Bon Jovi's Central Park Show Launches Week of All-Star Game Celebrations

By Michael O'Connell July 14, 2008, 5:00 PM EDT

Festivities for Tuesday's Major League Baseball All-Star Game kicked into high gear on Saturday with Bon Jovi’s highly anticipated concert on Central Park’s Great Lawn. An estimated 48,500 people (many of them from New Jersey) attended the show, which was free for those who didn't get their tickets from scalpers.

Though plans were only finalized two weeks ahead of time, fans turned out in droves to pick up tickets the day after the July 1 announcement. All 60,000 tickets were given away almost instantly, but an extra 7,500 were distributed in the days leading up to the show to extend the opportunity to other fans. Many die-hards had already shelled out as much as $1,000 to scalpers for the free pass, which didn’t even guarantee admittance. Despite the 67,500 tickets, the Department of Parks & Recreation was adamant that only 50,000 would be allowed to attend the show, so the particularly anxious started lining up the day before.

Other events planned for the All Star game include tomorrow’s red carpet parade on the Avenue of the Americas and the All-Star FanFest at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, which started Friday and runs through tomorrow. MLB.com also hosted a party at Roseland Ballroom Sunday night where Wyclef Jean and DJ Jazzy Jeff performed for a crowd of celebrities and baseball players in town for the game.

Although Bon Jovi will prove to be one of the biggest affairs in Central Park this year, its turnout pales in comparison to many concerts of the past. Diana Ross, Simon & Garfunkel, and Garth Brooks all drew an estimated 500,000 to their respective Great Lawn gigs in the '80s and '90s. Shows of that size stopped in 2005 when the parks commission limited gatherings on the lawn to 50,000, only increasing that limit to 75,000 earlier this year as part of a settlement with two anti-war groups that were denied permits to hold demonstrations on the lawn.

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