Kenney: Made in America will remain on the Parkway

Pat Loeb
July 23, 2018 - 4:35 pm
Jay-Z

Daniel DeSlover/imageSPACE

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Mayor Jim Kenney has reversed course on a plan to move the Made in America festival off of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway in 2019. 

Kenney met with representatives from ROC Nation Monday to discuss the fate of Jay-Z's Made in America festival, which has always been held on the Parkway. In a joint statement released by the mayor's office, both parties have agreed to continue to host the festival along the Parkway.

"I am greatly appreciative of everything that Made in America has done for the City of Philadelphia and I remain committed to its continued success," Kenney said in a statement. "The Made in America festival belongs in Philadelphia — the birthplace of our country — and I'm optimistic that we can turn an unfortunate misunderstanding into a positive outcome and even stronger event."

The festival has been a Labor Day tradition since 2012, growing from 40,000 attendees to 130,000, even as other large-scale events have been added to the Parkway. 

The city previously put out a request for bids for 2019's Made in America festival, which asked for proposals for a new location. 

City officials said residents in the neighborhood simply had festival fatigue, and a study from the Parkway Council said all the mega-events as well as set up and take down times, street closures, and security issues  take a toll on the Parkway's cultural institutions.

But the producers — Jay-Z's ROC Nation and Live Nation — were caught by surprise. Jay-Z delivered a blistering complaint to the mayor, saying the planned move showed "zero appreciation for what Made in America has built."

Kenney said Monday he is bowing to Jay-Z's expertise.

"He's better at these things than I am — planning festivals — that the Parkway is very important to this event," he added. "It's an important event for the city. Our hotels are very happy with it. Our tourism folks are happy with it."

ROC Nation officials were also adamant that Jay-Z would not stay in the city if the festival were moved.

"After a candid and constructive discussion with the Mayor, we are confident any miscommunication is corrected, and we are proactively addressing any concerns," added Chief Operating Officer of ROC Nation Desiree Perez in a statement. "We are committed to bringing the best experience possible to Philadelphians and all music lovers as well as the continuing prosperity of the city."

Kenney said he didn't want the festival to leave town altogether, and now ROC Nation is assuring it will stay for many years to come.