After two years in New Orleans, Bayou Country Superfest is returning to LSU's Tiger Stadium in 2019, lured in part by local and state financial incentives estimated at close to $1 million.
The Memorial Day weekend festival will hold its 10th edition on May 25-26, 2019, organizers announced Thursday.
The Bayou Country Superfest is headed home to Baton Rouge next year.
Bayou Country Superfest, which has featured major country acts like George Strait, Taylor Swift, Kenny Chesney, the Zac Brown Band and Tim McGraw, held its first festival in 2010 at Tiger Stadium. But after the 2016 festival, LSU announced it would be making off-season renovations to the stadium, leading Bayou Country Superfest to move to New Orleans' Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
The lineup and ticket information will be released in early 2019. Bayou Country Superfest is produced by a subsidiary of Quint Davis' Festival Production, Inc.-New Orleans, along with AEG Presents and Messina Touring Group. Festival Productions and AEG also produce the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival.
After the festival moved to New Orleans, "there was an awful lot of conversation, a lot of questions from our industry partners: How can we get something like this back?" said Paul Arrigo, president of Visit Baton Rouge. "The restaurants, the hotels, everybody realized the significance of it."
Visit Baton Rouge is a sponsor for the 2019 festival along with the Louisiana Department of Culture, Recreation & Tourism; the City of Baton Rouge; and Bud Light.
The news that Bayou Country Superfest producers will be taking their Memorial Day weekend concert to New Orleans didn't shock officials in Bat…
Visit Baton Rouge is putting up $350,000 to support the event, Arrigo said. The Louisiana Office of Tourism is also contributing $350,000, said Julio Guichard, communications director for the Office of Lieutenant Governor. And according to Rachel Haney, communications officer for the Mayor-President, the city-parish is offering a sales tax rebate for ticket sales.
At the time Baton Rouge was trying to keep the event from moving from Tiger Stadium, authorities had estimated the value of the sales tax rebates at about $200,000.
The sponsorships are similar in structure to previous years the festival was held at Tiger Stadium — in its first year, the city-parish, state and Visit Baton Rouge each contributed $300,000. In 2011, Metro Council decided not to pay the city-parish's $300,000 portion and the local sales tax rebate was adopted in 2013 as a way to keep the festival in Baton Rouge.
"Previous events have brought visitors from throughout the world," Arrigo said. "But what is also happening is that the media exposure, the amount of advertising, the brand Baton Rouge will be pushed out throughout the promotion campaign of the event. Plus we're going to get what we assume will be a great deal of visitation."
Bayou Country Superfest had a real impact on hotel bookings and occupancy rates — made even more noticeable when the festival left Baton Rouge — during the normally slow Memorial Day weekend.
Before Bayou Country Superfest came along in 2010, Memorial Day weekend was a sleepy time for the Baton Rouge tourism industry. The country mu…
Ben Blackwell, president of the Baton Rouge Lodge Association, told The Advocate in 2017 that local hotels reported occupancy rates of between 95 and 100 percent for previous Bayou Country Superfests. The first year the festival wasn't in town: those rates had fallen to 30 to 40 percent full for the long weekend, similar to 2009 levels.
"It's slow," Blackwell said. "Baton Rouge is not a tourist-driven market unless there is a big event. Most people go away for Memorial Day weekend."
Around 85,000 people attended the first Bayou Country Superfest, which featured Taylor Swift performing her first-ever stadium headlining concert. Swift would again play Tiger Stadium in 2015 as part of her "1989" tour, although it was not officially billed as part of the Bayou Country Superfest.
Subsequent festivals featured George Strait, Jason Aldean, Reba McEntire, Miranda Lambert and Luke Bryan.
Following the 2016 festival, organizers were seeking a new, three-year contract to have the festival in Tiger Stadium, but LSU officials said the facility wouldn't be available in 2017 or 2018 due to renovations scheduled between football seasons.
Producer Quint Davis had hoped the 2017 Bayou Country Superfest’s forced move from Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome…
The festival had also become less profitable for LSU each year due to a decline in attendance, The Advocate reported in 2016. Beginning in 2014, LSU got a portion of the sales tax rebate on tickets, and received $610,465 in 2014, $385,379 the year after and only $153,960 in 2016.
The festival's first event in New Orleans in 2017 brought 60,000 people to the Superdome across two night. In 2018, Bayou Country Superfest scaled back to one night, and with a lineup that featured Chris Stapleton and Kacey Musgraves, sold all 53,000 available tickets.
"We're confident that it'll be a success event back in Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge," Arrigo said. "We're going to do what we can to make this a success that we hope it can be."