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Forest Hills Stadium sets improvements and concert schedule

David Byrne and The National are among the headliners at the Queens venue, which is planning to operate year-round.

Forest Hills Stadium will operate year-round, through winter,

Forest Hills Stadium will operate year-round, through winter, when promoters plan to transform it into "Winter Wonderland." Photo Credit: Bruce Gilbert

Forest Hills Stadium plans to become a year-round venue and, for the first time in its 95-year history, install bathrooms with plumbing when the Queens stadium starts its season in June.

The improvements — including a new automat system that will allow concertgoers to purchase hot food from vending machines the way workers did in the Art Deco era — were unveiled by the stadium Monday along with a concert schedule that includes David Byrne, two concerts from The National and Maxwell's concert for social justice.

“We’ve been working on this since we started here,” said Mike Luba, partner in Madison House Presents, the concert promoter at the stadium since 2013. “Real bathrooms — it’s part of the quality of the experience.”

Luba said that Forest Hills Stadium has reached a crossroads with its renovations this year. “We knew the place was magic,” he said. “Initially, we just wanted to be good stewards for what it is. We just wanted it to be safe and sound good. But thanks to the unwavering focus of a lot of people, it’s good now.”

Artists say the magic has been preserved. “Our show last October at Forest Hills Stadium was one of our favorite shows in the history of the band,” The National's guitarist Aaron Dessner said in a statement. “The incredible legacy of the place and the fact that it still feels intimate even given its size, we started talking immediately about finding a way to come back for multiple nights with friends.”

With the once-crumbling infrastructure of the venue now replaced and reinforced, Luba said it was time to move to the next step. After Forest Hills Stadium wraps up its concert season this year, promoters plan to transform it into “Winter Wonderland,” which will include a skating rink inside the stadium surrounded by Christmas-tree and other holiday vendors. “We want to keep the place up and running year-round,” Luba said. “The ice skating rink will be for the community.”

This year’s other objective is to get more people to discover what has been built in Forest Hills. “It’s so easy to get to for Long Islanders,” said Luba, a native of Albertson. “Our real priority is having something great for Queens and Long Island.”

The Forest Hills Stadium schedule (so far)

JUNE 8 Belle & Sebastian

JUNE 9 Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats

JUNE 13 Robert Plant & The Sensational Space Shifters

JUNE 15 Alt-J

JUNE 17 Roger Daltrey performs The Who’s “Tommy”

JUNE 22 Dropkick Murphys & Flogging Molly

JULY 24 Arctic Monkeys

JULY 28 Boy George & Culture Club

AUG. 11 Black Summer Night For Social Justice featuring Maxwell

AUG. 17 Cake & Ben Folds

AUG. 18 Russell Peters

SEPT. 8 Jamiroquai

SEPT. 12 Van Morrison & Willie Nelson

SEPT. 15 David Byrne

SEPT. 22 Portugal. The Man

SEPT. 29-30 The National

OCT. 6 The Infatuation presents EEEEEATSCON

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