Bill Graham's spirit presides over the Downtown Airpark. Graham made the best aspects of San Francisco's Summer of Love a staple of the concert scene beginning in the 1960s.
Howard Pollack is going for the same vibe on the Oklahoma River, where he's opening the city's newest outdoor music venue Thursday with a festival featuring the West Coast ska punk band Sublime with Rome.
Promoters of Oklahoma City's music scene and of the downtown renaissance see music under the stars as a key piece in development of the Oklahoma River corridor.
Concerts at the Downtown Airpark — with its close-ups of the downtown skyline at night — could be a catalyst for growth along the riverfront, providing a steppingstone between busy “anchor” destinations that bookend the seven-mile corridor.
Pollack, the veteran concert promoter who booked the Zoo Amphitheatre until last year, said the 80-acre Downtown Airpark “will help connect the dots between the east part of downtown and the west part of downtown.”
“Once the dots are connected, everything will grow,” he said.
Frenzy to finish
Pollack's crew was hard at work in this week's heat erecting a stage that backs up to the river. A large green entrance tent will offer shade and live music on a second stage; smaller white tents will have merchandise, misting stations to cool off and more shade.
Vendors lining the perimeter will sell food, including vegetarian options, cold drinks and beer. Fans can bring folding chairs and blankets — but no coolers — and spread out on the expansive Bermuda grass lawn, which was greening up after Wednesday's rain.
The Downtown Airpark can be used for concerts for up to three years under zoning provisions approved May 28 by the city council.
A group led by Kirk Humphreys bought the former airstrip for $7.2 million in 2006 with long-term plans for a mixed-use development.
Pollack has a lease with Humphreys Partners 2006 requiring that each side agree to renew the deal before a second concert season can go ahead.
Vacant a long time
Ward 6 City Councilwoman Meg Salyer noted in May that the Airpark — with the exception of a small police helicopter base — had been vacant a long time.