Go big—or go home

by Alison Bonaguro
Special to the Tribune

Published June 20, 2008


This is Kenny Chesney, Keith Urban and more. This is seven hours in the summer sun. This is tens of thousands of country fans thrust into Soldier Field and its parking lots, ready to party. Do you know what it will take to survive? On the Town talked to opener Luke Bryan and a Soldier Field spokesperson about what to expect Saturday. "This is the Super Bowl of country shows," Bryan said.

Why should I come in when the music starts?

"It's hard to drag fans away from that parking lot vibe, into the arena where beers are more expensive. But I will entertain every butt in those seats," Bryan says.

What's so great about you?

 "Everyone loves singing my hits 'All My Friends Say' and 'Country Man.' And I may even do some old John Anderson covers," he says.

What are the parts not to miss?

"I'm a sucker for Kenny's 'Back Where I Come From.' I love when LeAnn [Rimes] does 'Something's Gotta Give.' And I'm an insane Gary Allan fan, so whatever he's doin', I'm diggin'.

 More tips from one who knows

■There will be potty parity, according to Luca Serra, senior sales manager at Soldier Field. "We'll convert bathrooms, so there's a 50/50 [gender] split."

■Invest in a poncho and sunblock, because this is a rain-or-shine event, and wear comfy shoes. You'll be standing much of the day, because of your enthusiasm or because fans in front of you are doing so. And if you bought a Sandbar seat near the stage, the chairs will be removed toward the end of the night.

■Have your pockets stuffed with cash to make concessions lines move. Domestic beers will be $7, bottled water $4.50 and Chicago dogs $5.75.

■Getting there, and home, can be tricky when 45,000 other folks are doing it too. Serra recommends public transportation. Take the Red, Orange or Green Line to Roosevelt, or a CTA bus. If you prefer cabs, there won't be any waiting when the show is over, so you'll have to trek to Michigan Avenue to find one.

■If you drive and want to tailgate, be aware that of the roughly 6,000 parking spots around Soldier Field, many are underground and don't allow open flames. So if you're hauling charcoal and coolers, get there when the lots open at 11 a.m. to secure a cookout space.

"Fans will be making a day of this, so if you come too late, you may be outta luck," warns Serra.


Kenny Chesney, Keith Urban, LeAnn Rimes, Gary Allan, Luke Bryan

When: 4 p.m. Saturday

Where: Soldier Field, 1400 S. Museum Campus Dr.

Price: $66.50-$99.50; 312-559-1212

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