Keeping an independent music venue afloat is never easy, especially in a city like NYC, but amid the coronavirus pandemic, it's gotten harder than ever with venues trying to weather extended closures that started in mid-March and currently have no end in sight (here's how you can help support NYC venues and their staff at the moment). Bushwick DIY venue Shea Stadium, which closed the doors of its 20 Meadow St location back in 2017, has been attempting to make a comeback since, and they were on the verge of making a major announcement about a new space this spring... when coronavirus struck. "An offer was accepted last month for a 10-year lease at a new location," venue organizers write in a new update on their Kickstarter campaign. "This was in early March, and as we were about to go into contract NY declared a state of emergency, casting the foreseeable future into some serious doubt."
"With the vast degree of uncertainty surrounding just about everything these days," they continue, "especially in the live music/event zone, we could not in good conscience sign a lease and enter willingly into this venture knowing there would be no timetable for when we could begin working on our space, start the process of permits, or plan our first events all while continuing to pay rent. So where does that leave us now? We’re in the same boat as everyone else, which is to say we don't have any more information to share about WHEN this situation will turn around."
Read the full update below.
The DIY venue was, of course, named after the more famous Shea Stadium, which was home to The Mets from 1964 to 2008 and also played host to slightly bigger shows -- like The Beatles, The Clash, The Rolling Stones, and The Who -- over the years before it was torn down in 2009, the same year the Bushwick space opened. (Billy Joel played the last shows at Shea.) This same week comes the news (via Variety) that retired Yankee Alex Rodriguez and Bronx native Jennifer Lopez are looking to buy The Mets. (Haven't The Yankees hurt The Mets enough?) The couple, who are engaged, "have retained JPMorgan Chase to raise capital for a possible bid on" the team, sources told Variety. Hey A-Rod and J-Lo, if you’re reading this, maybe put some of your disposable income towards bringing back the DIY venue too??
Shea Stadium's Spring 2020 Kickstarter Update: April 23, 2020
Friends of Shea,
Hoping this message finds you well, and that you are all safe + healthy at home. We felt the anniversary of our Kickstarter was a good time to share the latest on Shea Stadium's re-opening.
The search for a new space has gone on longer than expected, and we’re extremely grateful to everyone who has stuck by Shea through it all. We've combed hundreds of listings, viewed dozens of spaces, suffered a lot of 'almosts' and have seen our fair share of outbids and outright rejections along the way. In a few cases, we were simply outbid by those with resources which we could not compete. Mostly, however, we've been faced with building owners’ refusals to budge on length of lease.
A large number of the spaces we’ve looked at continue to sit vacant as landlords see little to no incentive to rent on a long term agreement when commercial rents in NYC continue to rise year after year. We’ve promised a 'sustainable' Shea and it’s not in our best interest (or yours) to accept terms that would give us less than a 5-year lifespan. For this reason, we’ve felt many times that perhaps a new home is not in our future. However, the support that we've received from our community—to keep going until it happens, regardless of where, when, or how—is what has given us the strength to continue for as long as it takes.
We had hoped to make an exciting announcement this Spring. An offer was accepted last month for a 10-year lease at a new location in our old neighborhood. This was in early March, and as we were about to go into contract NY declared a state of emergency, casting the foreseeable future into some serious doubt.
With the vast degree of uncertainty surrounding just about everything these days, especially in the live music/event zone, we could not in good conscience sign a lease and enter willingly into this venture knowing there would be no timetable for when we could begin working on our space, start the process of permits, or plan our first events all while continuing to pay rent.
So where does that leave us now? We’re in the same boat as everyone else, which is to say we don't have any more information to share about WHEN this situation will turn around.
We know quarantine will not last forever. At some point, venues will reopen, shows will be had, spaces will be rented, and new local businesses will start up again. Shea fully intends to be part of this 'reawakening' — perhaps at the space we intended to lease, or perhaps new opportunities will present themselves.
In the interest of transparency, we'd like to also give a more concrete status update on the money that was raised. Aside from the refunds issued to those who have asked, the 5% fee paid to Kickstarter, and approximately $7500 paid in legal fees and fines from our last months at 20 Meadow St, the entirety of funds that were raised are still there — nothing has been spent, or otherwise recommitted to anything besides finding a new home for Shea. We'll continue to honor the faith you put in us by continuing the search. Like it’s done many times before, NYC will, once again, need to reinvent itself to survive when this is over. We want to be back on the front lines to rebuild whatever is lost to this year.
Until then, our focus remains on continuing to support those in our line of work who have been cut off from their livelihood and the thing they love most. This is an unprecedented struggle for all of us — musicians, artists, venue owners, promoters, booking agents, bartenders, door people, sound engineers, security guards, and everyone else who makes it possible to go out and spend an evening enjoying music + art somewhere that isn't your house. Please consider supporting these venues and their staff during this time.
We will continue providing updates as the situation progresses, but please don't hesitate to reach out to us if you have any other questions. In the meantime, keep an eye on your (snail) mailbox. Shea intends to fill all of its rewards to our supporters, regardless of what happens next. Send us your current quarantine addresses and shirt sizes if you haven't done so already!
Stay safe and much <3
Adam, Nora, Luke & the Shea Fam