:: January 2008 ::
By Brian F Johnson
Just before the holidays hit last month, AEG Live officials received notice from the Denver Zoo’s President and CEO Craig Piper, that the Zoo would be “unable to endorse the proposed music festival in City Park.”
The proposed Mile High Music and Arts Festival at City Park, according to AEG Live, was to be Denver’s answer to Austin City Limits; a multi-day, multi-stage event originally scheduled for mid-July.
The Zoo’s official reasoning for the opposition seems scattered over a few topics, but it is generally centered around noise concerns for the animals at the zoo. AEG officials had presented proposals to mitigate potentially negative impacts on the animals, even going so far as to bring in the Oklahoma City Zoo Music Series promoter, Howard Pollack, who has been promoting shows at that zoo without incident for 20 years.
Pollack’s concerts are regulated to limit volume to 95 decibels at the zoo’s property line. Acoustic engineers projeced less than 80 decibles for volumes at the Denver Zoo’s property line. (As a means of comparison, motorcycles are around 100 decibels and normal conversation falls between 60 and 70 decibels.)
Is the Denver Zoo not in a city? No matter how much you support organizations like PETA, you can’t begin to tell me that these animals don’t experience noises louder than this on a daily basis. It’s the nature of any city zoo.
What the Zoo has done is reprehensible. They’ve quashed a plan that would have brought in millions of dollars of much needed revenue to that neighborhood, not to mention the fact that it would have most likely resulted in more zoo visitors over time, as more people are exposed to the area. They have wasted the time of community members, council persons and AEG officials, who had more than 100 meetings on the subject of the festival. But worst of all, they’ve sent a message that Denver — or at least certain institutions in Denver — is still a podunk cow town unwilling to change and grow, and that’s sadder than any caged pachyderm going deaf.
It’s not like AEG Live is some first-time promoter. For God’s sake, they own and operate New Orleans Jazz Fest, and Coachella in California. I’m sure they could have and happily would have done anything the zoo asked to make the event better for them, but they weren’t even given the chance. They were, quite simply, jerked around and that is just not the way to do business, no matter who you are.
AEG officials have said that they will continue to search for another site to host the event and hopefully they can find one that is central to the city and its residents and will allow the festival to showcase the potential that both the city of Denver and the event have.
See you at the shows.