Concert moves from Placer to Sacramento after Roseville legal threat

Published: Thursday, Aug. 1, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 1B
Last Modified: Thursday, Aug. 1, 2013 - 6:37 am

A major country music concert sponsored by a Sacramento radio station has been moved from Placer County to Sacramento in the face of legal action by the city of Roseville.

The city, citing concerns about traffic, safety and trash disposal, was seeking an injunction that could have stopped the show.

Headlined by Darius Rucker, the Country in the Park event was expected to draw 13,000 people and was set for Aug. 17 at the Placer County Fairgrounds. Rather than attend a court hearing over the injunction request set for today, event sponsor KNCI New Country (105.1 FM) moved the event to Cal Expo.

"It was not a lawsuit filed to stop the event, but to ensure adequate planning," said Megan MacPherson, a spokeswoman for the city. "The facility isn't set up to handle this level of traffic."

The city filed a 25-page complaint July 19 in Placer Superior Court. If the injunction had been granted, it would have effectively blocked the event unless the organizers agreed to the city's conditions.

While the Placer fairgrounds are county land, the surrounding neighborhoods and streets are within the city of Roseville. The city and the county have long been at odds over noise from the fairgrounds' racetrack. The city has sought to have the fair moved elsewhere.

"It's very detrimental to our fair," Placer County Fair and Event Center CEO John Javidan said of the dust-up. The lost event cost the fair $22,000 and could hurt its ability to secure future shows, he said.

City officials say the fair should have come to them as soon as planning began. MacPherson said the city didn't find out about the event until June 13, when a salesperson approached the city about sponsoring the event. Javidan said City Manager Ray Kerridge had been informally told earlier.

"We don't have a normal procedure for telling the city of Roseville what events we're having, nor are we required to," Javidan said.

MacPherson said the city didn't have its first meeting with organizers until July 1 – the day tickets went on sale. She said officials hadn't ruled out allowing the event to go forward, if their conditions were met. Limiting ticket sales was one of the options the city was considering.

Radio station officials issued a statement saying that they moved the event to Cal Expo to avoid a fight with Roseville, but didn't respond to detailed questions.

The Placer County fairgrounds have one entrance, off Washington Boulevard. The facility typically accommodates 2,500 to 5,000 guests for events and has room for between 2,900 and 3,600 cars.

Javidan said he came away from a July 17 meeting with the city and area safety agencies with the feeling the city's concerns were being met. He said surface streets could absorb the additional parking needs.

But MacPherson said the city was looking for a more detailed plan to lessen the impact to the neighborhood.

"The fairground is located entirely within the boundaries of the city of Roseville, and in close proximity to residential neighborhoods that will be adversely affected by the traffic, lack of parking, noise and litter that will result from Country in the Park," according to the city's filing for the injunction.

MacPherson said city officials were prepared to call a special City Council meeting to approve street closures but sought the injunction as a big stick to ensure compliance.

"We were very clear about our concerns," she said.

Javidan, who also handles the city's Tuesday street parties downtown, said the city should have trusted him to solve the city's concerns. In the end, it's not just the fair but area merchants who lose out, he said.

"They must have good reasons to make this decision, but it's really too bad we could not have found a way to keep the event local," said Scott Alvord, a downtown Roseville business owner.

Solo artist Rucker first gained fame as the front man for rock group Hootie & the Blowfish. The local concert also will feature Craig Morgan, Craig Campbell and Jon Pardi.

Call The Bee's Ed Fletcher, (916) 321-1269. Follow him on Twitter @newsfletch.

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