Free concert expected to draw 5,000 to 7,000 to Vail |

Free concert expected to draw 5,000 to 7,000 to Vail

On Saturday, April 15, 123Go! Project will headline the Spring Back to Vail free concert at Ford Park. The 123GO! Project is composed of bassist Stefan Lessard from Dave Matthews Band, guitarist Mike McCready from Pearl Jam, vocalist Bret Scallions from Fuel and drummer Kenneth Schalk. The four-piece plays a set list of classic rock and punk covers from the 1970s and ’80s, including hits by The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and the Sex Pistols. The venue will open at 5:30 p.m., with music starting at 6 p.m. A limited number of Private Reserve passes are available for $150 and include access to preferred viewing of the stage with outdoor heaters and complimentary food and alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages.
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Free express buses have been set up to take you right to Ford Park from the Vail and Lionshead Parking structures. The town is insisting all dropoffs occur at those structures, rather than Ford Park itself.

“We’re asking people not to drive personal vehicles to the venue with the expectation to drop off, because there really isn’t a safe place to do it,” said Craig Bettis with the Vail Police Department. “The express buses will be running the entire time, back and forth, and are dedicated use just for concert goers.”

VAIL — The town is expecting up to 7,000 people at the free Spring Back to Vail concert tonight and the Ford Park venue is back in action.

Craig Bettis with the Vail Police Department says the show this evening — headlined by the 123GO! Project with opening act Magic! will be a perfect test event for the Ford Park stage, as the major alternative — Solaris in Vail Village — can begin to present problems at 5,000 to 6,000 people.

Revisiting Ford Park

“That’s the designated mark where we start seeing what we would consider to be some safety concerns,” Bettis said.

“It will be a great test for us to see if Ford Park is something we want to visit again in the future for events as we reach that number of above about 6,000 expected occupancy.”Craig BettisPolice officer, Vail Police Department

As that happens to be around the same number expected tonight, it was a good opportunity to use Ford Park again, as the venue hasn’t hosted a big concert since seeing a major remodel two summers ago, Bettis said.

“It will be a great test for us to see if Ford Park is something we want to visit again in the future for events as we reach that number of above about 6,000 expected occupancy,” Bettis said.

Based on past events at Ford Park prior to the remodel, Bettis said the venue can be managed with fewer staff members.

“We can pretty much cut our staff number in half, due to the fact that we only have one entrance,” Bettis said.

Add that to the fact that the venue is now “rear-loaded,” and things become much easier from a crowd control standpoint.

“Any venue you attend as an event, the goal for any promoter or venue is to load the event from the back,” Bettis said. “And that’s for the obvious reason of being able to control the amount of people that come in, know whether it’s exceeded or not and have and idea of how it fills.”


Vail special events coordinator Ernest Saeger was at the Ford Park venue on Friday and said it looked beautiful with the stage now facing west. Before the remodel, the stage faced east.

“I just kept finding myself looking up at the Gore Range today, because it sits directly behind the concert stage,” Saeger said on Friday. “The venue has a larger concert feel.”

The Ford Park venue will also offer concessions on site, something Saeger says will improve the concert experience.

Into The Village

“There will be more room to get around the venue and to go buy a drink or some food if they like,” Saeger said.

After the concert, the crowds are expected to spill into Vail Village. Bettis is curious to see how that plays out.

“The fact that crowds can just turn around and walk out, rather than having to walk around the stage, we expect will make for an easier, wider, exit,” Bettis said. “I believe this year we’ll be able to keep people flowing onto the path and off the Frontage Road.”

Vail Village bar and restaurant owner Simone Larese said weekends such as Spring Back to Vail, where crowds spill from a concert into the village, have been immensely helpful to her business.

“When I was just starting a few years ago, part of my decision to add a bar to the restaurant and keep late hours was I knew the town of Vail and Vail Resorts invested in events like Spring Back to Vail to activate the town at night,” she said of her business, the Blu Cow Cafe. “The free concert scene has been a big benefit to my business and has helped during these first few years when getting off the ground can be difficult.”

Chris Romer, of the Vail Valley Partnership, said having a concert in town adds value to a guest’s experience, even if that guest does not attend the concert.

“Seeing a concert underway nearby gives guests a shot of energy that says ‘this is a happening place,’” Romer said. “They might think ‘I’m glad I’m here because this is the place to be,’ so that energy and that vitality and that ambiance, even if it’s not the reason they come, having it here certainly helps from a guest satisfaction standpoint.”

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