Entertainment News

YSU Sets the Stage for Blake Shelton

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — It was the calm before the storm Thursday at Stambaugh Stadium, as a small crew erected a stage on the 50-yard line for the Blake Shelton concert Saturday.

The massive west stand of the stadium was also eerily quiet. The only action there was from a handful of workers who were sticking fresh seat numbers on the bleachers. But on Saturday evening, those bleachers will be packed with cheering fans as they watch Shelton and his band on the stage.

Tickets to see the country superstar, plus two big-name opening acts, are selling at a pace that is ahead of last year’s Florida Georgia Line concert at the stadium, which set the attendance record for a performance in the city with just over 20,000. The stadium has a capacity of about 21,000 for the Shelton concert, which is the third in the annual Y Live series.

The stage faces the 15,000-seat west stand, and there will be about 6,000 portable seats on the field, said Eric Ryan, president of JAC Live, which is staging the Shelton concert. Some of those floor seats might have to be removed Friday depending on the size and location of stage barricades, technical equipment and other things.

Weather-wise, it should be a perfect day. The Saturday forecast calls for partly sunny skies with a high in the low 80s that will dip into the 60s at night.

The stage arrived Wednesday, neatly housed inside a transformable semitractor-trailer truck. The walls fold down to form the floor, exposing the stage roof inside. Motors expand and elevate the roof after the stage is ready.

A couple of accompanying trucks hauling rigging and construction poles are also part of the stage convoy.

About 10 stagehands started building the stage Thursday morning. Phoebe Breckenridge, JAC marketing assistant and spokesperson, said it should be ready by Friday morning.

Shelton and the other artists will show up several hours before the 7 p.m. concert Saturday to do a sound check. Because Shelton is not currently on tour – the Youngstown show is the only concert on his schedule – the sound check and other preshow tasks will not be so rushed, Breckinridge said.

Gates will open at 5:30 p.m. Tailgating in the YSU tailgate lot and elsewhere will have started well before then, if last year is any indication.

It has been a challenging summer for JAC Management and its promotional arm, JAC Live. The company operates the new Youngstown Foundation Amphitheatre, which opened in June, and also presented a few concerts at Covelli Centre and at the Canfield Fair.

The Blake Shelton concert is by far the biggest show JAC will do this year. Breckenridge said the crew has been working on it for months and won’t be able to exhale until Saturday.

“When the first song starts, it will be emotional,” she said. “It will be a moment.”

Tyler Farr will take the stage first, followed by Justin Moore. It will be dark by the time Shelton and his band start playing, and that’s just how they want it.

“He has a really cool video stage production,” Breckinridge said.

Some road construction is blocking a short stretch of Fifth Avenue, between the stadium and downtown, but Ken Bigley, JAC vice president, said the campus police will direct traffic to keep it flowing.

Copyright 2019 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.