Governors Ball May Move To The Bronx

Burak Cingi/Redferns

Governors Ball May Move To The Bronx

Burak Cingi/Redferns

Every June since 2011, the New York City music festival Governors Ball has gone down on Randall’s Island. It’s not the most convenient location, and when it rains things get especially messy, so it’s perhaps unsurprising that the fest is looking to relocate to a venue with subway access and more space.

Tom Russell of Gov Ball parent company Founders Entertainment confirms to The City that his operation is exploring a move to Van Cortlandt Park. Founders has already applied for and been denied a permit to host Gov Ball 2020 at the park. In a letter to Founders last week, the Parks Department’s Bronx Borough Commissioner Iris Rodriguez-Rosa wrote, “The department has determined that the park is not a viable venue for an event of this size and duration. Moreover, the park has not hosted events of this duration and size before.” Founders is appealing the decision.

Some members of Community Board 8 expressed concern about the event overwhelming local subway lines and parking. Meeting notes from the board’s 12/12 meeting, where Founders presented its plans for moving the fest to the Bronx, indicate Gov Ball is expected to attract 50,000 people per day, compared to the 2,000-3,000 people who attend the annual New York Philharmonic concert at Van Cortlandt. Other board members were interested in exploring options but were worried about the logistics of planning the event in less than six months. Founders told the board the Randall’s Island Conservancy was paid $600,000 for hosting Gov Ball last year.

Historically, music festivals have had trouble establishing themselves in New York’s city parks. Panorama, a competing New York music fest from Coachella promoter AEG, was originally planned for Flushing Meadows-Corona Park in Queens in 2016 but had to relocate to Randall’s on the fly due to various logistical factors; that story offered plenty of political intrigue, too. Panorama lasted for three years but has not happened since 2018. Founders’ The Meadows festival promoted as a Flushing Meadows event in 2016 as well but actually went down at the “Citi Field complex,” meaning it happened in a baseball stadium parking lot that is technically part of Flushing Meadows. The Meadows happened in 2016 and 2017 before being discontinued.

Gov Ball, however, carries on. The fest’s 10th annual iteration is scheduled to run from June 5-7, 2020. The fest recently announced an updated age policy requiring minors to be accompanied by an adult at least 21 years old. Whether it happens on Randall’s Island or in the Bronx remains to be seen.

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