Apr. 14, 2023 By Carlotta Mohamed
The Governors Ball Music Festival, one of the most anticipated summer concerts in New York City, recently announced its 2023 star lineup of performances and its new home in Flushing Meadows Corona Park.
The three-day event will take place from Friday, June 9, to Sunday, June 11, from 11:45 a.m. to 10 p.m. This year’s performers include Kendrick Lamar, Lizzo, Odessa and Lil Nas X, among others. There’s something for everyone at the festival covering genres such as Rock, Hip-Hop, R&B, folk and others.
“The event’s ethos is truly all NYC — we attract people from all over the city, country and the world. Over the past 11 years, over 1.3 million people have attended the Governors Ball. Annually, half the people come from in-state and out-of-state,” Tom Russell, co-founder of Founders Entertainment, said during a presentation with the Queens Borough Board Cabinet on April 3.
Over the years, the Governors Ball has been held at Governor’s Island and Randall’s Island. Following the pandemic, the festival was relocated to Citi Field for the past two years. However, according Russell, what was missing at the ballpark was greenspace.
“Music festivals and festivals in general are so much different when they’re surrounded by trees and shade, and just a beautiful setting,” Russell said. “We’re lucky to have been chosen by the Parks Department and the city to take place this year in the park.”
The new location combines the easy accessibility festival fans loved about Citi Field — multiple transportation options including the No. 7 train line and the LIRR — with an inviting green space with shady trees and grassy fields as the perfect setting for a weekend of great music, good times and amazing food.
With the move to the park comes a slew of community and economic benefits, Russell said.
“We also anticipate a lot of foot traffic throughout the park and immediate areas, which will be great for local restaurants, hotels and surrounding businesses. We work with multiple unions, a slew of different vendors, many of which are local.”
The festival is excited to be working with the famed Queens Night Market to bring a host of Night Market favorites to the 2023 festival as vendors, giving attendees a true taste of the rich cultural diversity and heritage of NYC and Queens.
Dunkin’ will be on hand so fans can stick with their daily routine at the festival and stop by for an iced or hot coffee, cold brew, espresso and more. Beyond multiple free water stations throughout the grounds, there will be plenty of options for ice cold drinks or libation. Cocktail fans will find something to love as well with a variety of great concoctions available.
According to Russell, a report by a Texas-based firm, AngelouEcnomics, showed that the music festival brought 507 full-time jobs, over $33 million in labor income, $5.4 million in state and local tax revenue, $14-plus million in restaurant revenue and $500-plus million in hotels, and $600-plus million in transit.
As giving back to the community is a huge part of what the Governors Ball is about, Russell said its annual ‘Gov Ball Gives Back’ Program supports colleges and organizations through fundraising and community service.
“Over the years, we’ve donated over $100,000 to local and national nonprofits. Those past beneficiaries include Answer to Call, EveryTown for Gun Safety, Planned Parenthood, and the Mayor’s Fund to advance NYC.” We always try to give back as much as we can financially,” Russell said.
The festival also runs a community service program where fans can work towards obtaining a free ticket to the event. In addition to contributions, financial and community service, nonprofits are also welcomed to promote their brand and cause at the event.
In regards to the community, Russell said they’re offering discounted tickets to all local residents who reside in ZIP codes 11368, 11355, 11375 and 11367, since these neighborhoods border the park where the festival will take place.
This year’s nonprofit partners are the Elmhurst Corona Resource Collaborative and Chhaya CDC. There will also be a fundraiser drive through festival partner, Propeller, in which people can donate for a chance to win a ticket to the event and can volunteer their time with the nonprofit.
A scholarship program has been launched with an organization called the Music Forward Initiative, which will award a local Queens student with a $10,000 scholarship. The School of Rock Queens and School of Rock Brooklyn will perform at the event on Friday, June 10, and Sunday, June 11.
During the Queens Borough Board meeting, Borough President Donovan Richards said that there needs to be more conversations regarding support for groups on the ground in communities, as well as job opportunities, and hiring of Minority-and Women-Owned Business Enterprises (MWBE).
In response to Richards’ concerns, Russell said the organization will hold discussions with community boards and others who are interested in participating in the festival. In regards to food vendors and restaurants, Russell said they’re also open to ideas to promote restaurants that are not within the festival grounds.
As Richards raised concerns about safety and security at the site, Jennifer Stiles, head of Festivals at Founders Entertainment, said that they have been working with city agencies to ensure that things operate smoothly at the park.
“We work closely with the NYPD and all local precincts boroughwide,” Stiles said. “We review our screening processes for guests, staff, artists and crew. We review prohibited items and allowed items, crowd control and management.”
There will be three stages on the festival grounds — the main stage presented by Verizon; the Go Puff Stage; and the Bacardi Stage. Everyone who enters the gates adjacent to the Unisphere will be screened by the NYPD.
When asked about public transportation to the event, specifically the LIRR City Ticket that costs $5 during off-peak hours, Stiles said they’re working with the MTA and LIRR to offer tickets and bring mobile units for those to buy cards from so there isn’t much congestion on the platforms. They’re also discussing increased train service to and from the festival site. The organization is also working with RideShare car services such as Uber and Lyft to help patrons know where they can be dropped off and picked up at the site.
While some people are excited about the festival’s relocation to Flushing Meadows Corona Park, others have questioned why there hasn’t been an explanation as to why the event was moved this year from the parkland adjacent to Citi Field.
“In previous years, when the music festival was held adjacent to Citi Field, it did not disturb or displace other park users from their use and enjoyment of the tree-lined, grassy areas further south in the park, This year, it will — and apparently without good reason,” said Robert LoScalzo, a Whitestone community advocate.
LoScalzo said Queens parks users deserve an explanation of the decision-making by which tree-lined, grassy parkland is being given over to Governors Ball this year, when there was no need to do so during two prior years when the same event was held adjacent to Citi Field.
QNS reached out to several civic leaders for a response but did not receive responses back before press time.