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Pinewood Bowl ready to host The Beach Boys in socially distanced concert Sunday
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Pinewood Bowl ready to host The Beach Boys in socially distanced concert Sunday

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Photos: Willie Nelson at Pinewood Bowl

Concerts will return to Pinewood Bowl on Sunday, but to provide for social distancing, maximum seated capacity of the bowl will be reduced from more than 4,500 to 2,970, with attendance capped at about 2,200.

Pinewood Bowl will present its first concert of 2020 Sunday when The Beach Boys play the Pioneers Park amphitheater that has been altered to meet coronavirus pandemic show requirements.

“I think it’s the perfect show to reopen the bowl for the season,” said Lincoln arena manager Tom Lorenz, who has been in constant contact with the band since originally setting the date last winter.

The concert was made possible by a Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department-approved plan that grew out of a series of drawings and maps that were submitted to the department by Lincoln arena officials.

“Our main aim was to cut capacity, create social distancing and put the seating into pods of two seats, four seats and six seats,” Lorenz said. “We’ve created more aisles and, by reducing capacity, made it a more wide-open, spacious setting.”

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The plan cuts the maximum seated capacity of the bowl from more than 4,500 to 2,970. But Lorenz said attendance Sunday would be capped at about 2,200.

Multiple entrances — three at the top of the bowl and the VIP entrance on the east side — will be used to get people to their seats quickly while allowing spacing to be maintained.

Limiting the crowd size means that all parking for the show will be on the field directly north of the bowl. Patrons are encouraged to come early to reduce the lines and prevent crowding closer to the show’s 7:30 p.m. start.

“We hope people spread out as they come in and that, by reminding them of social distancing, people will respect each other’s space as they come in, then head down to their assigned seats and maintain social distancing," Lorenz said.

Facial coverings are required by the local health mandate because of the size of the gathering.

“When people are drinking or getting something to eat, they can take off the masks,” Lorenz said. “We’re going to ask them to mask up quickly after they finish.”

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The show will have a short intermission.

Hawkers selling water and beer may be utilized before the show and during intermission to cut down on lines. Satellite beverage locations also will be scattered throughout the bowl to reduce lines at the main stands.

Some limited food also will be offered, Lorenz said.

In addition to setting up the bowl for concert goers, organizers are focused on the safety of the band and production crew members.

Production crews include the lighting and sound systems teams, catering and food preparation and parking. Everyone will be required to wear a mask.

The plan, approved by the band’s management, calls for the Beach Boys to arrive at Pinewood and go immediately into the dressing room complex on the east side of the stage.

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At showtime, the band will walk onto the stage, a distance of about 10 yards, play the first set, go back into the dressing room for intermission, then play a second set. The Beach Boys will leave soon after the show.

Because the staging will not utilize the orchestra pit area on the front of the stage, the band will be a minimum of 15 feet from the audience throughout the show.

The combination of the backstage and on-stage arrangements, reserved seating with social distancing built in and an audience that is expected to be older than pop and country crowds should make for a safe show and provide an example for other shows that could come to Pinewood this fall, Lorenz said.

“We continue to have some discussion with other acts, but nobody else has been confirmed at this point,” he said. “We’ll keep looking, and if we can find a good fit, we’ll try to do more shows before it gets too cold.”

Photos: Lincoln during the pandemic

Reach the writer at 402-473-7244 or kwolgamott@journalstar.com. On Twitter @KentWolgamott  

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Entertainment reporter/columnist

L. Kent Wolgamott, the recipient of the 2018 Mayor’s Arts Award, has written about arts and entertainment for Lincoln newspapers since 1985, reviewing thousands of movies and concerts and hundreds of art exhibitions.

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