After being denied permits from two other venues, organizers of the Woodstock 50th anniversary festival are working with Howard County, Maryland, officials and Merriweather Post Pavilion to hold the event at the Columbia landmark in August.
Scott Peterson, a spokesman for county executive Calvin Ball, stopped short of saying it’s a done deal, but added that “the county is very supportive.”
Ball said in a news conference that he is excited to be able to have a conversation with the promoters and Merriweather about the opportunity.
I.M.P., which operates Merriweather, said organizers approached the company about bringing the troubled event to Maryland.
“The Woodstock folks are working on securing the artists now. If the bands come, we’ll produce the show. We’re looking forward to getting an update as soon as Woodstock 50 has one,” I.M.P. chairman Seth Hurwitz, who also owns the 9:30 Club and The Anthem in D.C., said in a statement.
“We’re still in talks and working out the details,” Ball said. “We’re going to make sure that it is a benefit to Howard County and the region.”
Some residents are excited with the possibility. Yvonne Stone said that it was a chance to bring out her hippie soul.
Robert Platter expressed concern about parking, saying there are now fewer places to park around the venue.
Gary and Marci Grabau live 10 minutes away from Merriweather, and they said that having Woodstock 50 there would be great for Columbia.
“We’ve had other big concerts, other big events,” Gary said.
Ball said the city sees some 3 million visitors a year, and it is accustomed to having concerts that have thousands of visitors at a time, such as JazzFest and the Virgin Festival.
He pointed to Columbia being recently named one of the safest cities in the U.S. and said, “We know how to help ensure that people are not only safe, but they feel safe.”
“Because of our investment in Merriweather Post Pavilion and the Symphony Woods (Park), we are able to absorb people coming in,” Ball said.
Merriweather Post Pavilion can hold about 32,000.
“We’re just supporting them. We want to make sure that we are strong partners, and when the Woodstock promoter signs the X and they work things out with Merriweather, we will be the venue to help ensure that things are successful.”
Woodstock 50 has been beset with a series of issues, including a falling out with backer Amplifi Live in April. In May, it announced that investment bank Oppenheimer & Co. had signed on as a financial adviser to pull the money together.
Organizers had submitted an application for Woodstock 50 to be held in the upstate New York town of Vernon, but town officials denied them a permit saying the application was submitted too late and was rife with problems, The Associated Press reported.
This was after the original venue, Watkins Glen International, also in New York, pulled out amid concerns about planning for up to 65,000 people coming to the largely rural area on short notice.
The tentative lineup includes Miley Cyrus, Chance the Rapper, Jay-Z, Halsey and Imagine Dragons.
WTOP’s Mike Murillo, who reported from Columbia, Maryland, Kate Ryan, and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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