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music festival

BottleRock signs 10-year contract with Expo

BottleRock 2015 (copy)

Fans listen as People Under the Stairs performs at BottleRock 2015. Napa Valley Expo and BottleRock’s promoter, Latitude 38 Entertainment, have signed a contract for more music festivals through 2026.

Napa Valley Expo has signed a 10-year contract with the promoters of BottleRock, setting the stage for three-day music festivals each spring through 2026.

The contract, worth more than $8 million, will help the Napa fairgrounds recover from the August 2014 earthquake and improve facilities, said Joe Anderson, the Expo’s CEO.

Thanks to the continued infusion of BottleRock revenue, “I think we have a bright future,” Anderson said this week.

Latitude 38, the BottleRock promoter, will take over most of the Expo for 35 days each spring to do the setup and teardown for a three-day festival during the last weekend of May or the first weekend of June.

The promoter will pay the Expo $769,500 in 2017, with the rental payment growing to $860,526 in 2026. Each year, the Expo and the promoter will designate $100,000 toward facility improvements that benefit both the festival and the fairgrounds, Anderson said.

BottleRock, now in its fourth year, has been a financial godsend for the Expo, helping the fairgrounds deal with the loss of two exhibit halls and food booths due to earthquake damage, Anderson said.

Without BottleRock’s rental fees, Anderson said he doubted that the Napa Town & Country Fair would have opened as scheduled last summer.

The Expo was scrimping along on an annual budget of $1.4 million before BottleRock came to town, Anderson said. The Expo expects revenue of $2.2 million this year, including $800,000 from BottleRock.

David Graham, CEO of Latitude 38 Entertainment LLC., said the 10-year contract would give festival organizers “the stability and ability to plan long-term.”

BottleRock is now on solid financial footing, Graham said, after a rough first year in 2014 when Latitude 38 took over a festival that had bled red ink its first year under the previous promoter, BR Festivals.

Revenue from a prosperous BottleRock “will allow the Expo to make a lot of improvements that are not only good for us, but other clients that use the Expo,” Graham said.

Al Wagner, president of the Expo’s board of directors, said BottleRock revenue would help the fairgrounds make improvements that a consultant, LSA Associates, will be recommending this year for the 30-acre fairgrounds.

In November, the Expo’s board of directors awarded a $183,000 contract to LSA to develop a new facilities master plan. Public meetings will be occurring in coming months to get comments on a new master plan.

Without BottleRock revenue, the best the Expo could have hoped for would have been to “patch and repair,” Wagner said. Now it can plan to build new facilities to replace the two exhibit halls, Cabernet and Merlot, razed after the quake, he said.

BottleRock, which attracted an estimated 105,000 customers last year, could potentially grow to bring in 120,000 fans during its three-day run, but it will never become a monster festival like Coachella, Graham said.

Attendance at that music festival was 579,000 over two weekends in 2014, according to the Los Angeles Times.

By also emphasizing food and wine, BottleRock is content to reflect the scale and what is special about the Napa Valley, he said.

His partners are happy to have a Friday-Sunday festival and not expand to a fourth day, Graham said. “I don’t think it pencils. People work,” he said.

The contract between the Expo and Latitude 38 runs 24 pages, with half the pages devoted to the Expo’s noise policy and the control of sound spilling off the fairgrounds.

Sound volumes will be monitored on the Expo site and in the surrounding neighborhood each day of the festival, with the Expo retaining the right to dial back the decibels.

Graham said sound complaints have dropped significantly since 2014, with the new promoters adjusting the direction of speakers and making other tweaks in response to neighbors’ concerns.

Latitude 38 is aggressive about trash pickup outside the Expo and placing portable restrooms off site as needed, Graham said.

On a personal level, Wagner said he “at least makes an appearance” at each year’s BottleRock, although he’s not a big fan of contemporary music. Fortunately, “they always have something that reminds me of my high school days back in the ‘80s,” he said.

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