2016 Bayou Country Superfest attendance drops for second year, organizers say _lowres

Advocate staff photo by PATRICK DENNIS --Fans rest on barricades before Dierks Bentley performed during the Bayou Country Superfest Sunday at LSU's Tiger Stadium.

Bayou Country Superfest, the country music festival that has rocked Tiger Stadium for the past six years, is scrambling to find a new home after LSU announced it's unable to provide the stadium as a venue for at least the next two years. 

LSU made the abrupt announcement earlier this month in a news release citing renovations to the stadium as the reason for being unable to host the concert that city-officials were hoping would become an annual tradition for Baton Rouge in the way Jazz Fest and Voodoo Fest are for New Orleans. 

LSU's Deputy Director of Athletics Eddie Nunez spoke highly of the concert and its impact on Baton Rouge and LSU. The weekend festival was born at Tiger Stadium in 2010. But because of sharp declines in attendance, the concert became less and less profitable for the school every year, according to data provided by LSU.

In 2013, the concert promoter was granted a sales tax rebate on tickets. LSU also got a cut of that rebate beginning in 2014, according to the latest contract.

In 2014, LSU received $610,465 for its share of the ticket rebates. That dropped to $385,379 the next year, and this past year, LSU received $153,960, a drop of about 75 percent in three years.

The concert promoter Quint Davis has been guarded about concert attendance for years, but he said last year the event sold about 125,000 tickets, including tickets for a Taylor Swift concert, which was separately organized.

LSU gets $100,000 for the rental of Tiger Stadium and a cut of concessions and parking for the event. Superfest promoters also cover LSU's costs up to $800,000 to assist in putting the show on. 

But Nunez said LSU's costs have exceeded $800,000 every year. He said the school typically spends at least another $100,000 beyond what is reimbursed in their contract.

While Superfest promoters are responsible for setting up the staging area for the artists, LSU is responsible for setting up security, event management, parking and clean up after the event. 

LSU also has to replace the field every year, which costs about $120,000. The cost is covered by Superfest's reimbursement but it's laborious work. 

"The floor they put down for the concert, it literally burns the field it's so hot," Nunez said. He added it's preferable not to have to annually replace the field because "it's better for most fields to have roots get in the ground and get a little stronger."

But despite the shrinking profit margin, LSU officials say the only reason they're cutting ties for the next two years with the concert is because of the necessary renovations. 

"There really isn't any other hidden agenda," Nunez said. "It's just hard to do construction projects, for us we're confined from the end of football season to the beginning of the next one."

He said though the concert is only one weekend, the set up and clean up for the concert take the stadium off line for two-and-a-half weeks.  

It's unclear now where the concert will end up. City officials are mulling other options while the concert is being recruited to go to Ascension Parish. 

And Nunez said LSU's future with Superfest after the renovations are finished is still unclear. 

"We want to sit down with them and others," he said. "This concert was planned two years prior to the first time it arrived in Tiger Stadium so it's going to take time. We're going to have to start that dialogue again and we look forward to the opportunity." 

Follow Rebekah Allen on Twitter, @rebekahallen.