This was announced in October, but today seems like as good a time as any to remind folks who may have forgotten amid the holiday hubbub: Three-time Grammy Award-winning country singer Tim McGraw will be in Charlotte on Dec. 29 to kick off the Belk Bowl.
And, to reiterate, the big news is that stage and the setup of the Belk Bowl Fanfest concert will move this year to BB&T Ballpark, home of the Charlotte Knights, after several years of being somewhat awkwardly situated at Mint and Stonewall streets across from Bank of America Stadium.
The weekday-afternoon concert – Dec. 29 is next Thursday (!) – has a scheduled start time of 2 p.m. That’s 3 1/2 hours before kickoff of the Belk Bowl, which will feature a matchup between the Arkansas Razorbacks and the 18th-ranked Virginia Tech Hokies. The game will be played less than two blocks away, at Bank of America Stadium.
But whereas in the past these Fanfest concerts have been free, the only way to get into BB&T Ballpark for the show is if you first purchase a ticket to the game.
Obtaining a concert voucher will be pretty straightforward for bowl-game ticketholders, although it will require just a little bit of advance planning and legwork. Next Wednesday and Thursday, Belk Bowl ticketholders can redeem their game tickets for vouchers for McGraw’s concert at the BB&T Ballpark ticket office. Game tickets will be scanned to verify authenticity.
Single tickets to the game range from $35.43 to $149.18 before taxes and fees. (The attractive Chick-Fil-A four-pack deal – four Belk Bowl tickets for the price of three plus four promo cards for chicken sandwiches and a coupon for $30 off a purchase of $100 or more at Belk – is sold out.)
It’s worth noting, of course, that no more than 10,000 concert vouchers will be distributed (that’s in line with the stadium’s capacity for Knights games), and demand could conceivably exceed supply; in the past, huge crowds have congregated outside of Bank of America Stadium to watch free performances by Daughtry and Edwin McCain (2011), Lady Antebellum (2012), Blake Shelton (2013), Miranda Lambert (2014) and Carrie Underwood (2015).
But there is a way to get guaranteed access to the concert, via a variety of “Super Fan Packages” available at BelkBowl.com/tickets for $75-$150 per person. Each of those “super fan” tickets will put you on the field for the show, so it’s kind of like a pit pass. (Each also includes a ticket to the Belk Bowl, so it’s also a roundabout way for the host to try to put fans in seats at Bank of America Stadium.)
Anyway, this seems like a big win for people who have loved catching the free Belk Bowl shows in the past but who have not really loved the setup. Last year, for example, even though a steady rain thinned the crowds for Underwood, all the open umbrellas combined with the awkward layout of the stage and the viewing areas made for poor sightlines on almost all sides.
And even those who don’t make it into BB&T Ballpark can enjoy the show, albeit not first-hand: The concert will be live-streamed on large video screens at Romare Bearden Park, which is just across Mint Street from the ballpark, and on screens outside of Bank of America Stadium, where other FanFest activities will be held.
McGraw’s show, by the way, will be just the second standalone concert BB&T Ballpark has hosted since opening in March of 2014. On Aug. 2 of this year, Grateful Dead tribute band Dark Star Orchestra performed on the field.
Oh, and in case you’re wondering, next Thursday’s forecast is calling for cloudy skies and a high of 58 degrees, with just a 15 percent chance of precipitation. We realize it’s awfully early to try to predict the conditions, but surely we aren’t the only ones who’ll be watching the weather closely as the day nears...