San Francisco park officials have given Outside Lands organizers the go-ahead to host another ticketed concert series during an August weekend at Golden Gate Park next year.
Recreation and Park Commissioners on Thursday permitted Another Planet Entertainment to hold a smaller concert series the weekend after Outside Lands at the Golden Gate Park Polo Field. The Board of Supervisors will have to sign off on the plan later this summer before it kickstarts in 2024.
For the Department of Recreation and Parks, permit fees would rake in $1.4 million for a two-day event, or $2.1 million for a three-day event.
George Ridgley, manager of the department’s permits and reservations unit, said in a presentation that the department is facing both budget constraints and lessened general fund support. As the department looks for chances to increase its revenue to avoid cutting programs, he said that piggybacking off of the largely successful Outside Lands could both boost funds and limit the amount of setup and teardown time needed to put on large events like it.
Striking the right economic chord
In the past five years, Outside Lands has generated over $18 million for the department, and causes an annual ripple effect for San Francisco restaurants, local businesses and hotels, he said.
“We recognize that this would be a unique opportunity for us to benefit both our department and the city, and to use infrastructure that was already in place from the festival with a reduced footprint,” he said.
The proposed concert permit would run for three years, equipped with headliners, supporting acts, VIP viewing platforms, food and beverage. The event would be comparable to Outside Lands and use some of its equipment, but only with one single main stage, not seven stages, and attendance would be capped to 65,000 a day compared to Outside Lands’ 75,000.
Ridgley said the impact on the park and nearby residents would be “significantly less” than if they were to host this event at a different time with different organizers, as it would only be one load-in, load-out production and be put on by people with extensive experience on mitigating noise impacts.
“We recognize that this would be a unique opportunity for us to benefit both our department and the city, and to use infrastructure that was already in place from the festival with a reduced footprint.”George Ridgley, San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department
John F. Kennedy Drive would likely be closed from the Thursday prior and Monday after the concerts from Transverse to Chain of Lakes drives.
Director of Workforce and Economic Development Kate Sofis attended Thursday’s meeting to voice that the office strongly supports this initiative. She said the city’s parks, arts and culture is the “gleaming light of hope” for economic repair.
“When we look at the mayor’s economic roadmap for our greater downtown, a very large part of that is predicated on lifting up arts, entertainment, culture — our whole creative economy — as a lead in how we move the city forward,” she said.
“It’s exactly what we need in this moment in time,” she added.
Stay just a little bit longer
Representatives from various unions echoed their support as well during public comment, saying events like Outside Lands help create hundreds of strong union jobs in the city.
Bicyclists who said they use the polo fields as a safe place to ride their bikes were concerned about closing the fields for more time after Outside Lands, and that the event should be moved elsewhere.
Commissioners thanked opponents for sharing their viewpoint, but ultimately unanimously passed the permit.
“This is such a great opportunity for us to maximize efficiencies in terms of setup and break down,” said Commissioner Kat Anderson. “For just a few days extra more, we can provide a great cultural opportunity for a lot of people and have the extra benefit of some funds that we can spend for our residents.”