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What you need to know before the Paul McCartney concert: street closings, weather, how to get there, what to bring

It's just metal now, but Piedmont Park officials expect the stage for Paul McCartney's Aug. 15 show to be completed on Wednesday. AJC/Phil Skinner

When Piedmont Park officials told me a week ago that there were still thousands of tickets left for the August 15 Green Concert, plenty of you seemed surprisd to learn that superstar Paul McCartney hadn’t yet sold out.

Blame the economy, price, timing or weather for the slow sales, but the number of available tickets is shrinking every hour, said Monica Thornton, vice president of the Piedmont Park Conservancy. The park is permitted to have up to 49,999 people, and is on track to make its financial goal, she said. As of Tuesday afternoon, she said there’s room for about 5,000 more people.

If you’re going, or thinking about, here’s what you need to know.

Don’t show up too early.
VIPs and pre-sale ticket buyers can get in at 4 p.m. All other ticket holders can get in at 5 p.m. (VIPs and pre-sale ticketbuyers, fear not: the barcode on your ticket will identify you.) Maybe showing up at 10 a.m. will help you secure a better spot on the lawn, but it won’t do much for your sunburn, heatstroke, energy level or mood, even once McCartney takes the stage.

10th Street around the park will close on Saturday.
All of 10th Street around Piedmont Park will closed on the day of the concert, but the area between Monroe and Charles Allen drives already is closed off-and-on for unloading. (Grady High School traffic is allowed to pass, though, for instance.) Check out more photos of the construction.

Saturday’s weather shouldn’t be too miserable.
Low 70s to mid-80s throughout the day, with a 40 percent chance of scattered thunderstorms. Woohoo! for staying out of the 90s!

Expect more creature comforts than at the Dave Matthews Band show.
A lot of commenters mentioned they’d like to see Sir Paul, but not if it meant reliving the crush and crowds of the 2007 Green Concert. DMB is not Paul McCartney, and the crowds won’t be identical. Thornton said there will be fewer people, more food and beverage stations, 53 water fountains and — most exciting!— 20 percent more portable restrooms.

It’s a car-free event. Seriously.
Not kidding. No parking in or around Piedmont Park. No parking in the neighborhoods. No official drop-off site. You won’t be able to get anywhere near the concert entrance in a car, with 10th Street going pedestrian-only. Really: no car. That said, some lots and garages will probably be happy for you to pay a bunch of money to park there, but you’re still going to have a ways to walk. Piedmont Park recommends you park in one of the MARTA’s free commuter lots, take the train to Midtown or Arts Center station and walk in. (ADA shuttles will be running for those unable to walk.) Here’s a map of how to get to the entry gate from the train stations.
Or, you can bike — there will be plenty of parking for those, including bike valet services provided free by the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition. Look for it at 10th Street and Charles Allen, at the northwest corner of Grady High School.

What you can and can’t bring…
Good: blankets, medical supplies, seat cushions or cushions with on-the-ground back supports, purses (which will be searched), cell phone or small point-and-shoot cameras. Bad: chairs, pets, signs, outside food or beverages, backpacks, large cameras or equipment, umbrellas. Here’s a full list. Once you’re in, you’re in — no re-entry if you leave.

Want to go? The Green Concert at Piedmont Park featuring Paul McCartney is Aug. 15 on Piedmont Park’s 10th Street Meadow in Atlanta. $79.50-$400.

For instant updates, follow me on Twitter, @insideaccess.

42 comments Add your comment


August 17th, 2009
1:50 pm

Loved the concert — wow, what a show! — but not the logistics. Some failures I noted:

I saw no volunteers nor any directional signage for the concert when I exited the Midtown station at 2:00 PM. In fact, I rarely saw a volunteer the whole time. Funny, since as a Conservancy member I had offered to be one but had been turned down.

There was no designated line or gate for presale ticketholders. If there was one, it wasn’t publicized anywhere in advance nor created by volunteers on site. Most presales got stuck in the same long line as the later entries: A major mishandle that caused great animosity among those patrons. The few volunteers who passed by the blocks-long line on 10th had no knowledge to share or any apparent way to ask a question or get answers from someone in charge.

The no food or water ban was a serious health concern for the many older people who had arrived early for the presale entry and then had to stand in line a lot longer than expected in 90+ degree heat. Also, there was no way to handle a medical emergency created by those conditions except with a 911 call.

That same ban created a huge windfall for the food and drink vendors, provided you could get to them. Three dollars for one small bottle of water? That’s price gouging, people. (Where were the water fountains?) Even the kids selling them outside the park asked for just a buck. IMO the producer and food vendors should be fined for overcharging the captive audience for that necessity. In the future, bottled water prices inside the park should be set by the City for future concerts.

No aisles were created or maintained for emergency vehicles, security personnel or easy patron access to vendors and the toilets. IMO this was a major breach of public health and safety guidelines for such events. Suppose there had been a lightning strike during the rainstorm? (N.B. I sat right next to the Kaiser Permanente First Aid station, so I saw and heard about the difficulties people were having in getting there for help.)

Why didn’t the Conservancy present a short talk or program about its work and goals between the two acts? IMO it missed a golden opportunity in not doing that, and in not asking patrons to haul out their trash and/or place recyclables in designated receptacles after the concert was over. This was The Green Concert, right?.

IMO these logistical failures were caused by a lack of coordination and communcation between the organizations involved, both before the event and on the day. IMO an experienced large-event planner needs to be put in charge of each area to see that everything runs smoothly.between the professionals and the volunteers. Also, the Conservancy and its co-sponsors should recruit enough volunteers, provide advance training for them, and provide those at critical points with radios and bullhorns so they can ask questions and get answers in in real time, and handle crowd problems promptly. There also should be a central command center that can be called by other volunteers with their cell phones for informational Q&A.

I hope my comments will be read as constructive criticism that is intended to help make future concerts at Piedmont Park more pleasurable for everybody.


August 16th, 2009
9:47 pm

I survived the concert last night, and lived to tell the story. Thank God for Paul McCartney. Only Paul McCartney could take a perfectly horrible misery marathon like Atlanta’s concert preparation, and still make you feel glad to be alive. The people in the Atlanta audience were fantastic, considering that a huge number of them received such lousy, inconsistent info, about the event that by the time Paul took the stage we were dehydrated, exhausted, sunburned, and broke. Paul still saved the day.