By MICHAELA RITCHIE
Garth Brooks is returning to Calgary for the first time since his 2012 performance for the Calgary Stampede’s 100th birthday — or haven’t you already heard?
The buzz surrounding Brooks and wife Trisha Yearwood’s World Tour stop in Calgary has been nearly inescapable this summer. Their seven Calgary shows sold out within hours of going on sale — but if you’re one of the lucky few to have snagged some tickets, we’ve got everything you need to know before you hit the show.
Tip #1: Make sure you’ve got the right show
The Brooks and Yearwood tour was extended to seven shows in Calgary just a couple of hours after tickets initially went on sale. Finalized dates and times are as follows:
• Friday, Sept. 1 at 7 p.m.
• Saturday, Sept. 2 at 3 p.m.
• Saturday, Sept. 2 at 7:30 p.m.
• Sunday, Sept. 3 at 7:30 p.m.
• Friday, Sept. 8 at 7 p.m.
• Saturday, Sept. 9 at 3 p.m.
• Saturday, Sept. 9 at 7:30 p.m.
This is the first time a musician of this magnitude has come to play in Calgary for seven shows, with multiples playing on the same days in some cases. As such, concert-goers are reminded to make sure that they are headed to the right concert date and time listed on their ticket to avoid confusion at the venue. Don’t get caught at an evening show with an afternoon ticket!
Tip #2: Get your tickets beforehand
Fans are advised to obtain their tickets ahead of their concert date to avoid backlogging the box office the day of. The Saddledome Box Office is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday every week. On show days, the box office will remain open until after the performance starts, but don’t risk missing Brooks’ opening number just because you didn’t leave yourself enough time. Please have a photo ID and the credit card used to purchase the tickets on hand when picking up your tickets.
Tip #3: Travel smart
Parking is available at the Calgary Stampede and Scotiabank Saddledome lots for this event. However, parking at these lots will run you at least $15-25 a car, and space is limited, so be prepared to do some walking to get from your vehicle to the venue if you plan on driving.
The Victoria Park/Stampede and Erlton/Stampede CTrain stations, on the other hand, are located on either side of the Stampede grounds, providing quick access to the venue without the need to pay for parking. However, expect a high volume of travellers on trains these dates — it might be a cheaper option, but that will also make it more popular. Adult transit passes cost $3.25 one-way.
However you decide to make your way down to the grounds on the night of your concert, be prepared to deal with a massive influx of pedestrians, transit passengers, and vehicles, both as you show up and leave the venue and surrounding area. You don’t get to be the best-selling solo artist in American history without racking up a few million fans!
Tip #4: Be in the right place at the right time
Doors are expected to open to the Saddledome an hour to an hour and a half prior to the start of each show, giving attendees plenty of time to find their seats, and purchase snacks, drinks, and concert merchandise (more on that below). However, we suggest tacking on an extra 30 minutes at least to your travel time to allow for heavy traffic in the downtown area on these dates, especially being that the concerts take place during peak weekend hours.
Fans are also encouraged to make use of all available entries to the Saddledome on these dates, in order to keep to flow of bodies moving as evenly as possible. Each individual entrant should be ready to present their own ticket at the doors, and allow some extra time to follow the necessary security measures.
Tip #5: Don’t be THAT guy (a security problem)
The Saddledome security policy discourages the possession of weapons of any kind on the premises, including knives, pocket knives, mace, pepper spray and keychain pepper spray, blades, and tools. Anyone found in possession of these items will have them confiscated, and may risk being removed from the grounds.
In order to speed up the security process, event organizers also encourage patrons not to bring bags or purses with them. Backpacks and bags larger than 12” x 6” x 12” will not be permitted, and all bags are subject to search prior to entry.
Of course, being that we’re talking about a country concert here, the Saddledome is also expecting to see a lot of big belt buckles at the door. While fans are encouraged to deck themselves out in their Western best, be advised that all hats, large belt buckles, and select footwear may have to be removed during the security screening process.
Tip #6: No cameras, please!
It’s understandable that fans of Brooks and Yearwood might want to try to catch a memory of this concert on camera. Unfortunately, no commercial or flash photography is allowed at the Saddledome during concert events. Audio/visual equipment of any kind is prohibited unless otherwise authorized by Saddledome officials, the concert promoter, or the Garth Brooks team. Though cellphone cameras are permitted for use, the following items will not be allowed to enter the arena:
• Telephoto or zoom lenses
• Interchangeable lenses
• Monopods, tripods, or selfie sticks
• Flash equipment
• Audio and/or video recording devices
• iPads or tablets
Fans found in possession of these items have the option of either returning the equipment to their vehicle, or handing over equipment to Saddledome officials to be retrieved after the close of the concert.
Tip #7: Don’t come hungry
This one is pretty simple — don’t try to sneak any of your own snacks into the concert. Outside food and drink are not allowed to enter the Saddledome, but being that the grounds are just a short jaunt from 17th Avenue, there is no shortage of good grub within walking distance of the venue. For the perfect pre-concert meal, we recommend Mill Street Brewpub, Ox Bar and Tapas, or Vagabond. The Stampede is also famous for its offerings of wild eats and delicious drinks, and many of these goodies are made available year ’round to patrons in the Saddledome. Snack on classic mini donuts and fresh-squeezed lemonade to keep energized during the show. Alcoholic beverages will also be on tap around the venue — plenty of beer to chase your blues away!
Tip #8: Don’t light up
While the music is sure to light up your night with ease, the Saddledome does not permit smoking of any kind inside its facilities. Smoking areas are provided outside around the grounds for patrons in need — however, during this particular concert, re-entry to the arena if you have to step out will not be permitted, so if you must, have a puff before the concert begins.
Tip #9: Settle in for the long haul
Garth’s 2012 Calgary show boasted a set list 23 songs long, which included two rounds of encores. His world tour set list with Trisha Yearwood has varied at previous stops between 26 and 32 songs — so Calgary fans can expect at least a good two and a half to three hours of musical mastery from the duo. Featured classics will include timeless hits “If Tomorrow Never Comes,” “We Shall Be Free,” “The Thunder Rolls,” “Callin’ Baton Rouge,” “Wrapped Up In You,” and a handful of Brooks’ iconic covers, like that of Billy Joel hit “Shameless.”
As of Aug. 31, Saddledome customer service was unaware if an intermission would interrupt the show at any point, so attendees are encouraged to be prepared to stay in their seats for the full duration of the concert — otherwise, you may miss out on one of your favourite hits while you’re waiting in line at the washrooms.
Tip #10: Bring cash for the merch tables
Given the scale of these tour dates, no opportunities for photo ops or autographs with the headliners are going to be made available to general attendees. Souvenirs, on the other hand, such as T-shirts, CDs, and maybe even some photo books and posters, will be made available by the Garth Brooks team for purchase throughout the venue and the show. Since it’s always difficult to know beforehand which vendors will take plastic for your purchases, we recommend doing away with the guesswork and making sure you have both cash and cards on hand. Purchase availability only while quantities last. Tour merchandise is also available online through Garth Brooks’ official store, at www.shop.garthbrooks.com
Anyone with questions regarding any of the above information is invited to call Saddledome customer service at 403-777-4646, or send an email to email@example.com