TONAWANDA — A local promoter has backed out of a country western concert series planned for Tonawanda’s Gateway Harbor Park this summer.
Reszka & Associates, a marketing and communications firm in Williamsville, was set to bring seven Saturday night concerts between June and August back to the Erie Canal, four years after the Molson Concert Series moved to Lockport.
Founder Steve Reszka said Monday that several of his sponsors retreated from verbal agreements to fund the series for a combined total of approximately $100,000. Without it, Reszka said, he will be unable to bring in big name musical acts, which he previously stated cost between $10,000 and $40,000 for each performance.
“The money just wasn’t there,” Reszka said, adding he informed Mayor Rob Ortt of his situation last week. “We sent a letter and left a message and haven’t heard back from the city.”
A technology company, auto dealership and bank pulled the plug on funding earlier this year, Reszka announced last month. A fourth sponsor who he refused to identify also had given a verbal agreement to fund the concerts, then reneged.
A contract signed with the Lumber City last year contains a clause that gives Reszka until April 15 to drop out of the agreement. He first alerted Ortt of his predicament in February.
“It happens,” he said. “You try to line up all your sponsors, some of them back out. We’ve never had anything where our four main sponsors do that.”
Ortt expressed his disappointment Monday, stating that “Mr. Reszka’s failure to live up to his responsibility” was the cause of the cancellation.
“It seemed like a good fit,” Ortt said. “Unfortunately he wasn’t able to come through.”
Instead, the city is revamping its efforts and have already reached out to several other local promoters.
“We’re trying to see if we can put together a smaller series or get a couple of shows down there,” Ortt said.
Ortt said that when the city put out a request for proposals last year, it received only two responses: One from Reszka and another from promoter Kathy Paradowski, who ran the Molson Concert Series in North Tonawanda before moving it to Lockport and was only interested in holding concerts near the waterfront — something she had been bringing up for years — though Gratwick-Riverside Park was not city-owned property at the time, Ortt said.
At this point Paradowski will put on a one-time show at Gratwick that will feature rock music with an act that has yet to be declared. Meanwhile, the city will continue to search for a plan for Gateway.
“Right now given the timeframe the main focus is to get something down there that people can enjoy,” Ortt said. “I’m still hopeful.”
Contact reporter Michael Regan at 693-1000, ext. 4115.