SARATOGA, N.Y. (NEWS10) — People travel from all over the world to visit Saratoga Performing Arts Center shows and the Saratoga Racecourse. Todd Shimkus of the Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce says the area took a huge hit as travel and tourism slowed during the pandemic.
“Hotel revenue dropped about 70 percent and so people weren’t spending as much money in the area as well,” Shimkus admits.
Friday’s Live Nation show featuring Trey Anastasio of Phish is the first sign the dire times are coming to an end.
“It’s almost historic if you think about it. We are in the 2020s, right? So it’s a new decade, and yet nobody has heard live music in a large crowd in over 18 months,” Shimkus adds to NEWS10’s Mikhaela Singleton.
He says SPAC rented its venue to around 200 smaller gatherings and businesses throughout the pandemic to stay afloat. But nothing can beat being in the crowds again, especially now that vaccination rates are higher and fans can breathe a little easier, even in close quarters.
“You show up for this band that you love, but you also show up for this family that you have. That’s part of it is getting out and doing it with each other. When you live for live music, going without it is like going without air,” says one Phish fan setting up to preparty in the parking lot.
Unfortunately, Tuesday’s announcement lifting the majority of New York COVID restrictions thanks to a 70 percent statewide vaccination rate came too late for Friday’s performance.
“The concert tonight is still using pods, circles, and protected areas and social distancing. But going forward that won’t be the case,” Shimkus says.
He adds he’s even looking forward to the traditional inconveniences that pop up around big performances.
“I haven’t heard a single person complain about parking downtown in 18 months. I cannot wait to get my first complaint. That will tell me that we’ve recovered,” he laughs.
SPAC also hosted its annual public meeting Thursday where they announced the rest of the shows you can expect the rest of 2021. They include:
- Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center: June 13 – August 29 (At Pitney Meadows Community Farm)
- New York City Ballet: On and Off Stage: July 14 – 17
- Opera Saratoga | Man of La Mancha: July 8-10
- The Philadelphia Orchestra: August 11 – 14
Additional performances and events through Live Nation can be found on the organization’s website.