Mayor: Jay-Z festival will boost Philly's profile
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — The public cost of hosting an upcoming music festival featuring Jay-Z and Pearl Jam has not been fully calculated, but the mayor of Philadelphia said Tuesday that the event will pay significant economic dividends and boost the city's profile.
The concert represents "an opportunity to invest in ourselves" and will yield "short-, medium- and long-term benefits," Mayor Michael Nutter said at news conference.
"We believe that we have the capacity, the infrastructure and the knowledge to be able to do this, and do it well," Nutter said.
About 30 bands are playing the two-day "Made In America" show Saturday and Sunday along a tree-lined boulevard downtown. Officials expect about 50,000 people to attend each day.
As stage construction continues on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, some have questioned the use of public streets and resources for the private, ticketed concert. The city has hosted many large-scale performances at the same location, but all have been free.
Nutter said Tuesday that officials have a general idea of setup, cleanup and security costs but declined to give estimates. The burden will be shared with festival organizers, he said, and final figures will be disclosed in late September.
"Made In America" promoter Live Nation declined to comment.
Indirect costs include the inconvenience of road closures, which have already begun in neighborhoods adjacent to the parkway.
Residents in those areas regularly see crowds of up to 500,000 every July Fourth for a massive annual concert and fireworks show. While the numbers for Jay-Z are projected to be much smaller, the impact could still be bigger because the event will last several times longer than the Independence Day festivities, said Bruce Butler, president of the Fairmount Civic Association.
"Nobody really knows what's going to happen because it's the first time they've done this," Butler said. "If it's well-controlled, it shouldn't really affect us."
While a total of 100,000 paid concert-goers are expected, what's not clear is how many fans without tickets might loiter around the perimeter of site, hoping to hear a free song or catch a glimpse of a performance.
Nutter discouraged the idea, saying double-fencing will block views and muffle sound.
"It will be a complete waste of time, and people shouldn't do it," he said.
Gate-crashers could be charged with trespassing, criminal mischief or disorderly conduct, he added.
Labor Day weekend is traditionally slow in the city, but not this year. In addition to "Made In America," Bruce Springsteen is playing a pair of shows at Citizens Bank Park.
The Boss and the E Street Band bring their "Wrecking Ball" tour on Sunday and Monday to the city's baseball stadium, about five miles from the parkway festival. Mass transit officials plan to add service to accommodate the crowds.
"Made In America" is sponsored by Budweiser and will be held rain or shine. Proceeds benefit United Way organizations in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York City.
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