A group of leading local tech investors, music industry veterans, and cultural partners looking to add some major musical muscle to San Antonio’s calendar of events will stage a large-scale, two-day music festival in March, two months before the city begins its Tricentennial celebrations.
The inaugural Botánica Music and Arts Festival will take place March 3-4 in the parking lot of Six Flags Fiesta Texas at La Cantera. Acts such as Major Lazer, Logic, Deftones, Alessia Cara, and more than 40 others will perform in a city that has had its eyes on becoming a music festival destination for years.
“I know firsthand … that our city is in a tough battle for young talent,” local real estate developer and philanthropist Graham Weston, one of two major investors in the Botánica group, stated in a Wednesday news release. Weston and others hope to attract young entrepreneurs and tech workers to San Antonio with more robust musical offerings. “Young people often decide where to locate based on lifestyle choices, and shared music experiences can be a big part of that.“
The live events company financed by Weston, a co-founder of Rackspace, Geekdom, and funder of the 80/20 Foundation; Lew Moorman, Scaleworks general partner and former Rackspace president; and others who were not named, will own and produce the festival that will take place during San Antonio’s Tricentennial year.
The management and production team is composed of music industry professionals who gained their experience with organizations such as Live Nation, Circuit of the Americas, and Universal Music Group, according to a news release. Their résumés boast involvement in major music festivals such as SXSW in Austin, Voodoo Music + Arts Experience in New Orleans, and Electric Daisy Carnival in Las Vegas.
“A music fest is not a silver bullet,” Tech Bloc CEO and Botánica group co-founder David Heard told the Rivard Report. “But if you look at our neighbor 70 miles up the road, they have four or five major music festivals … so we know that this part of the country can support that. It’s time for San Antonio to have its own [festival].”
San Antonio has several music, film, and art fests, including the popular Maverick and Mala Luna music festivals, but it does not host any that realistically compare to those in Austin or other large cities. The Maverick festival is now in its fifth year, and Mala Luna in its second.
Botánica’s schedule promises a mix of local, regional, and national acts in pop, hip-hop, rock, and electronic dance music (EDM). In addition to multiple stages, the festival will feature an array of local vendors offering food, drink, art, and activities that embody the spirit and culture of San Antonio.
More lead and supporting musical acts will be announced in November. The local talent on the festival’s current slate is Carlton Zeus, a Texas hip-hop artist who was born in Madrid and raised in Brownsville.
“This festival was inspired by the tremendous growth, energy, and creative shift happening” in San Antonio, Heard said. “We feel like the time is now and that San Antonio is ready.”
Following the example of successful festivals such as Austin City Limits (ACL) Music Festival, which drew around 450,000 concertgoers and had a reported $277 million economic impact on Austin in 2016, Botánica’s wants to enhance the local economy by keeping concert production spending and revenues in San Antonio. The Botánica team’s first-year, local economic impact goal is $15-20 million, with the hopes of growing that number in the years to come.
“A better San Antonio will attract and retain better talent, and big music events are a factor in that,” Heard said.
Two-day general admission tickets will cost between $119 for Tier 1, $139 for Tier 2, and $159 for Tier 3. Each tier is limited to a certain number of tickets and will be sold on a first come, first served basis.
ACL tickets for the first three-day weekend, Oct. 13-15, are $225. Friday and Saturday passes for the second weekend combined are $200.
“It was really important to the owners that this festival is financially approachable,” Heard said. “We wanted to make it easy for people to get there.”
Two-day VIP tickets for Botánica range from $399-$499 and include free on-site parking, VIP entrance, access to a viewing deck and other areas, premium food and beverages, charging stations, locker service, and more. VIP access is limited and also will be sold on a first come, first served basis.
A limited number of student and military discounted pre-sale tickets will go on sale on Thursday, Sept. 28, at 10 a.m. General admission and VIP tickets will go on sale Friday, Sept. 29, at 10 a.m.
In terms of location, Heard said organizers searched for a venue that “works scale-wise, is accessible, and safe,” and found just that at La Cantera.
“It makes sense, because it’s right across the street from UTSA” and its 31,000 students, Heard said. “For a festival like this, you need a large bit of acreage that’s flat, cleared, and has infrastructure support.”
The venue is 60 acres total, Heard said, and the event will only take up about 20 acres. “That means we still have two-thirds of the space for parking. We can park about 4,000 cars there.”
Organizers aimed for “lower cost, less hassle, less headaches, and a major music festival in our own backyard,” he added. “In years going forward, perhaps the festival could move around the city, but we think this location is great to launch.”
San Antonio will celebrate its 300th birthday with events throughout 2018. The Tricentennial Commission and City staff had planned on funding a major music festival, but it didn’t have the money – $1.2 million – to follow through with that goal. Instead, it will be adding and promoting festivals and concerts organized by other entities on its official calendar.
Although the official deadline for “partner” organizations wanting to be listed on the official website has passed, Tricentennial officials have said that they would make exceptions for major events planned in 2018 that should be included – Botánica being one such potential candidate.
Heard did not say whether the new music festival would become a part of the official Tricentennial calendar.
“Our hope is to build a landmark music event for, by, and of the people of San Antonio and South Texas,” Heard said. “The bottom line is that this is a chance to celebrate our city, our people, and our culture through great music.”
Iris Dimmick contributed to this report.