Courtesy Cassandra Foley
TomorrowWorld 2015 didn’t exactly go as planned this past September. It rained hard, as it sometimes does in Georgia. Flooding in south Fulton County turned the Chattahoochee Hills festival grounds—where 160,000 people had come to listen as the world’s top electronic dance music DJs pressed buttons on laptops for five days and four nights—into what would later be dubbed an “EDM internment camp.” Poor planning by organizers left thousands of fans stranded in the countryside overnight. In a big financial blow to the festival, promoters were forced to issue refunds to some ticketholders on the event’s final day.
If TomorrowWorld’s future was already in doubt, it became even less certain as the company behind the festival filed for bankruptcy Monday after its stock price dropped more than 95 percent over the past year. SFX Entertainment Inc., the publicly-traded company that last year put on TomorrowWorld and more than 100 other electronic music festivals around the world, struck a deal with bond holders to restructure more than $300 million in debt. If approved by a court, SFX Chairman Robert F.X. Sillerman announced, the company would convert into a private company in an attempt to keep major EDM festivals such as Electric Zoo, Mysteryland, and Stereosonic afloat.
“All scheduled and planned events and festivals will take place without interruption providing SFX’s millions of fans an uninterrupted season of spectacular experiences,” Sillerman said in a statement.
Debby Wilmsen, a spokeperson for ID&T Belgium—which organizes the wildly popular Tomorrowland in Antwerp, Belgium, and partners with SFX on a spinoff event in Brazil—said those two festivals will go on according to schedule. However, she provided no such assurance for TomorrowWorld, the American sister event founded back in 2013.
“In light of the present situation, no concrete plans have yet been made for TomorrowWorld 2016,” Wilmsen said in a statement. “We are currently exploring all possibilities.”
In 2014, the festival had an estimated economic impact of $72 million, pumping more cash into the metro Atlanta economy than the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game ($23 million), SEC Football Championship ($39 million), or even Dragon Con ($55 million).
Company representatives for SFX, Tomorrowland, and Bouckaert Farm, the site for TomorrowWorld, did not respond to requests for further comment about the fest’s future. In the past two years, festival tickets went on sale between eight and 10 months in advance. But no sale dates have yet been announced for TomorrowWorld 2016. Now, with bankruptcy proceedings in motion, the prospect of sleepy Chattahoochee Hills turning back into an blaring EDM playground seem even bleaker than before.