Reprinted from the Know, Denver Post 7-18-2017
By Dylan Owens and Jon Murray
On Tuesday, the City of Denver released the negotiated terms for allowing festival organizer Superfly Productions, the promoter behind Outside Lands and Bonnaroo, two of the country’s larger music events, to hold a large-scale music festival at Overland Park, a city-owned golf course in Denver’s Ruby Hill neighborhood.
City officials and Superfly had been in talks for months, and now the contract goes to the City Council — which could vote as soon as Monday.
If the contract passes the council vote, the festival will be officially sanctioned, allowing Superfly to go forward with the event for at least the next five years.
With its fate still up in the air, here’s what we do and don’t know about the pending festival.
Is the festival actually going to happen? It’s hard to say. Some Denver City Council members, including Jolon Clark — whose south Denver district includes Overland Park Golf Course — have viewed the idea favorably. Others were waiting to see the contract’s details, which they’ll now review in depth before Monday’s meeting.
Councilman Paul Kashmann is among those who have said they want to ensure there are enough protections for neighbors and sufficient plans required to get to attendees to the site, keep parking away from the adjacent neighborhoods and address other potential issues.
The council will let supporters and opponents sound off during a one-hour public hearing at its 5:30 p.m. meeting on July 24. It could then vote to approve the contract — or hold off for another week if council members want more time to digest the agreement.
How many years would the festival be in Denver? The contract stipulates a five-year deal (ending in 2022), but that could change if the first year doesn’t go smoothly or there are breaches of the terms. The contract would be reevaluated after the term ends.
When would the festival take place? From noon to 10 p.m. on the second or third weekend (Friday through Sunday) of September 2018.
How big will it be? Organizers envision 30,000 to 40,000 attendees each day in the first year, with the crowd growing after that. The contract caps attendance at 80,000 a day.
How will you get to the festival? According to Grace López Ramírez, the community liaison for Denver’s Office of Special Events, organizers are planning on promoting this as a no-driving festival. Superfly would provide a free bike valet and a shuttle system to the festival from satellite parking — perhaps in central Denver — as well as a ride-share kiosk. The organizer also is talking to the Regional Transportation District about transit access for festival-goers.
What bands will play the festival? The festival hasn’t been confirmed yet, so it’s too early to tell. Headlining acts for a festival of this size typically book shows a year out, according to Superfly co-founder Rick Farman, which would mean the organizers would likely know by September. But even then, for marketing purposes, they likely wouldn’t announce anything until closer to the festival’s date.
Farman said that the festival would look to book a wide range of acts that represented Denver’s tastes, referencing bands that appealed to older and younger audiences. The festival would also look to book acts from the local music scene, and mentioned the possibility of an all-local stage. For a point of reference, you could look to Lost Lake Festival, a brand new Superfly festival in Phoenix that would be similarly sized to the one in Denver. The Killers, Chance the Rapper, Major Lazer and ODESZA are headlining the festival’s first year.
How loud will the festival be? The festival would be required to comply with the city’s noise ordinance, sets limits for sound produced by amplifiers at events. There also will be a plan to monitor sound levels on the grounds and in a nearby neighborhood.
How many stages will there be? There would be four stages total: A main stage, two auxiliary music stages and a comedy stage. But organizers caution that the festival’s layout could change.
What will the festival be called? All of the festival’s marketing information is still forthcoming, including its name.
How much is this costing Superfly? Superfly would rent Overland Park golf course for $200,000, and pay $5,000 for every day they may need at the course over the 5-week period they’re allotted for set-up and tear-down. They’d also pay $90,000 to the Golf Enterprise Fund for landscaping work, and $25,000 to provide a golfer discount for displaced golfers to play at other city courses during the closure. Superfly would also pay for all of the city’s labor costs while it rents the park, such as rangers and maintenance staff. In exchange, the city would waive the expected expenses for police, fire and waste management, up to $200,000.
Will any of the money from ticket sales benefit Denver? The city of Denver will receive a seat tax of 10 percent of ticket sales. Two dollars of every ticket sold will go to the Golf Enterprise Fund, and an additional $1 of every ticket sold will go into a fund to benefit Overland Park Golf Course and its surrounding neighborhoods.
The golf course
How long would the Overland golf course be closed? The golf course will be closed for about 5 weeks. It will close two weeks prior to the festival to accommodate the load in, and reopen three weeks after the festival to give Superfly time to clean up the site.
What if the festival trashes the golf course? Superfly is expected to return Overland to the condition they found it, if not better. The city will hold a $50,000 damage deposit from Superfly that can be refunded if an independent firm judges the site to be up to standard. The festival organizer also must take out insurance and a $1.5 million bond.
How will the city protect the golf course? Superfly will have to fence off greens and tee boxes, along with natural areas on the course, during the event. Its plans call for the main stage to be on the driving range, with other stages on fairways.
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