Digest -- U.Va. Top News Daily
Stones concert to be first of many such acts rolling onto Grounds
Photo by Dan Addison
|U.Va.’s Leonard W. Sandridge (right) and Tres Thomas, who helps organize Rolling Stones’ tours, announce the band’s stop here on Oct. 6 at a May 10 press conference, held at Bryant Hall in Scott Stadium.
By Dan Heuchert
The Rolling Stones’ latest North American tour includes stops in Boston, Washington, New York, Atlanta, San Francisco, Seattle — and — on Oct. 6 — Charlottesville.
Charlottesville? Charlottesville, Virginia?
Yes, that Charlottesville. And get used to it. The University intends to be a player on the concert and entertainment circuit, thanks in large part to the advent of the 15,000-seat John Paul Jones Arena, set to open next summer.
“This is an announcement about more than a single event,” said Leonard W. Sandridge, the University’s executive vice president and chief operating officer, at a May 10 press conference formally announcing the Rolling Stones appearance. “…This marks a change in the kind of cultural experiences that the University and surrounding areas can expect.”
Sandridge elaborated later via e-mail. “We strive to provide a full range of opportunities for our students, including special events and activities outside the classroom. At the same time, the University places priority on our outreach responsibilities to the community, including faculty and staff. With the completion of the John Paul Jones Arena, we will have a multipurpose facility that provides expanded opportunities for special events and activities. We intend to make good use of it.
“This is not a new idea,” he continued. “The University’s history is rich with examples of national performers, leaders and events that used the University as a venue in the 1940s and 1950s. One could say that we are sustaining a commitment that was an important and successful part of our past.”
So, what kinds of acts will be on the way?
“We’re looking at anything that makes sense” for the area, said Larry Wilson of Stadium Management Corp., which the University recently engaged to book events for the arena and Scott Stadium. “We want to make sure that we appeal to the entire community, and not just one segment.”
There will be other concerts, but also conventions and sporting events. For example, talks are already under way with the Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey Circus and the Harlem Globetrotters, Wilson said.
To the new arena, add the new downtown amphitheater, the restored Paramount Theater and the football stadium, and Charlottesville has an array of attractive venues, Wilson said.
The University is taking a more aggressive stance toward booking events, but the Rolling Stones’ tour organizers initiated the contacts that led to the Oct. 6 show, officials said.
Tres Thomas, director of touring for Toronto-based The Next Adventure, has been involved in the Stones’ last three tours. He also is a Charlottesville resident.
The band expressed an interest in playing new venues this time around, Thomas said, and he contacted University officials in early Februrary. “Little did I know Charlottesville would make the final cut.”
Some 50,000 tickets, which were offered to the public on May 20 (with limited sales earlier to U.Va. staff and students), were sold out within several hours of going on sale.
Speaking via a live feed from New York, Rolling Stones lead singer Mick Jagger said that an unusual stage design will bring about 400 fans onstage.
“You’ll get a great view of our bums so we’re going to have to work on them a bit,” he quipped.