Plattsburgh Officials Tried To Cancel Phish Clifford Ball The Day Before It Started

By Scott Bernstein Aug 17, 2016 2:12 pm PDT

We’ve shared our memories of the first day and second day of Phish‘s historic Clifford Ball festival, which took place at Plattsburgh Air Force Base in Plattsburgh, New York twenty years ago this week. The Plattsburgh Press Republican also shared an article on the 20th anniversary of Clifford Ball and within the article comes word officials tried to cancel the festival just before it started.

Mark Barie was the CEO of Plattsburgh Airbase Redevelopment Corporation, the company responsible for marketing the Air Force Base which was decommissioned the September prior to Clifford Ball. When asked what he was doing the day before the concerts started, Barie revealed “I was trying to figure out how to break the contract, I didn’t want them here, and I was looking for details and loopholes in the contract, but I couldn’t find any. They did the contract very well.”

Thankfully Phish had a good lawyer and the ground-breaking festival proceeded as planned. What was Barie’s issue? “We were either going to be a concert venue or an international airport, and I didn’t think we should be a concert venue,” he told the Press Republican. “I thought it should be used for an airport, and I am glad that we have one there now.” As Barie mentioned, the Air Force Base is now a civilian airport.

Barie went on to discuss how he tried to make the concerts a success once he realized there was no getting out of the Clifford Ball. He talked about his experience and how much extra work went into clean up. “We could not market the base with that stuff out there, so we had to spend a lot of time cleaning it all up, and we spent a lot more money on that than we had planned for,” Barie said. “I think we wound up taking more than 40 tons of garbage out of there altogether.”

Plattsburgh’s Mayor at the time, Claude Rabideau has fond memories of Clifford Ball. “I don’t recall anything negative happening,” he told the paper adding fans “were very well-behaved as a whole, just having fun.” Rabideau went on to say, “The organization for the event was incredible, from ticketing, food, medical care, crowd control and police security — white-helmeted, take-no-sass black shirts on big horses — all was put together in an extraordinary and professional way with barely a hiccup.”

Another interesting piece of info from the Plattsburgh Press Republican’s article is that the band tried to return to the Air Force Base. “They (Phish) immediately asked if they could come back the next year, and I didn’t want them to,” Barie said. “It was a close vote, but they (local officials) agreed with me that we should focus on marketing the property as an airport. But the concert actually was an exciting time for Plattsburgh.”

Head here for the full article.

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