Freedom Hill’s Park Problem

Freedom Hill Amphitheatre in Sterling Heights, Mich., faces possible closure because of a budgetary crisis, but the owners of the shed pledge it will remain open.

Macomb County commissioners are trying to cut the red tape out of a $33-million budget deficit projected for next year, according to the Detroit Free Press. Freedom Hill County Park, which surrounds the amphitheatre, is reportedly a prime target for closure.

The county’s budget problems come largely from dwindling tax revenues from declining property values and a pension plan that allows for withdrawals at age 50, the Free Press said. Keeping the park open is not an option, commissioners said.

“The county board has already proven that it cannot properly run a park, let alone a concert venue,” Commissioner Leon Drolet told the paper. “It may be best to move on and close the park.”

Venue owner Hillside Productions disagreed.

“There has recently been a considerable amount of rhetoric in the media regarding the budgetary challenges which Macomb County is currently facing,” venue spokesman Hank Riberas told Pollstar. “It is Hillside’s position that a closure of the park would be a violation of the terms and conditions provided for in the lease agreement between Macomb County and Hillside Productions.

“Regardless of the rhetoric in the press, Hillside will continue to expect Macomb County to honor the terms and conditions provided for in the lease, as well as any options to extend the lease,” Riberas said.

Hillside Productions has had a highly contentious relationship with the city of Sterling Heights and Macomb County over the years and has been involved in lawsuits with each.