Thursday, 02 May 2024 14:13

Belmont on Broadway: Blues Traveler to Headline Free Belmont Fest Kick-Off Concert on Broadway

Blues Traveler. Photo Provided. Blues Traveler. Photo Provided.

SARATOGA SPRINGS — A six-day festival in June anticipated to produce an economic impact in 2024 of more than $50 million will feature a free kick-off concert on Broadway with the band Blues Traveler, officials announced during a May 1 press conference at the Skip Scirocco Music Hall at Saratoga Springs. 

Nicknamed “Belmont on Broadway,” dozens of local business, tourism and government leaders were on hand for the announcement of a multifaceted celebration being planned for the week of the 2024 Belmont Stakes Racing Festival. 

 “Not only is the Belmont going to help economically for the city, but it’s going to put us on a pedestal that’s going to be worldwide,” said Saratoga Springs Mayor John Safford, “This is just going to bring it to a whole new level.” 

With construction ongoing at Long Island’s Belmont Park in 2024 and 2025, the Belmont Stakes Racing Festival will shift to Saratoga Race Course over the next two years. Racing days in 2024 will begin on Thursday, June 6, continue through Sunday, June 9 and will be highlighted by the 156th edition of the Belmont Stakes - the third leg of the Triple Crown - on Saturday, June 8. 

Belmont on Broadway activities, slated to take place June 4 through June 9, will include a downtown window decorating contest, a pre-festival event called Embrace the Belmont, and a variety of other events including the free, outdoor concert with Blues Traveler, which will take place on Wednesday, June 5. 

The concert will start at approximately 6 p.m. (with Blues Traveler going on around 8:30) and end promptly at 10 p.m. The stage will be set directly on Broadway adjacent to the City Center and face south. Broadway will be closed likely from Van Dam to City Hall the day of the show, said Saratoga Springs City Center Executive Director Ryan McMahon. 

Organizers anticipate 5,000 to 10,000 people to attend the event. Opening bands participating in the all-ages free concert as well as satellite parking, shuttle options, and additional weeklong activities will be announced leading up to the June 4-9 festival.    

“We’re anticipating people will be coming up a little earlier in the week (prior to the June 6 race day start), so that’s why we’re trying to create these opportunities for people to have fun things to do, opportunities to engage with our community. And our hotels are definitely seeing some occupancy earlier in the week, so that tells you some good things,” said Discover Saratoga President Darryl Leggieri. “It’s also something for our locals. Doing this free concert downtown, I want locals to know they’re welcomed too, they’re a part of this, were celebrating together.” 

What will be interesting to learn is whether the staging of the Belmont in Saratoga brings different visitors to the area, compared with visitors who flock to Saratoga during the New York Racing Association’s annual July-to-September summer meet.   

“Everyone is going to learn off the first year, and we can build on that in the second year,” said NYRA President & CEO David O’Rourke, who spoke at this week’s presser. “It’s a new big event. You have the Whitney, the Travers, and now The Belmont,” O’Rourke said. “You might see more of an international (crowd); it’s typically on another level in terms of international exposure - and then if you have a Triple Crown, that’s just going to change the dynamic.”       

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