This year's Red Sky Music Festival, kicking off July 18, will be a trimmed down version from the inaugural year. The Metropolitan Entertainment Convention Authority (M.E.C.A.) and Live Nation have lined up acts for three days instead of six.
Rascal Flatts will be the headliner that first evening, followed by Brad Paisley on Friday, July 20 and Def Leppard, with Lita Ford and Poison on Saturday July 21.
Roger Dixon, President of M.E.C.A., said, "We worked really hard with Live Nation, trying to fill that Thursday night. [But] scheduling issues and trying to get the right mix of artist in there ... it got to the point where we just had to move forward."
Eric Ziegler of Omaha said the shortened schedule and the choice of headliners leaves him feeling disappointed. "Not that Brad Paisley or Rascal Flatts are not A list, but there's plenty of great contemporary artists that I think could bring a lot to the Red Sky festival."
Josh Callahan, who recently moved to Omaha, is more positive about the line-up. "I'm a big country fan," he said.
And that's what it comes down to, said Dixon. "Omaha has always done well on country. When you have a 24,000 seat stadium, you've got to go with the artists that are going to have the best opportunity to fill those seats."
And on the other end of the music spectrum, Def Leppard and Poison, he said, are expected to be strong closers based on how well the tour has been doing nationally. Currently, he said, ticket sales are ahead of where they were for Red Sky last year, despite the fact that there are fewer bands to see.
"I thought last year there were a lot more people I would come down to see," said Jeff Grinvalds of Omaha, "but it was so hot."
This year, Dixon said, they're increasing the number of water stations in addition to bringing back misting tents. They're anticipating less brutal weather conditions, which is expected to help with attendance.
Another big boost, Dixon said, should come from the "B" stage, in parking lot B across from the stadium. T.D. Ameritrade is picking up the cost of local, regional and national acts so concert-goers can get in at no charge. There will be only one stage in parking lot B this year, compared to two stages last year. Then, the cost to get in was $15.