Moncton lost money on past mega-concerts
Halifax isn't the only Maritime city that has lost money on high-profile concerts as past Magnetic Hill shows have left Moncton taxpayers covering financial shortfalls, according to a city councillor.
Moncton and Halifax have been in competition in recent years as the two cities have been attempting to lure big-name concerts to the region. In many cases, public funds were put on the line to help land the concerts.
Halifax taxpayers learned this week that Wayne Anstey, the city's acting chief administrative officer, approved a $400,000 grant last July to ensure the Black Eyed Peas concert on the Halifax Common went ahead.
The promoter was threatening to cancel the Halifax concert. The company was also given $1.8 million in cash advances from the city.
Halifax finance staff and the regional council were not aware of either the advances or the grant.
Moncton is preparing to host U2 this summer and has had a string of major concerts in recent years at the Magnetic Hill outdoor venue.
Moncton Coun. Daniel Bourgeois said the city has also lost money on some of its concerts, including the Bon Jovi show in 2009.
But Bourgeois said the city has learned from past concerts and this time he believes taxpayers will not be left on the hook after the upcoming U2 concert.
"We would have the greatest risk because we would be in a position of losing money until we reached a certain number of concert-goers," Bourgeois said.
Bourgeois said the city has invested $5 million in the Magnetic Hill concert site, and will spend another $500,000 to accommodate the huge U2 stage.
But he said he hopes the city will make up to $200,000 from the summer concert.
Overall the city has netted somewhere between $500,000 and $1 million from the outdoor shows, according to the city councillor.
Along with Bon Jovi and U2, Moncton has attracted bands such as the Rolling Stones and AC/DC to the Magnetic Hill outdoor concert venue.
Ian Fowler, Moncton's general manager of tourism, who negotiates the concert deals for the city, said they haven't been afraid to let promoters walk away if they ask for too much money.
"We have to always negotiate these contracts with the vision. The worst-case scenario for the city of Moncton is break-even," Fowler said.
While Moncton is anticipating to make money after this summer's U2 concert, Fowler said local restaurants and hotels are often some of the biggest winners when the city attracts a high-profile concert.
As well, the provincial government reaps an average $1 million in sales tax for every large show that comes to Moncton.