From The Hartford Courant:
“Love is A Wonderful Thing,” but Grammy-award winning artist Michael Bolton isn’t feeling it from the town.
Sagging ticket sales for his scheduled concert at Indian Ledge Park last Saturday led to the show being cancelled two weeks ago.
That angered many in town. But it’s not because they wanted to see him perform. It’s because, they say, the cancellation is costing the town money it can’t afford.
Jerome Goldstein, resident and local attorney, is one of them. “A lot of people are up in arms over what happened,” he said. “The money is just gone and there are so many other ways it could have been better spent.”
But wait a minute, said First Selectman Tim Herbst.
Yes, it’s costing the town $75,000 in cancellation fees, but that amount would have more than doubled if the show went on as planned Saturday night.
“It could have cost us anywhere from $150,000 to $170,000 with production, staging, lighting and other costs included,” he said.
And, besides, he said, town officials –including some members of the Town Council and Board of Finance who are now critical of the decision to cancel — were well aware of the risks in putting on a event, he said.
“You’re dealing with a lot of factors — weather, the artist,” he said. “Not every concert produces a revenue.”
So where is the money coming from?
Town Treasurer John Ponzio said it’s coming from profits of a 2010 Train concert. That amount, $76,000, was put into a special account and some of the money was used last year to pay a $27,000 cancellation fee, when Hurricane Irene forced the cancellation of that summer’s Indian Ledge concert with Sugar Ray, Lifehouse and Gin Blossoms.
The remaining $59,000 will be used to offset this year’s cancellation fee, he said.
Ponzio said about $60,000 was appropriated two months ago, when concerns were first raised about ticket sales, and the $20,000 to $21,000 balance will come from that money.
“We put aside that money in August, just in case,” he said. “We hoped ticket sales would pick up, but they didn’t.”
In fact, only about 700 to 1,000 tickets had been sold when the decision was made to pull the plug on the event, Herbst said. “We needed to sell from 4,000 to 5,000 to break even, with $40 being the average ticket cost,” he added.
Herbst said Bolton cancelled at the town’s urging. “You know, the town shouldn’t be in the concert business. It’s just too high-risk,” he said.
“If we do this again, it will be done by a third party,” he added.
So was choosing Bolton a bad idea? No, said Herbst, who added the recommendation to book him was made by a concert promoter.
“He’s a Grammy-award winning artist who sold out the Bushnell last year,” said Herbst.
But Goldstein, who said he goes to a lot of concerts, would disagree. He said he knew from the get-go that Bolton would not be a big draw. “Then I looked up his tour dates and found he had also cancelled in Ottawa,” he said.
That aside, Goldstein said he doesn’t fault Bolton for wanting to get paid.
“After all, he is a businessperson” Goldstein said.