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Late season concerts draw huge crowds at SPAC

Late season concerts draw huge crowds at SPAC

Downtown businesses like extended season
Late season concerts draw huge crowds at SPAC
Kajori Simmons, of Northport (left), and Erika Ingranham, of Baldwinsville, chat while tailgating in the SPAC Saturday.
Photographer: ERICA MILLER/GAZETTE PHOTOGRAPHER

When Kajori Simmons saw the date on the calender for Saturday night's Zac Brown Band concert at SPAC, she knew she would need to dress accordingly.

Simmons, a resident of the village of Northport, Suffolk County, wore a denim jacket, long sleeve shirt, leggings, and extra layer of everything for after the sun went down.

"I'm not going to lie, I really did think a lot about what I was going to wear, because I get really cold," she said. "I plan to double up on my leggings and throw on a really warm jacket and a hat before I go in, and warmer boots – I thought this all through – this is my pre-game outfit and then I'm going to look like a snow monster of layers, because I don't want to leave the concert early because I'm cold."

Pristine fall weather with sunshine and just below 50 degree temperatures after dusk lent an autumn festival feel to the crowd of thousands that packed into the Saratoga Performing Arts Center Saturday night for the Zac Brown Band concert. Fans of the band filled the lawn area of the venue all the way to the outskirts of the fences.

Tim Tobin, the marketing coordinator for Live Nation in Saratoga, said SPAC hosted 30 concerts this season between May 25 through Sept. 29, the most ever at the location.

"I think this is our latest show ever," Tobin said. "We had four shows in September this year, which has got to be close to the most ever."

"Everything depends on the touring schedules of the acts," Tobin said. "But after this year, we've had a great couple of weekends with Outlaw last weekend, Zac Brown this weekend and Ringo the weekend before. [Later concerts] are definitely something we think works in this market. Upstate New York has great falls, great autumns, I think September is a really great time for concerts."

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Wayne Evans, dressed Saturday night in a flannel shirt and jeans, agreed.

"I think it's awesome. Usually, the concerts, when you come it's very hot and sticky when you're in there with twenty-plus thousand people, to be in there now, on a cool night – it's fantastic," Evans said.

Evans was among many groups of tailgaters. He brought his own pregame entertainment, a game of "Cornhole", similar to horeshoes.

SPAC season-ticket holder Ken Hefner, of Saratoga Springs, brought food, and lots of it. Hefner said he's been organizing parties among 40 or so SPAC season ticket holders for five or six concerts a year.

"I think it's great that they've expanded the season. SPAC traditionally has been spring until Labor Day. The fall is nice, you can't beat a day like this," Hefner said.

"Our parties started with one table and about 10 of us, and we've been doing it for four years, and now we're probably four times as big with four tables," Hefner said. "We actually have people who come who aren't even going to the concert, they just come out to the parking lot and have a little bit of fun."

The late season concerts have also been good for downtown Saratoga Springs bars and restaurants.

At Gaffney's on Caroline Street, manager Alex Moore said he's seen a notable uptick in business the past few Saturdays, which he attributes in part to SPAC concerts.

"You see it in Saturday afternoon business," Moore said. "The Friday night before, you see a little bit of a bump when there's a concert. The Zac Brown Band is big huge draw for Saratoga, so that obviously brings a great turnout."

"Anytime there is a concert we will see an uptick because we are such a great live music venue that the people who love live music always end up here afterward or before," Moore said.

Courtney English, the general manager of the Saratoga City Tavern, said her business had 60 customers for lunch on Saturday, a big boost from a typical autumn Saturday.

"We're hoping for big sales tonight," English said. "We've got a band here. I absolutely wish they would extend the season more, tourism is business."
   

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