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"He had a business model that we thought was attractive," Brandmeyer says. "The model for a festival like this is already out there. Multi-day, multi-artist festivals are the way the music industry is headed. We're obviously taking a pretty huge risk, but our family has always been a group of risk takers. And I think, also, it seemed like an interesting way to spend the summer."
By last fall, Fritz and Brandmeyer had formed a partnership, Brandmeyer Fritz Festivals LLC (BFF), aimed at turning Fritz's vision into reality. (Brandmeyer Fritz Festivals is sometimes referred to by the organizers as "Big Freakin' Festival LLC" and "Best Friends Forever LLC.") They hired Hunt to handle day-to-day operations and booking, and began working with the Kansas Speedway, which is renting BFF the track for the weekend and has an equity stake in Kanrocksas' upside. "One of our biggest questions was how invested the Speedway would be in what we were trying to do," Brandmeyer says. "If they were only interested in a one-off thing, that wasn't very attractive to us. We want to do this multiple times. But they were great. They said, 'Let's make this the standard by which other racetracks do festivals.' And if we do a good job with it, there's 10 other tracks that are part of the International Speedway Corporation that might be interested in having us come out and do a fest at their track, too. It lent itself to more opportunities."
There are structural advantages to holding a music festival at the Kansas Speedway, as well. For one, the acres and acres of land surrounding the site allow for comfortable camping. (Camping comes free with the ticket, and each car is allotted a generous amount of space to set up tents, grills and such.) That an existing infrastructure is in place is especially promising (as opposed to most festivals, which set up on top of giant open fields). Rather than portable toilets, actual restrooms are on the premises: in the garages at the center of the track and in the concourses of the grandstands. And in addition to a great deal of green space, the infield area boasts access to running water, water misters, concessions and power outlets.
The size of the Speedway itself — it's remarkably huge, the size of the entire Truman Sports Complex — also allows for some special bells and whistles: a lit-up ferris wheel, food trucks, a giant water slide, art installations. In terms of amenities, at least, Kanrocksas is looking to be vastly superior to nearly every other music festival in the country.
But the lineup is why people buy tickets to a music festival, and whether the Kanrocksas lineup is worth its two-day $179 price tag has been the topic of much debate. By piggybacking off Lollapalooza routing schedules (the Chicago festival is taking place the same weekend), Hunt has been able to secure some huge names. And by adding the Critical Mass tent — a home for electronic acts at the fest, like Bassnectar and Sound Tribe Sector Nine — the organizers have been able to broaden the fest's appeal to a new niche.
Still, Kanrocksas is charging close to Lollapalooza prices and offering only about half the draw. Fair?
"Trust me, nobody involved with this thing is planning on running out and buying Bentleys when it's over," Fritz says. "But this is going to be bigger than an event. This is not a concert. It's a monstrous occasion, with all the ingredients of a full-blown happening." (Fritz says he's expecting 50,000 per day, with 10,000 coming in from out of town.)