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Town of Riverhead to pay $1M for canceled rock show

Riverhead Town Hall is at 200 Howell Ave.

Riverhead Town Hall is at 200 Howell Ave. Credit: Carl Corry

It costs a lot of money to put on a rock festival. This week, Riverhead Town officials learned it will cost them $1 million not to put one on.

The money was paid to the promoters of the long-ago-canceled Field Day festival, which was to have taken place at town-owned Enterprise Park at Calverton in June 2003 before it was canceled a week before the show.

It was the closest Riverhead ever got to seeing local performances by Radiohead and the Beastie Boys.

The promoters, Field Day Llc and AEG Live Llc, had gotten permission for the concert from the town but not from Suffolk County. They had put up tents and outdoor seating, and also marked out camping areas for the crowd, expected to reach 50,000 over two days. But Suffolk refused to provide police, and Riverhead could not find the 200 officers needed to ensure safety and control traffic. The county said it did not have enough time to study the concert plans.

The promoters sued Riverhead Town and Riverhead Police Chief David Hegemiller in U.S. District Court, initially claiming a loss of about $3 million, a figure that eventually grew to more than $30 million when they added anticipated profits from the event.

On Tuesday night, the town board voted, 5-0, to approve a $1 million settlement in the lawsuit. Officials said the town would pay about $250,000 and its insurance would cover the rest.

Above: Riverhead Town Hall

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