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Still No Sign of Rain-Out Money from Hard Rock

By Frank Parlato

Hard Rock Cafe, Niagara Falls, NY

It’s been three weeks since the KC and the Sunshine Band concert on Old Falls Street was canceled due to rain.

The Hard Rock Café, which was paid $42,000 by the city to put on the concert, has not returned the money, according to City Controller Maria Brown.

The Reporter confirmed that as of press time, KC has not been rescheduled for another date here.
Is there a problem here?

There may be a financial problem for the local management of Hard Rock. Even if they didn’t have rain insurance, they still had to pay KC since the show had been cancelled. That is normally the case in every performance contract with talent acts.

 Purshasing rain or weather insurance is a common pratice by outdoor concert promoters. If bad weather forces cancellation, the insurance company pays the promoter to cover the cost of the act.

The cost of this insurance is usually between 5 and 10 percent of the cost of the act, promotional expenses, etc.. 

We placed a call to local Hard Rock Café manager Dominic Verni and asked him, since he was paid with taxpayer dollars, if he had purchased rain insurance.  His response: “I’m not answering any questions.”

 A call to Hard Rock’s PR firm, Coyne Public Relations was not returned.

Paragraph 8, section 2 of the Hard Rock’s contract with the city provides that “If the event does not take place for reasons attributable to … (acts of God, weather, etc.) Hard Rock Café agrees to use its best efforts to reschedule the event with the same artist, at a future date and time that is mutually agreeable to the City of Niagara Falls, Hard Rock Café and the artist.

“In the event rescheduling of the canceled event is not able to occur, Hard Rock Café agrees to immediately refund the city of Niagara Falls any money advanced or paid by the city of Niagara Falls.”

Sources at City Hall say Hard Rock is trying to avoid both repayment to the city and rescheduling KC and instead use the $42,000 paid to them for KC – an act which books for far less than $42,000 - toward a New Year’s Eve taxpayer - funded concert. 

Hard Rock officials said that they do not have to reveal details of how they spend the public’s money.

 John Hutchins, a concert promoter who has booked more than 100 concerts in Niagara Falls at his Rapids Theater on Main St., said KC “books for about half of what taxpayers paid Hard Rock to book him.

“KC and the Sunshine Band is what’s called a ‘legacy act,’” Hutchins explained. “They can’t sell tickets any more. They have played for free so many times that people say, ‘Why should we buy a ticket?’ And people who go to see them are older and do not drink a lot. No. KC doesn’t book for a lot of money.”

According to other booking agents contacted by the Reporter, KC books for not more than $30,000 and often the cost of hotel stays for the band.

The Reporter has long questioned the wisdom of city taxpayers paying what now totals $707,000 to a billion-dollar Florida corporation owned by the tax-free Seminole Nation to make a profit off acts like KC.

Hard Rock also gets the exclusive concessions for beer and food, which according to Hutchins is lucrative.

According to the city contract, Hard Rock is supposed to pay back the city the $42,000 they received for KC or reschedule the concert – which will require Hard Rock to pay KC again.

According to sources, Hard Rock is hoping to reschedule the concert. 

Since the act for the New Year’s Eve Hard Rock concert has not yet been announced, and $50,000 has been budgeted, if Hard Rock failed to get rain insurance for the KC event, and cannot reschedule KC, you might look for Hard Rock to seek to upgrade the cost of the New Year’s Eve act - burying some of the KC money into it, and booking a cheaper act to make up the difference for the KC loss.

 The Reporter will be on the lookout for the return of the money to the city, a rescheduling of KC, where the money goes and who is booked for the New Year’s Eve taxpayer-funded concert. 



Niagara Falls Reporter www.niagarafallsreporter.com Aug 28 , 2012