Talks underway to bring Coachella-style festival to borough

By Bill Parry

A concert promoter is in preliminary discussions with the City Parks Department and City Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras (D-East Elmhurst) that would bring a large-scale music festival to Flushing Meadows Corona Park in June. AEG Live, which stages the wildly popular Coachella Festival in California each year, as well as Firefly in Delaware, would stage a show called Panorama, a nod to the name of a model of the five boroughs that was created for the 1964 World’s Fair.

A parks official says that no final proposals may be submitted until November. A Ferreras spokeswoman said, “As with any major project in her district, she will work in the best interest of the community and the long-term future of the park.”

State Sen. Jose Peralta (D-East Elmhurst) represents the district to the west of the park that includes business corridors on Roosevelt Avenue and 108th Streets that would flourish in the short term if such a festival drew tens of thousands of music fans to the area.

“If we are going to host such a large-scale music event, we must put safety and security measures in place to ensure that everything runs smoothly,” Peralta said. “These massive concerts promise to place Queens on the international music scene and everything that promotes our borough, if done appropriately, translates into a positive for our community.”

The last major event at Flushing Meadows Corona Park was the 50th Anniversary celebration of the ’64 World’s Fair, which drew 60,000 last May. Borough President Melinda Katz staged that celebration and made the restoration of the New York State Pavilion a priority since taking office in January 2014.

Katz initially said she encourages public events of any scale that enhance the borough but she had concerns about lending treasured parkland to a for-profit company.

“Borough President Katz has expressed her significant concerns to the administration about the type of precedent it would set to rent public parkland for paid-admission events, especially when it has never been done before in Queens,” her spokeswoman Sharon Lee said. “In lieu of official policy on the matter, Borough President Katz is in ongoing discussions with the administration to develop a policy that includes public input and that makes sense for Queens and the city.”

The fact that AEG Live has its eyes on the borough was telling at the Queens Economic Development Corporation.

“This is just another sign that Queens is blowing up,” Rob MacKay, the QEDC Director of Marketing & Tourism, said. “We’ve been internationally known for our restaurants for years but this is recognition at a whole other level. We can handle this like we do other international events like the US Open. The park is a wonderful venue because of all the transportation options from the 7 train, the airports and all of the highways and we have a large amount of high-quality hotels. Queens is a great place for such a festival because all of the visitors will check out everything else the borough has to offer.”

Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr[email protected]local.com or by phone at (718) 260–4538.

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