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Garth Brooks returns: Notre Dame Stadium prepares for its second concert in history

| Friday, May 6, 2022

After more than 84,000 rain-soaked fans witnessed country music superstar Garth Brooks perform the first concert in Notre Dame Stadium history in October 2018, Brooks promised to return to Notre Dame at the end of his tour. 

On Saturday, Brooks finally makes his return to the stadium, now more than three years in the making.

“I’ll say it again, Notre Dame Stadium is built for concerts,” Brooks said in a February press release, echoing remarks he made following his first concert at Notre Dame.

Photo by Barbara Johnston/University of Notre Dame
October 20, 2018; Garth Brooks concert at Notre Dame Stadium. (Photo by Barbara Johnston/University of Notre Dame)

The 2018 show launched “The Garth Brooks Stadium Tour,” and Brooks originally planned to close the tour at Notre Dame, but the pandemic caused scheduling difficulties that prevented that, according to the release. 

One major difference between the two shows is that the upcoming show will not be televised. In 2018, the concert was recorded for a CBS special. This led to multiple recordings of the crowd for certain songs in order to get the proper audio for the television special. 

Because Saturday’s show will not be recorded for TV, it will not experience the same starts and stops, vice president for University enterprises and events Micki Kidder said in an email.

Preparation for the concert began Saturday, senior director of facilities and operations Brian Fremeau said. The field was covered with a plastic that allows the tour’s convoy of semi-trucks — which came from Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge, Louisiana — to drive into the Stadium. This floor will stay in place through the two commencement ceremonies on May 15 and 30, Fremeau said.

Construction of the stage began early this week. The show will again be in the round with fans filling the entire field and bowl. However, this time the stage is positioned closer to the north end of the Stadium as opposed to exactly in the center of the field.

Fremeau said the change came about due to Brooks’ own personal preferences.

“[The tour] basically made those modifications after our show to position it a bit more off-center and it’s just I think partly the way he performs,” he said.

The stage will again feature four towers that are approximately the height of the bowl of the Stadium, with four large screens and a roof. Because the stage is not at midfield this time, Fremeau said the tour is setting up a speaker delay system at the south end of the Stadium to ensure the sound is synchronized throughout the Stadium.

One alteration to streamline the concert setup is that the tunnel at the north end of the field has been modified. In 2018, the trucks could not fit under the tunnel to drive onto the field during the concert preparation. Fremeau said the benches at the mouth of the tunnel can now be taken out and the fencing around the mouth of the tunnel can be rolled out of the way to achieve the clearance needed for a semi-truck. In 2018, the truck’s loads needed to be forklifted onto the field. 

“Our production lead for Garth Brooks’ team, when he arrived this week, he certainly knew about the project because we had told him about it, but he was very excited to see it because it was such an improvement from his vantage point over what was there before,” Fremeau said.

The load-out will take place throughout the day Sunday. The tour personnel will depart for Cincinnati while the University will begin preparation for commencement.

Ever since the completion of the Campus Crossroads project, the Stadium has hosted a variety of events outside of the regular slate of home football games and commencement.

Past events have included an NHL Winter Classic and a Liverpool friendly. Billy Joel will be performing at the Stadium in late June.

Kidder said in her email the University anticipates “inviting members of the Notre Dame family and broader community to future events at Notre Dame Stadium.”

The Saturday concert, which begins at 7 p.m., has sold more than 70,000 tickets, Kidder said. She added that the first show was a success and that she is excited to see what Saturday’s performance has in store.

“Garth Brooks is the #1-selling solo artist in U.S. history, and his music appeals to a large audience. As such, we wanted to bring an iconic artist to the first show in iconic Notre Dame Stadium,” she said in the email. “It was a tremendous success and we could not be more excited for Saturday’s show.”

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About Ryan Peters

Ryan is a senior formerly in Knott Hall from Lake Forest, Illinois. He is majoring in business analytics and minoring in constitutional studies. He currently serves as Managing Editor for The Observer. Follow him on Twitter @peterrsryan.

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