City OKs 2011 Bangor concert series

Posted Nov. 08, 2010, at 9:53 p.m.

BANGOR, Maine — City councilors on Monday unanimously approved a contract with a local promoter to bring the popular Hollywood Slots Waterfront Concert Series back for 2011.

Old Town native Alex Gray of Waterfront Concerts LLC, who is backed by the firm Live Nation, said he hopes next year’s version of the concert series is even more successful.

“A lot depends on the industry and the economic climate,” Gray said after the council’s vote. “There are factors that are out of our control.”

The contract is good from May 1, 2011, through Oct. 12, 2011, and allows the promoter access to the waterfront for an unspecified number of events. Gray has said he envisions 12 to 15 shows and he already has begun negotiating with potential acts, although nothing has been completed yet.

The financial aspects of the contract stay the same. One dollar for every ticket sold will go to the city for use of the waterfront. In addition, 25 cents per ticket will go into a fund for turf maintenance.

Although Gray has declined to release ticket information for the 2010 series, based on the city’s share of proceeds, 41,568 tickets were sold for the seven concerts, an average of almost 6,000 tickets per concert.

Ticket proceeds coupled with payments for municipal services such as police patrol and public works staff time provided the city with about $100,000 in revenue from the 2010 concert series. In addition, several area restaurateurs, hoteliers, retailers and business leaders have agreed that the concert series was a huge success.

The contract for 2011 addresses a few minor concerns that grew out of the 2010 series, which has been widely praised by councilors and others for bringing in visitors to see big-name music acts such as Tim McGraw, Alan Jackson, Jason Mraz and Godsmack.

First, the new contract requires the promoter to take down fencing lining Main and Railroad streets in between concerts to allow for better public access to the waterfront space. Gray said that taking down the fence creates more costs for him, but he understood the city’s need to ensure access.

Next year’s deal also establishes blackout dates to protect established events such as the American Folk Festival and the KahBang Festival.

Finally, the 2011 contract creates an escrow account in the amount of $10,000 paid by the promoter. If the city is not paid any money owed by a certain time, it can draw from that account.

The contract, drafted primarily by city solicitor Norman Heitmann, is quite detailed. The city previously was criticized for not having a firm contract with the American Folk Festival for many years.

Both sides still are negotiating a possible long-term deal to keep the concert series in Bangor for years to come, but nothing has been completed.

One major caveat to a long-term deal is finding a more permanent concert venue on the waterfront — preferably one that could add a partially covered pavilion, similar to the Bank of America Pavilion in Boston.

Gray and Bob Duteau, a regional representative for Live Nation, have praised the waterfront locale. They also have said the concert series ultimately needs a permanent setting because of the prohibitive costs associated with renting a stage and tearing it down and setting up equipment.

“With the success this year, we have a lot of communities pursuing us saying, ‘Come do this for us.’” Gray said. “But Bangor is my home, too. Ideally, we want to stay and put Bangor on the map as a destination.”

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