Preparations for U2's concert this weekend began last Sunday, as production and work crews continue to make way for the largest stage ever built on the St. Louis leg of the largest-grossing world tour in history. The stage (seen above in a photo illustration created before the setup began), which runs from "about 18 feet off the center field wall, the decking material goes to about 10 feet in front of the dirt line at second base," according to Vicki Bryant, Vice President of Event Services & Merchandising for the St. Louis Cardinals, "so it's enormous."
With a now-grass-free field, floor coverings spanning the entire field are in place and crews began building the stage yesterday, after having to lower the cranes onto the field through the tunnel with virtually no margin of error. Bryant says literally fitting the cranes into the stadium was one of the biggest challenges the construction crews faced.
"We had to do a test run and made it with all of three-eighths of an inch to spare, so it's a tight squeeze," says Bryant. "But nonetheless, we can do it."
Nearly a week to set up for a few hours of concert already seems like a lot of planning, but preparations for the concert have been underway for more than a year. "We had conversations about what's next, and we have been working on this show since late June of last year," Bryant said.
The new Busch stadium has hosted three shows before this one, and after a trip to Oakland, California earlier this summer to see U2's concert and stage set-up at the Oakland Coliseum, Bryant and the rest of the event staff felt confident about the band's stop in St. Louis.
"We got an opportunity to talk to the production and touring staff to get an idea and get ourselves prepared for what was coming to St. Louis and what we needed to do," Bryant said, "so that was huge for us and coming home we felt very comfortable and very prepared for this week."
U2's 360 tour is the largest-grossing tour in history, and it's reported to be the largest concert held in St. Louis since the Beatles performed at the old Busch Stadium in 1966.
"It will likely be the largest concert attended in the history of this marketplace," Bryant said. The concert has an expected audience of 53,000.
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