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Canalside concerts will be free no more

The long-standing tradition of a free downtown concert series is over.

The Canalside Management Group will announce a new $5 general admission fee at a press conference on Thursday when the new season is introduced for what is now being dubbed "Canalside: Live!" Tickets for the entire 10-concert season will be available at a kiosk at Canalside during business hours and all 17 Consumers Beverages locations.

In 2016, the Canalside concerts joined other venues such as Darien Lake and Artpark, in offering a VIP ticket with a prime viewing location and other perks. In 2016, the VIP tickets were $55; they will be offered again in 2017 with prices to be announced.

At least one city official said he's not against the new $5 general admission fee.

"It might separate the wheat from the chaff,"  said Fillmore Council Member David A. Franczyk.

With a $5 fee, the concert is more likely to attract people wanting to listen to music and enjoy being with their friends rather than people coming to get drunk and start trouble, Franczyk said.

"It's quality control," he said. "If I want to raise hell, I'm probably not going to go to a place that charges $5."

[Related: Smiles at last year's T-Pain show at Canalside]

The Thursday concert series debuted as Thursday in the Park on July 2, 1987, in Lafayette Square with a performance by Big Wheelie & the Hubcaps. The name was later changed to Thursday in the Square and the series evolved from showcasing Buffalo-based and regional acts to bring in such big-name stars as Pat Benatar, the Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Ben Folds, Squeeze and Eric Burdon & the Animals.

When the series outgrew Lafayette Square, it was moved to the Central Wharf and then to its current spot at Canalside. Despite the change of locations and name, the Thursday concerts remained free for the past 30 years.

Look back at the lineup from the 2016 Canalside season:

Canalside announces this year's Thursday concert series lineup

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