June 5, 2003, Thursday
An Alternative Concert Moves to an Alternative Site: Giants Stadium
By ELISSA GOOTMAN (NYT) 869 words
It was supposed to be an alternative outdoor extravaganza: a two-day concert where thousands of
people could pitch their tents on a freshly mowed field near the North Fork of Long Island and
enjoy art exhibits, yoga classes and the music of more than two dozen bands, including the
Beastie Boys and Radiohead.
But yesterday, after more than a week of legal and political
wrangling over a lack of permits and police protection, Suffolk County officials announced that
the Field Day Music Festival, scheduled to take place Saturday and Sunday on a former airfield
in the town of Riverhead, would not.
Yesterday evening, the concert promoters announced that Field Day would, in fact, go on,
just not as it had been envisioned. It will be a one-day event, on Saturday only.
There will be no camping. Not all the bands are likely to play. And it will be held not
beneath the stars, but in Giants Stadium, 70 miles away in the New Jersey Meadowlands.
About 35,000 fans were expected for each day of the concert, according to the organizer.
According to the Field Day Web site, the people who bought tickets for the Long Island concert
will be automatically reimbursed for their credit-card charges but must buy new tickets if they
want to attend the rescheduled concert. Tickets, available through Ticketmaster, went on sale
Rumors about the changed plans started circulating on Internet message boards
hours before the official announcement, setting off outrage and confusion among ticket-holders,
many of whom had planned to travel to New York from other states.
''Chances of me going to
Giants Stadium: 0,'' one fan wrote.
Another used multiple expletives to describe the changed
plans and the stadium, which he described as ''in the middle of a swamp.'' Some fans suggested
boycotting the stadium concert.
Others proposed that ticket-holders show up in Calverton,
the area in Riverhead where the concert was to be held, with musical instruments and a willingness
to create their own Field Day. ''Those of you who were planning on going to Calverton this weekend,
go as you originally planned!'' a Web site created by one fan read.
The Riverhead Town Board at
first approved the concert plans in February. At the time, board members hoped it would give the
town a much-needed economic and cultural boost. But about two weeks ago, the plans started
unraveling, even as two stages were being built and tickets were being sold.
the Suffolk County Health Department denied the promoter's application for a mass gathering permit,
saying there were not enough police officers to handle the crowds and the traffic. Suffolk County
refused to send its police, saying it had been approached too late in the process.
the state police confirmed that they could not provide officers, although the concert producer had
agreed to pay them.
At a news conference yesterday morning, Riverhead officials blamed the
county for blocking the concert.
''This is a sad day for Riverhead,'' said Edward Densieski, a
town councilman. ''Suffolk County has to step up to the plate. The disdain shown by the county to
Riverhead is obvious in every action they do.''
At a second news conference, before the concert
promoters announced the location change, the Suffolk police and health commissioners urged
ticket-holders not to come to Calverton, and blamed the town and promoters for poor planning.
Andrew Dreskin, the executive producer of Field Day, said that the concert had been impeccably
planned but that Suffolk County had been obstructionist. He saved his praise for New Jersey.
''We're thrilled to be in a state where they're keen to hold a world-class music concert,
and we're keen to bring an economic benefit to the area,'' he said.
''I don't know if this
is originally what I had envisioned, but we're ecstatic that Field Day will take place this weekend.
He said the original headliners -- the Beastie Boys and Radiohead -- would still play,
along with more than a dozen other acts, including Beck, Blur and Underworld.
But will fans
intent on a weekend-long outdoor festival near the Long Island Pine Barrens settle for the
New Jersey Meadowlands? Robert Brown, 33, a technology consultant from Stamford, Conn., said he
would not. ''The main attraction to me was the whole festival atmosphere,'' he said. ''The idea of
going to Giants Stadium doesn't really appeal.''
Deborah Hornstra, her husband and their two
teenage children had planned to travel from Princeton Junction, N.J., for the concert, in honor of
her coming 44th birthday. Instead of camping out, Ms. Hornstra had booked two rooms at an inn in the
Hamptons. They were nonrefundable, and so the family will spend the weekend at the beach.
''We wouldn't go to a big stadium show of that nature,'' Ms. Hornstra said. ''That just
wasn't what we had in mind.''
Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company