Poll: What attracts you to SPAC?

Saratoga Performing Arts Center (Times Union Archive)

A recent announcement by SPAC suggests that the rising costs of the New York City Ballet may put the ballet’s annual presence at the venue at risk. This has caused some consternation among fans of City Ballet, considering the ballet’s summer residency at SPAC is often cited as one of the reasons why taxpayers helped foot the bill for the creation of SPAC in 1966.

Times change, and SPAC has been changing its offerings — in addition to the ballet, SPAC presents the Philadelphia Orchestra, Jazz Fest, Chamber Music Festival, modern dance (this year it is Bill T. Jones), Saratoga Opera, Wine and Dine festival, and even a 5K run (which is this Sunday) that features Capital Region bands playing along the route — to meet changing tastes. The SPAC box office, by the way, opens for the season today.

For an upcoming column, I’m wondering what attracts you to SPAC. Use the poll tool below to check off the things that have brought you to SPAC in the past. You can check as many as you’d like. Use the comments section below for any comments. The results and comments may be used in a column slated to run May 20.

[poll id=”95″]


35 thoughts on “Poll: What attracts you to SPAC?

  1. SPAC for the Orchestra, Ballet, and smaller concerts is awesome. It’s beautiful, it’s one-of-a-kind. Live Nation concerts bring me out to SPAC more than any other event, but it’s not because of the venue… it’s because of the performer. For a large rock show, I have one major complaint… they sell too many tickets. 25,000 people at that venue is WAY too many. It makes the lawn unbearable (I’ll skip a show if I have to resort to a lawn ticket) and traffic and parking unbearable. If they sold only 12,000-15,000 tickets for rock shows at SPAC it would be one of the best venues in the country. But, since they’ll sell 25,000 for a large show, it’s one of the worst.

  2. I grew up going to SPAC for concerts as a kid and loved it there. I’ve only been to two shows there in the last couple of summers – once inside and once on the lawn. I can safely say that I will not be returning. Maybe I’m too old for SPAC now. Places like the Palace Theater and The Egg are much more comfortable, more accommodating, host better artists, and have much better crowds.

  3. Overall I think the venus is beautiful and I love it being in the park. Gorgeous park. But the sound quality is terrible and that whole inside pavillion indoor seating thing needs to be ripped out and redone. Looks terribly dated as well.

    The most beautiful place I’ve seen is Bethel Woods. SPAC should take notes from those people.

  4. SPAC management needs a lobotomy. The beer garden petting zoo is an insult to responsible adults, the jack boot tactics in the park might be worse and Live Nation is basically what’s wrong with the music industry. Other than that, I love going to SPAC.

  5. After going to many concerts in other venues, I have finally come to the conclusion, that the SPAC officials attempts at making their patrons feel unwelcome and unappreciated far outweigh any enjoyment any one performer could bring. Perfect point is our annual trek to the Comcast Center (previously Great Woods) for a wonderful day of fun followed up by a great concert with Jimmy Buffett. In three years, have I never seen one altercation or problem – this is with the parking lot opening at 11:00 and the concert not happening until 8:00p.

  6. Years of patron abuse a the hands of Chesbrough and his thugs pretty much forever discouraged our family from going to SPAC for anything. Haven’t been there in years. Now Tanglewood,….

  7. SPAC has become an awful place for concerts. They treat everyone like they are criminals (i.e. bag checks, cattle “beer” garden, etc.), and Live Nation’s prices are outrageous.

    Not to mention they bring back the same 10 bands every single year, and none of them (except maybe DMB) are current. Don’t get me wrong, I like a lot of these bands, but how many times do I really need to see Def Leppard, Phish, Chicago, Journey, Goo Goo Dolls, Poison, Motley Crue, etc. It’s really a shame because until about 10 years ago I loved going there, but now…

  8. let’s see:
    1) parking 5 miles away
    2) $15 water
    3) drunk morons on the lawn
    4) 5 hours to get out of the parking lot
    what’s not to love.

  9. The majority of people who attend SPAC events are going to Live Nation concerts. As sad as it may seem, the performing arts hosted at SPAC are dependent apon the revenue generated from Live Nation paying SPAC $1 million a year to put on the concerts. I bet Live Nation and Aramark make triple that in profits from ticket and vending sales. With that said, the performing arts still operate at a loss each year.

    I’ve been attending concerts at SPAC for well over 20 years. The best part of old SPAC concert experience was the park. Concerts were all day events. We would bbq in the park all afternoon, toss a frisbee around, have a few cold ones, then go see a great show with a killer atmosphere. Back then, a beer inside SPAC was 5 bucks and you could take it back to your seat.

    Then the yearly DMB party in the park finally ruined everything and reigned in the ‘new’ SPAC experience era. Park Police acted like the Gestapo, a beer garden was created to hoard everyone like cattle, and worse of all you couldn’t hear the music in the beer garden.

    Today, the beer garden is long gone. However, we now pay the price for this freedom: $15 22oz cans of beer or $12 drafts. It costs more for a beer and hotdog at SPAC than at Yankee Stadium.

    Conclusion: You can’t bbq in the park before a concert without being hassled by police, you can’t afford to buy a beer inside, you can’t afford an inside seat, and the last time a band came through that I liked enough to put up with this “new SPAC experience” was when Velvet Revolver and Alice in Chains played almost 6 years ago.

  10. The comments above prety much speak everything about the place and how it is pretty much ruined from what the place once was.
    A few people are making money on the Spac payroll and everyone else is expected to pick up the gross tabs of losing productions.
    My wife and I heard that the kids band called Fresh Beat Band is coming in September, We would like to take our 4 year old grandson who is a fan.
    Tickets are 39.50 for a decent seat, tack on the other thirevery charges and it comes to 52.00 a ticket.
    I will probably pay for the three tickets but Ms. White should wear a mask when she cashes her check every week while charging people this type of money to see a kid’s concert from nickelodeon.
    Don’t even attempt to give me the demand line, noone goes to the ballet and they want big bucks for that losing money grabbing production.

  11. a lot of (reasonable) negative comments about the LiveNation shows in here… and I’m on board with that (primarily, as I mentioned, overselling tickets).
    However, I love SPAC for the Orchestra shows. And, believe it or not, I love the lawn for an orchestra show… you can bring your chair/blanket and all the food and drink you want. that’s cool.

  12. I have been attending concerts at SPAC since 1990 when I saw my first concert there (Steve Miller Band). While I have had some great times there, I really don’t want to go anymore if I have to sit on the lawn. The only time the lawn is enjoyable for me is when it’s not too crowded. But, when I go to see Phish (or other similarly packed show) the lawn sucks. The sounds quality is sub-par and standing shoulder-to-shoulder on a steep slope is about as fun as it sounds. I think the sound quality inside the amphitheater is great, especially if you’re in the center. I agree with others that Bethel Woods is amazing.

  13. Boy, I used to really love SPAC. Great atmosphere, really enjoyed it. And even my recent shows there, haven’t been bad, depending on the act. Of course like everything else fun, irresponsibility and corporate greed have ruined it and now I am lucky if I go every other year. Unfortunately, it is tough to separate feelings about SPAC and those of LiveNation as the outrageous prices for shows are the reason you either don’t go or harbor some resentment when you do. And also, is it really necessary to charge $12 for a beer?

  14. “They’ve sucked the fun out of the place?”

    Obviously that comment came from somebody who wasn’t there before there was a beer garden of any kind and when the “security” consisted of a bunch of brown shirted thugs with masochistic tendencies. It was rarely fun then. Of course it’s way overpriced and a logistical and acoustic nightmare. Don’t go.

    Go to listen to the orchestra, watch the ballet and enjoy the jazz festival. At those events you get treated like a human being so long as you act like one, which is all one could ask for.

  15. NYCBallet has been doing a great job marketing over the past year or two. Maybe SPAC should comment and show up on their links. It seems crazy that the best ballet company in the world can’t make it at a summer home like Saratoga. I always thought of Saratoga as a home to the arts. Seems others care only about the track and bars.

    I’d like to go to a concert as I did years ago, but I don’t usually see something that strikes me.

    It seems SPAC has a bit of an identity crisis. I want to see it succeed. It needs a better vibe.

  16. $12 beers, penned in like animals to drink it, harassment in the parking lots and park from the cops, accosted by people taking ‘donations’ for the food bank – which ordinarily I would not have a problem with, but all the $ went to NYC, so I will not donate a dime. NYC gets the bulk of the tax $ and now this? It’s like upstate doesn’t matter at all. Ticket prices jacked up on the day of the show for no reason – shall I go on? Perhaps Jazz and orchestra concerts are more enjoyable, but I’m done with the place.

  17. SPAC was a grand experiment in the late 60s and it’s offerings were sustained for quite a number of years. However, little was effectively done to develop new and younger audiences for the NYC Ballet. Now, some 45 years later, the NYCB’s costs are astronomical and they offer the same, old tired programs. If anyone is surprised that there are so few “fannies in the seats” at the ballet, do a reality check. SPAC must become relevant again and that may mean exploring new dance companies who are fresh and interesting, and cost-reasonable. Nothing is forever!

  18. Sorry, Jack, I could not let your widely believed misstatement of fact (“NYC gets the bulk of the tax $ and now this?”) stand uncorrected.

    “New York City and its suburbs paid 72 percent of the taxes and received about 58 percent back in state aid for education, Medicaid and other government programs. The rest of the state put in 28 percent and got back 42 percent in state aid, the report said.”

  19. I avoid SPAC like the plague. For rock concerts at least. The Nazi-like harassment of patrons has gotten so far out of hand I’m surporised anyone still goes there. Only concert I’ve been to for many years was Peter Gabriel because I won tix and just couldn’t bring myself to miss it.

    Classical shows and the jazzfest are better.

  20. The NYCB is the main attraction for me, followed by the orchestra and then the opera. I used to go to the pop concerts, but I hate dealing with the Live Nation ticketing.

  21. Joe Brown is so right. They have sucked the fun out of this place and try and not to support. I will travel to Bethel Mills center for the Arts you can have fun there. You aren’t treated like a child.

  22. WELL! I guess I was feeling nostalgic for SPAC until I read these comments….and find myself in complete agreement with most of them! My first concert was Seals & Croft in…’72? or ’73. Took a youth group bus from Menands for 2 bucks…I think the concert was 2 or 3 bucks to sit on the lawn. Been going ever since…up until a few years ago when Live Nation took over the place. Saw some great shows over the years and that will have to sustain me. Been to SPAC twice in the last half-decade. And that was because I had won tickets. Even got hassled last year by NYS Park PD in the VIP lot! My advice to SPAC mgt.: Go to Bethel Woods and see how it SHOULD be done. Great people, and I mean it! I can’t tell you how many employees asked me how I enjoyed the Deep Purple show and if I had any problems/complaints, as I left the venue. Parking is great, food is MUCH better, sight lines are fantastic, great acoustics. Yes, it’s a bit of a drive from the Capital District, but there have been many acts booked there that did not play at SPAC. Too bad we have such a “jewel” as I have seen it referred to, and it is just turning people off to attending a show. What a waste.

  23. I wouldn’t go to SPAC on a bet. The people who run the place are overpaid bureaucrats who don’t know Justin Bieber from Marvin Gaye, Kenny G from John Coltrane. They’ve sold its soul to Live Nation. The classical and dance side isn’t any better. It’s all about product now, and not very good product at that.

    SPAC has become a living lesson on how to ruin a performing arts center.

    The late, unlamented Herb Chesbrough regime made Third World dictatorships look good by comparison; replacing him with one of Joe Bruno’s staff people would be humorous except that it isn’t.

    ISPAC is an obscene joke, a state-subsidized opportunity to enrich the rich and rip off the rest of us. We can do better.

  24. The other part of the phrase, “…history with the Philadelphia Orchestra, including 20 summers as artistic director of its performances at a festival in Saratoga Springs, N.Y.” is also interesting.

    Kudos to Charles for the two decades of SPAC artistic direction which have garnered nothing but praise here and elsewhere.

  25. That reference to the artistic direction was a tongue in cheek comment thrown in to amuse, and those don’t transfer well to print.

  26. Perhaps SPAC will be getting Rafael Frubeck instead of Rafael Fruhbeck. Years ago I had a friend who thought he got a good deal on a stereo because it had a famous brand name. Panatronic.

  27. after reading the reviews about the concerts, i must say, must people haven’t a clue to what they wrote about.they said security are goons and cause problems. Um, not quite. They only act when people get rowdy and cause problems. Oh wait, that’s what the public wants when it goes to Spac.the right to get rowdy and cause problems.My bad. 12 dollar beers? do you really need to drink beer at a concert? If your drinking so much that it breaks your bank account, try joining AA. Stop whinning about things and enjoy life, You don’t like Spac, don’t go. I don’t.Nothing there for me to see.I’d rather go downtown on a weekend night and watch the bar fights. Now that’s entertainment.

  28. #38: Hmmm…..if “your” drinking? Stop “whinning”? Another well-“edumacated” opinion by a Saratoga know-nothing booster.

  29. mickey. sorry dude.not a booster.read what i wrote. i don’t go to SPAC for any shows.Wouldn’t a booster go to them. However, i know way more than you do about what goes on there.Hmmmmm, wonder how that can be? your reply speaks volumes about people who haven’t a clue, but please continue to amuse me.

  30. You’re right Don. I had given up checking it out since it seemed to be abandoned.

    Calling it a blog is a bit of a stretch though, since it seems to be merely a dumping ground for press releases, with no interaction between her and readers.

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