By the time this newspaper hits your doorstep on Monday morning, the largest concert in Montana history will stand just 40 hours away.
Some 25,000 fans are expected to converge on Washington-Grizzly Stadium to see Paul McCartney light up the August night.
Planning for the crush of concert-goers, University of Montana officials have teamed up with local and state law enforcement agencies to help manage the crowd and traffic. They’re urging fans to arrive early and take a shuttle to the stadium.
“We’ve got 4,000 parking spaces on campus and 25,000 people coming to the show,” said Brad Murphy, executive director of the Adams Center. “We’re trying to emphasize that people come early. If everyone comes at 7 p.m., it won’t help.”
To alleviate congestion around the stadium, free shuttles will be provided to the stadium from both downtown Missoula parking garages. Shuttles will also ferry fans from Ogren-Allegiance Park, the current Missoula College site and the university’s parking pad on East Broadway.
Parking at the stadium will be provided where space is available, Murphy said. The north-end parking lot will cost motorists $15 while parking on the south end of campus will run $10.
Shuttles will begin running from the South Campus at 2 p.m. All other shuttles begin at 4 p.m. and parking opens in the afternoon. Concessions outside the stadium open at 5 p.m., offering beer and wine, local food vendors and Paul McCartney merchandise.
“Fans need to understand this isn’t like a football game,” Murphy said. “You can bring in a small purse and a clear water bottle. You can’t bring in a cooler. It’s much more secure and tight, and that’s to make it a great night for everyone.”
The university has posted a “concert survival list” on its website. The list includes the do’s and don’ts on Tuesday night - no strollers, guns, backpacks, noise makers, laser pointers or recording devices, excluding cell phones.
While UM Grizzly football games pack in 25,000 fans on any given fall Saturday, Murphy said many concertgoers will be new to Missoula. The pre-concert pace will vary from that before kickoff.
“When we have football games, a lot come the night before or five hours before the game,” Murphy said. “We don’t expect that as much with this show. We have to be more streamlined and efficient. We’ll have a lot more show up in a short period of time, and half these people haven’t been to the stadium before.”
Murphy said McCartney’s “Out There” concert will go down in the record books as the largest concert in Montana history. The Rolling Stones, who performed in 2006, will be bumped to second.
“We’re almost 2,000 tickets larger than the Stones,” Murphy said. “We’ve been working solidly on this for four months. We’ve got 600 people working the show.”
Gates open at 6 p.m. And yes, the M Trail will be open.