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Tuesday, Feb 7, 2023

Big Top Rises at Del Mar Fairgrounds for Cirque’s Latest Acts

The Cirque du Soleil likes San Diego.

One reason is strong ticket sales, according to Heather Riley, general manager for Cirque du Soleil’s Corteo.

“Our 22,000-square-foot tent gets great visibility from Interstate 5 at the Del Mar Fairgrounds, which prompts more interest and sales,” Riley said.

The Montreal-based entertainment empire stopped in San Diego most recently while on tour with Quidam, one of the troupe’s six traveling shows, at the end of 2005.

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“San Diego is typically a good city for us. We sold well over 30,000 tickets before the show’s January 11 premier,” Riley said.

She says the tent’s 2,700 seats will not sell out for every show until after the premier, but the goal of 100,000 tickets sold will likely be achieved quickly, she said.

While the cast and crew of shows are permanent employees of Cirque, the company contracts both a general and specialized technical labor force.

“Locally, we’ve hired about 100 people before Corteo is set to begin, and we typically double that staff after the show starts,” Riley said.

Jobs include ushering, merchandise sales, food and beverage concessions, box office sales, cooks and dining room attendants.

Riley says that in temporary labor alone Corteo should account for more than a half a million dollars in local labor payroll.

“We purchase diesel fuel for the shows locally, all food that we use is local, and we rent local apartments to house our staff. So the economic impact for San Diego is in the excess of millions,” Riley said.

Internationally, the business has more than 3,800 employees, including nearly 1,000 artists. At Cirque’s 1984 inception, 73 people worked for the company.

Cirque du Soleil has not received grants from the public or private sectors since 1992, and the touring shows have made nearly 250 stops in over 100 cities worldwide since it began.

Tickets for the monthlong run of Corteo sell for $50 to $85 and can be purchased at www.cirquedusoleil.com.

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Toy Alert:

Toy costs may rise in the United States as a result of last year’s recalls of products made in China, says one local manufacturer.

Jean Rivaldi is the marketing director for Wiggity Bang Games LLC, a local board game company founded by Rivaldi’s husband Matthew Rivaldi, Jeremy Fifer and L.A. resident Robb Earnest, in 2005.

Wiggity Bang games are sold locally at Geppetto’s, Paradise Games and Game Towne.

“Our products are made in China, and after the recalls and lead scares last year, we became very aware of how we would need to do business from then on,” Rivaldi said.

She said that while consumer skepticism of foreign made toys has heightened, being a small company has its advantages.

“We ensure that each batch of products is tested for hazardous materials, as opposed to random testing of certain batches,” Rivaldi said.

Rivaldi compared product cost in China to that in the United States for Wiggity Bang’s best-selling board game, called Quelf. The same game that costs $5 to produce in China would cost $10 in the United States.

The price increase for consumers would increase from the current $29.95 to more than $50 if produced domestically, she said.

Send retail news to Liz Wiedemann via e-mail at




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