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WOODSTOCK EYES A HORSE TRACK, BUT IS IT TOO LATE?

Vernon Downs, a harness racing track and casino in central New York, is being eyed as the new home for Woodstock 50, but before a note is heard, promoter Michael Lang has a considerable number of hurdles to clear.

The racetrack, a four-hour ride from Manhattan near Utica, N.Y., was the initial home of Galaxy Communications’ K-Rockathon festivals that drew up to 35,000 fans in the late 1990s. Phish also played the track two nights in 1998.

Capacity issues were one reason the planned Watkins Glen site was derailed and we hear the Woodstock 50 team is pushing for an exception to get capacity upped to 50,000 for the three day fest slated for 8/16-18.

The Woodstock 50 team applied for a town permit, WKTV reported on Tuesday, but they have yet to have a promoter to run the show nor financing for the event.

Should they secure the location—Vernon Downs officials told WKTV they were one of five or six venues being looked at—the artists still have a right of approval over the venue as they were all booked to perform at the Watkins Glen race track.

One option that was broached was the New York Mets’ home in Queens, Citi Field, but management of many acts balked at having to accept restrictions related to a New York City play.

Lang will remind anyone that the original Woodstock was scheduled for Wallkill, N.Y., and Max Yasgur’s farm in Bethel was selected only a month before the three-day event.

In 2019, however, putting tickets on sale less than two months ahead of time is risky. Tickets will undoubtedly be pricey, and when they didn’t go on sale April 22 as planned, it has to believed that fans spent their money elsewhere. Mountain Jam, which moved to the original Woodstock site from Hunter Mountain last weekend, pitched itself as a celebration of Woodstock’s 50th , put tickets on sale in February and had about 35,000 fans attend the festival across four days.

Now, with a site 130 miles up the road from the 1969 Woodstock site and no significant local population, is there enough interest in celebrating this anniversary to have it make sense for financiers, bands and fans? Stay tuned.

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