The American rock band Phish will attract hordes not only to Saratoga Performing Arts Center this weekend, but throughout downtown as well.
Local businesses, restaurants, hotels and campgrounds are preparing for the busy weekend ahead, which starts tonight with the first show in the band’s three-night stand.
“As soon as Phish announced their date back a couple months ago, I know that hotels were receiving inquiries and started booking and that has continued all the way right through the week,” said Todd Shimkus, president of the Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce. “This looks like it’s going to be an unbelievable weekend here in Saratoga County.”
For hotels and campgrounds, business is expected to be very good. Earlier this week, nearby lodgings were already fully or almost fully booked.
“I do know that hotel rooms are hard to come by for this coming weekend and folks tend to eat and shop near where they stay,” said Shimkus. “Any time you can create a situation where people are putting their heads in beds in the community, they’re also going to be eating there too.”
One Saratoga restaurant that plans to be extremely busy this weekend is PJ’s BAR-B-QSA, located on Kaydeross Avenue West. Located right off the ramp of Northway Exit 13N and the Route 9 entrance to SPAC, PJ’s is right in the path of travelers to the Phish concerts this weekend.
“[Phish] is another one of the wonderful things that comes to Saratoga,” said Carolyn Davis, owner of PJ’s BAR-B-QSA. “We are just grateful that we have this opportunity of being in a great location to take advantage of not just Phish concerts, but all of the concerts. We look forward to these events and being part of it. Saratoga is a great place to be because there is so much going on all the time. You have to be ready for this season and be ready to tackle it, enjoy it, and do your best at it.”
Along with booking hotel rooms and finding places to eat, visitors to the area this weekend might want to go shopping, too. One shop that is expecting an uptick in business this weekend because of the concerts is The Magic Moon, a metaphysical boutique in Saratoga Springs.
“I’m going into my 20th year of business,” said Veronica Walczak, owner of The Magic Moon. “I’m gearing up with merchandise for this crazy weekend that is coming up. I’m looking at a back room full of boxes.”
Concert producer Live Nation expects this to be one of the biggest weekends of the concert season at SPAC.
“Anytime you have an artist who is big enough to do three shows in a row is historic,” said John Huff, senior vice president of Live Nation’s Northeast region. “When [Phish] did three shows last year, they were the first artist to my knowledge to have played SPAC for three shows in one season. For them to come back and do it again the following year I think is more special because usually bands take a year off or two and if they don’t the business drops, and I think were going to [sell] as many tickets or maybe more than last year.”
According to Huff, Saturday’s show has the potential to sell out, with tonight’s show close behind in sales. If fans are still looking for tickets to a concert this weekend, Sunday’s show would give them their greatest shot because ticket sales for that day were running slightly behind the other two days. As of Thursday evening, lawn seating was still available for all three shows.
With heavy volumes of traffic expected this weekend on both Route 50 and Route 9 in Saratoga Springs, Live Nation and the Saratoga Springs Police Department urged fans who are coming from downtown to use Capital District Transportation Authority buses, rather than walking in the dark and potentially spilling into driving lanes.
“We hope that people use [the shuttle] because we noticed last year that people walked in from downtown and we hope that people will use the trolley service,” said Huff.
After the show, a special shuttle will travel between SPAC and Congress Park, operating every 15 minutes from 10:45 p.m. to midnight. Each ride will cost $1.50 in exact change or a swipe of a CDTA card. Those looking for a ride to SPAC from downtown before the concerts can use CDTA’s regular summer trolley service (Route #875).
For anyone who will be on either Route 50 or Route 9 after the shows, the Saratoga Springs Police Department will have some extra sets of eyes to make sure nothing gets out of hand.
“Our biggest concerns are people in the roadway,” said Lt. John Catone. “We kind of monitor it as it goes. If it gets to a point where it gets too out of control or it gets too busy we’ll call in some extra people.”