LOCKPORT – Mayor Michael W. Tucker said this week he anticipates an announcement about a new summer concert series “in a couple of months.”
In response to an audience question after his State of the City address Tuesday at a Rotary Club meeting, Tucker said the new series will cost the city nothing.
Later, he added that a $5 admission charge is likely, as compared with the free-admission shows offered for the past six years. The schedule is expected to include four to six shows, Tucker said.
The city paid for stage rental and police and fire overtime for the concerts promoted by Kathy Paradowski, with whom the city parted ways after last season. The total tab for 50 shows over six years was $684,414.
Tucker told the Rotarians, “We didn’t think it was right to be partying in the street while we were laying people off.”
The concerts thus were cut out of the city budget, along with 16 positions, as the city battled a financial crisis resulting from unexpected deficits that a state audit report blamed on inaccurate financial record-keeping, leading to budgets built on false fiscal assumptions.
Tucker reiterated at his speech that he thought the money spent was worth it in terms of economic development for the city.
The mayor said the new promoters, whom he would not identify, have never booked a concert series before, although he said one of them has experience with organizing a festival in Niagara County.
In December, Tucker said he anticipated a concert announcement in February. This week he said the delay has resulted from the new promoters’ search for a major corporate sponsor to help absorb their costs.
“It isn’t coming together as quickly as we would like,” Tucker said. Although there’s a chance there might not be any concerts, the mayor said, “I feel pretty good about it.”
The mayor said he didn’t think the delay would affect the promoters’ ability to sign bands. “That’s the least of their worries,” Tucker said.
The Paradowski-promoted series used Canadian beers as title sponsors: Molson for the first four years and Labatt for the last two.
The site for the new series may be the city-owned parking lot at Chestnut and Elm streets, where the 2013 shows were held. However, that parking lot is located opposite the construction site of the new twin-rink ice arena, scheduled to open this fall. Tucker said the construction could be “problematic.”
Previously, concerts were held in the “courtyard,” actually a parking lot, at Ulrich City Centre between Main and Walnut streets.
The city owns the courtyard, but permission would be needed from the owner of the surrounding commercial buildings, Sinatra & Co. Realty of the Town of Tonawanda, to return the concerts there. Tucker said he hasn’t contacted the company yet.