The Bangor City Council voted Monday night to extend its contract with Waterfront Concerts through at least 2032, a deal that will require the company to pay an increasing share of its ticket sales as rent and also invest at least $7 million into the venue that it leases from the city over the next two years.
Waterfront Concerts now has a 10-year deal with the city that runs until 2027. The extension also gives both parties the opportunity to renew the contract for another 25 years after 2032.
About 60 people attended the meeting, and the approval drew a round of applause from the audience. A couple attendees spoke in favor of the project. Just two expressed some concerns.
The council voted 8-1 to approve the extension, with Councilor Gibran Graham casting the lone opposing vote.
Earlier in the night, councilors had discussed an allegation that Graham, the owner of local book store The Briar Patch, had asked the owner of Waterfront Concerts to help him arrange a book-signing event with Trevor Noah at his business next month, when the comedian and host of “The Daily Show” is scheduled to perform a standup routine on the Bangor waterfront.
That alleged request — which Graham denied making — could have put him in violation of city ethics rules, given that the owner, Alex Gray, was in the middle of negotiating the contract extension at the time. But councilors decided against sending the allegation to the city’s Board of Ethics for an investigation and did not ask Graham to recuse himself from the vote.
Graham did not say why he voted against the project.
Two other councilors who voted yes on Monday night, Chairperson Sarah Nichols and Councilor Laura Supica, both said last week that they had hesitations about supporting the extension because they want companies that the city contracts with to do a better job of educating their employees about preventing domestic violence.
They raised those concerns after the owner of Waterfront Concerts, Alex Gray, was charged with misdemeanor domestic violence assault in 2017, but the charge was eventually dismissed. His case prompted some calls for Bangor to cuts its ties with his company.
On Monday night, Nichols and Supica again raised some of those concerns but joined other councilors in praising the economic development that will come for the project.
Supica pointed to her own background working as a bartender at Nocturnem Draft Haus when expressing her support.
“As a server, I did really value the nights concerts were in town,” she said. “It’s very much for the service industry that I’m here today and that I will be voting yes.”
Councilor Gretchen Schaefer said that by holding concerts here and supporting people in the service industry, Waterfront Concerts could have the indirect effect of helping people obtain the means to leave abusive relationships.
Under the contract extension, Waterfront Concerts will continue to pay an increasing share of ticket proceeds to the city as rent. The company now pays the city $1.396 for every ticket sold, a rate that will rise to $1.572 by 2027. After that, the rate would rise every five years the city and Waterfront Concerts continue to do business.
Waterfront Concerts will also have to invest at least $7 million in the Bangor venue over the next two years. New amenities will include permanent bathrooms that the city could also use for its own purposes — and for which the city would chip in $300,000 — and new structures to prevent noise from spreading outside the venue, Gray has said.
While noise complaints have generally become less of an issue for the company in recent years, this month’s show featuring Lil Wayne and Blink 182 did lead to a fresh wave of complaints, according to city officials.