Parks Department denies permits for large-scale music festivals in Flushing Meadows Corona Park

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Queens Borough President Melinda Katz recently said permits for large music festivals in Flushing Meadows Corona Park should be denied, and the Parks Department seems to agree.

According to Meghan Lalor, spokesperson for the Parks Department, the agency reviewed several permit applications on Dec. 19 and decided not to accept them. She did not elaborate on why every application was denied.

Three companies, including AEGLive, Founders Entertainment and Madison Square Garden, applied to hold multiple-day music festivals in Flushing Meadows Corona Park over the summer. Those same companies announced their intentions to hold festivals at the park last summer. The city also denied the applications last year. 

Since last year, Katz has said that the city has no official policy “for for-profit organizations to run paid-admission events” and that until a policy is put in place, she will remain opposed to any applications.

While many city parks, including Flushing Meadows Corona Park, regularly host small musical performances, this decision by the Parks Department affects large-scale, for-profit festivals such as the Panorama Festival, which was created by the organizers of Coachella.

Mark Shulman, festival producer at Goldenvoice, the concert arm of AEGLive, previously told QNS that since Flushing Meadows Corona Park has held large for-profit events such as the World’s Fairs in 1964 and 1939, that its the ideal venue to hold large events.

“Why do we hold events in Flushing Meadows Corona Park honoring an event that happened 50 years ago?” he said. “Let’s make one now. It doesn’t make sense to look at the past, celebrate it and then say, ‘But we can’t do it now.’”

In October, the organizers behind Governors Ball hosted The Meadows Music & Arts Festival at Citi Field, where big names like Kanye West, Chance the Rapper, Grimes, Chromeo and J. Cole performed. Organizers have discussed interest in holding the festival again in 2017. Since the festival was held at Citi Field grounds, Founders Entertainment does not require a permit approval from the Parks Department.

It is not clear whether the city is working on an official policy for large for-profit events. City Council was scheduled to hold a hearing on the matter on June 2 but it was deferred, according to a spokesperson for Katz.

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