In August the Forest Hills Tennis Stadium, part of the West Side Tennis Club, will have music reverberating off its walls once more.
It has been announced that for the first time in decades a concert will be held on the hallowed grounds where rock icons such as the Beatles, Jimi Hendrix — who was booed off stage when he played there — and Bob Dylan all strummed their guitars.
Mumford and Sons, the Grammy Award-winning folk rock group, will take to the clay courts on Aug. 28. The group was taken on a tour of the venue and fell in love with it, The New York Times reported
“I believe the West Side Tennis Club is taking the community wishes and concerns appropriately and that this development will be highly beneficial for the club,” Michael Perlman, a Forest Hills resident and chairman of the Rego-Forest Preservation Council, said.
The Mumford concert is somewhat of a pilot as the club is expecting an additional six performances from a variety of groups over the next three years. In the past, there have been members of the community and elected officials, including Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz (D-Forest Hills), who were strongly opposed to the WSTC hosting concerts. That opposition was mainly because many felt it would cause massive traffic and trash problems.
“I have faith in President Roland Meye and Tennis Director Bob Ingersole of the West Side Tennis Club,” Perlman said. “I feel that they are aware of the potential shortcomings and I believe they are taking a proactive approach in addressing any potential problems.”
In summer 2010, the fate of the WSTC was in jeopardy as plans to transform the landmark into condos were proposed. That same year, it was said that the stadium was structurally unsound. But the membership board overturned the condo proposal and a secondary engineering study found that the structure was sound thus saving the shoddy structure that once housed the US Open.
Pati de Wardener, a descendant of Kenneth Murchison, the architect of the Forest Hills Tennis Stadium and prominent public buildings designer, said that Murchison would have been delighted to hear music in the stadium once more.
“A lot of people don’t know this but he wrote music and he wrote plays so he would be so happy to hear this,” she said. “He’s looking down and saying to himself that this is the perfect use for his stadium. In this day and age there aren’t many open spaces where people can take in concerts, but I think using this space by putting a dog park or little cafes would be great. A place where people can go and think on the history of the neighborhood they live in.”
Currently, the stadium is a bit rundown but reportedly it will be ready before people fill the stands in two months.
Perlman said that the revenue gained from this and future concerts will go towards renovating the landmark.
“I believe some time down the line it will generate enough revenue and we can finish restoring the Forest Hills Tennis Stadium and have tennis matches and maybe ice hockey in the winter time, which will contribute to the diversity and feasibility of the building,” he said. “It will also increase the quantity of people who patronize the businesses on the nearby Austin Street, which will hopefully encourage new businesses to open up in place of some of the vacant spots.”