Forest Hills Concert Concerns Addressed At Public Forum

BY LUIS GRONDA
Staff Writer

Prior to this summer’s set of concerts at the Forest Hills Tennis Stadium, concert promoters and the West Side Tennis Club met with residents to discuss any potential concerns they may have about the shows this year.

Residents complained of many frustrations and problems last year’s Mumford and Sons show brought to the neighborhood, including overcrowding in the area during the event and after the show and concertgoers reportedly publicly urinating on the streets outside the stadium.

Concert organizers announced several changes to the way the shows will be organized at the facility this year. This includes building a permanent stage in the stadium instead of the temporary platform created for the one-off Mumford and Sons show last summer.

The capacity of the venue has been reduced by about 3,000 to 4,000 people, according to Mike Lupa, the president of Madison House Presents, the booking company in charge of bringing artists to venues such as the tennis stadium. The capacity will now be about 13,000 for a seated show and about 14,000 for a general admission show, he said.

Port-A-Potty temporary toilets will be brought to the venue for the shows this year as well.

Forest Hills residents were mixed on the company’s plans for the concerts this year.

Alex Tola, a web designer and marketer based on Austin Street and a Forest Hills Gardens resident, asked how the greater Forest Hills area will benefit from having the concerts at the stadium.

“I can’t tell you what torture it was that day, with that concert and me getting home back and forth,” he said. “What’s in it for us? Why can’t we get a discounted package to be part of the club if you’re going to put us through this every year?”

Aly Baiter, a 41-year-old resident who lives across the street from the stadium, said the facility was built for public events such as the U.S. Open and now the concerts are part of the appeal of living in Forest Hills. She added that some tweaking needed to be done, but she was receptive to the dialogue that the forum provided for the residents.

“I think that you’re willing to take suggestions back as an owner and a neighbor and you’ve really done well,” she said.

Lupa left open the possibility that the concerts will not continue at the stadium if the community is not receptive to the events.

“If the overall consensus is that Forest Hills, Queens and the neighborhood in general don’t want to have concerts, then my guess is that it’ll probably go away,” he said.

On the contrary, Lupa also said that if it is successful, it could lead to bigger name bands and artists performing at the stadium.

“If we have a successful, smooth summer this year, all of a sudden, what’s been a little bit of a push up the hill, all of a sudden we’re going to have no problems,” he said.

Reach Luis Gronda at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 127, lgronda@queenstribune.com, or @luisgronda.