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Rejected Music Festival Bids for Flushing Meadows-Corona Park Back on Table

By Katie Honan | December 13, 2016 4:58pm
 Three major companies applied for multi-day concerts at the park.
Three major companies applied for multi-day concerts at the park.
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DNAinfo/Katie Honan

CORONA — Three major concert production companies have their eyes on Flushing Meadows-Corona Park again, despite having their proposals denied last year amid concerns of excluding the public from the park.

Representatives from AEG, Founders Entertainment and the Madison Square Garden Company applied last month to host major festivals at the park in 2017, a Parks Department official confirmed. The proposals are similar to what they submitted last year, which were all for multi-day concerts featuring big-name musicians at the park, an official said.

But the applications have re-ignited a debate over using public parks for pricey events.

Borough President Melinda Katz, who was against the concerts last year, said she remained opposed to the shows — and expressed concern over the lack of policy on the books over the proposals.

"Without a fair policy in place, I remain opposed to any applications from for-profit organizations to run paid-admission events in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park," she said in a statement.

"The absence of a revised policy, including a set selection criteria and process approved by the community, renders the process arbitrary and unfair."

The whole purpose of a public park, she said, is to create equitable space for everyone — and hosting a costly festival "flies in the face of the very principle behind our parks," she wrote.

Last year the borough president's office hosted the "Only in Queens" concert in the park, featuring Ginuwine and Kid N' Play, which was free for all. 

A Parks Department spokeswoman said the agency's current rules allowed them to approve or deny each proposal with the city's best interests in mind.

"Following a thorough review, NYC Parks is confident that our existing rules strike the right balance between accommodating exciting special events in our parks and preserving park spaces for all New Yorkers to relax, explore and play," spokeswoman Meghan Lalor wrote in an email.

Kimberly Kerns, from MSG, said they believed the company was "ideally suited" to put on a festival at the park "that not only showcases the culture and diversity of New York City but also provides tangible, long-term benefits to the local community."

The producer of the Panorama Music Festival — which was moved to Randall's Island last year — said they remained committed to hosting their show in Queens. 

"Panorama Music Festival is committed to being a long-term partner with the Queens community to bring a world class event, with all the benefits it delivers to local employment, park users, and non-profit institutions, while celebrating the unique and historic nature of Flushing Meadows-Corona Park,” said Mark Shulman, festival producer.

Last year they supported local cultural institutions and donated money for STEM scholarships. They were also a sponsor of the Louis Armstrong Wonderful World Concert at the park last July, which will featured New Orleans musical stars Kermit Ruffins and Dr. John.

A spokeswoman for Founders Entertainment confirmed the application, but declined to comment.

Last year, they turned their denied "Festival Q" into "The Meadows," which was held in Citi Field's parking lot in October. 

The festival featured stars including Kanye West, who cut his set short after finding out his wife Kim Kardashian-West had been robbed in Paris.