Promoters near deal for Bangor waterfront concerts in 2011

Alan Jackson greets the crowd of more than 8,000 fans at the start of his show Friday, Sept. 10, 2010 which was part of the Bangor Waterfront Concert Series. (Bangor Daily News/Bridget Brown)
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Alan Jackson greets the crowd of more than 8,000 fans at the start of his show Friday, Sept. 10, 2010 which was part of the Bangor Waterfront Concert Series. (Bangor Daily News/Bridget Brown)
Posted Oct. 25, 2010, at 10:47 p.m.

BANGOR, Maine — Councilors gave preliminary approval Monday to a contract extension that would keep the Hollywood Slots Waterfront Concert Series in Bangor for 2011, but they acknowledged that the more important goal is to ink a long-term deal.

City Solicitor Norman Heitmann presented to councilors a draft contract that looks a lot like the contract signed by New England Concerts LLC and Live Nation earlier this year. 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.

The contract also addresses a few minor concerns that grew out of the seven-concert 2010 series, which has been widely praised for bringing visitors and recognition to Bangor.

The first provision deals with the fencing that lined Main and Railroad streets for most of the summer. The 2011 contract would require New England Concerts to take down the fence between concerts to allow for better public access to the waterfront space.

Next year’s deal also would establish blackout dates to protect established events such as the American Folk Festival and the KahBang Festival and allows the possibility for Bass Park to serve as a ticket agent.

Heitmann and Parks and Recreation Director Tracy Willette will complete the contract with Alex Gray of New England Concerts and Bob Duteau of Live Nation before it goes back to the council next month for final approval.

Neither Gray nor Duteau attended Monday’s workshop with councilors, but both told the council last month that they were excited about the possibility of a 2011 concert series. Gray said he envisioned holding 12 to 15 shows on the Bangor Waterfront next year beginning in the spring and continuing into the fall.

Although Gray has declined to release ticket information, based on the city’s share of proceeds, 41,568 tickets were sold for the seven concerts in 2010, 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 gave the city about $100,000 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.

With the 2011 concert series all but locked up, councilors and city staff seemed more focused Monday on 2012 and beyond, although they recognized that some things would need to change.

Gray and Duteau have praised the waterfront locale but both also said the concert series ideally should have a permanent setting because of the prohibitive costs associated with renting a stage and tearing down and setting up equipment.

Duteau also said that, in his opinion, the series would be most successful if the venue were 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.

Whether the Bangor Waterfront could accommodate a covered pavilion remains to be seen.

Bass Park Director Mike Dyer said Monday the city would be wise to keep New England Concerts and Live Nation or another city might try to lure them away.

Councilor Hal Wheeler called the concert series a gift that materialized seemingly out of nowhere. He said the city should “keep sending candy and flowers” to ensure a long-term relationship.

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