The promoter behind such nationally known music festivals as Lollapalooza and Austin City Limits is proposing one for Portland’s Payson Park in July that would feature multiple performers over two days and could draw up to 20,000 people each day.
The proposal by C3 Presents, a division of concert giant Live Nation, has stoked debate among residents who fear such a large event would damage the park or disrupt the neighborhood and others who welcome the idea of a city park hosting a lively arts event. In 2012, the British folk-rock band Mumford & Sons headlined a daylong festival on the Eastern Promenade that attracted more than 15,000 fans.
I just think the park isn’t big enough for something like that and worry an event that big would be destructive, said Michael Landis, 57, an artist who lives near the park, which is between Baxter Boulevard and Ocean Avenue. Landis has participated in discussions of the proposal on social media. Secondly, I just don’t think big corporations should be using our parks to make money.
No formal proposal has yet been made to the city and no specific performers have been announced, said Andy Downs, director of the city’s Public Assembly Facilities Division. Representatives from C3 Presents first outlined their plans to city officials about three weeks ago and have since detailed it to residents. The company also met via Zoom last week with members of the volunteer group Friends of Payson Park and had a representative at a neighborhood meeting on the proposal on Monday at Ocean Avenue Elementary School. That meeting drew more than 100 people.
C3 Presents has told officials and residents they’d like to hold the event in Payson Park over two days in July, with multiple acts representing several genres of music on two stages, ending around 10 p.m. each day, Downs said. There would be off-site parking with shuttles to the park, and food trucks and other vendors. The promoter did not mention any specific acts that might play but said the July timing would enable booking well-known national acts that might be on tour in the Northeast around that time.
Downs said many details still need to be worked out, including exactly where the event’s two stages would be, and how road closures, noise and trash would be handled. If C3 Presents makes a formal application to hold the festival, it could be brought before the City Council for approval at its Nov. 21 meeting. The public would be invited to comment on the idea at that meeting, Downs said.
They’ve anticipated a lot of those challenges, so there will be a lot of work with city staff to get the details down, Downs said. We’ll work to get as much detail as we can in front of the public and the council.
The neighborhood meeting Monday was organized by District 4 City Councilor Andrew Zarro, who represents the district in which the park is located. Zarro said some people voiced concerns about traffic, waste and noise while others were generally supportive of the idea. He was glad that the meeting was civil and that people on opposite sides of the issue listened to each other’s points.
Zarro knows there are concerns that need to be addressed and that compromises will likely have to be reached, but he feels overall the event could be good for the city.
I think there’s a way we can do it right, addressing people’s concerns, said Zarro, who lives near the park. The last two years have been trying times and we (on the city council) are always responding and reacting to what’s happening. I think this is a unique opportunity to do something that makes people feel good.
Downs said he thought that Payson Park – which is 48 acres and includes playgrounds, playing fields, basketball courts and a well-known sledding hill – is likely big enough to hold what C3 Presents has in mind, depending on where the stages are put. The Mumford & Sons festival on the Eastern Promenade in 2012 did draw some complaints from people about trash and noise, but overall Downs said that event was a success.
C3 Presents confirmed the general outline of the event but didn’t provide details about which bands might be playing and why it’s proposing Payson Park as a venue for the festival.
We love Portland – its people, culture, and beauty, Sandee Fenton, the communications director for C3 Presents, said in an email Wednesday. We are working closely with neighbors around Payson Park and with the city of Portland to explore bringing a world-class music festival to Portland next summer. We are at the very beginning of that process and look forward to continuing conversations.