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The Goo Goo Dolls return home in December, but the big news is that the Buffalo band will ring in the new year and close out the century before hundreds of thousands of people in Times Square.

The Goos will headline an MTV New Year's Eve celebration in New York City's Times Square in front of what might be the biggest live audience in history.

Also, the Goos, featuring Johnny Rzeznik and Robby Takac, come back to their hometown for a Dec. 1 concert at Shea's Performing Arts Center. Tickets ($25) go on sale Friday at 10 a.m. at Sheas and all Ticketmaster locations.

"Times Square is going to be a little crazy, but it's going to be an amazing event," Takac said late last week in a telephone interview from Tampa, Fla., where the band played on its current MP3 tour. "I mean, it's going to be weird playing in front of all those people on New Year's Eve. What a party."

David Schulz, another Buffalo native who plays keyboards for the Goos, can't wait. "The Times Square gig sounds great until you think about it," he said. "I just hope we get out of there alive. At least MTV is getting us a hotel room so we'll have a place to sleep."

Schulz joined the Goos' tour a year ago and has been with the band ever since. "We all can't wait to play Shea's in front of the hometown fans," he said.

Tickets are expected to go on sale for the Shea's concert in early October. It's the first Goo Goo Dolls gig in Buffalo in more than a year.

"The coolest part is just being back home for the holidays," Takac said. "We want to come back more often, and there's a lot of people we haven't seen in a long time."

The Goos also are expected to perform at U.S. military bases in Europe. "We're going to do a show on an aircraft carrier out at sea for the Navy," Takac said. "They're going to put us on a helicopter to get us there and back. How weird is that?"

It all adds up to a hectic schedule for the Goo Goo Dolls. In addition to touring, the group's current album, "Dizzy Up the Girl," has sold more than 2 million copies and is heading for the 3 million mark. Their current single, "Black Balloon," is selling strong after a string of Top 10 hits such as "Name," "Iris" and "Slide."

The Goos were featured in September as Artist of the Month on the VH1 cable music network, and on VH1's "Behind the Music" series. They also played a live televised VH1 concert on Labor Day.

The band has been touring nearly non-stop for two years, and Takac said they need a rest. "We're all tired but happy," he said. "We just don't have enough time to do all the things we want to do."

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