Jay-Z ‘Made In America’ Music Festival Coming to L.A.’s Grand Park

By Elizabeth Hsing-Huei Chou, City News Service

Mayor Eric Garcetti and other Los Angeles leaders took turns quoting lyrics by rapper Jay Z Wednesday as the music star joined them outside City Hall to announce a two-day music festival to be held at downtown’s Grand Park this Labor Day weekend.

One city councilman has expressed misgivings about the hassle that the “Made In America” festival could bring with 50,000 concert-goers expected to swarm the downtown park and surrounding streets. But Garcetti and L.A. County Supervisor Gloria Molina said the event will fill hotel rooms, a source of tax revenue, and stimulate the local economy.

“Well, L.A. has 99 problems but Jay Z and ‘Made in America’ ain’t one,” Molina said.

Garcetti was also enthusiastic. “On Labor Day weekend, we’re gonna celebrate our golden state of mind, right here in L.A., with a sellout crowd right here on the steps of City Hall,” the mayor said, putting a twist on a Jay Z song celebrating New York City.

“We are a world class city, we are the ‘City of Angels,’ and we throw a world class party,” Garcetti said.

While not much was offered in the way of a musical lineup and other details about the Aug. 30-31 music festival, the event is expected to take over Grand Park, which is adjacent to the Spring Street entrance of L.A. City Hall.

Noticeably absent at the announcement was Councilman Jose Huizar, who complained earlier this month that the music festival, which is to be held in his district, would draw 50,000 concert-goers to the area, include several beer gardens and require street closures around Grand Park lasting up to 10 days.

He said city staff should hold off on issuing permits until the council receives a report on “public safety concerns and any necessary cost implications” of the event.

The festival, which began in Philadelphia in 2012 and is coming to the west coast for the first time, will “inject millions of dollars into the Los Angeles economy,” as well as “showcase our city and shine a spotlight on Grand Park and downtown L.A.,” Garcetti said.

A simultaneous “Made In America” festival will take place in Philadelphia, where, according to Garcetti, the concert brought $10 million to the economy and boosted that city’s 60 percent hotel occupancy rate up to 90 percent.

Jay Z, whose real name is Shawn Carter, said two years ago he had a vision of putting together a “music festival that blurred those lines of genres, that all walks of life” would want to attend.

Past events have featured Queens of the Stone Age, Wiz Khalifa, Public Enemy, Deadmau5 and Jay Z’s wife Beyonce.

The 19-time Grammy-winning artist and former president of Def Jam Recordings added the concert would be at a public park, in the heart of the city, “not some far off place you can’t get to — no disrespect to any other festival.”

The Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, which occurred this past weekend and is set to continue this coming weekend, is more than a two-hour drive from Los Angeles.

“Look how beautiful this park is. It’s assessable to everyone. It’s inclusion, it’s not exclusive,” Jay Z said of the ticketed event, which is selling early bird tickets at $125 a person.

“Philadelphia had huge success and I’m sure we’ll have even more success in Los Angeles. We’re very proud to be here, ‘Made In America.’ We’re very excited,” he said.

Also at the news conference was Brian Perkins, a vice president at Budweiser, which is to be a sponsor festival, and Elise Buik, president of United Way of Greater Los Angeles, a nonprofit that creates programs to help people in poverty and will receive some of the concert proceeds.

The county-owned Grand Park is managed by the Music Center but must obtain street closure permits from the city, according to Councilman Huizar’s spokesman Rick Coca.

Coca said Tuesday that — according to officials in Garcetti’s office and event organizers — the number and duration of street closures has been reduced, but still, “more work is needed.”

He said downtown “residents and stakeholders” should have a chance to share their concerns so any “potential negative effects to the downtown community” can be addressed before the event.

Coca noted that the event is being held at a public park, and fellow city leaders should consider whether residents and others in the downtown community deserve something in return for the inconvenience.

Although talks with Garcetti’s office have been ‘positive,’ Coca said, Huizar is still concerned about outreach to the neighborhood, and the fact that the festival is a ‘ticketed event with an alcoholic beverage company as the main sponsor.’

“We have questions over whether that is the best use for Grand Park, the so-called ‘people’s park,’” Coca said in an email.

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April 17, 2014  Copyright © 2012 Eastern Group Publications, Inc.


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