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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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A proposed Monsters of Rock 2020 show may roll into Albi Stadium for August concert

UPDATED: Mon., Jan. 6, 2020

Albi Stadium’s swan song could be a rocking, head-banging event to remember – just as in summer 1988.

That’s when the epic Monsters of Rock tour came to Spokane and treated more than 30,000 music-lovers to the likes of Van Halen, the Scorpions, Dokken and an up-and-coming band called Metallica.

Now a concert promoter involved in that epic event wants to do it again this August in what it is calling “Monsters of Rock 2020.” WestCoast Entertainment hopes to send Albi out in a blaze of glory – packed with thousands of sweaty, thirsty fans. First, they need approval from the Spokane Public Schools board.

Heavy-metal fans crush up against the stage at Joe Albi Stadium in 1988 to get closer to performers in the Monsters of Rock concert. (The Spokesman-Review photo archive / SR)
Heavy-metal fans crush up against the stage at Joe Albi Stadium in 1988 to get closer to performers in the Monsters of Rock concert. (The Spokesman-Review photo archive / SR)

The concert idea was floated last summer by rock legend Sammy Hagar – lead singer for Van Halen on that memorable afternoon. Hagar said during a concert at Northern Quest Resort that he would like to help send the stadium out with a bang. He also said he was willing to call the other bands on that historic bill to join him in Spokane.

The proposal includes details by a small team now working with Hagar.

Naturally, at a concert like this, fans would want more than Diet Coke, which would require Albi’s new owner to change its rules regarding the sale of alcohol.

The Spokane school board will consider the issue during a special meeting Wednesday night.

According to the board’s meeting agenda, WestCoast Entertainment “would like to know as soon as possible whether the School District would allow the sale of beer and wine at the stadium to provide them adequate time for booking performing groups and making arrangements.”

The concert would be held on a Saturday, either Aug. 15 or Aug. 22.

The stadium, built in 1950, has been used mostly for high school sporting events, but under city ownership it also hosted speakers, college and semi-pro sporting events and concerts – with alcohol allowed.

However, following a pair of land exchanges with the school district, the stadium and 20 surrounding acres now belong to the school district, whose policies prohibit alcohol sales.

By 2022, the stadium is scheduled to be razed to make room for a new stadium and a new middle school, part of a school bond approved by voters in 2018.

The original Monsters of Rock concert will be hard to top. The smallest of 25 venues for what was described at the time as the most expensive rock tour ever assembled, Albi Stadium on July 20, 1988, was as close to Woodstock as it gets in the Inland Northwest.

According to reporter Jim DeFede of The Spokesman-Review, the 12-hour-long concert “was an ear-piercing, fist-waving, teen-pleasing good time. A heavy-metal feast. A head-banging ball.”

It also was a paramedic’s nightmare as temperatures on the field reached 100 degrees.

“Heat, drugs and alcohol took their toll on hundreds of heavy metal fans,” Jess Walter wrote for The Spokesman-Review.

But the good times far outweighed the bad, young concertgoers said at the time.

“Here we are free,” said 19-year-old Susan Anderson, of Spokane. “We’re not criticized for what we do or what we look like.”

Or sound like, apparently.

DeFede also wrote that the 115-decibel “peaks of sound – louder than a jet at takeoff – aroused the fans’ adrenalin and they responded with clenched fists and devotion.

“It’s the best, it’s power, it makes us feel good,” 17-year-old Jason Cebriak was quoted as saying. “It’s all about life and death.”

For Sammy Hagar, lead vocalist for Van Halen, the event is worth reliving.

Last summer, Hagar was in Spokane working on a film based on the development of the original Monsters of Rock tour by Josh Nicholson and several friends.

Upon hearing of the impending demolition of Albi Stadium, Hagar was inspired to push for another concert at Albi.

Besides Hagar and Nicholson, the new team working to bring a Monsters of Rock 2020 show to Spokane includes Dan Merchant, an executive of Z Nation, Justin Kobluck, president of WestCoast, and Matt Gibson, who recently left his job as general manager of the Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena to work on the project.

The proposal also lists several event partners, including Northern Quest Resort & Casino, TicketsWest, security company StaffPro/CS, beer distributor Odom Corp., and PepsiCo.

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