The 50th anniversary staging of Woodstock has hit another major snag.
Watkins Glen International, where Woodstock 50 was to take place August 16th-18th, will no longer host the festival. According to a statement released by the venue on Monday, “Watkins Glen International terminated the site license for Woodstock pursuant to provisions of the contract. As such, WGI will not be hosting the Woodstock 50 Festival.”
Update: According to a newly released statement attributed to Woodstock principal Gregory Peck, “We are in discussions with another venue to host Woodstock 50 on August 16th—18th and look forward to sharing the new location when tickets go on sale in the coming weeks.”
Already Woodstock co-founder Michael Lang faced an uphill climb in staging the event as it was originally conceived. Back in April, the festival’s chief financier, Dentsu, ceased its involvement, citing health and safety concerns, disagreement over the site’s capacity, and other permitting issues. A lengthy legal battle ensued, and while Lang was ultimately successful in convincing a judge to allow the event proceed as planned, Denstu did not have to return the $17.8 million dollars it withdrew from the festival’s shared bank account prior to announcing its cancelation.
Last month, Lang secured a new financial backer in Oppenheimer & Co., an investment bank. However, several other issues remained unresolved.
According to court documents from his dispute with Dentsu (via Billboard), Lang repeatedly butted heads with Superfly, the company he hired to produce the festival, over the site’s capacity. Lang sought a capacity of 125,000 attendees, while Superfly believed 65,000 was a more realistic number, citing safety concerns. The reduced capacity altered Woodstock’s revenue models and led Dentsu to conclude that the festival was no longer financially viable. After Lang refused to alter talent budgets to accommodate the new revenue models, Dentsu end its backing of the event. Superfly also ended its involvement.
It’s unclear whether Lang has resolved the capacity questions or if he has acquired the necessary permits to stage a mass gathering event of its kind. It also remains to be seen whether artists previously booked to play the festival will honor their contracts.
“We’re not even going to have a discussion with Lang until we see that every permit needed for this event has been secured,” a talent agency head previously told Billboard. “I’d also like to hear how he plans to convince fans to buy tickets for an event that’s been already canceled.”
In response to today’s news, Schuyler County Administrator Tim O’Hearn told the Poughkeepsie Journal that Watkins Glen International’s decision “comes as a major disappointment to us in that we looked forward to hosting this iconic event in our community.”
“While today’s announcement is difficult to absorb, it is not completely unexpected, given the well-publicized delays related to this planned event. We commend Watkins Glen International for their actions, which we feel are in the overall best interest of the community,” O’Hearn added.
The announced lineup for Woodstock boasted many contemporary stars including JAY-Z, Miley Cyrus, Chance the Rapper, and Imagine Dragons alongside veteran artists like Robert Plant, Santana, David Crosby, John Fogerty, and Grateful Dead offshoot Dead and Company.
This is a developing story…