Labor Day concert on Parkway will require admission

Posted: May 16, 2012

Concert promoters and the city are still a long way from working out logistics for the Labor Day weekend Made in America music festival unveiled Monday, the first Parkway event ever to require paid admission.

But with audiences limited to 50,000 people each day, the festival will be just one-tenth of the estimated size of past Parkway mega-events, like the Live 8 concert to help African nations and Elton John's July Fourth appearance for AIDS relief, both in 2005.

"If you compare this to Wawa Welcome America, we have hundreds of thousands there for that event, so we have a bit of a track record there to guide all of the agencies - the police, L&I, the managing director's office, Public Property, and others - that would be participating in something like this," said Mayor Nutter's press secretary, Mark McDonald.

"Essentially," McDonald continued, "we're going to deliver the same kind of services on this smaller footprint, a fenced-in area with a stage at the base of the steps of the Art Museum."

Planning for the Sept. 1-2 event, the Saturday and Sunday of Labor Day weekend, has been going on for months without word leaking out until Nutter and Jay-Z scheduled Monday's announcement.

Live Nation, the production company, and Nutter's chief of staff, Everett A. Gillison, signed a letter of intent nearly three months ago, on Feb. 23, to pursue a contract for the concert. The letter, drafted by Gillison, suggested that the event could be the first in a series.

"The City of Philadelphia . . . is excited that Live Nation has selected Philadelphia as the site for this major outdoor concert, and we are even more delighted to know that Live Nation desires to return again next year and beyond," Gillison wrote.

No financial details were spelled out at Monday's news conference.

McDonald said the Police Department would provide traffic and crowd control outside the perimeter of the paid event and would be reimbursed for its costs, along with payments for trash removal and other services.

Stacey Witalec, a spokeswoman for the Liquor Control Board, said Live Nation had already paid $750 to obtain an off-premises catering license that will allow the sale and use of alcoholic beverages within a designated area. Budweiser is sponsoring the concert.

State liquor laws will prohibit listeners outside the paid admission area from carrying open containers of beer or other spirits, Witalec said - subject to policing by LCB enforcement agents, a unit of the State Police.

United Way agencies in greater Philadelphia, South Jersey, Lancaster County, and New York were identified as beneficiaries of the two-day festival, but none of those arrangements was spelled out Monday.

Meryl Levitz, president and CEO of the Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corp., said it was difficult to assess the economic impact but called it "a big event for Philadelphia," raising the city's profile both nationally and internationally.

"It gives people the realization that this is a big city, capable of big events," Levitz said, and over a traditionally slow weekend, with families winding down their summers and getting ready for school.

For complete coverage of the 2013 Budweiser MIA Festival, click here.


Contact Bob Warner at 215-854-5885 or warnerb@phillynews.com.

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