Rock in Rio USA organizers offer festival site peek, highlight concert-going luxuries

Rock in Rio USA organizers say their Las Vegas music festival set for May 8-9 and May 15-16 will come with premium experiences unseen at other festivals, along with some Sin-City-style indulgences.

Officials from MGM Resorts and Brazil-based Rock in Rio offered a sneak peek Wednesday of the 37-acre site on the Las Vegas Strip, including VIP cabanas flanking the main stage and a balcony with club-like bottle service available for a price.

Rock in Rio CEO Luis Justo seemed particularly pleased with the festival's opulent restroom offerings including full plumbing and, in some cases, television screens broadcasting the performances.

"There will be no problem with lines," he said, noting the 500 available restroom stalls.

Officials said $75 million has been spent to ready the empty Las Vegas Strip lot into a festival site complete with underground utilities.

When MGM Resorts along with financial partners Cirque du Soleil and Ron Burkle's Yucaipa Cos. began contemplating building a more permanent outdoor entertainment space a couple years ago, "it had to be of this scale. It had to be of this quality," said Scott Voeller, MGM Resorts senior vice president of partnership and event marketing.

"So often, people think of festivals being in big, dusty lots in the middle of nowhere," Voeller said. Rock in Rio USA promises no mud, no dirt. Instead, fields of fake turf, a few trees and asphalt paths crisscross the acreage, leading people from the facades of three international street scenes with different music and performers to two main stages. There's also an electronic dance area and a large two-level VIP tent expected to feature hanging chandeliers and palm trees along with all-inclusive food and drinks.

Dotting the landscape will be a zip line sending riders over the heads of concert-goers gathered at the main stage and a 332-foot-tall Ferris wheel that's a couple hundred feet shorter than the world's tallest observation wheel a little ways down the Strip.

Unlike the big, dusty festivals in the middle of nowhere such as the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival east of Palm Springs, California, that sell out in minutes, Rock in Rio has sold a reported 56,000 weekend passes even though there's room for some 85,000 people a day.

"We never anticipated we would hit full capacity in its first year," Voeller said, adding that Vegas tends to be a last-minute market and more tickets are expected to be sold.

He noted that Coachella and others are wildly successful, but only after years of building awareness and experience.

Rock in Rio USA has committed to return to the site in 2017 and 2019.

General admission two-day tickets cost $298 and single-day VIP passes cost $498.