It doesn't cost anything to think, and I was pondering this last night: Something that U2 could consider for future tours, when playing during the spring/summer/fall months.
Based on fan feedback from the experience, innocence and Citi presales, a significant portion of U2's devoted fan base simply wants access to great rock 'n roll with GA admission. This concept runs counter to an arena style tour, simply due to the fact that you can't fit 15,000-20,000 people on a hockey arena floor.
What about a companion event? Example: the band books the arena tour. We all know that corporate "ins", season ticket holders, venue and promotional holdbacks etc, etc. impact the supply of tickets that are available in US/Canadian arenas. So fine, proceed with the arena dates that they want to have, let's say for the sake of argument 2 shows per arena. But for each city, they could also do a mostly GA concert at a location such as the Hippodrome in Montreal, Trafalgar Square in London (I know this would require approvals and planning for some spots), Central Park in NYC (again, approvals) etc. etc. Don't worry about intricate and costly conceptual staging...just two large video screens and a simple, effective festival style stage. Sure, they could offer a bit of expensive VIP side-stage seating at these "GA" shows for the people who want to feel special about themselves (like we do in Ottawa, ON for Bluesfest) but for the most part it would be one, simple affordable price (say $100.00 per GA ticket, all fees/taxes in). This would take care of four requirements:
1-It would increase the supply of U2 GA tickets in a given market for those who wish to see a U2 show from that vantage point, thereby impacting the pricing that scalpers can charge: More supply = less demand = lower prices.
2-It would still allow U2 to play arenas with their tour-specific conceptual staging, and stay profitable. Remember, the staging/setup for the GA larger venue/field show would be far less intricate and costly to setup, tear down, and run.
3-It would satisfy those who wish to see the tour in the arena as it is currently, have the disposable income for premium ticket prices, while also offering some GA options and sensible pricing in the arena for those who are lucky enough to score the seats.
4-It would give the band an opportunity on the GA specific show to deviate from static set lists, play new tracks, b-sides etc. since a larger proportion of that audience is likely to be of a die-hard, longtime fan type. I think without a rigid structure to adhere to, U2 could really do some amazing things and let the music speak for itself....maybe re-discover the "Slack Alice" sound, as Bono once said.
I know that you can't please everyone, and unfortunately, the current model being employed doesn't seem to be pleasing anyone. Bottom line, as a concept, this would produce a show that a lot of die hard GA loving U2 fans would probably appreciate, and make more GA's available to the general public. If the power of technology can weed out scalpers, the power of technology could also go a long way to making such shows special...think of a live Twitter fan vote for a segment of songs to be played during the show.
Personally, I love all of U2's work, would go to all types of shows, and I am not a huge fan of GA. My wife is 4' 11" tall, and I'm 5' 7". So unless it's a stadium show, GA is useless to me because someone taller than me always blocks my view. Therefore, I tend to spring for the seats, or Red Zone on this tour. I'm lucky in that I am ok with paying for the VIP Gold or Silver seats. I don't spend on much else unless it's guitars, U2, Bruce Springsteen or Eric Church, and I know the days for which I'll be able to see Bruce or U2 perform are numbered. So though I think ticket prices have gone up significantly, I realize that supply and demand sets the market and I cut back on other expenses where I can to subsidize my concert fix.
Anyways, YMMV, just some thoughts, I realize that some of these ideas may run counter to the basic concept of economics.....coincidently, so did the ZooTV tour ;-)