IOWA CITY — When former Hawkeye and NFL tight end Dallas Clark walked out on stage in front of tens of thousands of fans, that was the moment when the first-ever concert in Kinnick Stadium became real for him.
Clark had teamed up with actor and Eastern Iowa-native Ashton Kutcher to plan Saturday’s eight-hour benefit Back Porch Revival concert that headlined country singer Blake Shelton.
“You guys are raising money for a great cause tonight, congratulations,” Shelton told the crowd.
Proceeds from the sale of tickets will go to the Native Fund, a charity that helps Iowans after natural disasters. Clark said it’s expanding to help ill children and post-9/11 war veterans as well.
“Hopefully they (concert goers) go home and they realize this is so much bigger than just pulling off a concert at Kinnick,” Clark said.
When Kutcher took the stage, he talked about his pride in being an Iowan and his desire to help others with the Native Fund.
Andrew Thompson, the chief business officer for Basis Entertainment, the company that helped promote the concert, said about 50,000 tickets were sold as of Saturday afternoon. Organizers have not yet released official attendance numbers.
“It’s been just fantastic,” Thompson said. “They’ve really come out to support this cause.”
Other performers Saturday included Thomas Rhett, Big & Rich and Tucker Beathard. Beathard’s brother, Hawkeye quarterback C.J. Beathard, threw footballs out to the crowd.
One concert goer, Tyler Hefel, 25, of Iowa City, said Beathard was his favorite act of the night because it represented country music and football coming together. He said he’d like to see more concerts at Kinnick.
“It was really cool to see the chemistry, that brotherhood bond,” Hefel said. “It’s like football (games) here, but everybody wins.”
Hannah Luber, 24, of Iowa City, said that she rarely goes to concerts but she bought a ticket for the Back Porch Revival when she heard it was going to be in Kinnick. She said the event was successful because it had a similar atmosphere to football games.
“This was straight out of loving Iowa City and loving Kinnick,” Luber said. “It’s such a great idea. Why didn’t we do this before?”
Clark said he believed the performers felt that Back Porch Revival was a special event. Shelton even asked the crowd to cheer for Kinnick’s first-ever concert.
“These fans are giving them a little more,” Clark said. “It’s electric out there.”