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August 27, 2014

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ACM chief: Show is celebrating its 50th anniversary at Cowboys Stadium, not in Las Vegas

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Rick Diamond/Getty Images

Jason Aldean, Keith Urban, Luke Bryan and Academy of Country Music Executive Director Bob Romeo backstage during ACM Presents: Brooks & Dunn - The Last Rodeo at MGM Grand Garden Arena on April 19, 2010.

47th Annual Academy of Country Music Awards

Carrie Underwood performs during the 47th annual Academy of Country Music Awards at the MGM Grand Garden Arena Sunday, April 1, 2012. Launch slideshow »

It’s flip-the-calendar time with Bob Romeo.

“We’re back in 2013,” says the president of the Academy of Country Music Awards, “and we’re back in 2014.”

But flip to April 2015, and the ACM schedule reads: “Cowboys Stadium.”

Which is in Dallas, or specifically, Arlington, Texas.

“We’re planning on Dallas for 2015 to celebrate our 50th anniversary,” says Romeo, who is in town for the 47th Annual Academy of Country Music Awards at MGM Grand Garden Arena and Mandalay Bay Events Center (the show aired nationwide Sunday night on CBS).

Romeo also is visiting Las Vegas for tonight’s “ACM Presents: Lionel Richie & Friends” concert at Grand Garden Arena, another national TV broadcast set for April 13, also on CBS. The lineup for that concert includes Marc Anthony, Darius Rucker, Big & Rich, Jason Aldean, Luke Bryan, Sara Evans, Martina McBride, Tim McGraw, Kenny Chesney, Jennifer Nettles, Kenny Rogers, and Rascal Flatts.

The show is essentially Part II of what was laid out Sunday night at the 3-hour ACM showcase, which reportedly won the ratings night for CBS and was another boffo marketing boost for Las Vegas, with the requisite aerial shots of the Strip and appearances by Wayne Newton, Carrot Top, Terry Fator and a few unnamed showgirls.

But the city, and MGM Resorts, will be sidelined for the 50th anniversary of the ACM Awards celebration. It’s not a total surprise that Dallas/Arlington and Cowboys Stadium has landed the 50th anniversary performance and telecast. Officials in those municipalities and in the Texas Legislature have been working for nearly 2 years to bring the show to Cowboys Stadium.

However, Romeo says the plan is to stage a massive one-off show, then return to Las Vegas for 2016.

As his surname indicates, Romeo has a lot of love in him, especially for Vegas.

“We couldn’t be happier with Las Vegas,” he says, then refers to the total of 19,000 fans who filled Grand Garden Arena for the main show and Mandalay Bay Events Center for the cut-away remote performances during the broadcast. “We sold out both arenas. The Expo (the ACM Experience at Mandalay Bay) went well, and the shows at Fremont Street were packed. We love Vegas. We just want to do an event for our 50th anniversary that will generate a lot of media interest.”

Romeo says the audience at Cowboys Stadium for the 50th anniversary show should sit at about 65,000.

That’s a lotta seats.

“People say, ‘That’s a lotta seats,’ ” Romeo concurs. “But we could have sold 30,000 easily in Las Vegas, so you’re going in half sold-out, and it’s not a big stretch to reach that figure in Dallas. It’s not as if we don’t want Vegas to be involved. There is going to be some integration of Vegas for 2015.”

Though Romeo says it is too soon to say just how Las Vegas would be “integrated,” it is possible to stage cut-away performances at one of the MGM arenas or even Fremont Street during the national telecast.

But Romeo says the show wants to come back. Promise.

“Even if we take off for a year, we want to return to Las Vegas,” Romeo says. “When we do, it’ll be even bigger and better, and we have some visions to take it to another level.”

Follow John Katsilometes on Twitter at Twitter.com/JohnnyKats. Also, follow “Kats With the Dish” at Twitter.com/KatsWithTheDish.

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