We landed at Trudeau International Airport in Montreal at 8:30 on October 1st. I was speaking at and attending the International Smart Cities and Sports Summit. After a quick meal at a local restaurant, we retired. The television was on at 1:30 AM-EST, when I picked up the first hint of problems in Las Vegas. As most news, it developed slowly with a report of two dead at the Rt. 91 Harvest Music Festival. Not much more for an hour. I fell back asleep and awoke again at 5:30, to the realization of what really happened. At that time, it was 50 dead. All four days in Montreal we saw what happened here, through the eyes of CNN.
It’s been a month since my last blog. I wasn’t at Route 91. Those I knew who were there, escaped unharmed, physically. But, the images of that night and the aftermath dampened my appetite to write about live music. What people have not heard, is how quickly this festival developed into what it is today.
In 2013, MGM built the Las Vegas Village on a 15-acre parking lot across from Luxor on the south Strip. The Village has a stage and 12,000 square feet of field turf in front of it; on each side stage are eight triple- decker VIP suites seating 125. On October 3-5, 2014, Route 91 Harvest Country Music Festival launched. The festival was the brainchild of Chris Baldizan, senior vice president of entertainment at MGM Resorts and Brian O’Connell who runs a division of Live Nation that stages country music concerts. The festival was named for the original US highway that ran between Las Vegas and Los Angeles.
The foundation of the festival is “The Village”.
The festival runs 10 hours a day. In its first year, the festival drew 15,000 a day. Year two, 2015, with Florida Georgia Line, Tim McGraw, and Keith Urban headlining, it sold out its capacity of 25,000 per night. Ditto in 2016, with Luke Bryan, Toby Keith, and Brad Paisley headlining. Sunday, October 1st, should have been a round of high fives for its third consecutive sellout. Instead, it marred the lives of the 22,000 that were there.
We are all looking for answers to the senseless massacres that plague our country. However, without the resolve to break through the political obstacles that allow the sale of repeat weapons, we will be left with plans to ensure safety at all outdoor events. So, where do we go from here.
I don’t know about elsewhere, but the plan in Vegas will be swift and thorough. Route 91, like all the festivals here, had an exceptional plan to secure 22,000 fans. It however, did not account for a madman that concocted a massacre that required weaponry with repeat, 400-yard range capabilities. In the future, it will.
Route 91 will be back. 45,000 runners will run the strip at the Rock ‘N Roll Marathon, November 12th and 300,000 revelers will be there New Years Eve.