If you’re planning (or hoping, at least) to attend the first-of-its-kind Tim McGraw concert taking place Thursday afternoon at BB&T Ballpark as part of the Belk Bowl FanFest, we wouldn’t blame you if you’re a little confused about how the whole thing is going to work.
We get it. It’s confusing. Even Dan Rajkowski, chief operating officer of the Knights, says so.
“It is a little unusual,” he said. “It is a unique type of idea. Logistically, it is a little more in-depth. But I think it’s a great way to thank the fans that supported the Belk Bowl by purchasing football tickets. I mean, to buy a football ticket and get an opportunity to see Tim McGraw for free is quite an opportunity. ... And I think we’ve got enough people and enough help to communicate the logistics.”
We won’t bore people who are already familiar with too many of the basics. Here’s the short version: The concert starts at 2 p.m. Thursday at BB&T Ballpark, 3 1/2 hours before the start of the game between Arkansas and Virginia Tech at nearby Bank of America Stadium. If you have a ticket to the game, you’re eligible to see McGraw’s performance for free; you just need to be among the first-come, first-served to redeem your Belk Bowl ticket for a concert voucher at the BB&T Ballpark ticket office between 2 and 7 p.m. Wednesday or 8 and 11 a.m. Thursday. We’ll leave it at that. If you need further details on how to prepare, click here.
Meanwhile, these are some of the things you might not know about Thursday’s show, based on our conversation earlier this week with Rajkowski:
▪ The stage will be situated in straightaway center field; workers started building it on Tuesday morning. On Wednesday morning, the Knights were set to put down inch-thick portable flooring (rented from the Durham Bulls) that covers the entire outfield and protects the grass. It’s porous hard plastic, so sunlight and rainwater can still get to the grass.
▪ The Belk Bowl sold out all four tiers of its “Super Fan” tickets, which came with guaranteed field access. The official count on those? One thousand. The remaining field passes will be distributed – until they’re gone – to Belk Bowl ticketholders during the redemption hours listed above.
▪ Everyone who has tickets that put them on the field should be prepared to stand during the show.
▪ Fans will not be allowed on the infield, which will be roped off.
▪ There’ll be portable toilets and temporary concession stands set up on the field.
▪ Fans who don’t wind up on the field will not be able to choose where they sit, but will be assigned seats by the Knights – again, on a first-come, first-served basis.
▪ Throughout the building, all permanent concession stands will be open, although the menus “probably won’t be as extensive as what’s offered during the baseball season,” Rajkowski said.
▪ McGraw’s production team will utilize the stadium’s 30-by-82-foot HD videoboard, which is in left-center field and consists of nearly 3 million LED lamps.
A couple of other interesting things to consider:
▪ BB&T Ballpark has hosted three other concerts of note since opening in 2014. In September 2015, Gin Blossoms played on a stage set up on the dirt at first base, in front of a couple thousand people attending The Charlotte Beerfest. This past July, The Oak Ridge Boys performed on a stage at second base for a crowd of 3,000-4,000; that was a private event for military veterans. And in August, Dark Star Orchestra also played on a stage at first base, with about 2,000 people attending the first standalone concert at the ballpark. However, none of those shows allowed fans on the field, so the setup for the Tim McGraw show is unprecedented.
▪ If Thursday’s show is a success, it’s conceivable the Belk Bowl FanFest could have a new permanent home here. The Knights do not, however, have plans to throw themselves into the concert business. Although ... “I think we’ll do them if the right opportunity is there. But Charlotte has so many great venues that you can go to: PNC (Music Pavilion), the Music Factory, Spectrum Arena ... My goal with this ballpark, when we built it, certainly baseball is our number one thing that we look at... We want to keep this venue – as I often say, ‘keep the lights on it as much as we can.’ We play play 72 home baseball games, we’ve had college baseball, we had the (2016 Triple-A) All-Star Game, and we’ve done a couple smaller concerts. If we can do something that protects the integrity of the field, and it makes financial sense for us, we’re gonna do it.”
Oh, and in case you’re wondering: As of Wednesday morning, the forecast for Thursday afternoon in Charlotte shows 60-61 degrees under partly sunny skies, and just a 20 percent chance of precipitation. It could get breezy, though: Winds of 17-18 mph are predicted, with gusts up to 23-25.