Forest Hills Stadium is upping its concert game this summer season with venue improvements and an impressive concert lineup.
The Queens stadium is now a year-round venue and, for the first time in its 95-year history, has added bathrooms with plumbing.
The improvements — including a new automat system that allows concertgoers to purchase hot food from vending machines the way workers did in the Art Deco era — were unveiled by the stadium in April along with a concert schedule that includes David Byrne, two concerts from The National and Maxwell's concert for social justice.
“We’ve been working on this since we started here,” said Mike Luba, partner in Madison House Presents, the concert promoter at the stadium since 2013. “Real bathrooms — it’s part of the quality of the experience.”
Luba said that Forest Hills Stadium has reached a crossroads with its renovations this year. “We knew the place was magic,” he said. “Initially, we just wanted to be good stewards for what it is. We just wanted it to be safe and sound good. But thanks to the unwavering focus of a lot of people, it’s good now.”
Artists say the magic has been preserved. “Our show last October at Forest Hills Stadium was one of our favorite shows in the history of the band.” The National's guitarist Aaron Dessner said in a statement. “The incredible legacy of the place and the fact that it still feels intimate even given its size, we started talking immediately about finding a way to come back for multiple nights with friends.”
With the once-crumbling infrastructure of the venue now replaced and reinforced, Luba said it was time to move to the next step. After Forest Hills Stadium wraps up its concert season this year, promoters plan to transform it into “Winter Wonderland,” which will include a skating rink inside the stadium surrounded by Christmas-tree and other holiday vendors. “We want to keep the place up and running year-round,” Luba said. “The ice skating rink will be for the community.”
This year’s other objective is to get more people to discover what has been built in Forest Hills. “Our real priority is having something great for Queens and Long Island," said Luba, a native of Albertson.
The Forest Hills Stadium schedule (so far):
JUNE 22 Dropkick Murphys & Flogging Molly
JULY 24 Arctic Monkeys
JULY 28 Boy George & Culture Club
AUG. 11 Maxwell with Fantasia, DVSN, Jazmine Sullivan and guests
AUG. 17 Cake & Ben Folds
AUG. 18 Russell Peters
SEPT. 8 Jamiroquai
SEPT. 12 Van Morrison & Willie Nelson
SEPT. 15 David Byrne
SEPT. 22 Portugal. The Man
SEPT. 29-30 The National
OCT. 6 The Infatuation presents EEEEEATSCON