Athletes and musicians have a mutual respect, whether it’s shown through a baseball player’s walk-up song, or an athlete forming a band.
From Friday, March 23, to Sunday, March 25, C3 Presents is bringing the two together with the first Innings Festival in Tempe, from the beach park to the arts center.
“The concept is to combine the theme of baseball with the reality of a music festival,” says Tim Sweetwood, producer of Innings Festival. “There are hundreds of thousands of folks in and around Phoenix for Spring Training baseball, and the majority or lion’s share of those games are happening mid-day, noon or one o’clock, and then in the afternoon, there’s not something specific for these fans to do.
“So, the concept was to target them and attract them and do something where we could do music and then the baseball theme was that connector for everyone.”
The music features a diverse lineup ranging from rock to pop and country. With three stages, the festival will hold appearances from more than 35 artists.
On Friday, the festival boasts such acts as Queens of the Stone Age, Young the Giant, Cold War Kids and Sylvan Esso. Then, Saturday will bring to the stage The Avett Brothers, The Head and the Heart and The Decemberists. Sunday will conclude with headliners like Chris Stapleton, Counting Crows, Dispatch and Luke Combs.
“There’s a strange relationship with music and athletes and the interesting curiosity that comes forward,” says Chris Zasche, The Head and the Heart’s bassist. A Seattle native, he grew up watching the Mariners.
“Some musicians are interested in sports and just the level of professionalism. Any time you see an athlete walk into a stadium, they’re listening to music. Music is a big part of sports and athletes’ worlds.”
But that’s just the music; baseball also plays a major role.
“There are actually going to be some physical attractions that are at the festival itself,” Sweetwood says. “So, we’ll have batting cages, speed pitch, there’s a home run derby, and then we’re going to have appearances from athletes – primarily baseball – but in different ways, shapes and forms.”
One of those ways is through the food demonstrations. After all the activities, guests are sure to get hungry, which is where Sanctuary’s chef, Beau MacMillan, comes into play. Festival officials tapped the chef to curate the food, and host on-stage demos featuring participation from athletes and musicians. Plenty of bars and concession areas will also be available.
“We’ll have upward of 20-plus vendors, whether that’s a food truck or they’re coming into a tent installation,” Sweetwood says. “Chef Beau is handpicking those folks, and that comes from some restaurants he has relationships with but also some of the general public businesses that have submitted to try to be a part of the event.”
Vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free diets will be accommodated.
“We want to make sure if you’re a meat eater, there’s something for you, and if you’re a vegan, then there are options for you as well,” Sweetwood explains.
A number of partners of the festival will be present to host booths featuring merchandise and giveaways. Included is a promotional partnership with Major League Baseball, which will bring its own store. Local spot Zia Record Exchange is also involved.
“Zia Records is going to have a record store on site and then they’re lining up artist signings and artist meet and greets,” he says.
An Ambassador Program will allow would-be patrons to help promote the festival in exchange for benefits.
“The Ambassador Program is a chance for folks, whether it be college kids who maybe don’t have a big income or any income, to be an ambassador, saying that they’re kind of a proponent and almost mini-promoter of the festival,” Sweetwood explains. “If they encourage and are able to get a handful of folks into the festival and sign up other folks to buy tickets, then they actually receive perks.”
These perks could include a free ticket or an upgrade from general admission to VIP.
“This is a chance for someone to assist us on promoting, and then a chance for them to reap the benefits of that,” he says.
Single-day general admission tickets start at $89, rising for full-weekend, VIP and platinum passes.
Mt. Joy singer/guitarist Matt Quinn says participating in Innings was a no-brainer.
“I grew up watching the Phillies,” Quinn adds. “I watched the Eagles win the Super Bowl, which was a lifelong dream. Let’s just say playing a sports-related festival was a cool thing.”
Innings Festival, Tempe Beach Park & Arts Park, 80 W. Rio Salado Parkway, Tempe, inningsfestival.com, various times Friday, March 23, through Sunday, March 25, tickets start at $89.