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University prepares for Rolling Stones

You Can't Always Get What You Want?Try telling the University students who staked out the Scott Stadium ticket office shortly after the crack of dawn on the morning of May 20th in order to nab tickets to the fall Rolling Stones Concert at the University venue.

"It's exciting because it's something different," said Lori Rubin, a third-year College Student who waited in the line outside Scott Stadium for student tickets. "Charlottesville doesn't get many huge concerts coming to town. It's not something we get very often."

Rubin said that University students wrapped themselves around the stadium in line in order to take advantage of the reduced ticket price, $65, and to insure a spot in student seating. Student seating was sold in clusters within Scott Stadium.

The Stones announced their 2005-2006 tour on May 10, and will roll through Charlottesville on Oct. 6 to play at the University's Scott Stadium.As of July, the tour's promoter announced that over 50,000 tickets had been sold and that the Charlottesville show was near sold-out.

Ticket sales were open to students at a discounted price a day before they went on sale to the general public but students were required to come in person to the Scott Stadium ticket office in order to make their purchase.

The October concert is the result of a newly established contract between the University and Stadium Management Corp, SMG, a company charged with managing the new John Paul Jones Arena.

According to Larry Wilson, general manager of John Paul Jones Arena for SMG, the management company agreed to look for opportunities to bring events and performances to the University beyond the John Paul Jones Arena when possible.

"This is the first event that we brought as a part of that partnership," Wilson said. "It doesn't get much bigger than the Rolling Stones."

According to Wilson, the Stones tour began considering Charlottesville as a tour stop in February and is one of the smallest markets on the Stone's tour this year.

"It's not every day that the Rolling Stones play in the market the size of Charlottesville," he said.

Scott Stadium holds 61,000 people and many are anticipating that the band and venue are likely to draw a large student and local crowd as well as visitors from around the region.

The October event is being compared to the last high profile performance in Scott Stadium, the Dave Matthews Band concert held there in April 2001.However, some anticipate the Stones concert may draw an even bigger crowd than Charlottesville's own Dave Matthews.

"The Dave Matthews Band concert was skewed locally because Dave Matthews is local," said Larry Banner, vice president of the Charlottesville Regional Chamber of Commerce."The Rolling Stones are going to bring a lot of local traffic, but 61,000 people are not coming from Charlottesville and Albemarle County.They are going to be coming from as far away as places like D.C. and Richmond."

According to Wilson, there is no way of anticipating exactly how many out-of-towners will make their way to Charlottesville for the Stones concert, but that after ticket sales have closed, Ticketmaster will run a report in order to identify the zip codes of ticket purchasers.

However, Wilson said that he had received calls from people all over Virginia and surrounding states interested in the concert.

The influx of visitors is likely to fill local accommodations to their capacity.

"It is pretty general that when the University packs the stadium for football games, hotels in our area and beyond book up, all the way to Greene Orange and Fluvanna fill," Banner said. "My guess is that if people are looking at coming to a Thursday concert, they are going to say, 'Why don't we stay in Charlottesville for the weekend and tour the wineries?'"

However, concert-goers still looking for a place to stay for the Oct. 6 concert might have some trouble. Local hotels are reporting that they are booked.

"We were booked within a day and half of the concert announcement," said Larry Tushman, general manager of the Best Western Cavalier Inn on the corner of Emmet St. and University Avenue.

Debbie Brown, the director of sales for the Courtyard Marriott on West Main said that the hotel was booked prior to the announcement of the Stones concert.Although the Marriott does have a waiting list, Brown said that people in town for weddings and conferences the same weekend as the concert filled up their reservations.

According to both Tushman and Brown, their hotels have received many calls from people interested in booking a room for the night of the concert but that the interest is comparable to an ordinary football game weekend.

According to Wilson, stadium events, like the Stones concert, are an exception.

"There just isn't that many stadium tours out there," he said.

However, Wilson also noted that the opening of the John Paul Jones Arena will bring more high profile events to Charlottesville and the University community.

"We expect to book many more shows just as this," Wilson said.

Traffic is expected to be hectic, too.

"We're anticipating a lot of traffic, especially as we change over from a work day to a concert event," said Rebecca White, director of University Parking and Transportation. "The hours between 4 p.m. and 7p.m. are going to be particularly challenging."

White said her department is working with the University and City police to help accommodate the anticipated traffic swell but that no plans have been finalized. However, White said there should be a shuttle running from the Downtown Mall area along West Main to help transport visitors staying in hotels along near the University, similar to the shuttles that run during home football games.