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Godsmack promoters move Aug. 20 concert to CanAm Speedway

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Frustrated by the city’s delay in approving use of the Alex T. Duffy Fairgrounds for a concert, Godsmack promoters announced Thursday that they are moving the show to the CanAm Speedway in LaFargeville.

Sebby Abbate, owner of AMP Entertainment, Watertown, said that with just over three weeks until the Aug. 20 concert, promoters and the heavy-metal band’s management needed assurances a venue would be available so that other logistical items, such as advertising, security, parking, restrooms and concessions, could be addressed.

“Time was of the essence,” he said. “We were on a timeline, so we had to make a decision.”

City officials had balked at giving the OK for use of the fairgrounds after learning of disorderly behavior at a Tragically Hip concert there in June. After that event, an Ogdensburg man allegedly took a Department of Public Works pickup truck while city crews were cleaning up from the show. The truck was recovered in the town of Pamelia and the man was charged with unauthorized use of a motor vehicle and driving while intoxicated.

City Council members left the decision whether to approve the show to City Manager Mary M. Corriveau, who met Monday with city staff to go over concerns, leading Mr. Abbate and Paul A. Simmons, a partner in AMP, to believe a decision was to be made that day. Mrs. Corriveau said Thursday that was never her intention, as she and city staff still wanted to get more information from an AMP-promoted Buckcherry heavy-metal concert Tuesday at the fairgrounds.

“The city tried to meet their expectations and to work through our concerns about safety and security,” she said.

Mrs. Corriveau said she, Department of Public Works Superintendent Eugene P. Hayes and John E. VanBrocklin, the Department of Parks and Recreation’s maintenance supervisor, attended the Buckcherry show and thought it “went well.” With firsthand information about the show, Mrs. Corriveau said, she scheduled a Thursday morning meeting with AMP to go over final recommendations for the Godsmack show.

Mr. Simmons said one of the requirements was that AMP provide 80 security personnel, double the number it had proposed and far more than the city had required at previous concerts. He also said it remained to be seen whether the City Council would approve a permit to sell beer when it meets Monday.

“They still didn’t have everything in place, everything they wanted,” Mr. Simmons said. “We couldn’t have walked out of there today with a decision. We just want to be treated the same as everyone else, and I don’t think we’ve been treated the same on this.”

Mrs. Corriveau said the city is still learning about everything required to host a concert and is conducting “after-action reviews” to determine what could have been done differently or better.

“We realized after The Tragically Hip that there were some things we needed to look at when trying to our make our decision,” she said. “Number one is that we deal with safety and security at our facilities. At the same time, we don’t want to put unreasonable restrictions on a promoter, either, so it’s been a balancing act.”

Mr. Simmons said he believes it is unfortunate that businesses around the fairgrounds will miss an opportunity to capitalize on an expected crowd of 5,000 people coming into the area, as well as the loss of concession sales at the fairgrounds for the Watertown Wizards, of which he is an owner, and beer vending sales benefiting the Jefferson County Agricultural Society, operator of the county fair.

Mr. Abbate said uncertainty over the concert’s venue has hindered ticket sales, with about 1,200 sold as of Thursday. The promoters planned to sell 5,000 tickets for the event at the fairgrounds and expect to sell an equal number for the CanAm Speedway, although Mr. Abbate said the track can accommodate as many as 10,000 people.

“CanAm is going to have the capability of handling the size, safety, organization and control for an event of this magnitude,” he said.

Tickets already sold for the fairgrounds concert will be honored at the speedway, and all ticket prices remain the same.

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