Rolling Stones in Jacksonville; stadium being transformed into concert venue
Rock-and-roll expected to perform for 2 hours Friday night
The group widely known as the greatest rock-and-roll band in the world has arrived in Jacksonville ahead of its concert Friday night at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville.
The Rolling Stones have been the talk of the city all week long. Driving around Jacksonville, you'll see the iconic Rolling Stones lips and tongue printed in chalk all around the city, including one on the parking lot of News4Jax.
A Friday morning social post shows the Stones' plane on the tarmac at Jacksonville International Airport. Where Mick, Keith, Karl, Dick, Ronnie and Charlie are staying is a closely guarded secret.
The band's advance team -- 83 traveling crew members with 25 production trucks -- has been building out the stage in the north end of the stadium since Sunday.
On Thursday morning, when News4Jax got a peek inside the stadium, they were already doing sound checks and testing the giant video screens.
Dale Skjerseth, the Stones' production director, has been with the band for over 20 years. He said there have been months of preparations for this tour and the banks is very involved in the process.
"These guys are fantastic. They come from a working background. This is what they do. They go to work," Skjerseth said. "They love their job. They love their career and they cherish it. What they put on stage to the crowd is what they do give to us."
The gates open at 6 p.m. Friday and The Revivalist will open the show at 7:30 p.m. The Stones are expected to perform dozens of their hits during the band's extended set.
“It’s a great show,” Skjerseth said. “They come out and it doesn’t stop. They perform straight through, two hours and seven minutes.”
STONES FANS: What to know before you go
Not only is their excitement among those planning to attend the concert, Mayor Lenny Curry got into act, signing a proclamation declaring Friday Rolling Stones Day in Jacksonville. Curry said Friday is also his birthday and he'll be celebrating at TIAA Bank Field.
Fans are ready to rock
William Brueck, the owner of Yesterday and Today Records in San Marco, said some fans are spending the whole week in Jacksonville. Brueck said the Tom Coughlin Jay Fund visited the store to purchase some Rolling Stones records, hoping to get them signed by Mick Jagger.
Brueck said the Rolling Stones is a band that attracts all generations like no other.
"Twelve-year-olds to 70-year-olds," Brueck said. "It's amazing. Mick Jagger's a year older than my dad. My dad's not standing up on the stage jumping around like a 16-year-old."
Merchandise trailers were set up outside the stadium Wednesday night. Some fans, like John Roberts, have been stopping by for the past few days.
"I make it a point to come down here and make sure they're doing it right, and if they need any help, they're welcome to call me," Roberts said.
Roberts said the concert will be the ninth time he's seen the Rolling Stones perform.
"The first time I saw them was at the old Gator Bowl here in '75," Roberts said. "It brings back a lot of memories of youth and everything and they just cast a magic. The four of them together makes something individuals can't recreate."
Fans aren't the only people happy the Stones are in town. So are businesses that cater to tourists and those offering lodging food and drink near the stadium.
"July is not typically a super busy month on the weekends, so we would love to have events like this," said Katie Mitura of Visit Jacksonville. "It will be at least a few millions economic impact to the destination."
Mitura said more than 30 requested Rolling Stones decorations to entice their guests.
At the Touchdown Grill in Talleyrand, employees are expecting big crowds.
"(The) more the merrier," Lauren Lagle of Touchdown Grill. "I have a lot of people tailgating and they can’t wait for the party."
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