Moncton preps for record-breaking U2 concert
Moncton is preparing to welcome as many as 100,000 music fans to the southeastern New Brunswick city to watch the final concert of U2's record-setting tour.
The Irish rock band wraps up its 360 Tour in Moncton on Saturday at the Magnetic Hill outdoor concert venue, the same location that has previously hosted bands such as the Rolling Stones and AC/DC.
Moncton Mayor George LeBlanc said he is expecting U2 to draw a larger crowd than any of the earlier mega-concerts. A record crowd is also expected to earn the city a windfall of cash.
The Rolling Stones drew 78,000 fans to their 2005 concert, the previous record. Moncton officials predicted after the U2 concert was announced that as many as 100,000 people could pack into the outdoor concert venue.
"We would expect that it would probably be somewhere in the range of $15 million and up," LeBlanc said of the concert's estimated economic benefit to the city.
"We were looking at about, I believe, 75,000 to 85,000 people then [in 2005], and the economic benefit from that was about $15 million, so we expect it will be equal to that if not greater."
The Moncton concert is U2's first appearance in Atlantic Canada and it is capping off a record-breaking concert tour.
The concert tour kicked off in Barcelona in the summer of 2009, and has passed the $558-million threshold in revenue, making it the highest-grossing music tour of all time. Some industry estimates suggest the tour could gross roughly $700 million by the time the Moncton concert wraps up.
The city's mayor said officials worked hard to bring the tour's final show to New Brunswick.
"This is a very big show.… This is the biggest, most successful tour in history for a rock band," LeBlanc said.
"We're having the grand finale of the world tour right here in Moncton, so that's pretty special. It's going to be big. It's going to be very big. And you know, whatever the challenges are, we will meet them."
One of the challenges the city had to overcome was the layout of the Magnetic Hill venue.
LeBlanc said the outdoor concert site had to be adapted to fit U2's massive stage.
"Because of the nature of the stage, it's not really meant for an outdoor downhill type of concert venue like this," LeBlanc said.
"But we've made some adaptations so that they can get the stage on level ground, and it's ready to go."
Montreal's Arcade Fire will make a special appearance at the concert. The Canadian indie rockers won a Grammy Award in February for album of the year.
The Moncton concert was added in January after months of speculation that the Irish rock band would visit the city. Tickets are still available at prices ranging from $84 to $226 including fees.
Environment Canada meteorologist Linda Libby said a trough of low pressure will be crossing the Maritimes Saturday.
She's predicting rain all day, ending around 9 p.m.
"There's still a possibility it can be adjusted a little bit further," said Libby. "It could get worse, it could get better, so this is one of those cases people need to be prepared for what could happen."
Libby said that with the cloud cover temperatures will stay down and Moncton will be lucky to reach 20 C.
Don Rittwage, an experienced outdoorsman, said he's planning to dress in layers, including raincoat and hat, for Saturday's show.
"I might bring a couple of those survival blankets — one for sitting on and one for having over my knees if I'm sitting on the ground."
Rittwage also recommends footwear that's comfortable and waterproof, or at least dries quickly.
U2 is expected to hit the stage after dark — right when the rain is forecast to stop.