Randall’s Island ruined and future festivals at risk

June 20, 2013


Update (Statement made by the great folks at Governors Ball):

The Governors Ball Music Festival is honored to call Randall’s Island Park home and is working closely with the New York City Department of Parks and the Randall’s Island Park Alliance to ensure it is in great condition for all New Yorkers to enjoy for the months and years to come. The Governors Ball aims to leave the Park in even better condition than it was before this year’s Festival, which was hit by record rains earlier this month.

Sodding work in the entire Harlem River event area will begin soon to the NYC Parks Department’s specifications, following preparation work that has been done over the past few weeks. That prep work also was delayed by additional rain this month. Work is being done to make the land more durable in the future, including the installation of a drain to combat over saturation of the field. Governors Ball is working with RIPA and Parks to upgrade some other areas in the event space that were not damaged in this event.


The future of music festivals in New York City hang in the balance from the results of mother nature clashing with Governors Ball Music Festival. If you didn’t hear, heavy rains left for muddy conditions at Randall’s Island throughout the weekend of the festival. Governors Ball couldn’t do much to combat the mud. The festival was beyond amazing when it comes to the music and production, but the mud made it a living nightmare to travel through. The damage is very severe at Randall’s Island where already one festival (Livingsocial’s Backyard Festival) has been cancelled. Electric Zoo is still scheduled to return to Randall’s Island in September.  The New York Parks Department is not happy at all from the aftermath of what 40,000 people did to the grounds.. We want to make this clear, the organizers of Governors Ball produced an amazing festival, and did their best to keep the festival rolling throughout the muddy conditions. Governors Ball will be working with the Parks Department  to restore the park and hopefully make it ready for future festivals.

Our friends at My Social List broke the news with their article below:

Everyone complained when Superfly canceled the final day of GoogaMooga, but their decision seems wise after boot-clad Kanye West fans and Tropical Storm Andrea formed a ruthless tag team at Governor’s Ball to transform Randall’s Island into Gloppy’s chocolate swamp from Candyland a couple weeks ago. The damage is considerable, and we’re now beginning to feel the consequences.

We caught word late yesterday from the folks at Living Social that July 13th’s Backyard Festival, which was set to feature performances from Aerosmith, Joan Jett and Yeasayer has been canceled due to extensive weather-related damage.

Due to extensive weather damage incurred during an event on June 7-9, the island has been deemed unsuitable for events.

Living Social is desperately trying to find another suitable venue to house the event, but it’s just a few weeks away so it seems like it’d be something of a stretch to move an event of such magnitude to another space. Tickets will be refunded, but questions remain. Is it sustainable to hold a giant music festival in a public space like Randall’s Island?

Lollapalooza’s organizers had to pay $350,000 for damage sustained to Grant Park last year, and that was only for a 45 minute rain storm. The damage inflicted on Randall’s Island is far more severe and extensive. The costs of repair could be astronomical, though we’re not privy to the deal organizers had in place with the city.

Electric Zoo is still scheduled to take place on the island at the end of August, but it remains to be seen if the grounds will have recovered in time to sustain another massive music festival in just a couple of months.

More on this as it develops.

– See more at: My Social List

This is the cancellation notice on LivingSocial’s Backyard festival:

The New York City Parks Department has determined that because of conditions of the event site at Randall’s Island Park, the LivingSocial Backyard Festival, scheduled for July 13, has been canceled. If there is any possibility to reschedule the festival, LivingSocial will let customers know.

All purchasers should have received a refund and confirmation email from LivingSocial on June 19. If you purchased a voucher to the event and have not been contacted by LivingSocial, please email[email protected].

GOOD NEWS FROM THE ELECTRIC ZOO TWITTER ACCOUNT : “Electric Zoo is proceeding as planned on @RandallsIsland Aug 30, 31 & Sept 1. We look forward to celebrating #EZOO5 with you.”

We appreciate the good folks at Governors Ball and we hope to see them back next year. They came a very long way to bring you arguably one of the best music festivals New York City has seen in a while, but the future of Randall’s Island seems in jeopardy.



Leave a comment below if you were at Governors Ball or you experienced muddy conditions at other music festivals.