Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Kanye West To Perform At Controversial NBA All-Star Flatiron Concert - City Refuses To Move Location

Flatiron Pedestrian Plaza (North) 23rd Street and Fifth Avenue. Crews erected a 60 foot wide stage overnight beginning at 12:oo am.  The NBA All-Star weekend promotional tie-in concert organized by Jay Z's Roc Nation is proceeding as planned despite the community's opposition to using the plaza for such a large and disruptive commercial event.    (Photos: Geoffrey Croft/NYC Park Advocates) Click on images to enlarge

The special event will take over the Pedestrian Plaza for at least 4 days between February 10th-14th and wreak havoc on Fifth Avenue and Broadway traffic, requiring many street closures and vehicle diversions including the shutting down traffic for hours,  all for a 45 minute concert.  

Questions still remain whether or not Madison Square Park will be closed during the event. 


By Geoffrey Croft

It seems communities don't  actually have a say over how their public spaces are used under this administration either.  

The autotune-aided rapper Kanye West will perform at the NBA All Star weekend promotional concert at the Flatiron Pedestrian Plaza (North) 23rd and Fifth Avenue despite community opposition 

Residents and businesses are upset over the use of the pedestrian plaza for such a large scale promotional event.  Up to 10,000 attendees are expected. 

The de blasio administration has refused to move the concert to Fr. Duffy Square in Times Square as it was originally proposed, a location that the Community Board called, "a far more appropriate location for an extremely large,  entertainment-focused commercial event. "

The Plazas were created by the Department of Transportation and designed for passive use. It was CB 5's understanding that these types of events would not be returning to the Plaza after a smaller NBA event upset residents and business owners. 

Flatiron Pedestrian Plaza (North) a few weeks ago. 

Early this morning crews began setting up for the event.

Fresh off another embarrassing episode at the Grammy awards on Sunday,  Kanye will play a free a 45 minute set on Thursday night Feb. 12th beginning at 8:00pm. The location is around the corner from Jay Z’s 40/40 sports bar and lounge.  Jay Z's  Roc Nation is producing the event.  

And for organizers it could be the first of many future events.   Billed as  Roc Nation's 1st Annual Roc City Classic,   the commercial production will feature entertainers and athletes including Roc Nation client  Kevin Durant of the Oklahoma City Thunder.  Rihanna is also rumored to appear. 

The Roc City Classic Concert for NBA All-Star Weekend NYC is being streamed live exclusively on JAY Z's Life+Times website. 

For weeks however the NBA has tried to distance itself insisting the event was not theirs. They have refused to go on the record about the event or answer questions including if they played a role in picking the location and or whether the NBA worked with city officials and Roc Nation to move it to another, less controversial location.  

The city has said that the NBA is working directly with the third-party vendor for the promotional event,  and that it will feature NBA talent.

At a meeting last month Community Board  5 blasted the proposed commercial festivities calling it, "grossly inappropriate for the space."

The board fired off a letter to Mayor de Blasio and called on the city to "put an end to out-of-scale commercial events in spaces that are far too small or otherwise inappropriate."

They said they were "perplexed about why an event of the size and nature of this example is being shoehorned into a space where it so clearly does not belong. "  

The board called Fr. Duffy Square in Times Square as it was originally proposed,"a far more appropriate location for an extremely large,  entertainment-focused commercial event. "

Last week Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer joined the fray and fired off a letter to DOT Commissioner Polly Trattenberg and t Cristin Burtis, the head of the Office of Citywide Event Coordination and Management.

"I feel that a gathering of this magnitude is not suited for the confines of a pedestrian Plaza,"  the BP expressed in a January 26  letter.  

The community can also expect massive traffic issues. 

Starting at 6:00 p.m. on Thursday, February 12th, Broadway and Fifth Avenues, between 23rd and 26th Streets will be closed to vehicular traffic by NYPD, for the assembly of the audience," according to a notice posted on Roc Nation's website.  

"Based on these closures, vehicular traffic will be impacted on West 24th and West 25th Streets, between 6th Avenue and Broadway. However, local traffic will be allowed on both of those blocks and access to parking garages, hotels, loading docks, and local deliveries will be maintained during the times of the concert. "

The massive production will require moving over 100 granite blocks and standing planters, a CitiBike docking station. Many of the items are expected to be relocated to the southern pedestrian plaza btw. 23 & 22nd Street rendering the southern plaza equally unusable for the four days required for the event.

Crews began setting up overnight and by early this morning a 60 foot wide stage had been erected on 23rd Street. The conclusion of load out is expected on Friday, February 13th at 7:00 p.m.   

Questions still remain whether or not Madison Square Park will be closed during the event. 

Several park employees have told park patrons that the park will be closed. Park Enforcement Patrol said today that they have been informed that the park will be closed but the dog run will remain open. 

"They don't want the public to be able to view the concert from the park, " a law enforcement source said.

Dogs welcome to the dog run during the event.

Last week city officials said plans were still being finalized but that there was "no plan to close the park at this time."

"The western sidewalks of Madison (Square Park)  will be closed to facilitate an emergency lane for authorized personnel – these areas are not being used for production or viewing purposes," a Parks Department spokesperson told A Walk In The Park last week.

The city could not provide how much money the Parks Department or the BID were receiving. 

The public can enter a chance to win tickets to the free event from Roc Nation or from select sponsors including a radio station.


Production complaints for residential or business inquiries regarding the event can reach out via email to flatironevent@rocnation.com. You can also call Elliot Winick,  the site coordinator, with any logistic  questions. He can be reached at (212) 663-­‐5564 (office) or (917) 885‐0844 (day of concert only).

Public Complaints to a city official should also be directed to:
Margaret Forgione, mforgione@dot.nyc.gov

Read More:

New York Daily News -  February 11, 2015 - By Jennifer Fermino    

NY Post - February 10, 2015  - By Rebecca Harshbarger  

NBA All-Star Promo Concert Featuring Mystery "A List" Performer 
Not Welcome At Flatiron Pedestrian Plaza
A Walk In The Park - January 20, 2015 - By Geoffrey Croft 

WCBS - February 10, 2015 

WABC - February 10, 2015 -  By Kemberly Richardson 

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