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City Rejects Flushing Meadows-Corona Park Festival Bids for 2nd Year in Row

By Katie Honan | December 21, 2016 2:00pm | Updated on December 21, 2016 4:14pm

​CORONA — The Parks Department has denied bids to hold multi-day festivals at Flushing Meadows-Corona Park — shooting down promoters' hopes for the second year in a row, officials said.

The proposals from AEG, Live Nation and the Madison Square Garden Company all promised to bring big-name musicians, local food vendors and world-class art to the park.

Founders Entertainment planned a concert for the weekend of Sept. 15-17, 2017, while AEG and Madison Square Garden Company both pitched a festival on the same weekend — July 28-30, 2017, according to copies of the proposals obtained by DNAinfo New York.

The Parks Department rejected their proposals, sending individual letters to each applicant saying that the park couldn't accommodate any of the festivals.

"Given the proposed duration of your three-day festival and the large amount of the Park that would be occupied for an extensive period of time, including the load in, loud out and the actual event, the Department has determined that the Park is not a viable venue for an event of this size and duration," Commissioner Dorothy Lewandowski wrote to all three applicants. 

Officials added that the MSG and AEG events also conflicted with events in the park, although the letter did not specify which events. 

When the department denied the bids for 2016, Commissioner Mitchell Silver said their "primary concern is ensuring the park is available for the many New Yorkers who call Flushing Meadows Corona Park their backyard."

Flushing Meadows-Corona Park is the borough's largest and utilized by thousands of people each year. Many for-profit events already limit its use each year, most notably the U.S. Open — whose massive security forced the closure of the Queens Museum this summer. 

It was also built to host two large-scale, multi-day events: The 1939/1940 and 1963/1964 World's Fairs. 

Borough President Melinda Katz said she supported the decision, adding that she remains opposed to any festival until there is a "fair policy in place."

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

Mark Shulman, the producer of the Panorama Music Festival from AEG — which was held on Randall's Island last year — said they hope to eventually host the event at the park.

“The Panorama Music Festival remains committed to utilizing our expertise and collaborating with city agencies and the community to successfully bring a world class event to Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, a park built to host events of this nature, like the World’s Fairs," he said in a statement. 

"We are excited to celebrate this unique and historic park by partnering with the local community to create jobs, invest in park improvements, support local businesses and cultural opportunities."

Tom Russell, co-founder and partner of Founders Entertainment, which Live Nation owns a majority stake in, said in a statement, "We support the borough president's comments on the need for a fair and open process. We only want to do events in the park if they are welcome by the community and support the local Queens culture."

And a spokeswoman for MSG wrote in an email that the company will "continue to think that Flushing Meadows would be a great place to hold a world-class music festival and that we are the right company to ensure it would be a success, and we look forward to working with all appropriate parties to make this opportunity a reality.”