by Jeff Cianci on Dec 13, 2011
Music in the Park will not return next summer after welcoming concertgoers to downtown for 23 years.
After a 23 year run, the San Jose Downtown Association (SJDA) has announced an end of the Music in the Park free summer concert series.
Music in the Park has longtime been a part of San Jose culture, a gathering spot during the summer for kids and downtown employees. However, this summer saw an increase in younger audiences that spelled trouble for the concert series.
From hanging clouds of marijuana smoke, to some concertgoers wearing gang colors to a violent skirmish one evening after a concert, issues regarding who was attending Music in the Park had local business owners questioning its worth. Owners of local businesses and restaurants voiced complaints that the once-popular attraction was bringing a crowd that didn’t spend money downtown and was merely attending to be seen.
In an article on San Jose.com, Matt Rocca, owner of Original Joe’s, said the crowds attracted by the program started to be bad for business.
“I’m all for Music in the Park if it’s done the right way, but the way they’ve handled the last two years has been an absolute detriment on everyone’s business downtown,” Rocca said. “I hate to say that, because it used to bring people downtown for years. But if I have my two options, the existing Music in the Park or nothing, I’ll take nothing.”
The concert series had its best year in 2010, when 83,500 people attended—37 percent of which came from outside the city, creating $2.4 million in economic impact.
At a public board meeting Friday, the SJDA shared several alternatives to replace the popular summer concerts.
“We’re starting to work on new events that will attract more people to our city center, involve our member businesses more and help sustain our organization during difficult economic times,” said Art Bernstein, president of the 25-year-old business association.
Possible new programming from SJDA includes Her city, FUNday SUNday and Sounds of Summer, all looking to target a new audience of families and downtown residents.
HER city is being billed as an after-work event series that engages women in social activities built around food, beverages, networking and beauty services.
The Downtown Association is also looking to attract families back downtown with FUNday SUNday, a weekend series for families with music, dance and interactive activities.
Despite complaints, the summer concert series brought in more than $400,000 in annual revenue for the nonprofit association. Come summer, local businesses will find out if the alternatives are better than Music in the Park.
Read more from a related article on SanJose.com