The Forest Hills Tennis Stadium will host its first concert in more than 20 years tonight when Mumford & Sons plays the iconic venue.
The British folk rock group’s performance, which begins at 6 p.m., will be the first of 19 shows planned for the next few years at the stadium.
Michael Perlman, chairman of the Rego-Forest Preservation Council, said he thought the upcoming concerts at the stadium were preferential to an original plan by Cord Meyer Development to demolish the site and replace it with condos.
“Disney-esque condos would have torn the heart out of Forest Hills,” Perlman said. “Mixed-use creative revitalization will likely yield a greater long-term economic return. The stadium has potential for tennis matches, concerts, ice hockey, weddings, exhibits, school trip, charity events and art festivals.”
Perlman said more than 16,000 tickets were sold for the Mumford & Sons concert within an hour and that nearly $1.5 million has been spent to restore the tennis stadium since June.
The stadium has hosted a number of legendary performers from the 1950s through the 1980s, including The Beatles, Frank Sinatra, Bob Dylan, The Doors, Ella Fitzgerald, Diana Ross, The Monkees, Johnny Mathis, Barbara Streisand, Simon and Garfunkel, Donna Summer and Peter, Paul and Mary.
It also hosted tennis players such as Billie Jean King, Roger Federer, Martina Navratilova, Arthur Ashe and Althea Gibson.
It also made an appearance in Alfred Hitchcock’s “Strangers on a Train.”
The Rego-Forest Preservation Council launched a grassroots campaign in July 2010, calling for the preservation of the stadium, which the group argued could be used to boost tourism to Queens.
But not all Forest Hills Gardens residents are pleased with the stadium’s upcoming concerts. One reader, who did not want to be identified, said tonight’s concert was disrupting the community.
“We are being told that we will not be allowed in the park during the concert,” she wrote. “Furthermore, we will not be allowed out on the sidewalks or in the streets for the duration of the day. We will only be allowed to leave the neighborhood and return home to our apartments. We have every right to be there as we have been every day and will continue to be. We will not stand for this, so that an already overpriced tennis club can make more money.”