It turns out last August’s Eddie Money concert was just the opening act to a growing partnership between the city and Hard Rock Cafe.

The two sides are finalizing a contract to bring three free outdoor concerts featuring national acts to the downtown area this summer. The series, which would kick-off June 13 in conjunction with the Border Water Treaty Centennial Celebration, received support at Monday’s Tourism Advisory Board meeting.

Susan Swiatkowski, sales and marketing manager for the Niagara Falls Hard Rock, said the list of performers isn’t ready to be announced yet but will include artists with universal appeal who can attract families to the area. If possible, the talent won’t be scheduled to play anywhere else in the area this summer.

“We are the Hard Rock Cafe, we would not put people on stage we’re not proud of,” she said.

The contract agreement, which still needs to be supported by the mayor and City Council, calls for the city to cover the costs of the performers, provide security, portable restrooms and garbage clean up and all legal permits required. The Hard Rock would book the talent, handle promotions and advertising and a number of other secondary responsibilities.

Last August, the city spent $32,500 to partner with the restaurant to bring rocker Eddie Money downtown. That event attracted an estimated 5,000 people, leading to discussions to expand on the partnership. While the city lost money on that venture, Councilman Samuel Fruscione is hoping the costs of this summer’s series can be recouped through parking rentals in the city’s ramp and spin-off business.

“The bottom line is it puts us on the map,” Fruscione said.

The city’s share of the cost for the three concerts is still being calculated, he added, and officials are looking for sponsorships. The first concert’s partner is the Border Water Treaty Centennial Committee and it was scheduled as a commencement event for the centennial celebration, which is expected to attract thousands of visitors between Canada and America.

The second and third concerts are scheduled for July 11 and sometime in August.

All of the concerts will be held at the Old Falls Street west mall area, which is undergoing a reconstruction and redesign as part of a $7.9 million state and city project. If the walkway is not completed in time for the June 13 concert, Swiatkowski said the backup plan is to have the show near the Hard Rock and the old Flight of Angels balloon site, where Eddie Money had played.

Tourism Advisory Board Chairman Jerry Genova said the new series will complement the other free outdoor concerts already sponsored by the city downtown and in front of the Niagara Arts and Cultural Center.

“Not only is this a great investment but it’s the infancy stage of everything we’ve been working on over the past few years,” he said.

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