Q&A: Ian Adkins, U.S. Bank Arena’s Production Manager

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Since landing his gig as production manager of U.S. Bank Arena in 2010, Ian Adkins has been the wizard in charge of transforming the floor from ice rink to monster truck course to concert stage on any given night. Having already hosted Rihanna, Blake Shelton, and Billy Joel this year, Adkins is prepping for enfant terrible Justin Bieber on June 24 and Sir Paul McCartney on July 10—Adkins’ biggest show yet. —as told to Garin Pirnia

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Photograph by Annette Navarro

“What I like about doing shows is that there’s a beginning, a middle, and end. It’s like a construction project, almost.

I work directly with the tour or pro-moter on the stage configurations, making sure the rigging is going to fly from our steel—everything’s planned in advance before we go on-sale. Then, about a month before the show, I’ll be in touch directly with the band or act and we go through the specifics, everything from stage labor to catering to dressing room decor.

By the time the show arrives, everything’s been discussed. We have a plan, and it’s just about execution that day.

Yesterday, I worked 23 hours. By the time I take the half-hour drive to get home, and take a shower, and a half-hour to get back, that equals, to me, an hour and a half of sleep I could have. So sometimes I’ll stowaway in a suite for the night.

This building is what it is. What I love is that I can create an environment where once they enter the building, whoever’s visiting is as comfortable as possible.

I told Blake Shelton’s tour manager, “Tell me if I’m crazy: I want to convert the dining room we have for the artist and crew into a honky-tonk bar—bring in steers, neon lights, whiskey barrels.” They started laughing and said, “That would be cool.”

I’m just a geek for everything concert related. It doesn’t matter to me who’s on stage—if it’s somebody I really love, that’s even better—but I just love seeing anything that huge come together.”

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