Bruce Springsteen vies for top tour

LOS ANGELES Sun Jul 27, 2008 8:02am BST

1 of 2. Bruce Springsteen (L), Little Steven van Zandt (R) and the E Street Band perform at the Olympic Stadium in Helsinki July 11, 2008.

Credit: Reuters/Hannu Kivimaki/Lehtikuva

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - "Glory Days" are here again for Bruce Springsteen, whose upcoming tour could make him the biggest touring artist of the year in North America.

Springsteen and his E Street Band, who kick off the second leg of their North American tour in New Jersey on Sunday, will vie for the crown with fellow Garden State rockers Bon Jovi and country singer Kenny Chesney, according to Pollstar magazine.

Each artist should end the year with ticket sales of about $70 million (35 million pounds), said Gary Bongiovanni, the editor of the Fresno, Calif.-based trade publication.

That's a modest sum by past standards. The Police were tops last year with $132 million, while the Rolling Stones led the field in 2006 with $138.5 million and in 2005 with a record $162 million. Springsteen won the 2003 derby with $116 million.

The last time a year's top touring act earned less than $70 million was in 1999 when the Rolling Stones grossed $65 million from a relatively brief arena tour.

"The economy's got to be affecting everything," Bongiovanni said in an interview.

The credit crunch and higher fuel prices are keeping fans at home. Concert promoters have responded by cutting prices of their cheap seats, while many rockers are seeking economies of scale by playing bigger markets.

At the half-year mark, Bon Jovi led with $56.3 million, followed by Springsteen with $40.8 million, Van Halen with $36.8 million, and Chesney with $35.3 million, Pollstar said.

Springsteen's tour begins with three dates at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. The last time he played the football field, five years ago, he grossed $39 million from 10 concerts. His top ticket price is now about 20 percent higher at $95. The quick monthlong jaunt, a follow-up to a two-month arena trek earlier this year, sticks largely on the eastern United States. Last year, he grossed $38 million in North America, No. 14 on Pollstar's list.

Pollstar is still crunching data for Bon Jovi's tour, which finished earlier this month with a pair of shows at New York's Madison Square Garden. Chesney -- the No. 2 act last year with $71 million-- is on the road through August 23. Van Halen, whose 2007 tour ranked No. 5 with $57 million, wrapped their trek in early June.

Reuters