BottleRock 2014

BottleRock wants 2014 repeat; Expo, city say let's talk first

Festival called a success, but kinks need to be worked out, officials say
2013-05-13T17:38:00Z 2014-05-01T14:37:41Z BottleRock wants 2014 repeat; Expo, city say let's talk firstCHANTAL M. LOVELL Napa Valley Register
May 13, 2013 5:38 pm  • 

With the wrap-up Sunday night of the five-day BottleRock extravaganza, the Napa Valley Expo and the city of Napa are now gearing up to decide how to handle plans for a repeat event next May.

Before Sunday night’s performance by the Zac Brown Band, event co-founders Gabriel Meyers and Bob Vogt said the largest event in city history would return for a second year, although for only three days instead of five. Meyers said the festival will return to the Expo on May 9, 10 and 11, 2014.

Although tickets to next year’s event are on sale now at, Expo and city officials have not yet given next year’s festival the green light.

Before the Expo talks about signing another contract with BottleRock, Napa Mayor Jill Techel said there need to be discussions about this year’s event and how to address problems, like a decrease in daytime business in downtown during the festival.

She would like to get totals on how much the city is owed by BottleRock for things like police overtime, and how much revenue downtown businesses pulled in, or didn’t, during the event.

“I want to have all the information about the financial impact and discuss how things can be mitigated before (the Expo board signs) a contract,” she said.

Because the Expo is state-owned property, the Expo board has full authority to permit activities there. However, BottleRock required a special event permit from the city of Napa because it closed streets and impacted the community. The event also required a significant number of the city’s public safety personnel and staff time.

BottleRock has not yet signed a contract with the Expo for the announced 2014 event, Napa Valley Expo CEO Joe Anderson said Monday. The Expo’s board of directors will review this year’s BottleRock on May 28.

The meeting starts at 1 p.m. in the Directors Cottage behind Chardonnay Hall. It is open to the public.

BottleRock did not return requests Monday for comment about last week’s festival or the decision to shrink the festival from five days to three.

Pre-BottleRock, organizers said around 11,000 were expected at Wednesday night’s soft-launch, and 35,000 each of the following four days.

On Sunday, organizers said about 10,000 attended Wednesday, 17,000 to 20,000 on Thursday, 30,000 on Friday, 35,000 on Saturday and about 30,000 Sunday.

The Expo’s Anderson said crowds left the fairgrounds in good condition, although the lawns, as is the case after every major event, need a good drink of water.

“I’m amazed at the respect of the people attending BottleRock and the good behavior we had,” Anderson said. “We had very few problems. It was loud, I understand that, and we will work on that in the future. I think BottleRock came through on its promises to neighbors to clean up, etc. There were hiccups, but we will work through them.”

Expo board president Al Wagner called BottleRock “a big success (with) very few incidents” and a big moneymaker for the fairgrounds

The festival likely generated $250,000 for the Expo — twice early estimates, Wagner said. This unprecedented windfall will help make up for the budget hit that the fairgrounds took two years ago when the state pulled its subsides of fairs.

BottleRock paid rent to the Expo and will give it a cut of alcohol sales.

If the Expo does end up reaping a quarter million dollars from BottleRock, it could likely freeze ticket prices for the Napa Town & Country Fair and building rental rates for years to come, according to Wagner.

“It was a win-win, not just for us but for everyone,” Wagner said.

Councilman Peter Mott, who attended four days of the festival, said he didn’t see many of the expected problems materialize.

“I was really impressed Gabe and Bob pulled this off and how few problems there were,” he said. “I talked to hundreds and hundreds of people. They were having a good time, enjoyed the valley and people here and everyone seemed to be friendly.”

Mott admitted there were some bumps, like shuttles taking a while to get to the Expo, but said he saw fewer traffic problems than he’d expected.

“I’m almost stunned at how well it went,” Mott said. “They did a great job planning and adapting.”

Techel said she too was impressed with how smoothly BottleRock went, though she did receive about 10 calls from Napa citizens.

“I talked to a gentleman on Friday night who had small children and his 2-year-old couldn’t fall asleep,” she recounted. “He was pretty frustrated with the noise that impacted his family.”

She said she spoke to a downtown restaurant employee who told her when he returned to his home around 2 a.m., he could hear trucks moving temporary traffic barriers around.

“The dinging of trucks backing up at 2 a.m. is something we can work on,” Techel said.

As for the helicopters that hovered over the Expo for hours each day and night, that’s something “everyone can agree was annoying,” Mott said.

Techel encouraged residents to contact the city about issues they experienced during the event.

She said the city has not yet had time to debrief, but will be meeting with BottleRock and the Expo board in the coming weeks. “I think there were less arrests, less vandalism and less parking problems downtown,” she said.

The Expo board approved BottleRock in December and event organizers started meeting with city staff about the surprise event earlier this year. Mott said he anticipates BottleRock will consult the city much sooner for its planned 2014 festival.

“I think they’ll probably start working with the city next month,” he said. “I’m very interested in working with them over the next year to make it a better festival. I’m a believer in it and a supporter of it and what it can do for the Napa Valley.”

So far, a community debriefing meeting on BottleRock, which event organizers promised to neighbors in the weeks preceding the event, has not been scheduled. Techel said she’d like the city to be part of that discussion.

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