Three-Day Metal Hellfest Canceled Over Insurance Snag

Event was set to feature Killswitch Engage, As I Lay Dying and Public Enemy.

The ninth-annual Hellfest, hardcore and heavy metal’s answer to Lollapalooza, was shelved Wednesday night, just two days before the three-day event was set to kick off at Trenton, New Jersey’s Sovereign Bank Arena.

An official statement issued Wednesday by the festival’s organizers attributed Hellfest’s cancellation to “circumstances beyond our control.”

The concert’s lineup featured Killswitch Engage, As I Lay Dying, Hatebreed, Sick of It All, the Misfits, Bouncing Souls, From Autumn to Ashes, a reunited Lifetime, Public Enemy and more than 150 other metal, hardcore, punk and hip-hop acts. The thousands who’d shelled out $120 for tickets can get a full refund from point of purchase.

According to a report in Thursday’s (August 18) issue of The Trentonian newspaper, Sovereign Bank Arena officials said Hellfest’s promoters didn’t secure an adequate insurance policy to cover the event, and additionally failed to provide a detailed security plan — both requirements of the festival’s lease agreement with the arena.

Not so, Hellfest organizer Shawn VanderPoel told The Trentonian. He claims that he met all of the contract’s conditions by taking out two separate $1 million insurance policies, one for injuries and accidental deaths and a second for property damage. VanderPoel blasted the arena’s tactics, saying he’d met all requirements and alleging that SBA had unearthed a loophole that cleared the way to pull the plug on an event it no longer wanted.

The loophole? It seems SBA required Hellfest’s organizers to obtain policies from an “A8 rated” insurance company, which VanderPoel admits was never done. But he told the paper that the arena never specified what rating the insurer needed to have. He was notified Tuesday morning, via fax, of the insurance snag and was given until Wednesday morning to right the alleged wrong, or Hellfest would be buried.

VanderPoel responded by filing a lawsuit in Burlington County Superior Court against the venue’s management. But it was too late for Hellfest, as a judge decided that there was no way to pull off the event safely given the time constraints, reports The Trentonian.

“They always say you can’t fight city hall,” VanderPoel told the paper. “Obviously, someone in city hall didn’t want this to happen.”

The main page of Hellfest’s official Web site expressed regret over the situation. A statement reads, in part, “We send our deepest apologies out to the fans and everyone who was involved with the event and want you to be aware that legal action is being taken.”