ROCKINGHAM — Heavy metal band Metallica will be headlining two nights of the second annual Epicenter Festival — which will not return to Richmond County for 2020.
The band is scheduled to play sets on Friday, May 1 and Sunday, May 3 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Drummer Lars Ulrich said in a live video that Metallica hasn’t played the same two shows — except for video shoots — since 2004.
The band recently postponed part of its fall tour after singer and guitarist James Hetfield announced he was going back to rehab.
Promoter Danny Wimmer Presents announced late Thursday that the festival would not be returning to Rockingham Dragway, where the inaugural event was held, but instead move to Charlotte Motor Speedway’s Rock City Campground in Concord, which was home to Epicenter’s predecessor Carolina Rebellion.
DWP said the move was made for the fans.
“The No. 1 request we received from the fans was to move the festival to Charlotte… and we listened,” promoters said in a statement. “The new location offers plenty of nearby lodging, increased camping, and convenient travel options.”
When Epicenter was in Richmond County, local leaders say it had a huge impact on the regional economy.
Earlier this year, County Manager Bryan Land credited Epicenter for a considerable spike in sales taxes.
Kenneth Robinette, chairman of the Richmond County Board of Commissioners said he, Land and other leaders “did everything we could to keep them here.”
He added that he thought negative media coverage and negotiations with the Rockingham Speedway and Entertainment Complex calculated into DWP’s decision to move.
The speedway was supposed to host several events after Epicenter.
A July 4 celebration, which was touted to have the largest fireworks spectacle in the southeast, was canceled in mid-June.
The Richmond County Chamber of Commerce had also planned to hold Hoptoberfest at the Speedway but moved it across the street to the dragway in late June.
The Speedway also teased on its website “something awesome” was coming July 19 — but nothing else was ever said and nothing happened.
Dragway owner Steve Earwood said although there was a 10-year deal for Epicenter, promoters could pull out by Sept. 1
When DWP asked for an extension until Oct. 1, Earwood took that as a good sign. However, that deadline also came and went before he was notified that the promoters had changed their minds.
Earwood said losing Epicenter is a huge loss for the community.
However, it may not be gone for good.
He said there’s a clause in the contract that allows promoters to sit out for a year and come back the next.