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Achtung, baby! U2 aiming to crash Games finale

(The Age) -- THE kings of motor sport are idling, laughter is taking a holiday and there will be no new movies. But Irish rock singer Bono plans to crash Melbourne's Commonwealth Games party.

One of the world's biggest music acts, Bono's U2 is expected to play two shows at Telstra Dome next March in front of up to 80,000 fans on the same weekend as the Commonwealth Games closing ceremony.

After 18 months of negotiations, promoter Michael Coppel Presents is expected to announce the two shows for Telstra Dome on March 24 and 25.

If the dates are confirmed, several hundred thousand people can be expected in the city centre for the shows and sold-out Games events at the MCG and Vodafone Arena.

Blue-ribbon Games events such as the men's and women's 4x100 metre running relays, finals in the women's pole vault — likely to feature Australia's Tatiana Grigorieva — and sold-out finals of the netball competition are the pick of Games finals on those days.

The Age believes the rock shows are not of major concern to Melbourne 2006 organisers, who have had strong ticket sales for the nights in question.

But the prospect of adding tens of thousands of concert-goers to Melbourne's public transport system — which is expected to carry 70 per cent of Games patrons — is a headache for the State Government, which is already under fire for its public transport policy.

Adding to the pressure, much of Melbourne, including the Docklands precinct around Telstra Dome, will be mired in traffic restrictions on those dates.

The men's 50-kilometre walk travels through Docklands on the day of the first U2 concert, causing many streets around Telstra Dome to be blocked off between midnight and 3.30pm.

Games chairman Ron Walker played down concerns and denied that Games organisers had tried to get the band to play at the closing ceremony.

Most major events have observed an unwritten rule not to schedule events during the Games, from March 15 to 26. Even movie distributors such as Village Roadshow have opted to not release new films during the Games, despite the period coinciding with school holidays.

As well as sports events, the Games will include a multimillion-dollar program of cultural events throughout the city — including at Docklands.

The Grand Prix and the Comedy Festival are among organisations to have rescheduled around the Commonwealth Games. Plans for Moomba have shifted several times. It will now take place on Monday, March 13.

Rumours of the U2 tour increased after Bono phoned horse trainer Lee Freedman to congratulate him on Makybe Diva's Melbourne Cup win, saying he hoped to meet the mare when he was next in Australia.

Posted on by Macphisto

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