MARTINEZ -- A concert at the John Muir Amphitheater scheduled for October has been pushed back to next spring because the city couldn't book the headliner.
The city had been negotiating with Tower of Power, but they are unable to perform Oct. 11, in Martinez due to a clause in contracts with other Bay Area venues prohibiting the band from doing additional shows in the same time period at nearby concert halls.
The city will work on rescheduling the show for a date in April or May, and will consider Tower of Power and other headliners, according to Mitch Austin, community services contract manager for Martinez.
"Even though we are disappointed about not having Tower of Power in October, we also see this as an opportunity to enhance and expand the first event with more community involvement, sponsorship, venue improvement and entertainment to deliver an even more exciting concert experience," Austin wrote in an email.
The city has been working with Prime Time Entertainment, which produces the concert series at Wente Vineyards in Livermore and has put on musical events for corporate clients and cities, including Fremont and San Ramon.
The company, which has an in-house publicity and production staff, also has booked acts for Main Street Martinez. If the spring show is successful, city leaders plan to put on a concert series beginning in late summer 2014.
Martinez would be responsible for covering all the expenses for the event, including marketing, the headliner's fee, and sound, lighting and staging equipment rental. Earlier this month, the City Council allocated $49,750 from the general fund to pay for a concert with Tower of Power.
To minimize the city's contribution, Austin has been working to line up at least $15,000 from corporate sponsors. So far, Allied Waste has signed on, he said.
If the city books Tower of Power, sells just over half the tickets and meets revenue targets for sponsorships, concessions, parking and merchandise, the staff projects that Martinez will lose $4,575. If the show is almost a sellout, the city would realize a profit of $12,300, which would fund future concerts.
During the Aug. 8 special meeting, council members Lara DeLaney and Anamarie Avila Farias expressed concern about the city putting up nearly $50,000 for the event. But City Manager Phil Vince explained that if tickets don't sell and the concert is canceled, the city likely would lose $15,000 to $18,000.
"I'm glad to hear that if (things) do go bad it would be more in the realm of $18,000 that we'd be on the hook for, not $50,000," said Farias, the only one who voted against allocating the funds. "But it's a little nerve-racking and I'm not really comfortable with that."
Councilman Mark Ross argued that selling tickets to an arts event is always a gamble.
"The reason we're doing this is to see not only if the venue is a viable attraction for concertgoers and it's a viable venue to have a concert series," he said, "but to convince people and sponsors that the city will be fully behind having a series and will be fully behind shows that it presents."
Lisa P. White covers Martinez and Pleasant Hill. Contact her at 925-943-8011. Follow her at Twitter.com/lisa_p_white.