It’s rare to hear people complain about a free concert but some New York City residents are unveiling serious concerns that Kanye West’s free concert for the NBA All-Star Game will cause major delays and chaos in the city.
The free concert, which is being organized by Jay Z’s Roc Nation, is scheduled to take place on Thursday right across from the Flatiron Building and conveniently located next to Jay Z’s sports bar.
While some residents have expressed excitement over the hip hop star’s visit and free show, some claim that it’s not only disruptive but that it also sets a negative precedent for future events in the city.
“We’re concerned with the precedents that this sets,” Community Board 5’s Nick Athanail told WABC.
With roughly 10,000 people expected to rush the Broadway and East 23rd Street area for the show, the people who live and work there believe the size of the event doesn’t lend itself well to the location.
“We understand events like this make a lot of money for the city, but we think they need to be planned in a rational way,” Athanail added. “And we think public input is required for that.”
Set up for the show kicked off on Tuesday and things won’t be normal again until Thursday night around 7 p.m. if things go according to plan.
Some residents feel like the New York officials who green lighted the event are trying too hard to please celebrities and not extending the same luxuries to the everyday people who reside in the city.
“I think it’s ridiculous they would do it for him,” said New York City resident Michael Noonan to NBC New York of the road closures and blocked off areas. “If that’s the case, they should close down when protesters walk around.”
That’s exactly the point that Athanail has been trying to make.
He insists that such areas are supposed to be used for public efforts, not for major corporate events.
“These spaces were designed as public amenity,” he added. “They weren’t designed to serve corporate events like this.”
Officials announced that the people will still have access to their offices and residential buildings despite the temporary closures. They are also assuring residents that the free show has been planned carefully to avoid major chaos.
“The city is committed to ensuring safety at all events while minimizing traffic disruption and impact on local residents, and this event is no exception,” said Emil Lissauer, acting director of Citywide Events Coordination and Management, in a public statement.
Officials are also encouraging residents to overlook a little bit of inconvenience and consider the economic benefits of such events.
The NBA All-Star Weekend and all its events are expected to bring in roughly $200 million, the city’s marketing and tourism agency reported.
For that amount of economic gain, officials say, three days of traffic and a few hours of road closures shouldn’t be enough to pull the plug on one of the biggest shows of the week.