What's keeping big entertainers out of Albany? - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

What's keeping big entertainers out of Albany?

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September 1, 2004

Albany - The Albany Civic Center's track record of putting on big shows is shaky to say the least. But each year, more than $1.1-million in taxpayers' money goes to run the Civic Center. Is that money well spent? And what's keeping big named entertainers from coming to Albany?

B-100 Radio Personality Kurt Baker knows how hard it is to get promoters to bring hot acts to Albany. He's tried but says the Civic Center isn't large enough to lure stars to our stage. "It's a business decision," said Baker. "Promoters are on commission, so what do you do? The acts are hot one day and not the next, so you have to make the most money when you can. So, are you going to come to Albany, or Tallahassee or Orlando, where the markets are bigger and you can get a bigger ticket prices."

The Civic Center seats more than 9,000 people, but entertainers want more money and the insurance costs have skyrocketed which means higher ticket prices. "The ticket prices for a concert in Atlanta, the citizens here might not be willing to pay that price," said Director Mattie Goddard.

The last big concert was more than 6 months ago. So, do other cities have the same problems drawing shows? Let's compare. The Macon, Columbus, and Albany Civic Centers seat about the same number of people. Columbus and Albany held nearly the same number of events last year - about 290. But, Macon hosted more artists bringing in $2.7-million in ticket sales more than a million more than Albany.

"Ticket sales are rising for family shows. But we know for a fact that we need to get more concerts in here for tickets sales will go up," said Goddard. Getting more concerts takes money. The Civic Center has a $1.1 million annual budget compared to more than $4-million budgets in Columbus and Macon. None made any money last year. "It is not so much the Civic Center making money, instead it's the economic impact the Civic Center has on the community," said Goddard.

Goddard says the Civic Center pumped about $4.4-million into the local economy last year. 20,000 more people attended events at the Civic Center last year than the year before.

Is it fair to compare Albany to Macon and Columbus? They're bigger. But, not Valdosta home to Wild Adventures where big concerts are held about every month.

"They're a private entity," said Civic Center Promotions Director, Tony Ford. "They can go ahead and put the dollars they want to risk up and bring in a show. But in our situation, we're talking about tax dollars. We can't put tax dollars are risk."

Risking tax dollars is a concern for most people, but back at B-100 those same people often call Kurt Baker asking why their favorite artists never perform in the Good Life City. Unless cost go down, they probably never will.

Posted at 5:39PM by kathryn.murchison@walb.com