Few, if any, Washington Wizards fans nor NBA analysts predicted prior to the 2013-14 season that the Wizards would be playing on May 15. It’s true the Wizards were given a solid chance to make the postseason following the preseason deal for center Marcin Gortat, but, if anything, it was expected that Washington would be out in the first round, failing to make its second second-round appearance in nearly three decades, leaving the team’s Verizon Center home plenty of time to schedule all manner of events in the 17-year-old arena.
This is why, after she previously canceled a Washington-area concert because of illness in December, the Verizon Center happily scheduled Lady Gaga to perform on May 15. The Wizards not only made the playoffs this season, though, they defied the expectations of most by defeating the Chicago Bulls in the first round. This meant that a potential Game 6 of the team’s second-round series with Indiana – one in which, again surprisingly, the Wizards are leading 1-0 – would take place on May 15.
Which means that Lady Gaga, who brings in one night of revenue per year at Verizon in comparison to the 49 and counting dates the Wizards have and will play at their home base this season, had to move. Her concert will now take place on May 12.
Which also meant the Little Monsters, Lady Gaga’s affectionate name for her ardent fan base, were upset. As they should be, even if the show was moved up only three days. From the Washington Post:
The Wizards and Pacers will play every other day for the first six games of their best-of-seven series, if necessary. The NBA was reluctant to change that schedule, which fit in well with the other three second-round series. Lady Gaga fans, though — many of whom were coming to Washington from out of town – spent four days fretting about a potential change or postponement.
And while the new date will work for some, others are now in a bind. Mark James, a 19-year-old from Charlotte, got tickets to the show as a Christmas present after last year’s Gaga show in D.C. was canceled because of the singer’s health. His flight to Washington is on Wednesday; that no longer works. His hotel has no available rooms on the new date, and his friends aren’t available May 12.
He said he “pretty much started crying” when the new date was announced, and is “freaking out right now” over the switch.
The worry and eventual rescheduling set off a really nasty Twitter war of words between angry Lady Gaga fans and Wizards backers that I would not recommend you go and read. Predictably, the dregs of Washington’s fan base almost immediately dove into tossing out homophobic statements on Twitter in response to some Lady Gaga fans saying some predictably nasty and uncalled for things about both the Wizards and the Verizon Center decision-makers.
The NBA may have recently topped the 10 million mark in terms of Twitter followers, no small feat, but Lady Gaga boasts four times as many followers – and even with the Washington-centric end of things, it wasn’t really a fair fight, and it certainly wasn’t a fight worth searching out through various hashtags. Trust us. There’s a reason we’re not linking to these doofuses on either side.
The Verizon Center was right to choose a potential Game 6 (Washington could win the series as early as Sunday, or the Pacers could come back to win it next Tuesday, so Game 6 may not even take place) and move up Lady Gaga’s show a few days. The Wizards are a consistent money maker for the building, and all manner of silly tweets lambasting the Verizon Center for choosing stupid dunderheaded sports ball over artier pursuits are missing the mark. Lady Gaga fans may think of her as some wonderful subversive element in the pop culture scene, but she’s also playing in a massive corporate arena named after a communications company.
As the Washington Post noted, sometimes these sorts of concerts are a yearly destination for fans, one they mortgage quite a bit for in order to secure transportation and a place to stay, without even getting into the price of the ducats. If you’re coming out of town to see your one NBA game of the year, saving up for expensive seats and an expensive hotel room to surround that night out, it’s not going to be a good feeling if that team decides to move the game to a different night.
Now couple that feeling with the knowledge that NBA fans have 40-some other dates to choose from at a particular arena, where fans of a touring artist do not have the same luxury of choosing to attend repeat engagements.
We hope the commenters following this article decide to take a more tactful approach in their response to the switch and reaction.
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