Friday, June 8, 2012 | 2 a.m.
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The name Electric Daisy Carnival has a benign ring to it, like a cross between a geeky tech convention and a flower show.
But the three-night music-dance festival that will reverberate this weekend at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway is one of the biggest DJ-driven music events of its kind in North America — and it could generate upward of $136 million for the Clark County economy.
This year’s EDC is expected to attract 115,000 partying souls each night — about 345,000 in total, which is roughly equal to the population of St. Louis, Mo.
The EDC’s producer, Insomiac Events, has set up seven production stages at the speedway for performances by about 100 DJs and about 500 theatrical acts.
The A-list of DJs includes David Guetta, Tiësto, Moby and Kaskade, top European names like Armin van Buuren and Avicii, and Las Vegas regulars such as Calvin Harris and Erick Morillo. The Blue Man Group is one of the more well-known production acts.
Festival hours will run from 7 p.m. to 5:30 a.m., when the speedway will be filled with throbbing beats of electronica, state-of-the-art lighting and large-scale art installations. Carnival rides will be set up on the 1,000-acre complex, and circus performers, such as fire twirlers, jugglers and stilt walkers, will roam the grounds.
The 16-year-old EDC, based in Los Angeles, is being held for the second time in Las Vegas after drawing some 200,000 revelers a year ago.
On Thursday, Erika Raney, director of communications for Insomniac Events, gave a tour to media at the speedway, which she called "a small city." And she's not far off.
To prepare for the more than 100,000 revelers each day, the organizers transformed the speedway grounds into a self-sufficient venue with resources that include an on-site hospital and cooling lounges.
Four indoor, air-conditioned “cooling zones” will provide a respite from the heat. But with dehydration and other ailments and injuries inevitable, about 20 nurses and doctors and 64 EMTs will be on-site to provide medical attention free of charge, Raney said.
Such medical and safety precautions are of particular importance to organizers considering the festival’s troubled past. Last year’s Electric Daisy Carnival was moved to Las Vegas from Dallas following the death of an underage fan and the hospitalization of at least two dozen others. Nearly identical circumstances befell the 2010 festival in Los Angeles, prompting its move to Dallas.
The festival is sold out, but if you’ve got money to burn, there are still spots available in the main stage VIP area on Friday and Sunday — for a cool $3,000 per table. The plush velvet décor of the VIP section, curated by the Cosmopolitan’s Marquee nightclub, will be complemented by a garden and koi ponds.
The main stage continues to hold the title of the largest temporary stage in North America, and organizers are expanding the fan area this year by 30 percent to accommodate up to 55,000 people. The main stage will also feature enhanced light displays synced to the music.
Changes this year include the addition of a seventh Q-dance stage, and organizers drew on fan feedback for other adjustments:
• The modest Discovery stage has been transformed from a casual lounge to a stage booked with emerging talent selected by fans via social media campaigns.
• Much of the dirt and gravel under the festival's carnival rides and interactive art installations has been paved over to minimize dust.
• Water stations have been repositioned to minimize crowding as attendees navigate between stations.
“Our focus was on how to make the fan experience better, safer and more accommodating,” Raney said. “We want to give back to this community as much as they put in.”
The return to the community is more than just the enjoyment and experience of the performances.
An economic impact study done for Insomniac by Beacon Economics estimated last year’s EDC pumped more that $136 million into the Clark County economy.
Beacon said local attendees were responsible for about $5 million of the economic impact, with nonlocals bringing in $109 million and Insomniac about $23 million.
Beacon estimated last year’s attendees spent about $19.5 million for hotel rooms, $16.8 million for food, $10.5 million for transportation, $9.3 million for entertainment, $7.8 million for gaming and $7.2 million on retail purchases. The study also found last year’s festival generated about $8.9 million in tax revenue.
But when you get that many people together, there are safety concerns.
Metro Police, which made about 61 arrests at last year’s event, plans to have about 500 officers at the festival over the weekend, mostly to deal with crowd control, traffic and any illicit drug use.
"We’re just basically there to keep the peace,” Marcus Martin, a Metro public information officer, said Thursday. “When you move that many people in and out, it’s like at the races or any other large event, traffic control is essential.”
Police said they would take a zero-tolerance stance toward illegal drug use. Last year, police arrested 26 people on drug-related charges.
In terms of the weather, festivalgoers will see clear skies but will find some warm temperatures and gusty winds Friday and Saturday nights.
For Friday, the National Weather Service is predicting an afternoon high at the speedway of about 100 degrees, with the temperature dropping to about 76 overnight. The winds will be from the southeast at about 20 mph and gusting as high as 32 mph, forecasters said.
Saturday's high will reach about 97 degrees, but temperatures will drop off overnight to a low of about 71 dgreees, with winds gusting close to 30 mph. Sunday's high will reach 92 degrees, with temperatures cooling to a low of about 69 degrees by early Monday morning.
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