Montreal Fans Start Streaming In

U2TOURFANS 2011MONTREAL — U2 fans from far and wide have already started streaming into the area around Jean Talon and Decarie and the transportation challenge is being taken seriously by authorities.

The site has a Fan-Jam area that has opened but the gates to the seats will open at 5 p.m.

Evenko has added extra seats to deal with demand but around 2,000 already-purchased tickets were up for re-sale on sites like craigslist and kijiji.

Some speculated that the band would come into the stadium in a helicopter but there was no official word. Others mentioned that they had spotted Bono at a restaurant on Bishop street Friday at noon.

Many streets have been closed, street parking shut down and authorities have been pleading with motorists to come to the show on the metro rather than in their vehicles. Those hoping to get off the Decarie Expressway at Jean Talon will be out of luck and the exit was slated to close at 11 a.m. Friday.

As for the concert venue, it has been ready for some time. Seats are in place, lights ready to be flicked on and turnstiles poised to rotate for 160,000 U2 fans Friday and Saturday nights at the former Blue Bonnets racetrack at Decarie and Jean Talon.

A 47-metre high (150-foot) contraption called the claw is ready as well. The structure will hover over the stage, light up and hold video screens.

The claw’s real function is to make everything else look smaller.

“They wanted it to be an intimate show, the idea was that if you build something big you can make the stadium look very small,” said U2 Tour Director Craig Evans. “It’s a 150 percent success. It definitely makes the place look smaller.”

The shows were planned two years ago and were originally meant to take place last year but emergency back surgery to U2 singer Bono forced the delay. Now the U2 360 Degree tour is hitting town as one of 110 stops on the tour.

But Montreal is the only place where the band had to build its own venue.

The stadium took six weeks to build and cost $3 million (some reports have it closer to $4 million) and will require an additional three weeks to dismantle. Spectators will number 40,000 on the floor and the same number in the seated areas.

Jake Barry, U2 Production Director, says that the construction is sturdy.

“This may be temporary but it’s a solid, very formal, very professionally done venue, it encompasses proper facilities, concessions, things to entertain people who come down early,” said Barry. “We stress: do come early.”

The organizers also issued a lengthy list of items that will not be permitted inside the show. They include: umbrellas, plastic or glass bottles, cans, alcoholic drinks (purchased from outside the venue), megaphones, fireworks, beach balls, balloons, skateboards, animals (except seeing eye dogs), large camping-size backpacks, tents, video equipment, removable-lens cameras, audio recording equipment, banners, or flags, laser pointers and chairs.