Event grounds silences critics for Ms. Twain

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Shania Twain performs for a large crowd at the Charlottetown Waterfront Saturday night. The concert was Twain's first in Atlantic Canada in 15 years.

Site passes test with glowing praise; additional mega-concerts a certainty

The first major test of the new Charlottetown Event Grounds passed the grade with glowing praise. An estimated 23,000 fans — plus another 1,000 or so invited guests — turned out to see Canadian country mega-star Shania Twain, Summerside’s Trinity Bradshaw and Montreal’s Corey Hart perform. There were no reports of drunken rowdiness, multi-arrests, muddy pits and massive lineups that plagued the Aerosmith concert in 2007, when just over 30,000 fans faced sloppy weather and a vastly overmatched infrastructure system at the CDP.

Saturday night’s country concert, the biggest event in the city since P.E.I.’s version of Woodstock, featured an energized crowd, good weather and much better facilities. Ms. Twain delivered a tour de force performance with her full Las Vegas production. Everyone went home happy by 10:30 p.m. — Ms. Twain, fans, police, city officials, restaurant and hotel/motel owners. Traffic was busy but with the bridge and bypass right there, exiting the city went smoothly, if not a little slowly. Especially happy was promoter Andre Hudon, who had high praise for the event grounds.

Mr. Hudon said the site was almost flawless. He might have gotten a little carried away as long lineups for refreshments and washrooms were an issue, anyone under 5’8’’ had trouble seeing over the heads in front, and the stage could certainly have been a little higher for better sightlines. A slight grading would have been an obvious construction priority when building the site, much like the location in Cavendish for the early July country hoedown.

The Twain concert will be remembered as the highlight of our 2014 Charlottetown Conference celebrations but it faced a lot of competition for the entertainment dollar on the weekend with the tall ships in town, national, Atlantic and provincial baseball and softball tournaments were being staged across the province, and the Celebration Zone was busy on the waterfront.

The crowd could have been slightly bigger but many off-Island fans stayed home because they couldn’t find a hotel room. The MV Confederation ferry was out of service at Wood Islands, causing huge headaches for Northumberland Ferries Ltd. and travellers.

The promoter says he wouldn’t hesitate about bringing more major concerts — such as reunion tours featuring Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin — to Charlottetown.

That sounds fine but it’s time to give taxpayers a break. The province shelled out $350,000 to help bring Aerosmith here and another $250,000 through P.E.I. 2014 Inc. to lure Ms. Twain from her Vegas eyrie.

The right act at the right time will draw a big crowd, and since Charlottetown motels and hotels, stores and restaurants are going to benefit, it’s time they help out with some of the financial costs.

Granted, a crowd that size means a lot of taxes remitted back to government coffers but a little more financial co-operation is certainly in order here.

Speaking of co-operation, the promoter got that in spades from the City of Charlottetown, Eastlink Centre and the Charlottetown Area Development Corporation. It’s what made everything happen like clockwork and all parties deserve a pat on the back. A happy Ms. Twain is a huge tourism boost for this province.

Large numbers of city residents sat outside to enjoy the show for free Saturday night. Front lawns and street fronts were bristling with fans.

There might have been 24,000 inside the event grounds but thousands more enjoyed the show at no charge.

Residents as far away as Jewell’s Country Market at the York Road intersection were tweeting that it was like being inside the events grounds itself.

Those gusty southwest winds, which Ms. Twain herself glowingly commented on, were certainly blowing the right direction for many city and area residents.

Organizations: Aerosmith, Northumberland Ferries, Pink Floyd Charlottetown Area Development

Geographic location: Charlottetown, Las Vegas, Montreal Cavendish Iceland Wood Islands Jewell Country Market York Road

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Recent comments

  • michael
    September 05, 2014 - 07:57

    Now David, not to put too fine a point on it, the barriers along Water Street and portable fencing around the venue are owned by the City and put up and taken down by City employees. The rental of the toilets are not done by the Promoter, and the policing require more people than on a regular Saturday night, as some have to be on or near the grounds, so overtime has to be paid for regular policing. All that is paid for by the taxpayers, either through the City, the PROVINCE and CADC. I would like to know what Shania was paid and what the Promoter ended up with. As a matter of fact, who takes the Gate money and distributes it------------- Do you know, David__

    • huh
      September 05, 2014 - 11:54

      Folks can argue numbers all they want. I still feel that for a province that relies so heavily on tourism, investments such as this are essential. For all the tourism infrastructure in place, and for all those who make their living in the tourism and the hospitality industry, you have to give people a reason to come here.

  • Absolute right
    September 05, 2014 - 05:11

    Your article is right on,,,, particularly about the site and facilities. The grading is a problem for seeing the stage. The other concern we had was not being able to see when leaving. Lights could have come on as there were many items left on the ground by concert goers to trip over, i.e. blankets, bags, etc. Getting in was over the top ridiculous. Grafton St should have been closed totally, this lining up 3 deep for blocks caused great delay and many missed the first act. Shania was fabulous. Spending $1M of rural development money in Charlottetown typical for this government!

  • Concert Goer
    September 04, 2014 - 19:44

    Site-great Views-not so good from grandstand Police-watching the show and did nothing Getting in- ticket takers were terrible Security-great Toilets-needed signs and a GPS Beer-terrible Not what I would expect from a company thats done concerts for as long as this lot.

  • Michael
    September 04, 2014 - 15:58

    While David try to educate us, why don't we just see the figures, and that should us doubters up. I dare say that all added in, this concert cost the taxpayers $ 1 mill. - Sure the HST came back, and sure there was taxes garnered from 'living cost' while people were here from away. But the hidden costs, (policing, set-up and clean-up etc.) that is 'covered' under other departments and agencies will never be known. Our deficit tells the over- all story of the business acumen of the Ghiz Government. As I said, let's see the honest to goodness figures, -most businesses would do that anyway to know if their directions are reasonably profitablee.

    • david
      September 05, 2014 - 01:48

      Site set up and clean up are part of the one million the promoter said it cost to put the show which they p[aid for. Policing costs are the same whether there is a show or not. The cops don't go home because it is quiet Saturday night. I doubt if you could like many other people handle the real numbers because they go against your beliefs. For many Islanders fiction is much more entertaining then facts.

  • david
    September 04, 2014 - 14:03

    This was great investment just like Tourism spending is. Most people who basically live of the taxpayers though can never understand just where tax dollars come from. They think their few thousand tax dollar pays for everything they get like educations and healthcare and welfare. Governments need to make more money because PEI taxpayers DO NOT pay enough taxes to pay for the things they have. Problem is most people either don't or don't want to understand this. This concert was great investment and hopefully there will be many more.

  • Herman
    September 04, 2014 - 09:59

    Let the concerts stand on their own, - you are absolutely right, the taxpayers should not be on the hook for this. Filling the restaurants and hotels is a never ending proposition as more and more are build all the time. There is no reason the taxpayers should sacrifice a decent standard of living so a segment of our society can make a profit. Let the tourist operators and hospitality sector pay their own advertising and promotions, --- and leave the taxpayers out of it. This has gone on long enough, but of course give the politicians/public servants a reason to exist, and therefore will be hard to kill. But let's try by voting differently in the next prov. election.

    • Jon
      September 04, 2014 - 11:11

      This was a great investment by the Province. 23,000 attendees x $100/ticket x 9% tax = $207,000 back to the province just in ticket sales. If each ticket holder spent just $20 more on drinks, meals and hotels, then the Province gets their money back. This is what pays for education, healthcare and helps out the poor, people. Lots of other things don't give any return, this one was a great investment.