a sign outside Edward Payson Park in Portland
A sign outside Edward Payson Park in Portland's Back Cove neighborhood. A Texas-based event production company is eyeing the park as a potential site for a massive music festival in July, 2023. (Portland Phoenix/Evan Edmonds)
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The Portland City Council is slated to vote on the proposed concert series for Payson Park at their Nov. 21 meeting.

The festival, a two-day event proposed for July 22-23, could bring as many as 20,000 people per day to the park overlooking Back Cove, organizers estimate. It is proposed by C3 Presents, the Texas-based concert promoters who put on large-scale events like the Austin City Limits festival and, since 2005, Lollapalooza.

During a workshop Monday night, Emmett Beliveau, chief operating officer for C3 Presents, said his organization has made a $100,000 commitment to the city’s Parks Conservancy for the first year of the festival, assuming it were to pass. That commitment is regardless of the success of the first year, which Beliveau said could likely be a financial loss. 

Of that $100,000, $75,000 would specifically go towards projects in Payson Park. After the first year, he said C3 would look to enter a different kind of financial partnership with the Parks Conservancy, offering a percentage of the revenue stream. 

Councilors were largely uncritical of the proposal. They asked questions about impacts to traffic and parking, as well as sound mitigation and impacts to local wildlife. In Austin, for example, the festival brings in 75,000 people per day, and no patron parking is allowed at the park. In Portland, the hope is that many patrons will walk or bike to the festival. But they have also worked with the city to identify 10,000 spots downtown — mostly in garages and flat surface lots — with the expectation of some kind of shuttle service or by working with METRO to provide additional trips.

Ethan Hipple, the director of parks, recreation and facilities management for the city, said there would be an impact to wildlife and the ecosystem around the park from an event this large. However, the areas currently eyed for the festival are the grassy lawn and existing paved roadways, so impacts to wildlife would be minimal.

Councilors did say they have started receiving emails from city residents both for and against the proposed festival. Councilor Mark Dion, of District 5, said the majority of emails he’s received are from residents who are “seriously concerned” about the festival.

“I come to this process with an open mind,” he said. “But that’s why I hope we expend energy on what is the purpose of a park? What does it say when we yield the space to a third-party economic interest?”

 

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