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U2 show at M&T Bank Stadium previewed at Tuesday press conference

Live Nation and M&T Bank Stadium gave local media a preview of the massive, four-legged stage the band will use Wednesday night. Jennifer Davis was there and reports:

At a press conference Tuesday afternoon, tour director Craig Evans discussed the size of U2's stage on the 360-degree tour and how it was installed.

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He also confirmed that 1,500 extra tickets were released to Ticketmaster for the show.

U2's stage consists of a four-legged steel structure that is 90 feet tall, with its central pylon reaching 150 feet tall. It is clad in "a Formula 1 motor racing fabric" that appears green in daylight, and changes colors at night.

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The set also features a cylindrical video screen that, when open, encompasses 14,000 square feet. It weighs close to 54 tons and is made up of 1 million pieces.

Evans said the stage is so big it's actually installed days before the concert takes place. The first day is dedicated to installing the steel flooring system on the field, which is needed to support the rest of the structure.  And the steel structure requires an additional four days to build. A production day follows, where the screen, stage and production equipment are brought in.

On average, the size of the tour crew is anywhere between 380 to 520 people. For this event, Evans hired about 1,500 local workers to control security, act as stagehands, and work the concessions. Once the show date has come and passed, it requires two full days to dismantle the set.

Evans said the band came up with the stage concept at the end of their Vertigo tour in 2006. The four band members and their longtime show director Willie Williams were out at dinner one night when they first discussed a vision for a 360-degree stadium. They sketched it out, and using their dinner forks, made a model.

The entire design and process is "very ambitious," Evans said, but the band wanted to "make [the set] so big to make the stadium feel smaller" and the concert more intimate. He also said the runway will sliver around the audience so that the band can interact with eager fans.

Larry Rosen, vice president of broadcasting for the Baltimore Ravens, said his staff actually has very little control of the concert. Because of piracy fears, the band and its management chose to control most everything concerning the performance. Rosen said his team takes care of logistics unrelated to the actual performance, such as restrooms, traffic, weather and advertisements.

U2 should be proud to know that five fans are already waiting in line for Wednesday's performance.

Beth Nabi of Florida and Casey Frary made their way to Baltimore from Washington just for the concert. They have been waiting in line since 9 a.m. and plan on taking turns guarding their spot until the show with sandwiches from Jimmy John's and burgers from Five Guys Burgers & Fries.

Nabi says she discovered her love for U2 more than twenty years ago. On her endearingly named blog, bethandbono.com, she writes, "Sure, going to eight concerts spanning the continent sounds a little ridiculous, but the right to be ridiculous is something I hold dear."

Photo: Workers finish assembling the massive stage for the June 22 U2 360-Degree concert at M&T (Karl Merton Ferron/Baltimore Sun) See more photos here.

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