PHILADELPHIA (CelebrityAccess) Jay-Z and Live Nation as a whole are not the only ones making it clear that they are disappointed that Philadelphia may be moving the Made In America festival out of the city center, with Live Nation’s Philly chief, Geoff Gordon, weighing in on the controversy as well.
Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kelley has said that festival, curated by Jay-Z and his Roc Nation (along with Jay-Z partner Live Nation), may need to relocate next year from its current home of Ben Franklin Parkway in the city’s downtown hub. Kelley has said he loves Jay-Z and loves the concert but a spokeswoman said it may no longer need to take place in its current location.
The original concerts helped drive tourism to the area but, now, there is plenty of that and festival draws congestion and complaints from neighbors, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. Plus, it is a major expense, with Philadelphia spending more than $1.1 million last year on city services with Roc Nation picking up $600,000 of the tab. The festival also lost its major sponsor, Budweiser, last year.
Jay-Z issued a statement that was picked up by several media outlets: “We are disappointed that the mayor of the city of Philadelphia would evict us from the heart of the city, through a media outlet, without a sit-down meeting, notice, dialogue, or proper communication. It signifies zero appreciation for what Made In America has built alongside the phenomenal citizens of this city. In fact, this administration immediately greeted us with a legal letter trying to stop the 2018 event.”
He added that the event had a positive $102.8 million economic impact on Philadelphia.
Live Nation also issued a statement, urging the city to keep Made In America at Ben Franklin Parkway.
Now, Gordon, who runs Live Nation’s Philadelphia market and its various productions throughout the city, spoke to the Inquirer about his concerns. As the paper noted, Live Nation has produced several major events at the Parkway, including the Live 8 concert in 2005, Pope Francis’ visit in 2015, the NFL Draft in 2017, and the annual Wawa Welcome America Festival, which is headlined this year by Pitbull.
“I’m trying to show support for everything Jay-Z does, for all the right reasons,” Gordon said. “He’s a great artist, and a really great business partner, and one of the most creative people I’ve ever met.”
Gordon added that the Labor Day event, which includes acts like Nicki Minaj, Janelle Monae, Diplo and Meek Mill, is a “world-class festival that we’re so lucky to have.”
I remember the first year we did it, my friends from out of town saw the stream and said ‘Hey, where’d you get those fountains?’” Gordon said, referring to the Parkway’s Washington Monument fountain and its companions, which were in front of the festival’s mainstage.
“I said, ‘Hey guys, they’re there all the time.’ I’ve been here for over 20 years, and they’ve never come to visit me, and sure enough after they saw Philadelphia on the stream, they came to visit, a couple of times. I think there’s a real benefit to that. You can have a festival in a field anywhere, and its going to look like a field. But with that cityscape and that vibe and the main arteries of the city? It’s awesome.”
Live Nation’s Omar Al-Joulani also recently told the Inquirer that “by saying that they’re not going to allow us back on the Parkway, they are saying that Made in America as we know it is over.”
Although the Parkway has had recent events like the Eagles Super Bowl parade and annual events like the Philadelphia Marathon and AIDs Walk, a recent study showed that only 26 percent of those 35 or older wanted to see more music festivals in the area, according to the Inquirer. The Parkway has also expressed concern about damage to its artwork.
“We had some operational difficulties on the Parkway because of how long it kind of takes to set up and take down,” Kenney said at a recent presser, although he added he would meet with Roc Nation’s Desiree Perez and Philadelphia 76ers co-owner Michael Rubin on where to hold the festival next year.