WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. | The fate of the Woodstock 50 festival was cast further into doubt Monday afternoon when Watkins Glen International announced it’s not hosting the anniversary event.
Watkins Glen issued a two-sentence statement saying it had terminated the site license for the upstate New York festival “pursuant to provisions of the contract.”
A representative of the festival said a comment will be issued soon.
The festival scheduled Aug. 16-18 has faced a series of setbacks. Financial backer Amplifi Live announced April 29 it was canceling the festival and took back about $18 million, the remains of the $49 million it had put in. Production company Superfly soon dropped out after tangling with organizers over how many people the Watkins Glen auto racing site could accommodate.
Woodstock co-founder and 50th anniversary festival organizer Michael Lang filed a lawsuit against the investor and insisted the show was still on. A judge ruled May 16 that Amplifi, an arm of Japan-based marketing firm Dentsu, couldn’t singlehandedly call off the show but also doesn’t have to put the $18 million back into it while the dispute headed to arbitration. Legal skirmishes have continued, but Woodstock 50 has so far lost bids to regain the $18 million. The organizers have said investment bank Oppenheimer & Co. signed on as a financial adviser to pull money together.
Meanwhile, the lawsuit shed light on how much work lay ahead. Major improvements, including roads and a temporary water system, needed to be made to the racetrack site, according to court documents and testimony. And the total number of attendees — and, therefore, ticket sales — had been called into question, with organizers envisioning 150,000, but Superfly saying 65,000 was the “safe and appropriate capacity,” according to the documents.
The tentative lineup includes Jay-Z, Santana, Miley Cyrus, John Fogerty, Dead & Company and Imagine Dragons.