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The annual music festival, launched in Del Mar in 2015, will move to Petco Park downtown next year. File photo
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KAABOO departure met with ‘neutral’ response by locals

DEL MAR — The KAABOO music festival is officially leaving Del Mar, prompting both sighs and shrugs from area residents.

“It was good while it lasted,” commented Solana Beach local John Boat, in a recent NextDoor feed.

The annual, three-day music festival has drawn thousands to the Del Mar Fairgrounds since it launched in 2015. It has been known to feature big-name headliners, this year putting on performances by Snoop Dogg, Mumford and Sons, and Kings of Leon, with comedy acts such as Bob Saget and Tig Notaro.

On Sept. 15, the final day of its most recent (and apparently last) festival in Del Mar, KAABOO announced a multi-year agreement with the San Diego Padres to host its festival at Petco Park starting in September of 2020.

Jason Felts, managing partner of KAABOO, said in a press release that the new location in downtown San Diego would allow both fans and artists “the opportunity to enjoy everything that the vibrant metro area has to offer.”

The announcement was twofold, with Felt dropping news just days later that his company, Virgin Fest, had acquired the music festival. Felt was formerly involved with KAABOO as a partner and chief brand officer.

The 22nd District Agricultural Association, which runs the state-owned fairgrounds, could not be reached for comment.

According to a staff report on the event from 2018, the event brought in over $700,000 in net revenue to the 22nd DAA in 2017 alone.

An economic impact report from 2017 revealed that the event brought $15 million to Del Mar and Solana Beach in 2017, with a $37.5 million impact on the county at large.

Because the festival draws 55% of its attendees from out of town, the report assessed that the event likely yielded about 13,000 night stays to local hotels.

However, council members in the neighboring cities believe KAABOO’s departure will have a relatively minimal impact.

Solana Beach City Councilwoman Jewel Edson said the event yielded a minor bump in sales tax and transient occupancy tax, but “wasn’t very significant for our city.”

“I think people who went to KAABOO every year will miss it, but I think they can get on the Coaster and go right down to it,” she said. “(the ballpark) is probably a better venue for KAABOO.”

The festival has been known to prompt traffic and noise complaints from nearby residents, with the music sometimes being heard from miles away. Locals have often taken to NextDoor, the social media site, to protest the noise. So, it’s no surprise they had no shortage of comments when it came to the event’s looming departure.

Many have left comments calling the news “very sad” or “a bummer,” with others simply commenting “good riddance.”

Edson said that the neighboring community was impacted “quite a bit,” when the festival had its drop-off area at the Solana Gate several years back, located on Via de la Valle. The festival’s organizers have since worked with the city to pay for a sheriff’s presence to block access to the nearby Solana Circle for parking and through traffic, and clear up trash after the event.

They also hosted a community meeting this year and staffed a community hotline to help with noise complaints.

“I think they did their best with what they were dealing with … the Del Mar Fairgrounds is not set up to be a concert venue,” she said.

Del Mar Councilman Dwight Worden said he was surprised by the move, but thinks the departure will be “kind of neutral to Del Mar.”

“They were managing their traffic and parking and noise impacts pretty well,” he said. “It’s not like some big horrible thing that’s going to stop.”

Worden said some local restaurants and hotels might miss KAABOO, but he thinks the 22nd DAA will take a harder hit from the departure, financially.

“I’m concerned the things they could pursue instead might be more impactful to Del Mar,” he said.

KAABOO San Diego will take place on Sept. 18 to Sept. 20, 2020.