Coachella festival may be rescheduled due to coronavirus threat
As the coronavirus continues to spread and upend travel plans and day-to-day life, the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival is set to become the latest casualty.
Multiple sources report that Coachella promoter Goldenvoice is in talks with artists to move the 2020 edition of the event, which was set to take place on two consecutive weekends starting April 10, to Oct. 9 and 16. It is also working to move the Stagecoach country music festival to a fall weekend.
Coachella, which occurs every April at the Empire Polo Club in Indio, is slated to feature more than 150 acts, with Rage Against the Machine, Travis Scott and Frank Ocean as headliners. Set for April 24-26, Stagecoach touts a lineup led by Thomas Rhett, Carrie Underwood and Eric Church.
Coachella is expected to draw 250,000 fans over its two weekends.
Neither Goldenvoice nor its parent company, AEG, has made an announcement concerning the fate of the festivals.
The possible postponements follow SXSW’s announcement on Friday that the city of Austin had pulled the plug on its March series of music, media and film conferences. On Sunday, organizers for the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, not far from Indio, canceled the annual tennis tournament after the Riverside County Public Health Department confirmed the first local case of coronavirus and declared a public health emergency.
Days later, three new cases were announced in Riverside County.
In Indio and Palm Springs, residents fear not only the spread of coronavirus from the influx of fans for the Coachella festival, but the loss in revenue as well.
As of Monday, at least 545 people were confirmed to have contracted the virus in the U.S., with at least 22 deaths.
Long considered the kickoff to the spring and summer concert season, Coachella and Stagecoach have pumped both cultural and commercial energy into the Southern California music scene for 21 years. Palm Springs-area merchants work the April festival windfalls into their budgets. Thousands of temporary workers relocate to the area to service the 250,000 festival attendees, who inject well over $700 million into the region’s economy.
While thus far coronavirus has mostly forced concert cancellations overseas, concern grows that U.S. music festivals and large-scale gatherings may be susceptible.
Addressing the coronavirus situation last Wednesday, Riverside County director of public health Kim Saruwatari, whose purview includes Indio, told The Times that the county had been reaching out to event organizers to confer.
“We’re not ready to pull the trigger on anything, but we want to make sure we can protect the community,” Saruwatari said. “This virus is changing day by day, hour by hour. We’re monitoring it very closely. We’re going to do our best to give advance notice, but it’s a fluid situation, and if we have to make a decision late we’ll do that.”
The possible postponement by Goldenvoice is the latest in a series of disruptions related to the virus’ spread. In addition to the cancellation of SXSW, the Ultra Music Festival in Miami postponed its annual electronic music showcase earlier this month. On Monday, rock band Pearl Jam postponed the North American leg of its upcoming tour.
The fate of Coachella is being watched closely by the promoters of the season’s other major outdoor music festivals, including the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, Electric Daisy Carnival, Bonnaroo and Lollapalooza.
Staff writer Randall Roberts provided additional reporting.
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