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September 21st, 2006

BY MELISSA RUGGIERI - TIMES-DISPATCH STAFF WRITER

It's taken five years, but the Dave Matthews Band is finally coming home again.

Tomorrow and Saturday, the Charlottesville-based mega-band will officially christen the John Paul Jones Arena at the University of Virginia for what venue officials are deeming its "grand opening."

Yes, the building has been open since Aug. 1, when Cirque du Soleil brought its traveling spectacle, "Delirium," and has since hosted shows from James Taylor, Kenny Chesney and Brad Paisley, who shot his new video for "She's Everything" at JPJ during last Friday's concert.

But this weekend is the official hoo-ha.

"We wanted to do something for the students and make sure they could come, and a natural fit was the Dave Matthews Band," said Larry Wilson, general manager at JPJ, adding that Coran Capshaw, longtime DMB manager and music business mogul, was active in launching the plan.

"We started a dialogue months ago," Wilson said. "The band was all ears, they wanted to play here again and there was a venue for them to play indoors."

DMB's last Charlottesville visit was in 2001, in front of 50,000 concertgoers at Scott Stadium. This weekend, the band will perform for just about 15,000 each night. Both shows are sold out.

Wilson last week attended a DMB concert at the Pepsi Center in Denver and says fans can expect typical Dave and Co.

"Dave's music speaks for itself. That's what they've always done. Their stage setup has three large video boards behind them and they just get out there and sing," Wilson said.

Those visiting JPJ for the first time should be aware that U.Va. has chosen not to sell alcohol at any of its events. Also, some patrons have grumbled about prices to park at one of the venue's five surrounding lots/garages. It's an issue that Wilson says is unavoidable.

"We're barely breaking even on parking," he said. "It costs a lot of money when you have the amount of staff and police that we do. It's not that we're making a lot of money on it, but there's an expectation to get in and out [of the venue] easily and to do that, you have to have a certain amount of staff."

The arena's Web site, www.johnpauljonesarena.com, details the areas where patrons can pre-purchase parking, which typically runs from $5-$15 depending upon the event. For this concert, parking costs $20.60 in advance (including all fees) for a guaranteed space in one of those five areas, or $15 at the gate, which could be sold out by show time.

Once the attention-grabbing DMB shows are in the record books, Wilson and his staff will begin preparing for the sold out Oct. 12 Eric Clapton date, Disney on Ice Oct. 18-22 and the Nov. 12 home opener of U.Va. basketball.

Wilson is already anticipating the 2007 calendar. "We've got lots of stuff we're working on for the first quarter," he said. "It's going to be huge"

2006, articlesdbtp