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Gateway eyed for concerts on Saturdays

There's still a chance for some free Saturday night concerts in Gateway Park this summer.

The nonprofit Tonawandas Gateway Harbor Committee expects to decide in about a month whether it will put on four Saturday concerts, committee member Jim Mroz told North Tonawanda lawmakers this week.

The committee, which canceled last year's series due to a lack of sponsorship funding, still plans to put on Wednesday night concerts. But up in the air is whether the Saturday night concerts can be done, Mroz said.

If not, the committee will stick with Wednesday and Friday night shows.

The volunteer committee, whose members' average age is around 50, does not want to be the promoter of the big concerts because of the large amount of work that goes into them, Mroz said. Ideally, he said, a promoter should handle that work.

The committee is about to receive a new stage for all its concerts, thanks to a $100,000 state grant announced in 2009.

The larger stage, which Mroz said is ready to be shipped here, will save the committee money because it used to have to rent a stage for bigger shows.

For the Saturday shows to be national acts, Mroz said, significant sponsorship money would need to be committed. Can the committee get those commitments?

"Probably not," Mroz said.

Mayor Robert G. Ortt encouraged the committee to get through this year with at least two nights of shows. "The last thing we need is a harbor that has a great stage but doesn't have any shows," Ortt said. "That's the wrong way to go."

Ortt said he felt "blindsided" by the committee's decision last April to cancel last year's series.

If the committee, which has put on other concerts in Tonawanda and North Tonawanda since the early 2000s, decides it doesn't want to move forward with Saturday night concerts, the city would look to bring in a promoter who can bring in national touring acts.

That might not be possible for this year but would be for 2012, Ortt said.

"If you can find a promoter for Saturday shows, God bless you," Mroz said at Tuesday night's Council meeting. "That's a blessing we'll give you."

e-mail: abesecker@buffnews.com

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