Rock In Rio U.S. Unites with Yucaipa, MGM, & Cirque du Soleil for 2015 Launch


According to Billboard Magazine, the U.S. debut of Rock In Rio in Las Vegas will be held over two weekends in May 2015 where an open-air venue will be constructed for an 80,000 person capacity on the Strip. The venue is expected to boast themed streets with sounds and sights from the U.K. and Brazil. Fans can expect over 100 music artists playing on 6 stages as well as a flying DJ booth over head. Fans can also fly over the crowd on a 400 foot zip line and on the roulette looking Ferris wheel.

“It’s like an amusement park with a lot of different attractions,” Rock In Rio CEO, Luis Justo, told Billboard. “More than the talent itself, the experience that the crowd has at Rock In Rio is really different.”

Rock In Rio was founded by Brazilian entrepreneur Roberto Medina in 1985. Rock In Rio calls itself the “World’s Biggest Music Festival” and over 7 million fans have experienced this festival in Madrid, Rio, and Lisbon (Portugal).  The five day Lisbon festival next month will feature sets by Lorde, Arcade Fire, the Rolling Stones, Linkin Park, and Justin Timberlake. Past Rock In Rio festivals have featured major acts like Bruce Springsteen, Iron Maiden, and Beyonce.

Rock In Rio has partnered with Yucaipa Companies, MGM Resorts International, and Cirque du Soleil to build the outdoor concert venue and bring an exceptional experience to festival goers when it debuts in Las Vegas in 2015. Cirque, Yucaipa, and MGM are expected to collectively invest $20 million for the construction of the permanent open-air venue named “City of Rock” over 33 acres of land located on the Strip at Sahara Avenue. Rock In Rio will not own any part of the the new venue, but will host at least 3 future festivals at the new location. A formal announcement of the deal is expected soon.

“Rock In Rio is every two years, so we have 2015, 2017 and 2019 guaranteed,” Justo said to Billboard.

The new venue will be similar to past Rock In Rio festivals, which will include shopping outlets, food courts, city-themed streets, and 5 stages.

“We had our engineers design all the infrastructure, because we have the experience of premiere and world-class outdoor venues,” Justo said. “It’s all underground cabling, artificial grass, real toilets — it’s a very premium festival experience.”

The new venue breaks ground in July and construction is expected to take place for around 7 months. Bill Hornbuckle, MGM Resorts International Chief Marketing Officer and President, told Billboard that the venue will be used for sporting events as well as festivals other than Rock In Rio.

“The opportunity outside of the 45-day setup and 30-day teardown (for Rock In Rio) is that we have the venue for other like activities, whether it’s a country, jazz or food festival,” Hornbuckle said. “We could also envision doing outdoor boxing or UFC matches for 50,000 people, or we could set up a temporary environment for Major League Soccer.”

Justo told Billboard that the partnership between Cirque du Soleil and Rock In Rio was a natural one because of their “same obsession for creating a close and emotional connection to big audiences.” But the CEO points out that fans of Cirque won’t find at Rock In Rio the unique characters and famous acrobatics that the brand is known for. He said that Cirque has been included because of the company’s “deep knowledge of the market and consumer behavior.”

Since it’s safe to assume that most U.S. music fans have never heard of Rock In Rio, the festival already has an impressive marketing plan in place for maximum exposure. Rock In Rio is spending $30 million on advertising in entertainment and trade magazines, cable TV, cinema, print, mobile, digital, and radio. Rock In Radio has also united with Clear Channel’s iHeartRadio to promote the festival to the digital platform’s millions of listeners. They have also partnered with Cinemark, AMC, and NCM Network’s Regail movie theaters to feature the festival during previews.

The Rock In Rio Vegas bookers are starting to secure artists for the U.S. festival. Justo said that fans can expect massive headliners like festivals in the past. The festival will be held over 2 weekends with upwards of 120 artists over the 4 days. “It will be different lineups,” Justo told Billboard. “One weekend will be more pop oriented and the other will be more rock oriented.”

Fans will find five stages during the day that will include an Indie stage, EDM stage, and main stage, but there will be a surprise for dance music lovers at the end of each night.

“At the end of the last headliner on the main stage, a DJ will literally come flying from the main stage to the middle of the crowd,” Justo told Billboard. “And Rock in Rio will transform into a 360-degree nightclub.”

Rock In Rio U.S. tickets are expected to go on sale in January 2015.

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