The state’s budget crisis is hitting the New York State Fair.
State and fair officials plan to cut back the number of grandstand concerts from 11 to seven in 2009 to save money.
Instead, the fair will offer four more free concerts in Chevy Court. Typically, the entertainers playing at there are up-and-comers or entertainers whose greatest successes are behind them.
“The New York State Fair has been one of the few fair venues in the nation to offer eleven consecutive nights of national entertainment,” said state Agriculture Commissioner Patrick Hooker.
“With only ten percent of fairgoers attending these concerts and the state of the national economy, it makes sense to provide more high quality, free acts at Chevy Court, even if it means offering fewer nights of paid entertainment at the grandstand,” Hooker said.
Last year, the state budgeted $3.5 million for national entertainment acts — including Daughtry, Brooks & Dunn, the Goo Goo Dolls and The Jonas Brothers — in the 16,000-seat grandstand.
That will drop to $2.5 million next year, Hooker said, while the budget for free concerts will be increased from $450,000 to $750,000.
Hooker’s announcement came just weeks after he and Fair Director Dan O’Hara boasted the fair had sold a record 97,163 grandstand concert tickets in 2008. About 1 million people attend the fair each year.
“Since 2007, we have been looking for ways to streamline costs and reduce financial risks associated with the state fair’s concert series,” said O’Hara. “Escalating concert costs, and the possibilities of inclement weather, low concert attendance and insurance liabilities all threaten the financial well-being of the state fair enterprise as a whole.”
In 2008, the state paid Live Nation Worldwide, the world’s largest concert producer, $580,872 to book performers. Previously, the fair did its own booking and promotions. New York netted a quarter-million-dollar profit from the no-bid deal, Hooker said.
In September, New York advertised for bids to produce 11 concerts at the 2009 fair. Live Nation submitted the only bid for the 2009 contract, but the state rejected the bid as inadequate on Oct. 31.
New York issued a request for new bids Monday. The bids are due by Dec. 1. New York plans to award the contract Dec. 5.
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Categories: Schenectady County