BUFFALO, NY ( Business First ) by James Fink, Buffalo Business First Reporter
The decision by Buffalo Place Inc. to shift more of its summer concert series away from Lafayette Square to the Central Wharf site seems to have paid off.
In reviewing the final fiscal tally for this past summer's "Thursday at the Square" and "Buffalo Place Rocks the Harbor" concert series, downtown leaders said that the shows finished the year just slightly more than $40,000 in the black, almost a complete turnaround from last year when the shows ended in the red.
"We took some risks down there but we also learned a lot," said Michael Baritot, Buffalo Place Inc. treasurer. "Anytime you can finish between $30,000 and $40,000 to the good, it is a positive thing."
Outside of its special district fees, the concerts are the largest revenue generator for Buffalo Place Inc. -- the organization that maintains the downtown pedestrian mall and promotes events in the central business district.
In addition to the weekly free concerts in Lafayette Square, Buffalo Place has been running paid "Rocks the Harbor" shows on the city's waterfront since 1998. In 2008, the "Rocks the Harbor" shows moved to the Central Wharf site inside the Canalside footprint. The "Thursday at the Square" free concerts just marked their 25th season.
This year, Buffalo Place presented six ticketed shows at the Central Wharf starring the likes of Elvis Costello, the Tragically Hip, Alice Cooper and Great Big Sea.
Buffalo Place had four weeks of free "Thursday at the Square" concerts and six weeks of free Thursday night shows at the Central Wharf.
Combined, the 16 shows attracted more than 200,000 people.
Buffalo Place Inc. officials are studying whether to move all of the concerts to the Central Wharf or continue with the split schedule between the waterfront site and Lafayette Square.
According to financial statements released Thursday, the summer concerts generated $1,508,110 in revenues for Buffalo Place Inc., or $376,110 above the projected $1,132,000 revenue line in this year's budget.
However, expenses were $1,256,292 or $336,060 more than the $920,232 that had been budgeted.
Executive Director Michael Schmand attributed the higher-than-anticipated expenses to increased security costs and the opportunity to book more expensive acts like the Tragically Hip and Alice Cooper.
Also, Buffalo Place rented a larger, more elaborate stage and added video screens.