'Let's just blow it out': Garth weekend has arrived in Edmonton
Twitter users deemed Friday "Garth Brooks Day" in Edmonton.
The country music artist is returning to Alberta's capital city for the first time in five years to play Commonwealth Stadium two nights in a row.
The concerts are his only stop in Canada, drawing fans from far outside Edmonton city limits.
Both of Brooks' shows sold out in less than an hour. Commonwealth Stadium, home to the Canadian Football League's Edmonton Elks, seats more than 60,000.
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In February 2017, Brooks sold out nine shows at Rogers Place during his world tour.
On Friday afternoon, Brooks said those were "badass nights" that he hopes to surpass.
"We want these people to leave here thinking this was a better show than the arena show and so that's what we came to do," he said.
He hopes both crowds come ready for a good time and know that he feels their energy onstage.
"It's always my favourite thing to compare the two crowds," he added. "So, just want to tell Friday night right now, you don't get a second shot at this.
"Saturday's going to get to read the reviews and they'll know what to come in and do. So Saturday always has that advantage. I'm going to say, let's just blow it out tonight and have some fun."
The size of the events has both fans and the city making special preparations.
Given her parents are country music fans, Jada Prodahl is a longtime fan of Brooks. His ninth Billboard Number One The River was her graduation song and she can still sing the lyrics word for word.
"It just holds a lot of memories of me and my girlfriends in our cars going to McDonald's in high school at lunch. And my dad had a CB in his truck and we would sing on the CB radio."
When CTV News Edmonton told Brooks about Prodahl's story, he gave her a promise.
"You remember those moments when they affect you," he said. "That just tells me that The River really affects this woman, which means tonight if I know she's in the crowd, I'll do it, I'm going to try and do it the best I've ever done it just for her."
Brooks is impacting more than just feelings, with Explore Edmonton estimating the two shows will generate around $20 million in economic activity for the city.
"Folks who have a Garth Brooks ticket aren't just going to Garth Brooks," said Traci Bednard, Explore Edmonton president. "Many more are staying in hotels. Many are going to be at restaurants. They're going to be shopping over the weekend."
CONCERT-GOER TURNS TO FACEBOOK FOR RIDE
But living east of Edmonton posed some logistical challenges for Prodahl.
"Uber isn't always reliable out here. Often, our service is not available," she told CTV News Edmonton.
"Even the buses that go out of Sherwood Park weren't optimal for us, because we still needed to get home from Sherwood Park... There are some buses that are going that are selling tickets day of, but you know, that's not reliable either. So we were kind of stuck."
That's when Prodahl put out "feelers" on Facebook to see if someone would be willing to chauffeur her, her husband, and their friends from Calgary.
"That's the one good thing about social media, is that you put that out there and everybody sees it that you wouldn't normally reach out to. So a friend did offer to take us there and back, so that's going to be perfect."
She says they "struck a deal" in exchange for the favour.
It wasn't long before she noticed other similar requests online.
"Even if we only have a couple drinks, you need a ride home," she shrugged.
"One of us would have had to DD, and I just said, 'That's a terrible idea, but you know, it's worth it for Garth Brooks.' One of us would have had to ante up. It would have been a rock, paper, scissors situation."
PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION OPTIONS
Parking near Commonwealth is restricted on all signed streets two hours before events start. Vehicles found parked in violation of the rules will be tagged, ticketed and impounded.
Edmonton Transit Service is providing park-and-ride service to Brooks on Friday and Saturday. That service starts two hours before an event and ends once the stadium is cleared. A full list of park-and-ride locations is available on the city's website.
Commonwealth Stadium is an open-air arena, and fans were advised to prepare for the weather.
CTV Edmonton's chief meteorologist Josh Classen is forecasting a "slight risk" of spotty showers in north-central Alberta.
The shows start at 7 p.m. Doors open at 5 p.m.
With files from CTV News Edmonton's Jeremy Thompson