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Star-studded kick-off event set for F1 Las Vegas

The inaugural Formula 1 Las Vegas Grand Prix will kick off with a star-studded showcase, featuring artists including J Balvin, Journey, Keith Urban, and Steve Aoki.

Set for Wednesday, 15 November, the jam-packed event will precede the first-ever Vegas GP weekend. The opening ceremony will span seven stages and include performances from will.i.am, Thirty Seconds to Mars, Bishop Briggs, Swedish House Mafia, along with appearances by the Blue Man Group and Cirque du Soleil.

“It was important for us to create an opening ceremony that balances the spirit of Las Vegas with the global excitement that Formula 1 and these incredible drivers bring to each host city,” says Renee Wilm, Las Vegas Grand Prix, Inc. CEO.

The opening ceremony is expected to garner 30,000 attendees, will be broadcast nationally, and will be streamed globally on F1’s YouTube channel. An estimated 300,000 people will attend the maiden three-day event in Nevada.

“We are proud to be able to work with the very best in the entertainment production space”

“We are proud to be able to work with the very best in the entertainment production space to offer one of the most diverse line-ups of beloved musical superstars, which will officially launch the race week festivities,” says Wilm.

The Wednesday celebration adds to the F1 weekend’s entertainment lineup, with performances from Mark Ronson, Kylie Minogue, Nile Rogers & Chic, and Major Lazer to take place at the T-Mobile Zone at Sphere. The track will encircle the new 18,600-cap MSG venue, which will have a dedicated fan zone during the event weekend.

Breaking from the traditional weekend calendar, the race will take place on the evening of Saturday (18 November) instead of the Sunday. The third race held in the US this year, following races in Miami and Austin, the Las Vegas GP will transform the iconic Las Vegas Boulevard into a high-impact race course.

Expected to be “one of the biggest sporting events of the year”, according to F1, the flurry of entertainment corresponds with a new venue boom in Sin City.

The $2.3bn Sphere, which opened in September, will see U2 play 11 more dates during their U2:UV Achtung Baby residency. Additionally, the new luxury resort Fontainebleau will launch its intimate 3,600-cap BleauLive Theatre with two nights from Post Malone later this year.


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Virtual Tomorrowland gets “world’s fastest flyer”

Tomorrowland will advertise its upcoming virtual event, Tomorrowland Around the World, with the “world’s fastest flyer” – an ad on the side of a Formula 1 car – at this weekend’s Austrian grand prix.

Marking the first time a music festival has appeared on an F1 car, the Tomorrowland Around the World logo will appear on the McLaren MCL35M driven by Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo as part of a partnership with McLaren sponsor British American Tobacco (BAT), which will hand over its spot on the car for the race on 4 July.

While Tomorrowland, the world’s biggest dance music festival, has been forced to cancel its flagship physical event in Boom, Belgium, there will be a Tomorrowland festival this year in the form of the second edition of Tomorrowland: Around the World, a virtual festival with Armin van Buuren, Nicky Romero, Charlotte de Witte and other international DJs taking place place on 16 and 17 July. Over 1m people bought tickets for last year’s Around the World event.


The partnership with BAT will use the “global audiences of the grand prix to drive visibility to the digital festival” for both new and existing Tomorrowland fans, says BAT.

John Beasley, group head of brand building for BAT, comments: “McLaren is more than a partner in motorsport; we share a love of music and innovation, and this provides a never-before-seen opportunity to make a statement for our music-loving fans of motor racing and provid[e] much-needed support for the live music industry.

“We always want to help our partners and give back to the fans, and while Tomorrowland may not happen in person in 2021, together we have created the world’s fastest flyer for the greatest digital music festival.”

Tickets for Tomorrowland Around the World, which takes place in a virtual world on the “magical island” of Pāpiliōnem, are priced from €20.


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Turkish GP shifts 40,000 tickets in six hours

In news likely to make many a concert promoter weep, the Turkish Formula 1 grand prix sold more than 40,000 tickets within six hours of Wednesday morning’s onsale, promoter Intercity has announced.

The first tickets for the race, priced at ₺30 (€3.50) per day or ₺90 (€10) for a three-day pass, were released on 16 September. Organisers are targeting an audience of 100,000 for the grand prix, which will take place on 15 November at the 220,000-capacity Istanbul Park circuit.

According to Intercity chairman Vural Ak, a socially distanced six-figure crowd can easily be accommodated with the track at less than half its capacity. “We know the capacity of this track,” he told reporters at a press conference earlier this month. “Around 220,000 spectators can watch the race in the grandstands and in the open areas.

“At the moment, for safety reasons, if we close some sections, about 100,000 spectators will be able to watch the race by following social distancing rules.”

“About 100,000 spectators will be able to watch the race by following social distancing rules”

Formula 1 is returning to Turkey for the first time since 2011 this year, with Istanbul added to the revised 2020 F1 calendar late last month.

According to PlanetF1.com, Intercity is not expecting to turn a profit for the event.

“Formula 1 normally has certain standards, and ticket prices are at a certain level,” says Ak. “However, we do not seek to gain financial advantage from this, and the government has encouraged us [to go ahead with a low ticket price].”

The first eight races of the F1 season were held without fans, with the ninth, 13 September’s Tuscan Grand Prix at Mugello, Italy, the first to have an audience, selling 2,880 tickets per day.


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T4F sells stock-car biz to focus on music

Time for Fun (T4F Entertainment) has sold its shareholdings in Vicar Sports Promotions, the promoter of Brazil’s popular Stock Car and Stock Car Light racing series, to focus on its core live music business.

Sao Paulo-based T4F is South America’s leading live entertainment company, promoting shows and festivals and running venues in Brazil and Argentina. It has been in control of the Nascar-inspired Stock Car series since 2006.

The sale of Vicar, to Veloci Investments, is “aligned to the company’s strategic planning in order to increase its efforts to the promotion of major music festivals and live concerts, as well as family events and theatre”, according to T4F’s CFO, André Pinheiro Veloso. T4F’s festivals include Lollapalooza Brazil and Popload Festival.

The proceeds will reinforce Time for Fun’s cash position, he adds.

Similarly to other public live entertainment businesses, T4F saw its turnover decline 98% in the second quarter of 2020 as touring ground to a halt.


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Cyrus cancels bushfire benefit, but Aus GP to go ahead

Miley Cyrus has cancelled her headline performance at the World Tour Bushfire Relief show in Melbourne this Friday (13 March) owing to concerns over the spread of coronavirus.

The show – part of Apollo World Touring and Westbrook Inc.’s new World Tour concert series – was due to take place at Lakeside Stadium on the eve of this weekend’s Australian grand prix, with Lil Nas X and the Veronicas also due to perform.

“Due to the recommendations of local, state, federal and international government authorities, including the [US] Center for Disease Control, to reduce potential health risks in response to the current global health crisis we are no longer traveling to Aus for the show,” Cyrus announced on Twitter yesterday.

Following Cyrus’s cancellation, promoter TEG Dainty said the whole show had been cancelled and that fans would receive a refund via ticket agency Ticketek.

“World Tour’s Saturday night show with Robbie Williams will still be going ahead, and we look forward to bringing Melbourne a fantastic night of entertainment,” reads a statement from TEG Dainty. “Robbie is already on his way to Australia.”

The Australian grand prix – the opening race of the 2020 Formula 1 season – will still go ahead as planned this Sunday (15 March), say organisers.

Andrew Westacott, CEO of the Australian Grand Prix Corporation, says – unlike 20 March’s Bahrain grand prix, which will be spectator-less – the race will go ahead with fans in attendance. “We’ve got to go around things sensibly,” he says “We have to keep moving on through life while taking precautions.”

Professor Brendan Murphy, the chief medical officer for the Australian government, said that holding Sunday’s race would not pose a risk to public health, reports the BBC.

“I’m not feeling at all concerned going to mass gatherings or walking down the streets in Victoria,” he said. “So I don’t think that there’s a risk at the grand prix.”

“We have to keep moving on through life while taking precautions”

Other high-profile Covid-19-related cancellations over the last 24 hours include Madonna’s Madame X world tour, which has lost its final two shows in France, and Pearl Jam, who have been forced to call off a 17-date North American tour.

The Queen of Pop was due to play the 2,800-capacity Grand Rex in Paris tonight and tomorrow (10–11 March). However, as of Sunday (8 March), the French government has outlawed gatherings of more than 1,000 people (down from a previous ban of shows over 5,000 fans), meaning that (“with profound regret” on Madonna’s part) the concerts cannot go ahead.

Meanwhile, Pearl Jam have postponed a North American trek due to begin in Toronto on 18 March.

“We are being told that being part of large gatherings is high on the list of things to avoid, as this global health crisis is now beginning to affect all of our lives,” reads a statement from the grunge veterans.

“So it is with deep frustration and regret that we are forced to make this most unfortunate of announcements.” A European tour is due to begin in June.

Photo © Raph_PH on Flickr (CC BY 2.0)


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Hockenheimring could become permanent concert venue

Hockenheimring, the motor racing circuit formerly home to German grand prix, could become a permanent live entertainment venue, under plans being drawn up by track bosses and local authorities.

The 4.57km (2.84mi) circuit, located near the town of Hockenheim in the Rhine valley, has capacity for 120,000 spectators, with past major music events including FKP Scorpio’s recent open-air Ed Sheeran shows and DEAG’s short-lived Matapaloz festival in 2017.

Despite a spectacular race last July, widely regarded as the best of the 2019 Formula 1 season, the German grand prix is not on the calendar for 2020, and the future of the event remains in doubt.

Hockenheimring (pictured) has additionally lost an event from another crucial motor racing championship, German Touring Car Masters (DTM), in 2020, and circuit management are reportedly looking to diversify further beyond motorsports.

“Despite the long tradition of motor racing at the Ring, further development … is necessary”

Local MP Karl Klein, who was invited to the track recently by Emodrom Group, the company responsible for its development, tells the Rhein-Neckar-Zeitung (RNZ): “Despite the long tradition of [motor racing at] the Ring, further development and adapting to societal developments is necessary.”

According to the RNZ, “whatever the fate of the Ring, it will remain open to large public events with 100,000 or more visitors, officials emphasise. This means, above all, large open-air concerts. On this scale, [Hockenheimring] has a unique selling point in Germany that it doesn’t want to give up.”

The venue is also a suitable location for trade fairs, with Emodrom’s E4 Festival of electric cars taking place at the Hockenheimring in June.


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Robbie Williams to headline inaugural World Tour show

Robbie Williams will inaugurate World Tour, a new global concert series set to debut on Saturday 14 March during the 2020 Australian grand prix.

In his only Australian performance of 2020, the British star will headline World Tour Melbourne, taking place at Lakeside Stadium in Albert Park.

Future World Tour events will visit other major cities in across the globe, according to Paul Morrison, co-founder and chairman of Apollo World Touring – one of the three companies bringing the concept to Australia, alongside promoter TEG Dainty and Will and Jada Pinkett-Smith’s Westbrook Inc.

“We are so proud and excited to be launching World Tour with Robbie Williams in Melbourne,” comments Morrison. “To do this alongside the 25th Formula 1 race to be held in Melbourne makes the occasion ever more special.

“World Tour will feed global audiences hungry for great content, bringing the best in entertainment to provide a unique platform which will celebrate the best that Melbourne and all future cities have to offer.”

According to the new brand’s website, future shows will take place in cities including Berlin, Milan, Montreal, Seoul, Taipei, Osaka and Miami.

“This is the start of an annual addition to the Formula 1 Rolex Australian Grand Prix weekend and we are excited to be bringing Robbie Williams to Melbourne with our partners Apollo World Touring and Australian Grand Prix Corporation for the 25th race,” says TEG Dainty CEO Paul Dainty.

“World Tour will feed global audiences hungry for great content”

Adds Craig Fletcher, GM for motorsports, entertainment and industry at the Australian Grand Prix Corporation: “The Australian Grand Prix Corporation is thrilled to partner with international powerhouse organisations Apollo World Touring, Westbrook Inc. and TEG Dainty to bring the global launch of World Tour to our wonderful city.

“The Formula 1 Rolex Australian Grand Prix 2020 is the ultimate fusion of the world’s best racing, food, glamour and music. This year will mark the 25th race held in Melbourne, which is the perfect occasion to host the inaugural World Tour and global superstar Robbie Williams.”

Williams’s most recent stadium tour, 2017–18’s Heavy Entertainment Show tour, saw him perform to more than 1.5 million people across the world, including at the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Moscow. According to Pollstar, it grossed US$62 million from 31 shows in 2017, ending the year as the 25th-highest grossing globally.

Organisers have also confirmed they will be supporting fundraising efforts towards bushfire relief, with more details announced soon. TEG Dainty and its sister company, TEG Live, have sold more than 70,000 tickets for their own Live Aid-style benefit, Fire Fight Australia, on 16 February.

Tickets for the Melbourne gig are on sale from 10am AEDT on Monday 20 January via TEG’s Ticketek site, with a range of tickets from general admission to the Residence – an exclusive area “offering the best access and unrivalled experiences in close proximity to the action on stage” – available.


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OVG launches International Venue Alliance

Oak View Group (OVG) today launched the International Venue Alliance, a network of independent entertainment and sports venues modelled on its US Arena and Stadium Alliance.

Its founding member is Silverstone Circuit, the ‘home of British motor racing’, including the Formula 1 (F1) and MotoGP grands prix, in Northamptonshire, UK. It joins the alliance after signing a deal that ensures the F1 British grand prix remains at the circuit until at least 2024.

Silverstone’s two-year agreement with OVG will draw on the latter’s live entertainment expertise to attract high-profile events, including concerts and festivals, to the circuit, as well as securing it an annual naming-rights partner.

OVG will also oversee corporate partnerships at prominent locations around the circuit, including the bridge connecting its hotel to the wing, its 4,000-capacity conference and exhibition space, the new luxury Residences at Silverstone and the soon-to-open Silverstone Experience Centre.

Oak View Group, a venue development, advisory and investment company co-founded by former AEG CEO Tim Leiweke and ex-Live Nation chairman Irving Azoff, launched its London-based overseas division, OVG International, at ILMC in March. The first OVG International project, Santa Giulia Arena in Milan, was announced in June as a joint venture with Live Nation. (Interestingly, Liberty Media, which owns a third of Live Nation, also owns Formula 1.)

Last month OVG also confirmed it is in discussions to build a new indoor arena in Manchester in northern England, in a challenge to SMG’s incumbent Manchester Arena.

“We’re looking forward to working alongside other like-minded venues as they join the International Venue Alliance”

Sam Piccione, president of OVG International, says: “We’re delighted to be in a position to help Silverstone deliver additional revenue as a founding member of Oak View Group’s International Venue Alliance.

“This iconic circuit has a rich motorsports history, and we’re looking forward to working with the Silverstone team to develop world-leading content, partnerships and experiences during this next exciting phase of their development.”

“With Silverstone’s extended five-year contract to host the British Grand Prix now in place, the opportunities for partnerships with British and global brands are limitless,” adds Nick Read, commercial director at Silverstone.

“We are excited to be working with Oak View Group’s world-class team to expand our partner portfolio and reach, and we’re looking forward to working alongside other like-minded venues as they join the OVG International Alliance.”

Piccione says he expects new members of the International Venue Alliance will be confirmed in the months ahead.

The alliance is modelled on OVG’s Arena and Stadium Alliance, an invitation-only partnership of 28 arenas in North America. Arena and Stadium Alliance members benefit from global sponsorship opportunities, additional events and content, and “efficiencies of scale that are otherwise only available to large groups”, according to OVG.


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Dutch F1 fans fill Ziggo Dome for Verstappen victory

More than 10,000 Dutch motorsports fans attended a live viewing of the Formula 1 Austrian grand prix at the Ziggo Dome in Amsterdam on Sunday 30 June.

After qualifying third, home hero Max Verstappen charged to victory, passing Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc late in the day to the delight of the crowd, who watched the race on a big screen at the arena for Ziggo Sports’ Ziggo F1 Live event.

“The audience in the Ziggo Dome reacted frantically: beer flew through the air and the cheering was deafening,” comments Mart Roumen of broadcaster Ziggo, who describes the event as an “experience […] that will never be forgotten.”

“Beer flew through the air and the cheering was deafening”

He adds that the Golden Earring song ‘Radar Love’, which was played after the race, “will continue to reverberate for a long time, until Max Verstappen’s next victory. Maybe we will organise [this event] again at the Ziggo Dome.”

See footage from Ziggo F1 Live, courtesy of AT5, in the video above (non-Nederlanders, make sure you auto-translate the subtitles).


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Liberty Media linked with investment in CAA

Liberty Media Corporation, a significant shareholder in Live Nation, is reportedly in talks to acquire a stake in Creative Artists Agency (CAA).

According to the Financial Times, any investment by Liberty – which owns more than a third of Live Nation Entertainment stocks, as well as a majority interest in satellite radio giant SiriusXM and recently acquired streaming company Pandora Media – in CAA would give the company “greater negotiating leverage for its other businesses, namely Formula One”, the motor racing championship it acquired in late 2016.

Liberty and CAA are already partners on Formula 1, with CAA Sports handling sponsorship sales for the sport since April 2017.

Liberty and CAA are already partners on Formula 1, with CAA Sports handling sponsorship for the sport

A spokesperson for TPG, the private-equity firm which owns the majority of CAA, tells the FT it receives regular approaches about its investments but that it was not in “active discussions” regarding CAA, one of the world’s leading booking agencies.

Other investors in CAA, whose music roster includes Muse, Kane West, Katy Perry, Queen and Adam Lambert, AC/DC, Eagles, Foo Fighters and Florence and the Machine, include China’s CMC Capital Partners and Singaporean sovereign-wealth fund Temasek.

Greg Maffei, Liberty Media’s CEO, is chairman of both Live Nation and SiriusXM, and there has long been speculation from Wall Street that Liberty’s goal is to create a vertically integrated music business encompassing radio, streaming, concerts and ticketing.

Both CAA and Liberty declined to comment.


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