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Concert venues react to expanding capacity

Live Concert
Posted at 11:30 PM, Mar 18, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-18 23:30:13-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Don't expect packed summer concerts in 2021, but capacity is expanding.

Under new state guidance, outdoor performing arts venues that hold more than 2,500 people can open at 20% capacity starting April 1st. The guidance also applies to sports venues and is detailed here.

“The announcement today adds at least another thousand people,” said Batavia Downs President and CEO Henry Wojtaszek.

That means 2,000 fans will be allowed at each of Batavia Downs summer concerts. Masks and social distancing are required. The state said everyone must show a recent negative COVID-19 test, or proof that they're fully vaccinated.

“We’ve been in talks with a couple of companies who would come on site, have our tents set up, do the testing right here," Wojtaszek said. "Try to get them at the best price possible.”

Wojtaszek said he hopes the tests will costs around $20-$30.

"Rockin the Downs" has a nine concert lineup. Wojtaszek said he wants to book a few more acts.

Artpark's amphitheater also has a capacity of 2,000 people under the new guidelines. President Sonia Kozlova Clark said Thursday's announcement doesn't change their summer plans.

“Of course these guidelines are very helpful, and they open up a lot of possibilities for us, but financially they don’t make it much easier to really provide those national tours that we all enjoy, those large concerts, yet,” Kozlova Clark said.

Vice President of Concerts and Marketing Dave Wedekindt said this summer is an opportunity to discover new acts, that might not have filled a 10,000 seat amphitheater.

“Get more into the indie world, do more up and coming groups, bring some new sounds to Artpark,” Wedekindt said.

He said he's also talking to acts originally planned for last year about rescheduling, but artists can book out a year in advance. Kozlova Clark said the biggest thing right now is funding.

“As soon as additional stage relief efforts open up, we should be able to announce a full season because there’s a lot in the works,” Kozlova Clark said.

Batavia Downs said tickets will likely go on sale in May.

The state said venue capacity will continue to increase with more vaccinated New Yorkers and fewer COVID-19 cases.