U2, Taylor Swift Help Boost North American Concert Ticket Sales 6.3 Percent in 2011

Biggest Bucks on Earth: U2 ($195 million)
Paul Bergen/Redferns/Getty Images

They're askin' for the check! Not surprisingly, the world's biggest band on history's biggest tour is also the biggest earner on Forbes' list.

UPDATED: L.A.'s Staples Center beats out New York's Madison Square Garden as top U.S. venue as concert revenue rises compared with 2010 but stayed below its 2009 peak.

Led by U2, the top 100 concert tours in North America sold $2.34 billion in tickets in 2011, up 6.3 percent from 2010, according to Pollstar magazine.

Meanwhile, Staples Center in Los Angeles became the top venue in North America and No. 7 in the world in terms of 2011 concert and show ticket sales.

The 12-year-old downtown arena sold 633,374 tickets last year, knocking out perennial North American chart champion Madison Square Garden in New York. The “World’s Most Famous Arena” was the runner-up by just 16,500 tickets sold. (Tickets for pro sports tenants like the NBA's Lakers and Knicks and the NHL's Kings and Rangers are not included.)

Click here for Pollstar’s rankings of the top ticket-selling 2011 arenas

U2 led the way among the top acts performing in 2011 with $156 million in gross ticket sales, followed by Taylor Swift with $97.7 million, Kenny Chesney with $84.6 million and Lady Gaga with $63.7 million, according to Pollstar. Industry revenue remained below its 2009 peak as consumers bought fewer tickets.

Staples booked 36 concerts last year and sold out 30 of them. Acts that played the building included Linkin Park, Juanes, Glee Live! in Concert, Usher, Rihanna, NKOTBSB, Josh Groban, Tony Bennett, Enrique Iglesias, Keith Urban, Chris Brown, Katy Perry and Bob Seger.

Special events included the Grammy Awards, the NBA’s All-Star Weekend, the Pacific-10 (soon to be the Pac-12) Basketball Tournament, ESPN’s X Games, Disney on Ice and Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey Circus.

PHOTOS: The Top 25 Concert Tours

Staples, owned and operated by AEG, also finished No. 1 in North America and fifth worldwide in Billboard magazine’s 2011 rankings, which span Nov. 10, 2010-Nov. 8, 2011. (Billboard had U2 as the year’s top-grossing act as well.)

“Considering the economic state our country is in, we feel honored that fans and guests still continue to spend their hard-earned dollars on live entertainment,” said Lee Zeidman, senior vp and GM of Staples Center, Nokia Theatre and L.A. Live.

The O2 in London, another AEG property, stood atop the Pollstar worldwide rankings for the fifth straight year (every year it has been in business), selling more than 1.9 million tickets in 2011. A total of 28 venues owned, operated or affiliated with AEG were on the Pollstar list of 200, with the company’s facilities accounting for nearly 9 million tickets sold across four continents.

Email: Georg.Szalai@thr.com

Email: Mike.Barnes@thr.com

Twitter: @georgszalai