BANGOR, Maine — The international promoting company responsible for the successful Hollywood Slots Waterfront Concert Series wants to bring the attraction back next year and perhaps for many years to come.
City leaders, acknowledging the economic and cultural effects, said they would love to continue partnering with the company, Live Nation, to provide the unique venue and needed infrastructure.
Both sides met Tuesday to lay the groundwork for the 2011 concert schedule, and, although the contractual details were not discussed in public, they began testing the waters of a multiyear relationship.
Alex Gray, the local promoter working on behalf of Live Nation to set up the concert series, said the six events so far this year have lived up to every expectation.
“Few things bring traffic from the Portland area north, but this has,” he told councilors.
Bob Duteau, representing Live Nation, said the Bangor Waterfront has become almost a must-play venue in the music industry.
“I got a call from [country music superstar] Toby Keith’s agent saying, ‘Tell me about the waterfront,’” said Duteau, who works out of the promotion firm’s Boston office.
Councilors agreed that the 2010 concert series, which featured country stars Alan Jackson, Miranda Lambert and Tim McGraw, Southern rockers Lynyrd Skynyrd and the Charlie Daniels Band and singer-songwriter Jason Mraz, was a huge success.
Gray shared data with councilors that showed as many as 60 percent of concert attendees came from more than a half-hour away. About 5 percent came from out of state.
Each concert drew several thousand fans, topping out around 8,000 for five of the six shows so far.
“I applaud your willingness to take a chance on the Bangor Waterfront,” Councilor David Nealley said.
Added Councilor Pat Blanchette: “This is something people have been looking forward to, something they have cried out for.”
Although one event — a hard rock festival headlined by Godsmack on Sunday, Oct. 10 — remains this year, organizers and city officials already are looking forward to 2011.
Gray said he envisions as many as 15 shows beginning in the late spring and Duteau said he could begin negotiating dates soon.
City officials and concert representatives praised each other for the working relationship that has been established to date. Gray and Duteau said many of Bangor’s municipal department heads have jumped through hoops to ensure the success of the series. Similarly, city staff credited the promoters and organizers for keeping their promises and for learning quickly how to pull off big-time music showcases in Bangor.
However, the success of a long-term relationship between the city and Live Nation has many variables.
Through Saturday’s Miranda Lambert concert, Live Nation had paid the city more than $70,000 in fees, which includes $1 for every ticket sold and $0.25 for every ticket for turf maintenance. The city could consider renegotiating its fees for 2011 and beyond.
Gray and Duteau both said that ideally the concert series should have a permanent setting. The waterfront area is ideal, but the costs associated with renting a stage and tearing down and setting up certain infrastructure for each show is prohibitive.
Duteau said, in his opinion, the series would be most successful if the venue turned into a partially covered amphitheater similar to the Bank of America Pavilion in Boston or the Comcast Center, formerly the Tweeter Center and Great Woods, just south of Boston.
At the close of Tuesday’s meeting, councilors met in executive session with city staff to discuss negotiating a contract with Live Nation for the 2011 Hollywood Slots Waterfront Concert Series.
The two sides are likely to meet again soon to see whether an agreement can be reached for next year and beyond.