Woodstock will not be at WGI
WATKINS GLEN--The on again, off again Woodstock 50 festival met what could be called an expected fate in Schuyler County, when Watkins Glen International announced it will not be hosting the anniversary event in August.
The track issued a two-sentence statement saying it had "terminated the site license for Woodstock pursuant to provisions of the contract. As such, WGI will not be hosting the Woodstock 50 Festival."
Shortly after the statement was released by the racetrack, event organizers said they were in talks with another venue.
"We are in discussions with another venue to host Woodstock 50 on Aug. 16-18 and look forward to sharing the new location when tickets go on sale in the coming weeks," said Gregory Peck, a managing member of organizers of Woodstock 50 LLC.
While earlier this spring details were scarce about the festival, court papers have shown the challenges that arose from the start.
A community meeting held in late March gave a number of leaders involved with the Woodstock planning a chance to detail the work that had already been invested in the festival. They promised tickets would be available on Earth Day, April 22. The Friday prior, April 19, stories began to be published talking about an expected ticket delay. Also, a permit application with the Department of Health showed an attendance number lower than expected at 75,000.
Financial backer Amplifi Live then announced in late April it was canceling the festival and took back about $18 million -- the remains of the $49 million it had put in. Production company Superfly soon dropped out after tangling with organizers over how many people the Watkins Glen site could accommodate.
Woodstock co-founder and 50th anniversary festival organizer Michael Lang filed a lawsuit against the investor and insisted the show was still on. A judge ruled May 16 that Amplifi, an arm of Japan-based marketing firm Dentsu, couldn't singlehandedly call off the show but also doesn't have to put the $18 million back into it while the dispute headed to arbitration.
Legal skirmishes have continued, but Woodstock 50 has so far lost bids to regain the $18 million. The organizers have said investment bank Oppenheimer & Co. signed on as a financial adviser to pull money together.
Meanwhile, the lawsuit shed light on how much work lay ahead. Major improvements, including roads and a temporary water system, needed to be made to the racetrack site, according to court documents and testimony. And the total number of attendees -- and, therefore, ticket sales -- had been called into question, with organizers envisioning 150,000, but Superfly saying 65,000 was the "safe and appropriate capacity," according to the documents.
The tentative lineup at Watkins Glen had included Jay-Z, Santana, Miley Cyrus, John Fogerty, Dead & Company and Imagine Dragons. The Bethel Woods Center for the Arts, the site of the original concert 50 years ago, has its own anniversary event Aug. 16-18 with performances by Ringo Starr, Fogerty and Santana.