In this Exclusive Interview with Chris Baldizan, the Sr. Vice President of Entertainment for MGM Resorts International, a reporter from the Guardian Liberty Voice talked with Mr. Baldizan and found out updated information about the upcoming Rock in Rio Festival that will take place in Las Vegas in May. Construction is now underway on this project, and the final venue will likely be a great resource for music, sports, and other entertainment events for the people of Las Vegas and be a major tourist draw.
Guardian Liberty Voice: In what ways will the Las Vegas City of Rock be different from the others around the world?
Chris Baldizan: As a quick clarification, the venue is called the MGM Resorts Festival Grounds. The first festival to be held on the grounds will be Rock in Rio. The City of Rock is what Rock in Rio calls the site when they occupy the venue. Another component of Rock in Rio is Rock Street, which consists of three (3) themed areas representing the United States, the United Kingdom and Brazil. Each “Rock Street” will have themed music, food and a variety of experiences as it relates to the respective culture. Rock in Rio is different than other music festivals worldwide because it is based on an immersive experience combining music, culture, food, production and media. The festival campaign began this past May and has continued throughout the year. For example in September, Rock in Rio celebrated its 30th anniversary with an event in Time Square that featured John Legend and interviews with No Doubt, all based around promoting Rock in Rio USA. Additionally, we hosted a “Rock Street” Media event at the Festival Grounds to give the local Las Vegas media and VIP guests a sneak peek at what is to come in May 2015.
Guardian Liberty Voice: Will the six stages and the rest of the sprawling 37 acres that will make up the City of Rock be used for any events prior to the Rock in Rio Festival in May?
Chris Baldizan: Rock in Rio will be the first event on the site. MGM Resorts International has partnered with Cirque du Soleil and Yucaipa to develop the site. Rock in Rio will start loading in their production starting in mid-March. While the nearly 50-acre venue is being designed with many Rock in Rio specifications, it also will be built to host a variety of other events including additional music festivals and sporting events.
Guardian Liberty Voice: One of the six stages will be called the Sunset Stage, right? Do the other ones have names yet?
Chris Baldizan: The main stage is called the World Stage. In addition to the Sunset stage there also is an electronic music stage, plus the three stages in Rock Street.
Guardian Liberty Voice: Are there contingency plans to still have events in the case of rain?
Chris Baldizan: First and foremost, our primary concern is the safety of our guests and artists. As we do at all of our MGM Resorts venues, we will make every effort to proceed with the event. We are fortunate that Las Vegas weather is typically void of much rain in May. If it does rain for an extended period of time and prevents us from moving forward with the festival on the scheduled dates, we would look at alternative dates as close to the original dates as possible.
Guardian Liberty Voice: I have heard that maybe one to three streets will be re-named with musical themes to them. Have any names been decided upon yet?
Chris Baldizan: At this point there have not been any other names designated for the Rock Street stages, but ultimately this will be up to the producers from Rock in Rio.
Guardian Liberty Voice: There will reportedly be cafes built in the area, also, if it is like other Cities of Rock around the world. Have any restaurants signed on to be there so far?
Chris Baldizan: We are currently finalizing our plans for the food and beverage program; part of that program will include diverse food offerings. To date, the lineup has yet to be confirmed.
Guardian Liberty Voice: How many acres will be devoted to parking — or, will people be bused in to events, possibly?
Chris Baldizan: There is no public parking on the site. We are working with the appropriate local government agencies and transportation services to develop a comprehensive transportation plan that will include shuttle buses, taxis and limousines. We also are encouraging guests to walk from properties along Las Vegas Blvd.
Guardian Liberty Voice: What is the overall projected cost of the entire project and what are some benefits to the city of Las Vegas?
Chris Baldizan: MGM Resorts International and our partners Cirque du Soleil and Yucaipa are spending approximately $20M to develop the site. Rock in Rio will spend approximately $50 to $60M to produce Rock in Rio. Along with the unprecedented media coverage that Las Vegas will receive, the economic impact also will be great. We are employing several thousand individuals to construct the venue and approximately 8,000 to work during the Festival itself. Las Vegas Events has worked with Rock in Rio to create room packages at many of the properties along The Strip. Many properties already have adjusted their rates during the two Rock in Rio weekends.
The capacity of the site is 80,000 with the majority of the fans/guests most likely coming from out of town. The first weekend of Rock in Rio is on Mother’s Day weekend, May 8 & 9, 2015, which has traditionally been a slower weekend in Las Vegas.
Guardian Liberty Voice: Will other events, like the iHeartRadio Music Festival and Electric Daisy Carnival, also be held there in the future?
Chris Baldizan: We have not had specific discussions with either of those festivals, but we will certainly be available for all types of festivals. MGM Resorts International has a great working relationship with many event promoters and producers and we will work with all of them to create new content.
Guardian Liberty Voice: What will be the cost of the tickets for the Las Vegas Rock in Rio two-weekend event?
Chris Baldizan: The two-day GA weekend pass is $298 while the Single-day VIP pass is $498. Tickets are available by calling TicketMaster at 800-745-3000 or online at www.ticketmaster.com/rockinriousa.
Guardian Liberty Voice: Finally, Scott, two of the acts who will be headlining are Taylor Swift and Metallica. John Mayer will be there, also. Have many more groups and singers been added so far?
Chris Baldizan: The current lineup looks like this with many more to be added and announced in the near future:
May 8: No Doubt
May 9: Metallica, Linkin Park, Rise Against, Deftones
May 15: Taylor Swift, Ed Sheeran
May 16: Bruno Mars, John Legend and Joss Stone
Guardian Liberty Voice: It has been a pleasure talking with you, Chris, and learning more about the latest updates to the upcoming Rock in Rio Festival this May! Thank you very much for taking the time out of your busy schedule to answer these interview questions for me.
Written By Douglas Cobb