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Arts & Entertainment

Get ready, San Francisco: More huge concerts coming to Golden Gate Park

Revelers watch performers at Outside Lands 2023 Music and Arts Festival in Golden Gate Bridge Park in San Francisco on Aug. 13, 2023. | Source: Courtesy Alive Coverage

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors approved permits for more concerts in Golden Gate Park to be run by Outside Lands organizer Another Planet Entertainment Tuesday, clearing the way for new, separately branded, “headliner-driven” shows at the park’s Polo Fields the weekend after the music festival for at least the next three years. 

The board voted 10-1 to approve the concert permits, which proved controversial, with some west-side residents concerned about additional traffic impacts around the park, after the proposal was forwarded to the full board by the Budget and Finance Committee. 

“This is great news for San Francisco, which has long been a destination for music, festivals and entertainment,” said Mayor London Breed in a statement.

Supervisor Connie Chan, who represented the Richmond District, was the sole vote against the permits. She reiterated concerns she raised at the budget committee about adverse impacts to the neighborhood. 

“I do not plan to delay or derail this project and these benefits, but I do want to say on behalf of the Richmond district, I continue to have serious concerns that the department doesn’t really have a plan to address,” Chan said before the vote.

San Francisco’s Recreation and Park Department has projected the new concerts would generate up to $2.1 million in additional revenue for the city, plus peripheral economic benefits. At the budget committee, department policy director Sarah Madland presented them as “a key budget-balancing strategy for the department.” 

The concerts, each featuring a single headline act plus supporting acts, would use the existing stage footprint of the Polo Fields, which is one-third the size of Outside Lands. Unlike the Outside Lands festival, the smaller concerts would not be accompanied by the closure of Chain of Lakes Drive to vehicular traffic. 

But the idea of adding more concerts at Golden Gate Park was met with pushback from some residents of the city’s west-side neighborhoods. 

Those concerns were reflected in the fact that the permits were referred to the full board without recommendation. Richmond District Supervisor Connie Chan, who chairs the budget committee, is the most vocal opponent of the permits on the board. 

“It is not my intention to hold up this item today because of the benefits it will bring to the city budget,” Chan said at a Sept. 6 committee meeting but added that she still had “serious concerns” and that Rec and Parks had “yet to come up with a concrete plan to address the concerns of residents. … We still have a long ways to go.”

Supervisor Joel Engardio, who represents the Sunset District on the opposite side of Golden Gate Park, said he backed the plan for more concerts.

“I support the additional ticketed concerts following Outside Lands in Golden Gate Park because they will pay for the free concerts downtown, keep our parks from facing a deficit, and offer more community benefits for Sunset residents,” Engardio said in a statement.

The overall legislative package around the Polo Fields concerts includes several perks for the city, some of which were negotiated by Chan. 

Those include free outdoor concerts in Union Square and at Civic Center and Embarcadero Plazas to help reinvigorate those districts, free public transit for concert ticket holders, as well as further donations to the community benefit fund established by Outside Lands, which helps to fund local community groups.