Preston residents speak out on proposed music festival - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Preston residents speak out on proposed music festival

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A potential concert venue could bring thousands of people to the small town of Preston. (WFSB photo) A potential concert venue could bring thousands of people to the small town of Preston. (WFSB photo)
PRESTON, CT (WFSB) -

More than 25,000 concert goers could converge on the town of Preston for a massive concert series this summer, if a plan is approved.

The plan for the Preston Plains was pitched by the Mashantucket tribe and promoter Anschutz Entertainment Group out of Los Angeles.

The topic was discussed at a meeting on Monday evening.

One of the questions up for debate is whether or not the small town can handle massive crowds and the noise and traffic that comes with them.

Some said they're are worried about Woodstock-like problems.

"It could happen here, you never know," said Ken Zachem, Preston Board of Finance. "You could have 25,000 show up or you could have 50,000."

The Mashantucket tribe owns the 25-acre parcel in Preston.

There hasn't been an official proposal submitted; however, AEG promised to pay for security, traffic management and emergency response.

“I think that'll bring a lot of people to the area,” said Rena Dorr, who owns Rena’s Pizza in Preston.

She said business has slowed, which is why she said she supports a music festival in September at nearby Preston Plains, a 25-acre field owned by the Mashantucket Tribe.

“I think it'll be nice for the town; I think people can enjoy it,” Dorr said.

Many of Dorr’s neighbors who attended the meeting disagreed that it is a good idea, especially because 25,000 people could attend.

“It seems to me to be a very short amount of time to plan something this big when we don't currently have any of the resources that I think are necessary,” said Preston Fire Chief Thomas Casey.

He said he isn’t opposed to the plan, but feels it will be challenging to get everything ready in less than four months.

Joe Litvag, vice president with AEG Entertainment, which is the proposed operator of the event, said his company is one of the largest festival businesses in the world and their experience will make the plan work seamlessly.

“We've pretty much been in and through every situation, there's nothing new that anyone can throw at us but our goal is to work with the community and make it work for everybody,” Litvag said.

Eyewitness News learned earlier this month that landscapers have begin planting grass, something neighbors near the lot said hasn't happened in past years.

Zachem said it could be good for business. However, he questioned the potential strain on resources.

Some business owners feel the town needs it.

Town leaders said there is already a Sept. 17 concert series being planned at Foxwoods Resort Casino.

Casino management declined to comment when asked about its plans.

The town council will eventually decide if the proposal will move forward.

Foxwoods isn't the only casino with big plans in town.

Mohegan chairman Kevin Brown shed some light on their proposal for the old Norwich Hospital site during a breakfast on Monday morning.

"We think we've reached a point where we have a game changer," he said. "What we've established is a framework that will allow us to step off of and bring developers in and get them involved in what we think will be a world-class developing on the other side of the [Connecticut] river."

Brown said the effort has nothing to do with the tribes plans to open a third casino gaming facility in the state.

"This will be a non-gaming development that may have some entertainment capacity," he said. "But more importantly it's going to reach out and touch the entire area and probably the entire state and help bring jobs."

Brown said some of the things being looked at is an outdoor adventure park, possibly with a man-made ski slope, and business development.

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