ST. LOUIS, Mo. --- U2 was nowhere to be found at Busch Stadium Saturday morning, but the stadium was bustling in preparation for Sunday night, when the biggest concert to ever hit St. Louis takes place.
Outside of Busch, dozens of trailers were spotted around the venue, making it all to evident that something major was afoot. Inside, workers, largely local, busily lifted, hammered and assembled various bits and pieces of U2's massive 360º Tour all day Saturday for Sunday's spectacular blowout.
The St. Louis stop on the tour is not only the biggest concert to ever play St. Louis, but it's also the best-selling tour of all time, grossing over $700 million before the tour wraps later this month.
Over 50,000 fans are expected at Sunday's show.
Clearly, the tour is a well-oiled machine this late in its run that began in 2009, as bridges, ramps and video screens went up Saturday along with other visual and audio elements.
"The Claw," the tall, four-legged structure serving as the set's main component, was fully erect Saturday, all 90 feet of it with its center spear topped by a disco ball reaching 150 feet.
Even under the glare of the blinding sun and without all the pieces in place, the Claw looks like a sci-fi marvel.
By day's end Saturday, about 95% of the set was expected to be completed, leaving mostly band arrival and soundcheck for Sunday, if U2 even decides to do a soundcheck.
Not only is everything on schedule, but it was deemed ahead of schedule by tour production director Jake Berry, who promises a great night will be in store.
We also know it'll be a hot night in more ways than one.
An excessive heat warning is in effect through Friday, with the temperature expected to near 100º on Sunday. Though different outdoor events have either moved indoor or gotten canceled the last few days, U2 is expected to go on.
Berry pointed out sun is better than rain, though in this case not by much.
Joe Abernathy, vice president of stadium operations for Busch Stadium, says "it is St. Louis and it will be hot."
Abernathy says the stadium will undergo a number of provisions to keep fans as comfortable as possible in the heat. There will be three cooling stations at Clark Avenue with misting fans, a fire truck with a pumper spraying water and complimentary drinking water. On the field, fans will find two cooling stations and complimentary water.
There will also be extra paramedics and rooms inside the stadium with air conditioning.
Concert-goers are also advised to watch their alcohol intake, dress appropriately and to wear hats and sun screen.
Fans who'll enjoy the show on the field's general admission surface shouldn't wear flip flops. "A couple of steps on this hot deck at 5 o'clock and you won't last long," says Abernathy.
Berry says despite what he heard through one local media outlet, U2's stage will not be air conditioned, and the band will feel the same weather as their fans.
Concert-goers can bring water and soda into Busch Stadium Sunday, which should provide some relief, though those beverages must be in open cups or clear plastic bottles.
They can also bring backpacks, purses, diaper bags, fanny packs and soft-sided coolers that don't exceed 16"x16''x8''. Small personal cameras are allowed. All bags must be able to fit under a seat.
What's not allowed are alcohol, bottles, cans, thermoses, hard-sided coolers, hard plastic cups/mugs, umbrellas, laser pens/pointers and fireworks, professional cameras with detachable and/or large lenses and video/audio recorders.
General admission field ticket holders won't be allowed to line up at Gate 5 until 7 a.m. Sunday and must enter at Gate 5. No open fire, glass or alcohol is allowed in line, concessions will be available, and no blankets are allowed on the field.
Though the show has been billed as sold-out, limited premium seats at $250 and standing room only tickets at $55 are available. The SRO areas are the same SRO areas for baseball games.
Eastbound lanes of Highway 40 (I-64) will be closed between Jefferson Avenue and the Popular Street Bridge through Sunday evening at 5 p.m. Eastbound and Westbound lanes on I-44 at Jamieson will be closed through 5 a.m. Monday.
MetroLink is heavily encouraged, and will extend hours of operation Sunday night, running until all the downtown stations are cleared.