Coachella and Stagecoach 2020 festivals canceled because of coronavirus pandemic
First pushed back from April to October, the two music festivals in Indio have now been canceled for 2020 by the Riverside County Department of Public Health
After being postponed from April to October because of the coronavirus pandemic, the 2020 Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival and the 2020 Stagecoach country-music festival in Indio were canceled on Wednesday by the Riverside County Department of Public Health.
AEG Presents/Goldenvoice, which produces both festivals, has yet to issue a statement and the websites for both events still indicate they will be taking place in October. However, Riverside County Public Health Officer Dr. Cameron Kaiser announced the cancellations Wednesday afternoon.
“I am concerned as indications grow that COVID-19 could worsen in the fall,” Kaiser said in the statement. “In addition, events like Coachella and Stagecoach would fall under Governor Newsom’s Stage 4, which he has previously stated would require treatments or a vaccine to enter. Given the projected circumstances and potential, I would not be comfortable moving forward.
“These decisions are not taken lightly with the knowledge that many people will be impacted. My first priority is the health of the community.”
The cancellations were prompted by continuing California state health mandates regulating live events. Those regulations currently prohibit even small live public performances, let alone massive, multi-day festivals, which attract hundreds of thousands of people and make safe social distancing virtually impossible.
Coachella, which is held over two consecutive three-day weekends in April, has a daily attendance of at least 125,000. The three-day Stagecoach, which is held a week later, has a daily attendance of 85,000.
Twenty percent of the attendees for both festivals each year hail from San Diego County, according to AEG Presents/Goldenvoice, which tracks ticket sales byZIP code. AEG Presents/Goldenvoice owns a controlling interest in Pechanga Arena San Diego (formerly the San Diego Sports Arena) and exclusively books the 39-year-old Humphreys Concerts by the Bay series on Shelter Island. That series, which was scheduled to kick off its 2020 season on April 3, has yet to begin.
The announcement of the cancellations of the 2020 editions of Coachella and Stagecoach is not surprising, but it is a major blow for fans and the live music industry as a whole. Numerous other festivals this year have been pushed back to 2021 because of the coronavirus pandemic, including Wonderfront in San Diego, Lollapalooza in Chicago, the Isle of Wight in England and the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, which is also produced by AEG Presents/Goldenvoice.
On Monday, AEG — the parent company of AEG Presents and Goldenvoice — informed its employees that layoffs, furloughs and salary reductions will take place July 1. That decision was announced in a company-wide memo to employees from AEG Chief Executive Dan Beckerman.
“This global pandemic has disrupted life for everyone, and the shelter-in-place orders, while critical to flatten the curve, have dealt a devastating blow to our businesses,” Beckerman wrote in the memo, a copy of which was obtained by the Union-Tribune’s sister paper, the Los Angeles Times.
“It is clear now that live events with fans will not resume for many months and likely not until sometime in 2021, so we are faced with no easy options. ... Our businesses were among the first to close, and unfortunately will be among the last to reopen.”
The prognosis for the 2021 editions of Coachella and Stagecoach remains unclear. However, Billboard magazine reported on Tuesday that the two most likely options are either that both festivals will be held next spring, with significantly reduced audience capacities, or that both will be pushed back to late 2021, when admitting larger audiences appear more feasible.
As of Wednesday afternoon, it was not known if the headliners for both of the postponed dates for this year’s now-canceled Coachella — Frank Ocean, Travis Scott and the reunited Rage Against The Machine — will headline the 2021 edition of the festival. It was unclear how many of the other 100-plus acts booked for this year will also be moved into the 2021 lineup.
Likewise, it remains to be seen if the headliners for this year’s canceled Stagecoach festival — Thomas Rhett, Carrie Underwood and Eric Church — will also top the bill for the 2021 edition.
Coachella was launched in 1999 on the grassy grounds of Indio’s Empire Polo Club, which has also been the home for Stagecoach since the latter festival debuted in 2007 with a lineup that included Willie Nelson and San Diego’s Nickel Creek. The 2017 Coachella festival, the last year for which AEG/Goldenvoice released figures, drew a combined two-weekend audience of 750,000 and grossed a record $115 million.
When the two festivals were postponed in April, ticket pass holders had the option of requesting refunds or using their passes for the new dates in October. It is unclear if the tickets for the postponed 2020 dates will also be valid for the 2021 edition of Coachella and Stagecoach — or when the two festivals might take place.
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