The Norman Transcript

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July 4, 2013

Toby Keith concert makes Norman merchants sing

NORMAN — He might be just a country boy, but Oklahoman Toby Keith knows how to throw a party. Some of the biggest names in the state are playing at the Oklahoma Memorial Stadium and, for once, it’s not football but music that is drawing national attention to Norman.

“It’s a pretty complex situation when you get 70,000 people coming to town,” Sooner Legends hotel owner Doug Kennon said. “It’s almost like a home football game.”

Summer is busy for Norman hotels because of families visiting the university, but the concert date is particularly popular, local hoteliers report. Kennon said a few room reservations were made at his hotel when the concert was announced, and the day tickets went on sale, Sooner Legends was booked.

Organized by Keith, the show sold out within hours and features such big names as Willie Nelson, Garth Brooks, Trisha Yearwood, Ronnie Dunn, Sammy Hagar, Mel Tillis and John Anderson. Oklahoma native, Carrie Underwood will do a set via satellite from the Grand Ole Opry House in Nashville.

Keith grew up in Moore, lives in Norman, and said he wanted to do something to help the victims of the tornado that hit May 20.

Norman business leaders are getting on board to aid the effort.

“I bought 25 tickets for my employees,” said local restaurateur Hal Smith. “I think there’s going to be a large crowd. I’ve talked to a lot of folks that I know are planning on going. I think it’s going to be a real event.”

Smith’s business interest, Charleston’s Restaurant Group, also donated $100,000 to Red Cross. Smith is a partner with Toby Keith on the county singer’s, “I Love This Bar and Grill” restaurants. Saturday, Toby’s restaurant will provide food for the stage hands and performers — about 500 people — during the course of the concert.

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