BANGOR, Maine — Waterfront Concerts has added a franchise.
The town of Scarborough, once a possible destination for Waterfront Concerts should the Bangor-based summer concert series decide to move, has now joined up to host shows.
Waterfront Concerts promoter Alex Gray confirmed Friday afternoon that his business has reached an agreement with owners of Scarborough Downs and town officials to hold as many as five concerts there this summer.
“Our success in Bangor has pushed us to grow and made expansion a necessary reality,” Gray said. “It’s a good play for both Bangor and southern Maine because it puts us in position to better and more consistently service the agents and provide a more reliable destination, which should lead to even more [shows] for us down the road.”
Gray said he met with Scarborough town councilors Wednesday night, when he received unanimous council approval to put on one to five shows.
“If there are conflicts or issues that make certain days unavailable on certain days in Bangor, we can put the shows on at Scarborough Downs,” Gray explained. “Scarborough has become available as a backup, so this positions us to have more flexibility.”
For instance, if an agent proposes a certain tour date, but that date is either already reserved for another show, or conflicts with other Bangor Waterfront events such as The American Folk Festival or the KahBang music festival, Scarborough could be used to host it.
The tentative list of performers and dates for Scarborough’s “Music at the Track” shows are Jason Mraz in late July, Miranda Lambert on Friday, July 27; the WCYY Oxxfest rock show on Friday, Aug. 10; Train, Matt Carney and Demi Lovato on Friday, Aug. 24 or Sunday, Aug. 26; and the Rockstar Energy Drink Uproar Tour on Saturday, Sept. 1.
Gray said the Scarborough Downs deal won’t take away from Bangor. He emphasized that it strengthens Bangor’s position among booking agents and promoters.
“The more of the market — meaning Maine — that we control, the better it makes things for Waterfront Concerts and Live Nation,” said Gray, referring to his business and the live entertainment company he works with to book acts. “One of our competitors tried to strike a deal with Scarborough to compete against us, so this helps us preclude developments like that while also maintaining and enhancing our presence in Maine.”
Last year, Scarborough Downs hosted its first major concert in years as Brad Paisley drew about 8,500 to the facility, which has a capacity of approximately 11,000 fans.
Gray said the secondary facility is also ideal to host music artists who tour regularly.
“A lot of agents whose groups have success and/or like it here [in Bangor] want them to keep playing here, but it doesn’t make sense to have the same groups play the same venues over and over,” he said. “So maybe we can host a band here one year and there the next.”
Tracy Willette, who oversees maintenance and infrastructure support for Waterfront Concerts as the director of the Bangor Parks and Recreation Department, said he has no concerns about the expansion.
“I don’t think it changes anything really and I certainly don’t see this as any sort of detriment,” said Willette.
Willette said he doesn’t anticipate the Scarborough deal being seen as a sign that Waterfront Concerts is looking for greener pastures.
“It shouldn’t be,” Willette said. “As you see, it seems to be getting stronger, which this latest move shows.”
Scarborough Downs officials are elated to be hosting more concerts.
“We are over the moon. Mr. Gray has a proven track record with Waterfront Concerts and we could not have had a better partnership,” said Susan Higgins, Scarborough Downs’ marketing director. “We used to have multiple concerts here in the 1970s and we’re absolutely thrilled to have them coming back.”
Higgins said last year’s Brad Paisley show went well with just “a few noise complaints.”
Scarborough Downs would hold concerts on days when no harness races are scheduled. Currently the track runs races at 4 p.m. Saturdays and 1 p.m. Sundays. It will add racing at 4 p.m. Fridays on April 20 and 4 p.m. Thursdays on June 7.