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Napa's BottleRock remains scheduled for May amid growing coronavirus uncertainty
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Napa's BottleRock remains scheduled for May amid growing coronavirus uncertainty

BottleRock 2019 sunday

Crowds gather at BottleRock on the third day of the festival in 2019. The festival remains regularly scheduled for Memorial Day of this year, organizers said in a statement.

Editor's Note: BottleRock organizers have announced the will postpone the festival until October.

In the wake of several high-profile music festival cancellations and postponements, BottleRock remains scheduled for Memorial Day weekend, organizers say.

The novel coronavirus’s spread through the United States this week prompted the cancellation of South by Southwest (SXSW), a music and film festival in Austin in March. It also sparked postponement until October of Coachella and Stagecoach, twin music festivals normally held just weeks apart in the spring in Indio.

BottleRock Napa Valley, which attracts an estimated 40,000 concertgoers per day, said in a written statement that it would plan to host the sold-out, three-day festival as normal.

“Naturally, the safety and security of our patrons, employees, and the surrounding community is our utmost concern and, therefore, we are in regular coordination and communication with our local and state health authorities, as well as the CDC,” the statement continued.

This year’s headliners include Red Hot Chili Peppers, Dave Matthews Band and Stevie Nicks as well as popular performers like Miley Cyrus, Anderson .Paak and Maggie Rogers.

As the outbreak develops in California, so, too, has the response from local and state officials. Governor Gavin Newsom on Wednesday joined state health officials in recommending gatherings of more than 250 people be cancelled at least through the end of March.

The festival, produced by Latitude 38 Entertainment, is generally one of his busiest weekends of the year, according to Mauro Pando, who owns Grace’s Table in downtown Napa. The restaurant typically serves about 1,600 customers over the festival’s duration, he said.

“We do extraordinarily well,” he said. “We’ll do 400 people for four days in a row before 5 p.m. and then we’ll get locals who come for a quiet meal while everyone who’s visiting is at the show.”

BottleRock “clearly” has a large positive impact on the local economy, according to Craig Smith, executive director of the Downtown Napa Association.

“Everybody does great business (during the festival),” Smith added, noting upticks in business for hotels and restaurants. Hotels are generally able to charge higher rates and book guests for longer stretches of time, he added.

Napa Mayor Jill Techel said that BottleRock had “evolved to be a very positive event” for Napa. In an email, the mayor said she was more concerned with keeping the community safe and “finding ways to keep people working” as the city prepared for a drop in tourism.

Napa County has yet to report a case of the virus, though county Public Health Officer Karen Relucio on Tuesday told supervisors that its arrival in Napa was “just a matter of time.”

Share prices in Live Nation Entertainment, Inc., which purchased BottleRock in 2017, have fallen almost 50% over the last month, with the company especially vulnerable to impacts of coronavirus-related event closures.

Payton Coelho, a Placer County resident and previous BottleRock attendee, took to Twitter on Wednesday to express his concern that the festival would be canceled. He and his girlfriend both attended the festival last year, he said in a message, and purchased tickets for this year the day they went live for purchase.

Coelho said his concern stemmed from “Coachella, South by Southwest and E3 either being postponed or canceled all together.” E3, the Electronic Entertainment Expo, is a popular gaming three-day conference annually in Los Angeles. Its cancellation was announced Tuesday.

Coelho said he’d also heard Coachella had been postponed as opposed to cancelled—a solution that could work for BottleRock, if necessary, he added.

“I thought how that would be nice for BottleRock, too, as long as the bands I was hoping to see were still in attendance,” Coelho wrote.

A number of other Twitter users had also taken to the platform to express similar concerns.

BottleRock via its Twitter account Wednesday wrote that it would “give an update to anyone” who reached out via social media or by email. No mention of the statement was listed on the festival’s website as of Thursday afternoon.

BottleRock is held notably later in the year than are festivals like SXSW, Coachella and StageCoach, though E3, the gaming expo, was scheduled to be held in June prior to its cancellation.

Several Bay Area counties in the wake of mounting numbers of confirmed cases of the virus have asked vulnerable residents – the elderly and persons with compromised immune systems – to take precautions to protect themselves against spread of the disease. San Francisco and Santa Clara counties earlier in the week outright banned gatherings of more than 1,000 people. No such ban has been enacted in Napa County.

“Right now, each day something comes up or changes, so it is unknown what the situation will be in May,” Techel said, describing the outbreak as the community’s latest disaster.

“There is so much to consider these days as we look at keeping the community safe.”

If BottleRock were to be canceled or postponed, Techel said, it would “return and continue to be a great showcase” for Napa at another time.

You can reach Sarah Klearman at (707) 256-2213 or sklearman@napanews.com.

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Wine Industry Reporter

Wine industry reporter at the Napa Valley Register.

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