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Rock in Rio USA music festival to debut on the Strip in May 2015

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A rendering of the planned “City of Rock,” site for Rock in Rio USA, coming to the Las Vegas Strip May 2015.

With the successes of festivals like Electric Daisy Carnival and Life Is Beautiful, it was only a matter of time before Las Vegas launched an effort to bring a mammoth, multi-stage music event to the Strip. Come May 2015, that becomes a reality with Rock in Rio USA.

Rock in Rio—which became the world’s largest music festival during its 1985 debut in Rio de Janiero, and has also staged versions in Lisbon, Portugal and Madrid, Spain—is partnering with MGM Resorts and Cirque du Soleil to create a stateside edition here in Las Vegas. It will take place over two consecutive two-day weekends—to be determined at a future date—at the multi-stage “City of Rock,” capable of holding 80,000 people and to be built on a 33-acre plot of land on the southwest corner of Las Vegas Boulevard and Sahara Avenue, just north of MGM-owned Circus Circus.

“Las Vegas is a proper destination and the world capital of entertainment,” Luis Justo, CEO of Rock in Rio, tells the Weekly. “The biggest music festival in the world needed to come here.”

No details about the performer slate—the announcements of which likely beginning to roll out within a few months, per the traditionally platformed release of information of its predecessors, says Justo—but previous editions have featured Bruce Springsteen, Metallica, Shakira, David Guetta and Coldplay. Next month, The Rolling Stones, Arcade Fire, Lorde and Justin Timberlake are a few of the acts playing Rock in Rio Lisbon.

Tickets will go on sale in January, but would-be attendees can “reserve” them here for a limited time at no charge.

The “City of Rock”—to be built by Yucaipa Companies, headed by businessman Ron Burkle—will be a “fully immersive entertainment experience” that will become a permanent concert venue. Its themed streets will represent Rio, the United Kingdom and America—each to have their own stage with various acts (along with shops and cuisine) indicative of their representative country. The USA stage will specifically feature some acts associated with Las Vegas, and while none have been revealed, they may range from well-known native bands (ie Imagine Dragons, The Killers) to our clubs’ resident DJs (such as Tiësto and Calvin Harris).

Elsewhere in the City of Rock, a large main stage will feature pop and rock headliners; an electronic music stage will feature DJs, some of whom will be able to play in the middle of the crowd; and an “alternative” stage for more independent music acts.

There will also be street dancers and amusement rides that aren’t inside the nearby Adventuredome, such as a 400-foot zipline that will have riders coasting over the main-stage crowd, as it does at the Rio edition.

The three entertainment partners will work with the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, along with Clark County with regard to traffic navigation, Metro presence and other infrastructure needs for an event this large and central in the city. Parking will largely be divided up among the various MGM properties, with shuttle service playing a large part of getting attendees to and from the festival.

Other partners include iHeartRadio—whose September festival is hosted by MGM—and NCM Network, both of whom will help release more details over the next year.

Though Rock in Rio, MGM and Cirque have decided to make the initial announcement this week, an international campaign begins in earnest in September, with a massive event—including a well-known festival performer to be determined—closing down Times Square in New York City.

The 2011 and 2013 editions have brought a total $1 billion into Rio de Janiero, and given the hundreds of millions generated by EDC, which is staged out in North Las Vegas, Rock in Rio ought to be a huge boon to the city. “The event will serve as a major tourism driver for Las Vegas, expected to draw well over 300,000 people to our city over the four days of the concert,” says Bill Hornbuckle, MGM Resorts president, adding that he expects 95 percent of MGM’s rooms to be sold for the festival alone.

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