It’s the Greatest Show on Earth. It’s been an American tradition and icon for over 146 years, but on Saturday night FELD Entertainment announced that it would be ending the tradition in 2017, forever. In a letter on their website, Chairman and CEO Ken Feld offered a statement about the future of the Circus.
After much evaluation and deliberation, my family and I have made the difficult business decision that Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey® will hold its final performances in May of this year. Ringling Bros. ticket sales have been declining, but following the transition of the elephants off the road, we saw an even more dramatic drop. This, coupled with high operating costs, made the circus an unsustainable business for the company.
Nearly 50 years ago, my father founded our company with the acquisition of Ringling Bros. The circus and its people have continually been a source of inspiration and joy to my family and me, which is why this was such a tough business decision to make. The decision was even more difficult because of the amazing fans that have become part of our extended circus family over the years, and we are extremely grateful to the millions of families who have made Ringling Bros. part of their lives for generations. We know Ringling Bros. isn’t only our family business, but also your family tradition.
Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey® Presents Circus XTREME will conclude its tour at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center in Providence, R.I., on May 7, 2017, and Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey® Presents Out Of This World will conclude its tour at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale, N.Y., on May 21, 2017. We hope you will come to celebrate this American icon for one last time before our tours conclude.
Our company provides quality, live family entertainment, and we invite you to bring your family to one of our other events, including Marvel Universe LIVE!, Monster Jam, Monster Energy Supercross, AMSOIL Arenacross, Disney On Ice and Disney Live!, as well as future productions.
Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey has served as inspiration for all of the live entertainment produced at Feld Entertainment. We learned from the circus, and applied those learnings to our other productions. Without Ringling Bros., we wouldn’t have the vibrant live entertainment company that we have today. Ringling Bros. will always be part of Feld Entertainment, and its spirit will live on in every production and project we do.
While the move is definitely shocking, it’s not altogether unexpected. Over the past few years, growing opposition from animal activists, and political pressure has all but banned the Circus in some parts of the country. Add in the fact that there are more entertainment options out there than ever before, and the recipe doesn’t bode well for the Circus. Families can see animals in realistic habitats and actually learn things in places like SeaWorld and several zoos all over the world. While the Circus was a favorite for millions for years, today’s youth needs everything to be more interactive and parents are constantly looking for new ways to help educate. That’s something that circuses just can’t deliver, while zoos and zoological parks are constantly finding new and exciting ways to bring animals closer to guests.
Still, the impact of the circus was felt for over a hundred years. Guests flocked to the Greatest Show on Earth every time Ringling came to town. By the middle of the 1900’s, the circus was an amazing escape, full of lions, tigers, death defying feats of strength and skill, and so much more.
The show will play over 30 locations until May of 2017, where guests will be able to say their final goodbyes. Feld Entertainment employs over 500 people with the touring shows, some of which will go on to their other shows, but most of which will lose their jobs. As for the animals, the company has found homes for many of their animals, and will continue to find great places for the rest. The elephants have been retired to the Center for Elephant Conservation and will live out the rest of their days there, away from the big top. In fact, that was one contributing factor. Once the elephants left, so did the crowds.
Feld Entertainment owns many different shows including Monster Jam, Marvel Live, and Disney on Ice, among others. Rumors have been circulating for almost two years now (click here), that has Disney purchasing Feld Entertainment within the year. The closing of the circus could be part of that deal. Disney has a long relationship with Feld Entertainment in regards to their ice shows and Marvel experiences, but taking on the circus could be too much of a PR nightmare for the Mouse House, who deals with animals at some of their theme parks. While nothing official has been announced, sources tell us that the deal could now happen, once the final show ends.
The final two touring circuses will end on May 7th and on May 21st. Be sure to get your tickets now, before the chance is gone forever.