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Hard day's night at the park: Cincinnati preps for McCartney

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Associated Press/Charles Sykes
Paul McCartney onstage July 16 at Yankee Stadium. He sold out two shows there.

Before Paul McCartney thrills his fans here Thursday, he'll rock the world of Great American Ball Park workers for an entire week.

The Reds will use about 120 people in around-the-clock shifts to transform the baseball field for its first concert - and return it to normal.

Plastic flooring will be placed over the entire outfield for 8,000 folding chairs and the stage in deep center field for what is scheduled to be the last stop of McCartney's On The Run tour.

Another plastic surface will cover the outfield warning track so cranes can erect the stage canopy for lights, speakers and huge video screens.

Up to 40,000 can be seated in the park for the concert, about 2,300 fewer than for a Reds game. No outfield stands or gates will be used for the concert.

Tickets are still available, said the promoter.

For three months, Reds ballpark operations chief Declan Mullin has been preparing this week's hour-by-hour timetable.

"We've got a lot to do. It's an army," he said.

Opening Day was never like this.

Mullin also wrote a security plan - with metal-detection wands and a stadium bomb sweep - that had to be approved by the FBI anti-terrorism task force and McCartney's managers.

"There are so many security needs, because who the artist is," said Mullin, who worked on McCartney's 1993 concert at Riverfront Stadium (demolished to build Great American Ball Park) before he joined the Reds organization in 2000.

The first of 37 tractor-trailers for the former Beatle's tour arrived here Friday.

Plans called for furniture to be removed from the visitors clubhouse and 12 other rooms before the Mercy Me post game concert ends today.

That concert follows the Red-Giants game, which starts at 1:10 p.m. The rooms will used by McCartney concert promoter AEG Live.

"From 6 p.m. Sunday, to the completed load-out the following Saturday at 6 p.m., will be 140 straight hours of work," Mullin said.

AEG Live takes control of the facility at 4 a.m. Monday, when cranes unload the first of 12 trucks of steel scaffolding. The scaffolding will have come from McCartney's two Montreal concerts last week.

The Reds are renting the facility Monday through Saturday to AEG Live and will collect an undisclosed fee.

Team executives had discussed internally having concerts at the park since it opened in 2003, but didn't pursue them until Bob Castellini took over before the 2006 season, Mullin said.

"When Bob Castellini bought the team, the opportunity to add non-traditional revenue that funds the team became a priority, and that let us be more aggressive going after concerts," Mullin said.

AEG Live takes control of the facility at 4 a.m. Monday, when cranes unload the first of 12 trucks of steel scaffolding. Sound, light, and video equipment will be unloaded Tuesday. That night, workers will start covering the entire outfield with 4-by-5-foot Terraplas plastic flooring panels that will protect the outfield grass.

The infield will not be used.

"The infield is hallowed ground. We'll actually have it barricaded off," said Mullin, who sent scouts to Detroit's Comerica Park for McCartney's show last Sunday.

Concert-goers will notice the differences from Reds games when they enter the park and see metal-detection wands.

The Reds also have new restrictions on items that can't be brought into concerts.

"We've been asked by the promoter and Paul McCartney's management company to wand more people when they come in. Everyone will be subject to search," he said.

About 625 people will work the concert, 50 percent more than on Opening Day, he said.

At McCartney's request, more vegetarian selections will be at concession stands.

Veggie hot dogs will be sold at all concession stands - they're only at some for Reds games - and veggie burgers and veggie trays will be at many concession stands, said Lauren Werner, the Reds' liaison with SportsService.

Beer and wine will be sold in the dugouts for those with field seats. Portable toilets will be placed in outfield corners to augment the park's existing facilities.

Nine huge temporary stairs will be built on the warning track so field seat ticket-holders can go up and over the outfield wall to access concessions and restrooms.

The Reds' emergency evacuation plans include "blowing a hole in the back of the visitor's bullpen wall" in right field so people could exit onto Mehring Way, he said.

When the crowd heads home late Thursday, the Reds' job will be half finished.

Everything has to be undone for the Reds-Rockies game Monday night, Aug. 8.

"When the confetti is shot off on the last song, and Sir Paul takes his bow, then we can start getting the chairs stacked, the floor swept, the Terraplas up, and getting the cranes in to start taking down the stage," Mullin said.

Groundskeepers will start replacing sod at 6 p.m. Saturday, when the field is clear.

"From Saturday night until batting practice Monday afternoon, that's the field recovery time," Mullin said.

 

Last Updated: 07/31/11 10:30
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News Summary

Before Paul McCartney thrills his fans here Thursday, he'll rock the world of Great American Ball Park workers for an entire week.