The city of Denver is continuing negotiations with two companies that want to put a multi-day music festival on Overland Park Golf Course starting next fall, with more information and an opportunity for community input scheduled for Tuesday night.
For your planning:
- The meeting will run from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, March 14, at the Overland Golf Course Clubhouse, 1801 South Huron Street.
- The first hour will be “open house” style, with a presentation to begin at 7 p.m. The organizers will present a rough map of the festival layout, including stage orientation, entrances and exits.
- There will be time at the end for public questions, probably including some comment from Councilman Jolon Clark.
What we know:
The festival would host between 30,000 and 60,000 people per day, for three days. AEG and Superfly, the organizers, want to sign a contract that would allow them to bring the festival back for five years running, according to city staff.
The organizers are thinking of putting between four and six stages on the golf course, with a focus that includes art, food, music and more, according to David Ehrlich of AEG. Camping would not be allowed. The city anticipates festival hours would be noon to 10 p.m. over a three-day weekend.
The city and the organizers both say they have not entered formal negotiations. However, Ehrlich said that the organizers likely would pay a fee in the “six figures,” to the city, and that additional parts of the deal could put more than $1 million in the city’s coffers.
If the idea seems to have general support from the neighborhoods, Clark’s office and the golf community, then the organizers will start talking with the rest of the City Council about it, Ehrlich said. From there, they’d seek final City Council approval sometime this summer.
The idea has been met with a lot of excitement, as well as some tough questions from neighbors and other concerned citizens.
Impact on the golf course:
One of the most frequent questions is about the potential impact that all those people would have on the manicured grounds of a golf course, according to Grace Lopez Ramirez, a community affairs liaison for the city.
Denver staff have been talking about the potential for damage with their counterparts in the San Francisco city government, she said. San Francisco hosts Outside Lands, another Superfly event, on land that includes its Polo Fields, which are used for athletic events from horse polo to soccer.
“I know that Colin Murphy, the superintendent over Overland Golf Course, was assured in his conversations with his counterpart in San Francisco that there are methods that can be utilized to protect the turf,” Ramirez said. Outside Lands uses fencing, protective mats and other strategies, she said.
Parking and transportation:
Also of concern: parking. The city’s response is that the event “will be promoted as a non-car festival and attendees must plan accordingly.”
The organizers would be required to provide a transportation plan that focuses on RTD, ride-sharing and bike-sharing. Evans Station offers light-rail service just a couple blocks southeast of the course.
The organizers would be required to provide a 24-hour towing hotline to remove improperly parked cars from the surrounding neighborhoods, and the festival would be laid out to keep people away from residences to the extent possible, according to the city.
“There’ll be no way for you to go to the festival and then go hang out in the neighborhood,” Ehrlich said, adding that key entrances to the neighborhoods would be staffed with Denver police. A parking permit system could further work to keep outsiders from parking locally, he said.
The festival would close the course for four to six weeks, the city reports. “Today’s live music audiences are attracted to open air and park-like festivals,” a city page states.
“The Overland Golf Course topography naturally allows for headliner and smaller stages within a park-like setting. Few options were large enough to support this layout.” It also notices that Overland is bordered “only on one side by a neighborhood.”
The city estimates about $60 million in “regional economic impact,” a naturally murky measure of how much visitors might spend. The organizers also would reimburse the city for lost golf revenue and pay to fix any damage to the course.
Denver is one of two cities being considered, according to the city. The other, based on our reporting, is Westminster. (Dun-dun-dunnnnn.)
What the neighborhoods are saying:
Overland Park Neighborhood Association won’t take an official stance on the proposal.
“There are people who feel passionately on both sides of the issue, and to pretend that the neighborhood as a whole feels one way or the other based off any vote would be both false and divisive. It could create a situation where some neighbors might feel they need to fight against their own neighborhood in order to be heard,” its board wrote to Denverite in an email.
Athmar Park Neighborhood Association isn’t taking an official stand, but will support whatever stance on the festival the Overland association chooses, according to president Ian Harwick.
The Athmar association’s concerns include traffic, parking, noise and damage to the course, Harwick wrote in an email. He hopes that some of the funding from the festival would be set aside for neighborhood purposes; that local businesses would be included as vendors; that AEG would donate instruments to local schools; and that AEG would allow bands to play both the festival and nearby Levitt Pavilion in the same year.
Scott Bolt, president of the Ruby Hill-Godsman Neighborhood Association, wrote that he was reserving comment at the moment, adding that he hoped things would be more clear after the meeting.
This story was updated with comments from neighborhood associations.