MSG looks to hold ‘world-class’ music festival in Flushing Meadows Corona Park

Madison Square Garden has announced it has applied to hold a three-day festival at Flushing Meadows Corona Park.
Photo by Eden, Janine and Jim/Wikimedia Commons

Updated 3:10 p.m.

The “World’s Borough” seems to be the place to be this upcoming summer for music festivals.

Madison Square Garden has announced that it is looking to gain permission to hold a three-day outdoor music festival at Flushing Meadows Corona Park in June 2016.

The festival — set to be held on Friday, June 24, through Sunday, June 26 — is expected to feature a lineup of music talent and interactive activities.

A free Queens community celebration is also scheduled to be held on Saturday, June 18.

In total, the festival will include about 40 acts that”represent the diversity of New York,” according to MSG, and will include performers from pop, rock, Latin, hip-hop and more genres.

MSG is also expected to include New York City-centric food, including food from Queens vendors.

“As a New York company, we are ideally suited to produce a successful festival in Queens that not only celebrates the very best in music but also provides tangible, long-term benefits to the local community in a way no one else can,” said David O’Connor, president and chief executive officer of The Madison Square Garden Company. “Madison Square Garden has been at the center of New York life for more than 135 years. We live here, work here and have a strong connection with generations of New York fans who have attended our sports and entertainment events. There’s no one as committed to, or more capable of, creating a world-class festival than we are. This opportunity represents an incredible moment for us to join with the community and do something amazing – that benefits both music fans and the city we are privileged to call home.”

MSG also added that it plans to minimize the impact of the festival on the park’s operation, such as keep the soccer fields completely operational both leading up to and during the festival.

The company is also set to donate tickets to Queens residents to both the festival and summer events at Radio City Music Hall and Madison Square Garden. The free Queens community celebration on Saturday, June 18, will include a concert with diverse, local artists and vendors, activities, games and rides, as well as a Knicks basketball clinic and court refurbishment dedication.

On Sunday, MSG submitted its application for a permit to hold the festival to the Park Department, which is expected to provide feedback in the coming months. Then MSG will finalize plans and work with city and local stakeholders.

This petition to gain access to the Queens park joins the initial move by AEG Live, which hosts the massive music and arts festival Coachella and which was reported to be scoping out the same park as a home for an East Coast version of its festival — expected to be called Panorama.

Initial reports of AEG Live’s intentions to bring Coachella to New York were met with some resistance by the creators of Governor’s Ball, an independent music festival started in 2011 that is held at Randall’s Island during the first week of June.

The festival’s founders created an online petition, calling for supporters to ask Mayor Bill de Blasio to reject AEG Live’s proposal and force them to hold the festival at another time.

In a statement released Monday afternoon, Queens Borough President gave the festival applications a thumbs down stating that because this sort of thing has never been done in the borough before, there is much that needs to be looked at before considering an approval.

“The use of our public parks – especially one as utilized as Flushing Meadows Corona Park – must be coordinated and planned under an official city policy, because the absence of one renders the entire process arbitrary and unfair,” Katz said. “There must also be engagement with the affected community and a real accounting of the adverse and residual impacts on the surrounding neighborhoods. Quite frankly, it’s still unclear how limited resources expended for events of such scale would be returned to Queens and its families.”

She continued by saying, “These proposals to rent out precious public parkland to for-profit organizations for paid-admission events are therefore not acceptable at this time. It has never been done before in Queens, and without a fair city policy approved by the community to properly shape this significant precedent, we should not start now.”

In Katz’s statement, it was also highlighted that if the applications were granted, it would be the first time ever for Queens to “lend its treasured public parkland to for-profit organizations for paid-admission events.”

It was also noted that the dates requested would displace events — such as the annual World’s Fair Anniversary Festival, the Louis Armstrong Festival and Mets games — which Queens residents are already used to.

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