KAABOO San Diego announces 2022 return after two-year absence, but when and where remain a mystery

Fans cheer at KAABOO Del Mar on Sept. 13, 2019.
Fans cheer as Kings of Leon perform at the Sunset Cliffs stage at KAABOO Del Mar on Sept. 13, 2019. The festival, since renamed KAABOO San Diego and set to be moved to Petco Park, has not been held since then.
(K.C. Alfred / The San Diego Union-Tribune)

The San Diego Padres, whose Petco Park was set to host the festival, have still not been contacted by KAABOO’s representatives


KAABOO San Diego is set to return after a two-year hiatus, although details about exactly when and where the upscale music, comedy and food festival will take place are unclear. The event’s planned debut at Petco Park, which was pushed back last year and again this year, appears to be in doubt.

In a press release and social media announcement issued Monday afternoon, KAABOO indicated plans are underway for “its official return for 2022.”

The release offered no specifics, although it stated that “announcements of official dates, ticketing information, talent lineup, and more” will be forthcoming. Tickets for the canceled 2021 edition will be valid at next year’s edition, according to the release, which makes no reference to refunds as an option.

The release also did not indicate if the festival, which was held from 2015 to 2019 at the Del Mar Fairgrounds, will take place at Petco Park as originally planned.

In September 2019, KAABOO was acquired for more than $10 million by Virgin Produced. Concurrently, KAABOO announced a multiyear partnership with the San Diego Padres to hold the festival at the downtown ballpark, starting last year.

But the 2020 edition of KAABOO was shelved because of the COVID-fueled shutdown of live events. By the end of last year Virgin Produced honcho Jason Felts — who had been KAABOO’s managing partner — had exited, along with KAABOO’s chief marketing officer.

In June, the Padres told the Union-Tribune they had not heard from anyone connected with KAABOO since last year. That is still the case now.

“We have not been contacted by KAABOO about hosting their event at Petco Park in 2022,” a Padres representative told the Union-Tribune on Monday. “Unfortunately, that’s all the info we have to share on this topic.”

In response to a Monday email from the Union-Tribune requesting details about the 2022 festival, KAABOO’s press office — which did not provide a phone number — answered with a brief form letter.

It read, in part: “We are not granting any interviews with any company representatives at this time.” The press office did not respond to a subsequent Union-Tribune email asking about the location of KAABOO’s 2022 edition.

Monday’s KAABOO press release includes a statement from Felts, who is identified as KAABOO’s former chief marketing officer, not its former managing partner.

In his statement, Felts acknowledged “much reported controversy surrounding KAABOO’s former ownership in 2019 ...” He apologized for KAABOO’s long radio silence, noting that it “was beyond my personal control.”

Now, he said in the statement, “I am pleased to announce that the KAABOO brand and event is in great hands and is here to stay. Although I do not run the brand or event any longer, I am thrilled that the forthcoming announcement from the festival organizers will please all past, present and future KAABOO fans.

“I look forward to attending the event as a spectator and watching key members of my former team do what they do best.”

The identities of the company representatives and key team members cited in Felts’ statement are, for now, unknown.

It is also unclear who will now operate Virgin Fest, a Los Angeles music festival — co-founded by Felts — that was set to debut last summer. It was also pushed back to this summer and has yet to be rescheduled.

On paper, at least, both festivals are still under the umbrella of Virgin Produced. Felts stepped down from his production role at KAABOO and Virgin Fest last year. But he remains on the board of directors for both, according to his LinkedIn profile.

Virgin Produced is part of space-flying billionaire Richard Branson’s worldwide Virgin business empire. Florida real estate mogul Marc Hagle is one of the main investors in Virgin Fest and — by extension — KAABOO.

Hagle is the president and CEO of Tampa-based Tricor International Corp. He has invested more than $15 million in the two festivals, according to the music industry magazine Billboard.

Representatives of Tricor did not respond to messages from the Union-Tribune Monday. Litigation between Virgin Fest and KAABOO’s original owners has yet to be fully resolved.