Madonna Draws 4,000 Tourists to Israel for MDNA Concert Premier

Fans pay up to NIS 5,000 for VIP ticket and accommodation package to attend Tel Aviv show; Conan O'Brian arrives especially to cover event.

This Thursday, tens of thousands of audience members will have the honor of being the first in the world to attend the latest concert tour by pop queen Madonna. The opening show of "MDNA" comes three years after the singer finished her last worldwide concert tour, "Sticky & Sweet", with two performances in Tel Aviv's Hayarkon Park. Sticky & Sweet drew revenues of $408 million, breaking records for a solo artist. The current concert tour is Madonna's ninth and also her longest. She will visit 32 countries, including the United Arab Emirates, the Ukraine, and Colombia.

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The grandiose show, which is being produced by Shuki Weiss together with Live Nation, is estimated to cost more than NIS 15 million. Setting up the stage at Ramat Gan Stadium, which will hold some 35,000 people, has taken two weeks so far. A special 800-meter stage was built in Belgium. It includes hidden stages and its design will change for each song. A special section called the "Diamond" was built to protrude from the stage into the audience. In addition, a tent city was built, including bedrooms, a game area for the singer's children and a lounge in which she can host the American television host, Conan O'Brian, who is visiting Israel especially to cover the show.

Some 600 staff will make up the production team, of which 350 came to Israel with the singer from the U.S. Some 100 performers will appear on stage, not including the pop queen, who landed in Israel earlier this week, rented out 70 rooms in the Dan Hotel in Tel Aviv, and, for herself, the presidential suite.

Tickets to the MDNA concert around the world range between $45 and $600 for a VIP package. In Israel, tickets range from NIS 240 ( $62) for a seat in the stands and NIS 2,400 ($620) for VIP package that includes an upholstered seat in the VIP area, on-site parking, a hot meal and a private party. Madonna herself responded to the criticism over high ticket prices in an interview with Newsweek in February, saying "Start saving now. People spend $300 on a handbag all the time. Work all year, save money and come to my concert."

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Madonna has already announced that she has sold $240 million of tickets, and the Huffington Post has estimated that the concert tour will rake in at least $300 million. The MDNA concert will also contribute to tourism in Israel. The fact that the Israeli show will be the tour premier caused 4,000 fans to arrive in Tel Aviv this week especially to attend. Those fans were also the first to purchase tickets to the show, after Madonna announced the opening of the tour on her Facebook page on February 7 and only allowed members of her fan clubs to purchase tickets for the first 48 hours.

The company, Eventim, sold thousands of tourism packages including accommodation and entry to the show. Like the tickets to the show, packages were offered at various levels, with the highest one costing NIS 5,000 for seating in the VIP area and accommodation in a fancy hotel. In addition, dozens of journalists from all over the world are coming to Israel to cover the event.

Diet Coca Cola, the main sponsor for the Israeli show, offered some special deals on Facebook, the winners of which are given the opportunity to upgrade their tickets to seats within the Diamond area, which actually inside the stage.

Sources in the U.S. entertainment industry estimate that Madonna will draw in additional revenues of $75 million in merchandise sales and a further $10 million for broadcasting rights and DVDs of the show.

Ian Gampon