The Dave Matthews Band is making its annual summer stop at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center for two days this weekend, and with Dave Matthews come his fans — lots of them.
Both the Saturday and Sunday 7 p.m. performances, combined with other events, promise to make the weekend hectic for Saratoga Springs. The action starts Friday night with the Saratoga 150 Kick-Off Celebration at SPAC at 5:30 p.m. and the Battle of the Bands at the Spa Little Theater at 7 p.m.
Because of the increased activity, the Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce has decided to open its information booth on Broadway early, according to Todd Shimkus, president of the chamber. Shimkus predicts hotels, restaurants and retail stores will see an increase in profits this weekend because of Dave Matthews fans.
“We track advanced bookings at the hotels, and it looks great so far,” Shimkus said.
He expects an increase in last-minute travelers to the area, as well.
“The percentage of people who have made last-minute travel plans has increased due to mobile phones,” said Shimkus. “The increased use of these devices over the last few years for booking trips almost makes it hard to predict travel accommodations.”
Many Saratoga hotels and motels have already switched their signs from “vacancy” to “no vacancy” for the weekend. According to Gina Lynch, manager at the Robinhood Motel on Route 50, the motel began seeing an increase in reservations about five weeks ago. The Adirondack Inn on West Avenue is already booked for Saturday and has a limited number of rooms for Sunday.
With hotels beginning to fill, some fans may consider spending the night at local campgrounds. One campground popular with concertgoers is Lee’s Park on Route 9.
“That’s what we’re made for,” said Burt Mintline, manager at Lee’s. “We made concert camping event expansions with Dave Matthews Band fans in mind.”
When Lee’s designates a date as a concert camping event, it makes the campground an open-range setup. This allows campers to come in and set up where they please. Lee’s Park then brings in food and other vendors, giving the campground a “village” atmosphere, according to Mintline.
Unlike hotels and motels, which take reservations, slots at Lee’s Park are on a first-come, first-served basis. Once the campground can no longer fit any cars in its parking lots, campers have been known to take taxis and walk to the campground with their belongings. The facility is expecting 2,000 to 3,000 campers this weekend for the two-day event, and is even providing a shuttle bus for campers after the concert to bring them back to the campground.
“We’ve lined up with authorities for very safe services,” Mintline said. The state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation released a statement saying State Park Police officers and rangers from other parts of the state are being brought in to help out.
“The park police and state parks staff are also collaborating with the Saratoga Springs police, Saratoga County Sheriff’s Department and the New York State Police to manage the traffic and the event,” said Randy Simons, a spokesman for the state agency. “The Saratoga Springs Fire Department and SPAC medical staff have resources dedicated to the event, as well.”
John Huff, senior vice president for Live Nation, the company that promotes many of SPAC’s special events, including the Dave Matthews concerts, said those shows “are always two of our biggest and best shows of the season. We love having them, and it’s a great way to start the season with two potential sellout shows.”
Ticket sales at this point are in line with previous Dave Matthews Band shows. The concerts hadn’t sold out as of Wednesday, but tickets are becoming limited and Saturday’s show could sell out before the weekend.
This season marks the 30th and 31st performances for the band at SPAC.
“We’re really excited to have them. He has been coming here since 1994,” said Marcia White, president and executive director of SPAC. “This is a band that really loves coming here and performing here. They feel they can test out different things in their performances that they can’t at other venues.”
This year, SPAC will have one of its “best concert schedules ever,” White said.
“It’s a great way for us to show the public we’re going to have a great summer, safe summer,” White said.