MANILA — Rock superstar Sting, a known environmentalist, has forced organizers to move his planned one-night concert at the SM Mall of Asia Arena to another venue in response to a lobby by local environmental activists.
The Manila leg of the British singer’s “Back to Bass Tour” on December 9 will now be hosted by Smart Araneta Coliseum, said his official website.
Earlier in the day, the local concert promoters informed the MOA Arena that Sting had called off his show there, Arena general manager Arnel Gonzales said.
Sting announced his decision after learning that pine trees growing outside SM Baguio, which is owned by the same holding company that owns the MOA Arena, were being removed for an expansion program, Gonzales added.
“Somebody misled the Englishman In New York over the venue,” Gonzales told AFP, referring to one of the British-born star’s hit songs.
Gonzales said that while Arena and SM Baguio are sister companies, the concert venue had nothing to do with the trees’ transfer.
Environmentalists had sued SM Baguio earlier this year to stop the uprooting and relocation of 182 old trees, mostly pines, growing at its property.
The case sparked calls for a boycott of the SM chain, controlled by the family of the country’s richest man, billionaire developer Henry Sy.
The mall chain said it had secured permits to remove the trees, but the transfer of all 182 trees to a government lot had not been completed due to the civil suit, which remains on trial.
“It’s something that we did not expect,” Gonzales said of the cancellation of the Arena concert.
Sting, former frontman of The Police, founded the Rainforest Foundation in 1989 with wife Trudie Styler.
In a statement issued to local media, SM MOA Arena lamented that Sting was influenced by a letter sent to his agents by Cheryl Daytec-Yangot, a former lawyer for the group Project Save 182.
“With this letter to Sting, it seems that the activists behind Project Save 182 are bent on taking down the SM brand in general,” the SM MOA Arena said in an accompanying press release.
“Sting, a voice of the oppressed, cannot sing in the halls of the oppressor,” Daytec-Yangot related telling Sting’s agents on her Facebook account. After her successful lobby, she remarked: “I love you, Sting! With every breath I take!…”
According to Sting’s website, fans who have already bought tickets for the MOA Arena show can exchange them for the new venue starting Thursday, October 25 at a special window at the Ticketnet Office located at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
“Reserved seat tickets have been carefully reassigned so that fans that had a reserved ticket at the MOAA will receive a comparable reserved ticket in the new venue,” the website said.
Fans who wish to refund their tickets must do so at SM Tickets no later than Sunday, November 18.