I went with colleagues and friends to see the Belle and Sebastian concert at the Forest Hills Stadium last Friday night. It was a fantastic show performed in an almost sold out venue.
I had never seen a Belle and Sebastian concert before. Their fans are a fun – and appear to be an incredibly loyal – crowd. Everyone in my group had a great time.
I lived on Burns Street – on the first floor of 736 Burns Street – in Forest Hills Gardens for a few years several years ago. The stadium was pretty much abandoned and in need of extensive repairs during the years when I lived in the area. At that time, there was a lot of talk about razing the facility and turning the property into a condominium complex.
I moved away from the Gardens in the mid-2000s to work in Europe – spending time with clients in London and Paris – and to live and work in Fort Lauderdale, Florida and Provincetown, Massachusetts. Fast-forward to today and I’m back in Forest Hills – this time on 71st Avenue – and the Forest Hills Stadium appears to be thriving.
The Belle and Sebastian performance marked the kick-off of what is now the fifth year of summer concerts to be held at the stadium since renovations to the facility have occurred. The historic building – which in its day has hosted the infamous Billie Jean King and Bobbi Riggs ‘tennis match of the sexes,’ and performances from superstars such as The Beatles, Barbara Streisand and Frank Sinatra – looks great and was staffed with an incredible number of super friendly people.
I am always reminded of my days working at Hartford College for Women (HCW) whenever I spend time in Forest Hills Gardens. This is because the HCW campus is located in the West End of Hartford, Connecticut, a neighborhood that includes stately homes and mansions that were built around the time many of the homes in Forest Hills Gardens were built, and because Forest Hills Gardens and portions of the HCW campus were originally landscaped by the Olmsted brothers and Frederick Law Olmsted.
And then there’s Billie Jean King…I had the opportunity to meet Billie Jean King in person on the Hartford College for Women campus as part of a program my office coordinated with the Connecticut Forum’s American Women in Focus event. Today, Billie Jean King’s picture is featured throughout Forest Hills Stadium and in a very cool and relatively new street mural on a wall under the Forest Hills train station bridge on 71st Avenue, one of the main roads leading into Forest Hills Gardens. The images honor Billie Jean King’s tennis successes and her ties to the Forest Hills tennis center and stadium.
We had incredibly nice weather for the Belle and Sebastian concert. The weather matters given – and just like the main green on the Hartford College for Women campus where summer concerts were held – the Forest Hills Stadium is an outside, no roof venue.
Check out the Forest Hills Stadium performance schedule here. – Russ DeVeau