Safeco Field crew works 8 days a week to prepare for Sir Paul
Paul McCartney will play the first-ever large-scale concert at Safeco Field on Friday, July 19. It’s taking a team of 250 people almost a week to prepare.
Seattle Times staff reporter
If you go
Paul McCartney at Safeco Field
Gates to the ballpark open at 6:30 p.m. Friday for the 8 p.m. show. There are scattered, single, no-view or view-obstructed tickets available through Ticketmaster; $52-77 (800-745-3000 or www.ticketmaster.com) and some premium seating available through Safeco; $250-$300 per seat, $4,000 per suite.
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Tony Pereira doesn’t travel much as Safeco Field’s senior director of ballpark operations. Neither does Bob Christoferson as the field’s head groundskeeper.
But both men flew across the country last week — Pereira to Boston, Christoferson to Washington, D.C. — on the same mission.
Pereira arrived in Boston to observe Paul McCartney’s July 9 show at Fenway Park. Christoferson went to D.C. for the week of McCartney’s July 12 show at Washington Nationals ballpark.
Neither was there for the music. They were trying to figure out how to pull off the first big concert at Safeco Field.
Friday, ex-Beatle and solo legend Paul McCartney will play a virtually sold-out show from center field.
This will be the first major pop concert and one of the largest events ever held at Safeco. (The Beach Boys played Safeco in 2008 in conjunction with Microsoft’s annual company meeting, but that was a semiprivate event.) Five days after the park’s 14th birthday, about 45,000 people will fill it for McCartney’s “Out There” tour. A crowd of 47,000 attended the field’s at-capacity opening game in July 1999.
The concert requires 31 trucks of gear, including lasers and fireworks; 70,000 watts of state-of-the-art audio equipment; and about 250 people to put it all together. It’s taking almost a full week to load everything in, set it up and produce the show.
“It is a bit of a challenge in the middle of baseball season,” Pereira said.
McCartney will sing from a stage 164 feet wide by 80 feet deep, “out there” — in center field, pointed toward home plate. Two giant LED screens will flank the center of the stage.
The concern with any non-baseball event on a baseball field is protecting the field itself, Pereira said. Safeco is renting protective flooring systems, some designed to withstand the weight of a crane.
Pereira’s biggest take-away from Fenway was clarifying the timeline. Before chairs could go on the field, the flooring platform had to be put in place. Safeco’s platform was installed at 2 p.m. Wednesday, earlier in the production timeline than at Fenway, because Pereira wanted to make sure there were no last-minute problems.
Pereira and crew are considering more concerts at Safeco in the future. The ballpark and Live Nation, a concert-promotion company, have been in dialogue since Safeco opened its doors, Pereira said.
“It’s just finding the right show,” he said. “But there is no question that there is a little bit of competition right across the street from us.”
On the other side of South Royal Brougham Way, Century Link’s 72,000 seats cater to acts that want more capacity. Kenny Chesney played to more than 47,000 fans at Century Link on June 1. (KeyArena’s 17,000 seats appeal to smaller acts, or those in town for more than one night.)
Pereira expressed excitement to see the show play out at his home field.
“People are going to love this show and they are going to love seeing it at Safeco,” he said.
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