ZZ Top, Lynyrd Skynyrd join summer concert lineup at Scarborough Downs

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SCARBOROUGH — Waterfront Concerts announced the addition of a ZZ Top and Lynyrd Skynyrd show to the lineup of concerts scheduled at Scarborough Downs this year.

The classic rock giants will take the stage Friday, Sept. 7. Tickets prices range from $55.75 to $95.75.

The show is the third announced for Scarborough Downs. The schedule includes hip-hop darling Wiz Khalifa on July 31 and the heavy-metal showcase of Oxxfest – featuring Five Finger Death Punch, Killswitch Engage and more – on Aug. 10.

The concert promotion company has found success in Bangor after holding dozens of shows on the banks of the Penobscot. This summer, they’re bringing moe., Ted Nugent, Styx, The Beach Boys and Barenaked Ladies to the Queen City.  

ZZ Top and Lynyrd Skynyrd both played Waterfront Concerts shows in Bangor last year.

“Both were on Thursday nights, and both had huge turnouts,” promoter Alex Gray said. “The first one sold out, the second came close. It’s a really strong bill.”

Gray said more shows are will also be announced for Scarborough Downs this summer.

A town ordinance that prevented any organization from holding more than five “mass gatherings” a year was recently changed, in large part because of the increased interest from Scarborough Downs and Waterfront Concerts. It also reduced the fee for mass gathering permits for companies who already obtained one permit under the same structural and security plan.

“Clearly the trend, this summer included, suggests that we’re going to have more and more of these,” Town Manager Tom Hall said. “The changes recognize the fact that we’ll likely be working with a common promoter for multiple shows.”

“Once we have a relationship with that team, and they have all their planning and security procedures in place, the level of town review and involvement for subsequent events will be much lower than the first,” Hall added. 

The Downs will be configured to allow up to 11,000 concertgoers per show in the parking lot away from the track. Last year, the racetrack hosted its first large-scale concert, featuring country star Brad Paisley. Hall said there were a few noise complaints from neighbors, and that those residents were put in contact with Gray and Waterfront Concerts to address concerns about this summer’s show schedule.

Hall said noise problems will likely depend on the orientation of the stage. If the sound is directed toward U.S. Route 1 and Oak Hill, noise complaints are likely. But if the stage is pointed toward the marsh, no one will be bothered. 

Susan Higgins, marketing director for Scarborough Downs, said noise complaints come with the territory with large concerts. That’s the price a town pays, she said. for the impact large events have on a local economy.

“There will be a few complaints,” Higgins said. “But for the benefits, people will understand its a necessary evil for the the gain in the town.”

Higgins said Scarborough Downs decided to pursue more concerts after the Brad Paisley show last year. Gray is a good partner, she said, because of his success in Bangor, and because he also wanted to bring the summer concert model to southern Maine.

The harness racing track is still having money woes, Higgins said, thanks to a steep decline in harness racing bets in the past 10 years. Owner Sharon Terry still sees slot machines as the long-term solution to financial trouble, even though voters have rejected racino proposals three times, in 2002, 2008 and 2011.

The concerts will provide a financial “shot in the arm” for the Downs, Higgins said.

“People love concerts,” she said. “So it’s always good to partner up and do something fun. Plus, it could expose our property and our facility to people who have never been down this way.”

Tickets for Wiz Khalifa, Oxxfest and ZZ Top/Lynyrd Skynyrd are available online at waterfrontconcerts.com

Mario Moretto can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 106 or [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter: @riocarmine.