If Aldean show goes off without hitch, Sanford could play host to more concerts

The guys who play between the hedges are making way for the country boys tonight in Sanford Stadium.

The Associated Press
Sanford Stadium is hosting its first concert of its storied history Saturday night.

Jason Aldean and Luke Bryan headline the first concert ever in the football stadium, which holds more than 92,000 on fall Saturdays and will have some 65,000 for the “Night Train” concert.

The next big attractions coming to the stadium will be visiting teams South Carolina and LSU in September, but what about another big music act?

The Bulldogs have some opinions on who should crank out the music next in their home.

“I’d like to see Bruce Springsteen and the Stones,” tight end Arthur Lynch said. “Those guys are pretty cool. Most of Led Zeppelin’s still intact. Those three would be my top three to see at Sanford. Rap — Jay-Z — would be tight too.”

Jay-Z is touring stadiums this summer with Justin Timberlake, including a date at the Rose Bowl, which hosts the BCS national title game this coming season.

Defensive end Sterling Bailey says he’d pick another rapper to see in Sanford.

“I’d probably have to go with Drake,” Bailey said. “His music just speaks to a lot of people, you know? His is on different levels. His lyrics, everybody can connect with it. I’ve really been a big fan of his.”

Future concerts are possible, but Georgia athletic director Greg McGarity said don’t expect it every year.

“It’s not something that was set up to do annually,” McGarity said. “It was more or less a test case because we’ve never done it before. … If it does come off successful, I think it gives you another option to consider in the future. A way of using your venue and creating events that generate revenue for the city and county and that are just good for the university community and the Athens community.”

Georgia got a guarantee of $250,000 for the concert and expects to make about $100,000 after expenses for law enforcement, clean-up and stadium personnel. That money will be used for any restoration of the field and to renovate the irrigation system, which McGarity said will save from 2 million to 2.5 million gallons of water annually.

Other Southeastern Conference stadiums will be hosting concerts this spring.

Country stars Kenny Chesney and Zac Brown Band play Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia, S.C., on May 4.

LSU’s Tiger Stadium is hosting the Bayou Country Superfest on May 25-26. Acts include Lady Antebellum, Zac Brown Band, Miranda Lambert and Bryan.

“There are only a few artists that would be able to perform in a stadium that could draw 60,000 people,” McGarity said. “To really make it work, you’ve got to have those type numbers because of the enormity of the expense it is to set up and take it down. It is amazing the amount of work that has gone on.”

Georgia associate athletic director Josh Brooks has been “Mr. Concert,” McGarity said.

Brooks has overseen for the athletic department the transformation from football to a concert since last Saturday’s G-day.

Georgia coach Mark Richt, quarterback Aaron Murray and Lynch were among those at a pep rally with Aldean last October at Legion Field to reveal the concert in Sanford.

Defensive end Ray Drew said he wants to attend tonight’s concert. He already has met at shows or at Georgia’s football facility Charlie Daniels, Aldean, Bryan, Blake Shelton and Florida-Georgia Line.

“I like all kinds of music,” Drew said. “The only kind of music that I don’t really like is like heavy metal, type of scream music. I’ll pretty much listen to any kind of music so it doesn’t too much matter.”

McGarity was on the athletic staff at Florida when the Rolling Stones played Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in November 1994 after the Gators played their last home game of the season.

The Athens native was backstage with his father in Stegeman Coliseum on May 6, 1967, for a sold-out concert of 17-year-old Stevie Wonder and The Temptations.

Now, he’ll be in Sanford Stadium tonight for the concert in the football stadium.

Years ago, a promoter wanting to book Bruce Springsteen and later Athens stars R.E.M. at the stadium was rebuffed by Georgia, but now the first Sanford concert is here.

“I think people are going to be absolutely shocked at the size of the stage, at all the accessories like the lights,” McGarity said. “It is really going to be a show.”

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