PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Three Dog Night could be bringing joy to historic Wahconah Park this summer.
The Parks Commission on Thursday approved a request from Berkshire Radio Group Vice President Peter Barry to use the park on Saturday, Aug. 26, for the concert. Barry is in the "exploratory phase" of possibly putting on the concert and needed to secure the city's permission to use the field before booking the band.
The company puts on concerts throughout the year, ranging in size from the Live on the Lake and Party in the Park series to smaller venues at the Colonial. But Three Dog Night is a level up in both cost and draw so Barry began looking for a bigger location to hold the show.
"Our general outline would be not to exceed a big night at the Suns," Barry said. "The Fourth of July is around 3,000 so we were thinking of capping it at 2,500 people so we know we are not having a crowd that hadn't been there regularly and creates any kind of problem that hasn't already been addressed."
Barry said the doors would open that night at 5:30 and the show would kick off at 7:30. The Pittsfield Suns, the baseball team that leases the park during the summer, will be handling food and beverage sales and security. Barry hasn't determined ticket prices yet but said general admission would likely cost somewhere in the $45 range and premium seating in the $65 area.
"Our goal is to make it affordable for the masses, pretty much. If we did it in a smaller venue, the ticket prices would be $100 plus. That's why we were looking for a larger venue," Barry said.
The concept is to have a stage in left field with some 500 "premium seats" set up in the outfield closest to the stage. The rest of the venue would be general admission and guests would be bringing their own chairs or blankets.
The city's Parks and Open Spaces Manager Jim McGrath said the city does have a field use policy that requires a $325 fee for the evening, that the event producer pay for two city's park staff to be on hand to oversee the facility, and that the promoter pay for the use of the field lights.
"It attempts to cover our costs and protects our interest in the city," McGrath said.
Parks Commissioner Joe Durwin questioned the security, asking if there should be additional police officers on staff. Pittsfield Suns General Manager Kristen Huss said she contracts for two police officers on the Fourth of July, easily the biggest night every year for the ball club. At a wrestling event last year, she had three. In both cases there was adequate coverage, she said.
"Security would depend on ticket sales," Barry said, clarifying that while the event may be capped at 2,500 people he doesn't know exactly how many tickets will be sold.
The Parks Commission is asking for the chief of police to weigh in on the security needed.
Wahconah Park does pose an additional challenge with the weather. The park has been known to flood after heavy rains. Barry would be buying rain insurance in case the event has to be canceled. But, that insurance is based on how much rain falls in a given number of hours before the event. It would be difficult to get an agreement on how soggy the field would be.
"We want to make certain we are not damaging the facility. We will do everything we can to get this off if it looks like we can do that. But we can't guarantee about the weather," McGrath said.
McGrath said Barry will just have to be in touch with the city approaching the event to help figure out the best way to manage the field conditions. The commissioner discussed tarps and other methods of protecting the field if needed, but that will have to be decisions for later times.
"The view from Wahconah Street is not emblematic of the condition of the soils within the baseball facilities. The field drains pretty well. But it is super soggy, it is not going to be fun for anyone," he said.
The concert hasn't been set in stone but the city is amenable to bringing music back to the park. Wahconah Park has been the site of a few large concerts in the past, including Bob Dylan and Willie Nelson, but nothing recently.
Three Dog Night had a number of hits throughout the 1970s including "Joy to the World," "Mama Told Me Not to Come" and "One."
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