young, British singer and songwriter who became hugely popular in the U.S. during 2011. During his sold out show at Toyota Stadium last spring, Mr. Sheeran announced to 30,000 screaming fans that the evening’s show was his biggest U.S. show to date. “After that, all 30,000 fans started singing one of his songs, in unison. It was a completely consolidated moment that still gives me chills when I think about it,” Ms. Morgan says.

Another memorable moment for Ms. Morgan happened one night in August of 2008. “It was the night Metallica was doing their sound check. There were about 100 of us in the entire venue. I was out on mid-field watching, while members of Metallica were joking and goofing off on stage. Then, they began playing ‘Sanitarium.’ I could feel the power of the music in every inch of my body. There was a large crowd of fans cheering outside the south gate, and it dawned on me — Metallica is here, in my hometown of Frisco, goofing off, rehearsing and getting ready to headline the nationally broadcasted Ozzfest, and I work for the company that is making this happen! It was an absolutely humbling and stunning moment,” she shares.

For Ms. Morgan, it is all part of an exciting partnership with the City of Frisco that seems to get better each year. She says, “The fact that what I do has a hand in producing events that make people happy is amazing. No matter what is going on in people’s lives, the minute their artist takes the stage, there is a unified sense of excitement and happiness throughout the venue. That is the greatest feeling I could ask for, not only professionally, but personally. I am so fortunate to be able to work for a company that does that on a daily basis for events all around the world.”

Nick Shafer, the vice president of stadium operations for FC Dallas/Toyota Stadium says that Ms. Morgan’s commitment to producing great shows and the company’s partnership with AEG Live has helped put Toyota Stadium on the map and helped create more enthusiasm for sports and other types of entertainment in Frisco. He says, “It took us nearly five years to even get Jimmy Buffett to stop at Frisco, and not Dallas, on his tour. It is something we have developed together over our 10 years, between the City of Frisco and AEG Live, with agents and other promoters, to take advantage of what is happening in North Texas in terms of growth. Most importantly, we now have Lisa Morgan running point with AEG Live. As a Frisco resident, she can inform this group of people on what the city has to offer.”

2016 will prove to be another exciting year for AEG Live and Frisco residents. The company recently announced dates for a country music concert and festival called “Off the Rails,” which is a two-day event on Sat., April 23, and Sun., April 24, featuring Blake Shelton, Chris Young, Ashley Monroe, Midland, Eric Church, Sam Hunt and more country music legends. An estimated 40,000 fans are expected at the inaugural, two-day festival, which includes music, sponsors, an interactive village outside of the stadium, food, activities and something for everyone in the family. If you are a fan of country music, mark your calendar now! You will not want to miss this!

There is also an upcoming event for local, non-country music fans. On Sat., April 30, Edgefest, a day-long alternative music festival, will appeal to those who enjoy music with an “edgier” sound. Cage the Elephant, Silversun Pickups, Good Charlotte, The Struts, all bands that appeal to a generally younger crowd and would normally play at venues downtown, will come to Frisco to share their music. Edgefest offers another “festival-like” atmosphere with music, vendors and food throughout the day.

Ms. Morgan says the company’s excellent relationship with Mayor Maher Maso, the City of Frisco and the partnership with FC Dallas and the stadium are all part of booking and producing a successful show. “Typically, the decision to book Toyota Stadium is based on the capacity of the show we are looking at. If we feel the capacity will be more than 15,000, then we will make an offer for the stadium. In the case of Off the Rails, we decided that the metroplex was lacking a strong country music festival. We evaluated a few locations and decided that Frisco was the best area, due to our excellent relationships with the City of Frisco and our partners at FC Dallas/Toyota Stadium. The layout of the stadium and the surrounding grounds are also in line with what we want with regards to our interactive vendor village and the performance area,” Ms. Morgan says.

As one of the fastest growing cities in the country, Frisco can boast itself for being a premier destination for major recording artists and musicians, as well as world-class sports teams like FC Dallas and the Dallas Cowboys. This is not lost on Mayor Maso, who says working with AEG Live is just another part of Frisco’s bright future. “It has been exciting for the City of Frisco to work with AEG Live, promoting events over the past 10 years. It has been a pleasure to work with Lisa Morgan and the AEG Live team as they continue to bring dynamic and exciting events to Frisco, such as the Off the Rails Country Music Festival,” he said. “I am looking forward to a bright future in entertainment for our community as Frisco continues to be known as a tourist destination and as one of the fastest growing cities in the country.”

As summer approaches, make plans to get outside and share in all of the excitement and live entertainment coming to Toyota Stadium. To check out some of the upcoming AEG Live events that will take place in Frisco this year, go to fcdallas.com.

Lisa Dawson is a full-time working mom of three, a freelance writer and a Frisco resident.