Hotel bookings signal record-setting Superfest

Baton Rouge hotel vacancies are rapidly disappearing for the weekend of May 23-25, with tourism officials and event planners hoping for record-setting attendance and economic impact numbers for Bayou Country Superfest.

“We anticipate the numbers to be record-breaking,” said Paul Arrigo, president and chief executive officer of Visit Baton Rouge. “We certainly hope that would be the case because of the third day they added. They also have an excellent lineup, and that should help, too.”

Festival Productions Inc.-New Orleans produces both the Superfest in Baton Rouge and the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival annually.

Quint Davis, FPI-NO’s chief executive officer, would not predict dollar amounts for ticket sales or the festival’s economic impact on the Baton Rouge area this year. Davis added, however, that the impact will be much more noticeable than the $35 million estimated for the inaugural event in 2010.

“This extra night, Friday (May 23), is going to be the biggest night in the history of the festival,” Davis said. “We’re selling out in the upper decks of Tiger Stadium. It will be the biggest show in the history of the festival.”

Information released by FPI-NO identifies the record Superfest attendance for the former two-day event as the 85,000 counted in 2010.

“We know as a certainty that this one (Superfest) is going to blow all the others away,” Davis said. “The reason this festival is such a success is because the music audience is so good here. The word has gone out through the music industry — ‘Man, that place, Baton Rouge, really rocks.’”

FPI-NO’s website noted Friday that two-day Superfest ticket packages “are no longer available,” but tickets for individual days are.

This year, the Friday lineup includes the nation’s record holder for No. 1 hits of any genre, George Strait, who has posted 60 bestsellers in his long career.

Already, promoters are selling tickets, and blocks of hotel rooms are reserved far in advance of the weekend Superfest that leads to Memorial Day.

At least 19 Baton Rouge hotels are sold out, Friday through Sunday, according to event website bayoucountrysuperfest.com/stay.

Five other hotels reported vacancies only for Sunday. One reported vacancies only for Friday. Another reported having only double rooms available.

Davis said room rental numbers and sellouts are not the only gauge for figuring the economic impact of any event.

In 2010, Davis noted, many Baton Rouge rooms rented for rates ranging from $59 to $79 per night. He said some of those rooms now carry rates that range from $129 to more than $200.

The Renaissance Baton Rouge, for example, is one of the hotels on the website sold out this year, Friday through Sunday.

Also booked solid are special travel packages that began at $939 for a two-night stay in a Renaissance room for two, sideline seats for two event days, two event T-shirts and shuttle service between the hotel and stadium.

The high end was $2,429 for three nights for two at the Renaissance; tickets for seats in front of the stage Friday; tickets for stage-front standing-room only on Saturday and Sunday; two T-shirts, and the shuttle service.

For those who enjoy navigating crowded streets in giant motorized equipment, RV owners can purchase parking space at LSU’s Touchdown Village at prices ranging from $350 to $550 per weekend pass.

FPI-NO also produces and directs the seven-day, two-weekend New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival that drew 425,000 in attendance last year. The group states on its website, “The annual economic impact of Jazzfest is approximately $300 million to the city of New Orleans.”

In Baton Rouge last year, attendance was reported to be 70,000 for what was then a two-day event.

This year, Friday night alone — featuring Strait, Reba McIntire and Chris Young for the opening — could boost Superfest past that mark, considering Davis’ experience and enthusiasm, as well as those early hotel sellouts.

Saturday’s lineup includes Luke Bryan, Florida Georgia Line, Lee Brice, Easton Corbin and vocal group Gloriana.

Sunday features Jason Aldean, Eric Church, Big & Rich, Joe Nichols and 22-year-old Breaux Bridge native Hunter Hayes.