BANGOR, Maine — It's been a while since Darling's Waterfront Pavilion in Bangor has been loud and crowded, filled with people anxious to see their favorite artists take to the stage. The coronavirus pandemic has been full of bad news for concert-goers, as venues around the country have had to cancel their seasons, leaving spaces empty and quiet.
A Facebook post on Monday points to some good news for the venue, though. Darling's Waterfront Pavilion is undergoing renovations to help improve experiences for those attending concerts and events. The pictures included in the post provide insight into what some of those changes may be. Officials with Waterfront Concerts and the city of Bangor say they will include elevated seating for premium ticket holders, permanent bathrooms and concession stands, and better sloping of the lawn to improve visibility.
Construction started in January, but it was postponed when COVID-19 shut down the industry. Alex Gray with Waterfront Concerts says this project has been a long time in the making, after a number of storm water studies, sound studies, workshops, and sessions with the Bangor City Council and planning committee. This endeavor in its entirety has been going on since 2013 when the company moved to the waterfront, and Gray says it will likely cost more than 10 or 11 million dollars when completed.
At this point, that timeline is unclear because of the pandemic.
"Really, what we’re doing is looking forward to getting this project restarted in the very near future again," Gray told NEWS CENTER Maine. "We're looking for guidance from the state officials on what they see maybe for next summer."
Ideally, they will be able to put on socially-distanced or full capacity shows next summer, pending approval from officials. Tanya Emery, the director of community and economic development in Bangor, says getting that business back once it's safe is important to the city, too.
"The concerts and all of the events that we hold here in Bangor are a huge factor in the economy," Emery told NEWS CENTER Maine on the phone, explaining that businesses and shops have lost income as a result. "They bring people in from not just the greater Bangor area but all over the state -- the Atlantic provinces, New England. We’ve really become a destination."
The hope is that Darling's Waterfront Pavilion will continue to be a destination for visitors, since the goal of this updated venue is to help Bangor compete with bigger competition in the state and the region.
“It’s been a really tough year, so we’re very fortunate that Waterfront Concerts is committed to pursuing that expansion and modification of the venues -- so when they can reopen, they can do so safely in a way that will bring that driver back to Bangor’s economy," Emery expressed.
"I think we’ll overcome this, and we’ll get to the other side of it," Gray said.