Wet weather produced a sour financial note for some Canalside concerts this summer, renewing talk of charging for the popular Thursday at Canalside shows.
But a Buffalo Place official said it is too early to decide on charging admission, noting that concession sales and other revenues were up in August, and with three shows remaining, revenues for the concert series could yet land in the black.
“We’re looking at finishing the season on a strong note. Afterward, we’ll take a look at what direction we’re going in,” said Michael Schmand, Buffalo Place’s executive director.
“No decision has been made, and this has been talked about before,” he said, referring to whether a nominal charge could be applied to Thursday at Canalside.
Rain fell on three of the four Thursday at Canalside shows and a Buffalo Place Rocks Canalside concert in June, and a July date was lost because of the Independence Day holiday.
Lower concession revenues, notably a drop in beer sales, resulted in $193,213 less in revenue than projected through July, according to Schmand.
At the same time, he said expenses were trimmed $113,210 by using a smaller stage and reducing the number of projection screens.
Still, the drop in the early-summer season led some at the Buffalo Place board meeting Wednesday to discuss the idea of charging for Canalside concerts, which have been free.
Board member Rocco Termini said charging is an idea that should be studied.
“You see it happening at Artpark, they’re charging, and we need to look at it. I really want to see what happens with our overall sales at the end of the year,” Termini said.
Artpark charges $10, or $5 for advance tickets, for its Tuesday and Wednesday concerts, and has claimed the move didn’t result in a drop-off in attendance. Buffalo Rocks the Harbor, once free, two years ago began charging $20 for tickets, $15 in advance.
Buffalo Place concerts were $55,000 in the black in 2012.
Schmand said this summer’s concerts, with an average attendance of 15,000, were responsible for bringing more people to downtown and the waterfront than any other events.
“I still believe it’s doing exactly what it was supposed to do. Part of our mission at Buffalo Place is to bring people downtown, and the concerts seem to have found a way to do that. Just look at the number of people who go down there, and the excitement that’s down there.”
But weather is always the one unpredictable factor.
“It’s the business we’re in. Lets wait until the season is over with,” he said, before judging how the summer concert season went.
The remaining concerts are Lotus, at today’s free show, and ticketed concerts Friday with Pat Benatar and opener Eric Burdon, and Saturday with Matthew Good.