Words & Deeds

Deeds: With Hawks stadium joining Outlaw Field in concert fray, summer will be huge

Gaga for Tony: Singer Tony Bennett will headline June 2 at the Idaho Botanical Garden’s Outlaw Field.
Gaga for Tony: Singer Tony Bennett will headline June 2 at the Idaho Botanical Garden’s Outlaw Field. Invision/AP

Moments after I posted news that Memorial Stadium will host a major music series this year called Summerfield Concerts, commenters’ drool started oozing from my computer.

I wiped off the screen with a concert blanket.

Some Facebookers did cartwheels (“Hell to the yes!”). Others reminisced about a return to the good ol’ days (“Saw Little Feat and Jeff Healey Band there in 1989.”) A few voiced concerns (“Will concerts be over by my bedtime?”).

But there is one sentiment that everyone can agree upon: With the Boise Hawks’ venue throwing its ballcap into the outdoor-music ring, this will be a blast of a summer.

So far, only one Memorial Stadium show has been announced: Barenaked Ladies, OMD and Howard Jones on July 12. But the series promoter, Knitting Factory Presents, plans to announce two more concerts Feb. 8. (Watch my blog.)

Not to be outdone, the Idaho Botanical Garden kindly leaked me the first announcement at its popular, ninth annual Outlaw Field series: The legendary Tony Bennett will perform June 2. Tickets go on sale to the public Feb. 12 for $58 lawn, $72 and $82 reserved seats. Garden members have a $200 first-three-row option that includes pre-concert cocktails and hor d’oeuvres in the English Garden. I’m told that three more Outlaw Field concerts have been confirmed.

And let’s not forget about the Idaho Center Amphitheater, which is renewing its dedication to outdoor events in 2016.

But Memorial Stadium is the hot topic. So let’s talk about the new kid on the block.

▪  How many shows will be at Memorial Stadium?

The target is 10, according to Knitting Factory. That’s the same number that Outlaw Field aims to host. And like Outlaw Field, that number might float up or down a little.

The Summerfield Concerts series is slated to be held May through October. September is typically the final month of outdoor concert season. But let’s face it. Our climate is changing. Some of the Treasure Valley’s best weather comes in early fall. Booking outdoor shows in later months could make for beautiful evenings.

▪  What will the concert layout be like?

The stage will be in the Hawks outfield. Seats will be set up in the grassy outfield, too. Concertgoers will be able to spread blankets or set up lowback chairs. The stadium’s permanent seating normally won’t be used — although it could be, if the show was massive.

The potential for multiple concert configurations exists. Organizers will adjust as needed to provide the most rewarding experience.

▪  When will shows end?

Older concert fans might remember a local politician showing up in his pajamas, carrying an ax, threatening to cut the power at Memorial Stadium during a concert decades ago.

Put your axes away, Garden City residents. Memorial Stadium concerts will end by 10 p.m.

▪  Is this the first concert series at Hawks stadium?

There have been sporadic shows over the years ranging from Santana and Sheryl Crow gigs in 1997 to “brews and blues” type events.

But Summerfield Concerts is the first major-league concert series for the minor-league baseball venue.

To be fair, this run of shows is not an automatic home run. Treasure Valley concert fans have more choices than ever. And Outlaw Field isn’t just more established — it wins the scenery battle every time.

But Memorial Stadium has potential. There’s free parking — and lots of it — which is huge for Idahoans. (We hate paying to park.) The location is right in the middle of the population base. And when it comes to amenities, something tells me that organizers will try to make the concert experience as pleasurable as possible. Local food trucks already have been mentioned.

I’m fired up to hear what Memorial Stadium and Outlaw Field have to share with us in coming days and weeks. Stay tuned.

Michael Deeds: 208-377-6407, @michaeldeeds