SAN ANTONIO — Country-music superstar Eric Church canceled his upcoming show at the AT&T Center, but it's his reasoning that has some fans calling him "extremely selfish."
In an email sent to those who bought a ticket to the Saturday show, Church wrote that he'll instead watch North Carolina and Duke square off in the Final Four in New Orleans.
Calling himself "a lifelong Carolina basketball fan," Church said he and his family were going to cheer the Tar Heels on instead of playing in San Antonio.
"This is also the most selfish thing I've ever asked The Choir (Church's name for his fanbase) to do: to give up your Saturday night plans with us so that I can have this moment with my family and sports community," the musician wrote, in an attempt to appeal to fans. "However, it's that same type of passion felt by the people who fill the seats at our concerts that makes us want to be part of a crowd at a game of this significance."
UNC and Duke, regarded as the staunchest rivalry in men's college basketball, is facing off for the first time in the NCAA Final Four after 256 regular-season meetings.
Still, the historic matchup isn't good enough for fans who were expecting to see Church play Saturday night. And they let the musician know about it on social media.
Charlie Sanders, a fan from Miami who's seen Church play before, says he planned an entire vacation around the concert in San Antonio.
"I get it. If the Dolphins were going to the Super Bowl, I would absolutely scrap my schedule to go. But guess what? I'm not a performer," he said in an interview with KENS 5.
Sanders says he wonders why Church scheduled a concert during the Final Four. He added that he's frustrated organizers do not currently plan to reschedule the concert.
"I'm a little upset. A little salty," he added with a smile. "I tell you what, the Tar Heels better win this damn thing, Eric, or I'm going be super mad."
Sanders says he still plans to stay in San Antonio this weekend.
Paige Felter, a ticketholder from San Antonio, said she gasped when she found out the show is cancelled.
"I was angry at first. Then disappointed," she said in an interview with KENS 5. "But I kind of understand. If it was my team going to the Final Four in a game like that against our rival... I'd want to be there too, if I could."
She joked that she couldn't listen to Church's music on the day she learned she wouldn't see the artist in San Antonio, but that feeling has since faded.
"Everybody deserves to have an off-day," she added. "This is just a decision he had to make for him and his family. Ultimately he chose his family, and I can't really blame for him."
Other fans were not as understanding.
The backlash was harsh on Facebook, where one person called the decision "extremely disrespectful" while another said "you have lost fans permanently."
Stephanie Hobbs, who had plans to fly in from Georgia for the show, told KENS 5 directly about her disappointment, saying the cancellation especially stings "with airline flights so expensive right now."
"We are livid about this," Hobbs said. "My brother, who lives in Austin, had literally just bought two tickets yesterday and booked his room and he cancels less than 24 hours later. This is the most unprofessional and selfish thing!"
The AT&T Center's website confirms the cancellation, saying everyone who bought a ticket "will be refunded automatically." It's unclear if the concert will be made up at a later date, but Church is still set to play at Fort Worth's Dickies Arena Friday night.