Virgin Mobile Fest Moving to Merriweather?

Last week, the Baltimore Sun reported that there would, in fact, be a VMoFest this year -- but that the big question was where, what with the owner of Pimlico Race Course currently in bankruptcy proceedings.

Well, it looks like promoter-producer Seth Hurwitz is thinking about bringing the festival closer to home after staging the first three versions of VFest at Pimlico. According to Baltimore Business Journal, Hurwitz and Co. are "in discussions" about moving the event to Merriweather Post Pavilion, which his company I.M.P. manages and operates. Howard County Executive Ken Ulman confirmed the discussions to the Biz Journal.

If such a move happens, it would dramatically alter the festival. For one thing, Merriweather has a traditional amphitheater set-up with a single main stage in front of thousands of fixed seats; even if a second stage were to be built for the festival, it would be nearly impossible to claim two main stages, as Hurwitz has done at Pimlico. In theory, it would also be more difficult for fans to wander from stage to stage, as there would be more to navigate than Pimlico's expansive infield -- from the rolling hills of Merriweather's concourse to the seats themselves.

Additionally, whereas Pimlico could accommodate up to 60,000 festivalgoers, Merriweather's capacity is under 20,000 -- though it's possible that the grounds outside of the venue's gates could be used for VFest, too. (Green Day in the Mall in Columbia parking lot, anyone?) A reduced capacity would mean fewer acts, for sure.

UPDATE: The Sun's Sam Sessa, who just posted on the potential Merriweather move, makes a very good point: "Merriweather holds close to 20,000 people. But in May 2006, when it hosted the HFStival, it added stages in Symphony Woods and a pavilion parking lot. That upped the capacity to 27,500, The Sun reported at the time. With this setup, Merriweather could potentially hold almost 60,000 in two days. That's not far off from the kind of numbers Virgin Fest has pulled in recent years. So it's certainly feasible."

By J. Freedom du Lac |  April 6, 2009; 11:18 AM ET Virgin Festival
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The side stage in 2006 was in a field that would be hard pressed to hold much more than 5000 people.

Posted by: Hemisphire | April 6, 2009 12:21 PM

I can't say I like the idea much. Merriweather is an incredible place, but not for a show like VFest. It's just too small, no matter what they do to expand it. There's no way to score a major headliner for a festival that small.

Posted by: EricS2 | April 6, 2009 12:43 PM

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